Part 4 out of 6
His rooms were in readiness for him, and whilst the attendant
prepared a light supper, he examined some letters which had arrived
that evening. Two of the envelopes contained pressing invitations--
with reference to accounts rendered and re-rendered; he glanced over
the writing and threw them into the fire. The third missive was more
interesting; it came from a lady of high social position at whose
house he had formerly been a frequent guest. "Why do we never see
you?" she wrote. "They tell me yen have passed the winter in
England; why should you avoid your friends who have been condemned
to the same endurance? I am always at home on Thursday."
He held the dainty little note, and mused over it. At one time the
sight of this handwriting had quickened his pulses with a delicious
hope; now it stimulated his gloomy reflections. Such a revival of
the past was very unseasonable.
Before going to bed he wrote several letters. They were
announcements of his coming marriage--brief, carelessly worded,
giving as little information as possible.
The next morning was taken up with business. He saw, among other
people, his friend Stark, the picture-collecting lawyer. Stark had
letters from Polterham which assured him that the Liberals were
confident of victory.
"Confounded pity that Quarrier just got the start of you!" he
exclaimed. "You could have kept that seat for the rest of your
"Better as it is," was the cheerful reply. "I should have been
heartily sick of the business by now."
"There's no knowing. So you marry Miss Mumbray? An excellent choice,
I have no doubt. Hearty congratulations!--Oh, by-the-bye, Jacobs &
Burrows have a capital Greuze--do look in if you are passing."
Glazzard perceived clearly enough that the lawyer regarded this
marriage just as Quarrier did, the _pisaller_ of a disappointed and
embarrassed man. There was no more interest in his career; he had
sunk finally into the commonplace.
At three o'clock he was at home again, and without occupation. The
calendar on his writing-table reminded him that it was Thursday.
After all, he might as well respond to the friendly invitation of
last evening, and say good-bye to his stately acquaintances in
Grosvenor Square. He paid a little attention to costume, and
presently went forth.
In this drawing-room he had been wont to shine with the double
radiance of artist and critic. Here he had talked pictures with the
fashionable painters of the day; music with men and women of
resonant name. The accomplished hostess was ever ready with that
smile she bestowed only upon a few favourites, and her daughter--
well, he had misunderstood, and so came to grief one evening of
mid-season. A rebuff, the gentlest possible, but leaving no
scintilla of hope. At the end of the same season she gave her hand
to Sir Something Somebody, the diplomatist.
And to-day the hostess was as kind as ever, smiled quite in the old
way, held his hand a moment longer than was necessary. A dozen
callers were in the room, he had no opportunity for private speech,
and went away without having mentioned the step he was about to
take. Better so; he might have spoken indiscreetly, unbecomingly, in
a tone which would only have surprised and shocked that gracious
He reached his rooms again with brain and heart in fiery tumult.
Serena Mumbray!--he was tempted to put an end to his life in some
brutal fashion, such as suited with his debasement.
Another letter had arrived during his absence. An hour passed before
he saw it, but when his eye at length fell on the envelope he was
roused to attention. He took out a sheet of blue note-paper, covered
with large, clerkly writing.
"We have at length been able to trace the person
concerning whom you are in communication with us. He is at present
living in Bristol, and we think is likely to remain there for a
short time yet. Will you favour us with a call, or make an
"We have the honour to be, dear Sir,
"TULKS & CROWE."
He paced the room, holding the letter behind his back. It was more
than three weeks since the investigation referred to had been
committed to Messrs. Tulks & Crowe, private inquiry agents; and long
before this he had grown careless whether they succeeded or not. An
impulse of curiosity; nothing more. Well, yes; a fondness for
playing with secrets, a disposition to get power into his hands--
excited to activity just after a long pleasant talk with Lilian. He
was sorry this letter had come; yet it made him smile, which perhaps
nothing else would have done just now.
"To be weak is miserable, doing or suffering." The quotation was
often in his mind, and he had never felt its force so profoundly as
this afternoon. The worst of it was, he did not believe himself a
victim of inherent weakness; rather of circumstances which
persistently baffled him. But it came to the same thing. Was he
never to know the joy of vigorous action?--of asserting himself to
some notable result?
He could do so now, if he chose. In his hand were strings, which, if
he liked to pull them, would topple down a goodly edifice, with
uproar and dust and amazement indescribable: so slight an effort, so
incommensurable an outcome! He had it in his power to shock the
conventional propriety of a whole town, and doubtless, to some
extent, of all England. What a vast joke that would be--to look at
no other aspect of the matter! The screamings of imbecile morality
--the confusion of party zeal--the roaring of indignant pulpits!
He laughed outright.
But no; of course it was only an amusing dream. Ho was not malignant
enough. The old-fashioned sense of honour was too strong in him.
Pooh! He would go and dine, and then laugh away his evening
somewhere or other.
Carefully he burnt the letter. To-morrow he would look in at the
office of those people, hear their story, and so have done with it.
Next morning he was still in the same mind. He went to Tulks &
Crowe's, and spent about an hour closeted with the senior member of
that useful firm. "A benevolent interest--anxious to help the poor
devil if possible--miserable story, that of the marriage--was to
be hoped that the girl would be persuaded to acknowledge him, and
help him to lead an honest life--no idea where she was." The
information he received was very full and satisfactory; on the spot
he paid for it, and issued into the street again with tolerably easy
To-morrow he must run down to Polterham again. How to pass the rest
of to. day? Pressing business was all off his hands, and he did not
care to look up any of his acquaintances; he was not in the mood for
talk. Uncertain about the future, he had decided to warehouse the
furniture, pictures, and so on, that belonged to him. Perhaps it
would be well if he occupied himself in going through his papers--
makicg a selection for the fire.
He did so, until midway in the afternoon. Perusal of old letters
will not generally conduce to cheerfulness, and Glazzard once more
felt his spirits sink, his brain grow feverishly active. Within
reach of where he sat was a railway time-table; he took it up,
turned to the Great Western line, pondered, finally looked at his
At two minutes to five he alighted from a cab at Paddington Station
--rushed, bag in hand, to the booking-office--caught the Bristol
train just as the guard had signalled for starting.
He was at Bristol soon after eight. The town being strange ground to
him, he bade a cabman drive him to a good hotel, where he dined.
Such glimpse as he had caught of the streets did not invite him
forth, but neither could he sit unoccupied; as the weather was fair,
be rambled for an hour or two. His mind was in a condition difficult
to account for; instead of dwelling upon the purpose that had
brought him hither, it busied itself with all manner of thoughts and
fancies belonging to years long past. He recalled the first lines of
a poem he had once attempted; it was suggested by a reading of
Coleridge--and there, possibly, lay the point of association.
Coleridge: then he fell upon literary reminiscences. Where, by the
way, was St. Mary Redcliffe? He put the inquiry to a passer-by, and
was directed. By dreary thoroughfares he came into view of the
church, and stood gazing at the spire, dark against a blotchy sky.
Then he mocked at himself for acting as if he had an interest in
Chatterton, when in truth the name signified boredom to him. Oh,
these English provincial towns! What an atmosphere of deadly dulness
hung over them all! And people were born, and lived, and died in
He made his way back to the hotel, drank a glass of hot whisky, and
went to bed.
After a sound sleep he awoke in the grey dawn, wondered awhile where
he could be, then asked himself why on earth he had come here. It
didn't matter much; he could strike off by the Midland to Polterham,
and be there before noon. And again he slept.
When he had breakfasted, he called to the waiter and asked him how
far it was to that part of the town called Hotwells. Learning that
the road thither would bring him near to Clifton, he nodded with
satisfaction. Clifton was a place to be seen; on a bright morning
like this it would be pleasant to walk over the Downs and have a
look at the gorge of the Avon.
A cab was called. With one foot raised he stood in uncertainty,
whilst the driver asked him twice whither they were to go. At length
he said "Hotwells," and named a street in that locality. He lay back
and closed his eyes, remaining thus until the cab stopped.
Hastily he looked about him. He was among poor houses, and near to
docks; the masts of great ships appeared above roofs. With a quick
movement he drew a coin from his pocket, tossed it up, caught it
between his hands. The driver had got down and was standing at the
"This the place? Thanks; I'll get out."
He looked at the half-crown, smiled, and handed it to the cabman.
In a few minutes he stood before an ugly but decent house, which had
a card in the window intimating that lodgings were here to let. His
knock brought a woman to the door.
"I think Mr. North lives here?"
"Yes, sir, he do live yere," the woman answered, in a simple tone.
"Would you wish for to see him?"
"Please ask him if he could see a gentleman on business--Mr.
"But he ben't in, sir, not just now. He"----she broke off and
pointed up the street. "Why, there he come, I declare!"
"The tall man?"
"That be he, sir."
Glazzard moved towards the person indicated, a man of perhaps
thirty, with a good figure, a thin, sallow face, clean-shaven, and
in rather shabby clothes. He went close up to him and said gravely:
"Mr. North, I have just called to see you on business."
The young man suppressed a movement of uneasiness, drew in his lank
cheeks, and looked steadily at the speaker.
