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of relief when Miss Joan's sharp The sound of his hurried steps knock upon the bedroom floor over- fell on her ears still, when, wearied head summoned her away.
out with watching him, she betook 'I have something I wish to tell herself to bed. They lulled her you, David;' but she said this with pleasantly to sleep. out looking at him, and her hand shook a little as she took up her candle from the table.
CHAPTER X. It must be told quickly then,
POOR DAVID ! Esther. Judging from our cousin's footstep she is in one of her little The next day dawned, sultry and tempers already.'
glowing, as few days, even in July, Not to-night; not to-night, David, ever dawn upon the misty moorland dear. To-morrow is Barnstaple fair, heights of North Devonshire. Quite you know; Joan will be away all early in the morning Miss Joan had day. I will tell you then. It's a started by the market-coach to Barnsecret that only you are to be told staple, and, as was usual in her as yet-a secret that concerns me absence, a strange calm and peace very nearly. And then she threw seemed to hang over all the little her arms round his neck, as she had household at Countisbury. Poor done every night these dozen years; Patty sang over her unmolested and running lightly from the room work; old Mrs. Engleheart, unand up the narrow stair, left him troubled either by book or knitting, silently gazing after her in the dark- basked in the warm sun at the ness.
parlour window; Farmer Vellicot's And Patty coming in to clear the pigeons picked out the green cursupper & while later, found him rants and gooseberries as they standing there still, and—which listed; Miss Joan's own great Cochin roused Patty's softer feelings yet China fowls walked with a reprobate more-never a book in his hand. air of perfect assurance and coolness She remembered how she used to about the garden-paths. stand idling about in the dark at 'I think we are rather unprinthe cruel time when Joan had cipled to encourage these revolubroken for her with William Tillyer. tionary movements, David,' said "Am I to let Miss Esther's flowers Esther, as they paced slowly up and bide, Master David ? they be main down the terrace in the early mornwithered already.'
ing sun. • What would Joan say if • Let them stay so, Patty; let she saw all her creatures at this them stay so,' answered David, moment ?' gently. I will put them in water Poor wretches, let them have for Miss Esther myself. And, Patty, one happy day,' answered David. don't wait up for me. I am going ''Tis only twice a year that any of out to smoke my pipe, and I'll be us are free, and what a freedom it sure to see that all the doors are is! Why, the very air is more locked before I go to bed.'
genial than at any other time. Long after midnight Miss Joan Esther, turn your face to the east, from her maiden-bower watched the and feel if it is not.' glow of David's pipe, as he passed 'It's a lovely morning, David; restlessly up and down the garden- this promises to be the first really path beneath her window. * Smoke hot summer's day that we have away, smoke away, David Engle- had.' heart,' she soliloquized, with many
How much of it shall you spend an emphatic nod of her gaunt head at home, child ? how many hours towards the unhappy object of her will Mr. Carew spare you to me, I regard. “Put all your loves and wonder?' hopes and follies in that pipe, and David,' said the girl, laying her burn them up for ever.
So; one is hand quickly upon his arm, .don't not enough. Fill another, 'cousin, talk like that about--about Mr. fill another. I have given you food Carew any more, please. It is a jest enough for fifty pipes to-night! no longer.'
'No, cousin. Last evening, when 'I should have spoken to you Mr. Carew asked me if I could ever last night if I could ; but somehow, like him well enough to be his wife, David, it was too difficult then, and I said yes. I was obliged to tell the I always feel when Joan is in the truth, you know; and I am quite house as though she can hear me sure-I mean I think I am quite even when she is in another room. sure—that I shall never like any one But now I feel I can tell you all.' but Mr. Carew while I live. But I
'I am glad you receive me into could not feel happy in my promise, your confidenco, Esther.'
Cousin David, unless I had spoken Well, I ought to tell Joan first I of it to you, and unless you said believe, David; but it is so difficult that you really approved of my to tell her anything one cares much choice.' about-isn't it?'
And you will abide by my deVery
cision ?' "She is so maiter-of-fact and hard " David, that's not quite a fair -80 unlike you, Cousin David.
thing to say.
I should be very David'-he felt her hand trembling miserable if you refused to consent on his arm--' can you guess my to my engagement; but I feel that I secret ?'
ought to be truer to Oliver Carew 'I am ill at guessing, Esther.' now than to any one-yes, even to
Mr. Carew has asked me to you. Oh, Cousin David, be friends marry him, cousin,' and she looked with him, and try to like him a little up with her honest eyes straight for my sake.' into his. “I am so happy.'
The expression of her pleading • You have known him a short face stabbed David to the heart. time,' said David, and she was too 'I am not at all a fitting person deeply moved herself to note the to consult, Esther; Joan and her tremor in his voice. "Your ac- mother are your guardians; I am quaintance, I think, dates from one nothing to you.' fortnight ago.'
He moved as though he would "A fortnight and three days, have turned away from her; but David; but then I have seen him Esther's kindly hand caught his arm 80 often.'
tight. 'David, dear David, nothing "And must know so much of his to me? I thought you cared for me character and worth— this stranger - I thoughtfor whom you are willing to give us She could get no further ; her all up! We have loved you a dozen voice choked, the great tears strugyears, and he a dozen days, Esther. gled to her eyes. For a moment Well, it is natural.'
David Engleheart stood irresolute; • David !'
then he turned round quickly, He softened in a moment at the stooped, and kissed her lips. You loving tone of that one word. 'I thought of me as of your good stupid don't blame you, Esther.
brother, Esther; no, too old for acting as every young woman has that; your uncouth, ugly old bear acted since the world began-rightly, of a playmate, old and grey and dull no doubt, and as Providence meant enough to be your grandfather, who you to do, only-only don't you see has just had a dozen years or so of 'tis hard to part from you? I have his life made bright by a child's but one thing on the earth to love, loving face, and now will not hesiand it's hard to lose it.'
tate to give his darling (though with * And you will not lose me, David, some natural pangs) to the first she cried, eagerly, 'not for years and young and handsome stranger who years. We are both very young,
chances to have won her heart? and Oliver is only starting in his That was it, Esther.' profession. It is not a question of Oh, David! how can you speak so losing me now-merely of letting of yourself?' But she was pale no me give him my promise, David.' longer, and he could see a smile
You have waited to consult me coming round her lips. before doing so, then ?'
'And you were right, my darling;
that is what I have always been to deal closer than you would hold me you, what I am now. All this has now, Miss Fleming), and said you come upon us rather suddenly, never meant to go away from me Esther, you see. You are only just again. Do you remember that ?' eighteen. I thought I had a great Yes, I remember,' said Esther, many more years' safe possession of laughing, and as yet I have not you yet. However, it has come, and broken my word. Very likely I I am glad of it, for your sake, my shall stay at Countisbury till you poor little fatherless Esther! May have had quite enough of me, after Carew love you, and be faithful to all. Joan was talking to me very you as you deserve !
seriously the other evening of the David's vacant face glowed till he lot that awaits me when I shall be looked positively handsome; the an elderly woman of eight-andthrill at his own heart went far to thirty-twenty years hence. Oh, reward him for all the anguish of David !' she broke off abruptly, the last fortnight. Poor David ! what sane human being would look not Philip or Alexander ever gained for twenty years, or look forward at & greater victory than was this to all, on such a morning as this? him.
Even to feel the air blow on one's I have been quite afraid of you face is enough to make one in love lately, cousin,' remarked Esther, with the present and with life.' presently, and when they had taken 'Let us come away to the thorn one or two turns upon the terrace in tree and our books, Esther, and silence. "You have been so con- enjoy our one day of liberty thostrained and odd with us all that I roughly. The sun is too hot herebegan really to think something was that is, —he corrected himself quickgoing on that displeased you, and so ly--if Miss Fleming has no prior did Joan.'
engagement elsewhere.' "Oh!'
* Miss Fleming has no engagement 'She even hinted to me, occasion- whatever until five o'clock this afterally, that you did not approve of
noon, cousin.' Oliver's walking with me, and I was "And then ? wondering this morning whether "And then is to meet Mr. Carew there could possibly be any truth in upon the moor, and take her cousin it, when—ah, you kind old David ! with her, if he will condescend to -Patty told me of your putting my come. You see everything is settled flowers in water for me last night, for you,' she added, turning to him and then I knew you could not be with her fond smile as they walked really angry.'
slowly towards the house: 'even if 'I have never been angry with you had wished to be a stern, imyou since the day you came to us, placable relation, we would not have child.'
let you carry out your own inten• Twelve years ago, isn't it, tions. There is only one character David ?
in the world fitted for my cousin 'Fourteen years this autumn. David—the one he filled on that You were a little soft-eyed child, first evening that I ever saw him, dressed in black, and with a slow thirteen years ago.' melancholy way of speaking and • When he held you in his arms, looking straight up in one's face. and had you for his own,' thought Esther, you crept into my heart at poor David, as his hungering eyes once, and have forgotten to leave it took in all the beauty of her upsince.
turned face. 'Ah, if shadows on • I have never forgotten the first the wall could make you happy night that I came, David. You took
now!' me on your knee and made shadows But he had sense enough, poor on the parlour wall for me all the wretch, not to put his thoughts into evening, and then carried me up to words; and with lingering steps, bed, in spite of Joan's saying I and Esther singing as she went, they mustn't be treated like a baby.' passed along the shaded garden"And
you held me close (a vast path towards the house.
she could bear. So she never tried CHAPTER XI.
to strengthen herself by reasoning OLIVER AS A HERO.
on her misery, by thinking how
many hundreds of lovers part and Patty met them at the threshold meet and part again without dying, of the house-place, and put a note or how likely it was that Mr. Carew into Esther's hand. Mr. Carew had might have got a summons to return given it her a minute ago as she was to his regiment, and would yet be standing at the orchard gate. He back with her again in a month or had gone down along the path to- two. She just felt (as a good many wards the Riven Oak very quick, of us have felt at Esther Fleming's and had waited for no answer. age) that a crueller fate had come to
Esther glanced over the threo her than she could by possibility lines that the note contained, and live through; succumbed to her her heart turned sick. “I can't read first trial much as she would have with you as I promised-I can't done if no Joan Engleheart had stay with you to-day, David; I am ever trained her to strength of mind going out at once.
and self-reliance; walked white and • Is there anything wrong, child? trembling and broken-hearted along can I help you?' David asked, as he the path where Oliver in his note followed her back into the garden. had asked her to meet him; and ‘Shall I take any answer from you when an abrupt turning in the to Mr. Carew ?'
woods brought him suddenly to her • There is
answer wanted. side, held both her hands out in all His regiment is ordered suddenly simplicity to meet him, and burst away. He is going to leave Lyn- into tears. 'mouth.'
• You are going! Oliver, you are "When ?
going to leave me!' To-day; in a few hours. Tell Last night she had been shy and Aunt Engleheart not to wait for me, stately even after she had accepted please. I don't know when I shall his suit; but all restraint, all girlish be back.'
pride, was swept away from her Mr. Carew going?-child, shall heart now. She dared be the first I walk any of the way with you ?' to speak; she dared let him see the
'No, no, no! Oh! David, I can't full extent of her love-for she was talk even to you. This is harder to lose him. than I can bear.' And very quick 'It is very sudden, Esther, but and resolute, as had been her wont when you know what it is that calls from a child when anything moved me, you will see that I must go.' her strongly, she passed out through Not to-day?' the wicket-gate into the orchard, and 'Yes, to-day; in a few hours. left David Engleheart standing, help- Be strong for my sake, Esther. lessly bewildered, and alone.
Don't look so white and piteous, or Oliver Carew going to-day-in a I can never bear to leave you.' few hours ! What was David's Mr. Carew, as I have before resympathy, what was David's exist- marked, was accustomed to a very ence to her now? What should different walk of life to Esther's; & she remember of the wistful, kindly walk where sudden and startling face looking after her as she went, emotions do not so much obtain as or of anything in the whole uni- among the middle classes of humble verse, save the one cruel fact of country people. He had often seen Oliver's leaving? Since last night young women faint in crowded asall her world-never very wide be- semblies, had witnessed, perhaps, fore-had narrowed into one desire some scenes of another class, in -Oliver's presence, the flattery of which tears had been called in as an Oliver's eyes—and he was going. effective auxiliary weapon. He had It was the first time in her life that never seen anything at all like this anything approaching to a real blow stricken childish face, with its pashad fallen upon her, and, as she had sion of sudden grief, and I think it said to David, it was harder than frightened him a little. He was as
much in love with Esther as it was is that really forces me to leavein his nature to be; but, really, if the only thing in the world that love at its onset entailed such could make me go away from you dreadfully violent scenes as these, like this? love must be a much less pleasant *You are going back to the army, thing than he had taken it for. I suppose.' Esther's ideas of mili
You will listen to reason, Esther, tary obligations were somewhat will you not? You won't look so vague and superficial.
• Your miserable when you hear that it is colonel won't allow you to stay absolutely, imperatively necessary
away any longer.' for me to go?
Esther, my regiment goes abroad No, Oliver' (the unerring tact of the day, after to-morrow, and I go her sex telling her, not exactly what with it.' he had thought, but what he would • Abroad ? not, not'—the whitebest like her to do)- no, Oliver, I ness spread around her mouth again will try all I can not to look mise- in an instant-not to India, Oliver?' rable any more.' And then she did (This was at the time when the news try hard to keep her lips from of mutiny had just reached home.) quivering, and stammered some- Say only that you are not ordered thing about the note having been to India.' given to her too suddenly, and how • We are ordered to Malta first, she had run very fast through the Esther,' Carew answered quietly, heat, and she was a little sick and " And then ?' faint, she thought, and—and all this Then, of course, we shall wait foolishness would be over directly. for further orders.'
'Sit down by me here, and re- • Oliver'-and she caught hold of cover yourself, you poor little silly his hand in both of hers—' tell me Esther,' cried Oliver, drawing her the truth, please. I can bear that kindly to his side. Why, your
far better than any preparation. hands are as cold as ice! How will Shall you be sent to India ? you ever do for a soldier's wife, if 'I hope so, Esther.' you are 80 sensitive, my foolish "Ah! I understand.' child ?'
• You promised to be strong,' he As the colour came back into her whispered, drawing her closer to face he began to remember how his side; ' and you give way again wonderfully handsome she was, and already. I am not in India yet, rehow much she loved him, poor member. I may not go there at all thing! After all, this sudden part- if the rebellion is put down quicker ing was very hard : overcame him than we think for." with quite a thrill of pain to think But you hope to go! That is the that months, that years might pass
cruellest to me.' before his lips should touch that fair • Esther, should you love me young cheek again; and so he told better if I did not?' her, in language you and I, reader, She was silent. She only clasped would not think surpassingly elo- his hands closer; looked up inquent, but which was to Esther the tently with her great imploring eyes sweetest and finest music she had into his face. ever heard.
• Should you love me better if I I thought, for a minute, you did had not the feelings of every other not feel it as much as I did,' she man in England ? if I did not long said, presently. When I came up for my own personal share in dealfirst you looked as calm and indiffer- ing out judgment upon those cowent as though nothing had hap- ardly wretches who have betrayed pened.' • Do you think so now?'
Oh, Oliver!' 'Oh, no, no, no!' with all the * Esther'—and here Carew really bright blood in her face. 'I know spoke with emotion-'God knows now you would not go unless you that I love you truly-better far were obliged.'
than I ever thought myself that I 'And can you guess what it could love. Let me feel that my