work. She was a Power in Carlingford, and she knew it; but still there is little good in the existence of a Power unless it can be made use of for some worthy end.

She was coming up Grange Lane rather late one evening, pondering upon these things-thinking within herself compassionately of poor Mr. Cavendish, a little in the same way as he had been thinking of her, but from the opposite point of view. For Lucilla could not but see the antithesis of their position, and how he was the foolish apprentice who had chosen his own way and was coming to a bad end, while she was the steady one about to ride by in her Lord Mayor's coach. And Miss Marjoribanks was thinking at the same time of the other candidate, whose canvass was going on so successfully; and that, after the election and all the excitement was over, she would feel a blank. There could be no doubt she would feel a blank and Lucilla did not see how the blank was to be filled up as she looked into the future; for, as has been said, parish work was not much in her way, and for a woman who feels that she is a Power, there are so few other outlets. She was a little disheartened as she thought it all over. Gleams of possibility, it is true, crossed her mind, such as that of marrying the member for Carlingford, for instance, and thus beginning a new and more important career; but she was too experienced a woman not to be aware by this time, that possibilities which did not depend upon herself alone had better not be calculated upon. And there did occur to her, among other things, the idea of making a great Experiment which could be carried out only by a woman of genius of marrying a poor man, and affording to Carlingford and England an example which might influence unborn generations. Such were the thoughts that were passing through her mind when, to her great surprise, she came up to her father, walking up Grange Lane over the dirty remains of the snow- for there was a great deal of snow that year. It was so strange a sight to see Dr. Marjoribanks walking that at the first glance Lucilla was startled, and thought something was the matter; but, of course, it all arose from a perfectly natural and explainable cause.

"I have been down to see Mrs. Chiley," said the Doctor; "she has her rheumatism very bad again; and the horse has been so long out that I thought I would walk home. I think the old lady is a little upset about Cavendish, Lucilla. He was always a pet of hers."

"Dear Mrs. Chiley! she is not very bad, I hope?" said Miss Marjoribanks.

"Oh no, she is not very bad," said the Doctor, in a dreary tone. "The poor old machine is just about breaking up, that is all. We can cobble it this once, but next time perhaps "

"Don't talk in such a disheartening way, papa," said Lucilla. "I am sure she is not so very old."


"We're all pretty old, for that matter," said the Doctor; we can't run on for ever, you know. If you had been a boy like that stupid fellow, Tom, you might have carried on my practice, Lucilla and even extended it, I shouldn't wonder," Dr. Marjoribanks added, with a little grunt, as who should say that is the way of the world.

"But I am not a boy," said Lucilla, mildly; " and even if I had been, you know, I might have chosen another profession. Tom never had any turn for medicine that I ever heard of"

"I hope you know pretty well about all the turns he ever had with that old-woman," said the Doctor, pulling himself up sharply, "always at your ear. I suppose she never talks of anything else. But I hope you have too much sense for that sort of thing, Lucilla. Tom will never be anything but a poor man if he were to live a hundred years."

"Perhaps not, papa," said Lucilla, with a little sigh. The Doctor knew nothing about the great social experiment which it had entered into Miss Marjoribanks's mind to make for the regeneration of her contemporaries and the good of society, or possibly he might not have distinguished Tom by that particular title. Was it he, perhaps, who was destined to be the hero of a domestic drama embodying the best principles of that Moral Philosophy which Lucilla had studied with sush success at Mount Pleasant? She d not ask herself the question, for things had not as yet come to that point, but it gleamed upon her mind as by a side-light.

"I don't know how you would get on if you were poor," said the Doctor. "I don't think that would suit you. You would make somebody a capital wife, I can say that for you, Lucilla, that had plenty of money and a liberal disposition like yourself. But poverty is another sort of thing, I can tell you. Luckily your're old enough to have got over all the love-in-a-cottage ideas-if you ever had them," Dr. Marjoribanks added. He was a worldly man himself, and he thought his daughter a

[ocr errors]

ingut Mr. Cavendish's prospects in that highet.o

worldly woman; and yet, though he ago, when she made the same magnanimous thoroughly approved of it, he still despised suggestion, “but I can't live for ever, you Lucilla a little for her prudence, which is a know. It would be a pity to sacrifice yourparadoxical state of mind not very unusual self to me, and then perhaps next morning in the world.

find that it was a useless sacrifice. It very " I don't think I ever had them,” said often happens like that when self-devotion Lucilla — “not that kind of poverty. I is carried too far. You've behaved very know what a cottage means; it means a well, and shown a great deal of good sense, wretched man, always about the house with Lucilla — more than I gave you credit for bis feet in slippers, you know what

poor when you commenced – I may say that; dear Mr. Cavendish would come to if he and if there was to be any change, for inwas poor”

stance" The Doctor laughed, though he had not “ What change ? ” said Lucilla, not withseemed up to this moment much disposed out some anxiety.; for it was an odd way of for laughing: “So that is all your opinion talking, to say the least of it; but the Docof Cavendish,” he said ; " and I don't think tor had come to a pause, and did not seem you are far wrong either; and yet that was disposed to resume. a young fellow that might have done bet- " It is not so pleasant as I thought walkter,” Dr. Marjoribanks said reflectively, ing over this snow,” he said. “I can't give perhaps not without a slight prick of con- that up, that I can see. And there's more science that he had forsaken an old friend. snow in the air if I'm any judge of the

“ Yes," said Lucilla, with a certain so- weather. There — go in — go in; don't lemnity- “ but you know, papa, if a man wait for me ;- but mind you make baste will not when he may' And she sighed, and dress, for I want my dinner. I may though the Doctor, who had not been think- have to go down to Mrs. Chiley again to light, laughed once more; but it was a It was an odd way of talking, and it was sharp sort of sudden laugh without much odd to break off like this ; but then, to be heart in it. He had most likely other sure, there was no occasion for any more things of more importance in his mind. conversation, since they had just arrived at

“Well, there have been a great many their own door. It made Lucilla uneasy off and on since that time,” he said, smiling for the moment, but while she was dressing rather grimly." It is time you were think she managed to explain it to herself, and to ing about it seriously, Lucilla. I am not think, after all, it was only natural that her so sure about some things as I once was, papa should have seen a little into the and I'd rather like to see you well settled movement and commotion of her thoughts ; before — It's a kind of prejudice a man and then poor dear old Mrs. Chiley being has,” the Doctor said abruptly, which, what- so ill, who was one of his own set, so to ever he might mean by it, was a dismal sort speak. He was quite cheerful later in the of speech to make.

evening, and enjoyed his dinner, and was “Before what, papa ?” asked Lucilla, even more civil than usual to Mrs. John. with a little alarm.

And though he did not come up to tea, he “ Tut — before long, to be sure,” he said, made his appearance afterwards with a flake impatiently

Ashburton would not be at of new-fallen snow still upon his rusty grey all amiss if he liked it and you liked it; but whiskers. He had gone to see his patient it's no use making any suggestions about again, notwithstanding the silent storm outthose things. So long as you don't marry a side. And his countenance was a little fool” – Dr. Marjoribanks said, with energy. overcast this time, no doubt by the late “I know — that is, of course, I've seen what walk, and the serious state Mrs. Chiley was that is; you can't expect to get perfection, in, and bis encounter with the snow. as you might have looked for perhaps at “ Oh yes, she is better,” he said. twenty ; but I advise you to marry, Lucilla. knew she would do this time. People at I don't think you are cut out for a single our time of life don't go off in that accidenwoman, for my part.”

tal kind of a way.

When a woman has “I don't see the good of single women,” been so long used to living, it takes ber a said Lucilla, “ unless they are awfully rich; time to get into the way of dying. She and I don't suppose I shall ever be awfully might be a long time thinking about it yet, rich. But, papa, so long as I can be a com- if all goes well fort to you"

“Papa, don't speak like that!” said Lu“ Yes," said the Doctor, with that tone cilla. " Dying! I can't bear to think of which Lucilla could remember fifteen years snch a thing. She is not so very old."