"What name?" he asked, curtly, with the accent which represents some
degree of liberal education.
"Mr. Marks. I should like to speak to you in private."
"Has any one sent you?"
"No, I have taken the trouble to find where you were living. It's
purely my own affair. I think it will be to your interest to talk
The other still eyed him suspiciously, but did not resist.
"I haven't a sitting-room," he said, "and we can't talk here. We can
walk on a little, if you like."
"I'm a stranger. Is there a quiet spot anywhere about here?"
"If we jump on this omnibus that's coming, it'll take us to the
Suspension Bridge--Clifton, you know. Plenty of quiet spots about
The suggestion was accepted. On the omnibus they conversed as any
casual acquaintances might have done. Glazzard occasionally
inspected his companion's features, which were not vulgar, yet not
pleasing. The young man had a habit of sucking in his cheeks, and of
half closing his eyes as if he suffered from weak sight; his limbs
twitched now and then, and he constantly fingered his throat.
"A fine view," remarked Glazzard, as they came near to the great
cliffs; "but the bridge spoils it, of course."
"Do you think so? Not to my mind. I always welcome the signs of
Glazzard looked at him with curiosity, and the speaker threw back
his head in a self-conscious, conceited way.
"Picturesqueness is all very well," he added, "but it very often
means hardships to human beings. I don't ask whether a country looks
beautiful, but what it does for the inhabitants."
"Very right and proper," assented Glazzard, with a curl of the lip.
"I know very well," pursued the moralist, "that civilization doesn't
necessarily mean benefit to the class which ought to be considered
first. But that's another question. It _ought_ to benefit them, and
eventually it must."
"You lean towards Socialism?"
"Christian Socialism if you know what that signifies."
"I have an idea. A very improving doctrine, no doubt."
They dismounted, and began the ascent of the hillside by a path
which wound among trees. Not far from the summit they came to a
bench which afforded a good view.
"Suppose we stop here," Glazzard suggested. "It doesn't look as if
we should be disturbed."
"As you please."
"By-the-bye, you have abbreviated your name, I think?"
The other again looked uneasy and clicked with his tongue.
"You had better say what you want with me, Mr. Marks," he replied,
"My business is with Arthur James Northway. If you are he, I think I
can do you a service."
"Why should you do me a service?"
"From a motive I will explain if all else is satisfactory."
"How did you find out where I was?"
"By private means which are at my command." Glazzard adopted the
tone of a superior, but was still suave. "My information is pretty
complete. Naturally, you are still looking about for employment. I
can't promise you that, but I daresay you wouldn't object to earn a
"If it's anything--underhand, I'll have nothing to do with it."
"Nothing you can object to. In fact, it's an affair that concerns
you more than any one else.--I believe you can't find any trace of
Northway turned his head, and peered at his neighbour with narrow
"It's about _her_, is it?"
"Yes, about her."
Strangely enough, Glazzard could not feel as if this conversation
greatly interested him. He kept gazing at the Suspension Bridge, at
the woods beyond, at the sluggish river, and thought more of the
view than of his interlocutor. The last words fell from his lips
"You know where she is?" Northway inquired.
"Quite well. I have seen her often of late--from a distance. To
prove I am not mistaken, look at this portrait and tell me if you
recognize the person?"
He took from an inner pocket a mutilated photograph; originally of
cabinet size, it was cut down to an oval, so that only the head
remained. The portrait had been taken in London between Lilian's
return from Paris and her arrival at Polterham. Glazzard was one of
the few favoured people who received a copy.
Northway examined it and drew in his cheeks, breathing hard.
"There's no mistake, I think?"
The reply was a gruff negative.
"I suppose you do care about discovering her?"
The answer was delayed. Glazzard read it, however, m the man's
countenance, which expressed various emotions.
"She has married again--eh?"
"First, let me ask you another question. Have you seen her
"Yes, I have."
"With what result?"
"They profess to know nothing about her. Of course, I don't believe
"But you may," said Glazzard, calmly. "They speak the truth, no
doubt. From them you must hope for no information. In all
likelihood, you might seek her for the rest of your life and never
come upon her track."
"Then let me know what you propose."
"I offer to tell you where she is, and how situated, and to enable
you to claim her. But you, for your part, must undertake to do this
in a certain way, which I will describe when everything is ready, a
week or so hence. As I have said, I am willing to reward you for
agreeing to act as I direct. My reasons you shall understand when I
go into the other details. You will see that I have no kind of
selfish object in view--in fact, that I am quite justified in what
looks like vulgar plotting."
Glazzard threw out the words with a careless condescension, keeping
his eyes on the landscape.
"I'll take back the portrait, if you please."
He restored it to his pocket, and watched Northway's features, which
were expressive of mental debate.
"At present," he went on, "I can do no more than give you an idea of
what has been going on. Your wife has not been rash enough to marry
a second time; but she is supposed to be married to a man of wealth
and position--is living publicly as his wife. They have deceived
every one who knows them."
"Except you, it seems," remarked Northway, with a gleam from between
"Except me--but that doesn't concern you. Now, you see that your
wife has done nothing illegal; you can doubtless divorce her, but
have no other legal remedy. I mention this because it might occur to
you that--you will excuse me--that the situation is a profitable
one. It is nothing of the kind. On the threat of exposure they would
simply leave England at once. Nothing could induce them to part--
be quite sure of that. The man, as I said, has a high position, and
you might be tempted to suppose that--to speak coarsely--he
would pay blackmail. Don't think it for a moment. He is far too wise
to persevere in what would be a lost game; they would at once go
abroad. It is only on the stage that men consent to pay for the
keeping of a secret which is quite certain not to be kept."
Northway had followed with eager attention, pinching his long throat
and drawing in his cheeks.
"Well, what do you want me to do?" he asked.
"To remain hero in Bristol for a week or so longer. I will then
telegraph to you, and tell you where to meet me."
"Is it far from here?"
"A couple of hours' journey, or so. If you will allow me, I will pay
your fare at once."
He took out a sovereign, which Northway, after a moment's
"Do you take any interest in the elections?" Glazzard asked.
"Not much," replied the other, reassuming his intellectual air. "One
party is as worthless as the other from my point of view."
"I'm glad to hear that--you'll understand why when we meet again.
And, indeed, I quite agree with you."
"Politics are no use nowadays," pursued Northway. "The questions of
the time are social. We want a party that is neither Liberal nor
"Exactly.--Well, now, may I depend upon you?"
"I'll come when you send for me."
"Very well. I have your address."
He stood up, hesitated a moment, and offered his hand, which
Northway took without raising his eyes.
"I shall walk on into Clifton; so here we say good-bye for the
present.--A week or ten days."
"I suppose you won't alter your mind, Mr.--Mr. Marks?"
"Not the least fear of that. I have a public duty to discharge."
So speaking, and with a peculiar smile on his lips, Glazzard walked
away. Northway watched him and seemed tempted to follow, but at
length went down the hill.
Disappointed in his matrimonial project, the Rev. Scatchard Vialls
devoted himself with acrid zeal to the interests of the Conservative
party. He was not the most influential of the Polterham clerics, for
women in general rather feared than liked him; a sincere ascetic, he
moved but awkwardly in the regions of tea and tattle, and had an
uncivil habit of speaking what he thought the truth without regard
to time, place, or person. Some of his sermons had given offence,
with the result that several ladies betook themselves to gentler
preachers. But the awe inspired by his religious enthusiasm was
practically useful now that he stood forward as an assailant of the
political principles held in dislike by most Polterham church-goers.
There was a little band of district-visitors who stood by him the
more resolutely for the coldness with which worldly women regarded
him; and these persons, with their opportunities of making interest
in poor households, constituted a party agency not to be despised.
They worked among high and low with an unscrupulous energy to which
it is not easy to do justice. Wheedling or menacing--doing
everything indeed but argue--they blended the cause of Mr.
Welwyn-Baker and that of the Christian religion so inextricably that
the wives of humble electors came to regard the Tory candidate as
Christ's vicegerent upon earth, and were convinced that their
husbands' salvation depended upon a Tory vote.
