« Oh, I am sure it would do her good.Hero ran off by some shorter way, and It is always said that a doctor cannot live the Captain, putting his arm in Sir nor die at Mallett. People are never ill Stephen's, the two proceeded towards the here."

fat upon which the house stood. “ I shall tell her that as a certain in Sir Stephen had intended making an ducement.”

elaborate apology for the unceremonious “ Yes, do," she said, stopping half way way in which he had accepted Hero's indown the lane before a black painted vitation ; but somehow he quite forgot wooden gate. “Here we are. This is about it, and before an hour had elapsed Sharrows, and there is papa," and she he found himself chatting away to Cappointed to a rather stout-looking figure in tain Carthew as if he had known him all a short jacket and broad Panama hat. his life. When he casually spoke of leav

“Papa ! papa! He doesn't hear me — ing Mallett the next day the Captain he is a little deaf; but I'll soon make him would not hear of it. look up,” and, to Sir Stephen's great “No, no,” he said, “now you are here amusement, she put her two fingers into don't run away directly. I want you to take her mouth and gave a long shrill whistle. an interest in the place and the people,

“Shocking," she said turning to her and you'll never do that until you've seen companion, with a little shrug at herself, a little of them. Why, there are no such “but he sees us now;" and, waving her sailors in the world as the Mallett men – hand, they descended the path towards fine, hardy fellows, true to the backbone, which Captain Carthew had turned to rough and ready to shed their last drop meet them. As soon as they were within of blood for those they're bound to. Then speaking distance Hero called out — the place ; I've been half over the world,

" Papa, who do you think I have brought but I never saw anything to touch Malto see you? This is Sir Stephen Pres- lett. Talk about foreign scenery, pshaw ! cott."

stuff and nonsense! Look at Winkle ; “ Sir Stephen! God bless my heart, go to Silver Sands. Why, when you've you don't say so !" and Captain Carthew, been here a month you won't know yourhurrying forward, seized the long-expect- self for the same man. Except of old ed visitor by both hands, giving them a age people can't die at Mallett ; when grip they were totally unaccustomed to, they come here they get a fresh lease of as he said heartily

their lives. So don't talk of running “Welcome, very welcome. So you've away - and what's the use of going back found your way to Mallett at last. Well, to Combe ? No, no; I shall send for I'm very glad to see you. Why, you've your traps, and you just take up your regularly stolen a march upon us. When quarters here, and then I can lay an emdid you come ?"

bargo upon you whenever I see any signs “This afternoon."

of weighing anchor.” “And,” broke in Hero, “he was going And so finally the matter was settled. back to Dockmouth, because nothing was Sir Stephen demurred at first, and put ready at Combe. Mrs. Tucker expected forward several feeble objections, which that he intended writing again, as we all — as he was nothing loth to remain – he did.”

was not sorry to have overruled. The “Now," said the Captain, “ didn't I tell end was that he consented to remain, and you she had best set to and get every-owned himself very much obliged to Capthing square at once. I expected from tain Carthew and his daughter for asking the first that you'd come and catch us all | him. napping; but these women folk make as By the morning of the next day there much fuss over setting their chairs and was not a man, woman, or child, in all tables straight, and getting their sheets Mallett but knew that Sir Stephen had out of lavender as we should in rigging come, and was staying with “the Cap'en " out a 'seventy-four. But there, there ; at Sharrows. Ann House had been up it's an ill wind that blows nobody good, with some whiting pout which her man and since we've got you down here I had caught the night before. Ned Wallis won't say any more. Run round to had picked out the finest of the shrimps Betsey, Hero, and say she must give us that he was taking to Dockmouth marthe best dinner she can. Get her steam ket, and left them with his duty. Mrs. up,” he added, with his hand to his Carne would be bound that Betsey was put mouth and a jerk of his head towards Sir to it for butter, and sent her boy Johnny Stephen, “by telling her who's going to up with a fresh pound and pot of cream. eat it."

