Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

“My mother had no people, except

Then you

don't realize that I still her one sister, who was as poor and as could, if I chose, put you out of the nebrave as herself. I never refused their cessity of doing anything, could provide . assistance, for it was never offered me. for you amply, without your needing to They had no means of assisting me."

lift a finger. “No means ! I thought~" he be- Bernard laughed again, more cynically gan, looking strangely at Bernard, while than before. a dark red color suffused his face. If you chose, and if I chose," he He muttered something to himself and said. You seem to forget that I am seemed to ponder upon it. Then sud- Bernarda Long's son, but I do not. denly looking up again he asked : Nor do I forget your own character,

"And pray, what do you think of your caprice, your hardness. All the me?"

Aglionbys are hard and obdurate as His choler had subsided, and he look- rocks ; my mother has told me so, and ed up into the sombre face above him, I feel it in my own breast.

You are with an expression akin to wistfulness. not one who could put up with being “Of you ?

I know absolutely noth- thwarted. If I saw much of you, I ing of you, except that one action of should probably do something to thwart yours, which you cannot possibly ex- you every day. I have hands to work pect me to think right. For the rest, with "-he held them out ; a head to you are my father's father, and entitled plan with "-he smiled ambiguously ; to my outward respect, at least.”

health to carry me through adversities, Humph! Then, when your mother and a will which enables me to restrain refused my offer, what did she do ?” he my wishes and desires within reasonable asked suspiciously

bounds. So long as those things are She went on with her music-teaching left me, I am my own master, and my and her drudgery. She worked for me, own master I will remain.' said Aglionby, with passionate though "A bright life, truly !" sneered the repressed emotion. "And six years other. “Hard work for a bare subsistago, when I could have begun to repayence : grinding your brains to powder her, she died.”

to keep body and soul together; a No asseverations were necessary to strong will to be used for nothing but to emphasize the feeling that lay beneath repress the natural desires and impulses this simple and unadorned statement of of a young man of spirit-a pretty life, a fact. It seemed to cause some reflec- truly, and I wish you joy of it!" tion to the elder man, who, however, It's not much to boast of, is it? presently said :

• A poor thing, sir, but mine own.' ForHow would you like, when next tunately there are always things in this you have a holiday, to come and spend world, and especially in a big town like it at Scar Foot?''

this, to take a man outside himself, or Bernard's eyes suddenly lighted. His he would be in a bad way." face changed. Then he laughed a little Plays, for instance, and concerts. and said :

It runs in the blood to be fond of such “Not at all, thank you."

things." “No? Why not?" asked the other, “Yes. Luckily for me, it does. They in a tone of deep mortification.

have driven the devil from my elbow Because I have neither part nor lot more than once, and will do so again, I in Scar Foot, and will not go near it. I doubt not." will keep to the friends I know."

Oh, then, he does sit at your elbow Sirrah! What friends can you have sometiines, does he ?" here? What influence have they? How “Often enough, and black enough he can they help you? What can they do looks." for you?''

“What shape does he take now? "Nothing; that's just it. I have What does he look like?" everything to do for myself, and it is “Many a shape. Once he dragged best to remain where nothing can hap- me through some months of low dissipapen to disturb my conviction on that tion-I'm an elevated character you point."

perceive. He got me into the mire and

cure ?!

held me there, till I was nearly choked. ' And is the situation pretty seBut I managed to scramble out somehow. That was after my mother had gone, Is it quite secure, so long as I am he added slowly, and with hesitation. the cheapest and hardest-working fellow

I had nothing then, not a soul to turn they can find for it.” to. Bah! it's a filthy recollection. But why should you submit to such He takes other shapes now.”

scurvy treatment ? A grandson of As what, for instance ?"

mine ! Monstrous ! give them a lesOh, now he oftenest looks like a son ; offer to leave them.' lean knave clutching an empty purse, and Again Aglionby laughed the cynic's pointing his finger along a cold road full laugh. of milestones that get more and more They would take me at my word at tumbledown-looking as you go on. once, and there would be fifty hungry passed the twenty-sixth of them the men waiting to step into my shoes, and other day."

to thank heaven on their knees for the “Ha!" said the old man, clutching work that I was too dainty for.' the round knob of his stick, pursing his “But you could find something else mouth, and staring down at the dusty-something more suited—" floor with round, open eyes, as he shook “When I can-something more rehis head a little. I know him, I know munerative--I shall cut the present those milestones too. You've many yet

concern without scruple, I assure you.' to pass before you get to the one that I “What would you be if you had to tottered by a few weeks ago.'

choose ?" “ Which was that ?" asked Aglionby That's a leading question, but I in a softer tone.

happen to have an answer ready for it. The seventy-second.

I'd be a politician, with enough money “Ah !

That is a long way from to help my cause forward, and the oppotwenty-six."

sition one backward." Ay, it is. Well ; you haven't made Your cause being—I saw you at the yourself out a smooth or delicate char- Liberal Demonstration on Saturday.” acter," he said, with sudden quickness “ Yes, my cause is the Liberal cause, and keenness.

or rather the Liberal cause is mine." Aglionby shrugged his shoulders.

The old man rose. “Why should I ? You would hardly

“I must go,

said he. * When I have believed me if I had, seeing that I came in here I was thinking of you, am one of your own race. Such as I am, and wondering where in all this great I have told you—why, I couldn't say, city you were to be found. I guessed whatever you were to give me for it.' who you were when I heard that girl

“And your existence here, is it an call you Bernard. Is she the girl you inspiriting one?''

are engaged to ?” “No-at least not that part of it Yes. which is devoted to business.'

“Ah, well! wouldn't you really like It is not a business in which you to run over to Scar Foot? I can tell are likely to rise, then ?”'

you it is a place well worth visiting—the “Not unless I bought my rise. The fairest spot, I say, in the fairest county heavier you are weighted-with gold- in all fair England.” the faster you get on in the race, said “I dare say; it would do me no Bernard rather dryly.

good to see it under the circumstances," “ H'm! Did you choose it for your replied Bernard curtly, while an intense self ?"

longing to look upon it rushed over him. Necessity and the length of my Had he not heard its every room demother's purse chose it for me. They scribed by his father, till he felt that bound me over to them for five years, were he dropped down before it, he and paid me various salaries during that could find his way through it blindfold ! time, beginning with five pounds, and He had heard the doggrel old verse which ending with the dizzy eminence of five that father had repeated in his last hours, and twenty. Since then, by screwing as he lay senseless and "babbled of hard, I've been able to keep myself."

green fields."

“ To fair Scar Foot my thoughts I turn, street below. The din became vague in Whence late I walked with you,

his ears ; the sights blurred before his Through fields bedewed"

eyes. What had passed seemed like a There the recollection always broke dream. Never to any human being, save off short ; but Aglionby, from his earli- to his mother, when he had been a boy, est childhood, always thought of Scare had he laid bare so much of his secret Foot as surrounded with " fields be- heart, or spoken so freely of his thoughts dewed.” His father, exiled and banish- and feelings.

and feelings. Why had he done it? ed, had never ceased to love his home, He was roused by a touch on his elbow. and return to it in fancy, with a dales. Looking round he confronted the boy man's deep and ineradicable love. If Bob, holding up a coin, no less an one he, Bernard, were thus disturbed at the than a golden sovereign. mere idea of seeing the much-loved He gave me this !” he exclaimed spot, what might the extent of his weak- breathlessly. ness be, should he ever really behold it ? Who? Old Jenkinson ?” No; he would keep firm while yet he Lord, no! catch him ! That old could ; and he added nothing to his last gentleman that was with you. He met words, though his lips were parted. me as I was coming back, and he said,

His grandsire watched him keenly. was I any friend of yours, and"

“Can you unstiffen your fingers, so I know what you said, simpleton,” as to shake hands with me?” he asked. replied Aglionby, in his softest tone,

Bernard paused. Then, literally car- and in his voice there were notes of the rying out the old man's words, he did gentlest music. unbend his obstinate joints, and put “I said the truth. I said you were them within the old, knotted hand held the best friend I had, and that I'd die out to him.

for you, and he said : “That's right, Their eyes met ; there was plenty of lad ; he's worth it!' and gave me this." dogged obstinacy in both their faces, "Mr. Aglionby, wanted !" sang out plenty of self-opinionatedness, pride, a voice at the other end of the room, determination ; rugged, twisted char- and Aglionby, having missed his dinner acters, both of them, but honest. As in the parley which had taken place, their fingers touched, Bernard remem- advanced to attend to the requirements bered-and the recollection seemed to of two specimens of that shy and rara throw a new light over his mind-that avis, the buyer. his father had not been strong and

