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The Trial, Or, More Links of the Daisy Chain By Charlotte M. Yonge Characters: 31737

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:04


This night is my departing night,

For here nae longer must I stay;

There's neither friend nor foe of mine

But wishes me away.

What I have done through lack of wit,

I never, never can recall:

I hope ye're all my friends as yet.

Good night, and joy be with you all.

Armstrong's Good Night

The storm had blown over, but heavy flakes of cloud still cumbered the air, and gusts of wind portended that it might gather again.

Henry Ward took this opportunity of giving his first dinner party. He said it was a necessary return for the civilities they had received; and to Averil's representation that it transgressed the system of rigid economy that so much tormented her, he replied by referring her to Mrs. Pugh for lessons in the combination of style and inexpensiveness.

Averil had almost refused, but the lady herself proffered her instructions, and reluctance was of no avail; nothing but demonstrations from which her conscience shrank, could have served to defend her from the officious interference so eagerly and thankfully encouraged by the master of the house. Vainly did she protest against pretension, and quote the example of the Grange; she found herself compelled to sacrifice the children's lessons to learn of Mrs. Pugh to make the paper flowers that, with bonbons and sweetmeats, were to save the expense of good food on the dinner-table, and which she feared would be despised by Miss May, nay, perhaps laughed over with 'Mr. Tom!'

She hated the whole concern, even the invitation to Dr. and Miss May, knowing that it was sent in formal vanity, accepted in pure good-nature, would bring them into society they did not like, and expose her brother's bad taste. Only one thing could have added to her dislike, namely-that which all Stoneborough perceived excepting herself and Leonard-that this dinner was intended as a step in Henry's courtship, and possibly as an encouragement of Harvey Anderson's liking for herself. Averil held her head so high, and was so little popular, that no one of less assurance than Mrs. Ledwich herself would have dared approach her with personal gossip; and even Mrs. Ledwich was silent here; so that Averil, too young and innocent to connect second marriages with recent widowhood, drew no conclusions from Henry's restless eagerness that his household should present the most imposing appearance.

While the bill of fare was worrying Averil, Leonard was told by Aubrey, that his father had brought home a fossil Tower of Babel, dug up with some earth out of a new well, three miles off, with tidings of other unheard-of treasures, and a walk was projected in quest of them, in which Leonard was invited to join. He gladly came to the early dinner, where he met reduced numbers-the Ernescliffes being at Maplewood, Tom at Cambridge, and Harry in the Channel fleet; and as usual, he felt the difference between the perfect understanding and friendship in the one home, and the dread of dangerous subjects in the other. The expedition had all the charms of the Coombe times; and the geological discoveries were so numerous and precious, that the load became sufficient to break down the finders, and Ethel engaged a market-woman to bring the baskets in her cart the next morning.

That morning a note from Richard begged Ethel to come early to Cocksmoor to see Granny Hall, who was dying. Thus left to their own devices, Aubrey and Gertrude conscientiously went through some of their studies; then proceeded to unpack their treasury of fossils, and endeavour to sort out Leonard's share, as to which doubts arose. Daisy proposed to carry the specimens at once to Bankside, where she wanted to see Leonard's prime echinus; and Aubrey readily agreed, neither of the young heads having learnt the undesirableness of a morning visit in a house preparing for a dinner-party too big for it.

However, Leonard made them extremely welcome. It was too foggy a day for rifle practice, and all the best plate and china were in the school-room, his only place of refuge; Ave was fluttering about in hopes of getting everything done before Mrs. Pugh could take it out of her hands, and the energies of the household were spent on laying out the dining-table. It was clearly impossible to take Gertrude anywhere but into the drawing-room, which was in demi-toilette state, the lustres released from their veils, the gayer cushions taken out of their hiding-places, and the brown holland covers half off. This was the only tranquil spot, and so poor little Mab thought, forbidden ground though it was. Even in her own home, the school-room, a strange man had twice trod upon her toes; so no wonder, when she saw her own master and his friends in the drawing-room, that she ventured in, and leaping on a velvet cushion she had never seen before, and had never been ordered off, she there curled herself up and went to sleep, unseen by Leonard, who was in eager controversy upon the specimens, which Gertrude, as she unpacked, set down on floor, chair, or ottoman, unaware of the offence she was committing. So, unmolested, the young geologists talked, named, and sorted the specimens, till the clock striking the half-hour, warned the Mays that they must return; and Leonard let them out at the window, and crossed the lawn to the side gate with them to save the distance.

