“It seems, Miss, your father drew out that money yesterday, and took it all out in gold. The Rector happened to be in the Bank at the time, but was on his way to town, and could not stop to talk to your father just then, though he wondered to hear him say he had come to draw out everything, as treasurer of the fund.” Amaranth Glyn’s comfortable life comes to an end when the church funds disappear. Her father, the church treasurer who drew out the money, is also missing, to be followed shortly by her mother. The disgrace this brings on the family means Amaranth’s marriage plans are cancelled. Amaranth is a competent artist and moves away with her young brother to try to earn a living. There are rumours that her parents are in France and even in Peru. Caring for her sick brother, Amaranth wants life to be as it was before the financial scandal forced her to leave her family home and the garden she loved.
Margaret S. Haycraft
Original book first published 1890
This abridged edition ©Chris Wright 2017
e-Book ISBN: 978-0-9935005-6-5
White Tree Publishing
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Amaranth’s Garden is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of this abridged edition.
About the Book
About White Tree Publishing
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Books for Younger Readers
Margaret Scott Haycraft was a contemporary of the much better known Christian writer Mrs. O. F. Walton. Both ladies wrote Christian stories for children that were very much for the time in which they lived, with little children often preparing for an early death. Mrs. Walton wrote three romances for adults (with no suffering children, and now published by White Tree in abridged versions). Margaret Haycraft also concentrated mainly on books for children. However, she also wrote several romances for older readers. Unusually for Victorian writers, the majority of Margaret Haycraft’s stories are told in the present tense.
Both Mrs. Walton’s and Margaret Haycraft’s books for all ages can be over-sentimental, referring throughout, for example, to a mother as the dear, sweet mother, and a child as the darling little child. In this abridged edition overindulgent descriptions of people have been shortened to make a more robust story, but the characters and storyline are unchanged.
A problem of Victorian writers is the tendency to insert intrusive comments concerning what is going to happen later in the story. Today we call them spoilers. They are usually along the lines of: “Little did he/she know that….” I have removed these when appropriate.
The loss of £500 in 1890 may not sound much, but in income value it is worth £60,000 pounds today. I mention this in case the loss sounds insignificant!
Margaret Scott Haycraft (1855-1936) also wrote under her maiden name of Margaret MacRitchie. Some of her original unedited stories are available from at least one publisher as recent paperbacks. There are plans for White Tree to publish one more abridged eBook by Margaret Haycraft – Rose Capel’s Sacrifice, about a family who have to give up their only…. Unless you already know the story, you will have to wait to find out!
At the end of this book are advertisements for our other books, so the story may end earlier than expected! The last chapter is marked as such. We aim to make our eBooks free or for a nominal cost, and cannot invest in other forms of advertising. However, word of mouth by satisfied readers will also help get our books more widely known.
“WHAT’S the matter, Mother?”
"Nothing, darling; I'm only tired -- you know the spring weather is always trying."
“You always say nothing, Mother. You forget that I’m nearly eighteen. Am I not old enough to share your worries, and help you just a little?”
Amaranth kneels down and rubs her head against her mother’s shoulder. Mrs. Glyn touches the brown waves of hair with caressing fingers, and a tender smile chases her look of weariness.
“Help me, Amaranth? Your cheerful disposition is my best comfort day by day. Nobody can be dull while you go singing about the house, my pet. What could I do without you and little Eddie? God has been very good to me to give me two such children.”
“Ah, but I want to know just what makes your forehead go so wrinkly, Mother. If you don’t take care, you’ll get white hairs like father; and you know how proud I am of your splendid dark braids.”
“Hush, hush, you silly child! I thought you were going boating this afternoon.”
“Oh, I dare say Ardyn will come for me presently,” says Amaranth, with a merry look and a vivid blush. “But you’re trying to change the subject, Mother. Do tell me what’s troubling you. Are we short of money again?”
Mrs. Glyn looks at her daughter’s cloudless face. As long as she is able, she will keep those laughing eyes free from the gloom associated with baker, butcher, grocer, and landlord.
Like most mothers, Mrs. Glyn knows the world will cloud Amaranth’s sunshine soon enough, and she steps between her daughter and the cares of money. “Father is expecting to hear from London soon, my pet,” she says. “If he sells his book we shall do very well.”
“Why, Mother, he’s sure to sell it. Of course I don’t understand science at all, but Ardyn thinks it’s wonderful. I’m positive that sooner or later Father’s book will make our fortune. What a dreadful time those publishers take to consider it, though! “
Mrs. Glyn does not tell her that five times already the bulky manuscript of A Scientist’s Dream has been returned with courteous but decisive letters of refusal. Amaranth gets her shady hat and summons Tim -- the mite of a mongrel that followed Eddie home one day and received tender adoption -- and goes flitting down the garden, singing the refrain of a light, lilting ditty:
“Dame Durden kept five serving maids
To carry the milking pail;
She also kept five labouring men
To use the spade and flail.”
The echoes bear the happy song to Mrs. Glyn as she sits by the window and watches the drops of the late shower blown from the lilac branches. Outside, the scene is bright and cheerful. Every blade of grass is fresh and twinkling; the birds fly from bough to bough full of joyous music, the bees are stirring with a pleasant hum among the first roses of the year. But within, she bows her head, and again opens the order books of grocer and butcher, and reads anew the letter from the landlord’s solicitor, reminding Mr. Glyn that his long lease of The Bower has nearly expired, that his rent is greatly in arrears, and that another lease cannot be granted on the same very moderate terms.
She is conscious now that she has acted unwisely in standing so persistently between her clever, intellectual husband and their daily needs. Things have come to such a state that she has been compelled at last to give him some notion of their difficulties, and the shock has been all the greater to him by reason of his previous freedom from thought of money.
“Is ruin staring us in the face today?” she asks herself, trembling for her children’s sake. Then, in some feeling of the helplessness of her own early years, she puts her hands together, and the tears roll down her cheeks as she silently confesses her mistakes, her failures, her errors, and crying in her blindness to Him who has taught us to call Him “Our Father.”
The Bower is an old-fashioned, rambling, redbrick house on the borders of Bryantwood, one of the prettiest villages in the south of England. Within the memory of the oldest inhabitant it has been tenanted by a Glyn, though still the property of the lord of the manor, for the Glyns are not naturally accumulative, and one after another has resolved to purchase the old family residence, and resolved in vain.
The present Mr. Glyn has held The Bower on a long and generous lease, and he has never faced the possibility that the landlord, on its expiry, might think fit to raise the terms, or prefer a tenant more prompt and regular in his payments. Stephen Glyn, having been an only son, was destined from his cradle for the solicitor’s office in Bryantwood High Street, which for many long years had belonged to his father and grandfather. Even in boyhood he showed a distaste for the law, and a repugnance to the dusty, dingy room with faded curtains and high blinds, where the elder Glyns transacted the business that seemed to him so “much ado about nothing.”
Stephen Glyn’s heart was far from legal deeds and parchments, official boxes and papers, and all the methodical manners and customs of the ancestral office. He liked to get as far from the regions of the law as possible, to wander in the forest and acquaint himself with the nature and character of the trees, and explore their varied, wondrous ways; to bring home flowers and insects, and study them in the attic which was sacred to what the servants called “Master Steve’s messy goings-on,” and to chip away at bank and wall on geological information intent.
Stephen Glyn might have made a first-rate naturalist, a renowned scientific professor; but he makes a very bad solicitor, and ever since the legal connection came into his hands the glory has departed from the time-honoured offices of Glyn and Son.
The newly-fledged solicitor, young Fleming, who has lately opened offices further down the street, will undoubtedly carry all before him as regards the confidence of county magnates and their tenants.
If one thing could shake the faith of Bryant-wood more than another, it would be the fact which is Amaranth's and her brother Eddie's boast and pride -- that Mr. Glyn has entered the lists of authorship, and has recently written a book. It seems in certain minds to be a rooted conviction that anyone who can write a book can do nothing else. An author is regarded by them with a sort passion and patronage halfway between the pity they extend to a foreigner and the leniency they show to children.
“‘Deed, and it’s sinful waste of time,” was the judgment of Mr. Glyn’s general servant, Susan. The household has gradually shrunk to Susan and a lad called Dickey from the village. As Susan peered through the study window, and beheld her master, pen in hand, absorbed in hieroglyphics which, as she could neither read nor write, really held in her estimation some remote connection with the Evil One. Susan, good Methodist as she was, could have found it in her heart to say a charm backwards, when Mr. Glyn, joined to his manuscript, could not be lured to his meals even by the fragrance of her favourite dumplings.
And perhaps Susan was right about the “waste of time” under these circumstances. She knew her wages were owing; she knew the forbearing trades people were growing clamorous for payment at last; and she knew that Mrs. Glyn was longing in vain to get her disabled boy the benefit of London advice. Susan justly argued that “Master did ought to be at the horfice, and not writing down a pack of nonsense about hants and hearwigs. As if folks wasn’t pested enough with hearwigs every summer a-getting into the butter, without wanting to read no books about them!”
Mrs. Glyn has a small -- a very small annuity of her own. “I will not touch it, dear,” said her husband on their marriage. “You must spend it on yourself.” And both of them have unconsciously multiplied its minute resources, mentally falling back upon this fund, till the wife, at least, has learnt long since, it is but as a drop in the bucket of their needs; and the paramount idea, next to the happiness of her children, has been how to stretch this income and the scanty supplies Mr. Glyn has been able to give, so as to live honestly in the sight of the good trades folk of Bryantwood.
A day or two ago, however, Mrs. Glyn was obliged to show her husband the landlord’s letter and a glimpse of the household books. Poor man! That very morning, sorely discouraged, he had left the book in which he had so yearningly believed, like the dove from the ark, in search again of a resting-place. Worn and nervous, and shocked to realise the weight his wife had carried on her shoulders, and the pressing claims surrounding him, he had feverishly assured her he would “look into matters” and get in some overdue accounts, and pay his creditors. But she can see he is in no mood for business just now. His heart is travelling with his book.
Even now, perhaps, while she is puzzling over these accounts, he is absorbed with his microscope and a couple of gnats at the office. At breakfast he was dreamy, abstracted, absent-minded, a mood that has grown on him of late. Mrs. Glyn hopes little from his assurance that he will “look into things,” and is inclined to blame herself for having carried to him at last some share of the burden that so long has pressed her down.
A sweeter garden than that of The Bower none need crave to tread. Truly it is in want of tending. Paths are a little tangled here and there, the grass is bespangled with daisies and buttercups, the wallflowers, deep, rich, velvety, brimming over with perfume, seem growing at their own sweet will, hanging in many cases over the walks; but it is too big a garden for Amaranth and the young lad, Dickey, to keep in apple-pie order. To many its very wild luxuriance holds a witching charm. By-and-by there will be plenty of fruit overhead and on the sunny walls. Now for fruit there is only blossom, and the first glimpse of that which the coming days will behold in perfection.
On one side of the garden is the sweetbriar-walk, which the bees know well, and which sends its fragrance even to the river that washes the border of the lawn. Then there is a long, winding yew shrubbery, full of tortuous turns and twists, where Dickey too often plays hide-and-seek with an imaginary comrade, and returns no more to his raking and weeding.
Amaranth believes the rosebuds open in her garden first of all, and linger here the latest; already they are beginning to unfold their radiant hearts, and beneath them the violets are hiding in the green grass. Daffodils are dancing and nodding at the ruddy nasturtiums just peeping in the sunshiny beds, and marigolds, like gleaming sentinels, stand up bright and brave all along the border.
Between bushes of lavender and scented ways of thyme and marjoram is a path that leads to a door in the wall, and through this door you pass out into Bryantwood Forest. The wild flowers in the woods come creeping up close to Amaranth’s garden, and the nightingale that sings in the forest trees flings her music into the heart of the girl as she stands among her roses.
To Amaranth, the beautiful, mysterious forest is only part of her garden. She is too light-hearted to be subdued even by the still, calm depths among the pines. It is not so very long since she used to sit poised among the branches in the heart of the woods, and the birds, familiar with her presence, would put their heads from side to side and turn their bright eyes upon her, and go on building their nests.
Now she is in long dresses, and much to her inward discomfort, she has made the sacrifice to propriety of "doing up" her hair; but at heart she is still a girl, notwithstanding the fact that she has begun to blush at the sight of a certain boat upon the river -- and in that boat she beholds, as expected, a young man.
“Why, Amaranth, how late you are! Come along, I want to take you over to Fairy Island. Can’t Eddie come?” he adds, a little unselfishly; but there is not a trace of selfishness about Ardyn Home, from his dark-blue eyes, warm with a beautiful light as he turns them upon Amaranth, to the strong, tender hand he holds out to her as she nears the river.
“Eddie has gone out with Dickey,” says Amaranth. “They’ve gone to get frogs for father. Eddie seems so well today, I believe he’ll soon grow out of his weakness, Ardyn. Now, Tim, do you want to see the Fairy Island? Sit up and don’t overbalance, for you never would learn to swim.”
The little mongrel, half terrier, a little of the bull, and a good deal of the nondescript, sits up gravely by his mistress, every iron-grey hair ready to tremble at the first appearance of danger, but eyeing Ardyn Home with all the trust of his canine heart.
“Ardyn, isn’t this a perfect day?” says Amaranth. “Every leaf, every flower seems happy today. And see the long line of sunbeams on the water! What a glorious world this is. How can heaven be lovelier than earth, Ardyn?”
“We shall see God face to face,” says Ardyn, softly, turning his bright young face to the glowing sky.
“Yes, I forgot that,” says Amaranth, simply. “It seems to me, Ardyn, when I kneel down to pray, I can do little else now but thank Him. How will we feel when we really see God, I wonder? I wish I were a man sometimes, Ardyn; I should like to have been a clergyman, like you, and spent my days in work for God.”
“You are working for Him, dear,” says the young student, “while you are taking care of little Eddie, and helping Susan, and brightening your home and blessing us all. I never knew the meaning of home till I came to live at The Bower, Amaranth. Now, wherever I am, at Cambridge or in town, or with my uncle here at the Rectory, I always think of my rooms and Amaranth’s garden as my home.”
"I remember your first coming, Ardyn," she laughs. "How shy and bashful you were then! Little did I think the time would ever come when I would deign to trust myself with you on the river. I felt so much bigger and older than you then -- but you have improved."
“So have you,” he says. “You used to snub me shamefully. You will never snub me again, will you, Amaranth? “
She smiles into his radiant eyes, then crimsons a little, and rebukes Tim for being fidgety.
Ardyn Home has not yet put the love of his life into definite words. He is waiting till some business matters connected with his coming of age are settled, and he can acquaint Mr. Glyn with his exact position. These two, drifting together on the sunshiny waters, are not yet publicly engaged; but everyone knows -- they know themselves -- that they belong to each other, and herein is poor Mrs. Glyn's greatest comfort.
Ardyn holds out his hand for hers, and together they float on, between the rushes and wild flowers. It seems but a brief moment before they reach the island; but in later years those moments of quiet, peaceful, untroubled drifting hand in hand seem stamped and photographed upon the heart of both.
“Oh, Ardyn, see the hawthorn on the island!” cries Amaranth, joyously. “I never knew the trees so full before.”
She springs lightly from the boat, her presence shaking the white bloom from the branches as she passes among them. Ardyn sees her face shining out like a bride’s from beneath a rich silvery veil of the may.
The sight is too much for Ardyn. He fastens the boat, and springs up the bank, and is hastening to her side when they become conscious of a distant, echoing “Coo-ee,” which is the signal when Amaranth is wanted home.
“There is Dickey, running on the opposite bank,” says Ardyn. “Coo-ee, Dickey! speak up. What’s the matter?”
Dickey, red-headed and out of breath, has neared the island by diving under certain hedges and clearing various fences, and racing along the banks of the river.
“Oh, Ardyn,” says Amaranth, with a gasp; “something has happened to Eddie.”
“Miss Amaranth!” shrieks Dickey. “A young man give me threepence to find you, and fetch you home.”
“A young man!” repeats Ardyn, suddenly interested in the conversation.
“Yes, that there young man with the stiff collars. I’ve to fetch Miss Amaranth home this minute. Matthew Gummer says as he wants to see her very particular.”
“Oh, it’s only the young man from father’s office,” says Amaranth, looking a little annoyed. “Whatever can he want me for? But perhaps Father has sent for a jar or a specimen. I know where his things are. Come, Ardyn, we’ll see what Matthew Gummer wants.”
But she shrinks a little in her inmost heart from the interview; for Matthew Gummer, her father’s clerk, has favoured her with admiring looks on several occasions, and she fears he once sent her a valentine. Amaranth has a vague sense that he is about to make her a declaration of undying love, and she tries, all the way home, to compose a negative sufficiently dignified, kindly, gentle, and decisive.
In Amaranth’s Garden
Matthew Gummer is in the garden, pacing the lawn in expectant agitation.
“Doesn’t he look ridiculous?” says Amaranth, lightly, pettishly. “I wonder if he’s quite right in his mind. It seems so odd for him to want to speak to me.”
“I’ll stay close at hand,” says Ardyn. “Come back as soon as you can, dear; and if Gummer shows symptoms of being demented, remember I’m within call.”
“Oh, I’m not afraid of him,” says Amaranth, springing onto the river bank, and regarding with dignity the red face and embarrassed manner of the excited young clerk.
"A thousand pardons, miss, but could I have a word with you? I took the liberty of waiting in the garden, not wishing your ma -- you see, it's a private matter, miss."
“I certainly am a little puzzled, Mr. Gummer," says Amaranth, as proudly as her sunny nature can manage, "to understand why you sent Dickey for me today. I have a friend -- Mr. Home -- waiting on the river. Had you not better go back to the office and do your work? I don't think you can have anything private to say to me, Mr. Gummer.”
She speaks with a mixture of pity and rebuke, unwilling to wound him too deeply by the rejection it is her duty to make to his addresses.
“Oh, yes I have, miss; only I am so confused this afternoon I scarce know how to begin. If you’d be so good as to give me a little time…. It’s dreadfully hot for the time of the year.”
He wipes his damp, troubled brow with a handkerchief not a little inky. Amaranth treasures the incident for Eddie’s amusement, but tries not to laugh. His distress is so evident and sincere.
"Mr. Gummer, it may save you some trouble if I tell you at once it can never be," says Amaranth, colouring, and shaking her head. "You must not think I'm proud or unkind. Of course I know how good you are to your grandparents, and you are all very respectable and that sort of thing. But, Mr. Gummer, you must not think of me like that. It can never, never be. I shall never marry anybody unless -- at least...."
It is her turn to become embarrassed now, for she feels she has all but confessed, “I am nearly engaged to Ardyn.“
“Oh, Miss Glyn,” says Gummer, opening his light blue eyes, and flushing in some surprise, and speaking more briskly than hitherto, “you quite misunderstand me. My business is not of that nature at all. I wasn’t thinking of anything of the sort indeed, miss.”
“I beg your pardon,” says Amaranth, turning away from him, her face like a peony. She could bite her tongue out at this instant. Why doesn’t the lawn give way and swallow her up?
“No, indeed, Miss Amaranth. At my present low rate of wages I shouldn’t be justified in any such ideas. Fifteen shillings a week and find yourself, and two old people to help. Well, it don’t go far, miss, though they eats as little as any old folks in the kingdom, considering they’re such fine, hearty specimens of eighty and over. What I ventured to request a little private conversation about, miss, don’t concern matters of the heart. I wanted to ask you, miss, if you know what’s become of your father?”
“Oh, is that all?” says Amaranth, relieved. “I haven’t seen him since breakfast time. Of course he is either at the office, or else getting specimens somewhere out in the countryside.”
“He wasn’t thinking of any London journey, miss, to your knowledge, then?”
“Of course not. Father in London! I doubt if he has been there twice since I’ve been born. I believe Father would lose himself there! But perhaps,” she adds, excitedly, “his publishers may have telegraphed to him to come. They may see that his work is a splendid success, and they may want to pay him immediately! Mr. Gummer, has father gone to London, and does Mother know why? Something must surely have happened concerning his book!”
“Stop a bit, Miss Amaranth, I’m thinking it’s no use upsetting Mrs. Glyn yet awhile. Folks say she’s looking ill. That’s the reason I asked for you. I didn’t like upsetting Mrs. Glyn.”
“If you have any bad news, Mr. Gummer,” says Amaranth, drawing up her slim young figure, and trying to look strong and capable, “tell me. You did quite right not to worry Mother.” But she casts wistful eyes towards the river. If only Ardyn could stand by her now, and hold her hands as she prepares to hear the worst! It may be that the London publishers have actually gone so far as to say No to Mr. Glyn’s request that they will undertake to publish his wonderful work.
"Well, you see, miss," says Matthew Gummer, fidgeting with hands and feet uncomfortably, "I dare say you know that the gov -- that your father never would keep a bank account."
“We have had very little money,” says Amaranth, simply, “to put in the bank. Mother said that we wanted to use our money as soon as we had it, and Father has often said that a friend of his put some money in a bank, and soon after it failed, and he lost it all. Father has a prejudice against banking his money. Though I don’t know,” she adds, thoughtfully, “if he might not have changed his mind, had he had some money to bank. Father always gives his money to Mother; and if she has any to keep, she keeps it in a drawer of her davenport. But, Mr. Gummer, why do you want to talk about this now?”
“I dare say you know, miss, that your father was chosen long ago for treasurer of the fund for the new church out at Forest Moor. Glyn and Son have had a deal to do with Church matters for many a year, and he seemed the proper person to manage the whole thing. Money has been coming in pretty slow, considering the meetings the rector has called about it; but they tell me at the Bank there was a matter of five hundred pounds to Mr. Glyn’s credit, as treasurer of the fund.”
“Yes, Mr. Gummer. Go on.”
Amaranth is staring at him now, with blanched face and a beating heart. He looks as frightened as herself, and sinks his voice a little lower.
“It seems, miss, your father drew out that money yesterday, and took it all out in gold. The rector happened to be in the Bank at the time, but was on his way to town, and couldn’t stop to talk to your father just then, though he wondered to hear him say he had come to draw out all that had been paid to his credit, as treasurer of the fund. Well, the rector came round to the office about eleven today. Your father had left at ten, and the rector’s been backwards and forwards, fidgety-like; and at last, he’s had a sort of confidential chat with me, and told me all this. Nobody seems to have seen your father today, miss, except the station porters, and they say he caught the 10.30 express to London, and had a black bag with him.”
There is a long silence. The winds that sway the lilacs seem to Amaranth to be moaning in fright and pain.
She knows that the rector -- Ardyn's uncle -- is a high-principled man, with a keen sense of right and wrong, the very last man to attempt to cover a misdeed, or shelter a criminal. Confused thoughts crowd into her mind of pressing trades people, worrying debts, little fretting needs and cares, which, somewhat selfishly, she had tried to avoid as far as possible, content to know that "Mother will manage." Suppose these anxieties had been too much for her father? Suppose his mind has been over-balanced, and in a time of weakness he has taken this money, and fled far away from all his cares?
Amaranth sees the horror in her eyes reflected in the clerk’s. She pictures policemen hovering about their dear old home. She sees her father’s portrait here and there on police station walls as wanted for theft! What will come to her then she knows not. Her girlhood suddenly seems to disappear, and in its place she seems possessed of a hard, cold, loveless nature, bitter against all the world, most hard and bitter towards him who had seemed to her hitherto the best and tenderest of fathers.
“And he has always taken round the collection bag in church,” she thinks, scornfully. “Oh, well may infidels point the finger at Christianity like this! The churchwarden, the church-goer, is a thief, and I am his child!”
“Miss Amaranth, let me get you some water,” says the clerk, anxiously. “The first thing to think about is, how to break this news to Mrs. Glyn. Come, don’t be so down-hearted, miss. As I said to the rector, the fact that Mr. Glyn drew out the money and has gone to town don’t prove there’s anything wrong, though the rector will have it there’s been foul play. You know Mr. Glyn and the rector never did pull together somehow. Perhaps Mr. Glyn will be back this evening. But it’s my duty to tell you, miss, that at the railway station the porters noticed he looked dreadfully ill and nervous.”
“I will break it to Mother,” says Amaranth, in a voice that seems changed even to her own hearing. “Father had a dislike to going up to town, and something strange has happened for him to go so suddenly.”
“You know, miss,” says Matthew Gummer consolingly, “he may be out of his mind, and then he’d get off. He told me he was very anxious about his book, and had had little sleep of late. Ah, here comes Mr. Home! Miss Glyn isn’t feeling very well just now.”
“Don’t touch me, Ardyn,” says Amaranth, shrinking away from hi. “Don’t come to The Bower any more. Ask your uncle the reason why.”
She leaves the two together, both gazing after her in concern, though Matthew Gummer in his heart is well assured she has every reason for her horror and despair.
“How am I to tell Mother that Father is a thief!” she asks herself, dragging weary steps between the daffodils and marigolds. Suddenly she catches sight of her young brother Eddie, in his little wheelchair. He calls her name, and turns to her, but she only sees the black cloud that has fallen over all the boy’s future life, and shivering, reflects that henceforth he is branded like herself, as the child of a thief.
“Please, miss,” says Susan at the garden door, “the rector’s come. He’s with missus, and it’s my opinion something dreadful’s been happening to master. I never thought no good would come of them live creatures in the study, and all that pen and ink. Maybe master’s been and drowned himself in the river, miss. It happened in the last place but one where I lived afore I came here”
But Amaranth, angered at the thought that Mr. Bigham, the rector, should be the first to pour his suspicions into her mother’s heart, has turned hastily to the parlour. Tim, the dog, who has followed her up the garden, squeezes himself in with her through the door.
Mr. Bigham, a tall, portly, fine-looking clergyman, is standing beside the table, his stern, severe features bent over a letter he holds in his hands.
Her mother appears to Amaranth as though she had just fainted, or was about to faint. Amaranth wonders how she can find neither words nor tears to console her mother now. Her own wrongs seem so terrible, so lifelong that her mind seems capable of but one thought -- her father's sin has severed her from Ardyn.
“Somebody has told you,” says Mrs. Glyn, to her daughter; “but it’s not true. Amaranth, do not believe it. It is all a mistake. Do not think this of your father. It is all my fault. I ought not to have troubled him with household worries. He grew ill and nervous, and already he was upset about his book. Mr. Bigham, I know why he drew that money out. The night before last he dreamt it was unsafe at the Bank. It was only a dream, but it made him nervous. He told me in the morning of his dream, and now I see why he drew it out yesterday.”
“Coupled with his disappearance, madam,” says Mr. Bigham, “the fact looks very suspicious. I must remind you again of this letter I have just received from him from town. There are just a few but significant words: ‘The money has gone. I cannot account for it, think of me what you will. I cannot face Bryantwood. I leave England tonight.’”
Mrs. Glyn lays her aching head upon her hands, and Tim steals up to her, and licks her face.
“Oh, Steve, Steve!” they hear her cry, “I could have managed. I could have borne anything. I could have struggled on, but I cannot lose you, Steve. We have never, never been apart!”
“Mother,” says Amaranth, speaking for the first time, “Mr. Bigham is here; do you forget? Mr. Bigham must not lose this money. The subscribers must not be cheated.”
“No, no,” says Mrs. Glyn, springing up. “Mr. Bigham, I know you have always thought my husband a visionary and un-businesslike. But he is no thief.”
“Well, well,” says the clergyman, soothingly, “who shall estimate the power of temptation? I have already told you, madam, that in consideration of our long acquaintance, if the money is replaced in the Bank no steps will be taken as to pursuit and punishment.”
Mrs. Glyn flushes proudly. Amaranth has never seen such a look on her mother’s face before.
“I will sell the shares that are the source of my personal income. The five hundred pounds will be replaced in the Bank. Have no fear on that score. But my husband is innocent.”
"Mother," says Amaranth, believing her to be delirious, -- or else how could she doubt his guilt after that letter to the rector? -- "you're making yourself ill. You must come and lie down now. Mr. Bigham, the money subscribed will be paid to the last farthing. Mother cannot talk anymore now. She must take some rest."
“No, Amaranth,” says Mrs. Glyn, putting her gently aside, “there is no more rest for me till I’ve found him. My place is at your father’s side. I will find my husband, though all the rest of the world forsakes him.”
“I am not at all surprised to hear it. It’s just what I expected all along. As I often said to Rebecca, if the man has taken to writing books, depend upon it he’s in difficulties. And when a person in difficulties is tempted, ah, my dear, I always said Stephen Glyn was not the proper treasurer for the new Church.”
Mrs. Bigham, the rector’s wife, moves uneasily on her couch. She is an invalid, and sees and knows little of the outside life of Bryantwood, beyond the echoes that float to her quiet room. But lying there, hour after hour, she has time to think and love and sympathize, and her heart is aching for Mrs. Glyn and her children today.
It makes her uncomfortable to see the face of her visitor, Miss Jane Grimwood, conversationally excited, decorously grieved, but just a little exultant at the fulfilment of her premonitions. “There is no proof of Mr. Glyn’s guilt,” says Mrs. Bigham, hesitatingly, for she is timid by nature and weakened by illness. “He may have lost the money he drew out. This trouble may be misfortune rather than fault. But in any case, Miss Jane, it is very, very sad for dear Mrs. Glyn and Amaranth and Eddie.”
“May their afflictions be blessed to their spiritual welfare,” says her visitor, piously. “I must say I was a good deal astonished to find the family absent from church yesterday. Let us hope that this trouble may be the means of their eternal good. I have often remarked to Rebecca that Amaranth Glyn seems a giddy, worldly, thoughtless girl, inclined to trust to the deceitfulness of youth and good looks. Perhaps this trial is intended to convict her spiritually, and if it be the means of her conversion…”
“Amaranth is a sweet, loving girl,” says Mrs. Bigham. “A little thoughtless perhaps, but she is only eighteen, and has never known real sorrow until now. Heaven help her, poor dear child! And I believe, Miss Jane, the child has truly spiritual instincts. She has believed in the goodness of God and loved Him from her cradle. Amaranth is very dear to me, and I have been glad and satisfied to know she would one day be as my own.”
“Ah,” says Miss Grimwood, a little eagerly, “but of course that can never be now. A clergyman’s career cannot be too free from spot and blemish; and it would never do for your promising nephew Ardyn, on the eve of entering the Church, to ally himself with the child of one who is really within danger of the law. Surely Mr. Bigham would never give his consent to so fatal an engagement.”
“We have not discussed the matter yet,” says Mrs. Bigham; “but I am much mistaken in Ardyn if his affection for his old playmate be of a nature that any circumstances can change.”
She has some vague idea that Miss Grimwood has long intended handsome, clever Ardyn Home for her own niece Rebecca, who has a good deal to do with district and parish work, and manages the school library with Ardyn, when he is at home. Mrs. Bigham has made a pet of Amaranth from a child, and will champion her cause so far as her strength allows. But the effort she has made has already started a headache, and it is a relief to her when Mr. Bigham comes in and invites Miss Grimwood to inspect some new parish tracts in his study.
Mr. Bigham can tell by a glance when his wife’s face is pale and over-tired, and he frequently comes to her help when over-visited and over-talked. The Rev. Mr. Bigham is a strange contradiction in some respects. He sincerely believes, and openly avows, that woman’s feebleness and frequent sufferings are the just fruit and penalty of Eve’s transgression, and that it is only right so many women should be broken down and nervous, seeing their first mother erred and sinned in the Garden of Eden.
“The way of transgressors is hard,” he says. “It is an inevitable law that wickedness works suffering and ill from generation to generation.”
But his sweet, gentle wife is the blessing of his existence. He wonders sometimes what his life would be if he came home to the Rectory and missed the welcoming thin, white hand, the smile of those peaceful eyes. And to her he is so chivalrous, so tender, so restful and protecting, that Mrs. Bigham, thinking of his goodness and the consideration and care of her servants, says her weakness is no curse, but rather like the hand of her Father in heaven, touching her in benediction of peace and comfort untold.
Having bowed Miss Grimwood out, and sat beside his wife till she has fallen asleep, the rector goes in quest of his nephew, who is reading hard -- or apparently reading -- beside the French windows of the breakfast room. The windows are open, and Snowball, the pet white cat of the house, lies stretched outside, mewing plaintively at intervals for notice from Ardyn, but too comfortable to seek the added luxury of his stroking hand.
Ardyn pays little attention today to book or Snowball. He has called again and again at The Bower, but has not once seen Amaranth -- nobody seems to have seen her since the Friday when her father disappeared. His thoughts are with her now, longing to let her know that whatever people may say of her father, there is a heart in which, amid all her tears and trouble, she is enshrined now and ever as first and dearest.
He pictures Amaranth as bowed down, yearning, and lonely, finding relief for her pent-up heart in the tears which are natural to clouded girlhood. Trouble must either soften or harden the human heart. There was a moment when Amaranth could have put down the bitterness of her burden by lifting a heavenward cry, but she has told herself so persistently, so sullenly, that God has wrecked her life and broken her heart, that now she has neither care nor power to pray, and feels doubtful indeed if there be any Ruler but Fate wherewith to plead.
“If there is a God,” she is arguing, deep in her young heart, yet shrinking a little from the new, sad doubt, “would He have parted me from Ardyn? I have not been wicked, I have never done Him any harm; I prayed to Him and loved Him, and thanked Him for all my joy. Does He only care to show how soon He can change everything? What good can my heart-break do to Him? If there be a God at all, He is so far away, so high, that Ardyn and I are nothing to Him, or He has no love, no care for me. His thoughts to me are only punishment and judgment. Judgment for being carefree and happy! That is the kind of warning Miss Grimwood has often given me, but I cannot see the justice of it.”
The utter, bewildering shock that has just come down upon her has stirred and aroused doubts and questionings which hitherto have never once ruffled the smooth surface of her existence. “I shall never be the same again, I can never feel as I once did,” she tells herself, remembering the undoubting enthusiasm with which, as one of the choir, she has joined in hymn and chant.
She turns her thoughts to the outside world, even to quiet, flower-wreathed Bryantwood. She thinks of one and another in trouble and bereavement: of Mrs. Bigham’s years of weakness; of her brother Eddie, crippled almost from birth.
“Things go anyhow,” she decides, “and for the most part wrong. And as for the Fatherhood of God,” she thinks bitterly, looking at a picture of “Our Father” hung up in her bedroom, “there is little comfort in a thought like that. I've trusted my earthly father for eighteen years, and what does he turn out to be after all? A thief! I can trust no one again -- neither in heaven nor on earth."
This morning Amaranth has come up to the rectory, meaning to see Mr. Bigham, and show him the letter received from town that day about the selling of Mrs. Glyn's shares. This is all the wife and mother has waited for -- to put Mr. Bigham in possession of £500; and a transfer paper has been drawn out, that awaits his signature. With the paper in her hand, Amaranth nears the breakfast room window. She is passing to the front door, but stands still, checked by the rector's voice, loudly raised as he speaks her name.
“ You are not dependent upon me, Ardyn, but I should hope that my blessing and approbation as your mother's brother -- your guardian -- are at least of some value in your eyes. You are not one of those who mock the counsel of their seniors, and turn their backs on earnest advice. You have been a comfort to me, Ardyn. Your aunt and I love you as a son. Do not disobey or disregard me now. It is my wish and hope to give you the curacy of this parish, but how can you influence the people aright, if you are linked with the child of a thief? You are not yet engaged to Amaranth Glyn, and with my consent you never shall be, Ardyn. Your betrothed must be one of blameless, stainless name.”
“Uncle,” begins the young man, agitatedly, “Amaranth is to me dearer than myself, far dearer than my career. Why should she suffer for her poor father’s sin? Does she not need me in her desolation as never before? I have tried again and again to see her. I cannot promise to separate my heart from Amaranth’s because she is left worse than fatherless.”
“Do you intend to marry the child of a thief?” cries Mr. Bigham, aghast.
At this moment both men start at a step outside the window, and Amaranth, proud, dignified, determined, stands before them.
“Be at rest, Mr. Bigham,” she says. “I and mine are leaving Bryantwood for ever. I would not link my lot with your nephew’s for any price that could be offered me. I shall live alone. Past friendships, past thoughts are blotted out. As surely as I stand before you now, Mr. Bigham, Ardyn shall never, never tie himself with the daughter of a thief!”
A Faithful Heart
“Ardyn, nothing you can say will shake my resolve. Father’s act has put me beyond the pale of happiness. Do you think I would allow you to share the disgrace which attaches to me now?”
They are together among the white blossoms of the fruit trees in Amaranth’s garden. Ardyn has approached her suddenly as she sits alone in the trellised summerhouse by the river, and fervently, passionately he has pleaded his cause, but she will not grant his entreaty that they may belong to each other.
“When I leave The Bower,” she says, “I pass out of your life. You and I are very young, Ardyn. As time goes on, you will meet some girl whose career is un-shadowed, and you will be glad then that I passed from your sight. You will soon get consoled by somebody else. Everybody does,” she adds, in the new bitterness that seems born with her trouble.
“I cannot judge for other people,” says Ardyn, his voice faltering as he holds her cold hands. “I only know, Amaranth, that while I am the person I am, there can be but one love for me. Do not be so proud, so hasty, my darling. Are you fitted to battle with the world? You who have been shielded all your life by your mother’s love? I cannot bear to think of your lonely struggles, Amaranth. Let me at least feel that every step I take is a step nearer the day when I can take care of you and claim you for ever. Uncle will not always be of the same mind concerning you, I am certain. Aunt Lilian is full of love and sorrow towards you. I know she misses your visits and the sight of your face, and she will change uncle’s feelings at last. I know I owe some consideration to Uncle Bigham; but Amaranth, what if I come to you one day and tell you he has withdrawn all objections? “
"It would be useless," says Amaranth, trying to withdraw her hands. "I have told you -- and I will keep my word -- that there can be no question of love between you and the child of a thief! Go now, Ardyn," she adds a little hastily. "It is dinnertime, and Eddie will be hungry."
Never while she lives will she forget that moment when the marigolds at their feet seem to her eyes to grow dim and wither away, when the look of doubt and pain in Ardyn’s blue eyes seems to ask if she has ever loved him at all, and when she sees Susan in the distance, ringing the dinner bell in the porch, and the faint odour of warm vegetables seems to float down the garden from afar.
“Then, Amaranth, is this to be goodbye? How am I to get through the long years, Amaranth? You have been my dream, my hope, my all!”
To Ardyn Home, looking into the beautiful eyes that are the dearest of all on earth, it seems just now that life is one long, hopeless blank. He has dreamed of living for God and for Amaranth. His God seems very far off now, and in his heart he is feeling nothing, and none can satisfy him, losing her.
"Yes, Ardyn," she says, quietly, "this is to be goodbye. You must not come here again. Very soon we shall be gone. No, Ardyn -- no," for he is drawing her nearer. Her strength seems failing. How can she sever their lives if his lips have claimed her own?
“Go, Ardyn. Susan is calling. And here is Mr. Gummer, coming in by the door from the woods.”
Ardyn Home sees the nearing figure, and understands the interview is over.
“God keep you, Amaranth,” he says brokenly, and turns away, crushing the daisies beneath lonely, miserable feet.
A cold, bitter smile comes to Amaranth’s face at the thought that henceforth only prayer will be offered for her by Ardyn. A great gulf has opened between them for ever. What is prayer but just a few meaningless or well-meaning words? What if it be only a vain superstition? In either case she feels it cannot bridge over this terrible gulf of separation, and darkness seems to come before her eyes as Ardyn goes away at her bidding for ever.
Matthew Gummer has been in sadly low spirits since last Friday. Now that Mr. Glyn has vanished, the lawyer’s office is closed, maybe indefinitely, and he is unemployed. He cannot forget how, at his words, all the bloom died out of Amaranth’s face, and the smiles and blushes seemed to pass away from the fair frail girl who stood before him. He cherishes a deep respect for Mrs. Glyn, and was sincerely attached to his employer, who took him into his office when it seemed hard to find work in Bryantwood, and hard to leave his old grandparents alone or remove them from their own home.
Matthew Gummer has sought The Bower today with some vague idea of offering to marry Amaranth, and taking her and Eddie into the little home which he provides for the old people. As he is just now out of work, the idea is more chivalrous than prudent, but any such notions are dispelled at once by the sight of Amaranth’s face. She looks to him almost as if she were turned to stone. He turns hot at the very thought of proposing to one so regal-looking in her sadness and despair.
“I beg your pardon, Miss Glyn,” he falters. “If that’s the dinner bell, I fear I’m intruding. I hope your mamma keeps her health, Miss Glyn?”
“I cannot understand my mother,” says Amaranth. “She seems stronger than I have ever remembered her. Her one idea is to find my father. I believe she leaves The Bower this very evening.”
“And you, miss?” he asks, timidly.
“I have no plans,” she says. “Mother is leaving us a little money, and I suppose she and Father will come back to England together. I’m taking Eddie to London lodgings, and my hope is that I can turn my painting to some account. If I can teach drawing and painting, I may be able to afford some medial help for Eddie. But we have not heard of any place for me to go to yet.”
Amaranth, from a very little lassie, has always taken the drawing prizes at school. She has undoubted artistic powers, but very little application. She can dash off a lovely little bit so easily that she seldom sits down to steady work, or tries to do better what she feels is already done well. Now, however, she begins to seriously ask herself if this almost buried talent may not help her in the struggle for life. For once the small amount her mother can give her is spent, nothing but her own efforts can keep the wolf from the door and the touch of need from her own little brother, her “own boy, Eddie,” as she has called him ever since she first held him in her arms.
“If you’re seeking London lodgings, miss,” says young Matthew Gummer, his face brightening with the hope of affording help, “may I mention my married sister in Chelsea? She married a builder’s foreman, and she has the charge of a number of artists’ studios there. I know she has lodgings to let in her own house; and dear me, you’d be close to a number of ladies’ schools. I should think you’d be just in the right place to get some employment teaching. And my sister is that clean, miss, you might eat off the floors. Her address is Mrs. William Banks, Alexandrina Terrace.”
Amaranth thanks him gratefully, remembering Mrs. Banks before marriage as the very picture of staid respectability. It is something to know of a possible haven when one is starting forth, doubtful and sad, from a lifelong home. Matthew Gummer takes his leave, declaring he will catch the afternoon post, and inquire his sister’s terms.
“I shall be able,” he thinks to himself, compassionately, “still to keep an eye on the poor young lady. And if I should get into work again, and if I should be found worth between one and two pound a week, well, we might get along very comfortable on that, for Susan’s often told me Miss Amaranth can make a pie or sew antimacassars and things, quite domesticated-like.”
Amaranth goes slowly into the house, and listens to Eddie’s chatter as he makes his way through his dinner. No one has breathed the real depth of the trouble to the child. He has a notion they are going away from The Bower, and as the old Bryantwood doctor has often recommended a change for him, he is rather pleased at the prospect of novelty and travel. He secretly pictures an exciting time by the sea, such as he once enjoyed with his mother for a week.
He has been busy all the morning packing his treasures, which include several boxes of silkworms, a pet toad, a jackdaw and white mice. Eddie has a tortoise somewhere about, that he has sought high and low, beguiling it to appear by poetic descriptions of the sea and sands and an account of the numerous beetles in the lodgings they had occupied in Dirlsmere Parade.
The tortoise, however, appears to have buried himself, and declines a disentombment at present. Eddie has a long tale about tortoises, as received from his father. Amaranth sits down beside him, and smoothes his floss-like hair, glad and thankful to know the bitterness has not yet entered into the soul of the disabled child.
After a second helping of gooseberry pie, Eddie limps off to his packing in company with Tim. Amaranth tries to swallow some food, conscious that Susan eyes her reproachfully from the pantry, having made that pie for her benefit, but everything she tastes seems to be dry as dust.
“Mother, must you really go?” she asks tremblingly, clinging to Mrs. Glyn, as for a little while her mother comes and sits beside her.
“I must, my darling. Duty is calling me both ways, and so is love. But your father is alone, and I cannot stay from him. I know how sorely he must be needing me. Eddie will be safe in your care; and I hope, my darling, in a few days we shall all be together again. You have set your heart on going to London, Amaranth. You say nobody knows us there to know our shame, but my heart would break unless I knew you safe. Will you go to Mrs. Banks -- Elizabeth Gummer that was? I have just remembered she once told me she had rooms to let."
“Yes, Mother; her house seems central for teaching,” says Amaranth. “I should like to go to her. But, oh, how I shall wait every day for your letters. How strange the world will seem without you, Mother. Come home as soon as you can.”
She makes no mention of her father, and Mrs. Glyn notices it. To Amaranth his guilt admits of no doubt, and her young heart is stern and hard towards him.
“Where shall you go first, Mother?” asks Amaranth, looking in the lined face that seems to have acquired new strength and courage.
“Directly all is settled with Mr. Bigham and the trades people here and our landlord,” says Mrs. Glyn, “I shall start for Newhaven, and cross to Dieppe. You know that one line of farewell he sent me came from Dieppe, and so I shall travel on through France, making inquiries, and seeking him from place to place.”
“But you have so little money, Mother,” says Amaranth, shivering at the thought of her mother alone in a strange land. “How will you travel when the money is spent?”
“On foot, my child, if I cannot reach him in any other way. I shall go on, I shall journey till I find your father. Watch over my Eddie, Amaranth, and pray for your parents, as I shall pray for you. God will be my help when all other help fails. He will take care of us all.”
Amaranth moves a little impatiently. Surely, if God were caring at all, her mother would not have to wander forth upon this sad and dreary quest!
Susan enters the room to move the things. She wipes her wet hands on her apron, and fixes her eyes on her mistress. “I couldn’t help overhearing what you’ve been saying, missus, that you’re a-going to furrin parts to find the master. I’ve suspected that’s what you’re after, missus, and I’ve got my bag packed to start with you, whensoever you intends to be off. Don’t say nothing now, missus, about no wages, and don’t you raise no objections, for my mind’s made up. I’ve got a matter of two pound ten in a stocking upstairs in my room, and, missus, it’s all yours, and so is my service. I can’t parlyvoo and cut capers like them furriners; but maybe, missus, a time will come when you’ll be tired and lonely and glad to have me at your side. And that’s where I means to stick, as I’ve done this many a year, and ever shall be, missus and Miss Amaranth. Amen.”
And Susan drops the gooseberry pie, and comes over to her mistress, and bursts out crying, and Amaranth throws her arms around her, and feels the first gleam of comfort she has known ever since she understood her light-hearted girlhood had vanished away.
TWELVE months have passed away. The Bower has been let by the squire of Bryantwood to the proprietress of a ladies’ school, and Czerny’s exercises and variations on “The Heavens are Telling” and the “Harmonious Blacksmith” float out from the windows of the Glyns’ old home.
Before Mr. Glyn’s departure, all his legal business had virtually left him, so there was little for his wife to arrange, with Matthew Gummer’s help, beyond giving up the dingy offices so long associated with the family profession. These have now been taken by the prosperous Mr. Fleming, whose name shines resplendent on an imposing plate.
This gentleman’s proposal to take Matthew Gummer as second clerk at first met with a dignified refusal, loyalty to the name of Glyn forbidding any such notion to Matthew Gummer. As time went on, however, it became evident to the young man that to gradually part with his modest furniture offered no sure and certain provision for the future, and the appetites of his grandparents remained unchanged by the fluctuations of his fortunes.
Behold him now, therefore, foregoing sentiment at the voice of duty, occupying a stool in the newly-papered and decorated offices, at a substantially increased salary, which would seem to bring him nearer to his dream of sheltering Amaranth against a buffet with the world, did not old Mr. Gummer require so much diet of a light and nourishing nature, and did not the old lady occasionally take it into her head to wash up the crockery and give the house a clean-down, which naturally results in the breakage and destruction of those articles needing most to be replaced.
Still, Matthew Gummer receives his weekly wage with a thrill of consciousness that the world is smiling upon him. He only wishes he could be equally satisfied as to the lot of his patron and the rest of the family, concerning whom he knows only that no news has come to Amaranth of either father or mother, and that after spending a great deal of money in advertisements and going from agent to agent, she has obtained employment some hours every week in a neighbouring college and a private family.
Bryantwood remembers Stephen Glyn to speak of him now only with a shake of the head. The £500 was repaid to the Church Fund, and the Forest Moor Church is arising now among the trees. But the story of the sudden disappearance has leaked out, and a shadow hangs, dark and mysterious, over the name of Glyn. The rector speaks of the force of sudden temptation, and Miss Jane Grimwood hopes it will be a lesson to all young men not to run bills, or write books, or marry indiscreetly, for had Stephen Glyn taken time and looked about him, there were others in the neighbourhood who might have turned out better managers than his unfortunate choice.
The name of Stephen Glyn points a moral to little boys who play truant from school, and catch butterflies; and the young lady pupils at The Bower are conscious, as they tread the paths, of a virtuous superiority to the late occupants, who -- or at least one of them -- "came very near being locked up."
But there are three in Bryantwood who still champion the cause of the Glyns, and will hear no word against them. These are Matthew Gummer, who carries in his pocket book sprigs of sweetbriar purloined from The Bower grounds by stealth; and Ardyn, who chiefly affects solitude at this time, and walks in the forest, moodily listening to the nightingale, and composes a great deal of poetry about Dead Sea fruit, and dust, and ashes, and vanity of vanities, and withered leaves; and poor Mrs. Bigham, who, on her couch of weakness, is doing more than all for the wanderers -- lifting holy hands in prayer day by day for the girl who has gone forth to face the world, and for the parents of whom no trace is known.
At first Amaranth told Eddie every day, “We are sure to hear from Mother tomorrow.” Then, as the sickening suspense began to pale the little boy’s cheek, she told him that Mother and Father, instead of writing, would certainly take them by surprise one day. Little Eddie, yearning in vain for the anticipated seaside and for his country home, is patient and happy with his “Early Reader,” and box of paints, and the living pets to which tidy Mrs. Banks submits with a grumble.
Mrs. Banks has told Eddie his sister has “quite enough on her mind to worry her,” and his little brain tells him she must be fretting, as he is, for Mother; so he devotes himself to cheering her up as much as possible, and makes piece after piece of wool-work to surprise and delight her, and to brighten up their lodgings. As yet he has seen no London physician. Mrs. Banks says, “Send him to the hospital,” but Amaranth shrinks with a little pride from this resource. She is painting pictures for sale, and she tells herself she will be able by-and-by to afford for her brother the best advice.
The daily care, the stress of love for Eddie, the boy’s recurring needs, and his caresses, probably stand just now between Amaranth and despair. With a cold, sickening desolation of heart, she has ceased now to expect news of her parents, though the sight of a postman or telegraph boy will sometimes cause a burning heartthrob of pain. Her one thought is how to earn enough for Eddie’s livelihood and her own.
At the college she gets a pound a week, and ten shillings for the four hours from the Blythes in Donegal Square. Mrs. Banks charges her only seven-and-sixpence weekly; but there are food, lights, firing, and clothes to be obtained; and Eddie’s appetite is so delicate that Amaranth feels constrained to tempt him by better food than she allows herself. And the cod-liver oil he has taken for years is another item for her consideration.
Amaranth begins, as never before, to understand the value of money. She looks twice now at a sixpence, and continually carries about in her mind the waiting repairs of boots, or the need of new stockings or flannel trousers for Eddie. One good result of her changed circumstances already is that she is gradually learning thrift; another evident result is the fact that when not painting she is always plying her needle -- a too rare event with Amaranth in the days gone by. But her life is so full of thought, of work, of strivings, and anxiety, that she has wholly ceased to pray. At first she only neglected her customary prayers; then the idea of worship in church seemed forgotten and set aside.
Ardyn day by day is feeling as if, even near to the Master, he cannot endure the trouble that has fallen on him. It will take months and years to show him -- but Ardyn will understand, by means of this very furnace of trouble -- that he can bear and do all if only the presence of the Lord is with him. And Amaranth, fighting her way, struggling on, unbelieving and alone, determined to meet the changes of life with an obstinate refusal to utter one cry of appeal to the God who has wrecked her life -- must it not surely come to pass that Amaranth will prove she cannot live alone, cannot meet what the days have to bring, while her immortal soul struggles back from the clasp of God?
After many ineffectual endeavours she has found a market for Christmas and New Year cards, and for little hand painted views to stand on table easels. But how far she seems from obtaining any step on the ladder even of skill, to say nothing of the niche which Eddie confidently predicts for her in the temple of Fame!
As a child, Amaranth had dreamed sometimes of becoming a great artist. Could she but know it, necessity has turned her feet in the road that has only seemed a vision. She has started hard, earnest work, and for Eddie’s sake is keeping at it.
Amaranth attends an evening art school that is helping her to understand much more of the skills of her vocation. She sits next to a girl somewhat older than herself, with a grave, earnest face, and worn, shabby clothes. May Burr is always hard at work. She seems to shun the chatterers who abound here as elsewhere, and to absorb herself in her studies. Amaranth is interested in her, for she hears that May is the eldest of a large family, and supporting herself now by a scholarship. She has a little studio close to the Banks’ house, and Amaranth’s interest rises to reverence when she finds May Burr has actually had one picture exhibited in the Royal Academy.
Many of the students speak of summer pleasures and tours, but May Burr is still busy in her studio. The two girls meet here and there so often that a nodding acquaintance changes into a frequent mutual cup of tea, and Amaranth gets many a word of help and cheer from this seemingly tireless girl with the serious grey eyes.
Eddie and she soon get to know all about the country clergyman and ten children, five of whom this fragile elder daughter is educating. No wonder that her dresses are shabby and darned, and she feels she must succeed in her art. Does not the future of Jack, and Nellie, and Grace, and Bertie, and others yet in the nursery depend upon her?
“It is so good of God,” says May, simply, retreating a few paces in her studio to observe the effect of her latest touches, “to have helped me to win that scholarship. I am able to go on with my studies at such a small expense; and now what I earn is free for father and the children.”
“How did He help you?” asks Amaranth, bluntly. “You won it by your own hard work.”
“Why, Amaranth,” says May, opening her grey eyes in surprise, “but I should have broken down long ago but for Him. I never paint a picture, I never give one of my lectures, but I ask the Lord anew to help me. Every year I live shows me more and more that of myself I simply cannot succeed. And He knows how I need to succeed, because there isn’t a care at home but He understands it. Isn’t it good to feel that, Amaranth? When I was quite little, Father and Mother used to tell me there is no worry too little for God to understand and care about; and, oh, I don’t know how I could live but for believing that day by day.”
“But, May, how did He help you as to the scholarship? You know you had to pass an exam.”
“Yes, Amaranth, and how I prayed He would help me through that! I worked as hard as I could, but felt so hot and nervous on the day until I remembered I had put my fate utterly into the hands of God, and I had only to do the little I could do, and leave the rest to Him! There was one question in the geometrical paper that puzzled me dreadfully. The room was full of people, but I asked God in my heart to help me; and, Amaranth, I was able to work it out.”
“Why, of course, when you went at it in the right way. You surely don’t suppose He whom you call the Maker of heaven and earth would show anybody how to do a geometrical paper!”
“But I could not see the right way at first,” says May, simply. “I don’t know how He helped me, but I could see the answer clearly where before I’d been puzzled. I can only tell you the fact. I can only tell you, too, that I know my God is a prayer-hearing God. Oh, Amaranth, why do you harden your heart towards Him?”
“If there is a God, May,” says Amaranth, determined not to hold her friendship under false colours, “it is He who has hardened my heart. I was a happy, trustful girl before my earthly father deceived us all and shadowed our name. I don’t know what good it can do to God to have brought this darkness upon us. But at least, if He exists, He knows I have enough to think about now, in earning our daily bread, without wasting time in superstitious speculations.”
“Amaranth, may it not waste time, too, to read the book on your table, just by Eddie’s Bible.”
“I bought it cheap at a stall. It is narrow-minded not to see both sides,” says Amaranth, curtly. “Eddie can only read short words. You need not fear for him. I was never good enough for your friendship, May. Go your own way, which of course will lead to heaven, and leave me to the doubts which are growing thicker and thicker, and to the outer darkness.”
For one moment May hesitates. She remembers the warning against fellowship with the unbelievers, and she wonders what her parents would say to her knowing Amaranth. But the lonely, miserable look in Amaranth’s eyes goes to her heart. She takes the cold hands in her own, and says, “We have begun to love each other, Amaranth; and even that love is of God. My God won’t leave you in outer darkness. You don’t know Him yet, Amaranth, or you never would believe He could.”
A Bryantwood Visitor
It is sometimes said that those who live daily with an invalid are not conscious of change like outsiders, who only see the sick one at intervals. But Amaranth realises, as others do not, that the blue veins upon her brother’s brow are showing more clearly now, that his chest seems thin and shrunken, and that he does not often care to drag his little limbs across the floor, as when they first came to Alexandrina Terrace.
There are many children surrounding Mr. and Mrs. William Banks, and these come up in turn to admire the white mice and the jackdaw, and play cat’s-cradle with Eddie, and relate to him, with some play of imagination, their achievements as to events at school. Eddie is aware that he is backward, and listens with admiration to Master Banks’ familiarity with the multiplication table, and the daring manner in which he makes nothing of the words that in the “Early Reader” always seem pitfalls to Eddie.
In return he paints animals and dolls for the young Bankses, and mends their toys, and sits patiently hour by hour in the big chair by the window, finding great interest and excitement in shouting “Hello!” at intervals to Amaranth, or May Burr, or a young Banks returning from the fields of knowledge.
“If Mother only knew,” thinks Amaranth, feeling with a daily pang of blank, cold dread, how light her brother is in her arms. “If Mother only knew, she would come back to us. She couldn’t keep from our Eddie, even if she has forgotten me.” And then she cries out in her heart, “No, Mother, it is wronging your love to think you can forget. Something -- I know not what -- is the cause of this terrible silence, this long delay. But this I know -- my mother cannot change: she cannot forget.”
Would that the girl had half as much faith in the Lord Jesus whose love is more than a mother’s! But how can she trust Him when she coldly, despairingly refuses to acquaint herself with Him, the knowledge of whom is peace?
As time goes on, she brings herself to take Eddie to a hospital, and the doctor prescribes for him a tonic, and counsels that he be rubbed with oil, and take plenty of nourishing diet, and if possible go to the sea. Eddie submits to be oily, and obediently swallows beef tea and custards, but looks so imploringly at Amaranth, and beseeches so tearfully to stay with “Sis” when Mrs. Banks hints at a juvenile boarding house at the seaside, that Amaranth ceases to puzzle herself over the problem of how she can give him sea air, and clasps him in her arms, and promises that nothing shall part them.
All this time she is steadily working at a picture she intends to submit for exhibition. She began it in one of her saddest moods, intending to represent a study in clouds. All is dark and lowering overhead, and the shadows hang round the forest trees that she remembers so well around Bryantwood. Everything heralds a storm, and looks, to speak the truth, remarkably depressing and melancholy, though May Burr declares the painting is wonderfully clever, and seems impressed alike by trees and sky.
One day, when Amaranth comes home from her teaching, little Eddie is smiling so brightly and looking so lovely in his gladness over a bunch of flowers Master Banks has brought him from a school treat, that Amaranth cannot forbear sketching in his face, and now, in the midst of the lowering elements in the painting, there stands a little child with smiling eyes and peaceful lips, his hands full of forget-me-nots.
“What does it mean?” asks May Burr, gazing at her friend’s picture. “There’s something symbolic about this, Amaranth. What do you intend to call it?”
“Indeed,” is the answer, “I neither see nor intend anything symbolic, May. I shall simply call it Forest Moor, which is the name of the spot I have painted from memory.”
“You might call it Hope or Faith,’” says May, looking down into the eyes so like those of young Eddie nestling against the chair cushion. “But I think it is perhaps as helpful to suggest ideas as to bestow them. Amaranth, your picture is as good as a sermon. Will you let me bring some of our fellow-students in to see it next Saturday? They all believe in you, Amaranth, for the teachers at the School of Art have dropped a good many hints as to your genius.”
“Very well, bring whom you choose,” says Amaranth, touching the sunny hair of the pictured child with a loving hand.
A few months ago such an artistic success as this, the sense of power and of genuine progress, even the knowledge of something accomplished beyond the fitful, careless work of yore, would have rejoiced her heart with dreams of greatness and fame; but what is fame to her now? What can bring her rest, who has lost parents and the nearest, dearest of all, and who sees the little child she loves slipping past her into the void, the nothingness, which is all she holds the unseen world to be?
She remembers a poem she once read, where a bird is praised for its gloriously moving music, yet all it cries over and over again in varying strains is, “The nest is bare.” The bird thinks nothing of the homage offered to its powers; that bare, empty nest has broken its heart.
“You will live to be famous, Amaranth,” says May, softly. “Your powers are far higher than mine. All the success I’ve won, and must win, for the children’ sake, has been hard, tireless work. But, Amaranth, you have genius. It tells in every stroke of your brush.”
“And what if I have?” says Amaranth, bitterly. “Can genius make me happy? Can it give me back the past?”
“Oh, Amaranth,” cries her friend, earnestly, “do not underrate the gift of genius. It is Heaven’s gift, and never meant only to be prized as it benefits self. You say you’ve ceased to believe in God, though I doubt it, Amaranth, while you listen as you do to your little brother’s prayers. But even if you have, do you care nothing for your fellow-creatures? Is it nothing to you that you can help and bless them, and lift them up by this great power you feel within you?”
“May, that is something to live for,” agrees Amaranth. “How selfish I’ve been! My thoughts are always hovering around my own misfortunes, and life has seemed so long, so blank, so empty … especially if … if … Eddie does not get stronger. But I will try to come right out of self, as you do, May. If my pictures can help other people a little, there will be some use in living, after all.”
“I heard a minister say once,” says May, “it is only when self dies we begin to live.” And she looks fondly at Amaranth, her one thought being, “Along the road of loving her fellow men, she will reach the love of God.”
On the Saturday afternoon Eddie is greatly excited over the arrival of various young ladies, many of them quite charming in his eyes, and all linguistically gifted. Several of the men from the neighbouring studios have heard wonders from Mrs. Banks concerning her young protégée’s picture, and have announced their curiosity. But Mrs. Banks is the most careful of dowagers, and is continually impressing upon Amaranth that “those painters are a wild lot;” though in this case her precautions are wasted, for Amaranth has not the least particle of girlish interest in her neighbours beyond their peculiarities as to colour mixing and other artistic details.
Much impressed by the bevy of feminine talents around him, and by the unexpected atmosphere of cake and jam at teatime, Eddie listens open-mouthed to the comments, for the most part enthusiastic, as to Amaranth’s picture, and waits for the moment when it will be his turn to be showman, and the mice, and toad, and jackdaw, and Tim will be on exhibition.
“My dear Miss Glyn, you must send it to the Academy,” is the universal verdict, and a lady in spectacles adds encouragingly, “Of course, they won’t hang it, but it is just as well to keep yourself before their eyes. I regularly send a picture every year, so as to keep myself before their eyes.”
“That is what I have begged Amaranth to do,” says May, earnestly: “to submit this for the Royal Academy. It is far stronger than the work they took of mine. Do, Amaranth, do send it there.”
“I believe you are destined to be great, Miss Glyn,” says another. “Don’t be too proud to remember those at the bottom of the ladder.”
With such discourse the fair ladies gather round the tea table, the conversation taking at once a decidedly anatomical turn and veering on skulls, till Eddie is discovered to be in tears, and entreats, “Oh, don’t talk about ghosties,” and a more cheerful subject is discovered.
It is upon this group that Mr. Matthew Gummer enters by-and-by, having travelled up from Bryantwood in his best suit, with a gift of vegetable produce from his kitchen garden to place his heart and his little cottage at the disposal of the daughter of his first patron and employer. Mr. Fleming has recently entered the employ of Hymen himself, and has celebrated the happy event by increasing the wages of his clerks. Matthew Gummer is so steady and satisfactory, that he is now in the joyful possession of two pounds a week, which appears to him a providential leading towards the matrimonial altar.
It must be owned that Matthew Gummer is not quite so much in love with Amaranth as he has tried to persuade himself coming up in the train. He considers her rather “high” in her ways and a little uncertain in her temper; but he is filled with pity for her now, and his sentiments of gratitude towards his old employer are strong. Matthew has little idea of “governessing” as a means of livelihood. Very likely Amaranth and Eddie may not have quite enough to eat, for he has heard butter and eggs and butcher’s meat are dear in London; and poultry is at a sinful price compared with Bryantwood charges.
The old folks have such good appetites that there is necessarily a plentiful board at Matthew’s house. He does not think Amaranth and little Eddie will make much difference as to food. So in a spirit of compassion and chivalry, he resolves to assist her in her need, though as he nears Alexandrina Terrace he turns a little hot and cold, and his mouth seems unusually dry.
He wishes he had had the foresight to purchase some manual on the etiquette of courtship, so as to know how to couch the remarks leading up to a declaration. To his relief, he catches sight of the portly figure of his brother-in-law, to whom he hurries with the agitated question, “How did you go about it, William, when you asked Elizabeth to keep company.”
Mr. Banks is a gentleman of thoughtful mind and slow delivery. Elizabeth Gummer was said by some of her feminine companions at Bryantwood to be coming down in the world when she changed her position of "lady-help" to share the lot of the builder and contractor. But William Banks, though not endowed with over-much education, knows how to build well -- a kind of knowledge that seems far from general in the present age -- and he is a prosperous man, possessed of the public esteem and a balance in the local bank.
“When I went courting, Matthew,” says he, slowly, “I gived your sister Elizabeth a kiss, and, says I, ‘Will you walk out with me, Elizabeth?’ And says she, ‘William, I will.’ Them was her words, Matthew, if I were put to it afore a judge and jury. I gived your sister Elizabeth a kiss.”
“But you didn’t kiss her before you knew you were accepted, William?”
“I did, surely,” is the answer. “I were pretty far gone, Matthew, and I couldn’t ha’ helped that kiss. She was always a fine woman, Matthew, was your sister Elizabeth, with a face like a rose.”
“But the editor of the Young Gentleman’s Adviser——”
“What do he know about it?” interrupted Mr. Banks. “If you’re going courting, Matthew, you do as I advise you and start with the kiss. Why, that’s half the battle, Matthew. Ten to one, if she lets you kiss her, you’re landed. Not that I’ve any reason to put anybody agin matrimony, I’m sure, if you reckon your wages will run to it. It isn’t everybody gets such another housekeeper as your sister Elizabeth, Matthew. And when you’re through with your courtlng, come in and take a plate of shrimps and a cut of ham with us, Matthew. It’s Elizabeth’s cleaning-day, and we don’t have tea till six.”
Mrs. Banks is busy, with her young domestic, in cleaning out the cellars. The door of her house stands open, Master Banks having run out surreptitiously for a game at hopscotch round the corner, instead of polishing the boots committed to his charge. Elizabeth is not visible; and the twins, strapped in their chairs on either side of the fireplace, survey their uncle with faces that gradually wrinkle up for tears of surprise. Fleeing before these symptoms of minds ill at ease, Matthew Gummer mounts the stairs to knock at the little room he knows to be the Glyns’.
“Come in, come in,” cries a chorus of voices. “It must be Connie Withers. How late she is! Come in, come in, Connie.”
Matthew Gummer opens the door, and heaves a gasp of dismay. He is vaguely conscious of a confusion of feminine tongues, of charming faces, bright eyes, and graceful dresses -- of cake and jam and toast on the table, and no signs of starvation -- of a picture that to him seems truly magnificent on the easel -- and of Amaranth, apparently taller and more dignified, certainly lovelier and more womanly, than of yore, offering him her hand cordially, and bidding him be seated.
“Mr. Gummer,” says Eddie, stealing to him with an eager face, “Sis has done a wonderful picture, and she’s going to be ever so great and famous. Lots of people say so.”
And the artist who painted this lifelike scene is the girl he intended, on Mr. Banks’ advice, to kiss! Matthew Gummer gazes at her fair, proud face, and feels dazed and frightened. How could he have dreamed of offering to Miss Glyn the keys of the four little rooms of Bluebell Cottage?
Amaranth asks after his grandparents, and passes him a cup of tea, which he stirs continuously in much confusion. One young lady offers him teacake, and another holds the bread-and-butter; and Matthew Gummer is divided between a vague sense of a tea-meeting and a half-frightened, half-delighted consciousness of a most unprecedented and enchanting episode in his career.
“Are you staying long in town, Mr. Gummer?” asks Amaranth. “Won’t you put down your bag? I fear it is in your way.”
“Oh, I only wished, miss, to ask your acceptance of a few cabbages,” he stammers, “and some garden stuff of my own raising. No, miss, I don’t stop long; I’ve took a return ticket. My hopes were to have done a friend a good turn,” he says, floundering beneath her beautiful eyes; “but there is graves in every heart, miss, which no doubt, whatever is, is for the best.”
Amaranth glances at his blue temperance ribbon, slightly suspicious that he has forgotten his pledge on the journey. Some of her companions, however, suspect his state of mind, and are encouraging him in the poetical vein, when Mrs. Banks comes up hastily with damp, affectionate hands, and begs him, if Miss Glyn will excuse him, to join their tea table, for the children are wild over their uncle’s arrival.
Mrs. Banks watches over Amaranth like a lynx, and has other ideas for her brother. She hopes he has been guilty of no imprudent folly, but suspects latent amusement on the feminine faces around. Over the ham and shrimps downstairs, she impresses her brother with the fact that Miss Glyn is sure to become a famous painter, and very likely marry a title before she’s done, “For she’s quite the lady, and has a goodish bit of pride of her own; make no mistake, Matthew.”
Matthew Gummer heaves a sigh of resigned conviction, and takes the children out to purchase “Obadiah rock” and peppermint, to be consumed in the morrow’s Sunday school. And so ends his courting expedition; and his brother-in-law, observing him somewhat silent on the way to the station, reminds him, “There’s as good fish in the sea as ever yet come out.”
News at Last
Ever since the shock of her trouble changed her from a carefree girl to a bitter-hearted woman, Amaranth’s mind has been fearfully at work. Thoughts that never occurred to her in the sunny days of old, ideas that would have shocked her if expressed by others, have rushed upon her in her loneliness like a flood. Earth and heaven seem alike to deny her rest.
She has turned to free-thinking books, in intensity of longing for the solving of her doubts. It seems to her as if the certainty that Christianity is a delusion might be better even than the suspense and unrest that are racking her. She cannot find God, she tells herself. Most likely, therefore, there is no God to find. And how can she find Him, with this cold, proud, resentful heart, that only upbraids Him -- if indeed He exists -- for her loneliness and apparent orphan-hood?
She does not give place to the voice that whispers, “Except ye become as little children.” It does not seem to strike her that the Lord God is not to be fathomed and judged, questioned and criticised, by His creation, but to be touched by love, and humility, and obedience.
And yet faith lies so near the heart of a woman, and her need of a God is such, that Amaranth turns dissatisfied from the arguments of so-called free-thinkers sooner than many a man might have done. Her heart vaguely searches for something beyond the destruction of her childhood’s faith; for certainty of some sort, not only the pulling down of the pillars against which, almost unconsciously to herself, she is leaning still.
One Sunday, greatly to Mrs. Banks’ surprise, Amaranth restlessly proposes to accompany that good lady to chapel. Eddie, when well enough, has been escorted of late by the little Bankses to the Sunday school adjoining, and passes the morning in a bright flower-decked room, listening enchanted to a blackboard lesson from the superintendent. The Sunday scholars in their children’s service have the best time of it this morning. The school, full of energetic teachers and young breezy life, is the better half now of this particular place of worship, the half-filled pews of which strike Amaranth unpleasantly with a lonely chill as she enters.
This is her first experience of a chapel, and an unfortunate one. Mr. Banks gives out “Come let us join our cheerful songs,” with rather more than his usual slow deliberation, and a mournfulness he has from childhood supposed to be appropriate to the day and place. The minister, primed with the most intimate knowledge, geographical, historical, and expository, concerning the patriarchs, argues complacently a disputed point as to the Canaanite tribes, and overlooks the possibility of there being among his hearers a throbbing, restless heart that is seeking food beyond the results of his researches in ancient history.
