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About the Book


Miss Orabel Jancy is indeed clever, and she knows it. The oldest of widowed Squire Jancy's six children, all living at home, Orabel is the author of several scientific books, and has many letters after her name. To Orabel, education and intellectual pursuits are everything that matter in life. She is secretary of a women's intellectual club that teaches that women are superior to men, and the members have all agreed to remain single because men would hold them back in their academic goals. However, when Orabel was born, a deathbed promise was made with a friend that Orabel and the friend's son, Harold Kingdon, should be given the opportunity to marry. Nobody thinks to mention this to Orabel, and she only learns of the arrangement when she is grown up and Harold Kingdon is already on his way from India -- to propose to her! Even before Harold arrives, Orabel decides she cannot possibly marry a lowly military doctor, when she is so intelligent. As soon as they meet, the feeling of dislike is mutual. But Orabel's younger sister, Annis, who never did well in academic subjects, is also of marriageable age, and would dearly love to settle down with the right man. Their younger brother and small sisters view the developing situation with interest.


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The Squire had never found courage to broach the fact of the offer to Orabel, who looks as though her blue eyes would wither the sheet of foreign notepaper in front of her.

"You know, Orabel," puts in Annis, "we did hear something long ago about papa and mamma promising somebody or other out in India should have a chance to court you."

"Oh, do say 'yes,' Orabel," pleads a chorus of little sisters. "It will be so lovely to have a wedding, and Phil can be a page and wear a fancy dress."

"Can he?" growls Philip. "I'd like to catch myself in lace and velvet like those kids at the Hemmings' last week. Orabel, I think you ought to send him your portrait. Let him know, at least, what he's wooing."

With these words Philip beats a prudent retreat, and Orabel gives utterance to such tones that Annis, trembling at her side, is almost in tears.

"Has it come to this," Orabel asks, "that I, the secretary of the Mount Athene Club, should be affronted, insulted by a letter like this? Am I not Orabel Jancy? Am I not the pioneer of a new and emancipating system? And who is this Harold Kingdon that he dares to cross my path with his jests concerning infantile betrothal?"


The Clever Miss Jancy

Margaret S. Haycraft

1855-1936


Abridged Edition


Original book first published 1891


This abridged edition ©Chris Wright 2017


eBook ISBN: 978-0-9957594-9-7


Published by

White Tree Publishing

Bristol

UNITED KINGDOM


wtpbristol@gmail.com


Full list of books and updates on

www.whitetreepublishing.com



The Clever Miss Jancy 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.


Contents

Cover


About the Book


Author Biography


Note


Chapter 1


Chapter 2


Chapter 3


Chapter 4


Chapter 5


Chapter 6


Chapter 7


Chapter 8


Chapter 9


Chapter 10


Chapter 11


Chapter 12


Chapter 13


Chapter 14


Chapter 15


More Books from White Tree Publishing


About White Tree Publishing


Christian non-fiction


Christian Fiction


Younger Readers



Author Biography


Margaret Scott Haycraft was born Margaret Scott MacRitchie at Newport Pagnell, England in 1855. She married William Parnell Haycraft in 1883 and wrote mostly under her married name. In 1891 she was living in Brighton, on the south coast of England, and died in Bournemouth, also on the south coast, in 1936. She also wrote under her maiden name of Margaret MacRitchie. Margaret Haycraft is by far our most popular author of fiction.

Margaret 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 concentrated mainly on books for children. However, she later 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 our abridged editions overindulgent descriptions of people have been shortened to make a more robust story, but the characters and storyline are always unchanged. Eliza Kerr is another Victorian writer whose stories deserve to be republished, and White Tree Publishing is releasing several of her books in abridged form.

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.

£100 in 1891 may not sound much, but in income value it is worth £12,000 pounds today (about US$15,000). I mention this in case the sums of money in this book sound insignificant!

Chris Wright

Editor


NOTE

There are 15 chapters in this book. At the end of the book are many 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. Also good books reviews are always helpful.


Chapter 1


"Betrothed from Our Cradles"

"It's a letter with the Indian postmark Simla. We know nobody at Simla. Really you are becoming quite a public character, Orabel. I suppose somebody has been struck by your treatise on the differential calculus."

Orabel Jancy stretches out her hand complacently for the communication from her unknown correspondent. She has passed with gleaming laurels through her university course, and lacking at present fresh fields to conquer has betaken herself of late to authorship, and is regarded with the deepest reverence by the outside public, especially by the villagers of Hollybourne.

"Perhaps somebody has offered Orabel an appointment in India," remarks fifteen-year-old Philip. Philip is the only son and heir of the Jancys, and as such not infrequently snubbed by his intellectual sister who cherishes an extremely low estimate of his sex.

"I will not go," says Orabel firmly, her blue-black eyes gazing pitifully around upon the throng of younger sisters at the breakfast table. "My work is amid my countrywomen. My sphere is to redeem such as these..." with a sweep of her hand she indicates Laura, Etta, Nan, the twins, and Poppy "...from woman's habitual bondage, to emancipate the feminine brain from oppressive restrictions which too long have vainly endeavoured to curtail a woman's thoughts and limit her arena. Then, when my countrywomen are set free, I will turn to foreign fields."

Philip looks disappointed, and the sisters look impressed. They are not as clever as Orabel. The second one, Annis, never got beyond fractions at school, and sometimes brings her fingers into requisition over the tradesmen's books, and they are secretly conscious of falling short of their sister's theories of brain development, but personal deficiencies only make them prouder of the genius of the family.

"Had you not better open your letter, my dear?" suggests Squire Jancy, a sunny-faced, bright-eyed man between fifty and sixty, a leading power on bench and in field, but a little timid of the oracle of the Hall.

