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Rebellious Beatrice


_=- =" [ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.]' Rebellious Beatrice BY ATHOL FORBES, Author of Cassock and Comedy," A Son of Rimnnon," If Love were All," &c. Inequality of birth or position is no rule ia the grammar of love. This must be ad- mitted frankly on my part before I pass on to tell the story of Rebellious Beatrice. Real love magnifies everything; it places in the same scales the fall of an empire and the dropping of a v. man's glove. The magnify- ing power is in direct ratio to the strength of love, of course, but sometimes girls mistake » kindly interest on their part, and enthusi- asm for a course which sounds ideal in theory, as the real thing. And tffis I ven- ture to think was the case with Beatrice. At that time I was chaplain to the Bishop of Nunchester. As he was nervous in the presence of ladies, it generally fell to my lot to interview strangers of the fair sex who desired to see him, and to exercise my in- genuity in preventing them getting into the episcopal presence. Gossip said that his Lordship had been soured by an early love adventure, when the object of his curate af- fection had married the other man. The dean's wife confidently affirmed that he had been jilted—and on the very day of his wed- ding. My old chief was always uncomfortable in the presence of ladies, and I never saw him look one in the face. He would do a great deal to avoid meeting them, and his efforts in this direction frequently gave people a wrong idea of his true character, which was singularly kind and generous. One day there came a letter from a lady stating that she was in great trouble, and re- questing an interview. Like many more who wrote for personal interviews, she concluded by stating that she hoped to call at the palace about three o'clock in the afternoon of the day we received the communication. "You might see to that," he said in a cer- tain nervous way that he had in speaking of one of the other sex. The writer of the note was a Mrs. Mill- bank. fene lived some thirty miles from Nun- chester, and was the widow of a very suc- cessful Bradford merchant. She was enor- mously rich, and lived in a large mansion on her own estate, both of which had been pur- chased by her husband some years before his death. Once when consecrating additional ground in the village churchyard, Mrs. Mill- bank had given the Bishop and myself lunch after the ceremony. I remember there was a large space of about four acres of ground en- tirely given up to the cultivation of roses in all their variety, a hobby to which her late "husband had been passionately devoted. Shortly after three- Mrs. Ikxllbank arrived. I explained to her that the Bishop was more than iually busy with important matters, that he hoped it was nothing serious, and wished me to place my services at her dis- posal. Yuu art6 most kind," she said. Hie fact is, I am in very great distress indeed. Why I wrote to the Bishon wasI know he has a marvellous mind for grasping difficul- ties, and I.,felt that it would require more than ordinary means to get me out of my present trouble. It is about my daughter Beatrice. As you possibly know, she is my only child. Since my husband's death we have kept no" companjj' p,a. practically fhave seep no one except' tlife'Vicar and his wife. 10 iuake matters worse, the latter ancl I had some words last Christmas over the decora- tions at the church, a trivial matter, but evidently regarded by the Yicar's wife in a more serious light, for she has only once called since, and her manner showed me that she considered herself aggrieved. I was afraid that the whole matter was a feminine quarrel, and perhrps my face was expressive of impatience—I certainly did glance at the timepiece on the mantelshelf. "I mention this," she quickly interrupted, "because I wish you to understand why I apply to the Bishop for help in the difficulty which I am about to tell you of. In the ordinary course of events I could have gone to the Vicar, but under existing circum- stances it is out of the question. As I was saying, it is about my daughter., I had oc- casion to walk down the rose' garden yester- day morning, when to my horror there was Beatrice seated on a bench, and beside her, with his arm around her waist, was a youth —James Crawhall—a lad who had just come from the village school, where he was a failure as a pllpii teacher, and to oblige the Vicar I put him to learn gardening. This lad has been with, us about seven months. He is about eighteen years of age, but looks cider. My daughter