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he was very like his uncle, Christina's Fish-oh, how charming! Really, Berfather; if so, Richard North must have nard, you are delightful. It is just what been a very handsome man. Bernard I wanted. Janet, here is some fish for was hardly a handsome man as yet; you your master's dinner. Janet !” and she would rather have called him a beautiful danced over the stone floor and along boy, though he was one-and-twenty, the passage into some remote region three years older than his cousin, and, where Janet was busy at her work. like her, tall, though slight. He was When she returned her cousin had fairer than she was, with sunnier hair, laid aside the stocking, and was shaping and a more ready smile ; altogether, the something out of a piece of wood with family likeness was more apparent in
his knife as he sat in the chimney-corner. the freedom of carriage and general Christina's good humour was quite rebearing, than in the minuter details of stored, and she, too, sat down, disposed feature and expression.
to be gracious, at the other side of the Christina had looked up at the sound hearth. After all, here was some one of his footstep, but her face did not quite ready to sympathize with her and brighten, nor did she turn to meet him, think her right; and that in itself was when he came in flinging down his cap a soothing thought. She would never upon the table, and setting down his have complained to a stranger, her pride basket. He had come in bringing a and her loyalty to her grandfather would breath of freshness, health, and happi- alike have made it impossible ; but as ness, with the rush of the outer air; to Bernard, he was different, and was as but Christina was not ready to be touched nearly related to him as she was herself.
“Mother says we shall be ruined : I “Why, Christina," he said, “what am sure I wish we could and have done are you doing? you must be putting with it!” she said, ending her story, out your eyes.”
and then she laughed; but the laugh "I can see quite well,” said Christina had something of bitterness in it. pettishly, and gave a little wilful pull at As for Bernard, he did not either exher worsted, and the needles slipped in postulate or reason; he was not even her hands, and the stocking unravelled sorry for Christina. All this weariness itself so fast that the stitches ran after and anger and impatience of her lot in each other, and the ball rolled on to the life was tending in one direction; and floor.
although he did not exactly put it to “How tiresome you are! it is all your himself in words, he knew it, and the fanlt,” said Christina ; " I wish you had knowledge was dear to him. It could to pick those stitches up again.”
not be now, of course, but some time or She turned from the window, threw another, some time he would be able to down her work, and, going to the fire, come forward as a deliverer. How the lighted one of the high candlesticks which idea had first sprung up within him he stood on the chimney-piece. When she did not know, nor did he care to inquire ; returned for her work it was in Bernard's it dated a long way back, he knew, back hands, and he was patiently doing his to the time when they went nutting best to repair the mischief. His mother together in the autumn woods, when sometimes said that his dexterous fingers they had gathered primroses in the valley, were as useful as a girl's, and if he had and when they had roasted chestnuts on not so much experience as Christina, he the kitchen hearth ; back to the time had far more patience ; so she stood by, when they had been children together ; and the cloud gradually cleared from back to the time when his schoolboy savher face as she watched him at his ings had been spent upon her first silver work. She had not welcomed him, nor thimble. He could not give her wealth, did she thank him now; but she bright- perhaps ; but what did it matter ? at least ened and smiled, and began to talk. she should have freedom and sunshine, “What have you got in your basket ? and a happy home. Christina, too, was
content that it should be so. The idea did here !” said Christina, with a little not dwell with her as it did with him shrug of her shoulders ; and then she it did not mingle in her dreams by night repented herself of having damped his or her thoughts by day; but when she spirits, and smiled at him affectionately. was troubled and impatient, and weary “But I have not changed yet, Bernard, of her life, then she too looked on to not yet ;" and if Bernard had any misthe time when she should escape from givings left, he put them aside for the it all to the homestead on the hill, time. where peace reigned with all its pleasant He walked home that evening, towards sights and sounds; where, as she thought the quiet, grey house on the hill-side, in her ignorance, murmuring and discon where his mother was waiting for him, tent and anger must be hushed. Then not thinking of the future with any it was that she thought of that day apprehensions ; indeed, he was not when they had stood together on the thinking of the future at all, but of moor a year ago; of his words, and of Christina's looks and words as he had the promise that she had made, and of parted from her; of the light flickerthe spray of purple heather she had ing upon her hair as she sat in the given him as a pledge. No one else had circle of fire-light, of the familiar places, even guessed at it, unless, perhaps, his of old times, and childish memories. He mother, and she had never spoken of it did not think that she was beautiful, even to him. Perhaps she hoped that the or kind, or charming; she was simply boyish fancy might die out; and as for Christina, and that was all, but she was Christina, why should she care to speak everything to him. of it? There was no sympathy to be It was a trifling incident which first had, even if she had wanted it, and, as interrupted his thoughts,-an ordinary a matter of fact, she did not want it. sight which would have had little effect Besides, it was only in times of vexation, upon him at another time, perhaps, but as I have said before, that she thought which now breaking in upon his mediof it herself. This was the reason that tations, more or less jarred upon his at this moment it flashed across her mood of mind. It was simply that, mind, and for the time their thoughts through a gap in the trees of Cranford were the same.
