Imágenes de páginas

during the last five years, although the stories that go about them are my acquaintance with the family, true, Hildebrand Chichester and his child, is of the slightest description. son were about the strangest of Understand that. A formal offer them all.' and declension of civility once a What are these stories, Aunt year, an exchange of cards in the Thalia ?' interval. The lad to whom she en- * Nothing that can interest you, gaged herself when she first came child; nothing, at all events, that it out, Arthur Peel, is the nephew of would profit you to repeat to the one of my most intimate friends, Miss Dashwoods.' and I happen to know exactly how Esther flushed up indignantly. the Dashwoods first entangled and 'I repeat nothing that is told me. afterwards discarded him. Then I should like to have heard, simply came George Lawless; then Major because I like listening to old family Burroughs. I know every par- stories, and—and because you tell ticular about them both. Lawless things in a way that interests one, paid old Dashwood eleven hundred Aunt Thalia. But don't say a word pounds to get off at the last mo- if you mistrust me.

Never say inent; and now this last ridiculous anything of other people as long as affair with Paul Chichester! I have I stay in your house if you think I seen her walking about with him, am such a child that I cannot bo and looking up into his face as she trusted with a secret.' has done with a dozen other men ' And if I tell you what I know before him; but an engagement, about Paul Chichester, you will bah! Paul Chichester may be ec- never breathe a syllable of it to centric, but he is not quite such a those little fools, the Dashwood fool as to take one of Colonel Dash- girls? never let the man himself

, wood's daughters without a penny, when you come to be acquainted and with their reputation, for his with him, have the faintest idea wife.'

that you know more of him than of ‘And what is this Mr. Chichester a stranger? Don't answer: I read like, himself? I-I feel a kind of your face, child. You believe that interest in him, you know, as Jane's you could be discreet as age, silent lover; but the Dashwoods give such as death, and up to a certain point conflicting accounts of him that I I believe you would. At all events, can form no picture to myself as a little test of your powers, also either of his manner or his face.' because I don't really care a straw

“Never speak of forming a pic- whether it is repeated or not, I will ture to yourself, child: it sounds tell you the story.

There is madpedantic. You want to know what ness in a good many of our old Paul Chichester is like? Well, you English families, Esther - I supwill be able to judge for yourself: pose that is a fact you have chanced he is here in Weymouth. Involun- to come across in some of your tarily Esther blushed again. 'He studies with Joan—more especially, was speaking to me on the walk to- I have noticed, amongst those of day. A very good style he has; far the extreme north and extreme better, in spite of his threadbare south of the kingdom." The Chicoat, than two-thirds of the young chesters come from the border, and men one meets. I told him I was are not without their share of the quite sure from the likeness about aristocratic inheritance-the skelethe upper part of his face that he ton,' cried Mrs. Tudor, pleasantly, was a son of Hildebrand Chichester, 'that mews and crouches in the unand, although he evidently shunned scen closet of so many a rich man's the subject, he did not deny it; house; the spectre that is sought and that convinces me that he is in vain to be kept at bay by men of the son whom I believed to have science and art and medicine; and been dead, or to have gone abroad, yet that is ever hovering over every years and years ago. They were a christening-feast, every marriagestrange family always, the Chi- breakfast, in which any child of the chesters,' went on Mrs. Tudor. “If ill-fated house has past.'

[ocr errors]

‘But not-not on him?' broke whole time and place came sudfrom Esther's lips as she leant denly before me

denly before me ---the pink-andforward and looked, almost with white, silly beauty of his mother a shudder, into Mrs. Tudor's bland always lying on the sofa, and apface. This horrible calamity has pealing to her husband for the not fallen upon Paul ?'

sympathy he would not give; Paul
Don't look so excited, child, or I himself, a dark, odd-looking child,
shall tell you no more. It doesn't running wild about the place, and
matter to you. · No Fleming has utterly neglected for the sake of the
ever been known to be even eccen- heir of Newton, the child of the
tric; and as for the Vincents, fami- second marriage. • Your Christian
lies like the Vincents never are name is Paul?" I said. “Then I
mad, I have remarked. Poor, good recollect you well. When you were
people, they are quite enough of eight or nine years old you wero
everything else, I am sure, without the strangest, the most unchildlike
that! Where had I got to? Ah! child I ever came across.

