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What of the Night ? 317.
Richelieu and La Rochelle, 431.
Bramley's Sermons on Justification,
“ Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey,
Rape of the Lock.
SUMMER and autumn had come and gone, and Dulcibella Erle was still keeping house for her three sisters in Church Street. Dorothea, Charlie, and George were now added to the little household for their various Christmas vacations, but Friedeswide remained at Paris, where she was becoming deeply interested in the hard mental and bodily work demanded from her by this preparation, in the hardest of all medical schools, for her future profession.
George had done himself real credit at Cambridge, and taken a better degree than any one but himself had dared hope for him ; and there was also lying at the bottom of his portmanteau, still unpacked, and still unshown,-and, but for the papers, unknown,—the good conduct cup of his college for the length of his university career. He was now mentally debating whether or not to accept a very remunerative offer to act travelling companion, rather than tutor, to an overgrown young nephew of George Saville's, ordered abroad, instead of returning to Eton, for the rest of the winter. His own wish had originally been to spend the last three months before bis ordination working as lay
helper, serving his apprenticeship, as it were, at Burnt Ash, if not in one of the overgrown and under-manned parishes near Arthur's home. But he had observed that Dulcibella had seemed pleased at Mrs. Henry Cowper's offer, and, to his surprise, scarcely to kindle at his idea of East London work; and, to-day, had determined to consult her upon the two alternative modes of spending the first weeks of his life which had really fallen to his own disposal, and so, after the early dinner, asked her to spare him ten minutes in the study.
“I feel I ought not any longer to delay my answer,” was the conclusion of his little speech. And if he had in the course of it shown the bias of his own mind, it was unconsciously.
“May I say what I think you really need ?" answered Dulcibella, after a scarcely perceptible pause. “Play, not work. And that enlargement of your mind and faculties by travel,—and equal intercourse with your non-clerical fellow-men, - will, really, be better fitting you for your future life than actual drudgery at the East End. As to Burnt Ash,—I would not go near Brayscombe as a worker, were I you, until you go back to the dear place as its Rector ; your mistakes made, and experience gained, elsewhere.
George looked into her honest and affectionate eyes a little wistfully, but submitted to a judgment upon which he was learning, unconsciously, day by day, more and more to rely.
“Young Cowper's nothing but an overgrown boater and cricketer, with no more brains than his uncle, and yet none of his tastes! Much he'll care for the antiquities his poor mother wishes him to see by the way. I'd far rather go alone, if at all," was his thought, but unspoken.
He could afford to go alone; and, if Dulcibella really wished bim to travel, such alternative sprang up for a moment as a blessed release from this compulsory companionship. Then it struck him that if he could not give his work and time, he might his earnings, to some of the philanthropic objects which Arthur was striving to effect, so cramped in the working of the machinery of all his “Thrift” and “Self-Help” Societies by scantiness of means. It would be but the fair, and, in point of fact, only possible compensation to the eldest brother for all the trouble and inconveniences, and unavoidable minor expenses, his promise to act deputy guardian in his place must entail upon him if accepted. Yet it seemed to George a poor thing to offer only money to such work. Here was Amabel literally toiling amongst the drinking laundresses of Notting Hill; and become a total abstainer, if unpledged, because finding only thus could she really work with any possibility of success among them. Dulcibella devoting two days a week to Stepney herself, though she would not let him go there: one to secular work in the “ School Cookery,” where she was now making and trying to demonstrate and bring home to the people the benefit of wheatmeal bread. Another, holding a “Mothers' meeting," and visiting a list of sick and aged given her by the Mission curate, Kathleen not infrequently her fellow-worker. But, in any case, Amabel always made these Tuesdays and Fridays her own home days, so that Molly should never be left alone; and no old friend, not even Diana, ever call to find no one whom they considered a “ Miss Erle" at home.
“Don't overwork yourself, Dulcie, if I do go right away. I am not sure that I ought to go so entirely beyond reach,” were George's words when he did speak.
Hardly more so in these days of constant posts and telegrams than Cambridge! And I hope the next three months will be like the peaceful and uninteresting times of Hume, Gibbon, or Froude—without a history," and she smiled, " so that we shall not really add in any way to Arthur's work or worries." " I think
you look better than when you came here,” he continued, doubtfully.
"I certainly feel so; and that we have much to be thankful for-in peaceful homes and happy days.'-I dare say some day we shall look back upon this year as a very pleasant part of our lives, --with a sober, chastened pleasantness, I mean. Perhaps, for the honour of my sex, I am proud to think that there has never been one quarrel, one bitter word within these walls, although we four women have been so much alone.”
“Well, the three best tempered of the family were left you. as juniors.” • Yes, and I give them every
credit. They have not been a bit of trouble, and Dorothea has come home determined,—and very successfully, isn't it, George ?-to be really good' this time."
“ Yes, for the few days that we have as yet been at home together," and he smiled, because even in this short time he had seen what an effort it had been to the girl to keep her promise. Also, she was truly so pleasant to look at, and to remember that, now his mind and heart were freer, even he could not look
saucinesses without a sense of amused satisfaction.
“Miss Meyrick's lease is up at Midsummer,” said Dulcibella, "we must in a few weeks make up our minds what we do then. If you take a country curacy -"
“Will it be my duty in that case to have you all ? If so I'll . lump it !-- You alone would be different,--but-'
“No, keep your freedom! I am sure that you have earned it ! - I could have wished that the lease had lasted one year longer, then Brayscombe would have been our own again.-As it is, we cannot take a fresh lease, for seven years hence, where may any one of us be living ? and the premium asked is so enormous.”
“ Yet one would say how Church Street has sunk in the world the last few years !” and he looked across the road, eastward, to the blank dirty wall, always an eyesore to his orderly mind.
“Dorothea will be home for good then, and to be considered, -her real good, I mean ;-and Amabel, we must hope, gone."
“ Where will her home be, I wonder.”
“I have no idea ; they will have all the world before them where to choose should he follow out his present intention and really retire from the service. And he is fifteen years her senior, so nearly forty-five. If he is wise he will take her abroad and let her grow young again, idle and beloved."
“ It seems to me rather a risk to marry a woman one hasn't seen for five years, and didn't know so very much of before," mused George, seriously. “I hope they will be happy!” “But don't expect it? I do! Each is a nature to be known at
True to the core; no unexpected depths nor shallows to cause future delights or miseries. Duty' contents both; each takes 'duty' as it comes to them.—He has been a hero—she a martyr—for full five years, but neither knows it of him or herself, hardly suspects it of the other."
"The Admiralty behaved very badly in sending him off there at all, eh? So Saville was saying the other night; and that it always did to those who it knew wouldn't turn and rend them,-even expose them, -at whatever provocation. It wasn't, in Lawson's case couldn't,for he'd plenty of friends and means. Well! it's not a profession with which I've any sympathy; but if these two can meet, after these five dreary years, and be contented with each other—"
“You don't think either would say it if they weren't !” cried Dulcibella, with some impatience.