is nineteen." Here again she hesitated, and it was some little time before she went on again. To say that I was pained and shocked does not half express my feelings at what I saw. My first impulse was to rush at them, or shout, but to save a scene I walked back to the house. On my way I saw MacNay, my head gardener, and I asked him where Crawhall was. H f In the rose garden, ma'am.' He looked at me in a significant way, and then said: I am forced to tell you, ma'am, that Crawhall of late has become much too grand for his work. Of course it's not my business, but it's just right that I should inform you that Miss Beatrice and he spend too much time together whenever your back is turned.' Why did you not tell me this before?' 1 asked. Well, I saw the laddie was a bit of a favourite, and I did not care to be perhaps misunderstood or thought jealous. I might add that Jamie is sinuply a useless empty- headed gowk, and you will rue the day ye fetched him into the family.' You should have mentioned this before. Just call him,' I said. "He gave* a shrill whistle and shouted Jamie,' and ill less than a minute the youth appeared. "I Is Miss Beatrice in the rose garden?' I asked. I don't know, ma'am/ he replied. 'Shall I look?' Yes,' I told him, and entered the house. "oon after this Beatrice came in, blush- ing in a foolish, silly way. Yes, mother "'What is this, Beatrice?' I said, and asked for an explanation of the scene I had witnessed. She seemed rather taken aback, and for a moment answered nothing. The expression on her face I shall never forget. it was one of absolute defiance, and to my utter astonishment she informed me that James and herself were engaged, and li-ad been for the last three months. I reasoiv^d ^ith her madness—I pleaded with her—to no purpose. After a stormy interview she IJn- 2LOunced her intention of marrying him, *itd r 'R_C_ v if I interfered with James she would rim away with him. She is a masterful girl, and nas her father's self-willed temper. ivr from assuming the defensive in regard to her conduct she seemed rather proud of it, and mentioned some nonsense about Orawh^ll's relations in Monkcastle who were as good as the Millbanks. I was off my guard, for T 1 9 never dreamt of her being anything but ashamed of herself, and I am afraid i aged affairs badly. Last night in my des- peration I wrote to the Bishop, for I have no one to whom I can appeal for help and guid- ance in the matter. It has added years to my life. I feel an old woman, and utterly broken down," and she stifled a sob. I asked a few questions about the indi- viduals who were the cause of her grief, the answers to which seemed to make matters more difficult still. The young lady I found would come into a thousand a year when she was twenty-one, but by the terms of her father's will if she married she was to draw some seren thousand annually. At her mother's death she inherited everything. There was a vast property, and Mrs. Mill- bank informed me that the daughter would have eventually something like eighteen thousand a year. Here she completely broke down, and some time elapsed before she could recover kerself. After a time our guest became more cheer- fuL and she left with my promise tfcat I ,would come over to her place next day. Do," she responded, and have loach with us. There's a train due at Weajocide at 12.15. I'll meet you with the pony c&n%ge, (si we shook hands. 1 immediately went in to my chief atfi told him the story as I had it from Mill- bank. 11 Don't JOB think it fm nor* « MHK r. the Vicar of the parish? I am truly sorry tov her, but really, I cannot offer my help in the affair. The mother will surely know how to manage her own daughter better than I. I thought so, too. However, I explained that there was a coolness between M.. Mill- bank and her clergyman, and I promised to help her in the matter myself. 'nThat is all right," said the Bishop, with a sigh of relief. "I was afraid she wanted myself to take up the case. Certainly, give the poor woman all the help you can. What a very undesirable young lady the daughter must be." I "What do you think Beatrice did while 1 was with you yesterday?" was the first ques- tion Mrs. Millbank asked me when I arrived at Weamside station. I shook my head. She announced her engagement to my tcusekeeper and gardener, so the whole affair is now the talk of the village. I shall never consent." "We can talk about it afterwards," I said, for I saw she was excited. Give me a chance to have a few words with Miss Mill- bank alone," I suggested. I'll do my best;" she replied; "but what she will do next I don't