Cousin Henry - Anthony Trollope - ebook
Kategoria: Obyczajowe i romanse Język: angielski Rok wydania: 1879

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Anthony Trollope

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About
Chapter 1 - Uncle Indefer
Chapter 2 - Isabel Brodrick

About Trollope:

Anthony Trollope's father, Thomas Anthony Trollope, worked as a barrister. Thomas Trollope, though a clever and well-educated man and a Fellow of New College, Oxford, failed at the bar due to his bad temper. In addition, his ventures into farming proved unprofitable and he lost an expected inheritance when an elderly uncle married and had children. Nonetheless, he came from a genteel background, with connections to the landed gentry, and so wished to educate his sons as gentlemen and for them to attend Oxford or Cambridge. The disparity between his family's social background and its poverty would be the cause of much misery to Anthony Trollope during his boyhood. Born in London, Anthony attended Harrow School as a day-boy for three years from the age of seven, as his father's farm lay in that neighbourhood. After a spell at a private school, he followed his father and two older brothers to Winchester College, where he remained for three years. He returned to Harrow as a day-boy to reduce the cost of his education. Trollope had some very miserable experiences at these two public schools. They ranked as two of the most élite schools in England, but Trollope had no money and no friends, and got bullied a great deal. At the age of twelve, he fantasized about suicide. However, he also daydreamed, constructing elaborate imaginary worlds. In 1827, his mother Frances Trollope moved to America with Trollope's three younger siblings, where she opened a bazaar in Cincinnati, which proved unsuccessful. Thomas Trollope joined them for a short time before returning to the farm at Harrow, but Anthony stayed in England throughout. His mother returned in 1831 and rapidly made a name for herself as a writer, soon earning a good income. His father's affairs, however, went from bad to worse. He gave up his legal practice entirely and failed to make enough income from farming to pay rents to his landlord Lord Northwick. In 1834 he fled to Belgium to avoid arrest for debt. The whole family moved to a house near Bruges, where they lived entirely on Frances's earnings. In 1835, Thomas Trollope died. While living in Belgium, Anthony worked as a Classics usher (a junior or assistant teacher) in a school with a view to learning French and German, so that he could take up a promised commission in an Austrian cavalry regiment, which had to be cut short at six weeks. He then obtained a position as a civil servant in the British Post Office through one of his mother's family connections, and returned to London on his own. This provided a respectable, gentlemanly occupation, but not a well-paid one. (from Wikipedia)

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Chapter 1 Uncle Indefer

"I have a conscience, my dear, on this matter," said an old gentleman to a young lady, as the two were sitting in the breakfast parlour of a country house which looked down from the cliffs over the sea on the coast of Carmarthenshire.

"And so have I, Uncle Indefer; and as my conscience is backed by my inclination, whereas yours is not—"

"You think that I shall give way?"

"I did not mean that."

"What then?"

"If I could only make you understand how very strong is my inclination, or disinclination—how impossible to be conquered, then—"

"What next?"

"Then you would know that I could never give way, as you call it, and you would go to work with your own conscience to see whether it be imperative with you or not. You may be sure of this,—I shall never say a word to you in opposition to your conscience. If there be a word to be spoken it must come from yourself."

There was a long pause in the conversation, a silence for an hour, during which the girl went in and out of the room and settled herself down at her work. Then the old man went back abruptly to the subject they had discussed. "I shall obey my conscience."

"You ought to do so, Uncle Indefer. What should a man obey but his conscience?"

"Though it will break my heart."

"No; no, no!"

"And will ruin you."

"That is a flea's bite. I can brave my ruin easily, but not your broken heart."

"Why should there be either, Isabel?"

"Nay, sir; have you not said but now, because of our consciences? Not to save your heart from breaking,—though I think your heart is dearer to me than anything else in the world,—could I marry my cousin Henry. We must die together, both of us, you and I, or live broken-hearted, or what not, sooner than that. Would I not do anything possible at your bidding?"

"I used to think so."

"But it is impossible for a young woman with a respect for herself such as I have to submit herself to a man that she loathes. Do as your conscience bids you with the old house. Shall I be less tender to you while you live because I shall have to leave the place when you are dead? Shall I accuse you of injustice or unkindness in my heart? Never! All that is only an outside circumstance to me, comparatively of little moment. But to be the wife of a man I despise!" Then she got up and left the room.

A month passed by before the old man returned to the subject, which he did seated in the same room, at the same hour of the day,—at about four o'clock, when the dinner things had been removed.

