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Abbeychurch(14)

2006-08-28 14:27

    Chapter XIV.

    'Well,' said Elizabeth, drawing a long breath, as she went out to walk with Anne and Helen, 'there is the even-handed justice of this world. Of the four delinquents of last Friday, there goes one with flying colours, in all the glory of a successful deceit; you, Anne, who, to say the best of you, acted like a very great goose, are considered as wise as ever; I, who led you all into the scrape with my eyes wilfully blinded, am only pitied and comforted; poor Kitty, who had less idea of what she was doing than any of us, has had more crying and scolding than anybody else; and Lucy, who behaved so well ——oh! I cannot bear to think of her.'

    'It is a puzzle indeed,' said Helen; 'I mean as far as regards Harriet and Lucy.'

    'Not really, Helen,' said Elizabeth; 'it is only a failure in story book justice. Lucy is too noble a creature to be rewarded in a story-book fashion; and as for Harriet, impunity like hers is in reality a greater punishment than all the reproof in the world.'

    'How could she sit by and listen to all that Papa and Mrs. Hazleby were saying?' said Helen.

    'How could she bear the glance of Papa's eye?' said Elizabeth; 'did you watch it? I thought I never saw it look so stern, and yet that contemptible creature sat under it as contentedly as possible. Oh! it made me quite sick to watch her.'

    Are you quite sure that she knew whether my uncle was aware of her share in the matter?' said Anne.

    'She must have seen it in that glance, or have been the most insensible creature upon earth,' said Elizabeth.

    'Ah!' said Anne, 'I have some notion what that eye of your Papa's can be.'

    'You, Anne?' said Elizabeth; 'you do not mean that you could ever have done anything to make him look at you in that way?'

    'Indeed I have,' said Anne; 'do not you remember?'

    'No, indeed,' said Elizabeth.

    'However, it was not quite so bad as this,' said Anne.

    'But do tell us what it was,' said Elizabeth, 'or I shall think it something uncommonly shocking.'

    'I never spoke of it since, because I was too much ashamed,' said Anne; 'and it was very silly of me to do so now.'

    'But when was it?' said Elizabeth.

    'Two years ago,' said Anne, 'when you were all staying at Merton Hall, just before that nice nursery-maid of yours, Susan, married our man Evans.'

    'Yes, I remember,' said Elizabeth; 'but what has that to do with your crime, whatever it may be?'

    'A great deal,' said Anne; 'do not you recollect our hunting all over the garden one day for Winifred and Dora, and at last our asking old Ambrose whether he had seen them?'

    'Oh yes, I think I do,' said Elizabeth; 'and he said that he had seen Susan and the children go down the blind walk. Then I said Dora had talked of seeing a blackbird's nest there, and he answered, with a most comical look, 'Ah! ha! Miss Woodbourne, I fancy they be two- legged blackbirds as Susan is gone to see.''

    'Why, blackbirds have but two legs,' said Helen, looking mystified; 'what did he mean'?'

    'That is exactly what Kate said,' said Elizabeth; 'but really I thought you were sharper, Helen. Cannot you guess?'

    'Not in the least,' said Helen.

    'That Evans was clipping the hedges,' said Anne.

    Elizabeth and Anne indulged in a good laugh at Helen, as much as at Ambrose, and presently Elizabeth said, 'Well, but, Anne, where is your crime?'

    'Oh! I thought you had remembered, and would spare me,' said Anne.

    'But we have not,' said Elizabeth; 'so now for it.'

    'Then if I am to tell,' said Anne, 'do not you recollect that I began to tell Rupert the story in the middle of dinner, when all the servants were there?'

    'O Anne, I never fancied you such a goose!' said Elizabeth.

    'My delinquencies made very little impression on you, then,' said Anne; 'I went on very fluently with the story till just as I had pronounced the words, "two-legged blackbirds," I saw Uncle Woodbourne's eye upon me, as he sat just opposite, with all its cold heavy sternness of expression, and at the same moment I heard a strange suppressed snort behind my chair.'

    'Poor creature!' said Elizabeth; 'but you certainly deserved it.'

    'I was ready to sink under the table,' said Anne; 'I did not dare to look up to Papa or Mamma, and I have been very much obliged to Mamma ever since for never alluding to that terrible dinner.'

    'It is a regular proof that Fun is one of the most runaway horses in existence,' said Elizabeth; 'very charming when well curbed, but if you give him the rein——'

    'Yes, I have been learning that by sad experience all my life,' said Anne, with a sigh.

    'You will never be silly enough to give him up, though,' said Elizabeth.

    'Silly, do you call it?' said Helen.

    'People think so differently on those matters,' said Anne.

    'Yes, but a "spirit full of glee" is what I think the most delightful thing in the world,' said Elizabeth, 'and so do you.'

    'Yes, in old age, when its blitheness has been proved to be something beyond animal spirits,' said Anne.

    'And it is right that people should have animal spirits in their youth,' said Elizabeth, 'not grey heads on green shoulders, like some people of my acquaintance.——Do not be affronted, Helen; I dare say your head will grow greener all your life, it is better to-day than it was on Saturday morning.'

    'But the worst of it is,' said Anne, 'that I believe it is very silly of me, but I am afraid Uncle Woodbourne has always thought me a most foolish girl ever since, and I do not like the idea of it.'

    'Who would?' said Elizabeth; 'I am afraid I cannot tell you what he thinks of your sense, but of this I am sure, that he must think you the choicest damsel of his acquaintance, and wish his daughters were more like you.'

    'And there could not have been the same meaning in his eye when he looked at you, as when he looked at Harriet,' said Helen.

    'Oh no, I hope not,' said Anne.

    'And you understood it a little better than one who can only feel personal inconvenience,' said Elizabeth; 'but how can I blame Harriet when I was the occasion of her fault? it is a thing I can never bear to think of.'

    As Elizabeth said this, they came to a shop where Anne wished to buy some little presents for some children in the village at home, who, she said, would value them all the more for not being the production of the town nearest them. They pursued their search for gay remnants of coloured prints, little shawls, and pictured pocket-handkerchiefs, into the new town, and passed by Mr. Higgins's shop, the window of which was adorned with all the worst caricatures which had found their way to Abbeychurch, the portraits of sundry radical leaders, embossed within a halo of steel-pens, and a notice of a lecture on 'Personal Respectability,' to be given on the ensuing Friday at the Mechanics' Institute, by the Rev. W. Pierce, the Dissenting preacher.

    Mr. Higgins appeared at the shop door, for the express purpose, as it seemed, of honouring Miss Merton and Miss Woodbourne each with a very low bow.

    'There, Helen, is my punishment,' said Elizabeth; 'since you are desirous of poetical justice upon me.'

    'Not upon you,' said Helen, 'only upon Harriet.'

    'Harriet has lost Fido,' said Elizabeth.

    Here Rupert came to meet them, and no more was said on the subject.

    Rupert obeyed his sister tolerably well during most of the day, though he was sorely tempted to ask Elizabeth to send Anne an abstract, in short-hand, of the lecture on Personal Respectability; but he refrained, for he was really fond of his cousin, and very good-natured, excepting when his vanity was offended.

    Anne however was in a continual fright, for he delighted in tormenting her by going as near the dangerous subject as he dared; and often, when no one else thought there was any danger, she knew by the expression of his eye that he had some spiteful allusion on his lips. Besides, he thought some of the speeches he had made in the morning too clever to be wasted on his mother and sister, when his cousins were there to hear them, and Anne could not trust to his forbearance to keep them to himself all day, so that she kept a strict watch upon him.

    In the evening, however, Mr. Woodbourne called her and Helen to play some Psalm tunes from which he wanted to choose some for the Church. He spoke to her in a way which made her hope that he did not think her quite foolish, but she would have been glad to stay and keep Rupert in order. However, she was rejoiced to hear Elizabeth propose to him to play at chess, and she saw them sit down very amicably.

    This proposal, however, proved rather unfortunate, for Elizabeth was victorious in the first battle, the second was a drawn game, and Rupert lost the third, just as he thought he was winning it, from forgetting to move out the castle's pawn after castling his king. He could not bear to be conquered, and pushed away the chess-board rather pettishly.

    'Good morning to you, Prince Rupert,' said Elizabeth triumphantly; 'do you wish for any more?'

    Rupert made no answer, but pulled the inkstand across the table, opened the paper-case, and took up a pen.

    'Oh!' said Elizabeth, 'I suppose we may expect a treatise on the art of fortification, salient angles, and covered ways, not forgetting the surrender of Bristol.'

    No reply, but Rupert scratched away very diligently with his pen, the inkstand preventing Elizabeth from seeing what he was about.

