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the charge of her great-aunt and David was a nephew of Mrs. Miss Joan at Countisbury, Mrs. Engleheart's husband, and being Tudor agreeing to pay them the early intended by a fond mother for sum of thirty pounds a year until the Church, on account of what she the girl should attain the age of called his beautiful disposition, totwenty-one, or marry.

gether with small family interest in And Joan did educate her charge the way of preferment, he received according to her own theories, and the benefit of a classical education. educated her well. 'Here is a girl Alas for the frailty of human who will have to work for herself hopes! The beautiful disposition one day, or starve,' she remarked remained; but just as the boy was once to her mother, when the old leaving school, the expected living lady had been wishing accomplish- was basely given to the patron's own ments for Esther, and sighing about tutor's son! From seven to seventhe Fleming blood. “For Heaven's teen, David had been making long sake let us put away all such non- verses and short verses, and scansensical notions, mother, and teach ning Greek choruses, and gaining her to be useful.' So Esther's sound views of the middle voice, attainments all became of the most and preterperfect tense. He had solid and tangible description. She been driven to despair by gerunds; understood everything to do with had been whipt for false quantities; housekeeping; she could work had turned Milton and Dryden into thoroughly with her needle; she iambics; had perfected himself in was excellent at figures. Above all, the intrigues of the whole of the she was trained in the most strict heathen gods and goddesses ;-and compliance with physiological prin- now all this admirable training for ciples, at which Miss Joan was parochial duties was to be thrown great, and she grew up healthy, away! His mother thought a strong, self-reliant. It might be judgment would alight on their all very well,' said Joan Engleheart, relative, the patron. His uncle . for rich people to bring children took poor David into a very close up with excited brains and stunted counting-house upon Ludgate Hill. bodies. Esther won't want a hun- Here he remained, without any dred and fifty diseased nerves, but particular change or promotion, for three hundred and seventy-five stout fifteen years—nine hours of sitting muscles, when she has to earn her at a desk daily, for fifteen yearsown living. Let everyone cultivate with every Sunday to himself, and what their station in life will here- Christmas Day and Good Friday after require of them.'

for special festivals. At the end of But I think, in spite of Joan's this time, the death of his mother physiology, and great

placed him in the possession of sense, the child's life would have about seventy pounds a year, when been a horribly dull one had it not David so far flew in the face of Probeen for another, and most alien, vidence, according to his uncle, as element in the household, and this to throw up his clerkship immediwas David Engleheart. In allately, and announce his intention of Esther's punishments, David was living, for the future, upon his own her tower of refuge; in all her private means. childish plays he was her com- Whether this was flying in the panion. She went out for long face of Providence or not, I am insummer days with him while he competent to say, as I am quite fished; she read with him in winter. ignorant of the nature of this kind Although five-and-twenty years, at of aëronautic performance. After least, stood between them in age, being stupefied for ten years at David was her companion (except school, and miserable for fifteen during the last six months at school, years in a counting-house--five-andand her short visits, at rare inter- twenty years of aggregate misery vals, to Mrs. Tudor in Bath)—the and stupefaction-it was not perhaps only companion that her child's altogether remarkable in David to life had ever known.

catch at the first chance of deliver


ance from bondage. He loathed this you should have seen David work, and London, and his cousin's Engleheart's figure-and she prebusiness, and his cousin, himself. vented him from losing his money. He had visions of a happy, useless He had good reasons for saying that life, with a fishing-rod and a book, he would never be as well off anyamong green trees and daisies. Was where else in the world as he was his first duty to his own worn-out at Countisbury. jaded brain—the brain from whence That some strong counteracting he once dreamed such noble thoughts feeling must be at work within Miss should charm the world; or to the Joan's breast, when she thus violated guardianship of his cousin's money- the laws of her being by studying bags ? A letter from his aunt, Mrs. the weaknesses of another human Engleheart, asking him to visit creature, was a truth that the first them in Devonshire, turned the fourteen years and a half of his rebalance in favour of poor David's sidence under the same roof with own prepossessions; and one bright her failed to impress upon David summer morning he stepped forth Engleheart. When he thought of a free man upon Ludgate Hill, con- his cousin at all, it was as of a fused, yet tumultuously happy, under species of domestic machine, unthe mingled sense of fortune and of pleasant when at work, but thrifty freedom, and only very moderately and comfort-producing in effect. impressed with the image of his own One of the Dii penates, of no parbase ingratitude, as laid before him ticular age or sex, who often disby his cousin at parting.

turbed his peace, but to whom, in This was about a year before consideration of clothes - mending Esther Fleming was taken to her and other economic properties, due aunt Engleheart's care; and David forbearance ought to be shown, with had never left Countisbury since. regard to acidities of tongue and

I came for three weeks, and I have temper. Poor Joan!' That an stopped fifteen years,' was his own awful Nemesis, Joan Engleheart in answer when Esther happened to love, should one day be avenged question him once about the ante

upon him for his fifteen years of cedents of his life. 'Joan makes

acquiescent supineness, was a revemy money go farther than I could

lation that, with other startling ever do myself, and my little room truths, had only burst upon David is very warm in winter. I really during the last few months of don't see why I should ever go Esther's absence from home. away. Seventy-five pounds a year What a Nemesis it was! The poor would not make me as comfortablo

fellow thought he could have borne anywhere else in the world as it does

the ordinary strokes of fortune like in Countisbury.'

other men.

But Joan in love! He And he had good reason for think

was not an ungrateful, and he was ing so. Whatever concessions to not a bloodthirsty man; but if, just human frailty Joan Engleheart ever at this particular time, he had been made were for her cousin David's told that Miss Joan bad come to especial and exclusive benefit. The

some awful and sudden end I think little room he called his study was it would not have taken David Enthe warmest and best tended in the

gleheart very long to rally from the house; the flowers he loved most shock. came into early bloom bencath its windows; books and prints (bought at rare intervals out of Joan's scanty

CHAPTER V. savings) were on its walls. All his favourite belongings; his papersDavid wrote a little — his fishing The morning after Esther's return manufactory, his drawings, were shone out bright and cloudless, and duly dusted by Joan's own hand by nine o'clock she and David were every morning, and were never dis- already starting for one of their acarranged. Above all, she kept his customed day's fishing among the dress neat- and duly to appreciate valleys.





I hope the fish will like all those Dead, cousin David ?' gay colours,' was Joan's parting • As dead as a man, with any benison at the garden gate. You miserable breath left in him at all, look extremely ridiculous, Esther, and with Joan in the house, could and I really cannot apologize for be. I believe I had influenza first, saying it.'

or rather I don't believe it, but 'I can assure you it is quite usual Joan said so, and made me swallow for people to wear their skirts looped all the horriblest compounds in the up, David,' said the girl, when they world by way of cure. The real were beyond hearing of Joan. disease was—I had not you, Esther! * Please tell me if you think I look After a child has been in a house for quite ridiculous, cousin ?'

fifteen years,' David proceeded, hasMiss Fleming was dressed in a tily, its absence creates a singular shepherd's plaid skirt and jacket; deadening, depressing sort of blank. the former looped up, according to I didn't want to do anything, or be the fashion abjured by Miss Engle- anything. I didn't want to read, or heart, so as to show a violet-coloured to eat, or to sleep. I think I should petticoat and remarkably neat, high- have rather liked to die, peacefully, hccled boots. In her little black but that, you know, Joan wouldn't hat she had stuck a single damask let me do. She gave me gruel, and rose. These were the gaudy colours. made mustard plasters for me, and • Do I look quite ridiculous, cousin tormented me prodigiously, but David ? Shall I frighten the whole she wouldn't let me die. More's of the fish away?'

the pity!' · That must depend upon the "You silly old David !' taste of fishes,' answered David, Oh, Esther, that is good to hear. rather stupidly. 'I don't think you There will be no one to laugh at look very bad myself, Esther,' after me like that, no one to say, “ You a minute's consideration.

