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New Grub Street by George Gissing

Part 7 out of 13

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How familiar it all was to him! And not unpleasant, for it
brought back the days when he had worked to such good purpose. It
was like a restoration of youth.

Of Amy he would not think. Knowing his bitter misery, she could
write to him in cold, hard words, without a touch even of womanly
feeling. If ever they were to meet again, the advance must be
from her side. He had no more tenderness for her until she strove
to revive it.

Next morning he called at the hospital to see Carter. The
secretary's peculiar look and smile seemed to betray a knowledge
of what had been going on since Sunday, and his first words
confirmed this impression of Reardon's.

'You have removed, I hear?'

'Yes; I had better give you my new address.'

Reardon's tone was meant to signify that further remark on the
subject would be unwelcome. Musingly, Carter made a note of the

'You still wish to go on with this affair?'


'Come and have some lunch with me, then, and afterwards we'll go
to the City Road and talk things over on the spot.'

The vivacious young man was not quite so genial as of wont, but
he evidently strove to show that the renewal of their relations
as employer and clerk would make no difference in the friendly
intercourse which had since been established; the invitation to
lunch evidently had this purpose.

'I suppose,' said Carter, when they were seated in a restaurant,
'you wouldn't object to anything better, if a chance turned up?'

'I should take it, to be sure.'

'But you don't want a job that would occupy all your time? You're
going on with writing, of course?'

'Not for the present, I think.'

'Then you would like me to keep a look-out? I haven't anything in
view--nothing whatever. But one hears of things sometimes.'

'I should be obliged to you if you could help me to anything

Having brought himself to this admission, Reardon felt more at
ease. To what purpose should he keep up transparent pretences? It
was manifestly his duty to earn as much money as he could, in
whatever way. Let the man of letters be forgotten; he was seeking
for remunerative employment, just as if he had never written a

Amy did not return the ten pounds, and did not write again. So,
presumably, she would accept the moiety of his earnings; he was
glad of it. After paying half-a-crown for rent, there would be
left ten shillings. Something like three pounds that still
remained to him he would not reckon; this must be for casualties.

Half-a-sovereign was enough for his needs; in the old times he
had counted it a competency which put his mind quite at rest.

The day came, and he entered upon his duties in City Road. It
needed but an hour or two, and all the intervening time was
cancelled; he was back once more in the days of no reputation, a
harmless clerk, a decent wage-earner.


It was more than a fortnight after Reardon's removal to Islington
when Jasper Milvain heard for the first time of what had
happened. He was coming down from the office of the
Will-o'-the-Wisp one afternoon, after a talk with the editor
concerning a paragraph in his last week's causerie which had been
complained of as libellous, and which would probably lead to the
'case' so much desired by everyone connected with the paper, when
someone descending from a higher storey of the building overtook
him and laid a hand on his shoulder. He turned and saw Whelpdale.

'What brings you on these premises?' he asked, as they shook

'A man I know has just been made sub-editor of Chat, upstairs. He
has half promised to let me do a column of answers to

'Cosmetics? Fashions? Cookery?'

'I'm not so versatile as all that, unfortunately. No, the general
information column. "Will you be so good as to inform me, through
the medium of your invaluable paper, what was the exact area
devastated by the Great Fire of London?"--that kind of thing, you
know. Hopburn--that's the fellow's name--tells me that his
predecessor always called the paper Chat-moss, because of the
frightful difficulty he had in filling it up each week.
By-the-bye, what a capital column that is of yours in
Will-o'-the-Wisp. I know nothing like it in English journalism;
upon my word I don't!'

'Glad you like it. Some people are less fervent in their

Jasper recounted the affair which had just been under discussion
in the office.

'It may cost a couple of thousands, but the advertisement is
worth that, Patwin thinks. Barlow is delighted; he wouldn't mind
paying double the money to make those people a laughing-stock for
a week or two.'

They issued into the street, and walked on together; Milvain,
with his keen eye and critical smile, unmistakably the modern
young man who cultivates the art of success; his companion of a
less pronounced type, but distinguished by a certain subtlety of
countenance, a blending of the sentimental and the shrewd.

'Of course you know all about the Reardons?' said Whelpdale.

'Haven't seen or heard of them lately. What is it?'

'Then you don't know that they have parted?'


'I only heard about it last night; Biffen told me. Reardon is
doing clerk's work at a hospital somewhere in the East-end, and
his wife has gone to live at her mother's house.'

'Ho, ho!' exclaimed Jasper, thoughtfully. 'Then the crash has
come. Of course I knew it must be impending. I'm sorry for

'I'm sorry for his wife.'

'Trust you for thinking of women first, Whelpdale.'

'It's in an honourable way, my dear fellow. I'm a slave to women,
true, but all in an honourable way. After that last adventure of
mine most men would be savage and cynical, wouldn't they, now?
I'm nothing of the kind. I think no worse of women--not a bit. I
reverence them as much as ever. There must be a good deal of
magnanimity in me, don't you think?'

Jasper laughed unrestrainedly.

'But it's the simple truth,' pursued the other. 'You should have
seen the letter I wrote to that girl at Birmingham--all charity
and forgiveness. I meant it, every word of it. I shouldn't talk
to everyone like this, you know; but it's as well to show a
friend one's best qualities now and then.'

'Is Reardon still living at the old place?'

'No, no. They sold up everything and let the flat. He's in
lodgings somewhere or other. I'm not quite intimate enough with
him to go and see him under the circumstances. But I'm surprised
you know nothing about it.'

'I haven't seen much of them this year. Reardon--well, I'm afraid
he hasn't very much of the virtue you claim for yourself. It
rather annoys him to see me going ahead.'

'Really? His character never struck me in that way.'

