Part 5 out of 15
He took a turn up and down the room. What were the difficulties
to be overcome before he could profit by the golden prospect
which his brother had offered to him? The Sports? No! The
committee had promised to defer the day, if he wished it--and a
month's training, in his physical condition, would be amply
enough for him. Had he any personal objection to trying his luck
with Mrs. Glenarm? Not he! Any woman would do--provided his
father was satisfied, and the money was all right. The obstacle
which was really in his way was the obstacle of the woman whom he
had ruined. Anne! The one insuperable difficulty was the
difficulty of dealing with Anne.
"We'll see how it looks," he said to himself, "after a pull up
The landlord and the police inspector smugled him out by the back
way unknown to the expectant populace in front The two men stood
on the river-bank admiring him, as he pulled away from them, with
his long, powerful, easy, beautiful stroke.
"That's what I call the pride and flower of England!" said the
inspector. "Has the betting on him begun?"
"Six to four," said the landlord, "and no takers."
Julius went early to the station that night. His mother was very
anxious. "Don't let Geoffrey find an excuse in your example," she
said, "if he is late."
The first person whom Julius saw on getting out of the carriage
was Geoffrey--with his ticket taken, and his portmanteau in
charge of the guard.
CHAPTER THE SEVENTEENTH
THE Library at Windygates was the largest and the handsomest room
in the house. The two grand divisions under which Literature is
usually arranged in these days occupied the customary places in
it. On the shelves which ran round the walls were the books which
humanity in general respects--and does not read. On the tables
distributed over the floor were the books which humanity in
general reads--and does not respect. In the first class, the
works of the wise ancients; and the Histories, Biographies, and
Essays of writers of more modern times--otherwise the Solid
Literature, which is universally respected, and occasionally
read. In the second class, the Novels of our own day--otherwise
the Light Literature, which is universally read, and occasionally
respected. At Windygates, as elsewhere, we believed History to be
high literature, because it assumed to be true to Authorities (of
which we knew little)--and Fiction to be low literature, because
it attempted to be true to Nature (of which we knew less). At
Windygates as elsewhere, we were always more or less satisfied
with ourselves, if we were publicly discovered consulting our
History--and more or less ashamed of ourselves, if we were
publicly discovered devouring our Fiction. An architectural
peculiarity in the original arrangement of the library favored
the development of this common and curious form of human
stupidity. While a row of luxurious arm-chairs, in the main
thoroughfare of the room, invited the reader of solid lit erature
to reveal himself in the act of cultivating a virtue, a row of
snug little curtained recesses, opening at intervals out of one
of the walls, enabled the reader of light literature to conceal
himself in the act of indulging a vice. For the rest, all the
minor accessories of this spacious and tranquil place were as
plentiful and as well chosen as the heart could desire. And solid
literature and light literature, and great writers and small,
were all bounteously illuminated alike by a fine broad flow of
the light of heaven, pouring into the room through windows that
opened to the floor.
It was the fourth day from the day of Lady Lundie's garden-party,
and it wanted an hour or more of the time at which the
luncheon-bell usually rang.
The guests at Windygates were most of them in the garden,
enjoying the morning sunshine, after a prevalent mist and rain
for some days past. Two gentlemen (exceptions to the general
rule) were alone in the library. They were the two last gentlemen
in the would who could possibly be supposed to have any
legitimate motive for meeting each other in a place of literary
seclusion. One was Arnold Brinkworth, and the other was Geoffrey
They had arrived together at Windygates that morning. Geoffrey
had traveled from London with his brother by the train of the
previous night. Arnold, delayed in getting away at his own time,
from his own property, by ceremonies incidental to his position
which were not to be abridged without giving offense to many
worthy people--had caught the passing train early that morning at
the station nearest to him, and had returned to Lady Lundie's, as
he had left Lady Lundie's, in company with his friend.
After a short preliminary interview with Blanche, Arnold had
rejoined Geoffrey in the safe retirement of the library, to say
what was still left to be said between them on the subject of
Anne. Having completed his report of events at Craig Fernie, he
was now naturally waiting to hear what Geoffrey had to say on his
side. To Arnold's astonishment, Geoffrey coolly turned away to
leave the library without uttering a word.
Arnold stopped him without ceremony.
"Not quite so fast, Geoffrey," he said. "I have an interest in
Miss Silvester's welfare as well as in yours. Now you are back
again in Scotland, what are you going to do?"
If Geoffrey had told the truth, he must have stated his position
much as follows:
He had necessarily decided on deserting Anne when he had decided
on joining his brother on the journey back. But he had advanced
no farther than this. How he was to abandon the woman who had
trusted him, without seeing his own dastardly conduct dragged
into the light of day, was more than he yet knew. A vague idea of
at once pacifying and deluding Anne, by a marriage which should
be no marriage at all, had crossed his mind on the journey. He
had asked himself whether a trap of that sort might not be easily
set in a country notorious for the looseness of its marriage
laws--if a man only knew how? And he had thought it likely that
his well-informed brother, who lived in Scotland, might be
tricked into innocently telling him what he wanted to know. He
had turned the conversation to the subject of Scotch marriages in
general by way of trying the experiment. Julius had not studied
the question; Julius knew nothing about it; and there the
experiment had come to an end. As the necessary result of the
check thus encountered, he was now in Scotland with absolutely
nothing to trust to as a means of effecting his release but the
chapter of accidents, aided by his own resolution to marry Mrs.
Glenarm. Such was his position, and such should have been the
substance of his reply when he was confronted by Arnold's
question, and plainly asked what he meant to do.
"The right thing," he answered, unblushingly. "And no mistake
"I'm glad to hear you see your way so plainly," returned Arnold.
"In your place, I should have been all abroad. I was wondering,
only the other day, whether you would end, as I should have
ended, in consulting Sir Patrick."
Geoffrey eyed him sharply.
"Consult Sir Patrick?" he repeated. "Why would you have done
"_I_ shouldn't have known how to set about marrying her," replied
Arnold. "And--being in Scotland--I should have applied to Sir
Patrick (without mentioning names, of course), because he would
be sure to know all about it."
"Suppose I don't see my way quite so plainly as you think," said
Geoffrey. " Would you advise me--"
"To consult Sir Patrick? Certainly! He has passed his life in the
practice of the Scotch law. Didn't you know that?"
"Then take my advice--and consult him. You needn't mention names.
You can say it's the case of a friend."
The idea was a new one and a good one. Geoffrey looked longingly
toward the door. Eager to make Sir Patrick his innocent
accomplice on the spot, he made a second attempt to leave the
library; and made it for the second time in vain. Arnold had more
unwelcome inquiries to make, and more advice to give unasked.
"How have you arranged about meeting Miss Silvester?" he went on.
"You can't go to the hotel in the character of her husband. I
have prevented that. Where else are you to meet her? She is all
alone; she must be weary of waiting, poor thing. Can you manage
matters so as to see her to-day?"
After staring hard at Arnold while he was speaking, Geoffrey
burst out laughing when he had done. A disinterested anxiety for
the welfare of another person was one of those refinements of
feeling which a muscular education had not fitted him to
"I say, old boy," he burst out, "you seem to take an
extraordinary interest in Miss Silvester! You haven't fallen in
love with her yourself--have you?"
"Come! come!" said Arnold, seriously. "Neither she nor I deserve
to be sneered at, in that way. I have made a sacrifice to your
interests, Geoffrey--and so has she."
Geoffrey's face became serious again. His secret was in Arnold's
hands; and his estimate of Arnold's character was founded,
unconsciously, on his experience of himself. "All right," he
said, by way of timely apology and concession. "I was only
"As much joking as you please, when you have married her,"
replied Arnold. "It seems serious enough, to my mind, till then."
He stopped--considered--and laid his hand very earnestly on
Geoffrey's arm. "Mind!" he resumed. "You are not to breathe a
word to any living soul, of my having been near the inn!"
"I've promised to hold my tongue, once already. What do you want
"I am anxious, Geoffrey. I was at Craig Fernie, remember, when
Blanche came there! She has been telling me all that happened,
poor darling, in the firm persuasion that I was miles off at the
time. I swear I couldn't look her in the face! What would she
think of me, if she knew the truth? Pray be careful! pray be
Geoffrey's patience began to fail him.
"We had all this out," he said, "on the way here from the
station. What's the good of going over the ground again?"
"You're quite right," said Arnold, good-humoredly. "The fact
is--I'm out of sorts, this morning. My mind misgives me--I don't
"Mind?" repeated Geoffrey, in high contempt. "It's flesh--that's
what's the matter with _you._ You're nigh on a stone over your
right weight. Mind he hanged! A man in healthy training don't
know that he has got a mind. Take a turn with the dumb-bells, and
a run up hill with a great-coat on. Sweat it off, Arnold! Sweat
With that excellent advice, he turned to leave the room for the
third time. Fate appeared to have determined to keep him
imprisoned in the library, that morning. On this occasion, it was
a servant who got in the way--a servant, with a letter and a
message. "The man waits for answer."
