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order for their reception. Just before they returned, news reached them of the wedding of Charlotte Arkell. It had been in contemplation some time. And she departed for her future home, her husband holding an appointment in India, taking her sister with her.
And Travice Arkell—how were things going with him? Why he had been baited-badgered-by his mother and sisters into offering himself to one of the “great brazen milkmaids.” From the moment of Lucy's departure from the city, Mrs. Arkell never let him rest. And she pressed her husband into the service. The latter, one morning, called his son into the counting house.
“What is your objection to Miss Fauntleroy, Travice ?” he asked.
“I can't bear the sight of her,” returned Travice, curling his lip contemptuously. “Can you, sir?''
Mr. Arkell half smiled. “Never marry for looks, my boy,” he said, eagerly “Some who have done so before you, have awoke to find themselves bitterly deceived."
“Most likely, sir; if they married for looks alone.”
“ Travice,” said Mr. Arkell, looking keenly at his son, “have you cherished another attachment ?"
The tell-tale blood mounted to Travice Arkell's features. They were one burning crimson.
“My boy," continued Mr. Arkell, noting the signs, “ let me have your confidence in this. If I can promote your happiness, I will. Of whom are you thinking at the present moment?”
A still more burning shade, if, that were possible, rose to the young man's brow. But he answered, “Of Lucy Arkell.”
Mr. Arkell leaned his head upon his hand in thought. At last he
“ Travice, this will never do. God forbid that I should object needlessly to Lucy, my poor cousin Peter's child, but portionless as she is, and you little better, what would become of you? Mildred has no doubt saved a pittance, enough perhaps for them to exist upon, but Lucy has nothing. Besides—bless my heart !-you must have heard that Lucy is to marry young Palmer! What can you have been thinking about, Travice ? Pooh, pooh, my boy! make up your mind to marry Miss Fauntleroy. Whatever becomes of the business, you will then be independent of it.”
“Do you think the business will ever take a turn?” asked Travice, gloomily: “ My son,” cried Mr. Arkell
, in a low tone, "you know that we are getting involved. If our affairs should become seriously so, I believe my heart will break. The two or three thousand pounds, not settled upon her, that Miss Fauntleroy proposes to resign to you, will save my credit, and keep the business afloat for you: and let us hope that brighter days may dawn. Will
Will you thus save yourself and your family, Travice, or will you not? I do not urge you
either “I may as well do it,” muttered Travice to himself. “ She has chosen another, therefore my fate is no longer doubtful : look which way I will, it is all dark. As well go through life with Bab Fauntleroy at my side, like an incubus, as go through it without her !"
And that same evening Mr. Travice Arkell made a formal offer of marriage to Miss Barbara Fauntleroy. Never was a proposal accepted
that betrayed so much hauteur and so little courtesy in the offering. The tidings soon spread through the town. So that when aunt Mildred and Lucy came back, the first news they heard was, that the wedding was being hastened on.
The wedding, however, was not being hastened on, for Travice, in spite of his offer, held back unpardonably. His whole time seemed to be spent in what his mother called “moping." He scarcely ever entered the house of his bride-elect, never unless dragged thither. He called one evening upon Miss Arkell and Lucy, soon after their return. The latter was not in the sitting-room.
“ Where's Lucy ?” he asked, after talking restlessly upon sundry indifferent matters.
“She is taking tea at Mrs. Palmer's," replied Miss Arkell. aches badly, so I did not accompany her.”
“Does she really mean to have that precious fool of a Tom Palmer ?" continued Travice, whirling his hat round and round on the top of his little silver-headed cane, apparently in the utmost unconcern : but had any one been present who knew him better than aunt Mildred did, they could not have failed to perceive that it was done to cover his agitation. “I thought Lucy had better sense.”
Miss Arkell felt indignant, and wondered how he dared to speak in that way.
She answered sharply: . “ Tom Palmer is an excellent young man.
He has a good practice, and will make a good husband. Why should you wish to set Lucy against him ?”
Oh, if Mildred could but have read Travice Arkell's heart that night! if she could but have read Lucy's! How different life might have been for them all! Travice rose to go, and he never called again : so that there was no possibility of an explanation passing between him and Lucy.
The wedding was pushed on now by Mrs. Arkell. It wanted but a few days to the time of its completion, when unpleasant rumours touching the solvency of the good old house of George Arkell and Son reached the ears of Miss Arkell. It was old Mr. Palmer who mentioned them to her. “ I heard it said,” he concluded, “that unless some foreign help can come to them, their names will be in the Gazette."
Miss Arkell was deeply shocked, and poor Lucy's colour went and came, showing the effect the news
her. “You see this wedding of young Travice Arkell's, that is to bring so much money into the family, has been delayed too long," added Mr. Palmer. “It is said, that Íravice, poor fellow, has an unconquerable antipathy to his bride, and only entered into the scheme to save his family."
After the departure of their guest, Lucy sat like one in a dream. Her aunt glanced at her, and mused, and glanced again. “What are you thinking of, Lucy?" she asked.
Lucy burst into tears.
"I was thinking what a blight it is to be poor," she answered “If I had thousands, I would willingly devote all to save Mr. William Arkell. My father told me, when he was dying, that his cousin had helped him times upon times, when he had no one else to turn to, and he was never paid back again."
“And suppose you had money-attend to me, Lucy, for I wish a
serious answer-suppose you were in possession of money, would you be willing to sacrifice a portion of it, to save your late father's relative, William Arkell ?"
“ All, aunt, all !” she answered, eagerly,“ and think it no sacrifice.”
“Then put on your bonnet, Lucy, child,” returned Miss Arkell, “ and come with me.”
When the aunt and niece entered the dwelling-house of Mr. Arkell, the old man- for he was old with trouble, though not with years—was seated in the little back-parlour, looking over accounts and papers
with Mildred had never been in the room since she was a young woman, and it called up painful recollections. Travice's hectic colour grew brighter, when he saw who were their visitors. It was the dusk of evening, and twilight sat on the room : that best hour of all the twenty-four for any embarrassing communication.
“William,” began Miss Arkell, seating herself by Mr. Arkell, and speaking in a low tone, "we have heard it whispered that your affairs are temporarily involved. Is it so ?"
“The world will soon know it, Mildred, above a whisper.” “ It is even so then! What has led to it ?" “Oh, Mildred ! can you ask what has led to it, when you look at the misery and distress everywhere around us? Search the Gazette for the last four or five years, and see how many names you will find in it, who once stood as high as ours did! The only wonder is, that we have not yet gone with the stream. It is a hard case, Mildred,” he continued, 66 when we have toiled all our lives, that the labour should come to nothing at last, and that our closing years, which ought to be given to thoughts of another world, must be distracted with the anxious cares of this.”
“ Is your difficulty serious, or only temporary ?” resumed Miss Arkell.
“ It ought to be only temporary,” he replied; “ but the worst is, I cannot, at the present moment, command my resources. We have kept on manufacturing, hoping for better times; and, to tell you the truth, Mildred, I could not reconcile it to my conscience to turn off my old workmen to beggary. I have a heavy stock of goods on hand; to the amount of some thousands; and this locks up my diminished capital. I am still worth what would cover my business liabilities twice over-and I have no others—but I cannot avail myself of it for present emergencies. I have turned every stone, Mildred, to keep my head above water : and I believe I can struggle no longer."
“What amount of money would effectually relieve you ?” asked Miss Arkell.
“ About three thousand pounds," he replied, answering the question without any apparent interest.
“ Then to-morrow morning that sum shall be placed in the Riverton bank at your disposal. And double that sum if you require it.”
Mr. Arkell looked up in astonishment: and finally addressed to her the very
words which he had once before done, in early life, upon a far different subject.
“ You are dreaming, Mildred !"
She remembered them : had she ever forgotten one word said to her on that eventful night! and sighed as she replied :
“ This money is mine. I enjoyed, as you know, a most liberal salary for seven or eight-and-twenty years ; and, at the first, the money, as it
came in, was placed out to good interest ; later, to good use. Lady Dewsbury also bequeathed me a munificent sum by her will ; so that altogether, I am worth about twelve thousand pounds. And how can I better use part of this money, William, than by serving you ?"
William Arkell shook his head deprecatingly. “ Speak up, Lucy,” continued her aunt.
will all be yours. Is it not at your request that I come this evening to say what I am now saying?"
“Oh, sir," sobbed Lucy, turning round to Mr. Arkell, “ take it all! Let my aunt keep what will be sufficient for her, but I am young and healthy, and can work for my living as she has done. Take all the rest, and save the credit of the family."
The grey-haired man rose, the tears trickling down his cheeks.
“Lucy, child,” he said, placing his hand fondly upon her head, this money exclusively your aunts and yours, I would not hesitate to make use of sufficient of it now to save my good name.
In that case, I should wind up my affairs as soon as would be conveniently possible, retire from business, and see what I could do towards making a living with so much as might remain to me, after repaying you. But this sum that your aunt offers me, may be the very amount that she has set apart as your marriage portion. And what would your husband say at its being otherwise appropriated ?"
“My husband !” exclaimed Lucy in amazement, “ what husband ? I am not going to marry. I have never thought of marrying” Miss Arkell too looked up in surprise, for she had quite forgotten the little romance about
Mr. Palmer. “What do you say, Lucy?” asked Mr. Arkell. “ Are
you to Thomas Palmer ?
Lucy laughed; she could not help it; at the notion, now for the first time presented to her. It was enough to make her laugh, she added, apologetically; the idea of her ever marrying Tom Palmer, the little friend of her childhood.
Travice advanced as she spoke, with a pale cheek and a quivering lip. “ Lucy,” he whispered, " is this true ? İs it true that you do not love Tom Palmer?”
“Love him!” cried Lucy, indignantly, and with reproach in her eye as she looked at Travice, “ you have seen us together hundreds of times : did you ever see anything in my manner to induce you to think I‘loved' him ?”
“ I loved you," murmured Travice, for he read that reproach aright, and his own eyes burst open to the truth, “ I have long loved you ; deeply; passionately: my brightest hopes, the heyday visions of my future existence, were to make you my wife.
But these misfortunes and losses came thick and fast upon my father. They told me at home here, he told
you were poor, and that I was poor, and that it would be madness in us to think of marrying then—as it would have been. So I said to myself that I would be patient and wait : would be content with loving you in secret, as I had done: with seeing you daily, as a relative. And then the news burst upon me that you were to marry Tom Palmer: and I thought what a fool I had been to fancy you cared for me : for I knew that you were not one to marry where you did not love."
“I shall never marry,” uttered Lucy, the tears of anguish coursing
“ Can we
down her face, as she yielded for a moment to the passionate embrace in which Travice would have clasped her. “My lot in life must be like my aunt's, now : unloving and unloved."
“Oh, is there no escape for us!" exclaimed Travice, wildly, as all the painful embarrassment of his position rushed over his mind. not fly together, Lucy-fly to some remote desert place, and leave care and sorrow behind us? Ere the elapse of many days, another woman expects to be my wife! Is there no way of escape for us?”
None; none. The misery of Travice Arkell and his cousin was sealed: their prospects, so far as this world went, were blighted. There were no means by which he could escape the marriage that was rushing on to him with the speed of wings: no means known in the code of honour. And for Lucy, what was left but to live on unwedded, burying her crushed affections within herself, as her aunt had done ?-live on, and, by the help of time, strive to subdue that love which was burning in her heart for the husband of another, rendering every moment of the years that would pass, one of silent agony !
“ The same fate—the same fate!” moaned Mildred Arkell to herself, whilst Lucy sunk into a chair and covered her pale face with her trembling hands. “I might have guessed it! Like aunt, like niece.
, She must go through life as I have done--and bear-and bear! Strange that the younger brother's family, throughout two generations, should have cast their shadow for evil upon that of the elder! A blight must have fallen upon my father's race; but, perhaps in mercy, Lucy is the last of it. If I could have foreseen this
, years ago, the same atmosphere in which lived Travice Arkell should not have been breathed by Lucy. The same fate! the same fate !"
I have already warned you that this was but a melancholy history, and as its beginning was, so is its ending. The fate of Travice Arkell is still mourned in Riverton. Of a sensitive, nervous, excitable temperament, the explanation which took place that evening was too much for him. Conscious that Lucy Arkell passionately loved him; knowing now that she had the money, without which he could not marry, and that part of that money was actually advanced to save his father's credit; knowing also, that he must never more think of her, but must tie himself to one whom he abhorred; that he and Lucy must never again see each other in life, but as friends, and not too much of that, he became ill. Reflection preyed upon him : remorse for doubting Lucy, and hastening to offer himself to Miss Fauntleroy, seated itself in his mind, and ere the day fixed for his marriage arrived, he was laid up with brain fever.
With brain fever! In vain they tried their remedies: their ice to his head; their cooling medicines; their blisters to his feet. His unconscious ravings were, at moments, distressing to hear : his deep love for Lucy; his impassioned adjurations to her to fly with him, and be at peace; his shuddering hatred of Miss Fauntleroy. On the last day of his life, they sent for Lucy, thinking her presence might calm him. But he did not know her: he was past knowing any one.
“ Lucy!” he would utter, in a hollow voice, unconscious that she or any one else was present—" Lucy! we will leave the place for ever. Have you got your things ready? We will go where she can't find us out, and force me to her. Lucy! where are you? Lucy!"