'You haven't come enough in contact with him. At all events, I
can't explain his change of manner in any other way. But I'm
sorry for him; I am, indeed. At a hospital? I suppose Carter has
given him the old job again?'

'Don't know. Biffen doesn't talk very freely about it; there's a
good deal of delicacy in Biffen, you know. A thoroughly
good-hearted fellow. And so is Reardon, I believe, though no
doubt he has his weaknesses.'

'Oh, an excellent fellow! But weakness isn't the word. Why, I
foresaw all this from the very beginning. The first hour's talk I
ever had with him was enough to convince me that he'd never hold
his own. But he really believed that the future was clear before
him; he imagined he'd go on getting more and more for his books.
An extraordinary thing that that girl had such faith in him!'

They parted soon after this, and Milvain went homeward, musing
upon what he had heard. It was his purpose to spend the whole
evening on some work which pressed for completion, but he found
an unusual difficulty in settling to it. About eight o'clock he
gave up the effort, arrayed himself in the costume of black and
white, and journeyed to Westbourne Park, where his destination
was the house of Mrs Edmund Yule. Of the servant who opened to
him he inquired if Mrs Yule was at home, and received an answer
in the affirmative.

'Any company with her?'

'A lady--Mrs Carter.'

'Then please to give my name, and ask if Mrs Yule can see me.'

He was speedily conducted to the drawing-room, where he found the
lady of the house, her son, and Mrs Carter. For Mrs Reardon his
eye sought in vain.

'I'm so glad you have come,' said Mrs Yule, in a confidential
tone. 'I have been wishing to see you. Of course, you know of our
sad trouble?'

'I have heard of it only to-day.'

'From Mr Reardon himself?'

'No; I haven't seen him.'

'I do wish you had! We should have been so anxious to know how he
impressed you.'

'How he impressed me?'

'My mother has got hold of the notion,' put in John Yule, 'that
he's not exactly compos mentis. I'll admit that he went on in a
queer sort of way the last time I saw him.'

'And my husband thinks he is rather strange,' remarked Mrs

'He has gone back to the hospital, I understand--'

'To a new branch that has just been opened in the City Road,'
replied Mrs Yule. 'And he's living in a dreadful place--one of
the most shocking alleys in the worst part of Islington. I should
have gone to see him, but I really feel afraid; they give me such
an account of the place. And everyone agrees that he has such a
very wild look, and speaks so strangely.'

'Between ourselves,' said John, 'there's no use in exaggerating.
He's living in a vile hole, that's true, and Carter says he looks
miserably ill, but of course he may be as sane as we are.

Jasper listened to all this with no small astonishment.

'And Mrs Reardon?' he asked.

'I'm sorry to say she is far from well,' replied Mrs Yule.
'To-day she has been obliged to keep her room. You can imagine
what a shock it has been to her. It came with such extraordinary
suddenness. Without a word of warning, her husband announced that
he had taken a clerkship and was going to remove immediately to
the East-end. Fancy! And this when he had already arranged, as
you know, to go to the South Coast and write his next book under
the influences of the sea air. He was anything but well; we all
knew that, and we had all joined in advising him to spend the
summer at the seaside. It seemed better that he should go alone;
Mrs Reardon would, of course, have gone down for a few days now
and then. And at a moment's notice everything is changed, and in
such a dreadful way! I cannot believe that this is the behaviour
of a sane man!'

Jasper understood that an explanation of the matter might have
been given in much more homely terms; it was natural that Mrs
Yule should leave out of sight the sufficient, but ignoble, cause
of her son-in-law's behaviour.

'You see in what a painful position we are placed,' continued the
euphemistic lady. 'It is so terrible even to hint that Mr Reardon
is not responsible for his actions, yet how are we to explain to
our friends this extraordinary state of things?'

'My husband is afraid Mr Reardon may fall seriously ill,' said
Mrs Carter. 'And how dreadful! In such a place as that!'

'It would be so kind of you to go and see him, Mr Milvain,' urged
Mrs Yule. 'We should be so glad to hear what you think.'

'Certainly, I will go,' replied Jasper. 'Will you give me his

He remained for an hour, and before his departure the subject was
discussed with rather more frankness than at first; even the word
'money' was once or twice heard.

'Mr Carter has very kindly promised,' said Mrs Yule, 'to do his
best to hear of some position that would be suitable. It seems a
most shocking thing that a successful author should abandon his
career in this deliberate way; who could have imagined anything
of the kind two years ago? But it is clearly quite impossible for
him to go on as at present--if there is really no reason for
believing his mind disordered.'

A cab was summoned for Mrs Carter, and she took her leave,
suppressing her native cheerfulness to the tone of the occasion.
A minute or two after, Milvain left the house.

He had walked perhaps twenty yards, almost to the end of the
silent street in which his friends' house was situated, when a
man came round the corner and approached him. At once he
recognised the figure, and in a moment he was face to face with
Reardon. Both stopped. Jasper held out his hand, but the other
did not seem to notice it.

'You are coming from Mrs Yule's?' said Reardon, with a strange

By the gaslight his face showed pale and sunken, and he met
Jasper's look with fixedness.

'Yes, I am. The fact is, I went there to hear of your address.
Why haven't you let me know about all this?'

'You went to the flat?'

'No, I was told about you by Whelpdale.'

Reardon turned in the direction whence he had come, and began to
walk slowly; Jasper kept beside him.

'I'm afraid there's something amiss between us, Reardon,' said
the latter, just glancing at his companion.

'There's something amiss between me and everyone,' was the reply,
in an unnatural voice.

'You look at things too gloomily. Am I detaining you, by-the-bye?
You were going--'


'Then come to my rooms, and let us see if we can't talk more in
the old way.'

'Your old way of talk isn't much to my taste, Milvain. It has
cost me too much.'Jasper gazed at him. Was there some foundation
for Mrs Yule's seeming extravagance? This reply sounded so
meaningless, and so unlike Reardon's manner of speech, that the
younger man experienced a sudden alarm.

'Cost you too much? I don't understand you.'

They had turned into a broader thoroughfare, which, however, was
little frequented at this hour. Reardon, his hands thrust into
the pockets of a shabby overcoat and his head bent forward, went
on at a slow pace, observant of nothing. For a moment or two he
delayed reply, then said in an unsteady voice:

'Your way of talking has always been to glorify success, to
insist upon it as the one end a man ought to keep in view. If you
had talked so to me alone, it wouldn't have mattered. But there
was generally someone else present. Your words had their effect;
I can see that now. It's very much owing to you that I am
deserted, now that there's no hope of my ever succeeding.'

Jasper's first impulse was to meet this accusation with indignant
denial, but a sense of compassion prevailed. It was so painful to
see the defeated man wandering at night near the house where his
wife and child were comfortably sheltered; and the tone in which
he spoke revealed such profound misery.

'That's a most astonishing thing to say,' Jasper replied. 'Of
course I know nothing of what has passed between you and your
wife, but I feel certain that I have no more to do with what has
happened than any other of your acquaintances.'

'You may feel as certain as you will, but your words and your
example have influenced my wife against me. You didn't intend
that; I don't suppose it for a moment. It's my misfortune, that's

'That I intended nothing of the kind, you need hardly say, I
should think. But you are deceiving yourself in the strangest
way. I'm afraid to speak plainly; I'm afraid of offending you.
But can you recall something that I said about the time of your
marriage? You didn't like it then, and certainly it won't be
pleasant to you to remember it now. If you mean that your wife
has grown unkind to you because you are unfortunate, there's no
need to examine into other people's influence for an explanation
of that.'

Reardon turned his face towards the speaker.

'Then you have always regarded my wife as a woman likely to fail
me in time of need?'

'I don't care to answer a question put in that way. If we are no
longer to talk with the old friendliness, it's far better we
shouldn't discuss things such as this.'

'Well, practically you have answered. Of course I remember those
words of yours that you refer to. Whether you were right or wrong
doesn't affect what I say.'

He spoke with a dull doggedness, as though mental fatigue did not
allow him to say more.

'It's impossible to argue against such a charge,' said Milvain.
'I am convinced it isn't true, and that's all I can answer. But
perhaps you think this extraordinary influence of mine is still
being used against you?'

'I know nothing about it,' Reardon replied, in the same
unmodulated voice.

'Well, as I have told you, this was my first visit to Mrs Yule's
since your wife has been there, and I didn't see her; she isn't
very well, and keeps her room. I'm glad it happened so--that I
didn't meet her. Henceforth I shall keep away from the family
altogether, so long, at all events, as your wife remains with
them. Of course I shan't tell anyone why; that would be
impossible. But you shan't have to fear that I am decrying you.
By Jove! an amiable figure you make of me!'

'I have said what I didn't wish to say, and what I oughtn't to
have said. You must misunderstand me; I can't help it.'

Reardon had been walking for hours, and was, in truth, exhausted.

He became mute. Jasper, whose misrepresentation was wilful,
though not maliciously so, also fell into silence; he did not
believe that his conversations with Amy had seriously affected
the course of events, but he knew that he had often said things
to her in private which would scarcely have fallen from his lips
if her husband had been present--little depreciatory phrases,
wrong rather in tone than in terms, which came of his
irresistible desire to assume superiority whenever it was
possible. He, too, was weak, but with quite another kind of
weakness than Reardon's. His was the weakness of vanity, which
sometimes leads a man to commit treacheries of which he would
believe himself incapable. Self-accused, he took refuge in the
pretence of misconception, which again was a betrayal of

They drew near to Westbourne Park station.

'You are living a long way from here,' Jasper said, coldly. 'Are
you going by train?'

'No. You said my wife was ill?'

'Oh, not ill. At least, I didn't understand that it was anything
serious. Why don't you walk back to the house?'

'I must judge of my own affairs.'

'True; I beg your pardon. I take the train here, so I'll say

They nodded to each other, but did not shake hands.

A day or two later, Milvain wrote to Mrs Yule, and told her that
he had seen Reardon; he did not describe the circumstances under
which the interview had taken place, but gave it as his opinion
that Reardon was in a state of nervous illness, and made by
suffering quite unlike himself. That he might be on the way to
positive mental disease seemed likely enough. 'Unhappily, I
myself can be of no use to him; he has not the same friendly
feeling for me as he used to have. But it is very certain that
those of his friends who have the power should exert themselves
to raise him out of this fearful slough of despond. If he isn't
effectually helped, there's no saying what may happen. One thing
is certain, I think: he is past helping himself. Sane literary
work cannot be expected from him. It seems a monstrous thing that
so good a fellow, and one with such excellent brains too, should
perish by the way when influential people would have no
difficulty in restoring him to health and usefulness.'

