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what was perhaps more important, his to satisfy the old people, who by this time daughters - from Miss Rintoul of five-- husband as well as wife — were, as the and-thirty to the little one of sixteen – servants said, altogether 6 wrapt up” in were ready as one woman to adopt his Val. Mary offended her friend still more cause, and wear his colours when the time by the perverse interest she took in the came. “What does it matter between Pringle family, and her many visits to the them, papa ? " said Miss Rintoul, who was Hewan, where Val was delighted to acvery strong-minded. “ Tory or Radical ; company her as often as she chose to go. what does it matter? They are all con- Violet was “in residence," as he said, at servative in office, and destructive out of the cottage, living a somewhat lonely life it. If I had a vote — and at my age it's a there, though the others of the family disgrace to England that I haven't came and went, spending a day or a night I should stand by friends and neigh- as they could manage it. I do not know bours. That's a better rule than your old if any thought of “falling in love" had fashioned Tory and Whig. A good man ever come into Valentine's boyish head; is the one thing needful; over whom, if but there was a delicate link of affection necessary, one can exert intelligent influ- and interest between Violet and himself ence,” said this amiable woman. I do which affected him he could not quite tell not think her papa, who was better aware how. As for poor little Vi, I fear her how very impossible it is to infuence young imagination had gone further than any human creature, was entirely of her Valentine's. It was not love in her case, opinion ; but he informed Willie Maitland perhaps, any more than in his ; but it was that probably on the whole, if no candi-fancy, which at seventeen is almost as date exactly of his own way of thinking strong. I think this was the primary appeared in the field, he would not hesi- reason of Mary's frequent visits to the tate to support Mr. Ross, if he carried out, Hewan. She saw what was going on in as there was every reason to expect, the the girl's young head and heart ; and with promise of his youth. Thus Val, in gay that intense recollection of the circumunconsciousness, was made to begin his stances which decided her own fate which canvassing before he was nineteen, and such gentlewomen, thrown out of the while still the episode of the university common path of life, often have, she had lay between him and public life. Lord conceived an almost exaggerated anxiety Eskside invited a large party for the ist for the fate of Vi, which seemed to be of September, and the house continued shaping itself after the model of her own. full up to the time of Val's departure for “I wish my dear old lady would not Oxford ; and besides this party of guests spoil that boy so,” she said one Septemat home, there was such a succession of ber morning, when she had walked alone entertainments given at Rosscraig as had through the woods to the Hewan. Her not been known before for many years,- pretty particular grey gown (for Mary not since Val's father was on his promo- was not without something of that precise tion, like Val. Mary Percival was one of order which it is usual to call old-maidthe party during this time, aiding Lady ishness, about her dress) was marked here Eskside to receive her guests and do the and there with a little spot from the damp honours of her house. She came. when ferns and grass, which she rubbed with it was definitely ascertained that Richard her handkerchief as she spoke, and which was not coming, as his parents wished. suddenly brought back to Violet's memHe wrote that he was deeply occupied, ory that one day of “playing truant” and that in the present state of Italian which had been about the sweetest of her politics it was impossible that he could life. Mary had perceived that Violet gave leave his post -a letter over which Lady la quick look for the other figure which Eskside sighed ; but as Mary came to generally followed, and that there was a make up the deficiency, there was some- droop of disappointment about her, when thing gained to atone for this loss.
she perceived that her visitor was alone. Mary, however, never would commit “ I wish she would not spoil that boy so. herself to that enthusiasm for Val which He is not a bad boy " his grandmother felt was her boy's due. “Is it possible you can mean Val?" She liked him very well, she said – oh, said Violet, with dignity, erecting her very well: he was a nice boy ; she was small head. very glad he had done so well at school, 1 “Yes, indeed, my dear, it is quite pos. and she hoped he would take a good place sible ; I do mean Val. He is a good boy at Oxford ; but I leave the reader to judge enough, if you would not all spoilbim with whether this mild approbation was likely 'adulation – as if he were something quite
extraordinary, and no one had ever seen even vice — but something that showed his like before."