| The general thought was how they could assist the “Cap'en” in duly entertaining and pictured himself doing the agreeable his distinguished guest. Nor was it in to them at a tea party, the idea tickled the village alone that this feeling existed. him more than he would have cared for Mrs. Thompson remembered that Hero his present friends to see. had said some days before that their “It is of no use laughing," said Hero, stock of jam was nearly exhausted, so trying to look grave. “I really mean she must supply that default. Miss what I say ; they would be so disappointStevens routed out some choice gingered if they were not properly introduced to that her brother the chaplain had brought you, just as we should have been, if you from China. Old Mr. Jamieson, the pay- I had stayed somewhere else, and had gone master, thought he'd take down a bottle away without our seeing anything of you. of his old Constantia (he'd only four or People have so looked forward to your five left) that the Captain might give Sir visit, and they are really all so good and Stephen a taste of something he did not kind-hearted that I fear if you went away get every day. And so all through the and did not meet them, they would feel small conimunity each drew on his or her hurt, and fancy you took no interest in little store of dainties, trying to assist the place. If you think you can stay, their neighbour in setting before his you would be granting me a favour by guest those things which his hospitality doing so." would prompt, but his resources they “My dear Miss Carthew, say no more. knew would not supply.

I would do a great deal more than that to

please you; beside which you and your CHAPTER III.

| father are so good to me, that, unless I

was absolutely obliged to get back to AT SHARROWS.

London, I doubt very much whether you 6 THERE is one thing which must be would not experience considerable diffidone,” said Hero, as Sir Stephen, on the culty in getting rid of me.” second morning after his arrival stood “Then you really will stay ?" waiting for Captain Carthew to accompa “Of course I will." ny him to Combe; “so it is of no use “ That is kind of you - thank you so talking about your going away. Stay you much. I shall invite all I can for to-mormust, * for it is your duty to.'

row evening. They know my heart is " And, pray, what is my duty ?. good to ask everybody, but as papa says,

"Well, your duty to your neighbour, our stowage is not large enough.” in this instance, is that you remain, and “ Now I have a brilliant idea,” said Sir I invite all Mallett and its environs to Stephen," if you will oblige me by helptea, and to meet Sir Stephen Prescott.” ing to carry it out."

Sir Stephen laughed outright. The “ What is it?" whole thing was to him so irresistibly “Why, this ; instead of asking them comic ; in fact, during the last few days, here, ask them all to Combe-Mallett; his life had been so entirely altered from the rooms are already dismantled, the its usual routine, that, after the fashion of people have nothing to do, and I'll send the ancient dame who fell asleep on the my man off to Dockmouth to order some king's highway, he had asked himself, I supper.” over and over again, “ Can this be I ?” I “Why, we could have a dance," ex

A man accustomed to a certain amount claimed Hero, twisting round in an imagof luxury, amusement, and society, found inary waltz ; “what a glorious idea ! himself suddenly domesticated among Everybody can be invited there, can't comparative strangers, who, though they they? They will be so delighted ; oh, did their best to entertain him, could of-thank you, Sir Stephen ; I am so much fer him nothing beyond the simple en- obliged to you. You don't know how joyments of their homely life.

kind every one will think it.” Hero's light-hearted face and merry “There is really no great kindness in gossip, Captain Carthew's quaint stories, it from me, not one quarter as kind as the primitive, out-spoken village folk you were going to be ; see to what whom they met on their rambling inves- trouble you intended putting yourself.” tigations – all combined to amuse him “ Trouble ! oh, I do not call that wonderfully, and somehow the days had trouble ; you should see us at Christmas seemed very short. But when he called time. We always give two parties then ; up some of the queer-looking old men one to our friends, and one to the village; and antiquated ladies who had been although they nearly all come to each. pointed out to him as of Mallett gentry, The whole house is turned upside down, her.

