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2 Vois. 




MISS MACKENZIE. 


VOL. I. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2018 with funding from 
Brigham Young University 


https://archive.org/details/missmackenzie01trol 


MISS MACKENZIE 


BY 

ANTHONY TROLLOPE. 


IN TWO VOLUMES. 
YOL. I. 


LONDON: 

CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193 PICCADILLY. 
1865. 


[The right of Translation is reserved .] 


LONDON : PRINTED RY W. CLOWES AND SONS, STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS. 


UPB 


CONTENTS OF YOL. I 


CHAPTER I. 



TAGS 

THE MACKENZIE FAMILY 

CHAPTER II. 



1 

MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO LITTLEBATH 

CHAPTER III. 

' 

9 

. 22 

miss Mackenzie’s first acquaintances . 

CHAPTER IV. 


9 

. 43 

MISS MACKENZIE COMMENCES HER CAREER 

CHAPTER V. 

* 

9 

. 64 


SHOWING HOW MR. RUBB, JUN., PROGRESSED AT LITTLEBATH 85 

CHAPTER VI. 

MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO THE CEDARS . . . .106 

CHAPTER VII. 

MISS MACKENZIE LEAVES THE CEDARS . . . ,127 



VI 


CONTENTS. 


CHAPTER VIII. 

PAGE 

mrs. tom Mackenzie’s dinner party . . . .148 

CHAPTER IX. 

miss Mackenzie’s philosophy . . . . .169 

CHAPTER X. 

PLENARY ABSOLUTION. 190 

CHAPTER XI. 

MISS TODD ENTERTAINS SOME FRIENDS AT TEA . . .211 

CHAPTER XII. 

MRS. STUMFOLD INTERFERES. 232 

CHAPTER XIII. 

mr. maguire’s courtship.. 251 

CHAPTER XIV. 

tom Mackenzie’s bed side. 274 

CHAPTER XV. 

THE TEARING OF THE VERSES ..... 293 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


CHAPTER I. 


THE MACKENZIE FAMILY. 



I fear I must trouble my reader with some few 
details as to the early life of Miss Mackenzie,— 
details which will be dull in the telling, but 
which shall be as short as I can make them. 
Her father, who had in early life come from 
Scotland to London, had spent all his days in the 
service of his country. He became a clerk in 
Somerset House at the age of sixteen, and was a 
clerk in Somerset House when he died at the age 
of sixty. Of him no more shall be said than that 
his wife had died before him, and that he, at 
dying, left behind him two sons and a daughter. 

Thomas Mackenzie, the eldest of those two 
sons, had engaged himself in commercial pursuits, 
—as his wife was accustomed to say when she spoke 
of her husband’s labours; or went into trade, 
and kept a shop, as was more generally asserted 
by those of the Mackenzie circle who were wont 

YOL. I. B 



9, 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


to speak their minds freely. The actual and 
unvarnished truth in the matter shall now be 
made known. He, with his partner, made and 
soid oilcloth, and was possessed of premises in 
the New Road, over which the names of “ Rubb 
and Mackenzie” were posted in large letters. As 
you, my reader, might enter therein, and purchase 
a yard and a half of oilcloth, if you were so 
minded, I think that the free-spoken friends of 
the family were not far wrong. Mrs. Thomas 
Mackenzie, however, declared that she was ca¬ 
lumniated, and her husband cruelly injured; and 
she based her assertions on the fact that “ Rubb 
and Mackenzie” had wholesale dealings, and that 
they sold their article to the trade, who re-sold it. 
Whether or no she was ill-treated in the matter, 
I will leave my readers to decide, having told 
them all that it is necessary for them to know, in 
order that a judgment may be formed. 

WAlter Mackenzie, the second son, had been 
placed in his father’s office, and he also had died 
before the time at which our story is supposed to 
commence. He had been a poor sickly creature, 
always ailing, gifted with an affectionate nature, 
and a great respect for the blood of the 
Mackenzies, but not gifted with much else that 
was intrinsically his own. The blood of the 
Mackenzies was, according to his way of thinking, 
very pure blood indeed; and he had felt strongly 




THE MACKENZIE FAMILY. 


o 

o 


that his brother had disgraced the family by 
connecting himself with that man Rubb, in the 
New Road. He had felt this the more strongly, 
seeing that “ Rubb and Mackenzie” had not done 
any great things in their trade. They had kept 
their joint commercial head above water, but had 
sometimes barely succeeded in doing that. They 
had never been bankrupt, and that, perhaps, for 
some years was all that could be said. If a 
Mackenzie did go into trade, he should, at any 
rate, have done better than this. He certainly 
should have done better than this, seeing that he 
started in life with a considerable sum of money. 

Old Mackenzie,—he who had come from Scot¬ 
land, had been the first cousin of Sir Walter 
Mackenzie, baronet, of Incharrow, and he had 
married the sister of Sir John Ball, baronet, of 
the Cedars, Twickenham. The young Mackenzies, 
therefore, had reason to be proud of their blood. 
It is true that Sir John Ball was the first baronet, 
and that he had simply been a political Lord 
Mayor in strong political days,—a political Lord 
Mayor in the leather business; but, then, his 
business had been undoubtedly wholesale ; and a 
man who gets himself to be made a baronet 
cleanses himself from the stains of trade, even 
though he have traded in leather. And then, 
the present Mackenzie baronet was the ninth of 
the name; so that on the higher and nobler side 

b 2 


4 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


of the family, our Mackenzies may be said to 
have been very strong indeed. This strength the 
two clerks in Somerset House felt and enjoyed 
very keenly; and it may therefore be understood 
that the oilcloth manufactory was much out of 
favour with them. 

When Tom Mackenzie was twenty-five,— 
“ Eubb and Mackenzie” as he afterwards became, 
—and Walter, at the age of twenty-one, had been 
for a year or two placed at a desk in Somerset 
House, there died one Jonathan Ball, a brother of 
the baronet Ball, leaving all he had in the world 
to the two brother Mackenzies. This all was by 
no means a trifle, for each brother received about 
twelve thousand pounds when the opposing law¬ 
suits instituted by the Ball family were finished. 
These opposing lawsuits were carried on with 
great vigour, but with no success on the Ball 
side, for three years. By that time, Sir John 
Ball, of the Cedars, was half ruined, and the 
Mackenzies got their money. It is needless to 
say much to the reader of the manner in which 
Tom Mackenzie found his way into trade;—how, 
in the first place, he endeavoured to resume his 
Uncle Jonathans share in the leather business, 
instigated thereto by a desire to oppose his 
Uncle John,—Sir John, who was opposing him in 
the matter of the will;—how he lost money in this 
attempt, and ultimately embarked, after some 


THE MACKENZIE FAMILY. 


5 


other fruitless speculations, the residue of his 
fortune in partnership with Mr. Kubb. All that 
happened long ago. He was now a man of nearly 
fifty, living with his wife and family,—a family of 
six or seven children,—in a house in Gower Street, 
and things had not gone with him very well. 

Nor is it necessary to say very much of 
Walter Mackenzie, who had been four years 
younger than his brother. He had stuck to the 
office in spite of his wealth ; and as he had never 
married, he had been a rich man. During his 
father’s lifetime, and when he was quite young, 
he had for a while shone in the world of fashion, 
having been patronized by the Mackenzie baronet, 
and by others who thought that a clerk from 
Somerset House with twelve thousand pounds must 
be a very estimable fellow. He had not, how¬ 
ever, shone in a very brilliant way. He had 
gone to parties for a year or two, and during 
those years had essayed the life of a young man 
about town, frequenting theatres and billiard- 
rooms, and doing a few things winch he should 
have left undone, and leaving undone a few 
things which should not have been so left. But, 
as I have said, he was weak in body as well as 
weak in mind. Early in life he became an 
invalid ; and though he kept his place in Somerset 
House till he died, the period of his shining in 
the fashionable world came to a speedy end. 


6 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


Now, at length, we will come to Margaret 
Mackenzie, the sister, onr heroine, who was eight 
years younger than her brother Walter, and 
twelve years younger than Mr. Bubb’s partner. 
She had been little more than a child when her 
father died; or I might more correctly say, that 
though she had then reached an age which makes 
some girls young women, it had not as yet had 
that effect upon her. She was then nineteen; 
but her life in her father’s house had been dull 
and monotonous; she had gone very little into 
company, and knew very little of the ways of the 
world. The Mackenzie baronet people had not 
noticed her. They had failed to make much of 
Walter with his twelve thousand pounds, and did 
not trouble themselves with Margaret, who had 
no fortune of her own. The Ball baronet people 
were at extreme variance with all her family, 
and, as a matter of course, she received no 
countenance from them. In those early days, she 
did not receive much countenance from any one; 
and perhaps I may say that she had not shown 
much claim for such countenance as is often given 
to young ladies by their richer relatives. She 
was neither beautiful nor clever, nor was she in 
any special manner made charming by any of 
those softnesses and graces of youth which to 
some girls seem to atone for a want of beaut}'" 
and cleverness. At the age of nineteen, I may 


THE MACKENZIE FAMILY. 


7 


almost say that Margaret Mackenzie was ungainly. 
Her brown hair was rough, and did not form itself 
into equal lengths. Her cheek-bones were some¬ 
what high, after the manner of the Mackenzies. 
She was thin and straggling in her figure, with 
bones larger than they should have been for 
purposes of youthful grace. There was not 
wanting a certain brightness to her grey eyes, 
but it was a brightness as to the use of which she 
had no early knowledge. At this time her father 
lived at Camberwell, and I doubt whether the 
education which Margaret received at Miss 
Green’s establishment for young ladies in that 
suburb was of a kind to make up by art for that 
which nature had not given her. This school, 
too, she left at an early age,—at a very early age, 
as her age went. When she was nearly sixteen, 
her father, who was then almost an old man, 
became ill, and the next three years she spent in 
nursing him. When he died, she was transferred 
to her younger brother’s house,—to a house which 
he had taken in one of the quiet streets leading 
down from the Strand to the river, in order that he 
might be near his office. And here for fifteen years 
she had lived, eating his bread and nursing him, till 
he also died, and so she was alone in the world. 

During those fifteen years, her life had been 
very weary. A moated grange in the country is 
bad enough for the life of any Mariana, but a 


8 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


moated grange in town is much worse. Her life 
in London had been altogether of the moated 
grange kind, and long before her brother’s death 
it had been very wearisome to her. I will not 
say that she was always waiting for some one 
that came not, or that she declared herself to be 
a-weary, or that she wished that she were dead. 
But the mode of her life was as near that as 
prose may be near to poetry, or truth to romance. 
For the coming of one, who, as things fell out in 
that matter, soon ceased to come at all to her, 
she had for a while been anxious. There was a 
young clerk then in Somerset House, one Harry 
Handcock by name, who had visited her brother 
in the early days of that long sickness. And 
Harry Handcock had seen beauty in those grey 
eyes, and the straggling, uneven locks had by 
that time settled themselves into some form of 
tidyness, and the big joints, having been covered, 
had taken upon themselves softer womanly 
motions, and the sister’s tenderness to the brother 
had been appreciated. Harry Handcock had 
spoken a word or two, Margaret being then 
five-and-twenty, and Harry ten years her senior. 
Harry had spoken, and Margaret had listened 
only too willingly. But the sick brother up-stairs 
had become cross and very peevish. Such a thing 
should never take place with his consent, and 
Harry Handcock had ceased to speak tenderly. 


THE MACKENZIE FAMILY. 


9 


He had ceased to speak tenderly, though he 
did not cease to visit the quiet house in Arundel 
Street. As far as Margaret was concerned he 
might as well have ceased to come; and in her 
heart she sang that song of Mariana’s, complaining 
bitterly of her weariness; though the man was 
seen then in her brother’s sick room regularly 
once, a week. For years this went on. The 
brother would crawl out to his office in summer, 
but would never leave his bedroom in the winter 
months. In those days these things were al¬ 
lowed in public offices; and it was not till very 
near the end of his life that certain stern official 
reformers hinted at the necessity of his retiring 
on a pension. Perhaps it was that hint that 
killed him. At any rate, he died in harness,—if 
it can in truth be said of him that he ever wore 
harness. Then, when he was dead, the days 
were gone in which Margaret Mackenzie cared for 
Harry Handcock. Harry Handcock was still a 
bachelor, and when the nature of his late friend’s 
will was ascertained, he said a word or two to 
show that he thought he was not yet too old for 
matrimony. But Margaret’s weariness could not 
now be cured in that way. She would have 
taken him while she had nothing, or would have 
taken him in those early days had fortune filled 
her lap with gold. But she had seen Harry 
Handcock at least weekly for the last ten years, 


10 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


and having seen him without any speech of love, 
she was not now prepared for the renewal of such 
speaking. 

When Walter Mackenzie died there was doubt 
through all the Mackenzie circle as to what was 
the destiny of his money. It was well known 
that he had been a prudent man, and that he was 
possessed of a freehold estate which gave him at 
least six hundred a year. It was known also that 
he had money saved beyond this. It was known, 
too, that Margaret had nothing, or next to no¬ 
thing, of her own. The old Mackenzie had had 
no fortune left to him, and had felt it to be a 
grievance that his sons had not joined their richer 
lots to his poorer lot. This, of course, had been 
no fault of Margaret’s, but it had made him feel 
justified in leaving his daughter as a burden upon 
his younger son. For the last fifteen years she 
had eaten bread to which she had no positive 
claim; but if ever woman earned the morsel 
which she required, Margaret Mackenzie had 
earned her morsel during her untiring attendance 
upon her brother. Now she was left to her own 
resources, and as she went silently about the 
house during those sad hours which intervened 
between the death of her brother and his burial, 
she was altogether in ignorance whether any 
means of subsistence had been left to her. It was 
known that Walter Mackenzie had more than 


THE MACKENZIE FAMILY. 


11 


once altered his will,—that he had, indeed, made 
many wills,—according as he was at such mo¬ 
ments on terms of more or less friendship with his 
brother; but he had never told to any one what 
was the nature of any bequest that he had made. 
Thomas Mackenzie had thought of both his 
brother and sister as poor creatures, and had been 
thought of by them as being but a poor creature 
himself. He had become a shopkeeper;—so they 
declared, and it must be admitted that Margaret 
had shared the feeling which regarded her brother 
Tom’s trade as being disgraceful. They, of 
Arundel Street, had been idle, reckless, useless 
beings,—so Tom had often declared to his wife,— 
and only by fits and starts had there existed any 
friendship between him and either of them. But 
the firm of Bubb and Mackenzie was not growing 
richer in those days, and both Thomas and his 
wife had felt themselves forced into a certain 
amount of conciliatory demeanour by the claims 
of their seven surviving children. Walter, how¬ 
ever, said no word to any one of his money; and 
when he was followed to his grave by his brother 
and nephews, and by Harry Handcock, no one 
knew of what nature would be the provision made 
for his sister. 

“He was a great sufferer, a very great suf¬ 
ferer,” Harry Handcock had said, at the only 
interview which took place between him and 


12 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


Margaret after the death of her brother and before 
the reading of the will. 

“Yes, indeed, poor fellow,” said Margaret, sit¬ 
ting in the darkened dining-room, in all the gloom 
of her new mourning. 

“ And you, yourself, Margaret, have had but a 
sorry time of it.” He still called her Margaret 
from old acquaintance, and had always done so. 

“ I have had the blessing of good health,” she 
said, “ and have been very thankful. It has been 
a dull life, though, for the last ten years.” 

“ Women generally lead dull lives, I think.” 
Then he had paused for a while, as though some¬ 
thing were on his mind which he wished to con¬ 
sider before he spoke again. Mr. Handcock, at 
this time, was bald and very stout. He was a 
strong healthy man, but had about him, to the 
outward eye, none of the aptitudes of a lover. 
He was fond of eating and drinking, as no one 
knew better than Margaret Mackenzie ; and had 
altogether dropped the poetries of life, if at 
any time any of such poetries had belonged to 
him. He was, in fact, ten years older than Mar¬ 
garet Mackenzie; but he now looked to be almost 
twenty years her senior. She was a woman who 
at thirty-five had more of the graces of woman¬ 
hood than had belonged to her at twenty. He 
was a man who at forty-five had lost all that 
youth does for a man. But still I think that she 


THE MACKENZIE FAMILY. 


13 


would have fallen back upon her former love, and 
found that to be sufficient, had he asked her to do 
so even now. She would have felt herself bound 
by her faith to do so, had he said that such was 
his wish, before the reading of her brother’s will. 
But he did no such thing. “ I hope he will have 
made you comfortable,” he said. 

“ I hope he will have left me above want,” 
Margaret had replied;—and that had then been 
all. She had, perhaps, half expected something 
more from him, remembering that the obstacle 
which had separated them was now removed. But 
nothing more came, and it would hardly be true 
to say that she was disappointed. She had no 
strong desire to marry Harry Handcock,—whom 
no one now called Harry any longer; but yet, 
for the sake of human nature, she bestowed a sigh 
upon his coldness, when he carried his tenderness 
no further than a wish that she might be com¬ 
fortable. 

There had of necessity been much of secrecy in 
the life of Margaret Mackenzie. She had pos¬ 
sessed no friend to whom she could express her 
thoughts and feelings with confidence. I doubt 
whether any living being knew that there now 
existed, up in that small back bedroom in Arundel 
Street, quires of manuscript in which Margaret 
had written her thoughts and feelings,—hundreds 
of rhymes which had never met any eye but her 


14 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


own; and outspoken words of love contained in 
letters which had never been sent, or been in¬ 
tended to be sent, to any destination. Indeed 
these letters had been commenced with no name, 
and finished with no signature. It would be 
hardly true to say that they had been intended for 
Harry Handcock, even at the warmest period of 
her love. They had rather been trials of her 
strength,—proofs of what she might do if fortune 
should ever be so kind to her as to allow of her 
loving. No one had ever guessed all this, or had 
dreamed of accusing Margaret of romance. No 
one capable of testing her character had known 
her. In latter days she had now and again dined 
in Gower Street, but her sister-in-law, Mrs. Tom, 
had declared her to be a silent, stupid old maid. 
As a silent, stupid old maid, the Mackenzies of 
Rubb and Mackenzie were disposed to regard her. 
But how should they treat this stupid old maid of 
an aunt, if it should now turn out that all the 
wealth of the family belonged to her ? 

When Walter’s will was read such was found 
to be the case. There was no doubt, or room for 
doubt, in the matter. The will was dated but 
two months before his death, and left everything 
to Margaret, expressing a conviction on the part 
of the testator that it was his duty to do so, 
because of his sister’s unremitting attention to 
himself. Harry Handcock was requested to act 


THE MACKENZIE FAMILY. 


15 


as executor, and was requested also to accept a 
gold watch and a present of two hundred pounds. 
Not a word was there in the whole will of his 
brother’s family; and Tom, when he went home 
with a sad heart, told his wife that all this had 
come of certain words which she had spoken when 
last she had visited the sick man. “ I knew it 
would be so,” said Tom to his wife. “ It can’t 
be helped now, of course. I knew you could not 
keep your temper quiet, and always told you not 
to go near him.” How the wife answered, the 
course of our story at the present moment does 
not require me to tell. That she did answer with 
sufficient spirit, no one, I should say, need doubt; 
and it may be surmised that things in Gower 
Street were not comfortable that evening. 

Tom Mackenzie had communicated the contents 
of the will to his sister, who had declined to be in 
the room when it was opened. “ He has left you 
everything,—just everything,” Tom had said. 
If Margaret made any word of reply, Tom did not 
hear it. “There will be over eight hundred 
a-year, aod he has left you all the furniture,” 
Tom continued. “ He has been very good,” said 
Margaret, hardly knowing how to express herself 
on such an occasion. “ Yery good to you,” said 
Tom, with some little sarcasm in his voice. “1 
mean good to me,” said Margaret. Then he told 
her that Harry Handcock had been named as 


16 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


executor. “There is no more about him in the 
will, is there ?” said Margaret. At the moment, 
not knowing much about executors, she had 
fancied that her brother had, in making such 
appointment, expressed some further wish about 
Mr. Handcock. Her brother explained to her 
that the executor was to have two hundred 
pounds and a gold watch, and then she was 
satisfied. 

44 Of course, it’s a very sad look-out for us,” 
Tom said; 44 but I do not on that account blame 
you.” 

44 If you did you would wrong me,” Margaret 
answered, 44 for I never once during all the years 
that we lived together spoke to Walter one word 
about his money.” 

44 1 do not blame you,” the brother rejoined ; 
and then no more had been said between them. 

He had asked her even before the funeral to 
go up to Gower Street and stay with them, but 
she had declined. Mrs. Tom Mackenzie had not 
asked her. Mrs. Tom Mackenzie had hoped, then, 
—had hoped and had inwardly resolved,—that 
half, at least, of the dying brother’s money wonld 
have come to her husband; and she had thought 
that if she once encumbered herself with the old 
maid, the old maid might remain longer than was 
desirable. 44 We should never get rid of her,” 
she had said to her eldest daughter, Mary Jane. 


THE MACKENZIE FAMILY. 


17 


“Never, mamma,” Mary Jane had replied. The 
mother and daughter had thought that they would 
be on the whole safer in not pressing any such 
invitation. They had not pressed it, and the old 
maid had remained in Arundel Street. 

Before Tom left the house, after the reading of 
the will, he again invited his sister to his own 
home. An hour or two had intervened since he 
had told her of her position in the world, and he 
was astonished at finding how composed and self- 
assured she was in the tone and manner of her 
answer. “ No, Tom ; I think I had better not,” 
she said. “ Sarah will be somewhat disap¬ 
pointed-” 

“ You need not mind that,” said Tom. 

“ I think I had better not. I shall be very glad 
to see her if she will come to me ; and I hope you 
will come, Tom; but I think I will remain here 
till I have made up my mind what to do.” She 
remained in Arundel Street for the next three 
months, and her brother saw her frequently; but 
Mrs. Tom Mackenzie never went to her, and she 
never went to Mrs. Tom Mackenzie. “ Let it be 
even so,” said Mrs. Tom; “ they shall not say that 
I ran after her and her money. I hate such airs.” 
“So do I, mamma,” said Mary Jane, tossing her 
head; “I always said that she was a nasty old 
maid.” 

On that same day,—the day on which the will 

VOL. i. c 



18 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


was read,—Mr. Handcock Lad also come to her. 
“ I need not tell you,” lie Lad said, as he pressed 
her Land, “ Low rejoiced I am—for your sake, 
Margaret.” TLen sLe Lad returned tLe pressure, 
and Lad tlianked him for Lis friendsLip. “You 
know tLat I Lave been made executor to the will,” 
he continued. “He did this simply to save you 
from trouble. I need only promise that I will 
do anything and everything that you can wish.” 
Then he left her, saying nothing of his suit on 
that occasion. 

Two months after this,—and during those two 
months he had necessarily seen her frequently,— 
Mr. Handcock wrote to her from his office in 
Somerset House, renewing his old proposals of 
marriage. His letter was short and sensible, 
pleading his cause as well, perhaps, as any words 
were capable of pleading it at this time; but it 
was not successful. As to her money he told her 
that no doubt he regarded it now as a great addi¬ 
tion to their chance of happiness, should they put 
their lots together; and as to his love for her, he 
referred her to the days in which he had desired 
to make her his wife without a shilling of fortune. 
He had never changed, he said; and if her heart 
was as constant as his, he would make good now 
the proposal which she had once been willing to 
accept. His income was not equal to hers, but it 
was not inconsiderable, and therefore as regards 



THE MACKENZIE FAMILY. 


19 

means they would be very comfortable. Such 
were his arguments, and Margaret, little as she 
knew of the world, was able to perceive that he 
expected that they would succeed with her. 

Little, however, as she might know of the 
world, she was not prepared to sacrifice herself 
and her new freedom, and her new power and her 
new wealth, to Mr. Harry Handcock. One word 
said to her when first she was free and before she 
was rich, would have carried her. But an argu¬ 
mentative, well-worded letter, written to her two 
months after the fact of her freedom and the fact 
of her wealth had sank into his mind, was power¬ 
less on her. She had looked at her glass and 
had perceived that years had improved her, 
whereas years had not improved Harry Hand- 
cock. She had gone back over her old aspirations, 
aspirations of which no whisper had ever been 
uttered, but which had not the less been strong 
within her, and had told herself that she could 
not gratify them by a union with Mr. Handcock. 
She thought, or rather hoped, that society might 
still open to her its portals,—not simply the 
society of the Hand cocks from Somerset House, 
but that society of which she had read in novels 
during the day, and of which she had dreamed at 
night. Might it not yet be given to her to know 
clever people, nice people, bright people, people 
who were not heavy and fat like Mr. Handcock, 

c 2 


20 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


or sick and wearisome like her poor brother 
Walter, or vulgar and quarrelsome like her 
relatives in Gower Street? She'reminded herself 
that she was the niece of one baronet, and the 
first-cousin once removed of another, that she 
had eight hundred a-year, and liberty to do with 
it whatsoever she pleased; and she reminded 
herself, also, that she had higher tastes in the 
world than Mr. Handcock. Therefore she wrote 
to him an answer, much longer than his letter, in 
which she explained to him that the more than 
ten years’ interval which had elapsed since words 
of love had passed between them had—had—had 
—changed the nature of her regard. After much 
hesitation, that was the phrase which she used. 

And she was right in her decision. Whether 
or no she was doomed to be disappointed in her 
aspirations, or to be partially disappointed and 
partially gratified, these pages are written to tell. 
But I think we may conclude that she would 
hardly have made herself happy by marrying 
Mr. Handcock while such aspirations were strong 
upon her. There was nothing on her side in 
favour of such a marriage but a faint remem¬ 
brance of auld lang syne. 

She remained three months in Arundel Street, 
and before that period was over she made a pro¬ 
position to her brother Tom, showing to what 
extent she was willing to burden herself on behalf 


THE MACKENZIE FAMILY, 


21 


of his family. Would he allow her, she asked, to 
undertake the education and charge of his second 
daughter, Susanna ? She would not offer to adopt 
her niece, she said, because it was on the cards 
that she herself might marry; but she would pro¬ 
mise to take upon herself the full expense of the 
girl’s education, and all charge of her till such 
education should be completed. If then any 
future guardianship on her part should have 
become incompatible with her own circumstances, 
she would give Susanna five hundred pounds. 
There was an air of business about this which 
quite startled Tom Mackenzie, who, as has before 
been said, had taught himself in old days to 
regard his sister as a poor creature. There was 
specially an air of business about her allusion to 
her own future state. Tom was not at all sur¬ 
prised that his sister should think of marrying, 
but he was much surprised that she should dare 
to declare her thoughts. “Of course she will 
marry the first fool that asks her,” said Mrs. 
Tom. The father of the large family, however, 
pronounced the offer to be too good to be refused. 
“ If she does, she will keep her word about the 
five hundred pounds,” he said. Mrs. Tom, though 
she demurred, of course gave way; and when 
Margaret Mackenzie left London for Littlebath, 
where lodgings had been taken for her, she took 
her niece Susanna with her. 


22 


CHAPTER II. 

MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO LITTLEBATH. 

1 fear that Miss Mackenzie, when she betook 
herself to Littlebath, had before her mind’s eye 
no sufficiently settled plan of life. She wished to 
live pleasantly, and perhaps fashionably; but she 
also desired to live respectably, and with a due 
regard to religion. How she was to set about 
doing this at Littlebath, I am afraid she did not 
quite know. She told herself over and over again 
that wealth entailed duties as well as privileges; 
but she had no clear idea what were the duties so 
entailed, or what, were the privileges. How could 
she have obtained any clear idea on the subject 
in that prison which she had inhabited for so 
many years by her brother’s bedside ? 

She had indeed been induced to migrate from 
London to Littlebath by an accident which should 
not have been allowed to actuate her. She had 
been ill, and the doctor, with that solicitude which 
doctors sometimes feel for ladies who are well to 
do in the world, had recommended change of air. 


MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO LITTLEBATH. 23 

Littlebath, among the Tantivy hills, would be the 
very place for her. There were waters at Little- 
bath which she might drink for a month or two 
with great advantage to her system. It was then 
the end of July, and everybody that was anybody 
was going out of town. Suppose she were to go 
to Littlebath in August, and stay there for a 
month, or perhaps two months, as she might feel 
inclined. The London doctor knew a Littlebath 
doctor, and would be so happy to give her a 
letter. Then she spoke to the clergyman of the 
church she had lately attended in London, who 
also had become more energetic in his assistance 
since her brother’s death than he had been before, 
and he also could give her a letter to a gentle¬ 
man of his cloth at Littlebath. She knew very 
little in private life of the doctor or of the clergy¬ 
man in London, but not the less, on that account, 
might their introductions be of service to her in 
forming a circle of acquaintance at Littlebath. 
In this way she first came to think of Littlebath, 
and from this beginning she had gradually reached 
her decision. 

Another little accident, or two other little 
accidents, had nearly induced her to remain in 
London,—not in Arundel Street, which was to 
her an odious locality, but in some small genteel 
house in or about Brompton. She had written 
to the two baronets to announce to them her 


24 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


brothers death, Tom Mackenzie, the surviving 
brother, having positively refused to hold any 
communication with either of them. To both 
these letters, after some interval, she received 
courteous replies. Sir Walter Mackenzie was a 
very old man, over eighty, who now never stirred 
away from Incharrow, in Ross-shire. Lady 
Mackenzie was not living. Sir Walter did not 
write himself, but a letter came from Mrs. Mac¬ 
kenzie, his eldest son’s wife, in which she said that 
she and her husband would be up in London in 
the course of the next spring, and hoped that they 
might then have the pleasure of making their 
cousin’s acquaintance. This letter, it was true, 
did not come till the beginning of August, when 
the Littlebath plan was nearly formed; and Mar¬ 
garet knew that her cousin, who was in Parlia¬ 
ment, had himself been in London almost up to 
the time at which it was written, so that he might 
have called had he chosen. But she was pre¬ 
pared to forgive much. There had been cause for 
offence; and if her great relatives were now pre¬ 
pared to take her by the hand, there could be no 
reason why she should not consent to be so taken. 
Sir John Ball, the other baronet, had absolutely 
come to her, and had seen her. There had been 
a regular scene of reconciliation, and she had gone 
down for a day and night to the Cedars. Sir 
John also was an old man, being over seventy, 


MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO LITTLEBATH. 25 

and Lady Ball was nearly as old. Mr. Ball, the 
future baronet, had also been there. He was a 
widower, with a large family and small means. 
He had been, and of course still was, a barrister; 
but as a barrister he had never succeeded, and 
was now waiting sadly till he should inherit the 
very moderate fortune which would come to him 
at his father’s death. The Balls, indeed, had not 
done well with their baronetcy, and their cousin 
found them living with a degree of strictness, as 
to small expenses, which she herself had never 
been called upon to exercise. Lady Ball indeed 
had a carriage,—for what would a baronet’s wife 
do without one ?—but it did not very often go 
out. And the Cedars was an old place, with 
grounds and paddocks appertaining; but the an¬ 
cient solitary gardener could not make much of 
the grounds, and the grass of the paddocks was 
always sold. Margaret, when she was first asked 
to go to the Cedars, felt that it would be better 
for her to give up her migration to Littlebath. 
It would be much, she thought, to have her rela¬ 
tions near to her. But she had found Sir John 
and Lady Ball to be very dull, and her cousin, 
the father of the large family, had spoken to her 
about little except money. She was not much in 
love with the Balls when she returned to London, 
and the Littlebath plan was allowed to go on. 

She made a preliminary journey to that place, 


26 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


and took furnished lodgings in the Paragon. 
Now it is known to all the world that the 
Paragon is the nucleus of all that is pleasant 
and fashionable at Littlebath. It is a long row 
of houses with two short rows abutting from the 
ends of the long row, and every house in it looks 
out upon the Montpelier Gardens. If not built 
of stone, these houses are built of such stucco 
that the Margaret Mackenzies of the world do not 
know the difference. Six steps, which are of 
undoubted stone, lead up to each door. The 
areas are grand with high railings. The flagged 
way before the houses is very broad, and at each 
corner there is an extensive sweep, so that the 
carriages of the Paragonites may be made to 
turn easily. Miss Mackenzies heart sank a little 
within her at the sight of all this grandeur, when 
she was first taken to the Paragon by her new 
friend the doctor. But she bade her heart be of 
good courage, and looked at the first floor,— 
divided into dining-room and drawing-room,—at 
the large bed-room upstairs for herself, and two 
small rooms for her niece and her maid-servant,— 
at the kitchen in which she was to have a partial 
property, and did not faint at the splendour. And 
yet how different it all was from those dingy 
rooms in Arundel Street! So different that she 
could hardly bring herself to think that this bright 
abode could become her own. 


MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO LITTLEBATH. 27 

“ And what is the price, Mrs. Richards ?” Her 
voice almost did fail her as she asked this ques¬ 
tion. She was determined to be liberal; but 
money of her own had hitherto been so scarce 
with her, that she still dreaded the idea of ex¬ 
pense. 

“The price, mem, is well beknown to all as 
knows Littlebath. We never alters. Ask Dr. 
Pottinger else.” 

^iiss Mackenzie did not at all wish to ask 
Dr. Pottinger, who was at this moment stand¬ 
ing in the front room, while she and her embryo 
landlady were settling affairs in the back room. 

“ But what is the price, Mrs. Richards ?” 

“ The price, mem, is two pound ten a week, or 
nine guineas if taken by the month,—to include 
the kitchen fire.” 

Margaret breathed again. She had made her 
little calculations over and over again, and was 
prepared to bid as high as the sum now named 
for such a combination of comfort and splendour 
as Mrs. Richards was able to offer to her. One 
little question she asked, putting her lips close 
to Mrs. Richards’ ear so that her friend the doctor 
should not hear her through the doorway, and 
then jumped back a yard and a half, awe-struck 
by the energy of her landlady’s reply. 

“ B-s in the Paragon!” Mrs. Richards 

declared that Miss Mackenzie did not as yet 



28 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


know Littlebath. She bethought herself that she 
did know Arundel Street, and again thanked 
Fortune for all the good things that had been 
given to her. 

Miss Mackenzie feared to ask any farther ques¬ 
tions after this, and took the rooms out of hand 
by the month. 

“ And very comfortable you’ll find yourself/’ 
said Dr. Pottinger, as he walked back with his 
new friend to the inn. He had perhaps been a 
little disappointed when he saw that Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie showed every sign of good health; but he 
bore it like a man and a Christian, remembering, 
no doubt, that let a lady’s health be ever so good, 
she likes to see a doctor sometimes, especially if 
she be alone in the world. He offered her, there¬ 
fore, every assistance in his power. 

“The assembly rooms were quite close to the 
Paragon,” he said. 

“ Oh, indeed!” said Miss Mackenzie, not quite 
knowing the purport of assembly rooms. 

“And there are two or three churches within 
five minutes’ walk.” Here Miss Mackenzie was 
more at home, and mentioned the name of the 
Rev. Mr. Stumfold, for whom she had a letter of 
introduction, and whose church she would like to 
attend. 

Now Mr. Stumfold was a shining light at 
Littlebath,—the man of men, if he was not some- 


MISS MACKENZTE GOES TO LITTLEBATH. 29 

thing more than mere man, in the eyes of the 
devout inhabitants of that town. Miss Mackenzie 
had never heard of Mr. Stumfold till her clergy¬ 
man in London had mentioned his name, and even 
now had no idea that he was remarkable for any 
special views in Church matters. Such special 
views of her own she had none. But Mr. Stum¬ 
fold at Littlebath had very special views, and was 
very specially known for them. His friends said 
that he was evangelical, and his enemies said that 
he was Low Church. He himself was wont to laugh 
at these names,—for he was a man who could 
laugh,—and to declare that his only ambition was 
to fight the devil under whatever name he might 
be allowed to carry on that battle. And he was 
always fighting the devil by opposing those pur¬ 
suits which are the life and mainstay of such 
places as Littlebath. His chief enemies were 
card-playing and dancing as regarded the weaker 
sex, and hunting and horse-racing,—to which, 
indeed, might be added everything under the 
name of sport,—as regarded the stronger. Sun¬ 
day comforts were also enemies which he hated 
with a vigorous hatred, unless three full services 
a day, with sundry intermediate religious readings 
and exercitations of the spirit, may be called 
Sunday comforts. But not on this account should 
it be supposed that Mr. Stumfold was a dreary, 
dark, sardonic man. Such was by no means the 


S 0 MISS MACKEXZIE. 

case. He could laugh, loud. He could be very 
jovial at dinner parties. He could make his little 
jokes about little pet wickednesses. A glass of 
wine, in season, he never refused. Pic-nics he 
allowed, and the flirtation accompanying them. 
He himself was driven about behind a pair of 
horses, and his daughters were horsewomen. His 
sons, if the world spoke truth, were Nimrods; 
but that was in another county, away from the 
Tantivy hills, and Mr. Stumfold knew nothing of 
it. In Littlebath Mr. Stum fold reigned over bis 
own set as a tyrant, but to those who obeyed him 
he was never austere in bis tyranny. 

When Miss Mackenzie mentioned Mr. Stum- 
fold’s name to the doctor, the doctor felt that he 
had been wrong in his allusion t® the assembly 
rooms. Mr. Stumfold’s people never went to the 
assembly rooms. He, a doctor of medicine, of 
course went among saints and sinners alike, but 
in such a place as Littlebath he had found it 
expedient to have one tone for the saints, and 
another for the sinners. Now the Paragon was 
generally inhabited by sinners, and therefore he 
had made his hint about the assembly rooms. 
He at once pointed out Mr. Stumfold’s church, 
the spire of which was to be seen as they walked 
towards the inn, and said a word in praise of 
that good man. Not a syllable would he have 
again uttered as to the wickednesses of the place, 


MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO LITTLEBATH. 31 


had not Miss Mackenzie asked some question as 
to those assembly rooms. 

“ How did people get to belong to them ? 
Were they pleasant? What did they do there? 
Oh—she could put her name down, could she ? 
If it was anything in the way of amusement she 
would certainly like to put her name down.” 
Dr. Pottinger, when on that afternoon he in¬ 
structed his wife to call on Miss Mackenzie as 
soon as that young lady should be settled, ex¬ 
plained that the stranger was very much in the 
dark as to the ways and manners of Littlebath. 

“What! go to the assembly rooms, and sit 
under Mr. Stumfold !” said Mrs. Pottinger. “ She 
never can do both, you know.” 

Miss Mackenzie went back to London, and 
returned at the end of a week with her niece, 
her new maid, and her boxes. All the old fur¬ 
niture had been sold, and her personal belongings 
were very scanty. The time had now come in 
which personal belongings would accrue to her, 
but when she reached the Paragon one big trunk 
and one small trunk contained all that she pos¬ 
sessed. The luggage of her niece Susanna was 
almost as copious as her own. Her maid had 
been newly hired, and she was almost ashamed 
of the scantiness of her own possessions in the 
eyes of her servant. 

The way in which Susanna had been given up 


32 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


to her had been oppressive, and at one moment 
almost distressing. That objection which each 
lady had to visit the other,—Miss Mackenzie that 
is and Susanna’s mamma,—had never been over¬ 
come, and neither side had given way. No visit 
of affection or of friendship had been made. But 
as it was needful that the transfer of the young 
lady should be effected with some solemnity, 
Mrs. Mackenzie had condescended to bring her 
to her future guardian’s lodgings on the day 
before that fixed for the journey to Littlebath. 
To so much degradation,—for in her eyes it was 
degradation,—Mrs. Mackenzie consented to sub¬ 
ject herself; and Mr. Mackenzie was to come on 
the following morning, and take his sister and 
daughter to the train. 

The mother, as soon as she found herself seated 
and almost before she had recovered the breath 
lost in mounting the lodging-house stairs, began 
the speech which she had prepared for delivery 
on the occasion. Miss Mackenzie, who had taken 
Susanna’s hand, remained with it in her own 
during the greater part of the speech. Before 
the speech was done, the poor girl’s hand had 
been dropped, but in dropping it the aunt was 
not guilty of any unkindness. 

“ Margaret,” said Mrs. Mackenzie, “this is a 
trial,—a very great trial to a mother, and I hope 
that you feel it as I do.” 


MISS MACKENZIE GrOES TO LITTLEBATH. 33 

“Sarah,” said Mrs. Mackenzie, “I will do my 
duty by your child.” 

“Well; yes; I hope so. If I thought you 
would not do your duty by her, no consideration of 
mere money would induce me to let her go to 
you. But I do hope, Margaret, you will think of 
the greatness of the sacrifice we are making. 
There never was a better child than Susanna.” 

“ I’m very glad of that, Sarah.” 

“Indeed, there never was a better child than 
any of ’em; I will say that for them before the 
child herself; and if you do your duty by her, 
I’m quite sure she’ll do hers by you. Tom thinks 
it best that she should go; and, of course, as all 
the money which should have gone to him has 
come to you”—it was here, at this point, that 
Susanna’s hand was dropped—“ and as you 
haven’t got a chick nor child, nor yet anybody 
else of your own, no doubt it’s natural that you 
should wish to have one of them.” 

“ I wish to do a kindness to my brother,” said 
Miss Mackenzie,—“ and to my niece.” 

“Yes; of course; I understand. When you 
would not come up to see us, Margaret, and you 
all alone, and we with a comfortable home to offer 
you, of course I knew what your feelings were 
towards me. I don’t want anybody to tell me that! 
Oh dear, no! ‘Tom,’ said I, when he asked me to 
go down to Arundel Street, ‘ not if I know it.’ 

VOL. i. 


D 


34 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


Those were the very words I uttered: ‘Not if I 
know it, Tom !’ And your papa never asked me 
to go again;—did he, Susanna? Nor I couldn’t 
have brought myself to. As you are so frank, Mar¬ 
garet, perhaps candour is the best on both sides. 
Now I’m going to leave my darling child in your 
hands, and if you’ve got a mother’s heart within 
your bosom, I hope you’ll do a mother’s duty by her.” 

More than once during this oration Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie had felt inclined to speak her mind out, and 
to fight her own battle; but she was repressed 
by the presence of the girl. What chance could 
there be of good feeling, of aught of affection 
between her and her ward, if on such an occasion 
as this the girl were made the witness of a quarrel 
between her mother and her aunt ? Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie’s face had become red, and she had felt 
herself to be angry; but she bore it all with good 
courage. 

“ I will do my best,” said she. “ Susanna, come 
here and kiss me. Shall we be great friends?” 
Susanna went and kissed her; but if the poor girl 
attempted any answer it was not audible. Then 
the mother threw herself on the daughter’s neck, 
and the two embraced each other with many tears. 

“You’ll find all her things very tidy, and 
plenty of ’em,” said Mrs. Mackenzie through her 
tears. “ I’m sure we’ve worked hard enough at 
e’m for the last three weeks.” 


MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO LITTLEBATH. 35 

“ I’ve no doubt we shall find it all very nice,” 
said the aunt. 

“We wouldn’t send her away to disgrace us, 
were it ever so; though of course in the way of 
money it would make no difference to you if she 
had come without a thing to her back. But I’ve 
that spirit I couldn’t do it, and so I told Tom.” 
After this Mrs. Mackenzie once more embraced 
her daughter, and then took her departure. 

Miss Mackenzie, as soon as her sister-in-law 
was gone, again took the girl’s hand in her own. 
Poor Susanna was in tears, and indeed there was 
enough in her circumstances at the present mo¬ 
ment to justify her in weeping. She had been 
given over to her new destiny in no joyous 
manner. 

“ Susanna,” said Aunt Margaret, with her 
softest voice, “I’m so glad you have come to 
me. I will love you very dearly if you will let 
me.” 

The girl came and clustered close against her 
as she sat on the sofa, and so contrived as to 
creep in under her arm. No one had ever crept 
in under her arm, or clung close to her before. 
Such outward signs of affection as that had never 
been hers, either to give or to receive. 

“ My darling,” she said, “ I will love you so 
dearly.” 

Susanna said nothing, not knowing what words 

d 2 


36 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


would be fitting for such an occasion, but on 
hearing her aunt’s assurance of affection, she 
clung still closer to her, and in this way they 
became happy before the evening was over. 

This adopted niece was no child when she was 
thus placed under her aunt’s charge. She was 
already fifteen, and though she was young looking 
for her age,—having none of that precocious air 
of womanhood which some girls have assumed by 
that time,—she was a strong, healthy, well-grown 
lass, standing stoutly on her legs, with her head 
well balanced, with a straight back, and well- 
formed though not slender waist. She was sharp 
about the shoulders and elbows, as girls are,—or 
should be,—at that age; and her face was not 
formed into any definite shape of beauty, or its 
reverse. But her eyes were bright,—as were 
those of all the Mackenzies,—and her mouth was 
not the mouth of a fool. If her cheek bones were 
a little high, and the lower part of her face some¬ 
what angular, those peculiarities were probably 
not distasteful to the eyes of her aunt. 

“ You’re a Mackenzie all over,” said the aunt, 
speaking with some little touch of the northern 
burr in her voice, though she herself had never 
known anything of the north. 

“ That’s what mamma’s brothers and sisters 
always tell me. They say I’m Scotchy.” 

Then Miss Mackenzie kissed the girl again. If 




MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO LITTLEBATH. 37 

Susanna had been sent to her because she had in 
her gait and appearance more of the land of cakes 
than any of her brothers and sisters, that at any 
rate should do her no harm in the estimation 
of her aunt. Thus, in this way, they became 
friends. 

On the following morning Mr. Mackenzie came 
and took them down to the train. 

“ I suppose we shall see you sometimes up in 
London ?” he said, as he stood by the door of the 
carriage. 

“I don’t know that there will be much to bring 
me up,” she answered. 

“ And there won’t be much to keep you down 
in the country,” said he. “ You don’t know any¬ 
body at Littlebath, I believe ?” 

“ The truth is, Tom, that I don’t know anybody 
anywhere. I’m likely to know as many people 
at Littlebath as I should in London. But situ¬ 
ated as I am, I must live pretty much to myself 
wherever I am.” 

