« PreviousContinue »
what's more, we've no time to lose; money, which circumstance, connected this is Tuesday – Christmas-day is with another which I shall shortly Saturday-we must of course stop a mention, had given the poor girl not night on the way. Hadn't we better
a little concern. At her earnest re. have Griffiths in, to arrange all?"- quest, her brother had, about a year Aubrey rang the bell.
before, built her a nice little school, “ Request Mr Griffiths to come to capable of containing some eighteen me," said he.
or twenty girls, on a slip of land near Within a very few minutes that re. the vicarage, and old Mrs Aubrey and spectable functionary had made his her daughter found a resident school. appearance and received his instruc- mistress, and, in fact, supported the tions. The march to Shropshire was little establishment, which, at the time countermanded — and hey! for Yat. I am speaking of, contained some ton, for which they were to start the seventeen or eighteen of the villagers' next day about noon. Mr Griffiths' younger children. Miss Aubrey took first step was to pack off Sam, Mr a prodigious interest in this little Aubrey's groom, by the Tally-ho, the school, scarce a day passing without first coach to York, starting at two her visiting it when she was at Yatton; o'clock that very day, with letters an- and what Kate wanted, was the luxury nouncing the immediate arrival of the of giving a Christmas present to both family. These orders were received mistress and scholars. That, howby Sam, (who had been born and bred ever, she would have had some diffiat Yatton,) while he was bestowing, culty in effecting but for her brother's with vehement sibillation, his custom- timely present, which had quite set ary civilities on a favourite mare of her heart at ease. On their return, his master's. Down dropped his cur- the carriage was crowded with the rycomb; he jumped into the air; things they had been purchasingsnapped his fingers ; then he threw articles of clothing for the feebler old his arms round Jenny and tickled her villagers; work-boxes, samplers, books, under the chin. “ Dang it," said he, as testaments, prayer-books, &c. &c. &c., he threw her another feed of oats, “ I for the school; the sight of which, wish thee was going wi' me-dang'd I can assure the reader, made Kate if I don't!” Then he hastily made far happier than if they had been himself a bit tidy; presented himself the costliest articles of dress and jewelvery respectfully before Mr Griffiths, lery. to receive the wherewithal to pay his The next day was a very pleasant fare ; and having obtained it, off he one for travelling "frosty, but kindscampered to the Bull and Mouth, as ly.” About one o'clock there might if it had been a neck-and. neck race have been seen standing before the between him and all London, which door the roomy yellow family carriage, should get down to Yorkshire first. with four post-horses, all in travelling A little after one o'clock, his packet trim. In the rumble sat Mr Aubrey's of letters was delivered to him; and valet and Mrs Aubrey's maid — Miss within another hour Sam was to Aubrey's, and one of the nurserybe seen (quite comfortable with a maids, going down by the coach which draught of spiced ale given him by had carried Sam—the Tally-ho. The the cook, to make his dinner sit well) coach-box was piled up with that sort on the top of the Tally-ho, rattling of luggage which, by its lightness and along the great North road.
bulk, denotes lady-travelling : inside • Come, Kate," said Mrs Aubrey, were Mrs and Miss Aubrey, muffled entering Miss Aubrey's room, where in furs, shawls, and pelisses; a nurseryshe was giving directions to her maid, maid, with little Master and Miss " I've ordered the carriage to be at Aubrey, equally well protected from the door as soon as it can be got ready; the cold; and the vacant seat awaited we must go off to Coutts'--see !” She Mr Aubrey, who at length made his held two thin slips of paper, one of appearance, having been engaged in which she gave Miss Aubrey-'twas giving specific instructions concerning a check for one hundred pounds-her the forwarding of his letters and papers. brother's usual Christmas-box_" and As soon as he had taken his place, and then we've a quantity of little matters all had been snugly disposed within, the to buy this afternoon. Come, love, steps were doubled up, the door closed,
the windows drawn up-crack ! crack! Now, Kate had spent nearly all her went the whips of the two postilions,
and away rolled the carriage over the Tatham, who hy that time was canterdry hard pavement.
ing along beside the open window. “ Now that's what I calls doing it 'Twas refreshing to see the cheerful uncommon comfortable,” said a pot- old man-who looked as ruddy and boy to one of the footmen at an adjoin, hearty as ever. ing house, where he was delivering " All well ?" he exclaimed, riding the porter for the servants' dinner; close to the window. “ how werry nice and snug them two “ Yes, but how is my mother ? " looks in the rumble behind.”
enquired Aubrey. " We goes to-morrow,” carelessly « High spirits-high spirits: was replied the gentleman he was address with her this afternoon. Have not ing.
seen her better for years. So sur“ It's a fine thing to be gentlefolk," prised. Ah! here's an old friendsaid the boy, taking up his pot board. Hector!”
