Part 2 out of 15
rise and fall of her white dress.
It was Blanche's turn to select the next player .
In some preliminary uncertainty as to her choice she looked about
among the guests, and caught the eye of a gentleman in the front
ranks. He stood side by side with Sir Patrick--a striking
representative of the school that is among us--as Sir Patrick was
a striking representative of the school that has passed away.
The modern gentleman was young and florid, tall and strong. The
parting of his curly Saxon locks began in the center of his
forehead, traveled over the top of his head, and ended,
rigidly-central, at the ruddy nape of his neck. His features were
as perfectly regular and as perfectly unintelligent as human
features can be. His expression preserved an immovable composure
wonderful to behold. The muscles of his brawny arms showed
through the sleeves of his light summer coat. He was deep in the
chest, thin in the flanks, firm on the legs--in two words a
magnificent human animal, wrought up to the highest pitch of
physical development, from head to foot. This was Mr. Geoffrey
Delamayn--commonly called "the honorable;" and meriting that
distinction in more ways than one. He was honorable, in the first
place, as being the son (second son) of that once-rising
solicitor, who was now Lord Holchester. He was honorable, in the
second place, as having won the highest popular distinction which
the educational system of modern England can bestow--he had
pulled the stroke-oar in a University boat-race. Add to this,
that nobody had ever seen him read any thing but a newspaper, and
that nobody had ever known him to be backward in settling a
bet--and the picture of this distinguished young Englishman will
be, for the present, complete.
Blanche's eye naturally rested on him. Blanche's voice naturally
picked him out as the first player on her side.
"I choose Mr. Delamayn," she said.
As the name passed her lips the flush on Miss Silvester's face
died away, and a deadly paleness took its place. She made a
movement to leave the summer-house--checked herself abruptly--and
laid one hand on the back of a rustic seat at her side. A
gentleman behind her, looking at the hand, saw it clench itself
so suddenly and so fiercely that the glove on it split. The
gentleman made a mental memorandum, and registered Miss Silvester
in his private books as "the devil's own temper."
Meanwhile Mr. Delamayn, by a strange coincidence, took exactly
the same course which Miss Silvester had taken before him. He,
too, attempted to withdraw from the coming game.
"Thanks very much," he said. "Could you additionally honor me by
choosing somebody else? It's not in my line."
Fifty years ago such an answer as this, addressed to a lady,
would have been considered inexcusably impertinent. The social
code of the present time hailed it as something frankly amusing.
The company laughed. Blanche lost her temper.
"Can't we interest you in any thing but severe muscular exertion,
Mr. Delamayn?" she asked, sharply. "Must you always be pulling in
a boat-race, or flying over a high jump? If you had a mind, you
would want to relax it. You have got muscles instead. Why not
relax _ them?"_
The shafts of Miss Lundie's bitter wit glided off Mr. Geoffrey
Delamayn like water off a duck's back.
"Just as you please," he said, with stolid good-humor. "Don't be
offended. I came here with ladies--and they wouldn't let me
smoke. I miss my smoke. I thought I'd slip away a bit and have
it. All right! I'll play."
"Oh! smoke by all means!" retorted Blanche. "I shall choose
somebody else. I won't have you!"
The honorable young gentleman looked unaffectedly relieved. The
petulant young lady turned her back on him, and surveyed the
guests at the other extremity of the summer-house.
"Who shall I choose?" she said to herself.
A dark young man--with a face burned gipsy-brown by the sun; with
something in his look and manner suggestive of a roving life, and
perhaps of a familiar acquaintance with the sea--advanced shyly,
and said, in a whisper:
Blanche's face broke prettily into a charming smile. Judging from
appearances, the dark young man had a place in her estimation
peculiarly his own.
"You!" she said, coquettishly. "You are going to leave us in an
He ventured a step nearer. "I am coming back," he pleaded, "the
day after to-morrow."
"You play very badly!"
"I might improve--if you would teach me."
"Might you? Then I will teach you!" She turned, bright and rosy,
to her step-mother. "I choose Mr. Arnold Brinkworth," she said.
Here, again, there appeared to be something in a name unknown to
celebrity, which nevertheless produced its effect--not, this
time, on Miss Silvester, but on Sir Patrick. He looked at Mr.
Brinkworth with a sudden interest and curiosity. If the lady of
the house had not claimed his attention at the moment he would
evidently have spoken to the dark young man.
But it was Lady Lundie's turn to choose a second player on her
side. Her brother-in-law was a person of some importance; and she
had her own motives for ingratiating herself with the head of the
family. She surprised the whole company by choosing Sir Patrick.
"Mamma!" cried Blanche. "What can you be thinking of? Sir Patrick
won't play. Croquet wasn't discovered in his time."
Sir Patrick never allowed "his time" to be made the subject of
disparaging remarks by the younger generation without paying the
y ounger generation back in its own coin.
"In _my_ time, my dear," he said to his niece, "people were
expected to bring some agreeable quality with them to social
meetings of this sort. In your time you have dispensed with all
that. Here," remarked the old gentleman, taking up a croquet
mallet from the table near him, "is one of the qualifications for
success in modern society. And here," he added, taking up a ball,
"is another. Very good. Live and learn. I'll play! I'll play!"
Lady Lundie (born impervious to all sense of irony) smiled
"I knew Sir Patrick would play," she said, "to please me,"
Sir Patrick bowed with satirical politeness.
"Lady Lundie," he answered, "you read me like a book." To the
astonishment of all persons present under forty he emphasized
those words by laying his hand on his heart, and quoting poetry.
"I may say with Dryden," added the gallant old gentleman:
" 'Old as I am, for ladies' love unfit,
The power of beauty I remember yet.' "
Lady Lundie looked unaffectedly shocked. Mr. Delamayn went a step
farther. He interfered on the spot--with the air of a man who
feels himself imperatively called upon to perform a public duty.
"Dryden never said that," he remarked, "I'll answer for it."
Sir Patrick wheeled round with the help of his ivory cane, and
looked Mr. Delamayn hard in the face.
"Do you know Dryden, Sir, better than I do?" he asked.
The Honorable Geoffrey answered, modestly, "I should say I did. I
have rowed three races with him, and we trained together."
Sir Patrick looked round him with a sour smile of triumph.
"Then let me tell you, Sir," he said, "that you trained with a
man who died nearly two hundred years ago."
Mr. Delamayn appealed, in genuine bewilderment, to the company
"What does this old gentleman mean?" he asked. "I am speaking of
Tom Dryden, of Corpus. Every body in the University knows _him._"
"I am speaking," echoed Sir Patrick, "of John Dryden the Poet.
Apparently, every body in the University does _not_ know _him!"_
Mr. Delamayn answered, with a cordial earnestness very pleasant
"Give you my word of honor, I never heard of him before in my
life! Don't be angry, Sir. _I'm_ not offended with _you._" He
smiled, and took out his brier-wood pipe. "Got a light?" he
asked, in the friendliest possible manner.
Sir Patrick answered, with a total absence of cordiality:
"I don't smoke, Sir."
Mr. Delamayn looked at him, without taking the slightest offense:
"You don't smoke!" he repeated. "I wonder how you get through
your spare time?"
Sir Patrick closed the conversation:
"Sir," he said, with a low bow, "you _may_ wonder."
While this little skirmish was proceeding Lady Lundie and her
step-daughter had organized the game; and the company, players
and spectators, were beginning to move toward the lawn. Sir
Patrick stopped his niece on her way out, with the dark young man
in close attendance on her.
"Leave Mr. Brinkworth with me," he said. "I want to speak to
Blanche issued her orders immediately. Mr. Brinkworth was
sentenced to stay with Sir Patrick until she wanted him for the
game. Mr. Brinkworth wondered, and obeyed.
During the exercise of this act of authority a circumstance
occurred at the other end of the summer-house. Taking advantage
of the confusion caused by the general movement to the lawn, Miss
Silvester suddenly placed herself close to Mr. Delamayn.
"In ten minutes," she whispered, "the summer-house will be empty.
Meet me here."
The Honorable Geoffrey started, and looked furtively at the
visitors about him.
"Do you think it's safe?" he whispered back.
The governess's sensitive lips trembled, with fear or with anger,
it was hard to say which.
"I insist on it!" she answered, and left him.
Mr. Delamayn knitted his handsome eyebrows as he looked after
her, and then left the summer-house in his turn. The rose-garden
at the back of the building was solitary for the moment. He took
out his pipe and hid himself among the roses. The smoke came from
his mouth in hot and hasty puffs. He was usually the gentlest of
masters--to his pipe. When he hurried that confidential servant,
it was a sure sign of disturbance in the inner man.
CHAPTER THE THIRD.
BUT two persons were now left in the summer-house--Arnold
Brinkworth and Sir Patrick Lundie.
