Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Love Me Little, Love Me Long by Charles Reade

Part 6 out of 9

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.0 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

The ladies separated; they met again at the breakfast-room door.
Laughter rang merrily inside, and among the gayest voices was Mr.
Dodd's. Lucy gave Mrs. Bazalgette an arch look. "Your patient seems
better; "and they entered the room, where, sure enough, they found Mr.
Dodd the life and soul of the assembled party.

"A letter from Mrs. Wilson, aunt."

"And, pray, who is Mrs. Wilson?"

"My nurse. She tells me 'it is five years since she has seen me, and
she is wearying to see me.' What a droll expression, 'wearying.'"

"Ah!" said David Dodd.

"You have heard the word before, Mr. Dodd?"

"No, I can't say I have; but I know what it must mean."

"Lying becalmed at the equator, eh! Dodd?" said Bazalgette,
misunderstanding him.

"Mrs. Wilson tells me she has taken a farm a few miles from this."

"Interesting intelligence," said Mrs. Bazalgette.

"And she says she is coming over to see me one of these days, aunt,"
said Lucy, with a droll expression, half arch, half rueful. She added
timidly, "There is no objection to that, is there?"

"None whatever, if she does not make a practice of it; only mind,
these old servants are the greatest pests on earth."

"I remember now," said Lucy thoughtfully, "Mrs. Wilson was always very
fond of me. I cannot think why, though."

"No more can I," said Mr. Hardie, dryly; "she must be a thoroughly
unreasonable woman."

Mr. Hardie said this with a good deal of grace and humor, and a laugh
went round the table.

"I mean she only saw me at intervals of several years."

"Why, Lucy, what an antiquity you are making yourself," said Fountain.

But Lucy was occupied with her puzzle. "She calls me her nursling,"
said Lucy, _sotto voce,_ to her aunt, but, of course, quite
audibly to the rest of the company; "her dear nursling;" and says,
"she would walk fifty miles to see me. Nursling? hum! there is another
word I never heard, and I do not exactly know-- Then she says--"

_"Taisez-vous, petite sotte!"_ said Mrs. Bazalgette, in a sharp
whisper, so admirably projected that it was intelligible only to the
ear it was meant for.

Lucy caught it and stopped short, and sat looking by main force calm
and dignified, but scarlet, and in secret agony. "I have said
something amiss," thought Lucy, and was truly wretched.

"We don't believe in Mrs. Wilson's affection on this side the table,"
said Mr. Hardie; "but her revelations interest us, for they prove that
Miss Fountain had a beginning. Now we had thought she rose from the
foam like Venus, or sprung from Jove's brow like Minerva, or descended
from some ancient pedestal, flawless as the Parian itself."

"What, sir," cried Bazalgette, furiously, "did you think our niece was
built in a day? So fair a structure, so accomplished a--"

"Will you be quiet, good people?" said Mrs. Bazalgette. "She was born,
she was bred, she was brought up, in which I had a share, and she is a
very good girl, if you gentlemen will be so good as not to spoil her
for me with your flattery."

"There!" said Lucy, courageously, enforcing her aunt's thunderbolt;
and she leaned toward Mrs. Bazalgette, and shot back a glance of
defiance, with arching neck, at Mr. Bazalgette.

After breakfast she ran to Mrs. Bazalgette. "What was it?"

"Oh, nothing; only the gentlemen were beginning to grin."

"Oh, dear! did I say anything--ridiculous?"

"No, because I stopped you in time. Mind, Lucy, it is never safe to
read letters out from people in that class of life; they talk about
everything, and use words that are quite out of date. I stopped you
because I know you are a simpleton, and so I could not tell what might
pop out next."

"Oh, thank you, aunt--thank you," cried Lucy, warmly. "Then I did not
expose myself, after all."

"No, no; you said nothing that might not be proclaimed at St. Paul's
Cross--ha! ha!"

"Am I a simpleton, aunt?" inquired Lucy, in the tone of an indifferent
person seeking knowledge.

"Not you," replied this oblivious lady. "You know a great deal more
than most girls of your age. To be sure, girls that have been at a
fashionable school generally manage to learn one or two things you
have no idea of."


"As you say--he! he! But you make up for it, my dear, in other
respects. If the gentlemen take you for a pane of glass, why, all the
better; meantime, shall I tell you your real character? I have only
just discovered it myself."

"Oh, yes, aunt, tell me my character. I should so like to hear it from

"Should you?" said the other, a little satirically; "well, then, you


"An in-no-cent fox; so run and get your work-box. I want you to run up
a tear in my flounce."

Lucy went thoughtfully for her workbox, murmuring ruefully, "I am an
innocent fox--I am an in-nocent fox."

She did not like her new character at all; it mortified her, and
seemed self-contradictory as well as derogatory.

On her return she could not help remonstrating: "How can that be my
character? A fox is cunning, and I despise cunning; and _I am
sure_ I am not _innocent,"_ added she, putting up both hands
and looking penitent. With all this, a shade of vexation was painted
on her lovely cheeks as she appealed against her epigram.

Mrs. Bazalgette (with the calm, inexorable superiority of
matron despotism). "You are an in-nocent fox!! Is your needle
threaded? Here is the tear; no, not there. I caught against the
flowerpot frame, and I'll swear I heard my gown go. Look lower down,
dear. Don't give it up."

All which may perhaps remind the learned and sneering reader of
another fox--the one that "had a wound, and he could not tell where."

They rode out to-day as usual, and David had the equivocal pleasure of
seeing them go from the door.

Lucy was one of the first down, and put her hand on the saddle, and
looked carelessly round for somebody to put her up. David stepped
hastily forward, his heart beating, seized her foot, never waited for
her to spring, but went to work at once, and with a powerful and
sustained effort raised her slowly and carefully like a dead weight,
and settled her in the saddle. His gripe hurt her foot. She bore it
like a Spartan sooner than lose the amusement of his simplicity and
enormous strength, so drolly and unnecessarily exerted. It cost her a
little struggle not to laugh right out, but she turned her head away
from him a moment and was quit for a spasm. Then she came round with a
face all candor.

"Thank you, Mr. Dodd," said she, demurely; and her eyes danced in her
head. Her foot felt encircled with an iron band, but she bore him not
a grain of malice for that, and away she cantered, followed by his
longing eyes.

David bore the separation well. "To-morrow morning I shall have her
all to myself," said he. He played with Kenealy and Reginald, and
chatted with Bazalgette. In the evening she was surrounded as usual,
and he obtained only a small share of her attention. But the thought
of the morrow consoled him. He alone knew that she walked before

The next morning he rose early, and sauntered about till eight
o'clock, and then he came on the lawn and waited for her. She did not
come. He waited, and waited, and waited. She never came. His heart
died within him. "She avoids me," said he; "it is not accident. I have
driven her out of her very garden; she always walked here before
breakfast (she said so) till I came and spoiled her walk; Heaven
forgive me."

David could not flatter himself that this interruption of her
acknowledged habit was accidental. On the other hand, how kind and
cheerful she had been with him on the same spot yesterday morning. To
judge by her manner, his company on her quarter-deck was not unwelcome
to her yet she kept her room to-day, from the window of which she
could probably see him walking to and fro, longing for her. The bitter
disappointment was bad enough, but here tormenting perplexity as to
its cause was added, and between the two the pining heart was racked.

This is the cruelest separation; mere distance is the mildest. Where
land and sea alone lie between two loving hearts, they pine, but are
at rest. A piece of paper, and a few lines traced by the hand that
reads like a face, and the two sad hearts exult and embrace one
another afresh, in spite of a hemisphere of dirt and salt water, that
parts bodies but not minds. But to be close, yet kept aloof by red-hot
iron and chilling ice, by rivals, by etiquette and cold
indifference--to be near, yet far--this is to be apart--this, this is

A gush of rage and bitterness foreign to his natural temper came over
Mr. Dodd. "Since I can't have the girl I love, I will have nobody but
my own thoughts. I cannot bear the others and their chat to-day. I
will go and think of her, since that is all she will let me do"; and
directly after breakfast David walked out on the downs and made by
instinct for the sea. The wounded deer shunned the lively herd.

The ladies, as they sat in the drawing-room, received visits of a less
flattering character than usual. Reginald kept popping in, inquiring,
"Where was Mr. Dodd?" and would not believe they had not hid him
somewhere. He was followed by Kenealy, who came in and put them but
one question, "Where is Dawd?"

"We don't know," said Mrs. Bazalgette sharply; "we have not been
intrusted with the care of Mr. Dodd."

Kenealy sauntered forth disconsolate. Finally Mr. Bazalgette put his
head in, and surveyed the room keenly but in silence; so then his wife
looked up, and asked him satirically if he did not want Mr. Dodd.

"Of course I do," was the gracious reply; "what else should I come
here for?"

"Well, he is lost; you had better put him in the 'Hue and Cry.'"

La Bazalgette was getting jealous of her own flirtee: he attracted too
much of that attention she loved so dear.

At last Reginald, despairing of Dodd, went in search of another
playmate--Master Christmas, a young gentleman a year older than
himself, who lived within half a mile. Before he went he inquired what
there was for his dinner, and, being informed "roast mutton," was not
enraptured; he then asked with greater solicitude what was the
pudding, and, being told "rice," betrayed disgust and anger, as was
remembered when too late.

At two o'clock, the day being fine, the ladies went for a long ride,
accompanied by Talboys only. Kenealy excused himself: "He must see if
he could not find Dawd."

Mrs. Bazalgette started in a pet; but, after the first canter, she set
herself to bewitch Mr. Talboys, just to keep her hand in; she
flattered him up hill and down dale. Lucy was silent and

"From that hill you look right down upon the sea," said Mrs.
Bazalgette; "what do you say? It is only two miles farther."