Mr. and Mrs. Banks, good souls, are used to this style of sermon. Mr. Banks divides the time between a short nap and some private Bible reading on his own account; and Mrs. Banks is content to understand the hymns, and to join with all her heart in the grand hymn chosen providentially by the lady at the harmonium:
“The God of Abram Praise.”
But Amaranth, searching the minister’s face and words for help, turns hungry away; and in the afternoon strays into a neighbouring church, which has the fame of a very intellectual and superior clergyman. Unfortunately, this gentleman has found during the week certain theological difficulties with which he is fain to regale his congregation today. He is rather given to contesting the viewpoints of his neighbours, and to casting little shadows of doubt that hang about people’s minds uncomfortably. It is easy enough to suggest doubts and difficulties. Amaranth feels the clergyman is very clever and original, but she has difficulties enough of her own, and leaves his church only more depressed and bewildered.
May Burr, as stout a Protestant as ever breathed, feels her heart sink within her this evening as she sees her friend passing up the steps of a Roman Catholic church. May shudders at the thought of Amaranth as a full-fledged Jesuit, and goes to the little ragged-school meeting, where she is to help tonight, with a trembling prayer for Amaranth on her lips.
She need have little fear on this particular score for her friend. Amaranth listens entranced to the music, feeling as if here she is to be rested and satisfied indeed; but the shifting scene around her soon seems to her more appropriate to some spectacular drama than to the House of God. With every fresh effort of display He seems more deeply hidden from her eyes. And the worthy man who discourses has certain things to say as to the error of private and individual opinion apart from that of the Church, which, to an active mind like Amaranth’s, do not at all commend themselves.
By the time Amaranth gets home she is feeling worn out and hopeless, discontented with the spiritual waters that have flowed around her on this day when she resolved to mingle with the worshippers, and yet not bringing herself to go to the Source and Fountain head, where she could have reached Him by a prayer, even a cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
Fortunately for her condition of dreary apathy, Eddie is complaining of pains in his chest, and needing soothing poultices. By the time Amaranth has lulled his pain, and he has fallen asleep, his fair head nestling to her as she sits by his pillow, earth does not seem so vain and drear, or heaven the mere dream of a visionary.
Next day, Eddie’s cough is so troublesome that Amaranth puts down her brushes, and wraps him up and takes him to the hospital to consult the visiting doctor again. Much as she dislikes this ordeal, Amaranth never lets another escort the little fellow. She is highly nervous and keenly susceptible to painful sights, and often has a private burst of tears after such a visit, for sometimes she has to wait a long time, next to those who, strange to say, appear to take a sort of pride in the display or explanation of their own or their children’s ailments, and who gradually work up her nerves to tension unendurable save for Eddie’s sake.
Today she is more fortunate. The old lady next to her shows her where the grandchild she escorts has hurt his head, and gives her the history as usual; but an acquaintance appears on the scene armed with a child troubled with rickets, and the two compare notes, while Amaranth slips away to another corner and is at peace.
Suddenly Eddie pulls her sleeve with an excited gasp. "Look, Sis -- there's Ardyn. I know that was Ardyn going up the staircase. Sis, do you think Ardyn’s ill? What’s he at the hospital for? Sis, won’t you run up after him, and tell him I’m here?”
Amaranth shakes her head, and presses a biscuit on her brother with a trembling hand. Before Eddie spoke she had already recognised Ardyn, though he passed them hurriedly, without noticing them. She sees that he has been ordained, for he is in clerical dress.
She is conscious of wearing her shabby morning serge, and of a large darn in Eddie’s overcoat, and of sitting here, seeking charitable relief, among a concourse of the poor. She is thankful he did not see her; yet how she longs and hungers now that they could even exchange a single word.
She is sitting dreaming of Ardyn -- dreaming of the time when, as a bashful boy, he came to live at The Bower, because Mr. Bigham had been left guardian to him, and his wife was too ill for him to live at the Rectory. He studied daily with his uncle, but The Bower was his home, and Amaranth's garden his playground.
Mrs. Bigham knew his board money was welcome to Mrs. Glyn, and she thought The Bower was much more cheerful for the boy than a house of sickness. He stayed there until he went to a public school and thence to college; and Amaranth seems to see again the bright, affectionate boy who year by year confided to her his hopes and plans, in every one of which she had a share. And now -- is it not true that the gods laugh at human ideas? Now their lives have been swept apart; perhaps he is already very well content that so it should be.
The doctor prescribes a tonic and liniment for Eddie, and tells him to beware of the east wind. He terrifies Amaranth by asking if any of their relations are consumptive. She says hurriedly and decisively that she has never heard of any such case in their family, and that Eddie is often feeble in the spring, and had rather a tiring day yesterday; but she holds the boy close to her with a yearning clasp as she leaves the room.
Eddie is in very good spirits, despite his cough. He is interested in every one of the patients and their ailments, especially the sick babies. These visits to the hospital are rather red-letter days with Eddie, who has now resolved to grow up to be a famous physician.
As they leave the hospital, he is acquainting Amaranth with the history of a girl with a bruised nose, when her name is spoken and both her hands are taken by Ardyn.
What they say in the next few minutes neither know. Eddie gets almost under a horse’s feet. Before Amaranth can remonstrate, they are all in a cab, and Ardyn is questioning her as to her success and Eddie’s health, and explaining that he now assists his uncle at Bryantwood Church; but a man who waited on him at Cambridge is ill in this hospital, and Ardyn has been visiting him there.
“I was wondering,” he said, “whether I dared call upon you. I don’t know what uncle would say, for I believe he and aunt miss you dreadfully, Amaranth, and would easily forgive a visit to you; but I was not sure if you would see me if I came. What is the matter with you, dear? You have lost your colour, and you are getting so thin. Is there still no news from your parents? Are you still all alone?”
“Except for Eddie,” she says, with her arms around her brother.
“And Tim, and the toad, and the white mice,” says Eddie, reproachfully.
“This must not, shall not go on,” says Ardyn, impetuously. “Oh, Amaranth, how can I find you, only to lose you again? Come to me and be my own. I can live elsewhere, if you dislike Bryantwood. I have means enough of my own, without applying to uncle. Amaranth, forget the past. Leave the memory of your poor father to Him who is Judge over all. Has He not joined our hearts together? Why do you split apart our lives like this?”
“Because my father’s sin has disgraced our name,” she says, with burning cheeks, “and I am no longer fitted to belong to you. Do you think, Ardyn, I care nothing about your career? Do you think it would be no hindrance to you to be the son-in-law of… of… one whom some call a criminal? Ardyn, I don’t know if it grieves or gladdens me most to know you are still the same; but you must learn to forget me, Ardyn. Fate does not mean us for each other.”
“I know nothing about Fate,” he says; “but I believe in God, and I cannot think, my darling, He takes back that which He gives. I know you loved me once. I looked upon that love as Heaven’s most glorious gift. Your pride is parting us, not the hand of God. I trust Him, I pray to Him, in His own way and in His own time, to give you back to me one day. In time or eternity, Amaranth, my love is yours. God will give you back to me at last.”
The tears are struggling in her sad, dark eyes; but she only says with a sad, fleeting smile, “Yes, Ardyn, when my father is innocent again.”
“And there is One who can wash every sin away, and blot out the stain. Leave Him to deal with the guilty,” says Ardyn, softly, hearing the half-contempt with which she names her father.
“Here’s where we live,” cries Eddie. “Ardyn, come in and see the toad.”
But Amaranth holds out her hand in farewell, and makes no sign of yielding. She would like to show Ardyn her picture, and the little arrangements that have made a studio of her room; but her heart is so twined with his that she knows not how long she may be strong enough, if near his side, to bid him go.
For a moment she feels that Ardyn is resolved on a goodbye kiss, and his eyes tell her she will have to gather up all her determination to resist it. But Mrs. Banks appears just then up the area steps, and overwhelms him with questions as to Bryantwood, and in the presence of this portly chaperone, he foregoes the kiss.
Amaranth watches him out of sight from the landing window, drinks some cold water in her bedroom, and bathes her face and then hurries to the studio to see what is causing Eddie to shout and cough in such agitation. The boy is wild with excitement, and Tim is shrieking and barking at his loudest. The canary is in full song, and Susan, sunburnt and dusty, takes Amaranth, Eddie, and Tim into her arms.
“Well, Miss Amaranth, and if you haven’t grown that good-looking, I’d scarce have known you! Hush, my precious boy, you’ll break a vessel. I’ve got some lozenges in my bag as will stop the tickling in your throat, Master Eddie. Yes, Miss Amaranth, I’ve found you at last. And now sit down, my pets, and let me look at you, and I’ll just cover up the canary. And now I’ll tell you all the news, and you shall read your dear mamma’s letter.”
Mrs. Glyn’s Travels
Amaranth stretches out her hand for her mother’s letter, and sits looking at the familiar writing, dazed, incredulous, faint with surprise and relief. She has scarcely dared to think of late that the world can still hold her mother; and now the burden of dread and suspense has been rolled away, and she is to hold communion with the patient, precious mother again!
Surely this must be one of the many dreams in which she has seen her mother’s face, and trodden again, between eyebright and cowslip and wild hyacinth, the forest ways leading up to the dear home garden!
But Susan, brown, travel-stained, and affectionate, is before her in the flesh, and Eddie looks better already as his blue eyes light up with the thought that perhaps his parents may not be far behind.
“Where is she, Susan?” asks Amaranth, grasping her precious letter as a coming joy that she holds to her heart.
"They're at Cama, Miss Amaranth -- leastways they was when I left them -- and there's insects and vipers enough to keep the master there a good bit yet, I reckon."
“Cama? Why, where is Cama, Susan? “
“In Peru, Miss Amaranth, in the south parts of America.”
“But, Susan, you never can have come from Peru?”
“Indeed, Miss Amaranth, I have, and glad enough am I to get here. I would never have left the mistress but that she hung about me, and fretted and cried for me to come back and look after you two blessed children. Says she, ‘I’m all right, Susan, now I’ve found him; and he’ll be safe with me. But I’m worrying day and night about the children. If only you were with them, to look after Miss Amaranth and Master Eddie as you’ve been a-looking after me! I know, wheresoever they may have moved to, you’ll track them out, and watch over them till we come back, and we can all be together again.’ And when I saw her worrying and fretting on your account, says I, ‘There’s Mrs. Johns, the wife of an indigo-planter away out over the water, is going to England before long, missus. I’ll offer myself for her service.’ And so I did, and Mrs. Johns accepted me for to look after her babies onboard ship, and six days later I turned my back on Cama. I never wants to see no more of America, not if I lives to be a second Methuselah.”
“Susan,” says Amaranth, in a whisper, half afraid that the dream may dissolve, “we’ve heard nothing from Mother since she started from Newhaven. Tell me… tell me… has Mother been ill? Tell me all that’s happened, from the beginning.”
Her heart smites her that she could give place to the thought that her mother had forgotten her -- the mother whose heart has been sore and grieved for the sake of her absent children.
“Well, Miss Amaranth,” says Susan, as Eddie hugging Tim, nestles contentedly in her lap, “no more Channel crossings for me. Not if you paid me a hundred pound! Mistress and me were took dreadful bad, for it was wonderful rough. The stewardess had enough to do, I tell you, and I thought every minute ‘twas all over with me. But your dear ma, she was worser still. She was more dead than alive when we landed among them furriners, and says she, ‘I won’t write to the children till I’ve got good news to tell them, for I’m that depressed and weak, it would only be adding to their troubles.’ Well, miss, ‘twere a matter of three weeks before she felt strong on her legs, for you know the mistress was always a delicate one. It was not only the stormy passage we’d had, it was all she’d gone through, as seemed to come over her and keep her low. But just as soon as she begun to get up her strength, she went here and there a-parley-vooing and making of inquiries about the master, and I will say that for the furriners -- they're wonderful polite in answering questions, and they seemed real sorry for her.
"Well, miss, not to make too long a story of it -- for I think they're bringing up your dinner, and I'll have to clear the table of these paint brushes and get the room a bit square -- mistress, she got wind that a gentleman, as seemed just like the master as to face and beard and clothes, had gone on towards Paris, wandering by the ponds and streams, making investigations as to some olive green frogs with yellow stripes down their backs. Says I, 'That's the master, sure enough, for give him a beetle or anything as is nasty and creepy, and all the rest of the world will go out of his head.'
“Well, it took us a long while and a good bit of our money before we traced him, and when we got on his track it was not your papa after all! It was a Russian professor, with a name as it’s no good asking me to tell you. But he was very polite to the mistress, and told her of a gentleman who had crossed with him from Newhaven, as seemed dreadful low in his mind, and only revived when the Professor got telling him about a place in Italy called Metano, where the frogs have got toes like cushions, and are wonderful pretty. So off we started, and we did get some clue to the master there, for some said he’d gone on to Rome to see a priest that had got some wonderful choice pet snakes.
"So we didn't stop long at Metano; but off we goes to Rome, and there, if the mistress didn't get laid up with fever. And when she got better I had a turn of it too! Well, we won't talk no more of that time, Miss Amaranth. I got a bit of cleaning to do for some English ladies as liked their rooms scrubbed out regular; and they got real interested in mistress, and helped her to discover the friar as kept the snakes. He was as pleasant a gentleman as you'd care to see -- a deal pleasanter to my mind than Mr. Bigham, down at Bryantwood. And to see him quite at home with all them snaky creatures that he'd got in his museum, was wonderful interesting.
“He gave mistress but very little hope, though he said that a gentleman did come and see him one day, nigh three months since, for some information for a book he was writing, and we made out it was the master, for the friar was sure he stammered, like your papa does, and he’d got ‘S. G.’ plain enough on his bag. But he told the friar as he’d got no settled home anywhere, and he was going to Rio de Janeiro to make some observations for his book about the frogs as lows like cattle, and croaks so as you’d think it was the clanging of a blacksmith’s hammer.”
“Oh, poor Mother!” cries Amaranth. “However could she, in her weakness, get to Rio de Janeiro?”
“She was strong, Miss Amaranth, whenever she got wind of even a hint. Bit by bit we got nearer and nearer to America, for them ladies as I worked for in Rome lent the mistress a little money, and told her to pay it back when she could. We had some adventures, Miss Amaranth. Once we were nearly robbed, and I all but lost my paisley shawl that has been so many years in our family. Mistress, too, was dreadful near getting the cholera once; and as for the mosquitoes, don’t talk to me about English insects for biting anymore! But at last we did get near Rio de Janeiro, and then we got scent of your papa in Cama, in Peru. And there he was right enough, Miss Amaranth, writing another book about the Trapicltero or some such name as that, as makes a grating noise like a sugar-mill.
"Dear me, miss, the parts where he lives is a perfect paradise for your papa, poor man! The flowers are wonderful. You ought to see the fuchsias, miss, and the heliotrope, and the hillsides sparkling with wild flowers! And the trees are huge, miss, and master was always finding out something strange about them and about the rocks. And as for beetles and birds -- ah, Master Eddie, darling, this here canary's not to be compared to them bright birds flitting about among the branches."
“But, Susan, Susan,” says Amaranth, tremblingly, “there is so much to ask you, I scarcely know how to begin. How did they meet? Did it not upset Mother very much? When is she coming home? Is Father going to stay living out there? Surely not.”
“Miss Amaranth, I ain’t blind nor deaf, and I knew what Bryantwood folks said of your papa. Of course your dear mamma will have it that it’s all a mistake. Well, I don’t know what to say one way or the other. The Glyns were always a family as could look the world in the face. I’ve heard my mother say so, many a time. But when folks takes to pen and ink and hearwigs and slimy creatures, maybe, miss, they ain’t no longer responsible. But if he did take the money, Miss Amaranth, he must have spent it long before we came up with him, for truly he’d scarce got a coat to his back by then, and someone had give him a little work to do as kept him in victuals. I know it had something to do with sarsaparilla, because I’ve taken that medicine in the spring for many a year, and it’s a remedy as I believe in for the blood.”
“But, Susan, tell me how they met.”
“It was on the hills, Miss Amaranth. Mistress and me were wandering on among them big calceolarias, when we see someone stooping down after a beetle, with the old tin case we knew so well over his shoulders. And mistress, dead beat as she was, sprung up with a cry, and in a moment she was by his side. Then she fainted away, for the first time, miss, since she and me left these shores of Britannia. As for master, it seemed as if he’d scarcely believe his eyes. I assure you, Miss Amaranth, he cried like a child; and if he didn’t leave his tin box on the hills and lose thirty of his best specimens! We carried her home between us, and I don’t know how many hours those two didn’t sit hand in hand, like a couple of children, while I grilled some meat and made some coffee, and had a bit of a cry all to myself as I tidied up a bit.
“Mistress told me after, that master felt his head very queer just about the time he drew that money out of the Bank. He says he brought it home, and left the bag hanging under his coat in the hall, and next morning it was gone! Mistress thinks robbers must have got into the house that night, but I know I chained the doors up all right, and found nothing wrong in the morning.
“She said master felt so ashamed and so sure folks would think him a thief, that he made a bolt for it. He thought it was the kindest thing he could do for his family, and they would get on better without him. But it was evident, miss, he’d been heartsick for the mistress, for he looked years older and feebler when we came up with him, and the folks round about told us he’d been strange in his head more than once. He had a bad attack very soon after mistress met him. Perhaps it was the agitation; and we had to nurse him for some weeks.
“He insisted on knowing if Bryantwood folks thought him guilty, and he says he’ll never come back till they believe in his innocence. So I suppose, miss, there he’ll stop, with your dear mamma. She’ll never leave him alone. She’s got a little teaching, and she does some sewing too, and that’s how they live from day to day; but it’s to be hoped their fortunes will mend. I suppose, Miss Amaranth, there ain’t no good news of your papa’s book?”
“It came back to me soon after Mother went,” says Amaranth. “I have laid away the manuscript. I suppose there is really nothing in it after all. And yet father is writing another! Susan, I must read her precious letter now, but tell me one thing: why didn’t Mother write to me from Cama? “
"I know she wrote, miss, as soon as she met your papa. But the post was a long way off, and we gave our letters to a young chap in the mining way -- a very rough fellow he was, miss, and had the impudence to pay me too many compliments. I don’t doubt he forgot to post them, for he had not a bit of head on his shoulders, only for guns and horses and such like. But the master took a fancy to him, because he brought him a new sort of lizard. I’d like to get hold of that Allaga and shake him. Mistress made him promise he’d post that letter to you particular. It’s a good thing for that young chap as we’ll never meet again.
“And now, Master Eddie, there isn’t nothing for you to cry about. Your papa and mamma is sure to come back to this happy country one of these days. And now I’ll wash your face, and give you some of this broth. And I’ll keep your dinner warm, Miss Amaranth, pet, while you read your dear mamma’s letter.”
Reaching the Laurels
For the time being, even the thought of Ardyn, springing up in her heart as an everlasting flower, though alas such a flower as blooms on a grave -- seems covered up by the passionate love with which Amaranth caresses the words her mother has penned. There is no line from her father. Perhaps some dim consciousness is his that his daughter looks upon him as the author of her poverty and disgrace. Stephen Glyn is a proud man in his way, nervous and reserved, and keenly susceptible to the opinion of others. He is powerless to lift the cloud that hangs over him. All he asks is oblivion, concealment, forgetfulness.
Amaranth thinks her mother’s letter is tear-stained, and she begins to understand the divided yearnings of the faithful heart. Mrs. Glyn gives a brief account of their travels, making the account as free from pain as possible, but enlarges on her assurance of Father’s innocence. She repeats Mr. Glyn’s account of the dazed, confused condition of his thoughts just then, disturbed by floating theories he longed to prove, by the consciousness of debt, and by the frequent rejection of his scientific work. However, he distinctly remembers drawing out the Church Fund money, being prompted to do so by a harassing dream of the instability of the Bank. He has always been a little afraid of banks, and only deposited that money to his account for the convenience of the subscribers.
He remembers leaving the money in the hall, the bag being hidden behind his coat. He blames his carelessness now in leaving it thus. He meant to inform his wife that it was in the house, and to pass it over next day to the rector, declining the responsibility of being treasurer any longer. But the post had just brought him a new treatise on the centipede, and in his interest in this work he forgot the fact of the bag being there at all.
Next morning, he arose early, anxious to attend to its safety, but it had vanished. Mrs. Glyn had supplied a tramp with food that day, according to the custom of The Bower, where no one was sent empty away, though the relief only took the shape of food and drink. She noticed that he cast observant looks around him. It is Mrs. Glyn’s opinion that the tramp must have been an accomplished London burglar, and he returned in the night, and finding so much money at his disposal, left the rest of the house intact.
Amaranth reads the letter again.
“All I can do, my darling, is to pray unceasingly that by some means your dear father’s name may be cleared. This seems just now impossible, but what is too hard for our Lord in whom is all my trust? Father’s nerves are so low and weak that I find now that I must make as little allusion as possible to Bryantwood, but I am thinking ever of our dear old home, and far more of my precious children.
“Amaranth, write to me and tell me of my boy, of yourself, my precious daughter. I scarcely dare to ask you of Eddie’s health, or to trust myself to write about him. Kiss my boy for me, and God grant we may all soon meet again! Keep Susan with you, my child, if you can. Hers is a noble heart, and henceforth I must look upon her as a sister. What she has been to me, only Heaven can know.
I cannot ask you and Eddie to come to us. Father speaks of moving on into the wilder regions, and he is getting restless here. I try to hide from him how my heart yearns for England, but I think he suspects it. You and Eddie are safer in the old country, my child, and I will come to you just as soon as the tangled way seems straight and open. Only One can make the crooked places plain, but He can and will. May He have my children in His safe and tender keeping! Kiss my boy for me, Amaranth, my dearest child. Your own loving Mother,
P.S. -- Father has just come in, and he sends Eddie this butterfly. I hope it will reach you safely. It has cheered me so, my child, to hear father speak of Eddie of his own accord, as I can scarcely ever get him to mention his old home or his children. A medical man told me that memory was a difficulty in his state of nerves, so I have been content for him to live in the present; but just now he mentioned Eddie of his own accord, and has taken so much trouble to put up the butterfly well."
Eddie is almost consoled for his parents’ prolonged absence by the gorgeous butterfly. His father’s pursuits are near and dear to his heart, and the boy is already quite a little naturalist. He sits down after dinner to communicate to his father in large printed letters his investigations concerning a bit of his potato and one of Amaranth’s hairs under his little microscope, while Susan places herself and her belongings in a tiny attic in the roof, and explains to Mrs. Banks that henceforth she is cook, waitress, and general factotum to the Glyns.
She refuses to discuss with Amaranth the subject of wages, referring her young mistress to a certain brother who keeps a general shop somewhere near Dartford, and appears, according to Susan, to come forward with any needed supplies should she at any time run short.
Money-matters are no longer a care for Amaranth Glyn. She hears no more of Ardyn. Her mother’s letters hint no more at coming home, for her father cannot endure to live in England under a cloud. Amaranth learns as the months go on, how much even a little money can buy if used carefully. She could afford to move into better lodgings, but she contents herself with engaging one of the studios Mr. Banks has built. It matters little to her now where she lives. Even her improved means bring her no nearer to the man she loves, for he must not be allowed to have anything to do with the child of a thief.
The improvement in her circumstances began on a certain never-to-be forgotten day, marked with much embellishment in Eddie’s diary, when Amaranth understood that her picture “Forest Moor” was accepted for the Royal Academy. One of May Burr’s had been declined, and sympathy for her hardworking, conscientious friend helped to tone down Amaranth’s excitement, but that of Eddie and Susan knew no bounds. Susan took Eddie at her own expense in a cab to Burlington House, and the two took up their position by Amaranth’s picture, and drank in every word of notice uttered by the public in its vicinity, convinced that not a picture on the walls could vie with the great genius and splendid success of “Miss Amaranth’s.”
Amaranth sold her picture, too, which just then was very much to the purpose for her.
“Uncle’s bought your picture, dear,” announced one of her young private pupils one morning. “Uncle’s got some land down that way, he says, though he likes better to live in town. Uncle thinks you’re very clever. He thinks you’re sure to get on, and Uncle Acworthy’s quite a connysore.”
“A connoisseur, you mean, Reggie,” says Amaranth, with a smile. The name of Acworthy seems familiar to her, and she recalls that this is probably the lord of the manor of Bryantwood, who has let the Manor House, and prefers to live in town. The people of Bryantwood know little of him, as the property has only lately fallen to his share.
Amaranth finds that most of the artists know Mr. Acworthy. He is a great art patron, and studied painting once for a year, which prompts him to go from studio to studio, offering criticisms and suggestions. He is a generous purchaser, too, which somewhat sweetens to the palate of genius the critical pill.
Amaranth meets him one evening at a small gathering at the house of Reggie’s parents. From then on, he is often present when she is giving a drawing lesson, and helps her with many words of encouragement as to her future as an artist. One day, with blushes that remind her somewhat of Matthew Gummer’s, he ventures to bring flowers and grapes to Alexandrina Terrace for her acceptance. Mrs. Banks knows him well, and highly approves of him. She is pleased to ask him up, and he makes acquaintance with Eddie, to whom he proffers many a delightful drive as time goes on. Eddie is enchanted with him, and Amaranth has very grateful feelings towards the benevolent-looking elderly gentleman, with such a substantial air of possible bank notes and such evident interest and pride in her career.
But she is as amused as astonished one day to overhear Susan and Mrs. Banks arranging her Kensington establishment as the future Mrs. Acworthy. Susan is divided between coachman, cook, two housemaids, and a page, while Mrs. Banks inclines to a footman.
“His intentions is evident,” says Susan. “Anyone can see how he looks at Miss Amaranth. Not that I considers him suitable in all respects, but what is a bald head, Mrs. Banks, compared with honourable feelings? And what do it matter that the gentleman limps a little, when the heart’s in the right place, ma’am? “
“Ah, that’s the point,” says Mrs. Banks. “And I do assure you, Susan, she couldn’t do better. He’s quite the gentleman. And it will be a good thing for Miss Glyn to have an affectionate husband like Mr. Acworthy at her side as the years go on; for there’s ups and there’s downs in an artist’s life. Dear me, I ought to know, for half the studios here are ours. Not but what I think Miss Glyn’s bound to succeed, soon or late; she’s got the right stuff in her. My William, he’s slow but he’s sure. He don’t often give an opinion on artistic matters, but he’s familiar with the cream of the profession; we keep their keys. And says he, when he takes a look at Miss Glyn’s picture, ‘Elizabeth, that’s not so dusty after all.’ And when my William gives that praise to the work of an artist, Susan, you may make up your mind that artist is going to rise.”
May Burr is quite of the worthy landlady’s opinion as to Amaranth’s developing power. She comes with fond pride to show the reviews and notices she has collected concerning “Forest Moor,” which has certainly received more attention than is usually the case with the work of a beginner. “I no longer say, you will be great,” she cries enthusiastically to her friend. “Amaranth, you are great. The world’s voice owns it. How happy you must be! “
Eddie sends one of his laboriously written communications abroad to announce to his parents that Mr. Acworthy has given him some goldfish in a bowl, and that “Amaranth is grate.” All around her joyous prophecies and congratulations are outpoured; but neither fame nor money is sufficient to still the restless discontent within, or satisfy the cravings of Amaranth’s heart. She is conscious of lacking something still, of yearning for a peace which neither gold nor greatness has power to bestow.
Amid the daily round of pastoral work, Ardyn, who scarcely knew at first how to face the life before him, is learning that to him who walks with God, life cannot fail of comfort and of blessing; and Amaranth, crowned with laurel, satisfied as to basket and store, shall see and understand earth holds no heart-rest, save in Him who “is not far from any one of us.”
The critics think so well of “Forest Moor,” and Amaranth’s name is mentioned so cordially in the papers, that she finds herself an object of interest now to some former acquaintances who dropped her when the cloud fell over her father, and have since seemed oblivious of her existence. Many of these remember that they always considered her a remarkable child, and prophesied she would live to be famous. Some of her old friends send her invitations, which she declines resolutely, for she has surrounded herself with hard work, the only satisfaction that seems left.
One day she receives, sent by Ardyn, a box of wild flowers from the wood. He does not like to weary her with protestations; but those little blossoms from the paths she sees no more soften her heart and refresh her life more than many a sermon could do just now. Even Miss Grimwood, who has always objected to Amaranth as dowered with the deceitful gift of beauty -- a gift not enjoyed by her own niece Rebecca -- condescends to write to Alexandrina Terrace now, asking if Amaranth, as an exhibitor, can send her down a parcel of free admission tickets to the Academy, as she and some of her friends may probably come up to town by excursion this season. She encloses a tract, "All is Vanity," and adds a postscript, asking Amaranth to match some bonnet-ribbons for her and choose a feather, and to post her some patterns of new dress-materials, "as worn in London."
Such letters as these make very little impression on the young artist, and exercise no influence on her work. However, there are others which cause her to tremble as she reads, which bring the flush to her brow, and the dews to her wondering eyes. She knows nothing of the writers. They are perfect strangers to her; but they write from full hearts to thank her for the help and blessing her picture has been.
“My life is a hot struggle in the commercial world,” says one. “I have lived but for money-making. I have thought of nothing but getting. But the other day, as I stood before your pictured grey, cool woods, and looked upon the restful shadows that seemed to flutter across the leafy branches, my heart grew thirsty for my country home, and a heavenly voice seemed to bid me come out awhile from the mart, and take time, amid all my getting, for rest and quiet and communion with nature’s God. And today I put down the toil for a season, and turn to the cooling woods. May God grant that there I hear His voice among the trees.”
And another speaks of fretful, anxious chafing and cares rebuked by the solemn peace of the pictured pines, so still, so calm, so lonely, their branches touched with the sunset light a little as with a holy crown.
And yet another, viewing the little child in the thicket as lost, remarks on his cloudless look of trust, his happy, fearless eyes, and is reminded that even as a little child, in a spirit of unshadowed faith, the soul finds the kingdom of heaven.
"I have gazed again and again," says another, "at the little one going home -- for such, I think, is your idea -- along the lone, bewildering, tangled ways to the gleam of sunset quivering through the clouds. Yours is indeed a picture of human life, and in the little face turned skyward you have given the key to our deathless hope in every darksome labyrinth."
And another tells of having been comforted by the blossoms shining amid the gloom, the forget-me-nots clustering within the dimpled hands. “Sometimes,” she says, “I am troubled by my dullness and forgetfulness. I am the stupid one of a clever family, and the knowledge of this fact is a hindrance and a worry to me; but your sweet flowers, true to nature, have been eloquent to remind me of the legend you doubtless had in mind in painting their innocent beauty. I came across the poem long ago, and it floated back to me with your picture. It tells how, when our heavenly Father gave all the flowers a name, a little timid, blue-eyed one came back, and ashamed of its bad memory, its dullness, it said tremblingly,
“‘Dear God, the name Thou gavest me, Alas, I have forgot!’ Kindly the Father looked Him down, And said, ‘Forget Me not!’”
As she reads such letters as these. Amaranth is bewildered, humbled, bowed down. Can it be, she wonders, she is anointed for His service whom in her heart she denies? Can it be that the dread Power in which, if she believes at all, it is as an Enemy, stretches out sovereign hands to claim her powers, and will not let her go?
“I thought nothing of all this,” she cries in perplexity. “I meant nothing that these people see in my picture. I cannot see it there myself. To me it is only a memory of the woods of the past, with Eddie making my one gleam of brightness in the gloom. All the rest is but their fancy, their mistake.”
Amaranth decides these letters are all a mistake, but even to herself that which she strives to accomplish now takes a higher, nobler, more sympathetic form.
And success beyond her hopes is granted to her. The young, fair, lonely artist excites much interest, and she and her work become popular alike. May Burr, as time goes on, seeks work among the magazines, and is glad for the sake of those at home to design an advertisement when she gets the chance. She never paints “pot-boilers.,” Her work is always the best she can give, but somehow she does not seem to hit the popular taste, and Amaranth thinks it is all the more unselfish of her friend to rejoice so proudly in her triumphs.
One day Mr. Acworthy begs the favour of an interview, and appears in Amaranth’s presence with a fragrant gardenia in his buttonhole. Mr. Acworthy has come to the conclusion that it is not good for man to be alone, and has been redecorating his house in Kensington with a view to a lady’s society. One room, indeed, has been set apart as a most professionally equipped studio, wherein he hopes one day to sit and paint by the side of his artistic spouse. He is a modest man, and is conscious that Amaranth has given him no encouragement. He has paved the way to this moment by his weekly offerings of flowers, and generously-lavished books and magazines.
He feels that now the time for speaking has arrived, for the last coat of paint has been put on the last door, and all the nest lacks is the bird to give it grace. For some moments he sits gazing into his hat, somewhat relieved that Amaranth goes on painting, yet wishing she would help him out a little.
“I dare say, Miss Glyn,” he says, somewhat hesitatingly, “you have heard I have had my house done up. There is really some artistic work in the back drawing room, and you would like the frescoes in the music room.”
Amaranth suspects an order. She is very full just now, and eagerly tries to secure it for May.
“Oh, Mr. Acworthy, I know just the very person who would take such pains with any design for you. I am expecting her this evening.”
"Oh, if you are likely to be interrupted," he continues, hastily, "I will tell you at once why I have called, Miss Glyn. Your talents have made an impression upon me, upon my heart. Miss Glyn, if you will give me your attention for a moment -- and, by the way, your perspective is a little bit faulty there, is it not? Well, perhaps not, but there is nothing like accuracy in these details. I have had some art training myself, you know. Miss Glyn... dear Amaranth... shall we paint in future side by side? Will you change your name to Acworthy?"
Amaranth has risen, half frightened, devoutly wishing little Eddie would come in, or that Susan would think it time to light the lamp. Susan, however, is talking below with Mrs. Banks, and giving it as her opinion that “there’s nothing like a white muslin with dots or sprigs, and a nice lace veil for a bride; and surely if anything will cheer up the master and bring him home, it will be Miss Amaranth’s wedding day, bless her!”
“I am very, very sorry,” says Amaranth, tremblingly. “Please, do not think of me like that, Mr. Acworthy.”
“But why not, Amaranth? I know I am plain and homely, and much older than yourself, but I will take such care of you and Eddie.”
The thought of her little brother stays the decisive words on Amaranth’s lips. For Eddie’s sake, is it right of her to refuse for him such a protector?
“Oh, Mr. Acworthy,” she falters, “I shall never marry. I have resolved always to keep single. There are family circumstances that make it better for no other name to be connected with mine.”
“I know what you mean,” says Mr. Acworthy, gently. “I was down at Bryantwood last year, and heard about your trouble from Mr. Bigham. Let that be no obstacle, I beg. Your father may have forgotten his integrity, but perhaps he was suddenly tempted, and that has nothing to do with you in my estimation. Come, Amaranth, forget your troubles, and let me claim you as Mrs. Acworthy.”
The feeling that he is thinking of enforcing his claim with a kiss startles Amaranth into a burst of tears. Her companion has never before seen her cry, and is sincerely distressed.
"Come, come, Amaranth," he says, rather nervous as to the possibility of hysteria, "I didn't mean to upset you like this. I will say no more on this subject, if you really object. Perhaps I have been forestalled, Amaranth -- there may be somebody else -- but I beg your pardon, for I have no right to ask."
“I am not engaged, indeed,” says Amaranth, drying her eyes. “I intend to lead a single life. I am wedded to my art.”
But she blushes so painfully that he is convinced in his heart she is thinking just then of that “somebody else;” and he wishes, rather ruefully, that he had left his household preparations till sure of the lady’s consent.
“Well, Miss Glyn,” he says, quietly, after a pause, “I cannot help saying that I shall always feel a deep interest in your career, and I hope my presumption may be no barrier to our friendship. No doubt an old bachelor like myself has no right to think of changing his state. I am perhaps too old for that kind of thing now. By the way,” he adds, “if I can serve you at any time, it will be a real pleasure to me. I have often heard your little brother say how he longs for his old home again. I expect The Bower will shortly be to let, as the school that has been carried on there is to be moved to a more modern house. Now, Miss Glyn, if you felt justified in becoming its tenant, I should be glad to make the terms easy. I am sure you must have many precious associations with your old home.”
To buy The Bower has been Amaranth’s dream from childhood. She looks at her friend, thinking she may one day find courage, as her prospects brighten to ask him to accept the purchase money by instalments. But she could not live there. She could not breathe in the place that has known the family disgrace.
“Mr. Acworthy,” she says, “I am hoping Eddie will forget the old home in time. Dear as it is to us, it would be too painful to return. But I feel your kindness from my heart, and thankfully look on you as one of my truest, kindest friends.”
“Well, Miss Glyn, let me do something for you. Upon my word, I never meant to upset you like this. I know you need no more work just now, but who is the protégée for whom you seek orders?”
“She is no protégée” says Amaranth, smiling through her tears. “She is very clever, and, oh, so thorough in her work! My friend is Miss Burr, of 5, Alexandrina Crescent. You have met her here once or twice. You would be so pleased with any work you gave her to do.”
“I will bear her in mind for the designs for my studio ceiling,” says Mr. Acworthy. “I will certainly bear her in mind. Come, come, Miss Glyn, forget how I have upset you, and let us be good friends still. Try a little water. Dear me, I must hurry off now. Yes, I will see this Miss Burr of the Crescent; I will certainly bear her in mind.”
Beside the $ea
Eddie’s longing for his old home, far from being forgotten, seems to gain in strength as the days go on. Amaranth is so full of work just now that it seems natural to her to see her little brother lying back pale and quiet in his chair, and to hear him say, with a smile, he is “only tired.” But sometimes the feeling rushes upon her that despite the nourishment and medicine and galvanic treatment she is able to afford him now, little Eddie is really weaker. One day, while sitting with her in her studio and watching her at her work, the boy quietly faints away.
“I want to go home,” is all he says, wearily, when he is a little better, and Susan and Amaranth are trying to bring back the smiles to his white face.
“He seems just sickening for Bryantwood, miss,” says Susan. “Tell you what, Miss Amaranth, I was wishing to spend the day with my married sister as lives near the Gummers. Let me take the boy down, and I’ll get permission from the lady there for him to get about The Bower a bit. He seems heart-sore for the old place, Miss Amaranth.”
“I want to go home. I want Mother,” says Eddie, looking at them wistfully. “Sis, darling, shall I never see Mother again?”
"You shall -- you shall, my own," says Amaranth, putting back his waves of hair with a lingering, sorrowful touch.
That day she writes to her mother, uttering for the first time the word “decline,” at which the doctor, to whom Eddie is now taken as a private patient, has hinted more than once. Tim looks from one to the other, and puts his paw upon the boy, and licks the little wasted hand as if he understood the fear.
“Oh, Mother, come soon,” writes Amaranth. “I see a change in our boy. His chest is so thin and sunken, his eyes are so large, so bright. If it is possible at all, come back to him, Mother, for the boy seems fading away.”
Unwilling to add to her mother’s anxieties, she had never before hinted at Eddie’s increasing weakness, always hoping some change of weather may improve his state. And Eddie has written such bright letters abroad that Mrs. Glyn has been sure her boy has grown better and stronger since she kissed his little face goodbye.
Amaranth feels now as if she could scarcely bear her brother out of her sight. She puts aside her work for a day, and nerves herself to go with him to Bryantwood. Fortunately, Susan’s sister lives some little distance from the Rectory, for she dreads to see Mr. Bigham or Ardyn, and it is a relief to hear that the latter is away from home, taking the duty of a former college friend.
Amaranth cannot trust her feelings if she approaches the old home, so Susan hires a pony-chaise and drives Eddie up after dinner, resolved that the boy’s heart shall be satisfied by looking again upon the scenes he loves.
Amaranth goes out sketching, and meets nobody she knows, save Dickey, who seeing her standing still and sad on the wooden bridge believes he looks upon a ghost, and takes to flight in the consciousness of absence two Sunday afternoons from Sunday school. Coming back to Brook Cottage for an early tea, Amaranth passes Matthew Gummer’s little residence, and is interested to notice that a wing has been built out, and Bluebell Cottage looks quite a genteel little villa.
“He must be prospering,” she thinks, “and he well deserves it. How charmingly the curtains are arranged, and I see he’s done up the front. It wanted a coat of paint so badly for many years. Why, there are the old couple in the porch. Time does seem to stand still with those dear old people.”
Amaranth has a weakness for old folks, and has always been accustomed to exchange a nod and smile with Matthew Gummer’s grandparents. Somebody has evidently stationed them under the roses to watch for their grandson’s return. Amaranth is used to their rambling style of conversation, but is somewhat startled when the old man greets her with the remark, “There’s a baby!”
“Grandfather’s hearty for his age,” says the old lady confidentially to Amaranth. She is a little his senior, but is convinced that she is twenty years younger, and has much tolerance for his white hairs and infirmity.
“The baby’s got a tooth,” continues grandfather, beckoning the visitor nearer. “Here he comes, here he comes, grandmother. I know his hat. Didn’t I see him first?”
Amaranth turns round bewildered, and sees Matthew Gummer waving a handkerchief in the distance. At the same time she becomes conscious through the window of a baby as like Matthew Gummer as can be expected at so tender an age, and her perplexity is increased when the infant is borne to the porch in the arms of Miss Rebecca Grimwood -- Miss Grimwood that was, but her matronly blushes and smiles make her young face quite attractive.
“Well now, Amaranth, this is a surprise! Yes, grandmother, you shall hold him -- isn't he a regular Gummer? Bless him! And the notice he takes is wonderful. Here comes Matthew down the lane. Will little Grimwood sit up and see dada then? Yes, Amaranth, we've been married about a year. This place sadly wanted somebody to look after it, and Matthew and I have seen a good bit of each other at Sunday school, and in the Clothing Club and the Temperance Society, and I'd long had a respect for him. Aunt Grimwood took to her bed when we broke it to her but she has paid me handsome my little property, and we've made quite a genteel place of it. Don't you think so, Amaranth?
“Aunt Grimwood said a lawyer’s clerk was such a dreadful comedown for one of our family; but what’s that, if only you’re fond of each other? And aunt’s been to see us lots of times, and she’s quite forgiven us since we’ve named the boy Grimwood. Matthew says we can call him Rummie for short, which sounds a deal more homely. But, dear me, how I do run on, and haven’t asked about yon, my dear, and you such a famous painter! Matthew was saying when baby gets a bit bigger he might sit to you for a picture. He’s quite a Cupid, the darling! Now, Amaranth, come right in and have some tea.”
Susan and Eddie drive up just then, and Matthew Gummer stands proud and happy at his gate. He invites them all to inspect little Grimwood, in whose facial contortions Eddie is profoundly interested. Congratulations are profuse and sincere. Amaranth has always liked Rebecca Grimwood a good deal better than her aunt, and she is glad to see the young couple so fond and happy. It is a pretty sight to watch them among the roses bending over the baby, with the old folks sitting by and nodding at the little calm eyed, wondering one, with beaming faces of encouragement.
Eddie falls asleep at Brook Cottage during tea, and sleeps all the way home in the train. The visit to The Bower was not such a delight to him as Susan anticipated. “It’s all different, somehow,” he says. “The lady there was kind, but she wasn’t like Mother. And in my nursery they were teaching fizz – something, and my tortoise hasn’t ever come to light. And father’s study didn’t look a bit messy, like it used. And I couldn’t see Dickey anywhere. It wasn’t like home, Amaranth. I’d rather be in London with you.”
“Ah,” says Susan, “‘taint the place, but the folks as makes our homes. And that’s why I think, Miss Amaranth, as heaven’ll seem so homelike, ‘cause our friends and relations is gone before. And best of all, there’s God our Heavenly Father as we loves the best.”
Amaranth makes no answer. The mention of God’s name awakes no music in her heart. Life is a void, she often says, and death is the end of all things. How can she surrender the child of her love to the silent, hopeless tomb? She looks out of the railway carriage window with trembling lips, pretending to admire the gorse commons past which they move, but seeing only their outside beauty, hearing no whisper of their testimony to the grace, the power of the Ruler of the seasons and the ages. “Earth’s crammed with heaven,” says Mrs. Browning, “And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees takes off his shoes.”
Could Amaranth but behold Him, she would no more call life a void; for every place to her loving, fearing heart would be as holy ground.
Next day the doctor sees Eddie, and orders him away to the sea. “Not too bracing a place,” he says, “but somewhere among the pines, such a place as Dirlsmere, now.”
Dirlsmere has been visited before by Eddie in company with his mother. It is hilly, but he talks of taking long airings in a Bath chair, of sitting among the pines, and of making his way somehow to the top of a high cliff where a seat is placed for the traveller to admire the blue waves far below, and the many-hued rocks and clustering trees, and a grand extent of coast.
“Our landlady’s son carried me up there before,” says Eddie; “but I was lighter then. I’m too heavy now, I think, to be carried up the hills.”
“The holiday will do you good, Amaranth,” says May Burr, seeing them off at Waterloo station. “You do not look really well, despite all your successes. How shall I thank you for the work you have put in my way? I am doing some watercolour river scenes for Mr. Acworthy now. Oh, Amaranth, how kind he is, and how clever. He is really a very good man.”
Amaranth smiles at her friend’s enthusiasm, but responds warmly as to Mr. Acworthy’s kindness. In the train she weaves a charming little romance concerning May, which, could May know it, would surprise and somewhat displease that matter-of-fact, hard-working young lady!
They reach Dirlsmere on Saturday evening, and the peaceful, deep blue waters of the bay give them both a sense of rest and joy. “I’m sure I shall get well here,” says Eddie. “See what a tea I’ve eaten! I’ll be able to go out in the morning. You know there’s a church just round the corner.”
Susan carries him to the church on Sunday morning, and lays him comfortably on a roomy seat in an old-fashioned pew. Amaranth would prefer to be on the beach, but Eddie has begged her to sit by him today, and she can refuse no wish of her brother’s. How strange it seems after so many months to hear the familiar prayers and responses again, and the hymn so well known once that trembles up to the ancient roof, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me.”
If all this be a delusion, there is something wonderfully sweet and calm and holy about it. Amaranth goes back in thought to the days when she sat beside her mother in Bryantwood Church, and when Ardyn sat opposite in the Rectory pew, and his voice floated clear and high in psalm and hymn. It does not startle her at first when his accents ring on her ear. It is not till she sees Eddie’s glad, excited face that she understands the first part of the service is over, and Ardyn Home, standing up in the old pulpit, is in very truth preaching to the people.
Amaranth has no ears at first for his words, though his text echoes in her heart, “Lead me in Thy truth.” She has never seen him robed before, nor watched the serious, pleading look of the young face that has grown so much deeper and more earnest in expression. Amaranth feels far, far removed from him as he preaches, although she understands he speaks the things he believes and knows. Well, maybe Ardyn is one of Heaven’s elected favourites, and she is one of those doomed to grope and wander in the outer darkness for ever.
But, presently, as she listens to his voice, she finds that he, too, has known the darkness, the valley of thick, gloomy shadow. He tells of spirit conflict, of foundations that seemed to tremble, of evil whisperings that would fain have rushed in like a flood but for the Father’s hand, the Father’s face, the rod and staff of the redeeming Lord. “To Him I clung,” said Ardyn, “to Him I cried, certain that my Maker and my Redeemer must be Love, whatever else was doubtful, crooked, or wrong. Even when Satan would fain have made me think myself forsaken, to Him I faltered whom I could not reach, the words of this hymn. ‘O Jesus! though Thou wilt not yet come in, Knock at my window as Thou passest by!’
“And to you, my hearers, who are seeking Him today in prayers and trembling, I declare, as His disciple, His ambassador, His child, they that come unto Him shall in no wise be cast out. You shall yet kneel at His feet, and be satisfied in Him; and find in the God of Love, the Life, the Truth, the Way.”
Ardyn has no knowledge of Amaranth among his audience, she and her companions slip quietly out of the church. Susan goes down to the shore to find seaweed for Eddie, while he lies by the lodging house window, watching the hills and the sapphire sky, and listening ~(~to the ever-sounding anthem of the waves.