me that I, and all I was, such as I was, “You do not like Val, Miss Percival - was nothing in the world to him - that you never did ; but he likes you, and al-noihing was of value to him but his own ways walks with you when you will let caprice. I never got over it, Violet. him.”
| You see me now growing old, unmarried ; - Ab, that is when I am coming here, and of course I never shall marry now, said Mary, with a momentary compunc- nor have young ones round me like your tion. Then perceiving a pleased glow mother — difiuse itself over li's face, she added, “Oh dear, Miss Percival,” cried Violet, quickly, " I mean, he likes to go with me with tears in her eyes, “ who cares for when it pleases himself; but if I were to being married ? What has that to do ask any little sacrifice of his will from with it? Is it not far finer, far grander, him, you would see how he would look. ) to live like you, forever constant to your He is one of the most self-willed boys I first love ? Is not that the best of all?" know.”
cried the little enthusiast, flushing with Violet did not make any answer. She visionary passion. Mary caught her by patted her foot upon the carpet, and the her pretty shoulders, shook her and corners of her little mouth were drawn ; kissed her, and laughed, and let one or down. She would have frowned had she two tears drop, a tribute, half to her own, known bow; as it was, she averted her half to the child's excitement. face in wrath and dismay.
į “ You little goose !” she cried. “Vi, I “ Violet, my dear, I take a great inter- saw him after, years after - such a man est in you," said Mary. “When I look at to waste one's life for !- a poor petty you, I sometimes think I see myself at dilettante, more fond of a bit of china your age. I don't like to think that you than of child or wife, or love or honour. may grow up to make a demigod of Val Ah, Vi, you don't understand me! but to - or indeed of any other."
think I might have been the mother of a “Miss Percival ! -I! Oh, how dare child like you, but for that poor creature you !- how can you say so !” cried Vio- of a man !'” let, springing to her feet, her face crim- “Oh, don't, don't !" cried Vi, putting son, ber eyes shining. “I! make a - her hands to her ears ; “ I will not listen anything of Val! Oh, how can you be to you, now. If you loved him," said the so unkind, you grown-up people ! Must girl, hesitating and blushing at the word, a girl never speak to a boy unless he is you never, never could speak of him her brother? And Val has been just like that.” like my brother. I think of him -as Il “I never - never could have been dethink of Sandy.''
ceived in him, — is that what you mean? “Oh, you little story-teller !” cried Vi, I hope you will never follow my exMary, laughing in spite of herself, as Vio- ample.” let's indignant voice faltered into uncer- "Holio !” cried another voice of some tainty ; " but, Vi, I am not going to scold one coming in at the door, which stood
don't be afraid. I am going to tell you open all day long, as cottage doors do for your good what happened to me. I "is there any one in – is Mary here? don't like doing it,” she said, with a blush Are you in, Vi ?” and Val's head, glowing that almost neutralized the difference of with a run up the brae, bright with liie age between herself and the girl who lis- and mirth, and something which looked tened to her; “but I think it may be for very much like boyish innocence and your good, dear. Violet, when I was your pleasure, looked in suddenly at the parage there was some one — whom I was lour door. Val was struck by consternaconstantly in the habit of seeing, as you tion when he saw the agitated looks which might be of seeing Val. There was never both endeavoured to hide. - What's the any — firtation or nonsense between us. row ?” he asked, coming in with his hat How shall I say it, Violet? – for I don't in his hand. “ You look as if you had care to speak of such things any more been crying. What have you been doing, than you would. I liked him, as I thought, Mary, to Vi?” as you do, like a brother; and he was: “ Scolding her,” said Miss Percival, always kept before me — never any one laughing. “I hope you have no objecbut Richard. After a wbile he went out tion, Val." into the world, and there did — some-t “But I have great objections ; nobody thing which separated us forever ! oh, shall bother Violet and make her cry, if I not anything wrong, Vi - not a crime, or can help it. She never did anything in
her life to deserve scolding. Vi,” cried | Ah, had it but been Valentine! He nevVal, turning to her suddenly, “ do you er would disappoint any one — never turn remember the day we played truant ? If into a dilettante, loving china better than Mary hadn't been here, I meant to carry child or wife. She kissed Mary in a you off again into the woods.”
little outburst of pity — pity so angelic Violet looked up first at him and then that Violet almost longed to change places at Mary: the first glance was full of de- with her, that she might see and prove light and tender gratitude, the other was for herself how different Valentine was. indignant and defiant. “Is this the boy As for Mary, she made herself responsi. you have been slandering ?” Vi's eyes | ble for this mad expedition with a great said, as plain as eyes could speak, to her confusion and mingling of feelings. She elder friend. Miss Percival rose and went, she said to herself, to prevent made the gentleman a curtsy.
harm ; but some strange mixture of a - If Mary is much in your way, she visionary maternity, and of a fellow-feelwill go ; but as Vi is a young lady now, ing quite incompatible with her mature perhaps Mary's presence would be rather | age, was in her mind at the same time. an advantage than otherwise. I put my- She said to herself, with a sigh, as she self at your orders, young people, for the went down the slope, that she might woods, or wherever you like."
have been the boy's inother, and let her “ Well," said Val, with the composure heart soften to him, as she had never of his age, “ perhaps it might be as well done before ; though I think this same if you would come too. Run to the thought it was which had made her feel a larder, Violet, and look if there's a pie. /little instinctive enmity to him, because I'll go and coax Jean for the old basket he was not her son but another woman's. - the very old basket that we had on How lightly the boy and girl tripped that wonderful day. Quick! and your along over the woodland paths, waiting cloak, Vi.” He rushed away from them for her at every corner, chattering their like a whirlwind ; and soon after, while happy nonsense, filling the sweet, mellow, the two ladies were still looking at each waving woods with their laughter! They other in doubt whether he should be hu-pushed down to the river, though the moured or not, Jean's voice was heard walk was somewhat longer than Mary approaching round the corner from her cared for, and brought her to the glade in
which the two runaways had eaten their 6 Pie ! Set you up with dainty dishes ! dinner, and where Vi had been found Na, Mr. Valentine, you'll get nae pie from asleep on Val's shoulder. “ It looks exme, though you have the grace to come actly as it did then, but how different we and ask for it this time ; but I'll make are!" cried Violet, on the warm, green you some sandwiches, if ye like, for (bank, where her shoes and stockings had you've a tongue like the very deil himself. I been put to dry. Mary sat down on the Oh ay — go away with your phrases. If sunny grass and watched them as they you were wanting onything you would poked into all the corners they rememtake little heed o' your good Jean, your bered and cailed to them with maternal old friend."
tremblings, when the boy once more led “ Listen,” said Mary to Vi.
the girl across the stepping-stones to the “No that ye're an ill laddie, when a's great boulder, by the side of which Esk said. You're not one of the mim-mouthed foamed and Aashed. She asked herself, ones, like your father before you ; but I was it possible that this bold brown boy wouldna say but you were more to be would ever turn to be like his father? lippened to, with all vour noise and your and tried to recollect whether Richard nonsense. There, go away with you. I'll had ever been so kind, so considerate of do the best I can, and you'll take care of any one's comfort, as Val was of Vi's. missie. Here's your basket till ye, ye Was it perhaps possible that, instead of wild lad.”
her own failure, this romance, so prettily Vi had grasped Mary's arm in return begun, might come to such a climax of when old Jean continued ; but being piti- happiness as romances all feign to end ful, the girl in her happiness would not in ? Mary, I fear, though she was so sensay anything to increase what she felt sible, became slightly foolish as she sat must be the pain of the woman by her under the big bank, and looked at the side. Vi had divined easily enough that it two in the middle of the stream together, was Valentine's father of whom Mary Esk roaring by over his rocks, and makspoke ; and the child pitied the woman, ing the words with which she called them who was old enough to be her mother.' back, quite inaudible. How handsome
Val looked, and how pretty and poetichis candidate was but eighteen, and for bis little companion ! The bank of wood the moment there was very little chance opposite was all tinted with autumn col- of a new election. Val, careless of the our, rich and warm. It was a picture effect he was intended to produce, and which any painter would have loved, and quite unconscious of his grandfather's it went to Mary's heart.
