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"O Brignal banks are fresh and fair,
And Greta woods are green;
I'd rather rove with Edmund there,
Than reign our English queen."--ROKEBY.
Winter came, and with it the time fixed for that farewell visit from Edmund Arundel, to which Marian and Gerald had long looked forward. Marian was becoming very anxious for it on Gerald's account, for she was beginning to feel that he was not quite the same child as when he first arrived at Oakworthy. He was less under control, less readily obedient to Miss Morley, less inclined to quote Edmund upon all occasions, more sensible of his own consequence, and more apt to visit that forbidden ground, the stables.
She longed for Edmund's coming, trusting to him to set everything right, and to explain to her the marvels of this strange new world.
Several gentlemen were staying in the house, and there was to be a dinner party on the day when he was expected, so that she thought the best chance of seeing him would be to stay in the garden with Gerald, while the others took their walk, so that she might be at hand on his arrival. Clara, though by no means wanted, chose to stay also, and the two girls walked up and down the terrace together.
"It is so very odd," said Clara "that you should care about such a great old cousin."
"He is only twenty-four," answered Marian.
"But he must have been grown up ever since you remember."
"Yes, but he is so kind. He used to carry us about and play with us when we were quite little children, and since I have been older he has made me almost a companion. He taught me to ride, and trained my bay pony, my beautiful Mayflower, and read with me, and helped me in my music and drawing."
"That is more than Elliot would do for us, if he could," said Clara. "It is very dull to have no one to care about our lessons, but to be shut up in the schoolroom for ever with poor unfortunate."
Marian did not choose to say how fully she assented to this complaint, but happiness had opened her heart, and she went on,--"I have had so many delightful walks with him through the beautiful wood full of rocks, and out upon the moor. O, Clara, you cannot think what it is to sit upon one of those rocks, all covered with moss and lichen, and the ferns growing in every cleft and cranny, and the beautiful little ivy-leafed campanula wreathing itself about the moss, and such a soft, free, delicious air blowing all around. And Edmund and I used to take out a book, and read and sketch so delightfully there!"
"Do you know, Marian," said Clara mysteriously, "I have heard some one say--I will not tell you who--that it is a wonder that Mr. Arundel is so fond of you, of Gerald, at least, for if it was not for him, he would have had Fern Torr, and have been Sir Edmund."
"But why should he not be fond of Gerald?"
"Really, Marian, you are a very funny person in some things," exclaimed Clara. "To think of your not being able to guess that!"
Here Mrs. Lyddell interrupted them by calling from the window to ask why they were staying in the garden?
"We were waiting to see Mr. Arundel, mamma," answered Clara.
"I think," said Mrs. Lyddell, "that as I am going out, it is not quite the thing for you young ladies to wait to receive a gentleman in my absence. You had better overtake the others. Marian will see Mr. Arundel in the evening."
"How cross!" exclaimed Clara, as soon as they were out of hearing. "Now we have to go along that horrid, stupid path that poor unfortunate is so fond of! If mamma had to go there herself, she would know what a nuisance it is!"
Marian was silent, because she was too much annoyed to speak properly of Mrs. Lyddell, whose interference seemed to her a needless piece of unkindness. At home she would have thought it strange not to hasten to greet cousin Edmund, and she feared he would think she neglected him, yet she could not, in Clara's presence, leave a message for him with her brother. Gerald begged her to remain, but she replied, with, a short, blunt "I can't," and set off with Clara, feeling provoked with everybody. In process of time she recovered candour enough to acknowledge to herself that Mrs. Lyddell was right as far as Clara was concerned, but the struggle kept her silent, her cousin thought her sulky, and the walk was not agreeable.
Gerald did not as usual attend her toilette, but as she passed along the passage on her way to the schoolroom, she heard sounds in the hall so like home that her heart bounded, Gerald's voice and Edmund's in reply! She could not help opening the door which separated the grand staircase from the schoolroom passage, the voice sounded plainer, she looked over the balusters, and saw--yes, actually saw Edmund, the top of his black head was just below her. Should she call? Should she run half-way down stairs, and just exchange one greeting unrestrainedly? But no; her heart beat so fast as to take away her breath, and that gave her time for recollection: Mrs. Lyddell might not think it proper, it would be meeting him in an underhand way, and that would never do!