"Isabel," he said, "I cannot help myself."

"As to what, Uncle Indefer?" She knew very well what was the matter in which, as he said, he could not help himself. Had there been anything in which his age had wanted assistance from her youth there would have been no hesitation between them; no daughter was ever more tender; no father was ever more trusting. But on this subject it was necessary that he should speak more plainly before she could reply to him.

"As to your cousin and the property."

"Then in God's name do not trouble yourself further in looking for help where there is none to be had. You mean that the estate ought to go to a man and not to a woman?"

"It ought to go to a Jones."

"I am not a Jones, nor likely to become a Jones."

"You are as near to me as he is,—and so much dearer!"

"But not on that account a Jones. My name is Isabel Brodrick. A woman not born to be a Jones may have the luck to become one by marriage, but that will never be the case with me."

"You should not laugh at that which is to me a duty."

"Dear, dear uncle!" she said, caressing him, "if I seemed to laugh"—and she certainly had laughed when she spoke of the luck of becoming a Jones—"it is only that you may feel how little importance I attach to it all on my own account."

"But it is important,—terribly important!"

"Very well. Then go to work with two things in your mind fixed as fate. One is that you must leave Llanfeare to your nephew Henry Jones, and the other that I will not marry your nephew Henry Jones. When it is all settled it will be just as though the old place were entailed, as it used to be."

"I wish it were."

"So do I, if it would save you trouble."

"But it isn't the same;—it can't be the same. In getting back the land your grandfather sold I have spent the money I had saved for you."

"It shall be all the same to me, and I will take pleasure in thinking that the old family place shall remain as you would have it. I can be proud of the family though I can never bear the name."

"You do not care a straw for the family."

"You should not say that, Uncle Indefer. It is not true. I care enough for the family to sympathise with you altogether in what you are doing, but not enough for the property to sacrifice myself in order that I might have a share in it."

"I do not know why you should think so much evil of Henry."

"Do you know any reason why I should think well enough of him to become his wife? I do not. In marrying a man a woman should be able to love every little trick belonging to him. The parings of his nails should be a care to her. It should be pleasant to her to serve him in things most menial. Would it be so to me, do you think, with Henry Jones?"

"You are always full of poetry and books."

"I should be full of something very bad if I were to allow myself to stand at the altar with him. Drop it, Uncle Indefer. Get it out of your mind as a thing quite impossible. It is the one thing I can't and won't do, even for you. It is the one thing that you ought not to ask me to do. Do as you like with the property,—as you think right."

"It is not as I like."

"As your conscience bids you, then; and I with myself, which is the only little thing that I have in the world, will do as I like, or as my conscience bids me."

These last words she spoke almost roughly, and as she said them she left him, walking out of the room with an air of offended pride. But in this there was a purpose. If she were hard to him, hard and obstinate in her determination, then would he be enabled to be so also to her in his determination, with less of pain to himself. She felt it to be her duty to teach him that he was justified in doing what he liked with his property, because she intended to do what she liked with herself. Not only would she not say a word towards dissuading him from this change in his old intentions, but she would make the change as little painful to him as possible by teaching him to think that it was justified by her own manner to him.

For there was a change, not only in his mind, but in his declared intentions. Llanfeare had belonged to Indefer Joneses for many generations. When the late Squire had died, now twenty years ago, there had been remaining out of ten children only one, the eldest, to whom the property now belonged. Four or five coming in succession after him had died without issue. Then there had been a Henry Jones, who had gone away and married, had become the father of the Henry Jones above mentioned, and had then also departed. The youngest, a daughter, had married an attorney named Brodrick, and she also had died, having no other child but Isabel. Mr Brodrick had married again, and was now the father of a large family, living at Hereford, where he carried on his business. He was not very "well-to-do" in the world. The new Mrs Brodrick had preferred her own babies to Isabel, and Isabel when she was fifteen years of age had gone to her bachelor uncle at Llanfeare. There she had lived for the last ten years, making occasional visits to her father at Hereford.

