Page images
PDF
EPUB

162

MILES LAMBERT'S THREE CHANCES.

Miles Lambert's Uhree Chances.

BY MARY E. PALGRAVE.

CHAPTER XI.

THE THIRD CHANCE COMES.

[ocr errors]

AVE you ever lived near

some fine, tall, heathcovered hill, of which you knew that there was a splendid view from the top, a view which you very much longed to see, which you thought of by day and dreamt of by night for a long time ?

And did you ever set out, full of hope and expectation, to climb that hill, and after long hours of climbing—much steeper and much hotter, somehow, than you had expected beforehand-saw a point not so far before you, and looked up to it and hastened on, refreshed by the thought, “Now, at last, I shall soon be at the top"? And when, after a great effort and struggle, you reached it, what did you find? That it was not the top, after all; that was still far, far away and above you, shining in the sunset rays; and as you surveyed the distance which still lay between, it looked, in the first bitterness of your disappointment, so hopelessly great, that you felt more inclined to sit down by the wayside and weep over your task as an impossible one, than to struggle on any further.

Miles Lambert, as he went home that Monday morning with his empty money-bag, was just in the same

Only the day before he had thought himself almost within reach of his goal. As soon as the half-dozen commissions for portraits and signboards which he still had on hand were done and paid for, he had hoped to be in a position actually to fix the time of his departure. That very week he had meant to take Madge over to the Hall to ask Mrs. Owen when she would be ready to take her into her service; and a light place had just been found for Phyllis.

And now, all in a moment, these fair hopes and plans had crumbled away like dust, and Miles's mountain-top had turned out to be so far ahead that it was positively out of sight.

He sat that evening on the settle, staring blankly before him in a silent despair that struck the others dumb with awe. Why did not he stamp up and down the room, and let out his feelings in a passion

of tears, as she would have done in a like case, Margery wondered. “He would certainly feel better after it if he only would,” she thought, but she did not venture to tell him so. She could orly kneel by her bed and pray, as she had never prayed before, that God would help and comfort her dear Miles, and give him, even now, at last, his heart's desire.

It was a very fortunate thing for Miles, under the circumstances, that there was urgent need for him to rouse himself and look about him. With the exception of the small sum in pence and silver which the captain of the press-gang had been graciously pleased to give back to Margery, the family purse was absolutely empty. With some little difficulty Miles contrived to get two of his sitters to pay him what they owed for their portraits; and with a sad and weary heart set himself to work on a picture of a ship in full sail, with any number of flags flying from her masts, which he had been commissioned to paint for the signboard of an inn at Poole. But, somehow, since that unfortunate Sunday, people's manner towards him had undergone a change. It had got about what a large sum young Lambert had had it in his power to pay for a substitute for his service in his Majesty's navy, and people began to wonder how in the world a poor quarryman had managed to get so rich.

They might have remembered that “ Light gains often make a heavy purse," and have shown a little sympathy with our unlucky hero in his misfortunes, but instead of that a general disposition to turn the cold shoulder on him began to appear, and he found himself very coolly received by his friends and acquaintances. The landlord of the “Ship” grumbled and snorted when he modestly asked to be paid, and two farmers' wives sent him word that they had changed their minds, and would have their likenesses done some other time. Once again Miles had cause bitterly to rue that he was out of work. He began seriously to wonder how, through the coming winter, he was to keep the wolf from the door.

One of Miles's greatest trials just now was the thought that his friend Raymond Layne had altogether forgotten him. For the first three years after that memorable visit of Raymond's to Rainscombe Farm, he had not failed to write to his friend at Bottom every three or four months; and very delightful his letters had been. But now, for more than a year, not a word had been heard from him, and Miles was most unwillingly beginning to confess to himself that what Margery said must be true-Mr. Layne had forgotten him. In his last

[graphic]

case.

MILES LAMBERT'S THREE CHANCES.

163

[ocr errors]

like that. But there are Rogers, and Brown, and that

young fellow who was sent up to you from the North last week—they would all go down on their knees to you for the commission. Why not give one of them the chance ?"

“Humph!” grunted Sir John, “fine way of getting out of it! How much longer are you going to remain idle, I should—why, what's the. matter now?

Raymond had suddenly pushed back his chair and sprung up. His languid manner was gone.

Father," he cried, “why not make a competition of it? Offer a free course of training at the academy as a prize for the best designs. You are always wishing to encoarage beginners, and to discover fresh talent in design, and here's a rare opportunity! It is a large reward to offer, certainly, but it will make them all the more try their best.

let it

Do Why be should be overwhelmed with com

a

letter Raymond had announced that he was very much out of health, and was going to some German baths to try and get better; so as long as he could Miles persuaded himself that his friend was still abroad, and too ill or busy to write. But as month after month passed and there was never a letter waiting for him in the inn window at Swanford, disappointment gradually took the place of hope. He angrily turned his face away as he went past the “Swan," and told himself he was a fool to expect a grand gentleman like Mr. Raymond Layne to keep friends with a poor quarryman like Miles Lambert-of course, he had forgotten by this time that there was such a person in the world!

Miles was rather proud, you see, as well as faithful, and not only were his feelings hurt, but his pride was wounded by the thought that he was forgotten.

One bright morning in October the sun was shining pleasantly through the windows of a large red house in Piccadilly. It shone into a long, low room, of which the walls were covered with bookcases and pictures, and lit up the table where two people were having breakfast. One of the two was an elderly man, with keen dark eyes and grey hair, brushed back and tied with a black ribbon, as was the fashion of those days. The other was a pale young man in a dressing-gown, who leant back in his chair and played with a beautiful dog which was sitting on the floor close beside him, as if he cared more for that than for the business of breakfast. He is an old acquaintance of ours, this young man; we knew him once when he was staying as a boy at Rainscombe Farm, but one would imagine that a great deal more than four years had passed over him since then, so old and ill he looks.

“Raymond,” said the older man, suddenly looking up from a paper of figures which lay beside his plate, “I am in want of three designs for the panels of the staircase wall in my new house. I could, of course, employ Mr. Stothardt to execute them for me, but I should prefer some variety. Are you inclined to undertake them ?”

“ Down, Rollo!” said Raymond, in a languid tone. 1, Father? No, I don't think I am.” “Why not?” asked Sir John, sharply.

I sure I could not do them well enough.”

“ You could if you chose to try. I saw an admirable design of yours for the title page of your cousin's album.” Sir John looked irritated.

Really, sir,” answered his son, “I have not touched a pencil for a year past, save for trifles

petitors. All the world would send in designs, said Sir John, but in a tone of consent.

He was too glad to see his invalid son taking an interest in anything to put many objections in his way.

“Oh, it must be a limited competition, of course, -only half a dozen or so. I know a young fellow in the country who must try.”

“Well, do as you please about it, I leave it in your hands,” said Sir John, taking up his newspaper; "the subjects of the three panels are to be three allegorical figures of Faith, Hope, and Charity. You can desire my architect to send you full particulars and measurements."

Raymond left the room whistling, with his head full of his scheme.

Miles Lambert was trudging along the road from Corfe late one dismal autumn afternoon. A sea fog was hanging about and a steamy drizzle falling. Everything looked limp and sodden and colourless, and the solitary figure of Miles, as he trudged along, with his hands in his pockets and his head bent down, did not add much liveliness to the scene. He had been on the tramp since six o'clock in the morning, looking for work at Corfe and Welshcombe, and now was returning, weary and dispirited, to tell Margery of the fruitlessness of his task.

Tired as he was, though, he could scarcely make up his mind to go home, for he knew that the scanty supper waiting for him there had been got with Margery's earnings at lace-making, and the thought that she was keeping them all while he was idle was so bitter that he felt as if the bread would choke him.

