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Wives & Housewives ...a story for the times (Victorian Novel)

 

"l Give us wealthy and the home shall exist! But that is a

very imperfect and inglorious solution of the problem, and

therefore no solution. 'Give us wealth! You ask too much.

Few have wealth; but all must have a home. Men are not

born rich; and in getting wealth the man is generally sacrificed,

and often is sacrificed without acquiring wealth at last  

"I think it plain that this voice of communities and ages,

' Give us wealth, and the good household shall exist,' is vicious,

and leaves the whole difficulty untouched. It is better, certainly,

in this form, ' Give us your labour, and the household begins.'"

Emerson.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER I.

 

V dear, I- think we really must give a dance

next month. Lily has been to a dozen parties

at least, and we have not returned one."

 

"A ball, and a grand dinner A la Russe

next week. I shall be ruined!"

 

"Now, Fred, it's senseless to talk like that.

Can we with any propriety go out and not ask people

back?"

 

"Well, I suppose not: but I know inviting me out to

dinner is like asking a postman to take a long walk. I am

tired of cold cod, greasy mutton, and insipid entries."

"Indeed! you are becoming vastly particular!"

"Not at all I am always satisfied with a chop or cutlet

at my own table; but when I come home worn and wearied

from the City, I fail to find the pleasure of dressing and

driving, often a long distance, in order to eat a bad dinner

and drink wine which unfits me for work the next day."

 

"But how are we to keep up our circle if we do not go

out? "

 

"Well, possibly we might judiciously narrow that circle."

"Oh, really," pettishly responded Mrs. Williams,"one is 

to give up one's friends and one's life's work, just as it is be-

ginning to bear fruit, because you are sleepy in the evening."

"You are unjust, Anne. I wish to give up no real friend,

but only some of the acquaintances, and for whom I, at least,

do not care. I have told you often of late that things are very bad

in the City, and we spend too much money."

 

"I never in my life said I wished to do anything requiring

your assistance that you did not try to make me miserable.

I do not hear other people complain of bad times: and it must

be only stinginess which causes you to raise such objections

when I am simply asking for what is needful to keep up

our proper appearance for the sake of the children."

 

"There, there," replied the vanquished husband, "don't

worry me ; do as you like, only let the affair be as little

expense as possible/'

 

"Of course I shall be careful about that; but Lily wants

a new dress or two, and some other trifles. Will you write

me a cheque?"

 

"For how much?"

I cannot make less than fifty pounds do."

It is quite impossible to give you so much now," he continued,

with a sort of groan; "it is only ten days since you

had a hundred for dress. You must make twenty do."

 

"Well, if I must, I must; but what are twenty pounds for

two or three dresses and an opera cloak, and no end of

little things. I feel anxious Lily should look her best, for I

fancy Arthur Arkroyd is thinking of her."

 

"You don't say so ! I hope you are mistaken."

 

"And why, pray?"

 

"He will expect a fortune with her, and I cannot give

her anything."

 

"All you will have to do will be to inquire into Ms

means. If he asks you anything about yours, say what

you have to give will be left in your will"

 

"I am not sure but that it would be raising false expectations.

I often wish, Anne, we had never left the Terrace, but had

lived quietly there till this day. If we had done so, I should

have been a rich man now, and been able to give Lily and

the other girls fortunes on their marriage."

 

"Nonsense! They have now a position in life they never could

have attained had we continued to live in that narrow style.

 

"A style far beyond what was necessary for our parents;

rather beyond, too, that in which your brother has grown

rich, and in which I certainly found more -comfort and

happiness than that in which we now live."

 

Mrs. Williams sighed and said, "I have devoted all my

energies, continually making great sacrifices of my own

ease, towards maintaining a position equal to our neighbours,

and this is all the reward I get!"

 

"If I blame you," Mr. Williams said, wearily, "I blame

myself still more that I did not check the small beginnings.

However, let us do what we can to moderate expenses

now." So saying, he handed his wife the cheque, and she

went to her daughter, whom she found in the morning-room

intent on a novel.

 

"Now, Lily," she said, "I have coaxed papa to give the

ball, and got a little cheque; so we will go into town at once

and get your dresses."

 

"All right, mother. Cook has just been up for orders.

I told her to have something nice for our dinner, and give

the schoolroom the cold mutton."

 

"Dear me! I shall have Miss Smith grumbling again;

they have had cold meat all the week, I think."

 

"How tiresome of her! I am sure it's very nice with

pickles. I remarked to. cook we had not had salmon for

ages, and wasn't it in now? and she laughed, and said

perhaps I would like lamb too!"

 

"Well, dear, one would be almost as costly as the other

in January, and papa has just been grumbling so at expenses

and the bad times, that we must only have such luxuries when

we have company. There, run and get dressed, and we will

give the order at Roux for the dinner next week.

I mean it all to be well done, just to show those Newmans

we can manage and la Russe as well as they.

I shall let Roux do the thing entirely; it will be cheaper in the end."

 

"And save all the trouble," chimed in Lily, in a very

preoccupied tone of voice.

 

"Come, come, said Mrs. Williams, "the morning is

slipping away, and you are not dressing to go out."

 

"Do sit down a minute, mother. I have something very

particular to tell you. You know Mr. Arkroyd took me

down to supper last night, and among other things he asked

me, could I live on five hundred a-year? "

 

"And what did you say?"

 

"That I had no notion; that I supposed it was awfully

little; and he said he was frightened, and afraid I was

extravagant I did not wish him to think that, you know,

because "

 

"You like him, child."

 

" Well, yes, mother; very much. I think he is awfully

nice. And, of course, if other people could live on five

hundred a-year, we could. He is coming in to talk to you

and papa to-night ; and please mind, I would marry him if

he/had only five hundred shillings in the world!"

 

"I think, my dear, it is well you have parents inclined to

be less romantic, and who certainly will not see you sacri-

ficed. Five hundred a-year may seem a large sum to you,

but in these days it is really a small income."

 

"Oh, mother, do not be dreadful. I do not care for

riches, and I know Arthur would make me happy."

 

"Well, well, we shall hear what papa says."

 

Arthur Arkroyd was very much in love with pretty Lilian

Williams, and when he formally proposed for her that

evening, hesitated only just a little as he mentioned the

limit of his income. A faint sigh escaped him when Mr.

Williams said, "I cannot give her anything; she will share

what I leave with the others." He loved the girl so well

as to be glad to take her on any terms. But as, from the

style in which Mr. Williams lived, he had been led to infer

he would give his daughters some marriage -portion, he

naturally felt disappointed. "It would have been well," Mr.

Arkroyd said to himself, "if Lily could have had a yearly

allowance that would cover her personal expenses;" but

this he was too generous to urge on Mr. Williams; and the

interview with him over, he went to Lily in the drawing-

room, and claimed her for his very own.

 

"Only one thing troubles me, my dear," said the young

lover. " We shall have to live much less luxuriously than

you do in your father's house: I am afraid our income will

not afford many of these elegant dresses," and he lightly

touched the expensive dress Lily wore that evening for his

especial behoof.

 

"As to that," she replied, "of course, I shall have a

handsome trousseau, which will last for years. Besides,

when married, one ought not to care for dress."

 

"I should like to see you always nicely dressed, as you

ought to be. I am only anxious lest you should find your-

self unable to live and dress as the wife of a gentleman on

our moderate, if not, as times go, small income."

 

"Why should I not, sir?" she asked, with a pretty pout

"Several girls I know have gone from the grand homes of

rich fathers, and been very happy and contented in a tiny

nest of their own. I see no reason why I should fail to

manage well on moderate means."

 

"Then I will not worry myself any more on that subject,"

replied Mr. Arkroyd; and thenceforward if any doubt arose

in his mind, he treated it as unreasonable, and forbore to

trouble Lily with any further reference to ways or means.

  

CHAPTER II.

 

Have heard some news to-day, my dear," said

Mrs. Heath to her husband.

"Good, I hope."

 

"Yes, it appears so. Our niece Lily is just

engaged to Mr. Arthur Arkroyd!"

"Indeed! I am very glad. He is a worthy

young fellow, and I shall be happy to receive him as one

of the family. How did you hear this?"

 

"Sister Williams came over this morning and told me all

about it. I did not say it to her, but I am afraid the income

the young people propose to many on is but small — five

hundred a-year, she said."

 

"Well, but why do you think it small when you are

willing for our Janet to marry on three hundred and fifty?"

 

"Yes, but see how differently the girls have been brought

up. Lily knows nothing of housekeeping and has most

extravagant notions, whilst Janet is, for her age, quite an

adept, and prudence itself. I am afraid our brother will not

give Lily any fortune, and," added Mrs. Heath, with

motherly satisfaction, "what a comfort it is you are able to

say you will not allow Janet to go to Mr. Fenton empty-

handed."

 

"Yes, I am very thankful to give her something; but she

owes it to her mother. Without your constant help, old

lady, without your unselfish advice, your unceasing self-

denial, I should not now have been able to provide for all

the children, and for the old age I pray God to grant us

together."

 

"Amen, my love, and thank you ; but it is not fair to

give me the praise. There has, in all things, been but one

heart between us, and, working thus lovingly together, we

have prospered."

 

Soon after this conversation with her husband, Mrs.

Heath explained to her daughter the arrangement which

had been made for her benefit: that fifty pounds a-year

was secured to her separate use, together with her husband's

life policies and some trifle of property. "

 

"It is all very kind and very wise," Janet had replied.

"I suppose one ought to be glad to owe everything to a

husband, yet I must confess it makes me happy to think I

shall take him something. But I really do believe that he

is more indifferent in this matter than myself"

 

Janet was to be married as soon as a suitable residence

could be found and furnished, and at length one was secured,

a convenient though not large villa at Highgate, pleasantly

situated, quiet and healthy, and having a very nice little

garden. Mrs. Heath undertook to assist in its arrangement,

which was a great relief to Mr. Fenton, who was working

very hard that he might be enabled to take a leisurely

holiday on his marriage. Both he and Janet had earnestly

pleaded for a simple wedding, and, having regard to their

wish; as well as that it seemed a fitting prelude to the quiet

life the young people intended to lead for some years at

least, the parents readily consented. "And you know,

papa?' said Mrs. Heath to her husband, "it will cost so

little, having everything done thus quietly, that I think we

may afford Janet an additional present. I should be so

delighted to fit up the kitchen, and give her in it all the

comforts she has been used to at home — all the little

machines and appliances which save so much labour and

expense, and are especially invaluable where but one servant

is kept. May I do it? "

 

"Of course you may, mother; and, if you please, cannot

you afford something from father ? "

 

"Oh yes, my dear; I have been sighing all along to put

up a patent gas-cooking range."

 

"Warranted, no doubt, to cook without assistance!"

  

"Well, I know of one which might almost be so warranted

As it is economical a» well as efficient, I know we shall

make an acceptable present."

 

"I must leave the selection to you, my dear, as being

more skilled in these economies, only with this proviso, that

you do not let them influence you in the price of the range;

let it be the very best to be had for money."

 

"I shall certainly remember your injunction — do not be

alarmed, but I never in my life felt so tempted to be extra-

vagant as about my Jenny's kitchen. I think I feel like a

child fitting up her doll's house."

 

With Mrs. Heath our story will have little to do, but as

the mother of one of our heroines, she claims a brief,

description; the more so, as it will be seen from it how

much the daughter owed to the training and example of her

mother.

 

In her younger days Mrs. Heath had been very bonnie

and graceful, and with advancing years retained the bright-

ness which is born of sweet temper and a cultivated mind.

Although in all her words and movements there was a

quietness amounting to gravity, as of one who through life

had been earnest in her duty, she had such a fund of

humour, and such large-hearted sympathy with all who

were in any kind of trouble, this quietness added to her

charms. We have seen how her husband looked upon

her. By her children she was ardently loved, and by her

friends regarded as the very model of an English matron

the ideal of a perfect wife and mother. From the earliest

days of her married life, Mrs. Heath had found all her

pleasure to consist in making her home happy. To be

sure, in her young days, change of scene, frequent visiting

and parties were not deemed essential to the health and

happiness of the middle-class wife. The bringing up of

children was not delegated to ignorant, careless nursemaids,

but was the first duty and delight of mothers. Neither in  

her day were children looked upon as burdens, or a woman

pitied because of the cares of her large family. Happiness

was then found in these cares, and peace of mind in the

performance of the blessed duties of maternity — duties laid

upon woman by Providence and nature, and which she

may not seek to abrogate without ill consequences to all

her race.

 

Supported by the confidence of her husband, Mrs. Heath

ever thoughtfully regulated her conduct in accordance with

his position. "Simplicity" had been her watchword. It

saved her from being carried away by the fashion of the

hour or any of the showy examples around her. In this

quiet though graceful simplicity of life and manners she

educated all her children. The boys, of course, had to be

sent to school; but she never parted from her girls. Over

their health, happiness, and education she ever watched

with the most loving and thoughtful solicitude. Whilst to

the cultivation of her daughters' minds due care was given,

from an early age they were instructed in every detail of

household management, and each day spent several hours

in the kitchen, not only watching their mother and the

cook, but assisting them in everything.

 

Mrs. Heath never kept expensive servants, "who knew

their business too well to be interfered with, and could not

allow the mistress to come in the kitchen;" but only such

as were cleanly, teachable, and honest; content with fair

wages and the confidence and esteem of their employers;

and she contended that, spite of the outcry against their

class, there were still good servants to be found, and that it

was leaving them to themselves and mismanagement which

had ruined so many.

 

It must not be supposed that Mrs. Heath had passed so

far through life without encountering trials and difficulties;

but she had met the first with the fortitude which true reli-

gion always gives, and the last with quiet philosophy, always

abiding by the rule to make no troubles, and the best of

those which existed. And now there had settled on her

spirit a deep and blessed calm. Her loving children no

longer required anxious attention, but were able to share

with her all the cares of domestic life, and she sat down

under her own vine and fig-tree, with a thankful sense that

the time of repose was come, and that though that of action

had been happy, this was her full recompense and reward.

 

We will not pause to enter into details respecting Janet's

modest but happy wedding. It was remarkable chiefly for

the absence of all show and pretension, of borrowed epergnes

and hired waiters; yet was more truly graced by kind friends

and the sweet faces of the daughters of the house, whose

hands alone had prepared the bridal feast and the incom-

parable cake, and decked the table with the brightest flowers

and happiest taste.

 

"It's the old, old story, my mother," wrote Janet, from

their honeymoon retreat in Devonshire; "l am so happy,

and we both are truly enjoying our holiday; and yet we feel

we shall be glad to settle down m the home you have made

so bright for us." And bright it truly was for the bride's

return; all the little finishing touches given with loving

care by mother and sisters; everything in the house being

substantial and new, and as likely to last a lifetime as any-

thing now warranted by a modern upholsterer. Janet's

pleasure in all was complete; but it was in her kitchen,

"the seat of household comfort," that she was most proud

and satisfied. "To think," she said, "of my darling mother

spoiling me like this, and promoting me to all the advan-

tages of an old housekeeper; whatever can I do to repay

her?"

 

"Enjoy her gifts," her husband sensibly suggested.

 

"Let her see the good use I will make of them, I know

you ought to have said," she replied.

 

The fashion of "no cards" had not at this time set in, so

Janet had to receive her visitors on a fixed day. Aunt

Williams was very much scandalised by the way Janet's

wedding had been managed; "just as if," she said, "they

had not a penny to spare, or were ashamed of the con-

nection," and hoped, "that at least they would know how to

behave on this occasion ; and as it would cost nothing, that

they would let her send her parlour- maid, who was used to

showing in and announcing company." But Janet, at the

risk of giving further offence, with many thanks declined the

offer, saying her own maid thought she could manage ; " for,"

she said to her husband, "I should feel embarrassed in

affecting a style of appearance we cannot keep up ; and,

besides, it will be best that all who come should understand

that we mean to live quietly and humbly, and that we can

only choose for friends those who approve of our manner

of life."

 

"I am very glad," he answered, "that my little woman is

not unreasonably anxious to propitiate Mrs. Grundy; but I

am afraid Mrs. Williams will think we ought to have accepted

her splendid attendant."

 

"And have bewildered my Sarah by her magnificence, and

perhaps have turned her head by descriptions of the way

her family do things."

 

It was a great relief to Janet when this formality was over,

and she was able to settle down and put her housekeeping

matters in the groove her mind had prepared, and she found

much to occupy her from the first day of her coming home.

Sarah, the servant she had chosen, was a strong, willing

damsel, passionately addicted to scrubbing, but somewhat

averse to giving attention to the minutiae of cooking, and

Mrs. Fenton found she would require much patient super-

vision; however, having good hope that the root of the

matter was in her, she determined to give it. Of course to

do this effectually she had to devote much time, and so

rapidly did it fly, and so short did the days seem, that when

sometimes her husband inquired in the evening, if she "had

not been dull all that long day?" she would laughingly declare

she "had not had time to miss him."

 

To the habit of early rising the Fentons strictly adhered;

the maid was always called at half-past five o'clock, and they

rose soon after. At seven in the summer, and half-past

in the winter, they breakfasted. Then Mr. Fenton having

enjoyed the cosy little meal, for which Janet always had

some substantial delicacy prepared by herself — because her

husband would only snatch a hasty mid-day meal in the

City, and she doubted much whether it was always whole-

some — left her for the day, and she went to market before

commencing what she called her "kitchen fancy-work."

Janet always found that she was better served, and at a more

moderate rate, than if orders were given; and by going early

things were sent in when the people went their first rounds

to call for orders at most other houses, and thus she had

everything in good time which she required for her morning's

work. Bread, cakes, pastry, potted meats, and every kind of

preserve were made by her own hands, and something nice

always as carefully provided for supper as for breakfast,

because her husband shared it with her. Nor did she forget

the claims of the poor upon them, for although she had little

money to spare, she had regular pensioners, recommended

to her by the clergy of her parish, for whom she was

constantly able, by judicious management and economy, to

provide nourishing meals, and that from materials which in

too many houses are allowed to waste or are carelessly

thrown aside.

 

At one o'clock came the simple, but substantial, dinner,

and thus the afternoon was generally disengaged for needle-

work, reading, letters, and visits. And the evening-time,

how happy it always was! Janet waiting with open arms for

her husband; the house so faultlessly neat; the table spread,

with everything on it as bright as if there were a pantry woman

and plate-cleaner kept, and the maid as trim, in spotless cap

and apron, as if she did nothing but wait upstairs; and

Janet threw aside then every occupation she could not share

with her husband. Sometimes she helped in the garden,

and planned little improvements, fowl-houses and so on;

and when, as it sometimes happened, Mr. Fenton proudly

brought a friend home, entertained them by singing her

sweet little songs, or by her lively and sensible conversation.

Of course this is but a sketch of the ordinary routine of

Mrs. Fenton's life; it was varied by the occasional visits of

friends, and now and then she spent a day out, or dined "at

home," as she still affectionately called her father's house,

but she was so attentive to her household duties as to

render much visiting impossible.

