Herbert’s secret was still inviolably kept; no one suspected that he loved, much less that he was betrothed. Nearly two years had passed of that long period which must elapse ere Herbert could hope to make Mary his wife. They had glided quickly, very quickly by, and so too might the remainder; but there was a dark, foreboding feeling pressing heavily upon Herbert’s heart as he looked forward, that robbed anticipation of its charm, and rendered him even more pensive than from his boyhood had been his wont. To strangers, even to his family, he was still the same; to his God alone he laid his spirit bare.
Six weeks after the marriage of Caroline, Oakwood and its neighbourhood was as quiet as it has been when we knew it in former years.
Lord Malvern’s family stayed ten days at Castle Terryn, by the pressing invitation of the young couple, and then returned to their estate in Dorsetshire, leaving Lady Gertrude, however, for a few weeks’ longer residence with her brother and his wife. The young men returned to college. Lilla Grahame remained at home till after the Christmas vacation, when she was once more to reside with Mrs. Douglas for six months or a year longer, according to the state of her mother’s health, who no longer wished to quit Moorlands; and therefore her husband gladly consented to her remain there till Mrs. Hamilton paid her annual visit to London. About this time also, Ellen, accompanied by her brother, fulfilled her promise of visiting her old friend, Mr. Myrvin, and delighted him by making his pretty vicarage her residence till near the middle of November. Edward, with whom the kind old man was as much pleased as he had been with his sister, also remained at Llangwillan during that time, with the exception of three or four flying visits to Oakwood, and latterly to Castle Terryn, where Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, with Emmeline, were staying the few last weeks of his and his sister’s visit at the vicarage. Their company was particularly soothing to Mr. Myrvin at this period; for the letters of his son were causing him extreme solicitude, revealing intentions, to understand which we must for a short period retrace our steps, and thus commence another chapter.
Young Myrvin had been, at the period of Caroline’s marriage, rather more than a year as Mr. Howard’s curate. At first, as we have seen, the example of Herbert had done much towards reconciling him to a profession, which was for many reasons opposed to his feelings. When in the company of his friend, he had imparted to him his struggles with the pride and ambition which still lurked within him, spite of all his endeavours and resolutions to conquer and banish them. While Herbert was near him all was well; his duty was regularly performed, in a manner that satisfied his rector, and sufficiently rewarded Mr. Hamilton for the interest he had taken in his and his father’s welfare; but when Herbert left