Mr Indefer Jones, who was now between seventy and eighty years old, was a gentleman who through his whole life had been disturbed by reflections, fears, and hopes as to the family property on which he had been born, on which he had always lived, in possession of which he would certainly die, and as to the future disposition of which it was his lot in life to be altogether responsible. It had been entailed upon him before his birth in his grandfather's time, when his father was about to be married. But the entail had not been carried on. There had come no time in which this Indefer Jones had been about to be married, and the former old man having been given to extravagance, and been generally in want of money, had felt it more comfortable to be without an entail. His son had occasionally been induced to join with him in raising money. Thus not only since he had himself owned the estate, but before his father's death, there had been forced upon him reflections as to the destination of Llanfeare. At fifty he had found himself unmarried, and unlikely to marry. His brother Henry was then alive; but Henry had disgraced the family,—had run away with a married woman whom he had married after a divorce, had taken to race courses and billiard-rooms, and had been altogether odious to his brother Indefer. Nevertheless the boy which had come from this marriage, a younger Henry, had been educated at his expense, and had occasionally been received at Llanfeare. He had been popular with no one there, having been found to be a sly boy, given to lying, and, as even the servants said about the place, unlike a Jones of Llanfeare. Then had come the time in which Isabel had been brought to Llanfeare. Henry had been sent away from Oxford for some offence not altogether trivial, and the Squire had declared to himself and others that Llanfeare should never fall into his hands.

Isabel had so endeared herself to him that before she had been two years in the house she was the young mistress of the place. Everything that she did was right in his eyes. She might have anything that she would ask, only that she would ask for nothing. At this time the cousin had been taken into an office in London, and had become,—so it was said of him,—a steady young man of business. But still, when allowed to show himself at Llanfeare, he was unpalatable to them all—unless it might be to the old Squire. It was certainly the case that in his office in London he made himself useful, and it seemed that he had abandoned that practice of running into debt and having the bills sent down to Llanfeare which he had adopted early in his career.

During all this time the old Squire was terribly troubled about the property. His will was always close at his hand. Till Isabel was twenty-one this will had always been in Henry's favour,—with a clause, however, that a certain sum of money which the Squire possessed should go to her. Then in his disgust towards his nephew he changed his purpose, and made another will in Isabel's favour. This remained in existence as his last resolution for three years; but they had been three years of misery to him. He had endured but badly the idea that the place should pass away out of what he regarded as the proper male line. To his thinking it was simply an accident that the power of disposing of the property should be in his hands. It was a religion to him that a landed estate in Britain should go from father to eldest son, and in default of a son to the first male heir. Britain would not be ruined because Llanfeare should be allowed to go out of the proper order. But Britain would be ruined if Britons did not do their duty in that sphere of life to which it had pleased God to call them; and in this case his duty was to maintain the old order of things.

And during this time an additional trouble added itself to those existing. Having made up his mind to act in opposition to his own principles, and to indulge his own heart; having declared both to his nephew and to his niece that Isabel should be his heir, there came to him, as a consolation in his misery, the power of repurchasing a certain fragment of the property which his father, with his assistance, had sold. The loss of these acres had been always a sore wound to him, not because of his lessened income, but from a feeling that no owner of an estate should allow it to be diminished during his holding of it. He never saw those separated fields estranged from Llanfeare, but he grieved in his heart. That he might get them back again he had saved money since Llanfeare had first become his own. Then had come upon him the necessity of providing for Isabel. But when with many groans he had decided that Isabel should be the heir, the money could be allowed to go for its intended purpose. It had so gone, and then his conscience had become too strong for him, and another will was made.

It will be seen how he had endeavoured to reconcile things. When it was found that Henry Jones was working like a steady man at the London office to which he was attached, that he had sown his wild oats, then Uncle Indefer began to ask himself why all his dearest wishes should not be carried out together by a marriage between the cousins. "I don't care a bit for his wild oats," Isabel had said, almost playfully, when the idea had first been mooted to her. "His oats are too tame for me rather than too wild. Why can't he look any one in the face?" Then her uncle had been angry with her, thinking that she was allowing a foolish idea to interfere with the happiness of them all.

But his anger with her was never enduring; and, indeed, before the time at which our story commenced he had begun to acknowledge to himself that he might rather be afraid of her anger than she of his. There was a courage about her which nothing could dash. She had grown up under his eyes strong, brave, sometimes almost bold, with a dash of humour, but always quite determined in her own ideas of wrong or right. He had in truth been all but afraid of her when he found himself compelled to tell her of the decision to which his conscience compelled him. But the will was made,—the third, perhaps the fourth or fifth, which had seemed to him to be necessary since his mind had been exercised in this matter. He made this will, which he assured himself should be the last, leaving Llanfeare to his nephew on condition that he should prefix the name of Indefer to that of Jones, and adding certain stipulations as to further entail. Then everything of which he might die possessed, except Llanfeare itself and the furniture in the house, he left to his niece Isabel.

