“Anything short of that,” he said.
Miss Heath, as Mrs. Brownlow had guessed, thought an engaged girl as bad as a barrel of gunpowder, and was quite as much afraid of Miss Allen putting nonsense into her pupils’ heads as the doctor could be of the reverse process: so, young teachers not being scarce, Carey’s brief connection with Miss Heath was brought to an end in a morning call, whence she returned endowed with thirteen book-markers, five mats, and a sachet.
Carey had of her own, as it appeared, twenty-five pounds a year, which had hitherto clothed her, and of which she only knew that it was paid to her quarterly by a lawyer at Bath, whose address she gave. Mr. Brownlow followed up the clue, but could not learn much about her belongings. The twenty-five pounds was the interest of the small sum, which had remained to poor Captain Allen, when he wound up his affairs, after paying the debts in which his early and imprudent marriage had involved him. He did not seem to have had any relations, and of his wife nothing was known but that she was a Miss Otway, and that he had met her in some colonial quarters. The old lady, with whom the little girl had been left, was her mother’s maternal aunt, and had lived on an annuity so small that on her death there had not been funds sufficient to pay expenses without a sale of all her effects, so that nothing had been saved for the child, except a few books with her parents’ names in them-John Allen and Caroline Otway-which she still kept as her chief treasures. The lawyer, who had acted as her guardian, would hand over to her five hundred pounds on her coming of age.
That was all that could be discovered, nor was Colonel Robert Brownlow as much flattered as had been hoped by the provision for his friend’s daughter. Nay, he was inclined to disavow the friendship. He was sorry for poor Allen, he said, but as to making a friend of such a fellow, pah! No! there was no harm in him, he was a good officer enough, but he never had a grain of common sense; and whereas he never could keep out of debt, he must needs go and marry a young girl, just because he thought her uncle was not kind to her. It was the worst thing he could have done, for it made her uncle cast her off on the spot, and then she was killed with harass and poverty. He never held up his head again after losing her, and just died of fever because he was too broken down to have energy to live. There was enough in this to weave out a tender little romance, probably really another aspect of the truth, which made Caroline’s bright eyes overflow with tears, when she heard it couched in tenderer language from Joseph, and the few books and treasures that had been rescued agreed with it-a Bible with her father’s name, a few devotional books of her mother’s, and Mrs. Hemans’s poems with “To Lina, from her devoted J. A.”
Caroline would fain have been called Lina, but the name did not fit her, and would not take.