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"To Dearport! Eh! To whom?' 'The Sisters,' said Felix.
A gruff sound followed. ‘Come, come, my dear lad, 'tis bad enough, but I'll do my best to make up to you. It will be much the best way for you to come out of this,' he added, glancing round the dreary fireless room, which his entrance had reminded Felix to darken.
* Thank you,' began Felix, not in the least supposing Edgar could go ; .but now
'It is not like a stranger,' added his relation. “Be a sensible lad. One out of the way is something under the circumstances. Stay–who can I see? I will give orders for you,' he added.
Mr. Audley and Sister Constance are seeing about things, thank you,' said Felix. “I'll fetch Mr. Audley,' he added, as another trying grunt at the other name fell on ear, and he put his arm round Geraldine, and helped her away.
Mr. Audley came, having just parted with the doctor, who had explained the sudden termination as what he had of late not thought improbable, and further shewn that it had been most merciful, since there might otherwise have been weeks, if not months, of much severer suffering. He had just looked in at the wife, but she had hardly noticed him, and he saw no dangerous symptoms about her, except an almost torpid calmness.
Mr. Thomas Underwood saw Mr. Bevan, and made it clearly understood that he made himself responsible for all expenses, including mourning for the whole family. He even offered to have the funeral at Vale Leston, 'if it were only to spite Fulbert Underwood;' but the wife was in no state to be asked, and the children shrank from the removal, so it was decided that Edward Underwood should sleep among those for whom he had spent his life, and where his children's lot for the present would be cast.
The cousin carried Edgar back to Centry with him; the boy seemed too unhappy not to be restless, and as if he were ready to do anything to leave his misery behind him.
The others remained with their preparations, and with such consolation as the exceeding sympathy and kindness of the whole town could afford them. Their mother remained in the same state, except when roused by an effort; and then there was an attention and presence of mind about her that gave anxiety lest excitement should be bringing feverishness; but she always fell back into her usual state of silence, such that it could be hardly told whether it were torpor or not.
They looked out that half-finished comment on the Epistle to the Philippians. It stopped at the words-- Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.'
Mr. Audley took those words for his text on the Sunday, and not without breaking down more than once, read as much of the comment
as there was time for, as the happy-hearted message of the late pastor, for whom indeed there were many tears shed. It seemed to suit with that solemn peace and nobleness, that seemed almost like the “likeness of the Resurrection' face, bringing back all the beauty of his countenance as he lay robed in his surplice, with a thorny but bright-fruited cross of holly on his breast, when his children looked their last, ere parting with what remained of that loved and loving father.
Poor little Geraldine spent that worst hour of her life sitting by her mother's bed. She had been helped by Felix to that Feast which had been spread for the mourners in the church in early morning; but afterwards she was forced to remain at home, while the white-robed choir, the brother clergy of all the neighbourhood, and the greater part of the parish, met their pastor for the last time in the church.
There the first part of the service took place; and then-Cherry could just fancy she could hear the dim echo of the Dies Iræ, as it was sung on the way to the cemetery. It was a very aching heart, poor child ! full of the dull agony of a longing that she knew could never be satisfied again, the intense craving for her father.
She missed him more really than any of them, she had been so much his companion ; and she was the more solitary from the absence of Edgar, who had always been her chief partner in her pursuits. His departure had seemed like a defection; and yet she had reproached herself for so feeling it when he had ran up-stairs, on arriving with Mr. Underwood, looking paler, more scared and miserable, than any of them; and he was sobbing so much when he took his place in the procession, that Wilmet had made Felix take Alda, that she might support him. None of his mother's steady reserve and resolute stillness had descended to him, he was all sensibility and nervousness; and Geraldine, though without saying this to herself, felt as if 'poor Edgar' might really have been nearly killed by the last few days of sadness, he could bear depression so little. She could hardly have gone through them but for Sister Constànce's kindness, and that rocking process from Felix, which she and he called “being his great baby. And now, when her mother looked up at her, held out a hand, and called her Papa's dear little Cherry, drawing her to lay her cheek by hers on the pillow, there was much soothing in it, though therewith the little girl felt a painful doubt and longing to know whether her mother knew what was passing; and even while perfectly aware that she must not be talked to nor disturbed, was half grieved, half angry, at her dropping off into a slumber, and awakening only upon little Stella's behalf. Those few words to Geraldine had been the only sign that day of perception of any existence in the world save that of the twins.
So the time went by, and the little bustle of return was heard ; Sister Constance came in, kissed Geraldine, and helped her down that she might be with Edgar, who was to return with the cousin, whispering to her by the way that it had been very beautiful. It was a day of
bright sunshine, high wind, and scant sparkling feathery stars of snow, that sat for a moment shining in their pure perfectness of regularity on the black, and then vanished. “So like himself,' Sister Constance said.
Geraldine found her four elders and the three little boys all together in the dining-room; and while Wilmet anxiously asked after Mother, the others, in a sort of sad elation, told of the crowds present, the number of clergy-Mr. Ryder, too, come home from his holiday on purpose--the sobbing people, and the wreaths of camellias and of holly that loving hands had made, and laid upon the coffin. And then the last hymn had been so sweet and beautiful, they all seemed refreshed and comforted except Edgar, who, coming fresh back to the desolation of the house, was in another paroxysm of grief.
But, Edgar,' said Alda timidly, 'you like being there, don't you ?' “As if one could like anything now!'
'Well! but, Eddy dear, you know what I mean. It is not bad being there.'
‘Not so bad as being at home. Oh! and a terrible fit of sobbing came on, which made the other children stand round rather appalled ; while Felix hesitating, said,
'It is no good going on in this way, Edgar. Father would say it was not right; and you are upsetting poor little Cherry.'
'It is worse for him, because he has been away,' said Cherry, fondling him.
“Yes,' said Edgar between his sobs. It did not seem so there.' ‘And are they kind ?
"Oh, yes. Marilda let me sit in the school-room, and I had books, and things to copy; such an angel, Cherry, I'll bring it to you next time-my copy, I mean.'
Here there was a summons from the other room for Felix.
"Yes,' said Edgar, a good deal re-invigorated by having something to tell; “I suppose they are going to tell him what is settled. Mr. Underwood wrote to the man at Vale Leston, and he won't do anything for us; but they are going to try for the Clergy Orphan for one of you two little boys.'
*Oh! there was a great gasp. * And about me?' asked Alda.
“You are to come when we all go to London—to meet us at the station. There's a new governess coming, and you will start both together with her; and I think you'll beat Marilda, for she knows nothing, and won't learn.'
I hope she won't be jealous.' 'I don't think it is in her! She's very jolly.' “But I can't go till Mamma is better.'
Wilmet felt they were falling into a gossiping kind of way that jarred on her, and was glad of a summons up-stairs.
Mr. Thomas Underwood saw Alda before he returned home, told her she was his other daughter, and should join them on their way to London; and he further made arrangements about the christening, contingent, of course, on the mother's consent, and on the possibility of taking the very small delicate babies to the church. He made very extensive promises of patronage for the future, with a full and open heart, and looked as if he should like to adopt the whole family on the spot.
(To be continued.)
BERTRAM; OR, THE HEIR OF PENDYNE.
PART II.-CHAPTER XIII.
* What can have detained your mother in this way, Adela ?' Lord Pendyne was walking up and down, and looking out of each window in turn. “If she does not come soon I must really go off and see what has become of her.'
O Papa, you were not to have gone out to-day. Let us send. You will not like me to go to Mr. Gray's rooms.'
Not without me; but I must go, I am getting so uneasy.' “Then take me with you, Papa.'
• Very well. Yes; I will order something at once.” Then he walked up and down a little longer, but the carriage did not return.
• And Uncle Bertram too, where is he?'
• Uncle Bertram would never know whether one hour had gone by or six if he were amused.'
• But he would if he were waiting. He hates waiting. Now let us come. I can't think about rain, I am too anxious.'
So was Adela, and very glad to set off.
They drove to the young painter's door, where stood the Earl's carriage, as it had stood for hours.
Where is Lady Pendyne?'
The Earl pushed at the open door. He was too uneasy to wait, and ran up the stairs much faster than was good for him.
The door of Robin's room was closed; he breathlessly entered, to find his wife still senseless on the floor, and the wet parcel clasped tightly in her hands.
* Ada! come quickly here!' from the window.
Adela ran in, and both together they raised the Countess from her position.
‘But she had better remain so, Papa,' said Adela; "she has fainted. Let me find some water.'
• Is it only fainting ?' said the Earl, shaking from head to foot.
Only fainting, I believe.- Do not faint too,' said Adela, alarmed for both her parents.
What is this Mamma has ? A baby's little shirt ! She bathed Lady Pendyne's face with some water which was near, and then opened the window as wide as possible.
"See, she is coming to now, Papa.'
They disengaged the little damp heap which her hands were pressing bo closely.
Two discoloured little gold lockets fell out upon the floor. The Earl picked them up.
Pressing the spring of one of them, it opened to his touch. Then he took up the wet heap, and shook out various articles of a child's apparel.
Pretty little things they were, with beautiful embroidered work, and a cypher and crest.
Adela was attending to her mother, and concluded that the Earl was watching with an anxiety at least equal to her own. Looking up, however, she saw the work of inspection going on.
* Those are Mr. Gray's things, whatever they are,' said she presently.
Again she turned towards the Countess. Her father made no reply to her remark, so presently she looked up again. Lord Pendyne looked pale and greatly agitated, but that was of course his anxiety regarding his wife. Still he had not given up his inspection.
• Those belong to Mr. Gray, Papa, whatever they are,' repeated Adela.
• They belong to me,' returned the Earl, in a hollow voice. These lockets, Ada, I bought for my two darlings, more than eighteen years ago; and see, this is your mother's hair and mine.'
He opened one of the lockets and held it out before his daughter; then putting the trinkets into his waistcoat pocket, he sat down by Ada's side, and watched for the returning consciousness of his wife.
Slowly, very slowly, did she revive; then they locked up the drawer, with all but the little wet heap, that must come to its true home with the lockets.
They led the Countess into her carriage, and took her home; one of the men going round to summon their usual medical attendant.
There was very little further conversation that day, and no way of accounting for the mysterious discovery made by the Countess in Robin's studio.
How came he to possess the little garments and lockets ? For how long had they been in his possession ? and why, as he must now be acquainted with the arms of the family, had he failed to make some efforts to restore the property to its rightful owner ?
The Earl was perplexed as lie lay upon the sofa, and the Countess puzzled over the problem in her room, with Adela by her side; but they felt too ill and too agitated to bring it under discussion when they were together.