Page images
PDF
EPUB

been passing visitors, acquaintances, tween a mother and even the kindforeigners and English, met and est aunt; henceforward, at any rate, dropped; and although the relation their lives must run apart. Her between her aunt and herself had father, on the other hand, had so far been based on mutual love and affec- been a sort of shadowy providence tion, her heart could not but whisper watching over her from a distance, when the former announced her whose manifestations were mainly coming change of life, involving a associated with punctual remittances, new and absorbing interest of her handsome presents, and brief, infreown, apart from her niece, that after quent letters; and whose very form all there must be a difference be- and features were as yet unknown.

CHAPTER XV.

So much as to the antecedents of dust and fatigue of the journey could the maiden who had arrived at Mus- not do much to impair the charm of taphabad at the opening of our story, her appearance; and as she stepped fancy free, although with two more out of the carriage at the roadside or less dim ideals of the hero type station, whither he had gone to meet in her imagination, looking with her, as already described, her father eagerness, but without much emo- found her even more graceful and tion, to the meeting with her father. beautiful than the forerunning acAs to Mr Cunningham, he was a counts had led him to expect; and man too much occupied with official as Olivia, putting her arms round duties and the business of the hour his neck, and kissing him, said, “So to practise mental analysis ; but here we are at last ! it has been such probably his feelings on the occasion a long journey;" and then, turnwere of a mixed nature, compound- ing to her maid who was alighting ed of a pleasurable excitement at the from the carriage behind, added, expectation of greeting his beautiful “Justine, this is my papa, who has young daughter, and a sense of dis- . come all this way to meet us,”—Cunmay at the prospect of this invasion ningham felt that the scene of which of his leisure and enforced alteration he had been in dread had been escapof his old-bachelor habits.

ed. And when, soon after they had The first meeting between two started in the camel-carriage for the persons who, though nearly related, last stage of her long journey, Olivia are yet virtually strangers, ignorant took his hand fondly, and leaning of each other's thoughts, feelings, on his shoulder, said, “ Papa, you and tastes, even of each other's past look so young, it must seem quite life-whose intercourse has consisted odd to have a great big daughter in the exchange of brief and formal like me,”—her father

, responding letters, and who have had, so far, warmly to the embrace, began to nothing in common but the interest feel that it was not so dreadful a and the affection born of a sense of thing to have his daughter back duty-must needs be attended with after all. Arrived at Mustaphabad, more or less of restraint and embar Olivia expressed herself as delighted rassment; but Mr Cunningham's with the Residency and all about it. anxiety lest the first greetings should The apartments which her aunt partake of the nature of a scene was had at Florence were very large at once dispelled by the tact and and fine, but they were nothing like good taste of his daughter; even the the reception - rooms at the Residency—while her own rooms were house for luncheon, and even went charming; every want and comfort the length of taking an occasional had been thought of and provided, evening drive with Olivia in the and her father was able to say with new barouche which had arrived for satisfaction that all this had been her use, a mode of amusement which newly arranged for her especial no one had ever seen him indulge benefit. She was equally pleased in before. with the gardens; the leaves in mid- Such, then, was Olivia's new home, winter, the multitude of squirrels which, if it offered nothing that was and strange birds, even the familiar not in unison with her gentle discrows hopping about the edge of so- position, yet was not of a sort to ciety with a view to pick up the stray develop the warmer feelings of her crumbs left at the early breakfast nature. Her life had been so far a taken in the veranda—allthese novel. happy one; she had never known ties appeared full of interest for her, disappointment or sorrow, and so it and her father experienced a sense of continued to be; but it was a life deep relief to find that his fears bad of chastened affection and without been groundless lest she should prove sentiment; and at an age when to be a fine lady, spoilt for Indian most English girls in India are life by foreign travel. A silent man wives and mothers, the great rohimself, and restrained from express- mance of life had not even yet preing much interest in her former sented itself. With her, life had life by a sense of indignation at been made up of the study of art what he considered his sister's mis- and the pursuit of amusement in alliance, his shyness was soon dis- sober fashion; the graces more than sipated by his daughter's sympa- the affections had been cultivated ; thetic ways, as she thus rapidly and so far the transfer to an Indian identified herself with his interests home had not caused a change. and her new home. The Commis- The relations between father and sioner soon found that the cheerful daughter were those of mutual rebreakfast - table with his daughter spect and calm affection; and a opposite to him was a great improve- looker-on might have said that Miss ment on the solitary meal, dawdled Cunningham's disposition was one over with a book, to which he had in which the effect of amiable temper been accustomed; still more when on was enhanced by polished manner, his proposing to retire into another rather than one of deep feeling. room before lighting his cigar after- Once only did her father step out of wards, Olivia insisted on his smok- his usual reserve; one day when ing without rising. The obligatory his daughter was in his room standdinner-parties which he used to ing over him while he wrote a letter, dread seemed no longer the same he unlocked a drawer of his writingdreary infliction. With his beau- table and took out a little picturetiful daughter acting as hostess, frame. “You may like to see that, these solemn ordeals became com- my dear," he said, with face still paratively lively; the guests no turned downwards on his letter, and longer appeared to be insufferably put it into her hands. It was the bored. The morning ride too, with portrait of her mother, a poorly-exher for a companion, was in pleasing ecuted affair in the stiff drawing of contrast to the lonely ramble on a native artist, but giving the imhorseback to which he had been pression of being a faithful likeness. accustomed; he now got into the You are the very image of her,” he way of coming over from the court- said, after a short pause, in a low voice, while Olivia stood looking cleared up? So honourable a man silently at the portrait, and then as my cousin Ruperttaking the case from her hands “ You are begging the question, put it back again in the drawer. Olivia. It is because I don't think Olivia stooped down and kissed your cousin Rupert is an honourable him on the forehead : he went man that our intimacy is broken off. on with his writing, and she left You seem to think I have been the room.

hard on him," continued her father, On one occasion only did her seeing that Olivia looked unconfather show much animation on vinced; “but I think you may give domestic matters. It happened a me credit for not having formed few days after she arrived. They my opinion lightly. And if,” he were just rising from the breakfast- added in a lower voice, and turntable, and Justine, who always took ing away, “I am to suppose that that meal with them, had left the he has taken advantage of your room, when Olivia said, “I have trustfulness to create a feeling for had a letter this morning from him which he knows I should discousin Rupert, papa."

approve, I should think still less “Cousin Rupert !" said her father, favourably of him than I do alwith surprise ; “what do you know ready.” of cousin Rupert ?” laying emphasis “Then, papa," said Olivia, lookon the cousin.

ing down and blushing slightly, as “Why, papa, of course I know he was moving from the room,“ do him very well ; don't you remember you wish me not to send any that he came to Venice on his way answer to this?" and she held out home, when my aunt and I were the letter in her hand. “Will you staying there, and that you wrote not read it yourself, and see what to us about him?"

he says ?” “True," replied the father, "I “No, my dear, thank you; I had forgotten that for the moment; have no wish to see it, nor to dicbut things have altered since then. tate to you what you should do in I certainly did not think he would regard to it. I am sure I

may rely venture to write to you after what implicitly on your good sense and has happened. But it is just like judgment in this as in all matters." him.”

And so saying, her father left the " What has happened, papa? room. Poor fellow ! he speaks of being in Thus appealed to, Olivia had trouble, but does not say what is virtually no choice, and her cousin's the cause of it.”

letter remained unanswered; but it “I would rather not go into the was with a sad heart that she tried story, my dear. It is a long busi- to reconcile her duty to her father's ness, and not a very pleasant one, wishes with this neglect of her relawhere relationship is concerned ; tive, and the struggle might have but I have given up all communi- betrayed to herself the degree of cation with him. However, it does interest with which he had innot appear that he has acquainted spired her. Till this time she you with the fact;" and Mr Cun- had hardly been sensible how ningham spoke in a sarcastic tone, much of the pleasurable anticiunlike his usual manner.

pations with which she had set “But, papa," said Olivia, after out for India had been due to the a pause, may there not be some prospect of meeting her cousin. misunderstanding which could be And now to think that Rupert, who had always seemed in her young especially with those whose good imagination the type of the noble, opinion I value most. It is a slanhonourable soldier, should be as derous world, and I hope my cousin one whose name even was hardly will not listen to the evil tales she to be spoken of. Some dreadful may hear of one whose fault it has fault he must have committed for been to make enemies of those who her father, usually so kind, to be can't bear that a younger man thus sternly disposed towards him. should understand his profession Might it not be, however, that he better than they do, and who values had been misjudged ? He said he her good opinion before everyhad enemies who were bent on tra- thing else. I hope you will meet ducing his character. There must our mutual friend Colonel Falkland be some mistake! And yet her before long. He at any rate is the father spoke so positively, and he soul of honour; and, standing well seemed kind and just in everything with him, who knows the facts of else. Thinking sadly over this, the case, I can afford to despise the Olivia strove to stifle the romantic slanders of those who repeat the scaninterest with which her cousin had dals at second-hand of things they inspired her; and what might read- know nothing about. ily have become a warmer feeling, “This is an egotistical letter, but if opportunity had been propitious, if I began writing about Olivia herwas now succeeded by a sentiment self, I should never know when to of pity.

stop asking questions. She will, I The unanswered letter was as hope, anticipate my anxiety on this follows:

head, by giving me full particulars

about herself, whenever she can find “MY DEAR COUSIN,—It is so long time to devote a few minutes to her since any letters have passed be- old friend and relative. tween us, that I ought not to be “Pray give my remembrances to surprised if you did not recognise your father, if he cares to receive the handwriting of this one. Not them, and believe me, my dear that I judge by my own feelings in Olivia, always your affectionate this respect, for I don't think I cousin,

RUPERT KIRKE." should fail to know yours wherever I might come across it; but we Then came the recognition at the have both passed through many ball, when Kirke wanted to make his scenes since we met at Venice, and way towards Olivia, and her father although my memory naturally stopped him. To Olivia, witnessing clings to those pleasant hours, I the scene, there came up a reproach could scarcely complain if you had from her conscience that she was forgotten them, especially as you failing in her duty to her cousin ; a were so much younger then-quite sense of wrong done in thus abandona girl, in fact ! I suppose you must ing him replaced for the moment the be a good deal altered—young peo- feeling, till then uppermost, that he ple do change fast, don't they was an unhappy man who was to be but at any rate it can be only in pitied for his fall through some unone direction. I wish I knew when speakable crime, and she thought there would be a chance of my with a penitent heart that she had being able to renew our acquaint- been cowardly in not asking Colonel ance; but I have been in some Falkland's aid on her cousin's behalf. trouble lately, and want to put The latter had spoken of Falkland myself right first with the world, as the one friend who still stood by him, and believed in his innocence. proper time go by for the only apTo him she would appeal to set her peal he ought to have insisted on. unfortunate cousin right.

My own opinion would have been These reflections, and no response for letting time have its effect, now to the emotion which had stirred that it is too late to demand a courtpoor Yorke's heart to its depths, martial; but I did not say anything as the foolish young fellow had to dissuade him from making this fondly imagined, occupied Olivia's personal appeal at once." thoughts before she fell asleep on “Oh, Colonel Falkland, broke the night of the ball; and the in Olivia, eagerly,“ do say that opportunity for carrying out her you do not think so hardly of my purpose soon arrived. She meant cousin as papa does. He values to speak to Falkland during the your good opinion above everyday, after her father had gone to thing, I know. It does seem a his court; but the subject came up dreadful thing for the poor fellow at breakfast, being opened by Falk- to be cast off even by his friends in land himself, who said, addressing his troubles." the Commissioner, just as Justine Falkland looked with surprise was quitting the room after de- at the fair speaker, as she waited spatching her share of the meal, “I anxiously for his answer, for he did forgot to mention that I had a letter not know till then that she had from your cousin, Rupert Kirke, thought at all about the matter. yesterday. He is coming to Mus- Then he said gravely, but with a taphabad immediately."

kind smile“ He has arrived,” replied Mr

“ Your cousin has been very careCunningham, coldly; “I thought less, no doubt, and there have been you must have seen him at the ball irregularities in this business which last night."

ought not to have occurred, and Falkland looked surprised and which no doubt bear a very unas if awaiting further explanation, favourable appearance; but I should while Olivia with changed colour think much worse of human nature sat expectant. Her father, after a than I do if I could believe that so slight pause, went on, “ He left the gallant a soldier as Rupert Kirke room at my instance, I believe. I were guilty of anything positively said to him that as I had declined dishonourable.” to have any further intimacy or “Oh, thank you for saying that !” communication with him, it would cried Olivia, with fervour. “ But be better that he should not renew why is it that he cannot get jushis acquaintance with Olivia ; and I tice, poor fellow? Is there no way must say so much for him that he in which he can set himself right had the good taste to act on my ad- with the world ?" vice. But what brought him here “A very sensible question, my I don't understand, knowing my dear, although you know nothing sentiments."

about the matter," observed her “He comes to Mustapha bad to father, lighting his cigar, which a see the great man, while his camp servant had just brought, and is here, with a view to getting his looking up at the ceiling as he case reopened.”

leant back in his chair. “Did you advise the attempt, he had the means of clearing knowing the facts of his case ?” himself, no doubt, by demanding a

“I cannot say that I actually ad- court-martial. If he was so highly vised him to do so; he had let the honourable a man, and had nothing

“ Yes,

« PreviousContinue »