 

There were not wanting those who, on this account,

thought she failed in her duty to society. Mrs. Williams

especially, blamed her, even saying "she set a bad example,

for other men would be expecting their young wives to

make drudges of themselves, as she did. But Janet had

well weighed her line of conduct. Before her marriage she

foresaw its propriety and necessity, and now that she was

convinced it conduced not only to her husband's, but her

own happiness, she, whilst giving due attention to the

advice and opinion of others, resolutely held on her way,

feeling, too, that there was an elder and holier authority

even than her mother's for this conduct of young matrons,

for had not St. Paul admonished such to be keepers at

home; and was it not written in Solomon's sublime praises

of good women, "She looketh well to the ways of her

household"?

 

CHAPTER III.

 

Janat had been married about six months, when

one evening Mr. Fenton brought news of having

met Miss Williams and Mr. Arkroyd, and of

having invited the former to spend the day with

his wife, and the latter to dine and take his

fiance home in the evening.

 

Janet was very happy to see her cousin, though

they had never been very intimate; for whilst the education

of the one had been completed at home, that of the other

had been "entirely received," as her mother was wont proudly

to say, "at the first schools in London and Paris," so that,

as girls, it was only during the holidays they ever met, and

then the immense difference in their tastes and pursuits

interposed a natural barrier to anything like close friendship.

Still, on Janet's part, there was a kindly, cousinly feeling,

which was almost affection towards Lily, who, however, was

prompted to this visit by no other motive than "to see what

sort of a muddle the Fentons lived in with one servant"

 

"Well, then, Janet," said Lily, as they sat chatting, "on

the whole you can recommend the married state, and assure

me that at least I do not risk happiness by entering it"

 

"Certainly," she answered, "so far as my own experience

goes, I can strongly recommend it; but I do not see how I

can give you the assurance you ask."

"Why?"

 

"Ah, it is asking me to enter on a long subject. First,

before I could even form an opinion, I must know how far

you and Mr, Arkroyd are suited to each other; whether

your views and tastes accord, whether you are prepared to

give mutual forbearance, and whether love has been founded

on the rock of esteem,' and last, though not least, I should

want a catalogue of your own domestic virtues and power

of household management."

 

"I think," replied Lily, "Arthur and I are fairly well

suited as to mind and temper. Certainly, we dearly love

each other. But, Janet, I never could live the life you do;

and if my happiness is to depend on following your ex-

ample, I am afraid there is small chance of it"

 

"I did not mean to insinuate that you should follow my

example; circumstances vary so much that no two persons

can order their lives just alike."

 

"No, but generally, I mean. I could not, for instance,

spend my mornings in teaching a servant her duties. I

could not give up balls and parties and the opera."

 

"There would be no need to do so if your husband's

means permit indulgence in such pleasures."

 

"But, Janet, do you mean to say your husband's income

obliges you to live as you do?"

 

"Yes," she replied, smiling, "I think it does."

 

"Then it's dreadful; and do you not fret at such bondage?"

 

Janet laughed outright now, and said, "I assure you, on

the contrary, I hug my chains."

 

"Seriously, though, do you not long to go out more?"

 

"I cannot say that I do. Still, I really enjoy the pleasures

of conversation and intercourse with cultivated minds;

and we have these in a quiet way."

 

"In a very quiet way, it seems. Does not Mr. Fenton

complain of the dull evenings?"

 

"That would be very uncomplimentary to me, Lily, and

he certainly never has done so."

 

"But can you not see, or do you not suspect, that he's

bored?"

 

"Really, no; he always seems to be thoroughly happy

and content. You see, it is my whole aim to render him

so.

 

"Yes, indeed, I see that; and I shall think Arthur dread-

fully exacting if he expects me to give up everything as you

have done."

 

Lily said this rather pettishly, and Janet, wishing to influ-

ence her, replied, very gently, though seriously:

 

"But believe me, dear Lily, I am not conscious of having

given up anything, nor have I been required to do so. Our

income is small, and in order to be able to meet contin-

gencies, we find it necessary to live very quietly. Charles

has never at any time suggested to me how I should order

my way of life, and I know moreover, if I thought it prudent

and wished it, he would be delighted to take me out; and

I think from even the little I know of Mr. Arkroyd, he also

will make his wife's pleasure his own."

 

"That's different, Janet You make your husband's plea-

sure yours. You said so; and it seems to me you quite

spoil him, and in doing so forget you have a duty besides

that to him, and one which surely ought to be considered.

I mean a duty to society." .

 

"One's duty to society," said Janet, thoughtfully, "is to

be a good wife, and mother, if God wills, a true and ready

friend, and in all things to set a good example."

 

"Well, yes; but you look at everything so gravely, Janet.

Is it not also a duty to society to visit and correspond with

one's friends, and to live suitably to the station in which one

has been brought up?"

 

"Of course one must. visit one's friends, provided we do

not let it generate into gadding; but living suitably to

one's station seems to me living within one's means; really

the present fashion of living so much beyond them looks

like infatuation. For myself, all I try to do is to incur

no expenses but those I am quite sure we shall be able

to meet."

 

"Why," said Lily, again, with some petulance, "if one

is never to go out because of the expense, one is worse

off than a grocer's wife, who can ride in an omnibus, and

go to the pit of the theatre."

 

"I agree with you that it is a pity we have all grown

so extra 'genteel' that many things which were thought

good enough for our parents, or, certainly, grandparents, are

impossibly vulgar for us, and that so the mere keeping

up of appearances is a most serious item in our expendi-

ture, and obliges us often to forego a pleasure rather than

indulge in it in a quiet way."

 

"Janet, you make me wish I had not consented to be

narried to Arthur. I shall ruin him, if all you say is true.

I cannot live a humdrum life."

 

"Dear Lily, do not say so. You said you truly loved

him, and affection will make it easy to give up everything

contrary to his interest, which is, of course, your own."

 

"If I give up a great deal, visiting and the opera, I

cannot do with one servant, or go to bed at ten o'clock, or

get up at unearthly hours, as you do. Neither can I cook,

nor, indeed, sew much."

 

"I am afraid I must tell you," said Janet, "that if you

wish to go on smoothly, you will find it needful to do all

these things. But it is my conviction that the greatest

effort required is to make up your' mind to it"

 

"Ah! you don't know me. I must have a certain lady-

like entourage, or I cannot be happy. I am sure, having

been used to a carriage at home, I cannot do without a

hired brougham whenever I reasonably require one."

 

"That would not be often. Our reasonable requirements

are limited in most things, and very much so in the matter

of broughams. I have not used one since I married."

 

"What, not to return your calls?"

 

"No; people who would require me to incur needless

expense on their account would not be worth knowing.

I found a cab occasionally quite as much as I could

afford."

 

"You certainly must, Janet, be the strongest-minded

woman ever born."

 

"If it is strength of mind which enables me to do my

duty as far as I see it, it is a comfort to me to possess it

But tell me, Lily, and then we will change the subject,

should I not be both foolish and wicked to spend more

money than Charles gives me, or rather, as I could not do

that, incur debts; and do you not think it right, even at the

cost of some little effort of self-denial, to save something

against a time of sickness or trouble?"

 

"Oh, yes, most wonderful cousin; only do not expect

me to do it."

 

Miss Williams was much surprised to find her cousin

sitting with ladylike ease, chatting and sewing through the

afternoon. She fully expected Janet would be fidgeting in

and out of the room to look after the cooking, and as she

did not do so, settled in her own mind that the dinner

would consist of a leg of mutton with cindery gravy, and an

underdone apple-pudding; Lily's astonishment was there-

fore proportionate when seated at the table, laid with glass

and silver faultlessly bright, there came first a delicious

Palestine soup with croutons, fried to perfection, and a pair

of soles au gratin. Sarah's face had on it a look of concen-

trated attention and satisfaction, and, unless let into the

secret, nobody would have supposed that the cleanly, neat-

handed maiden was one who in too many houses is " the

slavey" — a girl of all work. When she had handed the

plates she vanished, and the little party, in the interval

of the next course, found it easy to assist themselves, as

everything they would require was on the table or within

Mrs. Fenton's reach.

 

There followed the fish, stewed beef — a delicate, dainty-

looking morsel as tender as chicken, and having sinews

melting like jelly in the mouth. It was enriched by its own

well-prepared gravy, and garnished with the vegetable with

which it had been stewed ; and beside this, a fowl stuffed

with some delicious and mysterious compound of pork and

shalot, and covered with a white sauce. This course re-

moved, pretty little tartlets, a lemon pudding, and cold

souffle followed; everything, as Lily said, was perfection,

slily hinting at "good pastrycooks in the neighbourhood."

Mr. Fenton soon disabused her mind of that idea; where-

upon Mr. Arkroyd refused to believe the servant who waited

on them could have cooked the dinner, unless, indeed, she

had had the help of fairies. Mr. Fenton declared he knew

of but one, and her name was "Management"

 

When the ladies were for a brief time, alone Lily ex-

claimed, "Oh, Janet, what a wonderful person you are!

Fancy getting such a dinner cooked by that young girl —

how did you manage?"

 

"It was easy enough, my dear; but I think the secret of

it was that Sarah had very little indeed to do, except mind

the things did not boil or burn, for all were prepared

for her before your arrival, and you see there could be no

great difficulty in taking up as each dish was prepared in

its own sauce. The soup was partly made yesterday, and

everything we required sent in last night, except the fish,

which was very quickly prepared, and all Sarah had to do

was to bake it for half-an-hour. Then the beef was put on

at eight o'clock this morning, with a sufficient quantity of

vegetables, and enough weak stock to cover it You know

it was just the shin, and though the most delicious part for

stewing, requires cooking long and slowly; it was sufficiently

done at twelve o'clock to allow me to skim and thicken the

gravy and add a little soy, which was all the additional flavour

it had. The beef was then returned to its gravy, and allowed

to keep just warm till dinner-time, when it simmered for

half-an-hour. The vegetables had been put aside in a little

stewpan by themselves, and just before dinner were allowed

to get hot, and they garnished the dish. As to 'the triumphant

fowl,' as you call it, it was stuffed and ready for

stewing before I left the kitchen, and the white onion sauce

you so much admired also in its stewpan, so Sarah would

have been a goose to have spoiled anything."

 

"But the pastry and sweets, Janet, did you make them?"

 

"Those weighty trifles I compounded yesterday, except

the pudding, which Sarah had to boil, and I could see by

the satisfied expression of her face as she set it on the table

that she thought the turning out did her credit."

 

"It was a delicious pudding ; but, Janet, it seems to me

you economise in some things only to be extravagant in

others. That dinner must have cost a great deal."

 

" Less, I assure you, than a plain joint of beef. Suppos-

ing I tell you how much: the soup cost ninepence; the

soles, a shilling; the beef, one and eightpence; the fowl

Charles brought me from the market, two shillings and

ninepence; and vegetables and other sundries would cer-

tainly not come to a shilling."

 

"But the pudding, Janet; it must have taken a quantity

of lemons."

 

"Only one, and I can make it for sixpence. Ah! I see

you are going to catch me about the souffle, and I admit

that is a slight extravagance — it actually took four eggs, half

a pint of milk, a little strawberry jam, and a sponge-cake;

but Charlie is so fond of it and considers it such a chef-

d'oeuvre of mine, that I indulged myself — let me see — at the ex-

pense of tenpence. As to the pastry, that I always have in the

house, as Charles likes it, and will only eat it if home-made."

 

"You have gone so into facts and figures that I cannot

say there has been any magic, but I declare that our cook,

who has a kitchen-maid to help, never sends up anything

half as nice or as hot as your Sarah has done to-day ; and I

hear mamma say they are most extravagant, and that made

dishes are ruinous."

 

"That is a pity, because they make a nice change. I

 should find it very awkward to have joints frequently, besides

I do not approve of living too much on cold meat, or of

having it twice cooked very often."

 

"I shall be afraid when I am married to ask you to dinner,

Janet ; you would be so hard upon a failure."

 

"No, indeed, I should only be severe where no attempt

was made to do the best circumstances allowed; but, Lily,

you are going to become a famous housekeeper — to learn

everything that can make home happy."

 

Lily, however, only shook her head, and looked puzzled

and sad.

 

Meanwhile Mr. Arkroyd, trembling as he was on the

verge of matrimony, was glad to discuss his prospects

with Mr. Fenton, who having so recently made the venture

might be supposed to have some little experience.

 

"It's delightful, Fenton," said Mr. Arkroyd, "to see you

so happy and comfortable, with such a bright, cozy, habi-

tation, and such a presiding genius as your wife."

 

"I assure you that if it is delightful to witness, the ex-

perience is infinitely more delightful I sometimes think I

am the luckiest and happiest fellow alive."

 

"It is satisfactory to know you are not insensible to your

blessings. As a prospective member of the family I must

be allowed to say that while you have a most charming and

graceful companion, whose rare sweetness is enhanced by

good sense, you have at the same time been fortunate in

securing one whose home virtues are quite resplendent"

 

"Thank you; it is always agreeable to a husband to hear

his wife's praises. They find an echo in my heart ; but

nothing that can be said equals her merits or my apprecia-

tion of them; "and in a low tone he added, whilst he

inclined his head, "I often think, who am I that, above

others, such a treasure should be given to my keeping; but

I must hope, Arkroyd, that your own matrimonial venture

may be no less successful."

 

"Lily," he replied, "is all I, or any other man, could

wish ; but she has everything in domestic matters to learn,

and so I am a little anxious lest my income should be in-

sufficient. Living, nowadays, is enormously expensive.

 

"Yes, but you have more income than we, and with care

and economy will do very well."

 

"And if we can press that fairy of yours, Management,

into our service."

 

"At the same time try if you can find another willing

to join her, — my mother-in-law's famous handmaiden,

Simplicity."

 

On their way home, Mr. Arkroyd expatiated to Lily on

the perfect arrangement of her cousin's menage, and the

charming manner in which she had entertained them. "I

wonder, darling," he said, gently, "if we shall ever get on

as well?"

 

"Janet is a drudge," replied Lily, sharply. " I hope you

do not expect me to be one?"

 

"Mrs. Fenton does not give me the idea of a drudge,

my dear. On the contrary, she looked at the head of the

table every inch the lady. I think she is a most charming

person."

 

"Did you notice her hands, pray I"

 

"They were neither so pretty nor so white as yours, love;

but although one could see they had been serviceable to

their owner, by their cleanliness and well-trimmed nails they

fulfilled all ladylike conditions."

 

"Are you aware that she cooked the dinner?"

 

"It did her infinite credit"

 

"Oh, I have no patience ! If you want a cook and house-

keeper you can engage one at a moderate rate, and she will

make it her interest to feed you properly. On the whole, it

would be cheaper and less trouble than a wife. It is not too

late to alter your mind, you know."

 

"It is too late, my Lily," he said, tenderly, "because life

without you can never be happy to me. I would not change

you for the most perfect housekeeper the world ever pro-

duced."

 

"Well, then, don't preach Mrs. Fenton to me any more,

because it only annoys me. I shall never be like her, nor

do as she does ; it is not in me."

 

No one, having heard this, can say that Mr. Arkroyd

went blindfold to his fate. If men who, like him, having

only moderate incomes, have not the sense to see that women

without the knowledge of domestic affairs, or the wish to

devote themselves to them, will make unsuitable wives, they

must abide the inevitable consequence of wretched, mis-

managed, extravagant homes. If they for any reason prefer

either the girls who have been brought up in luxurious idle-

ness, or those whose whole aim is to attract them by a showy

style of dress, and who appear in public with no other mo-

tive, they ought not to expect that they will be other than

true to their training. It is equally as true that if a child is

trained up in the way she should go she will not depart from

it, as that she will not depart from the teaching which has

been false and vicious.

 

It is asserted in most things that a demand creates a

supply. Can it be that the taste of the men of this age de-

mands women for wives whose extravagant notions would go

far to ruin the majority? When a man of moderate means sees

a girl much abroad, constantly changing her dresses, always

attired in the best and latest fashion, with the daintiest kid

gloves and careless of soiling them, with broad ribbons and

long streamers, elegant feathers and expensive bonnets, not

to mention coils of false hair and much jewellery, he ought

at once to consider whether he will be able to afford such

things; whether it would not be impossible for the wearer

to give them up, and whether they are not the indications of

extravagant habits and inclinations. Or, if he thinks these

things merely used as baits to catch him or some other

husband, ought he not rather to recoil in disgust than be at-

tracted by them? If he thinks vanity so ruling a passion in a

woman that he excuses the errors into which it leads her, he

should at least be sure that it will be as strong after marriage

as before it, and consider if he can for life draw sufficiently,

either on his purse or his admiration, to satisfy the cravings

of such a passion. Of course neatness and propriety of dress

are necessary in every station, but the daughter of a trades-

man or merchant now requires to be dressed like a duchess ;

not only to have the richest materials, but to have them made

up by expensive dressmakers in extravagant style. We speak

within bounds when we say that even in our own recol-

lection, dresses thought good enough for "best" by girls

of this class are now worn in the morning, and that three

dresses at least are required where one used to be sufficient

It seems to us one need not look farther than this for

the cause of much domestic misery. If a woman's whole

soul is bent on her own adornment she becomes selfish,

exacting, and unwilling to give either time or interest to the

comfort of those to whom she is bound, and it is certain

also that so much pains about her appearance are not taken

for their pleasure, but that she must be much in public "to

show herself." Let it become known that men are tired of

all false glitter, that they can only be attracted by modest

worth and domestic virtue, and things will be altered, and

until then we can only say, like the veiled prophet, "Ye

would be dupes and victims — and ye are!"

 

CHAPTER IV.

 

Well, Mrs. Green, and so you've heard of a

situation for me?"

 

"Yes, my dear; and you go and give your

warning this very night, for you're wanted

within the month."

 

"It's certain then, mum, that I shall be

wanted? for the amiable lady I've now the

pleasure to serve is so fond of me, she won't spare me one

minute before my time.

 

"You must wheedle her; or, if you can't do that, give a

month's wages."

"Will that pay?"

 

With a wink, the presiding genius of the register-office

said, "Lucy Tomkins, I've provided for that; I've looked

you out as the most favoured competitor for the prize of a

young, inexperienced, new-married lady."

 

"My month's wage is gone, Mrs. Green; lors, what luck !

What's the figger?"

 

"That's your look out; she'll give anything, her ma says,

in reason, to a steady, careful cook."

"That's what I am, and no mistake."

"Her ma's a regular customer of mine, as good as an

annuity; has two or three cooks every year, three or four

housemaids, and small fry without number."

 

"Can't put up, then, the old party, with the ways of

modern domestics. I say, Mrs. Green, won't she be putting

the young one up to a thing or two?"

 

"My dear, Mrs. Williams is a jewel; never goes in the

kitchen, don't object to anything reasonable, only requires

a good cook, who has the ability to study her own interests

unobtrusively; but you know I could not live if I let her

keep all my best girls."

 

"Oh, you're a artful one, Mrs. Green, that's what you

are."

 

"Not so green as my name, my dear, that's all: but I

must say Lucy Tomkins might take and wear it as a motto."

 

"Oh, yes ! Lucy is verdant when it suits her. But, to

return to business : how many's kept, and what sort?'*

 

"Experienced housemaid only at first."

 

"I must have a suitable mate, mind."

 

"I've looked you out a girl after your own heart, who will

work with you day and night. You know Emma Fair-

weather ? "

 

"Jolly old Emma? She'll do."

 

"All right ; she's engaged rather low, fourteen pounds, but

her last place was backward in coming forward to give her

testimonials, and I had to say the lady was annoyed at

losing a valuable servant"

 

"If that's a cause for crusty character, whatever will be-

come of me? I know Mrs. Dickson will be in a fine way

when I give her notice."

 

"Never you mind, you've only yourself to look to;

missuses are all for themselves, and servants must look

sharp for self, too. What wages shall you ask?"

 

"Seventeen, and all found."

 

"Better say sixteen ; you can have any amount of pickings."

 

"Well, I'm not particular to a pound, for I should like to

live in a place where I can dish the missus, and bless your

heart, there's small chance at Dickson's. Leg of mutton,

hot, cold, and hashed, and the joint of beef (not too fre-

quent) scraped to the bone. Then the butter's 'lowanced,

and its mean to screw out of the children; even the dripping

used up, and I have to dodge no end of a lot to bag a bit

I hate such ways!"

 

I am sure you'll have nothing of that kind to contend with in

a competition — it's my belief Miss Williams knows no more

how much suet goes to a pudding than my kitten. By and

by, perhaps, she'll begin to calculate, and then you must

take things with ah 'igh hand, and say you learned your

business under a man-cook who was a pupil of Francatelli,

and that to make things proper and good you can't be stinted

in trifles — which eggs and butter are."

 

"Dear me, Mrs. Green; after the confidence you was so

obliging as to express in my innocence, your advice is

supereggertory. Leave me alone to manage a young in-

eggsperienced lady? Pray, ma'am, is my future employers

rich?"

 

"Can't say; but it won't matter to you."

 

"Not a nutmeg, Mrs. Green. But if I've this painful

duty to perform — as our school-teacher used to say when

she hit us raps over our knuckles — I'll away and get it done.

I feel for Mrs. Dickson, I really do!"

 

"A matter of business. Miss Tomkins, and pray do the

thing as such; and to-morrow, at twelve o'clock, wait on

their address, and say I sent you ; and put on your engage-

ment bonnet as well as your manners, and do credit to the

character I've given you."

 

"Trust me, Mrs. Green, and thank you; and when I get

to my new situation, I shan't forget who recommended me in."

 

"If you please, ma'am, can I speak to you?" said Lucy

Tomkins to Mrs. Dickson, as soon as she returned to that

lady's house.

 

"Certainly, Lucy ; come in. What is it?"

 

"If you please, Mrs. Dickson, I feel that I ought to be

doing better, and therefore you must please to take my

month's notice."

 

"Well, Lucy," said the lady, humbly, "I shall be sorry to

lose you; it is so trying, in my delicate state of health, to

change one's servants. If it is that you are not satisfied

with your wages, I am sure Mr. Dickson will allow me to

raise them."

 

"But it's not altogether the wages, ma'am ; it's the oppor-

tunity I want."

 

"How so?"

 

"To improve myself. You see, you live so plain; has

no hentries; nothing but roast and boiled; and really I'm

very sorry, but I must consider myself."

 

"Very well, Lucy; I am afraid if you cannot do with our

way of living, we must part But I also am sorry."

 

"There's no help for it that I see, for I've thought and

thought, and says I to myself, Mrs. Dickson suits me, and

I suit her; but there's no opportunities; and I laid awake,

and cried all night, and, says I, this won't do; so I'll tell

mistress at once. I hope, ma'am, if I hear of a suitable

situation, you'll speak for me; and if so be you could suit

yourself before the month, and release me, I shall be much

obliged."

 

"I will try, Lucy."

 

And poor Mrs. Dickson applied in a few days to that

most respectable register-office of which Mrs. Green was

the nominal superintendent and real proprietress, and was

supplied with a cook in time to allow the invaluable Tomkins

to enter the service of the newly-married Mr. and

Mrs. Arkroyd.

 

"I did hope," said Mrs. Green to the victim then under

hand (Mrs. Dickson), "that now you were suited," Lucy

Tomkins is a very good servant, but she has the very

common fault of not knowing when she is well off. I must

say, after all your kindness and consideration, it appears a

little ungrateful. It's enough to make ladies hard-hearted,

for certainly the more they do for servants, the more they

may. But don't you mind, ma'am; I'll find you a good

substitute. Indeed, I have one in my eye now." And so,

indeed, she had, and earned several more half-crowns by

dexterous management, in enticing away servants and sup-

plying others to fill the vacancies thus created.

 

It was quite true, as Lucy Tomkins had said, that the

Dicksons did live very plainly; for, as Mrs. Dickson had

no knowledge of cookery herself, and could not afford to

trust to a cook, she found the only plan open to her was

closely to estimate the quantities required for the actual

existence of her household, and to allow so much, and no

more. Thus a large leg of mutton, with a very limited

supply of "trimmings," would usually, with a pudding,

form the Sunday's dinner, and was expected to, and did,

last cold for two or three days. Bread and butter, or

treacle, was all that was allowed for the children and

nursery at other meals, and bread and cheese for the

supper of the governess and servants. Of course, these

last fared better than the governess and children, for, with

all the closeness of her calculations, Mrs. Dickson could

not outwit such a clever girl as Lucy, who would have her

" rasher " and dumpling or cake, whether allowed or not.

But the governess, who could only have her allotted portions,

was dispirited, and had a languid state of health, sadly un-

fitting her for her occupation. The children grew up

slight and delicate, with very small appetites, and unable to

take anything but the fare to which they had been accus-

tomed, turning even in disgust from any well-cooked stew,

or anything 'but joints plainly boiled or roasted.

 

Mrs. Dickson was accustomed to speak of her children as

if they belonged to some exceptional and extraordinary

species. The least thing, she said, made them bilious.

Eggs were too rich for them. Even boiled milk for break-

fast could only be taken occasionally. A little tea suited

them best Coffee did not agree with them either, and cold

bacon made them ill. It was certainly true; but why?

The little creatures had been so stinted and so restricted

that their stomachs had become even more incapable of

discharging their office than they would probably have been

if constantly loaded with improper diet.

 

But it must not be supposed Mrs. Dickson was not an

affectionate mother. It was her judgment, not her heart,

which erred, and the pity of it is that errors of judgment

are commonly more fatal than those of the affections. She

argued: "The children of the poor do not have delicacies, and

why should mine require them? If the children of working

people get meat two or three times a week, it is considered

very well, and mine, with meat once a day regularly, ought

to be very strong and healthy; and yet I believe it would

suit them better to have rice or sago every other day, instead

of meat."

 

It is true that the hardy children of the true peasant type

can live on very meagre food, if they have enough of it;

but it is not so with the children of working people in large

towns. They require, and commonly get, a more stimulating

diet; if not actual meat, yet good substitutes for it in

dripping and fat of various kinds, and vegetables cooked

with meat; and if they do not have proper nourishment,

they become sickly and liable to disease. But Mrs. Dickson

argued unconsciously from premises that suited her arrange-

ments. She had a grand appearance to keep up, she and

her children were always obliged to appear well dressed

and she had carte blanche from her husband to hire a

brougham whenever she thought it needful. There was of'

necessity always a neatly-dressed maid to attend the door

for callers, and she herself in readiness to receive them.

To effect all this, as well as to have a large, " well-situated

house," it was needful to pinch somewhere, for both she

and her husband had a wholesome horror of debt and

so the lot fell on what she called "domestic economy," —

a rigid apportioning of the' cheapest material on which life

could be sustained. It was no wonder the doctor's bill

was always heavy, or that he never suggested extra nourish-

ment for anyone but Mrs. Dickson.

 

CHAPTER V.

 

Lilian William's wedding was said to have

been one of the gayest of the season; she had

eight bridesmaids and a large number of guests

at the ceremony, whilst she herself was attired

in the fullest magnificence of bridal costume.

Everything was thoroughly well done in the

latest fashion, and Mrs. Williams felt her

ambition and vanity gratified to an unprecedented extent.

That Lily was married, that one of her girls was "settled,

"was good; but "the grand wedding" was to her

of much more consequence, and so intent was her mind

on this one idea that she never even noticed the grave

change which was stealing over her husband. People re-

marked to each other at the wedding that "Williams was

breaking up sadly," and noted as singular that he became

even paler as his glance fell on the splendour of the break-

fast-table. Some, however, referred this and the painful

effort with which he spoke to his emotion. "It is so hard,"

they whispered, "to part from a favourite child; "but surprise

and conjecture became more rife when it was his duty

to make his speech, and in an agitated tone he said: "I am

very glad to give my daughter to a good man; she takes

him little but her love; may that be all sufficing now and

whilst they live! I feel certain his home and guardianship

will be surer than mine, and for this, too, I am thankful she

should go with him."

 

"Were you mad," exclaimed Mrs. Williams, in their first

private moment, "to tell the world you had nothing to give

your daughter, and to sit there looking like a ghost at a

funeral rather than a parent at a wedding? You spoilt the

whole thing, and I never will forgive you."

 

"Everybody will know soon, Anne, that we had no right

to such a display. I said what I did to prepare their minds

for that which may come any hour now."

 

"What do you mean, Fred," cried Mrs. Williams, in great

excitement, "by thus trying to make me miserable?"

 

"Anne, is this the first time I have told you that we are

living beyond- our means?"

 

"Is it the first time I have told you, you have no spirit,

that it is worse to look poor than to be poor?"

 

"I dispute that; but let it pass. I have perhaps wanted

spirit, and certainly I have wanted firmness; but you must

not blame me when you know the worst."

 

Then Mrs. Williams became alarmed, and entreated an

explanation. But although when it was given she perceived

their affairs were growing desperate, she did not counsel her

husband at all risks to pause and put his house on a different

footing — she was too proud to acknowledge before the world

that they were poor, but not too proud to act the lie of her

life out. So she urged her husband at any cost "to keep up

his credit;" and the result was that when an opportunity —

even in these days of lax commercial morality, regarded

neither as honest nor legitimate — offered, Mr. Williams

forfeited for ever his character for integrity, and committed

himself to a scheme which ultimately worked not only his

own ruin, but that of many innocent people. But, for some

time it gave his wife the means to gratify her extravagance,

and she, though feeling the supplies were drawn from

perilous sources, never heeded consequences, nor hesitated

to make every consideration subserve to her love of display.

We must, however, leave her, to follow more closely now

the fortunes of her daughter.

 

The honeymoon over, Lily and her husband returned

from Paris supremely happy, the one looking forward with

delight to her new mode of life, the other to the quiet joys

of home — which, alas! he too soon discovered would not

be his. There had been some difficulty in fixing on a

residence for the young couple. Mr. Arkroyd would have

preferred to live at some little distance from town, but

to this Lily had objected, saying, piteously, she "should be

buried alive; that as to a garden, it was the most expensive

luxury in the world. Did not even papa say, every cabbage

cost him half-a-crown? Besides, they could have a little

one without going out of everybody's reach for it."Then

he tried for some nearer suburban retreat; but in vain, as

Lily, seconded by her mother, had determined that, as they

could not afford to keep a carriage, they ought to be near

town, and so Albany Villa, in the vicinity of Regent's

Park, was decided on.

 

Mr. Arkroyd felt they were beginning badly in having a

larger house than they required, and that ninety pounds a-

year was too much rent for their income. However, as

nothing more moderate considered habitable by the ladies

could be found, he was obliged to consent to take it. When

it came to the furnishing he was sorely puzzled, for if he

had acted on Mrs. Williams's suggestions he would have out-

run the sum put aside for that purpose; so he at once gave

the whole affair to an upholsterer whose estimate seemed

moderate, and the result of this was that the articles supplied

to him were made rather to please the eye than with any

reference to possible wear, and that he paid much more for

them than he would have done had they been chosen by a

competent judge. Mrs. Williams and Lily, however, with

their habitual want of thought for the future, declared all

very nice and satisfactory, never heeding how soon the

delicate net and lace would look soiled, the beautiful chintz

be crumpled, or the gilding be tarnished. It was all very

pretty now and fit for a bride, and that sufficed them.

 

Lily entered on her new sphere of action with no misgivings

as to her power of management She found she had two

clever servants, who undertook everything without

any trouble to her, and that she had plenty of time on her

hands for visiting and pleasure. Invitations poured in upon

her, and all were as nearly as possible' accepted, so that she

and her husband now saw next to nothing of each other;

for, tired with the dissipation of the previous evening, she

could never rise to join him at breakfast, and then he went

to his office, and only returned in time to dress for some

party or public amusement.

 

This was not what Mr. Arkroyd had pictured to himself

of wedded happiness, but he dearly loved his wife and was

glad she should enjoy herself while she was so bright and

young, and he kept saying to himself, "By and by she will

settle down; it will all come right in time." Meanwhile,

however, he was much dismayed to find that their household

expenditure in comparison with their income was enormous,

and with much gentleness and caution he approached the

subject with his wife.

 

"My dear," he said, "I am short of money."

 

"And so am I, Arthur; the five pounds you gave me on

Monday are all gone. Money is such a trouble to me and

goes so fast that I sometimes think I must lose it."

 

"Well, I am almost inclined to think so, too, now and

then," he said, smiling, "but really, dearest, we must

be careful; it is now just three months since we began

housekeeping, and we have spent nearly two hundred

pounds."

 

"Nonsense, Arthur, how can it be? You don't mean

to say I have spent all that?"

 

"Not quite; still you know I have had no personal expenses

beyond that of my transit to and from the City, and

luncheon."

 

"Then you mean to say I am an extravagant wife. Oh!

I wish I never, never"

 

"Now, Lily darling, do not be unkind. I only want to

show you that if we go on as we have begun, we shall end

in ruin and misery. Let us talk it over quietly, and see

how the money goes, and where we can retrench."

 

"It's dreadful!" she persisted; "I have not had even a

new pair of gloves since I married — I mean I have not

bought any. All the money goes in housekeeping. We

must live."

 

"Yes, and well too; but still we must be more economical

It strikes me, do you know, that Lucy is very extravagant,

for that night you were ill I went into the kitchen for hot

water, and saw the remains of the servants' supper.

There were cold fowl and tongue, oyster shells and empty stout

bottles, besides apple-pie and tarts, and it looked as if four

persons had supped. I did not wish to worry you then,

so I asked Lucy what it meant, and she answered me pertly

that they had treated themselves to oysters, and that the

other things wanted eating, and so they had them; and

altogether denied having had friends."

 

"Oh dear, Arthur, how can you be so suspicious. Lucy

is most invaluable — and such a good cook. If you heard

half the stories I do of other people's servants, you would

pronounce her a treasure."

 

"I am afraid, my dear, you trust her too far — and Emma

also; not only does she have the care of all your own

things, but you leave everything in the way of stores in

her charge. Now I think such confidence can never safely

be placed in untried persons."

 

"I had excellent characters with both my servants."

"Still, I advise you to limit your confidence in them."

 

Lily thought a moment. A conviction that her husband

was right flashed across her mind; but to make any

alterations must, she knew, diminish her own ease and

opportunities for pleasure, so she determined to resist his

rght to interfere with her management, and answered, pettishly,

"You must really take to the housekeeping yourself if you

are not satisfied with my management I know the servants

are honest, or I should not trust them; it would make my

life miserable to be suspecting those about me and to be

stingy in trifles."

 

"You know, darling," he continued, in the same gentle

tone, "that I am quite satisfied you do your very best to

manage properly, but yet I cannot let things go on at this

pace; and how we are to make our income last out this

year, having begun so badly, I cannot think."

 

"Oh! people will trust us."

 

"Does my Lily," he said, with some sternness now,

"mean to be dishonest? Never let me hear you say such

a thing again, but remember we must and shall pay our way

and live within our income."

 

And now Mrs. Arkroyd resorted to a weak woman's de-

fence — tears and hysteric sobs. "Oh! why had he taken

her from her happy home? how could he speak in that

cruel way? she would go back and never see him again

if he could not always be as kind as he had been."

 

"My dear," he said, "I have only spoken under the gravest

compulsion, and you must feel it would have been false

kindness to allow things to go on to the verge of ruin with-

out warning you. I must leave you now, but you will think it

over, and we will talk again about what is best to be done."

 

When left to herself Mrs. Arkroyd felt very uncomfortable,

for not only did she know that she had spent a great deal

of money, but that there were many debts, such as twenty

pounds to the livery-stable keeper, for she had adhered to

her determination to have a brougham whenever she required

it, and had indulged in riding, always, of course, attended by

a groom. Besides this, ten pounds were due to her milliner

and dressmaker; for, although her trousseau was handsome,

she had found in going out so much that dresses required

renovating and re-trimming, and that head-dresses and

bonnets must be made to the latest fashion and suitable to

every occasion. "You know," she had said to her husband,

 

1 must be particular, being a bride; I shall be so much

observed," and to this he assented, without thinking of the

inevitable cost.

 

Whilst Lily was still holding troubled converse with

herself, her mother called to see her, and to her she poured

out her trouble.

 

"Oh!" she cried, "Arthur is so angry at expenses, he

says we shall be ruined. I did not tell him of some bills

which have just come in. What must I do, mother?"

 

"When you have been a wife half my time, Lily, you

will have learned to take no notice of a husband's outcry

about expenses; they always make a fuss before they

are hurt, lest a blow be given unawares. Still, my dear, you

must not be extravagant."

 

"I am not, I am sure. I cannot imagine where all the

money goes."

 

"You should keep an account."

 

"But you never did."

 

"No; I told your father, on his frequently suggesting it,

that it was trouble enough to get money from him and then

spend it, without accounting for it But then our circum-

stances are so different to yours. You pay your own bills,

of course."

 

"No; Lucy said she had always been accustomed to do

it, and so I let her."

 

"Of course, then, you look them over and check

them?"

 

"Sometimes; but they generally go two or three weeks,

and I forget what we have had. But Lucy sees they are

all right, she says, and she orders what we want. It would

be no use my interfering if even she did cheat me. I don't

know what is really necessary."

 

"I think, my dear, you must try and learn."

 

"Ah! that is easier said than done. Servants do not

like one in the kitchen, and will not stay if one is too

particular. I only wish Arthur had more money, and

then there would not be such trouble about trifles."

 

"Well, Lily, you knew what you had to expect before

your marriage. You pleased yourself, for I certainly ex-

pected you to do better as regards money. You must

make the best of your position now."

 

"Oh, do not think I would change Arthur for anybody in

the world; only I am very wretched about the bills, and

think it would have been better not to have married at all

if things are to be like this."

 

"You had better tell Arthur about the bills at once."

"I cannot."

"You must do it sooner or later, unless you save and so

pay them."

"That I should never do."

 

After some further attempts to help her daughter, which

all proved fruitless, Mrs. Williams left her to the adjustment

of her own affairs.

 

"Missus has been crying," said Emma to Lucy.

"What's up?"

"I was dusting just outside the door when Mrs. Williams

was with her, and I could make out that master thinks we're

a-going it Living too fast, that's about it."

"Hadn't we better cut it then, Emma?"

 

"Oh, I don't think the game's up yet; but I've noticed

a queer look in his eye ever since he went ferreting down-

stairs and saw them oyster shells."

 

"Pity he can't mind his own business; but if he gives

me any more of his nonsense I shall tell him to suit him-

self."  

"So shall I"

 

CHAPTER VI.

 

Next door to Albany Villa there lived a lady who

has, for ten years been so severely afflicted by

rheumatism as to be unable to walk or even

get up from her chair without assistance. Her

self amusement consisted in watching and

gossiping about her neighbours, and it was with

no small delight she found the new comers, Mr. and Mrs.

Arkroyd, such favourable subjects for her. For ten years

had Miss Wilson sat the greater part of each day in her

luxurious chair, propped up by cushions in an angle of the

pleasant bay-window, looking out and commenting upon

the world of passers, with whom she had long been too

feeble to mingle. As is always the case with confirmed

gossips, there was a spice of malice in all her observations,

and she could not be fully interested in any tale unless

there was some open or latent scandal in it The prime

minister of this local terror was an ancient handmaid, who

had lived with her mistress for thirty years, and it was to

her Miss Wilson looked for her strongest meat in the form

of gossip From the very moment Albany Villa was taken

by Mr. Arkroyd, did Miss Wilson and Elgeth, her maid,

commence their observations. They saw him enter to view

it with the agent, on the morrow noted Lily and her mother

come to inspect it, and then, when the bill was removed,

knew all was settled, and the faces of their future neighbours.

Elgeth soon discovered that the furnishing was done

under an estimate, and until all was finished they had plenty

to do in lamenting about the fragile character of the furniture.

 

"I think," said Elgeth, "I never saw so many skeletons

in my life; the things look as if they were made for nothing

but airing hangings, or as if the new-comers were going to

open a laundry, and had got in a lot of new patent clothes-

horses."

 

"And the kitchen things," chimed in Miss Wilson;

"why, they are only fit for a doll's house!"

 

"Or to play at housekeeping, ma'am. I must say it is

all that young lady looks fit for, and that she's very much

of a piece with the furniture."

 

The next sensation was made by the arrival of the two

servants, upon whom Elgeth at once pronounced condem-

nation, intimating, though not in poetic language, that she

"saw the future lying like a map before her eyes. As sure

as you're there, ma'am, it will be a case of Smallsons."

Now Smallsons were people who had once resided on the

other side of Alton Lodge, and who had suddenly come to

grief and vanished from the neighbourhood; and though

Miss Wilson said, "Elgeth, don't think of such dreadful

things," it was clear, by the smile with which she received

the prophecy, that she shared the impression of her hand-

maid. Since the Arkroyds had taken possession of their

new home it had been remarked that Miss Wilson sat

longer in her window than formerly, and that when her

chair was wheeled away Elgeth took up the post of observation.

 

It was one evening shortly before the conversation in

which Mr. Arkroyd had intimated to Lily his distrust of

their servants, that Elgeth turned from the window to her

mistress, now seated by the fire, and exclaimed, "The

carriage is round again, ma'am; another evening party.

Would you like to be wheeled up and see Mrs. Arkroyd

get in?"

 

"No, thank you, I know all her toilettes; you can tell me

which she's wearing to-night, and whether he's saving his

gloves, as usual."

 

"Very grand to-night, ma'am; wedding-dress, and Mr.

Arkroyd has on the left glove."

 

Miss Wilson laughed slightly, and then, as if some

sympathy for the unfortunate husband were newly evoked,

heaved a sigh. "To be sure," she said, "he wore the right

the night before last Oh! if she were only half as careful.

Gone, are they; and pray do the servants receive this evening?"

 

"I expect so; I saw that loose-looking man in the grey

suit hovering about an hour since. I declare I am getting

quite frightened; it is not safe, to be where there are such

goings on. He's gone in, ma'am ; and bless me if the

housemaid is not come out in her mistress's white cloak

and the blue bonnet with marabouts."

 

"Elgeth, it is no use, this cannot go on; something must

be done to warn these young people of the sort of creatures

they have about them."

 

"Of course, Miss Wilson," replied Elgeth, stiffly, "you

can do as you like; but I should say that no warning,

short of telling Mrs. Arkroyd to stay at home and mind

her own house, would be of any use."

 

"But there are better servants than hers, some who

could be trusted "

 

"There were in my day, ma'am; but where to go for

one now, I don't know."

 

Miss Wilson was very much alive to any assumption of

superiority on the part of her old servant, and tartly

replied : " Do not be conceited, Elgeth. I say, again,

Mrs. Arkroyd ought to be warned."

 

"And would you send me in to do it, or write a note,

and lay yourself open to a lawyer's letter for defamation

of character, and the vengeance of those dreadful women

into the bargain ? Mrs. Arkroyd must buy her experience,

ma'am, and if it's rather dear, you won't have to pay."

 

"You are getting old and selfish, Elgeth, and I shall

consider what is to be done."

 

Elgeth now retired from her post of observation, and

lapsed into silence, which Miss Wilson knew to be her

favourite mode of expressing her indignation. Nothing

more was said on that evening, but the next morning

Elgeth entered the room full of importance, evidently

having something of remarkable interest to communicate.

 

"I have just been," she said, "to the butchers, and

Gleeson said that Mrs. Arkroyd's cook had left her trades-

people's books behind her, and would I mind taking them

to her, as I lived so close; and here they are, ma'am,

and a fine tale they unfold Why, Gleeson's bill for last

week is two pounds, and you know they never dined at

home but once; and then here is Fowke, fishmonger, ten

shillings; and fifteen shillings for eggs and poultry; and

if there isn't five pounds of butter in six days, I am not

your maid Elgeth!"

 

Miss Wilson could not resist the temptation of examining

the books herself, and declared that never in her experience

had she seen anything revealing such a dreadful state of things,

and intimated that everything was charged much higher to

the Arkroyds than to herself.

 

"No doubt, ma'am; but, then, there's nobody to give

percentage to in your establishment When ladies have

nobody they can trust, they should pay their own bills."

 

"Run in with the books, and I will think what is best

to be done."

 

But it ended in Miss Wilson agreeing with Elgeth that

Mrs. Arkroyd must pay the full price for her experience,

and the principle of non-intervention (often as selfish in

private as political affairs) was decided on.

 

Yet Miss Wilson was not at ease in her own mind. She

had no sympathy with Mrs. Arkroyd, regarding her as a

vain, foolish young person, who deserved to suffer for her

wanton neglect of her home affairs. But in the heart of the

lonely old woman there arose something like a feeling of

maternal solicitude for the unfortunate husband, and although

she shrank until it was too late from giving any such

warning as might have put him on his guard against his

servants, she no longer watched the lamentable state of

affairs at Albany Villa with feelings other than those of

anxiety and pain.

 

Some months later — it was one summer evening, after she

had observed Arthur Arkroyd pacing slowly and thoughtfully

on the other side of the street, smoking a cigar — Miss

Wilson said to Elgeth:

 

"Do you not think Mr. Arkroyd looks worn and ill?"

 

"Yes, indeed, I do," replied Elgeth, "and who can wonder

with such a home as he has. Why, he is only walking up

and down there, I know, because there is no comfort for him

inside. I heard this afternoon that Mrs. Arkroyd is going

in debt everywhere, and the lady told Mrs. Benson she

knows he is fretting over money matters."

 

"What can I do? what can I do? " murmured Miss Wilson, sadly.

 

"I see no way of helping him; and, after all, if a man

does not know how to be master in his own house, who can

teach him?"

 

"Nobody, Elgeth. Still, you cannot tell how hard it is

for a man to take the reins of household government from

his wife. Indeed, if she will not hold them, he hardly can.

You might as well order the wife to manage a husband's

intricate business affairs as a husband to guide the house."

 

"What a pity it is," exclaimed Elgeth, "that young men

nowadays do not set their faces against fashionable girls.

Anybody would think they wanted toys, not wives, to see

the pretty dressed-up puppets they bring home, and just set

them up inside, and expect them to behave like live, sensible

women."

 

"It is the mothers who are to blame, Elgeth."

 

"Indeed, you are right, ma'am. It just turns my stomach

to see that Mrs. Williams driving up to the door with those

other two dolls, which she is just a setting out like princesses

to catch two other poor fellows."

 

"It's of no use for two old women like ourselves to sit

here, Elgeth, wishing things were different; but I mean to

pray, that for the sake of England's future, her daughters

may take heed in time. There is fast settling on them the

heavy reproach of uselessness and idleness, and nothing but

a return to simplicity of life and manners can wipe it away.

Then wives will not be ashamed to busy themselves in

household matters, and daughters will no longer glory in

that which is their shame — their white, small hands, which

have never been soiled by any useful work."

 

"Well," said Elgeth, "I only wish Mrs. Williams, her

daughters, and all that tribe, could hear your words, and

lay them to heart; but now, ma'am, you must let me wheel

you away."

 

"Very well — he has just gone in. Elgeth, when you

have settled me for the night, write to Mr. Hargrave, and

say I wish to see him on particular business."

Now, Mr. Hargrave was Miss Wilson's lawyer.

 

CHAPTER VII.

 

A few days after the conversation Mr. Arkroyd

had with his wife on the subject of their house-

hold expenditure, she presided at a stall at a

charity bazaar. It was her mother who had in-

stigated Lily to this, for she wished her unmarried

daughters that season to have this recognised and

licensed opportunity for husband catching, and

whilst she had the gratification of parading her success in

the case of the one already married, Lily should introduce

her sisters into this particular field with all the prestige

which attaches to a lady patroness. Lily was still very

pretty, though she looked somewhat worn now, and she

served admirably as an easy matron protector to her fresher,

if not prettier sisters, who, attired in the most elegant and

airy costumes — such as at that juncture fashion declared

the most becoming — hovered about the stall where Mrs.

Arkroyd played at shop. She, however, kept behind the

counter, having as satellites two friends who had been

thoughtfully selected as being more useful than ornamental,

and as not being sufficiently attractive to interfere with the

chances of the Misses Williams, each of whom carried a

dainty basket of flowers and ran after every gentleman they

thought likely to be victimised, offering, with the most

bewitching of smiles, to sell him a rose for half-a-crown, and,

as a further inducement, "to pin it into his coat gratis" —

this last act being invariably performed with an affectation

of shyness and sweet embarrassment Occasionally they

met with "a bear," for whom their blandishments had no

charm, at least not at the price; but they had considerable

skill in discerning their game, and when they marked it

seldom failed to bring it down.

 

After the champagne luncheon, which is usually given at

well-managed bazaars — out of the proceeds, of course — to the

stall-holders and attendant friends, the spirits of the amateur

shop-girls rose greatly, and they pushed and puffed their

wares with a persistency that would not be tolerated in their

professional sisters — such solicitation would be boldness in

them, and drive respectable customers from their stores.

But, in a good cause, what will not gentle, modest girls

venture, and in the sacred name of charity, prudent

mothers suffer them to risk ? "The end justifies the

means," they say, but what a shocking Jesuit assertion

they would call it if applied to anything but charity bazaars,

or to that ulterior object which they hardly allow to their

secret hearts. -

 

Mrs. Williams had promised Lily, when she engaged to

preside at the stall, to supply her with twenty pounds'

worth of saleable articles; add to this at least another

twenty as the cost of suitably attiring her daughters — they

could not wear the same dresses twice, and the bazaar lasted

three days, — and it will be seen that if Mrs. Williams had in

the first instance given her money to the charity she would

have saved considerably. Neither, when the bazaar was

over, and Mrs. Arkroyd handed to the committee a sum

which did not greatly exceed what had, or would have to be

expended — in returning the contributions of friends when

they held stalls, — did she consider that it would have been

more satisfactory, as well as cheaper, to have done "good

for goodness sake."

 

I wonder whether charitable young ladies could be

induced to try the experiment of disposing of their handi-

work privately to their friends and acquaintance; and

whether, if they would energetically set themselves to do

this, the alleged necessity for laying in wait for the un-

wary in public might not be obviated? I really think it

might.

 

Lily, it has been said, was looking worn at the bazaar;

she had been ailing for some time, and had been earnestly

warned by her physician to avoid all over-exertion, but to

this warning nor the loving entreaties of her husband, would

she give any heed. On the last day of the sale she was so

evidently ill, that Mr. Arkroyd said, "Lily, dear, you are

looking dreadfully worn-out; had we not better send an

excuse to Mrs. Lawrence? I am sure you are not in a fit

state to go to a party to-night"

 

"Oh, Arthur, I must go. Mamma and everybody would

be so disappointed, and I am sure it would do me more

harm to stay at home and fidget about it than to go."

Then, as usual, though against his judgment, he yielded,

but remarked as they got into the carriage, he was certain

it was madness to go; and the result proved him to be

right, for after the first dance Lily fainted and had to be

carried from the room. As soon as possible, though in a 

very suffering state, she was slowly driven home, arriving a

little after midnight, just, indeed, as Lucy and Emma, with

a party of three gentlemen and one lady to balance the

sexes, were enjoying a very substantial and convivial repast,

consisting this time of lobsters and rabbit-pie, with chicken,

sundry cold meats, and delicate preserves and pastry.

 

Hearing shouts of laughter, and seeing the whole house

illuminated, Mr. Arkroyd desired the coachman not to

knock, but let himself in noiselessly with his latch-key.

Pausing a moment at the half-open door of the dining-room,

he overheard the following choice fragment of conversation: —

 

"Well, I must say, Miss Tomkins," said the guest in

whose honour chiefly the feast was spread, "you have the

art of dressing kittens to perfection."

 

"Oh, you funny man," she lisped; " but as our poulterer

is a very respectable fellow, he might call you out if he

heard you; he warranted these as barn-door rabbits."

 

"And this 'ere chicken, I suppose, from the warren?"

 

"That would be a blacking of its character, sir; but if I

must have anything to do with such a low article, give me

Day and Martin's."

 

"Eye and Martin, did you say, miss? Hardly expected

to 'ear such language from your delicate lips."

 

"Drink to my better manners, then; this is some of our

best sherry. We ain't many bins, but what we has is, as I

heard a judge say, Duffers and Gorgons. For my own

palate I must say as I prefers a good sound XXX— you

knows what's put in it, and it's a home-grown article. Our

people, they tried to put me off with XX, but, says I to the

brewer, 'None o' your nonsense with me; you bring XXX

by mistake, or I'll vow and declare you brought it in flat,

and lose you the custom, which ain't bad for a small family.

One day, him as thinks hisself master opened his eyes

when the cask was reported running slow, and says he to

Emma, 'It do seem to me the ale goes very fast;' and

"Yes, sir,' says she, with spirit, "it do; you see we does all

the work, and has no wine," and be whipt if he didn't seem

to see it, and shut up on that subject for evermore."

 

"Yes," said Emma; "I made him ashamed of his

screwey ways. Next place I go to I do hope my mistress

won't be the master."

 

The gallant speech which followed this remark of Lucy's

was cut short by the entrance of Mr. Arkroyd, who threw

the door wide open on the festive scene, and confronted

the party, whose confusion, even at that moment of anger

and anxiety, struck him as most ludicrous. Lucy sat at the

head of the table in full toilette, and wearing more than one

article of her mistress's wardrobe. Neither had Emma

spared to adorn herself from the same source. The guests

quickly perceived that they were in the presence of the

wrathful master of the house, and apprehending danger

slunk away, whilst Emma and Lucy rapidly regained com-

posure, and, becoming equal to the occasion, awaited their

doom.

 

"What does this mean?" he demanded, angrily.

 

"We were only just having our relations to see us for

once in a way, and of course we could not but give them

something to. eat"

 

"Let that be as it may, you both leave my house to-

morrow morning; and I wonder I do not now send you off

with your relations."

 

"We are ready to go," said Lucy, speaking for both,

"when you have given us our wages and a month for

warning."

 

"I shall do no such thing."

"We shan't go unless you do."

 

Without staying to argue the matter with them, Mr.

Arkroyd returned to his wife, whose condition now so much

alarmed him that he thought it necessary to summon medical

aid, and, to his great vexation, was compelled also to re-

quire the assistance of the servants whom he had just so

contumaciously dismissed. They were, however, so sulky

and unready, that, Lily having been reported on by the doctor

as requiring the utmost care and attention, Mr. Arkroyd,

without waiting for daylight, fetched her mother, who, in her

turn, speedily secured a professional nurse, feeling herself, as

she said, "quite unequal to the responsibility of nursing her

daughter," but being really too helpless and ignorant to dare

to do so.

 

"What am I to do with these servants, Arthur?" she said,

to her distressed and bewildered son-in-law; "they have

made up their minds to defy me; Lucy said when I just

now ordered gruel that it was the nurse's place to make

it, and nurse, who is evidently an excellent creature,

declares she cannot leave her patient to attend to cooking."

 

"Well, mamma," he replied, "in such an emergency I

think I had better try my hand at it; but I will pay these

servants all demands, send them off before I go into the

City, and get in a charwoman."

 

"I see no alternative; but it's dreadful to be the victim

of charwomen."

 

"It appears we can but take our choice of the way in

which we will be victimised; let me settle with these

domestic fiends in your presence."

 

Being summoned thereto, Emma and Lucy assumed the

airs of injured innocence, and declared themselves "only

too glad to leave a house where they'd been put upon and

insulted, and their bread, which was their characters, tried to

be tooked from them. They'd nothing against Mrs. Arkroyd:

she always was the lady; but they knew somebody who called

hisself a gendeman, who did not know the ways of such."

 

In three hours from that time a charwoman was duly

installed, and Lily got her gruel; her mother had tried

to manufacture some, but, partly owing to there being

no saucepan in the house fit for such a purpose — all

being burnt and dirty — and partly to her utter ignorance,

she spoiled it.

 

A fortnight went by. Lily, though out of danger, was

still very weak; although she gave no sign, her self-reproach

at having destroyed her own hope of motherhood and her

husband's joy in the prospect, was so great as to retard her

recovery. During all this time, increased expenses, besides

the debts of which he knew, were making Mr. Arkroyd very

anxious. He was afraid in his wife's still delicate state to

say anything to her; but the case was so urgent, the

necessity so grave, that he made a painful effort to discuss

matters with Mrs. Williams. After telling her how they

stood, he said, —

 

"You know, mamma, I must not look on whilst we are

ruined."

 

"Certainly not, Arthur. I must talk to Lily, and show

her the necessity of keeping within bounds."

 

"Do; and I think it will be as well to arrange to give

her a weekly sum for her own and the expenses of the

house, and that she should feel that it is literally all we

have to spend, and that, without misery and disgrace, we

cannot exceed it"

 

"Do you think," said Mrs. Williams, anxiously, " there is

no prospect of increasing your means?"

 

"That, as you know, depends on the lives of others;

but, even if I had, I should think we ought to be able to

live comfortably on our present income."

 

"You have no idea how difficult it is to make so small an

income sufficient for comfort; poor Lily has tried her best,

but she was brought up in affluence, and has not been used

to the small economies necessary in her present position."

The tone in which Mrs. Williams said this was intended

to impress on Mr. Arkroyd the full value of the sacrifice

Lily had made in sharing his lot. It had, however, a sting

for him, the intensity of which Mrs. Williams was quite in-

capable of understanding, and he instantly and bitterly

regretted having spoken to her at all on the matter, though

with grave dignity he replied, as he rose to leave the

room, —

 

"I have not for one moment thought to complain to you

of my wife. I apologise for having intruded on you our

little troubles. Such as our lot is, Lily and I will bravely

bear it together."

 

Mrs. Williams felt that, although she was in some sort

victorious, she had purchased her triumph at the cost of

losing her son-in-law's confidence; and with a view of con-

ciliating him, she forthwith approached the difficult subject

with her daughter. Contrary to her expectations, Lily did

not shrink from the discussion, but rather seemed thankful

to enter upon it.

 

"Oh, mother!" she said, "since I have been ill, I have

considered so much how to manage better. It is dreadfully

hard to know what to do, and servants are so bad, I feel as

if I must give up altogether."

 

"That is very wrong; all you will have to do will be to

look after things more, and allow nothing to be bought

without your written order. I must say I have been sur-

prised at your tradesmen's bills, and it is clear you have

been shamefully robbed by your servants."

 

"I fear not only of money, mother; for yesterday, when

you were out, I looked over my wardrobe, and I could not

find half the things I had when I married; and some which

I have never worn are soiled and useless."

 

"This is, indeed, sad. Well, you must turn over a fresh

leaf with your new servants. Keep your things locked, and

generally have an eye to their proceedings."

 

"I intend to do so; but, you see, I trusted Emma and

Lucy, and they took advantage."

 

"I am almost tempted to say, Lily, a careless mistress

makes a bad servant, and that it is too often opportunity

which makes the thief. However, you see your mistake

now, and will be on your guard in future."

 

As Mrs. Williams talked thus, an uncomfortable conviction

filled her mind that she was in a great degree responsible for

the failure of her daughter's domestic happiness. She knew

that she had 'from infancy accustomed her to an extravagant

scale of expenditure, and that she could not know how to

accommodate herself to any other; knew, too, she had sent

her perfectly uninstructed upon a new and difficult path, and

given her no kind of finger-posts to guide her to the end.

She had thought, it is true, that knowing what her income

was, Lily would learn to manage it, and that the science of

housekeeping on moderate means would come by a sort of

inspiration. By way of reparation for this neglect of a

mother's first duty, and as a solace to her own conscience,

she procured the money from Mr. Williams to pay the bills

Lily so dreaded her husband should see, never, however,

considering from what an ocean of misery she was drawing

to supply her daughter's need.

 

Mr. Arkroyd went his way, after the conversation with

Mrs. Williams, even sadder than he had been of late. His

money affairs harassed him terribly, and he resolved, at all

cost and risk, to set himself straight with the world, and

then rigidly apportion his, or, rather, his wife's, expenditure

to his means. Acting on this resolution, he sold some

property which brought him in twenty-five pounds a year,

so that thenceforward they would have so much less yearly

income; and it became clear to him that it would be impos-

sible, with prudence, to remain in their present residence, or

to keep two expensive servants. All this, with his wonted

gentleness and tender consideration for his wife's feelings, he

broke to her. She was perfectly submissive, and fell in with

all his views without offering an opinion, or, indeed, seeming

greatly to care what arrangements he made, for the resolu-

tions formed during her illness had vanished with con-

valescence. She studiously avoided all reference to the

proposed change in their mode of life, and left her husband

in everything to take the initiative. As time drew on, and

it became necessary to consider the removal, he asked her,

"Where did she think she should like to reside?" and she

answered, listlessly, " Oh, anywhere."

"But that, literally, is nowhere," he replied, trying to rally

her. "The necessity of choosing a less expensive neigh-

bourhood will oblige us to be thoughtful, and then we must

have a smaller house than this."

 

"I tell you," she again replied, in the same miserable

tone, "I don't care."

 

"Now, Lily, dear, do let us consult reasonably together."

 

"I cannot see what there is to consult about; you have

arranged it all," she said, moodily.

 

Thus she wore away the patience of the husband's loving

heart foiled in her first attempts to follow her own selfish

will and way, and too weak voluntarily to make any effort to

repair her past errors, she sank into indifference, which is

generally more irritating to a husband than angry dissent

 

"Well, my dear," he said, with more asperity than she

had ever yet heard in his tone, "it comes to this, that if you

have no will in the matter, I must perforce decide alone."

 

"Do; since we must leave Albany Villa, and live in some

vulgar district, it is all the same to me."

 

"Oh, my wife!" he said, a sudden burst of grief and dis-

appointment taking the place of his momentary resentment,

"if you knew the pain you give me by your want of interest

in what should be our mutual plans, you would spare me!"

 

As the wailing tone of his voice struck on her ear, she

looked up, and saw that his brow was contracted as by a

spasm of pain, and for the first time observed the saddened

expression of the countenance once lighted with a serene

happiness; and there came upon her a conviction, as keen

as sudden, that he had indeed suffered for her sake, — how

much she never knew, for men are reticent about their feel-

ings, even to their dearest Lily was naturally affectionate,

but disappointment and failure, and a dread of the narrower

style of living in -which she felt they must embark, had

soured her nature, and rendered her insensible to tenderness

and love; but now remorse fell on her almost too sharply to

be borne, and, with a burst of passionate tears, she flung

herself on her husband's breast, and implored his forgive-

ness. " Oh, bear with me," she cried; "it is all so hard; I

know nothing that is necessary for me now, and all seems to

go against me."

 

"There, there, my dear love," he said, the old tenderness

renewed by her tears and contrition, "only be cheerful, and

all will be right" And then for a time he soothed her like

the child she was, and she earnestly promised to "try and

be good for the future." "And now," he said, "will you

put on your bonnet, and go out with me?"

 

"To Highgate?" she said, as if to atone for past in-

difference.

 

"I think it would be well to try that locality. Shall we

call and ask Mrs. Fenton if she knows of a house likely to

suit?"

 

Lily always felt a kind of grudge against Janet on account

of her superior example, and for a moment, even in her

penitence, seemed disposed to be rebellious, and say,

"Surely they could manage without her;" but she conquered

the inclination now, and, assenting, they set forth together.

 

"How delighted I am to see you," exclaimed Mrs. Fenton,

" and just in time for tea, and to see baby before she goes to bed."

 

"I am sure we are lucky people," replied Mr. Arkroyd

 

"for we ran up quite on business, and it seems we shall

combine pleasure with it We are house-hunting, Mrs.

Fenton."

 

"You must give that up for this evening, and come earlier

to-morrow, or as soon as you can. There are new houses

springing up in all directions, but ten to one if you would

find anybody to show you over them, or even let you in, at

so late an hour as this."

 

So it was decided they should take Mrs. Fenton's advice,

and remain to pass the evening with them. Lily's wretched-

ness reached its climax as she watched her husband's delight

in the little child, for she knew that, but for her own folly,

she would now be hoping to be a happy mother, and she

felt the neatness, brightness, and order of her cousin's

home — even with this new charge — to be a reproach to her.

 

If a visitor came in unexpectedly at Albany Villa, there

was always immense difficulty in getting any little refresh-

ment, and. a cup of tea could not possibly be had under an

hour. Boiling the kettle appeared in that establishment to

be an undertaking of considerable magnitude, and, when ac-

complished, the water not unfrequently acquired a fine

aroma of smoke. Sometimes, too, there was no milk — the

baker had not called, or the butterman had forgotten orders,

and the distracted maid had, as she expressed it, to "be

everlastingly fetching errands."

 

Lily looked furtively at her husband when Mrs. Fenton

said to her servant, "Sarah, some tea immediately; Mr.

and Mrs. Arkroyd will take it with us," — the order being

promptly and well executed — and she thought he was

dwelling on the contrast. The old feeling of jealousy

towards Janet was powerfully aroused as Lily noted Arthur's

enjoyment of the home-baked bread, the potted meat, and

the crisp, delicate cakes. "I never get such nice things

elsewhere," he said; " you are a most accomplished house-

keeper, Mrs. Fenton."

  

"Now, Arkroyd, do not flatter my wife," exclaimed Mr.

Fenton; "she has put upon me dreadfully since baby came."

 

"He knows, Arthur," she said, smiling, "I am sensitive

on that point, and he is trying to hurt my feelings in public ;

but I shall take my revenge by telling you, I dare not

neglect him if I had a dozen babies, for I find that the way

to his heart, as a dreadful old proverb says, is through the

stomach, and he would be cutting off the supplies, or pinch-

ing baby, if he did not have everything he fancied."

 

" Yes I should, ma'am ; how is a man to be amiable and

generous when his digestion is all wrong? Depend upon it,

my dear Mrs. Arkroyd, Janet's theory of feeding a husband

is founded on selfish considerations."

 

"I rather think she spoils you," replied Lily, in a tone

which was so unpleasant as to cause a momentary silence in

the little party; but Janet, with her usual kindness and care

for the feelings of others, created a diversion by asking for

the bell to be rung, and then the conversation changed.

 

When the ladies went upstairs to see the little one put to

bed, Lily made an attempt to open her heart to her cousin,

and seek her advice. "Oh, Janet," she said, " how happy

you seem; and I am so miserable just now — so harassed,

too."

 

"You will get over that, dear, as you regain your strength."

 

"I hope I may, but it is this struggle with genteel poverty

that is wearing me out"

 

"Genteel poverty!" exclaimed Janet, in a distressed tone.

"But, my dear, you are much better off than we are at

present."

 

"Are we? Well, I cannot call it anything else for all

that I cannot provide for the house properly; and however

you manage as you do is a mystery to me. You keep

two servants now, I suppose?"

 

"Yes, besides Sarah, a young girl as general help — to sew

and mind baby, and so on."

 

"But is she not a great plague? I have always under-

stood 'raws' were more trouble than they were worth."

 

"Well, she requires a good deal of looking after and

instruction; but she is a very respectable, good girl, and I

hope, and indeed expect, she will repay me for my trouble

by and by."

 

"You might as well have a training-school, Janet"

 

She laughed, and said, "You see we cannot afford ex-

perienced servants. If I get older girls at small wages

they have some drawback either in health or character, and

will not submit to orders as younger ones; and besides that,

as a matter of economy I take young servants, I really

prefer it."

 

"As soon as you have taught them they will leave you."

 

"Probably.''

 

"How easily you take things."

 

"It would not mend matters to anticipate trouble and

failure. If these girls go I must teach others, and so on to

the end of the chapter."

 

"But do you not feel very much worried when they go

away?"

 

"Yes, it worries me of course; and I am often much

puzzled to meet their class prejudices and to be kind with-

out spoiling; to make them feel as one of the family, and

yet remain respectful and mindful of their position. I think

it is a great thing if one can gain the affections of a servant"

 

"I never knew they had any," exclaimed Lily.

 

"Ah! your experience has been so unfortunate, and mine

up to this point rather the reverse; still I hope you will not

condemn all for the faults of the many. Whilst I quite

admit that female domestic servants are, as a class, perhaps

the most selfish and ungrateful of any, we must remember

what influences have made them so. How the bitter feeling

of being only cared for as they are of use, of being over-

worked, sacrifices of all sorts — even of natural affection —

too often demanded as a right, privileges given grudgingly,

no allowance made for weariness or the quickness of temper

occasioned by the incessant and often unreasonable demands

made upon them, have hardened and rendered them less

accessible to affectionate influence than those who all their

lives have been tenderly cared for. Then we must allow for the

way in which they have been brought up, and not expect in

them the delicacy of feeling of those whose education and

nurture have tended to elevate and refine."

 

"Ah! quite true; but I have no patience to go into cause

and effect; I believe it is of no use. Many of my friends

say the whole race of servants has become so bad and

corrupt that kindness is quite thrown away on them, and

that the only way to get on with them at all is to treat

them as necessary evils."

 

"I do not agree with them, and such sentiments are not,

I think, either Christian or moral, or likely to lessen the

growing difficulties. To be plain, Lily, it is my settled con-

viction that reformation must begin with the mistresses ere it

can be carried on among servants. We must show ourselves

equal to self-sacrifice and devoted domestic lives, and see

that our example be such as they may follow; and I really

think we must look at home and consider whether many

existing evils may not be traced to our negligence and

ignorance."

 

"Ignorance ? "

 

"Yes, for if servants find us thoroughly practical, they

recognise our independence and respect our power to rule.

But if they see that a mistress is ignorant of the way to do

things, they despise her, and after their manner tyrannise

over her."

 

"Well, Janet, if your theory is correct, we must all be

educated for servants. If it has pleased God to place me

in a position to be a mistress, and another to be a servant,

I say it is as much her duty as mine to remember her

catechism."

 

"Certainly, but there begins the difficulty. What is your

duty in that state of life to which it has pleased God to call

you?"

 

"It is my duty to order, that of the other to obey," said

Lily, in a defiant tone.

 

"Certainly. Again, my dear, the question is, can you, in

these days, when equality is becoming a principle infecting

all the lower classes, enforce obedience as a matter of duty?

It is rather a question of expediency now, and this demands

that in addition to education for our proper sphere, we

should be thoroughly and practically acquainted with every

detail of domestic management. Depend upon it, know-

ledge in this, as in other things, is power. I believe the

reason why men succeed better in all the callings of life

than women is, that before they set up to be masters they

serve an apprenticeship."

 

"Do you mean to say that Lord Milsom, for instance,

learned to be a valet before he employed one? Because I

think that it would be much the same thing as my learning

cooking before I keep a cook."

 

"The two cases have no parallel. No doubt, however,

Lord Milsom has learned to dress himself, and at a pinch

could very well dispense with his valet. But you know we

are not arguing what may or may not be fitting or necessary

for people of rank and wealth, but how those in our position

of life are to manage to procure service at all. And, again,

I must declare my conviction that it is only to be done by a

close and diligent attention to every detail of household

work, and by a practical acquaintance with the proper man-

ner of doing even the meanest part of it I think all

mistresses of the middle class, or rather those who have but

small incomes, must be content to stay more at home than

is now the fashion, both, for the sake of example and because

of the constant personal supervision which those who would

have things go smoothly must exercise. And in the matter

of dress too, there is need of reform. Nor can we complain

that servants spend all their wages in finery, and attire

themselves in a manner inconsistent with their station, when

they see us too often pinching the household, stingy

in trifles, or, what is worse, incurring debt, that we may

have our vanity gratified by appearing always in the

fashion!"

 

"You will think me obstinate as well as ignorant, yet I

declare I do not at all allow your argument to be good. I

cannot see why if I pay for service I should not obtain it,

exactly as I get groceries or any other article of merchandise.

Pray, why am I to look after servants who, I repeat, are

paid to do their work, any more than Lady Milsom looks

after her housekeeper, whom she pays to manage her house-

hold for her?"

 

"My dear, the root of all the mischief lies in the very

fact that Lady Milsom and other great ladies have become

too fine to look after or trouble themselves about even the

morals of their domestics; they hardly or ever know the

faces of their under-servants, heed when or why they come

and go, but delegate their whole authority to one who too

often is either unworthy or unfit for the task. The result

is that great houses are often the centres of vice, and

many a lady would tremble if she could but know of the

orgies carried on in her Belgravian mansion, while she

moves with stately grace at a court ball. It is fearful to

know it to be a fact that immorality, extravagance, waste,

and theft reign unchecked, at least during the London

season, and that it is quite impossible to take a servant from

one of the great houses into a family of moderate means,

the example and style of living she has been accustomed to

having quite demoralised her."

 

"This being the case, Janet, is it riot useless for us to set

about being reformers? Must we not first make our 'betters'

better?"

 

"That would be beyond our power; but we can, at least,

if only in self-defence and for the sake of our children,

endeavour to stem the tide of evil and mischief."

 

"If we all were as clever as you, Janet, we should soon

bring about a revolution."

 

"You are mistaken; I am not clever, Lily," replied Mrs.

Fenton, with the slightest possible irritation in her tone;

"only, I set my mind to do the very best circumstances

allow. Oh! my dear, the constant remembrance of the

precept, 'Whatsoever thine hand findeth to do, do it with all

thy might,' will help more than all the cleverness of a dozen

clever women. But now I really think we must go to our

husbands."

 

CHAPTER VIII.

 

Think, Anne," said Mr. Williams, to his wife,

"I should like to go down to Seatown with you

for a week or so."

 

"Why, Fred," she exclaimed, "what has come

 to you? I think this is about the first time in all

 our married life you have ever proposed to take

 me out"

 

"Perhaps I never felt so much to need a change as now.

I am worried and out of sorts, and it will do me good."

 

"I hope it will, and shall be delighted to go with you."

(Mrs. Williams always was delighted to go away from home,

she thought it fine and fashionable.) "Shall we take the

girls?"

 

"By all means, and the servants too."

"The servants?"

 

"Yes, all but one or two to stay here. I should like to

manage so that we can remain at Seatown some time, if

necessary."

 

"What! in the height of the London season? The girls

would go mad."

 

"I hope," he said, in a tone of much solemnity, "no

worse calamity will ever fall upon them. Believe me, Anne,

I have weighty reasons for wishing things to be done in this

instance exactly as I say. I do not wish to distress you,

but I may never ask another favour at your hands, so grant

me this now, and let us all go to-morrow and take all your

plate and valuables."

 

"Good heavens! my dear, what is the matter? Are you

very ill, or is anything wrong with the company?"

 

"I believe I am very ill, Anne; that I have a serious

disease, and, in case of accident, I wish all due precautions

taken."

 

"They shall be; but oh! do not look in that dreadful

manner." He made no answer, but turned away with a

heart-broken sigh, which she remembered whilst she lived.

 

They all went to Seatown the next day, the girls pouting

and wretched, the servants wondering and disagreeable, and

Mrs. Williams cross with herself and everybody. Mr. Williams

had apparently recovered his cheerfulness, and for the time

his wife forgot the shock his manner had so lately given her.

 

The morning after their arrival at Seatown, Mr. Williams

received a telegram requesting his immediate return to

town. He declared it was very vexatious he could not

have even a day to himself, but at once obeyed the

summons, promising to return "the day after to-morrow."

 

Mr. Williams travelled to town with several City men.

To them he complained of neuralgia in the head, and said

nothing relieved him but morphia. Arrived in London, he

drove direct to his daughter's. Mrs. Arkroyd was out, and

although she did not return for several hours he waited for

her. Lily was fond of her father — she was his favourite

child — and it was with great delight she welcomed him.

She felt, however, that there was something very unusual in

his visit. It was prolonged till within a few minutes of the

time she expected her husband's return, and yet she could

not persuade her father to remain to see him. Once he

went to the door and returned, and for the second time

embraced his daughter, and his last words to her, in a tone

of pain, were, " Lily, my dear, I hope you will never need

morphia to relieve neuralgia, as I do."

 

"I am anxious about papa," Lily said to her husband

when he came in."

 

"Ah, my dear," he said sadly, " I have known for some

time that he has fearful anxieties; but it was of no use to

distress you, It is something awful to watch the lives men

are leading in the City now. I can think of nothing but

wolves as I see their faces on 'Change and in the markets. I

declare I would rather live on a crust than be one of them."

"Would you?" she said. "I have often thought how

much better it would be if you were a merchant of some

sort, with opportunities of getting rich, rather than an official

in a law-court, with such distant chances of promotion."

 

"You would not have entertained such a thought for a

moment, my dear, could you but have known one half the

men who are making haste to be rich have to contend with ;

how much of conscience and principle to sacrifice. And,

with a touch of bitterness, he added, "I am afraid wives do

not enough lay these things to heart, and exert their

influence in the cause of honesty and integrity."

 

"Well," she said, "I do not see that it is our business to

inquire how money is obtained, so that we get it"

 

If any woman save the wife he loved had said that, how

he would have scorned her! As it was he kept silence,

wishing she would think more deeply.