Marian turned back, shut the door of communication, and in the next moment was in the schoolroom. When Gerald came up to tea, he was in the wildest spirit; making fun, romping with Lionel and John, and putting everything in such an uproar that it was quite a relief when the time came for going down to the drawing-room.
Now, Marian's great fear was that the gentlemen would be cruel enough to stay in the dining-room till after half-past nine, when she would be obliged to go to bed. She could hardly speak to anybody, she shrank away, as near the door as she dared, and half sprang up every time it opened, then sat down ashamed of herself, and disappointed to see only the servants with coffee and tea.
At last, the fatal time had all but come, when the black figures of the gentlemen entered one after the other, Marian scarcely venturing to look at them, and overpowered with a double access of fright and shyness, which chained her to her seat, and her eyes to the ground. But now--Edmund's hand was grasping hers, Edmund was by her side, his voice was saying, "Well, Marian, how are you?"
She looked up at him for one moment, then on the ground again, without speaking.
"Oakworthy has put no colour in your cheeks," said he. "Are you quite well?"
"Quite, thank you," said she, almost as shortly and coldly as if she had been answering Mrs. Lyddell.
"When did you hear from home?"
"Yesterday," said she, speaking more readily. "Agnes always writes once a week. When do you go there?"
"Next week, when I leave this place."
"You come from the Marchmonts, don't you?"
"Yes, Selina sends you her love, and all manner of kind messages. She hopes to see you in London after Easter."
"O dear! There is Mrs. Lyddell looking at me, and I see Caroline is gone! Good night, Edmund."
"So soon? I hoped to have seen more of you to-day; I came early on purpose."
"I thought so, but they would not let me stay at home."
"I understand. Don't squeeze up your lips and look woeful. I knew how it was. Good night."
Marian walked slowly up stairs, sighing as she went, and looked into Gerald's room. He was awake, and called out, "Well, Marian, are you not glad he has come?"
"O yes, very," returned Marian, in a tone of little gladness; "I hope you will be very happy with him."
"Why not you?"
"It will be all disappointment," she answered in a choking voice, as, sheltered by the darkness, she knelt down by Gerald's bed, and burst into tears. "It will all be like to-day."
"No, it shall not!" cried Gerald; "I will tell Edmund all about it, and he shall send them all to the right about! I can't think why you did not tell Mrs. Lyddell that you always stay at home for Edmund."
"Miss Arundel," said Saunders, at the door, "do you know that it is half an hour later than usual?"
The next morning Marian awoke with brighter spirits. It was possible that she might accomplish one walk with him, and Gerald was sure of being constantly at his side, which was the great point. At any rate, she could not be very unhappy while he was in the house.
She heard nothing of him all the morning, but, just as the schoolroom dinner was over, in came Mrs. Lyddell, and with her Edmund himself, to the great surprise of all the inhabitants. Marian looked very happy, but said very little, while there was some talk with Miss Morley, and then Edmund asked if she had no drawings to show him. She brought out her portfolio, and felt it like old times when he observed on her improved shading, or criticised the hardness of her distant hills, while Miss Morley wondered at his taste and science. It was delightful to find that she and Gerald were really to take a walk with him by themselves. She almost flew to fetch her walking dress, and soon the three were on their way together.
There was a great quantity of home news to be talked over, for Edmund had not heard half so often nor so minutely as Marian, and he had to be told how Charles Wortley got on at his new school, that Ranger had been lost for a day and a half, and many pieces of the same kind of intelligence, of which the most important was that Farmer Bright's widow had given up the hill farm, and his nephew wanted to take it, but Mr. Wortley hoped that this would not be allowed, as he was a dissenter.
"Indeed!" said Edmund; "I wonder Carter did not mention that."
"Had you heard this before?" said Marian; "I thought it news."
"Most of it is," said Edmund, "but not about the farm. The letting it is part of my business here, but I did not know of this man's dissent. Your correspondence has done good service."