Park, he could see from the road, lights “ It will come to an end some day, I twinkling in the windows of the house suppose," said Christina ; " but I don't which lay within. know. So many things may happen, “Then they have come back," he you know; you might change, - I might said to himself. “Christina was right ; change. Many things might happen. things happen even here." I might die first.”
And what did it matter to him? He Why do you say that ?" said Ber would have said nothing, only he was nard. Her words had brought a passing dreaming dreams, and those shifting, cloud over his sunny face. Christina restless lights disturbed him, and the always gave way to her moods, and said moonlight would have been pleasanter what was in her mind, and he was used without them. to it; but nevertheless, her speech gave him a slight shock. Why should she
CHAPTER II. think of change or death just now, when only the present was pressing upon her, Wuer Bernard was gone, Christina sat and to him at least the future was full of for a few minutes meditating; then she so bright a promise?
gave a little sigh, and, rousing herself
, “Why do you talk of change ?” he she too left the kitchen ; but her sigli said again.
can I change? and her meditations had nothing to do What can happen ?"
with Bernard. He had been, and be “I don't know. How can I tell ? had gone, and for the moment he had But I suppose things may happen, even cheered her, but his visits could not
change the character of her life, or even morrow,” her mother was saying. “He make epochs in it. If her mother had wants more money for his school, I supbeen a little less sad, if her grandfather pose; he is always wanting money.' had been a little lesz bitter, it might have “He does not want it for himself," been different; then she might have said Christina, rousing herself a little spoken to them of her future, and of indignantly. Bernard's hopes; but to speak now “I suppose we all want money when would only be to raise a storm of anger we can get it,” said her grandfather : and and incredulity. Perhaps after all they then silence fell upon them again. were right, and she was wrong; per Afterwards, when Christina went up haps it might be true that happiness the narrow stairs to her little room on was a wandering, deceptive light; that the upper story, though she was fond of it would always dance before her eyes, it in a way from habit and old associaand never take a form. So she went tion, she still looked with a sort of down to the evening meal with still a impatience at the familiar surroundings little cloud hanging over her brow. - the engraving of the Good Shepherd
Old Mr. North never forgot that, as over the mantel-piece in the frame people say, " he had seen better days." which Bernard had carved, the old He might be poverty-stricken, aged, and panelled chest of drawers, the japanned forsaken, but in his own eyes, at least, dressing-table, the flower-pots in the he was still Geoffrey North, the great window, and the little work-stand in man of the parish, the Squire to whom
the corner. There was no attempt at the Park belonged. He had had mis. ornament, nor any of the little fanciful fortunes, but he refused to recognize the arrangements which girls are so fond ot, fact. “Family reasons made it desir but yet Christina was attached to the able for me to give up my establishment room, and would not have changed it, as and come to live here,” he was accus her mother had often suggested, for a tomed to say with an assumption of larger and more comfortable one. dignity which had something pathetic Perhaps it was because she looked on in it; "and this quiet life suits me in it as a sort of refuge; here, at least, she my old age.” He seemed able to ignore could be quiet and alone. Not that the truth, so long as he had only him solitude always suited her; it did not self to deceive, but dreaded to read it in suit her this evening, and therefore it strangers' eyes; and refusing to see these was that she put down her candle on the few friends who would have been glad table, and went to the window, pushing to seek his society, he shut himself up back the curtain and looking out into with his books and his recollections,
the night. which sometimes must have been sad It was a clear spring night, and she enough. He sat at the head of his table could see across the road, white in the with his bottle of untouched port before moonlight, on to the dark line of the trees him, and still talked of country business of the Park. She did not look in that direcand foreign affairs, and the folly of men, tion, but, leaning out, cast her eyes over as if his opinion was of the highest im the moor, and the indistinctly shadowed portance; but “nothing should tempt hill, on the side of which stood the grey him back into active life,” so he said house to which Bernard had taught her with uncalled-for determination.
to look as her future home. There, at Christina had smiled at it all some least, she would find peace and love, and times, for she was not old enough to be kind words. There was no hope or touched by the piteousness of the longing within her, but still she did look mockery; but to-day she was simply to that as the end which she desired. indifferent, and leant back in her chair She turned, soothed and partly consoled; gazing at the reflection of her own after all, some one there, she knew, was cloudy face in the polished wood. thinking of her, and looking forward to
“Mr. Warde is coming to dinner to that time; and then, as she turned,
66 The old man,
she caught sight of those lights twink- does it matter?" said Mrs. North, with ling in the upper windows of Cranford a melancholy indifference which seemed Manor, which had broken in upon strange to Christina. Bernard's meditations. There was no- the father, I mean, is dead at last, and thing magical in them; they were ordi- so they have come back—Captain Cleasby nary lights enough, giving evidence of and his sister-some one told me yesterhuman life within the house. And yet day. Ah ! Christina, how different it in Christina's eyes these were not ordi- was when that was our home! Who nary, but as interesting and exciting as would have foretold our coming down to they were unexpected.
this? It seemed all so secure and certain "They have come back," she said to then." herself, as Bernard had said it to him. “I don't remember it, at least hardly self, with another meaning, and in at all—not at all clearly—but I reanother mood.
member young Mr. Cleasby very well," There was nothing distinct or defined said Christina. "He gave me a ride on in the pleasure with which she looked his pony one day, and grandpapa was so ·once more at the distant lights before angry when I told him about it. I was she lay down to rest.
quite a little girl, but I remember it The Park had been long shut up, and very well." it was long-very long-since she had "They call him Captain Cleasby, seen its owners, before the General fell now, though I believe he has left the ill, and they all went abroad ; but never- army,” said the mother.
“Well, we theless she was glad to know that they have nothing to do with them, or with had come back.
the Park; they are not even “ And Mr. Warde is coming to tenants." dinner," --SO Mrs. North sighed again It was natural enough, poor woman, the next morning, as she sat down that she should sigh again as she took with her work at the table in the front
up her work.
It was true that they parlour, which lay on the opposite side had nothing to do either with the Park of the passage from the kitchen, and was or with the Cleasbys, or with anything especially appropriated to her; for her rich, or prosperous, or happy; but it father-in-law said he hated to have a was also quite natural that Christina, woman rustling about the room.
who was not faded, nor disappointed, “It fidgets me to death,” said the nor tired, but, on the contrary, full of hasty old gentleman ; and so he had his life and spirit, should not feel all this way, and for the most part they left him as her mother felt it. to himself.
