AGAINST HER INCLINATION.
Mr. Fairfax was not a man of sentimental recollections. Nevertheless, it did occur to him, as the twilight deepened, that somewhere in the encumbered churchyard that he was looking down upon lay his son Geoffry and Geoffry’s first wife, Elizabeth. He felt a very lonely old man as he thought of it. None of his sons’ marriages were to boast of, but Geoffry’s, as it turned out, was the least unfortunate of any—Geoffry’s marriage with Elizabeth Bulmer, that is. If he had not approved of that lady, he had tolerated her—pity that he had not tolerated her a little more! The Forest climate had not suited the robust young Woldshire folk. Once Geoffry had appealed to his father to help him to change his benefice, but had experienced a harsh refusal. This was after Elizabeth had suffered from an attack of rheumatism and ague, when she longed to escape from the lovely, damp screens of the Forest to fresh Wold breezes. She died, and Geoffry took another wife. Then he died of what was called in the district marsh-fever. Mr. Fairfax was not impervious to regret, but no regret would bring them to life again.
The next morning, while the dew was on the grass, he made his way into the churchyard, and sought about for Geoffry’s grave. He discovered it in a corner, marked by a plain headstone and shaded by an elder bush. It was the stone Geoffry had raised in memory of his Elizabeth, and below her name his was inscribed, with the date of his death. The churchyard was all neatly kept—this grave not more neatly than the others. Mrs. Carnegie’s affections had flowed into other channels, and Bessie had no turn for meditation amongst the tombs. Mr. Fairfax felt rather more forlorn after he had seen his son’s last home than before, and might have sunk into a fit of melancholy but for the diversion of his mind to present matters. Just across the road Mr. Carnegie was mounting his horse for his morning ride to the union workhouse, and Bessie was at the gate seeing him off.
The little girl was not at all tired, flushed, or abstracted now. She was cheerful as a lark, fresh, fair, rosy—more like a Fairfax than ever. But when she caught sight of her grandfather over the churchyard wall, she put on her grave airs and mentioned the fact to Mr. Carnegie. Mr. John Short had written already to bespeak an interview with Bessie’s guardian, and to announce the arrival of Mr. Fairfax at the “King’s Arms.” But at the same moment had come an imperative summons from the workhouse, and Mr. Carnegie was not the doctor to neglect a sick poor man for any business with a rich one that could wait. He had bidden his wife receive the lawyer, and was leaving her to appoint the time when Bessie directed his attention to her grandfather. With a sudden movement he turned his horse, touched his hat with his whip-handle, and said, “Sir, are you Mr. Fairfax?” The