Part 5 out of 9
stomach. The sealed packets went back into the safe.
"Show us a sparkle o' gold, Mr. Richard," said Meredith, linen-draper
"Mr. Skinner, oblige me by showing Mr. Meredith a little of your
specie--a few anti-bubble pills, eh! Mr. Meredith."
Omnes. "Ha! ha! ha!"
Presently a shout from Meredith: "Boys, he has got it here by the
bushel. All new sovereigns. Don't any of ye be a linen-draper, if you
have got a chance to be a banker. How much is there here, Mr.
"We must consult the books to ascertain that, sir."
"Must you? Then just turn your head away, Mr. Richard, and I'll put in
Omnes. "Haw! haw! ho!"
Richard Hardie resumed. "My precautions seem extravagant to you now,
but in a few months you will remember this conversation, and it will
lead to business." The rest of the evening he talked of anything,
everything, except banking. He was not the man to dilute an
Hardie junior was so confident in his reading and his reasonings that
he looked every day into the journals for the signs of a general
collapse of paper and credit; instead of which, public confidence
seemed to increase, not diminish, and the paper balloon, as he called
it, dilated, not shrank; and this went on for months. His gold lay a
dead and useless stock, while paper was breeding paper on every side
of him. He suffered his share of those mortifications which every man
must look to endure who takes a course of his own, and stems a human
current. He sat somber and perplexed in his bank parlor, doing
nothing; his clerks mended pens in the office. The national calamity
so confidently predicted, and now so eagerly sighed for, came not.
In other words, Richard Hardie was a sagacious calculator, but not a
prophet; no man is till afterward, and then nine out of ten are. At
last he despaired of the national calamity ever coming at all. So
then, one dark November day, an event happened that proved him a
shrewd calculator of probabilities in the gross, and showed that the
records, of the past, "studied" instead of "skimmed," may in some
degree counterbalance youth and its narrow experience. Owing to the
foreign loans, there were a great many bills out against this country.
Some heavy ones were presented, and seven millions in gold taken out
of the Bank of England and sent abroad. This would have trickled back
by degrees; but the suddenness and magnitude of the drain alarmed the
bank directors for the safety of the bank, subject as it was by Mr.
Peel's bill to a vast demand for gold.
Up to this period, though they had amassed specie themselves, they had
rather fed the paper fever in the country at large, but now they began
to take a wide and serious view of the grave contingencies around
them. They contracted their money operations, refused in two cases to
discount corn, and, in a word, put the screw on as judiciously as they
could. But time was up. Public confidence had reached its culminating
point. The sudden caution of the bank could not be hidden; it awoke
prudence, and prudence after imprudence drew terror at its heels.
There was a tremendous run upon the country banks. The smaller ones
"smashed all around like glass bottles," as in 1793; the larger ones
made gigantic and prolonged efforts to stand, and generally fell at
Many, whose books showed assets 40s. in the pound, suspended
payment; for in a violent panic the bank creditors can all draw their
balances in a few hours or days, but the poor bank cannot put a
similar screw on its debtors. Thus no establishment was safe. Honor
and solvency bent before the storm, and were ranked with rottenness;
and, as at the same time the market price of securities sank with
frightful rapidity, scarcely any amount of invested capital was safe
in the unequal conflict.
Exchequer bills went down to 60s. discount, and the funds rose
and fell like waves in a storm.
London bankers were called out of church to answer dispatches from
their country correspondents.
The Mint worked day and night, and coined a hundred and fifty thousand
sovereigns per diem for the Bank of England; but this large supply
went but a little way, since that firm had in reality to cash nearly
all the country notes that were cashed.
Post-chaises and four stood like hackney-coaches in Lombard Street,
and every now and then went rattling off at a gallop into the country
with their golden freight. In London, at the end of a single week, not
an old sovereign was to be seen, so fiercely was the old coinage swept
into the provinces, so active were the Mint and the smashers; these
last drove a roaring trade; for paper now was all suspected, and
anything that looked like gold was taken recklessly in exchange.
Soon the storm burst on the London banks. A firm known to possess half
a million in undeniable securities could not cash them fast enough to
meet the checks drawn on their counter, and fell. Next day, a house
whose very name was a rock suspended for four days. An hour or two
later two more went hopelessly to destruction. The panic rose to
madness. Confidence had no longer a clue, nor names a distinction. A
man's enemies collected three or four vagabonds round his door, and in
another hour there was a run upon him, that never ceased till he was
emptied or broken. At last, as, in the ancient battles, armies rested
on their arms to watch a duel in which both sides were represented,
the whole town watched a run upon the great house of Pole, Thornton &
Co. The Bank of England, from public motives, spiced of course with
private interest, had determined to support Pole, Thornton & Co., and
so perhaps stem the general fury, for all things have their
turning-point. Three hundred thousand pounds were advanced to Pole &
Co., who with this aid and their own resources battled through the
week, but on Saturday night were drained so low that their fate once
more depended on the Bank of England. Another large sum was advanced
them. They went on; but, ere the next week ended, they succumbed, and
universal panic gained the day.
Climax of all, the Bank of England notes lost the confidence of the
public, and a frightful run was made on it. The struggle had been
prepared for, and was gigantic on both sides. Here the great hall of
the bank, full of panic-stricken citizens jostling one another to get
gold for the notes of the bank; there, foreign nations sending over
ingots and coin to the bank, and the Mint working night and day,
Sunday and week-day, to turn them into sovereigns to meet the run.
Sovereigns or else half-sovereigns were promptly delivered on demand.
No hesitation or sign of weakness peeped out; but under this bold and
prudent surface, dismay, sickness of heart, and the dread of a great
humiliation. At last, one dismal evening, this establishment, which at
the beginning of the panic had twenty millions specie, left off with
about five hundred thousand pounds in coin, and a similar amount in
bullion. A large freight of gold was on the seas, coming to their aid,
and due, but not arrived; the wind was high; and in a few hours the
people would be howling round their doors again. They sent a hasty
message to the government, and implored them to suspend, by order in
council, the operation of Mr. Peel's bill for a few days. A plump
negative from Mr. Canning.
Then, being driven to expedients, they bethought them of a chest of 1
pound notes that they had luckily omitted to burn.
Another message to the government, "May we use these?"
"As a temporary expedient, yes."
The one-pound notes were whirling all over the country before
daybreak, and, marvelous anomaly, which took Richard Hardie by
surprise, they oiled the waves, the panic abated from that hour. The
holders of country notes took the 1 pound B. E. notes as cash with
avidity. The very sight of them piled on a counter stopped a run in
more than one city.
The demand for gold at the Bank of England continued, but less
fiercely; and as the ingots still came tumbling in, and the Mint
hailed sovereigns on them, their stock of specie rose as the demand
declined, and they came out of their fiercest battle with honor. But,
ere the tide turned, things in general came to a pass scarcely known
in the history of civilized nations. Ladies and gentlemen took
heirlooms to the pawnbrokers', and swept their tills of the last coin.
Not only was wild speculation, hitherto so universal and ardent,
snuffed out like a candle, but investment ceased and commerce came to
a stand-still. Bank stock, East India stock, and, some days, consols
themselves, did not go down; they went out, were blotted from the book
of business. No man would give them gratis; no man would take them on
any other terms. The brokers closed their books; there were no buyers
nor sellers. Trade was coming to the same pass, except the retail
business in eatables; and an observant statesman and economist, that
watched the phenomenon, pronounced that in forty-eight hours more all
dealings would have ceased between man and man, or returned to the
rude and primitive form of barter, or direct exchange of men's several
commodities, labor included.
Finally, things crept into their places; shades of distinction were
drawn between good securities and bad. Shares were forfeited,
companies dissolved, bladders punctured, balloons flattened, bubbles
burst, and thousands of families ruined--thousands of people
beggared--and the nation itself, its paper fever reduced by a severe
bleeding, lay sick, panting, exhausted, and discouraged for a year or
two to await the eternal cycle--torpor, prudence, health, plethora,
blood-letting; torpor, prudence, health, plethora, bloodletting, etc.,
etc., etc., etc., _in secula seculorum._
The journals pitched into "speculation."
Three banks lay in the dust in the town of ----, and Hardie & Son
stood looking calmly down upon the ruins.
Richard Hardie had carried out his double-headed plan.
There was no run upon him--could not be one in the course of nature,
his balances were so low, and his notes were all at home. He created
artificially a run of a very different kind. He dined the same party
of tradesmen--all but one, who could not come, being at supper after
Polonius his fashion. After dinner he showed the packets still sealed,
and six more unsealed. "Here, gentlemen, is our whole issue." There
was a huge wood fire in the old-fashioned room. He threw a packet of
notes into it. A most respectable grocer yelled and lost color: victim
of his senses, he thought sacred money was here destroyed, and his
host a well-bred, and oh! how plausible, maniac. The others derided
him, and packet after packet fed the flames. When two only were left,
containing about five thousand pounds between them, Hardie junior made
a proposal that they should advertise in their shop windows to receive
Hardie's five-pound notes as five guineas in payment for their goods.
Observing a natural hesitation, he explained that they would by this
means, crush their competitors, and could easily clap a price on their
goods to cover the odd shillings. The bargain was soon struck. Mr.
Richard was a great man. All his guests felt in their secret souls and
pockets--excuse the tautology--that some day or other they should want
to borrow money of him. Besides, "crush their competitors!"
Next day Mr. Richard loosed his hand and let a flock of his own
bank-notes fly (they were asked for earnestly every day). Some soon
found their way to the shops in question. The next day still more took
wing and buzzed about the shops. Presently other tradesmen, finding
people rushed to the shops in question, began to bid against them for
Hardie's notes, a result the long-headed youth had expected; and said
notes went up to ten shillings premium. Too calm and cold to be
betrayed into deserting his principles, he confined the issue within
the bounds he had prescribed, and when they were all out seldom saw
one of them again. By this means he actually lowered the Bank of
England notes in public estimation, and set his own high above them in
the town of ----. Deposits came in. Confidence unparalleled took the
place of fear so far as he was concerned, and he was left free to work
the other part of his plan.
To the amazement and mystification of old Skinner, he laid out ten
thousand pounds in Exchequer bills, and followed this up by other
large purchases of paper, paper, nothing but paper.
Hardie senior was nervous.
"Are you true to your own theory, Richard?"
The youth explained to him that blind confidence always ends in blind
distrust. and then all paper becomes depreciated alike, but good paper
is sure to recover. "Sixty-two shillings discount, sir, is a
ridiculous decline of Exchequer bills. We are at peace, and elastic,
and the government is strong. My other purchases all rest upon certain
information, carefully and laboriously amassed while the world was so
busy blowing bubbles. I am now buying paper that is unjustly
depreciated in Panic, i.e., in the second act of that mania of
which Bubble is the first act." He added: "When the herd buy, the
price rises; when they sell, it falls. To buy with them and sell with
them is therefore to buy dear and sell cheap. My game--and it is a
game that reduces speculation to a certainty--is threefold:
"First, never, at any price or under any temptation, buy anything that
is not as good as gold.
"Secondly, buy that sound article when the herd sells it.
"Thirdly, sell it when the herd buys it."
"Richard," said the old man, "I see what it is--you are a genius."
"It is no use your denying it, Richard."
"Common sense, sir, common sense."
"Yes, but common sense carried to such a height as you do is genius."
"Well, sir, then I own to the genius of common sense."
"I admire you, Richard--I am proud of you; but the bank has stood one
hundred and forty years, and never a genius in it;" the old man
Hardie senior, having relieved his mind of this vague misgiving, never
returned to it--probably never felt it again. It was one of those
strange flashes that cross a mind as a meteor the sky.
The old gentleman, having little to do, talked more than heretofore,
and, like fathers, talked about his son, and, unlike sons, cried him
up at his own expense. The world is not very incredulous; above all,
it never disbelieves a man who calls himself a fool. Having then
gained the public ear by the artifice of self-depreciation, he poured
into it the praises of Hardie junior. He went about telling how he, an
old man, was all but bubbled till this young Daniel came down and
foretold all. Thus paternal garrulity combined for once with a man's
own ability to place Richard Hardie on the pinnacle of provincial
A few years more and Hardie senior died. (His old clerk, Skinner,
followed him a month later.)
Richard Hardie, now sole partner and proprietor, assumed a mode of
living unknown to his predecessors. He built a large, commodious
house, and entertained in the first style. The best families in the
neighborhood visited a man whose manner was quiet and stately, his
income larger than their own, and his house and table luxurious
without vulgar pretensions, and the red-hot gilding and glare with
which the injudicious parvenu brands himself and furniture.
The bank itself put on a new face. Twice as much glass fronted the
street, and a skylight was let into the ceiling: there were five
clerks instead of three; the new ones at much smaller salaries than
the pair that had come down from antiquity.
SUCH was Mr. Hardie at twenty-five, and his townspeople said: "If he
is so wise now he is a boy, what in Heaven's name will he be at
forty?" To sixty the provincial imagination did not attempt to follow
his wisdom. He was now past thirty, and behind the scenes of his bank
was still the able financier I have sketched. But in society he seemed
another man. There his characteristics were quiet courtesy,
imperturbability, a suave but impressive manner, vast information on
current events, and no flavor whatever of the shop.
He had learned the happy art, which might be called "the barrister's
art," _hoc agendi,_ of throwing the whole man into a thing at one
time, and out of it at another. In the bank and in his own study he
was a devout worshiper of Mammon; in society, a courteous, polished,
intelligent gentleman, always ready to sift and discuss any worthy
topic you could start except finance. There was some affectation in
the cold and immovable determination with which he declined to say
three words about money. But these great men act habitually on a
preconceived system: this gives them their force.
If Lucy Fountain had been one of those empty girls that were so rife
at the time, the sterling value of his conversation would have
disgusted her, and his calm silence where there was nothing to be said
(sure proof of intelligence) would have passed for stupidity with her.
But she was intelligent, well used to bungling, straightforward
flattery, and to smile with arch contempt at it, and very capable of
appreciating the more subtle but less satirical compliment a man pays
a pretty girl by talking sense to her; and, as it happened, her foible
favored him no less than did her strong points. She attached too solid
a value to manner; and Mr. Hardie's manner was, to her fancy, male
perfection. It added to him in her estimation as much as David Dodd's
defects in that kind detracted from the value of his mind and heart.
To this favorable opinion Mr. Hardie responded in full.
He had never seen so graceful a creature, nor so young a woman so
courteous and high-bred.
He observed at once, what less keen persons failed to discover, that
she was seldom spontaneous or off her guard. He admired her the more.
He had no sympathy with the infantine in man or woman. "She thinks
before she speaks," said he, with a note of admiration. On the other
hand, he missed a trait or two the young lady possessed, for they
happened to be virtues he had no eye for; but the sum total was most
favorable; in short, it was esteem at first sight.
As a cobweb to a cabbage-net, so fine was Mrs. Bazalgette's
reticulation compared with Uncle Fountain's. She invited Mr. Hardie to
stay a fortnight with her, commencing just one day before Lucy's
return. She arranged a round of gayety to celebrate the double event.
What could be more simple? Yet there was policy below. The whirl of
pleasure was to make Lucy forget everybody at Font Abbey; to empty her
heart, and pave Mrs. B.'s candidate's way to the vacancy. Then, she
never threw Mr. Hardie at Lucy's head, contenting herself with
speaking of him with veneration when Lucy herself or others introduced
his name. She was always contriving to throw the pair together, but no
mortal could see her hand at work in it. _Bref,_ a she-spider.
The first day or two she watched her niece on the sly, just to see
whether she regretted Font Abbey, or, in other words, Mr. Talboys.
Well acquainted with all the subtle signs by which women read one
another, she observed with some uneasiness that Lucy appeared somewhat
listless and pensive at times, when left quite to herself. Once she
found her with her cheek in her hand, and, by the way the young lady
averted her head and slid suddenly into distinct cheerfulness,
suspected there must have been tears in her eyes, but could not be
positive. Next, she noticed with satisfaction that the round of
gayety, including, as it did, morning rides as well as evening dances,
dissipated these little reveries and languors. She inferred that
either there was nothing in them but a sort of sediment of
_ennui,_ the natural remains of a visit to Font Abbey, or that,
if there was anything more, it had yielded to the active pleasures she
had provided, and to the lady's easy temper, and love of society, "the
only thing she loves, or ever will," said Mrs. B., assuming prophecy.
"Aunt, how superior Mr. Hardie's conversation is. He interests one in
topics that are unbearable generally; politics now. I thought I
abhorred them, but I find it was only those little paltry Whig and
Tory squabbles that wearied me. Mr. Hardie's views are neither Whig
nor Tory; they are patriotic, and sober, and large-minded. He thinks
of the country. I can take some interest in what he calls politics."
"And, pray, what is that?"
"Well, aunt, the liberation of commerce from its fetters for one
thing. I can contrive to be interested in that, because I know England
can be great only by commerce. Then the education of all classes,
because without that England cannot be enlightened or good."
"He never says a word to me about such things," said Mrs. Bazalgette;
"I suppose he thinks they are above poor me." She delivered this with
so admirable an imitation of pique, that the courtier was deceived,
and applied butter to "a fox's wound."
"Oh no, aunt. Consider; if that was it, he would not waste them on me,
who am so inferior to you in sagacity. More likely he says, 'This
young lady has not yet completed her education; I will sprinkle a
little good sense among her frivolous accomplishments.' Whatever the
motive, I am very much obliged to Mr. Hardie. A man of sense is so
refreshing after--(full stop). What do you think of his voice?"
"His voice? I don't remember anything about it."
"Yes, you do--you must; it is a very remarkable one; so mellow, so
quiet, yet so modulated."
"Well, I do remember now; it is rather a pleasant voice--for a man."
"Rather a pleasant voice!" repeated Lucy, opening her eyes; "why, it
is a voice to charm serpents."
"Ha! ha! It has not charmed him one yet, you see."
This speech was not in itself pellucid; but these sweet ladies among
themselves have so few topics compared with men, and consequently beat
their little manor so often, that they seize a familiar idea, under
any disguise, with the rapidity of lightning.
"Oh, charmers are charm-proof," replied Lucy; "that is the only reason
why. I am sure of that." Then she reflected awhile. "It is his
natural voice, is it not? Did you ever hear him speak in any other?
"Then he must be a good man. Apropos, is Mr. Hardie a good man, aunt?"
"Why, of course he is."
"How do you know?"
"I never heard of any scandal against him."
"Oh, I don't mean your negative goodness. You never heard anything
against _me_ out of doors."
"Well, and are you not a good girl?"
"Me, aunt? Why, you know I am not."
"Bless me, what have you done?"
"I have done nothing, aunt," exclaimed Lucy, "and the good are never
nullities. Then I am not open, which is a great fault in a character.
But I can't help it! I can't! I can't!"
"Well, you need not break your heart for that. You will get over it
before you have been married a year. Look at me; I was as shy as any
of you at first going off, but now I can speak my mind; and a good
thing too, or what would become of me among the selfish set?"
"Meaning me, dear?"
"No. Divide it among you. Come, this is idle talk. Men's voices, and
whether they are good, bad, or indifferent, as if that mattered a pin,
provided their incomes are good and their manners endurable. I want a
little serious conversation with you."
"Do you?" and Lucy colored faintly; "with all my heart."
"We go to the Hunts' ball the day after to-morrow, Lucy; I suppose you
know that? Now what on earth am I to wear? that is the question. There
is no time to get a new dress made, and I have not got one--"
"That you have not worn at least once."
"Some of them twice and three times;" and the B looked aghast at the
state of nudity to which she was reduced. Lucy sidled toward the door.
"Since you consult me, dear, I advise you to wear what I mean to wear
"Ah! what a capital idea! then we shall pass for sisters. I dare say I
have got some old thing or other that will match yours; but you had
better tell me at once what you do mean to wear."
"A gown, a pair of gloves, and a smirk"; and with this heartless
expression of nonchalance Lucy glided away and escaped the impending
"Oh, the selfishness of these girls!" cried the deserted one. "I have
got her a husband to her taste, so now she runs away from me to think
The next moment she looked at the enormity from another point of view,
and then with this burst of injured virtue gave way to a steady
"She is caught at last. She notices his very voice. She fancies she
cares for politics--ha! ha! She is gone to meditate on him--could not
bear any other topic--would not even talk about dress, a thing her
whole soul was wrapped up in till now. I have known her to go on for
hours at a stretch about it."
There are people with memories so constructed that what they said, and
another did not contradict or even answer, seems to them, upon
retrospect, to have been delivered by that other person, and received
in dead silence by themselves.
Meantime Lucy was in her own room and the door bolted.
So she was the next day; and uneasy Mrs. Bazalgette came hunting her,
and tapped at the door after first trying the handle, which in Lucy's
creed was not a discreet and polished act.
"Nobody admitted here till three o'clock."
"It is me, Lucy."
"So I conclude," said Lucy gayly. "'Me' must call again at three,
whoever it is."
"Not I," said Aunt Bazalgette, and flounced off in a pet.
At three Dignity dissolved in curiosity, and Mrs. Bazalgette entered
her niece's room in an ill-temper; it vanished like smoke at the sight
of two new dresses, peach-colored and _glacees,_ just finished,
lying on the bed. An eager fire of questions. "Where did you get them?
which is mine? who made them?"
"A new dressmaker."
"Ah! what a godsend to poor us! Who is she?"
"Let me see how you like her work before I tell you. Try this one on."
Mrs. Bazalgette tried on her dress, and was charmed with it. Lucy
would not try on hers. She said she had done so, and it fitted well
enough for her.
"Everything fits you, you witch," replied the B. "I must have this
woman's address; she is an angel."
Lucy looked pleased. "She is only a beginner, but desirous to please
you; and 'zeal goes farther than talent,' says Mr. Dodd."
"Mr. Dodd! Ah! by-the-by, that reminds me--I am so glad you mentioned
his name. Where does the woman live?"
"The woman, or, as some consider her, the girl, lives at present with
a charming person called by the world Mrs. Bazalgette, but by the
dressmaker her sweet little aunt--" (kiss) (kiss) (kiss); and Lucy,
whose natural affection for this lady was by a certain law of nature
heated higher by working day and night for her in secret, felt a need
of expansion, and curled, round her like a serpent with a dove's
Mrs. Bazalgette did what you and I, manly reader, should have been apt
to omit. She extricated herself, not roughly, yet a little
hastily--like a water-snake gliding out of the other sweet serpent's
folds.* Sacred dress being present, she deemed caresses frivolous--and
ill-timed. "There, there, let me alone, child, and tell me all about
it directly. 'What put it into your head? Who taught you? Is this your
first attempt? Have you paid for the silk, or am I to? Do tell me
quick; don't keep me on thorns!"
* Here flashes on the cultivated mind the sprightly couplet,
"Oh, that I had my mistress at this bay,
To kiss and clip me--till I run away."
SHAKESPEARE.--Venus and Adonis.
Lucy answered this fusillade in detail. "You know, aunt, dressmakers
bring us their failures, and we, by our hints, get them made into
"So we do."
"So I said to myself, 'Now why not bring a little intelligence to bear
at the beginning, and make these things right at once?' Well, I bought
several books, and studied them, and practiced cutting out, in large
sheets of brown paper first; next I ventured a small flight--I made
Jane a gown."
"What! your servant?"
"Yes. I had a double motive; first attempts are seldom brilliant, and
it was better to fail in merino, and on Jane, than on you, madam, and
in silk. In the next place, Jane had been giving herself airs, and
objecting to do some work of that kind for me, so I thought it a good
opportunity to teach her that dignity does not consist in being
disobliging. The poor girl is so ashamed now: she comes to me in her
merino frock, and pesters me all day to let her do things for me. I am
at my wit's end sometimes to invent unreal distresses, like the
writers of fiction, you know; and, aunty, dear, you will not have to
pay for the stuff: to tell you the real truth, I overheard Mr.
Bazalgette say something about the length of your last dressmaker's
bill, and, as I have been very economical at Font Abbey, I found I had
eighteen pounds to spare, so I said nothing, but I thought we will
have a dress apiece that _nobody_ shall have to pay for."
"Eighteen pounds? These two lovely dresses, lace, trimmings, and all,
for eighteen pounds!"
"Yes, aunt. So you see those good souls that make our dresses have
imposed upon us without ceremony: they would have been twenty-five
pounds apiece; now would they not?"
"At least. Well, you are a clever girl. I might as well try on yours,
as you won't."
She tried on Lucy's gown, and, as before, got two looking-glasses into
a line, twisted and twirled, and inspected herself north, south, east
and west, and in an hour and a half resigned herself to take the dress
off. Lucy observed with a sly smile that her gayety declined, and she
became silent and pensive.
"In the dead of the night, when with labor oppressed, All mortals
enjoy the sweet blessing of rest," a phantom stood at Lucy's bedside
and fingered her. She awoke with a violent scream, the first note of
which pierced the night's dull ear, but the second sounded like a wail
from a well, being uttered a long way under the bedclothes. "Hush!
don't be a fool," cried the affectionate phantom; and kneaded the
uncertain form through the bedclothes; "fancy screeching so at sight
of me!" Then gradually a single eye peeped timidly between two white
hands that held the sheets ready for defense like a shield.
"B--b--but you are all in white," gulped Lucy, trembling all over; for
her delicate fibers were set quivering, and could not be stilled by a
word, fingered at midnight all in a moment by a shape.
"Why, what color should I be--in my nightgown?" snapped the specter.
"What color is yours?" and she gave Lucy a little angry pull--"and
"But at the dead of night, aunt, and without any warning--it's
terrible. Oh dear!" (another little gulp in the throat, exceeding
"Lucy, be yourself," said the specter, severely; "you used not to be
so selfish as to turn hysterical when your aunt came to you for
Lucy had to do a little. "Forgive, blessed shade!" She apologized,
crushed down her obtrusive, egotistical tremors, and vibrated to
Placable Aunt Bazalgette accepted her excuses, and opened the business
that brought her there.
"I didn't leave my bed at this hour for nothing, you may be sure."
"Lucy," continued Mrs. Bazalgette, deepening, "there is a weight on my
Up sat Lucy in the bed, and two sapphire eyes opened wide and made
"Oh, aunt, what have you been doing? It is remorse, then, that will
not let you sleep. Ah! I see! your flirtations--your flirtations--this
is the end of them."
"My flirtations!" cried the other, in great surprise. "I never flirt.
I only amuse myself with them."*
*In strict grammar this "them" ought to refer to "flirtations;" but
Lucy's aunt did not talk strict grammar. Does yours?
"You--never--flirt? Oh! oh! oh! Mr. Christopher, Mr. Horne, Sir George
Healey, Mr. M'Donnell, Mr. Wolfenton, Mr. Vaughan--there! oh, and Mr.
"Well, at all events, it's not for any of those fools I get out of my
bed at this time of night. I have a weight on my mind; so do be
serious, if you can. Lucy, I tried all yesterday to hide it from
myself, but I cannot succeed."
"What, dear aunt?"
"That your gown fits me ever so much better than my own." She sighed
Lucy smiled slyly; but she replied, "Is not that fancy?"
"No, Lucy, no," was the solemn reply; "I have tried to shut my eyes to
it, but I can't."
"So it seems. Ha! ha!"
"Now do be serious; it is no laughing matter. How unfortunate I am!"
"Not at all. Take my gown; I can easily alter yours to fit me, if
"Oh, you good girl, how clever you are! I should never have thought of
that." N. B--She had been thinking of nothing else these six hours.
"Go to bed, dear, and sleep in peace," said Lucy, soothingly. "Leave
all to me."
"No, I can't leave all to you. Now I am to have yours, I must try it
on." It was hers now, so her confidence in its fitting was shaken.
Mrs. Bazalgette then lighted all the candles in the sconces, and
opened Lucy's drawers, and took out linen, and put on the dress with
Lucy's aid, and showed Lucy how it fitted, and was charmed, like a
child with a new toy.
Presently Lucy interrupted her raptures by an exclamation. Mrs.
Bazalgette looked round, and there was her niece inspecting the
ghostly robe which had caused her such a fright.
"Here are oceans of yards of lace on her very nightgrown!" cried Lucy.
"Well, does not every lady wear lace on her nightgown?" was the
tranquil reply. "What is that on yours, pray?"
"A little misery of Valenciennes an inch broad; but this is
Mechlin--superb! delicious! Well, aunt, you are a sincere votary of
the graces; you put on fine things because they are fine things, not
with the hollow motive of dazzling society; you wear Mechlin, not for
_eclat,_ but for Mechlin. Alas! how few, like you, pursue quite
the same course in the dark that they do in the world's eye."
"Don't moralize, dear; unhook me!"
After breakfast Mrs. Bazalgette asked Lucy how long she could give her
to choose which of the two gowns to take, after all.
"Till eight o'clock."
Mrs. Bazalgette breathed again. She had thought herself committed to
No. 2, and No. 1 was beginning to look lovely in consequence. At
eight, the choice being offered her with impenetrable nonchalance by
Lucy, she took Lucy's without a moment's hesitation, and sailed off
gayly to her own room to put it on, in which progress the ample
peach-colored silk held out in both hands showed like Cleopatra's
foresail, and seemed to draw the dame along.
Lucy, too, was happy--demurely; for in all this business the female
novice, "la ruse sans le savoir," had outwitted the veteran. Lucy had
measured her whole aunt. So she made dress A for her, but told her she
was to have dress B. This at once gave her desires a perverse bent
toward her own property, the last direction they could have been
warped into by any other means; and so she was deluded to her good,
and fitted to a hair, soul and body.
Going to the ball, one cloud darkened for an instant the matron's
"I am so afraid they will see it only cost nine pounds."
"Enfant!" replied Lucy, "aetat. 20." At the ball Mr. Hardie and Lucy
danced together, and were the most admired couple.
The next day Mr. Hardie announced that he was obliged to curtail his
visit and go up to London. Mrs. Bazalgette remonstrated. Mr. Hardie
apologized, and asked permission to make out the rest of his visit on
his return. Mrs. B. accorded joyfully, but Lucy objected: "Aunt, don't
you be deluded into any such arrangement; Mr. Hardie is liable to
another fortnight. We have nothing to do with his mismanagement. He
comes to spend a fortnight with us: he tries, but fails. I am sorry
for Mr. Hardie, but the engagement remains in full force. I appeal to
you, Mr. Bazalgette, you are so exact."
"I don't see myself how he can get out of it with credit," said
"I am happy to find that my duty is on the side of my inclination,"
said Mr. Hardie. He smiled, well pleased, and looked handsomer than
They all missed him more or less, but nobody more than Lucy. His
conversation had a peculiar charm for her. His knowledge of current
events was unparalleled; then there was a quiet potency in him she
thought very becoming in a man; and then his manner. He was the first
of our unfortunate sex who had reached beau ideal. One was harsh,
another finicking; a third loud; a fourth enthusiastic; a fifth timid;
and all failed in tact except Mr. Hardie. Then, other male voices were
imperfect; they were too insignificant or too startling, too bass or
too treble, too something or too other. Mr. Hardie's was a mellow
tenor, always modulated to the exact tone of good society. Like
herself, too, he never laughed loud, seldom out; and even his smiles,
like her own, did not come in unmeaning profusion, so they told when
they did come.
The Bazalgettes led a very quiet life for the next fortnight, for Mrs.
Bazalgette was husbanding invitations for Mr. Hardie's return.
Mrs. Bazalgette yawned many times during this barren period, but with
considerate benevolence she shielded Lucy from _ennui._ Lucy was
a dressmaker, gifted, but inexperienced; well, then, she would supply
the latter deficiency by giving her an infinite variety of alterations
to make in a multitude of garments. There are egotists who charge for
tuition, but she would teach her dear niece gratis. A mountain of
dresses rose in the drawing-room, a dozen metamorphoses were put in
hand, and a score more projected.
"She pulled down, she built up, she rounded the angular, and squared
the round." And here Mr. Bazalgette took perverse views and
misbehaved. He was a very honest man, but not a refined courtier. He
seldom interfered with these ladies, one way or other, except to
provide funds, which interference was never snubbed; for was he not
master of the house in that sense? But, having observed what was going
on day after day in the drawing-room or workshop, he walked in and
behaved himself like a brute.
"How much a week does she give you, Lucy?" said he, looking a little
Lucy opened her eyes in utter astonishment, and said nothing; her very
needle and breath were suspended.
Mrs. Bazalgette shrugged her shoulders to Lucy, but disdained words.
Mr. Bazalgette turned to his wife.
"I have often recommended economy to you, Jane, I need not say with
what success; but this sort of economy is not for your credit or mine.
If you want to add a dressmaker to your staff--with all my heart. Send
for one when you like, and keep her to all eternity. But this young
lady is our ward, and I will not have her made a servant of for your
"Put your work down, dear," said Mrs. Bazalgette resignedly. "He does
not understand our affection, nor anything else except pounds,
shillings and pence."
"Oh, yes I do. I can see through varnished selfishness for one thing."
"You certainly ought to be a judge of the unvarnished article,"
retorted the lady.
"Having had it constantly under my eyes these twenty years," rejoined
"Oh, aunt! Oh, Mr. Bazalgette!" cried Lucy, rising and clasping her
hands; if you really love me, never let me be the cause of a
misunderstanding, or an angry word between those I esteem; it would
make me too miserable; and, dear Mr. Bazalgette, you must let people
be happy in their own way, or you will be sure to make them unhappy.
My aunt and I understand one another better than you do."
"She understands you, my poor girl."
"Not so well as I do her. But she knows I hate to be idle, and love to
do these bagatelles for her. It is my doing from the first, not hers;
she did not even know I could do it till I produced two dresses for
the Hunts' ball. So, you see--"
"That is another matter; all ladies play at work. But you are in for
_three months' hard labor._ Look at that heap of vanity. She is
making a lady's-maid of you. It is unjust. It is selfish. It is
improper. It is not for my credit, of which I am more jealous than
coquettes are of theirs; besides, Lucy, you must not think, because I
don't make a parade as she does, that I am not fond of you. I have a
great deal more real affection for you than she has, and so you will
find if we are ever put to the test."
At this last absurdity Mrs. Bazalgette burst out laughing. But "la
rusee sans le savoir" turned toward the speaker, and saw that he spoke
with a certain emotion which was not ordinary in him. She instantly
went to him with both hands gracefully extended. "I do think you have
an affection for me. If you really have, show it me _some other
way,_ and not by making me unhappy."
"Well, then, I will, Lucy. Look here; if Solomon was such a fool as to
argue with one of you young geese you would shut his mouth in a
minute. There, I am going; but you will always be the slave of one
selfish person or other; you were born for it."
Thus impotently growling, the merchant prince retired from the field,
escorted with amenity by the courtier. In the passage she suddenly
dropped forward like a cypress-tree, and gave him her forehead to
kiss. He kissed it with some little warmth, and confided to her, in
friendly accents, that she was a fool, and off he went, grumbling
inarticulately, to his foreign loans and things.
The courtier returned to smooth her aunt in turn, but that lady
stopped her with a lofty gesture.
"My plan is to look on these monstrosities as horrid dreams, and go on
as if nothing had happened."
Lucy acquiesced with a smile, and in an instant both immortal souls
plunged and disappeared in silk, satin, feathers and point lace.
The afternoon post brought letters that furnished some excitement. Mr.
Hardie announced his return, and Captain Kenealy accepted an
invitation that had been sent to him two days before. But this was not
all. Mrs. Bazalgette, with something between a laugh and a crow,
handed Lucy a letter from Mr. Fountain, in which that diplomatic
gentleman availed himself of her kind invitation, and with elephantine
playfulness proposed, as he could not stay a month with her, to be
permitted to bring a friend with him for a fortnight. This friend had
unfortunately missed her through absence from his country-house at the
period of her visit to Font Abbey, and had so constantly regretted his
ill fortune that he (Fountain) had been induced to make this attempt
to repair the calamity. His friend's name was Talboys; he was a
gentleman of lineage, and in his numerous travels had made a
collection of foreign costumes which were really worth inspecting,
and, if agreeable to Mrs. Bazalgette, he should send them on before by
wagon, for no carriage would hold them.
Lucy colored on reading this letter, for it repeated a falsehood that
had already made her blush. The next moment, remembering how very
keenly her aunt must be eying her, and reading her, she looked
straight before her, and said coldly, "Uncle Fountain ought to be
welcome here for his courtesy to you at Font Abbey, but I think he
takes rather a liberty in proposing a stranger to you."
"Rather a liberty? Say a very great liberty."
"Well, then, aunt, why not write back that any friend of his would be
welcome, but that the house is full? You have only room for Uncle
"But that is not true, Lucy," said Mrs. Bazalgette, with sudden
Lucy was staggered and abashed at this novel objection; recovering,
she whined humbly, "but it is very nearly true."
It was plain Lucy did not want Mr. Talboys to visit them. This decided
Mrs. Bazalgette to let his dresses and him come. He would only be a
foil to Mr. Hardie, and perhaps bring him on faster. Her decision once
made on the above grounds, she conveyed it in characteristic colors.
"No, my love; where I give my affection, there I give my confidence. I
have your word not to encourage this gentleman's addresses, so why
hurt your uncle's feelings by closing my door to his friend? It would
be an ill compliment to you as well as to Mr. Fountain; he shall
Her postscript to Mr. Fountain ran thus:
"Your friend would have been welcome independently of the foreign
costumes; but as I am a very candid little woman, I may as well tell
you that, now you _have_ excited my curiosity, he will be a great
deal more welcome with them than without them."
And here I own that I, the simpleminded, should never have known all
that was signified in these words but for the comment of John
"It is all right, Talboys," said he. "My bait has taken. You must pack
up these gimcracks at once and send them off, or she'll smile like a
marble Satan in your face, and stick you full of pins and needles."
The next day Mr. Bazalgette walked into the room, haughtily overlooked
the pyramid of dresses, and asked Lucy to come downstairs and see
something. She put her work aside, and went down with him, and lo! two
ponies--a cream-colored and a bay. "Oh, you loves!" cried the virgin,
passionately, and blushed with pleasure. Her heart was very
"Now you are to choose which of these you will have."
"Oh, Mr. Bazalgette!"
"Have you forgotten what you told me? 'Try and make me happy some
other way,' says you. Now I remembered hearing you say what a nice
pony you had at Font Abbey; so I sent a capable person to collect
ponies for you. These have both a reputation. Which will you have?"
"Dear, good, kind Uncle Bazalgette; they are ducks!"
"Let us hope not; a duck's paces won't suit you, if you are as fond of
galloping as other young ladies. Come, jump up, and see which is the
best brute of the two."
"What, without my habit?"
"Well, get your habit on, then. Let us see how quick you can be."
Off ran Lucy, and soon returned fully equipped. She mounted the ponies
in turn, and rode them each a mile or two in short distances. Finally
she dismounted, and stood beaming on the steps of the hall. The groom
held the ponies for final judgment.
"The bay is rather the best goer, dear," said she, timidly.
"Miss Fountain chooses the bay, Tom."
"No, uncle, I was going to ask you if I might have the cream-colored
one. He is so pretty."
"Ha! ha! ha! here's a little goose. Why, they are to ride, not to
wear. Come, I see you are in a difficulty. Take them both to the
"No, no, no," cried Lucy. "Oh, Mr. Bazalgette, don't tempt me to be so
wicked." Then she put both her fingers in her ears and screamed, "Take
the bay darling out of my sight, and leave the cream-colored love."
And as she persisted in this order, with her fingers in her ears, and
an inclination to stamp with her little feet, the bay disappeared and
color won the day.
Then she dropped suddenly like a cypress toward Mr. Bazalgette, which
meant "you can kiss me." This time it was her cheek she proffered, all
glowing with exercise and innocent excitement.
Captain Kenealy was the first arrival: a well-appointed soldier; eyes
equally bright under calm and excitement, mustache always clean and
glossy; power of assent prodigious. He looked so warlike, and was so
inoffensive, that he was in great request for miles and miles round
the garrison town of ----. The girls, at first introduction to him,
admired him, and waited palpitating to be torn from their mammas, and
carried half by persuasion, half by force, to their conqueror's tent;
but after a bit they always found him out, and talked before, and at,
and across this ornament as if it had been a bronze Mars, or a
mustache-tipped shadow. This the men viewing from a little distance
envied the gallant captain, and they might just as well have been
jealous of a hair-dresser's dummy.
One eventful afternoon, Mrs. Bazalgette and Miss Fountain walked out,
taking the gallant captain between them as escort. Reginald hovered on
the rear. Kenealy was charmingly equipped, and lent the party a
luster. If he did not contribute much to the conversation, he did not
interrupt it, for the ladies talked through him as if he had been a
column of red air. Sing, muse, how often Kenealy said "yaas" that
afternoon; on second thoughts, don't. I can weary my readers without
celestial aid: Toot! toot! toot! went a cheerful horn, and the
mail-coach came into sight round a corner, and rolled rapidly toward
them. Lucy looked anxiously round, and warned Master Reginald of the
danger now impending over infants. The terrible child went instantly
(on the "vitantes stulti vitia" principle) clean off the road
altogether into the ditch, and clayed (not pipe) his trousers to the
knee. As the coach passed, a gentleman on the box took off his hat to
the ladies and made other signs. It was Mr. Hardie.
Mrs. Bazalgette proposed to return home to receive him. They were
about a mile from the house. They had not gone far before the
rear-guard intermitted blackberrying for an instant, and uttered an
eldrich screech; then proclaimed, "Another coach! another coach!" It
was a light break coming gently along, with two showy horses in it,
and a pony trotting behind.
At one and the same moment Lucy recognized a four-footed darling, and
the servant recognized her. He drew up, touched his hat, and inquired
respectfully whether he was going right for Mr. Bazalgette's. Mrs.
Bazalgette gave him directions while Lucy was patting the pony, and
showering on him those ardent terms of endearment some ladies bestow
on their lovers, but this one consecrated to her trustees and
quadrupeds. In the break were saddles, and a side-saddle, and other
caparisons, and a giant box; the ladies looked first at it, and then
through Kenealy at one another, and so settled what was inside that
They had not walked a furlong before a traveling-carriage and four
horses came dashing along, and heads were put out of the window, and
the postboys ordered to stop. Mr. Talboys and Mr. Fountain got out,
and the carriage was sent on. Introductions took place. Mrs.
Bazalgette felt her spirits rise like a veteran's when line of battle
is being formed. She was one of those ladies who are agreeable or
disagreeable at will. She decided to charm, and she threw her
enchantment over Messrs. Fountain and Talboys. Coming with hostile
views, and therefore guilty consciences, they had expected a cold
welcome. They received a warm, gay, and airy one. After a while she
maneuvered so as to get between Mr. Fountain and Captain Kenealy, and
leave Lucy to Mr. Talboys. She gave her such a sly look as she did it.
It implied, "You will have to tell me all he says to you while we are
Mr. Talboys inquired who was Captain Kenealy. He learned by her answer
that that officer had arrived to-day, and she had no previous
acquaintance with him.
Whatever little embarrassment Lucy might feel, remembering her
equestrian performance with Mr. Talboys and its cause, she showed
none. She began about the pony, and how kind of him it was to bring
it. "And yet," said she, "if I had known, I would not have allowed you
to take the trouble, for I have a pony here."
Mr. Talboys was sorry for that, but he hoped she would ride his now
and then, all the same.
"Oh, of course. My pony here is very pretty. But a new friend is not
like an old friend."
Mr. Talboys was gratified on more accounts than one by this speech. It
gave him a sense of security. She had no friend about her now she had
known as long as she had him, and those three months of constant
intimacy placed him above competition. His mind was at ease, and he
felt he could pop with a certainty of success, and pop he would, too,
without any unnecessary delay.
The party arrived in great content and delectation at the gates that
led to the house. "Stay!" said Mrs. Bazalgette; "you must come across
the way, all of you. Here is a view that all our guests are expected
to admire. Those, that cry out 'Charming! beautiful! Oh, I never!' we
take them in and make them comfortable. Those that won't or can't
"You put them in damp beds," said Mr. Fountain, only half in jest.
"Worse than that, sir--we flirt with them, and disturb the placid
current of their hearts forever and ever. Don't we, Lucy?"
"You know best, aunt," said Lucy, half malice, half pout. The others
followed the gay lady, and, when the view burst, ejaculated to order.
But Mr. Fountain stood ostentatiously in the middle of the road, with
his legs apart, like him of Rhodes. "I choose the alternative," cried
he. "Sooner than pretend I admire sixteen plowed fields and a hill as
much as I do a lawn and flower-beds, I elect to be flirted, and my
what do ye call 'em?--my stagnant current--turned into a whirlpool."
Ere the laugh had well subsided, caused by this imitation of Hercules
and his choice, he struck up again, "Good news for you, young
gentleman; I smell a ball; here is a fiddle-case making for this
"No," said Mrs. Bazalgette, "I never ordered any musician to come
A tall but active figure came walking light as a feather, with a large
carpet-bag on his back, a boy behind carrying a violin-case.
Lucy colored and lowered her eyes, but never said a word.
The young man came up to the gate, and then Mr. Talboys recognized
He hesitated a single moment, then turned and came to the group and
took off his hat to the ladies. It was David Dodd!
THE new guest's manner of presenting himself with his stick over his
shoulder, and his carpet-bag on his back, subjected him to a battery
of stares from Kenealy, Talboys, Fountain, and abashed him sore.
This lasted but a moment. He had one friend in the group who was too
true to her flirtations while they endured, and too strong-willed, to
let her flirtee be discouraged by mortal.
"Why, it is Mr. Dodd," cried she, with enthusiasm, and she put forth
both hands to him, the palms downward, with a smiling grace. "Surely
you know Mr. Dodd," said she, turning round quickly to the gentlemen,
with a smile on her lip, but a dangerous devil in her eye.
The mistress of the house is all-powerful on these occasions. Messrs.
Talboys and Fountain were forced to do the amiable, raging within;
Lucy anticipated them; but her welcome was a cold one. Says Mrs.
Bazalgette, tenderly, "And why do you carry that heavy bag, when you
have that great stout lad with you? I think it is his business to
carry it, not yours"; and her eyes scathed the boy, fiddle and all.
All the time she was saying this David was winking to her, and making
faces to her not to go on that tack. His conduct now explained his
pantomime. "Here, youngster," said he, "you take these things
in-doors, and here is your half-crown."
Lucy averted her head, and smiled unobserved.
As soon as the lad was out of hearing, David continued: "It was not
worth while to mortify him. The fact is, I hired him to carry it; but,
bless you, the first mile he began to go down by the head, and would
have foundered; so we shifted our cargoes." This amused Kenealy, who
laughed good-humoredly. On this, David laughed for company.
"There," cried his inamorata, with rapture, "that is Mr. Dodd all
over; thinks of everybody, high or low, before himself." There was a
grunt somewhere behind her; her quick ear caught it; she turned round
like a thing on a pivot, and slapped the nearest face. It happened to
be Fountain's; so she continued with such a treacle smile, "Don't you
remember, sir, how he used to teach your cub mathematics gratis?" The
sweet smile and the keen contemporaneous scratch confounded Mr.
Fountain for a second. As soon as he revived he said stiffly, "We can
all appreciate Mr. Dodd."
Having thus established her Adonis on a satisfactory footing, she
broke out all over graciousness again, and, smiling and chatting, led
her guests beneath the hospitable roof.
But one of these guests did not respond to her cheerful strain. The
Norman knight was full of bitterness. Mr. Talboys drew his friend
aside and proposed to him to go back again. The senior was aghast.
"Don't be so precipitate," was all that he could urge this time.
"Confound the fellow! Yes, if that is the man she prefers to you, I
will go home with you to-morrow, and the vile hussy shall never enter
my doors again."
In this mind the pair went devious to their dressing-rooms.
One day a witty woman said of a man that "he played the politician
about turnips and cabbages." That might be retorted (by a snob and
brute) on her own sex in general, and upon Mrs. Bazalgette in
particular. This sweet lady maneuvered on a carpet like Marlborough on
the south of France. She was brimful of resources, and they all tended
toward one sacred object, getting her own way. She could be imperious
at a pinch and knock down opposition; but she liked far better to
undermine it, dissolve it, or evade it. She was too much of a woman to
run straight to her _je-le-veux,_ so long as she could wind
thitherward serpentinely and by detour. She could have said to Mr.
Hardie, "You will take down Lucy to dinner," and to Mr. Dodd, "You
will sit next me"; but no, she must mold her males--as per sample.
To Mr. Fountain she said, "Your friend, I hear, is of old family."
"Came in with the Conqueror, madam."
"Then he shall take me down: that will be the first step toward
conquering me--ha! ha!" Fountain bowed, well pleased.
To Mr. Hardie she said, "Will you take down Lucy to-day? I see she
enjoys your conversation. Observe how disinterested I am."
Hardie consented with twinkling composure.
Before dinner she caught Kenealy, drew him aside, and put on a long
face. "I am afraid I must lose you to-day at dinner. Mr. Dodd is quite
a stranger, and they all tell me I must put him at his ease.
"Well, then, you had better get next Lucy, as you can't have me."
"And, Captain Kenealy, you are my aid-de-camp. It is a delightful
post, you know, and rather a troublesome one."
"You must help me be kind to this sailor."
"Yaas. He is a good fellaa. Carried the baeg for the little caed."
"Oh, did he?"
"And didn't maind been laughed at."
"Now, that shows how intelligent you must be," said the wily one; "the
others could not comprehend the trait. Well, you and I must patronize
him. Merit is always so dreadfully modest."
This arrangement was admirable, but human; consequently, not without a
flaw. Uncle Fountain was left to chance, like the flying atoms of
Epicurus, and chance put him at Bazalgette's right hand save one. From
this point his inquisitive eye commanded David Dodd and Mrs.
Bazalgette, and raked Lucy and her neighbors, who were on the opposite
side of the table. People who look, bent on seeing everything,
generally see something; item, it is not always what they would like
As they retired to rest for the night, Mr. Fountain invited his friend
to his room.
"We shall not have to go home. I have got the key to our antagonist.
Young Dodd is _her_ lover." Talboys shook his head with cool
contempt. "What I mean is that she has invited him for her own
amusement, not her niece's. I never saw a woman throw herself at any
man's head as she did at that sailor's all dinner. Her very husband
saw it. He is a cool hand, that Bazalgette; he only grinned, and took
wine with the sailor. He has seen a good many go the same
road--soldiers, sailors, tinkers, tai--"
Talboys interrupted him. "I really must call you to order. You are
prejudiced against poor Mrs. Bazalgette, and prejudice blinds
everybody. Politeness required that she should show some attention to
her neighbor, but her principal attention was certainly not bestowed
on Mr. Dodd."
Fountain was surprised. "On whom, then?"
"Well, to tell the truth, on your humble servant."
Fountain stared. "I observed she did not neglect you; but when she
turned to Dodd her face puckered itself into smiles like a bag."
"I did not see it, and I was nearer her than you," said Talboys
"But I was in front of her."
"Yes, a mile off." There being no jurisconsult present to explain to
these two magistrates that if fifty people don't see a woman pucker
her face like a bag, and one does see her p. h. f. l. a. b., the
affirmative evidence preponderates, they were very near coming to a
quarrel on this grave point. It was Fountain who made peace. He
suddenly remembered that his friend had never been known to change an
opinion. "Well," said he, "let us leave that; we shall have other
opportunities of watching Dodd and her; meantime I am sorry I cannot
convince you of my good news, for I have some bad to balance it. You
have a rival, and he did not sit next Mrs. Bazalgette."
"Pray may I ask whom he did sit next?" sneered Talboys.
"He sat--like a man who meant to win--by the girl herself."
"Oh, then it is that sing-song captain you fear, sir?" drawled
"No, sir, no more than I dread the _epergne._ Try the other
"What, Mr. Hardie? Why, he is a banker."
"And a rich one."
"She would never marry a banker."
"Perhaps not, if she were uninfluenced; but we are not at Talboys
Court or Font Abbey now. We have fallen into a den of
_parvenues._ That Hardie is a great catch, according to their
views, and all Mrs. Bazalgette's influence with Lucy will be used in
"I think not. She spoke quite slightingly of him to me."
"Did she? Then that puts the matter quite beyond doubt. Why should she
speak slightingly of him? Bazalgette spoke to me of him with grave
veneration. He is handsome, well behaved, and the girl talked to him
nineteen to the dozen. Mrs. Bazalgette could not be sincere in
underrating him. She undervalued him to throw dust in your eyes."
"It is not so easy to throw dust in my eyes."
"I don't say it is; but this woman will do it; she is as artful as a
fox. She hoodwinked even me for a moment. I really did not see through
her feigned politeness in letting you take her down to dinner."
"You mistake her character entirely. She is coquettish, and not so
well-bred as her niece, but artful she is not. In fact, there is
almost a childish frankness about her."
At this stroke of observation Fountain burst out laughing bitterly.
Talboys turned pale with suppressed ire, and went on doggedly: "You
are mistaken in every particular. Mrs. Bazalgette has no fixed views
for her niece, and I by no means despair of winning her to my side.
She is anything but discouraging."
"Mr. Hardie is a new acquaintance, and Miss Fountain told me herself
she preferred old friends to new. She looked quite conscious as she
said it. In a word, Mr. Dodd is the only rival I have to
fear--good-night;" and he went out with a stately wave of the hand,
like royalty declining farther conference. Mr. Fountain sank into an
armchair, and muttered feebly, "Good-night." There he sat collapsed
till his friend's retiring steps were heard no more; then, springing
wildly to his feet, he relieved his swelling mind with a long, loud,
articulated roar of Anglo-Saxon, "Fool! dolt! coxcomb! noodle! puppy!
Did ye ever read "Tully 'de Amicitia'?"
David Dodd was saved from misery by want of vanity. His reception at
the gate by Miss Fountain was cool and constrained, but it did not
wound him. For the last month life had been a blank to him. She was
his sun. He saw her once more, and the bare sight filled him with life
and joy. His was naturally a sanguine, contented mind. Some lovers
equally ardent would have seen more to repine at than to enjoy in the
whole situation; not so David. She sat between Kenealy and Hardie, but
her presence filled the whole room, and he who loved her better than
any other had the best right to be happy in the place that held her.
He had only to turn his eyes, and he could see her. What a blessing,
after a month of vacancy and darkness. This simple idolatry made him
so happy that his heart overflowed on all within reach. He gave Mrs.
Bazalgette answers full of kindness and arch gayety combined. He
charmed an old married lady on his right. His was the gay, the merry
end of the table, and others wished themselves up at it.
After the ladies had retired, his narrative powers, _bonhomie_
and manly frankness soon told upon the men, and peals of genuine
laughter echoed up to the very drawing-room, bringing a deputation
from the kitchen to the keyhole, and irritating the ladies overhead,
who sat trickling faint monosyllables about their three little topics.
Lucy took it philosophically. "Now those are the good creatures that
are said to be so unhappy without us. It was a weight off their minds
when the door closed on our retiring forms--ha! ha!"
"It was a restraint taken off them, my dear," said Mrs. Mordan, a
starched dowager, stiffening to the naked eye as she spoke. "When they
laugh like that, they are always saying something improper."
"Oh, the wicked things," replied Lucy, mighty calmly.
"I wish I knew what they are saying," said eagerly another young lady;
then added, "Oh!" and blushed, observing her error mirrored in all
Lucy the Clement instructed her out of the depths of her own
experience in impropriety. "They swear. That is what Mrs. Mordan
means," and so to the piano with dignity.
Presently in came Messrs. Fountain and Talboys. Mrs. Bazalgette asked
the former a little crossly how he could make up his mind to leave the
gay party downstairs.
"Oh, it was only that fellow Dodd. The dog is certainly very amusing,
but 'there's metal more attractive here.' "
Coffee and tea were fired down at the other gentlemen by way of hints;
but Dodd prevailed over all, and it was nearly bedtime when they
joined the ladies.
Mr. Talboys had an hour with Lucy, and no rival by to ruffle him.
Next day a riding-party was organized. Mr. Talboys decided in his mind
that Kenealy was even less dangerous than Hardie, so lent him the
quieter of his two nags, and rode a hot, rampageous brute, whose very
name was Lucifer, so that will give you an idea. The grooms had driven
him with a kicking-strap and two pair of reins, and even so were
reluctant to drive him at all, but his steady companion had balanced
him a bit. Lucy was to ride her old pony, and Mrs. Bazalgette the new.
The horses came to the door; one of the grooms offered to put Lucy up.
Talboys waved him loftily back, and then, strange as it may appear,
David, for the first time in his life, saw a gentleman lift a lady
into the saddle.
Lucy laid her right hand on the pommel and resigned her left foot; Mr.
Talboys put his hand under that foot and heaved her smoothly into the
saddle. "That is clever," thought simple David; "that chap has got
more pith in his arm than one would think." They cantered away, and
left him looking sadly after them. It seemed so hard that another man
should have her sweet foot in his hand, should lift her whole glorious
person, and smooth her sacred dress, and he stand by helpless; and
then the indifference with which that man had done it all. To him it
had been no sacred pleasure, no great privilege. A sense of loneliness
struck chill on David as the clatter of her pony's hoofs died away. He
was in the house; but in that house was a sort of inner circle, of
which she was the center, and he was to be outside it altogether.
Liable to great wrath upon great occasions, he had little of that
small irritability that goes with an egotistical mind and feminine
fiber, so he merely hung his head, blamed nobody, and was sad in a
manly way. While he leaned against the portico in this dejected mood,
a little hand pulled his coat-tail. It was Master Reginald, who looked
up in his face, and said timidly, "Will you play with me?" The fact
is, Mr. Reginald's natural audacity had received a momentary check. He
had just put this same question to Mr. Hardie in the library, and had
been rejected with ignominy, and recommended to go out of doors for
his own health and the comfort of such as desired peaceable study of
British and foreign intelligence.
"That I will, my little gentleman," said David, "if I know the game."
"Oh, I don't care what it is, so that it is fun. What is your name?"
"And what is yours?"
"What, don't--you--know??? Why, Reginald George Bazalgette. I am
seven. I am the eldest. I am to have more money than the others when
papa dies, Jane says. I wonder when he will die."
"When he does you will lose his love, and that is worth more than his
money; so you take my advice and love him dearly while you have got
"Oh, I like papa very well. He is good-natured all day long. Mamma is
so ill-tempered till dinner, and then they won't let me dine with her;
and then, as soon as mamma has begun to be good-tempered upstairs in
the drawing-room, my bedtime comes directly; it's abominable!!" The
last word rose into a squeak under his sense of wrong.
David smiled kindly: "So it seems we all have our troubles," said he.
"What! have you any troubles?" and Reginald opened his eyes in wonder.
He thought size was an armor against care.
"Not so many as most folk, thank God, but I have some," and David
"Why, if I was as big as you, I'd have no troubles. I'd beat everybody
that troubled me, and I would marry Lucy directly"; and at that
beloved name my lord falls into a reverie ten seconds long.
David gave a start, and an ejaculation rose to his lips. He looked
down with comical horror upon the little chubby imp who had divined
Mr. Reginald soon undeceived him. "She is to be my wife, you know.
Don't you think she will make a capital one?" Before David could
decide this point for him, the kaleidoscopic mind of the terrible
infant had taken another turn. "Come into the stable-yard; I'll show
you Tom," cried young master, enthusiastically. Finally, David had to
make the boy a kite. When made it took two hours for the paste to dry;
and as every ten minutes spent in waiting seemed an hour to one of Mr.
Reginald's kidney, as the English classics phrase it, he was almost in
a state of frenzy at last, and flew his new kite with yells. But after
a bit he missed a familiar incident; "It doesn't tumble down; my other
kites all tumble down."
"More shame for them," said David, with a dash of contempt, and
explained to him that tumbling down is a flaw in a kite, just as
foundering at sea is a vile habit in a ship, and that each of these
descents, however picturesque to childhood's eye, implies a
construction originally derective, or some little subsequent
mismanagement. It appeared by Reginald's retort that when his kite
tumbled he had the tumultuous joy of flying it again, but, by its
keeping the air like this, monotony reigned; so he now proposed that
his new friend should fasten the string to the pump-handle, and play
at ball with him beneath the kite. The good-natured sailor consented,
and thus the little voluptuary secured a terrestrial and ever-varying
excitement, while occasional glances upward soothed him with the mild
consciousness that there was his property still hovering in the
empyrean; amid all which, poor love-sick David was seized with a
desire to hear the name of her he loved, and her praise, even from
these small lips. "So you are very fond of Miss Lucy?" said he.
"Yes," replied Reginald, dryly, and said no more; for it is a
characteristic of the awfu' bairn to be mute where fluency is
required, voluble where silence.
"I wonder why you love her so much," said David, cunningly. Reginald's
face, instead of brightening with the spirit of explanation, became
instantly lack-luster and dough-like; for, be it known, to the
everlasting discredit of human nature, that his affection and
matrimonial intentions, as they were no secret, so they were the butt
of satire from grown-up persons of both sexes in the house, and of
various social grades; down to the very gardener, all had had a fling
at him. But soon his natural cordiality gained the better of that
momentary reserve. "Well, I'll tell you," said he, "because you have
behaved well all day."
David was all expectation.
"I like her because she has got red cheeks, and does whatever one asks
Oh, breadth of statement! Why was not David one of your repeaters? He
would have gone and told Lucy. I should have liked her to know in what
grand primitive colors peach-bloom and queenly courtesy strike what
Mr. Tennyson is pleased to call "the deep mind of dauntless infancy."
But David Dodd was not a reporter, and so I don't get my way; and how
few of us do! not even Mr. Reginald, whose joyous companionship with
David was now blighted by a footman. At sight of the coming plush,
"There, now!" cried Reginald. He anticipated evil, for messages from
the ruling powers were nearly always adverse to his joys. The footman
came to say that his master would feel obliged if Mr. Dodd would step
into his study a minute.
David went immediately.
"There, now!" squeaked Reginald, rising an octave. "I'm never happy
for two hours together." This was true. He omitted to add, "Nor
unhappy for one." The dear child sought comfort in retaliation. He
took stones and pelted the footman's retiring calves. His admirers, if
any, will be glad to learn that this act of intelligent retribution
soothed his deep mind a little.
Mr. Bazalgette had been much interested by David's conversation the
last night, and, hearing he was not with the riding-party, had a mind
to chat with him. David found him in a magnificent study, lined with
books, and hung with beautiful maps that lurked in mahogany cylinders
attached to the wall; and you pulled them out by inserting a
brass-hooked stick into their rings, and hauling. Mr. Bazalgette began
by putting him a question about a distant port to which he had just
sent out some goods. David gave him full information. Began,
seaman-like, with the entrance to the harbor, and told him what danger
his captain should look out for in running in, and how to avoid it;
and from that went to the character of the natives, their tricks upon
the sailors, their habits, tastes, and fancies, and, entering with
intelligence into his companion's business, gave him some very shrewd
hints as to the sort of cargo that would tempt them to sell the very
rings out of their ears. Succeeding so well in this, Mr. Bazalgette
plied him on other points, and found him full of valuable matter, and,
by a rare union of qualities, very modest and very frank. "Now I like
this," said Mr. Bazalgette, cheerfully. "This is a return to old
customs. A century or two ago, you know, the merchant and the captain
felt themselves parts of the same stick, and they used to sit and
smoke together before a voyage, and sup together after one, and be
always putting their heads together; but of late the stick has got so
much longer, and so many knots between the handle and the point, that
we have quite lost sight of one another. Here we merchants sit at home
at ease, and send you fine fellows out among storms and waves, and
think more of a bale of cotton spoiled than of a captain drowned."
David. "And we eat your bread, sir, as if it dropped from the
clouds, and quite forget whose money and spirit of enterprise causes
the ship to be laid on the stocks, and then built, and then rigged,
and then launched, and then manned, and then sailed from port to
"Well, well, if you eat our bread, we eat your labor, your skill, your
courage, and sometimes your lives, I am sorry to say. Merchants and
captains ought really to be better acquainted."
"Well, sir," said David, "now you mention it, you are the first
merchant of any consequence I ever had the advantage of talking with."
"The advantage is mutual, sir; you have given me one or two hints I
could not have got from fifty merchants. I mean to coin you, Captain
David laughed and blushed. "I doubt it will be but copper coin if you
do. But I am not a captain; I am only first mate."
"You don't say so! Why, how comes that?"
"Well, sir, I went to sea very young, but I wasted a year or two in
private ventures. When I say wasted, I picked up a heap of knowledge
that I could not have gained on the China voyage, but it has lost me a
little in length of standing; but, on the other hand, I have been very
lucky; it is not every one that gets to be first mate at my age; and
after next voyage, if I can only make a little bit of interest, I
think I shall be a captain. No, sir, I wish I was a captain; I never
wished it as now;" and David sighed deeply.
"Humph!" said Mr. Bazalgette, and took a note.
He then showed David his maps. David inspected them with almost boyish
delight, and showed the merchant the courses of ships on Eastern and
Western voyages, and explained the winds and currents that compelled
them to go one road and return another, and in both cases to go so
wonderfully out of what seems the track as they do. _Bref,_ the
two ends of the mercantile stick came nearer.
"My study is always open to you, Mr. Dodd, and I hope you will not let
a day pass without obliging me by looking in upon me."
David thanked him, and went out innocently unconscious that he had
performed an unparalleled feat. In the hall he met Captain Kenealy,
who, having received orders to amuse him, invited him to play at
billiards. David consented, out of good-nature, to please Kenealy.
Thus the whole day passed, and _les facheux_ would not let him
get a word with Lucy.
At dinner he was separated from her, and so hotly and skillfully
engaged by Mrs. Bazalgette that he had scarcely time to look at his
idol. After dinner he had to contest her with Mr. Talboys and Mr.
Hardie, the latter of whom he found a very able and sturdy antagonist.
Mr. Hardie had also many advantages over him. First, the young lady
was not the least shy of Mr. Hardie, but the parting scene beyond
Royston had put her on her guard against David, and her instinct of
defense made her reserved with him. Secondly, Mrs. Bazalgette was
perpetually making diversions, whose double object was to get David to
herself and leave Lucy to Mr. Hardie.
With all this David found, to his sorrow, that, though he now lived
under the same roof with her, he was not so near her as at Font Abbey.
There was a wall of etiquette and of rivals, and, as he now began to
fear, of her own dislike between them. To read through that mighty
transparent jewel, a female heart, Nauta had recourse--to what, do you
think? To arithmetic. He set to work to count how many times she spoke
to each of the party in the drawing-room, and he found that Mr. Hardie
was at the head of the list, and he was at the bottom. That might be
an accident; perhaps this was his black evening; so he counted her
speeches the next evening. The result was the same. Droll statistics,
but sad and convincing to the simple David. His spirits failed him;
his aching heart turned cold. He withdrew from the gay circle, and sat
sadly with a book of prints before him, and turned the leaves
listlessly. In a pause of the conversation a sigh was heard in the
corner. They all looked round, and saw David all by himself, turning
over the leaves, but evidently not inspecting them.
A sort of flash of satirical curiosity went from eye to eye.
But tact abounded at one end of the room, if there was a dearth of it
at the other.
_La rusee sans le savoir_ made a sign to them all to take no
notice; at the same time she whispered: "Going to sea in a few days
for two years; the thought will return now and then." Having said this
with a look at her aunt, that, Heaven knows how, gave the others the
notion that it was to Mrs. Bazalgette she owed the solution of David's
fit of sadness, she glided easily into indifferent topics. So then the
others had a momentary feeling of pity for David. Miss Lucy noticed
this out of the tail of her eye.
That night David went to bed thoroughly wretched. He could not sleep,
so he got up and paced the deck of his room with a heavy heart. At
last, in his despair, he said, "I'll fire signals of distress." So he
sat down and took a sheet of paper, and fired: "Nothing has turned as
I expected. She treats me like a stranger. I seem to drop astern
instead of making any way. Here are three of us, I do believe, and all
seem preferred to your poor brother; and, indeed, the only thing that
gives me any hope is that she seems too kind to be in earnest, for it
is not in her angelic nature to be really unkind; and what have I
done? Eve, dear, such a change from what she was at Font Abbey, and
that happy evening when she came and drank tea with us, and lighted
our little garden up, and won your heart, that was always a little set
against her. Now it is so different that I sit and ask myself whether
all that is not a dream. Can anyone change so in one short month? I
could not. But who knows? perhaps I do her wrong. You know I never
could read her at home without your help, and, dear Eve, I miss you
now from my side most sadly. Without you I seem to be adrift, without
rudder or compass."
Then, as he could not sleep, he dressed himself, and went out at four
o'clock in the morning. He roamed about with a heavy heart; at last he
bethought him of his fiddle. Since Lucy's departure from Font Abbey
this had been a great solace to him. It was at once a depository and
vent to him; he poured out his heart to it and by it; sometimes he
would fancy, while he played, that he was describing the beauties of
her mind and person; at others, regretting the sad fate that separated
him from her; or, hope reviving, would see her near him, and be
telling her how he loved her; and, so great an inspirer is love, he
had invented more than one clear melody during the last month, he who
up to that time had been content to render the thoughts of others,
like most fiddlers and composers.
So he said to himself, "I had better not play in the house, or I shall
wake them out of their first sleep."
He brought out his violin, got among some trees near the stable-yard,
and tried to soothe his sorrowful heart. He played sadly, sweetly and
dreamingly. He bade the wooden shell tell all the world how lonely he
was, only the magic shell told it so tenderly and tunefully that he
soon ceased to be alone. The first arrival was on four legs: Pepper, a
terrier with a taste for sounds. Pepper arrived cautiously, though in
a state of profound curiosity, and, being too wise to trust at once to
his ears, avenue of sense by which we are all so much oftener deceived
than by any other, he first smelled the musician carefully and
minutely all round. What he learned by this he and his Creator alone
know, but apparently something reassuring; for, as soon as he had
thoroughly snuffed his Orpheus, he took up a position exactly opposite
him, sat up high on his tail, cocked his nose well into the air, and
accompanied the violin with such vocal powers as Nature had bestowed
on him. Nor did the sentiment lose anything, in intensity at all
events, by the vocalist. If David's strains were plaintive, Pepper's
were lugubrious; and what may seem extraordinary, so long as David
played softly the Cerberus of the stableyard whined musically, and
tolerably in tune; but when he played loud or fast poor Pepper got
excited, and in his wild endeavors to equal the violin vented dismal
and discordant howls at unpleasantly short intervals. All this
attracted David's attention, and he soon found he could play upon
Pepper as well as the fiddle, raising him and subduing him by turns;
only, like the ocean, Pepper was not to be lulled back to his musical
ripple quite so quickly as he could be lashed into howling frenzy.
While David was thus playing, and Pepper showing a fearful broadside
of ivory teeth, and flinging up his nose and sympathizing loudly and
with a long face, though not perhaps so deeply as he looked, suddenly
rang behind David a chorus of human chuckles. David wheeled, and there
were six young women's faces set in the foliage and laughing merrily.
Though perfectly aware that David would look round, they seemed taken
quite by surprise when he did look, and with military precision became
instantly two files, for the four impudent ones ran behind the two
modest ones, and there, by an innocent instinct, tied their
cap-strings, which were previously floating loose, their custom ever
in the early morning.
"Play us up something merry, sir," hazarded one of the mock-modest
ones in the rear.
"Shan't I be taking you from your work?" objected David dryly.
"Oh, all work and no play is bad for the body," replied the minx,
keeping ostentatiously out of sight.
Good-natured David played a merry tune in spite of his heart; and even
at that disadvantage it was so spirit-stirring compared with anything
the servants had heard, it made them all frisky, of which disposition
Tom, the stable boy, who just then came into the yard, took advantage,
and, leading out one of the housemaids by the polite process of
hauling at her with both hands, proceeded to country dancing, in which
the others soon demurely joined.
Now all this was wormwood to poor David; for to play merriment when
the heart is too heavy to be cheered by it makes that heart bitter as
well as sad. But the good-natured fellow said to himself: "Poor
things, I dare say they work from morning till night, and seldom see
pleasure but at a distance; why not put on a good face, and give them
one merry hour." So he played horn-pipes and reels till all their
hearts were on fire, and faces red, and eyes glittering, and legs
aching, and he himself felt ready to burst out crying, and then he
left off. As for _il penseroso_ Pepper, he took this intrusion of
merry music upon his sympathies very ill. He left singing, and barked
furiously and incessantly at these ancient English melodies and at the
dancers, and kept running from and running at the women's whirling
gowns alternately, and lost his mental balance, and at last, having by
a happier snap than usual torn off two feet of the under-housemaid's
frock, shook and worried the fragment with insane snarls and gleaming
eyes, and so zealously that his existence seemed to depend on its
David gave those he had brightened a sad smile, and went hastily
in-doors. He put his violin into its case, and sealed and directed his
letter to Eve. He could not rest in-doors, so he roamed out again, but
this time he took care to go on the lawn. Nobody would come there, he
thought, to interrupt his melancholy. He was doomed to be disappointed
in that respect. As he sat in the little summer-house with his head on
the table, he suddenly heard an elastic step on the dry gravel. He
started peevishly up and saw a lady walking briskly toward him: it was
She saw him at the same instant. She hesitated a single half-moment;
then, as escape was impossible, resumed her course. David went
bashfully to meet her.
"Good-morning, Mr. Dodd," said she, in the most easy, unembarrassed
He stammered a "good-morning," and flushed with pleasure and
He walked by her side in silence. She stole a look at him, and saw
that, after the first blush at meeting her, he was pale and haggard.
On this she dashed into singularly easy and cheerful conversation with
him; told him that this morning walk was her custom--"My substitute
for rouge, you know. I am always the first up in this languid house;
but I must not boast before you, who, I dare say, turn out--is not
that the word?--at daybreak. But, now I think of it, no! you would
have crossed my hawse before, Mr. Dodd," using naval phrases to
"It was my ill-luck; I always cruised a mile off. I had no idea this
bit of gravel was your quarter-deck."
"It is, though, because it is always dry. You would not like a
quarter-deck with that character, would you?"
"Oh yes, I should. I'd have my bowsprit always wet, and my
quarter-deck always dry. But it is no use wishing for what we cannot
"That is very true," said Lucy, quietly.
David reflected on his own words, and sighed deeply.
This did not suit Lucy. She plied him with airy nothings, that no man
can arrest and impress on paper; but the tone and smile made them
pleasing, and then she asked his opinion of the other guests in such a
way as implied she took some interest in his opinion of them, but
mighty little in the people themselves. In short, she chatted with him
like an old friend, and nothing more; but David was not subtle enough
in general, nor just now calm enough, to see on what footing all this
cordiality was offered him. His color came back, his eye brightened,
happiness beamed on his face, and the lady saw it from under her
"How fortunate I fell in with you here! You are yourself again--on
your quarter-deck. I scarce knew you the last few days. I was afraid I
had offended you. You seemed to avoid me."
"Nonsense, Mr. Dodd; what is there about you to avoid?"
"Plenty, Miss Fountain; I am so inferior to your other friends."
"I was not aware of it, Mr. Dodd."
"And I have heard your sex has gusts of caprice, and I thought the
cold wind was blowing upon me; and that did seem very sad, just when I
am going out, and perhaps shall never see your sweet face or hear your
lovely voice again."
"Don't say that, Mr. Dodd, or you will make me sad in earnest. Your
prudence and courage, and a kind Providence, will carry you safe
through this voyage, as they have through so many, and on your return
the acquaintance you do me the honor to value so highly will await
you--if it depends on me."
All this was said kindly and beautifully, and almost tenderly, but
still with a certain majesty that forbade love-making--rendered it
scarce possible, except to a fool. But David was not captious. He
could not, like the philosopher, sift sunshine. For some days he had
been almost separated from her. Now she was by his side. He adored her
so that he could no longer _realize_ sorrow or disappointment to
come. They were uncertain--future. The light of her eyes, and voice,
and face, and noble presence were here; he basked in them.
He told her not to mind a word he had said. "It was all nonsense. I am
happier now--happier than ever."
At this Lucy looked grave and became silent.
David, to amuse her, told her there was "a singing dog aboard," and
would she like to hear him?
This was a happy diversion for Lucy. She assented gayly. David ran for
his fiddle, and then for Pepper. Pepper wagged his tail, but, strong
as his musical taste was, would not follow the fiddle. But at this
juncture Master Reginald dawned on the stable-yard with a huge slice
of bread and butter. Pepper followed him. So the party came on the
lawn and joined Lucy. Then David played on the violin, and Pepper
performed exactly as hereinbefore related. Lucy laughed merrily, and
Reginald shrieked with delight, for the vocal terrier was mortal
"But, setting Pepper aside, that is a very sweet air you are playing
now, Mr. Dodd. It is full of soul and feeling."
"Is it?" said David, looking wonderstruck; "you know best."
"Who is the composer?"
David looked confused and said, "No one of any note."
Lucy shot a glance at him, keen as lightning. What with David's
simplicity and her own remarkable talent for reading faces, his
countenance was a book to her, wide open, Bible print. "The composer's
name is Mr. Dodd," said she, quietly.
"I little thought you would be satisfied with it," replied David,
"Then you doubted my judgment as well as your own talent."
"My talent! I should never have composed an air that would bear
playing but for one thing."
"And what was that?" said Lucy, affecting vast curiosity. She felt
herself on safe ground now--the fine arts.
"You remember when you went away from Font Abbey, and left us all so
"I remember leaving Font Abbey," replied Lucy, with saucy emphasis,
and an air of lofty disbelief in the other incident.
"Well, I used to get my fiddle, and think of you so far away, and
sweet sad airs came to my heart, and from my heart they passed into
the fiddle. Now and then one seemed more worthy of you than the rest
were, and then I kept that one."
"You mean you took the notes down," said Lucy coldly.
"Oh no, there was no need; I wrote it in my head and in my heart. May
I play you another of your tunes? I call them your tunes."
Lucy blushed faintly, and fixed her eyes on the ground. She gave a
slight signal of assent, and David played a melody.
"It is very beautiful," said she in a low voice. "Play it again. Can
you play it as we walk?"
"Oh yes." He played it again. They drew near the hall door. She looked
up a moment, and then demurely down again.
"Now will you be so good as to play the first one twice?" She listened
with her eyelashes drooping. "Tweedle dee! tweedle dum! tweedle dee."
"And _now_ we will go into breakfast," cried Lucy, with sudden
airy cheerfulness, and, almost with the word, she darted up the steps,
and entered the house without even looking to see whether David
followed or what became of him.
He stood gazing through the open door at her as she glided across the
hall, swift and elastic, yet serpentine, and graceful and stately as
Juno at nineteen.
"Et vera iucessu patuit lady."
These Junones, severe in youthful beauty, fill us Davids with
irrational awe; but, the next moment, they are treated like small
children by the very first matron they meet; they resign their
judgment at once to hers, and bow their wills to her lightest word
with a slavish meanness.
Creation's unmarried lords, realize your true position--girls govern
you, and wives govern girls.
Mrs. Bazalgette, on Lucy's entrance, ran a critical eye over her, and
scolded her like a six-year-old for walking in thin shoes.
"Only on the gravel, aunt," said the divine slave, submissively.
"No matter; it rained last night. I heard it patter. You want to be
laid up, I suppose."
"I will put on thicker ones in future, dear aunt," murmured the
Now Mrs. Bazalgette did not really care a button whether the servile
angel wore thick soles or thin. She was cross about something a mile
off that. As soon as she had vented her ill humor on a sham cause, she
could come to its real cause good-temperedly. "And, Lucy, love, do
manage better about Mr. Dodd."
Lucy turned scarlet. Luckily, Mrs. Bazalgette was evading her niece's
eye, so did not see her telltale cheek.
"He was quite thrown out last night; and really, as he does not ride
with us, it is too bad to neglect him in-doors."
"Oh, excuse me, aunt, Mr. Dodd is your protege. You did not even tell
me you were going to invite him."
"I beg your pardon, that I certainly did. Poor fellow, he was out of
spirits last night."
"Well, but, aunt, surely you can put an admirer in good spirits when
you think proper," said Lucy slyly.
"Humph! I don't want to attract too much attention. I see Bazalgette
watching me, and I don't wish to be misinterpreted myself, or give my
She said this with such dignity that Lucy, who knew her regard for her
husband, had much ado not to titter. But courtesy prevailed, and she
said gravely: "I will do whatever you wish me, only give me a hint at
the time; a look will do, you know."