“I shall go and tell grandpapa," she As to Christina, it did not much said ; and before her mother could rematter to her whether Mr. Warde came monstrate, she had crossed the passage or stayed away. The sun had long and knocked at the study door. ago melted the hoar-frost from off the “ Grandpapa,” she exclaimed, as he grass, and everything was still and put down his book, disturbed by her bright; even the heath was less deso- sudden entrance, and looked at her over late-looking in the morning sunshine, his spectacles with more surprise than and for the first time Christina noticed pleasure ; “grand papa, do you know the the light green veil which spring had Cleasbys have come back ?” thrown over the trees of the Park.
“No, I did not know it,” said Mr. “Did you see the lights in the windows North. He was not indifferent, like last night ?" she said, without noticing her mother; on the contrary, he laid her mother's sigh. “The windows were
aside his book altogether, as if it had all lighted up; they must have come no longer any interest for him, and back to the Park, I suppose. Did you sank back wearily in his chair, almost not see the lights ?”
as if he had received a shock. “Yes, they have come back ; but what “ The old man is dead, grandpapa,
and his son and daughter have come emotion in her grandfather which she back. We saw the lights in the win- was altogether unable to comprehend. dows, and we think they have come to To her the future was all in all, and stay."
no ghosts rose up from the past to “So Cleasby is dead !” said the old frighten or perplex her.
“I wonder why I am alive !” It was of the future that she was For a moment there was a plaintive dreaming, as she sat at dinner that surprise in his voice, and then it changed evening, and the little conversation of into a tone of irritation. “Why do
trivialities, her grandfather's courtesy, you come to tell me about it, Christina ? her mother's laments, and the Rector's I am an old man; I came here to be rather stern common sense made no quiet, and not to be troubled about impression upon her, until she was my neighbours. What does it signify roused to sudden interest by a casual to me? I remember nothing about reference to the once more inhabited them.”
Park. “I remember quite well,” said Chris
66 We need some one to take an tina under her breath; and she smiled interest in the parish," Mr. Warde to herself a little as she said it, and was saying;
o but what can you expect then she raised her voice and added, of a young man brought up on the " and it does signify, for perhaps they Continent ?
Continent? Still I do not despair : may come to see us.
there may be some good to be got out Mr. North laid his hands upon the of him.” After ten years of hard arms of his chair, and slowly rose up to work as a parish priest, Mr. Warde his full height before he answered, still took a cheerful view of human while Christina stood looking at him nature, and was not easily discouraged. wondering and curious.
They were a strangely incongruous “They will not come here,” said her party, -gathered round the same table, grandfather; and his voice, still power- yet mentally how far apart! The old ful at times, resounded in the little man, smothering his pride and bitterroom. “I will have nothing to do ness and sense of injury under his with them. They will not come here. courteous and dignified exterior; the Is it not enough”- he went on, gathering widow, for whom life had no longer his breath by a painful effort, and lock- any hopes or fears, or pressing anxieing his hands together behind his back, ties--nothing but the recollection of a -"is it not enough that they are living youth ending in disappointment; the in what should still be my house, dining Rector, in the prime of life and strength, at my table, shutting my doors upon putting his whole mind to grasp the me; and shall I invite them to come present and grapple with the difficulties and see how I am changed, how every- of the moment; and, lastly, the young thing is changed? They have what girl, standing, as it were, upon the was once mine; but as to my acquaint- threshold of the world, and stretching ance, they neither want it, nor shall out eager hands towards the coming they have it."
years. Then, as if putting a force upon She looked up now, roused by the himself, he sat down again in his chair, Rector's words, and saw with a return and took his book, though he could of her former wonder, that her grandnot see the letters. “Go, Christina, father's forehead contracted involuntago ; you interrupt me,” he said, with rily for a moment, and that he made something of the former sharpness in an effort to listen patiently. But Mr. his tone: and Christina went.
Warde was not an observant man, and strange that this return, to her so he did not notice it. welcome and exciting, should be indif- “I suppose I need not hesitate to ferent to her mother, and stranger still ask them for money,” he said ; "a man that it should awaken an amount of who can afford to keep up that place