Part 11 out of 12
But there had been no question of any alterations in the mode of
conducting the business of the firm. Mr. Grey had been, of course, the
partner by whose judgment any question of importance must ultimately be
decided; and, though Mr. Barry had been sent to Nice, the Scarborough
property was especially in Mr. Grey's branch. He had been loud in
declaring the iniquity of his client, but had altogether made up his
mind that the iniquity had been practised; and all the clerks in the
office had gone with him, trusting to his great character for sober
sagacity. And Mr. Grey was not a man who would easily be put out of his
The respect generally felt for him was too high; and he carried himself
before his partner and clerks too powerfully to lose at once his
prestige. But Mr. Barry, when he heard the new story, looked at his own
favorite clerk and almost winked an eye; and when he came to discuss the
matter with Mr. Grey, he declined even to pretend to be led at once by
Mr. Grey's opinion. "A gentleman who has been so very clever on one
occasion may be very clever on another." That had been his argument. Mr.
Grey's reply had simply been to the effect that you cannot twice catch
an old bird with chaff. Mr. Barry seemed, however, to think, in
discussing the matter with the favorite clerk, that the older the bird
became, the more often he could be caught with chaff.
Mr. Grey in these days was very unhappy,--not made so simply by the
iniquity of his client, but by the insight which he got into his
partner's aptitude for business. He began to have his doubts about Mr.
Barry. Mr. Barry was tending toward sharp practice. Mr. Barry was
beginning to love his clients,--not with a proper attorney's affection,
as his children, but as sheep to be shorn. With Mr. Grey the bills had
gone out and had been paid, no doubt, and the money had in some shape
found its way into Mr. Grey's pockets. But he had never looked at the
two things together. Mr. Barry seemed to be thinking of the wool as
every client came or was dismissed. Mr. Grey, as he thought of these
things, began to fancy that his own style of business was becoming
antiquated. He had said good words of Mr. Barry to his daughter, but
just at this period his faith both in himself and in his partner began
to fail. His partner was becoming too strong for him, and he felt that
he was failing. Things were changed; and he did not love his business as
he used to do. He had fancies, and he knew that he had fancies, and that
fancies were not good for an attorney. When he saw what was in Mr.
Barry's mind as to this new story from Tretton, he became convinced that
Dolly was right. Dolly was not fit, he thought, to be Mr. Barry's wife.
She might have been the wife of such another as himself, had the partner
been such another. But it was not probable that any partner should have
been such as he was. "Old times are changed," he said to himself; "old
manners gone." Then he determined that he would put his house in order,
and leave the firm. A man cannot leave his work forever without some
touch of melancholy.
But it was necessary that some one should go to Rummelsburg and find
what could be learned there. Mr. Grey had sworn that he would have
nothing to do with the new story, as soon as the new story had been told
to him; but it soon became apparent to him that he must have to do with
it. As soon as the breath should be out of the old squire's body, some
one must take possession of Tretton, and Mountjoy would be left in the
house. In accordance with Mr. Grey's theory, Augustus would be the
proper possessor. Augustus, no doubt, would go down and claim the
ownership, unless the matter could be decided to the satisfaction of
them both beforehand. Mr. Grey thought that there was little hope of
such satisfaction; but it would of course be for him or his firm to see
what could be done. "That I should ever have got such a piece of
business!" he said to himself. But it was at last settled among them
that Mr. Barry should go to Rummelsburg. He had made the inquiry at
Nice, and he would go on with it at Rummelsburg. Mr. Barry started, with
Mr. Quaverdale, of St. John's, the gentleman whom Harry Annesley had
consulted as to the practicability of his earning money by writing for
the Press. Mr. Quaverdale was supposed to be a German scholar, and
therefore had his expenses paid for him, with some bonus for his time.
A conversation between Mr. Barry and Mr. Quaverdale, which took place on
their way home, shall be given, as it will best describe the result of
their inquiry. This inquiry had been conducted by Mr. Barry's
intelligence, but had owed so much to Mr. Quaverdale's extensive
knowledge of languages, that the two gentlemen may be said, as they came
home, to be equally well instructed in the affairs of Mr. Scarborough's
"He has been too many for the governor," said Barry. Mr. Barry's
governor was Mr. Grey.
"It seems to me that Scarborough is a gentleman who is apt to be too
many for most men."
"The sharpest fellow I ever came across, either in the way of a cheat or
in any other walk of life. If he wanted any one else to have the
property, he'd come out with something to show that the entail itself
was all moonshine."
"But when he married again at Nice, he couldn't have quarrelled with his
eldest son already. The child was not above four or five months old."
This came from Quaverdale.
"It's my impression," said Barry, "that it was then his intention to
divide the property, and that this was done as a kind of protest against
primogeniture. Then he found that that would fail,--that if he came to
explain the whole matter to his sons, they would not consent to be
guided by him, and to accept a division. From what I have seen of both
of them, they are bad to guide after that fashion. Then Mountjoy got
frightfully into the hands of the money-lenders, and in order to do them
it became necessary that the whole property should go to Augustus."
"They must look upon him as a nice sort of old man!" said Quaverdale.
"Rather! But they have never got at him to speak a bit of their mind to
him. And then how clever he was in getting round his own younger son.
The property got into such a condition that there was money enough to
pay the Jews the money they had really lent. Augustus, who was never
quite sure of his father, thought it would be best to disarm them; and
he consented to pay them, getting back all their bonds. But he was very
uncivil to the squire,--told him that the sooner he died the better, or
something of that sort; and then the squire immediately turned round and
sprung this Rummelsburg marriage upon us, and has left every stick about
the place to Mountjoy. It must all go to Mountjoy,--every acre, every
horse, every bed, and every book."
"And these, in twelve months' time, will have been divided among the
card-players of the metropolis," said Quaverdale.
"We've got nothing to do with that. If ever a man did have a lesson he
has had it. If he chose to take it, no man would ever have been saved in
so miraculous a manner. But there can be no doubt that John Scarborough
and Ada Sneyd were married at Rummelsburg, and that it will be found to
be impossible to unmarry them."
"Old Mrs. Sneyd, the lady's mother, was then present?" said Quaverdale.
"Not a doubt about it, and that Fritz Deutchmann was present at the
marriage. I almost think that we ought to have brought him away with us.
It would have cost a couple of hundred pounds, but the estate can bear
that. We can have him by sending for him, if we should want it." Then,
after many more words on the same subject and to the same effect, Mr.
Barry went on to give his own private opinions: "In fact, the only
blemish in old Scarborough's plans was this,--that the Rummelsburg
marriage was sure to come out sooner or later."
"Do you think so? Fritz Deutchmann is the only one of the party alive,
and it's not probable that he would ever have heard of Tretton."
"These things always do come out. But it does not signify now. And the
world will know how godless and reprobate old Scarborough has been; but
that will not interfere with Mountjoy's legitimacy. And the world has
pretty well understood already that the old man has cared nothing for
God or man. It was bad enough, according to the other story, that he
should have kept Augustus so long in the dark, and determined to give it
all to a bastard by means of a plot and a fraud. The world has got used
to that. The world will simply be amused by this other turn. And as the
world generally is not very fond of Augustus Scarborough, and entertains
a sort of a good-natured pity for Mountjoy, the first marriage will be
"There'll be a lawsuit, I suppose?" said Quaverdale.
"I don't see that they'll have a leg to stand on. When the old man dies
the property will be exactly as it would have been. This latter intended
fraud in favor of Augustus will be understood as having been old
Scarborough's farce. The Jews are the party who have really suffered."
"He will have lost nothing to which he was by law entitled. His father
might of course make what will he pleased. If Augustus was uncivil to
his father, his father could of course alter his will. The world would
see all that. But the world will be inclined to say that these poor
money-lenders have been awfully swindled."
"The world won't pity them."
"I'm not so sure. It's a hard case to get hold of a lot of men and force
them to lend you a hundred pounds without security and without interest.
That's what has been done in this case."
"They'll have no means of recovering anything."
"Not a shilling. The wonder is that they should have got three hundred
thousand pounds. They never would have had it unless the squire had
wished to pave the way back for Mountjoy. And then he made Augustus do
it for him! In my mind he has been so clever that he ought to be
forgiven all his rascality. There has been, too, no punishment for him,
and no probability of punishment. He has done nothing for which the law
can touch him. He has proposed to cheat people, but before he would have
cheated them he might be dead. The money-lenders will have been swindled
awfully, but they have never had any ground of tangible complaint
against him. 'Who are you?' he has said. 'I don't know you.' They
alleged that they had lent their money to his eldest son. 'That's as you
thought,' he replied. 'I ain't bound to come and tell you all the family
arrangements about my marriage.' If you look at it all round it was
uncommonly well done."
When Mr. Barry got back he found that it was generally admitted at the
Chambers that the business had been well done. Everybody was prepared
to allow that Mr. Scarborough had not left a screw loose in the
arrangement,--though he was this moment on his death-bed, and had been
under surgical tortures and operations, and, in fact, slowly dying,
during the whole period that he had been thus busy. Every one concerned
in the matter seemed to admire Mr. Scarborough except Mr. Grey, whose
anger, either with himself or his client, became the stronger the louder
grew the admiration of the world.
A couple of barristers very learned in the law were consulted, and they
gave it as their opinion that from the evidence as shown to them there
could be no doubt but that Mountjoy was legitimate. There was no reason
in the least for doubting it, but for that strange episode which had
occurred when, in order to get the better of the law, Mr. Scarborough
had declared that at the time of Mountjoy's birth he had not been
married. They went on to declare that on the squire's death the
Rummelsburg marriage must of course have been discovered, and had given
it as their opinion that the squire had never dreamed of doing so great
an injustice either to his elder or his younger son. He had simply
desired, as they thought, to cheat the money-lenders, and had cheated
them beautifully. That Mr. Tyrrwhit should have been so very soft was a
marvel to them; but it only showed how very foolish a sharp man of the
world might be when he encountered one sharper.
And Augustus, through an attorney acting on his own behalf, consulted
two other barristers, whose joint opinion was not forthcoming quite at
once, but may have to be stated. Augustus was declared by them to have
received at his father's hands a most irreparable injury to such an
extent that an action for damages would, in their opinion, lie.
He had, by accepting his father's first story, altered the whole course
of his life, abandoned his profession, and even paid large sums of money
out of his own pocket for the maintenance of his elder brother. A jury
would probably award him some very considerable sum,--if a jury could get
hold of his father while still living. No doubt the furniture and other
property would remain, and might be held to be liable for the present
owner's laches. But these two learned lawyers did not think that an
action could be taken with any probability of success against the eldest
son, with reference to his tables and chairs, when the Tretton estates
should have become his. As these learned lawyers had learned that old
Mr. Scarborough was at this moment almost _in articulo mortis_, would
it not be better that Augustus should apply to his elder brother to make
him such compensation as the peculiarities of the case would demand? But
as this opinion did not reach Augustus till his father was dead, the
first alternative proposed was of no use.