I know the Chichesters have not you forgotten?"
been without their share of the He looked in my face steadily,
aristocratic inheritance. They are

and said "No." He had not for-
a very old family-not in any way gotten one stone or one tree of
connected with the Dorsetshire Chi- Newton. Then he added, “But I
chesters, Esther, remember that. I have not been there. I have not
must impress upon you the abso- spoken of Newton for years, nor
lute importance of a young woman shall I ever do so again while I
who aspires to tone distinctly re- live. None of the people with
membering who every human being whom I associate now belong to
is. Sir Hugh Chichester, of New- that time or place, or know that I
ton, the great-grandfather of this belong to it.” *And then he turned
young man, married the eldest the subject resolutely, and we spoke
daughter of Lord March, and from of his family and of the past no
that time until the present there more.'
have, I believe, been only two de- And if Mr. Chichester is indeed
cided cases of the hereditary com- so well connected, how comes it
plaint among them. One, Maria that he wears a threadbare coat? I
Chichester, a sister of Paul's father, am very ignorant, Aunt Thalia. I
who died quite young, and was have always thought that to be a
indeed more weak of intellect than lord's son, or a lord's stepson, even,
positively discased or warped; the would insure one, at least, enough
other — well, Esther, I will not to live respectably upon.'
shock your interest in the reputed • Then you have thought great
lover of your friend's sister by call- nonsense, child; and Paul Chiches-
ing Paul Chichester even eccentric. ter was never the stepson of a lord.
Hildebrand Chichester, his father, His mother's second husband died,
was, beyond all doubt, wrong in his as far as I recollect, about six years
mind for years.'

ago, the title having in the mean
‘But are you sure he is this time gone (on the old lord's death)
Hildebrand Chichester's son? That to his cousin, from whom, if he con-
he did not deny the relationship tinues childless, it will of course
does not actually prove that the come to Paul's half-brother. The
relationship exists.

strange part of the story, the part 'Well reasoned, ma petite ; but illustrating the Chichester pecuhe not only did not deny, he vir- liarity, I am now going to tell tually confessed it. When his

you. Although Mrs. Chichester father was dead, and his mother had brought nothing into the famarried again, I happened to stay mily but her pretty face and her with some friends of mine in North- imbecility, old Lord Feltham always umberland, not three miles from made a great favourite of her, and the place of his stepfather's uncle, on his death-bed requested his son old Lord Feltham; and speaking to allow her-her husband was to Paul Chichester yesterday, the already ailing—to remain at New


[ocr errors]

ton. This wish was carried out, manner, than Paul Chichester. What and not only this; Paul Chichester was he like as a child, did you ask received, I am told, an excellent me? Well, really, you know, the education at the present Lord Fel- subject of children is one that never tham's expense (for the younger interests me. I could not bear to branches of the Chichesters, you be in the room with you, my love, must know, are absolutely penni- as you may recollect, until you

had less. When Paul's mother married got well over the age of asking quesagain the bridegroom presented her tions and upsetting things. Paul with the very dress she was married Chichester was like other children, in). Well, when the young man I suppose—no, I recollect, by-the was about twenty years of age, his way, he was not. He was taciturn. education finished, Lord Feltham He used to come in after dinner at about to present him with a com- Newton when the nurse brought in mission in the army, some fearful his brother, and, none of the family domestic altercation took place, and ever paying him the slightest attenPaul—the family blood showing-. tion, he had a trick of standing ran away from home, or, at all apart from us all and staring with events, swore to them all, most his great dark eyes at his mother's solemnly, that they should see his face until the young heir had been face no more, and left them. From made enough of and fed, of course, different sources I have heard of him with all the unwholesome things afterwards as dead, or gone to the upon the table. Let us speak no colonies, or roaming about, a ruined more of him, child ! broke off Mrs. man, upon the Continent. But one

Tudor, abruptly, and accompanying thing I am certain of-neither his the remark by the little deprecatory mother, nor Lord Feltham, nor any toss of her gloved hands with which member of the family, have ever it was her custom to throw off, as it looked upon his face again from were, the burthen of speaking of that day to this.'

anything, or any person, the moment 'And you know nothing more that it no longer amused herself

. of the cause of this quarrel ? It 'I have so much still to hear about must have been no common thing my dear sister and her health. She that could make a young lad throw should come here for a changeup all his prospects, all his ties, at really you would not believe, Estthe very beginning of life, and take her, how few people I have met of his own free will to loneliness here whom I know. Mrs. Strangand poverty.'

ways, and Paul Chichester, and poor • No common thing, if the young good Whitty, who is coming to-night, lad had been of perfectly sane mind,

are all.

I have mentioned Miss Esther; but with an hereditary ten- Whitty to you, of course, have I dency like that of the Chichesters, not?' the slightest, the most unfounded 'Yes, Aunt Thalia, I believe so. suspicion might be enough to make Is he—is Mr. Chichester, I meanhim take up the notion that all his going to stop in Weymouth ?' family were in league against him.' She lives in the dining-rooms “And does his manner give any under me. I call her my spaniel

. indication of his inheriting the fa- She is a good creature in her way, mily disease? When you remem- but tiring-tiring and greedy. If ber him, years ago, was he like she could, she would get me to give other children? Aunt Thalia, the all my old dresses to her instead story takes possession of me. I of to Wilson. Draw the curtain feel that, while I wish it, I shall aside, Esther, and we shall see the yet dread to become acquainted people as they come up from the with Mr. Chichester.'

station. Who is that riding with * In which feeling you show your Mrs. Strangways, I wonder !-hand extreme ignorance of the world, me my opera-glasses, child, and I child. Half the people one meets shall see better-young Orchard, have, probably, more of madness in again, positively.

again, positively. How ridiculous their brain, certainly more in their the poor lad is making himself with


that woman! You have heard of rather relieved than otherwise at Mrs. Strangways from the Dash- seeing Jane sitting out half the woods? She and Jane Dashwood night with Arthur on the staircase are extremely intimate, and, I should at balls. I should

not like my say, extremely well matched." lover to be so amiable; but my own

'I have heard Milly say they are opinion is, there is no love at all intimate. you-do you think between any of them-except, perMr. Chichester will be likely to stay haps, where it would be better dislong in Weymouth ?'

pensed with. By-the-by, Jane says She is looking very thin; she she is sure Paul would admire you has lost all her youth. That is extremely She has learnt some invariably the way with blonde very odd doctrines lately about women; they fade in six months. “elective affinities” (are there two Cecilia lost her complexion twenty ff's or one?), the results of which years, at least, sooner than I did. seem to be that everybody is obliged I looked as young at five-and-thirty by some moral law to fall in love as you do now.'

with precisely the people they can't It was hopeless to think of turn- marry. Paul is not your style: I ing aside the current of Mrs. Tudor's mean, he is not broad-shouldered thoughts, especially when the cur- and chubby, like Swindon rent had set back towards the all- Viking; but, for a dark man, he is delicious subject of her own youth- very handsome. Jenny puts back ful beauty. Esther gave herself up, the hair off his forehead, and says, resignedly, to listening to the chro- “Really, Mr. Chichester, you have nicles of fifty-year-old charms and quite à Vandyck face. I admire conquests, and strove, resolutely, you extremely: how much I should but in vain, to turn away her like to be able to find someone thoughts from Jane Dashwood's worthy of you!" So like Jane. lover and his sombre history. Then she will go to a party that

same evening and talk half the

night to Arthur Peel, and come CHAPTER XIV.

back, poor Jenny! and cry till day

light. I dare say you and Paul THE FIRST INFIDELITY.

won't like each other at all when And what, in good truth, was you meet; but Jane relies on her Paul Chichester to Esther Fleming ? elective” theories, and, I have no Why had Esther Fleming, in love doubt, will warn Paul to fall in with and engaged to Oliver Carew, love with you: the best way in the coloured guiltily at the mention of world, perhaps, to prevent him from her friend's sister's lover?

doing so. You poor, dear, old The reasons for emotion so un- Esther! how I do pity you, with warrantable, and of which Miss only a tender recollection of SwinFleming herself felt duly don, and a miraculously-proper flirashamed, were, she firmly believed, tation with cousin David to keep you to be found in certain complex sen- from stagnation ! timents set forth by Miss Millicent Esther had put down some of Dashwood's last letter; and as I this nonsense to Milly's usual flighty feel I should fail in expressing these style of writing; but she knew sentiments at all accurately, save in enough of the Dashwood girls to the Dashwood language, I will re- feel that, as likely as not, it had all cord simply what Milly wrote. been repeated to Mr. Chichester

'Jane is going on in her old way himself; and, as you have seen, she with Arthur Peel, who is hanging had not sufficient control to hinder out at present at the Strangways'. her cheeks from burning at his I think Mrs. Strangways makes &

What if she should meet catspaw of Arthur Peel and Miss him, be introduced to him! was her Dashwood too; but don't repeat reflection when at last she had that I said so, for it would make escaped from Mrs. Tudor's endless Jenny furious. Paul Chichester is stories to the silence of her own in Bath again, and seems to be little attic. Would she blush, withi


[ocr errors]



this same contemptible folly, in his I wanted to see you plainly dressed. presence? She who had been able It is the severest test of a young to speak of Oliver without her face woman's taste. Every one can look betraying the real emotions of her well en toilette, very few in cotton heart, to colour in this guilty

way and hollands. When you have a about a person she had never seen blue umbrella you will be the per-a person with a Vandyck face, fection of simple style. I will take and whom Mrs. Tudor considered you at once to a shop, and make you distinguished ? No doubt, a pale, a present of one.' effeminate, vain creature, the exact But what am I to do with a blue reverse of all she considered manly umbrella, Aunt Thalia ? the weather and admirable. For the first time is perfectly fine.' for weeks other thoughts than those That is immaterial. All young of Oliver were floating through persons of distinction carry blue Esther's brain before she went to umbrellas this season.

You need sleep; and when she woke next not put it up unless you choose; morning she was dimly conscious but you must always carry it in that something unconnected with the forenoon-indeed, I should say, Mr. Carew and Countisbury had you had better never put it up. It mingled with her dreams.

will last you longer.' 'I am going to make you very So they went to a shop and spent useful,' Mrs. Tudor remarked when, sixteen shillings on this indispenat eleven o'clock, blooming and airy

sable addition to a young person of in her fresh morning toilette, she distinction's dress, and then projoined her niece in the drawing- ceeded to the beach, where, followroom. 'I am going to make you ing her physician's advice, Mrs. carry my book and cushion to the

Tudor forced herself to sit, for a beach; and then we can dispense couple or so of hours, every forealtogether with the presence of Wilson. How are you, my love ?' Now Esther Fleming was still of presenting Esther, for an icy second, an age when to sit and dream two gloved fingers of her left hand : silently at the waves is in itself a

Have you slept ? have you reco- vague, voluptuous delight. To vered from your journey ? That is watch the pale sky fading in the far well. Now run and put on your horizon, to watch the fisherman's hat: anything will do for the sails starting forth, like the trembeach, my love; you see how I am bling venture of young hope, across dressed.'

the bay, filled her with yearning At Countisbury, Miss Fleming's thoughts, if not of Oliver, of somecustom was to put on her hat with- thing infinitely dearer in realityout so much as looking in the glass; the love she had herself built up but of course, at a great place like for him! And, full of such visions, Weymouth, any human being must she would contentedly have sat out naturally care more for personal ap- the two hours of stipulated sea-air pearance than among the lonely without speaking a word; but Mrs. Devonshire moors. When she had Tudor, in common, I fancy, with put on her holland jacket, and her most other old persons, had no best little black hat, and the narrow liking whatever for being out-ofblack velvet round her throat, and doors and alone. What dreams had her dark neat-fitting gloves, she was she? what did a fading horizon or conscious how well she looked in departing sail say to her? Her venthe extreme simplicity of her dress; tures had been put forth half a cenand, half-guiltily, she started from tury before. She had welcomed the pleasure that consciousness back to shore ships well-laden with awakened in her.

substantial merchandize in lieu of * You only want an umbrella to be that frail, worthless ballast, with perfectly well dressed,' Mrs. Tudor which they first set sail. Whatever remarked, as she scanned her niece's interest this Weymouth Parade appearance with satisfaction. I could yield her was on the side told you to put on anything, because where people rode up and down,

« AnteriorContinuar »