Geoffrey looked at the letter. It was in his brother's
handwriting. He had left Julius at the junction about three hours
since. What could Julius possibly have to say to him now?
He opened the letter. Julius had to announce that Fortune was
favoring them already. He had heard news of Mrs. Glenarm, as soon
as he reached home. She had called on his wife, during his
absence in London--she had been inv ited to the house--and she
had promised to accept the invitation early in the week. "Early
in the week," Julius wrote, "may mean to-morrow. Make your
apologies to Lady Lundie; and take care not to offend her. Say
that family reasons, which you hope soon to have the pleasure of
confiding to her, oblige you to appeal once more to her
indulgence--and come to-morrow, and help us to receive Mrs.
Even Geoffrey was startled, when he found himself met by a sudden
necessity for acting on his own decision. Anne knew where his
brother lived. Suppose Anne (not knowing where else to find him)
appeared at his brother's house, and claimed him in the presence
of Mrs. Glenarm? He gave orders to have the messenger kept
waiting, and said he would send back a written reply.
"From Craig Fernie?" asked Arnold, pointing to the letter in his
Geoffrey looked up with a frown. He had just opened his lips to
answer that ill-timed reference to Anne, in no very friendly
terms, when a voice, calling to Arnold from the lawn outside,
announced the appearance of a third person in the library, and
warned the two gentlemen that their private interview was at an
CHAPTER THE EIGHTEENTH.
BLANCHE stepped lightly into the room, through one of the open
"What are you doing here?" she said to Arnold.
"Nothing. I was just going to look for you in the garden."
"The garden is insufferable, this morning." Saying those words,
she fanned herself with her handkerchief, and noticed Geoffrey's
presence in the room with a look of very thinly-concealed
annoyance at the discovery. "Wait till I am married!" she
thought. "Mr. Delamayn will be cleverer than I take him to be, if
he gets much of his friend's company _then!_"
"A trifle too hot--eh?" said Geoffrey, seeing her eyes fixed on
him, and supposing that he was expected to say something.
Having performed that duty he walked away without waiting for a
reply; and seated himself with his letter, at one of the
writing-tables in the library.
"Sir Patrick is quite right about the young men of the present
day," said Blanche, turning to Arnold. "Here is this one asks me
a question, and doesn't wait for an answer. There are three more
of them, out in the garden, who have been talking of nothing, for
the last hour, but the pedigrees of horses and the muscles of
men. When we are married, Arnold, don't present any of your male
friends to me, unless they have turned fifty. What shall we do
till luncheon-time? It's cool and quiet in here among the books.
I want a mild excitement--and I have got absolutely nothing to
do. Suppose you read me some poetry?"
"While _he_ is here?" asked Arnold, pointing to the personified
antithesis of poetry--otherwise to Geoffrey, seated with his back
to them at the farther end of the library.
"Pooh!" said Blanche. "There's only an animal in the room. We
needn't mind _him!_"
"I say!" exclaimed Arnold. "You're as bitter, this morning, as
Sir Patrick himself. What will you say to Me when we are married
if you talk in that way of my friend?"
Blanche stole her hand into Arnold's hand and gave it a little
significant squeeze. "I shall always be nice to _you,_" she
whispered--with a look that contained a host of pretty promises
in itself. Arnold returned the look (Geoffrey was unquestionably
in the way!). Their eyes met tenderly (why couldn't the great
awkward brute write his letters somewhere else?). With a faint
little sigh, Blanche dropped resignedly into one of the
comfortable arm-chairs--and asked once more for "some poetry," in
a voice that faltered softly, and with a color that was brighter
"Whose poetry am I to read?" inquired Arnold.
"Any body's," said Blanche. "This is another of my impulses. I am
dying for some poetry. I don't know whose poetry. And I don't
Arnold went straight to the nearest book-shelf, and took down the
first volume that his hand lighted on--a solid quarto, bound in
"Well?" asked Blanche. "What have you found?"
Arnold opened the volume, and conscientiously read the title
exactly as it stood:
"Paradise Lost. A Poem. By John Milton."
"I have never read Milton," said Blanche. "Have you?"
"Another instance of sympathy between us. No educated person
ought to be ignorant of Milton. Let us be educated persons.
"At the beginning?"
"Of course! Stop! You musn't sit all that way off--you must sit
where I can look at you. My attention wanders if I don't look at
people while they read."
Arnold took a stool at Blanche's feet, and opened the "First
Book" of Paradise Lost. His "system" as a reader of blank verse
was simplicity itself. In poetry we are some of us (as many
living poets can testify) all for sound; and some of us (as few
living poets can testify) all for sense. Arnold was for sound. He
ended every line inexorably with a full stop; and he got on to
his full stop as fast as the inevitable impediment of the words
would let him. He began:
"Of Man's first disobedience and the fruit.
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste.
Brought death into the world and all our woe.
With loss of Eden till one greater Man.
Restore us and regain the blissful seat.
Sing heavenly Muse--"
"Beautiful!" said Blanche. "What a shame it seems to have had
Milton all this time in the library and never to have read him
yet! We will have Mornings with Milton, Arnold. He seems long;
but we are both young, and we _may_ live to get to the end of
him. Do you know dear, now I look at you again, you don't seem to
have come back to Windygates in good spirits."
"Don't I? I can't account for it."
"I can. It's sympathy with Me. I am out of spirits too."
"Yes. After what I saw at Craig Fernie, I grow more and more
uneasy about Anne. You will understand that, I am sure, after
what I told you this morning?"
Arnold looked back, in a violent hurry, from Blanche to Milton.
That renewed reference to events at Craig Fernie was a renewed
reproach to him for his conduct at the inn. He attempted to
silence her by pointing to Geoffrey.
"Don't forget," he whispered, "that there is somebody in the room
Blanche shrugged her shoulders contemptuously.
"What does _he_ matter?" she asked. "What does _he_ know or care
There was only one other chance of diverting her from the
delicate subject. Arnold went on reading headlong, two lines in
advance of the place at which he had left off, with more sound
and less sense than ever:
"In the beginning how the heavens and earth.
Rose out of Chaos or if Sion hill--"
At "Sion hill," Blanche interrupted him again.
"Do wait a little, Arnold. I can't have Milton crammed down my
throat in that way. Besides I had something to say. Did I tell
you that I consulted my uncle about Anne? I don't think I did. I
caught him alone in this very room. I told him all I have told
you. I showed him Anne's letter. And I said, 'What do you think?'
He took a little time (and a great deal of snuff) before he would
say what he thought. When he did speak, he told me I might quite
possibly be right in suspecting Anne's husband to be a very
abominable person. His keeping himself out of my way was (just as
I thought) a suspicious circumstance, to begin with. And then
there was the sudden extinguishing of the candles, when I first
went in. I thought (and Mrs. Inchbare thought) it was done by the
wind. Sir Patrick suspects it was done by the horrid man himself,
to prevent me from seeing him when I entered the room. I am
firmly persuaded Sir Patrick is right. What do _you_ think?"
"I think we had better go on," said Arnold, with his head down
over his book. "We seem to be forgetting Milton."
"How you do worry about Milton! That last bit wasn't as
interesting as the other. Is there any love in Paradise Lost?"
"Perhaps we may find some if we go on."
"Very well, then. Go on. And be quick about it."
Arnold was _so_ quick about it that he lost his place. Instead of
going on he went back. He read once more:
"In the beginning how the heavens and earth.
Rose out of Chaos or if Sion hill--"
that before," said Blanche.
"I think not."
"I'm sure you did. When you said 'Sion hill' I recollect I
thought of the Methodists directly. I couldn't have thought of
the Methodists, if you hadn't said 'Sion hill.' It stands to
"I'll try the next page," said Arnold. "I can't have read that
before--for I haven't turned over yet."
Blanche threw herself back in her chair, and flung her
handkerchief resignedly over her face. "The flies," she
explained. "I'm not going to sleep. Try the next page. Oh, dear
me, try the next page!"
"Say first for heaven hides nothing from thy view.
Nor the deep tract of hell say first what cause.
Moved our grand parents in that happy state--"
Blanche suddenly threw the handkerchief off again, and sat bolt
upright in her chair. "Shut it up," she cried. "I can't bear any
more. Leave off, Arnold--leave off!"
"What's, the matter now?"
" 'That happy state,' " said Blanche. "What does 'that happy
state' mean? Marriage, of course! And marriage reminds me of
Anne. I won't have any more. Paradise Lost is painful. Shut it
up. Well, my next question to Sir Patrick was, of course, to know
what he thought Anne's husband had done. The wretch had behaved
infamously to her in some way. In what way? Was it any thing to
do with her marriage? My uncle considered again. He thought it
quite possible. Private marriages were dangerous things (he
said)--especially in Scotland. He asked me if they had been
married in Scotland. I couldn't tell him--I only said, 'Suppose
they were? What then?' 'It's barely possible, in that case,' says
Sir Patrick, 'that Miss Silvester may be feeling uneasy about her
marriage. She may even have reason--or may think she has
reason--to doubt whether it is a marriage at all.' "
Arnold started, and looked round at Geoffrey still sitting at the
writing-table with his back turned on them. Utterly as Blanche
and Sir Patrick were mistaken in their estimate of Anne's
position at Craig Fernie, they had drifted, nevertheless, into
discussing the very question in which Geoffrey and Miss Silvester
were interested--the question of marriage in Scotland. It was
impossible in Blanche's presence to tell Geoffrey that he might
do well to listen to Sir Patrick's opinion, even at second-hand.
Perhaps the words had found their way to him? perhaps he was
listening already, of his own accord?
(He _was_ listening. Blanche's last words had found their way to
him, while he was pondering over his half-finished letter to his
brother. He waited to hear more--without moving, and with the pen
suspended in his hand.)
Blanche proceeded, absently winding her fingers in and out of
Arnold's hair as he sat at her feet:
"It flashed on me instantly that Sir Patrick had discovered the
truth. Of course I told him so. He laughed, and said I mustn't
jump at conclusions We were guessing quite in the dark; and all
the distressing things I had noticed at the inn might admit of
some totally different explanation. He would have gone on
splitting straws in that provoking way the whole morning if I
hadn't stopped him. I was strictly logical. I said _I_ had seen
Anne, and _he_ hadn't--and that made all the difference. I said,
'Every thing that puzzled and frightened me in the poor darling
is accounted for now. The law must, and shall, reach that man,
uncle--and I'll pay for it!' I was so much in earnest that I
believe I cried a little. What do you think the dear old man did?
He took me on his knee and gave me a kiss; and he said, in the
nicest way, that he would adopt my view, for the present, if I
would promise not to cry any more; and--wait! the cream of it is
to come!--that he would put the view in quite a new light to me
as soon as I was composed again. You may imagine how soon I dried
my eyes, and what a picture of composure I presented in the
course of half a minute. 'Let us take it for granted,' says Sir
Patrick, 'that this man unknown has really tried to deceive Miss
Silvester, as you and I suppose. I can tell you one thing: it's
as likely as not that, in trying to overreach _her,_ he may
(without in the least suspecting it) have ended in overreaching
(Geoffrey held his breath. The pen dropped unheeded from his
fingers. It was coming. The light that his brother couldn't throw
on the subject was dawning on it at last!)
"I was so interested, and it made such a tremendous impression on
me, that I haven't forgotten a word. 'I mustn't make that poor
little head of yours ache with Scotch law,' my uncle said; 'I
must put it plainly. There are marriages allowed in Scotland,
Blanche, which are called Irregular Marriages--and very
abominable things they are. But they have this accidental merit
in the present case. It is extremely difficult for a man to
pretend to marry in Scotland, and not really to do it. And it is,
on the other hand, extremely easy for a man to drift into
marrying in Scotland without feeling the slightest suspicion of
having done it himself.' That was exactly what he said, Arnold.
When _we_ are married, it sha'n't be in Scotland!"
(Geoffrey's ruddy color paled. If this was true he might be
caught himself in the trap which he had schemed to set for Anne!
Blanche went on with her narrative. He waited and listened.)
"My uncle asked me if I understood him so far. It was as plain as
the sun at noonday, of course I understood him! 'Very well,
then--now for the application!' says Sir Patrick. 'Once more
supposing our guess to be the right one, Miss Silvester may be
making herself very unhappy without any real cause. If this
invisible man at Craig Fernie has actually meddled, I won't say
with marrying her, but only with pretending to make her his wife,
and if he has attempted it in Scotland, the chances are nine to
one (though _he_ may not believe it, and though _she_ may not
believe it) that he has really married her, after all.' My
uncle's own words again! Quite needless to say that, half an hour
after they were out of his lips, I had sent them to Craig Fernie
in a letter to Anne!"
(Geoffrey's stolidly-staring eyes suddenly brightened. A light of
the devil's own striking illuminated him. An idea of the devil's
own bringing entered his mind. He looked stealthily round at the
man whose life he had saved--at the man who had devotedly served
him in return. A hideous cunning leered at his mouth and peeped
out of his eyes. "Arnold Brinkworth pretended to be married to
her at the inn. By the lord Harry! that's a way out of it that
never struck me before!" With that thought in his heart he turned
back again to his half-finished letter to Julius. For once in his
life he was strongly, fiercely agitated. For once in his life he
was daunted--and that by his Own Thought! He had written to
Julius under a strong sense of the necessity of gaining time to
delude Anne into leaving Scotland before he ventured on paying
his addresses to Mrs. Glenarm. His letter contained a string of
clumsy excuses, intended to delay his return to his brother's
house. "No," he said to himself, as he read it again. "Whatever
else may do--_this_ won't! " He looked round once more at Arnold,
and slowly tore the letter into fragments as he looked.)
In the mean time Blanche had not done yet. "No," she said, when
Arnold proposed an adjournment to the garden; "I have something
more to say, and you are interested in it, this time." Arnold
resigned himself to listen, and worse still to answer, if there
was no help for it, in the character of an innocent stranger who
had never been near the Craig Fernie inn.
"Well," Blanche resumed, "and what do you think has come of my
letter to Anne?"
"I'm sure I don't know."
"Nothing has come of it!"
"Absolutely nothing! I know she received the letter yesterday
morning. I ought to have had the answer to-day at breakfast."
"Perhaps she thought it didn't require an answer."
"She couldn't have thought that, for reasons that I know of.
Besides, in my letter yesterday I implored her to tell me (if it
was one line only) whether, in guessing at what her trouble was,
Sir Patrick and I had not guessed right. And here is the day
getting on, and no answer! What am I to conclude?"
"I really can't say!"
"Is it possible, Arnold, that we have _not_ guessed right, after
all? Is the wickedness of that man who blew the candles out
wickedness beyond our discovering? The doubt is so dreadful that
I have made up my mind not to bear it after to-day. I count on
your sympathy and assistance when to-morrow comes!"
Arnold's heart sank. Some new complication was evidently
gathering round him. He waited in silence to hear the worst.
Blanche bent forward, and whispered to him.
"This is a secret," she said. "If that creature at the
writing-table has ears for any thing but rowing and racing, he
mustn't hear this! Anne may come to me privately to-day while you
are all at luncheon. If she doesn't come and if I don't hear from
her, then the mystery of her silence must be cleared up; and You
must do it!"
"Don't make difficulties! If you can't find your way to Craig
Fernie, I can help you. As for Anne, you know what a charming
person she is, and you know she will receive you perfectly, for
my sake. I must and will have some news of her. I can't break the
laws of the household a second time. Sir Patrick sympathizes, but
he won't stir. Lady Lundie is a bitter enemy. The servants are
threatened with the loss of their places if any one of them goes
near Anne. There is nobody but you. And to Anne you go to-morrow,
if I don't see her or hear from her to-day!"
This to the man who had passed as Anne's husband at the inn, and
who had been forced into the most intimate knowledge of Anne's
miserable secret! Arnold rose to put Milton away, with the
composure of sheer despair. Any other secret he might, in the
last resort, have confided to the discretion of a third person.
But a woman's secret--with a woman's reputation depending on his
keeping it--was not to be confided to any body, under any stress
of circumstances whatever. "If Geoffrey doesn't get me out of
_this,_," he thought, "I shall have no choice but to leave
As he replaced the book on the shelf, Lady Lundie entered the
library from the garden.
"What are you doing here?" she said to her step-daughter.
"Improving my mind," replied Blanche. "Mr. Brinkworth and I have
been reading Milton."
"Can you condescend so far, after reading Milton all the morning,
as to help me with the invitations for the dinner next week?"
"If _you_ can condescend, Lady Lundie, after feeding the poultry
all the morning, I must be humility itself after only reading
With that little interchange of the acid amenities of feminine
intercourse, step-mother and step-daughter withdrew to a
writing-table, to put the virtue of hospitality in practice
Arnold joined his friend at the other end of the library.
Geoffrey was sitting with his elbows on the desk, and his
clenched fists dug into his cheeks. Great drops of perspiration
stood on his forehead, and the fragments of a torn letter lay
scattered all round him. He exhibited symptoms of nervous
sensibility for the first time in his life--he started when
Arnold spoke to him.
"What's the matter, Geoffrey?"
"A letter to answer. And I don't know how."
"From Miss Silvester?" asked Arnold, dropping his voice so as to
prevent the ladies at the other end of the room from hearing him.
"No," answered Geoffrey, in a lower voice still.
"Have you heard what Blanche has been saying to me about Miss
"Some of it."
"Did you hear Blanche say that she meant to send me to Craig
Fernie to-morrow, if she failed to get news from Miss Silvester
"Then you know it now. That is what Blanche has just said to me."
"Well--there's a limit to what a man can expect even from his
best friend. I hope you won't ask me to be Blanche's messenger
to-morrow. I can't, and won't, go back to the inn as things are
"You have had enough of it--eh?"
"I have had enough of distressing Miss Silvester, and more than
enough of deceiving Blanche."
"What do you mean by 'distressing Miss Silvester?' "
"She doesn't take the same easy view that you and I do, Geoffrey,
of my passing her off on the people of the inn as my wife."
Geoffrey absently took up a paper-knife. Still with his head
down, he began shaving off the topmost layer of paper from the
blotting-pad under his hand. Still with his head down, he
abruptly broke the silence in a whisper.
"How did you manage to pass her off as your wife?"
"I told you how, as we were driving from the station here."
"I was thinking of something else. Tell me again."
Arnold told him once more what had happened at the inn. Geoffrey
listened, without making any remark. He balanced the paper-knife
vacantly on one of his fingers. He was strangely sluggish and
"All _that_ is done and ended," said Arnold shaking him by the
shoulder. "It rests with you now to get me out of the difficulty
I'm placed in with Blanche. Things must be settled with Miss
"Things _shall_ be settled."
"Shall be? What are you waiting for?"
"I'm waiting to do what you told me."
"What I told you?"
"Didn't you tell me to consult Sir Patrick before I married her?"
"To be sure! so I did."
"Well--I am waiting for a chance with Sir Patrick."
"And then--" He looked at Arnold for the first time. "Then," he
said, "you may consider it settled."
He suddenly looked down again at the blotting-pad. "Yes--the
Arnold offered his hand in congratulation. Geoffrey never noticed
it. His eyes were off the blotting-pad again. He was looking out
of the window near him.
"Don't I hear voices outside?" he asked.
"I believe our friends are in the garden," said Arnold. "Sir
Patrick may be among them. I'll go and see."
The instant his back was turned Geoffrey snatched up a sheet of
note-paper. "Before I forget it!" he said to himself. He wrote
the word "Memorandum" at the top of the page, and added these
lines beneath it:
"He asked for her by the name of his wife at the door. He said,
at dinner, before the landlady and the waiter, 'I take these
rooms for my wife.' He made _her_ say he was her husband at the
same time. After that he stopped all night. What do the lawyers
call this in Scotland?--(Query: a marriage?)"
After folding up the paper he hesitated for a moment. "No!" he
thought, "It won't do to trust to what Miss Lundie said about it.
I can't be certain till I have consulted Sir Patrick himself."
He put the paper away in his pocket, and wiped the heavy
perspiration from his forehead. He was pale--for _him,_
strikingly pale--when Arnold came back.
"Any thing wrong, Geoffrey?--you're as white as ashes."
"It's the heat. Where's Sir Patrick?"
"You may see for yourself."
Arnold pointed to the window. Sir Patrick was crossing the lawn,
on his way to the library with a newspaper in his hand; and the
guests at Windygates were accompanying him. Sir Patrick was
smiling, and saying nothing. The guests were talking excitedly at
the tops of their voices. There had apparently been a collision
of some kind between the old school and the new. Arnold directed
Geoffrey's attention to the state of affairs on the lawn.
"How are you to consult Sir Patrick with all those people about
"I'll consult Sir Patrick, if I take him by the scruff of the
neck and carry him into the next county!" He rose to his feet as
he spoke those words, and emphasized them under his breath with
Sir Patrick entered the library, with the guests at his heels.
CHAPTER THE NINETEENTH.
CLOSE ON IT.
THE object of the invasion of the library by the party in the
garden appeared to be twofold.
Sir Patrick had entered the room to restore the newspaper to the
place from which he had taken it. The guests, to the number of
five, had followed him, to appeal in a body to Geoffrey Delamayn.
Between these two apparently dissimilar motives there was a
connection, not visible on the surface, which was now to assert
Of the five guests, two were middle-aged gentlemen belonging to
that large, but indistinct, division of the human family whom the
hand of Nature has painted in unobtrusive neutral tint. They had
absorbed the ideas of their time with such receptive capacity as
they possessed; and they occupied much the same place in society
which the chorus in an opera occupies on the stage. They echoed
the prevalent sentiment of the moment; and they gave the
solo-talker time to fetch his breath.
The three remaining guests were on the right side of thirty. All
profoundly versed in horse-racing, in athletic sports, in pipes,
beer, billiards, and betting. All profoundly ignorant of every
thing else under the sun. All gentlemen by birth, and all marked
as such by the stamp of "a University education." They may be
personally described as faint reflections of Geoffrey; and they
may be numerically distinguished (in the absence of all other
distinction) as One, Two, and Three.
Sir Patrick laid the newspaper on the table and placed himself in
one of the comfortable arm-chairs. He was instantly assailed, in
his domestic capacity, by his irrepressible sister-in-law. Lady
Lundie dispatched Blanche to him with the list of her guests at
the dinner. "For your uncle's approval, my dear, as head of the
While Sir Patrick was looking over the list, and while Arnold was
making his way to Blanche, at the back of her uncle's chair, One,
Two, and Three--with the Chorus in attendance on them--descended
in a body on Geoffrey, at the other end of the room, and appealed
in rapid succession to his superior authority, as follows:
"I say, Delamayn. We want You. Here is Sir Patrick running a
regular Muck at us. Calls us aboriginal Britons. Tells us we
ain't educated. Doubts if we could read, write, and cipher, if he
tried us. Swears he's sick of fellows showing their arms and
legs, and seeing which fellow's hardest, and who's got three
belts of muscle across his wind, and who hasn't, and the like of
that. Says a most infernal thing of a chap. Says--because a chap
likes a healthy out-of-door life, and trains for rowing and
running, and the rest of it, and don't see his way to stewing
over his books--_therefore_ he's safe to commit all the crimes in
the calendar, murder included. Saw your name down in the
newspaper for the Foot-Race; and said, when we asked him if he'd
taken the odds, he'd lay any odds we liked against you in the
other Race at the University--meaning, old boy, your Degree.
Nasty, that about the Degree--in the opinion of Number One. Bad
taste in Sir Patrick to rake up what we never mention among
ourselves--in the opinion of Number Two. Un-English to sneer at a
man in that way behind his back--in the opinion of Number Three.
Bring him to book, Delamayn. Your name's in the papers; he can't
ride roughshod over You."
The two choral gentlemen agreed (in the minor key) with the
general opinion. "Sir Patrick's views are certainly extreme,
Smith?" "I think, Jones, it's desirable to hear Mr. Delamayn on
the other side."
Geoffrey looked from one to the other of his admirers with an
expression on his face which was quite new to them, and with
something in his manner which puzzled them all.
"You can't argue with Sir Patrick yourselves," he said, "and you
want me to do it?"
One, Two, Three, and the Chorus all answered, "Yes."
"I won't do it."
One, Two, Three, and the Chorus all asked, "Why?"
"Because," answered Geoffrey, "you're all wrong. And Sir
Not astonishment only, but downright stupefaction, struck the
deputation from the garden speechless.
Without saying a word more to any of the persons standing near
him, Geoffrey walked straight up to Sir Patrick's arm-chair, and
personally addressed him. The satellites followed, and listened
(as well they might) in wonder.
"You will lay any odds, Sir," said Geoffrey "against me taking my
Degree? You're quite right. I sha'n't take my Degree. You doubt
whether I, or any of those fellows behind me, could read, write,
and cipher correctly if you tried us. You're right again--we
couldn't. You say you don't know why men like Me, and men like
Them, may not begin with rowing and running and the like of that,
and end in committing all the crimes in the calendar: murder
included. Well! you may be right again there. Who's to know what
may happen to him? or what he may not end in doing before he
dies? It may be Another, or it may be Me. How do I know? and how
do you?" He suddenly turned on the deputation, standing
thunder-struck behind him. "If you want to know what I think,
there it is for you, in plain words."
There was something, not only in the shamelessness of the
declaration itself, but in the fierce pleasure that the speaker
seemed to feel in making it, which struck the circle of
listeners, Sir Patrick included, with a momentary chill.
In the midst of the silence a sixth guest appeared on the lawn,
and stepped into the library--a silent, resolute, unassuming,
elderly man who had arrived the day before on a visit to
Windygates, and who was well known, in and out of London, as one
of the first consulting surgeons of his time.
"A discussion going on?" he asked. "Am I in the way?"
"There's no discussion--we are all agreed," cried Geoffrey,
answering boisterously for the rest. "The more the merrier, Sir!"
After a glance at Geoffrey, the surgeon suddenly checked himself
on the point of advancing to the inner part of the room, and
remained standing at the window.
"I beg your pardon," said Sir Patrick, addressing himself to
Geoffrey, with a grave dignity which was quite new in Arnold's
experience of him. "We are not all agreed. I decline, Mr.
Delamayn, to allow you to connect me with such an expression of
feeling on your part as we have just heard. The language you have
used leaves me no alternative but to meet your statement of what
you suppose me to have said by my statement of what I really did
say. It is not my fault if the discussion in the garden is
revived before another audience in this room--it is yours,"
He looked as he spoke to Arnold and Blanche, and from them to the
surgeon standing at the window.
The surgeon had found an occupation for himself which completely
isolated him among the rest of the guests. Keeping his own face
in shadow, he was studying Geoffrey's face, in the full flood of
light that fell on it, with a steady attention which must have
been generally remarked, if all eyes had not been turned toward
Sir Patrick at the time.
It was not an easy face to investigate at that moment.
While Sir Patrick had been speaking Geoffrey had seated himself
near the window, doggedly impenetrable to the reproof of which he
was the object. In his impatience to consult the one authority
competent to decide the question of Arnold's position toward
Anne, he had sided with Sir Patrick, as a means of ridding
himself of the unwelcome presence of his friends--and he had
defeated his own purpose, thanks to his own brutish incapability
of bridling himself in the pursuit of it. Whether he was now
discouraged under these circumstances, or whether he was simply
resigned to bide his time till his time came, it was impossible,
judging by outward appearances, to say. With a heavy dropping at
the corners of his mouth, with a stolid indifference staring dull
in his eyes, there he sat, a man forearmed, in his own obstinate
neutrality, against all temptation to engage in the conflict of
opinions that was to come.
Sir Patrick took up the newspaper which he had brought in from
the garden, and looked once more to see if the surgeon was
attending to him.
No! The surgeon's attention was absorbed in his own subject.
There he was in the same position, with his mind still hard at
work on something in Geoffrey which at once interested and
puzzled it! "That man," he was thinking to himself, "has come
here this morning after traveling from London all night. Does any
ordinary fatigue explain what I see in his face? No!"
"Our little discussion in the garden," resumed Sir Patrick,
answering Blanche's inquiring look as she bent over him, "began,
my dear, in a paragraph here announcing Mr. Delamayn's
forthcoming appearance in a foot-race in the neighborhood of
London. I hold very unpopular opinions as to the athletic
displays which are so much in vogue in England just now. And it
is possible that I may have expressed those opinions a li ttle
too strongly, in the heat of discussion, with gentlemen who are
opposed to me--I don't doubt, conscientiously opposed--on this
A low groan of protest rose from One, Two, and Three, in return
for the little compliment which Sir Patrick had paid to them.
"How about rowing and running ending in the Old Bailey and the
gallows? You said that, Sir--you know you did!"
The two choral gentlemen looked at each other, and agreed with
the prevalent sentiment. "It came to that, I think, Smith." "Yes,
Jones, it certainly came to that."
The only two men who still cared nothing about it were Geoffrey
and the surgeon. There sat the first, stolidly
neutral--indifferent alike to the attack and the defense. There
stood the second, pursuing his investigation--with the growing
interest in it of a man who was beginning to see his way to the
"Hear my defense, gentlemen," continued Sir Patrick, as
courteously as ever. "You belong, remember, to a nation which
especially claims to practice the rules of fair play. I must beg
to remind you of what I said in the garden. I started with a
concession. I admitted--as every person of the smallest sense
must admit--that a man will, in the great majority of cases, be
all the fitter for mental exercise if he wisely combines physical
exercise along with it. The whole question between the two is a
question of proportion and degree, and my complaint of the
present time is that the present time doesn't see it. Popular
opinion in England seems to me to be, not only getting to
consider the cultivation of the muscles as of equal importance
with the cultivation of the mind, but to be actually
extending--in practice, if not in theory--to the absurd and
dangerous length of putting bodily training in the first place of
importance, and mental training in the second. To take a case in
point: I can discover no enthusiasm in the nation any thing like
so genuine and any thing like so general as the enthusiasm
excited by your University boat-race. Again: I see this Athletic
Education of yours made a matter of public celebration in schools
and colleges; and I ask any unprejudiced witness to tell me which
excites most popular enthusiasm, and which gets the most
prominent place in the public journals--the exhibition, indoors
(on Prize-day), of what the boys can do with their minds? or the
exhibition, out of doors (on Sports-day), of what the boys can do
with their bodies? You know perfectly well which performance
excites the loudest cheers, which occupies the prominent place in
the newspapers, and which, as a necessary consequence, confers
the highest social honors on the hero of the day."
Another murmur from One, Two, and Three. "We have nothing to say
to that, Sir; have it all your own way, so far."
Another ratification of agreement with the prevalent opinion
between Smith and Jones.
"Very good," pursued Sir Patrick. "We are all of one mind as to
which way the public feeling sets. If it is a feeling to be
respected and encouraged, show me the national advantage which
has resulted from it. Where is the influence of this modern
outburst of manly enthusiasm on the serious concerns of life? and
how has it improved the character of the people at large? Are we
any of us individually readier than we ever were to sacrifice our
own little private interests to the public good? Are we dealing
with the serious social questions of our time in a conspicuously
determined, downright, and definite way? Are we becoming a
visibly and indisputably purer people in our code of commercial
morals? Is there a healthier and higher tone in those public
amusements which faithfully reflect in all countries the public
taste? Produce me affirmative answers to these questions, which
rest on solid proof, and I'll accept the present mania for
athletic sports as something better than an outbreak of our
insular boastfulness and our insular barbarity in a new form."
"Question! question!" in a general cry, from One, Two, and Three.
"Question! question!" in meek reverberation, from Smith and
"That is the question," rejoined Sir Patrick. "You admit the
existence of the public feeling and I ask, what good does it do?"
"What harm does it do?" from One, Two, and Three.
"Hear! hear!" from Smith and Jones.
"That's a fair challenge," replied Sir Patrick. "I am bound to
meet you on that new ground. I won't point, gentlemen, by way of
answer, to the coarseness which I can see growing on our national
manners, or to the deterioration which appears to me to be
spreading more and more widely in our national tastes. You may
tell me with perfect truth that I am too old a man to be a fair
judge of manners and tastes which have got beyond my standards.
We will try the issue, as it now stands between us, on its
abstract merits only. I assert that a state of public feeling
which does practically place physical training, in its
estimation, above moral and mental training, is a positively bad
and dangerous state of feeling in this, that it encourages the
inbred reluctance in humanity to submit to the demands which
moral and mental cultivation must inevitably make on it. Which am
I, as a boy, naturally most ready to do--to try how high I can
jump? or to try how much I can learn? Which training comes
easiest to me as a young man? The training which teaches me to
handle an oar? or the training which teaches me to return good
for evil, and to love my neighbor as myself? Of those two
experiments, of those two trainings, which ought society in
England to meet with the warmest encouragement? And which does
society in England practically encourage, as a matter of fact?"
"What did you say yourself just now?" from One, Two, and Three.
"Remarkably well put!" from Smith and Jones.
"I said," admitted Sir Patrick, "that a man will go all the
better to his books for his healthy physical exercise. And I say
that again--provided the physical exercise be restrained within
fit limits. But when public feeling enters into the question, and
directly exalts the bodily exercises above the books--then I say
public feeling is in a dangerous extreme. The bodily exercises,
in that case, will be uppermost in the youth's thoughts, will
have the strongest hold on his interest, will take the lion's
share of his time, and will, by those means--barring the few
purely exceptional instances--slowly and surely end in leaving
him, to all good moral and mental purpose, certainly an
uncultivated, and, possibly, a dangerous man."
A cry from the camp of the adversaries: "He's got to it at last!
A man who leads an out-of-door life, and uses the strength that
God has given to him, is a dangerous man. Did any body ever hear
the like of that?"
Cry reverberated, with variations, by the two human echoes: "No!
Nobody ever heard the like of that!"
"Clear your minds of cant, gentlemen," answered Sir Patrick. "The
agricultural laborer leads an out-of-door life, and uses the
strength that God has given to him. The sailor in the merchant
service does the name. Both are an uncultivated, a shamefully
uncultivated, class--and see the result! Look at the Map of
Crime, and you will find the most hideous offenses in the
calendar, committed--not in the towns, where the average man
doesn't lead an out-of-door life, doesn't as a rule, use his
strength, but is, as a rule, comparatively cultivated--not in the
towns, but in the agricultural districts. As for the English
sailor--except when the Royal Navy catches and cultivates
him--ask Mr. Brinkworth, who has served in the merchant navy,
what sort of specimen of the moral influence of out-of-door life
and muscular cultivation _he_ is."
"In nine cases out of ten," said Arnold, "he is as idle and
vicious as ruffian as walks the earth."
Another cry from the Opposition: "Are _we_ agricultural laborers?
Are _we_ sailors in the merchant service?"
A smart reverberation from the human echoes: "Smith! am I a
laborer?" "Jones! am I a sailor?"
"Pray let us not be personal, gentlemen," said Sir Patrick. "I am
speaking generally, and I can only meet extreme objections by
pushing my argument to extreme limits. The laborer and the sailor
have served my purpose. If the laborer and
the sailor offend you, by all means let them walk off the stage!
I hold to the position which I advanced just now. A man may be
well born, well off, well dressed, well fed--but if he is an
uncultivated man, he is (in spite of all those advantages) a man
with special capacities for evil in him, on that very account.
Don't mistake me! I am far from saving that the present rage for
exclusively muscular accomplishments must lead inevitably
downward to the lowest deep of depravity. Fortunately for
society, all special depravity is more or less certainly the
result, in the first instance, of special temptation. The
ordinary mass of us, thank God, pass through life without being
exposed to other than ordinary temptations. Thousands of the
young gentlemen, devoted to the favorite pursuits of the present
time, will get through existence with no worse consequences to
themselves than a coarse tone of mind and manners, and a
lamentable incapability of feeling any of those higher and
gentler influences which sweeten and purify the lives of more
cultivated men. But take the other case (which may occur to any
body), the case of a special temptation trying a modern young man
of your prosperous class and of mine. And let me beg Mr. Delamayn
to honor with his attention what I have now to say, because it
refers to the opinion which I did really express--as
distinguished from the opinion which he affects to agree with,
and which I never advanced."
Geoffrey's indifference showed no signs of giving way. "Go on!"
he said--and still sat looking straight before him, with heavy
eyes, which noticed nothing, and expressed nothing.
"Take the example which we have now in view," pursued Sir
Patrick--"the example of an average young gentleman of our time,
blest with every advantage that physical cultivation can bestow
on him. Let this man be tried by a temptation which insidiously
calls into action, in his own interests, the savage instincts
latent in humanity--the instincts of self-seeking and cruelty
which are at the bottom of all crime. Let this man be placed
toward some other person, guiltless of injuring him, in a
position which demands one of two sacrifices: the sacrifice of
the other person, or the sacrifice of his own interests and his
own desires. His neighbor's happiness, or his neighbor's life,
stands, let us say, between him and the attainment of something
that he wants. He can wreck the happiness, or strike down the
life, without, to his knowledge, any fear of suffering for it
himself. What is to prevent him, being the man he is, from going
straight to his end, on those conditions? Will the skill in
rowing, the swiftness in running, the admirable capacity and
endurance in other physical exercises, which he has attained, by
a strenuous cultivation in this kind that has excluded any
similarly strenuous cultivation in other kinds--will these
physical attainments help him to win a purely moral victory over
his own selfishness and his own cruelty? They won't even help him
to see that it _is_ selfishness, and that it _is_ cruelty. The
essential principle of his rowing and racing (a harmless
principle enough, if you can be sure of applying it to rowing and
racing only) has taught him to take every advantage of another
man that his superior strength and superior cunning can suggest.
There has been nothing in his training to soften the barbarous
hardness in his heart, and to enlighten the barbarous darkness in
his mind. Temptation finds this man defenseless, when temptation
passes his way. I don't care who he is, or how high he stands
accidentally in the social scale--he is, to all moral intents and
purposes, an Animal, and nothing more. If my happiness stands in
his way--and if he can do it with impunity to himself--he will
trample down my happiness. If my life happens to be the next
obstacle he encounters--and if he can do it with impunity to
himself--he will trample down my life. Not, Mr. Delamayn, in the
character of a victim to irresistible fatality, or to blind
chance; but in the character of a man who has sown the seed, and
reaps the harvest. That, Sir, is the case which I put as an
extreme case only, when this discussion began. As an extreme case
only--but as a perfectly possible case, at the same time--I
restate it now."
Before the advocates of the other side of the question could open
their lips to reply, Geoffrey suddenly flung off his
indifference, and started to his feet.
"Stop!" he cried, threatening the others, in his fierce
impatience to answer for himself, with his clenched fist.
There was a general silence.
Geoffrey turned and looked at Sir Patrick, as if Sir Patrick had
personally insulted him.
"Who is this anonymous man, who finds his way to his own ends,
and pities nobody and sticks at nothing?" he asked. "Give him a
"I am quoting an example," said Sir Patrick. "I am not attacking
"What right have you," cried Geoffrey--utterly forgetful, in the
strange exasperation that had seized on him, of the interest that
he had in controlling himself before Sir Patrick--"what right
have you to pick out an example of a rowing man who is an
infernal scoundrel--when it's quite as likely that a rowing man
may be a good fellow: ay! and a better fellow, if you come to
that, than ever stood in your shoes!"
"If the one case is quite as likely to occur as the other (which
I readily admit)," answered Sir Patrick, "I have surely a right
to choose which case I please for illustration. (Wait, Mr.
Delamayn! These are the last words I have to say and I mean to
say them.) I have taken the example--not of a specially depraved
man, as you erroneously suppose--but of an average man, with his
average share of the mean, cruel, and dangerous qualities, which
are part and parcel of unreformed human nature--as your religion
tells you, and as you may see for yourself, if you choose to look
at your untaught fellow-creatures any where. I suppose that man
to be tried by a temptation to wickedness, out of the common; and
I show, to the best of my ability, how completely the moral and
mental neglect of himself, which the present material tone of
public feeling in England has tacitly encouraged, leaves him at
the mercy of all the worst instincts in his nature; and how
surely, under those conditions, he _must_ go down (gentleman as
he is) step by step--as the lowest vagabond in the streets goes
down under _his_ special temptation--from the beginning in
ignorance to the end in crime. If you deny my right to take such
an example as that, in illustration of the views I advocate, you
must either deny that a special temptation to wickedness can
assail a man in the position of a gentleman, or you must assert
that gentlemen who are naturally superior to all temptation are
the only gentlemen who devote themselves to athletic pursuits.
There is my defense. In stating my case, I have spoken out of my
own sincere respect for the interests of virtue and of learning;
out of my own sincere admiration for those young men among us who
are resisting the contagion of barbarism about them. In _their_
future is the future hope of England. I have done."
Angrily ready with a violent personal reply, Geoffrey found
himself checked, in his turn by another person with something to
say, and with a resolution to say it at that particular moment.
For some little time past the surgeon had discontinued his steady
investigation of Geoffrey's face, and had given all his attention
to the discussion, with the air of a man whose self-imposed task
had come to an end. As the last sentence fell from the last
speaker's lips, he interposed so quickly and so skillfully
between Geoffrey and Sir Patrick, that Geoffrey himself was taken
"There is something still wanting to make Sir Patrick's statement
of the case complete," he said. "I think I can supply it, from
the result of my own professional experience. Before I say what I
have to say, Mr. Delamayn will perhaps excuse me, if I venture on
giving him a caution to control himself."
"Are _you_ going to make a dead set at me, too?" inquired
"I am recommending you to keep your temper--nothing more. There
are plenty of men who can fly into a passion without doing
themselves any particular harm. You are not one of them."
"What do you mean?"
"I don't think the state of your health, Mr. Delamayn, is quite
so satisfactory as you may be disposed to consider it yourself."
Geoffrey turned to his admirers and adherents with a roar of
derisive laughter. The admirers and adherents all echoed him
together. Arnold and Blanche smiled at each other. Even Sir
Patrick looked as if he could hardly credit the evidence of his
own ears. There stood the modern Hercules, self-vindicated as a
Hercules, before all eyes that looked at him. And there,
opposite, stood a man whom he could have killed with one blow of
his fist, telling him, in serious earnest, that he was not in
"You are a rare fellow!" said Geoffrey, half in jest and half in
anger. "What's the matter with me?"
"I have undertaken to give you, what I believe to be, a necessary
caution," answered the surgeon. "I have _not_ undertaken to tell
you what I think is the matter with you. That may be a question
for consideration some little time hence. In the meanwhile, I
should like to put my impression about you to the test. Have you
any objection to answer a question on a matter of no particular
importance relating to yourself?"
"Let's hear the question first."
"I have noticed something in your behavior while Sir Patrick was
speaking. You are as much interested in opposing his views as any
of those gentlemen about you. I don't understand your sitting in
silence, and leaving it entirely to the others to put the case on
your side--until Sir Patrick said something which happened to
irritate you. Had you, all the time before that, no answer ready
in your own mind?"
"I had as good answers in my mind as any that have been made here
"And yet you didn't give them?"
"No; I didn't give them."
"Perhaps you felt--though you knew your objections to be good
ones--that it was hardly worth while to take the trouble of
putting them into words? In short, you let your friends answer
for you, rather than make the effort of answering for yourself?"
Geoffrey looked at his medical adviser with a sudden curiosity
and a sudden distrust.
"I say," he asked, "how do you come to know what's going on in my
mind--without my telling you of it?"
"It is my business to find out what is going on in people's
bodies--and to do that it is sometimes necessary for me to find
out (if I can) what is going on in their minds. If I have rightly
interpreted what was going on in _your_ mind, there is no need
for me to press my question. You have answered it already."
He turned to Sir Patrick next
"There is a side to this subject," he said, "which you have not
touched on yet. There is a Physical objection to the present rage
for muscular exercises of all sorts, which is quite as strong, in
its way, as the Moral objection. You have stated the consequences
as they _ may_ affect the mind. I can state the consequences as
they _do_ affect the body."
"From your own experience?"
"From my own experience. I can tell you, as a medical man, that a
proportion, and not by any means a small one, of the young men
who are now putting themselves to violent athletic tests of their
strength and endurance, are taking that course to the serious and
permanent injury of their own health. The public who attend
rowing-matches, foot-races, and other exhibitions of that sort,
see nothing but the successful results of muscular training.
Fathers and mothers at home see the failures. There are
households in England--miserable households, to be counted, Sir
Patrick, by more than ones and twos--in which there are young men
who have to thank the strain laid on their constitutions by the
popular physical displays of the present time, for being broken
men, and invalided men, for the rest of their lives."
"Do you hear that?" said Sir Patrick, looking at Geoffrey.
Geoffrey carelessly nodded his head. His irritation had had time
to subside; the stolid indifference had got possession of him
again. He had resumed his chair--he sat, with outstretched legs,
staring stupidly at the pattern on the carpet. "What does it
matter to Me?" was the sentiment expressed all over him, from
head to foot.
The surgeon went on.
"I can see no remedy for this sad state of things," he said, "as
long as the public feeling remains what the public feeling is
now. A fine healthy-looking young man, with a superb muscular
development, longs (naturally enough) to distinguish himself like
others. The training-authorities at his college, or elsewhere,
take him in hand (naturally enough again) on the strength of
outward appearances. And whether they have been right or wrong in
choosing him is more than they can say, until the experiment has
been tried, and the mischief has been, in many cases,
irretrievably done. How many of them are aware of the important
physiological truth, that the muscular power of a man is no fair
guarantee of his vital power? How many of them know that we all
have (as a great French writer puts it) two lives in us--the
surface life of the muscles, and the inner life of the heart,
lungs, and brain? Even if they did know this--even with medical
men to help them--it would be in the last degree doubtful, in
most cases, whether any previous examination would result in any
reliable discovery of the vital fitness of the man to undergo the
stress of muscular exertion laid on him. Apply to any of my
brethren; and they will tell you, as the result of their own
professional observation, that I am, in no sense, overstating
this serious evil, or exaggerating the deplorable and dangerous
consequences to which it leads. I have a patient at this moment,
who is a young man of twenty, and who possesses one of the finest
muscular developments I ever saw in my life. If that young man
had consulted me, before he followed the example of the other
young men about him, I can not honestly say that I could have
foreseen the results. As things are, after going through a
certain amount of muscular training, after performing a certain
number of muscular feats, he suddenly fainted one day, to the
astonishment of his family and friends. I was called in and I
have watched the case since. He will probably live, but he will
never recover. I am obliged to take precautions with this youth
of twenty which I should take with an old man of eighty. He is
big enough and muscular enough to sit to a painter as a model for
Samson--and only last week I saw him swoon away like a young
girl, in his mother's arms."
"Name!" cried Geoffrey's admirers, still fighting the battle on
their side, in the absence of any encouragement from Geoffrey
"I am not in the habit of mentioning my patients' names," replied
the surgeon. "But if you insist on my producing an example of a
man broken by athletic exercises, I can do it."
"Do it! Who is he?"
"You all know him perfectly well."
"Is he in the doctor's hands?"
"Where is he?"
In a pause of breathless silence--with the eyes of every person
in the room eagerly fastened on him--the surgeon lifted his hand
and pointed to Geoffrey Delamayn.
CHAPTER THE TWENTIETH.
As soon as the general stupefaction was allayed, the general
incredulity asserted itself as a matter of course.
The man who first declared that "seeing" was "believing" laid his
finger (whether he knew it himself or not) on one of the
fundamental follies of humanity. The easiest of all evidence to
receive is the evidence that requires no other judgment to decide
on it than the judgment of the eye--and it will be, on that
account, the evidence which humanity is most ready to credit, as
long as humanity lasts. The eyes of every body looked at
Geoffrey; and the judgment of every body decided, on the evidence
there visible, that the surgeon must be wrong. Lady Lundie
herself (disturbed over her dinner invitations) led the general
protest. "Mr. Delamayn in broken health!" she exclaimed,
appealing to the better sense of her eminent medical guest.
"Really, now, you can't expect us to believe that!"
Stung into action for the second time by the startling assertion
of which he had been
made the subject, Geoffrey rose, and looked the surgeon,
steadily and insolently, straight in the face.
"Do you mean what you say?" he asked.
"You point me out before all these people--"
"One moment, Mr. Delamayn. I admit that I may have been wrong in
directing the general attention to you. You have a right to
complain of my having answered too publicly the public challenge
offered to me by your friends. I apologize for having done that.
But I don't retract a single word of what I have said on the
subject of your health."
"You stick to it that I'm a broken-down man?"
"I wish you were twenty years younger, Sir!"
"I'd ask you to step out on the lawn there and I'd show you
whether I'm a broken-down man or not."
Lady Lundie looked at her brother-in-law. Sir Patrick instantly
"Mr. Delamayn," he said, "you were invited here in the character
of a gentleman, and you are a guest in a lady's house."
"No! no!" said the surgeon, good humoredly. "Mr. Delamayn is
using a strong argument, Sir Patrick--and that is all. If I
_were_ twenty years younger," he went on, addressing himself to
Geoffrey, "and if I _did_ step out on the lawn with you, the
result wouldn't affect the question between us in the least. I
don't say that the violent bodily exercises in which you are
famous have damaged your muscular power. I assert that they have
damaged your vital power. In what particular way they have
affected it I don't consider myself bound to tell you. I simply
give you a warning, as a matter of common humanity. You will do
well to be content with the success you have already achieved in
the field of athletic pursuits, and to alter your mode of life
for the future. Accept my excuses, once more, for having said
this publicly instead of privately--and don't forget my warning."
He turned to move away to another part of the room. Geoffrey
fairly forced him to return to the subject.
"Wait a bit," he said. "You have had your innings. My turn now. I
can't give it words as you do; but I can come to the point. And,
by the Lord, I'll fix you to it! In ten days or a fortnight from
this I'm going into training for the Foot-Race at Fulham. Do you
say I shall break down?"
"You will probably get through your training."
"Shall I get through the race?"
"You may _possibly_ get through the race. But if you do--"
"If I do?"
"You will never run another."
"And never row in another match?"
"I have been asked to row in the Race, next spring; and I have
said I will. Do you tell me, in so many words, that I sha'n't be
able to do it?"
"Yes--in so many words."
"Back your opinion!" cried Geoffrey, tearing his betting-book out
of his pocket. "I lay you an even hundred I'm in fit condition to
row in the University Match next spring."
"I don't bet, Mr. Delamayn."
With that final reply the surgeon walked away to the other end of
the library. Lady Lundie (taking Blanche in custody) withdrew, at
the same time, to return to the serious business of her
invitations for the dinner. Geoffrey turned defiantly, book in
hand, to his college friends about him. The British blood was up;
and the British resolution to bet, which successfully defies
common decency and common-law from one end of the country to the
other, was not to be trifled with.
"Come on!" cried Geoffrey. "Back the doctor, one of you!"
Sir Patrick rose in undisguised disgust, and followed the
surgeon. One, Two, and Three, invited to business by their
illustrious friend. shook their thick heads at him knowingly, and
answered with one accord, in one eloquent word--"Gammon!"
"One of _you_ back him!" persisted Geoffrey, appealing to the two
choral gentlemen in the back-ground, with his temper fast rising
to fever heat. The two choral gentlemen compared notes, as usual.
"We weren't born yesterday, Smith?" "Not if we know it, Jones."
"Smith!" said Geoffrey, with a sudden assumption of politeness
ominous of something unpleasant to come.
Smith said "Yes?"--with a smile.
Jones said "Yes?"--with a reflection of Smith.
"You're a couple of infernal cads--and you haven't got a hundred
pound between you!"
"Come! come!" said Arnold, interfering for the first time. "This
is shameful, Geoffrey!"
"Why the"--(never mind what!)--"won't they any of them take the
"If you must be a fool," returned Arnold, a little irritably on
his side, "and if nothing else will keep you quiet, _I'll_ take
"An even hundred on the doctor!" cried Geoffrey. "Done with you!"
His highest aspirations were satisfied; his temper was in perfect
order again. He entered the bet in his book; and made his excuses
to Smith and Jones in the heartiest way. "No offense, old chaps!
Shake hands!" The two choral gentlemen were enchanted with him.
"The English aristocracy--eh, Smith?" "Blood and breeding--ah,
As soon as he had spoken, Arnold's conscience reproached him: not
for betting (who is ashamed of _that_ form of gambling in
England?) but for "backing the doctor." With the best intention
toward his friend, he was speculating on the failure of his
friend's health. He anxiously assured Geoffrey that no man in the
room could be more heartily persuaded that the surgeon was wrong
than himself. "I don't cry off from the bet," he said. "But, my
dear fellow, pray understand that I only take it to please
"Bother all that!" answered Geoffrey, with the steady eye to
business, which was one of the choicest virtues in his character.
"A bet's a bet--and hang your sentiment!" He drew Arnold by the
arm out of ear-shot of the others. "I say!" he asked, anxiously.
"Do you think I've set the old fogy's back up?"
"Do you mean Sir Patrick?"
Geoffrey nodded, and went on.
"I haven't put that little matter to him yet--about marrying in
Scotland, you know. Suppose he cuts up rough with me if I try him
now?" His eye wandered cunningly, as he put the question, to the
farther end of the room. The surgeon was looking over a
port-folio of prints. The ladies were still at work on their
notes of invitation. Sir Patrick was alone at the book-shelves
immersed in a volume which he had just taken down.
"Make an apology," suggested Arnold. "Sir Patrick may be a little
irritable and bitter; but he's a just man and a kind man. Say you
were not guilty of any intentional disrespect toward him--and you
will say enough."
Sir Patrick, deep in an old Venetian edition of The Decameron,
found himself suddenly recalled from medieval Italy to modern
England, by no less a person than Geoffrey Delamayn.
"What do you want?" he asked, coldly.
"I want to make an apology," said Geoffrey. "Let by-gones be
by-gones--and that sort of thing. I wasn't guilty of any
intentional disrespect toward you. Forgive and forget. Not half a
bad motto, Sir--eh?"
It was clumsily expressed--but still it was an apology. Not even
Geoffrey could appeal to Sir Patrick's courtesy and Sir Patrick's
consideration in vain.
"Not a word more, Mr. Delamayn!" said the polite old man. "Accept
my excuses for any thing which I may have said too sharply, on my
side; and let us by all means forget the rest."
Having met the advance made to him, in those terms, he paused,
expecting Geoffrey to leave him free to return to the Decameron.
To his unutterable astonishment, Geoffrey suddenly stooped over
him, and whispered in his ear, "I want a word in private with
Sir Patrick started back, as if Geoffrey had tried to bite him.
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Delamayn--what did you say?"
"Could you give me a word in private?"
Sir Patrick put back the Decameron; and bowed in freezing
silence. The confidence of the Honorable Geoffrey Delamayn was
the last confidence in the world into which he desired to be
drawn. "This is the secret of the apology!" he thought. "What can
he possibly want with Me?"
"It's about a friend of mine," pursued Geoffrey; leading the way
toward one of the windows. "He's in a scrape, my friend is. And I
want to ask your advice. It's strictly private, you know." There
he came to a full stop--and looked to see what impression he had
produced, so far.
Sir Patrick declined, either by word or g esture, to exhibit the
slightest anxiety to hear a word more.
"Would you mind taking a turn in the garden?" asked Geoffrey.
Sir Patrick pointed to his lame foot. "I have had my allowance of
walking this morning," he said. "Let my infirmity excuse me."
Geoffrey looked about him for a substitute for the garden, and
led the way back again toward one of the convenient curtained
recesses opening out of the inner wall of the library. "We shall
be private enough here," he said.
Sir Patrick made a final effort to escape the proposed
conference--an undisguised effort, this time
"Pray forgive me, Mr. Delamayn. Are you quite sure that you apply
to the right person, in applying to _me?_"
"You're a Scotch lawyer, ain't you?"
"And you understand about Scotch marriages--eh?"
Sir Patrick's manner suddenly altered.
"Is _that_ the subject you wish to consult me on?" he asked.
"It's not me. It's my friend."
"Your friend, then?"
"Yes. It's a scrape with a woman. Here in Scotland. My friend
don't know whether he's married to her or not."
"I am at your service, Mr. Delamayn."
To Geoffrey's relief--by no means unmixed with surprise--Sir
Patrick not only showed no further reluctance to be consulted by
him, but actually advanced to meet his wishes, by leading the way
to the recess that was nearest to them. The quick brain of the
old lawyer had put Geoffrey's application to him for assistance,
and Blanche's application to him for assistance, together; and
had built its own theory on the basis thus obtained. "Do I see a
connection between the present position of Blanche's governess,
and the present position of Mr. Delamayn's 'friend?' " thought
Sir Patrick. "Stranger extremes than _that_ have met me in my
experience. Something may come out of this."
The two strangely-assorted companions seated themselves, one on
each side of a little table in the recess. Arnold and the other
guests had idled out again on to the lawn. The surgeon with his
prints, and the ladies with their invitations, were safely
absorbed in a distant part of the library. The conference between
the two men, so trifling in appearance, so terrible in its
destined influence, not over Anne's future only, but over the
future of Arnold and Blanche, was, to all practical purposes, a
conference with closed doors.
"Now," said Sir Patrick, "what is the question?"
"The question," said Geoffrey, "is whether my friend is married
to her or not?"
"Did he mean to marry her?"
"He being a single man, and she being a single woman, at the
time? And both in Scotland?"
"Very well. Now tell me the circumstances."
Geoffrey hesitated. The art of stating circumstances implies the
cultivation of a very rare gift--the gift of arranging ideas. No
one was better acquainted with this truth than Sir Patrick. He
was purposely puzzling Geoffrey at starting, under the firm
conviction that his client had something to conceal from him. The
one process that could be depended on for extracting the truth,
under those circumstances, was the process of interrogation. If
Geoffrey was submitted to it, at the outset, his cunning might
take the alarm. Sir Patrick's object was to make the man himself
invite interrogation. Geoffrey invited it forthwith, by
attempting to state the circumstances, and by involving them in
the usual confusion. Sir Patrick waited until he had thoroughly
lost the thread of his narrative--and then played for the winning
"Would it be easier to you if I asked a few questions?" he
"I am quite at your service. Suppose we clear the ground to begin
with? Are you at liberty to mention names?"
"Do you want me to be particular?"
"Be as particular as you can."
"Will it do, if I say the present year?"
"Yes. Were your friend and the lady--at some time in the present
year--traveling together in Scotland?"
"Living together in Scotland?"
"What _were_ they doing together in Scotland?"
"Well--they were meeting each other at an inn."
"Oh? They were meeting each other at an inn. Which was first at
"The woman was first. Stop a bit! We are getting to it now." He
produced from his pocket the written memorandum of Arnold's
proceedings at Craig Fernie, which he had taken down from
Arnold's own lips. "I've got a bit of note here," he went on.
"Perhaps you'd like to have a look at it?"
Sir Patrick took the note--read it rapidly through to
himself--then re-read it, sentence by sentence, to Geoffrey;
using it as a text to speak from, in making further inquiries.
" 'He asked for her by the name of his wife, at the door,' " read
Sir Patrick. "Meaning, I presume, the door of the inn? Had the
lady previously given herself out as a married woman to the
people of the inn?"
"How long had she been at the inn before the gentleman joined
"Only an hour or so."
"Did she give a name?"
"I can't be quite sure--I should say not."
"Did the gentleman give a name?"
"No. I'm certain _he_ didn't."
Sir Patrick returned to the memorandum.
" 'He said at dinner, before the landlady and the waiter, I take
these rooms for my wife. He made _her_ say he was her husband, at
the same time.' Was that done jocosely, Mr. Delamayn--either by
the lady or the gentleman?"
"No. It was done in downright earnest."
"You mean it was done to look like earnest, and so to deceive the
landlady and the waiter?"
Sir Patrick returned to the memorandum.
" 'After that, he stopped all night.' Stopped in the rooms he had
taken for himself and his wife?"
"And what happened the next day?"
"He went away. Wait a bit! Said he had business for an excuse."
"That is to say, he kept up the deception with the people of the
inn? and left the lady behind him, in the character of his wife?"
"Did he go back to the inn?"
"How long did the lady stay there, after he had gone?"
"She staid--well, she staid a few days."
"And your friend has not seen her since?"
"Are your friend and the lady English or Scotch?"
"At the time when they met at the inn, had they either of them
arrived in Scotland, from the place in which they were previously
living, within a period of less than twenty-one days?"
Geoffrey hesitated. There could be no difficulty in answering for
Anne. Lady Lundie and her domestic circle had occupied Windygates
for a much longer period than three weeks before the date of the
lawn-party. The question, as it affected Arnold, was the only
question that required reflection. After searching his memory for
details of the conversation which had taken place between them,
when he and Arnold had met at the lawn-party, Geoffrey recalled a
certain reference on the part of his friend to a performance at
the Edinburgh theatre, which at once decided the question of
time. Arnold had been necessarily detained in Edinburgh, before
his arrival at Windygates, by legal business connected with his
inheritance; and he, like Anne, had certainly been in Scotland,
before they met at Craig Fernie, for a longer period than a
period of three weeks He accordingly informed Sir Patrick that
the lady and gentleman had been in Scotland for more than
twenty-one days--and then added a question on his own behalf:
"Don't let me hurry you, Sir--but, shall you soon have done?"
"I shall have done, after two more questions," answered Sir
Patrick. "Am I to understand that the lady claims, on the
strength of the circumstances which you have mentioned to me, to
be your friend's wife?"
Geoffrey made an affirmative reply. The readiest means of
obtaining Sir Patrick's opinion was, in this case, to answer,
Yes. In other words, to represent Anne (in the character of "the
lady") as claiming to be married to Arnold (in the character of
Having made this concession to circumstances, he was, at the same
time, quite cunning enough to see that it was of vital importance
to the purpose which he had in view, to confine himself strictly
to this one perversion of the truth. There could be plainly no
depending on the lawyer's opinion, unless that opinion was given
on the facts exactly a s they had occurred at the inn. To the
facts he had, thus far, carefully adhered; and to the facts (with
the one inevitable departure from them which had been just forced
on him) he determined to adhere to the end.
"Did no letters pass between the lady and gentleman?" pursued Sir
"None that I know of," answered Geoffrey, steadily returning to