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CHAPTER XXIII.

| to her trust; but, notwithstanding all that,

Fanny's conviction was very strong. CUMBERLY LANE WITHOUT THE MUD. Florence had counselled Mr. Saul to try

again, and Mr. Saul was prepared to make FANNY CLAVERING, while she was in the attempt; but he was a man who allowed quiring of her brother about his troubles, himself to do nothing in a hurry. He had not been without troubles of her own. thought much of the matter before he For some days past she had been aware, could prepare himself to recur to the subalmost aware, – that Mr. Saul's love was ject; doubting, sometimes, whether he not among the things that were past. I am would be right to do so without first speaknot prepared to say that this conviction on ing to Fanny's father ; doubting, afterwards, her part was altogether an unalloyed trou- whether he might not best serve his cause ble, or that there might have been no faint by asking the assistance of Fanny's mother. touch of sadness, or silent melancholy about But he resolved at last that he would deher, had it been otherwise. But Mr. Saul pend on himself alone. As to the rector, was undoubtedly a trouble to her; and Mr. if his suit to Fanny were a fault against Saul with bis love

in activity would be more Mr. Clavering as Fanny's father, that fault troublesome than Mr. Saul with his love in had been already committed. But Mr. abeyance. “ It would be madness either in Saul would not admit to himself that it was him or in me,” Fanny had said to herself a fault. I fancy that he considered himself very often; " he has not a shilling in the to have, as a gentleman, a right to address world.” But she thought no more in these himself to any lady with whom he was days of the awkwardness of his gait, or of thrown into close contact. I fancy that he his rusty clothes, or his abstracted manner; ignored all want of worldly preparation, — and for his doings as a clergyman her ad- never for a moment attempting to place miration had become very great. Her moth- himself on a footing with men who were er saw something of all this, and cautioned richer than himself, and, as the world goes, her; but Fanny's demure manner deceived brighter, but still feeling himself to be in no Mrs. Clavering. “Oh, mamma, of course I way lower than they. If any woman so know that anything of the kind must be lived as to show that she thought his line impossible ; and I am sure he does not think better than their line, it was open to him of it himself any longer.” When she had to ask such woman to join her lot to his. said this, Mrs. Clavering had believed that if he failed, the misfortune was his ; and it was all right. The reader must not sup- the misfortune, as he well knew, was one pose that Fanny had been a hypocrite. which it was hard to bear. And as to the There had been no hypocrisy in her words mother, though he had learned to love Mrs. to her mother. At that moment the con- Clavering dearly, — appreciating her kindviction that Mr. Saul's love was not among ness to all those around her, her conduct to past events had not reached her; and as her husband, her solicitude in the parish, regarded herself, she was quite sincere when all her genuine goodness, still he was averse she said that anything of the kind must be to trust to her for any part of his success. impossible.

Though Mr. Saul was no knight, though he It will be remembered that Florence had nothing knightly about him, though he Burton had advised Mr. Saul to try again, was a poor curate in very rusty clothes and that Mr. Saul had resolved that he and with manner strangely unfitted for would do so, - resolving, also, that should much communion with the outer world, still he try in vain he must leave Clavering, and he had a feeling that the spoil which he deseek another home.

a solemn, sired to win should be won by his own spear, earnest, thoughtful man ; to whom such a and that his triumpb would lose half its matter as this was a phase of life very glory if it were not achieved by his own serious, causing infinite present trouble, prowess. He was no coward, either in such nay, causing tribulation, and, to the same matter as this or in any other. When cirextent, capable of causing, infinite joy. cumstances demanded that he should speak From day to day he went about his work, he could speak bis mind freely, with manly seeing her amidst his ministrations almost vigour, and sometimes not without a certain daily. And never during these days did he manly grace. say a word to her of his love, never since How did Fanny know that it was comthat day in which he had plainly pleaded ing? She did know it, though he had said his cause in the muddy lane. To no one nothing to her beyond his usual parish combut Florence Burton had he since spoken munications. He was often with her in the of it, and Florence bad certainly been true two schools ; often returned with her in the

He was

sweet spring evenings along the lane that “How that may be I cannot tell, but if led back to the rectory from Cumberly you see her that will be of more conseGreen ; often inspected with her the little quence.”. amounts of parish charities and entries of “ We shall all see her, of course.” pence collected from such parents as could “It was here, in this lane, that I was pay. He had never reverted to that other with her last, and wished her good-by: She subject. But yet Fanny knew that it was did not tell you of my having parted with coming, and when she had questioned her, then ? " Harry about his troubles she had been “ Not especially, that I remember.” thinking also of her own.

“Ah, you would have remembered if she It was now the middle of May, and the had told you ; but she was quite right not spring was giving way to the early summer to tell you.” Fanny was now a little conalmost before the spring had itself arrived. fused, so that she could not exactly calcuIt is so, I think, in these latter years. The late what all this meant. Mr. Saul walked sharpness of March prolongs itself almost on by her side, and for some moments noththrough April; and then, while

we are still ing was said. After a while he recurred hoping for the spring, there falls upon us again to his parting from Florence. “I suddenly a bright, dangerous, delicious asked her advise on that occasion, and she gleam of summer. The lane from Cumber- gave it me clearly, — with a clear purpose ly Green was no longer muddy, and Fanny and an assured voice. I like a person who could

go backwards and forwards between will do that. You are sure then that you the parsonage and her distant school with- are getting the truth out of your friend, out that wading for which feminine apparel even if it be a simple negative, or a reis so unsuited. One evening, just as she fusal to give any reply to the question had finished her work, Mr. Saul's head ap- asked.” peared at the school-door, and he asked her “ Florence Burton is always clear in what whether she were about to return home. she says." As soon as she saw his eye and heard his “I had asked her if she thought that I voice, she feared that the day was come. might venture to hope for a more favourable She was prepared with no new answer, and answer if I urged my suit to you again.”. could only give the answer that she had “She cannot have said yes to that, Mr. given before. She had always told herself Saul; she cannot have done so !” that it was impossible; and as to all other " She did not do so. She simply bade questions, about her own heart or such like, me ask yourself. And she was right. On she had put such questions away from her such a matter there is no one to whom I can as being unnecessary, and, perhaps, un- with propriety address myself, but to yourseemly. The thing was impossible, and self. Therefore I now ask you the question. should therefore be put away out of thought, May I venture to have any hope ?" as a matter completed and at an end. But His voice was so solemn, and there was now the time was come, and she almost so much of eager seriousness in his face wished that she had been more definite in that Fanny could not bring herself to answer her own resolutions.

him with quickness. The answer that was “Yes, Mr. Saul, I have just done.” in her mind was in truth this : “How can

“I will walk with you, if you will let you ask me to try to love a man who has me.” Then Fanny spoke some words of but seventy pounds a year in the world, experienced wisdom to two or three girls, while I myself have nothing ?” But there in order that she might show to them, to was something in his demeanour, him, and to herself that she was quite col- thing that was almost grand in its gravity, lected. She lingered in the room for a few which made it quite impossible that she minutes, and was very wise and very expe- should speak to him in that tone. But he, rienced. “I am quite ready now, Mr. having asked his question, waited for an Saul.”. So saying, she came forth upon the answer; and she was well aware that the green lane, and he followed her.

longer she delayed it, the weaker became They walked on in silence for a little the

ground on which she was standing. way, and then he asked her some question " It is quite impossible," she said at last. about Florence Burton. Fanny told him “ If it really be so, if you will say again that she had heard from Stratton two days that it is so after hearing me out to an end, since, and that Florence was well.

I will desist. In that case I will desist and “ I liked her very much," said Mr. Saul.

and leave Clavering: “ So did we all. She is coming here “Oh, Mr. Saul, do not do that, for again in the autumn; so it will not be very papa's sake, and because of the parish." long before you see her again.”

I would do much for your father, and as

some

leave you,

answer

Would you

to the parish I love it well. I do not think I were glistening with a wonderful brightI can make you understand how well I love ness. it. It seems to me that I can never again

“ How can I you further? Is not bave the same feeling for any place that I that reason enough why such a thing should have for this. There is not a house, a field, not be even discussed ?” a green lane, that is not dear to me. It is “ No, Miss Clavering, it is not reason like a first love. With some people a first enough. If you were to tell me that you love will come so strongly that it makes a could never love me, -me, personally: renewal of the passion impossible."

that you could never regard me with affec· He did not say that it would be so with tion, that would be reason why I should dehimself, but it seemed to her that he intend- sist ; — why I should abandon all my hope ed that she should so understand him. here, and go away from Clavering for ever.

“I do not see why you should leave Clav- Nothing else can be reason enough. My ering," she said.

being poor ought not to make you throw me " If you knew the nature of my regard aside if you loved me. If it were so that for yourself, you would see why it should be you loved me, I think you would owe it me so. I do not say that there ought to be any to say so, let me be ever so poor." such necessity. If I were strong there “ I do not like you the less because you would be no such need. But I am weak, are poor." weak in this; and I could not hold myself “But do you like me at all ? Can you under such control as is wanted for the bring yourself to love me? work I have to do.” When he had spoken make the effort if I had such an income as of his love for the place, — for the parish, you thought necessary? If I had such there had been something of passion in his riches, could you teach yourself to regard language ; but now in the words which he me as him whom you were to love better spoke of himself and of his feeling for her, than all the world beside ? I call upon you he was calm and reasonable and tranquil, to answer me that question truly; and if and talked of his going away from her as you tell me that it could be so, I will not he might have talked had some change of despair, and I will not go away.' air been declared necessary for his health. As he said this they came to a turn in the She felt that this was so, and was almost road which brought the parsonage gate angry with him.

within their view. Fanny knew that she “Of course you must know what will be would leave him there and go in alone, but best for yourself,” she said.

she knew also that she must say something “ Yes; I know now what I must do, if further to him before she could thus escape. such is to be your answer, I have made up She did not wish to give him an assurance my mind as to that. I cannot remain at of her positive indifference to bim, and Clavering, if I am told that I may never still less did she wish to tell him that he hope that you will become my wife.” might hope. It could not be possible that * But, Mr. Saul”

such an engagement should be approved by Well; I am listening. But before you her father, nor could she bring herself to speak, remember how all-important your think that she could be quite contented words will be to me."

with a lover such as Mr. Saul. When he “ No; they cannot be all-important.” had first proposed to her she had almost

“ As regards my present happiness and ridiculed his proposition in her heart. rest in this world they will be so. Of course Even now there was something in it that I know that nothing you can say or do will was almost ridiculous ; – and yet there was hurt me beyond that. But you might help something in it also that touched her as me even to that further and greater bliss. being sublime. The man was honest, good, You might help me too in that, - as I also and true, – perhaps the best and truest might help you.”

man that she had ever known. She could “ But, Mr. Saul” — she began again, and not bring herself to say to him any word then, feeling that she must go on, she forced that should banish him for ever from the herself to utter words which at the time she place he loved so well. felt to be commonplace. People cannot If you

knew

your own heart well marry without an 'income. Mr. Fielding enough to answer me, you should do so,” did not think of such a thing till he had a he went on to say. “ If you do not, say living assured to him."

so, and I will be content to wait your own “ But, independently of that, might I time.” hope ?” She ventured for an instant to " It would be better, Mr. Saul, that

you glance at his face, and saw that his eyes should not think of this any more.” FOURTH SERIES.

3.

66

LIVING AGE.

VOL. III.

CHAPTER XXIV.

THE RUSSIAN SPY.

“ No, Miss Clavering; that would not be better, - not for me; for it would prove me to be utterly heartless. I am not heartless. I love you dearly. I will not say that I cannot live without you ; but it is.my one great WHEN the baby died at Clavering Park, hope as regards this world, that I should somebody hinted that Sir Hugh would cerhave you at some future day' as my own. It tainly quarrel with his brother as soon as may be that I am too prone to hope ; but Archie should become the father of a presurely, if that were altogether beyond hope, sumptive heir to the title and property. you would have found words to tell me so That such would be the case those who best by this time.” They had now come to the knew Sir Hugh would not doubt. That gateway, and he paused as she put her Archie should have that of which he himtrembling band upon the latch.

self had been robbed, would of itself be “ I cannot say more to you now," she said. enough to make him hate Archie. But,

“ Then let it be so. But, Miss Clavering, nevertheless, at this present time, he conI shall not leave this place till you have said tinued to instigate his brother in that matmore than that. And I will speak the ter of the proposed marriage with Lady truth to you, even though it may offend Ongar. Hugh, as well as others, felt that you. I have more of hope now than I have Archie's prospects were now improved, and ever had before, more hope that you that he could demand the hand of a wealthy may possibly learn to love me. In a lady with more of seeming propriety than few days I will ask you again whether I would have belonged to such a proposition may be allowed to speak upon the subject while the poor child was living. No one to your father. Now I will say farewell, would understand this better than Lady and may God bless you; and remember Ongar, who knew so well all the circumthis, that my only earthly wish and am- stances of the family. The day after the bition is in your hands.” Then he went on funeral the two brothers returned to Lonhis way towards his own lodgings, and she don together, and Hugh spoke his mind in entered the parsonage garden by herself. the railway carriage,

" It will be no good What should she now do, and how should for you to bang on about Bolton Street, off she carry herself ? She would have gone to and on, as though she were a girl of sevenher mother at once, were it not that she teen,” he said. could not resolve what words she would " I'm quite up to that,” said Archie. “I speak to her mother. When her mother must let her know I'm there of course. I should ask her how she regarded the man, understand all that." in what way should she answer that ques- “ Then why don't you do it? I thought tion? She could not tell herself that she you meant to go to her at once when we loved Mr. Saul; and yet, if she surely did were talking about it before in London.” not love him, — if such love were impossible, “ So I did go to her, and got on with her -why had she not said as much to him? very well, too, considering that I hadn't We, however, may declare that that incli- been there long when another woman came nation to ridicule his passion, to think of in:” him as a man who had no right to love, was “ But you didn't tell her what you had gone for ever.

She conceded to him clear- come about ?” ly that right, and knew that he had exer- “ No; not exactly. You see it doesn't cised it well

. She knew that he was good do to pop at once to a widow like her. Onand true, and honest, and recognized in him gar, you know, hasn't been dead six months. also manly courage and spirited resolution. One has to be a little delicate in these She would not tell herself that it was im- things.” possible that she should love him.

“Believe me, Archie, you bad better give She went up at last to her room doubting, up all notions of being delicate, and tell her unhappy, and ill at ease. To have such a what you want at once, plainly and fairsecret long kept from her mother would ly. You may be sure that she will not make her life unendurable to her. But she think of her former husband, if

you

don't." felt that, in speaking to her mother, only * Oh! I don't tbink about him at all.” one aspect of the affair would be possible. “ Who was the woman you say was Even though she loved him, how could she there?marry a curate whose only income was “ That little Frenchwoman, the sister seventy pounds a year?

of the man ;- Sophie she calls her.

Sophie Gordeloup is her name. They are now, on hearing it, he felt that he was bosom friends."

becoming a participator in the deepest “ The sister of that count ?"

diplomatic secrets of Europe. “ Yes; bis sister. Such a woman for " By George,” said he, " is she really ?' talking! She said ever so much about your And his respect for the little woman rose keeping Hermione down in the country." a thousand per cent.

“The devil she did. What business was " That's what she is," said Doodles, " and that of hers? That is Julia's doing.” it's a doosed fine thing for you, you know !

“ Well; no, I don't think so. Julia didn't Of course you can make her safe, and that say a word about it. In fact, I don't know will be everything." how it came up. But you never heard such Archie resolved at once that he would use a woman to talk,- an ugly, old, bideous the great advantage which chance and the little creature! But the two are always ingenuity of his friend had thrown in his together.”

way; but that necessity of putting money “ If you don't take care you'll find that in his purse was a sore grievance to him, Julia is married to the count while you are and it occurred to him that it would be a thinking about it.”

grand thing if he could induce bis brother Then Archie began to consider whether to help him in this special matter. If he be might not as well tell his brother of his could only make Hugh see the immense present scheme with reference to Julia. advantage of an alliance with the Russian Having discussed the matter at great length spy, Hugh could hardly avoid contributing with his confidential friend, Captain Boodle, to the expense, - of course on the underhe had come to the conclusion that his safest standing that all such moneys were to be course would be to bribe Madame Gorde- repaid when the Russian spy's work had loup, and creep into Julia's favour by that been brought to a successful result. Russian lady's aid. Now, on his return to London. spy! There was in the very sound of the he was about at once to play that game, and words something so charming that it almost had already provided himself with funds for made Archie in love with the outlay. A the purpose. The parting with ready money female Russian spy too! Sophie Gordeloup was a grievous thing to Archie, though in this certainly retained but very few of the case the misery would be somewhat palliated charms of womanhood, nor had her pres.. by the feeling that it was a bona fide sport- ence as a lady affected Archie with any ing transaction. He would be lessening the special pleasure; but yet he felt infinitely odds against himself by a judicious hedging more pleased with the affair than he would of his bets. “You must stand to lose some have been had she been a man spy. The thing always by the horse you mean to intrigue was deeper. His sense of delight win,” Doodles had said to him, and Archie in the mysterious wickedness of the thing had recognized the propriety of the remark. was enhanced by an additional spice. It is He had, therefore, with some difficulty, pro- not given to every man to employ the servided himself with funds, and was prepared vices of a political Russian lady-spy in his to set about his hedging operations as soon love-affairs ! As he thought of it in all its as he could find Madame Gordeloup on his bearings, he felt that he was almost a Talreturn to London. He had already ascer- | leyrand, or, at any rate, a Palmerston. tained her address through Doodles, and had Should he tell his brother? If he could ascertained by the unparalleled acuteness of represent the matter in such a light to his his friend that the lady was — a Russian brother as to induce Hugh to produce the spy. It would have been beautiful to have funds for purchasing the spy's services, the seen Archie's face when this information whole thing would be complete with a comwas whispered into his ear, in private, at the pleteness that has rarely been equalled. But club. It was as though he had then been he doubted. Hugh was a hard man, made acquainted with some great turf se- hard, unimaginative man, and might possicret, unknown to the sporting world in bly altogether refuse to believe in the Rus-. general.

sian spy. Hugh believed in little but what " Ah!” he said, drawing a long breath, he himself saw, and usually kept a very “no;- by George, is she ?”

firm grasp upon his money. The same story bad been told everywhere " That Madame Gordeloup is always in London of the little woman for the last with Julia,” Archie said, trying the way, as half dozen years, whether truly or untruly it were, before he told his plan. I am not prepared to say ; but it had not “Of course she will help her brother's hitherto reached Archie Clavering; and views.'

a

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