All the months of summer went by. Jasper kept his word, and never
visited Mrs Yule's house; but once in July he met that lady at
the Carters', and heard then, what he knew from other sources,
that the position of things was unchanged. In August, Mrs Yule
spent a fortnight at the seaside, and Amy accompanied her.
Milvain and his sisters accepted an invitation to visit friends
at Wattleborough, and were out of town about three weeks, the
last ten days being passed in the Isle of Wight; it was an
extravagant holiday, but Dora had been ailing, and her brother
declared that they would all work better for the change. Alfred
Yule, with his wife and daughter, rusticated somewhere in Kent.
Dora and Marian exchanged letters, and here is a passage from one
written by the former:

'Jasper has shown himself in an unusually amiable light since we
left town. I looked forward to this holiday with some misgivings,
as I know by experience that it doesn't do for him and us to be
too much together; he gets tired of our company, and then his
selfishness--believe me, he has a good deal of it--comes out in a
way we don't appreciate. But I have never known him so
forbearing. To me he is particularly kind, on account of my
headaches and general shakiness. It isn't impossible that this
young man, if all goes well with him, may turn out far better
than Maud and I ever expected. But things will have to go very
well, if the improvement is to be permanent. I only hope he may
make a lot of money before long. If this sounds rather gross to
you, I can only say that Jasper's moral nature will never be safe
as long as he is exposed to the risks of poverty. There are such
people, you know. As a poor man, I wouldn't trust him out of my
sight; with money, he will be a tolerable creature--as men go.'

Dora, no doubt, had her reasons for writing in this strain. She
would not have made such remarks in conversation with her friend,
but took the opportunity of being at a distance to communicate
them in writing.

On their return, the two girls made good progress with the book
they were manufacturing for Messrs Jolly and Monk, and early in
October it was finished. Dora was now writing little things for
The English Girl, and Maud had begun to review an occasional
novel for an illustrated paper. In spite of their poor lodgings,
they had been brought into social relations with Mrs Boston
Wright and a few of her friends; their position was understood,
and in accepting invitations they had no fear lest unwelcome
people should pounce down upon them in their shabby little
sitting-room. The younger sister cared little for society such as
Jasper procured them; with Marian Yule for a companion she would
have been quite content to spend her evenings at home. But Maud
relished the introduction to strangers. She was admired, and knew
it. Prudence could not restrain her from buying a handsomer dress
than those she had brought from her country home, and it irked
her sorely that she might not reconstruct all her equipment to
rival the appearance of well-to-do girls whom she studied and
envied. Her disadvantages, for the present, were insuperable. She
had no one to chaperon her; she could not form intimacies because
of her poverty. A rare invitation to luncheon, a permission to
call at the sacred hour of small-talk--this was all she could
hope for.

'I advise you to possess your soul in patience,' Jasper said to
her, as they talked one day on the sea-shore. 'You are not to
blame that you live without conventional protection, but it
necessitates your being very careful. These people you are
getting to know are not rigid about social observances, and they
won't exactly despise you for poverty; all the same, their
charity mustn't be tested too severely. Be very quiet for the
present; let it be seen that you understand that your position
isn't quite regular--I mean, of course, do so in a modest and
nice way. As soon as ever it's possible, we'll arrange for you to
live with someone who will preserve appearances. All this is
contemptible, of course; but we belong to a contemptible society,
and can't help ourselves. For Heaven's sake, don't spoil your
chances by rashness; be content to wait a little, till some more
money comes in.'

Midway in October, about half-past eight one evening, Jasper
received an unexpected visit from Dora. He was in his
sitting-room, smoking and reading a novel.

'Anything wrong?' he asked, as his sister entered.

'No; but I'm alone this evening, and I thought I would see if you
were in.

'Where's Maud, then?'

'She went to see the Lanes this afternoon, and Mrs Lane invited
her to go to the Gaiety to-night; she said a friend whom she had
invited couldn't come, and the ticket would be wasted. Maud went
back to dine with them. She'll come home in a cab.'

'Why is Mrs Lane so affectionate all at once? Take your things
off; I have nothing to do.'

'Miss Radway was going as well.'

'Who's Miss Radway?'

'Don't you know her? She's staying with the Lanes. Maud says she
writes for The West End.'

'And will that fellow Lane be with them?'

'I think not.'

Jasper mused, contemplating the bowl of his pipe.

'I suppose she was in rare excitement?'

'Pretty well. She has wanted to go to the Gaiety for a long time.
There's no harm, is there?'

Dora asked the question with that absent air which girls are wont
to assume when they touch on doubtful subjects.

'Harm, no. Idiocy and lively music, that's all. It's too late, or
I'd have taken you, for the joke of the thing. Confound it! she
ought to have better dresses.'

'Oh, she looked very nice, in that best.'

'Pooh! But I don't care for her to be running about with the
Lanes. Lane is too big a blackguard; it reflects upon his wife to
a certain extent.'

They gossiped for half an hour, then a tap at the door
interrupted them; it was the landlady.

'Mr Whelpdale has called to see you, sir. I mentioned as Miss
Milvain was here, so he said he wouldn't come up unless you sent
to ask him.'

Jasper smiled at Dora, and said in a low voice.

'What do you say? Shall he come up? He can behave himself.'

'Just as you please, Jasper.'

'Ask him to come up, Mrs Thompson, please.'

Mr Whelpdale presented himself. He entered with much more
ceremony than when Milvain was alone; on his visage was a grave
respectfulness, his step was light, his whole bearing expressed
diffidence and pleasurable anticipation.

'My younger sister, Whelpdale,' said Jasper, with subdued

The dealer in literary advice made a bow which did him no
discredit, and began to speak in a low, reverential tone not at
all disagreeable to the ear. His breeding, in truth, had been
that of a gentleman, and it was only of late years that he had
fallen into the hungry region of New Grub Street.

'How's the "Manual" going off?' Milvain inquired.

'Excellently! We have sold nearly six hundred.'

'My sister is one of your readers. I believe she has studied the
book with much conscientiousness.'

'Really? You have really read it, Miss Milvain?'

Dora assured him that she had, and his delight knew no bounds.

