Part 12 out of 12
"But what does your brother say?"
He could not use his friend even as a messenger without telling him
something of the truth. "When I think of it, of this injustice, I can
hardly hold myself. He proposes to give me twenty-five thousand pounds."
"Twenty-five thousand pounds!--for everything?"
"Everything; yes. What the devil do you suppose I mean? Now just listen
to me." Then he told his tale as he thought that it ought to be told. He
recapitulated all the money he had spent on his brother's behalf, and
all that he chose to say that he had spent. He painted in glowing colors
the position in which he would have been put by the Nice marriage. He
was both angry and pathetic about the creditors. And he tore his hair
almost with vexation at the treatment to which he was subjected.
"I think I'd take the twenty-five thousand pounds," said Jones.
"Never! I'd rather starve first!"
"That's about what you'll have to do if all that you tell me is true."
There was again that tone of disappearing subjection. "I'll be shot if I
wouldn't take the money." Then there was a pause. "Couldn't you do that
and go to law with him afterward? That was what your father would have
done." Yes; but Augustus had to acknowledge that he was not as clever as
At last he gave Jones a commission. Jones was to see his brother and to
explain to him that, before any question could be raised as to the
amount to be paid under the compromise, a sum of ten thousand pounds
must be handed to Augustus to reimburse him for money out of pocket.
Then Jones was to say, as out of his own head, that he thought that
Augustus might probably accept fifty thousand pounds in lieu of
twenty-five thousand pounds. That would still leave the bulk of the
property to Mountjoy, although Mountjoy must be aware of the great
difficulties which would be thrown in his way by his father's conduct.
But Jones had to come back the next day with an intimation that Mountjoy
had again gone abroad, leaving full authority with Mr. Barry.
Jones was sent to Mr. Barry, but without effect. Mr. Barry would discuss
the matter with the lawyer, or, if Augustus was so pleased, with
himself; but he was sure that no good would be done by any conversation
with Mr. Jones. A month went on--two months went by--and nothing came of
it. "It is no use your coming here, Mr. Scarborough," at last Mr. Barry
said to him with but scant courtesy. "We are perfectly sure of our
ground. There is not a penny due you;--not a penny. If you will sign
certain documents, which I would advise you to do in the presence of
your own lawyer, there will be twenty-five thousand pounds for you. You
must excuse me if I say that I cannot see you again on the
subject,--unless you accept your brother's liberality."
At this time, Augustus was very short of money and, as is always the
case, those to whom he owed aught became pressing as his readiness to
pay them gradually receded. But to be so spoken to by a lawyer,--he,
Scarborough of Tretton, as he had all but been,--to be so addressed by a
man whom he had regarded as old Grey's clerk, was bitter indeed. He had
been so exalted by that Nice marriage, had been so lifted high in the
world, that he was now absolutely prostrate. He quarrelled with his
lawyer, and he quarrelled also with Septimus Jones. There was no one
with whom he could discuss the matter, or rather no one who would
discuss it with him on his terms. So at last he accepted the money, and
went daily into the City in order that he might turn it into more. What
became of him in the City it is hardly the province of this chronicle to
THE LAST OF FLORENCE MOUNTJOY.
Now at last in this chapter has to be told the fate of Florence
Mountjoy, as far as it can be told in these pages. It was, at any rate,
her peculiarity to attach to herself, by bonds which could not easily be
severed, those who had once thought that they might be able to win her
love. An attempt has been made to show how firm and determined were the
affections of Harry Annesley, and how absolutely he trusted in her word
when once it had been given to him. He had seemed to think that when she
had even nodded to him, in answer to his assertion that he desired her
to be his wife, all his trouble as regarded her heart had been off his
There might be infinite trouble as to time,--as to ten years, three
years, or even one year; trouble in inducing her to promise that she
would become his wife in opposition to her mother; but he had felt sure
that she never would be the wife of any one else. How he had at last
succeeded in mitigating the opposition of her mother, so as to make the
three years, or even the one year, appear to himself an altogether
impossible delay, the reader knows. How he at last contrived to have his
own way altogether, so that, as Florence told him, she was merely a ball
in his hand, the reader will have to know very shortly. But not a shade
of doubt had ever clouded Harry's mind as to his eventual success since
she had nodded to him at Mrs. Armitage's ball. Though this girl's love
had been so grand a thing to have achieved, he was quite sure from that
moment that it would be his forever.
With Mountjoy Scarborough there had never come such a moment, and never
could; yet he had been very confident, so that he had lived on the
assurance that such a moment would come. And the self-deportment natural
to her had been such that he had shown his assurance. He never would
have succeeded; but he should not the less love her sincerely. And when
the time came for him to think what he should do with himself, those few
days after his father's death, he turned to her as his one prospect of
salvation. If his cousin Florence would be good to him all might yet be
well. He had come by that time to lose his assurance. He had recognized
Harry Annesley as his enemy, as has been told often enough in these
pages. Harry was to him a hateful stumbling-block. And he had not been
quite as sure of her fidelity to another as Harry had been sure of it to
himself. Tretton might prevail. Trettons do so often prevail. And the
girl's mother was all on his side. So he had gone to Cheltenham, true as
the needle to the pole, to try his luck yet once again. He had gone to
Cheltenham, and there he found Harry Annesley. All hopes for him were
then over and he started at once for Monaco; or, as he himself told
himself, for the devil.
Among the lovers of Florence some memory may attach itself to poor Hugh
Anderson. He too had been absolutely true to Florence. From the hour in
which he had first conceived the idea that she would make him happy as
his wife, it had gone on growing upon him with all the weight of love,
He did not quite understand why he should have loved her so dearly, but
thus it was. Such a Mrs. Hugh Anderson, with a pair of horses on the
boulevards, was to his imagination the most lovely sight which could be
painted. Then Florence took the mode of disabusing him which has been
told, and Hugh Anderson gave the required promise. Alas, in what an
unfortunate moment had he done so! Such was his own thought. For though
he was sure of his own attachment to her, he could not mount high enough
to be as sure of her to somebody else. It was a "sort of thing a man
oughtn't to have been asked to promise," he said to the third secretary.
And having so determined, he made up his mind to follow her to England
and to try his fortune once again.
Florence had just wished Harry good-bye for the day, or rather for the
week. She cared for nothing now in the way of protestations of
affection. "Come Harry--there now--don't be so unreasonable. Am not I
just as impatient as you are? This day fortnight you will be back, and
"Then there will be some peace, won't there? But mind you write every
day." And so Harry was whisked away, as triumphant a man as ever left
Cheltenham by the London train. On the following morning Hugh Anderson
reached Cheltenham and appeared in Montpellier Place.
"My daughter is at home, certainly," said Mrs. Mountjoy. There was
something in the tone which made the young man at once assure himself
that he had better go back to Brussels. He had even been a favorite with
Mrs. Mountjoy. In his days of love-making poor Mountjoy had been absent,
declared no longer to have a chance of Tretton, and Harry had been--the
very evil one himself. Mrs. Mountjoy had been assured by the Brussels
Mountjoy that, with the view of getting well rid of the evil one, she
had better take poor Anderson to her bosom. She had opened her bosom
accordingly, but with very poor results. And now he had come to look
after what result there might be. Mrs. Mountjoy felt that he had better
go back to Brussels.
"Could I not see her?" asked Anderson.
"Well, yes; you could see her."
"Mrs. Mountjoy, I'll tell you everything, just as though you were my own
mother. I have loved your daughter;--oh, I don't know how it is! If she'd
be my wife for two years, I don't think I'd mind dying afterward."
"Oh, Mr. Anderson!"
"I wouldn't. I never heard of a case where a girl had got such a hold of
a man as she has of me."
"You don't mean to say that she has behaved badly?"
"Oh no! She couldn't behave badly;--it isn't in her. But she can bowl a
fellow over in the most--well, most desperate manner. As for me, I'm not
worth my salt since I first saw her. When I go to ride with the governor
I haven't a word to say to him," But this ended in Mrs. Mountjoy going
and promising that she would send Florence down in her place. She knew
that it would be in vain; but to a young man who had behaved so well as
Mr. Anderson so much could not be refused. "Here I am again," he said,
very much like Punch in the pantomime.
"Oh, Mr. Anderson! how do you do?"
A lover who is anxious to prevail with a lady should always hold up his
head. Where is the writer of novels, or of human nature, who does not
know as much as that? And yet the man who is in love, truly in love,
never does hold up his head very high. It is the man who is not in love
who does so. Nevertheless it does sometimes happen that the true lover
obtains his reward. In this case it was not observed to be so. But now
Mr. Anderson was sure of his fate, so that there was no encouragement to
him to make any attempt at holding up his head. "I have come once more
to see you," he said.
"I am sure it gives mamma so much pleasure."
"Mrs. Mountjoy is very kind. But it hasn't been for her. The truth is, I
couldn't settle down in this world without having another interview."
"What am I to say, Mr. Anderson?"
"I'll just tell you how it all is. You know what my prospects are." She
did not quite remember, but she bowed to him. "You must know, because I
told you. There is nothing I kept concealed." Again she bowed. "There
can be no possible family reason for my going to Kamtchatka."
"Yes, indeed;--the F.O." (The F.O. always meant the Foreign Office.) "The
F.O. wants a young man on whom it can thoroughly depend to go to
Kamtchatka. The allowances are handsome enough, but the allowances are
nothing to me."
"Why should you go?"
"It is for you to decide. Yes, you can detain me. If I go to that bleak
and barren desert, it will merely be to court exile from that quarter of
the globe in which you and I would have to live together and not
separate. That I cannot stand. In Kamtchatka--Well, there is no knowing
what may happen to me then."
"But I'm engaged to be married to Mr. Annesley."
"You told me something of that before."
"But it's all fixed. Mamma will tell you. It's to be this day fortnight.
If you'd only stay and come as one of my friends."
Surely such a proposition as this is the unkindest that any young lady
can make; but we believe that it is made not unfrequently. In the
present case it received no reply.
Mr. Anderson took up his hat and rushed to the door. Then he returned
for a moment. "God bless you, Miss Mountjoy!" he said. "In spite of the
cruelty of that suggestion, I must bid God bless you." And then he was
gone. About a week afterward M. Grascour appeared upon the scene with
precisely the same intention. He, too, retained in his memory a most
vivid recollection of the young lady and her charms. He had heard that
Captain Scarborough had inherited Tretton, and had been informed that it
was not probable that Miss Florence Mountjoy would marry her cousin. He
was somewhat confused in his ideas, and thought, that were he now to
re-appear on the scene there might still be a chance for him. There was
no lover more unlike Mr. Anderson than M. Grascour. Not even for
Florence Mountjoy, not even to own her, would he go to Kamtchatka; and
were he not to see her he would simply go back to Brussels. And yet he
loved her as well as he knew how to love any one, and, would she have
become his wife, would have treated her admirably. He had looked at it
all round, and could see no reason why he should not marry her. Like a
persevering man, he persevered; but as he did so, no glimmering of an
idea of Kamtchatka disturbed him.
But from this farther trouble Mrs. Mountjoy was able to save her
daughter. M. Grascour made his way into Mrs. Mountjoy's presence, and
there declared his purpose. He had been sent over on some question
connected with the literature of commerce, and had ventured to take the
opportunity of coming down to Cheltenham. He hoped that the truth of his
affection would be evinced by the journey. Mrs. Mountjoy had observed,
while he was making his little speech, how extremely well brushed was
his hat. She had observed, also, that poor Mr. Anderson's hat was in
such a condition as almost to make her try to smooth it down for him.
"If you make objection to my hat, you should brush it yourself," she had
heard Harry say to Florence, and Florence had taken the hat, and had
brushed it with fond, lingering touches.
"M. Grascour, I can assure you that she is really engaged," Mrs.
Mountjoy had said. M. Grascour bowed and sighed. "She is to be married
this day week."
"To Mr. Harry Annesley."
"Oh-h-h! I remember the gentleman's name. I had thought--"
"Well, yes; there were objections, but they have luckily disappeared."
Though Mrs. Mountjoy was only as yet happy in a melancholy manner,
rejoicing with but bated joy at her girl's joys, she was too loyal to
say a word now against Harry Annesley.
"I should not have troubled you, but--"
"I am sure of that, M. Grascour; and we are both of us grateful to you
for your good opinion. I know very well how high is the honor which you
are doing Florence, and she will quite understand it. But you see the
thing is fixed; it's only a week." Florence was said, at the moment, to
be not at home, though she was up-stairs, looking at four dozen new
pocket-handkerchiefs which had just come from the pocket-handkerchief
merchant, with the letters F.A. upon them. She had much more pleasure in
looking at them than she would have had in listening to the
congratulations of M. Grascour.
"He's a very good man, no doubt, mamma; a deal better, perhaps, than
Harry." That, however, was not her true opinion. "But one can't marry
all the good men."
There was almost more trouble taken down at Buston about Harry's
marriage than his sister's, though Harry was to be married at
Cheltenham; and only his father, and one of his sisters as a bride's
maid, were to go down to assist upon the occasion. His father was to
marry them. And his mother had at last consented to postpone the joy of
seeing Florence till she was brought home from her travels, a bride
three months old. Nevertheless, a great fuss was made, especially at
Buston Hall. Mr. Prosper had become comparatively light in heart since
the duty of providing a wife for Buston, and a future mother for
Buston's heirs, had been taken off his shoulders and thrown upon those
of his nephew. The more he looked back upon the days of his own
courtship the more did his own deliverance appear to him to be almost a
work of Heaven. Where would he have been had Miss Thoroughbung made good
her footing in Buston Hall? He used to shut his eyes and gently raise
his left hand toward the skies as he told himself that this evil thing
had passed by him.
But it had passed by, and it was expected that there should be a lunch
of some sort at Buston; and as, with all his diligent inquiry, he had
heard nothing but good of Florence, she should be received with as
hearty a welcome as he could give her. There was one point which
troubled him more than all others. He was determined to refurnish the
drawing-room and also the bedroom in which Florence was destined to
sleep. He told his sister in the most solemn manner that he had at last
made up his mind thoroughly. The thing should be done. She understood
how great a thing it was for him to do. "The two centre rooms!" he said,
with an almost tragic air. Then he sent for her the next day, and told
her that, on farther considerations, he had determined to add in the
The whole parish felt the effect. It was not so much that the parish was
struck by the expenditure proposed,--because the squire was known to be a
man who had not for years spent all his income,--but that he had given
way so far on behalf of a nephew whom he had lately been so anxious to
disinherit. Rumor had already reached Buntingford of what the squire had
intended to do on the receipt of his own wife,--rumors which had of
course since faded away into nothing. It had been positively notified to
Buntingford that there should be really a new carpet and new curtains in
the drawing-room. Miss Thoroughbung had been known to have declared at
the brewery that the whole thing should be done before she had been
there twelve months.
"He shall go the whole hog," she had said. And there had been a little
bet about it between her and her brother, who entertained an idea that
Mr. Prosper was an obstinate man. And Joe had brought tidings of the bet
to the parsonage, so that there had been much commotion on the subject.
When the best room had been included, and then the dressing-room, even
Matthew had been alarmed. "It'll come to as much as five hundred
pounds!" he had whispered to Mrs. Annesley. Matthew seemed to think that
it was quite time that there should be somebody to control his master.
"Why, ma'am, it's only the other day, because I can remember it myself,
when that loo-table came into the house new!" Matthew had been in the
place over twenty years. When Mrs. Annesley reminded him that fashions
were changed, and that other kinds of table were required, he only shook
But there was a question more vital than that of expense. How was the
new furniture to be chosen? The first idea was that Florence should be
invited to spend a week at her future home, and go up and down to London
with either Mrs. Annesley or her brother, and select the furniture
herself. But there were reasons against this. Mr. Prosper would like to
surprise her by the munificence of what he did. And the suggestion of
one day was sure to wane before the stronger lights of the next. Mr.
Prosper, though he intended to be munificent, was still a little afraid
that it should be thrown away as a thing of course, or that it should
appear to have been Harry's work. That would be manifestly unjust. "I
think I had better do it myself," he said to his sister.
"Perhaps I could help you, Peter." He shuddered; but it was at the
memory of the sound of the word "Peter," as it had been blurted out for
his express annoyance by Miss Thoroughbung. "I wouldn't mind going up to
London with you." He shook his head, demanding still more time for
deliberation. Were he to accept his sister's offer he would be bound by
his acceptance. "It's the last drawing-room carpet I shall ever buy," he
said to himself, with true melancholy, as he walked back home across the
Then there had been the other grand question of the journey, or not,
down to Cheltenham. In a good-natured way Harry had told him that the
wedding would be no wedding without his presence. That had moved him
considerably. It was very desirable that the wedding should be more than
a merely legal wedding. The world ought to be made aware that the heir
to Buston had been married in the presence of the Squire of Buston. But
the journey was a tremendous difficulty. If he could have gone from
Buston direct to Cheltenham it would have been comparatively easy. But
he must pass through London, and to do this must travel the whole way
between the Northern and Western railway-stations. And the trains would
not fit. He studied his Bradshaw for an entire morning and found that
they would not fit. "Where am I to spend the hour and a quarter?" he
asked his sister, mournfully. "And there would be four journeys, going
and coming,--four separate journeys!" And these would be irrespective of
numerous carriages and cabs. It was absolutely impossible that he should
be present in the flesh on that happy day at Cheltenham. He was left at
home for three months,--July, August, and September,--in which to buy the
furniture; which, however, was at last procured by Mr. Annesley.
The marriage, as far as the wedding was concerned, was not nearly as
good fun as that of Joe and Molly. There was no Mr. Crabtree there, and
no Miss Thoroughbung. And Mrs. Mountjoy, though she meant to do it all
as well as it could be done, was still joyous only with bated joy. Some
tinge of melancholy still clung to her. She had for so many years
thought of her nephew as the husband destined for her girl, that she
could not be as yet demonstrative in her appreciation of Harry Annesley.
"I have no doubt we shall come to be true friends, Mr. Annesley," she
had said to him.
"Don't call me Mr. Annesley."
"No, I won't, when you come back again and I am used to you. But at
present there--there is a something--"
"A regret, perhaps?"
"Well, not quite a regret. I am an old-fashioned person, and I can't
change my manners all at once. You know what it was that I used to
"Oh yes. But Florence was very stupid, and would have a different
"Of course I am happy now. Her happiness is all the world to me. And
things have undergone a change."
"That's true. Mr. Prosper has made over the marrying business to me, and
I mean to go through it like a man. Only you must call me Harry." This
she promised to do, and did, in the seclusion of her room, give him a
kiss. But still her joy was not loud, and the hilarity of her guests was
moderated. Mr. Armstrong did his best, and the bride's maid's dresses
were pretty,--which is all that is required of a bride's maid. Then at
last the father's carriage came, and they were carried away to
Gloucester, where they were committed to the untender, commonplace, but
much more comfortable mercies of the railway-carriage. There we will
part with them, and encounter them again but for a few moments as, after
a long day's ramble, they made their way back to a solitary but
comfortable hotel among the Bernese Alps. Florence was on a pony, which
Harry had insisted on hiring for her, though Florence had declared
herself able to walk the whole way. It had been very hot, and she was
probably glad of the pony. They both had alpenstocks in their hands, and
on the pommel of her saddle hung the light jacket with which he had
started, and which had not been so light but that he had been glad to
ease himself of the weight. The guide was lagging behind, and they two
were close together. "Well, old girl!" he said, "and now what do you
think of it all?"
"I'm not so very much older than I was when you took me, pet."
"Oh, yes, you are. Half of your life has gone; you have settled down
into the cares and duties of married life, none of which had been so
much as thought of when I took you."
"Not thought of! They have been on my mind ever since that night at Mrs.
"Only in a romantic and therefore untrue sort of manner. Since that time
you have always thought of me with a white choker and dress-boots."
"Don't flatter yourself; I never looked at your boots."
"You knew that they were the boots and the clothes of a man making love,
didn't you? I don't care personally very much about my own boots: I
never shall care about another pair; but I should care about them--any
thing that might give me the slightest assistance."
"Nothing was wanted; it had all been done, Harry."
"My pet! But still a pair of high-lows heavy with nails would not have
been efficacious then. I should think I love him, you might have said to
yourself, but he is such an awkward fellow."
"It had gone much beyond that at Mrs. Armitage's."
"But now you have to take my high-lows as part of your duty."
"When a man loves a woman he falls in love with everything belonging to
her. You don't wear high-lows. Everything you possess as specially your
own has to administer to my sense of love and beauty."
"I wish--I wish it might be so."
"There is no danger about that at all. But I have to come before you on
an occasion such as this as a kind of navvy,--and you must accept me."
She glanced around furtively to see whether their guide was looking, but
the guide had gone back out of sight. For, sitting on her pony, she had
her arm around his neck and kissed him. "And then there is ever so much
more," he continued. "I don't think I snore?"
"Indeed, no! There isn't a sound comes from you. I sometimes look to see
if I think you are alive."
"But if I do, you'll have to put up with it. That would be one of your
duties as a wife. You never could have thought of that when I had those
"Of course I didn't. How can you talk such rubbish?"
"I don't know whether it is rubbish. Those are the kind of things that
must fall upon a woman so heavily. Suppose I were to beat you?"
"Yes;--hit you over the head with this stick!"
"I am sure you would not do that."
"So am I. But suppose I were to? Your mother must be told of my leaving
that poor man bloody and speechless. What if I were to carry out my
usual habits as then shown? Take care, my darling, or that brute'll
throw you!" This he said as the pony stumbled over a stone.
"Almost as unlikely as you are. One has to risk dangers in the world,
but one makes the risk as little as possible. I know they won't give me
a pony that will tumble down; and I know that I've told you to look to
see that they don't. You chose the pony, but I had to choose you. I
don't know very much about ponies, but I do know something about a
lover, and I know that I have got one that will suit me."