Orabel proceeds to do so with a quiet smile, expectant of grateful admiration from a stranger of one or more of her works. But as she reads, her face changes, and horror, amazement, indignation take the place of the smile.

"What is this?" she asks in an awful tone. Then, too filled with wrath to remember the listening ears of the juveniles, she casts the letter down on the table and reads aloud:


"Dear Miss Jancy,

I suppose you are aware that we have been betrothed from our cradles. I believe the arrangement was made when you were three weeks old. I communicated with your father about a year ago, but he has not favoured me with a reply. I am about to seek leave in England, and shall be returning in the autumn of next year. I am coming with an offer of marriage. Trusting this will suit your arrangements, and that we shall be fairly happy together, I remain, sincerely yours,

Harold Kingdon."


"Goodness!" cries Philip excitedly, "if that isn't fortunate. Now I've got Nixon's knife. I bet Nixon Major my stamps to his knife that Orabel would get married one of these days, and Nixon said who'd have such a stuck-up----"

"Hush," says the Squire, sternly, "let me hear no more of betting, and stop teasing your sister. Can you not see she is much distressed? Orabel, my dear, why look so disturbed? After all, an offer of marriage is a compliment, and Kingdon is very well spoken of. He is a surgeon-major in the army, you know, and bears a high character. I ought to have told you about his letter, but ... but ... I had the draining to see to just then, and you were going in for the degree."

The Squire had never found courage to broach the fact of the offer to Orabel, who looks as though her blue eyes would wither the sheet of foreign notepaper in front of her.

"You know, Orabel," puts in Annis, "we did hear something long ago about papa and mamma promising somebody or other out in India should have a chance to court you."

"Oh, do say 'yes,' Orabel," pleads a chorus of little sisters. "It will be so lovely to have a wedding, and Phil can be a page and wear a fancy dress."

"Can he?" growls Philip. "I'd like to catch myself in lace and velvet like those kids at the Hemmings' last week. Orabel, I think you ought to send him your portrait. Let him know, at least, what he's wooing."

With these words Philip beats a prudent retreat, and Orabel gives utterance to such tones that Annis, trembling at her side, is almost in tears.

"Has it come to this," she asks, "that I, the secretary of the Mount Athene Club, should be affronted, insulted, by a letter like this? Am I not Orabel Jancy? Am I not the pioneer of a new and emancipating system? And who is this Harold Kingdon that he dares to cross my path with his jests concerning infantile betrothal?"

"Early betrothals are common in the East," says Laura. "He lives in India, and they don't understand our ways."

The Squire turns his bewildered head towards his daughters, and appears relieved to hear a servant announce just then that Miss Maberley has arrived. Miss Maberley is the daily governess, and there is an exit from the breakfast table, but Annis remains with Orabel.

"Now, father," says Orabel, seating herself judicially in the elbow chair by the fire, "tell me the truth of this matter. Let me know the worst. I can bear it. I suppose no legal marriage ceremony was gone through in my infancy between this ... this ... extremely presumptuous person and myself? The world is surely not mistaken, father, in presuming my name to be Orabel Jancy?"

Annis gives the Squire an encouraging little pat, and murmurs, "Even if you did marry him, Orabel, you can keep your name. Authors often do, and singers, and actresses."

Orabel gives her a dignified look at the association of her treatise on the differential calculus with performers on the stage.

The Squire clears his throat and looks ruefully at his dogs that are whining, moaning, and scratching outside the window, in resolute endeavours to reach his side. "Well, my dear, what is the use of raking up the past? It cannot but be a little painful to me to speak of your dear mother, lost seven years since."

Annis takes his hand and strokes it, and Orabel's stateliness would falter but for that open letter on the table, for she was passionately fond of her lost mother.

"Kingdon's father ... a doctor, too ... was a friend of mine. He was your mother's guardian, and greatly her senior. She scarcely knew her own mind, and had entered into an engagement with him. Well, the fact is she and I learnt to love each other, and Kingdon found it out and set her free. But I believe he never loved again, as he had cared only for her. Years after, he came to the Hall a widower, with a little chap, in mourning, and he kissed you, Orabel, in your cradle, and said, 'This is my son. My dearest wish will be fulfilled when this infant is his wife.'

"We laughed at the notion, but he persisted in declaring that the children were betrothed, and taught Harold to call you, in your unconsciousness, his 'little wife.' Well, we lost sight of the Kingdons, but about a year ago I heard from young Dr. Kingdon, saying his father was dead, and on his deathbed had made him promise he would seek out Orabel Jancy and marry her if possible. 'Time has gone by,' said young Kingdon in his letter to me, 'and I am no more disposed for matrimony than when my father died. I am drifting into a confirmed bachelor, but the memory of my promise haunts me. I am willing to abide by it, with your permission. I have no doubt Miss Jancy is all that is sweet and lovable, and if she agrees to marry me we shall get on as well together as most couples do. I may state that the study of nerves is my speciality, and my researches in this direction have rendered me indisposed for society. So Miss Jancy may be assured that I am perfectly heart-whole. I hope to call upon her when I get my leave.'"

"Nerves!" exclaims Orabel, disdainfully. "What are nerves, pray? This Harold Kingdon is one of those who pander to the hysterical fancies of the unintellectual, who coin their guineas from the so-called nerves of patients. I regret, father, that you forgot to make me aware of this communication. My answer should long since have been despatched. There is a committee meeting of the Mount Athene Club at 10.30, but I shall have time to catch the early post."

"The Indian mail does not go till Friday," says the Squire. "Do not be precipitate, my dear. Second thoughts are best. Why not let the young man come and see you? Of course, dear, I do not want to lose you -- it is very nice to have you with us at home -- but India is really only a stone's throw nowadays. You could often run home to see us; and the married state, my child, is a very happy one."

"Is it?" says Orabel, with a smile of superiority. "My dear father, could you know and understand the joys of the intellect ever spread as a feast before us at Mount Athene, you would realise that the Don, the secretary, and the members have already attained to life's highest."

The cat and her kittens on the rug get up as Orabel passes, and steal to the skirts of Annis. Orabel holds her head so high that occasionally she has forgotten the furry group at her feet, and casualty and tribulation have been the lot of the feline heart. The Squire is already out among his dogs, and Annis, after an interview with the cook, goes to Orabel's study to inquire if her sister intends to take lunch at the club.

"No, no, I shall be in between twelve and three some time. Anything will do for me. A hot cutlet, or some of those croquettes I liked the other day," says Orabel, impatiently. "I may bring in the Don and perhaps the Miss Uffs, so see there is something going. Look here, Annis, let this be a lifelong lesson to you. When your time comes, end the matter as promptly as I have done, for of courses no sister of mine will ever stoop to marry. My sisters will help me to inaugurate the golden cycle, wherein woman at last will understand her own importance. Here is my reply to Kingdon."

"Yes, Orabel," says Annis meekly, and listens with awe as her sister reads the letter aloud.


"Sir,

In addressing to me the extraordinary communication which today has reached my hands, I can only suppose you penned your letter at a time of mental aberration. Perhaps you are not aware that your correspondent is the pioneer of a new and advanced era for her downtrodden sex, in which the Brain of Woman -- a power little realised hitherto -- will be the lever of the State. With marriage, sir, I have absolutely nothing to do. Nor do you in the slightest degree realise my ideal of what the present-day woman has a right to expect -- one whose mind in some degree will be possessed of capacity conformable to her own. Let me hear no more of a proposition beneath any future notice of mine.

Orabel Jancy,

Author of 'A Treatise on the Differential Calculus,'

'Common-sense Geometry,'

'Recreations with Euclid,' etc. etc.


"Splendidly composed," says Annis, "but are you sure you won't be sorry? People who come from India do have such lovely things: Madras work, and tussores, and bangles----"

"Bangles?" says Orabel, sorrowfully. "Oh, Annis, Annis, you are yet very young. You have not arisen into the pastures of light and knowledge. You do not yet understand, my child, the only life that is worth living."


"I answered Dr. Kingdon's letter," Orabel announces at lunch, "and you need not fear, father, that I shall ever leave you. I shall ever be at your side, and you will share the reflection of all my triumphs. The Don was saying today I should make an admirable deputation to our London branch. My name is now such a household word. Yes, father, I have answered his letter, and we shall hear no more of Dr. Harold Kingdon at Hollyberry Hall."

For once in her life, however, Orabel Jancy is mistaken over her belief that Dr. Kingdom will receive her letter in time. Dr. Kingdon's period of leave commences before her letter arrives in India, and one afternoon while Orabel is teaching her tearful sister, Poppy, multiplication on a newly-invented system of her own, the Squire comes into the room and hands her a telegram he has just received.


LANDED THIS MORNING. HOPE TO CALL THIS AFTERNOON. AM PUTTING UP AT THE HOLLYBOURNE HOTEL


"Let him come, father," says Orabel, indifferently. "What is his presence to me? What would the attentions of a legion of such matter to one who lives but for the laurels of Fame?"


Chapter 2


First Impressions

"He's here. He's here, Orabel, and father has asked him to stay to dinner!"

Laura pursues her eldest sister excitedly into the sanctum which is given up to Orabel's studies. Orabel is not in the best of humours. She has spent the afternoon at Mount Athene reading a paper on "Hypothetical Syllogisms," but the eldest Miss Uff took exception to her theories, and the result has been an argument which has ruffled Orabel's placidity. Criticism has a tendency to render Orabel irritable. She has reigned as sovereign absolute in Hollyberry Hall, and the wholesome bitters of opposition are not at all to her taste.

"And, oh, Orabel, he's so handsome!"

"And, oh, Orabel, his hair is so curly!"

Orabel turns with dignity upon the twins of twelve, Carrie and Kitty. Etta and Nan, aged respectively ten and nine, who are about to offer enraptured criticisms upon the visitor, prudently close their mouths.

"I must speak to Miss Maberley," says Orabel, "about the sentimental bent and direction of your minds, Carrie and Kitty. Handsome -- curly -- and a member of the other sex! Your lack of mental ballast, of balance, is shocking! I see plainly that you children are learning too much poetry."

"I've only learnt the 'Psalm of Life' this year, Orabel," says Kitty in self defence, "and I don't even remember that. And I thought you'd like to know he is nice looking. Philip says he'll most likely be our brother."

"And, oh, Orabel, his arm is in a sling," says Annis, pitifully averting the indignation about to pour forth on Kitty's golden head. "And with whom do you suppose he came over from India? With Nigel Rutherglen! And Nigel has gone on to Devonshire to see his uncle there, but when he returns to Heron Chase, Dr. Kingdon is to stay with him there. So we are sure to see plenty of him. He has asked us a great deal about you, and we told him how clever you are, and all you have done at college. Do wear your black silk at dinner, Orabel. Do look your best."

The dressing bell rings just then, and Orabel rises and sweeps contemptuously past the excited little group. She cannot understand all their commotion about a guest, though strangers are rare in Hollybourne, and one fresh from India possesses natural interest for the children.

If he had written a book now, or had lectured to admiring crowds, or were an erudite professor, Orabel thought she might feel some slight interest in his company. But a young man coming to woo her! Nothing could be less to her taste!

Orabel has rather attractive hair, but this evening she dresses it in what she knows to be its most unbecoming style -- brushed straight and broad on either side of her head, and then taken up in a braided coronet, which, if intellectual looking, does not at all add to her attractions. But it is better that he should understand her character at once, that he should know she does not lay herself out to please the other sex, but lives up to her vocation of liberating woman from the bondage of generations.