"We must get rid of the horses," he said to her about a fortnight after the conversation last recorded.

"Why that?"

"My will has been made, and there will be so little now for you, that we must save what we can before I die."

"Oh, bother me!" said Isabel, laughing.

"Do you suppose it is not dreadful to me to have to reflect how little I can do for you? I may, perhaps, live for two years, and we may save six or seven hundred a year. I have put a charge on the estate for four thousand pounds. The property is only a small thing, after all;—not above fifteen hundred a year."

"I will not hear of the horses being sold, and there is an end of it. You have been taken out about the place every day for the last twenty years, and it would crush me if I were to see a change. You have done the best you can, and now leave it all in God's hands. Pray,—pray let there be no more talking about it. If you only knew how welcome he is to it!"


Chapter 2 Isabel Brodrick

When Mr Indefer Jones spoke of living for two years, he spoke more hopefully of himself than the doctor was wont to speak to Isabel. The doctor from Carmarthen visited Llanfeare twice a week, and having become intimate and confidential with Isabel, had told her that the candle had nearly burnt itself down to the socket. There was no special disease, but he was a worn-out old man. It was well that he should allow himself to be driven out about the place every day. It was well that he should be encouraged to get up after breakfast, and to eat his dinner in the middle of the day after his old fashion. It was well to do everything around him as though he were not a confirmed invalid. But the doctor thought that he would not last long. The candle, as the doctor said, had nearly burnt itself out in the socket.

And yet there was no apparent decay in the old man's intellect. He had never been much given to literary pursuits, but that which he had always done he did still. A daily copy of whatever might be the most thoroughly Conservative paper of the day he always read carefully from the beginning to the end; and a weekly copy of the Guardian nearly filled up the hours which were devoted to study. On Sunday he read two sermons through, having been forbidden by the doctor to take his place in the church because of the draughts, and thinking, apparently, that it would be mean and wrong to make that an excuse for shirking an onerous duty. An hour a day was devoted by him religiously to the Bible. The rest of his time was occupied by the care of his property. Nothing gratified him so much as the coming in of one of his tenants, all of whom were so intimately known to him that, old as he was, he never forgot the names even of their children. The idea of raising a rent was abominable to him. Around the house there were about two hundred acres which he was supposed to farm. On these some half-dozen worn-out old labourers were maintained in such a manner that no return from the land was ever forthcoming. On this subject he would endure remonstrance from no one,—not even from Isabel.

Such as he has been here described, he would have been a happy old man during these last half-dozen years, had not his mind been exercised day by day, and hour by hour, by these cares as to the property which were ever present to him. A more loving heart than his could hardly be found in a human bosom, and all its power of love had been bestowed on Isabel. Nor could any man be subject to a stronger feeling of duty than that which pervaded him; and this feeling of duty induced him to declare to himself that in reference to his property he was bound to do that which was demanded of him by the established custom of his order. In this way he had become an unhappy man, troubled by conflicting feelings, and was now, as he was approaching the hour of his final departure, tormented by the thought that he would leave his niece without sufficient provision for her wants.

But the thing was done. The new will was executed and tied in on the top of the bundle which contained the other wills which he had made. Then, naturally enough, there came back upon him the idea, hardly amounting to a hope, that something might even yet occur to set matters right by a marriage between the cousins. Isabel had spoken to him so strongly on the subject that he did not dare to repeat his request. And yet, he thought, there was no good reason why they two should not become man and wife. Henry, as far as he could learn, had given up his bad courses. The man was not evil to the eye, a somewhat cold-looking man rather than otherwise, tall with well-formed features, with light hair and blue-grey eyes, not subject to be spoken of as being unlike a gentleman, if not noticeable as being like one. That inability of his to look one in the face when he was speaking had not struck the Squire forcibly as it had done Isabel. He would not have been agreeable to the Squire had there been no bond between them,—would still have been the reverse, as he had been formerly, but for that connexion. But, as things were, there was room for an attempt at love; and if for an attempt at love on his part, why not also on Isabel's? But he did not dare to bid Isabel even to try to love this cousin.

"I think I would like to have him down again soon," he said to his niece.

"By all means. The more the tenants know him the better it will be. I can go to Hereford at any time."

"Why should you run away from me?"

"Not from you, Uncle Indefer, but from him."

"And why from him?"

"Because I don't love him."

"Must you always run away from the people you do not love?"

"Yes, when the people, or person, is a man, and when the man has been told that he ought specially to love me."

When she said this she looked into her uncle's face, smiling indeed, but still asking a serious question. He dared to make no answer, but by his face he told the truth. He had declared his wishes to his nephew.

"Not that I mean to be in the least afraid of him," she continued. "Perhaps it will be better that I should see him, and if he speaks to me have it out with him. How long would he stay?"

"A month, I suppose. He can come for a month."

"Then I'll stay for the first week. I must go to Hereford before the summer is over. Shall I write to him?" Then it was settled as she had proposed. She wrote all her uncle's letters, even to her cousin Henry, unless there was, by chance, something very special to be communicated. On the present occasion she sent the invitation as follows:—

Llanfeare, 17th June, 187—, Monday.

My dear Henry,

Your uncle wants you to come here on the 1st July and stay for a month. The 1st of July will be Monday. Do not travel on a Sunday as you did last time, because he does not like it. I shall be here the first part of the time, and then I shall go to Hereford. It is in the middle of the summer only that I can leave him. Your affectionate cousin,

Isabel Brodrick.

She had often felt herself compelled to sign herself to him in that way, and it had gone much against the grain with her; but to a cousin it was the ordinary thing, as it is to call any different man "My dear sir," though he be not in the least dear. And so she had reconciled herself to the falsehood.

Another incident in Isabel's life must be told to the reader. It was her custom to go to Hereford at least once a year, and there to remain at her father's house for a month. These visits had been made annually since she had lived at Llanfeare, and in this way she had become known to many of the Hereford people. Among others who had thus become her friends there was a young clergyman, William Owen, a minor canon attached to the cathedral, who during her last visit had asked her to be his wife. At that time she had supposed herself to be her uncle's heiress, and looking at herself as the future owner of Llanfeare had considered herself bound to regard such an offer in reference to her future duties and to the obedience which she owed to her uncle. She never told her lover, not did she ever quite tell herself, that she would certainly accept him if bound by no such considerations; but we may tell the reader that it was so. Had she felt herself to be altogether free, she would have given herself to the man who had offered her his love. As it was she answered him anything but hopefully, saying nothing of any passion of her own, speaking of herself as though she were altogether at the disposal of her uncle. "He has decided now," she said, "that when he is gone the property is to be mine." The minor canon, who had heard nothing of this, drew himself up as though about to declare in his pride that he had not intended to ask for the hand of the lady of Llanfeare. "That would make no difference in me," she continued, reading plainly the expression in the young man's face. "My regard would be swayed neither one way nor the other by any feeling of that kind. But as he has chosen to make me his daughter, I must obey him as his daughter. It is not probable that he will consent to such a marriage."

Then there had been nothing further between them till Isabel, on her return to Llanfeare, had written to him to say that her uncle had decided against the marriage, and that his decision was final.

Now in all this Isabel had certainly been hardly used, though her ill-usage had in part been due to her own reticence as to her own feelings. When she told the Squire that the offer had been made to her, she did so as if she herself had been almost indifferent.

"William Owen!" the Squire had said, repeating the name; "his grandfather kept the inn at Pembroke!"

"I believe he did," said Isabel calmly.

"And you would wish to make him owner of Llanfeare?"

"I did not say so," rejoined Isabel. "I have told you what occurred, and have asked you what you thought."

Then the Squire shook his head, and there was an end of it. The letter was written to the minor canon telling him that the Squire's decision was final.

In all this there had been no allusion to love on the part of Isabel. Had there been, her uncle could hardly have pressed upon her the claims of his nephew. But her manner in regard to the young clergyman had been so cold as to leave upon her uncle an impression that the matter was one of but little moment. To Isabel it was matter of infinite moment. And yet when she was asked again and again to arrange all the difficulties of the family by marrying her cousin, she was forced to carry on the conversation as though no such person existed as her lover at Hereford.

And yet the Squire remembered it all,—remembered that when he had thus positively objected to the grandson of the innkeeper, he had done so because he had felt it to be his duty to keep the grandson of an innkeeper out of Llanfeare. That the grandson of old Thomas Owen, of the Pembroke Lion, should reign at Llanfeare in the place of an Indefer Jones had been abominable to him. To prevent that had certainly been within his duties. But it was very different now, when he would leave his girl poorly provided for, without a friend and without a roof of her own over her head! And yet, though her name was Brodrick, she, too, was a Jones; and her father, though an attorney, had come of a family nearly as good as his own. In no case could it be right that she should marry the grandson of old Thomas Owen. Therefore, hitherto, he had never again referred to that proposal of marriage. Should she again have spoken of it his answer might perhaps have been less decided; but neither had she again spoken of the clergyman.