Then the guard came bustling along the plat¬ 
form, the father kissed his daughter for the last 
time, and kissed his sister also, and our heroine 
with her young charge had taken her departure, 
and commenced her career in the world. 

For many a mile not a word was spoken be¬ 
tween Miss Mackenzie and her niece. The mind 
of the elder of the two travellers was very full of 


38 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


thought,—of thought and of feeling too, so that 
she could not bring herself to speak joyously to 
the young girl. She had her doubts as to the 
wisdom of what she was doing. Her whole life, 
hitherto, had been sad, sombre, and, we may 
almost say, silent. Things had so gone with her 
that she had had no power of action on her own 
behalf. Neither with her father, nor with her 
mother, though both had been invalids, had any¬ 
thing of the management of affairs fallen into her 
hands. Not even in the hiring or discharge of a 
cookmaid had she possessed any influence. No 
power of the purse had been with her,—none of 
that power which belongs legitimately to a wife 
because a wife is a partner in the business. The 
two sick men whom she had nursed had liked to 
retain in their own hands the little privileges 
which their position had given them. Margaret, 
therefore, had been a nurse in their houses, and 
nothing more than a nurse. Had this gone on for 
another ten years she would have lived down the 
ambition of any more exciting career, and would 
have been satisfied, had she then come into the 
possession of the money which was no\v hers, to 
have ended her days nursing herselfyor more 
probably, as she was by nature unselfish, she 
would have lived down her pride as well as her 
ambition, and would have gone to the house of 
her brother and have expended herself in nursing 


MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO LITTLEBATH. 39 

her nephews and nieces. But luckily for her, 
—or unluckily, as it may be,—this money had 
come to her before her time for withering had 
arrived. In heart, and energy, and desire, there 
was still much of strength left to her. Indeed it 
may be said of her, that she had come so late 
in life to whatever of ripeness was to be vouch¬ 
safed to her, that perhaps the period of her 
thraldom had not terminated itself a day too 
soon for her advantage. Many of her youthful 
verses she had destroyed in the packing up of 
those two modest trunks; but there were effu¬ 
sions of the spirit which had flowed into rhyme 
within the last twelve months, and which she 
still preserved. Since her brother’s death she 
had confined herself to simple prose, and for this 
purpose she kept an ample journal. All this is 
mentioned to show, that at the age of thirty-six 
Margaret Mackenzie was still a young woman. 

She had resolved that she would not content 
herself with a lifeless life, such as those few 
who knew anything of her evidently expected 
from her. Harry Handcock had thought to make 
her his head nurse; and the Tom Mackenzies had 
also indulged some such idea when they gave her 
that first invitation to come and live in Gower 
Street. A word or two had been said at the 
Cedars which led her to suppose that the baro¬ 
net’s family then would have admitted her, with 


40 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


her eight hundred a-year, had she chosen to be 
so admitted. But she had declared to herself 
that she would make a struggle to do better with 
herself and with her money than that. She would 
go out into the world, and see if she could find 
any of those pleasantnesses of which she had read 
in books. As for dancing, she was too old, and 
never yet in her life had she stood up as a wor¬ 
shipper of Terpsichore. Of cards she knew 
nothing; she had never even seen them used. 
To the performance of plays she had been once 
or twice in her early days, and now regarded a 
theatre, not as a sink of wickedness after the 
manner of the Stumfoldians, but as a place of 
danger because of difficulty of ingress and egress, 
and because the ways of a theatre were far beyond 
her ken. The very mode in which it would behove 
her to dress herself to go out to an ordinary dinner 
party, was almost unknown to her. And yet, in 
spite of all this, she was resolved to try. 

Would it not have been easier for her,—easier 
and more comfortable,—to have abandoned all 
ideas of the world, and have put herself at once 
under the tutelage and protection of some clergy¬ 
man who would have told her how to give away 
her money, and prepare herself in the right way 
for a comfortable death-bed ? There was much 
in this view of life to recommend it. It would be 
very easy, and she had the necessary faith. Such 



MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO LITTLEBATH. 41 

a clergyman, too, would be a comfortable friend, 
and, if a married man, might be a very dear 
friend. And there might, probably, be a clergy¬ 
man’s wife, who would go about with her, and 
assist in that giving away of her money. Would 
not this be the best life after all ? But in order 
to reconcile herself altogether to such a life as 
that, it was necessary that she should be con¬ 
vinced that the other life was abominable, wicked, 
and damnable. She had seen enough of things,— 
had looked far enough into the ways of the world, 
—to perceive this. She knew that she must go 
about such work with strong convictions, and as 
yet she could not bring herself to think that 
“dancing and delights” were damnable. No 
doubt she would come to have such belief if told 
so often enough by some persuasive divine; but 
she was not sure that she wished to believe it. 

After doubting much, she had determined to 
give the world a trial, and, feeling that London 
was too big for her, had resolved upon Littlebath. 
But now having started herself upon her journey, 
she felt as some mariner might who had put him¬ 
self out alone to sea in a small boat, with courage 
enough for the attempt, but without that sort of 
courage which would make the attempt itself 
delightful. 

And then this girl that was with her! She 
had told herself that it would not be well to live 


42 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


for herself alone, that it was her duty to share 
her good things with some one, and therefore she 
had resolved to share them with her niece. But 
in this guardianship there was danger, which 
frightened her as she thought of it. 

“Are yon tired yet, my dear?” said Miss 
Mackenzie, as they got to Swindon. 

“ Oh dear, no; I’m not at all tired.” 

“There are cakes in there, I see. I wonder 
whether we should have time to buy one.” 

After considering the matter for five minutes 
in doubt, Aunt Margaret did rush out, and did 
buy the cakes. 


43 


CHAPTER III. 

miss Mackenzie’s first acquaintances. 

In the first fortnight of Miss Mackenzie's sojourn 
at Littlebath, four persons called upon her; but 
though this was a success as far as it went, those 
fourteen days were very dull. During her former 
short visit to the place she had arranged to send 
her niece to a day school which had been recom¬ 
mended to her as being very genteel, and con¬ 
ducted under moral and religious auspices of most 
exalted character. Hither Susanna went every 
morning after breakfast, and returned home in 
these summer days at eight o’clock in the even¬ 
ing. On Sundays also, she w r ent to morning 
church with the other girls; so that Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie was left very much to herself. 

Mrs. Pottinger was the first to call, and the 
doctor’s wife contented herself with simple offers 
of general assistance. She named a baker to Miss 
Mackenzie, and a dressmaker; and she told her 
what was the proper price to be paid by the hour 
for a private brougham or for a public fly. All 


44 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


this was useful, as Miss Mackenzie was in a state 
of densest ignorance; but it did not seem that 
much in the way of amusement would come from 
the acquaintance of Mrs. Pottinger. That lady 
said nothing about the assembly rooms, nor did 
she speak of the Stumfoldian manner of life. Her 
husband had no doubt explained to her that the 
stranger was not as yet a declared disciple in 
either school. Miss Mackenzie had wished to 
ask a question about the assemblies, but had been 
deterred by fear. Then came Mr. Stumfold in 
person, and, of course, nothing about the assembly 
rooms was said by him. He made himself very 
pleasant, and Miss Mackenzie almost resolved to 
put herself into his hands. He did not look sour 
at her, nor did he browbeat her with severe 
words, nor did he exact from her the performance 
of any hard duties. He promised to find her a 
seat in his church, and told her what were the 
hours of service. He had three “Sabbath ser¬ 
vices/’ but he thought that regular attendance 
twice every Sunday was enough for people in 
general. He would be delighted to be of use, 
and Mrs. Stumfold should come and call. Having 
promised this, he went his way. Then came 
Mrs. Stumfold, according to promise, bringing 
with her one Miss Baker, a maiden lady. From 
Mrs. Stumfold our friend got very little assist¬ 
ance. Mrs. Stumfold was hard, severe, and 



miss Mackenzie’s first acquaintances. 45 

perhaps a little grand. She let fall a word or two 
which intimated her conviction that Miss Macken¬ 
zie was to become at all points a Stumfoldian, 
since she had herself invoked the countenance 
and assistance of the great man on her first arri¬ 
val ; but beyond this, Mrs. Stumfold afforded no 
comfort. Our friend could not have explained to 
herself why it was so, but after having encountered 
Mrs. Stumfold she was less inclined to become a 
disciple than she had been when she had seen 
only the great master himself. It was not only 
that Mrs. Stumfold, as judged by externals, was 
felt to be more severe than her husband evangeli¬ 
cally, but she was more severe also ecclesiasti¬ 
cally. Miss Mackenzie thought that she could 
probably obey the ecclesiastical man, but that she 
would certainly rebel against the ecclesiastical 
woman. 

There had been, as I have said, a Miss Baker 
with the female minister, and Miss Mackenzie had 
at once perceived that had Miss Baker called 
alone, the whole thing would have been much 
more pleasant. Miss Baker had a soft voice, was 
given to a good deal of gentle talking, was kind 
in her manner, and prone to quick intimacies with 
other ladies of her own nature. All this Miss 
Mackenzie felt rather than saw, and would have 
been delighted to have had Miss Baker without 
Mrs. Stumfold. She could, she knew, have found 


46 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


out all about everything in five minutes, had she 
and Miss Baker been able to sit close together 
and to let their tongues loose. But Miss Baker, 
poor soul, was in these days thoroughly subject 
to the female Stumfold influence, and went about 
the world of Littlebath in a repressed manner 
that was truly pitiable to those who had known 
her before the days of her slavery. 

But, as she rose to leave the room at her 
tyrant’s bidding, she spoke a word of comfort. 
“ A friend of mine, Miss Mackenzie, lives next 
door to you, and she has begged me to say that 
she will do herself the pleasure of calling on you 
if you will allow her.” 

The poor woman hesitated as she made her 
little speech, and once cast her eye round in fear 
upon her companion. 

“ I’m sure I shall be delighted,” said Miss 
Mackenzie. 

“ That’s Miss Todd, is it ?” said Mrs. Stumfold; 
and it was made manifest by Mrs. Stumfold’s 
voice that Mrs. Stumfold did not think much of 
Miss Todd. 

“ Yes; Miss Todd. You see she is so close a 
neighbour,” said Miss Baker, apologetically. 

Mrs. Stumfold shook her head, and then went 
away without further speech. 

Miss Mackenzie became at once impatient for 
Miss Todd’s arrival, and was induced to keep an 


miss Mackenzie’s first acquaintances. 47 

eye restlessly at watch on the two neighbouring 
doors in the Paragon, in order that she might see 
Miss Todd at the moment of some entrance or 
exit. Twice she did see a lady come out from 
the house next her own on the right, a stout jolly¬ 
looking dame, with a red face and a capacious 
bonnet, who closed the door behind her with a 
slam, and looked as though she would care little 
for either male Stumfold or female. Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie, however, made up her mind that this was 
not Miss Todd. This lady, she thought, was a 
married lady; on one occasion there had been 
children with her, and she was, in Miss Macken¬ 
zie’s judgment, too stout, too decided, and perhaps 
too loud to be a spinster. A full week passed by 
before this question was decided by the promised 
visit,—a week during which the new comer never 
left her house at any hour at which callers could 
be expected to call, so anxious was she to become 
acquainted with her neighbour; and she had 
almost given the matter up in despair, thinking 
that Mrs. Stumfold had interfered with her ty¬ 
ranny, when, one day immediately after lunch,— 
in these days Miss Mackenzie always lunched, 
but seldom dined,—when, one day immediately 
after lunch, Miss Todd was announced. 

Miss Mackenzie immediately saw that she had 
been wrong. Miss Todd was the stout, red-faced 
lady with the children. Two of the children. 


48 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


girls of eleven and thirteen, were with her now. 
As Miss Todd walked across the room to shake 
hands with her new acquaintance, Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie at once recognized the manner in which 
the street door had been slammed, and knew that 
it was the same firm step which she had heard 
on the pavement half down the Paragon. 

“ My friend, Miss Baker, told me you had come 
to live next door to me,” began Miss Todd, “ and 
therefore I told her to tell you that I should 
come and see you. Single ladies, when they come 
here, generally like some one to come to them. 
I’m single myself, and these are my nieces. 
You’ve got a niece, I believe, too. When the 
Popes have nephews, people say all manner of ill- 
natured things. I hope they ain't so uncivil to 
us.” 

Miss Mackenzie smirked and smiled, and as¬ 
sured Miss Todd that she was very glad to see 
her. The allusion to the Popes she did not un¬ 
derstand. 

“ Miss Baker came with Mrs. Stumfold, didn’t 
she?” continued Miss Todd. “She doesn’t go 
much anywhere now without Mrs. Stumfold, 
unless when she creeps down to me. She and I 
are very old friends. Have you known Mr. 
Stumfold long ? Perhaps you have come here to 
be near him ; a great many ladies do.” 

In answer to this, Miss Mackenzie explained 


miss Mackenzie’s first acquaintances. 49 

that she was not a follower of Mr. Stnmfold in 
that sense. It was true that she had brought a 
letter to him, and intended to go to his church. 
In consequence of that lettter Mrs. Stumfold had 
been good enough to call upon her. 

“ Oh yes; she’ll come to you quick enough. 
Did she come with her carriage and horses ?” 

“I think she was on foot,” said Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie. 

“ Then I should tell her of it. Coming to you, 
in the best house in the Paragon, on your first 
arrival, she ought to have come with her carriage 
and horses.” 

“ Tell her of it!” said Miss Mackenzie. 

“A great many ladies would, and would go 
over to the enemy before the month was over, 
unless she brought the carriage in the meantime. 
I don’t advise you to do so. You haven’t got 
standing enough in the place yet, and perhaps 
she could put you down.” 

“But it makes no difference to me how she 
comes.” 

“ None in the least, my dear, or to me either. 
I should be glad to see her even in a wheelbarrow 
for my part. But you mustn’t suppose that she 
ever comes to me. Lord bless you! no. She 
found me out to be past all grace ever so many 
years ago.” 

“ Mrs. Stumfold thinks that aunt Sally is the 

VOL. I. E 


50 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


old gentleman himself,” said the elder of the 
girls. 

“ Ha, ha, ha,” laughed the aunt. “You see, 
Miss Mackenzie, we run very much into parties 
here, as they do in most places of this kind, and 
if you mean to go thoroughly in with the Stumfold 
party you just tell me so, candidly, and there 
won’t be any bones broken between us. I shan’t 
like you the less for saying so; only in that case 
it won’t be any use our trying to see much of each 
other.” 

Miss Mackenzie was somewhat frightened, and 
hardly knew what answer to make. She was 
very anxious to have it understood that she was 
not, as yet, in bond under Mrs. Stumfold,—that 
it was still a matter of choice to herself whether 
she would be a saint or a sinner; and she would 
have been so glad to hint to her neighbour that 
she would like to try the sinner’s line, if it were 
only for a month or two; only Miss Todd 
frightened her! And when the girl told her that 
Miss Todd was regarded, ex parte Stumfold, as 
being the old gentleman himself, Miss Mackenzie 
again thought for an instant that there would be 
safety in giving way to the evangelico-ecclesias- 
tical influence, and that perhaps life might be 
pleasant enough to her if she could be allowed 
to go about in couples with that soft Miss Baker. 

f ‘As you have been so good as to call,” said 


miss Mackenzie’s first acquaintances. 51 

Miss Mackenzie, “I hope yon will allow me to 
return your visit.” 

“ Oh, dear, yes;—shall be quite delighted to see 
you. You can’t hurt me, you know. The ques¬ 
tion is, whether I shan’t ruin you. Not that I 
and Mr. Stumfold ain’t great cronies. He and I 
meet about on neutral ground, and are the best 
friends in the world. He knows I’m a lost sheep, 
—a gone ’coon, as the Americans say,—so he 
pokes his fun at me, and we’re as jolly as sand¬ 
boys. But St. Stumfolda is made of sterner 
metal, and will not put up with any such female 
levity. If she pokes her fun at any sinners, it is 
at gentlemen sinners ; and grim work it must be 
for them, I should think. Poor Mary Baker!— 
the best creature in the world. I’m afraid she 
has a bad time of it. But then, you know, 
perhaps that is the sort of thing you like.” 

“ You see I know so very little of Mrs. Stum¬ 
fold,” said Miss Mackenzie. 

“ That’s a misfortune will soon be cured if you 
let her have her own way. You ask Mary Baker 
else. But I don’t mean to be saying anything 
bad behind anybody’s back; I don’t indeed. I 
have no doubt these people are very good in their 
way; only their ways are not my ways; and one 
doesn’t like to be told so often that one’s own way 
is broad, and that it leads—you know where. 
Come, Patty, let us be going. When you’ve 

e 2 ’ 


52 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


made up your mind. Miss Mackenzie, just you 
tell me. If you say, Miss Todd, I think you’re 
too wicked for me, I shall understand it. I shan’t 
be in the least offended. But if my way isn’t— 
isn’t too broad, you know, I shall be very happy 
to see you.” 

Hereupon Miss Mackenzie plucked up courage 
and asked a question. 

“ Do you ever go to the assembly rooms, Miss 
Todd ?” 

Miss Todd almost whistled before she gave her 
answer. “ Why, Miss Mackenzie, that’s where 
they dance and play cards, and where the girls 
flirt and the young men make fools of themselves. 
I don’t go there very often myself, because I don’t 
care about flirting, and I’m too old for dancing. 
As for cards, I get plenty of them at home. I 
think I did put down my name and paid some¬ 
thing when I first came here, but that’s ever so 
many years ago. I don’t go to the assembly 
rooms now.” 

As soon as Miss Todd was gone, Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie went to work to reflect seriously upon all 
she had just heard. Of course, there could be no 
longer any question of her going to the assembly 
rooms. Even Miss Todd, wicked as she was, 
did not go there. But should she, or should she 
not, return Miss Todd’s visit? If she did she 
would be thereby committing herself to what 


miss Mackenzie’s first acquaintances. 53 

Miss Todd had profanely called the broad way. 
In such case any advance in the Stnmfold direc¬ 
tion would be forbidden to her. But if she did 
not call on Miss Todd, then she would have 
plainly declared that she intended to be such 
another disciple as Miss Baker, and from that 
decision there would be no recall. On this sub¬ 
ject she must make up her mind, and in doing so 
she laboured with all her power. As to any 
charge of incivility which might attach to her 
for not returning the visit of a lady who had been 
so civil to her,—of that she thought nothing. 
Miss Todd had herself declared that she would 
not be in the least offended. But she liked this 
new acquaintance. In owning all the truth about 
Miss Mackenzie, I must confess that her mind 
hankered after the things of this world. She 
thought that if she could only establish herself as 
Miss Todd was established, she would care nothing 
for the Stumfolds, male or female. But how was 
she to do this ? An establishment in the Stum¬ 
fold direction might be easier. 

In the course of the next week two affairs of 
moment occurred to Miss Mackenzie. On the 
Wednesday morning she received from London a 
letter of business which caused her considerable 
anxiety, and on the Thursday afternoon a note was 
brought to her from Mrs. Stumfold,—or rather an 
envelope containing a card on which was printed 


54 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


an invitation to drink tea witli that lady on that 
day week. This invitation she accepted without 
much doubt. She would go and see Mrs. Stum¬ 
fold in her house, and would then be better able 
to decide whether the mode of life practised by 
the Stumfold party would be to her taste. So 
she wrote a reply and sent it by her maid-servant, 
greatly doubting whether she was not wrong in 
writing her answer on common note-paper, and 
whether she also should not have supplied herself 
with some form or card for the occasion. 

The letter of business was from her brother 
Tom, and contained an application for the loan of 
some money,—for the loan, indeed, of a good deal 
of money. But the loan was to be made not to 
him but to the firm of Rubb and Mackenzie, and 
was not to be a simple lending of money on the 
faith of that firm, for purposes of speculation or 
ordinary business. It was to be expended in the 
purchase of the premises in the New Road, and 
Miss Mackenzie was to have a mortgage on them, 
and was to receive five per cent, for the money 
which she should advance. The letter was long, 
and though it was manifest even to Miss Mackenzie 
that he had written the first page with much hesi¬ 
tation, he had waxed strong as he had gone on, 
and had really made out a good case. “ You are 
to understand,” he said, “ that this is, of course, 
to be done through your own lawyer, who will 


miss Mackenzie’s first acquaintances. 55 

not allow yon to make the loan unless he is satis¬ 
fied with the security. Our landlords are com¬ 
pelled to sell the premises, and unless we purchase 
them ourselves, we shall in all probability be 
turned out, as we have only a year or two more 
under our present lease. You could purchase 
the whole thing yourself, but in that case you 
would not be sure of the same interest for your 
money.” He then went on to say that Samuel 
Rubb, junior, the son of old Rubb, should run 
down to Littlebath in the course of next week, in 
order that the whole thing might be made clear 
to her. Samuel Rubb was not the partner whose 
name was included in the designation of the firm, 
but was a young man,—“a comparatively young 
man,”—as her brother explained, who had lately 
been admitted to a share in the business. 

This letter put Miss Mackenzie into a twitter. 
Like all other single ladies, she was very nervous 
about her money. She was quite alive to the 
beauty of a high rate of interest, but did not quite 
understand that high interest and impaired security 
should go hand in hand together. She wished to 
oblige her brother, and was aware that she had 
money as to which her lawyers were looking out 
for an investment. Even this had made her un¬ 
happy, as she was not quite sure whether her 
lawyers would not spend the money. She knew 
that lone women were terribly robbed sometimes, 


56 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


and had almost resolved upon insisting that the 
money should be put into the Three per Cents. 
But she had gone to work with figures, and hav¬ 
ing ascertained that by doing so twenty-five 
pounds a year would be docked off from her com¬ 
puted income, she had given no such order. She 
now again went to work with her figures, and 
found that if the loan were accomplished it would 
add twenty-five pounds a year to her computed 
income. Mortgages, she knew, were good things, 
strong and firm, based upon landed security, and 
very respectable. So she wrote to her lawyers, 
saying that she would be glad to oblige her 
brother if there were nothing amiss. Her lawyers 
wrote back, advising her to refer Mr. Samuel 
Rubb, junior, to them. On the day named in her 
brother’s letter Mr. Samuel Rubb, junior, arrived 
at Littlebath, and called upon Miss Mackenzie in 
the Paragon. 

Miss Mackenzie had been brought up with con¬ 
tempt and almost with hatred for the Rubb 
family. It had, in the first instance, been the 
work of old Samuel Rubb to tempt her brother 
Tom into trade ; and he had tempted Tom into a 
trade that had not been fat and prosperous, and 
therefore pardonable, but into a trade that had 
been troublesome and poor. Walter Mackenzie 
had always spoken of these Rubbs with thorough 
disgust, and had persistently refused to hold any 


miss Mackenzie’s eiest acquaintances. 57 

intercourse with them. When, therefore, Mr. 
Samuel Rubb was announced, our heroine was 
somewhat inclined to seat herself upon a high 
horse. 

Mr. Samuel Rubb, junior, came up-stairs, and 
was by no means the sort of person in appearance 
that Miss Mackenzie had expected to see. In 
the first place, he was, as well as she could 
guess, about forty years of age ; whereas she had 
expected to see a young man. A man who 
went about the world especially designated as 
junior, ought, she thought, to be very young. 
And then Mr. Rubb carried with him an air of 
dignity, and had about his external presence a 
something of authority which made her at once 
seat herself a peg lower than she had intended. 
He was a good-looking man, nearly six feet high, 
with great hands and feet, but with a great fore¬ 
head also, which atoned for his hands and feet. 
He was dressed throughout in black, as trades¬ 
men always are in these days; but, as Miss 
Mackenzie said to herself, there was certainly no 
knowing that he belonged to the oilcloth busi¬ 
ness from the cut of his coat or the set of his 
trousers. 

He began his task with great care, and seemed 
to have none of the hesitation which had afflicted 
her brother in writing his letter. The invest¬ 
ment, he said, would, no doubt, be a good one. 



58 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


Two thousand four hundred pounds was the sum 
wanted, and he understood that she had that 
amount lying idle. Their lawyer had already 
seen her lawyer, and there could be no doubt as 
to the soundness of the mortgage. An assurance 
company with whom the firm had dealings was 
quite ready to advance the money on the proposed 
security, and at the proposed rate of interest, but 
in such a matter as that Rubb and Mackenzie 
did not wish to deal with an assurance com¬ 
pany. They desired that all control over the 
premises should either be in their own hands, 
or in the hands of some one connected with 
them. 

By the time that Mr. Samuel Rubb had 
done, Miss Mackenzie found herself to have 
dismounted altogether from her high horse, and 
to be pervaded by some slight fear that her 
lawyer might allow so favourable an opportunity 
for investing her money to slip through their 
hands. 

Then, on a sudden, Mr. Rubb dropped the sub¬ 
ject of the loan, and Miss Mackenzie, as he did 
so, felt herself to be almost disappointed. And 
when she found him talking easily to her about 
matters of external life, although she answered 
him readily, and talked to him also easily, she 
entertained some feeling that she ought to be 
offended. Mr. Rubb, junior, was a tradesman 


miss Mackenzie’s first acquaintances. 59 

who had come to her on business, and having 
done his business, why did he not go away ? 
Nevertheless Miss Mackenzie answered him when 
he asked questions, and allowed herself to be 
seduced into a conversation. 

“ Yes, upon my honour,” he said, looking out 
of.the window into the Montpelier Gardens, “a 
very nice situation, indeed. How much better 
they do these things in such a place as this than 
we do up in London! What dingy houses we 
live in, and how bright they make the places 
here!” 

“ They are not crowded so much, I suppose,” 
said Miss Mackenzie. 

“ It isn’t only that. The truth is, that in 
London nobody cares what his house looks like. 
The whole thing is so ugly that anything not ugly 

would be out of place. Now, in Paris-. You 

have been in Paris, Miss Mackenzie ?” 

In answer to this Miss Mackenzie was com¬ 
pelled to own that she had never been in Paris. 

“ Ah, you should go to Paris, Miss Macken¬ 
zie ; you should, indeed. Now, you’re a lady 
that have nothing to prevent your going any¬ 
where. If I were you, I’d go almost everywhere; 
but above all, I’d go to Paris. There’s no place 
like Paris.” 

“ I suppose not,” said Miss Mackenzie. 

By this time Mr. Rubb had returned from the 



60 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


window, and had seated himself in the easy-chair 
in the middle of the room. In doing so he thrust 
out both his legs, folded his hands one over the 
other, and looked very comfortable. 

“ Now I’m a slave to business/’ he said. “ That 
horrid place in the New Road, which we want to 
buy with your money, has made a prisoner of me 
for the last twenty years. I went into it as the 
boy who was to do the copying, when your 
brother first became a partner. Oh dear, how I 
did hate it!” 

“ Did you now ?” 

“I should rather think I did. I had been 
brought up at the Merchant Taylors’, and they in¬ 
tended to send me to Oxford. That was five 
years before they began the business in the New 
Road. Then came the crash which our house 
had at Manchester; and when we had picked up 
the pieces, we found that we had to give up 
university ideas. However, I’ll make a business 
of it before I’m done; you see if I don’t, Miss 
Mackenzie. Your brother has been with us so 
many years that I have quite a pleasure in talk¬ 
ing to you about it.” 

Miss Mackenzie was not quite sure that she 
reciprocated the pleasure; for, after all, though 
he did look so much better than she had expected, 
he was only Rubb, junior, from Rubb and Mac¬ 
kenzie’s ; and any permanent acquaintance with 



miss Mackenzie’s first acquaintances. 61 

Mr. Rubb would not suit the line of life in which 
she was desirous of moving. But she did not in 
the least know how to stop him, or how to show 
him that she had intended to receive him simply 
as a man of business. And then it was so 
seldom that any one came to talk to her, that 
she was tempted to fall away from her high 
resolves. “I have not known much of my 
brother’s concerns,” she said, attempting to be 
cautious. 

Then he sat for another hour, making himself 
very agreeable, and at the end of that time she 
offered him a glass of wine and a biscuit, which 
he accepted. He was going to remain two or 
three days in the neighbourhood, he said, and 
might he call again before he left? Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie told him that he might. How was it pos¬ 
sible that she should answer such a question in 
any other way? Then he got up, and shook 
hands with her, told her that he was so glad he 
had come to Littlebath, and was quite cordial and 
friendly. Miss Mackenzie actually found herself 
laughing with him as they stood on the floor 
together, and though she knew that it was im¬ 
proper, she liked it. When he was gone she 
could not remember what it was that had made 
her laugh, but she remembered that she had 
laughed. For a long time past very little 
laughter had come to her share. 


62 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


When he was gone she prepared herself to 
think about him at length. Why had he talked 
to her in that way ? Why was he going to call 
again ? Why was Rubb, junior, from Rubb and 
Mackenzie’s, such a pleasant fellow ? After all, 
he retailed oilcloth at so much a yard ; and little 
as she knew of the world, she knew that she, with 
ever so much good blood in her veins, and with 
ever so many hundreds a year of her own, was 
entitled to look for acquaintances of a higher 
order than that. She, if she were entitled to 
make any boast about herself,—and she was by 
no means inclined to such boastings,—might at 
any rate boast that she was a lady. Now, Mr. 
Rubb was not a gentleman. He was not a gentle¬ 
man by position. She knew that well enough, 
and she thought that she had also discovered that 
he was not quite a gentleman in his manners and 
mode of speech. Nevertheless she had liked him, 
and had laughed with him, and the remembrance 
of this made her sad. 

That same evening she wrote a letter to her 
lawyer, telling him that she was very anxious to 
oblige her brother, if the security was good. And 
then she went into the matter at length, repeating 
much of what Mr. Rubb had said to her, as to 
the excellence of mortgages in general, and of this 
mortgage in particular. After that she dressed 
herself with great care, and went out to tea at 


miss Mackenzie’s first acquaintances. 63 

Mrs. Stumfold’s. This was the first occasion in 
her life in which she had gone to a party the 
invitation to which had come to her on a card, 
and of course she felt herself to be a little 


nervous. 


64 


CHAPTER IV. 

MISS MACKENZIE COMMENCES HER CAREER. 

Miss Mackenzie had been three weeks at Little- 
bath when the day arrived on which she was to 
go to Mrs. Stumfold’s party, and up to that time 
she had not enjoyed much of the society of that 
very social place. Indeed, in these pages have 
been described with accuracy all the advancement 
which she had made in that direction. She had 
indeed returned Miss Todd’s call, but had not 
found that lady at home. In doing this she had 
almost felt herself to be guilty of treason against 
the new allegiance which she seemed to have 
taken upon herself in accepting Mrs. Stumfold’s 
invitation; and she had done it at last not from any 
firm resolve of which she might have been proud, 
but had been driven to it by ennui, and by the 
easy temptation of Miss Todd’s neighbouring door. 
She had, therefore, slipped out, and finding her 
wicked friend to be not at home, had hurried 
back again. She had, however, committed herself 
to a card, and she knew that Mrs. Stumfold would 





* 

MISS MACKENZIE COMMENCES HER CAREER. 65 

hear of it through Miss Baker. Miss Baker’s 
visit she had not returned, being in doubt where 
Miss Baker lived, being terribly in doubt also 
whether the Median rules of fashion demanded 
of her that she should return the call of a lady 
who had simply come to her with another caller. 
Her hesitation on this subject had been much, 
and her vacillations many, but she had thought it 
safer to abstain. For the last day or two she had 
been expecting the return of Mr. Bubb, junior,— 
keeping herself a prisoner, I fear, during the best 
hours of the day, so that she might be there to 
receive him when he did come; but though she 
had so acted, she had quite resolved to be very 
cold with him, and very cautious, and had been 
desirous of seeing him solely with a view to the 
mercantile necessities of her position. It behoved 
her certainly to attend to business when business 
came in her way, and therefore she would take 
care to be at home when Mr. Bubb should call. 

She had been to church twice a day on each of 
the Sundays that she had passed in Littlebath, 
having in this matter strictly obeyed the hints 
which Mr. Stumfold had given for her guidance. 
Ho doubt she had received benefit from the dis¬ 
courses which she had heard from that gentleman 
each morning; and, let us hope, benefit also from 
the much longer discourses which she had heard 
from Mr. Stumfold’s curate on each evening. 

VOL. I. F 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


The Rev. Mr. Maguire was very powerful, but he 
was also very long; and Miss Mackenzie, who was 
hardly as yet entitled to rank herself among the 
thoroughly converted, was inclined to think that 
he was too long. She was, however, patient by 
nature, and willing to bear much, if only some 
little might come to her in return. What of 
social comfort she had expected to obtain from 
her churchgoings I cannot quite define; but I 
think that she had unconsciously expected some¬ 
thing from them in that direction, and that she 
had been disappointed. 

Rut now, at nine o’clock on this appointed 
evening, she was of a certainty and in very truth 
going into society. The card said half-past eight; 
but the Sun had not yoked his horses so far 
away from her Tyre, remote as that Tyre had 
been, as to have left her in ignorance that half¬ 
past eight meant nine. When her watch showed 
her that half-past eight had really come, she was 
fidgetty, and rang the bell to inquire whether the 
man might have probably forgotten to send the 
fly; and yet she had been very careful to tell the 
man that she did not wish to be at Mrs. Stum- 
fold’s before nine. 

“He understands, miss,” said the servant; 
“ don’t you be afeard; he’s a-doing of it every 
night.” 

Then she became painfully conscious that even 


MISS MACKENZIE COMMENCES HER CAREER. 67 

the maidservant knew more of the social ways of 
the place than did she. 

When she reached the top of Mrs. Stumfold’s 
stairs, her heart was in her mouth, for she per¬ 
ceived immediately that she had kept people 
waiting. After all, she had trusted to false intel¬ 
ligence in that matter of the hour. Half-past 
eight had meant half-past eight, and she ought 
to have known that this would be so in a house 
so upright as that of Mrs. Stumfold. That lady 
met her at the door, and smiling,—blandly, but, 
perhaps, I may be permitted to say, not so blandly 
as she might have smiled,—conducted the stranger 
to a seat. 

“We generally open with a little prayer, and 
for that purpose our dear friends are kind enough 
to come to us punctually.” 

Then Mr. Stumfold got up, and pressed her 
hand very kindly. 

“I am so sorry,” Miss Mackenzie had muttered. 

“ Not in the least,” he replied. “ I knew you 
couldn’t know, and therefore we ventured to wait 
a few minutes. The time hasn’t been lost, as 
Mr. Maguire has treated us to a theological argu¬ 
ment of great weight.” 

Then all the company laughed, and Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie perceived that Mr. Stumfold could joke in 
his way. She was introduced to Mr. Maguire, 
who also pressed her hand; and then Miss Baker 

f 2 


68 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


came and sat by her side. There was, however, 
at that moment no time for conversation. The 
prayer was begun immediately, Mr. Stumfold 
taking this duty himself. Then Mr. Maguire 
read half a chapter in the Bible, and after that 
Mr. Stumfold explained it. Two ladies asked 
Mr. Stumfold questions with great pertinacity, 
and these questions Mr. Stumfold answered very 
freely, walking about the room the while, and 
laughing often as he submitted himself to their 
interrogations. And Miss Mackenzie was much 
astonished at the special freedom of his manner 
—how he spoke of St. Paul as Paul, declaring 
the saint to have been a good fellow; how he 
said he liked Luke better than Matthew, and 
how he named even a holier name than these 
with infinite ease and an accustomed familiarity 
which seemed to delight the other ladies; but 
which at first shocked her in her ignorance. 

“But I’m not going to have anything more to 
say to Peter and Paul at present,” he declared at 
last. “ You’d keep me here all night, and tli6 
tea will be spoilt.” 

Then they all laughed again at the absurd idea 
of this great and good man preferring his food,— 
his food of this world,—to that other food which 
it was his special business to dispense. There is 
nothing which the Stumfoldian ladies of Littlebath 
liked so much as these little jokes which bordered 


MISS MACKENZIE COMMENCES HER CAREER. 69 

on the profanity of the outer world, which made 
them feel themselves to be almost as funny as 
the sinners, and gave them a slight taste, as it 
were, of the pleasures of iniquity. 

“Wine maketh glad the heart of woman, Mrs. 
Jones,” Mr. Stumfold would say as he filled for 
the second time the glass of some old lady of his 
set; and the old lady would chirrup and wink, 
and feel that things were going almost as jollily 
with her as they did with that wicked Mrs. Smith 
who spent every night of her life playing cards, 
or as they had done with that horrid Mrs. Brown 
of whom such terrible things were occasionally 
whispered when two or three ladies found them¬ 
selves sufficiently private to whisper them;—that 
things were going almost as pleasantly here in 
this world, although accompanied by so much 
safety as to the future in her own case, and so 
much danger in those other cases! I think it 
was this aptitude for feminine rakishness which, 
more than any of his great virtues, more even 
than his indomitable industry, made Mr. Stumfold 
the most popular man in Littlebath. A dozen 
ladies on the present occasion skipped away to 
the tea-table in the back drawing-room with a 
delighted alacrity, which w^as all owing to the 
unceremonious treatment which St. Peter and 
St. Paul had received from their pastor. 

Miss Mackenzie had just found time to cast an 


70 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


eye round the room and examine the scene of 
Mr. Stumfold’s pleasantries while Mr. Maguire 
was reading. She saw that there were only 
three gentlemen there besides the two clergymen. 
There was a very old man who sat close wedged 
in between Mrs. Stumfold and another lady, by 
whose joint dresses he was almost obliterated. 
This was Mr. Peters, a retired attorney. He was 
Mrs. Stumfold’s father, and from his coffers had 
come the superfluities of comfort which Miss 
Mackenzie saw around her. Rumour, even among 
the saintly people of Littlebath, said that Mr. 
Peters had been a sharp practitioner in his early 
days;—that he had been successful in his labours 
was admitted by all. 

“No doubt he has repented,” Miss Baker said 
one day to Miss Todd. 

“ And if he has not, he has forgotten all about 
it, which generally means the same thing,” Miss 
Todd had answered. 

Mr. Peters was now very old, and I am dis¬ 
posed to think he had forgotten all about it. 

The other two gentlemen were both young, 
and they stood very high in the graces of all the 
company there assembled. They were high in 
the graces of Mr. Stumfold, but higher still in 
the graces of Mrs. Stumfold, and were almost 
worshipped by one or two other ladies whose 
powers of external adoration were not diminished 


MISS MACKENZIE COMMENCES HER CAREER. 71 

by the possession of husbands. They were, both 
of them, young men who had settled themselves 
for a time at Littlebath that they might be near 
Mr. Stumfold, and had sufficient of worldly wealth 
to enable them to pass their time in semi-clerical 
pursuits. 

Mr. Frigidy, the elder, intended at some time 
to go into the Church, but had not as yet made 
sufficient progress in his studies to justify him in 
hoping that he could pass a bishop’s examination. 
His friends told him of Islington and St. Bees, of 
Durham, Birkenhead, and other places, where the 
thing could be done for him; but he hesitated, 
fearing whether he might be able to pass even 
the initionary gates of Islington. He was a good 
young man, at peace with all the world,—except 
Mr. Startup. With Mr. Startup the veracious 
chronicler does not dare to assert that Mr. Frigidy 
was at peace. Now Mr. Startup was the other 
young man whom Miss Mackenzie saw in that 
room. 

Mr. Startup was also a very good young man, 
but he was of a fiery calibre, whereas Frigidy 
was naturally mild. Startup was already an 
open-air preacher, whereas Frigidy lacked nerve 
to speak a word above his breath. Startup was 
not a clergyman because certain scruples impeded 
and prevented him, while in the bosom of Frigidy 
there existed no desire so strong as that of having 


72 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


the word reverend attached to his name. Startup, 
though he was younger than Frigidy, could talk 
to seven ladies at once with ease, but Frigidy 
could not talk to one without much assistance 
from that lady herself. The consequence of this 
was that Mr. Frigidy could not bring himself to 
love Mr. Startup,—could not enable himself to 
justify a veracious chronicler in saying that he 
was at peace with all the world, Startup included. 

The ladies were too many for Miss Mackenzie 
to notice them specially as she sat listening to 
Mr. Maguire’s impressive voice. Mr. Maguire 
she did notice, and found him to be the possessor 
of a good figure, of a fine head of jet black hair, 
of a perfect set of white teeth, of whiskers which 
were also black and very fine, but streaked here 
and there with a grey hair,—and of the most 
terrible squint in his right eye which ever dis¬ 
figured a face that in all other respects was fitted 
for an Apollo. So egregious was this squint that 
Miss Mackenzie could not keep herself from re¬ 
garding it, even while Mr. Stumfold was ex¬ 
pounding. Had she looked Mr. Maguire full in 
the face at the beginning, I do not think it would 
so much have mattered to her; but she had seen 
first the back of his head, and then his profile, 
and had unfortunately formed a strong opinion as 
to his almost perfect beauty. When, therefore, 
the defective eye was disclosed to her, her feel- 




MISS MACKENZIE COMMENCES HER CAREER. 73 

ings were moved in a more than ordinary manner. 
How was it that a man graced with such a head, 
with such a mouth and chin and forehead, nay, 
with such a left eye, could be cursed with such 
a right eye! She was still thinking of this when 
the frisky movement into the tea-room took place 
around her. 

When at this moment Mr. Stumfold offered her 
his arm to conduct her through the folding doors, 
this condescension on his part almost confounded 
her. The other ladies knew that he always did 
so to a new comer, and therefore thought less of 
it. Ho other gentleman took any other lady, but 
she was led up to a special seat,—a seat of honour 
as it were, at the left hand side of a huge silver 
kettle. Immediately before the kettle sat Mrs. 
Stumfold. Immediately before another kettle, at 
another table, sat Miss Peters, a sister of Mrs. 
Stumfold’s. The back drawing-room in which 
they were congregated was larger than the other, 
and opened behind into a pretty garden. Mr. 
Stumfold’s lines in falling thus among the Peters, 
had fallen to him in pleasant places. On the 
other side of Miss Mackenzie sat Miss Baker, and 
on the other side of Mrs. Stumfold stood Mr. 
Startup, talking aloud and administering the full 
tea-cups with a conscious grace. Mr. Stumfold 
and Mr. Frigidy were at the other table, and 
Mr. Maguire was occupied in passing promis- 


74 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


cuously from one to the other. Miss Mackenzie 
wished with all her heart that he would seat him¬ 
self somewhere with his face turned away from 
her, for she found it impossible to avert her eyes 
from his eye. But he was always there, before 
her sight, and she began to feel that he was an 
evil spirit,—her evil spirit, and that he would be 
too many for her. 

Before anybody else was allowed to begin, 
Mrs. Stumfold rose from her chair with a large 
and completely filled bowl of tea, with a plate 
also laden with buttered toast, and with her own 
hands and on her own legs carried these delicacies 
round to her papa. On such an occasion as this 
no servant, no friend, no Mr. Startup, was allowed 
to interfere with her filial piety. 

“She does it always,” said an admiring lady 
in an audible whisper from the other side of Miss 
Baker. “ She does it always.” 

The admiring lady was the wife of a retired 
coachbuilder, who was painfully anxious to make 
her way into good evangelical society at Little- 
bath. 

“ Perhaps you will put in the sugar for your¬ 
self,” said Mrs. Stumfold to Miss Mackenzie as 
soon as she returned. On this occasion Miss 
Mackenzie received her cup the first after the 
father of the house, but the words spoken to her 
were stern to the ear. 



f MISS MACKENZIE COMMENCES HER CAREER. 75 


u Perhaps yon will put in the sugar yourself. 
It lightens the labour/’ 

Miss Mackenzie expressed her willingness to 
clo so, and regretted that Mrs. Stumfold should 
have to work so hard. Could she be of assist¬ 
ance. 

“ I’m quite used to it, thank you,” said Mrs. 
Stumfold. 

The words were not uncivil, but the tone was 
dreadfully severe, and Miss Mackenzie felt pain¬ 
fully sure that her hostess was already aware of 
the card that had been left at Miss Todd’s door. 

Mr. Startup was now actively at work. 

“ Lady Griggs’s and Miss Fleebody’s;—I know. 
A great deal of sugar for her ladyship, and Miss 
Fleebody eats muffin. Mrs. Blow always takes 
pound-cake, and I’ll see that there’s one near her. 
Mortimer ”—Mortimer was the footman—“ is 
getting more bread and butter. Maguire, you 
have two dishes of sweet biscuits over there; 
give us one here. Never mind me, Mrs. Stum¬ 
fold ; I’ll have my innings presently.” 

All this Mr. Frigidy heard with envious ears 
as he sat with his own tea-cup before him at the 
other table. He would have given the world to 
have been walking about the room like Startup, 
making himself useful and conspicuous; but he 
couldn’t do it;—he knew that he couldn’t do it. 
Later in the evening, when he had been sitting 


76 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


by Miss Trotter for two hours,—and he had very 
often sat by Miss Trotter before,—he ventured 
upon a remark. 

“Don’t you think that Mr. Startup makes him¬ 
self a little forward ?” 

“ Oh dear, yes, very,” said Miss Trotter. “ I 
believe he’s an excellent young man, but I always 
did think him forward, now you mention it. And 
sometimes I’ve wondered how dear Mrs. Stumfold 
could like so much of it. But do you know, 
Mr. Frigidy, I am not quite sure that somebody 
else does like it. You know who I mean.” 

Miss Trotter said much more than this, and 
Mr. Frigidy was comforted, and believed that he 
had been talking. 

When Mrs. Stumfold commenced her conversa¬ 
tion with Mr. Startup, Miss Baker addressed 
herself to Miss Mackenzie; but there was at 
first something of stiffness in her manner,—as 
became a lady whose call had not been returned. 

“I hope you like Littlebath,” said Miss Baker. 

Miss Mackenzie, who began to be conscious 
that she had done wrong, hesitated as she replied 
that she liked it pretty well. 

“I think you’ll find it pleasant,” said Miss 
Baker ; and then there was a pause. There could 
not be two women more fitted for friendship than 
were these, and it was much to be hoped, for the 
sake of our poor, solitary heroine especially, that 


MISS MACKENZIE COMMENCES HER CAREER. 77 


this outside crust of manner might be broken up 
and dispersed. 

“ I dare say I shall find it pleasant, after a 
time/’ said Miss Mackenzie. Then they ap¬ 
plied themselves each to her own bread and 
butter. 

“ You have not seen Miss Todd, I suppose, since 
I saw you ?” Miss Baker asked this question 
when she perceived that Mrs. Stumfold was deep 
in some secret conference with Mr. Startup. It 
must, however, be told to Miss Baker’s credit, 
that she had persistently maintained her friend¬ 
ship with Miss Todd, in spite of all the Stumfoldian 
influences. Miss Mackenzie, at the moment less 
brave, looked round aghast, but seeing that her 
hostess w~as in deep conference with her prime 
minister, she took heart of grace. “I called, 
and I did not see her.” 

“She promised me she would call,” said Miss 
Baker. 

“ And I returned her visit, but she wasn’t at 
home,” said Miss Mackenzie. 

“ Indeed,” said Miss Baker; and then there was 
silence between them again. 

But, after a pause, Miss Mackenzie again took 
heart of grace. I do not think that there was, of 
nature, much of the coward about her. Indeed, 
the very fact that she was there alone at Little- 
bath, fighting her own battle with the world, 


78 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


instead of having allowed herself to be swallowed 
up by the Harry Handcocks, and Tom Mackenzies, 
proved her to be anything but a coward. “ Per¬ 
haps, Miss Baker, I ought to have returned your 
visit,” said she. 

“ That was just as you like,” said Miss Baker, 
with her sweetest smile. 

“ Of course, I should have liked it, as I thought 
it so good of you to come. But as you came with 
Mrs. Stumfold, I was not quite sure whether it 
might be intended ; and then I didn’t know,—did 
not exactly know,—where you lived.” 

After this the two ladies got on very comfort¬ 
ably so long as they were left sitting side by side. 
Miss Baker imparted to Miss Mackenzie her full 
address, and Miss Mackenzie, with that brightness 
in her eyes which they always assumed when she 
was eager, begged her new friend to come to her 
again. 

“ Indeed, I will,” said Miss Baker. After that 
they were parted by a general return to the front 
room. 

And now Miss Mackenzie found herself seated 
next to Mr. Maguire. She had been carried 
away in the crowd to a further corner, in which 
there were two chairs, and before she had been 
able to consider the merits or demerits of the 
position, Mr. Maguire was seated close beside her. 
He was seated close beside her in such a way as 






MISS MACKENZIE COMMENCES HER CAREER. 79 

to make the two specially separated from all 
the world beyond, for in front of them stood a 
wall of crinoline,—a wall of crinoline divided 
between four or five owners, among whom was 
shared the eloquence of Mr. Startup, who was 
carrying on an evangelical flirtation with the 
whole of them in a manner that was greatly 
pleasing to them, and enthusiastically delightful 
to him. Miss Mackenzie, when she found herself 
thus entrapped, looked into Mr. Maguire’s eye 
with dismay. Had that look been sure to bring 
down upon her the hatred of that reverend gentle¬ 
man, she could not have helped it. The eye 
fascinated her, as much as it frightened her. But 
Mr. Maguire w T as used to have his eye inspected, 
and did not hate her. He fixed it apparently on 
the corners of the wall, but in truth upon her, and 
then he began: 

“ I am so glad that you have come among us, 
Miss Mackenzie.” 

“Fm sure that I’m very much obliged.” 

“Well; you ought to be. You must not be 
surprised at my saying so, though it sounds 
uncivil. You ought to feel obliged, and the 
obligation should be mutual. I am not sure, that 
when all things are considered, you could find 
yourself in any better place in England, than in 
the drawing-room of my friend Stumfold; and, if 
you will allow me to say so, my friend Stumfold 


80 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


could hardly use his drawing-room better, than 
by entertaining you.” 

“ Mr. Stumfold is very good, and so is she.” 

“ Mr. Stumfold is very good; and as for Mrs. 
Stumfold, I look upon her as a very wonderful 
woman—quite a w T onderful woman. For grasp of 
intellect, for depth of thought, for tenderness of sen¬ 
timent,—perhaps you mightn’t have expected that, 
but there it is,—for tenderness of sentiment, for 
strength of faith, for purity of life, for genial hospi¬ 
tality, and all the domestic duties, Mrs. Stumfold 
has no equal in Littlebath, and perhaps few 
superiors elsewhere.” 

Here Mr. Maguire paused, and Miss Mackenzie, 
finding herself obliged to speak, said that she did 
not at all doubt it. 

“ You need not doubt it, Miss Mackenzie. She 
is all that, I tell you; and more, too. Her 
manners may seem a little harsh to you at first. 
I know it is so sometimes with ladies before they 
know her well; but it is only skin-deep, Miss 
Mackenzie,—only skin-deep. She is so much in 
earnest about her work, that she cannot bring 
herself to be light and playful as he is. Now, he 
is as full of play as a young lamb.” 

“ He seems to be very pleasant.” 

“ And he is always just the same. There are 
people, you know, who say that religion is austere 
and melancholy. They never could say that if 





MISS MACKENZIE COMMENCES HER CAREER. 81 

they knew my friend Stnmfold. His life is 
devoted to his clerical duties. I know no mail 
who works harder in the vineyard than Stumfold. 
But he always works with a smile on his face. 
And why not, Miss Mackenzie ?—when you think 
of it, why not ?” 

“ I dare say it’s best not to be unhappy,” said 
Miss Mackenzie. She did not speak till she per¬ 
ceived that he had paused for her answer. 

“ Of course we know that this world can make 
no one happy. What are we that we should dare 
to be happy here ?” 

Again he paused, but Miss Mackenzie feeling 
that she had been ill-treated and trapped into a diffi¬ 
culty at her last reply, resolutely remained silent. 

“ I defy any man or woman to be happy here,” 
said Mr. Maguire, looking at her with one eye 
and at the corner of the wall with the other in a 
manner that was very terrible to her. “But we 
may be cheerful;—we may go about our work 
singing psalms of praise instead of songs of sor¬ 
row. Don’t you agree with me, Miss Mackenzie, 
that psalms of praise are better than songs of 
sorrow ?” 

“ I don’t sing at all, myself,” said Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie. 

“You sing in your heart, my friend; I am 
sure you sing in your heart. Don’t you sing in 
your heart ?” Here again he paused. 

VOL. i. 


Gr 


82 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ Well; perhaps in my heart, yes.” 

“ I know you do, loud psalms of praise upon 
a ten-stringed lute. But Stumfold is always 
singing aloud, and his lute has twenty strings.” 
Here the voice of the twenty-stringed singer was 
heard across the large room asking the company 
a riddle. 

“Why was Peter in prison like a little boy 
with his shoes off?” 

“ That’s so like him,” said Mr. Maguire. 

All the ladies in the room were in a fever of 
expectation, and Mr. Stumfold asked the riddle 
again. 

“ He won’t tell them till we meet again; but 
there isn’t one here who won’t study the life of 
St. Peter during the next week. And what 
they’ll learn in that way they’ll never forget.” 

4 ‘But why was he like a little boy with his 
shoes off?” asked Miss Mackenzie. 

“ Ah !—that’s Stumfold’s riddle. You must 
ask Mr. Stumfold, and he won’t tell you till next 
week. But some of the ladies will be sure to 
find it out before then. Have you come to 
settle yourself altogether at Littlebath, Miss 
Mackenzie ?” 

This question he asked very abruptly, but he 
had a way of looking at her when he asked a 
question, which made it impossible for her to 
avoid an answer. 



MISS MACKENZIE COMMENCES HER CAREER. 83 


“I suppose I shall stay here for some con¬ 
siderable time.” 

“Do, do,” said he with energy. “Do; come 
and live among us, and be one of us; come and 
partake with us at the feast which we are making 
ready; come and eat of our crusts, and dip with 
us in the same dish; come and be of our flock, 
and go with us into the pleasant pastures, among 
the lanes and green hedges which appertain to 
the farm of the Lord. Come and walk with us 
through the Sabbath corn-fields, and pluck the 
ears when you are a-hungered, disregarding the 
broad philacteries. Come and sing with us songs 
of a joyful heart, and let us be glad together. 
What better can you do, Miss Mackenzie? I 
don’t believe there is a more healthy place in the 
world than Littlebath, and, considering that the 
place is fashionable, things are really very reason¬ 
able.” 

He was rapid in his utterance, and so full of 
energy, that Miss Mackenzie did not quite follow 
him in his quick transitions. She hardly under* 
stood whether he was advising her to take up an 
abode in a terrestrial Eden or a celestial Para¬ 
dise; but she presumed that he meant to be civil, 
so she thanked him and said she thought she 
would. It was a thousand pities that he should 
squint so frightfully, as in all other respects he 
was a good-looking man. Just at this moment 

a 2 



84 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


there seemed to be a sudden breaking up of the 
party. 

“We are all going away,” said Mr. Maguire. 
“We always do when Mrs. Stumfold gets up 
from her seat. She does it when she sees that 
her father is nodding his head. You must let me 
out, because I’ve got to say a prayer. By-the- 
bye, you’ll allow me to walk home with you, I 
hope. I shall be so happy to be useful.” 

Miss Mackenzie told him that the fly was 
coming for her, and then he scrambled away 
into the middle of the room. 

“We always walk home from these parties,” 
said Miss Baker, who had, however, on this occa¬ 
sion, consented to be taken away by Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie in the fly. “ It makes it come so much 
cheaper, you know.” 

“Of course it does; and it’s quite as nice if every¬ 
body does it. But you don’t walk going there ?” 

“ Not generally,” said Miss Baker; “ but there 
are some of them who do that. Miss Trotter 
always walks both ways, if it’s ever so wet.” 
Then there were a few words said about Miss 
Trotter which were not altogether good natured. 

Miss Mackenzie, as soon as she was at home, 
got down her Bible and puzzled herself for an 
hour over that riddle of Mr. Stumfold’s; but with 
all her trouble she could not find why St. Peter 
in prison was like a little boy with his shoes off. 



85 


CHAPTER Y. 

SHOWING HOW MR. RUBB, JUNIOR, PROGRESSED AT 
LITTLEBATH. 

A full week had passed by after Mrs. Stumfold’s 
tea-party before Mr. Rubb called again at the 
Paragon; and in the mean time Miss Mackenzie 
had been informed by her lawyer that there did 
not appear to be any objection to the mortgage, 
if she liked the investment for her money. 

“ You couldn’t do better with your money— 
you couldn’t indeed,” said Mr. Rubb, when Miss 
Mackenzie, meaning to be cautious, started the 
conversation at once upon matters of business. 

Mr. Rubb had not been in any great hurry to 
repeat his call, and Miss Mackenzie had resolved 
that if he did come again she would treat him 
simply as a member of the firm with whom she 
had to transact certain monetary arrangements. 
Beyond that she would not go; and as she so 
resolved, she repented herself of the sherry and 
biscuit. 

The people whom she had met at Mr. Stum- 


86 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


fold’s had been all ladies and gentlemen ; she, at 
least, had supposed them to be so, not haying as 
yet received any special information respecting 
the wife of the retired coachbuilder. Mr. Eubb 
was not a gentleman ; and though she was by no 
means inclined to give herself airs,—though, as 
she assured herself, she believed Mr. Eubb to be 
quite as good as herself,—yet there was, and 
must always be, a difference among people. She 
had no inclination to be proud; but if Providence 
had been pleased to place her in one position, it 
did not behove her to degrade herself by assuming 
a position that was lower. Therefore, on this 
account, and by no means moved by any personal 
contempt towards Mr. Eubb, or the Eubbs of the 
world in general, she was resolved that she 
would not ask him to take any more sherry and 
biscuits. 

Poor Miss Mackenzie! I fear that they who 
read this chronicle of her life will already have 
allowed themselves to think worse of her than 
she deserved. Many of them, I know, will think 
far worse of her than they should think. Of 
what faults, even if we analyze her faults, has she 
been guilty ? Where she has been weak, who 
among us is not, in that, weak also ? Of what 
vanity has she been guilty with which the least 
vain among us might not justly tax himself? 
Having been left alone in the world, she has 



MR. RUBB, JUNIOR. 


87 


looked to make friends for herself; and in seeking 
for new friends she has wished to find the best 
that might come in her way. 

Mr. Bubb was very good-looking; Mr. Maguire 
was afflicted by a terrible squint. Mr. Bubb s 
mode of speaking was pleasant to her; whereas 
she was by no means sure that she liked Mr. 
Maguire’s speech. But Mr. Maguire was by pro¬ 
fession a gentleman. As the discreet young man, 
who is desirous of rising in the world, will eschew 
skittles, and in preference go out to tea at his 
aunt’s house,—much more delectable as skittles 
are to his own heart,—so did Miss Mackenzie 
resolve that it would become her to select 
Messrs. Stumfold and Maguire as her male 
friends, and to treat Mr. Bubb simply as a man 
of business. She was denying herself skittles 
and beer, and putting up with tea and an old 
aunt, because she preferred the proprieties of life 
to its pleasures. Is it right that she should be 
blamed for such self-denial ? 

But now the skittles and beer had come after 
her, as those delights will sometimes pursue the 
prudent youth who would fain avoid them. Mr. 
Bubb was there, in her drawing-room, looking 
extremely well, shaking hands with her very 
comfortably, and soon abandoning his conver¬ 
sation on that matter of business to which she 
had determined to confine herself. She was 


88 MISS MACKENZIE. 

angry with him, thinking him to be very free 
and easy; but, nevertheless, she could not keep 
herself from talking to him. 

“ You can’t do better than five per cent.,” he 
had said to her, “not with first-class security, 
such as this is.” 

All that had been well enough. Five per cent, 
and first-class security were, she knew, matters 
of business; and though Mr. Rubb had winked 
his eye at her as he spoke of them, leaning 
forward in his chair and looking at her not at all 
as a man of business, but quite in a friendly way, 
yet she had felt that she was so far safe. She 
nodded her head also, merely intending him to 
understand thereby that she herself understood 
something about business. But when he suddenly 
changed the subject, and asked her how she 
liked Mr. Stumfold’s set, she drew herself up 
suddenly and placed herself at once upon her 
guard. 

“ I have heard a great deal about Mr. Stum¬ 
fold,” continued Mr. Rubb, not appearing to 
observe the lady’s altered manner, “not only 
here and where I have been for the last few’ 
days, but up in London also. He is quite a 
public character, you know.” 

“ Clergymen in town, who have large con¬ 
gregations, always must be so, I suppose.” 

<f Well, yes; more or less. But Mr. Stumfold 




MR. RUBB, JUNIOR. 


89 


is decidedly more, and not less. People say lie 
is going in for a bishopric.” 

“ I had not heard it,” said Miss Mackenzie, who 
did not quite understand what was meant by 
going in for a bishopric. 

“ Oh, yes, and a very likely man he would 
have been a year or two ago. But they’ say the 
prime minister has changed his tap lately.” 

“ Changed his tap !” said Miss Mackenzie. 

He used to draw his bishops very bitter, 
but now he draws them mild and creamy. I 
dare say Stumfold did his best, but he didn’t 
quite get his hay in while the sun shone.” 

“He seems to me to be very comfortable 
where he is,” said Miss Mackenzie. 

“ I dare say. It must be rather a bore for him 
having to live in the house with old Peters. 
How Peters scraped his money together, nobody 
ever knew yet; and you are aware, Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie, that old as he is, he keeps it all in his own 
hands. That house, and everything that is in it, 
belongs to him; you know that, I dare say.” 

Miss Mackenzie, who could not keep herself 
from being a little interested in these matters, 
said that she had not known it. 

44 Oh dear, yes ! and the carriage too. I’ve no 
doubt Stumfold will be all right when the old 
fellow dies. Such men as Stumfold don’t often 
make mistakes about their money. But as long 


90 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


as old Peters lasts I shouldn’t think it can be 
quite serene. They say that she is always cut¬ 
ting up rough with the old man.” 

“ She seemed to me to behave very well to 
him,” said Miss Mackenzie, remembering the 
carriage of the teacup. 

“ I dare say it is so before company, and of 
course that’s all right; it’s much better that the 
dirty linen should be washed in private. Stum¬ 
fold is a clever man, there’s no doubt about 
that. If you’ve been much to his house, you’ve 
probably met his curate, Mr. Maguire.” 

“ I’ve only been there once, but I did meet 
Mr. Maguire.” 

“ A man that squints fearfully. They say he’s 
looking out for a wife too, only she must not have 
a father living, as Mrs. Stumfold has. It’s as¬ 
tonishing how these parsons pick up all the good 
things that are going in the way of money.” 

Miss Mackenzie, as she heard this, could not 
but remember that she might be regarded as a 
good thing going in the way of money, and be¬ 
came painfully aware that her face betrayed her 
consciousness. 

“ You’ll have to keep a sharp look out,” con¬ 
tinued Mr. Rubb, giving her a kind caution, as 
though he were an old familiar friend. 

u I don’t think there’s any fear of that kind,” 
said Miss Mackenzie, blushing. 


MR. RUBB, JUNIOR. 


91 


“ I don’t know about fear, but I should say 
that there is great probability; of course I am 
only joking about Mr. Maguire. Like the rest of 
them, of course, he wishes to feather his own nest; 
and why shouldn’t he ? But you may be sure of 
this, Miss Mackenzie, a lady with your for¬ 
tune, and, if I may be allowed to say so, 
with your personal attractions, will not want for 
admirers.” 

Miss Mackenzie was very strongly of opinion 
that Mr. Rubb might not be allowed to say so. 
She thought that he was behaving with an un¬ 
warrantable degree of freedom in saying anything 
of the kind; but she did not know how to tell him 
either by words or looks that such was the case. 
And, perhaps, though the impertinence was 
almost unendurable, the idea conveyed was not 
altogether so grievous; it had certainly never 
hitherto occurred to her that she might become a 
second Mrs. Stumfold ; but, after all, why not ? 
What she wanted was simply this, that some¬ 
thing of interest should be added to her life. 
Why should not she also work in the vineyard, 
in the open quasi-clerical vineyard of the Lord’s 
people, and also in the private vineyard of some 
one of the people’s pastors ? Mr. Rubb was very 
impertinent, but it might, perhaps, be worth her 
while to think of what he said. As regarded Mr. 
Maguire, the gentleman whose name had been 


92 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


specially mentioned, it was quite true that he did 
squint awfully. 

“ Mr. Rubb,” said she, “ if you please, I’d 
rather not talk about such things as that.” 

“Nevertheless, what I say is true, Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie ; I hope you don’t take it amiss that I ven¬ 
ture to feel an interest about you.” 

“ Oh! no,” said she; “ not that I suppose you 
do feel any special interest about me.” 

“But indeed I do, and isn’t it natural? If 
you will remember that your only brother is the 
oldest friend that I have in the world, how can it 
be otherwise ? Of course he is much older than 
me, and very much older than you, Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie.” 

“Just twelve years,” said she, very stiffly. 

“ I thought it had been more, but in that case 
you and I are nearly of an age. As that is so, 
how can I fail to feel an interest about you ? 
I have neither mother, nor sister, nor wife of my 
own; a sister, indeed, I have, but she’s married 
at Singapore, and I have not seen her for seven¬ 
teen years.” 

“ Indeed.” 

“No, not for seventeen years; and the heart 
does crave for some female friend, Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie.” 

“You ought to get a wife, Mr. Rubb.” 

“ That’s what your brother always says. 


MR. RUBB, JUNIOR. 


93 


4 Samuel , 5 he said to me just before I left town, 
‘ you’re settled with us now; your father has as 
good as given up to you his share of the business, 
and you ought to get married.’ Now, Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie, I wouldn’t take that sort of thing from 
any man but your brother; it’s very odd that 
you should say exactly the same thing too.” 

“ I hope I have not offended you.” 

“ Offended me! no, indeed, I’m not such a fool 
as that. I’d sooner know that you took an 
interest in me than any woman living. I would, 
indeed. I dare say you don’t think much of it, 
but when I remember that the names of Rubb 
and Mackenzie have been joined together for more 
than twenty years, it seems natural to me that 
you and I should be friends.” 

Miss Mackenzie, in the few moments which 
were allowed to her for reflection before she was 
obliged to answer, again admitted to herself that 
he spoke the truth. If there was any fault in the 
matter the fault was with her brother Tom, who 
bad joined the name of Mackenzie with the name 
of Rubb in the first instance. Where was this 
young man to look for a female friend if not to his 
partner’s family, seeing that he had neither wife 
nor mother of his own, nor indeed a sister, except 
one out at Singapore, who was hardly available 
for any of the purposes of family affection ? And 
yet it was hard upon her. It was through no 


94 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


negligence on her part that poor Mr. Rubb was so 
ill provided. “ Perhaps it might have been so if I 
had continued to live in London,” said Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie ; “ but as I live at Littlebath—” Then she 
paused, not knowing how to finish her sentence. 

“ What difference does that make ? The dis¬ 
tance is nothing if you come to think of it. Your 
hall door is just two hours and a quarter from our 
place of business in the New Road; and it’s one 
pound five and nine if you go by first class and 
cabs, or sixteen and ten if you put up with second 
class and omnibuses. There’s no other way of 
counting. Miles mean nothing now-a-days.” 

“ They don’t mean much, certainly.” 

“ They mean nothing. Why, Miss Mackenzie, 
I should think it no trouble at all to run down 
and consult you about anything that occurred, 
about any matter of business that weighed at all 
heavily, if nothing prevented me except distance. 
Thirty shillings more than does it all, with a 
return ticket, including a bit of lunch at the 
station.” 

6 ‘ Oh ! and as for that-” 

<£ I know what you mean, Miss Mackenzie, and 
I shall never forget how kind you were to offer 
me refreshment when I was here before.” 

“ But, Mr. Rubb, I hope you won’t think of 
doing such a thing. What good could I 
do you ? I know nothing about business; and 




MR. RUBE, JUNIOR. 


95 


really, to tell the truth, I should be most un¬ 
willing to interfere;—that is, you know, to say 
anything about anything of the kind.” 

“ I only meant to point out that the distance is 
nothing. And as to what you were advising me 
about getting married-” 

“I didn’t mean to advise you, Mr. Rubb !” 

“ I thought you said so.” 

“ But, of course, I did not intend to discuss such 
a matter seriously.” 

“It’s a most serious subject to me, Miss 
Mackenzie.” 

“No doubt; but it’s one I can’t know any¬ 
thing about. Men in business generally do find, 
I think, that they get on better when they are 
married.” 

“Yes, they do.” 

“ That’s all I meant to say, Mr. Rubb.” 

After this he sat silent for a few minutes, and 
I am inclined to think that he was weighing in 
his mind the expediency of asking her to become 
Mrs. Rubb, on the spur of the moment. But if 
so, his mind finally gave judgment against the at¬ 
tempt, and in giving such judgment his mind was 
right. He would certainly have so startled her 
by the precipitancy of such a proposition, as to 
have greatly endangered the probability of any 
further intimacy with her. As it was, he changed 
the conversation, and began to ask questions as to 



96 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


the welfare of his partner’s daughter. At this 
period of the day Susanna was at school, and he 
was informed that she would not be home till the 
evening. Then he plucked up courage and begged 
to be allowed to come again,—just to look in at 
eight o’clock, so that he might see Susanna. He 
could not go back to London comfortably, unless 
he could give some tidings of Susanna to the 
family in Gower Street. What was she to do ? 
Of course she was obliged to ask him to drink tea 
with them. “ That would be so pleasant,” he 
said; and Miss Mackenzie owned to herself that 
the gratification expressed in his face as he spoke 
was very becoming. 

When Susanna came home she did not seem to 
know much of Mr. Rubb, junior, or to care much 
about him. Old Mr. Rubb lived, she knew, 
near the place of business in the New Road, 
and sometimes he came to Gower Street, but 
nobody liked him. She didn’t remember that 
she had ever seen Mr. Rubb, junior, at her 
mother’s house but once, when he came to 
dinner. When she was told that Mr. Rubb 
was very anxious to see herself, she chucked 
up her head and said that the man was a goose. 

He came, and in a very few minutes he had 
talked over Susanna. He brought her a little 
present,—a work-box, which he had bought for 
her at Littlebath; and though the work-box itself 



MR. RUBB, JUNIOR. 


97 


did not altogether avail, it paved the way for 
civil words, which were more efficacious. On 
this occasion he talked more to his partner’s 
daughter than to his partner’s sister, and pro¬ 
mised to tell her mamma how well she was looking, 
and that the air of Littlebath had brought roses 
to her cheeks. 

“I think it is a healthy place,” said Miss 
Mackenzie. 

“ I’m quite sure it is,” said Mr. Rubb. “ And 
you like Mrs. Crammer’s school, Susanna ?” 

She would have preferred to have been called 
Miss Mackenzie, but was not disposed to quarrel 
with him on the point. 

“Yes, I like it very well,” she said. “The 
other girls are very nice ; and if one must go to 
school, I suppose it’s as good as any other 
school.” 

“ Susanna thinks that going to school at all is 
rather a nuisance,” said Miss Mackenzie. 

“ You’d think so too, aunt, if you had to prac¬ 
tise every day for an hour in the same room with 
four other pianos. It’s my belief that I shall hate 
the sound of a piano the longest day that I shall 
live.” 

“ I suppose it’s the same with all young ladies,” 
said Mr. Rubb. 

“ It’s the same with them all at Mrs. Cram¬ 
mer’s. There isn’t one there that does not hate it.” 


VOL. i. 


n 


98 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ But you wouldn’t like not to be able to play,” 
said her aunt. 

“ Mamma doesn’t play, and you don’t play; and 
I don’t see what’s the use of it. It won’t make 
anybody like music to hear four pianos all going 
at the same time, and all of them out of tune.” 

“ You must not tell them in Gower Street, Mr. 
Rubb, that Susanna talks like that,” said Miss 
Mackenzie. 

“ Yes, you may, Mr. Rubb. But you must 
tell them at the same time that I am quite happy, 
and that Aunt Margaret is the dearest woman in 
the world.” 

“ I’ll be sure to tell them that,” said Mr. Rubb. 
Then he went away, pressing Miss Mackenzie’s 
hand warmly as he took his leave; and as soon as 
he was gone, his character was of course discussed. 

“ He’s quite a different man, aunt, from what I 
thought; and he’s not at all like old Mr. Rubb. 
Old Mr. Rubb, when he comes to drink tea in 
Gower Street, puts his handkerchief over his knees 
to catch the crumbs.” 

“There’s no great harm in that, Susanna.” 

“ I don’t suppose there’s any harm in it. It’s 
not wicked. It’s not wicked to eat gravy with 
your knife.” 

“ And does old Mr. Rubb do that ?” 

“ Always. We used to laugh at him, because 
he is so clever at it. He never spills any ; and 


MR. RUBE, JUNIOR. 


99 


bis knife seems to be quite as good as a spoon. But 
this Mr. Rubb doesn’t do things of that sort.” 

“ He’s younger, my dear.” 

“But being younger doesn’t make people more 
lady-like of itself.” 

“ I did not know that Mr. Rubb was exactly 
lady-like.” 

“ That’s taking me up unfairly ; isn’t it, aunt ? 
You know what I meant; and only fancy that the 
man should go out and buy me a work-box ! That’s 
more than old Mr. Rubb ever did for any of us, 
since the first day he knew us. And, then, didn’t 
you think that young Mr. Rubb is a handsome 
man, aunt?” 

“ He’s all very well, my dear.” 

“ Oh; I think he is downright handsome ; I do, 
indeed. Miss Dumpus,—that’s Mrs. Crammer’s 
sister,—told us the other day, that I was wrong to 
talk about a man being handsome ; but that must 
be nonsense, aunt?” 

“ I don't see that at all, my dear. If she told 
you so, you ought to believe that it is not non¬ 
sense.” 

“ Come, aunt; you don’t mean to tell me that 
you would believe all that Miss Dumpus says. 
Miss Dumpus says that girls should never laugh 
above their breath when they are more than four¬ 
teen years old. How can you make a change in 
your laughing just when you come to be fourteen ? 

h 2 


100 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


And why shouldn’t you say a man’s handsome, if 
he is handsome ?” 

“ You’d better go to bed, Susanna.” 

“ That won’t make Mr. Eubb ugly. I wish you 
had asked him to come and dine here on Sunday; 
so that we might have seen whether he eats his 
gravy with his knife. I looked very hard to see 
whether he’d catch his crumbs in his handker¬ 
chief.” 

Then Susanna went to her bed, and Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie was left alone to think over the perfections 
and imperfections of Mr. Samuel Eubb, junior. 

From that time up to Christmas she saw no 
more of Mr. Eubb ; but she heard from him 
twice. His letters, however, had reference solely 
to business, and were not of a nature to produce 
either anger or admiration. She had also heard 
more than once from her lawyer; and a question 
had arisen as to which she was called upon to 
trust to her own judgment for a decision. Messrs. 
Eubb and Mackenzie had wanted the money at 
once, whereas the papers for the mortgage were 
not ready. Would Miss Mackenzie allow Messrs. 
Eubb and Mackenzie to have the money under 
these circumstances? To this inquiry from her 
lawyer she made a rejoinder asking for advice. 
Her lawyer told her that he could not recommend 
her, in the ordinary way of business, to make any 
advance of money without positive security 5 but, 



MR. RUBE, JUNIOR. 


101 


as this was a matter between friends and near 
relatives, she might perhaps be willing to do it; 
and he added that, as far as his own opinion went, 
he did not think that there would be any great 
risk. But then it all depended on this,—did she 
want to oblige her friends and near relatives ? In 
answer to this question she told herself that she 
certainly did wish to do so ; and she declared,— 
also to herself,—that she was willing to advance 
the money to her brother, even though there might 
be some risk. The upshot of all this was that 
Messrs. Rubb and Mackenzie got the money 
some time in October, but that the mortgage was 
not completed when Christmas came. It was on 
this matter that Mr. Rubb, junior, had written to 
Miss Mackenzie, and his letter had been of a 
nature to give her a feeling of perfect security in 
the transaction. With her brother she had had 
no further correspondence; but this did not sur¬ 
prise her, as her brother was a man much less 
facile in his modes of expression than his younger 
partner. 

As the autumn had progressed at Littlebath, 
she had become more and more intimate with 
Miss Baker, till she had almost taught herself to 
regard that lady as a dear friend. She had fallen 
into the habit of going to Mrs. Stumfold’s tea- 
parties every fortnight, and was now regarded as 
a regular Stumfoldian by all those who interested 


102 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


themselves in such matters. She had begun a 
system of district visiting and Bible reading with 
Miss Baker, which had at first been very agree¬ 
able to her. But Mrs. Stumfold had on one occa¬ 
sion called upon her and taken her to task,—as 
Miss Mackenzie had thought, rather abruptly,— 
with reference to some lack of energy or indis¬ 
creet omission of which she had been judged to 
be guilty by that highly-gifted lady. Against 
this Miss Mackenzie had rebelled mildly, and 
since that things had not gone quite so pleasantly 
with her. She had still been honoured with Mrs. 
Stumfold’s cards of invitation, and had still gone 
to the tea-parties on Miss Baker’s strenuously- 
urged advice; but Mrs. Stumfold had frowned, 
and Miss Mackenzie had felt the frown; Mrs. 
Stumfold had frowned, and the retired coach- 
builder’s wife had at once snubbed the culprit, 
and Mr. Maguire had openly expressed himself to 
be uneasy. 

“ Dearest Miss Mackenzie,” he had said, with 
charitable zeal, “if there has been anything 
wrong, just beg her pardon, and you will find 
that everything has been forgotten at once; a 
more forgiving woman than Mrs. Stumfold never 
lived.” 

“ But suppose I have done nothing to be for¬ 
given,” urged Miss Mackenzie. 

Mr. Maguire looked at her, and shook his head, 


MR. RUBB, JUNIOR. 


103 


the exact meaning of the look she could not 
understand, as the peculiarity of his eyes created 
confusion ; but when he repeated twice to her 
the same words, “ The heart of man is exceeding 
treacherous,’* she understood that he meant to 
condemn her. 

“So it is, Mr. Maguire, but that is no reason 
why Mrs. Stumfold should scold me.” 

Then he got up and left her, and did not speak 
to her again that evening, but he called on her 
the next day, and was very affectionate in his 
manner. In Mr. Stumfold’s mode of treating 
her she had found no difference. 

With Miss Todd, whom she met constantly in 
the street, and who always nodded to her very 
kindly, she had had one very remarkable inter¬ 
view. 

“I think we had better give it up, my dear,” 
Miss Todd had said to her. This had been in 
Miss Baker’s drawing-room. 

“ Give what up ?” Miss Mackenzie had asked. 

“Any idea of our knowing each other. I’m 
sure it never can come to anything, though for 
my part I should have been so glad. You see 
you can’t serve God and Mammon, and it is 
settled beyond all doubt that I’m Mammon. Isn’t 
it, Mary ? 

Miss Baker, to whom this appeal was made, 
answered it only by a sigh. 


104 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“Yon see,” continued Miss Todd, “that Miss 
Baker is allowed to know me, though I am Mam¬ 
mon, for the sake of auld lang syne. There have 
been so many things between us that it wouldn’t 
do for us to drop each other. We have had the 
same lovers; and you know, Mary, that you’ve 
been very near coming over to Mammon yourself. 
There’s a sort of understanding that Miss Baker 
is not to be required to cut me. But they would 
not allow that sort of liberty to a new comer; 
they wouldn’t, indeed.” 

“ I don’t know that anybody would be likely to 
interfere with me,” said Miss Mackenzie. 

“Yes, they would, my dear. You didn’t quite 
know yourself which way it was to be when you 
first came here, and if it had been my way, I 
should have been most happy to have made 
myself civil. You have chosen now, and I don’t 
doubt but what you have chosen right. I always 
tell Mary Baker that it does very well for her, 
and I dare say it will do very well for you too. 
There’s a great deal in it, and only that some of 
them do tell such lies I think I should have tried 
it myself. But, my dear Miss Mackenzie, you 
can’t do both.” 

After this Miss Mackenzie used to nod to Miss 
Todd in the street, but beyond that there was no 
friendly intercourse between those ladies. 

At the beginning of December there came an 




MR. RUBB, JUNIOR. 


105 


invitation to Miss Mackenzie to spend the Christ¬ 
mas holidays away from Littlebath, and as she 
accepted this invitation, and as we must follow 
her to the house of her friends, we will postpone 
further mention of the matter till the next 
chapter. 


106 


CHAPTER YI. 

MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO THE CEDARS. 

About the middle of December Mrs. Mackenzie, 
of Gower Street, received a letter from her sister- 
in-law at Littlebath, in which it was proposed that 
Susanna should pass the Christmas holidays with 
her father and mother. “I myself,” said the let¬ 
ter, “am going for three weeks to the Cedars. 
Lady Ball has written to me, and as she seems to 
wish it, I shall go. It is always well, I think, to 
drop family dissensions.” The letter said a great 
deal more, for Margaret Mackenzie, not having 
much business on hand, was fond of writing long 
letters ; but the upshot of it was, that she would 
leave Susanna in Gower Street, on her way to the 
Cedars, and call for her on her return home. 

“ What on earth is she going there for ?” said 
Mrs. Tom Mackenzie. 

“Because they have asked her,” replied the 
husband, 

“Of course they have asked her; but that’s no 
reason she should go. The Balls have behaved 




MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO THE CEDARS. 107 

very badly to ns, and I should think much better 
of her if she stayed away.” 

To this Mr. Mackenzie made no answer, but 
simply remarked that he would be rejoiced in 
having Susanna at home on Christmas day. 

“ That’s all very well, my dear,” said Mrs. Tom, 
“ and of course so shall I. But as she has taken 
the charge of the child I don’t think she ought to 
drop her down and pick her up just whenever she 
pleases. Suppose she was to take it into her head 
to stop at the Cedars altogether, what are we to 
do then ?—just have the girl returned upon our 
hands, with all her ideas of life confused and de¬ 
ranged. I hate such ways.” 

“She has promised to provide for Susanna, 
whenever she may not continue to give her 
a home.” 

“ What would such a promise be worth if John 
Ball got hold of her money ? That’s what they’re 
after, as sure as my name is Martha; and what 
she’s after too, very likely. She was there once 
before she went to Littlebath at all. They want 
to get their uncle’s money back, and she wants to 
be a baronet’s wife.” 

The same view of the matter was perhaps taken 
by Mr. Rubb junior, when he was told that Miss 
Mackenzie was to pass through London on her 
way to the Cedars, though he did not express his 
fears openly, as Mrs. Mackenzie had done. 


108 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“Why don’t yon ask your sister to stay in 
Gower Street?” he said to his partner. 

“ She wouldn’t come.” 

“ You might at any rate ask her.” 

“ What good would it do ?” 

“Well; I don’t know that it would do any 
good; but it wouldn’t do any harm. Of course 
it’s natural that she should wish to have friends 
about her; and it will only be natural too that 
she should marry some one.” 

“ She may marry whom she pleases for me.” 

“ She will marry whom she pleases; but I sup¬ 
pose you don’t want to see her money go to the 
Balls.” 

“ I shouldn’t care a straw where her money 
went,” said Thomas Mackenzie, “if I could only 
know that this sum which we have had from her 
was properly arranged. To tell you the truth, 
Rubb, I’m ashamed to look my sister in the face.” 

“ That’s nonsense. Her money is as right as 
the bank ; and if in such matters as that brothers 
and sisters can’t take liberties with each other, 
who the deuce can ?” 

“ In matters of money nobody should ever take 
a liberty with anybody,” said Mr. Mackenzie. 

He knew, however, that a great liberty had 
been taken with his sister’s money, and that his 
firm had no longer the power of providing her 
with the security which had been promised to her. 


MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO THE CEDARS. 109 

Mr. Mackenzie would take no steps, at his part¬ 
ner’s instance, towards arresting his sister in Lon¬ 
don ; but Mr. Rubb was more successful with Mrs. 
Mackenzie, with whom, during the last month or 
two, he had contrived to establish a greater inti¬ 
macy than had ever previously existed between 
the two families. He had been of late a good 
deal in Gower Street, and Mrs. Mackenzie had 
found him to be a much pleasanter and better 
educated man than she had expected. Such was 
the language in which she expressed her praise of 
him, though I am disposed to doubt whether she 
herself was at all qualified to judge of the educa¬ 
tion of any man. He had now talked over the 
affairs of Margaret Mackenzie with her sister-in- 
law, and the result of that talking was that Mrs. 
Mackenzie wrote a letter to Littlebath, pressing 
Miss Mackenzie to stay a few days in Gower 
Street, on her way through London. She did this 
as well as she knew how to do it; but still there 
was that in the letter which plainly told an apt 
reader that there was no reality in the professions 
of affection made in it. Miss Mackenzie became 
well aware of the fact as she read her sister’s 
words. Available hypocrisy is a quality very 
difficult of attainment; and of all hypocrisies, 
epistolatory hypocrisy is perhaps the most diffi¬ 
cult. A man or woman must have studied the 
matter very thoroughly, or be possessed of great 


110 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


natural advantages in that direction, who can so 
fill a letter with false expressions of affection, as 
to make any reader believe them to be true. Mrs. 
Mackenzie was possessed of no such skill. 

“ Believe her to be my affectionate sister-in- 
law ! I won’t believe her to be anything of the 
kind,” Margaret so spoke of the writer to her¬ 
self, when she had finished the letter ; but, never¬ 
theless, she answered it with kind language, saying 
that she could not stay in town as she passed 
through to the Cedars, but that she would pass 
one night in Gower Street when she called to pick 
up Susanna on her return home. 

It is hard to say what pleasure she promised 
herself in going to the Cedars, or why she ac¬ 
cepted that invitation. She had, in truth, liked 
neither the people nor the house, and had felt 
herself to be uncomfortable while she was there. 
I think she felt it to be a duty to force herself to 
go out among people who, though they were per¬ 
sonally disagreeable to her, might be socially 
advantageous. If Sir John Ball had not been a 
baronet, the call to the Cedars would not have 
been so imperative on her. And yet she was not 
a tuft-hunter, nor a toady. She was doing what 
we all do,—endeavouring to choose her friends 
from the best of those who made overtures to her 
of friendship. If other things be equal, it is 
probable that a baronet will be more of a gentle- 



MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO THE CEDARS. Ill 

man and a pleasanter fellow than a manufacturer 
of oilcloth. Who is there that doesn’t feel that ? 
It is true that she had tried the baronet, and had 
not found him very pleasant, but that might 
probably have beenher own fault. She had been 
shy and stiff, and perhaps ill-mannered, or had at 
least accused herself of these faults; and therefore 
she resolved to go again. 

She called with Susanna as she passed through 
London, and just saw her sister-in-law. 

“ I wish you could have stayed,” said Mrs. 
Mackenzie. 

“I will for one night, as I return, on the 10th 
of January,” said Miss Mackenzie. 

Mrs. Mackenzie could not understand what Mr. 
Rubb had meant by saying that that old maid 
was soft and pleasant, nor could she understand 
Susanna’s love for her aunt. “I suppose men 
will put up with anything for the sake of money,” 
she said to herself; “and as for children, the 
truth is, they’ll love anybody who indulges them.” 

“ Aunt is so kind,” Susanna said. “ She’s al¬ 
ways kind. If you wake her up in the middle of 
the night, she’s kind in a moment. And if there’s 
anything good to eat, it will make her eyes quite 
shine if she sees that anybody else likes it. I’ve 
known her sit for half an hour ever so un¬ 
comfortable, because she would not disturb the 
cat.” 


112 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ Then she must be a fool, my dear,” said Mrs. 
Mackenzie. 

“ She isn’t a fool, mamma; I’m quite sure of 
that,” said Susanna. 

Miss Mackenzie went on to the Cedars, and her 
mind almost misgave her in going there, as she was 
driven up through the dull brick lodges, which 
looked as though no paint had touched them for 
the last thirty years, up to the front door of the 
dull brick house, which bore almost as dreary a 
look of neglect as the lodges. It was a large 
brick house of three stories, with the door in the 
middle, and three windows on each side of the 
door, and a railed area with a kitchen below the 
ground. Such houses were built very commonly 
in the neighbourhood of London some hundred 
and fifty years ago, and they may still be pleasant 
enough to the eye if there be ivy over them, and 
if they be clean with new paint, and spruce with 
the outer care of gardeners and the inner care of 
housemaids; but old houses are often like old 
ladies, who require more care in their dressing 
than they who are younger. Very little care 
was given to the Cedars, and the place therefore 
always looked ill-dressed. On the right hand as 
you entered was the dining-room, and the three 
windows to the left were all devoted to the hall. 
Behind the dining-room was Sir John’s study, as 
he called it, and behind or beyond the hall was 


MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO THE CEDARS. 113 

the drawing-room, from which four windows 
looked out into the garden. This might have 
been a pretty room had any care been taken to 
make anything pretty at the Cedars. But the 
furniture was old, and the sofas were hard, and 
the tables were ricketty, and the curtains which 
had once been red had become brown with the 
sun. The dinginess of the house had not struck 
Miss Mackenzie so forcibly when she first visited 
it, as it did now. Then she had come almost 
direct from Arundel Street, and the house in 
Arundel Street had itself been very dingy. Mrs. 
Stumfold’s drawing-rooms were not dingy, nor 
were her own rooms in the Paragon. Her eye 
had become accustomed to better things, and she 
now saw at once how old were the curtains, and 
how lamentably the papers wanted to be renewed 
on the walls. She had, however, been drawn 
from the neighbouring station to the house in the 
private carriage belonging to the establishment, 
and if there was any sense of justice in her, it 
must be presumed that she balanced the good 
things with the bad. 

But her mind misgave her, not because the 
house was outwardly dreary, but in fear of the 
inward dreariness of the people,—or in fear rather 
of their dreariness and pride combined. Old 
Lady Ball, though naturally ill-natured, was not 
ill-mannered, nor did she give herself any special 

VOL. i. i 


114 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


airs; but she knew that she was a baronet’s 
wife, that she kept her carriage, and that it 
was an obligation upon her to make up for 
the poverty of her house by some little haughti¬ 
ness of demeanour. There are women, high in 
rank, but poor in pocket, so gifted with the pecu¬ 
liar grace of aristocracy, that they show by every 
word spoken, by every turn of the head, by every 
step taken, that they are among the high ones of 
the earth, and that money has nothing to do with 
it. Old Lady Ball was not so gifted,, nor had she 
just claim to such gifts. But some idea on the 
subject pervaded her mind, and she made efforts 
to be aristocratic in her poverty. Sir John was 
a discontented, cross old man, who had succeeded 
greatly in early life, having been for nearly twenty 
years in Parliament, but had fallen into adversity 
in his older days. The loss of that very money 
which his niece, Miss Mackenzie, was possessed, 
was, in truth, the one great misfortune which he 
deplored; but that misfortune had had ramifica¬ 
tions and extensions with which the reader need 
not trouble himself; but which, altogether, con¬ 
nected as they were with certain liberal aspira¬ 
tions which he had entertained in early life, and 
certain political struggles made during his parlia¬ 
mentary career, induced him to regard himself as 
a sort of Prometheus. He had done much for the 
world, and the world in return had made him a 


MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO THE CEDARS. 115 


baronet without any money! He was a very tall, 
thin, grey-haired, old man, stooping much, and worn 
with age, but still endowed with some strength of 
will, and great capability of making himself un¬ 
pleasant. His son was a bald-headed, stout man, 
somewhat past forty, who was by no means with¬ 
out cleverness, having done great things as a 
young man at Oxford ; but in life he had failed. 
He was a director of certain companies in London, 
at which he used to attend, receiving his guinea 
for doing so, and he had some small capital,—some 
remnant of his father’s trade wealth, which he 
nursed with extreme care, buying shares here and 
there, and changing his money about as his keen 
outlook into city affairs directed him. I do not 
suppose that he had much talent for the business, 
or he would have grown rich ; but a certain care¬ 
ful zeal carried him on without direct loss, and 
gave him perhaps five per cent, for his capital, 
whereas he would have received no more than 
four and a half had he left it alone and taken his 
dividends without troubling himself. As the 
difference did not certainly amount to a hundred 
a-year, it can hardly be said that he made good 
use of his time. His zeal deserved a better suc¬ 
cess. He was always thinking of his money; 
excusing himself to himself and to others by the 
fact of his nine children. For myself I think that 
his children were no justification to him ;—as they 

i 2 


116 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


would have been held to be none, had he murdered 
and robbed his neighbours for their sake. 