    'Anne,' said Elizabeth, leaning back, and turning round, 'I am thinking of making a collection of the heroes who could not bear to be beaten at chess, beginning with Charlemagne's Paladins, who regularly beat out each other's brains with the silver chess-board, then the Black Prince, and Philippe of Burgundy. Can you help me to any more?'

    Anne did not hear, and Rupert remained silent as ever; and Elizabeth, determining to let him make himself as silly as he pleased, took up her work and sewed on her braid very composedly. Katherine had come down again at dinner-time, and was working in silence. She had been standing by the piano, but finding that no one asked her to play, or took any notice of her, she had come back to the table.

    'Dear me, Prince Rupert,' said she, looking over his shoulder, 'what strange thing are you doing there?'

    'A slight sketch,' said he, 'to be placed in Lizzie's album as a companion to a certain paragraph which I believe she has studied.'

    Rupert threw his pen-and-ink drawing down before Elizabeth. It was really not badly done, and she saw in a moment, by the help of the names which he had scribbled below in his worst of all bad writing, that it represented the Giants, Pope and Pagan, as described in the Pilgrim's Progress, while, close to Pope, was placed a delineation very like Don Quixote, purporting to be the superannuated Giant Chivalry, biting his nails at a dapper little personification of 'Civil and Religious Liberty.' A figure whose pointed head, lame foot, and stout walking-stick, shewed him to be intended for Sir Walter Scott, was throwing over him an embroidered surcoat, which a most striking and ludicrous likeness of Mr. Augustus Mills was pulling off at the other end; and the scene was embellished by a ruined castle in the distance, and a quantity of skulls and cross- bones in the fore-ground. Elizabeth could not but think it unkind of him to jest on this matter, while her eye-lids were still burning and heavy from the tears it had caused her to shed; but she knew Rupert well enough to be certain that it was only a sign that he was out of temper, and had not yet conquered his old boyish love of teazing. She put the paper into her basket, saying, in a low tone, 'Thank you, Rupert; I shall keep it as a memorial of several things, some of which may do me good; but I fear it will always put me in mind that cavaliers of the present day would have little objection to such battles as I was speaking of, even with women, if this poor old gentleman did not retain a small degree of vitality.'

    Rupert was vexed, both at being set down in a way he did not expect, and because he was really sorry that his wounded self-conceit bad led him to do what he saw had mortified Elizabeth more than he had intended.

    'What is it? what is it?' asked Katherine.

    'Never mind, Kate,' said Rupert.

    'Well, but what fun is it?' persisted Katherine.

    'Only downright nonsense,' said Rupert, looking down, and unconsciously drawing very strange devices on the blotting paper, 'unworthy the attention of so wise a lady.'

    'Only the dry bones of an ill-natured joke,' said Lady Merton, who had seen all that passed, from the other end of the table. She spoke so low as only to be heard by her son; but Elizabeth saw his colour deepen, and, as he rose and went to the piano, she felt sorry for him, and soon found an opportunity of reminding him that he had promised to draw something for Edward's scrap-book, and asked him if he would do so now.

    'Willingly,' said Rupert, 'but only on one condition, Lizzie.'

    'What?' said Elizabeth.

    'That you give me back that foolish thing,' said Rupert, fixing his eyes intently on the coach and horses which he was drawing.

    'There it is,' said Elizabeth, restoring it to him. 'No, no, Rupert, do not tear it up, it is the cleverest thing you ever drew, Sir Walter is excellent.'

    Yet, in spite of this commendation, Rupert had torn his performance into the smallest scraps, before his sister came back to the table.

    Anne had been in some anxiety ever since the conclusion of the games; but Sir Edward and Mr. Woodbourne were standing between her and the table, so that she could neither see nor hear, and when at length she had finished playing, and was released, she found Rupert and Elizabeth so quiet, and so busy with their several employments, that she greatly dreaded that all had not gone right. She bethought herself of the sketches Rupert had made in Scotland, asked him to fetch them, and by their help, she contrived to restore the usual tone of conversation between the cousins, so that the remainder of the evening passed away very pleasantly.

    When Anne and Elizabeth awoke the following morning, Anne said that she had remembered, the evening before, just when it was too late to do anything, that the last Sunday Rupert had left his Prayer-book behind him at St. Austin's; and as they were to set off on their journey homewards immediately after breakfast, she asked Elizabeth whether there would be time to walk to the new church and fetch it before breakfast.

    'I think it would be a very pleasant walk in the freshness of the morning, if you like to go,' said she.

    'Oh yes,' said Elizabeth, 'there is plenty of time, and I should like the walk very much; but really, Anne, you spoil that idle boy in a terrible way.'

    'Ah! Rupert is an only son,' said Anne; 'he has a right to be spoilt.'

    'Then I hope that Horace and Edward will save each other from the same fate,' said Elizabeth; 'I do not like to see a sister made such a slave as you have been all your life.'

    'Wait till Horace and Edward are at home in the holidays before you talk of slavery,' said Anne; 'there will be five slaves and two masters, that will be all the difference.'

    'Well are the male kind called barons in heraldry,' said Elizabeth; 'there is no denying that they are a lordly race; but I think I would have sent Mr. Rupert up the hill himself, rather than go before breakfast, with a day's journey before me.'

    'Suppose he would not go?' said Anne.

    'Let him lose his Prayer-book, then,' said Elizabeth.

    'But if I had rather fetch it for him?' said Anne.

    'I can only answer that there are no slaves as willing as sisters,' said Elizabeth.

    The two cousins had a pleasant morning walk up the hill, enjoying the freshness of the morning air, and watching the various symptoms of wakening in the town. They carried the keys of the church with them, as no clerk had as yet been appointed, and they were still in Mr. Woodbourne's possession, so that it was not necessary to call anyone to open the doors for them.

    Whilst Anne was searching for the Prayer-book, Elizabeth stood in the aisle, her eyes fixed on the bright red cross in the centre window over the Altar. The sun-beams were lighting it up gloriously, and from it, her gaze fell upon the Table of Commandments, between it and the Altar. Presently, Anne came and stood by her side in silence. 'Anne,' said Elizabeth, after a few minutes, 'I will tell you what I have been thinking of. On the day when Horace laid the first stone of this church, two years ago, something put me, I am sorry to say, into one of my old fits of ill temper. It was the last violent passion I ever was in; I either learnt to control them, or outgrew them. And now, may this affair at the Consecration be the last of my self-will and self-conceit; for indeed there is much that is fearfully wrong in me to be corrected, before I can dare to think of the Confirmation.'

    Perhaps we cannot take leave of Elizabeth Woodbourne at a better moment, therefore we will say no more of her, or of the other inhabitants of the Vicarage, but make a sudden transition to the conversation, which Anne had hoped to enjoy on the journey back to Merton Hall.

    She had told her father of nearly all her adventures, had given Fido's history more fully, informed Rupert of all that he had missed, and was proceeding with an account of Helen. 'Really,' said she, 'I have much more hope of her being happy at home, than I had at first.'

    'I will answer for it that she will be happy enough,' said Rupert; 'she has been living on flummery for the last half-year, and you cannot expect her to be contented with mutton-chops just at first.'

    'Helen does not find so much fault with the mutton-chops as with the pepper Lizzie adds to them,' said Anne.

    'I should be sorry to live without pepper,' said Rupert.

    'I am not so sure of that,' said Lady Merton.

    'At least you do not wish to have enough to choke you,' said Anne; 'you must have it in moderation.'

    'I think Lizzie is learning moderation,' said Lady Merton; 'she is acquiring more command of impulse, and Helen more command of feeling, so that I think there is little danger of their not agreeing.'

    'Is it not curious, Mamma,' said Anne, 'that we should have been talking of the necessity of self-control, just before we set out on this visit, when I told you that line of Burns was your motto; and now we find that the want of it is the reason of all that was wrong between those two sisters. I wonder whether we could make out that any more of the follies we saw in this visit were caused by the same deficiency in anyone else.'

    'Beginning at home?' said Sir Edward.

    'Of course, Papa,' said Anne; 'I know that my failure in self-control has done mischief, though I cannot tell how much. I laughed at the Hazlebys continually, in spite of Mamma's warning, and encouraged Lizzie to talk of them when I had better not have done so; and I allowed myself to be led away by eagerness to hear that foolish lecture. I suppose I want control of spirits.'

    'And now having finished our own confession, how merrily we begin upon our neighbours!' said Rupert; 'whom shall we dissect first?'

    'Indeed, Rupert,' said Anne, 'I do not want to make the most of their faults, I only wish to study their characters, because I think it is a useful thing to do. Now I do not see that Kate's faults are occasioned by want of self-control; do you think they are, Mamma?'

    'Do you think that piece of thistle-down possesses any self-control?' said Rupert.

    'You mean that Kate does not control her own conduct at all, but is drifted about by every wind that blows,' said Anne; 'yes, it was Miss Hazleby's influence that made her talk so much more of dress than usual, and really seem sillier than I ever saw her before.'

    'And what do you say of the fair Harriet herself?' said Rupert.

    'Nothing,' said Anne.

    'And Mrs. Hazleby is her daughter in a magnifying glass,' said Rupert; 'a glorious specimen of what you all may come to. And Mrs. Woodbourne?'

    'Oh! I have nothing to do with the elders,' said Anne; 'but if you want me to find you a fault in her, I shall say that she ought to control her unwillingness to correct people. And now we have discussed almost everyone.'

    'From which discussion,' said Rupert, 'it appears that of all the company at Abbeychurch, the sole possessor of that most estimable quality, the root of all other excellencies, is——your humble servant.'

    On this unfortunate speech of poor Rupert's, father, mother, and sister, all set up a shout of laughter, which lasted till Rupert began to feel somewhat enraged.

    'Oh! I did not say that I had done with everybody,' said Anne; 'but, perhaps, whatever I might think, I might not have presumed——'

    'O Rupert!' said Lady Merton,

    'Could some fay the giftie gie us To see oursels as others see us——' 'Mamma's beloved Burn's Justice again,' interrupted Rupert.

    'No, no, we do not mean to let our mouths be stopped,' said Lady Merton; 'such a challenge must be answered.'

    'Shew him no mercy, Anne,' said Sir Edward; 'he likes pepper.'

    'Pray, Rupert,' said Anne, 'what would you have been without self- control, if, possessing such a quantity of it, you still allowed so much spirit of mischief to domineer over you, that you frightened Dora out of her wits about Winifred, and tormented Helen all the way to Whistlefar, and worst of all, that you could not help writing that wicked poem, and then pretending that it was mine; why, it was an outrage upon us all, it would have been bad enough if the name had belonged to no one, but when you knew that he was a real man——'

    'And that Miss Hazleby wrote his name on purpose that something of the kind might be done,' said Rupert; 'I gratified her beyond measure, and then was so kind and disinterested as to give you the credit of it, if you would have accepted it. You may be sure that she will shew the poem to her hero, and tell him what a charming fellow that young Rupert Merton is.'

    'Now just listen, Mamma,' said Anne; 'I begged of Mr. Rupert not to write anything about Fido in the Conglomeration on Saturday evening; and because I did so, he would write nothing on his own account, but pretending to read my verses, he brings out a horrible composition about a certain Mr. Francis Hollis, who, Miss Hazelby had been telling us, had been the means of her going to an officers' ball, at Hull, and whom she had danced with——'

    'Capital, capital!' cried Rupert; 'I never heard all this; I did not know how good my poem was, I knew the truth by intuition.'

    'But having heard this made it all the worse for me,' said Anne; 'and Mamma, this dreadful doggerel——'

    'Anne, I declare——' cried Rupert.

    'And, Mamma, this dreadful doggerel,' proceeded Anne, 'proposed to send Fido's heart to this Mr. Hollis, and so put him in raptures with a gift from Miss Hazleby, and fill his mind with visions of a surrogate, and a wedding tour to Harrogate. Now was it not the most impertinent ungentlemanlike thing you ever heard of?'

    'How can you talk such nonsense, Anne?' said Rupert; 'do you think I should have written it, if I had not known it would please her?'

    'I believe you would not have dared to behave in such a manner to Lizzie, or to anyone else who knew what was due to her,' said Anne; 'if Miss Hazleby is vain and vulgar, she is still a woman, and ought to be respected as such.'

    Rupert laughed rather provokingly. 'It is just as I say,' said Anne; 'now is it not, Mamma?'

    'Oh yes, Anne,' said Rupert, 'perfectly right, you have caught Helen's sententious wisdom exactly; I have no doubt that such were the thoughts which passed through her mind, while she sat like propriety personified, wondering how you could have so little sense of decorum as to laugh at anything so impudent.'

    'I know I ought not to have laughed,' said Anne; 'that was one of the occasions when I did not exert sufficient self-control. But there was really very little to laugh at, it was quite an old joke. Rupert had disposed of Fido's heart long before, but he is so fond of his own wit, that he never knows when we have had enough of a joke.'

    'I could tell you of something much worse, Anne,' said Lady Merton, 'which quite proves the truth of what you say.'

    Rupert coloured, made an exclamation about something in the road, and seemed so much discomposed by this hint, that Anne forbore to ask any questions.

    'Rupert fitted himself to a T, that we must say for him,' said Sir Edward.

    'What do you mean, Papa?' said Anne.

    'There is another word which begins with self-con——' said Lady Merton,' which suits him remarkably well.'

    'Ah! ha!' cried Anne.

    'At any rate,' cried Rupert vigorously, 'do not make it appear as if I were the only individual with a tolerable opinion of my own advantages——when Helen looks like the picture of offended dignity if you presume to say a syllable contrary to some of her opinions, or in disparagement of dear Dykelands; and Kate thinks herself the most lovely creature upon earth, and the only useful person in the house; and Harriet believes no one her equal in the art of fascination; and Mrs. Woodbourne thinks no children come within a mile of hers in beauty and excellence; and Lizzie——'

    'I am sure few people are more humble-minded than Lizzie,' interrupted Anne indignantly.

    'What, when she would take no one's advice but her own, if it were to save her life?' said Rupert.

    'But she thinks everyone better than herself, and makes no parade either of her talents or of her usefulness,' said Anne.

    'Still she has a pretty high opinion of her own judgement,' said Rupert.

    'Well she may,' said Anne.

    'When it leads her to go to Mechanics' Institutes,' said Rupert; 'that is the reason Anne respects her so much.'

    'I advise you to throw no stones at her, Sir,' said Sir Edward; 'it would be well if some people of my acquaintance were as upright in acknowledging deficiencies in themselves, as she is.'

    'Besides, I cannot see that Helen is conceited,' said Anne; 'if she was, she would not be made unhappy by other people's criticisms.'

    'Helen wants a just estimate of herself,' said Lady Merton; 'she cares more for what people say of what she does, than whether it is good in itself.'

    'But, Anne,' said Sir Edward, 'why do not you claim to be the only person in the world devoid of conceit?'

    'Because I am conceited in all the ways which Rupert has mentioned,' said Anne; 'I believe myself witty, and wise, and amiable, and useful, and agreeable, and I do not like taking advice, and I am very angry when my friends are abused, and I do believe I think I have the most exquisite brother in the world; and besides, if I said I was not conceited it would be the best possible proof of the contrary.——But, Mamma, there is a person whom we have not mentioned, who has no conceit and plenty of self-control.'

    'Do you mean little Dora?' said Lady Merton.

    'No, not Dora, though I am pretty much of Mrs. Woodbourne's opinion respecting her,' said Anne; 'I meant one who is always overlooked, Miss Lucy Hazleby.'

    'She may have every virtue upon earth for aught I know,' said Rupert; 'I can only testify that she has un grand talent pour le silence.'

    'I only know her from what my cousins told me,' said Anne; 'they seem to have a great respect for her, though Helen is the only person she ever seems to talk to. I never could make her speak three words to me.'

    'She has a fine countenance and very sweet expression, certainly,' said Lady Merton.

    'Poor girl,' said Sir Edward; 'she blushes so much, that it was almost painful to look at her.'

    'You seem to be utterly deficient in proofs of her excellence,' said Rupert; 'you will leave her a blank page at last.'

    'Pages are not always blank when you see nothing on them,' said Lady Merton; 'characters may be brought out by the fire.'

    'Yes, Mamma, the fire of temptation,' said Anne; 'and I have heard Lucy tried by her mother's violence, and she never concealed any part of the truth as far as only regarded herself, even to avoid those terrible unjust reproofs, and put herself forward to bear her sister's share of blame; and she was firm in turning back from the Mechanics' Institute when her sister scolded her.'

    'Firmness, which, in so timid a person, proved that she had more self-control than any of you,' said Sir Edward.

    'Then let us wind up the history of our visit in a moral style,' said Anne, 'and call it a lesson on Self-control and Self-conceit.'

    'Nonsense,' said Rupert; 'do you think that if anyone read its history, they would learn any such lesson unless you told them beforehand?'

    'Perhaps not,' said Sir Edward, 'as you have not learnt it from your whole life.'

    'No,' said Lady Merton; 'that lesson is not to be learnt by anyone who is not on the watch for it.'

    'So we conclude with Mamma's wisdom,' said Rupert.

    'And Rupert's folly,' said Anne.

    THE END

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