페이지 이미지


[ocr errors]


But Reginald, the eldest-born, cried ness which checks the flow of old rememout,

bered household talk, by times, when mates “ What! our brave Uncle Ned, who killed of childhood and of early youth meet in the the wicked robber that chopped the chil- unaccustomed presence of those with whom dren's hands off? Hooray! mamma." their later years have mated closer still.

“ Constance,” said Lady Royston, “what The charm of that first hour's intercourse uncles do you pray. God bless’ at night, was perfect and unbroken ; sudden and undear child ?"

expected to a marvel, yet unrestrained and Why, Uncle Phil and Uncle Ned, of easy with the accustomed ease of home. course, mamma."

“ Indeed, you are at home, Ned, if Con's “You hear, Ned, I have kept my word, privilege may be mine, to give old Cransdale and not forgotten that I have two broth- names again. Let me send for your things ers."

at once. The broken shaft will take some Not one word came. He only pressed her days to mend, I hear; and there is even taper hands ; but let them loose at last, and talk of turning over passengers and mails to stooped to kiss the children.

the next boat from Gibraltar." • Mother," asked Reggy, as if mamma" “ And that's the boat by which his cousin were womanish, “how soon shall I have a comes, if he should come at all,” cried Lady big beard, like his ?”

Royston. “His dropping from the clouds But little Constance said,

among us after this sort, had driven that out It's not so very like the ugly giant's in of my mind entirely." my picture-book.”

Then followed explanations. Keane BurThen their pent-up feeling found issue in kitt, it appeared, had written word that they kindly laughter at the little maid's left- need not be startled should the next packet handed compliment. She was in his lap, from Southampton bring himself to Malta. however, and Reggy at his knee, and even Besides certain matters of importance to the Catherine, more shy in elder girlhood, stand- finance of Rookenham, there were political ing with one arm on the back of the great matters touching my lord's free and indeeasy-chair in which he sat, when presently pendent borough of Cawsley, on which he Lord Royston came in, to wonder who might should be glad to confer personally with my be the stranger treated so familiarly. The lord, a general election being now most cerchorus of childish trebles solved the momen- tainly at hand. Moreover, he had been tary enigma.

much worked of late; and even Mrs. Burkitt “Here's Uncle Ned, papa—the uncle we was anxious for him to take the sea trip, have never seen from India ! ”

though it would part them for a month or “Ned Locksley, Royston,” said their two. mother. “Don't you recognize him ?” “Of course you'll stay for him, then, and Her husband gave him hearty greeting. return together. Are they expecting you at

not among those smaller souls home ?" which nurse a grudge against the loser of “How should they be? I came away at the priceless prize which they themselves eight and forty hours' notice, and the mail's have won. And if an imperceptible confu- on board the boat which brought me.” sion troubled Ned's acceptance of his cordi- “ You may write to-morrow by the Sicilian ality, that was because the younger man was steamer vià Marseilles, I think.” strong enough of heart not easily to pardon “No! I am almost superstitious on the unforgotten faults within himself. This cup-and-lip doctrine. Joy breaks no hearts, slight disturbance was but for an instant. however it bursts in on them ; but disapLord of Rookenham and kinsman of Crans- pointment sickens. If you write home by dale, before his marriage with the lovely the Sicilian, pray, say nothing of my being daughter of its house, Lord Royston had no half-way there." scanty share in the old associations spring- Then there was Max Gervinus to consider; ing up, faster than even winged words could but on his case the Roystons would suffer follow, in conversation fraught with memo- no debate. ries, between his wife and Ned. No need The official, despatched in quest of Ned's of effort, therefore, to keep off that awkward- goods from hotel,custom-house, and steamer,

His was

was bearer of a note, which took upon them- flame and twinkle. By the time they went selves the blame of Ned's desertion for these down into the state rooms again, her ladylast few hours, and summoned Max with ship's reception was well crowded; and, in peremptory politeness to become himself at one large saloon, the dancers were keeping once an inmate of the Palazzo.

joyous time to the strains of a full orchestra. “ There's only one thing I regret, Ned, on Here and there, among the men in uniform, such a happy day as brings you,” Lady Ned was greeted by old acquaintances, who Royston said.

had served in queen's regiments in India. " Which is ?”

But he knew no lady. The hostess found a “That there is a grand reception here to- moment to ask him if he would not dance, night, a dinner, a dance, and I don't know as she would introduce him to Maltese sigwhat. All Valetta, besides the garrison. norina or English girl, as he might fancy. We are not our own, alas! and can't be He declined her offer. But Max, with all yours from five o'clock into the smaller hours his scientific gravity, was too much of a of night.”

