II.1. Lurking Mischief
1. From Ozias Midwinter to Mr. Brock.
"Thorpe Ambrose, June 15, 1851.
"DEAR MR. BROCK--Only an hour since we reached this house, just as the
servants were locking up for the night. Allan has gone to bed, worn out by our
long day's journey, and has left me in the room they call the library, to tell you the
story of our journey to Norfolk. Being better seasoned than he is to fatigues of all
kinds, my eyes are quite wakeful enough for writing a letter, though the clock on
the chimney-piece points to midnight, and we have been traveling since ten in the
"The last news you had of us was news sent by Allan from the Isle of Man. If I
am not mistaken, he wrote to tell you of the night we passed on board the wrecked
ship. Forgive me, dear Mr. Brock, if I say nothing on that subject until time has
helped me to think of it with a quieter mind. The hard fight against myself must
all be fought over again; but I will win it yet, please God; I will, indeed.
"There is no need to trouble you with any account of our journeyings about the
northern and western districts of the island, or of the short cruises we took when
the repairs of the yacht were at last complete. It will be better if I get on at once to
the morning of yesterday, the fourteenth. We had come in with the night-tide to
Douglas Harbor, and, as soon as the post-office was open; Allan, by my advice,
sent on shore for letters. The messenger returned with one letter only, and the
writer of it proved to be the former mistress of Thorpe Ambrose--Mrs. Blanchard.
"You ought to be informed, I think, of the contents of this letter, for it has
seriously influenced Allan's plans. He loses everything, sooner or later, as you
know, and he has lost the letter already. So I must give you the substance of what
Mrs. Blanchard wrote to him, as plainly as I can.
"The first page announced the departure of the ladies from Thorpe Ambrose. They
left on the day before yesterday, the thirteenth, having, after much hesitation,
finally decided on going abroad, to visit some old friends settled in Italy, in the
neighborhood of Florence. It appears to be quite possible that Mrs. Blanchard and
her niece may settle there, too, if they can find a suitable house and grounds to let.
They both like the Italian country and the Italian people, and they are well enough
off to please themselves. The elder lady has her jointure, and the younger is in
possession of all her father's fortune.
"The next page of the letter was, in Allan's opinion, far from a pleasant page to
"After referring, in the most grateful terms, to the kindness which had left her
niece and herself free to leave their old home at their own time, Mrs. Blanchard
added that Allan's considerate conduct had produced such a strongly favorable
impression among the friends and dependents of the family that they were
desirous of giving him a public reception on his arrival among them. A
preliminary meeting of the tenants on the estate and the principal persons in the
neighboring town had already been held to discuss the arrangements, and a letter