ePub 版

pleasure of seeing children enjoy children come round her as they themselves. He stopped with a finished their meal, which was little start, and then he set down pretty to see; he watched the his cup and turned back to watch ladies coming and going, always something. It was afternoon, but circling more or less about this one the sun was still high in the skies, figure. He watched Norman going and even under the tent there was up to her, holding out his hand, full daylight, impaired by no sha- which she took, showing for the dows or uncertainty. The shade first time a little rustic shyness, within gave a suppressed and yellow curtseying as if he had been a glow to everything, something like prince. Then he saw a quite difthe air of a theatre : and in the midst ferent sort of man from Norman, there she stood once more, the girl one of the schoolmasters, go to her of last night! The Colonel gazed in his turn and say something in at her with an absorption, an ab- her ear, with an evident claim straction, which was extraordinary. upon her attention and a lingering He saw nothing but only her alone. touch on her arm, which spoke She had been seated by the old much, which made the Colonel ploughman on the previous night angry, as if the fellow had preas if she belonged to him; but now sumed. But the girl evidently she was moving about among the did not think he presumed. A children as the young ladies were smile lighted up her face, which she doing, serving and encouraging: turned to him looking up in his. her dress was very simple, but Colonel Hayward felt a movement so was theirs, and there was not of intolerable impatience take posone of them more graceful, more session of him; and then a still at her ease. Everybody knew stronger feeling swept across his her. She seemed to be referred mind. As she turned her face with to on all hands; by the children, that look of tender attention to the who came clinging about her—by man who addressed her, she turned the visitors, who seemed to con- it also to the spectator looking at sult her upon everything. Who her from the tent door. The line could she be? The clergyman's of the uplifted head, the soft chin, daughter perhaps ; but then, how the white throat, the eyes raised had she come to be seated last with their long eyelashes—"Good night between the old couple, who God ! who is she?" he said were clearly labouring people, at the aloud. cottagers' supper? And how had Mrs Bellendean saw the absorbed she come by that face? Whoever expression in his face, and came she might bé, gentlewoman or rus- and stood beside him to see what tic maiden, how had she come by he was looking at. Her own face that face? That was the wonder. relaxed into smiles when she found The Colonel stood fascinated, im- out the object of his gaze. “Oh, movable, at the tent-door, looking I don't wonder now at your interin, seeing all the moving crowd of est, Colonel. I am sure she has faces only as a background to this had no tea; she would never think one, which seemed, in his fancy, to of looking after herself. Now, reign over them all. Her face was come, you shall see her nearer ; not still and attentive, as on the she is worth looking at: Joyce !" previous night, but full of anima- she cried. tion and life. He watched the “ Joyce! Good God!”


Colonel Hayward sank down he saw (enlightened by this knowupon a bench which stood close ledge) that it was only a superior to the tent-door. The light swam look, not the aspect of a lady as in his eyes.

He saw only as he had supposed. Her dress had through a mist the light figure not the dainty perfection of the advancing, standing docile and young ladies' dresses; her hands obedient by the side of the great were not delicate like theirs : and lady. The name completed the she said “mem” to her patroness extraordinary impression which with an accent which- Ah! the looks had made; he kept but what did that accent remind saying it over to himself under him of? and the face? and, good his breath in his bewilderment. heavens! the name? These criti“Joyce ! Good Lord !” But pres- cisms passed like a cloud across ently the urgency of the circum- his mind; the bewilderment and stances brought him to himself. anxiety remained. He rose up He breathed in his soul a secret from the bench, nobody having desire for Elizabeth. Then manned thought anything of his sudden himself to act on his own behalf, subsidence, except that perhaps since no better could be.

the old Colonel was tired with " This is the very best girl in standing about. Oh that Elizathe world, Colonel Hayward,” said beth had been here! but in her Mrs Bellendean, with a hand up- absence he must do what he could on Joyce's shoulder. “I don't for himself. wonder she interested you. She “Young lady," he said, " would has taught herself every sort of you tell me how you got your thing - Latin and mathematics, name? It is a very uncommon and I don't know all what. Our name : and your face is not a school is always at the head in all common face,” he added, with the examinations, and she really nervous haste. “I knew some one raises quite an enthusiasm among once" the children. I don't know what His voice seemed to go away we should do without her. When- from him into his throat. It was ever we come here, Joyce is my curious to see him, at his age, so right hand, and has been since she unsteady and agitated, swaying was quite a child.”

from one foot to another, stamIf it was condescension, it was mering, Alushing under the limpid of the most gracious kind. Mrs modest eyes of this country girl, Bellendean kept patting Joyce on who, on her part, coloured sudthe shoulder as she spoke, with a denly, looked at him, and then ́at caressing touch: and her eyes and Mrs Bellendean, with a faint cry, her voice were both soft. The “Oh, sir !" girl responded with a look full of “Where she got her name?” tenderness and pleasure. “Oh, said Mrs Bellendean. “It is not mem, it is you who are always so so easily answered as perhaps you good to me,” she said.

think. I will tell you afterwards. The schoolmistress then! That It is a very uncommon name. was how the ploughman's daugh- Joyce, my dear, what is the little ter had got her superior look. secret you have been plotting, and When he saw her closer, he thought when is it to be made known?"

Her eyes

The young woman stood for a picture she has made ! And she moment without replying. • How could sketch it, too, if there was can I help wondering ?” she said, time. She is a sort of universal with a long-drawn breath. "How genius. And now she is all on can I think of common things? fire, hoping to find out something." Nobody has ever asked me that Hoping to find out--what?" question before.” Then, with a “Oh, my dear Colonel, it is a long sudden effort, she fell into her story. I will tell you afterwards usual tone. " It will be nothing,” —not a word more now, please. she said quickly, as if to herself; I don't want her to form expecta“it will be some fancy: I'll go tions, poor girl — Well, Joyce back to my work. It was no secret --is that where I am to sit? I worth calling a secret, Mrs Bellen- shall feel quite like the Queendean-only some poems they learn- “With the young ladies behind," ed to please me—to say to you and said Joyce, breathless. the other ladies, mem, if you will were full of impatient light, her take your seats."

sensitive lips quivering even while “Where would you like us to they smiled a rapid coming and take our seats, Joyce?"

going of expression, of movement “Yonder, under the big ash-tree. and colour, in her usually pale It's very bonnie there. You can face. The Colonel stood gazing see the Firth, and the ships sailing, at her, his mouth slightly open, and St. Margaret's Hope; and you his eyes fixed. Oh, if Elizabeth will look like the Queen herself, were but here, who would know with her ladies, under the green what to do! canopy. Will I put the chair for The scene that followed was you ?” cried the girl, in the Scotch very pretty, if his mind had been confusion of verbs. She gave the sufficiently free to take it in. The Colonel one glance, and then hur- little girls, in their bright summer ried off, as is determined to distract frocks, subdued by the darker cosher own attention. There were a tumes of the boys, poured forth few garden-chairs already scatter- from their eclipse under the tent, ed about under a clump of trees, and gathered in perpetually moving which crowned a little platform of groups round the little slope. The green—a very slight eminence, just ladies took their places, smiling enough to serve as a dais. She drew and benignant,Mrs Bellendean them into place with a rapid and in the centre, two of the prettiest cunning hand, and caught quickly girls behind her chair, the others at a Turkish rug of brilliant col- seated about. They all submitted our, which lay beside the tea-table, to Joyce, asking,"Shall I sit here?" placing it in front of the presiding “Shall I stand?” “What am I to chair. Her movements were very do?” with gay docility. When it swift and certain, and full of the was all arranged to her liking, grace of activity and capacity. Joyce turned towards the children. Meantime the Colonel stood by She stood at one side, pointing tothe side of Mrs Bellendean, sur- wards the pretty group under the veying all.

trees, holding her own fine head " She is excited," said the lady. high, with a habit of public speak“She is a strange girl: your ques-ing, which the Colonel thoughttion-which I have no doubt is a and perhaps also Norman Bellenvery simple question—has set her dean, who was looking on-one of imagination going See what a the prettiest sights he ever saw.

If you

“Children,” said the young evidently a schoolmaster, who had schoolmistress, lifting her arm, been with Joyce in the tent. He with simple natural eloquence, was looking at her with a mix“ this is a tableau—a beautiful ture of tenderness and pride. tableau for you to see.

" It is quite wonderful how she ever read the word in a book, or does it,” he said. “I've no reason in the papers, you will know what to think I'm unsuccessful myself it means. It is a French word. It with my big boys ; but I have not means a living group—that is like got them under command like that. a picture. This is our Scots Queen They will make very acute remarks, Margaret- a far grander Queen sir, that would surprise you, in the than her they call the Queen of Shakespeare class—but answer like Scots in your history books—Mar- that, no. It is personal influence garet that was the Atheling, that that does it—and I never saw anymarried Malcolm Canmore, that body in that respect to equal Joyce." was the son of King Duncan, who It gave the Colonel a sensation was murdered by— who was mur- of anger to hear this fellow call dered by— Speak quick ! what her Joyce. He turned and looked do you mean, you big girls? Why, at him again. But there was noit's in Shakespeare!” cried Joyce, thing to object to in him. He with a ring of indignant wonder was not a gentlemen ; but he was in her voice, as if the possibility what is called in his own class of a mistake in such a case was quite a gentleman—a young fellow bevond belief.

of very tolerable appearance, whose There was a movement among a clothes were of the most respectgroup of girls, and some whisper- able description, and who wore ing and hasty consultation : then them as if he were used to them. one put forth a nervous hand, and He had as good a necktie as Norcried, but faltering, “ Macbeth." man's, and a flower in his coat.

“I thought you would not put But when he stood by Norman it me to shame before all the ladies!' was apparent that there was a cried Joyce, with a suffusion of good deal wanting. He was in all sudden colour: for she had been probability much cleverer than Norpale with suspense.


she man. He spoke of Shakespeare added, in a business-like tone: “It with an awe-striking familiarity as Jean, that

to say if he knew all about him—which Portia. The Queen will hear you. was more than the Colonel did. Come well forward, and speak out.' All the same he felt a sensation of

It was not a masterpiece of elo- offence at the use by this man of cution. The speaker blushed and the girl's Christian name. fumbled, and clasped and unclasped “Miss Joyce — is evidently a her fingers in agonies of shyness young lady of unusual gifts," he -while Joyce stood by with her said. head on one side, prompting, en- The face of the young man flushed couraging, her lips forming the with pleasure. - Sir," he cried, words, but only twenty times more “you never said a truer word. She quickly, as her pupil spoke them. is just running over with capaThe Colonel was so absorbed in this bility. She can do anything she sight, that he started when a voice sets her hand to. I sometimes spoke suddenly at his elbow, and feel as if I grudged her to be in recoiling a step or two instinctively, the line of public tuition all her saw that it was the young man, life. But when there are two of

is you,


us,” he added proudly, “we will extreme earnest about it all, it see what we can do."

was evident to see, and eager that What did the fellow mean? two everything. should produce the of them ! and one this wonderful best effect. A few mothers, who girl? the Colonel turned his back had known what was going to upon him in indignation, then happen, had gathered about, listenturned back again in curiosity. ing with proud delight yet anxiety “Is it common," he said, “in lest they should break down, each Scotch parish schools to have a to her own child. Among them Shakespeare class."

was a little old woman, sunburnt “Our common people, sir," said and rosy as a winter apple, with the young man quietly, with a look an old-fashioned black bonnet tied of self-complacence which made the down over her ears, and a huge Colonel long to knock him down— Paisley shawl almost covering her “our common people are far more dark cotton gown. - You think educated as a rule than you find but of your own bairns," she was them in England. But no—I saying, “ but I think of them a'; would not say it was common. for it's a' my J'yce's doing, and There are many of my friends that she will just break her heart if have poetry classes, which are op- there's any failure." tional, you know, on a Saturday " There will be nae failure ; afternoon or other free moment. they're owre weel trained

for I'm not ashamed to say that it that.” was from her I took the hint- “I've no a word to say against though you will say it is seldom J'yce; but she's awfu' fond of maka woman takes the lead in such a ing a show," another woman said. matter. She started it, and seve- "If she's fond of making a ral of us have followed her exam- show, it's never of hersel',-it's ple. She is, as you say, a creature always your bairns she puts to of most uncommon gifts."

the front; and if you dinna like “And yet a ploughman's daugh- it,” cried the old woman, “what ter in a Scotch village: with that brings ye here?" face—and that name !"

The Colonel, who had the best The young schoolmaster gave a of manners, stepped forward and sort of doubtful cough, the mean- took off his hat. “I guess by ing of which the Colonel could not what you say, ma'am, that you are divine. “ That is how she has Miss Joyce's mother ?” he said. been brought up," he said ; but The old woman

a little you are perhaps not aware, sir, startled and fluttered by this unthat many a wonderful character expected address. She, too, hesihas come from a Scotch plough- tated, as they all seemed to do. man's house. Not to speak of “Weel,” she said, “sir, I'm all the Burns, there was—"

poor thing has had for one ; but “Oh, I am aware the Scotch are no so good as she deserved.” a most superior nation," cried the “Ma'am," said the Colonel, " the Colonel with a laugh.

result of your training speaks for “ That is just the simple truth,” itself, and that is the best practithe young man said.

cal test. Will you let me ask you Meanwhile the recitations were a question--and that is, whether going on, which perhaps were not the name Joyce is a family name ?” equal in quality to the rest of The old woman's mouth and Joyce's arrangements. She was in her eyes opened in astonishment.


« 上一頁繼續 »