Part 6 out of 12
you'll have to go and get your things on; it's nearly five.'
In Alice's rising from her chair there was nothing of the elasticity
that had marked her before luncheon. Before moving away she spoke a
thought that was troubling her.
'Suppose mother tries to stop it?'
Richard looked to the ground moodily.
'I meant to tell you,' he said. 'You'd better say that I'm already
'You're giving me a nice job,' was the girl's murmured rejoinder.
'Well, it's as good as true. And it doesn't make the job any worse.'
As is wont to be the case when two persons come to mutual
understanding on a piece of baseness, the tone of brother and sister
had suffered in the course of their dialogue. At first meeting they
had both kept a certain watch upon their lips, feeling that their
position demanded it; a moral limpness was evident in them by this
They set forth to walk to the Walthams'. Exercise in the keen air,
together with the sense of novelty in her surroundings, restored
Alice's good humour before the house was reached. She gazed with
astonishment at the infernal glare over New Wanley. Her brother
explained the sight to her with gusto.
'It used to be all fields and gardens over there,' he said. 'See
what money and energy can do! You shall go over the works in the
morning. Perhaps Adela will go with us, then we can take her back to
'Why do they call the house that, Dick?' Alice inquired. 'Is it
because people who live there are supposed to have good manners?'
'May be, for anything I know,' was the capitalist's reply. 'Only
it's spelt different, you know. I say, Alice, you must be careful
about your spelling; there were mistakes in your last letter. Won't
do, you know, to make mistakes if you write to Adela.'
Alice gave a little shrug of impatience. Immediately after, they
stopped at the threshold sacred to all genteel accomplishments--so
Alice would have phrased it if she could have fully expressed her
feeling--and they speedily entered the sitting. room, where the
table was already laid for tea. Mrs. Waltham and her daughter rose
to welcome them.
'We knew of your arrival,' said the former, bestowing on Alice a
maternal salute. 'Not many things happen in Wanley that all the
village doesn't hear of, do they, Mr. Mutimer? Of course we expected
you to tea.'
Adela and her future sister-in-law kissed each other. Adela was
silent, but she smiled.
'You'll take your things off, my dear?' Mrs. Waltham continued.
'Will you go upstairs with Miss Mutimer, Adela?'
But for Mrs. Waltham's persistent geniality the hour which followed
would have shown many lapses of conversation. Alice appreciated at
once those 'differences' at which her brother had hinted, and her
present frame of mind was not quite consistent with patient
humility. Naturally, she suffered much from self-consciousness; Mrs.
Waltham annoyed her by too frequent observation, Adela by seeming
indifference. The delicacy of the latter was made perhaps a little
excessive by strain of feelings. Alice at once came to the
conclusion that Dick's future wife was cold and supercilious. She
was not predisposed to like Adela. The circumstances were in a
number of ways unfavourable. Even had there not existed the very
natural resentment at the painful task which this young lady had
indirectly imposed upon her, it was not in Alice's blood and
breeding to take kindly at once to a girl of a class above her own.
Alice had warm affections; as a lady's maid she might very
conceivably have attached herself with much devotion to an indulgent
mistress, but in the present case too much was asked of her, Richard
was proud of his sister; he saw her at length seated where he had so
often imagined her, and in his eyes she bore herself well. He
glanced often at Adela, hoping for a return glance of
congratulation; when it failed to come, he consoled himself with the
reflection that such silent interchange of sentiments at table would
be ill manners. In his very heart he believed that of the two
maidens his sister was the better featured. Adela and Alice sat over
against each other; their contrasted appearances were a chapter of
social history. Mark the difference between Adela's gently closed
lips, every muscle under control; and Alice's, which could never
quite close without forming a saucy pout or a self-conscious
primness. Contrast the foreheads; on the one hand that tenderly
shadowed curve of brow, on the other the surface which always seemed
to catch too much of the light, which moved irregularly with the
arches above the eyes. The grave modesty of the one face, the now
petulant, now abashed, now vacant expression of the other. Richard
in his heart preferred the type he had 80 long been familiar with; a
state of feeling of course in no way inconsistent with the emotions
excited in him by continual observation of Adela.
The two returned to the Manor at half-past seven, Alice rising with
evident relief when he gave the signal. It was agreed that the
latter part of the next morning should be spent in going over the
works. Adela was very willing to be of the party.
'They haven't much money, have they?' was Alice's first question as
soon as she got away from the door.
'No, they are not rich,' replied the brother. 'You got on very
nicely, old girl.'
'Why shouldn't I? You talk as if I didn't know how to behave myself,
'No, I don't. I say that you did behave yourself.'
'Yes, and you were surprised at it.'
'I wasn't at all. What do you think of her?'
'She doesn't say much.'
'No, she's always very quiet. It's her way.'
The monosyllable meant more than Richard gathered from it. They
walked on in silence, and were met presently by a gentleman who was
coming along the village street at a sharp pace. A lamp discovered
Mr. Willis Rodman. Richard stopped.
'Seen to that little business?' he asked, in a cheerful voice.
'Yes,' was Rodman's reply. 'We shall hear from Agworth in the
'All right.--Alice, this is Mr. Rodman.--My sister, Rodman.'
Richard's right-hand man performed civilities with decidedly more
finish than Richard himself had at command.
'I am very happy to meet Miss Mutimer. I hope we shall have the
pleasure of showing her New Wanley to-morrow.'
'She and Miss Waltham will walk down in the morning. Good night,
Rodman. Cold, eh?'
'Why didn't you introduce him this afternoon?' Alice asked as she
'I didn't think of it--I was bothered.'
'He seems very gentlemanly.'
'Oh, Rodman's seen a deal of life. He's a useful fellow--gets
through work in a wonderful way.'
'But _is_ he a gentleman? I mean, was he once?'
'I suppose you mean, had he ever money? No, he's made himself what
Tea having supplied the place of the more substantial evening meal,
Richard and his sister had supper about ten o'clock. Alice drank
champagne; a few bottles remained from those dedicated to the recent
festival, and Mutimer felt the necessity of explaining the presence
in his house of a luxury which to his class is more than anything
associated with the bloated aristocracy. Alice drank it for the
first time in her life, and her spirits grew as light as the foam
upon her glass. Brother and sister were quietly confidential as
midnight drew near.
'Shall you bring her to London?' Alice inquired, without previous
mention of Adela.
'For a week, I think. We shall go to an hotel, of course. She's
never seen London since she was a child.'
'She won't come to Highbury?'
'No. I shall avoid that somehow. You'll have to come and see us at
the hotel. We'll go to the theatre together one night.'
'What about 'Arry?'
'I don't know. I shall think about it.'
Digesting much at his ease, Richard naturally became dreamful.
'I may have to take a house for a time now and then,' he said.
'I mustn't forget you, you see, Princess. Of course you'll come here
sometimes, but that's not much good. In London I dare say I can get
you to know some of the right kind of people. I want Adela to be
thick with the Westlakes; then your chance'll come. See, old woman?'
Alice, too, dreamed.
'I wonder you don't want me to marry a Socialist working man,' she
said presently, as if twitting him playfully.
'You don't understand. One of the things we aim at is to remove the
distinction between classes. I want you to marry one of those they
call gentlemen. And you shall too, Alice!'
'Well, but I'm not a working girl now, Dick.'
He laughed, and said it was time to go to bed.
The same evening conversation continued to a late hour
between Hubert Eldon and his mother. Hubert was returning to London
the next morning.
Yesterday there had come to him two letters from Wanley, both
addressed in female hand. He knew Adela's writing from her signature
in the 'Christian Year,' and hastily opened the letter which came
from her. The sight of the returned sonnets checked the eager flow
of his blood; he was prepared for what he afterwards read.
'Then let her meet her fate,'--so ran his thoughts when he had
perused the cold note, unassociable with the Adela he imagined in
its bald formality. 'Only life can teach her.'
The other letter he suspected to be from Letty Tew, as it was.
'DEAR MR. ELDON,--I cannot help writing a line to you, lest you
should think that I did not keep my promise in the way you
understood it. I did indeed. You will hear from her; she preferred
to write herself, and perhaps it was better; I should only have had
painful things to say. I wish to ask you to have no unkind or unjust
thoughts; I scarcely think you could have. Please do not trouble to
answer this, but believe me, yours sincerely,
'Good little girl!' he said to himself, smiling sadly. 'I feel sure
she did her best.'
But his pride was asserting itself, always restive under
provocation. To rival with a man like Mutimer! Better that the
severance with old days should be complete.
He talked it all over very frankly with his mother, who felt that
her son's destiny was not easily foreseen.
'And what do you propose to do, Hubert?' she asked, when they spoke
of the future. i88 Demos
'To study, principally art. In a fortnight I go to Rome.'
Mrs. Eldon had gone thither thirty years ago.
'Think of me in. my chair sometimes,' she said, touching his hands
with her wan fingers.
Alice reached home again on Christmas Eve. It was snowing; she came
in chilled and looking miserable. Mrs. Mutimer met her in the hall,
passed her, and looked out at the open door, then turned with a few
white flecks on her gown.
'He couldn't come,' replied the girl briefly, and ran up to her
'Arry was spending the evening with friends. Since tea-time the old
woman had never ceased moving from room to room, up and down stairs.
She had got out an old pair of Richard's slippers, and had put them
before the dining-room fire to warm. She had made a bed for Richard,
and had a fire burning in the chamber. She had made arrangements for
her eldest son's supper. No word had come from Wanley, but she held
to the conviction that this night would see Richard in London.
Alice came down and declared that she was very hungry. Her mother
went to the kitchen to order a meal, which in the end she prepared
with her own hands. She seemed to have a difficulty in addressing
any one. Whilst Alice ate in silence, Mrs. Mutimer kept going in and
out of the room; when the girl rose from the table, she stood before
her and asked:
'Why couldn't he come?'
