by Charlotte Bronte
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His dry-eyed and sober mourning scandalized an old housekeeper, and likewise a female attendant, who had waited upon Mrs. Helstone in her sickness, and who, perhaps, had had opportunities of learning more of the deceased lady's nature, of her capacity for feeling and loving, than her husband knew. They gossiped together over the corpse, related anecdotes, with embellishments of her lingering decline, and its real or supposed cause. In short, they worked each other up to some indignation against the austere little man, who sat examining papers in an adjoining room, unconscious of what opprobrium he was the object.

Mrs. Helstone was hardly under the sod when rumours began to be rife in the neighbourhood that she had died of a broken heart. These magnified quickly into reports of hard usage, and, finally, details of harsh treatment on the part of her husband—reports grossly untrue, but not the less eagerly received on that account. Mr. Yorke heard them, partly believed them. Already, of course, he had no friendly feeling to his successful rival. Though himself a married man now, and united to a woman who seemed a complete contrast to Mary Cave in all respects, he could not forget the great disappointment of his life; and when he heard that what would have been so precious to him had been neglected, perhaps abused, by another, he conceived for that other a rooted and bitter animosity.

Of the nature and strength of this animosity Mr. Helstone was but half aware. He neither knew how much Yorke had loved Mary Cave, what he had felt on losing her, nor was he conscious of the calumnies concerning his treatment of her, familiar to every ear in the neighbourhood but his own. He believed political and religious differences alone separated him and Mr. Yorke. Had he known how the case really stood, he would hardly have been induced by any persuasion to cross his former rival's threshold.

* * * * *

Mr. Yorke did not resume his lecture of Robert Moore. The conversation ere long recommenced in a more general form, though still in a somewhat disputative tone. The unquiet state of the country, the various depredations lately committed on mill-property in the district, supplied abundant matter for disagreement, especially as each of the three gentlemen present differed more or less in his views on these subjects. Mr. Helstone thought the masters aggrieved, the workpeople unreasonable; he condemned sweepingly the widespread spirit of disaffection against constituted authorities, the growing indisposition to bear with patience evils he regarded as inevitable. The cures he prescribed were vigorous government interference, strict magisterial vigilance; when necessary, prompt military coercion.

Mr. Yorke wished to know whether this interference, vigilance, and coercion would feed those who were hungry, give work to those who wanted work, and whom no man would hire. He scouted the idea of inevitable evils. He said public patience was a camel, on whose back the last atom that could be borne had already been laid, and that resistance was now a duty; the widespread spirit of disaffection against constituted authorities he regarded as the most promising sign of the times; the masters, he allowed, were truly aggrieved, but their main grievances had been heaped on them by a "corrupt, base, and bloody" government (these were Mr. Yorke's epithets). Madmen like Pitt, demons like Castlereagh, mischievous idiots like Perceval, were the tyrants, the curses of the country, the destroyers of her trade. It was their infatuated perseverance in an unjustifiable, a hopeless, a ruinous war, which had brought the nation to its present pass. It was their monstrously oppressive taxation, it was the infamous "Orders in Council"—the originators of which deserved impeachment and the scaffold, if ever public men did—that hung a millstone about England's neck.

"But where was the use of talking?" he demanded. "What chance was there of reason being heard in a land that was king-ridden, priest-ridden, peer-ridden; where a lunatic was the nominal monarch, an unprincipled debauchee the real ruler; where such an insult to common sense as hereditary legislators was tolerated; where such a humbug as a bench of bishops, such an arrogant abuse as a pampered, persecuting established church was endured and venerated; where a standing army was maintained, and a host of lazy parsons and their pauper families were kept on the fat of the land?"

Mr. Helstone, rising up and putting on his shovel-hat, observed in reply, "that in the course of his life he had met with two or three instances where sentiments of this sort had been very bravely maintained so long as health, strength, and worldly prosperity had been the allies of him who professed them; but there came a time," he said, "to all men, 'when the keepers of the house should tremble; when they should be afraid of that which is high, and fear should be in the way;' and that time was the test of the advocate of anarchy and rebellion, the enemy of religion and order. Ere now," he affirmed, "he had been called upon to read those prayers our church has provided for the sick by the miserable dying-bed of one of her most rancorous foes; he had seen such a one stricken with remorse, solicitous to discover a place for repentance, and unable to find any, though he sought it carefully with tears. He must forewarn Mr. Yorke that blasphemy against God and the king was a deadly sin, and that there was such a thing as 'judgment to come.'"

Mr. Yorke "believed fully that there was such a thing as judgment to come. If it were otherwise, it would be difficult to imagine how all the scoundrels who seemed triumphant in this world, who broke innocent hearts with impunity, abused unmerited privileges, were a scandal to honourable callings, took the bread out of the mouths of the poor, browbeat the humble, and truckled meanly to the rich and proud, were to be properly paid off in such coin as they had earned. But," he added, "whenever he got low-spirited about such-like goings-on, and their seeming success in this mucky lump of a planet, he just reached down t' owd book" (pointing to a great Bible in the bookcase), "opened it like at a chance, and he was sure to light of a verse blazing wi' a blue brimstone low that set all straight. He knew," he said, "where some folk war bound for, just as weel as if an angel wi' great white wings had come in ower t' door-stone and told him."

"Sir," said Mr. Helstone, collecting all his dignity—"sir, the great knowledge of man is to know himself, and the bourne whither his own steps tend."

"Ay, ay. You'll recollect, Mr. Helstone, that Ignorance was carried away from the very gates of heaven, borne through the air, and thrust in at a door in the side of the hill which led down to hell."

"Nor have I forgotten, Mr. Yorke, that Vain-Confidence, not seeing the way before him, fell into a deep pit, which was on purpose there made by the prince of the grounds, to catch vainglorious fools withal, and was dashed to pieces with his fall."

"Now," interposed Mr. Moore, who had hitherto sat a silent but amused spectator of this worldly combat, and whose indifference to the party politics of the day, as well as to the gossip of the neighbourhood, made him an impartial, if apathetic, judge of the merits of such an encounter, "you have both sufficiently blackballed each other, and proved how cordially you detest each other, and how wicked you think each other. For my part, my hate is still running in such a strong current against the fellows who have broken my frames that I have none to spare for my private acquaintance, and still less for such a vague thing as a sect or a government. But really, gentlemen, you both seem very bad by your own showing—worse than ever I suspected you to be.—I dare not stay all night with a rebel and blasphemer like you, Yorke; and I hardly dare ride home with a cruel and tyrannical ecclesiastic like Mr. Helstone."

"I am going, however, Mr. Moore," said the rector sternly. "Come with me or not, as you please."

"Nay, he shall not have the choice; he shall go with you," responded Yorke. "It's midnight, and past; and I'll have nob'dy staying up i' my house any longer. Ye mun all go."

He rang the bell.

"Deb," said he to the servant who answered it, "clear them folk out o' t' kitchen, and lock t' doors, and be off to bed.—Here is your way, gentlemen," he continued to his guests; and, lighting them through the passage, he fairly put them out at his front door.

They met their party hurrying out pell-mell by the back way. Their horses stood at the gate; they mounted, and rode off, Moore laughing at their abrupt dismissal, Helstone deeply indignant thereat.



Moore's good spirits were still with him when he rose next morning. He and Joe Scott had both spent the night in the mill, availing themselves of certain sleeping accommodations producible from recesses in the front and back counting-houses. The master, always an early riser, was up somewhat sooner even than usual. He awoke his man by singing a French song as he made his toilet.

"Ye're not custen dahn, then, maister?" cried Joe.

"Not a stiver, mon garcon—which means, my lad. Get up, and we'll take a turn through the mill before the hands come in, and I'll explain my future plans. We'll have the machinery yet, Joseph. You never heard of Bruce, perhaps?"

"And th' arrand (spider)? Yes, but I hev. I've read th' history o' Scotland, and happen knaw as mich on't as ye; and I understand ye to mean to say ye'll persevere."

"I do."

"Is there mony o' your mak' i' your country?" inquired Joe, as he folded up his temporary bed, and put it away.

"In my country! Which is my country?"

"Why, France—isn't it?"

"Not it, indeed! The circumstance of the French having seized Antwerp, where I was born, does not make me a Frenchman."

"Holland, then?"

"I am not a Dutchman. Now you are confounding Antwerp with Amsterdam."


"I scorn the insinuation, Joe! I a Flamand! Have I a Flemish face—the clumsy nose standing out, the mean forehead falling back, the pale blue eyes 'a fleur de tete'? Am I all body and no legs, like a Flamand? But you don't know what they are like, those Netherlanders. Joe, I'm an Anversois. My mother was an Anversoise, though she came of French lineage, which is the reason I speak French."

"But your father war Yorkshire, which maks ye a bit Yorkshire too; and onybody may see ye're akin to us, ye're so keen o' making brass, and getting forrards."