know. The situation t at present is driving me out of my mind." At lunch I was introduced to the revolted daughter. I received from her a very cold bow on being introduced, and two or three little things told me that she was desirous of impressing me with her due importance, After the first words of 'introduction I ig- nored her altogether, and talked to the- mother. This seemed to ruffle Miss Beatrice, but she joined in the conversation when op- portunity offered. Her remarks I was care- ful to pass unnoticeci, and, I saw her anger gradually rising. You "must let me shew you the rose gar- den," she suddenly fetfked out. in the midst of lunch. i: "I have seen it quietly responded, thanking her at the same time. "Oh, but you must let me show you a new kind of litiphetos," she replied. The result was that" as soon as we left the table we went ls5 see the, rose garden, though she omitted to show rae the special niphetos. I soon gathered from, her conversation that she was a sentimental young lady, who took a delight in expressing her belief in certain advanced Socialistic theories. She was, in fact, a budding "new woman," who needed a father's firm hand. I am sure one thing nettled her, and that was that I never showed any alarm or much interest in the views she propounded, however revolutionary they might be. This young lady was doing her best to shock me. Her talk was mixed up with some very ugly slang words; all of which she unduly emphasised, at the same time giving me side looks with the 'idea of measuring their effect. As a trump card she an- nounced to me her engagement to —as she put it—a true son of the soil, whom she was determined to mavry for his personal worth, not for his family' or wealth. This was given in a tragic tone-of voice. "Indeed," 1 answered. "You must intro- dueo me. Not now," I said, as I saw she was going to take me at my word. "When you are married will ((0. Your sentiments are very ¡ fine in thory-l am wondering how they will I work out in actual experience." "But wouldn't you like to see him now?" she asked, -eagerly.. "Of course I would for your sake," I politely answered; "but do you know I would rather go and look at the new stained glass window in the church, if,on' don't mind." She assented, somewhat crestfallen at my want of interest in; her^Jove 'affair. it was easy to see Beatrice was in revolt against the dull, monotonous life, and it interested her to fancy she was in love "I hate churches," she burst out, as we en- tered the little gate leading up to the sacred edifice. edifice. i "Indeed I quietly remarked. ) "And I think clergymen hornd." "Possibly you have associated with an un- interesting' cIa-sg of them I" I suggested. No, I only number our vicar here among the clerical frlfuds. 1 don't think I have ever pokef to another." "Does that small experience justify your sweeping assertion?" I asked. She made some impatient rejoinder. "I am not going to debate the question, Miss Millbank," I said, and we entered the church. "Well, what do you think of things?" said my hostess, as she drove me to catch the train. "Mrs. Millbank," I said gravely, "are you er am I to manage this case?" < "You," she responded, with emphasis, "for I am in despair." j' "Then you will act on my adviee?" "Certainly," she answered. "Very well; when you go back ihform your daughter quietly that yougsent to the en- gagement. You can add tt I suggest this I if you like. Then see your medical man, and j tell him he is to order you and Miss Mill- i bank a change. Suggest some well-known foreign place, where you will meet plenty of nice people." "I see," said Mrs. Millbank, "then dis- Eiu James Crawhall after I get away f" liNe" not that, let him remain, an-3, give your consent to their corresponding." "I don't like your plan, she said, "out I trust you, for I feel my own incapacity to deal with the trouble." "Well, do not interfere with Crawhall," I said. At the end of three months Mrs.. MilIb--&L?x and her daughter were back again at vV cali., side, and I soon received a letter asking irie to go over. I found the state of affairs some- thing worse than before. There had been a most affectionate meeting between the two lovers, and James was making things uncom- fortable all round by his insolent behaviour and refusal to work. I sought an early opportunity of making his acquaintance. He was very condescending, and invited me to join him in a cigarette. I might say he had ceased work, which for a considerable period was a mere pretence, and had adopted more the role of the future master. He proffered a very beautiful silver cigarette case when