[ocr errors]

“ Such things will happen whether you whereas just now it was quite possible that can bear to think of them or not,” said the she might drop down into worsted-work and Doctor. I said


would go down and see tea-parties like any other single woman her to-morrow. We've all held out a long while Tom, who had carried off the family time - the lot of us. I don't like to think honours, and was “the boy” in this limited of the first gap myself, but somebody must and unfruitful generation, was never likely make a beginning, you know.”

to do anything to speak of, and would be a “ The Chileys were always older than poor man if he were to live for a hundred you,” said Mrs. John. "I remember in years. Perhaps there was something else poor Mrs. Marjoribanks's time; - they were behind that made the Doctor's brow conquite elderly then, and you were just be tract a little as he crossed the threshold of ginning. When my Tom was a baby' his chamber, into which, no more than into

“ We were always of the same set,” said the recesses of his heart, no one ever penthe Doctor, interrupting her without hesi- etrated; but it was the lighter idea of that tation. “ Lucilla, they say Cavendish bas comparison, which had no actual pain in it, got hold of the Rector. He has made be- but only a kind of humorous discontent, lieve to be penitent, you know. That is which was the last articulate thought in his cleverer than anything you could have done. mind as he went to his room and closed bis And if he can't be won back again it will door with a little sharpness as he always be serious, the Colonel says. You are to did, upon the outside world. try if you can suggest anything. It seems,” Aunt Jemima, for her part, lingered a litsaid the Doctor, with mingled amusement tle with Lucilla down-stairs. “My dear, I and satire, and a kind of gratification, don't think my brother-in-law looks well to“that Ashburton has great confidence in night. I don't think Carlingford is so you."

healthy as it is said to be. If I were you, “ It must have been the agent,” said Lu- Lucilla, I would try and get your papa to cilla. “I don't think any of the rest of take something," said Mrs. John, with anxthem are equal to that. I don't see, if that iety," before he goes to bed.” is the case, how we are to win him back. “Dear aunt Jemima, he never takes anyIf Mr. Ashburton had ever done anything thing. You forget he is a doctor,” said Miss very wicked, perhaps'

Marjoribanks. “It always puts him out "You are safe to say he is not penitent when he has to go out in the evening; and anyhow," said Dr. Marjoribanks, and he he is sad about Mrs. Chiley, though he took his candle and went away with a smile. would not say so.” But nevertheless LuBut either Mr. Ashburton's good opinion of cilla knocked at his door when she went up. Lucilla, or some other notion, had touched stairs. And the Doctor, though he did not the Doctor. He was not a man who said open, growled within with a voice which much at any time, but when he bade her reassured his dutiful daughter.

" What good-night, his hand drooped upon Lucilla's should I want, do you think, but to be left shoulder, and he patted it softly, as he quiet?” the Doctor said. And even Mrs. might have patted the head of a child. It John, who had waited at his door, with her was not much, but still it was a good deal candle in her hand, to hear the result, shrank from him. To feel the lingering touch of within at the sound and was seen no more. her father's hand caressing her, even in so And Miss Marjoribanks, too, went to ber mild a way, was something quite surprising rest, with more than one subject of thought and strange to Miss Marjoribanks. She which kept her awake. In the first place, looked up at him almost with alarm, but he the Rector was popular in his way, and if was just then turning away with his candle he chose to call all his forces to rally round in his hand. And he seemed to have laid a penitent, there was no saying what might aside his gloom, and even smiled to himself come of it; and then Lucilla could not help as he went up-stairs. “ If she had been the going back in the most illogical manner to boy instead of that young ass,” he said to her father's caress, and wondering what himself

. He could not have explained why was the meaning of it. Meantime the snow he was more than ordinarily hard just then fell heavily outside, and wrapped everyupon the innocent, far-distant Tom, who thing in a soft and secret whiteness. And was unlucky, it is true, but not exactly an amid the whiteness and darkness, the lamp ass, after all. But somehow it struck the burned steadily outside at the garden-gate, Doctor more than ever how great a loss it which pointed out the Doctor's door amid was to society and to herself that Lucilla all the closed houses and dark garden-walls was not "the boy.” She could have contin in Grange Lane - a kind of visible succour ued, and perhaps extended, the practice, and help always at hand for those who were


suffering. And though Dr. Marjoribanks , wind, though there was no wind even on was not like a young man making a practice, that silent snowy day to carry the matter. but had perfect command of Carlingford, Dr. Marjoribanks was dead. It put the and was one of the richest men in it, it was election out of people's heads, and even well known in the town that the very poor- their own affairs for the time being ; for est, if in extremity, in the depths of the had be not known all about the greater part wildest night that ever blew, would not seek of them seen them come into the world help there in vain. The bell that had and kept them in it - and put himself alroused him when he was young, still hung ways in the breach when the pale Death near him in the silence of his closed-up approached that way? He had never made house when he was old, and still could make very much boast of his friendliness or been him spring up, all self-possessed and ready, large in sympathetic expressions, but yet when the enemy death had to be fought he had never flinched at any time, or desertwith. But that night the snow cushioned ed his patients for any consideration. Carthe wire outside, and even made white cor- lingford was sorry, profoundly sorry, with nices and columns about the steady lamp, that true sorrow which is not so much for and the Doctor slept within, and no one dis- the person mourned as for the mourner's turbed him; for except Mrs. Chiley and a self, who feels a sense of something lost. few chronic patients, there was nothing par- The people said to themselves, Whom could ticularly amiss in Carlingford, and then it they ever find who would know their conwas Dr. Rider whom alĩ the new people stitution so well, and who was to take care of went to, the people who lived in the innumer- So-and-so if he had another attack? To able new houses at the other end of Carling- be sure Dr. Rider was at hand, who felt a ford, and had no hallowing tradition of the little agitated about it, and was conscious superior authority of Grange Lane. of the wonderful opening, and was very

ready to answer," I am here;” but a young doctor is different from an old one, and a living man all in commonplace health and

comfort is not to be compared with a dead The talk of this evening might not have one, on the morning at least of his sudden been considered of any importance to speak ending. Thank heaven, when a life is endof, but for the extraordinary and most un- ed there is always that hour or two remainlooked-for event which startled all Carling- ing to set straight the defective balances, ford next morning. Nobody could believe and do a hasty late justice to the dead, bethat it was true. Dr. Marjoribanks's pa- fore the wave sweeps on over him and tients watied for him, and declared to their washes out the traces of his steps, and lets nurses that it was all a made up-story, and in the common crowd to make their thorthat he would come and prove that he oughfare over the grave. was not dead. How could he be dead? He “ It cannot be the Doctor,” Mrs. Chiley had been as well as he ever was that last said, sobbing in her bed, “or else it has evening. He had gone down Grange Lane been in mistake for me. He was always a in the snow, to see the poor old lady who healthy man and never had anything the was now sobbing in her bed, and saying it matter with him — and a great deal youngwas all a mistake, and that it was she who er than we are, you know. If anything has ought to have died. But all those protesta- happened to him it must have been in mistions were of no avail against the cold and take for me,” said the poor old lady, and she stony fact which had frightened Thomas was so hysterical that they had to send for out of his senses, when he went to call the Dr. Rider, and she was thus the first to Doctor. He had died in the night without begin to build the new world on the foundacalling or disturbing anybody. He must tions of the old, little as she meant it. But have felt faint, it seemed, for he had got up for the moment everything was paralysed and taken a little brandy, the remains of in Grange Lane, and canvassing came to a which still stood on the table by his bedside ; standstill, and nothing was discussed but but that was all that anybody could tell Dr. Marjoribanks --- how he was dead, about it. They brought Dr. Rider, of though nobody could or would believe course; but all that he could do was to ex- it; and how Lucilla would be left, and who amine the strong, still frame, old, and yet her trustees were, and how the place could not old enough to be weakly, or to explain ever get used to the want of him, or would such suuden extinction, which had ceased ever look like itself again without his famiits human functions. And then the news liar presence. It was by way of relieving swept over Carlingford like a breath of their minds from the horror of the idea,

