Part 2 out of 2
That's my opinion. But I say she's a wonderful girl to see it.'
Chattering thus, Andrew drove with the dear boy into Fallow field. Evan
was still in his dream. To him the generous love and valiant openness of
Rose, though they were matched in his own bosom, seemed scarcely human.
Almost as noble to him were the gentlemanly plainspeaking of Sir Franks
and Lady Jocelyn's kind commonsense. But the more he esteemed them, the
more unbounded and miraculous appeared the prospect of his calling their
daughter by the sacred name, and kneeling with her at their feet. Did
the dear heavens have that in store for him? The horizon edges were
Harry looked about under his eye-lids for Evan, trying at the same time
to compose himself for the martyrdom he had to endure in sitting at table
with the presumptuous fellow. The Countess signalled him to come within
the presence. As he was crossing the room, Rose entered, and moved to
meet him, with: 'Ah, Harry! back again! Glad to see you.'
Harry gave her a blunt nod, to which she was inattentive.
'What!' whispered the Countess, after he pressed the tips of her fingers.
'Have you brought back the grocer?'
Now this was hard to stand. Harry could forgive her her birth, and pass
it utterly by if she chose to fall in love with him; but to hear the
grocer mentioned, when he knew of the tailor, was a little too much, and
what Harry felt his ingenuous countenance was accustomed to exhibit. The
Countess saw it. She turned her head from him to the diplomatist, and he
had to remain like a sentinel at her feet. He did not want to be thanked
for the green box: still he thought she might have favoured him with one
of her much-embracing smiles:
In the evening, after wine, when he was warm, and had almost forgotten
the insult to his family and himself, the Countess snubbed him. It was
unwise on her part, but she had the ghastly thought that facts were
oozing out, and were already half known. She was therefore sensitive
tenfold to appearances; savage if one failed to keep up her lie to her,
and was guilty of a shadow of difference of behaviour. The pic-nic over,
our General would evacuate Beckley Court, and shake the dust off her
shoes, and leave the harvest of what she had sown to Providence. Till
then, respect, and the honours of war! So the Countess snubbed him, and
he being full of wine, fell into the hands of Juliana, who had witnessed
the little scene.
'She has made a fool of others as well as of you,' said Juliana.
'How has she?' he inquired.
'Never mind. Do you want to make her humble and crouch to you?'
'I want to see Harrington,' said Harry.
'He will not return to-night from Fallow field. He has gone there to get
Mr. Andrew Cogglesby's brother to do something for him. You won't have
such another chance of humbling them both--both! I told you his mother
is at an inn here. The Countess has sent Mr. Harrington to Fallow field
to be out of the way, and she has told her mother all sorts of
'How do you know all that?' quoth Harry. 'By Jove, Juley! talk about
plotters! No keeping anything from you, ever!'
'Never mind. The mother is here. She must be a vulgar woman. Oh! if
you could manage, Harry, to get this woman to come--you could do it so
easily! while they are at the pie-nic tomorrow. It would have the best
effect on Rose. She would then understand! And the Countess!'
'I could send the old woman a message!' cried Harry, rushing into the
scheme, inspired by Juliana's fiery eyes. 'Send her a sort of message to
say where we all were.'
'Let her know that her son is here, in some way,' Juley resumed.
'And, egad! what an explosion!' pursued Harry. 'But, suppose--'
'No one shall know, if you leave it to me-if you do just as I tell you,
Harry. You won't be treated as you were this evening after that, if you
bring down her pride. And, Harry, I hear you want money--I can give you
'You're a perfect trump, Juley!' exclaimed her enthusiastic cousin.
'But, no; I can't take it. I must kiss you, though.'
He put a kiss upon her cheek. Once his kisses had left a red waxen
stamp; she was callous to these compliments now.
'Will you do what I advise you to-morrow?' she asked.
After a slight hesitation, during which the olive-hued visage flitted
faintly in the distances of his brain, Harry said:
'It 'll do Rose good, and make Harrington cut. Yes! I declare I will.'
Then they parted. Juliana went to her bed-room, and flung herself upon
the bed hysterically. As the tears came thick and fast, she jumped up to
lock the door, for this outrageous habit of crying had made her
contemptible in the eyes of Lady Jocelyn, and an object of pity to Rose.
Some excellent and noble natures cannot tolerate disease, and are
mystified by its ebullitions. It was very sad to see the slight thin
frame grasped by those wan hands to contain the violence of the frenzy
that possessed her! the pale, hapless face rigid above the torment in
her bosom! She had prayed to be loved like other girls, and her
readiness to give her heart in return had made her a by-word in the
house. She went to the window and leaned out on the casement, looking
towards Fallowfield over the downs, weeping bitterly, with a hard shut
mouth. One brilliant star hung above the ridge, and danced on her tears.
'Will he forgive me?' she murmured. 'Oh, my God! I wish we were dead
Her weeping ceased, and she closed the window, and undressed as far away
from the mirror as she could get; but its force was too much for her, and
drew her to it. Some undefined hope had sprung in her suddenly. With
nervous slow steps she approached the glass, and first brushing back the
masses of black hair from her brow, looked as for some new revelation.
Long and anxiously she perused her features: the wide bony forehead; the
eyes deep-set and rounded with the scarlet of recent tears, the thin
nose-sharp as the dead; the weak irritable mouth and sunken cheeks. She
gazed like a spirit disconnected from what she saw. Presently a sort of
forlorn negative was indicated by the motion of her head.
'I can pardon him,' she said, and sighed. 'How could he love such a
THE BATTLE OF THE BULL-DOGS. PART I
At the South-western extremity of the park, with a view extending over
wide meadows and troubled mill waters, yellow barn-roofs and weather-gray
old farm-walls, two grassy mounds threw their slopes to the margin of the
stream. Here the bull-dogs held revel. The hollow between the slopes
was crowned by a bending birch, which rose three-stemmed from the root,
and hung a noiseless green shower over the basin of green it shadowed.
Beneath it the interminable growl sounded pleasantly; softly shot the
sparkle of the twisting water, and you might dream things half-fulfilled.
Knots of fern were about, but the tops of the mounds were firm grass,
evidently well rolled, and with an eye to airy feet. Olympus one
eminence was called, Parnassus the other. Olympus a little overlooked
Parnassus, but Parnassus was broader and altogether better adapted for
the games of the Muses. Round the edges of both there was a well-trimmed
bush of laurel, obscuring only the feet of the dancers from the observing
gods. For on Olympus the elders reclined. Great efforts had
occasionally been made to dispossess and unseat them, and their security
depended mainly on a hump in the middle of the mound which defied the
Watteau-like groups were already couched in the shade. There were ladies
of all sorts: town-bred and country-bred: farmers' daughters and
daughters of peers: for this pic-nic, as Lady Jocelyn, disgusting the
Countess, would call it, was in reality a 'fete champetre', given
annually, to which the fair offspring of the superior tenants were
invited the brothers and fathers coming to fetch them in the evening.
It struck the eye of the Countess de Saldar that Olympus would be a
fitting throne for her, and a point whence her shafts might fly without
fear of a return. Like another illustrious General at Salamanca, she
directed a detachment to take possession of the height. Courtly Sir John
Loring ran up at once, and gave the diplomatist an opportunity to thank
her flatteringly for gaining them two minutes to themselves. Sir John
waved his handkerchief in triumph, welcoming them under an awning where
carpets and cushions were spread, and whence the Countess could eye the
field. She was dressed ravishingly; slightly in a foreign style, the
bodice being peaked at the waist, as was then the Portuguese persuasion.
The neck, too, was deliciously veiled with fine lace--and thoroughly
veiled, for it was a feature the Countess did not care to expose to the
vulgar daylight. Off her gentle shoulders, as it were some fringe of
cloud blown by the breeze this sweet lady opened her bosom to, curled a
lovely black lace scarf: not Caroline's. If she laughed, the tinge of
mourning lent her laughter new charms. If she sighed, the exuberant
array of her apparel bade the spectator be of good cheer. Was she witty,
men surrendered reason and adored her. Only when she entered the
majestic mood, and assumed the languors of greatness, and recited musky
anecdotes of her intimacy with it, only then did mankind, as represented
at Beckley Court, open an internal eye and reflect that it was wonderful
in a tailor's daughter. And she felt that mankind did so reflect. Her
instincts did not deceive her. She knew not how much was known; in the
depths of her heart she kept low the fear that possibly all might be
known; and succeeding in this, she said to herself that probably nothing
was known after all. George Uplift, Miss Carrington, and Rose, were the
three she abhorred. Partly to be out of their way, and to be out of the
way of chance shots (for she had heard names of people coming that
reminded her of Dubbins's, where, in past days, there had been on one
awful occasion a terrific discovery made), the Countess selected Olympus
for her station. It was her last day, and she determined to be happy.
Doubtless, she was making a retreat, but have not illustrious Generals
snatched victory from their pursuers? Fair, then, sweet, and full of
grace, the Countess moved. As the restless shifting of colours to her
motions was the constant interchange of her semisorrowful manner and
ready archness. Sir John almost capered to please her, and the
diplomatist in talking to her forgot his diplomacy and the craft of his
It was the last day also of Caroline and the Duke. The Countess clung to
Caroline and the Duke more than to Evan and Rose. She could see the
first couple walking under an avenue of limes, and near them that young
man or monkey, Raikes, as if in ambush. Twice they passed him, and twice
he doffed his hat and did homage.
'A most singular creature!' exclaimed the Countess. 'It is my constant
marvel where my brother discovered such a curiosity. Do notice him.'
'That man? Raikes?' said the diplomatist. 'Do you know he is our rival?
Harry wanted an excuse for another bottle last night, and proposed the
"Member" for Fallowfield. Up got this Mr. Raikes and returned thanks.'
'Yes?' the Countess negligently interjected in a way she had caught from
'Cogglesby's nominee, apparently.'
'I know it all,' said the Countess. 'We need have no apprehension. He
is docile. My brother-in-law's brother, you see, is most eccentric. We
can manage him best through this Mr. Raikes, for a personal application
would be ruin. He quite detests our family, and indeed all the
Melville's mouth pursed, and he looked very grave.
Sir John remarked: 'He seems like a monkey just turned into a man.'
'And doubtful about the tail,' added the Countess.
The image was tolerably correct, but other causes were at the bottom of
the air worn by John Raikes. The Countess had obtained an invitation for
him, with instructions that he should come early, and he had followed
them so implicitly that the curricle was flinging dust on the hedges
between Fallow field and Beckley but an hour or two after the chariot of
Apollo had mounted the heavens, and Mr. Raikes presented himself at the
breakfast table. Fortunately for him the Countess was there. After the
repast she introduced him to the Duke: and he bowed to the Duke, and the
Duke bowed to him: and now, to instance the peculiar justness in the mind
of Mr. Raikes, he, though he worshipped a coronet and would gladly have
recalled the feudal times to a corrupt land, could not help thinking that
his bow had beaten the Duke's and was better. He would rather not have
thought so, for it upset his preconceptions and threatened a revolution
in his ideas. For this reason he followed the Duke, and tried, if
possible, to correct, or at least chasten the impressions he had of
possessing a glaring advantage over the nobleman. The Duke's second
notice of him was hardly a nod. 'Well!' Mr. Raikes reflected, 'if this
is your Duke, why, egad! for figure and style my friend Harrington beats
him hollow.' And Raikes thought he knew who could conduct a conversation
with superior dignity and neatness. The torchlight of a delusion was
extinguished in him, but he did not wander long in that gloomy cavernous
darkness of the disenchanted, as many of us do, and as Evan had done,
when after a week at Beckley Court he began to examine of what stuff his
brilliant father, the great Mel, was composed. On the contrary, as the
light of the Duke dwindled, Raikes gained in lustre. 'In fact,' he said,
'there's nothing but the title wanting.' He was by this time on a level
with the Duke in his elastic mind.
Olympus had been held in possession by the Countess about half an hour,
when Lady Jocelyn mounted it, quite unconscious that she was scaling a
fortified point. The Countess herself fired off the first gun at her.
'It has been so extremely delightful up alone here, Lady Jocelyn: to look
at everybody below! I hope many will not intrude on us!'
'None but the dowagers who have breath to get up,' replied her ladyship,
panting. 'By the way, Countess, you hardly belong to us yet. You
'Indeed, I do not.'
'Oh, then you are in your right place. A dowager is a woman who doesn't
dance: and her male attendant is--what is he? We will call him a fogy.'
Lady Jocelyn directed a smile at Melville and Sir John, who both
protested that it was an honour to be the Countess's fogy.
Rose now joined them, with Laxley morally dragged in her wake.
'Another dowager and fogy!' cried the Countess, musically. 'Do you not
dance, my child?'
'Not till the music strikes up,' rejoined Rose. 'I suppose we shall have
to eat first.'
'That is the Hamlet of the pic-nic play, I believe,' said her mother.
'Of course you dance, don't you, Countess?' Rose inquired, for the sake
of amiable conversation.
The Countess's head signified: 'Oh, no! quite out of the question': she
held up a little bit of her mournful draperies, adding: 'Besides, you,
dear child, know your company, and can select; I do not, and cannot do
so. I understand we have a most varied assembly!'
Rose shut her eyes, and then looked at her mother. Lady Jocelyn's face
was undisturbed; but while her eyes were still upon the Countess, she
drew her head gently back, imperceptibly. If anything, she was admiring
the lady; but Rose could be no placid philosophic spectator of what was
to her a horrible assumption and hypocrisy. For the sake of him she
loved, she had swallowed a nauseous cup bravely. The Countess was too
much for her. She felt sick to think of being allied to this person.
She had a shuddering desire to run into the ranks of the world, and hide
her head from multitudinous hootings. With a pang of envy she saw her
friend Jenny walking by the side of William Harvey, happy, untried,
unoffending: full of hope, and without any bitter draughts to swallow!
Aunt Bel now came tripping up gaily.
'Take the alternative, 'douairiere or demoiselle'?' cried Lady Jocelyn.
'We must have a sharp distinction, or Olympus will be mobbed.'
'Entre les deux, s'il vous plait,' responded Aunt Bel. 'Rose, hurry
down, and leaven the mass. I see ten girls in a bunch. It's shocking.
Ferdinand, pray disperse yourself. Why is it, Emily, that we are always
in excess at pic-nics? Is man dying out?'
'From what I can see,' remarked Lady Jocelyn, 'Harry will be lost to his
species unless some one quickly relieves him. He's already half eaten up
by the Conley girls. Countess, isn't it your duty to rescue him?'
The Countess bowed, and murmured to Sir John:
'I fear my fascinations, Lady Jocelyn, may not compete with those fresh
'Ha! ha! "fresh young persons,"' laughed Sir John for the ladies in
question were romping boisterously with Mr. Harry.
The Countess inquired for the names and condition of the ladies, and was
told that they sprang from Farmer Conley, a well-to-do son of the soil,
who farmed about a couple of thousand acres between Fallow field and
Beckley, and bore a good reputation at the county bank.
'But I do think,' observed the Countess, 'it must indeed be pernicious
for any youth to associate with that class of woman. A deterioration of
Rose looked at her mother again. She thought 'Those girls would scorn to
marry a tradesman's son!'
The feeling grew in Rose that the Countess lowered and degraded her. Her
mother's calm contemplation of the lady was more distressing than if she
had expressed the contempt Rose was certain, according to her young
ideas, Lady Jocelyn must hold.
Now the Countess had been considering that she would like to have a word
or two with Mr. Harry, and kissing her fingers to the occupants of
Olympus, and fixing her fancy on the diverse thoughts of the ladies and
gentlemen, deduced from a rapturous or critical contemplation of her
figure from behind, she descended the slope.
Was it going to be a happy day? The well-imagined opinions of the
gentleman on her attire and style, made her lean to the affirmative; but
Rose's demure behaviour, and something--something would come across her
hopes. She had, as she now said to herself, stopped for the pic-nic,
mainly to give Caroline a last opportunity of binding the Duke to visit
the Cogglesby saloons in London. Let Caroline cleverly contrive this,
as she might, without any compromise, and the stay at Beckley Court would
be a great gain. Yes, Caroline was still with the Duke; they were
talking earnestly. The Countess breathed a short appeal to Providence
that Caroline might not prove a fool. Overnight she had said to
Caroline: 'Do not be so English. Can one not enjoy friendship with a
nobleman without wounding one's conscience or breaking with the world?
My dear, the Duke visiting you, you cow that infamous Strike of yours.
He will be utterly obsequious! I am not telling you to pass the line.
The contrary. But we continentals have our grievous reputation because
we dare to meet as intellectual beings, and defy the imputation that
ladies and gentlemen are no better than animals.'
It sounded very lofty to Caroline, who, accepting its sincerity, replied:
'I cannot do things by halves. I cannot live a life of deceit. A life
of misery--not deceit.'
Whereupon, pitying her poor English nature, the Countess gave her advice,
and this advice she now implored her familiars to instruct or compel
Caroline to follow.
The Countess's garment was plucked at. She beheld little Dorothy Loring
glancing up at her with the roguish timidity of her years.
'May I come with you?' asked the little maid, and went off into a
prattle: 'I spent that five shillings--I bought a shilling's worth of
sweet stuff, and nine penn'orth of twine, and a shilling for small wax
candles to light in my room when I'm going to bed, because I like plenty
of light by the looking-glass always, and they do make the room so hot!
My Jane declared she almost fainted, but I burnt them out! Then I only
had very little left for a horse to mount my doll on; and I wasn't going
to get a screw, so I went to Papa, and he gave me five shillings. And,
oh, do you know, Rose can't bear me to be with you. Jealousy, I suppose,
for you're very agreeable. And, do you know, your Mama is coming to-day?
I've got a Papa and no Mama, and you've got a Mama and no Papa. Isn't it
funny? But I don't think so much of it, as you 're grown up. Oh, I'm
quite sure she is coming, because I heard Harry telling Juley she was,
and Juley said it would be so gratifying to you.'
A bribe and a message relieved the Countess of Dorothy's attendance on
What did this mean? Were people so base as to be guilty of hideous plots
in this house? Her mother coming! The Countess's blood turned deadly
chill. Had it been her father she would not have feared, but her mother
was so vilely plain of speech; she never opened her mouth save to deliver
facts: which was to the Countess the sign of atrocious vulgarity.
But her mother had written to say she would wait for Evan in Fallow
field! The Countess grasped at straws. Did Dorothy hear that? And if
Harry and Juliana spoke of her mother, what did that mean? That she was
hunted, and must stand at bay!
'Oh, Papa! Papa! why did you marry a Dawley?' she exclaimed, plunging to
what was, in her idea, the root of the evil.
She had no time for outcries and lamentations. It dawned on her that
this was to be a day of battle. Where was Harry? Still in the midst of
the Conley throng, apparently pooh-poohing something, to judge by the
twist of his mouth.
The Countess delicately signed for him to approach her. The extreme
delicacy of the signal was at least an excuse for Harry to perceive
nothing. It was renewed, and Harry burst into a fit of laughter at some
fun of one of the Conley girls. The Countess passed on, and met Juliana
pacing by herself near the lower gates of the park. She wished only to
see how Juliana behaved. The girl looked perfectly trustful, as much so
as when the Countess was pouring in her ears the tales of Evan's growing
but bashful affection for her.
'He will soon be here,' whispered the Countess. 'Has he told you he will
come by this entrance?'
'No,' replied Juliana.
'You do not look well, sweet child.'
'I was thinking that you did not, Countess?'
'Oh, indeed, yes! With reason, alas! All our visitors have by this time
arrived, I presume?'
'They come all day.'
The Countess hastened away from one who, when roused, could be almost as
clever as herself, and again stood in meditation near the joyful Harry.
This time she did not signal so discreetly. Harry could not but see it,
and the Conley girls accused him of cruelty to the beautiful dame, which
novel idea stung Harry with delight, and he held out to indulge in it a
little longer. His back was half turned, and as he talked noisily, he
could not observe the serene and resolute march of the Countess toward
him. The youth gaped when he found his arm taken prisoner by the
insertion of a small deliciously-gloved and perfumed hand through it.
'I must claim you for a few moments,' said the Countess, and took the
startled Conley girls one and all in her beautiful smile of excuse.
'Why do you compromise me thus, sir?'
These astounding words were spoken out of the hearing of the Conley
'Compromise you!' muttered Harry.
Masterly was the skill with which the Countess contrived to speak angrily
and as an injured woman, while she wore an indifferent social
'I repeat, compromise me. No, Mr. Harry Jocelyn, you are not the
jackanapes you try to make people think you: you understand me.'
The Countess might accuse him, but Harry never had the ambition to make
people think him that: his natural tendency was the reverse: and he
objected to the application of the word jackanapes to himself, and was
ready to contest the fact of people having that opinion at all. However,
all he did was to repeat: 'Compromise!'
'Is not open unkindness to me compromising me?'
'How?' asked Harry.
'Would you dare to do it to a strange lady? Would you have the impudence
to attempt it with any woman here but me? No, I am innocent; it is my
consolation; I have resisted you, but you by this cowardly behaviour
place me--and my reputation, which is more--at your mercy. Noble
behaviour, Mr. Harry Jocelyn! I shall remember my young English
The view was totally new to Harry.
'I really had no idea of compromising you,' he said. 'Upon my honour, I
can't see how I did it now!'
'Oblige me by walking less in the neighbourhood of those fat-faced
glaring farm-girls,' the Countess spoke under her breath; 'and don't look
as if you were being whipped. The art of it is evident--you are but
carrying on the game.--Listen. If you permit yourself to exhibit an
unkindness to me, you show to any man who is a judge, and to every woman,
that there has been something between us. You know my innocence--yes!
but you must punish me for having resisted you thus long.'
Harry swore he never had such an idea, and was much too much of a man and
a gentleman to behave in that way.--And yet it seemed wonderfully clever!
And here was the Countess saying:
'Take your reward, Mr. Harry Jocelyn. You have succeeded; I am your
humble slave. I come to you and sue for peace. To save my reputation I
endanger myself. This is generous of you.'
'Am I such a clever fellow?' thought the young gentleman. 'Deuced lucky
with women': he knew that: still a fellow must be wonderfully,
miraculously, clever to be able to twist and spin about such a woman as
this in that way. He did not object to conceive that he was the fellow
to do it. Besides, here was the Countess de Saldar-worth five hundred of
the Conley girls--almost at his feet!
Mollified, he said: 'Now, didn't you begin it?'
'Evasion!' was the answer. 'It would be such pleasure to you so see a
proud woman weep! And if yesterday, persecuted as I am, with dreadful
falsehoods abroad respecting me and mine, if yesterday I did seem cold to
your great merits, is it generous of you to take this revenge?'
Harry began to scent the double meaning in her words. She gave him no
time to grow cool over it. She leaned, half abandoned, on his arm. Arts
feminine and irresistible encompassed him. It was a fatal mistake of
Juliana's to enlist Harry Jocelyn against the Countess de Saldar. He
engaged, still without any direct allusion to the real business, to move
heaven and earth to undo all that he had done, and the Countess implied
an engagement to do--what? more than she intended to fulfil.
Ten minutes later she was alone with Caroline.
'Tie yourself to the Duke at the dinner,' she said, in the forcible
phrase she could use when necessary. 'Don't let them scheme to separate
you. Never mind looks--do it!'
Caroline, however, had her reasons for desiring to maintain appearances.
The Countess dashed at her hesitation.
'There is a plot to humiliate us in the most abominable way. The whole
family have sworn to make us blush publicly. Publicly blush! They have
written to Mama to come and speak out. Now will you attend to me,
Caroline? You do not credit such atrocity? I know it to be true.'
'I never can believe that Rose would do such a thing,' said Caroline.'
We can hardly have to endure more than has befallen us already.'
Her speech was pensive, as of one who had matter of her own to ponder
over. A swift illumination burst in the Countess's mind.
'No? Have you, dear, darling Carry? not that I intend that you should!
but to-day the Duke would be such ineffable support to us. May I deem
you have not been too cruel to-day? You dear silly English creature,
"Duck," I used to call you when I was your little Louy. All is not yet
lost, but I will save you from the ignominy if I can. I will!'
Caroline denied nothing--confirmed nothing, just as the Countess had
stated nothing. Yet they understood one another perfectly. Women have a
subtler language than ours: the veil pertains to them morally as bodily,
and they see clearer through it.
The Countess had no time to lose. Wrath was in her heart. She did not
lend all her thoughts to self-defence.
Without phrasing a word, or absolutely shaping a thought in her head, she
slanted across the sun to Mr. Raikes, who had taken refreshment, and in
obedience to his instinct, notwithstanding his enormous pretensions, had
commenced a few preliminary antics.
'Dear Mr. Raikes!' she said, drawing him aside, 'not before dinner!'
'I really can't contain the exuberant flow!' returned that gentleman.
'My animal spirits always get the better of me,' he added confidentially.
'Suppose you devote your animal spirits to my service for half an hour.'
'Yours, Countess, from the 'os frontis' to the chine!' was the exuberant
The Countess made a wry mouth.
'Your curricle is in Beckley?'
'Behold!' said Jack. 'Two juveniles, not half so blest as I, do from the
seat regard the festive scene o'er yon park palings. They are there,
even Franko and Fred. I 'm afraid I promised to get them in at a later
period of the day. Which sadly sore my conscience doth disturb! But
what is to be done about the curricle, my Countess?'
'Mr. Raikes,' said the Countess, smiling on him fixedly, 'you are
amusing; but in addressing me, you must be precise, and above all things
accurate. I am not your Countess!'
He bowed profoundly. 'Oh, that I might say my Queen!'
The Countess replied: 'A conviction of your lunacy would prevent my
taking offence, though I might wish you enclosed and guarded.'
Without any further exclamations, Raikes acknowledged a superior.
'And, now, attend to me,' said the Countess. 'Listen:
You go yourself, or send your friends instantly to Fallow field. Bring
with you that girl and her child. Stop: there is such a person. Tell
her she is to be spoken to about the prospects of the poor infant. I
leave that to your inventive genius. Evan wishes her here. Bring her,
and should you see the mad captain who behaves so oddly, favour him with
a ride. He says he dreams his wife is here, and he will not reveal his
name! Suppose it should be my own beloved husband! I am quite anxious.'
The Countess saw him go up to the palings and hold a communication with
his friends Franko and Fred. One took the whip, and after mutual
flourishes, drove away.
'Now!' mused the Countess, 'if Captain Evremonde should come!' It would
break up the pic-nic. Alas! the Countess had surrendered her humble
hopes of a day's pleasure. But if her mother came as well, what a
diversion that would be! If her mother came before the Captain, his
arrival would cover the retreat; if the Captain preceded her, she would
not be noticed. Suppose her mother refrained from coming? In that case
it was a pity, but the Jocelyns had brought it on themselves.
This mapping out of consequences followed the Countess's deeds, and did
not inspire them. Her passions sharpened her instincts, which produced
her actions. The reflections ensued: as in nature, the consequences were
all seen subsequently! Observe the difference between your male and
On reflection, too, the Countess praised herself for having done all that
could be done. She might have written to her mother: but her absence
would have been remarked: her messenger might have been overhauled and,
lastly, Mrs. Mel--'Gorgon of a mother!' the Countess cried out: for Mrs.
Mel was like a Fate to her. She could remember only two occasions in her
whole life when she had been able to manage her mother, and then by lying
in such a way as to distress her conscience severely.
'If Mama has conceived this idea of coming, nothing will impede her. My
prayers will infuriate her!' said the Countess, and she was sure that she
had acted both rightly and with wisdom.
She put on her armour of smiles: she plunged into the thick of the enemy.
Since they would not allow her to taste human happiness--she had asked
but for the pic-nic! a small truce! since they denied her that, rather
than let them triumph by seeing her wretched, she took into her bosom the
joy of demons. She lured Mr. George Uplift away from Miss Carrington,
and spoke to him strange hints of matrimonial disappointments, looking
from time to time at that apprehensive lady, doating on her terrors.
And Mr. George seconded her by his clouded face, for he was ashamed not
to show that he did not know Louisa Harrington in the Countess de Saldar,
and had not the courage to declare that he did. The Countess spoke
familiarly, but without any hint of an ancient acquaintance between them.
'What a post her husband's got!' thought Mr. George, not envying the
Count. He was wrong: she was an admirable ally. All over the field the
Countess went, watching for her mother, praying that if she did come,
Providence might prevent her from coming while they were at dinner. How
clearly Mrs. Shorne and Mrs. Melville saw her vulgarity now! By the new
light of knowledge, how certain they were that they had seen her ungentle
training in a dozen little instances.
'She is not well-bred, 'cela se voit',' said Lady Jocelyn.
'Bred! it's the stage! How could such a person be bred?' said Mrs.
Accept in the Countess the heroine who is combating class-prejudices, and
surely she is pre-eminently noteworthy. True, she fights only for her
family, and is virtually the champion of the opposing institution
misplaced. That does not matter: the Fates may have done it purposely:
by conquering she establishes a principle. A Duke adores her sister, the
daughter of the house her brother, and for herself she has many
protestations in honour of her charms: nor are they empty ones. She can
confound Mrs. Melville, if she pleases to, by exposing an adorer to lose
a friend. Issuing out of Tailordom, she, a Countess, has done all this;
and it were enough to make her glow, did not little evils, and angers,
and spites, and alarms so frightfully beset her.
The sun of the pic-nic system is dinner. Hence philosophers may deduce
that the pic-nic is a British invention. There is no doubt that we do
not shine at the pic-nic until we reflect the face of dinner. To this,
then, all who were not lovers began seriously to look forward, and the
advance of an excellent county band, specially hired to play during the
entertainment, gave many of the guests quite a new taste for sweet music;
and indeed we all enjoy a thing infinitely more when we see its meaning.
About this time Evan entered the lower park-gates with Andrew. The first
object he encountered was John Raikes in a state of great depression. He
explained his case:
'Just look at my frill! Now, upon my honour, you know, I'm good-
tempered; I pass their bucolic habits, but this is beyond bearing. I was
near the palings there, and a fellow calls out, "Hi! will you help the
lady over?" Holloa! thinks I, an adventure! However, I advised him to
take her round to the gates. The beast burst out laughing. "Now, then,"
says he, and I heard a scrambling at the pales, and up came the head of a
dog. "Oh! the dog first," says I. "Catch by the ears," says he. I did
so. "Pull," says he. "'Gad, pull indeed!", The beast gave a spring and
came slap on my chest, with his dirty wet muzzle on my neck! I felt
instantly it was the death of my frill, but gallant as you know me, I
still asked for the lady. "If you will please, or an it meet your
favour, to extend your hand to me!" I confess I did think it rather odd,
the idea of a lady coming in that way over the palings! but my curst
love of adventure always blinds me. It always misleads my better sense,
Harrington. Well, instead of a lady, I see a fellow--he may have been a
lineal descendant of Cedric the Saxon. "Where's the lady?" says I.
"Lady?" says he, and stares, and then laughs: "Lady! why," he jumps
over, and points at his beast of a dog, "don't you know a bitch when you
see one?" I was in the most ferocious rage! If he hadn't been a big
burly bully, down he'd have gone. "Why didn't you say what it was?" I
roared. "Why," says he, "the word isn't considered polite!" I gave him
a cut there. I said, "I rejoice to be positively assured that you uphold
the laws and forms of civilization, sir." My belief is he didn't feel
'The thrust sinned in its shrewdness,' remarked Evan, ending a laugh.
'Hem!' went Mr. Raikes, more contentedly: 'after all, what are
appearances to the man of wit and intellect? Dress, and women will
approve you: but I assure you they much prefer the man of wit in his
slouched hat and stockings down. I was introduced to the Duke this
morning. It is a curious thing that the seduction of a Duchess has
always been one of my dreams.'
At this Andrew Cogglesby fell into a fit of laughter.
'Your servant,' said Mr. Raikes, turning to him. And then he muttered
'Extraordinary likeness! Good Heavens! Powers!'
From a state of depression, Mr. Raikes--changed into one of bewilderment.
Evan paid no attention to him, and answered none of his hasty undertoned
questions. Just then, as they were on the skirts of the company, the
band struck up a lively tune, and quite unconsciously, the legs of
Raikes, affected, it may be, by supernatural reminiscences, loosely
hornpiped. It was but a moment: he remembered himself the next: but in
that fatal moment eyes were on him. He never recovered his dignity in
Beckley Court: he was fatally mercurial.
'What is the joke against this poor fellow?' asked Evan of Andrew.
'Never mind, Van. You'll roar. Old Tom again. We 'll see by-and-by,
after the champagne. He--this young Raikes-ha! ha!--but I can't tell
you.' And Andrew went away to Drummond, to whom he was more
communicative. Then he went to Melville, and one or two others, and the
eyes of many became concentrated on Raikes, and it was observed as a
singular sign that he was constantly facing about, and flushing the
fiercest red. Once he made an effort to get hold of Evan's arm and drag
him away, as one who had an urgent confession to be delivered of,
but Evan was talking to Lady Jocelyn, and other ladies, and quietly
disengaged his arm without even turning to notice the face of his friend.
Then the dinner was announced, and men saw the dinner. The Countess went
to shake her brother's hand, and with a very gratulatory visage, said
through her half-shut teeth.
'If Mama appears, rise up and go away with her, before she has time to
speak a word.' An instant after Evan found himself seated between Mrs.
Evremonde and one of the Conley girls. The dinner had commenced. The
first half of the Battle of the Bull-dogs was as peaceful as any ordinary
pic-nic, and promised to the general company as calm a conclusion.
THE BATTLE OF THE BULL-DOGS. PART II.
If it be a distinct point of wisdom to hug the hour that is, then does
dinner amount to a highly intellectual invitation to man, for it
furnishes the occasion; and Britons are the wisest of their race, for
more than all others they take advantage of it. In this Nature is
undoubtedly our guide, seeing that he who, while feasting his body allows
to his soul a thought for the morrow, is in his digestion curst, and
becomes a house of evil humours. Now, though the epicure may complain of
the cold meats, a dazzling table, a buzzing company, blue sky, and a band
of music, are incentives to the forgetfulness of troubles past and
imminent, and produce a concentration of the faculties. They may not
exactly prove that peace is established between yourself and those who
object to your carving of the world, but they testify to an armistice.
Aided by these observations, you will understand how it was that the
Countess de Saldar, afflicted and menaced, was inspired, on taking her
seat, to give so graceful and stately a sweep to her dress that she was
enabled to conceive woman and man alike to be secretly overcome by it.
You will not refuse to credit the fact that Mr. Raikes threw care to the
dogs, heavy as was that mysterious lump suddenly precipitated on his
bosom; and you will think it not impossible that even the springers of
the mine about to explode should lose their subterranean countenances.
A generous abandonment to one idea prevailed. As for Evan, the first
glass of champagne rushed into reckless nuptials with the music in his
head, bringing Rose, warm almost as life, on his heart. Sublime are the
visions of lovers! He knew he must leave her on the morrow; he feared he
might never behold her again; and yet he tasted bliss, for it seemed
within the contemplation of the Gods that he should dance with his
darling before dark-haply waltz with her! Oh, heaven! he shuts his
eyes, blinded. The band wheels off meltingly in a tune all cadences, and
twirls, and risings and sinkings, and passionate outbursts trippingly
consoled. Ah! how sweet to waltz through life with the right partner.
And what a singular thing it is to look back on the day when we thought
something like it! Never mind: there may be spheres where it is so
managed--doubtless the planets have their Hanwell and Bedlam.
I confess that the hand here writing is not insensible to the effects of
that first glass of champagne. The poetry of our Countess's achievements
waxes rich in manifold colours: I see her by the light of her own pleas
to Providence. I doubt almost if the hand be mine which dared to make a
hero play second fiddle, and to his beloved. I have placed a bushel over
his light, certainly. Poor boy! it was enough that he should have
tailordom on his shoulders: I ought to have allowed him to conquer
Nature, and so come out of his eclipse. This shall be said of him:
that he can play second fiddle without looking foolish, which, for my
part, I call a greater triumph than if he were performing the heroics we
are more accustomed to. He has steady eyes, can gaze at the right level
into the eyes of others, and commands a tongue which is neither struck
dumb nor set in a flutter by any startling question. The best instances
to be given that he does not lack merit are that the Jocelyns, whom he
has offended by his birth, cannot change their treatment of him, and that
the hostile women, whatever they may say, do not think Rose utterly
insane. At any rate, Rose is satisfied, and her self-love makes her a
keen critic. The moment Evan appeared, the sickness produced in her by
the Countess passed, and she was ready to brave her situation. With no
mock humility she permitted Mrs. Shorne to place her in a seat where
glances could not be interchanged. She was quite composed, calmly
prepared for conversation with any one. Indeed, her behaviour since the
hour of general explanation had been so perfectly well-contained, that
Mrs. Melville said to Lady Jocelyn:
'I am only thinking of the damage to her. It will pass over--this fancy.
You can see she is not serious. It is mere spirit of opposition. She
eats and drinks just like other girls. You can see that the fancy has
not taken such very strong hold of her.'
'I can't agree with you,' replied her ladyship. 'I would rather have her
sit and sigh by the hour, and loathe roast beef. That would look nearer
'She has the notions of a silly country girl,' said Mrs. Shorne.
'Exactly,' Lady Jocelyn replied. 'A season in London will give her
So the guests were tolerably happy, or at least, with scarce an
exception, open to the influences of champagne and music. Perhaps
Juliana was the wretchedest creature present. She was about to smite on
both cheeks him she loved, as well as the woman she despised and had been
foiled by. Still she had the consolation that Rose, seeing the vulgar
mother, might turn from Evan: a poor distant hope, meagre and shapeless
like herself. Her most anxious thoughts concerned the means of getting
money to lockup Harry's tongue. She could bear to meet the Countess's
wrath, but not Evan's offended look. Hark to that Countess!
'Why do you denominate this a pic-nic, Lady Jocelyn? It is in verity a
'I suppose we ought to lie down 'A la Grecque' to come within the term,'
was the reply. 'On the whole, I prefer plain English for such matters.'
'But this is assuredly too sumptuous for a pic-nic, Lady Jocelyn. From
what I can remember, pic-nic implies contribution from all the guests.
It is true I left England a child!'
Mr. George Uplift could not withhold a sharp grimace: The Countess had
throttled the inward monitor that tells us when we are lying, so
grievously had she practised the habit in the service of her family.
'Yes,' said Mrs. Melville, 'I have heard of that fashion, and very stupid
'Extremely vulgar,' murmured Miss Carrington.
'Possibly,' Lady Jocelyn observed; 'but good fun. I have been to pic-
nics, in my day. I invariably took cold pie and claret. I clashed with
half-a-dozen, but all the harm we did was to upset the dictum that there
can be too much of a good thing. I know for certain that the bottles
were left empty.'
'And this woman,' thought the Countess, 'this woman, with a soul so
essentially vulgar, claims rank above me!' The reflection generated
contempt of English society, in the first place, and then a passionate
desire for self-assertion.
She was startled by a direct attack which aroused her momentarily lulled
A lady, quite a stranger, a dry simpering lady, caught the Countess's
benevolent passing gaze, and leaning forward, said: 'I hope her ladyship
bears her affliction as well as can be expected?'
In military parlance, the Countess was taken in flank. Another would
have asked--What ladyship? To whom do you allude, may I beg to inquire?
The Countess knew better. Rapid as light it shot through her that the
relict of Sir Abraham was meant, and this she divined because she was
aware that devilish malignity was watching to trip her.
A little conversation happening to buzz at the instant, the Countess
merely turned her chin to an angle, agitated her brows very gently, and
crowned the performance with a mournful smile. All that a woman must
feel at the demise of so precious a thing as a husband, was therein
eloquently expressed: and at the same time, if explanations ensued, there
were numerous ladyships in the world, whom the Countess did not mind
afflicting, should she be hard pressed.
'I knew him so well!' resumed the horrid woman, addressing anybody.
'It was so sad! so unexpected! but he was so subject to affection of
the throat. And I was so sorry I could not get down to him in time. I
had not seen him since his marriage, when I was a girl!--and to meet one
of his children!--But, my dear, in quinsey, I have heard that there is
nothing on earth like a good hearty laugh.'
Mr. Raikes hearing this, sucked down the flavour of a glass of champagne,
and with a look of fierce jollity, interposed, as if specially charged by
Providence to make plain to the persecuted Countess his mission and
business there: 'Then our vocation is at last revealed to us! Quinsey-
doctor! I remember when a boy, wandering over the paternal mansion, and
envying the life of a tinker, which my mother did not think a good omen
in me. But the traps of a Quinsey-doctor are even lighter. Say twenty
good jokes, and two or three of a practical kind. A man most enviable!'
'It appears,' he remarked aloud to one of the Conley girls, 'that quinsey
is needed before a joke is properly appreciated.'
'I like fun,' said she, but had not apparently discovered it.
What did that odious woman mean by perpetually talking about Sir Abraham?
The Countess intercepted a glance between her and the hated Juliana. She
felt it was a malignant conspiracy: still the vacuous vulgar air of the
woman told her that most probably she was but an instrument, not a
confederate, and was only trying to push herself into acquaintance with
the great: a proceeding scorned and abominated by the Countess, who
longed to punish her for her insolent presumption. The bitterness of her
situation stung her tenfold when she considered that she dared not.
Meantime the champagne became as regular in its flow as the Bull-dogs,
and the monotonous bass of these latter sounded through the music, like
life behind the murmur of pleasure, if you will. The Countess had a not
unfeminine weakness for champagne, and old Mr. Bonner's cellar was well
and choicely stocked. But was this enjoyment to the Countess?--this
dreary station in the background! 'May I emerge?' she as much as
The petition was infinitely tender. She thought she might, or it may be
that nature was strong, and she could not restrain herself.
Taking wine with Sir John, she said:
'This bowing! Do you know how amusing it is deemed by us Portuguese?
Why not embrace? as the dear Queen used to say to me.'
'I am decidedly of Her Majesty's opinion,' observed Sir John, with
emphasis, and the Countess drew back into a mingled laugh and blush.
Her fiendish persecutor gave two or three nods. 'And you know the
Queen!' she said.
She had to repeat the remark: whereupon the Countess murmured,
'Ah, we have lost a staunch old Tory in Sir Abraham,' said the lady,
What did it mean? Could design lodge in that empty-looking head with its
crisp curls, button nose, and diminishing simper? Was this pic-nic to be
made as terrible to the Countess by her putative father as the dinner had
been by the great Mel? The deep, hard, level look of Juliana met the
Countess's smile from time to time, and like flimsy light horse before a
solid array of infantry, the Countess fell back, only to be worried
afresh by her perfectly unwitting tormentor.
'His last days?--without pain? Oh, I hope so!' came after a lapse of
'Aren't we getting a little funereal, Mrs. Perkins?' Lady Jocelyn asked,
and then rallied her neighbours.
Miss Carrington looked at her vexedly, for the fiendish Perkins was
checked, and the Countess in alarm, about to commit herself, was a
pleasant sight to Miss Carrington.
'The worst of these indiscriminate meetings is that there is no
conversation,' whispered the Countess, thanking Providence for the
Just then she saw Juliana bend her brows at another person. This was
George Uplift, who shook his head, and indicated a shrewd-eyed, thin,
middle-aged man, of a lawyer-like cast; and then Juliana nodded, and
George Uplift touched his arm, and glanced hurriedly behind for
champagne. The Countess's eyes dwelt on the timid young squire most
affectionately. You never saw a fortress more unprepared for dread
'Hem!' was heard, terrific. But the proper pause had evidently not yet
come, and now to prevent it the Countess strained her energies and tasked
her genius intensely. Have you an idea of the difficulty of keeping up
the ball among a host of ill-assorted, stupid country people, who have no
open topics, and can talk of nothing continuously but scandal of their
neighbours, and who, moreover, feel they are not up to the people they
are mixing with? Darting upon Seymour Jocelyn, the Countess asked
touchingly for news of the partridges. It was like the unlocking of a
machine. Seymour was not blythe in his reply, but he was loud and
forcible; and when he came to the statistics--oh, then you would have
admired the Countess!--for comparisons ensued, braces were enumerated,
numbers given were contested, and the shooting of this one jeered at, and
another's sure mark respectfully admitted. And how lay the coveys? And
what about the damage done by last winter's floods? And was there good
hope of the pheasants? Outside this latter the Countess hovered. Twice
the awful 'Hem!' was heard. She fought on. She kept them at it. If it
flagged she wished to know this or that, and finally thought that,
really, she should like herself to try one shot. The women had
previously been left behind. This brought in the women. Lady Jocelyn
proposed a female expedition for the morrow.
'I believe I used to be something of a shot, formerly,' she said.
'You peppered old Tom once, my lady,' remarked Andrew, and her ladyship
laughed, and that foolish Andrew told the story, and the Countess, to
revive her subject, had to say: 'May I be enrolled to shoot?' though she
detested and shrank from fire-arms.
'Here are two!' said the hearty presiding dame. 'Ladies, apply
immediately to have your names put down.'
The possibility of an expedition of ladies now struck Seymour vividly,
and said he: 'I 'll be secretary'; and began applying to the ladies for
permission to put down their names. Many declined, with brevity,
muttering, either aloud or to themselves, 'unwomanly'; varied by
'unladylike': some confessed cowardice; some a horror of the noise close
to their ears; and there was the plea of nerves. But the names of half-
a-dozen ladies were collected, and then followed much laughter, and
musical hubbub, and delicate banter. So the ladies and gentlemen fell
one and all into the partridge pit dug for them by the Countess: and that
horrible 'Hem!' equal in force and terror to the roar of artillery
preceding the charge of ten thousand dragoons, was silenced--the pit
appeared impassable. Did the Countess crow over her advantage? Mark
her: the lady's face is entirely given up to partridges. 'English sports
are so much envied abroad,' she says: but what she dreads is a
reflection, for that leads off from the point. A portion of her mind she
keeps to combat them in Lady Jocelyn and others who have the tendency:
the rest she divides between internal-prayers for succour, and casting
about for another popular subject to follow partridges. Now, mere
talent, as critics say when they are lighting candles round a genius,
mere talent would have hit upon pheasants as the natural sequitur, and
then diverged to sports--a great theme, for it ensures a chorus of sneers
at foreigners, and so on probably to a discussion of birds and beasts
best adapted to enrapture the palate of man. Stories may succeed, but
they are doubtful, and not to be trusted, coming after cookery. After an
exciting subject which has made the general tongue to wag, and just
enough heated the brain to cause it to cry out for spiced food--then
start your story: taking care that it be mild; for one too marvellous
stops the tide, the sense of climax being strongly implanted in all
bosoms. So the Countess told an anecdote--one of Mel's. Mr. George
Uplift was quite familiar with it, and knew of one passage that would
have abashed him to relate 'before ladies.' The sylph-like ease with
which the Countess floated over this foul abysm was miraculous. Mr.
George screwed his eye-lids queerly, and closed his jaws with a report,
completely beaten. The anecdote was of the character of an apologue, and
pertained to game. This was, as it happened, a misfortune; for Mr.
Raikes had felt himself left behind by the subject; and the stuff that
was in this young man being naturally ebullient, he lay by to trip it,
and take a lead. His remarks brought on him a shrewd cut from the
Countess, which made matters worse; for a pun may also breed puns, as
doth an anecdote. The Countess's stroke was so neat and perfect that it
was something for the gentlemen to think over; and to punish her for
giving way to her cleverness and to petty vexation, 'Hem!' sounded once
more, and then: 'May I ask you if the present Baronet is in England?'
Now Lady Jocelyn perceived that some attack was directed against her
guest. She allowed the Countess to answer:
'The eldest was drowned in the Lisbon waters'
And then said: 'But who is it that persists in serving up the funeral
baked meats to us?'
Mrs. Shorne spoke for her neighbour: 'Mr. Farnley's cousin was the
steward of Sir Abraham Harrington's estates.'
The Countess held up her head boldly. There is a courageous exaltation
of the nerves known to heroes and great generals in action when they feel
sure that resources within themselves will spring up to the emergency,
and that over simple mortals success is positive.
'I had a great respect for Sir Abraham,' Mr. Farnley explained, 'very
great. I heard that this lady' (bowing to the Countess) 'was his
Lady Jocelyn's face wore an angry look, and Mrs. Shorne gave her the
shade of a shrug and an expression implying, 'I didn't!'
Evan was talking to Miss Jenny Graine at the moment rather earnestly.
With a rapid glance at him, to see that his ears were closed, the
'Not the elder branch!--Cadet!'
The sort of noisy silence produced by half-a-dozen people respirating
deeply and moving in their seats was heard. The Countess watched Mr.
Farnley's mystified look, and whispered to Sir John: 'Est-ce qu'il
comprenne le Francais, lui?'
It was the final feather-like touch to her triumph. She saw safety and a
clear escape, and much joyful gain, and the pleasure of relating her
sufferings in days to come. This vista was before her when, harsh as an
execution bell, telling her that she had vanquished man, but that
Providence opposed her, 'Mrs. Melchisedec Harrington!' was announced to
Perfect stillness reigned immediately, as if the pic-nic had heard its
'Oh! I will go to her,' said her ladyship, whose first thought was to
spare the family. 'Andrew, come and give me your arm.'
But when she rose Mrs. Mel was no more than the length of an arm from her
In the midst of the horrible anguish she was enduring, the Countess could
not help criticizing her mother's curtsey to Lady Jocelyn. Fine, but a
shade too humble. Still it was fine; all might not yet be lost.
'Mama!' she softly exclaimed, and thanked heaven that she had not denied
Mrs. Mel did not notice her or any of her children. There was in her
bosom a terrible determination to cast a devil out of the one she best
loved. For this purpose, heedless of all pain to be given, or of
impropriety, she had come to speak publicly, and disgrace and humiliate,
that she might save him from the devils that had ruined his father.
'My lady,' said the terrible woman, thanking her in reply to an
invitation that she should be seated, 'I have come for my son. I hear he
has been playing the lord in your house, my lady. I humbly thank your
ladyship for your kindness to him, but he is nothing more than a tailor's
son, and is bound a tailor himself that his father may be called an
honest man. I am come to take him away.'
Mrs. Mel seemed to speak without much effort, though the pale flush of
her cheeks showed that she felt what she was doing. Juliana was pale as
death, watching Rose. Intensely bright with the gem-like light of her
gallant spirit, Rose's eyes fixed on Evan. He met them. The words of
Ruth passed through his heart. But the Countess, who had given Rose to
Evan, and the Duke to Caroline, where was her supporter? The Duke was
entertaining Caroline with no less dexterity, and Rose's eyes said to
Evan: 'Feel no shame that I do not feel!' but the Countess stood alone.
It is ever thus with genius! to quote the numerous illustrious authors
who have written of it.
What mattered it now that in the dead hush Lady Jocelyn should assure her
mother that she had been misinformed, and that Mrs. Mel was presently
quieted, and made to sit with others before the fruits and wines? All
eyes were hateful--the very thought of Providence confused her brain.
Almost reduced to imbecility, the Countess imagined, as a reality, that
Sir Abraham had borne with her till her public announcement of
relationship, and that then the outraged ghost would no longer be
restrained, and had struck this blow.
The crushed pic-nic tried to get a little air, and made attempts at
conversation. Mrs. Mel sat upon the company with the weight of all
And now a messenger came for Harry. Everybody was so zealously employed
in the struggle to appear comfortable under Mrs. Mel, that his departure
was hardly observed. The general feeling for Evan and his sisters, by
their superiors in rank, was one of kindly pity. Laxley, however, did
not behave well. He put up his glass and scrutinized Mrs. Mel, and then
examined Evan, and Rose thought that in his interchange of glances with
any one there was a lurking revival of the scene gone by. She signalled
with her eyebrows for Drummond to correct him, but Drummond had another
occupation. Andrew made the diversion. He whispered to his neighbour,
and the whisper went round, and the laugh; and Mr. Raikes grew extremely
uneasy in his seat, and betrayed an extraordinary alarm. But he also was
soon relieved. A messenger had come from Harry to Mrs. Evremonde,
bearing a slip of paper. This the lady glanced at, and handed it to
Drummond. A straggling pencil had traced these words:
'Just running by S.W. gates--saw the Captain coming in--couldn't stop to
stop him--tremendous hurry--important. Harry J.'
Drummond sent the paper to Lady Jocelyn. After her perusal of it a scout
was despatched to the summit of Olympus, and his report proclaimed the
advance in the direction of the Bull-dogs of a smart little figure of a
man in white hat and white trousers, who kept flicking his legs with a
Mrs. Evremonde rose and conferred with her ladyship an instant, and then
Drummond took her arm quietly, and passed round Olympus to the East, and
Lady Jocelyn broke up the sitting.
Juliana saw Rose go up to Evan, and make him introduce her to his mother.
She turned lividly white, and went to a corner of the park by herself,
and cried bitterly.
Lady Jocelyn, Sir Franks, and Sir John, remained by the tables, but
before the guests were out of ear-shot, the individual signalled from
Olympus presented himself.
'There are times when one can't see what else to do but to lie,' said her
ladyship to Sir Franks, 'and when we do lie the only way is to lie
Turning from her perplexed husband, she exclaimed:
Captain Evremonde lifted his hat, declining an intimacy.
'Where is my wife, madam?'
'Have you just come from the Arctic Regions?'
'I have come for my wife, madam!'
His unsettled grey eyes wandered restlessly on Lady Jocelyn's face. The
Countess standing near the Duke, felt some pity for the wife of that
cropped-headed, tight-skinned lunatic at large, but deeper was the
Countess's pity for Lady Jocelyn, in thinking of the account she would
have to render on the Day of Judgement, when she heard her ladyship reply
'Evelyn is not here.'
Captain Evremonde bowed profoundly, trailing his broad white hat along
'Do me the favour to read this, madam,' he said, and handed a letter to
Lady Jocelyn raised her brows as she gathered the contents of the letter.
'Ferdinand's handwriting!' she exclaimed.
'I accuse no one, madam,--I make no accusation. I have every respect for
you, madam,--you have my esteem. I am sorry to intrude, madam, an
intrusion is regretted. My wife runs away from her bed, madam, and I
have the law, madam, the law is with the husband. No force!' He lashed
his cane sharply against his white legs. 'The law, madam. No brute
force!' His cane made a furious whirl, cracking again on his legs, as he
reiterated, 'The law!'
'Does the law advise you to strike at a tangent all over the country in
search for her?' inquired Lady Jocelyn.
Captain Evremonde became ten times more voluble and excited.
Mrs. Mel was heard by the Countess to say: 'Her ladyship does not know
how to treat madmen.'
Nor did Sir Franks and Sir John. They began expostulating with him.
'A madman gets madder when you talk reason to him,' said Mrs. Mel.
And now the Countess stepped forward to Lady Jocelyn, and hoped she would
not be thought impertinent in offering her opinion as to how this frantic
person should be treated. The case indeed looked urgent. Many gentlemen
considered themselves bound to approach and be ready in case of need.
Presently the Countess passed between Sir Franks and Sir John, and with
her hand put up, as if she feared the furious cane, said:
'You will not strike me?'
'Strike a lady, madam?' The cane and hat were simultaneously lowered.
'Lady Jocelyn permits me to fetch for you a gentleman of the law. Or
will you accompany me to him?'
In a moment, Captain Evremonde's manners were subdued and civilized, and
in perfectly sane speech he thanked the Countess and offered her his arm.
The Countess smilingly waved back Sir John, who motioned to attend on
her, and away she went with the Captain, with all the glow of a woman who
feels that she is heaping coals of fire on the heads of her enemies.
Was she not admired now?
'Upon my honour,' said Lady Jocelyn, 'they are a remarkable family,'
meaning the Harringtons.
What farther she thought she did not say, but she was a woman who looked
to natural gifts more than the gifts of accidents; and Evan's chance
stood high with her then. So the battle of the Bull-dogs was fought, and
cruelly as the Countess had been assailed and wounded, she gained a
victory; yea, though Demogorgon, aided by the vindictive ghost of Sir
Abraham, took tangible shape in the ranks opposed to her. True, Lady
Jocelyn, forgetting her own recent intrepidity, condemned her as a liar;
but the fruits of the Countess's victory were plentiful. Drummond Forth,
fearful perhaps of exciting unjust suspicions in the mind of Captain
Evremonde, disappeared altogether. Harry was in a mess which threw him
almost upon Evan's mercy, as will be related. And, lastly, Ferdinand
Laxley, that insufferable young aristocrat, was thus spoken to by Lady
'This 'letter addressed to Lawson, telling him that his wife is here, is
in your handwriting, Ferdinand. I don't say you wrote it--I don't think
you could have written it. But, to tell you the truth, I have an
unpleasant impression about it, and I think we had better shake hands and
not see each other for some time.'
Laxley, after one denial of his guilt, disdained to repeat it. He met
her ladyship's hand haughtily, and, bowing to Sir Franks, turned on his
So, then, in glorious complete victory, the battle of the Bull-dogs
Of the close of the pic-nic more remains to be told.
For the present I pause, in observance of those rules which demand that
after an exhibition of consummate deeds, time be given to the spectator
to digest what has passed before him.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A madman gets madder when you talk reason to him
Ah! how sweet to waltz through life with the right partner
And not any of your grand ladies can match my wife at home
Any man is in love with any woman
Believed in her love, and judged it by the strength of his own
Eating, like scratching, only wants a beginning
Feel no shame that I do not feel!
Feel they are not up to the people they are mixing with
Found it difficult to forgive her his own folly
Good and evil work together in this world
Hated one thing alone--which was 'bother'
He has been tolerably honest, Tom, for a man and a lover
I cannot live a life of deceit. A life of misery--not deceit
If we are to please you rightly, always allow us to play First
It is no insignificant contest when love has to crush self-love
Listened to one another, and blinded the world
Maxims of her own on the subject of rising and getting the worm
My belief is, you do it on purpose. Can't be such rank idiots
No conversation coming of it, her curiosity was violent
One fool makes many, and so, no doubt, does one goose
Play second fiddle without looking foolish
Second fiddle; he could only mean what she meant
Sense, even if they can't understand it, flatters them so
The commonest things are the worst done
The thrust sinned in its shrewdness
Those numerous women who always know themselves to be right
Two people love, there is no such thing as owing between them
Waited serenely for the certain disasters to enthrone her
What will be thought of me? not a small matter to any of us
When testy old gentlemen could commit slaughter with ecstasy
Why, he'll snap your head off for a word