Rejecting the suggestion of the black silk, she puts on a brown alpaca, which Philip asserts always makes him feel ill. Her only ornament is a cameo brooch, and her mirror assures her that she will meet this presumptuous doctor as a fitting type of woman at her highest, which, in Orabel's opinion, means superior to ideas of apparel and appearance.

Meanwhile, Harold Kingdon is pacing the conservatory that leads from the drawing room a little impatiently. He was deeply, fondly attached to his father, and none but himself can realise the solemnity of the promise by which he bound himself to fulfil, if possible, that father's dearest wish. He has devoted himself to his profession, and has never mingled much in society. The single ladies of the station have given him up as hopeless, but for some months now his thoughts have been wandering to Orabel Jancy as a possible companion for his life. He is now a little nervous and anxious as to his first interview with the girl whom he has promised to ask in marriage.

The Squire has already told him of Orabel's positive "No," but he was quite prepared for such an answer at first, and he feels it remains with him to render their acquaintance satisfactory and pleasant to the lady. He is inclined just now to congratulate himself on his position. The hearty, good-natured Squire is quite an ideal father-in-law, and the children here are bonnie and active enough to cheer the vision of one who has long been used to paler cheeks and more delicate looking juveniles.

Dr. Kingdon caused Annis, the second Miss Jancy, much humiliation of spirit by mistaking her for her gifted sister at first. He now feels he will be quite content if the lady he has crossed the seas to win resembles Annis in gentle movements, pleasant voice, and sweetness of expression.

Nigel Rutherglen, a near neighbour and old playmate of the Jancys, came of age about two years since, and has been travelling about for some time. His widowed mother thinks that travel is necessary to enlarge the mind, but she has been sorely lonely, and has of late almost counted the days till her son's return. At present she is with her brother near Ilfracombe in Devon, and Nigel has proceeded there.

The fellow-passengers grew very confidential on the journey home, and Nigel was made aware of his companion's hopes concerning the eldest Miss Jancy. Nigel has been in love and out again ever since boyhood, and he considers himself competent to advise the Doctor, albeit his senior, on the best mode of procedure. A balcony in the moonlight Nigel considers indispensable to success. Practising duets is also advisable, and the study of flowers in the conservatory.

Nigel has found offerings of chocolate also propitious, and White Rose is usually a favourite perfume for women. And of course none will overlook tennis -- but here Nigel remembers that Orabel never played tennis, and as the distinguishing points of her character rise to his recollection, he begins to wonder at the Doctor's taste. "But then, of course," says Nigel to himself, "Kingdon has never seen Orabel. Now anybody might take to Annis, if she were not such a quiet little thing, and if she knew anything at all about flirtation. I don't know but what I might have fallen in love with Annis myself before now."

Dr. Kingdon looks dubiously at himself in the tall mirror opposite the conservatory. He sees a tall, strongly-built figure, a quiet face, thoughtful and grave, and unfortunately his left arm fastened in a sling, a fact that to his active nature is a considerable trial of patience. He contrasts himself with the brilliant young officers whom the ladies of his station in India appeared to favour, with such as Nigel Rutherglen. His chances of success suddenly seem to him exceedingly small. He was never meant, he tells himself, for the drawing room, for association with the fair and gentle sex. Nevertheless, for the sake of his promise to his father, he has paid this visit to Hollyberry Hall, to stand his chance among the many admirers who doubtless offer homage to the fair Orabel

Philip and Laura are the first to appear. Laura, on the request of Annis, has been permitted by her father to join the late dinner, and she is full of eager questionings as to Dr. Kingdon's Indian servant, Bhagat, who is at present being regaled with curry and rice below.

"Here's Orabel," says Philip, hailing with a grin the advent of his aversion, the brown alpaca, "but she's all up in the skies today about a new book she's writing. She wants to show that everybody else's ideas about the motions of the moon are wrong, so we shan't get much out of her, I'm afraid."

The Squire appears just at this moment from the greenhouse, and hastily introduces the two. "My dear, this is Dr. Kingdon. This is my eldest child, Orabel."

The Doctor has prepared a complimentary speech about this long-looked-for occasion, but the words die on his lips as he stares at Orabel in such blank astonishment that Philip is in ecstasies, and Laura is a little indignant on her sister's account. Orabel seems to have made herself look twenty years older than she really is, and Laura is sorry to notice the presence of a pair of coloured spectacles which Orabel is wont to assume when desirous of being specially impressive, though her eyesight is remarkably good.

As for Dr. Kingdon, it takes him fully a minute to recover from the shock. He certainly supposed the lady who just then entered the room to be a maiden aunt of the Miss Jancys. And now he is told it is Orabel herself, whose age he has hitherto understood to be twenty-two years! And what a voice! The others are aware that Orabel is surpassing herself this evening, assuming an imperiousness even greater than her usual manner.

Kingdon does not know that Miss Jancy is a little overdoing her part for his benefit, and he sits positively aghast at the position in which he has placed himself. Has he not addressed to this lady a proposal of marriage? Has he not come here with the understood purpose of improving her acquaintance? But what would life be worth if shared with one so dictatorial, so unsympathetic, so ... so conceited? He cannot conceal from himself that he hears the ring of conceit in Miss Jancy's voice.

It has been his lot to know many a highly educated woman, and very agreeable, charming, and womanly they have proved themselves again and again. Even against women doctors he has no inward prejudice, for he has the greatest esteem and reverence for many such. He is sensible enough to know it by no means follows that a gifted brain implies excess of vanity. But in the present instance it is all too evident that the two things go together.

He is honoured by taking Miss Jancy in to dinner, and floored by her asking him, as soon as they are seated, how far he has advanced in the study of the calculus of finite differences.

"There is nothing like showing a man his ignorance," Orabel inwardly decides. "It puts, him then upon his proper footing, and convinces him we are no longer intellectual slaves."

"I am not much of a mathematician," says Kingdon with a faint smile, not caring to exhibit such knowledge as he possesses for the benefit of the listening group.

"Oh, Orabel knows all about that kind of thing," says the Squire proudly. "Optics, and mechanics, and astronomy, and magnetism."

"And hydrostatics," says Philip, "and acoustics and electricity and hydrodynamics and trigonometry and analytical geometry, and all the rest of it. They're only so much A B C to Orabel."

"When the mind of woman," says Orabel, after a preliminary cough, "escaped from the social leading-strings of habit, cuts the knot of intellectual difficulty, and soars into hitherto unvisioned space, then, from the glorious seed thus scattered abroad...."

"Aren't you getting mixed in your metaphors?" says Philip, suggestively.

His father reproves him for interruption, and Annis and Laura gaze reverently at their eloquent sister. Dr. Kingdon sees it is expected of him to render homage at the same shrine, but he sinks into silence, aghast at the predicament in which he is placed.

Orabel, meanwhile, has soared conversationally to the skies. Finding the visitor can claim little acquaintance with the planetoids she discourses concerning these heavenly bodies till even Philip is driven, abashed, from the field, and the course is open to her.

Bhagat, the Doctor's servant, is behind his chair, his admiring eyes fixed upon Orabel during her flow of speech. But Bhagat afterwards remarks to his master that the "Mem Sahib has the neck of a wrestler," which appears to be the Indian's impression of Orabel, alluding, probably, to a way she has in speaking of throwing her head slightly up and her shoulders backward, and displaying the proportions of the healthy neck and throat which support the erudite head.

After dinner, Orabel goes off to her observatory, a little bower crowded with telescopes, too far up for her to see Nan crying in the schoolroom over a sum that will not come right, and Etta over a long tear in a dress that has caught the door handle. But Annis, having tucked Poppy into bed, wades through the refractory sum and puts Etta on the track of mending the dress, and then goes down to sing her father to sleep with the old ballads he loves, while Dr. Kingdon, playing chess with Philip, finds his one thought of consolation in the fact that the Squire has told him Orabel has written her "No " to India.

"I will not act discourteously," is his decision. "I will wait here till Nigel Rutherglen's return, and then stay with him awhile as promised. But that visit over, I will leave the neighbourhood of Hollybourne at once and for ever, for, dear as is the memory of my poor father, it would be too terrible to redeem my promise by calling aught so unwomanly, so self-centred, as poor Orabel Jancy, by the name of wife!"


Chapter 3


A Private Conversation

Dr. Kingdon finds himself in somewhat of a dilemma. He is aware he is regarded by the Squire, by his own assurance on arrival, as Orabel's persevering suitor. Devoutly now does he wish he had waited to interview the lady before declaring to Mr. Jancy that he was anxious to fulfil his father's wishes. Doubtless Orabel herself supposes he is still in the same willing frame of mind. What an awkward, delicate position is his. How is he to explain to a lady that, on nearer acquaintance, all he seeks is her friendship?

Harold Kingdon is a blunt, straightforward man, and he decides to cut the knot of difficulty by a candid explanation. He promised the children yesterday to bring them some carved figures of Indian servants and artisans. Bearing these offerings, he goes over to the Hall next morning about twelve o'clock, mentally composing a speech which shall in future place him wholly at his ease in the company of Orabel.

The French windows of the music room are open, and occasional strains of "The Blue Bells of Scotland" are varied by Miss Jancy's argumentative tones and a tearful voice that sounds like Nan's. Orabel is instructing her sister in the principles of harmony by a sort of board with rods and running wooden notes, which the village carpenter has executed to her orders. It is Orabel's own invention, and meant to simplify musical instruction to the juveniles, but there are evidently a few slips in her own conception or in the carpenter's execution, for Nan's mystification is in the Doctor's opinion abundantly justified.

"You have no intelligence, Nan," says her sister, with a sigh. "The clearest and most objective explanations seem somehow lost upon you. Still, there is an improved system formulating itself in my mind -- a sort of chromatic kaleidoscope, calculated to be very helpful to you children. When Smithers can bring round his tools and get it made under my direction, you may perhaps make some progress. Now, get your 'All is lost now,' and let me see what you remember of the construction of the minor variations. Oh, Dr. Kingdon, I did not perceive you. I believe my father is out. This room is devoted in the morning to the theoretical study----"

But the parcel of toys is slipping from the Doctor's one available arm, and Nan, springing forward to help him, catches sight of the attractive native figures dropping out of the brown paper. The Doctor mutters something apologetic about having been attracted by the music, and Orabel, grieved to note how evidently her young sister abandons science in favour of dolls, is forced to conclude the morning's instruction, and to remark that she will call Annis, as it is her hour for solitary investigations in the study of the nature of volcanoes.

"Excuse me, Miss Jancy," says the Doctor, flushing a little, "but may I request the favour of a few minutes' private conversation? Will you take these figures to your sisters, my dear, and divide them as you please. I hope you will accept them from me. My visit this morning is to Miss Jancy, if she will favour me with her company for a space."

Nan scarcely heeds his last words. She hugs the figures to her heart, and departs enchanted to the upper regions, while Orabel seats herself resignedly, resolved to nip the wooing of this most audacious visitor in the bud.

Dr. Kingdon takes a swift survey of her. This morning, in a simple print and with her auburn hair neatly braided and curling a little on her brow in pretty, natural waves, she looks considerably more attractive than last night. The Doctor begins to perceive that there is a certain beauty about the long-lashed eyes and clever, intelligent features.

If only with all her attainments she had learnt to be sweet and womanly! If only, in addition to her brain, she had cultivated her heart a little more! Upon her face his eyes linger well satisfied, but a woman's face alone would never content the Doctor. She whom he calls his wife must possess a living soul.

"Miss Jancy," he begins, a little hesitatingly, "our position just now is unfortunately a little constrained, and I should be very sorry if my presence in the neighbourhood rendered you at all uncomfortable. I have promised to pay a visit at Heron Chase, and it is possible that you and I may meet frequently during the summer. Now, to put away all discomfort, all awkwardness, all constraint----"

"I assure you," interrupts Orabel, with dignity, "it has never occurred to me to feel constrained. Perhaps you are not aware, Dr. Kingdon, that my time and thoughts are occupied by a multiplicity of acquirements which really leave no leisure for such matters as apparently enter into your own consideration. It is well, perhaps, that you have given me the opportunity of plainly and verbally expressing my sentiments once for all. I believe my father told you yesterday that I sent an emphatic negative reply to your very astonishing communication. I cannot acknowledge my responsibility as to infantile arrangements. Arrived now at years of intelligence, and drinking daily at the fountain of knowledge, I have formed the deliberate resolve to live a life of celibacy, that I may the better devote myself to the amelioration of my down-trodden sex.

"In this determination I am joined by the ladies of the Mount Athene Association, and by my sisters. I trust that time will add very many, aflame with emancipatory zeal, to the ranks we have thus inaugurated. And I will not conceal from you, Dr. Kingdon, that apart from this resolve you could not in any case have been my ideal. Mine is a nature that must look up, not down -- that ever reaches out to the higher and better and nobler. I would not disparage your attainments, but I am myself somewhat of an author. Annis has several of my books, which you may like to look over. Well, I will say no more, but you will now perceive the utter impossibility of your hopes contracted in my days of infantile unconsciousness. I shall always be pleased to meet you as a friend, Dr. Kingdon, but here your aspirations must finally stop."

The Doctor has sat silent beneath the flow of Orabel's discourse, marvelling at her fluency of speech, a gift in which Miss Jancy has never been deficient. To be "friends and no more" is the wish of his own heart, but finding that Orabel imagines otherwise, and that she has taken the initiative in putting sentiment aside, he politely accepts the situation, content that it leaves him in the position of other ordinary acquaintances as concerns Orabel.

He now gives it as his opinion that woman's position is already far better than in bygone times, but still it is capable of very great improvement, and he expresses his sympathy with any movement that has for its aim the aid and elevation of the "weaker sex."

This is an unfortunate expression, which arouses Miss Jancy's indignation at once. "And pray, Dr. Kingdon, how are we the 'weaker sex?' Do you mean physically or intellectually? If physically, let me remind you of the Amazon race, braving all dangers, undergoing all fatigues, going forth victorious to the conflict, and demonstrating immortally woman's superiority in field and fight. And if intellectually, I need only mention the names of----"

"I assure you," says the Doctor hastily, "no one can hold your sex in more reverence than myself. I have no doubt that as their knowledge increases, women as a race will improve in health and physique, discarding the tight boots, heavy drapery, extremes of heat and cold which are so trying and injurious. And I do not deny that some of earth's greatest geniuses have been women. Of course, in all respects I, as a man, hold woman our superior. It would be most ungallant in me not to do so. At the same time, my professional experience and common sense alike convince me that ladies in general are the weaker sex. All the more need, therefore, for them to lean upon the stronger arm of man," he adds, a little mischievously, relieved from apprehension that Orabel will think he is continuing his addresses -- and disposed in his ease of mind for a little teasing.

"Lean on the arm of man!" exclaims Orabel contemptuously. "In the name of my sex, I should despise myself if I were capable of such weakness. Woman needs no masculine prop, Dr. Kingdon. Let her stand or fall alone."

"At present she appears to be falling," says the Doctor, good-humouredly, glancing out of the window at the youngest Miss Jancy, who has come in sudden contact with the lawn.

"Oh, Poppy is always falling about," says Orabel. "She needs more self-reliance. Oh, you need not trouble yourself about her. Annis is there."

Annis, seated in the summerhouse with a basket of mending at her side, hurries across the grass to Poppy, and kisses the knee on which the child vainly endeavours to discover a graze.

"Poor Annis!" says Orabel, with pity in her voice. "I set her some problems to do just now, but I see she has begun her sewing and given them up in despair. I do not know how it happened, but Annis never could get on at school. She is sadly backward for her age, and I know her deficiencies are very painful to her. I must just go and encourage her to wrestle with those problems till she is victorious."

"Oh, let her alone, Miss Jancy," says the Doctor, somewhat abruptly. "What are problems compared to the wiping away of the tears of a little child? Hers is a noble sphere, a glorious realm. She is evidently the joy and comfort of her home. I know very well that the all-wise Heaven denies to some women this realm of home. It is impossible to some to wield the beautiful domestic sceptre. Doubtless they are, or will be, abundantly compensated for the glory they have seemed to miss. But where a woman is set by Heaven in the midst of a home, I say she is at her highest in blessing, aiding, and guiding that home as your sister does. Woman never seems to me so much a queen as when enthroned upon family love."

Orabel stares at him for a while in mute surprise. Is he implying in herself a lack of the qualities which he rates so highly. Is Annis actually exalted by this stranger at the expense of "the clever Miss Jancy?" Orabel can scarcely believe her ears. It is the first time anyone in her presence, save Philip whose remarks are beneath notice, has ventured to hint that woman's kingdom is not always bounded by mathematical and scientific lines.

"I perceive," she remarks, with a smile of superiority, "you are one of those who would like to see women always making pies and dusting rooms, and hemming handkerchiefs, and all that sort of thing! Ah, well, it is not everyone who can prize the advantages of education. I cannot expect you, doubtless trained in the primitive seminaries of the East, to appreciate woman's new and spreading regions of culture and learning."

"I hope I underrate neither," says the Doctor, rather warmly. "And permit me to say I was educated first at Harrow and then at the London University. I was not trained in the native schools, as you appear to suppose -- though, indeed, the progress those schools are making now might be a little surprise to you. Excuse me a moment. I do not think Miss Annis ought to lift that heavy child."

For Poppy, taking advantage of her misfortune, has seized the opportunity to request to be carried to the orchard and regaled with cherries. At sight of Dr. Kingdon she forgets her tribulation, and slides down to the ground to inquire coaxingly if he has any more of those "pretty little dollies" at his hotel. Annis tells Dr. Kingdon, with a smile, of the children's delight over his Indian figures, and as the two are walking among the flowers they are joined by the Squire who takes the Doctor off to see his model dairy.

"An insufferable man," thinks Orabel, indignantly, watching the tall, strong figure out of sight. "So brusque and opinionated, so ... so ... wanting in all the qualities that make up the mind. I wonder how he managed to slip through his medical examination. Perhaps, at the time he passed, they were not so particular about the exams as they are now. Dear me, how impossible it would be for Orabel Jancy to look up to a nature like that! No, in the foolish days of my bygone girlhood, when I dreamed of a possible suitor, I always yearned for a man of intellect, of mental force, of consummate learning -- not a mere carpet-knight like this, concerned about domestic details like Poppy's falls or the little family duties which are all poor Annis feels capable of accomplishing. Well, I must get to my volcanoes, or the morning will be wasted and nothing added to my mental stores."

"Oh, what do you think, Orabel?" says Laura, meeting her in the hall with a glowing face, "I have just heard how Dr. Kingdon hurt his arm. Bhagat told cook yesterday. It has been hurt very badly, and for a long time he has not been able to use it. But now they think he can soon leave off the sling. Bhagat used to be the servant of a neighbour of the Doctor's -- a military officer. One day this officer was in a dreadful temper, kicking Bhagat and knocking him about. Some other Englishmen present only laughed, but Dr. Kingdon was very indignant, and stepped between, and a shower of blows fell on his left arm and shoulder, causing serious bruises and injuries. People wanted him to go to law against the officer who had hurt him, but he would not do that. He only said, as a Christian he could not stand tamely by and see the weak oppressed. Bhagat is devoted to him. Cook thinks he would die for the Doctor. Oh, Orabel, isn't Dr. Kingdon splendid!" Laura heaves a big sigh of regret. "Oh, dear, I wish you could have liked him. What a splendid brother he would have been! What a hero!"

"A hero because he interfered in a fight?" says Orabel, whose cheeks, nevertheless, have kindled a little to hear the story. "If he had written a treatise or discovered a planet you might call him a hero. As it is, Laura, I never came in contact with a more commonplace, undereducated person than this Dr. Kingdon."


Chapter 4


An intellectual festival

Mount Athene Club has been founded one year, and is about to celebrate its first anniversary. Members are invited to bring their friends, and Orabel, to whom the programme has been entrusted, is busy from morning till night arranging and rearranging the items. She has spent a long time drilling the good woman of the cottage in which the room for the club meetings is hired, as to the arrangements for the reserved seats and those which are free and for the benefit of the villagers.

Annis suggests sending up a few flowers from the Hall, but her sister has a horror of anything resembling a bazaar, and replies that the flowers of learning are adornment enough for the club. The younger girls and the governess are all to go. Laura is a little out of temper, having been invited to tennis elsewhere, but Orabel insists on all her sisters being present, and generously sends a reserved seat card to Dr. Kingdon, resolved to display to his astonished eyes woman at her highest possibilities.

Great excitement is caused among the members at the last moment by the rumour that Professor Dolibo -- the great Professor Dolibo, the author of Higher Walks in Astronomy and Intellectual Altitudes -- the Professor Dolibo of whom the German scientists made such admiring mention in last year's science Congress -- is staying for a while at the Rectory, and will probably be one of the audience.

Simultaneously with this announcement, causing pride and delight to each of the fair members of Mount Athene, comes the disappointment that the "Don," -- Miss Brierley of Minerva Cottage, a middle-aged, active-brained lady whom Orabel does regard with a little wholesome reverence -- is called to the metropolis on particular business, but she deputises Orabel to be her representative, and despite a few heart-burnings among sundry other kindred spirits, Miss Jancy feels herself quite in the proper place as occupying the chair.

The first part of the printed programme is richly adorned with sphinxes and various other learned-looking designs:


Report of the Mount Athene Club for the

Development of the Feminine Mind:

Read by Miss Jancy.

Memories of Sophocles. Original Poem:

by Miss Adelina Uff.

Cube-root on a New System:

Essay, composed and read by Miss Danders.

Mental Association,

Specimen Class in Memory:

conducted by Miss Uff.

Disquisition on Byzantine Commerce:

Miss Sylvia Figgins.

Exemplifications of Indeterminate Equations:

Blackboard demonstrations by Miss Uff.

Eulogy on Woman:

Lecture by Miss Orabel Jancy,

Hon. Sec. of the Mount Athene Club.

Following these items, a collation is to be served of tea and seed cake and mixed biscuits. Mrs. Soy, the woman of the cottage and caretaker of the club, has laid in quite a stock of these articles, and her children have been involved for some hours over intimate association with biscuits of interesting shape and appearance which are awaiting other lips than their own.


The Squire has been invited to lead the vote of thanks to the ladies for their entertainment and hospitality, but he has an engagement at an agricultural meeting elsewhere, so is compelled to forego this privilege. A well-filled carriage however sets out from Hollyberry Hall. Philip has escaped at the last moment by the remembrance that the Rector has set him an imposition which must be speedily commenced. Poppy is on the outside, and inside are Orabel, Annis, Etta, Miss Maberley, Laura, and Nan. The twins are walking, as Orabel has set them lessons in geology, and they are hunting for specimens of strata to submit to their instructress on the morrow.

Orabel and Miss Maberley do not get on very well together. Orabel mentally looks down on Miss Maberley as a mere "nursery governess," forgetting that the teacher has never had money or opportunity for the studies that the Squire's daughter can so easily pursue. Miss Maberley manages, however, to keep a widowed mother by her earnings as daily governess at the Hall, and she is happy in her situation, save for the somewhat frequent interference of "the clever Miss Jancy," who often summons her to a private interview, and sends her tearful away, convinced that Nan should long since have been in fractions, or Laura innocent of any danger of slipping in her dealings with analysis.

Miss Maberley knows the sort of thing that will go on during the drive, and she is not mistaken, for Orabel believes in teaching other people to be humble.

"Laura, give me the date of the commencement of the National Debt."

Laura is at fault, and Miss Maberley's cheeks crimson in sympathy with her pupil.

"Nan, what do you know of the laws of refraction? I presume you do study such subjects occasionally. Do they not, Miss Maberley?"

The governess bows assent, and tries to stimulate Nan to an answer, but Nan is removing a daddy-longlegs from the back of Poppy's dress, and declines to offer any opinion as to refraction just then.

"What do you know, Laura, of the foreign policy of Rome during the early Republic?" continues Orabel, as they drive swiftly onward under the lime trees and branching chestnuts. But Laura is sulking in memory of the lost tennis, and answers only with silent tears.

Under these circumstances, Orabel turns displeased from her sisters to bestow her undivided attention on Miss Maberley, who for the rest of the drive answers questions, with burning cheeks, as to "how far she has gone" in various ologies of which the lady stammeringly owns a knowledge dismissed by her interrogator as "next to nothing."

Annis tries now and then to direct attention to the wild flowers, the trees, and the sky, but back comes Miss Jancy to the charge, convinced that she is benefiting the governess by showing her there are spheres of thought to which some of her sex have already gloriously reached. All Annis can do is to slip her arm through Miss Maberley's and whisper that very few people are so clever as Orabel, and that she herself gets dreadfully nervous when questioned too closely on points like these.

For the purposes of the club, two rooms of the cottage have been made into one, and Mrs. Soy and her family occupy the rest of the little tenement. Mr. Soy is signalman at Hollybourne Station, and is rarely at home -- a fact pleasing to the Mount Athene ladies, who as a rule have an objection to the sex that has enslaved their misguided sisters. Of course to this rule there are exceptions -- notably in such a case as Professor Dolibo.

Miss Adelina Uff, the poetess of the club, has cleverly described the great scientist and author in an original ode -- which, she tells everyone, she would not have him see for the world -- as "a sun of knowledge rising on these dales, Illumining with science all the vales."

Orabel is pleasurably excited at the notion of presenting the great man with copies of her books. Perhaps he will accept the dedication of the work on which she is busy at present, Luna and her Revolutions; or, The Motions of the Moon.

The reserved seats are fairly well filled. It is a busy time just now, however, with farm workers, and the villagers are represented in the free seats by the old ladies from the almshouses, and Benny Soy, a youth of twelve, supposed for some time to be taking notes of the discourses, but afterwards found to be engaged upon various original designs in a piece of putty.

The rose flush rushes to the face of Annis as she walks up the room by Miss Maberley's side. Two gentlemen are seated in the second row: Dr. Kingdon, free for the first time in their acquaintance from the sling, and Nigel Rutherglen, her old playmate, brown-faced, merry-eyed, more manly looking than of yore. Orabel, too, is conscious of their vicinity, and feels elated at the chance of figuratively annihilating the man who has dared to underrate the value of her intellectual strides.

Bhagat stands still and observant behind his master's chair. It is his favourite position, and Orabel has generously extended the invitation to the Indian, thinking that in some way what he hears at Mount Athene will do him good.

She is about to open the proceedings, when an admiring murmur is heard among the members. The Rector, a tall, scholarly-looking, very quiet man, of whose attainments Orabel herself is slightly in awe, has just entered the room. He is accompanied by a gentleman who can be none other than the great Dolibo himself. Of Italian birth, the Professor is dark, slim, keen-eyed, and lofty-browed. He wears slightly tinted glasses, and it is a little disappointment to the ladies that he is short, but they console themselves by remarking "What eyes!" and reflecting on the towering stature of the great man's intellect.

Orabel makes a dignified inclination in the direction of the Professor. It is a gesture that escapes his notice, as he is occupied in trying to place himself so that he may avoid Poppy's somewhat unsettling stare. She then unrolls a lengthy manuscript, and proceeds in an impressive voice to read aloud the report. During this, Nigel Rutherglen, in an audible whisper, is heard coaxing Annis to slip out and have some tennis in the Danders' court, which is invitingly near. Two of the old ladies from the almshouses, hard of hearing, exchange glances of enjoyment and admiration as the report proceeds, and directly Orabel takes her seat there is loud and unanimous applause.

The "Memories of Sophocles" is not so successful a poem as could be wished, owing to the fact that the second Miss Uff has copied it out on various sheets of paper, some of which she has omitted to fasten together, and others are in their wrong places. In some natural annoyance, Miss Adelina unfastens the sheets and lays them before her on the desk, whence a breeze through the side window blows them down to the reserved seats at intervals.

Miss Adelina's only consolation for the confusion of delivery thus occasioned, is found in the fact that each time the sheets escape, Professor Dolibo returns them with a very courteous bow. It is something after all to be the recipient of such unmistakable homage from one whose name in the circles of knowledge is as a household word.


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