Chapter 160140941

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Chapter NumberXII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160140941
Full Date1881-02-05
Page Number36
Corrections0
Word Count2051
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleEndymion
article text

CHAPTER XII.

The morrow brought a bright autumnal morn, and every one woke, if not happy, in terested, There was much to eee and muoh to do. The dew was so heavy that the children were not allowed to quit the broad gravel walk that bounded one aide of the old house, but they caught enticing vistas of the gleamy glades, and the abounding 'light and shade softened andaderned everything. Every sight and sound, too, was novel, aod from the rabbit that started out of the grove, stared at tbem and then disap peared, to the jays chattering in the more distant woods, all was wonderment at least for a week. They saw squirrels for the first time, and

for the firat time beheld a hedgehog. Their j parents were busy in the honse; Mr. Ferrars an- I packing and settling bis^ books, and his wife arranging some few articles of ornamental furniture that had been saved from the London wreck, and rendering their nsaal room of residence as refined as was in her power. It is astonishing how muoh effect a woman of taste can produce with a pretty chair or two fall of fancy and colour, a table clothed with a few books, some family miniatures, a workbag of richgmateria], and some toys that we never desert. " I have not much to work with," said Mrs. Ferrars, with a sigh, " bat I think the colouring is pretty." -

On the second day after their arrival, the rector and his wife made them a visit. Mr. Fenruddock was a naturalist, and had written the history of his parish. He had escaped being an Oxford don by beiDg preferred early to tbis college living, but he had married the daughter of a don, who appreciated the grand manners of their new acquaintances, and who, when she had overcome their first rather awe inspiring impression, beoamecommunioativeand amused them much with her details respecting the little world in which they were now to live. She could not conceal her wonderment at the beauty of the twins, though they were no longer habited in those dresses which had once astonished even Majfair.

Fart of the scheme of the new life was the education of the children by their parents. Mr. Ferrars bad been a distinguised scholar, and was still a good one. He was patient and methodical, and deeply interested in his con templated task. So far as disposition was con cerned the pupil was not disappointing. Endy mion was of an affectionate disposition, and in clined to treat his father with deference. He was gentle and docile; but he did not acquire knowledge with facility, and was remarkably deficient in that previous information on which his father counted. The other pupil was of a different temperament. She learned with a glance, and remembered with extraordinary tenacity everything she had acquired. But she waa neither tender nor deferential, and to induce her to study you could not depend on the affections, bat only on her intelligence. So she was often fitful, capricious, or provoking, and her mother, who, though accomplished and eager, had neither the method nor the self-restraint of Mr. Ferrars, was often annoyed and irritable. Then there were scenes, or rather ebullitions on one side, for Myra was always unmoved and en raging from her total want of sensibility. Sometimes it became neoessary to appeal to Mr. Ferrars, and her manner to her father, though devoid of feeling, was at least nob contemptuous. Nevertheless, on the whole, the scheme, as time went on, promised to be not unsuccessful. Endymion, though not rapidly, advanced surely, and made some amends for the years that had been wasted in fashionable private schools and the then frivolity of Eton. Myra, who, not withstanding her early days of indulgence, had enjoyed the advantage of admirable governesses, was well grounded in more than one modern language, and she soon mastered them. And in dne time, thongh much after the period on which we are now touching, she announced her desire to become acquainted with German, in those days a much rarer acquirement than at present. Her mother could not help her in this respect, and that was perhaps an additional reason for the study _ of this tongue, for Myra was impatient of tuition, and not nnjustly full of self-confidence. She took also the keenest interest in the progress of her^ brother, made herself acquainted with all hie lessens, and sometimes helped him in their achievement.

Though they had absolutely no acqnaintanoe of any kind except the rector add his family, life was not dull. Mr. Ferrers was always employed, for, besides the education of his chil dren, be had systematically resumed a habit in which he had before occasionally indulged, and that was political composition. He had in his lofty days been the author of more than one essay, in the most celebrated periodical publica tion of the Tories, which had cemmanded atten tion and obtained celebrity.^ Many a public man of high rank and reputation, and even more than one Frime Minister, had contributed in their time to its famous pages, but never with out being paid. It was the organic^ law of this publication that gratitous contributions should never be admitted. And in this principle there was as much wisdom as pride. Celebrated statesmen would point with complacency to the snuff-box or the picture which bad been pur chased by their literary labour, and there was more than one bracelet on the arm of Mrs. Ferrars, and more than one genet in her Btable, which had been the reward of a profound or a slashing article by William.

What bad been the occasional^ diversion of political life was .now to be the source of regular income. Thongh living in profound solitude, Ferrars had a vast sum of political experience to draw npon, and though his training and general intelligence were in reality too exclusive and academical for the stirriog age which had now opened, and on which he had unhappily fallen, they nevertheless suited the audience to which they were particularly addressed. His Corin thian style, in which the Mseuad of Mr. Burke was habited in the last mode of Almack's, his sarcasms sgaiost the illiterate and his invectives against the low, his descriptions of the country life of the aristocracy contrasted with the horrors of the guillotine, his Horatian allusions and bis Virgilian passages, combined to produce a whole which equally fascinated and alarmed

his readers.

These contributions occasioned some communi cations with the editor or publisher of the Beview, which were not without interest. Parcels came down by the coach, enclosing not merely proof sheets, but frequently new books— the pamphlet of the hoar before it was pub lished, or a volume of discoveries in unknown lands. It was a link to the world they _ had quitted without any painful associations. Otherwise their communications with the outer

world were slight and rare._ It is difficult for us, who live in an age of railroads, telegraphs, penny posts, and penny newspapers, to realize how nneventfnl, how limited in thonght and feeling, as well as in incident, was the life of an English family of retired habits and limited means only forty years ago. The whole world seemed to be morally, as well as materially, adscripti glebes.

Mr. and Mrs. Ferrars did not wish to move, bnt bad they so wished it would have been nnder any circumstances for them a laborious and coatly affair. The only newspaper they saw was the Evening Mail, which arrived three times a week, and was the Times newspaper with ali its contents except its advertisements. As the Times newspaper had the credit of mainly contributing to the passing of Lord Grey's Reform Bill, and was then whispered to enjoy the incredible sale of twelve thousand copies dally, Mr. Ferrars assumed that in its columns he wonld trace tbe most authentic intimations of coming events. The cost of postage was then so heavy that domestio correspondence was neces sarily very restricted. Bat this vexatious limi tation hardly anplied to the Ferrars. They had never paid postage. They were born and had always lived in the franking world, and although Mr. Ferrars had now himself lost the privilege, both official and Parliamentary, still all their correspondents were frankers, and they addressed their replies without compunction to those who where free. Nevertheless, it was astonishing how little in their new life they

cared to avail themselves of this correspondence. At first Zenobis wrote' every week, almost every day, to Mrs. Ferrers, bnt after a time Mrs. Ferrers, though at first pleased by the attention, felt its recognition a burthen. Then Zenobis, who at length, for the first time in her life, had taken a gloomy view of affairs, relapsed into a long silence, and in fact had nearly forgotten the Ferrars, for, as she herself need to say, " How can one recollect people whom one never meets?"

In the meantime, for we have been a little anticipating in ODr lost remarks, the family at Hnrstley were mnch pleased with the conntry they now inhabited. They made excursions of discovery into the interior of their world, Sirs, Ferrars and Myra in the pony-chair, her husband and Endymion walking by their side, and Endymion sometimes takiDg his sister's seat against his wish, bat in deference to her irre sistible will. Even Myra could hardly be insensible to the sylvan wildness of the old chase, and the romantic villages in the wooded clefts of the downs. As fcr Endymion he was delighted, and it seemed to him, perhaps he nn conscionsly felt it, that this larger and more frequent experience of nature was a compensa tion for much which they had lost.

After a time, when they had become a little acquainted with their simple neighbourhood, and the first impression of wildness and novelty bad worn out, the twins were permitted to walk together alone, though within certain limits, The village and its vicinity was quite free, but they were not permitted to enter the woods, and not to wander on the chase out of sight of the mansion. These walks alone with Endymion were the greatest pleasure of his sister. She delighted to make him tell her of his life at Eton, and if she ever sighed it was when she lamented that his residence there had been so' short. Then they found an inexhaustible fund of interest and sympathy in the pest. They wondered if they ever should have ponies again. " I think not," said Myra," and yet how merry to scamper together over thiB chase.

"But they would not let us go," said Endy mioD," without a groom."

"A groom!" exclaimed Myra, with an elfish laugh; " I believe, if the truth were really known, we ought to be making our own beis and washing our own dinner plates."

"And are you sorry, Myra, for all that has happened ?" asked Endymion.

" I hardly know what has happened. They keep it very close. But I am too astonished to be sorry. Besides, what is the use of whimper ing

" I cried very mnch one day," said Endymion. "Ah, you are soft, dear darling. I never cried in my life, except once with rage."

At ObriBtmas a new character appeared on the stage, the rector's son, Nigel. He had com pleted a year with a private tutor, and was on the eve of commencing his first term at Oxford, being eighteen, nearly five years older than the twins. He was tall, with a countenance of re markable intelligence and power, though still softened by the innocence and bloom of boy hood. He was destined to be a clergyman. The twins were often thrown into his society, for though too old to be their mere companion, his presence was an excuse for Mrs. Penruddock more frequently joining them in their strolls, and under her auspices their wandering had no limit, except the shortness of the days; but they found some compensation for this in their freqnent visits to the rectory, which was a cheer ful and agreeable home, full of staffed birds, and dried plants, and marvellous fishes, and otber innocent trophies and triumphs over

nature.