May Goldworthy; A Sequel to “The Queen O’ the May.”
From Victorian Literature
Beale, Anne. “May Goldworthy; A Sequel to ‘The Queen O’ the May.’” The Girl’s Own Paper. 3, 131 (1882): 625-627; 3, 132 (1882):641-643; 3, 133 (1882):661-663; 3, 135 (1882):689-691.
“May Goldworthy; A Sequel to ‘The Queen O’ the May,’” a short story by popular Victorian author Anne Beale, appeared in The Girl’s Own Paper (GOP) in 1882. Beale (1816-1900) was an English novelist and poet who spent many years living in Llandilo, Carms, off the southern coast of Wales. Her work shows a rare appreciation for Wales and includes Traits and Stories of the Welsh Peasantry, Rose Mervyn of Whitelake, and Gladys the Reaper.
“May Goldworthy; A Sequel to ‘The Queen O’ the May’” fits nicely into Beale’s tradition of Welsh patriotism and the virtues espoused by The GOP. The heroine May is raised by her grandfather in the Welsh countryside until her father rediscovers her and takes her abroad to develop her talents as a vocalist. “May Goldworthy” picks up the story when May returns to her beloved Wales to sing for a charity and perhaps fall in love with her beloved cousin, Meredith. Repeatedly, May favorably compares the music and countryside of Wales to that of the more sophisticated Continent and finally chooses to marry Meredith and live with her family in Southern Wales forever. May’s ecstatic praise of Wales gives voice to Beale’s own feelings about her adopted country.
The story also espouses The GOP ideas about family and duty. The GOP was written for middle class Victorian girls who would have been expected to obey parents’ wishes and create pleasant homes as part of the cult of domesticity. May embodies this ideal as she cheerfully tends to her ailing father at the expense of her burgeoning career and lives only to make his life easier. For his part, he lives to dote on May and loves her in an ideal father-daughter relationship.
Finally, “May Goldworthy” touches lightly on class, albeit in a highly romanticized way. May was raised by her respectable but poor extended family, and does not quite know what to do when she returns to Wales as both an accomplished singer and the daughter of a gentleman. At first Cousin Meredith thinks May considers herself too good for him, and May herself is unsure how to act with the middle class, but her sweet nature wins everyone over so that class no longer matters. She is treated with respect by the gentry but welcomed by her humble family, and she continues to work with the lower classes in the city. Although this scenario is not realistic considering the Victorian’s rigid divisions between the high, low, and middle classes, it reveals The GOP’s middle class philosophy that being accepted as a lady is a matter of kindness and not necessarily rank.
Of its own merits, “May Goldworthy” is a sweet, sentimental story about a girl who wins her way in the world by being kind to everyone. The language may be a little outdated, but the characters are still endearing and the message of kindness is applicable even today.
May Goldworthy; A Sequel to ‘The Queen O’ the May’
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Chapter I. Returned From Her Travels.
More than a year has passed since we parted with Madeline Goldworthy. We left her at Derwen surrounded by all she loved best; we find her in North Wales filling the important post of prima donna at a large concert, given in aid of the sufferers from a great colliery explosion. Since we saw her last she has spent many months abroad with her father, but her heart has ever been, and still is, in her beloved Wales. As she sits on the broad platform, the centre of observation and attraction, she looks sweet and simple as ever, but so thoroughly a lady that the large assembly before her ask if she can possibly be the young girl whom many of them remembered at the competition at the Crystal Palace. But the wonderful tissue of golden threads that interweave so perplexingly about her head convinces them. She is surrounded by the best musicians, both vocal and instrumental, of the principality—amateurs and professionals—yet she is not nervous. Although she has not sung in public since that first essay with the great Welsh choir, she is neither shy nor perplexed, for she is going to use her talent for the benefit of others, and she has resolved to do her best. Song is as easy as speech to her, and flows from her more readily, so she concentrates her mind on what she is about to do, and when her turn comes, she performs her party easily and without embarrassment. She ignores self, and thinks only of the maimed colliers yet alive, and widows and orphans of the dead.
The music is principally Welsh, so she is in her element, and when the instrumentalists begin with an overture composed of native melodies, she can scarcely keep her seat for enthusiasm. She has not heard such, to her, soul-stirring strains for at least twelve long months, and although she has been in Italy and Germany, and listened and learnt with loving will, she returns to the airs of her childhood with honest affection. And then the harps! the dear harps! How charmed she is to hear them again!
Her first song is “The Rising of the Lark,” and she might almost be the bird itself, so sweet and penetrating is her voice. And while it soars aloft or sinks earthwards, she is thinking of the cause for which her “long-drawn cadences” arise, and ignoring self, touches all hearts. She is applauded, encored, and made to sing again and again. With a simple grace that is singularly her own, she acknowledges the compliments lavished upon her, and before the concert concludes has sung, not only in the native Cymric, but in English, German, and Italian. Let those who remember the “Queen o’ the May” when she performed her innocent, pantomimic dance at Derwen Fawr, think of her, now she has grown up, as the same artistic and unconscious May as then. Let them also greet her as one whose affections are as strong for the old friends and the old scenes as when she dwelt among the mountains of her beloved Derwen.
“Where is she? What has become of her?” sounded in the concert-room when the concert ended.
“She left as soon as she had sung her last song,” replied the conductor. “She has made the concert a great success, and is certainly a charming singer.”
Yes; May had disappeared alone through a private door, concealed from observation by a veil and light cloak. She had hastened down the principal street of the town to a small house in its suburb, where she found her father.
“Dear papa, how have you got on? Have you taken your medicine, and did Mrs. Lewis bring you the beef-tea?” she said, entering a pretty room that looked upon a glorious view of mountains.
“Yes, my darling; I have performed all your orders with miraculous exactitude,” replied Mr. Goldworthy, putting his arm round her as she stooped to kiss him.
He was lying on a sofa, evidently out of health. But his malady was more of the body than of the mind though touching both. His face was thin and pale, but his eyes were clear and calm, having lost the restless expression they had when May was restored to him.
“What an endless concert it has been!” he said, when May, having taken off her things, busied herself at the tea-table, laid against her return. “I tried to paint a little, but strength failed me; then I made an effort to read, and wanted your opinion of the book. I am sadly selfish, but every minute seems an hour when you are away.”
”Dear papa, I thought it would never come to an end. It would have been over long ago but for the encores. As Mr. Minister says, they wanted enough for their money,” returned May, laughing.
“They encored my darling, doubtless! Why was I not there? Had you much applause? If so, what will great-grandfather say when he reads the papers?”
“I am afraid he will think me very bold. But I could not refuse, dear papa. You said so. And if I have helped to raise money for the explosion fund, I feel almost sure he will forgive my singing in public. My heart was with that sad explosion at Derwen years ago all the time I was singing; and it seems strange that Cousin Meredith should have had a narrow escape of his life in this North Wales explosion, as he had in the South.”
“He is always were duty calls. If I had been like him, I should be a rich man now, instead of a poor one. But I am rich in you, my child.”
“And I in you, dear papa. And we shall have plenty of money when you are able to paint again and I begin to teach.”
This conversation was interrupted by the entrance of May’s old friends, Mrs. Richards and her two unmarried daughters.
“Why did you run away?” they asked, breathlessly. “Such a success, Mr. Goldworthy! You would have been proud could you have been present.”
“Hush!” said the father, with a glance at May. “Take not the bloom from the peach, the blush from the rose. I am glad she did not disappoint you, Mrs. Richards,” he continued. “It was kind of you to come so far out of your way, first to take her to the concert, and now to visit us again.”
“It was kind of you to let her sing, and of May to be so ready, and—to do so well,” said Mrs. Richards.
The fact was, that Mr. Richards and his family had now taken up their abode at their handsome new house on their North Wales property, which was distant about six miles from the county town at which the concert was held. Having heard from Mrs. Everton that May was in London again, they procured her address, and wrote to ask her to come and sing for the benefit of the miners. Her father was much out of health, but roused himself so far as to beg she would not refuse. She, thinking most of him, demurred; but it ended by his declaring that he believed the bracing air of North Wales would restore him to health, and so she gladly acceded to Mrs. Richards’s request. That lady took the small lodgings for them in which they were located, and to which they had come the previous evening; and she has called that same morning to chaperon May to the concert and introduce her to her fellow performers. All arrangements concerning the songs to be sung had been made previously, by letter, and May’s fame as an accomplished vocalist had preceded her, though the instrumentality of Mrs. Richards.
“Will you have some tea?” asked May, doubtfully; for she never forgot the old distinction between the ranks of the inhabitants of the two Derwens.
“I shall be thankful for it, May,” replied Mrs. Richards, “for we shall not get home in time for dinner. You must come and see us at our new house, Mr. Goldworthy. It is even more among the mountains than this.”
May rang for cups, and an elderly Welshwoman appeared, upon whom she looked already as an old friend. Indeed, she longed to throw her arms about her and embrace her for her grandmother’s sake. It was like paradise, she said, to hear her speak in the native language, and she declared it sweeter than Italian, more expressive than French, and as capable of inflection as German. Her father repeated this to Mrs. Richards with an amused air.
“I am so glad she is so patriotic,” said Mrs. Richards. “But I am afraid you do not like Wales, Mr. Goldworthy, or you would not have quitted it so quickly when you last visited us at Derwen.”
“The fact was, that when Meredith left I could not endure the stillness,” returned Mr. Goldworthy. “You may remember that he was suddenly called away to superintend the works elsewhere, and although my darling devoted herself to me and was like a good fairy in that lonely place, I grew too restless, that when Minister came we agreed to travel for the general good. He argued that it would be for my Madeline’s benefit to visit foreign lands, and I covered my own selfishness under that cloak, for I did not wish her altered or improved out of her own sweet self.”
“Dear papa, you forget!” interjected May, colouring.
“I do. We are in the habit of complimenting one another in private, Mrs. Richards, until we quite forget ourselves in public. She thinks me the first of artists; I look on her as the pearl of—everything, in short; and we tell one another so until we quite believe it.”
“Everyone at Derwen was surprised at your leaving so suddenly. When Mr. Morrison came back he would not credit it,” said Mrs. Richards.
“I am afraid I offended them all,” signed Mr. Goldworthy, glancing furtively at May. “We rarely hear from Meredith. Where is he now?”
“In the North of England, I believe. Mr. Richards hopes to settle him in time, but he is so clever and useful, that he has become a kind of general-inspector. His father has taken his place at Derwen, and occupies the house he had.”
“Uncle Laban at Glenpant!” exclaimed May. “Cousin Meredith in England! How strange it seems. Great-grandfather says his sight is bad, and writes but seldom. He has not told us this.”
“It has only just happened, May, since we came north, and the changes have been so rapid during the last twelve months that I scarcely know where I am myself,” laughed Mrs. Richards.
The events were briefly as follows: —May and her father only remained a few weeks at Meredith’s house. They were cheerful and happy so long as he was with them, and passed their days sketching and visiting their friends and their evenings in his pleasant company. But when he was suddenly called away, May soon became aware that her father’s spirits sank, and symptoms of his old depression returned. She wrote to her friend, Mr. Minister, and spoke to her grandfather about it. The former at once proposed a foreign tour; the latter took her in his arms, blessed her, and bade her ask the Lord for direction and strength.
“It seems as if I could never leave you again, dear great-grandfather,” May had said.
“We must be parted soon in the course of nature, May fach,” he had replied. “We will thank our Heavenly Father that we have met again, and thou wilt do they duty by thy earthly one.”
And so, with hasty adieux, ill-suppressed tears, and heartfelt regrets, May again bade farewell to the scenes and friends she loved so dearly, to visit lands of which she had scarcely dreamed.
When Meredith returned, his temper, which was naturally hasty, was roused. He said to his grandfather that he knew Goldworthy was a proud man, and he believed that he was tired of intercourse with his wife’s humbler relatives. Meredith was himself proud and sensitive when he imagined that his superiors by birth slighted him, so he spoke as he felt. Evan had his suspicions, also; born when Goldworthy had taken away his sweet Mary, nurtured during all the intervening years, but crushed down when his son-in-law brought May back to stay amongst her kith and kin. Still, not only he, but all May’s friends, believed, and not quite unnaturally, that her father, who was a gentleman by birth and education, found a residence amongst them unpleasant, and had left hastily accordingly. They made no excuses for the nervous and morbid temperament, for they did not rightly understand it; but they felt aggrieved. There had been an unnatural stiffness in the leave-takings of Aunt ’Lizbeth and the cousins, which May would have failed to comprehend but for her grandmother, who could not restrain the pertinent remark—
“This comes of our Mary’s marrying out of her own station. Once people do go to London, ’tis all over with ’em.”
And when May was far away Evan failed to convince either Peggy or the other members of his large family that she was quite the May of her early days. Even Meredith would have it she was altered just because she and her father had left his hospitable abode so suddenly. He even fancied that they had done so to avoid his seeking a nearer and dearer connection with them; and when his grandfather told him that Mr. Goldworthy had echoed his wishes on that head, he laughed bitterly, and assured the old man that his son-in-law was more ambitious for May than he had been for himself; and as to May, her feelings were purely cousinly; indeed, how should they be otherwise, since she was still but a child?
Old Evan signed, and prayed that all might come right, though he should not live to see it.
But there was undoubtedly an estrangement which May felt rather than understood. She wrote “home,” as she phrased it, regularly. She wrote a long letter to Meredith, at her father’s request, explaining, as best she might, their hasty departure; but she felt that his reply was strained. It pained her sadly, but she did not comment upon it to her father, whose temporary depression demanded cheerfulness in those around him. Neither could she allude to it to Meredith himself, for she thought it possible he might have met with some new “Miss Edith” in his wanderings, and so was preoccupied by her. She could but remember how that she, his little cousin, had been but a childish confidante in those days, but that, being now a woman, he might be more reticent.
“I should love him just as dearly were there a dozen Miss Ediths,” she had said to herself, over and over again, with tears in her eyes.
Nevertheless, she had been absent from Wales more than twelve months, and had felt intuitively that there was some sort of cloud between her beloved country and herself which she could not penetrate. But she had not much time for selfish meditations. Her father, and, for that much, her friend Mr. Minister, were never happy when she was absent from them, and even her letters were written by snatches.
“I supposed Meredith is a rising young man?” asked Mr. Goldworthy of Mrs. Richards; for he was unconscious of this estrangement, and had often thought of those words of old Evan’s, when they were so happy together at the little farm.
“He has risen, Mr. Goldworthy,” replied Mrs. Richards. “He is received everywhere and much considered. His talents and honesty combined have won him the esteem of everybody we know.”
“I am so glad!” exclaimed May, involuntarily.
“And the young ladies are all in love with him because he is so good-looking,” put in Miss Richards.
But May could not reiterate, “I am so glad,” to this information, but only wished she could see him again.
“How did you think great-grandfather was when you left Derwen Fawr, Miss Bertha?” she asked, as if to cover the confusion she felt at the idea of the young ladies admiring Cousin Meredith.
“He seemed just the same as ever, and managed to get to church in the waggonette every Sunday. We always picked him and Peggy up. And Dai Bach is very good to them—almost like you, May. He manages to play the organ, and the vicar and my sister are making a collection to send him to London to have him regularly trained.”
“That is what Mrs. Richards wished to do for me,” said May, with a smile. “Dai Bach is quite taking my place. How can great-grandfather get to church now that you have left Derwen Fawr?”
“Nothing has been changed there yet. My father goes occasionally, and my sister sees to things. The schools and the institute are the difficulty; but your uncle Laban does his best, and when Mr. Morrison is in the neighbourhood he superintends everything; he has such a head for organisation, papa says.”
“What makes my darling look sad?” suddenly interposed Mr. Goldworthy, as May’s expressive face underwent many changes.
“Not sad, dear papa,” replied May, with a radiant smile, rising, and laying her hand on his shoulder. “We were only talking of great-grandfather and the dear old scenes. I am glad not sad, for Miss Bertha says he is really quite well.”
“We will go there again, some day,” he said, with a sigh.
“Your father promises to come and spend a few days with us, May,” said Mrs. Richards, rising to go, for the carriage was at the door. “You must keep him up to it. He tries to get out of it by saying that you expect Mr. Minister; but you must bring him also; we have plenty of room. We will send for you next Tuesday, if we do not hear to the contrary. Thank you for singing so beautifully. You must bring your music, and your father shall do what he likes, and we will all help to nurse him.”
“Thank you, oh, thank you!” cried May, as Mrs. Richards kissed her affectionately.
She went to the door to see them off. She heard a few words in Welsh from the coachbox, and, looking up, saw an old friend.
“Mr. Gwillem! How do you do? I am so glad to see you again,” she cried, and stretched arm and hand to meet the coachman’s, who had been an important personage in her old world.
“Is that one of my darling’s friends? Then he must also shake hands with me,” said her father, and shook Gwillem’s hand, to the amazement of the bystanders and, perhaps, slightly to the annoyance of Misses Richards.
“Now we are alone again we will resume that article on art,” he said, wearily.
“No, dear papa; you must come for a walk with me. I have been all day in the crowded concert-room, and long to wander into the sunset glow. Look at it flushing the mountains and flooding the river!”
“As thou wilt, sweet poetess,” replied her father; and in a few moments their steps were turned westward towards the rapid river that foamed among the mountains.
Chapter II. Clouds Clearing.
May had some difficulty in persuading her father to accept Mrs. Richards’s invitation; indeed, she shrank from the visit herself. Still, she reckoned it a positive duty to comply with the wishes of friends who had been so kind to her, though she felt that it would be strange to become a guest of those by whom she must have been always considered an inferior. She packed her own and her father’s small boxes, but on the settled Tuesday morning Mr. Goldworthy declared his inability to fulfill his engagement. He was, he said, too nervous for society.
“Dear paper, remember that you told Mrs. Richards that you had left Glenpant because it was so quiet,” pleaded May. “Will she not think you contradictory if you refuse to join her cheerful family party?”
“Perhaps so. But at Glenpant I was always reproaching myself for your dear mother’s wrecked life, and everyone I met seemed to be asking me, ‘What have you done with sweet Mary Morrison?’ Here it is different, for there are no relations.”
“Here is the carriage, dear papa,” exclaimed May, in despair. “What are we to do?”
“Send it back, my darling, with an apology. I really cannot go.”
The landlady was in the doorway, and understood May’s difficulty. She at once passed it on to the coachman. He dismounted, and asking a man who stood by to hold his horses, went, hat in hand, into the sitting-room.
“Beg your pardon, sir, but I am ordered not to wait. You are expected to luncheon,” he began.
“I am truly sorry, but I am quite incapable,” returned Goldworthy.
“Couldn’t possibly return without you, sir. As much as my place is worth,” said the coachman, who had received a hint from Mrs. Richards previously.
“What am I to do?” asked Goldworthy, hopelessly.
“Come at once, dear papa. You will be strengthened by the drive and refreshed by pleasant company. Never mind your coat. The other is in the portmanteau, and you can change it when you get there. It is really impossible to send back the carriage”
After a little further opposition, May and the coachman prevailed, and Mr. Goldworthy was seated in the carriage. The modest luggage was soon up, May by her father’s side, and they were off. But this little scene will give the reader an idea of May’s life since she left Glenpant. Her father was what is called “hipped,” and needed constant rousing. May’s prognostic concerning the drive proved true, and the mountain breezes and glorious scenery revived him as if by magic. By the time they arrived at their destination he was another man, and May was radiant with joy because he was thus transformed.
Plâs Elain, Mr. Richards’s new house, was a handsome mansion backed by mountains, and situated near his slate quarries. These, as well as shared in various mines, constituted his wealth in North Wales, and he was well-known as a man of substance. Although Mr. Goldworthy declared the house too new to be picturesque, and May thought with regret of the sweet, peaceful, antiquated house her kind friends had tenanted in the south, they both forgot all else in the hospitable reception they met with. No sooner were they in the hall than May uttered an exclamation of delight, for she was welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. Everton and their little girl.
“Dear sir! dear Miss Edith! I am so glad,” she cried, a hand extended to each, at which they laughed, and she remembered that she had returned in imagination to Derwen.
Her father was scarcely less pleased than herself at meeting these, his best friends in London, but whom neither had seen since their return from the Continent. Mrs. Richards and her other daughters received them just as cordially, and soon conducted them to their rooms, which were near one another. Mr. Goldworthy changed his coat in no time, and looked spruce, if still artistic, as he and May descended the broad staircase together.
It turned out, to May’s uneasiness, that all the neighbours and many of the performers at the concert had been invited to meet them; some to luncheon, others to dinner, part one day, part the next. Not that she was uneasy on her own account, but on her father’s. Always simple and self-possessed herself, she was not afraid of the people she was introduced to, because she neither aped nor cringed, but was always natural. But he was peculiar, and avoided what is called company, and disliked being flattered merely because he had won name and fame as an artist. He, however, soon set her at ease by joining in animated conversation, first with one, then with another. She had scarcely realised before how charming her father could be; and could not resist whispering to him, “Dear papa, how well you look! How good you are!”
“It is all your doing, my darling,” he replied. “And, perhaps, in part the coachman’s.”
They both laughed, and he recited the little scene at the lodging so amusingly that everyone else joined.
It is not necessary to tell how May was caressed and admired, not only for her sweet singing, but her sweeter self. She thanked everyone with the utmost simplicity for their kind expressions, and sang to please them from morning to night. There was, indeed, much music; for she was not the only accomplished performer invited to Plâs Elain, but she was the most attractive. Mr. Everton took her father on sketching expeditions, and thus, to the ill-concealed chagrin of both, they were separated.
“My good friend, you must lose her some day,” said Mr. Everton, when the devoted father complained that May had not come with them.
“I will never be parted from her while I live,” was the reply.
They had been two days at Plâs Elain, and they were to leave on the morning of the fourth. Mr. Richards had been absent all the third day, and he was not expected back to dinner. The party was therefore restricted to the family, and Mr. Everton took the master’s place at table. May sat near him, Mrs. Everton on her other side. Mr. Goldworthy was placed by Mrs. Richards, and entertained her and her unmarried daughters by foreign gossip.
“When we are all back in town again you will come and see us at once, May,” said Mr. Everton.
“And help in the Crystal Palace teas,” added his wife.
“Oh, I long to do something for the children of the pantomimes,” replied May. “You remember, dear sir, when you rescued me from the stage and the union, and sent me to my dear great-grandparents. How well I remember that parting at the railway, and all that passed afterwards—and your kindness, dear Mrs. Everton!”
“And your dancing, and singing, and doll!” laughed Mrs. Everton. “What has become of Terpsichore?”
“I have her still,” said May, blushing. “She is a good friend, for she reminds me of my childhood, and especially of great-grandmother. I took her abroad with me; and, indeed, the Welsh costume is as pretty as the Italian.”
“You are a true patriot, May,” laughed Mr. Everton.
“Oh, the whole wide world cannot compare with sweet, wild Wales!” she cried, enthusiastically.
At this moment, to the general surprise, Mr. Richards entered.
“I did not expect to be so soon,” he explained. “I have brought a friend with me. I hope you haven’t quite cleared the dishes. Stay where you are, Everton; I shall be only too glad to be allowed to eat instead of carving. We have had a hard day’s work, distributing money and seeing to the wounded. Some more plates, Johnnes.”
While Mr., Richards was speaking, May’s eyes were fixed on the door, and before he had concluded she had risen from her seat impulsively, and hurried toward it with the words—
“Cousin! Cousin Meredith!”
“May! It is possible? Can it be you?” was the greeting she received in return.
Her extended hands were soon clasped in those of Meredith, and both forgot, for the moment, the place and the hour. Mr. Richards had planned this little surprise, having abstained purposely from telling Meredith whom he was to meet.
The confused greetings that ensued did away with all embarrassment, if there were any, and when Meredith finally approached Mr. Goldworthy, he was able to meet him without any display of the agitation which he really felt.
“Meredith, my good friend this is a delightful surprise,” said that gentleman, grasping his hand. “Why have you not written? We have been in despair, my Madeline and I.”
“Explanations after dinner if you please, gentlemen,” broken in Mr. Richards, who was a man of business, and would have no loss of time.
So the new arrivals sat down: Meredith between the two Misses Richards and opposite May, the master of the mansion at his wife’s side.
“Don’t let us interrupt the dinner; we will catch you up, as the children say in their tasks,” said Mr. Richards, decidedly, and he as obeyed as was his wont.
But May’s appetite was gone. Meredith had spoilt her dinner for that day. She could only look at him—think of him. In vain Mr. and Mrs. Everton pressed her to eat.
“Indeed, I cannot,” she said, simply. “I am so happy. We have not met for more than a year. But, dear sir, don’t you think he looks ill? And so much older!”
“His life is an anxious and responsible one, May,” replied Mr. Everton. “He certainly is altered, but, I think, for the better.”
“Ah, that could not be,” said May, with a smile. “Cousin Meredith must always be the same.”
“He certainly is not an old man yet, May. He cannot be more than seven or eight and twenty,” laughed Mr. Everton. “Yes, Morrison, we are making personal remarks,” he added, as he caught Meredith’s inquiring eyes.
The young man coloured and continued his conversation with Miss Bertha. It was rumoured in those parts that Mr. Richards had such a high opinion of him that he would not object to him as a son-in-law, albeit Miss Bertha was slightly his senior. Still, as May remarked to herself, she looked as young as he did.
“Why did you not join us abroad, Meredith?” asked Mr. Goldworthy across the table. “I left word at Glenpant that we should expect you.”
“It was quite impossible,” returned Meredith; and May, who knew every inflection of his voice, fancied the response was cold.
“My Madeline also looked for you. We talked much of Cousin Meredith,” continued Goldworthy.
“Young men who have their way to make have no time for idle travel, sir,” put in Mr. Richards, “and Morrison has not let the grass grow under his feet, I can tell you.”
“I admire resolution and perseverance beyond everything,” sighed Goldworthy. “If I had possessed them, I should have been a different man.”
“We have not all the same physical energy and health,” said Meredith; “mental vigour is almost useless without them.”
“Thank you for making my apology,” returned Goldworthy, with a look at Meredith so affectionate that he must have been obtuse not to read it; but he was obtuse.
In the evening May was planted at the piano as usual, and had no time for a private word with her cousin. But he was near her—at her side—turning over the leaves of her songs, joining in glees, choruses, hymns, and the old tunes that all the party had sung together at Derwen hundreds of times.
“This is almost like practising for the great competition,” said May. “Dear papa, what a time that was!”
“A blessed time for me, my darling!” replied her father, whose hand was on her shoulder. “I should have been in my grave, or—”
“Hush, hush, dear!” cried May, suddenly striking up a lively Italian air, to which he hummed a refrain, and the words of which, in patois, he was afterwards prevailed upon to sing.
And so the evening of the reunion of May and her Cousin Meredith passed.
The following morning they met again at breakfast, but he and Mr. Richards disappeared immediately afterwards, and May could not even manage to inform him of their plans. She was disappointed, for it seemed so unnatural; “but then,” she thought to herself, “all that is merely conventional is unnatural, and I supposed he and I are growing conventional. Oh! I am thankful my dear papa and Mr. Minister are unconventional.
She and her father were pressed to prolong their visit at Plâs Elain, but Goldworthy positively declined. He was as eloquent in his thanks for the hospitality shown him as even May could desire, and left behind him several valuable sketches that he had taken during his stay, and which were subsequently framed and hung, but not “skyed.” Mr. and Mrs. Everton accompanied them on their return journey, and left them at their lodging, exacting a promise that they would visit them at Sydenham as soon as they got back to London.
“That is over. I am thankful!” exclaimed Mr. Goldworthy, as soon as he and May were alone.
“But you enjoyed it, dear papa?”
“Yes, really. But I saw nothing of my darling. The friends were too kind, too appreciative. They engrossed you wholly. Have they spoilt my Madeline? I trow not. But I am not ungrateful. They were kind, and I liked them. But Meredith was not himself.”
“No, dear papa,” replied May sadly. “I supposed the world alters us all. He was the same and yet different.”
“Can we have offended him?” asked the father.
This question was to be answered, ere long, by Meredith himself, who arrived about tea-time. May chanced to be out of the room when he came, so the two men had a brief tête-à-tête.
“My dear Meredith, I am thankful you have come,” began Goldworthy. “We have been thinking and talking of nothing but you since our return here We cannot understand in what way you are altered. Perhaps you can enlighten us.”
“Altered? Really— —” returned Meredith, and paused, colouring to his hair-roots.
“You see, my friend, there are changes so imperceptible that they can only be felt. A look, a word, a gesture conveys them, and yet you can lay hold of nothing tangible. Often it is a succession of negatives that arouses one’s doubts. For instance, you have not written; you have not made an effort to join us; you have not kept alight the torch of friendship of you own free will. This for twelve months! Now that we have met again, you seem—forgive me if I am wrong—you seem reserved, cold, distant—altered, in short. You know how sensitive my Madeline is, and how well she loves Cousin Meredith. Although she does not say so, I am assured that her tender soul is vexed. Have we offended you? and if so, how?”
This straightforward question perplexed Meredith. He hesitated, as he made an attempt to reply to it, stumbled, and fell, as those who hesitate often do. He found, to his surprise, that Mr. Goldworthy was not conscious of having given cause for his taking offence, and wondered if there really were one.
”I should be so glad to set it right before my Madeline comes in,” suggested the anxious father. “I am tolerably indifferent to the fluctuations of friendship myself, but cannot endure that she should suffer from them.”
“Then, sir, why did you take her from my house so suddenly?” broke out Meredith. “Why did you remove her, almost without explanation, from those who loved her dearly, although they were only homely countryfolk? She belongs to us, of right, almost more than to you. Her grandparents nurtured her, we all took her to our hearts, she loved us, and, but for the journey to London, would never have left us. Why must the people of the great world rob us of the little world of our fairest flowers?”
“Remember she is my daughter,” said Goldworthy, humbly. “What you say pierces my heart, for I have done all you say. But, indeed, my friend, I meant no wrong. Even when I carried off her sweet mother, it was for love of her.”
“And what of those from whom the branch is torn, sir? I leave her, like the sunshine, in my poor home; I return and find it empty and dark. I hear only that her father wills to remove her, and I—I can but believe that it is because he knows I love her.”
“Meredith!” exclaimed Goldworthy, starting up and laying his hand on the young man’s shoulder, “this is a misconception. I felt my old melancholy returning when you left us. I feared for Madeline—for myself. I wrote to Minister, who knows me, and he it was who arranged the foreign tour. If you but understood how well I loved her mother, sweet Mary Morrison, you might imagine how the streams, the hills, the woods, the very flowers of her native vales recalled her, and filled me with self-reproaches. They call me ‘hipped,’ and so I am; but it is by periodical returns of early memories. Hush! Here she comes. Scatter the clouds that lie between her and you as you will—as you will!”
“Cousin Meredith!” exclaimed May, as she came in. “Oh, I am glad!”
“All is well, my Madeline,” said her father. “You and Meredith must take a walk together after tea.”
And May knew, by Meredith’s frank face and loving greeting, that all was well, and before the sun went down started with him for a ramble among the mountains.
Chapter III. Finished.
Once more at Mr. Minister’s pretty house at Brompton. May and her father returned there from North Wales at its owner’s special entreaty. He insisted that there was room for all, and that he was sadly lonely without them. May was truly a damsel in request. Wanted in town by parent and friend; wanted in the country by lover and relatives. But, as we once ventured to predict of her, she was found where duty called. Duty, at that time, lay in applying her talents to practical purposes. Mr. Goldworthy, though improving in health, was still incapable of much work. He painted fitfully, and at long intervals, and was especially advised by his physician not to force his powers, but to allow them to recover themselves. Mr. Minister assured May that he never expected perfect restoration, but May’s faith was stronger, and she said that if it was God’s will, he would be quite himself again.
So she strove to supply part of the deficiencies resulting from their uncertain position. She was told that if she would appear in public as a professional vocalist, she would make her fortune. But she shrank from this, and so did her father for her. She argued that she could not devote herself to him and the public both, conscientiously, since he required so much of her time, and that particularly of an evening, when the uncompromising public would want her; so she sought and obtained some pupils. She also sang occasionally at private parties, where her lovely voice and charm of person and manner won her instant favour. To these her father would, by invitation, accompany her, and his pride and pleasure in her made him forget himself, and become in his turn a centre of attraction.
The artistic house at Brompton also drew artistic guests; and by degrees May not only found herself the admired of her father and friend, but of their circle. We will admit, by the way, that she received and refused more than one offer of marriage at that time of her life, remembering the evening walk among the mountains with her cousin.
Indeed, she never forgot what passed between them on that occasion, the substance of which must be related for the further elucidation of her history.
She and Meredith, at her father’s special desire, wandered forth towards the brawling stream that flowed from the mountains to the town. They were soon beyond the precincts of the town and deep in the wild country that they both loved. As they walked on, almost in silence for some time, there rang in his ears the worlds of her father “Scatter the clouds that lie between her and you, as you will—as you will;” and when they were in the rare solitude of a mountain gorge, not far from the roistering torrent, he spoke.
“Dear Cousin May, I have been a proud, vain, jealous fool,” he began, impetuously. “I believed that your father took you away from amongst us because he was ashamed of your old friends, and feared that you might love us too well. We all thought this except grandfather, and our Welsh blood grew hot, and we waxed angry, and I fear I must have seemed to you cold, and distant, and changed.”
“Oh, Cousin Meredith, surely you mistake yourself,” said May, fixing her eyes upon him.
“I mistook your father, but not myself,” he replied.
“Poor papa!” sighed May, her voice expressing pain. “He felt there was misunderstanding somewhere, and I—I knew it. But indeed, Cousin Meredith, I thought you had too keen a pity for him to misdoubt him—or—or me.”
The reproachful quiver of the voice went to Meredith’s heart.
“Forgive me, dear May,” he resumed, “if I misdoubted even you. Your new world is so fair and plausible that I fancied you sometimes pined after it, and were, therefore, nothing loth to hurry back to cultivation and refinement under your father’s wing.”
“I!” ejaculated May. “What do you mean, cousin? Are not you cultivated, and has not great-grandfather a most refined soul—ready, quite ready, for heaven?”
“Dear May, your words and looks reproach me.”
“Do they, cousin? It is unintentional. But, oh! if you knew how I long for the dear old friends and scenes—how I pray to see great-grandfather again before he goes up yonder, you would never have thought those cruel thoughts, or said those unkind words. And as to my dear papa, sadness sometimes overwhelms him, so that he is not master of himself. It was so when he hurried away from your nice—pretty—”
Here May paused, for tears were in her eyes, and her full heart stayed her speech. Meredith took her hand and entreated her forgiveness. He had never before brought tears to her eyes—never, to the best of his recollection, given her pain. He tried to make her understand that it was pride, and, he feared, jealousy—yes, even of her father; but he saw that her innocent mind could not conceive so strange a feeling in one who had been her hero and friend all her life. So then he told her of a stronger, deeper, intenser feeling that had mastered him and distorted his imagination, and he asked her to spend a lifetime with him in those scenes where their happy childhood had passed.
Let those who can understand our Queen o’ the May picture her sweet and radiant face at such words as these from one whom she had loved all her life. But even at such a moment, when all she most desired was outspread before her, she thought of others.
“Oh, Cousin Meredith” she exclaimed. “You know—you know—how glad it would make me—but I cannot leave my poor papa, and he—he would go, perhaps, melancholy mad in the silence of the country.”
“We will ask him, dear May,” he said.
“No, you must not ask him, for he would at once say ‘Yes,’ because he loves me so,” she replied, with a smile so sweet and sunshiny that Meredith wondered not at his own or her father’s love.
“It is hard that—” began Meredith, and checked himself. He was going to add, “that your father, whom you have known but for a few years, should come between you and happiness.”
“Nothing is quite hard, cousin,” she rejoined, “and all will be right again now that we understand one another. For the rest, we must wait.”
It was late that evening when they returned to Mr. Goldworthy, and they found him pacing the room in restless anxiety lest some harm should have happened to his Madeline. He saw that she was safe and happy, and that sufficed him. He was too absent to make further inquires, and Meredith respected May’s wishes that, for the present, at least, no revelations should be made to him. But they were a happy trio that night, and all clouds had melted into thin air that had previously intervened between them and the clear blue sky.
And this was the state of affairs when May and her father once more took up their abode with their friend Minister, and shared the expenses of house and housekeeping with him. While they worked at their artistic callings in London, Meredith laboured at his more utilitarian undertakings in Wales, and so Time, with his rapid wings, sped on. Mrs. Everton procured May several pupils at Sydenham, which took her to the house of her kind friends once a week, and enabled her to engage in the work she was so desirous of undertaking among the children of the pantomimes and ballet. She never forgot her early days and associations, and she devoted such money and time as she could spare to aiding those who were struggling into the doubtful career from which she was, providentially, rescued. In this her father assisted her, and they might often be seen in strange and poor quarters seeking out distressed and neglected children or young girls, whose histories reminded them of her own. Thus they became acquainted with many of the sad sights and sounds of gigantic London, and said to one another, even with tears, that they could not, and would not, spend one vain farthing while tens of thousands of their fellow creatures immediately surrounding them wanted the common necessaries of life.
“I cannot feel gay here as in the country, dear papa,” she said. “It seems to crush me when I think of the sorrow and the poverty that cannot be cured. At Derwen everyone helped one another, and the fresh air and the birds and streams comfort us; but here, were the poor live, it is so close and dark that it must stifle them.”
“God is everywhere, my darling,” sighed Goldworthy; “and He knows—He knows! He even restored you to me, sinner that I am.”