"I suppose, sir, we had better communicate with Mr. Scarborough?" Mr.
Barry said to his partner, on his return.
"Not in my name," Mr. Grey replied. "I've put Mr. Scarborough in such a
state that he is not allowed to see any business letter. Sir William
Brodrick is there now." But communications were made both to Mountjoy
and to Augustus. There was nothing for Mountjoy to do; his case was in
Mr. Barry's hands; nor could he take any steps till something should be
done to oust him from Tretton. Augustus, however, immediately went to
work and employed his counsel, learned in the law.
"You will do something, I suppose, for poor Gus?" the old man said to
his son one morning. It was the last morning on which he was destined to
awake in the world, and he had been told by Sir William and by Mr.
Merton that it would probably be so. But death to him had no terror.
Life to him, for many weeks past, had been so laden with pain as to make
him look forward to a release from it with hope. But the business of
life had pressed so hard upon him as to make him feel that he could not
tell what had been accomplished.
The adjustment of such a property as Tretton required, he thought, his
presence, and, till it had been adjusted, he clung to life with a
pertinacity which had seemed to be oppressive. Now Mountjoy's debts had
been paid, and Mountjoy could be left a bit happier. Having achieved so
much, he was delighted to think that he might. But there had come
latterly a claim upon him equally strong,--that he should wreak his
vengeance upon Augustus. Had Augustus abused him for keeping him in the
dark so long, he would have borne it patiently. He had expected as much.
But his son had ridiculed him, laughed at him, made nothing of him, and
had at last told him to die out of the way. He would, at any rate, do
something before he died.
He had had his revenge, very bitter of its kind. Augustus should be made
to feel that he had not been ridiculous,--not to be laughed at in his
last days. He had ruined his son, inevitably ruined him, and was about to
leave him penniless upon the earth. But now in his last moments, in his
very last, there came upon him some feeling of pity, and in speaking of
his son he once more called him "Gus."
"I don't know how it will all be, sir; but if the property is to be
"It will be yours; it must be yours."
"Then I will do anything for him that he will accept."
"Do not let him starve, or have to earn his bread."
"Say what you wish, sir, and it shall be done, as far as I can do it."
"Make an offer to him of some income, and settle it on him. Do it at
once." The old man, as he said this, was thinking probably of the great
danger that all Tretton might, before long, have been made to vanish.
"You have gambled surely enough for amusement. With such a property as
this in your hands gambling becomes very serious."
They were the last words,--the last intelligible words,--which the old man
spoke. He died with his left hand on his son's neck, and took Merton and
his sister by his side. It was a death-bed not without its lesson,--not
without a certain charm in the eyes of some fancied beholder. Those who
were there seemed to love him well, and should do so.
He had contrived, in spite of his great faults, to create a respect in
the minds of those around him, which is itself a great element of love.
But there was something in his manner which told of love for others. He
was one who could hate to distraction, and on whom no bonds of blood
would operate to mitigate his hatred. He would persevere to injure with
a terrible persistency; but yet in every phase of his life he had been
actuated by love for others. He had never been selfish, thinking always
of others rather than of himself. Supremely indifferent he had been to
the opinion of the world around him, but he had never run counter to his
own conscience. For the conventionalities of the law he entertained a
supreme contempt, but he did wish so to arrange matters with which he
was himself concerned as to do what justice demanded. Whether he
succeeded in the last year of his life the reader may judge. But
certainly the three persons who were assembled around his death-bed did
respect him, and had been made to love him by what he had done.
Merton wrote the next morning to his friend Henry Annesley respecting
the scene. "The poor old boy has gone at last, and, in spite of all his
faults, I feel as though I had lost an old friend. To me he has been
most kind, and did I not know of all his sins I should say that he had
been always loyal and always charitable. Mr. Grey condemns him, and all
the world must condemn him. One cannot make an apology for him without
being ready to throw all truth and all morality to the dogs. But if you
can imagine for yourself a state of things in which neither truth nor
morality shall be thought essential, then old Mr. Scarborough would be
your hero. He was the bravest man I ever knew. He was ready to look all
opposition in the face, and prepared to bear it down. And whatever he
did, he did with the view of accomplishing what he thought to be right
for other people. Between him and his God I cannot judge, but he
believed in an Almighty One, and certainly went forth to meet him
without a fear in his heart."
JOE THOROUGHBUNG'S WEDDING.
While some men die others are marrying. While the funeral dirge was
pealing sadly at Tretton, the joyful marriage-bells were ringing both at
Buntingford and Buston. Joe Thoroughbung, dressed all in his best, was
about to carry off Molly Annesley to Rome previous to settling down to a
comfortable life of hunting and brewing in his native town. Miss
Thoroughbung sent her compliments to Mrs. Annesley. Would her brother be
there? She thought it probable that Mr. Prosper would not be glad to see
her. She longed to substitute "Peter" for Mr. Prosper, but abstained. In
such case she would deny herself the pleasure of "seeing Joe turned
off." Then there was an embassy sent to the Hall. The two younger girls
went with the object of inviting Uncle Prosper, but with a desire at
their hearts that Uncle Prosper might not come. "I presume the family at
Buntingford will be represented?" Uncle Prosper had asked. "Somebody
will come, I suppose," said Fanny. Then Uncle Prosper had sent down a
pretty jewelled ring, and said that he would remain in his room. His
health hardly permitted of his being present with advantage. So it was
decided that Miss Thoroughbung should come, and every one felt that she
would be the howling spirit,--if not at the ceremony, at the banquet
which would be given afterward.
Miss Thoroughbung was not the only obstacle, had the whole been known.
Young Soames, the son of the attorney with whom Mr. Prosper had found it
so evil a thing to have to deal, was to act as Joe's best man. Mr.
Prosper learned this, probably, from Matthew, but he never spoke of it
to the family.
It was a sad disgrace in his eyes that any Soames should have been so
far mixed up with the Prosper blood. Young Algy Soames was in himself a
very nice sort of young fellow, who liked a day's hunting when he could
be spared out of his father's office, and whose worst fault was that he
wore loud cravats. But he was an abomination to Mr. Prosper, who had
never seen him. As it was, he carried himself very mildly on this
"It's a pity we're not to have two marriages at the same time," said Mr.
Crabtree, a clerical wag from the next parish. "Don't you think so, Mrs.
Annesley?" Mrs. Annesley was standing close by, as was also Miss
Thoroughbung, but she made no answer to the appeal. People who
understood anything knew that Mrs. Annesley would not be gratified by
such an allusion. But Mr. Crabtree was a man who understood nothing.
"The old birds never pair so readily as the young ones," said Miss
"Old! Who talks of being old?" said Mr. Crabtree. "My friend Prosper is
quite a boy. There's a good time coming, and I hope you'll give way yet,
Then they were all marshalled on their way to church. It is quite out of
my power to describe the bride's dress, or that of the bride's maids.
They were the bride's sisters and two of Joe's sisters. An attempt had
been made to induce Florence Mountjoy to come down, but it had been
unsuccessful. Things had gone so far now at Cheltenham that Mrs.
Mountjoy had been driven to acknowledge that if Florence held to her
project for three years she should be allowed to marry Harry Annesley.
But she had accompanied this permission by many absurd restrictions.
Florence was not to see him, at any rate, during the first year; but she
was to see Mountjoy Scarborough if he came to Cheltenham. Florence
declared this to be impossible; but, as the Buston marriage took place
just at this moment, she could not have her way in everything. Joe drove
up to the church with Algy Soames, it not having been thought discreet
that he should enter the parsonage on that morning, though he had been
there nearly every day through the winter. "I declare, here he is!"
said Miss Thoroughbung, very loudly. "I never thought he'd have the
courage at the last moment."
"I wonder how a certain gentleman would have felt when it came to his
last moment," said Mr. Crabtree.
Mrs. Annesley took to weeping bitterly, which seemed to be unnecessary,
as she had done nothing but congratulate herself since the match had
first been made, and had rejoiced greatly that one of her numerous brood
should have "put into such a haven of rest."
"My dear Mrs. Annesley," said Mrs. Crabtree, consoling her in that she
would not be far removed from her child, "you can almost see the brewery
chimneys from the church tower." Those who knew the two ladies well were
aware that there was some little slur intended by the allusion to
brewery chimneys. Mrs. Crabtree's girl had married the third son of Sir
Reginald Rattlepate. The Rattlepates were not rich, and the third son
was not inclined to earn his bread.
"Thank God, yes!" said Mrs. Annesley, through her tears. "Whenever I
shall see them I shall know that there's an income coming out with the
The boys were home from school for the occasion. "Molly, there's Joe
coming after you," said the elder.
"If he gives you a kiss now you needn't pretend to mind," said the
"My darling, my own one, that so soon will be my own no longer!" said
the father, as he made his way into the vestry to put on his surplice.
"Dear papa!" It was the only word the bride said as she walked in at the
church-door, and prepared to make her way up the nave at the head of her
little bevy. They were all very bright, as they stood there before the
altar, but the brightest spot among them was Algy Soames's blue necktie.
Joe for the moment was much depressed, and thought nothing of the last
run in which he had distinguished himself; but nevertheless he held up
his head well as a man and a brewer.
"Dont'ee take on so," Miss Thoroughbung said to Mrs. Annesley at the
last moment. "He'll give her plenty to eat and to drink, and will never
do her a morsel of harm." Joe overheard this, and wished that his aunt
was back in her bed at Marmaduke Lodge.
Then the marriage was over, and they all trooped into the vestry to sign
the book. "You can't get out of that now," said Mrs. Crabtree to Joe.
"I don't want to. I have got the fairest girl in these parts for my
wife, and, as I believe, the best young woman." This he said with a
spirit for which Mrs. Crabtree had not given him credit, and Algy Soames
heard him and admired his friend beneath his blue necktie. And one of
the girls heard it, and cried tears of joy as she told her sister
afterward in the bedroom. "Oh, what a darling he is!" Molly had said,
amid her own sobbing. Joe stood an inch higher among them all because of
Then came the breakfast,--that dullest, saddest hour of all. To feed
heavily about twelve in the morning is always a nuisance,--a nuisance so
abominable that it should be avoided under any other circumstances than
a wedding in your own family. But that wedding-breakfast, when it does
come, is the worst of all feeding. The smart dresses and bare shoulders
seen there by daylight, the handing people in and out among the seats,
the very nature of the food, made up of chicken and sweets and flummery,
the profusion of champagne, not sometimes of the very best on such an
occasion; and then the speeches! They fall generally to the lot of some
middle-aged gentlemen, who seem always to have been selected for their
incapacity. But there is a worse trouble yet remaining--in the unnatural
repletion which the sight even of so much food produces, and the fact
that your dinner for that day is destroyed utterly and forever.
Mr. Crabtree and the two fathers made the speeches, over and beyond that
which was made by Joe himself. Joe's father was not eloquent. He brewed,
no doubt, good beer, without a taste in it beyond malt and hops;--no man
in the county brewed better beer; but he couldn't make a speech. He got
up, dressed in a big white waistcoat, and a face as red as his son's
hunting-coat, and said that he hoped his boy would make a good husband.
All he could say was, that being a lover had not helped to make him a
good brewer. Perhaps when Molly Annesley was brought nearer to
Buntingford, Joe mightn't spend so much of his time in going to and fro.
Perhaps Mr. Joe might not demand so much of her attention. This was the
great point he made, and it was received well by all but the bride, who
whispered to Joe that if he thought that he was to be among the brewing
tubs from morning till night he'd find he was mistaken. Mr. Annesley
threw a word or two of feeling into his speech, as is usual with the
father of the young lady, but nobody seemed to care much for that. Mr.
Crabtree was facetious with the ordinary wedding jests,--as might have
been expected, seeing that he had been present at every wedding in the
county for the last twenty years. The elderly ladies laughed
good-humoredly, and Mrs. Crabtree was heard to say that the whole
affair would have been very tame but that Mr. Crabtree had "carried it
all off." But, in truth, when Joe got up the fun of the day had
commenced, for Miss Thoroughbung, though she kept her chair, was able to
utter as many words as her nephew: "I'm sure I'm very much obliged to
you for what you've all been saying."
"So you ought, sir, for you have heard more good of yourself than you'll
ever hear again."
"Then I'm the more obliged to you. What my people have said about my
being so long upon the road--"
"That's only just what you have told them at the brewery. Nobody knows
where you have been."
"Molly can tell you all about that."
"I can't tell them anything," Molly said in a whisper.
"But it comes only once in a man's lifetime," continued Joe; "and I dare
say, if we knew all about the governor when he was of my age, which I
don't remember, he was as spooney as any one."
"I only saw him once for six months before he was married," said Mrs.
Thoroughbung in a funereal voice.
"He's made up for it since," said Miss Thoroughbung.
"I'm sure I'm very proud to have got such a young lady to have come and
joined her lot with mine," continued Joe; "and nobody can think more
about his wife's family than I do."
"And all Buston," said the aunt.
"Yes, and all Buston."
"I'm sure we're all sorry that the bride's uncle, from Buston Hall, has
not been able to come here to-day. You ought to say that, Joe."
"Yes, I do say it. I'm very sorry that Mr. Prosper isn't able to be
"Perhaps Miss Thoroughbung can tell us something about him?" said Mr.
"Me! I know nothing special. When I saw him last he was in good health.
I did nothing to him to make him keep his bed. Mrs. Crabtree seems to
think that I have got your uncle in my keeping. Molly, I beg to say that
I'm not responsible."
It must be allowed that amid such free conversation it was difficult for
Joe to shine as an orator. But as he had no such ambition, perhaps the
interruptions only served him. But Miss Thoroughbung's witticism did
throw a certain damp over the wedding-breakfast. It was perhaps to have
been expected that the lady should take her revenge for the injury done
to her. It was the only revenge that she did take. She had been
ill-used, she thought, and yet she had not put Mr. Prosper to a shilling
of expense. And there was present to her a feeling that the uncle had at
the last moment been debarred from complying with her small requests in
favor of Miss Tickle and the ponies on behalf of the young man who was
now sitting opposite to her, and that the good things coming from Buston
Hall were to be made to flow in the way of the Annesleys generally
rather than in her way. She did not regret them very much, and it was
not in her nature to be bitter; but still all those little touches about
Mr. Prosper were pleasant to her, and were, of course, unpleasant to the
Annesleys. Then, it will be said, she should not have come to partake of
a breakfast in Mr. Annesley's dining-room. That is a matter of taste,
and perhaps Miss Thoroughbung's taste was not altogether refined.
Joe's speech came to an end, and with it his aunt's remarks. But as she
left the room she said a few words to Mr. Annesley. "Don't suppose that
I am angry,--not in the least; certainly not with you or Harry. I'd do
him a good turn to-morrow if I could; and so, for the matter of that, I
would to his uncle. But you can't expect but what a woman should have
her feelings and express them." Mr. Annesley, on the other hand, thought
it strange that a woman in such a position should express her feelings.
Then at last came the departure. Molly was taken up into her mother's
room and cried over for the last time. "I know that I'm an old fool!"
"Oh, mamma! now, dearest mamma!"
"A good husband is the greatest blessing that God can send a girl, and I
do think that he is good and sterling."
"He is, mamma,--he is. I know he is."
"And when that woman talks about brewery chimneys, I know what a comfort
it is that there should be chimneys, and that they should be near.
Brewery chimneys are better than a do-nothing scamp that can't earn a
meal for himself or his children. And when I see Joe with his pink coat
on going to the meet, I thank God that my Molly has got a lad that can
work hard, and ride his own horses, and go out hunting with the best of
"Oh, mamma, I do like to see him then. He is handsome."
"I would not have anything altered. But--but--Oh, my child, you are
"As Mrs. Crabtree says, I sha'n't be far."
"No, no! But you won't be all mine. The time will come when you'll
think of your girls in the same way. You haven't done a thing that I
haven't seen and known and pondered over; you haven't worn a skirt but
what it has been dear to me; you haven't uttered a prayer but what I
have heard it as it went up to God's throne. I hope he says his
"I'm sure he does," said Molly, with confidence more or less well
"Now go, and leave me here. I'm such an old stupid that I can't help
crying; and if that woman was to say anything more to me about the
chimneys I should give her a bit of my mind."
Then Molly went down with her travelling-hat on, looking twice prettier
than she had done during the whole of the morning ceremonies. It is, I
suppose, on the bridegroom's behalf that the bride is put forth in all
her best looks just as she is about to become, for the first time,
exclusively his own. Molly, on the present occasion, was very pretty,
and Joe was very proud. It was not the least of his pride that he,
feeling himself to be not quite as yet removed from the "Bung" to the
"Thorough," had married into a family by which his ascent might be
And then, as they went, came the normal shower of rice, to be picked up
in the course of the next hour by the vicarage fowls, and not by the
London beggars, and the air was darkened by a storm of old shoes. In
London, white satin slippers are the fashion. But Buston and Buntingford
combined could not afford enough of such missiles; and from the hands of
the boys black shoes, and boots too, were thrown freely. "There go my
best pair," said one of the boys, as the chariot was driven off, "and I
don't mean to let them lie there." Then the boots were recovered and
taken up to the bedroom.
Now that Molly was gone, Harry's affairs became paramount at Buston.
After all, Harry was of superior importance to Molly, though those
chimneys at Buntingford could probably give a better income than the
acres belonging to the park. But Harry was to be the future Prosper of
the county; to assume at some future time the family name; and there was
undoubtedly present to them all at the parsonage a feeling that Harry
Annesley Prosper would loom in future years a bigger squire than the
parish had ever known before. He had got a fellowship, which no Prosper
had ever done; and he had the look and tone of a man who had lived in
London, which had never belonged to the Prospers generally. And he was
to bring a wife, with a good fortune, and one of whom a reputation for
many charms had preceded her. And Harry, having been somewhat under a
cloud for the last six months, was now emerging from it brighter than
ever. Even Uncle Prosper could not do without him. That terrible Miss
Thoroughbung had thrown a gloom over Buston Hall which could only be
removed, as the squire himself had felt, by the coming of the natural
heir. Harry was indispensable, and was no longer felt by any one to be a
It was now the end of March. Old Mr. Scarborough was dead and buried,
and Mountjoy was living at Tretton. Nothing had been heard of his coming
up to London. No rushing to the card-tables had been announced. That
there were to be some terrible internecine law contests between him and
Augustus had been declared in many circles, but of this nothing was
known at the Buston Rectory. Harry had been one day at Cheltenham, and
had been allowed to spend the best part of an hour with his sweetheart;
but this permission had been given on the understanding that he was not
to come again, and now for a month he had abstained. Then had come his
uncle's offer, that generous offer under which Harry was to bring his
wife to Buston Hall, and live there during half the year, and to receive
an increased allowance for his maintenance during the other half. As he
thought of his ways and means he fancied that they would be almost rich.
She would have four hundred a year, and he as much; and an established
home would be provided for them. Of all these good things he had written
to Florence, but had not yet seen her since the offer had been made. Her
answer had not been as propitious as it might be, and it was absolutely
necessary that he should go down to Cheltenham and settle things.
The three years had in his imagination been easily reduced to one, which
was still, as he thought, an impossible time for waiting. By degrees it
came down to six months in his imagination, and now to three, resulting
in an idea that they might be easily married early in June, so as to
have the whole of the summer before them for their wedding-tour.
"Mother," he said, "I shall be off to-morrow."
"Yes, to Cheltenham. What is the good of waiting. I think a girl may be
too obedient to her mother."
"It is a fine feeling, which you will be glad to remember that she
"Supposing that you had declared that Molly shouldn't have married Joe
"Molly has got a father," said Mrs. Annesley.
"Suppose she had none?"
"I cannot suppose anything so horrible."
"As if you and he had joined together to forbid Molly."
"But we didn't."
"I think a girl may carry it too far," said Harry. "Mrs. Mountjoy has
committed herself to Mountjoy Scarborough, and will not go back from her
word. He has again come back to the fore, and out of a ruined man has
appeared as the rich proprietor of the town of Tretton. Of course the
mother hangs on to him still."
"You don't think Florence will change?"
"Not in the least. I'm not a bit afraid of Mountjoy Scarborough and all
his property; but I can see that she may be subjected to much annoyance
from which I ought to extricate her."
"What can you do, Harry?"
"Go and tell her so. Make her understand that she should put herself
into my hands at once, and that I could protect her."
"Take her away from her mother by force?" said Mrs. Annesley, with
"If she were once married her mother would think no more about it. I
don't believe that Mrs. Mountjoy has any special dislike to me. She
thinks of her own nephew, and as long as Florence is Florence Mountjoy
there will be for her the chance. I know that he has no chance; and I
don't think that I ought to leave her there to be bullied for some
endless period of time. Think of three years,--of dooming a girl to live
three years without ever seeing her lover! There is an absurdity about
it which is revolting. I shall go down to-morrow and see if I cannot put
a stop to it." To this the mother could make no objection, though she
could express no approval of a project under which Florence was to be
made to marry without her mother's consent.
MR. SCARBOROUGH IS BURIED.
When Mr. Scarborough died, and when he had been buried, his son Mountjoy
was left alone at Tretton, living in a very desolate manner. Till the
day of the funeral, Merton, the doctor, had remained with him and his
aunt, Miss Scarborough; but when the old squire had been laid in his
grave they both departed. Miss Scarborough was afraid of her nephew, and
could not look forward to living comfortably at the big house; and Dr.
Merton had the general work of his life to call him away. "You might as
well stay for another week," Mountjoy had said to him. But Merton had
felt that he could not remain at Tretton without some especial duty, and
he too went his way.
The funeral had been very strange. Augustus had refused to come and
stand at his father's grave. "Considering all things, I had rather
decline," he had written to Mountjoy. Other guests--none were invited,
except the tenants. They came in a body, for the squire had been noted
among them as a liberal landlord.
But a crowd of tenants does not in any way make up that look of family
sorrow which is expected at the funeral of such a man as Mr.
Scarborough. Mountjoy was there, and stood through the ceremony
speechless, and almost sullen. He went down to the church behind the
body with Merton, and then walked away from the ground without having
uttered a syllable. But during the ceremony he had seen that which
caused him to be sullen. Mr. Samuel Hart had been there, and Mr.
Tyrrwhit. And there was a man whom he called to his mind as connected
with the names of Evans & Crooke, and Mr. Spicer, and Mr. Richard
Juniper. He knew them all as they stood there round the grave, not in
decorous funeral array, but as strangers who had strayed into the
cemetery. He could not but feel, as he looked at them and they at him,
that they had come to look after their interest,--their heavy interest on
the money which had been fraudulently repaid to them. He knew that they
had parted with their bonds. But he knew also that almost all that was
now his would have been theirs, had they not been cheated into believing
that he, Mountjoy Scarborough, was not, and never would be, Scarborough
of Tretton Park. They said nothing as they stood there, and did not in
any way interrupt the ceremony; but they looked at Mountjoy as they
were standing, and their looks disconcerted him terribly.
He had declared that he would walk back to the house which was not above
two miles distant from the graveyard, and therefore, when the funeral
was over, there was no carriage to take him. But he knew that the men
would dog his steps as he walked. He had only just got within the
precincts of the park when he saw them all. But Mr. Tyrrwhit was by
himself, and came up to him. "What are you going to do, Captain
Scarborough," he said, "as to our claims?"
"You have no claims of which I am aware," he said roughly.
"Oh yes, Captain Scarborough; we have claims, certainly. You've come up
to the front lately with a deal of luck; I don't begrudge it, for one;
but I have claims,--I and those other gentlemen; we have claims. You'll
have to admit that."
"Send in the documents. Mr. Barry is acting as my lawyer; he is Mr.
Grey's partner, and is now taking the leading share in the business."
"I know Mr. Barry well; a very sharp gentleman is Mr. Barry."
"I cannot enter into conversation with yourself at such a time as this."
"We are sorry to trouble you; but then our interests are so pressing.
What do you mean to do, Captain Scarborough? That's the question."
"Yes; with the estate," said Mr. Samuel Hart, coming up and joining
them. Of the lot of men, Mr. Samuel Hart was the most distasteful to
Mountjoy. He had last seen his Jew persecutor at Moscow, and had then,
as he thought, been grossly insulted by him. "What are you hafter,
captain?" To this Mountjoy made no answer, but Hart, walking a step or
two in advance, turned upon his heels and looked at the park around him.
"Tidy sort of place, ain't it, Tyrrwhit, for a gentleman to hang his 'at
up, when we were told he was a bastard, not worth a shilling?"
"I have nothing to do with all that," said Mountjoy; "you and Mr.
Tyrrwhit held my acceptances for certain sums of money. They have, I
believe, been paid in full."
"No, they ain't; they ain't been paid in full at all; you knows they
ain't." As he said this, Mr. Hart walked on in front, and stood in the
pathway, facing Mountjoy. "How can you 'ave the cheek to say we've been
paid in full? You know it ain't true."
"Evans & Crooke haven't been paid, so far," said a voice from behind.
"More ain't Spicer," said another voice.
"Captain Scarborough, I haven't been paid in full," said Mr. Juniper,
advancing to the front. "You don't mean to tell me that my five hundred
pounds have been paid in full? You've ruined me, Captain Scarborough. I
was to have been married to a young lady with a large fortune,--your Mr.
Grey's niece,--and it has been broken off altogether because of your bad
treatment. Do you mean to assert that I have been paid in full?"
"If you have got any document, take it to Mr. Barry."
"No, I won't; I won't take it to any lawyer. I'll take it right in
before the Court, and expose you. My name is Juniper, and I've never
parted with a morsel of paper that has your name to it."
"Then, no doubt, you'll get your money," said the captain.
"I thought, gentlemen, you were to allow me to be the spokesman on this
occasion," said Mr. Tyrrwhit. "We certainly cannot do any good if we
attack the captain all at once. Now, Captain Scarborough, we don't want
to be uncivil."
"Uncivil be blowed!" said Mr. Hart; "I want to get my money, and mean to
'ave it. I agreed as you was to speak, Mr. Tyrrwhit; but I means to be
spoken up for; and if no one else can do it, I can do it myself. Is we
to have any settlement made to us, or is we to go to law?"
"I can only refer you to Mr. Barry," said Mountjoy, walking on very
rapidly. He thought that when he reached the house he might be able to
enter in and leave them out, and he thought also that if he kept them on
the trot he would thus prevent them from attacking him with many words.
Evans & Crooke were already lagging behind, and Mr. Spicer was giving
signs of being hard pressed. Even Hart, who was younger than the others,
was fat and short, and already showed that he would have to halt if he
made many speeches.
"Barry be d----d!" exclaimed Hart.
"You see how it is, Captain Scarborough," said Tyrrwhit; "Your father,
as has just been laid to rest in hopes of a a happy resurrection, was a
very peculiar gentleman."
"The most hinfernal swindler I ever 'eard tell of!" said Hart.
"I don't wish to say a word disrespectful," continued Tyrrwhit, "but he
had his own notions. He said as you was illegitimate,--didn't he, now?"
"I can only refer you to Mr. Barry," said Mountjoy.
"And he said that Mr. Augustus was to have it all; and he proved his
words,--didn't he, now? And then he made out that, if so, our deeds
weren't worth the paper they were written on. Isn't it all true what I'm
saying? And then when we'd taken what small sums of money he chose to
offer us, just to save ourselves from ruin, then he comes up and says
you are the heir, as legitimate as anybody else, and are to have all the
property. And he proves that too! What are we to think about it?"
There was nothing left for Mountjoy Scarborough but to make the pace as
good as possible. Mr. Hart tried once and again to stop their progress
by standing in the captain's path, but could only do this sufficiently
at each stoppage to enable him to express his horror with various
interjections. "Oh laws! that such a liar as 'e should ever be buried!"
"You can't do anything by being disrespectful, Mr. Hart," said Tyrrwhit.
"What--is it--he means--to do?" ejaculated Spicer.
"Mr. Spicer," said Mountjoy, "I mean to leave it all in the hands of Mr.
Barry; and, if you will believe me, no good can be done by any of you by
hunting me across the park."
"Hare you a bastard, or haren't you?" ejaculated Hart.
"No, Mr. Hart, I am not."
"Then pay us what you h'owes us. You h'ain't h'agoing to say as you don't
"Mr. Tyrrwhit," said the captain, "it is of no use my answering Mr.
Hart, because he is angry."
"H'angry! By George, I h'am angry! I'd like to pull that h'old sinner's
bones h'out of the ground!"
"But to you I can say that Mr. Barry will be better able to tell you
than I am what can be done by me to defend my property."
"Captain Scarborough," said Mr. Tyrrwhit, mildly, "we had your name, you
know. We did have your name."
"And my father bought the bonds back."
"Oh laws! And he calls himself a shentleman!"
"I have nothing farther to say to you now, gentlemen, and can only refer
you to Mr. Barry." The path on which they were walking had then brought
them to the corner of a garden wall, through which a door opened into
the garden. Luckily, at the moment, it occurred to Mountjoy that there
was a bolt on the other side of the gate, and he entered it quickly and
bolted the door. Mr. Tyrrwhit was left on the other side, and was joined
by his companions as quickly as their failing breath enabled them to do
so. "'Ere's a go!" said Mr. Hart, striking the door violently with the
handle of his stick.
"He had nothing for it but to leave us when we attacked him altogether,"
said Mr. Tyrrwhit. "If you had left it to me he would have told us what
he intended to do. You, Mr. Hart, had not so much cause to be angry, as
you had received a considerable sum for interest." Then Mr. Hart turned
upon Mr. Tyrrwhit, and abused him all the way back to their inn. But it
was pleasant to see how these commercial gentlemen, all engaged in the
natural course of trade, expressed their violent indignation, not so
much as to their personal losses, but at the commercial dishonesty
generally of which the Scarboroughs, father and son, had been and were
about to be guilty.
Mountjoy, when he reached the house of which he was now the only
occupant besides the servants, stood for an hour in the dining-room with
his back toward the fire, thinking of his position. He had many things
of which to think. In the first place, there were these pseudo-creditors
who had just attacked him in his own park with much acrimony. He
endeavored to comfort himself by telling himself that they were
certainly pseudo-creditors, to whom he did not in fact owe a penny. Mr.
Barry could deal with them.
But then his conscience reminded him that they had, in truth, been
cheated,--cheated by his father for his benefit. For every pound which
they had received they would have claimed three or four. They would no
doubt have cheated him. But how was he now to measure the extent of his
father's fraud against that of his creditors? And though it would have
been right in him to resist the villany of these Jews, he felt that it
was not fit that he should escape from their fangs altogether by his
father's deceit. He had not become so dead to honor but that _noblesse
oblige_ did still live within his bosom. And yet there was nothing that
he could do to absolve his bosom. The income of the estate was nearly
clear, the money brought in by the late sales having all but sufficed to
give these gentlemen that which his father had chosen to pay them. But
was he sure of that income? He had just now asserted boldly that he was
the legitimate heir to the property; but did he know that he was so?
Could he believe his father? Had not Mr. Grey asserted that he would not
accept this later evidence? Was he not sure that Augustus intended to
proceed against him? and was he not aware that nothing could be called
his own till that lawsuit should have been decided? If that should be
given against him, then these harpies would have been treated only too
well; then there would be no question, at any rate by him, as to what
_noblesse oblige_ might require of him. He could take no immediate step
in regard to them, and therefore, for the moment, drove that trouble
from his mind.
But what should he do with himself as to his future life? To be
persecuted and abused by these wretched men, as had this morning been
his fate, would be intolerable. Could he shut himself up from Mr. Samuel
Hart and still live in England? And then could he face the clubs,--if the
clubs would be kind enough to re-elect him? And then there came a dark
frown across his brow, as he bethought himself that even at this moment
his heart was longing to be once more among the cards. Could he not
escape to Monaco, and there be happy among the gambling-tables? Mr. Hart
would surely not follow him there, and he would be free from the
surveillance of that double blackguard, his brother's servant and his
But, after all, as he declared to himself, did it not altogether turn on
the final answer which he might get from Florence Mountjoy? Could
Florence be brought to accede to his wishes, he thought that he might
still live happily, respectably, and in such a manner that his name
might go down to posterity not altogether blasted. If Florence would
consent to live at Tretton, then could he remain there. He thought it
over as he stood there with his back to the fire, and he told himself
that with Florence the first year would be possible, and that after the
first year the struggle would cease to be a struggle. He knew himself,
he declared, and he made all manner of excuses for his former vicious
life, basing them all on the hardness of her treatment of him. He did
not know himself, and such assurances were vain. But buoyed up by such
assurances, he resolved that his future fate must be in her hands, and
that her word alone should suffice either to destroy him or to save him.
Thinking thus of his future life, he resolved that he would go at once
to Cheltenham, and throw himself, and what of Tretton belonged to him,
at the girl's feet. Nor could he endure himself to rest another night at
Tretton till he had done so. He started at once, and got late to
Gloucester, where he slept, and on the next morning at eleven o'clock
was at Cheltenham, out on his way to Montpellier Terrace. He at once
asked for Florence, but circumstances so arranged themselves that he
first found himself closeted with her mother. Mrs. Mountjoy was
delighted, and yet shocked, to see him. "My poor brother!" she said;
"and he was buried only yesterday!" Such explanation as Mountjoy could
give was given. He soon made the whole tenor of his thoughts
intelligible to her. "Yes; Tretton was his,--at least he supposed so. As
to his future life he could say nothing. It must depend on Florence. He
thought that if she would promise to become at once his wife, there
would be no more gambling. He had felt it to be incumbent on him to come
and tell her so."
Mrs. Mountjoy, frightened by the thorough blackness of his apparel and
by the sternness of his manner, had not a word to say to him in
opposition. "Be gentle with her," she said, as she led the way to the
room in which Florence was found. "Your cousin has come to see you," she
said; "has come immediately after the funeral. I hope you will be
gracious to him." Then she closed the door, and the two were alone
"Florence!" he said.
"Mountjoy! We hardly expected you here so soon."
"Where the heart strays the body is apt to follow. I could speak to no
one, I could do nothing, I could hope and pray for nothing till I had
"You cannot depend on me like that?" she answered.
"I do depend on you most entirely. No human being can depend more
thoroughly on another. It is not my fortune that I have come to offer
you, or simply my love, but in very truth my soul."
"Mountjoy, that is wicked!"
"Then wicked let it be. It is true. Tretton, by singular circumstances,
is all my own, free of debt. At any rate, I and others believe it to be
"Tretton being all your own can make no difference."
"I told you that I had not come to offer you my fortune." And he almost
scowled at her as he spoke. "You know what my career has hitherto been,
though you do not perhaps know what has driven me to it. Shall I go
back, and live after the same fashion, and let Tretton go to the dogs?
It will be so unless you take me and Tretton into your hands."
"It cannot be."
"Oh, Florence! think of it before you pronounce my doom."
"It cannot be. I love you well as my cousin, and for your sake I love
Tretton also. I would suffer much to save you, if any suffering on my
part would be of avail. But it cannot be in that fashion." Then he
scowled again at her. "Mountjoy, you frighten me by your hard looks;--but
though you were to kill me you cannot change me. I am the promised wife
of Harry Annesley; and for his honor I must bid you plead this cause no
more." Then, just at this moment there was a ring at the bell and a
knock at the door, each of them somewhat impetuous, and Florence
Mountjoy, jumping up with a start, knew that Harry Annesley was there.
HARRY ANNESLEY IS ACCEPTED.
She knew that Harry Annesley was at the door. He had written to say that
he must come again, though he had fixed no day for his coming. She had
been delighted to think that he should come, though she had after her
fashion, scolded him for the promised visit. But, though his comings had
not been frequent, she recognized already the sounds of his advent. When
a girl really loves her lover, the very atmosphere tells of his
whereabouts. She was expecting him with almost breathless expectation
when her cousin Mountjoy was brought to her; and so was her mother, who
had been told that Harry Annesley had business on which he intended to
call. But now the two foes must meet in her presence. That was the idea
which first came upon her. She was sure that Harry would behave well.
Why should not a favored lover on such occasions always behave well? But
how would Mountjoy conduct himself when brought face to face with his
rival? As Florence thought of it, she remembered that when last they met
the quarrel between them had been outrageous. And Mountjoy had been the
sinner, while Harry had been made to bear the punishment of the sin.
Harry, when he was told that Miss Mountjoy was at home, had at once
walked in and opened for himself the door of the front room downstairs.
There he found Florence and Mountjoy Scarborough. Mrs. Mountjoy was
still up-stairs in her bedroom, and was palpitating with fear as she
thought of the anger of the two combative lovers. To her belief, Harry
was, of the two, the most like to a roaring lion, because she had heard
of him that he had roared so dreadfully on that former occasion. But she
did not instantly go down, detained in her bedroom by the eagerness of
her fear, and by the necessity of resolving how she would behave when
she got there.
Harry, when he entered, stood a moment at the door, and then, hurrying
across the room, offered Scarborough his hand. "I have been so sorry,"
he said, "to hear of your loss; but your father's health was such that
you could not have expected that his life should be prolonged." Mountjoy
muttered something, but his mutterings, as Florence had observed, were
made in courtesy. And the two men had taken each other by the hand;
after that they could hardly fly at each other's throats in her
presence. Then Harry crossed to Florence and took her hand. "I never get
a line from you," he said, laughing, "but what you scold me. I think I
escape better when I am present; so here I am."
"You always make wicked propositions, and of course I scold you. A girl
has to go on scolding till she's married, and then it's her turn to get
"No wonder, then, that you talk of three years so glibly. I want to be
able to scold you."
All this was going on in Mountjoy's presence, while he stood by, silent,
black, and scowling. His position was very difficult,--that of hearing
the billing and cooing of these lovers. But theirs also was not too
easy, which made the billing and cooing necessary in his presence. Each
had to seem to be natural, but the billing and cooing were in truth
affected. Had he not been there, would they not have been in each
other's arms? and would not she have made him the proudest man in
England by a loving kiss? "I was asking Miss Mountjoy, when you came in,
to be my wife." This Scarborough said with a loud voice, looking Harry
full in the face.
"It cannot be," said Florence; "I told you that, for his honor,"--and she
laid her hand on Harry's arm,--"I could listen to no such request."
"The request has to be made again," he said.
"It will be made in vain," said Harry.
"So, no doubt, you think," said Captain Scarborough.
"You can ask herself," said Harry.
"Of course it will be made in vain," said Florence. "Does he think that
a girl, in such a matter as that of loving a man, can be turned here and
there at a moment's notice,--that she can say yes and no alternately to
two men? It is impossible. Harry Annesley has chosen me, and I am
infinitely happy in his choice." Here Harry made an attempt to get his
arm round her waist, in which, however, she prevented him, seeing the
angry passion rising in her cousin's eyes. "He is to be my husband, I
hope. I have told him that I love him, and I tell you so also. He has my
promise, and I cannot take it back without perjury to him, and ruin,
absolute ruin, to myself. All my happiness in this world depends on him.
He is to me my own one absolute master, to whom I have given myself
altogether, as far as this world goes. Even were he to reject me I could
not give myself to another."
"My Florence! my darling!" Harry exclaimed.
"After having told you so much, can you ask your cousin to be untrue to
her word and to her heart, and to become your wife when her heart is
utterly within his keeping? Mountjoy, it is impossible."
"What of me, then?" he said.
"Rouse yourself and love some other girl and marry her, and so do well
with yourself and with your property."
"You talk of your heart," he said, "and you bid me use my own after such
fashion as that!"
"A man's heart can be changed, but not a woman's. His love is but one
thing among many."
"It is the one thing," said Harry. Then the door opened, and Mrs.
Mountjoy entered the room.
"Oh dear! oh dear!" she said, "you, both of you, here together?"
"Yes: we are both here together," said Harry.
There was an unfortunate smile on his face as he said so, which made
Mountjoy Scarborough very angry. The two men were both handsome, two as
handsome men as you shall see on a summer's day. Mountjoy was
dark-visaged, with coal-black whiskers and mustaches, with sparkling,
angry eyes, and every feature of his face well cut and finely formed;
but there was absent from him all look of contentment or satisfaction.
Harry was light-haired, with long, silken beard, and bright eyes; but
there was usually present to his face a look of infinite joy, which was
comfortable to all beholders. If not strong, as was the other man's, it
was happy and eloquent of good temper. But in one thing they were
alike:--neither of them counted aught on his good looks. Mountjoy had
attempted to domineer by his bad temper, and had failed; but Harry,
without any attempt at domineering, always doubting of himself till he
had been assured of success by her lips, had succeeded. Now he was very
proud of his success; but he was proud of her, and not of himself.
"You come in here and boast of what you have done in my presence," said
"How can I not seem to boast when she tells me that she loves me?" said
"For God's sake, do not quarrel here!" said Mrs. Mountjoy.
"They shall not quarrel at all," said Florence, "There is no cause for
quarrelling. When a girl has given herself away there should be an end
of it. No man who knows that she has done so should speak to her again
in the way of love. I will leave you now; but, Harry, you must come
again, in order that I may tell you that you must not have it all your
own way, just as you please, sir." Then she gave him her hand, and
passing on at once to Mountjoy, tendered her hand to him also. "You are
my cousin, and the head now of my mother's family. I would fain know
that you would say a kind word to me, and bid me 'God speed.'"
He looked at her, but did not take her hand. "I cannot do it," he said.
"I cannot bid you 'God speed.' You have ruined me, trampled upon me,
destroyed me. I am not angry with him," and he pointed across the room
to Harry Annesley; "nor with you; but only with myself." Then, without
speaking a word to his aunt, he marched out of the room and left the
house, closing the front-door after him with a loud noise, which
testified to his anger.
"He has gone!" said Mrs. Mountjoy, with a tone of deep tragedy.
"It is better so," said Florence.
"A man must take his chance in such warfare as this," said Harry. "There
is something about Mountjoy Scarborough that, after all, I like. I do
not love Augustus, but, with certain faults, Mountjoy is a good fellow."
"He is the head of our family," said Mrs. Mountjoy, "and is the owner of
"That is nothing to do with it," said Florence.
"It has much to do with it," said her mother, "though you would never
listen to me. I had set my heart upon it, but you have determined to
thwart me. And yet there was a time when you preferred him to every one
"Never!" said Florence, with energy.
"Yes, you did,--before Mr. Annesley here came in the way."
"It was before I came, at any rate," said Harry.
"I was young, and I did not wish to be disobedient. But I never loved
him, and I never told him so. Now it is out of the question."
"He will never come back again," said Mrs. Mountjoy, mournfully.
"I should be very glad to see him back when I and Florence are man and
wife. I don't care how soon we should see him."
"No; he will never come back," said Florence,--"not as he came to-day.
That trouble is at last over, mamma."
"And my trouble is going to begin."
"Why should there be any trouble? Harry will not give you trouble;--will
"Never, I trust," said Harry.
"He cannot understand," said Mrs. Mountjoy; "he knows nothing of the
desire and ambition of my life. I had promised him my child, and my word
to him is now broken."
"He will have known, mamma, that you could not promise for me. Now go,
Harry, because we are flurried. May I not ask him to come here to-night
and to drink tea with us?" This she said, addressing her mother in a
tone of sweetest entreaty. To this Mrs. Mountjoy unwillingly yielded,
and then Harry also took his departure.
Florence was aware that she had gained much by the interview of the
morning. Even to her it began to appear unnecessary that she could keep
Harry waiting three years. She had spoken of postponing the time of her
servitude and of preserving for herself the masterdom of her own
condition. But in that respect the truth of her own desires was well
understood by them all. She was anxious enough to submit to her new
master, and she felt that the time was coming. Her mother had yielded so
much, and Mountjoy had yielded. Harry was saying to himself at this very
moment that Mountjoy had thrown up the sponge. She, too, was declaring
the same thing for her own comfort in less sporting phraseology, and,
what was much more to her, her mother had nearly thrown up the sponge
also. In the worse days of her troubles any suitor had made himself
welcome to her mother who would rescue her child from the fangs of that
roaring lion, Harry Annesley. Mr. Anderson had been received with open
arms, and even M. Grascour. Mrs. Mountjoy had then got it into her head
that of all lions which were about in those days Harry roared the
loudest. His sins in regard to leaving poor Mountjoy speechless and
motionless on the pavement had filled her with horror. But Florence now
felt that all that had come to an end. Not only had Mountjoy gone away,
but no mention would probably be ever again made of Anderson or
Grascour. When Florence was preparing herself for tea that evening she
sung a little song to herself as to the coming of the conquering hero.
"A man must take his chance in such warfare as this," she said,
repeating to herself her lover's words.
"You can't expect me to be very bright," her mother said to her before
There was a sign of yielding in this also; but Florence in her happiness
did not wish to make her mother miserable, "Why not be bright, mamma?
Don't you know that Harry is good?"
"No. How am I to know anything about him? He may be utterly penniless."
"But his uncle has offered to let us live in the house and to give us an
income. Mr. Prosper has abandoned all idea of getting married."
"He can be married any day. And why do you want to live in another man's
house when you may live in your own? Tretton is ready for you,--the
finest mansion in the whole county." Here Mrs. Mountjoy exaggerated a
little, but some exaggeration may be allowed to a lady in her
"Mamma, you know that I cannot live at Tretton."
"It is the house in which I was born."
"How can that signify? When such things happen they are used as
additional grounds for satisfaction. But I cannot marry your nephew
because you were born in a certain house. And all that is over now: you
know that Mountjoy will not come back again."
"He would," exclaimed the mother, as though with new hopes.
"Oh, mamma! how can you talk like that? I mean to marry Harry
Annesley;--you know that I do. Why not make your own girl happy by
accepting him?" Then Mrs. Mountjoy left the room and went to her own
chamber and cried there, not bitterly, I think, but copiously. Her girl
would be the wife of the squire of Buston, who, after all, was not a bad
sort of fellow. At any rate he would not gamble. There had always been
that terrible drawback. And he was a fellow of his college, in which she
would look for, and probably would find, some compensation as to
Tretton. When, therefore, she came down to tea, she was able to receive
Harry not with joy but at least without rebuke.
Conversation was at first somewhat flat between the two. If the old
lady could have been induced to remain up-stairs, Harry felt that the
evening would have been much more satisfactory. But, as it was, he found
himself enabled to make some progress. He at once began to address
Florence as his undoubted future spouse, very slyly using words adapted
for that purpose: and she, without any outburst of her intention,--as she
had made when discussing the matter with her cousin,--answered him in the
same spirit, and by degrees came so to talk as though the matter were
entirely settled. And then, at last, that future day was absolutely
brought on the tapis as though now to be named.
"Three years!" ejaculated Mrs. Mountjoy, as though not even yet
surrendering her last hope.
Florence, from the nature of the circumstances, received this in
silence. Had it been ten years she might have expostulated. But a young
lady's bashfulness was bound to appear satisfied with an assurance of
marriage within three years. But it was otherwise with Harry. "Good God,
Mrs. Mountjoy, we shall all be dead!" he cried out.
Mrs. Mountjoy showed by her countenance that she was extremely shocked.
"Oh, Harry!" said Florence, "none of us, I hope, will be dead in three
"I shall be a great deal too old to be married if I am left alive. Three
months, you mean. It will be just the proper time of year, which does go
for something. And three months is always supposed to be long enough to
allow a girl to get her new frocks."
"You know nothing about it, Harry," said Florence. And so the matter was
discussed--in such a manner that when Harry took his departure that
evening he was half inclined to sing a song of himself about the
conquering hero. "Dear mamma!" said Florence, kissing her mother with
all the warm, clinging affection of former years. It was very
pleasant,--but still Mrs. Mountjoy went to her room with a sad heart.
When there she sat for a while over the fire, and then drew out her
desk. She had been beaten,--absolutely beaten,--and it was necessary that
she should own so much in writing to one person. So she wrote her
letter, which was as follows:
"Dear Mountjoy,--After all it cannot be as I would have had it. As they
say, 'Man proposes, but God disposes.' I would have given her to you
now, and would even yet have trusted that you would have treated her
well, had it not been that Mr. Annesley has gained such a hold upon her
affections. She is wilful, as you are, and I cannot bend her. It has
been the longing of my heart that you two should live together at
Tretton. But such longings are, I think, wicked, and are seldom
"I write now just this one line to tell you that it is all settled. I
have not been strong enough to prevent such settling. He talks of three
months! But what does it matter? Three months or three years will be the
same to you, and nearly the same to me.
"Your affectionate aunt,
"P.S.--May I as your loving aunt add one word of passionate entreaty?
All Tretton is yours now, and the honor of Tretton is within your
keeping. Do not go back to those wretched tables!"
Mountjoy Scarborough when he received this letter cannot be said to have
been made unhappy by it, because he had already known all his
unhappiness. But he turned it in his mind as though to think what would
now be the best course of life open to him. And he did think that he had
better go back to those tables against which his aunt had warned him,
and there remain till he had made the acres of Tretton utterly
disappear. There was nothing for him which seemed to be better. And here
at home in England even that would at present be impossible to him. He
could not enter the clubs, and elsewhere Samuel Hart would be ever at
his heels. And there was his brother with his lawsuit, though on that
matter a compromise had already been offered to him. Augustus had
proposed to him by his lawyer to share Tretton. He would never share
Tretton. His brother should have an income secured to him, but he would
keep Tretton in his own hands,--as long as the gambling-tables would
He was, in truth, a wretched man, as on that night he did make up his
mind, and ringing his bell called his servant out of his bed to bid him
prepare everything for a sudden start. He would leave Tretton on the
following day, or on the day after, and intended at once to go abroad.
"He is off for that place nigh to Italy where they have the
gambling-tables," said the butler, on the following morning, to the
valet who declared his master's intentions.
"I shouldn't wonder, Mr. Stokes," said the valet. "I'm told it's a
beauteous country and I should like to see a little of that sort of
life myself." Alas, alas! Within a week from that time Captain
Scarborough might have been seen seated in the Monte Carlo room, without
any friendly Samuel Hart to stand over him and guard him.
THE LAST OF MR. GREY.
"I have put in my last appearance at the old chamber in Lincoln's Inn
Fields," said Mr. Grey, on arriving home one day early in June.
"Papa, you don't mean it!" said Dolly.
"I do. Why not one day as well as another? I have made up my mind that
it is to be so. I have been thinking of it for the last six weeks. It is
"But you have not told me."
"Well, yes; I have told you all that was necessary. It has come now a
little sudden, that is all."
"You will never go back again?"
"Well, I may look in. Mr. Barry will be lord and master."
"At any rate he won't be my lord and master!" said Dolly, showing by the
tone of her voice that the matter had been again discussed by them since
the last conversation which was recorded, and had been settled to her
"No;--you at least will be left to me. But the fact is, I cannot have any
farther dealings with the affairs of Mr. Scarborough. The old man who is
dead was too many for me. Though I call him old, he was ever so much
younger than I am. Barry says he was the best lawyer he ever knew. As
things go now a man has to be accounted a fool if he attempts to run
straight. Barry does not tell me that I have been a fool, but he clearly
"Do you care what Mr. Barry thinks or says?"
"Yes, I do,--in regard to the professional position which I hold. He is
confident that Mountjoy Scarborough is his father's eldest legitimate
son, and he believes that the old squire simply was anxious to supersede
him to get some cheap arrangement made as to his debts."
"I supposed that was the case before."
"But what am I to think of such a man? Mr. Barry speaks of him almost
with affection. How am I to get on with such a man as Mr. Barry?"
"He himself is honest."
"Well;--yes, I believe so. But he does not hate the absolute utter
roguery of our own client. And that is not quite all. When the story of
the Rummelsburg marriage was told I did not believe one word of it, and
I said so most strongly. I did not at first believe the story that there
had been no such marriage, and I swore to Mr. Scarborough that I would
protect Mountjoy and Mountjoy's creditors against any such scheme as
that which was intended. Then I was convinced. All the details of the
Nice marriage were laid before me. It was manifest that the lady had
submitted to be married in a public manner and with all regular forms,
while she had a baby, as it were, in her arms. And I got all the dates.
Taking that marriage for granted, Mountjoy was clearly illegitimate, and
I was driven so to confess. Then I took up arms on behalf of Augustus.
Augustus was a thoroughly bad fellow,--a bully and a tyrant; but he was
the eldest son. Then came the question of paying the debts. I thought
it a very good thing that the debts should be payed in the proposed
fashion. The men were all to get the money they had actually lent, and
no better arrangement seemed to be probable. I helped in that, feeling
that it was all right. But it was a swindle that I was made to assist
in. Of course it was a swindle, if the Rummelsburg marriage be true, and
all these creditors think that I have been a party to it. Then I swore
that I wouldn't believe the Rummelsburg marriage. But Barry and the rest
of them only shake their heads and laugh, and I am told that Mr.
Scarborough was the best lawyer among us!"
"What does it matter? How can that hurt you?" asked Dolly.
"It does hurt me;--that is the truth. I have been at my business long
enough. Another system has grown up which does not suit me. I feel that
they all can put their fingers in my eyes. It may be that I am a fool,
and that my idea of honesty is a mistake."
"No!" shouted Dolly.
"I heard of a rich American the other day who had been poor, and was
asked how he had suddenly become so well off. 'I found a partner,' said
the American, 'and we went into business together. He had the capital
and I had the experience. We just made a change. He has the experience
now and I have the capital.' When I knew that story I went to strip his
coat off the wretch's back; but Mr. Barry would give him a fine fur
cloak as a mark of respect. When I find that clever rascals are
respectable, I think it is time that I should give up work altogether."
Thus it was that Mr. Grey left the house of Grey & Barry, driven to
premature retirement by the vices, or rather frauds, of old Mr.
Scarborough. When Augustus went to work, which he did immediately on his
father's death, to wrest the property from the hands of his brother,--or
what part of the property might be possible,--Mr. Grey absolutely
declined to have anything to do with the case. Mr. Barry explained how
impossible it was that the house, even for its own sake, should
absolutely secede from all consideration of the question. Mountjoy had
been left in possession, and, according to all the evidence now before
them, was the true owner. Of course he would want a lawyer, and, as Mr.
Barry said, would be very well able to pay for what he wanted. It was
necessary that the firm should protect themselves against the
vindictiveness of Mr. Tyrrwhit and Samuel Hart. Should the firm fail to
do so, it would leave itself open to all manner of evil calumnies. The
firm had been so long employed on behalf of the Scarboroughs that now,
when the old squire was dead, it could not afford to relinquish the
business till this final great question had been settled. It was
necessary, as Mr. Barry said, that they should see it out, Mr. Barry
taking a much more leading part in these discussions than had been his
wont. Consequently Mr. Grey had told him that he might do it himself,
and Mr. Barry had been quite contented. Mr. Barry, in talking the matter
over with one of the clerks, whom he afterward took into partnership,
expressed his opinion that "poor old Grey was altogether off the hooks."
"Old Grey" had always been Mr. Grey when spoken of by Mr. Barry till
that day, and the clerk remarking this, left Mr. Grey's bell unanswered
for three or four minutes. Mr. Grey, though he was quite willing to
shelf himself, understood it all, and knocked them about in the chambers
that afternoon with unwonted severity. He said nothing about it when he
came home that evening: but the next day was the last on which he took
his accustomed chair.
"What will you do with yourself, papa?" Dolly said to him the next
"Do with myself?"
"What employment will you take in hand? One has to think of that, and to
live accordingly. If you would like to turn farmer, we must live in the
"Certainly I shall not do that. I need not absolutely throw away what
money I have saved."
"Or if you were fond of shooting or hunting?"
"You know very well I never shot a bird, and hardly ever crossed a horse
in my life."
"But you are fond of gardening."
"Haven't I got garden enough here?"
"Quite enough, if you think so; but will there be occupation sufficient
in that to find you employment for all your life?"
"I shall read."
"It seems to me," she said, "that reading becomes wearisome as an only
pursuit, unless you've made yourself accustomed to it."
"Sha'n't I have as much employment as you?"
"A woman is so different! Darning will get through an unlimited number
of hours. A new set of underclothing will occupy me for a fortnight.
Turning the big girl's dresses over there into frocks for the little
girls is sufficient to keep my mind in employment for a month. Then I
have the maid-servants to look after, and to guard against their lovers.
I have the dinners to provide, and to see that the cook does not give
the fragments to the policeman. I have been brought up to do these
things, and habit has made them usual occupations to me. I never envied
you when you had to encounter all Mr. Scarborough's vagaries; but I knew
that they sufficed to give you something to do."
"They have sufficed," said he, "to leave me without anything that I can
"You must not allow yourself to be so left. You must find out some
employment." Then they sat silent for a time, while Mr. Grey occupied
himself with some of the numerous papers which it would be necessary
that he should hand over to Mr. Barry. "And now," said Dolly, "Mr.
Carroll will have gone out, and I will go over to the Terrace. I have to
see them every day, and Mr. Carroll has the decency to take himself off
to some billiard-table so as to make room for me."
"What are they doing about that man?" said Mr. Grey.
"About the lover? Mr. Juniper has, I fancy, made himself extremely
disagreeable, not satisfying himself with abusing you and me, but poor
aunt as well, and all the girls. He has, I fancy, got some money of his
"He has had money paid to him by Captain Scarborough; but that I should
fancy would rather make him in a good humor than the reverse."
"He is only in a good humor, I take it, when he has something to get.
However, I must be off now, or the legitimate period of Uncle Carroll's
absence will be over."
Mr. Grey, when he was left alone, at once gave up the manipulation of
his papers, and, throwing himself back into his chair, began to think of
that future life of which he had talked so easily to his daughter. What
should he do with himself? He believed that he could manage with his
books for two hours a day; but even of that he was not sure. He much
doubted whether for many years past the time devoted to reading in his
own house had amounted to one hour a day. He thought that he could
employ himself in the garden for two hours; but that would fail him when
there should be hail, or fierce sunshine, or frost, or snow, or rain.
Eating and drinking would be much to him; but he could not but look
forward to self-reproach if eating and drinking were to be the joy of
his life. Then he thought of Dolly's life,--how much purer and better and
nobler it had been than his own. She talked in a slighting, careless
tone of her usual day's work, but how much of her time had been occupied
in doing the tasks of others? He knew well that she disliked the
Carrolls. She would speak of her own dislike of them as of her great
sin, of which it was necessary that she should repent in sackcloth and
But yet how she worked for the family! turning old dresses into new
frocks, as though the girls who had worn them, and the children who were
to wear them, had been to her her dearest friends. Every day she went
across to the house intent upon doing good offices; and this was the
repentance in sackcloth and ashes which she exacted from herself. Could
not he do as she did? He could not darn Minnie's and Brenda's stockings,
but he might do something to make those children more worthy of their
cousin's care. He could not associate with his brother-in-law, because
he was sure that Mr. Carroll would not endure his society; but he might
labor to do something for the reform even of this abominable man. Before
Dolly had come back to him he had resolved that he could only redeem his
life from the stagnation with which it was threatened by working for
others, now that the work of his own life had come to a close. "Well,
Dolly," he said, as soon as she had entered the room, "have you heard
any thing more about Mr. Juniper?"
"Have you been here ever since, papa?"
"Yes, indeed; I used to sit at chambers for six or seven hours at a
stretch, almost without getting out of my chair."
"And are you still employed about those awful papers?"
"I have not looked at them since you left the room."
"Then you must have been asleep."
"No, indeed; I have not been asleep. You left me too much to think of to
enable me to sleep. What am I to do with myself besides eating and
drinking, so that I shall not sleep always on this side of the grave?"
"There are twenty things, papa,--thirty, fifty, for a man so minded as
you are." This she said trying to comfort him.
"I must endeavor to find one or two of the fifty." Then he went back to
his papers, and really worked hard on that day.
On the following morning, early, he went across to Bolsover Terrace, to
begin his task of reproving the Carroll family, without saying a word to
Dolly indicative of his purpose.
He found that the task would be difficult, and as he went he considered
within his mind how best it might be accomplished. He had put a
prayer-book in his pocket, without giving it much thought; but before he
knocked at the door he had assured himself that the prayer-book would
not be of avail. He would not know how to begin to use it, and felt that
it would be ridiculed. He must leave that to Dolly or to the clergyman.
He could talk to the girls; but they would not care about the affairs of
the firm; and, in truth, he did not know what they would care about.
With Dolly he could hold sweet converse as long as she would remain with
him. But he had been present at the bringing up of Dolly, and did think
that gifts had been given to Dolly which had not fallen to the lot of
the Carroll girls. "They all want to be married," he said to himself,
"and that at any rate is a legitimate desire."
With this he knocked at the door, and when it was opened by Sophia, he
found an old gentleman with black cotton gloves and a doubtful white
cravat just preparing for his departure. There was Amelia, then giving
him his hat, and looking as pure and proper as though she had never been
winked at by Prince Chitakov. Then the mother came through from the
parlor into the passage. "Oh, John! how very kind of you to come. Mr.
Matterson, pray let me introduce you to my brother, Mr. Grey. John, this
is the Rev. Mr. Matterson, a clergyman who is a very intimate friend of
"Me, ma! Why me in particular?"
"Well, my dear, because it is so. I suppose it is so because Mr.
Patterson likes you the best."
"Laws, ma; what nonsense!" Mr. Matterson appeared to be a very shy
gentleman, and only anxious to escape from the hall-door. But Mr. Grey
remembered that in former days, before the coming of Mr. Juniper upon
the scene, he had heard of a clerical admirer. He had been told that the
gentleman's name was Matterson, that he was not very young nor very
rich, that he had five or six children, and that he could afford to
marry if the wife could bring with her about one hundred pounds a year.
He had not then thought much of Mr. Matterson, and no direct appeal had
been made to him. After that Mr. Juniper had come forward, and then Mr.
Juniper had been altogether abolished. But it occurred to Mr. Grey that
Mr. Matterson was at any rate better than Mr. Juniper; that he was by
profession a gentleman, and that there might be a beginning of those
good deeds by which he was anxious to make the evening of his days
bearable to himself.
"I am delighted to make Mr. Matterson's acquaintance," he said, as that
old gentleman scrambled out of the door.
Then his sister took him by the arm and led him at once into the parlor.
"You might as well come and hear what I have to say, Amelia." So the
daughter followed them in. "He is the most praiseworthy gentleman you
ever knew, John," began Mrs. Carroll.
"A clergyman, I think?"
"Oh yes; he is in orders,--in priest's orders," said Mrs. Carroll,
meaning to make the most of Mr. Matterson. "He has a church over at
"I am glad of that," said Mr. Grey.
"Yes, indeed; though it isn't very good, because it's only a curate's
one hundred and fifty pounds. Yes; he does have one hundred and fifty
pounds, and something out of the surplice fees."
"Another one hundred pounds I believe it is," said Amelia.
"Not quite so much as that, my dear, but it is something."
"He is a widower with children, I believe?" said Mr. Grey.
"There are children--five of them; the prettiest little dears one ever
saw. The eldest is just about thirteen." This was a fib, because Mrs.
Carroll knew that the eldest boy was sixteen; but what did it signify?
"Amelia is so warmly attached to them."
"It is a settled thing, then?"
"We hope so. It cannot be said to be quite settled, because there are
always money difficulties. Poor Mr. Matterson must have some increase to
his income before he can afford it."
"You did say something, uncle, about five hundred pounds," said Amelia.
"Four hundred and fifty, my dear," said Mr. Grey.
"Oh, I had forgotten. I did say that I hoped there would be five
"There shall be five hundred," said Mr. Grey, remembering that now had
come the time for doing to one of the Carroll family the good things of
which he had thought to himself. "As Mr. Matterson is a clergyman of
whom I have heard nothing but good, it shall be five hundred." He had in
truth heard nothing either good or bad respecting Mr. Matterson.
Then he asked Amelia to take a walk with him as he went home, reflecting
that now had come the time in which a little wholesome conversation
might have its effect. And an idea entered his head that in his old age
an acquaintance with a neighboring clergyman might be salutary to
himself. So Amelia got her bonnet and walked home with him.
"Is he an eloquent preacher, my dear?" But Amelia had never heard him
preach. "I suppose there will be plenty for you to do in your new home."
"I don't mean to be put upon, if you mean that, uncle."
"But five children!"
"There is a servant who looks after them. Of course I shall have to see
to Mr. Matterson's own things, but I have told him I cannot slave for
them all. The three eldest have to be sent somewhere; that has been
agreed upon. He has got an unmarried sister who can quite afford to do
as much as that." Then she explained her reasons for the marriage. "Papa
is getting quite unbearable, and Sophy spoils him in everything."
Poor Mr. Grey, when his niece turned and went back home, thought that,
as far as the girl was concerned, or her future household, there would
be very little room for employment for him. Mr. Matterson wanted an
upper servant who instead of demanding wages, would bring a little money
with her, and he could not but feel that the poor clergyman would find
that he had taken into his house a bad and expensive upper servant.
"Never mind, papa," said Dolly, "we will go on and persevere, and if we
intend to do good, good will come of it."
THE LAST OF AUGUSTUS SCARBOROUGH.
When old Mr. Scarborough was dead, and had been for a while buried,
Augustus made his application in form to Messrs. Grey & Barry. He made
it through his own attorney, and had now received Mr. Barry's answer
through the same attorney. The nature of the application had been in
this wise: that Mr. Augustus Scarborough had been put in to the position
of the eldest son; that he did not himself in the least doubt that such
was his true position; that close inquiry had been made at the time, and
that the lawyers, including Mr. Grey and Mr. Barry had assented to the
statements as then made by old Mr. Scarborough; that he himself had then
gone to work to pay his brother's debts, for the honor of the family,
and had paid them partly out of his own immediate pocket, and partly out
of the estate, which was the same as his own property; that during his
brother's "abeyance" he had assisted in his maintenance, and, on his
brother's return, had taken him to his own home; that then his father
had died, and that this incredible new story had been told. Mr. Augustus
Scarborough was in no way desirous of animadverting on his father's
memory, but was forced to repeat his belief that he was his father's
eldest son, and was, in fact, at that moment the legitimate owner of
Tretton, in accordance with the existing contract. He did not wish to
dispute his father's will, though his father's mental and bodily
condition at the time of the making of the will might, perhaps, enable
him to do so with success. The will might be allowed to pass valid, but
the rights of primogeniture must be held sacred.
Nevertheless, having his mother's memory in great honor, he felt himself
ill inclined to drag the family history before the public. For his
mother's sake he was open to a compromise. He would advise that the
whole property,--that which would pass under the entail, and that which
was intended to be left by will,--should be valued, and that the total
should then be divided between them. If his brother chose to take the
family mansion, it should be so. Augustus Scarborough had no desire to
set himself over his brother. But if this offer were not accepted, he
must at once go to law, and prove that their Nice marriage had been, in
fact, the one marriage by which his father and mother had been joined
together. There was another proviso added to this offer: as the
valuation and division of the property must take time, an income at the
rate of two hundred pounds a month should be allowed to Augustus till
such time as it should be completed. Such was the offer which Augustus
had authorized his attorney to make.
There was some delay in getting Mountjoy to consent to a reply. Before
the offer had reached Mr. Barry he was already at Monte Carlo, with that
ready money his father had left behind him. At every venture that he
made,--at least at every loss which he incurred,--he told himself that it
was altogether the doings of Florence Mountjoy. But he returned to
England, and consented to a reply. He was the eldest son, and meant to
support that position, both on his mother's behalf and on his own. As to
his father's will, made in his favor, he felt sure that his brother
would not have the hardihood to dispute it. A man's bodily sufferings
were no impediment to his making a will; of mental incapacity he had
never heard his father accused till the accusation had now been made by
his own son. He was, however, well aware that it would not be preferred.
As to what his brother had done for himself, it was hardly worth his
while to answer such an allegation. His memory carried him but little
farther back than the day on which his brother turned him out of his
There were, however, many reasons,--and this was put in at the suggestion
of Mr. Barry,--why he would not wish that his brother should be left
penniless. If his brother would be willing to withdraw altogether from
any lawsuit, and would lend his co-operation to a speedy arrangement of
the family matters, a thousand a year,--or twenty-five thousand
pounds,--should be made over to him as a younger brother's portion. To
this offer it would be necessary that a speedy reply should be given,
and, under such circumstances, no temporary income need be supplied.
It was early in June when Augustus was sitting in his luxurious lodgings
in Victoria Street, contemplating this reply. His own lawyer had advised
him to accept the offer, but he had declared to himself a dozen times
since his father's death that, in this matter of the property, he would
"either make a spoon or spoil a horn." And the lawyer was no friend of
his own,--was not a man who knew nothing of the facts of the case beyond
what were told him, and nothing of the working of his client's mind.
Augustus had looked to him only for the law in the matter, and the
lawyer had declared the law to be against his client. "All that your
father said about the Nice marriage will go for nothing. It will be
shown that he had an object."
"But there certainly was such a marriage."
"No doubt there was some ceremony--performed with an object. A second
marriage cannot invalidate the first, though it may itself be altogether
invalidated. The Rummelsburg marriage is, and will be, an established
fact, and of the Rummelsburg marriage your brother was no doubt the
issue. Accept the offer of an income. Of course we can come to terms as
to the amount; and from your brother's character it is probable enough
that he may increase it." Such had been his lawyer's advice, and
Augustus was sitting there in his lodging thinking of it.
He was not a happy man as he sat there. In the first first place he owed
a little money, and the debt had come upon him chiefly from his lavish
expenditure in maintaining Mountjoy and Mountjoy's servant upon their
travels. At that time he had thought that by lavish expenditure he might
make Tretton certainly his own. He had not known his brother's
character, and had thought that by such means he could keep him down,
with his head well under water. His brother might drink,--take to
drinking regularly at Monte Carlo or some other place,--and might so die.
Or he would surely gamble himself into farther and utter ruin. At any
rate he would be well out of the way, and Augustus in his pride had been
glad to feel that he had his brother well under his thumb. Then the debt
had been paid with the object of saving the estate from litigation on
the part of the creditors. That had been his one great mistake. And he
had not known his father, or his father's guile, or his father's
strength. Why had not his father died at once?--as all the world had
assured him would be the case. Looking back he could remember that the
idea of paying the creditors had at first come from his father, simply
as a vague idea! Oh, what a crafty rascal his father had been! And then
he had allowed himself, in his pride, to insult his father, and had
spoken of his father's coming death as a thing that was desirable! From
that moment his father had plotted his ruin. He could see it all now.
He was still minded to make the spoon; but he found that he should spoil
the horn. Had there been any one to assist him he would still have
persevered. He thought that he could have persevered with a lawyer who
would really have taken up his case with interest. If Mountjoy could be
made to drink--so as to die! He was still next in the entail; and he was
his brother's heir should his brother die without a will. But so he
would be if he took the twenty-five thousand pounds. But to accept so
poor a modicum would go frightfully against the grain with him. He
seemed to think that by taking the allowance he would bring back his
brother to all the long-lived decencies of life. He would have to
surrender altogether that feeling of conscious superiority which had
been so much to him. "D----n the fellow!" he exclaimed to himself. "I
should not wonder if he were in that fellow's pay." The first "fellow"
here was the lawyer, and the second was his brother.
When he had sat there alone for half an hour he could not make up his
mind. When all his debts were paid he would not have much above
twenty-five thousand pounds. His father had absolutely extracted five
thousand pounds from him toward paying his brother's debts! The money
had been wanted immediately. Together with the sum coming from the new
purchasers, father and son must each subscribe five thousand pounds to
pay those Jews. So it had been represented to him, and he had borrowed
the money to carry out his object. Had ever any one been so swindled, so
cruelly treated! This might probably be explained, and the five thousand
pounds might be added to the twenty-five thousand pounds. But the
explanation would be necessary, and all his pride would rebel against
it. On that night when by chance he had come across his brother,
bleeding and still half drunk, as he was about to enter his lodging, how
completely under his thumb he had been! And now he was offering him of
his bounty this wretched pittance! Then with half-muttered curses he
execrated the names of his father, his brother, of Grey, and of Barry,
and of his own lawyer.
At that moment the door was opened and his bosom friend, Septimus Jones,
entered the room. At any rate this friend was the nearest he had to his
bosom. He was a man without friends in the true sense. There was no one
who knew the innermost wishes of his heart, the secret desires of his
soul. There are thus so many who can divulge to none those secret
wishes! And how can such a one have a friend who can advise him as to
what he shall do? Scarcely can the honest man have such a friend,
because it is so difficult for him to find a man who will believe in
him. Augustus had no desire for such a friend, but he did desire some
one who would do his bidding as though he were such a friend. He wanted
a friend who would listen to his words, and act as though they were the
truth. Mr. Septimus Jones was the man he had chosen, but he did not in
the least believe in Mr. Septimus Jones himself. "What does that man
say?" asked Septimus Jones. The man was the lawyer of whom Augustus was
now thinking, at this very moment, all manner of evil.
"D----n him!" said Augustus.
"With all my heart. But what does he say? As you are to pay him for what
he says, it is worth while listening to it."
There was a tone in the voice of Septimus Jones which declared at once
some diminution of his usual respect. So it sounded, at least, to
Augustus. He was no longer the assured heir of Tretton, and in this way
he was to be told of the failure of his golden hopes. It would be odd,
he thought, if he could not still hold his dominion over Septimus Jones.
"I am not at all sure that I shall listen to him or to you either."
"As for that, you can do as you like."
"Of course I can do as I like." Then he remembered that he must still
use the man as a messenger, if in no other capacity. "Of course he wants
to compromise it. A lawyer always proposes a compromise. He cannot be
beat that way, and it is safe for him."
"You had agreed to that."
"But what are the terms to be?--that is the question. I made my
offer:--half and half. Nothing fairer can be imagined,--unless, indeed, I
choose to stand out for the whole property."