Part 4 out of 15
Sir Patrick admitted the fact, without betraying the slightest
"The servant is quite right," he said. "I am one of the party.
And I have purposely allowed them to go on to the keeper's
cottage without me. Having admitted this, may I count on
receiving your permission to explain the motive of my visit?"
Necessarily suspicious of him, as coming from Windygates, Anne
answered in few and formal words, as coldly as before.
"Explain it, Sir Patrick, if you please, as briefly as possible."
Sir Patrick bowed. He was not in the least offended; he was even
(if the confession may be made without degrading him in the
public estimation) privately amused. Conscious of having honestly
presented himself at the inn in Anne's interests, as well as in
the interests of the ladies at Windygates, it appealed to his
sense of humor to find himself kept at arm's-length by the very
woman whom he had come to benefit. The temptation was strong on
him to treat his errand from his own whimsical point of view. He
gravely took out his watch, and noted the time to a second,
before he spoke again.
"I have an event to relate in which you are interested," he said.
"And I have two messages to deliver, which I hope you will not
object to receive. The event I undertake to describe in one
minute. The messages I promise to dispose of in two minutes more.
Total duration of this intrusion on your time--three minutes."
He placed a chair for Anne, and waited until she had permitted
him, by a sign, to take a second chair for himself.
"We will begin with the event," he resumed. "Your arrival at this
place is no secret at Windygates. You were seen on the foot-road
to Craig Fernie by one of the female servants. And the inference
naturally drawn is, that you were on your way to the inn. It may
be important for you to know this; and I have taken the liberty
of mentioning it accordingly." He consulted his watch. "Event
related. Time, one minute."
He had excited her curiosity, to begin with. "Which of the women
saw me?" she asked, impulsively.
Sir Patrick (watch in hand) declined to prolong the interview by
answering any incidental inquiries which might arise in the
course of it.
"Pardon me," he rejoined; "I am pledged to occupy three minutes
only. I have no room for the woman. With your kind permission, I
will get on to the messages next."
Anne remained silent. Sir Patrick went on.
"First message: 'Lady Lundie's compliments to her step-daughter's
late governess--with whose married name she is not acquainted.
Lady Lundie regrets to say that Sir Patrick, as head of the
family, has threatened to return to Edinburgh, unless she
consents to be guided by his advice in the course she pursues
with the late governess. Lady Lundie, accordingly, foregoes her
intention of calling at the Craig Fernie inn, to express her
sentiments and make her inquiries in person, and commits to Sir
Patrick the duty of expressing her sentiments; reserving to
herself the right of making her inquiries at the next convenient
opportunity. Through the medium of her brother-in-law, she begs
to inform the late governess that all intercourse is at an end
between them, and that she declines to act as reference in case
of future emergency.'--Message textually correct. Expressive of
Lady Lundie's view of your sudden departure from the house. Time,
Anne's color rose. Anne's pride was up in arms on the spot.
"The impertinence of Lady Lundie's message is no more than I
should have expected from her," she said. "I am only surprised at
Sir Patrick's delivering it."
"Sir Patrick's motives will appear presently," rejoined the
incorrigible old gentleman. "Second message: 'Blanche's fondest
love. Is dying to be acquainted with Anne's husband, and to be
informed of Anne's married name. Feels indescribable anxiety and
apprehension on Anne's account. Insists on hearing from Anne
immediately. Longs, as she never longed for any thing yet, to
order her pony-chaise and drive full gallop to the inn. Yields,
under irresistible pressure, to t he exertion of her guardian's
authority, and commits the expression of her feelings to Sir
Patrick, who is a born tyrant, and doesn't in the least mind
breaking other people's hearts.' Sir Patrick, speaking for
himself, places his sister-in-law's view and his niece's view,
side by side, before the lady whom he has now the honor of
addressing, and on whose confidence he is especially careful not
to intrude. Reminds the lady that his influence at Windygates,
however strenuously he may exert it, is not likely to last
forever. Requests her to consider whether his sister-in-law's
view and his niece's view in collision, may not lead to very
undesirable domestic results; and leaves her to take the course
which seems best to herself under those circumstances.--Second
message delivered textually. Time, three minutes. A storm coming
on. A quarter of an hour's ride from here to the
shooting-cottage. Madam, I wish you good-evening."
He bowed lower than ever--and, without a word more, quietly left
Anne's first impulse was (excusably enough, poor soul) an impulse
"Thank you, Sir Patrick!" she said, with a bitter look at the
closing door. "The sympathy of society with a friendless woman
could hardly have been expressed in a more amusing way!"
The little irritation of the moment passed off with the moment.
Anne's own intelligence and good sense showed her the position in
its truer light.
She recognized in Sir Patrick's abrupt departure Sir Patrick's
considerate resolution to spare her from entering into any
details on the subject of her position at the inn. He had given
her a friendly warning; and he had delicately left her to decide
for herself as to the assistance which she might render him in
maintaining tranquillity at Windygates. She went at once to a
side-table in the room, on which writing materials were placed,
and sat down to write to Blanche.
"I can do nothing with Lady Lundie," she thought. "But I have
more influence than any body else over Blanche and I can prevent
the collision between them which Sir Patrick dreads."
She began the letter. "My dearest Blanche, I have seen Sir
Patrick, and he has given me your message. I will set your mind
at ease about me as soon as I can. But, before I say any thing
else, let me entreat you, as the greatest favor you can do to
your sister and your friend, not to enter into any disputes about
me with Lady Lundie, and not to commit the imprudence--the
useless imprudence, my love--of coming here." She stopped--the
paper swam before her eyes. "My own darling!" she thought, "who
could have foreseen that I should ever shrink from the thought of
seeing _you?"_ She sighed, and dipped the pen in the ink, and
went on with the letter.
The sky darkened rapidly as the evening fell. The wind swept in
fainter and fainter gusts across the dreary moor. Far and wide
over the face of Nature the stillness was fast falling which
tells of a coming storm.
CHAPTER THE TWELFTH.
MEANWHILE Arnold remained shut up in the head-waiter's
pantry--chafing secretly at the position forced upon him.
He was, for the first time in his life, in hiding from another
person, and that person a man. Twice--stung to it by the
inevitable loss of self-respect which his situation
occasioned--he had gone to the door, determined to face Sir
Patrick boldly; and twice he had abandoned the idea, in mercy to
Anne. It would have been impossible for him to set himself right
with Blanche's guardian without betraying the unhappy woman whose
secret he was bound in honor to keep. "I wish to Heaven I had
never come here!" was the useless aspiration that escaped him, as
he doggedly seated himself on the dresser to wait till Sir
Patrick's departure set him free.
After an interval--not by any means the long interval which he
had anticipated--his solitude was enlivened by the appearance of
"Well?" cried Arnold, jumping off the dresser, "is the coast
There were occasions when Mr. Bishopriggs became, on a sudden,
unexpectedly hard of hearing, This was one of them.
"Hoo do ye find the paintry?" he asked, without paying the
slightest attention to Arnold's question. "Snug and private? A
Patmos in the weelderness, as ye may say!"
His one available eye, which had begun by looking at Arnold's
face, dropped slowly downward, and fixed itself, in mute but
eloquent expectation, on Arnold's waistcoat pocket.
"I understand!" said Arnold. "I promised to pay you for the
Patmos--eh? There you are!"
Mr. Bishopriggs pocketed the money with a dreary smile and a
sympathetic shake of the head. Other waiters would have returned
thanks. The sage of Craig Fernie returned a few brief remarks
instead. Admirable in many things, Father Bishopriggs was
especially great at drawing a moral. He drew a moral on this
occasion from his own gratuity.
"There I am--as ye say. Mercy presairve us! ye need the siller at
every turn, when there's a woman at yer heels. It's an awfu'
reflection--ye canna hae any thing to do wi' the sex they ca' the
opposite sex without its being an expense to ye. There's this
young leddy o' yours, I doot she'll ha' been an expense to ye
from the first. When you were coortin' her, ye did it, I'll go
bail, wi' the open hand. Presents and keep-sakes, flowers and
jewelery, and little dogues. Sair expenses all of them!"
"Hang your reflections! Has Sir Patrick left the inn?"
The reflections of Mr. Bishopriggs declined to be disposed of in
any thing approaching to a summary way. On they flowed from their
parent source, as slowly and as smoothly as ever!
"Noo ye're married to her, there's her bonnets and goons and
under-clothin'--her ribbons, laces, furbelows, and fallals. A
sair expense again!"
"What is the expense of cutting your reflections short, Mr.
"Thirdly, and lastly, if ye canna agree wi' her as time gaes
on--if there's incompaitibeelity of temper betwixt ye--in short,
if ye want a wee bit separation, hech, Sirs! ye pet yer hand in
yer poaket, and come to an aimicable understandin' wi' her in
that way. Or, maybe she takes ye into Court, and pets _her_ hand
in your poaket, and comes to a hoastile understandin' wi' ye
there. Show me a woman--and I'll show ye a man not far off wha'
has mair expenses on his back than he ever bairgained for."
Arnold's patience would last no longer--he turned to the door.
Mr. Bishopriggs, with equal alacrity on his side, turned to the
matter in hand. "Yes, Sir! The room is e'en clear o' Sir
Paitrick, and the leddy's alane, and waitin' for ye."
In a moment more Arnold was back in the sitting-room.
"Well?" he asked, anxiously. "What is it? Bad news from Lady
Anne closed and directed the letter to Blanche, which she had
just completed. "No," she replied. "Nothing to interest _you."_."
"What did Sir Patrick want?"
"Only to warn me. They have found out at Windygates that I am
"That's awkward, isn't it?"
"Not in the least. I can manage perfectly; I have nothing to
fear. Don't think of _me_--think of yourself."
"I am not suspected, am I?"
