« PreviousContinue »
for ever a doubt! No weapon should be listed against him, that must needs fall most heavily upon Carice !
It was grey dawn when this conclusion was reached. The stars were fading from the sky, as a hint that it was time to extinguish his lamp. The east showed a broad rim of light,-only a silver one now, but with some mystic intimation of the gold to which it would soon be transmuted. Was any similar change beginning to show itself in Bergan's heart?
If so, he was in nowise conscious of it. His mind having attained to a comparative degree of composure, his body began to press its claims upon him with some pertinacity. It was twenty-four hours since he had taken food, and nearly double that time since he had slept ; this, too, on the end of a long, tedious journey, and while undergoing sore anxiety and distress of mind. No wonder that his head was aching furiously at the temples, and seemed to have a ponderous weight on top, nor that he had a sensation of dizziness at times, while a blinding mist came before his eyes.
He prepared to leave Bergan Hall. That, too, was to be henceforth, so far as he was concerned, a thing of the past. It had given him needful solitude and shelter in his hour of deep despair ; it had been the fittest possible place wherein to take leave of the old life and its shattered hope; but for the new, it had nothing to offer except, perhaps, a warning. The stream of active, expansive, beneficent life must for ever flow away from its faded splendour, its crumbling massiveness, its dusty traditions and aristocratic genealogies, and its corrupt feudal laws and customs, as well as from that moral ruin, its selfish, tyrannic, besotted master. Together, they might well be likened to a half-buried, decomposing corpse ; showing still, through the overspreading mould and fungi, some faint trace of its former grace and nobility of shape and feature, but chiefly impressing the spectator with the carelessness of its exposure and the unsightliness of its decay. And
yet, how strong a hold, after all, had both master and mansion upon his heart! Some time, surely, when he should have won fame and fortune enough to be above all suspicion of self-seeking, he might come back to visit them, and see what could be done for both.
With this thought in his mind, he was about to quit the room as he had entered it, by the window, when a light knock on the door arrested his attention. Almost immediately, Rue entered, and bade him good morning.
“How did you know I was here?” was Bergan's first startled inquiry.
“I heard you when you came,” she answered, quietly, "and I knew your step. I always spend this night in the old house; it is the anniversary of your mother's wedding; and she comes back to me in all her youth and beauty, and the rooms light up, and flowers sweeten the air, and there is music and dancing, and the sound of gay young voices; and then, all goes out, and I remember that earth grows dim as heaven draws near. Yes, Master
Bergan, I heard you when you came, and I should have come to you at once, only that there was something in your step which told me you came with a heavy heart, and would not like to be disturbed. It is lighter now ? '
“A little, Maumer; though it is heavy enough yet."
“And nothing will lighten it but time; and that means the Lord, for time is the Lord's servant, and does His will."
“You know, then-" began Bergan, and stopped, unable to finish the sentence. “I know much, Master Bergan; more than you
think. Many voices come to whisper in the old blind woman's. ear.”
“Do you know," asked Bergan, suddenly, “ why Doctor Remy has married Carice?"
Certainly: to make himself master of Bergan Hall.. The more fool he! Rue could have told him it was written on the stars that it should have another and a better master; and the stars do not lie.
But I am sorry for Miss Carice; I would have saved her if I could, but there the stars were silent."
“ I could have helped the stars in that matter, if I had known," thought Bergan. But he only asked, doubtfully, “How should Doctor Remy expect to get the Hall by marrying Carice?"
“Because your Uncle Harry has made his will, giving it to her. Never doubt me, Master Bergan, I know what I am talking of; and when I tell you that you shall yet own Bergan Hall, and all the gold that is hidden in it, and every foot of land that belongs to it, you may
believe it as implicitly as if it were written in
your Bible.” Bergan shook his head; the Hall had ceased to have any value in his eyes, as a possession of his own, or any place in the future that he proposed to himself. Apparently, Rue understood his silence as well as if he had spoken, for she did not press the subject.
She next inquired into his plans, and he explained them to her, as far as they concerned himself.
“It is well,” she said, after a moment of reflection. “You could not stay here, of course ; you would be eating your heart out in this dull place. Do your duty in the path that lies so straight before you, and trust God for the rest."
As he quitted the old Hall it occurred to him how strangely events were repeating themselves. Once more, Rue stood in the doorway, in the grey light of the dawn and promised him its future ownership; once more, he took the road to Berganton, leaving behind him one phase of his life, and entering upon a new one.
Arrived at the hotel, he learned that the horse, which he had left at Oakstead on the previous evening had been sent to the stables, with strict injunctions that he should be notified accordingly immediately on his arrival-the friendly act, no doubt, of old Bruno.
Here, too, he first learned the absence of Mrs. Lyte and her family-a piece of information which he received with much unmistakable surprise and wonder, that the
landlord, who, like most of the Berganton folk, had suspected him of some connection with their departure, was constrained to believe him innocent.
There being now nothing to detain him in Berganton, he ordered his horse for an immediate return to Savalia. First, however, he went to the breakfast-room, but found that he was unable to eat; food was like ashes in his mouth; the most that he could do was to swallow a cup of coffee.
That ride to Savalla remained always a horrible nightmare in his memory. Sometimes he was riding through the darkness of infinite space; sometimes through whirling trees, over a road heaving as with the throes of an earthquake, and seemingly interminable. Now and then, his senses seemed slipping entirely from his grasp, and were only dragged back by the convulsive effort of an iron will. Reaching the office of the Pulaski House, where he was well known, he just managed to hold them together long enough to scratch a few lines on a sheet of paper, and give directions for its delivery. Then, with a wan smile of relief, he relaxed his hold, and let them slide swiftly away into oblivion.
Two days later, Doctor Trubie, arriving at the same hotel, according to previous agreement, was met by the information that Mr. Arling was lying dangerously ill with that fever which guards, like a flaming sword, the gates of the sunny South ; and the letter was put into his hands. Tearing it open, he read :
“I charge you, by everything that is sacred, to take no further step in the business that brings you here, until I recover, and we can consult together; and, if I die, I charge you, as you would have me rest quietly in my grave, to take none at all.
“ BERGAN." Doctor Trubie flung down the letter with a most disgusted face. “To think that Roath should escape me thus !” he exclaimed, discontentedly. "That is, to be sure, if Bergan does not recover. He shall recover !”
Upstairs he sprang, two steps at a time. But, once in Bergan's chamber, his heart failed him. The patient lay in a stupor that seemed very near of kin to death. Two physicians stood by the bed, and the first words that met his ear were, “ No hope !
ward. The laws of moral perspective, though they do not change, will be better understood; so that objects at a distance are no longer dwarfed to the understanding, however they may appear to the eye. Character becomes the central “point of sight,” toward which duty continually draws converging right lines, by the aid of which happiness, fame, and wealth fall into their proper places, and assume their true proportions.
Bergan Arling was seated in his office at Savalla. At first sight it might seem that he was little changed, but a closer inspection would have awakened some surprise that the lapse of little more than a year could have changed him so much. The youthfulness had gone out of his face—that half-eager, half-wistful look, which says so plainly, “The world is all before me, where to choose;" — it was now the face of a man among men, who had found his place and his work, who had grappled with many hard problems, and solved some; who was accustomed to deal with serious subjects in a serious way, and who had withal a definite rule and object of life. In short, it was informed with a positive and noble individuality, born out of suffering, and not yet wholly oblivious of the pangs that had given it birth, but certain, in good time, to attain to the fulness of an inward joy, which, having a deep well-spring of its own, would be little dependent upon the ebb and flow of outward circumstance.
Nor had the year been fruitless of exterior results. Scarcely had Bergan mastered the details of his new office, when his partner, Mr. Youle, was taken sick, and he was left to conduct its affairs pretty much alone. Several cases of importance being in hand, he was thus afforded a rare opportunity to achieve a rapid fame. His reputation already overshadowed that of many of his legal brethren, who had greatly the advantage of him in years and ex. perience.
From the first, he had made it an invariable rule never to speak against his clear convictions of right; and it was curious to observe what an influence the knowledge of this fact was beginning to have upon the community. The cause which he embraced, however hopeless its aspect, always commanded a degree of respect, and was watched with a certain reservation of judgment, in consideration of his acknowledged integrity of purpose ; while, as a necessary sequence (from which Bergan, in his humility, would have been glad to escape), the cause which he was understood to have declined was apt to be pronounced suspicious in the popular judgment, however it might go in the courts. So certain is the talent which is known to be conjoined with a pure aim and an upright life, to win, soon or late, high place and strong influence, even in a world that disallows its very principle of being! The visible fruits of righteousness commend themselves to all lips, whatever is thought of the root from whence they spring
Bergan's desk was littered with papers, but his eyes were studying only the opposite wall, half in abstraction, half in perplexity. Nor did their expression alter much
PART FOUR TH.
A New FIELD.
