Oswald Cray A Novel
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(The University of California.)
"One word of sympathy."
MRS. HENRY WOOD,
"EAST LYNNE," "THE CHANNINGS," ETC.
LONDON: RICHARD BENTLEY & SON, New Burlington Street.
Publishers in Ordinary to Her Majesty.
[All Rights of Translation and Reproduction are Reserved.]
PRINTED BY J. OGDEN AND CO.,
172, ST. JOHN STREET, E.C.
|II.||Lady Oswald's Letters.|
|III.||Miss Bettina Davenal.|
|VIII.||A Tacit Bargain.|
|X.||A Treat for Neal.|
|XI.||Lady Oswald's Journey.|
|XII.||Waiting for News.|
|XIV.||A Whim Of Lady Oswald's.|
|XV.||Mark Cray's Mistake.|
|XVII.||The Night Visitor to Dr. Davenal.|
|XVIII.||After the Visitor's Departure.|
|XX.||Going Down to the Funeral.|
|XXI.||The Interview with the Doctor.|
|XXIV.||Dr. Davenal's "Folly."|
|XXV.||Company for Mr. Oswald Cray.|
|XXVI.||More Instilled Doubt.|
|XXVII.||An Inclement Afternoon.|
|XXVIII.||The Last Meeting.|
|XXIX.||A Special Favour for Neal.|
|XXX.||The Doctor's Birthday.|
|XXXI.||Bad News for Hallingham.|
|XXXIV.||Work for the Future.|
|XXXV.||Mark's New Plans.|
|XXXVI.||"Is Mark in his Senses?"|
|XXXVII.||Entering on a New Home.|
|XXXIX.||An Unpleasant Visit.|
|XL.||A Flourishing Company.|
|XLI.||A Slight Check.|
|XLII.||In the Temple Gardens.|
|XLIII.||An Irruption on Mark Cray.|
|XLIV.||Was she never to be at Peace?,|
|XLV.||Mrs. Benn's Wrongs.|
|XLVI.||An Unwelcome Visitor.|
|XLVIII.||Day-dreams Rudely Interrupted.|
|XLIX.||The Evening of the Blow.|
|L.||Hard Usage for Dick.|
|LII.||Something "turned up" at Last.|
|LIII.||A New Home.|
|LIV.||A Bell Ringing out at Midnight.|
|LV.||A Desolate Night.|
|LVIII.||The Gallant Captain home again.|
|LIX.||The Sergeant-Major's Wife.|
|LXI.||The Bargain Sealed.|
|LXII.||"Finance," this Time.|
|LXIII.||Six Months Later.|
It was market-day at Hallingham. A moderate-sized and once beautifultown, cut up now by the ugly railroad which had chosen to take its wayright through it, and to build a large station on the very spot wherethe Abbey Gardens used to flourish. Famous gardens once; and not solong ago the evening recreation of the townspeople, who wouldpromenade there at sunset, whatever the time of year. Since thegardens had been seized upon for the railway purposes, a bitter feudof opinion had reigned in the place; the staid old inhabitantsmourning and resenting their town's desecration; the younger welcomingthe new rail, its station, and its bustle, with all their might andmain, as a grateful inbreak on their monotonous life. The trains fromLondon (distant some sixty or seventy miles) would go shrieking andwhistling through the town at any hour of the day or night: and, sofar, peace for Hallingham was over.
Possibly it was because the town was famous for little else, thatthese Abbey Gardens were so regretted. Hallingham Abbey had beenrenowned in the ages gone by; very little of its greatness was left toit now. The crumbling hand of time had partially destroyed the fineold building, an insignificant portion of it alone remaining: justsufficient to impart a notion of its style of architecture and thecentury of its erection: and this small portion had been patched andpropped, and altogether altered and modernised, by way of keeping ittogether. It was little more than an ordinary dwelling-house now; andat the present moment was unoccupied, ready to be let to any suitabletenant who would take it. But, poor as it was in comparison with someof the modern dwellings in its vicinity, it was still in a degreebowed down to by Hallingham. There was something high-sounding in theaddress, "The Abbey, Hallingham," and none but a gentleman born andbred must venture to treat for it.
It stood alone: the extensive gardens in front of it; the space onceoccupied by the chapel behind it. All traces of the chapel buildingwere gone now, but its mossy gravestones were imbedded in the groundstill, and the spot remained as sacred as a graveyard. The Latininscriptions on some of these stones could be yet made out: andthat on one attracted as much imaginative speculation as the famedgravestone in the cloisters of Worcester Cathedral. A few Latin wordsonly were on it, signifying "buried in misery:" no name, no date.Thoughtful natures would glance at that stone as they passed it, withan inward breath of hope--perhaps of prayer--that the miseryexperienced by its unhappy tenant in this world had been exchanged fora life of immortality. This graveyard was not a thoroughfare, and fewcared to walk there who were absorbed in the bustle and pleasures oflife; but the aged, the invalid, the mourner might be seen there onfine days, seated on its one solitary bench, and buried in solemnreflections. A short space of time, more or less, as it might happen,and they would be lying under gravestones in their turn: a short spaceof time, my friends, and you and I shall be equally lying there.
The broad space of the public road running along the Abbey's frontdivided it from the gardens, the gardens being the public property ofthe town. On the opposite side of these gardens, furthest from theAbbey, were the buildings of the new station and the lines upon linesof rails.