"Thank heaven--no. But there is no knowing what may happen if you
stay here. Ring the bell at once, and ask the waiter about the
Struck by the unusual obscurity of the sky at that hour of the
evening, Arnold went to the window. The rain had come--and was
falling heavily. The view on the moor was fast disappearing in
mist and darkness.
"Pleasant weather to travel in!" he said.
"The railway!" Anne exclaimed, impatiently. "It's getting late.
See about the railway!"
Arnold walked to the fire-place to ring the bell. The railway
time-table hanging over it met his eye.
"Here's the information I want," he said to Anne; "if I only knew
how to get at it. 'Down'--'Up'--'A. M.'--P. M.' What a cursed
confusion! I believe they do it on purpose."
Anne joined him at the fire-place.
"I understand it--I'll help you. Did you say it was the up train
"What is the name of the station you stop at?"
Arnold told her. She followed the intricate net-work of lines and
figures with her finger--suddenly stopped--looked again to make
sure--and turned from the time-table with a face of blank
despair. The last train for the day had gone an hour since.
In the silence which followed that discovery, a first flash of
lightning passed across the window and the low roll of thunder
sounded the outbreak of the storm.
"What's to be done now?" asked Arnold.
In the face of the storm, Anne answered without hesitation, "You
must take a carriage, and drive."
"Drive? They told me it was three-and-twenty miles, by railway,
from the station to my place--let alone the distance from this
inn to the station."
"What does the distance matter? Mr. Brinkworth, you can't
possibly stay here!"
A second flash of lightning crossed the window; the roll of the
thunder came nearer. Even Arnold's good temper began to be a
little ruffled by Anne's determination to get rid of him. He sat
down with the air of a man who had made up his mind not to leave
"Do you hear that?" he asked, as the sound of the thunder died
away grandly, and the hard pattering of the rain on the window
became audible once more. "If I ordered horses, do you think they
would let me have them, in such weather as this? And, if they
did, do you suppose the horses could face it on the moor? No, no,
Miss Silvester--I am sorry to be in the way, but the train has
gone, and the night and the storm have come. I have no choice but
to stay here!"
Anne still maintained her own view, but less resolutely than
before. "After what you have told the landlady," she said, "think
of the embarrassment, the cruel embarrassment of our position, if
you stop at the inn till to-morrow morning!"
"Is that all?" returned Arnold.
Anne looked up at him, quickly and angrily. No! he was quite
unconscious of having said any thing that could offend her. His
rough masculine sense broke its way unconsciously through all the
little feminine subtleties and delicacies of his companion, and
looked the position practically in the face for what it was
worth, and no more. "Where's the embarrassment?" he asked,
pointing to the bedroom door. "There's your room, all ready for
you. And here's the sofa, in this room, all ready for _me._ If
you had seen the places I have slept in at sea--!"
She interrupted him, without ceremony. The places he had slept
in, at sea, were of no earthly importance. The one question to
consider, was the place he was to sleep in that night.
"If you must stay," she rejoined, "can't you get a room in some
other part of the house?"
But one last mistake in dealing with her, in her present nervous
condition, was left to make--and the innocent Arnold made it. "In
some other part of the house?" he repeated, jestingly. "The
landlady would be scandalized. Mr. Bishopriggs would never allow
She rose, and stamped her foot impatiently on the floor. "Don't
joke!" she exclaimed. "This is no laughing matter." She paced the
room excitedly. "I don't like it! I don't like it!"
Arnold looked after her, with a stare of boyish wonder.
"What puts you out so?" he asked. "Is it the storm?"
She threw herself on the sofa again. "Yes," she said, shortly.
"It's the storm."
Arnold's inexhaustible good-nature was at once roused to activity
"Shall we have the candles," he suggested, "and shut the weather
out?" She turned irritably on the sofa, without replying. "I'll
promise to go away the first thing in the morning!" he went on.
"Do try and take it easy--and don't be angry with me. Come! come!
you wouldn't turn a dog out, Miss Silvester, on such a night as
He was irresistible. The most sensitive woman breathing could not
have accused him of failing toward her in any single essential of
consideration and respect. He wanted tact, poor fellow--but who
could expect him to have learned that always superficial (and
sometimes dangerous) accomplishment, in the life he had led at
sea? At the sight of his honest, pleading face, Anne recovered
possession of her gentler and sweeter self. She made her excuses
for her irritability with a grace that enchanted him. "We'll have
a pleasant evening of it yet!" cried Arnold, in his hearty
way--and rang the bell.
The bell was hung outside the door of that Patmos in the
wilderness--otherwise known as the head-waiter's pantry. Mr.
Bishopriggs (employing his brief leisure in the seclusion of his
own apartment) had just mixed a glass of the hot and comforting
liquor called "toddy" in the language of North Britain, and was
just lifting it to his lips, when the summons from Arnold invited
him to leave his grog.
"Haud yer screechin' tongue! " cried Mr. Bishopriggs, addressing
the bell through the door. "Ye're waur than a woman when ye aince
The bell--like the woman--went on again. Mr. Bishopriggs, equally
pertinacious, went on with his toddy.
"Ay! ay! ye may e'en ring yer heart out--but ye won't part a
Scotchman from his glass. It's maybe the end of their dinner
they'll be wantin'. Sir Paitrick cam' in at the fair beginning of
it, and spoilt the collops, like the dour deevil he is!" The bell
rang for the third time. "Ay! ay! ring awa'! I doot yon young
gentleman's little better than a belly-god--there's a scandalous
haste to comfort the carnal part o' him in a' this ringin'! He
knows naething o' wine," added Mr. Bishopriggs, on whose mind
Arnold's discovery of the watered sherry still dwelt
The lightning quickened, and lit the sitting-room horribly with
its lurid glare; the thunder rolled nearer and nearer over the
black gulf of the moor. Arnold had just raised his hand to ring
for the fourth time, when the inevitable knock was heard at the
door. It was useless to say "come in." The immutable laws of
Bishopriggs had decided that a second knock was necessary. Storm
or no storm, the second knock came--and then, and not till then,
the sage appeared, with the dish of untasted "collops" in his
"Candles!" said Arnold.
Mr. Bishopriggs set the "collops" (in the language of England,
minced meat) upon the table, lit the candles on the mantle-piece,
faced about with the fire of recent toddy flaming in his nose,
and waited for further orders, before he went back to his second
glass. Anne declined to return to the dinner. Arnold ordered Mr.
Bishopriggs to close the shutters, and sat down to dine by
"It looks greasy, and smells greasy," he said to Anne, turning
over the collops with a spoon. "I won't be ten minutes dining.
Will you have some tea?"
Anne declined again.
Arnold tried her once more. "What shall we do to get through the
"Do what you like," she answered, resignedly.
Arnold's mind was suddenly illuminated by an idea.
"I have got it!" he exclaimed. "We'll kill the time as our
cabin-passengers used to kill it at sea." He looked over his
shoulder at Mr. Bishopriggs. "Waiter! bring a pack of cards."
"What's that ye're wantin'?" asked Mr. Bishopriggs, doubting the
evidence of his own senses.
"A pack of cards," repeated Arnold.
"Cairds?" echoed Mr. Bishopriggs. "A pack o' cairds? The deevil's
allegories in the deevil's own colors--red and black! I wunna
execute yer order. For yer ain saul's sake, I wunna do it. Ha' ye
lived to your time o' life, and are ye no' awakened yet to the
awfu' seenfulness o' gamblin' wi' the cairds?"
"Just as you please," returned Arnold. "You will find me
awakened--when I go away--to the awful folly of feeing a waiter."
"Does that mean that ye're bent on the cairds?" asked Mr.
Bishopriggs, suddenly betraying signs of worldly anxiety in his
look and manner.
"Yes--that means I am bent on the cards."
"I tak' up my testimony against 'em--but I'm no' telling ye that
I canna lay my hand on 'em if I like. What do they say in my
country? 'Him that will to Coupar, maun to Coupar.' And what do
they say in your country? 'Needs must when the deevil drives.' "
With that excellent reason for turning his back on his own
principles, Mr. Bishopriggs shuffled out of the room to fetch the
The dresser-drawer in the pantry contained a choice selection of
miscellaneous objects--a pack of cards being among them. In
searching for the cards, the wary hand of the head-waiter came in
contact with a morsel of crumpled-up paper. He drew it out, and
recognized the letter which he had picked up in the sitting-room
s ome hours since.
"Ay! ay! I'll do weel, I trow, to look at this while my mind's
runnin' on it," said Mr. Bishopriggs. "The cairds may e'en find
their way to the parlor by other hands than mine."
He forthwith sent the cards to Arnold by his second in command,
closed the pantry door, and carefully smoothed out the crumpled
sheet of paper on which the two letters were written. This done,
he trimmed his candle, and began with the letter in ink, which
occupied the first three pages of the sheet of note-paper.
It ran thus:
"WINDYGATES HOUSE, _August_ 12, 1868.
"GEOFFREY DELAMAYN,--I have waited in the hope that you would
ride over from your brother's place, and see me--and I have
waited in vain. Your conduct to me is cruelty itself; I will bear
it no longer. Consider! in your own interests, consider--before
you drive the miserable woman who has trusted you to despair. You
have promised me marriage by all that is sacred. I claim your
promise. I insist on nothing less than to be what you vowed I
should be--what I have waited all this weary time to be--what I
_am_, in the sight of Heaven, your wedded wife. Lady Lundie gives
a lawn-party here on the 14th. I know you have been asked. I
expect you to accept her invitation. If I don't see you, I won't
answer for what may happen. My mind is made up to endure this
suspense no longer. Oh, Geoffrey, remember the past! Be
faithful--be just--to your loving wife,
Mr. Bishopriggs paused. His commentary on the correspondence, so
far, was simple enough. "Hot words (in ink) from the leddy to the
gentleman!" He ran his eye over the second letter, on the fourth
page of the paper, and added, cynically, "A trifle caulder (in
pencil) from the gentleman to the leddy! The way o' the warld,
Sirs! From the time o' Adam downwards, the way o' the warld!"
