Part 4 out of 12
weeks; just that'll make all the difference. The beginning's
everything, isn't it?'
Richard's eye travelled over her face. He was not without
understanding of the nobleness which housed in that plain-clad,
simple-featured woman there before him. It had shot a ray to the
secret places of his heart before now; it breathed a passing summer
along his veins at this present.
'What need is there to bother?' he said, of purpose fixing his eye
steadily on hers. 'Work 'll come in time, I dare say. Let them look
after their house.'
Perhaps Emma detected something not wholly sincere in this
suggestion. She let her eyes fall, then raised them more quickly.
'Oh, but it's far better, Richard; and we really have made a
beginning. Jane, I'm sure, wouldn't hear of giving it up. It's
wonderful what spirits she has. And she'd be miserable if she wasn't
trying to work--I know so well how it would be. Just a few weeks
longer. She really does get much better, and she says it's all "the
business." It gives her something to occupy her mind.'
'Well, it's just as you like,' said Richard, rather absently.
'But you do think it best, don't you, dear?' she urged. 'It's good
to finish things you begin, isn't it? I should feel rather
dissatisfied with myself if I gave it up, and just when everything's
promising. I believe it's what you really would wish me to do.'
'All right. I'll get the house furnished. But I can't give you much
He continued to talk in a mechanical way for a quarter of an hour,
principally of the works; then said that he had promised to be home
for supper. and took a rather hasty leave. He called good-night to
the sisters from the top of the kitchen stairs.
Jane's face was full of joyous questioning as soon as her sister
reappeared, but Emma disclosed nothing till they two were. alone in
the bed-room. To Emma it was the simplest thing in the world to put
a duty before pleasure; she had no hesitation in telling her sister
how matters stood. And the other accepted it as pure love.
'I'm sure it'll only be a week or two before we can manage for
ourselves,' Jane said. 'Of course, people are far readier to give
you work than they would be to me or Kate. But it'll be all right
when we're once started.'
'I shall be very sorry to leave you, dear,' murmured Emma. 'You'll
have to be sure and let me know if you're not feeling well, and I
shall come at once.'
'As if you could do that!' laughed the other. 'Besides, it'll be
quite enough to keep me well to know you're happy.'
'I do hope Kate won't be trying.'
'Oh, I'm sure she won't. Why, it's quite a long time since she had
one of her worst turns. It was only the hard work and the trouble as
worried her. And now that's all over. It's you we have to thank for
it all, Em.'
'You'll have to come and be with me sometimes, Jane. I know there'll
always be something missing as long as you're out of my sight. And
you must see to it yourself that the sheets is always aired; Kate's
often so careless about that. You will promise me now, won't you? I
shall be dreadfully anxious every washing day, I shall indeed. You
know that the least thing'll give you a chill.'
'Yes, I'll be careful,' said the other, half sadly. She was lying in
her bed, and Emma sat on a chair by the side. 'But you know it's not
much use, love. I don't suppose as I shall live so very long. But I
don't care, as soon as I know you're happy.'
'Jane, I should never know happiness if I hadn't my little sister to
come and talk to. Don't think like that, don't for my sake, Janey
They laid their cheeks together upon the pillows.
'He'll be a good husband,' Jane whispered. 'You know that, don't
'No better in all this world! Why do you ask so?'
'No--no--I didn't mean anything. He said you mustn't wait much
longer, didn't he?'
'Yes, he did. But he'd rather see me doing what's right. I often
feel myself such a poor thing by him. I must try and show him that I
do my best to follow his example. I'm ashamed almost, sometimes, to
think I shall be his wife. It ought to be some one better than me.'
'Where would he find any one better, I'd like to know? Let him come
and ask me about that! There's no man good enough for you, sister
Richard was talking with his sister Alice; the others had gone to
bed, and the house was quiet.
'I wasn't at all pleased to see that man here to-night,' he said.
'You shouldn't have been so ready to say yes when he asked you to go
to the theatre. It was like his impudence!'
'Why, what ever's the harm, Dick? Besides, we must have some
friends, and--really he looks a gentleman.'
I'll tell you a secret,' returned her brother, with a half-smile,
half-sneer. 'You don't know a gentleman yet, and you'll have to be
very careful till you do.'
'How am I to learn, then?'
'Just wait. You've got enough to do with your music and your
reading. Time enough for getting acquainted with gentlemen.'
'Aren't you going to let anybody come and see us, then?'
'You have the old friends,' replied Richard, raising his chin.
'You're thinking of Mr. Dabbs, I suppose. What did he want to see
you for, Dick?'
Alice looked at him from the corner of her eye.
'I think I'll tell you. He says he doesn't intend to come here
again. You've made him feel uncomfortable.'
The girl laughed.
'I can't help how he feels, can I? At all events, Mr. Dabbs isn't a
gentleman, is he, now?'
'He's an honest man, and that's saying a good deal, let me tell you.
I rather thought you liked him.'
'Liked him? Oh, in a way, of course. But things are different.'
Alice looked up, put her head on one side, smiled her prettiest, and
'Is it true, what 'Arry says--about the money?'
He had wanted to get at this, and was, on the whole, not sorry to
hear it. Richard was studying the derivation of virtue from
'What if it is?' he asked.
'Well, it makes things more different even than I thought, that's
She sprang to her feet and danced across the room, one hand bent
over her head. It was not an ungraceful picture. Her brother smiled.
'Alice, you'd better be guided by me. I know a little of the world,
and I can help you where you'd make mistakes. Just keep to yourself
for a little, my girl, and get on with your piano and your books.
You can't do better, believe me. Never mind whether you've any one
to see you or not; there's time enough. And I'll tell you another
secret. Before you can tell a gentleman when you see him, you'll
have to teach yourself to be a lady. Perhaps that isn't quite so
easy as you think.'
'How am I to learn then?'
'We'll find a way before long. Get on with your playing and
Presently, as they were about to leave the room, the Princess
'Dick, how soon are you going to be married?'
'I can't tell you,' was the answer. 'Emma wants to put it off.'
The declaration of independence so nobly delivered by his brother
'Arry necessitated Richard's stay in town over the following day.
The matter was laid before a family council, held after breakfast in
the dining-room. Richard opened the discussion with some vehemence,
and appealed to his mother and Alice for support. Alice responded
heartily; Mrs. Mutimer was slower in coming to utterance, but at
length expressed herself in no doubtful terms.
'If he don't go to his work,' she said sternly, 'it's either him or
me'll have to leave this house. If he wants to disgrace us all and
ruin himself, he shan't do it under my eyes.'
Was there ever a harder case? A high-spirited British youth asserts
his intention of living a life of elegant leisure, and is forthwith
scouted as a disgrace to the family. 'Arry sat under the gross
injustice with an air of doggish defiance.
'I thought you said I was to go to Wanley?' he exclaimed at length,
angrily, glaring at his brother.
Richard avoided the look.
'You'll have to learn to behave yourself first,' he replied. 'If you
can't be trusted to do your duty here, you're no good to me at
'Arry would give neither yes nor no. The council broke up after
formulating an ultimatum.
In the afternoon Richard had another private talk with the lad. This
time he addressed himself solely to 'Arry's self-interest, explained
to him the opportunities he would lose if he neglected to make
himself a practical man. What if there was money waiting for him?
The use of money was to breed money, and nowadays no man was rich
who didn't constantly increase his capital. As a great ironmaster,
he would hold a position impossible for him to attain in any other
way; he would employ hundreds, perhaps thousands, of men; society
would recognise him. What could he expect to be if he did nothing
but loaf about the streets?
This was going the right way to work. Richard found that he was
making an impression, and gradually fell into a kinder tone, so that
in the end he brought 'Arry to moderately cheerful acquiescence.
'And don't let men like that Keene make a fool of you,' the monitor
concluded. 'Can't you see that fellows like him'll hang on and make
their profit out of you if you know no better than to let them? You
just keep to yourself, and look after your own future.'
A suggestion that cunning was required of him flattered the youth to
some purpose. He had begun to reflect that after all it might be
more profitable to combine work and pleasure. He agreed to pursue
the course planned for him.
So Richard returned to Wanley, carrying with him a small
satisfaction and many great anxieties. Nor did he visit London again
until four weeks had gone by; it was understood that the pressure of
responsibilities grew daily more severe. New Wanley, as the
industrial settlement in the valley was to be named, was shaping
itself in accordance with the ideas of the committee with which
Mutimer took counsel, and the undertaking was no small one.
In spite of Emma's cheerful anticipations, 'the business' meanwhile
made little progress. A graver trouble was the state of Jane's
health; the sufferer seemed wasting away. Emma devoted herself to
her sister. Between her and Mutimer there was no further mention of
marriage. In Emma's mind a new term had fixed itself--that of her
sister's recovery; but there were dark moments when dread came to
her that not Jane's recovery, but something else, would set her
free. In the early autumn Richard persuaded her to take the invalid
to the sea-side, and to remain with her there for three weeks. Mrs.
Clay during that time lived alone, and was very content to receive
her future brother-in-law's subsidy, without troubling about the
work which would not come in.
Autumn had always been a peaceful and bounteous season at Wanley;
then the fruit trees bent beneath their golden charge, and the air
seemed rich with sweet odours. But the autumn of this year was
unlike any that had visited the valley hitherto. Blight had fallen
upon all produce; the crop of apples and plums was bare beyond
precedent. The west wind breathing up between the hill-sides only
brought smoke from newly-built chimneys; the face of the fields was
already losing its purity and taking on a dun hue. Where a large
orchard had flourished were two streets of small houses, glaring
with new brick and slate The works were extending by degrees, and a
little apart rose the walls of a large building which would contain
library, reading rooms, and lecture-hall, for the use of the
industrial community. New Wanley was in a fair way to claim for
itself a place on the map.
The Manor was long since furnished, and Richard entertained
visitors. He had provided himself with a housekeeper, as well as the
three or four necessary servants, and kept a saddle-horse as well as
that which drew his trap to and fro when he had occasion to go to
Agworth station. His establishment was still a modest one; all
things considered, it could not be deemed inconsistent with his
professions. Of course, stories to the contrary got about; among his
old comrades in London, thoroughgoing Socialists like Messrs. Cowes
and Cullen, who perhaps thought themselves a little neglected by.
the great light of the Union, there passed occasionally nods and
winks, which were meant to imply much. There were rumours of
banqueting which went on at Wanley; the Manor was spoken of by some
who had not seen it as little less than a palace--nay, it was
declared by one or two of the shrewder tongued that a manservant in
livery opened the door, a monstrous thing if true. Worse than this
was the talk which began to spread among the Hoxton and Islington
Unionists of a certain young woman in a poor position to whom
Mutimer had in former days engaged himself, and whom be did not now
find it convenient to marry. A few staunch friends Richard had, who
made it their business stoutly to contradict the calumnies which
came within their hearing, Daniel Dabbs the first of them. But even
Daniel found himself before long preferring silence to speech on the
subject of Emma Vine. He grew uncomfortable about it, and did not
know what to think.
The first of Richard's visitors at the Manor were Mr. and Mrs.
Westlake. They came down from London one day, and stayed over till
the next. Other prominent members of the Union followed, and before
the end of the autumn Richard entertained some dozen of the rank and
file, all together, paying their railway fares and housing them from
Saturday to Monday. These men. be it noted in passing, distinguished
themselves from that day onwards by unsparing detraction whenever
the name of Mutimer came up in private talk, though, of course, they
were the loudest in applause when platform reference to their leader
demanded it. Besides the expressly invited, there was naturally no
lack of visitors who presented themselves voluntarily. Among the
earliest of these was Mr. Keene, the journalist. He sent in his name
one Sunday morning requesting an interview on a matter of business,
and on being admitted, produced a copy of the 'Belwick Chronicle,'
which contained a highly eulogistic semi-biographic notice of
'I feel I ought to apologise to you for this liberty,' said Keene,
in his flowing way, 'and that is why I have brought the paper
myself. You will observe that it is one of a seris--notable men of
the day. I supply the "Chronicle" with a London letter, and give
them one of these little sketches fortnightly. I knew your modesty
would stand in the way if I consulted you in advance, so I can only
beg pardon _post delictum_, as we say.'
There stood the heading in bold type, 'MEN OF THE DAY,' and beneath
it 'XI. Mr. Richard Mutimer.' Mr. Keene had likewise brought in his
pocket the placard of the newspaper, whereon Richard saw his name
prominently displayed. The journalist stayed for luncheon.
Alfred Waltham was frequently at the Manor. Mutimer now seldom went
up to town for Sunday; if necessity took him thither, he chose some
week-day. On Sunday he always spent a longer or shorter time with
the Walthams, frequently having dinner at their house. He hesitated
at first to invite the ladies to the Manor; in his uncertainty on
social usages he feared lest there might be impropriety in a
bachelor giving such an invitation. He appealed to Alfred, who
naturally laughed the scruple to scorn, and accordingly Mrs. and
Miss Waltham were begged to honour Mr. Mutimer with their company.
Mrs. Waltham reflected a little, but accepted. Adela would much
rather have remained at home, but she had no choice.
By the end of September this invitation had been repeated, and the
Walthams had lunched a second time at the Manor, no other guests
being present. On the afternoon of the following day Mrs. Waltham
and her daughter were talking together in their sitting-room, and
the former led the conversation, as of late she almost invariably
did when alone with her daughter, to their revolutionary friend.
'I can't help thinking, Adela, that in all essentials I never knew a
more gentlemanly man than Mr. Mutimer. There must be something
superior in his family; no doubt we were altogether mistaken in
speaking of him as a mechanic.'
'But he has told us himself that he was a mechanic,' replied Adela,
in the impatient way in which she was wont to speak on this subject.
'Oh, that is his modesty. And not only modesty; his views lead him
to pride himself on a poor origin. He was an engineer, and we know
that engineers are in reality professional men. Remember old Mr.
Mutimer; he was a perfect gentleman. I have no doubt the family is
really a very good one. Indeed, I am all but sure that I remember
the name in Hampshire; there was a Sir something Mutimer--I'm
convinced of it. No one really belonging to the working class ever
bore himself as Mr. Mutimer does. Haven't you noticed the shape of
his hands, my dear?'
'I've only noticed that they are very large, and just what you would
expect in a man who had done much rough work.'
Mrs. Waltham laughed noisily.
'My dear child, how _can_ you be so perverse? The shape of the
fingers is perfect. Do pray notice them next time.'
'I really cannot promise, mother, to give special attention to Mr.
Mrs. Waltham glanced at the girl, who had laid down a book she was
trying to read, and, with lowered eyes, seemed to be collecting
herself for further utterance.
'Why are you so prejudiced, Adela?'
'I am not prejudiced at all. I have no interest of any kind in Mr.
The words were spoken hurriedly and with a ring almost of hostility.
At the same time the girl's cheeks flushed. She felt herself hard
beset. A network was being woven about her by hands she could not
deem other than loving; it was time to exert herself that the meshes
might not be completed, and the necessity cost her a feeling of
'But your brother's friend, my dear. Surely you ought not to say
that you have no interest in him at all.'
'I do say it, mother, and I wish to say it so plainly that you
cannot after this mistake me. Alfred's friends are very far from
being necessarily my friends. Not only have I no interest in Mr.
Mutimer, I even a little dislike him.'
'I had no idea of that, Adela,' said her mother, rather blankly.
'But it is the truth, and I feel I ought to have tried to make you
understand that sooner. I thought you would see that I had no
pleasure in speaking of him.'
'But how is it possible to dislike him? I confess that is very hard
for me to understand. I am sure his behaviour to you is perfect--so
entirely respectful, so gentlemanly.'
'No, mother, that is not quite the word to use. You are mistaken;
Mr. Mutimer is _not_ a perfect gentleman.'
It was said with much decision, for to Adela's mind this clenched
her argument. Granted the absence of certain qualities which she
held essential in a gentleman, there seemed to her no reason for
another word on the subject.
'Pray, when has he misbehaved himself?' inquired her mother, with a
touch of pique.
'I cannot go into details. Mr. Mutimer has no doubt many excellent
qualities; no doubt he is really an earnest and a well-meaning man.
But if I am asked to say more than that, it must be the truth--as it
seems to me. Please, mother dear, don't ask me to talk about him in
future. And there is something else I wish to say. I do hope you
won't be offended with me, but indeed I--I hope you will not ask me
to go to the Manor again. I feel I ought not to go. It is painful; I
suffer when I am there.'
'How strange you are to-day, Adela! Really, I think you might allow
me to decide what is proper and what is not. My experience is surely
the best judge. You are worse than unkind, Adela; it's rude to speak
to me like that.'
'Dear mother,' said the girl, with infinite gentleness, 'I am very,
very sorry. How could I be unkind or rude. to you? I didn't for a
moment mean that my judgment was better than yours; it is my
feelings that I speak of. You won't ask me to explain--to say more
than that? You must understand me?'
'Oh yes, my dear, I understand you too well,' was the stiff reply.
'Of course I am old-fashioned, and I suppose old-fashioned people
are a little coarse; _their_ feelings are not quite as fine as they
might be. We will say no more for the present, Adela. I will do my
best not to lead you into disagreeable situations through my lack of
There were tears in Adela's eyes.
'Mother, now it is you who are unkind. I am so sorry that I spoke.
You won't take my words as they were meant. Must I say that I cannot
let Mr. Mutimer misunderstand the way in which. I regard him? He
comes here really so very often, and if we begin to go there too--.
People are talking about it, indeed they are; Letty has told me so.
How can I help feeling pained?'
Mrs. Waltham drew out her handkerchief and appeared mildly agitated.
When Adela bent and kissed her she sighed deeply, then said in an
undertone of gentle melancholy:
'I ask your pardon, my dear. I am afraid there has been a little
misunderstanding on both sides. But we won't talk any more of
By which the good lady of course meant that she would renew the
subject on the very earliest opportunity, and that, on the whole,
she was not discouraged. Mothers are often unaware of their
daughters' strong points, but their weaknesses they may be trusted
to understand pretty well.
The little scene was just well over, and Adela had taken a seat by
the window, when a gentleman who was approaching the front door saw
her and raised his hat. She went very pale.
The next moment there was a knock at the front door.
'Mother,' the girl whispered, as if she could not speak louder, 'it
is Mr. Eldon.'
'Mr. Eldon?' Mrs. Waltham drew herself up with dignity, then started
from her seat. 'The idea of his daring to come here!'
She intercepted the servant who was going to open the door.
'Jane, we are not at home!'
The maid stood in astonishment. She was not used to the polite
fictions of society; never before had that welcome mortal, an
afternoon visitor, been refused at Mrs. Waltham's.
'What did you say, please, mum?'
'You will say that we are not at home, neither I nor Miss Waltham.'
Even if Hubert Eldon had not seen Adela at the window he must have
been dull not to read the meaning of the servant's singular face and
tone. He walked away with a quiet 'Thank you.'
Mrs. Waltham cast a side glance at Adela when she heard the outer
door close. The girl had reopened her book.
'I'm not sorry that he came. Was there ever such astonishing
impudence? If _that_ is gentlemanly, then I must confess I--Really I
am not at all sorry he came: it will give him a lesson.'
'Mr. Eldon may have had some special reason for calling,' Adela
'My dear, I have no business of any kind with Mr. Eldon, and it is
impossible that he can have any with me.'
Adela very shortly went from the room.
That evening Richard had for guest at dinner Mr. Willis Rodman; so
that gentleman named himself on his cards, and so he liked to be
announced. Mr. Rodman was invaluable as surveyor of the works; his
experience appeared boundless, and had been acquired in many lands.
He was now a Socialist of the purest water, and already he enjoyed
more of Mutimer's intimacy than anyone else. Richard not seldom
envied the easy and, as it seemed to him, polished manner of his
subordinate, and wondered at it the more since Rodman declared
himself a proletarian by birth, and, in private, was fond of
referring to the hardships of his early life. That there may be no
needless mystery about Mr. Rodman, I am under the necessity of
stating the fact that he was the son of a prosperous railway
contractor, that he was born in Canada, and would have succeeded to
a fortune on his father's death, but for an unhappy _contretemps_ in
the shape of a cheque, whereof Mr. Rodman senior (the name was not
Rodman, but the true one is of no importance) disclaimed the
signature. From that day to the present good and ill luck had
alternated in the young man's career. His fortunes in detail do not
concern us just now; there will be future occasion for returning to
'Young Eldon has been in Wanley to-day,' Mr. Rodman remarked as he
sat over his wine after dinner.
'Has he?' said Richard, with indifference. 'What's he been after?'
'I saw him going up towards the Walthams'.'
Richard exhibited more interest.
'Is he a particular friend of theirs?' he asked. He had gathered
from Alfred Waltham that there had been a certain intimacy between
the 'two families, but desired more detailed information than his
disciple had offered.
'Well, he used to be,' replied Rodman, with a significant smile.
'But I don't suppose Mrs. W. gave him a very affectionate reception
to-day. His little doings have rather startled the good people of
Wanley, especially since he has lost his standing. It wouldn't have
mattered much, I dare say, but for that.'
'But was there anything particular up there?'
Mutimer had a careworn expression as he asked, and he nodded his
head as if in the direction of the village with a certain weariness.
'I'm not quite sure. Some say there was, and others deny it, as I
gather from general conversation. But I suppose it's at an end now,
in any case.'
'Mrs. Waltham would see to that, you mean?' said Mutimer, with a
Rodman made his glass revolve, his fingers on the stem.
'Take another cigar. I suppose they're not too well off, the
'Mrs. Waltham has an annuity of two hundred and fifty pounds, that's
all. The girl--Miss Waltham--has nothing.'
'How the deuce do you get to know so much about people, Rodman?'
The other smiled modestly, and made a silent gesture, as if to
disclaim any special abilities.
'So he called there to-day? I wonder whether he stayed long?'
'I will let you know to-morrow.'
On the morrow Richard learnt that Hubert Eldon had been refused
admittance. The information gave him pleasure. Yet all through the
night he had been earnestly hoping that he might hear something
quite different, had tried to see in Eldon's visit a possible
salvation for himself. For the struggle which occupied him more and
more had by this time declared its issues plainly enough; daily the
temptation became stronger, the resources of honour more feeble. In
the beginning he had only played with dangerous thoughts; to break
faith with Emma Vine had appeared an impossibility, and a marriage
such as his fancy substituted, the most improbable of things. But in
men of Richard's stamp that which allures the fancy will, if
circumstances give but a little encouragement, soon take hold upon
the planning brain. His acquaintance with the Walthams had ripened
to intimacy, and custom nourished his self-confidence; moreover, he
could not misunderstand the all but direct encouragement which on
one or two recent occasions he had received from Mrs. Waltham. That
lady had begun to talk to him, when they were alone together, in
almost a motherly way, confiding to him this or that peculiarity in
the characters of her children, deploring her inability to give
Adela the pleasures suitable to her age, then again pointing out the
advantage it was to a girl to have all her thoughts centred in home.
'I can truly say,' remarked Mrs. Waltham in the course of the latest
such conversation, 'that Adela has never given me an hour's serious
uneasiness. The dear child has, I believe, no will apart from her
desire to please me. Her instincts are so beautifully submissive.'
To a man situated like Mutimer this tone is fatal. In truth it
seemed to make offer to him of what he supremely desired. No such
encouragement had come from Adela herself, but that meant nothing
either way; Richard had already perceived that maidenly reserve was
a far more complex matter in a girl of gentle breeding, than in
those with whom he had formerly associated; for all he knew,
increase of distance in manner might represent the very hope that he
was seeking. That hope he sought, in all save the hours when
conscience lorded over silence, with a reality of desire such as he
had never known. Perhaps it was not Adela, and Adela alone, that
inspired this passion; it was a new ideal of the feminine addressing
itself to his instincts. Adela had the field to herself, and did
indeed embody in almost an ideal degree the fine essence of
distinctly feminine qualities which appeal most strongly to the
masculine mind. Mutimer was not capable of love in the highest
sense; he was not, again, endowed with strong appetite; but his
nature contained possibilities of refinement which, in a situation
like the present, constituted motive force the same in its effects
as either form of passion. He was suffering, too, from the _malaise_
peculiar to men who suddenly acquire riches; secret impulses drove
him to gratifications which would not otherwise have troubled his
thoughts. Of late he had been yielding to several such caprices. One
morning the idea possessed him that he must have a horse for riding,
and he could not rest till the horse was purchased and in his
stable. It occurred to him once at dinner time that there were
sundry delicacies which he knew by name but had never tasted;
forthwith he gave orders that these delicacies should be supplied to
him, and so there appeared upon his breakfast table a
_pate de foie gras_. Very similar in kind was his desire
to possess Adela Waltham.
And the voice of his conscience lost potency, though it troubled him
more than ever, even as a beggar will sometimes become rudely
clamorous when he sees that there is no real hope of extracting an
alms. Richard was embarked on the practical study of moral
philosophy; he learned more in these months of the constitution of
his inner being than all his literature of 'free thought' had been
able to convey to him. To break with Emma, to cast his faith to the
winds, to be branded henceforth in the sight of his intimate friends
as a mere traitor, and an especially mean one to boot--that at the
first blush was of the things so impossible that one does not
trouble to study their bearings. But the wall of habit once
breached, the citadel of conscience laid bare, what garrison was
revealed? With something like astonishment, Richard came to
recognise that the garrison was of the most contemptible and
tatterdemalion description. Fear of people's talk--absolutely
nothing else stood in his way.
Had he, then, no affection for Emma? Hardly a scrap. He had never
even tried 'to persuade himself that he was in love with her, and
the engagement had on his side been an affair of cool reason. His
mother had practically brought it about; for years it had been a pet
project of hers, and her joy was great in its realisation. Mrs. Vine
and she had been lifelong gossips; she knew that to Emma had
descended the larger portion of her parent's sterling qualities, and
that Emma was the one wife for such a man as Richard. She talked him
into approval. In those days Richard had no dream of wedding above
his class, and he understood very well that Emma Vine was
distinguished in many ways from the crowd of working girls. There
was no one else he wished to marry. Emma would feel herself honoured
by his choice, and, what he had not himself observed, his mother led
him to see that yet deeper feelings were concerned on the girl's
side. This flattered him--a form of emotion to which he was ever
susceptible--and the match was speedily arranged.
He had never repented. The more he knew of Emma, the more
confirmation his favourable judgments received. He even knew at
times a stirring of the senses, which is the farthest that many of
his kind ever progress in the direction of love. Of the nobler
features in Emma's character, he of course remained ignorant; they
did not enter into his demands upon woman, and he was unable to
discern them even when they were brought prominently before him. She
would keep his house admirably, would never contradict him, would
mother his children to perfection, and even would, go so far as to
take an intelligent interest in the Propaganda. What more could a
man look for?
So there was no strife between old love and new; so far as it
concerned himself, to put Emma aside would not cost a pang. The
garrison was absolutely mere tongue, mere gossip of public-house
bars, firesides, etc.--more serious, of the Socialist lecture-rooms.
And what of the girl's own feeling? Was there no sense of compassion
in him? Very little. And in saying so I mean anything but to convey
that Mutimer was conspicuously hard-hearted. The fatal defect in
working people is absence of imagination, the power which may be
solely a gift of nature and irrespective of circumstances, but which
in most of us owes so much to intellectual training. Half the brutal
cruelties perpetrated by uneducated men and women are directly
traceable to lack of the imaginative spirit, which comes to mean
lack of kindly sympathy. Mutimer, we know, had got for himself only
the most profitless of educations, and in addition nature had
scanted him on the emotional side. He could not enter into the
position of Emma deserted and hopeless. Want of money was
intelligible to him, so was bitter disappointment at the loss of a
good position; but the former he would not allow Emma to suffer, and
the latter she would, in the nature of things, soon get over. Her
love for him he judged by his own feeling, making allowance, of
course, for the weakness of women in affairs such as this. He might
admit that she would 'fret,' but the thought of her fretting did not
affect him as a reality. Emma had never been demonstrative, had
never sought to show him all that was in her heart; hence he rated
her devotion lightly.
The opinion of those who knew him! What of the opinion of Emma
herself? Yes, that went for much; he knew shame at the thought,
perhaps keener shame than in anticipating the judgment, say, of
Daniel Dabbs. No one of his acquaintances thought of him so highly
as Emma did; to see himself dethroned, the object of her contempt,
was a bitter pill to swallow. In all that concerned his own dignity
Richard was keenly appreciative; he felt in advance every pricking
of the blood that was in store for him if he became guilty of this
treachery. Yes, from that point of view he feared Emma Vine.
Considerations of larger scope did not come within the purview of
his intellect. It never occurred to him, for instance, that in
forfeiting his honour in this instance he began a process of
undermining which would sooner or later threaten the stability of
the purposes on which he most prided himself. A suggestion that
domestic perfidy was in the end incompatible with public zeal would
have seemed to him ridiculous, and for the simple reason that he
recognised no 'moral sanctions. He could not regard his nature as a
whole; he had no understanding for the subtle network of
communication between its various parts. Nay, he told himself that
the genuineness and value of his life's work would be increased by a
marriage with Adela Waltham; he and she would represent the union of
classes--of the wage-earning with the _bourgeois_, between which two
lay the real gist of the combat. He thought of this frequently, and
allowed the thought to inspirit him.
To the question of whether Adela would ever find out what he had
done, and, if so, with what result, he gave scarcely a moment.
Marriages are not undone by subsequent discovery of moral faults on
This is a tabular exposition of the man's consciousness. Logically,
there should result from it a self-possessed state of mind,
bordering on cynicism. But logic was not predominant in Mutimer's
constitution. So far from contemplating treason with the calm
intelligence which demands judgment on other grounds than the
common, he was in reality possessed by a spirit of perturbation.
Such reason as he could command bade him look up and view with scorn
the ragged defenders of the forts; but whence came this hail of
missiles which kept him so sore? Clearly there was some element of
his nature which eluded grasp and definition, a misty influence
making itself felt here and there. To none of the sources upon which
I have touched was it clearly traceable; in truth, it arose from
them all. The man had never in his life been guilty of offence
against his graver conscience; he had the sensation of being about
to plunge from firm footing into untried depths. His days were
troubled; his appetite was not what it should have been; he could
not take the old thorough interest in his work. It was becoming
clear to him that the matter must be settled one way or another with
One day at the end of September he received a letter addressed by
Alice. On opening it he found, with much surprise, that the contents
were in his mother's writing. It was so very rarely that Mrs.
Mutimer took up that dangerous instrument, the pen, that something
unusual must have led to her doing so at present. And, indeed, the
letter contained unexpected matter. There were numerous errors of
orthography, and the hand was not very legible; but Richard got at
the sense quickly enough.
'I write this,' began Mrs. Mutimer, 'because it's a long time since
you've been to see us, and because I want to say something that's
better written than spoken. I saw Emma last night, and I'm feeling
uncomfortable about her. She's getting very low, and that's the
truth. Not as she says anything, nor shows it, but she's got a deal
on her hands, and more on her mind. You haven't written to her for
three weeks. You'll be saying it's no business of mine, but I can't
stand by and see Emma putting up with things as there isn't no
reason. Jane is in a very bad way, poor girl; I can't think she'll
live long. Now, Dick, what I'm aiming at you'll see. I can't
understand why you don't get married and done with it. Jane won't
never be able to work again, and that Kate 'll never keep up a
dressmaking. Why don't you marry Emma, and take poor Jane to live
with you, where she could be well looked after? for she won't never
part from her sister. And she does so hope and pray to see Emma
married before she goes. You can't surely be waiting for her death.
Now, there's a good lad of mine, come and marry your wife at once,
and don't make delays. That's all, but I hope you'll think of it;
and so, from your affectionate old mother,
Richard read the letter several times, and sat at home through the
morning in despondency. It had got to the pass that he could not
marry Emma; for all his suffering he no longer gave a glance in that
direction. Not even if Adela Waltham refused him; to have a 'lady'
for his wife was now an essential in his plans for the future, and
he knew that the desired possession was purchasable for coin of the
realm. No way of retreat any longer; movement must be forward, at
He let a day intervene, then replied to his mother's letter. He
represented himself as worked to death and without a moment for his
private concerns; it was out of the question for him to marry for a
few weeks yet. He would write to Emma, and would send her all the
money she could possibly need to supply the sick girl with comforts.
She must keep up her courage, and be content to wait a short while
longer. He was quite sure she did not complain; it was only his
mother's fancy that she was in low spirits, except, of course, on
Another fortnight went by. Skies were lowering towards winter, and
the sides of the valley showed bare patches amid the rich-hued death
of leaves; ere long a night of storm would leave 'ruined choirs.'
Richard was in truth working hard. He had just opened a course of
lectures at a newly established Socialist branch in Belwick. The
extent of his daily correspondence threatened to demand the services
of a secretary in addition to the help already given by Rodman.
Moreover, an event of importance was within view; the New Wanley
Public Hall was completed, and its formal opening must be made an
occasion of ceremony. In that ceremony Richard would be the central
figure. He proposed to gather about him a representative company;
not only would the Socialist leaders attend as a matter of course,
invitations should also be sent to prominent men in the conventional
lines of politics. A speech from a certain Radical statesman, who
could probably be induced to attend, would command the attention of
the press. For the sake of preliminary trumpetings in even so humble
a journal as the 'Belwick Chronicle,' Mutimer put himself in
communication with Mr. Keene. That gentleman was now a recognised
visitor at the house in Highbury; there was frequent mention of him
in a close correspondence kept up between Richard and his sister at
this time. The letters which Alice received from Wanley were not
imparted to the other members of the family; she herself studied
them attentively, and with much apparent satisfaction.
For advice on certain details of the approaching celebration Richard
had recourse to Mrs. Waltham. He found her at home one rainy
morning. Adela, aware of his arrival, retreated to her little room
upstairs. Mrs. Waltham had a slight cold; it kept her close by the
fireside, and encouraged confidential talk.
'I have decided to invite about twenty people to lunch,' Richard
said. 'Just the members of the committee and a few others. It'll be
better than giving a dinner. Westlake's lecture will be over by four
o'clock, and that allows people to get away in good time. The
workmen's tea will be at half-past five.'
'You must have refreshments of some kind for casual comers,'
counselled Mrs. Waltham.
'I've thought of that. Rodman suggests that we shall get the
"Wheatsheaf" people to have joints and that kind of thing in the
refreshment-room at the Hall from half-past twelve to half-past one.
We could put up some notice to that effect in Agworth station.'
'Certainly, and inside the railway carriages.'
Mutimer's private line, which ran from the works to Agworth station,
was to convey visitors to New Wanley on this occasion.
'I think I shall have three or four ladies,' Richard pursued 'Mrs.
Westlake 'll be sure to come', and I think Mrs. Eddlestone--the wife
of the Trades Union man, you know. And I've been rather calculating
on you, Mrs. Waltham; do you think you could--?'
The lady's eyes were turned to the window, watching the sad steady
'Really, you're making a downright Socialist of me, Mr. Mutimer,'
she replied, with a laugh which betrayed a touch of sore throat.
'I'm half afraid to accept such an invitation. Shouldn't I be there
on false pretences, don't you think?'
Richard mused; his legs were crossed, and he swayed his foot up and
'Well, no, I can't see that. But I tell you what would make it
simpler: do you think Mr. Wyvern would come if I, asked him?'
'Ah, now, that would be capital! Oh, ask Mr. Wyvern by all means.
Then, of course, I should be delighted to accept.'
'But I haven't much hope that he'll come. I rather think he regards
me as his enemy. And, you see, I never go to church.'
'What a pity that is, Mr. Mutimer! Ah, if I could only persuade you
to think differently about those things! There really are so many
texts that read quite like Socialism; I was looking them over with
Adela on Sunday. What a sad thing it is that you go so astray t It
distresses me more than you think. Indeed, if I may tell you such a
thing, I pray for you nightly.'
Mutimer made a movement of discomfort, but laughed off the subject.
'I'll go and see the vicar, at all events,' he said. 'But must your
coming depend on his?'
Mrs. Waltham hesitated.
'It really would make things easier.'
'Might I, in that case, hope that Miss Waltham would come?'
Richard seemed to exert himself to ask the question. Mrs. Waltham
sank her eyes, smiled feebly, and in the end shook her head.
'On a public occasion, I'm really afraid--'
'I'm sure she would like to know Mrs. Westlake,' urged Richard,
without his usual confidence. 'And if you and her brother--'
'If it were not a Socialist gathering.'
Richard uncrossed his legs and sat for a moment looking into the
fire. Then he turned suddenly.
'Mrs. Waltham, may I ask her myself?'
She was visibly agitated. There was this time no affectation in the
tremulous lips and the troublous, unsteady eyes. Mrs. Waltham was
not by nature the scheming mother who is indifferent to the upshot
if she can once get her daughter loyally bound to a man of money.
Adela's happiness was a very real care to her; she would never have
opposed an unobjectionable union on which she found her daughter's
heart bent, but circumstances had a second time made offer of
brilliant advantages, and she had grown to deem it an ordinance of
the higher powers that Adela should marry possessions. She flattered
herself that her study of Mutimer's character had been profound; the
necessity of making such a study excused, she thought, any little
excess of familiarity in which she had indulged, for it had long
been clear to her that Mutimer would some day make an offer. He
lacked polish, it was true, but really he was more a gentleman than
a great many whose right to the name was never contested. And then
he had distinctly high aims: such a man could never be brutal in the
privacy of his home. There was every chance of his achieving some
kind of eminence; already she had suggested to him a Parliamentary
career, and the idea had not seemed altogether distasteful. Adela
herself was as yet far from regarding Mutimer in the light of a
future husband; it was perhaps true that she even disliked him. But
then a young girl's likes and dislikes have, as a rule, small
bearing on her practical content in the married state; so, at least,
Mrs. Waltham's experience led her to believe. Only, it was clear
that there must be no precipitancy. Let the ground be thoroughly
'May I advise you, Mr. Mutimer?' she said, in a lowered voice,
bending forward. 'Let me deliver the invitation. I think it would be
better, really. We shall see whether you can persuade Mr. Wyvern to
be present. I promise you to---n fact, not to interpose any obstacle
if Adela thinks she can be present at the lunch.'
'Then I'll leave it so,' said Richard, more cheerfully. Mrs. Waltham
could see that his nerves were in a dancing state. Really, he had
much fine feeling.
It being only midday, Richard directed his steps at once to the
Vicarage, and had the good fortune to find Mr. Wyvern within.
'Be seated, Mr. Mutimer; I'm, glad to see you,' was the vicar's
Their mutual intercourse had as yet been limited to an exchange of
courtesies in public, and one or two casual meetings at the
Walthams' house. Richard had felt shy of the vicar, whom he
perceived to be a clergyman of other than the weak-brained type, and
the circumstances of the case would not allow Mr. Wyvern to make
advances. The latter proceeded with friendliness of tone, speaking
of the progress of New Wanley.
'That's what I've come to see you about,' said Richard, trying to
put himself at ease by mentally comparing his own worldly estate
with that of his interlocutor, yet failing as often as he felt the
scrutiny of the vicar's dark-gleaming eye. 'We are going to open the
Hall.' He added details. 'I shall have a number of friends who are
interested in our undertaking to lunch with me on that day. I wish
to ask if you will give us the pleasure of your company.'
Mr. Wyvern reflected for a moment.
'Why, no, sir,' he replied at length, using the Johnsonian phrase
with grave courtesy. 'I'm afraid I cannot acknowledge your kindness
as I should wish to. Personally, I would accept your hospitality
with pleasure, but my position here, as I understand it, forbids me
to join you on that particular occasion.'
'Then personally you are not hostile to me, Mr. Wyvern?'
'To you personally, by no means.'
'But you don't like the movement?'
'In so far as it has the good of men in view it interests me, and I
respect its supporters.'
'But you think we go the wrong way to work?'
'That is my opinion, Mr. Mutimer.'
'What would you have us do?'
'To see faults is a much easier thing than to originate a sound
scheme. I am far from prepared with any plan of social
Nor could Mr. Wyvern be moved from the negative attitude, though
Mutimer pressed him.
'Well, I'm sorry you won't come,' Richard said as he rose to take
his leave. 'It didn't strike me that you would feel out of place.'
'Nor should I. But you will understand that my opportunities of
being useful in the village depend on the existence of sympathetic
feeling in my parishioners. It is my duty to avoid any behaviour
which could be misinterpreted.'
'Then you deliberately adapt yourself to the prejudices of
'I do so, deliberately,' assented the vicar, with one of his
Richard went away feeling sorry that he had courted this rejection.
He would never have thought of inviting a 'parson' but for Mrs.
Waltham's suggestion. After all, it it mattered little whether Adela
came to the luncheon or not. He had desired her presence because he
wished her to see him as an entertainer of guests such as the
Westlakes. whom she would perceive to be people of refinement; it
occurred to him, too, that such an occasion might aid his snit by
exciting her ambition; for he was anything but confident of
immediate success with Adela, especially since recent conversations
with Mrs. Waltham. But in any case she would attend the afternoon
ceremony, when his glory would be proclaimed.
Mrs. Waltham was anxiously meditative of plans for bringing Adela to
regard her Socialist wooer with more favourable eyes. She, too, had
hopes that Mutimer's fame in the mouths of men might prove an
attraction, yet she suspected a strength of principle in Adela which
might well render all such hopes vain. And she thought it only too
likely, though observation gave her no actual assurance of this,
that the girl still thought of Hubert Eldon in a way to render it
doubly hard for any other man to make an impression upon her. It was
dangerous, she knew, to express her abhorrence of Hubert too
persistently; yet, on the other hand, she was convinced that Adela
had been so deeply shocked by the revelations of Hubert's wickedness
that her moral nature would be in arms against her lingering
inclination. After much mental wear and tear, she decided to adopt
the strong course of asking Alfred's assistance. Alfred was sure to
view the proposed match with hearty approval, and, though he might
not have much influence directly, he could in all probability secure
a potent ally in the person of Letty Tew. This was rather a
brilliant idea; Mrs. Waltham waited impatiently for her son's return
from Belwick on Saturday.
She broached the subject to him with much delicacy.
'I am so convinced, Alfred, that it would be for your sister's
happiness. There really is no harm whatever in aiding her
inexperience; that is all that I wish to do. I'm sure you understand
'I understand well enough,' returned the young man; 'but if you
convince Adela against her will you'll do a clever thing. You've
been so remarkably successful in closing her mind against all
arguments of reason--'
'Now, Alfred, do not begin and talk in that way! It has nothing
whatever to do with the matter. This is entirely a personal
'Nothing of the kind. It's a question of religious prejudice. She
hates Mutimer because he doesn't go to church, there's the long and
short of it.'
'Adela very properly condemns his views, but that's quite a
different thing from hating him.'
'Oh dear, no; they're one and the same thing. Look at the history of
persecution. She would like to see him--and me too, I dare
say--brought to the stake.'
'Well, well, of course if you won't talk sensibly I had something to
'Let me hear it, then.'
'You yourself agree with me that there would be nothing to repent in
'On the contrary, I think she might consider herself precious lucky.
It's only that'--he looked dubious for a moment--'I'm not quite sure
whether she's the kind of girl to be content with a husband she
found she couldn't convert. I can imagine her marrying a rake on the
hope of bringing him to regular churchgoing, but then Mutimer
doesn't happen to be a blackguard, so he isn't very interesting to
'I know what you're thinking of, but I don't think we need take that
into account. And, indeed, we can't afford to take anything into
account but her establishment in a respectable and happy home. Our
choice, as you are aware, is not a wide one. I am often deeply
anxious about the poor girl.'
'I dare say. Well, what was your proposal?'
'Do you think Letty could help us?'
'H'm, can't say. Might or might not. She's as bad as Adela. Ten to
one it'll be a point of conscience with her to fight the project
tooth and nail.'
'I don't think so. She has accepted you.'
'So she has, to my amazement. Women are monstrously illogical. She
must think of my latter end with mixed feelings.'
'I do wish you were less flippant in dealing with grave subjects,
Alfred. I assure you I am very much troubled. I feel that so much is
at stake, and yet the responsibility of doing anything is so very
'Shall I talk it over with Letty?'
'If you feel able to. But Adela would be very seriously offended if
she guessed that you had done so.'
'Then she mustn't guess, that's all. I'll see what I can do
In the home of the Tews there was some difficulty in securing
privacy. The house was a small one, and the sacrifice of general
convenience when Letty wanted a whole room for herself and Alfred
was considerable. To-night it was managed, however; the front
parlour was granted to the pair for one hour.
It could not be said that there was much delicacy in Alfred's way of
approaching the subject he wished to speak of. This young man had a
scorn of periphrases. If a topic had to be handled, why not be
succinct in the handling? Alfred was of opinion that much time was
lost by mortals in windy talk.
'Look here, Letty; what's your idea about Adela marrying Mutimer?'
The girl looked startled.
'She has not accepted him?'
'Not yet. Don't you think it would be a good thing if she did?'
'I really can't say,' Letty replied very gravely, her head aside. 'I
don't think any one can judge but Adela herself. Really, Alfred, I
don't think we ought to interfere.'
'But suppose I ask you to try and get her to see the affair
'Sensibly? What a word to use!'
'The right word, I think.'
'What a vexatious boy you are! You don't really think so at all. You
only speak so because you like to tease me.'
'Well, you certainly do look pretty when you're defending the
castles in the air. Give me a kiss.'
'Indeed, I shall not. Tell me seriously what you mean. What does
Mrs. Waltham think about it?'
'Give me a kiss, and I'll tell you. If not, I'll go away and leave
you to find out everything as best you can.'
'Oh, Alfred, you're a sad tyrant!'
'Of course I am. But it's a benevolent despotism. Well, mother wants
Adela to accept him. In fact, she asked me if I didn't think you'd
help us. Of course I said you would.'
'Then you were very hasty. I'm not joking now, Alfred. I think of
Adela in a way you very likely can't understand. It would be
shocking, oh! shocking, to try and make her marry him if she doesn't
really wish to.'
'No fear! We shan't manage that.'
'And surely wouldn't wish to?'
'I don't know. Girls often can't see what's best for them. I say,
you understand that all this is in confidence?'
'Of course I do. But it's a confidence I had rather not have
received. I shall be miserable, I know that.'
'Then you're a little--goose.'
'You were going to call me something far worse.'
'Give me credit, then, for correcting myself. You'll have to help
The girl kept silence. Then for a time the conversation became
graver. It was interrupted precisely at the end of the granted hour.
Letty went to see her friend on Sunday afternoon, and the two shut
themselves up in the dainty little chamber. Adela was in low
spirits; with her a most unusual state. She sat with her hands
crossed on her lap, and the sunny light of her eyes was dimmed. When
she had tried for a while to talk of ordinary things, Letty saw a
tear glisten upon her cheek.
'What is the matter, love?'
Adela was in sore need of telling her troubles, and Letty was the
only one to whom she could do so. In such spirit-gentle words as
could express the perplexities of her mind she told what a source of
pain her mother's conversation had been to her of late, and how she
dreaded what might still be to come.
'It is so dreadful to think, Letty, that mother is encouraging him.
She thinks it is for my happiness; she is offended if I try to say
what I suffer. Oh, I couldn't! I couldn't!'
She put her palms before her face; her maidenhood shamed to speak of
these things even to her bosom friend.
'Can't you show him, darling, that--that he mustn't hope anything?'
'How can I do so? It is impossible to be rude, and everything else
it is so easy to misunderstand.'
'But when he really speaks, then it will come to an end.'
'I shall grieve mother so, Letty. I feel as if the best of my life
had gone by. Everything seemed so smooth. Oh, why did he fall so,
Letty? and I thought he cared for me, dear.'
She whispered it, her face on her friend's shoulder.
'Try to forget, darling; try!'
'Oh, as if I didn't try night and day! I know it is so wrong to give
a thought. How could he speak to me as he did that day when I met
him on the hill, and again when I went just to save him an
annoyance? He was almost the same as before, only I thought him a
little sad from his illness. He had no right to talk to me in that
way! Oh, I feel wicked, that I can't forget; I hate myself for
There was a word Letty could not hear, only her listening heart
'Dear Adela! pray for strength, and it will be sure to come to you.
How hard it is to know myself so happy when you have so much
'I could have borne it better but for this new pain. I don't think I
should ever have shown it; even you wouldn't have known all I felt,
Letty. I should have hoped for him--I don't mean hoped on my own
account, but that he might know how wicked he had been. How--how can
a man do things so unworthy of himself, when it's so beautiful to be
good and faithful? I think he did care a little for me once, Letty.'
'Don't let us talk of him, pet.'
'You are right; we mustn't. His name ought never to pass my lips,
only in my prayers.'
She grew calmer, and they sat hand in hand.
'Try to make your mother understand,' advised Letty. 'Say that it is
impossible you should ever accept him.'
'She won't believe that, I'm sure she won't. And to think that, even
if I did it only to please her, people would believe I had married
him because he is rich!'
Letty spoke with more emphasis than hitherto.
'But you cannot and must not do such a thing to please any one,
Adela! It is wrong even to think of it. Nothing, nothing can justify
How strong she was in the purity of her own love, good little Letty!
So they talked together, and mingled their tears, and the room was
made a sacred place as by the presence of sorrowing angels.
The New Wanley Lecture Hall had been publicly dedicated to the
service of the New Wanley Commonwealth, and only in one respect did
the day's proceedings fall short of Mutimer's expectations. He had
hoped to have all the Waltham family at his luncheon party, but in
the event Alfred alone felt himself able to accept the invitation.
Mutimer had even nourished the hope that something might happen
before that day to allow of Adela's appearing not merely in the
character of a guest, but, as it were, _ex officio_. By this time he
had resolutely forbidden his eyes to stray to the right hand or the
left, and kept them directed with hungry, relentless steadiness
straight along the path of his desires. He had received no second
letter from his mother, nor had Alice anything to report of
danger-signals at home; from Emma herself came a letter regularly
once a week, a letter of perfect patience, chiefly concerned with
her sister's health. He had made up his mind to declare nothing till
the irretrievable step was taken, when reproaches only could befall
him; to Alice as little as to any one else had he breathed of his
purposes. And he could no longer even take into account the
uncertainty of his success; to doubt of that would have been
insufferable at the point which he had reached in self-abandonment.
Yet day after day saw the postponement of the question which would
decide his fate. Between him and Mrs. Waltham the language of
allusion was at length put aside; he spoke plainly of his wishes,
and sought her encouragement. This was not wanting, but the mother
begged for time. Let the day of the ceremony come and go.
Richard passed through it in a state of exaltation and anxiety which
bordered on fever. Mr. Westlake and his wife came down from London
by an early train, and he went over New Wanley with them before
luncheon. The luncheon itself did not lack festive vivacity;
Richard, in surveying his guests from the head of the board, had
feelings not unlike those wherein King Polycrates lulled himself of
old; there wanted, in truth, one thing to complete his
self-complacence, but an extra glass or two of wine enrubied his
imagination, and he already saw Adela's face smiling to him from the
table's unoccupied end. What was such conquest in comparison with
that which fate had accorded him?
There was a satisfactory gathering to hear Mr. Westlake's address;
Richard did not fail to note the presence of a few reporters, only
it seemed to him that their pencils might have been more active.
Here, too, was Adela at length; every time his name was uttered,
perforce she heard; every encomium bestowed upon him by the various
speakers was to him like a new bud on the tree of hope. After all,
why should he feel this humility towards her? What man of
prominence, of merit, at all like his own would ever seek her hand?
The semblance of chivalry which occasionally stirred within him was,
in fact, quite inconsistent with his reasoned view of things; the
English working class has, on the whole, as little of that quality
as any other people in an elementary stage of civilisation. He was a
man, she a woman. A lady, to be sure, but then--
After Mutimer, Alfred Waltham had probably more genuine satisfaction
in the ceremony than any one else present. Mr. Westlake he was not
quite satisfied with; there was a mildness and restraint about the
style of the address which to Alfred's taste smacked of feebleness;
he was for Cambyses' vein. Still it rejoiced him to hear the noble
truths of democracy delivered as it were from the bema. To a certain
order of intellect the word addressed by the living voice to an
attentive assembly is always vastly impressive; when the word
coincides with private sentiment it excites enthusiasm. Alfred hated
the aristocratic order of things with a rabid hatred. In practice he
could be as coarsely overbearing with his social inferiors as that
scion of the nobility--existing of course somewhere--who bears the
bell for feebleness of the pia mater; but that made him none the
less a sound Radical. In thinking of the upper classes he always
thought of Hubert Eldon, and that name was scarlet to him. Never
trust the thoroughness of the man who is a revolutionist on abstract
principles; personal feeling alone goes to the root of the matter.
Many were the gentlemen to whom Alfred had the happiness of being
introduced in the course of the day. Among others was Mr. Keene the
journalist. At the end of a lively conversation Mr. Keene brought
out a copy of the 'Belwick Chronicle,' that day's issue.
'You'll find a few things of mine here,' he said. 'Put it in your
pocket, and look at it afterwards. By-the-by, there is a paragraph
marked; I meant it for Mutimer. Never mind, give it him when you've
done with it.'
Alfred bestowed the paper in the breast pocket of his greatcoat, and
did not happen to think of it again till late that evening. His
discovery of it at length was not the only event of the day which
came just too late for the happiness of one with whose fortunes we
A little after dark, when the bell was ringing which summoned
Mutimer's workpeople to the tea provided for them, Hubert Eldon was
approaching the village by the road from Agworth: he was on foot,
and had chosen his time in order to enter Wanley unnoticed. His
former visit, when he was refused at the Walthams' door, had been
paid at an impulse; he had come down from London by an early train,
and did not even call to see his mother at her new house in Agworth.
Nor did ho visit her on his way back; he walked straight to the
railway station and took the first train townwards. To-day he came
in a more leisurely way. It was certain news contained in a letter
from his mother which brought him, and with her he spent some hours
before starting to walk towards Wanley.
'I hear,' Mrs. Eldon had written, 'from Wanley something which
really surprises me. They say that Adela Waltham is going to marry
Mr. Mutimer. The match is surely a very strange one. I am only
fearful that it is the making of interested people, and that the
poor girl herself has not had much voice in deciding her own fate.
Oh, this money! Adela was worthy of better things.'
Mrs. Eldon saw her son with surprise, the more so that she divined
the cause of his coming. When they had talked for a while, Hubert
frankly admitted what it was that had brought him.
'I must know,' he said, 'whether the news from Wanley is true'
'But can it concern you, Hubert?' his mother asked gently.
He made no direct reply, but expressed his intention of going over
'Whom shall you visit, dear?'
'The vicar? But you don't know him personally.'
'Yes, I know him pretty well. We write to each other occasionally.'
Mrs. Eldon always practised most reserve when her surprise was
greatest--an excellent rule, by-the-by, for general observation.
She looked at her son with a half-smile of wonder, but only said
'I had made his acquaintance before his coming to Wanley,' Hubert
His mother just bent her head, acquiescent. And with that their
conversation on the subject ended. But Hubert received a tender kiss
on his cheek when he set forth in the afternoon.
To one entering the valley after nightfall the situation of the
much-discussed New Wanley could no longer be a source of doubt. Two
blast-furnaces sent up their flare and lit luridly the devastated
scene. Having glanced in that direction Hubert did his best to keep
his eyes averted during the remainder of the walk. He was surprised
to see a short passenger train rush by on the private line
connecting the works with Agworth station; it was taking away
certain visitors who had lingered in New Wanley after the lecture.
Knowing nothing of the circumstances, he supposed that general
traffic had been commenced. He avoided the village street, and
reached the Vicarage by a path through fields.
He found the vicar at dinner, though it was only half-past six. The
welcome he received was, in Mr. Wyvern's manner, almost silent; but
when he had taken a place at the table he saw satisfaction on his
host's face. The meal was very plain, but the vicar ate with
extraordinary appetite; he was one of those men in whom the demands
of the stomach seem to be in direct proportion to the activity of
the brain. A question Hubert put about the train led to a brief
account of what was going on. Mr. Wyvern spoke on the subject with a
gravity which was not distinctly ironical, but suggested criticism.
They repaired to the study. A volume of Plato was open on the
'Do you remember Socrates' prayer in the "Phaedrus"?' said the
vicar, bending affectionately over the page. He read a few words of
the Greek, then gave a free rendering. 'Beloved Pan, and all ye
other gods who haunt this place, give me beauty in the inward soul;
and may the outward and inward be at one. May I esteem the wise
alone wealthy, and may I have such abundance of wealth as none but
the temperate can carry.'
He paused a moment.
'Ah, when I came hither I hoped to find Pan undisturbed. Well, well,
after all, Hephaestus was one of the gods.'
'How I envy you your quiet mind!' said Hubert.
'Quiet? Nay, not always so. Just now I am far from at peace. What
brings you hither to-day?'
The equivoque was obviated by Mr. Wyvern's tone.
'I have heard stories about Adela Waltham. Is there any truth in
'I fear so; I fear so.'
'That she is really going to marry Mr. Mutimer?'
He tried to speak the name without discourtesy, but his lips writhed
'I fear she is going to marry him,' said the vicar deliberately.
Hubert held his peace.
'It troubles me. It angers me,' said Mr. Wyvern. 'I am angry with
more than one.'
'Is there an engagement?'
'I am unable to say. Tattle generally gets ahead of fact.'
'It is monstrous!' burst from the young man. 'They are taking
advantage of her innocence. She is a child. Why do they educate
girls like that? I should say, how can they leave them so
uneducated? In an ideal world it would be all very well, but see
what comes of it here? She is walking with her eyes open into
horrors and curses, and understands as little of what awaits her as
a lamb led to butchery. Do you stand by and say nothing?'
'It surprises me that you are so affected,' remarked the vicar
'No doubt. I can't reason about it. But I know that my life will be
hideous if this goes on to the end.'
'You are late.'
'Yes, I am late. I was in Wanley some weeks ago; I did not tell you
of it. I called at their house; they were not at home to me. Yet
Adela was sitting at the window. What did that mean? Is her mother
so contemptible that my change of fortune leads her to treat me in
'But does no other reason occur to you?' asked Mr. Wyvern, with
'Other reason! What other?'
'You must remember that gossip is active.'
'You mean that they have heard abou--?'
'Somehow it had become the common talk of the village very shortly
after my arrival here.'
Hubert dropped his eyes in bewilderment.
'Then they think me unfit to associate with them? She--Adela will
look upon me as a vile creature! But it wasn't so when I saw her
immediately after my illness. She talked freely and with just the
same friendliness as before.'
'Probably she had heard nothing then.'
'And her mother only began to poison her mind when it was
advantageous to do so?'
Hubert laughed bitterly.
'Well, there is an end of it,' he pursued. 'Yes, I was forgetting
all that. Oh, it is quite intelligible; I don't blame them. By all
means let her be preserved from contagion! Pooh! I don't know my own
mind. Old fancies that I used to have somehow got hold of me again
If I ever marry, it must be a woman of the world, a woman with brain
and heart to judge human nature. It is gone, as if I had never had
such a thought. Poor child, to be sure; but that's all one can say.'
His tone was. as far from petulance as could be. Hubert's emotions
were never feebly coloured; his nature ran into extremes, and
vehemence of scorn was in him the true voice of injured tenderness.
Of humility he knew but little, least of all where his affections
were concerned, but there was the ring of noble metal in his
self-assertion. He would never consciously act or speak a falsehood,
and was intolerant of the lies, petty or great, which
conventionality and warped habits of thought encourage in those of
'Let us be just,' remarked Mr. Wyvern, his voice sounding rather
sepulchral after the outburst of youthful passion. 'Mrs. Waltham's
point of view is not inconceivable. I, as you know, am not
altogether a man of formulas, but I am not sure that my behaviour
would greatly differ from hers in her position; I mean as regards
'Yes, yes; I admit the reasonableness of it,' said Hubert more
calmly, 'granted that you have to deal with children. But Adela is
too old to have no will or understanding. It may be she has both.
After all she would scarcely allow herself to be forced into a
detestable marriage. Very likely she takes her mother's practical
'There is such a thing as blank indifference in a young girl who has
'I could do nothing,' exclaimed Hubert. 'That she thinks of me at
all, or has ever seriously done so, is the merest supposition. There
was nothing binding between us. If she is false to herself,
experience and suffering must teach her.'
The vicar mused.
'Then you go your way untroubled?' was his next question.
'If I am strong enough to overcome foolishness.'
'And if foolishness persists in asserting itself?'
Hubert kept gloomy silence.
'Thus much I can say to you of my own knowledge,' observed Mr.
Wyvern with weight. 'Miss Waltham is not one to speak words lightly.
You call her a child, and no doubt her view of the world is
childlike; but she is strong in her simplicity. A pledge from her
will, or I am much mistaken, bear no two meanings. Her marriage with
Mr. Mutimer would be as little pleasing to me as to you, but I
cannot see that I have any claim to interpose, or, indeed, power to
do so. Is it not the same with yourself?'
'No, not quite the same.'
'Then you have hope that you might still affect her destiny?'
Hubert did not answer.
'Do you measure the responsibility you would incur? I fear not, if
you have spoken sincerely. Your experience has not been of a kind to
aid you in understanding her, and, I warn you, to make her subject
to your caprices would be little short of a crime, whether now--heed
'Perhaps it is too late,' murmured Hubert.
'That may well be, in more senses than one.'
'Can you not discover whether she is really engaged?'
'If that were the case, I think I should have heard of it.'
'If I were allowed to see her! So much at least should be granted
me. I should not poison the air she breathes.'
'Do you return to Agworth to-night?' Mr. Wyvern inquired.
'Yes, I shall walk back.'
'Can you come to me again to-morrow evening?'
It was agreed that Hubert should do so. Mr. Wyvern gave no definite
promise of aid, but the young man felt that he would do something.
'The night is fine,' said the vicar; 'I will walk half a mile with
They left the Vicarage, and ten yards from the door turned into the
path which would enable them to avoid the village street. Not two
minutes after their quitting the main road the spot was passed by
Adela herself, who was walking towards Mr. Wyvern's dwelling. On her
inquiring for the vicar, she learnt from the servant that he had
just left home. She hesitated, and seemed about to ask further
questions or leave a message, but at length turned away from the
door and retraced her steps slowly and with bent head.
She knew not whether to feel glad or sorry that the interview she
had come to seek could not immediately take place. This day had been
a hard one for Adela. In the morning her mother had spoken to her
without disguise or affectation, and had told her of Mutimer's
indirect proposal. Mrs. Waltham went on to assure her that there was
no hurry, that Mutimer had consented to refrain from visits for a
short time in order that she might take counsel with herself, and
that--the mother's voice trembled on the words--absolute freedom was
of course left her to accept or refuse. But Mrs. Waltham could not
pause there, though she tried to. She went on to speak of the day's
'Think what we may, my dear, of Mr. Mutimer's opinions, no one can
deny that he is making a most unselfish use of his wealth. We shall
have an opportunity to-day of hearing how it is regarded by those
who--who understand such questions.'
Adela implored to be allowed to remain at home instead of attending
the lecture, but on this point Mrs. Waltham was inflexible. The girl
could not offer resolute opposition in a matter which only involved
an hour or two's endurance. She sat in pale silence. Then her mother
broke into tears, bewailed herself as a luckless being, entreated
her daughter's pardon, but in the end was perfectly ready to accept
On her return from New Wanley, Adela sat alone till tea-time, and
after that meal again went to her room. She was not one of those
girls to whom tears come as a matter of course on any occasion of
annoyance or of grief; her bright eyes had seldom been dimmed since
childhood, for the lightsomeness of her character threw off trifling
troubles almost as soon as they were felt, and of graver afflictions
she had hitherto known none since her father's death. But since the
shock she received on that day when her mother revealed Hubert
Eldon's unworthiness, her emotional life had suffered a slow change.
Evil, previously known but as a dark mystery shadowing far-off
regions, had become the constant preoccupation of her thoughts.
Drawing analogies from the story of her faith, she imaged Hubert as
the angel who fell from supreme purity to a terrible lordship of
perdition. Of his sins she had the dimmest conception; she was told
that they were sins of impurity, and her understanding of such could
scarcely have been expressed save in the general language of her
prayers. Guarded jealously at every moment of her life, the world
had made no blur on the fair tablet of her mind; her Eden had
suffered no invasion. She could only repeat to herself that her
heart had gone dreadfully astray in its fondness, and that,
whatsoever it cost her, the old hopes, the strength of which was
only now proved, must be utterly uprooted. And knowing that, she
Sin was too surely sorrow, though it neared her only in imagination.
In a few weeks she seemed to have almost outgrown girlhood; her
steps were measured, her smile was seldom and lacked mirth. The
revelation would have done so much; the added and growing trouble of
Mutimer's attentions threatened to sink her in melancholy. She would
not allow it to be seen more than she could help; cheerful activity
in the life of home was one of her moral duties, and she strove hard
to sustain it. It was a relief to find herself alone each night,
alone with her sickness of heart.
The repugnance aroused in her by the thought of becoming Mutimer's
wife was rather instinctive than reasoned. From one point of view,
indeed, she deemed it wrong, since it might be entirely the fruit of
the love she was forbidden to cherish. Striving to read her
conscience, which for years had been with her a daily task and was
now become the anguish of every hour, she found it hard to establish
valid reasons for steadfastly refusing a man who was her mother's
choice. She read over the marriage service frequently. There stood
the promise--to love, to honour, and to obey. Honour and obedience
she might render him, but what of love? The question arose, what did
love mean? Could there be such a thing as love of an unworthy
object? Was she not led astray by the spirit of perverseness which
was her heritage?
Adela could not bring herself to believe that 'to love' in the sense
of the marriage service and to 'be in love' as her heart understood
it were one and the same thing. The Puritanism of her training led
her to distrust profoundly those impulses of mere nature. And the
circumstances of her own unhappy affection tended to confirm her in
this way of thinking. Letty Tew certainly thought otherwise, but was
not Letty's own heart too exclusively occupied by worldly
Yet it said 'love.' Perchance that was something which would come
after marriage; the promise, observe, concerned the future. But she
was not merely indifferent; she shrank from Mutimer.
She returned home from the lecture to-day full of dread--dread more
active than she had yet known. And it drove her to a step she had
timidly contemplated for more than a week. She stole from the house,
bent on seeing Mr. Wyvern. She could not confess to him, but she
could speak of the conflict between her mother's will and her own,
and beg his advice; perhaps, if he appeared favourable, ask him to
intercede with her mother. She had liked Mr. Wyvern from the first
meeting with him, and a sense of trust had been nourished by each
succeeding conversation. In her agitation she thought it would not
be hard to tell him so much of the circumstances as would enable him
to judge and counsel.
Yet it was with relief, on the whole, that she turned homewards with
her object unattained. It would be much better to wait and test
herself yet further. Why should she not speak with her mother about
that vow she was asked to make?
She did not seek solitude again, but joined her mother and Alfred in
the sitting-room. Mrs. Waltham made no inquiry about the short
absence. Alfred had only just called to mind the newspaper which Mr.
Keene had given him; and was unfolding it for perusal. His eye
caught a marked paragraph, one of a number under the heading 'Gossip
from Town.' As he read it he uttered a 'Hullo!' of surprise.
'Well, here's the latest,' he continued, looking at his companions
with an amused eye. 'Something about that fellow Eldon in a Belwick
newspaper. What do you think?'
Adela kept still and mute.
'Whatever it is, it cannot interest us, Alfred,' said Mrs. Waltham,
with dignity. 'We had rather not hear it.'
'Well, you shall read it for yourself,' replied Alfred on a second
thought. 'I think you'd like to know.'
His mother took the paper under protest, and glanced down at the
paragraph carelessly. But speedily her attention became closer.
'An item of intelligence,' wrote the London gossiper, 'which I dare
say will interest readers in certain parts of--shire. A lady of
French extraction who made a name for herself at a leading
metropolitan theatre last winter, and who really promises great
things in the Thespian art, is back among us from a sojourn on the
Continent. She is understood to have spent much labour in the study
of a new part, which she is about to introduce to us of the modern
Babylon. But Albion, it is whispered, possesses other attractions
for her besides appreciative audiences. In brief, though she will of
course appear under the old name, she will in reality have changed
it for one of another nationality before presenting herself in the
radiance of the footlights. The happy man is Mr. Hubert Eldon, late
of Wanley Manor. We felicitate Mr. Eldon.'
Mrs. Waltham's hands trembled as she doubled the sheet: there was a
gleam of pleasure on her face.
'Give me the paper when you have done with it,' she said.
Alfred laughed, and whistled a tune as he continued the perusal of
Mr. Keene's political and social intelligence, on the whole as
trustworthy as the style in which it was written was terse and
elegant. Adela, finding she could feign indifference no longer, went
from the room.
'Where did you get this?' Mrs. Waltham asked with eagerness as soon
as the girl was gone.
'From the writer himself,' Alfred replied, visibly proud of his
intimacy with a man of letters. 'Fellow called Keene. Had a long
talk with him.'
'Oh, no. I've only just come across it. But he said he'd marked
something for Mutimer. I'm to pass the paper on to him.'
'I suppose this is the same woman--?'
'You think it's true?'
'True? Why, of course it is. A newspaper with a reputation to
support can't go printing people's names at haphazard. Keene's very
thick with all the London actors. He told me some first-class
'Never mind,' interposed his mother. 'Well, to think it should come
to this! I'm sure I feel for poor Mrs. Eldon. Really there is no end
to her misfortunes.'
'Just how such families always end up,' observed Alfred
complacently. 'No doubt he'll drink himself to death, or something
of that kind, and then we shall have the pleasure of seeing a new
tablet in the church, inscribed with manifold virtues; or even a
stained-glass window: the last of the Eldons deserves something
'I think it's hardly a subject for joking, Alfred. It is very, very
sad. And to think what a fine handsome boy he used to be! But he was
always dreadfully self-willed.'
'He was always an impertinent puppy! How he'll play the swell on his
wife's earnings! Oh, our glorious aristocracy!'
Mrs. Waltham went early to her daughter's room. Adela was sitting
with her Bible before her--had sat so since coming upstairs, yet had
not read three consecutive verses. Her face showed no effect of
tears, for the heat of a consuming suspense had dried the fountains
'I don't like to occupy your mind with such things, my dear,' began
her mother, 'but perhaps as a warning I ought to show you the news
Alfred spoke of. It pleases Providence that there should be evil in
the world, and for our own safety we must sometimes look it in the
face, especially we poor women, Adela. Will you read that?'
Adela read. She could not criticise the style, but it affected her
as something unclean; Hubert's very name suffered degradation when
used in such a way. Prepared for worse things than that which she
saw, no shock of feelings was manifest in her. She returned the
paper without speaking.
'I wanted you to see that my behaviour to Mr. Eldon was not
unjustified,' said her mother. 'You don't blame me any longer,
'I have never blamed you, mother.'
'It is a sad, sad end to what might have been a life of usefulness
and honour. I have thought so often of the parable of the talents;
only I fear this case is worse. His poor mother! I wonder if I could
write to her! Yet I hardly know how to.'
'Is this a--a wicked woman, mother?' Adela asked falteringly.
Mrs. Waltham shook her head and sighed.
'My love, don't you see that she is an actress?'
'But if all actresses are wicked, how is it that really good people
go to the theatre?'
'I am afraid they oughtn't to. The best of us are tempted into
thoughtless pleasure. But now I don't want you to brood over things
which it is a sad necessity to have to glance at. Read your chapter,
darling, and get to bed.'
To bed--but not to sleep. The child's imagination was aflame. This
scarlet woman, this meteor from hell flashing before the delighted
eyes of men, she, then, had bound Hubert for ever in her toils; no
release for him now, no ransom to eternity. No instant's doubt of
the news came to Adela; in her eyes _imprimatur_ was the guarantee
of truth. She strove to picture the face which had drawn Hubert to
his doom. It must be lovely beyond compare. For the first time in
her life she knew the agonies of jealousy.
She could not shed tears, but in her anguish she fell upon prayer,
spoke the words above her breath that they might silence that
terrible voice within. Poor lost lamb, crying in the darkness,
sending forth such piteous utterance as might create a spirit of
love to hear and rescue.
Rescue--none. When the fire wasted itself, she tried to find solace
in the thought that one source of misery was stopped. Hubert was
married, or would be very soon, and if she had sinned in loving him
till now, such sin would henceforth be multiplied incalculably; she
durst not, as she valued her soul, so much as let his name enter her
thoughts. And to guard against it, was there not a means offered
her? The doubt as to what love meant was well-nigh solved; or at all
events she held it proved that the 'love' of the marriage service
was something she had never yet felt, something which would follow
upon marriage itself. Earthly love had surely led Hubert Eldon to
ruin; oh, not that could be demanded of her! What reason had she now
to offer against her mother's desire? Letty's arguments were vain;
they were but as the undisciplined motions of her own heart.
Marriage with a worthy man must often have been salvation to a
rudderless life; for was it not the _ceremony_ which, after all,
constituted the exclusive sanction?
Mutimer, it was true, fell sadly short of her ideal of goodness. He
was an unbeliever. But might not this very circumstance involve a
duty? As his wife, could she not plead with him and bring him to the
truth? Would not that be _loving_ him, to make his spiritual good
the end of her existence? It was as though a great light shot
athwart her darkness. She raised herself in bed, and, as if with her
very hands, clung to the inspiration which had been granted her. The
light was not abiding, but something of radiance lingered, and that
must stead her.
Her brother returned to Belwick next morning after an early
breakfast. He was in his wonted high spirits, and talked with much
satisfaction of the acquaintances he had made on the previous day,
while Adela waited upon him. Mrs. Waltham only appeared as he was
Adela sat almost in silence whilst her mother breakfasted.
'You don't look well, dear?' said the latter, coming to the little
room upstairs soon after the meal.
'Yes, I am well, mother. But I want to speak to you.'
Mrs. Waltham seated herself in expectation.
'Will you tell me why you so much wish me to marry Mr. Mutimer?'
Adela's tone was quite other than she had hitherto used in
conversations of this kind. It was submissive, patiently
'You mustn't misunderstand me,' replied the mother with some
nervousness. 'The wish, dear, must of course be yours as well. You
know that I--that I really have left you to consult your own--'
The sentence was unfinished.
'But you have tried to persuade me, mother dear,' pursued the gentle
voice. 'You would not do so if you did not think it for my good.'
Something shot painfully through Mrs. Waltham's heart.
'I am sure I have thought so, Adela; really I have thought so. I
know there are objections, but no marriage is in every way perfect.
I feel so sure of his character--I mean of his character in a
worldly sense. And you might do so much to--to show him the true
way, might you not, darling? I'm sure his heart is good.'
Mrs. Waltham also was speaking with less confidence than on former
occasions. She cast side glances at her daughter's colourless face.
'Mother, may I marry without feeling that--that I love him?'
The face was flushed now for a moment. Adela had never spoken that
word to anyone; even to Letty she had scarcely murmured it. The
effect upon her of hearing it from her own lips was mysterious,
awful; the sound did not die with her voice, but trembled in subtle
harmonies along the chords of her being.
Her mother took the shaken form and drew it to her bosom.
'If he is your husband, darling, you will find that love grows. It
is always so. Have no fear. On his side there is not only love; he
respects you deeply; he has told me so.'
'And you encourage me to accept him, mother? It is your desire? I am