[ocr errors]

the rooms are decorated with flags and l. “Fancy!” ejaculated Hero. “Do you holly, and festooned with bunting ; you know, I have been envying you so much. would not know the place, it looks so gay I fancied that people who lived in Lonand pretty.”

don, and went to court and into grand so“And you really enjoy that?” said Sir ciety, where they actually saw and heard Stephen, looking rather incredulously at all the things that we can only read

about, could have nothing left to wish “Enjoy it! why it is the greatest fun for; and yet you mean to say that you in the world. Alice and the Joslyn boys are really sometimes dull and unhappy ?" from Winkle always stay here, so I have “Very frequently; although I believe their help; then Jack Pringle, Jervis I am not tormented half as sorely as Randall, and any of the young men at many. Whether," he added, smiling at home or the girls who think they can be Hero's incredulous face, “it is the curse of use, come down. Joe Bunce, the car- entailed on riches, or the penalty enforced penter we went to yesterday, nails it all on those who have the power to supply up for us, and papa walks about declar-every wish and want, I cannot tell ; but ing he does not know where to go or what this I can assure you, that I have heard to do, but really enjoying it twenty times women in satins and jewels envy some more than any one else. Last year Alice poor girl whose merry face they have and I were so tired afterwards that we caught gazing with admiration into their could hardly move. We never sat down carriage. I have a cousin who, having a all day, and danced all night.”

| large fortune at her command, is regardSir Stephen looked admiringly at the ed by most people with especial envy. young girl's animated face, and then he She is still young, and by many considsaid, “ I wonder if you know how much you ered very handsome ; yet she is always are to be envied. I could tell you of doz- complaining of low spirits and depression ens of people who would give the half of — complaints which I expect you hardly their fortune to possess your wonderful know the meaning of.” capacity for enjoyment."

Hero shook her head. " I don't understand you," said Hero “When I was a child,” she said, laughpuzzled.

ling, “I remember feeling cross some “Well, I mean this ; most of my ac- | days, and inclined to cry about everyquaintances are people who every night thing, which Betsey, my old nurse, took of their lives go to operas, balls, theatres, as a sign that I needed a powder, and, I or have amusement of some kind.” believe, it generally cured me ; but now

“How delicious !” exclaimed Hero. - Well, if papa is away, I may feel a “ But they do not think so."

little dull sometimes, and then I put on “ Why do they go then?"

my hat and run up to the Randalls or the “ Just that! They go because they | Thompsons, and I am soon all right. One have no pleasure in staying away, al- can never be dull with Mrs. Thompson ; though they enjoy nothing by going out. she is so full of fun. She has seven chilThey are moped to death if they stay at dren, and only one real servant, and she home, and bored to death by the society makes everything they wear, because a they seck.”

captain of marines' pay is so small. I "Poor things !” said Hero. “Surely hope she'll be able to come to-morrow.” they must be ill."

“I hope she will,” replied Sir Stephen, “No, it is not that; they are well “ I should like to make her acquaintance: enough. Why, do you know," he added, she must be a wonder." “ I am but describing what is very fre- “Oh, no! she is not. I know several quently my own condition.”

people who do or have done the same." “You, Sir Stephen! Ah, now I know “ And would you be contented with that you are laughing at me."

that kind of life, Miss Carthew ?" “ Indeed, I am not; you must not “Well," laughed Hero, “it is somethink because I have not shown my hoof, what startling to contemplate just now, that it is my wont to be as cheerful and but it comes on one by degrees, and — happy as I have felt since I came here. oh, yes, if it was my fate, I should not be I cannot make my contented self out, and very miserable under it; the worst to me can only put it down to the influence of would be the partings and the long septhe atmosphere by which I am surround- arations,” and she gave a little sigh. ed. You are all so good and happy that “Yes, that would be exceedingly disayou diffuse it to those less fortunately greeable ; supposing, of course, that you constituted.”

I cared for one another.”