'It isn't all rubbish, by any means,' said Jasper, graciously.
'In the chapter on writing for magazines, there are one or two
very good hints. What a pity you can't apply your own advice,

'Now that's horribly unkind of you!' protested the other. 'You
might have spared me this evening. But unfortunately it's quite
true, Miss Milvain. I point the way, but I haven't been able to
travel it myself. You mustn't think I have never succeeded in
getting things published; but I can't keep it up as a profession.

Your brother is the successful man. A marvellous facility! I envy
him. Few men at present writing have such talent.'

'Please don't make him more conceited than he naturally is,'
interposed Dora.

'What news of Biffen?' asked Jasper, presently.

'He says he shall finish "Mr Bailey, Grocer," in about a month.
He read me one of the later chapters the other night. It's really
very fine; most remarkable writing, it seems to me. It will be
scandalous if he can't get it published; it will, indeed.'

'I do hope he may!' said Dora, laughing. 'I have heard so much of
"Mr Bailey," that it will be a great disappointment if I am never
to read it.'

'I'm afraid it would give you very little pleasure,' Whelpdale
replied, hesitatingly. 'The matter is so very gross.'

'And the hero grocer!' shouted Jasper, mirthfully. 'Oh, but it's
quite decent; only rather depressing. The decently ignoble--or,
the ignobly decent? Which is Biffen's formula? I saw him a week
ago, and he looked hungrier than ever.'

'Ah, but poor Reardon! I passed him at King's Cross not long ago.

He didn't see me--walks with his eyes on the ground always--and I
hadn't the courage to stop him. He's the ghost of his old self He
can't live long.'

Dora and her brother exchanged a glance. It was a long time since
Jasper had spoken to his sisters about the Reardons; nowadays he
seldom heard either of husband or wife.

The conversation that went on was so agreeable to Whelpdale, that
he lost consciousness of time. It was past eleven o'clock when
Jasper felt obliged to remind him.

'Dora, I think I must be taking you home.'

The visitor at once made ready for departure, and his
leave-taking was as respectful as his entrance had been. Though
he might not say what he thought, there was very legible upon his
countenance a hope that he would again be privileged to meet Miss
Dora Milvain.

'Not a bad fellow, in his way,' said Jasper, when Dora and he
were alone again.

'Not at all.'

She had heard the story of Whelpdale's hapless wooing half a year
ago, and her recollection of it explained the smile with which
she spoke.

'Never get on, I'm afraid,' Jasper pursued. 'He has his allowance
of twenty pounds a year, and makes perhaps fifty or sixty more.
If I were in his position, I should go in for some kind of
regular business; he has people who could help him. Good-natured
fellow; but what's the use of that if you've no money?'

They set out together, and walked to the girls' lodgings. Dora
was about to use her latch-key, but Jasper checked her. 'No.
There's a light in the kitchen still; better knock, as we're so

'But why?'

'Never mind; do as I tell you.'

The landlady admitted them, and Jasper spoke a word or two with
her, explaining that he would wait until his elder sister's
return; the darkness of the second-floor windows had shown that
Maud was not yet back.

'What strange fancies you have!' remarked Dora, when they were

'So have people in general, unfortunately.'

A letter lay on the table. It was addressed to Maud, and Dora
recognised the handwriting as that of a Wattleborough friend.

'There must be some news here,' she said. 'Mrs Haynes wouldn't
write unless she had something special to say.

Just upon midnight, a cab drew up before the house. Dora ran down
to open the door to her sister, who came in with very bright eyes
and more colour than usual on her cheeks.

'How late for you to be here!' she exclaimed, on entering the
sitting-room and seeing Jasper.

'I shouldn't have felt comfortable till I knew that you were back
all right.'

'What fear was there?'

She threw off her wraps, laughing.

'Well, have you enjoyed yourself?'

'Oh yes!' she replied, carelessly. 'This letter for me? What has
Mrs Haynes got to say, I wonder?'

She opened the envelope, and began to glance hurriedly over the
sheet of paper. Then her face changed.

'What do you think? Mr Yule is dead!'

Dora uttered an exclamation; Jasper displayed the keenest

'He died yesterday--no, it would be the day before yesterday. He
had a fit of some kind at a public meeting, was taken to the
hospital because it was nearest, and died in a few hours. So that
has come, at last! Now what'll be the result of it, I wonder?'

'When shall you be seeing Marian?' asked her brother.

'She might come to-morrow evening.'

'But won't she go to the funeral?' suggested Dora.

'Perhaps; there's no saying. I suppose her father will, at all
events. The day before yesterday? Then the funeral will be on
Saturday, I should think.'

'Ought I to write to Marian?' asked Dora.

'No; I wouldn't,' was Jasper's reply. 'Better wait till she lets
you hear. That's sure to be soon. She may have gone to
Wattleborough this afternoon, or be going to-morrow morning.'

The letter from Mrs Haynes was passed from hand to hand.
'Everybody feels sure,' it said, 'that a great deal of his money
will be left for public purposes. The ground for the park being
already purchased, he is sure to have made provision for carrying
out his plans connected with it. But I hope your friends in
London may benefit.'

It was some time before Jasper could put an end to the
speculative conversation and betake himself homewards. And even
on getting back to his lodgings he was little disposed to go to
bed. This event of John Yule's death had been constantly in his
mind, but there was always a fear that it might not happen for
long enough; the sudden announcement excited him almost as much
as if he were a relative of the deceased.

'Confound his public purposes!' was the thought upon which he at
length slept.


