Monica: A Novel, Volume 1 (of 3)
“Torwood’s Trust,” “The Last of the Dacres,”“Ruthven of Ruthven,” Etc.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
WARD AND DOWNEY,
12, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C.
KELLY AND CO., GATE STREET, LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS,
|CHAPTER THE FIRST.||PAGE|
|The Trevlyns of Castle Trevlyn||1|
|CHAPTER THE SECOND.|
|CHAPTER THE THIRD.|
|Lord Trevlyn’s Heir||43|
|CHAPTER THE FOURTH.|
|CHAPTER THE FIFTH.|
|Sunday at Trevlyn||84|
|CHAPTER THE SIXTH.|
|CHAPTER THE SEVENTH.|
|“Wilt thou Have this Woman?”||125|
|CHAPTER THE EIGHTH.|
|“Woo’d, and Married, and A’”||145[vi]|
|CHAPTER THE NINTH.|
|CHAPTER THE TENTH.|
|CHAPTER THE ELEVENTH.|
|The Little Rift||206|
CHAPTER THE FIRST.
THE TREVLYNS OF CASTLE TREVLYN.
“Good-bye, Monica. I will look in againto-morrow: but I assure you there is nocause for anxiety. He is not worse thanusual, and will be better soon.”
The doctor was buttoning up his heavydriving-coat as he spoke, and at the conclusionof the sentence he opened theheavy oak door, letting in a blast of coldair and a sheet of fine, penetrating rain.
“Oh, Raymond, what weather! I oughtnot to have sent for you.”
“Nonsense! You know I am weather-proof.Old Jack will find his way home,if I cannot. Good-bye again.”
The door closed upon the stalwart figure,and Lady Monica Trevlyn was left standingalone upon the wide staircase, amid thegathering shadows of the great hall.
Castle Trevlyn was, in truth, a sufficientlygrim and desolate place, both within andwithout. Tangled park, dense pine woods,and a rocky iron-bound coast surroundedit, cutting it off, at it were, from communicationwith the outside world. Within itswalls lay a succession of vast, statelychambers, few of them now inhabited—regionswhere carved black oak, fadedtapestry, rusty armour, and antique relicsof bygone days seemed to reign in a sortof mournful grandeur, telling their owntale of past magnificence and of presentpoverty and decay.
Yes, the Trevlyns were a fallen race; forthe past three generations the reigning earlhad been poor, and the present LordTrevlyn had failed to do anything towardsrestoring the decaying fortunes of hishouse. He too was very poor, hence theair of neglect that reigned around andwithin the castle.
Monica, however, his only child, wasfar too well used to the gloom and grimnessof the old castle to be in the leastoppressed by it. She loved her lonely,desolate home with a curious, passionateintensity, and could not picture anythingmore perfect than the uttersilence and isolation that hemmed inher life. The idea of desiring a changehad never so much as occurred toher.
Monica was very beautiful, with a beautyof a rare kind, that haunted the memoryof those who saw her, as a strain of musicsometimes haunts the ear. Her face wasalways pale and grave, and at first sightcold even to hardness, yet endued with anunderlying depth and sweetness that ofteneluded observation, though it never failedto make itself felt. It was a lovely face—likethat of a pictured saint for purity ofoutline, of a Greek statue for perfectionof feature—almost as calm and colourlessas marble itself. Yet, behind the statuesqueseverity lay that strange, sad,wistful sweetness which could not quite behidden away, and gave to the beholderthe idea that some great trouble had overshadowedthe girl’s life. Let us go withher, and see what that trouble was.
When the door closed upon RaymondPendrill, she stood for a moment or twosilent and motionless, then turned andmounted the shallow stairs once more, and,passing down a long corridor, opened thedoor of a fire-lit room, and enteredsoftly.
The room had two tenants: one, a greatmastiff dog, who acknowledged Monica’sentrance by gently flopping his tail againstthe floor; the other, a lad of seventeen,who lay upon an invalid couch, his facevery white and his brows drawn withpain.
As Monica looked at him her facequivered, and a look of unspeakabletenderness swept over it, transfiguringit for the moment, and showing wonderfulpossibilities in every line and curve. Shebent over him, laying one cool, strong handupon his hot head.
“Yes, getting better. That stuff Raymondgave me is taking the pain away.Stir up the fire, and sit where I can seeyou. I like that best.”
Arthur Pendrill, cousin to RaymondPendrill, the young doctor who had justleft the castle, was the only child by afirst marriage of Lord Trevlyn’s secondwife. Hoping for an heir, the earlhad married again when Monica wasseven years old, but his hopes had notbeen realised, and the second Lady Trevlynhad died only a few years after her unionwith him.
Arthur, who had been only a mite oftwo years old when he first came to CastleTrevlyn, knew nothing, of course, of anyother home; and he and Monica had grownup like brother and sister, and weretenderly attached, perhaps all the moreso from radical differences of characterand temperament. Their childhood hadbeen uncloudedly happy; they had enjoyeda glorious liberty in their wild Cornishhome that could hardly have been accordedto them anywhere else. Monica’shad always been the leading spirit; physicallyas well as mentally, she had alwaysbeen the stronger; but he adored her, andemulated her with the zeal and enthusiasmof youth. He followed her wherever sheled like a veritable shadow, until thatfatal day, five years ago, which had laidhim upon a bed of sickness, and hadturned Monica in a few hours’ time from achild to a woman.
Upon that day there had been a terribleend to the mad-cap exploits in cliff-climbingin which the girl had alwaysdelighted, and Arthur had been carriedback to the castle, as all believed, to die.
He did not die, however, but recoveredto a suffering, helpless, invalid life; andMonica, who held herself sternly responsiblefor all, and who had nursed him witha devotion that no mother could havesurpassed, now vowed deep down in herheart that her own life should henceforthbe devoted to him, that for him she wouldin future live, and that whatever she coulddo to lighten his load of pain and makehis future happier should be done, atwhatever cost to herself, as the one atonementpossible for the rashness which hadcost him so dear.
Five years ago that vow had beenrecorded, and Monica, from a gay, high-spiritedgirl, had grown into a pale, silent,thoughtful woman; but she had neverwearied of her self-imposed charge—neverfaltered in her resolution. Arthur washer special, sacred charge. Anything thatwould conduce to his welfare and happinesswas to be accomplished at whatever cost.So far, to tend and care for him hadbeen her aim and object of life, andher deep love had made the officesweet. It had never occurred to her thatany contingency could possibly arise bywhich separation from him should provethe truest test of her devotion.
Whilst Arthur and Monica were dreamingtheir own dreams upstairs, by the lightof his dancing fire, no thought of comingchanges clouding the horizon of theirimagination, downstairs, in the earl’s study,a consultation was being held between himand his sister which would have startledMonica not a little had she heard it.
Lord Trevlyn was a tall, stately, grey-headedman of sixty, with a finely-chiselledface and the true Trevlyn cast of countenancethat his daughter had inherited. Hiscountenance wore, however, a look of pallorand ill-health that, to a practised eye, denotedweakness of the heart, and his figurehad lost its old strength and elasticity, andhad grown thin and a little bowed. Hisexpression had much of gentleness minglingwith its pride and austerity, as if, withthe advance of years, his nature hadsoftened and sweetened, as indeed hadbeen the case.
Lady Diana, on the other hand, hadgrown more sharp and dictatorial withadvancing age. She was a “modish”old lady, who, although quite innocent ofsuch adornments, always suggested theidea of powder and patches, high-heeledshoes and hoops. She generally carried afan in her hand, dressed richly andquaintly, and looked something like ahuman parrot, with her hooked nose, keenblack eyes, and quick, sharp voice andmovements. She had an independent andsufficient income of her own, and dividedher time between her London house andher brother’s Cornish castle. She hadalways expressed it as her intention toprovide for Monica, as her father coulddo little for his daughter, everythinggoing with the entail in the male line; butthere was a sort of instinctive hostility betweenaunt and niece, of which both werewell aware, and Lady Diana was alwaysdeeply offended and annoyed by Monica’squiet independence, and her devotion toArthur.
It was of Monica they were talking thisboisterous autumn evening.
“She has a sadly independent spirit,”remarked Lady Diana, sighing, and fanningherself slowly, although the big panelledroom was by no means warm. “I oftenthink of her future, and wonder what willbecome of her.”
Lord Trevlyn made no immediate response,but by-and-by said slowly:
“I have been thinking of late veryseriously of the future.”
“Why of late?” was the rather sharpquestion.
“I have not been feeling so well sincemy illness in the spring. Raymond Pendrilland his brother have both spokenseriously to me about the necessity forcare. I know what that means—theythink my state critical. If I am taken,what will become of Monica?”
“I shall, of course, provide for her.”
“I know you will do all that is kindand generous; but money is not everything.Monica is peculiar: she wantscontrolling, yet——”
“Yet no one can control her: I knowthat well; or only Arthur and his whims.She has no companions but her dogs andhorses. My blood runs cold every time Isee her on that wild black thing sherides, with those great dogs boundinground her. There will be another shockingaccident one of these days. She ought tobe controlled—taken away from her extraordinarylife. Yet she will not hear ofcoming to London with me even on a shortvisit; she will not even let me speak of it,”and Lady Diana’s face showed that she wasmuch affronted.
“That is just it,” said Lord Trevlyn,slowly; “her life and Arthur’s both seembound up in Trevlyn.”
Lady Diana made a significant gesture,which the earl understood.
“Just so; and yet—unless under mostexceptional circumstances—unless what Ihardly dare to hope should happen—shemust, they must both leave it, at some notvery distant date.”
The hesitation of Lord Trevlyn’s mannerdid not escape his sister.
“What do you mean?” she askedabruptly.
“I mean that I have been in correspondencelately with my heir, and that Iexpect him shortly at Trevlyn.”
“Yes, Randolph Trevlyn, one of theWarwickshire branch. The extinction ofthe Trevlyns at Drayton last year, youknow, made him the next in succession. Imade inquiries about him, and then enteredinto personal communication.”
Lady Diana looked keenly interested.
“What have you made out?”
“That he is very well spoken of everywhereas a young man of high characterand excellent parts. He is wealthy—verywealthy, I believe, an only son, and enrichedby a long minority. He is six orseven and twenty, and he is not married.”
Lady Diana’s eyes began to sparkle.
“And he is coming here?”
“Yes, next week. Of course I need nottell you what is in my thoughts. I objectto match-making, as a rule. I shall put nopressure upon Monica of any kind, but ifthose two should by chance learn to loveone another, I could say my ‘Nuncdimittis’ at any time.”
Lady Diana looked very thoughtful.
“Monica is undoubtedly beautiful,” shesaid, “and she is interesting, which perhapsis better.” Her brother, however, madeno reply, and as he did not appear inclinedto discuss the matter farther—theywere seldom in entire accord in talking ofMonica—she presently rose and quitted theroom, saying softly to herself as she did so,“I should love to see that proud girl witha husband’s strong hand over her.”
That evening, when alone