THE LONG VACATION
THE LONG VACATION
CHARLOTTE M. YONGE
How the children leave us and no traces
Linger of that smiling angel-band
Gone for ever gone and in their places
Weary men and anxious women stand.
ADELAIDE A. PROCTOR
If a book by an author who must call herself a veteran should be
taken up by readers of a younger generation they are begged to
consider the first few chapters as a sort of prologue introduced for
the sake of those of elder years who were kind enough to be
interested in the domestic politics of the Mohuns and the Underwoods.
Continuations are proverbially failures and yet it is perhaps a
consequence of the writer's realization of characters that some seem
as if they could not be parted with and must be carried on in the
mind and not only have their after-fates described but their minds
and opinions under the modifications of advancing years and altered
Turner and other artists have been known literally to see colours in
absolutely different hues as they grew older and so no doubt it is
with thinkers. The outlines may be the same the tints are
insensibly modified and altered and the effect thus far changed.
Thus it is with the writers of fiction. The young write in full
sympathy with as well as for the young they have a pensive
satisfaction in feeling and depicting the full pathos of a tragedy
and on the other hand they delight in their own mirth and fully
share it with the beings of their imagination or they work out great
questions with the unhesitating decision of their youth.
But those who write in elder years look on at their young people not
with inner sympathy but from the outside. Their affections and
comprehension are with the fathers mothers and aunts; they dread
rather than seek piteous scenes and they have learnt that there are
two sides to a question that there are many stages in human life
and that the success or failure of early enthusiasm leaves a good
deal more yet to come.
Thus the vivid fancy passes away which the young are carried along
with and the older feel refreshed by; there is still a sense of
experience and a pleasure in tracing the perspective from another
point of sight where what was once distant has become near at hand
the earnest of many a day-dream has been gained and more than one
ideal has been tried and merits and demerits have become apparent.
And thus it is hoped that the Long Vacation may not be devoid of
interest for readers who have sympathized in early days with
Beechcroft Stoneborough and Vale Leston when they were peopled
with the outcome of a youthful mind and that they may be ready to
look with interest on the perplexities and successes attending on the
matured characters in after years.
If they will feel as if they were on a visit to friends grown older
with their children about them and if the young will forgive the
seeing with elder eyes and observing instead of participating that
is all the veteran author would ask.
C. M. YONGE.
January 31 1895.
I. A CHAPTER OF RETROSPECT
II. A CHAPTER OF TWADDLE
III. DARBY AND JOAN
IV. SLUM SEA OR SEASON
V. A HAPPY SPRITE
VI. ST. ANDREW'S ROCK
VII. THE HOPE OF VANDERKIST
VIII. THE MOUSE-TRAP
IX. OUT BEYOND
X. NOBLESSE OBLIGE
XI. HEROES AND HERO-WORSHIP
XII. THE LITTLE BUTTERFLY
XIII. TWO SIDES OF A SHIELD AGAIN
XIV. BUTTERFLY'S NECTAR
XV. A POOR FOREIGN WIDOW
XVI. "SEE THE CONQUERING HERO COMES"
XVIII. THE EVIL STAR
XX. FRENCH LEAVE
XXI. THE MASQUE
XXII. THE REGATTA
XXIV. COUNSELS OF PATIENCE
XXVI. THE SILENT STAR
XXVII. THE RED MANTLE
XXVIII. ROCCA MARINA
XXIX. ROWENA AND HER RIVAL
XXX. DREAMS AND NIGHTINGALES
XXXI. THE COLD SHOULDER
XXXII. THE TEST OF DAY-DREAMS
XXXIII. A MISSIONARY WEDDING
THE LONG VACATION
CHAPTER I. A CHAPTER OF RETROSPECT
Sorrow He gives and pain good store;
Toil to bear for the neck which bore;
For duties rendered a duty more;
And lessons spelled in the painful lore
Of a war which is waged eternally.-?ANON.
