Part 4 out of 9
toddling thing at my knee, that would always let me look at it, and
love it, something too young to be false to me, too weak to run
away from my long--ing--arms--and--year--ning heart!" Then came a
burst of agony, and moans of desolation, till poor puzzled Dick
blubbered loudly at her grief; and then her tears flowed in
Trouble on trouble. Dick himself got strangely out of sorts, and
complained of shivers. Phoebe sent him to bed early, and made him
some white wine whey very hot. In the morning he got up, and said
he was better; but after breakfast he was violently sick, and
suffered several returns of nausea before noon. "One would think I
was poisoned," said he.
At one o'clock he was seized with a kind of spasm in the throat
that lasted so long it nearly choked him.
Then Phoebe got frightened, and sent to the nearest surgeon. He
did not hurry, and poor Dick had another frightful spasm just as he
"It is hysterical," said the surgeon. "No disease of the heart, is
there? Give him a little sal-volatile every half hour."
In spite of the sal-volatile these terrible spasms seized him every
half hour; and now he used to spring off the bed with a cry of
terror when they came; and each one left him weaker and weaker; he
had to be carried back by the women.
A sad, sickening fear seized on Phoebe. She left Dick with the
maid, and tying on her bonnet in a moment, rushed wildly down the
street, asking the neighbors for a great doctor, the best that
could be had for money. One sent her east a mile, another west,
and she was almost distracted, when who should drive up but Dr. and
Mrs. Staines, to make purchases. She did not know his name, but
she knew he was a doctor. She ran to the window, and cried, "Oh,
doctor, my brother! Oh, pray come to him. Oh! oh!"
Dr. Staines got quickly, but calmly, out; told his wife to wait;
and followed Phoebe up-stairs. She told him in a few agitated
words how Dick had been taken, and all the symptoms; especially
what had alarmed her so, his springing off the bed when the spasm
Dr. Staines told her to hold the patient up. He lost not a moment,
but opened his mouth resolutely, and looked down.
"The glottis is swollen," said he: then he felt his hands, and
said, with the grave, terrible calm of experience, "He is dying."
"Oh, no! no! Oh, doctor, save him! save him!"
"Nothing can save him, unless we had a surgeon on the spot. Yes, I
might save him, if you have the courage: opening his windpipe
before the next spasm is his one chance."
"Open his windpipe! Oh, doctor! It will kill him. Let me look at
She looked hard in his face. It gave her confidence.
"Is it the only chance?"
"The only one: and it is flying while we chatter."
He whipped out his lancet.
"But I can't look on it. I trust to you and my Saviour's mercy."
She fell on her knees, and bowed her head in prayer.
Staines seized a basin, put it by the bedside, made an incision in
the windpipe, and got Dick down on his stomach, with his face over
the bedside. Some blood ran, but not much. "Now!" he cried,
cheerfully, "a small bellows! There's one in your parlor. Run."
Phoebe ran for it, and at Dr. Staines' direction lifted Dick a
little, while the bellows, duly cleansed, were gently applied to
the aperture in the windpipe, and the action of the lungs
delicately aided by this primitive but effectual means.
He showed Phoebe how to do it, tore a leaf out of his pocket-book,
wrote a hasty direction to an able surgeon near, and sent his wife
off with it in the carriage.
Phoebe and he never left the patient till the surgeon came with all
the instruments required; amongst the rest, with a big, tortuous
pair of nippers, with which he could reach the glottis, and snip
it. But they consulted, and thought it wiser to continue the surer
method; and so a little tube was neatly inserted into Dick's
windpipe, and his throat bandaged; and by this aperture he did his
breathing for some little time.
Phoebe nursed him like a mother; and the terror and the joy did her
good, and made her less desolate.
Dick was only just well when both of them were summoned to the
farm, and arrived only just in time to receive their father's
blessing and his last sigh.
Their elder brother, a married man, inherited the farm, and was
executor. Phoebe and Dick were left fifteen hundred pounds apiece,
on condition of their leaving England and going to Natal.
They knew directly what that meant. Phoebe was to be parted from a
bad man, and Dick was to comfort her for the loss.
When this part of the will was read to Phoebe, she turned faint,
and only her health and bodily vigor kept her from swooning right
But she yielded. "It is the will of the dead," said she, "and I
will obey it; for, oh, if I had but listened to him more when he
was alive to advise me, I should not sit here now, sick at heart
and dry-eyed, when I ought to be thinking only of the good friend
that is gone."
When she had come to this she became feverishly anxious to be gone.
She busied herself in purchasing agricultural machines, and stores,
and even stock; and to see her pinching the beasts' ribs to find
their condition, and parrying all attempts to cheat her, you would
never have believed she could be a love-sick woman.
Dick kept her up to the mark. He only left her to bargain with the
master of a good vessel; for it was no trifle to take out horses
and cows, and machines, and bales of cloth, cotton, and linen.
When that was settled they came in to town together, and Phoebe
bought shrewdly, at wholesale houses in the city, for cash, and
would have bargains: and the little shop in ----- Street was turned
into a warehouse.
They were all ardor, as colonists should be; and what pleased Dick
most, she never mentioned Falcon; yet he learned from the maid that
worthy had been there twice, looking very seedy.
The day drew near. Dick was in high spirits.
"We shall soon make our fortune out there," he said; "and I'll get
you a good husband."
She shuddered, but said nothing.
The evening before they were to sail, Phoebe sat alone, in her
black dress, tired with work, and asking herself, sick at heart,
could she ever really leave England, when the door opened softly,
and Reginald Falcon, shabbily dressed, came in, and threw himself
into a chair.
She started up with a scream, then sank down again, trembling, and
turned her face to the wall.
"So you are going to run away from me!" said he savagely.
"Ay, Reginald," said she meekly.
"This is your fine love, is it?"
"You have worn it out, dear," she said softly, without turning her
head from the wall.
"I wish I could say as much; but, curse it, every time I leave you
I learn to love you more. I am never really happy but when I am
"Bless you for saying that, dear. I often thought you MUST find
that out one day; but you took too long."
"Oh, better late than never. Phoebe! Can you have the heart to go
to the Cape, and leave me all alone in the world, with nobody that
really cares for me? Surely you are not obliged to go."
"Yes; my father left Dick and me fifteen hundred pounds apiece to
go: that was the condition. Poor Dick loves his unhappy sister.
He won't go without me--I should be his ruin--poor Dick, that
really loves me; and he lay a-dying here, and the good doctor and
me--God bless him--we brought him back from the grave. Ah, you
little know what I have gone through. You were not here. Catch
you being near me when I am in trouble. There, I must go. I must
go. I will go; if I fling myself into the sea half way."
"And, if you do, I'll take a dose of poison; for I have thrown away
the truest heart, the sweetest, most unselfish, kindest, generous--
oh! oh! oh!"
And he began to howl.
This set Phoebe sobbing. "Don't cry, dear," she murmured through
her tears; "if you have really any love for me, come with me."
"What, leave England, and go to a desert?"
"Love can make a desert a garden."
"Phoebe, I'll do anything else. I'll swear not to leave your side.
I'll never look at any other face but yours. But I can't live in
"I know you can't. It takes a little real love to go there with a
poor girl like me. Ah, well, I'd have made you so happy. We are
not poor emigrants. I have a horse for you to ride, and guns to
shoot; and me and Dick would do all the work for you. But there
are others here you can't leave for me. Well, then, good-by, dear.
In Africa, or here, I shall always love you; and many a salt tear I
shall shed for you yet, many a one I have, as well you know. God
bless you. Pray for poor Phoebe, that goes against her will to
Africa, and leaves her heart with thee."
This was too much even for the selfish Reginald. He kneeled at her
knees, and took her hand, and kissed it, and actually shed a tear
or two over it.
She could not speak. He had no hope of changing her resolution;
and presently he heard Dick's voice outside, so he got up to avoid
him. "I'll come again in the morning, before you go."
"Oh, no! no!" she gasped. "Unless you want me to die at your feet.
I am almost dead now."
Reginald slipped out by the kitchen.
Dick came in, and found his sister leaning with her head back
against the wall. "Why, Phoebe," said he, "whatever is the
matter?" and he took her by the shoulder.
She moaned, and he felt her all limp and powerless.
"What is it, lass? Whatever is the matter? Is it about going
She would not speak for a long time.
When she did speak, it was to say something for which my male
reader may not be prepared. But it will not surprise the women.
"O Dick--forgive me!"
"Why, what for?"
"Forgive me, or else kill me: I don't care which."
"I do, though. There, I forgive you. Now what's your crime?"
"I can't go. Forgive me!"
"I can't. Forgive me!"
"I'm blessed if I don't believe that vagabond has been here
tormenting of you again."
