Part 10 out of 11
Ineffable disdain curled off her sweet olive visage. She turned her
'I 'll go down to that girl to-night,' said Raikes, with compressed
passion. And then he hurried Franko along to the bridge, where, behold,
the Countess alighted with the gentleman, and walked beside him into the
'Follow her,' said Raikes, in agitation. 'Do you see her? by yon long-
tailed raven's side? Follow her, Franko! See if he kisses her hand-
anything! and meet me here in half an hour. I'll have evidence!'
Franko did not altogether like the office, but Raikes' dinners, singular
luck, and superiority in the encounter of puns, gave him the upper hand
with his friend, and so Franko went.
Turning away from the last glimpse of his Countess, Raikes crossed the
bridge, and had not strolled far beneath the bare branches of one of the
long green walks, when he perceived a gentleman with two ladies leaning
'Now, there,' moralized this youth; 'now, what do you say to that? Do
you call that fair? He can't be happy, and it's not in nature for them
to be satisfied. And yet, if I went up and attempted to please them all
by taking one away, the probabilities are that he would knock me down.
Such is life! We won't be made comfortable!'
Nevertheless, he passed them with indifference, for it was merely the
principle he objected to; and, indeed, he was so wrapped in his own
conceptions, that his name had to be called behind him twice before he
recognized Evan Harrington, Mrs. Strike, and Miss Bonner. The
arrangement he had previously thought good, was then spontaneously
adopted. Mrs. Strike reposed her fair hand upon his arm, and Juliana,
with a timid glance of pleasure, walked ahead in Evan's charge. Close
neighbourhood between the couples was not kept. The genius of Mr. Raikes
was wasted in manoeuvres to lead his beautiful companion into places
where he could be seen with her, and envied. It was, perhaps, more
flattering that she should betray a marked disposition to prefer solitude
in his society. But this idea illumined him only near the moment of
parting. Then he saw it; then he groaned in soul, and besought Evan to
have one more promenade, saying, with characteristic cleverness in the
masking of his real thoughts: 'It gives us an appetite, you know.'
In Evan's face and Juliana's there was not much sign that any protraction
of their walk together would aid this beneficent process of nature. He
took her hand gently, and when he quitted it, it dropped.
'The Rose, the Rose of Beckley Court!' Raikes sang aloud. 'Why, this is
a day of meetings. Behold John Thomas in the rear-a tower of plush and
powder! Shall I rush-shall I pluck her from the aged stem?'
On the gravel-walk above them Rose passed with her aristocratic
grandmother, muffled in furs. She marched deliberately, looking coldly
before her. Evan's face was white, and Juliana, whose eyes were fixed on
'I'm chilled,' she murmured to Caroline. 'Let us go.' Caroline eyed Evan
with a meaning sadness.
'We will hurry to our carriage,' she said.
They were seen to make a little circuit so as not to approach Rose; after
whom, thoughtless of his cruelty, Evan bent his steps slowly, halting
when she reached her carriage. He believed--rather, he knew that she had
seen him. There was a consciousness in the composed outlines of her face
as she passed: the indifference was too perfect. Let her hate him if she
pleased. It recompensed him that the air she wore should make her
appearance more womanly; and that black dress and crape-bonnet, in some
way, touched him to mournful thoughts of her that helped a partial
forgetfulness of wounded self.
Rose had driven off. He was looking at the same spot, where Caroline's
hand waved from her carriage. Juliana was not seen. Caroline requested
her to nod to him once, but she would not. She leaned back hiding her
eyes, and moving a petulant shoulder at Caroline's hand.
'Has he offended you, my child?'
Juliana answered harshly:
The wheels rolled on, and Caroline tried other subjects, knowing possibly
that they would lead Juliana back to this of her own accord.
'You saw how she treated him?' the latter presently said, without moving
her hand from before her eyes.
'Yes, dear. He forgives her, and will forget it.'
'Oh!' she clenched her long thin hand, ' I pray that I may not die before
I have made her repent it. She shall!'
Juliana looked glitteringly in Caroline's face, and then fell a-weeping,
and suffered herself to be folded and caressed. The storm was long
'Dearest! you are better now?' said Caroline.
She whispered: 'Yes.'
'My brother has only to know you, dear--'
'Hush! That's past.' Juliana stopped her; and, on a deep breath that
threatened to break to sobs, she added in a sweeter voice than was common
to her, 'Ah, why--why did you tell him about the Beckley property?'
Caroline vainly strove to deny that she had told him. Juliana's head
shook mournfully at her; and now Caroline knew what Juliana meant when
she begged so earnestly that Evan should be kept ignorant of her change
Some days after this the cold struck Juliana's chest, and she sickened.
The three sisters held a sitting to consider what it was best to do with
her. Caroline proposed to take her to Beckley without delay. Harriet
was of opinion that the least they could do was to write to her relatives
and make them instantly aware of her condition.
But the Countess said 'No,' to both. Her argument was, that Juliana
being independent, they were by no means bound to 'bundle' her, in her
state, back to a place where she had been so shamefully maltreated: that
here she would live, while there she would certainly die: that absence of
excitement was her medicine, and that here she had it. Mrs. Andrew,
feeling herself responsible as the young lady's hostess, did not
acquiesce in the Countess's views till she had consulted Juliana; and
then apologies for giving trouble were breathed on the one hand;
sympathy, condolences, and professions of esteem, on the other. Juliana
said, she was but slightly ill, would soon recover. Entreated not to
leave them before she was thoroughly re-established, and to consent to be
looked on as one of the family, she sighed, and said it was the utmost
she could hope. Of course the ladies took this compliment to themselves,
but Evan began to wax in importance. The Countess thought it nearly time
to acknowledge him, and supported the idea by a citation of the doctrine,
that to forgive is Christian. It happened, however, that Harriet, who
had less art and more will than her sisters, was inflexible. She, living
in a society but a few steps above Tailordom, however magnificent in
expenditure and resources, abhorred it solemnly. From motives of
prudence, as well as personal disgust, she continued firm in declining to
receive her brother. She would not relent when the Countess pointed out
a dim, a dazzling prospect, growing out of Evan's proximity to the
heiress of Beckley Court; she was not to be moved when Caroline suggested
that the specific for the frail invalid was Evan's presence. As to this,
Juliana was sufficiently open, though, as she conceived, her art was
'Do you know why I stay to vex and trouble you?' she asked Caroline.
'Well, then, it is that I may see your brother united to you all: and
then I shall go, happy.'
The pretext served also to make him the subject of many conversations.
Twice a week a bunch of the best flowers that could be got were sorted
and arranged by her, and sent namelessly to brighten Evan's chamber.
'I may do such a thing as this, you know, without incurring blame,' she
The sight of a love so humble in its strength and affluence, sent
Caroline to Evan on a fruitless errand. What availed it, that accused of
giving lead to his pride in refusing the heiress, Evan should declare
that he did not love her? He did not, Caroline admitted as possible, but
he might. He might learn to love her, and therefore he was wrong in
wounding her heart. She related flattering anecdotes. She drew tearful
pictures of Juliana's love for him: and noticing how he seemed to prize
his bouquet of flowers, said:
'Do you love them for themselves, or the hand that sent them?'
Evan blushed, for it had been a struggle for him to receive them, as he
thought, from Rose in secret. The flowers lost their value; the song
that had arisen out of them, 'Thou livest in my memory,' ceased. But
they came still. How many degrees from love gratitude may be, I have not
reckoned. I rather fear it lies on the opposite shore. From a youth to
a girl, it may yet be very tender; the more so, because their ages
commonly exclude such a sentiment, and nature seems willing to make a
transition stage of it. Evan wrote to Juliana. Incidentally he
expressed a wish to see her. Juliana was under doctor's interdict: but
she was not to be prevented from going when Evan wished her to go. They
met in the park, as before, and he talked to her five minutes through the
'Was it worth the risk, my poor child?' said Caroline, pityingly.
Juliana cried: 'Oh! I would give anything to live!'
A man might have thought that she made no direct answer.
'Don't you think I am patient? Don't you think I am very patient?'she
asked Caroline, winningly, on their way home.
Caroline could scarcely forbear from smiling at the feverish anxiety she
showed for a reply that should confirm her words and hopes.
'So we must all be!'she said, tend that common-place remark caused
Juliana to exclaim: 'Prisoners have lived in a dungeon, on bread and
water, for years!'
Whereat Caroline kissed her so tenderly that Juliana tried to look
surprised, and failing, her thin lips quivered; she breathed a soft
'hush,' and fell on Caroline's bosom.
She was transparent enough in one thing; but the flame which burned
within her did not light her through.
Others, on other matters, were quite as transparent to her.
Caroline never knew that she had as much as told her the moral suicide
Evan had committed at Beckley; so cunningly had she been probed at
intervals with little casual questions; random interjections, that one
who loved him could not fail to meet; petty doubts requiring
elucidations. And the Countess, kind as her sentiments had grown toward
the afflicted creature, was compelled to proclaim her densely stupid in
material affairs. For the Countess had an itch of the simplest feminine
curiosity to know whether the dear child had any notion of accomplishing
a certain holy duty of the perishable on this earth, who might possess
worldly goods; and no hints--not even plain speaking, would do. Juliana
did not understand her at all.
The Countess exhibited a mourning-ring on her finger, Mrs. Bonner's
bequest to her.
'How fervent is my gratitude to my excellent departed friend for this!
A legacy, however trifling, embalms our dear lost ones in the memory!'
It was of no avail. Juliana continued densely stupid. Was she not
worse? The Countess could not, 'in decency,' as she observed, reveal to
her who had prompted Mrs. Bonner so to bequeath the Beckley estates as to
'ensure sweet Juliana's future'; but ought not Juliana to divine it?--
Juliana at least had hints sufficient.
Cold Spring winds were now blowing. Juliana had resided no less than two
months with the Cogglesbys. She was entreated still to remain, and she
did. From Lady Jocelyn she heard not a word of remonstrance; but from
Miss Carrington and Mrs. Shorne she received admonishing letters.
Finally, Mr. Harry Jocelyn presented himself. In London, and without any
of that needful subsistence which a young gentleman feels the want of in
London more than elsewhere, Harry began to have thoughts of his own,
without any instigation from his aunts, about devoting himself to
business. So he sent his card up to his cousin, and was graciously met
in the drawing-room by the Countess, who ruffled him and smoothed him,
and would possibly have distracted his soul from business had his
circumstances been less straitened. Juliana was declared to be too
unwell to see him that day. He called a second time, and enjoyed a
similar greeting. His third visit procured him an audience alone with
Juliana, when, at once, despite the warnings of his aunts, the frank
fellow plunged, 'medias res'. Mrs. Bonner had left him totally dependent
on his parents and his chances.
'A desperate state of things, isn't it, Juley? I think I shall go for a
soldier--common, you know.'
Instead of shrieking out against such a debasement of his worth and
gentility, as was to be expected, Juliana said:
'That's what Mr. Harrington thought of doing.'
'He! If he'd had the pluck he would.'
'His duty forbade it, and he did not.'
'Duty! a confounded tailor! What fools we were to have him at Beckley!'
'Has the Countess been unkind to you Harry?'
'I haven't seen her to-day, and don't want to. It's my little dear old
Juley I came for.'
'Dear Harry!' she thanked him with eyes and hands. 'Come often, won't
'Why, ain't you coming back to us, Juley?'
'Not yet. They are very kind to me here. How is Rose?'
'Oh, quite jolly. She and Ferdinand are thick again. Balls every night.
She dances like the deuce. They want me to go; but I ain't the sort of
figure for those places, and besides, I shan't dance till I can lead you
A spur of laughter at Harry's generous nod brought on Juliana's cough.
Harry watched her little body shaken and her reddened eyes. Some real
emotion--perhaps the fear which healthy young people experience at the
sight of deadly disease--made Harry touch her arm with the softness of a
'Don't be alarmed, Harry,' she said. 'It's nothing--only Winter. I'm
determined to get well.'
'That's right,' quoth he, recovering. 'I know you've got pluck, or you
wouldn't have stood that operation.'
'Let me see: when was that?' she asked slyly.
Harry coloured, for it related to a time when he had not behaved prettily
'There, Juley, that 's all forgotten. I was a fool-a scoundrel, if you
like. I 'm sorry for it now.'
'Do you want money, Harry?'
'Have you repaid Mr. Harrington yet?'
'There--no, I haven't. Bother it! that fellow's name's always on your
tongue. I'll tell you what, Juley--but it's no use. He's a low, vulgar
'Dear Harry,' said Juliana, softly; 'don't bring your aunts with you when
you come to see me.'
'Well, then I'll tell you, Juley. It's enough that he's a beastly
'Quite enough,' she responded; 'and he is neither a fool nor a
Harry's memory for his own speech was not quick. When Juliana's calm
glance at him called it up, he jumped from his chair, crying: 'Upon my
honour, I'll tell you what, Juley! If I had money to pay him to-morrow,
I'd insult him on the spot.'
Juliana meditated, and said: 'Then all your friends must wish you to
This girl had once been on her knees to him. She had looked up to him
with admiring love, and he had given her a crumb or so occasionally,
thinking her something of a fool, and more of a pest; but now he could
not say a word to her without being baffled in an elderly-sisterly tone
exasperating him so far that he positively wished to marry her, and
coming to the point, offered himself with downright sincerity, and was
rejected. Harry left in a passion. Juliana confided the secret to
Caroline, who suggested interested motives, which Juliana would not hear
'Ah,' said the Countess, when Caroline mentioned the case to her,
'of course the poor thing cherishes her first offer. She would believe a
curate to be disinterested! But mind that Evan has due warning when she
is to meet him. Mind that he is dressed becomingly.'
Caroline asked why.
'Because, my dear, she is enamoured of his person. These little
unhealthy creatures are always attracted by the person. She thinks it to
be Evan's qualities. I know better: it is his person. Beckley Court may
be lost by a shabby coat!'
The Countess had recovered from certain spiritual languors into which she
had fallen after her retreat. Ultimate victory hung still in the
balance. Oh! if Evan would only marry this little sufferer, who was so
sure to die within a year! or, if she lived (for marriage has often been
as a resurrection to some poor female invalids), there was Beckley Court,
a splendid basis for future achievements. Reflecting in this fashion,
the Countess pardoned her brother. Glowing hopes hung fresh lamps in her
charitable breast. She stepped across the threshold of Tailordom, won
Mr. Goren's heart by her condescension, and worked Evan into a sorrowful
mood concerning the invalid. Was not Juliana his only active friend? In
return, he said things which only required a little colouring to be very
acceptable to her.
The game waxed exciting again. The enemy (the Jocelyn party) was alert,
but powerless. The three sisters were almost wrought to perform a
sacrifice far exceeding Evan's. They nearly decided to summon him to the
house: but the matter being broached at table one evening, Major Strike
objected to it so angrily that they abandoned it, with the satisfactory
conclusion that if they did wrong it was the Major's fault.
Meantime Juliana had much on her conscience. She knew Evan to be
innocent, and she allowed Rose to think him guilty. Could she bring her
heart to join them? That was not in her power: but desiring to be lulled
by a compromise, she devoted herself to make his relatives receive him;
and on days of bitter winds she would drive out to meet him, answering
all expostulations with--'I should not go if he were here.'
The game waxed hot. It became a question whether Evan should be admitted
to the house in spite of the Major. Juliana now made an extraordinary
move. Having the Count with her in the carriage one day, she stopped in
front of Mr. Goren's shop, and Evan had to come out. The Count returned
home extremely mystified. Once more the unhappy Countess was obliged to
draw bills on the fabulous; and as she had recommenced the system, which
was not without its fascinations to her, Juliana, who had touched the
spring, had the full benefit of it. The Countess had deceived her
before--what of that? She spoke things sweet to hear. Who could be
false that gave her heart food on which it lived?
One night Juliana returned from her drive alarmingly ill. She was
watched through the night by Caroline and the Countess alternately.
In the morning the sisters met.
'She has consented to let us send for a doctor,' said Caroline.
'Her chief desire seems to be a lawyer,' said the Countess.
'Yes, but the doctor must be sent for first.'
'Yes, indeed! But it behoves us to previse that the doctor does not kill
her before the lawyer comes.'
Caroline looked at Louisa, and said: 'Are you ignorant?'
'No--what?' cried the Countess eagerly.
'Evan has written to tell Lady Jocelyn the state of her health, and--'
'And that naturally has aggravated her malady!' The Countess cramped her
long fingers. 'The child heard it from him yesterday! Oh, I could swear
at that brother!'
She dropped into a chair and sat rigid and square-jawed, a sculpture of
In the afternoon Lady Jocelyn arrived. The doctor was there--the lawyer
had gone. Without a word of protest Juliana accompanied her ladyship to
Beckley Court. Here was a blow!
But Andrew was preparing one more mighty still. What if the Cogglesby
Brewery proved a basis most unsound? Where must they fall then? Alas!
on that point whence they sprang. If not to Perdition--Tailordom!
REVEALS AN ABOMINABLE PLOT OF THE BROTHERS COGGLESBY
A lively April day, with strong gusts from the Southwest, and long
sweeping clouds, saluted the morning coach from London to Lymport.
Thither Tailordom triumphant was bearing its victim at a rattling pace,
to settle him, and seal him for ever out of the ranks of gentlemen:
Society, meantime, howling exclusion to him in the background: 'Out of
our halls, degraded youth: The smiles of turbaned matrons: the sighs of
delicate maids; genial wit, educated talk, refined scandal, vice in
harness, dinners sentineled by stately plush: these, the flavour of life,
are not for you, though you stole a taste of them, wretched impostor!
Pay for it with years of remorse!'
The coach went rushing against the glorious high wind. It stirred his
blood, freshened his cheeks, gave a bright tone of zest to his eyes, as
he cast them on the young green country. Not banished from the breath of
heaven, or from self-respect, or from the appetite for the rewards that
are to follow duties done! Not banished from the help that is always
reached to us when we have fairly taken the right road: and that for him
is the road to Lymport. Let the kingdom of Gilt Gingerbread howl as it
will! We are no longer children, but men: men who have bitten hard at
experience, and know the value of a tooth: who have had our hearts
bruised, and cover them with armour: who live not to feed, but look to
food that we may live! What matters it that yonder high-spiced kingdom
should excommunicate such as we are? We have rubbed off the gilt, and
have assumed the command of our stomachs. We are men from this day!
Now, you would have thought Evan's companions, right and left of him,
were the wretches under sentence, to judge from appearances. In contrast
with his look of insolent pleasure, Andrew, the moment an eye was on him,
exhibited the cleverest impersonation of the dumps ever seen: while Mr.
Raikes was from head to foot nothing better than a moan made visible.
Nevertheless, they both agreed to rally Evan, and bid him be of good
'Don't be down, Van; don't be down, my boy,' said Andrew, rubbing his
'I? do I look it?' Evan answered, laughing.
'Capital acting!' exclaimed Raikes. 'Try and keep it up.'
'Well, I hope you're acting too,' said Evan.
Raikes let his chest fall like a collapsing bellows.
At the end of five minutes, he remarked: 'I've been sitting on it the
whole morning! There's violent inflammation, I'm persuaded. Another
hour, and I jump slap from the summit of the coach!'
Evan turned to Andrew.
'Do you think he'll be let off?'
'Mr. Raikes? Can't say. You see, Van, it depends upon how Old Tom has
taken his bad luck. Ahem! Perhaps he'll be all the stricter; and as a
man of honour, Mr. Raikes, you see, can't very well--'
'By Jove! I wish I wasn't a man of honour!' Raikes interposed, heavily.
'You see, Van, Old Tom's circumstances'--Andrew ducked, to smother a sort
of laughter--'are now such that he'd be glad of the money to let him off,
no doubt; but Mr. Raikes has spent it, I can't lend it, and you haven't
got it, and there we all are. At the end of the year he's free, and he--
ha! ha! I'm not a bit the merrier for laughing, I can tell you.'
Catching another glimpse of Evan's serious face, Andrew fell into louder
laughter; checking it with doleful solemnity.
Up hill and down hill, and past little homesteads shining with yellow
crocuses; across wide brown heaths, whose outlines raised in Evan's mind
the night of his funeral walk, and tossed up old feelings dead as the
whirling dust. At last Raikes called out:
'The towers of Fallow field; heigho!'
And Andrew said:
'Now then, Van: if Old Tom's anywhere, he's here. You get down at the
Dragon, and don't you talk to me, but let me go in. It'll be just the
hour he dines in the country. Isn't it a shame of him to make me face
every man of the creditors--eh?'
Evan gave Andrew's hand an affectionate squeeze, at which Andrew had to
gulp down something--reciprocal emotion, doubtless.
'Hark,' said Raikes, as the horn of the guard was heard. 'Once that
sound used to set me caracoling before an abject multitude. I did
wonders. All London looked on me! It had more effect on me than
champagne. Now I hear it--the whole charm has vanished! I can't see a
single old castle. Would you have thought it possible that a small
circular bit of tin on a man's person could produce such changes in him?'
'You are a donkey to wear it,' said Evan.
'I pledged my word as a gentleman, and thought it small, for the money!'
said Raikes. 'This is the first coach I ever travelled on, without
making the old whip burst with laughing. I'm not myself. I'm haunted.
I'm somebody else.'
The three passengers having descended, a controversy commenced between
Evan and Andrew as to which should pay. Evan had his money out; Andrew
dashed it behind him; Evan remonstrated.
'Well, you mustn't pay for us two, Andrew. I would have let you do it
'Stuff!' cried Andrew. 'I ain't paying--it 's the creditors of the
estate, my boy!'
Evan looked so ingenuously surprised and hurt at his lack of principle,
that Andrew chucked a sixpence at a small boy, saying,
'If you don't let me have my own way, Van, I 'll shy my purse after it.
What do you mean, sir, by treating me like a beggar?'
'Our friend Harrington can't humour us,' quoth Raikes. 'For myself, I
candidly confess I prefer being paid for'; and he leaned contentedly
against one of the posts of the inn till the filthy dispute was arranged
to the satisfaction of the ignobler mind. There Andrew left them, and
went to Mrs. Sockley, who, recovered from her illness, smiled her usual
placid welcome to a guest.
'You know me, ma'am?'
'Oh, yes! The London Mr. Cogglesby!'
'Now, ma'am, look here. I've come for my brother. Don't be alarmed.
No danger as yet. But, mind! if you attempt to conceal him from his
lawful brother, I'll summon here the myrmidons of the law.'
Mrs. Sockley showed a serious face.
'You know his habits, Mr. Cogglesby; and one doesn't go against any one
of his whimsies, or there's consequences: but the house is open to you,
sir. I don't wish to hide him.'
Andrew accepted this intelligent evasion of Tom Cogglesby's orders as
sufficient, and immediately proceeded upstairs. A door shut on the first
landing. Andrew went to this door and knocked. No answer. He tried to
open it, but found that he had been forestalled. After threatening to
talk business through the key-hole, the door was unlocked, and Old Tom
'So! now you're dogging me into the country. Be off; make an
appointment. Saturday's my holiday. You know that.'
Andrew pushed through the doorway, and, by way of an emphatic reply and a
silencing one, delivered a punch slap into Old Tom's belt.
'Confound you, Nan!' said Old Tom, grimacing, but friendly, as if his
sympathies had been irresistibly assailed.
'It 's done, Tom! I've done it. Won my bet, now,' Andrew exclaimed.
'The women-poor creatures! What a state they're in. I pity 'em.'
Old Tom pursed his lips, and eyed his brother incredulously, but with
'Oh, Lord! what a face I've had to wear!' Andrew continued, and while he
sank into a chair and rubbed his handkerchief over his crisp hair, Old
Tom let loose a convinced and exulting, 'ha! ha!'
'Yes, you may laugh. I've had all the bother,' said Andrew.
'Serve ye right--marrying such cattle,' Old Tom snapped at him.
'They believe we're bankrupt--owe fifty thousand clear, Tom!'
'Brewery stock and household furniture to be sold by general auction,
'Not a place for any of us to poke our heads into. I talked about
"pitiless storms" to my poor Harry--no shelter to be had unless we go
down to Lymport, and stop with their brother in shop!'
Old Tom did enjoy this. He took a great gulp of air for a tremendous
burst of laughter, and when this was expended and reflection came, his
features screwed, as if the acidest of flavours had ravished his palate.
'Bravo, Nan! Didn't think you were man enough. Ha! ha! Nan--I say--
eh? how did ye get on behind. the curtains?'
The tale, to guess by Andrew's face, appeared to be too strongly infused
with pathos for revelation.
'Will they go, Nan, eh? d' ye think they 'll go?'
'Where else can they go, Tom? They must go there, or on the parish, you
'They'll all troop down to the young tailor--eh?'
'They can't sleep in the parks, Tom.'
'No. They can't get into Buckingham Palace, neither--'cept as
housemaids. 'Gad, they're howling like cats, I'd swear--nuisance to the
Old Tom's cruel laughter made Andrew feel for the unhappy ladies. He
stuck his forehead, and leaned forward, saying: 'I don't know--'pon my
honour, I don't know--can't think we've--quite done right to punish 'em
This acted like cold water on Old Tom's delight. He pitched it back in
the shape of a doubt of what Andrew had told him. Whereupon Andrew
defied him to face three miserable women on the verge of hysterics; and
Old Tom, beginning to chuckle again, rejoined that it would bring them to
their senses, and emancipate him.
'You may laugh, Mr. Tom,' said Andrew; 'but if poor Harry should find me
out, deuce a bit more home for me.'
Old Tom looked at him keenly, and rapped the table. 'Swear you did it,
'You promise you'll keep the secret,' said Andrew.
'Never make promises.'
'Then there's a pretty life for me! I did it for that poor dear boy.
You were only up to one of your jokes--I see that. Confound you, Old
Tom, you've been making a fool of me.'
The flattering charge was not rejected by Old Tom, who now had his
brother to laugh at as well. Andrew affected to be indignant and
'If you'd had a heart, Tom, you'd have saved the poor fellow without any
bother at all. What do you think? When I told him of our smash--ha!
ha! it isn't such a bad joke-well, I went to him, hanging my head, and he
offered to arrange our affairs--that is--'
'Damned meddlesome young dog!' cried Old Tom, quite in a rage.
'There--you're up in a twinkling,' said Andrew. 'Don't you see he
believed it, you stupid Old Tom? Lord! to hear him say how sorry he was,
and to see how glad he looked at the chance of serving us!'
'Serving us!' Tom sneered.
'Ha!' went Andrew. 'Yes. There. You're a deuced deal prouder than
fifty peers. You're an upside-down old despot!'
No sharper retort rising to Old Tom's lips, he permitted his brother's
abuse of him to pass, declaring that bandying words was not his business,
he not being a Parliament man.
'How about the Major, Nan? He coming down, too?'
'Major!' cried Andrew. 'Lucky if he keeps his commission. Coming down?
No. He's off to the Continent.'
'Find plenty of scamps there to keep him company,' added Tom. 'So he's
broke--eh? ha! ha!'
'Tom,' said Andrew, seriously, 'I'll tell you all about it, if you 'll
swear not to split on me, because it would really upset poor Harry so.
She 'd think me such a beastly hypocrite, I couldn't face her
'Lose what pluck you have--eh?' Tom jerked out his hand, and bade his
Compelled to trust in him without a promise, Andrew said: 'Well, then,
after we'd arranged it, I went back to Harry, and begged her to have poor
Van at the house told her what I hoped you'd do for him about getting him
into the Brewery. She's very kind, Tom, 'pon my honour she is. She was
'Well, she was so afraid it'd hurt her sisters to see him there.'
Old Tom saw he was in for excellent fun, and wouldn't spoil it for the
'So I went to Caroline. She was easy enough; and she went to the
'Well, and she--?'
'She was willing, too, till Lady Jocelyn came and took Miss Bonner home
to Beckley, and because Evan had written to my lady to fetch her, the
Countess--she was angry. That was all. Because of that, you know.
But yet she agreed. But when Miss Bonner had gone, it turned out that
the Major was the obstacle. They were all willing enough to have Evan
there, but the Major refused. I didn't hear him. I wasn't going to ask
him. I mayn't be a match for three women, but man to man, eh, Tom?
You'd back me there? So Harry said the Major 'd make Caroline miserable,
if his wishes were disrespected. By George, I wish I'd know, then.
Don't you think it odd, Tom, now? There's a Duke of Belfield the fellow
had hooked into his Company; and--through Evan I heard--the Duke had his
name struck off. After that, the Major swore at the Duke once or twice,
and said Caroline wasn't to go out with him. Suddenly, he insists that
she shall go. Days the poor thing kept crying! One day, he makes her
go. She hasn't the spirit of my Harry or the Countess. By good luck,
Van, who was hunting ferns for some friends of his, met them on Sunday in
Richmond Park, and Van took her away from the Duke. But, Tom, think of
Van seeing a fellow watching her wherever she went, and hearing the
Duke's coachman tell that fellow he had orders to drive his master and a
lady hard on to the sea that night. I don't believe it--it wasn't
Caroline! But what do you think of our finding out that beast of a spy
to be in the Major's pay? We did. Van put a constable on his track; we
found him out, and he confessed it. A fact, Tom! That decided me. If
it was only to get rid of a brute, I determined I 'd do it, and I did.
Strike came to me to get my name for a bill that night. 'Gad, he looked
blanker than his bill when he heard of us two bankrupt. I showed him one
or two documents I'd got ready. Says he: "Never mind; it'll only be a
couple of hundred more in the schedule." Stop, Tom! he's got some of
our blood. I don't think he meant it. He is hard pushed. Well, I gave
him a twentier, and he was off the next night. You 'll soon see all
about the Company in the papers.'
At the conclusion of Andrew's recital, Old Tom thrummed and looked on the
floor under a heavy frown. His mouth worked dubiously, and, from moment
to moment, he plucked at his waistcoat and pulled it down, throwing back
his head and glaring.
'I 've knocked that fellow over once,' he said. 'Wish he hadn't got up
'One good thing, Nan. He never boasted of our connection. Much obliged
'Yes,' said Andrew, who was gladly watching Old Tom's change of mood with
a quiescent aspect.
'Um!--must keep it quiet from his poor old mother.'
Andrew again affirmatived his senior's remarks. That his treatment of
Old Tom was sound, he presently had proof of. The latter stood up, and
after sniffing in an injured way for about a minute, launched out his
right leg, and vociferated that he would like to have it in his power to
kick all the villains out of the world: a modest demand Andrew at once
chimed in with; adding that, were such a faculty extended to him, he
would not object to lose the leg that could benefit mankind so
infinitely, and consented to its following them. Then, Old Tom, who was
of a practical turn, meditated, swung his foot, and gave one grim kick at
the imaginary bundle of villains, discharged them headlong straight into
space. Andrew, naturally imitative, and seeing that he had now to kick
them flying, attempted to excel Old Tom in the vigour of his delivery.
No wonder that the efforts of both were heating: they were engaged in the
task of ridding the globe of the larger half of its inhabitants. Tom
perceived Andrew's useless emulation, and with a sound translated by
'yack,' sent his leg out a long way. Not to be outdone, Andrew
immediately, with a still louder 'yack,' committed himself to an effort
so violent that the alternative between his leg coming off, or his being
taken off his leg, was propounded by nature, and decided by the laws of
gravity in a trice. Joyful grunts were emitted by Old Tom at the sight
of Andrew prostrate, rubbing his pate. But Mrs. Sockley, to whom the
noise of Andrew's fall had suggested awful fears of a fratricidal
conflict upstairs, hurried forthwith to announce to them that the
sovereign remedy for human ills, the promoter of concord, the healer of
feuds, the central point of man's destiny in the flesh--Dinner, was
To the dinner they marched.
Of this great festival be it simply told that the supply was copious and
of good quality--much too good and copious for a bankrupt host: that Evan
and Mr. John Raikes were formally introduced to Old Tom before the repast
commenced, and welcomed some three minutes after he had decided the
flavour of his first glass; that Mr. Raikes in due time preferred his
petition for release from a dreadful engagement, and furnished vast
amusement to the company under Old Tom's hand, until, by chance, he
quoted a scrap of Latin, at which the brothers Cogglesby, who would have
faced peers and princes without being disconcerted, or performing mental
genuflexions, shut their mouths and looked injured, unhappy, and in the
presence of a superior: Mr. Raikes not being the man to spare them.
Moreover, a surprise was afforded to Evan. Andrew stated to Old Tom that
the hospitality of Main Street, Lymport,--was open to him. Strange to
say, Old Tom accepted it on the spot, observing, 'You're master of the
house--can do what you like, if you 're man enough,' and adding that he
thanked him, and would come in a day or two. The case of Mr. Raikes was
still left uncertain, for as the bottle circulated, he exhibited such a
faculty for apt, but to the brothers, totally incomprehensible quotation,
that they fled from him without leaving him time to remember what special
calamity was on his mind, or whether this earth was other than an abode
conceived in great jollity for his life-long entertainment.
The sick night-light burned steadily in Juliana's chamber. On a couch,
beside her bed, Caroline lay sleeping, tired with a long watch. Two
sentences had been passed on Juliana: one on her heart: one on her body:
'Thou art not loved'; and, 'Thou must die.' The frail passion of her
struggle against her destiny was over with her. Quiet as that quiet
which Nature was taking her to, her body reposed. Calm as the solitary
night-light before her open eyes, her spirit was wasting away. 'If I am
not loved, then let me die!' In such a sense she bowed to her fate.
At an hour like this, watching the round of light on the ceiling, with
its narrowing inner rings, a sufferer from whom pain has fled looks back
to the shores she is leaving, and would be well with them who walk there.
It is false to imagine that schemers and workers in the dark are
destitute of the saving gift of conscience. They have it, and it is
perhaps made livelier in them than with easy people; and therefore, they
are imperatively spurred to hoodwink it. Hence, their self-delusion is
deep and endures. They march to their object, and gaining or losing it,
the voice that calls to them is the voice of a blind creature, whom any
answer, provided that the answer is ready, will silence. And at an hour
like this, when finally they snatch their minute of sight on the
threshold of black night, their souls may compare with yonder shining
circle on the ceiling, which, as the light below gasps for air,
contracts, and extends but to mingle with the darkness. They would be
nobler, better, boundlessly good to all;--to those who have injured them
to those whom they have injured. Alas! for any definite deed the limit
of their circle is immoveable, and they must act within it. The trick
they have played themselves imprisons them. Beyond it, they cease to be.
Lying in this utter stillness, Juliana thought of Rose; of her beloved by
Evan. The fever that had left her blood, had left it stagnant, and her
thoughts were quite emotionless. She looked faintly on a far picture.
She saw Rose blooming with pleasures in Elburne House, sliding as a boat
borne by the river's tide to sea, away from her living joy. The breast
of Rose was lucid to her, and in that hour of insight she had clear
knowledge of her cousin's heart; how it scoffed at its base love, and
unwittingly betrayed the power on her still, by clinging to the world and
what it would give her to fill the void; how externally the lake was
untroubled, and a mirror to the passing day; and how within there pressed
a flood against an iron dam. Evan, too, she saw. The Countess was right
in her judgement of Juliana's love. Juliana looked very little to his
qualities. She loved him when she thought him guilty, which made her
conceive that her love was of a diviner cast than Rose was capable of.
Guilt did not spoil his beauty to her; his gentleness and glowing manhood
were unchanged; and when she knew him as he was, the revelation of his
high nature simply confirmed her impression of his physical perfections.
She had done him a wrong; at her death news would come to him, and it
might be that he would bless her name. Because she sighed no longer for
those dear lips and strong arms to close about her tremulous frame, it
seemed to her that she had quite surrendered him. Generous to Evan, she
would be just to Rose. Beneath her pillow she found pencil and paper,
and with difficulty, scarce seeing her letters in the brown light, she
began to trace lines of farewell to Rose. Her conscience dictated to her
thus, 'Tell Rose that she was too ready to accept his guilt; and that in
this as in all things, she acted with the precipitation of her character.
Tell her that you always trusted, and that now you know him innocent.
Give her the proofs you have. Show that he did it to shield his
intriguing sister. Tell her that you write this only to make her just to
him. End with a prayer that Rose may be happy.'
Ere Juliana had finished one sentence, she resigned the pencil. Was it
not much, even at the gates of death, to be the instrument to send Rose
into his arms? The picture swayed before her, helping her weakness. She
found herself dreaming that he had kissed her once. Dorothy, she
remembered, had danced up to her one day, to relate what the maids of the
house said of the gentleman--(at whom, it is known, they look with the
licence of cats toward kings); and Dorothy's fresh careless mouth had
told how one observant maid, amorously minded, proclaimed of Evan, to a
companion of her sex, that, 'he was the only gentleman who gave you an
idea of how he would look when he was kissing you.' Juliana cherished
that vision likewise. Young ladies are not supposed to do so, if menial
maids are; but Juliana did cherish it, and it possessed her fancy. Bear
in your recollection that she was not a healthy person. Diseased little
heroines may be made attractive, and are now popular; but strip off the
cleverly woven robe which is fashioned to cover them, and you will find
them in certain matters bearing a resemblance to menial maids.
While the thoughts of his kiss lasted, she could do nothing; but lay with
her two hands out on the bed, and her eyelids closed. Then waking, she
took the pencil again. It would not move: her bloodless fingers fell
'If they do not meet, and he never marries, I may claim him in the next
world,' she mused.
But conscience continued uneasy. She turned her wrist and trailed a
letter from beneath the pillow. It was from Mrs. Shorne. Juliana knew
the contents. She raised it unopened as high as her faltering hands
permitted, and read like one whose shut eyes read syllables of fire on
'Rose has at last definitely engaged herself to Ferdinand, you will be
glad to hear, and we may now treat her as a woman.'
Having absorbed these words, Juliana's hand found strength to write, with
little difficulty, what she had to say to Rose. She conceived it to be
neither sublime nor generous: not even good; merely her peculiar duty.
When it was done, she gave a long, low sigh of relief.
Caroline whispered, 'Dearest child, are you awake?'
'Yes,' she answered.
' Very quiet.'
Caroline reached her hand over to her, and felt the paper. 'What is
'My good-bye to Rose. I want it folded now.'
Caroline slipped from the couch to fulfil her wish. She enclosed the
pencilled scrap of paper, sealed it, and asked, ' Is that right?'
'Now unlock my desk,' Juliana uttered, feebly. 'Put it beside a letter
addressed to a law-gentleman. Post both the morning I am gone.'
Caroline promised to obey, and coming to Juliana to mark her looks,
observed a faint pleased smile dying away, and had her hand gently
squeezed. Juliana's conscience had preceded her contentedly to its last
sleep; and she, beneath that round of light on the ceiling, drew on her
counted breaths in peace till dawn.
Have you seen a young audacious spirit smitten to the earth? It is a
singular study; and, in the case of young women, a trap for inexperienced
men. Rose, who had commanded and managed every one surrounding her since
infancy, how humble had she now become!--how much more womanly in
appearance, and more child-like at heart! She was as wax in Lady
Elburne's hands. A hint of that veiled episode, the Beckley campaign,
made Rose pliant, as if she had woven for herself a rod of scorpions.
The high ground she had taken; the perfect trust in one; the scorn of any
judgement, save her own; these had vanished from her. Rose, the tameless
heroine who had once put her mother's philosophy in action, was the
easiest filly that turbaned matron ever yet drove into the straight road
of the world. It even surprised Lady Jocelyn to see how wonderfully she
had been broken in by her grandmother. Her ladyship wrote to Drummond to
tell him of it, and Drummond congratulated her, saying, however: 'Changes
of this sort don't come of conviction. Wait till you see her at home.
I think they have been sticking pins into the sore part.'
Drummond knew Rose well. In reality there was no change in her. She was
only a suppliant to be spared from ridicule: spared from the application
of the scourge she had woven for herself.
And, ah! to one who deigned to think warmly still of such a disgraced
silly creature, with what gratitude she turned! He might well suppose
love alone could pour that profusion of jewels at his feet.
Ferdinand, now Lord Laxley, understood the merits of his finger-nails
better than the nature of young women; but he is not to be blamed for
presuming that Rose had learnt to adore him. Else why did she like his
company so much? He was not mistaken in thinking she looked up to him.
She seemed to beg to be taken into his noble serenity. In truth she
sighed to feel as he did, above everybody!--she that had fallen so low!
Above everybody!--born above them, and therefore superior by grace
divine! To this Rose Jocelyn had come--she envied the mind of Ferdinand.
He, you may be sure, was quite prepared to accept her homage. Rose he
had always known to be just the girl for him; spirited, fresh, and with
fine teeth; and once tied to you safe to be staunch. They walked
together, rode together, danced together. Her soft humility touched him
to eloquence. Say she was a little hypocrite, if you like, when the
blood came to her cheeks under his eyes. Say she was a heartless minx
for allowing it to be bruited that she and Ferdinand were betrothed. I
can but tell you that her blushes were blushes of gratitude to one who
could devote his time to such a disgraced silly creature, and that she,
in her abject state, felt a secret pleasure in the protection Ferdinand's
name appeared to extend over her, and was hardly willing to lose it.
So far Lady Elburne's tact and discipline had been highly successful.
One morning, in May, Ferdinand, strolling with Rose down the garden made
a positive appeal to her common sense and friendly feeling; by which she
understood that he wanted her consent to his marriage with her.
'Who would have me?'
Ferdinand spoke pretty well, and ultimately got possession of her hand.
She let him keep it, thinking him noble for forgetting that another had
pressed it before him.
Some minutes later the letters were delivered. One of them contained
Juliana's dark-winged missive.
'Poor, poor Juley!' said Rose, dropping her head, after reading all that
was on the crumpled leaf with an inflexible face. And then, talking on,
long low sighs lifted her bosom at intervals. She gazed from time to
time with a wistful conciliatory air on Ferdinand. Rushing to her
chamber, the first cry her soul framed was:
'He did not kiss me!'
The young have a superstitious sense of something incontestably true in
the final protestations of the dead. Evan guiltless! she could not
quite take the meaning this revelation involved. That which had been
dead was beginning to move within her; but blindly: and now it stirred
and troubled; now sank. Guiltless all she had thought him! Oh! she
knew she could not have been deceived. But why, why had he hidden his
sacrifice from her?
'It is better for us both, of course,' said Rose, speaking the world's
wisdom, parrot-like, and bursting into tears the next minute. Guiltless,
and gloriously guiltless! but nothing--nothing to her!
She tried to blame him. It would not do. She tried to think of that
grovelling loathsome position painted to her by Lady Elburne's graphic
hand. Evan dispersed the gloomy shades like sunshine. Then in a sort of
terror she rejoiced to think she was partially engaged to Ferdinand, and
found herself crying again with exultation, that he had not kissed her:
for a kiss on her mouth was to Rose a pledge and a bond.
The struggle searched her through: bared her weakness, probed her
strength; and she, seeing herself, suffered grievously in her self-love.
Am I such a coward, inconstant, cold? she asked. Confirmatory answers
coming, flung her back under the shield of Ferdinand if for a moment her
soul stood up armed and defiant, it was Evan's hand she took.
To whom do I belong? was another terrible question. In her ideas, if
Evan was not chargeable with that baseness which had sundered them he
might claim her yet, if he would. If he did, what then? Must she go to
Impossible: she was in chains. Besides, what a din of laughter there
would be to see her led away by him. Twisting her joined hands: weeping
for her cousin, as she thought, Rose passed hours of torment over
Juliana's legacy to her.
'Why did I doubt him?' she cried, jealous that any soul should have known
and trusted him better. Jealous and I am afraid that the kindling of
that one feature of love relighted the fire of her passion thus fervidly.
To be outstripped in generosity was hateful to her. Rose, naturally,
could not reflect that a young creature like herself, fighting against
the world, as we call it, has all her faculties at the utmost stretch,
and is often betrayed by failing nature when the will is still valiant.
And here she sat-in chains! 'Yes! I am fit only to be the wife of an
idle brainless man, with money and a title,' she said, in extreme self-
contempt. She caught a glimpse of her whole life in the horrid tomb of
his embrace, and questions whether she could yield her hand to him--
whether it was right in the eyes of heaven, rushed impetuously to console
her, and defied anything in the shape of satisfactory affirmations.
Nevertheless, the end of the struggle was, that she felt that she was
bound to Ferdinand.
'But this I will do,' said Rose, standing with heat-bright eyes and deep-
coloured cheeks before the glass. 'I will clear his character at
Beckley. I will help him. I will be his friend. I will wipe out the
injustice I did him.' And this bride-elect of a lord absolutely added
that she was unworthy to be the wife of a tailor!
'He! how unequalled he is! There is nothing he fears except shame.
Oh! how sad it will be for him to find no woman in his class to
understand him and be his helpmate!'
Over, this sad subject, of which we must presume her to be accurately
cognizant, Rose brooded heavily. By mid-day she gave her Grandmother
notice that she was going home to Juliana's funeral.
'Well, Rose, if you think it necessary to join the ceremony,' said Lady
Elburne. 'Beckley is bad quarters for you, as you have learnt. There
was never much love between you cousins.'
'No, and I don't pretend to it,' Rose answered. 'I am sorry poor Juley's
'She's better gone for many reasons--she appears to have been a little
venomous toad,' said Lady Elburne; and Rose, thinking of a snakelike
death-bite working through her blood, rejoined: 'Yes, she isn't to be
pitied she 's better off than most people.'
So it was arranged that Rose should go. Ferdinand and her aunt, Mrs.
Shorne, accompanied her. Mrs. Shorne gave them their opportunities,
albeit they were all stowed together in a carriage, and Ferdinand seemed
willing to profit by them; but Rose's hand was dead, and she sat by her
future lord forming the vow on her lips that they should never be touched
Arrived at Beckley, she, to her great delight, found Caroline there,
waiting for the funeral. In a few minutes she got her alone, and after
kisses, looked penetratingly into her lovely eyes, shook her head, and
said: 'Why were you false to me?'
'False?' echoed Caroline.
'You knew him. You knew why he did that. Why did you not save me?'
Caroline fell upon her neck, asking pardon. She spared her the recital
of facts further than the broad avowal. Evan's present condition she
plainly stated: and Rose, when the bitter pangs had ceased, made oath to
her soul she would rescue him from it.
In addition to the task of clearing Evan's character, and rescuing him,
Rose now conceived that her engagement to Ferdinand must stand ice-bound
till Evan had given her back her troth. How could she obtain it from
him? How could she take anything from one so noble and so poor! Happily
there was no hurry; though before any bond was ratified, she decided
conscientiously that it must be done.
You see that like a lithe snake she turns on herself, and must be
tracked in and out. Not being a girl to solve the problem with tears,
or outright perfidy, she had to ease her heart to the great shock little
by little--sincere as far as she knew: as far as one who loves may be.
The day of the funeral came and went. The Jocelyns were of their
mother's opinion: that for many reasons Juliana was better out of the
way. Mrs. Bonner's bequest had been a severe blow to Sir Franks.
However, all was now well. The estate naturally lapsed to Lady Jocelyn.
No one in the house dreamed of a will, signed with Juliana's name,
attested, under due legal forms, being in existence. None of the members
of the family imagined that at Beckley Court they were then residing on
somebody else's ground.
Want of hospitable sentiments was not the cause that led to an intimation
from Sir Franks to his wife, that Mrs. Strike must not be pressed to
remain, and that Rose must not be permitted to have her own way in this.
Knowing very well that Mrs. Shorne spoke through her husband's mouth,
Lady Jocelyn still acquiesced, and Rose, who had pressed Caroline
publicly to stay, had to be silent when the latter renewed her faint
objections; so Caroline said she would leave on the morrow morning.
Juliana, with her fretfulness, her hand bounties, her petty egoisms, and
sudden far-leaping generosities, and all the contradictory impulses of
her malady, had now departed utterly. The joys of a landed proprietor
mounted into the head of Sir Franks. He was up early the next morning,
and he and Harry walked over a good bit of the ground before breakfast.
Sir Franks meditated making it entail, and favoured Harry with a lecture
on the duty of his shaping the course of his conduct at once after the
model of the landed gentry generally.
'And you may think yourself lucky to come into that catalogue--the son of
a younger son!' said Sir Franks, tapping Mr. Harry's shoulder. Harry
also began to enjoy the look and smell of land. At the breakfast, which,
though early, was well attended, Harry spoke of the adviseability of
felling timber here, planting there, and so forth, after the model his
father held up. Sir Franks nodded approval of his interest in the
estate, but reserved his opinion on matters of detail.
'All I beg of you is,' said Lady Jocelyn, 'that you won't let us have
turnips within the circuit of a mile'; which was obligingly promised.
The morning letters were delivered and opened with the customary
'Letter from old George,' Harry sings out, and buzzes over a few lines.
'Halloa!--Hum!' He was going to make a communication, but catching sight
of Caroline, tossed the letter over to Ferdinand, who read it and tossed
it back with the comment of a careless face.
'Read it, Rosey?' says Harry, smiling bluntly.
Rather to his surprise, Rose took the letter. Study her eyes if you wish
to gauge the potency of one strong dose of ridicule on an ingenuous young
heart. She read that Mr. George Uplift had met 'our friend Mr. Snip'
riding, by moonlight, on the road to Beckley. That great orbed night of
their deep tender love flashed luminously through her frame, storming at
the base epithet by which her lover was mentioned, flooding grandly over
the ignominies cast on him by the world. She met the world, as it were,
in a death-grapple; she matched the living heroic youth she felt him to
be, with that dead wooden image of him which it thrust before her. Her
heart stood up singing like a craven who sees the tide of victory setting
toward him. But this passed beneath her eyelids. When her eyes were
lifted, Ferdinand could have discovered nothing in them to complain of,
had his suspicions been light to raise: nor could Mrs. Shorne perceive
that there was the opening for a shrewd bodkin-thrust. Rose had got a
mask at last: her colour, voice, expression, were perfectly at command.
She knew it to be a cowardice to wear any mask: but she had been burnt,
horribly burnt: how much so you may guess from the supple dissimulation
of such a bold clear-visaged girl. She conquered the sneers of the world
in her soul: but her sensitive skin was yet alive to the pangs of the
scorching it had been subjected to when weak, helpless, and betrayed by
Evan, she stood with no philosophic parent to cry fair play for her,
among the skilful torturers of Elburne House.
Sir Franks had risen and walked to the window.
'News?' said Lady Jocelyn, wheeling round in her chair.
The one eyebrow up of the easy-going baronet signified trouble of mind.
He finished his third perusal of a letter that appeared to be written in
a remarkably plain legal hand, and looking as men do when their
intelligences are just equal to the comprehension or expression of an
oath, handed the letter to his wife, and observed that he should be found
in the library. Nevertheless he waited first to mark its effect on Lady
Jocelyn. At one part of the document her forehead wrinkled slightly.
'Doesn't sound like a joke!' he said.
Sir Franks, apparently quite satisfied by her ready response, turned on
his heel and left the room quickly.
An hour afterward it was rumoured and confirmed that Juliana Bonner had
willed all the worldly property she held in her own right, comprising
Beckley Court, to Mr. Evan Harrington, of Lymport, tailor. An abstract
of the will was forwarded. The lawyer went on to say, that he had
conformed to the desire of the testatrix in communicating the existence
of the aforesaid will six days subsequent to her death, being the day
after her funeral.
There had been railing and jeering at the Countess de Saldar, the clever
outwitted exposed adventuress, at Elburne House and Beckley Court. What
did the crowing cleverer aristocrats think of her now?
On Rose the blow fell bitterly. Was Evan also a foul schemer? Was he of
a piece with his intriguing sister? His close kinship with the Countess
had led her to think baseness possible to him when it was confessed by
his own mouth once. She heard black names cast at him and the whole of
the great Mel's brood, and incapable of quite disbelieving them merited,
unable to challenge and rebut them, she dropped into her recent state of
self-contempt: into her lately-instilled doubt whether it really was in
Nature's power, unaided by family-portraits, coats-of-arms, ball-room
practice, and at least one small phial of Essence of Society, to make a
CONTAINS A WARNING TO ALL CONSPIRATORS
This, if you have done me the favour to read it aright, has been a
chronicle of desperate heroism on the part of almost all the principal
personages represented. But not the Countess de Saldar, scaling the
embattled fortress of Society; nor Rose, tossing its keys to her lover
from the shining turret-tops; nor Evan, keeping bright the lamp of self-
respect in his bosom against South wind and East; none excel friend
Andrew Cogglesby, who, having fallen into Old Tom's plot to humiliate his
wife and her sisters, simply for Evan's sake, and without any distinct
notion of the terror, confusion, and universal upset he was bringing on
his home, could yet, after a scared contemplation of the scene when he
returned from his expedition to Fallow field, continue to wear his rueful
mask; and persevere in treacherously outraging his lofty wife.
He did it to vindicate the ties of blood against accidents of position.
Was he justified? I am sufficiently wise to ask my own sex alone.
On the other side, be it said (since in our modern days every hero must
have his weak heel), that now he had gone this distance it was difficult
to recede. It would be no laughing matter to tell his solemn Harriet
that he had been playing her a little practical joke. His temptations to
give it up were incessant and most agitating; but if to advance seemed
terrific, there was, in stopping short, an awfulness so overwhelming that
Andrew abandoned himself to the current, his real dismay adding to his
The worst was, that the joke was no longer his: it was Old Tom's. He
discovered that he was in Old Tom's hands completely. Andrew had thought
that he would just frighten the women a bit, get them down to Lymport for
a week or so, and then announce that matters were not so bad with the
Brewery as he had feared; concluding the farce with a few domestic
fireworks. Conceive his dismay when he entered the house, to find there
a man in possession.
Andrew flew into such a rage that he committed an assault on the man.
So ungovernable was his passion, that for some minutes Harriet's measured
voice summoned him from over the banisters above, quite in vain. The
miserable Englishman refused to be taught that his house had ceased to be
his castle. It was something beyond a joke, this! The intruder,
perfectly docile, seeing that by accurate calculation every shake he got
involved a bottle of wine for him, and ultimate compensation probably to
the amount of a couple of sovereigns, allowed himself to be lugged up
stairs, in default of summary ejection on the point of Andrew's toe into
the street. There he was faced to the lady of the house, who apologized
to him, and requested her husband to state what had made him guilty of
this indecent behaviour. The man showed his papers. They were quite in
order. 'At the suit of Messrs. Grist.'
'My own lawyers!' cried Andrew, smacking his forehead; and Old Tom's
devilry flashed on him at once. He sank into a chair.
'Why did you bring this person up here?' said Harriet, like a speaking
'My dear!' Andrew answered, and spread out his hand, and waggled his
head; 'My--please!--I--I don't know. We all want exercise.'
The man laughed, which was kindly of him, but offensive to Mrs.
Cogglesby, who gave Andrew a glance which was full payment for his
imbecile pleasantry, and promised more.
With a hospitable inquiry as to the condition of his appetite, and a
request that he would be pleased to satisfy it to the full, the man was
dismissed: whereat, as one delivered of noxious presences, the Countess
rustled into sight. Not noticing Andrew, she lisped to Harriet:
'Misfortunes are sometimes no curses! I bless the catarrh that has
confined Silva to his chamber, and saved him from a bestial exhibition.'
The two ladies then swept from the room, and left Andrew to perspire at
Fresh tribulations awaited him when he sat down to dinner. Andrew liked
his dinner to be comfortable, good, and in plenty. This may not seem
strange. The fact is stated that I may win for him the warm sympathies
of the body of his countrymen. He was greeted by a piece of cold boiled
neck of mutton and a solitary dish of steaming potatoes. The blank
expanse of table-cloth returned his desolate stare.
'Why, what's the meaning of this?' Andrew brutally exclaimed, as he
thumped the table.
The Countess gave a start, and rolled a look as of piteous supplication
to spare a lady's nerves, addressed to a ferocious brigand. Harriet
answered: ' It means that I will have no butcher's bills.'
'Butcher's bills!' butcher's bills!' echoed Andrew; 'why, you must have
butcher's bills; why, confound! why, you'll have a bill for this, won't
you, Harry? eh? of course!'
'There will be no more bills dating from yesterday,' said his wife.
'What! this is paid for, then?'
'Yes, Mr. Cogglesby; and so will all household expenses be, while my
Resting his eyes full on Harriet a minute, Andrew dropped them on the
savourless white-rimmed chop, which looked as lonely in his plate as its
parent dish on the table. The poor dear creature's pocket-money had paid
for it! The thought, mingling with a rush of emotion, made his ideas
spin. His imagination surged deliriously. He fancied himself at the
Zoological Gardens, exchanging pathetic glances with a melancholy
marmoset. Wonderfully like one the chop looked! There was no use in
his trying to eat it. He seemed to be fixing his teeth in solid tears.
He choked. Twice he took up knife and fork, put them down again, and
plucking forth his handkerchief, blew a tremendous trumpet, that sent the
Countess's eyes rolling to the ceiling, as if heaven were her sole refuge
from such vulgarity.
'Damn that Old Tom!' he shouted at last, and pitched back in his chair.
'Mr. Cogglesby!' and 'In the presence of ladies!' were the admonishing
interjections of the sisters, at whom the little man frowned in turns.
'Do you wish us to quit the room, sir?' inquired his wife.
'God bless your soul, you little darling!' he apostrophized that stately
person. 'Here, come along with me, Harry. A wife's a wife, I say--hang
it! Just outside the room--just a second! or up in a corner will do.'
Mrs. Cogglesby was amazed to see him jump up and run round to her. She
was prepared to defend her neck from his caress, and refused to go: but
the words, 'Something particular to tell you,' awakened her curiosity,
which urged her to compliance. She rose and went with him to the door.
'Well, sir; what is it?'
No doubt he was acting under a momentary weakness he was about to betray
the plot and take his chance of forgiveness; but her towering port, her
commanding aspect, restored his courage. (There may be a contrary view
of the case.) He enclosed her briskly in a connubial hug, and remarked
with mad ecstasy: 'What a duck you are, Harry! What a likeness between
you and your mother.'
Mrs. Cogglesby disengaged herself imperiously. Had he called her aside
for this gratuitous insult? Contrite, he saw his dreadful error.
'Harry! I declare!' was all he was allowed to say. Mrs. Cogglesby
marched back to her chair, and recommenced the repast in majestic
Andrew sighed; he attempted to do the same. He stuck his fork in the
blanched whiskerage of his marmoset, and exclaimed: 'I can't!'
He was unnoticed.
'You do not object to plain diet?' said Harriet to Louisa.
'Oh, no, in verity!' murmured the Countess. 'However plain it be!
Absence of appetite, dearest. You are aware I partook of luncheon at
mid-day with the Honourable and Reverend Mr. Duffian. You must not look
condemnation at your Louy for that. Luncheon is not conversion!'
Harriet observed that this might be true; but still, to her mind, it was
a mistake to be too intimate with dangerous people. 'And besides,' she
added, 'Mr. Duffian is no longer "the Reverend." We deprive all
renegades of their spiritual titles. His worldly ones let him keep.'
Her superb disdain nettled the Countess.
'Dear Harriet!' she said, with less languor, 'You are utterly and totally
and entirely mistaken. I tell you so positively. Renegade! The
application of such a word to such a man! Oh! and it is false, Harriet
quite! Renegade means one who has gone over to the Turks, my dear. I am
almost certain I saw it in Johnson's Dictionary, or an: improvement upon
Johnson, by a more learned author. But there is the fact, if Harriet can
only bring her--shall I say stiff-necked prejudices to envisage it?'
Harriet granted her sister permission to apply the phrases she stood in
need of, without impeaching her intimacy with the most learned among
'And is there no such thing as being too severe?' the Countess resumed.
'What our enemies call unchristian!'
'Mr. Duffian has no cause to complain of us,' said Harriet.
'Nor does he do so, dearest. Calumny may assail him; you may utterly
'Adam!' interposed Andrew, distractedly listening. He did not disturb
the Countess's flow.
'You may vilify and victimize Mr. Duffian, and strip him of the honours
of his birth, but, like the Martyrs, he will still continue the perfect
nobleman. Stoned, I assure you that Mr. Duffian would preserve his
breeding. In character he is exquisite; a polish to defy misfortune.'
'I suppose his table is good?' said Harriet, almost ruffled by the
'Plate,' was remarked in the cold tone of supreme indifference.
'Hem! good wines?' Andrew asked, waking up a little and not wishing to
be excluded altogether.
'All is of the very best,' the Countess pursued her eulogy, not looking
'Don't you think you could--eh, Harry?--manage a pint for me, my dear?'
Andrew humbly petitioned. 'This cold water--ha! ha! my stomach don't
like cold bathing.'
His wretched joke rebounded from the impenetrable armour of the ladies.
'The wine-cellar is locked,' said his wife. 'I have sealed up the key
till an inventory can be taken by some agent of the creditors.'
'What creditors?' roared Andrew.
'You can have some of the servants' beer,' Mrs. Cogglesby appended.
Andrew studied her face to see whether she really was not hoisting him
with his own petard. Perceiving that she was sincerely acting according
to her sense of principle, he fumed, and departed to his privacy, unable
to stand it any longer.
Then like a kite the Countess pounced upon his character. Would the
Honourable and Reverend Mr. Duflian decline to participate in the sparest
provender? Would he be guilty of the discourtesy of leaving table
without a bow or an apology, even if reduced to extremest poverty? No,
indeed! which showed that, under all circumstances, a gentleman was a
gentleman. And, oh! how she pitied her poor Harriet--eternally tied
to a most vulgar little man, without the gilding of wealth.
'And a fool in his business to boot, dear!'
'These comparisons do no good,' said Harriet. 'Andrew at least is not a
renegade, and never shall be while I live. I will do my duty by him,
however poor we are. And now, Louisa, putting my husband out of the
question, what are your intentions? I don't understand bankruptcy, but
I imagine they can do nothing to wife and children. My little ones must
have a roof over their heads; and, besides, there is little Maxwell. You
decline to go down to Lymport, of course.'
'Decline!' cried the Countess, melodiously; 'and do not you?'
'As far as I am concerned--yes. But I am not to think of myself.'
The Countess meditated, and said: 'Dear Mr. Duflian has offered me his
hospitality. Renegades are not absolutely inhuman. They may be
generous. I have no moral doubt that Mr. Duflian would, upon my
representation--dare I venture?'
'Sleep in his house! break bread with him!' exclaimed Harriet. 'What do
you think I am made of? I would perish--go to the workhouse, rather!'
'I see you trooping there,' said the Countess, intent on the vision.
'And have you accepted his invitation for yourself, Louisa?'
The Countess was never to be daunted by threatening aspects. She gave
her affirmative with calmness and a deliberate smile.
'You are going to live with him?'
'Live with him! What expressions! My husband accompanies me.'
Harriet drew up.
'I know nothing, Louisa, that could give me more pain.'
The Countess patted Harriet's knee. 'It succeeds to bankruptcy,
assuredly. But would you have me drag Silva to the--the shop, Harriet,
Mrs. Andrew got up and rang the bell to have the remains of their dinner
removed. When this was done, she said,
'Louisa, I don't know whether I am justified: you told me to-day I might
keep my jewels, trinkets, and lace, and such like. To me, I know they do
not belong now: but I will dispose of them to procure you an asylum
somewhere--they will fetch, I should think, L400,--to prevent your going
to Mr. Duffian.'
No exhibition of great-mindedness which the Countess could perceive, ever
found her below it.
'Never, love, never!' she said.
'Then, will you go to Evan?'
'Evan? I hate him!' The olive-hued visage was dark. It brightened as
she added, 'At least as much as my religious sentiments permit me to. A
boy who has thwarted me at every turn!--disgraced us! Indeed, I find it
difficult to pardon you the supposition of such a possibility as your own
consent to look on him ever again, Harriet.'
'You have no children,' said Mrs. Andrew.
The Countess mournfully admitted it.
'There lies your danger with Mr. Duffian, Louisa!'
'What! do you doubt my virtue?' asked the Countess.
'Pish! I fear something different. You understand me. Mr. Duflian's
moral reputation is none of the best, perhaps.'
'That was before he renegaded,' said the Countess.
Harriet bluntly rejoined: 'You will leave that house a Roman Catholic.'
'Now you have spoken,' said the Countess, pluming. ' Now let me explain
myself. My dear, I have fought worldly battles too long and too
earnestly. I am rightly punished. I do but quote Herbert Duffian's own
words: he is no flatterer though you say he has such soft fingers. I am
now engaged in a spiritual contest. He is very wealthy! I have resolved
to rescue back to our Church what can benefit the flock of which we form
a portion, so exceedingly!'
At this revelation of the Countess's spiritual contest, Mrs. Andrew shook
a worldly head.
'You have no chance with men there, Louisa.'
'My Harriet complains of female weakness!'
'Yes. We are strong in our own element, Louisa. Don't be tempted out of
Sublime, the Countess rose:
'Element! am I to be confined to one? What but spiritual solaces
could assist me to live, after the degradations I have had heaped on me?
I renounce the world. I turn my sight to realms where caste is unknown.
I feel no shame there of being a tailor's daughter. You see, I can bring
my tongue to name the thing in its actuality. Once, that member would
have blistered. Confess to me that, in spite of your children, you are
tempted to howl at the idea of Lymport--'
The Countess paused, and like a lady about to fire off a gun, appeared to
tighten her nerves, crying out rapidly:
'Shop! Shears! Geese! Cabbage! Snip! Nine to a man!'
Even as the silence after explosions of cannon, that which reigned in the
room was deep and dreadful.
'See,' the Countess continued, 'you are horrified you shudder. I name
all our titles, and if I wish to be red in my cheeks, I must rouge. It
is, in verity, as if my senseless clay were pelted, as we heard of Evan
at his first Lymport boys' school. You remember when he told us the
story? He lisped a trifle then. "I'm the thon of a thnip." Oh! it was
hell-fire to us, then; but now, what do I feel? Why, I avowed it to
Herbert Duffian openly, and he said, that the misfortune of dear Papa's
birth did not the less enable him to proclaim himself in conduct a
'Which he never was.' Harriet broke the rhapsody in a monotonous low
tone: the Countess was not compelled to hear:
'--and that a large outfitter--one of the very largest, was in reality a
merchant, whose daughters have often wedded nobles of the land, and
become ancestresses! Now, Harriet, do you see what a truly religious
mind can do for us in the way of comfort? Oh! I bow in gratitude to
Herbert Duffian. I will not rest till I have led him back to our fold,
recovered from his error. He was our own preacher and pastor. He
quitted us from conviction. He shall return to us from conviction.'
The Countess quoted texts, which I respect, and will not repeat. She
descanted further on spiritualism, and on the balm that it was to tailors
and their offspring; to all outcasts from Society.
Overpowered by her, Harriet thus summed up her opinions: 'You were always
'Say, full of sacrifice, if you would be just,' added the Countess; 'and
the victim of basest ingratitude.'
'Well, you are in a dangerous path, Louisa.'
Harriet had the last word, which usually the Countess was not disposed to
accord; but now she knew herself strengthened to do so, and was content
to smile pityingly on her sister.
Full upon them in this frame of mind, arrived Caroline's great news from
It was then that the Countess's conduct proved a memorable refutation of
cynical philosophy: she rejoiced in the good fortune of him who had
offended her! Though he was not crushed and annihilated (as he deserved
to be) by the wrong he had done, the great-hearted woman pardoned him!
Her first remark was: 'Let him thank me for it or not, I will lose no
moment in hastening to load him with my congratulations.'
Pleasantly she joked Andrew, and defended him from Harriet now.
'So we are not all bankrupts, you see, dear brother-in-law.'
Andrew had become so demoralized by his own plot, that in every turn of
events he scented a similar piece of human ingenuity. Harriet was angry
with his disbelief, or say, the grudging credit he gave to the glorious
news. Notwithstanding her calmness, the thoughts of Lymport had sickened
her soul, and it was only for the sake of her children, and from a sense
of the dishonesty of spending a farthing of the money belonging, as she
conceived, to the creditors, that she had consented to go.
'I see your motive, Mr. Cogglesby,' she observed. 'Your measures are
disconcerted. I will remain here till my brother gives me shelter.'
'Oh, that'll do,, my love; that's all I want,' said Andrew, sincerely.
'Both of you, fools!' the Countess interjected. 'Know you Evan so
little? He will receive us anywhere: his arms are open to his kindred:
but to his heart the road is through humiliation, and it is to his heart
we seek admittance.'
'What do you mean?' Harriet inquired.
'Just this,' the Countess answered in bold English and her eyes were
lively, her figure elastic: ' We must all of us go down to the old shop
and shake his hand there--every man Jack of us!--I'm only quoting the
sailors, Harriet--and that's the way to win him.'
She snapped her fingers, laughing. Harriet stared at her, and so did
Andrew, though for a different reason. She seemed to be transformed.
Seeing him inclined to gape, she ran up to him, caught up his chin
between her ten fingers, and kissed him on both cheeks, saying:
'You needn't come, if you're too proud, you know, little man!'
And to Harriet's look of disgust, the cause for which she divined with
her native rapidity, she said: 'What does it matter? They will talk, but
they can't look down on us now. Why, this is my doing!'
She came tripping to her tall sister, to ask plaintively 'Mayn't I be
glad?' and bobbed a curtsey.
Harriet desired Andrew to leave them. Flushed and indignant she then
faced the Countess.
'So unnecessary!' she began. 'What can excuse your indiscretion,
The Countess smiled to hear her talking to her younger sister once more.
'Oh, if you will keep up the fiction, do. Andrew knows--he isn't an
idiot--and to him we can make light of it now. What does anybody's birth
matter, who's well off!'
It was impossible for Harriet to take that view. The shop, if not the
thing, might still have been concealed from her husband, she thought.
'It mattered to me when I was well off,' she said, sternly.
'Yes; and to me when I was; but we've had a fall and a lesson since
that, my dear. Half the aristocracy of England spring from shops!--
Shall I measure you?'
Harriet never felt such a desire to inflict a slap upon mortal cheek.
She marched away from her in a tiff. On the other hand, Andrew was half
fascinated by the Countess's sudden re-assumption of girlhood, and
returned--silly fellow! to have another look at her. She had ceased, on
reflection, to be altogether so vivacious: her stronger second nature had
somewhat resumed its empire: still she was fresh, and could at times be
roguishly affectionate and she patted him, and petted him, and made much
of him; slightly railed at him for his uxoriousness and domestic
subjection, and proffered him her fingers to try the taste of. The truth
must be told: Mr. Duflian not being handy, she in her renewed earthly
happiness wanted to see her charms in a woman's natural mirror: namely,
the face of man: if of man on his knees, all the better and though a
little man is not much of a man, and a sister's husband is, or should be,
hardly one at all, still some sort of a reflector he must be. Two or
three jests adapted to Andrew's palate achieved his momentary
He said: 'Gad, I never kissed you in my life, Louy.'
And she, with a flavour of delicate Irish brogue, 'Why don't ye catch
opportunity by the tail, then?'
Perfect innocence, I assure you, on both sides.
But mark how stupidity betrays. Andrew failed to understand her, and act
on the hint immediately. Had he done so, the affair would have been over
without a witness. As it happened, delay permitted Harriet to assist at
'It wasn't your mouth, Louy,' said Andrew.
'Oh, my mouth!--that I keep for, my chosen,' was answered.
'Gad, you make a fellow almost wish--' Andrew's fingers worked over his
poll, and then the spectre of righteous wrath flashed on him--naughty
little man that he was! He knew himself naughty, for it was the only
time since his marriage that he had ever been sorry to see his wife.
This is a comedy, and I must not preach lessons of life here: but I am
obliged to remark that the husband must be proof, the sister-in-law
perfect, where arrangements exist that keep them under one roof. She may
be so like his wife! Or, from the knowledge she has of his
circumstances, she may talk to him almost as his wife. He may forget
that she is not his wife! And then again, the small beginnings, which
are in reality the mighty barriers, are so easily slid over. But what is
the use of telling this to a pure generation? My constant error is in
supposing that I write for the wicked people who begat us.
Note, however, the difference between the woman and the man! Shame
confessed Andrew's naughtiness; he sniggered pitiably: whereas the
Countess jumped up, and pointing at him, asked her sister what she
thought of that. Her next sentence, coolly delivered, related to some
millinery matter. If this was not innocence, what is?
Nevertheless, I must here state that the scene related, innocent as it
was, and, as one would naturally imagine, of puny consequence, if any,
did no less a thing than, subsequently, to precipitate the Protestant
Countess de Saldar into the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church. A little
bit of play!
It seems barely just. But if, as I have heard, a lady has trod on a
pebble and broken her nose, tremendous results like these warn us to be
careful how we walk. As for play, it was never intended that we should
play with flesh and blood.
And, oh, be charitable, matrons of Britain! See here, Andrew Cogglesby,
who loved his wife as his very soul, and who almost disliked her sister;
in ten minutes the latter had set his head spinning! The whole of the
day he went about the house meditating frantically on the possibility of
his Harriet demanding a divorce.
She was not the sort of woman to do that. But one thing she resolved to
do; and it was, to go to Lymport with Louisa, and having once got her out
of her dwelling-place, never to allow her to enter it, wherever it might
be, in the light of a resident again. Whether anything but the menace of
a participation in her conjugal possessions could have despatched her to
that hateful place, I doubt. She went: she would not let Andrew be out
of her sight. Growing haughtier toward him at every step, she advanced
to the strange old shop. EVAN HARRINGTON over the door! There the
Countess, having meantime returned to her state of womanhood, shared her
shudders. They entered, and passed in to Mrs. Mel, leaving their
footman, apparently, in the rear. Evan was not visible. A man in the
shop, with a yard measure negligently adorning his shoulders, said that
Mr. Harrington was in the habit of quitting the shop at five.
'Deuced good habit, too,' said Andrew.
'Why, sir,' observed another, stepping forward, 'as you truly say--yes.
But--ah! Mr. Andrew Cogglesby? Pleasure of meeting you once in Fallow
field! Remember Mr. Perkins?--the lawyer, not the maltster. Will you do
me the favour to step out with me?'
Andrew followed him into the street.
'Are you aware of our young friend's good fortune?' said Lawyer Perkins.
'Yes. Ah! Well!--Would you believe that any sane person in his
condition, now--nonsense apart--could bring his mind wilfully to continue
a beggar? No. Um! Well; Mr. Cogglesby, I may tell you that I hold here
in my hands a document by which Mr. Evan Harrington transfers the whole
of the property bequeathed to him to Lady Jocelyn, and that I have his
orders to execute it instantly, and deliver it over to her ladyship,
after the will is settled, probate, and so forth: I presume there will be
an arrangement about his father's debts. Now what do you think of that?'
'Think, sir,--think!' cried Andrew, cocking his head at him like an
indignant bird, 'I think he's a damned young idiot to do so, and you're a
confounded old rascal to help him.'
Leaving Mr. Perkins to digest his judgement, which he had solicited,
Andrew bounced back into the shop.
IN WHICH THE SHOP BECOMES THE CENTRE OF ATTRACTION
Under the first lustre of a May-night, Evan was galloping over the moon-
shadowed downs toward Beckley. At the ridge commanding the woods, the
park, and the stream, his horse stopped, as if from habit, snorted, and
puffed its sides, while he gazed steadily across the long lighted vale.
Soon he began to wind down the glaring chalk-track, and reached grass
levels. Here he broke into a round pace, till, gaining the first
straggling cottages of the village, he knocked the head of his whip
against the garden-gate of one, and a man came out, who saluted him, and
held the reins.
'Animal does work, sir,' said the man.
Evan gave directions for it to be looked to, and went on to the doorway,
where he was met by a young woman. She uttered a respectful greeting,
and begged him to enter.
The door closed, he flung himself into a chair, and said:
'Well, Susan, how is the child?'
' Oh! he's always well, Mr. Harrington; he don't know the tricks o'
'Will Polly be here soon?'
'At a quarter after nine, she said, sir.'
Evan bade her sit down. After examining her features quietly, he said:
'I 'm glad to see you here, Susan. You don't regret that you followed my
' No, sir; now it's over, I don't. Mother's kind enough, and father
doesn't mention anything. She's a-bed with bile--father's out.'
'But what? There's something on your mind.'
'I shall cry, if I begin, Mr. Harrington.'
'See how far you can get without.'
'Oh! Sir, then,' said Susan, on a sharp rise of her bosom, 'it ain't my
fault. I wouldn't cause trouble to Mr. Harry, or any friend of yours;
but, sir, father have got hold of his letters to me, and he says, there
's a promise in 'em--least, one of 'em; and it's as good as law, he says
--he heard it in a public-house; and he's gone over to Fall'field to a
law-gentleman there.' Susan was compelled to give way to some sobs. 'It
ain't for me--father does it, sir,' she pleaded. 'I tried to stop him,
knowing how it'd vex you, Mr. Harrington; but he's heady about points,
though a quiet man ordinary; and he says he don't expect--and I know now
no gentleman 'd marry such as me--I ain't such a stupid gaper at words as
I used to be; but father says it's for the child's sake, and he does it
to have him provided for. Please, don't ye be angry with me, sir.'
Susan's half-controlled spasms here got the better of her.
While Evan was awaiting the return of her calmer senses, the latch was
lifted, and Polly appeared.
'At it again!' was her sneering comment, after a short survey of her
apron-screened sister; and then she bobbed to Evan.
'It's whimper, whimper, and squeak, squeak, half their lives with some
girls. After that they go wondering they can't see to thread a needle!
The neighbours, I suppose. I should like to lift the top off some o'
their houses. I hope I haven't kept you, sir.'
'No, Polly,' said Evan; 'but you must be charitable, or I shall think you
want a lesson yourself. Mr. Raikes tells me you want to see me. What is
it? You seem to be correspondents.'
Polly replied: 'Oh, no, Mr. Harrington: only accidental ones--when
something particular's to be said. And he dances-like on the paper, so
that you can't help laughing. Isn't he a very eccentric gentleman, sir?'
'Very,' said Evan. 'I 've no time to lose, Polly.'
'Here, you must go,' the latter called to her sister. 'Now pack at once,
Sue. Do rout out, and do leave off thinking you've got a candle at your
eyes, for Goodness' sake!'
Susan was too well accustomed to Polly's usage to complain. She murmured
a gentle 'Good night, sir,' and retired. Whereupon Polly exclaimed:
'Bless her poor dear soft heart! It 's us hard ones that get on best in
the world. I'm treated better than her, Mr. Harrington, and I know I
ain't worth half of her. It goes nigh to make one religious, only to see
how exactly like Scripture is the way Beckley treats her, whose only sin
is her being so soft as to believe in a man! Oh, dear! Mr. Harrington!
I wish I had good news for you.'
In spite of all his self-control, Evan breathed quickly and looked
'Speak it out, Polly.'
'Oh, dear! I must, I suppose,' Polly answered. 'Mr. Laxley's become a
lord now, Mr. Harrington.'
Evan tasted in his soul the sweets of contrast. 'Well?'
'And my Miss Rose--she--'
Moved by the keen hunger of his eyes, Polly hesitated. Her face betrayed
a sudden change of mind.
'Wants to see you, sir,' she said, resolutely.
'To see me?'
Evan stood up, so pale that Polly was frightened.
'Where is she? Where can I meet her?'
'Please don't take it so, Mr. Harrington.'
Evan commanded her to tell him what her mistress had said.
Now up to this point Polly had spoken truth. She was positive her
mistress did want to see him. Polly, also, with a maiden's tender guile,
desired to bring them together for once, though it were for the last
time, and for no good on earth. She had been about to confide to him
her young mistress's position toward Lord Laxley, when his sharp
interrogation stopped her. Shrinking from absolute invention, she
remarked that of course she could not exactly remember Miss Rose's words;
which seemed indeed too much to expect of her.
'She will see me to-night?' said Evan.
'I don't know about to-night,' Polly replied.
'Go to her instantly. Tell her I am ready. I will be at the West park-
gates. This is why you wrote, Polly? Why did you lose time? Don't
delay, my good girl! Come!'
Evan had opened the door. He would not allow Polly an instant for
expostulation; but drew her out, saying, 'You will attend to the gates
yourself. Or come and tell me the day, if she appoints another.'
Polly made a final effort to escape from the pit she was being pushed
'Mr. Harrington! it wasn't to tell you this I wrote.
Miss Rose is engaged, sir.'
'I understand,' said Evan, hoarsely, scarcely feeling it, as is the case
with men who are shot through the heart.
Ten minutes later he was on horseback by the Fallow field gates, with the
tidings shrieking through his frame. The night was still, and stiller in
the pauses of the nightingales. He sat there, neither thinking of them
nor reproached in his manhood for the tears that rolled down his cheeks.
Presently his horse's ears pricked, and the animal gave a low neigh.
Evan's eyes fixed harder on the length of gravel leading to the house.
There was no sign, no figure. Out from the smooth grass of the lane a
couple of horsemen issued, and came straight to the gates. He heard
nothing till one spoke. It was a familiar voice.
'By Jove, Ferdy, here is the fellow, and we've been all the way to
Evan started from his trance.
'It 's you, Harrington?'
'Sir!' exclaimed that youth, evidently flushed with wine, 'what the devil
do you mean by addressing me by my Christian name?'
Laxley pushed his horse's head in front of Harry. In a manner apparently
somewhat improved by his new dignity, he said: 'We have ridden to Lymport
to speak to you, sir. Favour me by moving a little ahead of the lodge.'
Evan bowed, and moved beside him a short way down the lane, Harry
'The purport of my visit, sir,' Laxley began, 'was to make known to you