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be kissed -asked him after his journey, hoped he was not tired, murmured that his father would be glad to see him. Her intention was kind, and no doubt the kind intention penetrated through the stiffness of her words, for though Maurice had his most shy and awkward manner, he did not seem to wish to be uncivil. He muttered a few words in answer to her questions, and followed her through the little hall to the drawing-room. Then suddenly he stood still. His whole face and manner changed. He stood at the door as if he had been struck to stone, and Aunt Caroline, as she saw the sudden change, understood the meaning of it in an instant.
Such a little matter! When he was last at home she had disputed with his mother about the drawing-room, and objected Elsie's dainty ways and fancies, and declared that the round table should be in the centre of the room. It was there now; no longer pushed into a corner, but in the place of honour where she had wished to see it, with sober books arranged in beaps upon it, altering the whole appearance of the room. And Maurice, returning to his mother's house, remembered that his mother . . . even in thought he could get no further.
If he could have been angry! But at that unexpected sight he felt too miserable to be angry; he felt sick and desolate, a sob rose in his throat, whilst his eyes were dry as if they had been burned. And then suddenly a passionate wish for tears came over him—to get away somewhere and cry out on his mother--and muttering that he would go up to his room he turned away and went up the stairs alone. Aunt Caroline stood still-stood still where he had left her-an unexpected tumult in her heart.
Oh, was it not foolish? Why should she feel as if she were wrong? Had she not a right to arrange things as she pleased ?
she pleased? Why should Maurice resist her ? But he had not resisted, his face had only looked white and miserable. Authority was dear to the heart of Aunt Caroline, and especially authority in little matters; but at this moment, beneath her love for power, there rose a whisper : “ The boy has lost his mother.” Oh, what must it not be to find such a loss so evident that even the chairs and table talk about it?
“ Jane! Jane!” cried Aunt Caroline, the unexpected impulse rising so fast that she had not time to resist it. “Come here quickly! There is just one little change that I want to make in the drawing-room before we go in to tea.” Her thought muttered beneath. “Though I have given way this time Maurice needn't suppose that he will have everything as he likes !” she thought bitterly. “ When he sees I have made the change he will think that he can do just as he pleases.”
A few minutes later the bell rang for tea, and
Maurice came slowly and heavily downstairs, dragging his feet as he entered the drawing-room with a hanging head, and eyes bent on the ground. He had not changed his boots or brushed his hair ; his eyes were swollen and his face patched with crying, while his manner had that peculiar defiant sulkiness which is natural to a boy who knows that he has cried. He entered the room, and slowly raised his eyes, as if compelled to do so in spite of unwillingness; then suddenly he started, seemed bewildered as if he were dreaming ; involuntarily he turned to Aunt Caroline. Her eyes were on him, and for a moment they looked at each other, both faces as red as if they had been doing something wrong. Then Maurice hung his head, and looked down on the ground on the muddy boots which had already marked carpet.
“Aunt Caroline,” he muttered, “if I went upstairs at once I could change my boots before dad comes in to tea."
“You must make haste," she answered, not meaning to be ungracious, even sorry that she could think of nothing else to say. And Maurice turned to leave the room ; but when he was by the door he paused, he looked at her as if he too would have liked to speak. All at once he turned red, and pushed his face towards her, and, moved and wondering, she stooped to kiss it. Something touched her at that moment with an undoubted tenderness, such as she had never felt in all her life.
What more need be said ? Maurice came down in time for tea- -a neat boy, with brushed hair, and hands beyond reproach; and Aunt Caroline recognised, not without surprise, that in his own way the boy too could make concessions. But she did not realise until days and weeks had passed, the full extent of the victory she had gained, for it was a victory, although in the moment of success she had imagined herself to have suffered voluntary defeat. The boy's passionate loyalty had been roused by a concession which seemed to honour his dead mother, not himself. For though Maurice's nature was bellious, there was one thread by which it could be guided.
