Part 2 out of 11
'Show that you have descended among them, dear Van, but are not of them.
Our beautiful noble English poet expresses it so. You have come to pay
the last mortal duties, which they will respect, if they are not brutes,
and attempt no familiarities. Allow none: gently, but firmly. Imitate
Silva. You remember, at Dona Risbonda's ball? When he met the Comte de
Dartigues, and knew he was to be in disgrace with his Court on the
morrow? Oh! the exquisite shade of difference in Silva's behaviour
towards the Comte. So finely, delicately perceptible to the Comte, and
not a soul saw it but that wretched Frenchman! He came to me: "Madame,"
he said, "is a question permitted?" I replied, "As-many as you please,
M. le Comte, but no answers promised." He said: "May I ask if the
Courier has yet come in?"--"Nay, M. le Comte," I replied, "this is
diplomacy. Inquire of me, or better, give me an opinion on the new glace
silk from Paris."--"Madame," said he, bowing, "I hope Paris may send me
aught so good, or that I shall grace half so well." I smiled, "You shall
not be single in your hopes, M. le Comte. The gift would be base that
you did not embellish." He lifted his hands, French-fashion: "Madame, it
is that I have received the gift."--"Indeed! M. le Comte."--"Even now
from the Count de Saldar, your husband." I looked most innocently, "From
my husband, M. le Comte?"--"From him, Madame. A portrait. An Ambassador
without his coat! The portrait was a finished performance." I said:
"And may one beg the permission to inspect it?"--"Mais," said he,
laughing: "were it you alone, it would be a privilege to me." I had to
check him. "Believe me, M. le Comte, that when I look upon it, my praise
of the artist will be extinguished by my pity for the subject." He
should have stopped there; but you cannot have the last word with a
Frenchman--not even a woman. Fortunately the Queen just then made her
entry into the saloon, and his mot on the charity of our sex was lost.
We bowed mutually, and were separated.' (The Countess employed her
handkerchief.) 'Yes, dear Van! that is how you should behave. Imply
things. With dearest Mama, of course, you are the dutiful son. Alas!
you must stand for son and daughters. Mama has so much sense! She will
understand how sadly we are placed. But in a week I will come to her for
a day, and bring you back.'
So much his sister Louisa. His sister Harriet offered him her house for
a home in London, thence to project his new career. His sister Caroline
sought a word with him in private, but only to weep bitterly in his arms,
and utter a faint moan of regret at marriages in general. He loved this
beautiful creature the best of his three sisters (partly, it may be,
because he despised her superior officer), and tried with a few smothered
words to induce her to accompany him: but she only shook her fair locks
and moaned afresh. Mr. Andrew, in the farewell squeeze of the hand at
the street-door, asked him if he wanted anything. He negatived the
requirement of anything whatever, with an air of careless decision,
though he was aware that his purse barely contained more than would take
him the distance, but the instincts of this amateur gentleman were very
fine and sensitive on questions of money. His family had never known him
beg for a shilling, or admit his necessity for a penny: nor could he be
made to accept money unless it was thrust into his pocket. Somehow his
sisters had forgotten this peculiarity of his. Harriet only remembered
it when too late.
'But I dare say Andrew has supplied him,' she said.
Andrew being interrogated, informed her what had passed between them.
'And you think a Harrington would confess he wanted money!' was her
scornful exclamation. 'Evan would walk--he would die rather. It was
treating him like a mendicant.'
Andrew had to shrink in his brewer's skin.
By some fatality all who were doomed to sit and listen to the Countess de
Saldar, were sure to be behindhand in an appointment.
When the young man arrived at the coach-office, he was politely informed
that the vehicle, in which a seat had been secured for him, was in close
alliance with time and tide, and being under the same rigid laws, could
not possibly have waited for him, albeit it had stretched a point to the
extent of a pair of minutes, at the urgent solicitation of a passenger.
'A gentleman who speaks so, sir,' said a volunteer mimic of the office,
crowing and questioning from his throat in Goren's manner. 'Yok! yok!
That was how he spoke, sir.'
Evan reddened, for it brought the scene on board the Jocasta vividly to
his mind. The heavier business obliterated it. He took counsel with the
clerks of the office, and eventually the volunteer mimic conducted him to
certain livery stables, where Evan, like one accustomed to command,
ordered a chariot to pursue the coach, received a touch of the hat for a
lordly fee, and was soon rolling out of London.
MY GENTLEMAN ON THE ROAD
The postillion had every reason to believe that he carried a real
gentleman behind him; in other words, a purse long and liberal. He
judged by all the points he knew of: a firm voice, a brief commanding
style, an apparent indifference to expense, and the inexplicable minor
characteristics, such as polished boots, and a striking wristband, and so
forth, which will show a creature accustomed to step over the heads of
men. He had, therefore, no particular anxiety to part company, and
jogged easily on the white highway, beneath a moon that walked high and
small over marble clouds.
Evan reclined in the chariot, revolving his sensations. In another mood
he would have called, them thoughts, perhaps, and marvelled at their
immensity. The theme was Love and Death. One might have supposed, from
his occasional mutterings at the pace regulated by the postillion, that
he was burning with anxiety to catch the flying coach. He had forgotten
it: forgotten that he was giving chase to anything. A pair of wondering
feminine eyes pursued him, and made him fret for the miles to throw a
thicker veil between him and them. The serious level brows of Rose
haunted the poor youth; and reflecting whither he was tending, and to
what sight, he had shadowy touches of the holiness there is in death,
from which came a conflict between the imaged phantoms of his father and
of Rose, and he sided against his love with some bitterness. His
sisters, weeping for their father and holding aloof from his ashes,
Evan swept from his mind. He called up the man his father was: the
kindliness, the readiness, the gallant gaiety of the great Mel. Youths
are fascinated by the barbarian virtues; and to Evan, under present
influences, his father was a pattern of manhood. He asked himself:
Was it infamous to earn one's bread? and answered it very strongly in
his father's favour. The great Mel's creditors were not by to show him
another feature of the case.
Hitherto, in passive obedience to the indoctrination of the Countess,
Evan had looked on tailors as the proscribed race of modern society. He
had pitied his father as a man superior to his fate; but despite the
fitfully honest promptings with Rose (tempting to him because of the
wondrous chivalry they argued, and at bottom false probably as the
hypocrisy they affected to combat), he had been by no means sorry that
the world saw not the spot on himself. Other sensations beset him now.
Since such a man was banned by the world, which was to be despised?
The clear result of Evan's solitary musing was to cast a sort of halo
over Tailordom. Death stood over the pale dead man, his father, and
dared the world to sneer at him. By a singular caprice of fancy, Evan
had no sooner grasped this image, than it was suggested that he might as
well inspect his purse, and see how much money he was master of.
Are you impatient with this young man? He has little character for the
moment. Most youths are like Pope's women; they have no character at
all. And indeed a character that does not wait for circumstances to
shape it, is of small worth in the race that must be run. To be set too
early, is to take the work out of the hands of the Sculptor who fashions
men. Happily a youth is always at school, and if he was shut up and
without mark two or three hours ago, he will have something to show you
now: as I have seen blooming seaflowers and other graduated organisms,
when left undisturbed to their own action. Where the Fates have designed
that he shall present his figure in a story, this is sure to happen.
To the postillion Evan was indebted for one of his first lessons.
About an hour after midnight pastoral stillness and the moon begat in the
postillion desire for a pipe. Daylight prohibits the dream of it to
mounted postillions. At night the question is more human, and allows
appeal. The moon smiles assentingly, and smokers know that she really
lends herself to the enjoyment of tobacco.
The postillion could remember gentlemen who did not object: who had even
given him cigars. Turning round to see if haply the present inmate of
the chariot might be smoking, he observed a head extended from the
'How far are we?' was inquired.
The postillion numbered the milestones passed.
'Do you see anything of the coach?'
'Can't say as I do, sir.'
He was commanded to stop. Evan jumped out.
'I don't think I'll take you any farther,' he said.
The postillion laughed to scorn the notion of his caring how far he went.
With a pipe in his mouth, he insinuatingly remarked, he could jog on all
night, and throw sleep to the dogs. Fresh horses at Hillford; fresh at
Fallow field: and the gentleman himself would reach Lymport fresh in the
'No, no; I won't take you any farther,' Evan repeated.
'But what do it matter, sir?' urged the postillion.
'I'd rather go on as I am. I--a--made no arrangement to take you the
'Oh!' cried the postillion, 'don't you go troublin' yourself about that,
sir. Master knows it 's touch-and-go about catchin' the coach. I'm all
So infatuated was the fellow in the belief that he was dealing with a
perfect gentleman--an easy pocket!
Now you would not suppose that one who presumes he has sufficient, would
find a difficulty in asking how much he has to pay. With an effort,
indifferently masked, Evan blurted:
'By the way, tell me--how much--what is the charge for the distance we've
There are gentlemen-screws: there are conscientious gentlemen. They
calculate, and remonstrating or not, they pay. The postillion would
rather have had to do with the gentleman royal, who is above base
computation; but he knew the humanity in the class he served, and with
his conception of Evan only partially dimmed, he remarked:
'Oh-h-h! that won't hurt you, sir. Jump along in,--settle that by-and-
But when my gentleman stood fast, and renewed the demand to know the
exact charge for the distance already traversed, the postillion
dismounted, glanced him over, and speculated with his fingers tipping up
his hat. Meantime Evan drew out his purse, a long one, certainly, but
limp. Out of this drowned-looking wretch the last spark of life was
taken by the sum the postillion ventured to name; and if paying your
utmost farthing without examination of the charge, and cheerfully
stepping out to walk fifty miles, penniless, constituted a postillion's
gentleman, Evan would have passed the test. The sight of poverty,
however, provokes familiar feelings in poor men, if you have not had
occasion to show them you possess particular qualities. The postillion's
eye was more on the purse than on the sum it surrendered.
'There,' said Evan, 'I shall walk. Good night.' And he flung his cloak
to step forward.
'Stop a bit, sir!' arrested him.
The postillion rallied up sideways, with an assumption of genial respect.
'I didn't calc'late myself in that there amount.'
Were these words, think you, of a character to strike a young man hard
on the breast, send the blood to his head, and set up in his heart a
derisive chorus? My gentleman could pay his money, and keep his footing
gallantly; but to be asked for a penny beyond what he possessed; to be
seen beggared, and to be claimed a debtor-aleck! Pride was the one
developed faculty of Evan's nature. The Fates who mould us, always work
from the main-spring. I will not say that the postillion stripped off
the mask for him, at that instant completely; but he gave him the first
true glimpse of his condition. From the vague sense of being an
impostor, Evan awoke to the clear fact that he was likewise a fool.
It was impossible for him to deny the man's claim, and he would not have
done it, if he could. Acceding tacitly, he squeezed the ends of his
purse in his pocket, and with a 'Let me see,' tried his waistcoat. Not
too impetuously; for he was careful of betraying the horrid emptiness
till he was certain that the powers who wait on gentlemen had utterly
forsaken him. They had not. He discovered a small coin, under ordinary
circumstances not contemptible; but he did not stay to reflect, and was
guilty of the error of offering it to the postillion.
The latter peered at it in the centre of his palm; gazed queerly in the
gentleman's face, and then lifting the spit of silver for the disdain of
his mistress, the moon, he drew a long breath of regret at the original
mistake he had committed, and said:
'That's what you're goin' to give me for my night's work?'
The powers who wait on gentlemen had only helped the pretending youth to
try him. A rejection of the demand would have been infinitely wiser and
better than this paltry compromise. The postillion would have fought it:
he would not have despised his fare.
How much it cost the poor pretender to reply, 'It 's the last farthing I
have, my man,' the postillion could not know.
'A scabby sixpence?' The postillion continued his question.
'You heard what I said,' Evan remarked.
The postillion drew another deep breath, and holding out the coin at
'Well, sir !' he observed, as one whom mental conflict has brought to the
philosophy of the case, 'now, was we to change places, I couldn't a' done
it! I couldn't a' done it!' he reiterated, pausing emphatically.
'Take it, sir!' he magnanimously resumed; 'take it! You rides when you
can, and you walks when you must. Lord forbid I should rob such a
gentleman as you!'
One who feels a death, is for the hour lifted above the satire of
postillions. A good genius prompted Evan to avoid the silly squabble
that might have ensued and made him ridiculous. He took the money,
quietly saying, 'Thank you.'
Not to lose his vantage, the postillion, though a little staggered by the
move, rejoined: 'Don't mention it.'
Evan then said: 'Good night, my man. I won't wish, for your sake, that
we changed places. You would have to walk fifty miles to be in time for
your father's funeral. Good night.'
'You are it to look at!' was the postillion's comment, seeing my
gentleman depart with great strides. He did not speak offensively;
rather, it seemed, to appease his conscience for the original mistake he
had committed, for subsequently came, 'My oath on it, I don't get took in
again by a squash hat in a hurry !'
Unaware of the ban he had, by a sixpenny stamp, put upon an unoffending
class, Evan went ahead, hearing the wheels of the chariot still dragging
the road in his rear. The postillion was in a dissatisfied state of
mind. He had asked and received more than his due. But in the matter of
his sweet self, he had been choused, as he termed it. And my gentleman
had baffled him, he could not quite tell how; but he had been got the
better of; his sarcasms had not stuck, and returned to rankle in the
bosom of their author. As a Jew, therefore, may eye an erewhile bondsman
who has paid the bill, but stands out against excess of interest on legal
grounds, the postillion regarded Evan, of whom he was now abreast, eager
for a controversy.
'Fine night,' said the postillion, to begin, and was answered by a short
assent. 'Lateish for a poor man to be out--don't you think sir, eh?'
'I ought to think so,' said Evan, mastering the shrewd unpleasantness he
felt in the colloquy forced on him.
'Oh, you! you're a gentleman!' the postillion ejaculated.
'You see I have no money.'
'Feel it, too, sir.'
'I am sorry you should be the victim.'
'Victim!' the postillion seized on an objectionable word. 'I ain't no
victim, unless you was up to a joke with me, sir, just now. Was that the
Evan informed him that he never played jokes with money, or on men.
'Cause it looks like it, sir, to go to offer a poor chap sixpence.' The
postillion laughed hollow from the end of his lungs. 'Sixpence for a
night's work! It is a joke, if you don't mean it for one. Why, do you
know, sir, I could go--there, I don't care where it is!--I could go before
any magistrate livin', and he'd make ye pay. It's a charge, as custom
is, and he'd make ye pay. Or p'rhaps you're a goin' on my generosity,
and 'll say, he gev back that sixpence! Well! I shouldn't a' thought a
gentleman'd make that his defence before a magistrate. But there, my
man! if it makes ye happy, keep it. But you take my advice, sir. When
you hires a chariot, see you've got the shiners. And don't you go never
again offerin' a sixpence to a poor man for a night's work. They don't
like it. It hurts their feelin's. Don't you forget that, sir. Lay that
up in your mind.'
Now the postillion having thus relieved himself, jeeringly asked
permission to smoke a pipe. To which Evan said, 'Pray, smoke, if it
pleases you.' And the postillion, hardly mollified, added, 'The baccy's
paid for,' and smoked.
As will sometimes happen, the feelings of the man who had spoken out and
behaved doubtfully, grew gentle and Christian, whereas those of the man
whose bearing under the trial had been irreproachable were much the
reverse. The postillion smoked--he was a lord on his horse; he beheld my
gentleman trudging in the dust. Awhile he enjoyed the contrast, dividing
his attention between the footfarer and moon. To have had the last word
is always a great thing; and to have given my gentleman a lecture,
because he shunned a dispute, also counts. And then there was the poor
young fellow trudging to his father's funeral! The postillion chose to
remember that now. In reality, he allowed, he had not very much to
complain of, and my gentleman's courteous avoidance of provocation (the
apparent fact that he, the postillion, had humbled him and got the better
of him, equally, it may be), acted on his fine English spirit. I should
not like to leave out the tobacco in this good change that was wrought in
him. However, he presently astonished Evan by pulling up his horses, and
crying that he was on his way to Hillford to bait, and saw no reason why
he should not take a lift that part of the road, at all events. Evan
thanked him briefly, but declined, and paced on with his head bent.
'It won't cost you nothing-not a sixpence!' the postillion sang out,
pursuing him. 'Come, sir! be a man! I ain't a hintin' at anything--
Evan again declined, and looked out for a side path to escape the fellow,
whose bounty was worse to him than his abuse, and whose mention of the
sixpence was unlucky.
'Dash it!' cried the postillion, 'you're going down to a funeral--
I think you said your father's, sir--you may as well try and get there
respectable--as far as I go. It's one to me whether you're in or out;
the horses won't feel it, and I do wish you'd take a lift and welcome.
It's because you're too much of a gentleman to be beholden to a poor man,
Evan's young pride may have had a little of that base mixture in it, and
certainly he would have preferred that the invitation had not been made
to him; but he was capable of appreciating what the rejection of a piece
of friendliness involved, and as he saw that the man was sincere, he did
violence to himself, and said: 'Very well; then I'll jump in.'
The postillion was off his horse in a twinkling, and trotted his bandy
legs to undo the door, as to a gentleman who paid. This act of service
'Suppose I were to ask you to take the sixpence now?' he said, turning
round, with one foot on the step.
'Well, sir,' the postillion sent his hat aside to answer. 'I don't want
it--I'd rather not have it; but there! I'll take it--dash the sixpence!
and we'll cry quits.'
Evan, surprised and pleased with him, dropped the bit of money in his
hand, saying: 'It will fill a pipe for you. While you 're smoking it,
think of me as in your debt. You're the only man I ever owed a penny
The postillion put it in a side pocket apart, and observed: 'A sixpence
kindly meant is worth any crown-piece that's grudged--that it is! In you
jump, sir. It's a jolly night!'
Thus may one, not a conscious sage, play the right tune on this human
nature of ours: by forbearance, put it in the wrong; and then, by not
refusing the burden of an obligation, confer something better. The
instrument is simpler than we are taught to fancy. But it was doubtless
owing to a strong emotion in his soul, as well as to the stuff he was
made of, that the youth behaved as he did. We are now and then above our
own actions; seldom on a level with them. Evan, I dare say, was long in
learning to draw any gratification from the fact that he had achieved
without money the unparalleled conquest of a man. Perhaps he never knew
what immediate influence on his fortune this episode effected.
At Hillford they went their different ways. The postillion wished him
good speed, and Evan shook his hand. He did so rather abruptly, for the
postillion was fumbling at his pocket, and evidently rounding about a
proposal in his mind.
My gentleman has now the road to himself. Money is the clothing of a
gentleman: he may wear it well or ill. Some, you will mark, carry great
quantities of it gracefully: some, with a stinted supply, present a
decent appearance: very few, I imagine, will bear inspection, who are
absolutely stripped of it. All, save the shameless, are toiling to
escape that trial. My gentleman, treading the white highway across the
solitary heaths, that swell far and wide to the moon, is, by the
postillion, who has seen him, pronounced no sham. Nor do I think the
opinion of any man worthless, who has had the postillion's authority for
speaking. But it is, I am told, a finer test to embellish much
gentleman-apparel, than to walk with dignity totally unadorned. This
simply tries the soundness of our faculties: that tempts them in erratic
directions. It is the difference between active and passive excellence.
As there is hardly any situation, however, so interesting to reflect upon
as that of a man without a penny in his pocket, and a gizzard full of
pride, we will leave Mr. Evan Harrington to what fresh adventures may
befall him, walking toward the funeral plumes of the firs, under the soft
midsummer flush, westward, where his father lies.
MOTHER AND SON
Rare as epic song is the man who is thorough in what he does. And
happily so; for in life he subjugates us, and he makes us bondsmen to his
ashes. It was in the order of things that the great Mel should be borne
to his final resting-place by a troop of creditors. You have seen (since
the occasion demands a pompous simile) clouds that all day cling about
the sun, and, in seeking to obscure him, are compelled to blaze in his
livery at fall of night they break from him illumined, hang mournfully
above him, and wear his natural glories long after he is gone. Thus,
then, these worthy fellows, faithful to him to the dust, fulfilled Mel's
triumphant passage amongst them, and closed his career.