"I am sure it is my great delight," said Marian; "I do not know what I should do without hearing from Agnes. I think I have learnt to prize her more since I have known other people."
"You don't find the Miss Lyddells quite as formidable as you expected though?" said Edmund; "the eldest has a nice open, countenance."
"We get on very well," said Marian. "Caroline is so good-tempered and clever, and Lionel is delightful."
"O, Edmund," interposed Gerald, "Lionel and I had such fun the other day. We caught the old donkey and blindfolded it with our handkerchiefs, and let it loose, and if you could but have seen how it kicked up its heels----"
They went on with the history of adventures of the same description, enjoying themselves exceedingly, and when Marian went in, she was much pleased to find how favourable an impression Edmund had made on her companions, although some of their commendations greatly surprised her; Miss Morley pronouncing that he had in the greatest degree an air distingue, and was a remarkably fashionable young man. Marian could endure the air distingue, but could hardly swallow the fashionable young man, an expression which only conveyed to her mind the idea of Elliot Lyddell and his moustached friends. However, she knew it was meant for high praise, and her present amiable fit was strong enough to prevent her from taking it as an insult.
The next day was Sunday, and she provokingly missed Edmund three times, in the walks to and from church, he being monopolized by "some stupid person," who had far less right to him than she had; but at last, when she had been completely worried and vexed with her succession of disappointments, and had come into what Lionel would have emphatically called "a state of mind," Edmund contrived to come to her before going in doors, and asked if she could not take a few turns with him on the terrace. She came gladly, and yet hardly with full delight, for the irritation of the continually recurring disappointments through the whole day, still had its influence on her spirits, and she did not at first speak. "Where is Gerald?" asked Edmund.
"I don't know; somewhere with the boys," said Marian, disconsolately.
"Well, why not?" said Edmund laughing.
"I don't know," said Marian.
"That is a meditative 'I don't know,' which conveys more than meets the ear."
"I don't know whether----; I mean I don't think it does Gerald any good."
"I don't know," repeated Marian in a tone which to any one else would have appeared sullen.
"I should like to arrive at your meaning, Marian. Are you not happy about Gerald!"
"I don't know," said Marian; but Edmund, convinced that all was not right, was resolved to penetrate these determined professions of ignorance.
"Is Gerald under Miss Morley?" he asked.
"Yes, during most of the day. They all say he is very good."
"And does not that satisfy you?"
"I don't know."
Edmund perceived that the subject of her brother was too near her heart to be easily approached, and resolved to change his tone.
"How have you been getting on?" he asked. "Does learning flourish under the present dynasty?"
"I don't know," replied Marian for the seventh time, but she did not as usual stop there, and continued, "they think one knows nothing unless one has learnt all manner of dates, and latitudes, and such things. Not one of them knew Orion when they saw him in the sky, and yet even Clara thought me dreadfully stupid because I could not find out on the globe the altitude of Beta in Serpentarius, at New Orleans, at three o'clock in the morning."
Edmund could not help laughing at her half-complaining, half-humorous tone, and this encouraged her to proceed.
"In history they don't care whether a man is good or bad; they only care when he lived. O Edmund, the lists of names and dates, kings and Roman emperors----."
"Metals, semi-metals, and distinguished philosophers," said Edmund; and Marian, who in days of old had read "Mansfield Park," laughed as she used to do at home.
"Exactly," said she, "O, Edmund, it is very different learning from what it used to be. All lesson and no thinking, no explaining, no letting one make out more about the interesting places. I wanted the other day to look out in some history book to find whether Rinaldo in Tasso was a real man, but nobody would care about it; and as to the books, all the real good grown-up ones are down in Mr. Lyddell's library, where no one can get at them."
"Does not Miss Lyddell enter into these things?"
"O yes, Caroline does, a great deal more than Miss Morley; but I don't know--I never can get on with Caroline----."
Marian had now gone on to the moment when her heart was ready to be open, and the whole story, so long laid up for Edmund, began to be poured forth; while he, anxious to hear all, and more sympathizing than he was willing to show himself, only put in a word or two here and there, so as to sustain the narration. Everything was told, how Clara was frivolous and wearisome; how Caroline was cold, incomprehensible, and unsympathetic; how unjust and weak Miss Morley was; how sharp, hasty, and unmotherly she found Mrs. Lyddell; and then, growing more eager, Marian, with tears springing to her eyes, told of the harm the influence of Oakworthy was doing Gerald; his love of the stables, and Saunders' opinion of the company he was likely to meet there. This led her to more of Saunders' communications about the general arrangement of the house, and the want of really earnest care for what is right; further still to what Saunders had told of Elliot and his ways, which were such as to shock her excessively, and yet she had herself heard Mr. Lyddell say that he was a fine spirited fellow!
Edmund was not sorry to find that he had but small space in which to give the reply for which Marian was eagerly looking. He avoided the main subject, and spoke directly to a point on which his little cousin was certainly wrong. "Well, Marian, who would have thought of your taking to gossiping with servants?" Then, as she looked down, too much ashamed to speak, he added, "I suppose poor Saunders has not sought for charms at Oakworthy any more than you have."
"Indeed I do not think I tried to make the worst of it when I came."
"Is that a confession that you are doing so now?"
"I do not know."
"Then let us see if you will give the same account to-morrow; I shall ask you whenever I see you particularly amiable. And now I think I have kept you out quite late enough."
The next day was very pleasant, bright, and frosty; Marian, from having relieved her heart, felt more free and happy, and her lessons went off quickly and smoothly. All went well, even though Edmund was obliged to go and call on a friend at Salisbury instead of coming to walk with her. Her walk with Miss Morley and her cousins was prosperous and pleasant; the boys ran races, and Marian and Clara were allowed to join them without a remonstrance. Marian was running and laughing most joyously, when she was stopped by hearing a horse's feet near her, and looking round saw Edmund returning from his ride. "May I keep her out a little longer?" said he to Miss Morley, as he jumped off his horse, and Marian came to his side. Miss Morley returned a ready assent, and after disposing of the horse, the two cousins walked on happily together, she telling him some pleasant histories of Gerald and the other little boys, and lamenting the loss that Lionel would be when he went to school. After they had talked over Salisbury Cathedral, and Marian had heard with great interest of Edmund's late employments in Scotland, and all he was to do and see in Africa, and saying much about that never-ending subject, Fern Torr, Edmund thought her so cheerful that he said, "Well, may I venture to ask your opinion of the people here?"
"I don't know," said Marian, who was so much ashamed of the accusation of gossiping with Saunders as to be willing to pass over all that had been founded on her information, "perhaps I did say too much yesterday, and yet I do not know I am sure I should never have chosen them for friends."
"Perhaps they would return that compliment."
"Then you really think it is my own fault?"
"No;" (Edmund tried hard to prevent his "no" from being too emphatic, and forced himself to go on thus) "I do not suppose it is entirely your fault, but at the same time you do not strike me as a person likely to make friends easily."
"O, Edmund, I could never bring myself to kiss, and say 'dearest' and 'darling,' and all that, like Clara."
"There is the thing," said Edmund; "not that it is wrong to dislike it, not that I could ever imagine your doing any thing like it;" and, indeed, the idea seemed so preposterous, that both the cousins laughed; "but the disposition is not one likely to be over and above prepossessing to strangers."
"You mean that I am disagreeable?"
"No, far from it. I only mean that you are chilly, and make almost all who come near you the same towards you."
"I cannot help it," said Marian.
"Yes, you could in time, if you did not fairly freeze yourself by constant dwelling on their worst points. Make the best of them with all your might, and you will soon learn to like them better."
"But if the things are so, Edmund, how can I see them otherwise?"
"Don't look out for them, and be glad of every excuse for disliking the people. Don't fancy harshness and unkindness where no one intends it. I am quite sure that Mr. Lyddell wishes to give you every advantage, and that Mrs. Lyddell thinks she treats you like her own child."
"I don't think I should like to be her own child," said Marian. "It is true that she is the same with me as with them, but--"
"Poor Marian," said Edmund, kindly, "you have been used to such gentleness at home, that no wonder the world seems hard and unkind to you. But I did not mean to make you cry; you know you must rough it, and bravely too."
"Never mind my crying," said Marian, struggling to speak; "it is nothing, but I cannot help it. It is so very long since any one has known what I meant."
Edmund could not trust himself to speak, so full was he of affectionate compassion for her, and of indignation against the Lyddells, when these few words revealed to him all her loneliness; and they walked on for a considerable distance in silence, till, with a sudden change of tone, he asked if she had had any riding since she came to Oakworthy.
"O no, I have not been on horseback once. What a treat a good canter on Mayflower would be!"
"I suspect one victory over her would put you in spirits to be amiable for a month," said Edmund.
"Dear old Mayflower!" said Marian. "How delightful that day was when she first came home, and we took that very long ride to the Eastcombe!"
Edmund and Marian fell into a line of reminiscences which enlivened them both, and she went in-doors in a cheerful mood, while he seriously took the riding into consideration; knowing, as he did, that her mother had thought a great deal of out-of-door exercise desirable for her, and guessing that her want of spirits might very probably arise from want of the air and freedom to which she had always been accustomed. The result of his meditations was, that the next morning she was delighted by Gerald's rushing into the school-room, calling out, "Put on your habit, Marian; make haste and put on your habit. You are to have my pony, and I am to have Lionel's, and Edmund is to have Sorell, and we are all to ride together to Chalk Down!"
How fast Marian obeyed the summons may well be believed; and though Gerald's pony was not comparable to Mayflower, it was much to feel herself again in the saddle, with the fresh wind breathing on her checks, and Edmund by her side. Par and joyously did they ride; so far, that Gerald was tired into unusual sleepiness all the evening; but Marian was but the fresher and brighter, full of life and merriment, which quite surprised her cousins.
But visits, alas! are fleeting things, and Edmund's last day at Oakworthy came only too soon. Precious as it was, it was for the most part devoted to business with Mr. Lyddell, though he sent Marian a message that he hoped for a walk with her and her brother in the afternoon.
The hour came, but not the man; and while Caroline and Clara went out with Miss Morley, Marian sat down with a book to wait for him. In about an hour's time the boys came to tell her they were going to the pond with Walter.
"O Gerald, won't you wait for Edmund?"
"I have waited till I am tired. I cannot stay in this whole afternoon, and I do not think he will come this age."
"He is shut up in the study with papa," said Lionel; "I heard their voices very loud, as if they were in such a rage."
"I wish I could see them," said Johnny, "it would be such fun."
Away ran the boys, leaving Marian in a state of wonder and anxiety, but still confident that Edmund would not forget her. She put on her walking dress, and sat down to her book again, but still she was left to wait. The winter twilight commenced, and still no Edmund; steps approached, but not the right ones; and in came the walking party, with a general exclamation of "Poor Marian! what, still waiting?" Miss Morley advised her to take a few turns on the terrace, instead of practising that horrid Mozart. Marian disconsolately went down stairs, looking wistfully at the library door as she went past it, and, at a funeral pace, promenaded along the terrace. As she passed beneath the window of Caroline's room, a head was popped out, and a voice sang--
"So, sir, you're come at last, I thought you'd come no more, I've waited with my bonnet on from one till half-past four! You know I sit alone--"
At that moment, Edmund himself was seen advancing from the door; the song ended in a scream of laughter and dismay, and the window was hastily shut. Edmund smiled a little, but very little, and said, "True enough, I am afraid I have used you very ill."
"Tiresome affairs," said Marian, looking up into his harassed face. "I hope they have not made your head ache?"
"I have been worried, but it is not the fault of the affairs, I wish you had not lost your walk," added he abruptly, beginning to stride on so fast that she could scarcely keep up with him, and apparently forgetting her presence entirely in his own engrossing thoughts. She watched him intently as she toiled to keep by his side, longing, but not daring, to inquire what was the matter. At last he broke out into a muttered exclamation, "destitute of all principle! all labour in vain!"
"This whole day have I been at it, trying to bring him to reason about that farm!"
"What? Did he wish the Dissenter to have it?"
"He saw no objection--treated all I said as the merest moonshine!"
"What? all the annoyance to the Wortleys, and the mischief to the poor people!" exclaimed Marian, "Why, we should have a meeting-house!"
"Nothing more likely, in the Manor field, and fifty pounds subscribed--all for the sake of toleration and Gerald's interests."
"You don't mean that he has done it?" said Marian, alarmed, and not quite understanding Edmund's tone of irony, "Cannot you prevent it?"
"I have prevented It; I said that, with my knowledge of my uncle's intentions, I could never feel justified in consenting to sign the lease."
"And that puts a stop to it? Oh, I am very glad. But I suppose he was very angry?"
"I never saw a man more so. He said he had no notion of sacrificing Gerald's interest to party feeling."
"How could it be for Gerald's interest to bring Dissenters to Fern Torr? I am sure it would be very disagreeable. I thought it, was quite wrong to have any dealings with them."
"He has been popularity-hunting too long to have many scruples on that score."
Marian could not help triumphing. "Well, Edmund, I am glad you have come to my opinion at last. I knew you would not like the Lyddells when you knew them better."
"I never was much smitten with them," said Edmund, abruptly, as if affronted at the imputation of having liked them.
"But Edmund," cried Marian, standing still in the extremity of her amazement, "what have you been about all this time? Have you not been telling me it is all my own fault that I do not get on with them?"
He was silent for a little while; and then turning round half-way, as people do when much diverted, he broke out into a hearty fit of laughter. "It is plain," said he, at last, "that nature never designed me for a young lady's counsellor."
"What do you mean, Edmund?"
"I suspect I have done mischief," said Edmund, after a little consideration, "and I believe all that remains to be done is to tell you all, and come down from my character of Mentor, which certainly I have not fulfilled particularly well."
"I am sure I do not understand you," said Marian.
"Well, then," said Edmund, speaking in a more free and unembarrassed tone than he had used since he had been at Oakworthy, "this is the fact of the matter, as Mrs. Cornthwayte would say, Marian. I always thought it very unlucky that you were obliged to live here; but as it could not be helped, and I really knew nothing against the Lyddells, there was no use in honing and moaning about it beforehand, so I tried to make the best of it. Well, I came here, and found things as bad as I expected, and was very glad to find you steady in the principles we learnt at home. Still, I thought you deficient in kindly feeling towards them, and inclined to give way to repining and discontent, and I think you allowed I was not far wrong. To-day, I must allow, I was off my guard, and have made a complete mess of all my prudence."
"O, I am very glad of it," said Marian. "I understand you now, and you are much more like yourself."
"Yes, it was a very unsuccessful attempt," said Edmund, again laughing at himself, "and I am very glad it is over; for I have been obliged to be the high and mighty guardian all this time, and I am very tired of it;" and he yawned.
"Then you don't like them any better than I do," repeated Marian, in a tone of heartfelt satisfaction.
"Stop, stop, stop; don't think that cousin Edmund means to give you leave to begin hating them."
"Hating them? O no! but now you will tell me what I ought to do, since there is no possibility of getting away from them."
"No, there is no possibility," said Edmund, considering; "I could not ask the Marchmonts again, though they did make the offer in the first fulness of their hearts. Besides, there are objections; I should not feel satisfied to trust you to so giddy a head as Selina's. No, Marian, it cannot be helped; so let us come to an understanding about these same Lyddells."
"Well, then, why is it that we do not do better? I know there are faults on my side; but what are the faults on theirs?"
"Marian, I believe the fault to be that they do not look beyond this present life," said Edmund, in a grave, low tone.
Marian thought a little while, and then said, "Caroline does, but I see what you mean with the others."
"Then your conduct should be a witness of your better principles," said Edmund. "You may stand on very high ground, and it entirely depends on yourself whether you maintain that position, or sink down to their level."
"O, but that is awful!" cried Marian; and then in a tone of still greater dismay, "and Gerald? O, Edmund, what is to become of him?"
"I must trust him to you, Marian."
"You have great influence over him, and that, rightly used, may be his safeguard. Many a man has owed everything to a sister's influence." Then, as Marian's eye glistened with somewhat of tender joy and yet of fear, he went on, "But take care; if you deteriorate, he will be in great danger; and, on the other hand, beware of obstinacy and rigidity in trifles--you know what I mean--which might make goodness distasteful to him."
"O, worse and worse, Edmund! What is to be done? If I can do him so much harm, I know I can do him very little good; and what will it be when he is older, and will depend less on what I say?"
"He will always depend more on what you do than on what you say."
"But what can I do? all the schoolboy temptations that I know nothing about. And Elliot--O, Edmund! think of Elliot, and say if it is not dreadful that Mr. Lyddell should have the management of our own Gerald? Papa never could have known--"
"I think, while he is still so young, that there is not much harm to be apprehended from that quarter," said Edmund; "afterwards, I believe I may promise you that he shall not be left entirely to Oakworthy training."
"And," said Marian, "could you not make him promise to keep away from the stables? Those men--and their language--could you not, Edmund?"
"I could, but I would not," said Edmund. "I had rather that, if he transgresses, he should not break his word as well as run into temptation. There is no such moral crime in going down to the stables, as should make us willing to oblige him to take a vow against it."
"Would it not keep him out of temptation?"
"Only by substituting another temptation," said Edmund. "No, Marian; a boy must be governed by principles, and not by promises."
"Principles--people are always talking of them, but I don't half understand what they are," said Marian.
"The Creed and the Ten Commandments are what I call principles," said Edmund.
"But those are promises, Edmund."
"You are right, Marian; but they are not promises to man."
"I could do better if I had any one to watch me, or care about me," said Marian.
Edmund's face was full of sadness. "We--I mean you, are alone indeed, Marian; but, depend upon it, it is for the best. We might be tempted not to look high enough, and you have to take heed to yourself for Gerald's sake."
"I do just sometimes feel as I ought," said Marian; "but it is by fits and starts. O, Edmund, I would give anything that you were not going."
"It is too late now," said Edmund, "and there are many reasons which convince me that I ought not to exchange. In a year or two, when I have my promotion, I hope to return, and then, Marian, I shall find you a finished young lady."
"Poor child," said Edmund, laughing.
"And you are going home," said Marian, enviously.
"Home, yes," said Edmund, in a tone which seemed as if he did not think himself an object of envy.
"Yes, the hills and woods," said Marian, "and the Wortleys."
"Yes, I am very glad to go," said Edmund. "Certainly even the being hackneyed cannot spoil the beauty or the force of those lines of Gray's."
"What, you mean, 'Ah! happy hills; ah! pleasing shade?'"
"Yes," said Edmund, sighing and musing for some minutes before he again spoke, and then it was very earnestly. "Marian, you must not go wrong, Gerald must not--with such parents as yours----." Marian did not answer, for she could not; and presently he added, "It does seem strange that such care as my uncle's should have been given to me, and then his own boy left thus. But, Marian, you must watch him, you must guard him. If you are in real difficulty or doubt how to act, you have the Wortleys; and if you see anything about which you are seriously uneasy with regard to him, write to me, and I will do my utmost, little as that is."
"Yes, yes, I am glad to be sure of it," said Marian.
"Well, I am glad to have had this talk," said Edmund. "I did you injustice, Marian; you are fit to be treated as a friend: but you must forgive me, for it cost me a good deal to try to be wise with you."
"I think you have seemed much wiser since you left it off," said Marian, "Somehow, though I was glad to hear you, it did not comfort me or set me to rights before."
Edmund and Marian could have gone on for hours longer, but it was already quite dark; and the sound of Elliot's whistle approaching warned them that one was coming who would little understand their friendship,--why the soldier should loiter with the little girl, or why the young girl should cling to the side of her elder cousin. They went in-doors, and hastened different ways; they saw each other again, but only in full assembly of the rest of the family. And at last, soon after breakfast the nest morning, Marian stood in the hall, watching Edmund drive from the door; and while her face was cold, pale, and still as ever, her heart throbbed violently, and her throat felt as if she was ready to choke. She heard of him at Fern Torr, she heard of him at Portsmouth, she heard of his embarkation; and many and many a lonely moment was filled up with tears of storm and tempest; of fever and climate, of the lion and of the Caffre.
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