Alice went to the fireplace, knelt down, and spread her hands to.
the blaze. Her mother approached her again.
'Won't you give me no answer, Alice?'
'He couldn't come, mother. Something important is keeping him.'
'Something important? And why did he want you there?'
Alice rose to her feet, made one false beginning, then spoke to the
'Dick's married, mother.'
The old woman's eyes seemed to grow small in her wrinkled face, as
if directing themselves with effort upon something minute. They
looked straight into the eyes of her daughter, but had a more
distant focus. The fixed gaze continued for nearly a minute.
'What are you talking about, girl?' she said at length, in a strange,
rattling voice. 'Why, I've seen Emma this very morning. Do you think
she wouldn't 'a told me if she'd been a wife?'
Alice was frightened by the look and the voice.
'Mother, it isn't Emma at all. It's someone at Wanley. We can't help
it, mother. It's no use taking on. Now sit down and make yourself
quiet. It isn't our fault.'
Mrs. Mutimer smiled in a grim way, then laughed--a most unmusical
'Now what's the good o' joking in that kind o' way? That's like your
father, that is; he'd often come 'ome an' tell me sich things as
never was, an' expect me to believe 'em. An' I used to purtend I
did, jist to please him. But I'm too old for that kind o'
jokin'.--Alice, where's Dick? How long'll it be before he's here?
Where did he leave you?'
'Now do just sit down, mother; here, in this chair. Just sit quiet
for a little, do.'
Mrs. Mutimer pushed aside the girl's hand; her face had become grave
'Let me be, child. And I tell you I have seen Emma to-day. Do you
think she wouldn't 'a told me if things o' that kind was goin' on?'
'Emma knows nothing about it, mother. He hasn't told any one. He got
me to come because he couldn't tell it himself. It was as much a
surprise to me as to you, and I think it's very cruel of him. But
it's over, and we can't help it. I shall have to tell Emma, I
suppose, and a nice thing too!'
The old woman had begun to quiver; her hands shook by her sides, her
very features trembled with gathering indignation.
'Dick has gone an' done this?' she stammered. 'He's gone an' broke
his given word? He's deceived that girl as trusted to him an'
couldn't help herself?'
'Now, mother, don't take on so! You're going to make yourself ill.
It can't be helped. He says he shall send Emma money just the same.'
'Money! There you've hit the word; it's money as 'as ruined him, and
as 'll be the ruin of us all. Send her money! What does the man
think she's made of? Is all his feelings got as hard as money? and
does he think the same of every one else? If I know Emma, she'll
throw his money in his face. I knew what 'ud come of it, don't tell
me I didn't. That very night as he come 'ome an' told me what had
'appened, there was a cold shiver run over me. I told him as it was
the worst news ever come into our 'ouse, and now see if I wasn't
right! He was angry with me 'cause I said it, an' who's a right to
be angry now? It's my belief as money's the curse o' this world; I
never knew a trouble yet as didn't somehow come of it, either 'cause
there was too little or else too much. And Dick's gone an' done
this? And him with all his preachin' about rights and wrongs an'
what not! Him as was always a-cryin' down the rich folks 'cause they
hadn't no feelin' for the poor! What feeling's _he_ had, I'd like to
know? It's him as is rich now, an' where's the difference 'tween him
and them as he called names? No feelin' for the poor! An' what's
Emma Vine? Poor enough by now. There's Jane as can't have not a week
more to live, an' she a-nursin' her night an' day. He'll give her
money!--has he got the face to say it? Nay, don't talk to me, girl;
I'll say what I think. if it's the last I speak in this world. Don't
let him come to me! Never a word again shall he have from me as long
as I live. He's disgraced himself, an' me his mother, an' his father
in the grave. A poor girl as couldn't help herself, as trusted him
an' wouldn't hear not a word against him, for all he kep' away from
her in her trouble. I'd a fear o' this, but I wouldn't believe it of
Dick; I wouldn't believe it of a son o' mine. An' 'Arry 'll go the
same way. It's all the money, an a curse go with all the money as
ever was made! An' you too, Alice, wi' your fine dresses, an' your
piannerin', an' your faldedals. But I warn you, my girl. There 'll
no good come of it. I warn you, Alice! You're ashamed o' your own
mother--oh, I've seen it! But it's a mercy if you're not a disgrace
to her. I'm thankful as I was always poor; I might 'a been tempted
i' the same way.'
The dogma of a rude nature full of secret forces found utterance at
length under the scourge of a resentment of very mingled quality.
Let half be put to the various forms of disinterested feeling, at
least half was due to personal exasperation. The whole change that
her life had perforce undergone was an outrage upon the stubbornness
of uninstructed habit; the old woman could see nothing but evil
omens in a revolution which cost her bodily discomfort and the
misery of a mind perplexed amid alien conditions. She was prepared
for evil; for months she had brooded over every sign which seemed to
foretell its approach; the egoism of the unconscious had made it
plain to her that the world must suffer in a state of things which
so grievously affected herself. Maternal solicitude kept her
restlessly swaying between apprehension for her children and injury
in the thought of their estrangement from her. And now at length a
bitter shame added itself to her torments. She was shamed in her
pride as a mother, shamed before the girl for whom she nourished a
deep affection. Emma's injuries she felt charged upon herself; she
would never dare to stand before her again. Her moral code, as much
a part of her as the sap of the plant and as little the result of
conscious absorption, declared itself on the side of all these
rushing impulses; she was borne blindly on an exhaustless flux of
words. After vain attempts to make herself heard, Alice turned away
and sat sullenly waiting for the outburst to spend itself. Herself
comparatively unaffected by the feelings strongest in her mother,
this ear-afflicting clamour altogether checked her sympathy, and in
a great measure overcame those personal reasons which had made her
annoyed with Richard. She found herself taking his side, even knew
something of his impatience with Emma and her sorrows. When it came
to rebukes and charges against herself her impatience grew active.
She stood up again and endeavoured to make herself heard.
'What's the good of going on like this, mother? Just because you're
angry, that's no reason you should call us all the names you can
turn your tongue to. It's over and done with, and there's an end of
it. I don't know what you mean about disgracing you; I think you
might wait till the time comes. I don't see what I've done as you
can complain of.'
'No, of course you don't,' pursued her mother bitterly. 'It's the
money as prevents you from seeing it. Them as was good enough for
you before you haven't a word to say to now; a man as works honestly
for his living you make no account of. Well, well, you must go your
'What is it you want, mother? You don't expect me to look no higher
than when I hadn't a penny but what I worked for? I've no patience
with you. You ought to be glad--'
'You haven't no patience, of course you haven't. And I'm to be glad
when a son of mine does things as he deserves to be sent to prison
for! I don't understand that kind o' gladness. But mind what I say;
do what you like with your money, I'll have no more part in it. If I
had as much as ten shillings a week of my own, I'd go and live by
myself, and leave you to take your own way. But I tell you what I
_can_ do, and what I will. I'll have no more servants a-waitin' on
_me_; I wasn't never used to it, and I'm too old to begin. I go to
my own bedroom upstairs, and there I live, and there 'll be nobody
go into that room but myself. I'll get my bits o' meals from the
kitchen. 'Tain't much as I want, thank goodness, an' it won't be
missed. I'll have no more doin's with servants, understand that; an'
if I can't be left alone i' my own room, I'll go an' find a room
where I can, an' I'll find some way of earnin' what little I want.
It's your own house, and you'll do what you like in it. There's the
keys, I've done with 'em; an' here's the money too, I'm glad to be
rid of it. An' you'll just tell Dick. I ain't one as says what I
don't mean, nor never was, as that you know. You take your way, an'
I'll take mine. An' now may be I'll get a night's sleep, the first
I've had under this roof.'
As she spoke she took from her pockets the house keys, and from her
purse the money she used for current expenses, and threw all
together on to the table. Alice had turned to the fireplace, and she
stood so for a long time after her mother had left the room. Then
she took the keys and the money, consulted her watch, and in a few
minutes was walking from the house to a neighbouring cab-stand.
She drove to Wilton Square. Inspecting the front of the house before
knocking at the door, she saw a light in the kitchen and a dimmer
gleam at an upper window. It was Mrs. Clay who opened to her.
'Is Emma in?' Alice inquired as she shook hands rather coldly.
'She's sitting with Jane. I'll tell her. There's no fire except in
the kitchen,' Kate added, in a tone which implied that doubtless her
visitor was above taking a seat downstairs.
'I'll go down,' Alice replied, with just a touch of condescension.
'I want to speak a word or two with Emma, that's all.'
Kate left her to descend the stairs, and went to inform her sister.
Emma was not long in appearing; the hue of her face was troubled,
for she had deceived herself with the belief that it was Richard who
knocked at the door. What more natural than for him to have come on
Christmas Eve? She approached Alice with a wistful look, not
venturing to utter any question, only hoping that some good news
might have been brought her. Long watching in the sick room had
given her own complexion the tint of ill-health; her eyelids were
swollen and heavy; the brown hair upon her temples seemed to droop
in languor. You would have noticed that her tread was very soft, as
if she still were moving in the room above.
'How's Jane?' Alice began by asking. She could not quite look the
other in the face, and did not know how to begin her disclosure.
'No better,' Emma gave answer, shaking her head. Her voice, too, was
suppressed; it was weeks since she had spoken otherwise.
'I am so sorry, Emma. Are you in a hurry to go up again?'
'No. Kate will sit there a little.'
'You look very poorly yourself. It must be very trying for you.'
'I don't feel it,' Emma said, with a pale smile. 'She gives no
trouble. It's only her weakness now; the pain has almost gone.'
'But then she must be getting better.'
Emma shook her head, looking aside. As Alice kept silence, she
'I was glad to hear you'd gone to see Richard. He wouldn't--I was
afraid he mightn't have time to get here for Christmas.'
There was a question in the words, a timorously expectant question.
Emma had learnt the sad lesson of hope deferred, always to meet
discouragement halfway. It is thus one seeks to propitiate the evil
powers, to turn the edge of their blows by meekness.
'No, he couldn't come,' said Alice.
She had a muff on her left hand, and was turning it round and round
with the other. Emma had not asked her to sit down, merely because
of the inward agitation which absorbed her.
'He's quite well?'
'Oh yes, quite well.'
Again Alice paused. Emma's heart was beating painfully. She knew now
that Richard's sister had not come on an ordinary visit; she felt
that the call to Wanley had had some special significance. Alice did
not ordinarily behave in this hesitating way.
'Did--did he send me a message?'
But even now Alice could not speak. She found a way of leading up to
'Oh, mother has been going on so, Emma! What do you think? She won't
have anything to do with the house any longer. She's given me the
keys and all the money she had, and she's going to live just in her
bedroom. She says she'll get her food from the kitchen herself, and
she won't have a thing done for her by any one. I'm sure she means
it; I never saw her in such a state. She says if she'd ever so
little money of her own, she'd leave the house altogether. She's
been telling me I've no feeling, and that I'm going to the bad, that
I shall live to disgrace her, and I can't tell you what. Everything
is so miserable! She says it's all the money, and that she knew from
the first how it would be. And I'm afraid some of what she says is
true, I am indeed, Emma. But things happen in a way you could never
think. I half wish myself the money had never come. It's making us
Emma listened, expecting from phrase to phrase some word which would
be to her a terrible enlightenment But Alice had ceased, and the
word still unspoken.
'You say he sent me a message?'
She did not ask directly the cause of Mrs. Mutimer's anger. Instinct
told her that to hear the message would explain all else.
'Emma, I'm afraid to tell you. You'll blame _me_, like mother did.'
'I shan't blame you, Alice. Will you please tell me the message?'
Emma's lips seemed to speak without her volition. The rest o her
face was fixed and cold.
'He's married, Emma.'
'He asked you to tell me?'
Alice was surprised at the self-restraint proved by so quiet an
'Yes, he did. Emma, I'm so, so sorry! If only you'll believe I'm
sorry, Emma! He _made_ me come and tell you. He said if I didn't
you'd have to find out by chance, because he couldn't for shame tell
you himself. And he couldn't tell mother neither. I've had it all to
do. If you knew what I've gone through with mother! It's very hard
that other people should suffer so much just on his account. I am
really sorry for you, Emma.'
'Who is it he's married?' Emma asked. Probably all the last speech
had been but a vague murmur to her ears.
'Some one at Wanley.'
'Yes, I suppose she's a lady.'
'You didn't see her, then?'
'Yes, I saw her. I don't like her.'
Poor Alice meant this to be soothing. Emma knew it, and smiled.
'I don't think she cares much after all,' Alice said to herself.
'But was that the message?'
'Only to tell you of it, Emma. There was something else,' she added
immediately; 'not exactly a message, but he told me, and I dare say
he thought I should let you know. He said that of course you were to
have the money still as usual.'
Over the listener's face came a cloud, a deep, turbid red. It was
not anger, but shame which rose from the depths of her being. Her
head sank; she turned and walked aside.
'You're not angry with _me_, Emma?'
'Not angry at all, Alice,' was the reply in a monotone.
'I must say good-bye now. I hope you won t take on much. And I hope
Jane 'll soon be better.'
'Thank you. I must go up to her; she doesn't like me to be away
Alice went before up the kitchen stairs, the dark, narrow stairs
which now seemed to her so poverty-stricken. Emma did not speak, but
pressed her hand at the door.
Kate stood above her on the first landing, and, as Emma came up,
'Has he come?'
'Something has hindered him.' And Emma added, 'He couldn't help it.'
'Well, then, I think he ought to have helped it,' said the other
tartly. 'When does he mean to come, I'd like to know?'
Emma passed into the sick-room. Her sister followed her with eyes of
ill-content, then returned to the kitchen.
Jane lay against pillows. Red light from the fire played over her
face, which was wasted beyond recognition. She looked a handmaiden
The atmosphere of the room was warm and sickly. A small green-shaded
lamp stood by the looking-glass in front of the window; it cast a
disk of light below, and on the ceiling concentric rings of light
and shade, which flickered ceaselessly, and were at times all but
obliterated in a gleam from the fireplace. A kettle sang on the
The sick girl's hands lay on the counterpane; one of them moved as
Emma came to the bedside, and rested when the warmer fingers clasped
it. There was eager inquiry in the sunken eyes; her hand tried to
raise itself, but in vain.
'What did Alice say?' she asked, in quick feeble tones. 'Is he
'Not for Christmas, I'm afraid, dear. He's still very busy.'
'But he sent you a message?'
'Yes. He would have come if he could.'
'Did you tell Alice I wanted to see her? Why didn't she come up? Why
did she stay such a short time?'
'She couldn't stay to-night, Jane. Are you easy still, love?'
'Oh, I did so want to see her. Why couldn't she stop, Emma? It
wasn't kind of her to go without seeing me. I'd have made time if it
had been her as was lying in bed. And he doesn't even answer what I
wrote to him. It was such work to write--I couldn't now; and he
might have answered.'
'He very seldom writes to any one, you know, Jane. He has so little
'Little time! I have less, Emma, and he must know that. It's unkind
of him. What did Alice tell you? Why did he want her to go there?
Tell me everything.'
Emma felt the sunken eyes burning her with their eager look. She
hesitated, pretended to think of something that had to be done, and
the eyes burned more and more. Jane made repeated efforts to raise
herself, as if to get a fuller view of her sister's face.
'Shall I move you?' Emma asked. 'Would you like another pillow?'
'No, no,' was the impatient answer. 'Don't go away from me; don't
take your hand away. I want to know all that Alice said. You haven't
any secrets from me, Emmy. Why _does_ he stay away so long? It seems
years since he came to see you. It's wrong of him. There's no
business ought to keep him away all this time. Look at me, and tell
me what she said.'
'Only that he hadn't time. Dear, you mustn't excite yourself so.
Isn't it all right, Jane, as long as I don't mind it?'
'Why do you look away from me? No, it isn't all right. Oh, I can't
rest, I can't lie here! Why haven't I strength to go and say to him
what I want to say? I thought it was him. when the knock came. When
Kate told me it wasn't, I felt as if my heart was sinking down; and
I don't seem to have no tears left to cry. It 'ud ease me a little
if I could. And now _you're_ beginning to have secrets. Emmy!'
It was a cry of anguish. The mention of tears had brought them to
Emma's eyes, for they lurked very near the surface, and Jane had
seen the firelight touch on a moist cheek. For an instant she raised
herself from the pillows. Emma folded soft arms about her and
pressed her cheek against the heat which consumed her sister's.
'Emmy, I must know,' wailed the sick girl. 'Is it what I've been
afraid of? No, not that! Is it the worst of all? You must tell .me
now. You don't love me if you keep away the truth. I can't have
anything between you and me.'
A dry sob choked her; she gasped for breath. Emma, fearful lest the
very life was escaping from her embrace, drew away and looked in
anguish. Her involuntary tears had ceased, but she could no longer
practise deception. The cost to Jane was greater perhaps than if she
knew the truth. At least their souls must be united ere it was too
'The truth, Emmy!'
'I will tell it you, darling,' she replied, with quiet sadness.
'It's for him that I'm sorry. I never thought anything could tempt
him to break his word. Think of it in the same way as I do,
dear-sister; don't be sorry for me, but for him.'
'He's never coming? He won't marry you?'
'He's already married, Jane. Alice came to tell me.'
Again she would have raised herself, but this time there was no
strength. Not even her arms could she lift from the coverlets. But
Emma saw the vain effort, raised the thin arms, put them about her
neck, and held her sister to her heart as if for eternity.
'Darling, darling, it isn't hard to bear. I care for nothing but
your love. Live for my sake, dearest dear; I have forgotten every
one and everything but you. It's so much better. I couldn't have
changed my life so; I was never meant to be rich. It seems unkind of
him, but in a little time we shall see it was best. Only you, Janey;
you have my whole heart, and I'm so glad to feel it is so. Live, and
I'll give every minute of my life to loving you, poor sufferer.'
Jane could not breathe sound into the words she would have spoken.
She lay with her eyes watching the fire-play on the ceiling. Her
respiration was quick and feeble.
Mutimer's name was not mentioned by either again that night, by one
of them never again. Such silence was his punishment.
Kate entered the room a little before midnight. She saw one of
Jane's hands raised to impose silence. Emma, still sitting by the
bedside, slept; her head rested on the pillows. The sick had become
'She'd better go to bed,' Kate whispered. 'I'll wake her.'
'No, no You needn't stay, Kate. I don't want anything. Let her sleep
as she is.'
The elder sister left the room. Then Jane approached her head to
that of the sleeper, softly, softly, and her arm stole across Emma's
bosom and rested on her farther shoulder. The fire burned with
little whispering tongues of flame; the circles of light and shade
quivered above the lamp. Abroad the snow fell and froze upon the
Three days later Alice Mutimer, as she sat at breakfast, was told
that a visitor named Mrs. Clay desired to see her. It was nearly ten
o'clock; Alice had no passion for early rising, and since her
mother's retirement from the common table she breakfasted alone at
any hour which seemed good to her. 'Arry always--or nearly always--left
the house at eight o'clock.
Mrs. Clay was introduced into the dining-room. Alice received her
with an anxious face, for she was anticipating trouble from the
house in Wilton Square. But the trouble was other than she had in
'Jane died at four o'clock this morning,' the visitor began, without
agitation, in the quick, unsympathetic voice which she always used
when her equanimity was in any way disturbed. 'Emma hasn't closed
her eyes for two days and nights, and now I shouldn't wonder if
she's going to be ill herself. I made her lie down, and then came
out just to ask you to write to your brother. Surely he'll come now.
I don't know what to do about the burying; we ought to have some one
to help us. I expected your mother would be coming to see us, but
she's kept away all at once. Will you write to Dick?'
Alice was concerned to perceive that Kate was still unenlightened.
'Did Emma know you were coming?' she asked.
'Yes, I suppose she did. But it's hard to get her to attend to
anything. I've left her alone, 'cause there wasn't any one I could
fetch at once. Will you write to-day?'
'Yes, I'll see to it,' said Alice. 'Have some breakfast, will you?'
'Well, I don't mind just a cup o' coffee. It's very cold, and I had
to walk a long way before I could get a 'bus.'
Whilst Kate refreshed herself, Alice played nervously with her
tea-spoon, trying to make up her mind what must be done. The
situation was complicated with many miseries, but Alice had
experienced a growth of independence since her return from Wanley.
All she had seen and heard whilst with her brother had an effect
upon her in the afterthought, and her mother's abrupt surrender into
her hands of the household control gave her, when she had time to
realise it, a sense of increased importance not at all disagreeable.
Already she had hired a capable servant in addition to the scrubby
maid-of-all-work who had sufficed for Mrs. Mutimer, and it was her
intention that henceforth domestic arrangements should be
established on quite another basis.
'I'll telegraph to Dick,' she said, presently. 'I've no doubt he'll
see that everything's done properly.'
'But won't he come himself?'
'We shall see.'
'Is your mother in?'
'She's not very well; I don't think I must disturb her with bad
news. Tell Emma I'm very sorry, will you? I do hope she isn't going
to be ill. You must see that she gets rest now. Was it sudden?' she
added, showing in her face how little disposed she was to dwell on
such gloomy subjects as death and burial.
'She was wandering all yesterday. I don't think she knew anything
after eight o'clock last night. She went off in a sleep.'
When the visitor had gone, Alice drove to the nearest telegraph
office and despatched a message to her brother, giving the news and
asking what should be done. By three o'clock in the afternoon no
reply had yet arrived; but shortly after Mr. Keene presented himself
at the house. Alice had not seen him since her return. He bowed to
her with extreme gravity, and spoke in a subdued voice.
'I grieve that I have lost time, Miss Mutimer. Important business
had taken me from home, and on my return I found a telegram from
Wanley. Your brother directs me to wait upon you at once, on a very
sad subject, I fear. He instructs me to purchase a grave in Manor
Park Cemetery. No near relative, I trust?'
'No, only a friend,' Alice replied. 'You've heard me speak of a girl
called Emma Vine. It's a sister of hers. She died this morning, and
they want help about the funeral.'
'Precisely, precisely. You know with what zeal I hasten to perform
your'--a slight emphasis on this word--'brother's pleasure, be the
business what it may. I'll see about it at once. I was to say to you
that your brother would be in town this evening.'
'Oh, very well. But you needn't look so gloomy, you know, Mr. Keene.
I'm very sorry, but then she's been ill for a very long time, and
it's really almost a relief--to her sisters, I mean.'
'I trust you enjoyed your visit to Wanley, Miss Mutimer?' said
Keene, still preserving his very respectful tone and bearing.
'Oh yes, thanks. I dare say I shall go there again before very long.
No doubt you'll be glad to hear that.'
'I will try to be, Miss Mutimer. I trust that your pleasure is my
first consideration in life.'
Alice was, to speak vulgarly, practising on Mr. Keene. He was her
first visitor since she had entered upon rule, and she had a double
satisfaction in subduing him with airs and graces. She did not
trouble to reflect that under the circumstances he might think her
rather heartless, and indeed hypocrisy was not one of her failings.
Her _naivete_ constituted such charm as she possessed; in
the absence of any deep qualities it might be deemed a virtue, for
it was inconsistent with serious deception.
'I suppose you mean you'd really much rather I stayed here?'
Keene eyed her with observation. He himself had slight depth for a
man doomed to live by his wits, and he was under the disadvantage of
really feeling something of what he said. He was not a rascal by
predilection; merely driven that way by the forces which in our
social state abundantly make for rascality.
'Miss Mutimer,' he replied, with a stage sigh, 'why do you tempt my
weakness? I am on my honour; I am endeavouring to earn your good
opinion. Spare me!'
'Oh, I'm sure there's no harm in you, Mr. Keene. I suppose you'd
better go and see after your--your business.'
'You are right. I go at once, Princess. I may call you Princess?'
'Well, I don't know about that. Of course only when there's no one
else in the room.'
'But I shall think it always.'
'That I can't prevent, you know.'
'Ah, I fear you mean nothing, Miss Mutimer.'
'Nothing at all.'
He took his leave, and Alice enjoyed reflecting upon the dialogue,
which certainly had meant nothing for her in any graver sense.
'Now, that's what the books call _flirtation_,' she said to herself.
'I think I can do that.'
And on the whole she could, vastly better than might have been
expected of her birth and breeding.
At six o'clock a note was delivered for her. Richard wrote from an
hotel in the neighbourhood, asking her to come to him. She found him
in a private sitting-room, taking a meal.
'Why didn't you come to the house?' she asked. 'You knew mother
never comes down-stairs.'
Richard looked at her with lowered brows.
'You mean to say she's doing that in earnest?'
'That she is She comes down early in the morning and gets all the
food she wants for the day. I heard her cooking something in a
frying-pan to-day. She hasn't been out of the house yet.'
'Does she know about Jane?'
'No. I know what it would be if I went and told her.'
He ate in silence. Alice waited.
'You must go and see Emma,' was his next remark. 'Tell her there's a
grave in Manor Park Cemetery; her father and mother were buried
there, you know. Keene 'll look after it all and he'll come and tell
you what to do.'
'Why did you come up?'
'Oh, I couldn't talk about these things in letters. You'll have to
tell mother; she might want to go to the funeral.'
'I don't see why I should do all your disagreeable work, Dick!'
'Very well, don't do it,' he replied sullenly, throwing down his
knife and fork.
A scene of wrangling followed, without violence, but of the kind
which is at once a cause and an effect of demoralisation. The old
disagreements between them had been in another tone, at all events
on Richard's side, for they had arisen from his earnest disapproval
of frivolities and the like. Richard could no longer speak in that
way. To lose the power of honest reproof in consequence of a moral
lapse is to any man a wide-reaching calamity; to a man of Mutimer's
calibre it meant disaster of which the end could not be foreseen.
Of course Alice yielded; her affection and Richard's superior force
always made it a foregone result that she should do so.
'And you won't come and see mother?' she asked.
'No. She's behaving foolishly.'
'It's precious dull at home, I can tell you. I can't go on much
longer without friends of some kind. I've a good mind to marry Mr.
Keene, just for a change.'
Richard started up, with his fist on the table.
'Do you mean to say he's been talking to you in that way?' he cried
Alice had spoken with thoughtless petulance. She hastened eagerly to
correct her error.
'As if I meant it! Don't be stupid, Dick. Of course he hasn't said a
word; I believe he's engaged to somebody; I thought so from
something he said a little while ago. The idea of me marrying a man
He examined her closely, and Alice was not afraid of telltale
'Well, I can't think you'd be such a fool. If I thought there was
any danger of that, I'd soon stop it.'
'Would you, indeed! Why, that would be just the way to make me say
I'd have him. You'd have known that if only you read novels.'
'Novels!' he exclaimed, with profound contempt. 'Don't go playing
with that kind of thing; it's dangerous. At least you can wait a
week or two longer. I've only let him see so much of you because I
felt sure you'd got common sense.'
'Of course I have. But what's to happen in a week or two?'
'I should think you might come to Wanley for a little. We shall see.
If mother had only 'Arry in the house, she might come back to her
'Shall I tell her you've been to London?'
'You can if you like,' he replied, with a show of indifference.
Jane Vine was buried on Sunday afternoon, her sisters alone
accompanying her to the grave. Alice had with difficulty obtained
admission to her mother's room, and it seemed to her that the news
she brought was received with little emotion. The old woman had an
air of dogged weariness; she did not look her daughter in the face,
and spoke only in monosyllables. Her face was yellow, her cheeks
like wrinkled parchment.
Manor Park Cemetery lies in the remote East End, and gives
sleeping-places to the inhabitants of a vast district. There Jane's
parents lay, not in a grave to themselves, but buried amidst the
nameless dead, in that part of the ground reserved for those who can
purchase no more than a portion in the foss which is filled when its
occupants reach statutable distance from the surface. The regions
around were then being built upon for the first time; the familiar
streets of pale, damp brick were stretching here and there,
continuing London, much like the spreading of a disease. Epping
Forest is near at hand, and nearer the dreary expanse of Wanstead
Not grief, but chill desolation makes this cemetery its abode. A
country churchyard touches the tenderest memories, and softens the
heart with longing for the eternal rest. The cemeteries of wealthy
London abound in dear and great associations, or at worst preach
homilies which connect themselves with human dignity and pride. Here
on the waste limits of that dread East, to wander among tombs is to
go hand in hand with the stark and eyeless emblem of mortality; the
spirit falls beneath the cold burden of ignoble destiny. Here lie
those who were born for toll; who, when toil has worn them to the
uttermost, have but to yield their useless breath and pass into
oblivion. For them is no day, only the brief twilight of a winter
sky between the former and the latter night For them no aspiration;
for them no hope of memory in the dust; their very children are
wearied into forgetfulness. Indistinguishable units in the vast
throng that labours but to support life, the name of each, father,
mother, child, is as a dumb cry for the warmth and love of which
Fate so stinted them. The wind wails above their narrow tenements;
the sandy soil, soaking in the rain as soon as it has fallen, is a
symbol of the great world which absorbs their toil and straightway
blots their being.
It being Sunday afternoon the number of funerals was considerable;
even to bury their dead the toilers cannot lose a day of the wage
week. Around the chapel was a great collection of black vehicles
with sham-tailed mortuary horses; several of the families present
must have left themselves bare in order to clothe a coffin in the
way they deemed seemly. Emma and her sister had made their own
funeral garments, and the former, in consenting for the sake of poor
Jane to receive the aid which Mutimer offered, had insisted through
Alice that there should be no expenditure beyond the strictly
needful. The carriage which conveyed her and Kate alone followed the
hearse from Hoxton; it rattled along at a merry pace, for the way
was lengthy, and a bitter wind urged men and horses to speed. The
occupants of the box kept up a jesting colloquy.
Impossible to read the burial service over each of the dead
separately; time would not allow it. Emma and Kate found themselves
crowded among a number of sobbing women, just in time to seat
themselves before the service began. Neither of them had moist eyes;
the elder looked about the chapel with blank gaze, often shivering
with cold; Emma's face was bent downwards, deadly pale, set in
unchanging woe. A world had fallen to pieces about her; she did not
feel the ground upon which she trod; there seemed no way from amid
the ruins. She had no strong religious faith; a wail in the darkness
was all the expression her heart could attain to; in the present
anguish she could not turn her thoughts to that far vision of a life
hereafter. All day she had striven to realise that a box of wood
contained all that was left of her sister. The voice of the
clergyman struck her ear with meaningless monotony. Not immortality
did she ask for, but one more whisper from the lips that could not
speak, one throb of the heart she had striven so despairingly to
warm against her own.
Kate was plucking at her arm, for the service was over, and
unconsciously she was impeding people who wished to pass from the
seats. With difficulty she rose and walked; the cold seemed to have
checked the flow of her blood; she noticed the breath rising from
her mouth, and wondered that she could have so much whilst those
dear lips were breathless. Then she was being led over hard snow,
towards a place where men stood, where there was new-turned earth,
where a coffin lay upon the ground. She suffered the sound of more
words which she could not follow, then heard the dull falling of
clods upon hollow wood. A hand seemed to clutch her throat, she
struggled convulsively and cried aloud. But the tears would not
No memory of the return home dwelt afterwards in her mind. The white
earth, the headstones sprinkled with snow, the vast grey sky over
which darkness was already creeping, the wind and the clergyman's
voice joining in woful chant, these alone remained with her to mark
the day. Between it and the days which then commenced lay formless
On Tuesday morning Alice Mutimer came to the house. Mrs. Clay
chanced to be from home; Emma received the visitor and led her down
into the kitchen.
'I am glad you have come,' she said; 'I wanted to see you to-day.'
'Are you feeling better?' Alice asked. She tried in vain to speak
with the friendliness of past days; that could never be restored.
Her advantages of person and dress were no help against the
embarrassment caused in her by the simple dignity of the wronged and
Emma replied that she was better, then asked:
'Have you come only to see me; or for something else?'
'I wanted to know how you were; but I've brought you something as
She took an envelope from within her muff. Emma shook her head.
'No, nothing more,' she said, in a tone removed alike from
resentment and from pathos; 'I want you, please, to say that we can
t take anything after this.'
'But what are you going to do, Emma?'
'To leave this house and live as we did before.'
'Oh, but you can't do that What does Kate say?'
'I haven't told her yet; I'm going to do so to-day.'
'But she'll feel it very hard with the children.'
The children were sitting together in a corner of the kitchen. Emma
glanced at them, and saw that Bertie, the elder, was listening with
a surprised look.
'Yes, I'm sorry,' she replied simply, 'but we have no choice.'
Alice had an impulse of generosity.
'Then take it from _me_,' she said. 'You won't mind that. You know I
have plenty of my own. Live here and let one or two of the rooms,
and I'll lend you what you need till the business is doing well. Now
you can't have anything to say against that?'
Emma still shook her head.
'The business will never help us. We must go back to the old work;
we can always live on that. I can't take anything from you, Alice.'
'Well, I think it's very unkind, Emma.'
'Perhaps so, but I can't help it: It's kind of you to offer, I feel
that; but I'd rather work my fingers to the bone than touch one
halfpenny now that I haven't earned.'
Alice bridled slightly and urged no more. She left before Kate
In the course of the morning Emma strung herself to the effort of
letting her sister know the true state of affairs. It was only what
Kate had for a long time suspected, and she freely said as much,
expressing her sentiments with fluent indignation.
'Of course I know you won't hear of it,' she said, 'but if I was in
your place I'd make him smart. I'd have him up and make him pay, see
if I wouldn't. Trust him, he knows you're too soft-hearted, and he
takes advantage of you. It's girls like you as encourages men to
think they can do as they like. You've no right, you haven't, to let
him off. I'd have him in the newspapers and show him up, see if I
wouldn't. And he shan't have it quite so easy as he thinks neither;
I'll go about and tell everybody as I know. Only let him come
a-lecturin' hereabouts, that's all!'
'Kate,' broke in the other, 'if you do anything of the kind, I don't
know how I shall speak to you again. Its not you he's harmed; you've
no right to spread talk about me It's my affair, and I must do as I
think fit. It's all over and there's no occasion for neither you nor
me to speak of him again I'm going out this afternoon to find a room
for us, and we shall be no worse off than we was before. We've got
to work, that's all, and to earn our living like other women do.'
Her sister stared incredulously.
'You mean to say he's stopped sending money?'
'I have refused to take it.'
'You've done _what_? Well, of all the--!' Comparisons failed her.
'And I've got to take these children back again into a hole like the
last? Not me! You do as you like; I suppose you know your own
business. But if he doesn't send the money as usual, I'll find some
way to make him, see if I don't! You're off your head, I think.'
Emma had anticipated this, and was prepared to bear the brunt of her
sister's anger. Kate was not originally blessed with much sweetness
of disposition, and an unhappy marriage had made her into a sour,
nagging woman. But, in spite of her wretched temper and the low
moral tone induced during her years of matrimony, she was not
evil-natured, and her chief safeguard was affection for her sister
Emma. This seldom declared itself, for she was of those unhappily
constituted people who find nothing so hard as to betray the
tenderness of which they are capable, and, as often as not, are
driven by a miserable perversity to words and actions which seem
quite inconsistent with such feeling. For Jane she had cared far
less than for Emma, yet her grief at Jane's death was more than
could be gathered from her demeanour. It had, in fact, resulted in a
state of nervous irritableness; an outbreak of anger came to her as
a relief, such as Emma had recently found in the shedding of tears.
On her own account she felt strongly, but yet more on Emma's; coarse
methods of revenge naturally suggested themselves to her, and to be
thwarted drove her to exasperation. When Emma persisted in steady
opposition, exerting all the force of her character to subdue her
sister's ignoble purposes, Kate worked herself to frenzy. For more
than an hour her voice was audible in the street, as she poured
forth torrents of furious reproach and menace; all the time Emma
stood patient and undaunted, her own anger often making terrible
struggle for mastery, but ever finding itself subdued. For she, too,
was of a passionate nature, but the treasures of sensibility which
her heart enclosed consecrated all her being to noble ends. One
invaluable aid she had in a contest such as this--her inability to
grow sullen. Righteous anger might gleam in her eyes and quiver upon
her lips, but the fire always burnt clear; it is smoulder that
poisons the air.
She knew her sister, pitied her, always made for her the gentlest
allowances. It would have been easy to stand aside, to disclaim
responsibility, and let Kate do as she chose, but the easy course
was never the one she chose when endurance promised better results.
To resist to the uttermost, even to claim and exert the authority
she derived from her suffering, was, she knew, the truest kindness
to her sister. And in the end she prevailed. Kate tore her passion
to tatters, then succumbed to exhaustion. But she did not fling out
of the room, and this Emma knew to be a hopeful sign. The
opportunity of strong, placid speech at length presented itself, and
Emma used it well. She did not succeed in eliciting a promise, but
when she declared her confidence in her sister's better self, Kate
made no retort, only sat in stubborn muteness.
In the afternoon Emma went forth to fulfil her intention of finding
lodgings. She avoided the neighbourhood in which she had formerly
lived, and after long search discovered what she wanted in a woful
byway near Old Street. It was one room only, but larger than she had
hoped to come upon; fortunately her own furniture had been
preserved, and would now suffice.
Kate remained sullen, but proved by her actions that she had
surrendered; she began to pack her possessions. Emma wrote to Alice,
announcing that the house was tenantless; she took the note to
Highbury herself, and left it at the door, together with the house
key. The removal was effected after nightfall.
Movements which appeal to the reason and virtue of humanity, and are
consequently doomed to remain long in the speculative stage, prove
their vitality by enduring the tests of schism. A Socialistic
propaganda in times such as our own, an insistence upon the
principles of Christianity in a modern Christian state, the advocacy
of peace and good-will in an age when falsehood is the foundation of
the social structure, and internecine warfare is presupposed in
every compact between man and man, might anticipate that the test
would come soon, and be of a stringent nature. Accordingly it did
not surprise Mr. Westlake when he discerned the beginnings of
commotion in the Union of which he represented the cultured and
leading elements. A comrade named Roodhouse had of late been coming
into prominence by addressing himself in fiery eloquence to open-air
meetings, and at length had taken upon himself to more than hint
that the movement was at a standstill owing to the lukewarmness (in
guise of practical moderation) of those to whom its guidance had
been entrusted. The reports of Comrade Roodhouse's lectures were of
a nature that made it difficult for Mr. Westlake to print them in
the 'Fiery Cross;' one such report arrived at length, that of a
meeting held on Clerkenwell Green on the first Sunday of the new
year, to which the editor refused admission. The comrade who made it
his business to pen notes of the new apostle's glowing words, had
represented him as referring to the recognised leader in such very
uncompromising terms, that to publish the report in the official
columns would have been stultifying. In the lecture in question
Roodhouse declared his adherence to the principles of assassination;
he pronounced them the sole working principles; to deny to
Socialists the right of assassination was to rob them of the very
sinews of war. Men who affected to be revolutionists, but were in
reality nothing more than rose-water romancers, would of course
object to anything which looked like business; they liked to sit in
their comfortable studies and pen daintily worded articles, thus
earning for themselves a humanitarian reputation at a very cheap
rate. That would not do; _à bas_ all such penny-a-liner
pretence! Blood and iron! that must be the revolutionists'
watchword. Was it not by blood and iron that the present damnable
system was maintained? To arms, thensecretly, of course. Let tyrants
be made to tremble upon their thrones in more countries than Russia.
Let capitalists fear to walk in the daylight. This only was the path
It was thought by the judicious that Comrade Roodhouse would, if he
repeated this oration, find himself the subject of a rather ugly
indictment. For the present, however, his words were ignored, save
in the Socialist body. To them, of course, he had addressed himself,
and doubtless he was willing to run a little risk for the sake of a
most practical end, that of splitting the party, and thus
establishing a sovereignty for himself; this done, he could in
future be more guarded. His reporter purposely sent 'copy' to Mr.
Westlake which could not be printed, and the rejection of the report
was the signal for secession. Comrade Roodhouse printed at his own
expense a considerable number of leaflets, and sowed them broadcast
in the Socialist meeting-places. There were not wanting disaffected
brethren, who perused these appeals with satisfaction. Schism
Comrade Roodhouse was of course a man of no means, but he numbered
among his followers two extremely serviceable men, one of them a
practical printer who carried on a small business in Camden Town;
the other an oil merchant, who, because his profits had never
exceeded a squalid two thousand a year, whereas another oil merchant
of his acquaintance made at least twice as much, was embittered
against things in general, and ready to assist any subversionary
movement, yea, even with coin of the realm, on the one condition
that he should be allowed to insert articles of his own composition
in the new organ which it was proposed to establish. There was no
difficulty in conceding this trifle, and the 'Tocsin' was the
result. The name was a suggestion of the oil merchant himself, and
no bad name if Socialists at large could be supposed capable of
understanding it; but the oil merchant was too important a man to be
thwarted, and the argument by which he supported his choice was
incontestable. 'Isn't it our aim to educate the people? Very well,
then let them begin by knowing what Tocsin means. I shouldn't know
myself if I hadn't come across it in the newspaper and looked it up
in the dictionary; so there you are!'
And there was the 'Tocsin,' a weekly paper like the 'Fiery Cross.'
The first number appeared in the middle of February, so admirably
prepared were the plans of Comrade Roodhouse. It appeared on Friday;
the next Sunday promised to be a lively day at Commonwealth Hall and
elsewhere. At the original head-quarters of the Union addresses were
promised from two leading men, Comrades Westlake and Mutimer.
Comrade Roodhouse would in the morning address an assembly on
Clerkenwell Green; in the evening his voice would summon adherents
to the meeting-place in Hoxton which had been the scene of our
friend Richard's earliest triumphs. With few exceptions the
Socialists of that region had gone over to the new man and the new
Richard arrived in town on the Saturday, and went to the house in
Highbury, whither disagreeable business once more summoned him.
Alice, who, owing to her mother's resolute refusal to direct the
household, had not as yet been able to spend more than a day or two
with Richard and his wife, sent nothing but ill news to Wanley. Mrs.
Mutimer seemed to be breaking down in health, and 'Arry was
undisguisedly returning to evil ways. For the former, it was
suspected--a locked door prevented certainty--that she had of late
kept her bed the greater part of the day; a servant who met her
downstairs in the early morning reported that she 'looked very bad
indeed.' The case of the latter was as hard to deal with. 'Arry had
long ceased to attend his classes with any regularity, and he was
once more asserting the freeman's right to immunity from day labour.
Moreover, he claimed in practice the freeman's right to get drunk
four nights out of the seven. No one knew whence he got his money;
Richard purposely stinted him, but the provision was useless. Mr.
Keene declared with lamentations that his influence over 'Arry was
at an end; nay, the youth had so far forgotten gratitude as to
frankly announce his intention of 'knockin' Keene's lights out' if
he were further interfered with. To the journalist his 'lights' were
indispensable; in no sense of the word did he possess too many of
them; so it was clear that he must abdicate his tutorial functions.
Alice implored her brother to come and 'do something.'
Richard, though a married man of only six weeks' standing, had
troubles altogether in excess of his satisfactions. Things were not
as they should have been in that earthly paradise called New Wanley.
It was not to be expected that the profits of that undertaking would
be worth speaking of for some little time to come, but it was
extremely desirable that it should pay its own expenses, and it
began to be doubtful whether even this moderate success was being
achieved. Various members of the directing committee had visited New
Wanley recently, and Richard had talked to them in a somewhat
discouraging tone; his fortune was not limitless, it had to be
remembered; a considerable portion of old Mutimer's money had lain
in the vast Belwick concern of which he was senior partner; the
surviving members of the firm were under no specified obligation to
receive Richard himself as partner, and the product of the realised
capital was a very different thing from the share in the profits
which the old man had enjoyed. Other capital Richard had at his
command, but already he was growing chary of encroachments upon
principal. He began to murmur inwardly that the entire fortune did
not lie at his disposal; willingly he would have allowed Alice a
handsome portion; and as for 'Arry, the inheritance was clearly
going to be his ruin. The practical difficulties at New Wanley were
proving considerable; the affair was viewed with hostility by
ironmasters in general, and the results of such hostility were felt.
But Richard was committed to his scheme; all his ambitions based
themselves thereupon. And those ambitions grew daily.
These greater troubles must to a certain extent solve themselves,
but in Highbury it was evidently time, as Alice said, to 'do
something.' His mother's obstinacy stood in the way of almost every
scheme that suggested itself. Richard was losing patience with the
poor old woman, and suffered the more from his irritation because he
would so gladly have behaved to her with filial kindness. One plan
there was to which she might possibly agree, and even have pleasure
in accepting it, but it was not easy to propose. The house in Wilton
Square was still on his hands; upon the departure of Emma and her
sister; a certain Mrs. Chattaway, a poor friend of old times, who
somehow supported herself and a grandchild, had been put into the
house as caretaker, for Richard could not sell all the furniture to
which his mother was so attached, and he had waited for her return
to reason before ultimately deciding how to act in that matter.
Could he now ask the old woman to return to the Square, and, it
might be, live there with Mrs. Chattaway? In that case both 'Arry
and Alice would have to leave London.
On Saturday afternoon he had a long talk with his sister. To Alice
also it had occurred that their mother's return to the old abode
might be desirable.
'And you may depend upon it, Dick,' she said, 'she'll never rest
again till she does get back. I believe you've only got to speak of
it, and she'll go at once.'
'She'll think it unkind,' Richard objected. 'It looks as if we
wanted to get her out of the way. Why on earth does she carry on
like this? As if we hadn't bother enough!'
'Well, we can't help what she thinks. I believe it'll be for her own
good. She'll be comfortable with Mrs. Chattaway, and that's more
than she'll ever be here. But what about 'Arry?'
'He'll have to come to Wanley. I shall find him work there--I wish
I'd done so months ago.'
There were no longer the objections to 'Arry's appearance at Wanley
that had existed previous to Richard's marriage; none the less the
resolution was courageous, and proved the depth of Mutimer's anxiety
for his brother. Having got the old woman to Wilton Square, and
Alice to the Manor, it would have been easy enough to bid Mr. Henry
Mutimer betake himself--whither his mind directed him. Richard could
not adopt that rough-and-ready way out of his difficulty. Just as he
suffered in the thought that he might be treating his mother
unkindly, so he was constrained to undergo annoyances rather than
abandon the hope of saving 'Arry from ultimate destruction.
'Will he live at the Manor?' Alice asked uneasily.
Richard mused; then a most happy idea struck him.
'I have it! He shall live with Rodman. The very thing! Rodman's the
fellow to look after him. Yes; that's what we'll do.'
'And I'm to live at the Manor?'
'You think Adela won't mind?'
'Mind? How the deuce can she mind it?'
As a matter of form Adela would of course be consulted, but Richard
had no notion of submitting practical arrangements in his own
household to his wife's decision.
'Now we shall have to see mother,' he said. 'How's that to be
'Will you go and speak at her door?'
'That be hanged! Confound it, has she gone crazy? Just go up and say
I want to see her.'
'If I say that, I'm quite sure she won't come.'
Richard waxed in anger.
'But she _shall_ come! Go and say I want to see her, and that if she
doesn't come down I'll force the door. There'll have to be an end to
this damned foolery. I've got no time to spend humbugging. It's four
o'clock, and I have letters to write before dinner. Tell her I must
see her, and have done with it.'
Alice went upstairs with small hope of success. She knocked twice
before receiving an answer.
'Mother, are you there?'
'What do you want?' came back in a voice of irritation.
'Dick's here, and wants to speak to you. He says he _must_ see you;
it's something very important.'
'I've nothing to do with him,' was the reply.
'Will you see him if he comes up here?'
'No, I won't.'
Alice went down and repeated this. After a moment's hesitation
Mutimer ascended the stairs by threes. He rapped loudly at the
bedroom door. No answer was vouchsafed.
'Mother, you must either open the door or come downstairs,' he cried
with decision. 'This has gone on long enough. Which will you do?'
'I'll do neither,' was the angry reply. 'What right have you to
order me about, I'd like to know? You mind your business, and I'll
'All right. Then I shall send for a man at once, and have the door
Mrs. Mutimer knew well the tone in which these words were spoken;
more than once ere now it had been the preliminary of decided
action. Already Richard had reached the head of the stairs, when he
heard a key turn, and the bedroom door was thrown open with such
violence that the walls shook. He approached the threshold and
examined the interior.
There was only one noticeable change in the appearance of the
bedroom since he had last seen it. The dressing-table was drawn near
to the fire, and on it were a cup and saucer, a few plates, some
knives, forks, and spoons, and a folded tablecloth. A kettle and a
saucepan stood on the fender. Her bread and butter Mrs. Mutimer kept
in a drawer. All the appointments of the chamber were as clean and
orderly as could be.
The sight of his mother's face all but stilled Richard's anger; she
was yellow and wasted; her hair seemed far more grizzled than he
remembered it. She stood as far from him as she could get, in an
attitude not devoid of dignity, and looked him straight in the face.
He closed the door.
'Mother, I've not come here to quarrel with you,' Mutimer began, his
voice much softened. 'What's done is done, and there's no helping
it. I can understand you being angry at first, but there's no sense
in making enemies of us all in this way. It can't go on any
longer--neither for your sake nor ours. I want to talk reasonably,
and to make some kind of arrangement.'
'You want to get me out o' the 'ouse. I'm ready to go, an' glad to
go. I've earnt my livin' before now, an' I'm not so old but I can do
it again. You always was one for talkin', but the fewest words is
best. Them as talks most isn't allus the most straightfor'ard.'
'It isn't that kind of talk that'll do any good, mother. I tell you
again, I'm not going to use angry words; You know perfectly well
I've never behaved badly to you, and I'm not going to begin now.
What I've got to say is that you've no right to go on like this.
Whilst you've been shutting yourself up in this room, there's Alice
living by herself, which it isn't right she should do; and there's
'Arry going to the bad as fast as he can, and just because you won't
help to look after him. If you'll only think of it in the right way,
you'll see that's a good deal your doing. If 'Arry turns out a scamp
and a blackguard, it's you that 'll be greatly to blame for it. You
might have helped to look after him. I always thought you'd more
common sense. You may say what you like about me, and I don't care;
but when you talk about working for your living, you ought to
remember that there's work enough near at hand, if only you'd see to
'I've nothing to do neither with you nor 'Arry nor Alice,' answered
the old woman stubbornly. 'If 'Arry disgraces his name, he won't be
the first as has done it. I done my best to bring you all up honest,
but that was a long time ago, and things has changed. You're old
enough to go your own ways, an' your ways isn't mine. I told you how
it 'ud be, an' the only mistake I made was comin' to live here at
all. Now I can't be left alone, an' I'll go. You've no call to tell
me a second time.'
It was a long, miserable wrangle, lasting half an hour, before a
possibility of agreement presented itself. Richard at length ceased
to recriminate, and allowed his mother to talk herself to satiety.
He then said:
'I'm thinking of giving up this house, mother. What I want to know
is, whether it would please you to go back to the old place again? I
ask you because I can think of ud other way for putting you in
comfort. You must say and think what you like, only just answer me
the one question as I ask it--that is, honestly and good-temperedly.
I shall have to take 'Arry away with me; I can't let him go to the
dogs without another try to keep him straight. Alice 'll have to go
with me too, at all events for a time. Whether we like it or not,
she'll have to accustom herself to new ways, and I see my way to
helping her. I don't know whether you've been told that Mrs.
Chattaway's been living in the house since the others went away. The
furniture's just as you left it; I dare say you'd feel it like going
'They've gone, have they?' Mrs. Mutimer asked, as if unwilling to
show the interest which this proposal had excited in her.
'Yes, they went more than a month ago. We put Mrs. Chattaway in just
to keep the place in order. I look on the house as yours. You might
let Mrs. Chattaway stay there still, perhaps; but that's just as you
please. You oughtn't to live quite alone.'
Mrs. Mutimer did not soften, but, after many words, Richard
understood her to agree to what he proposed. She had stood all
through the dialogue; now at length she moved to a seat, and sank
upon it with trembling limbs. Richard wished to go, but had a
difficulty in leaving abruptly. Darkness had fallen whilst they
talked; they only saw each other by the light of the fire.
'Am I to come and see you or not, mother, when you get back to the
She did not reply.
'You won't tell me?'
'You must come or stay away, as it suits you,' she said, in a tone
'Very well, then I shall come, if it's only to tell you about 'Arry
and Alice. And now will you let Alice come up and have some tea with
There was no answer.
'Then I'll tell her she may,' he said kindly, and went from the
He found Alice in the drawing-room, and persuaded her to go up.
'Just take it as if there 'd been nothing wrong,' he said to his
sister. 'She's had a wretched time of it, I can see that. Take some
tea-cakes up with you, and talk about going back to the Square as if
she'd proposed it herself. We mustn't be hard with her just because
she can't change, poor old soul.'
Socialistic business took him away during the evening. When he
returned at eleven o'clock, 'Arry had not yet come in. Shortly
before one there were sounds of ineffectual effort at the front-door
latch. Mutimer, who happened to be crossing the hall, heard them,
and went to open the door. The result was that his brother fell
forward at full length upon the mat.
'Get up, drunken beast!' Richard exclaimed angrily.
'Beast yourself,' was the hiccupped reply, repeated several times
whilst 'Arry struggled to his feet. Then, propping himself against
the door-post, the maligned youth assumed the attitude of pugilism,
inviting all and sundry to come on and have their lights
extinguished. Richard flung him into the hall and closed the door.
'Arry had again to struggle with gravitation.
'Walk upstairs, if you can!' ordered his brother with contemptuous
After much trouble 'Arry was got to his room, thrust in, and the
door slammed behind him.
Richard was not disposed to argue with his brother this time. He
waited in the dining-room next morning till the champion of liberty
presented himself; then, scarcely looking at him, said with quiet
'Pack your clothes some time to-day. You're going to Wanley
'Not unless I choose,' remarked 'Arry.
'You look here,' exclaimed the elder, with concentrated savageness
which did credit to his powers of command. What you choose has
nothing to do with it, and that you'll please to understand. At
half-past nine to-morrow morning you're ready for me in this room;
hear that? I'll have an end to this kind of thing, or I'll know the
reason why. Speak a word of impudence to me and I'll knock half your
He was capable of doing it. 'Arry got to his morning meal in
In the course of the morning Mr. Keene called. Mutimer received him
in the dining-room, and they smoked together. Their talk was of the
meetings to be held in the evening.
'There'll be nasty doings up there,' Keene remarked, indicating with
his head the gathering place of Comrade Roodhouse's adherents.
'Of what kind?' Mutimer asked with indifference.
'There's disagreeable talk going about. Probably they'll indulge in
personalities a good deal.'
'Of course they will,' assented the other after a short pause.
'Not only Westlake. There's a more important man.'
Mutimer could not resist a smile, though he was uneasy. Keene
understood the smile; it was always an encouragement to him.
'What have they got hold of?'
'I'm afraid there'll be references to the girl.'
'The girl?' Richard hesitated. 'What girl? What do you know about
'It's only the gossip I've heard. I thought it would be as well if I
went about among them last night just to pick up hints, you know.'
'They're talking about that, are they? Well, let them. It isn't hard
to invent lies.'
'Just so,' observed Mr. Keene sympathisingly. 'Of course I know
they'd twisted the affair.'
Mutimer glanced at him and smoked in silence.
'I think I'd better be there to-night,' the journalist continued. 'I
shall be more useful there than at the hall.'
'As you like,' said Mutimer lightly.
The subject was not pursued.
Though the occasion was of so much importance, Commonwealth Hall
contained but a moderate audience when Mr. Westlake rose to deliver
his address. The people who occupied the benches were obviously of a
different stamp from those wont to assemble at the Hoxton
meeting-place. There were perhaps a dozen artisans of intensely
sober appearance, and the rest were men and women who certainly had
never wrought with their hands. Near Mrs. Westlake sat several
ladies, her personal friends. Of the men other than artisans the
majority were young, and showed the countenance which bespeaks
meritorious intelligence rather than ardour of heart or brain. Of
enthusiasts in the true sense none could be discerned. It needed but
a glance over this assembly to understand how very theoretical were
the convictions that had brought its members together.
Mr. Westlake's address was interesting, very interesting; he had
prepared it with much care, and its literary qualities were admired
when subsequently it saw the light in one of the leading
periodicals. Now and then he touched eloquence; the sincerity
animating him was unmistakable, and the ideal he glorified was
worthy of a noble mind. Not in anger did he speak of the schism from
which the movement was suffering; even his sorrow was dominated by a
gospel of hope. Optimism of the most fervid kind glowed through his
discourse; he grew almost lyrical in his anticipation of the good
time coming. For to-night it seemed to him that encouragement should
be the prevailing note; it was always easy to see the dark side of
things. Their work, he told his hearers, was but just beginning.
They aimed at nothing less than a revolution, and revolutions were
not brought about in a day. None of them would in the flesh behold
the reign of justice; was that a reason why they should neglect the
highest impulses of their nature and sit contented in the shadow of
the world's mourning? He spoke with passion of the millions
disinherited before their birth, with infinite tenderness of those
weak ones whom our social system condemns to a life of torture, just
because they are weak. One loved the man for his great heart and for
his gift of moving speech.
His wife sat, as she always. did when listening intently, her body
bent forward, one hand supporting her chin. Her eyes never quitted
To the second speaker it had fallen to handle in detail the
differences of the hour. Mutimer's exordium was not inspiriting
after the rich-rolling periods with which Mr. Westlake had come to
an end; his hard voice contrasted painfully with the other's
cultured tones. Richard was probably conscious of this, for he
hesitated more than was his wont, seeking words which did not come
naturally to him. However, he warmed to his work, and was soon
giving his audience clearly to understand how he, Richard Mutimer,
regarded the proceedings of Comrade Roodhouse. Let us be
practical--this was the burden of his exhortation. We are
Englishmen--and women--not flighty, frothy foreigners. Besides, we
have the blessings of free speech, and with the tongue and pen we
must be content to fight, other modes of warfare being barbarous.
Those who in their inconsiderate zeal had severed the Socialist
body, were taking upon themselves a very grave responsibility; not
only had they troubled the movement internally, but they would
doubtless succeed in giving it a bad name with many who were
hitherto merely indifferent, and who might in time have been brought
over. Let it be understood that in this hall the true doctrine was
preached, and that the 'Fiery Cross' was the true organ of English
Socialism as distinguished from foreign crazes. The strength of
England had ever been her sobriety; Englishmen did not fly at
impossibilities like noisy children. He would not hesitate to say
that the revolutionism preached in the newspaper called the 'Tocsin'
was dangerous, was immoral. And so on.
Richard was not at his best this evening. You might have seen Mrs.
Westlake abandon her attentive position, and lean back rather
wearily; you might have seen a covert smile on a few of the more
intelligent faces. It was awkward for Mutimer to be praising
moderation in a movement directed against capital, and this was not
exactly the audience for eulogies of Great Britain at the expense of
other countries. The applause when the orator seated himself was
anything but hearty. Richard knew it, and inwardly cursed Mr.
Westlake for taking the wind out of his sails.
Very different was the scene in the meeting-room behind the
coffee-shop. There, upon Comrade Roodhouse's harangue, followed a
debate more stirring than any on the records of the Islington and
Hoxton branch. The room was thoroughly full; the roof rang with
tempestuous acclamations. Messrs. Cowes and Cullen were in their
glory; they roared with delight at each depreciatory epithet applied
to Mr. Westlake and his henchmen, and prompted the speakers with
words and phrases of a rich vernacular. If anything, Comrade
Roodhouse fell a little short of what was expected of him. His
friends had come together prepared for gory language, but the
murderous instigations of Clerkenwell Green were not repeated with
the same crudity. The speaker dealt in negatives; not thus and thus
was the social millennium to be brought about, it was open to his
hearers to conceive the practical course. For the rest, the
heresiarch had a mighty flow of vituperative speech. Aspirates
troubled him, so that for the most part he cast them away, and the
syntax of his periods was often anacoluthic; but these matters were
of no moment.
Questions being called for, Mr. Cowes and Mr. Cullen of course
started up simultaneously. The former gentleman got the ear of the
meeting. With preliminary swaying of the hand, he looked round as
one about to propound a question which would for ever establish his
reputation for acumen. In his voice of quiet malice, with his
frequent deliberate pauses, with the wonted emphasis on absurd
pronunciations, he spoke somewhat thus:--
'In the course of his address--I shall say nothin' about its
qualities, the time for discussion will come presently--our Comrade
has said not a few 'ard things about certain individooals who put
themselves forward as perractical Socialists--'
'Not 'ard enough!' roared a voice from the back of the room.
Mr. Cowes turned his lank figure deliberately, and gazed for a
moment in the quarter whence the interruption had come. Then he
'I agree with that involuntary exclamation. Certainly, not 'ard
enough. And the question I wish to put to our Comrade is this: Is
he, or is he not, aweer of certain scandalous doin's on the part of
one of these said individooals, I might say actions which, from the
Socialist point of view, amount to crimes? If our Comrade is aweer
of what I refer to, then it seems to me it was his dooty to
distinctly mention it. If he was _not_ aweer, then we in this
neighbourhood shall be only too glad to enlighten him. I distinctly
assert that a certain individooal we all have in our thoughts has
proved himself a traitor to the cause of the people. Comrades will
understand me. And that's the question I wish to put.'
Mr. Cowes had introduced the subject which a considerable number of
those present were bent on publicly discussing. Who it was that had
first spread the story of Mutimer's matrimonial concerns probably no
one could have determined. It was not Daniel Dabbs, though Daniel,
partly from genuine indignation, partly in consequence of slowly
growing personal feeling against the Mutimers, had certainly
supplied Richard's enemies with corroborative details. Under
ordinary circumstances Mutimer's change of fortune would have seemed
to his old mates a sufficient explanation of his behaviour to Emma
Vine; they certainly would not have gone out of their way to condemn
him. But Richard was by this time vastly unpopular with most of
those who had once glorified him. Envy had had time to grow, and was
assisted by Richard's avoidance of personal contact with his Hoxton
friends. When they spoke of him now it was with sneers and sarcasms.
Some one had confidently asserted that the so-called Socialistic
enterprise at Wanley was a mere pretence, that Mutimer was making
money just like any other capitalist, and the leaguers of Hoxton
firmly believed this. They encouraged one another to positive hatred
of the working man who had suddenly become wealthy; his name stank
in their nostrils. This, in a great measure, explained Comrade
Roodhouse's success; personal feeling is almost always the spring of
public action among the uneducated. In the excitement of the schism
a few of the more energetic spirits had determined to drag Richard's
domestic concerns into publicity. They suddenly became aware that
private morality was at the root of the general good; they urged
each other to righteous indignation in a matter for which they did
not really care two straws. Thus Mr. Cowes's question was received
with vociferous approval. Those present who did not understand the
allusion were quickly enlightened by their neighbours. A crowd of
Englishmen working itself into a moral rage is as glorious a
spectacle as the world can show. Not one of these men but heartily
believed himself justified in reviling the traitor to his class, the
betrayer of confiding innocence. Remember, too, how it facilitates
speech to have a concrete topic on which to enlarge; in this matter
a West End drawing-room and the Hoxton coffee-shop are akin.
Regularity of procedure was at an end; question grew to debate, and
debate was riot. Mr. Cullen succeeded Mr. Cowes and roared himself
hoarse, defying the feeble protests of the chairman. He abandoned
mere allusion, and rejoiced the meeting by declaring names. His
example was followed by those who succeeded him.
Little did Emma think, as she sat working, Sunday though it was, in
her poor room, that her sorrows were being blared forth to a gross
assembly in venomous accusation against the man who had wronged her.
We can imagine that the knowledge would not greatly have soothed
Comrade Roodhouse at length obtained a hearing. It was his policy to
deprecate these extreme personalities, and in doing so he heaped on
the enemy greater condemnation. There was not a little art in the
heresiarch's modes of speech; the less obtuse appreciated him and
bade him live for ever. The secretary of the branch busily took
When the meeting had broken up into groups, a number of the more
prominent Socialists surrounded Comrade Roodhouse on the platform.
Their talk was still of Mutimer, of his shameless hypocrisy, his
greed, his infernal arrogance. Near at hand stood Mr. Keene; a word
brought him into conversation with a neighbour. He began by
repeating the prevalent abuse, then, perceiving that his hearer
merely gave assent in general terms, he added:--
'I shouldn't wonder, though, if there was some reason we haven't
heard of--I mean, about the girl, you know.'
'Think so?' said the other.
'Well, I _have_ heard it said--but then one doesn't care to repeat
'What's that, eh?' put in another man, who had caught the words.
'Oh, nothing. Only the girl's made herself scarce. Dare say the
fault wasn't altogether on one side.'
And Mr. Keene winked meaningly.
The hint spread among those on the platform. Daniel Dabbs happened
to hear it repeated in a gross form.
'Who's been a-sayin' that?' he roared. 'Where have you got that
The source was already forgotten, but Daniel would not let the
calumny take its way unopposed. He harangued those about him with
'If any man's got a word to say against Emma Vine, let him come an'
say it to me, that's all I Now look 'ere, all o' you, I know that
girl, and I know that anyone as talks like that about her tells a
'Most like it's Mutimer himself as has set it goin',' observed
In five minutes all who remained in the room were convinced that
Mutimer had sent an agent to the meeting for the purpose of
assailing Emma Vine's good name. Mr. Keene had already taken his
departure, and no suspicious character was discernible; a pity for
the evening might have ended in a picturesque way.
But Daniel Dabbs went home to his brother's public-house, obtained
note-paper and an envelope, and forthwith indited a brief epistle
which he addressed to the house in Highbury. It had no formal
commencement, and ended with 'Yours, etc.' Daniel demanded an
assurance that his former friend had not instigated certain vile
accusations against Emma, and informed him that whatever answer was
received would be read aloud at next Sunday's meeting.
The one not wholly ignoble incident in that evening's transactions.
In the partial reconciliation between Mrs. Mutimer and her children
there was no tenderness on either side. The old conditions could not
be restored, and the habits of the family did not lend themselves to
the polite hypocrisy which lubricates the wheels of the refined
world. There was to be a parting, and probably it would be for life.
In Richard's household his mother could never have a part, and when
Alice married, doubtless the same social difficulty would present
itself. It was not the future to which Mrs. Mutimer had looked
forward, but, having said her say, she resigned herself and hardened
her heart. At least she would die in the familiar home.
Richard had supper with his sister on his return from Commonwealth
Hall, and their plans were discussed in further detail.
'I want you,' he said, 'to go to the Square with mother to-morrow,