All the young men went to the funeral; but Mrs. Brownlow felt that it was a time for friends to hold back till they were needed, when relations had retreated; so she only sent Babie, whom Mrs. Evelyn and Sydney could not spare, and she followed after three weeks, when Allen was released from his unwelcome work.
She found Mrs. Evelyn feeling it much more difficult to keep up than it had been at first, now that she sorely missed the occupation of her life. For full twenty years she had had an invalid on her mind, and Cecil’s marriage had made further changes in her life. It was not the fault of the young couple. They did not love their new honours at all. Apart from their affection, Cecil hated trouble and responsibility, and could not bear to shake himself out of his groove, and Esther was frightened at the charge of a large household. Their little home was still a small paradise to them, and they implored their mother to allow things to go on as they were, and Cecil continue in the Guards, while she reigned as before at Fordham; letting the Cavendish Square house, which Essie viewed with a certain nervous horror.
Mrs. Evelyn had so far consented that the change need not be made for at least a year. Her dower house was let, and she would remain as mistress of Fordham till the term was over, by which time the young Lady Fordham might have risen to her position, and her Lord be less unwilling to face his new cares.
“And they will be always wanting me to take the chair,” said he, in a deplorable voice that made the others laugh in spite of themselves; and he was so grateful to his mother for staying in his house, and letting him remain in his regiment, that he seemed to have quite forgotten that the power was in his own hands.
You know, my father left me some prescriptions
Of rare and prov’d effects, such as his reading,
And manifest experience, had collected
For general sovereignty; and that he will’d me
In heedfullest reservation to bestow them,
As notes, whose faculties inclusive were,
More than they were in note.
All’s Well that Ends Well.
Another year had come and gone, with its various changes, and the mother of the Collingwood Street household felt each day that the short life of Marmaduke Viscount Fordham had not been an unimportant one to her children.
It had of course told the most on Barbara. Her first great grief seemed to have smoothed out the harsher lines of her character, and made her gentle and tolerant as she had never been; or more truly, she had learnt charity at a deeper source. That last summer had lifted her into a different atmosphere. What she had shared with Fordham she loved. She had felt the reality of the invisible world to him, and knew he trusted to her meeting his spirit there even in this life, and the strong faith of his mother had strengthened the impression.