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a subject is an offence to a woman, and her! no more, no more.” As she lifted her colour rose and her breath came quick, hands with an impatient gesture of horror, without any will of hers. As for the Major, and towered over him as he sat by, having he abandoned the broader general question thus interrupted and cut short his speech, a and went back to the detail, as was natural certain fear went through Major Ochterto the man.

lony's mind. Could her mind be going ? “ If you only have the lines all safe,” he Had the shock been too much for her ? He said, " if you would but make sure of it could not understand otherwise how the I confess old Sommerville's death was a suggestion which he thought a wise one, great shock to me, Mary, — the last sur- and of advantage to his own peace of mind, viving witness ; but Kirkman tells me the should have stung her into such an incommarriage lines in Scotland are a woman's prehensible passion. But he was afraid and safeguard, and Kirkman is a Scotchman silenced, and could not go on. and ought to know."

“My dear Mary," he said mildly, “ I had “ Have you been consulting him?no intention of vexing you. We can speak said Mary, with a certain despair; " have of this another time. Sit down, and I'll you been talking of such a subject to”. get you a glass of water,” he added, with

“I don't know where I could have a anxious affection : and hurriel off to seek better confidant,” said the Major. “ Mary, it; for he was a good husband, and very my darling, they are both attached to you fond of his wife, and was terrified to see

-- and they are good people, though they her turn suddenly pale and faint, not with. talk; and then he is Scotch, and under- standing that he was quite capable of stands. If anything were to happen to me, wounding her in the most exquisite and and you had any difficulty in proving delicate point. But then he did not mean

“ Hugh, for Heaven's sake, have done it. He was a matter-of-fact man, and the with this. I cannot put up with any more,” | idea of marrying his wife over again in case cried Mrs. Ochterlony, who was at the end there might be any doubtfulness about the first of her powers.

marriage, seemed to him only a rational sugIt was time for the great coup for which gestion, which no sensible woman ought to his restless soul had been preparing. He be disturbed by; though no doubt it was anapproached the moment of fate with a cer- noying to be compelled to have recourse to tain skill, such as weak people occasionally such an expedient. So he went and display, and mad people almost always, - as fetched her the water, and gave up the subif the feeble intellect had a certain right by ject, and stayed with her all the afternoon reason of its weakness to the same kind of and read the papers to her, and made himdefence which is possessed by the mind self agreeable. It was a puzzling sort of diseased. Hush, Mary, you are excited,” demonstration on Mary's part, but that did he said, “ and it is only you I am thinking not make her the less Mary, the dearest of. If anything should happen to me - I and best of earthly creatures. So Major am quite well

, but no man can answer for Ochterlony put his proposal aside for a his own life:— my dear, I am afraid you more favourable moment, and did all he will be vexed with what I am going to could to make his wife forget it, and say — but for my own satisfation for my behaved himself as a man naturally would peace of mind — if we were to go through behave who was recognized as the best husthe ceremony again

band and most domestic man in the regiMary Ochterlony rose up with sudden ment. Mary took her seat again and her passion. It was altogether out of propor- work, and the afternoon went on as if tion to her husband's intentions or errors, nothing had happened. They were a most and perhaps to the occasion. That was but united couple, and very happy together, as a vexatious complication of ordinary life; everybody knew; or if one of them at any and he a fidgety, uneasy, perhaps over-con- chance moment was perhaps less than perscientious, well-meaning man. She rose, fectly blessed, it was not, at any rate, tragic without knowing it, with a swell in her because the love-match, irregular as it heart of the unutterable and supreme might be, had ended in any lack of love. feeling herself for the moment an outraged wife, an insulted woman, and a mother wounded to the heart. I will hear no more,” she said, with lips that had suddenly grown parched and dry.

MRS. OCHTERLONY sat and worked and another word. If it has come to this, I listened, and her husband read the papers will take my chance with my boys. Hugh, to her, picking out by instinct all those lit

CHAPTER II.

6 Don't say

tle bits of news that are grateful to people was a special providence,” said Mrs. Kirkwho are far away from their own country. man, who was the Colonel's wife : for, to be And he went through the births and mar- sure, to be romantically adored by a foolish riages, to see " if there is anybody we know," young subaltern, was embarassing for a wa

notwithstanding that he was aware that man, however perfect her mind and tempcorner of the paper is one which a woman er and fairest fame might be. It was he who does not leave to any reader, but makes originated the name, perhaps with some it a principle to examine herself. And Mary faint foolish thought of Petrarch and his sat still and went on with her work, and not Madonna Laura: and then he died and another syllable was said about old Som- did no more harm; and a great many merville, or the marriage lines, or anything people adopted it, and Mary herself did not that had to do with the previous conversa- object to be addressed by that sweetest of tion. This tranquillity was all in perfect titles. And yet she was not meek enough good faith on Major Ochterlony's side, who for the name. Her complexion was very had given up the subject with the intention fair, but she had only a very faint rose-tint of waiting until a more convenient season, on her cheeks, so faint that people called and who had relieved his mind by talking her pale — which, with her fairness, was a of it, and could put off his anxiety. But as drawback to her. Her hair was light-brown, for Mary, it was not in good faith that she with a golden reflection that went and put on this expression of outward calm. came, as if it somehow depended upon the She knew her husband, and she knew that state of her mind and spirits; and her eyes he was pertinacious and insisting, and that were dark, large, and lambent, - not sparka question which he had once started was ling, but concentrating within themselves a not to be made an end of, and finally settled, soft, full depth of light. It was a question in so short a time. She sat with her head whether they were gray or brown ; but at all a little bent, hearing the bits of news run on events they were dark and deep. And she like a kind of accompaniment to the quick- was, perhaps, a little too large and full and flowing current of her own thoughts. Her matronly in all her proportions to please a heart was beating quick, and her blood cours- youthful critic. Naturally such a woman ing through her veins as if it had been a had a mass of hair which she scarcely knew sudden access of fever which had come what to do with, and which at this moment upon her. She was a tall, fair, serene wo- seemed to betray the disturbed state of her man, with no paltry passion about her; but mind by unusual gleams of the golden reat the same time, when the occasion requir- flection which sometimes lay quite tranquil ed it, Mary was capable of a vast suppressed and hidden among the great silky coils. fire of feeling which it gave her infinite She was very happily married, and Major trouble to keep down. I'his was a side of Ochterlony was the model husband of the her character which was not suspected by regiment. They had married very young, the world in general - meaning of course and made a runaway love-match which was the regiment, and the ladies at the station, one of the few which everybody allowed who were all, more or less, military. Mrs. had succeeded to perfection. But yet Ochterlony was the kind of woman to whom There are so few things in this world which by instinct any stranger would have appro- succeed quite to perfection. It was Mrs. priated the name of Mary; and naturally Kirkman's opinion that nobody else in the all her intimates (and the regiment was regiment could have supported the Major's very nice,” and lived in great harmony, fidgety temper. “It would be a great trial and they were all intimate) called her by for the most experienced Christian," she her Christian — most Christian name. And said; "and dear Mary is still among the there were people who put the word Ma- babes who have to be fed with milk; but donna before it, " as if the two did not Providence is kind, and I don't think she mean the same thing !” said little Mrs. As- feels it as you or I would.” This was the opinkell, the ensign's baby-wife, whose education ion of the Colonel's wife; but as for Mary, as had been neglected, but whom Mrs. Och- she sat and worked and listened to her husterlony had been very kind to. It was diffi- band reading the papers, perhaps she could cult to know how the title had originated, have given a different version of her own though people did say it was young Staf- composure and calm. ford who had been brought up in Italy, They had been married about ten years, and who had such a strange adoration for and it was the first time he had taken this Mrs. Ochterlony, and who died, poor fel- idea into his head. It is true that Mrs. low! - which was the best thing he could Ochterlony looked at it solely as one of his have done under the .circumstances. “It ideas, and gave no weight whatever to the death of old Sommerville, or the loss of the had taken no pains for her own safety, and marriage lines. She had been very young had not an idea what registrars meant, nor at the time of her marriage, and she was marriage laws, nor “lines." All that she motherless, and had not those pangs of knew was that a great many people were marwounded delicacy to encounter, which a ried at Gretna Green, and that she was maryoung woman ought to have who abandons ried, and that there was an end of it. All her home in such a way. This perhaps these things came up and passed before her arose from a defect in Mary's girlish unde- mind in a somewhat hurrying crowd; but veloped character; but the truth was, that Mary's mature judgment did not disapprove she too belonged to an Indian family, and of the young bride who believed what was said had no home to speak of, nor any of the to her, and was content, and had unbounded sweeter ties to break. And after that, she faith in the blacksmith and in her bridehad thought nothing more about it. She groom. If that young woman had been ocwas married, and there was an end of it; cupying herself about the register, Mrs. and the young people had gone to India Ochterlony probably, looking back, would immediately, and had been very poor and have entertained but a mean opinion of her. very happy and very miserable, like other It was not anything she had done. It was young people who begin the world in an in- not anything special, so far as she could see, considerate way. But in spite of a hun- in the circumstances : for hosts of people dred drawbacks, the happiness had always before and after had been married on the been pertinacious, lasted longest, and held Scottish border. The only conclusion accordout most_steadfastly, and lived everything ingly that she could come to, was the natural down. For one thing, Mrs. Ochterlony conclusion, that it was one of the Major's had a great deal to do, not being rich, and notions. But there was little comfort in that happily quite preserved her from the that, for Mrs. Ochterlony was aware that danger of brooding over the Major's fidgets, his notions were persistent, that they lived and making something serious out of them. and lasted and took new developments, and And then they had married so young that were sometimes very hard to get rid of. neither of them could ever identify himself And she sighed in the midst of the newsor herself, or make the distinction that paper reading, and betrayed that she had more reasonable couples can between “me” not been listening. Not that she expected and "you." This time, however, the Ma- her husband's new whim to come to anyjor's restlessness had taken an uncomfort- thing; but because she foresaw in it endless able form. Mary felt herself offended and repetitions of the scene which had just insulted without knowing why. She, a ended, and endless exasperation and wearimatron of ten years' standing, the mother ness to herself. of children! She could not believe that Major Ochterlony stopped short when he she had really heard true, that a repetition heard his wite sigh — for he was not a man of her marriage could have been suggested to leave anything alone, or to practise a disto her — and at the same time she knew creet neglect - and laid down his paper that it was perfectly true. It never occur- and looked with anxiety in her face. red to her as a thing that possibly might have a headache,” he said tenderly; “I saw have to be done, but still the suggestion it- it the moment I entered the room. Go self was a wound. Major Ochterlony, for and lie down, my dear, and take care of his part, thought of it as a precaution, and yourself. You take care of everybody else,” good for his peace of mind, as he had said ; said the Major. Why did you let me go but to Mary it was scarcely less offensive on reading the paper like an ass, when than if somebody else had ventured to make your head aches ?” love to her, or offer her his allegiance. It “My head does not ache. I was only seemed to her an insult of the same descrip- thinking,” said Mrs. Ochterlony: for she tion, an outrage which surely could not thought on the whole it would be best to have occurred without some unwitting folly resume the subject and endeavour to make on her part to make such a proposal possible. an end of it. But this was not the Major's She went away, searching back into the far, way. He had in the meantime emptied his far distant years, as she sat at work and he reservoir, and it had to be filled again beread the papers. Had she anyhow failed in fore he would find himself in the vein for womanly restraint or delicacy at that mo. speech. ment when she was eighteen, and knew of “But I don't want you to think,” said nothing but honour, and love, and purity in Major Ochterlony with tender patronage : the world ? To be sure, she had not occupied " that ought to be my part of the business. herself very much about the matter -- she Have you got a novel ? — if not, I'll go

h You

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over and ask Miss Sorbette for one of hers. protect and pardon and put up with. PerLie down and rest, Mary; I can see that is haps all men are not of the same way of all you are good for today.”

thinking ; but then Major Ochterlony reaWhether such a speech was aggravating soned only in his own way. or not to a woman who knew that it was Mary stayed behind, and found it very her brain which had all the real weight of difficult to occupy herself with anything. the family affairs to bear, may be conjec- It was not temper, according to the ordinatured by wives in general who know the ry meaning of the word. She was vexed, sort of thing. But as for Mary, she was so disturbed, disquieted, rather than angry. used to it, that she took very little notice. When she took up the pleasant letter in She said, " Thank you, Hugh ; I have got wbich the English breezes were blowing my letters here, which I have not read, and and the leaves rustling, she could no longer Aunt Agatha is as good as a novel.” If this keep her attention from wandering. She was not a very clear indication to the Ma- began it a dozen times, and as often gave it jor that his best policy was to take himself up again, driven by the importunate off a little, and leave her in peace, it would thoughts which took her mind by storm and be hard to say what could have taught him. thrust everything else away. As if it were But then Major Ochterlony was a man of a not enough to have one great annoyance ely mind and above being taught. suddenly overwhelming her, she had the

Ah, Aunt Agatha,” he said. My dear, standing terror of her life, the certainty I know it is a painful subject, but we must, that she should have to send her children you know, begin to think where we are to away, thrown in to make up. She could send Hugh."

have cried, had that been of any use; but Mary shuddered; her nerves for she had Mrs. Ochterlony had had good occasion to nerves, though she was so fair and serene cry many times in her life, whicb takes began to get excited. She said, “ For pity's away the inclination at less important mosake, not any more to-day. I am worn out. ments. The worst of all was that her husI cannot bear it. He is only six, and he is band's oft-repeated suggestion struck at the quite well.”

very roots of her existence, and seemed to The Major shook his head. " He is throw everything of which she had been very well, but I have seen when a few most sure into sudden ruin. She would put

hours changed all that,” he said. “We no faith in it- pay no attention to it, she cannot keep him much longer. His age, said to herself; and then, in spite of heryou know; all the little Heskeths go at four, self, she found that she paid great attention, I think.”

and could not get it out of her mind. The “ Ah," said Mary, “the Heskeths have only character in which she knew herself — nothing to do with it; they have floods and in which she had ever been known floods of children, - they don't know what that of a wife. There are some women it is; they can do without their little things; many women — - who have felt their own inbut Í - Hugb, I am tired - I am not able dependent standing before they made the for any more. Let me off for to-day.” first great step in a woman's life, and who

Major Octerlony regarded his wife with are able to realize their own identity withcalm indulgence, and smoothed her hair out associating it forever with that of any off her hot forehead as he stooped to kiss other. But as for Mary, she had married, her. “If you only would call things by the as it were, out of the nursery, and except same names as other people, and say you as Hugh Oehterlony's wife, and his son's have a headache, my dear," he said in his mother, she did not know herself. In such caressing way; And then he was so good circumstances, it may be imagined what a as to leave her, saying to himself as he bewildering effect any doubt about her marwent away that his Mary too had a little riage would have upon her. For the first temper, though nobody gave her credit for time she began to think of herself, and 10 it. Instead of annoying him, this little tem- see that she had been hardly dealt with. per on Mary's part rather pleased her hus- She began to resent her guardian's carelessband. When it came on he could be indul- ness, and to blame even kind Aunt Agatha, gent to her and pet her, which he liked to who in those days was taken up with some do; and then he could feel the advantage faint love-affairs of her own which never on his own side, which was not always the came to anything. Why did not they see

His heart quite swelled over her as that everything was right? Why did not he went away; so good and so wise and so Hugh make sure, whose duty it was? After fair, and yet not without that womanly she had vexed herself with such thoughts, weakness which it was sweet for a man to she returned with natural inconsistency to

was

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the conclusion that it was all one of the Ma-, this history any clear account of an Indian jor's notions. This was the easiest way of get- bungalow, or the manner in which life goes ting rid of it, and yet it was aggravating on in that curious kind of English home : enough that the Major should permit his so that it would be vain to attempt any derestless faney to enter such sacred ground, tailed description of Mary Ochterlony's and to play with the very foundations of life at this period of her career. She lived their life and honour. And as if that was very much as all the others lived, and gave not enough, to talk at the end of it all of a great deal of attention to her two little sending Hugh away! Perhaps it would boys, and wrote regularly by every mail to have been good for Mary if she had taken her friends in England, and longed for the her husband's advice and lain down, and days when the mail came in, though the insent over to Miss Sorbette for a novel. terest of her correspondence was not abBut she was rebellious and excited, and sorbing. All this she did like everybody would not do it. It was true that they else, though the other ladies at the station were engaged out to dinner that night, had perhaps more people belonging to them, and that when the hour came Mrs. Ochter- and a larger number of letters, and got lony entered Mrs. Hesketh's drawing-room more good of the eagerly-looked-for mail. with her usual composure, and without any And she read all the books she could come betrayal of the agitation that was still by, even Miss Sorbette's novels, which were spouldering within. But that did not make indeed the chief literary nourishment of it any easier for her. There was nobody the station; and took her due share in more respected, as people say, in the sta- society, and was generally very popution than she was - and to think that it lar, though not so superior as Miss Sorwas possible that such a thing might be, bette for example, nor of obtrusive piety as that she should be humiliated and pulled like Mrs. Kirkman, nor nearly so well off down from her fair elevation among all as Mrs. Hesketh. Perhaps these three these women! Neither the Major nor any ladies, who were the natural leaders of man bad any right to have notions upon a society, liked Mary all the better because matter of such importance. Mary tried she did not come in direct contact with hard to calm herself down to her ordinary their claims; though if it had ever entered tranquillity, and to represent to herself how into Mrs. Ochterlony's head to set up a disgood he was, and how small a drawback af- tinct standard, no doubt the masses would ter all were those fidgets of his, in compari- have flocked to it, and the peace of the son with the faults of most other men. station might have been put in jeopardy. Just as he represented to himself, with But as no such ambitious project was in her more success, how trifling a disadvantage mind, Mary kept her popularity with everywas the “ little temper” which gave him the body, and gained besides that character of privilege, now and then, of feeling tenderly " She could an if she would,” which goes superior to his wife. But the attempt was a great deal farther than the limited repunot successful that day in Mrs. Ochterlony's tation of any actual achievement. She was mind; for after all there are some things very good to the new people, the young too sacred for discussion, and with which people, the recent arrivals

, and managed to the most fidgety man in the world cannot make them feel at home sooner than anybe permitted to play. Such was the result body else could, which was a very useful of the first conversation upon this startling gift in such a society; and then a wife who subject. The Major found himself very bore her husband's fidgets so serenely was tolerably at his ease, having relieved his mind naturally a model and example for all the for the moment, and enjoyed his dinner new wives. and spent a very pleasant evening; but as “I am sure nobody else in the station for the Madonna Mary, she might have could do so well,” Mrs. Kirkman said. prejudiced her serene character in the eyes " The most experienced Christian would of the regiment had the veil been drawn find it a trying task. But then some peoaside only for a moment, and could any- ple are so 'mercifully fitted for their posibody have seen or guessed the whirl of tion in life. I don't think she feels it as thoughts that was passing through her un- you or I should.” This was said, not as imeasy mind.

plying that little Mrs. Askell — to whom the words were ostensibly addressed — had

peculiarly sensitive feelings, or was in any THE present writer has already lamented way to be associated with the Colonel's wife, her inability to convey to the readers of but only because it was a favourite way

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CHAPTER III.

THIRD SERIES.

LIVING AGE.

VOL. XXXII.

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