‘If my mother could speak to me,’ said Louis, with trembling lips, ’she would surely bid me to try my utmost, as far as in me lies, to bring peace and happiness to my father. I cannot tell where the errors may have been, and I will never ask. If she was as like to me as they say, I could understand some of them! At least, I know that I am doubly bound to give as little vexation to him as possible, and I trust that you will not make it harder to me. You lost your father so early, that you can hardly estimate—’
‘The trial?’ said James, willing to give what had passed the air of a joke.
‘Exactly so—Good night.’
Sometimes a troop of damsels glad—
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
Or long-haired page in crimson clad,
Goes by to towered Camelot;
And sometimes, through the mirror blue,
The knights come riding two and two.
She hath no loyal knight and true—
The Lady of Shalott.
’Oakstead, Oct. 14th, 1847.
’My Dear Aunt,—I find that Fitzjocelyn is writing to you, but I think you will wish for a fuller account of him than can be obtained from his own letters. Indeed, I should be much obliged if you would kindly exercise your influence to persuade him that he is not in a condition to be imprudent with impunity. Sir Miles Oakstead was absolutely shocked to see the alteration in his appearance, as well as in his spirits; and although both our kind host and hostess are most solicitous on his account, it happens unfortunately that they are at this juncture quite alone, so that he is without companions of his own age. I must not, however, alarm you. The fact is, that circumstances have occurred which, though he has acted in the most exemplary manner, have harassed and distressed him a good deal, and his health suffers from the difficulty of taking sufficient exercise. James will triumph when he hears that I regret having shortened his stay by the sea-side; for neither the place nor the weather seems to agree with him: he has had a recurrence of wakeful nights, and is very languid. Poor boy! yesterday he wandered out alone in the rain, lost his way, and came home so fatigued that he slept for three hours on the sofa, but to-day he seems better—has more colour, and has been less silent. We go to Leffingham Castle from Monday till Thursday, when I shall take him to London for Hastings to decide whether it be fit for him to return to Christchurch after the vacation, according to his own most anxious wish. With my love to Mary Ponsonby and her daughter, and best remembrances to James,
The same envelope contained another letter of many sheets, beginning in a scrawl:—
’Scene—Rose-coloured Pastor’s Nest. Tables, chairs, books, papers, despatch-boxes. The two ex-ministers writing and consulting. Viscount F. looking on like a colt running beside its parent at plough, thinking that harness leaves deep marks, and that he does not like the furrow.