AND OTHER STORIES.
WELLS GARDNER, DARTON, & Co.,
MY GRANDMOTHER'S DOLLAR.
"All true work is sacred; in all true work, were it but true hand-
labour, there is something of divineness."-CARLYI.E.
MONGST the many rare and curious things which
came into my possession at the death of my
grandmother, there was none that I prized more
than the quaint ebony casket containing what we
had always heard called the family dollar. It was not by any
means so intrinsically valuable as many other of her relics,
being merely a heavy Spanish piece of silver, bearing the date
of 1760 ; and though the casket in which it reposed was
elaborately carved, and bore round it in a double circle the
words, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy
might," yet it was not the carving, nor the age of the coin,
which rendered it so precious in my eyes. It was its history,
which I had heard over and over again from my grandmother's
lips; and I knew that clumsy-looking coin to be the founda-
tion of our family's greatness-that, at least, and the text, for
the two were ever linked together.
My children and grandchildren have shared my veneration
for this heir-loom, and at their request I have consented to
write its simple history; but those readers who would desire
the "blood and thunder" recitals which are the fashions of
this nineteenth century, or who read, as I once heard a young
man declare was his habit-namely, to skip till he came to
2 My Grandmother's Dollar.
the murders "-are fairly warned at the outset that they will
have to skip the entire tale, as it is merely a plain record of
an honest determination to "do the right."
IT is now more than a hundred years since Mrs. Cocker, the
bride of an English officer in Gibraltar, stood at her window,
gazing intently at some object in the sunny street.
It was a lad, strong and well-made, but apparently so list-
less and idle as to be content to pass the greater part of his
days lounging, or rather basking, in the sun. He was as much
a curiosity to little Mrs. Cocker as the monkeys, or the orange
trees, or any other of the novelties of that southern city. She
had left a brother of about his age behind her in the dear old
country-a lad so spirited, so energetic, so literally unable to
be quiet for ten minutes together, that this Spanish lad seemed
to her a being of a totally different species. Day after day
she noticed this boy nearly always in the same attitude: even
the cold winds did not drive him from his resting-place; he
merely on those occasions wrapped his sheep-skin cloak round
him, and slept calmly on.
Mrs. Cocker had frequently held conversations with Dolores,
her Spanish servant, about the lad, and learnt that he was an
orphan, who gained what few pence he required by going
messages, or holding an officer's horse, but that he did not
seek for work. He's got an idea in his head that work is
beneath him. He comes of a noble family, you see," ex-
plained the maid, evidently thinking that would account for
his idleness; "but there's no money left, and the lad is the
last of the race-so they tell me. He's a nice lad enough.
It's a pity he's too noble to work." Mrs. Cocker's ideas of
nobility differed from that of her maid. She knew any honest
My Grandmother's Dollar. 3
work to be more noble than idleness, and she felt a great
desire to drive such mistaken notions from the boy's mind,
but she hardly knew how to begin.
"Just look at that lad!" she remarked one day to her
husband; "I ,can't help watching him: he is so fearfully
lazy and apathetic. He has slept there for hours, and Dolores
tells me that if any of our servants want him to go an errand
for them, he considers it almost a nuisance to be disturbed,
though surely he must be glad of the money."
"Ah remarked the Captain, as he divested himself of
his tunic, and slipped on a cool linen jacket, "this climate is
enervating, my dear Eva. I expect even you will soon lose
some of your superabundant energy. I would not be too hard
on a poor fellow if he does indulge in a somewhat prolonged
"Do you call it a siesta, Arthur, to pass all your days
asleep on a doorstep ?"
But the gallant Captain had taken up a newspaper, and
deemed it more dignified not to hear this retort of his wife's.
Young Mrs. Cocker cast a look at her husband, who was
now drowsily nodding over his paper, (by the way, there was
some excuse for him, as he had been up since 4 a.m.), and said
mischievously, as she left the room : I think, Arthur., it is a
case of a kindred feeling making you so wondrous kind 'to
that lazy lad."
"Just so, my love," murmured the Captain, opening his
eyes again for a minute. "Quite so." And he let fall the
paper, and was soon unmistakably asleep.
But Mrs. Cocker was a determined little woman, and not
easily daunted when she had made up her mind to anything,
and just now she had quite resolved to stir up the young
It's all very well for Arthur to say the climate is ener-
My Grandmother's Dollar.
eating, and to pretend that the lad can't help being lazy.
Arthur is energetic enough about his profession; when it is a
case of drills, and parades, and inspections, and so forth, he
can exert himself as much as if he were at the North Pole;
and it's a shame to see a lad waste his days in that manner."
As she spoke she reached from off a shelf her Spanish diction-
ary and conversation-book, for her knowledge of the language
was very limited as yet, and endeavoured to find some phrases
which would answer her purpose. The book was, however,
soon thrown impatiently aside; there was nothing there in the
least suitable; there were conversations with a hatter, a linen-
draper, a bootmaker, a laundress, a doctor and a valet; but
the lad could be classed under none of these heads. Neither
did she wish to converse with him about the weather" or
"the time of day," though the latter chapter did seem the
most hopeful, and she committed to memory a phrase about it
being "almost mid-day." But that was but a little of what
she had to say. Why don't they give a sensible chapter in
these books ? she remarked, at last, "I want to say, Rouse
up, don't waste your time! God worked, and God said man
was to work also.' Ah! I have it now," she suddenly
exclaimed, and taking her Spanish Bible, which with her
English one lay on the table by her bedside, she rapidly turned
over the leaves till she came to Ecclesiastes. This will do
better than any phrase-book," she said, as she found the
desired text; "I will copy it out for him, I can't quite trust
my Spanish yet." And she wrote in a clear bold hand,
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
" Now let me see if I can rouse him to the responsibilities
She tied on her bonnet and wrapped her black lace shawl
round her, thinking all the while what occupation she could
suggest to the young fellow, supposing he should be willing to
My Grandmother's Dollar. 5
seek work. He might hawk oranges in the streets; there
are always plenty of-soldiers and sailors roving about with
more money in their pockets than they know how to spend;
he might, I am sure, earn a good deal in that way."
She was outside the house now, but the boy had gone-not
far, however. The mid-day sun was too hot even for him, so
he had retreated into the shadow, and lay on the steps of
Mrs. Cooker's own house, and was now calmly contemplating
her with half-open eyes. He had made himself extremely
comfortable, with his back against the fluted pillars of the
stone gateway, and though he slowly drew in his feet out of
Mrs. Cocker's way as she briskly descended the shallow steps,
he evidently had no intention of further rousing himself.
This was perplexing, certainly; but Mrs. Cocker, feeling hot
and shy, but determined as ever, stood in front of the lad and
said distinctly, "I want to speak to you."
The boy sat up slowly and deliberately, and answered
"How old are you? "-this was one of the phrase-book
Sixteen, my lady," answered the lad, in his soft, mellow
You are too old to sleep all day," said Mrs. Cocker. "See,
I have a message to you from the great God; and she slowly
read the text she had copied out for him.
The lad listened intently-the Spanish are very simple-
and he believed in a plain, literal sense, that the great God
had sent this lady to him specially, with this very message.
(And was he not right ?) That means that you must
work hard, not be idle any longer," said the lady, as she
finished. "God worked, and you must; do you under-
"Yes." The lad nodded his head.
My Grandmother's Dollar.
"What can you do ?" He did not answer immediately
to this, and Mrs. Cocker continued. "See, here is a dollar
for you. I will give it you to trade with. You might buy
oranges, and sell them again for a little more money to the
English strangers. Will you try to do this ?" Mrs. Cocker's
Spanish had now come completely to an end. She put the
money and the paper, on which the text was written, into the
boy's hand, and turned to re-enter the house.
Lady !" The lad was sitting bolt upright, and calling to
her. "Lady, I will find work; for since you say God worked,
it can be no shame for me; but I need not take the silver,"
and he held out the dollar in his hand, whilst a red blush
mounted to his brown face.
Keep the dollar, my friend," said Mrs. Cocker pleasantly;
"it is for you."
"My friend! repeated the lad slowly; then, with southern
grace, he rose, and, gently kissing the tips of the lady's fingers,
he said, "As a friend, Jose accepts the dollar from his unknown
friend;" and then he walked slowly away.
Mrs. Cocker returned to the house, and, somewhat to her
dismay, found that her husband had been watching her
through the closed Venetians, and had a provoking smile on
his face as she re-entered the room.
"So you have hunted that poor lad away, have you, Eva ?
I knew my turn would come next, so I roused myself, to save
you the trouble of doing so."
A very good thing you did," said his wife, with a loving
smile to soften her words: then, more seriously, "Really,
Arthur, I felt I must do something for the lad; it was a pity
to see a strong healthy boy so listless."
What did you do ? asked the Captain carelessly.
"I gave him a dollar to invest in oranges, to sell to your
My Grandmother's Dollar.
"Probably by this time he has gambled it away on the
quay," interrupted the Captain perversely.
But Mrs. Cocker, who kept the fact of the text to herself,
answered quietly, "I don't think so, Arthur; but time will
show. I believe in the boy."
JOSE meanwhile was walking-slowly, it is true, but more
quickly than was his usual custom-toward the port. His
face was set seriously, for had he not just received a message
from Heaven. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do," he
repeated, "and the lady said that meant I must work hard."
It was quite a new idea to the lad, and he was still pondering
thereupon, when he heard footsteps behind him. He turned.
A foreigner, of course-all true Spaniards would be safe within
doors, taking their noontide sleep. It was a weather-beaten
sailor, the Captain of a small trading vessel, who was walking
slowly along under the heavy burden of a crippled child and
a birdcage. Here, lad!" he called, relieved to see some one
in the deserted street, "carry me this cage down to the 'Saucy
Betsy' yonder. I'll make it worth your while."
The lad took the cage, whilst the little girl said, anxiously,
"You'll be good to my birds, and not frighten them, won't
you, boy ? and she kept a rigid look-out on him, until they
were safely deposited in the little cabin of the Saucy Betsy."
There he was not content with hanging the cage on the nail,
which he knocked into one of the beams, but filled their
water-bottle, and volunteered to fresh sand the cage, in a way
that quite won the heart of the helpless child. The Captain,
too, was taken with the boy's gentle ways. Shall I ask him
8 My Grandmother's Dollar.
to stop a bit with you, Jeanie?" he whispered, bending
lovingly over the child. "I must go on deck and see to
things, and perhaps he could fetch and carry a bit for you,
whilst I am gone."
Yes," said Jeanie decidedly, "tell him to stop; my birds
are not nearly settled yet; they'll want some lettuce and
groundsel, for it's a long way to England, and we shan't find
fresh vegetables on the sea, shall we, father ?"
So little Jeanie and her pets were left in Jose's care, and
the little maid thoroughly enjoyed issuing her orders to her
obedient brown-faced slave, who, for his part, was quite
captivated by her childish beauty and her great helplessness;
so that when the burly Captain was able at the end of a couple
of hours to descend to the cabin, he found the child rap-
turously happy, listening to the account of a little monkey,
which Jose had once tamed and taught numerous tricks.
"Thanks, lad!" said the Captain, heartily; "and here's
the money I promised you. You must sheer off now, though.
We are about to weigh anchor."
Oh, father cried Jeanie, in a disappointed voice, "he's
just in the middle of such a beautiful story. What must
He'd better come with us, and finish it on the open sea,"
said the Captain jokingly : but little Jeanie caught at the
idea, and said eagerly, Oh, yes! may he ? that's just what
I should like. Will you come with us, Jose ?" she con-
tinued, turning quietly to him, to London; you know you
would like to go to London ? she ended, with an imploring
tone in her weak little voice.
I am going to work," said Jos4, slowly.
"Oh, make him come, father," said Jeanie, impatiently;
"he says he must work. We can find work for him, can't
My Grandmother's Dollar. 9
The Captain stood a minute irresolute. Jeanie's wishes
were apt to be law; but he was hardly prepared to take an
unknown lad, at a moment's notice, a long sea voyage.
"I know nothing of him," he repeated; "he looks a good
lad, but- "
"He is a good lad," said Jeanie, stoutly (they were talking
English now, of which the young Spaniard understood
nothing). "He's had a message from Heaven only this very
morning; it's written on a piece of paper-a text, father;
a real Bible text; and he says it means he must work hard.
Show father that paper," she continued rapidly, changing to
Spanish again, and the lad obediently drew the envelope from
his breast, and handed it to the Captain.
He, poor man, felt rather more bewildered than before; he
had no time for inquiries, and there was his little daughter
anxiously awaiting the verdict from his lips.
"Perhaps he does not wish to come," said the Captain at
Jeanie's face lost its anxious expression. Her father
evidently was giving way. "I'll make him come," she said
resolutely; and after a few rapid words between the two,
she announced, "He wants work! any sort of work; and so
I told him he must come with us to London to wait on the
birds and me, and that in London you would get him work,"
and Jeanie smiled triumphantly, and cordially considered the
The Captain shrugged his shoulders, and laughed. "It
must be as the little girl wishes, if thou, too, art willing," he
said to the boy, as he turned to go on deck. Be a good lad,
and I'll find you work; or you can come back with me on my
return, if you should turn homesick."
He then sprang hastily on deck, and by-and-by a great
trampling over head, much shouting and rattling of chains,
(261) A 2
10 My Grandmother's Dollar.
announced the fact that the Saucy Betsy" was about to start
on her homeward voyage.
It. seemed as if the Spanish boy had found the very work
that he was specially fitted for-no woman could have proved
a more tender, cheerful nurse than he made for the crippled
child. The Captain congratulated himself over and over
again that he had got him on board, instead of the "helpless
lubber of a maid Jeanie had had on the outward journey,
who took to her berth before the "Saucy Betsy" had left
English waters, and went into hysterics when they encoun-
tered a storm in the Bay of Biscay. Fortunately, she had
married a Corporal in Gibraltar, and thus saved the Captain
the trouble of bringing her back with him; and he had quite
resolved upon bringing his child to England alone, and him-
self waiting on her, when Jose's opportune appearance pro-
vided the very attendant that was required. The little girl
was seven years old, and very helpless-why, the doctors were
puzzled to say: there was no deformity; but the muscles
were so weak as to be almost paralysed, and she could hardly
raise a hand, even to feed herself. She had been spending a
year with an aunt in Gibraltar, the doctors having said that
perhaps the warm climate might prove of benefit; but the
experiment had apparently failed, and she was returning home
no stronger than when she left. With it all, however, she
was the merriest, cheeriest little maid, ever ready for a joke
or a laugh; and more than one physician had declared that
that bright disposition would enable her to weather through
her delicacy, and that she might yet grow up into a healthy
She took great delight in instructing Jose in his new duties,
and felt as if she had received a personal compliment when
her father remarked that "Jos6 had soon found his sea-
My Granldmother's Dollar,. I
Some days, however, Jeanie was in too great pain to do
aught but lie quiet in her berth, trying her utmost to suppress
her groans, "lest father should be too sorry." Jos6 was sit-
ting by her side on one of these bad days, trying to amuse
her with some of his never-failing anecdotes, but she was
suffering too much to be able to listen; and not knowing what
to do to show his sympathy with her sufferings, the lad gently
stroked the little fevered arm which lay so helplessly by her
Do that again, Jose," she said faintly; "it seems to draw
out the pain from my arm into your fingers."
The lad tenderly took the wasted arm, and very softly
passed his hand up and down.
Again again Jose. I don't feel the pain when you do
that! Jeanie's voice had already a stronger tone.
Josd's brown skin blushed a hot red with pleasure. He
rubbed gently for some few minutes ; then a sudden thought
struck him; he quickly fetched a flask of olive oil from the
Captain's cabin. For the little mistress," he hastily ex-
plained; and when the Captain shortly afterwards followed,
curious to.know what use his child could make of the flask,
he was touched to see Jose, his palm duly softened with the
oil, diligently rubbing Jeanie's thin arms, and she, soothed by
the action, was just dropping off into a sweet sleep, such as
she had long been a stranger to.
The boy looked up as the Captain entered, and softly re-
placing the arm on the coverlet, said in a low voice, "She
will sleep now ; the little mistress is very-tired."
"You are a good lad," said the Captain, with a huskiness
in his voice which he could not repress; you shall not want a
friend whilst I am alive."
Every day, from that time forth, did Jeanie ask Jos6 to rub
her arms, and soon there was really a visible improvement in
My Grandmother's Dollar.
the child's health. She, on being left alone one day, found,
to her amazement, that she could actually lift to her lips the
glass of lemonade which stood by her side! With a merry
call she summoned both Jose and her father to witness this
astonishing feat. And truly, it might have been the most
wonderful accomplishment ever performed by a child of seven
years old, to judge by the keen delight it afforded to both of
The Captain took a gold piece from his pocket, and there
and then forced the reluctant Jos6 to accept it. I'll make
it ten if she can stand on her feet by the time we put into the
Port of London," said he.
Jos6 cared little for gold, but he did care for the honest
Captain's praise; and, above all, he longed to help the child
whom he had so taken into his heart, to walk, and skip, and
jump like other children of her age. We must rub your
ankles now, little mistress," he told Jeanie, that evening, the
Captain thinks that it is very much the rubbing that gives
"I know he does," smiled Jeanie, wearied out with the
pleasurable excitement of the day. "Dear old daddy! he
tried to rub them for me this morning, but he couldn't manage
it a bit, Jos4; his hands quite scratched me, they were so
hard, and he finished up with upsetting the oil into my
berth." And Jeanie relapsed into a feeble little chuckle at
the remembrance of this disaster. He says you've the knack
of it, Jose, whatever that may mean, and that he found the
rubbing harder work than reefing the mainsail."
"Did he say that ?" inquired Jose, eagerly.
"What ? asked Jeanie.
"That it was hard work," replied Jose.
"Yes, those were his very words. But why do you ask,
Jos4 ? "
My Grandmother's Dollar. 13
"Because, you know, I must work herd, God said I must,"
said Jos4, seriously: and I thought I must wait till we got to
London to begin, for I did not call that rubbing work, you
know; it was a pleasure to me to ease your pain; but if the
Captain calls it work, perhaps- "
"Oh, yes, it's work, of course," said the child, confidently,
"or father would not have said so. He is so pleased, Jose,
and so will mother be when we get back again."
Jos6 spared no pains now to do all in his power for the
little invalid. He was an ignorant, listless lad only a few
weeks ago, but a desire to obey God's message, and an honest
love for the helpless child, seemed almost to have transformed
his character. He never slept in the day-time now; indeed,
he was too busy with one thing or another, either for Jeanie's
benefit or amusement, and each day brought some slight
improvement to the feeble limbs, whilst the wearing pain
could be almost entirely drawn away by the magnetic influence
in Jose's slim long fingers, and he could soothe the child by
his quiet stories or sweet songs into quiet natural sleep. Little
wonder, then, that with absence from pain and good nights,
the child's appetite should increase and her strength rapidly
grow. She was almost fat, and her voice had a "back bone"
in it, declared the Captain, who really hardly knew how to be
grateful enough to the foreign lad. "How he thinks of the
things I can't imagine," continued the honest sailor. "He
can't love you as I do, childie, and yet I never thought of
carrying you on deck and arranging that those good-for-nothing
arms and ankles should always be in the sunshine; but most
certainly it has done you a world of good."
He noticed that I was always worse on dull days,"
explained Jeanic; and I said once, that in the sunshine my
pains all went away; so now he carries me wherever the sun is,
and shades my head so cleverly with the big umbrella."
14 My Grandmother's Dollar.
He's a good lad," repeated the Captain, for the second
time that voyage; I shan't lose sight of him, Jeanie, you
may depend upon that."
Nor did he. *When the ship put into port he took the boy
home with him, and he was received with hearty affection by
Jeanie's mother when she heard of all that he had done for
You've shown me the way, Jos6," she said, gratefully,
"and I believe now we may yet, with God's blessing, see our
frail little one grow up a strong woman." And the mother
soon acquired the knack that the Captain imagined belonged
only to JosC ; and week by week saw Jeanie's limbs grow
stronger and firmer. There were no more nights of wearing
pain, for mother would come at the first intimation of the
pain, and the rubbing never failed to bring relief and sleep; so
that, to make a long story short, Jeanie grew up into rosy,
blooming womanhood, and was the happy wife of the great
cabinet-maker in London city, and the mother of children as
strong and healthy as eye could see.
And Jose, what of him? Ah! you have guessed, I am
sure. By dint of hard, honest work he became that great
cabinet-maker alluded to, having prospered in the business to
which the Captain's bounty had apprenticed him. His clever
fingers, joined to his industry, soon made him valued by the
far-seeing master cabinet-maker, and his steady conduct and
determination to get on had their due reward; and when,
as junior partner in the rich firm, he asked the hand of
his little friend of the Saucy Betsy," there was none to say
IIe himself carved the ebony casket in which the dollar
now lies, and presented it to his wife on her wedding-day, and
she ever cherished it as her greatest treasure. "That text
made a man of my husband," she would often say, as she
My Grandmother's Dollar. 15
displayed the relic to her children, who were all early taught
the nobility of work.
One regret had Jose, and that was, that Mrs. Cocker did
not live to see his success, which he ever felt he owed in great
measure to her. She gave me God's message, and it was
not allowed to return to Him void." Perhaps, however, that
brave little Englishwoman may have known it all-though
she died not many months after Jos6 left Gibraltar-for the
life of the happy dead is a mystery to us here below. At any
rate, there will come a day when the work of every person will
be made known, and then she will rejoice that she was the
instrument of leading Jos6 Romer to work God's will upon
"These hands, shall they not work? these limbs, shall they
Not labour? Jesus our Redeemer toiled
And taught us the nobility of toil.
For well-nigh thirty years He wielded axe
And hammer; and the Holy Hand guided
The saw and plane. Are we more noble than
Our Lord? Shall we despise the ungloved hand,
Bronzed by the noon-day sun, and hardened by
The labour of the day? Oh, let us cease
To honour idleness, but rather count
Both head and hand to honour raised by toll!
For work is God-appointed, be it true
And honest, great or small; God is the great
Task-master-hallowed then the Master's work,"
THE VICTORY OF LOVE.
WET night in January The words alone imply
was the state of the long miry streets of a certain
There were few people, however, who cared to brave the
elements, the drenching rain and piercing wind keeping all
who had a hole to call home, within its four walls. So
deserted, indeed, were the streets, that, numbed (perhaps
morally as well as physically) by the intense cold, the police-
man on duty forsook his duty, and ventured to slip into the
cosy parlour of the Carpenter's Arms," which, blazing with
gas-light, and further embellished with gaudy red curtains
and shining pewter-pots, formed a tempting contrast to the
dreary moisture of the street. The landlord gave the con-
stable a friendly welcome, and the two men settled themselves
cosily over the fire, each with a glass of steaming toddy, utterly
heedless of the shouts and noisy laughter which proceeded
from the neighboring bar, indicating plainly enough that the
customers were taking more than was good, either for them-
selves or their purses.
It was getting late, and the universal feeling in the
" Carpenter's Arms" seemed to be, that it would be best to
drink what one could before the house shut up, and they
were turned out into the cold. Loud and frequent, therefore,
were the demands for various kind of liquors, to suit the
The Victory of Love.
taste of the customers; and the ringletted young "lady" who
presided at the bar, was, for her part, far from sorry when
the pot-boy appeared to put up the shutters; and the portly
figure of the landlord issued at the same instant from the
parlour, and announced, in polite but firm tones, that "the
ladies and gentlemen must please to clear out, as his house
must close by twelve."
The usual grumblings ensued; but, nevertheless, the com-
pany all got up, knowing, by past experiences, that the pot-
boy's strong arms would be put into requisition to oust, in
none too gentle a manner, those hard drinkers who wished to
linger over their cups. For the landlord of the Arms was
an old hand," and knew that when the day came for renew-
ing his license, it was important to have nothing against him
on the books of the Police; and perhaps this feeling may have
prompted the generous offer of another glass," as he returned
to the constable, after seeing the house duly closed. The
offer was, I need not say, at once accepted; and whilst the
landlord turned to place the kettle on the hob, the constable,
well sheltered by the red curtains of the window, took- a
glance down the rain-swept streets.
"Wonderfully soon cleared to-night, landlord," he re-
marked, as he returned and drew his chair to the fire, gazing,
meanwhile, with satisfaction at the glass of steaming toddy at
"Aye!" answered the landlord, winking familiarly at the
constable. The rain's doing your work for you to-night;
there's not a soul left in the street."
"So much the better!" remarked the policeman, philo-
sophically. "I've sometimes a deal of trouble, landlord, in
conducting your guests home. You're too hospitable, by
"Aha! aha! laughed the landlord; for these jokes, you
The Victory of Love.
understand, were made in the constable's private capacity.
"That's good, that is."
The neighbourhood, however, was not so utterly deserted
as these two worthies imagined. A woman, still young, and
who would have been beautiful but for the marks of drink
and excess, which were stamped on her countenance, was
slowly reeling along the lower end of the street, making but
slow progress against the driving wind and rain. She had
been one of the last to leave the public-house, and was so
drunk that it was all but impossible for her to keep her footing
on the slippery pavement. She fell at last, and, once down,
she did not attempt to rise ; but, leaning her head against a
projecting water-pipe, she sunk into a drunken sleep. It was,
however, impossible to sleep long with that heavy rain
falling; yet the rain was the best friend she had found that
day, or indeed for many a long day. It cooled the fevered
head; and when, after some little time, the woman awoke,
she felt sobered by the cold drops which had entered every
pore in her body. She ,.,i _:.l herself into a standing posture
by means of the useful water-pipe, and was about to attempt
to cross the few streets that lay between her and the attic
she called "home when she was arrested by a little boy,
apparently of about seven years of age, who came running
along and screaming between his sobs, for Robert!
Ialf4blind with fright and misery, he never saw the woman
who was standing in the shade of the water-pipe, till rushing
on, he caught his foot in her dress, and fell heavily on the
pavement. The woman, drunkard though she might be,
had a woman's heart; and stooping down, she gently lifted
the little fellow, who, stunned by his fall, was gazing help-
lessly around him.
Are you hurt, dear ? she asked, passing her hand gently
The Victory of Love.
down the scarlet-stockinged leg, which had been bent some-
what awkwardly under him as it fell.
"No-o-o ; not much, thank you," said the child, gradually
recovering himself. My foot hurts me a little bit; but I
must not stop-I must find Robert! Did you see him pass
this way? he asked anxiously, as he tried to stand upright.
"I have seen no one up this street lately," answered the
woman. "Who is Robert? and how came he to leave you
alone in London streets so late at night ?"
"Robert's our footman," replied the boy, trying hard not
to cry. I've been to a party at my Uncle's, and we were
to catch the last train home; and as we went to the station, a
crowd came round the next street, and somehow I lost Robert.
Oh, what shall I do ? Mother will be so miserable if I do
not come home," and the poor little man burst once more into
Ilis grief touched the heart of that erring woman by his
side. She, too, had been a mother ; a mother of a boy as fair
and well-cared for as the child now beside her. Ah, those
happy innocent days !-when sin and shame were unknown,
and she was almost as pure as the baby boy she cradled
in her arms. How quickly the recollection of those bygone
years swept through her mind. Her boy's death! how she
grieved and wept for him. She yielded to the tempter. Oh,
the downward path is so easy! A few months changed the
fair delicate lady into the coarse-featured drunkard, shunned
by the commonest woman who lived a pure and honest life.
But now, for a second, the old times seemed back again
as she clasped the soft little hand, so confidently placed
in hers, as the boy sobbed out, "I don't want to cry, it's
babyish; but it's so dreadful to be lost, and I do want to seo
My darling, don't cry; you shall see your mother again;
20 The Victory of Love.
I will take you to your mother." As she spoke, she was
surprised herself at the gentle tones of her voice. Was she
the same woman who had been bandying jokes-which she
could now ill bear to think of-but one short hour ago, in the
public-house hard by.
"But you must tell me your name and where you live,
before I can take you home," she continued.
My name is Oswald Hardinge, and we live at Hammerton
Hall. I know the way quite well from the Hammerton
"Well then, Oswald, I will keep my promise; you shall
see your mother in a very few hours; but for to-night you
must come home with me. All the trains are gone ; even the
station is shut up. But to-morrow, very early to-morrow
morning, it will open again, and then you shall go."
Poor little Oswald! when he at length understood that it was
impossible for him to see his mother that night, he burst once
more into incontrollable sobs. "She would want him. She
would think he was lost for ever," and so on, till he was
exhausted; and Mrs. Rushton, seeing that the poor child was
worn out, both in body and mind, took him up in her arms,
and carried him with difficulty through the streets and alleys,
till she reached the poor tumble-down house of which she
rented the top room.
She laid him down, asleep as he was, and then stood gazing
on the flushed checks, on which a tear-drop still lingered, the
golden hair forming a halo round his head; and she felt as if
she had an angel in her room. It almost seemed sacrilege for
her to kiss one so pure and fair, but she felt impelled by a
power she could not resist, and softly she stooped over the
child and kissed his brow.
Good-night, mother darling," he murmured, half-opening
his deep blue eyes, "kiss me again : good-night."
The Victory of Love.
Mother! Mother !" The word still rang in her ears. She
seemed to hear her own merry boy shouting gleefully for her
down the long avenues of their home. Her own child long
years asleep beneath the churchyard yew. Would he know
her again ? "his own pretty mamma," as he used to call her.
Oh! why must she think of him ? him whom she had so long
banished from her mind. How should he know her again ?
She was changed in everything! He would never see her,
she would never enter that holy place where her little one was
now; such as she was could not go there! And laughing a
bitter crackling laugh, that was more sad to hear than any
moan, she turned, alas! to her only resource in trouble-the
brandy bottle-and tried by this to banish the thoughts that
were haunting her. Not till every drop was drained did she,
at last, roll into bed beside the still sleeping boy.
The morning dawned; a bright winter's day after the rain
and sleet of the night before. The sun, seemingly anxious
to make up for past deficiencies, was even trying to shine
through the dirty attic window, and did succeed in shaming
the lamp, which, standing on a broken chair by the bedside,
was still burning with a sullen yellow glare. Little Oswald'
woke up, stared around the room, and then suddenly recol-
lected last night and all its adventures. "To-day I am to go
to mother; and he ran towards his new friend and pulled
her arm. "Wake! lady, wake! he called, in his pert
young voice: it is time to get up and go and see mother."
She woke at last, after one or two more vigorous pulls from
Oswald. She turned round, and, still heavy from the effect of
the brandy, she murmured fretfully, Oh, my head how it
"Oh! what t pity," said the boy, tenderly; "mother's
headaches are so bad, I wonder if yours are the same. She
The Victory of Love.
puts Eau de Cologne on her head; you have been doing that
too, I see." And he raised the bottle from the ground, where
it had rolled last night from her grasp, and began slowly
reading the label, Eau de Vie. "Oh! that's not quite the
same as hers, is it ? That means Water of Life,' I know,
because it's French, and I have a French governess. Eau
means water, and there are all sorts. I suppose Eau de
Cologne, like mother has, and Eau de Vie, like you have- "
But stung to the quick by the child's innocent chatter,
Mrs. Rushton sprang from the bed, and said hastily, Come
here, Oswald; let me help you to dress!" and in the
business of fastening the various loops and buttons of his best
suit," she hoped the subject was forgotten. IHe was dressed
now, and was seated on the floor lacing his boots, when he
suddenly looked up, and said shyly, "I know a text about
your water-bottle : shall I say it to you ?"
"Yes," said the woman, because she did not know what
else to say.
"It's a very long text, the longest I know," said Oswald,
confidentially; and then having finished his boot, he folded his
hands and repeated reverently : "' Whosoever drinketh of this
water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water
that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I
shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up
into everlasting life.' You see," concluded Oswald, "how
your bottle reminded me of it. You do thirst after drinking
this water, d6n't you ? But mother says, in heaven we shall not
hunger any more, nor thirst any more. Won't that be nice ? "
She had turned aside, and was weeping bitterly. The water
of life that this child spoke of-how little she had cared to
seek after that water! She had slaked her thirst at such.
fountains as the world could offer, whilst she had let the water
of life flow unheeded by.
The Victory of Love. 23
Well, it was too late now; what had been done could not
be undone." And with such bitter thoughts rankling in her
mind, she tied on her gaudy bonnet, and taking Oswald's
outstretched hand, she said, "Come along, let us make haste
and catch the train."
The little fellow was only too delighted to agree to this
proposal; and, hand in hand, they descended the broken, dirty
stairs, and were once more in the wintry street.
The child ran on as they came up to the railway station,
passed quickly up to the ticket office, and then, his curly head
barely reaching above the ledge, Mrs. Rushton heard his
sweet shrill voice ask for two tickets to Hammerton, first-
class ;" and he laid down a sovereign, and pocketed the
change which the astonished clerk handed to him, in a
businesslike way that was truly amusing. Advancing towards
Mrs. Rushton, with the tickets in his hand, he said, with a
Arn't I a big boy, to be able to take the tickets ? I paid
with my very own-the money Uncle Edgar gave me- last
Oswald, whose spirits had been rising higher and higher
as the train approached his home, jumped joyfully out at the
station, and taking his new friend's hand, said in happy tones-
Oh, how glad mother will be to see me again; and how
she will love you for bringing me back."
Fortunately Oswald was too much excited to notice that
Mrs. Rushton was unable to answer his remark. "Love her,"
love the drunken, wretched woman-a woman whom but last
night a ragged cinder-sifter had scorned as a "shameless
thing!" Love her! No, indeed! Mrs. Rushton knew the
world better, and smiled a hard, bitter smile. There was no
love for her, either in this world or the next.
"There! there! that's our house !" now shouted the little
24 The Victory of Love.
fellow, as a turn in the road brought a large, old-fashioned
red brick mansion into view. Oh, oh and there's mother
-come, come!" and he began to run as fast as he could,
though still holding tight to the hand of his companion.
She was, however, quite determined not to risk meeting
with any of the boy's relations, and was disengaging her
fingers from Oswald's tight grasp, when the large gate was
thrown open, and a lady ran towards Oswald, and folding
him in her arms, said in heartfelt tones, "AMy own darling!
Thank God, I see you safe "
"She found me last night, and took care of me," said
Oswald, turning to his friend. But she was gone; hurrying
fast towards the railway.
Oh, stop !" cried the boy, running after her; stop you
must see mother and gaining on her, he held her tightly,
saying, Why do you run away ? we want you."
By this time Mrs. Hardinge had come up, and, taking
Mrs. Rushton's unwilling hand, she said in sweet, gentle
"You surely will not grudge me the pleasure of thanking
my boy's deliverer, my friend."
Her friend! Would that high-born, delicate lady indeed
stoop to claim her as friend? Mrs. Rushton gazed at her
one minute in mute astonishment, and then burst into bitter
"Run, OQwald !" said Mrs. Hardinge to the little boy, who
was gazing with perplexed, wide-open eyes; run in, and tell
Nurse you are safe; she has been almost as anxious about
you as I have been: and say we are all coming in to break-
Having despatched the child on this message, she turned
to the sobbing woman at her side, and again taking her hand,
said softly, "You are tired; come in, and have some break-
The Victory of Love. 25
fast, and then I shall be able to tell you how grateful, how
inexpressibly grateful, I feel to you, for restoring to me my
treasure. I tremble to think what might have happened to
my innocent little child-left alone in the wicked streets of
London-into whose hands he might have fallen!"
Mrs. Hardinge continued speaking, so as to give her com-
panion time to recover her composure, and hardly expected an
answer. But her last words roused the unhappy woman; and
stopping short in the road, she said in hard tones, He could
hardly have fallen into worse hands than mine."
Gentle Mrs. Hardinge looked for a minute at the speaker.
Alas! the degraded features and cheap, gaudy dress, spoke
more eloquently than any words, of the sins of past days;
but she had not so learned Christ, as to turn with disdain
from a sister, because she was an erring sister. Rather, did
her womanly heart "burn within her" to rescue this soul
from the downward path. Oh, no!" she answered quickly,
"that is not so. You have sheltered my darling this bleak
night; and now have brought him back on the first oppor-
tunity. No one could have done more for me and for him ;
and I shall ever feel grateful to you, and remember you in
my prayers; and she added, timidly, "Could I, might I,
show my gratitude in any other way ?"
I am not in want of money," said Mrs. Rushton, curtly.
I did not mean money," said Mrs. Hardinge, in a gentle
tone; "but sympathy or help-such help as one woman may
offer to another. Will you refuse that also ?"
The breakfast was soon over; somehow, none of the three
were hungry. And as for Mrs. Rushton, she felt as if the
delicacies with which Oswald had heaped her plate would
choke her, and she longed now to be gone. But there was no
train from this country station for two hours, and for that
time she must, perforce, remain as Mrs. Hardinge's guest.
The Victory of Love.
And now Oswald begged for a walk. "Only a little walk,
mamma dear, just to show this lady my fountain; the one with
the text over it. You know, mother, she has a bottle of water
of life; I saw it. It's in French on the label: Eau de Vie,'
isn't it, lady ? I wonder if it came from my fountain "
Thus prattled Oswald, all unconscious of the deep flush of
shame which was plainly visible, even on those battered, sin-
stained cheeks. Ah! she could, then, still blush; the speech
of an innocent child had brought back a sense of shame that
she had well-nigh lost. Mrs. Hardinge was too truly a lady
to notice either the speech or the blush, but she agreed to the
little fellow's proposal, and the three were, ere long, walking
along the frosty high road.
Oswald ran on in front with his frisky terrier, and the two
women were alone. Neither knew exactly what to talk about,
and the silence was getting oppressive, when Mrs. Hardinge
at length said, very gently,-
"Is there no way, then, by which I may prove my grati-
tude to you for befriending my boy in his hour of need P"
"None. I want. nothing," said the other, in a hard, bitter
tone. "I am past all help, and wish for none."
Mrs. Hardinge sighed, and longed to know what would be
best to say in answer to this blunt speech, when Oswald ran
up again, eagerly claiming Mrs. Rushton's hand. Here is
the fountain; drink some! I always do. I like to think I
shall never thirst again." And he stooped to the spring,
which was bubbling out of the side of a rock in a dark hollow,
and handed a cup of the sparkling water to his friend. She
raised it to her lips, though it was long since anything so pure
as water had passed her fevered palate.
Is it like your water of life ?" asked Oswald, curiously, as
she returned the cup; "we might have brought your bottle
here and filled it."
The Victory of Love. 27
"Ah little Oswald, could you do that, it would be the best
day's work you ever did," said the unhappy woman, bursting
into sobs, to the great amazement of the child, whose big blue
eyes seemed ready to start out of, his head with amazement at
the effect of his speech.
I think, Oswald, that you and Jip had better run
home," said Mrs. Hardinge; we will follow you in a
minute or two."
Mrs. Hardinge's feelings of hospitality and gratitude would
not allow her to leave the woman who had taken care of her
only child; but the thought of the two long hours with this
uncongenial companion-who was miserable, and wretched
and desolate, and yet who so sternly repelled all help or
sympathy-seemed really to weigh down the soul of the
"What should you be doing if I were not here," asked
Mrs. Rushton, suddenly, as if she almost divined the feelings
of her companion's mind.
"Let me see," answered Mrs. Hardinge, pleasantly, thank-
ful to have a "safe" subject of conversation started for her.
"Wednesday! I should be paying my visit to a little home
we have started here for idiot children. But do not fancy you
are at all upsetting my arrangements. To-morrow, or any
day will do as well to see the children. Poor little things !
they do not know one day from another. That is the house
on that hill close by."
Let us go there," said Mrs. Rushton, abruptly. If the
children are idiot children, you need not be ashamed of their
seeing you with me-I am the greatest idiot of all;" and she
laughed harshly, and walked quickly in the direction of the
red brick house.
It was soon reached, and the bright, cheery-faced matron
welcomed Mrs. Hardinge as an old friend; and though she
The Victory of Love.
Smay have gazed a little wonderingly at her companion, she
curtsyed respectfully as Mrs. Hardinge introduced Mrs.
Rushton; my boy's preserver." And whilst the matron was
listening eagerly to Master Oswald's loss and recovery, Mrs.
Rushton gazed through the door of the sitting-room into
another room opening from it. This was evidently the poor
children's play-room; and here were pitiable objects to be seen
Children with abnormally large heads and small shrunken
limbs ; a boy whose head moved unceasingly from side to side,
whilst another lay perfectly still on his couch, taking no notice
whatever of the gay toys which lay strewn around. These
poor children had only the helplessness of childhood, with none
of its graces and fascinations. They must be strange people
who could spend their lives among such scenes," thought
Mrs. Rushton, when the door opened, and a nurse carried in
a child-a boy three or four years old, perhaps-fair to look
at, but with a long receding forehead, which told its tale plainly
enough. He was screaming and kicking with rage, but the
nurse seemed accustomed to this, and placing him on the -floor
with a toy or so within reach, she said, wearily, "He's always
like that, he's more trouble than all the other children put
together. Do, Harry, be a good boy See! there's a lady
come to see Harry."
Harry, however, refused to turn his head, and continued
kicking and screaming. Mrs. Rushton rose from her seat.
This child interested her more than the placid manners which
characterized the other children; and she was about to attempt
to quiet the little rebel, when he suddenly looked up, stopped
his shrieks, and throwing himself upon her in ungoverned
haste, said loudly, Pretty mammy Harry's mammy! "
The nurse would have removed him, but Mrs. Rushton
begged her not. It was years since baby lips had called her
mammy," and this poor child, afflicted as he was, was never-
The Victory of Love.
theless dear to her for the sake of the bright-faced darling she
had lost. He, too, had called her his pretty mammy." Ah,
yes none but an idiot child would call her pretty now. The
bitter thought would recur to her, but Harry's caressing ways
as he stroked her cheeks, and, unrebuked, pulled to pieces the
gaudy rose in her bonnet, brought a sweet softened expression
to the battered face; and perhaps Harry might have found
other people to join with him then in his expressions of
"He's another child with you, Ma'am," said the tired
nurse, wonderingly. "It's a pity you can't be always here.
He is a handful; it seems as if nothing we can do will please
Mrs. Rushton did not answer, but she pressed her arms
tighter round the little fellow, and kissed his soft white neck;
whilst Harry, grown bold with success, gave a final wrench to
the rose, and pulled flower and bonnet too off her head. He
stood aghast then at his infant mischief, but no scolding
followed, and the bonnet was used as a stable for Harry's
horse; and so absorbed were the two over their games, that
they never noticed the entrance of the matron and Mrs.
The visit was over, and Mrs. Rushton must return. Half
reluctantly she rose from the floor, and sought for the
despoiled bonnet; but when little Harry saw it adorning (?)
his friend's head, instead of sheltering his horse, he burst
into loud and passionate screams. She should stop; his
pretty mammy; she must!" and then, changing his voice
of command to one of entreaty, he clung to her dress, begging
"Pretty mammy not leave Harry."
The matron tried to take him away; but those baby
fingers had tight hold, and his cries of Mammy mammy !"
were truly heartrending.
The Victory of Love.
"I can't leave him," said Mrs. Rushton, at last; and she
turned to the matron. Can you keep me here? I don't
want wages; I only want to be with the child. He cares
for me," she continued passionately, lifting the little fellow
into her arms, "and he has not the sense to know that his
'pretty mammy' is a drunkard whom all the world scorns.
Let me stay," she continued, dropping her hard mocking
tone; "I will do anything you like, and I cannot drink here,
but leave me with little Harry."
The matron looked perplexed, as well she might, and
turned to Mrs. Hardinge, who, as the founder and lady
patroness, had all but unlimited power in this little monarchy.
"Take me on trial," said the poor woman desperately,
still clasping the child in her arms; "if I don't suit, turn
me out; but let me stop now," and Harry's baby voice com-
pleted the entreaty-for his pleading pretty mammy, stop!"
were all but irresistible.
The end is soon told. That baby child was the worker
employed by the Good Shepherd to recall His erring sheep
to the Heavenly Fold. Poor Harry, idiot child as he was,
was nevertheless a true guardian angel to that sinful woman.
The terrible thirst for drink is not one that will allow itself to
be conquered without many a bitter struggle. Once or twice,
or even oftener, she felt as if the devil must triumph, and she
would fain have gone in search of something to quell the
craving which was so unbearable. But Harry! she could
not leave him. She knew full well how piteous and heart-
rending would be his shrieks, if he found that his friend had
left him, were it only for an hour. No she would bear any
pain, any craving, rather than cause suffering to the poor
child who had called her his pretty mammy." By and-by
Harry grew worse; his malady increased, and now every
moment she- must be by him; he could not sleep unless she
The Victory of Love.
held his hand; and she would sit for hours by his couch, or
cradle him in her arms, whilst she soothed him with the soft,
sweet songs which she had sung to her own boy in the days
so long ago. At last Death, the deliverer, came to carry the
child to that Land where he would be "idiot" no longer, but
one of those little ones who always regard the face of their
:" Come, too, pretty mammy," the little fellow had said, as
With a sweet, an intelligent smile on his distorted features, he
Spi: l1. breathed his last.
SAii, so baby fingers" drew the poor sinner to the Saviour,
S\h I'. ; poor Harry and her own bright-faced boy had gone;
thitll :r must she, too, strive to come: she must see them
Sagn~ii, and witness their joy in the courts of Heaven.
%So:, through difficulties and temptations, she struggled
bra .v.:iy along the narrow way; and in later years few could
Ih\,:v recognized the pale, gentle nurse who had such bound-
I:- influence over those wayward, afflicted children, for the
bold red-faced woman of that January night. What had
wrought this change ? Love, and love only; for God is Love.
Say, if you like, that it was but the senseless love of an idiot
child-that poor child had, nevertheless, been made in the
image of God, and that image is never made for nought.
Little Harry accomplished the work for which he was sent
rnto the world; he won a soul for his Master; and would that
each of us could say as much. It is love alone that is so
mighty. Oh, love then the brethren-not alone the good and
holy-but love the poor, the outcast, even the sinful and the
drunken ; and by love you shall eventually conquer.
WRONG IN HIS
iAM quite easy in my mind about Philip; he's
all right; he'll make his way in the world
well enough: it's Mark I'm thinking of."
"Mark! I thought he was such a good
"So he is in a way; but there's something odd about him
one can't understand. I sometimes fancy the lad's wrong in
"Indeed! that's bad, particularly as he'll have to earn his
own living; but what makes you fancy that "
"Well, I can't exactly say; I see so little of the lads, you
know; but people tell me he's dreamy and queer-lets the
other boys in the school bully him at times-take his
possessions from him, and never seems to care."
"Afraid, perhaps, to show fight? He hardly looks as
robust as his brother."
"Afraid? no That's another queer thing; the boy is
utterly devoid of fear. Look at that affair of the mad dog at
the school-house. You heard of it. A perfect panic. Mark,
over his book, looks up to find the place' deserted-only the
master's little girl left in the playground with the foaming
beast. In a second he has found his opportunity, seizes the
animal by the back of his neck, and holds him tight till the
schoolmaster, who has run for a gun, comes back. 'Now
Wrong in his Head.
then, steady, fire says the lad, never loosing his hold for a
minute. No, he's no coward, isn't Mark Havers."
"Ah, yes! I remember that occurrence; it did the lad
credit. Perhaps he isn't good at book learning."
"Too good, I sometimes think. They say he seems to be
wrapped up in what he reads and thinks."
"A bookworm, perhaps ?"
No, not that; the schoolmaster says he'll spend his
holidays roving about the hills, or lying on the grass doing
nothing. He must be an odd chap."
"What do his schoolfellows think of him ?"
"A few call him a fool. The little fellows all like him. I
don't find that he is very intimate with any particular chum.
One boy told me he believed Mark was 'really good'-a
phrase schoolboys aren't apt to use one of another."
"Well, well, the lad doesn't seem vicious, at all events; and
if he's deficient in worldly wisdom, that will come with years.
I confess I am much relieved to hear so fair an account of
poor Havers' children. It was a sad thing he and his wife
both dying of cholera the week these twins were born."
"Yes; but I think we did well in letting Jones here have
the charge of them; he's a decent fellow. He it was who
wrote to me, you know, of his own accord, to say that the boys
had got all the good they could out of his plain village school;
and he suggested, if they were meant to make their way in
the commercial world, or in professions, that they should be
moved to some better school."
"What do you think of making them ?"
"Well, one naturally.fancies one at least would follow in
his father's steps and be a schoolmaster, but Philip says he
should not like that occupation; he would prefer a trade."
Mark shakes hishead. 'I must learn,'he says,'not teach.'"
Wrong in his Head. 3
"I must say the little chaps have their own ideas on the
Yes, and I don't want to force their inclinations. Sup-
pose you and I, as co-trustees, give them two or three years
more in a sound commercial school. There's a capital one in
Froster. I'll give an extra 20 a-year towards it for that
time, and the rector will help, I know. He had a great regard
for poor Havers, his old schoolmaster."
All right, I leave these things to you; count on me to do
as you think best. My train ought to be up now. Good-bye,
Good-bye, Robinson! I shall be off in a couple of hours
too. Meantime I'll have one more talk with our charges."
And screw that little lad's head round if you can; it's a
bad thing for a boy with his bread and salt to earn to have a
crank of any sort."
"I'll do my best, never fear."
And so those well-meaning and prosperous tradesmen, Mr.
Smith and Mr. Robinson, parted-good fellows both, and
earnestly desirous of doing their best for an old friend's sons,
for which purpose, indeed, they had paid this flying visit to
their native place, Roleston.
George Havers was a clever, quiet, village schoolmaster, who,
after twenty years' steady work in Roleston parish school,
married the girl of his choice, and looked forward to the best
part of his life to come. But he died the following year in a
cholera outbreak, his wife only surviving him three days.
Their twin babes lived and prospered, the schoolmaster elect
taking them in his charge. It was the simplest arrangement,
and it answered.
Neither lH rers nor his wife possessed near relatives. A
very modes' sum was all the twins could call their own, and
this was carefully left to accumulate for them by a few kind
4 Wrong in his Head.
friends, who, at the same time, agreed to provide them with a
good plain education, such as would fit them to earn their own
It was necessary to give this slight sketch of the boys'
childhood, but it is not with Philip and Mark Havers, as
children or youths, that we shall have to do; it is as grown
men, one wrong in his head," that they come before us.
Time is the quickest traveller I know. Before Messrs.
Smith and Robinson had thought seriously again of their young
wards, they were well up in the Froster Grammar School,
spending their holidays at Roleston with the kind Jones's, and,
in a mere span of months and years following, they were big
fellows ready for real work.
Each chose his occupation. Philip accepted a clerkship in
Mr. Smith's shipping concern in Liverpool; Mark stuck to the
Yorkshire moors and dales, and in his queer way chose a
much lower position in the office of Messrs. Grange, coal
owners, in his old neighbourhood. You could see Roleston
parish church in the distance from the pit mouth. Philip
would laugh scornfully, and say he supposed that was why
Mark chose the place.
The elder brother still retained the idea that had gained
ground with some people in early days, that Mark was soft,
wrong in his head, not awake to the main chance-or.whatever
you like to call it.
What else could one think? Hadn't Mark refused a first-
rate offer in his time-no less than to be .sent to college, and
educated with the view of taking Holy Orders ? An old lady
had taken a fancy to the boy, and made him this proposal.
He first made her acquaintance on one of the rare occasions
when he had spent a day at the sea-side. An excursion train
from Manchester to the coast was to stop at Roleston and take
up passengers. Philip and Mark, as quite little lads, were
Wrong in his Head.
permitted to join the excursion. The train had been chartered
to carry a Manchester ragged school children for a day's pleasur-
ing on the sands. Philip held himself aloof from the motley crew,
but, long before Shelborow was reached, Mark was the centre of
an interested group. Something in him had attracted those
rough lads. Young though he was he knew all about the sea and
tides, could describe exactly where shells, seaweed, and shrimps
were likely to be found on Shelborow shore, and on arriving
at the place was willing to conduct a party there. Towards
the close of the day he was to be seen on the beach surrounded
again by his new friends, reading them a few sentences out of
the book he had brought with him.
At this time Mrs. Fortescue happened to pass by, and
noticed Mark's earnestness and his congregation's attention.
Good lad to be reading the Bible to your poor companions,"
Ma'am, it is not the Bible, it is a book about the sea,"
said Mark, respectfully.
I am sure I heard you pronounce the name of God," said
the old lady, a little disappointed.
Yes, ma'am, I did," said Mark. "It was in my book."
We axed him how the sea knewwhen to come up and down,"
said a bright little lad, the smallest of the party, and he says
we can't understand, because our minds are so small and God's
mind so great. But he says we shall know about it all some
day-when we gets up yonder," he added, pointing to the sky.
He was the only speaker; a bashfulness and constraint had
fallen on the little band. The visitor saw it, and moved on.
He was trying to improve those poor children," she re-
marked to her companion, though it was not the Bible. I
think he ought to be a clergyman when he grows up. I shall
find out all about him, and what he is intended for."
And she was as good as her word. She kept the boy in
6 Wrong in his Head.
sight till he went to Froster school, and; after awhile, she
made that proposal regarding his future career, but Mark
gently and decidedly declined it.
Ile gave no reason. I think because he had none he could
put into words. The idea floating in his mind was that he
was not fit for such a post-never would be. But he did not
say this. It might sound humble. He did not want his
words to sound anything that he could not live up to.
Mrs. Fortescue was vexed, and told people she had been
mistaken in the boy; he was not such an earnest character
as she had imagined. Mark only smiled when this was
repeated to him, but he was sorry when Philip called him a
fool. Philip didn't understand, however, and when people
don't understand they are apt to make mistakes.
The lads were tall, straight, well set-up fellows. There
was a rumour that poor Havers had had gentle blood in his
veins. Philip was handsome. Mark certainly didn't look
"wrong in his head," though his eyes had a peculiar faraway
gaze that attracted attention. He was generally silent, but by
no means sad. Indeed, Philip was far more subject to moods
and ups and downs of spirit than his brother.
Still Philip's list of friends was the longest. Mark was
kind and obliging to all, but was not on intimate terms with
many fellows: he seemed to be ruled and directed by some
motive power different from theirs. He occasionally fished
and cricketed, and laughed and talked as they did, and now
and again the young men had jolly times together, and found
Mark capital fun. But by-and-bye, when the same things
continued to occupy their thoughts, lo! Mark had escaped
their grasp, was out of their reach altogether-a nod and a
cheerful excuse all they could get out of him.
This puzzled them. Some were vexed with him; some
called Mark by Philip's name for him-fool; others-a very,
Wrong in his Head.
very few-got to the root of it all, and saw the why and the
wherefore, and the puzzle became disentangled, and the
But this only happened very occasionally. So the days
went by, and the lads became men, each sticking to the work
he had chosen.
Philip daily became more valued by his employer as a
hard-working, pushing young man.
A few visits had been interchanged between the twins, but
only a few. Philip had chosen to feel greatly affronted with
Mark for refusing to leave his occupation at Mossendale for a
very superior post in a South American mine.
"The fellow is utterly devoid of spirit," said Mr. Philip
Havers to his associates in Liverpool. "I took pains to
ascertain that it was a bond fide concern, and, knowing Mark's
scruples, I made sure the principals were men of standing and
integrity. Now, just as everything was shaping to furnish
him with a superior position in life and a large salary, he
sends me word that he has no intention of leaving Mossondale,
and that he has more than enough money for his wants. I
never shall understand the fellow."
"What does he do there?" asked a junior clerk, who
wished he had a chance of changing his monotonous office
work for a fling in South America.
"Where? Mossendale ? Oh, the usual coal-pit work-
in the office, down below overlooking the pitmen, half overseer,
half chimney-sweep," scoffed Philip, rather bitterly. "He'll
never rise, never be rich; Mark gives away all he gets, I
"Goes in for being a saint, perhaps," laughed a young
"I don't know," said Philip; "he never preaches, in a
gown or out of it. There is that good about Mark. But
Wrong in his Head.
there don't let's talk of the fellow, it puts me out of patience;
he might do so well for himself if he'd only stick to the
realities of life instead of going dreaming through it. Well,
I suppose I must let him grub on in his own way, but it is
"When you drive your carriage to have to pass your
brother in the gutter," said the junior clerk.
"Mark will never be in the gutter, but he is short of
ambition," said Mr. Philip Havers, drily. He did not approve
of a mere office lad speaking so lightly of his brother.
For Mr. Havers meant to soar; he meant to drive that very
carriage to which young Brown had alluded. He was a man
who saw his aim before him from daybreak to sunset; wealth,
importance, station-all these he meant to win. His bodily
and mental energies were strained to the attainment of these
goods; he would have them too, and it did secretly irritate
him to think that Mark, in that bright time to come, might
disgrace him by continuing in the position of a mere drudge.
A WELL-APPOINTED breakfast-table in a gay little villa on the
outskirts of Liverpool. A golden-haired woman, with pink
cheeks and pink morning-gown, is pouring out Mr. Philip
Havers' coffee while he reads his letters.
A sudden exclamation, and the letter was dashed down on
the table, but not in wrath-rather in delight, though the
smile on Mr. Havers' lips was a little too like a sneer to be
"What now, Phil, dear? It's only Mark, is it?" says
Mrs. Phil, negligently. Some new crotchet, I suppose ? "
"A new crotchet, indeed! is the answer. "You're cut out,
Mrs. Philip. And Mark has waked up at last out of his
Wrong in his Head.
dreams to do a sensible thing. He is going to be married, my
dear-and to an heiress."
"Mark marry an heiress? What nonsense, Phil. G:wv
me the letter."
"Take and read it, child. It's too good news to be true.
I was always afraid of the lad doing something horribly foolish
in his queer slow way, but it seems he has had his eyes open
all the while."
"I suppose she is old and ugly," replies pretty Louise
Havers, with a laugh.
"Not a bit of it, child; I've seen her. She's out old
curate's daughter, Doris Vane-lived at Roleston nearly all
her life. Her mother died the winter before last, and an
uncle died, too, about the same time and left her 30,000. I
remember hearing it when I ran down about that South
American affair. A quiet little brown-haired thing, she left
the village then, and I fancied she had gone for good. Sharp
of Mark to get hold of her."
Ah! we shall hear of no more nonsense from him now,"
said Mrs. Philip, sagely; "this'll steady him, sure enough.
Thirty thousand pounds why, Phil, that's 1,500 a-year!
Of course Mark will give up pit-work."
"And go and live in Devonshire, where Doris has had a
house left her too," said Phil. Mark is in luck; who'd have
thought he'd have been so clever "
Yes, but he'll have to give up his fads now," said Mrs.
Philip, shaking her golden head; she had been a small, very
small heiress too, and knew what was due to such people. A
girl with money expects a good deal to be given in to her. I
shouldn't wonder if she gets Mark to live in London."
Hardly that," said the brother.
Well, but he'll have to brush up, and go abroad, perhaps,
till it's blown over that she's married a pit overseer."
(254) A 2
to Wrong in his Head.
Mark's got a better position than that," said Philip,
quickly. He's thought a good deal of down there by gentry
and all, despite his queerness. You don't understand,
Oh, I daresay not. Mark is not in my line. All my
people are in society, none of them a bit odd."
I must be off," said her husband, wisely refusing to take
offence; "it'll be news at the office."
"Phil! Phil! will they ask us to the wedding ?" called his
wife after him.
"I don't know, I daresay-look at the letter, I didn't half
read it," was his reply, as he ran down the pretty little gar-
den to catch the omnibus just rattling up.
Mrs. Phil, thus left to herself, did take up the sheet of
plain, small handwriting which so quietly conveyed the
momentous news. It ran thus-
"MY DEAR BROTHBEn,-I am going to marry Doris Yane.
She and I are of one mind and one heart, and I think she will
help me in my life work. For awhile the fact of her possess-
ing a large income deterred me from asking her to be my wife.
I thought another sphere might be opened out to her, and her
lot cast far away from me, but it is not so, and we shall be
married in the autumn."
"At her own place, I expect," said Mrs. Phil to herself;
then her face fell as she read on-
"We shall be married in Roleston Parish Church. Doris
goes to the Rectory. I shall stay with the Jones's. I can
get a room at the Bush for you and Louise, and bgpe you
will be able to come-over for the day. We do not mean to
Wrong in his Head. 11
take any wedding tour, as just now I could not leave my
"Your affectionate Brother,
"Not leave his work! Louise's pink cheeks positively
paled with surprise and disgust. Would Doris, his heiress
wife, permit him to resume his colliery work, and, if so, where
would they live ? Not, surely, in Mossendale, there was no fit
house there. Perhaps Mark meant to buy a share in the
colliery and become a millionaire. Yes, that was most likely.
It would give him something to do, and Mark must always be
busy. Ah it was a wise thing to contemplate. Mark would
grow odder and odder left to himself. Now, with a nice young
wife, and money turning over every year, he might live in
Louise lay back in her wicker chair, and quite enjoyed con-
structing a castle in the air in which Mr. and Mrs. Mark
Havers were to dwell, and where she was to visit them, dining
off beautiful dishes, waited on 'by tall footmen, and driving out
in easy carriages drawn by prancing horses. It made her,
however, discontented with her own little villa, and almost
vexed with Philip. Hadn't he always said that Mark would
do no good in the world, and here he was ahead of her hus-
band! It was hardly fair on her.
Who could have expected it!" she said aloud for the thou-
sandth time, and then her mind rapidly reviewed the life of
her husband's brother as far as she knew it.
An odd boy at school, ridiculously careless of his rights,
one minute apparently utterly destitute of spirit, the next
devising some extraordinary project which few could enter into,
but which, despite discouragement and loss of followers, he
generally managed to sustain in his own person ;. gentle and
12 Wrong in his Head.
retiring, but not to be laughed out of what he thought right
Philip had amused himself with Louise over the remem-
brance of half-a-dozen such schemes.
A crusade against drunkenness in the town enlisted Mark
among its soldiers, but his way of making converts chiefly con-
sisted in leading home the intoxicated, and constituting him-
self a sort of gentle guardian angel of the sinner. A little
boys' society for suppressing cruelty to animals was another
scheme; but his brother had many more, Phil declared, which
never passed the limits of the author's busy mind. Rumour
at school said that Mark fasted, and rose in the night to
pray for the sick and dying, but he could not be a saint,
for now and again he missed church, and he was rarely
known to speak of holy things. Mark only acted; his con-
duct was the sole sermon he preached to men, and some-
times they read it wrongly.
Just as school life was over, came that strange refusal of
a gentlemanly profession (this was Louise's way of putting
the matter), and the fancy for pit-work. Then she had
heard that he had thrown open the little cottage where he
lived to the colliers-his one sitting-room was theirs when-
ever thay chose to visit him. They might even smoke
there, though Mark never touched pipe or cigar himself.
Oh, he was odd-very odd-wrong in his head, she was
sure. And then for him to attract an heiress-a nice-look-
ing young girl! Louise had no words for her surprise
Luckily for her own quiet of mind she had her dress to
think of, for of course she would accompany Philip to the
wedding, and see for herself how things were settled, and
how the heiress was going to bring that dreamy, queer Mark
back to the beaten path trodden by everyone else,
Wrong in his Head.
Mark Havers never put truer phrase on paper, than that
assertion he made to his brother that he and his young wife
were of one mind and of one heart.
Doris Vane had for years looked up to, and, as far as she
could, quietly followed in the footsteps of the one man who,
as it seemed to her, knew what life meant, and lived his life
by that knowledge.
Other girls wondered that this girl was content in the quiet
village, and asked for none of the usual excitements and
amusements of youth; but Doris only smiled at their words.
The true excitement of life was hers, the Christian race she
was running interested her only too deeply. She wanted no
distractions. As young people, she and the Havers's had fre-
quently met. Kind Mrs. Vane made the orphan boys free of
her house in holiday time, and Doris had had many a pleasant
ramble with the boys, many an interesting discussion with
Mark. His earnestness found a match in the young girl; she
entered into all his schemes with the keenest zest.
His transfer to Mossendale never checked this friendship.
Gentle, invalided Mrs. Vane loved the strong young fellow,
who had her comfort so much at heart, and yet who refused to
join her friends in regretting to her that long and suffering
confinement to her couch.
"Why should I pity you ?" he said one day. "You have
your work, and you are doing it bravely."
"What is her work ? said Doris, taking one of the wasted
hands in her own. She knew, but she liked to hear Mark
"' The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink
it?'" said the young fellow, reverently bowing his head. We
dare speak such words before dear friends.
Then, as the sick woman began tremblingly to avow her
imperfect likeness to the great Sufferer, he stopped her gently.
14 Wrong in his Head.
"I know-we all know-all likeness here is dark and dim,
but the principle is there, that is all-the willing suffering, the
He was a frequent visitor to the little cottage in the last
patient days of dying which fell to the lot of the sick woman,
and Doris came to hunger for the sight of his calm face and
"There is a little more for her to do on earth; try not to be
impatient, Doris," he would say, as he stood by the unconscious
"But she is past everything but suffering," the poor girl
would say, with a sob.
"Perfect through suffering, then-that is the work being
done," was the answer.
SWhen Mrs. Vane died, Doris had not time to wonder what
would become of her, since her uncle very suddenly died too,
and left her, most unexpectedly, heiress to all his fortune. Of
course she quitted Roleston and the cottage at once, and took
up her abode in London for a time. It was necessary, the
lawyers said. From thence she went to Devonshire, to the
pretty coast village where her property lay. The house was
large and roomy, facing the sea, but sadly in need of repair.
Doris had lived so entirely alone with her mother at Roleston
that she had few friends in the world without, and yet she
needed counsel. She was twenty-one, and could do as she
liked with all this money, with this large house; but she
longed for a friend to consult with, to hear her fancies, and tell
her they were not highflown and foolish.
Mark Havers would be such a friend. The Rector at Roleston
was a safe adviser. Just as Doris had reached the point of
wishing that she was a man, and could go straight to that
other man at Mossendale Pit for a half-hour's conversation,
came a letter from the Rector's sister, begging her to pay a long
Wrong in his Head. 15
visit to her old quarters. The plan fitted so well with the
young girl's wishes that she started at once, with the result we
already know-that Mark Havers -asked her to be his wife.
The world wondered at a mere colliery official daring to
aspire to the hand of "a young lady with 30,000," but Mark
in all simplicity took his own way. Doris still thought with
him. The money had not changed her, it only gave facility
to the probable carrying out of many plans dear to both their
The world will think you both wrong in your heads," said
the good Rector, smiling on the bright, strong, earnest young
couple, as they explained their ideas to him the evening before
"Never mind; if you are brave to bear such a misfortune,
who else need care?"
But we don't want to vex the world," said Doris, looking
Dear, we have left the straight road of thought," said Mark
quietly; "it isn't what the world thinks we have to do with;
what we think is right to do is sufficient for us to consider.
Now sing us something, if you will; all the signing and seal-
ing of tb-day wants singing away," he said, smiling.
The wedding went off capitally." So Mrs. Louise reported
to her friends. Mark was really a very handsome fellow in his
frock-coat-not so much style as Philip, but still to be admired;
and Doris looked lady-like in her plain grey dress and straw
hat-not a dress, of course, for an heiress; but really the pair
had such odd ideas it was a mercy the girl had not chosen to
be married in her mourning. Then the breakfast at the Rectory
was very agreeable. The Marquis from The Towers was there,
and two or three others of the best of the gentry. Mark was
respected in his way, and, though Mr. and Mrs. Jones from the
Wrong in his Head.
school were present too, and Mr. Smith, a retired tradesman, she
believed, still the company was sufficiently genteel. Perhaps
Mrs. Philip Havers's enjoyment was heightened by the fact
that the Marquis was placed next at table to her, and was
kindly attentive to the pleasant-looking young woman.
After the breakfast came a children's tea, Doris's enter-
tainment; and later a pitmen's supper, but the newly-
married pair were not present, the Rector taking the chair.
And all this was as it should be, said Philip-nothing odd in
that; but he did hope that,by-and-bye, Mark would see that it
was his duty to look higher than this.
Yes, Phil, yes, I hope so," said Mark, with that dreamy,
far-away manner which used almost to irritate Louise.
You never know what he means," she would say, and she
was right as regarded herself.
Still the parting was very friendly when Phil Havers and
his wife drove off in the Roleston fly, and Mark and Doris,
according to a pre-arranged plan, started on a three-mile walk
to Mark's bachelor cottage.
It was thought very odd of him to bring the bride there,
but to have found a new house in a hurry would have been
very unpleasant; "and why should we begin our married life
with an unpleasantness?" said sensible Doris.
The respectable widow and her young daughter, who had
been Mark's caretakers up to this time, need not be disturbed,
and, by-and-bye, they could arrange that larger establishment
which perhaps it would be wise to have.
So they took their quiet way through the ripe corn-fields,
Doris rejoicing that they met no one.
"And if we were to meet any one, we are doing no harm,"
said Mark; which was so true that both laughed, so as to
rouse Lucy, their tiny waiting-maid, watching for them in the
Wrong in his Head. 17
Only she did not do her duty and drop a curtsey to her new
mistress; instead of that, she ran indoors in shy haste to tell her
mother that master had come, and the new lady" with him.
AND now how did Mr. and Mrs. Mark Havers, that very odd
couple, behave themselves in their new sphere of married life ?
They'll just settle down like all the rest of us," prophesied
one and another. "Cranks and fancies are for youth, not for
steady married folk."
But Mark's first fancy held ground; he never gave up his
post in the colliery office, and Doris and he were very happy in
the cottage where he had lived as a humble bachelor. Still he
had an architect out from Manchester, and he drew plans, and
Doris and he spent long hours with their heads over the lined
and dotted sheets, and after a time Mossendale said, "They
are going to build!"
But where ? Not ten minutes' walk from the pit mouth!
Yes, it was actually true. There, sure enough, a fair-sized
mansion began to rise, well and strongly built, though not
"There isn't to be a sham about the place," was the rumour
now; "no scamped work, to flawed stones, no grained deal to
represent walnut, nothing but what is real, good, true."
A small grove of fair-sized trees flanked the new house;
under their shade the ground was levelled and gravelled, and
in due course seats, benches, and sheltered summer or winter
houses began to develop themselves out of the chaos.
The house was curiously arranged, thought the casual ob-
server. "Surely this drawing-room is larger than you need ?"
openly observed a friend,
Wrong in his Head.
"Not too large for our purpose," answered Mark.
And presently the purpose was made manifest. This house
was truly the dwelling-place of Mr. and Mrs. Mark Havers,
but it was also to be a resort for the colliers. The great house-
room, as Mark called it, was to be their room whenever they
chose; honoured guests they would be, books and pictures
placed there for their use as much as for the master's. Doris
had a chair and table in one window, too, and sat there most
evenings while Mark went round and talked to one and another
of his visitors. In winter the room was well warmed and
lighted; in summer the guests seemed to prefer the pavilion
under the trees. In either place the big fellows might smoke
-to deprive them of their pipes would have prevented their
There were no lectures given in the room, no distinct attempt
to improve the men, but Mark found out the tastes of one and
another; and helped those wishful to improve, to bring to light
their sleeping desires for knowledge. A large telescope was
brought out on starlight nights to the astonishment and delight
of many. Newspapers lay on- the tables, maps hung on the
walls illustrating them. Mark had one or two highly-educated
friends, who came quietly in and helped him in talking to and
interesting his men; Doris had a girl acquaintance or two, who
sang and played for the music-loving Yorkshiremen; and so the
oddly-regulated household lived on in peace and brotherly love.
Some smiled, some scoffed at it.
"Wait till the children come, this sort of thing can't go on
then," said all.
But the babies did come- one, two, three downy-headed
things, who trotted about in fair white frocks, and laid chubby
hands on the knees of their pit friends; and such rough words
as sometimes cropped up, despite place and surroundings, were
hushed before the master's bairas,
TVronlg in his Head. 19
For Mark was master now; he and Doris had become part
proprietors of the Mossendale Pit. Mark found that, thoroughly
to carry out his plans, he must take this step. Without
desiring it, or making it in any way his object, he realized, too,
that he was becoming a rich man; but still, he neither added
to his house, nor altered his manner of living. His wife had
her pony carriage, he his light cart for use; no grand equipages
dazzled the eyes of Mossendale. Only the Devonshire house,
which, in the early days of their married life, had been repaired
and let, now falling into their hands again, Doris put in a plea
for her favourite scheme.
I should like to take the children there for a few weeks in
every year for sea-bathing," she said; and, Mark, if you
think well, we might have poor little town children staying
there, too, for fresh air and feeding up. I should like that; it
would not be foolish, would it ? "
"Foolish! it would be very wise," said Mark, -smiling.
" But we will begin quietly, and see what income can be
devoted to the scheme."
So Doris went down and looked over the old house, and
counted up the number of little cots it would accommodate,
followed everywhere by her own three darlings; and then she
chose her housekeeper, a child-loving, teaching-weary gover-
ness; and one summer's evening she drove a hay-carpeted cart
to the little wayside station to meet her batch of white-faced,
sickly London children, coming into the country for the first
time in their lives.
Oh how they enjoyed those weeks of liberty and country
joys, and how kind Doris's eyes shone as she saw- the wan
cheeks colour, and the feeble limbs strengthen on the good
She had to leave the happy party in a short time to return
to her husband and the pit mouth, but Miss Wrench and
20 Wrong in his Head.
Rhoda, her eldest girl, of ten, would carry out her plans, and
receive, all through the summer and autumn, the fresh in.
stalments of city little ones.
"Mark, GOD is too good to us to give us the power of
making so many happy," she said, as her husband met her
at Mossendale station.
He smiled a happy smile, which changed into one of intense
"Child," he said, drawing a letter out of his pocket, "do
you know what the world calls our pet plans ?-madness!
You don't look mad to-night, my Doris, and I don't feel
mad, but Philip thinks it his duty to remonstrate. We
are ruining our children's prospects by this new fancy, he
We are not trenching on our original capital, are we,
Mark ?" asked his wife.
"No !" he said simply.
"And Georgy is to have the house and the colliery when
we have done our work, and Rhoda and little Hugh will have
sufficient portions; is not that enough ? "
Quite enough for you and me and the children, but not
enough for society, Doris."
Oh, Mark you are laughing at me; you know we can
never quite satisfy Mr. and Mrs. Philip."
Then we are to go to the end of our days with our wild
scheme, are we ? spending our riches, not garnering them up,
to make our children millionaires ? "
"If you please, Mark," said Doris, gently.
"Then I must write to Philip and tell him so."
I am afraid that Mark Havers's letter to his brother only
made the latter gentleman more certain that the Yorkshire
coal proprietor was decidedly becoming more and more wrong
in his head, for Mark assured Philip that his money, far from
Wrong in his Head.
being squandered, was put out at the best interest; that his
children would all inherit large properties, and that Doris and
he never lost sight of the main object in life. "In fact, we
are very careful, cautious, provident people, and next time you
come to see us I will make this plain to you. Meantime send
the lads down for a fortnight's canter on the pit ponies," was
the last line of the letter.
Philip's town boys enjoyed nothing more than a visit to
Uncle Mark. He was quite different to everyone else," they
said; "but oh, awfully kind "
Ten years have gone by. Philip Havers has steadily
climbed up the ladder of life, and now he draws an income
little less than that of his brother. But there'the likeness
between their lives ends. Philip lives in a much grander house
than Mark, he has more and smarter carriages, and his wife
is a much showier person than quiet little Doris. He is push-
ing his boys well, too: Edgar is just entering a cavalry regi-
ment, Lionel is at Oxford, Philip at Eton, his two girls are at
a fshionable school.
Mark's eldest boy is with him in the colliery office; Hugh
means to be a doctor. Rhoda has never been to school; she
is an intelligent girl, brighter perhaps than her mother ever
was, yet with all her mother's sweet staid content.
"These children have been shamefully neglected," says
Philip, but yet they have not turned out badly."
The cousins are fond of each other. Edgar has been a good
deal at Mossendale in his holidays; he adores Uncle Mark
despite his crotchets, he will tell you; and well he may, for
Uncle Mark has helped him over not one slough only of his
careless boy life-helped him with this world's coin, and given
him what was worth more, too, honest, kindly advice, which
the affectionate but reckless fellow tries hard to follow.
Uncle Mark has got hold of the real thing somehow," he
Wrong in his Head.
said one day to his brother Lionel. "I don't know what it is, but
I'd give my commission and my new sword to get hold of it too."
"Religion ?" questions Lionel.
"Not what most people call religion," returns his elder
brother; "a stiff sort of thing that always rides atop of a man,
and won't mix with his life. No, Leo, I don't mean that.
Uncle Mark hasn't got Sunday religion of that sort; what he
has, he gets up and goes to bed with, every day of the
week, he laughs with it, as well as prays with it."
"Why, Edgar," remonstrates Leo, you're preaching quite
Yes, and Uncle Mark's the text. I don't want a better;
he inspires me. I love Uncle Mark," says the hearty lad; "I
wish I was like him."
Wonder what father would think to hear you say that! "
is the reply.
For Philip Havers, senior, still holds his old opinion about
Mark's wrong-headedness. Mark is always doing unbusiness-
like things, always neglecting the main chance for himself and
for his children, and it provokes the elder brother that yet he
is so quiet and happy in his odd life. Whether the fellow's
schemes succeed or no, he is never disturbed; if they fail, he
just starts again on much the same tack.
"I'm going to run down to Mossendale to-day," announced
the prosperous Liverpool merchant one morning to his stout,
but still pretty wife.
What for ? asked Louise, carelessly.
And, "What for, father P I'll go too," responded young
Lieutenant Edgar, home on leave for forty-eight hours.
Business matter-capital thing," replied Mr. Philip
Havers. Don't suppose Mark will go in for it, but I think
he should know- one of our largest line of steamers-contract
for coal," he murmured over his papers.
Wrong in iis Head. 23
"The pit's doing splendidly, isn't it ?" asked the wife.
"Yes," returned Philip, absently; "but there's some talk
of a check. Mark wants to stop taking the coal out of the
"What nonsense!" declared Mrs. Philip. One of his
fancies, I suppose. I wonder he is not tired of them."
"I shall hear about it," said her husband. I want a day
in the country ; the office tires one this fine weather."
Mark received his brother with the old smile of quiet
affection; perhaps it shone a little more brightly on his
admiring young nephew.
"You'll have to sit under the trees, though, this warm
day, and content yourself with Doris and George," he said to
the pair, "for I have made an appointment which will keep
me in the pit all day. Carlyon,'the engineer, is here. I am
not satisfied about the workings approaching so near Marlmere
Pit, which was closed before my day as unsafe. I have found
an old map, which shows the exact locality of those workings.
The new maps seem to be in error."
More likely the old is wrong," said Philip. "It's your
richest seam, isn't it, Mark ? It would make a great difference
to your incoming if you stopped work there."
Mark nodded, adding, "I must be off. Very sorry, Phil,
to leave you, as you come but seldom, but Doris there must
Look here, Mark, I'll go down with you," said Mr. Philip
Havers; "I shall enjoy it. I haven't been down a coal-pit
since I was fifteen."
You'll go down the pit P said Mark, surprised.
"Yes, and I'll go too," declared Edgar. "Where's George ?
It'll be a lark. Come, too, Cousin Rhoda."
But Doris and Cousin Rhoda could not go, and objected
to losing both their visitors in the pit depth, so Edgar was
24 Wrong in his Head.
prevailed on to remain above ground, and the twins walked
off together, as fine a pair of men as might be seen on a
The engineer was already below, so they followed after,
assuming an overdress which should thoroughly guard their
clothes. Mark explained the case to Philip. He was fighting
his overseers. Fearing danger, he wished to stop the taking
of coal out of the rich seam under Marlmere; they thought
him an alarmist, and he had sent for Carlyon to settle the
Mr. Carlyon was in the underground office, with the two
maps before him. The discrepancies between them were
extraordinary; he had been employing some tests on the spot
in question, and he almost feared that the old reckoning--
"Is right," Mark broke in; "I am sure of it, The men
must be stopped at once, Send word-or stay, I will go-I
should like to visit the place once more. Will you come,
Philip ? Don't hurry, Carlyon, take your lunch first; my
wife has sent you some."
And through the dark passages of the coal-pit the twins
moved on again, side by side.
Very grim and ghostly is a coal-mine at the best of times;
but Philip could bear the sight, since it meant wealth and
prosperity; and to Mark it was the spot where his daily work
lay, where the men given to his keeping chiefly dwelt.
They reached the dark vault under consideration. Mark
stopped work by a word, and ordered the men to another part
of the pit.
"There must be no risk run," he said, in answer to
murmurs. The very workers were proud of their splendid
seam, and regretted leaving it.
He lingered a little while explaining matters to Philip and
waiting for Carlyon; then, as he did not appear, they began
Wrong in his Head. 25
to saunter quietly back, following a crowd of grimy men and
boys towards the office.
All at once, without a moment's warning, a strange cold
blast of wind overtook them, so powerful that it flung them
all to the ground, while a low, dull roar in the distance told
of some disaster.
What is it ?" cried Philip, trying to make his voice
heard in the wild chaos of sounds. Mark! Mark! where
are you ?"
Here said a quiet voice in the darkness, for all lamps
were extinguished by the blast. And then from the lips of
an old pitman came the despairing cry, "Master! mates!
save yourselves! it's the water from Marlmere broke in. I
know the sound! it'll be on us fly for your lives! "
ILL news travels fast. That summer's day was yet in its full
glory when Edgar and George Havers, lying chatting under
the trees at Mossendale, saw a man run up in hot haste, with
a face whiter and more ashen than snow at dawn, and the
whole fatal truth was told in a gasp.
The pit was flooded-Marlmere had broken in- a number
of the men were caught by the water, among them the master
and his brother. A crowd of fugitives flying for dear life were
brought up the shaft by every cage, all telling the same story.
Mr. Carlyon was among the saved-saved as by a miracle,
for he was on the point of joining the party when the alarm
The poor lads fixed on him in their despair; he must, he
could rescue their dear ones. They were wild with agony.
And then, amongst the throng of weeping women and awe-
26 Wrong in his Head.
stricken men at the pit mouth, appeared two pale, breathless
creatures, Doris and Rhoda. They had heard the news.
"Go home, go home! you can do nothing here!" cried
"Hush, my boy! we can watch and pray," said his aunt,
in her quiet voice. "Do you think I do not remember they
are in their Father's hands."
And after the first half-hour of almost paralysed anguish,
Doris did help. There were forty-five men missing, as well
as the master and his brother; and besides supporting the
mourners, arrangements had hastily to be made for the treat-
ment of such as might be rescued.
But, alas! the rescue seemed far off. Some, doubtless, of
the missing might be alive, but shut up in a far corner of the
pit, hemmed in by the waters, to die of slow starvation or
suffocation. It would take days to pump out the water, if it
could be done at all.
Young George Havers came to the front now-cool, calm,
almost stern; he would not be stunned by the enormity of the
"You say the attempt to rescue is all but hopeless; there-
fore, there is hope. Set to work at once," he commanded, and
the engineer obeyed the lad.
One, two, three days of imprisonment in total darkness,
almost without food. Was this to be the end of "poor
Havers's twins?" Strange fatality that should link them
thus in the end as well as in the beginning of life !
Philip and Mark Havers found themselves the centre of a
little band in their part of the pit: fifteen men and one boy
all in a second brought face to face with death, and shut out
from communication with the world above.
They had all hoped at first; tried this and that passage,
Wrong in his Head. 27
only to be turned back by the relentless waters; and now, on
the third day, they had crept together to die, master and man,
without distinction, the pitman's thirteen-year-old child with
his hand clasped in that of Mark Havers. Philip was wild,
almost out of his mind in the anguish of despair; other men
-rough, ignorant fellows-joined their cries to his; the child
sobbed in chorus.
It was an awful moment; but if Mark's face could have
been seen in the darkness, the peace of heaven would have
been found illuminating it.
He had fought for life too, struggled and prayed for the
boon so dear to all, but the conflict was over. GOD's will,
not his own, be done. Only one more duty remained: he
must calm this flock of frightened souls around him. Some
were praying for mercy, others asking a little longer life, and
promising their Maker service-worship-if He would only
spare them-a Babel of miserable outcries.
Suddenly a clear voice was raised among the crowd, and
Mark Havers spoke:-
"My men, be still, I have something to say; GOD is
calling to you and me in this darkness. Let me answer
Him for you. Kneel."
He felt that every man knelt; he could not see them.
I cannot give Mark Havers's prayer here. Suffice it to
say he spoke to no angry GoD, but to a loving Father, One
who still cared for and watched over this frightened few on
whom His hand had fallen.
Then he rose up and addressed the men, quietly and steadily,
Philip listening as eagerly as the rest.
"My men," he said, many of you have not served Gon
in life, so you fear His punishment now. You have reason.
A child does fear punishment; it hurts him. But a
father punishes to make his child better, not to destroy him,
28 Wrong in his Head.
and GOD has sent you this punishment to better you. How
can you do better in this pit of darkness, do you ask ? I will
tell you. You can submit to His will, you can die because He
asks you to die. You need not fear death, however bad you
have been, if you are sorry and desire to repent now, because
Our LORD came to save sinners. Believe that, and try to copy
your SAvIOUR. How? By yielding up yourselves. You
have yet yourselves to give to Him in thanks for Himself.
You can give your spirit, your will. Lord, I gire mine; I
give it ; Thou knowest."
The words broke all unconsciously from Maik Havers. It
was the last conscious sacrifice of his life-a life, rich man
though he was, he had secretly given up to sacrifice.
The words were followed by an- outburst that sounded like
an echo from each mouth in the darkness-
"I give my life, too ; LORD, take it."
Only Philip could not join in the cry; a wild impatience and
horror still possessed him ; he did not understand his brother
as these rough colliers seemed to. do. He was not lifted up as
they were on the wings of rapturous self-oblation. He could
no longer speak to Mark either, and ask him whence came his
happy confidence, for Mark (probably the weakest of the party,
save the lad) had sunk down in exhaustion, and was now wan-
dering in mind, every now and then talking of far-away scenes
The pitmen listened to such murmurings from their beloved
master with bated breath. Even now he said things which
gave them comfort.
"I am glad I saw it from a child, that life is the road to
Heaven, not a place to stay in. I was always going on, on-
only a means to an end-and we must all die. Why not
now, thus-? Wrong was I? wrong in the head? Ah,
well! wrong on earth may mean right up above, in the light.
Wrong in his Head. 29
Is the light come ? Ah, no A little while yet. LoRD, I
will have patience. I thank Thee that Thou dost permit me
to give my life to Thee. Give it, my men; give it, and thank
GOD you have something to give Him," he said more loudly.
And the men cried again, like a response in service time,
"Yes, master, we give it. Amen, Amen."
They lay side by side, the poor fellows, chilled, feeble,
breathing every moment with greater difficulty the foul air of
the place. As the darkness counted other days and nights,
one and another grew more silent and colder, and his fellows
painfully carried the dead body to a short distance.
Mark was silent now, but still breathing; the boy's head
was on his breast. He had roused once to answer Philip's
agonised cry, Mark, I can't die; I am not ready to go," with
a satisfied murmur-
Don't be afraid, then; He won't take you."
And on that word the wretched man leaned as on a
Mossendale village was deserted on the sixth day after the
calamity. The rescue party were close to the imprisoned
miners, could communicate with the survivors, could even pass
in food and stimulants to them.
But, awful thought, whose beloved were among the dead,
whose amongst the living ? A little later and the cry went up
at the pit mouth, They are free; they are bringing them
up and a hush like death heralded the first drawing up of
the cage with the saved.
The little lad, utterly senseless, his face shining like a corpse's
through the coal-dust which grimed it, was the first to be
brought to the light; then a half-dozen colliers, all more or
less in a state of collapse; then the twin brothers. Mark was
dead, the whisper went round; Philip hardly conscious. The
Wrong in his Head.
rest of the party were quite beyond hope. Doris, after one
look at the beloved face lying on the stretcher, submitted
quietly to being placed by George in her pony-carriage and
driven back to the house, where all was ready for her darling
to be brought to her. The doctor had whispered in her ear
that he was still alive-just alive.
She needed to hear no more. She knew everything-knew
that he would only be given back to her for hours, minutes
perhaps-and yet she was calm.
Mark Havers died that evening on his own bed, a smile
of ineffable happiness on his face, his wife and the children
that GOD had given him round him. He had never spoken;
his last words had been those in the pit.
And Doris gave this also to her GOD-the offering of his
last words, which had not been hers, his wife's, but another's.
Philip Havers lay hovering between life and death for
many a long week. Doris nursed him most tenderly; she was
a born nurse. Louise, his wife, was but a frightened, anxious
woman. The "one that was left": rose up from his sick bed
a creature in all respects different to the confident business
man who went down Mossendale Pit that awful July day.
Now he followed his brother's wife like a shadow, asking
her, "Tell me this. How did he do that? What did he
think of that ? Talk to me about Mark."
Yes, the proud man of the world would fain learn how the
brother wrong in his head had lived his life-would fain
tread in his footsteps before it was too late. And Doris was
ready enough to tell; it was like continuing Mark's work,
thus helping another. Had it been pain to speak of him she
would have done it, for she shared all her husband's feeling
of the glory and happiness of self-sacrifice. But it was not
pain; it was pure, unspeakable joy.
"I thought him foolish, and I have been the fool," said
Wrong in his Head. 31
Philip to this true woman. "Doris, what shall I do? Is
there any hope for me ?"
Philip," said Doris, gently, why was he taken and you
"Because he was ready and I was not. I must make
ready," was the slow answer. "What is that text, Doris ?
' Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the
Son of Man cometh.' Mark was always looking for Him,
wasn't he ?"
"Looking and longing," said Doris, with a smile on her
worn face. "Philip, I can't believe that his life is ended. I
don't believe it. I know he lives still the same warm, loving
life, only fuller, more real, and hidden from my eyes for a
"He was always happy ?" questioned Philip.
"Always," said Doris. "How could he help it? GoD had
given him so much joy, and the great happiness of being able
to work for Him. I think," she continued, with beaming face,
" he must have been the servant with the ten talents, who
made other ten, for so many have come forward in these last
days to tell of the good he has done."
He was rich-as rich as I am," murmured Philip.
"Yes; but the riches were all for GOD; he was only the
steward of them; he has often said so, and taught our children
"And I-I have trusted in riches," said Philip, bitterly.
Oh, there is a wide gulf, truly, between the rich man who
treats his wealth as a trust from GOD, and he who trusts in
the gold itself for joy and comfort in life!
Slowly and painfully Philip Havers came to realise this
truth, and to see that, rich man as he had been, Mark had
still chosen the better part of life, which death could never
snatch from him.
32 Wrong in his Head.
In the light of eternity how clear and right now seemed
Mark Havers's strange deeds; his lavishing of money on the
poor, his sharing of GOD's good gifts with those less fortunate.
Those foolish investments in mere charity schemes, at which
Philip had once scoffed, how wise they seemed now!
And self-denying as the dead man had been, GOD had yet
given him happiness in this world as well as the hope of
eternal bliss hereafter.
"I used to say he was wrong in his head, Doris," was
Philip's frequently repeated confession; but, oh! how strongly
I feel now that he was in the right, while I was blinded by
selfishness, and pride, and self-seeking. GoD help me to learn
to live like Mark."
1 HAT bells are those, Nesta?" The voice was a
languid one, and came from a lady no longer
J1 j) young, though still possessing the remains of
"- great personal loveliness, and who now lay with
half-closed eyes on the sofa in what had been the "keeping-
room" in the days when Bryn-Arthur had been a small farm-
house; but now that the land had been let off and the farm-
house transformed into a pretty cottage, the room, comfortably
carpeted with soft rugs and with tender-coloured curtains, was
an apartment no Belgravian lady need have despised. Any-
one might, indeed, have envied the view from the three slate
mullioned windows-the great Welsh hills rising so abruptly
in the background, whilst a dashing, boisterous stream made
leaps and bends through the meadow-land in the foreground,
and at a little distance rose the old grey tower of Pengwern
Church, whose bells were at this moment pealing, joyously
through the air.
"Why, mother!" exclaimed the fresh voice of a young girl,
in answer to the previous question, "you have surely not for-
gotten that it is to-day that Miss Williams is married;" and
as she spoke she placed a soft fleecy shawl across her mother's
shoulders, and then opened the window to listen to the joy-
bells and to enjoy the bright autumn sunshine.
"How sweet they sound !" she continued, as she stood there.
the sun making her bright hair shine like burnished gold; "and
what lovely weather! I am glad the bride should have so fine
a day; a wet wedding always seems such a sad beginning of a
Nesta's voice was bright and cheerful, yet she hastily
brushed away a tear as she stood still leaning against the
window, straining her ears to catch the sounds which the
autumn breeze bore somewhat fitfully on its bosom.
"If your head ached as mine does," languidly answered
Mrs. Couridine, "you would not be so surprised at my not
remembering whose particular wedding-day it may happen to
be. Pray shut the window, Nesta; the glare this morning is
Nesta gently closed the window, and, half drawing the cur-
tain to further shade the invalid, she said tenderly,-
"You are suffering more than usual, mother darling. Let
me fetch some eau-de-cologne, and bathe your head;" and she
disappeared for a minute into the inner room.
"No, no; that does no good!" declared her mother fret-
fully. "Amuse me, Nesta; tell me something-anything.
I feel so weary, always lying here, seeing no one."
Nesta sat down on a low stool by the sofa, and began at
once: "Would you like to hear about Miss Williams' pre-
sents, mother? I went up to the Hall yesterday, and saw
them all. My eyes were quite dazzled with the gold bracelets,
the diamond tiara, and the silver tea service; and I don't
know how many lockets, and bangles, and vases, and brooches
were not laid out on the library tables."
"Why do you call her Miss Williams?" inquired Mrs.
Couridine, in a half-vexed tone. "She used to be 'Isabel'
when you were at school together. Has she grown too proud
to care for you to use her Christian name, now that we are no
longer the Couridines of Couridine Hall ?"
Sir A nold.
"No, indeed, mother! Isabel is, and ever will be, the same
loving friend that she was in our old school-days. I don't
know why I called her Miss Williams. I have got into that
way from hearing everyone else say it, and I have not seen her
much lately; she has been, of course, so absorbed in her
lover. But, however, after to-day she will be Miss Williams
no longer, but Lady Carleon-a far prettier name, is it not ?"
"I wonder she did not ask you to be one of her brides-
maids!" sighed Mrs. Couridine, who, poor woman, was fond
of seeking for grievances. Such friends as you always were,
and she so much at Couridine Hall. Ah! poverty distances
many friends, and I do not need to be reminded that Bryn-
Arthur is not Couridine."
The last part of this speech was lost upon Nesta, for she had
moved away at the mention of bridesmaids; the fact being,
that Isabel Williams had warmly urged her old friend to be
one of the number, but Nesta had refused, chiefly on the plea
of her mother's ill health; but she did not wish her to know
this, as she would probably have insisted upon the girl's
accepting the offer, and then have moaned and fretted herself
into a serious illness on account of her own inability to partake
of the joys of others.
Mrs. Couridine had been in her youth remarkably hand-
some, and, being an only child, was all but idolized by her
parents; and when she married, it was but to experience a
continuation of the same unreasoning affection, for Mr. Couri-
dine was so fascinated by his wife's wondrous beauty, that he
never attempted to deny her anything she wished. Thus
sheltered, like a hot-house flower, from the rude but strength-
ening blasts of everyday life, she was but ill prepared for
sorrow; and when it came, it all but shattered her. Her
husband died suddenly from a chill caught out shooting, and
his affairs were found to be in such a disordered state, that but
4 Sir A rnold.
little remained for the wife and only daughter to live upon.
The Hall had to be left; gardeners, grooms, and household
servants received a sudden dismissal; Nesta was summoned
home from the expensive school at Brighton, where she, in
company with Miss Williams, the heiress of the rich old
bachelor of Castle Craigy, was receiving her education; and
life was begun on far different lines at the little house called
Bryn-Arthur. Mrs. Couridine was overpowered by the double
blow of her husband's death and the loss of her fortune; she
gradually adopted the habits of a confirmed invalid, and,
although not suffering from any specified disease, she allowed
her mind so to affect her body, that it became enfeebled, and
exertion of any sort was nearly impossible to her; all house-
hold care, and, indeed, everything requiring exertion or
thought, was left to Nesta-a bright, brave girl in her twen-
And now Nesta returned, bearing a dainty little tray, with
the cup of chocolate and the strips of toast, which it was the
mother's custom to take in the middle of the morning. She
placed the tray on the table by the sofa, waited a few minutes
to see that all was right, and then said gently, Can you
spare me for half-an-hour, mother ? I will place the bell by
your side, and Anna will come the instant you ring. I want
to run down to the village to see- "
"I cannot bear that clumsy woman about me!" broke in
Mrs. Couridine, with more energy than usual. Why must
you go out just now, Nesta? Will not the afternoon do? I
shall take a nap then, as usual, and should not miss you; but
pray do not leave me at the mercy of that old woman just this
morning, when, as you yourself allowed, I am suffering more
Nesta had to wait a minute before she could command her
voice sufficiently to answer in her usual gentle tones,-
Sir Arnold. 5
"Very well, mother; I will not leave you." But the dis-
appointment was keen.
She had a girlish longing to see her old schoolfellow
married; and, try as she might to conquer herself, she could
not help feeling as if the scented air of that drawing-room
would stifle her, and she longed intensely to be out in the
breezy autumn sunshine. But not till the early dinner was
over, and Nesta had settled her mother comfortably for her
afternoon nap, was she free. And now the freedom seemed to
have come too late; the girl was jaded and sad-she hardly
could say why-and the still pealing bells seemed, by their
joyous sounds, only to increase her melancholy feelings. She
slowly walked through the hall, and, taking a shady hat from
one of the hooks, passed on into the little garden, which owed
all its grace and brightness to her fostering care. To-day,
however, the blooming asters and late roses were passed all
unheeded by, and, throwing herself upon the old seat under
the mulberry-tree, she gave way to bitter tears.
Nesta was, however, of too brave and healthy a spirit to
waste her time in useless repining; she now began seriously
to take herself to task for her melancholy-half feeling as
if she were scolding some silly girl, not Nesta Couridine
What are you moping and pining about ?" she asked her-
self. "You are well, and have no special trial to undergo.
It must be your own fault if you feel miserable." And having
administered this salutary reproof, she jumped up from the
seat, as if resolved to try what active exertion would do to
restore her mind to a more happy tone, and was soon crooning
softly to herself as she gathered a bunch of the gay autumn
flowers-all the more precious to us all -for the thought that
they would so soon be gone; and, meanwhile, soothing
thoughts were vouchsafed to her: "Thou camest not into
thy place by accident; it is the very place God meant for
The very place God meant for me Then He has some
work for me to do, and His work will be better than the
worldly honours I craved for myself." The thought smoothed
away the last knot in Nesta's broad forehead; the pealing
bells no longer saddened her; nay, she caught herself actually
smiling at the thought of the excitable Isabel choosing so
grave a husband, and wondered what could have been the
"When I marry- Again she smiled, remembering
the old saying, that a woman always talks of when I marry,"
whilst a man says i/." But the sentence was never finished,
even in her own mind; for at that moment the garden-gate
swung back, and Isabel's old nurse walked heavily up the
"You good nursie!" exclaimed Nesta, as she ran to meet
the old woman; "you've come to tell me all about the wed-
ding; but sit down first and rest, whilst I get you a cup
Wait a bit, Miss Nesta. Let me give my message first,
and then I won't deny I should like a quiet cup of tea; for
the racket up at the Castle is fearful, and quiet is not to be
had at any price. Miss Isabel-or, I should say, Lady Car-
leon-sends you her very best love, and she was so disap-
pointed not to see you to-day, and she's sent you her wedding
bouquet; it's here-she put it in this basket with her very
own hands, whilst her grand new maid was fidgeting round to
change her dress to go off; and the cake, too, she sent me
down for that, and said- Oh, yes! I remember, she's
written you a bit of a note, Miss Nesta; it's there among the
flowers-it's just in pencil. She wrote it at her dressing-
table, as the maid was taking off her veil; and a pretty job
she must have had, with Miss Isabel's head never still a
minute The garrulous old woman stopped for sheer want of
breath, and Nesta ran her eye quickly over the tiny note:-
"DEAREST NESTA,--I am married now; and, do you know,
Nettie, I half wish I wasn't. I looked round for you in
church, but I could not see you. I wanted you, of all people,
to be there. You must do this for me (I can't write or think
to-day): but make me a sketch of the old church where we
were both christened and confirmed, and now- Nesta, am
I wicked? I could wish I were you.
Nesta felt sorry as she read this hurried scrawl of the
bride's. It was not so, she instinctively felt, that a girl
should write on her wedding-day; but Isabel had ever been
a puzzle to Nesta even in her school-days; and since she had
left school and come out, as the saying goes, Nesta had even
less been able to fathom her friend's heart. Still, friends they
were, and ever would be; for Nesta truly loved the impulsive,
generous-minded Isabel, whilst Isabel, for her part, clung to
Nesta, as the one being who, in her neglected, motherless
girlhood, had ever helped her in her stumbling, restless
struggles towards the better life.
Two years have passed without, however, bringing much
outward change into the life of Nesta Couridine. She is still
the devoted daughter, content to pass her life in the dull
Welsh village, her days taken up in attending to the various
wants-real and imaginary-of her mother. Yet Nesta can
find time to help others also, as many a poor hard-working
woman would tell you. The Vicar's wife, perhaps the hardest
worked woman of them all, often declares that but for Nesta
she does not know how she should have managed; for the
poor lady has indeed a difficult task with ten small children,
and her still smaller income. There was one subject at least
on which both the Vicarage boys and girls were agreed,
and that was, that Nesta was a brick." (There were but
three girls to seven boys in that household, which must be the
excuse for the slang words that occasionally crept into their
vocabulary.) It was Nesta again who had infected the eldest
boy with some of her enthusiasm for learning, and induced
him to try for one of the scholarships at a public school; and,
thanks to her patient teaching, the lad actually came out
first on the list, to his own intense surprise, and the no less
intense gratification of his parents. It was Nesta again who
helped the lame daughter of the village tailor to a knowledge
of music, of which the poor child was passionately fond; and
she so interested Mrs. Couridine in her account of little
Theresa's talents, that the. apathetic lady roused herself, and
declared that Nesta was not teaching on the best method, and
finally herself undertook the musical education of the child ;
and much as Theresa benefited by the real talent of Mrs.
Couridine, that lady reaped no less benefit from her pupil; for
she imparted an interest into a life that had hitherto hinged
too much on one object, and that object-self.
It had been an intensely hot summer-even at Pengwern
the heat had been greatly felt, though the air blew fresh off
the mountains, and the Atlantic was not so far off but that
some people would aver they could even taste the sea-salt in
the air! In the towns the suffering had been great, sun-
strokes had been of almost daily occurrence, and on the
Continent the cholera raged with an energy that it seemed
almost impossible to cope with.
Mrs. Couridine-always nervous-became almost beside
herself with fear, as the cholera crept slowly but surely up
the map, and everyday grew nearer and nearer to our shores.
She studied the papers-at least those portions that bore on
the subject, with the deepest interest; she knew exactly how
many victims died at each place, and what town would pro-
bably be the next to suffer. It was in vain that Nesta strove
to keep her from dwelling so much on these grim details; all
other subjects seemed to have lost their interest, and the good
lady actually forgot to dwell upon her own symptoms whilst
describing the progress of the dreaded disease.
"Nesta !" she exclaimed one morning as she stood at the
open window watching for the postman, there is that tire-
some creature stopping again to gossip with old Mrs. Richards
at the turnpike, and it will be noon before I get my paper. I
shall really have to complain to the authorities, if this goes
I'll run and get the paper from him," said Nesta, at once
putting down some work she was doing for a newly-arrived
.baby in the village; and regardless of the blazing sun, she
ran swiftly across the little lawn, and down the dusty lane, and
claimed the paper from the astonished old Evan Evans, who
was accustomed to take matters very leisurely; and long after
Nesta was back again with the coveted journal, he was con-
tinuing his story of the delinquencies of one Owen Griffith, who
would allow his donkey to stray into other folks' gardens.
"Owen Griffith," says I, "it's not me, who've dandled you
on my knees, to speak harshly to you; but know this, Owen
Griffith, if that donkey of yours can't be kept at home, I,
Evan Evans, will have to take measures-'deed, and that's
what I said, Mrs. Richards--and I thought that you, whose
258) A 2
10 Sir Arnold.
own husband was cousin's son to Owen's father, should be the '
first to hear of it."
"Indeed !" said Mrs. Richards, cautiously refraining from
committing herself by any further expression.
Meanwhile Mrs. Couridine had torn the paper open with
feverish excitement, and turned at once to a particular column.
"Listen to this, Nesta!" she exclaimed; "just give me
your attention for one minute,-' The cholera, having almost
decimated Southern Europe, is making rapid strides upward.
Already has it spread to Lille, Amiens, and several other of
the northern towns of France, and there is a rumour of a
suspicious case in one of the hospitals at Berlin. Should it
gain a footing in Germany, England must be prepared for the
worst, as it has always been through Germany that the cholera
has reached our shores.' "
"Well, mother," said Nesta, soothingly, "there is only a
rumour of a case at Berlin; it may prove to be false."
"Do not interrupt me," said Mrs. Couridine excitedly; I
had not finished:-' Latest Telegram.-Three cases of cholera
have occurred at Berlin, and two at Darmstadt.' There,
Nesta you see the rumour was not so false, after all. Now
what must we do ?"
This question, which indeed was so rarely asked by Mrs.
Couridine, quite surprised Nesta.
I don't quite know what we could do," she said, reflec-
tively. "I daresay the patients have every attention. Of
course, if the cholera should increase greatly, the poor people
would want many things. I daresay in that case there would
be a Mansion House Fund."
"Nesta, you are too stupid !" cried her mother, impatiently.
It is not of those people in Germany I am thinking; it is of
ourselves, of us here in Pengwern. What must we do to pre-
pare for the cholera ? for come it will, you may be sure Nesta,
Sir Arnold. 1
Sand then you will be glad that you had some one about you
who had the sense to take a few precautions."
Nesta was silent; she hardly was prepared for the present
state of her mother's mind. All indolence and apathy seemed
forgotten in her abject fear of a sickness that was as yet
hundreds of miles away.
I shall inspect at once all the drains in the house; they
had better be flushed everyday during this hot, dry weather-
(Mrs. Couridine had not the faintest notion, by the way, as to
what flushing a drain might be, but she had read of its being
done in such cases)-and I must speak to Anna, and desire
that all the dark corners in the back kitchen are thoroughly
cleaned out. I always fancy there is a mouldy smell when-
ever that baize door is left open."
"I know the kitchens are kept beautifully clean, mother,"
declared Nesta, who rather dreaded an encounter between her
mother and their old servant; "there is not even a speck of
dust to be found anywhere."
"I'll tell you what there is, then," said Mrs. Couridine
solemnly, there is that heap of old bones at the bottom of
the kitchen garden; that is nothing but a hot-bed of disease.
I will go this very minute, and see if I cannot get Jones's boy
to come and clear it away, Have they got disinfecting powder
of any sort at the shop, I wonder? Oh, of course not. I
must write to Swansea for some, and I will go at once to our
washerwoman, and tell her all our clothes must be thoroughly
disinfected, and-in fact, I'll do all I can to stay the disease.
Now is the time for action; soon it may be too late."
Do wait till the cool of the evening, mother," said Nesta,
"you are not accustomed-- "
"Wait, Nesta, when so much wants doing!" answered
Mrs. Couridine, quickly.
"But," said Nesta, as a sudden idea seized her, "you will
12 Sir Arnold.
find the washerwoman and everyone else at dinner; it has
just struck twelve."
There is a natural disinclination in every lady's mind to
interrupt a family at its meals, and Mrs. Couridine, on hearing
this, consented to wait until later; but there was no such
thing as repose for her, and consequently for Nesta, during the
whole of the next few days. Cupboards were turned out, and
drawers were emptied, for "disease lurked in odd corners;"
then the white-washers must come and whitewash all the
ceilings, and as many as possible of the walls of Bryn-Arthur,
and finally, Mrs. Couridine undertook a pilgrimage to the
village, to induce the cottagers to kill their pigs, and clean out
their pigstyes. This well-meaning attempt was, I regret to
say, a complete failure. As soon as the keen old Welshwomen
had gathered enough of Madam's speech to understand for
what reason she had suddenly found it possible to visit them,
their indignation was great; and though respect for the former
lady of Couridine Hall kept them from telling her to her face
what they thought of her plan, they did not wait long after
she had left.
Me kill my pig in August!" screamed one vigorous matron
n loud tones to her neighbour on the other side of the street.
"That don't say much for Madam's housekeeping-August,
indeed! and the good woman almost imitated the animal in
question in the vigorous snort she gave at this preposterous
"It'll be somehow for this here cholery in foreign parts,"
returned the other, who had understood but little of Madam's
"Cholera! Does she mean our pig's got the cholera ? I
shouldn't wonder, for she's that skeared at it. Ugh !" The
contempt conveyed in this exclamation it would be impossible
to render upon paper.
Sir A rnold.
So wearied and disappointed with her fruitless endeavours,
Mrs. Couridine returned home, and, naturally enough, this
sudden excitement ended in a reaction, and she was more
feeble and ill than she had ever been before. This, of course,
made her extremely nervous; she consulted her medicine
books, of which she had quite a little library, and by dint of
reading about the symptoms, she began to fancy she felt them.
Nesta did all she could to interest her mother in other things,
but nothing would she listen to, unless it bore some reference
to the cholera.
"Seems to me she'd best have it, and have done with it,"
declared old Anna to herself, on one of these mornings when
she has been had upstairs to listen to a long exhortation of
how she was to use Condy's fluid when she washed out the
dish-cloths, to put chloride of lime under the larder window,
and never to take any change from the shop without washing
it well before bringing it upstairs; and yet in spite of this
hasty speech, Anna, and indeed every one, felt intensely
grieved one lovely day, when sky and earth alike seemed
rejoicing in the general brightness; but Mrs. Couridine lay
dangerously ill, stricken with the cholera !
Yes, it was but too true. Whether it was fear that had
brought it on, or whether the infection was in the air, will
ever remain a mystery; but the fact remained-the cholera
was in healthy, breezy Pengwern, and its first victim was one
who had taken every precaution, and used every means to
escape it. Yes, but precautions and means are nothing, unless
we ask God to bless them to our good. David knew this when
he wrote, Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman
waketh but in vain," but Mrs. Couridine had forgotten it. It
is certainly right to do our utmost by cleanliness and attention
to sanitary laws to prevent, as far as in our power lies, all
sickness and disease; and no fact is more surely established
14 Sir A rnold.
than that drink and dirt do cause more than half the prema-
ture deaths in our country.
But our safety, humanly speaking, will not consist in making
extraordinary and vigorous efforts after cleanliness and sobriety
just when the fear of any disease is upon us, but upon a
constant daily attention to the laws of health, and we must
walk soberly and justly all the days of our life-not merely
on those particular days when the dread of death- or the fear
of sickness may happen to be upon us.
DR. JONES was a young man, having, indeed, but recently
assumed the M.D., of which he was so justly proud. Young
as he was, however, he was married, and had several small
children, so that, as children are expensive luxuries, it was
with a smile of satisfaction that he observed the old servant
from Bryn-Arthur coming rapidly up the little drive early
It'll be Mrs. Couridine again, you'll see, Jenny," he said,
actually stopping in the nervous operation of shaving, to
communicate this fact to his wife, who was in the next room.
"It's an ill wind that blows no one any good, and that lady's
fancies are quite a mine of wealth to us."
His wife assented with a cheerful smile, and then came a
knock at the door, and a little maid, with eyes dilated with
terror, said, "Please m'm, will Master come at once to Bryn-
Arthur, the lady's got the cholera "
Mrs. Jones rushed breathlessly into the adjoining room,
where the doctor, being accustomed to frequent summonses to
Bryn-Arthur, was calmly continuing his shaving,
Robert! Robert! go at once! Mrs. Couridine has got the
Nonsense, my love; it's fancy again, she's been having
the cholera for a month past, or at least, dreading it, which is
much the same. I'll go but a composing draught will settle
the matter as usual, I promise you." And wiping the lather
from his chin, the doctor arrayed himself in his professional
black coat, and was soon on his way to Bryn-Arthur.
It was some hours before he returned, and his wife was
becoming extremely uneasy, for he had gone out without his
breakfast, and she felt sure it must be something serious which
should keep hima so long. Presently, however, he came in
sight, but wearing such an anxious expression, that his wife's
fears were strengthened.
"Is it the cholera, Robert?" she asked, gently. He
looked at her, and then answered slowly,-
It is, Jenny, and a bad case, and a bad patient. I have
only left her bedside for some medicine I have here. Well, God
knows how it will end, but I feel the responsibility greatly, and
wish there was any second opinion whom I could call in."
"Would Sir Arnold Havers be of any use?" asked his
My dear Jenny, of course he would-the very man; but
I could not ask him to come from town, besides, I would like
someone here ; it might be too late."
"He is here," interrupted his wife-" here at the Bard'
inn ; the landlady was only boasting to me last night of her
grand visitor. IHe's here on a holiday for the fishing, but
perhaps he will not like to go to another person's patient
now he has escaped from his own."
"Oh, he'll come, I feel pretty sure," was the doctor's
confident reply. "I know him a little, and a better-hearted
man does not breathe. He'll be interested too, I expect,"
he continued, as he rapidly swallowed a few mouthfuls of
breakfast, which his loving wife had kept hot for him; "for
the cholera has been long expected to visit our shores, and as
far as I know it is the first case. Well, I could wish some
other village had that honour, all the same," said he, smiling
a little grimly ; "Good-bye, Jenny, I am off to the Bard.' "
I hope Sir Arnold will not have started on any fishing
expedition," said she, anxiously; "it is ten o'clock. And do,
dearest Robert, take every precaution you can. What should
I do if you were to take the cholera ? "
"Why, Jenny! what a speech for a doctor's wife," said the
little Welshman, smiling cheerfully back at. his wife, whose
blue eyes were fast filling with tears.
We are in God's hands, dearest; and be sure of this, that
we are ever safest when in the path of duty. Good-bye,"
and he was off.
Fortune favoured him this morning, for though Sir Arnold
had intended starting directly after breakfast for a distant trout
stream, he had been prevented by the only horse in the Bard
stables having cast a shoe, and he was waiting patiently until it
should have returned from the blacksmith's. Sir Arnold was a
man of many resources, and besides being a celebrated physi-
cian, and a most enthusiastic fisherman, he was an artist of
considerable skill, and just now was occupied in making a
spirited sketch of one of the rectory children, who in these sultry
days were glad to come and play in the shady grounds of the
Bard! their own garden being new and utterly devoid of trees.
The boy had been out with Sir Arnold on the previous day
on the lake in a large punt; and proud of having been allowed
to use the long pole to push the punt along, he had begged
to be drawn in that attitude.
"But, Tommy, that is rather hard on me," declared Sir
Arnold; "how am I, here in this garden, to draw you
Sir Arnold. 17
punting on the lake ?" But Tommy was no ways puzzled by
"You can make the boat and the water afterwards," he
announced; and you can draw ME now," and taking up a
long stick, he instinctively threw himself into such a graceful
attitude, that Sir Arnold set himself to sketch the little fellow,
though whether he took Tommy's advice about adding the
boat and water afterwards, is doubtful.
It was thus that Dr. Jones found Sir Arnold; and so
different did the great man look in his gaiters and fishing
costume, that Dr. Jones hardly recognized him for the
correctly-dressed physician he had seen once or twice at a
scientific soire4, and taking off his hat, he said doubtfully,
"Sir Arnold Havers, I believe ?" rather as if he could not
"Just so," said Sir Arnold, pleasantly; and Dr. Jones then
rapidly explained his object in seeking him, and in a few
minutes more the two men were walking together with quick
steps towards Bryn-Arthur.
With a few brief words Dr. Jones introduced the London
physician to his patient; and ill as she was, a thrill of pleasure
passed through Mrs. Couridine at the thought that the most
renowned of doctors was standing by her bedside; whilst
Nesta, on her part, felt more relieved than words could say,
to think that all the means now used would have the sanction
of the highest medical authority. Poor child! The last night
had indeed been a most trying one to her, and Dr. Jones,
naturally timid of his own powers, had confided to the girl
his fears lest he should not be doing the best for the patient,
and in so doing had taken from Nesta that chiefest of earthly
alleviations during sickness-an implicit trust in the medical
man. So she welcomed Sir Arnold with heartiness, and
thanked him with such real gratitude for having given up a
day of his short holiday to help them in their trouble, that
Sir Arnold was quite touched.
The strong medicines that Dr. Jones had administered had,
for a time, lulled the violent pains of the sufferer, but they
now returned with fearful violence, and the shrieks of the
poor lady were truly heart-rending. "It's a sword, a red hot
sword being drawn through my body !" she exclaimed in her
agony; "oh, that it would end." Nesta, the tears streaming
down her face, and her whole body trembling with the anxiety
she sought in vain to hide, knelt by her mother's side, and
tried to soothe her with every endearing word, whilst she
strove by incessant rubbings to relieve somewhat the terrible
cramps, which caused a suffering almost equal to that of the
After a time the pains became less acute, and, finally, there
was a short lull, and Nesta looking up for a moment from the
ceaseless rubbing which now, in some measure, relieved the
cramps, saw that both the doctors had left the room. They
had, however, only gone into the adjoining one, where, care-
fully closing the door, Dr. Jones looked gravely into the face
of the London physician, and said in a low tone, half enquir-
ing, half asserting, "A serious case, Sir Arnold! "
Very," answered the other quietly.
What would you advise ? said Dr. Jones, deferentially.
Sir Arnold did not at once answer, but stroked his beard
slowly, as if to draw wisdom from that source; then he looked
up, and said thoughtfully, "What sort of a girl is that? "
motioning with his hand towards the bedroom.
"Miss Couridine ? Oh, she is an angel! said the' little
doctor enthusiastically, for he had long been witness of Nesta's
gentle, patient ways with her mother.
"Ah so much the better, for on her, in a great measure,
will depend the recovery of our patient, I do not think we
Sir A rnold.
can improve upon your course of treatment, Dr. Jones, but I
should like to say a few words to that young lady, if you will
kindly send her to me."
Dr. Jones returned to the bedroom for this purpose, highly
delighted with the condescension of the great man, who had
spoken of our' patient, and had declared that his, Dr. Jones'
treatment, could not be improved upon. That would indeed
be something to tell his wife by-and-bye.
Meanwhile, Nesta, wondering much as to what Sir Arnold
could want with her, had left her mother's side, and with quiet
noiseless footsteps she stood before him, pale with the scenes
she had lately gone through, her very hair seemed robbed of
half its lustre, as her cheek was of its bloom, yet in spite of
all, a lovely and loveable type of womanhood.
Sir Arnold's eyes rested with pleasure on the young girl,
and he was a moment or two before he spoke, till Nesta,
anxious to return to the sick room, lifted up her eyes, and
said quietly, I think you asked for me, Sir Arnold."
I did," said he, rallying himself. I wanted especially to
speak a few words, for on you, under God," he reverently bowed
his head, "depends, in a great measure, the life of your mother."
"Upon me said Nesta, in a wondering voice; "upon
me and I have felt myself so helpless and ignorant, when I
would fain have done so much." It was only by a strong
exhibition of, self-command that Nesta could keep back her
Sir Arnold was quick-sighted-as indeed a good doctor
must be; and he saw that the bodily and mental strain on
the girl's energies had been great during the past night, and
that now she was in want of both food and rest.
"You have done very well," he answered, as he drew a
large arm-chair forward, and gently motioned to the girl to
seat herself. But there is, I need not say, still much nursing
20 Sir Arnold.
in store for you; and if you will allow me to ring the bell, and
order a cup of coffee, I will explain to you what I wish you to
do for the future." He had meanwhile walked to the
chimney-piece and rung the bell, and when old Anna some-
what timidly answered it, he asked her in so pleasant a
manner for some strong coffee, that she was quite flattered by
the gracious ways of the grand gentleman from London, and
made such haste that before many minutes she reappeared,
bearing on a neatly arranged tray the smoking coffee and
some slices of home-made bread-and-butter. "That really
looks tempting," said Sir Arnold, and Anna retired quite
flushed with pleasure, whilst he poured out a cup of coffee,
and bringing it to Nesta, said in a firm voice, that sounded
unexpressibly pleasant to the weary girl,-
We doctors are strange people, you know, and often act as
nurses. Take this coffee, and then perhaps I may let you
return to your mother's bedside."
Yes, I must go back now," said Nesta.
"Wait one minute; Dr. Jones is there, and he will call us
should the spasms return. Listen to me; medicine and
doctors are very well in their way, and what can be done by
their means I promise you shall be done; but in cholera
recovery depends, under God, in the -greatest measure upon
the nursing. If there is some one always at hand to anticipate
the agonising cramps by the energetic rubbing, and to
administer the food and stimulant when the struggle with
pain leaves the patient faint and sinking; above all, if there is
someone who can quietly and cheerfully assure the sufferer
that there is no more reason that cholera should be fatal than
any other severe illness, there is always hope that the disease
may be conquered. Of course, I mean in a patient whose
constitution has not been ruined by indulgence or excess of
any sort, such people drop off like flies in cholera, or, in fact,
Sir Arnold. 21
under any epidemic. But in your mother's case, the chief fear
is, that she may die of her fears, rather than of the disease,
violent as that is. Now, my dear young lady, I am going to
demand a difficult task of you. For your mother's sake you
must exhibit a fortitude, nay, a cheerfulness, which I own, you
are not easy to assume whilst nursing a complaint so alarming
in itself, and which is on that very account so frequently fatal,
fear causing more deaths than the actual disease. Do not
permit yourself to show any signs of terror, assure your mother
that, with God's blessing, you mean to nurse her into recovery,
and then, with such a courageous nurse and a good doctor-
or two," said Sir Arnold, smiling; I trust that before very
long we may leave Mrs. Couridine convalescent."
"Do you really mean this, Sir Arnold ?" said Nesta,
earnestly. "I mean," she stammered, "you have not said
this as doctors sometimes do, to cheer me and give me
hope, when perhaps there is none." She stopped and raised
her eyes to the physician's, as if, in his face, even more than
in his words, she would seek her answer.
But Sir Arnold's eyes looked frankly back to hers, as he
replied, You may indeed trust me. I have only told you
what from an extensive experience I have found to be a fact,
that a cholera patient is greatly in the power of an energetic,
"Then," said Nesta, and as she spoke she involuntarily
held out her hand to Sir Arnold, "then you may depend
upon me. If by any skill or care of mine, my dear mother's
life can be saved, I will do my very utmost."
In spite of all care and attention the disease made
rapid strides, spasm succeeded spasm, and each one left Mrs.
Couridine more and more prostrate. Yet Nesta would
not lose courage, and had ever a cheerful smile and a light
word for her mother, till even Sir Arnold was amazed at
the girl's calm fortitude. Mrs. Couridine, strange to say,
when actually face to face with death-for one might almost
say one could hear the fluttering of the wings of the destroy-
ing angel in that sick room-seemed to lose her fears, and
contemplated with calmness her approaching end. "How
wicked I have been," she said, faintly, to Nesta; "how I
have worried you, and fidgetted you with all my silly fancies.
Ah! it has needed all this pain and suffering to teach my
lesson; we must trust all to God, our feeble strivings and
struggling are of no avail against His will. Nesta, my
darling, come closer," the poor mother's voice was faint and
low. "I have asked forgiveness of my God for all my many
sins; can you my darling too, forgive me, and think kindly of
me when I am gone ? "
"Mother," said Nesta, as she threw her arms around her? "I
have nothing to forgive, you were always a loving mother to me."
I always loved you, Nesta ... but ... I am afraid I made
self the first thought. If I had my days to live again, it
should not be so; oh, my wasted, wasted life "
"Mother, dearest mother," said the girl, gently; "do not
wear yourself out with useless regrets for what is past, that is
out of our reach, no sighs can alter what is gone. But if it
be God's will, as I hope it may be, a life of usefulness and
happiness is yet before you."
No, Nesta, no. I do not blind myself with false hopes. I
would fain live, it is true, if but to endeavour to make up for
my past selfishness; but my time of probation here is over,
I shall not leave this room alive."
"That is known to God alone," said Nesta, struggling hard
to speak firmly. "Sir Arnold still hopes, he told me so but
a few minutes ago."
"Ah, my child! a doctor will say anything," said Mrs.
Sir Arnold. 23
But not Sir Arnold," said Nesta, blushing.
Sickness has its advantages as well as its anxieties. The
ordinary barriers of society are then thrown down, and a
common anxiety unites people more closely together than
years of ordinary intercourse. Thus it was that before the
day was over Nesta hid learned to regard Sir Arnold quite in
the light of an old friend, and he, on his part, felt a lively
admiration for Nesta's bravery, which was in no way propor-
tionate to the length of their acquaintance. It was extremely
restful to Nesta, who in these latter years had been obliged to
be the one to settle and decide and arrange every detail, to
find someone stronger than herself to whom she could appeal
for aid, and on whose judgment she could place implicit
reliance. Sir Arnold seemed able to think of everyone, and
whilst always at hand to do all that human skill could suggest
for the relief of the sufferer, Nesta, to her extreme surprise,
found that her wants were also remembered. He would send
her out of the sick room to eat the tempting little meal,
which old Anna was only too delighted to prepare for her
young mistress; and the servant did not cook the worse, for
the thought that the grand gentleman" himself would see
that all was as it should be before he summoned Nesta from
her mother's bedside. Eh, Miss Nesta" said the old woman,
"you may well look at those peaches; Sir Arnold himself
brought them here, and picked the leaves off the vine over the
porch to lay them on; and says he to me "A peach is a pretty
thing to look at, Anna, they'll do Miss Nesta's eyes good to
rest upon, after all the sadness of a sick room." Now, to
think of him thinking of that, with his head so full of
electricity, and velocipy, and homeopathy, and the like," said
the good old woman, with a wondrous jumble of what she
supposed to be a doctor's learning; and though Nesta made no
answer, her weary eyes did rest with pleasure on those blush-
24 Sir Arnold.
ing peaches, and she would not for the world have removed
them from their bed of vine leaves. Had not he placed them
there ? And at the thought she blushed till the pale cheeks
all but rivalled the colour of the fruit.
" GOD bless you, Miss Nesta!" said good little Dr. Jones, in
a low voice, some thirty-six hours later, as he and Nesta stood
together by Mrs. Couridine's bedside, watching with heartfelt
satisfaction the calm sleep into which she had fallen, and
which was, as they well knew, the best medium upon earth
for the worn-out frame. "She'll do now, I humbly trust;
and I can go with a better heart now that I really feel that
Mrs. Couridine has taken a good turn. Your little proUtge,
Theresa, is ill. I don't quite like the symptoms," he continued,
gravely; "and, as I see Sir Arnold coming up the road, I
think I will go and pay her another visit."
"You must let me know if I can do anything," said Nesta.
" If mother goes on like this, I shall, perhaps, be able to run
down to see Theresa soon;" for she felt a real desire to help
anyone out of any trouble, now that her own trouble had been
so wonderfully lightened.
Day by day brought with it some improvement in Mrs.
Couridine's health; all danger was at length over, and con-
valescence had set in. This is often the most trying of times
to those around an invalid; but though, in previous recoveries,
Mrs. Couridine had been childishly fretful and exacting, she
was not so now. Her very nature seemed changed; indeed,
God's grace had changed it, and she was now as gentle and
patient as before she had been irritable.
Sir A riiold.
"I must pay the vows I made in sickness," she said gently
to Nesta, who could not refrain from wondering at her mother's
patience. I hope to be no more the selfish creature I have
been. God has given me back my life, and I mean to devote
its remaining years to His glory."
Nesta turned away to hide the tears of joy that would
spring to her eyes. Her mother was indeed restored to her,
but a better, worthier mother than she had had before.
Meanwhile, thick clouds of trouble were gathering over the
little village of Pengwern; and though at first they fell but in
drops, the full storm was on its way. For some inscrutable
reason, Pengwern-breezy and healthy as it was-was the
spot which King Cholera had selected for his throne. The
week after Mrs. Couridine fell ill, two other people at the
further end of the village were also attacked, and died in a
few hours; then the tailor's daughter-little Theresa-also-
took the disease; and finally, in spite of every precaution, it
spread with alarming rapidity, until there were few houses
which had not one or more patients, and the village school-
room had to be rapidly fitted up as a hospital for the numerous
Mother," said Nesta, one morning, as with loving care she
settled her comfortably on the sofa in the pleasant drawing-
room, and placed everything she was likely to want at the
little table alongside, "should you mind my leaving you for
an hour? I want to see Theresa; she is ill-as ill as you
were-and I would like to try if I can do anything for the
Mrs. Couridine looked thoughtfully at Nesta. My dar-
ling, I will not keep you back," she said at last, though with
an evident effort. "If you can be anything like the comfort
to her you were to me it would be cruel to prevent you. But
be very careful, Nesta- "
"Yes, mother, indeed I will," promised the girl; "there
will be no more danger of infection there than here, and the
poor child keeps asking for me;" and Nesta was off, half sur-
prised at having gained permission so easily.
Theresa was, indeed, very ill, and made still worse by the
tears and lamentations of the women around her. Four
nurses had been summoned from town to nurse the patients,
who every day increased in number; but they could not be
everywhere, and it was Theresa's lot to he waited on by a
willing but extremely melancholy aunt, who was constantly
predicting the child's death to her very face.
"Ah, Miss Nesta !" she said, in a doleful voice, as the girl
entered the cottage; "you be come to see Theresy die. I've
plucked away her pillow, so as she shouldn't linger. I dare-
say you've heard tell, Miss, as you can't die on partridge
feathers; and she's a-going fast."
"Don't say that!" said Nesta, gently. God has spared
my mother-it may be His will to spare her little friend,
Theresa, too;" and she took the wasted hand of the child,
which felt ominously cold and lifeless, though she did raise her
eyes to greet Nesta, for the parched and blackened lips could
not frame a smile. Nesta's quick eye soon grasped the case.
"You are letting the child sink for want of food !" she
"Lor, Miss Nesta!" said the aunt, in a hollow voice.
"What's the use of plaguing her?-'taint a bit of good."
But Nesta would have her way. She knelt by the bedside,
and poured a few drops of brandy down the girl's throat.
She could still swallow-that was something.
"Now for that strong beef-tea that was sent from Bryn-
Arthur." It had been put on one side as useless. Nesta
quickly warmed up a little, and fed Theresa from time to time
with a teaspoonful. At the end of the hour-which was all
Sir A rn old.
Nesta dared stay-there was a decided improvement; and the
frequent rubbings, which Nesta had insisted upon, and the hot
bottles she had placed at the patient's feet, had brought
warmth into the frame.
"Now," said Nesta, imploringly, to the aunt, do go on
with these remedies. Theresa may yet recover. God works
by means, and He may bless these means, if you will but rouse
yourself to give the child a chance."
"If there's a chance, Miss Nesta !-and you ought to know-
I'll do my best; but I thought before it was only flying in the
face of Providence." And the woman set to work to fill
a fresh hot bottle, with an energy that gave Nesta courage to
hope that Theresa would be well looked to at last. Sir Arnold
met her as she ran swiftly home, and promised to look in at
the tailor's cottage; and he was as good as his word, and so
rigorously did he lay down the law, and so often did he
return to see his orders carried out, that his skill, aided by the
aunt's nursing, was at length rewarded by the gradual reco-
very of the patient. And now through the whole village ran-
the idea that Nesta possessed some wonderful power of curing
this mysterious disease, and Bryn-Arthur was besieged with
"And to think she should never take it, and her going
hither and thither among the sick It's miraculous-that's
what it is!" declared the villagers. "I reckon Madam
knows nought of it all."
Madam exclaimed another. Haven't you heard ?
She as good as encourages Miss Nesta, and has taken Theresa
-you mind Theresa ?-she's taken Theresa into her own
house-into Bryn-Arthur -and is going to keep her there till
she's strong again !"
This was news indeed! After that, people were hardly
surprised when Mrs. Couridine herself appeared one morning
in the school hospital, and went from bed to bed, encouraging
the patients as much by her presence as her gentle words.
"Sure, if Madam can come among us, we can't be so very
ill," was the general feeling of the ward; and as hope and
courage are good medicines, her visits had a most beneficial
SIR Arnold's holiday had come to an end; numerous letters
from anxious, expectant patients had already reached him;
countless claims which would scarcely be put aside, all were
urging him to quit Pengwern, and yet-he lingered !
"This quiet village is such a relief after the turmoil of
town," or-" The fishing this season is so excellent."
Such were some of the excuses he made both to himself and
to others for his prolonged sojourn, but in his inmost heart he
knew well enough the real reason. It was Nesta He could
not-nay, he would not leave Wales until Nesta had promised
to be his; or at any rate until he had heard from her own
lips the sentence of his doom. And full of such resolutions,
he would stride up to Bryn-Arthur, where old Anna with
smiling looks would open the door, and where Mrs. Couridine
with pleasant speech would warmly welcome him; but where
Nesta would ever, after the first few minutes, find some excuse
to go away, and re-appear no more during his stay.
Was Nesta, then, so utterly indifferent as she seemed ?
Ah, no! She felt instinctively that Sir Arnold loved her,
and, like a true woman, she would spare him the pain
of a refusal. Her duty was to take care of her mother, and
God would give her strength to do the duty He gave her.
So thought poor Nesta; whether rightly or not I leave you to
Sir Arnold. 29
judge; but as she honestly believed it to be wrong for her to
encourage Sir Arnold in any way, you have the clue to her
conduct, which Sir Arnold, poor man, had not. And now his
last day had come; he must positively return on the morrow,
and yet he had never been able to speak one word to Nesta.
He felt resolved to hear his condemnation from her own lips-
there should be no mistake; at any rate she should know his
love: and so, full of Nesta, he went up to Bryn-Arthur in the
soft twilight of the early autumn. His heart sunk within him
when he heard from Mrs. Couridine that Nesta was out; had
gone to the Castle to see Lady Carleon, who had suddenly
returned, and would probably not be back until ten or eleven
I must see her," said Sir Arnold passionately; I leave
at daybreak to-morrow. I must see Nesta first."
Mrs. Couridine looked up; the tone of voice startled her,
it was so deep and strong. She put out her hand to Sir
Arnold with instinctive sympathy; and he, hardly knowing
what he said, exclaimed, "You will not grudge me Nesta,
will you, dear Mrs. Couridine ? I will love her and cherish
her as the most precious of treasures."
"Dear friend," said Mrs. Couridine softly, "I can ill spare
my jewel, just when I have learned to value her; but she
will be safe with you, and I shall be happy to think of her as
in your care."
If Nesta will have me, you need not therefore lose her,
Mrs. Couridine. You will live with us-ah! how I talk,
with this uncertainty about Nesta weighing upon me-but,
if she will have me, you must come too."
No," said Mrs. Couridine with gentle firmness, "No, Sir
Arnold, I have my plans. Should Nesta ever marry, I should
not saddle myself upon her; old cloth must not be put upon a
new garment. I mean to take Theresa as a sort of humble
companion, and to utilize my pretty little house as a Sanato-
rium; to give a fortnight's or a month's chance to worn-out
governesses, or delicate girls or women of any sort. I have led
a useless enough life hitherto, and now it would be my happi-
ness to do a little good to others before I die. So you see,"
she continued in a brighter tone, "the sooner Nesta marries,
the sooner can I begin my plans. .... Hark! there are the
wheels of the Castle carriage. God bless you!" and the
gentle closing of the door told Sir Arnold he was alone.
Alone with the beating of his heart which sounded so
loudly in his ears as almost to drown the noise of the carriage
wheels as they drew up to the door. Alone but now alone
no longer; for Nesta, looking almost like a vision in her white
dinner dress, and soft fleecy wrapper, stood in the doorway,
blushing with surprise at the unexpected sight of Sir Arnold
at that late hour. He was, for the moment, dumb; he was
not prepared for Nesta's appearance; it so happened that he
had never seen her in evening dress before, he was almost
dazzled by her beauty as she stood there, with the creamy
folds of her long dress sweeping around her, and a rare blossom
from the Castle conservatories nestling in her hair. But
Nesta, not seeing her mother, was about to pass on to the little
room within in search of her, when Sir Arnold approached
the door, to open it as she thought, instead of which he
stood against it, and said in a rapid, eager voice,-
"You will give me one moment, Miss Couridine. I have
come to say Good-bye.'"
Nesta sat down; the moment had come, she had felt it
must, and she would summon all her courage; so she forced
herself to look at Sir Arnold, as she made answer, in a voice
as like her natural one as she could manage: Must you go,
Sir Arnold ? You will carry all our good wishes with you,
Si Arnold. 31
"I want something more than good wishes," said Sir Arnold
passionately-" I want your love."
You may doubt the fact as you like-but fact it neverthe-
less was-that though this was the very thing that Nesta
feared, and had so long contrived to avert,- yet, now that it
had come, she was as much taken aback as if it had been
totally unexpected. She could not speak; her throat swelled;
the tears would come. How could she tell the man she loved
so dearly-who was now pleading so passionately before her-
that she must not listen to him? And yet her mother, she
could not leave her; no blessing would follow a marriage
without her consent, and she was sure Mrs. Couridine would
fret herself ill at the very idea of Nesta leaving her. Poor
Nesta lay sobbing in the great arm-chair, and her answer was
Her emotion calmed Sir Arnold. He did not know the
cause, it is true; but, at any rate, she had not repulsed him.
He had startled her, no doubt, with his clumsy eagerness; so,
taking her hand (and Nesta could not draw it away), he
began in a gentle, soothing tone, something like he kept for
his child patients: "Did I frighten you, Nesta? I didn't
mean to. It seems sudden to you, but it is no new thought to
me. Your mother and I have been talking of you all even-
ing. I wanted her to live with us; for you see, Nesta, I
must have you." Still no answer from Nesta, though she
would have given all she possessed to be able to say the word
which should tell Sir Arnold his suit was hopeless, but every
minute made it more difficult to her. "Mrs. Couridine has
her own plans," he continued. When we are married,
Nesta-nay, do not shudder-she is going to take Theresa as
her companion, and make Bryn-Arthur a little convalescent
hospital. It is a kind thought of hers, and I do not suppose