Amaranth fetches, by Eddie’s desire, an old Bible picture book that Ardyn gave him long ago, and which he rummaged out of his cupboard yesterday while they were packing. He asks her to find his favourite picture wherein the “gentle Jesus” calls the children and takes them up in His arms. And as she turns the pages a paper slips out. It has some of the verses which, all his life, Ardyn has been wont to write, and which the Glyns were always coming upon in different books and drawers. His writing brings a quiver to her lips and she reads the young man’s lines with a yearning, softening heart, beginning to hunger and faint for the rest which the friend she loves has reached.
And dost Thou ask me, where is He,
Life of my life, Sun of my way?
Where is my God? His face I see
Around me, near me, all the day,
His power I know in every breath,
In every answered prayer and sigh;
In joy, in tears, in life, in death,
O Christ, for ever Thou art nigh,
O Saviour Christ! in Thee for aye
Am I not at the Father’s side?
'Where is thy God?' some, doubting, say --
Thy name I whisper, Crucified! “
“Home, Sweet Home!”
Eddie is too tired to go out again on the Sunday, and his sister stays indoors with him, half dreading, half hoping to see Ardyn pass the windows. But he is busy in the Sunday school, and the evening service is held at a chapel-of-ease away over the hills. She sees no trace of him, and on Monday the landlady’s son tells Eddie he has been “carting away the parson’s luggage for the early train, ‘cause the proper curate’s a-coming back to Dirlsmere today.”
Ardyn has been taking his friend’s duty in his absence. How strange that, all unconscious of her vicinity, he should thus have appealed to a soul that walks in darkness to do Christ’s will, and pray on for His revealing.
“The child looks better today,” say Susan and Amaranth every morning, and for a time Eddie is well enough to lie on the beach and toss pebbles for Tim to chase with barks of joy. But the third week of the stay at Dirlsmere there comes again the patient whisper that he is “tired,” and he shakes his curly head when the landlady’s sturdy son offers to carry him up the hill again.
“I can’t ever go so high again, Joe,” he says, nestling close to Amaranth. “Sis, isn’t it nearly time for Mother to get home?”
He is constantly talking of The Bower. Longing to rouse him to new interest and energy, Amaranth, who has lately sold some pictures very advantageously, puts herself in communication with Mr. Acworthy and asks if he would be disposed to sell her their old home, and let her pay him by instalments. She would be able to pay him a fair share of the purchase money at once.
Eddie is enraptured at Amaranth’s notion of buying The Bower, and hands her all his savings, to the amount of four shillings and ninepence, towards the completion of the bargain.
Mr. Acworthy answers the letter by calling in person. His suggestion is most friendly and generous. He tells Amaranth that the house is empty now, and she can have possession when she will. But he insists on the first instalment being a much smaller one than she suggested.
“You will need to buy furniture,” he reminds her, “for I believe all you had was sold when you left. You must keep some of your money for the furniture, you know.”
Amaranth feels quite conscious-stricken to think she could not bring herself to love one so warm-hearted and generous, but Mr. Acworthy does not look very miserable in his character of rejected lover. Towards the close of the interview, he scans the pattern of the carpet, and remarks, “I have a message for you, Miss Glyn, from your friend Miss Burr. She… she… will shortly change her name.”
“Oh, Mr. Acworthy, what a dear, sweet wife you have won.” Amaranth flushes up in her delight, picturing May as the mistress of the pretty Kensington home, and the benefactress still of the olive branches down in the country.
“Yes,” says Mr. Acworthy, “she is one in a thousand. As regards unity and tone in a landscape, I consider her perfection. And I think it is really time I settled in life, Miss Glyn. I feel convinced the married state must be the happiest.”
“Oh, I am sure of it!” says Amaranth, eagerly, enchanted on May’s account. “At least,” she adds, as an afterthought, “for other people. For myself, I prefer to be single. My art suffices me.”
The Gummers and Susan’s married sister work hard to get Amaranth’s furniture placed in The Bower. Amaranth has tried to get the same style of things as filled the rooms before, and Susan goes to Bryantwood to place the furniture as it was placed of old. The Bower seems to Amaranth almost painfully homelike when at last she and Eddie are under the old roof again. But her little brother does not share in the pangs that throb within his sister’s heart. Every nook, every corner reminds Amaranth of Ardyn, and she wanders about as one who longs for a vanished presence, while Eddie is transported with joy at discovering the long-buried tortoise, and at revisiting the pond where the familiar frogs disport themselves.
Dickey is re-employed, and carries Eddie pick-aback about the forest and garden. Susan returns with delight to her long lost scullery and washhouse. But the very recommencement of old ways and customs seems to show Amaranth more and more how much she has lost. Not only is she heart-hungry for Ardyn; not only does she miss her mother unspeakably; but here, in the old home, softer thoughts come to her of her poor father, and she often fancies wistfully she sees his white hair, his gentle face, and hears his kindly, loving voice.
What to her are these improved fortunes, if those she loves no longer tread the old paths by her side? Her earnings seem only valuable to her now as they provide comforts for Eddie, who, in the new pleasure of filling his father’s old study with specimens, has bidden goodbye at last to medical attendance.
“Well, my dear child, I am glad to see your face in Bryantwood again,” says Mr. Bigham, coming to call one day, and speaking with genuine heartiness. “The church and school have missed you, Amaranth; and we at the Rectory have missed you too. You will come and see Mrs. Bigham? You have had a true friend in Mrs. Bigham all along.”
“I am very much occupied just now,” says Amaranth, haughtily, convinced that the rector, now she has made her name, is willing to overlook the disgrace of the past. In this she is mistaken. He is glad to see the Glyns back at The Bower, but even as a famous artist he would rather the daughter of so grave a delinquent as Stephen Glyn had nothing to do with his nephew and curate.
The deceit of Stephen Glyn’s theft and cowardly flight have made a very disagreeable impression upon his mind. He thinks it is a good thing the father remains away, but long ago he promised Mrs. Glyn to assist in furthering her husband’s great book if possible, and as the opportunity has now come in his way he will keep his word.
“Have you the manuscript by you of A Scientists Dream?” he asks. “I have a notion that a friend of mine who has started a scientific magazine might be able to use it in instalments. Your father once met him at the Rectory, and they got on very well together. At any rate, I know he would look at it.”
“I will look for the manuscript another time,” says Amaranth coldly, not disposed to accept a favour from Mr. Bigham. She admits it is quite reasonable of him to object to anything beyond friendship between herself and Ardyn, but her woman’s heart has not yet quite forgiven him for such objections.
“Yes, do,” he says cordially, “and we will see what can be done. It would be famous news for your poor mother that the book had made any sort of success.”
Next morning, while painting in her studio, Amaranth hears gleeful voices in the garden below, and sees Ardyn Home putting little Tim through some of his bygone tricks, greatly to the delight of Tim’s master.
“Hello, Sis,” calls Eddie up to her open window, “here’s Ardyn. Come down and give him some bread and jam.”
“I must apologize for this intrusion, Miss Glyn,” says Ardyn quietly, as he lifts his hat, when after a hesitant pause she joins the two below, “but I was rowing past in the river just now, and Eddie and Dick were on the bank. Eddie wished to show me his specimens, and would take no refusal. How warm it is. This garden is always so pleasant and shady. Thanks, Eddie, old man, but I won’t trouble you for the bread and jam. I must row back now.”
“Oh, but you must see my slugs and my beetles in the study,” cries Eddie; and Amaranth adds, trying to speak unconcernedly, “Perhaps you will kindly take charge of my father’s book for the rector. I have now found the manuscript, but I fear the writing is almost illegible.”
“Oh, I can re-copy some. I am used to Mr. Glyn’s writing, and I always believed in his book. It is bound to succeed some day,” says Ardyn, who has never ceased to look out in all directions for me chance of pushing A Scientist’s Dream and has perseveringly reminded his uncle of his promise of help.
He speaks cordially enough, but his manner is changed. Amaranth Glyn, the great artist, growing rich and famous, can look far beyond a country rate, he argues to himself, and he would be loath to stand in the way of her prospects by any persistent sentimentality. He leaves her, rather perturbed in mind. Of course, she never expected him to greet her lovingly as in former days, but he might have been just a little warmer in his inner! But, doubtless, he is now engaged to be married. How foolish of her to imagine that old memories would stand in the way of an eligible union! She wishes she had congratulated him -- no doubt it is best for him to form a happy engagement, and forget all about their past boy-and-girl ideas.
As time goes on, she brings herself to call one afternoon on Mrs. Bigham, and loving memories seem to soften and bless her as she rests anew by the couch, and looks on the bright, fragrant flowers all about the room.
"Oh, Amaranth," says the rector's wife, "how good God is -- how sure, how strong is our Father's hand to comfort and help and gladden us! A while ago, things seemed so dark for you and yours. Now you are at home again, and able to help your dear ones and to bless the world by your marvellous gift, and doubtless ere long your dear parents will be back with you in quiet happiness again. My husband often says he wishes he had Mr. Glyn at the church once more. You must not judge Mr. Bigham, dear. His sense of justice is very acute, but he is feeling very much all the same for your poor father, and for all you have gone through, and I have been just wearying for you, my little maid, and praying for you all the time.”
Amaranth returns her kiss with dewy eyes, and presently is rapturously greeted by the old servants, who have known her for long years, and who tell her they have talked of “this happy moment” many times. And the old white cat comes and rubs up against her in recognition, and not a cold word or look disturbs her. But she gets no glimpse of Ardyn, and she has not summoned courage to ascertain if his betrothed exists, and what may be her name.
Among the Lilies
Amaranth walks back slowly from the Rectory, her heart warmed by Mrs. Bigham’s tenderness, cheered by the welcome of the old Rectory servants. Even her artistic successes have not made her as glad as their words of love and remembrance. All this time she has imagined herself looked upon as a sort of social outlaw, and she begins to see that in some cases at least she has made a mistake.
And if she has erred as to human feelings, if the tender heart of the rector’s wife has never ceased to yearn for her, if the good women and the old gardener there have made her the subject of affectionate converse, and if the rector himself is so much less bitter and stern towards her poor father than she has imagined, may she not likewise have made a vaster, deeper mistake as to the thoughts of the Lord of all concerning her life?
What if He has been seeking her all along, seeking to draw her into a fuller, calmer trust, while she has drawn back from Him in doubt, in fretting, in faithless fear? What if the Lord’s thoughts towards her have been infinite mercy, unbounded compassion, instead of the purposeless judgments which in her folly she has attributed to God?
Her heart is alive with such thoughts as these as she nears The Bower, and sees Eddie resting in the porch, with a quiet, far-away, peaceful look in his bright blue eyes. For a moment he does not see her. He looks so thin, so white, so insubstantial almost, that she hurries towards him half-frightened, and lifts him up to carry him in.
“Sis,” says he wistfully, “isn’t it time for Mother to come home? I dreamt last night she was here again. Sis, I’ve kept on praying for Mother to come home. Don’t you think she’ll come before….”
“She might come any day now, my pet,” says Amaranth, hastily. She leaves him for a moment to bid Dickey fetch the doctor, for to her ears his speech seem somehow slower, more laboured, and his breathing heavy and irregular. “Eddie, dearest,” she says, “I think you must have caught a fresh cold. I think you had better have a poultice.”
“Why, sister, I’m quite well. I’m not in any pain now at all. I’ve had a jolly time, getting my museum tidy. I’ve printed a lot of cards to explain to Father what my specimens mean. Dickey told me how to spell the words; but I wish you’d come and look, because he has not had much education. He’s a very poor scholar, so I wish you would look over the cards.”
Amaranth carries him to Mr. Glyn’s study, which her brother has filled with specimens of stones, bark, wild flowers, insects, butterflies, slugs, leaves, and other items of nature. She has given him a cabinet, which he is always tidying and re-arranging, leaving countless messages and directions concerning the specimens for Father. It never seems to occur to Eddie that he will see Mr. Glyn himself, but his patient face grows thinner day by day looking out for Mother.
"Mr. Bigham's been here, Sis," he says, tenderly handling his pet toad, "and I told him I'd been praying Jesus to let Mother come, and Mr. Bigham was ever so kind. He took me on his lap and said I needn't be afraid, for there's none kinder than the Lord Jesus Christ, and He listens when children pray. Mr. Bigham is sure Mother will come; but oh, Sis, she's long -- very long."
“But she’ll come at last, my Eddie,” says Amaranth, turning her head to hide her tears. “Be sure she will come at last. She loves you too well not to come.”
Eddie seems in no pain, but he is restless and excited. When he goes to bed, he lies with his blue eyes wide open, and complains that he cannot sleep. The doctor sends him medicine, and speaks of a want of vitality, and a little heart weakness, but is hopeful and encouraging, and makes Eddie laugh by strange tales about his parrot, and the awe with which its conversational power is regarded by his cats and dogs.
Susan and Amaranth are with Eddie about ten, hearing every now and then the cry in his restless dreams of “Mother,” when they hear downstairs a stifled exclamation from Dickey, and the next moment another watcher is kneeling beside the little bed.
“Mother, Mother!” says Eddie, nestling up to her restfully, half-dreaming still, with a happy smile, “Sis said you’d come. You love me so much, she said, you couldn’t stay away!”
Mrs. Glyn’s tears are falling fast, but she struggles to repress them. Holding one of the boy’s thin hands she clasps Amaranth in the embrace for which the girl has yearned in vain so long.
“Oh, my darling mother!” cries Amaranth, clinging to her as if she fears this is only a vision. “How changed you look, how weary, how tired, how thin! And your hair is turning grey, my precious mother. But never mind, I can earn money for you now. And I have such a wonderful little studio here, Mother, and I can earn money for us all. You shall never know worry and anxiety again. What a selfish daughter I was in the past to you, Mother; but now it is my turn to work, and you shall rest. Everything will be right now that you have come. Eddie will get quite strong now you are here, Mother -- won't he, Susan?"
But Susan has already disappeared in search of food for the traveller. Mrs. Glyn sits down beside Eddie’s bed, and blesses and praises Amaranth for her ministerings to the child, and all her hard, loving work. The mother’s eyes read in Amaranth’s face a depth, a nobility of which the days of yore knew nothing. Whatever else may have been wrought by the troubles, it is plain enough that the idolatry of self is past and ended for ever.
“Mother,” says Amaranth, removing her cloak and caressing the gentle hands, “you will stay here now. The Bower is our own, mother, and Eddie is sure to get well under your nursing. Oh, we shall be so happy together, if only you will stay with us. Let father come too -- poor father," she adds softly. "He will be so happy here in the woods and in the study. No one will worry him, or remind him of the trouble. Why has not Father come too?"
“He is coming, Amaranth,” says Mrs. Glyn. “I could not have left him otherwise. He is very feeble, and the doctors there would not let him start with me. But to see Eddie again, he resolved, as soon as your warning letter came, to bear the pain of a return to old scenes in England. Directly he is fit to travel he will start for home. He sold his book on the Trapichero to an American firm, and they paid him well, so our travelling expenses have been thus provided. Yes, Father will be here in a few weeks, I hope, and we must all try to protect him from painful memories and unfriendly insinuations.”
“Oh, Mother dear, people are far kinder than I expected. I think time is wearing away their indignation, and they are remembering Father’s gentleness now, and his good-natured ways to all. Poor Father, I wish I had written to him sometimes, if only I had known your address. He was always so good to me.”
“The tortoise came to life, Mother,” says Eddie, from the bed.
They go to him with a laugh, and he seems in such joyous spirits, sitting up in his flannel jacket to share Mrs. Glyn’s supper, that Susan confides to Amaranth she has a presentiment he will grow strong and bonny yet. And Amaranth goes to her rest happier than she has felt for many a long month, with her mother’s fond kiss warm upon her lips.
Next day Eddie eats a good breakfast in bed, and gets up later on to assist at the wonders of Mrs. Glyn’s unpacking, for she has brought him all sorts of marvels from across the seas. Tim pokes his little nose forward to examine one thing after another, while Eddie, in the midst of transports of delight, puts down pressed flower or leaf or wondrous thing, and gazes into his mother’s face as if in finding her, his little heart is satisfied.
In the afternoon the doctor drives Eddie out to see his parrot, and what with the fresh air and the excitement and the restlessness of the previous night, Eddie seems tired and sleepy on his return, and curls up on the warm grass in the garden, his thin hands full of white lilies from the doctor’s flowerbeds.
He has brought them home for “Mother,” and soon she will come to him, but Amaranth explains Mr. Bigham is with her now, telling her that the first instalment of Mr. Glyn’s book is published, and that the press is waxing quite excited about it. Some of Mr. Glyn’s theories are new and startling, and all are interesting and worthy of note. The public, far from avoiding the subject as dry, which has been feared in the past, has warmly welcomed A Scientist’s Dream and Mr. Bigham seems inclined to think it will be the making of his friend’s Magazine.
“I fear that Mr. Glyn’s cramped, almost illegible handwriting,” says the rector, “has been against him. It wanted courage and energy to attempt to master his pages. Ardyn copied many of them himself before we sent the manuscript off, and now the popular verdict is most encouraging. Amaranth does not any longer stand alone in your family as wearing the laurels. Let us hope, dear madam, a brighter, fairer future will succeed the mental sufferings you tell me Mr. Glyn has undergone abroad.”
Much of this good news Amaranth imparts to Eddie, and also the fact that the publishers have sent Mrs. Glyn a handsome cheque on account. The little boy listens and smiles, and drops the clustering lilies, and holds Tim tightly in his arms, but he makes no answer to his sister. As he lies there on the grass, looking up to the sky, his thoughts seem far away.
Presently Amaranth, at work in the summerhouse, hears his voice softly floating to her across the flowers, in one of the simple hymns he learnt in his class at Sunday school:
“I think, when I read that sweet story of old,
When Jesus was here among men,
How He called little children like lambs to His fold,
I should like to have been with Him then.
I wish that His hands had been placed on my head,
That His arms had been thrown around me;
And that I might have seen His kind look when He said,
‘Let the little ones come unto Me!’”
Eddie’s voice dies away, and a great longing, such as she has never known before, comes to his sister’s heart to pray. Her life seems so full, what with her professional work, her joy in the family reunion, her longing for Ardyn, her anxiety for Eddie, that as the little voice sings of Him who to the helpless held out arms of rest, she drops her sewing, and the tears which are as the breaking of the rock cry out to Him in a silent prayer. She has no power for words, but in those tears she stretches out her helpless hands to the all-forgiving, all-strong, all-loving Judge and Father of us all.
“Hush, do not wake him, Mother dear,” she says, softly, as Mrs. Glyn comes down the garden to look for her boy. “He was so restless last night, this sleep will do him good.”
Together they watch the quiet, sunny head, the boyish arms flung round the dog, the tame toad peeping snugly out from the clusters of silvery lilies. Then the mother goes suddenly nearer with a hasty step, and bends down and touches his brow.
“Eddie, Eddie, my sweet, my child!”
Amaranth hears the cry, and sees the little dog lifted away by Mrs. Glyn, struggling to lick the boy’s hands with a bewildered moan. “Let me carry him, Mother,” says Amaranth, taking up the little form, so frail, so light. “Is he ill? Is he worse?”
But the child makes no movement, no tremble of this mortal, feeble life. Amaranth carries him to his bed, and the doctor is soon brought by the weeping Dickey. Then they lay the lilies on the quiet breast, and kiss the little brow, and know that through all eternity the Saviour’s arms are round their little Eddie.
How can they sorrow for him, the weak made strong, the frail made whole, the Christ-like taken to be with his Lord? It does not seem like death, this calm, beautiful, smiling rest. Kneeling beside her little brother, the bands of ice seem broken from Amaranth’s heart. Though she seems as yet unable to fashion a prayer with the freedom of old, she falters to the Christ who has called the little child unto Him, and says, “My Lord and my God!”
Miss Grimwood’s Peril
Three months have passed since mother and daughter followed their beloved one to the churchyard, since the rector spoke the words of hope, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” Quiet months these have been at The Bower, filled for Amaranth, not only with arduous work, but with humble learning of Him who to all of us, however circumstanced, must be the beginning and the end of our aspirations unto good.
The rector’s sermons help her as well as Ardyn’s. In the former, the justice of God is set forth perhaps pre-eminently; in the latter, His boundless, deathless love; and to such a God, Saviour as well as Judge, Amaranth learns to leave her body, mind, and soul, now and in the vast To Be. Often, with Eddie’s little New Testament in her pocket, she steals to his quiet resting-place, where the grasses are beginning to creep up gently around. There she reads and studies the teachings of Christ, and finds Him sufficient for all her needs, her cares, her difficulties. At last she is able from her heart to say, notwithstanding all her doubts, the darkness, the conflicts of the past, “Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.”
After Eddie’s death, Mrs. Glyn suffers much from weakness. Susan and Amaranth nurse her devotedly, feeling as if they could not do enough for the faithful one who has crossed the sea, from her husband’s side, to hold her boy in such a sweet, though such a brief embrace.
“I shall see my child again,” says the bereaved mother often, with a brightening face. “God would not take His gifts away. My boy awaits me, healed and glorified, in the Father’s House.”
Mrs. Glyn begins to show visible improvement when she knows for a certainty that her husband is well enough to start for England. He has been ill of fever, and has been nursed by the adventurous Allaga, but now he is able to start on his homeward voyage, and his wife begins to count the days till she sees him.
One day Miss Jane Grimwood, while resting in the forest, lays her ungloved hand on what she imagines to be a fallen branch, and shrieks to find the supposed bough move, and to understand that she has been holding a snake. Miss Grimwood becomes rigid with fear, and sinks on the ground in a condition which greatly alarms her companion, Mrs. Matthew Gummer. There is no water nearer than the river, and she wonders how she can leave her aunt in a fit.
“Rebecca, Rebecca!” says Miss Grimwood, in expiring tones, “I have been bitten by a snake. Mr. Fleming has my will. I leave all to little Grimwood. Teach him his catechism.”
“Oh, aunt,” sobs Rebecca, “do not speak thus. Surely the poison can be extracted. Let me fetch somebody. Oh, dearest aunt, bear up, I implore you.’”
Miss Grimwood has gone into violent hysterics. Rebecca sees the snake slithering near her again, and is in despair, for she is almost as frightened, and knows not what to do. Just then with unspeakable relief she sees an old man approaching, with a younger one dressed in somewhat un-English style. Rebecca thinks he is Spanish, and the sight of anyone is welcome in such extremity.
She briefly explains the situation, and Miss Grimwood faintly opens her eyes to request that someone will bury her with her “cousin Mary Jane.”
“But this snake is not venomous,” says the old man with the white head and bowed gentle face. “There is no poison here. Look, I take it up fearlessly. This is utterly harmless, and I assure you that you are unhurt, Miss Grimwood.”
“Stephen Glyn! You have saved my life. But are you sure it is really harmless?” cries Miss Grimwood, forgetting her panic, and jumping up to witness him fearlessly handle the reptile. “What a blessing you know all about such creatures! I assure you I never had such a shock to my nerves, at least, not since Matthew Gummer proposed to Rebecca. Mr. Glyn knows all about reptiles, Rebecca. We can trust his word. How providential that you were passing, Stephen Glyn! And who is this? “
“This is Carlo Allaga, a friend of mine, who has undergone many adventures and hair-breadth escapes,” says Mr. Glyn, with a smile. “He has nursed me through a serious illness, and not being very strong himself just now, I have persuaded him to take rest and change in this beautiful reviving air.”
Allaga does not explain that Mr. Glyn seemed to him too nervous to travel alone, or that he has another motive yet in this visit to a hitherto unknown land.
“Permit me, my benighted friend,” says Miss Grimwood, pulling out a tract entitled To the Heathen. Allaga is a Christian and a Protestant; but Miss Grimwood, regarding his picturesque hat and vest, decides he worships wood and stone, and he accepts her gift politely.
“Well, Miss Amaranth, the impudence of that furriner!” says Susan, when made aware of Allaga’s arrival.
“Why, Susan,” says Amaranth, “I think he is most courteous, and it was very good of him to accompany Father; and really he is quite good-looking.”
But all that Susan will utter on the subject is “The impudence of that furriner!” She tells him not to come near her kitchen; and when he insists on eating his meals there, she devotes her conversation to Dickey, and quite flatters the boy by agreeing with his opinions in preference to Allaga’s.
When Amaranth meets her father first, he is in his study, turning over with trembling fingers the cards little Eddie has written for his benefit. Mrs. Glyn is at his side. She has told him of the success of A Scientist’s Dream, of Amaranth’s fame and progress as an artist, but just now he does not seem to heed. He sits among the specimens, and Tim and the toad and the tortoise and the canary are all around him. He looks so worn, so old, so grey-faced, that Amaranth’s heart smites her for her coldness towards him, as she remembers his years of love and patience with her.
"Father!" she cries, "kiss me -- forgive me -- I have been a wicked daughter to you; but you know I love you dearly."
He takes her in his arms, and she kisses him for herself and for her brother taken from their midst.
“It is good to come home,” says Stephen Glyn tremblingly, looking from his wife to his daughter.
That night, after his long, toilsome wanderings, Stephen Glyn once more lies down to rest in the room he occupied for so long. The last time he slept there was the night when the bag of gold hung behind in his coat in the hall. As he dozes off into deep, heavy slumber at last, it is preceded by restless memories, bewildered recollections, troublesome thoughts.
Dickey sleeps in a little room overlooking the garden, and about two in the morning he arms himself with a poker, for he feels sure there are burglars in the garden. He hears a quiet, stealthy tread, and going out into the hall he is dismayed to feel a current of cold air. Evidently the back door is standing open.
Dickey has read many exciting tales of single-handed encounters with burglars, but his teeth begin to chatter a little tonight as he hurriedly steals to Allaga’s chamber, and explains to him the situation.
“Are you sure they are thieves?” asks Allaga. “The signor walks in his sleep, you know. He has often done it in Cama, and he did it once on board the ship. Let us follow him, but do not startle him.”
Dickey and Allaga steal downstairs, and out of the garden door.
“Yes, it is the signor,” says Allaga, seeing Mr. Glyn’s long dressing gown moving in the moonlight. “It is well he stayed to put that on.”
“Is he a-going to drown himself in the river?” says Dickey, frightened. “Or is he going after frogs? There’s a lot down by the water, but he’ll tumble in for sure in the dark.”
Mr. Glyn, however, pauses before he reaches the river, and turns aside into Amaranth’s summerhouse, and to their surprise begins to work away at the flooring. One of the planks is a little loose, and after some effort he pulls it up, takes something out, and carefully replaces it. He then returns to the house, holding a small bag tightly in his hand, goes to a cupboard in his study, and locks the bag inside. Then he shuts the garden door, draws the bolts, and goes quietly away to bed.
Allaga shakes his head, unable to fathom Mr. Glyn’s strange movements. He has held his hand over Dickey’s mouth to repress the boy’s excitement, but now Dickey bursts out, half sobbing, “If I don’t believe as that’s the very bag they’ve kicked up the shine about! Bless me if master didn’t hide it away himself the last night he slept here at The Bower, and tonight he’s thought of a safer place for the money. You go back to bed, Mr. Allaga, while I sits here by this here cupboard. I’ll guard this here bag of money till the morning, for I believe as master’s good name is a-going to get righted after all!”
Chapter 15 (Last chapter)
When Susan comes downstairs to open the house next morning, she finds Dickey wide awake, seated in front of the cupboard. As a rule he is somewhat prone to “a little more sleep and a little more slumber,” and Susan congratulates herself that her many admonitions have taken effect and that he has turned over a new leaf, and got the knives and boots finished early. But when she understands his news, she is as excited as Dickey.
Mrs. Glyn, coming down later, finds quite a group around the cupboard that Mr. Glyn locked in his sleep. The key has previously been in the lock, but Mrs. Glyn fetches it softly from her husband’s dressing gown pocket, reporting that he is fast asleep.
“How strange that such an idea occurred to none of us!” she says. “I’ve never known him walk in his sleep before, and I thought the habit commenced abroad. But doubtless his mind was full of the bag of money that night as he slept, and he puzzled himself to find a safe place for it, till he thought of taking up a plank in the summerhouse. Can’t you remember, Amaranth, one of our kittens got under the summerhouse boards once, and Father released her by taking up a plank? I suppose the incident remained in his mind. It is my opinion that now this lost money is found he will never walk in his sleep again.”
And Mrs. Glyn is right. It is probable that in all his restless nocturnal wandering her husband has been vaguely searching for the money; and on the night that he rested back in the house and bedroom familiar to him so long, the feeling of that unfortunate night returned to him, and he was able to put his hand once more upon the hidden bag. Many know that on lying down to rest on our familiar pillow, vanished dreams, or the memory of them, will sometimes float back to us. In some such way Stephen Glyn has been able to recall at last the long-forgotten hiding place.
The tale soon spreads over Bryantwood. Dickey’s tongue is as good as the telegraph, and many call to see the bag, to gaze at the plank, and to express their congratulations and sympathy, and likewise in many cases their contrition for a too hasty judgment.
“A most superior man is Stephen Glyn,” decides Miss Grimwood, ever since the incident of her recovery from hysteria. “His knowledge of the natural world is marvellous and most useful, and it is said he is quite making a name as a writer.”
Miss Grimwood leads Bryantwood opinion in a great measure, and the Glyns become the most popular family in the neighbourhood. Stephen Glyn looks years younger since his name is cleared. He holds his head erect, and brightens up. He seems to have found fresh interests in life when he is offered the professor’s chair in natural history at an important college a short distance from Bryantwood.
Mr. Bigham guesses from where comes a generous gift for the organ of Forest Moor Church; and when the organ is first played and Stephen Glyn bows his head in humble adoration by the door, the rector meets him before he leaves, and holds his hand, and falters that he has been too quick of judgment, too ready to condemn.
"Thank Heaven," says the rector, softly, "there is a judgment higher than man's -- the one judgment as kind as wise, that never makes mistakes, that shall deal with each one of us, friend, at the last."
They leave Forest Moor Church arm in arm, truer friends than they ever expected to be on earth. Stephen Glyn goes his way, and does not pause till he reaches a little grave -- a grave where Tim is lying in the sunlight -- and there the last voluntary that pealed from the organ seems to linger in echoes yet: "And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain."
Christmas time is drawing near. The village shops are beginning to set forth raisins, and currants, and candied peel more lavishly than is their wont, and bonbons and toys and appropriate cards make the High Street look quite festive.
Amaranth has been hard at work for a winter exhibition in London, and her mother bids her now take her rest with a contented mind, for the critics say she has surpassed herself, and in her picture, “Suspense” there is many a moving touch of the girl’s own state of mind just now.
Before Mr. Glyn’s return, Ardyn Home left Bryantwood to assist a chaplain on the Continent. He told his uncle he felt he needed change, and Mr. and Mrs. Bigham agreed that he had evidently suffered in mind through seeing and meeting Amaranth once more about the neighbourhood. Since the discovery of the money, Amaranth has half expected some message of gladness and sympathy, if not of love. But Ardyn hears more and more of her artistic greatness, and a mistaken sense of pride is keeping him silent.
Amaranth decides Ardyn has found consolation in the arms of another, and tries, with very poor success, to forget the love of her life.
One afternoon, in the week preceding Christmas, Amaranth strolls down her garden in rather a melancholy mood. The sky is cold and grey, and nature, to the casual observer, seems perhaps a little depressing. But the sun is making a deep red gleam on high, and the mosses are bright and silvery; the seeds lie sleeping, covered closely, safely.
Amaranth is wrapped in a fleecy white shawl and the air brings a healthy colour to her cheeks. She bends down to gather a cluster of the starry Christmas roses, and starts up with a sudden, amazed exclamation, as Ardyn Home, bronzed, more manly-looking than of yore, stands before her. He has found the little gate leading to the forest standing open, and catching a glimpse of her dress down the path an irresistible impulse has drawn him to her side.
Now he is here he does not seem to find conversation easy. Amaranth does not like to ask, “Have you heard the bag of money is found?” for he may think she intends to hint that she is free to accept his approaches. She puzzles over what to say, and finally stammers, “Christmas will soon be here.”
“Yes,” assents Ardyn, “next Wednesday. It is very seasonable weather.”
“Father and Mother are out,” says Amaranth. “They will be in after three. They have gone to get Susan a wedding present.”
Ardyn looks so aghast that Amaranth cannot help laughing. “Yes, why shouldn’t Susan get married if she likes?”
“Why, indeed?” says Ardyn, with so deep a sigh that his companion hurriedly continues the conversation.
“She’s going to marry young Allaga. He’s half Spanish, half American, and came over to England with Father. He’s going back to some employment connected with mining, and Susan says if she’s not there he won’t know how to take care of himself. It seems he took a great fancy to Susan abroad, and came over with Father with the intention of marrying her. She is a little his senior, but they seem very fond of each other.”
“Marriages seem quite the fashion, Miss Glyn,” says Ardyn, beginning to perceive that somehow or other Amaranth is unable to meet his eyes. “I saw in the paper today that the lord of the manor here, Mr. Acworthy, has taken to himself a wife.”
“Yes, a friend of mine,” says Amaranth, with interest. “I had their cake this morning. All her sisters were bridesmaids, and her brothers were pages. It went off very well, and he has the best wife in the world, or one of them.”
“I suppose,” says Ardyn, casually, “we shall soon be called upon to congratulate you, Miss Glyn. I hear you see a good deal of society.”
“Oh,” says Amaranth, decisively, “I think it is quite a mistake for an artist to marry. I am wedded to my work. I have resolved always to lead a single life. Doubtless you have some interesting news to tell us, though. Is it a continental lady, Mr. Home, or is she English? “
He is silent, pulling at the evergreens rather savagely. Amaranth fears he shrinks from giving her pain, and hastens to reassure him.
“Oh, of course we all knew you would be sure to form some attachment at Cannes. No doubt she will be quite an acquisition to Bryantwood circles. Is she tall or short? Musical, of course. Blonde or brunette? I assure you I congratulate you most”
Here Amaranth comes to a full stop, for Ardyn has made a step forward. He takes her hands in his, and there they stay tremblingly, and the tears rush to her eyes as he speaks her name.
“Amaranth, there is no continental lady in the case. I believe you know that very well. It was love for you drove me from Bryantwood, for I feel you are above me now in your genius and fame. It is love for you that brings me back, for I have hungered to see your face. You will make some brilliant match, and be a queen in society. And I, who loved you in my boyhood, will pray for you and bless you still. Now I have looked upon you again, my dearest, I am content. Say, ‘God bless you, Ardyn,’ as you often said of old, and let the past be buried between us. After this we are only friends.”
“I shall make no brilliant match,” stammers Amaranth. “I am wedded to my art. Oh, Ardyn, how could you stay away so long?”
She bursts into tears and creeps into his arms, and he somehow forgets her great fame and her genius, and with a flush and a tremble he bows his face to hers, and takes her home to his heart, drawn close for evermore amid the shining ways of Amaranth’s Garden.
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Four short books of help in the Christian life:
So, What Is a Christian? An introduction to a personal faith. Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9927642-2-7, eBook ISBN: 978-0-9933941-2-6
Starting Out -- help for new Christians of all ages. Paperback ISBN 978-1-4839-622-0-7, eBook ISBN: 978-0-9933941-0-2
Help! -- Explores some problems we can encounter with our faith. Paperback ISBN 978-0-9927642-2-7, eBook ISBN: 978-0-9933941-1-9
Running Through the Bible — a simple understanding of what’s in the Bible — Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9927642-6-5, eBook ISBN: 978-0-9933941-3-3
Bible Words of Peace and Comfort
There may come a time in our lives when we want to concentrate on God’s many promises of peace and comfort. The Bible readings in this book are for people who need to know what it means to be held securely in the Lord’s loving arms.
Rather than selecting single verses here and there, each reading in this book is a run of several verses. This gives a much better picture of the whole passage in which a favourite verse may be found.
As well as being for personal use, these readings are intended for sharing with anyone in special need, to help them draw comfort from the reading and prayer for that date. Bible reading and prayer are the two most important ways of getting to know and trust Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
The reference to the verses for the day are given, for you to look up and read in your preferred Bible translation.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9933941-4-0
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9932760-7-1
116 pages 5×7.8 inches
A Previously Unpublished Book
J Stafford Wright
Foreword by J I Packer
“I believe in … Jesus Christ … born of the Virgin Mary.” A beautiful stained glass image, or a medical reality? This is the choice facing Christians today. Can we truly believe that two thousand years ago a young woman, a virgin named Mary, gave birth to the Son of God? The answer is simple: we can.
The author says, “In these days many Christians want some sensible assurance that their faith makes sense, and in this book I want to show that it does.”
In this uplifting book from a previously unpublished and recently discovered manuscript, J Stafford Wright investigates the reality of the incarnation, looks at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and helps the reader understand more of the Trinity and the certainty of eternal life in heaven.
This book was written shortly before the author’s death in 1985. The Simplicity of the Incarnation is published for the first time, unedited, from his final draft.
eBook ISBN 13: 978-0-9932760-5-7
Paperback ISBN: 9-780-9525-9563-2
160 pages 5.25 × 8 inches
Available from bookstores and major internet sellers
An Unforgettable A-Z of Who is Who in the Bible
In a fascinating look at real people, J Stafford Wright shows his love and scholarly knowledge of the Bible as he brings the characters from its pages to life in a memorable way.
Read this book through from A to Z, like any other title
Dip in and discover who was who in personal Bible study
Check the names when preparing a talk or sermon
The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly – no one is spared. This is a book for everyone who wants to get to grips with the reality that is in the pages of the Bible, the Word of God.
With the names arranged in alphabetical order, the Old and New Testament characters are clearly identified so that the reader is able to explore either the Old or New Testament people on the first reading, and the other Testament on the second.
Those wanting to become more familiar with the Bible will find this is a great introduction to the people inhabiting the best selling book in the world, and those who can quote chapter and verse will find everyone suddenly becomes much more real – because these people are real. This is a book to keep handy and refer to frequently while reading the Bible.
“For students of my generation the name Stafford Wright was associated with the spiritual giants of his generation. Scholarship and integrity were the hallmarks of his biblical teaching. He taught us the faith and inspired our discipleship of Christ. To God be the Glory.” The Rt. Rev. James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool
This is a lively, well-informed study of some great Bible characters. Professor Gordon Wenham MA PhD. Tutor in Old Testament at Trinity College Bristol and Emeritus Professor of Old Testament at the University of Gloucestershire.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9932760-7-1
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-5-6
314 pages 6×9 inches
Note: This book is not available in all eBook formats
Christians and the Supernatural
J Stafford Wright
There is an increasing interest and fascination in the paranormal today. To counteract this, it is important for Christians to have a good understanding of how God sometimes acts in mysterious ways, and be able to recognize how he can use our untapped gifts and abilities in his service. We also need to understand how the enemy can tempt us to misuse these gifts and abilities, just as Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.
In this single volume of his two previously published books on the occult and the supernatural (Understanding the Supernatural and Our Mysterious God) J Stafford Wright examines some of the mysterious events we find in the Bible and in our own lives. Far from dismissing the recorded biblical miracles as folk tales, he is convinced that they happened in the way described, and explains why we can accept them as credible.
The writer says: When God the Holy Spirit dwells within the human spirit, he uses the mental and physical abilities which make up a total human being . . . The whole purpose of this book is to show that the Bible does make sense.
And this warning: The Bible, claiming to speak as the revelation of God, and knowing man’s weakness for substitute religious experiences, bans those avenues into the occult that at the very least are blind alleys that obscure the way to God, and at worst are roads to destruction.
eBook ISBN 13: 978-0-9932760-4-0
Paperback ISBN 13: 9-780-9525-9564-9
222 pages 5.25 × 8 inches
Available from bookstores and major internet sellers
His Own Story
Foreword by J. Stafford Wright
Howell Harris was brought up to regard the Nonconformists as “a perverted and dangerously erroneous set of people.” Hardly a promising start for a man who was to play a major role in the Welsh Revival. Yet in these extracts from his writings and diaries we can read the thoughts of Howell Harris before, during and after his own conversion.
We can see God breaking through the barriers separating "church and chapel", and discover Christians of different denominations preparing the country for revival. Wesley, Whitefield, Harris. These great 18th century preachers worked both independently and together to preach the Living Gospel. This book is a vivid first-hand account of the joys, hardships and struggles of one of these men -- Howell Harris (1714-1773).
From the Streets of London
to the Streets of Gold
The Life Story of
Brother Clifford Edwards
A True Story of Love
Brother Clifford Edwards
(A printed copy is available directly from Brother Clifford)
This is the personal story of Clifford Edwards, affectionately known as Brother Clifford by his many friends. Going from fame to poverty, he was sleeping on the streets of London with the homeless for twenty years, until Jesus rescued him and gave him an amazing mission in life. Brother Clifford tells his true story here in the third person, giving the glory to Jesus.
Seven Steps to
Walking in Victory
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9957594-3-5
Also available as a booklet
How is your Christian life going? Finding it hard and not sure why? Wherever you might be, Seven Steps to Walking in Victory is a very short book to help you see where you are in the Christian life, and help you keep on the right path to the victory that comes through walking closely with Jesus — to live the Christian life you always wanted to live!
The Gospel of John
Published to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the Authorized King James Version of the Bible, this book contains the full text of Bagster’s assembled work for the Gospel of John. On each page in parallel columns are the words of the six most important translations of the New Testament into English, made between 1380 and 1611. Below the English is the original Greek text after Scholz.
To enhance the reading experience, there is an introduction telling how we got our English Bibles, with significant pages from early Bibles shown at the end of the book.
Here is an opportunity to read English that once split the Church by giving ordinary people the power to discover God’s word for themselves. Now you can step back in time and discover those words and spellings for yourself, as they first appeared hundreds of years ago.
Wyclif 1380, Tyndale 1534, Cranmer 1539, Geneva 1557,
Douay Rheims 1582, Authorized (KJV) 1611.
[_ English Hexapla -- The Gospel of John _]
Published by White Tree Publishing
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-1-8
Size 7.5 × 9.7 inches paperback
Not available as an eBook
Church Life and Church People
No, not a children’s book! An affectionate, optimistic look at church life involving, as it happens, Roddy and his friends who live in a small town. Problems and opportunities related to change and outreach are not, of course, unique to their church!
Maybe you know Miss Prickly-Cat who pointedly sits in the same pew occupied by generations of her forebears, and perhaps know many of the characters in this look at church life today. A wordy Archdeacon comes on the scene, and Roddy is taken aback by the events following his first visit to church. Roddy’s best friend Bushy-Beard says wise things, and he hears an enlightened Bishop . . .
Bishop David Pytches writes: A unique spoof on church life. Will you recognise yourself and your church here? … Derek Osborne’s mind here is insightful, his characters graphic and typical and the style acutely comical, but there is a serious message in his madness. Buy this, read it and enjoy!
David Pytches, Chorleywood
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9935005-0-3
Paperback ISBN: 978-09927642-0-3
46 pages 5.5 × 8.5 inches paperback UK £3.95
Available from bookstores and major internet sellers
White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition
“I go to prepare a place for you.” This well-known promise from Jesus must cause us to think about the reality of heaven. Heaven is to be our home for ever. Where is heaven? What is it like? Will I recognize people there? All who are Christians must surely want to hear about the place where they are to spend eternity. In this abridged edition of William Branks classic work of 1861, we discover what the Bible has to say about heaven. There may be a few surprises, and there are certainly some challenges as we explore a subject on which there seems to be little teaching and awareness today.
Roger and Janet Niblett
Roger and Janet Niblett were just an ordinary English couple, but then they met the Lord and their lives were totally transformed. Like the Bethlehem shepherds of old, they had a compulsion to share the same good news that Jesus Christ had come into the world to save sinners. Empowered by the Holy Spirit they proclaimed the gospel in the market place, streets, prisons, hospitals and churches with a vibrancy that only comes from being in direct touch with the Almighty and being readily available to serve Him as a channel of His grace and love. God was with them and blessed their ministry abundantly. Praise God! (Pastor Mervyn Douglas, Clevedon Family Church)
The story of Roger Niblett is an inspiration to all who serve the Lord. He was a prolific street evangelist, whose impact on the gospel scene was a wonder to behold. It was my privilege to witness his conversion, when he went forward to receive Christ at the Elim Church, Keynsham. The preacher was fiery Scottish evangelist Rev’d Alex Tee. It was not long before Roger too caught that same soul winner’s fire which propelled him far and wide, winning multitudes for Christ. Together with his wife Janet, they proceeded to “Tell the World of Jesus”. (Des Morton, Founder Minister of Keynsham Elim Church)
I know of no couple who have been more committed to sharing their faith from the earliest days of their journey with the Lord Jesus Christ. Along the way, at home and abroad, and with a tender heart for the marginalised, Rog and Jan have introduced multitudes to the Saviour and have inspired successive generations of believers to do the same. It was our joy and privilege to have them as part of the family at Trinity where Janet continues to serve in worship and witness. Loved by young and old alike, they will always have a special place in our hearts. (Andy Paget, Trinity Tabernacle, Bristol. Vice President, International Gospel Outreach)
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9935005-1-0
Also available as a paperback
(published by Gozo Publishing Bristol)
paperback ISBN: 978-1508674979
New Abridged Edition
You may have heard of the clergyman who was converted while preaching his own sermon! Well, this is man -- William Haslam. It happened in Cornwall one Sunday in 1851. He later wrote his autobiography in two books: From Death into Life and Yet not I. Here, in Leaves from my NoteBook, William Haslam writes about events and people not present in his autobiography. They make fascinating and challenging reading as we watch him sharing his faith one to one or in small groups, with dramatic results. Haslam was a man who mixed easily with titled gentry and the poorest of the poor, bringing the message of salvation in a way that people were ready to accept. This book has been lightly edited and abridged to make reading easier today by using modern punctuation and avoiding over-long sentences. William Haslam’s amazing message is unchanged.
Original book first published 1889
Gospels and Acts
J. J. Blunt
This book will confirm (or restore) your faith in the Gospel records. Clearly the Gospels were not invented. There is too much unintentional agreement between them for this to be so. Undesigned coincidences are where writers tell the same account, but from a different viewpoint. Without conspiring together to get their accounts in agreement, they include unexpected (and often unnoticed) details that corroborate their records. Not only are these unexpected coincidences found within the Gospels, but sometimes a historical writer unknowingly and unintentionally confirms the Bible record.
Within these pages you will see just how accurate were the memories of the Gospel writers -- even of the smallest details which on casual reading can seem of little importance, yet clearly point to eyewitness accounts. J.J. Blunt spent many years investigating these coincidences. And here they are, as found in the four Gospels and Acts.
First published in instalments between 1833 and 1847
The edition used here published in 1876
Home and Group Questions for Today Edition
R. A. Torrey
Questions by Chuck Antone, Jr.
This is a White Tree Publishing Home and Group Questions for Today Edition. At the end of each chapter are questions for use either in your personal study, or for sharing in a church or home group. Why? Because: “From many earnest hearts there is rising a cry for more power: more power in our personal conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil; more power in our work for others. The Bible makes the way to obtain this longed-for power very plain. There is no presumption in undertaking to tell how to obtain Fullness of Power in Christian life and service; for the Bible itself tells, and the Bible was intended to be understood. R. A. Torrey (1856-1928) was an American evangelist, pastor, educator, and writer whose name is attached to several organisations, and whose work is still well known today.
“The Bible statement of the way is not mystical or mysterious. It is very plain and straightforward. If we will only make personal trial of The Power of the Word of God; The Power of the Blood of Christ; The Power of the Holy Spirit; The Power of Prayer; The Power of a Surrendered Life; we will then know the Fullness of Power in Christian life and service. We will try to make this plain in the following chapters. There are many who do not even know that there is a life of abiding rest, joy, satisfaction, and power; and many others who, while they think there must be something beyond the life they know, are in ignorance as to how to obtain it. This book is also written to help them.” (Torrey’s Introduction.)
Twenty-five Days Around the Manger
Will a purple bedroom help Marty’s misgivings about Christmas?
As a kid, Martha Evans didn’t like Christmas. Sixty years later, she still gets a little uneasy when this holiday on steroids rolls around. But she knows, when all the tinsel is pulled away, Whose Day it is. Now Marty Magee, she is blessed with five grandchildren who help her not take herself too seriously.
Do you know the angel named Herald? Will young Marty survive the embarrassment of her Charley Brown Christmas tree? And by the way, where’s the line to see Jesus?
Twenty-Five Days Around the Manger goes from Marty’s mother as a little girl awaiting her brother’s arrival, to O Holy Night when our souls finally were able to feel their full worth.
This and much more. Join Marty around the manger this Advent season.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9954549-1-0
Also in full colour paperback
from Rickety Bridge Publishing
Available from bookstores and major internet sellers
The Gospels and Acts
In Simple Paraphrase
with Helpful Explanations
Running Through the Bible
White Tree Publishing presents a paraphrase in today's English of passages from the four Gospels -- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- relating Jesus' birth, life, death and resurrection in one continuous narrative with helpful explanations, plus a paraphrase of events from the book of Acts. Also in this book is a brief summary of the Epistles and Revelation. For readers unfamiliar with the New Testament, this book makes a valuable introduction, and it will surely help those familiar with the New Testament to gain some extra knowledge and understanding as they read it. Please note that this is not a translation of the Bible. It is a careful and sensitive paraphrase of parts of the New Testament, and is not intended to be quoted as Scripture. Part 2 is a short introduction to the whole Bible -- Running Through the Bible -- which is available from White Tree Publishing as a separate eBook and paperback.
Translators and others involved in foreign mission work, please note: If you believe that this copyright book, or part of this book, would be useful if translated into another language, please contact White Tree Publishing (). Permission will be free, and assistance in formatting and publishing your new translation as an eBook and/or a paperback may be available, also without charge.
[_ Superb! I have never read anything like it. It is colloquially worded in a succinct, clear style with a brilliant (and very helpful) running commentary interspersed. I have found it a compelling read -- and indeed spiritually engaging and moving. _] Canon Derek Osborne, Norfolk, England.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9935005-9-6
The Early Pentecostal Movement
Home and Group Questions for Today Edition
Study Questions by Chuck Antone, Jr.
This is a White Tree Publishing Home and Group Questions for Today Edition. At the end of each of the seven chapters are questions by Chuck Antone, Jr. for use either in your personal study, or for sharing in a church or home group. Why? Because Smith Wigglesworth, often referred to as the Apostle of Faith, putting the emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit, writes, “God is making people hungry and thirsty after His best. And everywhere He is filling the hungry and giving them that which the disciples received at the very beginning. Are you hungry? If you are, God promises that you shall be filled.”
Smith Wigglesworth was one of the pioneers of the early Pentecostal revival. Born in 1859 he gave himself to Jesus at the age of eight and immediately led his mother to the Lord. His ministry took him to Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Pacific Islands, India and what was then Ceylon. Smith Wigglesworth’s faith was unquestioning.
In this book, he says, “There is nothing impossible with God. All the impossibility is with us, when we measure God by the limitations of our unbelief.”
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9954549-4-1
J Stafford Wright
When we start to think about God, we soon come to a point where we say, “I can discover nothing more about God by myself. I must see whether He has revealed anything about Himself, about His character, and about the way to find Him and to please Him.” From the beginning, the Christian church has believed that certain writings were the Word of God in a unique sense. Before the New Testament was compiled, Christians accepted the Old Testament as their sacred Book. Here they were following the example of Christ Himself. During His ministry Jesus Christ made great use of the Old Testament, and after His resurrection He spent some time in teaching His disciples that every section of the Old Testament had teachings in it concerning Himself. Any discussion of the inspiration of the Bible gives place sooner or later to a discussion of its interpretation. To say that the Bible is true, or infallible, is not sufficient: for it is one thing to have an infallible Book, and quite another to use it. J Stafford Wright was a greatly respected evangelical theologian and author, and former Principal of Tyndale Hall Theological College, Bristol.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9954549-9-6
eBook Coming 2017
J Stafford Wright
The Bible Psalms. Do you see them as a source of comfort? A help in daily living? A challenge? Or perhaps something to study in depth? Psalms, a Guide Psalm by Psalm will meet all these requirements, and more. It is an individual study guide that can be used for daily reading in conjunction with your own Bible. It is also a resource for group study, with brief questions for study and discussion. And it’s a Bible commentary, dealing with the text of each Psalm section by section.
eBook ISBN 978-0-9957594-2-8
eBook coming 2017
Samuel, Mephibosheth, and a woman on death row -- people telling of our Savior’s love. A chicken, a dinosaur, and a tarantula -- just a few props to show how we can serve God and our neighbors. Peanut butter, pinto beans and grandmother’s chow-chow -- merely tools to help share the Bread of Life. These are just a few of the characters in Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends.
It is Marty’s desire to bring the hymns out of their sometimes formal, Sunday best stuffy setting and into our Monday through Friday lives. At the same time, she presents a light object lesson and appropriate Scripture passage. This is done with the format of a devotion book, yet it has a light tone and style. From Ebenezer to Willie, Marty’s characters can scarcely be contained within the pages of this whimsical yet insightful volume.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9957594-1-1
Also available as a Rickety Bridge paperback
eBook Coming 2017
White Tree Publishing Edition
Christian and happy? Do these two words fit comfortably together? Is our Christian life a burden or a pleasure? Is our quiet time with the Lord a duty or a delight? First written by Hannah Pearsall Smith as monthly instalments for an American magazine, the words in The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life underwent several revisions over the years by Hannah (aka Mrs. Pearsall Smith and HWS). Hannah was the feisty wife of a Quaker preacher, and her life was not easy, culminating with her husband being involved in a sexual scandal and eventually losing his faith. So, Christian and happy? An alternative title could have been The Christian’s Secret of a Trusting Life.
How often, Hannah asks, do we bring our burdens to the Lord, as He told us to, only to take them home with us again? There are some wonderful and challenging chapters in this book. Hannah insists that fact, faith and feelings come in that order. In later life Hannah put feelings and personal revelation first, and moved away from the mainstream Christian faith. But her earlier teaching in this book is firmly Scripture based, as Hannah insists that there is more to the Christian life than simply passing through the gate of salvation. There is a journey ahead for us, where every step we take should be consecrated to bring us closer to God, day by day, and year by year.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9957594-6-6
Mrs. O. F. Walton
A Romantic Mystery
With modern line drawings
Living the life of a wealthy man, Kenneth Fortescue receives devastating news from his father. But he is only able to learn incomplete facts about his past, because a name has been obliterated from a very important letter. Two women are vying for Kenneth's attention -- Lady Violet, the young daughter of Lady Earlswood, and Marjorie Douglas, the daughter of a widowed parson's wife.
Written in 1905 by the much-loved author Mrs. O. F. Walton, this edition has been lightly abridged and edited to make it easier to read and understand today. This romantic mystery story gives an intriguing glimpse into the class extremes that existed in Edwardian England, with wealthy titled families on one side, and some families living in terrible poverty on the other.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9932760-2-6
Mrs. O. F. Walton
A Romantic Mystery
with modern line drawings
Doctor Forester, a medical man only twenty-five years old, has come to a lonely part of Wales to escape from an event in his recent past that has caused him much hurt. So he has more on his mind than worrying about strange noises behind his bedroom wall in the old castle where he is staying.
A young woman who shares part of the journey with him is staying in the same village. He is deeply attracted to her, and believes that she is equally attracted to him. But he soon has every reason to think that his old school friend Jack is also courting her.
Written and taking place in the early 1900s, this romantic mystery is a mix of excitement and heartbreak. What is the secret of Hildick Castle? And can Doctor Forester rid himself of the past that now haunts his life?
Mrs. O. F. Walton was a prolific writer in the late 1800s, and this abridged edition captures all of the original writer’s insight into what makes a memorable story. With occasional modern line drawings.
Ghosts of the past kept flitting through his brain. Dark shadows which he tried to chase away seemed to pursue him. Here these ghosts were to be laid; here those shadows were to be dispelled; here that closed chapter was to be buried for ever. So he fought long and hard with the phantoms of the past until the assertive clock near his bedroom door announced that it was two o’clock.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9932760-0-2
Mrs. O. F. Walton
A Victorian Romance
With modern line drawings
May Lindsay and her young stepsister Maggie are left penniless and homeless when their father the local doctor dies. Maggie can go to live with her three maiden aunts, but May at the age of nineteen is faced with a choice. Should she take the position of companion to a girl she doesn’t know, who lives some distance away, or accept a proposal of marriage from the man who has been her friend since they were small children?
May Lindsay makes her decision, but it is not long before she wonders if she has done the right thing. This is a story of life in Victorian England as May, who has led a sheltered life, is pushed out into a much bigger world than she has previously known. She soon encounters titled families, and is taken on a tour of the Holy Land which occupies much of the story.
Two men seem to be a big disappointment to May Lindsay. Will her Christian faith hold strong in these troubles? Was she right in the decision she made before leaving home?
Mrs. O. F. Walton was a prolific writer in the late 1800s, and this abridged edition captures all of the original writer’s insight into what makes a memorable story. With occasional modern line drawings.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9932760-1-9
Charles M. Sheldon
This new abridged edition of a classic story that has sold over an estimated 30 million copies, contains Charles Sheldon’s original writing, with some passages sensitively abridged to allow his powerful story to come through for today’s readers. Nothing in the storyline has been changed.
A homeless man staggers into a wealthy church and upsets the congregation. A week later he is dead. This causes the Rev. Henry Maxwell to issue a startling challenge to his congregation and to himself -- whatever you do in life over the next twelve months, ask yourself this question before making any decision: "What would Jesus do?"
The local newspaper editor, a novelist, a wealthy young woman who has inherited a million dollars, her friend who has been offered a professional singing career, the superintendent of the railroad workshops, a leading city merchant and others take up the challenge. But how will it all work out when things don’t go as expected?
A bishop gives up his comfortable lifestyle -- and finds his life threatened in the city slums. The story is timeless. A great read, and a challenge to every Christian today.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9927642-9-6
Also available in paperback 254 pages 5.5 × 8.5 inches
Paperback ISBN 13: 978-19350791-8-7
A Previously Unpublished Book
A Novel by J Stafford Wright
What is inside the fascinating house with the locked door and the shuttered windows? Satan wants an experiment. God allows it. John is caught up in the plan as Satan’s human representative. The experiment? To demonstrate that there can be peace in the world if God allows Satan to run things in his own way. A group of people gather together in an idyllic village run by Satan, with no reference to God, and no belief in him.
J Stafford Wright has written this startling and gripping account of what happens when God stands back and Satan steps forward. All seems to go well for the people who volunteer to take part. And no Christians allowed!
John Longstone lost his faith when teaching at a theological college. Lost it for good -- or so he thinks. And then he meets Kathleen who never had a faith. As the holes start to appear in Satan’s scheme for peace, they wonder if they should help or hinder the plans which seem to have so many benefits for humanity.
eBook ISBN 13: 978-0-9932760-3-3
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9927642-4-1
206 pages 5.25 × 8.0 inches
Available from bookstores and major internet sellers
Margaret S. Haycraft
Pansy is an orphan who is cared for by her aunt, Temperance Piper, who keeps the village post office and store. One day Pansy meets wealthy Mrs. Adair who offers to take her under her wing and give her a life of wealth in high society that she could never dream of, on condition Pansy never revisits her past life. When they first meet, Mrs. Adair says about Pansy’s clothes, “The style is a little out of date, but it is good enough for the country. I should like to see you in a really well-made dress. It would be quite a new sensation for you, if you really belong to these wilds. I have a crimson and gold tea gown that would suit you delightfully, and make you quite a treasure for an artist.” This is a story of rags to riches to … well, to a life where nothing is straightforward. First published in 1891.
White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition
Margaret S. Haycraft
For several years in the peaceful English village of Meadthorpe, the church and chapel have existed in an uneasy peace while the rector and the chapel minister are distracted by poor health. Now a young curate arrives at St Simeon’s, bringing high church ritual and ways of worship. Gildas Haven, the daughter of the chapel minister is furious to discover the curate is enticing her Sunday school children away. The curate insists that his Church ways are right, and Gildas who has only known chapel worship says the opposite.
Battle lines are quickly drawn by leaders and congregations. Mary Haycraft writes with light humour and surprising insight in what could be a controversial story line. With at least one major surprise, the author seems to be digging an impossible hole for herself as the story progresses. The ending of this sensitively told romance is likely to come as a surprise.
White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition
What would happen to the Christian faith if it could be proved beyond all doubt that Jesus did not rise from the dead? This is the situation when, at the end of the nineteenth century, eminent archaeologists working outside Jerusalem discover a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, with an inscription claiming that he took the body of Jesus from the first tomb and hid it. And there are even remains of a body. So no resurrection!
As churches quickly empty, some Christians cling to hope, saying that Jesus lives within them, so He must be the Son of God who rose from the dead. Others are relieved that they no longer have to believe and go to church. Society starts to break down.
With the backing of a wealthy industrialist, a young curate puts together a small team to investigate the involvement of a powerful atheist in the discovery. This is an abridged edition of a novel first published in 1903.
Guy Thorne was the English author of many thrillers in the early twentieth century, and this book was not intended specifically for the Christian market. It contains adult references in places, but no swearing or offensive language. Although it was written from a high church Anglican viewpoint, the author is positive about the various branches of the Christian faith, finding strengths and weaknesses in individual church and chapel members as their beliefs are threatened by the discovery in Jerusalem. White Tree Publishing believes this book will be a great and positive challenge to Christians today as we examine the reality of our faith.
White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition
Published jointly with North View Publishing
White Tree Publishing Edition
Rose and Maurice Capel find themselves living in poverty through no fault of their own, and their daughter Gwen is dangerously ill and in need of a doctor and medicine, which they cannot possibly afford. There seems to be only one option -- to offer their daughter to Maurice Capel's unmarried sister, Dorothy, living in the beautiful Welsh countryside, and be left with nothing more than memories of Gwen. Dorothy has inherited her father's fortune and cut herself off from the family. Although Gwen would be well cared for, if she got better and Rose and Maurice's finances improved, would they be able to ask for Gwen to be returned? Another story from popular Victorian writer Margaret S. Haycraft.
White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition
eBook coming late 2017
Una Latreille inherits the St Pensart’s estate which has been in the family since the Norman Conquest. Unfortunately the estate is now bankrupt, and although still in mourning, Una’s only hope of living in the style to which she has been accustomed is to marry a wealthy man, and quickly. The one man who has expressed any interest in Una is Keith Broughton. He started work as a mill hand, and is now the young and wealthy owner of a large woollen mill. But how can she possibly marry so far beneath her class? Reluctantly, Una agrees to marriage on condition that there is no physical contact between them, and certainly no honeymoon! She also insists that she will never, ever suffer the indignity of meeting anyone in his family, nor put one foot inside the door of his mill. This book was first published in 1898 by SW Partridge and Co, publishers of both Christian and secular books. Although there is no openly Christian message in this story, unlike the majority of Margaret Haycraft’s books, it deals sensitively with the true nature of love -- as well as being an extremely readable story.
White Tree Publishing Edition
(and older readers too!)
The day Daniel Talbot brought home a stuffed duck in a glass case, everyone thought he’d gone out of his mind. Even he had his doubts at times. “Fancy spending your money on that,” his mother scolded him. “You needn’t think it’s coming into this house, because it isn’t!”
When Daniel, Emma, Charlie and Julia, the Four Merlins, set out to sail their model paddle steamer on the old canal, strange and dangerous things start to happen. Then Daniel and Julia make a discovery they want to share with the others.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9954549-2-7
Paperback ISBN: 9785-203447-7-5
5×8 inches 182 pages
Available from major internet stores
The Hijack Adventure
Anna’s mother has opened a transport café, but why do the truck drivers avoid stopping there? An accident in the road outside brings Anna a new friend, Matthew. When they get trapped in a broken down truck with Matthew’s dog, Chip, their adventure begins.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9954549-6-5
Available now in paperback
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-5203448-0-5
5×8 inches 140 pages
Available from major internet stores
The Seventeen Steps Adventure
When Ryan’s American cousin, Natalie, comes to stay with him in England, a film from their Gran’s old camera holds some surprise photographs, and they discover there’s more to photography than taking selfies! But where are the Seventeen Steps, and has a robbery been planned to take place there?
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9954549-7-2
Available now in paperback
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-5203448-6-7
5×8 inches 132 pages
Available from major internet stores
Coming June 2017
The Two Jays Adventure
James and Jessica, the Two Jays, are on holiday in the West Country in England where they set out to make some exciting discoveries. Have they found the true site of an ancient holy well? Is the water in it dangerous? Why does an angry man with a bicycle tell them to keep away from the deserted stone quarry?
A serious accident on the hillside has unexpected consequences, and an old Latin document may contain a secret that's connected to the two strange stone heads in the village church -- if James and Jessica can solve the puzzle. An adventure awaits!
eBook ISBN: eBook ISBN: 978-0-9954549-8-9
Available now in paperback
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-5203448-8-1
5×8 inches 196 pages
Available from major internet stores
eBook and paperback
coming summer 2017
A Two Jays Story
James and Jessica, the Two Jays, are on holiday in the Derbyshire Peak District in England, staying near Dakedale Manor, which has been completely destroyed in a fire. Did young Sam Stirling burn his family home down? Miss Parkin, the housekeeper, says he did, and she can prove it. Sam says he didn’t, and he can’t prove it. But Sam has gone missing. James and Jessica believe the truth lies behind one of the old iron doors inside the disused railway tunnel.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9957594-0-4
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-5206386-3-8
Available from major internet stores
eBook and paperback coming late 2017
A Two Jays Story
James and Jessica's Aunt Judy lives in a lonely guest house perched on top of a crumbling cliff on the west coast of Wales. She is moving out with her dog for her own safety, because she has been warned that the waves from the next big storm could bring down a large part of the cliff -- and her house with it. Cousins James and Jessica, the Two Jays, are helping her sort through her possessions, and they find an old papyrus page they think could be from an ancient copy of one of the Gospels. Two people are extremely interested in having it, but can either of them be trusted? James and Jessica are alone in the house. It's dark, the electricity is off, and the worst storm in living memory is already battering the coast. Is there someone downstairs?
eBook and paperback coming late 2017
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9957594-4-2
Paperback ISBN: 9781-5-211370-3-1
An Adventure Book
The true story of Mary Jones’s and her Bible
with a clear Christian message and optional puzzles
(Some are easy, some tricky, and some amusing)
Mary Jones saved for six years to buy a Bible of her own. In 1800, when she was 15, she thought she had saved enough, so she walked barefoot for 26 miles (more than 40km) over a mountain pass and through deep valleys in Wales to get one. That’s when she discovered there were none for sale!
You can travel with Mary Jones today in this book by following clues, or just reading the story. Either way, you will get to Bala where Mary went, and if you’re really quick you may be able to discover a Bible just like Mary’s in the market!
The true story of Mary Jones has captured the imagination for more than 200 years. For this book, Chris Wright has looked into the old records and discovered even more of the story, which is now in this unforgettable account of Mary Jones and her Bible. Solving puzzles is part of the fun, but the whole story is in here to read and enjoy whether you try the puzzles or not. Just turn the page, and the adventure continues. It’s time to get on the trail of Mary Jones!
eBook ISBN: ISBN: 978-0-9933941-5-7
Paperback ISBN 978-0-9525956-2-5
5.5 × 8.5 inches
156 pages of story, photographs, line drawings and puzzles
An Adventure Book
Travel with young Christian as he sets out on a difficult and perilous journey to find the King. Solve the puzzles and riddles along the way, and help Christian reach the Celestial City. Then travel with his friend Christiana. She has four young brothers who can sometimes be a bit of a problem.
Be warned, you will meet giants and lions -- and even dragons! There are people who don't want Christian and Christiana to reach the city of the King and his Son. But not everyone is an enemy. There are plenty of friendly people. It's just a matter of finding them.
Are you prepared to help? Are you sure? The journey can be very dangerous! As with our book Mary Jones and Her Bible, you can enjoy the story even if you don’t want to try the puzzles.
This is a simplified and abridged version of [_ Pilgrim's Progress -- Special Edition ], containing illustrations and a mix of puzzles. The suggested reading age is up to perhaps ten. Older readers will find the same story told in much greater detail in [ Pilgrim's Progress -- Special Edition _] on the next page.
eBook ISBN 13: 978-0-9933941-6-4
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-6-3
5.5 × 8.5 inches 174 pages £6.95
Available from major internet stores
This book for all ages is a great choice for young readers, as well as for families, Sunday school teachers, and anyone who wants to read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in a clear form.
All the old favourites are here: Christian, Christiana, the Wicket Gate, Interpreter, Hill Difficulty with the lions, the four sisters at the House Beautiful, Vanity Fair, Giant Despair, Faithful and Talkative -- and, of course, Greatheart. The list is almost endless.
The first part of the story is told by Christian himself, as he leaves the City of Destruction to reach the Celestial City, and becomes trapped in the Slough of Despond near the Wicket Gate. On his journey he will encounter lions, giants, and a creature called the Destroyer.
Christiana follows along later, and tells her own story in the second part. Not only does Christiana have to cope with her four young brothers, she worries about whether her clothes are good enough for meeting the King. Will she find the dangers in Vanity Fair that Christian found? Will she be caught by Giant Despair and imprisoned in Doubting Castle? What about the dragon with seven heads?
It’s a dangerous journey, but Christian and Christiana both know that the King’s Son is with them, helping them through the most difficult parts until they reach the Land of Beulah, and see the Celestial City on the other side of the Dark River. This is a story you will remember for ever, and it’s about a journey you can make for yourself.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9932760-8-8
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-7-0
5.5 × 8.5 inches 278 pages
Available from major internet stores
An exciting story about the adventures of two angels who seem to know almost nothing -- until they have a vision!
Two ordinary angels are caring for the distant Planet Eltor, and they are about to get a big shock -- they are due to take a trip to Planet Earth! This is Zephan's story of the vision he is given before being allowed to travel with Talora, his companion angel, to help two young people fight against the enemy.
Arriving on Earth, they discover that everyone lives in a small castle. Some castles are strong and built in good positions, while others appear weak and open to attack. But it seems that the best-looking castles are not always the most secure.
Meet Castle Nadia and Castle Max, the two castles that Zephan and Talora have to defend. And meet the nasty creatures who have built shelters for themselves around the back of these castles. And worst of all, meet the shadow angels who live in a cave on Shadow Hill. This is a story about the forces of good and the forces of evil. Who will win the battle for Castle Nadia?
The events in this story are based very loosely on John Bunyan’s allegory The Holy War.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9932760-6-4
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-9-4
5.5 × 8.5 inches 216 pages
Available from major internet stores
Once upon a time there were two favourite books for Sunday reading: Parables from Nature and Agathos and The Rocky Island.
These books contained short stories, usually with a hidden meaning. In this illustrated book is a selection of the very best of these stories, carefully retold to preserve the feel of the originals, coupled with ease of reading and understanding for today’s readers.
Discover the king who sent his servants to trade in a foreign city. The butterfly who thought her eggs would hatch into baby butterflies, and the two boys who decided to explore the forbidden land beyond the castle boundary. The spider that kept being blown in the wind, the soldier who had to fight a dragon, the four children who had to find their way through a dark and dangerous forest. These are just six of the nine stories in this collection. Oh, and there’s also one about a rocky island!
This is a book for a young person to read alone, a family or parent to read aloud, Sunday school teachers to read to the class, and even for grownups who want to dip into the fascinating stories of the past all by themselves. Can you discover the hidden meanings? You don’t have to wait until Sunday before starting!
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9927642-7-2
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-8-7
5.5 × 8.5 inches 148 pages £5.95
Available from major internet stores
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Don’t forget to check our website
for the latest books, and updates on availability
"It seems, Miss, your father drew out that money yesterday, and took it all out in gold. The Rector happened to be in the Bank at the time, but was on his way to town, and could not stop to talk to your father just then, though he wondered to hear him say he had come to draw out everything, as treasurer of the fund." Amaranth Glyn's comfortable life comes to an end when the church funds disappear. Her father, the church treasurer who drew out the money, is also missing, to be followed shortly by her mother. The disgrace this brings on the family means Amaranth's marriage plans are cancelled. Amaranth is a competent artist and moves away with her young brother to try to earn a living. There are rumours that her parents are in France and even in Peru. Caring for her sick brother, Amaranth wants life to be as it was before the financial scandal forced her to leave her family home and the garden she loved.