Since the domestic incidents connected with that unpleasant
review in The Current, the relations between Alfred Yule and his
daughter had suffered a permanent change, though not in a degree
noticeable by any one but the two concerned. To all appearances,
they worked together and conversed very much as they had been
wont to do; but Marian was made to feel in many subtle ways that
her father no longer had complete confidence in her, no longer
took the same pleasure as formerly in the skill and
conscientiousness of her work, and Yule on his side perceived too
clearly that the girl was preoccupied with something other than
her old wish to aid and satisfy him, that she had a new life of
her own alien to, and in some respects irreconcilable with, the
existence in which he desired to confirm her. There was no
renewal of open disagreement, but their conversations frequently
ended by tacit mutual consent, at a point which threatened
divergence; and in Yule's case every such warning was a cause of
intense irritation. He feared to provoke Marian, and this fear
was again a torture to his pride.

Beyond the fact that his daughter was in constant communication
with the Miss Milvains, he knew, and could discover, nothing of
the terms on which she stood with the girls' brother, and this
ignorance was harder to bear than full assurance of a
disagreeable fact would have been. That a man like Jasper
Milvain, whose name was every now and then forced upon his notice
as a rising periodicalist and a faithful henchman of the
unspeakable Fadge--that a young fellow of such excellent
prospects should seriously attach himself to a girl like Marian
seemed to him highly improbable, save, indeed, for the one
consideration, that Milvain, who assuredly had a very keen eye to
chances, might regard the girl as a niece of old John Yule, and
therefore worth holding in view until it was decided whether or
not she would benefit by her uncle's decease. Fixed in his
antipathy to the young man, he would not allow himself to admit
any but a base motive on Milvain's side, if, indeed, Marian and
Jasper were more to each other than slight acquaintances; and he
persuaded himself that anxiety for the girl's welfare was at
least as strong a motive with him as mere prejudice against the
ally of Fadge, and, it might be, the reviewer of 'English Prose.'
Milvain was quite capable of playing fast and loose with a girl,
and Marian, owing to the peculiar circumstances of her position,
would easily be misled by the pretence of a clever speculator.

That she had never spoken again about the review in The Current
might receive several explanations. Perhaps she had not been able
to convince herself either for or against Milvain's authorship;
perhaps she had reason to suspect that the young man was the
author; perhaps she merely shrank from reviving a discussion in
which she might betray what she desired to keep secret. This last
was the truth. Finding that her father did not recur to the
subject, Marian concluded that he had found himself to be
misinformed. But Yule, though he heard the original rumour denied
by people whom in other matters he would have trusted, would not
lay aside the doubt that flattered his prejudices. If Milvain
were not the writer of the review, he very well might have been;
and what certainty could be arrived at in matters of literary

There was an element of jealousy in the father's feeling. If he
did not love Marian with all the warmth of which a parent is
capable, at least he had more affection for her than for any
other person, and of this he became strongly aware now that the
girl seemed to be turning from him. If he lost Marian, he would
indeed be a lonely man, for he considered his wife of no account.

Intellectually again, he demanded an entire allegiance from his
daughter; he could not bear to think that her zeal on his behalf
was diminishing, that perhaps she was beginning to regard his
work as futile and antiquated in comparison with that of the new
generation. Yet this must needs be the result of frequent
intercourse with such a man as Milvain. It seemed to him that he
remarked it in her speech and manner, and at times he with
difficulty restrained himself from a reproach or a sarcasm which
would have led to trouble.

Had he been in the habit of dealing harshly with Marian, as with
her mother, of course his position would have been simpler. But
he had always respected her, and he feared to lose that measure
of respect with which she repaid him. Already he had suffered in
her esteem, perhaps more than he liked to think, and the
increasing embitterment of his temper kept him always in danger
of the conflict he dreaded. Marian was not like her mother; she
could not submit to tyrannous usage. Warned of that, he did his
utmost to avoid an outbreak of discord, constantly hoping that he
might come to understand his daughter's position, and perhaps
discover that his greatest fear was unfounded.

Twice in the course of the summer he inquired of his wife whether
she knew anything about the Milvains. But Mrs Yule was not in
Marian's confidence.

'I only know that she goes to see the young ladies, and that they
do writing of some kind.'

'She never even mentions their brother to you?'

'Never. I haven't heard his name from her since she told me the
Miss Milvains weren't coming here again.'

He was not sorry that Marian had taken the decision to keep her
friends away from St Paul's Crescent, for it saved him a
recurring annoyance; but, on the other hand, if they had
continued to come, he would not have been thus completely in the
dark as to her intercourse with Jasper; scraps of information
must now and then have been gathered by his wife from the girls'

Throughout the month of July he suffered much from his wonted
bilious attacks, and Mrs Yule had to endure a double share of his
ill-temper, that which was naturally directed against her, and
that of which Marian was the cause. In August things were
slightly better; but with the return to labour came a renewal of
Yule's sullenness and savageness. Sundry pieces of ill-luck of a
professional kind--warnings, as he too well understood, that it
was growing more and more difficult for him to hold his own
against the new writers--exasperated his quarrel with destiny.
The gloom of a cold and stormy September was doubly wretched in
that house on the far borders of Camden Town, but in October the
sun reappeared and it seemed to mollify the literary man's mood.
Just when Mrs Yule and Marian began to hope that this long
distemper must surely come to an end, there befell an incident
which, at the best of times, would have occasioned misery, and
which in the present juncture proved disastrous.

It was one morning about eleven. Yule was in his study; Marian
was at the Museum; Mrs Yule had gone shopping. There came a sharp
knock at the front door, and the servant, on opening, was
confronted with a decently-dressed woman, who asked in a
peremptory voice if Mrs Yule was at home.

'No? Then is Mr Yule?'

'Yes, mum, but I'm afraid he's busy.'

'I don't care, I must see him. Say that Mrs Goby wants to see him
at once.'

The servant, not without apprehensions, delivered this message at
the door of the study.

'Mrs Goby? Who is Mrs Goby?' exclaimed the man of letters, irate
at the disturbance.