There had been a crowd of girls in the house 
when Miss Mackenzie had paid her former visit to 
the Cedars,—so many that she had carried away 
no remembrance of them as individuals. But at 
that time the eldest son, a youth now just of age, 
was not at home. This hope of the Balls, who 
was endeavouring to do at Oxford as his father 
had done, was now with his family, and came 
forward to meet his cousin as the old carriage 
was driven up to the door. Old Sir John stood 
within, in the hall, mindful of the winter air, and 
Lady Ball, a little mindful of her dignity, remained 
at the drawing-room door. Even though Miss 
Mackenzie had eight hundred a-year, and was 
nearly related to the Incharrow family, a further 
advance than the drawing-room door would be 
inexpedient; for the lady, with all her virtues, 
was still sister to the man who dealt in retail 
oilcloth in the New Boad ! 

Miss Mackenzie thought nothing of this, but 
was well contented to be received by her hostess 
in the drawing-room. 

“It’s a dull house to come to, my dear,” said 
Lady Ball; “ but blood is thicker than water, 
they say, and we thought that perhaps you might 
like to be with your cousins at Christmas.” 

“ I shall like it very much,” said Miss Mackenzie. 


MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO THE CEDARS. 117 

“ I suppose you must find it rather sad, living 
alone at Littlebath, away from all your people ?” 

“ I have my niece with me, you know.” 

“ A niece; have you ? That’s one of the girls 
from Gower Street, I suppose ? It’s very kind 
of you, and I dare say, very proper.” 

“ But Littlebath is a very gay place, I thought,” 
said John Ball, the third and youngest of the 
name. “We always hear of it at Oxford as being 
the most stunning place for parties anywhere 
near.” 

“ I suppose you play cards every night of your 
life,” said the baronet. 

“ No; I don’t play cards,” said Miss Mackenzie. 
“ Many ladies do, but I’m not in that set.” 

“ What set are you in ?” said Sir John. 

“ I don’t think I am in any set. I know Mr. 
Stumfold, the clergyman there, and I go to his 
house sometimes.” 

“ Oh, ah; I see,” said Sir John. “ I beg your 
pardon for mentioning cards. I shouldn’t have 
done it, if I had known that you were one of Mr. 
Stumfold’s people.” 

“I am not one of Mr. Stumfold’s people 
especially,” she said, and then she went up-stairs. 

The other John Ball came back from London 
just in time for dinner;—the middle one of the 
three, whom we will call Mr. Ball. He greeted 
his cousin very kindly, and then said a word or 


118 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


two to his mother about shares. She answered 
him, assuming a look of interest in his tidings. 

“I don’t understand it; upon my word, 1 
don’t,” said he. 44 Some of them will burn their 
fingers before they’ve done. I don’t dare do it; 
I know that.” 

In the evening, when John Ball,—or Jack, as he 
was called in the family,—had left the drawing¬ 
room, and the old man was alone with his son, 
they discussed the position of Margaret Mackenzie. 

“ You’ll find she has taken up with the religious 
people there,” said the father. 

44 It’s just what she would do,” said the son. 

“.They’re the greatest thieves going. When 
once they have got their eyes upon money, they 
never take them off again.” 

44 She’s not been there long enough yet to give 
any one a hold upon her.” 

46 1 don’t know that, John ; but, if you’ll take 
my advice you’ll find out the truth at once. She 
has no children and if you’ve made up your mind 
about it, you’ll do no good by delay.” 

44 She’s a very nice woman, in her way.” 

44 Yes, she’s nice enough. She’s not a beauty; 
eh, John ? and she won’t set the Thames on fire.” 

44 1 don’t wish her to do so; but I think she’d 
look after the girls, and do her duty.” 

44 1 dare say; unless she has taken to run after 
prayer-meetings every hour of her life.” 


MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO THE CEDARS. 119 

“ They don’t often do that after they’re mar¬ 
ried, sir.” 

u Well; I know nothing against her. I never 
thought much of her brothers, and I never cared 
to know them. One’s dead now, and as for the 
other, I don’t suppose he need trouble you much. 
If you’ve made up your mind about it, I think 
you might as well ask her at once.” From all 
which it may be seen that Miss Mackenzie had 
been invited to the Cedars with a direct object 
on the part of Mr. Ball. 

But though the old gentleman thus strongly 
advised instant action, nothing was done during 
Christmas week, nor had any hint been given 
up to the end of the year. John Ball, however, 
had not altogether lost his time, and had played 
the part of middle-aged lover better than might 
have been expected from one the whole tenor of 
whose life was so thoroughly unromantic. He 
did manage to make himself pleasant to Miss 
Mackenzie, and so far ingratiated himself with 
her that he won much of her confidence in regard 
to money matters. 

“ But that’s a very large sum of money ?” he 
said to her one day as they were sitting together 
in his father’s study. He was alluding to the 
amount which she had lent to Messrs. Rubb and 
Mackenzie, and had become aware of the fact 
that as yet Miss Mackenzie held no security for 


120 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


the loan. “ Two thousand five hundred pounds 
is a very large sum of money.” 

“ But I’m to get five per cent., John.” They 
were first cousins, but it was not without some 
ceremonial difficulty that they had arrived at 
each other’s Christian names. 

“My dear Margaret, their word for five per 
cent, is no security. Five per cent, is nothing 
magnificent. A lady situated as you are should 
never part with her money without security;— 
never; but if she does, she should have more 
than five per cent.” 

“ You’ll find it’s all right, I don’t doubt,” 
said Miss Mackenzie, who, however, was begin¬ 
ning to have little inward tremblings of her 
own. 

“I hope so; but I must say, I think Mr. Slow has 
been much to blame. I do, indeed.” Mr. Slow was 
the attorney who had for years acted for Walter 
Mackenzie and his father, and was now acting for 
Miss Mackenzie. “Will you allow me to go to 
him and see about it ?” 

“ It has not been his fault. He wrote and asked 
me whether I would let them have it, before the 
papers were ready, and I said I would.” 

“ But may I ask about it ?” 

Miss Mackenzie paused before she answered: 

“I think you had better not, John. Remember 
that Tom is my own brother, and I should not 


MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO THE CEDAKS. 121 

like to seem to doubt him. Indeed, I do not 
doubt him in the least,—nor yet Mr. Rubb.” 

“ I can assure you that it is a very bad way of 
doing business,” said the anxious lover. 

By degrees she began to like her cousin John 
Ball. I do not at all wish the reader to suppose 
that she had fallen in love with that bald-headed, 
middle-aged gentleman, or that she even thought 
of him in the light of a possible husband; but 
she found herself to be comfortable in his com¬ 
pany, and was able to make a friend of him. It 
is true that he talked to her more of money than 
of anything else; but then it was her money of 
which he talked, and he did it with an interest 
that could not but flatter her. He was solicitous 
about her welfare, gave her bits of advice, did 
one or two commissions for her in town, called 
her Margaret, and was kind and cousinly. The 
Cedars, she thought, was altogether more plea¬ 
sant than she had found the place before. Then 
she told herself that on the occasion of her former 
visit she had not been there long enough to learn 
to like the place or the people. Now she knew 
them, and though she still dreaded her uncle and 
his cross sayings, and though that driving out 
with her aunt in the old carriage was tedious, 
she would have been glad to prolong her stay 
there, had she not bound herself to take Susanna 
back to the school at Littlebath on a certain day. 


122 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


When that day came near,—and it did come very 
near before Mr. Ball spoke out,—they pressed her 
to prolong her stay. This was done by both 
Lady Ball and by her son. 

“Yon might as well remain with us another 
fortnight,” said Lady Ball during one of these 
drives. It was the last drive which Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie had through the Twickenham lanes during 
that visit to the Cedars. 

“ I can’t do it, aunt, because of Susanna.” 

“ I don’t see that at all. You’re not to make 
yourself a slave to Susanna.” 

“ But I’m to make myself a mother to her as 
well as I can.” 

“I must say you have been rather hasty, my 
dea,r. Suppose you were to change your mode of 
life, what would you do ?” 

Then Miss Mackenzie, blushing slightly in the 
obscure corner of the carriage as she spoke, ex¬ 
plained to Lady Ball that clause in her agreement 
with her brother respecting the five hundred 
pounds. 

44 Oh, indeed,” said Lady Ball. 

The information thus given had been mani¬ 
festly distasteful, and the conversation was for 
a while interrupted; but Lady Ball returned to 
her request before they were again at home. 

64 1 really do think you might stop, Margaret. 
Now that we have all got to know each other, it 


MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO THE CEDARS. 123 

will be a great pity that it all should be broken 
up.” 

“ But I hope it won’t be broken up, aunt.” 

“ You know what I mean, my dear. When 
people live so far off, they can’t see each other 
constantly; and now you are here, I think you 
might stay a little longer. I know there is not 
much attraction--” 

“ Oh, aunt, don’t say that! I like being here 
very much.” 

“ Then, why can’t you stay ? Write and tell 
Mrs. Tom that she must keep Susanna at home 
for another week or so. It can’t matter.” 

To this Miss Mackenzie made no immediate 
answer. 

“ It is not only for myself I speak, but John 
likes having you here with his girls ; and Jack is 
so fond of you; and John himself is quite dif¬ 
ferent while you are here. Do stay!” 

Saying which Lady Ball put out her hand 
caressingly on Miss Mackenzie’s arm. 

“ I’m afraid I mustn’t,” said Miss Mackenzie, 
very slowly. “ Much as I should like it, I’m 
afraid I mustn’t do it. I’ve pledged myself to go 
back with Susanna, and I like to be as good as 
my word.” 

Lady Ball drew herself up. 

“ I never went so much out of my way to ask 
any one to stay in my house before,” she said. 



124 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ Dear aunt! don’t be angry with me.” 

“ Oh no ! I’m not angry. Here we are. Will 
you get out first ?” 

Whereupon Lady Ball descended from the 
carriage, and walked into the house with a good 
deal of dignity. 

“ What a wicked old woman she was!” virtuous 
readers will say; “ what a wicked old woman to 
endeavour to catch that poor old maid’s fortune 
for her son!” 

But I deny that she was in any degree a 
wicked old woman on that score. Why should 
not the two cousins marry, and do very well 
together with their joint means ? Lady Ball 
intended to make a baronet’s wife of her. If 
much was to be taken, was not much also to be 
given ? 

“You are going to stay, are you not ?” Jack 
said to her that evening, as he wished her good¬ 
night. She was very fond of Jack, who was a 
nice-looking, smooth-faced young fellow, idolized 
by his sisters over whom he tyrannized, and 
bullied by his grandfather, before whom he 
quaked. 

“ I’m afraid not, Jack; but you shall come 
and see me at Littlebath, if you will.” 

“ I should like it, of all things; but I do wish 
you’d stay: the house is so much nicer when you 
are in it!” 


MISS MACKENZIE GOES TO THE CEDARS. 125 


But of course slie could not stay at the request 
of the young lad, when she had refused the 
request of the lad’s grandmother. 

After this she had one day to remain at the 
Cedars. It was a Thursday, and on the Friday 
she was to go to her brother’s house on her way 
to Littlebath. On the Thursday morning Mr. Ball 
waylaid her on the staircase, as she came down 
to breakfast, and took her with him into the 
drawing-room. There he made his request, stand¬ 
ing with her in the middle of the room. 

“ Margaret,” he said, “must you go away and 
leave us ?” 

“ I’m afraid I must, John,” she said. 

“ I wish we could make you think better of 
it.” 

“ Of course I should like to stay, but-” 

“ Yes, there’s always a but. I should have 
thought that, of all people in the world, you were 
the one most able to do just what you please with 
your time.” 

“We have all got duties to do, John.” 

“ Of course we have; but why shouldn’t it 
be your duty to make your relations happy ? If 
you could only know how much I like your being 
here!” 

Had it not been that she did not dare to do 
that for the son which she had refused to the 
mother, I think that she would have given way. 


126 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


As it was, she did not know how to yield, after 
having persevered so long. 

“ Yon are all so kind/’ she said, giving him 
her hand, “ that it goes to my heart to refuse 
you; but I’m afraid I can’t. I do not wish to 
give my brother’s wife cause to complain of me.” 

“ Then,” said Mr. Ball, speaking very slowly, 
“ I must ask this favour of you, that you will let 
me see you alone for half an hour after dinner 
this evening.” 

“ Certainly,” said Miss'Mackenzie. 

“ Thank you, Margaret. After tea I will go 
into the study, and perhaps you will follow me.” 


I 


127 


CHAPTER VII. 

MISS MACKENZIE LEAVES THE CEDARS. 

There was something so serious in her cousin’s 
request to her, and so much of gravity in his mode 
of making it, that Miss Mackenzie could not but 
think of it throughout the day. On what subject 
did he wish to speak to her in so solemn and 
special a manner ? An idea of the possibility of 
an offer no doubt crossed her mind and flattered 
her, but it did not do more than this; it did not 
remain fixed with her, or induce her to resolve 
what answer she would give if such offer were 
made. She was afraid to allow herself to think 
that such a thing could happen and put the 
matter away from her,—uneasily, indeed, but still 
with so much resolution as to leave her with a 
conviction that she need not give any considera¬ 
tion to such an hypothesis. 

And she was not at a loss to suggest to her¬ 
self another subject. Her cousin had learned 
something about her money which he felt him¬ 
self bound to tell her, but which he would not 


128 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


have told her now had she consented to remain at 
the Cedars. There was something wrong about 
the loan. This made her seriously unhappy, for 
she dreaded the necessity of discussing her 
brother’s conduct with her cousin. 

During the whole of the day Lady Ball was 
very courteous, but rather distant. Lady Ball 
had said to herself that Margaret would have 
stayed had she been in a disposition favourable to 
John Ball’s hopes. If she should decline the 
alliance with which the Balls proposed to honour 
her, then Lady Ball was prepared to be very cool. 
There would be an ingratitude in such a proceed¬ 
ing after the open-armed affection which had been 
shown to her which Lady Ball could not readily 
bring herself to forgive. Sir John, once or twice 
during the day, took up his little sarcasms against 
her supposed religious tendencies at Littlebath. 

“ You’ll be glad to get back to Mr. Stumfold,” 
he said. 

“I shall be glad to see him, of course,” she 
answered, “ as he is a friend.” 

“ Mr. Stumfold has a great many lady friends 
at Littlebath,” he continued. 

“ Yes, a great many,” said Miss Mackenzie, 
understanding well that she was being bullied. 

“What a pity that there can be only one Mrs. 
Stumfold,” snarled the baronet; “it’s often a 
wonder to me how women can be so foolish.” 


MISS MACKENZIE LEAVES THE CEDARS. 129 


“And it’s often a wonder to me,” said Miss 
Mackenzie, “ how gentlemen can be so ill-natured.” 

She had plucked up her spirits of late, and had 
resented Sir John’s ill-humour. 

At the usual hour Mr. Ball came home to 
dinner, and Miss Mackenzie, as soon as she saw 
him, again became fluttered. She perceived 
that he was not at his ease, and that made her 
worse. When he spoke to the girls he seemed 
hardly to mind what he was saying, and he 
greeted his mother without any whispered tidings 
as to the share-market of the day. 

Margaret asked herself if it could be possible 
that anything was very wrong about her own 
money. If the worst came to the worst she could 
but have lost that two thousand five hundred 
pounds, and she would be able to live well enough 
without it. If her brother had asked her for it, 
she would have given it to him. She would teach 
herself to regard it as a gift, and then the sub¬ 
ject would not make her unhappy. 

They all came down to dinner, and they all 
went in to tea, and the tea-things were taken 
away, and then John Ball arose. During tea- 
time neither he nor Miss Mackenzie had spoken 
a word, and when she got up to follow him, there 
was a solemnity about the matter which ought to 
have been ludicrous to any of those remaining, 
who might chance to know what was about to 

VOL. i. 


K 


130 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


happen. It must be supposed that Lady Ball at 
any rate did know, and when she saw her middle- 
aged niece walk slowly out of the room after her 
middle-aged son, in order that a love proposal 
might be made from one to the other with advan¬ 
tage, she must, I should think, have perceived the 
comic nature of the arrangement. She went on, 
however, very gravely with her knitting, and 
did not even make an attempt to catch her hus¬ 
band’s eye. 

“ Margaret,” said John Ball, as soon as he had 
shut the study door;— U but, perhaps, you had 
better sit down.” 

Then she sat down/and he came and seated him¬ 
self opposite to her;—opposite her, but not so close 
as to give him any of the advantages of a lover. 

“ Margaret, I don’t know whether you have 
guessed the subject on which I wish to speak to 
you; but I wish you had.” 

“ Is it about the money ?” she asked. 

“The money! What money? ' The money 
you have lent to your brother ? Oh, no.” 

Then, at that moment, Margaret did, I think, 
guess. 

“ It’s not at all about the money,” he said, and 
then he sighed. 

He had at one time thought of asking his 
mother to make the proposition for him, and now 
he wished that he had done so. 


MISS MACKENZIE LEAVES THE CEDARS. 131 


“ No, Margaret, it’s something else that I want 
to say. I believe you know my condition in life 
pretty accurately.” 

“In what way, John?” 

“I am a poor man; considering my large 
family, a very poor man. I have between eight 
and nine hundred a year, and when my father 
and mother are both gone, I shall have nearly as 
much more; but I have nine children, and as I 
must keep up something of a position, I have a 
hard time of it sometimes, I can tell you.” 

Here he paused, as though he expected her to 
say something; but she had nothing to say, and 
he went on. 

“ Jack is at Oxford, as you know, and I wish 
to give him any chance that a good education 
may afford. It did not do much for me, but he 
may be more lucky. When my father is dead, 
I think I shall sell this place; but I have not 
quite made up my mind about that;—it must 
depend on circumstances. As for the girls, you 
see that I do what I can to educate them.” 

“They seem to me to be brought up very 
nicely; nothing could be better.” 

“ They are good girls, very good girls, and so 
is Jack a very good fellow.” 

“I love Jack dearly,” said Miss Mackenzie, 

who had alreadv come to a half-formed resolution 

«/ 

that Jack Ball should be heir to half her fortune, 


132 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


her niece Susanna being heiress to the other 
half. 

“ Do you ? I’m so glad of that.” And there 
was actually a tear in the father’s eye. 

“ And so I do the girls,” said Margaret. “ It’s 
something so nice to feel that one has people 
really belonging to one that one may love. I 
hope they’ll know Susanna some day, for she’s a 
very nice girl,—a very dear girl.” 

“ I hope they will,” said Mr. Ball; but there 
was not much enthusiasm in the expression of 
this hope. 

Then he got up from his chair, and took a turn 
across the room. “The truth is, Margaret, that 
there’s no use in my beating about the bush. I 
sha’n’t say what I’ve got to say a bit the better 
for delaying it. I want you to be my wife, and 
to be a mother to those children. I like you 
better than any woman I’ve seen since I lost 
Rachel, but I shouldn’t dare to make you such an 
offer if you had not money of your own. I could 
not marry unless my wife had money, and I would 
not marry any woman unless I felt I could love 
her ;■—not if she had ever so much. There ! now 
you know it all. I suppose I have not said it as 
I ought to do, but if you’re the woman I take you 
for that won’t make much difference.” 

For my part I think that he said what he had 
to say very well. I do not know that he could 


MISS MACKENZIE LEAVES THE CEDARS. 133 

have done it much better. I do not know that 
any other form of words would have been more 
persuasive to the woman he was addressing. Had 
he said much of his love, or nothing of his poverty; 
or had he omitted altogether any mention of her 
wealth, her heart would have gone against him 
at once. As it was he had produced in her mind 
such a state of doubt, that she was unable to 
answer him on the moment. 

“ I know,” he went on to say, “ that I haven’t 
much to offer you.” He had now seated himself 
again, and as he spoke he looked upon the ground. 

“ It isn’t that, John,” she answered; “ you have 
much more to give than I have a right to expect.” 

“ No,” he said. “ What I offer you is a life of 
endless trouble and care. I know all about it 
myself. It’s all very well to talk of a competence 
and a big house, and if you were to take me, per¬ 
haps we might keep the old place on and furnish 
it again, and my mother thinks a great deal about 
the title. For my part I think it’s only a nui¬ 
sance when a man has not got a fortune with it, 
and I don’t suppose it will be any pleasure to you 
to be called Lady Ball. You’d have a life of fret 
and worry, and would not have half so much 
money to spend as you have now. I know all 
that, and have thought a deal about it before I 
could bring myself to speak to you. But, Mar¬ 
garet, you would have duties which would, I 


134 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


think, in themselves, have a pleasure for you. 
You would know what to do with your life, and 
would be of inestimable value to many people 
who would love you dearly. As for me, I never 
saw any other woman whom I could bring myself 
to offer as a mother to my children.” All this he 
said looking down at the floor, in a low, dull, 
droning voice, as though every sentence spoken 
were to have been the last. Then he paused, 
looked into her face for a moment, and after that, 
allowed his eyes again to fall on the ground. 

Margaret was, of course, aware that she must 
make him some answer, and she was by no means 
prepared to give him one that would be favour¬ 
able. Indeed, she thought she knew that she 
could not marry him, because she felt that she 
did not love him with affection of the sort which 
would be due to a husband. She told herself that 
she must refuse his offer. But yet she wanted 
time, and above all things, she wished to find 
words which would not be painful to him. His 
dull droning voice, and the honest recital of his 
troubles, and of her troubles if she were to share 
his lot, had touched her more nearly than any 
vows of love would have done. When he told 
her of the heavy duties which might fall to her 
lot as his wife, he almost made her think that it 
might be well for her to marry him, even though 
she did not love him. “ I hardly know how to 


MISS MACKENZIE LEAVES THE CEDARS. 135 


answer yon, you have taken me so much by sur¬ 
prise/’ she said. 

“ You need not give me an answer at once,” he 
replied; “ you can think of it.” As she did not 
immediately say anything, he presumed that she 
assented to this proposition. “Youwon’t wonder 
now,” he said, “that I wished you to stay here, 
or that my mother wished it.” 

“ Does Lady Ball know ?” she asked. 

“ Yes, my mother does know.” 

“ What am I to say to her ?” 

“ Shall I tell you, Margaret, what to say ? Put 
your arms round her neck, and tell her that you 
will be her daughter.” 

“ No, John ; I cannot do that; and perhaps I 
ought to say now that I don’t think it will ever be 
possible. It has all so surprised me, that I haven’t 
known how to speak ; and I am afraid I shall be 
letting you go from me with a false idea. Perhaps 
I ought to say at once that it cannot be.” 

“No, Margaret, no. It is much better that 
you should think of it. No harm can come of 
that.” 

“ There will be harm if you are disappointed.” 

“ I certainly shall be disappointed if you decide 
against me; but not more violently so, if you 
do it next week than if you do it now. But I do 
hope that you will not decide against me.” 

“ And what am I to do ?” 


136 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ Yon can write to me from Littlebath.” 

“ And how soon must I write ?” 

“ As soon as you can make np your mind But, 
Margaret, do not decide against me too quickly. 
I do not know that I shall do myself any good by 
promising you that I will love you tenderly.” So 
saying he put out his hand, and she took it; and 
they stood there looking into each other’s eyes, as 
young lovers might have done ;—as his son might 
have looked into those of her daughter, had she 
been married young and had children of her own. 
In the teeth of all those tedious money dealings in 
the city there was some spice of romance left 
within his bosom yet! 

But how was she to get herself out of the room ? 
It would not do for such a Juliet to sta^ all the 
night looking into the eyes of her ancient Romeo. 
And how was she to behave herself to Lady Ball, 
when she should again find herself in the drawing¬ 
room, conscious as she was that Lady Ball knew 
all about it ? And how was she to conduct her¬ 
self before all those young people whom she had 
left there ? And her proposed father-in-law, 
whom she feared so much, and in truth disliked so 
greatly;—would he know all about it, and thrust 
his ill-natured jokes at her? Her lover should 
have opened the door for her to pass through; but 
instead of doing so, as soon as she had withdrawn 
her hand from his, he placed himself on the rug, 


MISS MACKENZIE LEAVES THE CEDARS; 137 

and leaned back in silence against the chimney- 
piece. 

“ I suppose it wouldn’t do,” she said, “ for me 
to go off to bed without seeing them.” 

“ I think you had better see my mother,” he re¬ 
plied, “else you will feel awkward in the morning.” 

Then she opened the door for herself, and with 
frightened feet crept back to the drawing-room. 
She could hardly bring herself to open the second 
door; but when she had done so, her heart was 
greatly released, as, looking in, she saw that her 
aunt was the only person there. 

“Well, Margaret,” said the old lady, walking 
up to her; “well?” 

“Dear aunt, I don’t know what I am to say to 
you. I don’t know what you want.” 

“ I want you to tell me that you have consented 
to become John’s wife.” 

“ But I have not consented. Think how sud¬ 
den it has been, aunt!” 

“ Yes, yes; I can understand that. You could 
not tell him at once that vou would take him; 
but you won’t mind telling me.” 

“ I would have told him so in an instant, if I 
had made up my mind. Do you think I would 
wish to keep him in suspense on such a matter ? 
If I could have felt that I could love him as his 
wife, I would have told him so instantly,—in¬ 
stantly.” 


138 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ And why not love him as his wife;—why 
not ?” Lady Ball, as she asked the question, was 
almost imperious in her eagerness. 

“ Why not, aunt ? It is not easy to answer 
such a question as that. A woman, I suppose, 
can’t say why she doesn’t love a man, nor yet 
why she does. You see, it’s so sudden. I hadn’t 
thought of him in that way.” 

“ You’ve known him now for nearly a year, 
and you’ve been in the house with him for the 
last three weeks. If you haven’t seen that he has 
been attached to you, you are the only person in 
the house that has been so blind.” 

“ I haven’t seen it at all, aunt.” 

“ Perhaps you are afraid of the responsibility,” 
said Lady Ball. 

“X should fear it, certainly; but that alone 
would not deter me. I would endeavour to do 
my best.” 

“ And you don’t like living in the same house 
with me and Sir John.” 

“Indeed, yes; you are always good to me; 
and as to my uncle, I know he does not mean to 
be unkind. I should not fear that.” 

“ The truth is, I suppose, Margaret, that you 
do not like to part with your money.” 

“ That’s unjust, aunt. I don’t think I care 
more for my money than another woman.” 

“ Then what is it ? He can give you a position 


MISS MACKENZIE LEAVES THE CEDARS. 139 

In the world higher than any you could have had 
a hope to possess. As Lady Ball you will be 
equal in all respects to your own far-away cousin, 
Lady Mackenzie.” 

“ That has nothing to do with it, aunt.” 

“Then what is it?” asked Lady Ball again. 
“I suppose you have no absolute objection to be 
a baronet’s wife.” 

“Suppose, aunt, that I do not love him?” 

“ Pshaw!” said the old woman. 

“ But it isn’t pshaw,” said Miss Mackenzie. 
“ No woman ought to marry a man unless she feels 
that she loves him.” 

“ ’Pshaw!” said Lady Ball again. 

They had both been standing; and as every¬ 
body else was gone, Miss Mackenzie had deter¬ 
mined that she would go off to bed without set¬ 
tling herself in the room. So she prepared herself 
for her departure. 

“ I’ll say good-night now, aunt. I’ve still some 
of my packing to do, and I must be up early.” 

“ Don’t be in a hurry, Margaret. I want to 
speak to you before you leave us, and I shall 
have no other opportunity. Sit down, won’t 

j 

you? 

Then Miss Mackenzie seated herself, most un¬ 
willingly. 

“ I don’t know that there is anyone nearer to 
you than I am, my dear; at any rate, no woman ; 


140 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


and therefore I can say more than any other per¬ 
son. When you talk of not loving John, does 
that mean,—does it mean that you are engaged to 
anyone else ?” 

“ No, it does not.” 

“ And it does not mean that there is anyone 
else whom you are thinking of marrying?” 

“ I am not thinking of marrying anyone.” 

“ Or that you love any other man ?” 

You are cross-questioning me, aunt, more 
than is fair.” 

“ Then there is some one ?” 

“ No, there is nobody. What I say about John 
I don’t say through any feeling for anybody 
else.” 

^ Then, my dear, I think that a little talk 
between you and me may make this matter all 
right. I’m sure you don’t doubt John when he 
says that he loves you very clearly. As for your 
loving him, of course that would come. It is not 
as if you two were two young people, and that 
you wanted to be billing and cooing. Of course 
you ought to be fond of each other, and like each 
other’s company; and I have no doubt that you 
will. You and I would, of course, be thrown 
very much together, and I’m sure I’m very fond 
of you. Indeed, Margaret, I have endeavoured 
to show that I am.” 

“ You’ve been very kind, aunt.” 


MISS MACKENZIE LEAVES THE CEDARS. 141 

“ Therefore, as to your loving him, I really 
don’t think there need be any doubt about that. 
Then, my dear, as to the other part of the 
arrangement,—the money and all that. If you 
were to have any children, your own fortune 
would be settled on them ; at least, that could be 
arranged, if you required it; though, as your 
fortune all came from the Balls, and is the very 
money with which the title was intended to be 
maintained, you probably would not be very 
exacting about that. Stop a moment, my dear, 
and let me finish before you speak. I want 
you particularly to think of what I say, and to 
remember that all your money did come from the 
Balls. It has been very hard upon John; you 
must feel that. Look at him, with his heavy 
family, and how he works for them!” 

“ But my uncle Jonathan died and left his 
money to my brothers before John was married. 
It is twenty-five years ago.” 

“Well I remember it, my dear! John was 
just engaged to Rachel, and the marriage was 
put off because of the great cruelty of Jonathan’s 
will. Of course I am not blaming you.” 

“ I was only ten years old, and uncle Jonathan 
did not leave me a penny. My money came to 
me from my brother; and, as far as I can under¬ 
stand, it is nearly double as much as he got from 
Sir John’s brother.” 



142 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ That may he; hut John would have doubled 
it quite as readily as Walter Mackenzie. What I 
mean to say is this, that as you have the money 
which in the course of nature would have come to 
John, and which would have been his now if a 
great injustice had not been done-” 

t£ It was done by a Ball, and not by a Mac¬ 
kenzie/' 

“ That does not alter the case in the least. 
Your feelings should be just the same, in spite of 
that. Of course the money is yours, and you can 
do what you like with it. You can give it to 
young Mr. Samuel Rubb, if you please.” Stupid 
old woman! “ But I think you must feel that 

you should repair the injury which was done, as 
it is in your power to do so. A fine position is 
offered you. When poor Sir John goes, you 
would become Lady Ball, and be the mistress of 
this house, and have your own carriage.” Ter¬ 
ribly stupid old woman! “ And you would have 

friends and relatives always round you, instead 
of being all alone at such a place as Littlebath 
which must, I should say, be very sad. Of 
course there would be duties to perform to the 
dear children; but I don’t think so ill of you, 
Margaret, as to suppose for an instant that you 
would shrink from that. Stop one moment, my 
dear, and I shall have done. I think I have said 
all now; but I can well understand that when 



MISS MACKENZIE LEAVES THE CEDARS. 143 


John spoke to you, you conlcl not immediately 
give him a favourable answer. It was much 
better to leave it till to-morrow. But you can’t 
have any objection to speaking out to me, and I 
really think you might make me happy by saying 
that it shall be as I wish.” 

It is astonishing the harm that an old woman 
may do when she goes well to work, and when 
she believes she can prevail by means of her own 
peculiar eloquence. Lady Ball had so trusted to 
her own prestige, to her own ladyship, to her own 
carriage and horses, and to the rest of it, and had 
also so misjudged Margaret’s ordinary mild man¬ 
ner, that she had thought to force her niece into 
an immediate acquiescence by her mere words. 
The result, however, was exactly the contrary to 
this. Had Miss Mackenzie been left to herself 
after the interview with Mr. Ball, had she gone 
up-stairs to sleep upon his proposal, without any 
disturbance to those visions of sacrificial duty 
which his plain statement had produced, had she 
been allowed to leave the house and think over it 
all without any other argument to her than those 
which he had used, I think that she would have 
accepted him. But now she was up in arms 
against the whole thing. Her mind, clear as it 
was, was hardly lucid enough to allow of her 
separating the mother and son at this moment. 
She was claimed as a wife into the family because 


144 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


they thought that they had a right to her fortune; 
and the temptations offered, by which they hoped 
to draw her into her duty, were a beggarly title 
and an old coach ! No ! The visions of sacri¬ 
ficial duty were all dispelled. There was doubt 
before, but now there was no doubt. 

“ I think I will go to bed, aunt,” she said very 
calmly, “and I will write to John from Little- 
bath.” 

“ And cannot you put me out of my suspense?” 

“If you wish it, yes. I know that I must 
refuse him. I wish that I had told him so at 
once, as then there would have been an end of 
it.” 

“You don’t mean that you have made up your 
mind ?” 

“Yes, aunt, I do. I should be wrong to marry 
a man that I do not love; and as for the money, 
aunt, I must say that I think you are mistaken.” 

“ How mistaken ?” 

“You think that I am called upon to put right 
some wrong that you think was done you by Sir 
John’s brother. I don’t think that I am under 
any such obligation. Uncle Jonathan left his 
money to his sister’s children instead of to his 
brother’s children. If his money had come to 
John, you would not have admitted that w r e had 
any claim, because we were nephews and nieces.” 

“The whole thing would have been different.” 


MISS MACKENZIE LEAVES THE CEDARS. 145 

“Well, aunt, I am very tired, and if you’ll let 
me, I’ll go to bed.” 

“ Oh, certainly.” 

Then, with anything but warm affection, the 
aunt and niece parted, and Miss Mackenzie went 
to her bed with a firm resolution that she would 
not become Lady Ball. 

It had been arranged for some time back that 
Mr. Ball was to accompany his cousin up to 
London by the train; and though under the pre¬ 
sent circumstances that arrangement was not 
without a certain amount of inconvenience, there 
was no excuse at hand for changing it. Not a 
word was said at breakfast as to the scenes of 
last night. Indeed, no word could very well have 
been said, as all the family was present, including 
Jack and the girls. Lady Ball was very quiet, 
and very dignified; but Miss Mackenzie perceived 
that she was always called “Margaret,” and not 
“my dear,” as had been her aunt’s custom. Very 
little was said by any one, and not a great deal 
was eaten. 

“ Well; when are we to see you back again ?” 
said Sir John, as Margaret arose from her 
chair on being told that the carriage was 
there. 

“Perhaps you and my aunt will come down 
some day and see me at Littlebath ?” said Miss 
Mackenzie. 


VOL. i. 


L 


146 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“No; I don’t think that’s very likely,” said 
Sir John. 

Then she kissed all the children, till she came 
to Jack. 

“ I’m going to kiss you, too,” she said to him. 

“No objection in life,” said Jack; “I shan’t 
complain about that.” 

“ You’ll come and see me at Littlebath ?” said 
she. 

“That I will, if you’ll ask me.” 

Then she put up her face to her aunt, and 
Lady Ball permitted her cheek to be touched. 
Lady Ball was still not without hope, but she 
thought that the surest way was to assume a 
high dignity of demeanour, and to exhibit a 
certain amount of displeasure. She still believed 
that Margaret might be frightened into the match. 

It was but a mile and a half to the station, and 
for that distance Mr. Ball and Margaret sat toge¬ 
ther in the carriage. He said nothing to her as 
to his proposal till the station was in view, and 
then only a word. 

“ Think well of it, Margaret, if you can.” 

“I fear I cannot think well of it,” she answered. 
But she spoke so low, that I doubt whether he 
completely heard her words. The train up to 
London was nearly full, and there he had no 
opportunity' of speaking to her. But he desired 
no such opportunity. He had said all that he 


MISS MACKENZIE LEAVES THE CEDARS. 147 

had to say, and was almost well pleased to know 
that a final answer was to be given to him, not 
personally, but by letter. His mother had spoken 
to him that morning, and had made him under¬ 
stand that she was not well pleased with Margaret; 
but she had said nothing to quench her sons 
hopes. 

“ Of course she will accept you,” Lady Ball 
had said, “ but women like her never like to do 
anything without making a fuss about it.” 

“ To me, yesterday, I thought she behaved 
admirably,” said her son. 

At the station in London he put her into the 
cab that was to take her to Gower Street, and as 
he shook hands with her through the window, he 
once more said the same words: 

“ Think well of it, Margaret, if you can,” 


148 


CHAPTER VIIL 

mrs. tom Mackenzie’s dinner party. 

Mrs. Tom was ever so gracious on the arrival of 
her sister-in-law, but even in her graciousness 
there was something which seemed to Margaret to 
tell of her dislike. Near relatives, when they 
are on good terms with each other, are not gracious. 
Now, Mrs. Tom, though she was ever so gracious, 
was by no means cordial. Susanna, however, 
was delighted to see her aunt, and Margaret, 
when she felt the girl’s arms round her neck, de¬ 
clared to herself that that should suffice for her;— 
that should be her love, and it should be enough. 
If indeed, in after years, she could make Jack 
love her too, that would be better still. Then 
her mind went to work upon a little marriage 
scheme that would in due time make a baronet’s 
wife of Susanna. It would not suit her to become 
Lady Ball, but it might suit Susanna. 

“We are going to have a little dinner party, 
to-day,” said Mrs. Tom. 

“ A dinner party,” said Margaret, “ I didn’t 
look for that, Sarah.” 


mrs. tom Mackenzie’s dinner party. 149 

“Perhaps I ought not to call it a party, for 
there are only one or two coming. There’s Dr. 
Slumpy and his wife ; I don’t know whether you 
ever met Dr. Slumpy. He has attended us for 
ever so long; and there is Miss Colza, a great 
friend of mine. Mademoiselle Colza I ought to 
call her, because her father was a Portuguese. 
Only, as she never saw him, we call her Miss. 
And there’s Mr. Bubb,—Samuel Rubb, junior. I 
think you met him at Littlebath.” 

“ Yes ; I know Mr. Rubb.” 

“ That’s all; and I might as well say how it 
will be now. Mr. Rubb will take you down to 
dinner. Tom will take Mrs. Slumpy, and the 
doctor will take me. Young Tom” — Young 
Tom was her son, who was now beginning his 
career at Rubb and Mackenzie’s—“ Young Tom 
will take Miss Colza, and Mary Jane and Susanna 
will come down by themselves. We might have 
managed twelve, and Tom did think of asking 
Mr. Handcock and one of the other clerks, but he 
did not know whether you would have liked it.” 

“I should not have minded it. That is, I 
should have been very glad to meet Mr. Hand- 
cock, but I don’t care about it.” 

“ That’s just what w r e thought, and therefore we 
did not ask him. You’ll remember, w^on’t you, 
that Mr. Rubb takes you down ?” 

After that Miss Mackenzie took her nieces to 


150 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


the Zoological Gardens, leaving Maiy Jane at 
home to assist her mother in the cares for the 
coming festival, and thus the day wore itself 
away till it was time for them to prepare them¬ 
selves for the party. 

Miss Colza was the first to come. She was a 
young lady somewhat older than Miss Mackenzie; 
but the circumstances of her life had induced her 
to retain many of the propensities of her girlhood. 
She was as young looking as curls and pink bows 
could make her, and was by no means a useless 
guest at a small dinner party, as she could 
chatter like a magpie. Her claims to be called 
“ Mademoiselle ” were not very strong, as she had 
lived in Finsbury Square all her life. Her father 
was connected in trade with the Rubb and 
Mackenzie firm, and dealt, I think, in oil. She 
was introduced with great ceremony, and having 
heard that Miss Mackenzie lived at Littlebath, 
went off at score about the pleasures of that 
delicious place. 

“ I do so hate London, Miss Mackenzie.” 

“ I lived here all my life, and I can’t say I 
liked it.” 

“ It is such a crowd, isn’t it ? and yet so dull. 
Give me Brighton! We were down for a week 
in November, and it was nice.” 

“ I never saw Brighton.” 

“Oh, do go to Brighton. Everybody goes 


mrs. tom Mackenzie’s dinner party. 151 

there now; you really do see the world at 
Brighton. Now, in London one sees nothing.” 

Then came in Mr. Bubb, and Miss Colza at 
once turned her attention to him. But Mr. Bubb 
shook Miss Colza off almost unceremoniously, and 
seated himself by Miss Mackenzie. Immediately 
afterwards arrived the doctor and his wife. The 
doctor was a very silent man, and as Tom Mac¬ 
kenzie himself was not given to much talking, it 
was well that Miss Colza should be there. Mrs. 
Slumpy could take her share in conversation with 
an effort, when duly assisted; but she could not 
lead the van, and required more sprightly aid 
than her host was qualified to give her. Then 
there was a whisper between Tom and Mrs. Tom, 
and the bell was rung, and the dinner was ordered. 
Seven had been the time named, and a quarter 
past seven saw the guests assembled in the draw¬ 
ing-room. A very dignified person in white 
cotton gloves had announced the names, and the 
same dignified person had taken the order for 
dinner. The dignified person had then retreated 
down-stairs slowly, and what was taking place 
for the next half-hour poor Mrs. Mackenzie, in 
the agony of her mind, could not surmise. She 
longed to go and see, but did not dare. Even 
for Dr. Slumpy, or even for his wife, had they 
been alone with her, she would not have cared 
much. Miss Colza she could have treated with 


152 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


perfect indifference,—could even have taken her 
down into the kitchen with her. Rubb, her own 
junior partner, was nothing, and Miss Mackenzie 
was simply her sister-in-law. But together they 
made a party. Moreover, she had on her best 
and stiffest silk gown, and so armed she could not 
have been effective in the kitchen. And so came 
a silence for some minutes, in spite of the efforts 
of Miss Colza. At last the hostess plucked up 
her courage to make a little effort. 

“Tom,” she said, “I really think you had 
better ring again.” 

“ It will all be right, soon,” said Tom, consider¬ 
ing that upon the whole it would be better not to 
disturb the gentleman down-stairs just yet. 

e< Upon my word, I never felt it so cold in my 
life as I did to-day,” he said, turning upon Dr. 
Slumpy, for the third time with that remark. 

“ Yery cold,” said Dr. Slumpy, pulling out his 
watch and looking at it. 

“I really think you’d better ring the bell,” 
said Mrs. Tom. 

Tom, however, did not stir, and after another 
period of five minutes dinner was announced. It 
may be as well, perhaps, to explain that the soup 
had been on the table for the last quarter of an 
hour or more, but that after placing the tureen on 
the table, the dignified gentleman down stairs had 
come to words with the cook, and had refused to go 


mrs. tom Mackenzie’s dinner party. 153 

on farther with the business of the night until 
that ill-used woman acceded to certain terms of 
his own in reference to the manner in which the 
foods should be served. He had seen the world, 
and had lofty ideas, and had been taught to be a 
tyrant by the weakness of those among whom his 
life was spent. The cook had alleged that the 
dinner, as regarded the eating of it, would cer¬ 
tainly be spoilt. As to that, he had expressed 
a mighty indifference. If he was to have any 
hand in them, things were to be done according to 
certain rules, which, as he said, prevailed in the 
world of fashion. The cook, who had a temper 
and who regarded her mistress, stood out long 
and boldly, but when the housemaid, who was to 
assist Mr. Grandairs up-stairs, absolutely deserted 
her, and sitting down began to cry, saying: 
“Sairey, why don’t you do as he tells you? 
what signifies its being greasy if it hain’t never 
to go hup ?” Then Sarah’s courage gave way, and 
Mr. Grandairs, with all the conqueror in his 
bosom, announced that dinner was served. 

It was a great relief. Even Miss Colza’s 
tongue had become silent, and Mr. Rubb had 
found himself unable to carry on any further 
small talk with Miss Mackenzie. The minds of 
men and women become so tuned to certain posi¬ 
tions, that they go astray and won’t act when 
those positions are confused. Almost every man 


154 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


can talk for fifteen minutes, standing in a drawing¬ 
room, before dinner; but where is the man who 
can do it for an hour ? It is not his appetite that 
impedes him, for he could well have borne to 
dine at eight instead of seven; nor is it that 
matter lacks him, for at other times his eloquence 
does not cease to flow so soon. But at that 
special point of the day he is supposed to talk for 
fifteen minutes, and if any prolonged call is then 
made upon him, his talking apparatus falls out of 
order and will not work. You can sit still on a 
Sunday morning, in the cold, on a very narrow 
bench, with no comfort appertaining, and listen 
for half an hour to a rapid outflow of words, 
which, for any purpose of instruction or edifica¬ 
tion, are absolutely useless to you. The reading 
to you of the “ Quas genus,” or “ As in prsesenti,” 
could not be more uninteresting. Try to un¬ 
dergo the same thing in your own house on a 
Wednesday afternoon, and see where you will be. 
To those ladies and gentlemen who had been 
assembled in Mrs. Mackenzie’s drawing-room this 
prolonged waiting had been as though the length 
of the sermon had been doubled, or as if it had 
fallen on them at some unexpected and autho¬ 
rized time. 

But now they descended, each gentleman 
taking his allotted lady, and Miss Colza’s voice 
was again heard. At the bottom of the stairs, 


mrs. tom Mackenzie’s dinner party. 155 

just beyond the dining-room door, stood the 
tyrant, looking very great, repressing with his 
left hand the housemaid, who was behind him. 
She having observed Sarah at the top of the 
kitchen stairs telegraphing for assistance, had 
endeavoured to make her way to her friend while 
Tom Mackenzie and Mrs. Slumpy were still upon 
the stairs; but the tyrant, though he had seen 
the cook’s distress, had refused, and sternly kept 
the girl a prisoner behind him. Ruat dinner, 
fiat genteel deportment. 

The order of the construction of the dinner was 
no doubt a la Russe; and why should it not have 
been so, as Tom Mackenzie either had or was 
supposed to have as much as eight hundred a 
year ? But I think it must be confessed that the 
architecture was in some degree composite. It 
was a la Russe, because in the centre there was 
a green arrangement of little boughs with arti¬ 
ficial flowers fixed on them, and because there 
were figs and raisins, and little dishes with dabs 
of preserve on them, all around the green ar¬ 
rangement ; but the soups and fish were on the 
table, as was also the wine, though it was under¬ 
stood that no one was to be allowed to help him¬ 
self or his neighbour to the contents of the bottles. 
When Dr. Slumpy once made an attempt at the 
sherry, Grandairs was down upon him instantly, 
although laden at the time with both potatoes and 


156 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


sea-kale; after that he went round and frowned 
at Dr. Slumpy, and Dr. Slumpy understood the 
frown. 

That the soup should be cold, everybody no 
doubt expected. It was clear soup, made chiefly 
of Marsala, and purchased from the pastrycook’s 
in Store Street. Grandairs, no doubt, knew all 
about it, as he was connected with the same 
establishment. The fish,—Mrs. Mackenzie had 
feared greatly about her fish, having necessarily 
trusted its fate solely to her own cook,—was very 
ragged in its appearance, and could not be very 
warm; the melted butter too was thick and 
clotted, and was brought round with the other 
condiments too late to be of much service; but 
still the fish was eatable, and Mrs. Mackenzie’s 
heart, which had sunk very low as the uncon¬ 
sumed soup was carried away, rose again in her 
bosom. Poor woman ! she had done her best, 
and it was hard that she should suffer. One 
little effort she made at the moment to induce 
Elizabeth to carry round the sauce, but Grandairs 
had at once crushed it; he had rushed at the girl 
and taken the butter-boat from her hand. Mrs. 
Mackenzie had seen it all; but what could she do, 
poor soul? 

The thing was badly managed in every way. 
The whole hope of conversation round the table 
depended on Miss Colza, and she was deeply 


mrs. tom Mackenzie’s dinner party. 157 


offended by having been tom away from Mr. 
Bubb. How could she talk seated between the 
two Tom Mackenzies ? From Dr. Slumpy Mrs. 
Mackenzie could not get a word. Indeed, with 
so great a weight on her mind, how could she be 
expected to make any great effort in that direc¬ 
tion ? But Mr. Mackenzie might have done some¬ 
thing, and she resolved that she would tell him 
so before he slept that night. She had slaved all 
day in order that he might appear respectable 
before his own relatives, at the bottom of his 
own table,—and now he would do nothing! “ I 

believe he is thinking of his own dinner!” she 
said to herself. If her accusation was just his 
thoughts must have been very sad. 

In a quiet way Mr. Bubb did talk to his neigh¬ 
bour. Up-stairs he had spoken a word or two 
about Littlebath, saying how glad he was that he 
had been there. He should always remember 
Littlebath as one of the pleasantest places he had 
ever seen. He wished that he lived at Little¬ 
bath ; but then what was the good of his wishing 
anything, knowing as he did that he was bound 
for life to Bubb and Mackenzie’s counting- 
house. 

“And you will earn your livelihood there,” 
Miss Mackenzie had replied. 

“ Yes ; and something more than that, I hope. 
I don’t mind telling you,—a friend like you,— 


158 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


that I will either spoil a horn, or make a spoon. 
I won’t go on in the old groove, which hardly 
gives any of ns salt to onr porridge. If I under¬ 
stand anything of English commerce, I think I 
can see my way to better things than that.” 
Then the period of painful waiting had com¬ 
menced, and he was unable to say anything 
more. 

That had been up-stairs. Now below, amidst 
all the troubles of Mrs. Mackenzie and the tyranny 
of Grandairs, he began again: 

“ Do you like London dinner parties ?” 

<£ I never was at one before.” 

“ Never at one before! I thought you had 
lived in London all your life.” 

“ So I have; but we never used to dine out. 
My brother was an invalid.” 

“And do they do the thing well at Little- 
bath?” 

“ I never dined out there. You think it very 
odd, I dare say, but I never was at a dinner 
party in my life,—not before this.” 

“ Don’t the Balls see much company ?” 

“ No, very little ; none of that kind.” 

“Dear me. It comes so often to us here that 
we get tired of it. I do, at least. I’m not always 
up to this kind of thing. Champagne,—if you 
please. Miss Mackenzie, you will take some 
champagne ?” 


mrs. tom Mackenzie’s dinner party. 159 

ISTow had come the crisis of the evening, the 
moment that was all important, and Grandairs 
was making his round in all the pride of his voca¬ 
tion. But Mrs. Mackenzie was by no means so 
proud at the present conjuncture of affairs. There 
was but one bottle of champagne. “So little 
wine is drank now, that, what is the good of 
getting more ? Of course the children won’t have 
it.” So she had spoken to her husband. And 
who shall blame her or say where economy ends, 
or where meanness begins ? She had wanted no 
champagne herself, but had wished to treat her 
friends well. She had seized a moment after 
Grandairs had come, and Mrs. Slumpy was not 
yet there, to give instructions to the great func¬ 
tionary. 

“Don’t mind me with the champagne, nor yet 
Mr. Tom, nor the young ladies.” 

Thus she had reduced the number to six, and 
had calculated that the bottle would certainly be 
good for that number, with probably a second 
glass for the doctor and Mr. Bubb. But Grand¬ 
airs had not condescended to be put out of his 
way by such orders as these. The bottle had 
first come to Miss Colza, and then Tom’s glass 
had been filled, and Susanna’s,—through no fault 
of theirs, innocent bairns, “ but on purpose !” as 
Mrs. Mackenzie afterwards declared to her hus¬ 
band when speaking of the man’s iniquity. And 


160 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


I tliink it had been done on purpose. The same 
thing occurred with Mary Jane,—till Mrs. Mac¬ 
kenzie, looking on, could have cried. The girl’s 
glass was tilled full, and she did give a little 
shriek at last. But what availed shrieking? 
When the bottle came round behind Mrs. Mac¬ 
kenzie back to Dr. Slumpy, it was dry, and the 
wicked wretch held the useless nozzle triumph¬ 
antly over the doctor’s glass. 

“ Give me some sherry, then,” said the doctor. 

The little dishes which had been brought round 
after the fish, three in number,—and they in the 
proper order of things should have been spoken 
of before the champagne,—had been in their way 
successful. They had been so fabricated, that 
all they who attempted to eat of their contents 
became at once aware that the} r had got hold of 
something very nasty, something that could hardly 
have been intended by Christian cooks as food for 
men; but, nevertheless, there had been something 
of glory attending them. Little dishes require 
no concomitant vegetables, and therefore there 
had been no scrambling. Granclairs brought 
one round after the other with much majesty, 
while Elizabeth stood behind looking on in 
wonder. After the second little dish Grandairs 
changed the plates, so that it was possible to 
partake of two, a feat which was performed by 
Tom Mackenzie the younger. At this period 


mrs. tom Mackenzie’s dinner party. 161 

Mrs. Mackenzie, striving hard for equanimity, 
attempted a word or two with the doctor. But 
immediately upon that came the affair of the 
champagne, and she was crushed, never to rise 
again. 

Mr. Rubb at this time had settled down into 
so pleasant a little series of whispers with his 
neighbour, that Miss Colza resolved once more 
to exert herself, not with the praiseworthy desire 
of assisting her friend Mrs. Mackenzie, but with 
malice prepense in reference to Miss Mackenzie. 

Miss Mackenzie seemed to be having 4 ‘ a good 
time ” with her neighbour Samuel Rubb, junior, 
and Miss Colza, who was a woman of courage, 
could not see that and not make an effort. It 
cannot be told here what passages there had been 
between Mr. Rubb and Miss Colza. That there 
had absolutely been passages I beg the reader to 
understand. “Mr. Rubb,” she said, stretching 
across the table, “ do you remember when, in this 
very room, we met Mr. and Mrs. Talbot Green ?” 

“ Oh yes, very well,” said Mr. Rubb, and then 
turning to Miss Mackenzie, he went on with his 
little whispers. 

“Mr. Rubb,” continued Miss Colza, “does 
anybody put you in mind of Mrs. Talbot Green?” 

“Nobody in particular. She was a thin, tall, 
plain woman, with red hair, wasn’t she ? Who 
ought she to put me in mind of?” 

VOL. i. 


m 


162 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ Oh dear! how can you forget so ? That 
wasn’t her looks at all. We all agreed that she 
was quite interesting-looking. Her hair was just 
fair, and that was all. But I shan’t say anything 
more about it.” 

“ But who do you say is like her ?” 

“Miss Colza means Aunt Margaret,” said 
Mary Jane. 

“ Of course I do,” said Miss Colza. “ But 
Mrs. Talbot Green was not at all the person that 
Mr. Rubb has described ; we all thought her very 
nice-looking. Mr. Rubb, do you remember how 
you would go on talking to her, till Mr. Talbot 
Green did not like it at all ?” 

“ No, I don’t.” 

“ Oh, but you did ; and you always do.” 

Then Miss Colza ceased, having finished that 
effort. But she made others from time to time as 
long as they remained in the dining-room, and 
by no means gave up the battle. There are 
women who can fight such battles when they 
have not an inch of ground on which to stand. 

After the little dishes there came, of course, a 
saddle of mutton, and equally, of course, a pair of 
boiled fowls. There was also a tongue ; but the 
a la Russe construction of the dinner was main¬ 
tained by keeping the tongue on the sideboard, 
while the mutton and chickens were put down to 
be carved in the ordinary way. The ladies all par- 


mrs. tom Mackenzie’s dinner party. 163 


took of the chicken, and the gentlemen all of the 
mutton. The arrangement was very tedious, as 
Dr. Slumpy was not as clever with the wings of the 
fowls as he perhaps would have been had he not 
been defrauded in the matter of the champagne ; 
and then every separate plate was carried away 
to the sideboard with reference to the tongue. 
Currant jelly had been duly provided, and if 
Elizabeth had been allowed to dispense it, might 
have been useful. But G-randairs was too much 
for the jelly, as he had been for the fish-sauce, 
and Dr. Slumpy in vain looked up, and sighed, 
and waited. A man in such a condition measures 
the amount of cold which his meat may possibly 
endure against the future coming of the potatoes, 
till he falls utterly to the ground between two 
stools. So was it now with Dr. Slumpy. He 
gave one last sigh as he saw the gravy congeal 
upon his plate, but, nevertheless, he had finished 
the unpalatable food before Grandairs had arrived 
to his assistance. 

Why tell of the ruin, of the maccaroni, of the 
fine-coloured pyramids of shaking sweet things 
which nobody would eat, and by the non-consump¬ 
tion of which nothing was gained, as they all 
went back to the pastrycook’s,—or of the ice-pud¬ 
dings flavoured with onions ? It was all misery, 
wretchedness, and degradation. Grandairs was 
king, and Mrs. Mackenzie was the lowest of his 

m 2 


164 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


slaves. And why ? Why had she done this 
thing? Why had she, who, to give her due, 
generally held her own in her own house pretty 
firmly,—why had she lowered her neck and made 
a wretched thing of herself ? She knew that it 
would be so when she first suggested to herself 
the attempt. She did it for fashion’s sake, you 
will say. But there was no one there who did 
not as accurately know as she did herself, how 
absolutely beyond fashion’s way lay her way. 
She was making no fight to enter some special 
portal of the world, as a lady may do who takes 
a house suddenly in May Fair, having come from 
God knows where. Her place in the world was 
fixed, and she made no contest as to the fixing. 
She hoped for no great change in the direction of 
society. Why on earth did she perplex her 
mind and bruise her spirit, by giving a dinner a 
la anything ? Why did she not have the roast 
mutton alone, so that all her guests might have 
eaten and have been merry ? 

She could not have answered this question her¬ 
self, and I doubt whether I can do so for her. But 
this I feel, that unless the question can get itself 
answered, ordinary Englishmen must cease to go 
and eat dinners at each other’s houses. The ordi¬ 
nary Englishman, of whom we are now speaking, 
has eight hundred a year; he lives in London; 
and he has a wife and three or four children. Had 


mrs. tom Mackenzie’s dinner party. 165 

he not better give it up and go back to his little 
bit of fish and his leg of mutton ? Let him do 
that boldly, and he will find that we, his friends, 
will come to him fast enough; yes, and will make 
a gala day of it. By heavens, we have no gala 
time of it when we go to dine with Mrs. Mac¬ 
kenzie a la Russe! Lady Mackenzie, whose hus¬ 
band has ever so many thousands a year, no doubt 
does it very well. Money, which cannot do every¬ 
thing,—which, if well weighed, cannot in its ex¬ 
cess perhaps do much,—can do some things. It 
will buy diamonds and give grand banquets. But 
paste diamonds, and banquets which are only 
would-be grand, are among the poorest imita¬ 
tions to which the world has descended. 

“So you really go to Littlebath to-morrow,” 
Mr. Rubb said to Miss Mackenzie, when they 
were again together in the drawing-room. 

“ Yes, to-morrow morning. Susanna must be 
at school the next day.” 

“ Happy Susanna! I wish I were going to 
school at Littlebath. Then I sha’n’t see you again 
before you go.” 

“ No; I suppose not.” 

“ I am so sorry, because I particularly wished 
to speak to you,—most particularly. I suppose I 
could not see you in the morning ? But, no ; it 
would not do. I could not get you alone without 
making such a fuss of the thing.” 


166 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ Couldn’t you say it now ?” asked Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie. 

“I will, if you’ll let me; only I suppose it 
isn’t quite the thing to talk about business at an 
evening party; and your sister-in-law, if she 
knew it, would never forgive me.” 

“ Then she shan’t know it, Mr. Bubb.” 

“ Since you are so good, I think I will make 
bold. Carpe diem, as we used to say at school, 
which means that one day is as good as another, 
and if so, why not any time in the day ? Look 
here, Miss Mackenzie;—about that money, you 
know.” 

And Mr. Rubb got nearer to her on the sofa as 
he whispered the word money into her ear. It 
immediately struck her that her own brother Tom 
had said not a word to her about the money, 
although they had been together for the best part 
of an hour before they had gone up to dress. 

“ I suppose Mr. Slow will settle all that/’ said 
Miss Mackenzie. 

“ Of course that is to say, he has nothing fur¬ 
ther to settle just as yet. He has our bond for 
the money, and you may be sure it’s all right. The 
property is purchased, and is ours;—our own at 
this moment, thanks to you. But landed property 
is so hard to convey. Perhaps you don’t under¬ 
stand much about that; and I’m sure I don’t. 
The fact is, the title deeds at present are in other 


mrs. tom Mackenzie’s dinner party. 167 

hands, a mere matter of form; and I want yon to 
nnderstand that the mortgage is not completed 
for that reason.” 

“ I suppose it will be done soon ?” 

“It may, or it may not; but that won’t affect 
your interest, you know.” 

“ I was thinking of the security.” 

“ "Well, the security is not as perfect as it 
should be. I tell you that honestly; and if we 
were dealing with strangers we should expect to 
be called on to refund. And we should refund 
instantly ;—but at a great sacrifice, a ruinous sa¬ 
crifice. Now, I want you to put so much trust 
in us,—in me, if I may be allowed to ask 
you to do so,—as to. believe that your money 
is substantially safe. I cannot explain it all 
now; but the benefit which you have done us is 
immense.” 

“ I suppose it will all come right, Mr. Rubb.” 

“ It will all come right, Miss Mackenzie.” 

Then there was extracted from her something 
which he was able to take as a promise that she 
would not stir in the matter for a while, but 
would take her interest without asking for any 
security as to her principal. 

The conversation was interrupted by Miss 
Colza, who came and stood opposite to them. 

“Well, I’m sure,” she said; “you two are 
very confidential.” 


168 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ And why shouldn’t we be confidential, Miss 
Colza ?” asked Mr. Rubb. 

“ Oh, dear! no reason in life, if you both like 
it.” 

Miss Mackenzie was not sure that she did like 
it. But again she was not sure that she did not, 
when Mr. Rubb pressed her hand at parting, and 
told her that her great kindness had been of the 
most material service to the firm. “ He felt it,” 
he said, 66 if nobody else did.” That also might 
be a sacrificial duty and therefore gratifying. 

The next morning she and Susanna left Gower 
Street at eight, spent an interesting period of 
nearly an hour at the railway station, and reached 
Littlebath in safety at one. 


169 


CHAPTER IX. 

miss Mackenzie’s philosophy. 

Miss Mackenzie remained quiet in her room for 
two days after her return before she went out to 
see anybody. These last Christmas weeks had 
certainly been the most eventful period of her 
life, and there was very much of which it was 
necessary that she should think. She had, she 
thought, made up her mind to refuse her cousin’s 
offer; but the deed was not yet done. She had 
to think of the mode in which she must do it; 
and she could not but remember, also, that she 
might still change her mind in that matter if she 
pleased. The anger produced in her by Lady 
Ball’s claim, as it were, to her fortune, had almost 
evaporated; but the memory of her cousin’s story 
of his troubles was still fresh. “ I have a hard 
time of it sometimes, I can tell you.” Those 
words and others of the same kind were 
the arguments which had moved her, and made 
her try to think that she could love him. 
Then she remembered his bald head, and the 


170 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


weary, careworn look about his eyes, and his 
little intermittent talk, addressed chiefly to his 
mother, about the money-market;—little speeches, 
made as he would sit with the newspaper in his 
hand; 

“ The Confederate loan isn’t so bad, after all. 
I wish I’d taken a few.” 

“ You know you’d never have slept if you 
had,” Lady Ball would answer. 

All this Miss Mackenzie now turned in her 
mind, and asked herself whether she could be 
happy in hearing such speeches for the remainder 
of her life. 

u It is not as if you two were young people, 
and wanted to be billing and cooing,” Lady Ball 
had said to her the same evening. 

Miss Mackenzie, as she thought of this, was 
not so sure that Lady Ball was right. Why 
should she not want billing and cooing as well 
as another ? It was natural that a woman should 
want som e of it in her life, and she had had none 
of it yet. She had had a lover, certainly, but 
there had been no billing and cooing with him. 
Nothing of that kind had been possible in her 
brother Walter’s house. 

And then the question naturally arose to her 
whether her aunt had treated her justly in 
bracketing her with John Ball in that matter of 
age. John Ball was ten years her senior; and ten 


miss Mackenzie’s philosophy. 171 

years, she knew, was a very proper difference 
between a man and his wife. She was by no 
means inclined to plead, even to herself, that she 
was too young to marry her cousin; there was 
nothing in their ages to interfere, if the match 
was in other respects suitable. But still, was 
not he old for his age, and was not she young for 
hers ? And if she should ultimately resolve to 
devote herself and what she had left of youth 
to his children and his welfare, should not the 
sacrifice be recognized ? Had Lady Ball done 
well to speak of her as she certainly might well 
speak of him ? Was she beyond all aptitude for 
billing and cooing, if billing and cooing might 
chance to come in her way ? 

Thinking of this during the long afternoon, 
when Susanna was at school, she got up and 
looked at herself in the mirror. She moved up 
her hair from off her ears, knowing where she 
would find a few that were grey, and shaking her 
head, as though owning to herself that she was old ; 
but as her fingers ran almost involuntarily across 
her locks, her touch told her that they were soft 
and silken; and she looked into her own eyes, 
and saw that they were bright; and her hand 
touched the outline of her cheek, and she knew 
that something of the fresh bloom of youth was 
still there; and her lips parted, and there were 
her white teeth; and there came a smile and a 


172 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


dimple, and a slight purpose of laughter in her 
eye, and then a tear. She pulled her scarf tighter 
across her bosom, feeling her own form, and then 
she leaned forward and kissed herself in the 
glass. 

He was very careworn, soiled as it were with 
the world, tired out with the dusty, weary life’s 
walk which he had been compelled to take. Of 
romance in him there was nothing left, while in 
her the aptitude for romance had only just been 
born. It was not only that his head was bald, 
but that his eye was dull, and his step slow. 
The juices of life had been pressed out of him; 
his thoughts were all of his cares, and never of 
his hopes. It would be very sad to be the wife 
of such a man; it would be very sad, if there 
were no compensation; but might not the sacri¬ 
ficial duties give her that atonement which she 
would require? She would fain do something 
with her life and her money,—some good, some 
great good to some other person. If that good 
to another person and billing and cooing might 
go together, it would be very pleasant. But she 
knew there was danger in such an idea. The 
billing and cooing might lead altogether to evil. 
But there could be no doubt that she would do 
good service if she married her cousin ; her 
money would go to good purposes, and her care 
to those children would be invaluable. They were 


miss Mackenzie’s philosophy. 


173 


her cousins, and would it not be sweet to make 
of herself a sacrifice ? 

And then-. Reader! remember that she was 

no saint, and that hitherto very little opportunity 
had been given to her of learning to discriminate 
true metal from dross. Then—she thought of Mr. 
Samuel Rubb, junior. Mr. Samuel Rubb, junior, 
was a handsome man, about her own age; and 
she felt almost sure that Mr. Samuel Rubb, junior, 
admired her. He was not worn out with life; 
he was not broken with care; he would look 
forward into the world, and hope for things to 
come. One thing she knew to be true;—he was 
not a gentleman. But then, why should she care 
for that ? The being a gentleman was not every¬ 
thing. As for herself, might there not be strong 
reason to doubt whether those who were best 
qualified to judge would call her a lady ? Her 
surviving brother kept an oilcloth shop, and the 
brother with whom she had always lived had 
been so retired from the world that neither he 
nor she knew anything of its ways. If love could 
be gained, and anything of romance; if some 
active living mode of life could thereby be opened 
to her, would it not be well for her to give up 
that idea of being a lady ? Hitherto her rank 
had simply enabled her to become a Stumfoldian; 
and then she remembered that Mr. Maguire’s 
squint was very terrible ! How she should live. 



174 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


what she should do with herself, were matters to 
her of painful thought; but she looked in the 
glass again, and resolved that she would decline 
the honour of becoming Mrs. Ball. 

On the following morning she wrote her letter, 
and it was written thus : 

u 7, Paragon, Littlebath, January, 186— 

“My dear John, —I have been thinking a great 
deal about what you said to me, and I have made 
up my mind that I ought not to become your wife. 
I know that the honour you have proposed me is 
very great, and that I may seem to be ungrateful 
in declining it; but I cannot bring myself to feel 
that sort of love for you which a wife should have 
for her husband. I hope this will not make you 
displeased with me. It ought not to do so, as my 
feelings towards you and to your children are most 
affectionate. 

“ I know my aunt will be angry with me. Pray 
tell her from me, with my best love, that I have 
thought very much of all she said to me, and that 
I feel sure that I am doing right. It is not that 
I should be afraid of the duties which would fall 
upon me as your wife ; but that the woman who 
undertakes those duties should feel for you a wife’s 
love. I think it best to speak openly, and I hope 
that you will not be offended. 

“ Give my best love to my uncle and aunt, and 


miss Mackenzie’s philosophy. 


175 


to the girls, and to Jack, who will, I hope, keep 
his promise of coming and seeing me. 

“ Your very affectionate cousin, 

“ Margaret Mackenzie.” 

“There,” said John Ball to his mother, when 
he had read the letter, “ I knew it would be so; 
and she is right. Why should she give up her 
money and her comfort and her ease, to look after 
my children ?” 

Lady Ball took the letter and read it, and pro¬ 
nounced it to be all nonsense. 

“ It may be all nonsense,” said her son ; “ but 
such as it is, it is her answer.” 

“ I suppose you’ll have to go down to Littlebath 
after her,” said Lady Ball. 

“ I certainly shall not do that. It would do 
no good; and I’m not going to persecute her.” 

“Persecute her ! What nonsense you men do 
talk! As if any woman in her condition could be 
persecuted by being asked to become a baronet’s 
wife. I suppose I must go down.” 

“ I beg that you will not, mother.” 

“ She is just one of those women who are 
sure to stand off, not knowing their own minds. 
The best creature in the w T orld, and really very 
clever, but weak in that respect! She has not 
had lovers when she was young, and she’thinks 
that a man should come dallying about her as 


176 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


though she were eighteen. It only wants a little 
perseverance, John, and if you’ll take my advice, 
you’ll go down to Littlebath after her.” 

But John, in this matter, would not follow his 
mother’s advice, and declared that he would take 
no further steps. “He was inclined,” he said, 
“ to think that Margaret was right. Why should 
any woman burden herself with nine children ?” 

Then Lady Ball said a great deal more about 
the Ball money, giving it as her decided opinion 
that Margaret owed herself and her money to the 
Balls. As she could not induce her son to do 
anything, she wrote a rejoinder to her niece. 

“My dearest Margaret,” she said, “Your let¬ 
ter has made both me and John very unhappy. 
He has set his heart upon making you his wife, 
and I don’t think will ever hold up his head again 
if you will not consent. I write now instead of 
John, because he is so much oppressed. I wish you 
had remained here, because then we could have 
talked it over quietly. Would it not be better 
for you to be here than living alone at Littlebath ? 

■—for I cannot call that little girl who is at school 
anything of a companion. Could you not leave 
her as a boarder, and come to us for a month ? 
You would not be forced to pledge yourself to 
anything further; but we could talk it over.” 

It need hardly be said that Miss Mackenzie, as 
she read this, declared to herself that she had no 


miss Mackenzie’s philosophy. 177 

desire to talk over her own position with Lady- 
Ball any further. 

“John is afraid,” the letter went on to say, 
“ that he offended you by the manner of his pro¬ 
position ; and that he said too much about the 
children, and not enough about his own affection. 
Of course he loves you dearly. If you knew him 
as I do, which of course you can’t as yet, though I 
hope you will, you would be aware that no con¬ 
sideration, either of money or about the children, 
would induce him to propose to any woman un¬ 
less he loved her. You may take my word for 
that.” 

There was a great deal more in the letter of 
the same kind, in which Lady Ball pressed her 
own peculiar arguments; but I need hardly say 
that they did not prevail with Miss Mackenzie. 
If the son could not induce his cousin to marry 
him, the mother certainly never would do so. It 
did not take her long to answer her aunt’s letter. 
She said that she must, with many thanks, decline 
for the present to return to the Cedars, as the 
charge which she had taken of her niece made her 
presence at Littlebath necessary. As to the an¬ 
swer which she had given to John, she was afraid 
she could only say that it must stand. She had 
felt a little angry with Lady Ball; and though she 
tried not to show this in the tone of her letter, she 
did show it. 


178 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ If I were you I would never see her or speak 
to her again/’ said Lady Ball to her son. 

“ Yery likely I never shall,” he replied. 

“Has your love-making with that old maid 
gone wrong, John ?” the father asked. 

But John Ball was used to his father’s ill nature, 
and never answered it. 

Nothing special to our story occurred at Little- 
bath during the next two or three months, except 
that Miss Mackenzie became more and more inti¬ 
mate with Miss Baker, and more and more anxious 
to form an acquaintance with Miss Todd. With 
all the Stumfoldians she was on terms of mitigated 
friendship, and always went to Mrs. Stumfold’s 
fortnightly tea-drinkings. But with no lady there, 
—always excepting Miss Baker,—did she find that 
she grew into familiarity. With Mrs. Stumfold 
no one was familiar. 'She was afflicted by the 
weight of her own position, as we suppose the 
Queen to be, when we say that her Majesty’s 
altitude is too high to admit of friendships. 
Mrs. Stumfold never condescended,—except to 
the bishop’s wife who, in return, had snubbed 
Mrs. Stumfold. But living, as she did, in an 
atmosphere of flattery and toadying, it was 
wonderful how well she preserved her equani¬ 
mity, and how she would talk and perhaps think; 
of herself, as a poor, erring human being. When, 
however, she insisted much upon this fact of hei 


miss Mackenzie’s philosophy. 179 

humanity, the coachmaker’s wife would shake 
her head, and at last stamp her foot in anger, 
swearing that though everybody was of course 
dust, and grass, and worms ; and though, of course, 
Mrs. Stumfold must, by nature, be included in 
that everybody; yet dust, and grass, and worms 
nowhere exhibited themselves with so few of 
the stains of humanity on them as they did 
within the bosom of Mrs. Stumfold. So that, 
though the absolute fact of Mrs. Stumfold being 
dust, and grass, and worms, could not, in regard 
to the consistency of things, be denied, yet in her 
dustiness, grassiness, and worminess she was so 
little dusty, grassy, and wormy, that it was hardly 
fair, even in herself, to mention the fact at all. 

“I know the deceit of my own heart,” Mrs. 
Stumfold would say. 

“ Of course you do, Mrs. Stumfold,” the coach- 
maker’s wife replied. “ It is dreadful deceitful, 
no doubt. Where’s the heart that aint? But 
there’s a difference in hearts. Your deceit isn’t 
hard like most of ’em. You know it, Mrs. Stum¬ 
fold, and wrestle with it, and get your foot on the 
neck of it, so that, as one may say, it’s always 
being killed and got the better of.” 

During these months Miss Mackenzie learned 
to value at a very low rate the rank of the Stum- 
foldian circle into which she had been admitted. 
She argued the matter with herself, saying that 

n 2 


180 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


the coachbuilder’s wife and others were not ladies. 
In a general way ‘she was, no doubt, bound to 
assume them to be ladies; but she taught herself 
to think that such ladyhood was not of itself worth 
a great deal. It would not be worth the while of 
any woman to abstain from having some Mr. 
Rubb or the like, and from being the lawful 
mother of children in the Rubb and Mackenzie 
line of life, for the sake of such exceptional rank 
as was to be maintained by associating with the 
Stumfoldians. And, as she became used to the 
things and persons around her, she indulged her 
self in a considerable amount of social philosophy, 
turning over ideas in her mind for which they, 
who saw merely the lines of her outer life, would 
hardly have given her credit. After all, what 
was the good of being a lady ? Or was there any 
good in it at all ? Could there possibly be any 
good in making a struggle to be a lady ? Was it 
not rather one of those things which are settled 
for one externally, as are the colour of one’s hair 
and the size of one’s bones, and which should 
be taken or left alone, as Providence may have 
directed ? “ One cannot add a cubit to one’s height, 
nor yet make one’self a ladythat was the nature 
of Miss Mackenzie’s argument with herself. 

And, indeed, she carried the argument further 
than that. It was well to be a lady. She recog¬ 
nized perfectly the delicacy and worth of the 


miss Mackenzie’s philosophy. 181 

article. Miss Baker was a lady ; as to that there 
was no doubt. But, then, might it not also be very 
well not to be a lady; and might not the advan¬ 
tages of the one position be compensated with 
equal advantages in the other ? It is a grand thing 
to be a Queen; but a Queen has no friends. It is 
fine to be a Princess; but a Princess has a very 
limited choice of husbands. There was some¬ 
thing about Miss Baker that was very nice ; but 
even Miss Baker was very melancholy, and Miss 
Mackenzie could see that that melancholy had 
come from wasted niceness. Had she not been 
so much the lady, she might have been more the 
woman. And there could be no disgrace in not 
being a lady, if such ladyhood depended on exter¬ 
nal circumstances arranged for one by Providence. 
No one blames one’s washerwoman for not being 
a lady. No one wishes one’s housekeeper to be 
a lady; and people are dismayed, rather than 
pleased, when they find that their tailors’ wives 
want to be ladies. What does a woman get by 
being a lady? If fortune have made her so, 
fortune has done much for her. But the good 
things come as the natural concomitants of her 
fortunate position. It is not because she is a 
lady that she is liked by her peers and peeresses. 
But those choice gifts which have made her a 
lady have made her also to be liked. It comes 
from the outside, and for it no struggle can use- 


182 


MTSS MACKENZIE. 


fully be made. Such was the result of Miss 
Mackenzie’s philosophy. 

One may see that all these self-inquiries tended 
Rubb-wards. I do not mean that they were made 
with any direct intention on her part to reconcile 
herself to a marriage with Mr. Samuel Rubb, or 
that she even thought of sUch an event as pro¬ 
bable. He had said nothing to her to justify 
such thought, and as yet she knew but very little 
of him. But they all went to reconcile her to 
that sphere of life which her brother Tom had 
chosen, and which her brother Walter had de¬ 
spised. They taught her to believe that a firm 
footing below was better than what might, after a 
life’s struggle, be found to be but a false footing 
above. And they were brightened undoubtedly 
by an idea that some marriage in which she could 
love and be loved was possible to her below, 
though it would hardly be possible to her above. 

Her only disputant on the subject was Miss 
Baker, and she startled that lady much by the 
things which she said. Now, with Miss Baker, 
not to be a lady was to be nothing. It was her 
weakness, and I may also say her strength. Her 
ladyhood was of that nature that it took no soil 
from outer contact. It depended, even within 
her own bosom, on her own conduct solely, and 
in no degree on the conduct of those among whom 
she might chance to find herself. She thought it 


miss Mackenzie’s philosophy. 183 

well to pass her evenings with Mr. Stumfold’s 
people, and he at any rate had the manners of 
a gentleman. So thinking, she felt in no wise 
disgraced because the coachbuilder’s wife was a 
vulgar illiterate woman. But, there were things, 
not bad in themselves, which she herself would 
never have done, because she was a lady. She 
would have broken her heart rather than marry 
a man who was not a gentleman. It was not 
unladylike to eat cold mutton, and she ate it. 
But she would have shuddered had she been 
called on to eat any mutton with a steel fork. 
She had little generous ways with her, because 
they were the ways of ladies, and she paid for 
them from off her own back and out of her own 
dish. She would not go out to tea in a street 
cab, because she was a lady and alone; but she 
had no objection to walk, with her servant with 
her if it was dark. No wonder that such a 
woman was dismayed by the philosophy of Miss 
Mackenzie. 

And yet they had been brought together by 
much that was alike in their dispositions. Miss 
Mackenzie had now been more than six months 
an inhabitant of Littlebath, and six months at 
such places is enough for close intimacies. They 
were both quiet, conscientious, kindly women, 
each not without some ambition of activity, but 
each a little astray as to the way in which that 


184 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


activity should be shown. They were both alone 
in the world, and Miss Baker during the last year 
or two had become painfully so from the fact of 
her estrangement from her old friend Miss Todd. 
They both wished to be religious, having strong 
faith in the need of the comfort of religion; but 
neither of them were quite satisfied with the 
Stumfoldian creed. They had both, from con¬ 
science, eschewed the vanities of the world; but 
with neither was her conscience quite satisfied 
that such eschewal was necessary, and each re¬ 
gretted to be losing pleasures which might after 
all be innocent. 

“If I’m to go to the bad place,” Miss Todd 
had said to Miss Baker, “because I like to do 
something that won’t hurt my old eyes of an 
evening, I don’t see the justice of it. As for 
calling it gambling, it’s a falsehood, and your 
Mr. Stumfold knows that as well as I do. I haven’t 
won or lost ten pounds in ten years, and I’ve no 
more idea of making money by cards than I have 
by sweeping the chimney. Tell me why are 
cards wicked ? Drinking, and stealing, and lying, 
and backbiting, and naughty love-making,—but 
especially backbiting—backbiting—backbiting,— 
those are the things that the Bible says are wicked. 
I shall go on playing cards, my dear, till Mr. 
Stumfold can send me chapter and verse forbid 
ding it.” 


miss Mackenzie’s philosophy. 185 

Then Miss Baker, who was no doubt weak, 
had been unable to answer her, and had herself 
hankered after the flesh-pots of Egypt and the 
delights of the unregenerated. 

All these things Miss Baker and Miss Mackenzie 
discussed, and Miss Baker learned to love her 
younger friend in spite of her heterodox philo¬ 
sophy. Miss Mackenzie was going to give a 
tea-party,—nothing as yet having been quite 
settled, as there were difficulties in the way; but 
she propounded to Miss Baker the possibility of 
asking Miss Todd and some few of the less con¬ 
spicuous Toddites. She had her ambition, and 
she wished to see whether even she might not do 
something to lessen the gulf which separated 
those who loved the pleasures of the world in 
Littlebath from the bosom of Mr. Stumfold. 

“ You don’t know what you’re going to do,” 
Miss Baker said. 

“I’m not going to do any harm.” 

“ That’s more than you can say, my dear.” 
Miss Baker had learned from Miss Todd to call 
her friends, “my dear.” 

“You are always so afraid of everything,” said 
Miss Mackenzie. 

“Of course I am;—one has to be afraid. A 
single lady can’t go about and do just as she 
likes, as a man can do, or a married woman.” 

“I don’t know about a man; but I think a 


186 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


single woman ought to be able to do more what 
she likes than a married woman. Suppose Mrs. 
Stumfold found that I had got old Lady Ruff to 
meet her, what could she do to me ?” 

Old Lady Ruff was supposed to be the 
wickedest old card-player in all Littlebath, and 
there were strange stories afloat of the things she 
had done. There were Stumfoldians who declared 
that she had been seen through the blinds teach¬ 
ing her own maid piquet on a Sunday afternoon; 
but any horror will get itself believed nowa¬ 
days. How could they have known that it was 
not beggar-my-neighbour. But piquet was named 
because it is supposed in the Stumfoldian world 
to be the wickedest of all games. 

“ I don’t suppose she’d do much,” said Miss 
Baker; “no doubt she would be very much 
offended.” 

“ Why shouldn’t I try to convert Lady Ruff?” 

“ She’s over eighty, my dear.” 

“ But I suppose she’s not past all hope. 
The older one is the more one ought to try. 
But, of course, I’m only joking about her. 
Would Miss Todd come if you were to ask her?” 

“ Perhaps she would, but I don’t think she’d 
be comfortable; or if she were, she’d make the 
others uncomfortable. She always does exactly 
what she pleases.” 

“ That’s just why I think I should like her. I 


miss Mackenzie’s philosophy. 187 

wish I dared to do what I pleased ! We all of us 
are such cowards. Only that I don’t dare, I’d, go 
off to Australia and marry a sheep farmer.” 

“ You would not like him when you’d got him; 
—you’d find him .very rough.” 

“ I shouldn’t mind a bit about his being rough. 
I’d marry a shoe-black to-morrow if I thought I 
could make him happy, and he could make me 
happy.” 

“ But it wouldn’t make you happy.” 

“Ah! that’s just what we don’t know. I 
shan’t marry a shoe-black, because I don’t dare. 
So you think I’d better not ask Miss Todd. 
Perhaps she wouldn’t get on well with Mr. Ma¬ 
guire.” 

“ I had them both together once, my dear, and 
she made herself quite unbearable. You’ve no 
idea what kind of things she can say.” 

“I should have thought Mr. Maguire would 
have given her as good as she brought,” said 
Miss Mackenzie. 

“ So he did; and then Miss Todd got up and 
left him, saying out loud, before all the company, 
that it was not fair for him to come and preach 
sermons in such a place as that. I don’t think 
they have ever met since.” 

All this made Miss Mackenzie very thoughtful. 
She had thrown herself into the society of the 
saints, and now there seemed to be no escape 


188 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


for her; she could not be wicked even if she 
wished it. Having got into her convent, and, as 
it were, taken the vows of her order, she could 
not escape from it. 

“ That Mr. Rubb that I told you of is coming 
down here,” she said, still speaking to Miss 
Baker of her party. 

“ Oh, dear! will he be here when you have 
your friends here ?” 

“ That’s what I intended; but I don’t think I 
shall ask anybody at all. It is so stupid always 
seeing the same people.” 

“Mr. Rubb is—is—is—?” 

“ Yes; Mr. Rubb is a partner in my brother’s 
house, and sells oilcloth, and things of that sort, 
and is not by any means aristocratic. I know 
what you mean.” 

“ Don’t be angry with me, my dear.” 

u Angry ! I am not a bit angry. Why should 
I be angry ? A man who keeps a shop is not, I 
suppose, a gentleman. But then, you know, I 
don’t care about gentlemen,—about any gentle¬ 
man or any gentlemen.” 

Miss Baker sighed, and then the conversation 
dropped. She had always cared about gentle¬ 
men ;—and once in her life, or perhaps twice, had 
cared about a gentleman. 

Yes; Mr. Rubb was coming down again. He 
had written to say that it was necessary that he 


miss Mackenzie’s philosophy. 


189 


should again see Miss Mackenzie about the 
money. The next morning after the conversation 
which has just been recorded, Miss Mackenzie 
got another letter about the same money, of 
which it will be necessary to say more in the 
next chapter. 


190 


CHAPTER X. 

PLENARY ABSOLUTION. 

The letter which Miss Mackenzie received was 
from old Mr. Slow, her lawyer; and it was a 
very unpleasant letter. It was so unpleasant that 
it made her ears tingle when she read it and 
remembered that the person to whom special allu¬ 
sion was made, was one whom she had taught 
herself to regard as her friend. Mr. Slow’s letter 
was as follows; 

“ 7, Little St. Dunstan Court, 

“ April, 186—. 

“ Dear Madam, —I think it proper to write to 
you specially, about the loan made by you to 
Messrs. Rubb and Mackenzie, as the sum lent is 
serious, and as there has been conduct on the part 
of some one which I regard as dishonest. I find 
that what we have done in the matter has been 
regulated rather by the fact that you and Mr. 
Mackenzie are brother and sister, than by the 
ordinary course of such business; and I perceive 
that we had special warrant given to us for this 


PLENARY ABSOLUTION. 


191 


by you in your letter of the 23rd November last; 
but, nevertheless, it is my duty to explain to you 
that Messrs. Rubb and Mackenzie, or,—as I believe 
to be the case, Mr. Samuel Rubb, junior, of that 
firm,—have not dealt with you fairly. The money 
was borrowed for the purpose of buying certain 
premises, and, I believe, was laid out in that 
way. But it was borrowed on the special under¬ 
standing that you, as the lender, were to have 
the title-deeds of that property and the first 
mortgage upon them. It was alleged, when the 
purchase was being made, that the money was 
wanted before the mortgage could be effected, 
and you desired us to advance it. This we did, 
aware of the close family connection between 
yourself and one of the firm. Of course, on your 
instruction, we should have done this had there 
been no such relationship, but in that case we 
should have made further inquiry, and, probably, 
have ventured to advise you. But though the 
money was so advanced without the completion 
of the mortgage, it was advanced on the distinct 
understanding, that the security proffered in the 
first instance was to be forthcoming without 
delay. We now learn that the property is mort¬ 
gaged to other parties to its full value, and that 
no security for your money is to be had. 

u I have seen both Mr. Mackenzie and Mr- 
Rubb, junior. As regards your brother, I be- 


192 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


lieve him to have been innocent of any intention 
of the deceit, for deceit there certainly has been. 
Indeed he does not deny it. He offers to give 
you any security on the business, such as the 
stock-in-trade or the like, which I may advise you 
to take. But such would in truth be of no avail 
to you as security. He, your brother, seemed to 
be much distressed by what has been done, and I 
was grieved on his behalf. Mr. Rubb,—the 
younger Mr. Rubb, expressed himself in a very 
different way. He at first declined to discuss the 
matter with me ; and when I told him that if that 
was his way, I would certainly expose him, he 
altered his tone a little, expressing regret that 
there should be delay as to the security, and 
wishing me to understand that you were yourself 
aware of all the facts. 

“ There can be no doubt that deceit has been 
used towards you in getting your money, and 
that Mr. Rubb has laid himself open to proceed¬ 
ings which, if taken against him, would be abso¬ 
lutely ruinous to him. But I fear they would be 
also ruinous to your brother. It is my painful 
duty to tell you that your money so advanced is 
on a most precarious footing. The firm, in addi¬ 
tion to their present liabilities, are not worth half 
the money; or, I fear I may say, any part of it. I 
presume there is a working profit, as two families 
live upon the business. Whether, if you were to 


PLENARY ABSOLUTION. 


193 


come upon them as a creditor you could get your 
money out of their assets, I cannot say ; but you, 
perhaps, will not feel yourself disposed to resort to 
such a measure. I have considered it my duty to 
tell you all the facts, and though your distinct 
authority to us to advance the money absolves us 
from responsibility, I must regret that we did not 
make further inquiries before we allowed so large 
a sum of money to pass out of our hands. 

“ I am, dear Madam, 

“Your faithful servant, 

“Jonathan Slow.” 

Mr. Rubb’s promised visit was to take place in 
eight or ten days from the date on which this 
letter was received. Miss Mackenzie’s ears, as 
I have said, tingled as she read it. In the first 
place, it gave her a terrible picture of the pre¬ 
carious state of her brother’s business. What 
would he do,—he with his wife, and all his chil¬ 
dren, if things were in such a state as Mr. Slow 
described them ? And yet a month or two ago 
he was giving champagne and iced puddings for 
dinner! And then what words that discreet old 
gentleman, Mr. Slow, had spoken about Mr. 
Rubb, and what things he had hinted over and 
above what he had spoken ! Was it not manifest 
that he conceived Mr. Rubb to have been guilty 
of direct fraud ? 


VOL. i. 


o 


194 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


Miss Mackenzie at once made up her mind 
that her money was gone! But, in truth, this 
did not much annoy her. She had declared to 
herself once before that if anything was wrong 
about the money, she would regard it as a present 
made to her brother; and when so thinking of it, 
she had, undoubtedly, felt that it was, not im¬ 
probably, lost to her. It was something over a 
hundred a year to be deducted from her computed 
income, but she would still be able to live at the 
Paragon quite as well as she had intended, and be 
able also to educate Susanna. Indeed, she could 
do this easily and still save money, and, there¬ 
fore, as regarded the probable loss, why need she 
be unhappy ? 

Before the morning was over she had succeeded 
in whitewashing Mr. Bubb in her own mind. It 
is, I think, certainly the fact that women are less 
pervious to ideas of honesty than men are. They 
are less shocked by dishonesty when they find it, 
and are less clear in their intellect as to that which 
constitutes honesty. Where is the woman who 
thinks it wrong to smuggle ? What lady’s con¬ 
science ever pricked her in that she omitted the 
armorial bearings on her silver forks from her tax 
papers? What wife ever ceased to respect her 
husband because he dealt dishonestly in business ? 
Whereas, let him not go to church, let him drink 


PLENARY ABSOLUTION. 


195 


too much wine, let him go astray in his conver¬ 
sation, and her wrath arises against these faults. 
But this lack of feminine accuracy in the matter 
of honesty tends rather to charity in their judg¬ 
ment of others, than to deeds of fraud on the part 
of women themselves. 

Miss Mackenzie, who desired nothing that was 
not her own, who scrupulously kept her own hands 
from all picking and stealing, gave herself no 
peace, after reading the lawyer’s letter, till she 
was able to tell herself that Mr. Bubb was to be 
forgiven for what he had done. After all, he had, 
no doubt, intended that she should have the pro¬ 
mised security. And had not he himself come to 
her in London and told her the whole truth;—or, 
if not the whole truth, as much of it as was reason¬ 
able to expect that he should be able to tell her 
at an evening party after dinner ? Of course Mr. 
Slow was hard upon him. Lawyers always were 
hard. If she chose to give Messrs. Rubb and 
Mackenzie two thousand five hundred pounds out 
of her pocket, what was that to him ? So she 
went on, till at last she was angry with Mr. Slow 
for the language he had used. 

It was, however, before all things necessary 
that she should put Mr. Slow right as to the facts 
of the case. She had, no doubt, condoned what¬ 
ever Mr. Rubb had done. Mr. Rubb undoubtedly 
had her sanction for keeping her money without 

o 2 


196 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


security. Therefore, by return of post, she wrote 
the following short letter, which rather astonished 
Mr. Slow when he received it;— 

“ Littlebath, April, 186 —. 

“ Dear Sir, —I am much obliged by your letter 
about the money; but the truth is that I have 
known for some time that there was to be no 
mortgage. When I was in town I saw Mr. Rubb 
at my brother’s house, and it was understood be¬ 
tween us then that the matter was to remain as it 
is. My brother and his partner are very welcome 
to the money. 

“ Believe me to be, 

“ Yours sincerely, 

“ Margaret Mackenzie.” 

The letter was a false letter; but I suppose 
Miss Mackenzie did not know that she was writ¬ 
ing falsely. The letter was certainly false, be¬ 
cause when she spoke of the understanding “ be¬ 
tween us,” having just mentioned her brother and 
Mr. Rubb, she intended the lawyer to believe 
that the understanding was between them three; 
whereas, not a word had been said about the 
money in her brother’s hearing, nor was he 
aware that his partner had spoken of the money. 

Mr. Slow was surprised and annoyed. As re¬ 
garded his comfort as a lawyer, his client’s letter 


PLENARY ABSOLUTION. 


197 


was of course satisfactory. It absolved him not 
only from all absolute responsibility, but also from 
the feeling which no doubt had existed within his 
own breast, that he had in some sort neglected 
the lady’s interest. But, nevertheless, he was an¬ 
noyed. He did not believe the statement that 
Rubb and Mackenzie had had permission to hold 
the money without mortgage, and thought that 
neither of the partners had themselves so con¬ 
ceived when he had seen them. They had, how¬ 
ever, been too many for him,—and too many 
also for the poor female who had allowed herself 
to be duped out of her money. Such were Mr. 
Slow’s feelings on the matter, and then he dis¬ 
missed the subject from his mind. 

The next day, about noon, Miss Mackenzie was 
startled almost out of her propriety by the sud¬ 
den announcement at the drawing-room door of 
Mr. Rubb. Before she could bethink herself how 
she would behave herself, or whether it would be¬ 
come her to say anything of Mr. Slow’s letter to 
her, he was in the room. 

“ Miss Mackenzie,” he said, hurriedly,—and yet 
he had paused for a moment in his hurry till the 
servant had shut the door,—“may I shake hands 
with you ?” 

There could, Miss Mackenzie thought, be no 
objection to so ordinary a ceremony; and, there¬ 
fore, she said, “ certainly,” and gave him her hand. 


198 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ Then I am myself again,” said Mr. Rubb; 
and having so said, he sat down. 

Miss Mackenzie hoped that there was nothing 
the matter with him, and then she also sat down 
at a considerable distance. 

“ There is nothing the matter with me,” said 
he, “ as you are still so kind to me. But tell me, 
have you not received a letter from your lawyer ?” 

“ Yes, I have.” 

“ And he has done all in his power to blacken 
me ? I know it. Tell me, Miss Mackenzie, has 
he not blackened me ? Has he not laid things to 
my charge of which I am incapable ? Has he not 
accused me of getting money from you under false 
pretences;—than do which, I’d sooner have seen 
my own brains blown out ? I would, indeed.” 

“ He has written to me about the money, 
Mr. Rubb.” 

“ Yes; he came to me, and behaved shamefully 
to me; and he saw your brother too, and has 
been making all manner of ignominious inquiries. 
Those lawyers can never understand that there 
can be anything of friendly feeling about money. 
They can’t put friendly feelings into their uncon¬ 
scionable bills. I believe the world would go on 
better if there was no such thing as an attorney 
in it. I wonder who invented them, and why ?” 

Miss Mackenzie could give him no information 
on this point, and therefore he went on ; 


PLENARY ABSOLUTION. 


199 


“ But you must tell me what he has said, and 
what it is he wants us to do. For your sake, if you 
ask us, Miss Mackenzie, we’ll do anything. We’ll 
sell the coats off our backs, if you wish it. You 
shall never lose one shilling by Bubb and Mac¬ 
kenzie as long as I have anything to do with the 
firm. But I’m sure you’ll excuse me if I say 
that we can do nothing at the bidding of that old 
cormorant.” 

“ I don’t know that there’s anything to be 
done, Mr. Bubb.” 

“Is not there? Well, it’s very generous in 
you to say so; and you always are generous. 
I’ve always told your brother, since I had the 
honour of knowing you, that he had a sister to 
be proud of. And, Miss Mackenzie, I’ll say more 
than that; I’ve flattered myself that I’ve had a 
friend to be proud of. But now I must tell you 
why I’ve come down to-day; you know I was to 
have been here next week. Well, when Mr. Slow 
came to me and I found what was up, I said to 
myself at once that it was right you should know 
exactly—exactly—how the matter stands. I was 
going to explain it next week, but I wouldn’t 
leave you in suspense when I knew that that 
lawyer was going to trouble you.” 

44 It hasn’t troubled me, Mr. Bubb.” 

44 Hasn’t it though, really ? That’s so good 
of you again! Now the truth is,—but it’s pretty 


200 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


nearly just what I told yon that day after dinner, 
when you agreed, you know, to what we had 
done.” 

Here he paused, as though expecting an answer. 

“ Yes, I did agree.” 

“ Just at present, while certain other parties 
have a right to hold the title-deeds, and I can’t 
quite say how long that may he, we cannot 
execute a mortgage in your favour. The title- 
deeds represent the property. Perhaps you don’t 
know that.” 

“ Oh yes, I know as much as that.” 

“ Well then, as we haven’t the title-deeds, we 
can’t execute the mortgage. Perhaps you’ll say 
you ought to have the title-deeds.” 

“ No, Mr. Rubb, I don’t want to say anything 
of the kind. If my money can be of any assist¬ 
ance to my brother,—to my brother and you,— 
you are welcome to the use of it, without any 
mortgage. I will show you a copy of the letter 
I sent to Mr. Slow.” 

“ Thanks; a thousand thanks! and may I see 
the letter which Mr. Slow wrote ?” 

“ No, I think not. I don’t know whether it 
would be right to show it you.” 

u I shouldn’t think of doing anything about it; 
that is, resenting it, you know. Only then we 
should all be on the square together.” 

“ I think I’d better not. Mr. Slow, when he 


PLENARY ABSOLUTION. 


201 


wrote it, probably did not mean that I should 
show it to you.” 

“ You’re right; you’re always right. But you’ll 
let me see your answer.” 

Then Miss Mackenzie went to her desk, and 
brought him a copy of the note she had written to 
the lawyer. He read it very carefully, twice over; 
and then she could see, when he refolded the paper, 
that his eyes were glittering with satisfaction. 

46 Miss Mackenzie, Miss Mackenzie,” he said, 
“ I think that you are an angel!” 

And he did think so. In so much at that 
moment he was at any rate sincere. She saw 
that he was pleased, and she was pleased herself. 

“ There need be no further trouble about it,” 
she said; and as she spoke she rose from her seat. 

And he rose too, and came close to her. He 
came close to her, hesitated for a moment, and 
then, putting one hand behind her waist, though 
barely touching her, he took her hand with his 
other hand. She thought that he was going to kiss 
her lips, and for a moment or two he thought so 
too ; but either his courage failed him or else his 
discretion prevailed. Whether it was the one or 
the other, must depend on the way in which she 
would have taken it. As it was, he merely raised 
her hand and kissed that. When she could look 
into his face his eyes were full of tears. 

“ The truth is,” said he, “ that you have saved 


202 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


us from ruin ;—that’s the real truth. Damn all 
lying!” 

She started at the oath, but in an instant she 
had forgiven him that too. There was a sound 
of reality about it, which reconciled her to the 
indignity; though, had she been true to her faith 
as a Stumfoldian, she ought at least to have 
fainted at the sound. 

“ I hardly know what I’m saying, Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie, and I beg your pardon; but the fact is 
you could sell us up if you pleased. I didn’t 
mean it when I first got your brother to agree as 
to asking you for the loan; 1 didn’t indeed; but 
things were going wrong with us, and just at that 
moment they went more wrong than ever; and 
then came the temptation, and we were able to 
make everything right by giving up the title- 
deeds of the premises. That’s how it was, and it 
was I that did it. It wasn’t your brother; and 
though you may forgive me, he won’t.” 

This was all true, but how far the truth should 
be taken towards palliating the deed done, I must 
leave the reader to decide; and the reader will 
doubtless perceive that the truth did not appear 
until Mr. Rubb had ascertained that its appear¬ 
ance would not injure him. I think, however, 
that it came from his heart, and that it should 
count for something in his favour. The tear 
which he rubbed from his eye with his hand 


PLENARY ABSOLUTION. 


203 


counted very much in his favour with Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie ; she had not only forgiven him now, but she 
almost loved him for having given her something 
to forgive. With many women I doubt whether 
there be any more effectual way of touching their 
hearts than ill-using them and then confessing it. 
If you wish to get the sweetest fragrance from 
the herb at your feet, tread on it and bruise it. 

She had forgiven him, and taken him absolutely 
into favour, and he had kissed her hand, having all 
but embraced her as he did so; but on the pre¬ 
sent occasion he did not get beyond that. He 
lacked the audacity to proceed at once from the 
acknowledgment of his fault to a declaration 
of his love; but I hardly think that he would 
have injured himself had he done so. He should 
have struck while the iron was hot, and it was 
heated now nearly to melting; but he was abashed 
by his own position, and having something real in 
his heart, having some remnant of generous feel¬ 
ing left about him, he could not make such pro¬ 
gress as he might have done had he been cool 
enough to calculate all his advantages. 

“ Don’t let it trouble you any more,” Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie said, when he had dropped her hand. 

“ But it does trouble me, and it will trouble 
me.” 

“ No,” she said, with energy, “ it shall not; let 
there be an end of it. I will write to Tom, and 


204 


MISS MACKENZIE, 


tell liim that he is welcome to the money. Isn’t 
he my brother ? You are both welcome to it. If 
it has been of service to you, I am very happy that 
it should be so. And now Mr. Rubb, if you 
please, we won’t have another word about it.” 

“ What am I to say ?” 

“ Not another word.” 

It seemed as though he couldn’t speak another 
word, for he went to the window and stood there 
silently, looking out into the street. As he did 
so there came another visitor to Miss Mackenzie, 
whose ringing at the door bell had not been 
noticed by them, and Miss Baker was an¬ 
nounced while Mr. Rubb was still getting the 
better of his feelings. Of course he turned round 
when he heard the lady’s name, and of course he 
was introduced by his hostess. Miss Mackenzie 
was obliged to make some apology for the gentle¬ 
man’s presence. 

“ Mr. Rubb was expected next week, but busi¬ 
ness brought him down to-day unexpectedly.” 

“ Quite unexpectedly,” said Mr. Rubb, making 
a violent endeavour to recover his equanimity. 

Miss Baker looked at Mr. Rubb, and disliked 
him at once. It should be remembered that she 
was twenty years older than Miss Mackenzie, and 
that she regarded the stranger, therefore, with 
a saner and more philosophical judgment than 
her friend could use,—with a judgment on which 


PLENARY ABSOLUTION. 


205 


the outward comeliness of the man had no undue 
influence; and it should be remembered also that 
Miss Baker, from early age, and by all the asso¬ 
ciation of her youth, had been taught to know 
a gentleman when she saw him. Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie, who was by nature the cleverer woman of 
the two, watched her friend’s face, and saw by a 
glance that she did not like Mr. Rubb, and then, 
within her own bosom, she called her friend an 
old maid. 

“ We’re having uncommonly fine weather for 
the time of year,” said Mr. Rubb. 

“Yery fine weather,” said Miss Baker; “I’ve 
called, my dear, to know whether you’ll go in 
with me next door and drink tea this evening ?” 

“What, with Miss Todd?”-asked Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie, who was surprised at the invitation. 

“Yes, with Miss Todd. It is not one of her 
regular nights, you know, and her set won’t be 
there. She has some old friends with her,—a 
Mr. Wilkinson, a clergyman and his wife. It 
seems that her old enemy and your devoted slave, 
Mr. Maguire, knows Mr. Wilkinson, and he’s 
going to be there.” 

“ Mr. Maguire is no slave of mine, Miss Baker.” 

“ I thought he was; at any rate his presence 
will be a guarantee that Miss Todd will be on her 
best behaviour, and that you needn’t be afraid.” 

“ I’m not afraid of anything of that sort.” 


206 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ But will yon go ?” 

“Oh, yes, if you are going.” 

“That’s right; and I’ll call for yon as I pass 
by. I must see her now, and tell her. Good 
morning, sirwhereupon Miss Baker bowed very 
stiffly to Mr. Rubb. 

“ Good morning, ma’am,” said Mr. Rubb, bow¬ 
ing very stiffly to Miss Baker. 

When the lady was gone Mr. Rubb sat himself 
again down on the sofa, and there he remained 
for the next half-hour. He talked about the 
business of the firm, saying how it would now cer¬ 
tainly be improved; and he talked about Tom 
Mackenzie’s family, saying what a grand thing it 
was for Susanna to be thus taken in hand by her 
aunt; and he asked a question or two about Miss 
Baker, and then a question or two about Mr. Ma¬ 
guire, during which questionings he learned that 
Mr. Maguire was not as yet a married man; and 
from Mr. Maguire he got on to the Stumfolds, and 
learned somewhat of the rites and ceremonies of 
the Stumfoldian faith. In this way he prolonged 
his visit till Miss Mackenzie began to feel that he 
ought to take his leave. 

Miss Baker had gone at once to Miss Todd, 
and had told that lady that Miss Mackenzie would 
join her tea-party. She had also told how Mr. 
Rubb, of the firm of Rubb and Mackenzie, was at 
this moment in Miss Mackenzie’s drawing-room. 


PLENARY ABSOLUTION. 


207 


“Ill ask him to come, too,” said Miss Todd. 

Then Miss Baker had hesitated, and had looked 
grave. 

“ What’s the matter ?” said Miss Todd. 

“I’m not quite sure you’ll like him,” said Miss 
Baker. 

“Probably not,” said Miss Todd; “I don’t 
like half the people I meet, but that’s no reason I 
shouldn’t ask him.” 

“ But he is—that is, he is not exactly-” 

“ What is he, and what is he not, exactly ?” 
asked Miss Todd. 

“Why, he is a tradesman, you know,” said 
Miss Baker. 

“ There’s no harm that I know of in that,” said 
Miss Todd. “My uncle that left me my money 
was a tradesman.” 

“No,” said Miss Baker energetically; “he was 
a merchant in Liverpool.” 

“ You’ll find it very hard to define the differ¬ 
ence, my dear,” said Miss Todd. “ At any rate, 
I’ll ask the man to come;—that is, if it won’t 
offend you.” 

“It won’t in the least offend me,” said Miss 
Baker. 

So a note was at once written and sent in to 
Miss Mackenzie, in which she was asked to bring 
Mr. Bubb with her on that evening. When the 



208 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


note reached Miss Mackenzie, Mr. Rubb was 
still with her. 

Of course she communicated to him the invita¬ 
tion. She wished that it had not been sent; she 
wished that he would not accept it,—though on 
that head she had no doubt; but she had not 
sufficient presence of mind to keep the matter to 
herself and say nothing about it. Of course he 
was only too glad to drink tea with Miss Todd. 
Miss Mackenzie attempted some slight manoeuvre 
to induce Mr. Rubb to go direct to Miss Todd’s 
house; but he was not such an ass as that; he 
knew his advantage, and kept it, insisting on his 
privilege of coming there, to Miss Mackenzie’s 
room, and escorting her. He would have to 
escort Miss Baker also; and things, as he thought, 
were looking well with him. At last he rose to 
go, but he made good use of the privilege of 
parting. He held Miss Mackenzie’s hand, and 
pressed it. 

“ You mustn’t be angry,” he said, “ if I tell 
you that you are the best friend I have in the 
world.” 

“ You have better friends than me,” she said, 
“ and older friends.” 

“ Yes; older friends; but none,—not one, who 
has done for me so much as you have; and cer¬ 
tainly none for whom I have so great a regard. 
May Grod bless you, Miss Mackenzie!” 


PLENARY ABSOLUTION. 


209 


“ May God bless you, too, Mr. Rubb!” 

Wbat else could she say ? When his civility 
took so decorous a shape, she could not bear to 
be less civil than he had been, or less decorous. 
And yet it seemed to her that in bidding God 
bless him with that warm pressure of the hand, 
she had allowed to escape from her an appear¬ 
ance of affection which she had not intended to 
exhibit. 

“ Thank you; thank you,” said he; and then 
at last he went. 

She seated herself slowly in her own chair near 
the] window,—the chair in which she was accus¬ 
tomed to sit for many solitary hours, and asked 
herself what it all meant. Was she allowing her¬ 
self to fall in love with Mr. Rubb, and if so, was 
it well that it should be so? This would be 
bringing to the sternest proof of reality her philo¬ 
sophical theory on social life. It was all very 
well for her to hold a bold opinion in discussions 
with Miss Baker as to a “ man being a man for a’ 
that,” even though he might not be a gentleman; 
but was she prepared to go the length of pre¬ 
ferring such a man to all the world? Was she 
ready to go down among the Rubbs, for now and 
ever, and give up the society of such women as 
Miss Baker ? She knew that it was necessary 
that she should come to some resolve on the 
matter, as Mr. Rubb’s purpose was becoming too 

VOL. i. p 


210 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


clear to her. When an unmarried gentleman of 
forty tells an unmarried lady of thirty-six that 
she is the dearest friend he has in the world, he 
must surely intend that they shall, neither of 
them, remain unmarried any longer. Then she 
thought also of her cousin John Ball; and some 
vague shadow of thought passed across her mind 
also in respect of the Rev. Mr. Maguire. 



211 


CHAPTER XI. 

MISS TODD ENTERTAINS SOME FRIENDS AT TEA, 

I believe that a desire to get married is the 
natural state of a woman at the age of—say from 
twenty-five to thirty-five, and I think also that it 
is good for the world in general that it should be so. 
I am now speaking, not of the female population 
at large, but of women whose position in the world 
does not subject them to the necessity of earning 
their bread by the labour of their hands. There 
is, I know, a feeling abroad among women that 
this desire is one of which it is expedient that 
they should become ashamed; that it will be well 
for them to alter their natures in this respect, and 
learn to take delight in the single state. Many 
of the most worthy women of the day are now 
teaching this doctrine, and are intent on showing 
by precept and practice that an unmarried woman 
may have as sure a hold on the world, and a 
position within it as ascertained, as may an un¬ 
married man. But I confess to an opinion that 

p 2 


212 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


human nature will be found to be too strong for 
them. Their school of philosophy may be graced 
by a few zealous students,—by students who will 
be subject to the personal influence of their great 
masters,—but it will not be successful in the outer 
world. The truth in the matter is too clear. A 
woman’s life is not perfect or whole till she has 
added herself to a husband. 

Nor is a man’s life perfect or whole till he has 
added to himself a wife; but the deficiency with 
the man, though perhaps more injurious to him 
than its counterpart is to the woman, does not, to 
the outer eye, so manifestly unfit him for his busi¬ 
ness in the world. Nor does the deficiency make 
itself known to him so early in life, and therefore 
it occasions less of regret,—less of regret, though 
probably more of misery. It is infinitely for his 
advantage that he should be tempted to take to 
himself a wife ; and, therefore, for his sake if not 
for her own, the philosophic preacher of single 
blessedness should break up her class-rooms, and 
bid her pupils go and do as their mothers did 
before them. 

They may as well give up their ineffectual 
efforts, and know that nature is too strong for 
them. The desire is there ; and any desire which 
has to be repressed with an effort, will not have 
itself repressed unless it be in itself wrong. But 
this desire, though by no means wrong, is generally 


MISS TODD ENTERTAINS SOME FRIENDS. 213 

accompanied by something of a feeling of shame. 
It is not often acknowledged by the woman to 
herself, and very rarely acknowledged in simple 
plainness to another. Miss Mackenzie could not 
by any means bring herself to own it, and yet it 
was there strong within her bosom. A man 
situated in outer matters as she was situated, 
possessed of good means, hampered by no outer 
demands, would have declared to himself clearly 
that it would be well for him to marry. But 
he would probably be content to wait a while 
and would, unless in love, feel the delay to be a 
luxury. But Miss Mackenzie could not confess 
as much, even to herself,—could not let herself 
know that she thought as much; but yet she 
desired to be married, and dreaded delay. She 
desired to be married, although she was troubled 
by some half-formed idea that it would be wicked. 
Who was she, that she should be allowed to be in 
love? Was she not an old maid by prescription, 
and, as it were, by the force of ordained circum¬ 
stances ? Had it not been made very clear to her 
when she was young that she had no right to fall in 
love, even with Harry Handcock ? And although, 
in certain moments of ecstacy, as when she kissed 
herself in the glass, she almost taught herself to 
think that feminine charms and feminine privileges 
had not been all denied to her, such was not her 
permanent opinion of herself. She despised her- 


214 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


self. Why, she knew not; and probably did not 
know that she did so. But, in truth, she despised 
herself, thinking herself to be too mean for a 
man’s love. 

She had been asked to marry him by her cousin 
Mr. Ball, and she had almost yielded. But had 
she married him it would not have been because 
she thought herself good enough to be loved by 
him, but because she held herself to be so insig¬ 
nificant that she had no right to ask for love. She 
would have taken him because she could have 
been of use, and because she would have felt that 
she had no right to demand any other purpose in 
the world. She would have done this, had she not 
been deterred by the rude offer of other advan¬ 
tages which had with so much ill judgment been 
made to her by her aunt. 

Now, here was a lover who was not old and 
careworn, who was personally agreeable to her, 
with whom something of the customary romance 
of the world might be possible. Should she take 
him ? She knew well that there were drawbacks. 
Her perceptions had not missed to notice the 
man’s imperfections, his vulgarities, his false 
promises, his little pushing ways. But why was 
she to expect him to be perfect, seeing, as she so 
plainly did, her own imperfections ? As for her 
money, of course he wanted her money. So had 
Mr. Ball wanted her money. What man on earth 


MISS TODD ENTERTAINS SOME FRIENDS. 215 


could have wished to marry her unless she had 
had money ? It was thus that she thought of 
herself. And he had robbed her! But that she 
had forgiven; and, having forgiven it, was too 
generous to count it for anything. But, never¬ 
theless, she was ambitious. Might there not be 
a better, even than Mr. Bubb ? 

Mr. Maguire squinted horribly; so horribly 
that the form and face of the man hardly left 
any memory of themselves except the memory of 
the squint. His dark hair, his one perfect eye, 
his good figure, his expressive mouth, were all 
lost in that dreadful perversion of vision. It was 
a misfortune so great as to justify him in demand¬ 
ing that he should be judged by different laws 
than those which are used as to the conduct of 
the world at large. In getting a wife he might 
surely use his tongue with more freedom than 
another man, seeing that his eye was so much 
against him. If he were somewhat romantic in 
his talk, or even more than romantic, who could 
find fault with him ? And if he used his clerical 
vocation to cover the terrors of that distorted 
pupil, can any woman say that he should be 
therefore condemned ? Miss Mackenzie could 
not forget his eye, but she thought that she had 
almost brought herself to forgive it. And, more¬ 
over, he was a gentleman, not only by Act of 
Parliament, but in outward manners. Were she 


216 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


to become Mrs. Maguire, Miss Baker would cer¬ 
tainly come to lier house, and it might be given 
to her to rival Mrs. Stumfold,—in running which 
race she would be weighted by no Mr. Peters. 

It is true that Mr. Maguire had never asked 
her to marry him, but she believed that he would 
ask her if she gave him any encouragement. Now 
it was to come to pass, by a wonderful arrange¬ 
ment of circumstances, that she was to meet these 
two gentlemen together. It might well be, that 
on this very occasion, she must choose whether it 
should be either or neither. 

Mr. Rubb came, and she looked anxiously at 
his dress. He had on bright yellow kid gloves, 
primrose he would have called them, but, if there 
be such things as yellow gloves, they were yellow; 
and she wished that she had the courage to ask 
him to take them off. This was beyond her, 
and there he sat, with his gloves almost as con¬ 
spicuous as Mr. Maguire's eye. Should she, how¬ 
ever, ever oecome Mrs. Rubb, she would not find 
the gloves to be there permanently ; whereas the 
eye would remain. But then the gloves were the 
fault of the one man, whereas the eye was simply 
the misfortune of the other. And Mr. Rubb’s 
hair was very full of perfumed grease, and sat 
on each side of his head in a conscious arrange¬ 
ment of waviness that was detestable. As she 
looked at Mr. Rubb in all the brightness of his 


MISS TODD ENTERTAINS SOME FRIENDS. 217 

evening costume, she began to think that she had 
better not. 

At last Miss Baker came, and they started off 
together. Miss Mackenzie saw that Miss Baker 
eyed the man, and she blushed. When they got 
down upon the doorstep, Samuel Rubb, junior, 
absolutely offered an arm simultaneously to each 
lady! At that moment Miss Mackenzie hated 
him in spite of her special theory. 

“ Thank you/’ said Miss Baker, declining the 
arm; “ it is only a step.” 

Miss Mackenzie declined it also. 

“ Oh, of course,” said Mr. Rubb. <c If it’s only 
nest door it does not signify.” 

Miss Todd welcomed them cordially, gloves 
and all. “ My dear,” she said to Miss Baker, “ I 
haven’t seen you for twenty years. Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie, this is very kind of you. I hope we 
sha’n’t do you any harm, as we are not going to 
be wicked to-night.” 

Miss Mackenzie did not dare to say that 
she would have preferred to be wicked, but 
that is what she would have said if she had 
dared. 

“ Mr. Rubb, I’m very happy to see you,” con¬ 
tinued Miss Todd, accepting her guest’s hand, 
glove and all. “ I hope they haven’t made you 
believe that you are going to have any dancing^ 
for, if so, they have hoaxed you shamefully.” 


218 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


Then she introduced them to Mr. and Mrs. Wil 
kinson. 

Mr. Wilkinson was a plain-looking clergyman, 
with a very pretty wife. “ Adela,” Miss Todd 
said to Mrs. Wilkinson, 44 you used to dance, but 
that’s all done with now, I suppose.” 

“I never danced much,” said the clergyman’s 
wife, 4 4 but have certainly given it up now, partly 
because I have no one to dance with.” 

44 Here’s Mr. Rubb quite ready. He’ll dance 
with you, I’ll be bound, if that’s all.” 

Mr. Rubb became very red, and Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie, when she next took courage to look at 
him, saw that the gloves had disappeared. 

There came also a Mr. and Mrs. Fuzzy- 
bell, and immediately afterwards Mr. Maguire, 
whereupon Miss Todd declared her party to be 
complete. 

44 Mrs. Fuzzybell, my dear, no cards!” said 
Miss Todd, quite out loud, with a tragi-comic 
expression in her face, that was irresistible. “ Mr. 
Fuzzybell, no cards!” Mrs. Fuzzybell said that 
she was delighted to hear it. Mr. Fuzzybell said 
that it did not signify. Miss Baker stole a glance 
at Mr. Maguire, and shook in her shoes. Mr. 
Maguire tried to look as though he had not heard 
it. 

44 Do you play cards much here?” asked Mr. 
Rubb. 


MISS TODD ENTERTAINS SOME FRIENDS. 219 

“ A great deal too much, sir,” said Miss Todd, 
shaking her head. 

“Have yon many dissenters in your parish, 
Mr. Wilkinson?” asked Mr. Maguire. 

“A good many,” said Mr. Wilkinson. 

“ But no papists ?” suggested Mr. Maguire. 

“ No, we have no Roman Catholics.” 

“That is such a blessing!” said Mr. Ma 
guire, turning his eyes up to heaven in a very 
frightful manner. But he had succeeded for 
the present in putting down Miss Todd and her 
cards. 

They were now -summoned round the tea-table, 
—a genuine tea-table at which it was expected 
that they should eat and drink. Miss Mackenzie 
was seated next to Mr. Maguire on one side of 
the table, while Mr. Rubb sat on the other be¬ 
tween Miss Todd and Miss Baker. While they 
were yet taking their seats, and before the opera¬ 
tions of the banquet had commenced, Susanna 
entered the room. She also had been specially 
invited, but she had not returned from school in H 
time to accompany her aunt. The young lady 
had to walk round the room to shake hands with 
everybody, and when she came to Mr. Rubb, was 
received with much affectionate urgency. He 
turned round in his chair and was loud in his 
praises. “Miss Mackenzie,” said he, speaking 
across the table, “I shall have to report in 


220 


MISS MACKENZIE, 


Gower Street that Miss Susanna has become 
quite the young lady.” From that moment Mr. 
Rubb had an enemy close to the object of his 
affections, who was always fighting a battle 
against him, 

Susanna had hardly gained her seat, before Mr. 
Maguire seized an opportunity which he saw 
might soon be gone, and sprang to his legs. 
“Miss Todd,” said he, “may I be permitted to 
ask a blessing ?” 

“ Oh, certainly,” said Miss Todd; “ but I thought 
one only did that at dinner.” 

Mr. Maguire, however, was not the man to sit 
down without improving the occasion. 

“ And why not for tea also ?” said he. “ Are 
they not gifts alike ?” 

“ Yery much alike,” said Miss Todd, “and so is 
a cake at a pastry-cook’s. But we don’t say grace 
over our buns.” 

“We do, in silence,” said Mr. Maguire, still 
standing; “ and, therefore, we ought to have it 
allowed here.” 

“I don’t see the argument; but you’re very 
welcome.” 

“Thank you,” said Mr. Maguire; and then 
he said his grace. He said it with much poetic 
emphasis, and Miss Mackenzie, who liked any 
little additional excitement, thought that Miss 
Todd had been wrong. 


MISS TODD ENTERTAINS SOME FRIENDS. 221 

You’ve a deal of society here, no doubt,” said 
Mr. Rubb to Miss Baker, while Miss Todd was 
dispensing her tea. 

“I suppose it’s much the same as other places,” 
said Miss Baker. “ Those who know many peo¬ 
ple can go out constantly if they like it.” 

“ And it’s so easy to get to know people,” said 
Mr. Rubb. “ That’s what makes me like these 
sort of places so much. There’s no stiffness and 
formality, and all that kind of thing. Now in 
London, you don’t know your next neighbour, 
though you and he have lived there for ten years.” 

“Nor here either, unless chance brings you 
together.” 

“ Ah ; but there is none of that horrid decorum 
here,” said Mr. Rubb. “There’s nothing I hate 
like decorum. It prevents people knowing each 
other, and being jolly and happy together. Now, 
the French know more about society than any 
people, and I’m told they have none of it.” 

“ Im sure I can’t say,” said Miss Baker. 

“ It’s given up to them that they’ve got rid of 
it altogether,” said Mr. Rubb. 

“ Who have got rid of what ?” asked Miss Todd, 
who saw that her friend was rather dismayed by 
the tenor of Mr. Rubb’s conversation. 

“ The French have got rid of decorum,” said 
Mr. Rubb. 

. “ Altogether, I believe,” said Miss Todd. 


222 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


44 Of course they have. It’s given up to them 
that they have. They’re the people that know 
how to live!” 

64 You’d better go and live among them, if that’s 
your way of thinking,” said Miss Todd. 

46 1 would at once, only for the business,” said 
Mr. Eubb. 44 If , there’s anything I hate, its de¬ 
corum. How pleasant it was for me to be asked 
in to take tea here in this social way!” 

44 But I hope decorum would not have forbidden 
that,” said Miss Todd. 

44 1 rather think it would though, in London.” 

44 Where you’re known, you mean?” asked 
Miss Todd. 

“1 don’t know that that makes any difference; 
but people don’t do that sort of thing. Do they, 
Miss Mackenzie ? You’ve lived in London most 
of your life, and you ought to know.” 

Miss Mackenzie did not answer the appeal that 
was made to her. She was watching Mr. Eubb 
narrowly, and knew that he was making a fool of 
himself. She could perceive also that Miss Todd 
would not spare him. She could forgive Mr. Eubb 
for being a fool. She could forgive him for not 
knowing the meaning of words, for being vulgar 
and assuming; but she could hardly bring her¬ 
self to forgive him in that he did so as her friend, 
and as the guest whom she had brought thither. 
She did not declare to herself that she would have 


MISS TODD ENTEKTAINS SOME FKIENDS. 223 

nothing more to do with him, because he was an 
ass; but she almost did come to this conclusion, 
lest he should make her appear to be an ass also. 

“ What is the gentleman’s name,” asked Mr. 
Maguire, who, under the protection of the urn, 
was able to whisper into Miss Mackenzie’s ear. 

“ Rubb,” said she. 

“ Oh, Rubb ; and he comes from London ?” 

“ He is my brother’s partner in business,” said 
Miss Mackenzie. 

“ Oh, indeed. A very worthy man, no doubt. 
Is he staying with—with you, Miss Mackenzie ?” 

Then Miss Mackenzie had to explain that Mr. 
Rubb was not staying with her;—that he had 
come down about business, and that he was stay¬ 
ing at some inn. 

“ An excellent man of business, I’m sure,” said 
Mr. Maguire. “ By-the-by, Miss Mackenzie, if it 
be not improper to ask, have you any share in the 
business ?” 

Miss Mackenzie explained that she had no share 
in the business; and then blundered on, saying 
how Mr. Rubb had come down to Littlebath about 
money transactions between her and her brother. 

“ Oh, indeed,” said Mr. Maguire ; and before he 
had done, he knew very well that Mr. Rubb had 
borrowed money of Miss Mackenzie. 

“ Now, Mrs. Fuzzybell, what are we to do ?” 
said Miss Todd, as soon as the tea-things were gone. 


224 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


44 We shall do very well,” said Mrs. Fuzzybell; 
44 we’ll have a little conversation.” 

44 If we could all banish decorum, like Mr. 
Rubb, and amuse ourselves, wouldn’t it be nice ? 
I quite agree with you, Mr. Rubb; decorum is a 
great bore; it prevents our playing cards to-night.” 

44 As for cards, I never play cards myself,” said 
Mr. Rubb. 

44 Then, when I throw decorum overboard, it 
sha’n’t be in company with you, Mr. Rubb.” 

44 We were always taught to think that cards 
were objectionable.” 

44 You were told they were the devil’s books, I 
suppose,” said Miss Todd. 

44 Mother always objected to have them in the 
house,” said Mr. Rubb. 

44 Your mother was quite right,” said Mr. 
Maguire ; 44 and I hope that you will never forget 
or neglect your parents’ precepts. I’m not mean¬ 
ing to judge you, Miss Todd-” 

44 But that’s just what you are meaning to do, 
Mr. Maguire.” 

44 Not at all; very far from it. We’ve all got 
our wickednesses and imperfections.” 

44 No, no, not you, Mr. Maguire. Mrs. Fuzzy¬ 
bell, you don’t think that Mr. Maguire has any 
wickednesses and imperfections ?” 

44 I’m sure I don’t know,” said Mrs. Fuzzybell, 
tossing her head. 



MISS TODD ENTERTAINS SOME FRIENDS. 225 


44 Miss Todd,” said Mr. Maguire, 44 when 
I look into my own heart, I see well how 
black it is. It is full of iniquity; it is as a 
grievous sore that is ever running, and will not 
be purified.” 

44 Gracious me, how unpleasant!” said Miss 
Todd. 

44 1 trust that there is no one here who has not 
a sense of her own wickedness.” 

44 Or of his,” said Miss Todd. 

“ Or of his,” and Mr. Maguire looked very hard 
at Mr. Fuzzybell. Mr. Fuzzybell was a quiet, 
tame old gentleman, who followed his wife’s heels 
about wherever she went; but even he, when 
attacked in this way, became very fierce, and 
looked back at Mr. Maguire quite as severely as 
Mr. Maguire looked at him. 

4 ‘ Or of his,” continued Mr. Maguire; 44 and 
therefore far be it from me to think hardly of the 
amusements of other people. But when this gen¬ 
tleman tells me that his excellent parent warned 
him against the fascination of cards, I cannot but 
ask him to remember those precepts to his dying 
bed.” 

44 1 won’t say what I may do later in life,” said 
Mr. Rubb. 

£4 When he becomes like you and me, Mrs. 
Fuzzybell,” said Miss Todd. 

44 When one does get older,” said Mr. Rubb. 

VOL. I. Q 


226 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ And has succeeded in throwing off all deco¬ 
rum,” said Miss Todd. 

“ How can you say such things?” asked Miss 
Baker, who was shocked by the tenor of the 
conversation. 

“It isn’t I, my dear; it’s Mr. Rubb and Mr. 
Maguire, between them. One says he has thrown 
off all decorum, and the other declares himself 
to be a mass of iniquity. What are two 
poor old ladies like you and I to do in such 
company ?” 

Miss Mackenzie, when she heard Mr. Maguire 
declare himself to be a running sore, was even 
more angry with him than with Mr. Bubb. He, 
at any rate, should have known better. After 
all, was not Mr. Ball better than either of them, 
though his head was bald and his face worn with 
that solemn, sad look of care which always per¬ 
vaded him ? 

In the course of the evening she found herself 
seated apart from the general company, with Mr. 
Maguire beside her. The eye that did not squint 
was towards her, and he made an effort to 
be agreeable to her that was not altogether in¬ 
effectual* 

“ Does not society sometimes make you very 
sad ?” he said. 

Society had made her sad to-night, and she 
answered him in the affirmative. 




MISS TODD ENTERTAINS SOME FRIENDS. 227 

“ It seems that people are so little desirous to 
make other people happy,” she replied. 

“ It was just that idea that was passing 
through my own mind. Men and women are 
anxious to give you the best they have, but it 
is in order that you may admire their wealth 
or their taste; and they strive to be witty, 
amusing, and sarcastic; but that, again, is for the 
eclat they are to gain. How few really struggle 
to make those around them comfortable!” 

“ It comes, I suppose, from people having such 
different tastes,” said Miss Mackenzie, who, on 
looking round the room, thought that the people 
assembled there were peculiarly ill assorted. 

44 As for happiness,” continued Mr. Maguire, 
4 4 that is not to be looked for from society. They 
who expect their social hours to be happy hours 
will be grievously disappointed.” 

4 ‘ Are you not happy at Mrs. Stumfold’s ?” 

44 At Mrs. Stumfold’s ? Yes,—sometimes, that 
is; but even there I always seem to want some¬ 
thing. Miss Mackenzie, has it never occurred to 
you that the one thing necessary in this life, the 
one thing,—beyond a hope for the next, you 
know, the one thing is——ah, Miss Mackenzie*, 
what is it ?” 

44 Perhaps you mean a competence,” said Miss 
Mackenzie. 

44 I mean some one to love,” said Mr. Maguire, 

Q2 



228 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


As lie spoke ke looked with all the poetic 
vigour of his better eye full into Miss Mackenzie’s 
face, and Miss Mackenzie, who then could see 
nothing of the other eye, felt the effect of the 
glance somewhat as he intended that she should 
feel it. When a lady who is thinking about 
getting married is asked by a gentleman who is 
frequently in her thoughts whether she does not 
want some one to love, it is natural that she should 
presume that he means to be particular; and it is 
natural also that she should be in some sort 
gratified by that particularity. Miss Mackenzie 
was, I think, gratified, but she did not express 
any such feeling. 

“ Is not that your idea also ?” said he;—“ some 
one to love; is not that the great desideratum here 
below!” And the tone in which he repeated the 
last words was by no means ineffective. 

“ I hope everybody has that,” said she. 

“ I fear not; not anyone to love with a perfect 
love. Who does Miss Todd love ?” 

“ Miss Baker.” 

“ Does she ? And yet they live apart, and rarely 
see each other. They think differently on all 
subjects. That is not the love of which I am 
speaking. And you. Miss Mackenzie, are you 
sure that you love anyone with that perfect all- 
trusting love ?” 

“ I love my niece Susanna best,” said she. 


MISS TODD ENTERTAINS SOME FRIENDS. 229 


“ Your niece, Susanna! She is a sweet child, a 
sweet girl; she has everything to make those 
love her who know her; but-” 

“ You don’t think anything amiss of Susanna, 
Mr. Maguire ?” 

“ Nothing, nothing; heaven forbid, dear child! 
And I think so highly of you for your generosity 
in adopting her.” 

“ I could not do less than take one of them* 
Mr. Maguire.” 

“But I meant a different kind of love from 
that. Do you feel that your regard for your niece 
is sufficient to fill your heart T 

“ It makes me very comfortable.” 

“Does it? Ah! me; I wish I could mak 
myself comfortable.” 

“ I should have thought, seeing you so much 
in Mrs. Stumfold’s house-” 

“ I have the greatest veneration for that woman, 
Miss Mackenzie! I have sometimes thought that 
of all the human beings I have ever met, she is 
the most perfect; she is human, and therefore a 
sinner, but her sins never meet my eyes.” 

Miss Mackenzie, who did not herself regard 
Mrs. Stumfold as being so much better than her 
neighbours, could not receive this with much 
rapture. 

“ But,” continued Mr. Maguire, “ she is as 
cold—as cold—as cold as ice.” 



230 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


As the lady in question was another man’s 
wife, this did not seem to Miss Mackenzie to be 
of much consequence to Mr. Maguire, but she 
allowed him to go on. 

“ Stumfold I don’t think minds it; he is of 
that joyous disposition that all things work to 
good for him. Even when she’s most obdurate 
in her sternness to him-” 

“ Laws ! Mr. Maguire, I did not think she was 
ever stern to him.” .< 

“But she is, very hard. Even then I don’t 
think he minds it much. But, Miss Mackenzie, 
that kind of companion would not do for me at 
all. I think a woman should be soft and soothing, 
like a dove.” 

She did not stop to think whether doves are 
soothing, but she felt that the language was pretty. 

Just at this moment she was summoned by 
Miss Baker, and looking up she perceived that 
Mr. and Mrs. Fuzzybefl were already leaving the 
room. 

“ I don’t know why you need disturb Miss 
Mackenzie,” said Miss Todd, v she has only got 
to go to next door, and she seems very happy 
just now.” 

“■I would sooner go with Miss Baker,” said 
Miss Mackenzie.. 

“ Mr. Maguire would see you home,” suggested 
Miss Todd, 



MISS TODD ENTERTAINS SOME FRIENDS. 231 

But Miss Mackenzie of course went with Miss 
Baker, and Mr. Bubb accompanied them. 

“ Good night, Mr. Bubb,” said Miss Todd; “ and 
don’t make very bad reports of us in London,” 

“ Oh! no ; indeed I won’t.” 

“ For though we do play cards, we still stick to 
decorum, as you must have observed to-night.” 

At Miss Mackenzie’s door there was an almost 
overpowering amount of affectionate farewells. 
Mr. Maguire was there as well as Mr. Bubb, and 
both gentlemen warmly pressed the hand of the 
lady they were leaving. Mr. Bubb was not quite 
satisfied with his evening’s work, because he had 
not been able to get near to Miss Mackenzie; 
but, nevertheless, he was greatly gratified by the 
general manner in which he had been received, 
and was much pleased with Littlebath and its 
inhabitants. Mr. Maguire, as he walked home 
by himself, assured himself that he might as well 
now put the question; he had been thinking about 
it for the last two months, and had made up his 
mind that matrimony would be good for him. 

Miss Mackenzie, as she went to bed, told her¬ 
self that she might have a husband if she pleased ; 
but then, which should it be ? Mr. Bubb’s man¬ 
ners were very much against him; but of Mr. 
Maguire’s eye she had caught a gleam as he 
turned from her on the door-steps, which made her 
think of that alliance with dismay. 


232 


CHAPTEE XII. 

MRS. STUMFOLD INTERFERES. 

On the morning following Miss Todd’s tea-party, 
Mr. Rubb called on Miss Mackenzie and bade her 
adieu. He was, he said, going np to London at 
once, haying received a letter which made his 
presence there imperative. Miss Mackenzie 
could, of course, do no more than simply say 
good-bye to him. But when she had said so he 
did not even then go at once. He was standing 
with his hat in hand, and had bade her farewell; 
but still he did not go. He had something to say, 
and she stood there trembling, half fearing what 
the nature of that something might be. 

“ I hope I may see you again before long,” he 
said at last. 

“ I hope you may,” she replied. 

“ Of course I shall. After all that’s come and 
gone, I shall think nothing of running down, if it 
were only to make a morning call.” 

64 Pray don’t do that, Mr. Rubb.” 


MRS. STUMFOLD INTERFERES. 


233 


“I shall, as a matter of course. But in spite 
of that, Miss Mackenzie, I can’t go away without 
saying another word about the money. I can’t, 
indeed.” 

“ There needn’t be any more about that, Mr. 
Rubb.” 

“ But there must be, Miss Mackenzie; there 
must, indeed; at least, so much as this. I know 
I’ve done wrong about that money.” 

“ Don’t talk about it. If I choose to lend it to 
my brother and you without security, there’s 
nothing very uncommon in that.” 

“No; there aint; at least perhaps there aint. 
Though as far as I can see, brothers and sisters 
out in the world are mostly as hard to each other 
where money is concerned as other people. But 
the thing is, you didn’t mean to lend it without 
security.” 

“ I’m quite contented as it is.” 

“ And I did wrong about it all through; I 
feel it so that I can’t tell you. I do, indeed. But 
I’ll never rest till that money is paid back again. 
I never will.” 

Then, having said that, he went away. When 
early on the preceding evening he had put on 
bright yellow gloves, making himself smart before 
the eyes of the lady of his love, it must be presumed 
that he did so with some hope of success. In that 
hope he was altogether betrayed. When he came 


234 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


and confessed Ms fraud about the money, it must be 
supposed that in doing so he felt that he was 
lowering himself in the estimation of her whom he 
desired to win for his wife. But, had he only 
known it, he thereby took the most efficacious 
step towards winning her esteem. The gloves 
had been nearly fatal to him; but those words— 
“ I feel it so that I can’t tell you,” redeemed the 
evil that the gloves had done. He went away, 
however, saying nothing more then, and failing to 
strike while the iron was hot. 

Some six weeks after this Mrs. Stumfold called 
on Miss Mackenzie, making a most important 
visit. But it should be first explained, before 
the nature of that visit is described, that Miss 
Mackenzie had twice been to Mrs. Stumfold’s 
house since the evening of Miss Todd’s party, 
drinking tea there on both occasions, and had 
twice met Mr. Maguire. On the former occasion 
they two had had some conversation, but it had 
been of no great moment. He had spoken nothing 
then of the pleasures of love, nor had he made 
any allusion to the dovelike softness of women. 
On the second meeting he had seemed to keep 
aloof from her altogether, and she had begun to 
tell herself that that dream was over, and to scold 
herself for having dreamed at all;—when he came 
up close behind and whispered a word in her 
ear. 


MRS. STUMFOLD INTERFERES. 


235 


“ You know,” he said “ how much I would wish 
to be with you, but I can’t now.” 

She had been startled, and had turned round, 
and had found herself close to his dreadful eye. 
She had never been so close to it before, and it 
frightened her. Then again he came to her just 
before she left, and spoke to her in the same 
mysterious way: 

“ I will see you in a day or two,” he said, “ but 
never mind nowand then he walked away. 
She had not spoken a word to him, nor did she 
speak a word to him that evening. 

Miss Mackenzie had never before seen Mrs. 
Stum fold since her first visit of ceremony, except 
in that lady’s drawing-room, and was surprised 
when she heard the name announced. It was an 
understood thing that Mrs. Stumfold did not call 
on the Stumfoldians unless she had some great 
and special reason for doing so,—-unless some 
erring sister required admonishing, or the course 
of events in the life of some Stumfoldian might 
demand special advice. I do not know that any 
edict of this kind had actually been pronounced, 
but Miss Mackenzie, though she had not yet been 
twelve months in Littlebath, knew that this 
arrangement was generally understood to exist. 
It was plain to be seen by the lady’s face, as she 
entered the room, that some special cause had 
brought her now. It wore none of those pretty 


236 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


smiles with which morning callers greet their 
friends before they begin their first gentle attempts 
at miscellaneous conversation. It was true that 
she gave her hand to Miss Mackenzie, but she did 
even this with austerity; and when she seated 
herself,—not on the sofa as she was invited to do, 
but on one of the square, hard, straight-backed 
chairs,—Miss Mackenzie knew well that pleasant¬ 
ness was not to be the order of the morning. 

u My dear Miss Mackenzie,” said Mrs. Stum¬ 
fold, “ I hope you will pardon me if I express 
much tender solicitude for your welfare.” 

Miss Mackenzie was so astonished at this mode 
of address, and at the tone in which it was uttered, 
that she made no reply to it. The words them¬ 
selves had in them an intention of kindness, but 
the voice and look of the lady were, if kind, at 
any rate not tender. 

ie You came among us,” continued Mrs. Stum¬ 
fold, “ and became one of us, and we have been 
glad to welcome you.” 

“ I’m sure I’ve been much obliged.” 

“We are always glad to welcome those who 
come among us in a proper spirit. Society with 
me, Miss Mackenzie, is never looked upon as an 
end in itself. It is only a means to an end. No 
woman regards society more favourably than I do. 
I think it offers to us one of the most efficacious 
means of spreading true gospel teaching. With 


MRS. STUMFOLD INTERFERES. 


237 


these views I have always thought it right to 
open my house in a spirit, as I hope, of humble 
hospitality ;—and Mr. Stumfold is of the same 
opinion. Holding these views, we have been 
delighted to see you among us, and, as I have 
said already, to welcome you as one of us.” 

There was something in this so awful that Miss 
Mackenzie hardly knew how to speak, or let it 
pass without speaking. Having a spirit of her 
own she did not like being told that she had been, 
as it were, sat upon and judged, and then admitted 
into Mrs. Stumfold’s society as a child may be 
admitted into a school after an examination. And 
yet on the spur of the moment she could not 
think what words might be appropriate for her 
answer. She sat silent, therefore, and Mrs. Stum¬ 
fold again went on. 

“I trust that you will acknowledge that we 
have shown our good will towards you, our desire 
to cultivate a Christian friendship with you, and 
that you will therefore excuse me if I ask you a 
question which might otherwise have the appear¬ 
ance of interference. Miss Mackenzie, is there 
anything between you and my husband’s curate, 
Mr. Maguire?” 

Miss Mackenzie’s face became suddenly as red 
as fire, but for a moment or two she made no 
answer. I do not know whether I may as yet 
have succeeded in making the reader understand 


238 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


the strength as well as the weakness of my 
heroine’s character; but Mrs. Stumfold had cer¬ 
tainly not succeeded in perceiving it. She was 
accustomed probably, to weak, obedient women,— 
to women who had taught themselves to believe 
that submission to Stumfoldian authority was a 
sign of advanced Christianity; and in the mild- 
looking, quiet-mannered lady who had lately come 
among them, she certainly did not expect to en¬ 
counter a rebel. But on such matters as that to 
which the female hierarch of Littlebath was now 
alluding, Miss Mackenzie was not by nature 
adapted to be submissive. 

“ Is there anything between you and Mr. 
Maguire?” said Mrs. Stumfold again. “I parti¬ 
cularly wish to have a plain answer to that 
question.” 

Miss Mackenzie, as I have said, became very 
red in the face. When it was repeated, she found 
herself obliged to speak. “ Mrs. Stumfold, I do 
not know that you have any right to ask me such 
a question as that.” 

“ No right! No right to ask a lady who sits 
under Mr. Stumfold whether or no she is engaged 
to Mr. Stumfold’s own curate! Think again of 
what you are saying, Miss Mackenzie!” And 
there was in Mrs. Stumfold’s voice as she spoke 
an expression of offended majesty, and in her 
countenance a look of awful authority* sufficient 


MRS. STUMFOLD INTERFERES. 


239 


no doubt to bring most Stumfoldian ladies to 
their bearings. 

“You said nothing about being engaged to 
him.” 

“ Oh, Miss Mackenzie!” 

“You said nothing about being engaged to 
him; but if you had I should have made the 
same answer. You asked me if there was any¬ 
thing between me and him; and I think it was a 
very offensive question.” 

“ Offensive ! I am afraid, Miss Mackenzie, 
you have not your spirit subject to a proper con¬ 
trol. I have come here in all kindness to warn 
you against danger, and you tell me that I am 
offensive! What am I to think of you ?” 

“ You have no right to connect my name with 
any gentleman’s. You can’t have any right 
merely because I go to Mr. Stumfold’s church. 
It’s quite preposterous. If I went to Mr. Paul’s 
church ”—Mr. Paul was a very High Church young 
clergyman who had wished to have candles in his 
church, and of whom it was asserted that he did 
keep a pair of candles on an inverted box in a 
closet inside his bedroom;—“if I went to Mr. 
Paul’s church, might his wife, if he had one, come 
and ask me all manner of questions like that ?” 

Now Mr. Paul’s name stank in the nostrils of 
Mrs. Stumfold. He was to her the thing accursed. 
Had Miss Mackenzie quoted the Pope, or Cardinal 



240 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


Wiseman, or even Dr. Newman, it would not have 
been so bad. Mrs. Stumfold had once met Mr. 
Paul, and called him to his face the most abject 
of all the slaves of the scarlet woman. To this 
courtesy Mr. Paul, being a good-humoured and 
somewhat sportive young man, had replied that 
she was another. Mrs. Stumfold had interpreted the 
gentleman’s meaning wrongly, and had ever since 
gnashed with her teeth and fired great guns with 
her eyes whenever Mr. Paul was named within 
her hearing. “ Ribald ruffian,” she had once said 
of him; “but that he thinks his priestly rags pro¬ 
tect him, he would not have dared to insult me.” 
It was said that she had complained to Stumfold; 
but Mr. Stnmfold’s sacerdotal clothing, whether 
ragged or whole, prevented him also from inter¬ 
fering, and nothing further of a personal nature 
had occurred between the opponents. 

But Miss Mackenzie, who certainly was a 
Stumfoldian by her own choice, should not have 
used the name. She probably did not know the 
whole truth as to that passage of arms between 
Mr. Paul and Mrs. Stumfold, but she did know 
that no name in Littlebath was so odious to the 
lady as that of the rival clergyman. 

“Very well, Miss Mackenzie,” said she, speak¬ 
ing loudly in her wrath; “ then let me tell you 
that you will come by your ruin;—yes, by your 
ruin. You poor, unfortunate woman, you are 


MRS. STUMFOLD INTERFERES. 241 

unfit to guide your own steps, and will not take 
counsel from those who are able to put you in the 
right way!” 

“ How shall I be rained ?” said Miss Mackenzie, 
jumping up from her seat. 

“ How ? Yes. Now you want to know. After 
haying insulted me in return for my kindness in 
coming to you, you ask me questions. If I tell 
you how, no doubt you will insult me again.” 

“ I haven’t insulted you, Mrs. Stumfold. And 
if you don’t like to tell me, you needn’t. I’m 
sure I did not want you to come to me and talk 
in this way.” 

“Want me! Who ever does want to be re¬ 
proved for their own folly ? I suppose what you 
want is to go on and marry that man, who may 
have two or three other wives for what you know, 
and put yourself and your money into the hands 
of a person whom you never saw in your life 
above a few months ago, and of whose former 
life you literally know nothing. Tell the truth, 
Miss Mackenzie, isn’t that what you desire to 
do ?” 

“ I find him acting as Mr. Stumfold’s curate.” 

“ Yes; and when I come to warn you, you in¬ 
sult me. He is Mr. Stumfold’s curate, and in 
many respects he is well fitted for his office.” 

“ But has he two or three wives already, Mrs. 
Stumfold ?” 

VOL. I. R 




242 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


44 I never said that he had.” 

“I thought yon hinted it.” 

“ I never hinted it, Miss Mackenzie. If you 
would only be a little more careful in the things 
which you allow yourself to say, it would be 
better for yourself; and better for me too, while 
I am with you.” 

44 I declare you said something about two or 
three wives ; and if there is anything of that kind 
true of a gentleman and a clergyman, I don’t think 
he ought to be allowed to go about as a single 
gentleman. I mean as a curate. Mr. Maguire 
i$ nothing to me,—nothing whatever; and I don’t 
§ee why I should have been mixed up with him; 
but if there is anything of that sort-” 

44 But there isn’t.” 

44 Then, Mrs. Stumfold, I don’t think you ought 
to have mentioned two or three wives. I don’t, in¬ 
deed. It is such a horrid idea,—quite horrid! And 
I suppose, after all, the poor man has not got one ?” 

44 If you had allowed me, I should have told 
you all, Miss Mackenzie. Mr. Maguire is not 
married, and never has been married, as far as I 
know.” 

44 Then I do think what you said of him was 
very cruel.” 

44 1 said nothing ; as you would have known, 
only you are so hot. Miss Mackenzie, you quite 
astonish me; you do, indeed. I had expected to 



MRS. STUMFOLD INTERFERES. 


243 


find you temperate and calm ; instead of that, you 
are so impetuous, that you will not listen to a 
word. When it first came to my ears that there 
might be something between you and Mr. 
Maguire-” 

“ I will not be told about something. What 
does something mean, Mrs. Stumfold ?” 

“When I was told of this,” continued Mrs, 
Stumfold, determined that she would not be 
stopped any longer by Miss Mackenzie’s energy; 
“ when I was told of this, and, indeed, I may say 
saw it-” 

“You never saw anything, Mrs. Stumfold.” 

“ I immediately perceived that it was my duty 
to come to you; to come to you and tell you that 
another lady has a prior claim upon Mr. Maguire’s 
hand and heart.” 

“Oh, indeed.” 

“ Another young lady,”—with an emphasis on 
the word young,—“whom he first met at my 
house, who was introduced to him by me,—a 
young lady not above thirty years of age, and 
quite suitable in every way to be Mr. Maguire’s 
wife. She may not have quite so much 
money as you; but she has a fair provision, and 
money is not everything; a lady in every way 
suitable-” 

“But is this suitable young lady, who is only 
thirty years of age, engaged to him f ’ 

K 2 




244 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ I presume, Miss Mackenzie, that in speaking 
to you, I am speaking to a lady who would not 
wish to interfere with another lady who has been 
before her. I do hope that you cannot be in¬ 
different to the ordinary feelings of a female 
Christian on that subject. What would you think 
if you were interfered with, though, perhaps, as 
you had not your fortune in early life, you may 
never have known what that was.” 

This was too much even for Miss Mackenzie. 

“ Mrs. Stumfold,” she said, again rising from 
her seat, “ I won’t talk about this any more with 
you. Mr. Maguire is nothing to me; and, as far 
as I can see, if he was, that would be nothing to 
you.” 

“ But it would;—a great deal.” 

“ No, it wouldn’t. You may say what you 
like to him, though, for the matter of that, I think 
it a very indelicate thing for a lady to go about 
raising such questions at all. But perhaps you 
have known him a long time, and I have nothing 
to do with what you and he choose to talk about. 
If he is behaving bad to any friend of yours, go 
and tell him so. As for me, I won’t hear any¬ 
thing more about it.” 

As Miss Mackenzie continued to stand, Mrs. 
Stumfold was forced to stand also, and soon after¬ 
wards found herself compelled to go away. She 
had, indeed, said all that she had come to say, and? 


MRS. STUMFOLD INTERFERES. 


245 


though she would willingly have repeated it again 
had Miss Mackenzie been submissive, she did not 
find herself encouraged to do so by the rebellious 
nature of the lady she was visiting. 

“ I have meant well, Miss Mackenzie,” she said 
as she took her leave, “ and I hope that I shall 
see you just the same as ever on my Thurs¬ 
days.” 

To this Miss Mackenzie made answer only by 
a curtsey, and then Mrs. Stumfold went her way. 

Miss Mackenzie, as soon as she was left to 
herself, began to cry. If Mrs. Stumfold could 
have seen her, how it would have soothed and 
rejoiced that lady’s ruffled spirit! Miss Mackenzie 
would sooner have died than have wept in Mrs. 
Stumfold’s presence, but no sooner was the front 
door closed than she began. To have been at¬ 
tacked at all in that way would have been too much 
for her, but to have been called old and unsuitable, 
—for that was, in truth, the case; to hear herself 
accused of being courted solely for her money, 
and that when in truth she had not been courted 
at all; to have been informed that a lover for her 
must have been impossible in those days when 
she had no money!—was not all this enough to 
make her cry ? And then, was it the truth that 
Mr. Maguire ought to marry some one else ? If 
so, she was the last woman in Littlebath to inter¬ 
fere between him and that other one. But how 


246 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


was she to know that this was not some villany 
on the part of Mrs. Stnmfold? She felt sure, 
after what she had now seen and heard, that 
nothing in that way would be too bad for Mrs. 
Stumfold to say or do. She never would go to 
Mrs. Stumfold’s house again; that was a matter 
of course; but what should she do about Mr. 
Maguire? Mr. Maguire might never speak to 
her in the way of affection,—probably never 
would do so; that she could bear; but how was 
she to bear the fact that every Stumfoldian in 
Littlebath would know all about it? On one 
thing she finally resolved, that if ever Mr. 
Maguire spoke to her on the subject, she would 
tell him everything that had occurred. After 
that she cried herself to sleep. 

On that afternoon she felt herself to be very 
desolate and much in want of a friend. When 
Susanna came back from school in the evening 
she was almost more desolate than before. She 
could say nothing of her troubles to one so young, 
nor yet could she shake off the thought of them. 
She had been bold enough while Mrs. Stum fold 
had been with her, but now that she was alone, or 
almost worse than alone, having Susanna with 
her,—now that the reaction had come, she began 
to tell herself that a continuation of this solitary 
life would be impossible to her. How was she to 
live if she was to be trampled upon in this way ? 




MRS. STUMFOLD INTERFERES. 


247 


Was it not almost necessary that she should leave 
Littlebath ? And yet if she were to leave Little- 
bath, whither should she go, and how should she 
muster courage to begin everything over again ? 
If only it had been given her to have one friend, 
—one female friend to whom she could have told 
everything! She thought of Miss Baker, but Miss 
Baker was a stanch Stumfoldian; and what did 
she know of Miss Baker that gave her any right 
to trouble Miss Baker on such a subject? She 
would almost rather have gone to Miss Todd, if 
she had dared. 

She laid awake crying half the night. Nothing 
of the kind had ever occurred to her before. No 
one had ever accused her of any impropriety; no 
one had ever thrown it in her teeth that she was 
longing after fruit that ought to be forbidden to 
her. In her former obscurity 'and dependence 
she had been safe. Now that she had begun to 
look about her and hope for joy in the world, she 
had fallen into this terrible misfortune ! Would it 
not have been better for her to have married her 
cousin John Ball, and thus have had a clear course 
of duty marked oiit for her ? Would it not have 
been better for h et even to have married Harry 
Handcock than to have come to this misery? 
What good would her money do her, if the world 
was to treat her in this Way ? 

And then, was it true ? Was it the fact that 


■248 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


Mr. Maguire was ill-treating some other woman 
in order that he might get her money ? In all 
her misery she remembered that Mrs. Stumfold 
would not commit herself to any such direct 
assertion, and she remembered also that Mrs. 
Stumfold had especially insisted on her own part 
of the grievance,—on the fact that the suitable 
young lady had been met by Mr. Maguire in her 
drawing-room. As to Mr. Maguire himself, she 
could reconcile herself to the loss of him. Indeed 
she had never yet reconciled herself to the idea 
of taking him. But she could not endure to think 
that Mrs. Stumfold’s interference should prevail, 
or, worse still, that other people should have 
supposed it to prevail. 

The next day was Thursday,—one of Mrs. 
Stumfold’s Thursdays,—and in the course of the 
morning Miss Baker came to her, supposing that, 
as a matter of course, she would go to the 
meeting. 

“Not to-night, Miss Baker,” said she. 

“Not going ! and why not?” 

“ I’d rather not go out to-night. 

“Dear me, how odd. I thought you always 
went to Mrs. Stumfold. There’s nothing wrong I 
hope ?” 

Then Miss Mackenzie could not restrain herself, 
and told Miss Baker everything. And she told 
her story, not with whines and lamentations, as 


MRS. STUMFOLD INTERFERES. 


249 


she had thought of it herself while lying awake 
during the past night, but with spirited indigna 
tion. “ What right had she to come to me and 
accuse me ?” 

“I suppose she meant it for the best/’ said 
Miss Baker. 

“ No, Miss Baker, she meant it for the worst. 
I am sorry to speak so of your friend, but I must 
speak as I find her. She intended to insult me. 
Why did she tell me of my age and my money ? 
Have I made myself out to be young ? or misbe¬ 
haved myself with the means which Providence 
has given me ? And as to the gentleman, have I 
ever conducted myself so as to merit reproach ? 
I don’t know that I was ever ten minutes in his 
company that you were not there also.” 

“It was the last accusation I should have 
brought against you,” whimpered Miss Baker. 

“ Then why has she treated me in this way ? 
What right have I given her to be my adviser, 
because I go to her husbands church? Mr. 
Maguire is my friend, and it might have come to 
that, that he should be my husband. Is there any 
sin in that, that I should be rebuked ?” 

“ It was for the other lady’s sake, perhaps.” 

“ Then let her go to the other lady, or to him. 
She has forgotten herself in coming to me, and 
she shall know that I think so.” 

Miss Baker, when she left the Paragon, felt for 



250 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


Miss Mackenzie more of respect and more of 
esteem also than she had ever felt before But 
Miss Mackenzie, when she was left alone, went 
up-stairs, threw herself on her bed, and was again 
dissolved in tears. 



251 


CHAPTER XIII. 

mr. maguire’s courtship. 

After the scene between Miss Mackenzie and 
Miss Baker more than a week passed by before 
Miss Mackenzie saw any of her Littlebath friends; 
or, as she called them with much sadness when 
speaking of them to herself, her Littlebath ac¬ 
quaintances. Friends, or friend, she had none. 
It was a slow, heavy week with her, and it 
is hardly too much to say that every hour in it 
was spent in thinking of the attack which Mrs. 
Stumfold had made upon her. When the first 
Sunday came, she went to church, and saw there 
Miss Baker, and Mrs. Stumfold, and Mr. Stumfold 
and Mr. Maguire. She saw, indeed, many Stum- 
foldians, but it seemed that their eyes looked at 
her harshly, and she was quite sure that the coach- 
maker’s wife treated her with marked incivility 
as they left the porch together. Miss Baker had 
frequently waited for her on Sunday mornings, 
and walked the length of two streets with her; 


252 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


but she encountered no Miss Baker near the 
church gate on this morning, and she was sure that 
Mrs. Stumfold had prevailed against her. If it 
was to be thus with her, had she not better leave 
Littlebath as soon as possible ? In the same 
solitude she lived the whole of the next week; 
with the same feelings did she go to church on 
the next Sunday; and then again was she mal¬ 
treated by the up-turned nose and half-averted 
eyes of the coachmaker’s wife. 

Life such as this would be impossible to her. 
Let any of my readers think of it, and then 
tell themselves whether it could be possible. 
Mariana’s solitude in the moated grange was as 
nothing to hers. In granges, and such like rural 
retreats, people expect solitude; but Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie had gone to Littlebath to find companion¬ 
ship. Had she been utterly disappointed, and 
found none, that would have been bad; but she 
had found it and then lost it. Mariana, in her 
desolateness was still waiting for the coming of 
some one; and so was Miss Mackenzie waiting, 
though she hardly knew for whom. For me, if 
I am to live in a moated grange, let it be in 
the country. Moated granges in the midst of 
populous towns are very terrible. 

But on the Monday morning,—the morning of 
the second Monday after the Stumfoldian attack, 
—Mr. Maguire came, and Mariana’s weariness 


mr. maguire’s courtship. 253 

was, for tlie time, at an end. Susanna had 
hardly gone, and the breakfast things were still 
on the table, when the maid brought her up word 
that Mr. Maguire was below, and would see her if 
she would allow him to come up. She had heard 
no ring at the bell, and having settled herself with 
a novel in the arm-chair, had almost ceased for 
the moment to think of Mr. Maguire or of Mrs. 
Stumfold. There was something so sudden in the 
request now made to her, that it took away her 
breath. 

“ Mr. Maguire, miss, the clergyman from Mr. 
Stumfold’s church,” said the girl again. 

It was necessary that she should give an 
answer, though she was ever so breathless. 

“ Ask Mr. Maguire to walk up,” she said; and 
then she began to bethink herself how she would 
behave to him. 

He was there, however, before her thoughts 
were of much service to her, and she began by 
apologizing for the breakfast things. 

“It is I that ought to beg your pardon for 
coming so early,” said he; “ but my time at 
present is so occupied that I hardly know how to 
find half an hour for myself; and I thought you 
would excuse me.” 

“ Oh, certainly,” said she; and then sitting 
down, she waited for him to begin. 

It would have been clear to any observer, had 


254 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


there been one present, that Mr. Maguire had 
practised his lesson. He could not rid himself of 
those unmistakable signs of preparation which 
every speaker shows when he has been guilty of 
them. But this probably did not matter with 
Miss Mackenzie, who was too intent on the part 
she herself had to play to notice his imperfections. 

“ I saw that you observed, Miss Mackenzie,” 
he said, “ that I kept aloof from you on the two 
last evenings on which I met you at Mrs. Stum- 
fold’s.” 

“ That’s a long time ago, Mr. Maguire,” she 
answered. “ It’s nearly a month since I went to 
Mrs. Stumfold’s house.” 

“ I know that you were not there on the last 
Thursday. I noticed it. I could not fail to notice 
it. Thinking so much of you as I do, of course I 
did notice it. Might I ask you why you did not 
go?” 

“I’d rather not say anything about it,” she 
replied, after a pause. 

“ Then there has been some reason ? Dear 

Miss Mackenzie, I can assure you I do not ask 

vou without a cause.” 

«/ 

“If you please, I will not speak upon that 
subject. I had much rather not, indeed, Mr. 
Maguire.” 

“ And shall I not have the pleasure of seeing 
you there on next Thursday?” 


mr. maguire’s courtship. 255 

“ Certainly not.” 

“Then you have quarrelled with her, Miss 
Mackenzie ?” 

He said nothing now of the perfections of that 
excellent woman, of whom, not long since, he had 
spoken in terms almost too strong for any simply 
human virtues. 

“I’d rather not speak of it. It can’t do any 
good. I don’t know why you should ask me 
whether I intend to go there any more, but as you 
have, I have answered you.” 

Then Mr. Maguire got up from his chair, and 
walked about the room, and Miss Mackenzie, 
watching him closely, could see that he was much 
moved. But, nevertheless, I think he had made 
up his mind to walk about the room beforehand. 
After a while he paused, and, still standing, spoke 
to her again across the table. 

“May I ask you this question? Has Mrs. 
Stumfold said anything to you about me ?” 

“ I’d rather not talk about Mrs. Stumfold.” 

“ But, surely, I may ask that, I don’t think 
you are the woman to allow anything said behind 
a person’s back to be received to his detriment.” 

“Whatever one does hear about people one 
always hears behind their backs.” 

“ Then she has told you something, and you 
have believed it ?” 

She felt herself to be so driven by him that she 


256 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


did not know how to protect herself. It seemed 
to her that these clerical people of Littlebath had 
very little regard for the feelings of others in their 
modes of following their own pursuits. 

“ She has told you something of me, and you 
have believed her?” repeated Mr. Maguire. 
“ Have I not a right to ask you what she has 
said ?” 

“ You have no right to ask me anything.” 

“ Have I not, Miss Mackenzie ? Surely that is 
hard. Is it not hard that I should be stabbed in 
the dark, and have no means of redressing myself ? 
I did not expect such an answer from you;—indeed 
I did not.” 

“ And is not it hard that I should be troubled 
in this way ? You talk of stabbing. Who has 
stabbed you ? Is it not your own particular friend, 
whom you described to me as the best person in all 
the world ? If you and she fall out, why should 
I be brought into it ? Once for all, Mr. Maguire, 
I won’t be brought into it.” 

Now he sat down, and again paused before he 
went on with his task. 

“ Miss Mackenzie,” he said, when he did speak, 
“ I had not intended to be so abrupt as I fear you 
will think me in that which I am about to say; 
but I believe you will like plain measures best.” 

“ Certainly I shall, Mr. Maguire.” 

“ They are the best, always. If, then, I am plain 


mr. maguire’s courtship. 


257 


with you, will you be plain with me also ? I think 
you must guess what it is I have to say to you.” 

“ I hate guessing anything, Mr. Maguire.” 

“ Very well; then I will be plain. We have 
now known each other for nearly a year, Miss 
Mackenzie.” 

“ A year, is it ? No, not a year. This is the 
beginning of June, and I did not come here till 
the end of last August. It’s about nine months, 
Mr. Maguire.” 

“ Very well; nine months. Nine months may 
be as nothing in an acquaintance, or it may lead 
to the closest friendship.” 

<c I don’t know that we have met so very often. 
You have the parish to attend to, Mr. Maguire.” 

“ Of course I have;—or rather I had, for I 
have left Mr. Stumfold.” 

“ Left Mr. Stumfold! Why, I heard you preach 
yesterday.” 

“ I did preach yesterday, and shall till he has 
got another assistant. But he and I are parted 
as regards all friendly connection.” 

“ But isn’t that a pity ?” 

“ Miss Mackenzie, I don’t mind telling you that 
I have found it impossible to put up with the im¬ 
pertinence of that woman;”—and now, as he 
spoke, there came a distorted fire out of his im¬ 
perfect eye ;—“ impossible! If you knew what I 
have gone through in attempting it! But that’s 

VOL. i s 


258 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


over. I have the greatest respect for him in the 
world; a very thorough esteem. He is a hard¬ 
working man, and though I do not always ap¬ 
prove the style of his wit,—of which, by-the-bye, 
he thinks too much himself,—still, I acknowledge 
him to be a good spiritual pastor. But he has 
been unfortunate in his marriage. No doubt 
he has got money, but money is not everything.” 

“ Indeed, it is not, Mr. Maguire.” 

“How he can live in the same house with that 
Mr. Peters, I can never understand. The quarrels 
between him and his daughter are so incessant 
that poor Mr. Stumfold is unable to conceal them 
from the public.” 

“ But you have spoken so highly of her.” 

“ I have endeavoured. Miss Mackenzie,—I have 
endeavoured to think well of her. I have striven 
to believe that it was all gold that I saw. But 
let that pass. I was forced to tell you that I am 
going to leave Mr. Stumfold’s church, or I should 
not now have spoken about her or him. And now 
comes the question. Miss Mackenzie.” 

“ What is the question, Mr. Maguire ?” 

‘ 4 Miss Mackenzie,—Margaret, will you share 
your lot with mine? It is true that you have 
money. It is true that I have none,-—not even a 
curacy now. But I don’t think that any such 
consideration as that would weigh with you for a 
moment, if you can find it in your heart to love me.” 



mr. maguire’s courtship. 


259 


Miss Mackenzie sat thinking for some minutes 
before she gave her answer,—or striving to think; 
but she was so completely under the terrible fire 
of his eye, that any thought was very difficult. 

“I am not quite sure about that,” she said after 
a while. “I think, Mr. Maguire, that there should 
be a little money on both sides. You would 
hardly wish to live altogether on your wife’s 
fortune.” 

“ I have my profession,” he replied, quickly. 

“Yes, certainly; and a noble profession it is; 
—the most noble,” said she. 

“ Yes, indeed; the most noble.” 

“But somehow-” 

“You mean that clergymen are not paid as 
they should be. No, they are not, Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie. And is it not a shame for a Christian 
country like this that it should be so ? But still, 
as a profession, it has its value. Look at Mrs. 
Stumfold; where would she be if she were not a 
clergyman’s wife? The position has its value. 
A clergyman’s wife is received everywhere, you 
know.” 

“A man before he talks of marriage ought 
to have something of his own, Mr. Maguire; be¬ 
sides——” 

“ Besides what ?” 

“Well, I’ll tell you. As you have done me 
this honour, I think that I am now bound to tell 

s 2 



260 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


you wliat Mrs. Stumfold said to me. She had no 
right to connect my name with yours or with that 
of any other gentleman, and my quarrel with her 
is about that. As to what she said about you, 
that is your affair and not mine.” 

Then she told him the whole of that conversa¬ 
tion which was given in the last chapter, not 
indeed repeating the hint about the three or four 
wives, but recapitulating as clearly as she could 
all that had been said about the suitable young 
lady. 

“I knew it,” said he; “I knew it. I knew it 
as well as though I had heard it. Now what am 
I to think of that woman, Miss Mackenzie ?” 

“ Of which woman ?” 

“Of Mrs. Stumfold, of course. It’s all jealousy: 
every bit of it jealous} 7 .” 

“Jealousy! Do you mean that she—that she 


“ Not jealousy of that kind, Miss Mackenzie. 
Oh dear, no. She’s as pure as the undriven snow, 
I should say, as far as that goes. But she can’t 
bear to think that I should rise in the world.” 

“ I thought she wanted to marry you to a suit¬ 
able lady, and young, with a fair provision.” 

“Pslia! The lady has about seventy pounds 
a-year! But that would signify nothing if I loved 
her, Miss Mackenzie.” 

“ There has been something, then ?” 



mr. maguire’s courtship. 261 

“Yes; there has been something. That is, 
nothing of my doing;—nothing on earth. Miss 
Mackenzie, I’m as innocent as the babe unborn.” 

As he said this she could not help looking into 
the horrors of his eye, and thinking that innocent 
was not the word for him. 

“I’m as innocent as the babe unborn. Why 
should I be expected to marry a lady merely 
because Mrs. Stumfold tells me that there she is? 
And it’s my belief that old Peters has got their 
money somewhere, and won’t give it up, and that 
that’s the reason of it.” 

“But did you ever say you would marry 
her ?” 

“What! Miss Floss, never! I’ll tell you the 
whole story, Miss Mackenzie ; and if you want to 
ask any one else, you can ask Mrs. Perch.” Mrs. 
Perch was the coachbuilder’s wife. “You’ve 
seen Miss Floss at Mrs. Stumfold’s, and must 
know yourself whether I ever noticed her any 
more than to be decently civil.” 

“ Is she the lady that’s so thin and tall ?” 

“Yes.” 

“ With the red hair ?” 

“Well, it’s sandy, certainly. I shouldn’t call 
it just red myself.” 

“ Some people like red hair, you know,” said 
Miss Mackenzie, thinking of the suitable lady. 
Miss Mackenzie was willing at that moment to 


262 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


forfeit all her fortune if Miss Floss was not older 
than she was! 

“ And that is Miss Floss, is it ?” 

“Yes, and I don’t blame Mrs. Stumfold for 
wishing to get a husband for her friend, but it is 
hard upon me.” 

“Eeally, Mr. Maguire, I think that perhaps 
you couldn’t do better.” 

“ Better than what ?” 

“Better than take Miss Floss. As you say, 
some people like red hair. And she is very 
suitable, certainly. And, Mr. Maguire, I really 
shouldn’t like to interfere;—I shouldn’t, indeed.” 

“ Miss Mackenzie, you’re joking, I know.” 

“Not in the least, Mr. Maguire. You see 
there has been something about it.” 

“ There has been nothing.” 

“ There’s never smoke without fire; and I don’t 
think a lady like Mrs. Stumfold would come here 
and tell me all that she did, if [it hadn’t gone 
some way. And you owned just now that you 
admired her.” 

“I never owned anything of the kind. I don’t 
admire her a bit. Admire her! Oh, Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie, what do you think of me ?” 

Miss Mackenzie said that she really didn’t know 
what to think. 

Then, having as he thought altogether disposed 
of Miss Floss, he began again to press his suit. 


mr. maguire’s courtship. 


263 


And she was weak; for though she gave him no 
positive encouragement, neither did she give him 
any positive denial. Her mind was by no means 
made up, and she did not know whether she 
wished to take him or to leave him. Now that 
the thing had come so near, what guarantee had 
she that he would be good to her if she gave him 
everything that she possessed ? As to her cousin 
John Ball, she would have had many guarantees. 
Of him she could say that she knew what sort of 
a man he was; but what did she know of Mr. 
Maguire ? At that moment, as he sat there plead¬ 
ing his own cause with all the eloquence at his 
command, she remembered that she did not even 
know his Christian name. He had always in her 
presence been called Mr. Maguire. How could 
she say that she loved a man whose very name 
she had not as yet heard ? 

But still, if she left all her chances to run from 
her, what other fate would she have but that of 
being friendless all her life ? Of course she must 
risk much if she was ever minded to change her 
mode of life. She had said something to him as 
to the expediency of there being money on both 
sides, but as she said it she knew that she would 
willingly have given up her money could she only 
have been sure of her man. Was not her income 
enough for both? What she wanted was com¬ 
panionship, and love if it might be possible; but 


264 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


if not love, then friendship. This, had she known 
where she eonld purchase it with certainty, she 
would willingly have purchased with all her 
wealth. 

“If I have surprised you, will you say that 
you will take time to think of it ?” pleaded Mr. 
Maguire. 

Miss Mackenzie, speaking in the lowest possible 
voice, said that she would take time to think of it. 

When a lady says that she will take time to think 
of such a proposition, the gentleman is generally 
justified in supposing that he has carried his 
cause. When a lady rejects a suitor, she should 
reject him peremptorily. Anything short of such 
peremptory rejection is taken for acquiescence. 
Mr. Maguire consequently was elated, called her 
Margaret, and swore that he loved her as he had 
never loved woman yet. 

“ And when may I come again?” he asked. 

Miss Mackenzie begged that she might be 
allowed a fortnight to think of it. 

“ Certainly,” said the happy man. 

“And you must not be surprised,” said Miss 
Mackenzie, “ if I make some inquiry about Miss 
Floss.” 

“ Any inquiry you please,” said Mr. Maguire. 
“ It is all in that woman’s brain; it is indeed. 
Miss Floss, perhaps, has thought of it; but I 
can’t help that, can I ? I can’t help what has 




ME. maguiee’s couetship. 265 

been said to her. But if you mean anything as 
to a promise from me, Margaret, on my word as 
a Christian minister of the Gospel, there has been 
nothing of the kind.” 

She did not much mind his calling her Mar¬ 
garet ; it was in itself such a trifle; but when he 
made a fuss about kissing her hand, it annoyed her. 

“ Only your hand,” he said, beseeching the 
privilege. 

“ Psha,” she said, “ what’s the good ?” 

She had sense enough to feel that with such 
love-making as that between her and L her lover 
there should be no kissing till after marriage; or 
at any rate, no kissing of hands, as is done be¬ 
tween handsome young men of twenty-three and 
beautiful young ladies of eighteen, when they sit 
in balconies on moonlight nights. A good honest 
kiss, mouth to mouth, might not be amiss when 
matters were altogether settled; but when she 
thought of this, she thought also of his eye and 
shuddered. His eye was not his fault, and a man 
should not be left all his days without a wife 
because he squints; but still, was it possible ? 
could she bring herself to endure it ? 

He did kiss her hand, however, and then went. 
As he stood at the door he looked back fondly 
and exclaimed— 

“ On Monday fortnight, Margaret; on Monday 
fortnight.” 


266 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ Goodness gracious, Mr. Maguire,” she an¬ 
swered, “ do shut the doorand then he va¬ 
nished. 

As soon as he was gone she remembered that 
his name was Jeremiah. She did not know how 
she had learned it, but she knew that such was 
the fact. If it did come to pass, how was she 
to call him ? She tried the entire word Jeremiah, 
but it did not seem to answer. She tried Jerry 
also, but that was worse. Jerry might have been 
very well had they come together fifteen years 
earlier in life, but she did not think that she 
could call him Jerry now. She supposed it must 
be Mr. Maguire; but if so, half the romance of 
the thing would be gone at once! 

She felt herself to be very much at sea, and 
almost wished that she might be like Mariana 
again, waiting and aweary, so grievous was the 
necessity of having to make up her mind on 
such a subject. To whom should she go 
for advice ? She had told him that she would 
make further inquiries about Miss Floss, but of 
whom was she to make them ? The only person 
to whom she could apply was Miss Baker, and 
she was almost sure that Miss Baker would 
despise her for thinking of marrying Mr. Maguire. 

But after a day or two she did tell Miss Baker, 
and she saw at once that Miss Baker did despise 
her. But Miss Baker, though she manifestly did 


mr. maguire’s courtship. 


267 


despise her, promised her some little aid. Miss 
Todd knew everything and everybody. Might 
Miss Baker tell Miss Todd ? If there was any¬ 
thing wrong, Miss Todd would ferret it out to a 
certainty. Miss Mackenzie, hanging down her 
head, said that Miss Baker might tell Miss Todd. 
Miss Baker, when she left Miss Mackenzie, turned 
at once into Miss Todd’s house, and found her 
friend at home. 

“ It surprises me that any woman should be so 
foolish,” said Miss Baker. 

<c Come, come, my dear, don’t you be hard 
upon her. We have all been foolish in our days. 
Bo you remember, when Sir Lionel used to be 
here, how foolish you and I were ?” 

“ It’s not the same thing at all,” said Miss 
Baker. “ Did you ever see a man with such an 
eye as he has got ?” 

“ I shouldn’t mind his eye, my dear; only I’m 
afraid he’s got no money.” 

Miss Todd, however, promised to make in¬ 
quiries, and declared her intention of commu¬ 
nicating what intelligence she might obtain direct 
to Miss Mackenzie. Miss Baker resisted this for 
a little while, but ultimately submitted, as she 
was wont to do, to the stronger character of her 
friend. 

Miss Mackenzie had declared that she must 
have a fortnight to think about it, and Miss 


268 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


Todd therefore knew that she had nearly a fort¬ 
night for her inquiries. The reader may be sure 
that she did not allow the grass to grow under 
her feet. With Miss Mackenzie the time passed 
slowly enough, for she could only sit on her sofa 
and doubt, resolving first one way and then an¬ 
other; but Miss Todd w^ent about Littlebath, 
here and there, among friends and enemies, filling 
up all her time; and before the end of the fort¬ 
night she certainly knew more about Mr. Maguire 
than did anybody else in Littlebath. 

She did not see Miss Mackenzie till the Satur¬ 
day, the last Saturday before the all-important 
Monday; but on that day she went to her. 

u I suppose you know what I’m come about, 
my dear,” she said. 

Miss Mackenzie blushed, and muttered some¬ 
thing about Miss Baker. 

“ Yes, my dear; Miss Baker was speaking to 
me about Mr. Maguire. You needn’t mind speak¬ 
ing out to me, Miss Mackenzie. I can understand 
all about it; and if I can be of any assistance, I 
shall be very happy. No doubt you feel a little 
shy, but you needn’t mind with me.” 

“ I’m sure you’re very good.” 

“ I don’t know about that, but I hope I’m not 
very bad. The long and the short of it is, I 
suppose, that you think you might as well,— 
might as well take Mr. Maguire.” 



mr. maguire’s courtship. 


269 


Miss Mackenzie felt thoroughly ashamed of 
herself. She could not explain to Miss Todd all 
her best motives; and. then, those motives which 
were not the best were made to seem so very 
weak and mean by the way in which Miss Todd 
approached them. When she thought of the 
matter alone, it seemed to her that she was 
perfectly reasonable in wishing to be married, in 
order that she might escape the monotony of a 
lonely life; and she thought that if she could 
talk to Miss Todd about the subject gently, for a 
quarter of an hour at a time every day for two 
or three months, it was possible that she might 
explain her views with credit to herself; but how 
could she do this to anyone so very abruptly? 
She could only confess that she did want to 
marry the man, as a child confesses her longing 
for a tart. 

“ I have thought about it, certainly,” she said. 

“ Quite right,” said Miss Todd; “ quite right, 
if you like him. Now for me, I’m so fond of my 
own money and my own independence, that I’ve 
never had a fancy that wav,—not since I was a 
girl.” 

“ But you’re so different, Miss Todd; you’ve 
got such a position of your own.” 

And Miss Mackenzie, who was at present 
desirous of manying a very strict evangelical 
clergyman, thought with envy of the social ad- 


270 


MISS MACKENZIE* 


* vantages and pleasant iniquities of her wicked 
neighbour. 

“ Oh, I don’t know. I’ve a few friends, but 
that comes of being here so long. And then, you 
see, I ain’t particular as you are. I always see 
that when a lady goes in to be evangelical, she 
soon finds a husband to take care of her; that is, 
if she’s got any money. It all goes on very well, 
and I’ve no doubt they’re right. There’s my 
friend Mary Baker^ she’s single still; but then 
she began very late in life. Now about Mr. 
Maguire.” 

“ Well, Miss Todd.” 

“ In the first place, I really don’t think he has 
got much that he can call his own.” 

“ He hasn’t got anything, Miss Todd ; he told 
me so himself.” 

“ Did he, indeed ?” said Miss Todd 5 “ then let 
me tell you he is a deal honester than they are in 
general.” 

“ Oh, he told me that. I know he’s got no 
income in the world besides his curacy, and that 
he has thrown up.” 

“ And therefore you’re going to give him 
yours.” 

“ I don’t know about that, Miss Todd; but it 
wasn’t about money that I was doubting. What 
I’ve got is enough for both of us, if his wants are 
not greater than mine. What is the use of money 



mr. maguire’s courtship. 


271 


if people cannot be happy together with it ? I * 
don’t care a bit for money, Miss Todd; that is, 
not for itself. I shouldn’t like to be dependent 
on a stranger; I don’t know that I’d like to be 
dependent again even on a brother; but I should 
take no shame to be dependent on a husband, if 
he was good to me.” 

“ That’s just it; isn’t it ?” 

“ There’s quite enough for him and me.” 

“ I must say you look at the matter in the 
most disinterested way. I couldn’t bring myself 
to take it up like that.” 

“ You haven’t lived the life that I have, Miss 
Todd, and I don’t suppose you ever feel solitary 
as I do.” 

“Well, I don’t know. We single women have 
to be solitary sometimes,—and sometimes sad.” 

“ But you’re never sad, Miss Todd.” 

a Have you never heard there are some animals, 
that, when they’re sick, crawl into holes, and don’t 
ever show themselves among the other animals ? 
Though it is only the animals that do it, there’s a 
pride in that which I like. What’s the good of 
complaining if one’s down in the mouth ? When 
one gets old and heavy and stupid, one can’t go 
about as one did when one was young; and other 
people won’t care to come to you as they did then.” 

“ But I had none of that when I was young, 
Miss Todd.” 


272 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ Hadn’t you ? Then I won’t say but what 
you may be right to try and begin now. But, 
laws ! what am I talking of? I’m old enough to 
be your mother.” 

“ I think it so kind of you to talk to me at all.” 

“ Well, now about Mr. Maguire. I don’t think 
he’s possessed of much of the fat of the land; but 
that you say you know already ?” 

“ Oh yes, I know all that.” 

“And it seems he has lost his curacy?” 

“ He threw that up himself.” 

“ I shouldn’t be surprised,—but mind, I don’t 
say this for certain,—but I shouldn’t be surprised 
if he owed a little money.” 

Miss Mackenzie’s face became rather long. 

“ What do you call a little, Miss Todd ?” 

“Two or three hundred pounds. 1 don’t call 
that a great deal.” 

“ Oh dear, no!” and Miss Mackenzie’s face 
again became cheerful. “ That could be settled 
without any trouble.” 

“Upon my word, you’re the most generous 
woman I ever saw.” 

“ No, I’m not that.” 

“Or else you must be very much in love?” 

“I don’t think I’m that either, Miss Todd; 
only I don’t care much about money if other 
things are suitable. What I chiefly wanted to 
know was-” 


mr. maguire’s courtship. 273 

“About that Miss Floss?” 

“ Yes, Miss Todd.” 

“My belief is there never was a greater 
calumny, or what I should call a stronger at¬ 
tempt at a do. Mind, I don’t think much of 
your St. Stumfolda, and never did. I believe 
the poor man has never said a word to the 
woman. Mrs. Stumfold has put it into her head 
that she could have Mr. Maguire if she chose to 
set her cap at him, and, 1 dare say Miss Floss has 
been dutiful to her saint. But, Miss Mackenzie, 
if nothing else hinders you, don’t let that hinder 
you.” Then Miss Todd, having done her business 
and made her report, took her leave. 

This was on Saturday. The next day would 
be Sunday, and then on the following morning she 
must make her answer ! All that she had heard 
about Mr. Maguire was, to her thinking, in his 
favour. As to his poverty, that he had declared 
himself, and that she did not mind. As to a few' 
hundred pounds of debt, how was a poor man to 
have helped such a misfortune ? In that matter 
of Miss Floss he had been basely maligned ;—so 
much maligned, that Miss Mackenzie owed him 
all her sympathy. What excuse could she now 
have for refusing him ? 

When she went to bed on the Sunday night 
such were her thoughts and her feelings. 


VOL. i. 


T 


274 


CHAPTER XIV. 

tom Mackenzie’s bed-side. 

There was a Stumfoldian edict, ultra-Median-and- 
Persian in its strictness, ordaining that no Stum- 
foldian in Littlebath should be allowed to receive 
a letter on Sundays. And there also existed a 
co-ordinate rule on the part of the Postmaster- 
General—or, rather, a privilege granted by that 
functionary,—in accordance with which Stum- 
foldians, and other such sects of Sabbatarians, 
were empowered to prohibit the letter-carriers 
from contaminating their special knockers on 
Sunday mornings. Miss Mackenzie had given 
way to this easily, seeing nothing amiss in the 
edict, and not caring much for her Sunday letters. 
In consequence, she received on the Monday 
mornings those letters which were due to her on 
Sundays, and, on this special Monday morning 
she received a letter, as to which the delay was of 
much consequence. It was to tell her that her 
brother Tom was dying, and to pray that she 


tom Mackenzie’s bed-side. 


275 


would be up iu London as early on the Monday 
as was practicable. Mr. Samuel Rubb, junior, 
who had written the letter in Gower Street, had 
known nothing of the Sabbatical edicts of the 
Stumfoldians. 

“It is an inward tumour,” said Mr. Rubb, “ and 
has troubled him long, though he has said nothing 
about it. It is now breaking, and the doctor says 
he can’t live. He begs that you will come to 
him, as he has very much to say to you. Mrs. 
Tom would have written, but she is so much 
taken up, and is so much beside herself, that she 
begs me to say that she isn’t able; but I hope 
it won’t be less welcome coming from me. The 
second pair back will be ready for you, just as if 
it were your own. I would be waiting at the 
station on Monday, if I knew what train you 
would come by.” 

This she received while at breakfast on the 
Monday morning, having sat down a little earlier 
than usual, in order that the tea-things might be 
taken away so as to make room for Mr. Maguire. 

Of course she must go up to town instantly, by 
the first practicable train. She perceived at once 
that she would have to send a message by tele¬ 
graph, as they would have expected to hear from 
her that morning. She got the railway guide, and 
saw that the early express train had already gone. 
There was, however, a mid-day train which would 


276 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


reach Paddington in the afternoon. She immedi¬ 
ately got her bonnet and went off to the telegraph 
office, leaving word with the servant, that if any 
one called 44 he ” was to be told that she had re¬ 
ceived sudden tidings which took her up to 
London. On her return she found that 4 4 he” had 
not been there yet, and now she could only hope 
that he would not come till after she had started. 
It would, of course, be impossible, at such a mo¬ 
ment as this, to make any answer to such a 
proposition as Mr. Maguire’s. 

He came, and when the servant gave him a 
message at the door, he sent up craving per¬ 
mission to see her but for a moment. She could 
not refuse him, and went down to him in the 
drawing-room, with her shawl and bonnet. 

44 Dearest Margaret,” said he, 44 what is this?” 
and he took both her hands. 

44 1 have received word that my brother, in 
London, is very ill;—that he is dying, and I must 
go to him.” 

He still held her hands, standing close to her, 
as though he had some special right to comfort 
her. 

44 Cannot I go with you ?” he said. 44 Let me; 
do let me.” 

44 Oh, no, Mr. Maguire; it is impossible. What 
could you do? I am going to my brother’s 
house.” 


tom Mackenzie’s bed-side. 277 

“ Bat have I not a right to be of help to you 
at such a time ?” he asked. 

“ No, Mr. Maguire ; no right; certainly none as 
yet.” 

“Oh! Margaret.” 

“Pm sure you will see that I cannot talk of 
anything of that sort now.” 

“ But you will not be back for ever so long.” 

“ I cannot tell.” 

“ Oh! Margaret; you will not leave me in 
suspense ? After bidding me wait a fortnight, 
you will not go away without telling me that you 
will be mine when you come back ? One word 
will do it.” 

“ Mr. Maguire, you really must excuse me 
now.” 

“One word, Margaret; only one w^ord,” and he 
still held her. 

“ Mr. Maguire,” she said, tearing her hand from 
him, “ I am astonished at you. I tell you that 
my brother is dying, and you hold me here, and 
expect me to give you an answer about nonsense. 
I thought you were more manly.” 

He saw that there was a flash in her eye as he 
stepped back; so he begged her pardon, and mut¬ 
tering something about hoping to hear from her 
soon, took his leave. Poor man! I do not see 
why she should not have accepted him, as she had 
made up her mind to do so. And to him, with 


278 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


his creditors, and in his present position, any cer¬ 
tainty in this matter would have made so much 
difference! 

At the Paddington Station Miss Mackenzie was 
met by her other lover, Mr. Rubb. Mr. Rubb, how¬ 
ever, had never yet declared himself as holding 
this position, and did not do so on the present 
occasion. Their conversation in the cab was 
wholly concerning her brother’s state, or nearly 
so. It seemed that there was no hope. Mr. Rubb 
said that very clearly. As to time, the doctor 
would say nothing certain ; but he had declared 
that it might occur any day. The patient never 
could leave his bed again; but, as his constitu¬ 
tion was strong, he might remain in his present 
condition some weeks. He did not suffer much 
pain, or, at any rate, did not complain of much; 
but was very sad. Then Mr. Rubb said one other 
word. 

U I am afraid he is thinking of his wife and 
children.” 

“ Would there be nothing for them out of the 
business?” asked Miss Mackenzie. 

The junior partner at first shook his head, say¬ 
ing nothing. After a few minutes he did speak in 
a low voice. “ If there be anything, it will be 
very little,—very little.” 

Miss Mackenzie was rejoiced that she had 
given no definite promise to Mr. Maguire. There 


tom Mackenzie’s bed-side 


279 


seemed to be now a job for her to do in the world 
which would render it quite unnecessary that she 
should look about for a husband. If her brother’s 
widow were left penniless, with seven children, 
there would be no longer much question as to 
what she would do with her money. Perhaps the 
only person in the world that she cordially dis¬ 
liked was her sister-in-law. She certainly knew 
no other woman whose society would be so un¬ 
palatable to her. But if things were so as Mr. 
Pubb now described them, there could be no 
doubt about her duty. It was very well indeed 
that her answer to Mr. Maguire had been post¬ 
poned to that Monday. 

She found her sister-in-law in the dining-room, 
and Mrs. Mackenzie, of course, received her with 
a shower of tears. “ I did think you’d have come, 
Margaret, by the first train.” 

Then Margaret was forced to explain all about 
the letter and the Sunday arrangements at Little- 
bath ; and Mrs. Tom was stupid and wouldn’t un¬ 
derstand, but persisted in her grievance, declaring 
that Tom was killing himself with disappointment. 

“And there’s Dr. Slumpy just this moment 
gone without a word to comfort one,—not even to 
say about when it will be. I suppose you’ll want 
your dinner before you go up to see him. As for 
us, we’ve had no dinners, or anything regular; 
but, of course, you must be waited on.” ’ 


280 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


Miss Mackenzie simply took off her bonnet and 
shawl, and declared herself ready to go up-stairs 
as soon as her brother would be ready to see her. 

“It’s fret about money has done it all, Mar¬ 
garet,” said the wife. “Since the day that 
Walter’s shocking will was read, he’s never been 
himself for an hour. Of course he wouldn’t show 
it to you ; but he never has.” 

Margaret turned short round upon her sister-in- 
law on the stairs. 

“ Sarah,” said she, and then she stopped her¬ 
self. “ Never mind; it is natural, no doubt, you 
should feel it; but there are times and places 
when one’s feelings should be kept under control.” 

“ That’s mighty fine,” said Mrs. Mackenzie; 
“but, however, if you’ll wait here, I’ll go up to 
him.” 

In a few minutes more Miss Mackenzie was 
standing by her brother’s bed-side, holding his 
hand in hers. 

“I knew you would come, Margaret,” he said. 

“Of course I should come; who doubted it? 
But never mind that, for here I am.” 

“ I only told her that we expected her by the 
earlier train/’ said Mrs. Tom. 

“ Never mind the train as long as she’s here,” 
said Tom. “You’ve heard how it is with me, 
Margaret ?” 

Then Margaret buried her face in the bed- 


tom Mackenzie’s bed-side. 281 

clothes and wept, and Mrs. Tom, weeping also, 
hid herself behind the curtains. 

There was nothing said then about money or 
the troubles of the business, and after a vdiile the 
two women went down to tea. In the dining¬ 
room they found Mr. Rubb, who seemed to be 
quite at home in the house. Cold meat was 
brought up for Margaret’s dinner, and they all 
sat down to one of those sad sick-house meals 
which he or she who has not known must have 
been lucky indeed. To Margaret it was nothing 
new. All the life that she remembered, except the 
last year, had been spent in nursing her elder 
brother; and now to be employed about the bed¬ 
side of a sufferer was as natural to her as the air 
she breathed. 

“ I will sit with him to-night, Sarah, if you 
will let me,” she said; and Sarah assented. 

It was still daylight when she found herself at 
her post. Mrs. Mackenzie had just left the room 
to go down among the children, saying that she 
would return again before she left him for the 
night. To this the invalid remonstrated, begging 
his wife to go to bed. 

“ She has not had her clothes off for the last 
week,” said the husband. 

“ It don’t matter about my clothes,” said Mrs. 
Tom, still weeping. She was always crying 
when in the sick room, and always scolding when 


282 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


out of it; thus complying with the two different 
requisitions of her nature. The matter, however, 
was settled by an assurance on her part that she 
would go to bed, so that she might be stirring 
early. 

There are women who seem to have an absolute 
pleasure in fixing themselves for business by the 
bed-side of a sick man. They generally commence 
their operations by laying aside all fictitious femi¬ 
nine charms, and by arraying themselves with 
a rigid, unconventional, unenticing propriety. 
Though they are still gentle,—perhaps more gentle 
than ever in their movements,—there is a decision 
in all they do very unlike their usual mode of 
action. The sick man, who is not so sick but 
what he can ponder on the matter, feels himself to 
be like a baby, whom he has seen the nurse to 
take from its cradle, pat on the back, feed, and 
then return to its little couch, all without undue 
violence or tyranny, but still with a certain con¬ 
sciousness of omnipotence as far as that child was 
concerned. The vitality of the man is gone from 
him, and he, in his prostrate condition, debarred 
by all the features of his condition from spon¬ 
taneous exertion, feels himself to be more a woman 
than the woman herself. She, if she be such a 
one as our Miss Mackenzie, arranges her bottles 
with precision ; knows exactly how to place her 
chair, her lamp, and her teapot; settles her cap 


tom Mackenzie’s bed-side. 


283 


usefully' on her head, and prepares for the night’s 
work certainly with satisfaction. And such are 
the best women of the world,—among which 
number I think that Miss Mackenzie has a right 
to be counted. 

A few words of affection were spoken between 
the brother and sister, for at such moments 
brotherly affection returns, and the estrangements 
of life are all forgotten in the old memories. He 
seemed comforted to feel her hand upon the bed, 
and was glad to pronounce her name, and spoke 
to her as though she had been the favourite of the 
family for years, instead of the one member of it 
who had been snubbed and disregarded. Poor 
man, who shall say that there was anything hypo¬ 
critical or false in this ? And yet, undoubtedly, 
it was the fact that Margaret was now the only 
wealthy one among them, which had made him 
send to her, and think of her, as he lay there in 
his sickness. 

When these words of love had been spoken, he 
turned himself on his pillow, and lay silent for a 
long while ;—for hours, till the morning sun had 
risen, and the daylight was again seen through 
the window-curtain. It was not much after mid¬ 
summer, and the daylight came to them early. 
Prom time to time she had looked at him, and 
each hour in the night she had crept round to 
him, and given him that which he needed. She 


284 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


did it all with a certain system, noiselessly, but 
with an absolute assurance on her own part 
that she carried with her an authority sufficient 
to insure obedience. On that ground, in that 
place, I think that even Miss Todd would have 
succumbed to her. 

But when the morning sun had driven the 
appearance of night from the room, making the 
paraphernalia of sickness more ghastly than they 
had been under the light of the lamp, the brother 
turned himself back again, and began to talk of 
those things which were weighing on his mind. 

“ Margaret,” he said, 64 it’s very good of you 
to come, but as to myself, no one’s coming can be 
of any use to me.” 

“ It is all in the hands of God, Tom.” 

4 ‘No doubt, no doubt,” said he, sadly, not 
daring to argue such a point with her, and yet 
feeling but little consolation from her assurance. 
“So is the bullock in God’s hands when the 
butcher is going to knock him on the head, but 
yet we know that the beast will die. Men live 
and die from natural causes, and not by God’s 
interposition.” 

“ But there is hope; that is what I mean. If 
God pleases-” 

“ Ah, well. But, Margaret, I fear that he will 
not please; and what am I to do about Sarah and 
the children ?” 



tom Mackenzie’s bed-side. 


285 


This was a question that could be answered by 
no general platitude,—by no weak words of hope¬ 
less consolation. Coming from him to her, it 
demanded either a very substantial answer, or 
else no answer at all. What was he to do about 
Sarah and the children ? Perhaps there came a 
thought across her mind that Sarah and the 
children had done very little for her;—had con¬ 
sidered her very little, in those old, weary days, 
in Arundel Street. And those days were not, as 
yet, so very old. It was now not much more than 
twelve months since she had sat by the death-bed 
of her other brother;—since she had expressed to 
herself, and to Harry Handcock, a humble wish 
that she might find herself to be above absolute 
want. 

44 1 do not think you need fret about that, Tom,” 
she said, after turning these things over in her 
mind for a minute or two. 

44 How, not fret about them ? But I suppose 
you know nothing of the state of the business. 
Has Bubb spoken to you ?” 

“ He did say some word as we came along in 
the cab.” 

“ What did he say ?” 

“He said-” 

44 Well, tell me what he said. He said, that if 
I died,—what then ? You must not be afraid of 
speaking of it openly. Why, Margaret, they 



286 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


have all told me that it must be in a month or 
two. What did Rubb say ?” 

“ He said that there would be very little coming- 
out of the business,—that is, for Sarah and the 
children,—if anything were to happen to you.” 

“ I don’t suppose they’d get anything. How 
it has been managed I don’t know. I have 
worked like a galley slave at it, but I haven’t 
kept the books, and I don’t know how things 
have gone so badly. They have gone badly, 
—very badly.” 

“Has it been Mr. Rubb’s fault?” 

“I won’t say that; and, indeed, if it has been 
any man’s fault it has been the old man’s. I 
don’t want to say a word against the one that you 
know. Oh, Margaret!” 

“ Don’t fret yourself now, Tom.” 

“ If you had seven children, would not you 
fret yourself? And I hardly know how to speak 
to you about it. I know that we have already 
had ever so much of your money, over two 
thousand pounds; and I fear you will never see it 
again.” 

“ Never mind, Tom; it is yours with all my 
heart. Only, Tom, as it is so badly wanted, I 
would rather it was yours than Mr. Rubb’s. 
Could I not do something that would make that 
share of the building yours ?” 

He shifted himself uneasily in his bed, and 


tom Mackenzie’s bed-side. 


287 


made her understand that she had distressed 
him. 

“ But perhaps it will be better to say nothing 
more about that/’ said she. 

“ It will be better that you should understand 
it all. The property belongs nominally to us, 
but it is mortgaged to the full of its value. Rubb 
can explain it all if he will. Your money went 
to buy it, but other creditors would not be satis¬ 
fied without security. Ah, dear! it is so dreadful 
to have to speak of all this in this way.” 

“ Then don’t speak of it, Tom.” 

“ But what am I to do ?” 

“ Are there no proceeds from the business ?” 

“ Yes, for those who work in it; and I think 
there will be something coming out of it for Sarah, 
—something, but it will be very small. And if 
so, she must depend for it solely on Mr. Rubb.” 

“On the young one?” 

“ Yes ; on the one that you know.” 

There was a great deal more said, and of course 
everyone will know how such a conversation was 
ended, and will understand with what ample assu¬ 
rance as to her own intentions Margaret promised 
that the seven children should not want. As she 
did so, she made certain rapid calculations in her 
head. She must give up Mr. Maguire. There 
was no doubt about that. She must give up all 
idea of marrying any one, and, as she thought 


288 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


of this, she told herself that she was perhaps well 
rid of a trouble. She had already given away to 
the firm of Rubb and Mackenzie above a hundred 
a-year out of her income. If she divided the 
remainder with Mrs. Tom, keeping about three 
hundred and fifty pounds a-year for herself and 
Susanna, she would, she thought, keep her pro¬ 
mise well, and yet retain enough for her own 
comfort and Susanna’s education. It would be 
bad for the prospects of young John Ball, the 
third of the name, whom she had taught herself 
to regard as her heir ; but young John Ball would 
know nothing of the good things he had lost. As 
to living with her sister-in-law Sarah, and sharing 
her house and income with the whole family, that 
she declared to herself nothing should induce her 
to do. She would give up half of all that she 
had, and that half would be quite enough to save 
her brother’s children from want. In making the 
promise to her brother she said nothing about 
proportions, and nothing as to her own future life. 
“ What I have,” she said, “ I will share with 
them, and you may rest assured that they shall 
not want.” Of course he thanked her as dying 
men do thank those who take upon themselves 
such charges; but she perceived as he did so, or 
thought that she perceived, that he still had 
something more upon his mind. 

Mrs. Tom came and relieved her in the morning, 


tom Mackenzie’s bed-side. 


289 


and Miss Mackenzie was obliged to put off for a 
time that panoply of sick-room armour which 
made her so indomitable in her brother’s bed¬ 
room. Down stairs she met Mr. Rubb, who talked 
to her much about her brother’s affairs, and much 
about the oilcloth business, speaking as though he 
were desirous that the most absolute confidence 
should exist between him and her. But she said 
no word of her promise to her brother, except 
that she declared that the money lent was now 
to be regarded as a present made by her to him 
personally. 

“ I am afraid that that will avail nothing,” said 
Mr. Rubb, junior, “ for the amount now stands as 
a debt due by the firm to you, and the firm, 
which would pay you the money if it could, 
cannot pay it to your brother’s estate any more 
than it can to yours.” 

“ But the interest,” said Miss Mackenzie. 

“ Oh, yes! the interest can be paid,” said Mr. 
Rubb, junior, but the tone of his voice did not 
give much promise that this interest would be 
forthcoming with punctuality. 

She watched again that night; and on the 
next day, in the afternoon, she was told that a 
gentleman wished to see her in the drawing-room. 
Her thoughts at once pointed to Mr. Maguire, 
and she went down-stairs prepared to be very 
angry with that gentleman. But on entering the 

VOL. i. u 


290 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


room she found her cousin, John Ball. She was, 
in truth, glad to see him; for, after all, she 
thought that she liked him the best of all the 
men or women that she knew. He was always 
in trouble, but then she fancied that with him she 
at any rate knew the worst. There was nothing- 
concealed with him,—nothing to be afraid of. She 
hoped that they might continue to know each 
other intimately as cousins. Under existing cir¬ 
cumstances they could not, of course, be anything 
more to each other than that. 

“ This is very kind of you, John,” she said, 
taking his hand. “How did you know I was 
here ?” 

“Mr. Slow told me. I was with Mr. Slow 
about business of yours. I’m afraid from 
what I hear that you find your brother very 
ill.” 

“ Very ill, indeed, John,—ill to death.” 

She then asked after her uncle and aunt, and 
the children, at the Cedars. 

They were much as usual, he said; and he 
added that his mother would be very glad to see 
her at the Cedars; only he supposed there was no 
hope of that. 

“ Hot just at present, John. You see I am 
wholly occupied here.” 

“ And will he really die, do you think ?” 

“ The doctors say so.” 


tom Mackenzie’s bed-side. 


291 


“ And his wife and children,—will they be pro¬ 
vided for?” 

Margaret simply shook her head, and John Ball 
as he watched her, felt assured that his uncle 
Jonathan’s money would never come in his way, 
or in the way of his children. But he was a man 
used to disappointment, and he bore this with 
mild sufferance. 

Then he explained to her the business about 
which he had specially come to her. She had 
entrusted him with certain arrangements as to a 
portion of her property, and he came to tell her 
that a certain railway company wanted some 
houses which belonged to her, and that by Act of 
Parliament she was obliged to sell them. 

“ But the Act of Parliament will make the 
railway company pay for them ; won’t it, John ?” 

Then he went on to explain to her that she was 
in luck’s way, “as usual,” said the poor fellow, 
thinking of his own misfortunes, and that she 
would greatly increase her income by the sale. 
Indeed, it seemed to her that she would regain 
pretty nearly all she had lost by the loan to Rubb 
and Mackenzie. “ How very singular,” thought 
she to herself. Under these circumstances, it 
might, after all, be possible that she should marry 
Mr. Maguire, if she wished it. 

When Mr. Ball had told his business he did not 
stay much longer. He said no word of his own 

u 2 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


292 

hopes, if hopes they could be called any longer. 
As he left her, he just referred to what had passed 
between them. 

“This is no time, Margaret,” said he, “to ask 
you whether you have changed your mind ?” 

“No, John ; there are other things to think of 
now; are there not? And, besides, they will 
want here all that I can do for them.” 

She spoke to him with an expressed conviction 
that what was wanted of her by him, as well 
as by others, was her money, and it did not 
occur to him to contradict her. 

“ He might have asked to see me, I do think,” 
said Mrs. Tom, when John Ball was gone. “ But 
there always was an upsetting pride about those 
people at the Cedars which I never could endure. 
And they are as poor as church mice. When 
poverty and pride go together I do detest them. 
I suppose he came to find out all about us, but I 
hope you told him nothing.” 

To all this Miss Mackenzie made no answer 
at all. 


293 


CHAPTER XY. 

THE TEARING- OF THE YERSES. 

Things went on in Gower Street for three or 
four weeks in the same way, and then Susanna 
was fetched home from Littlebath. Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie would have gone down herself but that she 
was averse to see Mr. Maguire. She therefore 
kept on her Littlebath lodgings, though Mrs. 
Tom said much to her of her wasteful extra¬ 
vagance in doing so. It was at last settled that 
Mr. Rubb should go down to Littlebath and 
bring Susanna back with him; and this he did, 
not at all to that young lady’s satisfaction. It 
was understood that Susanna did not leave the 
school, at which she had lately been received as 
a boarder; but the holidays had come, and it 
was thought well that she should see her father. 

During this time Miss Mackenzie received two 
letters from Mr. Maguire. In the first he pleaded 
hard for an answer to his offer. He had, he said, 
now relinquished his curacy, having found the 


294 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


interference of that terrible woman to be unendur¬ 
able. He had left his curacy, and was at present 
without employment. Under such circumstances 
“ his Margaret” would understand how impera¬ 
tive it was that he should receive an answer. 
A curacy, or, rather, a small incumbency, had 
offered itself among the mines in Cornwall; but 
he could not think of accepting this till he should 
know what “ his Margaret” might say to it. 

To this Margaret answered most demurelv, 
and perhaps a little slily. She said that her 
brother’s health and affairs were at present in 
such a condition as to allow her to think of 
nothing else; that she completely understood 
Mr. Maguire’s position, and that it was essential 
that he should not be kept in suspense. Under 
these combined circumstances she had no alter¬ 
native but to release him from the offer he had 
made. This she did with the less unwillingness 
as it was probable that her pecuniary position 
would be considerably altered by the change in 
her brother’s family which they were now ex¬ 
pecting almost daily. Then she bade him fare¬ 
well, with many expressions of her esteem, and 
said that she hoped he might be happy among 
the mines in Cornwall. 

Such was her letter; but it did not satisfy 
Mr. Maguire, and he wrote a second letter. He 
had declined, he said, the incumbency among the 


THE TEARING OF THE VERSES. 


295 


mines, having heard of something which he 
thought would suit him better in Manchester. 
As to that there was no immediate hurry, and he 
purposed remaining at Littlebath for the next 
two months, having been asked to undertake 
temporary duty in a neighbouring church for 
that time. By the end of the two months he 
hoped that “ his Margaret” would be able to give 
him an answer in a different tone. As to her 
pecuniary position, he would leave that, he said, 
“ all to herself.” 

To this second letter Miss Mackenzie did not 
find it necessary to send any reply. 

The domestics in the Mackenzie family were 
not at this time numerous, and the poor mother 
had enough to do with her family down-stairs.. 
No nurse had been hired for the sick man, for 
nurses cannot be hired without money, and money 
with the Tom Mackenzies was scarce. Our Miss 
Mackenzie would have hired a nurse, but she 
thought it better to take the work entirely into 
her own hands. She did so, and I think we may 
say that her brother did not suffer by it. As she 
sat by his bed-side, night after night, she seemed 
to feel that she had fallen again into her proper 
place, and she looked back upon the year she had 
spent at Littlebath almost with dismay. Since 
her brother’s death three men had offered to 
marry her, and there was a fourth from whom 


296 


MIS8 MACKENZIE. 


she had expected such an offer. She looked upon 
all this with dismay, and told herself that she 
was not fit to sail, under her own guidance, out 
in the broad sea amidst such rocks as those. Was 
not some humbly feminine employment, such as 
that in which she was now engaged, better for 
her in all ways ? Sad as was the present occa¬ 
sion, did she not feel a satisfaction in what she 
was doing, and an assurance that she was fit for 
her position? Had she not always been ill at 
ease, and out of her element, while striving at 
Littlebath to live the life of a lady of fortune ? 
She told herself that it was so, and that it would 
be better for her to be a hard-working, dependent 
woman, doing some tedious duty day by day, 
than to live a life of ease which prompted her to 
longings for things unfitted to her. 

She had brought a little writing-desk with her 
that she had carried from Arundel Street to 
Littlebath, and this she had with her in the sick 
man’s bedroom. Sitting there through the long 
hours of night, she would open this and read over 
and over again those remnants of the rhymes 
written in her early days which she had kept 
when she made her great bonfire. There had 
been quires of such verses, but she had de¬ 
stroyed all but a few leaves before she started 
for Littlebath. What were left, and were now 
read, were very sweet to her, and yet she knew 


THE TEARING OF THE VERSES. 


297 


that they were wrong and meaningless. What 
business had such a one as she to talk of the 
sphere’s tune and the silvery moon, of bright 
stars shining and hearts repining? She would 
not for worlds have allowed any one to know 
what a fool she had been,—either Mrs. Tom, or 
John Ball, or Mr. Maguire, or Miss Todd. She 
would have been covered with confusion if her 
rhymes had fallen into the hands of any one of 
them. 

And yet she loved them well, as a mother loves 
her only idiot child. They were her expression 
of the romance and poetry that had been in her ; 
and though the expressions doubtless were poor, 
the romance and poetry of her heart had been 
high and noble. How wrong the world is in con¬ 
necting so closely as it does the capacity for feel¬ 
ing and the incapacity for expression;—in 
thinking that capacity for the one implies capa¬ 
city for the other, or incapacity for the one in¬ 
capacity also for the other; in confusing the tech¬ 
nical art of the man who sings with the unselfish 
tenderness of the man who feels ! But the world 
does so connect them; and, consequently, those 
who express themselves badly are ashamed of 
their feelings. 

She read her poor lines again and again, throw¬ 
ing herself back into the days and thoughts of 
former periods, and telling herself that it was all 


298 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


over. She had thought of encouraging love, and 
love had come to her in the shape of Mr. Maguire, 
a very strict evangelical clergyman, without a 
cure or an income, somewhat in debt, and with, 
oh! such an eye! She tore the papers, very 
gently, but into the smallest fragments. She tore 
them again and again, swearing to herself as she 
did so that there should be an end of all that; and, 
as there was no fire at hand, she replaced the 
pieces in her desk. During this ceremony of the 
tearing she devoted herself to the duties of a 
single life, to the drudgeries of ordinary utility, 
to such works as those she was now doing. As 
to any society, wicked or religious,—wicked after 
the manner of Miss Todd, or religious after the 
manner of St. Stumfolda,—it should come or 
not, as circumstances might direct. She would 
go no more in search of it. Such were the re¬ 
solves of a certain night, during which the cere¬ 
mony of the tearing took place. 

It came to pass at this time that Mr. Rubb, 
junior, visited his dying partner almost daily, 
and was always left alone with him for some time. 
When these visits were made Miss Mackenzie 
would descend to the room in which her sister-in- 
law was sitting, and there would be some conversa¬ 
tion between them about Mr. Rubb and his affairs. 
Much as these two women disliked each other 
there had necessarily arisen between them a cer- 


THE TEARING OF THE VERSES. 


299 


tain amount of confidence. Two persons who are 
much thrown together, to the exclusion of other 
society, will tell each other their thoughts, even 
though there be no love between them. 

“What is he saying to him all these times 
when he is with him ?” said Mrs. Tom one morning, 
when Miss Mackenzie had come down on the ap¬ 
pearance of Mr. Rubb in the sick room. 

“ He is talking about the business, I suppose.” 

“What good can that do ? Tom can’t say any¬ 
thing about that, as to how it should be done. He 
thinks a great deal about Sam Rubb; but it’s 
more than I do.” 

“ They must necessarily be in each other’s con¬ 
fidence, I should say.” 

“ He’s not in my confidence. My belief is he’s 
been a deal too clever for Tom; and that he’ll 
turn out to be too clever—for me, and—my poor 
—orphans.” Upon which Mrs. Tom put her 
handkerchief up to her eyes. “There; he’s 
coming down,” continued the wife. “ Ho you go 
up now, and make Tom tell you what it is that 
Sam Rubb has been saying to him.” 

Margaret Mackenzie did go up as she heard 
Mr. Rubb close the front door; but she had no 
such purpose as that with which her sister-in-law 
had striven to inspire her. She had no wish to 
make the sick man tell her anything that he did 
not wish to tell. In considering the matter within 


300 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


her own breast, she owned to herself that she did 
not expect much from the Enbbs in aid of the 
wants of her nephews and nieces; but what would 
be the use of troubling a dying man about that ? 
She had agreed with herself to believe that the 
oilcloth business was a bad affair, and that it 
would be well to hope for nothing from it. That 
her brother to the last should harass himself 
about the business was only natural; but there 
could be no reason why she should harass him on 
the same subject. She had recognised the fact 
that his widow and children must be supported 
by her; and had she now been told that the oil¬ 
cloth factory had been absolutely abandoned as 
being worth nothing, it would not have caused her 
much disappointment. She thought a great deal 
more of the railway company that was going to buy 
her property under such favourable circumstances. 

She was, therefore, much surprised when her 
brother began about the business as soon as she 
had seated herself. I do not know that the reader 
need be delayed with any of the details that he 
gave her, or with the contents of the papers which 
he showed her. She, however, found herself com¬ 
pelled to go into the matter, and compelled also 
to make an endeavour to understand it. It seemed 
that everything hung upon Samuel Rubb, junior, 
except the fact that Samuel Rubb’s father, who 
now never went near the place, got more than 


THE TEARING OF THE VERSES. 


301 


half the net profits; and the farther fact, that the 
whole thing would come to an end if this pay¬ 
ment to old Rnbb were stopped. 

“Tom,” said she, in the middle of it all, when 
her head was aching with figures, “ if it will com¬ 
fort you, and enable yon to put all these things 
away, yon may know that I will divide every¬ 
thing I have with Sarah.” 

He assured her that her kindness did comfort 
him ; but he hoped better than that; he still 
thought that something better might be arranged 
if she would only go on with her task. So she 
went on, painfully toiling through figures. 

“ Sam drew them up on purpose for you, yester¬ 
day afternoon,” said he. 

“ Who did it ?” she asked. 

“ Samuel Rubb.” 

He then went on to declare that she might 
accept all Samuel Rubb’s figures as correct. 

She was quite willing to accept them, and she 
strove hard to understand them. It certainly did 
seem to her that when her money was borrowed 
somebody must have known that the promised 
security would not be forthcoming ; but perhaps 
that somebody was old Rubb, whom, as she did 
not know him, she was quite ready to regard as 
the villain in the play that was being acted. Her 
own money, too, was a thing of the past. That 
fault, if fault there had been, was condoned; and 


302 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


she was angry with herself in that she now thought 
of it again. 

“And now,”said her brother, as soon as she 
had put the papers back, and declared that she 
understood them. “Now I have something to 
say to you which I hope you will hear without 
being angry.” He raised himself on his bed as 
he said this, doing so with difficulty and pain, 
and turning his face upon her so that he could 
look into her eyes. “ If I didn’t know that I was 
dying I don’t think that I could say it to you.” 

“ Say what, Tom ?” 

She thought of what most terrible thing it 
might be possible that he should have to com¬ 
municate. Could it be that he had got hold, or 
that Rubb and Mackenzie had got hold, of all her 
fortune, and turned it into unprofitable oilcloth ? 
Could they in any way have made her responsible 
for their engagements? She wished to trust 
them; she tried to avoid suspicion; but she feared 
that things were amiss. 

“ Samuel Rubb and I have been talking of it, 
and he thinks it had better come from me,” said 
her brother. 

“ What had better come ?” she asked. 

“ It is his proposition, Margaret.” 

Then she knew all about it, and felt great relief. 
Then she knew all about it, and let him go on till 
he had spoken his speech. 


THE TEARING OF THE VERSES. 


303 


44 Gocl knows how far he may be indulging a 
false hope, or deceiving himself altogether; but 
he thinks it possible that you might—might be¬ 
come fond of him. There, Margaret, that’s the 
long and the short of it. And when I told him 
that he had better say that himself, he declared 
that you would not bring yourself to listen to him 
while I am lying here dying.” 

44 Of course I would not.” 

44 But, look here, Margaret; I know you would 
do much to comfort me in my last moments.” 

44 Indeed, I would, Tom.” 

44 1 wouldn’t ask you to marry a man you didn’t 
like ;—not even if it were to do the children a ser¬ 
vice ; but if that can be got over, the other feeling- 
should not restrain you when it would be the 
greatest possible comfort to me.” 

44 But how could it serve you, Tom ?” 

44 If that could be arranged, Rubb would give 
up to Sarah during his father’s life all the pro¬ 
ceeds of the business, after paying the old man. 
And when he dies, and he is very old now, the 
live hundred a-year would be continued to her. 
Think what that would be, Margaret.” 

44 But, Tom, she shall have what will make her 
comfortable without waiting for any old man’s 
death. It shall be quite half of my income. If 
that is not enough, it shall be more. Will not 
that do for her ?” 


304 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


Then her brother strove to explain as best he 
could that the mere money was not all he wanted. 
If his sister did not like this man, if she had no 
wish to become a married woman, of course, he 
said, the plan must fall to the ground. But if 
there was anything in Mr. Rubb’s belief that she 
was not altogether indifferent to him, if such an 
arrangement could be made palatable to her, then 
he would be able to think that he, by the work of 
his life, had left something behind him to his wife 
and family. 

“ And Sarah would be more comfortable,” he 
pleaded. “ Of course, she is grateful to you, as 
I am, and as we all are. But given bread is 
bitter bread, and if she could think it came to her, 
of her own right-” 

He said ever so much more, but that ever so 
much more was quite unnecessary. His sister 
understood the whole matter. It was desirable 
that she, by her fortune, should enable the widow 
and orphans of her brother to live in comfort; but 
it was not desirable that this dependence on her 
should be plainly recognized. She did not, how¬ 
ever, feel herself to be angry or hurt. It would, 
no doubt, be better for the family that they should 
draw their income in an apparently independent 
way from their late father’s business than that 
they should owe their support to the charity of 
an aunt. But then, how about herself? A month 


THE TEARING OF THE VERSES. 


305 


or two ago, before the Maguire feature in her 
career had displayed itself so strongly, an overture 
from Mr. Eubb might probabty not have been 
received with disfavour. But now, while she was 
as it were half engaged to another man, she could 
not entertain such a proposition. Her womanly 
feeling revolted from it. Ho doubt she intended 
to refuse Mr. Maguire. Ho doubt she had made 
up her mind to that absolutely, during the cere¬ 
mony of tearing up her verses. And she had 
never had much love for Mr. Maguire, and had 
felt some,—almost some, for Mr. Eubb. In either 
case she was sure that, had she married the man, 
—the one man or the other,—she would instantly 
have become devoted to him. And I, who 
chronicle her deeds and endeavour to chronicle 
her thoughts, feel equally sure that it would have 
been so. There was something harsh in it, that 
Mr. Maguire’s offer to her should, though never 
accepted, debar her from the possibility of marry¬ 
ing Mr. Eubb, and thus settling all the affairs 
of her family in a way that would have been 
satisfactory to them and not altogether unsatis¬ 
factory to her; but she was aware that it did 
so. She felt that it was so, and then threw 
herself back for consolation upon the security 
which would still be hers, and the want of secu¬ 
rity which must attach itself to a marriage with 
Mr. Eubb. He might make ducks, and drakes, 

VOL. i. 


x 


306 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


and oilcloth of it all; and then there would be 
nothing left for her, for her sister-in-law, or for 
the children! 

“ May I tell him to speak to yourself ?” her 
brother asked, while she was thinking of all 
this. 

“ No, Tom ; no; it would do no good.” 

“ You do not fancy him, then.” 

“ I do not know about fancying ; but I think it 
will be better for me to remain as I am. I would 
do anything for you and Sarah, almost anything; 
but I cannot do that.” 

“ Then I will say nothing further.” 

“ Don’t ask me to do that.” 

And he did not ask her again, but turned his 
face from her and thought of the bitterness of his 
death-bed. 

That evening, when she went down to tea, she 
met Samuel Rubb standing at the drawing-room 
door. 

“ There is no one here,” he said; “ will you 
mind coming in ? Has your brother spoken to 
you ?” 

She had followed him into the room, and he 
had closed the door as he asked the question. 

“ Yes, he has spoken to me.” 

She could see that the man was trembling 
with anxiety and eagerness, and she almost 
loved him that he was anxious and eager. Mr. 


UPB 


THE TEARING OF THE YERSES. 


307 


Maguire, when he had come a wooing, had not 
done it badly altogether, but there had not 
been so much reality as there was about Sam 
Rubb while he stood there shaking, and fearing, 
and hoping. 

“ Well,"’ said he, “ may I hope ;—may I think 
it will be so ? may I ask you to be mine ?” 

He was handsome in her eyes, though perhaps, 
delicate reader, he would not have been handsome 
in yours. She knew that he was not a gentle¬ 
man ; but what did that matter ? Neither was 
her sister-in-law Sarah a lady. There was not 
much in that house in Gower Street that was after 
the manner of gentlemen and ladies. She was 
ready to throw all that to the dogs, and would 
have done so but for Mr. Maguire. She felt 
that she would like to have allowed herself to 
love him in spite of the tearing of the verses. 
She felt this, and was very angry with Mr. 
Maguire. But the facts were stern, and there was 
no hope for her. 

“ Mr. Rubb,” she said, (C there can be nothing 
of that kind.” 

“ Can’t there really, now ?” said he. 

She assured him, in her strongest language, 
that there could be nothing of that kind, and then 
went down to the dining-room. 

He did not venture to follow her, but made his 
way out of the house without seeing anyone else. 


308 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


Another fortnight went by, and then, towards 
the close of September, came the end of all things 
in this world for poor Tom Mackenzie. He died 
in the middle of the night in his wife’s arms, 
while his sister stood by holding both their hands. 
Since the day on which he had endeavoured to 
arrange a match between his partner and his 
sister he had spoken no word of business, at any 
rate to the latter, and things now stood on that 
footing which she had then attempted to give 
them. We all know how silent on such matters 
are the voices of all in the bereft household, from 
the hour of death till that other hour in which the 
body is consigned to its kindred dust. Women 
make mourning, and men creep about listlessly, 
but during those few sad days there may be no 
talk about money. So it was in Gower Street. 
The widow, no doubt, thought much of her bitter 
state of dependence ;—thought something, per¬ 
haps, of the chance there might be that her 
husband’s sister would be less good than her 
word, now that he was gone ;—meditated with 
what amount of submission she must accept the 
generosity of the woman she had always hated; 
but she was still mistress of that house till the 
undertakers had done their work; and till that 
work had been done, she said little of her future 
plans. 

“ I’d earn my bread f if I knew how,” she began, 


THE TEARING OF THE VERSES. 


309 


putting her handkerchief up to her eyes, on the 
afternoon of the very day on which he was 
buried. 

“ There will be no occasion for that, Sarah,” 
said Miss Mackenzie, “ there will be enough for 
us all .” 

“But I would if I knew how. I wouldn’t 
mind what I did; I’d scour floors rather than be 
dependent, I’ve that spirit in me; and I’ve 
worked, and moiled, and toiled with those 
children; so I have. 

Miss Mackenzie then told her that she had 
solemnly promised her brother to divide her in¬ 
come with his widow, and informed her that she 
intended to see Mr. Slow, the lawyer, on the 
following day, with reference to the doing of this. 

“If there is anything from the factory, that 
can be divided too,” said Miss Mackenzie. 

“ But there won’t. The Rubbs will take all 
that; of course they will. And Tom put into it 
near upon ten thousand pounds!” 

Then she began to cry again, but soon inter¬ 
rupted her tears to ask what was to become of 
Susanna. Susanna, who was by, looked anxiously 
up into her aunt’s eyes. 

“ Susanna and I,” said the aunt, “ have thrown 
in our lot together, and we mean to remain so; 
don’t we, dear ?” 

“ If mamma will let me. 


310 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


“ I’m sure it’s very good of you to take one off 
my hands,” said the mother, “ for even one will 
be felt.” 

Then came a note to Miss Mackenzie from 
Lady Ball, asking her to spend a few days at the 
Cedars before she returned to Littlebath,—that is, 
if she did return,—and she consented to do this. 
While she was there Mr. Slow could prepare the 
necessary arrangements for the division of the 
property, and she could then make up her mind 
as to the manner and whereabouts of her future 
life. She was all at sea again, and knew not 
how to choose. If she were a Romanist, she 
would go into a convent ; but Protestant con¬ 
vents she thought were bad, and peculiarly un¬ 
fitted for the followers of Mr. Stumfold. She 
had nothing to bind her to any spot, and some¬ 
thing to drive her from every spot of which she 
knew anything. 

Before she went to the Cedars Mr. Rubb came 
to Gower Street and bade her farewell. 

“ I had allowed myself to hope, Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie,” said he, “I had, indeed; I suppose I 
was very foolish.” 

“ I don’t know as to being foolish, Mr. Rubb, 
unless it was in caring about such a person as 
me.” 

“ I do care for you, very much; but I suppose 
I was wrong to think you would put up with 


THE TEARING OF THE VERSES. 


311 


such as I am. Only I did think that perhaps, 
seeing that we had been partners with your 

brother so long-. All the same, I know 

that the Mackenzies are different from the 
Rubbs.” 

“ That has had nothing to do with it; nothing 
in the least.” 

“Hasn’t it now? Then, perhaps, Miss Mac¬ 
kenzie, at some future time-” 

Miss Mackenzie was obliged to tell him that 
there could not possibly be any other answer given 
to him at any future time than that which she 
gave him now. He suggested that perhaps he 
might be allowed to try again when the first 
month or two of her grief for her brother should 
be over; but she assured him that it would be 
useless. At the moment of her conference with 
him, she did this with all her energy; and then, 
as soon as she was alone, she asked herself why 
she had been so energetical. After all, marriage 
was an excellent state in which to live. The 
romance was doubtless foolish and wrong, and 
the teariug of the papers had been discreet, yet 
there could be no good reason why she should 
turn her back upon sober wedlock. Neverthe¬ 
less, in all her speech to Mr. Rubb she did do 
so. There was something in her position as con¬ 
nected with Mr. Maguire which made her feel 
that it would be indelicate to entertain another 



312 


MISS MACKENZIE. 


suitor before that gentleman liacl received a final 
answer. 

As sbe went away from Gower Street to tbe 
Cedars sbe thought of this very sadly, and told 
herself that sbe had been like the ass who starved 
between two bundles of hay, or as the boy who 
had fallen between two stools. 


END OF VOL. i. 


' LONDON : PRINTED BT W. CLOWES AND SONS, STAMFORD STREET 
AND CHARING CROSS.