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cote's image into a species of judge, laying before this vision of a wise man all her perplexities between Miss Charlecote's religion and Miss Fennimore's reason, and all her practical doubts between Robert's conflicting duties. Strangely enough the question, What would Mr. Charlecote have thought? often aided her to cast the balance. Though it was still Phoebe who decided, it was Phoebe drawn out of herself, and strengthened by her mask.
With vivid interest, such as for a living man would have amounted to love, she seized and hoarded each particle of intelligence that she could gain respecting the object of her admiration. Honora herself, though far more naturally enthusiastic, had with her dreamy nature and diffused raptures, never been capable of thus reverencing him, nor of the intensity of feeling of one whose restrained imagination and unromantic education gave force to all her sensations. Yet this deep individual regard •was a more wholesome tribute than Honor had ever paid to him, or to her other idol, for to Phoebe it was a step, lifting her to things above and beyond, a guide on the road, never a vision obscuring the true object.
. Six weeks had quietly passed, when, like a domestic thunderbolt, came Juliana's notification of her intention to return home at the end of a week. Mrs. Fulmort, clinging to her single thread of comfort, hoped that Phoebe might still be allowed to come to her boudoir, but the gentlemen more boldly declared that they wanted Phoebe, and would not have her driven back into the schoolroom, to which the mother only replied with fears that Juliana would be in a dreadful temper, whereon Mervyn responded, "Let her! Never mind her, Phoebe. Stick up for yourself, and we'll put her down."
Except for knowing that she was useful to her mother, Phoebe would thankfully have retired into the west wing rather than have given umbrage. Mervyn's partisanship was particularly alarming, and, endeavor as she might to hope that Juliana would be amiable enough to be disarmed by her own humility and unobtrusiveness, she lived under the impression of disagreeables impending.
One morning at breakfast, Mr. Fulmort, after grumbling out his wonder at Juliana's writing to him, suddenly changed his tone
into, "Hollo !—what's this? My engagement—"
"By Jove !" shouted Mervyn ; "too good to be true. So she's done it I didn't think he'd been such an ass, having had one escape."
Who?" continued Mr. Fulmort, puzzling, as he held the letter far off—" engagement to dear—dear Devil, does she say?"
"The only fit match," muttered Mervyn, laughing. "No, no, sir! Bevil—Sir Bevil Acton." .
"What! not the fellow that gave us so much trouble! He had not a sixpence; but she must please herself now."
"You don't mean that you didn't know what she went with the Merrivales for ?— five thousand a year and a baronetcy, eh?"
"The deuce! If I had known that, he might have had her long ago."
"It's quite recent," said Mervyn. "A mere chance; and he has been knocking about in the colonies these ten years—might have cut his wisdom teeth."
"Ten years—not half-a-dozen!" said Mr. Fulmort.
"Ten!" reiterated Mervyn. "It was just before I went to old Raymond's. Acton took me to dine at the mess. He was a nice fellow then, and deserved better luck."
"Ten years' constancy!" said Phoebe, who had been looking from one to the other in wonder, trying to collect intelligence. "Do tell me."
"Whew!" whistled Mervyn. "Juliana hadn't her sharp nose nor her sharp tongue when first she came out. Acton was quartered at Elverslope, and got smitten. She flirted with him all the winter, but I fancy she didn't give you much trouble when he came to the point, eh, sir?"
"I thought him an impudent young dog for thinking of a girl of her prospects, but if he had this to look to!—I was sorry for him too! Ten years ago," mused Mr. Fulmort.
"And she has liked no one since?"
"Or no one has liked her, which comes to the same," said Mervyn. "The regiment went to the Cape, and there was an end of it, till we fell in with the Merivales on board the steamer, and they mentioned their neighbor, Sir Bevil Acton, come into his property, and been settled near them a year or two. Fine sport it was, to see Juliana angling for have had to play good temper all these six weeks, and how we shall have to pay for it!" "Or Acton will," said Mr. Fulmort, with
an invitation, brushing up her friendship brother in the constant knight rose high, with Minnie Merivale—amiable to the last • and his appearance and demeanor did not degree! My stars! what work she must disappoint them. He had a fine soldierly
figure, and that air of a thorough gentleman which Phoebe's Holt experience had taught her to appreciate; his manners were pecul
u hearty chuckle of triumphant good-humor, iarly gentle and kind, especially to Mrs.
Was it a misfortune to Phoebe to have been so much refined by education as to be grated on by the vulgar tone of those nearest to her P It was well for her that she could still put it aside as their way, even while following her own instinct. Mervyn and Juliana had been on cat and dog terms all their lives; he was certain to sneer at all that concerned her, and Phoebe reserved her belief that an attachment, nipped in the bud, was ready to blossom in sunshine. She ran up with the news to her mother.