On they cantered, and, leaving the high road, dived into a green lane
which led them, by a gradual ascent, to Mariner's Folly on the summit
of the cliff. Mariner's Folly looked at a distance like an enormous
bush in the shape of a lion; but, when you came nearer, you saw it was
three remarkably large blackthorn-trees planted together. As they
approached it at a walk, Mrs. Bazalgette told Mr. Talboys its legend.

"These trees were planted a hundred and fifty years ago by a retired

"Aunt, now, it was only a lieutenant."

"Be quiet, Lucy, and don't spoil me; I _call_ him a buccaneer.
Some say it is named his "Folly," because, you must know, his ghost
comes and sits here at times, and that is an absurd practice,
shivering in the cold. Others more learned say it comes from a Latin
word 'folio,' or some such thing, that means a leaf; the mariner's
leafy screen." She then added with reckless levity, "I wonder whether
we shall find Buckey on the other side, looking at the ships through a
ghostly telescope--ha! ha!--ah! ah! help! mercy! forgive me! Oh, dear,
it is only Mr. Dodd in his jacket--you frightened me so. Oh! oh!
There--I am ill. Catch me, somebody;" and she dropped her whip, and,
seeing David's eye was on her, subsided backward with considerable
courage and trustfulness, and for the second time contrived to be in
her flirtee's arms.

I wish my friend Aristotle had been there; I think he would have been
pleased at her [Greek] (presence of mind) in turning even her terror
of the supernatural so quickly to account, and making it subservient
to flirtation.

David sat heart-stricken and hopeless, gazing at the sea. The hours
passed by his heavy heart unheeded. The leafy screen deadened the
light sound of the horses' feet on the turf, and, moreover, his senses
were all turned inward. They were upon him, and he did not move, but
still held his head in his hands and gazed upon the sea. At Mrs.
Bazalgette's cries he started up, and looked confusedly at them all;
but, when she did the feinting business, he thought she was going to
faint, and caught her in his arms; and, holding her in them a moment
as if she had been a child, he deposited her very gently in a sitting
posture at the foot of one of the trees, and, taking her hand, slapped
it to bring her to.

"Oh, don't! you hurt me," cried the lady in her natural voice.

Lucy, barbarous girl, never came to her aunt's assistance. At the
first fright she seemed slightly agitated, but she now sat impassive
on her pony, and even wore a satirical smile.

"Now, dear aunt, when you have done, Mr. Dodd will put you on your
horse again."

On this hint David lifted her like a child, _malgre_ a little
squeak she thought it well to utter, and put her in the saddle again.
She thanked him in a low, murmuring voice. She then plied David with a
host of questions. "How came he so far from home?" "Why had he
deserted them all day?" David hung his head, and did not answer. Lucy
came to his relief: "It would be as well if you would make him promise
to be at home in time for dinner; and, by the way, I have a favor to
ask of you, Mr. Dodd."

"A favor to ask of me?!"

"Oh, you know we all make demands upon your good-nature in turn."

"That is true," said La Bazalgette, tenderly. "I don't know what will
become of us all when he goes."

Lucy then explained "that the masked ball suggested by Mr. Talboys'
beautiful dresses was to be very soon, and she wanted Mr. Dodd to
practice quadrilles and waltzes with her; it will be so much better
with the violin and piano than with a piano alone, and you are such an
excellent timist--will you, Mr. Dodd?"

"That I will," said David, his eyes sparkling with delight; "thank

"Then, as I shall practice before the gentlemen join us, and it is
four o'clock now, had you not better turn your back on the sea, and
make the best of your way home?"

"I will be there almost as soon as you."

"Indeed! what, on foot, and we on horseback?"

"Ay; but I can steer in the wind's eye."

"Aunt, Mr. Dodd proposes a race home."

"With all my heart. How much start are we to give him?"

"None at all," said David; "are you ready? Then give way," and he
started down the hill at a killing pace.

The equestrians were obliged to walk down the hill, and when they
reached the bottom David was going as the crow flies across some
meadows half a mile ahead. A good canter soon brought them on a line
with him, but every now and then the turns of the road and the hills
gave him an advantage. Lucy, naturally kind-hearted, would have
relaxed her pace to make the race more equal, but Talboys urged her
on; and as a horse is, after all, a faster animal than a sailor, they
rode in at the front gate while David was still two fields off.

"Come," said Mrs. Bazalgette, regretfully, "we have beat him, poor
fellow, but we won't go in till we see what has become of him."

As they loitered on the lawn, Henry the footman came out with a
salver, and on it reposed a soiled note. Henry presented it with
demure obsequiousness, then retired grinning furtively.

"What is this--a begging-letter? What a vile hand! Look, Lucy; did you
ever? Why, it must be some pauper."

"Have a little mercy, aunt," said Lucy, piteously; "that hand has been
formed under my care and daily superintendence: it is Reginald's."

"Oh, that alters the case. What can the dear child have to say to me!
Ah! the little wretch! Send the servants after him in every direction.
Oh, who would be a mother!"

The letter was written in lines with two pernicious defects. 1st. They
were like the wooden part of a bow instead of its string. 2d. They
yielded to gravity--kept tending down, down, to the righthand corner
more and more. In the use of capitals the writer had taken the
copyhead as his model. The style, however, was pithy, and in writing
that is the first Christian grace--no, I forgot, it is the second;
pellucidity is the first.

"Dear mama, me and johnny
Cristmas are gone to the north
Pole his unkle went twise we
Shall be back in siks munths
Please give my love to lucy and
Papa and ask lucy to be kind to
My ginnipigs i shall want them
Wen i come back. too much
Cabiges is not good for ginnipigs.
Wen i come back i hope there
Will be no rise left. it is very
Unjust to give me those nasty
Messy pudens i am not a child
There filthy there abbommanabel.
Johny says it is funy at the north
Pole and there are bares
and they
Are wite.
"I remain

"Your duteful son
"Reginald George Bazalgette."

This innocent missive set house and premises in an uproar. Henry was
sent east through the dirt, _multa reluctantem,_ in white
stockings. Tom galloped north. Mrs. Bazalgette sat in the hall, and
did well-bred hysterics for Kenealy and Talboys. Lucy pinned up her
habit, and ran to the boundary hedge on the bare chance of seeing the
figures of the truants somewhere short of the horizon. Lo, and behold,
there was David Dodd crossing the very nearest field and coming toward
her, an urchin in each hand.

Lucy ran to meet them. "Oh, you dear naughty children, what a fright
you have given us! Oh, Mr. Dodd, how good of you! Where _did_ you
find them?"

"Under that hedge, eating apples. They tell me they sailed for the
North Pole this morning, but fell in with a pirate close under the
land, so 'bout ship and came ashore again."

"A pirate, Mr. Dodd? Oh, I see, a beggar--a tramp."

"A deal worse than that, Miss Lucy. Now, youngster, why don't you spin
your own yarn?"

"Yes, tell me, Reggy."

"Well, dear, when I had written to mamma, and Johnny had folded
it--because I can write but I can't fold it, and he can fold it but he
can't write it--we went to the North Pole, and we got a mile; and then
we saw that nasty Newfoundland dog sitting in the road waiting to
torment us. It is Farmer Johnson's, and it plays with us, and knocks
us down, and licks us, and frightens us, and we hate it; so we came

"Ha! ha! good, prudent children. Oh, dear, you have had no dinner."

"Oh, yes we had, Lucy, such a nice one: we bought such a lot of apples
of a woman. I never had a dinner all apples before; they always spoil
them with mutton and things, and that nasty, nasty rice"

"Hear to that!" shouted David Dodd. "They have been dining upon
varjese" (verjuice), "and them growing children. I shall take them
into the kitchen, and put some cold beef into their little holds this
minute, poor little lambs."

"Oh yes, do; and I will run and tell the good news." She ran across
the lawn, and came into the hall red with innocent happiness and
agitation. "They are found, aunt, they are found; don't cry. Mr. Dodd
found them close by, They have had no dinner, so that good, kind Mr.
Dodd is taking them into the kitchen. I will send Master Christmas
home with a servant. Shall I bring you Reggy to kiss?"

"No, no; wicked little wretch, to frighten his poor mother! Whip him,
somebody, and put him to bed."

In the evening, soon after the ladies had left the dining-room, the
pianoforte was heard playing quadrilles in the drawing-room. David
fidgeted on his seat a little, and presently rose and went for his
violin, and joined Lucy in the drawing-room alone. Mrs. B. was trying
on a dress. Between the tunes Lucy chatted with him as freely and
kindly as ever. David was in heaven. When the gentlemen came up from
the dining-room, his joy was interrupted, but not for long. The two
musicians played with so much spirit, and the fiddle, in particular,
was so hearty, that Mrs. Bazalgette proposed a little quiet dance on
the carpet: and this drew the other men away from the piano, and left
David and Lucy to themselves.

She stole a look more than once at his bright eyes and rich ruddy
color, and asked herself, "Is that really the same face we found
looking wan and haggard on the sea? I think I have put an end to that,
at all events." The consciousness of this sort of power is secretly
agreeable to all men and all women, whether they mean to abuse it or
no. She smiled demurely at her mastery over this great heart, and said
to herself, "One would think I was a witch." Later in the evening she
eyed him again, and thought to herself, "If my company and a few
friendly words can make him so happy, it does seem very hard I should
select him to shun for the few days he has to pass in England now; but
then, if I let him think--I don't know what to do with him. Poor Mr.

Miss Fountain did not torment her bolder aspirants with alternate
distance and familiarity. She rode out every fine day with Mr.
Talboys, and was all affability. She sat next Mr. Hardie at dinner,
and was all affability.

