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them. “You shall have something long evenings, spending half her better when you have gone through silent intent life, so different to the these ; but I daresay you'll like outward one, so full of strange them-I used to myself,” said Val. self - absorption and concentrated Dick accepted them with devout feeling, in the watch. This somerespect; but I think the greatest thing out of herself, to attract her pleasure he got out of them was wandering visionary thoughts and when he ranged them in a little hold her passionate heart fast, was book-shelf he had himself made, and what the woman had wanted throughfelt as a bibliopole does when he out the strange existence which had arranges his fine editions, that he been warped and twisted out of all too had a library. Dick did not possibility at its very outset. Her wild care much for the stories of adven- intolerance of confinement, her desire ture with which Val fed him as a for freedom, her instinct of constant kind of milk for babes. He knew wandering, troubled her no more. of adventures on the road, of biv- She did her few domestic duties in ouacs out of doors, quite enough the morning, made ready Dick's in his own person. But he meals for him (and they lived with dearly liked to see them ranged Spartan simplicity, both having in his book-shelf. All kinds of cu- been trained to eat what they could rious instincts, half developed and get, most often by the roadsideunintelligible even to himself, were cold scraps of food which required in Dick’s mind,—the habits of a race no preparation), and kept his clothes of which he knew nothing-par- and her own in order; and all the tially burnt out and effaced by a long afternoon would sit there course of life infinitely different, watching for the skimming boat, yet still existing obstinately within the white jersey, with the dishim, and prompting him to he knew tinctive mark which she soon came not what. If we could study hu- to recognise. I think Val's jersey man nature as we study fossils and had a little red cross on the breaststrata, how strange it would be to an easy symbol to recollect. When trace the connection between Dick's he came down the river at last, and rude book-shelves, with the coarse left his boat, she went in with a little ornament he had carved on sigh, half of relief, from her watch, them, and the pleasure it gave him half of pain that it was over, and to range Val's yellow volumes upon began to prepare her boy's supper. that rough shelf—and the great glo- They held her whole existence thus rious green cabinets in Lady Esk- in suspense between them ; one side's drawing-room! Nobody was utterly ignorant of it, the other not aware of this connection, himself much better informed. When Dick least of all. And Val, who had an came in, tired but cheery, he would evident right to inherit so refined a show her the books Mr Ross had taste, cared as little for the Vernis- brought him, or report to her the Martin as though he had been born words he had said. Dick adored a savage ; by such strange laws, un- him frankly, with a boy's pride in all known to us poor gropers after his escapades; and there were few scraps of information, does inheri- facts in Val's existence which were tance go!
not known in that little house at All this time, however, Dick's the corner, all unconscious as he mother had not seen Val more than was of his importance there. One in his boat, for which she looked morning, however, Dick approached through all the sunny afternoons and this unfailing subject with a little embarrassment, looking furtively at has heard somehow how clever you his mother to see how far he might are; and if you would do it just once venture to speak.
to please him and me!” “You don't ever touch the cards She did not answer for a few now, mother ?” he said all at once, minutes. Dick thought she was with a guilty air, which she, ab- struggling with herself to overcome sorbed in her own thoughts, did not her repugnance. Then she replied, perceive.
with an altered and agitated voice, “ The cards ?-I never did when “For him I'll do it—you can bring I could help it, you know.”
him to-morrow.” “I know," he said, “but I don't “How kind you are, mother!” suppose there's no harm in it; it said Dick, gratefully. “ College aint you as put them how they breaks up the day after to-morrow," come. All you've got to do with it he added, in a dolorous voice. “I is saying what it means. Folks in don't know what I shall do without the Bible did the same — Joseph, him and all of them—the place for one, as was carried to the land won't look the same, nor I shan't of Egypt."
feel the same. Mayn't he come toThe Bible was all the lore Dick night? I think he's going off tohad. He liked the Old Testament morrow up to Scotland, as they're a great deal better than the ‘Head- all talking of. Half of 'em goes up less Horseman;' and, like otherwell- to Scotland. I wonder what kind informed persons, he was glad to of a place it is. Were we ever let his knowledge appear when there there ?" . was an occasion for such exhibitions. “Once—when you were quite a His mother shook her head.
child." “It's no harm, maybe, to them “'Twas there the tother little that think no harm,” she said ; “no, chap died ?” said Dick, compassionit aint me that settles them--who ately. “Poor mammy, I didn't mean is it? It must be either God or the to vex you. I wonder what he'd devil. And God don't trouble Him- have been like now if he'd lived. self with the like of that—He has Look here, mother, mayn't he come more and better to do; so it must to-night ?" be the devil; and I don't hold with “If you like," she said, trying to it, unless I'm forced for a living. seem calm, but deeply agitated by I can't think as it's laid to you this reference. He saw this, and then."
set it down naturally to the melan“I wish you'd just do it once to choly recollections he had evoked. please me, mother; it couldn't do “Poor mother,” he said, rising no harm."
from his dinner, "you are a feelin' She shook her head, but looked one! all this time, and you've never at him with questioning eyes. forgotten. I'll go away and leave
“Suppose it was to please a gen- you quiet; and just before lock-up, tleman as I am more in debt to than when it's getting dark, him and me I can ever pay-more than I want will come across. You won't say ever to pay," cried Dick, “except in nothing you can help that's dreadful doing everything to please him as if the cards turn up bad ?—and speak long as I live. You may say it aint as kind to him as you can, mother me as can do this, and that I'm tak- dear, he's been so kind to me." ing it out of you; but you're all I Speak as kind to him as you can ! have to help me, and it aint to save What words were these to be said to myself. Mother, it's Mr Ross as her whose whole being was disturbed
and excited by the idea of seeing gretted her decision then, or if she this stranger! Keep yourself from had ever allowed herself to think falling at his feet and kissing them; of it as a thing that could have from falling on his neck and weep- been helped, or that might still be ing over him. If Dick had but remedied. But by this time, at known, these were more likely things least, she had come to feel that it to happen. She scarcely saw her boy never could be remedied, and that go out, or could distinguish what Valentine Ross, Lord Eskside's heir, were the last words he said to her. could never be carried off to the Her heart was full of the other—the woods and fields as her son, as perother whose face her hungry eyes had haps a child might have been. He not been able to distinguish from was a gentleman now, she felt, with her window, who had never seen a forlorn pride, which mingled her, so far as he knew, and yet who strangely with the anguish of abwas hers, though she dared not say solute loss with which she realso, dared not claim any share in him. ised the distance between them, Dared not ! though she could not the tremendous and uncrossable have told why. To her there were gulf between his state and hers. barriers between them impassable. He was her son, yet never could She had given him up when he was know her, never acknowledge her, a child for the sake of justice, and -and she was to speak with him the wild natural virtue and honour that night. in her soul stood between her and the The sun had begun to sink, bechild she had relinquished. It seem- fore, starting up from her long ed to her that in giving him up she and agitated musing, the womanhad come under a solemn tacit en- ish idea struck her of making gagement never to make herself some preparations for his recepknown to him, and she was too tion, arranging her poor room and profoundly agitated now to be able her person to make as favourable to think. Indeed I do not think an impression as possible upon the that reasonable sober thought, built young prince who was her own upon just foundations, was ever pos- child. What was she to do? She sible to her. She could muse and had been a gentleman's wife once, brood, and did so, and had done so, though for so short a time; and
-doing little else for many a silent sometimes of late this recollection year; and she could sit still, men- had come strongly to her mind, with tally, and allow her imagination and a sensation of curious pride which mind to be taken possession of by a was new to her. Now she made tumult of fancy and feeling, which an effort to recall that strange chapdrew her now and then to a hasty ter in her life, when she had lived decision, and which, had she been among beautiful things, and worn questioned on the subject, she beautiful dresses, and might have would have called thinking — as, learned what gentlemen like. She indeed, it stands for thinking with had never seen Val sufficiently near many of us. It had been this con- to distinguish his features, and oddly fused working in her of recollection enough, ignoring the likeness of her and of a fanciful remorse which had husband which was in Dick, exdetermined her to give up Valen- pected to find in Valentine another tine to his father; and now that old Richard, and instinctively concluded fever seemed to have come back that his tastes must be what his again, and to boil in her veins. I father's were. After a short pause don't know if she had seriously re- of consideration she went to a trunk, which she had lately sent for to to exile and penury, deprived of her the vagrant headquarters, where it retinue and familiar pomp, but not had been kept for her for years-a of her natural dignity. The form trunk containing some relics of that of her fine head, the turn of her departed life in which she had been graceful shoulders, had not been “ a lady." Out of this she took a visible in her tramp dress. When little shawl embroidered in silken she had done everything she could garlands, and which had faded into think of to perfect the effect which colours even more tasteful and she prepared, poor soul, so carefully, sweet than they were in their new- she sat down, with what calm she est glories—a shawl for which Mr could muster, to wait for her boys. Grinder, or any other dilettante in Her boys, her children, the two Eton, would have given her almost who had come into the world at one anything she liked to ask. This birth, had lain in her arms together, she threw over a rough table of but who now were as unconscious Dick's making, and placed on it of the relationship, and as far divided, some flowers in a homely little as if worlds had lain between them ! vase of coarse material yet grace- Indeed she was quite calm and still ful shape. Here, too, she placed to outward appearance, having aca book or two drawn from the quired that power of perfect exsame repository of treasures-books ternal self - restraint which many in rich faded binding, chiefly passionate natures possess, though poetry, which Richard had given her heart beat loud in her head and her in his early folly. The small ears, performing a whole muffled table with its rich cover, its bright orchestra of wild music. Had any flowers and gilded books, looked stranger spoken to her she would like a little altar of fancy and grace not have heard ; had any one come in the bare room ; it was indeed an in, except the two she was expect. altar dedicated to the memory of the ing, I do not think she would have past, to the pleasure of the unknown. seen them, she was so utterly ab
When she had arranged this sorbed in one thought. touching and simple piece of in- At last she heard the sound of congruity, she proceeded to dress their steps coming up-stairs. The herself. She took off her printed light had begun to wane in the gown and put on a black one, which west, and a purple tone of half also came out of her trunk. She darkness had come into the golden put aside the printed handkerchief air of the evening. She stood up which she usually wore, tramp fa- mechanically, not knowing what shion, on her head, and brushed out she was doing, and the next moher long beautiful black hair, in ment two figures stood before herwhich there was not one white one well known, her familiar boy, thread. Why should there have the other! Was this the other ? been? She was not more than A strange sensation, half of pleathirty-five or thirty-six, though she sure, half of disappointment, shot looked older. She twisted her hair through her at sight of his face. in great coils round her head-a kind Val had come in carelessly enough, of coiffure which I think the poor taking off his hat, but with the ease creature remembered Richard had of a superior. He stopped short, liked. Her appearance was strangely however, when he saw the altogether changed when she had made this unexpected appearance of the woman simple toilet. She looked like some who was Dick's mother. He felt wild half-savage princess condemned a curious thrill come into his veins -of surprise, he thought. “I beg air of bewilderment, she said, hastily, your pardon," he said; “I-hope “ It is not by the hand I do it, but you don't mind my coming ? Brown by the cards." said you wouldn't mind."
“I ought to have crossed my "You are very welcome, sir,” she hand with silver, shouldn't I?" said said, her voice trembling in spite of Val, trying to laugh ; but he was her. “If there is anything I can excited too. do for you. You have been so kind “No, no,” she said, tremulously; —to my boy."
“no, no-my boy's mother can “Oh," said Val, embarrassed, with take none of your silver. Are you a shy laugh, “it pays to be kind as fond of him as he is fond of you?" to Brown. He's done us credit. I “Mother !” cried Dick, amazed say—what a nice place you've got at the presumption of this inquiry. here!"
“Well—fond ?” said Val, doubtHe was looking almost with con- fully; “yes, really I think I am, sternation at the beautiful embroid- after all, though I'm sure I don't ery and the books. Where could know why. He should have been a they have picked up such things ? gentleman. Mrs Brown, I am afraid He was half impressed and half it is getting near lock-up.” alarmed, he could not have told “My name is not Mrs Brown," why. He put out a furtive hand she said, quickly. and clutched at Dick's arm. “I “Oh, isn't it? I beg your parsay, do you think she minds ?” Val don,” said Val. “I thought as he had never been so shy in his life. was Brown-Mrs — ?"
“ You want me to tell you your “There's no Miss nor Missis fortune, sir ?” she said, recovering a among my folks. They call me little. “I don't hold with it; but Myra — Forest Myra," she said, I'll do it if you wish it. I'll do it hastily. “Dick, give me the cards, -once-and for you.”
and I will do my best.” “Oh, thanks, awfully,” cried Val, But Dick was sadly distressed to more and more taken aback—"if see that his mother was not doing you're sure you don't mind :” and her best. She turned the cards he held out his hand with a certain about, and murmured some of the timidity most unusual to him. She usual jargon about fair men and took it suddenly in both hers by an dark women, and news to receive, uncontrollable movement, held it and journeys to go. But she was fast, gazed at it earnestly, and bent not herself: either the fortune was down her head, as if she would have 80 very bad that she was afraid to kissed it. Val felt her hands tremble, reveal it, or else something strange and her agitation was so evident must have happened to her. She that both the boys were moved to threw them down at last impaunutterable wonder; somehow, I tiently, and fixed her intent eyes think, the one of them who won- upon Valentine's face. dered least was Valentine, upon “ If you have all the good I wish whom this trembling eager grasp you, you'll be happy indeed," she made the strongest impression. He said ; “but I can't do nothing tofelt as if the tears were coming to night. Sometimes the power leaves his eyes, but could not tell why. us.” Then she put her hand lightly
“It is not the hand I thought to on his shoulder, and gazed at him see,” she said, as if speaking to her- beseechingly. “Will you come self—" not the hand I thought.” again ?" she said. Then dropping it suddenly, with an "Oh yes," said Val, relieved.