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   Chapter 43 THE DUKE'S WARD.

The Lost Lady of Lone By Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Sout Characters: 19243

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:02


The next morning, at the appointed hour, the Duke of Hereward drove to Langham's, and sent up his card to Mr. John Scott.

The youth himself, to show the greater respect, came down to the public parlor where the duke waited, and after most deferentially welcoming his visitor, conducted him to his own private apartment.

"I see by your mother's letter, as well as by her will, that she has done me the honor to appoint me your guardian," said the elder man, as soon as they were seated alone together, and cautiously eyeing the younger, so as to detect, if possible, how much or how little he knew or suspected of the true relationship between them.

"My mother did me the honor to consign me to your grace's guardianship, if you will be so condescending as to accept the charge," replied the youth, with grave courtesy and in his turn eyeing the duke to see, if possible, what might be his feelings and intentions toward himself.

The duke bowed and then said:

"I would like to carry out your mother's views and your own wishes, if possible. She mentioned in her letter the army as a career for you. Do you wish some years hence to take a commission in the army?"

"I did, your grace: but now I prefer to leave myself entirely in your grace's hands," cautiously replied the youth.

"But in the matter of choosing a profession you must be left free. No one but yourself can decide upon your own calling with any hope of ultimate success. Much mischief is done by the officiousness of parents and guardians in directing their sons or wards into professions or callings for which they have neither taste nor talent," said the duke.

The youth smiled slightly; he could but see that the duke was utterly perplexed as to his own course of conduct, and to cover his confusion he was only talking for talk's sake.

"You will let me know your own wishes on this subject, I hope, young sir," continued the elder.

"My only wish on the subject is to leave myself in your grace's hands. I feel confident that whatever your grace may think right to do with me, will be the best possible thing for me," replied the boy, with more meaning in his manner, as well as in his words, than he had intended to betray.

The duke looked keenly at him; but his fair impassive face was unreadable.

"Well, at all events, it is, perhaps, time enough for two or three years to come to talk of a profession for you. Would you like to enter one of the universities? Are you prepared to do so?" suddenly inquired the guardian.

"I would like to go to Oxford. But whether I am prepared to do so, I do not know. I do not know what is required. I have a fair knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and of the higher mathematics. I was in course of preparation to enter one of the German universities, when my good tutor, Father Antonio, died," replied the youth.

The duke dropped his gray head upon his chest and mused awhile, and then said:

"I think that you had better read with a private tutor for a while; you will then soon recover what you may have lost since the death of your good teacher, and make such further progress as may fit you to go to Oxford at the next term. What do you think? Let me know your views, young sir."

"Thanks, your grace; I will read with any tutor you may be pleased to recommend," respectfully answered the youth.

"You are certainly a most manageable ward," said the guardian, dryly, and with, perhaps, a shade of distrust in his manner.

The boy bowed.

"Well, since you place yourself so implicitly in my hands, I must justify your faith as well as your mother's by doing the very best I can for you. There is a very worthy man, the Vicar of Greencombe, on one of my estates, down in Sussex, near the sea. He is a ripe scholar, a graduate of Trinity College, Oxford, and occasionally augments his moderate salary by preparing youth for college. I will direct my secretary to write to him this morning to know if he can receive you, and I will let you know the result in a day or two."

"Thanks, your grace."

"And now how are you going to employ your time while waiting here?"

"By taking a good guide-book, your grace, and going through London. Your grace will remember that I am a perfect stranger here, and even one of your great historical monuments, such as Westminster Abbey or the Tower, has interest enough in it to occupy a student for a week."

"I commend your taste in the occupation you have sketched out for your time. I must request you, however, to take great care of yourself, and to be here every day at this hour, as I shall make it a point to look in upon you."

"Thanks, your grace."

"And now good-day," said the visitor, offering his hand, and then abruptly leaving the room.

The youth, however, with the most deferential manner, attended him down stairs and to his carriage, and only took his leave, with a bow, when the footman closed the door.

Again as soon as his back was turned upon his father, the youth's face changed and darkened, and-

"I bide my time-I bide my time," he muttered to himself as he re-ascended the stairs.

He had not deceived his guardian, however, as to the manner in which he meant to spend his time while in London. At this time of his unfortunate position he had not yet contracted any evil habits, and he had a genuine liking for interesting antiquities. So, after partaking of a light luncheon, he went out, guide-book in hand and spent the whole day in studying the architectural glories and the antique monuments in Westminster Abbey.

The second day he passed among the gloomy dungeons and bloody records of the Tower of London.

On the third day he received another visit from the Duke of Hereward, who came to tell him the Reverend Mr. Simpson, the Vicar of Greencombe, had returned a favorable answer to his letter, and would be happy to receive Mr. Scott in his family.

"Now I do not wish to hurry you my dear boy; but I think the sooner you resume your long-neglected studies, the better it will be for you," said the duke, speaking kindly, but watching cautiously, as was his constant habit when conversing with this unacknowledged son.

"I am ready to go the moment your grace commands," answered the young man.

"I issue no commands to you, my boy. I will give you a letter of introduction to Dr. Simpson, which you may go down and deliver at your own leisure. If you choose to spend a week longer in London to see what is to be seen, why do so, of course. If not, you can run down to Greencombe to-day or to-morrow. It is about two hours' journey by the London and South Coast Railroad from the London Bridge Station."

"I will go down this afternoon."

"That is prompt. That is right. All you do my boy, all I see of you, commends you more and more to my approval and esteem. Go this afternoon, by all means. I will myself meet you at the station, to see you off and leave with you my letter of introduction. Stay; by what train shall you go? Ah! you do not know anything about the trains. Ring the bell."

The youth complied.

A waiter appeared, a Bradshaw was ordered and consulted, and the five P. M. express fixed upon as the train by which the youth should leave London.

The duke then took leave of the boy, with an admonition of punctuality.

"Well," said John Scott to himself, as soon as he was left alone, "if my father gives me nothing else, he is certainly disposed to give me my own way. Perhaps in time he may give me all my rights. If so, well. If not-I bide my time," he repeated.

At the appointed hour the guardian and ward met at the depot.

The duke placed the promised letter in the youth's hand, saw him into a first-class carriage, and there bade him good-by.

John Scott sped down into Sussex as fast as the express train could carry him, and the Duke of Hereward went back to Hereward House, much relieved by the departure of the youth, whose presence in London had seemed like an incubus upon him.

The deeply injured boy had departed; but-so also had the father's peace of mind, forever! Certainly he was now relieved of all fear of an unpleasant ecclaircissement; but he was not freed from remorse for the past, or from dread for the future.

He told the duchess that day at dinner that a ward had been left to his guardianship, that this ward was, in fact, the son of a near relation, and bore the family name, which made it the more incumbent upon him to accept the charge; and, finally, that he had sent the boy down to Dr. Simpson, at the Greencombe Vicarage, to read for the university.

The duchess was not in the least degree interested in the duke's ward, and rather wondered that he should have taken the trouble to tell her anything about him; but the duke did so to provide for the future contingency of an accidental meeting between the duchess and the boy, so that she might suppose him to be a blood relation, and thus understand the family likeness without the danger of suspecting a truth that could not be explained to her.

But the duke could not silence the voice of conscience and affection. The deeply-wronged boy whom he had sent away was his own first-born son-the son of his first marriage and of his only love; and he had wronged him beyond the power of man to help! He was the rightful heir of his title and estates, yet he could never inherit them; he had been delegalized by his father's own hasty, reckless and cruel act; and for no fault of the boy's own-before he was capable of committing any fault-before his birth-he was disinherited.

All this so worked upon the duke's conscience t

hat he could not give his mind to his ordinary vocations.

But about this time, the duchess, through the death of a near relative, inherited a very large fortune, principally in money.

With this she wished to purchase an estate in Scotland. And so, when Parliament rose, the duke and duchess went to Scotland, personally to inspect certain estates that were for sale there; for the duchess said that, in the matter of choosing a home to live in, she would trust no eyes but her own.

It seemed, however, that neither of the seats in the market pleased the lady, and she had given up her quest in despair, when the duke suggested that, before leaving Scotland, they should make a visit to the famous historical ruins of Lone Castle, in Lone, on Lone Lake, which had been in the Scott-Hereward family for eight centuries.

It was while they were tarrying at the little hotel of the "Hereward Arms," and making daily excursions in a boat across the lake to the isle and to the ruins, that the stupendous idea of restoring the castle occurred to the duke's mind-and not only restoring it as it had stood centuries before, a great, impregnable Highland fortress, but by bringing all the architectural and engineering art and skill of the nineteenth century to bear upon the subject, transforming the ruined castle and rocky isle and mountain-bound lake into the earthly paradise and century's wonder it afterwards became.

What vast means were used, what fortunes were sacrificed, what treasures were drawn into the maelstrom of this mad enterprise, has already been shown.

It is probable, however, that the duke would not have thrown himself so insanely into this work had it not seemed a means of escaping the torture of his own thoughts.

He could restore the old Highland stronghold, and transform the barren, water-girt rock into a garden of Eden; but he could not restore the rights of his own disinherited son.

He had consulted some among the most eminent lawyers in England, putting the case suppositiously, or as the case of another father and son, and the unanimous opinion given was that there could be no help for such a case as theirs; and even though the father had had no other heir, he could not reclaim this disinherited one.

It was not with unmingled regret that the duke heard this opinion given. It certainly relieved him from the fearful duty of having to oppose the duchess and all her family, as he would have been obliged to do, had it been possible to restore his eldest son to his rights; for the duchess would not have stood by quietly and seen her son set aside in favor of the elder brother.

The duke spoke of his ward from time to time, so that in case the duchess should ever meet him, or hear of him from others, she could not regard him as a mystery that had been concealed from her, or look upon his likeness to the family with suspicion.

But the duchess seemed perfectly indifferent to the duke's ward, or if she did interest herself, it was only slightly or good-naturedly, as when she answered the duke's remarks, one day, by saying:

"If the dear boy is a relative of the family, however distant, and your ward besides, why don't you have him home for the holidays?"

"Oh, schoolboys at home for the holidays are always a nuisance. He will go to Wales with Simpson and his lads, when they go for their short vacation," answered the duke, not unpleased that his wife took kindly to the notion of his ward.

In due time the youth entered Oxford. The duke spoke of the fact to the duchess. Then she answered not so good-humoredly as before; indeed, there was a shade of annoyance and anxiety in her tones, as she said:

"Oxford is very expensive, and a young man may make it quite ruinous. I hope the youth's friends have left him means enough of his own. I would not speak of such a matter," she added apologetically, "only the restoration of Lone seems so to swallow up all our resources as to leave us nothing for charitable objects."

"The youth has ample means for educational purposes, and to establish him in some profession. Of course, he cannot indulge in any of those university extravagances and dissipations that are the destruction of so many fine young men; but, then, he is not that kind of lad; a steady, studious boy, brought up by-a widowed mother and a priest," answered the duke, with just a slight faltering in his voice, in the latter clause of his speech.

"Such boys are more apt than others to develop into the wildest young men," replied the lady; and circumstances proved that she was right.

John Scott, at Trinity College, Oxford, passed as the grand-nephew of the Duke of Hereward, and the next in succession, after the young Earl of Arondelle to the dukedom.

The young Earl of Arondelle was still at Eton. And the duke determined to send him from Eton to Cambridge, instead of Oxford, where John Scott was at college; for the father of these two boys wished them never to meet!

At Oxford, John Scott, as the grand-nephew of the Duke of Hereward, bearing an unmistakable likeness to the family, and being, besides, a young man of pleasing address, soon won his way among the most exclusive of the aristocrats there; and pride and vanity tempted him to vie with them in extravagant and riotous living!

His income only was limited, his credit was unlimited. When his money fell short, he ran into debt; and at the end of the first term his liabilities were alarming, or would have been so to a more sensitive mind.

It is true, the amount was much greater than his inexperience had led him to expect; but he only smiled grimly when he had all his bills before him, and had estimated the sum total, and he said to himself:

"If my allowance will not support me here like a gentleman, my father must make up the deficiency, that is all!"

The Duke of Hereward was indeed confounded when his ward wrote to him and told him boldly that he wanted fifteen hundred pounds for immediate necessities-namely, twelve hundred for the liquidation of debts, and three hundred for traveling expenses.

But could he scold the poor, disinherited boy, who, kept to himself at Oxford, had doubtless fallen among thieves and been mercilessly fleeced.

No; he would pay these debts out of his own pocket, and write the young man a kind letter of warning against the university sharks.

The duke carried out this resolution, and John Scott, freed from debt, and with three hundred pounds in his possession, went on a holiday tour through the country.

He had heard at Oxford of the rising glories of Lone, and determined to take his holiday in that neighborhood.

It happened that the Duke and Duchess of Hereward, with the Marquis of Arondelle, and their attendants, went that summer to Baden-Baden; so when the Oxonion arrived at the "Hereward Arms," in the hamlet of Lone, and, from his age and his exact likeness to the family, was mistaken for the heir, there was no one to set the people right on the subject.

The obsequious host of the Hereward Arms called him "my lord," and inquired after his gracious parents, the duke and the duchess.

John Scott did not actually deceive the people as to his identity, but he tacitly allowed them to deceive themselves. He did not tell them that he was the Marquis of Arondelle; neither did he contradict them when they called him so. Nor did his conscience reproach him for his silent duplicity. He said to himself:

"I am the rightful Marquis of Arondelle. They do but give me my own just title! If this comes to the ears of the duke and brings on a crisis, I will tell him so!"

While he was in the neighborhood, he went up to Ben Lone on a fishing excursion, and there, as elsewhere, on the Scottish estate, he was everywhere received as the Marquis of Arondelle. There John Scott first met by accident the handsome shepherdess, Rose Cameron, and fell in love for the first time in his young life.

We have already seen how the Highland maiden, flattered by the notice of the supposed young nobleman, encouraged those attentions without returning that love.

After this, John Scott spent all his holidays at Lone, and much of them in the society of the handsome shepherdess. His attentions in that direction were regarded with strong disapproval by his father's tenantry, but it was not their place to censure their supposed "young lord," and so they only expressed their sentiments with grave shaking of their heads.

During the progress of the work, the ducal family never came to Lone, so that the tenantry there were never set right as to the identity of John Scott.

Only once the duke made a visit, to inspect the progress of the workmen. He stopped at the Hereward Arms, and there heard nothing of the pranks of John Scott, although, upon one occasion, he came very near doing so.

The landlord respectfully inquired if they should have the young marquis up there as usual.

The duke stared for a moment, and then answered:

"You are mistaken. Arondelle does not come up here. Whatever are you thinking of, my man?"

The host said he was mistaken, that was all, and so got himself out of his dilemma the best way he could, and took the first opportunity to warn all his dependents and followers that they were not to "blow" on the young marquis.

"He was an unco wild lad, nae doobt, but his feyther kenned naething about his pranks, and sae the least said, sunest mended," said the landlord.

And thus, by the pranks of his "double," the reputation of the excellent young Marquis of Arondelle suffered among his own people.

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