Said Aunt Caroline, “ I never thought I could love a boy! But I don't believe there is another boy like Maurice!” We may be sure that before he had earned such praise, Maurice also had won some difficult victories. He had one assistance, though many things were changed, the round table remained in the corner of the drawing
If he were ever disposed to be rebellious, that sight never failed to move him to penitence.
So from that small trivial concession followed love, obedience, and a quiet home. Oh, might we not often gain better victories if we knew that yielding does not always mean defeat ?
M. A. CURTOIS.
A CHILD IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
BY MARY E. PALGRAVE, AUTHOR OF “HOW DICK FOUND HIS SEA-LEGS,” ETC.
“THAT will do, Simpkinson! You can let go his
the tall narrow windows, gave a few touches of warmth and colour to the otherwise soberly tinted room.
It was a beautiful room—a curiously refined, elegant hand, cannot you? He has got legs like other place to be the dwelling of an old bachelor, whose only people, I suppose, and can stand alone?”
women-folk were a couple of elderly domestics. The “ Do leave go of me, Master Regy, there's a good boy! face of its owner matched it in delicacy and refinement; It'll be the worse—I mean, don't you be afraid, but go it had handsome features and remarkably vivid dark up like a gentleman and say, 'Good-evening, Uncle'- eyes; but there was a grim, set look about it that gave he's a bit dazed with the light, m' lord, and the long an impression of unapproachableness and made it an journey, that's what it is.”
alarming face to timid and nervous people. “Humph!” snarled “m' lord.” "Well, if he isn't It was plain that some one, at this moment, was coming soon to speak to me, you had better take him thinking it an alarming face. This was a little boy, away, Simpkinson, till he has found his voice. I can't
a very little boy, who was nine years old, but did not sit all night in this draught waiting for him to speak. look more than six or seven. He was standing just At the least you might shut the door."
inside the door, under the lee, so to speak, of a tall
, grey. The door was noiselessly closed by the butler's hand. headed man, whose arm he had drawn across his shoulder, It was the door of an oblong room, lofty, and with walls and to whose hand he was clinging with all the force panelled to the ceiling in wood which was painted a of ten very small soft fingers. The child was dressed light green. Black japanned cabinets stood in sombre in the quaint little frock-coat and the bankeen trousers, dignity against these delicate-tinted walls, from which hardly reaching his ankles, which were the fashion hall splendid engravings of Sir Joshua Reynolds portraits, a century ago. His soft flaxen hair fell in wavy locks in heavy dark frames, looked down. The high mantel- on his neck and touched his crumpled frill, which was shelf was furnished with Chinese vases, large, and of grimy and awry, and enhanced his forlorn, dishevelled glowing tints; and a pair of gaudy mandarins with appearance. The little face above the frill was grimy, nodding heads. These and the long straight curtains, too, and decorated with a long smudge across one cheek heavy with embroidery, hanging before the recesses of and a suggestion of stickiness and crumbiness about the
mouth. Altogether it was plain that this was a little boy just “off a journey," whom nobody had taken the pains (or it might be, had had the chance) to wash and brush up before presenting him to company.
There was a minute's pause while Simpkinson was trying to persuade his charge to leave off clinging to him and cross the room to his uncle. Regy clung frantically to his hand, and quivered all over. It was plain that in another moment he would burst out crying, and that would be most disastrous.
m'he old man by the fire took up a gold-rimmed eyeglass, which hung round his neck by a broad black riband, and surveyed the pair.
" He looks very dirty, Simpkinson, very dirty indeed. If his fingers at all correspond with his face, I should strongly object to shaking hands with him. I'm sure the first lesson a child ought to learn is to come clean and decent into the presence of his elders. I wonder at your bringing him in like this! Take him away and let Mrs. Blades wash and brush him, and then send him to me again-send him, I say. Do you hear ?"
