Part 2 out of 6
"No; as Liberal candidate; or Radical, if you like."
"You're joking, I suppose!"
"Where's the impossibility?"
Their eyes met.
"There's no absurdity," said William, "in your standing for
Parliament; _au contraire_. But I can't imagine you on the Radical
side. And I don't see the necessity of that. Welwyn-Baker is
breaking up; they won't let him come forward again, even if he
wishes. His son is disliked, and would have a very poor chance. If
you cared to put yourself in touch with Mumbray and the rest of them
--by love! I believe they would welcome you. I don't know of any
one but the Welwyn-Bakers at all likely to stand."
"But," objected his brother, "what's the use of my standing for a
party that is pretty sure to be beaten?"
"You think that's the case?"
Eustace repeated Mr. Stark's opinions, and what he had heard from
Quarrier. It seemed to cost William an effort to fix his mind on the
question; but at length he admitted that the contest would probably
be a very close cue, even granting that the Conservatives secured a
"That's as much as to say," observed his brother, "that the Liberals
stand to win, as things are. Now, there seems to be no doubt that
Liversedge would gladly withdraw in favour of a better man. What I
want you to do is to set this thing in train for me. I am in
"You astonish me! I can't reconcile such an ambition with"----
"No, no; of course not." Glazzard spoke with unwonted animation.
"You don't know what my life is and has been. Look I must do
something to make my blood circulate, or I shall furnish a case for
the coroner one of these mornings. I want excitement. I have taken
up one thing after another, and gone just far enough to understand
that there's no hope of reaching what I aimed at--superlative
excellence; then the thing began to nauseate me. I'm like poor
Jackson, the novelist, who groaned to me once that for fifteen years
the reviewers had been describing his books as 'above the average.'
In whatever I have undertaken the results were 'above the average,'
and that's all. This is damned poor consolation for a man with a
temperament like mine!"
His voice broke down. He had talked himself into a tremor, and the
exhibition of feeling astonished his brother, who--as is so often
the case between brothers--had never suspected what lay beneath
the surface of Eustace's _dilettante_ life.
"I can enter into that," said the elder, slowly. "But do you imagine
that in politics you have found your real line?"
"No such thing. But it offers me a chance of _living_ for a few
years. I don't flatter myself that I could make a figure in the
House of Commons; but I want to sit there, and be in the full
current of existence. I had never dreamt of such a thing until Stark
suggested it. But he's a shrewd fellow, and he has guessed my need."
"What about the financial matter?" asked William, after reflection.
"I see no insuperable difficulty. You, I understand, are in no
position to help me?"
"Oh, I won't say that," interrupted the other. "A few hundreds will
make no difference to me. I suppose you see your way for the
ordinary expenses of life?"
"With care, yes. I've been throwing money away, but that shall stop;
there'll be no need for it when my nerves are put in tone."
"Well, it strikes me in a comical light, but you must act as you
think best. I'll go to work for you. It's a pity I stand so much
apart, but I suppose my name is worth something. The Radicals have
often tried to draw me into their camp, and of course it's taken for
granted that I am rather for than against them. By-the-bye, what is
the date? Ah! that's fortunate. To-morrow I am booked to take the
chair at the Institute; a lecture--I don't know by whom, or about
what. A good opportunity for setting things astir."
"Then you do take some part in town life?"
"Most exceptional thing. I must have refused to lecture and to
chairmanize twenty times. But those fellows are persistent; they
caught me in a weak moment a few days ago. I suppose you realize the
kind of speechifying that would be expected of you? Are you prepared
to blaze away against Beaconsfield, and all that sort of thing?"
"I'm not afraid. There are more sides to my character than you
Eustace spoke excitedly, and tossed off a glass of liqueur. His
manner had become more youthful than of wont; his face showed more
"The fact is," he went on, "if I talk politics at all, I can manage
the Radical standpoint much more easily than the Tory. I have
precious little sympathy with anything popular, that's true; but
it's easier for me to adopt the heroic strain of popular leaders
than to put my own sentiments into the language of squires and
parsons. I should feel I was doing a baser thing if I talked vulgar
Toryism than in roaring the democratic note. Do you understand?"
"I have an inkling of what you mean."
Eustace refilled the little glass.
"Of course," he went on, "my true life stands altogether outside
popular contention. I am an artist, though only half-baked But I
admit most heartily that our form of government is a good one--the
most favourable that exists to individual freedom. We are ruled by
the balance of two parties; neither could do without the other. This
being the case, a man of my mind may conscientiously support either
side. Nowadays neither is a foe to liberty; we know that party
tall-talk means nothing--mere playing to the gallery. If I throw
whatever weight I represent into the Liberal scales, I am only
helping, like every other Member of Parliament, to maintain the
constitutional equilibrium. You see, this view is not even cynical;
any one might proclaim it seriously."
"Yes; but don't do so in Polterham."
The other laughed, and at the same moment remembered how long it was
since such an expression of mirth had escaped his lips.
"Well," he exclaimed, "I feel better to-day than for long enough.
I've been going through a devilish bad time, I can tell you. To make
things worse, some one has fixed an infernal accusation on me--an
abominable calumny. I won't talk about it now, but it may be
necessary some day."
"Calumny?--nothing that could be made use against you in public?"
"No danger of that, I think. I didn't mean to speak of it."
"You know that a man on the hustings must look out for mud?"
"Of course, of course!--How do you spend your afternoons? What
shall we do?"
William threw away the end of a cigar, and stretched himself.
"I do very little but read," he answered. "A man gets the reading
habit, just like the morphia habit, or anything else of that kind. I
think my average is six novels a week: French, Russian, German,
Italian. No English, unless I'm in need of an emetic. What else
should I do? It's a way of watching contemporary life.--Would you
like to go and talk with Ivy? Oh, I forgot that girl."
"You wouldn't care to ask some people to dinner one of these days--
the right kind of people?"
"Yes, yes; we'll do that. I must warn you not to talk much about
art, and above all not to play the piano. It would make a bad
"All right. How shall I deal with Liversedge? I go there this
evening, you remember."
"Sound him, if opportunity offers. No hurry, you know. We have
probably several months before us. You'll have to live here a good
As the rain had ceased, they presently went out into the garden and
strolled aimlessly about.
No sooner had Mr. Liversedge become aware of his brother-in-law's
promise to appear on the platform, than he despatched a note to Mr.
Wykes, recommending exceptional industry in spreading the
announcement. These addresses were not commonly of a kind to excite
much interest, nor had the name of Mr. Denzil Quarrier any prestige
in Polterham; it occasioned surprise when messengers ran about the
town distributing handbills, which gave a general invitation
(independent of membership) to that evening's lecture at the
Institute. At the doors of the building itself was a large placard,
attracting the eye by its bold inscription: "Woman: Her Place in
Modern Life"--so had the title been ultimately shaped. Politicians
guessed at once that something was in the wind, and before the
afternoon there was a distinct rumour that this young man from
London would be brought forward as Liberal candidate (Radical, said
the Tories) in the place of Mr. Liversedge, who had withdrawn his
name. The reading-room was beset. This chanced to be the day on
which the Polterham Liberal newspaper was published, and at the head
of its "general" column appeared a long paragraph on the subject
under discussion. "At the moment of going to press, we learn that
unforeseen circumstances have necessitated a change in this
evening's programme at the Literary Institute. The indefatigable
Secretary, Mr. Wykes, has been fortunate enough to fill the
threatened vacancy, and that in a way which gives promise of a rare
intellectual treat." Then followed a description of the lecturer
(consisting of laudatory generalities), and a few sounding phrases
on the subject he had chosen. Mr. Chown, who came and went twenty
times in the course of the day, talked to all and sundry with his
"If it is true," he thundered, "that Tobias Liversedge has already
surrendered his place to this young man, I want to know why these
things have been done in a corner? If you ask my opinion, it looks
uncommonly like a conspiracy. The Radical electors of Polterham are
not going to be made the slaves of a secret caucus t The choice may
be a very suitable one. I don't say"----
"Then wait till we know something definite," growled Mr. Vawdrey.
"All I can say is that if this Mr. Quarrier is going in for extreme
views about women, I'll have nothing to do with him."
"What do you mean by 'extreme views'?" screeched a thin man in dirty
Thereupon began a furious controversy, lasting half an hour. (It may
be noted that a card hung in several parts of the room, requesting
members not to converse in audible tones.)
Mr. Liversedge had gone to work like a man of decision. Between six
and eight on the previous evening he had seen the members of that
"secret caucus" whose existence outraged Mr. Chown--in other
words, the half-dozen capable citizens who practically managed the
affairs of Liberal Polterham--and had arrived at an understanding
with them which made it all but a settled thing that Denzil Quarrier
should be their prospective candidate. Tobias was eager to back out
of the engagement into which he had unadvisedly entered. Denzil's
arrival at this juncture seemed to him providential--impossible to
find a better man for their purpose. At eight o'clock an informal
meeting was held at the office of the _Polterham Examiner_, with the
result that Mr. Hammond, the editor, subsequently penned that
significant paragraph which next morning attracted all eyes.
On returning to supper, Mr. Liversedge found his wife and Denzil in
conversation with Eustace Glazzard. With the latter he had a bare
acquaintance; from Denzil's report, he was disposed to think of him
as a rather effeminate old-young man of metropolitan type.
"Well," he exclaimed, when greetings were over, "I don't think you
will want for an audience to-morrow, Denzil. We are summoning
Glazzard had of course heard of the coming lecture. He wore a smile,
but was taciturn.
"Pray heaven I don't make an exhibition of myself!" cried Denzil,
with an air of sufficient confidence.