"Mr. Brinkworth," said the old gentleman, "I have had no
opportunity of speaking to you before this; and (as I hear that
you are to leave us, to-day) I may find no opportunity at a later
time. I want to introduce myself. Your father was one of my
dearest friends--let me make a friend of your father's son."
He held out his hands, and mentioned his name.
Arnold recognized it directly. "Oh, Sir Patrick!" he said,
warmly, "if my poor father had only taken your advice--"
"He would have thought twice before he gambled away his fortune
on the turf; and he might have been alive here among us, instead
of dying an exile in a foreign land," said Sir Patrick, finishing
the sentence which the other had begun. "No more of that! Let's
talk of something else. Lady Lundie wrote to me about you the
other day. She told me your aunt was dead, and had left you heir
to her property in Scotland. Is that true?--It is?--I
congratulate you with all my heart. Why are you visiting here,
instead of looking after your house and lands? Oh! it's only
three-and-twenty miles from this; and you're going to look after
it to-day, by the next train? Quite right. And--what?
what?--coming back again the day after to-morrow? Why should you
come back? Some special attraction here, I suppose? I hope it's
the right sort of attraction. You're very young--you're exposed
to all sorts of temptations. Have you got a solid foundation of
good sense at the bottom of you? It is not inherited from your
poor father, if you have. You must have been a mere boy when he
ruined his children's prospects. How have you lived from that
time to this? What were you doing when your aunt's will made an
idle man of you for life?"
The question was a searching one. Arnold answered it, without the
slightest hesitation; speaking with an unaffected modesty and
simplicity which at once won Sir Patrick's heart.
"I was a boy at Eton, Sir," he said, "when my father's losses
ruined him. I had to leave school, and get my own living; and I
have got it, in a roughish way, from that time to this. In plain
English, I have followed the sea--in the merchant-service."
"In plainer English still, you met adversity like a brave lad,
and you have fairly earned the good luck that has fallen to you,"
rejoined Sir Patrick. "Give me your hand--I have taken a liking
to you. You're not like the other young fellows of the present
time. I shall call you 'Arnold.' You mus'n't return the
compliment and call me 'Patrick,' mind--I'm too old to be treated
in that way. Well, and how do you get on here? What sort of a
woman is my sister-in-law? and what sort of a house is this?"
Arnold burst out laughing.
"Those are extraordinary questions for you to put to me," he
said. "You talk, Sir, as if you were a stranger here!"
Sir Patrick touched a spring in the knob of his ivory cane. A
little gold lid flew up, and disclosed the snuff-box hidden
inside. He took a pinch, and chuckled satirically over some
passing thought, which he did not think it necessary to
communicate to his young friend.
"I talk as if I was a stranger here, do I?" he resumed. "That's
exactly what I am. Lady Lundie and I correspond on excellent
terms; but we run in different grooves, and we see each other as
seldom as possible. My story," continued the pleasant old man,
with a charming frankness which leveled all differences of age
and rank between Arnold and himself, "is not entirely unlike
yours; though I _am_ old enough to be your grandfather. I was
getting my living, in my way (as a crusty old Scotch lawyer),
when my brother married again. His death, without leaving a son
by either of his wives, gave me a lift in the world, like you.
Here I am (to my own sincere regret) the present baronet. Yes, to
my sincere regret! All sorts of responsibilities which I never
bargained for are thrust on my shou lders. I am the head of the
family; I am my niece's guardian; I am compelled to appear at
this lawn-party--and (between ourselves) I am as completely out
of my element as a man can be. Not a single familiar face meets
_me_ among all these fine people. Do you know any body here?"
"I have one friend at Windygates," said Arnold. "He came here
this morning, like you. Geoffrey Delamayn."
As he made the reply, Miss Silvester appeared at the entrance to
the summer-house. A shadow of annoyance passed over her face when
she saw that the place was occupied. She vanished, unnoticed, and
glided back to the game.
Sir Patrick looked at the son of his old friend, with every
appearance of being disappointed in the young man for the first
"Your choice of a friend rather surprises me," he said.
Arnold artlessly accepted the words as an appeal to him for
"I beg your pardon, Sir--there's nothing surprising in it," he
returned. "We were school-fellows at Eton, in the old times. And
I have met Geoffrey since, when he was yachting, and when I was
with my ship. Geoffrey saved my life, Sir Patrick," he added, his
voice rising, and his eyes brightening with honest admiration of
his friend. "But for him, I should have been drowned in a
boat-accident. Isn't _that_ a good reason for his being a friend
"It depends entirely on the value you set on your life," said Sir
"The value I set on my life?" repeated Arnold. "I set a high
value on it, of course!"
"In that case, Mr. Delamayn has laid you under an obligation."
"Which I can never repay!"
"Which you will repay one of these days, with interest--if I know
any thing of human nature," answered Sir Patrick.
He said the words with the emphasis of strong conviction. They
were barely spoken when Mr. Delamayn appeared (exactly as Miss
Silvester had appeared) at the entrance to the summer-house. He,
too, vanished, unnoticed--like Miss Silvester again. But there
the parallel stopped. The Honorable Geoffrey's expression, on
discovering the place to be occupied, was, unmistakably an
expression of relief.
Arnold drew the right inference, this time, from Sir Patrick's
language and Sir Patrick's tones. He eagerly took up the defense
of his friend.
"You said that rather bitterly, Sir," he remarked. "What has
Geoffrey done to offend you?"
"He presumes to exist--that's what he has done," retorted Sir
Patrick. "Don't stare! I am speaking generally. Your friend is
the model young Briton of the present time. I don't like the
model young Briton. I don't see the sense of crowing over him as
a superb national production, because he is big and strong, and
drinks beer with impunity, and takes a cold shower bath all the
year round. There is far too much glorification in England, just
now, of the mere physical qualities which an Englishman shares
with the savage and the brute. And the ill results are beginning
to show themselves already! We are readier than we ever were to
practice all that is rough in our national customs, and to excuse
all that is violent and brutish in our national acts. Read the
popular books--attend the popular amusements; and you will find
at the bottom of them all a lessening regard for the gentler
graces of civilized life, and a growing admiration for the
virtues of the aboriginal Britons!"
Arnold listened in blank amazement. He had been the innocent
means of relieving Sir Patrick's mind of an accumulation of
social protest, unprovided with an issue for some time past. "
How hot you are over it, Sir!" he exclaimed, in irrepressible
Sir Patrick instantly recovered himself. The genuine wonder
expressed in the young man's face was irresistible.
"Almost as hot," he said, "as if I was cheering at a boat-race,
or wrangling over a betting-book--eh? Ah, we were so easily
heated when I was a young man! Let's change the subject. I know
nothing to the prejudice of your friend, Mr. Delamayn. It's the
cant of the day," cried Sir Patrick, relapsing again, "to take
these physically-wholesome men for granted as being
morally-wholesome men into the bargain. Time will show whether
the cant of the day is right.--So you are actually coming back to
Lady Lundie's after a mere flying visit to your own property? I
repeat, that is a most extraordinary proceeding on the part of a
landed gentleman like you. What's the attraction here--eh?"
Before Arnold could reply Blanche called to him from the lawn.
His color rose, and he turned eagerly to go out. Sir Patrick
nodded his head with the air of a man who had been answered to
his own entire satisfaction. "Oh!" he said, "_that's_ the
attraction, is it?"
Arnold's life at sea had left him singularly ignorant of the ways
of the world on shore. Instead of taking the joke, he looked
confused. A deeper tinge of color reddened his dark cheeks. "I
didn't say so," he answered, a little irritably.
Sir Patrick lifted two of his white, wrinkled old fingers, and
good-humoredly patted the young sailor on the cheek.
"Yes you did," he said. "In red letters."
The little gold lid in the knob of the ivory cane flew up, and
the old gentleman rewarded himself for that neat retort with a
pinch of snuff. At the same moment Blanche made her appearance on
"Mr. Brinkworth," she said, "I shall want you directly. Uncle,
it's your turn to play."
"Bless my soul!" cried Sir Patrick, "I forgot the game." He
looked about him, and saw his mallet and ball left waiting on the
table. "Where are the modern substitutes for conversation? Oh,
here they are!" He bowled the ball out before him on to the lawn,
and tucked the mallet, as if it was an umbrella, under his arm.
"Who was the first mistaken person," he said to himself, as he
briskly hobbled out, "who discovered that human life was a
serious thing? Here am I, with one foot in the grave; and the
most serious question before me at the present moment is, Shall I
get through the Hoops?"
Arnold and Blanche were left together.
Among the personal privileges which Nature has accorded to women,
there are surely none more enviable than their privilege of
always looking their best when they look at the man they love.
When Blanche's eyes turned on Arnold after her uncle had gone
out, not even the hideous fashionable disfigurements of the
inflated "chignon" and the tilted hat could destroy the triple
charm of youth, beauty, and tenderness beaming in her face.