There sounded an answer out of the passage, for the visitor had
followed close.

'I am Mrs Goby, of the 'Olloway Road, wife of Mr C. 0. Goby,
'aberdasher. I just want to speak to you, Mr Yule, if you please,
seeing that Mrs Yule isn't in.'

Yule started up in fury, and stared at the woman, to whom the
servant had reluctantly given place.

'What business can you have with me? If you wish to see Mrs Yule,
come again when she is at home.'

'No, Mr Yule, I will not come again!' cried the woman, red in the
face. 'I thought I might have had respectable treatment here, at
all events; but I see you're pretty much like your relations in
the way of behaving to people, though you do wear better clothes,
and--I s'pose--call yourself a gentleman. I won't come again, and
you shall just hear what I've got to say.

She closed the door violently, and stood in an attitude of robust

'What's all this about?' asked the enraged author, overcoming an
impulse to take Mrs Goby by the shoulders and throw her out--
though he might have found some difficulty in achieving this
feat. 'Who are you? And why do you come here with your brawling?'

'I'm the respectable wife of a respectable man--that's who I am,
Mr Yule, if you want to know. And I always thought Mrs Yule was
the same, from the dealings we've had with her at the shop,
though not knowing any more of her, it's true, except that she
lived in St Paul's Crezzent. And so she may be respectable,
though I can't say as her husband behaves himself very much like
what he pretends to be. But I can't say as much for her relations
in Perker Street, 'Olloway, which I s'pose they're your relations
as well, at least by marriage. And if they think they're going to
insult me, and use their blackguard tongues--'

'What are you talking about?' shouted Yule, who was driven to
frenzy by the mention of his wife's humble family. 'What have I
to do with these people?'

'What have you to do with them? I s'pose they're your relations,
ain't they? And I s'pose the girl Annie Rudd is your niece, ain't
she? At least, she's your wife's niece, and that comes to the
same thing, I've always understood, though I dare say a gentleman
as has so many books about him can correct me if I've made a

She looked scornfully, though also with some surprise, round the
volumed walls.

'And what of this girl? Will you have the goodness to say what
your business is?'

'Yes, I will have the goodness! I s'pose you know very well that
I took your niece Annie Rudd as a domestic servant'--she repeated
this precise definition--'as a domestic servant, because Mrs Yule
'appened to 'arst me if I knew of a place for a girl of that
kind, as hadn't been out before, but could be trusted to do her
best to give satisfaction to a good mistress? I s'pose you know

'I know nothing of the kind. What have I to do with servants?'

'Well, whether you've much to do with them or little, that's how
it was. And nicely she's paid me out, has your niece, Miss Rudd.
Of all the trouble I ever had with a girl! And now when she's run
away back 'ome, and when I take the trouble to go arfter her, I'm
to be insulted and abused as never was! Oh, they're a nice
respectable family, those Rudds! Mrs Rudd--that's Mrs Yule's
sister--what a nice, polite-spoken lady she is, to be sure? If I
was to repeat the language--but there, I wouldn't lower myself.
And I've been a brute of a mistress; I ill-use my servants, and I
don't give 'em enough to eat, and I pay 'em worse than any woman
in London! That's what I've learnt about myself by going to
Perker Street, 'Olloway. And when I come here to ask Mrs Yule
what she means by recommending such a creature, from such a 'ome,
I get insulted by her gentleman husband.'

Yule was livid with rage, but the extremity of his scorn withheld
him from utterance of what he felt.

'As I said, all this has nothing to do with me. I will let Mrs
Yule know that you have called. I have no more time to spare.'

Mrs Goby repeated at still greater length the details of her
grievance, but long before she had finished Yule was sitting
again at his desk in ostentatious disregard o{her. Finally, the
exasperated woman flung open the door, railed in a loud voice
along the passage, and left the house with an alarming crash.

It was not long before Mrs Yule returned. Before taking off her
things, she went down into the kitchen with certain purchases,
and there she learnt from the servant what had happened during
her absence. Fear and trembling possessed her--the sick, faint
dread always excited by her husband's wrath--but she felt obliged
to go at once to the study. The scene that took place there was
one of ignoble violence on Yule's part, and, on that of his wife,
of terrified self-accusation, changing at length to dolorous
resentment of the harshness with which she was treated. When it
was over, Yule took his hat and went out.

He did not return for the mid-day meal, and when Marian, late in
the afternoon, came back from the Museum, he was still absent.

Not finding her mother in the parlour, Marian called at the head
of the kitchen stairs. The servant answered, saying that Mrs Yule
was up in her bedroom, and that she didn't seem well. Marian at
once went up and knocked at the bedroom door. In a moment or two
her mother came out, showing a face of tearful misery.

'What is it, mother? What's the matter?'

They went into Marian's room, where Mrs Yule gave free utterance
to her lamentations.

'I can't put up with it, Marian! Your father is too hard with me.

I was wrong, I dare say, and I might have known what would have
come of it, but he couldn't speak to me worse if I did him all
the harm I could on purpose. It's all about Annie, because I
found a place for her at Mrs Goby's in the 'Olloway Road; and now
Mrs Goby's been here and seen your father, and told him she's
been insulted by the Rudds, because Annie went off home, and she
went after her to make inquiries. And your father's in such a
passion about it as never was. That woman Mrs Goby rushed into
the study when he was working; it was this morning, when I
happened to be out. And she throws all the blame on me for
recommending her such a girl. And I did it for the best, that I
did! Annie promised me faithfully she'd behave well, and never
give me trouble, and she seemed thankful to me, because she
wasn't happy at home. And now to think of her causing all this
disturbance! I oughtn't to have done such a thing without
speaking about it to your father; but you know how afraid I am to
say a word to him about those people. And my sister's told me so
often I ought to be ashamed of myself never helping her and her
children; she thinks I could do such a lot if I only liked. And
now that I did try to do something, see what comes of it!'

