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THEO LEIGH.
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BY THE AUTHOR OF “DENIS DONNE,” &c.

CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCES THEO.

mud;

With the majority of the winds that blow the Down on the sea-board of the county of odour of marsh-mud is prevalent; and the Norfolk, on the verge of a long waste of marsh- odour of marsh-mud, though healthy, doubtless, land that intervenes between it and the German is not delightful. But worse than this is Ocean, there stands a little village, Houghton the fact, that unless the “tide serves” (which by name, semi-agricultural and semi-aquatic by it never does when you want to go on to the nature.

beach), it is impossible, though almost on the A hardy little village, as it befits one of brink of it, for Houghton to catch a sight of the such purely Scandinavian traditions to be, German Ocean, by reason of that broad expanse scorning to shelter itself from the large fierce of marsh and mud and many creeks which winds that blow across to it from the hardier intervenes. north, or from the chilling blasts that whistle Houghton has its cockle-strand, and the shrewishly along from the east. A hardy endur- flavour of those cockles is esteemed in that ing village, bravely patient of the blasts, and county-side. They are big, blue, burly. They as bravely opposed to the mastery of the sea, form a mighty portion of the integral trade of whose encroachments it has checked with a that quiet little village, for "peasant girls with deftly-constructed bank of most impervious deep blue eyes, and hands that offer” burly

an artistic village, whose fields are cockles, “come smiling o'er this paradise," tilled and pasture-lands are cultivated into the through all the summer months, with baskets semblance of the fairest mosaic; an indepen- full of the result of their bare-footed labours dent village, that sends its own smacks out to down on the strand. The way that leads down "oyster-sea” and panders unassisted to the to this cockle-strand is called by a name that bivalve loves of its inhabitants ; a gallant indicates (so Houghton proudly asserts) that it little village that guards its own portion of the at one time traded more largely and had a quay coast from those ruthless rascals the smugglers, of its own, for the way is called “Quay-land”by aid of a naval officer in command of six and it is the haunt and lounge of the coastable-bodied seamen ; a little village, that is so guard and fishermen all the week, and of the superb in its appearance of utter remoteness whole population on Sundays. from and indifference to all that goes on beyond The house in Houghton that stands nearest its own confines,—that revolves on its own axis to, and commands the best view of the sea, is, 50 quietly year after year, suffering the world though one of the only three good houses in and all its business to roll on without the let the village, known by no name. To strangers, and hindrance of question,—that cares so little the very few who enter, it is pointed out as whether armies are decimated and countries the 6 chief officer's” or the Leftenant's devastated for an idea,--that prays for the house : to the inhabitants it is familiar as Queen's ministers, but does not care very much “ The Leighs'.” to what party they belong,—that is altogether It is not particularly interesting from an so absorbed in and satisfied with itself, that it architectural or artistic point of view, for it is is hard to believe that it is only “eight hours simply a square stone building, with straight (usual speed) from London.”

sash windows in front,- shiny sloping slated Houghton has its drawbacks. What village roof, and an entrance door planted with severe is free from them? Owen Meredith has declared exactitude in the centre. But to the casual in one of his misery-fraught melodies that the passer-by it has an importance by means of ad

women free from faults have beds beneath the ventitious aids. For instance, towering above willow.” I wish he would give a local habita- its shiny slated roof there is a "look-outof tion and a name to the villages “free from white-painted woodwork which stands out well faults." The hoards of discontented ones who from the blue tiles ; patrolling outside the gate are weary of the haunts of men, would be there is always a coastguard-man in the naval down upon them to their detriment forthwith ; uniform, with a big “Dollond” under his arm, and Houghton would not be amongst the and a hand that is prompt with the graceful number, for Houghton has its drawbacks. salute of the service to any one who may

First amongst these shall be reckoned a address him. plenitude of the perfumes and a lack of the It is a sweet old farce to me, this guarding luxuries that commonly infest sea-side places. the coast from nothing. Though we are now at

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VOL. XI.

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No. 279.

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peace with every possible invader, and free- Then Mrs. Barton collected her troop of trade is in the ascendant, still, I trust the play children around her, and prepared to depart that gives a remunerative “part” to so many while the wound her last arrow had made was will never be played out. There is monotony, it still quivering. It was quite true, this vaunt is true, in the work that falls to the lot of both that she had made, and the truth of it officers and men. It is tedious to serve your awakened the seldom sleeping jealousy the rest country by writing down every change in the of the crew of the coastguard station felt for wind and weather daily from year to year; Bob Barton, whose knowledge of wild-duck monotony, in boarding well-meaning vessels in shooting and fishing gained him much popuwhich nothing is ever found, and in per- larity, and something more tangible still, from petually patrolling with a spy-glass under your what his wife denominated the sporting gentry

But still it is not laborious monotony. round. Down this lane one fine April day a man But before she could execute her purpose walked, and the knot of loungers at the top of and depart, she was arrested by the slamming the lane who assembled themselves together of the gate round the corner, the gate of the in the sun on the beach outside the Leighs Leighe garden, and the next moment Lieu-i garden wall, forthwith fell to wondering tenant Leigh himself, with a young lady curiously who he might be, and what he might hanging on his arm, came in sight. be about to do, for he was not a Houghton He was a fine old sailor, erect and vigorous,

but neither rugged nor weather-beaten, as it is “He's not a friend of the squire's, for he the fashion to depict naval officers of a byput up at the Bull last night when he come,' gone day. A man who had not been handone of the women said ; “ he'd a' been sure to some in youth, the friends who knew him in be at the house if the squire knew anything it asserted, but who was a most stately and of him."

dignified gentleman now that he was old. “ And he ain't no friend of Mr. Leigh’s,” | As thorough a sailor, as good an officer, as the watchman whom the woman specially dashing and gallant a man as ever stepped the addressed replied ; " for Mr. Leigh he come quarter-deck ; but one who never related his out just now, and he says, says he, ‘Roberts,' own feats of dashing gallantry-who never says he, have you seen,' he says, 'anyone go swore, or used sea-slang—who had known down that there lane?' says he, “any stranger,'he little of the sweet rewards of merit, and who says; 'for,' says he, 'a stranger there is at the was only a lieutenant now at sixty, and Theo Bull,' he says, 'who, I hear, has been asking Leigh's father. about drawing the beach ;' which prove,” Ro- The young lady who leant upon his arm, and berts wound up with triumphantly,

whose appearance (for was she not the idol of master knew nothing about him.”

the “Crew ?") arrested Roberts' eloquence and “Nights ain't fine enough to draw for much Mrs. Barton's departure, was Theo herself. good, are they ?." the woman asked, for the Theo had been a pet amongst her father's words “ drawing the beach,” at Houghton crew for so long! just nineteen years had she meant dragging the same with nets to which a lived in the world, and amongst themselves horse was attached, by which means mighty they called her “little Miss” still, that bright draughts of fish were occasionally caught. young lady in whose woman's form a woman's

“Might be better, and might be worse,” heart beat strongly! And she knew and cherRoberts replied, screwing up one eye and look- ished and nourished this feeling that the rough ing out of the corner of the other away to the sailors and their warm-hearted spouses had for horizon through the glass.

her, and, thoughtless girl as she was, prayed “Well,” the woman said sharply, “I only God, that let her be what she might, they might know what my

man says, and he knows never know or name her as other than a little more about it than all the lot of you put to- Miss” and “our Miss Theo." gether,”—she was a fine smart-looking woman, What was she like, this girl who to the slow with a brisk voice and a clear eye, and a neat music of the slamming of a gate, came round figure. Roberts seemed struck with her state- the corner into my story? She was charming ! ment, and gazed at her with a vague eye of that was all. How can another woman hope wonder.

to make clear why she was so ? She was “All the gentry have to come to my Bob charming, with none of the bright, blonde, when they want to know anything of that beautiful charm of the North, but with a kind,” Mrs. Barton went on with a bright darker witchery, with a duskier hue-with the laugh ; " if that gentleman is wanting to draw deeper, more dangerous, more intense fire of the beach, I shall know more about him before the sleepy, languid, passion-fraught South. the day's over, for he'll have to come to Bob.” Pick her to pieces, anatomise her thoroughly,

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and she lacked beauty. But who, in the old felt that Theo Leigh's could have been more day when I knew her first, would have picked beautiful than they were. to pieces that glowing, brilliant, girlish face, Do you remember, reader, what Lancelot or anatomised thoroughly that well-rounded says when Elaine, victim to unrequited love for figure that expressed health in every one of its him, floats by the palace-dead ? movements ? Who could have done it then ?

Ah me ! she has a lovely face ; The rounded cheek is fallen now, and the bright,

God in his mercy send her grace, merry eye faded from the light of yore, and prays the man who has destroyed her. A Theo is a sylph no longer ! But she is Theo similar feeling found utterance in other words still, with the old charm about her that no when the stranger whose progress down the man (or woman either, for that matter) could lane was commented upon awhile ago caught resist for long.

the first glimpse of Theo Leigh. For my heroine was not one of those ador- “I think I should like to have the boat toable creatures whom women persecute. Many day, papa,” Theo said, after a minute's conwomen liked her very much indeed. Saw her versation with Mrs. Barton, during whiich that faults, and censured them maybe, but liked the good woman had given a résumé of the conjecgirl, their committer, despite them all. She tures which had been formed and to which was liked, she was popular, she was thought utterance had been given respecting the stranwell of, God knows for what. She was sorely ger, ill-used and sorely tried, God knows why.

“ The tide won't serve till it will be too late But on this day, when I show her to you for you to be on the water,” her father replied. first, the love and popularity and good think- Theo thereat looked slightly disappointed. Her ing3-of had alone been hers; the trials were young heart was always very warmly set on “nowhere,” in turf parlance : and Theo Leigh having the boat when circumstances over which was very bright and fresh indeed ; as bright no one had any control forbade the boat being and fresh as the spring costume she wore. available.

I will paint her portrait for you, with no “I believe there's water enough in the creek background and no accessories. My heart

for the little boat, papa.

I'll go down the lane kuows her well, my hand will limn her forth and see ; and if there is, Barton wouldn't just quickly. I will brighten the high-lights and mind pulling me over, would lie ? ” she condeepen the shadows in yet unwritten pages ; tinued, addrossing Barton's wife, who immebut the likeness of the girl can be put before diately assured her that “ Bob would with all you in a paragraph or two.

the pleasure in life, if so be he could be No fairy, yet rather small; no sylph, yet spared.” rather slight. Cleanly made as to the head Theo released her father's arm now, and and limbs, in fact, which always adds to the look sauntered away down the before-mentioned of “ breed,” while it detracts from the appear. lane. Sauntered slowly, as one is apt to do ance of size.

With an oval, dark, glowing when the young spring leaves are bathed in face, and grey, glowing eyes, and a profusion of bright April sunshine : sunshine that is warm, wavy hair that was half curl and half disorder, soft, and tenderly bright as the touch of a hanging in richly brown masses from under- maiden's lips, or the first love-light in her neath her turban hat. On the round of each of eyes. There was something deliciously sympathese tangled curls of hers there was a ruddy thetic in the atmosphere, in the sunshine, in tinge when the sun fell on it, and in the the hum of recently-born insects, in the fradark, glowing face not one feature, save the grance of re-awakening nature, to Theo. She mouth, was perfect. Her eyes were very sauntered slowly along down to the marsh-bank deeply grey, and very full of feeling, of fire,

that was

covered with rushes ; and in the of thought, of the wildest merriment, of the beauty of the day, and the contemplation of weirdest melancholy. Very full indeed of the dazzling light the sun threw upon the whatever the girl herself felt at the moment; waters, she forgot her purpose, and was utterly brilliantly intelligent, beau tifully expressive regardless of the state of the creek. and sympathetic : but not the large gazelle The winter had been an iron-bound one, the eyes that should be a woman's portion. They earliest spring had been one shrill whistling did not look off to the right and left like blast from the east. The memory of these a hart's or a sheep's; they glanced out thril- things made this sudden summer heat, which lingly at you from very close to her nose on had endured now for four or five days, doubly either side. But for all that propinquity and delightful through the mighty power of conthrill they were not the least bit shrewish or trast. Theo enjoyed warmth-the warmth of vixenish eyes.

I love and admire those shy the sun, not that of a fire. She expanded gazelle orbs very much indeed ; but I never under its influence, its fervour went into her

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soul, and lapped it to a slumber in which the “She has a sweet, bright face ; I hope it sweetest dreams were hers. She thoroughly will never be clouded.” revelled in doing nothing but think-scarcely She had dreamt of other things in her life that, but feel. The girl did not lack energy,

besides classic Greece and art-fraught Italy. but she lacked that peculiar form of it which She had pictured many a hero, built them up expresses itself in bustling activity. She had as it were from those who were her favourites not been stirred into action yet-for life had in romance, and they were all of the cavalier gone very easily with Miss Theo Leigh--and type. Leicester she had loved, though that her appreciation of the dolce far niente was too was a black business, Theo acknowledged, about perfect to be agreeable to her friends.

Amy Robsart. But about six months since be that as the elder daughter of a large family she had stayed at an old grange in WarwickTheo would have been undesirable. But she shire whose walls were covered with Vandycks, was not the elder daughter of a large family, and there the grace of Buckingham had made happily for herself. She was the sole child of every other kind of masculine beauty seem the house and heart of her father, and he saw dull, tame, and unprofitable to her, and Leicesno wrong in aught that Theo did.

ter was less well-loved than of yore. She placed herself on the sunny side of the Now before her stood a man who, though bank of rushes—the side on which she was shel- he wore a coat of Poole’s and a hat of Andre's, tered from even the light breeze that was up-might have walked forth from the canvas and thought of what life must be in the lands Vandyck had covered. No velvet tunic, no where the sun always shone, and the sky was clanking sword, were needed to further the always blue. Of Greece, which she knew by illusion. All the Stuart grace was his, and heart, she thought, from Byron's fervid and thrice the Stuart beauty. He was the embodiher father's graphic description ; where the ment of that ideal which the portrait of Buckcypress and myrtle wafted their odours over, ingham had first faintly realised. and the dove and the vulture cooed forth This man who dissipated Theo's earliest their approbation of that struggle for liberty dreams was no beardless Apollo on whom the which terminated well for Greece, and better golden glory of youth still hung enraptured. for Lord Cochrane than anybody who served | He was a man of forty or more, this first god under him ; of Italy-very much of Italy--for of her imagination. Take Walter Scott's she loved art and olives, and longed for a sight nervous trumpet-like lines for part of that of blue-ridged mountains, and brigands, and all which must serve for a description of him. the other things the South could alone show On his bold visage Middle-age her. In fact she dreamed a tour that should last Had slightly set his signet sage, for ever, and found the travelling most rarely

But had not quenched the ardent truth sweet.

And fiery vehemence of youth. The dream was dissolved suddenly, but not Aye ! it was this last that took her! That unpleasantly. A step close behind her, a voice lived still in the man's deep steel-blue, blackat her elbow, a low, soft, deep voice, monotonous fringed eyes, that was more to a woman than even in its sweetness to some ears, the soul the laughing light of youth. There was that of melody to hers, saying:

in the contrast between his unstudied ad. “Pardon me for disturbing you, but is dress, his steady, deep tones, and the wonthere any possibility of threading the maze of derful earnestness of his eyes, that thrilled these creeks and gaining the beach ?

Theo almost before she was conscious of its The sound cut short the dream, the old existence. She took in all : his age, his wellfamiliar dream, that Theo had dreamt so often, made clothes, the air of high breeding that and she woke to life with a bound, but not to there was about him, the perfect beauty of his the life she had known before, no, never again face and its rarely-refined expression, an erto that old peaceful existence.

pression in which hauteur habitually had a “ The beach can only be gained by a boat, share, but there was no hauteur in the eyes unless you had mud boots on, and didn't mind that were bent on Theo ; she took in all these walking three or four miles to reach the only things in the one glance she gave him as she point where it is safe to cross the channel," she quietly answered his question.

Then, when said, rising to her feet as she spoke.

she had answered it, he removed his hat from Then as she stood before him speaking, de- the head on which dark curling locks still spite the suddenness of his address, despite the clustered thickly, and stood bare-headed before surprise she could but feel, with the self-posses- her—a dignified, handsome gentleman, truly ; sion and kindly courtesy of a gentlewoman, he the very type of some old cavalier family. thought that which resembled Lancelot's apos- “ You must allow me to profit by the infortrophe to poor Elaine :

mation you have afforded me," he said, with

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a certain subdued eagerness in his voice, to " Yes, he had them on board the- I which it was rarely pleasant to listen. “I forget his ship's name, and he was god-father have been hoping for a fair opportunity of to their eldest son ; she was fat when papa introducing myself to Mr. Leigh ; on your knew her, a good deal of her beauty was gone; authority I shall tell him now that the beach but still, do you know, I think there must is not to be gained save in one of his boats." have been a touch of romance in knowing her,

"I will intr luce you to papa. I am Mr. Byron's maid of Athens, at all.” Leigh's daughter," Theo said, animatedly. “I think perhaps the romance would have And then she blushed a little, and laughed a stood a better chance of being unimpaired if little, and added, “At least, I will tell him he, your father, I mean, hadn't known her your strait, your name I do not know ; but fat, and no longer young ; there were many I'll introduce your difficulty to him, and he romantic affairs that sprang out of that song, will place a boat at your service, I am sure, Miss Leigh. Byron was not the only Englishas soon as ever there is water enough in the man who fancied some roe-eyed Greek to be creek.”

his life and soul for a time.” “Perhaps my name may be familiar to Then Mr. Ffrench looked down at the him," the stranger said, handing Theo a card | bright young girl who walked by his side, on which was engraved “Mr. Harold Ffrench.” glancing up at him occasionally with frank “We were in Greece together, but as I was admiring gaze, and as he looked at her his but an amateur your father very possibly deep blue eyes grew strangely tender, and he never heard of me, or if he did, has forgotten thought, “I hope to God her father has not

forgotten me.” “In Greece with papa ! ” Theo exclaimed ; Pear this recorded aspiration in mind when “ did you serve with him ? did you serve that which is to follow is recounted. He under Lord Cochrane? How could you come did devoutly hope that himself and the story to Houghton, and know that papa was here, of his life might be once known, even if now and not give him the great pleasure of seeing partially forgotten things, by the father of this an old comrade at once ?"

girl who had won upon him already, brief as “I may not lay claim to that distinction, had been their intercourse, by the undefinable Miss Leigh.” Mr. Ffrench conveyed a most charm of a most profound sympathy. Through delicate compliment to the daughter by that all the length of that lane which led from the allusion to the sire. Theo kindled to it, rush-covered marsh-bank up to the gardenkindled vividly, but that perhaps she would wall where Mr. Leigh still stood, Harold have done to anything else uttered by that Ffrench hoped it devoutly. When the gate voice, and rendered doubly eloquent by those was gained, and Theo Leigh introduced him eyes.

eagerly to her father, before the latter had “I may not lay claim to that distinction, time to express astonishment at the sight of Miss Leigh. I knew your father, certainly, his daughter on these friendly terms with a knew him well, as did every one else who was stranger, that hope died out and another concerned for the liberty of Greece, and inter- sprang into being. For in answer to Theo's ested in the organisation of her navy; but I “Papa, this gentleman was looking for a way was, as I tell you, an amateur, and my very over to the beach ; he is Mr. Ffrench, and he name may have escaped your father's memory: remembers you in Greece," in answer to this bave you ever heard him mention it ?"

there came no light of recognition into the Never ; did you know the Maid of Athens old officer's eyes: “I am heartily glad to renew and Mr. Black ?"

the acquaintance,” he said courteously ; “your “Wasn't Black her husband ?” name and face have escaped my memory.

I did you know them ?"

am getting an old man, you see ; walk in, Mr. “I did not, but I remember hearing your Ffrench, you are most cordially welcome.” father's name in connection with them. He As Mr. Ffrench took the other's offered had them on board his frigate, hadn't he ?” hand, he saw that if ever known he was now

“Yes," Theo replied. They were walking entirely forgotten. up the lane now, but though she was auxious

(To be continued.) to bring this stranger face to face with her father, she found it very pleasant to be walk- | A PEEP AT SOME OF THE ISLANDS ing and talking with him alone, walking IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC. through the old familiar places which she had OUR readers need not be detained by any known from a child, and talking on that details of our voyage to the Cape of Good scarcely less familiar theme of which her father | Hope, and thence to Sydney. They shall be never tired.

transported at once (metaphorically, of course)

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