Transcriber's Note on the Text:
This book was written by a young girl. There are many spelling and punctuation errors that have all been retained with the rare exception of clear printer's error such as He,en on page 164. These three corrections are listed at the end of the text. For each story, the title was written on a separate page and then repeated on the next page. The second of these was omitted to avoid redundancy for the reader. The remaining text is intact, for example, on page 335, the chapter MR. HOSE MAKES ENQUIRIES starts with a small letter, most dialogue has no punctuation at the end and is often missing at least one quotation mark. Missing letters in the original are denoted by asterisks in the text.
DAISY ASHFORD: HER BOOK
DAISY ASHFORD: HER BOOK
A COLLECTION OF THE REMAINING NOVELS BY THE AUTHOR OF
"THE YOUNG VISITERS,"
TOGETHER WITH "THE JEALOUS GOVERNES"
BY ANGELA ASHFORD
WITH A PREFACE BY
IRVIN S. COBB
NEW YORK GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
Copyright, 1920, By George H. Doran Company
Printed in the United States of America
BY IRVIN S. COBB
The role of discoverer is pleasing, nearly always, and more especially in its reactions is it pleasing. The actual performance of discovery may be fraught with hardships and with inconveniences and even with perils; as witness Christopher Columbus making his first voyage over this way in a walloping window-blind of a tub of a ship and his last one back with chains at his wrists and ankles; as witness Hendrick Hudson; as witness Dr. Harvey's unfortunate position in the eye of constituted authority after he had discovered the circulation of the blood; as witness the lamentable consequences to whoever it was who, probably by the process of eating a mess of miscellaneous wild fungoids, disclosed to a bereaved family and a benefited world the important fact that certain mushrooms were nourishing and certain toadstools were fatal.
To your true discoverer the compensations of his trade come when he points with pride to the continent or the great natural fact or the new author he discovered and cries aloud before all creation: "See what I have found!"
So, aside from the compliment and the honor of it, I feel added gratification and added pleasure that I should be invited to write a foreword for the first American edition of Miss Daisy Ashford's second book. You see, I claim the distinction of having been the first person in America other than its publisher and my friend Mr. George H. Doran to read the manuscript of that immortal work "The Young Visiters." If I did not actually discover Miss Ashford, at the age of nine when she wrote "The Young Visiters"—for indeed no one appears to have discovered her then excepting perhaps her parents—at least I had a hand in discovering her on this side of the Atlantic ocean at a time when mention of her name, which now is so famous a name, meant nothing to the casual hearer.
After the lapse of nearly a year the event stands in my memory as marking one of those hours of pure and perfect joy which come but too rarely to human beings. At the request of Mr. Doran I read the manuscript which he had just brought with him from Europe. I read the story itself first and afterwards the preface, or foreword. This, I think, was as it should be. By rights a preface however sprightly and well done—and a preface by Sir James Barrie would have to be well done—should be served with a book as cheese is served with a dinner: at its finish and not at the beginning.
When I had read the story through to the last delicious sentence of the last delectable paragraph and when I had caught up with my breath which I had lost by laughing or rather when my breath had caught up with me, I sapiently said to him:
"Publish it? Of course you ought to publish it. Aside from such sordid considerations as the profits which are certain to accrue you owe it to yourself as a responsible member of the human race to give this glorious thing circulation among the reading public of North America. If I were you I'd print thirty thousand copies in the first batch before I released any copies among the reviewers or sent any copies as samples to the trade. And after that I'd keep the presses running steadily in the hope of being able to keep up with the demand which is sure to follow on the heels of publication. This is almost the funniest book that was ever written and it is all the funnier because the writer was so desperately in earnest, so tremendously serious all the while she was writing it."
"It has made a big hit in England already," he said. "But over there some people are saying that the author must have been a grown-up person—that no child of nine could have written such a thing. The suggestion is even being advanced that Barrie himself wrote it. I know better, because I have seen the original script in a child's handwriting on old and faded paper, and I met Miss Ashford some weeks ago in London and I have had all the proof one needs that this is the authentic product of a nine-year-old mind."
To which I said:
"No doubt some people will be saying the same thing over here and they'll be wrong just as these English skeptics are and if they'll only stop to think for a moment they'll know why they're wrong. No grown person, not even the creator of a Wendy and a Peter Pan, could have done this thing. It exhales the perfume of an authoritative genuineness in every line of it. It had to be a child who wrote it—a child with a child's imagination and a child's viewpoint and a child's ignorance of the things she wrote about. In a way of speaking it is like those unintentionally humorous obituary poems which appear in the papers. No professional humorist can hope to equal them because when he writes one he does it with deliberate intent to be funny and invariably he betrays his hand. It is when some poor mourning amateur dips a 'prentice pen in the very blood of his or her heart and writes such a poem that it becomes so pathetically and so tragically side-splitting."
This was what I said. Not in these words exactly, but to this effect.
Mind you, I am not proclaiming that I am the only person who has said this. Between chuckles thousands and thousands of others since that day have thought and have said it. What I am proud of is that I was the first person in America to say it, and so to this extent I count myself a discoverer and I feel a sort of proprietary sense in being permitted here to introduce "Daisy Ashford: Her Book." I am mindful of the distinction because of the reason I have just stated and because also in a way of speaking it qualifies me for some sort of literary kinship with Sir James M. Barrie.
Even so I do not aspire to the presumptuous hope that any one may say "Well, I see this man Cobb is doing for Miss Ashford's second book what Barrie did for her first one." I have no such ambition. A minnow always errs when he undertakes to swim in the company of a whale. If he tries to swim alongside he is unnoticed; if he swims in the wake he is swamped. He makes other minnows jealous or contemptuous as the case may be, and he is properly ignored by the whale.
Miss Ashford's own preface, accompanying this volume, gives the chronological sequences of its contents. The first story of all, "A Short Story of Love and Marriage," she wrote when she was eight years old. "The True History of Leslie Woodcock" was written three years later, after "The Young Visiters" had been written. "Where Love Lies Deepest" trickled from the busy pen of the young person when she was twelve years old; and "The Hangman's Daughter," the most pretentious of them all and to my way of thinking the best of her preserved works next only to "The Young Visiters," was undertaken when she was about thirteen, she says, and finished in the following year. Also included in this book is a story by Miss Ashford's sister Angela, done at the age of eight and entitled "The Jealous Governes; or The Granted Wish." In this we learn the real facts regarding the coming of babies. Babies are not fetched by storks. Medical men bring them in boxes and afterward render bills for the same, as note the following: (page 330) "Miss Junick Dr. to doctor Paulin for one baby delivered as per agreement L1," a low enough price truly. If a child of eight (who in point of years is so very much closer to being a baby than most of the writers on the subject are) cannot be trusted to recall the circumstances of this mystery, who can? We can only regret that a second sister, Vera, the artist of this talented nursery, did not save her one contribution to the literary output of the Ashford family. It was entitled "Little Mary and The Angle." Angle did not refer to a worm but to a visitor from a celestial domain; we have the word of Miss Daisy Ashford for it that this story was of a pious character. What a wonderful household the Ashford household must have been with Daisy and Angela writing romances and Vera illustrating them and between times doing a bit of writing herself. Can't you see the pencils flying? Can't you see three little pink tongues sticking out from between three pairs of purposeful lips and wriggling in time to the pencils? Can't you see the small brows furrowed with thought? And the proud parents? And the startled nursemaid?
To my mind the very finest thing about Miss Daisy Ashford's present book is the opportunity it gives us, reading it, to follow the growth of her genius for observation. For surely the faculty to observe and, having observed, to set down in words the results of that observation is a genius. It is more than that, it is two phases of genius harmoniously coupled.
At the age of eight, as we shall note, she begins her career as a writer by knowing very little of certain phases of life largely dealt with by older writers; and this little she knows by reason of what she has read or by reason of what she has heard read. Rapidly, though, she progresses to the point where, along with these borrowed second-hand impressions, she incorporates impressions which are all her own. Reading what she wrote in the first year of her authorship, we can figure, approximately, when she learned her first French word; when to her there came those vague appreciations of the Roman Catholic faith which are so fascinating to the children of non-Catholics—or perhaps the Ashford family were Romanists. Influenced by these alluring ecclesiastical mysteries, we find her causing a prospective bridegroom to address the Rev. Father Fanty as "your kindness" and begging the reverend gentleman "to excuse my craving for matrimony." Through these pages one sees how travel broadened the young person's fund of experience, which in her favored case meant her fund of material, for unlike many writers, old enough to know better, little Miss Ashford was, by the virtue of a miraculous intuition, inspired to write, sometimes at least, of things that she actually knew about, rather than to deal exclusively with topics which other writers before her had professed to know about. Early in her opening story she speaks of "Cracknels." Reading this word, my memory ran back to my own childhood when we knew but three standard varieties of crackers—soda-crackers, animal crackers and cracknels which last were round, slickish objects rather like glazed oak-galls, somewhat dusty to the taste and warranted to create a tremendous thirst for licorice water and lemonade. I had entirely forgotten cracknels until Miss Ashford came along yesterday and reminded me of them.
In "A Short History of Love and Marriage"—and how woefully short sometimes is the history of a love and how short too, perhaps, the history of a marriage!—she shows to us that for all its admitted shortness the narrative is properly rounded out. For on page 24 we learn that the happy couple went on a bridal tour to India and "seven hours after they got there had two twin babies." Seven hours and two twin babies, a magnificent showing surely and the prevalent rage for shortness maintained to the very end! Page 24 is one of the very best pages in this book, containing, as it also does, a painstaking description of perhaps the most striking and interesting marriage-morn costume worn by any bridegroom in the Christian era.
It is not my intention to quote over-liberally from the contents of this volume. To my way of thinking the trick of inserting copious extracts from a novel into the foreword of that novel is as great a mistake as though I invited you to my house for dinner and before dinner gave you tidbits and choice bites from each course. I should merely be dulling your appetite, without satisfying your hunger.
My aim is to direct your attention, if I may make so bold, to certain pages, specifying them by their numbers and trusting that when you have progressed so far you will, in the reading of them, find the same joy and the same zest that I have found there. For example, on page 46 I respectfully invite your consideration to the pains taken in enumerating the various articles of one Sylvia's running-away or elopement trousseau. There was a thorough young woman for you, and a provident.
On page 87 occurs mention of two sisters and here, despite my promise of two paragraphs ago, I cannot resist the temptation to quote one short but tremendously illuminating line. The author is speaking now of two sisters and of the elder she says, she "was by no means beautiful but she was intensely good." How often it happens that those who are by no means beautiful are intensely good—how often and sometimes oh, how easy for them to be so good. But most of us, even those who educate our faculties of observation the better to earn a living thereby, are very much older than eleven years before we discern this great truth.
I think the brightest gems of all this collection are to be found, in the greatest profusion, in "The Hangman's Daughter." The ill-fated gentleman hangman, Mr. Winston, who moved to Kenelham "where only about two people were hung a year" is in my opinion worthy to be rated with the deathless and ever-to-be glorious Mr. Salteena. Miss Ashford says she was shocked when her brothers on hearing the trial scene read (pages 150, 151, 152) laughed at what she had conceived to be a tragic and dramatic passage in the action of her tale. Later, no doubt, she has come to realize how dangerous a thing it is for one to acquire, either intentfully or otherwise, the reputation of being a humorist; for when he who has been branded as a humorist says a thing with desire to be serious his friends laugh at it as a most rare whimsicality and when, on the other hand, he deliberately sets out to be humorous, his enemies very likely will declare that never before in all his life was he quite so serious. And had her brothers been older, had they been of an age to appreciate the unconscious comedy that marked the Dreyfus trial, say, or had they ever had opportunity to hear the proceedings in sundry murder trials in America, when learned counsel was asking questions and learned alienists were making answers, they would have been able to appreciate the fact that no burlesque description of a murder trial can ever be quite so utterly comic as a real murder trial sometimes is.
A flashing jewel of dramatic intensity awaits you (pages 229 to 234 inclusive) when you come to read of the rescue of Gladys and Helen from the grasp of the murderer of Helen's own dear father and of the method employed by Gladys' heroic brother for detaining the miscreant Likewise, I pray you, reader dear, that you linger on page 257 wherein the "menu of the table d'hote" which was "of nightly recurrence" at Lord Beaufort's castle, is printed in full. In my mind's eye I see little Miss Daisy Ashford, twelve years old going on thirteen, carefully bearing away with her the card of the first meal she ever ate in a regular restaurant and taking it home and treasuring it up against the time when she might insert it into her greatest story, then in process of incubation, at exactly the appointed spot to create the most telling effect, under the most appropriate possible circumstances. Could a proper respect and a proper instinct for local color rise to greater heights? I deny it. So too will you deny it when you arrive at page 258 and read the words emphasized by being displayed in capitals that are on that page at the end of the menu.
Personally I do not think that as a whole this book is equal to "The Young Visiters." Only once in a decade or so is it vouchsafed the writing craft that one among us shall create a masterpiece, destined in time to become a classic and a thing immortal. Only once in an eon or so is it vouchsafed a writer to write a masterpiece at the age of nine years. Very few among us ever produce a second perfect work on top of a first one. But this I will say—every line in this book is worthy to have been written by the same hand that wrote "The Young Visiters" and that, I think, is praise enough for any writer.
New York, April, 1920.
The publication of these stories gives me an opportunity of expressing my thanks for the very cordial reception which was given to "The Young Visiters." I only hope that those who have been amused at the adventures of Ethel and Mr. Salteena will not be disappointed in those of Helen Winston, Leslie Woodcock, and the others whose histories now appear.
"A Short Story of Love and Marriage," I wrote at eight years old. It was dictated to my father, who took it down faithfully word for word. My very first story, "Mr. Chapmer's Bride," which was also dictated, is among those that have been lost. "The True History of Leslie Woodcock" was a later production, and was written at about the age of eleven as a surprise for my mother on her birthday—it was originally entitled "The Q. I. B." (our family word for a secret)—but after the secret was out I changed the title. "Where Love Lies Deepest" was written when I was twelve, and dedicated to our governess of whom I was very fond.
"The Hangman's Daughter," started at the age of about thirteen and finished the following year, I always consider the greatest literary achievement of my youth, for the reason that I put so much more effort into it than any of the others. By this time I had really determined to become an authoress (an ambition which entirely left me after my school days), and I put solid work into "The Hangman's Daughter" and really tried to write well. I shall never forget my feeling of shock when I read it aloud to my brothers and they laughed at the trial scene! A great friend of mine whose Christian name was Helen, was the heroine (Helen Winston) of this story. She was really a little younger than I was, but was far more "grown-up" in every way, a fact of which I was secretly rather "jellus," and it did not require much imagination on my part to picture what she would be at nineteen. I told her she was to be the heroine of my new novel, which I truly thought would thrill anyone, and I must say she was as excited as I could have wished. She will be amused now when she reads this book!
My sister Angela's story, which she wrote at the age of eight, will certainly be voted the most amusing of this collection. It was the first she ever wrote, and it was followed by "Treacherous Mr. Campbell"—another lost manuscript. A great deal of "The Jealous Governes" she wrote herself, as will be noticed by the spelling. Other portions were dictated to my father and mother, and I think the nurse had a hand at it too.
My second sister, Vera, was the artist of the nursery, and drew a wonderful poster to the only play I ever wrote, "A Woman's Crime." She wrote one story, however. It was of a pious nature, profusely illustrated, and entitled "Little Mary and the Angle."
Since the publication of "The Young Visiters," I have often been asked if I don't myself think it funny. When I first discovered it—not having seen it since it was written—I certainly did. That is one of the most curious things about it—to be able to laugh at what one wrote in such solemn seriousness—and that is why I can never feel all the nice things that have been said about "The Young Visiters," are really due to me at all, but to a Daisy Ashford of so long ago that she seems almost another person. It has all been like a fairy tale, from the accidental finding of the original note book to the day when, at her request, I left a copy with my friend Miss Margaret Mackenzie, for it is to her I really owe the publication of the book. She showed it to Mr. Frank Swinnerton, and thus I was lucky enough to have it brought to the notice of my present publishers in England and America.
But the real success of the book I owe to the great kindness of Sir James Barrie in writing such a wonderful preface, and I am glad to have this opportunity of thanking him publicly. His name gave "The Young Visiters" a send-off and a reading which it could not have gained on its own account and of this fact I am most deeply appreciative.
PREFACE BY IRVIN S. COBB v
BY DAISY ASHFORD
AUTHOR'S FOREWORD xxi
A SHORT STORY OF LOVE AND MARRIAGE 15
THE TRUE HISTORY OF LESLIE WOODCOCK 27
WHERE LOVE LIES DEEPEST 67
THE HANGMAN'S DAUGHTER 105
BY ANGELA ASHFORD
THE JEALOUS GOVERNES, OR THE GRANTED WISH 303
A SHORT STORY OF LOVE AND MARRIAGE
The house in which Mr. and Mrs. Molvern lived was one of the usual kind, with its red painted door and small garden looking out on a very dreamy park. The bed-room windows which all looked out on the front, had half dirty white curtains in them, above which could be seen dark red silk sashes of the same dirtiness.
Mr. Molvern was a red haired quick tempered gentleman, with very small grey eyes and a clever looking pink face. He would always wear brown suits, but as everybody said he looked much better in black. Mrs. Molvern was quite on the contrary. She had indeed a quiet temper, with a pale delicate looking face with large brown eyes that looked at people with great interest, and her fair hair glistened in the sun. She usually wore half dirty white dresses, and in going out she wore a dark blue velvet jacket with black fur and a brown hat with red poppies. She never wore gloves except on Sundays and then she wore yellow cotton ones.
At the present time they had a young gentleman staying with them, who lived in the neighbourhood. He was sitting in his room waiting for the town clock to strike four, because when it did he had to go out and meet his truelove, whose name was Edith Plush. His own name was Thomas Henrick, but he was known as Burke in that family. At last hearing the hour strike, he snatched up a felt hat, and putting it on his greasy head started off to meet his truelove.
When he reached Mionge Lane he met his pretty truelove skipping along most lady-like and primly. She was dressed in a light blue dress with a white sash tied at the side in two knots. Her long fair hair hung down her back tied with a pink ribbon, and her fringe was fluttering in the breeze. Behind her fringe she wore a wreath of green ivy. In one hand she carried a leghorn hat with red and blue ribbon, and in the other a silken bag filled with a threepenny bit and two biscuits, and her age was nineteen.
"Well my pretty bird," she said as she approached Burke, "I hope you will like to 'manger' a biscuit with me," (I may add that she was fond of French).
"Thank you Edith," he said, "I will have one if it is a cracknell."
Then Edith burst into a fit of tears and howled out, "Oh but they are Osbornes."
"Well to dry up those moist tears, I will eat one," said Burke.
"You dear!" said Edith like sunshine after rain, for the smiles had come on her face, as she opened her silken bag and popped one into his blistered hand. After this Burk and Edith walked along down the lane, which I forgot to say was shaded by trees all along.
"Burke," said Edith after a long pause, "you have talked often enough and said we shall be married one day, but when it is going to come off I am sure I don't know."
"Well my dear Edith you must recollect I am not a good dancer and have no nice suits, and you must recollect my people are not in this neighbourhood and I can't write marriage letters, and to begin with I don't think my people would like me to be married just yet as I am not quite twenty nine."
"Well it is silly of you," said Edith, "after having talked to me so often about it, and bothered to come into my house, and sat on the drawing room sofa to make arrangements, and now you seem not to care for it a bit, just because your people are not in the neighbourhood; and besides I was getting quite excited about it!"
"If you had only a little more reason in you," said Burke, "you might take it all in and understand a bit, but you are such a great stupid, so I must leave it alone and wait till I get a chance to speak to Mrs. Molvern about it—she has got a bit of sense in her if you haven't," and his revengeful face made poor little Edith shudder. Indeed she was now too frightened to answer, and she kept on trying to go home every time she got a chance, but Burke's quick eye caught her every time.
Edith walked on slowly in front thinking what was the best way to cheer Burke out of his most moodful mind. At last she hit on a plan. "Burke," she said "I have painted such a pretty little tray, it will just hold a cup of tea and a plate of toast and the paint is quite dry now, if you will come in and have a cup of tea with me to-day, I will gladly show it to you."
This short but cheerful conversation of Edith's, made Burke quite forget their quarrel, and he turned round and said, "I will willingly come Edith, I know your good painting,—hark, there is four o'clock striking now."
"So it is," said Edith pulling her hat more over her fringe.
Burke and Edith walked down the quiet little village in which both their houses stood. At last they arrived at Edith's house which was much prettier than Mrs. Molvern's.
"Don't you think," said Burke as he advanced to it with firm stride, "that you had better ring the bell, as you have a visitor with you?"
"Oh, no," said Edith "my mother would be sure to say if she knew it was I, that I was never to ring again, giving all that trouble to the servants; it isn't as if you were alone."
"Very well," said Burke, "I only thought perhaps it was best."
Edith smiled at him as she went up the front door steps. She led him into her pretty little bed-room to take off his things while she took off hers.
"How very comfortable all looks" said Burke, "I feel quite inclined to write a note at that pretty little table there."
"Oh indeed but you shan't," said Edith just beginning her snappy temper, but Burke forgot to reply to her.
They then went down and had some tea and Burke much admired the pretty tray of Edith's. They had for tea some cold ham (the remainder of the luncheon) some toasted buns, a sago pudding, a dried bloater and a couple of shrimps.
After this Edith threatened to hate Burke if he would not arrange about the marriage.
"Look here, I wish you would talk of something else," said Burke, "I have a good mind not to marry you at all."
But at this Edith clung so wretchedly to his knees that he had to say, "well, to-morrow morning."
So that next morning Burke walked along down the village trying to make out where his own dear Edith could be.
Just as he was thinking of going up to her house he saw Norah Mackie and Evelyn Slattery coming along together.
"Your friend," they said chaffingly, "is picking some old geraniums in the front garden."
Burke stared at them straight and putting out his tongue once or twice, walked on to find his darling pet.
"I wish my sister Mary was here," echoed Evelyn, "she would soon strike out at you." And they walked on grumbling at his impudence.
"Well pretty dear," said Burke as he approached Edith's garden.
"Angel! I have been waiting for you to come and talk about the wedding."
"Yes I am perfectly settled," said Burke, and he began: "I have written to my people and they have written back to say yes I may marry you, and kind Mrs. Molvern is having such a nice wedding suit made for me, and I think we will be prepared to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony next Thursday."
"Thank you so much," said Edith "suppose we talk about it now here on this sunny bench."
Burke lifted up his coat tails and squatted himself down. "The first thing to find out about," he said, "is about asking Father Fanty to marry us."
"Yes, now I have hit upon a plan this very minute," said Edith, "you will write a letter to him. I have got a rather crumpled bit of paper in my pocket, and as most men have got a pen in their pockets most likely you have got one."
"Indeed I have," said Burke, "and a threepenny blotter too."
As for ink, Edith had a halfpenny bottle in her pocket. So Burke began like this:
"DEAR REV. FATHER FANTY,
I hope your kindness does not mind marrying us Miss Edith Plush and myself. We are both capable of receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony on Thursday next if quite convenient to you. Hoping you will excuse my craving for Matrimony,
Your sincerely, THOMAS HENRICK."
Burke told Edith's maid to run to the Presbytery with the letter and wait for an answer. About a quarter of an hour afterwards this exquisite and most graceful letter came from Father Fanty.
"MOST DEAR T. HENRICK,
On Thursday I am free from all engagement and am most willing to marry you, and give a charming wedding breakfast in my lovely harmonium room. So with my best congratulations on your coming marriage,
I am, Your affectionate priest, FATHER FANTY."
So on the following Thursday Burke and Edith were dressed as I shall mention now. The timid darling lady had on a most lovely sky blue coloured dress with a high bustle, and it was blossomed over with sham daisies tied on with green ribbon. On her head she wore a wreath of yellow roses, and her white veil reached down to the top of her stays. White kid gloves, and as the sleeves of her dress were rather short, her red beef coloured hands showed between. She had pretty white velvet boots with grass green buttons, and washed out red stockings. In her hand she held a bunch of green ivy.
The strong and bold bridegroom wore a red swallow tailed coat, with a green silk sash tied in front. He had black knickerbockers and white woollen socks, and black dressing slippers, and he carried a bowler in his hand.
When they arrived at the church the marriage was splendid, but the bare legs of Burke were not much appreciated.
For the wedding breakfast they had several cups of Bouillon Fleet, and eight of Bovril. They had six Vanilla cream puddings and strawberry ices by the score; but they kept the blinds drawn down in case vulgar little boys should loom in and say "give us a slice," while the leg of pork was being cut.
For their honeymoon, they went to the south of India, and seven hours after they got there they had two twin babies, a boy and a girl which they called Abraham and Sarah, because they were fond of those holy saints.
So we will say goodbye to this two chaptered story.
THE TRUE HISTORY OF LESLIE WOODCOCK
DAISY ON HER BIRTHDAY
INTRODUCING THE FAMILY
"Sylvia Sylvia" cried a man's voice in the hall. "Where is that child?"
"Coming" answered the child for so she was always called by her Uncle Richard although in years she was close on 19.
And she turned to obey the summons, a deep flush mounted to her usually too pale cheeks, and lighted up her whole countenance.
Sylvia Monton was little more than a baby when her parents were both drowned whilst on their way to India where Captain Monton was to join his regiment. So little Sylvia was left an orphan and her mothers only brother Richard Earlsdown came forward to take charge of her being a bachelor and possessing no children of his own.
At the time our history opens Sylvia was a tall thin girl with a fair and saddened face, which was only enlivened by the sky blue of her eyes—she had golden hair which she wore combed back from her white and noble forehead and arranged in heavy waves round her small and shapely head—a small rosebud mouth which when wide open displayed 2 rows of pearly white teeth. Small white hands adorned by 3 golden rings and a tiny round nose which she daintily touched now and again with a lace hankerchief.
It was 3 oclock on a dismal afternoon late in February and the place was on the boarders of the Sussex downs.
"What a rainy day for our walk Uncle" sighed Sylvia as she approached her uncle who was still waiting in the hall.
"I wish it were finer my dear" said Mr. Earlsdown opening a large unbrella manfully.
Mr. Earlsdown was an elderly man between 50 and 60, he had iron grey hair and a long bushy beard to corrospond, sharp grey eyes and a would be handsome face but for a stern forbidding expression it habitually wore. He was broad and stout and had a manfull way of carelessly swinging his arms that gave him many friends. Not only this but he had a loud hearty voice that he knew how to use with a will.
Here Mr. Earlsdown proceeded to turn up his trouser tips and offering his large umbrella to his niece cried in his hearty voice "let us brave the storm."
Just then a gust of wind blew Sylvia's dainty toque down a side street. "Oh uncle" she gasped dropping the gingham in her dismay "do go and fetch it," but ere she uttered the words a tall handsome fellow approached bearing his head and displaying the lost hat in his hand.
"Oh thank you" cried Sylvia a beautiful blush mounting her fair cheeks "I am so very grateful to you."
"I am afraid it is rather dusty" said the newcomer taking out a lovely silk hankerchief and preparing to wipe the charming object
"Don't trouble sir" said Mr. Earlsdown and taking out a large red kerchief he seized the hat in his huge hand and pounded it vigorously. "Oh uncle gently" cried Sylvia "you will spoil my feathers
"I know what I am about my dear" said Mr. Earlsdown "and you sir come and see us to-morrow, my child will be glad of a caller."
"Oh indeed I shall" cried Sylvia blushing.
And Leslie Woodcock, for that was the handsome fellows name raised his hat and bowed low saying "I shall be delighted my dear sir, but might I ask what your address is.
"Certainly my man" exclaimed Mr. Earlsdown as with a hearty laugh he produced a little card on which was written
R. EARLSDOWN ESQ, Yellowflower Hall Mayfield Sussex
Leslie bowed once more and taking the card moved gently away. What took place after this will be reserved for our next chapter.
The hero of my story I will now describe.
Leslie Woodcock was about 6 feet in his stockings and fine and well built. He had very dark brown hair neatly parted at one side, a curly moustache of the same shade and deep brown eyes always half shut. He had a large straight nose and mouth to correspond and white well shaped hands and feet, that set off this good looking young man.
It was about half past 3 oclock on the following afternoon when Leslie Woodcock dressed in a light grey suit and crimson tie, black felt bowler and fur lined overcoat, started for Yellowflower Hall.
Sylvia who had been expecting him all the morning was pleased to hear the front door bell ring, and hurried to the window to wave her hand, as she knew it must be the good looking stranger.
Just then the drawing room door was flung open and the butler announced Mr. Woodcock "Oh good afternoon" said Sylvia rushing from the window to greet the visitor "how good of you to come in all this pouring rain."
