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famous; and as he listened to Rachel's eager questions and listened to Mr. Woodham's replies, he wondered people living in a world full of present facts and hopes and failures could completely identify themselves with a period so remote that to his thinking the mists of time had gathered around and almost obscured it from sight.
Still he was very glad Rachel should be thus amused. He wanted her thoroughly to enjoy her quiet holiday. He desired nothing for himself save the satisfaction of feeling her hand resting within his arm; of seeing her face seek his for sympathy; of hearing her talk afterwards of all she had been told, and weave her girlish fancies around the old red-brick palace, and relate again the scenes that had been enacted there.
By degrees, however, he too insensibly began to take a deeper interest in the history of the old court suburb, and found himself commencing to understand the sort of dual life persons whose minds are well furnished from the storehouses of the past may lead in even the newest and least promising of neighbourhoods. In a vague inconsequent sort of fashion, for instance, he would sometimes find himself wondering what Kensington-now a mass of streets, gardens, places, squares, shops, mansions, palaces-looked like when the whole district was one vast marsh formed by the overflowing of the Thames. Once he was able in his mind's eye to see that great tract of land covered by water, just as the country round Chertsey and Shepperton and Halliford and the lower parts of Weybridge are covered in wet seasons now, it did not seem impossible for him to conceive of the Forest of Middlesex stretching away northward, and Notting Barns being, even in the time of
Henry VIII., 'mostly covered with wood.'
He imagined the loneliness of the whole country when the Roman road from London to Staines ran through Turnham Green; and then his thoughts. travelled far away to that wonderful nation, then the pioneers of civilisation and conquerors of the world, the inhabitants of which lost their prestige after a period of luxury and slothful self-indulgence, which finds unhappily its significant parallel in England at the present hour.
Where, in Kensington, did Linacre the learned plant the first damask rose? What lots of roses have come and gone since then! The useful cabbage likewise, which seems so much part and parcel of every cottage-garden that it is difficult to imagine it not indigenous to British soil. Looking at the market-carts upheaped with that vegetable which lumbered slowly and heavily along all the western roads, it seemed strange to think of cabbage having been 'introduced' by Sir A. Ashley; as strange as when noticing costermongers' barrows upheaped with firm white-hearted lettuces to consider that not so very remote period when a messenger used to be sent over express to Holland to fetch that salad for the Royal table.
Ay, and he thought, too, of the human interests that had been active about the neighbourhood, the intrigues which held for their centre the old brick palace, and twined in and about the kings and queens dwelling there.
From William to Victoria: why, it seemed but a few years since, under the first, Sir Christopher Wren designed and commenced the alterations necessary to change the house from an earl's residence to one fit for a king, a period
*Here is a passage which contains an account of the proclamation 'given at our Court at Kensington, this 20th day of June 1837.' being read at St. James's Palace: The 20th of June 1837 will be a day long remembered by those who had the good fortune to witness the singular, beautiful, and affecting spectacle of the proclamation of our beloved sovereign. In the centre stood the youthful monarch, suffused in tears, and almost overwhelmed by the tremendous responsibilities of her situation, from which, however, she obtained a very apparent relief in the hearty cheers of her sympathising and loyal people. H.R.H. the Duchess of Kent stood a little to the right of her Majesty, and was observed to watch with an anxious eye the regal bearing of her illustrious daugh ter. The President of the Council (the Marquis of Lansdowne) was on her Majesty's right hand, and the First Lord of the Treasury (Viscount Melbourne) on the left. Close behind were most of the members of the Cabinet, the Lord Steward and Lord Chamberlain of the Household, the Earl Marshal of England, with other illustrious persons.
'In the courtyard beneath, opposite the window, were the band of Household Trumpeters and Sergeants-at-Arms, whose duty it was to attend the proclamation of the sovereign in the various parts of the metropolis. In front of the soldiers were an immense assemblage of persons, principally ladies of distinction, who vied in every demonstration of loyalty and devotion. Silence having been obtained, Clarencieux King-at-Arms (Sir William Woods), attended by four pursuivants (Portcullis, Rouge Croix, Blue Mantle, and Rouge Dragon), made proclamation.'
glorious self-denial, guarded from the tender green blade to noble maturity by the vigilant care of a race who love freedom and respect the law, who have fought for God, their king, and their country as every capable man in the land would fight again, did need arise for him to buckle on sword and issue forth in defence of hearth and home, his liberty on earth, and his hopes of heaven.
It was well for Sir John to learn from the pages of antiquarian research something of the men and women who had fretted out their little day, and were forgotten by all save a few students of the olden time. He laughed sadly sometimes to consider how much better in reality as well as in the proverb is a living dog than a dead lion; how much more, for instance, to be considered by the modern inhabitants of ancient Chenesiton any upstart who could waste his doubtfully acquired wealth in the maddest extravagance, than he who fought the battle of Protestantism at the Boyne, and who wore to the day of his death, cold though he has ever been considered, bracelets made of Queen Mary's hair, that wife who lay in state, spite of having died of small pox, at Whitehall from the 27th of December till the following March, constantly attended by her people.
On the 5th of March she was buried, when the biggest bell in every cathedral, collegiate, and parochial church in England and Wales tolled from nine to ten in the forenoon, and from two to three and five to six in the afternoon of the same day. The funeral was attended by both Houses of Parliament, a rare mark of respect.'
During the time Sir John and Rachel were alone in Palace Gardens he read Esmond by her particular desire, but she could never
discover that the story or the characters had particularly aroused his interest. For Lady Castlewood, he said quite honestly, he did not care at all. Fact is, looking at her quite dispassionately, he arrived at the conclusion she was a weak, jealous, silly woman, who had been in love with Esmond almost from the first; whilst as for Beatrix, perhaps he had known too much of a woman not wholly unlike her in character, though born in a different rank and destitute of Trixy's charms of manner, to care much for the story of how she deceived every one and came to shame and griefat the end. But Rachel loved the book, and took especial delight in that part where Esmond gives up his birthright, and consents to bear his burden in patience and silence, because he was grateful and loyal.
No matter, however, who had lived or who died, who suffered or who rejoiced at Kensington, Sir John found he must not let the sweetness and quiet of that rare holiday prevent his going to Scarborough, and facing the scene he knew he must expect to go through.
There had only been a lull in Lady Moffat's demands for money. The pecuniary storm had now recommenced with greater violence than at first.
'I must see what it all means,' decided Sir John.
When he returned from his journey he did not feel much enlightened as to the causes of the late heavy drain upon his purse; but he knew he had done a prudent thing in speaking out his mind, and italicising his utterances by bringing Edwina back to town.
MISS BANKS TRIUMPHANT.
GREAT was Lady Moffat's astonishment and dismay when, upon her return to the hotel, she found her husband had gone and taken Edwina with him. Never before in all their wretched married life had he acted with such prompt decision and self-assertion. If he had remained, any display of authority must have only incited her to further rebellion; but she could not argue with, or openly expend her fury upon, an absent man. He was already far on his way to London, and Edwina with him. She did not throw aside the letter he left for her, as she had refused to look at the manuscript book he offered. No; she felt frightened; she read every word it contained, and when she reached the last paragraph drew a long breath to find matters were no worse.
Miss Banks was soon in possession of what Sir John did say. Nay, more; ere the evening was over she had perused the letter itself. As she read she felt that if ever she had hated one woman more than another that woman was Lady Moffat.
Good heavens! If she had not been as foolish as she was disagreeable, into what a harvest could not Miss Banks have thrust her sickle! Such extravagance, such wasteful expenditure, such a literal throwing away of money! Why, if she had only let a devoted' friend manage for her, she could have saved at least one half, and put besides a satisfactory sum into her own pocket.
For a minute or two she felt too angry to speak. It was like seeing the horse she might have backed, but did not, win; like having been cheated out of a successful ticket in a lottery.
made a feint of reading the letter over a second time in order to steady her voice and conquer all
trace of irritation.
Lady Moffat, watching her, had no more idea than a child of the storm which was raging within.
At last she finished, took off her spectacles, folded up the letter, and crossed her hands upon it.
'Well, what do you think of that?' asked Lady Moffat impatiently, sure of receiving sympathy in abundance.
But she was mistaken.
'It is a very nice kind letter,' answered Miss Banks.
Lady Moffat raised her eyebrows and shrugged her shoulders. 'But most unreasonable?' she suggested.
'I am not at all sure that Sir John is not quite right,' said Miss Banks.
Right?' repeated Lady Moffat. And you have always told me it was ridiculous to live as if we had not a couple of hundred a year, that we ought to launch out for the sake of the children, and to keep up some sort of an appearance befitting Sir John's known rank and reputed wealth.'
'Well?' observed Miss Banks. Lady Moffat was fast working herself into a fit of passion. Indeed, she had only paused for an instant to take breath; but that calm Well?' acted upon her like a douche of cold water.
In an instant she seemed to feel deserted, helpless. Her ally was abandoning the cause; worse still, going over to the enemy. This woman who had said a score of times men were all alike, that whilst they spent themselves, they could not endure their wives to ask for a sovereign, she-she-first of all said Sir John was right, and then, when her own very words were repeated in her ears, said, 'Well?'
'Surely,' went on Miss Banks, 'there is some difference between wild prodigality and a generous and judicious expenditure; between waste and liberality. I had not the faintest idea you were spending such sums as are here mentioned, or I am sure I should, even at the risk of offending you, have ventured to remonstrate. I repeat, I think there is reason and wisdom in every word Sir John writes. So far as my experience goes, there are not many husbands who would take such a state of affairs so quietly. He must,' she added meditatively, 'be enormously rich."
'And if he is, why can't he let me spend what I like?' asked Lady Moffat angrily, yet weakly. 'He tells you why in this letter,' said Miss Banks. He says no income would stand it, and what he says is quite true.' But you advised me to have most, if not all, the things that I ordered.'
'I never advised you, I am sure, to pay such prices for them as you must have done. But it really is no business of mine, Lady Moffat. I am foolish to interfere between husband and wife, and perhaps more foolish still to say I certainly believe you are in the wrong. I think we had better not talk of this matter any more to-night. To-morrow you may perhaps think differently on the subject; so if you will excuse me I should like to go to bed.'
'I don't consider it is very nice of you, after having got me into such a mess, to leave me alone to scramble out of it.'
Miss Banks would not answer. She pretended, indeed, not to hear the sentence; and, saying 'Good-night' with much dignity and distinctness, walked out of the room.
Next morning she announced
that it was necessary for her to return to town immediately.
My poor invalid is not so well,' she explained, and it is quite essential I should go to look after him. I can't thank you enough, dear Lady Moffat,' she proceeded, studiously averting her eyes from dear Lady Moffat's face, which was pale and anxious, 'for giving me such a treat as this delightful visit has been. I am sure I shall never forget your kindness.'
Then there was a scene. Το her intense astonishment, Lady Moffat burst into tears, and entreated Miss Banks not to go.
'I offended you last night,' she said; I know I did, and I am sorry. I was ill and worried. Don't leave me; pray, pray don't
Miss Banks was full of regrets, but declared there was no help for it. Judiciously ignoring the question of offence, she declared she had received such an account of her poor patient creature that she could not rest until she was with him.
'He is subject to bad attacks,' she said, and when he is suffering he cannot bear any one about him but myself.'
'You will come back, though? persisted Lady Moffat.
'I don't think I must promise that,' said Miss Banks; but her tone was as one who might be persuaded.
'O, do, do promise!' cried her hostess, taking Miss Banks' lean unlovely hand in hers, and growing quite demonstrative in the earnestness with which she urged her petition.
'Well, I don't know what to say about it, I am sure,' said Miss Banks, pressing Lady Moffat's fingers in return, and murmuring, 'You dear kind soul! Travelling, you see, is so expensive.'
'O, if that is all, let me pay
your fare. You won't mind, will you? You would not object if you were travelling with me. How much is it? Will five pounds be enough?'
'It is no wonder the money goes,' said Miss Banks, in mild rebuke. My dear, I cannot do it. In the first place, you must begin and be very economical, to please that good wise husband of yours; and besides—'
'What besides?' asked Lady Moffat as her friend paused.
"Well, why should I not be quite frank with you?' said Miss Banks, with a charming candour. 'After I left you last night I began to think over affairs, and after a fashion to compare my small way with yours, and it seemed quite clear to me I ought to be home looking after things a little. That was before this letter, you understand;' and she touched her pocket, as though it contained a whole budget of bad news. You can never have known what it is to be so situated as to have not merely to consider every pound, but every shilling, every penny; and I could scarcely make you understand how closely I have to look after each item in our narrow household. Now, I have been away a long while, and I do not feel justified in stopping away any longer. For the sake of such a delightful time as I have passed I do not mind a little pinching when I return; but I can't pinch my poor fellow who is so dependent upon me. Now you know all, and you must never think, if I were well off, I should, except for illness, leave you so long as you asked me to stay.'
She stopped, and, heaving a gentle sigh, watched Lady Moffat attentively. She knew she had money. Sir John said he enclosed her two hundred pounds, and Miss Banks believed it was not