- Ya-as, drawled the footman, 66 Bow-wow-wow-wow ! Bow ! twitching up his shirt collar.
Bow-wow !" On drawing up to the posting-house,
papa!” exclaimed the which was within about forty miles of voice of little Aubrey, struggling to Yatton, the Aubreys found a carriage get on his father's lap to look out of and four just ready to start, after the window, " That is Hector! I changing horses; and whose should know it is! He is come to see me! this prove to be, but Lord De la I want to look at him!” Zouch's, containing himself, his lady, Mr Aubrey lifted him up as he deand his son, Mr Delamere. His lord. sired, and a huge black-and-white ship and his son both alighted on ac- Newfoundland dog almost leaped up cidentally discovering who had over- to the window at sight of him claptaken them; and coming up to Mr ping his little hands, as if in eager reAubrey's carriage windows, exchang- cognition, and then scampered and ed surprised and cordial greetings bounded about in all directions, barkwith its occupants,—whom Lord De ing most boisterously, to the infinite . la Zouch imagined to have been by delight of little Aubrey. This mesthis time on their way to Shropshire. senger had been sent on by Sam, the Mr Delamere manifested a surprising groom, who had been on the look out eagerness about the welfare of little for the travellers for some time; and Agnes Aubrey, who happened to be the moment he caught sight of the lying fast asleep in Miss Aubrey's lap: carriage, pelted down the village, but the evening was fast advancing, through the park at top speed, up to and both the travelling parties had the hall, there to communicate the yet before them a considerable portion good news. The travellers thought of their journey. After a hasty pro- that the village had never looked so mise on the part of each to dine with the pretty and picturesque before. The other, before returning to town for the sound of the carriage dashing through season-a promise which Mr Dela- it, called all the cottagers to their mere at all events resolved should not doors, where they stood bowing and be lost sight of_they parted. 'Twas curtsying. It soon reached the parkeight o'clock before Mr Aubrey's eye, gates, which were thrown wide open which had been for some time on the in readiness for its entrance. As they look-out, caught sight of Yatton woods; passed the church, they heard its little and when it did, his heart yearned to- bells ringing a merry peal to welcome wards them. The moon shone brightly their arrival ; its faint chimes went to and cheerily, and it was pleasant their very hearts. to listen to the quickening clattering “ My darling Agnes, here we are tramp of the horses upon the dry again in the old place,” said Mr Auhard highway, as the travellers rapidly brey, in a joyous tone, affectionately neared a spot endeared to them by kissing Mrs Aubrey and his sister, as, every tender association. When with- after having wound their way up the in half a mile of the village, they over- park at almost a gallop, they heard took the worthy Vicar, who had themselves rattling over the stone mounted his nag, and been out on the pavement immediately under the old road to meet the expected comers, for turreted gateway. In approaching it, an hour before. Aubrey roused Mrs they saw lights glancing about in the Aubrey from her nap, to point out Dr hall windows; and before they had
and had ap
drawn up, the great door was thrown illuminated it. The walls were oakopen, and several servants (one or two paneled, containing many pictures, of them greyheaded) made their ap several of them of great value ; and pearance, eager to release the travel the floor also was of polished oak, lers from their long confinement. A over the centre of which, however, great wood-fire was crackling and was spread a thick richly-coloured blazing in the fireplace opposite the turkey carpet. Opposite the door door, casting a right pleasant and was a large mullioned bay-window, cheerful light over the various antique then, however, concealed bebind an objects ranged around the walls; but ample flowing crimson curtain. On the object on which Mr Aubrey's eye the further side of the fireplace stood instantly settled was the venerable a high-backed and roomy arm.chair, figure of his mother, standing beside almost covered with Kate's embroithe fireplace with one or two female dery, and in which Mrs Aubrey had attendants. The moment that the evidently, as usual, been sitting till carrige door was opened, he stepped the moment of their arrival-for on a quickly out, (nearly tumbling, by the small ebony table beside it lay her way, over Hector, who appeared to spectacles, and open volume. think that the carriage-door was Nearly fronting the fireplace was a opened only to enable him to jump recess, in which stood an exquisitely into it, which he prepared to do.) carved black ebony cabinet, inlaid with
“ God bless you, Madam !” falter- white and red ivory. This, Miss Aued Aubrey, his eyes filling with tears, brey claimed as her own, as he received his mother's fervent, propriated it to her own purposes but silent greeting, and imagined that ever since she was seven years old. the arms folded round him were some. “ You, dear old thing!" said she, what feebler than when he had last throwing open the folding-doors-felt them embracing him. With simi- “ Every thing just as I left it! Really, lar affection was the good old lady re- dear mamma, I could skip about the ceived by her daughter and daughter- room for joy! I wish Charles would in-law.