Narrative has its limits and, to relate in some sequence the honest
sailor's tortures in love with a tactician, I have necessarily omitted
concurrent incidents of a still tamer character; but the reader may,
by the help of his own intelligence, gather their general results from
the following dialogues, which took place on the afternoon and evening
of the terrible infant's escapade.

Mrs. Bazalgette. "'Well, my dear friend, and how does this
naughty girl of mine use you?"

Mr. Hardie. "As well as I could expect, and better than I

Mrs. B. "Then she must be cleverer than any girl that ever
breathed. However, she does appreciate your conversation; she makes no
secret of it."

Mr. H. "I have so little reason to complain of my reception
that I will make my proposal to her this evening if you think proper."

Mrs. Bazalgette started, and glanced admiration on a man of eight
thousand a year, who came to the point of points without being either
cajoled or spurred thither; but she shook her head. "Prudence, my dear
Mr. Hardie, prudence. Not just yet. You are making advances every day;
and Lucy is an odd girl; with all her apparent tenderness, she is

"That is only virgin modesty," said Hardie, dogmatically.

"Fiddlestick," replied Mrs. B., good-humoredly. "The greatest flirts I
ever met with were virgins, as you call them. I tell you she is not
disposed toward marriage as all other girls are until they have tasted
its bitters."

Mr. H. "If I know anything of character, she will make a very
loving wife."

Mrs. B. (sharply). "That means a nice little negro. Well, I
think she might, when once caught; but she is not caught, and she is
slippery, and, if you are in too great a hurry, she may fly off; but,
above all, we have a dangerous rival in the house just now."

Mr. H. "What, that Mr. Talboys? I don't fear him. He is next
door to a fool."

Mrs. B. "What of that? Fools are dangerous rivals for a lady's
favor. We don't object to fools. It depends on the employment. There
is one office we are apt to select them for."

Mr. H. "A husband, eh?" The lady nodded.

Mrs. B. "I meant to marry a fool in Bazalgette, but I found my
mistake. The wretch had only feigned absurdity. He came out in his
true colors directly."

Mr. H. "A man of sense, eh? The sinister hypocrite! He only
wore the caps and bells to allure unguarded beauty, and doffed them
when he donned the wedding-suit."

Mrs. B. "Yes. But these are reminiscences so sweet that I shall
be glad to return from them to your little affair. Seriously, then,
Mr. Talboys is not to be overlooked, for this reason: he is well

"By whom?"

"By some one who has influence with Lucy--her nearest relation, Mr.

"What! is he nearer to her than you are?"

"Certainly; and she is fond of him to infatuation. One day I did but
hint that selfishness entered into his character (he is eaten up with
it), and that he told fibs; Mr. Hardie, she turned round on me like a
tigress--Oh, how she made me cry!"

The keen hand, Hardie, smiled satirically, and after a pause answered
with consummate coolness: "I believe thus much, that she loves her
uncle, and that his influence, exerted unscrupulously--"

"Which it will be. He may be strong enough to spoil us, even though
he should not be able to carry his own point; now trust me, my dear
friend, Lucy's preference is clearly for you, but I know the weakness
of my own sex, and, above all, I know Lucy Fountain. A mouse can help
a lion in a matter of small threads, too small for his nobler and
grander wisdom to see. Let me be your mouse for once." The little
woman caught the great man with the everlasting hook, and the
discussion ended in "claw me and I will claw thee," and in the mutual
self-complacency that follows that arrangement. _Vide_
"Blackwood," _passim._

Mr. H. "I really think she would accept me if I offered to-day;
but I have so high an opinion of your sagacity and friendship for me,
madam, that I will defer my judgment to yours. I must, however, make
one condition, that you will not displace my plan without suggesting a
distinct course of action for me to adopt in its place."

This smooth proposal, made quietly but with twinkling eye, would have
shut the mouth of nine advisers in ten, but it found the Bazalgette

"Oh, the pleasure of having a man of ability to deal with!" cried she,
with enthusiasm. "This is my advice, then: stay Mr. Fountain out. He
must go in a day or two. His time is up, and I will drop a hint of
fresh visitors expected. When he is gone, warm by degrees, and offer
yourself either in person, or through Bazalgette, or me."

"In person, then, certainly. Of all foibles, employing another pair of
eyes, another tongue, another person to make love for one is surely
the silliest."

"I am quite of your opinion," cried the lady, with a hearty laugh.

Mr. Fountain. "So you are satisfied with the state of things?"

Mr. Talboys. "Yes, I think I have beaten the sailor out of the

"Well, but--this Hardie?"

"Hardie! a shopkeeper. I don't fear him."

"In that case, why not propose? I have been doing the
preliminaries--sounding your praises."

Mr. Talboys (tyrannically). "I propose next Saturday."

Mr. Fountain. "Very well."

Talboys. "In the boat."

"In the boat? What boat? There's no boat."

"I have asked her to sail with me from ---- in a boat; there is a very
nice little lugger-rigged one. I am having the seats padded and
stuffed and lined, and an awning put up, and the boat painted white
and gold."

"Bravo! Cleopatra's galley."

"I assure you she looks forward to it with pleasure; she guesses why I
want to get her into that boat. She hesitated at first, but at last
consented with a look--a conscious look; I can hardly describe it."

"There is no need," cried Fountain. "I know it; the jade turned all

"That is rather exaggerated, but still--"

"But still I have described it--to a hair. Ha! ha!"

Talboys (gravely). "Well, yes."

Mr. Talboys, I am bound to own, was accurate. During the last day or
two Lucy had taken a turn; she had been bewitching; she had flattered
him with tact, but deliciously; had consulted him as to which of his
beautiful dresses she should wear at the masked ball, and, when
pressed to have a sail in the boat he was fitting for her, she ended
by giving a demure assent.

Chorus of male readers, _"Oh, les femmes, les femmes!"_

David Dodd had by nature a healthy as well as a high mind; but the
fever and ague of an absorbing passion were telling on it. Like many a
great heart before his day, his heart was tossed like a ship, and went
up to heaven, and down again to despair, as a girl's humor shifted, or
seemed to shift, for he forgot that there is such a thing as accident,
and that her sex are even more under its dominion than ours. No;
whatever she did must be spontaneous, voluntary, premeditated even,
and her lightest word worth weighing, her lightest action worth
anxious scrutiny as to its cause.

Still he had this about him that the peevish and puny lover has not.
Her bare presence was joy to him. Even when she was surrounded by
other figures, he saw and felt but the one; the rest were nothings.
But when she went out of his sight, some bright illusion seemed to
fade into cold and dark reality. Then it fell on him like a weighty,
icy hammer, that in three days he must go to sea for two years, and
that he was no nearer her heart now than he was at Font Abbey. Was he
even as near?

So the next afternoon he thrust in before Talboys, and put Lucy on her
horse by brute force, and griped her stout little boot, which she had
slyly substituted for a shoe, and touched her glossy habit, and felt a
thrill of bliss unspeakable at his momentary contact with her; but she
was no sooner out of sight than a hollow ache seized the poor fellow,
and he hung his head and sighed.

"I say, capting," said a voice in his ear. He looked up, and there
stood Tom, the stable-boy, with both hands in his pockets. Tom was not
there by his own proper movement, but was agent of Betsy, the

Female servants scan the male guests pretty closely too, without
seeming to do it, and judge them upon lamentably broad
principles--youth, health, size, beauty, and good temper. Oh, the
coarse-minded critics! Hence it befell that in their eyes, especially
after the fiddle business, David was a king compared with his rivals.

"If I look at him too long, I shall eat him," said the cook-maid.

"He is a darling," said the upper housemaid.

Betsy aforesaid often opened a window to have a sly look at him, and
on one of these occasions she inspected him from an upper story at her
leisure. His manner drew her attention. She saw him mount Lucy, and
eye her departing form sadly and wistfully. Betsy glowered and
glowered, and hit the nail on the head, as people will do who are so
absurd as to look with their own eyes, and draw their own conclusions
instead of other people's. After this she took an opportunity, and
said to Tom, with a satirical air, "How are you off for nags, your

"Oh, we have got enough for our corn," replied Tom, on the defensive.

"It seems you can't find one for the captain among you."

"Will you give a kiss if I make you out a liar?"

"Sooner than break my arm. Come, you might, Tom. Now is it reasonable,
him never to get a ride with her, and that useless lot prancing about
with her all day long?"

"Why don't you ride with 'em, capting?"

"I have no horse."

"I have got a horse for you, sir--master's."

"That would be taking a liberty."

"Liberty, sir! no; master would be so pleased if you would but ride
him. He told me so."

"Then saddle him, pray."

"I have a-saddled him. You had better come in the stable-yard,
capting; then you can mount and follow; you will catch them before
they reach the Downs." In another minute David was mounted.

"Do you ride short or long, capting?" inquired Tom, handling the

David wore a puzzled look. "I ride as long as I can stick on;" and he
trotted out of the stable-yard. As Tom had predicted, he caught the
party just as they went off the turn-pike on to the grass. His heart
beat with joy; he cantered in among them. His horse was fresh,
squeaked, and bucked at finding himself on grass and in company, and
David announced his arrival by rolling in among their horses' feet
with the reins tight grasped in his fist. The ladies screamed with
terror. David got up laughing; his horse had hoped to canter away
without him, and now stood facing him and pulling.

"No, ye don't," said David. "I held on to the tiller-ropes though I
did go overboard." Then ensued a battle between David and his horse,
the one wanting to mount, the other anxious to be unencumbered with
sailors. It was settled by David making a vault and sitting on the
animal's neck, on which the ladies screamed again, and Lucy, half
whimpering, proposed to go home.