"Shall I send coffee to your bedroom, to-night?" asked his sister,
with merry eyes.
"Too late for writing it out. It must be inspiration I know what I
want to say, and I don't think the sea of Polterham faces will
He turned sharply to his brother-in-law.
"Are you still in the same mind on that matter we spoke of this
"Glazzard, what should you say if I came forward as Radical
candidate for Polterham?"
There was silence. Glazzard fixed his eyes on the opposite wall; his
smile was unchanged.
"I see no objection," he at length replied. The tones were rather
thick, and ended in a slight cough. Feeling that all eyes were fixed
upon him, Glazzard made an uneasy movement, and rose from his chair.
"It doesn't astonish you?" said Quarrier, with a broad grin.
"Then let us regard the thing as settled. Mr. Liversedge has no
stomach for the fight, and makes room for me. In a week's time I
shall be a man of distinction."
In the midst of his self-banter he found Glazzard's gaze turned upon
him with steady concentration. Their eyes met, and Denzil's
expression became graver.
"You will take up your abode here?" Glazzard asked.
"Shortly," was the reply, given with more emphasis than seemed
necessary, and accompanied with an earnest look.
Again there was silence, and before the conversation could be
renewed there came a summons to supper.
A vivacious political dialogue between Mr. Liversedge and his
relative allowed Glazzard to keep silence, save when he exchanged a
few words with his hostess or Miss Pope. He had a look of extreme
weariness; his eyes were heavy and without expression, the lines of
face slack, sullen; he seemed to maintain with difficulty his
upright position at the table, and his eating was only pretence. At
the close of the meal he bent towards Mrs. Liversedge, declared that
he was suffering from an intolerable headache, and begged her to
permit his immediate departure.
Denzil went with him out into the road.
"I could see you were not well," he said, kindly. "I want to have a
long and very serious talk with you; it must wait till after
to-morrow. You know, of course, what I have on my mind. Come and
hear my balderdash if you are all right again."
All the next day Denzil was in extravagant spirits. In the morning
he made a show of shutting himself up to meditate the theme of his
discourse, but his sister presently saw him straying about the
garden, and as soon as her household duties left her at leisure she
was called upon to gossip and laugh with him. The Polterham Examiner
furnished material for endless jesting. In the midst of a flow of
grotesque fancies, he broke off to say:
"By-the-bye, I shall have to run over to Paris for a few weeks."
"What to do there?"
"A private affair. You shall hear about it afterwards."
And he went on with his mirthful fantasia. This mood had been
frequent with him in earlier years, and his sister was delighted to
see that he preserved so much of youth. After all, it might be that
he had found his vocation ere it was too late. Certainly he had the
gift of speech, and his personality was not a common one. He might
strike out a special line for himself in Parliament. They must make
his election a sure thing.
The lecture was at eight. About seven, Mr. Liversedge and his
relative walked off to the Institute, and entered the
committee-room. Two or three gentlemen had already arrived; they
were no strangers to Denzil, and a lively conversation at once
sprang up. In a few minutes the door again opened to admit Mr.
William Glazzard. The chairman of the evening came forward with
lounging steps. Regardless of the others present, he fixed his eye
upon Quarrier, and examined him from head to foot. In this case,
also, introduction was unnecessary.
"You have lost no time," he remarked, holding out his hand, and
glancing from the young man to Mr. Liversedge.
"Your brother has given you a hint?" said the latter.
"Oh yes! How am I to phrase my introductory remarks?"
"Quite without reference to the political topic."
The others murmured an approval.
"Eustace well again?" asked Quarrier. "He went home with a bad
headache last night."
"He'll be here," answered Mr. Glazzard, laconically. "Liversedge, a
word with you."
The two stepped apart and conversed under cover of the chat that
went on in front of the fire. Mr. Glazzard merely wished for a few
hints to direct him when he introduced the lecturer; he was silent
about his brother's frustrated project.
Fresh members of the committee kept appearing. The room resounded
with talk and laughter. Denzil had a higher colour than usual, but
he seemed perfectly self-possessed; his appearance and colloquial
abilities made a very favourable impression. "Distinct improvement
on friend Toby," whispered one committee-man to another; and this
was the general opinion. Yet there was some anxiety regarding the
address they were about to hear. Denzil did not look like a man who
would mince his words and go half-way in his opinions. The Woman
question was rather a dangerous one in Polterham just now; that
period of Revivalism, and the subsequent campaign of Mrs. Hitchin,
had left a sore feeling in not a few of the townsfolk. An old
gentleman (he had known Denzil as a boy) ventured to speak of this
to the lecturer.
"Don't be afraid, Mr. Toft," was the laughing reply. "You will stand
amazed at my moderation; I am dead against Female Suffrage."
"That is safe, I think. You'll find Mrs. Wade down upon you--but
that doesn't matter."
"Will she attack me in the hall?"
"No, no; we don't have public discussion; but prepare for an assault
"I shall enjoy it!"
The hall was rapidly filling. Already twice as many people as
attended an ordinary lecture had taken seats, and among them were
numerous faces altogether strange at the Institute, though familiar
enough in the streets of Polterham. Among early arrivals was Mr.
Samuel Quarrier, Denzil's uncle, a white-headed but stalwart figure.
He abominated Radicalism, and was one of the very few "new" men who
supported the old political dynasty of the town. But his countenance
manifested no sour displeasure; he exchanged cheery greetings on all
hands, and marched steadily to the front chairs, his two daughters
following. The Mayor, accompanied by his wife, Miss Mumbray, and
young Mr. Raglan Mumbray, was seen moving forward; he acknowledged
salutations with a heavy bow and a wave of the hand. Decidedly it
was a field-day. From the street below sounded a constant roll of
carriages and clatter of hoofs coming to a standstill before the
Institute. Never, perhaps, had so many people in evening costume
gathered under this roof. Even Mr. Chown, the draper, though
scornful of such fopperies, had thought it due to his position as a
town-councillor to don the invidious garb; he was not disposed to
herd among the undistinguished at the back of the room. Ladies were
in great force, though many of them sought places with an abashed
movement, not quite sure whether what they were about to hear would
be strictly "proper." One there was who betrayed no such tremors;
the position she assumed was about the middle of the hall, and from
time to time curious looks were cast in that direction.
The clock pointed to eight. Punctually to the moment a side door was
thrown open, and a procession of gentlemen ascended the platform.
Members of the committee seated themselves in a row of arm-chairs;
Mr. William Glazzard took his place not far from the reading-desk,
and behind it subsided the lecturer.
In these instants Denzil Quarrier was the prey of sudden panic. He
had imagined that his fortitude was proof against stage-fright, but
between the door and his seat on the platform he suffered horribly.
His throat was parched and constricted; his eyes dazzled, so that he
could see nothing; his limbs were mere automatic mechanism; he felt
as though some one had set his ears on fire. He strove wildly to
recollect his opening sentences; but they were gone. How was he to
fill up a mortal hour with coherent talk when he had not command of
one phrase? He had often reproved himself for temerity, and now the
weakness had brought its punishment. What possessed him to run into
The chairman had risen and was speaking. "Pleasure----introduce
----Mr. Denzil Quarrier,----not unknown to many of you----
almost at a moment's notice----much indebted----"
An outbreak of applause, and then dead silence. The ticking of the
clock became audible. Some external force took hold upon him, lifted
him from the chair, and impelled him a few steps forward. Some
voice, decidedly not his own, though it appeared to issue from his
throat, uttered the words "Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen." And
before the sound had ceased, there flashed into his thoughts a story
concerning an enlightened young lady of Stockholm, who gave a
lecture to advance the theory that woman's intellect suffered from
the habit of allowing her hair to grow so long. It was years since
this trifle had recurred to his mind; it came he knew not how, and
he clutched at it like the drowning man at a straw. Before he really
understood what he was about, he had begun to narrate the anecdote,
and suddenly, to his astonishment, he was rewarded with universal
peals of laughter. The noise dispelled his anguish of nervousness;
he drew a deep breath, grasped the table before him, and was able to
speak as freely as if he had been on his own hearth-rug in Clement's
Make a popular audience laugh, and you have a hold upon its
attention. Able now to distinguish the faces that were gazing at
him, Denzil perceived that he had begun with a lucky stroke; the
people were in expectation of more merriment, and sat beaming with
good-humour. He saw the Mayor spread himself and stroke his beard,
and the Mayoress simper as she caught a friend's eye. Now he might
venture to change his tone and become serious.
Decidedly, his views were moderate. From the beginning he allowed it
to be understood that, whatever might be the effect of long hair, he
for one considered it becoming, and was by no means in favour of
reducing it to the male type. The young lady of Stockholm might or
might not have been indebted for her wider mental scope to the
practice of curtailing her locks, yet he had known many Swedish
ladies (and ladies of England, too) who, in spite of lovely hair,
managed to preserve an exquisite sense of the distinctions of
womanhood, and this (advanced opinion notwithstanding) he maintained
was the principal thing. But, the fact that so many women were
nowadays lifting up their voices in a demand for various degrees of
emancipation seemed to show that the long tresses and the flowing
garb had really, by process of civilization, come to symbolize
certain traditions of inferiority which weighed upon the general
female consciousness. "Let us, then, ask what these traditions are,
and what is to be said for or against them from the standpoint of a
Denzil no longer looked with horror at the face of the clock; his
only fear was lest the hands should move too rapidly, and forbid him
to utter in spacious periods all he had on his mind. By half-past
eight he was in the midst of a vehement plea for an enlargement of
female education, in the course of which he uttered several things
rather disturbing to the nerves of Mrs. Mumbray, and other ladies
present.--Woman, it was true, lived an imperfect life if she did
not become wife and mother; but this truism had been insisted on to
the exclusion of another verity quite as important: that wifehood
and motherhood, among civilized people, implied qualifications
beyond the physical. The ordinary girl was sent forth into life with
a mind scarcely more developed than that of a child. Hence those
monstrous errors she constantly committed when called upon to accept
a husband. Not one marriage in fifty thousand was an alliance on
terms fair to the woman. In the vast majority of cases, she wedded a
sort of man in the moon. Of him and of his world she knew nothing;
whereas the bridegroom had almost always a very sufficient
acquaintance with the circumstances, habits, antecedents,
characteristics, of the girl he espoused. Her parents, her
guardians, should assure themselves--pooh! even if these people
were conscientious and capable, the task was in most cases beyond
"I have no scheme for rendering marriages universally happy. On the
contrary, I believe that marriages in general will always serve as
a test of human patience." (Outbreak of masculine laughter.) "But
assuredly it is possible, by judicious training of young girls, to
guard them against some of the worst perils which now threaten their
going forth into the world. It is possible to put them on something
like an equality in knowledge of life with the young men of
corresponding social station." ("Oh, shameful!" murmured Mrs.
Mumbray. "Shocking!") "They must be treated, not like ornaments
under glass-eases, but like human beings who, physiologists assure
us, are born with mental apparatus, even as men are. I repeat that I
don't want to see them trained for politics" (many faces turned
towards the middle of the hall) "and that I lament the necessity
imposed on so many of them of struggling with men in the
labour-market. What I demand is an education in the true sense of
the word, and that as much at the hands of their mothers as of the
school-teacher. When that custom has been established, be sure that
it will affect enormously the habits and views of the male
population. The mass of men at present regard women as creatures
hoodwinked for them by nature--or at all events by society. When
they can no longer act on that assumption, interest and, let us
hope, an expanding sense of honour will lead them to see the
marriage contract, and all connected with it, in altogether a
He drank off a glass of water, listening the while to resonant
applause. There was still twenty minutes, and he decided to use the
time in offering solace to the army of women who, by force of mere
statistics, are fated to the frustration of their _raison
d'etre_. On this subject he had nothing very remarkable to say,
and, indeed, the maiden ladies who heard him must have felt that it
all amounted to a pitying shrug of the shoulders. But he could not
speak otherwise than vigorously, and at times his words were
"We know not how things may improve in the future," (thus he
perorated), "but let celibate ladies of the present bear in mind
that the chances are enormously against their making a marriage
worthy of the name." ("Oh!" from some man at the back.) "Let them
remember, too, if they are disposed to altruism, that though most
men manage to find a wife, very few indeed, as things are, do not
ultimately wish that they had remained single." (A roar of laughter,
and many protests.) "This being so, let women who have no family of
their own devote themselves, whenever possible, to the generous and
high task of training the new female generation, so that they may
help to mitigate one of the greatest ills of civilized existence,
and prepare for women of the future the possibility of a life truly
Denzil sat down with a glow of exulting triumph. His lecture was a
success, not a doubt of it. He saw the chairman rise, and heard
slow, languid phrases which contrasted strangely with his own fire
and rush. A vote of thanks was being proposed. When silence carne,
he was aware of some fluster in the body of the hall; people were
whispering, tittering, turning round to look. Two persons had stood
up with the intention of seconding the vote of gratitude; one was
Mr. Chown, the other that lady who had a place in the middle of the
assemblage, and who seemed to be so well known. The Radical draper
did not immediately give way, but his neighbours reminded him of
propriety. Quarrier had just scrutinized the person of the lady
about to speak. when her voice fell upon his ears with a pleasant
"As it is certainly right," she began, "that a woman should be one
of those who return thanks to our lecturer, and as I fear that no
other woman present will be inclined to undertake this duty, I will
make no apology for trying to perform it. And that in very few
words. Speaking for myself, I cannot pretend to agree with the whole
of Mr. Quarrier's address; I think his views were frequently timid"
--laughter and hushing--"frequently timid, and occasionally quite
too masculine. I heard once of a lady who proposed to give a series
of lectures on 'Astronomy from a Female Point of View'" (a laugh
from two or three people only), "and I should prefer to entitle Mr.
Quarrier's lecture, 'Woman from a Male Point of View.' However, it
was certainly well-meaning, undoubtedly eloquent, and on the whole,
in this time of small mercies, something for which a member of the
struggling sex may reasonably be grateful. I wish, therefore, to add
my voice to the proposal that a vote of thanks be offered to our
lecturer, with all sincerity and all heartiness."
"A devilish good little speech!" Denzil murmured to himself, as the
applause and merriment broke forth.
The show of hands seemed to be universal. Denzil was enjoying an
enormous happiness. He had proved to himself that he could speak,
and henceforth the platform was his own. Now let the dissolution of
Parliament come with all convenient speed; he longed to begin the
Committee-men crowded about him, offering hands, and brimming with
"You were on very thin ice now and then," said Mr. Liversedge. "You
made me shake in my shoes. But the skating was admirable."
"I never knew Mrs. Wade so complimentary," remarked old Mr. Toft. "I
expected half an hour's diatribe, 'the rapt oration flowing free,'
as Tennyson says. You have taught her good manners."
Down in the hall was proceeding an animated conversazione. In one
group stood the Mayor and his wife, Miss Mumbray, and Ivy Glazzard.
Serena was turning aside to throw a shawl over her shoulders, when
Eustace Glazzard stepped up.
"Pray let me assist you, Miss Mumbray." He placed the wrap. "I hope
you have been amused?"
"I have, really," answered the girl, with a glance towards Ivy, who
had heard her uncle's voice.
"You, Ivy," he continued, "are rather on Mrs. Wade's side, I think?"
"Oh, uncle--how _can_ you!"
Mr. Mumbray was looking on, trying to determine who the gentleman
might be. Glazzard, desirous of presentation to the Mayor, gave Ivy
a glance, and she, with much nervousness, uncertain whether she
might do such a thing, said to her friend's father:
"I think, Mr. Mumbray, you don't know my uncle, Mr. Eustace
"Ha! very glad to meet you, Mr. Glazzard. My love," he turned to the
Mayoress, "let me present to you Mr. Eustace Glazzard--Mr.
The Mayoress laid her fan on her bosom, and inclined graciously. She
was a portly and high-coloured woman, with hanging nether lip.
Glazzard conversed with her and her husband in a tone of amiable
"Remarkable," he said, smiling to the Mayoress, "how patiently women
in general support this ancient yoke of tyranny!"
Mrs. Mumbray looked at him with condescending eyes, in doubt as to
his real meaning. Her husband, ponderously literal, answered in his
"I fail to recognize the grievance.--How do you do, Mr. Lovett?--
I am conscious of no tyranny."
"But that is just what Mr. Glazzard meant, papa, put in Serena, with
scarcely disguised contempt.
"Ha! oh! To be sure--to be sure! Quite so, Mr. Glazzard.--A very
amoosing lecture, all the same. Not of course to be taken seriously.
--Good evening, Mr. Glazzard--good evening!"
The Mayoress again inclined. Serena gave her acquaintance an
enigmatic look, murmured a leave-taking, and, with an affectionate
nod to Ivy, passed on. Glazzard drew near to his niece.
"Your friend is not a disciple of Mrs. Wade?"
"Oh dear no, uncle!"
"Not just a little bit?" he smiled, encouragingly.
"Perhaps she would agree with what Mr. Quarrier said about girls
having a right to better instruction."
"I see. Don't wait with me if there's any one you would like to
Ivy shook her head. She had a troubled expression, as if the
experience of the evening had agitated her.
Close at hand, a circle of men had formed about Mr. Chown, who was
haranguing on the Woman question. What he wanted was to emancipate
the female mind from the yoke of superstition and of priestcraft.
Time enough to talk about giving women votes when they were no
longer the slaves of an obstructive religion. There were good things
in the lecture, but, on the whole, it was flabby--flabby. A man
who would discourse on this topic must be courageous; he must dare
to shock and give offence. Now, if _he_ had been lecturing----
Glazzard beckoned to his niece, and led her out of ear-shot of these
utterances. In a minute or two they were joined by the chairman, who
had already equipped himself for departure.
"Bah! I have a splitting headache," said William. "Let us get home."
Quarrier was still on the platform, but at this moment he caught
Glazzard's eye, and came hastening down. His friend stepped forward
to meet him.
"Well, how did it go?" Denzil asked, gaily.
"You have great aptitude for that kind of thing."
"So it strikes me.--Will you engage yourself to dine with me the
day after to-morrow?"
"I have an idea. You remember the Coach and Horses--over at
It was a fine old country inn, associated in their memories of
boyhood with hare-and-hounds and other sportive excursions. Glazzard
"Let us have a quiet dinner there; six-thirty can drive us back."
Glazzard rejoined his relatives. Denzil, turning came face to face
with Mr. Samuel Quarrier.
"So you took the trouble to come and hear me?"
"To be sure," replied the old man, in a gruff but good-natured
voice. "Is it true what they are saying? Is it to be you instead of
"I believe so."
"I shall do my best to get you a licking. All in good part, you
"Perfectly natural, But I shall win!"
"Do you know of any good house to let in or near the town?" inquired
Denzil of his sister the next morning, as they chatted after Toby's
departure to business.
"A house! What do you want with one?"
"Oh, I must have a local habitation--the more solid the better."
Mrs. Liversedge examined him.
"What is going on, Denzil?"
"My candidature--that's all. Any houses advertised in this rag?"
He took up yesterday's _Examiner_, and began to search the pages.
"You can live very well with us."
Denzil did not reply, and his sister, summoned by a servant, left
him. There was indeed an advertisement such as he sought. An old and
pleasant family residence, situated on the outskirts of Polterham
(he remembered it very well), would be vacant at Christmas.
Application could be made on the premises. Still in a state of very
high pressure, unable to keep still or engage in any quiet pursuit,
he set off the instant to view this house. It stood in a high-walled
garden, which was entered through heavy iron-barred gates, one of
them now open. The place had rather a forlorn look, due in part to
the decay of the foliage which in summer shaded the lawn; blinds
were drawn on all the front windows; the porch needed repair. He
rang at the door, and was quickly answered by a dame of the
housekeeper species. On learning his business, she began to conduct
him through the rooms, which were in habitable state, though with
"The next room, sir, is the library. A lady is there at present.
Perhaps you know her?--Mrs. Wade."
"Mrs. Wade! Yes, I know her slightly."
The coincidence amused him.
"She comes here to study, sir--being a friend of the family. Will
you go in?"
Foreseeing a lively dialogue, he released his attendant till she
should hear his voice again, and, with preface of a discreet knock,
entered the room. An agreeable warmth met him, and the aspect of the
interior contrasted cheerfully with that of the chambers into which
he had looked. There was no great collection of books, but some fine
engravings filled the vacancies around. At the smaller of two
writing-tables sat the person he was prepared to discover; she had
several volumes open before her, and appeared to be making notes. At
his entrance she turned and gazed at him fixedly.
"Forgive my intrusion, Mrs. Wade," Denzil began, in a genial voice.
"I have come to look over the house, and was just told that you were
here. As we are not absolute strangers"----
He had never met her in the social way, though she had been a
resident at Polterham for some six years. Through Mrs. Liversedge,
her repute had long ago reached him; she was universally considered
eccentric, and, by many people, hardly proper for an acquaintance.
On her first arrival in the town she wore the garb of recent
widowhood; relatives here she had none, but an old friendship
existed between her and the occupants of this house, a childless
couple named Hornibrook. Her age was now about thirty.
Quarrier was far from regarding her as an attractive woman. He
thought better of her intelligence than before hearing her speak,
and it was not difficult for him to imagine that the rumour of
Polterham went much astray when it concerned itself with her
characteristics; but the face now directed to him had no power
whatever over his sensibilities. It might be that of a high-spirited
and large-brained woman; beautiful it could not be called. There was
something amiss with the eyes. All the other features might pass:
they were neither plain nor comely: a forehead of good type, a very
ordinary nose, largish lips, chin suggesting the masculine; but the
eyes, to begin with, were prominent, and they glistened in a way
which made it very difficult to determine their colour. They
impressed Denzil as of a steely-grey, and seemed hard as the metal
itself. His preference was distinctly for soft feminine eyes--such
as Lilian gazed with.
Her figure was slight, but seemed strong and active. He had noticed
the evening before that, in standing to address an audience, she
looked anything but ridiculous--spite of bonnet. Here too, though
allowing her surprise to be seen, she had the bearing of perfect
self-possession, and perhaps of conscious superiority. Fawn-coloured
hair, less than luxuriant, lay in soft folds and plaits on the top
of her head; possibly (the thought was not incongruous) she hoped to
gain half an inch of seeming stature.
They shook hands, and Denzil explained his object in calling.
"Then you are going to settle at Polterham?"
"Probably--that is, to keep an abode here."
"You are not married, I think, Mr. Quarrier?"
"There was a report at the Institute last night--may I speak of
"Political? I don't think it need be kept a secret. My
brother-in-law wishes me to make friends with the Liberals, in his
"I dare say you will find them very willing to meet your advances.
On one question you have taken a pretty safe line."
"Much to your disgust," said Denzil, who found himself speaking very
freely and inclined to face debatable points.
"Disgust is hardly the word. Will you sit down? In Mrs. Hornibrook's
absence, I must represent her. They are good enough to let me use
the library; my own is poorly supplied."
Denzil took a chair.
"Are you busy with any particular subject?" he asked.
"The history of woman in Greece."
"Profound! I have as good as forgotten my classics. You read the
"After a fashion. I don't know much about the enclitic _de_, and I
couldn't pass an exam. in the hypothetical sentences; but I pick up
the sense as I read on."
Her tone seemed to imply that, after all, she was not ill-versed in
grammatical niceties. She curtailed the word "examination" in an
off-hand way which smacked of an undergraduate, and her attitude on
the chair suggested that she had half a mind to cross her legs and
throw her hands behind her head.
"Then," said Quarrier, "you have a good deal more right to speak of
woman's claims to independence than most female orators."
She looked at him with a good-humoured curl of the lip.
"Excuse me if I mention it--your tone reminds me of that with
which you began last evening. It was rather patronizing."
"Heaven forbid! I am very sorry to have been guilty of such
"In a measure you atoned for it afterwards. When I got up to offer
you my thanks, I was thinking of the best part of your lecture--
that where you spoke of girls being entrapped into monstrous
marriages. That was generous, and splendidly put. It seemed to me
that you must have had cases in mind."
For the second time Denzil was unable to meet the steely gaze. He
looked away and laughed.
"Oh, of course I had; who hasn't--that knows anything of the
world? But," he changed the subject, "don't you find it rather dull,
living in a place like Polterham?"
"I have my work here."
"Work?--the work of propagandism?"
"Precisely. It would be pleasant enough to live in London, and
associate with people of my own way of thinking; but what's the
good?--there's too much of that centralization. The obscurantists
take very good care to spread themselves. Why shouldn't those who
love the light try to keep little beacons going in out-of-the-way
"Well, do you make any progress?"
"Oh, I think so. The mere fact of my existence here ensures that. I
dare say you have heard tell of me, as the countryfolk say?"
The question helped Denzil to understand why Mrs. Wade was content
with Polterham. He smiled.
"Your influence won't be exerted against me, I hope, when the time
"By no means. Don't you see that I have already begun to help you?"
"By making it clear that my Radicalism is not of the most dangerous
They laughed, together, and Quarrier, though the dialogue
entertained him, rose as if to depart.
"I will leave you with your Greeks, Mrs. Wade; though I fear you
haven't much pleasure in them from that special point of view."
"I don't know; they have given us important types of womanhood. The
astonishing thing is that we have got so little ahead of them in the
facts of female life. Woman is still enslaved, though men nowadays
think it necessary to disguise it."
"Do you really attach much importance to the right of voting, and so
"'And so on!' That covers a great deal, Mr. Quarrier. I attach all
importance to a state of things which takes for granted that women
stand on a level with children."
"So they do--with an inappreciable number of exceptions. You must
be perfectly well aware of that."
"And so you expect me to be satisfied with it?--I insist on the
franchise, because it symbolizes full citizenship. I won't aim at
anything less than that. Women must be taught to keep their eyes on
that, as the irreducible minimum of their demands."
"We mustn't argue. You know that I think they must be taught to look
at quite different things."
"Yes; but what those things are you have left me in doubt. We will
talk it over when you have more time to spare. Do you know my
address? Pear-tree Cottage, Rickstead Road. I shall be very glad to
see you if ever you care to call."
Denzil made his acknowledgments, shook hands, and left the room.
When his step sounded in the hall, the housekeeper appeared and
conducted him to the upper stories. He examined everything
attentively, but in silence; his features expressed grave thought.
Mr. and Mrs. Hornibrook, he was told, were living in Guernsey, and
had resolved to make that island their permanent abode. A Polterham
solicitor was their agent for the property.
Denzil was given to acting on the spur of the moment. There might be
dwellings obtainable that would suit him better than this, but he
did not care to linger in the business. As he passed out of the iron
gates he made up his mind that the house, with necessary repairs,
would do very well; and straightway he turned his steps to the
office of the agent.
The village of Rickstead lay at some five miles' distance from that
suburb of Polterham where dwelt Mr. Toby Liversedge, Mr. Mumbray
(the Mayor), Mr. Samuel Quarrier, and sundry other distinguished
townsfolk. A walk along the Rickstead Bead was a familiar form of
exercise with the less-favoured people who had their homes in narrow
streets; for on either side of the highway lay an expanse of
meadows, crossed here and there by pleasant paths which led to the
surrounding hamlets. In this direction no factories had as yet risen
to deform the scene.
Darkness was falling when Quarrier set forth to keep his appointment
with Eustace Glazzard at the Coach and Horses Inn. The road-lamps
already glimmered; there would be no moon, but a soft dusky glow
lingered over half the sky, and gave promise of a fair night. Denzil
felt his boyhood revive as he got clear of the new houses, and began
to recognize gates, trees, banks, and stiles; he could not say
whether he enjoyed the sensation, but it served to combat certain
troublesome thoughts which had beset him since the morning. He was
experiencing reaction after the excitement of the last two days. A
change from the orderly domesticities of his sister's house had
become necessary to him, and he looked forward with satisfaction to
the evening he had planned.
At a turn of the road, which, as he well remembered, had been a
frequent limit of his nurse-guarded walk five-and-twenty years ago,
his eye fell upon a garden gate marked with the white inscription,
"Pear-tree Cottage." It brought him to a pause. This must be Mrs.
Wade's dwelling; the intellectual lady had quite slipped out of his
thoughts, and with amusement he stopped to examine the cottage as
well as dusk permitted. The front was overgrown with some creeper;
the low roof made an irregular line against the sky one window on
the ground-floor showed light through a red blind. Mrs. Wade, he had
learnt, enjoyed but a small income; the interior was probably very
modest. There she sat behind the red blind and meditated on the
servitude of her sex. Repressing an inclination to laugh aloud, he
stepped briskly forward.
Rickstead consisted of twenty or thirty scattered houses; an
ancient, slumberous place, remarkable chiefly for its time-honoured
inn, which stood at the crossing of two high roads. The landlord had
received notice that two gentlemen would dine under his roof, and
the unwonted event was making quite a stir in the hostelry. Quarrier
walked in at about a quarter-past six, savoury odours saluted him
from the threshold. Glazzard had not yet arrived, but in less than
five minutes a private carriage drew up to the door, and the friends
hailed each other.
The room prepared for them lay well apart from the bar, with its
small traffic. A great fire had been blazing for an hour or two; and
the table, not too large, was laid with the best service the house
could afford--nothing very grand, to be sure, in these days of its
decline, but the general effect was inviting to men with a good
appetite and some historical imagination.
"A happy idea of yours!" said Glazzard, as he rubbed his hands
before the great hearth. "Are we to begin with a cup of sack?"
Punctually the meal was served; the liquor provided therewith,
though of small dignity, did no discredit to the host. They talked
and laughed over old Grammar School days, old acquaintances long
since dead or lost to sight, boyish ambitions and achievements.
Dinner dismissed, a bottle of whisky on the table, a kettle steaming
by the fire, Denzil's pipe and Glazzard's cigar comfortably glowing,
there came a long pause.
"Well, I have a story to fell you," said Quarrier, at length.
"So I supposed," murmured the other, without eagerness.
"I don't know that I _should_ have told it but for that chance
encounter at Kew. But I'm not sorry. I think, Glazzard, you are the
one man in the world in whom I have perfect confidence."
The listener just bent his head. His features were impassive.
"It concerns Lilian, of course," Quarrier pursued, when he had taken
a few puffs less composedly than hitherto. "I am telling the story
without her leave, but--well, in a way, as I said, the necessity
is forced upon me. I can't help doing many things just now that I
should avoid if I had my choice. I have undertaken to fight society
by stratagem. For my own part, I would rather deal it a plain blow
in the face, and bid it do its worst; but"----He waved his hand.
Glazzard murmured and nodded comprehension.
"I'll go back to the beginning. That was about three years ago. I
was crossing the North Sea (you remember the time; I said good-bye
to you in the Academy, where your bust was), and on the boat I got
into conversation with a decent kind of man who had his wife and
family with him, going to settle for a time at Stockholm; a merchant
of some sort. There were three children, and they had a governess--
Lilian, in fact, who was then not much more than eighteen. I liked
the look of her from the first. She was very still and grave,--the
kind of thing that takes me in a woman, provided she has good
features. I managed to get a word or two with her, and I liked her
way of speaking. Well, I was sufficiently interested to say to
myself that I might as well spend a week or two. at Stockholm and
keep up the acquaintance of these people; Becket, their name was.
I'm not exactly the kind of fellow who goes about falling in love
with nursery governesses, and at that time (perhaps you recollect?)
I had somebody else in mind. I dare say it was partly the contrast
between that shark of a woman and this modest girl; at all events, I
wanted to see more of Lilian, and I did I was in Stockholm, of! and
on, for a couple of months. I became good friends with the Beckets,
and before coming back to England I made an offer to Miss Allen--
that was the governess's name. She refused me, and I was conceited
enough to wonder what the deuce she meant."
Glazzard laughed. He was listening with more show of interest.
"Well," pursued Quarrier, after puffing vainly at his extinguished
pipe, "there was reason for wondering. Before I took the plunge, I
had a confidential talk with Mrs. Becket, who as good as assured me
that I had only to speak; in fact, she was rather angry with me for
disturbing her family arrangements. Miss Allen, I learnt from her,
was an uncommonly good girl--everything I imagined her. Mrs.
Becket didn't know her family, but she had engaged her on the
strength of excellent testimonials, which didn't seem exaggerated.
Yet after that I was floored--told that the thing couldn't be. No
weeping and wailing; but a face and a voice that puzzled me. The
girl liked me well enough; I felt sure of it. All the same I had to
come back to England alone, and in a devilish bad temper. You
remember that I half quarrelled with you about something at our
"You were rather bearish," remarked Glazzard, knocking the ash off
"As I often am. Forgive me, old fellow!"
Denzil relit his pipe.
"The next summer I went over to Sweden again. Miss Allen was still
with the Beckets, as I knew; but she was only going to stay a few
months more. One of the children had died, and the other two were to
be sent to a boarding-school in England. Again I went through the
proposing ordeal, and again it was useless. 'Confound it!' I
shouted, 'do deal honestly with me! What's the matter? Are you
engaged already?' She kept silent for a long time, then said 'Yes!'
'Then why in the name of the Jotuns didn't you tell me so
before?' I was brutal (as I often am), and the poor girl began to
cry. Then there was a scene--positive stage business. I wouldn't
take her refusal. 'This other man, you don't really care for him--
you are going to sacrifice yourself! I won't have it! She wept and
moaned, and threatened hysterics; and at last, when I was losing
patience (I can't stand women's idiotic way of flinging themselves
about and making a disturbance, instead of discussing difficulties
calmly), she said at last that, if ever we met in England, she would
explain her position. 'Why not now?'--no, not in the Beckets'
house. Very well then, at least she might make it certain that I
_should_ see her in England. After trouble enough, she at last
consented to this. She was to come back with Mr. Becket and the
boys, and then go to her people. I got her promise that she would
write to me and make an appointment somewhere or other.--More
Glazzard declined; so Denzil replenished his own glass, and went on.
He was now tremulous with the excitement of his reminiscences; he
fidgeted on the chair, and his narrative became more jerky than
"Her letter came, posted in London. She had taken leave of the
Becket party, and was supposed to be travelling homewards; but she
would keep her word with me. I was to go and see her at an hotel in
the West End. Go, I did, punctually enough; I believe I would have
gone to Yokohama for half an hour of her society. I found her in a
private sitting-room, looking wretched enough, confoundedly ill. And
then and there she told me her story. It was a queer one; no one
could have guessed it."
He seized the poker and stirred the fire savagely.
"I shall just give you the plain facts. Her father was a builder in
a small way, living at Bristol. He had made a little money, and was
able to give his children a decent education. There was a son, who
died young, and then two girls, Lilian the elder of them. The old
man must have been rather eccentric; he brought up the girls very
strictly (their mother died when they were children)--would
scarcely let them go out of his sight, preached to them a sort of
mixture of Christianity and Pantheism, forbade all pleasures except
those of home, didn't like them to make acquaintances. Their
mother's sister kept the house; a feeble, very pious creature,
probably knowing as much about life as the cat or the canary--so
Lilian describes her. The man came to a sudden end; a brick fell on
his head whilst he was going over a new building. Lilian was then
about fifteen. She had passed the Oxford Local, and was preparing
herself to teach--or rather, being prepared at a good school.
"Allen left enough money to provide his daughters with about a
hundred a year each; this was to be theirs absolutely when they came
of age, or when they married. The will had been carefully drawn up,
and provided against all sorts of real and imaginary dangers. The
one thing it couldn't provide against was the imbecility of the old
aunt, who still had the girls in her care.
"A couple of years went by, and Lilian became a teacher in the
school she had attended. Do you know anything about Bristol and the
neighbourhood? It seems that the people there are in the habit of
going to a place called Weston-super-Mare--excursion steamers, and
so on. Well, the girls and their aunt went to spend a day at Weston,
and on the boat they somehow made acquaintance with a young man
named Northway. That means, of course, he made up to them, and the
aunt was idiot enough to let him keep talking. He stuck by them all
day, and accompanied them back to Bristol.--Pah! it sickens me to
tell the story!"
He took the glass to drink, but it slipped from his nervous fingers
and crashed on the ground.
"Never mind; let it be there. I have had whisky enough. This damned
fellow Northway soon called upon them, and was allowed to come as
often as he liked. He was a clerk in a commercial house--gave
references which were found to be satisfactory enough, a great
talker, and of course a consummate liar. His special interest was
the condition of the lower classes; he made speeches here and there,
went slumming, called himself a Christian Socialist. This kind of
thing was no doubt attractive to Lilian--you know enough of her to
understand that. She was a girl of seventeen, remember. In the end,
Northway asked her to marry him, and she consented."
"Did he know of the money?" inquired Glazzard.
"Undoubtedly. I shouldn't wonder if the blockhead aunt told. Well,
the wedding-day came; they were married; and--just as they came
out of the church, up walks a detective, claps his hand on
Northway's shoulder, and arrests him for forgery."
"H'm! I see."
"The fellow was tried. Lilian wouldn't tell me the details; she gave
me an old newspaper with full report. Northway had already, some
years before, been in the hands of the police in London. It came out
now that he was keeping a mistress; on the eve of marriage he had
dispensed with her services, and the woman, in revenge, went to his
employers to let them know certain suspicious facts. He was sent to
penal servitude for three years."
"Three years!" murmured Glazzard. "About so ago, I suppose?"
"Yes; perhaps he is already restored to society. Pleasant
"Moral and discreet law," remarked the other, "which maintains the
validity of such a marriage!"
Denzil uttered a few violent oaths, reminiscences of the Navy.
"And she went at once to Sweden?" Glazzard inquired.
"In a month or two the head-mistress of her school, a sensible
woman, helped her to get an engagement--with not a word said of
the catastrophe. She went as Miss Allen. It was her firm resolve
never again to see Northway. She would not acknowledge that that
ceremony in the church made her a wife. Of course, you understand
that it wasn't only the forgery that revolted her; that, I suppose,
could have been pardoned. In a few days she had learnt more of
herself and of the world than in all the previous years. She
understood that Northway was really nothing to her. She accepted him
because he was the first man who interested her and made love to her
--like thousands of girls. Lilian is rather weak, unfortunately.
She can't stand by herself. But for me, I am convinced she would now
be at the mercy of the blackguard, when he comes out. Horror and
despair enabled her to act firmly three years ago; but if she had no
one to support her--well, she has!"
"What did you propose," asked Glazzard, "when you persuaded her to
live with you?"
Denzil wrinkled his brow and looked gloomily at the fire.
"We agreed to live a life of our own, that was all. To tell you the
truth, Glazzard, I had no clear plans. I was desperately in love,
and--well, I thought of emigration some day. You know me too well
to doubt my honesty. Lilian became my wife, for good and all--no
doubt about that! But I didn't trouble much about the future--it's
"She cut herself loose from the Bristol people?"
"No; she has corresponded with them at long intervals. They think
she is teaching in London. The tragedy excuses her from visiting
them. Aunt and sister are sworn to secrecy concerning her
whereabouts. A good thing she has no male relatives to hunt her up."
"Does she draw her income?--I beg your pardon, the question
escaped me. Of course it's no business of mine."
"Never mind. Yes, the money is at her disposal; thanks to the
settlement required by her father's will. I'm afraid she gives away
a lot of it in indiscriminate charity. I needn't say," he added,
with a characteristic movement of the head, "that I have nothing to
do with it."
"My real position she doesn't understand. I have never told her of
how it was changed at my father's death.--Poor girl! About that
time she was disappointed of a child, and had a month or two of
black misery. I kept trying to make up my mind what course would be
the wisest, and in the meanwhile said nothing. She is marvellously
patient. In fact, what virtue hasn't she, except that of a strong
will? Whatever happens, she and I stand together; nothing on earth
would induce me to part from her! I want you to understand that. In
what I am now going to do, I am led solely and absolutely by desire
for our common good. You see, we are face to face with the world's
immoral morality. To brave it would be possible, of course; but then
we must either go to a foreign country or live here in isolation. I
don't want to live permanently abroad, and I do want to go in for
activity--political by preference. The result is we must set our
faces, tell lies, and hope that fortune will favour us."
There was a strong contrast between Quarrier's glowing vehemence and
the show of calm reflection which the other maintained as he
listened. Denzil's face was fully lighted by the fire; his friend's
received the shadow of an old-fashioned screen which Glazzard,
finding the heat oppressive, had pulled forward a few minutes ago.
The frank, fearless gaze with which Denzil's words were accompanied
met no response; but to this habit in the listener he was
"Yes, we must tell lies!" Quarrier emphasized the words savagely.
"Social law is stupid and unjust, imposing its obligation without
regard to person or circumstance. It presumes that no one can be
_trusted_. I decline to be levelled with the unthinking multitude.
You and I can be a law to ourselves. What I shall do is this: On
returning to town next week, I shall take Lilian over to Paris. We
shall live there for several weeks, and about the end of the time I
shall write to my people here, and tell them that I have just been
He paused. Glazzard made no motion, and uttered no sound.
"I have already dropped a mysterious word or two to my Mister, which
she will be able to interpret afterwards. Happily, I am thought a
likely fellow to do odd, unconventional things. Again and again Mary
has heard me rail against the idiocies of ordinary weddings; this
private marriage will be quite in character. I shall state that
Lilian has hitherto been a governess at Stockholm--that I made her
acquaintance there--that I sent for her to meet me in Paris. Now,
tell me, have you any objection to offer?"
Glazzard shifted his position, coughed, and drew from his case a new
cigar, which he scrutinized closely from tip to end--even drawing
it along under his nose. Then he spoke very quietly.
"It's feasible--but dangerous."
"But not _very_ dangerous, I think?"
"I can't say. It depends greatly on your wife's character."
"Thank you for using that word, old fellow!" burst from Denzil. "She
is my wife, in every sense of the word that merits the consideration
of a rational creature!"
"I admit it; but I am afraid of lies."
"I am not only afraid of them; I hate them bitterly. I can say with
a clear conscience that I abhor untruthfulness. I have never told a
deliberate lie since I was old enough to understand the obligation
of truth! But we have to do with monstrous social tyrannies. Lilian
can no longer live in hiding. She must have a full and enjoyable
"Yes. But is it possible for her, under these conditions?"
"I think so. I have still to speak to her, but I know she will see
things as I do."
A very faint smile flitted over Glazzard's lips.
"Good! And you don't fear discovery by--what's his name--
"Not if Lilian can decide to break entirely with her relatives--at
all events for some years. She must cease to draw her dividends, of
course, and must announce to the Bristol people that she has
determined on a step which makes it impossible for her to
communicate with them henceforth. I don't think this will be a great
sacrifice; her aunt and her sister have no great hold upon her
affections.--You must remember that her whole being is transformed
since she last saw them. She thinks differently on all and every
"You are assured of that?"
"Absolutely sure! I have educated her. I have freed her from
superstitions and conventionalities. To her, as to me, the lies we
shall have to tell will be burdensome in the extreme; but we shall
both forget in time."
"That is exactly what you can never do!" said Glazzard,
deliberately. "You enter upon a lifetime of dissimulation. Ten,
twenty years hence you will have to act as careful a part as on the
day when you and she first present yourselves in Polterham."
"Oh, in a sense!" cried the other, impatiently.
"A very grave sense.--Quarrier, why have you taken up this
political idea? What's the good of it?"
He leaned forward and spoke with a low earnest voice. Denzil could
not instantly reply.
"Give it up!" pursued Glazzard. "Take Lilian abroad, and live a life
of quiet happiness. Go on with your literary work"----
"Nonsense! I can't draw back now, and I don't wish to."
"Would you--if--if _I_ were willing to become the Liberal
Denzil stared in astonishment.
"You? Liberal candidate?"
A peal of laughter rang through the room. Glazzard had spoken as if
with a great effort, his voice indistinct, his eyes furtive. When
the burst of merriment made answer to him, he fell back in his
chair, crossed his legs, and set his features in a hard smile.
"You are joking, old fellow!" said Denzil.
"Yes, if you like."
Quarrier wished to discuss the point, but the other kept an
"I understand," remarked Denzil, at length. "You hit upon that
thought out of kindness to me. You don't like my project, and you
wished to save me from its dangers. I understand. Hearty thanks, but
I have made up my mind. I won't stunt my life out of regard for an
imbecile superstition. The dangers are _not_ great; and if they
were, I should prefer to risk them. You electioneering! Ho, ho!"
Glazzard's lips were close drawn, his eyes veiled by the drooping
lids. He had ceased to smoke, and when, a few minutes later, he
threw away his cigar, it was all but squeezed flat by the two
fingers which had seemed to hold it lightly.
"It is settled!" cried Denzil, jumping up, with a return of his
extravagant spirits. "You, Glazzard, will stand by and watch--our
truest friend. You on the hustings! Ha, ha, ha! Come, one more glass
of whisky, and I will tell them to get our cab ready. I say,
Glazzard, from this evening forth never a word between us about the
secret. That is understood, of course. You may let people know that
you were in my confidence about the private marriage. But I can
trust your discretion as my own. Your glass--pledge me in the old
Ten minutes more, and they were driving back to Polterham.
But for domestic warfare, Mrs. Mumbray would often have been at a
loss how to spend her time. The year of her husband's Mayoralty
supplied, it is true, a good many unwonted distractions, but in the
middle of the morning, and late in the evening (if there were no
dinner-party), _ennui_ too frequently weighed upon her. For relief
in the former case, she could generally resort to a quarrel with
Serena; in the latter, she preferred to wrangle with her spouse.
One morning early in December, having indulged her ill-humour with
even more than usual freedom among the servants, she repaired to the
smaller drawing-room, where, at this hour, her daughter often sat
reading. Serena was at a table, a French book and dictionary open
before her. After hovering for a few moments with eyes that gathered
wrath, the Mayoress gave voice to her feelings.
"So you pay no attention to my wishes, Serena! I will not have you
reading such books!"
Her daughter rustled the dictionary, impassive. Conscious of reduced
authority, Mrs. Mumbray glared and breathed hard, her spacious bosom
working like a troubled sea.
"Your behaviour astonishes me!--after what you heard Mr. Vialls
"Mr. Vialls is an ignorant and foolish man," remarked Serena,
without looking up.
Then did the mother's rage burst forth without restraint, eloquent,
horrisonous. As if to save her ears, Serena went to the piano and
began to play. When the voice was silenced, she turned round.
"You had rather have me play than read that book? That shows how
little you understand of either. This is an _immoral_ piece of
music! If you knew what it meant you would scream in horror. It is
_immoral_, and I am going to practise it day after day."
The Mayoress stood awhile in mute astonishment, then, with purple
face, swept from the room.
The family consisted of four persons. Serena's brother, a young
gentleman of nineteen, articled to a solicitor in the town, was
accustomed to appear at meals, but seldom deigned to devote any more
of his leisure to the domestic circle. After luncheon to-day, as he
stood at the window with a sporting newspaper, his mother addressed
"We have company this evening, Raglan. Take care that you're not
"Who's coming?" asked the young man, without looking up.
"Mr. Eustace Glazzard and Miss Glazzard."
"Any one else?"
"Then you don't catch me here! I have an appointment at eight."
"I insist upon your dining with us! If you are not at dinner, I will
have your allowance stopped! I mean what I say. Not one penny more
shall you receive until you have learnt to behave yourself!"
"We'll see about that," replied Raglan, with finished coolness; and,
folding his newspaper, he walked off.
Nor did the hour of dinner see his return. The expected guests
arrived; it was not strictly a dinner-party, but, as Mr. Mumbray
described it, "a quiet evening _ong fammil_." The Rev. Scatchard
Vialls carne in at the last moment with perspiring brow, excusing
himself on the ground of professional duties. He was thin, yet
flabby, had a stoop in the shoulders, and walked without noticeably
bending his knees. The crown of his head went to a peak; he had eyes
like a ferret's; his speech was in a high, nasal note. For some
years he had been a widower, a fact which perhaps accounted for his
insinuating manner when he approached Miss Mumbray.
The dinner was portentously dull. Ivy Glazzard scarcely uttered a
syllable. Her uncle exerted himself to shape phrases of perfect
inoffensiveness, addressing now his hostess, now Serena. The burden
of conversation fell upon Mr. Vialls, who was quite equal to its
support; he spoke of the evil tendencies of the time as exhibited in
a shameful attempt to establish Sunday evening concerts at a club of
Polterham workmen. His discourse on this subject, systematically
developed, lasted until the ladies withdrew. It allowed him scarcely
any attention to his plate, but Mr. Vialls had the repute of an
ascetic. In his buttonhole was a piece of blue ribbon, symbol of a
ferocious total-abstinence; his face would have afforded sufficient
proof that among the reverend man's failings were few distinctly of
The Mayor did not pretend to asceticism. He ate largely and without
much discrimination. His variously shaped and coloured glasses were
not merely for display. When the door had closed behind the Mayoress
and her two companions, he settled himself with an audible sigh, and
for a few moments wore a look of meditation; then, leaning towards
Glazzard, he inquired gravely:
"What is your opinion of the works of Bawlzac?"
The guest was at a loss for an instant, but he quickly recovered
"Ah, the French novelist? A man of great power, but--hardly
according to English tastes."
"Should you consider him suitable reading for young ladies?"
"Well, hardly. Some of his books are unobjectionable."
Mr. Vialls shot a fierce glance at him.
"In my opinion, his very name is pollution! I would not permit a
page of his writing, or of that of any French novelist, to enter my
house. One and all are drenched with impurity!"
"Certainly many of them are," conceded Glazzard.
"Lamentable," sighed the Mayor, raising his glass, "to think that
quite a large number of his books have been put into the Institute
library! We must use our influence on all hands, Mr. Vialls. We live
in sad times. Even the theatre--I am told that some of the plays
produced in London are disgraceful, simply disgraceful!"
The theatre was discussed, Mr. Vialls assailing it as a mere agent
of popular corruption. On the mention of the name of Shakespeare,
Mr. Mumbray exclaimed:
"Shakespeare needs a great deal of expurgating. But some of his
plays teach a good lesson, I think. There is 'I read Romeo and
Juliet,' for instance." Glazzard looked up in surprise. "I read
'Romeo and Juliet' not long ago, and it struck me that its intention
was decidedly moral. It points a lesson to disobedient young people.
If Juliet had been properly submissive to her parents, such
calamities would never have befallen her. Then, again, I was greatly
struck with the fate that overtook Mercutio--a most suitable
punishment for his persistent use of foul language. Did you ever see
it in that light, Mr. Glazzard?"
"I confess it is new to me. I shall think it over."
The Mayor beamed with gratification.
"No one denies," struck in Mr. Vialls, "that to a pure mind all
things are pure. Shakespeare is undoubtedly a great poet, and a soul
bent on edification can extract much good from him. But for people
in general, especially young people, assuredly he cannot be
recommended, even in the study. I confess I have neither time nor
much inclination for poetry--except that of the sacred volume,
which is poetry indeed. I have occasionally found pleasure in
"Pardon me," interrupted the Mayor--"Longfellow?--the author of
that poem called 'Excelsior'?"
"Now, really--I am surprised--I should have thought--the fact
is, when Raglan was at school, he had to learn 'Excelsior,' and I
happened to glance over it. I was slightly acquainted with the
piece, but I had quite forgotten that It contained what seems to me
very gross indelicacy--very gross indeed. Do you remember a verse
beginning (I must ask your pardon for quoting it, Mr. Vialls)--
'Oh stay, the maiden cried, and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast.'
Surely, that is all but indecency.
In fact, I wrote at once to the master and drew his attention to the
passage, requesting that my boy might never be asked to repeat such
a poem. The force of my objection was not at once admitted, strange
to say; but in the end I gained my point."
Mr. Vialls screwed up his lips and frowned at the table-cloth, but
"Our task nowadays," pursued the Mayor, with confidence, "is to
preserve the purity of home. Our homes are being invaded by
dangerous influences we must resist. The family should be a bulwark
of virtue--of all the virtues--holiness, charity, peace."
He lingered on the last word, and his gaze became abstracted.
"Very true, very true indeed!" cried the clergyman. "For one thing,
how careful a parent should be with regard to the periodical
literature which is allowed to enter his house, This morning, in a
home I will not mention, my eye fell upon a weekly paper which I
should have thought perfectly sound in its teaching; yet, behold,
there was an article of which the whole purport was to _excuse_ the
vices of the lower classes on the ground of their poverty and their
temptations. Could anything be more immoral, more rotten in
principle? _There_ is the spirit we have to contend against--a
spirit of accursed lenity in morals, often originating in so-called
scientific considerations! Evil is evil--vice, vice--the devil
is the devil--be circumstances what they may. I do not care to
make mention of such monstrous aberrations as, for instance, the
attacks we are occasionally forced to hear on the law of marriage.
That is the mere reek of the bottomless pit, palpable to all. But I
speak of subtler disguises of evil, such as may recommend themselves
to persons well-intentioned but of weak understanding. Happily, I
persuaded my friends to discontinue their countenance of that weekly
paper, and I shall exert myself everywhere to the same end,"
They rose at length, and went to the drawing-room. There Glazzard
succeeding in seating himself by Miss Mumbray, and for a quarter of
an hour he talked with her about art and literature. The girl's face
brightened; she said little, but that little with very gracious
smiles. Then Mr. Vialls approached, and the
_tete-a-tete_ was necessarily at an end.
When he was at length alone with his wife, the Mayor saw what was in
store for him; in fact, he had foreseen it throughout the evening.
"Yes," began the lady, with flashing eyes, "this is your Mr.
Glazzard! He encourages Serena in her shameful behaviour! I
overheard him talking to her."
"You are altogether wrong, as usual," replied Mr. Mumbray, with his
wonted attempt at dignified self-assertion. "Glazzard distinctly
disapproves of Bawlzac, and everything of that kind. His influence
is as irreproachable as that of Mr. Vialls."
"Of course! You are determined to overthrow my plans at whatever
cost to your daughter's happiness here and hereafter."
"I don't think Vialls a suitable husband for her, and I am not sorry
she won't listen to him. He's all very well as a man and a
clergyman, but--pshaw! what's the good of arguing with a
This emphatic epithet had the result which was to be expected. The
debate became a scolding match, lasting well into the night. These
two persons were not only on ill-terms, they disliked each other
with the intensity which can only be engendered by thirty years of a
marriage such as, but for public opinion, would not have lasted
thirty weeks. Their reciprocal disgust was physical, mental, moral.
It could not be concealed from their friends; all Polterham smiled
over it; yet the Mumbrays were regarded as a centre of moral and
religious influence, a power against the encroaches of rationalism
and its attendant depravity. Neither of them could point to
dignified ancestry; by steady persistence in cant and snobbishness
--the genuine expression of their natures--they had pushed to a
prominent place, and feared nothing so much as depreciation in the
eyes of the townsfolk. Raglan and Serena were causing them no little
anxiety; both, though in different ways, might prove an occasion of
scandal. When Eustace Glazzard began to present himself at the
house, Mr. Mumbray welcomed the significant calls. From his point of
view, Serena could not do better than marry a man of honourable
name, who would remove her to London. Out of mere contrariety, Mrs.
Mumbray thereupon began to encourage the slow advances of her
Rector, who thought of Serena's fortune as a means to the wider
activity, the greater distinction, for which he was hungering.
Glazzard's self-contempt as he went home this evening was not
unmingled with pleasanter thoughts. For a man in his position,
Serena Mumbray and her thousands did not represent a future of
despair. He had always aimed much higher, but defeat after defeat
left him with shaken nerves, and gloomy dialogues with his brother
had impressed upon him the necessity of guarding against darkest
possibilities. His state of mind was singularly morbid; he could not
trust the fixity of his purposes for more than a day or two
together; but just at present he thought without distaste of Serena
herself, and was soothed by the contemplation of her (to him modest)
fortune. During the past month he had been several times to and from
London; to-morrow he would return to town again, and view his
progress from a distance.
On reaching his brother's house, he found a letter waiting for him;
it bore the Paris postmark. The contents were brief.
"I announce to you the fact of our marriage. The
L.s will hear of it simultaneously. We are enjoying ourselves.
He went at once to the room where William was sitting, and said, in
a quiet voice:
"Quarrier has just got married--in Paris."
"Oh? To whom?"
"An English girl who has been a governess at Stockholm. I knew it
"Has he made a fool of himself?" asked William, dispassionately.
"I think not; she seems to be well educated, and good-looking--
according to his report."
"Why didn't you mention it before?"
"Oh, his wish. We talked it all over when he was here. He has an
idea that a man about to be married always cuts a ridiculous
The elder man looked puzzled.
"None whatever, I believe. A decent girl without fortune, that's
all. I suppose we shall see them before long."
The subject was shortly dismissed, and Eustace fell to reporting the
remarkable conversation in which he had taken part at the Mayor's
table. His brother was moved to no little mirth, but did not indulge
in such savage contemptuousness as distinguished the narrator.
William Glazzard viewed the world from a standpoint of philosophic
calm; he expected so little of men in general, that disappointment
or vexation could rarely befall him.
"These people," he observed, "think themselves pillars of society,
and the best of the joke is, that they really _are_ what they
imagine. Without tolerably honest fools, we should fare badly at the
hands of those who hate neither wits nor honesty. Let us encourage
them, by all means. I see no dawn as yet of the millennium of
The weather, for this time of year, was unusually bright in Paris.
Each morning glistened with hoar-frost; by noon the sky shone blue
over clean, dry streets, and gardens which made a season for
themselves, leafless, yet defiant of winter's melancholy. Lilian saw
it all with the eyes of a stranger, and often was able to forget her
anxiety in the joy of wonderful, new impressions.
One afternoon she was resting in the room at the hotel, whilst
Quarrier went about the town on some business or other. A long
morning at the Louvre had tired her, and her spirits drooped. In
imagination she went back to the days of silence and solitude in
London; the memory affected her with something of homesickness, a
wish that the past could be restored. The little house by Clapham
Common had grown dear to her; in its shelter she had shed many
tears, but also had known much happiness: that sense of security
which was now lost, the hope that there she might live always,
hidden from the world's inquisitive gaze, justified to her own
conscience by love and calm. What now was before her? Not only the
elaborate deceit, the perpetual risk, weighed upon her heart; she
was summoned to a position such as she had never foreseen, for which
she had received no training. When Denzil revealed to her his real
standing in the world, spoke laughingly of the wealth he had
inherited, and of his political ambitions, her courage failed before
the prospect. She had not dared to let him see all her despondency,
for his impatient and sanguine temper would have resented it. To
please him and satisfy his utmost demands was the one purpose of her
life. But the task he had imposed seemed to her, in these hours of
faintness, no less than terrible.
He entered, gay as usual, ready with tender words, pet names and
diminutives, the "little language" of one who was still a lover.
Seeing how things were with her, he sat down to look over an English
newspaper. Presently his attention strayed, he fell into reverie.
"Well," he exclaimed at length, rousing himself, "they have the news
She gave no answer.
"I can imagine how Mary will talk. 'Oh, nothing that Denzil does can
surprise me! Whoever expected him to marry in the ordinary way?' And
then they'll laugh, and shrug their shoulders, and hope I mayn't
have played the fool--good, charitable folks!"
Still she said nothing.
"Rather out of sorts to-day, Lily?"
"I wish we were going to stay here--never to go back to England."
"Live the rest of our lives in a Paris hotel!"
"No, no--in some quiet place--a home of our own."
"That wouldn't suit me, by any means. Paris is all very well for a
holiday, but I couldn't make a home here. There's no place like
England. Don't you ever think what an unspeakable blessing it is to
have been born in England? Every time I go abroad, I rejoice that I
am not as these foreigners. Even my Scandinavian friends I can't
help despising a little--and as for Frenchmen! There's a great
deal of the old island prejudice in me."
Lilian smiled, raising herself slightly upon the sofa.
"These old Latin nations have had their day," he continued, with a
wave of the arm. "France, Italy, Spain--they have played their
part in civilization, and have nothing left now but old relics and
modern bluster. The future's with us Teutons. If I were not an
Englishman, I would be an American. The probability is that we shall
have a hard fight one of these days with the Slavs--and all the
better, perhaps; I don't think the world can do without fighting yet
"I should be sorry to hear you teaching people that," said Lilian.
"Oh," he laughed, "it wouldn't fit into our electoral campaign! No
danger of my preaching bloodthirstiness. But how I shall enjoy the
bloodless fight down at Polterham! I want you to look forward to it
in the same way. Do cheer up, Lily!--you see I have been gradually
moving in this direction. When I found myself a man of means, I knew
that the time had come for stirring. Writing about the Sea-Kings is
all very well in its way, but I am no born literary man. I must get
that book finished and published, though. It might help me with the
constituency. A book gives a man distinction."
"You seem to me to have changed very much."
"No; it's only that you didn't know me thoroughly. To tell you the
truth, that life of hiding away in London wasn't a very good thing
for me. I lived too much to myself. The half-dozen acquaintances I
had were not the kind of men to profit me. Glazzard--well,
Glazzard is an odd sort of fellow--helpful now and then, but on
the whole musty. He has no ambition, thinks it enough to doze on
among his pictures, and that kind of thing. The fact is, such
companionship has made me conceited. I want to get among my equals
and my superiors--as I shall do if I become a Member of
"Confound it! _Your_ influence has tended the same way. You spoil me
--make me think myself a fine fellow. I suppose one's wife ought to
talk like that--I don't dislike it, you know; but if I end by
never doing anything at all, I should be confoundedly ashamed of
myself. But the more I think of it, the better satisfied I am that a
political career is the best thing for me. You see, this is the age
of political progress--that before everything. We English are
working out our revolution in a steady and sensible way,--no
shrieking and slaughtering--we leave that to people who don't
really know what they want, and will never get much to speak of. We
go ahead soberly on the constitutional highway--with a little
hearty swearing to clear the air now and then."
"Well, I was saying it is a political age, and I think a man ought
to go in for the first interest of his time. What have we to do just
now with artistic aims? The English, at any time, care little or
nothing for art; one has to recognize that. Our task in the world is
practical--to secure all men a sufficiency of beef and beer, and
honest freedom. I like to feel that I am on the advancing wave; I
don't care for your picturesque ponds; they generally have a bad
The effect of his vigorous talk was manifest in Lilian's face. She
yielded her spirit to his, was borne whither he would.
"You talk of living in Paris--why, if you really knew Paris, you
would hate the place. Underneath all this show of civilization,
refinement, brilliancy--I'm glad to say you can't even guess what
it covers. The town reeks with abominations. I'm getting sick of
The sincerity of his moral disgust was obvious. No one knew so well
as Lilian the essential purity--even the puritanism--of
"For all that," he added, merrily, "we'll go and dine at the
restaurant, and then look in at the Francais. They know how to
cook here, and they know how to play the fool--no denying it."
When Lilian went forth with him she had once more succeeded in
overcoming her despondent mood. The lights of the Boulevard
exercised their wonted effect--cheering, inspiring. She pressed
his arm, laughed at his mirthful talk; and Denzil looked down into
her face with pride and delight in its loveliness. He had taken
especial care to have her dressed in the manner that became his
wife; Parisian science had gone to the making of her costume, and
its efforts were not wasted. As they entered the restaurant, many
eyes were turned with critical appreciation upon the modest face and
figure, as undeniably English, in their way, as Quarrier's robust
Denzil's French was indifferently good, better perhaps than his
capacity for picking out from the bill of fare a little dinner which
should exalt him in the eyes of waiters. He went to work, however,
with a noble disregard for consequences, whether to digestion or
pocket. Where Lilian was concerned there could be no such thing as
extravagance; he gloried in obtaining for her the best of everything
that money could command. The final "_Bien, monsieur_," was, after
all, sufficiently respectful, and our friend leaned back with the
pleasant consciousness of duty performed.
He drank a good deal of wine, and talking with a spontaneity beyond
the ordinary Briton. Towards the close of dinner his theme was the
coming electoral contest.
"You know," he said, bending over the table, "you will be able to
give me important help. The wife of a candidate--especially of a
Radical candidate--can find plenty of work, if she knows how to go
about it. As little humbug as possible; and as little loss of
self-respect, but we shall have to shake a good many dirty hands.
Your turn for 'slumming' will serve us well, but I know the dangers
of it. You'll be coming home _eploree_, as they say here.
I hope you'll grow stronger in that respect. One has to harden one's
heart a little."
"I know it is wiser to do so."
"Of course! It's not only that you are constantly imposed upon; the
indulgence of universal sympathy is incompatible with duty to one's
self--unless you become at once a sister of mercy. One is bound,
in common sense, to close eyes and ears against all but a trifling
fraction of human misery. Why, look, we sit here, and laugh and talk
and enjoy ourselves; yet at this instant what horrors are being
enacted in every part of the world! Men are perishing by every
conceivable form of cruelty and natural anguish. Sailors are
gurgling out their life in sea-storms; soldiers are agonizing on
battle-fields; men, women, and children are being burnt, boiled,
hacked, squashed, rent, exploded to death in every town and almost
every village of the globe. Here in Paris, and over there in London,
there is no end to the forms of misery our knowledge suggests--all
suffered while we eat and talk. But to sit down and think
persistently of it would lead to madness in any one of imagination
like yours. We have to say: It doesn't concern us! And no more it
does. We haven't the ordering of the world; we can't alter the vile
course of things. I like to swear over it now and then (especially
when I pass a London hospital), but I soon force myself to think of
something else. You must do the same--even to the swearing, if you
like. There's a tendency in our time to excess of humanitarianism--
I mean a sort of lachrymose habit which really does no good. You
represent it in some degree, I'm afraid--eh? Well, well, you've
lived too much alone--you've got into the way of brooding; the
habit of social life will strengthen you."
"I hope so, Denzil."
"Oh, undoubtedly! One more little drop of wine before the coffee.
Nonsense! You need stimulus; your vitality is low. I shall prescribe
for you henceforth. Merciful heavens! how that French woman does
talk! A hundred words to the minute for the last half hour."
A letter had arrived for him at the hotel in his absence. It was
from Mr. Hornibrook's agent, announcing that the house at Polterham
was now vacated, and that Mr. Quarrier might take possession just as
soon as he chose.
"_That's_ all right!" he exclaimed, after reading it to Lilian. "Now