Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

warm in the afternoon,"—the feeling that “I wish you would show any civility you would have been of slow growth under these can to his wife and daughter. I think they circumstances, sprang up speedily in the would like to see the Grange, and to know you ; chequered shade, in the hum of sun-born and as Mr. Leigh intends taking his little girl insects, and the fragrance of sun-born flowers. to town in May, you might act as her chapeThe day, the hour was enough for the girl. rone if you knew her before.

Couldn't you All joy, all that made her know how sweet call ?

Yours always, a thing life was, pervaded her spirit in his

“ HAROLD FFRENCH." presence, and in her ecstasy of bliss she took no heed of what the morrow might bring forth. “How disgusting of Harold ! he doesn't say And he ! Who can tell “what idle dream, a word about coming back here. No, I won't what lighter thought, what vanity full dearly call on his friends ; I'll see them anywhere bought, joined to her eyes' dark witchcraft,” first.” chained him to the village in which Theo She was a very pretty woman, this cousin of Leigh underwent her transformation ?

Mr. Ffrench's, of whom he had said to For chained there he was, apparently ; he himself that it would please her to please him. took a sketch of “the Point” the second day A fair, tall woman of thirty with loosely of his sojourn at Houghton, and when that arranged nut-brown hair, and liquid blue eyes, was done, there was no good and valid reason and an espiègle face. A pretty woman and a why he should have remained there any longer. fascinating one-not the ideal British matron, But still he stayed on yet another day, and but still a mighty pleasant one if nothing that yet another, till the days grew into a week, was very dear to you was in her keeping. and the week into a fortnight, and at the end “Dull as I am here ! so heartless of him," of the fortnight he called Miss Leigh “Theoshe muttered after once more reading the letter ; in a tone that made her love her name.

men are so horribly selfish.

Then a few

tears of weariness and spite welled up into her The cold in clime are cold in blood.

liquid blue eyes, and Mrs. Galton rose up and Their love is scarcely worth the name ; will walked to the wiudow. all my English readers feel disapprovingly It was a French window, and it opened on a towards my heroine because this love of hers flight of steps which led down into a garden, was no time-ripened one, but a thing that gorgeous even at that early season with the flooded her soul like a sun-burst in a moment? brightest flowers. Beyond the flower beds and I own that it was reprehensible not to put the lawn there was an invisible fence and a haout the light for sweet prudence' sake for ha, and away from this a timbered meadow awhile, but she did not, she could not. The that kept up the park-like and pleasure-ground statement is true, and must stand ; at the appearance of the place. end of a fortnight Harold Ffrench called Miss By-and-by across that meadow and over the Leigh “Theo,” and Theo rejoiced in his so ha-ha and along the lawn and up the steps calling her.

came a man whose progress towards her she

watched indifferently at first and then with KATE GALTON.

contemptuous eyes.

But as he came near That letter—successor to the one whose enough to read them Kate banished the concomposition cost Harold Ffrench so much care tempt and reinstated the normal expression of and thought—which we saw last in the hands innocence so successfully that Mr. Galton baci of the trusty idler upon Houghton, arrived at pot the smallest occasion to be dissatisfied its destination about ten o'clock on the follow- with his wife's matutinal welcome. ing morning, and was read by its recipient over “ I'm sorry I could not get down in time to her solitary breakfast-table.

pour out your coffee, dear,” she said, holding up “ How disgusting of Harold ! was her ex- her cheek to be kissed as he entered. clamation, as she concluded the perusal of the a tall well-looking man of five or six and thirty, epistle, which ran as follows :

with a florid, good tempered face, and close

cropped auburn hair and whiskers. Houghton, 8th April, 1851. “Look here : don't pore over your painting “Dear Kate,—The headland will be the to-day,” he said blithely; come out with me; very thing for our picture. I shall have to I want to go to Norwich to look at a young avail myself of the courtesy of the officer in horse Jack Able has, and I thought I'd drive command of the station here in order to get you and the kid if you'd go." put over to the beach. By the way he happens “Much too long a ride for that child, John. curiously enough to have been in Greece with I'll go with you, of course. As to the painting, me.

I'm sick of it."


He was

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


where's the kid ? I bave not seen her toShe looked up into his eyes, and laughed. day."

“I do tire of most things soon, don't I, “Out in the garden, I hope, this fine morndear ?"

ing—in the south garden, dear; if you'll go and “As Haversham and I are not amongst them, look for Bijou I will write to poor Harold, I can't say I care very much." He bent over and be ready to go to Norwich with you in her and kissed her as he sa hese words : his half an hour.” brow was wet with the exertion of walking Then the husband and wife separated, he to rapidly home over rough fields to tell her of look for his child, she to write to her cousin, to his plan for the day as soon as he had formed whom she would not have written without her it, and the embrace with which he accom- husband's sanction—for Kate Galton was very panied the kiss was a rough one.

wary. The woman he embraced and kissed so con- Wary even in her treatment of the husband fidingly would have deceived the father of upon whom such wariness was thrown away, for deceit himself had he come in her way. John it was in his nature to trust blindly and wholly Galton's salute revolted her, but she checked when he loved. Wary in her present conall outward signs of it, and replied,

duct towards the man who had failed her as “Tired of you and of Haversham !—my cousin, friend, lover, and to whom she had dear John, tired of heaven and happiness been most unguardedly frank in the past. If

But listen here. Couldn't we get up experience had not taught this woman anything something that would amuse that poor cousin else, it had taught her to be most wondrously of mine? We bored him, dear, evidently, with cautious : cautious, that is, about many things our conjugalities, for I have had a letter from—about the majority of her acts and the whole | him this morning, bemoaning as usual: a plague of her correspondence. Of her spoken words he is, isn't he ?

she took less heed, provided none other than “I don't see why you need plague yourself the one to whom they were specially addressed about him."

were by. But in her letters she was careful, No, I needn't, as far as duty goes ; for he

very careful. isn't my brother, though I've always looked Fourteen years before, when she was a girl upon him as one ; but he has always been most of sixteen, very vain and very impressionable, affectionate and generous to me, and I should her cousin Harold Ffrench had come back to like to see him happy.”

England after a prolonged absence, during “ Well, what does he want now ?

which he had been a myth to her, so little had “He doesn't 'want'--that is, he don't say his family heard of his doings. But when she that he wants anything ; but he's evidently was sixteen, Harold came home and took up bored where he is—at some dirty inn in a dirty his residence at her father's house, and devoted village ; and he doesn't seem to like to come himself in a sort of elder-brotherly way to his here, poor fellow, without an excuse. I wish cousin Kate. you would give him


The elder-brotherly manner, admirably as “ Pooh! An excuse—what can he want of it was designed and carried out, broke down an excuse for coming to a house where he has after a period. Kate's cheek did not exactly always been made welcome ?

grow pale and thinner than was well for “Ah ! but that's been by me, and I am his one so young," nor did her eye hang with a sister-I mean his cousin, you know. You mute observance on all his motions, but she must write and ask him to come back to help grew desperately fond of him and showed it in you in something ; that will make him think her own way : and he, being unable either to that you really want him, and that you don't reciprocate fully or to tear himself from the only tolerate him because you're fond of me.” girl who was developing fresh fascinations every |

“I daresay he's happy enough where he day, tried to cure her with calmness, and he is; if he were not he'd go somewhere else." failed.

“ No, he isn't happy, John. His letter (I His habits of intimate intercourse with her wish I'd not torn it up ) is written in such a had come on so gradually that at the end of doleful strain ; do get him back here."

three years he was startled to find that others “I have nothing more alluring to hold out --their relations, mutual friends, the world to him than the prospect of seeing the hay cut at large, indeed—were deceived into supby-and-by, and the young horse I'm going to posing that which he had sedulously reAble about to-day broken.”

frained from giving the girl herself just cause “ You dear old dunderhead! Shall I write, for supposing. Candid as he had been with then, and put it to him nicely ?

her-for up to a certain point he bad been very “Yes, do, there's a darling. And I say, Kate, I candid with his pretty cousin—he was fain to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

confess that he had been very injudicious- Then, despite the dangerous flattery conas injudicious as the girl herself ; and that, con- tained in those words, and that meaning of sidering how much she knew how well she was hers, this man, who was no better and no cautioned, was saying not a little. But this worse than thousands of his class and age, confession to his own heart and to her did not said words for her good that were very hard mend matters, for Kate refused to aid him to utter to so fair, so winning a woman. in making it patent that it had been in all “My dear Kate, how you ha deceived fraternal kindness, and nothing more, this inti- yourself and me for four years.” macy of theirs. Young girl as she was, she was “Deceived you? No.” very wary even then; and she thought that “Indeed you have, to the extent of making the world's opinion might do what her charms me believe that you really loved me, and had been powerless to effect_namely, coerce almost making yourself believe it too. Accept him into a course of conduct in which there the tribute of my unbounded astonishment would be both wrong and risk.

and admiration. I had no idea you were a " What is it that makes you eternally swear young lady of such resource.” Then he added, that you never can be more than a brother to fearing that she might press him again on this me, Harold ?” she asked him once.“ I will look point, and judging that the cause justified a over the impertinence, if you will tell me the little bitterness : cause. Is it that you care more for another “O little Kate, forgive me if I am bitter, woman?

but you have shown me what I ought to have He shook his head.

known before--that all women are as deceitful “ Don't tempt me, Kate-for your own as the devil. You might as well have let me sake.'

think well of you.” Then he muttered words “ Not tempt you to tell ?—but I will, dear. to the effect that “women had been his bane, If you had commenced your cautions at an some with the love they bore him, and others earlier stage, I might have accepted them and with their hate," the sound of which reached your resolve in silence; but after letting Kate's ears. people think for so long that we are engaged, “Don't trouble yourself to taunt in poetry ; I think I ought to be told the reason why we that's not necessary for my complete cure,” cannot be."

she said in a tone that made Harold exclaim, I didn't mean don't tempt me to tell that ; “Gad ! you cold-blooded women have the but don't tempt me in any other way. My best of it. Women are as deceitful as the fate is devilish hard as it is, without a girl devil. Curse it, you might as well have let like yourself showing me constantly how much me think well of you.brighter it might be.”

Shortly after this conversation, Harold Harold Ffrench had been more winningly Ffrench had gone away roaming no one knew handsome and attractive when he said this whither again, and soon after his departure than at the later date when I introduced him Kate went down to stay at Newmarket for and Theo Leigh to my readers. He might the race week. She was in rare spirits and have won the heart of the hardest in those high beauty at the time, for Harold's abrupt earlier days, had he essayed to do so. His departure was attributed to her having refused cousin Kate was a vain girl ; not one burdened him. This created a fictitious interest in the with deep feeling, but she was young and minds of men about her, and brought her a impressionable, and she abominated being certain popularity that was as pleasant to her baffled. She knew that he liked her, and in vanity as had been Harold's love. At Newthat he was better looking than any other of market the chief object of interest was the her acquaintances she liked him too. So when winner of the “


,” “Beelzebub;" and next he pleaded that she should not tempt him, in the order of the talked-about was

6 Beelzeand declared that his fate was hard already, bub's” owner and breeder, a Mr. Galton, a she grew very daring—daring as only an Norfolk squire, who lived on his own estate, insatiably vain, cool-headed, unimpassioned and just escaped being a county man. woman may be with impunity.

He was a pleasant, good-tempered, good“Harold, I could bear anything I could looking man, not too intelligent, Kate thought, stand anything for you or from you,” she but not stupid by any means, for he soon exclaimed ; and her looks were more eloquent made it evident to the young lady herself and than her words.

all around that he admired her very much. “ You don't know what you are saying, Had he not been the chief object of interest Kate," he replied almost coldly.

in that sporting circle through being “ BeelzeYes, I do ; I know full well what I am bub's” owner, Kate would have turned up saying, and I mean it.”

her nose at him. As it was, she was gracious

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and merciful, and fanned the flame which was must introduce me to him and to your little palpably consuming him. It occurred to her daughter.” that it would be rather pleasant than other- “My big daughter, if you please. Katy is wise to be the mistress of a house, the owner eight years old ; as to my husband, I shall be of which had a name in the sporting world, delighted to introduce you to his goodness, on and bred winning horses. He had " a colt in which you must excuse me if I don't expatiate training for the Derby next year,” he told further. I have so many opportunities of stuher, and Kate saw herself in an elegantly dying it uninterruptedly at Haversham all the appointed carriage, receiving the congratula- year, that I prefer a change of subject during tions of all that was fastest and most horsey my month at Brighton. Tell me what you in the Peerage on that colt's prowess. John | have been about and where you have been all

| Gaiton looked such a big, amiable fellow, that these years, Harold.” he would be as easily managed as a Newfound- “I can more easily tell you where I have land dog, she thought. Above all, she did not been ; but I am tired of wandering, and not want Harold Ffrench to come back and having met with unpleasantness in most other find her unmarried.

places, I have come to the conclusion that So she married Mr. Galton, and went down, England, with all thy faults I love thee still,' after her wedding tour, for what she meant and that I may as well give my own land a to be a brief sojourn at Haversham Grange. benefit. I see you're looking at me and thinkBut when she mooted the question of leaving ing what an old fellow I have grown, Kate, it, and going in search of the gaiety and while you are in a better bloom than when I society for which she pined, she found that saw you last. See what it is to be married and her husband, though amiable and attached to happy !” her, had a will of his own that she could not “About my being married there is no doubt; break. He was well off —well enough off to as to the other thing—well, the less said the live like a gentleman upon his own estate, better. 'Twas not love made me marry John and to indulge in all the sports and pastimes Galton, as you'll believe when you see him ; I of his county. But he was not a rich man, speak to you as to a brother, you see.” and he had not the smallest inclination to " And I'll return the compliment and speak dissipate what he had in doing what he didn't to you as I would to a sister. Keep your reasons, care to do, namely, going to town in the whatever they are, to yourself, and make comseason, and seeking ingress to the ranks of plaints to no man. Is your child pretty ?” those amongst whom his wife so much desired “Some people think her lovely,” Mrs. Galto shine,

ton answered, glancing at her cousin through Are we to live all the year round at the her languishing lashes. “Do you remember Grange, dear John ?" she had asked.

what I was when you came home the first time, Well, I suppose you'll want to keep up Harold ?" your town habits and go to the seaside in Perfectly well.” August, Kate. We'll go to Cromer next year ; Katy is very much like what I was then: Cromer is as nice a place, to my mind, as people say she will never have a something in Brighton.”

her manner that I have, but still she is like “Very well, we'll go there," she replied, memor rather like what I was when you came for in all things she resolved to agree with him home the first time.” verbally. Nevertheless she had her own will “Rather a forward little girl of eight to be about the solitary annual outing. It was to like you at sixteen. You were an uncommonly Brighton they always went for the sea-air ; at grown-up young lady then, Kate.

So your Cromer, and indeed every other dull place, friends say she lacks the charm of her mamma's Mrs. Galton was invariably at death's door.

Well, I daresay she will get on very It was at Brighton that some nine years well without it.” Then, seeing her look a after her marriage she again met her cousin little chagrined, he added : “You get too many Harold. They elected to ignore the circum- compliments to need them from me ; besides stances that attended their parting, and met they're not current coin between brother and as cousins should meet after such a long ab- sister, you know, and such are to be our re

She was on the pier alone when he lations." saw her first, and he asked for her husband After this rencontre at Brighton the Galtons and her child with a promptitude that must saw a good deal of Harold Ffrench. Kate was have been delightful to her wifely and ma- his sole surviving female relative, and he had a ternal heart,

or her very faults which “I hear you're married to the best fellow was due to that nameless something in her in the world, Kate ; where is he? You manner, which little Katy lacked. He liked

certain tendernes

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]





her husband too, liked him for his good-heart- on Harold's part; and she liked men to be, and edness and confiding trust in everybody, and feel, and show themselves weak on her account. his happy habit of seeing the best that can He would soon be back again, she told herbe seen on all occasions. It was true that self ; such flights were never for long ; her falJohn Galton was not much of a companion for con would come back, and her jesses would be the travelled, accomplished gentleman, who upon him again stronger than before. had cultivated his ear, and eye, and taste Aye, stronger than before, for he had slipped assiduously for years, in the best schools for those jesses once, when to wear them would such cultivation that Europe offered, in the have been no shame to her. Now he had hope of deadening his heart. That he had not come back and fitted them on himself again, succeeded in so deadening it utterly was shown and is not the relapse invariably worse than in this fact, that he was alive to John Galton's the first disease ? So for a few days the thoughts somewhat rough merit. “ An honest man's of him filled her leisure sufficiently, and prethe noblest work of God,” he said one day to vented her finding her husband and child more Kate, pointing out as he spoke the burly form than ordinarily tedious and boring. But after of her good-natured husband, who was turning a few days-after the receipt of that letter, himself into a beast of burden for his child's they grew extraordinarily so; and Kate Galton amusement. “What a pity it is you women waxed pettish and found as little pleasure in never think so."

her painting as aught else that Haversham I prefer art to honesty. Come in, Harold, 'could offer her. But still, though she pined and let us get on with our bay. I want you to for Harold Ffrench's company, she was such give my waves a second painting : they won't a prudent woman that she would not seem to come right.”

seek it by obeying his request and going to 5. You promised to stay out all the morning call on tlose friends he had made at Houghton. with Katy."

Come what would, wary Mrs. Galton resolved “Oh, leave the tiresome brat with her father! that the surface should show that Harold had I shall get daggers in my head if I stay out always sought her with her husband's permishere in the sun. And I'm so interested in my sion,-never that she had sought Harold, unpicture.”

less requested by John Galton to do so. So they went away into Harold's temporary So, while she was hourly expecting Harold studio together, and her brush went freely over back the days passed and May came in, and the canvas on which she was reproducing his there was commotion up in London about the nearly finished picture.

great Exhibition, and all the wonders it con“ Upon my word you've caught my touch tained, and all the visitors whom those won

s wonderfully, Kate,” he said, coming up to her ders drew to our shores. Mrs. Galton waxed easel, and looking at her effort with the admi- very pettish indeed now, for her husband kept ration one is apt to bestow upon a tolerably on asking her what day “she'd like to go to accurate copy of one's own original idea ; “it's town;" and she felt that she would not like to a pity, though, you didn't tackle something go to town at all until she knew whether higher.”

Harold would be there with her or not, for “ Something higher ?"

London with John Galton alone was not to her “Yes, a Landseer, or a Sir Joshua, or an taste. There had been no letter from Harold original picture. By Jove ! Kate, why not an in reply to that one in which she had answered original picture ?"

his request by simply entreating him to “come I should fail, Harold,” Mrs. Galton re- back to Haversham as John wanted him very plied, softly. “I shall never paint, never copy much.” At length she gave up expecting such anything but yours.”

letter, and cleverly lured her husband on to This took place a day or two before Harold asking her to go to Houghton. Ffrench went away to Houghton where he met “John, do you know that Harold has found Theo Leigh. He discovered immediately after some old friends at Houghton, some man he it that to give reality to the headland which he knew abroad somewhere, with a nice wife? I'm desired to introduce into his picture, he must so glad of it, I wish he'd bring them here." paint from nature and not trust to his imagina- “When did you hear this ?” tion; that had run away with him on former “In that letter I had from him he told me occasions, he said, and should never be relied I've only had that one. There's a daughter in upon again.

the case, and Harold asks me to be kind to her Kate was not precisely displeased at his in London ; her father is going to take her up Alight-for his departure was of the character to see the Exhibition.” of a flight, it was so abrupt, so unexpected. “ That's right,” John Galton said heartily, She chose to take it as a confession of weakness | he was always ready to enter into anything of

[ocr errors]


« AnteriorContinuar »