« VorigeDoorgaan »
This trust formed the basis of their lantern jaws, might fill for many a long loyalty, and was a good reason why the year. That sooner or later Mr. Stephen inhabitants, while they freely tendered Prescott would succeed, no one doubted. their respects to the rector, the doctor, Sir Bernard, it was felt, would never and the whole of the Mallett gentry (with marry, on account of the only woman he most of whom either they or their children had ever been seen to look at, or speak to had served or were serving the Queen), willingly, having preferred his brother. Captain Carthew was “the Cap'en," their People who, if they did not know the councillor in difficulties, and their sheet- rights of it, nobody could tell them, had anchor in trouble or sorrow. When com- said that it was on account of Mrs. plimented on his popularity, the Captain Stephen Prescott that Mr. Bernard kept would shake his head, saying, “ But you away - living nobody knew how or where, know it ought not to be so ; the master and was a greater stranger to his family of Combe should be port-admiral at Mal- than they liked their neighbours to know lett. Why, do you think I'm blind, be- of. Certain it was, that from the time of cause I won't see the things which people, his brother's marriage until some twelve who turn up their noses at us, are point- months after his father's death (when he ing out? But there's no getting Sir had become master of Pamphillon) he had Stephen down here, and until he knows never set foot in his native place; and us, he'll never care about us. Ah! it's a then he only returned because the brother, thousand pities to see the old place going who had been his rival in all he set store to rack and ruin.”
by, lay in the family vault, with a newlyThe place referred to was Combe-Mal-cut inscription on the church wall, telling lett - an estate which would have found how he had met his death by an untimely little favour in the eyes of most landown- fall from his horse, leaving a widow and ers. The house was moderately large, only son to deplore their loss. and old-fashioned enough to look pictur- When Mrs. Prescott spoke of retiring esque ; but the land attached to it had, with her boy to Combe, which had been from neglect, become all but useless ; the left to her husband by Sir John, Sir Berpark, by which it was surrounded, looked nard begged her to remain near him, as a wilderness of unconvertible timber, he should need her assistance and help, stunted trees and brushwood, forming ex- if he lived at Pamphillon among his cellent cover for the game, which, on tenants, as she said it was his duty to do. account of Sir Stephen's desire to let At first the widow hesitated --recollecCombe, as it was usually called, Mr. tions made her irresolute, and she would Truscott, the agent, kept strictly pre-only consent to defer her decision for a served.
time ; but she quickly found she had no Sir Stephen inherited Combe through hidden motive to dread in accepting Sir his grandmother having brought it as Bernard's invitation. The offers he had her wedding portion to his grandfather, made at their first meeting, to be a father Sir John Prescott. Sir John had left two to her child and a brother to herself, he sons. In the elder (who succeeded him) fulfilled to the letter, but nothing more. he had little pride, simply because he was Never did he allude to any warmer feelhis heir, and a peculiarly eccentric young ing ever having existed between them. man, who preferred his hobbies, and the Mrs. Prescott smiled a little sarcastically two or three friends who could share in when she thought how much unnecessary them, to the county society or his own pity she had wasted upon a man who family. Such things were, of course, could so readily forget a disappointment, looked on by them as unworthy of a man which he had told her he should carry to born to be master of the Pamphillon es | his grave. Yet she felt it was far better tates, and as such, a leader among Gras- as it was. No brother could be more shire magnates.
thoughtful, nor father more indulgent. The tongues of rich and poor, for miles He took as much pride in little Stephen round, echoed the feelings which rankled as if he had been his own son. All rein old Sir John's breast; loudly declaring serve on her part was at last thrown it too bad, that while a churlish bookworm aside, and she, as well as every one who had honours thrust upon him, which he knew them, uncontradictedly spoke to Sir neither valued nor graced, the only pros- Bernard of his nephew as bis heir. pect for Stephen (the second son), who The boy was scarcely ten when he and was jovial and free-handed enough to be his mother were recalled to Sir Bernard's a duke, was to wait to step into the shoes bedside from a visit they were making in which his elder brother, in spite of his Wales. They hurried back with all speed, to find him already dead, and Stephen his from Sir Stephen himself, saying that she successor — but successor to what ? To was to get a couple of rooms in order, as, a name, and nothing more. The estate in the course of a week or so he would was mortgaged, tied up, ruined, by the be at no great distance, and would probaspeculations of a man, who had been one bly run down to Mallett for a few days. of the most splendid tools a set of sharp- What was to be done? How was he ers ever lighted upon. It seemed as if to be received ? When would he come? people would never tire of asking each These, and a dozen other questions were other what possible motive could have in- speculated upon, without any conclusion duced the man (whom all his neighbours being arrived at, except that something had regarded as a bookworm and a miser) must be done ; but it was agreed that to enter into speculations and schemes what this something ought to be need not which would have staggered the most be decided upon until Sir Stephen wrote desperate gambler. No one being able to again, which most assuredly he would do solve the enigma, they settled the matter before he came. by concurring that he was mad, that he “One thing I am glad of," said Hero always had been mad, and ought never to Carthew, who was seeing her father as far have been allowed the handling of a fine as Ferry Bridge, on his road to Dockproperty, which had been in the family mouth ; “I am glad Sir Stephen bas for generations. Poor Mrs. Prescott, chosen this season to pay his visit to bent on living on bread and water to try Combe. It never looks so lovely as in and keep it for her son, lived in terror the spring." that she would not be able to hold out till “I wonder when the fellow means to Sir Stephen was of age, but would have make his appearance ?" said the Captain. to take the lawyer's advice and sell it. “These youngsters want such a sight But, impossible as it had seemed, hold of backing and filling. Why, in my out she did ; and at twenty-one Sir day " Stephen Prescott found himself called “Now, you dear old thing, it's your upon to manage a large estate, which was day now," interrupted Hero ; “and Sir hampered by liabilities of every descrip- Stephen never positively said how soon tion, and which kept him in a continual he intended coming." strait by forcing him to contract new “Oh! of course, you'll take his part," loans to pay off old scores.
| replied the Captain. “You women are Thus it was, that while the simple all alike, ready to wager any mortal thing Mallett folk regarded him as a Cresus, against the likelihood of a full-blown who lived a life of thoughtless pleasure, baronet doing wrong.” and could turn their poor village into an Hero laughed. earthly paradise, without being obliged to “I hope he will turn out to be as nice deny himself a single luxury; he refrained as we want him to be," she said. “It from asking his agent one word about would be a little trial to give up going in them, dreading to hear of distresses which and out of Combe, as I suppose we should he could not remedy, or suggested im- have to do, if Sir Stephen came to live provements which he had not the money there. Find out if you can, papa, whether to carry out.
| Mr. Truscott knows when he is coming, The agent, Mr. Truscott, lived at Dock- and how long he intends to stay." mouth, and for the last five or six years,' “ And what do you mean to do with on account of Sir Stephen having been yourself while I am gone ?” asked her faabroad, had reigned supreme over Mallett, ther, ruling with so strict a hand that people “I! Oh, I shall go to the Joslyns, and rather let things go on, however bad they see Alice. You are certain not to be might be, “than knuckle down to that back until five or six o'clock. Be sure Truscott, who had swept out Glynn's and bring me the parcel from Home's, offices, for all he rode on horseback, and the wool from Miss Gregory's, and switching his whip as flourishin' as if he don't forget my brooch and Betsey's orwas his master.” During the past year, ders, whatever you do." however, hope had greatly revived. Sir “ All right," said the old gentleman, Stephen had not only returned to Eng- bidding his daughter good-bye. land, but had announced that he should “ Take care of yourself, and don't get most probably pay Mallett a visit - an into mischief,” she called after him; and announcement which, a few weeks before, then, with sundry nods, lookings-back, had been confirmed by Mrs. Tucker, the and shouted messages, the two parted, housekeeper at Combe, receiving a letter Captain Carthew to take his place in Ned Wallis's boat for Dockmouth, and Hero | with a one-two — three — the top was to strike across Passmore Fields, which gained, and by the reaction of the bough would bring her, by a short cut, close to she came down together with a shower of the coast-guard station of which Mr. blossom, loose stones, and dust at the feet Joslyn held command.
of a gentleman whose hat she knocked Hero Carthew fell very far short of a off, and flattened under her feet. beauty, and yet she generally contrived “Oh! what have I done?” she exto carry off the lion's share of admiration claimed, as she endeavoured by beating and attraction. There was an unstudied the cloud to disperse the dust in which grace about her figure, an elastic freedom she had enveloped him ; “I beg your in her movements, which attracted notice pardon – I am so sorry – I had no idea before perhaps you had even caught sight that any one would be here ; why didn't of her face, which was, like her nature, you call out?” sunny and loveable, yet with plenty of “Call out,” he said, in a somewhat incharacter, and showing very openly its jured tone, “really that was an impossilikes and dislikes, its pleasure and its bility ; I only heard a rustle, and before I pain. It would have thoroughly unhinged had even time to look up, you had dethe nerves of many a town-bred belle or scended." beau to have followed Hero's track to Then, seeing the look of unutterable Winkle station. She walked and ran, confusion which came into Hero's face, climbed hills, jumped gates ; singing as her eyes fell on the hat all battered and merrily, and whistling familiarly to all the spoiled, he burst into a hearty laugh, sayanimals who chanced to lie in her road. ing Perfect health, temper, and spirits, what « Pray, don't mind it; but you must more was wanted to make her, what she pardon a stranger for being ignorant that declared herself to be, as happy as the the young ladies here have a way of dropdays were long.
ping from the clouds." It always gave her additional pleasure Hero tried to smile, but the hat weighed to spend a day with the Joslyns. Alice | heavily upon her. was her greatest friend, the three boys “Can't something be done to it ? " she were all in love with her, and Mr. Joslyn asked anxiously, trying to restore it to was her father's oldest shipmate. How-shape ; “I feel so dreadfully ashamed of erer long she had to stay at Winkle, the myself." hour for return came all too soon ; so that “Don't do that," he said, looking adin this case none of them would credit miringly at her pretty confusion, “it will Mr. Joslyn's assertion that it was already come right again, I dare say; and if not, four o'clock, and high time to get into the I have some more luggage coming this boat, or the tide would not serve for land- evening, so don't distress me by distressing Hero at Combe Point, and thus saveing yourself.” her a three miles' walk. It did not take His luggage ! who could he be ? Hero them long to reach Cape Farewell, as they looked at him inquiringly, and then a had dubbed the narrow spit of sand which dreadful suspicion arose that this must be stretched out here; and, after a very re- | Sir Stephen Prescott. luctant leave-taking, and many promises “I had no idea that there was any path of another such meeting, Hero was outside the cliff," he said, trying to divert landed, scrambled up the rugged path, her from the unlucky accident. and stood waving her hand, watching the “Nor is there," stammered poor Hero, little boat as it tacked about, until it who felt that, if her last conjecture proved finally caught the wind and sailed swiftly true, she ought to add an apology for this out of sight.
| unwarrantable mode of entrance. “I Then she turned and began to look have been to Winkle station ; and, as the about for a certain old bullace-tree, which tide prevented me from getting back by jutted conveniently out of the cliff. By the beach, Mr. Joslyn landed me at the mounting a stone placed there for the Point below, and I climbed up here to get purpose, you could catch hold of a branch home through the park. People have aland swing yourself down into the park ways been allowed to come this way ; Sir below. It was some time since Hero had Stephen Prescott has never objected to availed herself of this mode of ingress, it ;” and then with a blush and half-smile and she had wondered if she should hit she asked shyly, “ Are you Sir Stephen the exact spot. She critically examined Prescott ?”. the bough to ascertain if it would bear her “ Yes, I am ; what made you think so ?” weight; and, being satisfied on that score, “Because, for one thing, I did not know
you, and we seldom have strangers here ; have gone back to the hotel at Dockand then you look — at least you are not mouth," he added reflectively. quite the same as the people we generally But Hero shook her head at this.
While he had been speaking, she had Sir Stephen smiled.
been rapidly running over in her mind the “May I venture to ask,” he said, “whom contents of the home larder. Of course, I have the honour of addressing ?” she decided that she must ask Sir Ste
“ My name is Hero Carthew. I am phen to return with her. Her father Captain Carthew's daug!ter, of Sharrows, would be very vexed if she did otherwise ; round Combe Point ;” and she pointed in for Captain Carthew's principles of hospithe direction where the house lay. tality consisted in offering freely what he
“Sharrows! I think Mr. Truscott has had, not in withholding his invitation spoken to me of Sharrows — is it not the because he had not that which his liberal next place to this ?”
| heart desired to place before his guest. “Yes, we are neighbours, though not Turning, she said — very near ones. Papa will be so pleased “Papa went to Dockmouth this mornto see you. We heard that it was likely (ing, but by this time he must be back you would come, but no one expected you again. I hope you will not stand upon
to-day, or you would have had a proper ceremony with us, but return with me, - reception. "How did you get here?” and at least give us the satisfaction of
“ I came by train from Garston to Dock- knowing that you are not alone the first mouth, and took a carriage on to this evening of your arrival.” place. The old housekeeper seemed per-' “ Really, you are very kind, Miss Carfectly aghast at seeing me. She kept on thew ; but — " and as he hesitated, insisting that she expected I should have | Hero said — written. I told her that I had written “ You will only be saving papa a walk, once. But this was of no use, she kept for I know he would set off to fetch you repeating that she expected I should have the instant I told him that you were all written again.”
by yourself.” “ So we all thought,” said Hero. “You! "I should be sorry to give him that know you only said in your letter that she trouble ; so perhaps, as I wish very much was to get the rooms ready, as it was to make his acquaintance, you will permit probable you might run down while you me to accompany you back." were in the neighbourhood. Mrs. Tucker brought it for me to read the morning she got it, and I believe almost every day
CHAPTER II. since ; she was so afraid there might be
A FIRST WELCOME. some mistake. How vexed the poor old soul will be, that everything is not in ap-! “SHALL we go by the cliff path ? " ple-pie order! Of course, nothing was asked Hero. “Perhaps you will not care ready.”
to go through the village.” “Ready !” echoed Sir Stephen. "In “Hardly, if it can be avoided. I do not all your life, you never saw such scrub- fancy that at present my appearance is bing and cleaning as was going on there ; calculated to inspire the authority I am only that the horse would have been dead supposed to possess.” beat, I should have returned to Dock-! “I don't think any one would see it mouth without delay."
unless they were told," said Hero, colour“Oh, that would have been too bad," ling, as she glanced at the unfortunate exclaimed Hero energetically ; “ you must hat. “It was too bad of me, and at our not think of such a thing. You have no first meeting.” idea how every one has been looking for- “Oh no, it has but made us better ward to your visit. We have talked of friends," replied Sir Stephen. “A little nothing else.”
contre-temps is often most successful in “ Very flattering, and all that kind of putting people at their ease. Don't you thing," replied Sir Stephen, laughing ; think so ?” “but practically, I know of nothing more Hero shook her head. disagreeable than to arrive where you “I was in an awful state of fright," she fancy you are expected, and find no rooms said, “when I began to suspect who you ready, and no chance of dinner - an were.” event which this sea air makes exceed- Sir Stephen laughed. ingly important to me just at present. I “ It is evident l'ought not to have come really think it would have been better to here. I shall never be able to keep up
the character to which distance lent en- ' “Sir Stephen has not seen papa yet," chantment.”
said Hero, nodding her adieux. " So “Oh yes, you will; and if we can only good-bye." make you like the place, and come and “Good evening,” said Sir Stephen. live here sometimes, the people will be “Good evening, sir, and thankee for ready to do anything for you, as they are coming.” for papa.”
“And thank you, too, Miss Hero." “Ah! Mr. Truscott told me that Cap-called out Osee. “ I shall just ha' sometain Carthew has immense influence thin'," he added, “to tell my mates, as I among the villagers."
was the first as clapped eyes on un.” “Yes, papa understands them. Mr. “ These people seem very odd to me," Truscott does not; one must live among said Sir Stephen, as he and Hero walked them."
away, laughing over his first welcome. “ Rather a heavy penalty to pay, “Odd !" echoed Hero, who was not though," said Sir Stephen. “ In winter quite certain of his meaning. it must be fearfully dull.”
“Yes,” he answered, “they are so com“ Oh, no! it is not ; though perhaps pletely different from the general class of you would feel it so ; I am forgetting that villagers. They have none of the chronic I have never lived in any other place.” shyness with which most country people
“And you are quite content here?” seem oppressed.”
" Perfectly. Of course, I am longing “Oh, no; they are not shy; but they to go to a hundred places, and see all one have nothing to be shy about.” hears about, but I know I shall never find “Neither have my other tenants ; but another Mallett.”
they would never think of telling me that Here a bend in the path brought them they were glad to see me, or of entering to a cottage, at the door of which a fresh- into any conversation with me.” coloured middle-aged woman was stand- “No? Well, they are odd then, if you
like; but prepare yourself to answer *Well, Lois,” said Miss Carthew, with all sorts of questions here ; for Mallett a friendly smile, “has Osee come home people ask anything they want to know.”
“So I find,” said Sir Stephen. “My “Yes, miss, and the Cap'en, he said, driver, and the pedestrians we met and comed back with 'em."
I passed, kept up a running fire of · Why, "Oh, that is all right;" then, turning where ever be you going, John Hicks?' towards Sir Stephen, she said —
• To Combe, to be sure." * “Lois, this is Sir Stephen Prescott.” “And then," laughed Hero, “ I know
“My dear life!” exclaimed the woman, came — Why, what be goin' to do dropping a succession of curtseys. “Well, there?'" I never did. I'm sure, sir, you'll be as “Oh yes, and then the answer was welcome as the flowers o' May to Mallett. given by a turn of the whip, and a jerk of Why, Osee !" she called, “ do 'ee come the head towards me, accompanied on out here then. He will be took aback selected occasions by the advice to ask sure enuf," she added, as a square-built, Mary somebody at the pike, her'll tell'ee." weather-beaten, sea-faring man made his “I don't think you imagined that we appearance, and was duly pushed forward were quite so primitive as you have found by his wife with the introduction, “ This us,” said Hero, “although I don't conis my man, Osee Triggs, sir, and at your sider that we are regular country folks ; service by night or by day. 'Tis Sir Ste- we are too near Dockmouth for that. phen Prescott, Osee," she wound up with. There is our house ; you just catch sight
Osee's astonished face beamed again, of it round that corner. We have only as with several touches at an imaginary to go up this hill and we shall be there." cap he said —
“We have done nothing else but go up “I'm proud and happy, sir, as you be hill,” said Sir Stephen, a little out of come among us at last, as Miss Hero will breath, while Hero's pace never slackened, tell ye, 'tis what we've all hoped for for neither did her voice falter. He could ever so long, 'till some of us thought 'twas not but look admiringly at her lithe figure never to be ; but the Cap'en he stuck to and elastic step, showing perfect health his colours ; says he, he'll come yet, and no small amount of bodily strength. never you fear that, he says; and you “I must induce my mother to come may always take yer Davy to what the here in the summer," he said, “she is Cap'en says ; he never hauls his colours somewhat of an invalid, and the air seems down, he don't."
to be delicious."