Arnold looked at her--and remembered, as he had never remembered
yet, that he was going by the next train, and that he was leaving
her in the society of more than one admiring man of his own age.
The experience of a whole fortnight passed under the same roof
with her had proved Blanche to be the most charming girl in
existence. It was possible that she might not be mortally
offended with him if he told her so. He determined that he
_would_ tell her so at that auspicious moment.
But who shall presume to measure the abyss that lies between the
Intention and the Execution? Arnold's resolution to speak was as
firmly settled as a resolution could be. And what came of it?
Alas for human infirmity! Nothing came of it but silence.
"You don't look quite at your ease, Mr. Brinkworth," said
Blanche. "What has Sir Patrick been saying to you? My uncle
sharpens his wit on every body. He has been sharpening it on
Arnold began to see his way. At an immeasurable distance--but
still he saw it.
"Sir Patrick is a terrible old man," he answered. "Just before
you came in he discovered one of my secrets by only looking in my
face." He paused, rallied his courage, pushed on at all hazards,
and came headlong to the point. "I wonder," he asked, bluntly,
"whether you take after your uncle?"
Blanche instantly understood him. With time at her disposal, she
would have taken him lightly in hand, and led him, by fine
gradations, to the object in view. But in two minutes or less it
would be Arnold's turn to play. "He is going to make me an
offer," thought Blanche; "and he has about a minute to do it in.
He _shall_ do it!"
"What!" she exclaimed, " do you think the gift of discovery runs
in the family?"
Arnold made a plunge.
"I wish it did! " he said.
Blanche looked the picture of astonishment.
"Why?" she asked.
"If you could see in my face what Sir Patrick saw--"
He had only to finish the sentence, and the thing was done. But
the tender passion perversely delights in raising obstacles to
itself. A sudden timidity seized on Arnold exactly at the wrong
moment. He stopped short, in the most awkward manner possible.
Blanche heard from the lawn the blow of the mallet on the ball,
and the laughter of the company at some blunder of Sir Patrick's.
The precious seconds were slipping away. She could have boxed
Arnold on both ears for being so unreasonably afraid of her.
"Well," she said, impatiently, "if I did look in your face, what
should I see?"
Arnold made another plunge. He answered: "You would see that I
want a little encouragement."
"Yes--if you please."
Blanche looked back over her shoulder. The summer-house stood on
an eminence, approached by steps. The players on the lawn beneath
were audible, but not visible. Any one of them might appear,
unexpectedly, at a moment's notice. Blanche listened. There was
no sound of approaching footsteps--there was a general hush, and
then another bang of the mallet on the ball and then a clapping
of hands. Sir Patrick was a privileged person. He had been
allowed, in all probability, to try again; and he was succeeding
at the second effort. This implied a reprieve of some seconds.
Blanche looked back again at Arnold.
"Consider yourself encouraged," she whispered; and instantly
added, with the ineradicable female instinct of self-defense,
Arnold made a last plunge--straight to the bottom, this time.
"Consider yourself loved," he burst out, "without any limits at
It was all over--the words were spoken--he had got her by the
hand. Again the perversity of the tender passion showed itself
more strongly than ever. The confession which Blanche had been
longing to hear, had barely escaped her lover's lips before
Blanche protested against it! She struggled to release her hand.
She formally appealed to Arnold to let her go.
Arnold only held her the tighter.
"Do try to like me a little!" he pleaded. "I am so fond of
Who was to resist such wooing as this?--when you were privately
fond of him yourself, remember, and when you were certain to be
interrupted in another moment! Blanche left off struggling, and
looked up at her young sailor with a smile.
"Did you learn this method of making love in the
merchant-service?" she inquired, saucily.
Arnold persisted in contemplating his prospects from the serious
point of view.
"I'll go back to the merchant-service," he said, "if I have made
you angry with me."
Blanche administered another dose of encouragement.
"Anger, Mr. Brinkworth, is one of the bad passions," she
answered, demurely. "A young lady who has been properly brought
up has no bad passions."
There was a sudden cry from the players on the lawn--a cry for
"Mr. Brinkworth." Blanche tried to push him out. Arnold was
"Say something to encourage me before I go," he pleaded. "One
word will do. Say, Yes."
Blanche shook her head. Now she had got him, the temptation to
tease him was irresistible.
"Quite impossible!" she rejoined. "If you want any more
encouragement, you must speak to my uncle."
"I'll speak to him," returned Arnold, "before I leave the house."
There was another cry for "Mr. Brinkworth." Blanche made another
effort to push him out.
"Go!" she said. "And mind you get through the hoop!"
She had both hands on his shoulders--her face was close to
his--she was simply irresistible. Arnold caught her round the
waist and kissed her. Needless to tell him to get through the
hoop. He had surely got through it already! Blanche was
speechless. Arnold's last effort in the art of courtship had
taken away her breath. Before she could recover herself a sound
of approaching footsteps became plainly audible. Arnold gave her
a last squeeze, and ran out.
She sank on the nearest chair, and closed her eyes in a flutter
of delicious confusion.
The footsteps ascending to the summer-house came nearer. Blanche
opened her eyes, and saw Anne Silvester, standing alone, looking
at her. She sprang to her feet, and threw her arms impulsively
round Anne's neck.
"You don't know what has happened," she whispered. "Wish me joy,
darling. He has said the words. He is mine for life!"
All the sisterly love and sisterly confidence of many years was
expressed in that embrace, and in the tone in which the words
were spoken. The hearts of the mothers, in the past time, could
hardly have been closer to each other--as it seemed--than the
hearts of the daughters were now. And yet, if Blanche had looked
up in Anne's face at that moment, she must have seen that Anne's
mind was far away from her little love-story.
"You know who it is?" she went on, after waiting for a reply.
"Of course! Who else should it be?"
"And you are really happy, my love?"
"Happy?" repeated Blanche "Mind! this is strictly between
ourselves. I am ready to jump out of my skin for joy. I love him!
I love him! I love him!" she cried, with a childish pleasure in
repeating the words. They were echoed by a heavy sigh. Blanche
instantly looked up into Anne's face. "What's the matter?" she
asked, with a sudden change of voice and manner.
Blanche's observation saw too plainly to be blinded in that way.
"There _is_ something the matter," she said. "Is it money?" she
added, after a moment's consideration. "Bills to pay? I have got
plenty of money, Anne. I'll lend you what you like."
"No, no, my dear!"
Blanche drew back, a little hurt. Anne was keeping her at a
distance for the first time in Blanche's experience of her.
"I tell you all my secrets," she said. "Why are _you_ keeping a
secret from _me?_ Do you know that you have been looking anxious
and out of spirits for some time past? Perhaps you don't like Mr.
Brinkworth? No? you _do_ like him? Is it my marrying, then? I
believe it is! You fancy we shall be parted, you goose? As if I
could do without you! Of course, when I am married to Arnold, you
will come and live with us. That's quite understood between
Anne drew herself suddenly, almost roughly, away from Blanche,
and pointed out to the steps.
"There is somebody coming," she said. "Look!"
The person coming was Arnold. It was Blanche's turn to play, and
he had volunteered to fetch her.
Blanche's attention--easily enough distracted on other
occasions--remained steadily fixed on Anne.
"You are not yourself," she said, "and I must know the reason of
it. I will wait till to-night; and then you will tell me, when
you come into my room. Don't look like that! You _shall_ tell me.
And there's a kiss for you in the mean time!"
She joined Arnold, and recovered her gayety the moment she looked
"Well? Have you got through the hoops?"
"Never mind the hoops. I have broken the ice with Sir Patrick."
"What! before all the company!"
"Of course not! I have made an appointment to speak to him here."
They went laughing down the steps, and joined the game.
Left alone, Anne Silvester walked slowly to the inner and darker
part of the summer-house. A glass, in a carved wooden frame, was
fixed against one of the side walls. She stopped and looked into
it--looked, shuddering, at the reflection of herself.
"Is the time coming," she said, "when even Blanche will see what
I am in my face?"
She turned aside from the glass. With a sudden cry of despair she
flung up her arms and laid them heavily against the wall, and
rested her head on them with her back to the light. At the same
moment a man's figure appeared--standing dark in the flood of
sunshine at the entrance to the summer-house. The man was
CHAPTER THE FOURTH.
He advanced a few steps, and stopped. Absorbed in herself, Anne
failed to hear him. She never moved.
"I have come, as you made a point of it," he said, sullenly.
"But, mind you, it isn't safe."
At the sound of his voice, Anne turned toward him. A change of
expression appeared in her face, as she slowly advanced from the
back of the summer-house, which revealed a likeness to her moth
er, not perceivable at other times. As the mother had looked, in
by-gone days, at the man who had disowned her, so the daughter
looked at Geoffrey Delamayn--with the same terrible composure,
and the same terrible contempt.
"Well?" he asked. "What have you got to say to me?"
"Mr. Delamayn," she answered, "you are one of the fortunate
people of this world. You are a nobleman's son. You are a
handsome man. You are popular at your college. You are free of
the best houses in England. Are you something besides all this?
Are you a coward and a scoundrel as well?"
He started--opened his lips to speak--checked himself--and made
an uneasy attempt to laugh it off. "Come!" he said, "keep your
The suppressed passion in her began to force its way to the
"Keep my temper?" she repeated. "Do _you_ of all men expect me to
control myself? What a memory yours must be! Have you forgotten
the time when I was fool enough to think you were fond of me? and
mad enough to believe you could keep a promise?"
He persisted in trying to laugh it off. "Mad is a strongish word
to use, Miss Silvester!"
"Mad is the right word! I look back at my own infatuation--and I
can't account for it; I can't understand myself. What was there
in _you_," she asked, with an outbreak of contemptuous surprise,
"to attract such a woman as I am?"
His inexhaustible good-nature was proof even against this. He put
his hands in his pockets, and said, "I'm sure I don't know."
She turned away from him. The frank brutality of the answer had
not offended her. It forced her, cruelly forced her, to remember
that she had nobody but herself to blame for the position in
which she stood at that moment. She was unwilling to let him see
how the remembrance hurt her--that was all. A sad, sad story; but
it must be told. In her mother's time she had been the sweetest,
the most lovable of children. In later days, under the care of
her mother's friend, her girlhood had passed so harmlessly and so
happily--it seemed as if the sleeping passions might sleep
forever! She had lived on to the prime of her womanhood--and
then, when the treasure of her life was at its richest, in one
fatal moment she had flung it away on the man in whose presence
she now stood.
Was she without excuse? No: not utterly without excuse.
She had seen him under other aspects than the aspect which he
presented now. She had seen him, the hero of the river-race, the
first and foremost man in a trial of strength and skill which had
roused the enthusiasm of all England. She had seen him, the
central object of the interest of a nation; the idol of the
popular worship and the popular applause. _His_ were the arms
whose muscle was celebrated in the newspapers. _He_ was first
among the heroes hailed by ten thousand roaring throats as the
pride and flower of England. A woman, in an atmosphere of red-hot
enthusiasm, witnesses the apotheosis of Physical Strength. Is it
reasonable--is it just--to expect her to ask herself, in cold
blood, What (morally and intellectually) is all this worth?--and
that, when the man who is the object of the apotheosis, notices
her, is presented to her, finds her to his taste, and singles her
out from the rest? No. While humanity is humanity, the woman is
not utterly without excuse.
Has she escaped, without suffering for it?
Look at her as she stands there, tortured by the knowledge of her
own secret--the hideous secret which she is hiding from the
innocent girl, whom she loves with a sister's love. Look at her,
bowed down under a humiliation which is unutterable in words. She
has seen him below the surface--now, when it is too late. She
rates him at his true value--now, when her reputation is at his
mercy. Ask her the question: What was there to love in a man who
can speak to you as that man has spoken, who can treat you as
that man is treating you now? you so clever, so cultivated, so
refined--what, in Heaven's name, could _you_ see in him? Ask her
that, and she will have no answer to give. She will not even
remind you that he was once your model of manly beauty, too--that
you waved your handkerchief till you could wave it no longer,
when he took his seat, with the others, in the boat--that your
heart was like to jump out of your bosom, on that later occasion
when he leaped the last hurdle at the foot-race, and won it by a
head. In the bitterness of her remorse, she will not even seek
for _that_ excuse for herself. Is there no atoning suffering to
be seen here? Do your sympathies shrink from such a character as
this? Follow her, good friends of virtue, on the pilgrimage that
leads, by steep and thorny ways, to the purer atmosphere and the
nobler life. Your fellow-creature, who has sinned and has
repented--you have the authority of the Divine Teacher for it--is
your fellow-creature, purified and ennobled. A joy among the
angels of heaven--oh, my brothers and sisters of the earth, have
I not laid my hand on a fit companion for You?
There was a moment of silence in the summer-house. The cheerful
tumult of the lawn-party was pleasantly audible from the
distance. Outside, the hum of voices, the laughter of girls, the
thump of the croquet-mallet against the ball. Inside, nothing but
a woman forcing back the bitter tears of sorrow and shame--and a
man who was tired of her.
She roused herself. She was her mother's daughter; and she had a
spark of her mother's spirit. Her life depended on the issue of
that interview. It was useless--without father or brother to take
her part--to lose the last chance of appealing to him. She dashed
away the tears--time enough to cry, is time easily found in a
woman's existence--she dashed away the tears, and spoke to him
again, more gently than she had spoken yet.
"You have been three weeks, Geoffrey, at your brother Julius's
place, not ten miles from here; and you have never once ridden
over to see me. You would not have come to-day, if I had not
written to you to insist on it. Is that the treatment I have
She paused. There was no answer.
"Do you hear me?" she asked, advancing and speaking in louder
He was still silent. It was not in human endurance to bear his
contempt. The warning of a coming outbreak began to show itself
in her face. He met it, beforehand, with an impenetrable front.
Feeling nervous about the interview, while he was waiting in the
rose-garden--now that he stood committed to it, he was in full
possession of himself. He was composed enough to remember that he
had not put his pipe in its case--composed enough to set that
little matter right before other matters went any farther. He
took the case out of one pocket, and the pipe out of another.
"Go on," he said, quietly. "I hear you."
She struck the pipe out of his hand at a blow. If she had had the
strength she would have struck him down with it on the floor of
"How dare you use me in this way?" she burst out, vehemently.
"Your conduct is infamous. Defend it if you can!"
He made no attempt to defend it. He looked, with an expression of
genuine anxiety, at the fallen pipe. It was beautifully
colored--it had cost him ten shillings. "I'll pick up my pipe
first," he said. His face brightened pleasantly--he looked
handsomer than ever--as he examined the precious object, and put
it back in the case. "All right," he said to himself. "She hasn't
broken it." His attitude as he looked at her again, was the
perfection of easy grace--the grace that attends on cultivated
strength in a state of repose. "I put it to your own
common-sense, " he said, in the most reasonable manner, "what's
the good of bullying me? You don't want them to hear you, out on
the lawn there--do you? You women are all alike. There's no
beating a little prudence into your heads, try how one may."
There he waited, expecting her to speak. She waited, on her side,
and forced him to go on.
"Look here," he said, "there's no need to quarrel, you know. I
don't want to break my promise; but what can I do ? I'm not the
eldest son. I'm dependent on my father for every farthing I have;
and I'm on bad terms with him already. Can't you see it yourself?
You're a lady, and all that, I know. But you're only a governess.
It's your interest as well as mine to wait till my father has
provided for me. Here it is in a nut-shell: if I marry you now,
I'm a ruined man."
The answer came, this time.
"You villain if you _don't_ marry me, I am a ruined woman!"
"What do you mean?"
"You know what I mean. Don't look at me in that way."
"How do you expect me to look at a woman who calls me a villain
to my face?"
She suddenly changed her tone. The savage element in
humanity--let the modern optimists who doubt its existence look
at any uncultivated man (no matter how muscular), woman (no
matter how beautiful), or child (no matter how young)--began to
show itself furtively in his eyes, to utter itself furtively in
his voice. Was he to blame for the manner in which he looked at
her and spoke to her? Not he! What had there been in the training
of _his_ life (at school or at college) to soften and subdue the
savage element in him? About as much as there had been in the
training of his ancestors (without the school or the college)
five hundred years since.
It was plain that one of them must give way. The woman had the
most at stake--and the woman set the example of submission.
"Don't be hard on me," she pleaded. "I don't mean to be hard on
_you._ My temper gets the better of me. You know my temper. I am
sorry I forgot myself. Geoffrey, my whole future is in your
hands. Will you do me justice?"
She came nearer, and laid her hand persuasively on his arm.
"Haven't you a word to say to me? No answer? Not even a look?"
She waited a moment more. A marked change came over her. She
turned slowly to leave the summer-house. "I am sorry to have
troubled you, Mr. Delamayn. I won't detain you any longer."
He looked at her. There was a tone in her voice that he had never
heard before. There was a light in her eyes that he had never
seen in them before. Suddenly and fiercely he reached out his
hand, and stopped her.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
She answered, looking him straight in the face, "Where many a
miserable woman has gone before me. Out of the world."
He drew her nearer to him, and eyed her closely. Even _his_
intelligence discovered that he had brought her to bay, and that
she really meant it!
"Do you mean you will destroy yourself?" he said.
"Yes. I mean I will destroy myself."
He dropped her arm. "By Jupiter, she _does_ mean it!"
With that conviction in him, he pushed one of the chairs in the
summer-house to her with his foot, and signed to her to take it.
"Sit down!" he said, roughly. She had frightened him--and fear
comes seldom to men of his type. They feel it, when it does come,
with an angry distrust; they grow loud and brutal, in instinctive
protest against it. "Sit down!" he repeated. She obeyed him.
"Haven't you got a word to say to me?" he asked, with an oath.
No! there she sat, immovable, reckless how it ended--as only
women can be, when women's minds are made up. He took a turn in
the summer-house and came back, and struck his hand angrily on
the rail of her chair. "What do you want?"
"You know what I want."
He took another turn. There was nothing for it but to give way on
his side, or run the risk of something happening which might
cause an awkward scandal, and come to his father's ears.
"Look here, Anne," he began, abruptly. "I have got something to
She looked up at him.
"What do you say to a private marriage?"
Without asking a single question, without making objections, she
answered him, speaking as bluntly as he had spoken himself:
"I consent to a private marriage."
He began to temporize directly.
"I own I don't see how it's to be managed--"
She stopped him there.
"What!" he cried out, suspiciously. "You have thought of it
yourself, have you?"
"And planned for it?"
"And planned for it!"
"Why didn't you tell me so before?"
She answered haughtily; insisting on the respect which is due to
women--the respect which was doubly due from _him,_ in her
"Because _you_ owed it to _me,_ Sir, to speak first."
"Very well. I've spoken first. Will you wait a little?"
"Not a day!"
The tone was positive. There was no mistaking it. Her mind was
"Where's the hurry?"
"Have you eyes?" she asked, vehemently. "Have you ears? Do you
see how Lady Lundie looks at me? Do you hear how Lady Lundie
speaks to me? I am suspected by that woman. My shameful dismissal
from this house may be a question of a few hours." Her head sunk
on her bosom; she wrung her clasped hands as they rested on her
lap. "And, oh, Blanche!" she moaned to herself, the tears
gathering again, and falling, this time, unchecked. "Blanche, who
looks up to me! Blanche, who loves me! Blanche, who told me, in
this very place, that I was to live with her when she was
married!" She started up from the chair; the tears dried
suddenly; the hard despair settled again, wan and white, on her
face. "Let me go! What is death, compared to such a life as is
waiting for _me?_" She looked him over, in one disdainful glance
from head to foot; her voice rose to its loudest and firmest
tones." Why, even _you_; would have the courage to die if you
were in my place!"
Geoffrey glanced round toward the lawn.
"Hush!" he said. "They will hear you!"
"Let them hear me! When _I_ am past hearing _them_, what does it
He put her back by main force on the chair. In another moment
they must have heard her, through all the noise and laughter of
"Say what you want," he resumed, "and I'll do it. Only be
reasonable. I can't marry you to-day."
"What nonsense you talk! The house and grounds are swarming with
company. It can't be!"
"It can! I have been thinking about it ever since we came to this
house. I have got something to propose to you. Will you hear it,
"Will you hear it, or not?"
"There's somebody coming!"
"Will you hear it, or not?"
"The devil take your obstinacy! Yes!"
The answer had been wrung from him. Still, it was the answer she
wanted--it opened the door to hope. The instant he had consented
to hear her her mind awakened to the serious necessity of
averting discovery by any third person who might stray idly into
the summer-house. She held up her hand for silence, and listened
to what was going forward on the lawn.
The dull thump of the croquet-mallet against the ball was no
longer to be heard. The game had stopped.
In a moment more she heard her own name called. An interval of
another instant passed, and a familiar voice said, "I know where
she is. I'll fetch her."
She turned to Geoffrey, and pointed to the back of the
"It's my turn to play," she said. "And Blanche is coming here to
look for me. Wait there, and I'll stop her on the steps."
She went out at once. It was a critical moment. Discovery, which
meant moral-ruin to the woman, meant money-ruin to the man.
Geoffrey had not exaggerated his position with his father. Lord
Holchester had twice paid his debts, and had declined to see him
since. One more outrage on his father's rigid sense of propriety,
and he would be left out of the will as well as kept out of the
house. He looked for a means of retreat, in case there was no
escaping unperceived by the front entrance. A door--intended for
the use of servants, when picnics and gipsy tea-parties were
given in the summer-house--had been made in the back wall. It
opened outward, and it was locked. With his strength it was easy
to remove that obstacle. He put his shoulder to the door. At the
moment when he burst it open he felt a hand on his arm. Anne was
behind him, alone.
"You may want it before long," she said, observing the open door,
without expressing any surprise, "You don't want it now. Another
person will play for me--I have told Blanche I am not well. Sit
down. I have secured a respite of five minutes, and I must make
the most of it. In that time, or less, Lady Lundie's suspicions
will bring her here--to see how I am. For the present, shut the
She seated herself, and pointed to a second chair. He took
it--with his eye on the closed door.
"Come to the point!" he said, impatiently. "What is it?"
"You can marry me privately to-day," she answered. "Lis ten--and
I will tell you how!"
CHAPTER THE FIFTH.
SHE took his hand, and began with all the art of persuasion that
"One question, Geoffrey, before I say what I want to say. Lady
Lundie has invited you to stay at Windygates. Do you accept her
invitation? or do you go back to your brother's in the evening?"
"I can't go back in the evening--they've put a visitor into my
room. I'm obliged to stay here. My brother has done it on
purpose. Julius helps me when I'm hard up--and bullies me
afterward. He has sent me here, on duty for the family. Somebody
must be civil to Lady Lundie--and I'm the sacrifice."
She took him up at his last word. "Don't make the sacrifice," she
said. "Apologize to Lady Lundie, and say you are obliged to go
"Because we must both leave this place to-day."
There was a double objection to that. If he left Lady Lundie's,
he would fail to establish a future pecuniary claim on his
brother's indulgence. And if he left with Anne, the eyes of the
world would see them, and the whispers of the world might come to
his father's ears.
"If we go away together," he said, "good-by to my prospects, and
"I don't mean that we shall leave together," she explained. "We
will leave separately--and I will go first."
"There will be a hue and cry after you, when you are missed."
"There will be a dance when the croquet is over. I don't
dance--and I shall not be missed. There will be time, and
opportunity to get to my own room. I shall leave a letter there
for Lady Lundie, and a letter"--her voice trembled for a
moment--"and a letter for Blanche. Don't interrupt me! I have
thought of this, as I have thought of every thing else. The
confession I shall make will be the truth in a few hours, if it's
not the truth now. My letters will say I am privately married,
and called away unexpectedly to join my husband. There will be a
scandal in the house, I know. But there will be no excuse for
sending after me, when I am under my husband's protection. So far
as you are personally concerned there are no discoveries to
fear--and nothing which it is not perfectly safe and perfectly
easy to do. Wait here an hour after I have gone to save
appearances; and then follow me."
"Follow you?" interposed Geoffrey. "Where?" She drew her chair
nearer to him, and whispered the next words in his ear.
"To a lonely little mountain inn--four miles from this."
"An inn is a public place."
A movement of natural impatience escaped her--but she controlled
herself, and went on as quietly as before:
"The place I mean is the loneliest place in the neighborhood. You
have no prying eyes to dread there. I have picked it out
expressly for that reason. It's away from the railway; it's away
from the high-road: it's kept by a decent, respectable
"Decent, respectable Scotchwomen who keep inns," interposed
Geoffrey, "don't cotton to young ladies who are traveling alone.
The landlady won't receive you."
It was a well-aimed objection--but it missed the mark. A woman
bent on her marriage is a woman who can meet the objections of
the whole world, single-handed, and refute them all.
"I have provided for every thing," she said, "and I have provided
for that. I shall tell the landlady I am on my wedding-trip. I
shall say my husband is sight-seeing, on foot, among the
mountains in the neighborhood--"
"She is sure to believe that!" said Geoffrey.
"She is sure to _dis_believe it, if you like. Let her! You have
only to appear, and to ask for your wife--and there is my story
proved to be true! She may be the most suspicious woman living,
as long as I am alone with her. The moment you join me, you set
her suspicions at rest. Leave me to do my part. My part is the
hard one. Will you do yours?"
It was impossible to say No: she had fairly cut the ground from
under his feet. He shifted his ground. Any thing rather than say
"I suppose _you_ know how we are to be married?" he asked. "All I
can say is--_I_ don't."
"You do!" she retorted. "You know that we are in Scotland. You
know that there are neither forms, ceremonies, nor delays in
marriage, here. The plan I have proposed to you secures my being
received at the inn, and makes it easy and natural for you to
join me there afterward. The rest is in our own hands. A man and
a woman who wish to be married (in Scotland) have only to secure
the necessary witnesses and the thing is done. If the landlady
chooses to resent the deception practiced on her, after that, the
landlady may do as she pleases. We shall have gained our object
in spite of her--and, what is more, we shall have gained it
without risk to _you._"
"Don't lay it all on my shoulders," Geoffrey rejoined. "You women
go headlong at every thing. Say we are married. We must separate
afterward--or how are we to keep it a secret?"
"Certainly. You will go back, of course, to your brother's house,
as if nothing had happened."
"And what is to become of _you?_"
"I shall go to London."
"What are you to do in London?"
"Haven't I already told you that I have thought of every thing?
When I get to London I shall apply to some of my mother's old
friends--friends of hers in the time when she was a musician.
Every body tells me I have a voice--if I had only cultivated it.
I _will_ cultivate it! I can live, and live respectably, as a
concert singer. I have saved money enough to support me, while I
am learning--and my mother's friends will help me, for her sake."
So, in the new life that she was marking out, was she now
unconsciously reflecting in herself the life of her mother before
her. Here was the mother's career as a public singer, chosen (in
spite of all efforts to prevent it) by the child! Here (though
with other motives, and under other circumstances) was the
mother's irregular marriage in Ireland, on the point of being
followed by the daughter's irregular marriage in Scotland! And
here, stranger still, was the man who was answerable for it--the
son of the man who had found the flaw in the Irish marriage, and
had shown the way by which her mother was thrown on the world!
"My Anne is my second self. She is not called by her father's
name; she is called by mine. She is Anne Silvester as I was. Will
she end like Me?"--The answer to those words--the last words that
had trembled on the dying mother's lips--was coming fast. Through
the chances and changes of many years, the future was pressing
near--and Anne Silvester stood on the brink of it.
"Well?" she resumed. "Are you at the end of your objections? Can
you give me a plain answer at last?"
No! He had another objection ready as the words passed her lips.
"Suppose the witnesses at the inn happen to know me?" he said.
"Suppose it comes to my father's ears in that way?"
"Suppose you drive me to my death?" she retorted, starting to her
feet. "Your father shall know the truth, in that case--I swear
He rose, on his side, and drew back from her. She followed him
up. There was a clapping of hands, at the same moment, on the
lawn. Somebody had evidently made a brilliant stroke which
promised to decide the game. There was no security now that
Blanche might not return again. There was every prospect, the
game being over, that Lady Lundie would be free. Anne brought the
interview to its crisis, without wasting a moment more.
"Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn," she said. "You have bargained for a
private marriage, and I have consented. Are you, or are you not,
ready to marry me on your own terms?"
"Give me a minute to think!"
"Not an instant. Once for all, is it Yes, or No?"
He couldn't say "Yes," even then. But he said what was equivalent
to it. He asked, savagely, "Where is the inn?"
She put her arm in his, and whispered, rapidly, "Pass the road on
the right that leads to the railway. Follow the path over the
moor, and the sheep-track up the hill. The first house you come
to after that is the inn. You understand!"
He nodded his head, with a sullen frown, and took his pipe out of
his pocket again.
"Let it alone this time," he said, meeting her eye. "My mind's
upset. When a man's mind's upset, a man can't smoke. What's the
name of the place?"
"Who am I to ask for at the door?"
"For your wife."
"Suppose they want you to give your name when you get there?"
"If I must give a name, I shall call myself Mrs., instead of
Miss, Silvester. But I shall do my best to avoid giving any name.
And you will do your best to avoid making a mistake, by only
asking for me as your wife. Is there any thing else you want to
"Be quick about it! What is it?"
"How am I to know you have got away from here?"
"If you don't hear from me in half an hour from the time when I
have left you, you may be sure I have got away. Hush!"
Two voices, in conversation, were audible at the bottom of the
steps--Lady Lundie's voice and Sir Patrick's. Anne pointed to the
door in the back wall of the summer-house. She had just pulled it
to again, after Geoffrey had passed through it, when Lady Lundie
and Sir Patrick appeared at the top of the steps.
CHAPTER THE SIXTH.
LADY LUNDIE pointed significantly to the door, and addressed
herself to Sir Patrick's private ear.
"Observe!" she said. "Miss Silvester has just got rid of
Sir Patrick deliberately looked in the wrong direction, and (in
the politest possible manner) observed--nothing.
Lady Lundie advanced into the summer-house. Suspicious hatred of
the governess was written legibly in every line of her face.
Suspicious distrust of the governess's illness spoke plainly in
every tone of her voice.
"May I inquire, Miss Silvester, if your sufferings are relieved?"
"I am no better, Lady Lundie."
"I beg your pardon?"
"I said I was no better."
"You appear to be able to stand up. When _I_ am ill, I am not so
fortunate. I am obliged to lie down."'
"I will follow your example, Lady Lundie. If you will be so good
as to excuse me, I will leave you, and lie down in my own room."
She could say no more. The interview with Geoffrey had worn her
out; there was no spirit left in her to resist the petty malice
of the woman, after bearing, as she had borne it, the brutish
indifference of the man. In another moment the hysterical
suffering which she was keeping down would have forced its way
outward in tears. Without waiting to know whether she was excused
or not, without stopping to hear a word more, she left the
Lady Lundie's magnificent black eyes opened to their utmost
width, and blazed with their most dazzling brightness. She
appealed to Sir Patrick, poised easily on his ivory cane, and
looking out at the lawn-party, the picture of venerable
"After what I have already told you, Sir Patrick, of Miss
Silvester's conduct, may I ask whether you consider _that_
proceeding at all extraordinary?"
The old gentleman touched the spring in the knob of his cane, and
answered, in the courtly manner of the old school:
"I consider no proceeding extraordinary Lady Lundie, which
emanates from your enchanting sex."
He bowed, and took his pinch. With a little jaunty flourish of
the hand, he dusted the stray grains of snuff off his finger and
thumb, and looked back again at the lawn-party, and became more
absorbed in the diversions of his young friends than ever.
Lady Lundie stood her ground, plainly determined to force a
serious expression of opinion from her brother-in-law. Before she
could speak again, Arnold and Blanche appeared together at the
bottom of the steps. "And when does the dancing begin?" inquired
Sir Patrick, advancing to meet them, and looking as if he felt
the deepest interest in a speedy settlement of the question.
"The very thing I was going to ask mamma," returned Blanche. "Is
she in there with Anne? Is Anne better?"
Lady Lundie forthwith appeared, and took the answer to that
inquiry on herself.
"Miss Silvester has retired to her room. Miss Silvester persists
in being ill. Have you noticed, Sir Patrick, that these half-bred
sort of people are almost invariably rude when they are ill?"
Blanche's bright face flushed up. "If you think Anne a half-bred
person, Lady Lundie, you stand alone in your opinion. My uncle
doesn't agree with you, I'm sure."
Sir Patrick's interest in the first quadrille became almost
painful to see. "_Do_ tell me, my dear, when _is_ the dancing
going to begin?"
"The sooner the better," interposed Lady Lundie; "before Blanche
picks another quarrel with me on the subject of Miss Silvester."
Blanche looked at her uncle. "Begin! begin! Don't lose time!"
cried the ardent Sir Patrick, pointing toward the house with his
cane. "Certainly, uncle! Any thing that _you_ wish!" With that
parting shot at her step-mother, Blanche withdrew. Arnold, who
had thus far waited in silence at the foot of the steps, looked
appealingly at Sir Patrick. The train which was to take him to
his newly inherited property would start in less than an hour;
and he had not presented himself to Blanche's guardian in the
character of Blanche's suitor yet! Sir Patrick's indifference to
all domestic claims on him--claims of persons who loved, and
claims of persons who hated, it didn't matter which--remained
perfectly unassailable. There he stood, poised on his cane,
humming an old Scotch air. And there was Lady Lundie, resolute
not to leave him till he had seen the governess with _her_ eyes
and judged the governess with _her_ mind. She returned to the
charge--in spite of Sir Patrick, humming at the top of the steps,
and of Arnold, waiting at the bottom. (Her enemies said, "No
wonder poor Sir Thomas died in a few months after his marriage!"
And, oh dear me, our enemies _are_ sometimes right!)
"I must once more remind you, Sir Patrick, that I have serious
reason to doubt whether Miss Silvester is a fit companion for
Blanche. My governess has something on her mind. She has fits of
crying in private. She is up and walking about her room when she
ought to be asleep. She posts her own letters--_and,_ she has
lately been excessively insolent to Me. There is something wrong.
I must take some steps in the matter--and it is only proper that
I should do so with your sanction, as head of the family."
"Consider me as abdicating my position, Lady Lundie, in your
"Sir Patrick, I beg you to observe that I am speaking seriously,
and that I expect a serious reply."
"My good lady, ask me for any thing else and it is at your
service. I have not made a serious reply since I gave up practice
at the Scottish Bar. At my age," added Sir Patrick, cunningly
drifting into generalities, "nothing is serious--except
Indigestion. I say, with the philosopher, 'Life is a comedy to
those who think, and tragedy to those who feel.' " He took his
sister-in-law's hand, and kissed it. "Dear Lady Lundie, why
Lady Lundie, who had never "felt" in her life, appeared
perversely determined to feel, on this occasion. She was
offended--and she showed it plainly.