“But I mean husbands and wives,” which she was the happy bearer, would said Hero, getting a little red.

give. “So do I,” said Sir Stephen; “but I “So thoughtful, I call it,” said Mrs. . have known husbands and wives not at Jamieson, turning it over in her mind as all sorry to part, after they discovered to whether her best cap would do. “You they could not live happily together." know, my dear, it is not every young man

“Yes, I know that. Of course all do in his exalted position who would care to not get on well; in the village some of the know us simple folks." married people disagree terribly. They “ It's all your doing, Hero," said Mrs. come up here with such stories of each | Thompson, “and sorry I am my Terence other, and quarrel and fight constantly. I isn't here to enjoy it with us.” But even then, I suppose, a sort of regard “Yes, I wish he was; and that Leo exists between them; for if any one else was here too. He knows my step so takes sides or interferes, they are sure to well ; nobody dances as well as Leoleave off and fall upon the unlucky inter- at least I think so." loper, Papa can always separate two Mrs. Thompson shook her head. “I men or two women, but he says he shears often wish now," she said, “that you off when it's a matrimonial squabble." didn't think quite so much of Leo Des

“What an influence your father has in pard, Hero. I'd far sooner see ye listenthe village !” said Sir Stephen; “I quite ing to Jack Pringle, poor boy; and he envy him his popularity."

hanging on your words like the bee does "Come and live here then, and you'll to the flower, and finding nothing but soon share their favour."

honey in it. Leo thinks too much of “ More unlikely things than that might himself, and not enough of other people; happen,” said Sir Stephen gravely ;“some-, and you and Aunt Lydia just tickle him times one's life seems to remain stagnant with a feather out of his own tail. I supfor years, then suddenly an opening is pose she'll hardly venture so far in the made for new hopes, resolves, and inter- night air.” ests. Perhaps this visit which I have “No," said Hero, “thinking it best to paid without even telling my mother that let the remarks on Leo go unanswered ; I intended coming, may be a turning “ I am going to her next, but it is not at point in my life — who knows ?”.

all likely that she will come ; she is so " It would be the making of the Mallett | afraid of taking cold ;” and after some people if you did come to Combe,” said discussion regarding the dress Mrs. Hero; “ you might find it dull at first, Thompson meant to wear, Hero left for though we would do all we could to make the cottage where the late rector's sister, you like the place. Papa ! papa ! ” she Miss Despard, or Aunt Lydia, as she was called out, seeing her father pass the more generally called, resided. window. “I want to speak to you. Only As had been anticipated, the old lady think, Sir Stephen says I may ask all the would not hear of it being prudent that people to Combe instead of here. Won't she should accept Hero's invitation ; it be nice? I must go to the Joslyns, although she was equally obliged to Sir and ask them; Alice must come, you Stephen for asking her, and it was only know!”

like the Captain to offer to fetch her and “Oh! that means the boat and Bunce, see her home. “But I don't feel equal to I suppose ?"

it, my dear; more particularly as Leo is “No, I'd rather go with Jim.”

not going to be there." The Captain shook his head. “The “You'd go to see him, wouldn't you, wind is sure to drop in the afternoon,” he Aunt Lydia ?” Hero said, with a look

which made Miss Despard take the girl's “And if it does we can manage, and hand and press it in token of their symperhaps,” she added, turning to Sirpathy on that point. Stephen, “you might like to come with “Ah, dear fellow ! that I would,” she me."

replied, with a burst of pride.“ Sir " I should very much, if our Combe Stephen, or fifty Sir Stephens, I know business is over.''

there'll not be one equal to my Leo in “Very well, then, I will be at New that room. You are right to be very Quay by three o'clock, and I shall wait proud of being his choice, Hero, for I until you come. Good-bye, now I am off don't know where you'd go to find his to issue the invitations."