One Sunday, Mr. Vialls took for his text, "But rather seek ye the
kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you." He
began by pointing out how very improper it would be for a clergyman
to make the pulpit an ally of the hustings; far indeed be it from
him to discourse in that place of party questions--to speak one
word which should have for its motive the advancements of any
electioneering cause. But in these times of social discontent and
upheaval it must not be forgotten that eternal verities were at
stake. There were men--there were multitudes, alas! who made it
the object of their life-long endeavour to oust Christianity from
the world; if not avowedly, at all events in fact. Therefore would
he describe to them in brief, clear sentences what really was
implied in a struggle between the parties commonly known as
Conservative and Liberal. He judged no individual; he spoke only of
principles, of a spirit, an attitude. The designs of Russia, the
troubles in Ireland--of these things he knew little and recked
less; they were "party shibboleths," and did not concern a Christian
minister in his pulpit. But deeper lay the interests for which
parties nowadays were in truth contending. It had come to this: are
we to believe, or are we _not_ to believe that the "kingdom of God"
must have precedence of worldly goods? The working classes of this
country--ah, how sad to have to speak with condemnation of the
poor!--were being led to think that the only object worth striving
after was an improvement of their material condition. Marvellous to
say, they were encouraged in this view by people whom Providence had
blessed with all the satisfactions that earth can give. When the
wealthy, the educated thus repudiated the words of Christ, what
could be expected of those whom supreme Goodness has destined to a
subordinate lot? No! material improvement was _not_ the first thing,
even for those unhappy people (victims for the most part of their
own improvident or vicious habits) who had scarcely bread to eat and
raiment wherewith to clothe themselves. Let them seek the kingdom of
God, and these paltry, temporal things shall surely be added unto
This sermon was printed at the office of the _Polterham Mercury_,
and distributed freely throughout the town. He had desired no such
thing, said Mr. Vialls, but the pressure of friends was
irresistible. In private, meanwhile, he spoke fiercely against the
Radical candidate, and never with such acrimony as in Mrs. Mumbray's
drawing-room when Serena was present. One afternoon he stood up,
tea-cup in hand, and, as his habit was, delivered a set harangue on
the burning topic.
"In one respect," he urged, after many other accusations, "I
consider that Mr. Quarrier is setting the very worst, the most
debasing, the most demoralizing example to these working folk, whose
best interests he professes to have at heart. I am assured (and the
witness of my own eyes in one instance warrants me in giving credit
to the charge) that he constantly enters public-houses, taverns,
even low dram-shops, to satisfy his thirst for strong liquor in the
very face of day, before the eyes of any one who may happen to be
passing. This is simply abominable If an honourable man has one duty
--one social duty--more incumbent upon him than another, it is to
refrain from setting an example of intemperance."
Serena had listened thus far with a look of growing irritation. At
length she could resist no longer the impulse to speak out.
"But surely, Mr. Vialls, you don't charge Mr. Quarrier with
"I do, Miss Mumbray," replied the clergyman, sternly. "Intemperance
does not necessarily imply drunkenness. It is intemperate to enter
public-houses at all hours and in all places, even if the liquor
partaken of has no obvious effect upon the gait or speech of the
drinker. I maintain"----
"Mr. Quarrier does not go about as you would have us believe."
"Serena!" interfered her mother. "Do you contradict Mr. Vialls?"
"Yes, mother, I do, and every one ought to who _knows_ that he is
exaggerating. I have heard this calumny before, and I have been told
how it has arisen. Mr. Quarrier takes a glass of beer when he is
having a long country walk; and why he shouldn't quench his thirst
I'm sure I can't understand."
"Miss Mumbray," said the clergyman, glaring at her, yet affecting
forbearance, "you seem to forget that our cottagers are not so
inhospitable as to refuse a glass of water to the weary pedestrian
who knocks at their door."
"I don't forget it, Mr. Vialls," replied Serena, who was trembling
at her own boldness, but found a pleasure in persevering. "And I
know very well what sort of water one generally gets at cottages
about here. I remember the family at Rickstead that died one after
another of their temperance beverage."
"Forgive me! That is not at all to the point. Granting that the
quality of the water is suspicious, are there not pleasant little
shops where lemonade can be obtained? But no; it is _not_ merely to
quench a natural thirst that Mr. Quarrier has recourse to those
pestilent vendors of poison; the drinking of strong liquor has
become a tyrant-habit with him."
"I deny it, Mr. Vialls!" exclaimed the girl, almost angrily. (Mrs.
Mumbray in vain tried to interpose, and the other ladies present
were partly shocked, partly amused, into silence.) "If so, then my
father is a victim to the habit of drink--and so is Mr.
This was laying a hand upon the Ark. Mrs. Mumbray gave a little
scream, and several "Oh's!" were heard. Mr. Vialls shook his head
and smiled with grim sadness.
"My dear young lady, I fear we shall not understand each other. I am
far from being one of those who deny to ladies the logical faculty,
"But you feel that I am right, and that party prejudice has carried
you too far!" interrupted Serena, rising from her chair. "I had
better go away, or I shall say disagreeable things about the
Conservatives. I am not one of them, and I should like that to be
She walked quietly from the room, and there ensued an awkward
"Poor Serena!" breathed Mrs. Mumbray, with a deep sigh. "She has
fallen under the influence of Mrs. Quarrier--a most dangerous
person. How such things come to pass I cannot understand."
Mrs. Tenterden's deep voice chimed in:
"We must certainly guard our young people against Mrs. Quarrier.
From the look of her, no one could have guessed what she would turn
out. The idea of so young a woman going to people's houses and
"Oh, I think nothing of that!" remarked a lady who particularly
wished to remind the company that she was still youthful. "I canvass
myself; it's quite the proper thing for ladies to do. But I'm told
she has rather an impertinent way of speaking to every one who
doesn't fall down and worship her husband."
"Mrs. Lester," broke in the grave voice of the clergyman, "I trust
you will pardon me, but you have inadvertently made use of a phrase
which is, or should be, consecrated by a religious significance."
The lady apologized rather curtly, and Mr. Vialls made a stiff bow.
At this same moment the subject of their conversation was returning
home from a bold expedition into the camp of the enemy. Encouraged
by the personal friendliness that had been shown her in the family
of Mr. Samuel Quarrier, Lilian conceived and nourished the hope that
it was within her power to convert the sturdy old Tory himself.
Samuel made a joke of this, and entertained himself with a pretence
of lending ear to her arguments. This afternoon he had allowed her
to talk to him for a long time. Lilian's sweetness was irresistible,
and she came back in high spirits with report of progress. Denzil,
who had just been badgered by a deputation of voters who wished to
discover his mind on seven points of strictly non-practical
politics, listened with idle amusement.
"Dear girl," he said presently, "the old fellow is fooling you t You
can no more convert him than you could the Dalai-Lama to
"But he speaks quite seriously, Denzil! He owns that he doesn't like
"Don't waste your time and your patience. It's folly, I assure you.
When you are gone he explodes with laughter."
Lilian gazed at him for a moment with wide eyes, then burst into
"Good heavens! what is the matter with you, Lily?" cried Denzil,
jumping up. "Come, come, this kind of thing won't do! You are
overtaxing yourself. You are getting morbidly excited."
It was true enough, and Lilian was herself conscious of it, but she
obeyed an impulse from which there seemed no way of escape. Her
conscience and her fears would not leave her at peace; every now and
then she found herself starting at unusual sounds, trembling in
mental agitation if any one approached her with an unwonted look,
dreading the arrival of the post, the sight of a newspaper, faces in
the street. Then she hastened to the excitement of canvassing, as
another might have turned to more vulgar stimulants. Certainly her
health had suffered. She could not engage in quiet study, still less
could rest her mind in solitary musing, as in the old days.
Denzil seated himself by her on the sofa.
"If you are to suffer in this way, little girl, I shall repent
sorely that ever I went in for politics."
"How absurd of me! I can't think why I behave so ridiculously!"
But still she sobbed, resting her head against him.
"I have an idea," he said at length, rendered clairvoyant by his
affection, "that after next week you will feel much easier in your
"After next week?"
"Yes; when Glazzard is married and gone away."
She would not confess that he was right, but her denials
strengthened his surmise.
"I can perfectly understand it, Lily. It certainly was unfortunate;
and if it had been any one but Glazzard, I might myself have been
wishing the man away. But you know as well as I do that Glazzard
would not breathe a syllable."
"Not even to his wife?" she whispered.
"Not even to her! I assure you"--he smiled--"men have no
difficulty in keeping important secrets, Samson notwithstanding.
Glazzard would think himself for ever dishonoured. But in a week's
time they will be gone; and I shouldn't wonder if they remain abroad
for years. So brighten up, dearest dear, and leave Sam alone; he's a
cynical old fellow, past hope of mending his ways. See more of
Molly; she does you good. And, by-the-bye, it's time you called on
the Catesbys. They will always be very glad to see you."
This family of Catesby was one of the few really distinguished in
the neighbourhood. Colonel Catesby, a long-retired warrior, did not
mingle much with local society, but with his wife and daughter he
had appeared at Denzil's first political dinner; they all "took to"
their hostess, and had since manifested this liking in sundry
Indeed, Lilian was become a social success--that is to say, with
people who were at all capable of appreciating her. Herein, as in
other things, she had agreeably surprised Denzil. He had resigned
himself to seeing her remain a loving, intelligent, but very
unambitious woman; of a sudden she proved equal to all the social
claims connected with his candidature--unless the efforts, greater
than appeared, were undermining her health. Having learned to trust
herself in conversation, she talked with a delightful blending of
seriousness and gentle merriment. Her culture declared itself in
every thought; there was much within the ordinary knowledge of
people trained to the world that she did not know, but the
simplicity resulting from this could never be confused with want of
education or of tact. When the Catesbys made it evident that they
approved her, Quarrier rejoiced exceedingly; he was flattered in his
deepest sensibilities, and felt that henceforth nothing essential
would be wanting to his happiness--whether Polterham returned him
That he would be returned, he had no doubt. The campaign proceeded
gloriously. Whilst Mr. Gladstone flowed on for ever in Midlothian
rhetoric, Denzil lost no opportunity of following his leader, and
was often astonished at the ease with which he harangued as long as
Polterham patience would endure him. To get up and make a two hours'
speech no longer cost him the least effort; he played with the stock
subjects of eloquence, sported among original jokes and catch-words,
burned through perorations with the joy of an improvisatore in
happiest mood. The _Examiner_ could not report him for lack of
space; the _Mercury_ complained of a headache caused by this
"blatant youthfulness striving to emulate garrulous senility"--a
phrase which moved Denzil to outrageous laughter. And on the whole
he kept well within such limits of opinion as Polterham approved.