"Ah! my Gerald boy! There you are! Quite well?"
Gerald Underwood of slight delicate mould with refined
transparent-looking features and with hair and budding moustache too
fair for his large dark eyes came bounding up the broad stair to
the embrace of the aunt who stood at the top a little lame lady
supported by an ivory-headed staff. Her deep blue eyes dark
eyebrows and sweet though piquant face were framed by the straight
crape line of widowhood whence a soft white veil hung on her
"Cherie sweet! You are well? And the Vicar?"
"Getting on. How are they all at Vale Leston?"
"All right. Your mother got to church on Easter-day." This was to
Anna Vanderkist a young person of the plump partridge order and
fair rosy countenance ever ready for smiles and laughter.
"Here are no end of flowers" as the butler brought a hamper.
"Daffodils! Oh!-?and anemones! How delicious! I must take Clement
a bunch of those dear white violets. I know where they came from"
and she held them to her lips. "Some primroses too I hope."
"A few; but the main body tied up in tight bunches like
cauliflowers I dropped at Kensington Palace Gardens."
"A yellow primrose is much more than a yellow primrose at present"
said Mrs. Grinstead picking out the few spared from political
purposes. "Clement will want his button-hole to greet Lance."
"So he is advanced to button-holes! And Lance?"
"He is coming up for the Press dinner and will sleep here to be
ready for Primrose-day."
"That's prime whatever brings him."
"There children go and _do_ the flowers and drink tea. I am going
to read to your uncle to keep him fresh for Lance."
"How bright she looks" said Gerald as Anna began collecting vases
from the tables in a drawing-room not professionally artistic but
entirely domestic and full of grace and charm of taste looking over
a suburban garden fresh with budding spring to a church spire.
"The thought of Uncle Lance has cheered them both very much."
"So the Vicar is really recovering?"
"Since Cousin Marilda flew at the curates and told them that if they
came near him with their worries they should never see a farthing of
hers! And they are all well at home? Is anything going on?"
"Chiefly defence of the copses from primrose marauders. You know the
great agitation. They want to set up a china clay factory on
Penbeacon and turn the Ewe not to say the Leston into milk and
"The wretches! But they can't. It is yours."
"Not the western quarry; but they cannot get the stream without a
piece of the land which belongs to Hodnet's farm for which they make
astounding bids; but any way nothing can be done till I am of age
when the lease to Hodnet is out except by Act of Parliament which
is hardly worth while considering?-"
"That you are near twenty. But surely you won't consent?"
"Well I don't want to break all your hearts Cherie's especially
but why should all that space be nothing but a playground for us
Underwoods instead of making work for the million?"
"And a horrid nasty million it would be" retorted Anna. "You born
Yankee! Don't worry Aunt Cherry about profaning the Ewe just to
spoil good calico with nasty yellow dust."
"I don't want to worry her but there never were such groovy people
as you are! I shall think it over and make up my mind by the time I
have the power."
"I wish you had to wait till five-and-twenty so as to get more time
Gerald laughed and sauntered away. He was not Yankee except that
he had been born at Boston. His father was English his mother a
Hungarian singer who had divorced and deserted his father the
ne'er-do-weel second son of an old family. When Gerald was five
years old his father was killed and he himself severely injured in
a raid of the Indians far west and he was brought home by an old
friend of the family. His eldest uncle's death made him heir to the
estate but his life was a very frail one till his thirteenth year
when he seemed to have outgrown the shock to spine and nerves.
Much had befallen the house of Underwood since the days when we took
leave of them still sorrowing under the loss of the main pillar of
their house but sending forth the new founders with good hope.
Geraldine had made her home at St. Matthew's with her brother Clement
and the little delicate orphan Gerald; but after three years she had
yielded to the persevering constancy of Mr. Grinstead a sculptor of
considerable genius and repute much older than herself who was
ready and willing to be a kind uncle to her little charge and who
introduced her to all at home or abroad that was refined
intellectual or beautiful.
