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It is not always May, in any station,
Which we may fill upon this changefal earth;
may be one long, serene vacation
God gives to each some days of summer glory,
Some quiet hours of autamn's peace and rest;
And then the May-time that we love the best.
It is the memory of dark November
That makes the May so precious in our eyes ;
Our present bliss we might too lightly prize.
The thirsty sammer-land looks all the fairer
When the brief, cooling thunder shower is o'er;
Because of shadows that have come before.
And by-and-by, I think we all shall render
A deep thanksgiving for each shadowed day;
That in our lives it was not always May.
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CHAPTER XI.-SEVEN YEARS. It was getting dark in the schoolroom of River House at Southcombe, Chalkshire. It had been a tempestuous wintry day; heavy storm-clouds laden with snow were piled op in huge masses above the barren downs; and the last red gleams of a wild sunset were dying on the heaving, restless waters of a sullen sea. Bat with the sunset the wind had lolled; the horizon ont seawards had somewhat brightened ; and now a large roand moon was just beginning to gild the craggy heights of Corringdown. A young girl, tall, slim, and shabbily attired, was sitting quite close to the window, bending closely over some task of common needlework, and plying her fingers busily, and even anxiously, as if to make the best possible use of the faint twilight that remained.
Suddenly the needle slipped from the thread, and, in finding it, several minutes were consumed ; and then even the girl-sempstress's sharp yoang eyes failed to obey her will. In vain she held the needle and the cotton against the fading light; she could not succeed in the needful operation which must be performed before she could resume her labours. After several fruitless attempts she gave it up, threw down her work, and resigned herself to idleness. “ It is of no use," she said, as the holland slipped to her feet; “I could not finish it; I have had so many interruptions ; and I quite forgot all the morning that I had it to do. Aunt will be very angry, of course; but that is no unusual occurrence, and
I don't know that I care much about it. I'll sit here till the teabell rings, if no one comes to tell me I am wanted. I wonder if I can manage to slip out this evening and get to nurse's cottageit will be a fine moonlight night, I fancy, and I long for a lonely walk."
The speaker was no other than Hilda Warleigh; bat no longer the spoiled, petted little Hilda of other days-no longer the enfant terrible who had once been renowned for making the most infelicitous remarks, and for speaking her mind on every subject and on every possible occasion. Seven years had elapsed since the second Mrs. Willabye drove away with her bridegroom from the old house in the Square, and faithfully had Janetta kept her word with reference to the outspoken little lady of past time. Long, long ago she had got “the whip hand” of the vexations child ; and Hilda had scarcely recovered from the astonishment which had overwhelmed her at finding her dear Janetta no longer at her disposal, when she made the anpleasant discovery that she had secured for herself an inflexible ruler and a tyrant. At first, the little girl struggled with all her might and main against the novel restraint imposed upon her actions as well as upon her speech, and she even appealed piteously to “uncle ;” bat too soon she found that he either would not or could not interfere on her behalf; and, to crown all, incessant complaints were proferred against her ;she was naughty, she was passionate, she was idle, untruthfal, spiteful, mischievous, pert-all, in fact, that a little girl ought not to be!
Janetta, on her return home to Bloomsbury, took her in hand at once, and so vigorous and so unrelenting was her discipline, that Miss Warleigh came back to River House three months after the marriage, so much subdued, that those who had been left there in cbarge could hardly believe that they had to do with the same wayward child. Bat she was not conquered-she was not really conquered now, after seven years of the strictest training; but she bad learned the secret of self-repression ; she had discovered, after many painful experiences, the fatility, the atter folly, of striving against “the powers that be." Yet still the struggle went on; her heart ceaselessly rebelled and protested against the injustice with which she was treated by this woman, whom people called her aunt !
On first settling down at River House, with her quondam-pseudo governess, she had flatly refused to address her uncle's wife as " Aunt”—she had persisted in calling her still “ Janetta !” And when taken to task, and finally punished, for tbe impropriety, she had elected to say “Mrs. Willabye.” This, however, did not satisfy the lady of the house. Frank was uncle, therefore she must be aunt; it was her rightful style and title, so far as Hilda was concerned, and she determined that the rebellious little termagant should be brought into subjection. There was nothing like striking while the iron was hot, she told herself; if she did not gain the victory now, it must be for ever lost, and it behoved her to lose no time in reducing her husband's ward to due meek. ness and obedience, and putting her at once and for ever, as she declared to Mrs. Marris, " in her proper place.”
And Marris had to be pat in her proper place also, and that place was anfortunately ontside the boundaries of the River House estate. Bat it took some time and some diplomacy on Janetta's part to effect this desirable change, for Mr. Willabye--new to the bonds of a second marriage-sturdily resisted his wife's encroach ments on what he averred to be his own concern. Hilda was his ward, solemnly committed to his charge, and in the guardianship Marris was included; she had promised never to leave the child till her father returned from India, and it was his business to see that the promise was falfilled.
In justice it must be confessed that Frank fought strenuously and well for his rights, and for those of the little girl, who was, in his estimation, Martha's legacy as well as Mr. Warleigh's; but the constant dropping of water will wear away marble : Janetta was never tired of protesting against poor Marris's iniquities, and urging her speedy dismissal, and in season and out of season she dinned her manifold complaints in her husband's ears. Sometimes he refused to answer, sometimes he was foolish enough to argue the point, and sometimes he lost his temper, and exponnded himself more freely than was agreeable ! Bat this was only at tho outset; the feud between mistress and dependent waxed hotter and hotter. Marris and Janetta were continually at issues, and the latter loudly lamented her unfortunate and unprecedented situation, as being placed over a servant who refused obstinately to acknowledge her lawful authority. Marris was touchy, peevish, exacting, always considering herself aggrieved, even when no offence was intended. Her influence over Hilda was of the very worst sort; she excited her nursling to all kinds of naughtiness, and encouraged her to revolt against the wholesome restraints to which, after long spoiling, she had been subjected.
“She sets her against me!” was generally Janetta's ultimatum. “There will never be any peace so long as she remains under this roof; and Mr. Warleigh cannot care very much about the bringing ap of his child, as he never troubles himself to write, and is content to leave her dependent on your generosity." For daring the seven years that had elapsed since the Willabyes removed to River House, no line or word had been received from India, no reply to
the several letters which Frank had written, urging Mr. Warleigh to give directions for his daughter's education. And, of course, ro remittances arrived, and Janetta did not scruple to refer to Hilda's position, and even to taunt her with being "a little pauper.”
At last, after nearly three years' guerilla warfare with his wife Frank reluctantly consented to Marris's departure ; and that he might have nothing to do with the threatened eviction, he went to London on business, leaving Janetta to work her own sweet will in the way most pleasant to herself. For, said he, dolefally, as he packed up his carpet-bag, “a continual dropping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike."
When he came back, after a fortnight's absence, Marris was gone, and there were several fresh facos about the house ; in fact, the only domestics remaining were a paragon of a cook, whom Mrs. Willabye had engaged soon after her marriage, and who was really to be depended on to send up to the dining-room all that was required, and a nurse, whom Frank disliked, albeit she was certainly devoted to her mistress's interests.
For there was a nursery now at River House, Janetta having presented her husband with three sons, great, romping, healthy boys, obstreperous and wilful, and as wayward as ever was Hilda Warleigh in the days of her juvenile reign, when she queened it over her soi-disant governess, Miss Morrison.
The eldest boy, who was named Augustus—no one precisely knew why!-was declared by his mother to be the very image of his father, and a remarkably handsome child. Frank, anfortunately, was not complimented thereat. "Gus," as he soon came to be called, was fair, and large-limbed, like his paternal parent, and he had a respectable nose; but he inherited his mother's snaky expression, only his small eyes were of a lack-lastre, washed-out blue, instead of glittering black. Stephen—alias Steve-was two years younger than his brother; and the baby Leopold was just three when we again take up the history of the family at Southcombe.
Both the younger children were ugly and ill-tempered; Steve was preternaturally acute in his perceptions, and was given to pinching and biting on the sly. He took an inveterate dislike to Hilda when he was an infant in arms, and was now her daily torment, as she was in some measure responsible for his appearance, and was always taken to task and severely reprimanded if he were not properly washed, if his clothes were torn, if he came to grief, if he got into mischief, if he fought Gas, or caffed little Leo,-who, on his part, was always ready to turn like a tiger-cub on his assailant, and return evil for evil, in the shape of kicks and scratches! All three of the young Willabyes were instinctively