Now and then Mr. Chown felt moved by the spirit to interrogate him
as to the "scope and bearing and significance" of an over-bold
expression, but the Radical section was too delighted with a
prospect of victory to indulge in "heckling," and the milder
Progressives considered their candidate as a man of whom Polterham
might be proud, a man pretty sure to "make his mark" at Westminster.
In the hostile ranks there was a good deal of loud talk and frequent
cheering, but the speeches were in general made by lieutenants, and
the shouts seemed intended to make up for the defective eloquence of
their chief. Mr. Welwyn-Baker was too old and too stout and too
shaky for the toil of personal electioneering. He gave a few dinners
at his big house three miles away, and he addressed (laconically)
one or two select meetings; for the rest, his name and fame had to
suffice. There was no convincing him that his seat could possibly be
in danger. He smiled urbanely over the reports of Quarrier's
speeches, called his adversary "a sharp lad," and continued through
all the excitement of the borough to conduct himself with this
"I vow and protest," said Mr. Mumbray, in a confidential ear, "that
if it weren't for the look of the thing, I would withhold my vote
altogether! W.-B. is m his dotage. And to think that we might have
put new life into the party! Bah!"
Conservative canvassers did not fall to make use of thee fact that
Mr. Welwyn-Baker had always been regardful of the poor. His
alms-houses were so pleasantly situated and so tastefully designed
that many Polterham people wished they were for lease on ordinary
terms. The Infirmary was indebted to his annual beneficence, and the
Union had to thank him--especially through this past winter--for
a lightening of its burden. Aware of these things, Lilian never felt
able to speak harshly against the old Tory. In theory she
acknowledged that the relief of a few families could not weigh
against principles which enslaved a whole population (thus Quarrier
put it), but her heart pleaded for the man who allayed suffering at
his gates; and could Mr. Chown have heard the admissions she made to
Welwyn-Baker's advocates, he would have charged her with criminal
weakness, if not with secret treachery. She herself had as yet been
able to do very little for the poor of the town; with the clergy she
had no intimate relations (church-going was for her and Denzil only
a politic conformity); and Polterham was not large enough to call
for the organization of special efforts. But her face invited the
necessitous; in the by-ways she had been appealed to for charity,
with results which became known among people inclined to beg. So it
happened that she was one day led on a benevolent mission into the
poorest part of the town, and had an opportunity of indulging her
This was in the afternoon. Between nine and ten that evening, as
Denzil and she sat together in the library (for once they were alone
and at peace), a servant informed her that Mrs. Wade wished to speak
for a moment on urgent business. She went out and found her friend
in the drawing-room.
"Can you give me a few minutes?"
"As long as ever you like! No one is here, for a wonder. Do you wish
to talk privately, or will you come into the study? We were sitting
"It's only politics."
"Oh, then come."
Quarrier would rather have been left in quiet over the proof-sheets
of his book--it was already going through the press--but he
welcomed the visitor with customary friendliness.
"Capital speech of Hartington's yesterday."
"Very good answer to Cross. What do you think of John Bright and the
"Oh," laughed Denzil, "he'll have to talk a good deal before he
persuades them that temperance is money in their pockets! I don't
see the good of that well-intentioned sophistry. But then, you know,
I belong to the habitual drunkards! You have heard that Scatchard
Vialls so represents me to all and sundry?"
"I should proceed against him for slander."
"On the contrary, I think it does me good. All the honest topers
will rally to me, and the sober Liberals will smile indulgently. Sir
Wilfred Lawson would long ago have been stamped out as a bore of the
first magnitude but for his saving humour."
Mrs. Wade presently made known her business; but with a preface
which disturbed the nerves of both her listeners.
"The enemy have a graver charge against you. I happened, an hour
ago, to catch a most alarming rumour. Mr. Quarrier, your wife will
be your ruin!"
Notwithstanding the tone of burlesque, Lilian turned pale, and
Quarrier stood frowning. Mrs. Wade examined them both, her bright
eyes glancing quickly from one face to the other and back again. She
did not continue, until Quarrier exclaimed impatiently:
"What is it now?"
"Nothing less than an accusation of bribery and corruption."
Relief was audible in Denzil's laugh.
"It's reported," Mrs. Wade went on, "that Mrs. Quarrier has been
distributing money--money in handfuls, through half-a-dozen
streets down by the river."
"You don't really mean"----began Lilian, who could not even yet
quite command her voice.
"It's positively going about! I thought it my duty to come and tell
you at once. What is the foundation?"
"I warned you, Lily," said Denzil, good-humouredly. "The fact is,
Mrs. Wade, she gave half-a-crown to some old woman in Water Lane
this afternoon. It was imprudent, of course. Who told you about it?"
"Mr. Rook, the stationer. It was talked of up and down High Street,
he assures me. We may laugh, but this kind of misrepresentation goes
a long way."
"Let the blackguards make the most of it!" cried Quarrier. "I have
as good things in store for them. One of Jobson's workmen told me
this morning that he and his fellows were being distinctly
intimidated; Jobson has told them several times that if the Radicals
won, work would be scarce, and that the voters would have only
themselves to thank for it. And Thomas Barker has been promising
lowered rents at Lady-day."
"But who _could_ have told such falsehoods about me?" asked Lilian.
"Some old woman who didn't get the half-crown, no doubt," replied
"Those poor creatures I went to see have no vote."
"Oh, but handfuls of money, you know! It's the impression made on
the neighbourhood. Seriously, they are driven to desperate
resources; and I believe there _is_ a good deal of intimidation
going on--especially on the part of district-visitors. Mrs.
Alexander told me of several instances. And the wives (of course)
are such wretched cowards! That great big carpenter, East, is under
his wife's thumb, and she has been imploring him not to vote Liberal
for fear of consequences--she sits weeping, and talking about the
workhouse. Contemptible idiot! It would gratify me extremely to see
her really going to the workhouse."
"And pray," asked Denzil, with a laugh, "what would be the result of
giving the franchise to such women?"
"The result _might_ be that, in time to come, there wouldn't be so
many of them."
"In time to come--possibly. In the meanwhile, send their girls to
school to learn a wholesome contempt for their mothers."
"Well, it sounds brutal, but it's very good sense. All progress
involves disagreeable necessities."
Mrs. Wade was looking about the room, smiling, absent. She rose
"I mustn't spoil your one quiet evening. How do the proofs go on?"
"Would you care to take a batch of them?" asked Quarrier. "These are
revises--you might be able to make a useful suggestion."
She hesitated, but at length held out her band.
"You have rather a long walk," said Lilian. "I hope it's fine."
"No; it drizzles."
"Oh, how kind of you to take so much trouble on our account!"
Mrs. Wade went out into the darkness. It was as disagreeable a night
as the time of year could produce; black overhead, slimy under foot,
with a cold wind to dash the colder rain in one's face. The walk
home took more than half an hour, and she entered her cottage much
fatigued. Without speaking to the girl who admitted her, she went
upstairs to take off her out-of-door things; on coming down to the
sitting-room, she found her lamp lit, her fire burning, and supper
on the table--a glass of milk and some slices of bread and butter.
Her friends would have felt astonishment and compassion had they
learned how plain and slight was the fare that supported her; only
by reducing her household expenditure to the strict minimum could
she afford to dress in the manner of a lady, supply herself with a
few papers and books, and keep up the appearances without which it
is difficult to enjoy any society at all.
To-night she ate and drank with a bitter sense of her poverty and
loneliness. Before her mind's eye was the picture of Denzil
Quarrier's study--its luxury, brightness, wealth of volumes; and
Denzil's face made an inseparable part of the scene. That face had
never ceased to occupy her imagination since the evening of his
lecture at the Institute. Its haunting power was always greatest
when she sat here alone in the stillness. This little room, in which
she had known the pleasures of independence and retirement, seemed
now but a prison. It was a mean dwelling, fit only for labouring
folk; the red blind irritated her sight, and she had to turn away
What a hope had come to her of a sudden last autumn! How recklessly
she had indulged it, and how the disappointment rankled!
A disappointment which she could not accept with the resignation due
to fate. At first she had done so; but then a singular surmise crept
into her thoughts--a suspicion which came she knew not whence--
and thereafter was no rest from fantastic suggestions. Her surmise
did not remain baseless; evidence of undeniable strength came to its
support, yet all was so vague--so unserviceable.
She opened the printed sheets that Quarrier had given her and for a
few minutes read with interest. Then her eyes and thoughts wandered.
Her servant knocked and entered, asking if she should remove the
supper-tray. In looking up at the girl, Mrs. Wade noticed red eyes
and other traces of weeping.
"What is the matter?" she asked, sharply. "Have you any news?"
The girl answered with a faltering negative. She, too, had her
unhappy story. A Polterham mechanic who made love to her lost his
employment, went to London with hopes and promises, and now for more
than half a year had given no sign of his existence. Mrs. Wade had
been wont to speak sympathetically on the subject, but to-night it
excited her anger.
"Don't be such a simpleton, Annie! If only you knew anything of
life, you would be glad of what has happened. You are free again,
and freedom is the one thing in the world worth having. To sit and
cry because--I'm ashamed of you!"
Surprise and misery caused the tears to break forth again.
"Go to bed, and go to sleep!" said the mistress, harshly. "If ever
you _are_ married, you'll remember what I said, and look back to the
time when you knew nothing worse than silly girlish troubles. Have
you no pride? It's girls like you that make men think so lightly of
all women--despise us--say we are unfit for anything but cooking
and cradle-rocking! If you go on in this way you must leave me; I
won't have a silly, moping creature before my eyes, to make me lose
The girl took up the tray and hurried off. Her mistress sat till
late in. the night, now reading a page of the proofs, now brooding
with dark countenance.
The polling would take place on the last day of March. On the day
previous to that of nomination Glazzard and Serena Mumbray were to
be married. Naturally, not at Mr. Vialls' church; they made choice
of St. Luke's, which was blessed with a mild, intellectual
incumbent. Mrs. Mumbray, consistently obstinate on this one point,
refused to be present at the ceremony.
"There will be no need of me," she said to Serena. "Since you choose
to be married as if you were ashamed of it, your father's presence
will be quite enough. I have always looked forward to very different
things; but when were _my_ wishes and hopes consulted? I am not
angry with you; we shall part on perfectly good terms, and I shall
wish you every happiness. I hope to hear from you occasionally. But
I cannot be a witness of what I so strongly disapprove."
William Glazzard--who saw nothing amiss in his brother's choice of
a wife, and was greatly relieved by the thought of Serena's property
--would readily have gone to the church, but it was decided, in
deference to the bride's wish, that Ivy should come in his stead.
Ivy had felt herself neglected lately. Since the announcement that
her uncle Eustace was to marry Serena, she had seen very little of
the friend with whom alone she could enjoy intimate converse. But on
the eve of the wedding-day they spent an hour or two together in
Serena's room. Both were in a quiet mood, thoughtful rather than
"This day week," said Serena, breaking a long silence, "I shall be
somewhere in Sicily--perhaps looking at Mount Etna. The change
comes none to soon. I was getting into a thoroughly bad state of
mind. Before long you would have refused to associate with me."
"I think not, dear."
"If not, then I should have done you harm--and that would be a
burden on my conscience. I had begun to feel a pleasure in saying
and doing things that I believed to be wrong. You never had that
Ivy looked up with wonder in her gentle, dreamy eyes.
"It must be very strange."
"I have thought about it, and I believe it comes from ignorance. You
know, perhaps what I said and did wasn't really wrong, after all--
if one only understood."
The listener was puzzled.
"But we won't talk about it. Before long I shall understand so many
things, and then you shall have the benefit of my experience. I
believe I am going to be very happy."
It was said as if on a sudden impulse, with a tremulous movement of
"I hope and believe so, dear," replied the other, warmly.
"And you--I don't like to think of you being so much alone.
There's a piece of advice I should like to give you. Try and make
friends with Mrs. Quarrier."
"Yes--I have a good reason--I think she would suit you exactly.
I had a long talk with her about a fortnight ago, and she seemed to
me very nice--nicer than any one I have ever known, except you."
"Perhaps I shall have an opportunity"----
"Make one. Go and see her, and ask her to come and see you."
They fell again into musing, and the rest of their talk was mainly
about the arrangements for the morrow.
About the time that Ivy Glazzard was going home, her uncle left
Polterham by train. He travelled some thirty miles, and alighted at
a large station, which, even thus late, was full of noise and
bustle. After drinking a cup of coffee in the refreshment-room, he
crossed to another platform, and then paced up and down for a
quarter of an hour, until the ringing of a bell gave notice that a
train which he awaited was just arriving. It steamed into the
station, and Glazzard's eye, searching among the passengers who got
out, quickly recognized a tall, thin figure.
"So, here you are," he said, holding his hand to Northway, who
smiled doubtfully, and peered at him with sleepy eyes. "I have a
room at the station hotel--come along."
They were presently at their ease in a sitting-room, with a hot
supper on the table. Northway ate heartily; his entertainer with
less gusto, though he looked in excellent spirits, and talked much
of the impending elections. The meal dismissed, Glazzard lit a cigar
(Northway did not smoke) and broached the topic of their meeting.
"Now, what I am going to propose to you may seem disagreeable. I
take it for granted that we deal honourably--for my own purpose is
nothing to be ashamed of; and if, after hearing what I ask, you
don't care to undertake it, say so at once, and there's no harm
"Well, let me know what it is?" replied the other, plucking at his
"Plainly then, I am engaged in election work. My motives are
"The man of whom we spoke the other day is standing as candidate for
a borough not very far from here--not _this_ town. Not long ago I
discovered that secret of his private life. I am going to use it
against him--to floor him with this disgrace. You understand?"
"Which side is he?"
"Liberal. But to a man of your large views, that of course makes no
"Not a bit!" Northway replied, obviously flattered. "You are a
"Yes; I am Conservative. I think (as I am sure _you_ do) that
Liberalism is a mere name, used for the most part by men who want to
make tools of the people."
"Yes, I agree with that," said Northway, putting his head aside and
drawing in his cheeks.
Glazzard repressed a smile, and smoked for a moment.
"What I want you to do," he continued, "is this. To-morrow, by an
early train, you will go down to this borough I speak of. You will
find your way to the Court-house, and will get leave to make an
appeal for the magistrate's advice. When you come forward, you will
say that your wife has deserted you--that a friend of yours has
seen her in that town, and has discovered that she has committed
bigamy--that you wish for the magistrate's help--his advice how
to take proceedings. And, finally, you will state in a particularly
clear voice that your wife is Mrs. So-and-so, illegally married to
Mr. So-and-so, Liberal candidate."
He spoke in hurrying accents, and as he ceased the cigar fell from
"But I thought you said that they weren't married at all?"
"They are not. But you mustn't know it. Your friend--who informed
you (say it was a man casually in the town, a commercial traveller,
who knew your wife formerly by sight)--took it for granted they
were married. If you knew she had not broken the law, you would have
no excuse for going into Court, you see."
Northway pondered the matter, clicking with his tongue.
"You remember, I hope," pursued Glazzard, "all I told you at Clifton
about the position of these people?"
"Yes, I remember. How long have they been together?"
"About two years."
"Has she a child?"
"No. Now, are you disposed to serve me? If you consent, you will
gain the knowledge of your wife's whereabouts and the reward I
promised--which I shall pay now. If you take the money and then
spoil my scheme, you will find it has been useless dishonesty.
To-morrow, in any case, the facts will be made public."
Northway glanced at him ill-humouredly.
"You needn't be so anxious about my honesty, Mr. Marks. But I should
like to be made a little surer that you have been telling me the
truth. How do I know that my wife is really living as you say? It
seems to me I ought to have a sight of her before I go talking to
"Nobody," pursued the other, "would make such a charge just on
hearsay evidence. It would only be common sense for me to see her
"That objection is reasonable. If you knew how well-assured I am of
this lady's identity, you would understand why your view of the
matter never occurred to me. You must say that you _have_ seen her,
that's all--seen her coming out of her house."
But Northway was still unsatisfied. He desired to know how it was
that a public man had succeeded in deceiving all his friends in such
an affair as that of his marriage, and put various other questions,
which reminded Glazzard how raw a hand he was at elaborate artifice.
Whilst the discussion was going on, Northway took from his pocket an
envelope, and from the envelope drew a small photograph.
"You showed me one the other day," he said. "Now, do you recognize
"Undoubtedly. That is Miss Lilian Allen--four years ago, I dare
"H'm! not a bad guess. It's four years old, as near as can be. I see
you know all about her, though how you found out I can't understand,
He paused, peering at Glazzard suspiciously.
"It doesn't matter how I learnt what I know," said the latter, in a
peremptory tone. "Let us stick to the point. It's lucky you have
brought this carte-de-visite; it will enable you to assure yourself,
before going to the Court-house, that you are not being fooled. As
soon as you land in the town, ask your way to the shop of a
bookseller called Ridge (make a note of the name)--tell Mr. Ridge
that you have found a pocket-book with that photograph in it, and
ask him if he can help you to identify the person. You'll hear his
answer. And in this way, by-the-bye, you could dispense with telling
the magistrate that you have seen your wife. Produce the portrait in
Court, and declare that it has been recognized by people in the
Northway appeared content.
"Well, that sounds better. And what am I to do after speaking to the
"I should advise you to have an interview with the man himself, the
Liberal candidate, and ask him how it happens that your wife is
living with him. In that way--when he learns what step you have
already taken--you will no doubt get hold of the truth. And then,"
he smiled, "you can spend the rest of the day in contradicting your
statement that Mrs. So-and-so has committed bigamy; making it known
that she is merely a counterfeit wife."
"Making known to whom?"
"Why, to the hundreds of people who will crowd about you. My dear
sir, you will be the most important person in the town! You will
turn an electicn--overthrow the hopes of a party! Don't you want
to know the taste of _power_? Won't it amuse you to think, and to
remember, that in the elections of 1880 you exercised an influence
beyond that of Gladstone or Beaconsfield? It's the wish for power
that excites all this uproar throughout the country. I myself, now
--do you think I am a political agent just for the money it brings
me? No, no; but because I have delight in ruling men! If I am not
mistaken, you have it in you to become a leader in your way, and
some day you'll remember my words."
Northway opened his eyes very wide, and with a look of
"You think I'm cut out for that kind of thing?"
"Judging from what I have heard of your talk. But not in England,
you understand. Try one of the new countries, where the popular
cause goes ahead more boldly. You're young enough yet."
The listener mused, smiling in a self-conscious way that obliged
Glazzard to avert his face for a moment lest he should betray
"Shall you be there--in that town--to-morrow?" asked the young
"No, I have business in quite another part. That election," he
added, with an air of importance, "is not the only one I am looking
There was silence, then Glazzard continued:
"It's indifferent to me whether it comes out that I planned this
stratagem, or not. Still, in the interests of my party, I admit that
I had rather it were kept quiet. So I'll tell you what. If, in a
month's time, I find that you have kept the secret, you shall
receive at any address you like a second five-pound note. It's just
as you please. Of course, if you think you can get more by
bargaining with the Liberals--but I doubt whether the secret will
be worth anything after the explosion."
"All right. I'll give you an address, so that if you keep in the
He mentioned it. And Glazzard made a note.
"Then we strike a bargain, Mr. Northway?"
"Yes, I'll go through with it," was the deliberate reply.
"Very well. Then you shall have the particulars."
Thereupon Glazzard made known the names he had kept in reserve.
Northway jotted them down on the back of an envelope, his hand
"There's a train to Polterham," said Glazzard, "at nine o'clock in
the morning. You'll be there by ten--see Ridge the bookseller, and
be at the Court-house in convenient time. I know there's a sitting
to-morrow; and on the second day after comes out the Polterham Tory
paper. You will prepare them such an item of news in their police
reports as they little look for. By that time the whole truth will
be known, of course, and Mr. Quarrier's candidature will be
"What will the Liberals do?"
"I can't imagine. We shall look OR and enjoy the situation--
unprecedented, I should think."
Northway again smiled; he seemed to enter into the jest.
"You sleep here," said Glazzard. "Your expenses are paid. I'll take
leave of you now, and I sha'n't see you again, as I have to leave by
the 3.40 up-train."
The money he had promised was transferred to Northway's pocket, and
they shook hands with much friendliness.
Glazzard quitted the hotel. His train back to Polterham left at
1.14, and it was past midnight.
He went into the station, now quiet and deserted. A footstep
occasionally echoed under the vault, or a voice sounded from a
distance. The gas was lowered; out at either end gleamed the
coloured signal-lights, and above them a few faint stars.
It was bitterly cold. Glazzard began to walk up and down, his eyes
straying vaguely. He felt a miserable sinking of the heart, a
weariness as if after great exertion.
An engine came rolling slowly along one of the lines; it stopped
just beyond the station, and then backed into a siding. There
followed the thud of carriage against carriage: a train was being
made up, he went to watch the operation. The clang of metal, the
hiss of steam, the moving about of men with lanterns held his
attention for some time, and so completely that he forgot all else.
Somewhere far away sounded a long-drawn whistle, now faint, now
clearer, a modulated wail broken at moments by a tremolo on one high
note. It was like a voice lamenting to the dead of night. Glazzard
could not endure it; he turned back into the station and tramped
noisily on the stone platform.
Then the air was disturbed by the dull roar of an approaching train,
and presently a long string of loaded waggons passed without pause.
The engine-fire glowed upon heavy puffs of smoke, making them a rich
crimson. A freight of iron bars clanged and clashed intolerably.
When remoteness at length stilled them, there rose again the long
wailing whistle; it was answered by another like it from still
Glazzard could stand and walk no longer. He threw himself on a seat,
crossed his arms, and remained motionless until the ringing of a
bell and a sudden turning on of lights warned him that his train
On the way to Polterham he dozed, and only a fortunate awaking at
the last moment saved him from passing his station. It was now close
upon two o'clock, and he had a two-mile walk to Highmead. His
brother believed that he was spending the evening with an
acquaintance in a neighbouring town; he had said he should probably
be very late, and a side door was to be left unbarred that he might
admit himself with a latch-key.
But for a policeman here and there, the streets were desolate.
Wherever the lamplight fell upon a wall or hoarding, it illumined
election placards, with the names of the candidates in staring
letters, and all the familiar vulgarities of party advertising.
"Welwyn-Baker and the Honour of Old England!"--"Vote for Quarrier,
the Friend of the Working Man!"--"No Jingoism!" "The Constitution
in Danger! Polterham to the Rescue!" These trumpetings to the battle
restored Glazzard's self-satisfaction; he smiled once more, and
walked on with lighter step.
Just outside the town, in a dark narrow road, he was startled by the
sudden rising of a man's figure. A voice exclaimed, in thick,
ebrious tones: "Who are you for? What's you're colour?"
"Who are _you_ for?" called out Glazzard, in return, as he walked
The politician--who had seemingly been asleep in the ditch--
raised himself to his full height and waved his arms about.
"I'm a Radical!--Quarrier for ever!--Come on, one and all of you
--I'm ready: fist or argument, it's all one to me!--You and your
Welwyn-Baker--gurr! What's _he_ ever done for the people?--
that's what _I_ want to know!--Ya-oo-oo-oo! Quarrier for ever!--
Down with the aristocrats as wants to make war at the expense of the
working man! What's England coming to?--tell me that! You've no
principles, you haven't, you Tory skunks; you've not half a
principle among you.--I'm a man of principle, I am, and I vote for
national morality, I do!--You're running away, are you?--
Ya-oo-oo!--stop and fight it out, if you're a man!--Down with
'em, boys! Down with 'em!--Quarrier for ever!"
The shouts of hiccoughy enthusiasm came suddenly to an end, and
Glazzard, looking back, saw that, in an attempt to run, the orator
had measured his length in the mud.
By three o'clock he was seated in his bedroom, very tired but not
much disposed to turn into bed. He had put a match to the fire, for
his feet were numbed with cold, in spite of a long walk.
Travelling-bags and trunks in readiness for removal told of his
journey on the morrow. All his arrangements were made; the marriage
ceremony was to take place at ten o'clock, and shortly after eleven
he and his wife would leave for London on their way to the
Too soon, of course, to hear the result of Northway's visit to the
Court-house. There would be the pleasure of imagining all that he
left behind him, and in a day or two the papers would bring news. He
had always sympathized with Guy Fawkes and his fellow-conspirators:
how delightful to have fired the train, and then, at a safe
distance, have awaited the stupendous explosion.
Poor little Lilian! That was the only troublesome thought. Yet was
he in truth harming her? Quarrier would take her abroad, and, in a
life of retirement, she would have far more happiness than was
possible to her under the present circumstances. Northway would sue
for a divorce, and thus leave her free to enter upon legitimate
marriage. Perhaps he was doing her the greatest kindness in his
When his feet were thoroughly warm he went to bed, and slept well
until the servant call him at half-past seven. It was a very bright
morning; he drew up the blind and let a flood of sunshine into the
room. Contrary to his expectations, no despondency weighed upon him;
by breakfast time he was more than usually cheerful.
"Ivy," he said to his niece, "I have promised to call at the
Quarriers' on our way. We had better start at a quarter to nine;
that will give us five minutes with them."
Of his brother he took leave with much cordiality. William would
probably not be much longer at Highmead, and might perhaps join his
relatives abroad before the end of the year. In that case, Ivy would
accompany him; and she thought with timid pleasure of thus renewing
her friendship with Serena under brighter skies.
Two vehicles came up to the door--in one the luggage was
despatched to the station; the other carried the bridegroom and his
niece into Polterham.
Quarrier awaited them on his threshold, watch in hand, for he had no
time to lose on the eve of nomination day.
"Come in!" he cried, joyously. "Such weather as this is a good omen.
How do you do, Miss Glazzard? Here is Lilian all excitement to see
you; she would give her little finger to go to the wedding."
They entered the house.
"Decidedly," said Denzil, turning to Lilian, "his appearance is a
compliment to Miss Mumbray. When did you see him looking so well and
Lilian coloured, and tried to speak in the same tone, but it was
with difficulty that she used her voice at all. Glazzard's departure
from Polterham promised her such relief of mind that she could not
face him without a sense of shame.
"Telegraph the result, if it is favourable," said Glazzard. "You
shall have an address in time for that."
"If it is favourable? Why, my dear fellow, we shall poll two to one,
at the lowest computation! I've half lost my pleasure in the fight;
I feel ashamed to hit out with all my strength when I make a speech
--it's like pounding an invalid!"
"Then I congratulate you in advance, Mrs. Quarrier. If we are long
away from England, the chances arc I shall have to make my next call
upon you in Downing Street!"
"Some day, old boy--some day!" assented Denzil, with a superb
There followed much handshaking, and the visitors returned to their
carriage. As it moved away, Glazzard put his head out of the window,
waved his hand, and cried merrily:
"Quarrier for ever!"
In the interviews with Mr. Marks, Arthur Northway did not show at
his best. Whoever that scheming personage might be, his knowledge
and his air of condescension oppressed the needy young man, made him
conscious of a hang-dog look, and a helpless promptitude to sell
himself for a few coins. It was not thus that Northway, even after
his unpleasant experiences, viewed himself in relation to the world.
He had decidedly more intellect than is often found in commercial
clerks--the class to which he belonged by birth and breeding--
and in spite of checks he believed himself destined to no common
career. Long musing had taught him the rashness of his youthful
endeavours to live largely; he was now aware that his talents must
ally themselves with patience, with a careful scrutiny of
Lying awake in the night, he thought with anything but satisfaction
of the bargain to which he had pledged himself. To discover the
woman who was by law his wife would undoubtedly be a good beginning
now that he had every disposition to fix himself in a steady course,
but he saw no advantage whatever in coming before a bench of
magistrates and re-opening the story of his past. It would be
pleasant to deal a blow at this man Quarrier; but, if Marks had told
him the truth, Quarrier was in any case doomed to exposure. Was it
not possible to act at once with prudence and with self-respect, to
gain some solid benefit without practice of rascality? It involved
breaking his word, but was he bound to keep faith with a man who
proceeded on the assumption that he was ready for any base dealing?
The money in his pocket he might find an opportunity of paying back.
In this matter before him, he was undeniably an injured man. Lilian
was treating him very badly indeed, very unfairly. If she chose to
repudiate her marriage with him, it was her duty to afford him the
chance of freeing himself from the legal bond. What moralist could
defend her behaviour?
He worked himself into a mood of righteous indignation, of
self-pity. No; the very least Lilian should have done, in uniting
herself to another man, moreover a wealthy man, was to make some
provision for her forsaken husband. That little income of hers
should have been transferred to him. Her action was unexpected; he
had thought her too timid, too religious, too soft-hearted, for
anything of this kind. Since the disastrous wedding-day, she had, it
was true, declined to hold communication with him; but he always
looked forward to a meeting when he regained his freedom, and had
faith in his personal influence. It was not solely for the sake of
her money that he wooed and won her; other connections
notwithstanding, he felt something like genuine tenderness for
Lilian, and even now this sentiment was not extinct.
The morning only confirmed his reluctance to follow Mr. Marks's
directions. Practically, he lost nothing by taking his own course
but a five-pound note. Let the electioneering agent attack Quarrier
by some other means. For a few hours, at all events, the secret
would remain unpublished, and in that interval the way might be
opened for an honest and promising career.
He breakfasted substantially, and left by the train appointed.
Arrived at Polterham, after a walk up and down the nearest streets
and an inspection of the party placards, he asked his way to the
shop of Mr. Ridge, bookseller. At once he was directed thither.
"So far so good," he said to himself. "It seems pretty certain that
Marks has not misled me. Shall I go into this shop, and play the
trick that was recommended? I think it is hardly worth while. Better
to inquire for Quarrier's house, and have a look at it."
He did so, and--it may be mentioned--on his way passed the doors
of the church in which at that moment Glazzard was being married. At
about half-past ten he was in sight of the high wall surrounding
Quarrier's garden; he approached the gate, and cautiously took a
view of what was within, then walked to a little distance.
His wife had not done badly for a little country girl. Whilst _he_
prowled about the streets with his burden of disgrace, his blank
future, Lilian sat at her ease in a mansion--doubtless had her
carriages, perhaps her livened servants--associated with important
people. After all, there was something to be said for that appeal to
the magistrate, with its consequence of scandal, ruin, to these
people who thought themselves so secure from him. He recovered his
mood of last night.
"Boy!"--an errand-lad was just passing--"whereabouts is the
He was bidden take a turning within sight and go straight on for
about half a mile.
"And I will, too!" he said in his mind. "She shall suffer for it!"
He turned away and walked for some twenty yards. Then once more the
doubt occurred to him. He had better go to the bookseller's and make
sure of Mrs. Quarrier's identity. Turning to take the opposite
direction, he saw some one coming forth from the gates by which he
had just stood--a lady--and it might be----?
Agitation shook him from head to foot. Was not that Lilian's figure,
her walk? She was moving away from him; he must have a glimpse of
her face. Drawing carefully nearer, on the side opposite to hers--
carefully--fearfully--he at length saw her features, then fell
back. Yes, it was Lilian. Much disguised in that handsome
walking-costume, but beyond doubt Lilian. Still, as of old, she
walked with bowed head, modestly. Who could imagine what she
His face was moist with perspiration. Following, he could not take
his eyes off her. That lady was his wife. He had but to claim her,
and all her sham dignity fell to nothing. But he could not command
her obedience. He had no more power over her will than any stranger.
She might bid him do his worst--and so vanish with her chosen
companion utterly beyond his reach.
Again he thought of the Court-house. For it was too certain that the
sight of him would inspire her only with horror. Should he not hold
her up to infamy? If _he_ did not, another would; Marks was plainly
to be trusted; this day was the last of Mrs. Quarrier's grandeur.
And to remember that was to pause. Could he afford to throw away a
great opportunity for the sake of malicious satisfaction?
She walked on, and he followed, keeping thirty or forty paces behind
her. He saw at length that she was not going into the town. The fine
morning had perhaps invited her to a country walk. So much the
better; he would wait till they were in a part where observation was
less to be feared; then he would speak to her.
Lilian never looked back. It was indeed the bright sunshine that had
suggested a walk out to Pear-tree Cottage, where before noon she
would probably find Mrs. Wade among her books. She felt light of
heart. Within this hour Glazzard would be gone from Polterham. Four
days hence, Denzil would be a Member of Parliament. Had she no claim
to happiness--she whose girlhood had suffered such monstrous
wrong? Another reason there was for the impulse of joy that
possessed her--a hope once already disappointed--a voice of
nature bidding her regard this marriage as true and eternal, let the
world say what it would.
She was within sight of the cottage, when Mrs. Wade herself
appeared, coming towards her. Lilian waved her hand, quickened her
step. They met.
"I was going for a walk in the fields," said Mrs. Wade. "Shall we"
Lilian had turned round, and at this moment her eyes fell upon
Northway, who was quite near. A stifled cry escaped her, and she
grasped at her friend's arm.
"What is it, dear?"
Mrs. Wade looked at her with alarm, imagining an attack of illness.
But the next instant she was aware of the stranger, who stood in
obvious embarrassment. She examined him keenly, then again turned
her eyes upon Lilian.
"Is this some one you know?" she asked, in a low voice.
Lilian could not reply, and reply was needless. Northway, who had
kept postponing the moment of address, now lost himself between
conflicting motives. Seeing Lilian's consternation and her friend's
surprise, he nervously raised his hat, drew a step or two nearer,
tried to smile.
"Mrs. Wade," Lilian uttered, with desperate effort to seem
self-possessed, "I wish to speak to this gentleman. Will you--do
Her face was bloodless and wrung with anguish. The widow again
looked at her, then said:
"I will go in again. If you wish to see me, I shall be there."
And at once she turned away.
Northway came forward, a strange light in his eyes.
"I'm the last person you thought of seeing, no doubt. But we must
have a talk. I'm sorry that happened before some one else."
"Come with me out of the road. There's a field-path just here."
They crossed the stile, and walked a short distance in the direction
of Bale Water. Then Lilian stopped.
"Who told you where to find me?"
Already Northway had decided upon his course of action. Whilst he
followed Lilian, watching her every movement, the old amorous
feeling had gradually taken strong hold upon him. He no longer
thought of revenge. His one desire was to claim this beautiful girl
as his wife. In doing so, it seemed to him, he took an unassailable
position, put himself altogether in the right Marks's plot did not
concern him; he threw it aside, and followed the guidance of his own
"I have found you," he said, fingering his throat nervously, "by
mere chance. I came here in search of employment--something in a
newspaper. And I happened to see you in the streets. I asked who you
were. Then, this morning, I watched you and followed you."
"What do you want?"
"That's a strange question, I think."
"You know there can't be anything between us."
"I don't see that."
He breathed hard; his eyes never moved from her face. Lilian, nerved
by despair, spoke in almost a steady voice; but the landscape around
her was veiled in mist; she saw only the visage which her memory had
identified with repugnance and dread.
"If you want my money," she said, "you can have it--you shall have
it at once. I give you it all."
"No, I don't ask for your money," Northway answered, with
resentment. "Here's some one coming; let us walk out into the
Lilian followed the direction of his look, and saw a man whom she
did not recognize. She left the path and moved whither her companion
was leading, over the stubby grass; it was wet, but for this she had
"How long have you been living in this way?" he asked, turning to
"You have no right to question me."
"What!--no right? Then who _has_ a right I should like to know?"
He did not speak harshly; his look expressed sincere astonishment.
"I don't acknowledge," said Lilian, with quivering voice, "that that
ceremony made me your wife."
"What do you mean? It was a legal marriage. Who has said anything
"You know very well that you did me a great wrong. The marriage was
nothing but a form of words."
"On whose part? Certainly not on mine. I meant everything I said and
promised. It's true I hadn't been living in the right way; but that
was all done with. If nothing had happened, I should have begun a
respectable life. I had made up my mind to do so. I shouldn't have
deceived you in anything."
"Whether that's true or not, I don't know. I _was_ deceived, and
cruelly. You did me an injury you could never have made good."
Northway drew in his cheeks, and stared at her persistently. He had
begun to examine the details of her costume--her pretty hat, her
gloves, the fur about her neck. In face she was not greatly changed
from what he had known, but her voice and accent were new to him--
more refined, more mature, and he could not yet overcome the sense
of strangeness. He felt as though he were behaving with audacity; it
was necessary to remind himself again and again that this was no
other than Lilian Allen--nay, Lilian Northway; whose hand he had
held, whose lips he had kissed.
A thrill went through him.
"But you are my wife!" he exclaimed, earnestly. "What right have you
to call yourself Mrs. Quarrier? Have you pretended to marry that
Lilian's eyes fell; she made no answer.
"You must tell me--or I shall have no choice but to go and ask
him. And if you have committed bigamy"----
"There has been no marriage," she hastened to say. "I have done what
I thought right."
"Right? I don't know how you can call that right. I suppose you were
persuaded into it. Does he know all the truth?"
She was racked with doubt as to what she should disclose. Her
thoughts would not be controlled, and whatever words she uttered
seemed to come from her lips of their own accord.
"What do you expect of me?" she cried, in a voice of utmost
distress. "I have been living like this for more than two years.
Right or wrong, it can't be changed--it can't be undone. You know
that. It was natural you should wish to speak to me; but why do you
pretend to think that we can be anything to each other? You have a
right to my money--it shall be yours at once."
He stamped, and his eyes shot anger.
"What do you take me for? Do you suppose I shall consent to give you
up for money? Tell me what J have asked. Does that man know your
"Of course he knows it--everything."
"And he thinks I shall never succeed in finding you out! Well, he is
mistaken, you see--things of this kind are always found out, as
you and he might have known. You can't do wrong and live all your
life as if you were innocent."
The admonition came rather inappropriately from him, but it shook
Lilian in spite of her better sense.
"It can't be changed," she exclaimed. "It can't be undone."
"That's all nonsense!"
"I will die rather than leave him!"
Hot jealousy began to rage in him. He was not a man of vehement
passions, but penal servitude had wrought the natural effect upon
his appetites. The egotism of a conceited disposition tended to the
same result. He swore within himself a fierce oath that, come what
might, this woman should be his. She contrasted him with her wealthy
lover, despised him; but right and authority were on his side.
"Leave him you must--and shall so there's plain speaking! You will
never go into that house again."
Lilian turned as if to flee from him. No one was within sight; and
how could she have appealed to any one for help? In the distance she
saw the roof of Mrs. Wade's cottage; it allayed her despair for the
moment. There, at all events, was a friend who would intervene for
her, a strong and noble-minded woman, capable of offering the best
counsel, of acting with decision. Vain now to think of hiding her
secret from that friend--and who could he more safely trusted with
But she still had the resource of entreaty.
"You talk of right and wrong--is it right to be merciless? What
can I ever be to you? Would you take me away by force, and compel me
to live with you? I have told yen I would die rather. When you think
of everything, have you no pity for me? Whatever you intended,
wasn't our marriage a terrible injustice to me? Oughtn't you to give
a thought to that?"
"You are living an immoral life," replied Northway, with tremulous
emphasis. "I could hold you. up to shame. No, I don't ask you to
come and live with me at once; I don't expect that. But you must
leave that man, and live a respectable life, and--then in time I
shall forgive you, instead of disgracing you in the divorce court. I
ask only what is right. You used to be religious"----
"Oh, how can you talk to me like that! If you really think me wicked
and disgraced, leave me to my own conscience! Have _you_ no sins
that ask for forgiveness?"
"It isn't for you to speak of them," he retorted, with imbecile
circling. "All I know is that you are my wife by law, and it is my
duty to save you from this position. I sha'n't let you go back. If
you resist my authority, I shall explain everything to any one who
asks, that's all.--Who was that lady you were talking to?"
"She lives in the little house over there. I must go and speak to
"Does she know?"
"What have you to say to her, then?"
They looked into each other's eyes for a moment. Northway was
gauging the strength of her character, and he half believed that by
an exertion of all his energy he might overcome her, lead her away
at once. He remembered that before the close of this day Quarrier's
secret would be universally known, and when that had come to pass,
he would have no hold upon either the man or the woman. They would
simply turn their backs upon him, and go beyond his reach.
He laid his hand upon her, and the touch, the look in his eyes,
drove Lilian to the last refuge.
"You must go with me, then, to Mr. Quarrier," she said, firmly. "You
have no power to stop me. I shall go home, and you must follow me,
if you choose."
"No, you will go with _me_! Do you hear? I command you to come with
It was his best imitation of resistless authority, and he saw, even
in speaking, that he had miscalculated. Lilian drew back a step and
looked at him with defiance.
"Command me, you cannot. I am as free from your control as any
"Try, and see. If you attempt to go back into the town, I shall hold
you by force, and the consequences will be worse to you than to me.
Do as you please."
Again her eyes turned to the distant roof of Peartree Cottage. She,
too, had estimated her strength and his She knew by instinct what
his face meant--the swollen, trembling lips, the hot eyes; and
understood that he was capable of any baseness. To attempt to reach
her home would he an abandonment of all hope, the ruin of Denzil. A
means of escape from worst extremity, undiscoverable by her whirling
brain, might suggest itself to such a mind as Mrs. Wade's. If only
she could communicate with the cottage!
"Then I shall go to my friend here," she said, pointing.
"Who is she?"
"A lady who lives quite alone."
"What's the good of your going there?"
She had recourse to artifice, and acted weakness much better than he
had simulated strength.
"I _must_ have some one's advice! I must know how others regard your
He saw no possibility of restraining her, and it might befall that
this lady, intentionally or not, would use her influence on his
side. Those last words signified a doubt in Lilian's mind. Was it
not pretty certain that any respectable woman, on learning how
matters stood, must exclaim against that pretended marriage?
Northway's experience lay solely among the representatives of
English morality, and the frankly vicious; he could hardly imagine a
"lady" whose view of the point at issue would admit pleas on
"If you go there," he said, "I must be with you."
Lilian made no answer, but moved away. They passed into the road,
tinned towards the cottage. On reaching the gate, Lilian saw Mrs.
Wade standing just before her.
"I must speak to you" she said, holding out her hands impulsively.
Mrs. Wade looked from her to the man in the background, who again
had awkwardly raised his hat--a cheap but new cylinder, which,
together with his slop-made coat and trousers, classed him among
uncertain specimens of humanity.
"Will you let him come in?" Lilian whispered, a sob at length
breaking her voice.
The widow was perfectly self-possessed. Her eyes gleamed very
brightly and glanced hither and thither with the keenest scrutiny.
She held Lilian's hand, answering in a low voice:
"Trust me, dear! I'm so glad you have come. What is his name?"
Mrs. Wade addressed him, and invited him to enter; but Northway,
having ascertained that there was no escape from the cottage which
he could not watch, drew back.
"Thank you," he said; "I had rather wait out here. If that lady
wants me, I shall be within reach."
Mrs. Wade nodded, and drew her friend in. Lilian of a sudden lost
her physical strength; she had to be supported, almost carried, into
the sitting-room. The words of kindness with which Mrs. Wade sought
to recover her had a natural enough effect; they invited an
hysterical outbreak, and for several minutes the sufferer wailed
helplessly. In the meantime she was disembarrassed of her out-door
clothing. A stimulant at length so far restored her that she could
"I don't know what you will think of me.--I am obliged to tell you
something I hoped never to speak of. Denzil ought to know first what
has happened; but I can't go to him.--I must tell you, and trust
your friendship. Perhaps you can help me; you will--I know you
will if you can."
"Anything in my power," replied the listener, soothingly. "Whatever
you tell me is perfectly safe. I think you know me well enough,
Then Lilian began, and told her story from first to last.