motives, was letting loose freely his boy“But you are too big, Val, to play at ish opinions, all marked, as we have said, the Babes in the Wood nowadays,” said with the Eton mark, which may be deold Lady Eskside, with a little wrinkle inscribed as Conservative in the gross with her brow, when she heard of the freak; / no very clear idea what the word means " and I wonder the Pringles leave that in detail, but a charming determination poor little thing by herself at the Hewan, to stick to it, right or wrong. Lord Esksometimes for days together. They say side smiled bevignly upon these effuit's for her health'; but I think it would sions, and so did most of his guests. be much better for her health if she were “ He has the root of the matter in him," under her mother's eye.”
said the old lord, addressing Sir John, “ But you must remember that I was who was as anxious as himself to have with them,” said Mary, “ representing a good man” elected for the county, her mother, or a middle-aged supervision but who had no son, grandson, or nephew at least.”
of his own; and Sir John nodded back “My dear," said Lady Eskside, half in genial sympathy. 'Mr. Pringle, howangry, half smiling, as she shook her ever, as was natural, being on the oppofinger at her favourite, “I have my doubts site side from the Rosses in everything, that you are just a romantic gowk; was also on the other side in politics, and though you might know better."
maintained an eloquent silence during this “ Yes, I might know better - if experi- part of the entertainment. He bided his enee could teach," said Mary ; but ex-time, and when there came a lull in the perience so seldom teaches, notwith-conversation (a thing that will happen standing all that is said to the contrary! occasionally), he made such an interpolaAnd Mary could not but reflect that Lady tion as showed that his silence arose Eskside had not frowned, but smiled from no want of inclination to speak. upon her own delusion. Perhaps in such “Your sentiments are most elevated, cases parental frowns are safer than Valentine," he said, “but your practice is smiles.
democratical to an extent I should scarcely
have looked for from your father's son. CHAPTER XXI.
I hope your friend the boatman at Eton THERE was a great dinner at Rosscraig is flourishing – the one you introduced before Val went to Oxford : as much fuss to my daughter and me?” made about him, the neighbours began to } “A boatman at Eton," said the old say, as was made for his father who came lord, bending his brows, “introduced to home so seldom, and had distinguished Violet? You are dreaming, Pringle. I himself in diplomacy, and turned out to hope Val knows better than that.'' be a man of whom the county could be “Indeed I think it shows very fine proud ; whereas Val was but an untried | feelings on Valentine's part — this was boy going to college, of whom no one one of nature's noblemen, I gathered from . could as yet say low he would turn out. what he said.” Mr. Pringle was invited to this great! “ Nature's fiddlestick !” exclaimed ceremonial, partly by way of defiance to Lord Eskside, and the Tory gentlemen show him how popular the heir was, and pricked up their ears. There was scarcely partly (for the two sentiments are not one of them who did not recollect, or incapable of conjunction) out of kind- find himself on the eve of recollecting, at ness, as recognizing his relationship. He that moment, that Val's mother was not came, and be listened to the remarks, a lady,' and that blood would out. couched in mysterious terms, yet compre- ! “I introduced him to you as a boathensible enough, which were made as to man, sir,” said Val, “not as anything Val's future connection with the county, else ; though as for noblemen, Brown is in grim silence. After dinner, when the worth twenty such as I have known with ladies had retired, and as the wine began handles to their name. We get to estito circulate, these allusions grew broader, mate people by their real value at Eton, and at length Mr. Pringle managed to not by their accidental rank," said the make out very plainly that old Lord Esk- youth splendidly, at which Mr. Pringle side was already electioneering, though I cried an ironical “ Hear, hear!”
“Gently, gently, my young friend," I think it does you infinite credit,” said said Sir John. “Rank is a great power Mr. Pringle, blandly. “I hope you have in this world, and not to be lightly spoken been having good sport at Castleton, of: it does not become you to talk lightly Lord Hightowers. You ought to have of it; and it does not agree with your come out to my little moor at Dalrulzian, fine Tory principles, of which I warmly Val. I don't know when the boys have approve."
had better bags." * What have Tory principles to do with And thus the conversation fell back it?” said Val. “A fellow may be rowdy into its ordinary channels ; indeed it bad or a snob though he is a lord ; and in that done so before this moment, the battle case at Eton, sir, whatever may happen about Brown having quickly failed to inat other places, we give him the cold terest the other members of the party. shoulder. I don't mean to set up Eton Lord Eskside sat bending his brows and for an example,” said Val, gravely, at straining his mind to hear, but as he had which there was a general roar.
the gracious converse of a Duke to at“ Bravo, bravo, my young Tory !” cried' tend to, he could not actually forsake the Duke himself, no less a person, who' that potentate to make out the chatter of on that night honoured Lord Eskside's the boys with his adversary. Thus Mr. table. “In that respect, if you are right, Pringle fired his first successful shot at Eton is an example, let any one who Val. The Tory gentlemen forgot the pleases take the other side.”
story, but they remembered to have “If Wales had been at Eton, and had heard something or other of a love of low been wowdy, we'd have sent him to Co-company on the part of Valentine Ross, ventry as soon as look at him," said Lord “which, considering that nobody ever Highiowers, smoothing an infantile down knew who his mother was, was perhaps on his upper lip.
not to be wondered at," some of the good * A very fine sentiment; but I don't people said. When Lady Eskside heard know if the antagonistic principle would of it, she was so much excited by the work,” said Mr. Pringle. “I am a Lib- malice of the suggestion, and expressed eral, as everybody knows; but I don't her feelings so forcibly, that Val blazed care about admitting boatmen to my in-up into one of his violent sudden pastimacy, however much I may contein an sions, and was rushing out to show Mr. unworthy peer.”
Pringle himself what was thought of his “ Did Brown intrude upon you ? ” said conduct, when his grandfather caught Valentine, bewildered ; "was he impu- him and arrested him. “Do you want dent ? did he do anything he oughtn't to ? to make fools of us all with your intemThough I could almost as soon believe perate conduct, sir," cried the old lord, that I had behaved like a cad myself, if fire flashing from under his heavy brows. you say so I'll go down directly and kick “ It is only a child that resents a slight ihe fellow.” And poor Valentine, flushed like this — a man must put up with a and excited, half rose from his seat. great deal and make no sign. Let the
“Bwown !” said Lord Hightowers from galled jade wince; my withers are unthe other side of the table. “Beg your wrung. That is the sort of sentiment pardon, but you're mistaken ; you must that becomes us,” I don't know if this be mistaken. Bwown ! best fellow that good advice would have mollified Val but ever lived. Awfully sorry he's not a gen- for the sudden appearance just then at tleman; but for a cad – no, not a cad – one of the windows which opened on the a common sort of working fellow, he's 'terrace, of Violet in her blue gown, whose the nicest fellow I ever saw. Couldn't innocent eyes turned to them with a look have been impudent - not possible. It which seemed to say, “ Don't, oh don't, ain't in him, eh, Ross ? or else I'd go and for my sake!” Of course Violet knew kick him too with pleasure," said the nothing about it, and meant nothing by young aristocrat calmly.
her looks. It was the expression habitual Between the fire of these two pairs of to her, that was all; but as the old man young eyes, Mr. Pringle was somewhat and the young, one hot with fury, the taken aback.
other calming down his rage, perceived * Oli, he was not impudent; on the 'the pretty figure outside, ihe old lord contrary, a well-informed nice young fel- 'dropped, as if it burned him, his hold on low. My only wonder was, that young gen- Val's arm, and Val himself stopped short, tlemen of your anti-democratical princi- and, so to speak, lowered his weapons. ples should make a bosom friend of a man “Is my lady in, please ?” said Violet of the people – that's all. For my part, through the glass — which was all she