Frank Leward: Memorials
Part X. Home at Last
Part X. Home at Last.
Bampton to Mr. Saunders.
Dear Mr. Saunders.—I am writing this from Frank's rooms. Come as soon as you can. We managed the journey very fairly well. Frank's wonderful constitution pulled him through more quickly than the doctors thought possible. A few days after he was up he began to get strength again, and we left on the 21st. A large number of his old comrades, many of whom had been wounded too, came to see him off. Even the General at the last moment came rushing down stick in hand and cigarette in mouth to say adieu and Frank made him promise to come and see him in England. So we got off amidst the cheers of the Garibaldians. Frank was on a long deck chair and looked happy and pleased as we left the beautiful bay with its blue sky and blue water and green hills, and Vesuvius smoking away as ever, and page 339ragged Neapolitan boys looking lazily on as we steamed away.
Frank wouldn't keep below on the voyage. He said he couldn't stand the cabins, and even at night would stay up lying on deck and keeping me looking after his wraps and things. He has got quite the air of a pampered invalid, and he used to laugh at my exertions in looking after him. We had one or two very jolly evenings though when the water was smooth and the air warm and I was not sea sick.
We got up to Paris in a comfortable coupé and so to Calais and then on here. I had written to my clerk to get rooms in the Adelphi and everything in that Frank could want, and here he is installed for the present. It is a convenient part because it's on my way back from Westminster and I shall be able to look in every afternoon for a few minutes and I can spend most of the evening here.
I am very busy so come if you possibly can, you can come with him for a walk in the Temple Gardens when it's fine, when it isn't you will be very comfortable with him in his spacious lodgings and we can have long talks, I have plenty to tell you.
It is the first day of term and there wasn't much doing in court to-day so I have had nearly an hour here this afternoon. He says you must come. Yours very affectionately,
C. A. Bampton.
Mr. Saunders to Bampton.
Dear Bampton. I am coming to-morrow. I should have come before only I have been laid up with an attack of rheumatism and they wouldn't let me go. I am afraid now you will have two invalids instead of one to nurse, but perhaps the sight of our old boy will do me good and make me forget my aches and pains. I shall be in London I hope by 10 o'clock to-morrow night. Yours affectionately,
A. M. Saunders.
Same to the Same.
Dear Bampton. We arrived here all right on Saturday. Frank was in good spirits on the journey but I could see his anxiety increased as we got nearer our destination. The housekeeper was most thoughtful and had everything ready for us, but she told me she thought it would be better to wait till the next day before Frank met his mother. She quite understands the situation.
"We met Mrs. Leward yesterday afternoon in her chair coming from the Hermitage. She turned away her head at first when she saw us, but made no objection to Frank walking by her chair and even taking her hand. He had nerved himself to this meeting but his hand shook painfully. It was a curious sight to see poor Frank walking with his stick by his mother's chair. It was the first time he had walked without assistance.page 341
Since then he has been out with her every day. She doesn't say anything but the nurse thinks she is better in her mind. She never would allow anyone else to go out with her before. Frank is a good deal too in her room, she sits and looks at him and sometimes seems inclined to speak and then she gives up the effort as though there was something restraining her, and she shakes her head and sighs.
I am much better and enjoy my visit to this pleasant place. Frank is much more cheerful than might be expected and is getting stronger. I think he is not without hope.
When can you come I suppose before Christmas.—Yours very affectionately
A. M. Saunders.
Bampton to Frank.
Dear Frank. I have just heard I am to have silk. I hope to get down in a few days to see you in the old house. I received a letter from Cheltenham this morning. Mrs. Leward says she has given orders to the steward at the Greys not to interfere in any way with the Claydon property. She particularly requests that you will undertake the whole control of that and see to all your mother's wants and wishes and look upon the property as your own. She makes only one condition, one which it certainly would not be right or generous in you to refuse, that you shall take sole charge of her page 342son and undertake the whole management and expense of his bringing up and education. She even adds that she will not make it a point that he shall be allowed to see her sometimes, if you insist that he shall not be allowed to do so. She has an idea that you will object to his ever seeing her.
This is a matter for your consideration. I must say to me it seems that although if you accept the offer it will be greatly to the boy's advantage, yet that the latter part of the condition is unreasonable and would be too cruel should you insist upon it.
You can form no idea of her love for Herbert, it surpasses even a mother's ordinary love for an only son, or what the trial will be to her to part with him. It is, however, clearly for the best that you should accept the responsibility, as he is liable to be spoilt at home and he is a boy who requires proper looking after and a manly bringing up. We will talk over the matter fully at Christmas. I expect to be down with you on the 20th by the evening train.
Tell Mr. Saunders they are at me to go into Parliament, and as a feeler I am to make a speech at a big political dinner early in January. Nothing is definitely fixed yet. It will be for the intelligent and liberal electors, after my performance, to decide whether I am to be their candidate at the next election or not.
Fare thee well old man and mind you are as cheerful as possible when I come. I want some quiet amusement I am aweary of these Courts.
Bampton to Mrs. Leward.
Dear Mrs. Leward.—You would not regret your noble conduct if you could have seen the effect it had upon Frank. He is a different person since he heard he was to have Herbert to look after. He is doing up the old house and getting Herbert's room ready for him, and has bought a pony already, though I told him Herbert is not yet eleven, I believe that is right, and had better not leave you for six months at least. He saw the wisdom of that at once but said he wished the six months were over.
Don't think for a moment though that there is any fear that he will spoil the boy. He is too good and sensible for that. He asked me at once, before I suggested it, what school I thought he had better go to. I thought Eton, what do you say?
Mrs. Leward is about the same, quiet and unemotional. Mr. Saunders our old friend is going away to-morrow to his cottage at the Lakes, and I have to get back soon and go to my new friends the liberal electors. I don't know what your political opinions are, but have I your good wishes?
I have attended to your business matters and had long conferences with your solictors at Bath.—I am Yours very truly
C. A. Bampton.
Mrs. Leward to Bampton.
Dear Mr. Bampton. A thousand thousand congratulations. When your telegram came, Mabel and I couldn't let the servant go to the door we were on the watch for it and rushed down ourselves to get it and tore it open. We were delighted at your splendid success and only wish we could have been there waving at you when you made your speech after you were declared elected.
We liked your speech very much so does every one here we have spoken to about it. Thank you very much for all your kind attention to my affairs. I don't know how you could have found time to think about them in the midst of all your work and excitement.
Now I suppose the time has come for us to part with Herbert. It is better he should leave the care of women, and there is no one so noble and true I could entrust him to as the one to whom he is going. Whatever I may suffer I shall take as a punishment for my great fault.
Please will you come yourself for him. We would rather you than anyone else should come to take away our boy. Both Mabel and I particularly wish you to come.
Will you come on Saturday in the morning. We shall be quite ready. You shall see how brave we can be.—I am dear Mr. Bampton, yours very sincerely