It is well to say lines upon lines of rails! Hallingham saidit--said it with a groan. Not content with a simple line, or a doubleline of rails, sufficient for ordinary traffic, the railwayauthorities had made it into a "junction"--"Hallingham Junction!"--andmore lines branched off from it than you would care to count. This wasat the east end of the town; beyond it was the open country. Some ofthe lines made a sort of semicircle, cut off a corner of the town, andbranched off into space. It's true it was a very shabby little cornerof the town that had thus been cut off, but Hallingham did not theless resent the invasion.
Walking down to Hallingham along the broad road leading from the Abbey,its busiest part was soon gained. Let us look at it today: Tuesday. Itis market-day at Hallingham, and the hot July sun streams full on thepeople's heads, for there's no room for the raised umbrellas, and theyafford little continuous shade. It is the large, wide, open space infront of the town-hall where we have halted, and here from timeimmemorial the market people have sat to chaffer and change, barterand sell. Country women expose their poultry and eggs, their butter andcream cheese, and their other wares, all on this spot. No matter whatthe weather--in the dog-days of summer, in the sharp snow, the pitilessstorm of winter--here they are every Tuesday under their sea ofumbrellas, which must be put down to allow space to the jostling crowdwhen the market gets full. The town had been talking the last ten yearsof erecting a covered market-house; but it was not begun yet.
Still on, down the principal street, leaving this market-place to theleft, and what was called the West-end of the town was gained. ProudHallingham had named it West-end in imitation of London. It was nothingbut a street; its name, New Street, proclaiming that it was of morerecent date than some of the other parts. It was really a fine street,wide and open, with broad white pavements, and its houses were mostlyprivate ones, their uniformity of line being broken by a detached househere and there. It was a long street, and five or six other by-streetsand turnings branched off from it at right angles.
Lying back from the street at the corner of one of these turnings was ahandsome white house, detached, with a fine pillared-portico entrancein its centre and a plate on the door. It was fully as conspicuous tothe street as were the other houses which abutted on the pavement. Alevel lawn was before it, divided from the street by low light ironrailings, its small light gate in the midst, opposite theentrance-door. Narrow flower-beds, filled with gay and charmingflowers, skirted the lawn before the rails; on the sides, but not infront, flourished evergreens close to the railings behind theflower-beds, making a sort of screen. An inclosed garden lay at theback of the house, and beyond the garden were the stables. On thebrass plate--you could read it from the street,--was inscribed "Dr.Davenal."
He was the chief surgeon of Hallingham. Why he had taken hisdegree--a recent accession of dignity--people were puzzled to tell.Had he cared for high-sounding titles they could have understood it;but he did not care for them: had he been a slave to example, thatmight have accounted for it, for this degree-taking, as you must beaware, has come into fashion of late years: had he wished to courtnotoriety, he might have thought that a means to bring it to him. ButHallingham knew Dr. Davenal better. He was a simple-minded man; heliked to be out of the fashion instead of in it; and whether he wrote"doctor" or "surgeon" after his name, he could not be more deservedlyrenowned in his locality than he already was. He was a skilfulsurgeon, a careful and successful operator, and his advice in purelymedical cases was sought in preference to that of any physician inHallingham. A rumour arose, untraceable to any certain source, thathis son Edward, a dashing young captain of infantry, had urged thestep upon him with a view to enhance his own standing with his brotherofficers. The son of Mr. Davenal, a country surgeon, might be thoughtslightingly of: the son of Dr. Davenal need not be. Be that as itmight, the rumour gained some credence, but it died away again. Onepatient only ventured to question Dr. Davenal as to its truth, and thedoctor laughed heartily in his patient's face, and said he expectedhandsome Ned could hold his own without reference to whether hisfather might be a royal physician or a parish apothecary.
Before we go on, I may tell you that you will like Dr. Davenal. He wasa good man. He had his faults, as we all have; but he was a good man.
On this same hot July afternoon, there came careering down the street,in its usual quick fashion, a handsome open carriage drawn by a pair ofbeautiful bays. Dr. Davenal did not see why, because he was a doctor,his carriage should be a sober one, his horses tame and rusty. Truthto say, he was given to spend rather than to save. I have told you hehad faults, and perhaps you will call that one. He sat in hisaccustomed seat, low in the carriage, his servant Roger mounted farabove him. He rarely drove, himself; never when paying professionalvisits: a surgeon needs to keep his hands steady. Roger was afavourite servant: fourteen years he had been in his present service,and was getting fat upon it. Dr. Davenal sometimes told him jokinglythat he should have to pension him off, for his weight was getting toomuch for the bays. The same could not be said of Dr. Davenal; he was aspare man of middle height, with a broad white forehead, dark eyes,and a careworn expression.
The carriage was bowling quickly past the market-place--Dr. Davenal'stime was too precious to allow of his being driven slowly--when awoman suddenly descried it. Quitting her sitting-place in the market,she set off to run towards it, flinging up her hands in agitation, andoverturning her small board of wares with the haste she made. Poorwares!--gooseberries and white and red currants displayed on cabbageleaves to attract the eager eyes and watering lips of juvenilepassers-by; and common garden flowers tied up in nosegays--a halfpennya nosegay, a halfpenny a leaf. Roger saw the movement.
"Here's Dame Hundley flying on to us, sir."
Dr. Davenal, who was very much in