"Oh, don't miscall him. He is penitent. Yes, Dick, he has been
here crying to me--and I can't leave him. I can't--I can't. Dear
Dick! you are young and stout-hearted; take all the things over,
and make your fortune out there, and leave your poor foolish sister
behind. I should only fling myself into the salt sea if I left him
now, and that would be peace to me, but a grief to thee."
"Lordsake, Phoebe, don't talk so. I can't go without you. And do
but think, why, the horses are on board by now, and all the gear.
It's my belief a good hiding is all you want, to bring you to your
senses; but I han't the heart to give you one, worse luck. Blessed
if I know what to say or do."
"I won't go!" cried Phoebe, turning violent all of a sudden. "No,
not if I am dragged to the ship by the hair of my head. Forgive
me!" And with that word she was a mouse again.
"Eh, but women are kittle cattle to drive," said poor Dick
ruefully. And down he sat at a nonplus, and very unhappy.
Phoebe sat opposite, sullen, heart-sick, wretched to the core; but
determined not to leave Reginald.
Then came an event that might have been foreseen, yet it took them
both by surprise.
A light step was heard, and a graceful, though seedy, figure
entered the room with a set speech in his mouth: "Phoebe, you are
right. I owe it to your long and faithful affection to make a
sacrifice for you. I will go to Africa with you. I will go to the
end of the world, sooner than you shall say I care for any woman on
earth but you."
Both brother and sister were so unprepared for this, that they
could hardly realize it at first.
Phoebe turned her great, inquiring eyes on the speaker, and it was
a sight to see amazement, doubt, hope, and happiness animating her
features, one after another.
"Is this real?" said she.
"I will sail with you to-morrow, Phoebe; and I will make you a good
husband, if you will have me."
"That is spoke like a man," said Dick. "You take him at his word,
Phoebe; and if he ill-uses you out there, I'll break every bone in
"How dare you threaten him?" said Phoebe. "You had best leave the
Out went poor Dick, with the tear in his eye at being snubbed so.
While he was putting up the shutters, Phoebe was making love to her
pseudo penitent. "My dear," said she, "trust yourself to me. You
don't know all my love yet; for I have never been your wife, and I
would not be your jade; that is the only thing I ever refused you.
Trust yourself to me. Why, you never found happiness with others;
try it with me. It shall be the best day's work you ever did,
going out in the ship with me. You don't know how happy a loving
wife can make her husband. I'll pet you out there as man was never
petted. And besides, it isn't for life; Dick and me will soon make
a fortune out there, and then I'll bring you home, and see you
spend it any way you like but one. Oh, how I love you! do you love
me a little? I worship the ground you walk on. I adore every hair
of your head!" Her noble arm went round his neck in a moment, and
the grandeur of her passion electrified him so far that he kissed
her affectionately, if not quite so warmly as she did him: and so
it was all settled. The maid was discharged that night instead of
the morning, and Reginald was to occupy her bed. Phoebe went up-
stairs with her heart literally on fire, to prepare his sleeping-
room, and so Dick and Reginald had a word.
"I say, Dick, how long will this voyage be?"
"Two months, sir, I am told."
"Please to cast your eyes on this suit of mine. Don't you think it
is rather seedy--to go to Africa with? Why, I shall disgrace you
on board the ship. I say, Dick, lend me three sovs., just to buy a
new suit at the slop-shop."
"Well, brother-in-law," said Dick, "I don't see any harm in that.
I'll go and fetch them for you."
What does this sensible Dick do but go up-stairs to Phoebe, and
say, "He wants three pounds to buy a suit; am I to lend it him?"
Phoebe was shaking and patting her penitent's pillow. She dropped
it on the bed in dismay. "Oh, Dick, not for all the world! Why,
if he had three sovereigns, he'd desert me at the water's edge.
Oh, God help me, how I love him! God forgive me, how I mistrust
him! Good Dick! kind Dick! say we have suits of clothes, and we'll
fit him like a prince, as he ought to be, on board ship; but not a
shilling of money: and, my dear, don't put the weight on ME. You
"Ay, mistress, I understand."
"Oh, all right! and then don't you snap this here good, kind Dick's
nose off at a word again."
"Never. I get wild if anybody threatens him. Then I'm not myself.
Forgive my hasty tongue. You know I love you, dear!"
"Oh, ay! you love me well enough. But seems to me your love is
precious like cold veal, and your love for that chap is hot roast
"Ha, ha, ha, ha!"
"Oh, ye can laugh now, can ye?"
"Ha, ha, ha!"
"Well, the more of that music, the better for me."
"Yes, dear; but go and tell him."
Dick went down, and said, "I've got no money to spare, till I get
to the Cape; but Phoebe has got a box full of suits, and I made her
promise to keep it out. She will dress you like a prince, you may
"Oh, that is it, is it?" said Reginald dryly.
Dick made no reply.
At nine o'clock they were on board the vessel; at ten she weighed
anchor, and a steam-vessel drew her down the river about thirty
miles, then cast off, and left her to the south-easterly breeze.
Up went sail after sail; she nodded her lofty head, and glided away
Phoebe shed a few natural tears at leaving the shores of Old
England; but they soon dried. She was demurely happy, watching her
prize, and asking herself had she really secured it, and all in a
They had a prosperous voyage: were married at Cape Town, and went
up the country, bag and baggage, looking out for a good bargain in
land. Reginald was mounted on an English horse, and allowed to
zigzag about, and shoot, and play, while his wife and brother-in-
law marched slowly with their cavalcade.
What with air, exercise, wholesome food, and smiles of welcome, and
delicious petting, this egotist enjoyed himself finely. He
admitted as much. Says he, one evening to his wife, who sat by him
for the pleasure of seeing him feed, "It sounds absurd; but I never
was so happy in all my life."
At that, the celestial expression of her pastoral face, and the
maternal gesture with which she drew her pet's head to her queenly
bosom, was a picture for celibacy to gnash the teeth at.
During this period, the most remarkable things that happened to Dr.
and Mrs. Staines were really those which I have related as
connecting them with Phoebe Dale and her brother; to which I will
now add that Dr. Staines detailed Dick's case in a remarkable
paper, entitled "Oedema of the Glottis," and showed how the patient
had been brought back from the grave by tracheotomy and artificial
respiration. He received a high price for this article.
To tell the truth, he was careful not to admit that it was he who
had opened the windpipe; so the credit of the whole operation was
given to Mr. Jenkyn; and this gentleman was naturally pleased, and
threw a good many consultation fees in Staines's way.
The Lucases, to his great comfort--for he had an instinctive
aversion to Miss Lucas--left London for Paris in August, and did
not return all the year.
In February he reviewed his year's work and twelve months'
residence in the Bijou. The pecuniary result was, outgoings, nine
hundred and fifty pounds; income, from fees, two hundred and eighty
pounds; writing, ninety pounds.
He showed these figures to Mrs. Staines, and asked her if she could
suggest any diminution of expenditure. Could she do with less
"Oh, impossible! You cannot think how the servants eat; and they
won't touch our home-made bread."
"The fools! Why?"
"Oh, because they think it costs us less. Servants seem to me
always to hate the people whose bread they eat."
"More likely it is their vanity. Nothing that is not paid for
before their eyes seems good enough for them. Well, dear, the
bakers will revenge us. But is there any other item we could
"Dress! Why, I spend nothing."
"Forty-five pounds this year."
"Well, I shall want none next year."
"Well, then, Rosa, as there is nothing we can reduce, I must write
more, and take more fees, or we shall be in the wrong box. Only
eight hundred and sixty pounds left of our little capital; and,
mind, we have not another shilling in the world. One comfort,
there is no debt. We pay ready money for everything."
Rosa colored a little, but said nothing.
Staines did his part nobly. He read; he wrote; he paced the yard.
He wore his old clothes in the house; he took off his new ones when
he came in. He was all genius, drudgery, patience.
How Phoebe Dale would have valued him, co-operated with him, and
petted him, if she had had the good luck to be his wife!
The season came back, and with it Miss Lucas, towing a brilliant
bride, Mrs. Vivian, young, rich, pretty, and gay, with a waist you
could span, and athirst for pleasure.
This lady was the first that ever made Rosa downright jealous. She
seemed to have everything the female heart could desire; and she
was No. 1 with Miss Lucas this year. Now, Rosa was No. 1 last
season, and had weakly imagined that was to last forever. But Miss
Lucas had always a sort of female flame, and it never lasted two
Rosa did not care so very much for Miss Lucas before, except as a
convenient friend; but now she was mortified to tears at finding
Miss Lucas made more fuss with another than with her.
This foolish feeling spurred her to attempt a rivalry with Mrs.
Vivian, in the very things where rivalry was hopeless.
Miss Lucas gave both ladies tickets for a flower-show, where all
the great folk were to be, princes and princesses, etc.
"But I have nothing to wear," sighed Rosa.
"Then you must get something, and mind it is not pink, please; for
we must not clash in colors. You know I'm dark, and pink becomes
me. (The selfish young brute was not half so dark as Rosa.) Mine
is coming from Worth's, in Paris, on purpose. And this new Madame
Cie, of Regent Street, has such a duck of a bonnet, just come from
Paris. She wanted to make me one from it; but I told her I would
have none but the pattern bonnet--and she knows very well she can't
pass a copy off on me. Let me drive you up there, and you can see
mine, and order one, if you like it."
"Oh, thank you! let me just run and speak to my husband first."
Staines was writing for the bare life, and a number of German books
about him, slaving to make a few pounds--when in comes the buoyant
figure and beaming face his soul delighted in.
He laid down his work, to enjoy the sunbeam of love.
"Oh, darling, I've only come in for a minute. We are going to a
flower-show on the 13th; everybody will be so beautifully dressed--
especially that Mrs. Vivian. I have got ten yards of beautiful
blue silk in my wardrobe, but that is not enough to make a whole
dress--everything takes so much stuff now. Madame Cie does not
care to make up dresses unless she finds the silk, but Miss Lucas
says she thinks, to oblige a friend of hers, she would do it for
once in a way. You know, dear, it would only take a few yards
more, and it would last as a dinner-dress for ever so long."
Then she clasped him round the neck, and leaned her head upon his
shoulder, and looked lovingly up in his face. "I know you would
like your Rosa to look as well as Mrs. Vivian."
"No one ever looks as well, in my eyes, as my Rosa. There, the
dress will add nothing to your beauty; but go and get it, to please
yourself; it is very considerate of you to have chosen something of
which you have ten yards, already. See, dear, I'm to receive
twenty pounds for this article; if research was paid it ought to be
a hundred. I shall add it all to your allowance for dresses this
year. So no debt, mind; but come to me for everything."
The two ladies drove off to Madame Cie's, a pretty shop lined with
dark velvet and lace draperies.
In the back room they were packing a lovely bridal dress, going off
the following Saturday to New York.
"What, send from America to London?"
"Oh, dear, yes!" exclaimed Madame Cie. "The American ladies are
excellent customers. They buy everything of the best, and the most
"I have brought a new customer," said Miss Lucas; "and I want you to
do a great favor, and that is to match a blue silk, and make her a
pretty dress for the flower-show on the 13th."
Madame Cie produced a white muslin polonaise, which she was just
going to send home to the Princess -----, to be worn over mauve.
"Oh, how pretty and simple!" exclaimed Miss Lucas.
"I have some lace exactly like that," said Mrs. Staines.
"Then why don't you have a polonaise? The lace is the only
expensive part, the muslin is a mere nothing; and it is such a
useful dress, it can be worn over any silk."
It was agreed Madame Cie was to send for the blue silk and the
lace, and the dresses were to be tried on on Thursday.
On Thursday, as Rosa went gayly into Madame Cie's back room to have
the dresses tried on, Madame Cie said, "You have a beautiful lace
shawl, but it wants arranging; in five minutes I could astonish you
with what I could do to that shawl."
"Oh, pray do," said Mrs. Staines.
The dressmaker kept her word. By the time the blue dress was tried
on, Madame Cie had, with the aid of a few pins, plaits, and a bow
of blue ribbon, transformed the half lace shawl into one of the
smartest and distingue things imaginable; but when the bill came in
at Christmas, for that five minutes' labor and distingue touch, she
charged one pound eight.
Madame Cie then told the ladies, in an artfully confidential tone,
she had a quantity of black silk coming home, which she had
purchased considerably below cost price; and that she should like
to make them each a dress--not for her own sake, but theirs--as she
knew they would never meet such a bargain again. "You know, Miss
Lucas," she continued, "we don't want our money, when we know our
customers. Christmas is soon enough for us."
"Christmas is a long time off," thought the young wife, "nearly ten
months. I think I'll have a black silk, Madame Cie; but I must not
say anything to the doctor about it just yet, or he might think me
"No one can ever think a lady extravagant for buying a black silk;
it's such a useful dress; lasts forever--almost."
Days, weeks, and months rolled on, and with them an ever-rolling
tide of flower-shows, dinners, at-homes, balls, operas, lawn-
parties, concerts, and theatres.
Strange that in one house there should be two people who loved each
other, yet their lives ran so far apart, except while they were
asleep: the man all industry, self-denial, patience; the woman all
frivolity, self-indulgence, and amusement; both chained to an oar,
only--one in a working boat, the other in a painted galley.
The woman got tired first, and her charming color waned sadly. She
came to him for medicine to set her up. "I feel so languid."
"No, no," said he; "no medicine can do the work of wholesome food
and rational repose. You lack the season of all natures, sleep.
Dine at home three days running, and go to bed at ten."
On this the doctor's wife went to a chemist for advice. He gave
her a pink stimulant; and, as stimulants have two effects, viz.,
first to stimulate, and then to weaken, this did her no lasting
good. Dr. Staines cursed the London season, and threatened to
migrate to Liverpool.
But there was worse behind.
Returning one day to his dressing-room, just after Rosa had come
down-stairs, he caught sight of a red stain in a wash-hand-basin.
He examined it; it was arterial blood.
He went to her directly, and expressed his anxiety.
"Oh, it is nothing," said she.
"Nothing! Pray, how often has it occurred?"
"Once or twice. I must take your advice, and be quiet, that is
Staines examined the housemaid; she lied instinctively at first,
seeing he was alarmed; but, being urged to tell the truth, said she
had seen it repeatedly, and had told the cook.
He went down-stairs again, and sat down, looking wretched.
"Oh, dear!" said Rosa. "What is the matter now?"
"Rosa," said he, very gravely, "there are two people a woman is mad
to deceive--her husband and her physician. You have deceived
I suspect Dr. Staines merely meant to say that she had concealed
from him an alarming symptom for several weeks; but she answered in
a hurry, to excuse herself, and let the cat out of the bag--excuse
"It was all that Mrs. Vivian's fault. She laughed at me so for not
wearing them; and she has a waist you can span--the wretch!"
"Oh, then, you have been wearing stays clandestinely?"
"Why, you know I have. Oh, what a stupid! I have let it all out."
"How could you do it, when you knew, by experience, it is your
"But it looks so beautiful, a tiny waist."
"It looks as hideous as a Chinese foot, and, to the eye of science,
far more disgusting; it is the cause of so many unlovely diseases."
"Just tell me one thing; have you looked at Mrs. Vivian?"
"Minutely. I look at all your friends with great anxiety, knowing
no animal more dangerous than a fool. Vivian--a skinny woman, with
a pretty face, lovely hair, good teeth, dying eyes"--
"A sure proof of a disordered stomach--and a waist pinched in so
unnaturally, that I said to myself, 'Where on earth does this idiot
put her liver?' Did you ever read of the frog who burst, trying to
swell to an ox? Well, here is the rivalry reversed; Mrs. Vivian is
a bag of bones in a balloon; she can machine herself into a wasp;
but a fine young woman like you, with flesh and muscle, must kill
yourself three or four times before you can make your body as
meagre, hideous, angular, and unnatural as Vivian's. But all you
ladies are mono-maniacs; one might as well talk sense to a gorilla.
It brought you to the edge of the grave. I saved you. Yet you
could go and-- God grant me patience. So I suppose these
unprincipled women lent you their stays to deceive your husband?"
"No. But they laughed at me so that-- Oh, Christie, I'm a wretch;
I kept a pair at the Lucases, and a pair at Madame Cie's, and I put
them on now and then."
"But you never appeared here in them?"
"What, before my tyrant? Oh no, I dared not."
"So you took them off before you came home?"
Rosa hung her head, and said "Yes" in a reluctant whisper.
"You spent your daylight dressing. You dressed to go out; dressed
again in stays; dressed again without them; and all to deceive your
husband, and kill yourself, at the bidding of two shallow,
heartless women, who would dance over your grave without a pang of
remorse, or sentiment of any kind, since they live, like midges,
ONLY TO DANCE IN THE SUN, AND SUCK SOME WORKER'S BLOOD."
"Oh, Christie! I'm so easily led. I am too great a fool to live.
And she kneeled down, and renewed the request, looking up in his
face with an expression that might have disarmed Cain ipsum.
He smiled superior. "The question is, are you sorry you have been
"Yes, dear. Oh! oh!"
"Will you be very good to make up?"
"Oh, yes. Only tell me how; for it does not come natural to poor
"Keep out of those women's way for the rest of the season."
"Bring your stays home, and allow me to do what I like with them."
"Of course. Cut them in a million pieces."
"Till you are recovered, you must be my patient, and go nowhere
"That is no punishment, I am sure."
"Punishment! Am I the man to punish you? I only want to save
"Well, darling, it won't be the first time."
"No; but I do hope it will be the last."