CHAPTER V. sturdy like this ; who was to say what provocation this irascible old man

OUT OF HARMONY. might not have received at the hands of With a vague yearning for sympathy his beloved ? What passionately cher- and the comments of some fellow-creaished hopes might not have been blight- ture, Aglionby that night called Lizzie ed when Ralph Aglionby left “Fair aside, telling her he had something imScar Foot,” at strife with his father, and portant to relate to her. They retired after sulking in London for six months into the empty back parlor, and sitting took to wife Bernarda Long, from side by side in the firelight, he made his among what must have seemed to the first great confidence to her. She was retired country squire the daughters of the woman he loved ; she was to be the Heth-the ranks namely of poor musi- partner of his life, his companion for cal professional people ?

better, for worse. To whom else could As if by one impulse their hands he have turned more appropriately ? closed upon one another, in a mighty He felt that it was not right to congrip; then, without a word, were un- ceal his true history from her any longer. clasped again.

When he sat down beside her, and beOld John Aglionby walked erectly gan, it was out of a full heart that he away, nor turned to look back, whatever spoke, and he looked eagerly for her his secret yearnings might be. His words of sympathy ; half his trouble grandson, left to a few moments’ soli- would be removed when she should say tude, stalked to a dingy window, and to him, Dear Bernard, you have done looked out upon the throng in the busy right, and I approve of your conduct.'

She heard his narrative with many ex- marry. She married, too, a clergyman, pressions of astonishment, but with very I believe, and she and her daughters few questions or interruptions. He have become all in all to him. They told her what had happened that morn- are his heiresses, quite the heiresses of ing, and how his grandfather turned out the country side. One of them will no to be the same old man whom they had doubt have the old house-Scar Foot." seen at the theatre on Saturday night. "Is it a family mansion ? Have they

Then you quarrelled with your lived there long?" grandfather?'' said Lizzie.

Hundreds of years, my dear. I Not I, but he quarrelled with my have heard about it till I know it as well father at his marriage; he disowned and as if I had lived there, but I shall never disinherited him, and would never see look upon it." him again.'

“Then, of course, that girl we saw “ Then your father married some one with him, whom you admired so much, whom this old gentleman did not like?" will be his favorite niece ; perhaps he'll

Exactly. My mother was poor ; leave her all his money, and then won't she gave music-lessons ; she was half she be a catch ?”' observed Miss Vane, English, half Spanish. She had noth- unconsciously hitting right and left at ing but her goodness, her cleverness, Bernard's susceptibilities. With one of and her good looks, which last, you those flashes of intuition which are often must confess she has bequeathed to me most surprisingly brilliant in the most in overflowing measure.

stupid persons, she had hit upon a solu“Oh, nonsense ! But was the old tion of the question (which Aglionby man so hard as all that? Did he never had been almost unconsciously revolvget over it?"

ing in his mind, ever since he had parted * You see he had wished my father to with his grandfather that morning)-a marry his own cousin, a Miss Arken- solution so exceedingly probable, so à dale, with whom he had been brought priori recommending itself to the suup all his life. My father would not. perior masculine understanding, which They quarrelled about that first, and my had not yet arrived at it by the slower father left home, and very soon afterward but more infallible route of a process of sent word that he was married to my reasoning, that the possessor of the said mother. That brought the matter to a masculine understanding, jumping from climax. He was forbidden ever to go his chair, cried with emphasis : near Scar Foot again. My father was By Jove, I expect you are right ! not a particularly powerful character, but I wish I had taken more notice of her !" he held out for several years, and would Well, I think you took about as neither compromise nor temporize. Then much as you could. I know I felt quite he died, rather suddenly, as I have told cut out. By the way, was he very disayou.