Simpkinson was used to “m' lord's” ways, and knew better than to offer any explanation, or else he could have said that he had brought the child straight upstairs, in obedience to what he understood were his miaster's ex press commands. The housekeeper had come bustling across the hall, almost before he and Master Regy had set foot in the house, and said that his lordship had been ringing his bell every five minutes during the last hour, to know if the young gentleman had not arrived, and had given orders that he was to be taken upstairs without an instant's delay.
“ I knew as it wouldn't do,” grumbled Simpkinson, as he led the sobbing child downstairs, “ taking him in all nohow like this. But the old lady hustled me so, I hadn't time to think of anythink. M' lord 'll never forget how dirty he looked, and he can't abear dirt. How he's ever going to put up with a child and his ways is what I can't understand.— For the child's sake, Mrs. Blades, find him a clean frill somewhere, and make him look as respectable as you can! His uncle won't speak to him till he's been washed."
Ten minutes later the drawing-room door was again opened, and the little boy re-appeared-alone this time. A friendly hand might have been espied, pushing him in and closing the door noiselessly behind him; but either Mrs. Blades' exhortations or his own sense of what was expected of him had come to his rescue, for this time he did not hang back, but walked steadily across the room to the place where the old man was sitting On reaching the hearthrug he halted, leaving as wide a space between himself and his great-uncle as he possibly could, stretched out his arm, to shake hands, to its utmost length, and said in a gasp, “Good-goodevening, Uncle Fairfax.”
It almost set him off crying again to feel his hand laid hold of by a cold, firm grasp that seemed irresistibly strong, and to be plucked across the hearthrug by it to within close quarters of that formidable old man by the fireside; but, with an effort that made him shiver all over, he swallowed down his sob, and the pair eyed each other in silence for a moment or two.
“ Humph!” grunted the old man presently, “so you call yourself a Fairfax, do you? And you imagine you are like them, eh?"
“I-I don't know, I'm sure," faltered the child, whose large blue eyes were fixed on his uncle's face as if held there by a spell. Oh, if he could only get his eyes away and his hand loosed from that horrid cold grasp !
“ You don't know? Then look at me-do you imagine you are like me ? "
“I–I hope not,” gasped Regy, with obvious truthfulness.
Lord Richard laughed grimly, and Regy was still more frightened.
“You've not got a trace of a Fairfax in you, child, so far as I can see. It means nothing to you now, but the day will come that you'll be sorry enough. I suppose it is your mother's family that your face takes after. What is your name?”
“Reginald Charters Fairfax,” came in a tremulous whisper from the child.
The old man's face darkened still more; Charters was the maiden name of Regy's mother, and Dick Fairfax, the little lad's father, had never been forgiven for marrying her. Not that there had been anything against poor Rose Charters herself, but as belonging to a Radical, a poor, and an untitled family, she represented all that the Fairfaxes disliked. True, had Dick been an ordinary younger son, nobody would have taken much heed of his doings and he would in time have been forgiven; but as the heir to a dukedom it mattered very much-to the family—what he did, and deep and lasting was the displeasure of the Duke, and of his brother Lord Richard, the old Canon of Westminster, in whose
eyes “our family” was the biggest fact in the universe, next to his religion.
“Our family's " displeas-ire, however, had not mattered for long to Mrs. Dick Fairfax, for she had died at Regy's birth; nor did it matter to Dick either, now, for he had been killed in the hunting-field a few days before this little story begins.
With his father's death the whole world had changed for little Reginald Fairfas. Hitherto there could scarcely have been a happier child than the little untidy, rosy urchin who had roamed at will through the pleasant surroundings of Rustell Hall, the small place in Lincolnshire which his father rented for the hunting. Regy was supposed to "get his learning" from the curate of the village, but there was no one responsible for seeing that he went regularly to his lessons. So, as often as not, he did not go, but amused himself according to his own sweet will, in stables, fields, or garden. His father made him his companion and played with him like another child; and Regy was as happy as the day was long. He did not recognise-for he had never known it-the awful gap that the want of a mother's care and tenderness made in his life.