"Sublata causa tollitur effectus." The stays being gone, and
dissipation moderated, Mrs. Staines bloomed again, and they gave
one or two unpretending little dinners at the Bijou. Dr. Staines
admitted no false friends to these. They never went beyond eight;
five gentlemen, three ladies. By this arrangement the terrible
discursiveness of the fair, and man's cruel disposition to work a
subject threadbare, were controlled and modified, and a happy
balance of conversation established. Lady Cicely Treherne was
always invited, and always managed to come; for she said, "They
were the most agweeable little paaties in London, and the host and
hostess both so intewesting." In the autumn, Staines worked double
tides with the pen, and found a vehicle for medical narratives in a
weekly magazine that did not profess medicine.
This new vein put him in heart. His fees, towards the end of the
year, were less than last year, because there was no hundred-guinea
fee; but there was a marked increase in the small fees, and the
unflagging pen had actually earned him two hundred pounds, or
nearly. So he was in good spirits.
Not so Mrs. Staines; for some time she had been uneasy, fretful,
and like a person with a weight on her mind.
One Sunday she said to him, "Oh, dear, I do feel so dull. Nobody
to go to church with, nor yet to the Zoo."
"I'll go with you," said Staines.
"You will! To which?"
"To both; in for a penny, in for a pound."
So to church they went; and Staines, whose motto was "Hoc age,"
minded his book. Rosa had intervals of attention to the words, but
found plenty of time to study the costumes.
During the Litany in bustled Clara, the housemaid, with a white
jacket on so like her mistress's, that Rosa clutched her own
convulsively, to see whether she had not been skinned of it by some
No, it was on her back; but Clara's was identical.
In her excitement, Rosa pinched Staines, and with her nose, that
went like a water-wagtail, pointed out the malefactor. Then she
whispered, "Look! How dare she? My very jacket! Earrings too,
and brooches, and dresses her hair like mine."
"Well, never mind," whispered Staines. "Sunday is her day. We
have got all the week to shine. There, don't look at her--'From
all evil speaking, lying, and slandering'"--
"I can't keep my eyes off her."
"Attend to the Litany. Do you know, this is really a beautiful
"I'd rather do the work fifty times over myself."
"Hush! people will hear you."
When they walked home after church, Staines tried to divert her
from the consideration of her wrongs; but no--all other topics were
too flat by comparison.
She mourned the hard fate of mistresses--unfortunate creatures that
could not do without servants.
"Is not that a confession that servants are good, useful creatures,
with all their faults? Then as to the mania for dress, why, that
is not confined to them. It is the mania of the sex. Are you free
"No, of course not. But I am a lady, if you please."
"Then she is your intellectual inferior, and more excusable.
Anyway, it is wise to connive at a thing we can't help."
"What keep her, after this? no, never."
"My dear, pray do not send her away, for she is tidy in the house,
and quick, and better than any one we have had this last six
months; and you know you have tried a great number."
"To hear you speak, one would think it was my fault that we have so
many bad servants."
"I never said it was your fault; but I THINK, dearest, a little
more forbearance in trifles"--
"Trifles! trifles--for a mistress and maid to be seen dressed alike
in the same church? You take the servants' part against me, that
"You should not say that, even in jest. Come now, do you really
think a jacket like yours can make the servant look like you, or
detract from your grace and beauty? There is a very simple way;
put your jacket by for a future occasion, and wear something else
in its stead at church."
"A nice thing, indeed, to give in to these creatures. I won't do
"Why won't you, this once?"
"Because I won't--there!"
"That is unanswerable," said he.
Mrs. Staines said that; but when it came to acting, she deferred to
her husband's wish; she resigned her intention of sending for Clara
and giving her warning. On the contrary, when Clara let her in,
and the white jackets rubbed together in the narrow passage, she
actually said nothing, but stalked to her own room, and tore her
jacket off, and flung it on the floor.
Unfortunately, she was so long dressing for the Zoo, that Clara
came in to arrange the room. She picks up the white jacket, takes
it in both hands, gives it a flap, and proceeds to hang it up in
Then the great feminine heart burst its bounds.
"You can leave that alone. I shall not wear that again."
Thereupon ensued an uneven encounter, Clara being one of those of
whom the Scripture says, "The poison of asps is under their
"La, ma'am," said she, "why, 'tain't so very dirty."
"No; but it is too common."
"Oh, because I've got one like it. Ay. Missises can't abide a
good-looking servant, nor to see 'em dressed becoming."
"Mistresses do not like servants to forget their place, nor wear
what does not become their situation."
"My situation! Why, I can pay my way, go where I will. I don't
tremble at the tradesmen's knock, as some do."
"Leave the room! Leave it this moment."
"Leave the room, yes--and I'll leave the house too, and tell all
the neighbors what I know about it."
She flounced out and slammed the door; and Rosa sat down,
Clara rushed to the kitchen, and there told the cook and Andrew
Pearman how she had given it to the mistress, and every word she
had said to her, with a good many more she had not.
The cook laughed and encouraged her.
But Andrew Pearman was wroth, and said, "You to affront our
mistress like that! Why, if I had heard you, I'd have twisted your
neck for ye."
"It would take a better man than you to do that. You mind your own
business. Stick to your one-horse chay."
"Well, I'm not above my place, for that matter. But you gals must
always be aping your betters."
"I have got a proper pride, that is all, and you haven't. You
ought to be ashamed of yourself to do two men's work; drive a
brougham and wait on a horse, and then come in and wait at table,
You are a tea-kettle groom, that is what you are. Why, my brother
was coachman to Lord Fitz-James, and gave his lordship notice the
first time he had to drive the children. Says he, 'I don't object
to the children, my lord, but with her ladyship in the carriage.'
It's such servants as you as spoil places. No servant as knows
what's due to a servant ought to know you. They'd scorn your
'quaintance, as I do, Mr. Pearman."
"You are a stuck-up hussy, and a soldier's jade," roared Andrew.
"And you are a low tea-kettle groom."
This expression wounded the great equestrian soul to the quick; the
rest of Sunday he pondered on it; the next morning he drove the
doctor, as usual, but with a heavy heart.
Meantime, the cook made haste and told the baker Pearman had "got
it hot" from the housemaid, and she had called him a tea-kettle
groom; and in less than half an hour after that it was in every
stable in the mews. Why, as Pearman was taking the horse out of
the brougham, didn't two little red-headed urchins call out, "Here,
come and see the tea-kettle groom!" and at night some mischievous
boy chalked on the black door of the stable a large white tea-
kettle, and next morning a drunken, idle fellow, with a clay pipe
in his mouth, and a dirty pair of corduroy trousers, no coat, but a
shirt very open at the chest, showing inflamed skin, the effect of
drink, inspected that work of art with blinking eyes and
vacillating toes, and said, "This comes of a chap doing too much.
A few more like you, and work would be scarce. A fine thing for
gentlefolks to make one man fill two places! but it ain't the
gentlefolks' fault, it's the man as humors 'em."
Pearman was a peaceable man, and made no reply, but went on with
his work; only during the day he told his master that he should be
obliged to him if he would fill his situation as soon as
The master inquired the cause, and the man told him, and said the
mews was too hot for him.
The doctor offered him five pounds a year more, knowing he had a
treasure; but Pearman said, with sadness and firmness, that he had
made up his mind to go, and go he would.
The doctor's heart fairly sank at the prospect of losing the one
creature he could depend upon.
Next Sunday evening Clara was out, and fell in with friends, to
whom she exaggerated her grievance.
Then they worked her up to fury, after the manner of servants'
FRIENDS. She came home, packed her box, brought it down, and then
flounced into the room to Doctor and Mrs. Staines, and said, "I
shan't sleep another night in this house."
Rosa was about to speak, but Dr. Staines forbade her: he said, "You
had better think twice of that. You are a good servant, though for
once you have been betrayed into speaking disrespectfully. Why
forfeit your character, and three weeks' wages?"
"I don't care for my wages. I won't stay in such a house as this."
"Come, you must not be impertinent."
"I don't mean to, sir," said she, lowering her voice suddenly;
then, raising it as suddenly, "There are my keys, ma'am, and you
can search my box."
"Mrs. Staines will not search your box; and you will retire at once
to your own part of the house."
"I'll go farther than that," said she, and soon after the street
door was slammed; the Bijou shook.
At six o'clock next morning, she came for her box. It had been put
away for safety. Pearman told her she must wait till the doctor
came down. She did not wait, but went at eleven A.M. to a police-
magistrate, and took out a summons against Dr. Staines, for
detaining a box containing certain articles specified--value under
When Dr. Staines heard she had been for her box, but left no
address, he sent Pearman to hunt for her. He could not find her.
She avoided the house, but sent a woman for her diurnal love
letters. Dr. Staines sent the woman back to fetch her. She came,
received her box, her letters, and the balance of her wages, which
was small, for Staines deducted the three weeks' wages.
Two days afterwards, to his surprise, the summons was served.
Out of respect for a court of justice, however humble, Dr. Staines
attended next Monday to meet the summons.
The magistrate was an elderly man, with a face shaped like a hog's,
but much richer in color, being purple and pimply; so foul a visage
Staines had rarely seen, even in the lowest class of the community.
Clara swore that her box had been opened, and certain things stolen
out of it; and that she had been refused the box next morning.
Staines swore that he had never opened the box, and that, if any
one else had, it was with her consent, for she had left the keys
for that purpose. He bade the magistrate observe that if a servant
went away like this, and left no address, she put it out of the
master's POWER to send her box after her; and he proved he had some
trouble to force the box on her.
The pig-faced beak showed a manifest leaning towards the servant,
but there wasn't a leg to stand on; and he did not believe, nor was
it credible, that anything had been stolen out of her box.
At this moment, Pearman, sent by Rosa, entered the court with an
old gown of Clara's that had been discovered in the scullery, and a
scribbling-book of the doctor's, which Clara had appropriated, and
written amorous verses in, very superior--in number--to those that
have come down to us from Anacreon.
"Hand me those," said the pig-faced beak.
"What are they, Dr. Staines?"
"I really don't know. I must ask my servant."
"Why, more things of mine that have been detained," said Clara.
"Some things that have been found since she left," said Staines.
"Oh! those that hide know where to find."
"Young woman," said Staines, "do not insult those whose bread you
have eaten, and who have given you many presents besides your
wages. Since you are so ready to accuse people of stealing, permit
me to say that this book is mine, and not yours; and yet, you see,
it is sent after you because you have written your trash in it."
The purple, pig-faced beak went instantly out of the record, and
wasted a deal of time reading Clara's poetry, and trying to be
witty. He raised the question whose book this was. The girl swore
that it WAS given her by a lady who was now in Rome. Staines swore
he bought it of a certain stationer, and happening to have his
passbook in his pocket, produced an entry corresponding with the
date of the book.
The pig-faced beak said that the doctor's was an improbable story,
and that the gown and the book were quite enough to justify the
summons. Verdict, one guinea costs.
"What, because two things she never demanded have been found and
sent after her? This is monstrous. I shall appeal to your
"If you are impertinent I'll fine you five pounds."
"Very well, sir. Now hear me: if this is an honest judgment, I
pray God I may be dead before the year's out; and, if it isn't, I
pray God you may be."
Then the pig-faced beak fired up, and threatened to fine him for
He deigned no reply, but paid the guinea, and Clara swept out of
the court, with a train a yard long, and leaning on the arm of a
scarlet soldier who avenged Dr. Staines with military promptitude.
Christopher went home raging internally, for hitherto he had never
seen so gross a case of injustice.
One of his humble patients followed him, and said, "I wish I had
known, sir; you shouldn't have come here to be insulted. Why, no
gentleman can ever get justice against a servant girl when HE is
sitting. It is notorious, and that makes these hussies so bold.
I've seen that jade here with the same story twice afore."
Staines reached home more discomposed than he could have himself
believed. The reason was that barefaced injustice in a court of
justice shook his whole faith in man. He opened the street door
with his latch-key, and found two men standing in the passage. He
inquired what they wanted.
"Well, sir," said one of them, civilly enough, "we only want our
"For goods delivered at this house, sir. Balance of account." And
he handed him a butcher's bill, L88, 11s. 5 1/2d.
"You must be mistaken; we run no bills here. We pay ready money
"Well, sir," said the butcher, "there have been payments; but the
balance has always been gaining; and we have been put off so often,
we determined to see the master. Show you the books, sir, and
"This instant, if you please." He took the butcher's address, who
then retired, and the other tradesman, a grocer, told him a similar
tale; balance, sixty pounds odd.
He went to the butcher's, sick at heart, inspected the books, and
saw that, right or wrong, they were incontrovertible; that debt had
been gaining slowly, but surely, almost from the time he confided
the accounts to his wife. She had kept faith with him about five
weeks, no more.
The grocer's books told a similar tale.
The debtor put his hand to his heart, and stood a moment. The very
grocer pitied him, and said, "There's no harry, doctor; a trifle on
account, if settlement in full not convenient just now. I see you
have been kept in the dark."
"No, no," said Christopher; "I'll pay every shilling." He gave one
gulp, and hurried away.
At the fishmonger's, the same story, only for a smaller amount.
A bill of nineteen pounds at the very pastrycook's; a place she had
promised him, as her physician, never to enter.
At the draper's, thirty-seven pounds odd.
In short, wherever she had dealt, the same system: partial
payments, and ever-growing debt.
Remembering Madame Cie, he drove in a cab to Regent Street, and
asked for Mrs. Staines's account.
"Shall I send it, sir?"
"No; I will take it with me."
"Miss Edwards, make out Mrs. Staines's account, if you please."
Miss Edwards was a good while making it out; but it was ready at
last. He thrust it into his pocket, without daring to look at it
there; but he went into Verrey's, and asked for a cup of coffee,
and perused the document.
The principal items were as follows:--
May 4. Re-shaping and repairing elegant lace mantle, 1 8
Chip bonnet, feather, and flowers . . . . 4 4
May 20. Making and trimming blue silk dress--material
part found . . . . . . . . . . . 19 19
Five yards rich blue silk to match. . . . 4 2
June 1. Polonaise and jacket trimmed with lace--
material part found . . . . . . . . 17 17
June 8. One black silk dress, handsomely trimmed
with jet guipure and lace . . . . . . 49 18
A few shreds and fragments of finery, bought at odd times, swelled
the bill to L99 11s. 6d.--not to terrify the female mind with three
And let no unsophisticated young lady imagine that the trimmings,
which constituted three-fourths of this bill, were worth anything.
The word "lace," in Madame Cie's bill, invariably meant machine-
made trash, worth tenpence a yard, but charged eighteen shillings a
yard for one pennyworth of work in putting it on. Where real lace
was used, Madame Cie always LET HER CUSTOMERS KNOW IT. Miss
Lucas's bill for this year contained the two following little
Rich gros de cecile polonaise and jacket to match,
trimmed with Chantilly lace and valenciennes . . . 68 5
Superb robe de chambre, richly trimmed with skunk fur. 40 0
The customer found the stuff; viz., two shawls. Carolina found the
nasty little pole-cats, and got twenty-four shillings for them;
Madame Cie found THE REST.
But Christopher Staines had not Miss Lucas's bill to compare his
wife's with. He could only compare the latter with their income,
and with male notions of common sense and reason.
He went home, and into his studio, and sat down on his hard beech
chair; he looked round on his books and his work, and then, for the
first time, remembered how long and how patiently he had toiled for
every hundred pounds he had made; and he laid the evidences of his
wife's profusion and deceit by the side of those signs of painful
industry and self-denial, and his soul filled with bitterness.
Mrs. Staines heard he was in the house, and came to know about the
trial. She came hurriedly in, and caught him with his head on the
table, in an attitude of prostration, quite new to him; he raised
his head directly he heard her, and revealed a face, pale, stern,
"Oh! what is the matter now?" said she.
"The matter is what it has always been, if I could only have seen
it. You have deceived me, and disgraced yourself. Look at those
"What bills? Oh!"
"You have had an allowance for housekeeping."
"It wasn't enough."
"It was plenty, if you had kept faith with me, and paid ready
money. It was enough for the first five weeks. I am housekeeper
now, and I shall allow myself two pounds a week less, and not owe a
"Well, all I know is, I couldn't do it: no woman could."
"Then, you should have come to me, and said so; and I would have
shown you how. Was I in Egypt, or at the North Pole, that you
could not find me, to treat me like a friend? You have ruined us:
these debts will sweep away the last shilling of our little
capital; but it isn't that, oh, no! it is the miserable deceit."
Rosa's eye caught the sum total of Madame Cie's bill, and she
turned pale. "Oh, what a cheat that woman is!"
But she turned paler when Christopher said, "That is the one honest
bill; for I gave you leave. It is these that part us: these!
these! Look at them, false heart! There, go and pack up your
things. We can live here no longer; we are ruined. I must send
you back to your father."
"I thought you would, sooner or later," said Mrs. Staines, panting,
trembling, but showing a little fight. "He told you I wasn't fit
to be a poor man's wife."
"An honest man's wife, you mean: that is what you are not fit for.
You will go home to your father, and I shall go into some humble
lodging to work for you. I'll contrive to keep you, and find you a
hundred a year to spend in dress--the only thing your heart can
really love. But I won't have an enemy here in the disguise of a
friend; and I won't have a wife about me I must treat like a
servant, and watch like a traitor."
The words were harsh, but the agony with which they were spoken
distinguished them from vulgar vituperation.
They overpowered poor Rosa; she had been ailing a little some time,
and from remorse and terror, coupled with other causes, nature gave
way. Her lips turned white, she gasped inarticulately, and, with a
little piteous moan, tottered, and swooned dead away.
He was walking wildly about, ready to tear his hair, when she
tottered; he saw her just in time to save her, and laid her gently
on the floor, and kneeled over her.
Away went anger and every other feeling but love and pity for the
poor, weak creature that, with all her faults, was so lovable and
He applied no remedies at first: he knew they were useless and
unnecessary. He laid her head quite low, and opened door and
window, and loosened all her dress, sighing deeply all the time at
While he was thus employed, suddenly a strange cry broke from him:
a cry of horror, remorse, joy, tenderness, all combined: a cry
compared with which language is inarticulate. His swift and
practical eye had made a discovery.
He kneeled over her, with his eyes dilating and his hands clasped,
a picture of love and tender remorse.
Then he made haste, and applied his remedies, and brought her
slowly back to life; he lifted her up, and carried her in his arms
quite away from the bills and things, that, when she came to, she
might see nothing to revive her distress. He carried her to the
drawing-room, and kneeled down and rocked her in his arms, and
pressed her again and again gently to his heart, and cried over
her. "O my dove, my dove! the tender creature God gave me to love
and cherish, and have I used it harshly? If I had only known! if I
had only known!"
While he was thus bemoaning her, and blaming himself, and crying
over her like the rain,--he, whom she had never seen shed a tear
before in all his troubles,--she was coming to entirely, and her
quick ears caught his words, and she opened her lovely eyes on him.
"I forgive you, dear," she said feebly. "BUT I HOPE YOU WILL BE A
KINDER FATHER THAN A HUSBAND."
These quiet words, spoken with rare gravity and softness, went
through the great heart like a knife.
He gave a sort of shiver, but said not a word.
But that night he made a solemn vow to God that no harsh word from
his lips should ever again strike a being so weak, so loving, and
so beyond his comprehension. Why look for courage and candor in a
creature so timid and shy, she could not even tell her husband THAT
until, with her subtle sense, she saw he had discovered it?
To be a father; to have an image of his darling Rosa, and a fruit
of their love to live and work for: this gave the sore heart a
heavenly glow, and elasticity to bear. Should this dear object be
born to an inheritance of debt, of poverty? Never.
He began to act as if he was even now a father. He entreated Rosa
not to trouble or vex herself; he would look into their finances,
and set all straight.
He paid all the bills, and put by a quarter's rent and taxes. Then
there remained of his little capital just ten pounds.
He went to his printers, and had a thousand order-checks printed.
These forms ran thus:--
"Dr. Staines, of 13 Dear Street, Mayfair (blank for date), orders
of (blank here for tradesman and goods ordered), for cash.
Received same time (blank for tradesman's receipt). Notice: Dr.
Staines disowns all orders not printed on this form, and paid for
at date of order."
He exhibited these forms, and warned all the tradespeople, before a
witness whom he took round for that purpose.
He paid off Pearman on the spot. Pearman had met Clara, dressed
like a pauper, her soldier having emptied her box to the very
dregs, and he now offered to stay. But it was too late.
Staines told the cook Mrs. Staines was in delicate health, and must
not be troubled with anything. She must come to him for all
"Yes, sir," said she. But she no sooner comprehended the check
system fully than she gave warning. It put a stop to her wholesale
pilfering. Rosa's cooks had made fully a hundred pounds out of her
amongst them since she began to keep accounts.
Under the male housekeeper every article was weighed on delivery,
and this soon revealed that the butcher and the fishmonger had
habitually delivered short weight from the first, besides putting
down the same thing twice. The things were sent back that moment,
with a printed form, stating the nature and extent of the fraud.
The washerwoman, who had been pilfering wholesale so long as Mrs.
Staines and her sloppy-headed maids counted the linen, and then
forgot it, was brought up with a run, by triplicate forms, and by
Staines counting the things before two witnesses, and compelling
the washerwoman to count them as well, and verify or dispute on the
spot. The laundress gave warning--a plain confession that stealing
had been part of her trade.
He kept the house well for three pounds a week, exclusive of coals,
candles, and wine. His wife had had five pounds, and whatever she
asked for dinner-parties, yet found it not half enough upon her
He kept no coachman. If he visited a patient, a man in the yard
drove him at a shilling per hour.
By these means, and by working like a galley slave, he dragged his
expenditure down almost to a level with his income.
Rosa was quite content at first, and thought herself lucky to
escape reproaches on such easy terms.
But by and by so rigorous a system began to gall her. One day she
fancied a Bath bun; sent the new maid to the pastry-cook's.
Pastry-cook asked to see the doctor's order. Maid could not show
it, and came back bunless.
Rosa came into the study to complain to her husband.
"A Bath bun," said Staines. "Why, they are colored with annotto,
to save an egg, and annotto is adulterated with chromates that are
poison. Adulteration upon adulteration. I'll make you a real Bath
bun." Off coat, and into the kitchen, and made her three, pure,
but rather heavy. He brought them her in due course. She declined
them languidly. She was off the notion, as they say in Scotland.
"If I can't have a thing when I want it, I don't care for it at
all." Such was the principle she laid down for his future
He sighed, and went back to his work; she cleared the plate.
One day, when she asked for the carriage, he told her the time was
now come for her to leave off carriage exercise. She must walk
with him every day, instead.
"But I don't like walking."
"I am sorry for that. But it is necessary to you, and by and by
your life may depend on it."
Quietly, but inexorably, he dragged her out walking every day.
In one of these walks she stopped at a shop window, and fell in
love with some baby's things. "Oh! I must have that," said she.
"I must. I shall die if I don't; you'll see now."
"You shall," said he, "when I can pay for it," and drew her away.
The tears of disappointment stood in her eyes, and his heart
yearned over her. But he kept his head.
He changed the dinner hour to six, and used to go out directly
She began to complain of his leaving her alone like that.
"Well, but wait a bit," said he; "suppose I am making a little
money by it, to buy you something you have set your heart on, poor
In a very few days after this, he brought her a little box with a
slit in it. He shook it, and money rattled; then he unlocked it,
and poured out a little pile of silver. "There," said he, "put on
your bonnet, and come and buy those things."
She put on her bonnet, and on the way she asked how it came to be
all in silver.
"That is a puzzler," said he, "isn't it?"
"And how did you make it, dear? by writing?"
"By fees from the poor people?"
"What, undersell my brethren! Hang it, no! My dear, I made it
honestly, and some day I will tell you how I made it; at present,
all I will tell you is this: I saw my darling longing for something
she had a right to long for; I saw the tears in her sweet eyes,
and--oh, come along, do. I am wretched till I see you with the
things in your hand."
They went to the shop; and Staines sat and watched Rosa buying
baby-clothes. Oh, it was a pretty sight to see this modest young
creature, little more than a child herself, anticipating maternity,
but blushing every now and then, and looking askant at her lord and
master. How his very bowels yearned over her!
And when they got home, she spread the things on a table, and they
sat hand in hand, and looked at them, and she leaned her head on
his shoulder, and went quietly to sleep there.
And yet, as time rolled on, she became irritable at times, and
impatient, and wanted all manner of things she could not have, and
made him unhappy.
Then he was out from six o'clock till one, and she took it into her
head to be jealous. So many hours to spend away from her! Now
that she wanted all his comfort.
Presently, Ellen, the new maid, got gossiping in the yard, and a
groom told her her master had a sweetheart on the sly, he thought;
for he drove the brougham out every evening himself; "and," said
the man, "he wears a mustache at night."
Ellen ran in, brimful of this, and told the cook; the cook told the
washerwoman; the washerwoman told a dozen families, till about two
hundred people knew it.
At last it came to Mrs. Staines in a roundabout way, at the very
moment when she was complaining to Lady Cicely Treherne of her hard
lot. She had been telling her she was nothing more than a lay-
figure in the house.
"My husband is housekeeper now, and cook, and all, and makes me
delicious dishes, I can tell you; SUCH curries! I couldn't keep
the house with five pounds a week, so now he does it with three:
and I never get the carriage, because walking is best for me; and
he takes it out every night to make money. I don't understand it."
Lady Cicely suggested that perhaps Dr. Staines thought it best for
her to be relieved of all worry, and so undertook the housekeeping.
"No, no, no," said Rosa; "I used to pay them all a part of their
bills, and then a little more, and so I kept getting deeper; and I
was ashamed to tell Christie, so that he calls deceit; and oh, he
spoke to me so cruelly once! But he was very sorry afterwards,
poor dear! Why are girls brought up so silly? all piano, and no
sense; and why are men sillier still to go and marry such silly
things? A wife! I am not so much as a servant. Oh, I am finely
humiliated, and," with a sudden hearty naivete all her own, "it
serves me just right."
While Lady Cicely was puzzling this out, in came a letter. Rosa
opened it, read it, and gave a cry like a wounded deer.
"Oh!" she cried, "I am a miserable woman. What will become of me?"
The letter informed her bluntly that her husband drove his brougham
out every night to pursue a criminal amour.
While Rosa was wringing her hands in real anguish of heart, Lady
Cicely read the letter carefully.
"I don't believe this," said she quietly.
"Not true! Why, who would be so wicked as to stab a poor,
inoffensive wretch like me, if it wasn't true?"
"The first ugly woman would, in a minute. Don't you see the witer
can't tell you where he goes? Dwives his bwougham out! That is
all your infaumant knows."
"Oh, my dear friend, bless you! What have I been complaining to
you about? All is light, except to lose his love. What shall I
do? I will never tell him. I will never affront him by saying I
"Wosa, if you do that, you will always have a serpent gnawing you.
No; you must put the letter quietly into his hand, and say, 'Is
there any truth in that?'"
"Oh, I could not. I haven't the courage. If I do that, I shall
know by his face if there is any truth in it."
"Well, and you must know the twuth. You shall know it. I want to
know it too; for if he does not love you twuly, I will nevaa twust
myself to anything so deceitful as a man."
Rosa at last consented to follow this advice.
After dinner she put the letter into Christopher's hand, and asked
him quietly was there any truth in that: then her hands trembled,
and her eyes drank him.
Christopher read it, and frowned; then he looked up, and said, "No,
not a word. What scoundrels there are in the world! To go and
tell you that, NOW! Why, you little goose! have you been silly
enough to believe it?"
"No," said she irresolutely. "But DO you drive the brougham out
"My dear wife, I never loved you as I love you now; and if it was
not for you, I should not drive the brougham out of nights. That
is all I shall tell you at present; but some day I'll tell you all
He took such a calm high hand with her about it, that she submitted
to leave it there; but from this moment the serpent doubt nibbled
It had one curious effect, though. She left off complaining of
Now it happened one night that Lady Cicely Treherne and a friend
were at a concert in Hanover Square. The other lady felt rather
faint, and Lady Cicely offered to take her home. The carriages had
not yet arrived, and Miss Macnamara said to walk a few steps would
do her good: a smart cabman saw them from a distance and drove up,
and touching his hat said, "Cab, ladies?"
It seemed a very superior cab, and Miss Macnamara said "Yes"
The cabman bustled down and opened the door; Miss Macnamara got in
first, then Lady Cicely; her eye fell on the cabman's face, which
was lighted full by a street-lamp, and it was Christopher Staines!
He started and winced; but the woman of the world never moved a
"Where to?" said Staines, averting his head.
She told him where, and when they got out, said, "I'll send it you
by the servant."
A flunkey soon after appeared with half-a-crown, and the amateur
coachman drove away. He said to himself, "Come, my mustache is a
better disguise than I thought."
Next day, and the day after, he asked Rosa, with affected
carelessness, had she heard anything of Lady Cicely.
"No, dear; but I dare say she will call this afternoon: it is her
She did call at last, and after a few words with Rosa, became a
little restless, and asked if she might consult Dr. Staines.
"Certainly, dear. Come to his studio."
"No; might I see him here?"
"Certainly." She rang the bell, and told the servant to ask Dr.
Staines if he would be kind enough to step into the drawing-room.
Dr. Staines came in, and bowed to Lady Cicely, and eyed her a
She began, however, in a way that put him quite at his ease. "You
remember the advice you gave us about my little cousin Tadcastah."
"Perfectly: his life is very precarious; he is bilious, consumptive,
and, if not watched, will be epileptical; and he has a fond, weak
mother, who will let him kill himself."
"Exactly: and you wecommended a sea voyage, with a medical
attendant to watch his diet, and contwol his habits. Well, she
took other advice, and the youth is worse; so now she is
fwightened, and a month ago she asked me to pwopose to you to sail
about with Tadcastah; and she offered me a thousand pounds a year.
I put on my stiff look, and said, 'Countess, with every desiah to
oblige you, I must decline to cawwy that offah to a man of genius,
learning, and weputation, who has the ball at his feet in London.'"
"Lord forgive you, Lady Cicely."
"Lord bless her for standing up for my Christie."
Lady Cicely continued: "Now, this good lady, you must know, is not
exactly one of us: the late earl mawwied into cotton, or wool, or
something. So she said, 'Name your price for him.' I shwugged my
shoulders, smiled affably, and as affectedly as you like, and
changed the subject. But since then things have happened. I am
afwaid it is my duty to make you the judge whether you choose to
sail about with that little cub--Rosa, I can beat about the bush no
longer. Is it a fit thing that a man of genius, at whose feet we
ought all to be sitting with reverence, should drive a cab in the
public streets? Yes, Rosa Staines, your husband drives his
brougham out at night, not to visit any other lady, as that
anonymous wretch told you, but to make a few misewable shillings
"It is no use, Dr. Staines; I must and will tell her. My dear, he
drove ME three nights ago. He had a cabman's badge on his poor
arm. If you knew what I suffered in those five minutes! Indeed it
seems cruel to speak of it--but I could not keep it from Rosa, and
the reason I muster courage to say it before you, sir, it is
because I know she has other friends who keep you out of their
consultations; and, after all, it is the world that ought to blush,
and not you."
Her ladyship's kindly bosom heaved, and she wanted to cry; so she
took her handkerchief out of her pocket without the least hurry,
and pressed it delicately to her eyes, and did cry quietly, but
without any disguise, like a brave lady, who neither cried nor did
anything else she was ashamed to be seen at.
As for Rosa, she sat sobbing round Christopher's neck, and kissed
him with all her soul.
"Dear me!" said Christopher. "You are both very kind. But,
begging your pardon, it is much ado about nothing."
Lady Cicely took no notice of that observation. "So, Rosa dear,"
said she, "I think you are the person to decide whether he had not
better sail about with that little cub, than--oh!"
"I will settle that," said Staines. "I have one beloved creature
to provide for. I may have another. I MUST make money. Turning a
brougham into a cab, whatever you may think, is an honest way of
making it, and I am not the first doctor who has coined his
brougham at night. But if there is a good deal of money to be made
by sailing with Lord Tadcaster, of course I should prefer that to
cab-driving, for I have never made above twelve shillings a night."
"Oh, as to that, she shall give you fifteen hundred a year."
"Then I jump at it."
"What! and leave ME?"
"Yes, love: leave you--for your good; and only for a time. Lady
Cicely, it is a noble offer. My darling Rosa will have every
comfort--ay, every luxury, till I come home, and then we will start
afresh with a good balance, and with more experience than we did at
Lady Cicely gazed on him with wonder. She said, "Oh! what stout
hearts men have! No, no; don't let him go. See; he is acting.
His great heart is torn with agony. I will have no hand in parting
man and wife--no, not for a day." And she hurried away in rare
Rosa fell on her knees, and asked Christopher's pardon for having
been jealous; and that day she was a flood of divine tenderness.
She repaid him richly for driving the cab. But she was unnaturally
cool about Lady Cicely; and the exquisite reason soon came out.
"Oh yes! She is very good; very kind; but it is not for me now!
No! you shall not sail about with her cub of a cousin, and leave me
at such a time."
"Christie, you shall not see that lady again. She came here to
part us. SHE IS IN LOVE WITH YOU. I was blind not to see it
Next day, as Lady Cicely sat alone in the morning-room thinking
over this very scene, a footman brought in a card and a note. "Dr.
Staines begs particularly to see Lady Cicely Treherne."
The lady's pale cheek colored; she stood irresolute a single
moment. "I will see Dr. Staines," said she.
Dr. Staines came in, looking pale and worn; he had not slept a wink
since she saw him last.
She looked at him full, and divined this at a glance. She motioned
him to a seat, and sat down herself, with her white hand pressing
her forehead, and her head turned a little away from him.
He told her he had come to thank her for her great kindness, and to
accept the offer.
She sighed. "I hoped it was to decline it. Think of the misery of
separation, both to you and her."
"It will be misery. But we are not happy as it is, and she cannot
bear poverty. Nor is it fair she should, when I can give her every
comfort by just playing the man for a year or two." He then told
Lady Cicely there were more reasons than he chose to mention: go he
must, and would; and he implored her not to let the affair drop.
In short, he was sad but resolved, and she found she must go on
with it, or break faith with him. She took her desk, and wrote a
letter concluding the bargain for him. She stipulated for half the
year's fee in advance. She read Dr. Staines the letter.
"You ARE a friend!" said he. "I should never have ventured on
that; it will be a godsend to my poor Rosa. You will be kind to
her when I am gone?"
"So will Uncle Philip, I think. I will see him before I go, and
shake hands. He has been a good friend to me; but he was too hard
upon HER; and I could not stand that."
Then he thanked and blessed her again, with the tears in his eyes,
and left her more disturbed and tearful than she had ever been
since she grew to woman. "O cruel poverty!" she thought, "that
such a man should be torn from his home, and thank me for doing it--
all for a little money--and here are we poor commonplace creatures
rolling in it."
Staines hurried home, and told his wife. She clung to him
convulsively, and wept bitterly; but she made no direct attempt to
shake his resolution; she saw, by his iron look, that she could
only afflict, not turn him.
Next day came Lady Cicely to see her. Lady Cicely was very uneasy
in her mind, and wanted to know whether Rosa was reconciled to the
Rosa received her with a forced politeness and an icy coldness that
petrified her. She could not stay long in face of such a
reception. At parting, she said, sadly, "You look on me as an
"What else can you expect, when you part my husband and me?" said
Rosa, with quiet sternness.
"I meant well," said Lady Cicely sorrowfully; "but I wish I had
"So do I," and she began to cry.
Lady Cicely made no answer. She went quietly away, hanging her
Rosa was unjust, but she was not rude nor vulgar; and Lady Cicely's
temper was so well governed that it never blinded her heart. She
withdrew, but without the least idea of quarrelling with her
afflicted friend, or abandoning her. She went quietly home, and
wrote to Lady ----, to say that she should be glad to receive Dr.
Staines's advance as soon as convenient, since Mrs. Staines would
have to make fresh arrangements, and the money might be useful.
The money was forthcoming directly. Lady Cicely brought it to Dear
Street, and handed it to Dr. Staines. His eyes sparkled at the
sight of it.
"Give my love to Rosa," said she softly, and cut her visit very
Staines took the money to Rosa, and said, "See what our best friend
has brought us. You shall have four hundred, and I hope, after the
bitter lessons you have had, you will be able to do with that for
some months. The two hundred I shall keep as a reserve fund for
you to draw on."
"No, no!" said Rosa. "I shall go and live with my father, and
never spend a penny. O Christie, if you knew how I hate myself for
the folly that is parting us! Oh, why don't they teach girls sense
and money, instead of music and the globes?"
But Christopher opened a banking account for her, and gave her a
check-book, and entreated her to pay everything by check, and run
no bills whatever; and she promised. He also advertised the Bijou,
and put a bill in the window: "The lease of this house, and the
furniture, to be sold."
Rosa cried bitterly at sight of it, thinking how high in hope they
were, when they had their first dinner there, and also when she
went to her first sale to buy the furniture cheap.
And now everything moved with terrible rapidity. The Amphitrite
was to sail from Plymouth in five days; and, meantime, there was so
much to be done, that the days seemed to gallop away.
Dr. Staines forgot nothing. He made his will in duplicate, leaving
all to his wife; he left one copy at Doctors' Commons and another
with his lawyer; inventoried all his furniture and effects in
duplicate, too; wrote to Uncle Philip, and then called on him to
seek a reconciliation. Unfortunately, Dr. Philip was in Scotland.
At last this sad pair went down to Plymouth together, there to meet
Lord Tadcaster and go on board H.M.S. Amphitrite, lying out at
anchor, under orders for the Australian Station.
They met at the inn, as appointed; and sent word of their arrival
on board the frigate, asking to remain on shore till the last
Dr. Staines presented his patient to Rosa; and after a little while
drew him apart and questioned him professionally. He then asked
for a private room. Here he and Rosa really took leave; for what
could the poor things say to each other on a crowded quay? He
begged her forgiveness, on his knees, for having once spoken
harshly to her, and she told him, with passionate sobs, he had
never spoken harshly to her; her folly it was had parted them.
Poor wretches! they clung together with a thousand vows of love and
constancy. They were to pray for each other at the same hours: to
think of some kind word or loving act, at other stated hours; and
so they tried to fight with their suffering minds against the cruel
separation; and if either should die, the other was to live wedded
to memory, and never listen to love from other lips; but no! God
was pitiful; He would let them meet again ere long, to part no
more. They rocked in each other's arms; they cried over each
other--it was pitiful.
At last the cruel summons came; they shuddered, as if it was their
death-blow. Christopher, with a face of agony, was yet himself,
and would have parted then: and so best. But Rosa could not. She
would see the last of him, and became almost wild and violent when
he opposed it.
Then he let her come with him to Milbay Steps; but into the boat he
would not let her step.
The ship's boat lay at the steps, manned by six sailors, all
seated, with their oars tossed in two vertical rows. A smart middy
in charge conducted them, and Dr. Staines and Lord Tadcaster got
in, leaving Rosa, in charge of her maid, on the quay.
"Shove off"--"Down"--"Give way."
Each order was executed so swiftly and surely that, in as many
seconds, the boat was clear, the oars struck the water with a loud
splash, and the husband was shot away like an arrow, and the wife's
despairing cry rang on the stony quay, as many a poor woman's cry
had rung before.
In half a minute the boat shot under the stern of the frigate.
They were received on the quarter-deck by Captain Hamilton: he
introduced them to the officers--a torture to poor Staines, to have
his mind taken for a single instant from his wife--the first
lieutenant came aft, and reported, "Ready for making sail, sir."
Staines seized the excuse, rushed to the other side of the vessel,
leaned over the taffrail, as if he would fly ashore, and stretched
out his hands to his beloved Rosa; and she stretched out her hands
to him. They were so near, he could read the expression of her
face. It was wild and troubled, as one who did not yet realize the
terrible situation, but would not be long first.
"HANDS MAKE SAIL--AWAY, ALOFT--UP ANCHOR"--rang in Christopher's
ear, as if in a dream. All his soul and senses were bent on that
desolate young creature. How young and amazed her lovely face!
Yet this bewildered child was about to become a mother. Even a
stranger's heart might have yearned with pity for her: how much
more her miserable husband's!
The capstan was manned, and worked to a merry tune that struck
chill to the bereaved; yards were braced for casting, anchor hove,
catted, and fished, sail was spread with amazing swiftness, the
ship's head dipped, and slowly and gracefully paid off towards the
breakwater, and she stood out to sea under swiftly-swelling canvas
and a light north-westerly breeze.
Staines only felt the motion: his body was in the ship, his soul
with his Rosa. He gazed, he strained his eyes to see her eyes, as
the ship glided from England and her. While he was thus gazing and
trembling all over, up came to him a smart second lieutenant, with
a brilliant voice that struck him like a sword. "Captain's orders
to show you berths; please choose for Lord Tadcaster and yourself."
The man's wild answer made the young officer stare. "Oh, sir! not
now--try and do my duty when I have quite lost her--my poor wife--a
child--a mother--there--sir--on the steps--there!--there!"
Now this officer always went to sea singing "Oh be joyful." But a
strong man's agony, who can make light of it? It was a revelation
to him; but he took it quickly. The first thing he did, being a
man of action, was to dash into his cabin, and come back with a
short, powerful double glass. "There!" said he roughly, but
kindly, and shoved it into Staines's hand. He took it, stared at
it stupidly, then used it, without a word of thanks, so wrapped was
he in his anguish.
This glass prolonged the misery of that bitter hour. When Rosa
could no longer tell her husband from another, she felt he was
really gone, and she threw her hands aloft, and clasped them above
her head, with the wild abandon of a woman who could never again be
a child; and Staines saw it, and a sharp sigh burst from him, and
he saw her maid and others gather round her. He saw the poor young
thing led away, with her head all down, as he had never seen her
before, and supported to the inn; and then he saw her no more.
His heart seemed to go out of his bosom in search of her, and leave
nothing but a stone behind: he hung over the taffrail like a dead
thing. A steady foot-fall slapped his ear. He raised his white
face and filmy eyes, and saw Lieutenant Fitzroy marching to and fro
like a sentinel, keeping everybody away from the mourner, with the
steady, resolute, business-like face of a man in whom sentiment is
confined to action; its phrases and its flourishes being literally
terra incognita to the honest fellow.
Staines staggered towards him, holding out both hands, and gasped
out, "God bless you. Hide me somewhere--must not be seen SO--got
duty to do--Patient--can't do it yet--one hour to draw my breath--
oh, my God, my God!--one hour, sir. Then do my duty, if I die--as
Fitzroy tore him down into his own cabin, shut him in and ran to
the first lieutenant, with a tear in his eye. "Can I have a
"Sentry! What for?"
"The doctor--awfully cut up at leaving his wife: got him in my
cabin. Wants to have his cry to himself."
"Fancy a fellow crying at going to sea!"
"It is not that, sir; it is leaving his wife."
"Well, is he the only man on board that has got a wife?"
"Why, no, sir. It is odd, now I think of it. Perhaps he has only
got that ONE."
"Curious creatures, landsmen," said the first lieutenant.
"However, you can stick a marine there."
"And I say, show the YOUNGSTER the berths, and let him choose, as
the doctor's aground."
So Fitzoy planted his marine, and then went after Lord Tadcaster:
he had drawn up alongside his cousin, Captain Hamilton. The
captain, being an admirer of Lady Cicely, was mighty civil to his
little lordship, and talked to him more than was his wont on the
quarterdeck; for though he had a good flow of conversation, and
dispensed with ceremony in his cabin, he was apt to be rather short
on deck. However, he told little Tadcaster he was fortunate; they