The second letter ran thus:
"DEAR ANNE,--Just called to London to my father. They have
telegraphed him in a bad way. Stop where you are, and I will
write you. Trust the bearer. Upon my soul, I'll keep my promise.
Your loving husband that is to be,
WINDYGATES HOUSE, _Augt._ 14, 4 P. M.
"In a mortal hurry. Train starts at 4.30."
There it ended!
"Who are the pairties in the parlor? Is ane o' them 'Silvester?'
and t'other 'Delamayn?' " pondered Mr. Bishopriggs, slowly
folding the letter up again in its original form. "Hech, Sirs!
what, being intairpreted, may a' this mean?"
He mixed himself a second glass of toddy, as an aid to
reflection, and sat sipping the liquor, and twisting and turning
the letter in his gouty fingers. It was not easy to see his way
to the true connection between the lady and gentleman in the
parlor and the two letters now in his own possession. They might
be themselves the writers of the letters, or they might be only
friends of the writers. Who was to decide?
In the first case, the lady's object would appear to have been as
good as gained; for the two had certainly asserted themselves to
be man and wife, in his own presence, and in the presence of the
landlady. In the second case, the correspondence so carelessly
thrown aside might, for all a stranger knew to the contrary,
prove to be of some importance in the future. Acting on this
latter view, Mr. Bishopriggs--whose past experience as "a bit
clerk body," in Sir Patrick's chambers, had made a man of
business of him--produced his pen and ink, and indorsed the
letter with a brief dated statement of the circumstances under
which he had found it. "I'll do weel to keep the Doecument," he
thought to himself. "Wha knows but there'll be a reward offered
for it ane o' these days? Eh! eh! there may be the warth o' a fi'
pun' note in this, to a puir lad like me!"
With that comforting reflection, he drew out a battered tin
cash-box from the inner recesses of the drawer, and locked up the
stolen correspondence to bide its time.
The storm rose higher and higher as the evening advanced.
In the sitting-room, the state of affairs, perpetually changing,
now presented itself under another new aspect.
Arnold had finished his dinner, and had sent it away. He had next
drawn a side-table up to the sofa on which Anne lay--had shuffled
the pack of cards--and was now using all his powers of persuasion
to induce her to try one game at _Ecarté_ with him, by way
of diverting her attention from the tumult of the storm. In sheer
weariness, she gave up contesting the matter; and, raising
herself languidly on the sofa, said she would try to play.
"Nothing can make matters worse than they are," she thought,
despairingly, as Arnold dealt the cards for her. "Nothing can
justify my inflicting my own wretchedness on this kind-hearted
Two worse players never probably sat down to a game. Anne's
attention perpetually wandered; and Anne's companion was, in all
human probability, the most incapable card-player in Europe.
Anne turned up the trump--the nine of Diamonds. Arnold looked at
his hand--and "proposed." Anne declined to change the cards.
Arnold announced, with undiminished good-humor, that he saw his
way clearly, now, to losing the game, and then played his first
card--the Queen of Trumps!
Anne took it with the King, and forgot to declare the King. She
played the ten of Trumps.
Arnold unexpectedly discovered the eight of Trumps in his hand.
"What a pity!" he said, as he played it. "Hullo! you haven't
marked the King! I'll do it for you. That's two--no, three--to
you. I said I should lose the game. Couldn't be expected to do
any thing (could I?) with such a hand as mine. I've lost every
thing now I've lost my trumps. You to play."
Anne looked at her hand. At the same moment the lightning flashed
into the room through the ill-closed shutters; the roar of the
thunder burst over the house, and shook it to its foundation. The
screaming of some hysterical female tourist, and the barking of a
dog, rose shrill from the upper floor of the inn. Anne's nerves
could support it no longer. She flung her cards on the table, and
sprang to her feet.
"I can play no more," she said. "Forgive me--I am quite unequal
to it. My head burns! my heart stifles me!"
She began to pace the room again. Aggravated by the effect of the
storm on her nerves, her first vague distrust of the false
position into which she and Arnold had allowed themselves to
drift had strengthened, by this time, into a downright horror of
their situation which was not to be endured. Nothing could
justify such a risk as the risk they were now running! They had
dined together like married people--and there they were, at that
moment, shut in together, and passing the evening like man and
"Oh, Mr. Brinkworth!" she pleaded. "Think--for Blanche's sake,
think--is there no way out of this?"
Arnold was quietly collecting the scattered cards.
"Blanche, again?" he said, with the most exasperating composure.
"I wonder how she feels, in this storm?"
In Anne's excited state, the reply almost maddened her. She
turned from Arnold, and hurried to the door.
"I don't care!" she cried, wildly. "I won't let this deception go
on. I'll do what I ought to have done before. Come what may of
it, I'll tell the landlady the truth!"
She had opened the door, and was on the point of stepping into
the passage--when she stopped, and started violently. Was it
possible, in that dreadful weather, that she had actually heard
the sound of carriage wheels on the strip of paved road outside
Yes! others had heard the sound too. The hobbling figure of Mr.
Bishopriggs passed her in the passage, making for the house door.
The hard voice of the landlady rang through the inn, ejaculating
astonishment in broad Scotch. Anne closed the sitting-room door
again, and turned to Arnold--who had risen, in surprise, to his
"Travelers!" she exclaimed. "At this time!"
"And in this weather!" added Arnold.
"_Can_ it be Geoffrey?" she asked--going back to the old vain
delusion that he might yet feel for her, and return.
Arnold shook his head. "Not Geoffrey. Whoever else it may be--not
Mrs. Inchbare suddenly entered the room--with her cap-ribb ons
flying, her eyes staring, and her bones looking harder than ever.
"Eh, mistress!" she said to Anne. "Wha do ye think has driven
here to see ye, from Windygates Hoose, and been owertaken in the
Anne was speechless. Arnold put the question: "Who is it?"
"Wha is't?" repeated Mrs. Inchbare. "It's joost the bonny young
leddy--Miss Blanche hersel'."
An irrepressible cry of horror burst from Anne. The landlady set
it down to the lightning, which flashed into the room again at
the same moment.
"Eh, mistress! ye'll find Miss Blanche a bit baulder than to
skirl at a flash o' lightning, that gait! Here she is, the bonny
birdie!" exclaimed Mrs. Inchbare, deferentially backing out into
the passage again.
Blanche's voice reached them, calling for Anne.
Anne caught Arnold by the hand and wrung it hard. "Go!" she
whispered. The next instant she was at the mantle-piece, and had
blown out both the candles.
Another flash of lightning came through the darkness, and showed
Blanche's figure standing at the door.
CHAPTER THE THIRTEENTH.
MRS. INCHBARE was the first person who acted in the emergency.
She called for lights; and sternly rebuked the house-maid, who
brought them, for not having closed the house door. "Ye feckless
ne'er-do-weel!" cried the landlady; "the wind's blawn the candles
The woman declared (with perfect truth) that the door had been
closed. An awkward dispute might have ensued if Blanche had not
diverted Mrs. Inchbare's attention to herself. The appearance of
the lights disclosed her, wet through with her arms round Anne's
neck. Mrs. Inchbare digressed at once to the pressing question of
changing the young lady's clothes, and gave Anne the opportunity
of looking round her, unobserved. Arnold had made his escape
before the candles had been brought in.
In the mean time Blanche's attention was absorbed in her own
"Good gracious! I'm absolutely distilling rain from every part of
me. And I'm making you, Anne, as wet as I am! Lend me some dry
things. You can't? Mrs. Inchbare, what does your experience
suggest? Which had I better do? Go to bed while my clothes are
being dried? or borrow from your wardrobe--though you _are_ a
head and shoulders taller than I am?"
Mrs. Inchbare instantly bustled out to fetch the choicest
garments that her wardrobe could produce. The moment the door had
closed on her Blanche looked round the room in her turn.
The rights of affection having been already asserted, the claims
of curiosity naturally pressed for satisfaction next.
"Somebody passed me in the dark," she whispered. "Was it your
husband? I'm dying to be introduced to him. And, oh my dear! what
_is_ your married name?"
Anne answered, coldly, "Wait a little. I can't speak about it
"Are you ill?" asked Blanche.
"I am a little nervous."
"Has any thing unpleasant happened between you and my uncle? You
have seen him, haven't you?"
"Did he give you my message?"
"He gave me your message.--Blanche! you promised him to stay at
Windygates. Why, in the name of heaven, did you come here
"If you were half as fond of me as I am of you," returned
Blanche, "you wouldn't ask that. I tried hard to keep my promise,
but I couldn't do it. It was all very well, while my uncle was
laying down the law--with Lady Lundie in a rage, and the dogs
barking, and the doors banging, and all that. The excitement kept
me up. But when my uncle had gone, and the dreadful gray, quiet,
rainy evening came, and it had all calmed down again, there was
no bearing it. The house--without you--was like a tomb. If I had
had Arnold with me I might have done very well. But I was all by
myself. Think of that! Not a soul to speak to! There wasn't a
horrible thing that could possibly happen to you that I didn't
fancy was going to happen. I went into your empty room and looked
at your things. _That_ settled it, my darling! I rushed down
stairs--carried away, positively carried away, by an Impulse
beyond human resistance. How could I help it? I ask any
reasonable person how could I help it? I ran to the stables and
found Jacob. Impulse--all impulse! I said, 'Get the
pony-chaise--I must have a drive--I don't care if it rains--you
come with me.' All in a breath, and all impulse! Jacob behaved
like an angel. He said, 'All right, miss.' I am perfectly certain
Jacob would die for me if I asked him. He is drinking hot grog at
this moment, to prevent him from catching cold, by my express
orders. He had the pony-chaise out in two minutes; and off we
went. Lady Lundie, my dear, prostrate in her own room--too much
sal volatile. I hate her. The rain got worse. I didn't mind it.
Jacob didn't mind it. The pony didn't mind it. They had both
caught my impulse--especially the pony. It didn't come on to
thunder till some time afterward; and then we were nearer Craig
Fernie than Windygates--to say nothing of your being at one place
and not at the other. The lightning was quite awful on the moor.
If I had had one of the horses, he would have been frightened.
The pony shook his darling little head, and dashed through it. He
is to have beer. A mash with beer in it--by my express orders.
When he has done we'll borrow a lantern, and go into the stable,
and kiss him. In the mean time, my dear, here I am--wet through
in a thunderstorm, which doesn't in the least matter--and
determined to satisfy my own mind about you, which matters a
great deal, and must and shall be done before I rest to-night! "
She turned Anne, by main force, as she spoke, toward the light of
Her tone changed the moment she looked at Anne's face.
"I knew it!" she said. "You would never have kept the most
interesting event in your life a secret from _me_--you would
never have written me such a cold formal letter as the letter you
left in your room--if there had not been something wrong. I said
so at the time. I know it now! Why has your husband forced you to
leave Windygates at a moment's notice? Why does he slip out of
the room in the dark, as if he was afraid of being seen? Anne!
Anne! what has come to you? Why do you receive me in this way?"
At that critical moment Mrs. Inchbare reappeared, with the
choicest selection of wearing apparel which her wardrobe could
furnish. Anne hailed the welcome interruption. She took the
candles, and led the way into the bedroom immediately.
"Change your wet clothes first," she said. "We can talk after
The bedroom door had hardly been closed a minute before there was
a tap at it. Signing to Mrs. Inchbare not to interrupt the
services she was rendering to Blanche, Anne passed quickly into
the sitting-room, and closed the door behind her. To her infinite
relief, she only found herself face to face with the discreet Mr.
"What do you want?" she asked.
The eye of Mr. Bishopriggs announced, by a wink, that his mission
was of a confidential nature. The hand of Mr. Bishopriggs
wavered; the breath of Mr. Bishopriggs exhaled a spirituous fume.
He slowly produced a slip of paper, with some lines of writing on
"From ye ken who," he explained, jocosely. "A bit love-letter, I
trow, from him that's dear to ye. Eh! he's an awfu' reprobate is
him that's dear to ye. Miss, in the bedchamber there, will nae
doot be the one he's jilted for _you?_ I see it all--ye can't
blind Me--I ha' been a frail person my ain self, in my time.
Hech! he's safe and sound, is the reprobate. I ha' lookit after
a' his little creature-comforts--I'm joost a fether to him, as
well as a fether to you. Trust Bishopriggs--when puir human
nature wants a bit pat on the back, trust Bishopriggs."
While the sage was speaking these comfortable words, Anne was
reading the lines traced on the paper. They were signed by
Arnold; and they ran thus:
"I am in the smoking-room of the inn. It rests with you to say
whether I must stop there. I don't believe Blanche would be
jealous. If I knew how to explain my being at the inn without
betraying the confidence which you and Geoffrey have placed in
me, I wouldn't be away from her another moment. It does grate on
me so! At the same time, I don't want to make your position
harder than it is. Think of yourself f irst. I leave it in your
hands. You have only to say, Wait, by the bearer--and I shall
understand that I am to stay where I am till I hear from you
Anne looked up from the message.
"Ask him to wait," she said; "and I will send word to him again."
"Wi' mony loves and kisses," suggested Mr. Bishopriggs, as a
necessary supplement to the message." Eh! it comes as easy as A.
B. C. to a man o' my experience. Ye can ha' nae better
gae-between than yer puir servant to command, Sawmuel
Bishopriggs. I understand ye baith pairfeckly." He laid his
forefinger along his flaming nose, and withdrew.
Without allowing herself to hesitate for an instant, Anne opened
the bedroom door--with the resolution of relieving Arnold from
the new sacrifice imposed on him by owning the truth.
"Is that you?" asked Blanche.
At the sound of her voice, Anne started back guiltily. "I'll be
with you in a moment," she answered, and closed the door again
No! it was not to be done. Something in Blanche's trivial
question--or something, perhaps, in the sight of Blanche's
face--roused the warning instinct in Anne, which silenced her on
the very brink of the disclosure. At the last moment the iron
chain of circumstances made itself felt, binding her without
mercy to the hateful, the degrading deceit. Could she own the
truth, about Geoffrey and herself, to Blanche? and, without
owning it, could she explain and justify Arnold's conduct in
joining her privately at Craig Fernie? A shameful confession made
to an innocent girl; a risk of fatally shaking Arnold's place in
Blanche's estimation; a scandal at the inn, in the disgrace of
which the others would be involved with herself--this was the
price at which she must speak, if she followed her first impulse,
and said, in so many words, "Arnold is here."
It was not to be thought of. Cost what it might in present
wretchedness--end how it might, if the deception was discovered
in the future--Blanche must be kept in ignorance of the truth,
Arnold must be kept in hiding until she had gone.
Anne opened the door for the second time, and went in.
The business of the toilet was standing still. Blanche was in
confidential communication with Mrs. Inchbare. At the moment when
Anne entered the room she was eagerly questioning the landlady
about her friend's "invisible husband"--she was just saying, "Do
tell me! what is he like?"
The capacity for accurate observation is a capacity so uncommon,
and is so seldom associated, even where it does exist, with the
equally rare gift of accurately describing the thing or the
person observed, that Anne's dread of the consequences if Mrs.
Inchbare was allowed time to comply with Blanches request, was,
in all probability, a dread misplaced. Right or wrong, however,
the alarm that she felt hurried her into taking measures for
dismissing the landlady on the spot. "We mustn't keep you from
your occupations any longer," she said to Mrs. Inchbare. "I will
give Miss Lundie all the help she needs."
Barred from advancing in one direction, Blanche's curiosity
turned back, and tried in another. She boldly addressed herself
"I _must_ know something about him," she said. "Is he shy before
strangers? I heard you whispering with him on the other side of
the door. Are you jealous, Anne? Are you afraid I shall fascinate
him in this dress?"
Blanche, in Mrs. Inchbare's best gown--an ancient and
high-waisted silk garment, of the hue called "bottle-green,"
pinned up in front, and trailing far behind her--with a short,
orange-colored shawl over her shoulders, and a towel tied turban
fashion round her head, to dry her wet hair, looked at once the
strangest and the prettiest human anomaly that ever was seen.
"For heaven's sake," she said, gayly, "don't tell your husband I
am in Mrs. Inchbare's clothes! I want to appear suddenly, without
a word to warn him of what a figure I am! I should have nothing
left to wish for in this world," she added, " if Arnold could
only see me now!"
Looking in the glass, she noticed Anne's face reflected behind
her, and started at the sight of it.
"What _is_ the matter?" she asked. "Your face frightens me."
It was useless to prolong the pain of the inevitable
misunderstanding between them. The one course to take was to
silence all further inquiries then and there. Strongly as she
felt this, Anne's inbred loyalty to Blanche still shrank from
deceiving her to her face. "I might write it," she thought. "I
can't say it, with Arnold Brinkworth in the same house with her!
"Write it? As she reconsidered the word, a sudden idea struck
her. She opened the bedroom door, and led the way back into the
"Gone again!" exclaimed Blanche, looking uneasily round the empty
room. "Anne! there's something so strange in all this, that I
neither can, nor will, put up with your silence any longer. It's
not just, it's not kind, to shut me out of your confidence, after
we have lived together like sisters all our lives!"
Anne sighed bitterly, and kissed her on the forehead. "You shall
know all I can tell you--all I _dare_ tell you," she said,
gently. "Don't reproach me. It hurts me more than you think."
She turned away to the side table, and came back with a letter in
her hand. "Read that," she said, and handed it to Blanche.
Blanche saw her own name, on the address, in the handwriting of
"What does this mean?" she asked.
"I wrote to you, after Sir Patrick had left me," Anne replied. "I
meant you to have received my letter to-morrow, in time to
prevent any little imprudence into which your anxiety might hurry
you. All that I _can_ say to you is said there. Spare me the
distress of speaking. Read it, Blanche."
Blanche still held the letter, unopened.
"A letter from you to me! when we are both together, and both
alone in the same room! It's worse than formal, Anne! It's as if
there was a quarrel between us. Why should it distress you to
speak to me?"
Anne's eyes dropped to the ground. She pointed to the letter for
the second time.
Blanche broke the seal.
She passed rapidly over the opening sentences, and devoted all
her attention to the second paragraph.
"And now, my love, you will expect me to atone for the surprise
and distress that I have caused you, by explaining what my
situation really is, and by telling you all my plans for the
future. Dearest Blanche! don't think me untrue to the affection
we bear toward each other--don't think there is any change in my
heart toward you--believe only that I am a very unhappy woman,
and that I am in a position which forces me, against my own will,
to be silent about myself. Silent even to you, the sister of my
love--the one person in the world who is dearest to me! A time
may come when I shall be able to open my heart to you. Oh, what
good it will do me! what a relief it will be! For the present, I
must be silent. For the present, we must be parted. God knows
what it costs me to write this. I think of the dear old days that
are gone; I remember how I promised your mother to be a sister to
you, when her kind eyes looked at me, for the last time--_your_
mother, who was an angel from heaven to _ mine!_ All this comes
back on me now, and breaks my heart. But it must be! my own
Blanche, for the present. it must be! I will write often--I will
think of you, my darling, night and day, till a happier future
unites us again. God bless _you,_ my dear one! And God help _
Blanche silently crossed the room to the sofa on which Anne was
sitting, and stood there for a moment, looking at her. She sat
down, and laid her head on Anne's shoulder. Sorrowfully and
quietly, she put the letter into her bosom--and took Anne's hand,
and kissed it.
"All my questions are answered, dear. I will wait your time."
It was simply, sweetly, generously said.
Anne burst into tears.
* * * * * *
The rain still fell, but the storm was dying away.
Blanche left the sofa, and, going to the window, opened the
shutters to look out at the night. She suddenly came back to
"I see lights," she said--"the lights of a carriage coming up out
of the darkness of the moor. They are sending after me, from
Windygates. Go into t he bedroom. It's just possible Lady Lundie
may have come for me herself."
The ordinary relations of the two toward each other were
completely reversed. Anne was like a child in Blanche's hands.
She rose, and withdrew.
Left alone, Blanche took the letter out of her bosom, and read it
again, in the interval of waiting for the carriage.
The second reading confirmed her in a resolution which she had
privately taken, while she had been sitting by Anne on the
sofa--a resolution destined to lead to far more serious results
in the future than any previsions of hers could anticipate. Sir
Patrick was the one person she knew on whose discretion and
experience she could implicitly rely. She determined, in Anne's
own interests, to take her uncle into her confidence, and to tell
him all that had happened at the inn "I'll first make him forgive
me," thought Blanche. "And then I'll see if he thinks as I do,
when I tell him about Anne."
The carriage drew up at the door; and Mrs. Inchbare showed
in--not Lady Lundie, but Lady Lundie's maid.
The woman's account of what had happened at Windygates was simple
enough. Lady Lundie had, as a matter of course, placed the right
interpretation on Blanche's abrupt departure in the pony-chaise,
and had ordered the carriage, with the firm determination of
following her step-daughter herself. But the agitations and
anxieties of the day had proved too much for her. She had been
seized by one of the attacks of giddiness to which she was always
subject after excessive mental irritation; and, eager as she was
(on more accounts than one) to go to the inn herself, she had
been compelled, in Sir Patrick's absence, to commit the pursuit
of Blanche to her own maid, in whose age and good sense she could
place every confidence. The woman seeing the state of the
weather--had thoughtfully brought a box with her, containing a
change of wearing apparel. In offering it to Blanche, she added,
with all due respect, that she had full powers from her mistress
to go on, if necessary, to the shooting-cottage, and to place the
matter in Sir Patrick's hands. This said, she left it to her
young lady to decide for herself, whether she would return to
Windygates, under present circumstances, or not.
Blanche took the box from the woman's hands, and joined Anne in
the bedroom, to dress herself for the drive home.
"I am going back to a good scolding," she said. "But a scolding
is no novelty in my experience of Lady Lundie. I'm not uneasy
about that, Anne--I'm uneasy about you. Can I be sure of one
thing--do you stay here for the present?"
The worst that could happen at the inn _had_ happened. Nothing
was to be gained now--and every thing might be lost--by leaving
the place at which Geoffrey had promised to write to her. Anne
answered that she proposed remaining at the inn for the present.
"You promise to write to me?"
"If there is any thing I can do for you--?"
"There is nothing, my love."
"There may be. If you want to see me, we can meet at Windygates
without being discovered. Come at luncheon-time--go around by the
shrubbery--and step in at the library window. You know as well as
I do there is nobody in the library at that hour. Don't say it's
impossible--you don't know what may happen. I shall wait ten
minutes every day on the chance of seeing you. That's
settled--and it's settled that you write. Before I go, darling,
is there any thing else we can think of for the future?"
At those words Anne suddenly shook off the depression that
weighed on her. She caught Blanche in her arms, she held Blanche
to her bosom with a fierce energy. "Will you always be to me, in
the future, what you are now?" she asked, abruptly. "Or is the
time coming when you will hate me?" She prevented any reply by a
kiss--and pushed Blanche toward the door. "We have had a happy
time together in the years that are gone," she said, with a
farewell wave of her hand. "Thank God for that! And never mind
She threw open the bedroom door, and called to the maid, in the
sitting-room. "Miss Lundie is waiting for you." Blanche pressed
her hand, and left her.
Anne waited a while in the bedroom, listening to the sound made
by the departure of the carriage from the inn door. Little by
little, the tramp of the horses and the noise of the rolling
wheels lessened and lessened. When the last faint sounds were
lost in silence she stood for a moment thinking--then, rousing on
a sudden, hurried into the sitting-room, and rang the bell.
"I shall go mad," she said to herself, "if I stay here alone."
Even Mr. Bishopriggs felt the necessity of being silent when he
stood face to face with her on answering the bell.
"I want to speak to him. Send him here instantly."
Mr. Bishopriggs understood her, and withdrew.
Arnold came in.
"Has she gone?" were the first words he said.
"She has gone. She won't suspect you when you see her again. I
have told her nothing. Don't ask me for my reasons!"
"I have no wish to ask you."
"Be angry with me, if you like!"
"I have no wish to be angry with you."
He spoke and looked like an altered man. Quietly seating himself
at the table, he rested his head on his hand--and so remained
silent. Anne was taken completely by surprise. She drew near, and
looked at him curiously. Let a woman's mood be what it may, it is
certain to feel the influence of any change for which she is
unprepared in the manner of a man--when that man interests her.
The cause of this is not to be found in the variableness of her
humor. It is far more probably to be traced to the noble
abnegation of Self, which is one of the grandest--and to the
credit of woman be it said--one of the commonest virtues of the
sex. Little by little, the sweet feminine charm of Anne's face
came softly and sadly back. The inbred nobility of the woman's
nature answered the call which the man had unconsciously made on
it. She touched Arnold on the shoulder.
"This has been hard on _you,_" she said. "And I am to blame for
it. Try and forgive me, Mr. Brinkworth. I am sincerely sorry. I
wish with all my heart I could comfort you!"
"Thank you, Miss Silvester. It was not a very pleasant feeling,
to be hiding from Blanche as if I was afraid of her--and it's set
me thinking, I suppose, for the first time in my life. Never
mind. It's all over now. Can I do any thing for you?"
"What do you propose doing to-night?"
"What I have proposed doing all along--my duty by Geoffrey. I
have promised him to see you through your difficulties here, and
to provide for your safety till he comes back. I can only make
sure of doing that by keeping up appearances, and staying in the
sitting-room to-night. When we next meet it will be under
pleasanter circumstances, I hope. I shall always be glad to think
that I was of some service to you. In the mean time I shall be
most likely away to-morrow morning before you are up."
Anne held out her hand to take leave. Nothing could undo what had
been done. The time for warning and remonstrance had passed away.
"You have not befriended an ungrateful woman," she said. "The day
may yet come, Mr. Brinkworth, when I shall prove it."
"I hope not, Miss Silvester. Good-by, and good luck!"
She withdrew into her own room. Arnold locked the sitting-room
door, and stretched himself on the sofa for the night.
* * * * * *
The morning was bright, the air was delicious after the storm.
Arnold had gone, as he had promised, before Anne was out of her
room. It was understood at the inn that important business had
unexpectedly called him south. Mr. Bishopriggs had been presented
with a handsome gratuity; and Mrs. Inchbare had been informed
that the rooms were taken for a week certain.
In every quarter but one the march of events had now, to all
appearance, fallen back into a quiet course. Arnold was on his
way to his estate; Blanche was safe at Windygates; Anne's
residence at the inn was assured for a week to come. The one
present doubt was the doubt which hung over Geoffrey's movements.
The one event still involved in darkness turned on the question
of life or death waiting for solution in London--otherwise, the
question of Lord Holchester's health. Taken by i tself, the
alternative, either way, was plain enough. If my lord
lived--Geoffrey would he free to come back, and marry her
privately in Scotland. If my lord died--Geoffrey would be free to
send for her, and marry her publicly in London. But could
Geoffrey be relied on?
Anne went out on to the terrace-ground in front of the inn. The
cool morning breeze blew steadily. Towering white clouds sailed
in grand procession over the heavens, now obscuring, and now
revealing the sun. Yellow light and purple shadow chased each
other over the broad brown surface of the moor--even as hope and
fear chased each other over Anne's mind, brooding on what might
come to her with the coming time.
She turned away, weary of questioning the impenetrable future,
and went back to the inn.
Crossing the hall she looked at the clock. It was past the hour
when the train from Perthshire was due in London. Geoffrey and
his brother were, at that moment, on their way to Lord
CHAPTER THE FOURTEENTH.
GEOFFREY AS A LETTER-WRITER.
LORD HOLCHESTER'S servants--with the butler at their head--were
on the look-out for Mr. Julius Delamayn's arrival from Scotland.
The appearance of the two brothers together took the whole
domestic establishment by surprise. Inquiries were addressed to
the butler by Julius; Geoffrey standing by, and taking no other
than a listener's part in the proceedings.
"Is my father alive?"
"His lordship, I am rejoiced to say, has astonished the doctors,
Sir. He rallied last night in the most wonderful way. If things
go on for the next eight-and-forty hours as they are going now,
my lord's recovery is considered certain."
"What was the illness?"
"A paralytic stroke, Sir. When her ladyship telegraphed to you in
Scotland the doctors had given his lordship up."
"Is my mother at home?"
"Her ladyship is at home to _you,_, Sir."'
The butler laid a special emphasis on the personal pronoun.
Julius turned to his brother. The change for the better in the
state of Lord Holchester's health made Geoffrey's position, at
that moment, an embarrassing one. He had been positively
forbidden to enter the house. His one excuse for setting that
prohibitory sentence at defiance rested on the assumption that
his father was actually dying. As matters now stood, Lord
Holchester's order remained in full force. The under-servants in
the hall (charged to obey that order as they valued their places)
looked from "Mr. Geoffrey" to the butler, The butler looked from
"Mr. Geoffrey" to "Mr. Julius." Julius looked at his brother.
There was an awkward pause. The position of the second son was
the position of a wild beast in the house--a creature to be got
rid of, without risk to yourself, if you only knew how.
Geoffrey spoke, and solved the problem
"Open the door, one of you fellows," he said to the footmen. "I'm
"Wait a minute," interposed his brother. "It will be a sad
disappointment to my mother to know that you have been here, and
gone away again without seeing her. These are no ordinary
circumstances, Geoffrey. Come up stairs with me--I'll take it on
"I'm blessed if I take it on _my_self!" returned Geoffrey. "Open
"Wait here, at any rate," pleaded Julius, "till I can send you
down a message."
"Send your message to Nagle's Hotel. I'm at home at Nagle's--I'm
not at home here."
At that point the discussion was interrupted by the appearance of
a little terrier in the hall. Seeing strangers, the dog began to
bark. Perfect tranquillity in the house had been absolutely
insisted on by the doctors; and the servants, all trying together
to catch the animal and quiet him, simply aggravated the noise he
was making. Geoffrey solved this problem also in his own decisive
way. He swung round as the dog was passing him, and kicked it
with his heavy boot. The little creature fell on the spot,
whining piteously. "My lady's pet dog!" exclaimed the butler.
"You've broken its ribs, Sir." "I've broken it of barking, you
mean," retorted Geoffrey. "Ribs be hanged!" He turned to his
brother. "That settles it," he said, jocosely. "I'd better defer
the pleasure of calling on dear mamma till the next opportunity.
Ta-ta, Julius. You know where to find me. Come, and dine. We'll
give you a steak at Nagle's that will make a man of you."
He went out. The tall footmen eyed his lordship's second son with
unaffected respect. They had seen him, in public, at the annual
festival of the Christian-Pugilistic-Association, with "the
gloves" on. He could have beaten the biggest man in the hall
within an inch of his life in three minutes. The porter bowed as
he threw open the door. The whole interest and attention of the
domestic establishment then present was concentrated on Geoffrey.
Julius went up stairs to his mother without attracting the
The month was August. The streets were empty. The vilest breeze
that blows--a hot east wind in London--was the breeze abroad on
that day. Even Geoffrey appeared to feel the influence of the
weather as the cab carried him from his father's door to the
hotel. He took off his hat, and unbuttoned his waistcoat, and lit
his everlasting pipe, and growled and grumbled between his teeth
in the intervals of smoking. Was it only the hot wind that wrung
from him these demonstrations of discomfort? Or was there some
secret anxiety in his mind which assisted the depressing
influences of the day? There was a secret anxiety in his mind.
And the name of it was--Anne.
As things actually were at that moment, what course was he to
take with the unhappy woman who was waiting to hear from him at
the Scotch inn?
To write? or not to write? That was the question with Geoffrey.
The preliminary difficulty, relating to addressing a letter to
Anne at the inn, had been already provided for. She had
decided--if it proved necessary to give her name, before Geoffrey
joined her--to call herself Mrs., instead of Miss, Silvester. A
letter addressed to "Mrs. Silvester" might be trusted to find its
way to her without causing any embarrassment. The doubt was not
here. The doubt lay, as usual, between two alternatives. Which
course would it be wisest to take?--to inform Anne, by that day's
post, that an interval of forty-eight hours must elapse before
his father's recovery could be considered certain? Or to wait
till the interval was over, and be guided by the result?
Considering the alternatives in the cab, he decided that the wise
course was to temporize with Anne, by reporting matters as they
Arrived at the hotel, he sat down to write the
letter--doubted--and tore it up--doubted again--and began
again--doubted once more--and tore up the second letter--rose to
his feet--and owned to himself (in unprintable language) that he
couldn't for the life of him decide which was safest--to write or
In this difficulty, his healthy physical instincts sent him to
healthy physical remedies for relief. "My mind's in a muddle,"
said Geoffrey. "I'll try a bath."
It was an elaborate bath, proceeding through many rooms, and
combining many postures and applications. He steamed. He plunged.
He simmered. He stood under a pipe, and received a cataract of
cold water on his head. He was laid on his back; he was laid on
his stomach; he was respectfully pounded and kneaded, from head
to foot, by the knuckles of accomplished practitioners. He came
out of it all, sleek, clear rosy, beautiful. He returned to the
hotel, and took up the writing materials--and behold the
intolerable indecision seized him again, declining to be washed
out! This time he laid it all to Anne. "That infernal woman will
be the ruin of me," said Geoffrey, taking up his hat. "I must try
The pursuit of the new remedy for stimulating a sluggish brain
took him to a public house, kept by the professional pedestrian
who had the honor of training him when he contended at Athletic
"A private room and the dumb-bells!" cried Geoffrey. "The
heaviest you have got."
He stripped himself of his upper clothing, and set to work, with
the heavy weights in each hand, waving them up and down, and
backward and forward, in every attainable variety o f movement,
till his magnificent muscles seemed on the point of starting
through his sleek skin. Little by little his animal spirits
roused themselves. The strong exertion intoxicated the strong
man. In sheer excitement he swore cheerfully--invoking thunder
and lightning, explosion and blood, in return for the compliments
profusely paid to him by the pedestrian and the pedestrian's son.
"Pen, ink, and paper!" he roared, when he could use the
dumb-bells no longer. "My mind's made up; I'll write, and have
done with it!" He sat down to his writing on the spot; actually
finished the letter; another minute would have dispatched it to
the post--and, in that minute, the maddening indecision took
possession of him once more. He opened the letter again, read it
over again, and tore it up again. "I'm out of my mind!" cried
Geoffrey, fixing his big bewildered blue eyes fiercely on the
professor who trained him. "Thunder and lightning! Explosion and
blood! Send for Crouch."
Crouch (known and respected wherever English manhood is known and
respected) was a retired prize-fighter. He appeared with the
third and last remedy for clearing the mind known to the
Honorable Geoffrey Delamayn--namely, two pair of boxing-gloves in
The gentleman and the prize-fighter put on the gloves, and faced
each other in the classically correct posture of pugilistic
defense. "None of your play, mind!" growled Geoffrey. "Fight, you
beggar, as if you were in the Ring again with orders to win." No
man knew better than the great and terrible Crouch what real
fighting meant, and what heavy blows might be given even with
such apparently harmless weapons as stuffed and padded gloves. He
pretended, and only pretended, to comply with his patron's
request. Geoffrey rewarded him for his polite forbearance by
knocking him down. The great and terrible rose with unruffled
composure. "Well hit, Sir!" he said. "Try it with the other hand
now." Geoffrey's temper was not under similar control. Invoking
everlasting destruction on the frequently-blackened eyes of
Crouch, he threatened instant withdrawal of his patronage and
support unless the polite pugilist hit, then and there, as hard
as he could. The hero of a hundred fights quailed at the dreadful
prospect. "I've got a family to support," remarked Crouch. "If
you _will_ have it, Sir--there it is!" The fall of Geoffrey
followed, and shook the house. He was on his legs again in an
instant--not satisfied even yet. "None of your body-hitting!" he
roared. "Stick to my head. Thunder and lightning! explosion and
blood! Knock it out of me! Stick to the head!" Obedient Crouch
stuck to the head. The two gave and took blows which would have
stunned--possibly have killed--any civilized member of the
community. Now on one side of his patron's iron skull, and now on
the other, the hammering of the prize-fighter's gloves fell,
thump upon thump, horrible to hear--until even Geoffrey himself
had had enough of it. "Thank you, Crouch," he said, speaking
civilly to the man for the first time. "That will do. I feel nice
and clear again." He shook his head two or three times, he was
rubbed down like a horse by the professional runner; he drank a
mighty draught of malt liquor; he recovered his good-humor as if
by magic. "Want the pen and ink, Sir?" inquired his pedestrian
host. "Not I!" answered Geoffrey. "The muddle's out of me now.
Pen and ink be hanged! I shall look up some of our fellows, and
go to the play." He left the public house in the happiest
condition of mental calm. Inspired by the stimulant application
of Crouch's gloves, his torpid cunning had been shaken up into
excellent working order at last. Write to Anne? Who but a fool
would write to such a woman as that until he was forced to it?
Wait and see what the chances of the next eight-and-forty hours
might bring forth, and then write to her, or desert her, as the
event might decide. It lay in a nut-shell, if you could only see
it. Thanks to Crouch, he did see it--and so away in a pleasant
temper for a dinner with "our fellows" and an evening at the
CHAPTER THE FIFTEENTH.
GEOFFREY IN THE MARRIAGE MARKET.
THE interval of eight-and-forty hours passed--without the
occurrence of any personal communication between the two brothers
in that time.
Julius, remaining at his father's house, sent brief written
bulletins of Lord Holchester's health to his brother at the
hotel. The first bulletin said, "Going on well. Doctors
satisfied." The second was firmer in tone. "Going on excellently.
Doctors very sanguine." The third was the most explicit of all.
"I am to see my father in an hour from this. The doctors answer
for his recovery. Depend on my putting in a good word for you, if
I can; and wait to hear from me further at the hotel."
Geoffrey's face darkened as he read the third bulletin. He called
once more for the hated writing materials. There could be no
doubt now as to the necessity of communicating with Anne. Lord
Holchester's recovery had put him back again in the same critical
position which he had occupied at Windygates. To keep Anne from
committing some final act of despair, which would connect him
with a public scandal, and ruin him so far as his expectations
from his father were concerned, was, once more, the only safe
policy that Geoffrey could pursue. His letter began and ended in
"DEAR ANNE,--Have only just heard that my father is turning the
corner. Stay where you are. Will write again."
Having dispatched this Spartan composition by the post, Geoffrey
lit his pipe, and waited the event of the interview between Lord
Holchester and his eldest son.
Julius found his father alarmingly altered in personal
appearance, but in full possession of his faculties nevertheless.
Unable to return the pressure of his son's hand--unable even to
turn in the bed without help--the hard eye of the old lawyer was
as keen, the hard mind of the old lawyer was as clear, as ever.
His grand ambition was to see Julius in Parliament. Julius was
offering himself for election in Perthshire, by his father's
express desire, at that moment. Lord Holchester entered eagerly
into politics before his eldest son had been two minutes by his
"Much obliged, Julius, for your congratulations. Men of my sort
are not easily killed. (Look at Brougham and Lyndhurst!) You
won't be called to the Upper House yet. You will begin in the
House of Commons--precisely as I wished. What are your prospects
with the constituency? Tell me exactly how you stand, and where I
can be of use to you."
"Surely, Sir, you are hardly recovered enough to enter on matters
of business yet?"
"I am quite recovered enough. I want some present interest to
occupy me. My thoughts are beginning to drift back to past times,
and to things which are better forgotten." A sudden contraction
crossed his livid face. He looked hard at his son, and entered
abruptly on a new question. "Julius!" he resumed, "have you ever
heard of a young woman named Anne Silvester?"
Julius answered in the negative. He and his wife had exchanged
cards with Lady Lundie, and had excused themselves from accepting
her invitation to the lawn-party. With the exception of Blanche,
they were both quite ignorant of the persons who composed the
family circle at Windygates.
"Make a memorandum of the name," Lord Holchester went on. "Anne
Silvester. Her father and mother are dead. I knew her father in
former times. Her mother was ill-used. It was a bad business. I
have been thinking of it again, for the first time for many
years. If the girl is alive and about the world she may remember
our family name. Help her, Julius, if she ever wants help, and
applies to you." The painful contraction passed across his face
once more. Were his thoughts taking him back to the memorable
summer evening at the Hampstead villa? Did he see the deserted
woman swooning at his feet again? "About your election?" he
asked, impatiently. "My mind is not used to be idle. Give it
something to do."
Julius stated his position as plainly and as briefly as he could.
The father found nothing to object to in the report--except the
son's absence from the field of action. He blamed Lady H
olchester for summoning Julius to London. He was annoyed at his
son's being there, at the bedside, when he ought to have been
addressing the electors. "It's inconvenient, Julius," he said,
petulantly. "Don't you see it yourself?"
Having previously arranged with his mother to take the first
opportunity that offered of risking a reference to Geoffrey,
Julius decided to "see it" in a light for which his father was
not prepared. The opportunity was before him. He took it on the
"It is no inconvenience to me, Sir," he replied, "and it is no
inconvenience to my brother either. Geoffrey was anxious about
you too. Geoffrey has come to London with me."
Lord Holchester looked at his eldest son with a grimly-satirical
expression of surprise.
"Have I not already told you," he rejoined, "that my mind is not
affected by my illness? Geoffrey anxious about me! Anxiety is one
of the civilized emotions. Man in his savage state is incapable
of feeling it."
"My brother is not a savage, Sir."
"His stomach is generally full, and his skin is covered with
linen and cloth, instead of red ochre and oil. So far, certainly,
your brother is civilized. In all other respects your brother is
"I know what you mean, Sir. But there is something to be said for
Geoffrey's way of life. He cultivates his courage and his
strength. Courage and strength are fine qualities, surely, in
"Excellent qualities, as far as they go. If you want to know how
far that is, challenge Geoffrey to write a sentence of decent
English, and see if his courage doesn't fail him there. Give him
his books to read for his degree, and, strong as he is, he will
be taken ill at the sight of them. You wish me to see your
brother. Nothing will induce me to see him, until his way of life
(as you call it) is altered altogether. I have but one hope of
its ever being altered now. It is barely possible that the
influence of a sensible woman--possessed of such advantages of
birth and fortune as may compel respect, even from a
savage--might produce its effect on Geoffrey. If he wishes to
find his way back into this house, let him find his way back into
good society first, and bring me a daughter-in-law to plead his
cause for him--whom his mother and I can respect and receive.
When that happens, I shall begin to have some belief in Geoffrey.
Until it does happen, don't introduce your brother into any
future conversations which you may have with Me. To return to
your election. I have some advice to give you before you go back.
You will do well to go back to-night. Lift me up on the pillow. I
shall speak more easily with my head high."
His son lifted him on the pillows, and once more entreated him to
It was useless. No remonstrances shook the iron resolution of the
man who had hewed his way through the rank and file of political
humanity to his own high place apart from the rest. Helpless,
ghastly, snatched out of the very jaws of death, there he lay,
steadily distilling the clear common-sense which had won him all
his worldly rewards into the mind of his son. Not a hint was
missed, not a caution was forgotten, that could guide Julius
safely through the miry political ways which he had trodden so
safely and so dextrously himself. An hour more had passed before
the impenetrable old man closed his weary eyes, and consented to
take his nourishment and compose himself to rest. His last words,
rendered barely articulate by exhaustion, still sang the praises
of party manoeuvres and political strife. "It's a grand career! I
miss the House of Commons, Julius, as I miss nothing else!"
Left free to pursue his own thoughts, and to guide his own
movements, Julius went straight from Lord Holchester's bedside to
Lady Holchester's boudoir.
"Has your father said any thing about Geoffrey?" was his mother's
first question as soon as he entered the room.
"My father gives Geoffrey a last chance, if Geoffrey will only
Lady Holchester's face clouded. "I know," she said, with a look
of disappointment. "His last chance is to read for his degree.
Hopeless, my dear. Quite hopeless! If it had only been something
easier than that; something that rested with me--"
"It does rest with you," interposed Julius. "My dear mother!--can
you believe it?--Geoffrey's last chance is (in one word)
"Oh, Julius! it's too good to be true!"
Julius repeated his father's own words. Lady Holchester looked
twenty years younger as she listened. When he had done she rang
"No matter who calls," she said to the servant, "I am not at
home." She turned to Julius, kissed him, and made a place for him
on the sofa by her side. "Geoffrey shall take _that_ chance," she
said, gayly--"I will answer for it! I have three women in my
mind, any one of whom would suit him. Sit down, my dear, and let
us consider carefully which of the three will be most likely to
attract Geoffrey, and to come up to your father's standard of
what his daughter-in-law ought to be. When we have decided, don't
trust to writing. Go yourself and see Geoffrey at his hotel."
Mother and son entered on their consultation--and innocently
sowed the seeds of a terrible harvest to come.
CHAPTER THE SIXTEENTH.
GEOFFREY AS A PUBLIC CHARACTER.
TIME had advanced to after noon before the selection of
Geoffrey's future wife was accomplished, and before the
instructions of Geoffrey's brother were complete enough to
justify the opening of the matrimonial negotiation at Nagle's
"Don't leave him till you have got his promise," were Lady
Holchester's last words when her son started on his mission.
"If Geoffrey doesn't jump at what I am going to offer him," was
the son's reply, "I shall agree with my father that the case is
hopeless; and I shall end, like my father, in giving Geoffrey
This was strong language for Julius to use. It was not easy to
rouse the disciplined and equable temperament of Lord
Holchester's eldest son. No two men were ever more thoroughly
unlike each other than these two brothers. It is melancholy to
acknowledge it of the blood relation of a "stroke oar," but it
must be owned, in the interests of truth, that Julius cultivated
his intelligence. This degenerate Briton could digest books--and
couldn't digest beer. Could learn languages--and couldn't learn
to row. Practiced the foreign vice of perfecting himself in the
art of playing on a musical instrument and couldn't learn the
English virtue of knowing a good horse when he saw him. Got
through life. (Heaven only knows how!) without either a biceps or
a betting-book. Had openly acknowledged, in English society, that
he didn't think the barking of a pack of hounds the finest music
in the world. Could go to foreign parts, and see a mountain which
nobody had ever got to the top of yet--and didn't instantly feel
his honor as an Englishman involved in getting to the top of it
himself. Such people may, and do, exist among the inferior races
of the Continent. Let us thank Heaven, Sir, that England never
has been, and never will be, the right place for them!
Arrived at Nagle's Hotel, and finding nobody to inquire of in the
hall, Julius applied to the young lady who sat behind the window
of "the bar." The young lady was reading something so deeply
interesting in the evening newspaper that she never even heard
him. Julius went into the coffee-room.
The waiter, in his corner, was absorbed over a second newspaper.
Three gentlemen, at three different tables, were absorbed in a
third, fourth, and fifth newspaper. They all alike went on with
their reading without noticing the entrance of the stranger.
Julius ventured on disturbing the waiter by asking for Mr.
Geoffrey Delamayn. At the sound of that illustrious name the
waiter looked up with a start. "Are you Mr. Delamayn's brother,
The three gentlemen at the tables looked up with a start. The
light of Geoffrey's celebrity fell, reflected, on Geoffrey's
brother, and made a public character of him.
"You'll find Mr. Geoffrey, Sir," said the waiter, in a flurried,
excited manner, "at the Cock and Bottle, Putney."
"I expected to find him here. I had an appointment with him at
The wait er opened his eyes on Julius with an expression of blank
astonishment. "Haven't you heard the news, Sir?"
"God bless my soul!" exclaimed the waiter--and offered the
"God bless my soul!" exclaimed the three gentlemen--and offered
the three newspapers.
"What is it?" asked Julius.
"What is it?" repeated the waiter, in a hollow voice. "The most
dreadful thing that's happened in my time. It's all up, Sir, with
the great Foot-Race at Fulham. Tinkler has gone stale."
The three gentlemen dropped solemnly back into their three
chairs, and repeated the dreadful intelligence, in
chorus--"Tinkler has gone stale."
A man who stands face to face with a great national disaster, and
who doesn't understand it, is a man who will do wisely to hold
his tongue and enlighten his mind without asking other people to
help him. Julius accepted the waiter's newspaper, and sat down to
make (if possible) two discoveries: First, as to whether
"Tinkler" did, or did not, mean a man. Second, as to what
particular form of human affliction you implied when you
described that man as "gone stale."
There was no difficulty in finding the news. It was printed in
the largest type, and was followed by a personal statement of the
facts, taken one way--which was followed, in its turn, by another
personal statement of the facts, taken in another way. More
particulars, and further personal statements, were promised in
later editions. The royal salute of British journalism thundered
the announcement of Tinkler's staleness before a people prostrate
on the national betting book.
Divested of exaggeration, the facts were few enough and simple
enough. A famous Athletic Association of the North had challenged
a famous Athletic Association of the South. The usual "Sports"
were to take place--such as running, jumping, "putting" the
hammer, throwing cricket-balls, and the like--and the whole was
to wind up with a Foot-Race of unexampled length and difficulty
in the annals of human achievement between the two best men on
either side. "Tinkler" was the best man on the side of the South.
"Tinkler" was backed in innumerable betting-books to win. And
Tinkler's lungs had suddenly given way under stress of training!
A prospect of witnessing a prodigious achievement in foot-racing,
and (more important still) a prospect of winning and losing large
sums of money, was suddenly withdrawn from the eyes of the
British people. The "South" could produce no second opponent
worthy of the North out of its own associated resources.
Surveying the athletic world in general, but one man existed who
might possibly replace "Tinkler"--and it was doubtful, in the
last degree, whether he would consent to come forward under the
circumstances. The name of that man--Julius read it with
horror--was Geoffrey Delamayn.
Profound silence reigned in the coffee-room. Julius laid down the
newspaper, and looked about him. The waiter was busy, in his
corner, with a pencil and a betting-book. The three gentlemen
were busy, at the three tables, with pencils and betting-books.
"Try and persuade him!" said the waiter, piteously, as Delamayn's
brother rose to leave the room.
"Try and persuade him!" echoed the three gentlemen, as Delamayn's
brother opened the door and went out.
Julius called a cab. and told the driver (busy with a pencil and
a betting-book) to go to the Cock and Bottle, Putney. The man
brightened into a new being at the prospect. No need to hurry
him; he drove, unasked, at the top of his horse's speed.
As the cab drew near to its destination the signs of a great
national excitement appeared, and multiplied. The lips of a
people pronounced, with a grand unanimity, the name of "Tinkler."
The heart of a people hung suspended (mostly in the public
houses) on the chances for and against the possibility of
replacing "Tinkler" by another man. The scene in front of the inn
was impressive in the highest degree. Even the London blackguard
stood awed and quiet in the presence of the national calamity.
Even the irrepressible man with the apron, who always turns up to
sell nuts and sweetmeats in a crowd, plied his trade in silence,
and found few indeed (to the credit of the nation be it spoken)
who had the heart to crack a nut at such a time as this. The
police were on the spot, in large numbers, and in mute sympathy
with the people, touching to see. Julius, on being stopped at the
door, mentioned his name--and received an ovation. His brother!
oh, heavens, his brother! The people closed round him, the people
shook hands with him, the people invoked blessings on his head.
Julius was half suffocated, when the police rescued him, and
landed him safe in the privileged haven on the inner side of the
public house door. A deafening tumult broke out, as he entered,
from the regions above stairs. A distant voice screamed, "Mind
yourselves!" A hatless shouting man tore down through the people
congregated on the stairs. "Hooray! Hooray! He's promised to do
it! He's entered for the race!" Hundreds on hundreds of voices
took up the cry. A roar of cheering burst from the people
outside. Reporters for the newspapers raced, in frantic
procession, out of the inn, and rushed into cabs to put the news
in print. The hand of the landlord, leading Julius carefully up
stairs by the arm, trembled with excitement. "His brother,
gentlemen! his brother!" At those magic words a lane was made
through the throng. At those magic words the closed door of the
council-chamber flew open; and Julius found himself among the
Athletes of his native country, in full parliament assembled. Is
any description of them needed? The description of Geoffrey
applies to them all. The manhood and muscle of England resemble
the wool and mutton of England, in this respect, that there is
about as much variety in a flock of athletes as in a flock of
sheep. Julius looked about him, and saw the same man in the same
dress, with the same health, strength, tone, tastes, habits,
conversation, and pursuits, repeated infinitely in every part of
the room. The din was deafening; the enthusiasm (to an
uninitiated stranger) something at once hideous and terrifying to
behold. Geoffrey had been lifted bodily on to the table, in his
chair, so as to be visible to the whole room. They sang round
him, they danced round him, they cheered round him, they swore
round him. He was hailed, in mandlin terms of endearment, by
grateful giants with tears in their eyes. "Dear old man!"
"Glorious, noble, splendid, beautiful fellow!" They hugged him.
They patted him on the back. They wrung his hands. They prodded
and punched his muscles. They embraced the noble legs that were
going to run the unexampled race. At the opposite end of the
room, where it was physically impossible to get near the hero,
the enthusiasm vented itself in feats of strength and acts of
destruction. Hercules I. cleared a space with his elbows, and
laid down--and Hercules II. took him up in his teeth. Hercules
III. seized the poker from the fireplace, and broke it on his
arm. Hercules IV. followed with the tongs, and shattered them on
his neck. The smashing of the furniture and the pulling down of
the house seemed likely to succeed--when Geoffrey's eye lighted
by accident on Julius, and Geoffrey's voice, calling fiercely for
his brother, hushed the wild assembly into sudden attention, and
turned the fiery enthusiasm into a new course. Hooray for his
brother! One, two, three--and up with his brother on our
shoulders! Four five, six--and on with his brother, over our
heads, to the other end of the room! See, boys--see! the hero has
got him by the collar! the hero has lifted him on the table! The
hero heated red-hot with his own triumph, welcomes the poor
little snob cheerfully, with a volley of oaths. "Thunder and
lightning! Explosion and blood! What's up now, Julius? What's up
Julius recovered his breath, and arranged his coat. The quiet
little man, who had just muscle enough to lift a dictionary from
the shelf, and just training enough to play the fiddle, so far
from being daunted by the rough reception accorded to him,
appeared to feel no other sentiment in relation to it than a
sentiment of unmitigated conte mpt.
"You're not frightened, are you?" said Geoffrey. "Our fellows are
a roughish lot, but they mean well."
"I am not frightened," answered Julius. "I am only
wondering--when the Schools and Universities of England turn out
such a set of ruffians as these--how long the Schools and
Universities of England will last."
"Mind what you are about, Julius! They'll cart you out of window
if they hear you."
"They will only confirm my opinion of them, Geoffrey, if they
Here the assembly, seeing but not hearing the colloquy between
the two brothers, became uneasy on the subject of the coming
race. A roar of voices summoned Geoffrey to announce it, if there
was any thing wrong. Having pacified the meeting, Geoffrey turned
again to his brother, and asked him, in no amiable mood, what the
devil he wanted there?
"I want to tell you something, before I go back to Scotland,"
answered Julius. "My father is willing to give you a last chance.
If you don't take it, _my_ doors are closed against you as well
Nothing is more remarkable, in its way, than the sound
common-sense and admirable self-restraint exhibited by the youth
of the present time when confronted by an emergency in which
their own interests are concerned. Instead of resenting the tone
which his brother had taken with him, Geoffrey instantly
descended from the pedestal of glory on which he stood, and
placed himself without a struggle in the hands which vicariously
held his destiny--otherwise, the hands which vicariously held the
purse. In five minutes more the meeting had been dismissed, with
all needful assurances relating to Geoffrey's share in the coming
Sports--and the two brothers were closeted together in one of the
private rooms of the inn.
"Out with it!" said Geoffrey. "And don't be long about it."
"I won't be five minutes," replied Julius. "I go back to-night by
the mail-train; and I have a great deal to do in the mean time.
Here it is, in plain words: My father consents to see you again,
if you choose to settle in life--with his approval. And my mother
has discovered where you may find a wife. Birth, beauty, and
money are all offered to you. Take them--and you recover your
position as Lord Holchester's son. Refuse them--and you go to
ruin your own way."
Geoffrey's reception of the news from home was not of the most
reassuring kind. Instead of answering he struck his fist
furiously on the table, and cursed with all his heart some absent
"I have nothing to do with any degrading connection which you may
have formed," Julius went on. "I have only to put the matter
before you exactly as it stands, and to leave you to decide for
yourself. The lady in question was formerly Miss Newenden--a
descendant of one of the oldest families in England. She is now
Mrs. Glenarm--the young widow (and the childless widow) of the
great iron-master of that name. Birth and fortune--she unites
both. Her income is a clear ten thousand a year. My father can
and will, make it fifteen thousand, if you are lucky enough to
persuade her to marry you. My mother answers for her personal
qualities. And my wife has met her at our house in London. She is
now, as I hear, staying with some friends in Scotland; and when I
get back I will take care that an invitation is sent to her to
pay her next visit at my house. It remains, of course, to be seen
whether you are fortunate enough to produce a favorable
impression on her. In the mean time you will be doing every thing
that my father can ask of you, if you make the attempt."
Geoffrey impatiently dismissed that part of the question from all
"If she don't cotton to a man who's going to run in the Great
Race at Fulham," he said, "there are plenty as good as she is who
will! That's not the difficulty. Bother _that!_"
"I tell you again, I have nothing to do with your difficulties,"
Julius resumed. "Take the rest of the day to consider what I have
said to you. If you decide to accept the proposal, I shall expect
you to prove you are in earnest by meeting me at the station
to-night. We will travel back to Scotland together. You will
complete your interrupted visit at Lady Lundie's (it is
important, in my interests, that you should treat a person of her
position in the county with all due respect); and my wife will
make the necessary arrangements with Mrs. Glenarm, in
anticipation of your return to our house. There is nothing more
to be said, and no further necessity of my staying here. If you
join me at the station to-night, your sister-in-law and I will do
all we can to help you. If I travel back to Scotland alone, don't
trouble yourself to follow--I have done with you." He shook hands
with his brother, and went out.
Left alone, Geoffrey lit his pipe and sent for the landlord.
"Get me a boat. I shall scull myself up the river for an hour or
two. And put in some towels. I may take a swim."
The landlord received the order--with a caution addressed to his
"Don't show yourself in front of the house, Sir! If you let the
people see you, they're in such a state of excitement, the police
won't answer for keeping them in order."
"All right. I'll go out by the back way."