« PreviousContinue »
into the dark eyes, and met the loving earnest ayah's arms, and sobbed, and sobbed, in her frantie gaze which was fixed on her.
grief. “I will go with thee, darling, to the end of the At last, the morning of the funeral came the world—I will follow thee through life, dear one,” great black hearse stood at the door; friends in and tbe Indian clasped the fair English girl to her the mourning coaches were ready to accompany breast.
their lost companion to the grave. The orphan And now Florence was supremely happy ; she girl crept to the window of her bedroom, and would have been happier, however, if she could looked at the sad, cold, unfeeling pageant. Two have taken India with her to England ; she would gentlemen in the first carriage were talking in a have liked to pack ap and transport everything, totally unconcerned manner; one smiled at somefrom the great Himalayan chain, to the poor little thing the other said, that smile struck to ber dooreah who tended her four-footed favourites ; but heart- how could any smile when the atmosphere as these wishes were not very practicable, she was was so charged with grief. The gloomy procession fain to content herself with ber modicum of avail passed on, and Florence felt that she was indeed able moveables, and her dearly loved ayah.
alone in the world. A few more months, and India was the dream, That day wore away, and the next, and the England the reality. The Colonel's health did not next, and then the clergyman called to see Florence. improve; twenty years' residence in the tropics The doctor followed him. had done their work, his constitution was ruined. Now the doctor was a good man, and, moreover, He retired on half-pay, and his income not being he had a wife as excellent as himself. The doctor sufficient to supply his somewhat luxurious tastes was, besides, a practical man. Nearly sixty years in England, he went to Jersey, and pitched his of life had rolled over his bead, and in those sixty tent in St. Helier's.
years he had seen a little of life's experience. He The place suited lim : wine, spirits, and cigars had, as the saying is, "lived with his eyes open." could all be had cheaply ; perhaps the Colonel did He had used those physical orbits, for the common not admire the quality of these Jersey adjuncts; purposes of life, for seeing and ascertaining the but he was very glad, faute de mieux, to avail bim- state of patients among other things; his mental self of their cheapness; so after a few weeks, he vision was directed to the less common purpose of resigned himself very contentedly to a Jersey life. scanning the intricacies of human action, and He furnished the house which he took expensively; looking beneath the surface of human nature ; his table was the best appointed in the island; he thus he had learnt to see the cloud behind the talked of buying horses ; in fact, he seemed to sunshine, the tinsel under the gilding. With a forget that he had no longer his Indian income to microscopic gaze, he examined the stream of society, depend on. He gave dinners, balls, &c., entered and discovered the animalcule impurity of the fully into the gaiety of the place, forgetting the Auid. ruinous effect of that gaiety on his purse—forget- In accordance with his usual custom, be bad ting the irretrievable injury it was doing to his discussed (per se) the career of the colonel and his child, who was learning rapidly to care for nothing daughter, as soon as they appeared in the meridian but that gaiety ; and crave for the excitement it of St. Heliers. When every one else praised afforded.