equial.” Hero had not at all over estimated the Hero smiled approvingly; she liked to amount of pleasure which the news, of 'hear Leo's praises sung, for though there


was no openly-acknowledged engagements soldier, Leo was in due time gazetted to a between them, everybody knew that regiment, where his hardest task was trythere was to be as soon as his ardentlying to keep pace with his brother officers, longed-for promotion came.

most of them men more monied than Not a few of Hero's friends shook himself. Few, if any, of his associates their heads disapprovingly over this ar- guessed that their pleasant, popular comrangement, and hoped that something panion imposed upon himself cares and might happen to prevent a marriage of worries which cankered all his happiness, which they did not heartily approve ; for because his false pride had rebelled Leo was not universally popular in Mal- against his originally acknowledging his lett. He did not belong to the place, nor true position; and having commenced the county, but came from London, which his career by announcing a cleverly conwas like belonging to no place, and next cocted falsehood, he had now to keep up to being a foreigner; then there was a the fraudulent statement. little air of mystery about him, inasmuch All this was unknown to his Mallett as no one knew for certain who he was, friends, who based their opinions of him or who his parents were before him. He on the foolish way in which he rebelled had come to Mallett some twenty years against the small'economies which Aunt before with Mr. Despard, the late rector. | Lydia, in common with her neighbours, Two or three different stories had been had to practice; and he often vexed Hero given out at odd times about the boy, by seeming to be ashamed of the unprewhether true or false nobody could un- tending mode of living, and the small dertake to say, for Mr. Despard himself house to which he had to return. Knowwas a stranger to Mallett, and held the ing nothing of such feelings herself, she living because he had been a friend of had no sympathy with them, and she the former baronet, Sir Bernard Prescott, tried to assure herself that in time she in whose gift it was. When Leo was should make Leo forget them, and teach sent to Dockmouth grammar-school, the him to love Mallett as she loved it. rector gave him his own name in place of “If he were but at home now to meet the one he had heretofore borne, an- Sir Stephen and hear his admiration of nouncing to Mallett that he meant from the place and the people, it would be henceforth to adopt the boy as his own more likely to do him good than anything son, and that they were in future to call else.” But unfortunately that was imposhim Leo Despard. These circumstances, sible, so she must trust to the impression combined with an undue reticence on the which her repetition of all that her new rector's part, and a confusion in his sis- friend said and did would produce; and ter's manner whenever the relationship with this thought uppermost in her mind, was alluded to, led to the conclusion that she bade Aunt Lydia good-bye, and properhaps the less said about Leo's birth ceeded to deliver her round of invitaand parentage the better. On one point tions. every person was agreed — that no pa- The news “ that doings was to be up to rents could have shown more tender love Combe" very soon spread through the towards the boy than did the shy reserved village, and infected the humbler inhabrector and his ailing spinster sister. By itants with a general air of excitement. them Leo's wishes, his likes and dislikes, All who could be of any service volunwere regarded as those of a genius who teered their help to Mrs. Tucker, the ought not to be trammelled with the ordi- steward, Betsey, and the Captain, until nary rules by which youth is usually gov- Sir Stephen, infected by the unwonted erned ; and it naturally came to pass that stir and bustle, declared that there must this blind affection strengthened the be two gatherings, and that, if Captain faults that should have been curbed, and Carthew would assist him and give him killed the unselfishness and thoughtful- quarters for a day or two longer, they ness for others, which in most characters would contrive to get up something for is the result of early training, and accu- the village people, whose cheerful alacrity mulated small self-denials.

he considered was really deserving of It had been Mr. Despard's wish that recognition. This idea so delighted the Leo should follow his profession, and, Captain that he could scarcely contain after him, take the Mallett rectorship; his joy until he got down to the water's but to this plan the boy would not listen, edge, and no sooner had he reached there, he would be nothing but a soldier; and, than he roared out to the men gathered as most people agreed that such a hand- about the quay — some young fellow seemed made for al “Here, listen to me, my men. Sir

« VorigeDoorgaan »