never leave Yatton again!”. “Where is my pony, grandmamma?" “ It's rather lonely, my love, when quoth little Aubrey, running up to her, none of you are with me," said Mrs (he had been kept quiet for the last Aubrey. “ I feel getting older”. eighty miles or so, by the mention of
“ Dearest mamma, interrupted the aforesaid pony.) " Where is it? Miss Aubrey, quickly, “ I won't leave I want to see my little pony directly! you again! I'm quite tired of town Mamma says you have got a little -I am indeed!" pony for me with a long tail; I must Though fires were lit in their sevesee it before I go to bed; I must, in. ral dressing-rooms, of which they were deed_is it in the stable ?”
more than once reminded by their re. “ You shall see it in the morning, my spective attendants, they all remained darling—the very first thing," said seated before the fire in carriage cosMrs Aubrey, fervently kissing her tume, (except that Kate had thrown beautiful little grandson, while tears aside her bonnet, her half-uncurled of joy and pride ran down her cheek. tresses hanging in negligent profusion She then pressed her lips on the deli. over her thickly-furred pelisse,) eagercate but flushed cheek of little Agnes, ly conversing about the incidents of who was fast asleep ; and as soon as their journey, and the events which they had been conducted towards their had transpired at Yatton since they nursery, Mrs Aubrey, followed by her had quitted it. At length, however, children, led the way to the dining- they retired to perform the refreshing room--the dear delightful old dining- duties of the dressing room, before sitroom, in which all of them had passed ting down to supper. Of that com. so many happy hours of their lives. fortable meal, within twenty minutes' It was large and lofty; and two an- time or so, they partook with hearty tique branch silver eandlesticks, stand. relish. What mortal, however deli. ing on sconces upon each side of a cate, could resist the fare set before strange old straggling carved mantle- them—the plump capon, the delicious piece of inlaid oak, aided by the blaze grilled ham, the poached eggs, the given out by two immense logs of floury potatoes, home-baked bread, wood burning beneath, thoroughly white and brown-custards, mincepies - home-brewed ale, as soft as there was Gregory, who held the inilk, as clear as amber-mulled cla- smallest farm on the estate, at its ret-and so forth? The travellers southern extremity - he was three had evidently never relished any thing quarters' rent in arrear—but he had a more, to the infinite delight of old sick wife and seven children-so he Mrs Aubrey; who observing, soon was at once forgiven all that was due, afterwards, irrepressible symptoms of and also what would become due on fatigue and drowsiness, ordered them the ensuing quarter-day,—" In fact," all off to bed-Kate sleeping in the said Mr Aubrey, “ don't ask him for same chamber in which she sate when any more rent.
I'm sure the poor the reader was permitted to catch a fellow will pay when he's able." moonlight glimpse of her, as already Some rents were to be raised ; more than once referred to.
others lowered ; and some half dozen They did not make their appearance of the poorer cottages were to be forth. the next morning till after nine o'еlock, with put into good repair, at Mr Au. Mrs Aubrey having read prayers be- brey's expense. The two oxen had fore the assembled servants, as usual, been sent, on the preceding afternoon, nearly an hour before--a duty her son from the home farm to the butcher's, always performed when at the Hall- to be distributed among the poorer but on this occasion he had overslept villagers, according to orders brought himself. He found his mother in the down from town, by Sam, the day breakfast-room, where she was soon before. Thus was Mr Aubrey enjoined by her daughter and daughter- gaged for an hour or two, till lunchin-law, all of them being in high eon time, when good Dr Tatham made health and spirits. Just as they were bis welcome appearance, having been finishing breakfast, little Aubrey burst engaged most of the morning in touchinto the room in a perfect ecstasy-for ing up an old Christmas sermon. old Jones had taken him round to the He had been vicar of Yatton for stables, and shown him the little pony nearly thirty years, having been prewhich had been bought for him only sented to it by the late Mr Aubrey, a few months before. He had heard with whom he had been intimate at it neigh-had seen its long tail-had college. He was a delightful speci. patted its neck_had seen it eat-and men of a country parson. Cheerful, now his vehement prayer was, that his unaffected, and good-natured, there Papa, and mamma, and Kate, would was a dash of quaintness, or roughness immediately go and see it, and take his about his manners, that reminded you little sister also. Breakfast over, they of the crust in very fine old port. He separated. Old Mrs Aubrey went to had been a widower, and childless, for her own room to be attended by her fifteen years. His parish had been housekeeper; the other two ladies re- ever since his family, whom he still tired to their rooms-
S--Kate principally watched over with an affectionate engaged in arranging her presents for vigilance. He was respected and her little scholars : and Mr Aubrey re- beloved by all. Almost every man, paired to his library-was delightful an woman, and child that had died in old snuggery as the most studious re- Yatton, during nearly thirty years, cluse could desire--where he was pre- had departed with the sound of his sently attended by his bailiff. He kind and soleron voice in their ears. found that every thing was going on He claimed a sort of personal ac. as he could have wished. With one quaintance with almost all the grave, or two exceptions, his rents were paid stones in his little churchyard ; and most punctually ; the farms and lands when he looked at them, he felt that kept in capital condition. To be sure he had done his duty by the dust that an incorrigible old poacher had been slept underneath. He was at the bed. giving his people a little trouble, as side of a sick person almost as soon, usual, and was committed for trial at and as often, as the doctor-no mat. the Spring Assizes; a few trivial tres- ter what sort of weather, or at what passes had been committed in search hour of the day or night. Methinks of firewood, and other small matters ; I see him now, bustling about the vilwhich, after having been detailed with lage, with healthy ruddy cheek, a great minuteness by his zealous and clear, cheerful eye, hair white as vigilant bailiff, were dispatched by Mr snow;. with a small, stout figure, Aubrey with a “pooh, pooh!"--then clothed in a suit of rusty black,
(knee-breeches and gaiters all round While Miss Aubrey, accompanied the year,) and with a small shovel-hat. by her sister-in-law, and followed by No one lives in the vicarage with him a servant carrying a great bag, filled but an elderly woman, his house. with articles brought from London keeper, and her husband, whose chief the day before, went to the school business is to look after the little gar- which I have before mentioned, in den ; in which I have often seen him order to distribute her prizes and preand his master, with his coat off, dig- sents, Mr Aubrey and Dr Tatham ging for hours together. He rises at set off on a walk through the village. five in the winter, and four in the “ I must do something for that old summer, being occupied till breakfast steeple of yours, doctor,” said Auwith his studies ; for he was an excel. brey, as arm in arm they approached lent scholar, and has not forgotten, the church ; " it looks crumbling in the zealous discharge of his sacred away in many parts.". duties, the pursuits of literature and “ If you'd only send a couple of maphilosophy, in which he gained no in- sons to repair the porch, and make it considerable distinction in his youth. weather-tight, it would satisfy me for He derives a very moderate income some years to come," said the doctor. from his living ; but it is even more " Well— we'll look at it,” replied than sufficient for his necessities. Aubrey ; and turning aside, they enEver since Mr Aubrey's devotion to tered the little churchyard. politics has carried him away from " How I love this old yew-tree !” Yatton for a considerable portion of he exclaimed, as they passed under each year, Dr Tatham has been the it; “it casts a kind of tender gloom right-hand counsellor of old Mrs Au- around that always makes me pensive, brey, in all her pious and charitable not to say melancholy.” A sigh plans and purposes. Every new-years'- escaped him, as his eye glanced at day, there comes from the hall to the the family vault, which was almost in vicarage six dozen of fine old port the centre of the shade, where lay his wine-a present from Mrs Aubrey ; father, three brothers, and a sister, but the little doctor (though he never and where, in the course of nature, tells her so) scarce drinks six bottles a few short years would see the preof them in a year.
Two dozen of cious remains of his mother depositthem go, within a few days' time, to a ed. But the doctor, who had haspoor brother parson in an adjoining tened forward alone for a moment, parish, who, with his wife and three finding the church-door open, called children-all in feeble health-can out to Mr Aubrey, who soon stood hardly keep body and soul together, within the porch. It certainly reand who, but for this generous bro- quired a little repairing, which Mr ther, would not probably taste a glass Aubrey said should be looked to im. of wine throughout the year, except mediately. " See-we're all prepaon certain occasions when the very ring for to-morrow,” said Dr Tatham, humblest may moisten their poor lips leading the way into the little church, with wine-I mean the SACRAMENT- where the grizzle-headed clerk was the sublime and solemn festival given busy decorating the pulpit, readingby One who doth not forget the poor desk, and altar-piece, with the cheer. and destitute, however in their mi. ful emblems of the season. sery they may sometimes think to the “ I never see these," said the doccontrary. The remainder of his little tor, taking up one of the sprigs of present Dr Tatham distributes in mistletoe lying on a form beside them, small quantities amongst such of his " but I think of your own Christmas parishioners as may require it, and verses, Mr Aubrey, when you were may not happen to have come under younger and fresher than you now are the immediate notice of Mrs Aubrey. don't you recollect them ?” Dr Tatham has known Mr Aubrey - Oh-pooh!" ever since he was about five
old. " But I remember them ;" and he 'Twas the doctor that first taught began,him Greek and Latin ; and, up to his going to college, gave him the fre- " • Hail! silvery, modest mistletoe, quent advantage of his learned expe. Wreath'd round winter's brow of snow, rience. But surely I have gone into Clinging so chastely, tenderly: a very long digression,
Hail holly, darkly, richly green,