"Joe, you're an impudent dog; but I've always been accustomed to a boorish sort of insolence from my youth up. The 'classe ouvriere'—that is, the working people in Belgium—bear themselves brutally towards their employers; and by brutally, Joe, I mean brutalement—which, perhaps, when properly translated, should be roughly."

"We allus speak our minds i' this country; and them young parsons and grand folk fro' London is shocked at wer 'incivility;' and we like weel enough to gi'e 'em summat to be shocked at, 'cause it's sport to us to watch 'em turn up the whites o' their een, and spreed out their bits o' hands, like as they're flayed wi' bogards, and then to hear 'em say, nipping off their words short like, 'Dear! dear! Whet seveges! How very corse!'"

"You are savages, Joe. You don't suppose you're civilized, do you?"

"Middling, middling, maister. I reckon 'at us manufacturing lads i' th' north is a deal more intelligent, and knaws a deal more nor th' farming folk i' th' south. Trade sharpens wer wits; and them that's mechanics like me is forced to think. Ye know, what wi' looking after machinery and sich like, I've getten into that way that when I see an effect, I look straight out for a cause, and I oft lig hold on't to purpose; and then I like reading, and I'm curious to knaw what them that reckons to govern us aims to do for us and wi' us. And there's many 'cuter nor me; there's many a one amang them greasy chaps 'at smells o' oil, and amang them dyers wi' blue and black skins, that has a long head, and that can tell what a fooil of a law is, as well as ye or old Yorke, and a deal better nor soft uns like Christopher Sykes o' Whinbury, and greet hectoring nowts like yond' Irish Peter, Helstone's curate."

"You think yourself a clever fellow, I know, Scott."

"Ay! I'm fairish. I can tell cheese fro' chalk, and I'm varry weel aware that I've improved sich opportunities as I have had, a deal better nor some 'at reckons to be aboon me; but there's thousands i' Yorkshire that's as good as me, and a two-three that's better."

"You're a great man—you're a sublime fellow; but you're a prig, a conceited noodle with it all, Joe! You need not to think that because you've picked up a little knowledge of practical mathematics, and because you have found some scantling of the elements of chemistry at the bottom of a dyeing vat, that therefore you're a neglected man of science; and you need not to suppose that because the course of trade does not always run smooth, and you, and such as you, are sometimes short of work and of bread, that therefore your class are martyrs, and that the whole form of government under which you live is wrong. And, moreover, you need not for a moment to insinuate that the virtues have taken refuge in cottages and wholly abandoned slated houses. Let me tell you, I particularly abominate that sort of trash, because I know so well that human nature is human nature everywhere, whether under tile or thatch, and that in every specimen of human nature that breathes, vice and virtue are ever found blended, in smaller or greater proportions, and that the proportion is not determined by station. I have seen villains who were rich, and I have seen villains who were poor, and I have seen villains who were neither rich nor poor, but who had realized Agar's wish, and lived in fair and modest competency. The clock is going to strike six. Away with you, Joe, and ring the mill bell."

It was now the middle of the month of February; by six o'clock therefore dawn was just beginning to steal on night, to penetrate with a pale ray its brown obscurity, and give a demi-translucence to its opaque shadows. Pale enough that ray was on this particular morning: no colour tinged the east, no flush warmed it. To see what a heavy lid day slowly lifted, what a wan glance she flung along the hills, you would have thought the sun's fire quenched in last night's floods. The breath of this morning was chill as its aspect; a raw wind stirred the mass of night-cloud, and showed, as it slowly rose, leaving a colourless, silver-gleaming ring all round the horizon, not blue sky, but a stratum of paler vapour beyond. It had ceased to rain, but the earth was sodden, and the pools and rivulets were full.

The mill-windows were alight, the bell still rung loud, and now the little children came running in, in too great a hurry, let us hope, to feel very much nipped by the inclement air; and indeed, by contrast, perhaps the morning appeared rather favourable to them than otherwise, for they had often come to their work that winter through snow-storms, through heavy rain, through hard frost.

Mr. Moore stood at the entrance to watch them pass. He counted them as they went by. To those who came rather late he said a word of reprimand, which was a little more sharply repeated by Joe Scott when the lingerers reached the work-rooms. Neither master nor overlooker spoke savagely. They were not savage men either of them, though it appeared both were rigid, for they fined a delinquent who came considerably too late. Mr. Moore made him pay his penny down ere he entered, and informed him that the next repetition of the fault would cost him twopence.

Rules, no doubt, are necessary in such cases, and coarse and cruel masters will make coarse and cruel rules, which, at the time we treat of at least, they used sometimes to enforce tyrannically; but though I describe imperfect characters (every character in this book will be found to be more or less imperfect, my pen refusing to draw anything in the model line), I have not undertaken to handle degraded or utterly infamous ones. Child-torturers, slave masters and drivers, I consign to the hands of jailers. The novelist may be excused from sullying his page with the record of their deeds.

Instead, then, of harrowing up my reader's soul and delighting his organ of wonder with effective descriptions of stripes and scourgings, I am happy to be able to inform him that neither Mr. Moore nor his overlooker ever struck a child in their mill. Joe had, indeed, once very severely flogged a son of his own for telling a lie and persisting in it; but, like his employer, he was too phlegmatic, too calm, as well as too reasonable a man, to make corporal chastisement other than the exception to his treatment of the young.

Mr. Moore haunted his mill, his mill-yard, his dye-house, and his warehouse till the sickly dawn strengthened into day. The sun even rose—at least a white disc, clear, tintless, and almost chill-looking as ice, peeped over the dark crest of a hill, changed to silver the livid edge of the cloud above it, and looked solemnly down the whole length of the den, or narrow dale, to whose strait bounds we are at present limited. It was eight o'clock; the mill lights were all extinguished; the signal was given for breakfast; the children, released for half an hour from toil, betook themselves to the little tin cans which held their coffee, and to the small baskets which contained their allowance of bread. Let us hope they have enough to eat; it would be a pity were it otherwise.

And now at last Mr. Moore quitted the mill-yard, and bent his steps to his dwelling-house. It was only a short distance from the factory, but the hedge and high bank on each side of the lane which conducted to it seemed to give it something of the appearance and feeling of seclusion. It was a small, whitewashed place, with a green porch over the door; scanty brown stalks showed in the garden soil near this porch, and likewise beneath the windows—stalks budless and flowerless now, but giving dim prediction of trained and blooming creepers for summer days. A grass plat and borders fronted the cottage. The borders presented only black mould yet, except where, in sheltered nooks, the first shoots of snowdrop or crocus peeped, green as emerald, from the earth. The spring was late; it had been a severe and prolonged winter; the last deep snow had but just disappeared before yesterday's rains; on the hills, indeed, white remnants of it yet gleamed, flecking the hollows and crowning the peaks; the lawn was not verdant, but bleached, as was the grass on the bank, and under the hedge in the lane. Three trees, gracefully grouped, rose beside the cottage. They were not lofty, but having no rivals near, they looked well and imposing where they grew. Such was Mr. Moore's home—a snug nest for content and contemplation, but one within which the wings of action and ambition could not long lie folded.

Its air of modest comfort seemed to possess no particular attraction for its owner. Instead of entering the house at once he fetched a spade from a little shed and began to work in the garden. For about a quarter of an hour he dug on uninterrupted. At length, however, a window opened, and a female voice called to him,—

"Eh, bien! Tu ne dejeunes pas ce matin?"

The answer, and the rest of the conversation, was in French; but as this is an English book, I shall translate it into English.

"Is breakfast ready, Hortense?"

"Certainly; it has been ready half an hour."

"Then I am ready too. I have a canine hunger."

He threw down his spade, and entered the house. The narrow passage conducted him to a small parlour, where a breakfast of coffee and bread and butter, with the somewhat un-English accompaniment of stewed pears, was spread on the table. Over these viands presided the lady who had spoken from the window. I must describe her before I go any farther.

She seemed a little older than Mr. Moore—perhaps she was thirty-five, tall, and proportionately stout; she had very black hair, for the present twisted up in curl-papers, a high colour in her cheeks, a small nose, a pair of little black eyes. The lower part of her face was large in proportion to the upper; her forehead was small and rather corrugated; she had a fretful though not an ill-natured expression of countenance; there was something in her whole appearance one felt inclined to be half provoked with and half amused at. The strangest point was her dress—a stuff petticoat and a striped cotton camisole. The petticoat was short, displaying well a pair of feet and ankles which left much to be desired in the article of symmetry.

You will think I have depicted a remarkable slattern, reader. Not at all. Hortense Moore (she was Mr. Moore's sister) was a very orderly, economical person. The petticoat, camisole, and curl-papers were her morning costume, in which, of forenoons, she had always been accustomed to "go her household ways" in her own country. She did not choose to adopt English fashions because she was obliged to live in England; she adhered to her old Belgian modes, quite satisfied that there was a merit in so doing.