silly old David,” when, when you never used to dress in this fashion- are married and gone!' able manner when you came out ‘You superlatively silly old David!' fishing with me in old days. What cried the girl, with her merry, have you changed for? You used heart-whole laugh. What chance to look very nice in your cotton have Joan and I of marrying, I gowns.'

should like to know? Tell me how And pinafores. Yes, dear cousin, you came out of this seven weeks' but I am not a little girl now; be- influenza, or stupor, and please sides, I must wear out all the things don't let your imagination run away aunt Thalia sent me at school.' with you in such an unprincipled 'Hang aunt Thalia!' remarked

Joan nursed you with unDavid, with animation. No, I remitting tenderness for seven weeks, don't wish her hung, because she is and then ? kind to you; but hang all her plans · Then the few first warm days of for making you into a fine young spring came, and I remembered that lady, and upsetting my old happy in two months and fourteen days life. It would never have happened you would come back too! Joan is but for your being away,-nover.' not cheerful, as a rule, in spring.

• What would never have hap- You know a way she has of putting pened ?'

one down for being in spirits about • Why, my seeing through her in- the weather. She knows what these tentions,' and David struck his rod, unnatural heats lead to. She knows with feeble energy, on the ground. better than the birds that are twit'I might have gone on quietly for tering in the hedges. The blossom another fifteen years as I have done will be cut off'; the churchyard the last. While I suspected nothing full. Well, child, even Joan could I was safe, but now—Oh, Lord, not depress me when I had once what a winter it has been altogether, laid hold of that definite idea-you Esther! To begin with, for about were coming back! the lengthening six or seven weeks, I was, to all in- of the days and coming out of the tents and purposes, dead.'

leaves had a new interest for me--'




* And you took to your books rible in real life is ridiculous to and your pipe again, and recovered. witness. If I read of any man havOh, cousin David, what a blessing ing a woman like my cousin Joan Joan is to you, though you don't in love with him, I might be imknow it! She counteracts you.' pressed with becoming feelings of • She does indeed, Esther.'

pity; but the reality, with myself ' And that is just what you want. as victim, does seem indeed a truly If I had been here, when you were ludicrous mockery.' And here poor in this ossifying state, I couldn't David burst into a long and most have helped pitying you, and that unearthly laugh over the image of would just have encouraged you his own impending calamity. in giving in There is no

But there was a painful ring in like Joan for rousing people out of his laugh that jarred upon Esther's themselves.'

heart, and she grew serious instantly. ' And for thinking for them, and 'Come away to the Riven Oak, dear acting for them, and coercing them, David, she said, laying her hand cried David, hotly. Esther,' after kindly upon his arm. • The valley & minute or two, 'shall I tell you will look very different now the what I firmly believe will be my thorns are in blossom to what it did fate?'

on that dull autumn day when you “What? final ossification ?' and I were last here together. Como

• Much worse--don't laugh if you away, and forget all your own silly please, child—I couldn't bear it. thoughts in this delicious summer

* I am not laughing in the least, day. You have just got hipped and cousin, I am extremely serious. out of sorts and afraid of Joan beWhat is to be your ultimate fate?' cause I was away-nothing more. 'I believe-—' David stopped as

You will have no time to take up still as it was in his organization to such ridiculous fancies now that I be, and looked utterly desolate and have come back.' stony--'I believe that Joan will The Riven Oak was a solitary, marry me.'

storm-shattered tree, standing some Cousin David !'

paces away from the rocky path 'I have thought so more than that led from Countisbury to the once, and latterly I have dreamed it river-side, and commanding a glowas so.'

rious bird's-eye view of the valley of * Salad for supper, David ?' the Lynn, clothed now in all the

“No, child. It was a nightmare, vigorous strength and freshness of truly, but not caused by indigestion. the Manhood of the year.' Under If Joan takes anything resolutely in shelter of this oak was poor David's hand she does it, either at the end of favourite summer out-door_study; months or years. It took her many and as he stood there by Esther's years to make me scrape my shoes side now, listening to all the delievery time I came into the house, cious, familiar, wild sounds of the but she succeeded, and so she will woods, and feeling the genial warmth again.'

of the Juno sun upon his face, a • But are you sure she has set her feeling of peaceful happiness--an mind on it, and-oh, cousin David, oblivion of Joan-stole over him do you class marrying Joan and such as he had not known for scraping your shoes together?

months past. Please don't be angry with me if I Do you smell the clover from laugh-I can't help it! And the the valleys, Esther?' speaking in despair of David's face, and his that low tone which most men's perfect belief in Joan's unlimited voices involuntarily take once during capabilities for evil, so took Esther's their lives—a tone which could fancy, just at this juncture, that she make even his voice musical, and began, in truth, to laugh like a throwing his arm lightly round her child.

shoulder. “Nowhere but here have * Laugh away, Esther, laugh as I ever found that rich, faint, lowland you like!' said David; I could do smell mingling with the wild scent the same myself. Everything hore of the moors and yet not overcoming it. I would as lief be blind, Esther, • I can recollect no one but him, as tasteless in the smells of nature. and John Hartman, the coachman.' They recal special seasons as no A person with a fishing-rod and other appeal to our senses can.

I a straw hat.' might see wooded valleys and hear Oh yes, to be sure; I had almost distant streams twenty years to forgotten him—the stranger who come without thinking of this par- was going on to Lynmouth. Mr. ticular day; I could never stand Oliver Carew.' amidst the fragrance of new-trodden 'I think you are blushing, Esther.' ferns and heather, with clover and "I think the sun is in your eyes, hawthorn scent coming to me from cousin. Had we not better go on a distance, without having your ap- our way again? You know you say parition by my side in a moment- the sport is never good for anything living and real as you are now.' after one o'clock.'

. That is half fancy, David. Shut And leaving David to follow with your eyes and feel how a good what haste he could, Esther ran three-fourths of your picture va- lightly down the narrow, rocky denishes at once.'

file towards the valley.

If her com'I feel ry detail, on the con- panion had been any one in the trary, ten times more vividly, child. world but David, she would have I am sensible how “ all the land felt excessively angry with herself in flowery squares smells of the for her folly in colouring about this coming summer;" I am sensible of Mr. Carew; but with good blind fox-gloves close at hand, although David for sole witness it did not half hidden by furze, in which the signify much how foolish she was. great wild bees are droning; I am Why, you had only to tell poor sensible of a million lives afloat upon David that the sun shone in his the air. I am sensible more than eyes and he would straightway beever of your presence!

lieve himself mistaken! Besides, even Oh, what an anticlimax!' inter- if he persisted still in crediting his rupted Esther; 'to begin with own senses, it would not matter very quoting Tennyson, and then descend much after all. Poor old David! to humble-bees and Esther Fleming! When they reached the valley they Still, I do think one takes in a great had still two miles to walk before deal more than could be painted in reaching the part of the stream a picture on a day like this, and I where David meant to fish; and suppose that is why descriptions- during all this portion of their walk word-paintings, as Miss Bates calls he continued more silent than usual. them-invariably seem to leave out • You never talk when the fish are half the life and freshness of what within hearing, David,' said Esther, they describe. What spirit would at 'last. 'Is it from habit only, or the woods have for us, David, with- do you really think the trout at out the monotonous roar of the Ore Oak would take warning if the dear old stream bolow? It is that distant sound of your treacherous one sound that makes our Devon- voice was borne to them along the shire woods so different to all others waters ?' I have been in.'

'I am silent because I have no'I thought you would come back thing to say, Esther.' too fine a lady to care for the dull Oh, David, and I have been away delights of Countisbury,' Esther. six months!' When I saw a grown-up young

And have not returned now,' he woman, talking with such fine self

answered, quickly. 'I have not got possession to that person upon the you, Esther, my little cousin, with coach, I assure you I could scarce I have got a young person believe it was our simple Esther. with a vermilion skirt, a hat in What did you tell me his name was, shape like a cheese-plate, and a by-the-way?

festooned gown-but not Esther!' Mr. Vellicot.'

David, that is very base. After • Nonsense. You mentioned an- pretending to think that I looked other person

nice you suddenly burst out upon


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