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but it called evidently for consideration. am afraid your niece must have been surThirty-two and seven-eighths, and rising prised.” still! Yes, rising still; and that at Frank- “ Yes, she was, at first, a little. She fort! Could the Frankfort Rothschild be in said she had always thought you preferred it? Was their London house taking it up? her sister Fanny." Should that be so, there was no knowing He had almost let the word escape his what a figure it might touch. That offer to lips which should have done right and repurchase! Were Gurkenheim and Hum- truth. But the greed of gold shifted sudpel operating on their own account, or were denly the thought of his first success into there bigger men behind !
the other scale again. Had not Miss Dav“Oh dear! I wish I could run up to enant said something of an immediate settletown."
ment upon Sophy ? With such means in He spoke, unconsciously, aloud; his hand, in the present state of the share marmother heard him and rejoined,
ket, what might not be done ?
He was “I wish you could, , my dear; why silent, Miss Davenant chirruped on. shouldn't you?”
“I set that right, my dear, and told her “Why shouldn't I what, mother ?” how the truth stood. I said if ever you had
“Run up to town. I thought I heard showed her sister little attentions, it must you say you wished to. Do you want to have been for her sake. That you had kept pay the Sherbrookes a visit again ?" your secret close; but that my little keen
Keane smiled, amused at her true conjec- eyes had read it." ture. His mood being such, she ventured May I venture to ask how Miss Sophy for the first time,
Davenant received your intimation ?” “May I guess the attraction, Keane ?” “Here, ask for yourself ;” and the brisk
But he was muttering, “ Near upon thirty- little woman opened a folding-door into the three, by George !”
inner drawing-room. “Nonsense, Keane! She's hardly one- Sophy Davenant was there, looking puzand-twenty."
zled, but very pretty. That circumstance “What, mother,—who ?”
itself was a fresh bait to such a nature as “Why Fanny, to be sure, dear-Fanny Keane's. “Well,” he bethought him, “she Davenant."
was always the better looking of the two." “Nonsense!” he cried, half-startled by “Here, Sophy," said her aunt, “here's the word, which recalled him from his cal- Mr. Burkitt wants to make you understand culations. He looked at his watch; the that he never did like your sister Fanny morning was creeping on towards noon. half as well as you, you know. But that He felt that the little impatient aunt would kind of explanation is given best in pribe fretting at his non-arrival. What on vate." earth should he do? He had not made up She closed the folding-door upon them, his mind, his thirty-two and seven-eighths and went back to look for cracks in her had so excited him. But he must be mov- china cups again. ing; sa, without further communication to When Keane Burkitt left the house, he his mother, he went out and made for Mr. had sacrificed Fanny Davenant and sold Davenant's. There, he was shown up into himself. Time was not given him to repent the front drawing-room, where little Miss or draw back when the deed was done. ExDavenant was alone, holding up to the light, ulting in her own acumen, and in its easy and narrowly scrutinizing the quality of securing of the happiness of her two favorsome tiny china cups brought from a curi- ites, Miss Davenant hurried matters on. osity shop for her approval.
Her brother and his wife, amazed to find “ At last! What a laggard, to be sure ! how much she had it in her power to do for But I don't let grass grow under my feet, both their daughters, submitted with beMaster Keane. I have spoken to brother coming meekness to her impatient dictaGeorge, and he is well pleased it should be tion. so. What's more, I've spoken to Sophy." “ I had rather thought it had been Fan,
This was confounding. However, he made my dear,” said Davenant one day to mamma, shift to say, “Did you, Miss Davenant? I intent upon the trousseau.
"Well, he was always very good friends It was a cheerful wedding, spite of dear with Sophy," she answered, which indeed Fan's absence; spite of the presence also of had so much truth in it as almost to justify sorrow on his mother's face. Little Miss her failure of perception in the time bygone. Davenant noted that, and even spoke of it In fairness also to Sophy, Fanny herself al- to Keane. lowed that she had kept a closer reserve than “ 'Tis often the successful rival keeps the is sometimes kept between sisters. Neither grudge the longest. Isabella won your fanow did her wounded and indignant heart ther from me, but seems as if she couldn't give sign. A return of the indisposition quite forgive me now. I do believe she's she had already experienced in the autumn, vexed and out of sorts to see you marry a pleaded her excuse for not coming home at niece of mine, I do." once; and Sophy's protestations that she would not be married till dear Fan would
CHAPTER XXI. be well enough to take her place among the The first year of his marriage and other bridesmaids, gave way before the peremptory speculations was very prosperous for Keane. temper of her aunt. That eager little or- Sophy was, after all, the wife to suit him. In derer of nuptial rites had no further reason the mould of her character were none of to complain of apathy on Keane's part. those deep places which want more of the Once the plunge taken he swam with vig- metal of strong affection to run into them orous strokes.
Legal delays were by his and fill up what else would be dismal holes, legal knowledge forced within their most than such husbands as he keep molten in restricted limits. What fortune Sophy was their hearts' crucible. She.shared his liking to receive from her own parents they, not of small personal pleasures, and in surroundunreasonably, tied up tightly for herself; ing herself with such, contrived to minister but they could not with good grace, had them in delightful abundance to him. She they been so disposed, interfere in that had withal sufficient spirit and sense of the sense with arrangements which depended importance of her own contributions to the upon the sole good pleasure of her aunt. elegance and luxury of the household not to Keane, by her kind confidence, would have spoil Keane in petting him as his mother his elbows free, and was impatient for the had at last sunk into doing. She disciplined hour when he might strike out for the share him into a gradual sense that pleasantness market. His Lahn-Mosels were gone up to is easiest secured by being pleasant. Every forty-five! But Sophy had no fairer ground one allowed that Sophy Davenant had“ done of complaint against his attentiveness than wonders for that young man.” She thus put her aunt against his expedition. If he had upon him a polish of popularity which was no depth of devotion to offer to any bride the only thing hitherto wanting to his posielect, of his own or another's election, he tion in Freshet. Magnified of course by was wishful, for his own ease and pleasure common report, her own wealth appeared then and thereafter, to win from her what to justify what otherwise might have been devotion to himself he might. He did what thought extravagant, the purchase and handhe could to make her fond of him, and in some fitting of a new house before the year so doing made himself, after a sort, fond of was out. Not the most close-fisted or closeher. He had a knack of shelving unpleas- minded client of “Burkitt and Goring” inant subjects of thought and feeling; and timated that the young couple were launchwould have been comfortably rid altogether ing out imprudently. If any thing, such as of any compunctions about Fanny, had it the costly knick-knacks of young Mrs. Burnot been for his mother's looks. They kitt's new drawing-rooms, seemed to denote wrought punctures, however, rather than a vish disregard of expense, were not these compunction,—fretting, not grieving him. things the doings of Miss Davenant of LanHe came to think himself ill-used by her, ercost? Two portly jars of almost priceless and even then by Fanny. What right had crockery sat swelling with continual affirmathey to dash with bitters his loving cup? tion of the exculpatory truth. Indeed, it Foolish fellow! This very dash gave “tonic” was very much to young Burkitt's credit to the draught which got its sparkle from that neither the smiles of such a pretty wife the bride's bright eyes.
as Sophy, nor the cushioned chairs of such
AN ONLY SON.
633 a luxurious home, could seduce him from nothing by reason of his conduct towards assiduous attendance at his office. It got the elder of the Davenants. Mrs. Locksley about, of course, likewise, that Lord Roys- was utterly ignorant of any such episode in ton's affairs were in his hands entirely. And his career. She was not unobservant, howLord Royston was “not one of your scatter- ever, of the estrangement which circumbrain young nobles, sir, but a man of in- stances seemed to be working gradually becreasing weight and authority, sir; a man tween his mother and himself. The working of whose confidence any firm of solicitors was subtle; but, perhaps, the more unavoidmight be proud, sir ; a man whose connec-able. Keane was, apparently, not in fault. tion might come to have political importance He certainly had not said it in so many one day for young Burkitt, sir ; whom we words; but he had given her to understand shouldn't be surprised to find nominated for that it was entirely by her own choice that Cawsley some of these fine mornings, sir. Mrs. Burkitt, senior, remained in the old Snug little borough, Cawsley, sir, spared by house, when Mr. and young Mrs. Burkitt the Reform Bill; completely under Rooken- removed into the new. Though the younger ham influence, my dear sir.”
lady's bearing towards the elder was unimKeane's business, therefore, increased ; peachable, as all Freshet admitted, one could more, indeed, than they knew that brought always understand that two mistresses make it to him. For the good folks of Freshet the easiest of households difficult. And, knew nothing of his increasing association though age and widowhood had wonderfully with the business of his friends the Sher- softened her sister-in-law, Lucy could rebrookes. With them, also, he stood, or member when there had been an imperious rather kept on climbing higher and higher element in her character. Indeed, her in the scale of esteem. He was not only brother himself—if her memory did not do successful, but deserved success, "for his injustice to Isabella—had hinted at an exhappy audacity," said Walter ; " for his wise cess of that ingredient in it occasionally. caution,” said Walter's father. The Sher-Doubtless, all things considered, it was as brooke girls had frowned at first a little on well that mother and daughter-in-law should his marriage; for people have a way of float- be spared all possibility of domestic colliing on enchanted rivers, or treading on en- sion. Yet, little by little, the conviction chanted grounds, which betrays them, fairy- grew that Keane in his new house, not twice struck, to Ninas and Isabellas. Nevertheless, five hundred yards from his old home on the they, too, like good-natured girls as they Marine-parade, lived farther from his mother were, came round to the charitable interpre- than did her own dear Ned from her across tation that Keane, after all, had only been those thousand weary leagues of land and paying due devoirs, by proxy, under the sea. She was ashamed to think how often stately trees of Hampton and among the her mind would turn to such a thought, and flowery tents of Chiswick. “Only remem- speculate upon the truth or falsehood of it, ber, Nina, should any such nonsense take and upon the causes of the fact, if fact it place with one of us, you know, it will be were. There may be sometimes lurking better, to prevent misunderstandings, that malice of a very venomous kind in studying the queen regnant hold her own drawing- the comparative anatomy of our blessings room, and courtesies be proffered to the and those of others. An exultation born of sovereign alone in person.”
envy, rather than of true thankfulness, creeps Keane's countenance, the first time they over us. saw him after the event itself, betrayed no Yet there was a consolation which seemed embarrassment; so when, the next time, he to distil kindly from the contrast, with no brought up Sophy with him to Twickenham, need of any fire of envy, hatred, malice, or and they saw the prosperous sunshine on uncharitableness, to quicken its production. her pretty face as well, they could no longer, However it might be between her nephew and in reason, think it treachery to Fanny, whom his mother, she need not hide from her own they loved rather the better, to shower con- eyes what might have been between herself gratulations and cousinly kindnesses upon and her own son. her sister.
Supposing Lady Constance had returned With his Aunt Lucy, Keane could lose his love. Supposing she had been a few
years younger, or he a few years older than stance; I can't quite frame to call her Lady the case had been. Supposing that no dif- Royston yet.” ference of rank or wealth had parted them. For Lucy knew that the mother's heart
What then? They would have gone out, had not a word to speak on that score, but hand in hand, into a world which was not such as welled up in overflow of perfect hers. Or else, absorbed in love for one an- trust and love. other, they might have rounded out a life “Dear Con is well and happy. for their own selves, which might, like other know I sometimes feel,” said Lady Cransround things, have touched hers at some one dale, with an effort, “as if I had to crave point alone.
your pardon, Lucy, still, for the delight that Whereas, whatever tenderness was in her marriage gives me; but indeed "son's heart, it nestled down in her. The “Indeed, dear Lady Cransdale, it remanner of his ripening into manhood now proaches me deservedly to hear you say so. was such as made him, after truer childlike It was to make and snatch an opportunity sort than ever, still her child. Who goes that I brought in your dear daughter's from home may keep it heart's home more name." heartily than even he who stays.
“An opportunity for what?” Lady Cransdale also came to sense of this. “Redeeming a promise which there should In her delicate nobleness she determined to have been no need to make; which made, let Lucy read her thought and feeling if she should have been long since redeemed.” would. Not thrusting her own heart's book Riddles, my dear, dark riddles ! ” agape under the soul's eyes of her friend, as “ You shall read them. Do you remember a less graceful generosity might do; but let- that bright sunshiny day, now nearly two ting the leaves flutter open in the soft breath years gone, when you came in there, at that of motherly talk.
very window, bringing in for me the prickly Phil was doing well in the Guards. Very bough? You understand me?" popular, very gay; not so very reckless of She nodded. expense, though just a little extravagant. “The thorns pricked as I took it. At the She heard from the colonel of his battalion, smart I turned upon you ; rebelling, indeed, --for he himself didn't tell her much of his against another than this dear hand.” military matters,—that there were many She took her old friend's into hers, as they youngsters of his standing as ready as he to sat on the same sofa there, and raised it to shirk tedious duties; not that he was con- her lips. sidered a model young officer by martinet “I was unjust, abrupt, and rude ; but, adjutants. She couldn't make out that he before you went, I made a promise to beg read anything except a few sporting novels, your pardon some time more explicitly. And though he drew a good deal and had some I have failed to do so till to-day. talent, rather a dangerous one, for caricature. forgive me?” She had heard something of a flirtation with " Jardly; for having spoken thus," claspa Lady Maude Cassilis; but not from Phil ing the hand which held hers. himself, who was discreet, if desultory, in Well, then, I demand a pledge. Ill-discisuch little affairs. Not that she thought plined hearts like mine are often unbelievers." there was any thing serious in it. The Cas- “ Whatever pledge you please, dear Lucy." silis people were not of her own intimates. “ This, then ; that henceforward you speak Constance, who met them oftener, was not as freely-to me of your daughter as your son. much taken with her.
I have noticed a constraint-which showed “Prickly plants of disappointment spring your kindness — but also my little deserFup in so many shapes ! Yet some have ing it.” flowers of sweet after-scent,--so sweet, one is For her rebellion against that other gracontent to lay them in one's bosom, thorns cious Hand, Lucy, long since, had humbled and all."
her own soul in secret. After this open conLucy caught her meaning and was not un- fession, she seemed to be returned in truth grateful.
into her own true self. She was again meek" Tell me something about Lady Con-hearted Lucy, perhaps more truly than before.
She thus regained the blessing of the meek- the compassionate rather than the sufferer. spirited, of whom it'is written that “they shall Wounds will not always bear the balm of pity. possess the earth.” It was a repossession of it Its first drops, especially, require the spare once more to think, to speak, to feel, to act dropping of a sensitive hand. There is an inheart to heart with her old friend again. The flammation of resentful pride soon heated by space between the Lodge and Cransdale their smart. Mrs. Burkitt's schooling in the House shrunk back into some hundred yards craft of charity was not yet deep enough to of daisy dight green lawn. The sandy waste make her know this well. Else she would which had been intervening disappeared, not have said, one day, after Keane and his and, happily, before the bones of loving mem- wife had but just left her drawing-room ories lay bleaching on it.
“I thought it had been you, dear Fanny, Towards the end of that same year Robert not your sister. I still think it should have Locksley had a sharp fit of illness; not such been. I am so sorry for you.” as put his life in any danger, but such as, Happily these words were spoken after, happening just when it did, might have not before, that soothing time at Cransdale. wrought much confusion in the accounts of The flush, indeed, could not but glow upon the estate, and some delay in necessary busi- the poor girl's cheek, the tears but tremble
His nephew was at hand, however, and on her eyelashes. Yet she found the rare could be trusted, as no stranger could, to act grace, even whilst wincing at the pain, to by his directions and in his stead. Ned, out pardon the ignorant cruelty of her would-be in India, felt something like self-reproach comforter. That rare grace gifted her likewhen news reached him that his father needed wise with a singular spirit of discernment. help of such sort; but he consoled himself by She divined what manner of hope had drawn thinking how much more fit his cousin must the widow's heart towards herself. She dibe to supply it—by virtue of his calling—than vined how the travail of that heart had been he could have been himself, even had he been in vain. Keane's wife was to it as a stillfollowing a university career. He wrote to born daughter. Divining this, she learned to Keane a letter of hearty thankfulness, ex- pity her own pitier, and bent her mind with pressing a hope that not only he, but his bride, subtle delicacy to minister some consolawould play son and daughter's part by the tion. Noble task ever : and sweet task at dear ones whom he had left, as it were, child- the last! Yet often difficult, often tedious, less.
sometimes repugnant, sometimes almost desLacy, notwithstanding, could not and did perate. Bodily life is precious, and minisnot invest Keane's wife with the same favor- tering to it often costly. Spiritual life is able prejudice as himself. Though she knew priceless and ministering by so much costnothing of her sister-in-law's disappointment, lier. Whoso shall reckon acts of spiritual she shared it after a fashion. Fanny Daven- mercy cheaper to be done than bodily, shall ant was much more to her mind than Sophy. most times grievously misreckon the true In virtue of the new connection between their cost of either. families she cultivated more intimate acquaint- Robert Locksley was hale and active again ance with her, persuading her, nothing loath, before the passing months brought the birthto spend some months at Cransdale. Strange day of an heir to Rookenham. It was an power even of unconscious sympathy stored event for the whole countryside, and the in true gracious hearts ! The countess took christening was a grand affair. Keane and to Fanny, as her friend Lucy did. From Sophy, herseif not long after to become a these two women, over whose daily lives the mother, received and accepted an invitation thorny sprigs laid in their bosoms shed such to the festivities. Fanny, though pressed by sweet perfume, she seemed to learn insensibly Mrs. Locksley to come on the great occasion the secret of disembittéred resignation. For to Cransdale, refused, and spent the time resignation, also, has varieties. The quality chiefly in company with Keane's lonely of Fanny Davenants might have been im- mother. It was just then that, to her surperilled, at the first, even by one who felt for prise, she received and, without hesitation, her so heartily as did Keane's mother. Be- refused, a very different invitation. Far nevolence is sometimes selfish, no less than in- greater would that surprise have been, had difference. Compassion may overflow to ease she known that Walter Sherbrooke's offer