Mademoiselle had an excellent opinion of herself—an opinion not wholly undeserved, for she possessed some good and sterling qualities; but she rather over-estimated the kind and degree of these qualities, and quite left out of the account sundry little defects which accompanied them. You could never have persuaded her that she was a prejudiced and narrow-minded person, that she was too susceptible on the subject of her own dignity and importance, and too apt to take offence about trifles; yet all this was true. However, where her claims to distinction were not opposed, and where her prejudices were not offended, she could be kind and friendly enough. To her two brothers (for there was another Gerard Moore besides Robert) she was very much attached. As the sole remaining representatives of their decayed family, the persons of both were almost sacred in her eyes. Of Louis, however, she knew less than of Robert. He had been sent to England when a mere boy, and had received his education at an English school. His education not being such as to adapt him for trade, perhaps, too, his natural bent not inclining him to mercantile pursuits, he had, when the blight of hereditary prospects rendered it necessary for him to push his own fortune, adopted the very arduous and very modest career of a teacher. He had been usher in a school, and was said now to be tutor in a private family. Hortense, when she mentioned Louis, described him as having what she called "des moyens," but as being too backward and quiet. Her praise of Robert was in a different strain, less qualified: she was very proud of him; she regarded him as the greatest man in Europe; all he said and did was remarkable in her eyes, and she expected others to behold him from the same point of view; nothing could be more irrational, monstrous, and infamous than opposition from any quarter to Robert, unless it were opposition to herself.

Accordingly, as soon as the said Robert was seated at the breakfast-table, and she had helped him to a portion of stewed pears, and cut him a good-sized Belgian tartine, she began to pour out a flood of amazement and horror at the transaction of last night, the destruction of the frames.

"Quelle idee! to destroy them. Quelle action honteuse! On voyait bien que les ouvriers de ce pays etaient a la fois betes et mechants. C'etait absolument comme les domestiques anglais, les servantes surtout: rien d'insupportable comme cette Sara, par exemple!"

"She looks clean and industrious," Mr. Moore remarked.

"Looks! I don't know how she looks, and I do not say that she is altogether dirty or idle, mais elle est d'une insolence! She disputed with me a quarter of an hour yesterday about the cooking of the beef; she said I boiled it to rags, that English people would never be able to eat such a dish as our bouilli, that the bouillon was no better than greasy warm water, and as to the choucroute, she affirms she cannot touch it! That barrel we have in the cellar—delightfully prepared by my own hands—she termed a tub of hog-wash, which means food for pigs. I am harassed with the girl, and yet I cannot part with her lest I should get a worse. You are in the same position with your workmen, pauvre cher frere!"

"I am afraid you are not very happy in England, Hortense."

"It is my duty to be happy where you are, brother; but otherwise there are certainly a thousand things which make me regret our native town. All the world here appears to me ill-bred (mal-eleve). I find my habits considered ridiculous. If a girl out of your mill chances to come into the kitchen and find me in my jupon and camisole preparing dinner (for you know I cannot trust Sarah to cook a single dish), she sneers. If I accept an invitation out to tea, which I have done once or twice, I perceive I am put quite into the background; I have not that attention paid me which decidedly is my due. Of what an excellent family are the Gerards, as we know, and the Moores also! They have a right to claim a certain respect, and to feel wounded when it is withheld from them. In Antwerp I was always treated with distinction; here, one would think that when I open my lips in company I speak English with a ridiculous accent, whereas I am quite assured that I pronounce it perfectly."

"Hortense, in Antwerp we were known rich; in England we were never known but poor."

"Precisely, and thus mercenary are mankind. Again, dear brother, last Sunday, if you recollect, was very wet; accordingly I went to church in my neat black sabots, objects one would not indeed wear in a fashionable city, but which in the country I have ever been accustomed to use for walking in dirty roads. Believe me, as I paced up the aisle, composed and tranquil, as I am always, four ladies, and as many gentlemen, laughed and hid their faces behind their prayer-books."

"Well, well! don't put on the sabots again. I told you before I thought they were not quite the thing for this country."

"But, brother, they are not common sabots, such as the peasantry wear. I tell you, they are sabots noirs, tres propres, tres convenables. At Mons and Leuze—cities not very far removed from the elegant capital of Brussels—it is very seldom that the respectable people wear anything else for walking in winter. Let any one try to wade the mud of the Flemish chaussees in a pair of Paris brodequins, on m'en dirait des nouvelles!"

"Never mind Mons and Leuze and the Flemish chaussees; do at Rome as the Romans do. And as to the camisole and jupon, I am not quite sure about them either. I never see an English lady dressed in such garments. Ask Caroline Helstone."

"Caroline! I ask Caroline? I consult her about my dress? It is she who on all points should consult me. She is a child."

"She is eighteen, or at least seventeen—old enough to know all about gowns, petticoats, and chaussures."

"Do not spoil Caroline, I entreat you, brother. Do not make her of more consequence than she ought to be. At present she is modest and unassuming: let us keep her so."

"With all my heart. Is she coming this morning?"

"She will come at ten, as usual, to take her French lesson."

"You don't find that she sneers at you, do you?"

"She does not. She appreciates me better than any one else here; but then she has more intimate opportunities of knowing me. She sees that I have education, intelligence, manner, principles—all, in short, which belongs to a person well born and well bred."

"Are you at all fond of her?"

"For fond I cannot say. I am not one who is prone to take violent fancies, and, consequently, my friendship is the more to be depended on. I have a regard for her as my relative; her position also inspires interest, and her conduct as my pupil has hitherto been such as rather to enhance than diminish the attachment that springs from other causes."

"She behaves pretty well at lessons?"

"To me she behaves very well; but you are conscious, brother, that I have a manner calculated to repel over-familiarity, to win esteem, and to command respect. Yet, possessed of penetration, I perceive clearly that Caroline is not perfect, that there is much to be desired in her."

"Give me a last cup of coffee, and while I am drinking it amuse me with an account of her faults."

"Dear brother, I am happy to see you eat your breakfast with relish, after the fatiguing night you have passed. Caroline, then, is defective; but with my forming hand and almost motherly care she may improve. There is about her an occasional something—a reserve, I think—which I do not quite like, because it is not sufficiently girlish and submissive; and there are glimpses of an unsettled hurry in her nature, which put me out. Yet she is usually most tranquil, too dejected and thoughtful indeed sometimes. In time, I doubt not, I shall make her uniformly sedate and decorous, without being unaccountably pensive. I ever disapprove what is not intelligible."

"I don't understand your account in the least. What do you mean by 'unsettled hurries,' for instance?"

"An example will, perhaps, be the most satisfactory explanation. I sometimes, you are aware, make her read French poetry by way of practice in pronunciation. She has in the course of her lessons gone through much of Corneille and Racine, in a very steady, sober spirit, such as I approve. Occasionally she showed, indeed, a degree of languor in the perusal of those esteemed authors, partaking rather of apathy than sobriety; and apathy is what I cannot tolerate in those who have the benefit of my instructions—besides, one should not be apathetic in studying standard works. The other day I put into her hands a volume of short fugitive pieces. I sent her to the window to learn one by heart, and when I looked up I saw her turning the leaves over impatiently, and curling her lip, absolutely with scorn, as she surveyed the little poems cursorily. I chid her. 'Ma cousine,' said she, 'tout cela m'ennuie a la mort.' I told her this was improper language. 'Dieu!' she exclaimed, 'il n'y a donc pas deux lignes de poesie dans toute la litterature francaise?' I inquired what she meant. She begged my pardon with proper submission. Ere long she was still. I saw her smiling to herself over the book. She began to learn assiduously. In half an hour she came and stood before me, presented the volume, folded her hands, as I always require her to do, and commenced the repetition of that short thing by Chenier, 'La Jeune Captive.' If you had heard the manner in which she went through this, and in which she uttered a few incoherent comments when she had done, you would have known what I meant by the phrase 'unsettled hurry.' One would have thought Chenier was more moving than all Racine and all Corneille. You, brother, who have so much sagacity, will discern that this disproportionate preference argues an ill-regulated mind; but she is fortunate in her preceptress. I will give her a system, a method of thought, a set of opinions; I will give her the perfect control and guidance of her feelings."

"Be sure you do, Hortense. Here she comes. That was her shadow passed the window, I believe."

"Ah! truly. She is too early—half an hour before her time.—My child, what brings you here before I have breakfasted?"

This question was addressed to an individual who now entered the room, a young girl, wrapped in a winter mantle, the folds of which were gathered with some grace round an apparently slender figure.

"I came in haste to see how you were, Hortense, and how Robert was too. I was sure you would be both grieved by what happened last night. I did not hear till this morning. My uncle told me at breakfast."

"Ah! it is unspeakable. You sympathize with us? Your uncle sympathizes with us?"

"My uncle is very angry—but he was with Robert, I believe, was he not?—Did he not go with you to Stilbro' Moor?"

"Yes, we set out in very martial style, Caroline; but the prisoners we went to rescue met us half-way."

"Of course nobody was hurt?"

"Why, no; only Joe Scott's wrists were a little galled with being pinioned too tightly behind his back."

"You were not there? You were not with the wagons when they were attacked?"

"No. One seldom has the fortune to be present at occurrences at which one would particularly wish to assist."

"Where are you going this morning? I saw Murgatroyd saddling your horse in the yard."

"To Whinbury. It is market day."

"Mr. Yorke is going too. I met him in his gig. Come home with him."


"Two are better than one, and nobody dislikes Mr. Yorke—at least, poor people do not dislike him."

"Therefore he would be a protection to me, who am hated?"

"Who are misunderstood. That, probably, is the word. Shall you be late?—Will he be late, Cousin Hortense?"

"It is too probable. He has often much business to transact at Whinbury. Have you brought your exercise-book, child?"

"Yes.—What time will you return, Robert?"

"I generally return at seven. Do you wish me to be at home earlier?"

"Try rather to be back by six. It is not absolutely dark at six now, but by seven daylight is quite gone."

"And what danger is to be apprehended, Caroline, when daylight is gone? What peril do you conceive comes as the companion of darkness for me?"

"I am not sure that I can define my fears, but we all have a certain anxiety at present about our friends. My uncle calls these times dangerous. He says, too, that mill-owners are unpopular."

"And I am one of the most unpopular? Is not that the fact? You are reluctant to speak out plainly, but at heart you think me liable to Pearson's fate, who was shot at—not, indeed, from behind a hedge, but in his own house, through his staircase window, as he was going to bed."

"Anne Pearson showed me the bullet in the chamber-door," remarked Caroline gravely, as she folded her mantle and arranged it and her muff on a side-table. "You know," she continued, "there is a hedge all the way along the road from here to Whinbury, and there are the Fieldhead plantations to pass; but you will be back by six—or before?"

"Certainly he will," affirmed Hortense. "And now, my child, prepare your lessons for repetition, while I put the peas to soak for the puree at dinner."

With this direction she left the room.

"You suspect I have many enemies, then, Caroline," said Mr. Moore, "and doubtless you know me to be destitute of friends?"

"Not destitute, Robert. There is your sister, your brother Louis, whom I have never seen; there is Mr. Yorke, and there is my uncle—besides, of course, many more."

Robert smiled. "You would be puzzled to name your 'many more,'" said he. "But show me your exercise-book. What extreme pains you take with the writing! My sister, I suppose, exacts this care. She wants to form you in all things after the model of a Flemish school-girl. What life are you destined for, Caroline? What will you do with your French, drawing, and other accomplishments, when they are acquired?"

"You may well say, when they are acquired; for, as you are aware, till Hortense began to teach me, I knew precious little. As to the life I am destined for, I cannot tell. I suppose to keep my uncle's house till——" She hesitated.

"Till what? Till he dies?"

"No. How harsh to say that! I never think of his dying. He is only fifty-five. But till—in short, till events offer other occupations for me."

"A remarkably vague prospect! Are you content with it?"

"I used to be, formerly. Children, you know, have little reflection, or rather their reflections run on ideal themes. There are moments now when I am not quite satisfied."


"I am making no money—earning nothing."

"You come to the point, Lina. You too, then, wish to make money?"

"I do. I should like an occupation; and if I were a boy, it would not be so difficult to find one. I see such an easy, pleasant way of learning a business, and making my war in life."

"Go on. Let us hear what way."

"I could be apprenticed to your trade—the cloth-trade. I could learn it of you, as we are distant relations. I would do the counting-house work, keep the books, and write the letters, while you went to market. I know you greatly desire to be rich, in order to pay your father's debts; perhaps I could help you to get rich."

"Help me? You should think of yourself."

"I do think of myself; but must one for ever think only of oneself?"

"Of whom else do I think? Of whom else dare I think? The poor ought to have no large sympathies; it is their duty to be narrow."

"No, Robert——"

"Yes, Caroline. Poverty is necessarily selfish, contracted, grovelling, anxious. Now and then a poor man's heart, when certain beams and dews visit it, may smell like the budding vegetation in yonder garden on this spring day, may feel ripe to evolve in foliage, perhaps blossom; but he must not encourage the pleasant impulse; he must invoke Prudence to check it, with that frosty breath of hers, which is as nipping as any north wind."

"No cottage would be happy then."

"When I speak of poverty, I do not so much mean the natural, habitual poverty of the working-man, as the embarrassed penury of the man in debt. My grub-worm is always a straitened, struggling, care-worn tradesman."

"Cherish hope, not anxiety. Certain ideas have become too fixed in your mind. It may be presumptuous to say it, but I have the impression that there is something wrong in your notions of the best means of attaining happiness, as there is in——" Second hesitation.

"I am all ear, Caroline."

"In (courage! let me speak the truth)—in your manner—mind, I say only manner—to these Yorkshire workpeople."

"You have often wanted to tell me that, have you not?"

"Yes; often—very often."

"The faults of my manner are, I think, only negative. I am not proud. What has a man in my position to be proud of? I am only taciturn, phlegmatic, and joyless."

"As if your living cloth-dressers were all machines like your frames and shears. In your own house you seem different."

"To those of my own house I am no alien, which I am to these English clowns. I might act the benevolent with them, but acting is not my forte. I find them irrational, perverse; they hinder me when I long to hurry forward. In treating them justly I fulfil my whole duty towards them."

"You don't expect them to love you, of course?"

"Nor wish it."

"Ah!" said the monitress, shaking her head and heaving a deep sigh. With this ejaculation, indicative that she perceived a screw to be loose somewhere, but that it was out of her reach to set it right, she bent over her grammar, and sought the rule and exercise for the day.

"I suppose I am not an affectionate man, Caroline. The attachment of a very few suffices me."

"If you please, Robert, will you mend me a pen or two before you go?"

"First let me rule your book, for you always contrive to draw the lines aslant. There now. And now for the pens. You like a fine one, I think?"

"Such as you generally make for me and Hortense; not your own broad points."

"If I were of Louis's calling I might stay at home and dedicate this morning to you and your studies, whereas I must spend it in Skyes's wool-warehouse."

"You will be making money."

"More likely losing it."

As he finished mending the pens, a horse, saddled and bridled, was brought up to the garden-gate.

"There, Fred is ready for me; I must go. I'll take one look to see what the spring has done in the south border, too, first."

He quitted the room, and went out into the garden ground behind the mill. A sweet fringe of young verdure and opening flowers—snowdrop, crocus, even primrose—bloomed in the sunshine under the hot wall of the factory Moore plucked here and there a blossom and leaf, till he had collected a little bouquet. He returned to the parlour, pilfered a thread of silk from his sister's work-basket, tied the flowers, and laid them on Caroline's desk.

"Now, good-morning."

"Thank you, Robert. It is pretty; it looks, as it lies there, like sparkles of sunshine and blue sky. Good-morning."

He went to the door, stopped, opened his lips as if to speak, said nothing, and moved on. He passed through the wicket, and mounted his horse. In a second he had flung himself from his saddle again, transferred the reins to Murgatroyd, and re-entered the cottage.

"I forgot my gloves," he said, appearing to take something from the side-table; then, as an impromptu thought, he remarked, "You have no binding engagement at home perhaps, Caroline?"

"I never have. Some children's socks, which Mrs. Ramsden has ordered, to knit for the Jew's basket; but they will keep."

"Jew's basket be—sold! Never was utensil better named. Anything more Jewish than it—its contents and their prices—cannot be conceived. But I see something, a very tiny curl, at the corners of your lip, which tells me that you know its merits as well as I do. Forget the Jew's basket, then, and spend the day here as a change. Your uncle won't break his heart at your absence?"

She smiled. "No."

"The old Cossack! I dare say not," muttered Moore.

"Then stay and dine with Hortense; she will be glad of your company. I shall return in good time. We will have a little reading in the evening. The moon rises at half-past eight, and I will walk up to the rectory with you at nine. Do you agree?"

She nodded her head, and her eyes lit up.

Moore lingered yet two minutes. He bent over Caroline's desk and glanced at her grammar, he fingered her pen, he lifted her bouquet and played with it; his horse stamped impatient; Fred Murgatroyd hemmed and coughed at the gate, as if he wondered what in the world his master was doing. "Good-morning," again said Moore, and finally vanished.

Hortense, coming in ten minutes after, found, to her surprise, that Caroline had not yet commenced her exercise.



Mademoiselle Moore had that morning a somewhat absent-minded pupil. Caroline forgot, again and again, the explanations which were given to her. However, she still bore with unclouded mood the chidings her inattention brought upon her. Sitting in the sunshine near the window, she seemed to receive with its warmth a kind influence, which made her both happy and good. Thus disposed, she looked her best, and her best was a pleasing vision.

To her had not been denied the gift of beauty. It was not absolutely necessary to know her in order to like her; she was fair enough to please, even at the first view. Her shape suited her age: it was girlish, light, and pliant; every curve was neat, every limb proportionate; her face was expressive and gentle; her eyes were handsome, and gifted at times with a winning beam that stole into the heart, with a language that spoke softly to the affections. Her mouth was very pretty; she had a delicate skin, and a fine flow of brown hair, which she knew how to arrange with taste; curls became her, and she possessed them in picturesque profusion. Her style of dress announced taste in the wearer—very unobtrusive in fashion, far from costly in material, but suitable in colour to the fair complexion with which it contrasted, and in make to the slight form which it draped. Her present winter garb was of merino—the same soft shade of brown as her hair; the little collar round her neck lay over a pink ribbon, and was fastened with a pink knot. She wore no other decoration.

So much for Caroline Helstone's appearance. As to her character or intellect, if she had any, they must speak for themselves in due time.

Her connections are soon explained. She was the child of parents separated soon after her birth, in consequence of disagreement of disposition. Her mother was the half-sister of Mr. Moore's father; thus, though there was no mixture of blood, she was, in a distant sense, the cousin of Robert, Louis, and Hortense. Her father was the brother of Mr. Helstone—a man of the character friends desire not to recall, after death has once settled all earthly accounts. He had rendered his wife unhappy. The reports which were known to be true concerning him had given an air of probability to those which were falsely circulated respecting his better-principled brother. Caroline had never known her mother, as she was taken from her in infancy, and had not since seen her; her father died comparatively young, and her uncle, the rector, had for some years been her sole guardian. He was not, as we are aware, much adapted, either by nature or habits, to have the charge of a young girl. He had taken little trouble about her education; probably he would have taken none if she, finding herself neglected, had not grown anxious on her own account, and asked, every now and then, for a little attention, and for the means of acquiring such amount of knowledge as could not be dispensed with. Still, she had a depressing feeling that she was inferior, that her attainments were fewer than were usually possessed by girls of her age and station; and very glad was she to avail herself of the kind offer made by her cousin Hortense, soon after the arrival of the latter at Hollow's Mill, to teach her French and fine needle-work. Mdlle. Moore, for her part, delighted in the task, because it gave her importance; she liked to lord it a little over a docile yet quick pupil. She took Caroline precisely at her own estimate, as an irregularly-taught, even ignorant girl; and when she found that she made rapid and eager progress, it was to no talent, no application, in the scholar she ascribed the improvement, but entirely to her own superior method of teaching. When she found that Caroline, unskilled in routine, had a knowledge of her own, desultory but varied, the discovery caused her no surprise, for she still imagined that from her conversation had the girl unawares gleaned these treasures. She thought it even when forced to feel that her pupil knew much on subjects whereof she knew little. The idea was not logical, but Hortense had perfect faith in it.

Mademoiselle, who prided herself on possessing "un esprit positif," and on entertaining a decided preference for dry studies, kept her young cousin to the same as closely as she could. She worked her unrelentingly at the grammar of the French language, assigning her, as the most improving exercise she could devise, interminable "analyses logiques." These "analyses" were by no means a source of particular pleasure to Caroline; she thought she could have learned French just as well without them, and grudged excessively the time spent in pondering over "propositions, principales, et incidents;" in deciding the "incidente determinative," and the "incidente applicative;" in examining whether the proposition was "pleine," "elliptique," or "implicite." Sometimes she lost herself in the maze, and when so lost she would, now and then (while Hortense was rummaging her drawers upstairs—an unaccountable occupation in which she spent a large portion of each day, arranging, disarranging, rearranging, and counter-arranging), carry her book to Robert in the counting-house, and get the rough place made smooth by his aid. Mr. Moore possessed a clear, tranquil brain of his own. Almost as soon as he looked at Caroline's little difficulties they seemed to dissolve beneath his eye. In two minutes he would explain all, in two words give the key to the puzzle. She thought if Hortense could only teach like him, how much faster she might learn! Repaying him by an admiring and grateful smile, rather shed at his feet than lifted to his face, she would leave the mill reluctantly to go back to the cottage, and then, while she completed the exercise, or worked out the sum (for Mdlle. Moore taught her arithmetic too), she would wish nature had made her a boy instead of a girl, that she might ask Robert to let her be his clerk, and sit with him in the counting-house, instead of sitting with Hortense in the parlour.

Occasionally—but this happened very rarely—she spent the evening at Hollow's Cottage. Sometimes during these visits Moore was away attending a market; sometimes he was gone to Mr. Yorke's; often he was engaged with a male visitor in another room; but sometimes, too, he was at home, disengaged, free to talk with Caroline. When this was the case, the evening hours passed on wings of light; they were gone before they were counted. There was no room in England so pleasant as that small parlour when the three cousins occupied it. Hortense, when she was not teaching, or scolding, or cooking, was far from ill-humoured; it was her custom to relax towards evening, and to be kind to her young English kinswoman. There was a means, too, of rendering her delightful, by inducing her to take her guitar and sing and play. She then became quite good-natured. And as she played with skill, and had a well-toned voice, it was not disagreeable to listen to her. It would have been absolutely agreeable, except that her formal and self-important character modulated her strains, as it impressed her manners and moulded her countenance.

Mr. Moore, released from the business yoke, was, if not lively himself, a willing spectator of Caroline's liveliness, a complacent listener to her talk, a ready respondent to her questions. He was something agreeable to sit near, to hover round, to address and look at. Sometimes he was better than this—almost animated, quite gentle and friendly.

The drawback was that by the next morning he was sure to be frozen up again; and however much he seemed, in his quiet way, to enjoy these social evenings, he rarely contrived their recurrence. This circumstance puzzled the inexperienced head of his cousin. "If I had a means of happiness at my command," she thought, "I would employ that means often. I would keep it bright with use, and not let it lie for weeks aside, till it gets rusty."

Yet she was careful not to put in practice her own theory. Much as she liked an evening visit to the cottage, she never paid one unasked. Often, indeed, when pressed by Hortense to come, she would refuse, because Robert did not second, or but slightly seconded the request. This morning was the first time he had ever, of his own unprompted will, given her an invitation; and then he had spoken so kindly that in hearing him she had received a sense of happiness sufficient to keep her glad for the whole day.

The morning passed as usual. Mademoiselle, ever breathlessly busy, spent it in bustling from kitchen to parlour, now scolding Sarah, now looking over Caroline's exercise or hearing her repetition-lesson. However faultlessly these tasks were achieved, she never commended: it was a maxim with her that praise is inconsistent with a teacher's dignity, and that blame, in more or less unqualified measure, is indispensable to it. She thought incessant reprimand, severe or slight, quite necessary to the maintenance of her authority; and if no possible error was to be found in the lesson, it was the pupil's carriage, or air, or dress, or mien, which required correction.

The usual affray took place about the dinner, which meal, when Sarah at last brought it into the room, she almost flung upon the table, with a look that expressed quite plainly, "I never dished such stuff i' my life afore; it's not fit for dogs." Notwithstanding Sarah's scorn, it was a savoury repast enough. The soup was a sort of puree of dried peas, which mademoiselle had prepared amidst bitter lamentations that in this desolate country of England no haricot beans were to be had. Then came a dish of meat—nature unknown, but supposed to be miscellaneous—singularly chopped up with crumbs of bread, seasoned uniquely though not unpleasantly, and baked in a mould—a queer but by no means unpalatable dish. Greens, oddly bruised, formed the accompanying vegetable; and a pate of fruit, conserved after a recipe devised by Madame Gerard Moore's "grand'mere," and from the taste of which it appeared probable that "melasse" had been substituted for sugar, completed the dinner.

Caroline had no objection to this Belgian cookery—indeed she rather liked it for a change; and it was well she did so, for had she evinced any disrelish thereof, such manifestation would have injured her in mademoiselle's good graces for ever; a positive crime might have been more easily pardoned than a symptom of distaste for the foreign comestibles.

Soon after dinner Caroline coaxed her governess-cousin upstairs to dress. This manoeuvre required management. To have hinted that the jupon, camisole, and curl-papers were odious objects, or indeed other than quite meritorious points, would have been a felony. Any premature attempt to urge their disappearance was therefore unwise, and would be likely to issue in the persevering wear of them during the whole day. Carefully avoiding rocks and quicksands, however, the pupil, on pretence of requiring a change of scene, contrived to get the teacher aloft; and, once in the bedroom, she persuaded her that it was not worth while returning thither, and that she might as well make her toilet now; and while mademoiselle delivered a solemn homily on her own surpassing merit in disregarding all frivolities of fashion, Caroline denuded her of the camisole, invested her with a decent gown, arranged her collar, hair, etc., and made her quite presentable. But Hortense would put the finishing touches herself, and these finishing touches consisted in a thick handkerchief tied round the throat, and a large, servant-like black apron, which spoiled everything. On no account would mademoiselle have appeared in her own house without the thick handkerchief and the voluminous apron. The first was a positive matter of morality—it was quite improper not to wear a fichu; the second was the ensign of a good housewife—she appeared to think that by means of it she somehow effected a large saving in her brother's income. She had, with her own hands, made and presented to Caroline similar equipments; and the only serious quarrel they had ever had, and which still left a soreness in the elder cousin's soul, had arisen from the refusal of the younger one to accept of and profit by these elegant presents.

"I wear a high dress and a collar," said Caroline, "and I should feel suffocated with a handkerchief in addition; and my short aprons do quite as well as that very long one. I would rather make no change."

Yet Hortense, by dint of perseverance, would probably have compelled her to make a change, had not Mr. Moore chanced to overhear a dispute on the subject, and decided that Caroline's little aprons would suffice, and that, in his opinion, as she was still but a child, she might for the present dispense with the fichu, especially as her curls were long, and almost touched her shoulders.

There was no appeal against Robert's opinion, therefore his sister was compelled to yield; but she disapproved entirely of the piquant neatness of Caroline's costume, and the ladylike grace of her appearance. Something more solid and homely she would have considered "beaucoup plus convenable."

The afternoon was devoted to sewing. Mademoiselle, like most Belgian ladies, was specially skilful with her needle. She by no means thought it waste of time to devote unnumbered hours to fine embroidery, sight-destroying lace-work, marvellous netting and knitting, and, above all, to most elaborate stocking-mending. She would give a day to the mending of two holes in a stocking any time, and think her "mission" nobly fulfilled when she had accomplished it. It was another of Caroline's troubles to be condemned to learn this foreign style of darning, which was done stitch by stitch, so as exactly to imitate the fabric of the stocking itself—a wearifu' process, but considered by Hortense Gerard, and by her ancestresses before her for long generations back, as one of the first "duties of a woman." She herself had had a needle, cotton, and a fearfully torn stocking put into her hand while she yet wore a child's coif on her little black head; her "hauts faits" in the darning line had been exhibited to company ere she was six years old; and when she first discovered that Caroline was profoundly ignorant of this most essential of attainments, she could have wept with pity over her miserably-neglected youth.

No time did she lose in seeking up a hopeless pair of hose, of which the heels were entirely gone, and in setting the ignorant English girl to repair the deficiency. This task had been commenced two years ago, and Caroline had the stockings in her work-bag yet. She did a few rows every day, by way of penance for the expiation of her sins. They were a grievous burden to her; she would much have liked to put them in the fire; and once Mr. Moore, who had observed her sitting and sighing over them, had proposed a private incremation in the counting-house; but to this proposal Caroline knew it would have been impolitic to accede—the result could only be a fresh pair of hose, probably in worse condition. She adhered, therefore, to the ills she knew.

All the afternoon the two ladies sat and sewed, till the eyes and fingers, and even the spirits of one of them, were weary. The sky since dinner had darkened; it had begun to rain again, to pour fast. Secret fears began to steal on Caroline that Robert would be persuaded by Mr. Sykes or Mr. Yorke to remain at Whinbury till it cleared, and of that there appeared no present chance. Five o'clock struck, and time stole on; still the clouds streamed. A sighing wind whispered in the roof-trees of the cottage; day seemed already closing; the parlour fire shed on the clear hearth a glow ruddy as at twilight.

"It will not be fair till the moon rises," pronounced Mademoiselle Moore, "consequently I feel assured that my brother will not return till then. Indeed I should be sorry if he did. We will have coffee. It would be vain to wait for him."

"I am tired. May I leave my work now, cousin?"

"You may, since it grows too dark to see to do it well. Fold it up; put it carefully in your bag; then step into the kitchen and desire Sarah to bring in the gouter, or tea, as you call it."

"But it has not yet struck six. He may still come."

"He will not, I tell you. I can calculate his movements. I understand my brother."

Suspense is irksome, disappointment bitter. All the world has, some time or other, felt that. Caroline, obedient to orders, passed into the kitchen. Sarah was making a dress for herself at the table.

"You are to bring in coffee," said the young lady in a spiritless tone; and then she leaned her arm and head against the kitchen mantelpiece, and hung listlessly over the fire.

"How low you seem, miss! But it's all because your cousin keeps you so close to work. It's a shame!"

"Nothing of the kind, Sarah," was the brief reply.

"Oh! but I know it is. You're fit to cry just this minute, for nothing else but because you've sat still the whole day. It would make a kitten dull to be mewed up so."

"Sarah, does your master often come home early from market when it is wet?"

"Never, hardly; but just to-day, for some reason, he has made a difference."

"What do you mean?"

"He is come. I am certain I saw Murgatroyd lead his horse into the yard by the back-way, when I went to get some water at the pump five minutes since. He was in the counting-house with Joe Scott, I believe."

"You are mistaken."

"What should I be mistaken for? I know his horse surely?"

"But you did not see himself?"

"I heard him speak, though. He was saying something to Joe Scott about having settled all concerning ways and means, and that there would be a new set of frames in the mill before another week passed, and that this time he would get four soldiers from Stilbro' barracks to guard the wagon."

"Sarah, are you making a gown?"

"Yes. Is it a handsome one?"

"Beautiful! Get the coffee ready. I'll finish cutting out that sleeve for you, and I'll give you some trimming for it. I have some narrow satin ribbon of a colour that will just match it."

"You're very kind, miss."

"Be quick; there's a good girl. But first put your master's shoes on the hearth: he will take his boots off when he comes in. I hear him; he is coming."

"Miss, you are cutting the stuff wrong."

"So I am; but it is only a snip. There is no harm done."

The kitchen door opened; Mr. Moore entered, very wet and cold. Caroline half turned from her dressmaking occupation, but renewed it for a moment, as if to gain a minute's time for some purpose. Bent over the dress, her face was hidden; there was an attempt to settle her features and veil their expression, which failed. When she at last met Mr. Moore, her countenance beamed.

"We had ceased to expect you. They asserted you would not come," she said.

"But I promised to return soon. You expected me, I suppose?"

"No, Robert; I dared not when it rained so fast. And you are wet and chilled. Change everything. If you took cold, I should—we should blame ourselves in some measure."

"I am not wet through: my riding-coat is waterproof. Dry shoes are all I require. There—the fire is pleasant after facing the cold wind and rain for a few miles."

He stood on the kitchen hearth; Caroline stood beside him. Mr. Moore, while enjoying the genial glow, kept his eyes directed towards the glittering brasses on the shelf above. Chancing for an instant to look down, his glance rested on an uplifted face, flushed, smiling, happy, shaded with silky curls, lit with fine eyes. Sarah was gone into the parlour with the tray; a lecture from her mistress detained her there. Moore placed his hand a moment on his young cousin's shoulder, stooped, and left a kiss on her forehead.

"Oh!" said she, as if the action had unsealed her lips, "I was miserable when I thought you would not come. I am almost too happy now. Are you happy, Robert? Do you like to come home?"

"I think I do—to-night, at least."

"Are you certain you are not fretting about your frames, and your business, and the war?"

"Not just now."

"Are you positive you don't feel Hollow's Cottage too small for you, and narrow, and dismal?"

"At this moment, no."

"Can you affirm that you are not bitter at heart because rich and great people forget you?"

"No more questions. You are mistaken if you think I am anxious to curry favour with rich and great people. I only want means—a position—a career."

"Which your own talent and goodness shall win you. You were made to be great; you shall be great."

"I wonder now, if you spoke honestly out of your heart, what recipe you would give me for acquiring this same greatness; but I know it—better than you know it yourself. Would it be efficacious? Would it work? Yes—poverty, misery, bankruptcy. Oh, life is not what you think it, Lina!"

"But you are what I think you."

"I am not."

"You are better, then?"

"Far worse."

"No; far better. I know you are good."

"How do you know it?"

"You look so, and I feel you are so."

"Where do you feel it?"

"In my heart."

"Ah! You judge me with your heart, Lina: you should judge me with your head."

"I do; and then I am quite proud of you. Robert, you cannot tell all my thoughts about you."

Mr. Moore's dark face mustered colour; his lips smiled, and yet were compressed; his eyes laughed, and yet he resolutely knit his brow.

"Think meanly of me, Lina," said he. "Men, in general, are a sort of scum, very different to anything of which you have an idea. I make no pretension to be better than my fellows."

"If you did, I should not esteem you so much. It is because you are modest that I have such confidence in your merit."

"Are you flattering me?" he demanded, turning sharply upon her, and searching her face with an eye of acute penetration.

"No," she said softly, laughing at his sudden quickness. She seemed to think it unnecessary to proffer any eager disavowal of the charge.

"You don't care whether I think you flatter me or not?"


"You are so secure of your own intentions?"

"I suppose so."

"What are they, Caroline?"

"Only to ease my mind by expressing for once part of what I think, and then to make you better satisfied with yourself."

"By assuring me that my kinswoman is my sincere friend?"

"Just so. I am your sincere friend, Robert."

"And I am—what chance and change shall make me, Lina."

"Not my enemy, however?"

The answer was cut short by Sarah and her mistress entering the kitchen together in some commotion. They had been improving the time which Mr. Moore and Miss Helstone had spent in dialogue by a short dispute on the subject of "cafe au lait," which Sarah said was the queerest mess she ever saw, and a waste of God's good gifts, as it was "the nature of coffee to be boiled in water," and which mademoiselle affirmed to be "un breuvage royal," a thousand times too good for the mean person who objected to it.

The former occupants of the kitchen now withdrew into the parlour. Before Hortense followed them thither, Caroline had only time again to question, "Not my enemy, Robert?" And Moore, Quaker-like, had replied with another query, "Could I be?" And then, seating himself at the table, had settled Caroline at his side.

Caroline scarcely heard mademoiselle's explosion of wrath when she rejoined them; the long declamation about the "conduite indigne de cette mechante creature" sounded in her ear as confusedly as the agitated rattling of the china. Robert laughed a little at it, in very subdued sort, and then, politely and calmly entreating his sister to be tranquil, assured her that if it would yield her any satisfaction, she should have her choice of an attendant amongst all the girls in his mill. Only he feared they would scarcely suit her, as they were most of them, he was informed, completely ignorant of household work; and pert and self-willed as Sarah was, she was, perhaps, no worse than the majority of the women of her class.

Mademoiselle admitted the truth of this conjecture: according to her, "ces paysannes anglaises etaient tout insupportables." What would she not give for some "bonne cuisiniere anversoise," with the high cap, short petticoat, and decent sabots proper to her class—something better, indeed, than an insolent coquette in a flounced gown, and absolutely without cap! (For Sarah, it appears, did not partake the opinion of St. Paul that "it is a shame for a woman to go with her head uncovered;" but, holding rather a contrary doctrine, resolutely refused to imprison in linen or muslin the plentiful tresses of her yellow hair, which it was her wont to fasten up smartly with a comb behind, and on Sundays to wear curled in front.)

"Shall I try and get you an Antwerp girl?" asked Mr. Moore, who, stern in public, was on the whole very kind in private.

"Merci du cadeau!" was the answer. "An Antwerp girl would not stay here ten days, sneered at as she would be by all the young coquines in your factory;" then softening, "You are very good, dear brother—excuse my petulance—but truly my domestic trials are severe, yet they are probably my destiny; for I recollect that our revered mother experienced similar sufferings, though she had the choice of all the best servants in Antwerp. Domestics are in all countries a spoiled and unruly set."

Mr. Moore had also certain reminiscences about the trials of his revered mother. A good mother she had been to him, and he honoured her memory; but he recollected that she kept a hot kitchen of it in Antwerp, just as his faithful sister did here in England. Thus, therefore, he let the subject drop, and when the coffee-service was removed, proceeded to console Hortense by fetching her music-book and guitar; and having arranged the ribbon of the instrument round her neck with a quiet fraternal kindness he knew to be all-powerful in soothing her most ruffled moods, he asked her to give him some of their mother's favourite songs.

Nothing refines like affection. Family jarring vulgarizes; family union elevates. Hortense, pleased with her brother, and grateful to him, looked, as she touched her guitar, almost graceful, almost handsome; her everyday fretful look was gone for a moment, and was replaced by a "sourire plein de bonte." She sang the songs he asked for, with feeling; they reminded her of a parent to whom she had been truly attached; they reminded her of her young days. She observed, too, that Caroline listened with naive interest; this augmented her good-humour; and the exclamation at the close of the song, "I wish I could sing and play like Hortense!" achieved the business, and rendered her charming for the evening.

It is true a little lecture to Caroline followed, on the vanity of wishing and the duty of trying. "As Rome," it was suggested, "had not been built in a day, so neither had Mademoiselle Gerard Moore's education been completed in a week, or by merely wishing to be clever. It was effort that had accomplished that great work. She was ever remarkable for her perseverance, for her industry. Her masters had remarked that it was as delightful as it was uncommon to find so much talent united with so much solidity, and so on." Once on the theme of her own merits, mademoiselle was fluent.

Cradled at last in blissful self-complacency, she took her knitting, and sat down tranquil. Drawn curtains, a clear fire, a softly-shining lamp, gave now to the little parlour its best, its evening charm. It is probable that the three there present felt this charm. They all looked happy.

"What shall we do now, Caroline?" asked Mr. Moore, returning to his seat beside his cousin.

"What shall we do, Robert?" repeated she playfully. "You decide."

"Not play at chess?"


"Nor draughts, nor backgammon?"

"No, no; we both hate silent games that only keep one's hands employed, don't we?"

"I believe we do. Then shall we talk scandal?"

"About whom? Are we sufficiently interested in anybody to take a pleasure in pulling their character to pieces?"

"A question that comes to the point. For my part, unamiable as it sounds, I must say no."

"And I too. But it is strange, though we want no third—fourth, I mean (she hastily and with contrition glanced at Hortense), living person among us—so selfish we are in our happiness—though we don't want to think of the present existing world, it would be pleasant to go back to the past, to hear people that have slept for generations in graves that are perhaps no longer graves now, but gardens and fields, speak to us and tell us their thoughts, and impart their ideas."

"Who shall be the speaker? What language shall he utter? French?"

"Your French forefathers don't speak so sweetly, nor so solemnly, nor so impressively as your English ancestors, Robert. To-night you shall be entirely English. You shall read an English book."

"An old English book?"

"Yes, an old English book—one that you like; and I will choose a part of it that is toned quite in harmony with something in you. It shall waken your nature, fill your mind with music; it shall pass like a skilful hand over your heart, and make its strings sound. Your heart is a lyre, Robert; but the lot of your life has not been a minstrel to sweep it, and it is often silent. Let glorious William come near and touch it. You will see how he will draw the English power and melody out of its chords."

"I must read Shakespeare?"

"You must have his spirit before you; you must hear his voice with your mind's ear; you must take some of his soul into yours."

"With a view to making me better? Is it to operate like a sermon?"

"It is to stir you, to give you new sensations. It is to make you feel your life strongly—not only your virtues, but your vicious, perverse points."

"Dieu! que dit-elle?" cried Hortense, who hitherto had been counting stitches in her knitting, and had not much attended to what was said, but whose ear these two strong words caught with a tweak.

"Never mind her, sister; let her talk. Now just let her say anything she pleases to-night. She likes to come down hard upon your brother sometimes. It amuses me, so let her alone."

Caroline, who, mounted on a chair, had been rummaging the bookcase, returned with a book.

"Here's Shakespeare," she said, "and there's 'Coriolanus.' Now, read, and discover by the feelings the reading will give you at once how low and how high you are."

"Come, then, sit near me, and correct when I mispronounce."

"I am to be the teacher then, and you my pupil?"

"Ainsi, soit-il!"

"And Shakespeare is our science, since we are going to study?"

"It appears so."

"And you are not going to be French, and sceptical, and sneering? You are not going to think it a sign of wisdom to refuse to admire?"

"I don't know."

"If you do, Robert, I'll take Shakespeare away; and I'll shrivel up within myself, and put on my bonnet and go home."

"Sit down. Here I begin."

"One minute, if you please, brother," interrupted mademoiselle. "When the gentleman of a family reads, the ladies should always sew.—Caroline, dear child, take your embroidery. You may get three sprigs done to-night."

Caroline looked dismayed. "I can't see by lamp-light; my eyes are tired, and I can't do two things well at once. If I sew, I cannot listen; if I listen, I cannot sew."

"Fi, donc! Quel enfantillage!" began Hortense. Mr. Moore, as usual, suavely interposed.

"Permit her to neglect the embroidery for this evening. I wish her whole attention to be fixed on my accent; and to ensure this, she must follow the reading with her eyes—she must look at the book."

He placed it between them, reposed his arm on the back of Caroline's chair, and thus began to read.

The very first scene in "Coriolanus" came with smart relish to his intellectual palate, and still as he read he warmed. He delivered the haughty speech of Caius Marcius to the starving citizens with unction; he did not say he thought his irrational pride right, but he seemed to feel it so. Caroline looked up at him with a singular smile.

"There's a vicious point hit already," she said. "You sympathize with that proud patrician who does not sympathize with his famished fellow-men, and insults them. There, go on." He proceeded. The warlike portions did not rouse him much; he said all that was out of date, or should be; the spirit displayed was barbarous; yet the encounter single-handed between Marcius and Tullus Aufidius he delighted in. As he advanced, he forgot to criticise; it was evident he appreciated the power, the truth of each portion; and, stepping out of the narrow line of private prejudices, began to revel in the large picture of human nature, to feel the reality stamped upon the characters who were speaking from that page before him.

He did not read the comic scenes well; and Caroline, taking the book out of his hand, read these parts for him. From her he seemed to enjoy them, and indeed she gave them with a spirit no one could have expected of her, with a pithy expression with which she seemed gifted on the spot, and for that brief moment only. It may be remarked, in passing, that the general character of her conversation that evening, whether serious or sprightly, grave or gay, was as of something untaught, unstudied, intuitive, fitful—when once gone, no more to be reproduced as it had been than the glancing ray of the meteor, than the tints of the dew-gem, than the colour or form of the sunset cloud, than the fleeting and glittering ripple varying the flow of a rivulet.

Coriolanus in glory, Coriolanus in disaster, Coriolanus banished, followed like giant shades one after the other. Before the vision of the banished man Moore's spirit seemed to pause. He stood on the hearth of Aufidius's hall, facing the image of greatness fallen, but greater than ever in that low estate. He saw "the grim appearance," the dark face "bearing command in it," "the noble vessel with its tackle torn." With the revenge of Caius Marcius, Moore perfectly sympathized; he was not scandalized by it; and again Caroline whispered, "There I see another glimpse of brotherhood in error."

The march on Rome, the mother's supplication, the long resistance, the final yielding of bad passions to good, which ever must be the case in a nature worthy the epithet of noble, the rage of Aufidius at what he considered his ally's weakness, the death of Coriolanus, the final sorrow of his great enemy—all scenes made of condensed truth and strength—came on in succession and carried with them in their deep, fast flow the heart and mind of reader and listener.

"Now, have you felt Shakespeare?" asked Caroline, some ten minutes after her cousin had closed the book.

"I think so."

"And have you felt anything in Coriolanus like you?"

"Perhaps I have."

"Was he not faulty as well as great?"

Moore nodded.

"And what was his fault? What made him hated by the citizens? What caused him to be banished by his countrymen?"

"What do you think it was?"

"I ask again—

'Whether was it pride, Which out of daily fortune ever taints The happy man? whether defect of judgment, To fail in the disposing of those chances Which he was lord of? or whether nature, Not to be other than one thing, not moving From the casque to the cushion, but commanding peace Even with the same austerity and garb As he controlled the war?'"

"Well, answer yourself, Sphinx."

"It was a spice of all; and you must not be proud to your workpeople; you must not neglect chances of soothing them; and you must not be of an inflexible nature, uttering a request as austerely as if it were a command."

"That is the moral you tack to the play. What puts such notions into your head?"

"A wish for your good, a care for your safety, dear Robert, and a fear, caused by many things which I have heard lately, that you will come to harm."

"Who tells you these things?"

"I hear my uncle talk about you. He praises your hard spirit, your determined cast of mind, your scorn of low enemies, your resolution not 'to truckle to the mob,' as he says."

"And would you have me truckle to them?"

"No, not for the world. I never wish you to lower yourself; but somehow I cannot help thinking it unjust to include all poor working-people under the general and insulting name of 'the mob,' and continually to think of them and treat them haughtily."

"You are a little democrat, Caroline. If your uncle knew, what would he say?"

"I rarely talk to my uncle, as you know, and never about such things. He thinks everything but sewing and cooking above women's comprehension, and out of their line."

"And do you fancy you comprehend the subjects on which you advise me?"

"As far as they concern you, I comprehend them. I know it would be better for you to be loved by your workpeople than to be hated by them, and I am sure that kindness is more likely to win their regard than pride. If you were proud and cold to me and Hortense, should we love you? When you are cold to me, as you are sometimes, can I venture to be affectionate in return?"

"Now, Lina, I've had my lesson both in languages and ethics, with a touch on politics; it is your turn. Hortense tells me you were much taken by a little piece of poetry you learned the other day, a piece by poor Andre Chenier—'La Jeune Captive.' Do you remember it still?"

"I think so."

"Repeat it, then. Take your time and mind your accent; especially let us have no English u's."

Caroline, beginning in a low, rather tremulous voice, but gaining courage as she proceeded, repeated the sweet verses of Chenier. The last three stanzas she rehearsed well.

"Mon beau voyage encore est si loin de sa fin! Je pars, et des ormeaux qui bordent le chemin J'ai passe le premiers a peine. Au banquet de la vie a peine commence, Un instant seulement mes levres ont presse La coupe en mes mains encore pleine.

"Je ne suis qu'au printemps—je veux voir la moisson; Et comme le soleil, de saison en saison, Je veux achever mon annee, Brillante sur ma tige, et l'honneur du jardin Je n'ai vu luire encore que les feux du matin, Je veux achever ma journee!"

Moore listened at first with his eyes cast down, but soon he furtively raised them. Leaning back in his chair he could watch Caroline without her perceiving where his gaze was fixed. Her cheek had a colour, her eyes a light, her countenance an expression this evening which would have made even plain features striking; but there was not the grievous defect of plainness to pardon in her case. The sunshine was not shed on rough barrenness; it fell on soft bloom. Each lineament was turned with grace; the whole aspect was pleasing. At the present moment—animated, interested, touched—she might be called beautiful. Such a face was calculated to awaken not only the calm sentiment of esteem, the distant one of admiration, but some feeling more tender, genial, intimate—friendship, perhaps, affection, interest. When she had finished, she turned to Moore, and met his eye.

"Is that pretty well repeated?" she inquired, smiling like any happy, docile child.

"I really don't know."

"Why don't you know? Have you not listened?"

"Yes—and looked. You are fond of poetry, Lina?"

"When I meet with real poetry, I cannot rest till I have learned it by heart, and so made it partly mine."

Mr. Moore now sat silent for several minutes. It struck nine o'clock. Sarah entered, and said that Mr. Helstone's servant was come for Miss Caroline.

"Then the evening is gone already," she observed, "and it will be long, I suppose, before I pass another here."

Hortense had been for some time nodding over her knitting; fallen into a doze now, she made no response to the remark.

"You would have no objection to come here oftener of an evening?" inquired Robert, as he took her folded mantle from the side-table, where it still lay, and carefully wrapped it round her.

"I like to come here; but I have no desire to be intrusive. I am not hinting to be asked; you must understand that."

"Oh! I understand thee, child. You sometimes lecture me for wishing to be rich, Lina; but if I were rich, you should live here always—at any rate, you should live with me wherever my habitation might be."

"That would be pleasant; and if you were poor—ever so poor—it would still be pleasant. Good-night, Robert."

"I promised to walk with you up to the rectory."

"I know you did; but I thought you had forgotten, and I hardly knew how to remind you, though I wished to do it. But would you like to go? It is a cold night, and as Fanny is come, there is no necessity——"

"Here is your muff; don't wake Hortense—come."

The half mile to the rectory was soon traversed. They parted in the garden without kiss, scarcely with a pressure of hands; yet Robert sent his cousin in excited and joyously troubled. He had been singularly kind to her that day—not in phrase, compliment, profession, but in manner, in look, and in soft and friendly tones.

For himself, he came home grave, almost morose. As he stood leaning on his own yard-gate, musing in the watery moonlight all alone, the hushed, dark mill before him, the hill-environed hollow round, he exclaimed, abruptly,—

"This won't do! There's weakness—there's downright ruin in all this. However," he added, dropping his voice, "the frenzy is quite temporary. I know it very well; I have had it before. It will be gone to-morrow."


The Curates at Tea.

Caroline Helstone was just eighteen years old, and at eighteen the true narrative of life is yet to be commenced. Before that time we sit listening to a tale, a marvellous fiction, delightful sometimes, and sad sometimes, almost always unreal. Before that time our world is heroic, its inhabitants half-divine or semi-demon; its scenes are dream-scenes; darker woods and stranger hills, brighter skies, more dangerous waters, sweeter flowers, more tempting fruits, wider plains, drearier deserts, sunnier fields than are found in nature, overspread our enchanted globe. What a moon we gaze on before that time! How the trembling of our hearts at her aspect bears witness to its unutterable beauty! As to our sun, it is a burning heaven—the world of gods.

At that time, at eighteen, drawing near the confines of illusive, void dreams, Elf-land lies behind us, the shores of Reality rise in front. These shores are yet distant; they look so blue, soft, gentle, we long to reach them. In sunshine we see a greenness beneath the azure, as of spring meadows; we catch glimpses of silver lines, and imagine the roll of living waters. Could we but reach this land, we think to hunger and thirst no more; whereas many a wilderness, and often the flood of death, or some stream of sorrow as cold and almost as black as death, is to be crossed ere true bliss can be tasted. Every joy that life gives must be earned ere it is secured; and how hardly earned, those only know who have wrestled for great prizes. The heart's blood must gem with red beads the brow of the combatant, before the wreath of victory rustles over it.

At eighteen we are not aware of this. Hope, when she smiles on us, and promises happiness to-morrow, is implicitly believed; Love, when he comes wandering like a lost angel to our door, is at once admitted, welcomed, embraced. His quiver is not seen; if his arrows penetrate, their wound is like a thrill of new life. There are no fears of poison, none of the barb which no leech's hand can extract. That perilous passion—an agony ever in some of its phases; with many, an agony throughout—is believed to be an unqualified good. In short, at eighteen the school of experience is to be entered, and her humbling, crushing, grinding, but yet purifying and invigorating lessons are yet to be learned.

Alas, Experience! No other mentor has so wasted and frozen a face as yours, none wears a robe so black, none bears a rod so heavy, none with hand so inexorable draws the novice so sternly to his task, and forces him with authority so resistless to its acquirement. It is by your instructions alone that man or woman can ever find a safe track through life's wilds; without it, how they stumble, how they stray! On what forbidden grounds do they intrude, down what dread declivities are they hurled!

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