All this was hard upon Isabel, who, if she said nothing, still thought of her lover. And it must be acknowledged also that though she did not speak, still she thought of her future prospects. She had laughed at the idea of being solicitous as to her inheritance. She had done so in order that she might thereby lessen the trouble of her uncle's mind; but she knew as well as did another the difference between the position which had been promised her as owner of Llanfeare, and that to which she would be reduced as the stepdaughter of a stepmother who did not love her. She knew, too, that she had been cold to William Owen, giving him no sort of encouragement, having seemed to declare to him that she had rejected him because she was her uncle's heiress. And she knew also,—or thought that she knew,—that she was not possessed of those feminine gifts which probably might make a man constant under difficulties. No more had been heard of William Owen during the last nine months. Every now and then a letter would come to her from one of her younger sisters, who now had their own anxieties and their own loves, but not a word was there in one of them of William Owen. Therefore, it may be said that the last charge in her uncle's purpose had fallen upon her with peculiar hardness.

But she never uttered a complaint, or even looked one. As for utterance there was no one to whom she could have spoken it. There had never been many words between her and her own family as to the inheritance. As she had been reticent to her father so had he to her. The idea in the attorney's house at Hereford was that she was stubborn, conceited, and disdainful. It may be that in regard to her stepmother there was something of this, but, let that be as it might, there had been but little confidence between them as to matters at Llanfeare. It was, no doubt, supposed by her father that she was to be her uncle's heir.

Conceited, perhaps, she was as to certain gifts of character. She did believe herself to be strong of purpose and capable of endurance. But in some respects she was humble enough. She gave herself no credit for feminine charms such as the world loves. In appearance she was one calculated to attract attention,—somewhat tall, well set on her limbs, active, and of good figure; her brow was broad and fine, her grey eyes were bright and full of intelligence, her nose and mouth were well formed, and there was not a mean feature in her face. But there was withal a certain roughness about her, an absence of feminine softness in her complexion, which, to tell the truth of her, was more conspicuous to her own eyes than to any others. The farmers and their wives about the place would declare that Miss Isabel was the finest young woman in South Wales. With the farmers and their wives she was on excellent terms, knowing all their ways, and anxious as to all their wants. With the gentry around she concerned herself but little. Her uncle's habits were not adapted to the keeping of much company, and to her uncle's habits she had fitted herself altogether. It was on this account that neither did she know the young men around, nor did they know her. And then, because no such intimacies had grown up she told herself that she was unlike other girls,—that she was rough, unattractive, and unpopular.

Then the day came for the arrival of Henry Jones, during the approach to which Uncle Indefer had, from day to day, become more and more uneasy. Isabel had ceased to say a word against him. When he had been proposed to her as a lover she had declared that she had loathed him. Now that suggestion had been abandoned, or left in abeyance. Therefore she dealt with his name and with his coming as she might with that of any other guest. She looked to his room, and asked questions as to his comfort. Would it not be well to provide a separate dinner for him, seeing that three o'clock would be regarded as an awkward hour by a man from London? "If he doesn't like it, he had better go back to London," said the old Squire in anger. But the anger was not intended against his girl, but against the man who by the mere force of his birth was creating such a sea of troubles.

"I have told you what my intentions are," the Squire said to his nephew on the evening of his arrival.

"I am sure that I am very much obliged to you, my dear uncle."

"You need not be in the least obliged to me. I have done what I conceive to be a duty. I can still change it if I find that you do not deserve it. As for Isabel, she deserves everything that can be done for her. Isabel has never given me the slightest cause for displeasure. I doubt whether there is a better creature in the world living than Isabel. She deserves everything. But as you are the male heir, I think it right that you should follow me in the property—unless you show yourself to be unworthy."

This was certainly a greeting hard to be endured,—a speech very difficult to answer. Nevertheless it was satisfactory, if only the old Squire would not again change his mind. The young man had thought much about it, and had come to the resolution that the best way to insure the good things promised him would be to induce Isabel to be his wife.

"I'm sure she is all that you say, Uncle Indefer," he replied.

Uncle Indefer grunted, and told him that if he wanted any supper, he had better go and get it.