My mother went on with her greeable to you this morning ?" teaching, and kept herself and me. She “Not at all. He has a rough mantold me once, when I asked about my ner, because he has a rough nature. father's relations, that she had only But if I had encouraged him he would once received any notice from the old soon have become quite amiable. He man, and that notice took the shape of invited me to go to Scar Foot in my a proposition that she should part with holidays." me, give me to him, you know, and not “ Bernard !" her eyes sparkled. see me, or have anything to do with me You will come into your rights in the again, in which case she was to be hand- end of all. If you make yourself agreesomely provided for for life. She never able to him while you are there, you told me how she received the proposi- will soon thrust these nieces aside, and tion, but I can well imagine with what he'll leave all the money to you, as he rage it would be. She always told me ought. That will be grand !" simply, that it was of course quite out Aglionby experienced a kind of shock of the question. From that day to this in thus suddenly discovering how enno notice has been taken of her or me. tirely he had failed in his effort to win My grandfather turned to his niece, the her sympathy. She understood that he niece whom he had wished my father to had a grandfather who was rich, and

gain !

who appeared favorably disposed toward for, save utter neglect. There are such him, and she took it for granted that he things as manliness and honor, Lizzie. would at once endeavor to secure pos- If I had consented to enter his house, session of some of that wealth. He or stooped to accept favors Aung at me patiently endeavored to put her right, as you'd fling a bone to a dog, I should quite sure that she had misunderstood; have suffered sorely in my honor and he had not explained clearly.

self-respect. Understand me, I have “My dear child, do you imagine that nothing to do with this inheritance ; it I could or would stoop to him after his is no more to me than if it did not exyears of cruelty and injustice? I de- ist-" clined utterly to have anything to do But if he left it to you, you'd take with him or his caprices. He can con- it?" she interrupted eagerly. fine his attentions to those who are will- He laughed. “ Take

it ? oh, yes, ing to subject themselves to him and fast enough! And when the first grape wait for what they can get. I am not harvest comes off on the Yorkshire one of them.”

moors which surround Scar Foot, I'll “Well, I never ! If you call that take you there, to partake in the rejoicplaying your cards well, I don't. I callings, and try the vintage. That's a barit idiotic. “My dear!”

How can I understand such stuff as “Yes, I do. To think of throwing that ? But I cannot see what harm away a chance like that! It's all very there would have been in a little civility well to be clever, and to know all about to an old man like that, for he must be politics, and so on; but if it makes you old to have a grandson twenty-six.” neglect your own interests, and behave He's seventy-two-he told me so. like a simpleton, I've done.'

I don't know that I behaved uncivilly She spoke with temper, and added : to him after the first interchange of

“You're not so tremendously rich compliments. But you have never served that you can afford to fling rude words under a tyrant, or you would know that at a grandfather with money. And you civility is a small portion of what they might have thought of others that you require from those who are beneath profess to care for—"

them. To serve a tyrant for gain, to “My dearest Lizzie,” said he, grave- wait for dead men's shoes, generally ly taking her hand, and looking earnest- means slavery of the most degrading dely at her, “hear me ! You have misun- scription while your tyrant lives ; and derstood. I have told you this story when he dies, to be kicked out by his because I wish you to learn all about successor penniless and barefoot still." me and my belongings, not because I “That sounds very grand, but I know wish to take any part in the matter. I that money is a very good thing." have no interests to look after, no cards "So it is; and being fully conscious to play in the case, as you appear to of that fact, I am going to set about think. My intention is to remain per- earning some as speedily as may be.fectly neutral, just as I always have Why earn it, when you could have been. My grandfather treated my father had it given you ?" she said, pursuing the tyrannically and shamefully, Í don't topic with an obstinacy and an urgency say he was utterly without provocation which he had never known her display - he may have been provoked to a cer- before. tain extent; but, after all, it is not a sin No one has offered to give me any, for a man to wish to marry a good, and that I am aware of,” he answered very clever, and amiable woman, whom he gravely. “And I think, my love, as we loves. There was no crime in the mat- don't appear to agree upon the subject, ter. It simply did not please him, and we had better let it drop. I do not inhis nature was so despotic that unless tend to make the slightest advance to Mr. everyone gave way to him, he behaved Aglionby of Scar Foot ; nor does he inatrociously. He would have been the tend taking any further notice of me, first to challenge any man who had dis- unless I am much mistaken ; or unless puted his own right to choose in such a I am ready to lie down and let him matter. I have nothing to thank him trample on me—which I am not."

« VorigeDoorgaan »