“And under Him, we owe it to the great Welsh choir, dear papa. But for that I should not have come to London, and Mr. Minister would not have recognized my shock head,’ said May, laughing merrily.
“Yet my Madeline loves her wild Wales best!” sighed the father. “When did you hear last from Cousin Meredith?”
“Only a few days ago, dear papa. He was then at Glenpant, and said great-grandfather had actually been staying two whole days with Uncle Laban.”
“He is so bright and cheerful that it is a pleasure to be with him, my darling. Had he remained at home I should not have had a melancholy fit.”
“A poor compliment to me, sir!” said May, shaking her pretty head in affected displeasure, while she felt a strange hopefulness at her heart.
But hopes and fears, plans and counterplans were suddenly stayed by the serious illness of Mr. Goldworthy. He had been overworking. We have said that his labours were fitful as were his moods. He had begun a large picture from sketches taken abroad, and both his own will and May’s were bent on its completion. Minister alone warned them to “take it easy.” But in this instance his warnings were unheeded, and, as he was much from home, could not be often repeated. May was delighted to find what energy her father was able to throw into his work, and encouraged him to persevere at all times and under all circumstances. She watched him, read to him, sang to him while he was at work, as she had done during the progress of that first successful picture; and now, as then, he declared that if it was worth anything it was due to his Madeline. It was, of course, to be exhibited, and had to be finished in time for presentation at the Royal Academy.
The eve of the last day for sending in the pictures arrived, and it was not finished. He worked, so to say, day and night, and stood, with May at his side, putting in the final touches on the very morning of the said day.
“There!” he exclaimed, throwing down his brush.
“Beautiful! It is perfect, dear, dear papa!” said May, throwing her arms round him.
But those frail arms failed to hold him. He fell down on a couch, happily near at hand, and fainted. May rang the bell violently. She thought he was dead. When the servant came they managed to lay him on the couch and to procure water and restoratives, which, happily, revived him. When he smiled on his terrified child, she cried, “Thank God! my dear, dear papa!” burst into tears, and threw her arms about him. Then she bade the servant fetch a doctor, assuring her that she was not afraid to be left.
“Finished, my darling,” said her father, returning her embrace, and striving to rise.
But he could not. His look turned from May to his painting. It seemed to her hopelessly sad.
“It shall go, dear papa. It shall be in time,” she said, assuringly. “Drink this wine. You have worked too hard. It was my fault. I was too proud of my dear papa.”
Her tears fell into the glass she held, and he smiled as he drank the wine with which they mingled.
The doctor arrived, who was known to them both as a friend of Mr. Minister’s.
“The general complaint—overwork,” he said, glancing from his patient to the picture. “We must get him to bed. I will help you, my dear.”
The kind doctor—all doctors are kind—assisted Goldworthy to his room, and he was soon in bed. He inquired where Minister was, and as May did not know, said she must have some other friend with her, as he could not allow her to be alone. She assured him that she had no fear; and he, not liking to alarm her, inquired of the servant the address of some of her friends. She gave him that of Mr. Everton. He said he would himself telegraph that gentleman. He prescribed all sorts of remedies, promised to return shortly, and went to the nearest telegraph office.
Neither May nor any of her friends had realised her father’s constitutional as well as nervous debility, and she now reproached herself for inciting him to exertions of which apparently he was not capable. She stood by bedside tearful but prayerful. She watched him, and administered the remedies and food prescribed until he fell asleep; and then she watched on, dreading from his evident exhaustion that he might pass away before her eyes. She was holding his hand, and dared not move for fear of startling or disturbing him.
She knew not how long she remained standing by his bedside, her hand in his; but she was herself startled by the quiet entrance of Mrs. Everton. She laid a finger on her lip, but he did not awake.
“Ask Mr. Everton to see to the sending of the picture,” she whispered, and her friend Edith again disappeared.
Mr. Everton was waiting downstairs, and men had arrived who had been already hired for the transport of the picture; so he superintended its packing and placing in the van waiting at the door. This was fortunate, for Goldworthy’s first words on awaking were—
“Finished, my darling. Is it in time?”
“It is sent, dear papa,” replied May, cheerfully. “Now you must take nourishment to strengthen you after so much labour. For my sake.”
“Anything for your sake, my Madeline,” he returned, forcing himself to swallow what she presented.
The doctor came again and Minister returned, so there was a consultation of friends below stairs. It appeared that he had simply needed rest and quiet when, urged by his own excitability and Minister’s friendly anxiety, he had travelled, painted, and frequented society. Thus do we often misunderstand not only ourselves, but our friends. He was now prostrated, mind and body, and the doctor said that his recovery was doubtful. It must depend, under all circumstances, on good nursing, freedom from anxiety, and rest. May knew that the money received for the first great picture was nearly gone; still, she felt that she must put off her lessons in order to be with him always. Minister, though generous, was not rich, and May’s independent nature would fain hinder her from being burdensome to him. However, her faith failed not, and in her simplicity she trusted, not only in God, but in her friends. In a hurried letter to Meredith she told him of her father’s illness, but did not allude to their circumstances.
For two or three days the invalid continued in a weak, drowsy, half-conscious state. The doctor shook his head, Minister groaned in spirit, the Evertons came and went, and May watched and prayed. On the evening of the third day she was swallowing a hasty cup of tea in the pretty drawing-room while Minister was with her father, when she was startled by the opening of the door, and the ejaculation of her name in a dear, familiar voice. It was Meredith. Her joy and her tears may be imagined. He had come to her as soon as he had received her letter.
“I will tell dear papa you are here. I must go to him,” she said, almost as soon as their salutations ceased.
She found her father awake, and watching for her return. The news of Meredith’s arrival roused him.
“Let him come,” he said, feebly, and they were the first words he had spoken all that day.
May fetched her cousin, who was soon holding her father’s hand, while she stood by his side. The patient looked anxiously from one to the other.
“Is all well between you?” he asked, feebly.
“All is well, dear sir,” replied Meredith.
“Then—if I die—you will take her back—to—Derwen, and if I live—I shall—be happiest and best—with you.”
At these words May’s hand joined those of her father and Meredith, and that compact was sealed.
Chapter IV. Welcome Home.
There was a great stir in and round the Derwen collieries. One after another the men came up from the pit grimy and besooted, went to their homes up the ravine or elsewhere, and emerged from them clean and spruce as soap and water and best clothes could make them. The women and children were also in holiday attire, and it was apparent that some unusual event was to take place.
The collier lads were actually wreathing the old black crane with evergreens, and the young men of the institute were erecting some sort of triumphal arch across the road that led from it to Derwen Fawr, Mr. Richards’ old place. It was autumn, and the fields were ripe for the harvest. The great oaks round about the institute were beginning to change their brilliant green garments for gorgeous red and yellow; the heather and fern-clad mountains were also adorning themselves in purple and crimson; and, to complete the garish picture, scarlet poppies flaunted among the corn by the wayside and in the festal wreathings. These latter were completed as evening approached, and many women and children stood about the grassy road in front of the institute, and on the hillock beneath the wreathed crane at the mouth of the pit. The sun had nearly reached the mountains, and was scattering his golden arrows down upon our world, and kindling into light and warmth the trees, meadows, and brooks of favoured Derwen, as well as the animated, expectant faces of its inhabitants.
“The train is due at six; they will surely be here before seven,” remarked one of the colliers to Dr. George, who was superintending.
“It will be a good time for us, let them come late or early,” said another. “It isn’t like the same place since Richards, Derwen Fawr, and his family went north. Nobody to see to the schools, or the institute, or anything, for the vicar can’t be everywhere.”
“Here they are! here they are!” shouted at advanced picket of young boys, who began to cheer and halloo vigorously as a waggonette was seen coming along the by-road towards the institute.
The cheers were taken up by the colliers, and their wives waves waved their handkerchiefs and shouted also. The horses seemed inspired by the hurrahs, and drew the carriage so briskly that it was at the institute in no time, and suddenly pulled up underneath the floral arch that spanned the road.
“Let us get down, if you please, Uncle Laban,” said a cheerful voice, and in another minute May and Meredith stood amongst the old friends who had assembled to welcome them.
There was a great shaking of hands and much congratulation, Dr. George being first.
“I am wishing you joy, yes seure, May fach—I ask your pardon, Mrs. Morrison,” said an old woman who hobbled towards May. “When was you married?”
“Just three weeks ago, Shanno,” replied May, blushing beneath her pretty hat. “And oh, we are so glad to come home. Yes, Derwen is home, Davy,” she added, as a collier thrust out his hand. “What a lovely arch! Look, Meredith. They have put a wreath round the old crane. Do you remember that it was just here where you came to meet me and great-grandfather when first I came to Derwen?”
“I remember, May. And yours was the first sixpence given towards our institute,” returned happy Meredith.
“And it is buried under the foundation-stone,” broke in a bystander. “Three cheers for Morrison, Derwen Fawr, and his wife.”
And the oaks and hills re-echoed to the hurrahs.
“How kind you all are—how very, very kind!” said May, tears filling her eyes. “How delightful is Wales! How dear the oaks and hills of Derwen!”
“If you will drive on, father, we will follow on foot,” said Meredith to Uncle Laban, who was charioteer, and who had some difficulty in restraining the horses, as well as the fears of ’Lizbeth, his wife, who was located in the waggonette.
They drove on accordingly.
“Where was you married, my dear?” asked old Shanno, with persistent curiosity.
“In London, Shanno,” blushed May, while a score of women pressed round to listen.
“And who was marrying you?” asked one of them.
“Mr. Everton, who married Miss Edith. You remember him. It was he who sent me to great-grandfather when I was a little girl,” said May. “They have been very good to us.”
“Yes seure. All Richards, Derwen Fawr’s family are good Christians. So are all the Morrisons, the Lord be praised,” said a man who was holding Meredith’s hand.
“Thank you, every one, for the beautiful Bible you gave us,” spoke Meredith, at the top of his voice. “We hope to do our best to follow its precepts.”
“Now let us go on, Meredith,” whispered May.
Arm-in-arm went the happy couple, surrounded by the crowd of friends, shouting and hurrahing beneath the rosy hues of approaching sunset. They found another floral arch over the modest gate that protected the drive to Derwen Fawr, and above it, in Welsh, the motto, “Welcome Home.” It seemed very strange to both that this was to be, henceforth, their home. Still Meredith led his beloved bride proudly up the drive, surrounded by their old friends.
“Dear great-grandfather!” exclaimed May, breaking away from him at sight of a little group that stood outside the house awaiting their arrival.
Foremost of this group was old Evan, leaning on his staff, with Peggy on one side and Dai Bach on the other. May’s arms were round Evan in a moment, and the first words she heard on the threshold of her new home were, “God bless you, my children! Now lettest thou they servant depart in peace,” from Evan’s voice, in her beloved Welsh.
“Bless us, there’s pretty you do look, May fach!” was Peggy’s greeting, as they embraced each other.
“It is my turn now, my darling,” came from the porch, and May was in her father’s arms.
“And mine next, for I have made your house mine inn,” sounded from her friend Mr. Minister’s cheery voice.
“I am nowhere,” broke out Meredith, grasping hand after hand, as the happy family party went into the house, amid the cheers of the friends outside.
“We have a tea and meeting at the institute. You must look in by-and-by, Meredith,” said Uncle Laban, and he departed accompanied by Dai Bach.
“Dear papa! dear cousin! I mean—” said May, who was for ever calling her husband, “Cousin Meredith.”
“You mean mio sposo carissimo,” supplied the father, laughing. “What was my darling about to say?”
“That it is so beautiful that I think it must be fairyland, and Meredith is still the fairy prince,” she replied, looking round at her pretty drawing-room, in which loving hearts and hands had placed all that was attractive and artistic.
“’Tis mighty fine,” cried old Peggy. “And only to think of Mr. Richards putting Meredith in his place, and making him manager of everything—above his own father and grandfather. And you, May fach, to be a grand lady, who came here with nothing but that doll, Terp, and an old wreath.”
“Ah!” sighed Evan, “I don’t forget how I threw them into the fire. But the Lord’s ways are not ours. Praise His holy name.”
“Dear great-grandfather, how good you were to me!” said May, her arm round his neck.
“Come you and take off your things,” said ’Lizbeth . “There’s Leah and little Gwen in the kitchen helping to get supper, and it will be ready directly.”
While May first pays her cousins a visit in the kitchen, then runs from room to room admiring her house, and finally takes off her travelling dress in a charming room overlooking the brook and distant hills, we must give a brief sketch of what happened after Mr. Goldworthy’s serious illness.
That he recovered, his presence at Derwen proclaimed; but his recovery was slow, and he continued very weak after he was pronounced convalescent. His one great desire seemed to be to witness the accomplishment of what he had begun on his sick bed, and to see his child married. Circumstances favoured this desire. His picture sold for even a larger sum than its predecessor, and enabled him to defray all the expenses of his illness and his other liabilities, and to give May a handsome sum for her outfit and start in married life. Mr. Richards had for some time wished Meredith to take possession of Derwen Fawr; but, as a bachelor, he had been averse to so doing. But when he became engaged to May, he spoke to Mr. Richards about it, and it was settled to the general satisfaction that he should at once inhabit the house and prepare it for the reception of his bride. He found the interval between April and the end of September sufficient for this. A portion of Mr. Richards’s furniture remained in the house, and to this was added all that love could imagine and his means allow. But package after package arrived from London, sent by Messrs. Goldworthy and Minister, so that what his hardly-earned savings were insufficient to purchase, their love supplied.
It was arranged, by general entreaty and consent, that Goldworthy should live with his children, having the privilege of joining his friend Minster at Brompton when he liked. In return for this, Minister was to find a country home at Derwen both “in season and out of season,” if so be true hospitality is ever to be found “out of season.” To inaugurate this mutual benefit, the two friends came to Derwen together a few days after the wedding. The said wedding took place from Mr. Minister’s house, and was quiet but pretty. Our May Queen had hawthorn mixed with her bridal wreath by her father’s wish. Her bridesmaid was Mrs. Evertons’ wee daughter, a little maiden of five, and she, her mother and father, were the only guests at the modest wedding-breakfast, save Cousin George, who was Meredith’s best man. The bride and bridegroom spent their honeymoon abroad, and positively affirmed, when questioned by Mr. Minister, that no cloud had darkened that happy period. Thus, having filled up the time while May disrobed we will follow her fortunes a little longer.
Everyone insisted that May should take the place of honour at supper, so she sat, all blushes and smiles, between her father and grandfather, the latter having a special chair provided for him. He was hale still, though he had passed his fourscore years. Meredith had his mother and grandmother on either side of him; and here we may state, once for all, that neither he nor May was ever loth to own as those best and nearest, the less educated, but worthy, relatives by whom they were immediately surrounded.
“Thank God that we have thee and Meredith amongst us for aye,” said old Evan. “She has been a good child to us all, sir; she will be a good wife,” he added to Goldworthy.
“What she has been to me, and how she nursed me, sir, no tongue shall say,” returned Goldworthy
“Oh, don’t, if you please!” ejaculated May.
It was a sociable and joyous meal, and after it was over, Meredith whispered to May that he must leave her for a short space to go to the institute.
“May I not go too?” she exclaimed. “Cannot we all go?”
The word passed round, and it was settled that the party should adjourn to the institute. Evan declared that he felt quite young again, and could walk as many miles as the distance was yards. They went accordingly, and were received with cheers. The tea, which had been given by the Morrisons, father and children, was over, and the concert had begun.
“Give up your seat, Dai Bach; we must have May. She will play and sing for us,” circled round.
And May went, quite naturally, to the harmonium and took the place vacated by Dai Bach. Meredith and the rest followed. All were soon absorbed in that absorbing art, music, and bride and bridegroom were soon leading the choirs as of old, while Laban swayed to and fro as leader, old Evan beat time, and Peggy quavered whenever she could.
“Play Mendelssohn’s ‘Wedding March,’ dear May,” whispered Meredith. “You played it when Mr. and Mrs. Everton were married. It was a good beginning. Play it for us.”
“Do,” pleaded Goldworthy, who overheard.
“Is it not vain, dear Meredith—dear Papa?” she asked. “It is so exultant.”
But the suggestion somehow got wind, and everyone asked for the Wedding March. Obedient May began it, trembling slightly. But Meredith’s hand was on her shoulder, and her soul rose to the triumphant strain. She played her own epithalamium gloriously, but there was moisture in her eyes as she did so. The cheers that succeeded dried them.
The music was followed by speeches from the colliers, all congratulatory, to which Meredith replied from an overflowing heart. The substance of what he said was, that he and his wife would strive to do their duty, God helping them.
Then old Evan rose, and, spreading out his hands, prayed for a blessing on his grandchildren and their assembled friends.
And thus ended the “welcome home.”
- ↑ William Williams, “Beale, Anne,” Welsh Biography Online, The National Library of Wales, 2007, Web, 28 Oct. 2008.
- ↑ A place where coal is worked; a coal-mine (OED).
- ↑ Hair.
- ↑ "An attempt, endeavour" (OED).
- ↑ "Plural airs de cour. A type of short strophic song with lute accompaniment, popular in France in the late 16th and 17th centuries" (OED).
- ↑ "Of or pertaining to the Welsh people and language" (OED).
- ↑ "That uses gestures, mime, or mimicry; expressed through mime" (OED).
- ↑ A village in the Swansea City in Southern Wales.
- ↑ "To have or exercise the charge or direction of (operations or affairs); to look after, oversee, supervise the working or management of (an institution, etc.)" (OED).
- ↑ Welsh for “little” (Celtic Ocean, Ed. Barrie Howell, 2008, Web, 28 Oct. 2008).
- ↑ "An expression of kind wishes at the parting of friends, sinking into a mere formula of civility at parting. Good-bye! farewell!" (OED).
- ↑ "Social communication between individuals; frequent and habitual contact in conversation and action; dealings" (OED).
- ↑ "A four-wheeled carriage, made open or with a removable cover and furnished with a seat or bench at each side facing inwards and with one or two seats arranged crosswise in front" (OED).
- ↑ "Society or organization instituted to promote some literary, scientific, artistic, professional, or educational object; also, the building in which the work of such a society is carried on" (OED).
- ↑ "Case or bag for carrying clothing and other belongings when travelling; (originally) one of a form suitable for carrying on horseback; (now esp.) one in the form of a stiff leather case hinged at the back to open into two equal parts" (OED).
- ↑ "Affected with hypochondria; morbidly depressed or low-spirited" (OED).
- ↑ "Having the elements or qualities of a picture; suitable for a picture; spec. (of a view, landscape, etc.) pleasing or striking in appearance; scenic . . . pretty in an undeveloped or old-fashioned way; charming, quaint, unspoilt" (OED).
- ↑ "The mainland of Europe, as distinguished from the British Isles" (OED).
- ↑ "Trim, neat, dapper; smart in appearance" (OED).
- ↑ "To imitate, mimic pretentiously, irrationally, or absurdly" (OED).
- ↑ "To behave obsequiously or with mean submissiveness; to show base or servile deference" (OED).
- ↑ "An actor, esp. in comedy or burlesque, who expresses meaning by gesture or mime; a player in a dumbshow" (OED).
- ↑ "Habitual or customary usage, custom, habit" (OED).
- ↑ "One of the folds of a folded sheet of paper, parchment, etc.; esp. one of a number of folds (each containing two pages) which compose a book or manuscript, a folio; hence, the matter printed or written thereon" (OED).
- ↑ "A musical composition, of English origin, for three or more voices (one voice to each part), set to words of any character, grave or gay, often consisting of two or more contrasted movements, and (in strict use) without accompaniment" (OED).
- ↑ "A dialect spoken by the people of a particular region (esp. of France or French-speaking Switzerland), and differing substantially from the standard written language of the country" (OED).
- ↑ "To believe (a statement, etc.); to give credence to, accept as true or trustworthy" (OED).
- ↑ "A private conversation or interview between two persons" (OED).
- ↑ "Such as belongs to home or is produced or practised at home (esp. a humble home); unsophisticated, simple; plain, unadorned, not fine; everyday, commonplace; unpolished, rough, rude. (Sometimes approbative, as connoting the absence of artificial embellishment; but often apologetic, depreciative, or even as a euphemism for ‘wanting refinement, polish, or grace’)" (OED).
- ↑ "Ability to act or affect something strongly; physical or mental strength; might; vigour, energy; effectiveness" (OED).
- ↑ The original reads: "roystering." ("Blustering, boisterous; associated with noisy revelling; uproarious, wild" (OED)).
- ↑ "To change by growth or increase, to become" (OED).
- ↑ "Not at all unwilling" (OED).
- ↑ "To utter suddenly" (OED).
- ↑ "To cease speaking, break off one's discourse; to pause, stop or hesitate before speaking. Said also of a discourse" (OED).
- ↑ "Affected with or constitutionally liable to melancholy as a medical condition; accompanying melancholy" (OED).
- ↑ "Holding or advocating utilitarian views, principles, etc.; aiming at, supporting, or advancing utilitarianism; also, preferring mere utility to beauty or amenity" (OED).
- ↑ "Of persons, their attributes, actions, etc.: light-hearted, carefree; manifesting, characterized by, or disposed to joy and mirth; exuberantly cheerful, merry; sportive" (OED).
- ↑ An art institution in London.
- ↑ "A bodily ailment, indisposition, disorder (esp. of chronic nature)" (OED).
- ↑ "Sure" (OED).
- ↑ Italian: my darling bridegroom (WordReference.com, WordReference Dictionaries, 2008, Web, 27 Oct. 2008).
- ↑ "Chiefly in commercial and formal contexts: = messieurs" (OED).
- ↑ "The period of the year during which a particular place is most frequented for business, fashion, or amusement; esp. the time (now May to July) when the fashionable world is assembled in London" (OED).
- ↑ "Thorny shrub or small tree, Cratægus Oxyacantha, N.O. Rosaceæ, extensively used for forming hedges; the White-thorn. It bears white, and, in some varieties, red or pink blossom (called ‘may’)" (OED).
- ↑ "Free from disease, healthy, in good health, well; recovered from disease, healed, ‘whole’" (OED).
- ↑ "Four times twenty, eighty" (OED).
- ↑ "Ever, always, continually; at all times, on all occasions" (OED).
- ↑ "A keyboard instrument, the tones of which are produced by free metal ‘reeds’, tongues, or ‘vibrators’, actuated by a current of air from bellows, usually worked by treadles; a kind of reed-organ" (OED).
- ↑ "A nuptial song or poem in praise of the bride and bridegroom, and praying for their prosperity" (OED).
Edited by: Ward, Jessica: section 1, Fall 2008