them, and expatiated on their liberality and their He liked to see her admired, and sought after; be wealth, a wealth which was argued from their was justly proud of her, but his pride took the wrong extravagant mode of living, the doctor made 19 bent. It was only "skin deep pride,” he never reply, did not even shrug his shoulders—whaterer cultivated or cared to see intrinsic worth in her ; bis thoughts were, he kept those thoughts to himnever cared to hear her mind or character extolled; self. her beauty, her grace were the themes which he Wise doctors will always act as this one did (at loved to hear dwelt on, and the Jersey world could least, wise doctors in Jersey will). They must and did discourse to him of these. Thus Florence vot enjoy the independence of a shrug, or a dislived in a perfect “whirl;" reflection was destroyed senting opinion, when their patients have flattering by the petty buzzing of that whirl ; thought things said of them. quenched by the flood of frivolity poured on it. But from various observations, the conclusion
But a warning came-a check was given to this which Dr. Gage arrived at with regard to Colonel heedless state of things. The colonel was taken Glennie was, that so far from being a rich man, suddenly, seriously ill; and almost before medical he was a remarkably poor one ; and as for admiraid could be obtained, he had ceased to breathe. ing his hospitality, I am very much afraid the pril His child seemed stunned by this blow; she had boxes in his surgery (only the pill boxes, nothing never thought of death. Her mother had died else), one night heard bim mutter sometbizz when she was very young, so that she had scarcely about “Worthless old idiot, to bring up that giri ever realised the idea of having bad a mother, in extravagance, and leave her as an inheritancecertainly never had thought about her death; and beggary.” now for the iron hand to enter into her home, It was singularly ungrateful, really too bad, for and in the midst of life seize her father!-it was the doctor was at that very time making up a dose a fearful thought. She threw herself into the for the "worthless old idiot." When the colocel
died, the doctor, as a consequence of the conclu- | Courcy very well by reputation. He had heard sions he had arrived at, could not help wondering of her balls, her parties, her dinners, her soppers, what would become of Florence. He did not and he had heard of another little circumstance in simply keep on wondering in an unproductive connection with these fêtes ; this "little circummanner, but he wondered until he wanted to help stance” was, the fact of her borrowing certain her, and offer her the protection he feared she little odd sums of ten, fifteen, twenty pounds, needed.
or even more, from any one who would lend to Now, instead of going stupidly to work by her. bimself, and making some egregious blunder, he, Now, the doctor very justly thought that such like a sensible man, consulted his wife on the a woman would not be a very safe or creditable subject; and she, with her woman's tact, at once guide for the beautiful Florence Glennie; so he decided the problem, which had cost him two determined, that he would be neither aider nor sleepless nights and two fidgetty days.
abettor, in the scheme of their liviug together. “Go and ask Miss Glennie to come and stay “I cannot second your ladyslip's move," he with us, Alexander (the doctor's name was Alex replied, " for the very reason that I have a rival ander; in his youth this had been abbreviated to claim to set up. I came here on the same errand,
Aleck,' but now bis better balf, not approving and my good wife having forbidden me to return the shorter cognomen, always addressed him by alone, I shall be placed in the predicament of the his full title); bring her here, and I will find out Wandering Jew, if I advance your claim in preferwhat she ought to do; she's as ignorant as a baby ence to my claim." of all money matters, and I dare say, fancies she Lady de Courcy laughed, and managed to display will be able to live as she has done already. Now, a very fine set of teeth. She had studied her go at once Alexander, and bring the poor girl laugh before the looking-glass, and knew exactly home. Here are your gloves. What ! you must the amount of risibility she might indulge in, stop to make up Jones's pills ? nonsense, I can do without betraying the horrible fact of one or two that. I know the prescription—asafætida, etc. grinders being missing. I'm sure Miss Glennie is of far more
“I dare not,” she replied “run the risk of your quence than that asthmatic old Jones ; so be off, undergoing so terrible a penance, my dear doctor, my dear, at once, and don't come back without - ( dear doctor,' mentally soliloquised Dr. Gage, her."
• she wants to borrow money, ')-but I will yield The doctor's inclinations jumped with his wife's. my claim only on one condition—that Miss Glennie Florence obtained his care; Jones and his pills comes to me after she has been to you.” were disposed of by the female Esculapius.
“We are disposing of Miss Glennie in a very Dr. Gage walked up Bath-street, and then di- unceremonious manner, Lady de Courcy,” he re verged to the left, taking a quieter route to Miss plied ; "all this time she has not said one word Glennie's house. He wanted a little more time for herself, and we have been tossing her to and for thought than the direct road would have given fro between us. Let us hear her own opinion on him ; for he was rather afraid of himself, as many the subject, at any rate.” other good people are when they meditate the per- Florence looked up timidly, first at the doctor, formance of a kind action.
then at Lady de Courcy; she was hesitating when All the divergence in the world would not pre- the latter broke in. vent him arriving at Miss Glennie's house at last. “You had better accept Dr. Gage's invitation The longest lane has a turning, and so the doctor for the present, Florence,” she said, " and come found, when he turned out of the lane, or rather to me at Christmas.” street, he had been perambulating, and found him- Lady de Courcy belonged to that class of women self at Miss Glennie's door. His inquiries as to who, not able to exist without the excitement of whether she were at home or not, being answered gaiety, and no longer attractive themselves, seek in the affirmative, he walked in. She was sit- to make their houses fascinating through the me. ting on the sofa, looking very sad, but very dium of the young and lovely faces found there. She lovely, and listening attentively to a lady who knew, that for the next three or four months, stood beside her. The introduction—"Lady Florence neither could nor would mingle with de Courcy, Dr. Gage,”-proclaimed that lady's society; so she determined to let the doctor have name.
her for that time, and secure her for herself during The doctor, for some reason or other, looked the winter. annoyed; but the annoyance soon passed away, Dr. Gage's invitation, therefore, was accepted, and he entered into conversation with Lady de and Lady de Courcy having taken her leave, FloCourcy.
rence prepared to accompany the doctor. She “I am glad you are here, doctor," she said, was sad and weary when she reached the doctor's "for you will help me to enforce a petition wbich house, and the tears rolled down her cheeks as the I have already presented. I want Miss Glennie good doctor's wife kissed and whispered comfort to come and take up her abode with me; do per- to her. But in a few days she became domestisuade her to do so.”
cated in her new home, and then, when her abode The doctor looked grave. He knew Lady de was known, notes and letters, addressed to Miss
Glennie, came in flocks; they seemed to fly like have been the cause of no nervousness at all, while swallows; one always appeared to be waiting out the former was a terrible affair. side the hall door, and as soon as that door He advanced then, to the place where she was was opened, flew straight up to the drawing, sitting, and placing his hand on her head, said,
“ Come into the
I want to say The greater part of these missives were notes a few words to you, my child." in maturity—that is to say, they had grown into Florence looked as if she expected him to take letters, while few retained their infantine size. her head off; but she rose and followed him, and Now it happened, that the larger ones were just took the seat which he placed beside him for her. looked at by Florence, and then thrown aside, And now came the tug of war for the good doctor. while the smaller were looked at and put into the “Miss Glennie-Florence," he began, “it is nepocket. On more than one occasion, it chanced cessary for me to consult with you as to the arthat the rejected epistles came in the doctor's way, rangements consequent on the death of your poor and he, instead of neglecting, picked them up, and father. Nay, my child, don't cry; we must all go put them in his writing desk. Indeed, he seemed to our long home some day. Do you know if he to watch for them, at last, and as their number ever made a will ?--for none can be found.” increased, sighed deeply as he consigned them to
Florence looked up in surprise. “I don't think their resting place.
he ever did,” she replied. “I remember his The writing desk was in the surgery; so perlaps speaking to my uncle Edward once on the subject, the pill-boxes knew what the sighs meant, and but I do not know the result of their conversation." wherefore the good doctor so carefully guarded
“Where does your uncle live ?" those great awkward-looking letters; but if he had
“He is with his regiment in Ireland." whispered the secret to them, they kept his counsel, and never betrayed it.