He had just returned, and was kneeling on the floor hastily collecting the fossils, when the door opened, and Henry Ward, coming home to inspect the preparations, beheld the drawing-room bestrewn with the rough stones that he had proscribed, and Mab, not only in the room, but reposing in the centre of the most magnificent cushion in the house!

His first movement of indignation was to seize the dog with no gentle hand. She whined loudly; and Leonard, whom he had not seen, shouted angrily, 'Let her alone;' then, at another cry from her, finding his advance to her rescue impeded by a barricade of the crowded and disarranged furniture, he grew mad with passion, and launched the stone in his hand, a long sharp-pointed belemnite. It did not strike Henry, but a sound proclaimed the mischief, as it fell back from the surface of the mirror, making a huge star of cracks, unmarked by Leonard, who, pushing sofa and ottoman to the right and left, thundered up to his brother, and with uplifted hand demanded what he meant by his cruelty.

'Is-is this defiance?' stammered Henry, pointing to the disordered room.

'Look here, Averil,' as she appeared at the sounds, 'do you defend this boy now he has very nearly killed me?'

'Killed you!' and Leonard laughed angrily; but when Henry held up the elf-bolt, and he saw its sharp point, he was shocked, and he saw horror in Averil's face.

'I see,' he said gravely. 'It was a mercy I did not!' and he paused. 'I did not know what I was about when you were misusing my dog, Henry. Shake hands; I am sorry for it.'

But Henry had been very much frightened as well as angered, and thought, perhaps, it was a moment to pursue his advantage.

'You treat things lightly,' he said, not accepting the hand.

'See what you have done.'

'I am glad it was not your head,' said Leonard. 'What does it cost? I'll pay.'

'More than your keep for a year,' moaned Henry, as he sighed over the long limbs of the starfish-like fracture.

'Well, I will give up anything you like, if you will only not be sulky about it, Henry. It was unlucky, and I'm sorry for it; I can't say more!'

'But I can,' said Henry with angry dignity, re-inforced by the sight of the seamed reflection of his visage in the shivered glass. 'I tell you, Leonard, there's no having you in the house; you defy my authority, you insult my friends, you waste and destroy more than you are worth, and you are absolutely dangerous. I would as soon have a wild beast about the place. If you don't get the Randall next week, and get off to the University, to old Axworthy's office you go at once.'

'Very well, I will,' said Leonard, turning to collect the fossils, as if he had done with the subject.

'Henry, Henry, what are you saying?' cried the sister.

'Not a word, Ave,' said Leonard. 'I had rather break stones on the road than live where my keep is grudged, and there's not spirit enough to get over a moment's fright.'

'It is not any one individual thing,' began Henry, in a tone of annoyance, 'but your whole course-'

There he paused, perceiving that Leonard paid no attention to his words, continuing quietly to replace the furniture and collect the fossils, as it no one else were in the room, after which he carried the basket up-stairs.

Averil hurried after him. 'Leonard! oh, why don't you explain? Why don't you tell him how the stones came there?'

Leonard shook his head sternly.

'Don't you mean to do anything?'

'Nothing.'

'But you wanted another year before trying for the scholarship.'

'Yes; I have no chance there.'

'He will not do it! He cannot mean it!'

'I do then. I will get my own living, and not be a burthen, where my brother cannot forgive a broken glass or a moment's fright,' said Leonard; and she felt that his calm resentment was worse than his violence.

'He will be cooler, and then-'

'I will have no more said to him. It is plain that we cannot live together, and there's an end of it. Don't cry, or you won't be fit to be seen.'

'I won't come down to dinner.'

'Yes, you will. Let us have no more about it. Some one wants you.'

'Please, ma'am, the fish is come.'

'Sister, sister, come and see how I have done up the macaroons in green leaves.'

'Sister, sister, do come and reach me down some calycanthus out of the greenhouse!'

'I will,' said Leonard, descending; and for the rest of the day he was an efficient assistant in the decorations, and the past adventure was only apparent in the shattered glass, and the stern ceremonious courtesy of the younger brother towards the elder.

Averil hurried about, devoid of all her former interest in so doing things for herself as to save interference; and when Mrs. Ledwich and Mrs. Pugh walked in, overflowing with suggestions, she let them have their way, and toiled under them with the sensation of being like 'dumb driven cattle.' If Leonard were to be an exile, what mattered it to her who ruled, or what appearance things made?

Only when she went to her own room to dress, had she a moment to realize the catastrophe, its consequences, and the means of averting them. So appalled was she, that she sat with her hair on her shoulders as if spell-bound, till the first ring at the door aroused her to speed and consternation, perhaps a little lessened by one of her sisters rushing in to say that it was Mrs. Ledwich and Mrs. Pugh, and that Henry was still in the cellar, decanting the wine.

Long before the hosts were ready, Dr. May and Ethel had likewise arrived, and became cognizant of the fracture of the mirror, for, though the nucleus was concealed by a large photograph stuck into the frame, one long crack extended even to the opposite corner. The two ladies were not slow to relate all that they knew; and while the aunt dismayed Ethel by her story, the niece, with much anxiety, asked Dr. May how it was that these dear, nice, superior young people should have such unfortunate tempers-was it from any error in management? So earnest was her manner, so inquiring her look, that Dr. May suspected that she was feeling for his opinion on personal grounds, and tried to avert the danger by talking of the excellence of the parents, but he was recalled from his eulogium on poor Mrs. Ward.

'Oh yes! one felt for them so very much, and they are so religious, so well principled, and all that one could wish; but family dissension is so dreadful. I am very little used to young men or boys, and I never knew anything like this.'

'The lads are too nearly of an age,' said the Doctor.

'And would such things be likely to happen among any brothers?'

'I should trust not!' said the Doctor emphatically.

'I should so like to know in confidence which you think likely to be most to blame.'

Never was the Doctor more glad that Averil made her appearance! He carefully avoided getting near Mrs. Pugh for the rest of the evening, but he could not help observing that she was less gracious than usual to the master of the house; while she summoned Leonard to her side to ask about the volunteer proceedings, and formed her immediate court of Harvey Anderson and Mr. Scudamour.

The dinner went on fairly, though heavily. Averil, in her one great trouble, lost the sense of the minor offences that would have distressed her pride and her taste had she been able to attend to them, and forgot the dulness of the scene in her anxiety to seek sympathy and counsel in the only quarter where she cared for it. She went mechanically through her duties as lady of the house, talking commonplace subjects dreamily to Dr. May, and scarcely even giving herself the trouble to be brief with Mr. Anderson, who was on her other side at dinner.

In the drawing-room, she left the other ladies to their own devices in her eagerness to secure a few minutes with Ethel May, and disabuse her of whatever Mrs. Ledwich or Mrs. Pugh might have said. Ethel had been more hopeful before she heard the true version; she had hitherto allowed much for Mrs. Ledwich's embellishments; and she was shocked and took shame to her own guiltless head for Gertrude's thoughtlessness.

'Oh no!' said Averil, 'there was nothing that any one need have minded, if Henry had waited for explanation! And now, will you get Dr. May to speak to him? If he only knew how people would think of his treating Leonard so, I am sure he would not do it.

'He cannot!' said Ethel. 'Don't you know what he thinks of it himself? He said to papa last year that your father would as soon have sent Leonard to the hulks as to the Vintry Mill.'

'Oh, I am so glad some one heard him. He would care about having that cast up against him, if he cared for nothing else.'

'It must have been a mere threat. Leonard surely has only to ask his pardon.'

'No, indeed, not again, Miss May!' said Averil. 'Leonard asked once, and was refused, and cannot ask again. No, the only difficulty is whether he ought not to keep to his word, and go to the mill if he does not get the Randall.'

'Did he say he would?'

'Of course he did, when Henry threatened him with it, and talked of the burden of his maintenance! He said, "Very well, I will," and he means it!'

'He will not mean it when the spirit of repentance has had time to waken.'

'He will take nothing that is grudged him,' said Averil. 'Oh! is it not hard that I cannot get at my own money, and send him at once to Cambridge, and never ask Henry for another farthing?'

'Nay, Averil; I think you can do a better part by trying to make them forgive one another.'

Averil had no notion of Leonard's again abasing himself, and though she might try to bring Henry to reason by reproaches, she would not persuade. She wished her guest had been the sympathizing Mary rather than Miss May, who was sure to take the part of the elder and the authority. Repentance! Forgiveness! If Miss May should work on Leonard to sue for pardon and toleration, and Mrs. Pugh should intercede with Henry to take him into favour, she had rather he were at the Vintry Mill at once in his dignity, and Henry be left to his disgrace.

Ethel thought of Dr. Spencer's words on the beach at Coombe, 'Never threaten Providence!' She longed to repeat them to Leonard, as she watched his stern determined face, and the elaborately quiet motions that spoke of a fixed resentful purpose; but to her disappointment and misgiving, he gave her no opportunity, and for the first time since their sea-side intercourse, held aloof from her.

Nor did she see h

im again during the week that intervened before the decision of the scholarship, though three days of it were holidays. Aubrey, whom she desired to bring him in after the rifle drill, reported that he pronounced himself sorry to refuse, but too busy to come in, and he seemed to be cramming with fiery vehemence for the mere chance of success.

The chance was small. The only hope lay in the possibility of some hindrance preventing the return of either Forder or Folliot; and in the meantime the Mays anxiously thought over Leonard's prospects. His remaining at home was evidently too great a trial for both brothers, and without a scholarship he could not go to the University. The evils of the alternative offered by his brother were duly weighed by the Doctor and Ethel with an attempt to be impartial.

Mr. Axworthy, though the mill was the centre of his business, was in fact a corn merchant of considerable wealth, and with opportunities of extending his connection much farther. Had his personal character been otherwise, Dr. May thought a young man could not have a better opening than a seat in his office, and the future power of taking shares in his trade; there need be no loss of position, and there was great likelihood both of prosperity and the means of extensive usefulness.

Ethel sighed at the thought of the higher aspirations that she had fostered till her own mind was set on them.

'Nay,' said the Doctor, 'depend upon it, the desk is admirable training for good soldiers of the Church. See the fearful evil that befalls great schemes intrusted to people who cannot deal with money matters; and see, on the other hand, what our merchants and men of business have done for the Church, and do not scorn "the receipt of custom."'

'But the man, papa!'

'Yes, there lies the hitch! If Leonard fails, I can lay things before Henry, such as perhaps he may be too young to know, and which must change his purpose.'

Mr. Axworthy's career during his youth and early manhood was guessed at rather than known, but even since his return and occupation of the Vintry Mill, his vicious habits had scandalized the neighbourhood, and though the more flagrant of these had been discontinued as he advanced in age, there was no reason to hope that he had so much 'left off his sins, as that his sins had left him off.' His great-nephew, who lived with him and assisted in his business, was a dashing sporting young man of no good character, known to be often intoxicated, and concerned in much low dissipation, and as dangerous an associate as could be conceived for a high-spirited lad like Leonard. Dr. May could not believe that any provocation of temper, any motive of economy, any desire to be rid of encumbrances to his courtship, could induce a man with so much good in him, as there certainly was in Henry Ward, to expose his orphan brother to such temptations; and he only reserved his remonstrance in the trust that it would not be needed, and the desire to offer some better alternative of present relief.

One of the examiners was Norman's old school and college friend, Charles Cheviot, now a clergyman and an under-master at one of the great schools recently opened for the middle classes, where he was meeting with great success, and was considered a capital judge of boys' characters. He was the guest of the Mays during the examination; and though his shy formal manner, and convulsive efforts at young lady talk, greatly affronted Gertrude, the brothers liked him.

He was in consternation at the decline of Stoneborough school since Mr. Wilmot had ceased to be an under-master; the whole tone of the school had degenerated, and it was no wonder that the Government inquiries were ominously directed in that quarter. Scholarship was at a low ebb, Dr. Hoxton seemed to have lost what power of teaching he had ever possessed, and as Dr. May observed, the poor old school was going to the dogs. But even in the present state of things, Leonard had no chance of excelling his competitors. His study, like theirs, had been mere task-work, and though he showed more native power than the rest, yet perhaps this had made the mere learning by rote even more difficult to an active mind full of inquiry. He was a whole year younger than any other who touched the foremost ranks, two years younger than several; and though he now and then showed a feverish spark of genius, reminding Mr. Cheviot of Norman in his famous examination, it was not sustained-there were will and force, but not scholarship-and besides, there was a wide blurred spot in his memory, as though all the brain-work of the quarter before his illness had been confused, and had not yet become clear. There was every likelihood that a few years would make him superior to the chosen Randall scholar, but at present his utmost efforts did not even place him among the seven whose names appeared honourably in the newspaper. It was a failure; but Mr. Cheviot had become much interested in the boy for his own sake, as well as from what he heard from the Mays, and he strongly advised that Leonard should at Easter obtain employment for a couple of years at the school in which he himself was concerned. He would thus be maintaining himself, and pursuing his own studies under good direction, so as to have every probability of success in getting an open scholarship at one of the Universities.

Nothing could be better, and there was a perfect jubilee among the Mays at the proposal. Aubrey was despatched as soon as breakfast was over to bring Leonard to talk it over, and Dr. May undertook to propound it to Henry on meeting him at the hospital; but Aubrey came back looking very blank-Leonard had started of his own accord that morning to announce to his uncle his acceptance of a clerk's desk at the Vintry Mill!

Averil followed upon Aubrey's footsteps, and arrived while the schoolroom was ringing with notes of vexation and consternation. She was all upon the defensive. She said that not a word had passed on the subject since the dinner-party, and there had not been a shadow of a dispute between the brothers; in fact, she evidently was delighted with Leonard's dignified position and strength of determination, and thought this expedition to the Vintry Mill a signal victory.

When she heard what the Mays had to propose, she was enchanted, she had no doubt of Henry's willing consent, and felt that Leonard's triumph and independence were secured without the sacrifice of prospects, which she had begun to regard as a considerable price for his dignity.

But Dr. May was not so successful with Henry Ward. He did not want to disoblige his uncle, who had taken a fancy to Leonard, and might do much for the family; he thought his father would have changed his views of the uncle and nephew had he known them better, he would not accept the opinion of a stranger against people of his own family, and he had always understood the position of an usher to be most wretched, nor would he perceive the vast difference between the staff of the middle school and of the private commercial academy. He evidently was pleased to stand upon his rights, to disappoint Dr. May, and perhaps to gratify his jealousy by denying his brother a superior education.

Yet in spite of this ebullition, which had greatly exasperated Dr. May, there was every probability that Henry's consent might be wrung out or dispensed with, and plans of attack were being arranged at the tea-table, when a new obstacle in the shape of a note from Leonard himself.

'My Dear Aubrey,

'I am very much obliged to Dr. May and Mr. Cheviot for their kind intentions; but I have quite settled with Mr. Axworthy, and I enter on my new duties next week. I am sorry to leave our corps, but it is too far off, and I must enter the Whitford one.

'Yours,

'L. A. Ward.'

'The boy is mad with pride and temper,' said the Doctor.

'And his sister has made him so,' added Ethel.

'Shall I run down to Bankside and tell him it is all bosh?' said Aubrey, jumping up.

'I don't think that is quite possible under Henry's very nose,' said Ethel. 'Perhaps they will all be tamer by to-morrow, now they have blown their trumpets; but I am very much vexed.'

'And really,' added Mr. Cheviot, 'if he is so wrong-headed, I begin to doubt if I could recommend him.'

'You do not know how he has been galled and irritated,' said the general voice.

'I wonder what Mrs. Pugh thinks of it,' presently observed the Doctor.

'Ah!' said Ethel, 'Mrs. Pugh is reading "John of Anjou".'

'Indeed!' said the Doctor; 'I suspected the wind was getting into that quarter. Master Henry does not know his own interest: she was sure to take part with a handsome lad.'

'Why have you never got Mrs. Pugh to speak for him?' said Mary. 'I am sure she would.'

'O, Mary! simple Mary, you to be Ave's friend, and not know that her interposition is the only thing wanting to complete the frenzy of the other two!'

Ethel said little more that evening, she was too much grieved and too anxious. She was extremely disappointed in Leonard, and almost hopeless as to his future. She saw but one chance of preventing his seeking this place of temptation, and that was in the exertion of her personal influence. His avoidance of her showed that he dreaded it, but one attempt must be made. All night was spent in broken dreams of just failing to meet him, or of being unable to utter what was on her tongue; and in her waking moments she almost reproached herself for the discovery how near her heart he was, and how much pleasure his devotion had given her.

Nothing but resolution on her own part could bring about a meeting, and she was resolute. She stormed the castle in person, and told Averil she must speak to Leonard. Ave was on her side now, and answered with tears in her eyes that she should be most grateful to have Leonard persuaded out of this dreadful plan, and put in the way of excelling as he ought to do; she never thought it would come to this.

'No,' thought Ethel; 'people blow sparks without thinking they may burn a house down.'

Ave conducted her to the summer-house, where Leonard was packing up his fossils. He met them with a face resolutely bent on brightness. 'I am to take all my household gods,' he said, as he shook hands with Ethel.

'I see,' said Ethel, gravely; and as Averil was already falling out of hearing, she added, 'I thought you were entirely breaking with your old life.'

'No, indeed,' said Leonard, turning to walk with her in the paths; 'I am leaving the place where it is most impossible to live in.'

'This has been a place of great, over-great trial, I know,' said Ethel, 'but I do not ask you to stay in it.'

'My word is my word,' said Leonard, snapping little boughs off the laurels as he walked.

'A hasty word ought not to be kept.'

His face looked rigid, and he answered not.

'Leonard,' she said, 'I have been very unhappy about you, for I see you doing wilfully wrong, and entering a place of temptation in a dangerous spirit.'

'I have given my word,' repeated Leonard.

'O, Leonard, it is pride that is speaking, not the love of truth and constancy.'

'I never defend myself,' said Leonard.

Ethel felt deeply the obduracy and pride of these answers; her eyes filled with tears, and her hopes failed.

Perhaps Leonard saw the pain he was giving, for he softened, and said, 'Miss May, I have thought it over, and I cannot go back. I know I was carried away by passion at the first moment, and I was willing to make amends. I was rejected, as you know. Was it fit that we should go on living together?'

'I do not ask you to live together.'

'When he reproached me with the cost of my maintenance, and threatened me with the mill if I lost the scholarship, which he knew I could not get, I said I would abide by those words. I do abide by them.'

'There is no reason that you should. Why should you give up all your best and highest hopes, because you cannot forgive your brother?'

'Miss May, if I lived with you and the Doctor, I could have such aims. Henry has taken care to make them sacrilege for me. I shall never be fit now, and there's an end of it.'

'You might-'

'No, no, no! A school, indeed! I should be dismissed for licking the boys before a week was out! Besides, I want the readiest way to get on in the world; I must take care of my sisters; I don't trust one moment to Henry's affection for any of them. This is no home for me, and it soon may be no home for them!' and the boy's eyes were full of tears, though his voice struggled for firmness and indifference.

'I am very sorry for you, Leonard,' said Ethel, much more affectionately, as she felt herself nearer her friend of Coombe. 'I am glad you have some better motives, but I do not see how you will be more able to help them in this way.'

'I shall be near them,' said Leonard; 'I can watch over them. And if-if-it is true what they say about Henry and Mrs. Pugh-then they could have a cottage near the mill, and I could live with them. Don't you see, Miss May?'

'Yes; but I question whether, on further acquaintance, you will wish for your sisters to be with their relations there. The other course would put you in the way of a better atmosphere for them.'

'But not for six years,' said Leonard. 'No, Miss May; to show you it is not what you think in me, I will tell you that I had resolved the last thing to ask Henry's pardon for my share in this unhappy half-year; but this is the only resource for me or my sisters, and my mind is made up.'

'O, Leonard, are you not deceiving yourself? Are the grapes ever so sour, or the nightshade below so sweet, as when the fox has leapt too short, and is too proud to climb?'

'Nightshade! Why, pray?'

'My father would tell you; I know he thinks your cousin no safe companion.'

'I know that already, but I can keep out of his way.'

'Then this is the end of it,' said Ethel, feeling only half justified in going so far, 'the end of all we thought and talked of at Coombe!'

There was a struggle in the boy's face, and she did not know whether she had touched or angered him. 'I can't help it,' he said, as if he would have recalled his former hardness; but then softening, 'No, Miss May, why should it be? A man can do his duty in any state of life.'

'In any state of life where God has placed him; but how when it is his own self-will?'

'There are times when one must judge for one's self.'

'Very well, then, I have done, Leonard. If you can conscientiously feel that you are acting for the best, and not to gratify your pride, then I can only say I hope you will be helped through the course you have chosen. Good-bye.'

'But-Miss May-though I cannot take your advice-' he hesitated, 'this is not giving me up?'

'Never, while you let me esteem you.'

'Thank you,' he said, brightening, 'that is something to keep my head above water, even if this place were all you think it.'

'My father thinks,' said Ethel.

'I am engaged now; I cannot go back,' said Leonard. 'Thank you. Miss May.'

'Thank you for listening patiently,' said Ethel. 'Good-bye.'

'And-and,' he added earnestly, following her back to the house, 'you do not think the Coombe days cancelled?'

'If you mean my hopes of you,' said Ethel, with a swelling heart, 'as long as you do your duty-for-for the highest reason, they will only take another course, and I will try to think it the right one.'

Ethel had mentally made this interview the test of her regard for Leonard. She had failed, and so had her test; her influence had not succeeded, but it had not snapped; the boy, in all his wilfulness, had been too much for her, and she could no longer condemn and throw him off!

Oh! why will not the rights and wrongs of this world be more clearly divided!

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