"It was a bad day to come, but I was true to my word" answered our hero warmly shaking hands.
"Yes indeed how wet you must be" said Sylvia and then turning to the butler she added "Johnson inform Mr. Earlsdown that Mr. Woodcock is here."
In about 3 minutes a heavy step was heard and Mr. Earlsdown came bounding into the room laughing loudly.
"How do Mr. Woodcock" he gasped between his peals of laughter "I didn't at all expect you, in fact I forgot all about you" and here he sank into a chair and offered a snuff box to his friend.
"Thanks" said Leslie streching out his long thin fingers and taking a small pinch which he silently dropped on the floor as being so young he was afraid it would make him sick.
"You'll stop to tea wont you?" asked Sylvia arranging the folds of her green silk dress.
"Thank you I will if it is no trouble" said Leslie and a smile passed over his thin lips.
In a few moments Johnson and another footman brought in tea from the conservatory on a silver tray.
"Now Mr. Woodcock please to help yourself" said Mr. Earlsdown offering him three or four plates of sugar and other cakes. Leslie took a small jam wafer and proceeded to nibble it quietly. "How far did you come?" asked the girl as she was busy pouring out tea.
"Not very far" responded Leslie lifting his full brown eyes to her face. "I live in Astma House upon the high road.
"Oh I see" replied Sylvia with a nod of her fair head, "you have sisters and brothers then? for I have seen them coming in and out."
"I have two sisters and a cousin" replied Leslie.
"Oh what are their names? asked Sylvia who had a very curious nature.
"My sisters are Violet and Hilda and my cousin is Albert Morris."
"Oh what sweet names" cried the girl "I wish you would bring them here some day."
"Perhaps I will" said Leslie "but Albert does not care for calling he is a very quiet fellow.
"I am sure I should like him. I love boys" said Sylvia.
Here Leslie thought he had better be going so taking his hat and gloves he shook hands after first promising to bring his family the next time he came.
About 3 months after the events recorded in our last chapter Mr. Woodcock decided to give a ball in honour of his daughter Violets coming of age. So he sent out about 20 invitations and Leslie made quite sure that Sylvia was amongst the list of invited people.
At last the happy day arrived and as the carriages drew up in front of Astma House Leslie's form might be seen standing on the door step looking out for when Sylvia would arrive. At last she came and Leslie offered his hand to help her up the steps.
Sylvia was attired in costly white satin with an edging of beaver round the skirt. The body was trimmed with real Venetian Point. Upon her hands she wore pink kid gloves and in her hair a pink may blossom. Her small well formed feet were clad in white high heeled shoes and silk stockings.
"I am afraid I am late Leslie" she said as she entered the hall "but I had such a bother to fix my hair, my maid was out you see" she added blushing
"Oh never mind" said Leslie taking Sylvia's cloak and hanging it up "let us come into the drawing room and join in this walse.
Sylvia's programme was soon filled and she danced till she was tired and at last while resting in an arm chair she was not sorry to see Hilda Woodcock approaching her with a strawberry ice.
"Leslie is going to bring you some jelly or cream pudding in a minute" she said handing Sylvia the tray.
In an instant Leslie came up to her and handing her a jelly retired quickly saying he would be back soon.
At that moment Sylvia felt a touch on her arm and looking round found herself face to face with Albert Morris, a short red haired young man about 22.
"Oh what is it?" cried Sylvia jumping up from her seat.
"Nothing much" replied Albert quietly "only as you are disingaged will you have a valse with me."
"I really can't" answered Sylvia hotly "I am so tired. I have been dancing all the evening."
"Very well" said Albert and he went away and Sylvia turning round saw Leslie sitting beside a young lady gently fanning her and talking to her.
An angry flush mounted to her fair cheeks and for a moment she could barely keep her temper, then without a minutes hesitation she walked boldly towards Leslie and his friend. Leslie jumped up when he saw her approach "I was just coming to look for you Sylvia" he said and getting up he followed her to the end of the room.
"Who was that person I saw you talking to so lovingly?" asked Sylvia.
"Oh that was Isobel May Saunders, a great friend of mine" replied Leslie with a short laugh.
"So I should think a great friend" answered Sylvia angrily "and by the way you were talking to her I should think you were engaged to her."
"Look here Sylvia don't be angry" said Leslie slowly "but I was going to have made her my wife once but since I met you I have thought better of it—please don't say any more about it."
"Oh Leslie" cried Sylvia in surprise "but does the poor girl believe that you love her
"To tell you the truth Sylvia" replied Leslie getting very red as he spoke "my belief is that Isobel thinks I love her and as I can not throw her over altogether that is why you saw me speaking to her just then."
"But what is your reason for not marrying her?" cried Sylvia.
"Well because I thought I would rather marry someone else" said Leslie blushing and looking straight into her face.
"But who do you want to marry?" said Sylvia blushing in her turn.
"You dearest" he replied in an undertone "ever since the day I came to call upon your uncle I have set my heart on making you my wife. Do you think you love me enough to marry me?"
"I think I do Leslie" said Sylvia getting very hot "but I must speak to uncle about it first."
"Don't forget" said Leslie in a beseeching tone "and let me know as soon as possible."
So the whole of that evening Leslie and Sylvia kept together but as Leslie was helping Sylvia on with her cloak, Sylvia saw Isobel Saunders gazing at Leslie with a look which went straight to her heart.
AFTER THE BALL
Before we go on any further we had better say a word about Isobel Saunders.
She was the only daughter of Colonel Saunders of the 159th who having lost a lot of money in the army was now in very poor circumstances. His wife had died five years previously and left him with three sons and a daughter. The eldest son William was a tall stout elderly man of about 25 who followed his father's profession. Robert the next was fair and delicate looking taking after his mother and lived very much at home and was just 21 years of age. The youngest son Frederick who was Isobel's junior by 4 years was still at school.
Isobel, who at the time my story opens had just attained the age of 20 years was 5 feet 3 inches in height, she had thick dark hair fashionably dressed and a massive fringe over her stately forehead. She had bewitching brown eyes from which long lashes swept her cheeks. She had an aqueline nose and a bright complextion. She had nice feet and was fairly podgy.
It was 10 o'clock on the morning after the ball, when Colonel Saunders came into the breakfast room with an open letter in his hand.
"Here is some news for you Isobel" he said "Your aunt Miss Vickers intends favouring us with one of her weekly visits she will arrive this afternoon by the 3 o'clock train, so mind and have everything ready or there will be a fine fuss."
"Oh dear" exclaimed Isobel preparing to pour out the whisky for her father. "I always dread Aunt Sophia's visits."
"Yes indeed she is an old nuisance but we must make the best of her and after all a week is not long."
"That is true" replied Isobel "but still it adds to my other troubles." and with a sigh she ran up to prepare the bedroom.
The town clock was striking 4 when a cab drew up at Vebena Villa and Isobel flew to open the front door.
"How are you dear Aunt! she exclaimed.
"Well my dear I am not as well as might be expected. I have had a severe cold and my servants have worried me so much I thought a week's rest might do me good" answered the fidgety dame hastening into the drawing room and taking a seat she proceeded to give Isobel a list of all her complaints and when she had come to an end of them she turned to her niece saying "Please tell Jane to take my box up and then after I have had some tea I will go to bed, I have had a long and fatiging journey."
Here will be a good time to explain Miss Vickers, she was tall and angular and thin with black hair slightly grey which she wore in an untidy nob behind, she had dark piercing eyes that always seemed to find out other people's business.
Isobel smiled as the door closed on the tall and portly frame of her aunt and she began to re-arrange the room which already in 10 minutes Miss Vickers had turned upside down.
AFTER THE BALL (continued)
Whilst this scene was taking place at Vebena Villa, a very different one was going on at Yellowflower Hall.
While sitting at the breakfast table Sylvia Monton was wondering how to ask her uncle if she might come to terms with Leslie Woodcock.
Presently Mr. Earlsdown rose from his chair and seizing his pipe he entered his study roaring 'Private Tommy Atkins' at the top of his loud voice.
"I am afraid my uncle is in one of his boisterous moods" sighed Sylvia finishing her coffee, "but he does get so excited poor uncle especially when he has been out the night before. I don't remember seeing much of him at the ball. I was so taken up with Leslie. I am rather glad I did not see him though for nothing would induce him to wear evening clothes or a shirt front and he insisted on going in his bicycling suit and such a soiled red tie and oh his hair it was really like a crows nest, I don't know what Mr. and Mrs. Woodcock would have said if he had suddenly burst out with that dreadful 'Tommy Atkins.' but there poor uncle he has such spirits."
So saying Sylvia skipped into her uncle's study.
"Hullo hullo my lassie" he cried tossing down last week's 'Pick me up.'
"I wanted to speak to you Uncle" said Sylvia putting her trembling hand on Mr. Earlsdown's shoulder.
"Talk away then" said Mr. Earlsdown "I am prepared for the very worst news."
"It's nothing much" said the girl "only—
"Wake up wake up my child" said her uncle "only what?"
"Only that Leslie Woodcock has asked me to marry him and with your permission I will accept."
"I dare say you will" said Mr. Earlsdown "but I am not going to give my consent" replied the excitable gentleman "I am not going to see you marry a begger."
"But uncle he is not a begger" cried Sylvia "he is well off, honest and dependable"
"I dare say he is all that" said Mr. Earlsdown "dependable indeed! why ten to one when you have been married to him a month he will devoice you for some other girl he is silly enough to prefer; no no you shall marry a lord, that is what I want for my money, so next time you see young Woodcock just send him about his business, impudent young fellow!!"
"Uncle have some mercy" here burst from Sylvia's pale lips "I'll never marry any one else" and with a cry of "Leslie my Leslie" she fled from the room and flinging herself on her own bed gave way to bitter tears.
But finally taking heart of grace she siezed her blotting book and poured forth these heart rending words.
Owing to my merciless uncle I am forced to give you up as he thinks to marry a lord, but no never! my Leslie and although I may never see you again think of me always as I shall of you and believe me to be
Yours and yours alone SYLVIA.
It was past 2 o'clock before Leslie received Sylvia's wretched appeal.
It was brought to him in his room whilst dressing for an afternoon party. Leslie read it carefully through and then throwing it on the floor seezed his head in his hands and thought it over.
Presently he looked up with, a determined expression on his face "I must marry her" he cried, and then sitting down he picked up a sheet of writing paper and prepared to answer the note and this was what he said.
MY BEST LOVED
If you will agree to this plan I will marry you yet. Have all your wants packed up this evening by 6 o'clock and we will elope together dearest and when we are one, we will go to America and make our fortunes.
Ever dearest YOUR OWN LESLIE.
He then told one of the servants to take the above to Yellowflower Hall and give it into Miss Monton's hands, and wait for her answer.
The servant soon returned to say that the young lady would agree to the plan.
Leslie then began to collect his stockings and under garments and whilst rummaging in his wardrobe he heard something drop on the floor. He stooped to pick it up, it was a photograph of Isobel Saunders.
"Poor Isobel" murmured Leslie and wrapping the photo up he put it in his pocket. "I wonder what she will think of me when she knows."
At 5 o'clock the housemaid came to tell tea was ready.
"Oh bring me a cup of tea up here, "I am not feeling very well" said Leslie as she closed the door.
At 1/4 to 6 Leslie slipped out by the back door. He was attired in a long old fashioned ulster, a deer stalking cap, large golosha boots, and a hunting suit as he had gone to hunt for Sylvia. On his right arm he carried a bag containing clean under linen and other odds and ends also his money consisting of L40 in ready gold. He entered the garden of Yellowflower Hall and stole up unseen to Sylvia's room. He found her standing by the table buttoning her jacket with nervous trembling fingers.
"Oh Leslie!" she cried as he entered the room "I am so glad you have come" and saying this she fell back in a chair and fainted dead away.
Leslie caught hold of the water jug and wetting a sponge applied it to her white face, and by this and the aid of smelling saults, Sylvia soon revived.
"I am so nervous" she said "Oh Leslie shall we ever get away in safety?"
"Yes dearest yes" whispered the lover, "trust me darling and you will be alright."
"I am ready now" said Sylvia in a weak voice as she put a packet of biscuits into her bundle.
"I'll carry your luggage" said Leslie picking up her bundle which was tied in a white tablecloth.
Sylvia had been more particular than Leslie as to her luggage. Besides all her under-linen she had with her two pairs of clean sheets and pillow cases, some bath towels and soap, likewise a sponge and a yard of flannel (in case she lost any) a flask of brandy, some new potatoes and a tooth brush.
Sylvia's window opened into the lawn so it was easy to escape and once off the high road she and Leslie felt safe.
Leslie and Sylvia having tramped until midnight found themselves weary and footsore at London.
"I can't afford very good lodgings" said Leslie "my money must last until I get employment.
"Where shall we go then?" said Sylvia.
"To some common lodging house" said Leslie "you see you have clean sheets if they are needful—ah there is the lodging house."
So he and Sylvia approached a filthy house at the end of a narrow street, Leslie knocked at the door and after waiting 10 minutes a dirty old woman with a candle in her hand, opened the door.
"What is it you want? she said, "disturbing me this time of night!"
"We have come for a lodging" said our hero "how much would it be?"
"4d a night single" said the old woman "and 2d extra if you want a drop of water to wash with."
Leslie's heart sank within him at these words but he felt bound to accept saying "I hope the beds and the water are clean."
"Clean enough I'm sure" said the old woman "considering they have only been used a few times." so saying she led them up a rickety stair case into a shabby little room.
"The bed ain't made yet said Old Nan pointing to a heap of rags in the corner.
"Thank you" said Leslie and locking the door he turned to Sylvia who by this time was wandering hopelessly about the filthy garret.
"We'll make the bed anyhow" said Leslie "get out your sheets Sylvia."
She obeyed and Leslie kneeling on the floor began to sort out the rags. He found an old blanket which being a shade cleaner than the others he laid upon the floor covering it with a clean sheet; then stuffing his jacket inside the pillow case he made it into a pillow, he then laid another sheet over that and covered it with his and Sylvia's overcoats, he pronounced the bed made.
"How very dreadful!" gasped Sylvia "I can not sleep upon that bed."
"You must" said Leslie throwing open the window to air the room.
The next morning Leslie, who had sat by the open window all night began to collect the bed clothes and turning to Sylvia said "we will get out of this as soon as ever we can."
Then finding a drop of filthy water in a cracked basin he proceeded to wash his face and hands, though Sylvia said she would rather go dirty than use such water.
Just then Old Nan entred and looking round said "well now I hope you have had a pleasant night."
"Oh very" stammered poor Leslie.
"I think we are going now, if you will tell me what it comes to."
"Well let me see" said Old Nan
"2 beds and 2 washes—
"But I didn't wash" said Sylvia
"And I didn't go to bed" said Leslie
"Then it will be 6d growled Old Nan. and after paying their landlady Leslie and Sylvia fled for their lives.
"I Wonder where we can find a church to be married in" said Sylvia.
"We dont look as though we were going to be married" said Leslie "and I feel so soiled after sleeping in that lodging house."
"I should think you do" said Sylvia "I never felt so dirty in my life—why there is a church Leslie"
"Yes I know but I mean to buy you a white veil and a piece of lace" said Leslie "here is a shilling get what you can"
Sylvia hurried across the road and soon returned with a yard of book muslin for a veil and 1/2 a yard of furniture lace.
"That will do" said Leslie and they entered the church.
A middle aged man was busy lighting the church lamps and stared hopelessly as the couple entered.
"Please are you the clergyman?" asked Leslie.
"No" said the man "Mr. Roberts who is sorting surplices in the vestry is the parson."
"Can we speak to him" said Leslie quietly
"Yes sir" replied the man opening the vestry door.
"Oh are you the clergyman?" said Leslie to a tall dark man who was just folding up some clean linen.
"Yes I am" replied the said gentleman "can I do anything for you?"
"Well we wanted to be married" said Leslie bashfully "if this young lady may put her veil on in the vestry we could then wait in the church till you are at leisure."
"Yes I think I have time" said Mr. Roberts glancing at his watch "please sign your names in this book and I will ring the bell for the acolyte"
So saying he touched a spring bell and very soon a small fair-haired boy appeared in the door way.
"Take two lighted candles into the church Tommy" said Mr. Roberts "and place two kneeling chairs in the aisle."
Tommy obeyed and very soon Sylvia and Leslie were kneeling side by side in the church.
About 5 minutes afterwards our hero and heroine walked out husband and wife!!
"Let us have our wedding breakfast at the Gaiety restaurant" said Leslie and hailing a handsom the married couple stepped in.
"What would you like my dear" said Leslie sitting down at a ready laid table.
"I'd like rabbit pie and apple fritters and a cup of coffee please" said Sylvia throwing off her gloves and displaying her newly put on wedding ring.
"Very good my dear" said Leslie "and I will have a slice of roast pork and suet pudding and treacle and beer and soda mixed that is a mild B and S my dear"
Half way through his pork Leslie pulled out a letter from his pocket and after piercing at it for two or three minutes he read as follows.
Homer Villa, Margate.
I shall be very please to acomodate you for a fortnight. You can have a good sized bedroom, parlour and dining room for 3 guineas per week including everything else. I shall expect you tonight so
Believe me to be Yours very truly MARY MASON.
"This is good news my dear" said Leslie "if you have done your pie we will take the first train to Margate, hand me your bundle and we will start."
It was not a very long journey but Sylvia who was very tired was not sorry to hear the porters screaming "Margate station."
A pony cart from Homer Villa was waiting for them and Leslie and Sylvia were soon at their lodgings.
A fat good tempered looking woman showed them into a comfortable parlour where a lovely tea consisting of ham sandwiches, poached eggs, tea and bread and butter was waiting for them. And here we will leave them to enjoy it while we take the train back to Mayfield.
About 1/4 to 8 o'clock the dressing bell at Yellowflower Hall pealed forth its usual summons.
"I am glad dinner is so nearly ready" said untidy Mr. Earlsdown straightening his tie and running a comb through his hair "I'll go and have a quiet glass of claret while I am waiting—perhaps Sylvia will appear by then."
Mr. Earlsdown had just drained his glass when Johnson brought in some pea soup, bacon and green cabbage, merangues and chocolate pudding.
"Don't trouble about ringing the second bell Johnson" said Mr. Earlsdown "just call Miss Monton and I will begin."
So saying he began to serve out the bacon on a golden plate.
"Where is that child" said Mr. Earlsdown after having 3 serves of the bacon.
Just then Johnson entered with a very long face "If you please sir" he said "Miss Monton is nowhere in the house and her room Mary says is that untidy, you'd think a wild menagerie had been there."
"Bless my life" exclaimed Mr. Earlsdown throwing down his fork and tossing his table napkin to the butler.
Forthwith he rushed upstairs to his niece's room and the sight which met his eyes was enough to astonish even Mr. Earlsdown. A pile of linen stood in a corner of the room, hats, jackets and various articles of clothing were scattered in every direction and at last on the bed a letter adressed in Sylvia's hand to himself and this is what it said.