“Oh,

am

66

164

MILES LAMBERT'S THREE CHANCES.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

So lost was he in his despairing thoughts, that he did not even notice the unusual sound of a carriage on the road behind him, and only stared after it with the very faintest curiosity as it lumbered slowly past.

It was quite dark when he got home, and he was wet through. As he came along the path towards the cottage he was surprised to see the door standing open, and to hear the deep tones of a man's voice within.

“Is Miles Lambert at home?” he could plainly hear it saying, in the stillness of the evening. Surely he had heard that voice before?

No, sir," was the answer, in Margery's most dignified tone.

Then Robin peeped out of the door, and catching sight of his brother approaching, cried

“He's coming, Margery! Come in, Miles". in a stage whisper—"there's a strange gentleman come."

Miles paused in the doorway, puzzled. your service, sir,” he said after a moment, as the stranger only leant against the table and looked at him in silence.

“Why, don't you know me, Lambert?” he cried, holding out his hand, and as he smiled and spoke.

“Master Raymond !” he cried joyfully, “is it really you?”

Aye, to be sure it is! Why, I should have known you again anywhere."

“Ah, but I have not been ill, sir,” answered Miles, while he shook Raymond's hand as if he would shake it off. He felt inclined to ask his pardon there and then for having ever doubted of his friendship.

Have you not? I should not have thought so by your looks,” remarked the other, as he keenly scrutinised Miles's face. Margery coaxed the fire into a blaze, and drew up the arm-chair that had been her mother's. Raymond Layne shook off his many wraps, and they gathered round it as they used to do when the June evenings were chilly four years ago. There was a little silence at first. All felt that shyness which is very apt to come over one at the first meeting after a long absence.

Raymond was the first to speak. “Did not you wonder what had become of me all this long time, Lambert?” he said. “I suppose you thought I had forgotten you?"

Honest Miles turned red. “I thought you had better things to think of than me, sir," he said bluntly.

“No; but I had much worse ones. ill for months after I last wrote to you, and when I

got better my father shipped me off on a long sea voyage, which the doctors vowed would quite set me up again-only it didn't-and I have only been in England again a month. I had not forgotten you, I assure you. I often wished myself down here with you again.” “Thank you, sir,” was all Miles could

say.

He was apt to lose his tongue on difficult occasions such as the present, rather to Margery's disgust. She bethought herself of at least a dozen neat and appropriate speeches she would have made in his place; but Raymond quite understood, and answered by a friendly nod.

He began a long description of his travels, to which his audience listened with eager interest; and after that, with some difficulty, drew from Miles an account of his last great disappointment, and the various other troubles which had followed it. It was not till quite late in the evening, when Raymond had risen to go, that he first alluded to the real cause of his journey from London.

“I have not yet told you what I came down here for, Lambert,” he said.

“Haven't you come for change of air, then, sir, as you did before?"

“No, indeed; I must start on my way home the day after to-morrow at latest. Walk up with me to the Farm, and I will tell you as we go along."

The two young men went out together. Raymond took Miles's arm and leant heavily upon it.

Lambert,” he began abruptly, “I've come down to offer you another chance."

“Chance? Of what, sir?” said Miles, bewildered, while his heart began to beat so violently that he could almost hear its throbs.

“Why, of becoming a painter, to be sure! Haven't I told you a hundred times that Nature meant you to be that and nothing else?"

“What do you mean?” cried Miles. “I've had two chances and lost them, sir; and I'm making up my mind now to give it all up and not think of it

any more-at least-at least I'm trying to."

“Well, don't try any more, then!” cried Raymond, joyously. “People say the third time's the lucky one, and I feel sure it's going to prove so in this case. Listen, Miles; I have got my father to offer a reward for the best set of three designs to decorate the staircase of a house that he is building in Surrey. The subjects are to be Faith, Hope, and Charity; and the prize-listen, man, and see if you don't think it worth your while to try—a free course of training at the Royal Academy. Don't your fingers tingle to set to work at once?"

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66

I was very

PEEPS INTO WESTMINSTER ABBEY.

165

[blocks in formation]

But Miles only shook his head and looked melancholy. Disappointment and hope deferred had, for the time, crushed all the energy out of him.

“ 'Tis no use my thinking of it, sir," he said.

Nonsense, man, don't be downhearted. I am certain you can win it if you try, or I should not have set the scheme going. And there will only be three or four others competing with you, I took care of that! Of course, I know as well as you that you have not had the technical training of others, but there's real artistic feeling, nay, there's genius in your work, and my father cares more for that than for the best mechanical skill under the sun!”

Raymond stopped, and faced round on Miles to give the more effect to his eager words; but his hearer only heaved a long sigh of discouragement. He was thoroughly out of heart. Raymond tried another line of argument.

“Why, Lambert,” he said, "this is very disappointing to me, when I've come all the

way

from London on purpose to tell you about this, and set you to work. Is my journey to be all for nothing?"

“I can't bear disappointing you, sir,” faltered Miles; indeed, it isn't that I am ungrateful for your kindness, but-but- he broke down with a great sob, and turned away to hide it, muttering, I can't-it's no use! I can't!”

Miles,” said Raymond, in a grave, kind voice, as he laid his hand on the young man's arm, “ isn't there something written about hiding one's talent in a napkin? Wouldn't it be doing that if you turn your back on this opportunity, and refuse to take it because you have grown tired of waiting, and because it has come in God's time and not

[ocr errors]

66

PEEP XI.
ET us stand on the sacrarium steps

and look round us, for from
this point we can best see the
proportions of the Abbey, and
its general character. What
strikes us first, more even than
the architectural beauties, is
the harmony and richness of
the colouring. The walls are
of dark stone, with pillars of

Purbeck marble, the whole effect being a cool sober grey, relieved by dashes of crimson and blue from the stained glass, which in many cases, especially in that of the great rose window, is very varied and beautiful. Above the finely moulded capitals of the pillars rise the exquisite triforium arcade and the clerestory windows, culminating in the magnificent arched roof. The wall spaces between the triforium arches are enriched by a square diaper.

You notice that the building is in the shape of a Latin cross, and it was the first cruciform church built in England. So literally was the idea of the Cross carried out that the furthest pillars of the choir are not in a straight line with the rest, but are slightly inclined to the left, to typify the inclination of our Saviour's head on the cross. Notice also that the Abbey was built in three parts to illustrate the Trinity: namely, the nave, which illustrated the ship or ark in which the Church was supposed to be saved, the choir, and the apse, with its corona of seven chapels. Again, it is built upwards in three parts: the lower arches, the triforium, and the clerestory. I must remind you that the Abbey was first built by Edward the Confessor, but its present form is the work of Henry III., who rebuilt it as far as the first pillar of the choir. Edward I. continued it as far as the first pillar of the nave, Richard II. to the last bay but one of the nave, and Henry V. completed it. The Lady Chapel at the back of the Confessor's Shrine was pulled down by Henry VII., who replaced it with the magnificent chapel which bears his name. Of the original structure of Edward the Confessor nothing now remains but the bases of two sandstone pillars, which can be seen by removing a stone in the chancel floor.

The north side of the sacrarium is filled up by

[graphic]

yours?"

[ocr errors]

Not a word did Miles answer till they had reached the door of the farmhouse, where Raymond, as of old, had found a hearty welcome. But then, as his friend held out his hand to bid him a silent good-night, he said huskily, “ I will try, sir—and thank you for your patience with me."

6

A Word to Boys. ULTIVATE the spirit of “thorough” in whatsoever

you undertake. Sloth and idleness, a sort of listless, do-nothing existence, is a living death. If you permit it to get the upper hand you will lose in

everything. You will get all blanks in life, and no prizes. You will fail in games, and fail in lessons, and fail in examinations, and fail in business or profession, whatever it may be. But do your best in all you touch, and if you sometimes miss your aim, you will still oftener succeed. From Your Innings, an interesting and useful book for schoolboys by Rev. G. Everard.

166

PEEPS INTO WESTMINSTER ABBEY.

a

three beautiful monuments, those of Edmund felt like one family.” Then comes Sir Peter Crouchback, first Earl of Lancaster, the second son Warren (1752), an able seaman, represented in his of Henry III. ; his cousin Aylmer de Valence; and statue by Roubillac with his face pitted with the his wife Aveline, Countess of Lancaster. Edmund small-pox. William Cavendish, "the loyal Duke Crouchback is famous for having introduced red of Newcastle” (1676), and his wife are buried on roses into England from the Holy Land, the same this side. She was a most learned lady, and which afterwards became the Lancastrian badge in passionately fond of writing. Thirteen young ladies the wars of the Roses. His name Crouchback was surrounded her night and day, and were obliged either given in allusion to a deformity, or is a to be ready at a moment's notice “to take down her corruption of Crossback or Crusader. He is Grace's conceptions.” She and her husband are represented cross-legged on his tomb, as

represented side by side. Crusader, and so is Aylmer de Valence, whose The two Cannings, father and son, are here tomb is a singularly graceful one.

It is sur-
standing together.

The statue of the younger rounded with small statuettes,

Canning (1827), by Chantry, is of which unfortunately all the WERS

considered the finest in the whole heads have been broken off,

Abbey, being full of grace and probably by Cromwell's sol

dignity. William Pitt, Earl of diers. These three monuments

Chatham (1778), the great stateswere once splendidly gilded and

man, is buried here, and has a emblazoned, but time has des

colossal allegorical monument troyed every vestige of colour.

erected by the king and parliaOn the south side is the

ment at a cost of £6,000. The famous portrait of Richard II.,

younger Pitt was buried in his which formerly hung in the

father's vault, but has his monuJerusalem Chamber. It is “the

ment in the nave. The unforoldest contemporary represen

tunate Lord Castlereagh (1822), tation of any English sovereign,

who committed suicide during an unquestionable likeness of

a fit of insanity, is buried in the fatal and (as believed at the

this aisle. His sad end awoke time) unparalleled beauty which

mingled feelings of consterturned Richard's feeble brain.'

nation and triumph from the His face is pale and delicate,

Liberal and Conservative parwith a weak, drooping mouth,

ties, and on the day of his funethin nose, and curling auburn

ral the mob were in a state of hair. In it may be traced a

the greatest excitement. It is distinct likeness to members of

said by an eye-witness that the the present royal family. At

funeral procession had to fight the foot of the portrait is Rich

its way through the crowd amid ard's favourite badge of the

shouts and execrations, and that White Hart, which also can be

HA 67165 when the Abbey was entered seen, considerably enlarged, if

and the doors closed the sudden we look up at the south tri

Richard II.

silence which followed had a forium, where it is faintly traced on the wall most solemn and moving effect. above the muniment room. The beautiful mosaic This large seated statue, by which stands Justice pavement of the choir was brought from Rome by with the scales, is William Murray, Lord Mansfield Abbot Ware in 1286. The pattern is supposed to (1793), the good and upright judge. Here, too, contain a chronogram of all the leading dates in is the monument of Warren Hastings (1818), the world's history. The screen of the chancel and Governor-General of India, who, on his return to the Communion Table were designed by Sir Gilbert England, was impeached on the charge of having Scott, and placed here in 1867 by Dean Stanley. governed India harshly and tyrannically, and of

The north transept is called Statesmen's Corner, having extorted large sums of money. His trial from the number of celebrated orators here repre- took place in Westminster 'Hall, and lasted nine sented. First we notice the statue of Sir Robert years, at the end of which time he was acquitted. Peel (1850), at whose sudden death “all London The impeachment was conducted by Burke, who

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »