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Abbeychurch(11)

2006-08-28 14:20

    Chapter XI.

    As soon as Mrs. Hazleby made her appearance in the drawing-room before dinner, Rupert began repeating,

    'The wound it seemed both sore and sad

    To every Christian eye,

    And while they swore the dog was mad,

    They swore the child would die,

    But soon a wonder came to light,

    That shewed the rogues they lied,

    The child recovered of the bite,

    It was the dog that died.'

    'I beg to offer my congratulations,' continued he, setting a chair for her.

    Mrs. Hazleby looked surprised.

    'On the demonstration we have this day received of your superior judgement, Ma'am,' said Rupert, 'though indeed we could hardly have doubted it before.'

    'Pray let me understand you, Mr. Merton,' said Mrs. Hazleby.

    'Have you not heard of the circumstance to which I allude?' said Rupert; 'for if you are not already aware of it, I must beg to be excused from relating it; I could not bear to give so great a shock to a lady's feelings.'

    'Oh! you mean about Fido,' said Mrs. Hazleby, almost smiling; 'yes, Lucy told me that you had found him. Really, my girls are so careless, I can trust nothing to them.'

    'Indeed, Madam,' said Rupert, 'I assure you that nothing could have been more heart-rending than the scene presented to our eyes when the Miss Hazlebys first became aware of the untimely fate of their favourite. Who could behold it with dry eye——or dry foot?' added he, in an under-tone, with a side glance at Anne.

    Rupert contrived to talk so much nonsense to Mrs. Hazleby, that he charmed her with his attention, gave her no time to say anything about Fido, and left Anne much surprised that she had never found out that he was laughing at her. At dinner, the grouse he had brought came to their aid; Mrs. Hazleby was delighted to taste a blackcock once more, and was full of reminiscences of Inchlitherock; and by means of these recollections, and Rupert's newly imported histories, Sir Edward and Mr. Woodbourne contrived to make the conversation more entertaining than Elizabeth thought it ever could be in any party in which Mrs. Hazleby was present.

    Afterwards in the drawing-room, Dora's bulrushes and the other children's purchases were duly admired, and the little people, being rather fatigued, were early sent to bed, although Edward vehemently insisted, with his eyes half shut, that he was not in the least sleepy. The elder girls then arranged themselves round the table. Helen was working a bunch of roses of different colours; Anne admired it very much, but critics were not wanting to this, as to every other performance of Helen's.

    'It is all very pretty except that rose,' said Katherine, 'but I am sure that is an unnatural colour.——Is it not, Anne ?'

    'I do not think that I ever saw one like it,' said Anne; 'but that is no proof that there is no such flower.'

    'What do you think, Lizzie?' said Katherine; 'ought not Helen to alter it?'

    Anne was rather alarmed by this appeal; but Elizabeth answered carelessly, without looking up, 'Oh! you know I know nothing about that kind of work.'

    'But you can tell what colour a rose is,' persisted Katherine; 'now do not you think Helen will spoil her work with that orange-coloured rose? who ever heard of such a thing?'

    Helen was on the point of saying that one of the gable-ends of the house at Dykelands was covered with a single rose of that colour, but she remembered that Dykelands was not a safe subject, and refrained.

    'Come, do not have a York and Lancaster war about an orange-coloured rose, Kate,' said Elizabeth, coming up to Helen; 'why, Anne, where are your eyes? did you never see an Austrian briar, just the the colour of Helen's lambs-wools?'

    Though this was a mere trifle, Helen was pleased to find that Elizabeth could sometimes be on her side of the question, and worked on in a more cheerful spirit.

    'Why, Anne,' said Elizabeth, presently after, 'you are doing that old wreath over again, that you were about last year, when I was at Merton Hall.'

    'Yes,' said Anne; 'it is a pattern which I like very much.'

    'Do you like working the same thing over again?' said Katherine; 'I always get tired of it.'

    'I like it very much,' said Anne; 'going over the same stitches puts me in mind of things that were going on when I was working them before.——Now, Lizzie, the edge of that poppy seems to have written in it all that delightful talk we had together, at home, about growing up, that day when Papa and Mamma dined out, and we had it all to ourselves. And the iris has the whole of Don Quixote folded up in it, because Papa was reading it to us, when I was at work upon it.'

    'There certainly seems to be a use and pleasure in never sitting down three minutes without that carpet-work, which I should never have suspected,' said Elizabeth.

    'Anne thinks as I do,' said Mrs. Woodbourne; 'I find carpet-work quite a companion to me, but I cannot persuade Lizzie to take any pleasure in it.'

    'I have not time for it,' said Elizabeth, 'nor patience if I had time. It is all I can persuade myself to do to keep my clothes from being absolute rags.'

    'Yes,' said Katherine; 'you always read with Meg in your lap, when you have no mending to do; you have been six months braiding that frock.'

    'Oh! that is company work,' said Elizabeth; 'I began it at Merton Hall for Dora, but I believe Winifred must have it now. But now it is so nearly done, that I shall finish while you are here.'

    Elizabeth did not however long continue working, for as soon as tea was over she proposed to play at the game of Conglomeration, as she had talked of doing in the course of the walk. 'I give notice, however,' said she, 'that we are likely to laugh more than will suit the gravity of the elders, therefore I recommend adjourning to the inner drawing-room.——Mamma, may we have candles there?'

    Consent was given, and while the candles were being brought, and Elizabeth was looking out some paper, Anne whispered to her brother, 'Rupert, pray say nothing about Fido, or the Mechanics' Institute, or something unpleasant will surely come of it.'

    'Oh! Anne,' was the answer, 'you have robbed me of my best couplet——

    Weeping like forsaken Dido,

    When she found the slaughtered Fido.

    Where is the use of playing if there is to be no fun?'

    ''Where is the use of fun?' said the cockchafer to the boy who was spinning it,' said Anne.

    'Impertinence, impertinence, impertinence,' said Rupert, shaking his head at her.

    By this time all was ready, and Elizabeth called the brother and sister to take their places at the table in the inner drawing-room. She then wrote a substantive at the upper end of a long strip of paper, and folding it down, handed it on to Lucy, who also wrote a noun, turned it down, and gave the paper to Helen, who, after writing hers and hiding it, passed it on to Rupert. Thus the paper was handed round till it was filled. It was then unrolled, and each player was required to write a copy of verses in which these words were to be introduced as rhymes in the order in which they stood in the list. Rupert was rather put out by his sister's not allowing him to turn the poem in the way he wished, and he thought proper to find fault with half the words in the list.

    'HARROGATE,' said he, 'what is to be done with such a word ?'

    'You can manage it very well if you choose,' said Elizabeth.

    'But who could have thought of such a word?' said he, holding up the list to the candle, and scrutinizing the writing. 'Some one with a watery taste, doubtless.'

    'You know those things are never divulged,' said Anne.

    'FRANCES, too,' continued Rupert, 'there is another impossible case; I will answer for it, Helen wrote that, a reminiscence of dear Dykelands.'

    'No, indeed I did not,' said Helen; 'it is FRANCIS, too, I believe.'

    'Oh yes,' said Harriet, 'it is FRANCIS, I wrote it, because——do not you remember, Lucy?——Frank Hollis——'

    'Well, never mind,' said Elizabeth, who wished to hear no more of that gentleman; 'you may make it whichever you please. And Rupert, pray do not be so idle; put down the list, no one can see it; write your own verses, and tell me the next word to witch'

    'EYES,' said Rupert, 'and then BOUNCE. I do not believe that word is English.'

    'BOUNCE, no,' said Katherine; 'it is BONNET, I wrote it myself.'

    'Then why do you make your 't' so short?' said Rupert; 'I must give you a writing lesson, Miss Kitty.'

    'I must give you a lesson in silence, Mr. Rupert,' said Elizabeth.

    'I obey,' said Rupert, with a funny face of submission, and taking up his paper and pencil; but in a minute or two he started up, exclaiming, 'What are they saying about Oxford?' and walked into the next room, intending to take part in the conversation between his father and uncle. Mr. Woodbourne, however, who was no great admirer of Rupert's forwardness, did not shew so much deference to his nephew's opinion as to make him very unwilling to return to the inner drawing-room, when Anne came to tell him that all the poems were finished, and Elizabeth ready to read them aloud.

    'So this is all that you have to shew for yourself,' said Elizabeth, holding up a scrap of paper; 'what is all this?'

    'A portrait of Miss Merton,' said Rupert; 'do not you see the poet's eye in a fine frenzy rolling?'

    'Is it?' said Elizabeth; 'I took it for Miss Squeers in the agonies of death, as I see that is the subject of the poem——all that there is of it, at least.

    Did ever you see a stupider POEM?

    Pray who is the author?  I know him, I know him,

    He went to school to Mr. Squeers,

    Who often made the youth shed TEARS.

    Now for the next, which is nearly as short.

    I will write a POEM,

    Clear and flowing,

    It will make you shed TEARS,

    And excite your fears.

    'Tis about a witch,

    Drowned in a ditch,

    Your tears come from your EYES.

    If you are wise,

    Don't make a BOUNCE,

    Or you'll tear your flounce,

    And upset the sugar JAR,

    Which I cannot spare,

    I must give some to FRANCIS,

    So well he dances;

    Sugar canes packed up in LEAVES,

    The canes are tied up like wheat sheaves;

    Francis wears a scarlet JACKET,

    He made a dreadful racket

    At HARROGATE,

    Because he had to wait,

    In a field of BARLEY,

    To hold a parley,

    About a bone of marrow;

    His heart was transfixed by an ARROW,

    By a lady in VELVET,

    And he was her pet.'

    All laughed heartily at this poem, which perhaps diverted them more than a better would have done; Harriet was highly delighted with what she considered their applause, though she knew that of all the rhymes, scarcely three had been found by herself.

    'Why, Mr. Merton, what are you doing?' asked Harriet; 'are you writing any more?'

    'Oh! I hope he will tell us about Mr. Squeers,' said Katherine.

    No one could doubt that the next which Elizabeth read was her own.

    I'm afraid you expect a beautiful POEM,

    Though I make a long and tedious proem,

    But great and dreadful are my fears,

    No poem of mine will put you in TEARS.

    My genius suggests neither fairy nor witch,

    My tales to adorn with cauldrons of pitch,

    Alarm the world with fiery EYES,

    And from the hero snatch his prize,

    Leap out from her den with a terrible BOUNCE,

    And on the trembling damsel pounce,

    And bottle her up in a close corked JAR,

    Or whirl her away in a flaming car;

    Then her knight, the brave Sir FRANCIS,

    Upon his noble steed advances,

    All his armour off he LEAVES,

    Preserves alone his polished greaves,

    His defence is a buff JACKET,

    Nor sword nor axe nor lance can crack it,

    It was made at HARROGATE,

    By a tailor whose shop had a narrow gate;

    The elves attack with spears of BARLEY,

    But he drives them off, oh! rarely,

    Then they shoot him with an ARROW,

    From bow-strings greased with ear-wigs' marrow,

    The feathers, moth-wings downy VELVET,

    The bow-strings, of the spider's net:

    Thousands come, armed in this PATTERN,

    Which proves their mistress is no slattern;

    Some wear the legs and hoof of PAN,

    And some are in the form of man;

    But the knight is armed, for in his POCKET

    He has a talismanic locket,

    Which once belonged to HERCULES,

    Who wore it on his bunch of keys;

    The fairy comes, quite old and fat,

    Mounted upon a monstrous BAT;

    Around the knight a web she weaves,

    And holds him fast, and there she LEAVES

    Sir Francis weeping for his charmer,

    And longing for his knightly ARMOUR.

    But his sword was cast in the self-same forge

    As that of the great champion GEORGE;

    Thus he defies the witch's ARMY,

    He breaks his bands; 'Ye elves, beware me,

    I fear not your LEVIATHAN,

    No spells can stop a desperate man.'

    Away in terror flies the REAR-GUARD,

    He seizes on the witch abhorred,

    Confines her in a COCKLE SHELL,

    And breaks all her enchantments fell,

    Catches her principal LIEUTENANT,

    Makes him of a split pine the tenant;

    Carries away the lady, nimble,

    As e'er Miss Merton plied her THIMBLE;

    Oh! this story would your frowns unbend.

    Could I tell it to the END.

    'Oh!' said Rupert, glad to seize an opportunity of retaliating upon Elizabeth; 'I give you credit; a very ingenious compound of Thalaba, Pigwiggin, and the Tempest, and the circumstance of the witch whirling away the lady is something new.'

    'No, it is not,' said Elizabeth; 'it is the beginning of the story of the Palace of Truth, in the Veillees du Chateau. I only professed to conglomerate the words, not to pass off my story as a regular old traditional legend.'

    'Well, well,' said Rupert; 'go on; have you only two more?'

    'Only two,' said Elizabeth; 'Kate and Lucy behaved as shabbily as you did. Helen, I believe you must read yours. I can never read your writing readily, and besides, I am growing hoarse.'

    Helen obeyed.

    How hard it is to write a POEM,

    Graceful and witty, plain and clear,

    Harder than ploughing——'tis, or sowing,

    So hard that I should shed a TEAR.

    Did I not know the highest pitch

    Of merit, in the poet's EYES

    Is but to laugh, a height to WHICH

    'Tis not so hard for me to rise.

    For badness soon is gained, forth BOUNCE

    My rhymes such as they are;

    Good critics, on my lines don't pounce,

    Though on the ear they JAR.

    I've had a letter from dear FRANCES,

    Who says, through the light plane tree LEAVES,

    Upon the lawn the sun-beam glances,

    The wheat is bound up in its sheaves

    By Richard, in the fustian JACKET

    His mistress bought at HARROGATE,

    And up in lofty ricks they stack it,

    There for the threshing will it wait.

    Then will they turn to fields of BARLEY,

    Bearded and barbed with many an ARROW,

    Just where the fertile soil is marly,

    And in the spring was used the harrow.

    Drawn by the steeds in coats of VELVET,

    Old Steady, Jack, and Slattern,

    Their manes well combed, and black as jet,

    Their tails in the same PATTERN.

    While Richard's son, with pipe of PAN,

    His hands within his POCKETS,

    Walks close beside the old plough-man,

    Dreaming of squibs and rockets.

    That youth, he greatly loves his ease,

    He's growing much too fat,

    And though as strong as HERCULES,

    He'll only use his BAT.

    He won't sweep up the autumn LEAVES,

    The tree's deciduous ARMOUR,

    No scolding Dickey's spirit grieves

    Like working like a farmer,

    Or labouring like his cousin GEORGE,

    With arms all bare and brawny,

    Within the blacksmith's glowing forge;

    He would be in the ARMY.

    But no, young Dick, you're not the man

    Our realms to watch and ward,

    For worse than a LEVIATHAN

    You'd dread the foe's REAR-GUARD,

    And in the storm of shot and SHELL,

    You'd soon desert your pennant,

    Care nought for serjeant, corporal,

    Or general LIEUTENANT,

    But prove yourself quite swift and nimble,

    And thus would meet your END;

    No, better take a tailor's THIMBLE

    And learn your ways to mend.

    'Capital, Helen!' said Elizabeth.

    'How very pretty!' said Lucy.

    'And very well described,' said Anne; 'you have brought in those ungainly words most satisfactorily.'

    'Now, Helen, here is Anne's,' said Elizabeth; 'it is a choice one, and I have kept it for the last.'

    'Let me read Anne's,' said Rupert; 'no one can decypher her writing as well as I can.'

    'As was proved by the thorough acquaintance you shewed with the contents of her last letter,' said Elizabeth.

    Rupert began as follows:

    Now must I write in numbers flowing Extemporaneously a POEM?

    'Why, Rupert,' cried Anne, 'you must be reading Kate's. Mine began with——'

    'I declare that I have yours in my hand, Anne,' said Rupert.

    'And I did not write one,' said Katherine.

    Now must I write in numbers flowing

    Extemporaneously a POEM?

    One that will fill your eyes with TEARS,

    While I relate how our worst fears

    Were realized in yonder ditch.

    Conveyed there by some water-WITCH,

    We found, sad sight for longing EYES!

    Fido, much loved, though small in size.

    Hard fate, but while our tears bemoan it,

    Let us take up the corpse and BONE it,

    Then place the mummy in a JAR,

    Keep it from sausage-makers far,

    Extract his heart to send to FRANCIS;

    This gift from HER, his soul entrances,

    Within his scarlet gold-laced JACKET

    His heart makes a tremendous racket;

    Visions of bliss arise, a surrogate,

    Ay, and a wedding tour to HARROGATE.

    When Rupert came to Fido, Anne uttered one indignant 'Rupert!' but as he proceeded, she was too much confounded to make the slightest demonstration, and yet she was nearly suffocated with laughter in the midst of her vexation, when she thought of the ball at Hull, and 'Frank Hollis.' Elizabeth and Katherine too were excessively diverted, though the former repented of having ever proposed such a game for so incongruous a party. There was a little self-reproach mingled even with Anne's merriment, for she felt that if she had more carefully abstained from criticising the Hazlebys, or from looking amused by what was said of them, Rupert would hardly have attempted this piece of impertinence. Helen, who considered it as a most improper proceeding, sat perfectly still and silent, with a countenance full of demure gravity, which made Elizabeth and Anne fall into fresh convulsions as they looked at her; Lucy only blushed; and as for Harriet, the last two lines could scarcely be heard, for her exclamations of, 'O Mr. Merton, that is too bad! O Mr. Merton, how could you think of such a thing? O Mr. Merton, I can never forgive you! Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall never stop laughing. Oh dear! Mr. Merton, what would Frank Hollis say to you? how ridiculous!'

    'Now for Anne's real poem, Rupert,' said Elizabeth, not choosing to make any remarks, lest Rupert should consider them as compliments.

    'Have you not heard it?' said Rupert.

    'Nonsense,' said Elizabeth.

    'Why, I told you I had it in my hand,' said Rupert.

    'And you have it still,' said Elizabeth; 'deliver it up, if you please; it is the best of all, I can tell you, I had a cursory view of it.'

    'No, no,' said Anne, who saw that her brother meant to teaze her, and not to restore her verses; 'it was a very poor performance, it is much better for my fame that it should never be seen. Only think what a sublime notion the world will have of it, when it is said that even the great Rupert himself is afraid to let it appear.'

    Elizabeth made another attempt to regain the poem, but without effect, and Anne recalled the attention of all to Helen's verses.

    'What is a pennant?' said Elizabeth; 'I do not like words to be twisted for the sake of the rhyme.'

    A flag,' said Helen.

    'I never doubted that you intended it for a flag,' said Elizabeth; 'but what I complain of is, that it is a transmogrified pennon.'

    'I believe a pennant to be a kind of flag,' said Helen.

    'Let us refer the question to Papa,' said Anne, 'as soon as he has finished that interminable conversation with Uncle Woodbourne.'

    'Really, in spite of that slight blemish,' said Elizabeth, 'your poem is the best we have heard, Helen.'

    'And I can testify,' said Rupert, 'that the description of the cart- horses at Dykelands is perfectly correct. But, Helen, is it true that your friend Dicky has been seized with a fit of martial ardour such as you describe?'

    'Yes,' said Helen, 'he was very near enlisting, but it made his mother very unhappy, and Mrs. Staunton——'

    'Went down upon her knees to beseech him to remain, and let her roast beef be food for him, not himself be food for powder,' said Rupert, 'never considering how glad the parish would be to get rid of him.'

    'No,' said Helen, 'her powder became food for him; she made him under-gamekeeper.'

    'Excellent, Helen, you shine to-night,' cried Elizabeth; 'such a bit of wit never was heard from you before.'

    'Your poem is a proof that the best way of being original is to describe things as you actually see them,' said Anne.

    'Is not mine original? I do not think it was taken from any book,' said Harriet, willing to pick up a little more praise.

    'Not perhaps from any book,' said Elizabeth, with a very grave face; 'but I am afraid we must convict you of having borrowed from the mother of books, Oral tradition.'

    'Oral tradition!' repeated Harriet, opening her mouth very wide.

    'Yes,' said Elizabeth; 'for I cannot help imagining that the former part of your ode is a parody upon

    "I'll tell you a story

    About Jack A'Nory,

    And now my story's begun;

    I'll tell you another

    About Jack and his brother,

    And now my story is done."

    And that your friend Francis must have been the hero who complains so grievously of Taffy the Welshman, whose house was doubtless situated in a field of barley, while his making a dreadful racket is quite according to the ancient notions of what he did with the marrow- bone.'

    'Oh! there is Papa looking in at us,' said Anne; 'now for the question of pennon and pennant.'

    'Oh! Anne, it is all nonsense,' cried Helen; 'do not shew it.'

    But Anne, with Helen's paper in her hand, had already attacked Sir Edward, who, to the author's great surprise, actually read the poem all through, smiling very kindly, and finished by saying, 'Ah ha! Helen, it is plain enough that your friends are naval. I can see where your pennant came from.'

    'But is it not a flag, Uncle Edward?' asked Helen.

    'A flag it is,' said Sir Edward, 'and properly called and spelt pendant.'

    'There, Helen, you are an antidote to the hydrophobia,' said Rupert; 'everything becomes——'

    'Do not let us have any more of that stale joke,' said Elizabeth; 'it is really only a poetical license to use a sea-flag for a land-flag, and Helen had the advantage of us, since we none of us knew that Pennant signified anything but the naturalist.'

    'And pray, Helen,' said Sir Edward, 'am I to consider this poem as an equivalent for the music you have cheated us of, this evening?'

    'I hope you will consider that it is,' said Elizabeth; 'is it not positively poetical, Uncle Edward?'

    Helen was hardly ever in a state of greater surprise and pleasure than at this moment, for though she could not seriously believe that her lines were worthy of all the encomiums bestowed on them, yet she was now convinced that Elizabeth was not absolutely determined to depreciate every performance of hers, and that she really possessed a little kindness for her.

    When Mr. Woodbourne rang the bell, Elizabeth gathered up all the papers, and was going to put them into a drawer, when Harriet came up to her, saying in a whisper, evidently designed to attract notice, 'Lizzie, do give me that ridiculous thing, you know, of Mr. Merton's; I could not bear you to have it, you would shew it to everyone.'

    'Indeed I should do no such thing,' said Elizabeth; 'I never wish to see it more, you are very welcome to it.'

    Harriet received the precious document with great satisfaction, carefully folded it up, and placed it in her bag, very much to Rupert's delight, as he silently watched her proceedings.

    When they went up to bed, Anne followed Lady Merton to her room, in order to ask some question about the dress which she was to wear the next day, Sunday, and after remaining with her a few minutes, she returned to Elizabeth. She found her looking full of trouble, quite a contrast to the bright animated creature she had been a few minutes before.

    'My dear Lizzie,' exclaimed Anne, 'has anything happened? what has grieved you?'

    'Why, Anne,' said Elizabeth, with almost a groan, 'has not enough happened to grieve me? is it not terrible to think of what I have done?'

    Anne stood still and silent, much struck by her cousin's sorrow; for she had considered their expedition to the Mechanics' Institute as a foolish girlish frolic, but by no means as serious a matter as it now proved to be.

    'I want you to tell me, Anne,' continued Elizabeth; 'was I not quite out of my senses yesterday evening? I can hardly believe it was myself who went to that horrible place, I wish you could prove that it was my double-ganger.'

    Anne laughed,

    'But does it not seem incredible,' said Elizabeth, 'that I, Elizabeth Woodbourne, should have voluntarily meddled with a radical, levelling affair, should have sought out Mrs. Turner and all the set I most dislike, done perhaps an infinity of mischief, and all because Kate wanted to go out on a party of pleasure with that foolish Willie. Oh! Anne, I wish you would beat me.'

    'Would that be any comfort to you?' said Anne, smiling.

    'Yes,' said Elizabeth; 'I should feel as if I was suffering a little for my madness. Oh! how I hope Papa will speak to me about it. If he does not, I shall see his displeasure in his eyes, and oh! I could bear anything better than the silent stern way in which he used to look at me, once before, when I had behaved very ill. And then, to- morrow is Sunday, and I shall scarcely see him all day, and he will have no time to speak to me; and how can I get through a Sunday, feeling that he is angry with me? how shall I teach the children, or do anything as usual? Anne, what do you think was the first sound in my ears when I awoke this morning, and has been returning upon me all day?——the words, "It was a tree to be desired to make one wise."'

    'Little wisdom we have gained from it,' said Anne.

    'Eve's wisdom,' said Elizabeth, 'the knowledge of evil, and the wisdom of vanity and vexation of spirit. But was it not curious, Anne? when first I woke, before I had opened my eyes, those words were sounding in my ears, like a dream of Papa's voice, reading the Lesson at church; I almost fell asleep again, and again those words came back in Papa's voice, and then I woke entirely, and before I had seen what kind of day it was, before I knew whether it was Saturday or Sunday, I was sure there was something wrong, and then there was all this black Mechanics' Institute business before me. And all through this day those words have been ringing in my ears, and coming upon me like the pressure of King James's iron belt.'

    'Have they indeed?' said Anne, 'I could hardly have believed it. I have not seen your "look o'ercast and lower," like his.'

    'Perhaps not,' said Elizabeth; 'but yet I was like him.

    "Forward he rushed with double glee

    Into the tide of revelry."

    And I believe that having anything on my mind puts me in wilder spirits, apparently, than usual, but I am sure that my merriment to- day was no proof that I was happy. It was partly, I believe, from a mad spirit, like what drives wicked men to drinking, and partly from folly and levity. It was the same when Mamma's sister, Miss Dorothea Hazleby, died; I am sure I was very sorry for Aunt Dorothy, for she was a most amiable person, and had always been particularly kind to me, and I was very sorry too for Mamma and old Mrs. Hazleby, who were broken-hearted about it; yet would you believe it? the very day that Papa was gone to Hastings, to the funeral, and Mamma was at home, too ill and too wretched to go, even to her mother, I was out in the garden with Horace and Dora, forgot all about her distress, and began a noisy game with them close under her window. She sent Kate to tell them not to make such a noise; and when we came in, and she found that it was my doing, she gave me such a kind, grieved, reproachful look, that I think I shall never forget it. And now it is most strange to think how wildly and merrily I laughed at all Rupert's jokes, when I knew I was in disgrace, and after having behaved so very ill.'

    'Indeed, I did not think it would have distressed you so much,' said Anne; 'I never thought it was more than a very foolish affair.'

    'It is a very different thing for you,' said Elizabeth; 'you have nothing to do with the town, and you need not have known that it was not a fit place to go to.'

    'But you did not know that it was not fit for us,' said Anne.

    'I did know that I ought not to go where I had not been told I might go,' said Elizabeth. 'It was relying on my own judgement that led me astray. But, oh! I wish I had been here at the time the Socialist lectures were given; I should as soon have thought of climbing up the kitchen-chimney, as of going to that den, and giving the ragamuffins such a victory over Papa.'

    'It was very silly of us not to ask a few more questions,' said Anne.

    'Ah! that is the worst part of my behaviour,' said Elizabeth; 'that abominably unfair account which I gave you, at Mr. Turner's door, of Helen's objections. It was in fact almost deceit, and the only thing that can take off from the blackness of it, is that I was sufficiently senseless to believe it myself at the time I spoke.'

    'Oh yes, of course you did,' said Anne.

    'Yet there must have been a sort of feeling that your hearing her arguments would put a stop to the beautiful scheme,' said Elizabeth; 'you do not know, perhaps, that Kate was nearly convinced by Helen's good sense, and I do believe that the reason I was not, was, what I tremble to think of, that I have been indulging in a frightful spirit of opposing and despising Helen, because I was angry with her for loving Dykelands better than home. I do believe she hardly dares to open her lips. I heard her telling Lucy afterwards that there was a rose at Dykelands of the colour of her pattern, and I dare say she did not say so, when it would have been to the purpose, for fear I should say that damp turns roses orange-coloured; and I could see she did not defend her pendant with Captain Atherley for fear I should tell her he was not infallible. No wonder she pines for Dykelands; a fine sort of sister and home she has found here, poor child.'

    'Oh! now you think so——' Anne began, but here she stopped short, checked by her dread of interfering between sisters; she could not bear to add to Elizabeth's bitter feelings of self-reproach, and she could not say that her conduct on the preceding evening had been by any means what it ought to have been, that she had treated Helen kindly, or that Helen had not suffered much from her want of consideration for her. She only kissed her cousin, and wished her good night very affectionately, and nothing more was said that evening.

    But Anne's silence was often very expressive to those who could understand it, and of these Elizabeth was one.

    The toilette of Katherine and Helen passed in a very different manner that evening; Katherine did nothing but giggle and chatter incessantly, about the game they had been playing at, in order to prevent Helen from saying anything about the result of their excursion the evening before, and to keep herself from thinking of the cowardly part she had been acting all day. Helen only wished to be left in peace, to think over her share in all these transactions, and to consider how she might become a tolerably useful member of society for the future; and on her making no reply to one of Katherine's speeches, the latter suddenly became silent, and she was left to her own reflections.

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