Please do not worry yourself about me. I am quite safe under the charge of Leslie Woodcock. We shall be in London to-night but from that day forth I dont know where we shall be. My name from now is
As Mr. Earlsdown read this coldly worded epistle he flashed his eyes and stamped heavily on the floor.
"Why bless the girl" he screamed "I'll have her back within an inch of her life" so saying he tore out of the bedroom and called for Johnson.
The butler came running upstairs to receive his orders.
Johnson take the first train to London and search everywhere for traces of Mr. and Mrs. Woodcock" and handing the butler 2/6 he sent him off by the 8.8 to London.
Meanwhile there was also great confusion at Astmer House. On the summons to dinner Leslie was found missing.
"Dear me" exclaimed Mrs. Woodcock jumping up and knocking over a soup tureen "Albert go and look for your cousin."
"Oh he is alright" answered Albert "there is no need to fuss."
"Yes there is you heartless boy, go and look for my son at once."
"Oh bother" said Albert flinging down his book.
"Dont snap" said Mrs. Woodcock as Albert dashed furiously out of the room.
He returned within 1/4 of an hour to say he could find no traces of Leslie except his tooth-brush in the back garden and a pocket handkerchief on the stairs.
"Oh I hope he is not lost" cried Mrs. Woodcock "my dear son, where can he be?"
"Oh but you have me" said Albert with a faint smile.
"What do I care for you?" said Mrs. Woodcock bitterly.
Albert immediately began shuffling about and took a drink of water to hide his blushes.
"As you are so very stupid" continued Mrs. Woodcock "perhaps you can manage to walk ** far as Yellowflower Hall and see if you find any traces of Leslie."
Albert pushed on his hat and stamped out and returned in 1/2 hour in a rather more excited mood than he went out.
"I say Aunt" he cried running into the dining room "would you believe it just by that railing near Yellowflower Hall I found Miss Monton's shoe and Leslie's watch key, I brought both back to show it is true."
Mrs. Woodcock uttered a terrified "Oh" and sank nearly unconscious on the sofa.
Johnson arrived in London at 25 minutes to ten. It was a dark foggy night and the air was cold. Johnson gave a shiver as he wrapped his ulster round him.
He wandered hopelessly about for an hour or two and oddly enough he took the very same lodgings as Sylvia and Leslie had spent their first night in London; being in that part of the city and too tired to look for better apartments.
Towards noon on the following day Johnson encountered a friend, Thomas Bench by name, and forgetting all about his errand he turned into a public house close by to enjoy a quiet drink with his friend.
"What are you up here for Jim?" said Thomas Bench.
"Well" said Johnson stirring up his hot whisky and water "its rather a serious matter, my master's niece has gone and run away with her young man and I am on the look out for her."
"Aye aye" answered Bench scratching his oily head "what sort of a young miss is she eh?"
"Well she's a pretty sort of girl with plenty of fair hair and blue eyes there is no mistaking she belongs to the upper ten my man"
"Oh indeed" replied Bench taking a piece of blue paper from his pocket "what is the young lady's name?"
"Miss Morton by your leave" roared the butler.
"Well" replied Bench "look here." Johnson snatched the bit of crumpled paper and read it through. On the paper was written
MISS SYLVIA MONTON. Homer Villa, Margate.
"Mercy" screamed Johnson "wherever did you find it?"
"Well" replied Thomas Bench "I was walking in Orange Alley where old Nan lives and outside the door I found this scrap of paper, what do you think it means old pal?"
"I should say" said Johnson biting his lips "it looks as though it meant that our young lady had taken up her abode there."
"So should I" said Bench with a broad grin and so saying the two men walked out arm in arm. Outside they parted and Johnson took the first train for Margate and whilst waiting at the station a telegram was brought to him by dirty old Nan.
Tearing it open he found it was from Mayfield saying Mr. Earlsdown was dying and he was wanted at once.
"Oh lor!" ejaculated the butler making a rush for the ticket office. Johnson did not arrive at Mayfield till 4.0 o'clock, then he instantly made his way to Mr. Earlsdown's bedroom.
All the servants in the household were standing round the bed and on it lay the unconscious figure of Mr. Earlsdown.
"What is it?" cried Johnson pushing his way through the crowd.
"Appoplexy" answered Susan the housemaid holding her apron to her streaming eyes "the poor dear master was so excited thinking about Miss Monton and then all of a sudden he received a note telling of the engagement of Mr. Albert Morris with Miss Saunders and then that sent him off because he always wanted Mr. Albert to marry Miss Monton, and when Mary went into the drawing room, there he was in a fit."
Just then the door opened and in walked Doctor Mason. The result of his visit will be seen later on.
It was a beautiful morning about 3 or 4 days after our hero and heroine's arrival at Margate. Leslie was just finishing his coffee and toast and Sylvia was sitting near the window glancing over the morning paper.
Suddenly her rosy face turned deadly pale and the paper nearly dropped from her trembling fingers.
"What is is dearest?" asked Leslie placing his arm around her waist and kissing her pallid forehead "has anything in the paper shaken your nerves?"
"Oh Leslie Leslie" shrieked Sylvia falling into his arms "read this and be satisfied that my nerves are shaken."
Leslie siezed the paper and read as follows:
"Mayfield Sussex. Last Tuesday Mr. Richard George Earlsdown of Yellowflower Hall was siezed with appoplexy. On that same day he had prevented his neice from marrying a certain gentleman of the neighbourhood and she has run away with her intended, viz Mr. Leslie Alexander Woodcock.
Mr. Earlsdown is now repenting that his consent was not given to his heartless niece and that if she comes back before he dies, married or unmarried, she will receive his love and forgiveness for ever; he is now in a dying state and we fear that unless his niece soon returns he will decidedly expire."
"Shall you go home" asked Leslie quietly.
"Yes yes" exclaimed Sylvia "Oh Leslie help me to pack, I feel too weak."
The trunks were soon packed and the heart broken couple were on their way to Mayfield. Arriving at the Hall Sylvia flew up to her uncle's room and throwing herself on the floor shook the room with ear piercing sobs.
"Who is crying?" presently asked Mr. Earlsdown.
"It is me uncle—your repentant niece."
Mr. Earlsdown gave a contented smile and turned away his head. Presently he turned round and his eyes fell upon Sylvia's white hand on the counterpane.
"Mrs. Woodcock I see" he said with a smile looking at the golden wedding ring on Sylvia's third finger.
"Yes Uncle" said Sylvia in a low tone "But you wont leave me till I am better will you child" said her uncle.
"Never uncle" said Sylvia "never to your dying day."
HOW IT ENDED
Seven years have elapsed since the events told in our last chapter and our scene once more changes to the ball room at Asmer House. Leslie and Sylvia no longer newly married people are sitting by the piano and opposite to them on the sofa are Isobel Saunders and Albert Woodcock. Presently Albert advances to the piano and asks Sylvia to sing a song.
"Yes if I can get anyone to play my accompaniment" says Sylvia.
"I only wish I could play" said Albert rubbing his face and looking with sad eyes at Mrs. Woodcock. Immediately Isobel seated herself at the piano and ran her fairy like fingers over the notes while Sylvia's melodious voice kept time to the music; and as the beautiful words of "See the conquering hero comes" rang out like a peal of thunder, Mr. Earlsdown come bounding in.
Here the band struck up God save the Queen and everybody stood up in respectful silence; and as the last notes of the German band died away Mrs. Woodcock took leave of her friends as we will do of the characters of this book.
WHERE LOVE LIES DEEPEST
The silvery moon rises slowly above the mountains of white clouds and sheds its quiet light upon one of the most beautiful scenes of the sheltered nooks in the picturesque county of Devonshire. The tall green hills, so thickly covered with wild thyme rise clear and high against the blue sky above. The rippling waters of a little streamlet glide softly upon its way through lovely banks of sweet green moss. Presently a white cloud envelopes the pale moon and all is darkness!
Only for a moment, the cloud passes away and the bright light pours down upon two figures. The one the tall slim figure of a young girl, the other the broad well built figure of a richly dressed man. He wore a beautifully made blue serge suit and a white tie fastened with a gold and diamond pin. His felt hat fitted as though it had been made for him and his light overcoat and kid gloves were like the rest of his toilet well made and of a rich material. His black hair grew thickly on his head and his brown eyes glared fiercely, his brown skin was red with rage and his white teeth were clenched.
The girl on the contrary was poorly dressed and did not seem at home in the presence of the rich man. She wore a pale grey dress trimmed with green velvet. It had seen its best days for it was worn in many places. She wore a straw hat and a white scarf round her neck. She was a lovely girl!! Her plentiful golden hair was coiled into a knob behind and cut in a small fringe in front. Her large blue eyes spoke of many mysteries and were fringed by golden lashes. Her cherry coloured lips were small and pressed together in her nervous state. Her white teeth were clenched and she trembled under the viscious glare of her companion.
"I tell you Beatrice you are out of your senses, you must be, there is no doubt of it, how can you refuse such an offer?" said the man fiercely.
"Oh Lawrence do listen to me," said the unhappy girl, "it is impossible, it cannot be. You are very kind, and I always had and always shall have a very great respect for you, but I cannot marry you, indeed I cannot! we are no match, I am poor and you are rich. Besides I have a reason for not accepting you for my husband. Oh Lawrence you make me so unhappy!" and here the poor girl stopped short, gave a hurried look round and pressed her hand to her heart.
"Beatrice Langton you are a lunatic" cried the man, "give me an answer straight out—yes or no. Will you be my wife? Speak out and dont go jibbering on in that sentimental fashion; say yes and you will live in luxury and riches for the rest of your life, say no and you go home poor and degraded. Now give me an answer Yes or No!"
The girl raised her head and spoke thus—"Lawrence I am very sorry to say it but my answer is No! Goodbye Mr. Cathcart, goodbye Lawrence, perhaps we shall never meet again. What? you will not even shake hands! Very well, goodnight Lawrence, goodnight."
She turned and went away leaving him in the darkness.
BEATRICE LANGTON'S HOME
When Beatrice went away she made straight for her home for it was close on nine and her mother would be anxious. Her heart was heavy and her eyelids were wet with fast falling tears as she made her way accross the desolate moor. Presently she came to the stream and after crossing the bridge she made for the common. On the outskirts of the village stood her home. A little brown cottage with carefully trimmed roses and jasmine creeping up the porch and a neat little garden in front. She opened the gate, walked up the path and opened the door.
What a pleasant scene was there before her! A bright fire was burning in the well kept hearth and an old lady sat beside it knitting stockings for the coming winter. Many pictures adorned the walls. A gentleman was writing at a table in the window. Three little girls all in red frocks and white pinnafores were employed in different ways. The eldest was some ten years old with curly hair and blue eyes and was busy with some corn-flowers and poppies in a glass vase. The other two who looked about eight and six had brown eyes and very fair hair (and) were looking at a book at the middle table. They all jumped up as Beatrice entered.
"Why Beatrice dear how late you are!" said Mrs. Langton "I sent your supper down. "Mary, ring the bell, Beatrice must be hungry."
"No I am not," answered Beatrice smiling wearily and seating herself in the chair her sister had placed for her, "I am only very tired and would like to go to bed."
"Oh you must have something," said Mr. Langton, "Cook made some lovely cheese cakes for supper, and you shall have some wine to drink."
Just then the maid entered, and in spite of herself Beatrice was soon enjoying a hearty meal.
"Oh there is half past nine!" cried Mrs. Langton, "Lily and Tina go to bed at once, Mary can wait up for Beatrice if she likes."
The two little children ran off hand in hand murmering "lucky Mary."
It was eight o'clock next morning when Beatrice opened her weary eyes and look round her little room. She jumped up immediately and ran down to breakfast.
Her father had just gone off to his farming, but her mother was sitting in her accustomed place by the fireside reading a letter which was evidently causing her some anxiety.
"Well Mother" cried Beatrice, "what is the matter?"
"Well dear" replied Mrs. Langton, sipping her tea as she spoke, "I have had a letter from Mrs. Vindsor who went abroad last year, and she wants you to go and spend the winter with her in Paris. I would like you to go dear, but you are my eldest child and you are by no means strong."
"Oh Mother do let me go, I should enjoy it, and you know I am much stronger since I took to eating Mother Segul's Syrup."
"I know my love" said Mrs. Langton, "I will speak to your father about it, and in the meantime pour me out another cup of tea please."
Beatrice caught hold of the teapot smiling happily as she did so; her father was not the man to say no, and what he said her mother seldom differed from; so she cut her bread and carved her bacon singing a merry song through it all. After breakfast Beatrice dusted the room, got the children ready for school, and then adjusting a straw hat upon her golden tresses she prepared herself for a saunter through the beautiful fields fresh with the smell of new mown hay and Alderny cows. She gathered flowers as she went and though she felt bright and happy by the news the post had brought there was a sore corner in her heart—she had quarrelled with Lawrence Cathcart, and there was not a man in Senbury Glen who did not know his temper! As she strolled along she caught sight of Mr. Langton who was discussing the subject of Welsh sheep with a tradesman. He saw Beatrice and walked towards her.
"Well Bia," he cried, "looking at my cows? aren't they lovely?"
"Beautiful Father," cried Beatrice, "but do you know Mrs. Vindsor wants me to go to Paris and spend the winter with her family, and may I go?"
"Yes certainly," said Mr. Langton, "and I suppose that means you would like a pound or two to buy dresses and hats?"
Beatrice bit her lip and smiled, "I suppose so father," she said gazing placidly at her worn elbows.
"Very well," said her father, "I will give you L10, I should advice a blue serge dress and a yellow hat."
"Oh no father!" shrieked Beatrice, "I will get a green dress and a hat trimmed with roses."
"Very well," said Mr Langton kicking the hay with his feet "do as you please my dear, by the bye when are you expected in Paris?"
"Tomorrow week father," said Beatrice, "at least so Mother says."
Mr Langton whistled and then turning to his daughter he said, "I tell you what Bia, you had better call at the dressmaker on your way home, I hate a bustle at the last moment." so saying Mr Langton gave his daughter L10 in ready gold! Beatrice took them home and put them in her purse till the afternoon when she paid a long visit to the dressmaker. She invested in a lovely green silk dress trimmed with a delicate shade of rose pink, and the dainty little hat was of the same picturesque colours. She likewise bought a costly diamond brooch and two silver bangles to make up the L10.
On coming out of the shop she turned on to the moors for a last walk before going to Paris, for there would be plenty to do at home such as darning stockings, mending clothes, etc: She called for Nelly Reeves (a friend of hers); it would be a good chance to outdo her thought Beatrice, for Nelly had been to Italy the year before and did nothing but boast of it all day. So the two girls arm in arm started for the moors. Nelly Reeves was a tall good looking girl, slightly pretty, but with none of the wistful beauty about her that was so clearly stamped on all Beatrice Langton's features. She had black hair and what she considered beautiful eyes, though they really were small and vacant in their perpetual stare.
"Well I hope you will enjoy yourself" she remarked briskly when Beatrice told her of the invitation to Paris.
"I am sure I shall," said Beatrice, gently feeling her hair behind, "only think of the delights of it! The Vindsors live in a Chateau you know!"
"Yes, I suppose it will be jolly for you," said Nelly "who are the Vindsors?"
"Oh dont you remember Clara Vindsor?" said Beatrice, "she was so very pretty and polite in her ways."
"I recollect her," said Nelly gazing on the far away blue hills, "oh Beatrice how lovely that view is!"
"Yes," said Beatrice sadly, "I came up here last night for a walk."
"Alone?" asked Nelly.
Beatrice wished she had not spoken then, but being frank and straightforward she replied "no I was not alone."
"Who with?" enquired Nelly.
"Never mind," retorted Beatrice.
"Oh Beatrice do tell me" coaxed Nelly, I'll not tell a soul."
"I dont care if you do," said Beatrice coldly.
"Well let me see if I can guess" said Nelly artfully "was it Mr Cathcart?"
"What makes you guess him?" asked Beatrice angrily.
"Why because he has been paying attentions to you lately, and I thought he might have come up here to propose" said Nelly.
"You have most silly ideas!" retorted Beatrice, "if you dont leave off please to go home, what if he did propose?"
"Oh nothing at all," replied Nelly, "if you are so disagreeable I will go home," so saying Miss Reeves tucked up her dress and walked home.
"Life is hard!" sighed Beatrice, "nothing seems to go right, first I quarrel with Lawrence and then with Nelly—why what is that?" she cried as she caught sight of something gold glittering in the pathway.
She stooped to pick it up; it was a gentleman's gold link, beautifully carved and engraved with the initials L. C.
"L. C." repeated Beatrice handling the link pensively "why they are his initials, can it be his I wonder? why yes" she continued, "here is the name Lawrence Cathcart; His Links! yes they are his, I will keep them and I may some day have occasion to return them to him," so saying she put the articles in her leather purse and turned towards home.
In some unaccountable way Beatrice turned into the High Street and had to pass Lawrence Cathcart's house, a splendid white stone building standing apart from the other houses in a beautiful garden of well tended blooms.
"What riches!" sighed Beatrice pausing at the iron gates, and as her blue eyes searched the lovely grounds her glance fell upon Lawrence Cathcart. He was standing under a tree with an open book in his hands. He wore a light fawn suit and his black curly hair was exposed to the Autumn sun; and as Beatrice gazed on this good looking young man she wondered why she had not noticed before how exquisitely curly his hair and moustache was, how fine his nose and eyes, and how beautifully his mouth was curved.
But she did not talk to him or try to attract his attention, and sad and disheartened she walked home.
Tea was ready when Beatrice returned home and she drew in her chair and clustered round the table.
"Well, what is your dress like?" asked Mrs Langton as she passed the butter to her husband.
"Oh it is lovely Mother" answered Beatrice, "and oh Father" she continued, "I bought some jewellry too!"
"Jewellry" cried Mr. Langton stirring his tea very hard, "with my money?"
"Well yes father," sighed Beatrice, "I hope you are not angry?"
"What did you buy" enquired Mr Langton.
"Two bracelets and a brooch" said Beatrice sadly.
Mr. Langton coughed and helped himself to some strawberry jam.
"I have been very busy putting some embroidery on your white petticoat all the afternoon," said Mrs Langton trying to change the subject, "you know I had a telegram to say you are expected on Thursday instead of next week."
"Oh Mother" said Beatrice, "I must begin to pack at once!" so saying she flew up to her bedroom, and ten minutes later the floor was littered with as many articles of clothing as you could wish to see, and when Mrs Langton came up after tea she found her daughter seated on the bed amid stockings of every shade, curling some crimson feathers.
"My dear Beatrice!" cried that good lady in astonishment, "what are you doing?"
"Well I was trying to pack mother" answered Beatrice calmly.
"I see" said Mrs Langton folding up a blue skirt as she spoke, "if you will allow me to help you I think you will manage better."
"Very well," replied Beatrice, "there are the trunks."
"Yes I see them" said Mrs Langton, "I think your new dress and hat had better go in the basket trunk dont you?"
"Perhaps so" said Beatrice gathering the stockings off the bed, "Oh mother, to think that the day after tomorrow I shall be going to Paris!"
"Yes indeed dear" replied Mrs Langton glancing round the littered room, "you have plenty of work to do, just darn these stockings will you, while I collect your hats."
Beatrice threaded her needle and once she was seated in the big arm-chair, her busy tongue began to go.