"Don't think of it," cried David. "I won't be beat by such a small
craft as this--hallo!" for, the horse backing into Talboys, that
gentleman gave him a clandestine cut, and he bolted, and, being a
little hard-mouthed, would gallop in spite of the tiller-ropes. On
came the other nags after him, all misbehaving more or less, so fine a
thing is example. When they had galloped half a mile the ground began
to rise, and David's horse relaxed his pace, whereon David whipped him
industriously, and made him gallop again in spite of remonstrance.

The others drew the rein, and left him to gallop alone. Accordingly,
he made the round of the hill and came back, his horse covered with
lather and its tail trembling. "There," said he to Lucy, with an air
of radiant self-satisfaction, "he clapped on sail without orders from
quarter-deck, so I made him carry it till his bows were under water."

"You will kill my uncle's horse," was the reply, in a chilling tone.

"Heaven forbid!"

"Look at its poor flank beating."

David hung his head like a school-girl rebuked. "But why did he clap
on sail if he could not carry it?" inquired he, ruefully, of his

The others burst out laughing; but Lucy remained grave and silent.

David rode along crestfallen.

Mrs. Bazalgette brought her pony close to him, and whispered, "Never
mind that little cross-patch. _She_ does not care a pin about the
_horse;_ you interrupted her flirtation, that is all."

This piece of consolation soothed David like a bunch of

While Mrs. Bazalgette was consoling David with thorns, Kenealy and
Talboys were quizzing his figure on horseback.

He sat bent like a bow and visibly sticking on: _item,_ he had no
straps, and his trousers rucked up half-way to his knee.

Lucy's attention being slyly drawn to these phenomena by David's
friend Talboys, she smiled politely, though somewhat constrainedly;
but the gentlemen found it a source of infinite amusement during the
whole ride, which, by the way, was not a very long one, for Miss
Fountain soon expressed a wish to turn homeward. David felt guilty, he
scarce knew why.

The promised happiness was wormwood. On dismounting, she went to the
lawn to tend her flowers. David followed her, and said bitterly, "I am
sorry I came to spoil your pleasure."

Miss Fountain made no answer.

"I thought I might have one ride with you, when others have so many."

"Why, of course, Mr. Dodd. If you like to expose yourself to ridicule,
it is no affair of mine." The lady's manner was a happy mixture of
frigidity and crossness. David stood benumbed, and Lucy, having
emptied her flower-pot, glided indoors without taking any farther
notice of him.

David stood rooted to the spot. Then he gave a heavy sigh, and went
and leaned against one of the pillars of the portico, and everything
seemed to swim before his eyes.

Presently he heard a female voice inquire, "Is Miss Lucy at home?" He
looked, and there was a tall, strapping woman in conference with
Henry. She had on a large bonnet with flaunting ribbons, and a bushy
cap infuriated by red flowers. Henry's eye fell upon these
embellishments: "Not at home," chanted he, sonorously.

"Eh, dear," said the woman sadly, "I have come a long way to see her."

"Not at home, ma'am," repeated Henry, like a vocal machine.

"My name is Wilson, young man," said she, persuasively, and the
Amazon's voice was mellow and womanly, spite of her coal-scuttle full
of field poppies. "I am her nurse, and I have not seen her this five
years come Martinmas;" and the Amazon gave a gentle sigh of

"Not at home, ma'am!" rang the inexorable Plush.

But David's good heart took the woman's part. "She is at home, now,"
said he, coming forward. "I saw her go into the house scarce a minute

"Oh, thank you, sir," said Mrs. Wilson. But Mr. Plush's face was
instantly puckered all over with signals, which David not
comprehending, he said, "Can I say a word with you, sir?" and, drawing
him on one side, objected, in an injured and piteous tone. "We are not
at home to such gallimaufry as that; it is as much as my place is
worth to denounce that there bonnet to our ladies."

"Bonnet be d--d," roared David, aloud. "It is her old nurse. Come,
heave ahead;" and he pointed up the stairs.

"Anything to oblige you, captain," said Henry, and sauntered into the
drawing-room; "Mrs. Wilson, ma'am, for Miss Fountain."

"Very well; my niece will be here directly."

Lucy had just gone to her own room for some working materials.

"You had better come to an anchor on this seat, Mrs. Wilson," said

"Thank ye kindly, young gentleman," said Mrs. Wilson; and she settled
her stately figure on the seat. "I have walked a many miles to-day,
along of our horse being lame, and I am a little tired. You are one of
the family, I do suppose?"

"No, I am only a visitor."

"Ain't ye now? Well, thank ye kindly, all the same. I have seen a
worse face than yours, I can tell you," added she; for in the midst of
it all she had found time to read countenances _more mulierurn._

"And I have seen a good many hundred worse than yours, Mrs. Wilson."

Mrs. Wilson laughed. "Twenty years ago, if you had said so, I might
have believed you, or even ten; but, bless you, I am an old woman now,
and can say what I choose to the men. Forty-two next Candlemas."

In the country they call themselves old at forty-two, because they
feel young. In town they call themselves young at forty-two, because
they feel old.

David found that he had fallen in with a gossip; and, being in no
humor for vague chat, he left Mrs. Wilson to herself, with an
assurance that Miss Fountain would be down to her directly.

In leaving her he went into worse company--his own thoughts; they were
inexpressibly sad and bitter. "She hates me, then," said he.
"Everybody is welcome to her at all hours, except me. That lady said
it was because I interrupted her flirtation. Aha! well, I shan't
interrupt her flirtation much longer. I shan't be in her way or
anybody's long. A few short hours, and this bitter day will be
forgotten, and nothing left me but the memory of the kindness she had
for me once, or seemed to have, and the angel face I must carry in my
heart wherever I go, by land or sea. The sea? would to God I was upon
it this minute! I'd rather be at sea than ashore in the dirtiest night
that ever blew."

He had been walking to and fro a good half-hour, deeply dejected and
turning bitter, when, looking in accidentally at the hall door, he
caught sight of Mrs. Wilson sitting all alone where he had left her.
"Why, what on earth is the meaning of that?" thought he; and he went
into the hall and asked Mrs. Wilson how she came to be there all

"That is what I have been asking myself a while past," was the dry

"Have you not seen her?"

"No, sir, I have not seen her, and, to my mind, it is doubtful whether
I am to see her."

"But I say you shall see her."

"No, no, don't put yourself out, sir," said the woman, carelessly; "I
dare say I shall have better luck next time, if I should ever come to
this house again, which it is not very likely." She added gently,
"Young folk are thoughtless; we must not judge them too hardly."

"Thoughtless they may be, but they have no business to be heartless. I
have a great mind to go up and fetch her down."

"Don't ye trouble, sir. It is not worth while putting you about for an
old woman like me." Then suddenly dropping the mask of nonchalance
which women of this class often put on to hide their sensibility, she
said, very, very gravely, and with a sad dignity, that one would not
have expected from her gossip and her finery, "I begin to fear, sir,
that the child I have suckled does not care to know me now she is a
woman grown."

David dashed up the stairs with a red streak on his brow. He burst
into the drawing-room, and there sat Mrs. Bazalgette overlooking, and
Lucy working with a face of beautiful calm. She looked just then so
very like a pure, tranquil Madonna making an altar-cloth, or
something, that David's intention to give her a scolding was withered
in the bud, and he gazed at her surprised and irresolute, and said not
a word.

"Anything the matter?" inquired Mrs. Bazalgette, attracted by the
bruskness of his entry.

"Yes, there is," said David sternly.

Lucy looked up.

"Miss Fountain's old nurse has been sitting in the hall more than half
an hour, and nobody has had the politeness to go near her."

"Oh, is that all? Well, don't look daggers at me. There is Lucy; give
her a lesson in good-breeding, Mr. Dodd." This was said a little
satirically, and rather nettled David.

"Perhaps it does not become me to set up for a teacher of that. I know
my own deficiencies as well as anybody in this house knows them; but
this I know, that, if an old friend walked eight miles to see me, it
would not be good-breeding in me to refuse to walk eight yards to see
her. And, another thing, everybody's time is worth something; if I did
not mean to see her, I would have that much consideration to send down
and tell her so, and not keep the woman wasting her time as well as
her trouble, and vexing her heart into the bargain."

"Where is she, Mr. Dodd?" asked Lucy quickly.

Where is she?" cried David, getting louder and louder. "Why, she is
cooling her heels in the hall this half hour and more. They hadn't the
manners to show her into a room."

"I will go to her, Mr. Dodd," said Lucy, turning a little pale. "Don't
be angry; I will go directly"; and, having said this with an abject
slavishness that formed a miraculous contrast with her late crossness
and imperious chilliness, she put down her work hastily and went out;
only at the door she curved her throat, and cast back, Parthian-like,
a glance of timid reproach, as much as to say, "Need you have been so
very harsh with a creature so obedient as this is?"

That deprecating glance did Mr. Dodd's business. It shot him with
remorse, and made him feel a brute.

"Ha! ha! That is the way to speak to her, Mr. Dodd; the other
gentlemen spoil her."

"It was very unbecoming of me to speak to her harshly like that."

"Pooh! nonsense; these girls like to be ordered about; it saves them
the trouble of thinking for themselves; but what is to become of me?
You have sent off my workwoman."

"I will do her work for her."

"What! can you sew?"

"Where is the sailor that can't sew?"

"Delightful! Then please to sew these two thick ends together. Here is
a large needle."

David whipped out of his pocket a round piece of leather with strings
attached, and fastened it to the hollow of his hand.

"What is that?"

"It is a sailor's thimble." He took the work, held it neatly, and
shoved the needle from behind through the thick material. He worked
slowly and uncouthly, but with the precision that was a part of his
character, and made exact and strong stitches. His task-mistress
looked on, and, under the pretense of minute inspection, brought a
face that was still arch and pretty unnecessarily close to the marine
milliner, in which attitude they were surprised by Mr. Bazalgette,
who, having come in through the open folding-doors, stood looking
mighty sardonic at them both before they were even aware he was in the

Omphale colored faintly, but Hercules gave a cool nod to the newcomer,
and stitched on with characteristic zeal and strict attention to the
matter in hand.

At this Bazalgette uttered a sort of chuckle, at which Mrs. Bazalgette
turned red. David stitched on for the bare life.

"I came to offer to invite you to my study, but--"

"I can't come just now," said David, bluntly; "I am doing a lady's
work for her."

"So I see," retorted Bazalgette, dryly.

"We all dine with the Hunts but you and Mr. Dodd," said Mrs.
Bazalgette, "so you will be _en tete-a-tete_ all the evening."

"All the better for us both." And with this ingratiating remark Mr.
Bazalgette retired whistling.

Mrs. Bazalgette heaved a gentle sigh: "Pity me, my friend," said she,

"What is the matter?" inquired David, rather bluntly.

"Mr. Bazalgette is so harsh to me--ah!--to me, who longs so for
kindness and gentleness that I feel I could give my very soul in
exchange for them."

The bait did not take.

"It is only his manner," said David, good-naturedly. "His heart is all
right; I never met a better. What sort of a knot is that you are
tying? Why, that is a granny's knot;" and he looked morose, at which
she looked amazed; so he softened, and explained to her with
benevolence the rationale of a knot. "A knot is a fastening intended
to be undone again by fingers, and not to come undone without them.
Accordingly, a knot is no knot at all if it jams or if it slips. A
granny's knot does both; when you want to untie it you must pick at it
like taking a nail out of a board, and, for all that, sooner or later
it always comes undone of itself; now you look here;" and he took a
piece of string out of his pocket, and tied her a sailor's knot,
bidding her observe that she could untie it at once, but it could
never come untied of itself. He showed her with this piece of string
half a dozen such knots, none of which could either jam or slip.

"Tie me a lover's knot," suggested the lady, in a whisper.

"Ay! ay!" and he tied her a lover's knot as imperturbably as he had
the reef knot, bowling-knot, fisherman's bend, etc.

"This is very interesting," said Mrs. Bazalgette, ironically. She
thought David might employ a tete-a-tete with a flirt better than
this. "What a time Lucy is gone!"

"All the better."

"Why?" and she looked down in mock confusion.

"Because poor Mrs. Wilson will be glad."

Mrs. Bazalgette was piqued at this unexpected answer. "You seem quite
captivated with this Mrs. Wilson; it was for her sake you took Lucy to
task. Apropos, you need not have scolded her, for she did not know the
woman was in the house."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean Lucy was not in the room when Mrs. Wilson was announced. I
was, but I did not tell her; the all-important circumstance had
escaped my memory. Where are you running to now?"

"Where? why, to ask her pardon, to be sure."

Mrs. B. [Brute!]

David ran down the stairs to look for Lucy, but he found somebody else
instead--his sister Eve, whom the servant had that moment admitted
into the hall. It was "Oh, Eve!" and "Oh, David!" directly, and an
affectionate embrace.

"You got my letter, David?"


"Well, then you will before long. I wrote to tell you to look out for
me; I had better have brought the letter in my pocket. I didn't know I
was coming till just an hour before I started. Mother insisted on my
going to see the last of you. Cousin Mary had invited me to ----, so I
shall see you off, Davy dear, after all. I thought I'd just pop in and
let you know I was in the neighborhood. Mary and her husband are
outside the gate in their four-wheel. I would not let them drive in,
because I want to hear your story, and they would have bothered us."

"Eve, dear, I have no good news for you. Your words have come true. I
have been perplexed, up and down, hot and cold, till I feel sometimes
like going mad. Eve, I cannot fathom her. She is deeper than the
ocean, and more changeable. What am I saying? the sea and the wind;
they are to be read; they have their signs and their warnings; but

"There! there! that is the old song. I tell you it is only a girl--a
creature as shallow as a puddle, and as easy to fathom, as you call
it, only men are so stupid, especially boys. Now just you tell me all
she has said, all she has done, and all she has looked, and I will
turn her inside out like a glove in a minute."

Cheered by this audacious pledge, David pumped upon Eve all that has
trickled on my readers, and some minor details besides, and repeated
Lucy's every word, sweet or bitter, and recalled her lightest
action--_Meminerunt omnia amantes_--and every now and then he
looked sadly into Eve's keen little face for his doom.

She heard him in silence until the last fatal incident, Lucy's
severity on the lawn. Then she put in a question. "Were those her
exact words?"

"Do I ever forget a syllable she says to me?"

"Don't be angry. I forgot what a ninny she has made of you. Well,
David, it is all as plain as my hand. The girl likes you--that is

"The girl likes me? What do you mean? How can you say that? What sign
of liking is there?"

"There are two. She avoids you, and she has been rude to you."

"And those are signs of liking, are they?" said David, bitterly.

"Why, of course they are, stupid. Tell me, now, does she shun this
Captain Keely?"

"Kenealy. No."

"Does she shun Mr. Harvey?"

"Hardie. No."

"Does she shun Mr. Talboys?"

"Oh Eve, you break my heart--no! no! She shuns no one but poor David."

"Now think a little. Here are three on one sort of footing, and one on
a different footing; which is likeliest to be _the man,_ the one
or the three? You have gained a point since we were all together. She
_distinguishes_ you."

"But what a way to distinguish me. It looks more like hatred than
love, or liking either."

"Not to my eye. Why should she shun you? You are handsome, you are
good-tempered, and good company. Why should she be shy of you? She is
afraid of you, that is why; and why is she afraid of you? because she
is afraid of her own heart. That is how I read her. Then, as for her
snubbing you, if her character was like mine, that ought to go for
nothing, for I snub all the world; but this is a little queen for
politeness. I can't think she would go so far out of her way as to
affront anybody unless she had an uncommon respect for him."

"Listen to that, now! I am on my beam-ends."

"Now think a minute, David," said Eve, calmly, ignoring his late
observation; "did you ever know her snub anybody?"

"Never. Did you?"

"No; and she never would, unless she took an uncommon interest in the
person. When a girl likes a man, she thinks she has a right to ill-use
him a little bit; he has got her affection to set against a scratch or
two; the others have not. So she has not the same right to scratch
them. La! listen to me teaching him A B C. Why, David, you know
nothing; it's scandalous."

Eve's confidence communicated itself at last to David; but when he
asked her whether she thought Lucy would consent to be his wife, her
countenance fell in her turn. "That is a very different thing. I am
pretty sure she likes you; how could she help it? but I doubt she will
never go to the altar with you. Don't be angry with me, Davy, dear.
You are in love with her, and to you she is an angel. But I am of her
own sex, and see her as she is; no matter who she likes, she will
never be content to make a bad match, as they call it. She told me so
once with her own lips. But she had no need to tell me; worldliness is
written on her. David, David, you don't know these great houses, nor
the fair-spoken creatures that live in them, with tongues tuned to
sentiment, and mild eyes fixed on the main chance. Their drawing-rooms
are carpeted market-places; you may see the stones bulge through the
flowery pattern; there the ladies sell their faces, the gentlemen
their titles and their money; and much I fear Miss Fountain's hand
will go like the rest--to the highest bidder."

"If I thought so, my love, deep as it is, would turn to contempt; I
would tear her out of my heart, though I tore my heart out of my
body." He added, "I will know what she is before many hours."

"Do, David. Take her off her guard, and make hot love to her; that is
your best chance. It is a pity you are so much in love with her; you
might win her by a surprise if you only liked her in moderation."

"How so, dear Eve?"

"The battle would be more even. Your adoring her gives her the upper
hand of you. She is sure to say 'no' at first, and then I am afraid
you will leave off, instead of going on hotter and hotter. The very
look she will put on to check you will check you, you are so green.
What a pity I can't take your place for half an hour. I would have her
against her will. I would take her by storm. If she said 'no' twenty
times, she should say 'yes' the twenty-first; but you are afraid of
her; fancy being afraid of a woman. Come, David, you must not
shilly-shally, but attack her like a man; and, if she is such a fool
she can't see your merit, forgive her like a man, and forget her like
a man. Come, promise me you will."

"I promise you this, that if I lose her it shall not be for want of
trying to win her; and, if she refuses me because I am not her fancy,
I shall die a bachelor for her sake." Eve sighed. "But if she is the
mercenary thing you take her for--if she owns to liking me, but
prefers money to love, then from that moment she is no more to me than
a picture or a statue, or any other lovely thing that has no soul."

With these determined words he gave his sister his arm, and walked
with her through the grounds to the road where her cousin was waiting
for her.

Lucy found Mrs. Wilson in the hall. "Come into the library, Mrs.
Wilson," said she; "I have only just heard you were here. Won't you
sit down? Are you not well, Mrs. Wilson? You tremble. You are
fatigued, I fear. Pray compose yourself. May I ring for a glass of
wine for you?"

"No, no, Miss Lucy," said the woman, smiling; "it is only along of you
coming to me so sudden, and you so grown. Eh! sure, can this fine
young lady be the little girl I held in my lap but t'other day, as it

There was an agitation and ardor about Mrs. Wilson that, coupled with
the flaming bonnet, made Miss Fountain uneasy. She thought Mrs. Wilson
must be a little cracked, or at least flighty.

"Pray compose yourself, madam," said she, soothingly, but with that
dignity nobody could assume more readily than she could. "I dare say I
am much grown since I last had the pleasure of seeing you; but I have
not outgrown my memory, and I am happy to receive you, or any of our
old servants that knew my dear mother."

"Then I must not look for a welcome," said Mrs. Wilson, with feminine
logic, "for I was never your servant, nor your mamma's." Lucy opened
her eyes, and her face sought an explanation.

"I never took any money for what I gave you, so how could I be a
servant? To see me a dangling of my heels in your hall so long, one
would say I was a servant; but I am not a servant, nor like to be,
please God, unless I should have the ill luck to bury my two boys, as
I have their father. So perhaps the best thing I can do, miss, is to
drop you my courtesy and walk back as I came." The Amazon's manner was
singularly independent and calm, but the tell-tale tears were in the
large gray honest eyes before she ended.

Lucy's natural penetration and habit of attending to faces rather than
words came to her aid. "Wait a minute, Mrs. Wilson," said she; "I
think there is some misunderstanding here. Perhaps the fault is mine.
And yet I remember more than one nursery-maid that was kind enough to
me; but I have heard nothing of them since."

"Their blood is not in your veins as mine is, unless the doctors have
lanced it out."

"I never was bled in my life, if you mean that, madam. But I must ask
you to explain how I can possibly have the--the advantage of
possessing _your_ blood in _my_ veins."

Mrs. Wilson eyed her keenly. "Perhaps I had better tell you the story
from first to last, young lady," said she quietly.

"If you please," said the courtier, mastering a sigh; for in Mrs.
Wilson there was much that promised fluency.

"Well, miss, when you came into the world, your mamma could not nurse
you. I do notice the gentry that eat the fat of the land are none the
better for it; for a poor woman can do a mother's part by her child,
but high-born and high-fed folk can't always; so you had to be brought
up by hand, miss, and it did not agree with you, and that is no great
wonder, seeing it is against nature. Well, my little girl, that was
born just two days after you, died in my arms of convulsion fits when
she was just a month old. She had only just been buried, and me in
bitter grief, when doesn't the doctor call and ask me as a great
favor, would I nurse Mrs. Fountain's child, that was pining for want
of its natural food. I bade him get out of my sight. I felt as if no
woman had a right to have a child living when my little darling was
gone. But my husband, a just man as ever was, said, 'Take a thought,
Mary; the child is really pining, by all accounts.' Well, I would not
listen to him. But next Sunday, after afternoon church, my mother,
that had not said a word till then, comes to me, and puts her hand on
my shoulder with a quiet way she had. 'Mary,' says she, 'I am older
than you, and have known more.' She had buried six of us, poor thing.
Says she, scarce above a whisper, 'Suckle that failing child. It will
be the better for her, and the better for you, Mary, my girl.' Well,
miss, my mother was a woman that didn't interfere every minute, and
seldom gave her reasons; but, if you scorned her advice, you mostly
found them out to your cost; and then she was my mother; and in those
days mothers were more thought of, leastways by us that were women and
had suffered for our children, and so learned to prize the woman that
had suffered for us. 'Well, then,' I said, 'if you say so, mother, I
suppose I didn't ought to gainsay you, on the Lord His day.' For you
see my mother was one that chose her time for speaking--eh! but she
was wise. 'Mother,' says I, 'to oblige you, so be it'; and with that I
fell to crying sore on my mother's neck, and she wasn't long behind
me, you may be sure. Whiles we sat a crying in one another's arms, in
comes John, and goes to speak a word of comfort. 'It is not that,'
says my mother; 'she have given her consent to nurse Mrs. Fountain's
little girl.' 'It is much to her credit,' says he: says he, 'I will
take her up to the house myself.' 'What for?' says I; 'them that
grants the favor has no call to run after them that asks it.' You see,
Miss Lucy, that was my ignorance; we were small farmers, too
independent to be fawning, and not high enough to weed ourselves of
upishness. Your mamma, she was a real lady, so she had no need to
trouble about her dignity; she thought only of her child; and she
didn't send the child, but she came with it herself. Well, she came
into our kitchen, and made her obeisance, and we to her, and mother
dusted her a seat. She was pale-like, and a mother's care was in her
face, and that went to my heart. 'This is very, very kind of you, Mrs.
Wilson,' said she. Those were her words. 'Mayhap it is,' says I; and
my heart felt like lead. Mother made a sign to your mamma that she
should not hurry me. I saw the signal, for I was as quick as she was;
but I never let on I saw it. At last I plucked up a bit of courage,
and I said, 'Let me see it.' So mother took you from the girl that
held you all wrapped up, and mother put you on my knees; and I took a
good look at you. You had the sweetest little face that ever came into
the world, but all peaked and pining for want of nature. With you
being on my knees, my bosom began to yearn over you, it did. 'The
child is starved,' said I; 'that is all its grief. And you did right
to bring it' here.' Your mother clasps her hands, 'Oh, Mrs. Wilson,'
says she, 'God grant it is not too late.' So then I smiled back to
her, and I said, 'Don't you fret; in a fortnight you shan't know her.'
You see I was beginning to feel proud of what I knew I could do for
you. I was a healthy young woman, and could have nursed two children
as easy as some can one. To make a long story short, I gave you the
breast then and there; and you didn't leave us long in doubt whether
cow's milk or mother's milk is God's will for sucklings. Well, your
mamma put her hands before her face, and I saw the tears force their
way between her fingers. So, when she was gone, I said to my mother,
'What was that for?' 'I shan't tell you,' says she. 'Do, mother,' says
I. So she said, 'I wonder at your having to ask; can't you see it was
jealousy-like. Do you think she has not her burden to bear in this
world as well as you? How would you like to see another woman do a
mother's part for a child of yours, and you sit looking on like a
toy-mother? Eh! Miss Lucy, but I was vexed for her at that, and my
heart softened; and I used to take you up to the great house, and
spend nearly the whole day there, not to rob her of her child more
than need be."

"Oh, Mrs. Wilson! Oh, you kind, noble-hearted creature, surely Heaven
will reward you."

"That is past praying for, my dear. Heaven wasn't going to be long in
debt to a farmer's wife, you may be sure; not a day, not an hour. I
had hardly laid you to my breast when you seemed to grow to my heart.
My milk had been tormenting me for one thing. My good mother had
thought of that, I'll go bail; and of course you relieved me. But,
above all, you numbed the wound in my heart, and healed it by degrees:
a part of my love that lay in the churchyard seemed to come back like,
and settle on the little helpless darling that milked me. At whiles I
forgot you were not my own; and even when I remembered it, it was--I
don't know--somehow--as if it wasn't so. I knew in my head you were
none of mine, but what of that? I didn't feel it here. Well, miss, I
nursed you a year and two months, and a finer little girl never was
seen, and such a weight! And, of course, I was proud of you; and often
your dear mother tried to persuade me to take a twenty-pound note, or
ten; but I never would. I could not sell my milk to a queen. I'd
refuse it, or I'd make a gift of it, and the love that goes with it,
which is beyond price. I didn't say so to her in so many words, but I
did use to tell her 'I was as much in her little girl's debt as she
was in mine,' and so I was. But as for a silk gown, and a shawl, and
the like, I didn't say 'No' to them; who ever does?"


"My lamb!"

"Can you ever forgive me for confounding you with a servant? I am so
inexperienced. I knew nothing of all this."

"Oh, Miss Lucy, 'let that flea stick in the wall,' as the saying is."

"But, dear Mrs. Wilson, now only think that your affection for me
should have lasted all these years. You speak as if such tenderness
was common. I fear you are mistaken there: most nurses go away and
think no more of those to whom they have been as mothers in infancy."

"How do you know that, Miss Lucy? Who can tell what passes inside
those poor women that are ground down into slaves, and never dare show
their real hearts to a living creature? Certainly hirelings will be
hirelings, and a poor creature that is forced to sell her breast, and
is bundled off as soon as she has served the grand folks' turn, why,
she behooves to steel herself against nature, and she knows that from
the first; but whether she always does get to harden herself, I take
leave to doubt. Miss Lucy; I knew an unfortunate girl that nursed a
young gentleman, leastways a young nobleman it was, and years after
that I have known her to stand outside the hedge for an hour to catch
a sight of him at play on the lawn among the other children. Ay, and
if she had a penny piece to spare she would go and buy him
sugar-plums, and lay wait for him, and give them him, and he heir to
thousands a year."

"Poor thing! Poor thing!"

"Next to the tie of blood, Miss Lucy, the tie of milk is a binding
affection. When you went to live twenty miles from us, I behooved to
come in the cart and see you from time to time."

"I remember, nurse, I remember."

"When I came to our new farm hard by, you were away; but as soon as I
heard you were come back, it was like a magnet drawing me. I could not
keep away from you."

"Heaven forbid you should; and I will come and see you, dear nurse."

"Will ye, now? Do now. I have got a nice little parlor for you. It is
a very good house for a farm-house; and there we can set and talk at
our ease, and no fine servants, dressed like lords, coming staring

Lucy now proffered a timid request that Mrs. Wilson would take off her
bonnet. "I want to see your good kind face without any ornament."

"Hear to that, now, the darling;" and off came the bonnet.

"Now your cap."

"Well, I don't know; I hadn't time to do my hair as should be before

"What does that matter with me? I must see you without that cap."

"What! don't you like my new cap? Isn't it a pretty cap? Why, I bought
it a purpose to come and see you in."

"Oh, it is a very pretty cap in itself," said the courtier, "but it
does not suit the shape of your face. Oh, what a difference! Ah! now I
see your heart in your face. Will you let me make you a cap?"

"Will you, now, Miss Lucy? I shall be so proud wearing it our house
will scarce hold me."

At this juncture a footman came in with a message from Mrs. Bazalgette
to remind Lucy that they dined out.

"I must go and dress, nurse." She then kissed her and promised to ride
over and visit her at her farm next week, and spend a long time with
her quietly, and so these new old friends parted.

Lucy pondered every word Mrs. Wilson had said to her, and said to
herself: "What a child I am still! How little I know! How feebly I
must have observed!"

The party at dinner consisted of Mr. Bazalgette, David, and Reginald,
who, taking advantage of his mother's absence and Lucy's, had
prevailed on the servants to let him dine with the grown-up ones.
"Halo? urchin," said Mr. Bazalgette, "to what do we owe this honor?"

"Papa," said Reginald, quaking at heart, "if I don't ever begin to be
a man what is to become of me?"

Mr. Reginald did not exhibit his full powers at dinner-time. He was
greatest at dessert. Peaches and apricots fell like blackberries. He
topped up with the ginger and other preserves; then he uttered a sigh,
and his eye dwelt on some candied pineapple he had respited too long.
Putting the pineapple's escape and the sigh together, Mr. Bazalgette
judged that absolute repletion had been attained. "Come, Reginald,"
said he, "run away now, and let Mr. Dodd and me have our talk." Before
the words were even out of his mouth a howl broke from the terrible
infant. He had evidently feared the proposal, and got this dismal howl
all ready.

"Oh, papa! Oh! oh!"

"What is the matter?"

"Don't make me go away with the ladies this time. Jane says I am not a
man because I go away when the ladies go. And Cousin Lucy won't marry
me till I am a man. Oh, papa, do let me be a man this once."

"Let him stay, sir," said David.

"Then he must go and play at the end of the room, and not interrupt
our conversation."

Mr. Reginald consented with rapture. He had got a new puzzle. He could
play at it in a corner; all he wanted was to be able to stop Jane's
mouth, should she ever jeer him again. Reginald thus disposed of, Mr.
Bazalgette courted David to replenish his glass and sit round to the
fire. The fire was huge and glowing, the cut glass sparkled, and the
ruby wine glowed, and even the faces shone, and all invited genial
talk. Yet David, on the eve of his departure and of his fate,
oppressed with suspense and care, was out of the reach of those
genial, superficial influences. He could only just mutter a word of
assent here and there, then relapsed into his reverie, and eyed the
fire thoughtfully, as if his destiny lay there revealed. Mr.
Bazalgette, on the contrary, glowed more and more in manner as well as
face, and, like many of his countrymen, seemed to imbibe friendship
with each fresh glass of port.

At last, under the double influence of his real liking for David and
of the Englishman-thawing Portuguese decoction, he gave his favorite a
singular proof of friendship. It came about as follows. Observing that
he had all the talk to himself, he fixed his eyes with an expression
of paternal benevolence on his companion, and was silent in turn.

David looked up, as we all do when a voice ceases, and saw this mild
gaze dwelling on him.

"Dodd, my boy, you don't say a word; what is the matter?"

"I am very bad company, sir, that is the truth."

"Well, fill your glass, then, and I'll talk for you. I have got
something to say for you, young gentleman." David filled his glass and
forced himself to attend; after a while no effort was needed.

"Dodd," resumed the mature merchant, "I need hardly tell you that I
have a particular regard for you; the reason is, you are a young man
of uncommon merit."

"Mr. Bazalgette! sir! I don't know which way to look when you praise
me like that. It is your goodness; you overrate me."

"No, I don't. I am a judge of men. I have seen thousands, and seen
them too close to be taken in by their outside. You are the only one
of my wife's friends that ever had the run of my study. What do you
think of that, now?"

"I am very proud of it, sir; that is all I can find to say."

"Well, young man, that same good opinion I have of you induces me to
do something else, that I have never done for any of your

Mr. Bazalgette paused. David's heart beat. Quick as lightning it
darted through his mind, "He is going to ask a favor for me.
Promotion? Why not? He is a merchant. He has friends in the Company.'"

"I am going to interfere in your concerns, Dodd."

"You are very good, sir."

"Well, perhaps I am. I have to overcome a natural reluctance. But you
are worth the struggle. I shall therefore go against the usages of the
world, which I don't care a button for, and my own habits, which I
care a great deal for, and give you, humph--a piece of friendly

David looked blank.

"Dodd, my boy, you are playing the fool in this house."

David looked blanker.

"It is not your fault; you are led into it by one of those sweet
creatures that love to reduce men to the level of their own wisdom.
You are in love, or soon will be."

David colored all over like a girl, and his face of distress was
painful to see.

"You need not look so frightened; I am your friend, not your enemy.
And do you really think others besides me have not seen what is going
on? Now, Dodd, my dear fellow, I am an old man, and you are a young
one. Moreover, I understand the lady, and you don't."

"That is true, sir; I feel I cannot fathom her."

"Poor fellow! Well, but I have known her longer than you."

"That is true, sir."

"And on closer terms of intimacy."

"No doubt, sir."

"Then listen to me. She is all very charming outside, and full of
sensibility outside, but she has no more real feeling than a fish. She
will go a certain length with you, or with any agreeable young man,
but she can always stop where it suits her. No lady in England values
position and luxury more than she does, or is less likely to sacrifice
them to love, a passion she is incapable of. Here, then, is a game at
which you run all the risk. No! leave her to puppies like Kenealy;
they are her natural prey. You must not play such a heart as yours
against a marble taw. It is not an even stake."

David groaned audibly. His first thought was, "Eve says the same of
her." His second, "All the world is against her, poor thing."

"Is she to bear the blame of my folly?"

"Why not? She is the cause of your folly. It began with her setting
her cap at you."

"No, sir, you do her wrong. She is modesty itself."

"Ta! ta! ta! you are a sailor, green as sea-weed."

"Mr. Bazalgette, as I am a gentleman, she never has encouraged me to
love her as I do."

"Your statement, sir, is one which becomes a gentleman--under the
circumstances. But I happen to have watched her. It is a thing I have
taken the trouble to do for some time past. It was my interest in you
that made me curious, and apprehensive--on your account."

"Then, if you have watched her, you must have seen her avoid me."

"Pooh! pooh! that was drawing the bait; these old stagers can all do

"Old stagers!" and David looked as if blasphemy had been uttered.
Bazalgette wore a grin of infinite irony.

"Don't be shocked," said he; "of course, I mean old in flirtation; no
lady is old in years."

"_She_ is not, at all events."

"It is agreed. There are legal fictions, and why not social ones?"

"I don't understand you, sir; and, in truth, it is all a puzzle to me.
You don't seem angry with me?"

"Why, of course not, my poor fellow; I pity you."

"Yet you discourage me, Mr. Bazalgette."

"But not from any selfish motive. I want to spare you the
mortification that is in store for you. Remember, I have seen the
_end_ of about a dozen of you."

"Good Heavens! And what is the end of us?"

"The cold shoulder without a day's warning, and another fool set in
your place, and the house door slammed in your face, etc., etc. Oh,
with her there is but one step from flirtation to detestation. Not one
of her flames is her friend at this moment."

David hung his head, and his heart turned sick; there was a silence of
some seconds, during which Bazalgette eyed him keenly. "Sir," said
David, at last, "your words go through me like a knife."

"Never mind. It is a friendly surgeon's knife, not an assassin's."

"Yet you say it is only out of regard for me you warn me so against

"I repeat it."

"Then, sir, if, by Heaven's mercy, you should be mistaken in her
character--if, little as I deserve it, I should succeed in winning her
regard--I might reckon on your permission--on your kind--support?"

"Hardly," said Mr. Bazalgette, hastily. He then stared at the honest
earnest face that was turned toward him. "Well," said he, "you modest
gentlemen have a marvelous fund of assurance at bottom. No, sir; with
the exception of this piece of friendly advice I shall be strictly
neutral. In return for it, if you should succeed, be so good as to
take her out of the house, that is the only stipulation I venture to

"I should be sure to do that," cried David, lifting his eyes to Heaven
with rapture; "but I shall not have the chance."

"So I keep telling you. You might as well hope to tempt a statue of
the Goddess Flirtation. She infinitely prefers wealth and vanity to
anything, even to vice."

"Vice, sir! is that a term for us to apply to a lady like her, whom we
are all unworthy to approach?" and David turned very red.

"Well, _you_ need not quarrel with _me_ about her, as
_I_ don't with _you."_

"Quarrel with you, dear sir? I hope I feel your kindness, and know my
duty better; but, sir, I am agitated, and my heart is troubled; and
surely you go beyond reason. She is not old enough to have had so many

"Humph! she has made good use of her time."

"Even could I believe that she, who seems to me an angel, is a
coquette, still she cannot be hard and heartless as you describe her.
It is impossible; it does not belong to her years."

"You keep harping on her age, Dodd. Do you know her age? If you do,
you have the advantage of me. I have not seen her baptismal register.
Have you?"

"No, sir, but I know what she says is her age."

"That is only evidence of what is not her age."

"But there is her face, sir; that is evidence."

"You have never seen her face; it is always got up to deceive the

"I have seen it at the dawn, before any of you were up."

"What is that? Halo! the deuce--where?"

"In the garden."

"In the garden? Oh, she does not jump off her down-bed on to a
flowerbed. She had been an hour at work on that face before ever the
sun or you got leave to look on it."

"I'll stake my head I tell her age within a year, Mr. Bazalgette."

"No you will not, nor within ten years."

"That is soon seen. I call her one-and-twenty."

"One-and-twenty! You are mad! Why, she has had a child that would be
fifteen now if it had lived."

"Miss Lucy? A child? Fifteen years? What on earth do you mean?"

"What do _you_ mean? What has Miss Lucy to do with it? You know
very well it is MY WIFE I am warning you against, not that innocent

At this David burst out in his turn. "YOUR WIFE! and have you so vile
an opinion of me as to think I would eat your bread and tempt your
wife under your roof. Oh, Mr. Bazalgette, is this the esteem you
profess for me?"

"Go to the Devil!" shouted Bazalgette, in double ire at his own
blunder and at being taken to task by his own Telemachus; he added,
but in a very different tone, "You are too good for this world."

The best things we say miss fire in conversation; only second-rate
shots hit the mind through the ear. This, we will suppose, is why
David derived no amusement or delectation from Mr. Bazalgette's
inadvertent but admirable _bon-mot._

"Go to the Devil! you are too good for this world."

He merely rose, and said gravely, "Heaven forgive you your unjust
suspicions, and God bless you for your other kindness. Good-by!"

"Why, where on earth are you going?"

"To stow away my things; to pack up, as they call it."

"Come back! come back! why, what a terrible fellow you are; you make
no allowances for metaphors. There, forgive me, and shake hands. Now
sit down. I esteem you more than ever. You have come down from another
age and a much better one than this. Now let us be calm, quiet,
sensible, tranquil. Hallo!" (starting up in agitation), "a sudden
light bursts on me. You are in love, and not with my wife; then it is
my ward."

"It is too late to deny it, sir."

"That is far more serious than the other," said Bazalgette, very
gravely; "the old one would have been sure to cure you of your fancy
for her, soon or late, but Lucy! Now, just look at that young buffer's
eyes glaring at us like a pair of saucers."

"I am not listening, papa; I haven't heard a word you and Mr. Dodd
have said about naughty ladies. I have been such a good boy, minding
my puzzle."

"I wish he may not have been minding ours instead," muttered his sire,
and rang the bell, and ordered the servant to take away Master
Reginald and bring coffee.

The pair sipped their coffee in dead silence. It was broken at last by
David saying sadly and a little bitterly, "I fear, sir, your good
opinion of me does not go the length of letting me come into your

The merchant seemed during the last five minutes to have undergone
some starching process, so changed was his whole manner now; so
distant, dignified and stiff. "Mr. Dodd," said he, "I am in a
difficult position. Insincerity is no part of my character. When I say
I have a regard for a man, I mean it. But I am the young lady's
guardian, sir. She is a minor, though on the verge of her majority,
and I cannot advise her to a match which, in the received sense, would
be a very bad one for her. On the other hand, there are so many
insuperable obstacles between you and her, that I need not combat my
personal sentiments so far as to act against you; it would, indeed,
hardly be just, as I have surprised your secret unfairly, though with
no unfair intention. My promise not to act hostilely implies that I
shall not reveal this conversation to Mrs. Bazalgette; if I did I
should launch the deadliest of all enemies--irritated vanity--upon
you, for she certainly looks on you as her plaything, not her niece's;
and you would instantly be the victim of her spite, and of her
influence over Lucy, if she discovered you have the insolence to
escape her, and pursue another of her sex. I shall therefore keep
silence and neutrality. Meantime, in the character, not of her
guardian, but of your friend, I do strongly advise you not to think
seriously of her. She will never marry you. She is a good, kind,
amiable creature, but still she is a girl of the world--has all its
lessons at her finger ends. Bless your heart, these meek beauties are
as ambitious as Lucifer, and this one's ambition is fed by constant
admiration, by daily matrimonial discussions with the old stager, and
I believe by a good offer every now and then, which she refuses,
because she is waiting for a better. Come, now, it only wants one good

David interrupted him mildly: "Then, sir," said he, thoughtfully; "the
upshot is that, if she says 'Yes,' you won't say 'No.'"

The mature merchant stared.

"If," said he, and with this short sentence and a sardonic grin he
broke off trying

"To fetter flame with flaxen band."

So nothing more was said or done that evening worth recording.

The next day, being the day of the masquerade, was devoted by the
ladies to the making, altering, and trying on of dresses in their
bedrooms. This turned the downstairs rooms so dark and unlovely that
the gentlemen deserted the house one after the other. Kenealy and
Talboys rode to see a cricket match ten miles off. Hardie drove into
the town of ---- and David paced the gravel walk in hopes that by
keeping near the house he might find Lucy alone, for he was determined
to know his fate and end his intolerable suspense.

He had paced the walk about an hour when fortune seemed to favor his
desires. Lucy came out into the garden. David's heart beat violently.
To his great annoyance, Mr. Fountain followed her out of the house and
called her. She stopped, and he joined her; and very soon uncle and
niece were engaged in a conversation which seemed so earnest that
David withdrew to another part of the garden not to interfere with

He waited, and waited, and waited till they should separate; but no,
they walked more and more slowly, and the conversation seemed to
deepen in interest. David chafed. If he had known the nature of that
conversation he would have writhed with torture as well as fretted
with impatience, for there the hand of her he loved was sought in
marriage before his eyes, and within a few steps of him. On such
threads hangs human life. Had he been at the hall door instead of in
the garden, he might have anticipated Mr. Fountain. As it was, Mr.
Fountain stole the march on him.


TO-MORROW Lucy had agreed to sail, and in the boat Mr. Talboys was to
ask and win her band. But from the first Mr. Fountain had never a
childlike confidence in the scheme, and his understanding kept
rebelling more and more.

"'The man that means to pop, pops," said he; "one needn't go to
sea--to pop. Terra firma is poppable on, if it is nothing else. These
young fellows are like novices with a gun: the bird must be in a
position or they can't shoot it--with their pop-guns. The young sparks
in my day could pop them down flying. We popped out walking, popped
out riding, popped dancing, popped psalm-singing. Talboys could not
pop on horseback, because the lady's pony fidgeted, not his. Well, it
will be so to-morrow. The boat will misbehave, or the wind will be
easterly, and I shall be told southerly is the popping wind. The truth
is, he is faint-hearted. His sires conquered England, and he is afraid
of a young girl. I'll end this nonsense. He shall pop by proxy."

In pursuance of this resolve, seeing his niece pass through the hall
with her garden hat on, he called to her that he would get his hat and
join her. They took one turn together almost in silence. Fountain was
thinking how he should best open the subject, and Lucy waiting after
her own fashion, for she saw by the old man's manner he had something
to say to her.

"Lucy, my dear, I leave you in a day or two."

"So soon, uncle."

"And it depends on you whether I am to go away a happy or a
disappointed old man."

At these words, to which she was too cautious to reply in words, Lucy
wore a puzzled air; but underneath it a keen observer might have
noticed her cheek pale a little, a very little, and a quiver of
suppressed agitation pass over her like a current of air in summer
over a smooth lake.

Receiving no answer, Mr. Fountain went on to remind her that he was
her only kinsman, Mrs. Bazalgette being her relation by half-blood
only; and told her that, looking on himself as her father, he had
always been anxious to see her position in life secured before his own

"I have been ambitious for you, my dear," said he, "but not more so
than your beauty and accomplishments, and your family name entitle us
to be. Well, my ambition for you and my affection for you are both
about to be gratified; at least, it now rests with you to gratify
them. Will you be Mrs. Talboys?"

Lucy looked down, and said demurely, "What a question for a third
person to put!"

"Should I put it if I had not a right?"

"I don't know."'

"You ought to know, Lucy."

"Mr. Talboys has authorized you, dear?"

"He has."'

"Then this is a formal proposal from Mr. Talboy's?"

"Of course it is," said the old gentleman, fearlessly, for Lucy's
manner of putting these questions was colorless; nobody would have
guessed what she was at.

She now drew her arm round her uncle's neck, and kissed him, which
made him exult prematurely.

"Then, dear uncle," said she lovingly, "you must tell Mr. Talboys that
I thank him for the honor he does me, and that I decline."

"Accept, you mean?"

"No I don't--ha! ha!"

Her laugh died rapidly away at sight of the effect of her words. Mr.
Fountain started, and his face turned red and pale alternately.

"Refuse my friend--refuse Talboys in that way? Thoughtless girl, you
don't know what you are doing. His family is all but noble. What am I
saying? noble? why, half the House of Peers is sprung from the dregs
of the people, and got there either by pettifogging in the courts of
law, or selling consciences in the Lower House; and of the other half,
that are gentlemen of descent, not two in twenty can show a pedigree
like Talboys. And with that name a princely mansion--antiquity stamped
on it--stands in its own park, in the middle of its vast estates, with
title-deeds in black-letter, girl."

"But, uncle, all this is encumbered--"

"It is false, whoever told you so. There is not a mortgage on any part
of it--only a few trifling copyholds and pepper-corn rents."

"You misunderstand me; I was going to say, it is encumbered with a
gentleman for whom I could never feel affection, because he does not
inspire me with respect."

"Nonsense! he inspires universal respect."

"It must be by his estates, then, not his character. You know, uncle,
the world is more apt to ask, 'What _has_ he, then what _is_

"He _is_ a polished gentleman."

"But not a well-bred one."

"The best bred I ever saw.

"Then you never looked in a glass, dear. No, dear uncle, I will tell
you. Mr. Talboys has seen the world, has kept good society, is at his
ease (a great point), and is perfect in externals. But his good
manners are--what shall I say?--coat deep. His politeness is not proof
against temptation, however petty. The reason is, it is only a
spurious politeness. Real politeness is founded and built on the
golden rule, however delicate and artificial its superstructure may
be. But, leaving out of the question the politeness of the heart, he
has not in any sense the true art of good-breeding; he has only the
common traditions. Put him in a novel situation, with no rules and
examples to guide him, he would be maladroit as a school-boy. He is
just the counterpart of Mr. Dodd in that respect. Poor Mr. Dodd is
always shocking one by violating the commonest rules of society; but
every now and then he bursts out with a flash of natural courtesy so
bright, so refined, so original, yet so worthy of imitation, that you
say to yourself this is genius--the genius of good-breeding."

Mr. Fountain chafed with impatience during this tirade, in which he
justly suspected an attempt to fritter away a serious discussion.

"Come off your hobby, Lucy," cried he, "and speak to me like a woman
and like my niece. If this is your objection, overcome it for my

"I would, dear," said Lucy, "but it is only one of my objections, and
by no means the most serious."

Book of the day: