The Heir of Redclyffe HTML version

Chapter 15
'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
How much I have disabled mine estate, By something showing a more swelling port
Than my faint means would grant continuance.
Merchant of Venice
St. Mildred's was a fashionable summer resort, which the virtues of a mineral spring, and
the reputation of Dr. Henley, had contributed to raise to a high degree of prosperity. It
stood at the foot of a magnificent range of beautifully formed hills, where the crescents
and villas, white and smart, showed their own insignificance beneath the purple peaks
that rose high above them.
About ten miles distant, across the hills, was Stylehurst, the parish of the late Archdeacon
Morville, and the native place of Philip and his sister Margaret. It was an extensive
parish, including a wide tract of the hilly country; and in a farm-house in the midst of the
moorland, midway between St. Mildred's and the village of Stylehurst, had Mr.
Wellwood fixed himself with his three pupils.
Guy's first visit was of course to Mrs. Henley, and she was, on her side, prepared by her
brother to patronize him as Philip would have done in her place. Her patronage was
valuable in her own circle; her connections were good; the Archdeacon's name was
greatly respected; she had a handsome and well-regulated establishment, and this,
together with talents which, having no family, she had cultivated more than most women
have time to do, made her a person of considerable distinction at St. Mildred's. She was,
in fact, the leading lady of the place--the manager of the book-club, in the chair at all the
charitable committees, and the principal person in society, giving literary parties, with a
degree of exclusiveness that made admission to them a privilege.
She was a very fine woman, handsomer at two-and-thirty than in her early bloom; her
height little less than that of her tall brother, and her manner and air had something very
distinguished. The first time Guy saw her, he was strongly reminded both of Philip and of
Mrs. Edmonstone, but not pleasingly. She seemed to be her aunt, without the softness and
motherly affection, coupled with the touch of naivete that gave Mrs. Edmonstone her
freshness, and loveableness; and her likeness to her brother included that decided, self-
reliant air, which became him well enough, but which did not sit as appropriately on a
Guy soon discovered another resemblance--for the old, unaccountable impatience of
Philip's conversation, and relief in escaping from it, haunted him before he had been a
quarter of an hour in Mrs. Henley's drawing-room. She asked after the Hollywell party;
she had not seen her cousins since her marriage, and happily for his feelings, passed over
Laura and Amy as if they were nonentities; but they were all too near his heart for him to
be able with patience to hear 'poor Charles's' temper regretted, and still less the half-