"What time do you suppose I shall arrive at Paris mother?" was the first question.
"Let me see, the boat starts from Newhaven at 11 in the morning," said Mrs Langton slowly, "I think you get to Paris about ten in the evening though I wont be sure."
"How nice!" said Beatrice, "is the Vindsor's house very grand?"
"I believe so" replied her mother "at least they keep fifty servants and nearly everything is either gold or silver!"
"Gracious!" exclaimed Beatrice.
"Yes," said Mrs Langton, "now Beatrice bring that darning downstairs, we must finish packing tomorrow, I will mend that skirt for you," and so saying Mrs Langton left the room.
At last the eventful day came and found Beatrice up at six o'clock, putting the last articles in her hand bag. By eight o'clock she was at the station taking the last farewells.
The little ones crowded round her, giving her chocolate and various sweets to eat on the way. Mrs Langton sobbed copiously, and Mr Langton as he kissed his daughter pressed a sovereign into her hand. But at last the guard waved his flag, the porters slammed the doors, and Beatrice found herself spinning away through fields of every shade, fast leaving Senbury Glen behind and approaching Newhaven Harbour. Beatrice gave a little sigh half of joy and half of fear, and then subsided into her novel and refreshments till the train stopped and she found herself in the aforesaid harbour. There were a great many passengers going by the Dieppe boat, and Beatrice had some difficulty to declare her luggage and smuggle the packet of coffee her thoughtful mother had put in the sponge bag. But at last she got on the boat and once she was seated in her deck chair gazing on the rough sea, she could not help shedding a few tears as she thought of the little brown cottage standing alone on the outskirts of Senbury Glen. But she soon cheered up and asked the stewardess to show her to her cabin. The woman obeyed and walked along the deck till she came to a battered looking door, which she opened saying—"Here is your cabin miss, your berth is number 10 and you will find some water to wash in."
Beatrice thanked her and entered the room. A woman five children and a nurse were seated round the room. The nurse had two small babies on her knee which she was trying to hush to sleep in vain. The mother was attempting to comb the hair of a very frantic little boy and scolding two girls who would insist on unfastening all the trunks and scattering the contents on the floor. Beatrice took no notice of the noisy party, but went to her corner of the cabin and did her hair and washed her face in some hard salt water. The stewardess then brought her some tea and a bit of cake and Beatrice took the opportunity to ask her if she was to share the same cabin as the children and their elders.
"Well," whispered the stewardess, "I'm sorry to say you must, but I expect they will go on deck soon and then you will be alright miss."
Beatrice smiled and tried to read her book amidst the deafening roars of the babies. But in a little while the nurse marched them all up on deck, and the mother soon followed with one fat baby and a basket of refreshments in her arms. Then there was peace and Beatrice quite enjoyed her little dinner of ham sandwiches and a cold custard. But about 2 o'clock she began to feel drowsy and enjoyed a pleasant sleep, and at the end of half an hour was surprised to find she was in Dieppe.
She gathered her luggage together and a good natured sailor helped her off the steamer. She again declared her luggage and went to the station where she awaited the arrival of the train to Paris. At last it came up, and Beatrice found a comfortable carriage well padded with cushions and rugs, and a fat sulky looking girl in one corner who was busily engaged sucking lemons and studying Bradshaw.
It was close on ten when the train stopped at Paris, and Beatrice and the fat girl alighted to the platform.
"Do you reside here?" asked the girl in broken English.
"I am here on a visit," replied Beatrice.
"I see; is it not cold mademoiselle?" said this friendly girl.
"Very," answered Beatrice buttoning the collar of her coat.
"Yes very," continued the girl, "ah Mademoiselle you have no wraps; take my shawl," and without another word the girl pulled off her shawl and flung it round the shoulders of the astonished Beatrice, and then disappeared into the refreshment room from which she did not reappear again in a hurry. Beatrice was too astonished to speak and hardly liked the coarse woollen shawl which had been so hospitably flung on to her shoulders.
Just as she had with some difficulty found her luggage a very grand footman dressed in green plush came up, and touching his hat said "Pour le Chateau?"
Beatrice said "Oui" in a very vague manner, and soon found herself rumbling along the streets of Paris in a very comfortable carriage with her luggage piled round her in a kind of pyramid and the friendly girl's shawl still clinging to her shoulders.
Soon the vehicle reduced speed and all at once Beatrice found herself at the great entrance porch of "Le Chateau!"
The footman rang the bell and then went away leaving Beatrice in a transport of fear and joy on the steps. Soon the door was opened by a very fat butler with powdered hair and a green plush uniform.
"What can I do for you?" he asked with the air of a king.
"Oh please I have come to stay" said Beatrice nervously.
"Step inside," said the courtly butler.
Beatrice did as she was bid and found herself in a most magnificent hall hung with rich velvet curtains and paved with Turkish carpets, and supported by gold and silver pillars.
"What name?" enquired the butler.
"Miss Langton," said Beatrice.
The butler then lead her along costly corridoors and majestic looking passages and at last stopped at a door which he flung open and called in a powerful voice "Miss Langton!"
A murmur arose at this announcement and in less than a minute Beatrice was in Mrs. Vindsor's arms being hugged to death almost. "My dear Beatrice!" she gasped when her kisses were exhausted "how pleased I am to see you! the steak has just gone down to be kept hot, come and see Clara."
These comforting words soothed Beatrice, and then Clara came forward to greet her friend.
Clara was a slight thin girl about 19 with very fair hair and blue eyes, she wore a blue satin dress trimmed with real Brussels lace in keeping with Le Chateau, and a spray of blue flowers in her hair.
"My sisters will be down in one minute" she said kindly "their maids are doing their hairs."
"Oh I see," said Beatrice rapidly taking off her gloves and displaying with some pride her white smooth hands.
"I suppose you are very tired," said Mrs. Vindsor giving the fire a poke with the toe of her shoe.
"Yes I am," said Beatrice "it was very rough crossing."
Just then the door opened and two girls entered about 22 and 24 in age. The eldest was by no means beautiful but she was intensely good. She had small black eyes and black hair which she wore in a most peculiar manner, it was cut in a fringe in front and gathered into a huge knob behind all except one piece which hung down her back and on the end of which a single red rose was attached. She was attired in yellow silk and was by no means courteous to Beatrice, her name was Honoria.
The other girl was the most beautiful of the three. She had lovely brown hair and soft blue eyes fringed by sweet long lashes. Her nose and mouth were enough to attract an artist towards her; she was dressed in a lovely pink silk dress and her knob was arrayed by a pink feather. Her name was Margaret and she was known through all Paris as the "sweet young lady with the pathetic blue eyes!" and on the 20th of August (her birthday) not a single person omitted to give her a present. Beatrice thought her lovely and kissed her on both cheeks with hearty good cheer.
And so ended Beatrice's first night at Le Chateau.
The next morning Beatrice had a slight headache and did not rise till the breakfast gong sounded through the walls of the great castle.
Just as she was ready her bedroom was opened and Margaret appeared.
"Oh Beatrice," she cried, "isn't it a lovely morning? Mama has just had a note asking us all to Mrs. Middle's garden party this afternoon, there will be a lot of English people there just arrived like yourself."
"Yes very nice," said Beatrice and the two went down to breakfast together.
Mrs. Vindsor and Honoria were already seated at the table enjoying the fragrant meal, but Clara had not yet come down.
"How late you are Margaret" protested Mrs. Vindsor.
"I am sorry Mother" said Margaret cracking her egg.
"So I should hope" said Honoria shaking her head so that the rose at the end of her tail swayed to and fro also.
After the meal was over Clara proposed to take Beatrice for a walk in the gay town as Margaret was going to trim a hat for Mrs. Middle's garden party, and Honoria always did the housekeeping.
Beatrice was delighted at the offer and soon joined Clara in the spacious hall.
"We must go this way" said Clara "as I have to go the Bank for Mother."
"Oh alright" said Beatrice taking Clara's arm.
Then followed a little conversation about nothing in particular, and by the time they reached the Bank Beatrice had quite decided that though Clara was very pleasant and cheery she was not as nice as Margaret who was kindness itself to the strange English girl.
"Would you like to walk up and down while I go into the Bank?" asked Clara.
"Yes please," said Beatrice who by no means appreciated Banks, and so saying she left Clara in the office and walked along the gay street. She seemed very strange as she walked through the strange streets and was so taken with the fancy shops that she forgot all about Clara in the bank.
"Dear me! what lovely gloves" she said as she stopped outside a large drapers shop "we dont have such things in England!"
Just then somebody passed behind her and in so doing brushed against her dress. Beatrice at once looked round and there walking quietly in front as though nothing had happened was a man!
Beatrice looked in amazement at the gentleman calmly receding up the road, and as she looked the form seemed to grow familiar in front of her eyes. Surely she had seen that navy blue suit before, that brown hat and those boots! Yes! the very walk was familiar to her. She knew that black curly hair and that well formed back again!—it was Lawrence Cathcart!
Beatrice gave a low cry and covered her face with her hands.
The man looked round and his eyes fell upon the figure of the unhappy Beatrice. He evidently recognized her for with a little hesitation he advanced towards her and taking her arm said not unkindly—"Come with me."
"I can't" groaned Beatrice.
"You must," said Lawrence.
Beatrice could do no more but slowly and sadly she followed her enemy.
Many thoughts flashed through her mind during that walk, thoughts that Beatrice will never forget.
At last Lawrence stopped at an Inn door and he mounted the steps and walked in. Beatrice followed in silence.
Presently Lawrence opened a door and the two went into a small but pretty bedroom.
"Now," said Lawrence, turning the key in the door and looking kindly at Beatrice, "have you changed your mind since we last met?"