 

In the middle of that night Lily awoke from sleep, shrieking

to her husband for help. She said her father was calling

to her to save him from falling from a rock, and that some-

thing held her back. Long after he had soothed her to

rest, Arthur Arkroyd lay thinking of the peril in which he

knew Mr. Williams to be placed, feeling that his wife's

dream was ominous of coming trouble, and he awoke the

next morning with a sense of depression for which he could

hardly account. Apprehension of evil, however, was soon

put to flight by its terrible reality, for he had just seated

himself at the solitary breakfast — Lily, as usual, was not

down — when the door was thrown violently open, and one

of Mr. Williams' servants rushed in. "Come, come," she

cried frantically, "master "

 

"Tell me, what is it?"

 

"Come!" was all the poor thing could utter, and she

pointed to the street where the cab waited.

 

"I must go to my wife," he said. As he entered her

room, his white face and agitated manner so terrified her,

that she sprang out of bed and shrieked wildly.

 

"My dear," he said, "Charlotte has come to fetch me.

Your father is ill."

 

"Come, come!" cried Charlotte from below.

 

All disrobed as she was, Lily sprang past her husband,

and, darting into the hall, caught hold of Charlotte, and

then fell down fainting.

 

"Never mind her, sir," said Charlotte, restored to her

power of speech by this fresh complication. "You must

come instantly. She will soon recover under your servants' care."

 

"I cannot leave her; tell me all"

 

"The master has taken poison!"

 

In a moment he sprang into the cab, but haste was of no

avail then, for when he arrived at Carron House the doctor

had pronounced life to be extinct. Every means had been

used in the brief time that had passed since the discovery

of Mr. Williams's condition, but without effect — so many

hours had gone by since he swallowed the fatal dose.

 

He had retired to bed early, telling Charlotte the neuralgia

in his head was almost unbearable; that he feared he should

get no sleep, but he would breakfast at nine o'clock in the

morning as usual. Hot water was taken to him at eight,

when the servant, getting no reply to her reiterated knock-

ings, became alarmed, summoned assistance, and had the

door broken open. Except for the loudness of the breath-

ing, they would have thought him in a heavy sleep, but

when all efforts to rouse him proved fruitless, and the

almost empty bottle of morphia was observed on his toilet-

table, the women in alarm and horror fled from the house,

one to seek the nearest doctor, the other to summon Mr.

Arkroyd.

 

"It is a terrible accident" whispered the doctor to Mr.

Arkroyd, "tell everybody so. We must protect the family."

 

"Accidental death," was the merciful verdict of the

coroner's jury, and the cold and curious world, whilst it

doubted, said it was very glad, for the sake of the family,

there was no suspicion of suicide to add more anguish to

the sudden and heavy loss.

 

Mr. Arkroyd, on finding all hope gone, returned to his

wife, who had not so far recovered from her fainting fit as to

be able to stand. The rigid look of horror which had come

on his face as he saw her poor father in his death sleep had

not passed from it when he entered the room in which she

was lying.

 

"Do not say it," she cried wildly, as she looked up into

his face, whereon the tale she dreaded to hear was so

plainly written;" do not say he took poison!"

 

"By mistake, love," he said gently.

 

"Oh no, oh no; he was driven to it! I know he could

not bear his troubles any longer. My darling father, we

have murdered you. O God, forgive us!"

 

Then Lily fell into terrible fits of screaming and hysterics,

and it was not until far into the night, and she was utterly

exhausted, that they were overcome.

 

Meanwhile Mrs. Williams had returned to her desolate

home. She was outwardly more calm than her daughter,

and all her thoughts and energies were at once directed to

ascertain what business troubles had prompted this rash act.

For she never for a moment doubted that it was premedi-

tated, or that all the precautions and the journey to Seatown

had been taken to give it the appearance of accident. Of

course she was silent about this her conviction, but oh!

how in the stillness of the first awful night, in the house

with her dead, did she moan to herself, "If I had but been

wise in time, had cared less for show, had not wanted so

much from him, I might not now be desolate, and what will

the world be to me or the children when we have nothing to

give it?"

 

It was not long before the shattered condition of Mr. Williams's

affairs was understood by the world at large, and then came

the sad revelation that not only was he bankrupt,

but dishonoured, his death alone preventing the public dis-

closure of acts which, although termed legal frauds, for

which he and others might have been called to account

before a criminal court, were regarded almost with com-

miseration in certain circles of the commercial world (with

that fellow-feeling which makes one kind), and by all but the

victims and sufferers largely excused. Much sympathy was

felt for the widow and her family. " Poor things, it was not

their fault; how could they know anything of his manner of

doing business? It was terrible that they should have to suffer

for his misdoings,' and so on. It was soon ascertained that

but for the forbearance of creditors, and the charity of some

few wealthy persons who had known her in prosperity, Mrs.

Williams must be penniless. Mr. Heath, with true generosity,

added a thousand pounds to the fund raised for her

 

 

 

WIVES AND HOUSEWIVES. 71

 

benefit, and by great exertions a yearly income of two

hundred pounds was secured to her and her children.

"Penury," she sighed, when this result was made known to

her. Yes, indeed, to penury had she come; she, whose

life-long striving it had been to climb into the highest places

of wealth and fashion, whose blind devotion to this one aim

had led her to sacrifice her husband's peace, and driven him

at last to end his self-reproach by death. There was nothing

in her downfall she felt more keenly than the necessity of

accepting charity from those persons of assured means and

position with whom she had constantly vied, from others

whom she had knowingly wronged, and from a relative

whose prudence she had been wont to call meanness.

 

She went forth with veiled face from the splendid house;

no carriage nor footman waited for her now, but a hired

vehicle, with shabby appointments, whilst the contents of

a few trunks and packages were all she could call her

own. Behind her she left the gilding and the luxury she

had so dearly bought, and turned away from it with a sense

of guilt upon her soul greater than all her loss. She went

forth, covering, indeed, the woeful face from the curious gaze

of those who, even in the twilight, watched this humiliating

departure; but from herself no veil could hide her remorseful

misery, her utter degradation and despair.

 

CHAPTER IX.

 

The sudden trouble which had fallen on Lily pre-

vented, for a time, all mention of the unpleasant

subject of removal from Albany Villa. Some

months had gone by since Mr. Williams ended

at once his troubles and his life, but still his

widow had no plan of action either for her own

future or that of her unmarried daughters. She

had gone direct from the scene of her triumphs and her fall

to Mr. Arkroyd's house, and there from month to month

had lingered. Lily had settled down into a kind of in-

validism; "The nerves," the doctor said, "were shaken."

What would many modem physicians do if a law were

passed forbidding imaginary ills to be charged to those same

nerves, and obliging them under heavy pains and penalties

to prescribe to every woman so afflicted the active discharge

of domestic duties, and in very severe cases some scrubbing

and rubbing to boot?

 

The state of her health, Lily thought, made a valid excuse

both for declaring she could not do without her mother and

for delaying the dreaded removal from Albany Villa. Sorely

troubled by the unsettled state of his domestic affairs, by

the idle, luxurious habits of his mother- and sisters-in-law

as well as by the miserable conviction that he still lived be-

yond his income, Mr. Arkroyd now and again was driven

to discuss unpleasant subjects with his wife. But she

skilfully managed, by one plea and another, to delay

making any definite arrangements. Meanwhile the shadows

on his face deepened, and a settled cloud of anxiety

gathered over his whole bearing, till at length a kind of

hardness came upon him and his gentle affectionate heart

was steeled to coldness. The mourning of the family of

course prevented party-going, and although visitors were still

very numerous, there were no regular entertainments at home,

but he came as usual to the ill-cooked, ill-served dinner.

Always polite to his wife and lady relatives, he was yet

moody and silent, and when the weather was not positively

bad, strolled out every evening, pacing up and down, enjoy-

ing, as best he might, his cigar and his thoughts. Anything

was better to him than the constant contemplation indoors

of the discomfort and disorder of his menage.

 

At length Lily perceived signs on the part of her husband

that he would be trifled with no longer; and still forgetting

that his comfort and happiness should be her first con-

sideration, and that his will should be law, because of her

love, made to him a proposal, long ago decided on by her

mother and herself. She knew it would be distasteful to

him, yet she did not heed.

 

"You know," she pleaded, "this house is quite large

enough for us all, and if mamma pays us at the rate of a

hundred pounds a year we can live here in better style, and

have less anxiety about expenses."

 

"You forget," he said, "that on that sum we should have

three more persons to provide for; and so far from per-

mitting more liberal housekeeping, it would necessitate even

closer economy."

 

"I do not see how mamma could afford to pay more; and

then you must consider one or the other would generally be

away visiting."

 

"My dear, if you did but know how utterly wretched our

present manner of life makes me, how contrary it is to all

my notions of domestic happiness, you would not urge this.

It seldom answers for a mother to live with a married

daughter. I do not believe this plan would bring comfort

or happiness to any of us."

 

"Whatever it might do to you," she answered coldly, "it

would be everything to me in my present state of health to

have dear mamma with me; and I am sure I thought you

professed to have a brother's love for Ada and Minnie."

 

"Shall we ever understand one another?" he said, bitterly.

"Lily, I must be firm in this, whatever it costs, for my first

duty is to ourselves. We cannot afford to fall in with the

proposed arrangement, and, besides, I can see plainly that

to do so would only be to make matters worse than they

have been."

 

Lily rose to her feet trembling with passion. It was the

first time he had seen her thus; the first time, indeed, in all

his life that he beheld a woman, a weak and tender woman,

transformed into a fury. It was a sight that would have

moved him once, have amazed and grieved him; but now,

alas! the anchor of confidence in the beauty of the feminine

character had drifted hopelessly away, and he could not be

surprised at any new manifestation of folly or temper.

 

"I have heard," Lily almost screamed, "of men who beat

their wives, of some even who murdered them; but now I

see one who can look on coldly whilst he breaks the heart of

the woman he even yet pretends to love."

 

Was it indeed the loving husband, of even a year ago,

who stood there, rather with curiosity watching this new

phenomenon, than seriously affected by it? Was this the

doting husband who strove to soften every trouble, to

mitigate every pain, who stood there with folded arms calmly

waiting for that foolish passion to be spent?

 

He wisely poured no oil upon the flame, but left it to exhaust

itself naturally, and when, after one more shriek and

stamp of the foot,. one more violent denunciation of her

husband's cruelty, Lily sank down sobbing hysterically, he

turned, with how sore and wounded a heart none might

know, and left her presence.

 

During all that day Mr. Arkroyd laboured under great

depression of spirits, so great indeed as to prevent his taking

any refreshment. At the close of office hours he sadly and

wearily wended his way homewards, meditating on what

was his best course of action. "I cannot make her life

miserable; it is fitter I should suffer than she," he thought;

"but how much better it would have been for both of us if

she had but been brought up to understand the duties of a

wife, mother, and mistress! As I chose her, and as I love

her better than my own life, from this time forward I will try

to soothe and comfort her." But how to do it consistently

with prudence he felt to be a question he could not solve,

and he only saw his way to yield acceptance of his mother-

and sisters-in-law as inmates of his house, through a mist of

doubt, anxiety, and fear. Arrived at length at his own

door, the last of an over-worked series of maids-of-all-work

— he had since the first signal failure insisted on dispensing

with a housemaid, not knowing that a charwoman con-

stantly in the house cost much more — opened it to him.

She flung aside her grimy apron as she let her master in,

and thrust her still more grimy hands behind her as she

stood to answer his questions.

 

"What time is dinner, Ellen? "

 

"None ain't ordered, sir."

 

"How is that?"

"Mistress hasn't come down all day. Doctor's been —

says her nerves must not be agitated," said the girl, with a

significance in her tone which sorely annoyed the unfortunate

husband.

 

"Is her mother with her? " he asked.

 

"Not now, sir; she went out about an hour ago."

 

He passed along the hall on his way to his wife, and as

he did so he glanced into the dining-room. On the table

stood what was evidently the remains of Mrs. Williams's

luncheon. The fire had gone out, periodicals and news-

papers were strewn here and there, and those irritating

articles of modern device, antimacassars, lay crumpled up on

the dim and dusty furniture — the polish was only just suffi-

cient now to show finger marks and scratches. The drawing-

room door was open. Into that he also looked. The fire

had gone out there, too, and litters of all sorts were strewn

about; the chintz was all soiled and crumpled, the steel

fender rusted, the looking-glasses dull for want of polishing,

the lamp shades greasy and cracked; the lately resplendent

gilding all tarnished, and showing chips and fractures typical

of the injury to his hope, which had been done since it was

new. He was familiar enough now with the sight of house-

hold dirt and untidiness; yet, nevertheless, being unusually

tired and dejected, it added to his sense of unhappiness.

 

"Lily," he said, as he approached the bed where his wife

lay, "what is the matter?"

 

No answer.

 

He bent over her, took her hand in his, saying, —

 

"My dearest, what ails you?"

 

A sob.

 

A similar pressure of the hand, and a still more tender

inquiry.

 

"Leave me," she replied, again sobbing, with that tendency

to hysterics which he at once recognised and dreaded.

 

"What am I to do?" he said, in a despairing tone.

"Ellen says Dr. Browne has been with you; I did not

think you were ill when I went out this morning."

 

"You don't care; you don't care what I suffer."

 

"God knows," he said, solemnly, "I would save you from

suffering if I could. My darling, let nothing come between

us— let"

 

"There," she said, with much vehemence, considering

her invalid state, "actions speak louder than words; it is

easy to protest. I wish you would leave me. Dr. Browne

has ordered me to keep quiet"

 

Mr. Arkroyd hesitated a moment, making up his mind by

a final effort to purchase present peace, at the cost of he

knew not how much in the future, and at length he said, —

 

"To show you, Lily, that I value your happiness above

my own, if you still wish it, I assent to the proposition you

made this morning."

 

She knew, weak creature though she was, that hers was the

stronger power, and that it would come to this; but yet had

not expected so speedy a surrender. Concealing her satis-

faction, she muttered, "Oh, pray don't make any sacrifice

of feeling for me. I cannot forget your cruelty this morning.

 

"Was I cruel, little one? Well, I did not intend to be.

So forget and forgive, my dear."

 

"It is not so easy to forget as to forgive."

 

"Easier, I think. So there, we will consider all settled,

and get up our spirits again."

 

"Mamma has gone out to look for lodgings."

 

"In that case," he said, catching at this last straw of

hope —

 

"But she will not have settled on anything. I entreated

her to wait a day or two; but she was so hurt I could not

prevent her going to seek something to suit her."

 

"Well, then; there is no great harm done."

 

"Yes, there is. You have wounded our feelings."

 

"I will do my best to repair that mischief." So saying,

and having tenderly kissed his now satisfied wife, Mr. Ark-

royd went downstairs, and inquired of Ellen for some food.

 

"There's not a scrap in the, house, sir."

 

"Can't you get me a chop?"

 

"I can, but I ain't got a fire as'll cook it."

 

"Boil me some eggs, then."

 

"They won't boil; they busts in the water."

 

"Then I will wait until you can cook a chop; but first

make the room tidy and light the fire."

 

Ellen banged about, rather making believe to obey his

behests than doing so. She whisked the ashes under the

grate, then placed a few damp sticks beneath some coals,

and, having applied a match thereto, left the room with the

manner of one who expected a fire to result from her un-

scientific efforts. Mr. Arkroyd looked on, and when she

had gone, applied bits of paper and matches, affectionately

coaxing the fire to burn, but it sulkily resisted him; and when

he heard that Ellen had ceased from banging— that being her

frequent method of showing disapprobation of orders — and

gone out for the chop, he stooped and removed the whole

arrangement of coals and sticks, and, going downstairs,

chopped up some dry wood, and having much blackened

his hands in the readjustment of the coals, there came a

visitor's knock at the door! His first act was frantically to

rush into the kitchen to remove the evidences of his guilty

practices; but no soap could he find, and the candle Ellen

had left guttering on the table had gone out, effectually

preventing further research; so he had to answer the second,

though more impatient knock, with his hands still begrimed.

It will easily be imagined that it was with a sense of extreme

humiliation he opened the door to some old friends of his

family, who, being on a visit to London, would not leave

without seeing him, and had purposely called after office

hours, hoping to find him at home. Mr. Arkroyd welcomed

his guests with such ardour as a man so uncomfortably

situated and, besides, almost faint for want of food might, and

led them to the scene of his unsuccessful pyrotechnic efforts.

After a while, hearing Ellen return to her banging, he

begged to be excused, and hurrying into the kitchen, he

postponed the chop, and desired a cake to be procured

from the nearest pastrycook's, some wine-glasses brought,

and then that another attempt might be made to relight the

fire. Ellen was dreadfully sulky at being sent on this last

errand. Nobody liked running out better than herself, but

she chose to consider the being sent as the grievance, there-

fore she did not hasten her steps, and half an hour elapsed

before the cake and smeared wine-glasses made their

appearance. Twice during this interval Mr. Arkroyd had

to answer the door, and finally again to leave his guests to

get some wine from the cellar.

 

He could not but feel greatly relieved when the lady

considerately said that as Mrs. Arkroyd was ill they would

not prolong their stay that evening.

 

"Then will you dine with us to-morrow?" he asked; and,

with even a greater sense of relief, accepted from them an

excuse, for they would have carried but sorry accounts of

their entertainment, and he was sensitive about his domestic

failures being proclaimed in the circle in which he had

grown to manhood.

 

Being once more alone, Mr. Arkroyd went to his wife, to

see what she would take for her supper. To his surprise

he found her dressed and ready to descend, for Lily, having

gained her point, suddenly revived, and being very tired of

lying in bed, declared she could not sleep unless she rose

for an hour or so. Only too glad to see this effect of his

concession, Mr. Arkroyd affectionately conducted her to the

dining-room, and then discussed the all-important topic,

"What could she eat?"

 

"Nothing!"

 

"Oh, yes; she must have something: what could she

fancy?"

 

"Oysters."

 

"Yes; Ellen should run for some."

 

Not one word did he say about his own long-felt hunger and

exhaustion, until after waiting a weary while the preparations

for her meal were concluded, and he was able to ask for his

own chop. Even with his dire need of food the untempting

morsel required a sea of Worcester sauce to make it

eatable. Such a greasy, blackened, underdone chop could

hardly have been eaten by anyone less accustomed to be

thankful for anything he could get in his own house. The

meal was scarcely ended when Mrs. Williams and Ada came

in — Minnie was absent on a visit — and it then became a

grave subject of consultation what they should have for

supper. If eggs would not boil they would fry, Mrs.

Williams decided, so Ellen set to work to produce an

elegant dish of bacon and eggs, and, by way of showing her

sense of injury at having to do it, upset one lot in the fire,

thereby regaling the noses in the dining-room with a choice

smell of scorched fat

 

"Drat it," she muttered, "if it had set the chimbley a-fire

and misses in 'styricks' I should not 'a been sorry. It's

enough to wear the heart of a stone, and I'll give notice

to-morrow."

 

Which she accordingly did.

 

CHAPTER X.

 

"Have been to see sister Williaims to-day," said

Mrs. Heath to her husband. " They are all sixes

and sevens at Albany Villa — no servant, and Lily

poorly, so I have invited Ada to stay here for two

or three months. She is a sweet girl, but deplorably

ignorant of all domestic matters, and I think and

hope we may do Her some good."

 

"Well, love," replied Mr. Heath, " I share in that hope.