"When you are next called on, Sir Patrick, to judge of Miss
Silvester's conduct," she said, "unless I am entirely mistaken,
you will find yourself _compelled_ to consider it as something
beyond a joke." With those words, she walked out of the
summer-house--and so forwarded Arnold's interests by leaving
Blanche's guardian alone at last.
It was an excellent opportunity. The guests were safe in the
house--there was no interruption to be feared, Arnold showed
himself. Sir Patrick (perfectly undisturbed by Lady Lundie's
parting speech) sat down in the summer-house, without noticing
his young friend, and asked himself a question founded on
profound observation of the female sex. "Were there ever two
women yet with a quarrel between them," thought the old
gentleman, "who didn't want to drag a man into it? Let them drag
_me_ in, if they can!"
Arnold advanced a step, and modestly announced himself. "I hope I
am not in the way, Sir Patrick?"
"In the way? of course not! Bless my soul, how serious the boy
looks! Are _you_ going to appeal to me as the head of the family
It was exactly what Arnold was about to do. But it was plain that
if he admitted it just then Sir Patrick (for some unintelligible
reason) would decline to listen to him. He answered cautiously,
"I asked leave to consult you in private, Sir; and you kindly
said you would give me the opportunity before I left W
"Ay! ay! to be sure. I remember. We were both engaged in the
serious business of croquet at the time--and it was doubtful
which of us did that business most clumsily. Well, here is the
opportunity; and here am I, with all my worldly experience, at
your service. I have only one caution to give you. Don't appeal
to me as 'the head of the family.' My resignation is in Lady
He was, as usual, half in jest, half in earnest. The wry twist of
humor showed itself at the corners of his lips. Arnold was at a
loss how to approach Sir Patrick on the subject of his niece
without reminding him of his domestic responsibilities on the one
hand, and without setting himself up as a target for the shafts
of Sir Patrick's wit on the other. In this difficulty, he
committed a mistake at the outset. He hesitated.
"Don't hurry yourself," said Sir Patrick. "Collect your ideas. I
can wait! I can wait!"
Arnold collected his ideas--and committed a second mistake. He
determined on feeling his way cautiously at first. Under the
circumstances (and with such a man as he had now to deal with),
it was perhaps the rashest resolution at which he could possibly
have arrived--it was the mouse attempting to outmanoeuvre the cat
"You have been very kind, Sir, in offering me the benefit of your
experience," he began. "I want a word of advice."
"Suppose you take it sitting?" suggested Sir Patrick. "Get a
chair." His sharp eyes followed Arnold with an expression of
malicious enjoyment. "Wants my advice?" he thought. "The young
humbug wants nothing of the sort--he wants my niece."
Arnold sat down under Sir Patrick's eye, with a well-founded
suspicion that he was destined to suffer, before he got up again,
under Sir Patrick's tongue.
"I am only a young man," he went on, moving uneasily in his
chair, "and I am beginning a new life--"
"Any thing wrong with the chair?" asked Sir Patrick. "Begin your
new life comfortably, and get another."
"There's nothing wrong with the chair, Sir. Would you--"
"Would I keep the chair, in that case? Certainly."
"I mean, would you advise me--"
"My good fellow, I'm waiting to advise you. (I'm sure there's
something wrong with that chair. Why be obstinate about it? Why
not get another?)"
"Please don't notice the chair, Sir Patrick--you put me out. I
want--in short--perhaps it's a curious question--"
"I can't say till I have heard it," remarked Sir Patrick.
"However, we will admit it, for form's sake, if you like. Say
it's a curious question. Or let us express it more strongly, if
that will help you. Say it's the most extraordinary question that
ever was put, since the beginning of the world, from one human
being to another."
"It's this!" Arnold burst out, desperately. "I want to be
"That isn't a question," objected Sir Patrick. "It's an
assertion. You say, I want to be married. And I say, Just so! And
there's an end of it."
Arnold's head began to whirl. "Would you advise me to get
married, Sir?" he said, piteously. "That's what I meant."
"Oh! That's the object of the present interview, is it? Would I
advise you to marry, eh?"
(Having caught the mouse by this time, the cat lifted his paw and
let the luckless little creature breathe again. Sir Patrick's
manner suddenly freed itself from any slight signs of impatience
which it might have hitherto shown, and became as pleasantly easy
and confidential as a manner could be. He touched the knob of his
cane, and helped himself, with infinite zest and enjoyment, to a
pinch of snuff.)
"Would I advise you to marry?" repeated Sir Patrick. "Two courses
are open to us, Mr. Arnold, in treating that question. We may put
it briefly, or we may put it at great length. I am for putting it
briefly. What do you say?"
"What you say, Sir Patrick."
"Very good. May I begin by making an inquiry relating to your
"Very good again. When you were in the merchant service, did you
ever have any experience in buying provisions ashore?"
Arnold stared. If any relation existed between that question and
the subject in hand it was an impenetrable relation to _him_. He
answered, in unconcealed bewilderment, "Plenty of experience,
"I'm coming to the point," pursued Sir Patrick. "Don't be
astonished. I'm coming to the point. What did you think of your
moist sugar when you bought it at the grocer's?"
"Think?" repeated Arnold. "Why, I thought it was moist sugar, to
"Marry, by all means!" cried Sir Patrick. "You are one of the few
men who can try that experiment with a fair chance of success."
The suddenness of the answer fairly took away Arnold's breath.
There was something perfectly electric in the brevity of his
venerable friend. He stared harder than ever.
"Don't you understand me?" asked Sir Patrick.
"I don't understand what the moist sugar has got to do with it,
"You don't see that?"
"Not a bit!"
"Then I'll show you," said Sir Patrick, crossing his legs, and
setting in comfortably for a good talk "You go to the tea-shop,
and get your moist sugar. You take it on the understanding that
it is moist sugar. But it isn't any thing of the sort. It's a
compound of adulterations made up to look like sugar. You shut
your eyes to that awkward fact, and swallow your adulterated mess
in various articles of food; and you and your sugar get on
together in that way as well as you can. Do you follow me, so
Yes. Arnold (quite in the dark) followed, so far.
"Very good," pursued Sir Patrick. "You go to the marriage-shop,
and get a wife. You take her on the understanding--let us
say--that she has lovely yellow hair, that she has an exquisite
complexion, that her figure is the perfection of plumpness, and
that she is just tall enough to carry the plumpness off. You
bring her home, and you discover that it's the old story of the
sugar over again. Your wife is an adulterated article. Her lovely
yellow hair is--dye. Her exquisite skin is--pearl powder. Her
plumpness is--padding. And three inches of her height are--in the
boot-maker's heels. Shut your eyes, and swallow your adulterated
wife as you swallow your adulterated sugar--and, I tell you
again, you are one of the few men who can try the marriage
experiment with a fair chance of success."
With that he uncrossed his legs again, and looked hard at Arnold.
Arnold read the lesson, at last, in the right way. He gave up the
hopeless attempt to circumvent Sir Patrick, and--come what might
of it--dashed at a direct allusion to Sir Patrick's niece.
"That may be all very true, Sir, of some young ladies," he said.
"There is one I know of, who is nearly related to you, and who
doesn't deserve what you have said of the rest of them."
This was coming to the point. Sir Patrick showed his approval of
Arnold's frankness by coming to the point himself, as readily as
his own whimsical humor would let him.
"Is this female phenomenon my niece?" he inquired.
"Yes, Sir Patrick."
"May I ask how you know that my niece is not an adulterated
article, like the rest of them?"
Arnold's indignation loosened the last restraints that tied
Arnold's tongue. He exploded in the three words which mean three
volumes in every circulating library in the kingdom.
"I love her."
Sir Patrick sat back in his chair, and stretched out his legs
"That's the most convincing answer I ever heard in my life," he
"I'm in earnest!" cried Arnold, reckless by this time of every
consideration but one. "Put me to the test, Sir! put me to the
"Oh, very well. The test is easily put." He looked at Arnold,
with the irrepressible humor twinkling merrily in his eyes, and
twitching sharply at the corners of his lips. "My niece has a
beautiful complexion. Do you believe in her complexion?"
"There's a beautiful sky above our heads," returned Arnold. "I
believe in the sky."
"Do you?" retorted Sir Patrick. "You were evidently never caught
in a shower. My niece has an immense quantity of hair. Are you
convinced that it all grows on her head?"
"I defy any other woman's head to produce the like of it!"
"My dear Arnold, you greatly underrate the existing resources of
the trade in hair! Look into the shop-windows. When
you next go to London pray look into the show-windows. In the
mean time, what do you think of my niece's figure?"
"Oh, come! there can't be any doubt about _that!_ Any man, with
eyes in his head, can see it's the loveliest figure in the
Sir Patrick laughed softly, and crossed his legs again.
"My good fellow, of course it is! The loveliest figure in the
world is the commonest thing in the world. At a rough guess,
there are forty ladies at this lawn-party. Every one of them
possesses a beautiful figure. It varies in price; and when it's
particularly seductive you may swear it comes from Paris. Why,
how you stare! When I asked you what you thought of my niece's
figure, I meant--how much of it comes from Nature, and how much
of it comes from the Shop? I don't know, mind! Do you?"
"I'll take my oath to every inch of it!"
Sir Patrick rose to his feet; his satirical humor was silenced at
"If ever I have a son," he thought to himself, "that son shall go
to sea!" He took Arnold's arm, as a preliminary to putting an end
to Arnold's suspense. "If I _ can_ be serious about any thing,"
he resumed, "it's time to be serious with you. I am convinced of
the sincerity of your attachment. All I know of you is in your
favor, and your birth and position are beyond dispute. If you
have Blanche's consent, you have mine." Arnold attempted to
express his gratitude. Sir Patrick, declining to hear him, went
on. "And remember this, in the future. When you next want any
thing that I can give you, ask for it plainly. Don't attempt to
mystify _me_ on the next occasion, and I will promise, on my
side, not to mystify _you._ There, that's understood. Now about
this journey of yours to see your estate. Property has its
duties, Master Arnold, as well as its rights. The time is fast
coming when its rights will be disputed, if its duties are not
performed. I have got a new interest in you, and I mean to see
that you do your duty. It's settled you are to leave Windygates
to-day. Is it arranged how you are to go?"
"Yes, Sir Patrick. Lady Lundie has kindly ordered the gig to take
me to the station, in time for the next train."
"When are you to be ready?"
Arnold looked at his watch. "In a quarter of an hour."
"Very good. Mind you _are_ ready. Stop a minute! you will have
plenty of time to speak to Blanche when I have done with you. You
don't appear to me to be sufficiently anxious about seeing your
"I am not very anxious to leave Blanche, Sir--that's the truth of
"Never mind Blanche. Blanche is not business. They both begin
with a B--and that's the only connection between them. I hear you
have got one of the finest houses in this part of Scotland. How
long are you going to stay in Scotland? How long are you going to
stay in it?"
"I have arranged (as I have already told you, Sir) to return to
Windygates the day after to-morrow."
"What! Here is a man with a palace waiting to receive him--and he
is only going to stop one clear day in it!"
"I am not going to stop in it at all, Sir Patrick--I am going to
stay with the steward. I'm only wanted to be present to-morrow at
a dinner to my tenants--and, when that's over, there's nothing in
the world to prevent my coming back here. The steward himself
told me so in his last letter."
"Oh, if the steward told you so, of course there is nothing more
to be said!"
"Don't object to my coming back! pray don't, Sir Patrick! I'll
promise to live in my new house when I have got Blanche to live
in it with me. If you won't mind, I'll go and tell her at once
that it all belongs to her as well as to me."
"Gently! gently! you talk as if you were married to her already!"
"It's as good as done, Sir! Where's the difficulty in the way
As he asked the question the shadow of some third person,
advancing from the side of the summer-house, was thrown forward
on the open sunlit space at the top of the steps. In a moment
more the shadow was followed by the substance--in the shape of a
groom in his riding livery. The man was plainly a stranger to the
place. He started, and touched his hat, when he saw the two
gentlemen in the summer-house.
"What do you want?" asked Sir Patrick
"I beg your pardon, Sir; I was sent by my master--"
"Who is your master?"
"The Honorable Mr. Delamayn, Sir."
"Do you mean Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn?" asked Arnold.
"No, Sir. Mr. Geoffrey's brother--Mr. Julius. I have ridden over
from the house, Sir, with a message from my master to Mr.
"Can't you find him?"
"They told me I should find him hereabouts, Sir. But I'm a
stranger, and don't rightly know where to look." He stopped, and
took a card out of his pocket. "My master said it was very
important I should deliver this immediately. Would you be pleased
to tell me, gentlemen, if you happen to know where Mr. Geoffrey
Arnold turned to Sir Patrick. "I haven't seen him. Have you?"
"I have smelt him," answered Sir Patrick, "ever since I have been
in the summer-house. There is a detestable taint of tobacco in
the air--suggestive (disagreeably suggestive to _my_ mind) of
your friend, Mr. Delamayn."
Arnold laughed, and stepped outside the summer-house.
"If you are right, Sir Patrick, we will find him at once." He
looked around, and shouted, "Geoffrey!"
A voice from the rose-garden shouted back, "Hullo!"
"You're wanted. Come here!"
Geoffrey appeared, sauntering doggedly, with his pipe in his
mouth, and his hands in his pockets.
"Who wants me?"
"A groom--from your brother."
That answer appeared to electrify the lounging and lazy athlete.
Geoffrey hurried, with eager steps, to the summer-house. He
addressed the groom before the man had time to speak With horror
and dismay in his face, he exclaimed:
"By Jupiter! Ratcatcher has relapsed!"
Sir Patrick and Arnold looked at each other in blank amazement.
"The best horse in my brother's stables!" cried Geoffrey,
explaining, and appealing to them, in a breath. "I left written
directions with the coachman, I measured out his physic for three
days; I bled him," said Geoffrey, in a voice broken by
emotion--"I bled him myself, last night."
"I beg your pardon, Sir--" began the groom.
"What's the use of begging my pardon? You're a pack of infernal
fools! Where's your horse? I'll ride back, and break every bone
in the coachman's skin! Where's your horse?"
"If you please, Sir, it isn't Ratcatcher. Ratcatcher's all
"Ratcatcher's all right? Then what the devil is it?"
"It's a message, Sir."
"About my lord."
"Oh! About my father?" He took out his handkerchief, and passed
it over his forehead, with a deep gasp of relief. "I thought it
was Ratcatcher," he said, looking at Arnold, with a smile. He put
his pipe into his mouth, and rekindled the dying ashes of the
tobacco. "Well?" he went on, when the pipe was in working order,
and his voice was composed again: "What's up with my father?"
"A telegram from London, Sir. Bad news of my lord."
The man produced his master's card.
Geoffrey read on it (written in his brother's handwriting) these
"I have only a moment to scribble a line on my card. Our father
is dangerously ill--his lawyer has been sent for. Come with me to
London by the first train. Meet at the junction."
Without a word to any one of the three persons present, all
silently looking at him, Geoffrey consulted his watch. Anne had
told him to wait half an hour, and to assume that she had gone if
he failed to hear from her in that time. The interval had
passed--and no communication of any sort had reached him. The
flight from the house had been safely accomplished. Anne
Silvester was, at that moment, on her way to the mountain inn.
CHAPTER THE SEVENTH.
ARNOLD was the first who broke the silence. "Is your father
seriously ill?" he asked.
Geoffrey answered by handing him the card.
Sir Patrick, who had stood apart (while the question of
Ratcatcher's relapse was under discussion) sardonically studying
the manners and customs of modern English youth, now came
forward, and took his part in the proceedings. Lady Lundie
herself must have acknowledged that he spoke and acted as became
the head of the family, on t his occasion.
"Am I right in supposing that Mr. Delamayn's father is
dangerously ill?" he asked, addressing himself to Arnold.
"Dangerously ill, in London," Arnold answered. "Geoffrey must
leave Windygates with me. The train I am traveling by meets the
train his brother is traveling by, at the junction. I shall leave
him at the second station from here."
"Didn't you tell me that Lady Lundie was going to send you to the
railway in a gig?"
"If the servant drives, there will be three of you--and there
will be no room."
"We had better ask for some other vehicle," suggested Arnold.
Sir Patrick looked at his watch. There was no time to change the
carriage. He turned to Geoffrey. "Can you drive, Mr. Delamayn?"
Still impenetrably silent, Geoffrey replied by a nod of the head.
Without noticing the unceremonious manner in which he had been
answered, Sir Patrick went on:
"In that case, you can leave the gig in charge of the
station-master. I'll tell the servant that he will not be wanted
"Let me save you the trouble, Sir Patrick," said Arnold.
Sir Patrick declined, by a gesture. He turned again, with
undiminished courtesy, to Geoffrey. "It is one of the duties of
hospitality, Mr. Delamayn, to hasten your departure, under these
sad circumstances. Lady Lundie is engaged with her guests. I will
see myself that there is no unnecessary delay in sending you to
the station." He bowed--and left the summer-house.
Arnold said a word of sympathy to his friend, when they were
"I am sorry for this, Geoffrey. I hope and trust you will get to
London in time."
He stopped. There was something in Geoffrey's face--a strange
mixture of doubt and bewilderment, of annoyance and
hesitation--which was not to be accounted for as the natural
result of the news that he had received. His color shifted and
changed; he picked fretfully at his finger-nails; he looked at
Arnold as if he was going to speak--and then looked away again,
"Is there something amiss, Geoffrey, besides this bad news about
your father?" asked Arnold.
"I'm in the devil's own mess," was the answer.
"Can I do any thing to help you?"