All his good things vanished, however, on that dreadful day when Dick Fairfax was brought home on a gate, bleeding and stunned, and they came and told Regy in the evening that his papa was dead and he would never see him any more. There was no one to play with him now; no one to have late dinner with; no one to come up and kiss him after he was in bed at night. It was a most forlorn, bewildered little creature whom Simpkinson fetched away from Rustell Hall a week after the funeral, telling him that he was going to live in London now, close to Westminster Abbey, and go to Westminster School, and that he must be a very good boy and
Regy was not going the right way to work, that was plain enough!
« Take that—that baby away, Simpkinson," spoke out Lord Richard's high, dignified voice, “and let Mrs. Blades put him to bed. He is no more fit to go to school than an infant in arms. I shall be expected, I suppose, to set up a nursery establishment, with a pap-boat, and a go-cart, and a set of holland pinafores! I shall become the laughing-stock of the chapter! Take him away, and tell Mrs. Blades to see that he has all he requires."
always take care to “speak pretty,” and have a clean face and hands, and then he'd get on all right with his great-uncle and be very happy-leastways he (Simpkinson) “ 'oped so with all 'is 'eart.”
Simpkinson was very kind to little Regy on the journey. He had a basket with him-provided by the fore-thought of Mrs. Blades-full of good things to eat; and whenever his charge looked tired or inclined for tears its lid creaked open and Master Regy was invited to help himself. Simpkinson also told him stories by the hour and made him guess very elementary riddles.
Journeys, however, were lengthy affairs fifty years ago, when parts of them had to be performed by stage-coach, and it took the whole live-long day to get from the other side of Newmarket to London.' Regy was tired to death by the time that the hackney coach had rattled him into Dean's Yard, and set him down at the cloister gate. It certainly was hard to be expected, under the circumstances, to appear straightway in the presence of this redoubtable “Uncle Fairfax," who had always been a bye-word of alarm and dislike to him, and whom his careless, joke-loving father had taught him to look on as a sort of bogey.
“Get a chair, Reginald,” said the old man, when he had finished his scrutiny of the little delicate face confronted with his own. His voice was a harsh one, but most precise and clear, with a sort of you-mustlisten-when-I-choose-to-speak ring in it which was very impressive. There was, too, a dreary and pathetic cadence in it that might have been noticed by a close observer.
Regy obediently draw up a slender Chippendale arinchair and, with some difficulty, perched himself on the high seat. When he had established himself, his uncle proceeded to question him about his lessons, and to try and find out what he knew-a business which did not take very long, for the simple reason that Regy knew alınost nothing at all.
It was rather a lame sort of dialogue-on the one side were sharp peremptory questions, rapped out by a harsh authoritative voice; on the other trembling indistinct replies, half-whispered in childish tones. As the minutes passed Regy's answers grew yet less and less intelligible; he lurched sideways once or twice in the big chair, and at last slipped down in it, all of a sudden, in a little heap, and lay still, with his head pillowed on the arm and his soft locks drooping forlornly over it.
Lord Richard put up his eye-glass and peered at his great-nephew. Then he rose—with stiffness and difficulty-and stood a minute holding by the high mantelshelf and looking down at the sleeping child, with an expression on his face that-by contrast with his imperious manner- was surprisingly gentle and longing. He put out his hand and held one of the silky locks up against the firelight between his finger and thumb. Then his faced changed and a grim half-smile came, as if he were jeering at himself for his own softness. “Pshaw ! ” he muttered, and drew back to the other side of the hearth-rug and rang the bell.
Simpkinson appeared, with puckers of anxiety all over his plump face. He was plainly on thorns about this initial interview; and when his eyes had travelled from his master's tall figure by the fireside to the little white-headed heap in the chair, he could hardly refrain from uttering a sort of cluck of pity and vexation. Master
The house which had become little Regy Fairfax's home was one of the oldest and finest of the Westminster canonry houses.
It stood in a secluded part of the precincts, with the Abbey towering above it like a kià of protecting hill. On one side it opened—through s small flagged courtyard-into the Little Cloisters ; en the other lay the garden which in old days had belonged to the monks of the Abbey. That garden, when Regy played there, could boast of no gay flower-beds and trimly kept lawns, as it now can; but its groups of plane trees were even finer and thicker then than they are to-day, and its shady nooks and rank wilderness of grass made it a splendid place for roaming about and for playing games in which you wanted to “pretend" a good deal.
The garden was a grand resource and place of refuge to Regy. The moment lessons were over he could escape there and pretend he was in the country once
To be sure, the roar of London made itself continually heard or you might more truly say feltbehind the leafy screen of the planes ; but except for the long stone façade and red-tiled roof of the old School dormitory and the towering ridge of the Abbey, Foz could see nothing round you but trees and grass, and that was much to the country-bred child, whom te throbbing streets frightened and bewildered.
Then, too, in the garden he could run and jump as much as he liked, with no one to say him nay. As a rule he had the place all to himself. Just now and then the dean, in a long black cassock, with bis hands behind his back and his eyes fixed on his toes, would take an airing there, or a couple of minor canons, in trencher caps and swaying, rustling black gowns, come forth to take a turn in the garden. But they never quitted the dry, broad gravel walk just inside the entrance, or adventured themselves among the thickets of elderbushes or over the dank lawns; so that there was plenty of room for them and Regy too. And for the most part he was sole monarch of the garden.
What a relief it was to get away there out of the sombre, dignified, oppressive house, so neat and orderly, 80 quiet, where all hinges seemed covered with velret and everything went by clockwork. A child was band to feel himself out of place in such a house.
Regy could hardly run upstairs without Simpkinson's darting out of his pantry to caution him in an anxious whisper—“Master Regy, don't you make a noise, there's a good boy !” And he could never be half-an-hour by himself, in the drawing-room or dining-room, without Mrs. Blades' or Jemima's coming stealthily in, to make sure that he was not pulling the chairs awry or otherwise getting into inischief.
The fact was, Regy, when indoors, had nowhere to bestow himself. In spite of his suggestions as to what would be expected of him, the Canon had not set up a nursery establishment for his great nephew; and indeed, Regy--although so small of stature--was too old a little boy and bad led too independent a life at Rustell Hall for a nurse and a pinafore to be required. But still, the poor child did sorely need some place of his own to romp and play in; to say nothing of some person to look after him and help him to amuse himself. It was true he had been given a huge and stately bedroom, big enough for four little boys; but it was so different from the slip of a dressing-room opening into Papa’s bedroom, where he had slept at home, and its vast four-post bed, hung round with curtains of Indian chintz, was such a funereal kind of object, that Regy was more than half afraid to go into the room alone, and -except when safe in bed-never stayed there a minute longer than he could help.
To say the truth, however, it was not the house from which Regy was the most thankful to escape whenever he could, but from the master of the house, the formidable Uncle Fairfax. Do what poor Regy would, he could not get over the chilly terror with which the sight of his face and the sound of his step inspired him. There was something about the way his uncle looked at him through his gold-rimmed eyeglass which made him want to duck under the table or run away and hide ; and he had a manner of rolling out “R-R-Reginald," with a tremendous aspiration of the first letter, when beginning to speak to him, which made him feel cold all down his back.
Then, any breach of manners or want of due politeness was such a dreadful crime in Lord Richard's eyes; and he could, and did, say such severe things about it, in that clear, unmistakable voice of his, as made the sinner feel ready to sink into the earth with shame. And, unfortunately for Regy, there was seldom a day in which he did not fail somewhere or other in the region of manners, partly from sheer nervousness and anxiety not to do so; partly because Rustell Hall had been a very happy-go-lucky place in such respects, where doors were slammed, and people helped themselves without thinking whether other people's plates were empty, and nobody bothered themselves to say please unless they “ wanted to!”
Poor Regy had come from a very lax school of discipline into a very strict one. Lord Richard's notions of how little boys should behave had been formed upon the ways of his own boyhood—well back in the last century, on the far side of the French Revolution. If he were in a very genial temper, Regy might say “Uncle Fairfax” when he addressed him; but, as a rule, “Sir” was the only permissible mode; and if “Sir” were not duly uttered—and in the proper place-every time the nephew opened his lips, a rap on the table recalled him to the sense of his omissions; and the solid silver handle of a fork, or the stem of a heavy gold eyeglass, can, either of them, give raps, in a determined hand, that make you feel “ jumpy” all over.
Regy was also required to make a low bow every time he entered the room where his uncle was, and every time he left it. He might never speak first or ask for anything he wanted. If his napkin slipped down off his little knees and drifted far away under the table, an appealing glance at Simpkinson was barely safe, and yet
not to be seen wiping his lips sufficiently often was a worse crime still.
Every day, at the close of dinner, according to the custom of that time, “R-R-Reginald ” was expected to take wine with his uncle. This was a ceremony held due, not to the insignificant little Regy himself, but to the future Duke and head of the house. Simpkinson, as the last of his duties, had to put a small amount of port wine into the big, handsome cut wineglass that stood by “Master R-R-Reginald’s” plate, and then the pair bowed solemnly to each other. “R-R-Reginald, your health,” “Uncle Fairfax, your very good health,” was duly said ; aud the little ceremony concluded.
It was a pretty sight enough, the stately old man and the fair-haired, blue-eyed child bowing to each other
the table, with its handsome, old-fashioned appointments of shining silver and glass, the whole framed in by the panelled walls and rich, dark hangings of the noble old room. But it was a terrible ordeal to poor Regy, who sometimes wanted to laugh over it and sometimes to cry, and who seldom got through it without either choking over the port wine or spilling it on the table-cloth.
There was one other misery connected with dinner which I must not forget. To leave anything uneaten on your plate vras, in the Canon's eyes, among the blackest of crimes. He ate very little himself, but it seemed to be his idea that children should eat a great deal, for the helpings he sent his great-nephew were truly liberal. Nervousness and London combined had taken away most of Regy's appetite, and when his plate came round to him, grasped between the butler's finger and thumb, the sight of it made his heart sink. There was no escaping. Uncle Fairfax did not mind how long he waited, and it was no good casting rueful glances at Simpkinson ; he could do nothing more than look as compassionate as he dared from behind his master's back. Regy had to work away as well as he could manage; the only help that came to him was when Beauty, Uncle Fairfax's spaniel, glided stealthily under the table and laid her nose on his knee. He could generally manage to smuggle a few pieces unseen, over the edge of his plate and down into Beauty's willing jaws; and what a relief it was! But Beauty was only too sleek and well fed, and very often would not take the trouble to get up off the hearthrug and come across the room, even to secure the most tempting of morsels. Regy generally tried to kick her awake as he passed to his place; but though she looked at him with a comprehending hazel eye,
she would not always bestir herself to do as he wanted. It was very unkind of her, Regy thought.
When Beauty failed him, and Regy was very desperate, he sometimes managed to get pieces of his dinner conveyed into his pockets; but it was nasty to have the latter all greasy inside ; and once when Jemima, the housemaid, found the drumstick of a duck in the pocket of his best trousers, she made such a fuss about it that he feared she would go, there and then, and tell Mrs. Blades.
When it had been settled that Regy was to come and live at the cloisters, it had been part of the plan that he should go as a day-boy to Westminster School; but, after that first evening, nothing more was said to him about it.