RECOVERED. Rarely does a man go down to the verge of the grave, and look into its profound and pregnant depths, without carrying from henceforth traces of the journey. His views of life will be truer, if not sadder, for ever after
“I do not expect it," answered Bergan, seriously. “Errors in judgment, I take it for granted that I shall make, being mortal; but errors in will, I mean to do my best, with God's help, to avoid."
A plain carriage, with a trim African on the box, was in waiting when the two gentlemen descended the court-house steps.
Come, Arling,” said Mr. Youle, in a tone of command rather than invitation, “go home and dine with me; there are several things I want to talk to you about."
Bergan hesitated; it was easy to see that the plan did not commend itself to his taste.
“Never rack your brain for excuses; they won't serve,” pursued Mr. Youle, with good-natured peremptoriness; “I mean to take you with me, whether you will or no.
It is time for you to overcome your morbid dislike of society; besides, you will see no one but my own family.''
when the door opened, and he rose to greet Mr. Youle, who came in slowly and feebly, leaning on a cane. He was of medium height, with grey hair, a thin face, and a kindly blue eye; and it was easy to see, was on the best of terms with his talented young partner. No room in that ripe intellect and gentle nature for so ignoble a passion as jealousy!
“There, that will do, Arling," he said, humorously, when Bergan had helped him carefully to a chair ; “the old gentleman is as comfortable as he's likely to be -or deserves to be, for that matter. Well, how goes on our case?"
Bergan shook his head, with a faint smile. “ Very badly, I should say—if anything can be said to go badly which is so entirely in the hands of Providence. I confess that I can make nothing of it.”
Mr. Youle looked i grave. “I warned you in the beginning,” said he, “ that there was not a reasonable peg to hang a line of defence on.”
“But I believe the man to be innocent,” rejoined Bergan. “ And,” he added, smiling, “I warned you, in the beginning, that I should never advocate a cause which seemed to be unrighteous, nor refuse one that seemed to be just, though the one should offer me a fortune in fees, and the other not a cent.” “Yes, yes, I know,' replied Mr. Youle.
“ And I must admit that your two rules have worked miraculously well thus far; we have lost but one case, I believe, since you came into the office. Well," exclaimed Mr. Youle, when he and Bergan had finally succeeded in escaping from the congratulations of friends on the issue of a trial in which the acuteness and earnestness of Bergan had secured the acquittal of an innocent man, “I must say, I never saw such a sudden turn of events as that, in all my legal experience.” And after a moment he added, with unusual gravity, “ It does seem as if the blessing of God were with you and your two rules, Arling."
“I hope so," rejoined Bergan, quietly, "for I have learned that I can do nothing worth doing without it."
“ I really think,” mused Mr. Youle, “ if I were to live my life over again, I would adopt your plan. I am afraid that I have helped to save many a scoundrel from deserved punishment, as well as to rob an honest man, now and then, of his just rights; and when one comes to look back on it all, from the stand-point of my age, it does seem as if one might have been in better business. Yes, I believe you are right, Arling; and you have my cordial consent from this time forth, to keep on as you have begun. I confess I thought it was a freak, a whim, at first, that would soon give way to the temptations what we usually call the necessities-of actual, steady practice; but I see that you have a solid principle at the bottom which there's no shaking. Nevertheless, Arling, you can't expect that your judgment is going to be infallible—that you
will never mistake the guilty man for the innocent one, and vice versa."
"Well, Coralie,” said Mr. Youle, an hour later, as he preceded Bergan into the drawing-room of the fine old family mansion that had been the home of the Youles for many years, “bring out your laurels, I have brought you a conquering hero."
“Oh! it is Mr. Arling; he is very welcome." And Coralie, who had seen Bergan two or three times in her father's office, greeted him with marked cordiality, and gave him her small, soft hand.
It is odd how strong a resemblance can co-exist with perfect dissimilarity of features and complexion. Though she was very lovely—this Coralie Youle—and with a blithesome and bewitching loveliness all her own, Bergan had never been able to look upon her, nor could he see her now, without some deep, keen pain, as from an unhealed wound. There were tones in her voice which reminded him of one that he would hear no more ; and she had ways and gestures which continually awakened memories not yet softened by distance into lines and tints of perfect purity and peace. And yet, what an irresistible, subtle charm in her was this very power to
“ Have you
“You said that Mr. Arling was a conquering hero, papa,” she went on, turning to Mr. Youle. gained the case, then, after all ? That is wonderful indeed! How did it happen? Tell me all about it.”
Nothing loath, Mr. Youle gave a sufficiently graphic account of the scene in the court-room, taking occasion to lavish no small amount of hearty encomium upon Bergan's share in it.
“ How I wish I could have been there to see!” exclaimed Coralie, when the recital was ended, her cheeks the past.
glowing with sympathetic excitement; "it sounds like a chapter out of a novel, rather than a bit of real life. Mr. Arling does, in truth, deserve the laurels of victory; and, by the way—Diva! where are you ?-here is some one who is worthy to give them to him.”
No one had noticed, until now, that a lady was standing in the window, half concealed by the curtain. But, as she came forward everything else seemed to fade out of sight, for the moment, and leave only her standing there alone in the clear, cold light of her marvellous beauty.
Before this, Bergan's ideal of proud and queenly beauty had been painted with dark hair and eyes; he now saw reason to change it at once and for ever.
The lady was the most perfect blonde that he had ever seen. Her hair was of the palest brown, with only a faint gold light in it; her eyes were blue or grey, he could not tell which at the moment, nor would he have been less puzzled after a much longer acquaintance; and her complexion was fair and colourless, almost, as marble ; yet never had he beheld anything so stately, so proud, so calm, and it must needs be said-so cold. She came forth from the shadow of the curtain as Galatea might have done, had she been endowed with life only, not with love.
Worthy she might be to crown a victor, in right of her queenliness, but the laurels from her hands, Bergan thought, would be very chill!
“ Miss Thane!” exclaimed Mr. Youle, “why, this is a surprise, and a most pleasant one. It is seldom that you allow
any of us to see you here except Coralie.” “Because my visits are usually morning visits," replied Miss Thane, in a low, yet singularly musical monotone, that harmonized perfectly with her face, “when I know that you are sure to be better engaged than in gossiping with me.”
Mr. Youle slightly raised his eyebrows, in goodhumoured recognition of the possibly careless, possibly studied, ambiguity of this explanation; but he let it pass without comment, as Coralie hastened to present her guests to each other.
Bergan bowed low, with the graceful deference which always marked his bearing towards women; but Miss Thane was guilty of no waste of civility. She slightly inclined her head, vouchsafed him a single glance out of her wondrous eyes, and coolly turned back to the window, to lose herself, a moment after, in a fit of abstraction.
Miss Youle-Mr. Youle's maiden sister, and the mistress of his household since his wife's death, many years ago—now appeared, clad in a thick black silk, that rustled like a field of corn in the wind, and dropped Bergan her stately, old-time courtesy.
At dinner, Bergan was inclined to be somewhat silent at first. Lonely dweller in offices, hotels, and restaurants, that he had been for the year past, he had half lost the habit of conversation ; besides, Coralie's tones continually swept the chords of association in a way to thrill him
with a sombre mixture of pain and please re, and keep his mind confusedly vibrating between the present and
But he was too conscientiously courteous to allow himself long to remain a dead weight upon his hosts; and, though it cost him an effort, he was soon talking with the old ease and fluency, enriched by a profounder thoughtfulness, and a subtler play of imagination. In his hands, commonplace subjects discovered bidden treasures; while loftier themes gleamed and glowed like stained windows seen against a golden western sky. Miss Thane lost something of her apathetic manner, after a while, and paid him the compliment of listening with attention, if not with interest. And opposite to him was Coralie's listening, speaking face, full of such quick comprehension and sympathy, that he could scarcely help being beguiled into a fuller, freer expression of thought, opinion, and feeling, than he would have believed possible an hour before.
But was it not Miss Thane's subtle management, rather than Coralie's sympathy, which finally led the talk into the sombre channels dug by human disappointments, losses, and failures, and kept it there until they had returned to the drawing-room? Then Bergan said, by way of dismissing the subject :-“But all these things are to be looked at as materials, '
not results. Happy the prophetic vision which sees the perfect form of the Future rising from the chaos of past and present !-as a sculptor sees before him, not a rough block of marble, but the finished statue,— an architect, not shapeless heaps of stone and mortar, but the grand completed temple."
“Let him but look far enough," rejoined Miss Thane, and he can behold a sadder phase,—the statue broken and defaced, the temple overthrown and prostrate ; once more a rough block of marble, and shapeless heaps of stone."
“Nay,” replied Bergan," it is at that very point that Prophecy should spread her whitest wings, and soar to the temple not made with hands, and the jewelled walls of the city let down from the clouds. Miss Coralie," he continued, glancing at the open piano, sing?”
"Not much; I play mostly. But Miss Thane does. Dear Diva, won't you sing for us?"
Miss Thane looked at Bergan, but he said nothing. If he had added a word to Coralie's entreaty, the chances are that she would not have sung. But since she had only Coralie to oblige-Coralie, who alone seemed to have found the deep way to her heart, and to whom she rarely refused anything—she went straight to the piano, took the first music that presented itself, which happened to be Rossini's “ Cujus Animam," and began to sing, not only with perfect method—that might have been expected --but with exquisite feeling. Her voice was a rich contralto, deep and broad as a river flowing to the sea, and bearing the listener whither it pleased. There were tears in the eyes of her auditors when she had finished, and would have been, doubtless, had she sung anything else,
" do you
for the quality of her voice touched that point of perfection which, in this world, gives a pleasure closely akin to pain.
She waited a moment, but no one spoke ; then she put her fingers again on the keys, and, looking far out into the evening dusk, sang a disnial, hopeless dirge, which Bergan felt intuitively to be her own; and which wrung his heart with passionate longing and pain. She would sing no more.
Yet no one could talk after those heartbreaking strains. So Bergan quietly took his leave.
Coralie wound her arm round her friend's waist, and
drew her to the window, to watch him down the street. “What do you think of him?" she asked.
“I think—that he has a genius for conversation," replied Miss Thane, coolly.
“Oh, Diva, you know that is not what I mean How do you like him?" “ I like no one, but you.
I think I might respect him in time. As for you, little one, take care you do not like him too well.”
“Why?" asked Coralie, blushing.
“Because he has buried his heart—the best part of it -in somebody's grave."
THE YOUNG HOUSEKEEPER.
То "O most young housekeepers it is found to be a diffi
cult task to manage the expenditure of her household, so as to give a liberal and comfortable supply, and yet avoid waste and extravagance. If this much desired end is to be attained, it must be undertaken with some courage and persevered in with a great deal of steadiness. A system of wasteful expenditure alternating with ecoRomy bordering on meanness will be productive of great discomfort to every member of the household.
One is sometimes surprised to see people whose incomes are tolerably good, and whose tastes do not seemn to be expensive, living with a total want not only of refinement, but even of comfort. This may often be traced to careless, wasteful housekeeping, and a general want of order in the habits of the family. It is perhaps one of the most uncomfortable and unsatisfactory ways of frittering away an income, and is too often caused by the want of knowledge, or want of care of the mistress of the house. No matter what the income may be, it is necessary to fix a suin for the housekeeping expenses, to which sum they should be strictly limited.
A lady of intelligence who will give it some care and attention can soon learn how to get the best value from the sum at her command; but to do this it will be necessary to know pretty accurately what quantities ought to be consumed-for example, long experience of several housekeepers.
Give me the average consumption of meat to be half a pound a day each person (including ladies and children).
Now, if the butcher's book shows in a month an excess of this quantity without the excuse of company, it may be concluded there is Some waste, or that the joints are not well chosen. The same rule must be observed in butter, eggs, and groceriesin fact, in all articles of daily consumption we need, perhaps, except bread, the amount of which cannot be so accurately defined, as the quantity consumed varies so
A daily visit should be paid to the larder before arranging the bill of fare for the day. The cook should be directed to mince, hash, or currie any cold meats that are required to be used. All bones should be put into the stock pot, and dripping should be dissolved in boiling water ; then when cold it may be fit for use in frying. If care is taken by the cook to put all bones into the stock pot, excellent soup may be had with a very small quantity of soup meat. Any fine dripping, such as veal or lamb, can be clarified so as to be excellent for pastry, but as all these things require time it will be better to pay the visit to the larder and give the orders for dinner as early as possible in the day.
The store-room will be the next care, and from it all that may be required will be given out.
A store-room should be airy, cool, and, if possible, dry. The latter quality is particularly valuable, as otherwise it will be impossible to keep preserves. It should have shelves, hooks, and some nets, to keep lemons, oranges, etc. It is a good plan to have a pencil and book in which to enter all that is given to the servants. The date and quantity noted, so that the time they have lasted may be seen at a glance. Once a week the servants' supply of butter, tea, and sugar should be given. Care should be taken to have the preserves, jams, and pickles in a cool, dry part of the store-room. Cakes and biscuits must be kept in tin cans.
Soap should be bought in quantities if much is likely to be consumed in washing at home, as when cut in squares, and dried gradually, it lasts very much longer. It is advisable to have stores of rice, sago, tapioca, and maccaroni, as they will keep good a long time. Coffee cannot be stored for any length of time without losing flavour, unless it is unroasted; but almost all other groceries may be kept in a dry place without injury. While on this subject, it may be well to give instructions for making jam, which holds an important place in the store-room.
much with each person.