Teuton to remain indifferent to the waltzWell, it was rather provoking; but there music. Lady Royston soon made him happy was strange compensation in store for him. with an accomplished partner. Ned stood After the state-dinner, Ned and Max Gervi- more than ever alone. By and by, a lady nus retired to the lofty balcony of their ad- of somewhat more than middle-age came joining rooms up-stairs. The view was far and sat down by an open window near him. and wide over the sea, whose waves had now Off her winsome countenance his eyes rebegun to dance instead of dashing, bright- fused to wander when once they had lighted ening their angry amethystic' purple into on it. When their fixed gaze attracted hers, more limpid hues of sapphire. No speck of she gave no token of any recognition ; but cloud remained upon the vault of heaven. something in her look put an end at once to None in the west, where the great golden all Ned's hesitation. He stepped forward, glory was ablaze, although the last rim of held out his hand, and said, the bright orb was sinking. None in the Surely, I cannot be deceived in you. It east, where yet the white sails of feluccas seems but yesterday since you and your glowed with the far refraction of prismatic good husband were so kind to me at Chatsplendors. But, looking northwards, Ned terham. I fear, dear Mrs. Grant, you have presently exclaimed,

forgotten your former "griff,' Ned Locks“ Yes, Max! there is one after all. See, ley." how filmy white, yet flushed with filmy pink, “ Not when the voice had spoken half a and cooled with even filmier shades of blue ! sentence,” she exclaimed, with look and tone Oh, what a lovely cloud, out yonder !” and gesture of most friendly reminiscence.

Wonder-fine!” Max answered; “but it" And now I see the old play on the feais too sharp and regular to be a cloud-mass. tures, and am more glad to see it, Mr. See what a perfect cone. Ah! I have it Locksley, than I can easily express.” now, that is the snowy peak of Etna, pink “ And how is the captain ?” with even-shine."

Major-as I know you will be glad to “ Well, I believe you're right, Max.” hear-quite well, I thank you ; and will be

He went in to fetch his telescope, and as much delighted at this meeting as myself.” having found the focus, gazed long and pa- “ Still with the old corps ? ” tiently. Presently he said,

“No:-I am almost sorry to say. For " I see a smoke, like the puff of far-off the regiment had become a home to homeartillery Now it rolls out thicker and less folks like us. But, with our small indarker. The wind in Sicily must be blow- come, a permanent and better paid appointing our way this evening; for the smoke ment such as he holds here, was not to be hangs towards us like a pall, and has put out refused, you know." my bright cloud altogether.”

“ And little Amy?" Then all the sky fell dark, though not with “ Ah! you would not know her. She is grimy darkness. The sudden southern not gigantic, yet you would hardly call her night had left the heavens blue-black, and little Amy now. But here she is, upon her the studded diamonds of the stars began to father's arm."

[ocr errors]





Yes! There she was! Not short, nor a very good-natured man; but he did think yet of any disproportioned height: as win- it somewhat unreasonable that, in those some, and even prettier, than even her smaller hours of night, and when the housemother had been. Of womanly carriage; hold were worn out with the fatigues of the but of girlish grace. Coy, but lively; with great entertainment, this unexpected guest glance of mingled tenderness and mirth; should insist upon his finding two stout lads with bright complexion, and features per- to carry from the basement-story to his own fectly refined, framed in undiminished wealth apartment, up the lofty palace stairs, a ponof the fair golden hair.

derous hide-bound trunk, which he had exNed was, in peace, a grave enough magis- pressly said, need not be moved until it trate, and a soldier grim enough in war; a went on board the steam-packet. But the man who ruled and led successfully, by vir- lads forgave him ; for, in his generous satistue of no mean might of self-control. He faction, he forced a dollar into the hand of was no fantastic youth, by this time, with either, whilst yet their fingers were crooked dreamy mind, half awe-stricken, and half upon the knotted cords. cajoled, by the first dawn of passion : yet it He bolted the door on them as they went befell him that, at this first sight of Amy out, unlocked the trunk, pounced on a little Grant's unremembered and unfamiliar beau- writing-case, and, opening it, tossed its conty, he felt his heart kneel down at once to tents out on the bed, to get at the spring of own its sweet dominion.

its so-called “secret drawer.” He actually Sudden as this emotion was, it was so shut his eyes on touching it, with nervous calm as to appear, even to his inmost self, fear, lest, after all, proof should jump out of deliberate. Neither his manner, nor his memory's having played him false. voice, nor yet his look was troubled. He But there the silken coil lay glittering, on greeted her father partly with the old defer- a handful of dull brown moss, a few dried ence of the recruit for the veteran, partly rose-leaves scenting it. with the new sense of comradeship, grown It was the most natural thing in the world of experience, in the same manly school of that, years ago, he should have laid them

there together ; but to-night it seemed a Amy, at her mother's bidding, gave him marvel of delicious omen to find this emblem her soft hand, as if in old acquaintance, and, of a love which might bud unforbidden, cushlittle by little, began to gather her childish ioned on the memorial of a love to master recollections of him.

which had been among the foremost duties They were confused. But a broken-nosed of his early youth. Indian doll, and some name-was it of a Strange and sweet enchantment, which “ Lady Constance" ? — were inextricably brought him face to face again with Amy bound up with them.

Grant, under the sisterly smile of Constance Ah! Ned was not going to startle her Cranleigh. Magical compensation! He lay with his exultation at his suddenly revived awake, much pondering how soon after the reminiscence of their last parting. Yet, as sun was up the jewellers in the Strada dei the sheen of her golden hair shifted with the Orefici would take down their shutters. It sway of her graceful head, he almost mar- must be a locket of the purest crystal, lest velled not to detect the place whence she the gleam should anywhere be dulled: the had shorn the ringlets for him. The frown plain rim would serve to show how poor a which knit severity on his bronzed forehead, burnish art can put on mere metallic gold. came of the effort to recall where the too- Unaccountable, perhaps, all this; perhaps long neglected treasure might lie hid in his unwise. But, once before, I ventured to set possession.

down that observation has not shown me So completely did the effort absorb his what advance men make beyond the wisdom mind, that when the frown relaxed, in the of their generous boyhood, in matters such radiance of solution, he was quite surprised as these. to find that Amy Grant was gone, to dance At breakfast the next morning Lady Roy. the next quadrille with Max, whom Lady ston said, Royston had introduced to her.

“I was so glad, Ned, that you chanced on The major-domo of their excellencies was old acquaintances. I felt less compunction,



though not less regret, at leaving you to your his inquiries, not only for the Andersons, but own devices all the evening."

for every soul of the old Chatterham society. “It was the second pleasing wonder of the His memory seemed to have acquired a sudday,” he answered. “I had no notion this den faculty for recalling all manner of obsotime yesterday, outside the harbor, that I lete names. Mrs. Grant was driven to de. should light on you, or on the Grants. You clare that though her acquaintance with the have no notion how kind they were to me major's brother officers at Chatterham was when I was a raw recruit at Chatterham." large, it had necessary limits. When the

“I can imagine it. The major's a thor- excuse of questioning was at last exhausted, oughly good-hearted man. His wife is charm- he turned to narrative ; and being no settering. There's no one here in Malta that I forth of self-done deeds, which indeed would like half as well. Amy must have been a have interested his good-natured auditor, he child when you were at Chatterham. She is proceeded to ransack his brains for aneca very nice girl, too."

dotes, however trivial, of any personages out “A very nice girl, indeed!” It was the in India whose most casual acquaintance he first falling off that Ned had yet remarked could contrive to fasten on her. With all in Lady Royston. She used to have exqui- her good-nature, Mrs. Grant began to think site taste and singular felicity of expression. him prosy, and the protraction of his call un

“ I shall ask them all here to dinner, of reasonable ; but her woman's wit was quick course."

enough to explain all, and to make allowance She had kept her good sense, at least, if for it, when she saw what change came over her good taste had weakened.

him, as, at last, the door opened gently, and “But not till to-morrow. We must have Amy, with a faldette over her head, came you one whole evening to ourselves." in.

Good patience! Had Lady Royston no A sallow skin and dark black eyes are notion how many minutes make four-and-generally what that variety of the mantilla twenty hours ? Not till to-morrow! Was shadows under its black silk folds ; but when it so certain then that even her good sense from out their gloom such radiance and such was unimpaired. Happily, morning calls, freshness brighten as those of Amy Grant, if not often made in the Trans-Nerbuddah, the unusual contrast has its charms. are not abhorrent from the usages of British “Good-morning, Am- I beg a thousand garrison towns in the Mediterranean. Con- pardons, Miss Grant; but I was thinking of solatory thought, whose consolations he lost the time when you laughed at me for not but little time in seeking to realize. He knowing the difference between a Spanish had no reason to doubt, when he did so, that mantilla and a Maltese faldette. I have not Mrs. Grant was truly glad to see him; but forgotten it since, I can assure you." glad as he was to see her, he would have “ Indeed!” been gladder not to see her alone. The ma- " What a wonderful box of dolls that was, jor's absence at his office, though to be re- Miss Grant. What have you done with gretted, might be borne. But that the them?” Grants should know their next-door neigh- gave them to some little cousins, two bors, and that their next-door neighbors or three years ago now.” should have a garden, were things intolera- “Well, I hope they did not break their ble. What business have people with gar- noses, as the rude schoolboys did.” dens in Malta, where the soil for the flower- “Which rude schoolboys ? ” beds must be brought over in speronares all “ Those young ruffians who tied knots in the way from Sicily P Had the garden in- your beautif- in your hair," said Ned, with deed been at the Grants' own house one the absurdest vehemence. might have suggested a passion for cactus Mrs. Grant could not but smile. Amy, and other prickly beauties of the rocky Mal- who was indeed “a very nice girl," as Lady tese flora as a good and sufficient reason for Royston had said, and who was free from an immediate adjournment thither ; but at any undue consciousness of her own attracthe next-door neighbors—whom one doesn't tions, began, nevertheless, to blush rosy red. happen to know !

Sparks of association run quick in the tin. How lengthy, deliberate, and minute were der of memory, and are very luminous beTHIRD SERIES. LIVING AGE. 787

[ocr errors]

sides. His reminiscence of the tangles in Hebblethwaite minor was in the heavy draher hair began to disentangle some reminis- goons; was six feet high, and rode over fifcences of hers. When the least self-con- teen stone. Young Mapes, of Maperley, the scious of young ladies feels that honest, squire's son, had turned out much cleverer manly eyes are looking no disparagement than any of them had given him credit for, upon her, when she hears how hard it is for and was doing well at the Chancery Bar. the honest, manly voice to keep itself from Yes, old Mrs. White was still alive at Rookcalling her by her own Christian name; it is a enham, and in nominal possession of the little embarrassing to remember, on a sud- keys, but her asthma would hardly let her den, that, of her own accord, she had once mount the first flight of stairs, so that Marthrust a cluster of her golden curls into the tha, who was head housemaid formerly, was honest, manly hand. Even the undoubted a sort of coadjutor and successor-designate. fact that it was some nine years ago or more Police Constable Hutchins had risen to be will not dispel the blush, though it may jus-chief-inspector under the captain superintify the reckless act of childish generosity. tendent of the county police. He was mar

Happily for her confusion the major in- ried, and had divers children. Ah, poor tervened ; then lunch, with bitter beer, and Benjy! he was drowned after all, in a pool so much Chatterham talk again, that even not far from Pixie's pillar. Rizpah's desoNed could not resent poor Mrs. Grant's with lation had been at first most lamentable, but drawal from its repetition, though hers de- as the poor lad's reason had grown dimmer, termined Amy's.

if anything, it was really merciful that he had To-morrow was certainly very far off, but not grown up to helpless manhood on her not quite so distant now as when her lady- hands. ship had spoken of it in the morning. He Then Lady Royston turned examiner, and went lionizing Max Gervinus about the forts Ned must needs, with what modest reserve and harbors till late afternoon. Then, an he might, disclose to her wherein old aspievening spent in company with such people rations after action on the great Eastern field as the Roystons was certainly no grievous had been fulfilled or frustrated. infliction, the less so that they were truly That was a charmingly spent evening, after alone and at their ease, his lordship's secre- all. When Max and the secretary came in tary having taken Max off to an opera. for a late cup of coffee, the stay-at-homes Without any such dire necessity for string- opined that it must have been a very short ing questions against time, as had been on opera. him in the forenoon, Ned had plenty to ask A choice not wisely made is often not unand answer.

wise in itself. Happy the man to whom so Phil was still in the Guards, but much less great and undeserved a grace is given. When extravagant, and had acquired a taste for fat judgment may rest content where fancy has cattle, which promised well for future land- been toiled, large, indeed, is the debt that lordism at Cransdale. He always attended hearts owe to Heaven. Hardly shall they the Baker Street show at Christmas. The write it in sufficient figures upon their tablet Maude Cassilis affair had ended long ago to of obligations. everybody's satisfaction, she having married Not that Ned's judgment had put off, next a gouty marquess. Katey Kilmore, too, had day, the tinted spectacles of fancy, nor bound married a clergyman—she was a pattern of on again the bandage which shuts all illusion grave parochial matrons now. Phil's latest out; nor yet that his decisions on points indications had been towards Lady Rosa raised for consideration were as deliberate Barrington. The Buffer, by the way, had and as impartial as if he sat in magisterial lost his father as well as his elder brother,"cutcherry” among his Bheels. an old bachelor, and so come in to the Bam- But even had Lucy Locksley, or some critic ford title. Thus Rosa was “ her ladyship." of equally keen sight, been scrutinizing Amy Mamma thought her a little too saucy, per- Grant, the verdict on her looks and bearing haps, but she had improved, even on that could not have been unfavorable. The tests score, and was such a bright, good-natured applied, as if by chance, to both were cergirl that if Master Phil and she were to grow tainly severe. Though mother of three chilserious the banns would not be forbidden. Idren, Lady Royston had lost little of the lus

« 이전계속 »