Изображения страниц

moved and spoke as if she were at home; there was no restraint or awkwardness in her girlish modesty, and her eyes looked brighter, and her whole air was happier and more cheerful.

"Fine feathers and fine birds-that's what she cares for," thought the old woman. "A pretty wife for my poor boy!" (Not that pretty" in Lord Drumshambo's


she meant sense at all.)



So much for the arrival of Fernando's mother

in England. What has been said may suffice to show that she was never likely to find a cordial friend in her mother-in-law; nor did she. Old Mrs. Burscough did not like her, and did not try to she saw in her an unfit wife for her son, and from first to last never concealed that opinion from anybody, from her own husband, from Hubert, from his sisters, or from Sheila herself and she never did anything to teach her to become more fit: nor did she try to show him how, himself a poor man, he should be a wise husband to a girl-wife without money or any knowledge of money or any knowledge of moneyaffairs.

The Burscoughs were not as well off as Lord Drumshambo chose to believe, but Hubert's parents had never been poor, and at no time of her life had his mother ever had to struggle with poverty. A capable managing

woman she would have known how to do it very well but she had never had any harder duty in that way than to save and, except by preaching up the glory and greatness of saving (to a young couple who from the first had less than enough to live upon), she never tried to teach them, as she might, or to help them as she very well could, to keep out of debt.

Hubert was in debt when he married, and tried to confess it had he done so to his father the old man would have at least started the young couple fair but unfortunately it was to his mother that Hubert began to explain matters, and she so stormed and scolded at the first word of his having had such reasons as that for not marrying a penniless girl, that he, offended at her abuse of his wife and angry at her hectoring of himself, went off in a fume and let it alone.

When he and Sheila left Hardstone Mrs. Burscough gave him a present, but made it so plain that the gift was personal that he kept it as a boy might have kept a tip. And it was almost always so in every instance of her sending him any help; she knew he was careless and extravagant about money, but chose to assume that Sheila would be so and

bade him not give her present to his wife "to waste."

The old gentleman would now and then send a present to his daughter-in-law "to buy a ribbon," and the money bought no pretty fineries for herself but clothes and boots for her babies; but Mr. Burscough wrote seldom to any of his family, and was apt to leave money concerns for the most part to his wife.

Eleanor loved her brother, and liked his wife, but her voice had no influence, and a certain timid sympathy was all she had to give. That Hubert and Sheila were always struggling and never out of debt, she knew pretty well, but she seldom dared to rouse her mother's anger by alluding to it, and never ventured to tell her father plainly what she rather guessed must be the case than was able to prove to him.

Hubert had never been Mr. Burscough's favourite son, and though the old gentleman had no animosity towards Mrs. Hubert, he had always thought the marriage a foolish business, and was contented to forget it whenever his wife would let him. She never mentioned it without denunciation of its imprudence, and so far he was quite of her opinion; but she had never told him that Hubert had his own debts

when he married, of which poor Sheila could have no knowledge, and for which she could have no responsibility.

"Of course!" Mrs. Burscough would cry, when her husband said that Hubert had applied to him. "His brothers married properly their wives don't keep them in a pickle. No doubt they get in debt."

Then Mr. Burscough, who had never been much troubled by his other sons, would send Hubert what he had asked for-or part of it : with an admonition to be thrifty: and what Hubert ventured to ask, was never so much as he really needed; so that what he got was only a sop, and Cerberus' three heads went on growing. Had his original debts been greater they might really have been less fatal, for then he would have been forced to confess them to his father: as it was he flattered -himself that, since his mother would only abuse his wife, he might pay them as he went along without making a clean breast of them : and that was always what he was trying to do. It became half the business of his life-only the other half involved new spendings that could not be paid as they occurred, because what moneys he got had to go in mitigation of He never really lost affection for his


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »