The Two Guardians
"Child of the town! for thee, alas!
Glad nature spreads nor tree or grass;
Birds build no nests, nor in the sun
Glad streams come singing as they run.
Thy paths are paved for five long miles,
Thy groves and hills are peaks and tiles,
Thy fragrant air is yon thick smoke,
Which shrouds thee like a mourning cloak."
And so Edmund was gone! But he had bequeathed to Marian a purpose and an object,
which gave her a spirit to try hard and feel out a way for herself in this confused tangle of
a world around, her. She was happier, though perhaps more anxious; for now it was not
mere vague dislike and discontent, but a clearer perception both of the temptations
around and of the battle required of her.
In January the whole family went to London, the object of many of Marian's terrors.
Caroline and Clara were both sorry to go, and the boys lamented exceedingly; Lionel
saying it was very hard that the last two months before his going to school should be
spent boxed up there, with nothing to do. Indeed the life of the schoolroom party was
here more monotonous than that at Oakworthy; for besides the constant regularity of
lessons, there was now no variety in the walks; they only paced round the square, or on
fine days went as far as the park.
And then there were the masters! Marian was in a state of great fear, under the
anticipation of her first lessons from them; but the reality proved much better than she
had expected. To be sure, she disliked the dancing with all her heart, and made no great
figure in music; but people were patient with her, and that was a great comfort; and then
she thoroughly liked and enjoyed the lessons in languages and in drawing. There were
further advantages in the London life, upon which she had not calculated, for here she
was nobody, less noticed than Caroline, seldom summoned to see visitors, and, when she
went into the drawing-room, allowed to remain in the back-ground as much as she
pleased; so that, though her eye pined for green trees and purple hills, and her ear was
wearied with the never-ceasing sound of wheels, London so far exceeded her
expectations, that she wrote to Agnes, that, "if there were no smoke, and no fog, and no
streets, and no people, there would be no great harm in it, especially if there was anything
for the boys to do."
The boys were certainly to be pitied; in a house smaller than Oakworthy, and without the
occupations out of doors to which they had been accustomed, edicts of silence were more
ineffectual than ever, and yawns became painfully frequent. Every one's temper fell into
an uncomfortable state of annoyance and irritation; Miss Morley, instead of her usual