Imágenes de páginas

intercourse with her during a fortnight's visit paid to Mrs. Walton at Westhaven.

Oh, if only her husband had but known! If that letter had bat been received ; if only when he retarnod she had found courage to tell the entire facts! Then, just possibly he too might have been willing to have adopted the orphan as in some sort a second child; perhaps that was hardly likely, but, at least, in so many ways impossible now, she could then have given vent to her own affection.

Before the year closed a second bereavement visited the family; Mrs. Weatherill, senior, died, and so suddenly, that her son and daughters residing in Kingsport were unable to reach London before she breathed her last. Her eldest son, settled in London, and his sister Emily, with whom she lived, were both with her during the hours of her brief illness. Not long before the end came she spoke of the breach existing in the family, and entreated her son to use every endearoor to obtain a reconciliation.

At the faneral the brothers met, and respect for their departed mother prevented any manifestation of ill-feeling. On the next day they met again at their sister's house, and Henry, with faltering voice, repeated the dying wish of their mother, and asked for reconcilement.

While his brother was speaking, Edward stood with pale face and quivering lips, but with tightly-folded arms. “Yes, Henry," he said, “willingly; if you acknowledge that you were in the wrong, and you only !”

“Yes, yes,” Henry said, hurriedly, "I will say anything you like for reconciliation ;” and he extended his hand.

Edward stood without moving. “ That will not do,” he said ; "I am not the kind of man to be satisfied with words that I saspect to have no true meaning. Do you acknowledge truly, without disguise, that the entire wrong was on your own part ? ”

Henry remained silent for a moment; then he said, “Oh, Edward ; why not let bygones be bygones ? For our mother's sake, because it was her dying request, let us be brothers once more.” And again he extended his hand.

Again Edward's lips quivered, but in another instant he commanded his voice, and replied, with cold calmness, " Trath first, affection second," tarned round, and left the room.

Remaining in London a few days, bat wishful to avoid any farther meeting with his brother, he accepted the hospitality of Thomas Lamley, the distant and not very desirable family connection, who had been for years treated by Edward with a friendliness which appeared to his sisters very needless ; indeed, it was ascribed by them to mere perversity. And this intercourse was soon renewed, as early in the next year Lumley removed from London to Westbaven, and in the spring paid, with his wife, a short visit to the Weatherills at Kingsport.

Clarissa received her guests with the ready, kindly welcome she accorded to all her husband's friends, but the Misses Weatherill treated the Lumleys with only the coolest civility.

“Clarissa," said Elizabeth, "I know you must show courtesy to any visitors my brother chooses to invite; but were I


I should be very cautious what I said to Mrs. Lumley, or in her presence ! I wholly distrast that woman; I believe she is a mischief-maker.

“Oh, sister, I do not think that, really," was the answer. "I like her very much, and she is very kind and nice. She is so fond of Alice, and thinks so much of her, and plays duets with her, and yesterday she would trim her hat; I was going to send it to the milliner, and she did it beautifully. She wouid have liked dear Bertie ; I showed her his photograph, and she knew just the kind of boy he was, so brave and spirited! Why do you think so ill of her? How do you know she is a mischief-maker?”

“Oh, I know it by a sort of intuition. Sarah says I am too suspicious; my experience of life has not made me very trustful. I seldom see any one without forming a tolerably decided opinion of them, favourable or otherwise ; and in nine cases out of ten that first opinion is the right one. Over and over it has happened that when facts have seemed jo give disproof, and I have felt obliged to modify my judgment, later facts have abundantly proved that my first thoughts were true after all.”

“Well, you know, I am not so clever as you, nor as Mrs. Lamley either. Do you know, she will argue a question with Edward, taking the other side, and he seems rather to like it. I should be afraid ; and besides, I never want to dispute, for Edward always pats everything so clearly, I can't help seeing things just as he does-about public matters, and things of that sort, I mean.” Oh, yes;

I know Edward's whims are laws to you, and his beliefs demonstrated truths. You are a model wife. I did best to keep my liberty of action and of thought. I should have made a poor Griselda, and should have refused pointblank, had I been Enid, to drive those six war horses, all pulling different ways. But seriously ; if you will allow me to advise, I would be very careful in my intercourse with Mrs. Lumley, and not be too ready with a second invitation."

“That I have already given. I told her that we should be glad to see her whenever she could conveniently come. Lizzie, I do think you are mistaken.”

And when she retarned home, and found her guest seated beside Alice at the piano, and was greeted with a sweet smile and the

And really,

remark, “ What excellent time the dear child keeps,” she felt an absolute assurance that she was a most estimable woman, and thought within herself that though she did not wish to indulge one onkind reflection on Elizabeth, yet Sarah was not altogether wrong. She was just a little too suspicious. If she knew more of Mrs. Lamley, she would like her better. Perhaps another time, on a second visit, they would become further acquainted, and then all such thonghts would certainly pass away.


And Irene? Daring these passing seasons, what of her ?

She still remained an inmate of Miss Ingram's establishment for young ladies, which was, as heretofore, carried on in the quiet, highly respectable Portsmouth Square.

But there also changes had been. New pupils had come, and old ones had left; among the number Irene's kind friend, Ellen Seymour. The greatest change of all was that the domestic arrangements of the large household were no longer controlled by the kindly Mrs. Ingram. Greatly to the surprise of all their friends, who had believed her lot to be unalterably associated with that of her daughter, she had yielded to an old friend of her late husband's, widowed, and deprived by death or removal of all his children, who had besoaght her to share his deserted house, and make it a home once more.

Mach tried, and rather aggrieved, Miss Ingram had felt. She had so securely reckoned on the continued enjoyment of her mother's society, sympathy, and help ; and she now became dimly conscious that, to a greater degree than she had been aware, or would at all have acknowledged, she had relied in cases of perplexity on the homely common sense and readier appreciation of character possessed by her mother. Even in the matter of carefal yet comfortable domestic arrangements, the paid housekeeper very imperfectly supplied Mrs. Ingram's place, and the pupils constantly missed the motherly presence, that had given something of a home feeling to their school life.

By Irene especially was Mrs. Ingram missed. From the first she had telt much kindly interest in the lonely orphan; and, wanting in cultivation though she was, she had always manifested more sympathy with her intellectual activities, tastes, and aspirations than had Miss Ingram, whose ideas were narrowed within her "system of education."

Between the minds of governess and pupil there existed an incompatibility almost amounting to antagonism. Irene knew that she was under much obligation to her instructress, and she was not ungratefal; yet the rendering of any hearty affection seemed an impossibility. Miss Ingram watched over Irene with conscientious care, nor did she fail to appreciate her efforts to do her duty; yet she regarded her with a feeling of dissatisfaction and a never-ceasing nervous apprehension of some eccentricity in word or deed.

She was also quite aware that her papil proved a very saccessful teacher of the class of young children that had been entrusted to her for a short time in each day. So manifest was her capability, that she had been increasin gly employed in this manner, and on the second Christmas Miss Ingram had intimated to Mrs. Weatherill that in fatare she would accept a smaller payment. She had also expressed a hope that in another year, if Miss Lauriston proved equally attentive to her duties, and succeeded in conquering some defects of character, she might be able to find her a place on her staff of teachers, at a small commencing salary, should such plan meet Mrs. Weatherill's views. For her encou. ragement Miss Ingram expressed the same hope to Irene herself, qualified by the same conditions.

Gratified she was by this sign of appreciation, but the plan itself she regarded with doubt, and with very mixed feelings. It would be a great satisfaction to relieve dear Mrs. Weatherill of any further expense on her account, and teaching was an occupation she should prefer to most others. But then, if she were a teacher she should like to follow her own ideas as to the best ways of teaching, not Miss Ingram's, and she was rather weary of life in Portsmouth Square. It was not amiss for the present, but to settle down there permanently was not at all in accord with any one of the day-dreams she had indulged. In such a life what room was there for keen delights, tragic grief, heroic actions !

She had not forgotten her long-formed plan of shaking herself free from all control on her fifteenth birthday, and making her way back to the blue skies and balmy air of the sanny South ; but as the time drew nearer, difficulties and doubts certainly did present themselves, asking for delay, if not abandonment.

A long time before this she had mentioned her scheme, in confidence, to John Rivers; and although he had not laughed at or roughly contradicted her, she saw it did not commend itself to his judgment; and when she had suggested that he should save up his

money and come too, jast for a holiday, and take care of her, and let her show him Florence, or Rome, or Venice-she was not quite sure to which she was going—and see her comfortably settled before he returned, he had only smiled, without giving the least sign of assent.

Her intercourse with the Rivers family had continued ever since the Christmas vacation spent in their home. She was always made welcome there, and Miss Ingram, feeling that her pupil's peculiarities would be aggravated by isolation, and knowing she would be in safe keeping when with her relatives, did not object to the intimacy, but rather gave it her full concurrence.

Lettie was always anxious for Irene's companionship, and when Rose returned they, too, became friends. Rose was not intellectoal, but then she affected nothing of the kind, dutifully admired her sister Hilda, and willingly acquiesced in the claim of her new friend to mental superiority. As regarded their brother, both Jolin and Irene had so quietly assumed that they, in particular, were fast friends and congenial companions, that this friendship had been accepted by others without observation, as though it were a natural and necessary arrangement.

Very pleasant to Irene was John's regard for her. He was the only person, older than herself, who never roughly contradicted her, or laughed at her wildest projects; but, instead, listened with interested attention to all she chose to say, and always endeavoured to fulfil her wishes and gratify her tastes. And, truth to tell, Irene, perceiving her power, did not fail to use it, permitting her friend pretty constantly, the privilege of ministering, in one way or another, to her desires and fancies.

Thus matters had stood with Irene until the early summer of this year. But then occurred an incident which disturbed the course of things, and led to a direct collision between her will and the wills of those who had the power and the right to control her actions.

A few residents in and around Westhaven, interested in art, had arranged for an exhibition of paintings, and the large room of the Philosophical Institute, situated in Cliff Street, was occu pied by a valuable collection of works, ancient and modern. By the suggestion of one of the promoters, whose little girl attended her school, Miss Ingram, determined to afford her pupils an opportanity of viewing the exhibition; and one morning, when the bright Jane sunshine fell pleasantly on the grey cathedral, and the fresh leafage of the trees in the Cathedral Green, the long row of young ladies came up St. Austin's Parade and passed along the wide pavement before the tempting shopwindows, and down a sharp descent and ap again, with Cliff Street rising straight and high before them; then entered the Grecian portico of the Institute and passed into the vestibale, graced by easts of the Apollo, the Venus, the Dying Gladiator and the terrible Laocoon, and np the wide stone staircase into the room where paintings, large and small, by old masters, recent or living artists, hung on the crimson drapery.

« AnteriorContinuar »