[ocr errors]


705 that the good people rushed into consulta- | be feeling, and cry out, like all the rest of tions what Lucilla vould do. It took their the world, that it could not be true. But, minds a little off tne ghastly imagination of to be sure, that was a state of feeling that that dark room with the snow on the win- could not last long. There are events for dow, and the late moonlight trying to get which something higher than accident must into the darkness, and the white rigid face be held accountable, were one ever so ready inside, as he was said to bave been found. to take the burden of affairs on one's own It could not but make a terrible change to shoulders; and Lucilla knew, when she her— indeed, through her it could not but came to herself, that if she had watched male a great change to everybody. The ever so long or so closely, that could have Doctor's house would, of course, be shut had no effect upon the matter. After a up, which had been the most hospitable while the bewildering sense of her own house in Carlingford, and things would changed position began to come upon her, drop into the unsatisfactory state they used and roused her up into that feverish and to be in before Miss Marjoribanks's time, unnatural activity of thought which, in and there would no longer be anybody to some minds, is the inevitable reaction after organize society. Such were the ideas the the unaccustomed curb and shock of grief. ladies of Grange Lane relapsed into by When she had got used to that dreadful way of delivering themselves from the pain certainty about her father, and had suddenof their first realization of what had hap- ly come with a leap to the knowledge that pened. It would make a great change. she was not to blame, and could not help it, Even the election and its anticipated joys and that though he was gone, she remained, could not but change character in some re- it is no censure upon Lucilla to say that her spects at least, and there would be nobody head became' immediately full of a horror to make the best of them; and then the and confusion of thoughts, an involuntary question was, What would Lucifla do ? stir and bustle of plans and projects, which Would she have strength to make an ef. she did all she could to put down, but which fort," as some people suggested; or would would return and overwhelm her whether she feel not only her grief, but her down- she chose it or not. She could not help fall, and that she was now only a single asking herself what her new position was, woman, and sink into a private life, as some thinking it over, so strangely free and new others were inclined to believe.

and unlimited as it seemed. "And it must be Inside the house, naturally, the state of recollected that Miss Marjoribanks was a affairs was sad enough. . Lucilla, notwith- woman of very active mind and great enstanding the many other things she had had ergies, too old to take up a girl's fancy that to occupy her mind, was fond of her father, all was over because she had encountered a and the shock overwhelmed her for the natural grief on her passage, and too young moment. Though she was not the kind of not to see a long future still before her. woman to torture herself with thinking of She kept her room, as was to be expected, things that she might have done, still at the and saw nobody, and only moved the housefirst moment the idea that she ought not to hold and superintended the arrangements in have left nim alone — that she should have a muffled way through Thomas, who was an sat up and watched or taken some extraor-old servant, and knew the ways” of the dinary unusual precaution — was not to house; but notwithstanding her seclusion be driven away from her mind. The reign and her honest sorrow, and her perfect obof reason was eclipsed in her as it often is servance of all the ordinary restraints of in such an emergency. She said it was her the moment, it would be wrong to omit all fault in the first horror. “When I saw how mention of this feverish bustle of thinking he was looking, and how he was talking, I which came into Lucilla's mind in her solishould never have left him," said Lucilla, tude. Of all that she had to bear, it was which indeed was a very natural thing to the thing that vexed and irritated and dissay, but would have been an utterly impos- tressed her the most — as if; she said to hersible one to carry out, as she saw when she self indignantly, she ought to have been came to think of it. But she could not able to think of anything! And the think of it just then. She did not think at chances are that Lucilla, for sheer duty's all that first long snowy, troubled day, but sake, would have said, if anybody had went about the house, on the bedroom floor, asked, that of course she had not thought wringin, ner hands like a creature distract- of anything as yet; without being aware ed. "If I had only sat up,” she said; and that the mere shock, and horror, and prothen she would recall the touch of his hand found commotion had a great deal more to on her shoulder, which she seemed still to do than anything else in producing that THIRD SERIES. LIVING AGE. VOL. XXXII. 1485.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »