Part 1 out of 6
Edited by Charles Aldarondo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For half an hour there had been perfect silence in the room. The cat
upon the hearthrug slept profoundly; the fire was sunk to a still
red glow; the cold light of the autumn afternoon thickened into
Lilian seemed to be reading. She sat on a footstool, her arm resting
on the seat of a basket-chair, which supported a large open volume.
But her hand was never raised to turn a page, and it was long since
her eyes had gathered the sense of the lines on which they were
fixed. This attitude had been a favourite one with her in childhood,
and nowadays, in her long hours of solitude, she often fell into the
old habit. It was a way of inviting reverie, which was a way of
passing the time.
She stirred at length; glanced at the windows, at the fire, and
A pleasant little sitting-room, furnished in the taste of our time;
with harmonies and contrasts of subdued colour, with pictures
intelligently chosen, with store of graceful knick-knacks. Lilian's
person was in keeping with such a background; her dark gold hair,
her pale, pensive, youthful features, her slight figure in its loose
raiment, could not have been more suitably displayed. In a room of
statelier proportions she would have looked too frail, too young for
significance; out of doors she was seldom seen to advantage; here
one recognized her as the presiding spirit in a home fragrant of
womanhood. The face, at this moment, was a sad one, but its lines
expressed no weak surrender to dolefulness; her lips were
courageous, and her eyes such as brighten readily with joy.
A small table bore a tea-fray with a kettle and spirit-lamp; the
service for two persons only. Lilian, after looking at her watch,
ignited the lamp and then went to the window as if in expectation of
some one's arrival.
The house stood in a row of small new dwellings on the outskirts of
Clapham Common; there was little traffic along the road at any time,
and in this hour of twilight even a passing footstep became a thing
to notice. Some one approached on her side of the way she listened,
but with disappointment; it was not the step for which she waited.
None the less it paused at this house, and she was startled to
perceive a telegraph messenger on the point of knocking. At once she
hastened to the front door.
"Mrs. Quarrier?" inquired the boy, holding out his missive.
Lilian drew back with it into the passage. But there was not light
enough to read by; she had to enter the sitting-room and hold the
sheet of paper close to the kettle-lamp.
"Very sorry that I cannot get home before ten. Unexpected business."
She read it carefully, then turned with a sigh and dismissed the
In a quarter of an hour she had made tea, and sat down to take a
cup. The cat, refreshed after slumber, jumped on to her lap and lay
there pawing playfully at the trimming of her sleeves. Lilian at
first rewarded this friendliness only with absent stroking, but when
she had drunk her tea and eaten a slice of bread and butter the
melancholy mood dispersed; pussy's sportiveness was then abundantly
indulged, and for awhile Lilian seemed no less merry than her
The game was interrupted by another knock at the house-door; this
time it was but the delivery of the evening paper. Lilian settled
herself in a chair by the fireside, and addressed herself with a
serious countenance to the study of the freshly-printed columns.
Beginning with the leading-article, she read page after page in the
most conscientious way, often pausing to reflect, and once even to
pencil a note on the margin. The paper finished, she found it
necessary for the clear understanding of a certain subject to
consult a book of reference, and for this purpose she went to a room
in the rear--a small study, comfortably but plainly furnished,
smelling of tobacco. It was very chilly, and she did not spend much
time over her researches.
A sound from the lower part of the house checked her returning
steps; some one was rapping at the door down in the area. It
happened that she was to-day without a servant; she must needs
descend into the kitchen herself and answer the summons. When the
nether regions were illumined and the door thrown open, Lilian
beheld a familiar figure, that of a scraggy and wretchedly clad
woman with a moaning infant in her arms.
"Oh, it's you, Mrs. Wilson!" she exclaimed. "Please to come in. How
have _you_ been getting on? And how is baby?"
The woman took a seat by the kitchen fire, and began to talk in a
whining, mendicant tone. From the conversation it appeared that this
was by no means the first time she had visited Lilian and sought to
arouse her compassion; the stories she poured forth consisted in a
great measure of excuses for not having profited more substantially
by the help already given her. The eye and the ear of experience
would readily enough have perceived in Mrs. Wilson a very coarse
type of impostor, and even Lilian, though showing a face of distress
at what she heard, seemed to hesitate in her replies and to
entertain troublesome doubts. But the objection she ventured to make
to a flagrant inconsistency m the tale called forth such loud
indignation, such a noisy mixture of insolence and grovelling
entreaty, that her moral courage gave way and Mrs. Wilson whined for
another quarter of an hour in complete security from
cross-examination. In the end Lilian brought out her purse and took
from it half-a-sovereign.
"Now, if I give you this, Mrs. Wilson, I do hope to have a better
Her admonitions were cut short, and with difficulty she managed to
obtain hearing for a word or two of what was meant for grave counsel
whilst taking leave of her visitor. Mrs. Wilson, a gleam in her red
eyes, vanished up the area steps, and left Lilian to meditate on the
The evening passed on, and her solitude was undisturbed. When
dinner-time came, she sat down to the wing of a cold chicken and a
thimbleful of claret much diluted; the repast was laid out with
perfection of neatness, and at its conclusion she cleared the table
like the handiest of parlour-maids. Whatever she did was done
gracefully; she loved order, and when alone was no less scrupulous
in satisfying her idea of the becoming than when her actions were
After dinner, she played a little on the piano. Here, as over her
book in the afternoon, the absent fit came upon her. Her fingers had
rested idly on the keyboard for some minutes, when they began to
touch solemn chords, and at length there sounded the first notes of
a homely strain, one of the most familiar of the Church's hymns. It
ceased abruptly; Lilian rose and went to another part of the room.
A few minutes later her ear caught the sound for which she was now
waiting--that of a latch-key at the front door. She stepped
quickly out into the passage, where the lamp-light fell upon a tall
and robust man with dark, comely, bearded visage.
"Poor little girl!" he addressed her, affectionately, as he pulled
off his overcoat. "I couldn't help it, Lily; bound to stay."
"Never mind!" was her laughing reply, as she stood on tip-toe and
drew down his face to hers. "I was disappointed, but it's as well
you didn't come to dinner. Sarah had to go away this morning."
"Oh! How's that? How have _you_ managed then?"
They passed into the front room, and Quarrier repeated his
"She had a letter from Birmingham," Lilian explained. "Her brother
has been all but killed in some dreadful accident, and he's in a
hospital. I saw she wished to go--so I gave her some money and
sent her off as soon as possible. Perhaps it was her only chance of
seeing him alive, Denzil."
"Yes, yes of course you did right," he answered, after a moment's
"I knew you wouldn't mind a dinner of my cooking--under the
"But what are we to do? You can't take her place in the kitchen till
she comes back."
"I'll get some one for a few days."
"But, confound it! how about to-morrow morning? It's very awkward"
"Oh, I shall easily manage."
"What?--go down at eight o'clock and light fires! Hang it, no! All
right; I'll turn out and see to breakfast. But you must get another
girl; a second servant, I mean. Yes, you ought really to have two.
Get a decent cook."
"Do you think it necessary?"
Quarrier was musing, a look of annoyance on his face.
"It couldn't have happened more inconveniently," he said, without
regard to Lilian's objection. "I had better tell you at once, Lily:
I've asked a friend of mine to come and dine with us to-morrow."
She started and looked at him with anxious eyes.
"Yes; Glazzard--the man who spoke to me at Kew Station the other
Lilian seated herself by the piano and stroked the keys with the
tips of her fingers. Standing on the hearth-rug, her companion
watched her closely for a moment; his forehead was wrinkled, and he
did not seem quite at ease.
"Glazzard is a very good fellow," he pursued, looking about the room
and thrusting his hands into his trouser-pockets. "I've known him
since I was a boy--a well-read man, thoughtful, clever. A good
musician; something more than an amateur with the violin, I believe.
An artist, too; he had a 'bust in the Academy a few years ago, and
I've seen some capital etchings of his."
"A universal genius!" said Lilian, with a forced laugh.
"Well, there's no doubt he has come very near success in a good many
directions. Never _quite_ succeeded; there's the misfortune. I
suppose he lacks perseverance. But he doesn't care; takes everything
with a laugh and a joke."
He reached for the evening newspaper, and glanced absently over the
columns. For a minute or two there was silence.
"What have you told him?" Lilian asked at length, in an undertone.
"Why, simply that I have had reasons for keeping my marriage
He spoke in a blunt, authoritative way, but with his usual kindly
"I thought it better," he added, "after that chance meeting the
other day. He's a fellow one can trust, I assure you. Thoroughly
good-hearted. As you know, I don't readily make friends, and I'm the
last man to give my confidence to any one who doesn't deserve it.
But Glazzard and I have always understood each other pretty well,
and--at all events, he knows me well enough to be satisfied with
as much as I choose to tell him."
Quarrier had the air of a man who, without any vulgar patronage, and
in a spirit of abundant good-nature, classifies his acquaintance in
various degrees of subordination to himself. He was too healthy, too
vigorous of frame and frank in manner to appear conceited, but it
was evident that his experience of life had encouraged a favourable
estimate of his own standing and resources. The ring of his voice
was sound; no affectation or insincerity marred its notes. For all
that, he seemed just now not entirely comfortable; his pretence of
looking over the paper in the intervals of talk was meant to cover a
certain awkwardness in discussing the subject he had broached.
"You don't object to his coming, Lily?"
"No; whatever you think best, dear."
"I'm quite sure you'll find him pleasant company. But we must get
him a dinner, somehow. I'll go to some hotel to-morrow morning and
put the thing in their hands; they'll send a cook, or do something
or other. If the girl had been here we should have managed well
enough; Glazzard is no snob.--I want to smoke; come into my study,
will you? No fire? Get up some wood, there's a good girl, we'll soon
set it going. I'd fetch it myself, but I shouldn't know where to
look for it."
A flame was soon roaring up the chimney in the little back room, and
Quarrier's pipe filled the air with fragrant mist.
"How is it," he exclaimed, settling in the arm-chair, "that there
are so many beggars in this region? Two or three times this last
week I've been assailed along the street. I'll put a stop to that; I
told a great hulking fellow to-night that if he spoke to me again
(it was the second time) I would take the trouble of marching him to
the nearest police station."
"Poor creatures!" sighed Lilian.
"Pooh! Loafing blackguards, with scarcely an exception! Well, I was
going to tell you: Glazzard comes from my own town, Polterham. We
were at the Grammar School there together; but he read AEschylus
and Tacitus whilst I was grubbing over Eutropius and the Greek
"Is he so much older then? He seemed to me"----
"Six years older--about five-and-thirty. He's going down to
Polterham on Saturday, and I think I shall go with him."
"Go with him? For long?"
"A week, I think. I want to see my brother-in-law. You won't mind
being left alone?"
"No; I shall do my best to keep in good spirits."
"I'll get you a batch of new books. I may as well tell you,
Liversedge has been persuaded to stand as Liberal candidate for
Polterham at the next election. It surprised me rather; I shouldn't
have thought he was the kind of fellow to go in for politics. It
always seemed to be as little in his line as it is in mine."
"And do you wish to advise him against it?"
"Oh no; there's no harm in it. I suppose Beaconsfield and crew have
roused him. I confess I should enjoy helping to kick them into
space. No, I just want to talk it over with him. And I owe them a
visit; they took it rather ill that I couldn't go with them to
Lilian sat with bent head. Casting a quick glance at her, Quarrier
talked on in a cheerful strain.
"I'm afraid he isn't likely to get in. The present member is an old
fogey called Welwyn-Baker; a fat-headed Tory; this is his third
Parliament. They think he's going to set up his son next time--a
fool, no doubt, but I have no knowledge of him. I'm afraid
Liversedge isn't the man to stir enthusiasm."
"But is there any one to be made enthusiastic on that side?" asked
"Well, it's a town that has changed a good deal of late years. It
used to be only an agricultural market, but about twenty years ago a
man started a blanket factory, and since then several other
industries have shot up. There's a huge sugar-refinery, and a place
where they make jams. That kind of thing, you know, affects the
spirit of a place. Manufacturers are generally go-ahead people, and
mill-hands don't support high Tory doctrine. It'll be interesting to
see how they muster. If Liversedge knows how to go to work"--he
broke into laughter. "Suppose, when the time comes, I go down and
harangue the mob in his favour?"
Lilian smiled and shook her head.
"I'm afraid you would be calling them 'the mob' to their faces."
"Well, why not? I dare say I should do more that way than by talking
fudge about the glorious and enlightened people. 'Look here, you
blockheads!' I should shout, 'can't you see on which side your
interests lie? Are you going to let England be thrown into war and
taxes just to please a theatrical Jew and the howling riff-raff of
London?' I tell you what, Lily, it seems to me I could make a
rattling good speech if I gave my mind to it. Don't you think so?"
"There's nothing you couldn't do," she answered, with soft fervour,
fixing her eyes upon him.
"And yet I do nothing--isn't that what you would like to add?"
"Oh, but your book is getting on!"
"Yes, yes; so it is. A capital book it'll be, too; a breezy book--
smelling of the sea-foam! But, after all, that's only pen-work. I
have a notion that I was meant for active life, after all. If I had
remained in the Navy, I should have been high up by now. I should
have been hoping for war, I dare say. What possibilities there are
in every man!"
He grew silent, and Lilian, her face shadowed once more, conversed
with her own thoughts.
In a room in the west of London--a room full of pictures and
brie-a-brac, of quaint and luxurious furniture, with volumes
abundant, with a piano in a shadowed corner, a violin and a
mandoline laid carelessly aside--two men sat facing each other,
their looks expressive of anything but mutual confidence. The one
(he wore an overcoat, and had muddy boots) was past middle age,
bald, round-shouldered, dressed like a country gentleman; upon his
knees lay a small hand-bag, which he seemed about to open, He leaned
forward with a face of stern reproach, and put a short, sharp
"Then why haven't I heard from you since my nephew's death?"
The other was not ready with a reply. Younger, and more fashionably
attired, he had assumed a lounging attitude which seemed natural to
him, though it served also to indicate a mood of resentful
superiority. His figure was slight, and not ungraceful; his features
--pale, thin, with heavy nose, high forehead--were intellectual
and noteworthy, but lacked charm.
"I have been abroad till quite recently," he said at length, his
fine accent contrasting with that of the questioner, which had a
provincial note. "Why did you expect me to communicate with you?"
"Don't disgrace yourself by speaking in that way, Mr. Glazzard!"
exclaimed the other, his voice uncertain with strong, angry feeling.
"You know quite well why I have come here, and why you ought to have
seen me long ago!"
Thereupon he opened the bag and took out a manuscript-book.
"I found this only the other day among Harry's odds and ends. It's a
diary that he kept. Will you explain to me the meaning of this
entry, dated in June of last year: 'Lent E. G. a hundred pounds'?"
Glazzard made no answer, but his self-command was not sufficient to
check a quivering of the lips.
"There can be no doubt who these initials refer to. Throughout, ever
since my nephew's intimacy with you began, you are mentioned here as
'E. G.' Please to explain another entry, dated August: 'Lent E. G.
two hundred pounds.' And then again, February of this year: 'Lent E.
G. a hundred and fifty pounds'--and yet again, three months later:
'Lent E. G. a hundred pounds'--what is the meaning of all this?"
"The meaning, Mr. Charnock," replied Glazzard, "is indisputable."
"You astound me!" cried the elder man, shutting up the diary and
straightening himself to an attitude of indignation. "Am I to
understand, then, that _this_ is the reason why Harry left no money?
You mean to say you have allowed his relatives to believe that he
had wasted a large sum, whilst they supposed that he was studying
soberly in London"----
"If you are astounded," returned the other, raising his eyebrows, "I
certainly am no less so. As your nephew made note of these lendings,
wasn't he equally careful to jot down a memorandum when the debt was
Mr. Charnock regarded him fixedly, and for a moment seemed in doubt.
"You paid back these sums?"
"With what kind of action did you credit me?" said Glazzard,
The other hesitated, but wore no less stern a look.
"I am obliged to declare, Mr. Glazzard, that I can't trust your
word. That's a very strong thing to have to say to a man such as I
have thought you--a man of whom Harry always spoke as if there
wasn't his like on earth. My acquaintance with you is very slight; I
know very little indeed about you, except what Harry told me. But
the man who could deliberately borrow hundreds of pounds from a lad
only just of age--a simple, trustful, good-natured country lad,
who had little but his own exertions to depend upon--_such_ a man
will tell a lie to screen himself! This money was _not_ paid back;
there isn't a word about it in the diary, and there's the fact that
Harry had got rid of his money in a way no one could explain. You
had it, and you have kept it, sir!"
Glazzard let his eyes stray about the room. He uncrossed his legs,
tapped on the arm of his easy-chair, and said at length:
"I have no liking for violence, and I shall try to keep my temper.
Please to tell me the date of the last entry in that journal."
Mr. Charnock opened the book again, and replied at once:
"June 5th of this year--1879."
"I see. Allow me a moment." He unlocked a drawer in a writing-table,
and referred to some paper. "On the 1st of June--we were together
the whole day--I paid your nephew five hundred and fifty pounds in
bank-notes. Please refer to the diary."
"You _were_ together on that day, but there is no note of such a
transaction. 'With E. G. Much talk about pictures, books, and music
--delightful!' That's all."
"Have you added up the sums mentioned previously?"
"Yes. They come to what you say. How did it happen, Mr. Glazzard,
that you had so large a sum in bank-notes? It isn't usual."
"It is not unheard of, Mr. Charnock, with men who sometimes play for
"What! Then you mean to tell me that Harry learnt from you to be a
"Certainly not. He never had the least suspicion that I played."
"And pray, what became of those notes after he received them?"
"I have no idea. For anything I know, you may still find the money."
Mr. Charnock rose from his seat.
"I see," he said, "that we needn't talk any longer. I don't believe
your story, and there's an end of it. The fact of your borrowing was
utterly disgraceful; it shows me that the poor boy had fallen in a
trap, instead of meeting with a friend who was likely to guide and
improve him. You confess yourself a gambler, and I go away with the
conviction that you are something yet worse."
Glazzard set his lips hard, but fell back into the lounging
"The matter doesn't end here," went on his accuser, "be sure of
that! I shall light upon evidence sooner or later. Do you know, sir,
that Harry had a sister, and that she earns her own living by giving
lessons? You have robbed her--think it over at your leisure. Why,
less than a fortnight after that day you and he spent together--
the 1st of June--the lad lay dying; yet you could deliberately
plan to rob him. Your denial is utterly vain; I would pledge my life
on the charge! I read guilt in your face when I entered--you were
afraid of me, Mr. Glazzard! I understand now why you never came to
see the lad on his death-bed, though he sent for you--and of
course I know why he was anxious to speak to you. Oh, you have
plenty of plausible excuses, but they are lies! You felt pretty
sure, I dare say, that the lad would not betray you; you knew his
fine sense of honour; you calculated upon it. All your conduct is of
"Mr. Charnock, please to leave me.--I oughtn't to have borrowed
that money; but having paid it back, I can't submit to any more of
your abuse. My patience has its limits."
"I am no brawler," replied the other, "and I can do no good by
talking to you. But if ever I come across any of your acquaintances,
they shall know, very plainly, what opinion I have of you. Prosecute
me for slander, Mr. Glazzard, if you dare--I desire nothing
And Mr. Charnock went hurriedly from the room.
For several minutes Glazzard kept the same attitude, his eyes fixed
on the floor, one hand behind his back, the other thrust into his
waistcoat. Then he uttered an inarticulate exclamation, and walked
with hurried, jerky step across the room; his facial muscles
quivered ceaselessly, distorting the features into all manner of
grotesque and ugly expressions. Again the harsh sound escaped him,
and again he changed his place as though impelled by a sudden pain.
It was a long time before he took a seat; on doing so, he threw up
his feet, and rested them against the side of the fireplace. His
hands were thrust into his trouser-pockets, and his head fell back,
so that he stared at the ceiling. At one moment he gave out a short
mocking laugh, but no look of mirth followed the explosion. Little
by little he grew motionless, and sat with closed eyes.
From the walls about him looked down many a sweet and noble
countenance, such as should have made the room a temple of serenity.
Nowhere was there a token of vulgar sensualism; the actress, the
ballet-nymph had no place among these chosen gems of art. On the
dwarf book-cases were none but works of pure inspiration, the best
of old and new, the kings of intellect and their gentlest courtiers.
Fifteen years had gone to the adorning of this sanctuary; of money,
no great sum, for Glazzard had never commanded more than his
younger-brother's portion of a yearly five hundred pounds, and all
his tastes were far from being represented in the retreat where he
spent his hours of highest enjoyment and endeavour. Of late he had
been beset by embarrassments which a man of his stamp could ill
endure: depreciation of investments, need of sordid calculation,
humiliating encounters. To-day he tasted the very dregs of ignoble
anguish, and it seemed to him that he should never again look with
delight upon a picture, or feast his soul with music, or care to
open a book.
A knock at the door aroused him. It was a civil-tongued
serving-woman who came to ask if he purposed having luncheon at home
to-day. No; he was on the point of going forth.
Big Ben was striking twelve. At a quarter-past, Glazzard took a cab
which conveyed him to one of the Inns of Court. He ascended stairs,
and reached a door on which was inscribed the name of Mr. Stark,
Solicitor. An office-boy at once admitted him to the innermost room,
where he was greeted with much friendliness by a short, stout man,
with gleaming visage, full lips, chubby hands.
"Well, what is it now?" inquired the visitor, who had been summoned
hither by a note that morning.
Mr. Stark, with an air of solemnity not wholly jocose, took his
friend's arm and led him to a corner of the room, where, resting
against a chair-back, was a small ill-framed oil painting.
"What have you to say to that?"
"The ugliest thing I've seen for a long time."
"But--but--" the solicitor stammered, with indignant eagerness--
"but do know whose it is?"
The picture represented a bit of country road, with a dung-heap, a
duck-pond, a pig asleep, and some barn-door fowls.
"I know whose you _think_ it is," replied Glazzard, coldly. His face
still had an unhealthy pallor, and his eyes looked as if they had
but just opened after the oppression of nightmare. "But it isn't."
"Come, come, Glazzard! you are too dictatorial, my boy."
Mr. Stark kept turning a heavy ring upon his finger, showing in face
and tone that the connoisseur s dogmatism troubled him more than he
wished to have it thought.
"Winterbottom warrants it," he added, with a triumphant jerk of his
"Then Winterbottom is either cheating or cheated. That is no
Morland; take my word for it. Was that all you wanted me for?"
Mr. Stark's good-nature was severely tried. Mental suffering had
made Glazzard worse than impolite; his familiar tone of authority on
questions of art had become too frankly contemptuous.
"You're out of sorts this morning," conjectured his legal friend.
"Let Morland be for the present. I had another reason for asking you
to call, but don't stay unless you like."
Glazzard looked round the office.
"Well?" he asked, more gently.
"Quarrier tells me you are going down to Polterham. Any special
"Yes. But I can't talk about it."
"I was down there myself last Sunday. I talked politics with the
local wiseacres, and--do you know, it has made me think of you
Mr. Stark consulted his watch.
"I'm at leisure for just nineteen minutes. If you care to sit down,
I have an idea I should like to put before you."
The visitor seated himself and crossed his legs. His countenance
gave small promise of attention.
"You know," resumed Mr. Stark, leaning forward and twiddling his
thumbs, "that they're hoping to get rid of Welwyn-Baker at the next
"What of that?"
"Toby Liversedge talks of coming forward--but _that_ won't do."
The solicitor bent still more and tapped his friend's knee.
"Glazzard, here is your moment. Here is your chance of getting what
you want. Liversedge is reluctant to stand; I know that for certain.
To a more promising man he'll yield with pleasure.--St! st! listen
to me!--you are that man. Go down; see Toby; see the wiseacres and
wire-pullers; get your name in vogue! It's cut out for you. Act now,
or never again pretend that you want a chance."
A smile of disdain settled upon Glazzard's lips, but his eyes had
lost their vacancy.
"On the Radical side?" he asked, mockingly. "For Manchester and
"For Parliament, my dear boy! For Westminster, St. Stephen's,
distinction, a career! I should perhaps have thought of your taking
Welwyn-Baker's place, but there are many reasons against it. You
would lose the support of your brother and all his friends. Above
all, Polterham will go Liberal--mark my prediction!"
"I doubt it."
"I haven't time to give you all my reasons. Dine with me this
evening, will you?"
"Can't. Engaged to Quarrier."
"All right!" said the latter. "To-morrow, then?"
"Yes, I will dine to-morrow."
Mr. Stark jumped up.
"Think of it. I can't talk longer now; there's the voice of a client
I'm expecting. Eight sharp tomorrow!"
Glazzard took his leave.
Like so many other gentlemen whose function in the world remains
indefinite, chiefly because of the patrimony they have inherited,
Denzil Quarrier had eaten his dinners, and been called to the Bar;
he went so far in specification as to style himself Equity
barrister. But the Courts had never heard his voice. Having begun
the studies, he carried them through just for consistency, but long
before bowing to the Benchers of his Inn he foresaw that nothing
practical would come of it. This was his second futile attempt to
class himself with a recognized order of society. Nay, strictly
speaking, the third. The close of his thirteenth year had seen him a
pupil at Polterham Grammar School; not an unpromising pupil by any
means, but with a turn for insubordination, much disposed to pursue
with zeal anything save the tasks that were set him. Inspired by
Cooper and Captain Marryat, he came to the conclusion that his
destiny was the Navy, and stuck so firmly to it that his father, who
happened to have a friend on the Board of Admiralty, procured him a
nomination, and speedily saw the boy a cadet on the "Britannia."
Denzil wore Her Majesty's uniform for some five years; then he tired
of the service and went back to Polterham to reconsider his bent and
His father no longer dwelt in the old home, but had recently gone
over to Norway, where he pursued his calling of timber-merchant.
Denzil's uncle--Samuel Quarrier--busied in establishing a
sugar-refinery in his native town, received the young man with
amiable welcome, and entertained him for half a year. The ex-seaman
then resolved to join his parents abroad, as a good way of looking
about him. He found his mother on her death-bed. In consequence of
her decease, Denzil became possessed of means amply sufficient for a
bachelor. As far as ever from really knowing what he desired to be
at, he began to make a show of interesting himself in timber.
Perhaps, after all, commerce was his _forte_. This, then, might be
called a second endeavour to establish himself.
Mr. Quarrier laughed at the idea, and would not take it seriously.
And of course was in the right, for Denzil, on pretence of studying
forestry, began to ramble about Scandinavia like a gentleman at
large. Here, however, he did ultimately hit on a pursuit into which
he could throw himself with decided energy. The old Norsemen laid
their spell upon him; he was bitten with a zeal for saga-hunting,
studied vigorously the Northern tongues, went off to Iceland,
returned to rummage in the libraries of Copenhagen, began to
translate the Heimskringla, planned a History of the Vikings.
Emphatically, this kind of thing suited him. No one was less likely
to turn out a bookworm, yet in the study of Norse literature he
found that combination of mental and muscular interests which was
perchance what he had been seeking.
But his father was dissatisfied; a very practical man, he saw in
this odd enthusiasm a mere waste of time. Denzil's secession from
the Navy had sorely disappointed him; constantly he uttered his wish
that the young man should attach himself to some vocation that
became a gentleman. Denzil, a little weary for the time of his
Sea-Kings, at length consented to go to London and enter himself as
a student of law. Perhaps his father was right. "Yes, I need
discipline--intellectual and moral. I am beginning to perceive my
defects. There's something in me not quite civilized. I'll go in for
Yet Scandinavia had not seen the last of him. He was backwards and
forwards pretty frequently across the North Sea. He kept up a
correspondence with learned Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, and men of
Iceland; when they came to England he entertained them with hearty
hospitality, and searched with them at the British Museum. These
gentlemen liked him, though they felt occasionally that he was wont
to lay down the law when the attitude of a disciple would rather
have become him.
He had rooms in Clement's Inn, retaining them even when his abode,
strictly speaking, was at the little house by Clapham Common. To
that house no one was invited. Old Mr. Quarrier knew not of its
existence; neither did Mr. Sam Quarrier of Polterham, nor any other
of Denzil's kinsfolk. The first person to whom Denzil revealed that
feature of his life was Eustace Glazzard--a discreet, upright
friend, the very man to entrust with such a secret.
It was now early in the autumn of 1879. Six months ago Denzil had
lost his father, who died suddenly on a journey from Christiania up
the country, leaving the barrister in London a substantial fortune
This change of circumstances had in no way outwardly affected
Denzil's life. As before, he spent a good deal of his time in the
rooms at Clement's Inn, and cultivated domesticity at Clapham. He
was again working in earnest at his History of the Vikings.
Something would at last come of it; a heap of manuscript attested
his solid progress.
To-day he had come to town only for an hour or two. Glazzard was to
call at half-past six, and they would go together to dine with
Lilian. In his report to her, Quarrier had spoken nothing less than
truth. "The lady with whom you chanced to see me the other day was
my wife. I have been married for a year and a half--a strictly
private matter. Be so good as to respect my confidence." That was
all Glazzard had learnt; sufficient to excite no little curiosity in
Denzil's chambers had a marked characteristic; they were full of
objects and pictures which declared his love of Northern lands and
seas. At work he sat in the midst of a little museum. To the bear,
the elk, the seal, he was indebted for comforts and ornaments; on
his shelves were quaint collections of crockery; coins of historical
value displayed themselves in cases on the walls; shoes and garments
of outlandish fashion lay here and there. Probably few private
libraries in England could boast such an array of Scandinavian
literature as was here exhibited. As a matter of course the rooms
had accumulated even more dirt than one expects in a bachelor's
retreat; they were redolent of the fume of many pipes.
When Glazzard tapped at the inner door and entered, his friend, who
sat at the writing-table in evening costume, threw up his arms,
stretched himself, and yawned noisily.
"Working at your book?" asked the other.
"No; letters. I don't care for the Sea-Kings just now. They're
rather remote old dogs, after all, you know."
"Distinctly, I should say."
"A queer thing, on the whole, that I can stick so to them. But I
like their spirit. You're not a pugnacious fellow, I think,
"No, I think not."
"But I am, you know. I mean it literally. Every now and then I feel
I should like to thrash some one. I read in the paper this morning
of some son of a"----(Denzil's language occasionally reminded one
that he had been a sailor) "who had cheated a lot of poor
servant-girls out of their savings. My fists itched to be at that
lubber! There's a good deal to be said for the fighting instinct in
man, you know."
"So thinks 'Arry of the music-halls."
"Well, we have heard before of an ass opening its mouth to prophesy.
I tell you what: on my way here this afternoon I passed the office
of some journal or other in the Strand, where they're exhibiting a
copy of their paper returned to them by a subscriber in Russia. Two
columns are completely obliterated with the censor's lamp-black,--
that's how it reaches the subscriber's hands. As I stood looking at
that, my blood rose to boiling-point! I could have hurrah'd for war
with Russia on that one account alone. That contemptible idiot of a
Czar, sitting there on his ant-hill throne, and bidding Time stand
He laughed long and loud in scornful wrath.
"The Czar can't help it," remarked Glazzard, smiling calmly, "and
perhaps knows nothing about it. The man is a slave of slaves."
"The more contemptible and criminal, then!" roared Denzil. "If a man
in his position can't rule, he should be kicked out of the back-door
of his palace. I have no objection to an autocrat; I think most
countries need one. I should make a good autocrat myself--a
"We live in stirring times," said the other, with a fine curl of the
lips. "Who knows what destiny has in store for you?"
Quarrier burst into good-natured merriment, and thereupon made ready
to set forth.
When they reached the house by Clapham Common, Denzil opened the
door with his latch-key, talked loud whilst he was removing his
overcoat, and then led the way into the sitting-room. Lilian was
there; she rose and laid down a book; her smile of welcome did not
conceal the extreme nervousness from which she was suffering.
Quarrier's genial contempt of ceremony, as he performed the
introduction, allowed it to be seen that he too experienced some
constraint. But the guest bore himself with perfect grace and
decorum. Though not a fluent talker, he fell at once into a strain
of agreeable chat on subjects which seemed likely to be of interest;
his success was soon manifest in the change of Lilian's countenance.
Denzil, attentive to both, grew more genuinely at ease. When Lilian
caught his eye, he smiled at her with warmth of approving kindness.
It must have been a fastidious man who felt dissatisfied with the
way in which the young hostess discharged her duties; timidity led
her into no _gaucherie_, but was rather an added charm among the
many with which nature had endowed her. Speech and manner, though
they had nothing of the conventional adornment that is gathered in
London drawing-rooms, were those of gentle breeding and bright
intelligence; her education seemed better than is looked for among
ladies in general. Glazzard perceived that she had read diligently,
and with scope beyond that of the circulating library; the book with
which she had been engaged when they entered was a Danish novel.
"Do you also look for salvation to the Scandinavians?" he asked.
"I read the languages--the modern. They have a very interesting
literature of to-day; the old battle-stories don't appeal to me
quite so much as they do to Denzil."
"You ought to know this fellow Jacobsen," said Quarrier, taking up
the novel. "'Marie Grubbe' doesn't sound a very aesthetic title,
but the book is quite in your line--a wonderfully delicate bit of
"Don't imagine, Mrs. Quarrier," pleaded Glazzard, "that I am what is
called an aesthete. The thing is an abomination to me."
"Oh, you go tolerably far in that direction!" cried Denzil,
laughing. "True, you don't let your hair grow, and in general make
an ass of yourself; but there's a good deal of preciosity about you,
Seeing that Mr. Glazzard's crown showed an incipient baldness, the
allusion to his hair was perhaps unfortunate. Lilian fancied that
her guest betrayed a slight annoyance; she at once interposed with a
remark that led away from such dangerous ground. It seemed to her
(she had already received the impression from Quarrier's talk of the
evening before) that Denzil behaved to his friend with an air of
bantering superiority which it was not easy to account for. Mr.
Glazzard, so far as she could yet judge, was by no means the kind of
man to be dealt with in this tone; she thought him rather disposed
to pride than to an excess of humility, and saw in his face an
occasional melancholy which inspired her with interest and respect.
A female servant (the vacancy made by Lilian's self-denying kindness
had been hastily supplied) appeared with summons to dinner. Mr.
Glazzard offered an arm to his hostess, and Quarrier followed with a
look of smiling pleasure.
Hospitality had been duly cared for. Not at all inclined to the
simple fare which Denzil chose to believe would suffice for him,
Glazzard found more satisfaction in the meal than he had
anticipated. If Mrs. Quarrier were responsible for the _menu_ (he
doubted it), she revealed yet another virtue. The mysterious
circumstances of this household puzzled him more and more;
occasionally he forgot to speak, or to listen, in the intensity of
his preoccupation; and at such moments his countenance darkened.
On the whole, however, he seemed in better spirits than of wont.
Quarrier was in the habit of seeing him perhaps once a month, and it
was long since he had heard the connoisseur discourse so freely, so
unconcernedly. As soon as they were seated at table, Denzil began to
talk of politics.
"If my brother-in-law really stands for Polterham," he exclaimed,
"we must set you canvassing among the mill-hands, Glazzard!"
"As much as to say," remarked the other to Lilian, "that he would
see them all consumed in furnaces before he stretched forth a hand
to save them."
"I know very well how to understand Denzil's exaggerations," said
Lilian, with a smile to her guest.
"He thinks," was Glazzard's reply, "that I am something worse than a
high Tory. It's quite a mistake, and I don't know how his belief
"My dear fellow, you are so naturally a Tory that you never troubled
to think to what party you belong. And I can understand you well
enough; I have leanings that way myself. Still, when I get down to
Polterham I shall call myself a Radical. What sensible man swears by
a party? There's more foolery and dishonesty than enough on both
sides, when you come to party quarrelling; but as for the broad
principles concerned, why, Radicalism of course means justice. I put
it in this way: If _I_ were a poor devil, half starved and
overworked, I should be a savage Radical; so I'll go in for helping
the poor devils."
"You don't. always act on that principle, Denzil," said Lilian, with
a rallying smile. "Not, for instance, when beggars are concerned."
"Beggars! Would you have me support trading impostors? As for the
genuine cases--why, if I found myself penniless in the streets, I
would make such a row that all the country should hear of it! Do you
think I would go whining to individuals? If I hadn't food, it would
be the duty of society to provide me with it--and I would take
good care that I _was_ provided; whether m workhouse or gaol
wouldn't matter much. At all events, the business should be managed
with the maximum of noise."
He emptied his wine-glass, and went on in the same vigorous tone.
"We know very well that there are no such things as natural rights.
Nature gives no rights; she will produce an infinite number of
creatures only to torture and eventually destroy them. But
civilization is at war with nature, and as civilized beings we
_have_ rights. Every man is justified in claiming food and shelter
and repose. As things are, many thousands of people in every English
county either lack these necessaries altogether, or get them only in
return for the accursed badge of pauperdom. I, for one, am against
this state of things, and I sympathize with the men who think that
nothing can go right until the fundamental injustice is done away
Glazzard listened with an inscrutable smile, content to throw in a
word of acquiescence from time to time. But when the necessity of
appeasing his robust appetite held Quarrier silent for a few
minutes, the guest turned to Lilian and asked her if she made a
study of political questions.
"I have been trying to follow them lately," she replied, with simple
"Do you feel it a grievance that you have no vote and no chance of
representing a borough?"
"No, I really don't."
"I defy any one to find a dozen women who sincerely do," broke in
Denzil. "That's all humbug! Such twaddle only serves to obscure the
great questions at issue. What we have to do is to clear away the
obvious lies and superstitions that hold a great part of the people
in a degrading bondage. Our need is of statesmen who are bold enough
and strong enough to cast off the restraints of party, of imbecile
fears, of words that answer to no reality, and legislate with honest
zeal for the general good. How many men are there in Parliament who
represent anything more respectable than the interest of a trade, or
a faction, or their own bloated person?"
"This would rouse the echoes in an East-end club," interposed
Glazzard, with an air of good-humoured jesting.
"The difference is, my dear fellow, that it is given as an honest
opinion in a private dining-room. There's Welwyn-Baker now--
thick-headed old jackass!--what right has _he_ to be sitting in a
national assembly? Call himself what he may, it's clearly our
business to get rid of _him_. There's something infuriating in the
thought that such a man can give his hee-haw for or against a
proposal that concerns the nation. His mere existence is a lie!"
"He has hardly progressed with the times," assented Glazzard.
Lilian was listening so attentively that she forgot her dinner.
"I didn't think you cared so much about politics," she remarked,
"Oh, it comes out now and then. I suppose Glazzard's aesthetic
neutrality stirs me up."
"I am neither aesthetic nor neutral," remarked the guest, as if
Lilian, after waiting for a further declaration from Glazzard, which
did not come, said, in her soft tones:
"You express yourself so vehemently, Denzil."
"Why not? These are obvious truths. Of course I could speak just as
strongly on the Conservative side with regard to many things. I
can't say that I have much faith in the capacity or honesty of the
mass of Radical voters. If I found myself at one of the clubs of
which Glazzard speaks, I should very likely get hooted down as an
insolent aristocrat. I don't go in for crazy extremes. There'll
never be a Utopia, and it's only a form of lying to set such ideals
before the multitude. I believe in the distinction of classes; the
only class I would altogether abolish is that of the hungry and the
ragged. So long as nature doles out the gift of brains in different
proportions, there must exist social subordination. The true Radical
is the man who wishes so to order things that no one will be urged
by misery to try and get out of the class he is born in."
Glazzard agreed that this was a good way of putting it, and
thereupon broached a subject so totally different that politics were
finally laid aside.
When Lilian rose and withdrew, the friends remained for several
minutes in silence. They lighted cigarettes, and contemplatively
watched the smoke. Of a sudden, Quarrier bent forward upon the
"You shall have the explanation of this some day," he said, in a low
friendly voice, his eyes lighting with a gleam of heartfelt
"Thanks!" murmured the other.
"Tell me--does she impress you favourably?"
"Very. I am disposed to think highly of her."
Denzil held out his hand, and pressed the one which Glazzard offered
"You cannot think too highly--cannot possibly She has a remarkable
character. For one thing, I never knew a girl with such strong
sympathies--so large-hearted and compassionate. You heard her
remark about the beggars; if she had her own way, she would support
a colony of pensioners. Let the sentimentalists say what they like,
that isn't a common weakness in women, you know. Her imagination is
painfully active; I'm afraid it causes her a great deal of misery.
The other day I found her in tears, and what do you think was the
reason?--she had been reading in some history about a poor fellow
who was persecuted for his religion in Charles the First's time--
some dissenter who got into the grip of Laud, was imprisoned, and
then brought to destitution by being forbidden to exercise each
calling that he took to in hope of earning bread. The end was, he
went mad and died. Lilian was crying over the story; it made her
wretched for a whole day."
"Rather morbid, that, I'm afraid."
"I don't know; most of us would be better for a little of such
morbidness. You mustn't suppose that fiction would have the same
effect on her--not at all. That poor devil (his name, I remember,
was Workman) was really and truly hounded to insanity and the grave,
and she saw the thing in all its dreadful details. I would rather
she had got into a rage about it, as I should--but that isn't her
"Let us hope she could rejoice when Laud was laid by the heels."
"I fear not. I'm afraid she would forget, and make excuses for the
Glazzard smiled at the ceiling, and smoked silently. Turning his
eyes at length, and seeing Quarrier in a brown study, he
contemplated the honest face, then asked:
"How old is she?"
"I should have thought younger."
Nothing more was said of Lilian, and very soon they went to the room
where she awaited them.
"I know you are a musician, Mr. Glazzard," said Lilian before long.
"Will you let me have the pleasure of hearing you play something?"
"Some enemy hath done this," the guest made reply, looking towards
But without further protest he went to the piano and played two or
three short pieces. Any one with more technical knowledge than the
hearers would have perceived that he was doing his best. As it was,
Lilian frequently turned to Denzil with a look of intense delight.
"Glazzard," exclaimed his friend at length, "it puzzles me how such
a lazy fellow as you are has managed to do so much in so many
The musician laughed carelessly, and, not deigning any other reply,
went to talk with his hostess.
The Polterham Literary Institute was a "hot-bed of Radicalism." For
the last year or two this had been generally understood. Originating
in the editorial columns of the _Polterham Mercury_, the remark was
now a commonplace on the lips of good Conservatives, and the
liberals themselves were not unwilling to smile an admission of its
truth. At the founding of the Institute no such thing was foreseen;
but in 1859 Polterham was hardly conscious of the stirrings of that
new life which, in the course of twenty years, was to transform the
town. In those days a traveller descending the slope of the Banwell
Hills sought out the slim spire of Polterham parish church amid a
tract of woodland, mead and tillage; now the site of the thriving
little borough was but too distinctly marked by trails of smoke from
several gaunt chimneys--that of Messrs. Dimes & Nevison's
blanket-factory, that of Quarrier & Son's sugar-refinery, and,
higher still (said, indeed, to be one of the tallest chimneys in
England), that of Thomas & Liversedge's soap-works. With the
character of Polterham itself, the Literary Institute had suffered a
noteworthy change. Ostensibly it remained non-political: a library,
reading-room and lecture-hall, for the benefit of all the townsfolk;
but by a subtle process the executive authority had passed into the
hands of new men with new ideas. A mere enumeration of the committee
sufficed to frighten away all who held by Church, State, and Mr.
Welwyn-Baker: the Institute was no longer an Institute, but a
How could respectable people make use of a library which admitted
works of irreligious and immoral tendency? It was an undoubted fact
(the _Mercury_ made it known) that of late there had been added to
the catalogue not only the "Essays of David flume" and that
notorious book Buckle's "History of Civilization," but even a large
collection of the writings of George Sand and Balzac--these latter
in the original tongue; for who, indeed, would ever venture to
publish an English translation? As for the reading-room, was it not
characterization enough to state that two Sunday newspapers, reeking
fresh from Fleet Street, regularly appeared on the tables? What
possibility of perusing the _Standard_ or the _Spectator_ in such an
atmosphere? It was clear that the supporters of law and decency must
bestir themselves to establish a new Society. Mr. Mumbray, long
prominent in the municipal and political life of the town, had
already made the generous offer of a large house at a low rental--
one of the ancient buildings which had been spoilt for family
residence by the erection of a mill close by. The revered Member for
the borough was willing to start the new library with a gift of one
hundred volumes of "sterling literature." With dissolution of
Parliament m view, not a day should be lost in establishing this
centre of intellectual life for right-thinking inhabitants. It was a
strange thing, a very strange thing indeed, that interlopers should
have been permitted to oust the wealth and reputability of Polterham
from an Institute which ought to have been one of the bulwarks of
Conservatism. Laxity in the original constitution, and a spirit of
supine confidence, had led to this sad result. It seemed impossible
that Polterham could ever fall from its honourable position among
the Conservative strongholds of the country; but the times were
corrupt, a revolutionary miasma was spreading to every corner of the
land. Polterham must no longer repose in the security of conscious
virtue, for if it _did_ happen that, at the coming election, the
unprincipled multitude even came near to achieving a triumph, oh
what a fall were there!
Thus spoke the _Mercury_. And in the same week Mr. Mumbray's vacant
house was secured by a provisional committee on behalf of the
Polterham Constitutional Literary Society.
The fine old crusted party had some reason for their alarm. Since
Polterham was a borough it had returned a Tory Member as a matter of
course. Political organization was quite unknown to the supporters
of Mr. Welwyn-Baker; such trouble had never seemed necessary.
Through the anxious year of 1868 Mr. Welwyn-Baker sat firm as a
rock; an endeavour to unseat him ended amid contemptuous laughter.
In 1874 the high-tide of Toryism caused only a slight increase of
congratulatory gurgling in the Polterham backwater; the triumphant
party hardly cared to notice that a Liberal candidate had scored an
unprecedented proportion of votes. Welwyn-Baker sat on, stolidly
oblivious of the change that was affecting his constituency, denying
indeed the possibility of mutation in human things. Yet even now the
Literary Institute was passing into the hands of people who aimed at
making it something more than a place where retired tradesmen could
play draughts and doze over _Good Words_; already had offensive
volumes found harbourage on the shelves, and revolutionary
periodicals been introduced into the reading-room. From time to time
the _Mercury_ uttered a note of warning, of protest, but with no
echo from the respectable middle-class abodes where Polterham
Conservatism dozed in self-satisfaction. It needed another five
years of Liberal activity throughout the borough to awaken the good
people whose influence had seemed unassailable, and to set them
uttering sleepy snorts of indignation But the _Mercury_ had a new
editor, a man who was determined to gain journalistic credit by
making a good fight in a desperate cause. Mr. Mumbray, who held the
post of Mayor, had at length learnt that even in municipal matters
the old order was threatened; on the Town Council were several men
who gave a great deal of trouble, and who openly boasted that in a
very short time all the affairs of the town would be managed by
members of the Progressive party. If so, farewell public morality!
The reading-room of the Literary Institute heard many an animated
conversation among the zealous partisans who hoped great things from
the approaching contest. The talkers were not men of recognized
standing, the manufacturers and landowners whose influence was of
most importance--for these personages were seldom seen at the
Institute; but certain "small" people, fidgety, or effervescent, or
enthusiastic, eager to hear their own voices raised in declamation,
and to get spoken of in the town as representatives of public
opinion. Such a group had gathered early one afternoon in this month
of October. The hour was unusual, for between one o'clock and four
the reading-room was generally abandoned to a few very quiet,
somnolent persons; but to-day an exciting piece of news had got
about in Polterham, and two or three ardent politicians hastened
from their dinner-tables to discuss the situation with Mr. Wykes,
secretary of the Institute, or any one else who might present
himself. It was reported that Mr. Welwyn-Baker had had a seizure of
some kind, and that he lay in a dangerous state at his house just
outside the town.
"It's perfectly true," affirmed Mr. Wykes. "I saw Dr. Staple on his
way there. He'll never survive it. We shall have a bye-election--
the very last thing desirable."
The Secretary was a man of intelligence features but painfully
distorted body; his right leg, permanently bent double, was
supported at the knee by metal mechanism, and his arm on the
opposite side ended at the elbow. None the less he moved with much
activity, gesticulated frequently with the normal arm, and seemed
always to be in excellent spirits. He was a Cambridge graduate, but
had never been able to make much use of his education and abilities;
having reached middle age, and finding himself without resources, he
was glad to accept this post at the Institute.
About him stood three Polterham worthies: Mr. Chown, draper, a
member of the Corporation; Mr. Vawdrey, coal-merchant; and Mr.
Murgatroyd, dentist. The draper--tall, bearded, with goggle eyes
and prominent cheek-bones--had just rushed in; as soon as Mr.
Wykes had spoken, he exclaimed in a hard, positive voice:
"It's nothing! it's nothing! I have it on the best assurance that it
was only a fall over a footstool. Muscles strained--a bruise or
"I'm very glad to hear it, on every ground," said Wykes. "But even
if that is quite correct, it'll be a warning. A fall at that age
generally dates the beginning of decrepitude. He won't come forward
again--I'm convinced he won't."
"Let us hope they'll be foolish enough to set up his son," remarked
Mr. Vawdrey, in deep tones, which harmonized with his broad, stunted
body and lowering visage. "It'll be their ruin."
Mr. Wykes agreed.
"The waverers can hardly douht--between Tobias Liversedge and Hugh
"Bear in mind," rang Mr. Chown's brassy voice, "that it's by no
means certain Liversedge is to be our candidate. I am in a position
to assure you that many of our most reliable men are not at all
satisfied with that choice--not at all satisfied. I don't mind
going so far as to declare that I share this dissatisfaction."
"Really," put in Mr. Murgatroyd, the dentist, "it's rather late in
the day, Mr. Chown"----
His accents of studious moderation were interrupted by a shout from
the dogmatic draper.
"Late? late? I consider that nothing whatever has been decided. I
protest--I protest, most emphatically, against any attempt to
force a candidate on the advanced section of the Liberal party! I
will even go so far as to say--purely on my own responsibility--
that the advanced section of the Liberal party is the _essence_ of
the Liberal party, and must be recognized as such, if we are to
fight this campaign in union. I personally--I speak for myself--
do _not_ feel prepared to vote for Tobias Liversedge. I say it
boldly, caring not who may report my words. I compromise no man, and
no body of men; but my view is that, if we are to win the next
election against the Tory candidate, it must be with the help, and
in the name, of a _Radical_ candidate!"
At the close of each period Mr. Chown raised his hand and made it
vibrate in the air, his head vibrating in company therewith. His
eyes glared, and his beard wagged up and down.
"Speaking as an individual," replied Mr. Murgatroyd, who, among
other signs of nervousness, had the habit of constantly pulling down
his waistcoat, "I can't say that I should regret to be called upon
to vote for a really advanced man. But I may say--I really must
say--and I think Mr. Wykes will support me--I think Mr. Vawdrey
will bear me out--that it wouldn't be easy to find a candidate who
would unite all suffrages in the way that Mr. Liversedge does. We
have to remember"----
"Well," broke in the coal-merchant, with his muffled bass, "if any
one cares to know what I think, I should say that we want a local
man, a popular man, and a Christian man. I don't know whom you would
set up in preference to Liversedge; but Liversedge suits me well
enough. If the Tories are going to put forward such a specimen as
Hugh Welwyn-Baker, a gambler, a drinker, and a profligate, I don't
know, I say, who would look better opposed to him than Toby
Mr. Chown could not restrain himself.
"I fail altogether to see what Christianity has to do with politics!
Christianity is all very well, but where will you find it? Old
Welwyn-Baker calls himself a Christian, and so does his son. And I
suppose the Rev. Scatchard Vialls calls himself a Christian! Let us
have done with this disgusting hypocrisy! I say with all
deliberation--I affirm it--that Radicalism must break with
religion that has become a sham! Radicalism is a religion in itself.
We have no right--no right, I say--to impose any such test as
Mr. Vawdrey insists upon!"
"I won't quarrel about names," returned Vawdrey, stolidly, "What I
meant to say was that we must have a man of clean life, a moral
"And do you imply," cried Chown, "that such men are hard to find
"I rather think they're hard to find anywhere nowadays."
Mr. Wykes had made a gesture requesting attention, and was about to
speak, when a boy came up to him and held out a telegram.
"What's this?" murmured the Secretary, as he opened the envelope.
"Well, well, how very annoying! Our lecturer of to-morrow evening
can't possibly keep his engagement. No reason given; says he will
"Another blank evening!" exclaimed Chown. "This is most
unsatisfactory, I must say."
"We must fill it up," replied the Secretary. "I have an idea; it
connects with something I was on the point of saying." He looked
round the room cautiously, but saw only a young lad bent over an
illustrated paper. "There is some one," he continued, subduing his
voice, "who might possibly be willing to stand if Mr. Liversedge
isn't finally adopted as our candidate--some one who, in my
opinion, would suit us very well indeed. I am thinking of young Mr.
Quarrier, Liversedge's brother-in-law, Mr. Sam Quarrier's nephew."
"I can't say I know much for or against him," said the draper.
"A barrister, I believe?" questioned Murgatroyd.
"Yes, but not practising his profession. I happened to meet him in
the train yesterday; he was coming to spend a few days with his
relatives. It occurs to me that he's the man to give us a lecture
The others lent ear, and Mr. Wykes talked at some length of Mr.
Denzil Quarrier, with whom he had a slight personal acquaintance
dating from a year or two ago. He represented that the young man was
of late become wealthy, that he was closely connected with people in
high local esteem, that his views were those of a highly cultured
Radical. Mr. Chown, distrustful regarding any proposition that did
not originate with himself, meditated with some intensity. Mr.
Vawdrey's face indicated nothing whatever. It was the dentist who
put the first question.
"I should like to know," he said, in his usual voice of studied
inoffensiveness, "whether Mr. Quarrier is disposed to support the
Female Suffrage movement?"
"If he is," growled Mr. Vawdrey, with sudden emphasis, "he mustn't
expect _my_ vote and interest. We've seen enough in Polterham lately
of the Female question."
"Let it wait! Let it wait!" came from the draper. "The man," he
glared at little Murgatroyd, "who divides his party on matters of
detail, beyond the range of practical politics, is an enemy of
popular progress. What _I_ should desire to know is, whether Mr.
Quarrier will go in heartily for Church Disestablishment? If not--
well, I for my humble self must Decline to consider him a Radical at
"That, it seems to me," began the dentist, "is distinctly beyond"
But politic Mr. Wykes interrupted the discussion.
"I shall go at once," he said, "and try to see Mr. Quarrier. A
lecture to-morrow we must have, and I think he can be persuaded to
help us. If so, we shall have an opportunity of seeing what figure
he makes on the platform."
Mr. Vawdrey looked at his watch and hurried away without a word. The
draper and the dentist were each reminded of the calls of business.
In a minute or two the youth dozing over an illustrated paper had
the room to himself.
For a characteristic scene of English life one could not do better
than take Mr. Liversedge's dining-room when the family had assembled
for the midday meal. Picture a long and lofty room, lighted by
windows which opened upon a lawn and flower-garden, adorned with
large oil paintings (cattle-pieces and portraits) in massive and,
for the most part, tarnished frames, and furnished in the solidest
of British styles--mahogany chairs and table, an immense
sideboard, a white marble fireplace, and a chandelier hanging with
ponderous menace above the gleaming expanse of table-cloth. Here
were seated eleven persons: Mr. Liversedge and his wife, their seven
children (four girls and three boys), Miss Pope the governess, and
Mr. Denzil Quarrier; waited upon by two maid-servants, with ruddy
cheeks, and in spotless attire. Odours of roast meat filled the air.
There was a jolly sound of knife-and-fork play, of young voices
laughing and chattering, of older ones in genial colloquy. A great
fire blazed and crackled up the chimney. Without, a roaring wind
stripped the autumnal leafage of the garden, and from time to time
drenched the windows with volleys of rain.
Tobias Liversedge was a man of substance, but in domestic habits he
followed the rule of the unpretentious middle-class. Breakfast at
eight, dinner at one, tea at five, supper at nine--such was the
order of the day that he had known in boyhood, and it suited him
well enough now that he was at the head of a household. The fare was
simple, but various and abundant; no dishes with foreign names, no
drinks more luxurious than sherry and claret. If he entertained
guests, they were people of his own kind, who thought more of the
hearty welcome than of what was set before them. His children were
neither cockered nor held in too strait a discipline; they learnt
from their parents that laughter was better than sighing, that it
was good to be generous, that they had superiors in the world as
well as inferiors, that hard work was the saving grace, and a lie
the accursed thing. This training seemed to agree with them, for one
and all were pictures of health. Tom, the first-born, numbered
fifteen years; Daisy, the latest arrival, had seen but three
summers, yet she already occupied a high chair at the dinner-table,
and conducted herself with much propriety. The two elder boys went
to the Grammar School morning and afternoon; for the other children
there was Miss Pope, with her smile of decorum, eyes of
intelligence, and clear, decided voice.
Mrs. Liversedge was obviously Denzil Quarrier's sister; she had his
eyes and his nose--not uncomely features. It did not appear that
her seven children were robust at their mother's expense; she ate
with undisguised appetite, laughed readily (just showing excellent
teeth), and kept a shapely figure, clad with simple becomingness.
Her age was about eight-and-thirty, that of her husband forty-five.
This couple--if any in England--probably knew the meaning of
happiness. Neither had experienced narrow circumstances, and the
future could but confirm their security from sordid cares. Even if
seven more children were added to their family, all would be brought
up amid abundance, and sent forth into the world as well equipped
for its struggles as the tenderest heart could desire. Father and
mother were admirably matched; they knew each other perfectly,
thought the same thoughts on all essential matters, exchanged the
glances of an absolute and unshakeable confidence.
Seeing him thus at the end of his table, one would not have thought
Mr. Liversedge a likely man to stand forth on political platforms
and appeal to the populace of the borough for their electoral
favour. He looked modest and reticent; his person was the reverse of
commanding. A kind and thoughtful man, undoubtedly; but in his eye
was no gleam of ambition, and it seemed doubtful whether he would
care to trouble himself much about questions of public policy.
Granted his position and origin, it was natural enough that he
should take a stand on the Liberal side, but it could hardly be
expected that he should come up to Mr. Chown's ideal of a
He was talking lightly on the subject with his brother-in-law.
"I should have thought," he said, "that William Glazzard might have
had views that way. He's a man with no ties and, I should say, too
"Oh," exclaimed Mrs. Liversedge, "the idea of his getting up to make
speeches! It always seems to me as if he found it a trouble even to
talk. His brother would be far more likely, wouldn't he, Denzil?"
"What, Eustace Glazzard?" replied Quarrier. "He regards Parliament
and everything connected with it with supreme contempt. Suggest the
thing when he comes this evening, and watch his face."
"What is he doing?" Mr. Liversedge asked.
"Collecting pictures, playing the fiddle, gazing at sunflowers, and
so on. He'll never do anything else."
"How contradictory you are in speaking about him!" said his sister.
"One time you seem to admire and like him extremely, and another"
"Why, so I do. A capital fellow! He's weak, that's all. I don't mean
weak in the worst way, you know; a more honourable and trustworthy
man doesn't live. But--well, he's rather womanish, I suppose."
Mrs. Liversedge laughed.
"Many thanks! It's always so pleasing to a woman to hear that
comparison. Do you mean he reminds you of Mrs. Wade?"
The boy Tom, who had been attentive, broke into merriment.
"Uncle Denzil wouldn't dare to have said it in _her_ presence!" he
"Perhaps not," conceded Denzil, with a smile. "By-the-bye, is that
wonderful person still in Polterham?"
"Oh yes!" Mrs. Liversedge replied. "She has been very prominent
The lady glanced at her husband, who said quietly, "We'll talk over
it some other time."
But Tom was not to be repressed.
"Mother means that Revivalist business," he exclaimed. "Mrs. Wade
went against it."
"My boy, no meddling with things of that kind," said his father,
smiling, but firm. He turned to Denzil. "Has Glazzard exhibited
"No; he gave up his modelling, and he doesn't seem to paint much
nowadays. The poor fellow has no object in life, that's the worst of
The meal was nearly at an end, and presently the two men found
themselves alone at the table. Mr. Liversedge generally smoked a
cigar before returning for an hour or two to the soap-works.
"Any more wine?" he asked. "Then come into my snuggery and let us
They repaired to a room of very homely appearance. The furniture was
old and ugly; the carpet seemed to have been beaten so often that it
was growing threadbare by force of purification. There was a fair
collection of books, none of very recent date, and on the walls
several maps and prints. The most striking object was a great
stuffed bird that stood in a glass-case before the window--a
capercailzie shot by Quarrier long ago in Norway, and presented to
his brother-in-law. Tobias settled himself in a chair, and kicked a
coal from the bars of the grate.
"Tom is very strong against religious fanaticism," he said,
laughing. "I have to pull him up now and then. I suppose you heard
about the crazy goings-on down here in the summer?"
"Not I. Revivalist meetings?"
"The whole town was turned upside down. Such frenzy among the women
I never witnessed. Three times a day they flocked in swarms to the
Public Hall, and there screeched and wept and fainted, till it
really looked as if some authority ought to interfere. If I had had
my way, I would have drummed the preachers out of the town. Mary and
Mrs. Wade and one or two others were about the only women who
escaped the epidemic. Seriously, it led to a good deal of domestic
misery. Poor Tomkins's wife drove him to such a pass by her
scandalous neglect of the house, that one morning he locked her into
her bedroom, and there he kept her on very plain diet for three
days. We thought of getting up a meeting to render public thanks to
Tomkins, and to give him some little testimonial."
Denzil uttered roars of laughter; the story was exactly of the kind
that made appeal to his humorous instincts.
"Has the ferment subsided?" he asked.
"Tolerably well; leaving a good deal of froth and scum, however. The
worst of it was that, in the very week when those makebates had
departed, there came down on us a second plague, in the shape of
Mrs. Hitchin, the apostle of--I don't quite know what, but she
calls it Purity. Of course, you know her by repute. She, too, had
the Public Hall, and gave addresses to which only women were
admitted. I have a very strong opinion as to the tendency of those
addresses, and if Rabelais had come to life among us just then--
but never mind. The fact is, old Polterham got into a thoroughly
unwholesome condition, and we're anything but right yet. Perhaps a
little honest fighting between Liberal and Tory may help to clear
the air.--Well, now, that brings me to what I really wish to talk
about. To tell you the truth, I don't feel half satisfied with what
I have done. My promise to stand, you know, was only conditional,
and I think I must get out of it."
"Mary was rather tickled with the idea at first; naturally she had
no objection to be Mrs. M.P., and she persuaded herself that I was
just the man to represent Polterham. I felt rather less sure of it,
and now I am getting pretty well convinced that I had better draw
back before I make a fool of myself."
"What about your chances? Is there any hope of a majority?"
"That's more than I can tell you. The long-headed men, like your
Uncle Sam (an unwilling witness) and Edward Coke, say that the day
has come for the Liberals. I don't know, but I suspect that a really
brisk and popular man might carry it against either of the
Welwyn-Bakers. That fellow Hugh will never do--by the way, that
might be the beginning of an election rhyme! He's too much of a
blackguard, and nowadays, you know, even a Tory candidate must
preserve the decencies of life."
Denzil mused, and muttered something. indistinct.
"Now listen," pursued the speaker, shifting about in his chair.
"What I want to say is this: why shouldn't _you_ come forward?"
Quarrier pursed his lips, knit his brows, and grunted.
"I am very serious in thinking that you might be the best man we
And Mr. Liversedge went on to exhibit his reasons at some length. As
he listened, Denzil became restless, crossing and recrossing his
legs, spreading his shoulders, smiling, frowning, coughing; and at
length he jumped up.
"Look here, Toby!" he exclaimed, "is this a self-denying ordinance?
have you and Molly put your heads together to do me what you think a
"I haven't spoken to her, I assure you. I am sincere in saying that
I don't wish to go through with it. And I should be right heartily
glad to see you come out instead."
The face of the younger man worked with subdued excitement. There
was a flush in his cheeks, and he breathed rapidly. The emotion that
possessed him could not be altogether pleasurable, for at moments he
cast his eyes about him with a pained, almost a desperate look. He
walked up and down with clenched fist, occasionally digging himself
in the side.
"Toby," he burst out at length, "let me think this over I can't
possibly decide at once. The notion is absolutely new to me; I must
roll it about, and examine it on all sides."
Mr. Liversedge cheerfully agreed, and, after a little more talk, he
went his way to business, leaving Denzil alone in the snuggery.
There sat the young man in deep but troubled meditation. He sat for
nearly an hour. Then his sister came in.
"Denzil, you are wanted. Mr. Wykes wishes to see you. Shall I send
"Mr. Wykes! What about, I wonder? Yes, let him come."
A clumping was heard without, and the bright face of the Institute's
Secretary, so strongly in contrast with his wretched body, presented
itself in the doorway. Quarrier received him with a friendly
consideration due rather to pity than to any particular interest in
the man himself. He placed him in a comfortable chair, and waited in
attentive attitude for an explanation of the call. Mr. Wykes lost no
time in making known his business; he told what had happened at the
Institute, and respectfully begged for Mr. Quarrier's aid in
averting disappointment on the next evening.
"I am sure, sir, that your appearance on our platform would give
very general pleasure. I should have time to post announcements here
and there. We should have a splendid hall."
"The deuce! But, Mr. Wykes, it is no such simple matter to prepare a
lecture in four-and-twenty hours. What am I to talk about?"
"Any subject, sir, that would be of interest to a wide-awake
audience. If I might suggest, there are your travels, for instance.
And I understand that you are deeply conversant with the Northern
literatures; I am sure something"----
"Pardon me. I hardly think I should care to go so far away for a
The Secretary heard this with pleasure.
"All the better, Sir! Any subject of the day; nothing could be more
acceptable. You probably know our position at the Institute. In
practice, we are something like a Liberal Club. You have heard that
the other party are going to start a Society of their own?"
"I have--a Society with an imbecile Dame." He pondered. "Suppose I
were to talk about 'The Position of Woman in our Time'?"
"Capital, Mr. Quarrier! Couldn't be better, sir! Do permit me to
announce it at once!"
"It's rather a ticklish responsibility I'm undertaking--but--
very well, I will do my best, Mr. Wykes. Who is chairman?"
"Mr. William Glazzard, sir."
"Ho ho! All right; I'll turn up to time. Eight o'clock, I suppose?
Evening dress, or not? Oh, of course, if it's usual; I didn't know
Mr. Wykes did not linger. Left alone again, Denzil walked about in
excited mood. At length, with a wave of the arm which seemed to
announce a resolution, he went to the drawing-room. His sister was
reading there in solitude.
"Molly, I'm going to lecture at the Institute tomorrow, _vice_ somebody
or other who can't turn up. What subject, think you?"
"The Sagas, probably?"
"The Sagas be blowed! 'Woman's Place in our Time,' that's the
Mrs. Liversedge laughed, and showed astonishment.
"And what have you to say about her?"
"Wait and see!"
At the distance of a mile and a half from Polterham lay an estate
which had long borne the name of Highmead. Here had dwelt three
successive generations of Glazzards. The present possessor, by name
William, was, like his father and grandfather, simply a country
gentleman, but, unlike those respectable ancestors, had seen a good
deal of the world, and only settled down amid his acres when he was
tired of wandering. His age at present was nearing fifty. When quite
a young man, he had married rather rashly--a girl whose
acquaintance he had made during a voyage. In a few years' time, he
and his wife agreed to differ on a great many topics of moment, and
consequently to live apart. Mrs. Glazzard died abroad. William, when
the desire for retirement came upon him, was glad of the society of
a son and a daughter in their early teens. But the lad died of
consumption, and the girl, whose name was Ivy, for a long time
seemed to be clinging to life with but doubtful tenure. She still
lived, however, and kept her father's house.
Ivy Glazzard cared little for the pleasures of the world--knew,
indeed, scarcely more about them than she had gathered from books.
Her disposition was serious, inclined to a morbid melancholy; she
spent much time over devotional literature, but very seldom was
heard to speak of religion. Probably her father's avowed
indifferentism imposed upon her a timid silence. When the Revivalist
services were being held in Polterham, she visited the Hall and the
churches with assiduity, and from that period dated her friendship
with the daughter of Mr. Mumbray, Mayor of the town. Serena Mumbray
was so uncomfortable at home that she engaged eagerly in any
occupation which could excuse her absence for as many hours a day as
possible. Prior to the outbreak of Revivalism no one had supposed
her particularly pious, and, indeed, she had often suffered Mrs.
Mumbray's rebukes for levity of speech and indifference to the
conventional norm of feminine behaviour. Though her parents had
always been prominent in Polterham society, she was ill-educated,
and of late years had endeavoured, in a fitful, fretful way, to make
amends to herself for this injustice. Disregarding paternal censure,
she subscribed to the Literary Institute, and read at hap-hazard
with little enough profit. Twenty-three years old, she was now
doubly independent, for the will of a maiden aunt (a lady always on
the worst of terms with Mr. and Mrs. Mumbray, and therefore glad to
encourage Serena against them) had made her an heiress of no slight
consideration. Young men of Polterham regarded her as the greatest
prize within view, though none could flatter himself that he stood
in any sensible degree of favour with her. There seemed no reason
why Miss Mumbray should not marry, but it was certain that as yet
she behaved disdainfully to all who approached her with the show of
intention. She was not handsome, but had agreeable features. As
though to prove her contempt of female vanity and vulgar display,
she dressed plainly, often carelessly--a fact which of course
served to emphasize her importance in the eyes of people who tried
to seem richer than they were.
Miss Glazzard rarely came into the town, but Serena visited Highmead
at least once a week. According to the state of the weather, the
friends either sat talking in Ivy's room or rambled about the
grounds, where many a pretty and sheltered spot was discoverable. At
such times the master of the house seldom showed himself, and, on
the whole, Highmead reminded one of a mansion left in the care of
servants whilst the family are abroad. Miss Mumbray was surprised
when, on her arrival one afternoon, she was conducted into the
presence of three persons, who sat conversing in the large
drawing-room. With Ivy and her father was a gentleman whose identity
she could only guess; he proved to be Mr. Eustace Glazzard, her
To the greetings with which she was received Serena responded
formally. It happened that her attire was to-day even more careless
than usual, for, the weather being wet and cold, she had just thrown
a cloak over the frock in which she lounged at home, and driven out
in a cab with the thought of stepping directly into Ivy's sanctum.
So far from this, she found herself under the scrutiny of two
well-dressed men, whose faces, however courteous, manifested the
signature of a critical spirit. The elder Mr. Glazzard was bald,
wrinkled, and of aristocratic bearing; he wore gold-rimmed glasses,
which accentuated the keenness of his gaze. The younger man, though
altogether less formidable, had a smile which Miss Mumbray
instinctively resented; he seemed to be regarding her with some
special interest, and it was clear that her costume did not escape
Ivy did her best to overcome the restraint of the situation, and for
a quarter of an hour something like conversation was maintained,
but, of a sudden, Miss Mumbray rose.
"We will go to my room," said Ivy, regarding her nervously.
"Thank you," was the reply, "I mustn't stay longer to-day."
"Oh, why not? But indeed you must come for a moment; I have
something to show you"
Serena took leave of the gentlemen, and with show of reluctance
suffered herself to be led to the familiar retreat.
"I'm afraid I have displeased you," Ivy addressed her, when the door
was closed. "I ought to have asked your permission."
"It doesn't matter, dear--not a bit. But I wasn't quite in the
humour for--for that kind of thing. I came here for quietness, as
I always do."
"Do forgive me! I thought--to tell the truth, it was my uncle--I
had spoken of you to him, and he said he should so much like to meet
"It really doesn't matter; but I look rather like the woman who
comes to buy old dresses, don't I?"
"Of course not!"
"And what if I do?" exclaimed the other, seating herself by the
fire. "I don't know that I've any claim to look better than Mrs.
Moss. I suppose she and I are about on a level in understanding and
education, if the truth were told. Your uncle would see that, of
"Now, don't--don't!" pleaded Ivy, bending over the chair and
stroking her friend's shoulder. "It's so wrong of you, dear. My
father and Uncle Eustace are both quite capable of judging you
"What did you tell him about me--your uncle?" asked Serena,
"That you were my friend, and that we read together"----
"Oh, of course! What else?"
"I explained who you were."
"That I had a ridiculous name, and was the daughter of silly
"Oh, it _is_ unkind of you!"
"Well, and what else? I insist on knowing, Ivy."
"Indeed, I didn't say one word that you mightn't have heard
yourself. I think you can believe me, dear?"
"To be sure I can. But then no doubt your father told him the rest,
or has done by this time. There's no harm in that. I like people to
know that I am independent. Well, now tell me about _him_. He isn't
a great favourite of yours, is he?"
"No, not a great favourite." Ivy seemed always to weigh her words.
"I don't know him very well. He has always lived in London, and I've
never seen him more than once a year. I'm afraid he doesn't care
much about the things that I prize most, but he is kind and very
clever, I believe. Father always says he might have been a great
artist if he had chosen."
"Then why didn't he choose?"
"I can't say. So many people seem to fall far short of what they
might have been."
"Women do--what else can you expect? But men are free. I suppose
he is rich?"
"No, not rich. He seems to have enough for his needs."
Serena indulged her thoughts.
"I felt I disliked him at first," she said, presently. "But he is
improved. He can talk well, I should think. I suppose he is always
in clever society?"
"I suppose so."
"And why doesn't he invite you to London, and take you to see
"Oh, he knows me better than that!" replied Ivy, with a laugh.
Whilst the girls talked thus, Eustace Glazzard and his brother were
also in confidential chat. They had gone to the library and made
themselves comfortable with cigars--a cellaret and glasses
standing within reach. The rooms at Highmead gave evidence of
neglect. Guests were seldom entertained; the servants were few, and
not well looked after.
"She has, I dare say, thirty thousand," William Glazzard was saying,
with an air of indifference. "I suppose she'll marry some parson.
Let us hope it's one of the fifty-pound curates."
"Deep in the old slough?"
"Hopelessly--or Ivy wouldn't be so thick with her."
When he had spoken, William turned with an expressive smile.
"Still, who knows? I rather like the girl. She has no humbug about
her--no pretence, that's to say. You see how she dresses."
"A bad sign, I'm afraid."
"Well, no, not in this case, I think. Her home accounts for it. That
old ass, Mumbray, and his wife make things pretty sour for her, as
the Germans say; at least, I guess so."
"I don't dislike her appearance--intelligent at bottom, I should
There followed a long silence. Eustace broke it by asking softly:
"And how do things go with you?"
"The same as ever. Steadily down-hill I had better let the place
before it gets into a thoroughly bad state. And you?"
His brother made no answer, but sat with bent head.
"You remember Stark," he said at length, "the lawyer? He wants me to
stand for Polterham at the next election."
"You? In place of Welwyn-Baker?"