Page images
PDF
EPUB

of bustle? And then he's so absent in mind when he is at home. He'll be a regular oddity soon, if he goes on in that way.'

"This is all lately?'

Oh! it's come on gradually, but this last week it's marvellous. On Monday night he was at Whitefield all night, on Tuesday he never got here till bedtime, on Wednesday he posted off to breakfast in town in the evening he was here certainly, but he might as well have been away, he was so closely shut up in his room writing and burning papers.

Such trouble as Jemima had with the grate, all blackened and smeared with wax.'

• Is he to be here soon ?'

Soon ! no; not till very late, if at all, he said. So you see what a lovely time I have of it.'

Yes; it is fortunate you have so many neighbours; and then, too, this is a rare occur. rence: generally speaking, no one can be more domesticated than Mordaunt; no one kinder or more considerate.'

"You did not always say so.'

No, mamma, because I was young, ignorant, headstrong, ungrateful. I have grown older by more than years—I am a mother, and I know now the virtue of obedience and gratitude.' VOL. II.

Q

room.

Laura sighed very deeply, and paused, for she thought the servant had come into the

It was, however, Mordaunt, who had heard her closing sentence, and with surprise and emotion took her hand in his.

‘A knowledge very precious, Laura, even as regards our fellow-creatures ; most precious as regards Him to whom we owe everything.'

'I am so glad to see you,' she exclaimed, joyfully, but confused by her self-betrayal. Mamma did not expect you for hours.'

Oh ! Laura, your cousin has altered much of late. You recollect how wearingly fond he was of punctuality—if one were a minute late for breakfast, it was such a crime ! he is the very antipodes of order. thing would have brought him, it would be our having just finished tea, and needing to make fresh for him.'

Mordaunt's look at Mrs. Cuthbert was longer and sadder than usual, but he spoke no hasty retort. On the contrary, he replied, kindly, 'I am sure you would not really grudge the trouble if I did want it, but I don't; I am going out again directly, and perhaps shall not return to-night.

There,' Mrs. Cuthbert exclaimed, half tri

But now

If any

ness.

umphantly, half provoked ; ' and of course you wont tell me where you are going. Never mind, I wont inquire; I never was inquisitive. But you see, Laura, how he carries on now.'

This was lost on Mordaunt, who had passed out of the room, and was heard ascending the stairs.

'Dear mamma,' Laura said, gently, 'don't worry yourself. Mordaunt is not a boy; and we have tested for years his wisdom and good

What occasion to be anxious about him ? He has good reasons for it all, I don't doubt.'

But Mrs. Cuthbert chose to be uneasy, and irritated, and chafed, even by Laura's defence of her cousin. The latter soon saw that silence was her best policy, but she resolved to be actively useful, so she persuaded her mother to let her make some coffee for him ; and as he came down again she met him with a tempting cup in her hand.

You know I am vain of my coffee-making powers, so don't refuse to compliment them.'

He took it with a smile ; it was hot, strong, delicious, and proved a grateful refreshment.

'How jaded you are !' Laura said, involuntarily glancing solicitously at his grave countenance. A quick answering look of caution warned her to be silent.

'Laura,' he half-whispered, as he restored to her the empty cup, can you come here, not to-morrow evening, but the evening after; and bring your boy with you again ? It will be a favour to me.' • Certainly, if you

wish it.' Again the admonitory glance, a kind goodnight to all, and he was gone.

Carefully dressed, too ! Mrs. Cuthbert cried aloud, as the outer door closed. And tell me that is business!

What a hypocrite he is !

6

CHAPTER XVI.

The firm, steadfast bosom, upon which a past full of torture has weighed in vain, will many a time, like a piece of ice that has been often overflowed, break down beneath the gentlest footstep of Destiny.

RICHTER.

[ocr errors]

DO assure you, Miss Desborough, you

are only wasting your strength just now. He is certain to sleep on; I can read here as comfortably as at home, and you can trust him with me.

Go, like a reasonable creature, and sleep for a little.'

Dr. Lee watched her tardy and reluctant departure, and then with much satisfaction drew her reading-table to his side, and began to ransack it for an interesting book. But Jane, instead of going to lie down, went quietly into the library, and there sought refreshment, not in slumber, but in thought. She sat in the bay window, in the chair which had once been Mr. Carisbroke's; she marked with listless eyes the shadows of the evening stealing

« PreviousContinue »