he invited me to smoke- a present, I learned afterwards, from Beat- rice, who was also supplying him with pocket money. He lost no time in letting me know that he was engaged to Miss Millbank, but he added, "I am rather doubtful about the old woman." "What is Mrs. Millbank's attitude?" I asked. "Oh, she's consented," he replied. "If she hadn't we should have been married before this." I entered more fully into conversation with him, and pointed out what a great responsibi- lity would be his if he married Miss Mill- bank and had to take the position of a large landowner. C "I think your future mother-in-law ought to send you to a college-the Royal Agricultural for example—where you could learn much that would be of use to you in the future." "Yes, she should," he assented, "or I wouldn't mind being a parson-for a time," he said, with the air of -n man who was con- scious of conceding something of value. "Shall I speak to your mistress," I said, "and suggest something to her?" "I don't mind," he answered in an offhand 11 c' manner. But he winced rather at the word which reminded him that he was a servant. The result' of this was—Mrs. Millbank agreed to pay his expenses at a good cul- tural college, and allow him a pound a'week pocket money. Crawhall was delighted, and Miss Millbank was charmed with the idea. In due time he was packed off. "Now Mrs. Millbank," I said one dav after his departure, "you must fill your house with company. Look up all your old friends, and keep Beatrice employed with your guests, and let her see plenty of young people." Weamside Court, as her residence was termed, was soon fiMed with a nice lot of people, and old times came again. Balls seemed to beget balls, and dinner parties seemed to be contagious. One day I told Mrs. Millbank that she must ask young Crawhall down to the next dinner. She locked rather aghast, but under- stood what I was driving at. "You had be Her arrange for a Cinderella afterwards," I sug- gested; "it would plqase the young people." I was staying at the court at the time with a young friend, whom my hostess had been good enough to invite—the Hon. Vane Win- yard—subaltern in a .cavalry regiment sta- tioned at Nunchester, and Beatrice and he toon became very fast friends. He used to give her lessons in riding. It turned out that his father and Mrs. Millbank's father had been in the same regiment. This was suffi- cient to establish him in her estimation. Beatrice was always anxious to explain to me if ever they wandered off together that my military friend was teaching her something. "He seems to make a popular tutor," I re marked to her one day, when she, began tell- ing me of some conjuring tricks Winyard had y been showing her. "Yes, Mr. Wiryard is very kind," she re- plied, and her face warmed with a curious blush. "How is Mr. Crawhall?" I asked by way of changing the subject. "Oh, quite well. I write to him every day. You don't think I would ever neglect him?" and she gave me an inquiring look. "I never suggested it," I answered, and at that instant Winyard joined her, and they went off together to play a new game of some sort. By my advice nothing was said to Miss Beatrice about Crawhall being invited. When she did learn the news, she certainly did not fall into the proposal with alacrity; on the contrary she objected in, very strong terms, but when pressed for a reason she could not give one, so the mother held firm. The game was now becoming a most inte- resting one. I felt that we were approach- ing an explosion, and I wondeced what parti- cular form it would take. Winyard was in love with Miss Millbank, I saw clearly. That same evening over our cigars he said he had never spent a jollier time, and he talked con- tinually of Beatrice. Next day the grand dinner and dance were to take place. Crawhall arrived, and was Tery much aggrieved when Beatrice did not meet him. He had walked from the station carrying his small bag and did not seem to me to be in a good temper. However, he ap- peared to feel a little better when he found one of the best rooms had been reserved for toim, and he adopted a swagger which was particular irritating to me, but I was very patient, for I felt that he was riding for a fall. He had some tea, and presently Beat- rice appeared aacompanied by young Win- yard. He rose to greet her, but she did not manifest the kindness and courtesy which he evidently expected, and which was certainly due to a lover whom she had not seen for some months. I saw, too, that James re- 4ented the attention of my military friend, whom he surveyed with a look which spelt mischief. Beatrice introduced her cavalier to her 'over. Crawhall scowled, and kept striking stage-like attitudes which evidently were meant to intimidate my friend, who was quite unconscious of being the cause of such an amount of histrionic display on the part of the angry youth. "Rum chap!" whispered Winyard to me, codding in the direction of James. I smiled and asked him if he knew who he was. "He is a W>t, I know that," said Win- yard; then h'-1 in turn scowled at Crawhall, who appeared to be having some misunder- standing with Peatrice, who had drawn him away to another part of the room, and seemed to me to be remonstrating with him for his manifest rudeness. By his gestures I gathered that James was resenting the little lecture he was receiving. There was no dance that night, for an or- piosion took place at dinner which quite put the "Cinderella" out of the question. Master CrawhalL who 'did not know how to behave himself and was quite innocent of the ordi- usury usages of a civilised dinner table, tomir every opportunity of annoying the Hon. Vane Winyard. We had arrived at dessert. Miss MillbarilE said something which I did not catch. Craw- hall contradicted. Beatrice repeated her statement and was supported by Winyard. Tc our horror the incensed lover, who had been steadily taking, I fear, too much wine, jumped up from kis seat, called Winyard a liar, and emphasised it by flinging a handful of nutshells and orange peel in Win- yard's face. £ There was a commotion at once. I sat next to Mrs. Millbank, and motioned her to leave the room, which she did, followed by her daughter and the ladies present. "You stay here," Crawhall sang out to Miss Millbank, endeavouring to stop her, and in the endeavour fell to the floor. We then perceived that he was quite drunk. In fact, I fancy he must have had something, rather stronger than lemonade on his way down from town. Winyard and I carried him up- stairs and assisted him into bed. To prevent another scene we insisted upoiv his keeping in bed and remained with him some time. Once or twice he made desperate efforts to get up. The fellow was mad drunk now, but we held him down, and finally he dropped to sleep. I took the precaution of locking the door and put the key into my pocket. When we came down the guests had de- parted, except those who were staying in the house, and they were talking in a subdued tone by the fireplace in the drawing-room. I left Winyard with them, and went in search of Mrs. Millbank. I found her in her bou- doir. She was not so much upset as I ex- pected to find her, but was very much oon- cerned about Winyard. "Don't trouble about that," I said, "he quite understands matter now." I told her that James was in bed and locked in his room. I now ventured to ask after Beatrice. "Poor child, I have just left her; she is thoroughly penitent," and I saw the 1 face of my hostess brighten. That evening I told Winyard the whole story, and next morning interviewed James in his bedroom. He tried a little bluster, but gave it up when I dropped a hint that Win- yard might like to see him. "Matters are at an end as far as Miss Mill- bank is concerned," I said. "Her mother is prepared to do something for you if you give up her daughter"s letters." "How much will she ve?- he asked eagerly, with a sudden scowl. £ 500," I replied. "That will do for mer" he exclaimed, and slapped his knee in emphasis. "Mrs. Mill- bank is a brick. Now I can marry Emily," he shouted. "Emily 1" I repeated. I confess this was an unexpected departure. "Yes, I always liked her," he said. "She Í" the blacksmith's daughter," and he winked significantly. "Thnt is your own affair, but there is a condition attached tothe,C500, and that is you are to leave the country." "I don't mjnd that if Emily wiIl go." Mrs. Millbank and her daughter awaited the result of this interview in the library, where I joined them, and told them all that had ttiken place. Mrs. Millbank breathed a sigh of relief, but Beatrice—I think I almost felt sorry for her when she grasped the fickle- ness of her "son of the soil." She said nothing, she simply sat dumbfounded, while the mother and I talked. "Would you ask Mr. Winyard if I can have a few minutes with .'him in the conserva- tory?" she said when I-was leaving the room. "Yes, I'll find him. up for you." "I wish you would, he is packing, I think," she said in a sad tone of voice. Poor Beatrice, her .manner was different from her style of a few weeks ago. She seemed older by years. About six months after this I was best man at a very grand wedding when Beatrice Mill- bank became the wife of the Hon. Vane Wiu- yard.