But have you considered that one of the lads may possibly

become attached to our pretty niece."

"I cannot calmly contemplate such a possibility," replied

Mrs. Heath. "You know I disapprove of the way in which

she has been brought up; it is bearing fruit now, for her ideas

befit the position of a duchess. But I have boundless con-

fidence in our boys. They have sound judgment, and if

they could not withstand temptation within the home, how

could they without it? I am prepared to run all risks."

 

" Yes, I too have confidence in them, but you know-how

often both sound judgment and reason are put to flight by

the witchery of a pretty face."

 

"I know they are; but I think both Edward and Ernest

have learned to appreciate the higher qualities in woman, to

value domestic virtues before beauty, showy accomplishments,

or any other advantage, and I am not afraid in bringing Ada

here that they will be enslaved by her pretty face."

 

And so Ada came, an unwilling guest, to her uncle's house.

She, however, strove to be resigned under the unpleasant

necessity of staying a few months where order and regularity

reigned, and where domestic occupations were held to be a

pleasure.

 

"It is awfully wretched," she wrote to the fortunate sister

remaining at Albany Villa, "to have to get up so early; how-

ever, I have made up my mind to go without breakfast

rather than go down again after the others have commenced.

I suppose they do not mean to be unkind, but they all look

so grave if one is not in time, my food chokes me. To be

dressed and have one's hair done fit to be seen by eight o'clock

is next to impossible. Well, when breakfast is over, the men

kind go out, and one of the girls goes to market, carrying a

bag, and I can either accompany her and take a dislike to the

joint we are to have for dinner, or spoil my complexion and

appetite by descending to the kitchen and helping the cook

until mid-day. Hetty and Martha never care about spoiling

their hands, and when I am particular about mine they say,

'Better to be useful than ornamental.' Whatever makes rich

people, like aunt and uncle, allow their daughters to put

themselves on the level of servants puzzles me very much.

Being practical they call it — I shall hate the word as long as

I live. You should have seen Martha's look of disgust when

we were at the butcher's the other day, and I confessed to

being unable to distinguish sirloin from ribs, to say nothing

of never having before heard of chumps or wings. Fancy

a bullock with a wing! I said it reminded me of heathen

mythology. 'Ada,' Martha said, crossly, 'if you do not try

to understand such things, you will never be fit to be married!'

Indeed, whenever I consent to make any man happy, he must

promise never to ask or expect me to go to the butcher's."

 

Three months passed by, and Ada, although she had neither

learned to like or enter into domestic affairs or the family

life and quiet home pleasures of her uncle's house, dreaded

that her visit should draw to a close. Her mother had said

Edward would be a good match for Ada now, and Minnie

had not failed to "hope Ada would soon announce she was

to have another beau frere." However, though Edward was

kind and attentive, treating her with every respect due to a

guest and with the same brotherly attention as his sisters,

matters drew no nearer the desired consummation, and Ada's

heart ached and was heavy. She did not know why it was

that one evening this well-beloved first-born son of the house

took his mother's arm and led her, with that chivalrous respect

so seldom shown to parents now-a-days, to a little room which

was her own peculiar place of retirement and study, and there

sitting by her side, and laying his head on her shoulder, said,

"Mother, I have come for counsel, and perhaps pity."

 

"You shall have both, my dear. I am afraid I can guess

the nature of your perplexity and trouble."

 

"Afraid! that word damps my courage. Yet I know

not why it should, for, at whatever cost to myself, I have

determined to follow your advice. Have you guessed, then,

that I have been cherishing something more than cousinly

regard for Ada?"

 

"Yes, my boy, I feared so; and have bitterly reproached

myself for laying a snare in your path."

 

"Oh! not so; and," he continued in an earnest, pleading

tone, " would she not make a good wife?"

 

"I seriously doubt it. She is devoted to dress and

pleasure, and has a positive antipathy to domestic affairs ;

besides"

 

"She is young, mother; could you not win her to like

them?"

 

"The difficulty is akin to that of the Ethiopian changing

his skin. If she knew of your love she might seem to

acquiesce in your wishes; but when it became assured to

her, the power of early habits and training would re-assert

themselves, and she would make your married life wretched.

Lily has a good, true, noble-hearted husband, who adores

her, and whom, I think, she too, loves in her fashion; yet

she has never learned to guide the house — their marriage,

indeed, is a frightful warning, both to mothers and would-be

husbands. To mothers, that no ties, no responsibilities, are

sufficient to overcome early and rooted habits of self

indulgence; to husbands, that if they stoop for a nettle they

must not expect to cull a flower. Ada is deeply infected

with what I hold to be domestic heresy, that servants must

relieve a mistress of all trouble and responsibility, and

virtually take the conduct of everything; that a mistress can

only be a lady by confining herself to the giving of orders,

and that it is a bore to superintend their execution. Oh!

my son, I should cry with the mother of did; what good

shall my life do me if my Jacob take to wife one of these

daughters of a degenerate time?"

 

Whilst Mrs. Heath thus spoke with intense earnestness.

Edward had risen, and paced the room in a conflict of

emotions. At length he said, —

 

"I am glad, mother, that I have given no sign to Ada

before speaking to you: I am free, at least, except in heart

I wish you could have taken a more favourable view; I

never saw a sweeter or more winsome creature than Ada.

Yet I remember one must choose a wife, like the Vicar of

Wakefield, for such qualities as will wear well I said I

would abide by your counsel, mother. As I know your

judgment is right and true, I will try and keep my word;

yet, give me four days, and on Monday we will finally settle

my fate in this matter."

 

"Try, in that interval, to see with impartial eyes — with

indeed, such as mine, seeking before all things your happi-

ness." So saying, the mother tenderly embraced her son,

and led him back to the family circle. Ada was singing, as

she always did, sweetly and correctly. Edward did not go

to her side, but sat down by his sister Mary, and toyed

absently with her working materials.

 

The song ended, Mary said, " Edward, have you seen the

magnificent cookery-book papa has given me to-day ? — such

a treasure!" It could not be found "Ada," she said,

"have you had it?"

 

"Now, Mary, is it likely? When I study a cookery-book

it will be because there is no other book in the world."

 

"Why?" asked Edward, rather shortly.

 

Ada liked him very much, and, with something more than

the impulse of vanity, wished that he might love her, and

she answered very gently, and in a tone of reserve:

 

"I do not like cooking; it is hot, sickening work, and

only fit for people who have been roughly brought up.

Besides, uneducated people can do such work; why should

ladies of taste and refinement undertake it?"

 

"For the best reason, that their taste and refinement will

produce results which could never be reached by minds of

a lower order. And in these days there is the additional

reason that, if you do not know how to cook, you can hardly

teach those ignorant, unscientific persons who demand such

unreasonable wages for spoiling your food and digestion."

 

"I am very sorry I cannot agree with you, cousin. Those

ignorant cooks to whom you refer must be sent to schools

of cookery, and not expect ladies, who have other and higher

duties, to be their instructresses. I assure you it is out of

fashion now for ladies to go into the kitchen."

 

"I believe," he said, with slight irritability, "all womanly

duties are going out of fashion. But suppose it is shortly

announced that the most fashionable thing going is for ladies

to make the pies and puddings, shall you fall in with it?"

 

"No, no, and a hundred times no;" and then she sang,

lightly,

 

"I won't be a cook, I can't be a cook,

I'm too fond of pleasure, and I won't be a cook 1"

 

"Since you have given us a song, "laughed Edward, "I

will reply by a quotation from Lucile very much to

the purpose : —

 

'We may live without poetry, music, and art;

We may live without conscience, and live without heart;

We may live without friends; we may live without books;

But civilised man cannot live without cooks.

We may live without books — what is knowledge but grieving?

We may live without hope — what is hope but deceiving?

We may live without love — what is passion but pining?

But where is the man that can live without dining?'

 

So you see, Ada, you are just striking out of your list the

one indispensable accomplishment."

 

"He was a greedy creature who wrote that," she cried.

"I hope if he is not already married he will unite himself at

once to his cook, and that she will stuff him until he is glad

to go without his dinner."

 

"Seriously, though," said Edward, endeavouring to

imitate her tone of banter, whilst more than one of the

party divined that he was striving to cover strong emotion,

"if you marry a poor man, shall you not try to like domestic

affairs?"

 

"Of course; but I hope, when I have a husband, he

will wish me to be his companion, not his cook, and that he

will not be so very poor as to require me to drudge."

 

The subject dropped. Edward felt that as she regarded

household duties in the light of drudgery, argument

was wasted. Still the struggle in his heart was not over.

Ada was so sweet, so winsome, so fragile, was it reasonable

to expect her to come into rough contact with the hard

realities even of domestic life? Ought she ever to soil

those dainty fingers, or be anything in the home but the

beautiful fairy, commanding and obeyed by all? Ought she

not to be surrounded by every comfort and luxury the world

afforded; to be always waited on and petted? How much

income would that take? Revolving these thoughts in his

mind he lay half the night feverish and wretched, and the

morning found him still undecided about his future course.

With great self-command, however, he met Ada at breakfast,

betraying in no way the state of his feelings—resolved to

wait the four days at least, and even then to try and abide by

his mother's counsel; but he felt he could not go on seeing

Ada and be safe, and that he had better get his father to

assign him a business journey. It was a sore struggle —

prudence against love; the gratification of a present passion

at the risk of life-long repentance. How few conquer under

such temptations, how inadequate the weapons seem for

the intensity of the fight! During the brief interval he had

allotted to himself, Edward narrowly observed his cousin,

and, though nothing of her beauty, nothing of her sweetness,

was lost upon him, strove to make his notes in an unbiased

spirit

 

" Oh!" he sighed, as he lay down to rest on the third

night of his probation, "she is but a pretty toy; a man

should not only have heart, hand, and competence to offer

her, but £5,000 a year at least!"

 

"Mother," he said, when he again sought her in her

own room, "it is all over. I see it would not do. I love

her well, and should love her better, but that I fear the

consequences. I am going away to-morrow for two or three

months, and shall get over it by the time I return, and then,

too, Ada will have gone home."

 

And so Mrs. Heath was justified in having accredited

Edward with the spirit of wisdom; but that night she

thanked God as for a great deliverance, and resolved

never again to place a like temptation in the way of her

sons.

 

Three months went by and yet Edward Heath had not

returned,' and his father began to hint that the Leeds

journey was somewhat prolonged this year. "Yes," he

wrote to his mother, " I must plead guilty to my father's

assertion that the business here has been long in doing.

But, indeed, I have not lost time until the last month. Why

have I done so at all, mother mine? I have told you often

how much at home I have been with your old friends the

Wilmots, and I am sure I have mentioned that their eldest

daughter, Isabel, is a sweet girl. She is two years younger

than myself; not exactly pretty, but with a calm, thoughtful

face and beautiful brown eyes; and she is just such a house-

wife as our Janet, and has, like her, cultivated tastes; sings

well, too, and charms everybody when she reads aloud.

I have no doubt now — I am so sure, that I feel I need

scarcely ask your advice — sure too, that for my sake you

will take her to your heart as a daughter. There is no

glamour of beauty or fascination of manner over me now; I

have perfect confidence in the object of my choice, as I

never could have had in that other sweet girl, who, for a

time, enchained my fancy. In this one, my Isabel, I know

the heart of her husband may safely trust."

 

When Ada heard of Edward's engagement, she bit her

lip until the blood came, and it was a long time ere she

regained her composure. "They all hated me; they were

all enemies, every one, and would not let him love me,"

she cried, in the bitterness of her spirit It never occurred

to her that it was within the limits of possibility he might

have discovered for himself that between them there was

none of the "suitability of mind and purpose" which alone

can render marriage happy.

 

Is not the disregard of this consideration the primary

cause of so many unhappy marriages nowadays? Men, as

a rule, look with favour on pretty, soft, little women, thinking

them gentle and amiable — to be moulded, like wax, to their

will and way; and soon after marriage are surprised to find

them capable of energetic resistance with opposing wills of

their own. Then comes the unseemly strife for mastery —

the display of temper on both sides, ending too often in per-

manent coldness, estrangement, or aversion. Sometimes,

indeed, a man's affection will cling round the poor incapable

creature he has brought to rule his house and be the mother

of his children; but he leaves her to bear the household

troubles she has not the strength to battle with, and finds

his pleasures apart from her.

 

The expense of dressing daughters, of keeping up appear-

ances, of taking them out and giving entertainments with

reference to their matrimonial prospects, is so serious that

parents often urge girls to accept offers backed by the neces-

sary means without giving any consideration to this "suit-

ability of mind and purpose." Their "shaking down together"

in life might be altogether an unimportant element

in the bargain, so entirely is it left to chance. Very badly

often does the daughter fare who does not "go off" — who

cannot succeed in attracting a husband of one sort or

another. Educated with a view to thus attracting — she has

been taught nothing really useful by which she could earn

her own livelihood, and is compelled to remain a burthen

at home; being constantly reminded of all that has been

done for her, and of her wretched inability to avail herself

of her opportunities. "Oh, that I could go out as a servant,"

many such a girl has sighed; "but I do not know how to work

nobody would take me, either, without a character.

I cannot teach; I cannot make a dress — and so must remain

in this miserable bondage always."

 

How far better would it be if parents brought up their

daughters in a home-like manner, accustoming them to per-

form household duties, and to care with self-denying zeal

for the comforts of others. Never presenting marriage to

her girls as the end for which they have been born and

educated, a mother would do well to prepare them for

it by instruction in every branch of domestic economy.

She should feel assured that although they may never

possess homes of their own, these her cherished ones may,

by the exercise of their knowledge in the behalf of others,

win for themselves abundant gratitude and love.

 

CHAPTER XI.

 

A baby is born, and all is well," was the glad

news told one January night to Mr. Arkroyd,

on return from the City. Glad news, indeed;

for had he not looked for this event to

restore his wife's health, to give her fresh interests,

and inaugurate a new reign of peace and order

in his home? How tender he was to Lily, how delighted

with the tiny little being he peeped at between its wraps.

 

"Not a very strong child, nurse, do you say?"

"I fear not, sir; she will require much care, and Mrs.

Arkroyd, I hear, does not intend to nurse her."

"Why not?"

 

"She fancies she will not be strong enough; but depend

upon it, sir, nature is only thwarted when ladies decline

this duty, and she will not be any the better for it."

 

"Do you expect the child will suffer if brought up by

hand?"

 

"Of course I do. Supposing even you could procure

good milk for her in London, it is but a poor substitute for

the natural nourishment, and delicate children seldom

thrive upon it."

 

"Then what do you recommend, nurse?"

"Well, sir, first I should use all my influence to induce

Mrs. Arkroyd to attempt the nursing, and failing that,

engage a wet nurse."

 

"Monstrous suggestion," he thought. "I will give Lily

anything she asks to save such an alternative." "Doctor,"

he said to the medical attendant when they were alone

together, "what about the nursing?"

 

"I hope Mrs. Arkroyd will be equal to it; I know of no

reason at present why she should not I am much con-

cerned to find young mothers of the present day not only

averse from, but physically unequal to, the discharge

of this most important duty, and I feel bound to urge its

performance wherever possible."

 

"To what cause do you attribute this physical inability?"

 

"Mainly to their own defective nurture, to luxurious

habits, and the practice of taking too much stimulant

Ladies, as a rule, now take twice as much wine as in former

generations, and, looking to its horrible adulteration and

admixture with fiery spirit, the marvel is the consequences

are not more serious than they are."

 

"But you hope that my wife will be able to nourish her

little one?"

 

"Yes, certainly; but much depends also on the will."

 

"My dear," said Mrs. Williams to Lily, "don't be persuaded

to nurse the child If you do you will be more or less tied

for the next eight or ten months. At your age you ought

to take your pleasure, and not be mewed up in the nursery.

The child will thrive well enough on milk; we can have some

from one cow kept for us; but anything would be better

than that all the comfort of your life should be destroyed."

 

"But Arthur so much wishes me to take the child myself;

I have half promised, and you know he said if I would he

would give me those diamond and turquoise earrings I set

my mind on months ago. I think I must try."

 

"And have no peace night nor day. Well, you must do

as you please."

 

The earrings lay on the pillow beside Lily the next night;

she had accepted the bribe and, as she did so, fully in-

tended to make the promised attempt. But courage failed,

and with tears, which instantly secured her husband's for-

bearance, she told him it was so painful and distressing she

could not persevere. Every apparatus, every known device,

all the doctor's skill and the nurse's patience were of no avail,

because of the want of resolution on the part of the

mother, and disinclination to overcome the physical diffi-

culties. The little one, however, though delicate, throve

better than they had expected, and Lily herself steadily

advanced towards convalescence. "So much better than

she possibly could have done," Mrs. Williams declared,

"than if she had had the worry of nursing."

 

"Of course, Lily," said Mrs. Williams, now more than

ever bent on securing any opportunity for the display of

her daughters, "you will give a christening party."

 

"I don't know," said Lily sadly. " Arthur has not even

hinted at such a thing."

 

"I am not surprised at that but who ever heard of not

giving an entertainment to the god-parents of a first child?"

 

"Well, a little dinner?" suggested Lily.

 

"Would cost as much as a nice evening party. Just

have luncheon after the christening, to which of course you

would invite the clergyman, and then in the evening a

select young party."

 

"I am afraid Arthur would think it too expensive."

 

"Really you seem to consider your husband's whims

to the exclusion of every other consideration. Properly

managed the whole thing need not cost twenty pounds.

If he cannot afford that on the birth of a first child you

might as well have married a pauper."

 

Thus encouraged Lily presented the scheme to her husband.

She never thought of the heavy expense her illness

had been, nor how it had been greatly increased by the

want of preparation and forethought so necessary on such

occasions. It is one he had not ventured, at such a time,

to tell her that their next quarter's income was seriously

anticipated.

 

"It will not cost more than twenty pounds," she said,

"and mamma will manage everything cleverly."

 

"Yet I wish we could avoid even so much expense,"

replied Mr. Arkroyd. "We must indeed be careful, dearest,

and remember we have now another besides ourselves to

care for. Do you not think if we were to put that twenty

pounds by, to form the nucleus of a fund for baby's benefit,

it would be wiser?"

 

"Wisdom is a tiresome, stupid thing," she said pettishly,

"and I feel I might be allowed a little party after keeping

quiet all these months. I do believe you would like me to

live like a nun. People with ever so much less to live on

than ourselves give parties, and grand ones too."

 

"Do they pay for them? If so, they must be excellent

managers."

 

"Well, I am sure mamma will manage everything excel-

lently, and the girls will decorate the rooms and trim up

my wedding dress; and now don't be a dreadful old screw;

and when this is over I will begin and save baby's fortune."

 

"When that was over!" Poor frail Lily, you little

thought you would plead against your husband's wish never,

never more! But all his life afterwards Arthur Arkroyd

was thankful that at least he had not harshly thwarted her,

even while he lamented he had not found other means to

prevent her rashness.

 

The baby was not very well during the week which pre-

ceded the party, and from the general derangement of the

house, the draughts and discomfort, Lily took cold.

Nevertheless she kept up until the fatal evening. Her

mother and sisters were too engrossed with the preparation

of becoming toilets, issuing invitations, hunting up recusants

at whose houses they used to visit, and generally increasing

the inevitable expense of the coming entertainment by their

thoughtlessness, to notice the signs of Lily's illness. To

her husband she declared it was only a slight cold; she

should be quite well, and a dance would do her more good

than anything. "I shall remain in bed all day," she said,

 

"since you will not have me go to the church, and then I

shall be bright and fresh for the evening. "When, however,

the time came to dress, and Lily attempted to rise, she felt

so ill as to send for her mother, and say she feared it was

impossible to do so. But Mrs. Williams urged her to make

the effort; if she could only manage to come down and

receive the 'guests all would be well.

 

So they dressed her in the beautiful wedding apparel, and

put upon her her husband's latest gift, the diamond and

turquoise earrings, and would not let him see her until she

was ready.

 

As he entered her dressing-room, Lily, by a great effort,

rose to greet her husband, her cheeks burning with fever,

and her eyes bright and lustrous with its fatal light "How

well you look, darling," he said, mistaking the signs.

 

"Yes," she said, absently, and with dry lips and parched

throat, "this is the dress I love best I have often thought

I should like to be buried in it"

 

He saw it all now, and taking her unresisting hand, he

felt its burning heat

 

"Dearest," he said, "you are ill; come back to your

room, and go to bed."

 

"I must go down. I would not have the girls miss their

pleasure for the world. Let me just go down and shake

hands, and then I will do as you wish."

 

It was with extreme difficulty Lily descended to the

dancing-room, and with very little consciousness of what

was going on. A murmur of surprise from some, of horror

from the more experienced, broke from the guests as her

husband led Lily, now quite exhausted, to a seat. A young

doctor, who was present, whispered to Mr. Arkroyd that

signs of dangerous illness were apparent, and that his wife

should instantly be removed to her room. Then the party,

hardly yet assembled, scared and terrified, fled at the word

"fever;" some even leaving the house on foot rather than

wait for carriages to convey them from its dreaded presence.

 

Before the morning Lily was unconscious, and for three

sad weeks remained so. Her husband hardly left her for a

moment, though at times he felt as if her incoherent words

would kill him. Often it seemed that she was striving to

accomplish something, and was baffled in the attempt

Twice she murmured, "I did not know how, tell him, and he

will forgive me." Then he would kneel by her side and pray

God to restore her, and he would be more patient with her.

Almost perfect as had been his self-abnegation during their

married life, he asked only for the opportunity for making it

more complete. All errors, all unkindness, were forgotten

now, and his one thought and prayer was that Lily might be

spared to him.

 

But the last night came at length, and the despairing

husband knew that he could hope no longer. The babe

had given up its feeble life the day before, and now the

mother's spirit was hastening to it Worn out in mind and

body Arthur Arkroyd felt he could bear no one to witness

with him that last scene; that on its solemnity and sacred-

ness no eyes less devoted than his own might rest. So he

watched alone until the chill dawn broke, and as he leant

over her, expecting every moment the last breath would

speed, her eyes for one instant rested with seeming con-

sciousness on his, she smiled faintly and was no more.

 

We will not linger on this last page, nor pause now to

describe the anguish which weighed down the husband's

spirit For years he bore his "sorrow's crown of sorrow "

in his widowed heart and life. As he had truly loved, so

he truly mourned.

 

Having seen the bridal robes placed upon the wasted

form, even the wreath of orange blossoms upon the white

and still beautiful brow, Arthur Arkroyd felt as if life were

over for him; and having watched by the graveside with

resolute will until the last earth was filled in, he turned his

face to a world that seemed void to him. Wifeless, child-

less, what earthly loneliness is more complete? Men spoke

words of consolation, women pitied and were tender to him,

he could not thank them — all he wished was to die, and if

that might not be, to be alone. To Albany Villa he never

returned, but left it in possession of Mrs. Williams until

she could procure a suitable home for herself and daughters.

For the sake of her he had so loved Mr. Arkroyd was ever

kind to them, but he could not bear to see them for many

years after he lost his Lily.

 

On the day of Mrs. Arkroyd's funeral, Miss Wilson desired

Elgeth to draw down all the blinds of her house, but that

the one near where her chair stood should be so left that she

could see the mournful cavalcade. Silently she watched it

move away, and then, overcome with painful emotion which

closely resembled grief, she lay back in her chair and wept

bitterly.

 

"Wheel me away, Elgeth," she said at length, "it is for the

last time. I shall never see him again; but if ever you do,

tell him, I charge you, how I grieved; and, that it may not

come upon you by surprise, when I am dead and gone, I

tell you now I have made him my heir. Of course, I have

handsomely provided first for you. There is no one I

am bound to consider, except by a few legacies. I am a

lonely old woman, who has outlived all her relations. I

shall wrong no one by this course, for I have never en-

couraged any expectations; and it will be a consolation to

me when I am dying that I have made to Mr. Arkroyd the

only reparation in my power for the wrong you and I did

him, in refraining from telling him he was being robbed and

deceived."

 

"I did it for the best," sobbed Elgeth, on whose con-

science also this wrong had of late weighed heavily.

 

"Yet it was mean and selfish, and nothing can undo the

mischief. But we will not speak of it again. I saw him

come home a happy bridegroom — I have watched him till I

grew to love him as my own son — and now he has gone

from my sight for ever, a despairing, broken-hearted

widower. Nothing outside can interest me more, so wheel

me away and put me to bed."

 

She never rose again from it, and, three months after, Mr.

Arkroyd found himself a comparatively rich man.

 

"Take the fortune, sir," said Elgeth, " she gave it to you

of her own free will, and though she never exchanged a

word with you, I am sure her affection for, you justified the

act"

 

The time had gone by when such a gift would have been

highly prized by Arthur Arkroyd, as enabling him to give

his Lily the pleasures she loved. Nevertheless, long years

after, when another took her place in his heart and home,

he wished he had but known the intention of his generous

benefactress before her death, that as a son he might have

cheered her last lonely days, and thanked her as he did

now.

 

CHAPTER XII.

 

From the time of the commencement of this story

to that at which we now arrive ten years have

gone by. We have seen that to many of those

whose fortunes we have followed they brought

more or less of grief and anxiety; and yet to

Janet Fenton and her husband they had passed

without more serious trouble than occasional ill-

ness and the household and business worries which none may

altogether escape. Four children had been born to them,

and were all healthy and intelligent. Generally things had

prospered with the husband in the counting-house and with

the wife in the home. With him, because he had steadily

worked, never expecting to reap where he had not sown,

entering into no rash speculations, wasting no capital in

keeping up an appearance which his actual position did

not justify; risking no health by the sacrifice of mental

peace, and because of that modest but manly independence

which would owe no man anything, and which enabled him

with honest pride to hold his head high among his fellows.

With her, because she had followed closely her mother's

teaching and example, counting nothing pleasure which did

not directly tend to the happiness of her husband and the

welfare of her children, whom she brought up with simple

habits and home-like tastes. They did not live to themselves,

they had friends and cheerful society, and nowhere was there

more intelligent controversy and conversation than in the

home of the Fentons. Friends coming to visit them, as

they frequently did, were never allowed unduly to swell

their expenses or to upset the household arrangements.

"Take us as we are," was always the accompaniment of

"Come to dinner" or "supper"; and things were so well

managed by Mrs. Fenton that she was never "put out" if

her husband unexpectedly brought home a friend. If such

food as they had were insufficient for the number of guests,

some little dish was quickly improvised by Janet's skilful

hands. And this was the great charm to her husband, that,

however he came, she was always ready with her cheerful face

to greet him and with entire self-forgetfulness to lay aside all

her domestic frets and grievances, and without any seeming

effort to make him feel his home a haven of rest. He, on

his part, sympathised tenderly with her in every trial, and

neglected nothing which his great love prompted to lighten

her daily cares. Charles Fenton had not the impatience of

household trouble which characterises too many young hus-

bands of the present day. He was ever ready to accept his

wife's dictum in such matters, and in an emergency to sacri-

fice his own comfort to the general good. Nor had he the

prevalent notion that men have all the work of the world,

and that women's cares are as feathers in the scale. "I

know," he said one day, to a friend with whom he was dis-

cussing home affairs, "that feminine courage, though of a

different, is of a higher order than ours, and that women face

moral difficulties with more (determination and physical ills

with more fortitude than men. The best of us would sink

under the present enormous difficulty of procuring efficient

household assistance."

 

In these ten years Mr. Fenton had almost trebled his in-

come (and this notwithstanding that on the birth of each

child he had made such a provision for it as would amount

to a small fortune when it came of age), so that he now felt

justified in proposing their removal to a larger house.

 

"It would have its advantages," Janet said. "But then

again we must keep more servants, and generally much in-

crease our expenses and anxieties. I would much rather,

dear, though somewhat closely packed, remain here a few

years longer. One thing, however, is certain, we must

shortly convert the drawing-room into a schoolroom."

 

"My dear, I really cannot have you do without your

drawing-room."

 

"But if I prefer to do so — if I feel that for the present it

will be better rather to diminish than increase my state — you

will not prevent it?"

 

"You altogether forget Mrs. Grundy."

 

"It is my habit, you know, to ignore that respectable per-

son. But if you do not intrude yourself too much on her

notice, I find she is disposed to leave you alone. Now I

fancy she would be more likely to have her eye on us if we

moved into the Crescent, arid would be inquiring whether

we could afford to pay for the carpets and curtains."

 

"In that matter we could defy her."

 

"Yes; but if we go on quietly here for a few years longer,

we shall be able to do it all the more triumphantly, and be

able to say, 'Pray walk in, Mrs. Grundy, and see there is no

veneer, no shams; such as it is, it is all real and paid for.'

Suppose, then, we defer issuing that invitation, at least till

Hetty is fifteen."

 

On the birth of her fourth child Mrs. Fenton had felt much

the need of a useful companion, who would assist her in the

management of her house and family, and enable her to

dispense with a third servant. It happened just as this want

was pressing heavily, because of Mrs. Fenton's unusual weak-

ness, that a distant relation of her family wrote asking Mrs.

Heath if she could hear of some such situation for one of

her girls. "You know," she said, "that although we keep but

one young servant, there is hardly sufficient work to fully em-

ploy my three girls, so Fannie wishes to go out. She has

been well educated, and it has fitted her to be a very intelli-

gent companion. She is fond of children, and clever in all

domestic matters. She will only require as much salary as

will keep her suitably dressed."

 

"Settle it at once, mamma," said Mr. Fenton. "I will not

even ask you, Jenny. I exert my authority now that you are

too weak to contend."

 

"I am in so unusually amiable a mood as to be perfectly

acquiescent," she said, laughing.

 

Fannie Ellerslie came like a sunbeam into the already

bright home of the Fentons. Pretty and gentle, she was yet

a housewifely little woman of nineteen. Now soothing a

fretful child and nursing a sick one, now teaching another to

read, now making a frock, now deftly compounding a pudding,

and generally having a finger in every pie, she was a perfect

treasure to Mrs. Fenton, whom she called cousin.

 

"Oh, you dear," she said one morning, to Mrs. Fenton,

"was there ever such a happy girl as you make me! Think

how much better off I am than Mary Lereux, who is always

complaining of the sorrows and hardships of governess life."

 

"If girls generally, Fannie, had such mothers as you and

I, there are hundreds now condemned to idleness, or to work

for which they are unfitted and consequently fret at, who

might be as happy as we. Can we ever sufficiently thank

our mothers who brought us up to understand and love

woman's true and best work in the home and family?"

 

"Oh," laughed Fannie, "don't you think, cousin, it is much

better to be educated like men and to share their advantages,

than to be tied down to such ignoble pursuits as ours?"

 

"Fie, miss I"

 

"Nevertheless, though you are shocked, I must tell you I

very narrowly escaped marking out for myself a much more

noble career than nursing your babies and getting my hair

nearly all pulled out by the roots by them."

 

"If you will wear those tempting curls — but tell me all

about this."

 

"One evening, when I was about sixteen, we went to tea

with Mrs. Marsh, and at her house met a lady from

London who told us wonderful things of the new paths

opening to woman. We were not to be restricted any longer.

If we had the will, we should soon establish our right to

enter most of the learned professions, and we ought to aim

at the highest classical and mathematical education, and

never to rest until we were secure of our rights and

thoroughly independent of man and matrimony, which last

she seemed to consider rather a degradation to us. I dare

say you will think I was dreadfully silly; nevertheless, I felt

miserable at being so far away from all metropolitan lights

and advantages, and I lay awake all the night trying to

decide on my future plans of action. The next morning, with

my ideas still all abroad, I went to confide in my mother.

 

"Don't you think, mother,' I said, 'it is time I began to

think of a career for myself ?"'

 

"What does the child mean?" she said, laughing.

 

"Why, that I should like to devote myself to study for a

few years, so that I may make for myself a name and fame,

and be quite an independent woman."

 

"Well, she is a creature I have never yet seen, nor do I

wish to see her. And let me tell you, Fannie, I do not

believe such a thing possible. Women are by nature de-

pendent, and it is the worse for those who seek to be other-

wise. Defend us from careering women, and from all modern

devices for alluring the unwary from their first duty of study-

ing the science of guiding the house and other true womanly

duties. When you have learned these and everything

necessary to fit you for a wife and mother, or to be the

assistant of one — and if when all is learned you can find no

scope for the exercise of this knowledge — I will indeed do my

best to provide the means and opportunity for other studies.

But trust me, child, woman will never attain the kind of

independence you are thinking of without the loss of some

of the most lovely characteristics of her sex. Created to

be a help-meet to man, she outrages the laws of nature

when she tries to invade his province. In her own proper

duties there is scope for the highest talent, the most exalted

 

"I quite agree with Mrs. Ellerslie," said Janet, warmly;

"and with a writer in Blackwood, who says : —

 

'I wonder a woman, the Mistress of Hearts,

Would descend to aspire 10 be Master of Arts;

A ministering angel in woman we see.

And an angel should covet no higher degree.'

 

We but make ourselves ridiculous by defying natural laws;

leaving undone our own duties, and declaring that we are

fitted for, and will undertake, those of men. A blessing it is

indeed that your mother's good sense saved you from career-

ing; for then I probably should never have known you, or if

I had, what earthly use would it have been to say, Fannie,

my dear, — Oh, do go- and see if you can quiet that fretful

child upstairs I"

 

"Oh, yes; there shall be peace in two minutes."

 

 

 

CHAPTER XIII.

 

Soon after coming into possession of Miss Wilson's

fortune Mr. Arkroyd's health so seriously failed

that he yielded to medical advice, gave up his

appointment in London, and went abroad. For

five years he wandered about, staying awhile in

every capital in Europe, noting with grave sad eyes

the follies of his countrymen and women in strange

lands. He seldom chose to reveal his identity or to profit by

letters of introduction, and it was in vain lady mothers tried to

discover if he were an eligible parti. At tables-d'hote he always

avoided travelling families with daughters, and it was remarked

by one shrewd young lady at Paris, that Mr. Arkroyd appeared

to look on girls as if they were specimens of natural history,

or zoological curiosities; to be carefully studied, but not too

closely approached or handled. And so the years went on,

and no love revisited Arthur Arkroyd's heart. His health

was somewhat restored, time had softened his grief, and he

felt the benefit generally of change of scene and travel; yet

there rose up ever and anon before him the sweet dead face

of his buried hope, always with the smile she wore as she lay

so still in the bridal robes, her fair forehead wreathed with

white flowers. He was very tender of her memory; nothing

of reproach mingled in his remembrance of her, and though

he could not forget his disappointment or the absolute suffer-

ing of his married life, "she did not know how, poor, poor

child," softened these recollections.

 

In the sixth year of his wanderings he fell home-sick, with

a sickness indeed so sore that, although he was so far distant

as St Petersburg, he travelled night and day until he reached

London. During all his long sojourn in distant lands he

had kept up a correspondence with the Fentons; whenever

he thought of home it was in connection with them; and it

was to Janet that he paid his first visit in England, even while

still travel-worn and weary.

 

"Some influence for which I cannot account, Mrs. Fenton,"

he said, "possessed me. Suddenly I felt I must come home,

that, as it were, I was drawn to come; it was like magnetism."

 

"Who knows," she said cheerily, "but some lode-star did

draw you?" and at this moment unconscious of the presence

of a stranger, Fannie Ellerslie, with the youngest child in her

arms, bounded into the room. She stopped short, and was

about to retreat, when, encouraged, she came forward and

presented the baby to Mr. Arkroyd. Never he thought had

he seen a more charming picture — the sweet girl with her

sunny curls, her manner and dress alike breathing the most

charming simplicity, and the baby clinging round her neck.

 

"I am jealous of Fannie, Mr. Arkroyd," said Mrs. Fenton.

"This monkey never cares to leave her to come to me."

 

"That proves," he said, "how kind a nurse Miss Ellerslie is.

Will you exert your influence to induce the little one to

come to me?"

 

Fannie whispered to baby all sorts of encouraging words;

how that the strange gentleman would love her better than

Fannie, but all to no purpose, for baby could not be

brought to believe that, and she whispered, in evident allu-

sion to his beard, "No, no, so black."

 

So Mr. Arkroyd was fain to content himself with admiring

both nurse and baby at a respectful distance; but the time

came, and that soon, when he was admitted to the closest

intimacy with both.

 

That this interview with Mrs. Fenton caused Mr. Arkroyd

to fix his bachelor quarters near her house is beyond question.

And it soon became apparent to Mrs. Fenton that the lode-

star was in her house indeed. Mr. Arkroyd had, it is true,

become on terms of close friendship with her husband,

the children doted on him by reason of those wonderful

stories and ever-filled pockets of his, and he appreciated to

the full her large-hearted kindness and womanly sympathies;

yet she knew there must be another and stronger attraction

for him.

 

"I am so delighted," Mrs. Fenton said to her husband,

"Fannie will make the best and dearest of wives. I shall

do all in my power to promote the marriage."

 

"Taking to match-making! A nice time I shall have of

it when our girls grow up."

 

"No, no; the match is making itself. Only one can some-

times make opportunities."

 

"Janet," said Mr. Arkroyd, one day, "it is time I took you

into my confidence."

 

"Quite," she said, demurely.

 

"Indeed, I have come to you first"

 

"Oh, no doubt, sir, and think you are about to tell me

a great secret! As if I could not see that like a thief you

have come into my house, and spoke me fair, while you

 plotted to deprive me of my chief comfort and help. Oh, do

pray go on, and tell me that which I already know too well!"

 

"Guilty," he said, "and I crave your mercy. If I could

buy her off you for her weight in gold, I should still feel I

robbed you."

 

"Exactly," she said, laughing; "we are agreed on that point,

at least. And have you told my Fannie of your hope?"

 

"Not yet; at least "

 

"Oh, I understand."

 

"Indeed, I thought it due to you first to speak to you.

But my mind has long been made up and your penetration

may have led you to discover how I regard Fannie. From

the moment I saw her with your baby in her arms my heart

went out to her, and rested in the ark of her sweetness.

You have given me a fair opportunity, my friend, to judge

her for myself, and I had your word — and being altogether

graceless and thievish, I appropriated it as intended for my

benefit — that she would make a priceless wife. Have I then

your approbation? Do you think she will take me, some-

what broken as I am?"

 

"You have, my dear Arthur," she replied, with some emo-

tion, "my full approbation, and I believe I may answer for

her parents. How warmly I wish you success I cannot say,