To regale them when they returned, Mrs. Mel, whose mind was not intent on
greatness, was occupied in spreading meat and wine. Mrs. Fiske assisted
her, as well as she could, seeing that one hand was entirely engaged by
her handkerchief. She had already stumbled, and dropped a glass, which
had brought on her sharp condemnation from her aunt, who bade her sit
down, or go upstairs to have her cry out, and then return to be
'Oh! I can't help it!' sobbed Mrs. Fiske. 'That he should be carried
away, and none of his children to see him the last time! I can
understand Louisa--and Harriet, too, perhaps? But why could not
Caroline? And that they should be too fine ladies to let their brother
come and bury his father. Oh! it does seem----'
Mrs. Fiske fell into a chair, and surrendered to grief.
'Where is the cold tongue?' said Mrs. Mel to Sally, the maid, in a brief
'Please mum, Jacko----!'
'He must be whipped. You are a careless slut.'
'Please, I can't think of everybody and everything, and poor master----'
Sally plumped on a seat, and took sanctuary under her apron. Mrs. Mel
glanced at the pair, continuing her labour.
'Oh, aunt, aunt!' cried Mrs. Fiske, 'why didn't you put it off for
another day, to give Evan a chance?'
'Master 'd have kept another two days, he would!' whimpered Sally.
'Oh, aunt! to think !' cried Mrs. Fiske.
'And his coffin not bearin' of his spurs!' whimpered Sally.
Mrs. Mel interrupted them by commanding Sally to go to the drawing-room,
and ask a lady there, of the name of Mrs. Wishaw, whether she would like
to have some lunch sent up to her. Mrs. Fiske was requested to put
towels in Evan's bedroom.
'Yes, aunt, if you're not infatuated!' said Mrs. Fiske, as she prepared
to obey; while Sally, seeing that her public exhibition of sorrow and
sympathy could be indulged but an instant longer, unwound herself for a
violent paroxysm, blurting between stops:
'If he'd ony've gone to his last bed comfortable! . . . If he'd ony
've been that decent as not for to go to his last bed with his clothes
on! . . . If he'd ony've had a comfortable sheet! . . . It makes
a woman feel cold to think of him full dressed there, as if he was goin'
to be a soldier on the Day o' Judgement!'
To let people speak was a maxim of Mrs. Mel's, and a wise one for any
form of society when emotions are very much on the surface. She
continued her arrangements quietly, and, having counted the number of
plates and glasses, and told off the guests on her fingers, she, sat down
to await them.
The first one who entered the room was her son.
'You have come,' said Mrs. Mel, flushing slightly, but otherwise
'You didn't suppose I should stay away from you, mother?'
Evan kissed her cheek.
'I knew you would not.'
Mrs. Mel examined him with those eyes of hers that compassed objects in a
single glance. She drew her finger on each side of her upper lip, and
half smiled, saying:
'That won't do here.'
'What?' asked Evan, and proceeded immediately to make inquiries about her
health, which she satisfied with a nod.
'You saw him lowered, Van?'
'Then go and wash yourself, for you are dirty, and then come and take
your place at the head of the table.'
'Must I sit here, mother?'
'Without a doubt--you must. You know your room. Quick!'
In this manner their first interview passed.
Mrs. Fiske rushed in to exclaim:
'So, you were right, aunt--he has come. I met him on the stairs. Oh!
how like dear uncle Mel he looks, in the militia, with that moustache.
I just remember him as a child; and, oh, what a gentleman he is!'
At the end of the sentence Mrs. Mel's face suddenly darkened: she said,
in a deep voice:
'Don't dare to talk that nonsense before him, Ann.'
Mrs. Fiske looked astonished.
'What have I done, aunt?'
'He shan't be ruined by a parcel of fools,' said Mrs. Mel. 'There, go!
Women have no place here.'
'How the wretches can force themselves to touch a morsel, after this
morning!' Mrs. Fiske exclaimed, glancing at the table.
'Men must eat,' said Mrs. Mel.
The mourners were heard gathering outside the door. Mrs. Fiske escaped
into the kitchen. Mrs. Mel admitted them into the parlour, bowing much
above the level of many of the heads that passed her.
Assembled were Messrs. Barnes, Kilne, and Grossby, whom we know; Mr.
Doubleday, the ironmonger; Mr. Joyce, the grocer; Mr. Perkins, commonly
called Lawyer Perkins; Mr. Welbeck, the pier-master of Lymport;
Bartholomew Fiske; Mr. Coxwell, a Fallow field maltster, brewer, and
farmer; creditors of various dimensions, all of them. Mr. Goren coming
last, behind his spectacles.
'My son will be with you directly, to preside,' said Mrs. Mel. 'Accept
my thanks for the respect you have shown my husband. I wish you good
'Morning, ma'am,' answered several voices, and Mrs. Mel retired.
The mourners then set to work to relieve their hats of the appendages of
crape. An undertaker's man took possession of the long black cloaks.
The gloves were generally pocketed.
'That's my second black pair this year,' said Joyce.
'They'll last a time to come. I don't need to buy gloves while
neighbours pop off.'
'Undertakers' gloves seem to me as if they're made for mutton fists,'
remarked Welbeck; upon which Kilne nudged Barnes, the butcher, with a
sharp 'Aha!' and Barnes observed:
'Oh! I never wear 'em--they does for my boys on Sundays. I smoke a pipe
The Fallow field farmer held his length of crape aloft and inquired:
'What shall do with this?'
'Oh, you keep it,' said one or two.
Coxwell rubbed his chin. 'Don't like to rob the widder.'
'What's left goes to the undertaker?' asked Grossby.
'To be sure,' said Barnes; and Kilne added: 'It's a job': Lawyer Perkins
ejaculating confidently, 'Perquisites of office, gentlemen; perquisites
of office!' which settled the dispute and appeased every conscience.
A survey of the table ensued. The mourners felt hunger, or else thirst;
but had not, it appeared, amalgamated the two appetites as yet. Thirst
was the predominant declaration; and Grossby, after an examination of the
decanters, unctuously deduced the fact, which he announced, that port and
sherry were present.
'Try the port,' said Kilne.
'Good?' Barnes inquired.
A very intelligent 'I ought to know,' with a reserve of regret at the
extension of his intimacy with the particular vintage under that roof,
was winked by Kilne.
Lawyer Perkins touched the arm of a mourner about to be experimental on
'I think we had better wait till young Mr. Harrington takes the table,
don't you see?'
'Yes,-ah!' croaked Goren. 'The head of the family, as the saying goes!'
'I suppose we shan't go into business to-day?' Joyce carelessly observed.
Lawyer Perkins answered:
'No. You can't expect it. Mr. Harrington has led me to anticipate that
he will appoint a day. Don't you see?'
'Oh! I see,' returned Joyce. 'I ain't in such a hurry. What's he
Doubleday, whose propensities were waggish, suggested 'shaving,' but half
ashamed of it, since the joke missed, fell to as if he were soaping his
face, and had some trouble to contract his jaw.
The delay in Evan's attendance on the guests of the house was caused by
the fact that Mrs. Mel had lain in wait for him descending, to warn him
that he must treat them with no supercilious civility, and to tell him
partly the reason why. On hearing the potential relations in which they
stood toward the estate of his father, Evan hastily and with the
assurance of a son of fortune, said they should be paid.
'That's what they would like to hear,' said Mrs. Mel. 'You may just
mention it when they're going to leave. Say you will fix a day to meet
'Every farthing!' pursued Evan, on whom the tidings were beginning to
operate. 'What! debts? my poor father!'
'And a thumping sum, Van. You will open your eyes wider.'
'But it shall be paid, mother,--it shall be paid. Debts? I hate them.
I'd slave night and day to pay them.'
Mrs. Mel spoke in a more positive tense: 'And so will I, Van. Now, go.'
It mattered little to her what sort of effect on his demeanour her
revelation produced, so long as the resolve she sought to bring him to
was nailed in his mind; and she was a woman to knock and knock again,
till it was firmly fixed there. With a strong purpose, and no plans,
there were few who could resist what, in her circle, she willed; not even
a youth who would gaily have marched to the scaffold rather than stand
behind a counter. A purpose wedded to plans may easily suffer shipwreck;
but an unfettered purpose that moulds circumstances as they arise,
masters us, and is terrible. Character melts to it, like metal in the
steady furnace. The projector of plots is but a miserable gambler and
votary of chances. Of a far higher quality is the will that can subdue
itself to wait, and lay no petty traps for opportunity. Poets may fable
of such a will, that it makes the very heavens conform to it; or, I may
add, what is almost equal thereto, one who would be a gentleman, to
consent to be a tailor. The only person who ever held in his course
against Mrs. Mel, was Mel,--her husband; but, with him, she was under the
physical fascination of her youth, and it never left her. In her heart
she barely blamed him. What he did, she took among other inevitable
The door closed upon Evan, and waiting at the foot, of the stairs a
minute to hear how he was received, Mrs. Mel went to the kitchen and
called the name of Dandy, which brought out an ill-built, low-browed,
small man, in a baggy suit of black, who hopped up to her with a surly
salute. Dandy was a bird Mrs. Mel had herself brought down, and she had
for him something of a sportsman's regard for his victim. Dandy was the
cleaner of boots and runner of errands in the household of Melchisedec,
having originally entered it on a dark night by the cellar. Mrs. Mel,
on that occasion, was sleeping in her dressing-gown, to be ready to give
the gallant night-hawk, her husband, the service he might require on his
return to the nest. Hearing a suspicious noise below, she rose, and
deliberately loaded a pair of horse-pistols, weapons Mel had worn in his
holsters in the heroic days gone; and with these she stepped downstairs
straight to the cellar, carrying a lantern at her girdle. She could not
only load, but present and fire. Dandy was foremost in stating that she
called him forth steadily, three times, before the pistol was discharged.
He admitted that he was frightened, and incapable of speech, at the
apparition of the tall, terrific woman. After the third time of asking
he had the ball lodged in his leg and fell. Mrs. Mel was in the habit of
bearing heavier weights than Dandy. She made no ado about lugging him to
a chamber, where, with her own hands (for this woman had some slight
knowledge of surgery, and was great in herbs and drugs) she dressed his
wound, and put him to bed; crying contempt (ever present in Dandy's
memory) at such a poor creature undertaking the work of housebreaker.
Taught that he really was a poor creature for the work, Dandy, his
nursing over, begged to be allowed to stop and wait on Mrs. Mel; and she
who had, like many strong natures, a share of pity for the objects she
despised, did not cast him out. A jerk in his gait, owing to the bit of
lead Mrs. Mel had dropped into him, and a little, perhaps, to her self-
satisfied essay in surgical science on his person, earned him the name he
When her neighbours remonstrated with her for housing a reprobate, Mrs.
Mel would say: 'Dandy is well-fed and well-physicked: there's no harm in
Dandy'; by which she may have meant that the food won his gratitude, and
the physic reduced his humours. She had observed human nature. At any
rate, Dandy was her creature; and the great Mel himself rallied her about
'When were you drunk last?, was Mrs. Mel's address to Dandy, as he stood
waiting for orders.
He replied to it in an altogether injured way:
'There, now; you've been and called me away from my dinner to ask me
that. Why, when I had the last chance, to be sure.'
'And you were at dinner in your new black suit?'
'Well,' growled Dandy, 'I borrowed Sally's apron. Seems I can't please
Mrs. Mel neither enjoined nor cared for outward forms of respect, where
she was sure of complete subserviency. If Dandy went beyond the limits,
she gave him an extra dose. Up to the limits he might talk as he
pleased, in accordance with Mrs. Mel's maxim, that it was a necessary
relief to all talking creatures.
'Now, take off your apron,' she said, 'and wash your hands, dirty pig,
and go and wait at table in there'; she pointed to the parlour-door:
'Come straight to me when everybody has left.'
'Well, there I am with the bottles again,' returned Dandy. 'It 's your
fault this time, mind! I'll come as straight as I can.'
Dandy turned away to perform her bidding, and Mrs. Mel ascended to the
drawing-room to sit with Mrs. Wishaw, who was, as she told all who chose
to hear, an old flame of Mel's, and was besides, what Mrs. Mel thought
more of, the wife of Mel's principal creditor, a wholesale dealer in
cloth, resident in London.
The conviviality of the mourners did not disturb the house. Still, men
who are not accustomed to see the colour of wine every day, will sit and
enjoy it, even upon solemn occasions, and the longer they sit the more
they forget the matter that has brought them together. Pleading their
wives and shops, however, they released Evan from his miserable office
late in the afternoon.
His mother came down to him,--and saying, 'I see how you did the journey
--you walked it,' told him to follow her.
'Yes, mother,' Evan yawned, 'I walked part of the way. I met a fellow in
a gig about ten miles out of Fallow field, and he gave me a lift to
Flatsham. I just reached Lymport in time, thank Heaven! I wouldn't have
missed that! By the way, I've satisfied these men.'
'Oh!' said Mrs. Mel.
'They wanted--one or two of them--what a penance it is to have to sit
among those people an hour!--they wanted to ask me about the business,
but I silenced them. I told them to meet me here this day week.'
Mrs. Mel again said 'Oh!' and, pushing into one of the upper rooms,
'Here's your bedroom, Van, just as you left it.'
'Ah, so it is,' muttered Evan, eyeing a print. 'The Douglas and the
Percy: "he took the dead man by the hand." What an age it seems since I
last saw that. There's Sir Hugh Montgomery on horseback--he hasn't
moved. Don't you remember my father calling it the Battle of Tit-for-
Tat? Gallant Percy! I know he wished he had lived in those days of
knights and battles.'
'It does not much signify whom one has to make clothes for,' observed
Mrs. Mel. Her son happily did not mark her.
'I think we neither of us were made for the days of pence and pounds,' he
continued. 'Now, mother, sit down, and talk to me about him. Did he
mention me? Did he give me his blessing? I hope he did not suffer.
I'd have given anything to press his hand,' and looking wistfully at the
Percy lifting the hand of Douglas dead, Evan's eyes filled with big
'He suffered very little,' returned Mrs. Mel, 'and his last words were
'What were they?' Evan burst out.
'I will tell you another time. Now undress, and go to bed. When I talk
to you, Van, I want a cool head to listen. You do nothing but yawn yard-
The mouth of the weary youth instinctively snapped short the abhorred
'Here, I will help you, Van.'
In spite of his remonstrances and petitions for talk, she took off his
coat and waistcoat, contemptuously criticizing the cloth of foreign
tailors and their absurd cut.
'Have you heard from Louisa?' asked Evan.
'Yes, yes--about your sisters by-and-by. Now, be good, and go to bed.'
She still treated him like a boy, whom she was going to force to the
resolution of a man.
Dandy's sleeping-room was on the same floor as Evan's. Thither, when she
had quitted her son, she directed her steps. She had heard Dandy tumble
up-stairs the moment his duties were over, and knew what to expect when
the bottles had been in his way; for drink made Dandy savage, and a
terror to himself. It was her command to him that, when he happened to
come across liquor, he should immediately seek his bedroom and bolt the
door, and Dandy had got the habit of obeying her. On this occasion he
was vindictive against her, seeing that she had delivered him over to his
enemy with malice prepense. A good deal of knocking, and summoning of
Dandy by name, was required before she was admitted, and the sight of her
did not delight him, as he testified.
'I 'm drunk!' he bawled. 'Will that do for ye?'
Mrs. Mel stood with her two hands crossed above her apron-string, noting
his sullen lurking eye with the calm of a tamer of beasts.
'You go out of the room; I'm drunk!' Dandy repeated, and pitched forward
on the bed-post, in the middle of an oath.
She understood that it was pure kindness on Dandy's part to bid her go
and be out of his reach; and therefore, on his becoming so abusive as to
be menacing, she, without a shade of anger, and in the most unruffled
manner, administered to him the remedy she had reserved, in the shape of
a smart box on the ear, which sent him flat to the floor. He rose, after
two or three efforts, quite subdued.
'Now, Dandy, sit on the edge of the bed.'
Dandy sat on the extreme edge, and Mrs. Mel pursued:
'Now, Dandy, tell me what your master said at the table.'
'Talked at 'em like a lord, he did,' said Dandy, stupidly consoling the
'What were his words?'
Dandy's peculiarity was, that he never remembered anything save when
drunk, and Mrs. Mel's dose had rather sobered him. By degrees,
scratching at his head haltingly, he gave the context.
"'Gentlemen, I hear for the first time, you've claims against my poor
father. Nobody shall ever say he died, and any man was the worse for it.
I'll meet you next week, and I'll bind myself by law. Here's Lawyer
Perkins. No; Mr. Perkins. I'll pay off every penny. Gentlemen, look
upon me as your debtor, and not my father."'
Delivering this with tolerable steadiness, Dandy asked, 'Will that do?'
'That will do,' said Mrs. Mel. 'I'll send you up some tea presently.
Lie down, Dandy.'
The house was dark and silent when Evan, refreshed by his rest, descended
to seek his mother. She was sitting alone in the parlour. With a
tenderness which Mrs. Mel permitted rather than encouraged, Evan put his
arm round her neck, and kissed her many times. One of the symptoms of
heavy sorrow, a longing for the signs of love, made Evan fondle his
mother, and bend over her yearningly. Mrs. Mel said once: 'Dear Van;
good boy!' and quietly sat through his caresses.
'Sitting up for me, mother?' he whispered.
'Yes, Van; we may as well have our talk out.'
'Ah!' he took a chair close by her side, 'tell me my father's last
'He said he hoped you would never be a tailor.'
Evan's forehead wrinkled up. 'There's not much fear of that, then!'
His mother turned her face on him, and examined him with a rigorous
placidity; all her features seeming to bear down on him. Evan did not
like the look.
'You object to trade, Van?'
'Yes, decidedly, mother-hate it; but that's not what I want to talk to
you about. Didn't my father speak of me much?'
'He desired that you should wear his militia sword, if you got a
'I have rather given up hope of the Army,' said Evan.
Mrs. Mel requested him to tell her what a colonel's full pay amounted to;
and again, the number of years it required, on a rough calculation, to
attain that grade. In reply to his statement she observed: 'A tailor
might realize twice the sum in a quarter of the time.'
'What if he does-double, or treble?' cried Evan, impetuously; and to
avoid the theme, and cast off the bad impression it produced on him, he
rubbed his hands, and said: 'I want to talk to you about my prospects,
'What are they?' Mrs. Mel inquired.
The severity of her mien and sceptical coldness of her speech caused him
to inspect them suddenly, as if she had lent him her eyes. He put them
by, till the gold should recover its natural shine, saying: 'By the way,
mother, I 've written the half of a History of Portugal.'
'Have you?' said Mrs. Mel. 'For Louisa?'
'No, mother, of course not: to sell it. Albuquerque! what a splendid
fellow he was!'
Informing him that he knew she abominated foreign names, she said: 'And
your prospects are, writing Histories of Portugal?'
'No, mother. I was going to tell you, I expect a Government appointment.
Mr. Jocelyn likes my work--I think he likes me. You know, I was his
private secretary for ten months.'
'You write a good hand,' his mother interposed.
'And I'm certain I was born for diplomacy.'
'For an easy chair, and an ink-dish before you, and lacqueys behind.
What's to be your income, Van?'
Evan carelessly remarked that he must wait and see.
'A very proper thing to do,' said Mrs. Mel; for now that she had fixed
him to some explanation of his prospects, she could condescend in her
stiff way to banter.
Slightly touched by it, Evan pursued, half laughing, as men do who wish
to propitiate common sense on behalf of what seems tolerably absurd:
'It 's not the immediate income, you know, mother: one thinks of one's
future. In the diplomatic service, as Louisa says, you come to be known
to Ministers gradually, I mean. That is, they hear of you; and if you
show you have some capacity--Louisa wants me to throw it up in time,
and stand for Parliament. Andrew, she thinks, would be glad to help me
to his seat. Once in Parliament, and known to Ministers, you--your
career is open to you.'
In justice to Mr. Evan Harrington, it must be said, he built up this
extraordinary card-castle to dazzle his mother's mind: he had lost his
right grasp of her character for the moment, because of an undefined
suspicion of something she intended, and which sent him himself to take
refuge in those flimsy structures; while the very altitude he reached
beguiled his imagination, and made him hope to impress hers.
Mrs. Mel dealt it one fillip. 'And in the meantime how are you to live,
and pay the creditors?'
Though Evan answered cheerfully, 'Oh, they will wait, and I can live on
anything,' he was nevertheless floundering on the ground amid the ruins
of the superb edifice; and his mother, upright and rigid, continuing,
'You can live on anything, and they will wait, and call your father a
rogue,' he started, grievously bitten by one of the serpents of earth.
'Good heaven, mother! what are you saying?'
'That they will call your father a rogue, and will have a right to,' said
the relentless woman.
'Not while I live!' Evan exclaimed.
'You may stop one mouth with your fist, but you won't stop a dozen, Van.'
Evan jumped up and walked the room.
'What am I to do?' he cried. 'I will pay everything. I will bind myself
to pay every farthing. What more can I possibly do?'
'Make the money,' said Mrs. Mel's deep voice.
Evan faced her: 'My dear mother, you are very unjust and inconsiderate.
I have been working and doing my best. I promise---- what do the debts
'Something like L5000 in all, Van.'
'Very well.' Youth is not alarmed by the sound of big sums. 'Very well
--I will pay it.'
Evan looked as proud as if he had just clapped down the full amount on
'Out of the History of Portugal, half written, and the prospect of a
Mrs. Mel raised her eyelids to him.
'In time-in time, mother!'
'Mention your proposal to the creditors when you meet them this day
week,' she said.
Neither of them spoke for several minutes. Then Evan came close to her,
'What is it you want of me, mother?'
'I want nothing, Van--I can support myself.'
'But what would you have me do, mother?'
'Be honest; do your duty, and don't be a fool about it.'
'I will try,' he rejoined. 'You tell me to make the money. Where and
how can I make it? I am perfectly willing to work.'
'In this house,' said Mrs. Mel; and, as this was pretty clear speaking,
she stood up to lend her figure to it.
'Here?' faltered Evan. 'What! be a ----'
'Tailor!' The word did not sting her tongue.
'I? Oh, that's quite impossible!' said Evan. And visions of leprosy,
and Rose shrinking her skirts from contact with him, shadowed out and
away in his mind.
'Understand your choice!' Mrs. Mel imperiously spoke. 'What are brains
given you for? To be played the fool with by idiots and women? You have
L5000 to pay to save your father from being called a rogue. You can only
make the money in one way, which is open to you. This business might
produce a thousand pounds a-year and more. In seven or eight years you
may clear your father's name, and live better all the time than many of
your bankrupt gentlemen. You have told the creditors you will pay them.
Do you think they're gaping fools, to be satisfied by a History of
Portugal? If you refuse to take the business at once, they will sell me
up, and quite right too. Understand your choice. There's Mr. Goren has
promised to have you in London a couple of months, and teach you what he
can. He is a kind friend. Would any of your gentlemen acquaintance do
the like for you? Understand your choice. You will be a beggar--the son
of a rogue--or an honest man who has cleared his father's name!'
During this strenuously uttered allocution, Mrs. Mel, though her chest
heaved but faintly against her crossed hands, showed by the dilatation of
her eyes, and the light in them, that she felt her words. There is that
in the aspect of a fine frame breathing hard facts, which, to a youth who
has been tumbled headlong from his card-castles and airy fabrics, is
masterful, and like the pressure of a Fate. Evan drooped his head.
'Now,' said Mrs. Mel, 'you shall have some supper.'
Evan told her he could not eat.
'I insist upon your eating,' said Mrs. Mel; 'empty stomachs are foul
'Mother! do you want to drive me mad?' cried Evan.
She looked at him to see whether the string she held him by would bear
the slight additional strain: decided not to press a small point.
'Then go to bed and sleep on it,' she said--sure of him--and gave her
cheek for his kiss, for she never performed the operation, but kept her
mouth, as she remarked, for food and speech, and not for slobbering
Evan returned to his solitary room. He sat on the bed and tried to
think, oppressed by horrible sensations of self-contempt, that caused
whatever he touched to sicken him.
There were the Douglas and the Percy on the wall. It was a happy and a
glorious time, was it not, when men lent each other blows that killed
outright; when to be brave and cherish noble feelings brought honour;
when strength of arm and steadiness of heart won fortune; when the fair
stars of earth--sweet women--wakened and warmed the love of squires of
low degree. This legacy of the dead man's hand! Evan would have paid it
with his blood; but to be in bondage all his days to it; through it to
lose all that was dear to him; to wear the length of a loathed
existence!--we should pardon a young man's wretchedness at the prospect,
for it was in a time before our joyful era of universal equality. Yet he
never cast a shade of blame upon his father.
The hours moved on, and he found himself staring at his small candle,
which struggled more and more faintly with the morning light, like his
own flickering ambition against the facts of life.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A man who rejected medicine in extremity
A share of pity for the objects she despised
A sixpence kindly meant is worth any crown-piece that's grudged
A youth who is engaged in the occupation of eating his heart
Accustomed to be paid for by his country
British hunger for news; second only to that for beef
Brotherhood among the select who wear masks instead of faces
By forbearance, put it in the wrong
Common voice of praise in the mouths of his creditors
Embarrassments of an uncongenial employment
Empty stomachs are foul counsellors
Equally acceptable salted when it cannot be had fresh
Far higher quality is the will that can subdue itself to wait
Few feelings are single on this globe
Gentlefolks like straight-forwardness in their inferiors
He squandered the guineas, she patiently picked up the pence
His wife alone, had, as they termed it, kept him together
I'll come as straight as I can
Informed him that he never played jokes with money, or on men
It was in a time before our joyful era of universal equality
It's no use trying to be a gentleman if you can't pay for it
Lay no petty traps for opportunity
Looked as proud as if he had just clapped down the full amount
Man without a penny in his pocket, and a gizzard full of pride
Men they regard as their natural prey
Most youths are like Pope's women; they have no character
Occasional instalments--just to freshen the account
Oh! I can't bear that class of people
Partake of a morning draught
Propitiate common sense on behalf of what seems tolerably absurd
Rare as epic song is the man who is thorough in what he does
Requiring natural services from her in the button department
Said she was what she would have given her hand not to be
She was at liberty to weep if she pleased
She, not disinclined to dilute her grief
Speech that has to be hauled from the depths usually betrays
Such a man was banned by the world, which was to be despised?
Tenderness which Mrs. Mel permitted rather than encouraged
To be both generally blamed, and generally liked
To let people speak was a maxim of Mrs. Mel's, and a wise one
Toyed with little flowers of palest memory
Tradesman, and he never was known to have sent in a bill
True enjoyment of the princely disposition
What he did, she took among other inevitable matters
Whose bounty was worse to him than his abuse
With a proud humility
You rides when you can, and you walks when you must
Youth is not alarmed by the sound of big sums
BY GEORGE MEREDITH
VIII. INTRODUCES AN ECCENTRIC
IX. THE COUNTESS IN LOW SOCIETY
X. MY GENTLEMAN ON THE ROAD AGAIN
XI. DOINGS AT AN INN
XII. IN WHICH ALE IS SHOWN TO HAVE ONE QUALITY OF WINE
XIII. THE MATCH OF FALLOW FIELD AGAINST BECKLEY
INTRODUCES AN ECCENTRIC
At the Aurora--one of those rare antiquated taverns, smelling of
comfortable time and solid English fare, that had sprung up in the great
coffee days, when taverns were clubs, and had since subsisted on the
attachment of steady bachelor Templars there had been dismay, and even
sorrow, for a month. The most constant patron of the establishment--an
old gentleman who had dined there for seven-and-twenty years, four days
in the week, off dishes dedicated to the particular days, and had grown
grey with the landlady, the cook, and the head-waiter--this old gentleman
had abruptly withheld his presence. Though his name, his residence, his
occupation, were things only to be speculated on at the Aurora, he was
very well known there, and as men are best to be known: that is to say,
by their habits. Some affection for him also was felt. The landlady
looked on him as a part of the house. The cook and the waiter were
accustomed to receive acceptable compliments from him monthly. His
precise words, his regular ancient jokes, his pint of Madeira and after-
pint of Port, his antique bow to the landlady, passing out and in, his
method of spreading his table-napkin on his lap and looking up at the
ceiling ere he fell to, and how he talked to himself during the repast,
and indulged in short chuckles, and the one look of perfect felicity that
played over his features when he had taken his first sip of Port--these
were matters it pained them at the Aurora to have to remember.
For three weeks the resolution not to regard him as of the past was
general. The Aurora was the old gentleman's home. Men do not play
truant from home at sixty years of age. He must, therefore, be seriously
indisposed. The kind heart of the landlady fretted to think he might
have no soul to nurse and care for him; but she kept his corner near the
fire-place vacant, and took care that his pint of Madeira was there. The
belief was gaining ground that he had gone, and that nothing but his
ghost would ever sit there again. Still the melancholy ceremony
continued: for the landlady was not without a secret hope, that in spite
of his reserve and the mystery surrounding him, he would have sent her a
last word. The cook and head-waiter, interrogated as to their dealings
with the old gentleman, testified solemnly to the fact of their having
performed their duty by him. They would not go against their interests
so much as to forget one of his ways, they said-taking oath, as it were,
by their lower nature, in order to be credited: an instinct men have of
one another. The landlady could not contradict them, for the old
gentleman had made no complaint; but then she called to memory that
fifteen years back, in such and such a year, Wednesday's, dish had been,
by shameful oversight, furnished him for Tuesday's, and he had eaten it
quietly, but refused his Port; which pathetic event had caused alarm and
inquiry, when the error was discovered, and apologized for, the old
gentleman merely saying, 'Don't let it happen again.' Next day he drank
his Port, as usual, and the wheels of the Aurora went smoothly. The
landlady was thus justified in averring that something had been done by
somebody, albeit unable to point to anything specific. Women, who are
almost as deeply bound to habit as old gentlemen, possess more of its
spiritual element, and are warned by dreams, omens, creepings of the
flesh, unwonted chills, suicide of china, and other shadowing signs, when
a break is to be anticipated, or, has occurred. The landlady of the
Aurora tavern was visited by none of these, and with that beautiful trust
which habit gives, and which boastful love or vainer earthly qualities
would fail in effecting, she ordered that the pint of Madeira should
stand from six o'clock in the evening till seven--a small monument of
confidence in him who was at one instant the 'poor old dear'; at another,
the 'naughty old gad-about'; further, the 'faithless old-good-for-
nothing'; and again, the 'blessed pet' of the landlady's parlour,
alternately and indiscriminately apostrophized by herself, her sister,
On the last day of the month a step was heard coming up the long alley
which led from the riotous scrambling street to the plentiful cheerful
heart of the Aurora. The landlady knew the step. She checked the
natural flutterings of her ribbons, toned down the strong simper that was
on her lips, rose, pushed aside her daughter, and, as the step
approached, curtsied composedly. Old Habit lifted his hat, and passed.
With the same touching confidence in the Aurora that the Aurora had in
him, he went straight to his corner, expressed no surprise at his welcome
by the Madeira, and thereby apparently indicated that his appearance
should enjoy a similar immunity.
As of old, he called 'Jonathan!' and was not to be disturbed till he did
so. Seeing that Jonathan smirked and twiddled his napkin, the old
gentleman added, 'Thursday!'
But Jonathan, a man, had not his mistress's keen intuition of the
deportment necessitated by the case, or was incapable of putting the
screw upon weak excited nature, for he continued to smirk, and was
remarking how glad he was, he was sure, and something he had dared to
think and almost to fear, when the old gentleman called to him, as if he
were at the other end of the room, 'Will you order Thursday, or not,
sir?' Whereat Jonathan flew, and two or three cosy diners glanced up
from their plates, or the paper, smiled, and pursued their capital
'Glad to see me!' the old gentleman muttered, querulously. 'Of course,
glad to see a customer! Why do you tell me that? Talk! tattle! might
as well have a woman to wait--just!'
He wiped his forehead largely with his handkerchief; as one whom Calamity
hunted a little too hard in summer weather.
'No tumbling-room for the wine, too!'
That was his next grievance. He changed the pint of Madeira from his
left side to his right, and went under his handkerchief again,
feverishly. The world was severe with this old gentleman.
'Ah! clock wrong now!'
He leaned back like a man who can no longer carry his burdens, informing
Jonathan, on his coming up to place the roll of bread and firm butter,
that he was forty seconds too fast, as if it were a capital offence, and
he deserved to step into Eternity for outstripping Time.
'But, I daresay, you don't understand the importance of a minute,' said
the old gentleman, bitterly. 'Not you, or any of you. Better if we had
run a little ahead of your minute, perhaps--and the rest of you! Do you
think you can cancel the mischief that's done in the world in that
minute, sir, by hurrying ahead like that? Tell me !'
Rather at a loss, Jonathan scanned the clock seriously, and observed that
it was not quite a minute too fast.
The old gentleman pulled out his watch. He grunted that a lying clock
was hateful to him; subsequently sinking into contemplation of his
thumbs,--a sign known to Jonathan as indicative of the old gentleman's
system having resolved, in spite of external outrages, to be fortified
with calm to meet the repast.
It is not fair to go behind an eccentric; but the fact was, this old
gentleman was slightly ashamed of his month's vagrancy and cruel conduct,
and cloaked his behaviour toward the Aurora, in all the charges he could
muster against it. He was very human, albeit an odd form of the race.
Happily for his digestion of Thursday, the cook, warned by Jonathan, kept
the old gentleman's time, not the Aurora's: and the dinner was correct;
the dinner was eaten in peace; he began to address his plate vigorously,
poured out his Madeira, and chuckled, as the familiar ideas engendered by
good wine were revived in him. Jonathan reported at the bar that the old
gentleman was all right again.
One would like here to pause, while our worthy ancient feeds, and indulge
in a short essay on Habit, to show what a sacred and admirable thing it
is that makes flimsy Time substantial, and consolidates his triple life.
It is proof that we have come to the end of dreams and Time's delusions,
and are determined to sit down at Life's feast and carve for ourselves.
Its day is the child of yesterday, and has a claim on to-morrow. Whereas
those who have no such plan of existence and sum of their wisdom to show,
the winds blow them as they list. Consider, then, mercifully the wrath
of him on whom carelessness or forgetfulness has brought a snap in the
links of Habit. You incline to scorn him because, his slippers
misplaced, or asparagus not on his table the first day of a particular
Spring month, he gazes blankly and sighs as one who saw the End. To you
it may appear small. You call to him to be a man. He is: but he is also
an immortal, and his confidence in unceasing orderly progression is
But the old gentleman has finished his dinner and his Madeira, and says:
'Now, Jonathan, "thock" the Port!'--his joke when matters have gone well:
meant to express the sound of the uncorking, probably. The habit of
making good jokes is rare, as you know: old gentlemen have not yet
attained to it: nevertheless Jonathan enjoys this one, which has seen a
generation in and out, for he knows its purport to be, 'My heart is
And now is a great time with this old gentleman. He sips, and in his
eyes the world grows rosy, and he exchanges mute or monosyllable salutes
here and there. His habit is to avoid converse; but he will let a light
remark season meditation.
He says to Jonathan: 'The bill for the month.'
'Yes, sir,' Jonathan replies. 'Would you not prefer, sir, to have the
items added on to the month ensuing?'
'I asked you for the bill of the month,' said the old gentleman, with an
irritated voice and a twinkle in his eye.
Jonathan bowed; but his aspect betrayed perplexity, and that perplexity
was soon shared by the landlady for Jonathan said, he was convinced the
old gentleman intended to pay for sixteen days, and the landlady could
not bring her hand to charge him for more than two. Here was the dilemma
foreseen by the old gentleman, and it added vastly to the flavour of the
Pleasantly tickled, he sat gazing at his glass, and let the minutes fly.
He knew the part he would act in his little farce. If charged for the
whole month, he would peruse the bill deliberately, and perhaps cry out
'Hulloa?' and then snap at Jonathan for the interposition of a remark.
But if charged for two days, he would wish to be told whether they were
demented, those people outside, and scornfully return the bill to
A slap on the shoulder, and a voice: 'Found you at last, Tom!' violently
shattered the excellent plot, and made the old gentleman start. He
beheld Mr. Andrew Cogglesby.
'Drinking Port, Tom?' said Mr. Andrew. 'I 'll join you': and he sat down
opposite to him, rubbing his hands and pushing back his hair.
Jonathan entering briskly with the bill, fell back a step, in alarm. The
old gentleman, whose inviolacy was thus rudely assailed, sat staring at
the intruder, his mouth compressed, and three fingers round his glass,
which it' was doubtful whether he was not going to hurl at him.
'Waiter!' Mr. Andrew carelessly hailed, 'a pint of this Port, if you
Jonathan sought the countenance of the old gentleman.
'Do you hear, sir?' cried the latter, turning his wrath on him. 'Another
pint!' He added: 'Take back the bill'; and away went Jonathan to relate
fresh marvels to his mistress.
Mr. Andrew then addressed the old gentleman in the most audacious manner.
'Astonished to see me here, Tom? Dare say you are. I knew you came
somewhere in this neighbourhood, and, as I wanted to speak to you very
particularly, and you wouldn't be visible till Monday, why, I spied into
two or three places, and here I am.'
You might see they were brothers. They had the same bushy eyebrows, the
same healthy colour in their cheeks, the same thick shoulders, and brisk
way of speaking, and clear, sharp, though kindly, eyes; only Tom was cast
in larger proportions than Andrew, and had gotten the grey furniture of
Time for his natural wear. Perhaps, too, a cross in early life had a
little twisted him, and set his mouth in a rueful bunch, out of which
occasionally came biting things. Mr. Andrew carried his head up, and
eyed every man living with the benevolence of a patriarch, dashed with
the impudence of a London sparrow. Tom had a nagging air, and a trifle
of acridity on his broad features. Still, any one at a glance could have
sworn they were brothers, and Jonathan unhesitatingly proclaimed it at
the Aurora bar.
Mr. Andrew's hands were working together, and at them, and at his face,
the old gentleman continued to look with a firmly interrogating air.
'Want to know what brings me, Tom? I'll tell you presently. Hot,--isn't
'What the deuce are you taking exercise for?' the old gentleman burst
out, and having unlocked his mouth, he began to puff and alter his
'There you are, thawed in a minute!' said Mr. Andrew. 'What's an
eccentric? a child grown grey. It isn't mine; I read it somewhere.
Ah, here's the Port! good, I'll warrant.'
Jonathan deferentially uncorked, excessive composure on his visage. He
arranged the table-cloth to a nicety, fixed the bottle with exactness,
and was only sent scudding by the old gentleman's muttering of:
'Eavesdropping pie!' followed by a short, 'Go!' and even then he must
delay to sweep off a particular crumb.
'Good it is!' said Mr. Andrew, rolling the flavour on his lips, as he put
down his glass. 'I follow you in Port, Tom. Elder brother !'
The old gentleman also drank, and was mollified enough to reply: 'Shan't
follow you in Parliament.'
'Haven't forgiven that yet, Tom?'
'No great harm done when you're silent.'
'Capital Port!' said Mr. Andrew, replenishing the glasses. 'I ought to
have inquired where they kept the best Port. I might have known you'd
stick by it. By the way, talking of Parliament, there's talk of a new
election for Fallow field. You have a vote there. Will you give it to
Jocelyn? There's talk of his standing.
'If he'll wear petticoats, I'll give him my vote.'
'There you go, Tom!'
'I hate masquerades. You're penny trumpets of the women. That tattle
comes from the bed-curtains. When a petticoat steps forward I give it my
vote, or else I button it up in my pocket.'
This was probably one of the longest speeches he had ever delivered at
the Aurora. There was extra Port in it. Jonathan, who from his place of
observation noted the length of time it occupied, though he was unable to
gather the context, glanced at Mr. Andrew with a sly satisfaction. Mr.
Andrew, laughing, signalled for another pint.
'So you've come here for my vote, have you?' said Mr. Tom.
'Why, no; not exactly that,' Mr. Andrew answered, blinking and passing it
Jonathan brought the fresh pint, and Tom filled for himself, drank, and
said emphatically, and with a confounding voice:
'Your women have been setting you on me, sir!'
Andrew protested that he was entirely mistaken.
'You're the puppet of your women!'
'Well, Tom, not in this instance. Here's to the bachelors, and brother
Tom at their head!'
It seemed to be Andrew's object to help his companion to carry a certain
quantity of Port, as if he knew a virtue it had to subdue him, and to
have fixed on a particular measure that he should hold before he
addressed him specially. Arrived at this, he said:
'Look here, Tom. I know your ways. I shouldn't have bothered you here;
I never have before; but we couldn't very well talk it over in business
hours; and besides you're never at the Brewery till Monday, and the
matter's rather urgent.'
'Why don't you speak like that in Parliament?' the old man interposed.
'Because Parliament isn't my brother,' replied Mr. Andrew. 'You know,
Tom, you never quite took to my wife's family.'
'I'm not a match for fine ladies, Nan.'
'Well, Harriet would have taken to you, Tom, and will now, if you 'll let
her. Of course, it 's a pity if she 's ashamed of--hem! You found it
out about the Lymport people, Tom, and, you've kept the secret and
respected her feelings, and I thank you for it. Women are odd in those
things, you know. She mustn't imagine I 've heard a whisper. I believe
it would kill her.'
The old gentleman shook silently.
'Do you want me to travel over the kingdom, hawking her for the daughter
of a marquis?'
'Now, don't joke, Tom. I'm serious. Are you not a Radical at heart?
Why do you make such a set against the poor women? What do we spring
'I take off my hat, Nan, when I see a cobbler's stall.'
'And I, Tom, don't care a rush who knows it. Homo--something; but we
never had much schooling. We 've thriven, and should help those we can.
We've got on in the world . . .'
'Wife come back from Lymport?' sneered Tom.
Andrew hurriedly, and with some confusion, explained that she had not
been able to go, on account of the child.
'Account of the child!' his brother repeated, working his chin
contemptuously. 'Sisters gone?'
'They're stopping with us,' said Andrew, reddening.
'So the tailor was left to the kites and the crows. Ah! hum!' and Tom
'You're angry with me, Tom, for coming here,' said Andrew. 'I see what
it is. Thought how it would be! You're offended, old Tom.'
'Come where you like,' returned Tom, 'the place is open. It's a fool
that hopes for peace anywhere. They sent a woman here to wait on me,
this day month.'
'That's a shame!' said Mr. Andrew, propitiatingly. 'Well, never mind,
Tom: the women are sometimes in the way.--Evan went down to bury his
father. He's there now. You wouldn't see him when he was at the
Brewery, Tom. He's--upon my honour! he's a good young fellow.'
'A fine young gentleman, I've no doubt, Nan.'
'A really good lad, Tom. No nonsense. I've come here to speak to you
Mr. Andrew drew a letter from his pocket, pursuing: 'Just throw aside
your prejudices, and read this. It's a letter I had from him this
morning. But first I must tell you how the case stands.'
'Know more than you can tell me, Nan,' said Tom, turning over the flavour
of a gulp of his wine.
'Well, then, just let me repeat it. He has been capitally educated; he
has always been used to good society: well, we mustn't sneer at it: good
society's better than bad, you'll allow. He has refined tastes: well,
you wouldn't like to live among crossing-sweepers, Tom. He 's clever and
accomplished, can speak and write in three languages: I wish I had his
abilities. He has good manners: well, Tom, you know you like them as
well as anybody. And now--but read for yourself.'
'Yah!' went old Tom. 'The women have been playing the fool with him
since he was a baby. I read his rigmarole? No.'
Mr. Andrew shrugged his shoulders, and opened the letter, saying: 'Well,
listen'; and then he coughed, and rapidly skimmed the introductory part.
'Excuses himself for addressing me formally--poor boy! Circumstances
have altered his position towards the world found his father's affairs in
a bad state: only chance of paying off father's debts to undertake
management of business, and bind himself to so much a year. But there,
Tom, if you won't read it, you miss the poor young fellow's character.
He says that he has forgotten his station: fancied he was superior to
trade, but hates debt; and will not allow anybody to throw dirt at his
father's name, while he can work to clear it; and will sacrifice his
pride. Come, Tom, that's manly, isn't it? I call it touching, poor
Manly it may have been, but the touching part of it was a feature missed
in Mr. Andrew's hands. At any rate, it did not appear favourably to
impress Tom, whose chin had gathered its ominous puckers, as he inquired:
'What's the trade? he don't say.'
Andrew added, with a wave of the hand: 'Out of a sort of feeling for his
sisters--I like him for it. Now what I want to ask you, Tom, is, whether
we can't assist him in some way! Why couldn't we take him into our
office, and fix him there, eh? If he works well--we're both getting old,
and my brats are chicks--we might, by-and-by, give him a share.'
'Make a brewer of him? Ha! there'd be another mighty sacrifice for his
'Come, come, Tom,' said Andrew, 'he's my wife's brother, and I'm yours;
and--there, you know what women are. They like to preserve appearances:
we ought to consider them.'
'Preserve appearances!' echoed Tom: 'ha! who'll do that for them better
than a tailor?'
Andrew was an impatient little man, fitter for a kind action than to
plead a cause. Jeering jarred on him; and from the moment his brother
began it, he was of small service to Evan. He flung back against the
partition of the compound, rattling it to the disturbance of many a quiet
'Tom,' he cried, 'I believe you're a screw!'
'Never said I wasn't,' rejoined Tom, as he finished his glass. 'I 'm a
bachelor, and a person--you're married, and an object. I won't have the
tailor's family at my coat-tails.'
Do you mean to say, Tom, you don't like the young fellow? The Countess
says he's half engaged to an heiress; and he has a chance of appointments
--of course, nothing may come of them. But do you mean to say, you don't
like him for what he has done?'
Tom made his jaw disagreeably prominent. ''Fraid I'm guilty of that
'And you that swear at people pretending to be above their station!'
exclaimed Andrew. 'I shall get in a passion. I can't stand this.
Here, waiter! what have I to pay?'
'Go,' cried the time-honoured guest of the Aurora to Jonathan advancing.
Andrew pressed the very roots of his hair back from his red forehead,
and sat upright and resolute, glancing at Tom. And now ensued a curious
scene of family blood. For no sooner did elderly Tom observe this
bantam-like demeanour of his brother, than he ruffled his feathers
likewise, and looked down on him, agitating his wig over a prodigious
frown. Whereof came the following sharp colloquy; Andrew beginning:
I 'll pay off the debts out of my own pocket.'
'You can make a greater fool of yourself, then?'
'He shan't be a tailor!'
'He shan't be a brewer!'
'I say he shall live like a gentleman!'
'I say he shall squat like a Turk!'
Bang went Andrew's hand on the table: 'I 've pledged my word, mind!'
Tom made a counter demonstration: 'And I'll have my way!'
'Hang it! I can be as eccentric as you,' said Andrew.
'And I as much a donkey as you, if I try hard,' said Tom.
Something of the cobbler's stall followed this; till waxing furious, Tom
sung out to Jonathan, hovering around them in watchful timidity, 'More
Port!' and the words immediately fell oily on the wrath of the brothers;
both commenced wiping their heads with their handkerchiefs the faces of
both emerged and met, with a half-laugh: and, severally determined to
keep to what they had spoken, there was a tacit accord between them to
drop the subject.
Like sunshine after smart rain, the Port shone on these brothers. Like a
voice from the pastures after the bellowing of the thunder, Andrew's
voice asked: 'Got rid of that twinge of the gout, Tom? Did you rub in
that ointment?' while Tom replied: 'Ay. How about that rheumatism of
yours? Have you tried that Indy oil?' receiving a like assurance.
The remainder of the Port ebbed in meditation and chance remarks. The
bit of storm had done them both good; and Tom especially--the cynical,
carping, grim old gentleman--was much improved by the nearer resemblance
of his manner to Andrew's.
Behind this unaffected fraternal concord, however, the fact that they
were pledged to a race in eccentricity, was present. They had been
rivals before; and anterior to the date of his marriage, Andrew had done
odd eclipsing things. But Andrew required prompting to it; he required
to be put upon his mettle. Whereas, it was more nature with Tom: nature
and the absence of a wife, gave him advantages over Andrew. Besides, he
had his character to maintain. He had said the word: and the first
vanity of your born eccentric is, that he shall be taken for infallible.
Presently Andrew ducked his head to mark the evening clouds flushing over
the court-yard of the Aurora.
'Time to be off, Tom,' he said: 'wife at home.'
'Ah!' Tom answered. 'Well, I haven't got to go to bed so early.'
'What an old rogue you are, Tom!' Andrew pushed his elbows forward on
the table amiably. 'Gad, we haven't drunk wine together since--by George!
we'll have another pint.'
'Many as you like,' said Tom.
Over the succeeding pint, Andrew, in whose veins the Port was merry,
favoured his brother with an imitation of Major Strike, and indicated his
dislike to that officer. Tom informed him that Major Strike was
'The ass eats at my table, and treats me with contempt.'
'Just tell him that you're putting by the bones for him. He 'll want
Then Andrew with another glance at the clouds, now violet on a grey sky,
said he must really be off. Upon which Tom observed: 'Don't come here
'You old rascal, Tom !' cried Andrew, swinging over the table: 'it's
quite jolly for us to be hob-a-nobbing together once more. 'Gad!--no, we
won't though! I promised--Harriet. Eh? What say, Tom?'
'Nother pint, Nan?'
Tom shook his head in a roguishly-cosy, irresistible way. Andrew, from a
shake of denial and resolve, fell into the same; and there sat the two
brothers--a jolly picture.
The hour was ten, when Andrew Cogglesby, comforted by Tom's remark, that
he, Tom, had a wig, and that he, Andrew, would have a wigging, left the
Aurora; and he left it singing a song. Tom Cogglesby still sat at his
table, holding before him Evan's letter, of which he had got possession;
and knocking it round and round with a stroke of the forefinger, to the
tune of, 'Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, 'pothecary, ploughboy, thief';
each profession being sounded as a corner presented itself to the point
of his nail. After indulging in this species of incantation for some
length of time, Tom Cogglesby read the letter from beginning to end, and
called peremptorily for pen, ink, and paper.
THE COUNTESS IN LOW SOCIETY
By dint of stratagems worthy of a Court intrigue, the Countess de Saldar
contrived to traverse the streets of Lymport, and enter the house where
she was born, unsuspected and unseen, under cover of a profusion of lace
and veil and mantilla, which only her heroic resolve to keep her beauties
hidden from the profane townspeople could have rendered endurable beneath
the fervid summer sun. Dress in a foreign style she must, as without it
she lost that sense of superiority, which was the only comfort to her in
her tribulations. The period of her arrival was ten days subsequent to
the burial of her father. She had come in the coach, like any common
mortal, and the coachman, upon her request, had put her down at the
Governor's house, and the guard had knocked at the door, and the servant
had informed her that General Hucklebridge was not the governor of
Lymport, nor did Admiral Combleman then reside in the town; which
tidings, the coach then being out of sight, it did not disconcert the
Countess to hear; and she reached her mother, having, at least, cut off
communication with the object of conveyance.
The Countess kissed her mother, kissed Mrs. Fiske, and asked sharply for
Evan. Mrs. Fiske let her know that Evan was in the house.
'Where?' inquired the Countess. 'I have news of the utmost importance
for him. I must see him.'
'Where is he, aunt?' said Mrs. Fiske. 'In the shop, I think; I wonder
he did not see you passing, Louisa.'
The Countess went bolt down into a chair.
'Go to him, Jane,' said Mrs. Mel. 'Tell him Louisa is here, and don't
Mrs. Fiske departed, and the Countess smiled.
'Thank you, Mama! you know I never could bear that odious, vulgar little
woman. Oh, the heat! You talk of Portugal! And, oh! poor dear Papa!
what I have suffered!'
Flapping her laces for air, and wiping her eyes for sorrow, the Countess
poured a flood of sympathy into her mother's ears and then said:
'But you have made a great mistake, Mama, in allowing Evan to put his
foot into that place. He--beloved of an heiress! Why, if an enemy
should hear of it, it would ruin him--positively blast him--for ever.
And that she loves him I have proof positive. Yes; with all her
frankness, the little thing cannot conceal that from me now. She loves
him! And I desire you to guess, Mama, whether rivals will not abound?
And what enemy so much to be dreaded as a rival? And what revelation so
awful as that he has stood in a--in a--boutique?'
Mrs. Mel maintained her usual attitude for listening. It had occurred to
her that it might do no good to tell the grand lady, her daughter;
of Evan's resolution, so she simply said, 'It is discipline for him,' and
left her to speak a private word with the youth.
Timidly the Countess inspected the furniture of the apartment, taking
chills at the dingy articles she saw, in the midst of her heat. That she
should have sprung from this! The thought was painful; still she could
forgive Providence so much. But should it ever be known she had sprung
from this! Alas! she felt she never could pardon such a dire betrayal.
She had come in good spirits, but the mention of Evan's backsliding had
troubled her extremely, and though she did not say to herself, What was
the benefit resulting from her father's dying, if Evan would be so base-
minded? she thought the thing indefinitely, and was forming the words on
her mouth, One Harrington in a shop is equal to all! when Evan appeared
'Why, goodness gracious! where's your moustache?' cried the Countess.
'Gone the way of hair!' said Evan, coldly stooping to her forehead.
'Such a distinction!' the Countess continued, reproachfully. 'Why, mon
Dieu! one could hardly tell you; as you look now, from the very
commonest tradesman--if you were not rather handsome and something of a
figure. It's a disguise, Evan--do you know that?'
'And I 've parted with it--that 's all,' said Evan. 'No more disguises
The Countess immediately took his arm, and walked with him to a window.
His face was certainly changed. Murmuring that the air of Lymport was
bad for him, and that he must leave it instantly, she bade him sit and
attend to what she was about to say.
While you have been here, degenerating, Evan, day by day--as you always
do out of my sight--degenerating! no less a word!--I have been slaving in
your interests. Yes; I have forced the Jocelyns socially to acknowledge
us. I have not slept; I have eaten bare morsels. Do abstinence and
vigils clear the wits? I know not! but indeed they have enabled me to
do more in a week than would suffice for a lifetime. Hark to me. I have
discovered Rose's secret. Si! It is so! Rose loves you. You blush;
you blush like a girl. She loves you, and you have let yourself be seen
in a shop! Contrast me the two things. Oh! in verity, dreadful as it
is, one could almost laugh. But the moment I lose sight of you, my
instructions vanish as quickly as that hair on your superior lip, which
took such time to perfect. Alas! you must grow it again immediately.
Use any perfumer's contrivance. Rowland! I have great faith in Rowland.
Without him, I believe, there would have been many bald women committing
suicide! You remember the bottle I gave to the Count de Villa Flor?
"Countess," he said to me, "you have saved this egg-shell from a crack by
helping to cover it"--for so he called his head--the top, you know, was
beginning to shine like an egg. And I do fear me he would have done it.
Ah! you do not conceive what the dread of baldness is! To a woman death-
-death is preferable to baldness! Baldness is death! And a wig--
a wig! Oh, horror! total extinction is better than to rise again in a
wig! But you are young, and play with hair. But I was saying, I went to
see the Jocelyns. I was introduced to Sir Franks and his lady and the
wealthy grandmother. And I have an invitation for you, Evan--you
unmannered boy, that you do not bow! A gentle incline forward of the
shoulders, and the eyes fixed softly, your upper lids drooping
triflingly, as if you thanked with gentle sincerity, but were
indifferent. Well, well, if you will not! An invitation for you to
spend part of the autumn at Beckley Court, the ancestral domain, where
there will be company the nobles of the land! Consider that. You say it
was bold in me to face them after that horrible man committed us on board
the vessel? A Harrington is anything but a coward. I did go and because
I am devoted to your interests. That very morning, I saw announced in
the paper, just beneath poor Andrew's hand, as he held it up at the
breakfasttable, reading it, I saw among the deaths, Sir Abraham
Harrington, of Torquay, Baronet, of quinsy! Twice that good man has come
to my rescue! Oh! I welcomed him as a piece of Providence! I turned and
said to Harriet, "I see they have put poor Papa in the paper." Harriet
was staggered. I took the paper from Andrew, and pointed it to her. She
has no readiness. She has had no foreign training. She could not
comprehend, and Andrew stood on tiptoe, and peeped. He has a bad cough,
and coughed himself black in the face. I attribute it to excessive bad
manners and his cold feelings. He left the room. I reproached Harriet.
But, oh! the singularity of the excellent fortune of such an event at
such a time! It showed that our Harrington-luck had not forsaken us.
I hurried to the Jocelyns instantly. Of course, it cleared away any
suspicions aroused in them by that horrible man on board the vessel.
And the tears I wept for Sir Abraham, Evan, in verity they were tears of
deep and sincere gratitude! What is your mouth knitting the corners at?
Are you laughing?'
Evan hastily composed his visage to the melancholy that was no
counterfeit in him just then.
'Yes,' continued the Countess, easily reassured, 'I shall ever feel a
debt to Sir Abraham Harrington, of Torquay. I dare say we are related to
him. At least he has done us more service than many a rich and titled
relative. No one supposes he would acknowledge poor Papa. I can forgive
him that, Evan!' The Countess pointed out her finger with mournful and
impressive majesty, 'As we look down on that monkey, people of rank and
consideration in society look on what poor dear Papa was.'
This was partly true, for Jacko sat on a chair, in his favourite
attitude, copied accurately from the workmen of the establishment at
their labour with needle and thread. Growing cognizant of the infamy of
his posture, the Countess begged Evan to drive him out of her sight, and
took a sniff at her smelling-bottle.
She went on: 'Now, dear Van, you would hear of your sweet Rose?'
'Not a word!' Evan hastily answered.
'Why, what does this indicate? Whims! Then you do love?'
'I tell you, Louisa, I don't want to hear a word of any of them,' said
Evan, with an angry gleam in his eyes. 'They are nothing to me, nor I to
them. I--my walk in life is not theirs.'
'Faint heart! faint heart!' the Countess lifted a proverbial forefinger.
'Thank heaven, I shall have the consolation of not going about, and
bowing and smirking like an impostor!' Evan exclaimed.
There was a wider intelligence in the Countess's arrested gaze than she
chose to fashion into speech.
'I knew,' she said, 'I knew how the air of this horrible Lymport would
act on you. But while I live, Evan, you shall not sink in the sludge.
You, with all the pains I have lavished on you! and with your presence!--
for you have a presence, so rare among young men in this England! You,
who have been to a Court, and interchanged bows with duchesses, and I
know not what besides--nay, I do not accuse you; but if you had not been
a mere boy, and an English boy-poor Eugenia herself confessed to me that
you had a look--a tender cleaving of the underlids--that made her catch
her hand to her heart sometimes: it reminded her so acutely of false
Belmarafa. Could you have had a greater compliment than that? You shall
not stop here another day!'
'True,' said Evan, 'for I'm going to London to-night.'
'Not to London,' the Countess returned, with a conquering glance, 'but to
Beckley Court-and with me.'
'To London, Louisa, with Mr. Goren.'
Again the Countess eyed him largely; but took, as it were, a side-path
from her broad thought, saying: 'Yes, fortunes are made in London, if you
would they should be rapid.'
She meditated. At that moment Dandy knocked at the door, and called
outside: 'Please, master, Mr. Goren says there's a gentleman in the shop-
wants to see you.'
'Very well,' replied Evan, moving. He was swung violently round.
The Countess had clutched him by the arm. A fearful expression was on
'Whither do you go?' she said.
'To the shop, Louisa.'
Too late to arrest the villanous word, she pulled at him. 'Are you quite
insane? Consent to be seen by a gentleman there? What has come to you?
You must be lunatic! Are we all to be utterly ruined--disgraced?'
'Is my mother to starve?' said Evan.
'Absurd rejoinder! No! You should have sold everything here before
this. She can live with Harriet--she--once out of this horrible element
--she would not show it. But, Evan, you are getting away from me: you
are not going?--speak!'
'I am going,' said Evan.
The Countess clung to him, exclaiming: 'Never, while I have the power to
detain you!' but as he was firm and strong, she had recourse to her
woman's aids, and burst into a storm of sobs on his shoulder--a scene of
which Mrs. Mel was, for some seconds, a composed spectator.
'What 's the matter now?' said Mrs. Mel.
Evan impatiently explained the case. Mrs. Mel desired her daughter to
avoid being ridiculous, and making two fools in her family; and at the
same time that she told Evan there was no occasion for him to go,
contrived, with a look, to make the advice a command. He, in that state
of mind when one takes bitter delight in doing an abhorred duty, was
hardly willing to be submissive; but the despair of the Countess reduced
him, and for her sake he consented to forego the sacrifice of his pride
which was now his sad, sole pleasure. Feeling him linger, the Countess
relaxed her grasp. Hers were tears that dried as soon as they had served
their end; and, to give him the full benefit of his conduct, she said:
'I knew Evan would be persuaded by me.'
Evan pitifully pressed her hand, and sighed.
'Tea is on the table down-stairs,' said Mrs. Mel. 'I have cooked
something for you, Louisa. Do you sleep here to-night?'
'Can I tell you, Mama?' murmured the Countess. 'I am dependent on our
'Oh! well, we will eat first,' said Mrs. Mel, and they went to the table
below, the Countess begging her mother to drop titles in designating her
to the servants, which caused Mrs. Mel to say: