There was much to incline Mericour to accept this counsel. He had had much conversation with Mr. Adderley, and had attended his ministrations in the chapel, and both satisfied him far better than what he had seen among the French Calninists; and the peace and family affection of the two houses were like a new world to him. But he had not yet made up his mind to that absolute disavowal of his own branch of the Church, which alone could have rendered him eligible for any foundation at Oxford. His attainments in classics would, Mr. Adderley thought, reach such a standard as to gain one of the very few scholarships open to foreigners; and his noble blood revolted at becoming a pensioner of Leicester’s, or of any other nobleman.
Lord Walwyn, upon this, made an earnest offer of his hospitality, and entreated the young man to remain at Hurst Walwyn till the return of Berenger and Philip, during which time he might study under the directions of Mr. Adderley, and come to a decision whether to seek reconciliation with his native Church and his brother, or to remain in England. In this latter case, he might perhaps accompany both the youths to Oxford, for, in spite of Berenger’s marriage, his education was still not supposed to be complete. And when Mericour still demurred with reluctance to become a burden on the bounty of the noble house, he was reminded gracefully of the debt of gratitude that the family owed to him for the relief he had brought to Berenger; and, moreover, Dame Annora giggled out that, ’if he would teach Nan and Bess to speak and read French and Italian, it would be worth something to them.’ The others of the family would have hushed up this uncalled-for proposal; but Mericour caught at it as the most congenial mode of returning the obligation. Every morning he undertook to walk or ride over to the Manor, and there gave his lessons to the young ladies, with whom he was extremely popular. He was a far more brilliant teacher than Lucy, and ten thousand times preferable to Mr. Adderley, who had once begun to teach Annora her accidence with lamentable want of success.
CHAPTER XXIII. THE EMPTY CRADLE
Eager to know
The worst, and with that fatal certainty
To terminate intolerable dread,
He spurred his courser forward—all his fears
Too surely are fulfilled.—SOUTHEY
Contrary winds made the voyage of the THROSTLE much more tardy than had been reckoned on by Berenger’s impatience; but hope was before him, and he often remembered his days in the little vessel as much happier than he had known them to be at the time.