It was in the first summer after their marriage that he was charmed
with the vivacity and musical talent of her young sister Angela now
upon the world again. Angela had grown up as the pet and plaything
of the Sisters of St. Faith's at Dearport which she regarded as
another home and when crushed by grief at her eldest brother's death
had hurried thither for solace. Her family thought her safe there
not realizing how far life is from having its final crisis over at
one-and-twenty. New Sisters came in old ones went to found fresh
branches; stricter rules grew up and were enforced by a Superior
out of sympathy with the girl who had always rebelled against what
she thought dictation. It was decided that she could stay there no
longer and her brother Lancelot and his wife received her at
Marshlands with indignant sympathy for her wrongs; but neither she
nor her sister-in-law were made to suit one another. With liberty
her spirit and audacity revived and she showed so much attraction
towards the Salvation Army that her brother declared their music to
have been the chief deterrent from her becoming a "Hallelujah lass."
However in a brief visit to London she so much pleased Mr.
Grinstead that he invited her to partake in the winter's journey to
Italy. Poor man he little knew what he undertook. Music art
Roman Catholic services and novelty conspired to intoxicate her and
her sister was thankful to carry her off northward before she had
pledged herself to enter a convent.
Mountain air and scenery however proved equally dangerous. Her
enterprises inspired the two quiet people with constant fears for her
neck; but it was worse when they fell in with a party of very
Bohemian artists whom Mr. Grinstead knew just well enough not to be
able to shake them off. The climax came when she started off with
them in costume at daybreak on an expedition to play the zither and
sing at a village fete. She came back safe and sound but Geraldine
was already packed up to take her to Munich where Charles Audley and
Stella now were and to leave her under their charge before she had
driven Mr. Grinstead distracted.
There was a worse trouble at home. Since the death of his good old
mother and of Felix Underwood Sir Adrian Vanderkist had been rapidly
going downhill; as though he had thrown off all restraint and as if
the yearly birth of a daughter left him the more free to waste his
patrimony. Little or nothing had been heard direct from poor Alda
till Clement was summoned by a telegram from Ironbeam Park to find
his sister in the utmost danger with a new-born son by her side and
her husband in the paroxysms of the terrible Nemesis of indulgence in
Sir Adrian had quarrelled with all the family in turn except Clement
and this fact or else that gentleness towards a sufferer that had
won on old Fulbert Underwood led him in a lucid interval to direct
and sign a hurried will drawn up by his steward leaving the
Reverend Edward Clement Underwood sole guardian to his children and
executor together with his lawyer. It was done without Clement's
knowledge or he would have remonstrated for never was there a more
trying bequest than the charge which in a few days he found laid on
He had of course already made acquaintance with the little girls.
Poor children they had hitherto led a life as dreary as was possible
to children who had each other and fresh air and open grounds.
Their mother was more and more of an invalid and dreaded that their
father should take umbrage at the least expense that they caused; so
that they were scrupulously kept out of his way fed dressed and
even educated as plainly as possible by a governess cheap because
she was passe and made up for her deficiencies by strictness
amounting to harshness while they learnt to regard each new little
sister's sex as a proof of naughtiness on her part or theirs.
The first time they ever heard a man's step in the school-room
passage was in those days of undefined sorrow alarm and silence
after the governess had despatched the message to the only relation
whose address she knew. The step came nearer; there was a knock the
sweet strong voice asked
"Are the poor little girls here?" and the tall figure was on one knee
among them gathering as many as he could within his loving arms.
Perhaps he recollected Sister Constance among the forlorn flock at
Bexley; but these were even more desolate for they had no past of
love and loyalty. But with that embrace it seemed to the four elders
that their worst days were over. What mattered it to them that they-
?all eight of them-?were almost destitute? the birth of the poor
little male heir preventing the sale of the property so terribly
encumbered; and the only available maintenance being the ?5000 that
Mr. Thomas Underwood had settled securely upon their mother.
They began to know what love and kindness meant. Kind uncles and
aunts gathered round them. Their mother seemed to be able to live
when her twin-sister hung over her and as soon as she could be
moved the whole party left the gloom of Ironbeam for Vale Leston
where a house was arranged for them. Lady Vanderkist continued a
chronic invalid watched over by her sister Wilmet and her excellent
young daughter Mary. Robina who had only one girl and had not
forgotten her training as a teacher undertook with the assistance
of Sophia the second daughter the education of the little ones; and
the third and fourth Emilia and Anna were adopted into the
childless homes of Mrs. Travis Underwood and Mrs. Grinstead and
lived there as daughters. Business cares of the most perplexing kind
fell however on Clement Underwood's devoted and unaccustomed head
and in the midst arrived a telegram from Charles Audley summoning
him instantly to Munich.
Angela was in danger of fulfilling her childish design of marrying a
Duke or at least a Graf. Diplomates could not choose their society
and she had utterly disdained all restraints from "the babies" as
she chose to call Mr. and Mrs. Audley and thus the wunderschones
madchen had fascinated the Count an unbelieving Roman Catholic of
evil repute and had derided their remonstrances.
Clement hurried off but to find the bird flown. She had come down
in the morning white and tear-stained and had told Stella that she
could stay no longer kissed her and was gone out of the house
before even Charles could be called. Stella's anxiety almost
despair had however been relieved just before her brother's arrival
by an electric message from Vale Leston with the words "Angela safe
Letters followed and told how Robina had found her sobbing upon her
brother Felix's grave. Her explanation was that on the very night
before her proposed betrothal she had dreamt that she was drifting
down the Ewe in the little boat Miss Ullin and saw Felix under the
willow-tree holding out his bared arms to her. She said "Is that
the scar of the scald?" and his only answer was the call "Angela!
Angela!" and with the voice still sounding in her ears she awoke
and determined instantly to obey the call coming to her as she
felt from another world. If it were only from her own conscience
still it was a cause of great thankfulness to her family and she
soon made herself very valuable at Vale Leston in a course of
epidemics which ran through the village and were in some cases very
severe. The doctors declared that two of the little Vanderkists owed
their lives to her unremitting care.
Her destiny seemed to be fixed and she went off radiant to be
trained at a London hospital as a nurse. Her faculty in that line
was undoubted. All the men in her ward were devoted to her and so
were almost all the young doctors; but the matron did not like her
and at the end of the three years an act of independent treatment of
a patient caused a tremendous commotion all the greater because many
outsiders declared that she was right. But it almost led to a
general expulsion of lady nurses.
Of course she had to retire and happily for her Mother Constance
was just at that time sentenced by her rheumatism to spend the winter
in a warm climate. She eagerly claimed Angela's tendance and just
at the end of the year there came an urgent request for a Sister from
England to form a foundation in one of the new cities of Australia on
the model of St. Faith's; and thither Mother Constance proceeded
with one Sister and Angela who had thenceforth gone on so well and
quietly that her family hoped the time for Angela's periodical
breaking out had passed.
The ensuing years had been tranquil as to family events though the
various troubles and perplexities that fell on Clement were endless
both those parochial and ritualistic and those connected with the
Vanderkist affairs where his sister did not spare him her murmurs.
Fulbert's death in Australia was a blow both to Lancelot and to him
though they had never had much hope of seeing this brother again. He
had left the proceeds of his sheep-farm between Lancelot Bernard
Thus had passed about fourteen years since the death of Felix when
kind old Mr. Grinstead died suddenly at a public meeting leaving his
widow well endowed and the possessor of her pretty home at Brompton.
When soon after the blow her sisters took her to the home at Vale
Leston she had seemed oppressed by the full tide of young life
overflowing there and as if she again felt the full force of the