“ You must write to him, and ask him to come
here. Take this sheet of paper, and do it at At last, one evening the doctor-as he was drinking his glass of Schiedam before the firestartled his wife by suddenly pronouncing her
Florence evidently thought of crying again ; but
the doctor bad no intention of letting her do any. name. Dorothy," he said, “ have you ever,spo- thing of the kind ; so she restrained her tears, and ken to that poor child about money matters P”
wrote her letter. In about ten days an answer Mrs. Gage resigned the stocking she was darn- arrived. That answer was neither kind nor satis. ing, took off her spectacles, wiped them, put them factory. Captain Glennie informed Dr. Gage in a into their case, and prepared to enter into the
note which he enclosed in bis letter to Florence, subject in a methodical and business-like way.
that his brother never had made a will. Having “ I began about it,” she continued, "soon after always lived up to his income be bad little proshe came here, but the poor thing cried so bitterly perty to leave, and that little would of course, he that I conld not bear to distress her ; so I said no added, belong to the Colonel's only child Flomore for a day or two. Then I again alluded to her father's money affairs. As I expected, she Then came his note to Florence. Her uncle knew nothing except that he had given her ten advised her to consult the doctor in all things as pounds the day before his death to buy some finery. to her future life; he reminded her that she had -The doctor sighed as he sipped his Schiedam. nothing but her pension to depend on, besides the --She has an uncle in England, and I advised her property her father might have left her, and he to write to him, and tell him to come here; but concluded by telling her to think of matrimony she always cries when she begins the letter. I
as a means of maintenance ! think you had better talk to her.”
It was a cruel letter; Captain Glennie was a The doctor sipped the Schiedam again and again, hard-hearted man, and he had moreover a hardand then, putting down the empty glass, uttered hearted wife, who feared the introduction of the an emphatic “I will.” Perhaps the Schiedam had orphan girl into their househould. When the good given him courage to pronounce the nighty reso- doctor read these letters, he no longer wondered lution. It was no use, however, to try to act on at the flood of tears which had always preceded that resolution then and there, for the hands of Florence's efforts at addressing her uncle. And the dial pointed to twelve, and Florence had been now came another consultation between the doetor in bed and asleep for hours ; so, following her and his wife, and then the doctor put on his hat example, the good doctor walked up stairs, and to go and call on the clergyman who had buried went to bed, where very soon, he was snoring Colonel Glennie. This clergymann happened to away to his own content and his wife's discom- be what all clergyman are not; a good Christian fort.
and a benevolent man. He entered warmly into The following morning as soon as his breakfast the case. was over, he made up his mind to speak to bis " You must collect the Colonel's debts," be sorrowing guest. He dreaded it. He could have said, as soon as he had listened to all Dr. Gage cut off her leg with far less nervousness—but that had to say to him, “collect his debts, pay them is saying very little, for the latter operation would / with the proceeds of the furniture, and then
invest the balance in some way for Miss Glennie's It was the evening, and "two or three friends” benefit."
had met at Lady de Courcy's, and were discussing *"I can perform the first clause in your bill,” this same ball. “ You shall positively go with us answered the doctor, “but the second will anni- on the 25th, Florence;" were Lady de Courcy's hilate the third. Look here and he drew a words; but Florence did not answer. “Come Sir packet of letters from his pocket; they were the Edward help me,” and she looked towards a identical missives Florence had looked at and gentleman who was regarding the beautiful thrown aside. The clergyman drew in his breath Florence with admiring eyes. “Willingly,” he when he saw them. Tradesmen's bills, to the replied, and he advanced every argument which amount of some two hundred and fifty pounds con- folly, and vice perhaps, could suggest, but Florence tracted within a few months! The clergyman and would not yield; despite her love of gaiety there the doctor talked for a long time, and then the was much good feeling in her, and that gained the clergyman went home to the doctor's house, and day, against Sir Edward; but now half-a-dozen they both of them talked for a still longer time to other voices were raised, and then poor weak Mrs. Gage, and the result of all this talking was, Florence began to waver. that Florence had to come and sit down and listen
one thing however, which kept to a long story, which ended in the assurance, that Florence back, and this one thing was, the silence she had nothing but her pension to depend on. of one voice in that room. Had he said "go," she
It became now not only necessary to talk but would have consented at once, but he was silent, to act. The Colonel's things were advertised and and she knew what his silence meant. She wished sold. His house was placed in the landlord's he would have spoken and told her what to do; hands; for what could the landlord do but take he was the only person she esteemed in the island, it ?-his debts were paid, and his child received the only person who ever spoke a word of advice five pounds as her inheritance.
to her; perhaps the only one who never paid her Months passed on and Christmas came, and any compliment, but that of seeking her society with Christmas came Lady de Courcy. The whenever he could, and treating her like a sensible Colonel had now been dead some time, and Lady woman. de Courcy, who wanted Florence to embellish her house, agreed that she had mourned long will figure prominently in this tale, he must have
Now as Harry Vane, the gentleman in question, enough, and “would be all the better for a little
a particular notice. In person he was not remarkquiet society," and Florence seemed to be of the ably good-looking, at least he did not possess the same opinion; so she packed up her things, or
red cheeks, black eyes, and long hair, which ladies rather the ayah did it for her, and accepted Lady generally admire; he was rather fair than otherde Courcy's invitation.
wise, and his face was intellectual and expressive The doctor and his wife were sorry to lose her, of deep feeling; it was also truthful; you read in particularly for such a home, and they determined it all that was passing in the good, kind heart. He to keep their eye on her. This, however, was
never attenipted to conceal a feeling, his sentiments easier said than done. Between Lady de Courcy were all so honest that concealment was unnecesand Mrs. Gage there could be no sympathy; their
sary. With the fairer sex he was, however, an object habits, the tenour of their lives being different of especial interest, for he was the rich man of the they never met in society; and as the former had regiment stationed at Fort Regent, and having no fancy for the plainly dressed and homely look. obtained his company, bid fair to die a General at ing doctor's wise, any private intercourse was not least; so Captain Vane was considered a very likely to ensue. Mrs. Gage did make one effort to see Florence.
good match," and was in consequence very much Florence received her kindly, sought. but Lady de Courcy, although perfectly polite,
This however had nothing to do with Florence's evidently considered her a bore, and could not partiality for him ; she liked him for himself, and quite conceal the feeling.
did not care one straw about bis
money. Several weeks passed, and Jersey was very gay. By degrees, Florence was induced to enter into
Meanwhile, the gay voices called on Florence
for her decision. this gaiety. First were small parties, "just two or three friends;" these grew in number and ex
“Do go, Florence, do go,” resounded on all tent; and then came great flaring noisy balls. sides ; hut the one voice was silent still. One of the latter class of entertainments was in
Florence raised her eyes, and they involuntarily contemplation, and Lady de Courcy had made up wandered to the corner were Harry Vane, ostenher mind to take Florence. Of course she could sibly occupied with a book, was sitting. Her not leave off her mourning garb, but it might be eyes met his, which were fixed earnestly on her modified; white crape instead of black, white he bad evidently, although silent, taken great roses, &c., &c., might surely be permissible now,
interest in the discussion. for the Colonel had been dead nearly six months ! Her look appealed to him for an opinion; but a very long time!-could a child be expected to he did not answer the appeal, he went on reading remember its parent longer than that? It seemed his book just as quietly as if she had never looked an antiquated notion.
Florence was angry; angry with herself for broidering a slipper. There was something glitter. caring what he would think-angry with hin for tering on that same slipper—a tiny drop which sceming not to care how she acted ; so turning the light of the lamp shone on-it looked very
like from him, and towards her hostess, after a few gay a tear ; but, of course, it could not be that. No; words and pretences of refusal, she promised to what should Florence have to weep about. Whatgo to the ball.
ever it might be, however, Harry saw it; and going Perhaps she entered into the scheme with more up to her, took her hand kindly, meaning to wish apparent warmth than she really felt, for she was her good night. piqued with Harry, and wished to hide this feeling
It was a very strange coincidence that Lady de under an assumed interest in the ball; but, not. Courcy was called out of the room at that mowithstanding all she said, her thoughts would ment; still more strange, that as soon as she bad return to that silent figure sitting so provokingly gone, Florence should have risen from her seat and
She would have given the world stood by Harry. to have gone up to him and said
, with the inno-* You think,” she said, and her beautiful eyes cence of a child, “My dearest and best of friends, sought his; “ tell me how to act, and I will obey you;” and, tremble; it was very provoking, when she wanted
‘you think,”—but her voice would perbaps, had she been alone, she might have given to say so much to him, and she kuew Lady de him a second look, which would have expressed Courcy would soon be back. And Harry seemed the same ; but with those gay friends round her, to be as great a simpleton as herself, for he it was not to be thought of. So she remained grasped her hands until he almost drove the rings miserable and dissatisfied, and assumed an air of into her little taper fingers; and instead of telling levity which was foreign to her.
her what he thought, asked her in a whisper, as The evening came to an end. The ladies put if he was afraid of any one else hearing what he on their bonnets and shawls, for it was a walking had to say—“At what hour she would be at home soiree ; the gentlemen took their cigar cases from and alone on the following day." ther pockets, and then put them back again,
Florence answered (unintentionally, of course, remembering sorrowfully that they could not smoke, as they had to accompany their fair friends she ought to say later, for Lady de Courcy never
eleven o'clock; and then she remembered that to their homes. Harry lingered until they had all left ; perhaps to receive bim alone ; so she mentioned this to
rose until one, and it seemed so odd for Florence he could not bear their silly company, for he seemed Harry, and proposed an alteration of the time, but in rather a miserable mood. He sat down by he only laughed, and said, “ Eleven o'clock would Lady de Courcy, and talked to her, but he took no notice of Florence. No visible notice, at added, “that she had better not mention his
suit him much better than a later hour ;" and be least, although bis eyes (unconsciously, of course) rested on her sweet face; and once or twice he coming to Lady de Courcy, lest her ladyship
should inconvenience herself by rising early to answered "no" for "yes,” and “yes” for “no," in
meet him." his conversation with Lady de Courcy. “Will you accompany us to the ball, Captain message about "good night," &c., for Lady de
Then he took his leave, and left some civil Vane ?" the latter asked. “ You will have to go very early if I do ; re
Courcy, who had not returned to the room. member that I, as one of the stewards, must be How nimbly Florence's fingers went over the there in good time; but, if you do not mind that, embroidery now, and how nimbly her thoughts I am at your service.”
flew over the events of the last quarter of an Lady de Courcy hesitated. The truth was, for hour. But one o'clock wus chimed by the porpurposes of her own, she was wavering between celain construction on the chimuey-piece, and she Harry and Sir Edward Bellinghame; she decided in remembered that needlework and thoughts must favour of the latter.
be put away for the night; so, taking her lamp, “ Thank you,” she replied, with a very winning she went in search of Lady de Courcy, found smile, for she wished to keep Harry in a good her, delivered the message, and then seeking her temper ; "thank you ; but under the consideration own room, consigned herself to the disrobing care of your being compelled this time to see the of the ayah. candelabra lit, I think we must forego the pleasure Florence could not sleep very well, but she did of your escort, and enlist Sir Edward in our not remain in bed the following morning; she rose service.”
as early, perhaps earlier, than usual. The clock Harry started, and looked uneasily at Florence in the drawing-room, she thought, had stopped-“Sir Edward,” he said, “Lady de Courcy, of the hands did not seem to move, but as it kept course you are aware that Sir Edward is a married on ticking, she supposed that she was mistaken. man."
At last there was a double knock at the door. Lady de Courcy bowed.
It could not be Harry, for it still wanted a quarter “And that his reputation for gallantry makes to eleven. A well-known step, however, and an him an undesirable companion ;” and he looked inquiry for herself, told her that it was Harry. again at Florence, who was very demurely em- | Now, Florence felt very much inclined to run