"Juliana going to be married! Well, my dear, you may be introduced at once! How comfortable you and I shall be in the little brougham."
Phoebe begged to be told what the intended was like.
"Let me see—was he the one that won the steeplechase? No, that was the one that Augusta liked. We knew so many young men, that I never could tell which was which, and your sisters were always talking about them till it quite ran through my poor head, such merry girls as they were!"
"And poor Juliana never was so merry after he was gone P"
"I don't remember," replied this careful mother; "but you know slie nevef could have meant any thing, for he had nothing, and you with your fortunes are a match for anybody! Phoebe, my dear, we must go to London next spring, and you shall marry a (Jobleman. I must see you a titled lady as well as your sisters."
"I've no objection, provided he is my wise man," said Phoebe.
Juliana had found the means of making herself welcome, and her marriage a cause of unmixed jubilation in her family. Prosperity made her affable, and instead of suppressing Phoebe, she made her useful, and treated her as a confidante, telling her of all the previous intimacy, and all the secret sufferings in dear Devil's absence, but passing lightly over the last happy meeting, which Phoebe respected as too sacred to be talked of. • The little maiden's hopes of a perfect
Fulmort, and Phoebe did not like him the less for showing traces of the effects of wounds and climate, and a grave, subdued air, almost amounting to melancholy. But before he had been three days at Beauchamp, Juliana made a virulent attack on the privileges of her younger sisters. Perhaps it was the consequence of poor Maria's volunteer to Sir Bcvil—" I am glad Juliana is going with you, for now no one will be cross to me;" but it seemed to verify the poor girl's words that she should be hunted like a strange cat if she were found beyond her own precincts, and that the other two should be treated much in the same manner. Bertha stood up for her rights, declaring that what mamma and Miss Fennimore allowed, she would not give up for Juliana, but the only result was an admonition to the governess, and a fierce remonstrance to the poor, meek mother. Phoebe, who only wished to retire from the stage in peace, had a more difficult part to play. •
"What's the matter'now?" demanded Mervyn, making his way up to her as she sat in a remote corner of the drawing-room in the evening. "Why were you not at dinner?"
"There was no room, I believe."
"Nonsense! our table- dines cight-andtwcnty, and there were not twenty."
"That was a large party, and you know I am not out."
"You don't look like it in that longsleeved white affair, and nothing on your head either. Where are those ivy leaves you had yesterday—real, weren't they?"
"They were not liked."
"Not liked ! they were the prettiest things I have seen for a long time. Acton said they made you look like a nymph—the green suits that shiny light hair of yours, and makes you like a picture."
"Yes, they made me look forward and affected."
"Now who told you that P Has the Fennimore got to her old tricks?"
"Oh, no, no!"
"I see! a jealous toad! I heard him telling her that you reminded him of her in old times. The spiteful vixen! well, Phoebe, if you cut her out, I bargain for board and lodging at Acton Manor. This will be no place for a quiet, meek soul like me!"
Phoebe tried to laugh, but looked distressed, uncomprehending, and far from wishing to comprehend. She could not escape, for Mervyn had penned her up, and went on. "You don't pretend that you don't see howit is! that unlucky fellow is heartily sick of his bargain, but you see he was too soft to withstand her throwing herself right at his head, and doing ' the worm in the bud,' and the cruel father, green and yellow melancholy, etc., ever since they were inhumanly parted."
"For shame, Mervyn. You don't really believe it is all out of honor."
"I should never have believed a man of his years could be so green; but some men get crotchets about honor in the army, especially if they get elderly there."
"It is very noble, if it be right, and he can take those vows from his heart," moralized Phoebe. "But, no, Mervyn, she cannot think so. No woman could take any one on such terms."
"Wouldn't she, though?" sneered her brother. "She'd have him, if grim death were hanging on his other hand. People aren't particular, when they get nigh upon their third ten."
"Don't tell me such things! I don't believed them; but they ought never to be suggested."
"You ought to thank me for teaching you knowledge of the world."
He was called off, but heavy at her heart lay the text, " The knowledge of wickedness is not wisdom."
Menryn's confidences were serious troubles to Phoebe. Gratifying'as it was to be singled out by his favor, it was distressing to be the repository of what she knew ought never to have been spoken, prompted by a coarse tone of mind, and couched in language that though he meant it to be restrained, sometimes seemed to her like the hobgoblins' whispers to Christian. Oh! how unlike her other . brother! Robert had troubles, Mervyn grievances, and she saw which was the worst to bear. It was a pleasing novelty to find a patient listener, and he used it to the utmost, while she often doubted whether to hear
without remonstrance were not undutiful, yet found opposition rather increased the evil by the storm of ill-temper that it provoked.
This last communication was dreadful to her, yet she could not but feel that it might be a wholesome warning to avoid giving offence to the jealousy, which, when once pointed out to her, she could not prevent herself from tracing in Juliana's petulance towards herself, and resolve to force her into the background. Even Bertha was more often brought forward, for in spite of a tongue and temper cast somewhat in a similar mould, she was rather a favorite with Juliana, whom she was not unlikely to resemble, except that her much more elaborate and accurate training might give her both more power and self-control.
As Mervyn insinuated, Juliana was prudent in not lengthening out the engagement, and the marriage was fixed for Christmas week, but it was not to take place at Hiltonbury. Sir Bevil was bashful, and dreaded county festivities, and Juliana wished to escape from Maria as a bridesmaid, so they preferred the privacy of a hotel and a London church. Phoebe could not decently be excluded, and her heart leapt with hope of seeing Robert, though so unwelcome was his name in the family that she could not make out on what terms he stood, whether proscribed, or only disapproved, and while sure that he would strive to be with her, she foresaw that the pleasure would be at the cost of much pain. Owen Sandbrook was spending his vacation at the Holt, and Miss Charlecote looked so bright as she walked to church leaning on his arm, that Pbjebc had no regrets in leaving her. Indeed, the damsel greatly preferred the Holt in his absence. She did not understand his discursive comments on all things in art and nature, and he was in a mood of flighty, fitful spirits, which perplexed her alike by their wild, satirical mirth, and their mournful sentiment. She thought Miss Charlecote was worried and perplexed at times by his tone; but there was no doubt of his affection and attention for his " Sweet Honey," and Phoebe rejoiced that her own absence should be at so opportune a moment.
Sir Bcvil went to make his preparations at home, whence he was to come and join the Fulmorts the day after their arrival in town. Mrs. Fulmort was dragged out in the morning, and deposited at Farrance's in time for luncheon, a few moments before a compact little brougham set clown Lady Bannerman, jollier than ever in velvet and sable, and more scientific in cutlets and pale ale. Her good-nature was full blown. She was ready to chaperon her sisters anywhere, invited the party to the Christmas dinner, and undertook the grand soirie after the wedding. She proposed to take Juliana at once out shopping, only lamenting that there was no room for Phut-be, and Bo universally benevolent, that in the absence of the bride elect, Phoebe ventured to ask whether she saw anything of Robert.
"Robert? Yes, he called when we first came to town, and we asked him to dinner; but ho said it was fast-day, and you know Sir Nicholas would never encourage that sort of thing."
"How was he P"
"He looked odder than ever, and so ill and cadaverous. No wonder! poking himself up in such a horrid place, where one can't notice him."
"Did he seem in tolerable spirits?"
"I don't know. He always was silent and glum; and now he seems wrapt up in nothing but ragged schools and those disgusting city missions. I'm sure we can't subscribe, so expensive as it is living in town. Imagine, mamma, what we are giving our cook!"
Juliana returned, and the two sisters went out, leaving Phoebe to extract entertainment for her mother from the scenes passing in the street.
Presently a'gentleman's handsome cabriolet and distinguished looking horse were affording food for her description, when to her surprise, Sir Bevil emerged from it, and presently entered the room. He had come intending to take out his betrothed, and in her absence, transferred the offer to her sister. Phoebe demurred, on more accounts than she could mention, but her mother remembering what a drive in a stylish equipage with a military baronet would once have been to herself, overruled her objections, and hurried her away to prepare. She quickly returned, a cheery spectacle in her russet brown and scarlet neck-tie, the robin red-breast's livery which she loved.
"Your cheeks should be a refreshing sight to the Londoners, Phoebe," said Sir
Bevil, with his rare, but most pleasant smile.
Where shall we go? You don't seem much to care for the Park. I'm at your service wherever you like to go." And as Phoebe hesitated, with cheeks trebly beneficial to the Londoners, he kindly added, "Well, what is it? Never mind what! I'm open to any thing—even Madame Tuffaud's."
"If I might go to see Robert. Augusta said he was looking ill."
"My dear!" interposed her mother,
you can't think of it. Such a dreadful place, and such a distance!" •
"It is only a little way beyond St. Paul's, and there are no bad streets, dear mamma. I have been there with Miss Charlecote. But if it be too far, or you don't like driving into the city, never mind," she continued, turning to Sir Bevil, " I ought to have said nothing about it."
But Sir Bevil, reading the ardor of the wish in the honest face, pronounced the expedition an excellent idea, and carried her off with her eyes as round and sparkling as those of the children going to Christmas parties. He stole glances at her as if her fresh, innocent looks were an absolute treat to him, and when he talked it was of Robert in his boyhood. "I remember him at twelve years old, a sturdy young ruffian, with an excellent notion of standing up for himself."
Phoebe listened with delight to some characteristic anecdotes of Robert's youth, and wondered whether he would be appreciated now. She did not think that Sir Bevil held the same opinions as Robert or Miss Charlecote; he was an upright, high-minded soldier, with honor and subordination his chief religion, and not likely to enter into Robert's peculiarities. She was in some difficulty when she was asked whether her brother were not under some cloud, or had not been taking a lino of his own—a gentler form of inquiry, which she could answer with the simple truth.
"Yes, he would not take a share in the business, because he thought it promoted evil, and he felt it right to do parish work at St. Wulstan's, because our profits chiefly come from thence. It docs not please at home, because they think he could have" done better for himself, and he sometimes is obliged to interfere with Mervyn's plans."
Sir Bevil made the less answer because they were in the full current of London traffie, and his proud chestnut was snuffing the hat of an omnibus cad. Careful driving was needed, and Phoebe was praised for never even looking frightened, then again for her organ of locality and the skilful pilotage with which she unerringly and unhesitatingly found the way through the Whittingtonian labyrinths; and as the disgusted tiger pealed at the knocker at Turnagain Corner, she was told she would be a useful guide in the South African bush. "At home," was the welcome reply, and in another second, her arms •were round Robert's neck. There was a thorough brotherly greeting between him and Sir Bevil, each saw in the other a man to be respected, and Robert could not but be grateful to the man who brought him Phoebe.
Her eyesjvere on the alert to judge how he had been using himself in the last halfyear. He looked thin, yet that might be owing to his clerical coat, and some of his rural ruddiness was gone, but there was no want of health of form or face, only the sparencss and vigor of thorough working condition. His expression was still grave even to sadness, and sternness seemed gathering round his thin lips. Heavy of heart he doubtless was still, but she was struck by the absence of the undefined restlessness that had for years been habitual to both brothers, and •which had lately so increased on Mervyn, that there was a relief in watching a face free from it, and telling not indeed of happiness, but of a mind made up to do without it.
She supposed that his room ought to satisfy her, for though untidy in female eyes, it did not betray ultra self-neglect. The fire was brisk, there was a respectable luncheon on the table, and he had even treated himself to the Guardian, some new books, and a beautiful photogiaph of a foreign cathedral. The room was littered with half-unrolled plans, which had to be cleared before the guests could find seats, and he had evidently been beguiling his luncheon with the perusal of some large MS., red-taped together at the upper corner.
"That's handsome," said Sir Devil. "What is it for? A school, or almshouses?"
"Something of both," said Robert his color rising. "We want a place for disposing of the destitute children that swarm in this district."
"Oh, show me!" cried Phoebe. "Is it to be at that place in Cicely Row?"
"I hope so."
The stiff sheets were unrolled, the designs explained. There was to be a range of buildings round a court, consisting of dayschools, a home for orphans, a creche for infants, a reading-room for adults, and apartments for the clergy of the church which was to form one side of the quadrangle. Sir Bevil was much interested, and made useful criticisms. "But," he objected, "what is the use of building new churches in the city, when there is no filling those you have."
"St. Wulstan's is better filled than formerly," said Robert. "The pew system is the chief enemy there; but even without that, it would not hold a tenth part of the Whittingtonian population, would they come to it, which they will not. The church must come to them, and with special services at their own times. They need an absolute mission, on entirely different terms from the Woolstone quarler."
"And are you about to head the mission?"
"To endeavor to take a share in it."
"And who is to be at the cost of this?" pursued Sir Devil. "Have you a subscription list?"
Robert colored again as he answered, "Why, no, we can do without that so far."
Phoebe understood, and her face must have revealed the truth to Sir Bevil, for laying his hand on Robert's arm, he said, "My good fellow, you don't mean that you are answerable for all this?"
"You know I have something of my own."
"You will not leave much of it at this rate. How about the endowment?"
"I shall live upon the endowment."
"Have you considered? You will be tied to this place forever."
"That is one of my objects," replied Robert, and in reply to a look of astonished interrogation, "myself and all that is mine wrould be far too little to atone for a fraction of the evil we are every day perpetrating here."
"I should hate the business myself," said the baronet; "but don't you see it in a strong light?"
"Every hour I spend here shows me that I do not see it strongly enough."
And there followed some appalling in