I talk as if we three had played this game with one mind. But indeed I was six years younger than the others, and barely nine years old when my brother Mark tired of it and left me, who hitherto had been his obedient scout, to play at the game alone. For Margery turned to follow Mark in this as in everything, although with her it had been more earnest play. For him the fun began and ended with the ambush, the supposed raid and its swashing deeds of valour; for her all these were but incident to a scheme, long brooded on, by which we were to amass plunder sufficient to buy back the family estate of Lantine with all the consequence due to an ancient name in which the rest of us forgot to feel any pride. But this was my sister Margery’s way; to whom, as honour was her passion, so the very shadows of old repute, dead loyalties, perished greatness, were idols to be worshipped. By a ballad, a story of former daring or devotion, a word even, I have seen her whole frame shaken and her eyes brimmed with bright tears; nay, I have seen tears drop on her clasped hands, in our pew in St. Sampson’s Church, with no more cause than old Parson Kendall’s stuttering through the prayer for the King’s Majesty—and this long before the late trouble had come to distract our country. She walked our fields beside us, but in company with those who walked them no longer; when she looked towards Lantine ’twas with an angry affection. In the household she filled her dead mother’s place, and so wisely that we all relied on her without thinking to wonder or admire; yet had we stayed to think, we had confessed to ourselves that the love in which her care for us was comprehended reached above any love we could repay or even understand—that she walked a path apart from us, obedient to a call we could not hear.
In her was born the spirit which sends men to die for a cause; but since God had fashioned her a girl and condemned her to housework, she took (as it were) her own hope in her hands and laid it all upon her twin brother. They should have been one, not twain. He had the frame to do, and for him she nourished the spirit to impel. With her own high thoughts she clothed him her hero, and made him mine also. And Mark took our homage enough, without doubting he deserved it. He was in truth a fine fellow, tall, upright, and handsome, with the delicate Lantine hands and a face in which you saw his father’s features refined and freshly coloured to the model of the Lantine portraits which hung in the best sitting-room to remind us of our lost glories. For me, I take after my mother, who was a farmer’s daughter of no lineage.