Marian listened with a confusion of wretched feelings. But her
sympathies were strongly with her mother; as well as she could
understand the broken story, her father seemed to have no just
cause for his pitiless rage, though such an occasion would be
likely enough to bring out his worst faults.

'Is he in the study?' she asked.

'No, he went out at twelve o'clock, and he's never been back
since. I feel as if I must do something; I can't bear with it,
Marian. He tells me I'm the curse of his life--yes, he said that.
I oughtn't to tell you, I know I oughtn't; but it's more than I
can bear. I've always tried to do my best, but it gets harder and
harder for me. But for me he'd never be in these bad tempers;
it's because he can't look at me without getting angry. He says
I've kept him back all through his life; but for me he might have
been far better off than he is. It may be true; I've often enough
thought it. But I can't bear to have it told me like that, and to
see it in his face every time he looks at me. I shall have to do
something. He'd be glad if only I was out of his way.'

'Father has no right to make you so unhappy,' said Marian. 'I
can't see that you did anything blameworthy; it seems to me that
it was your duty to try and help Annie, and if it turned out
unfortunately, that can't be helped. You oughtn't to think so
much of what father says in his anger; I believe he hardly knows
what he does say. Don't take it so much to heart, mother.'

'I've tried my best, Marian,' sobbed the poor woman, who felt
that even her child's sympathy could not be perfect, owing to the
distance put between them by Marian's education and refined
sensibilities. 'I've always thought it wasn't right to talk to
you about such things, but he's been too hard with me to-day.'

'I think it was better you should tell me. It can't go on like
this; I feel that just as you do. I must tell father that he is
making our lives a burden to us.'

'Oh, you mustn't speak to him like that, Marian! I wouldn't for
anything make unkindness between you and your father; that would
be the worst thing I'd done yet. I'd rather go away and work for
my own living than make trouble between you and him.'

'It isn't you who make trouble; it's father. I ought to have
spoken to him before this; I had no right to stand by and see how
much you suffered from his ill-temper.'

The longer they talked, the firmer grew Marian's resolve to front
her father's tyrannous ill-humour, and in one way or another to
change the intolerable state of things. She had been weak to hold
her peace so long; at her age it was a simple duty to interfere
when her mother was treated with such flagrant injustice. Her
father's behaviour was unworthy of a thinking man, and he must be
made to feel that.

Yule did not return. Dinner was delayed for half an hour, then
Marian declared that they would wait no longer. They two made a
sorry meal, and afterwards went together into the sitting-room.
At eight o'clock they heard the front door open, and Yule's
footstep in the passage. Marian rose.

'Don't speak till to-morrow!' whispered her mother, catching at
the girl's arm. 'Let it be till to-morrow, Marian!'

'I must speak! We can't live in this terror.'

She reached the study just as her father was closing the door
behind him. Yule, seeing her enter, glared with bloodshot eyes;
shame and sullen anger were blended on his countenance.

'Will you tell me what is wrong, father?' Marian asked, in a
voice which betrayed her nervous suffering, yet indicated the
resolve with which she had come.

'I am not at all disposed to talk of the matter,' he replied,
with the awkward rotundity of phrase which distinguished him in
his worst humour. 'For information you had better go to Mrs Goby-
-or a person of some such name--in Holloway Road. I have nothing
more to do with it.'

'It was very unfortunate that the woman came and troubled you
about such things. But I can't see that mother was to blame; I
don't think you ought to be so angry with her.'

It cost Marian a terrible effort to address her father in these
terms. When he turned fiercely upon her, she shrank back and felt
as if strength must fail her even to stand.

'You can't see that she was to blame? Isn't it entirely against
my wish that she keeps up any intercourse with those low people?
Am I to be exposed to insulting disturbance in my very study,
because she chooses to introduce girls of bad character as
servants to vulgar women?'

'I don't think Annie Rudd can be called a girl of bad character,
and it was very natural that mother should try to do something
for her. You have never actually forbidden her to see her

'A thousand times I have given her to understand that I utterly
disapproved of such association. She knew perfectly well that
this girl was as likely as not to discredit her. If she had
consulted me, I should at once have forbidden anything of the
kind; she was aware of that. She kept it secret from me, knowing
that it would excite my displeasure. I will not be drawn into
such squalid affairs; I won't have my name spoken in such
connection. Your mother has only herself to blame if I am angry
with her.'

'Your anger goes beyond all bounds. At the very worst, mother
behaved imprudently, and with a very good motive. It is cruel
that you should make her suffer as she is doing.'

Marian was being strengthened to resist. Her blood grew hot; the
sensation which once before had brought her to the verge of
conflict with her father possessed her heart and brain.

'You are not a suitable judge of my behaviour,' replied Yule,

'I am driven to speak. We can't go on living in this way, father.
For months our home has been almost ceaselessly wretched, because
of the ill-temper you are always in. Mother and I must defend
ourselves; we can't bear it any longer. You must surely feel how
ridiculous it is to make such a thing as happened this morning
the excuse for violent anger. How can I help judging your
behaviour? When mother is brought to the point of saying that she
would rather leave home and everything than endure her misery any
longer, I should be wrong if I didn't speak to you. Why are you
so unkind? What serious cause has mother ever given you?'

'I refuse to argue such questions with you.'

'Then you are very unjust. I am not a child, and there's nothing
wrong in my asking you why home is made a place of misery,
instead of being what home ought to be.'

'You prove that you are a child, in asking for explanations which
ought to be clear enough to you.'

'You mean that mother is to blame for everything?'

'The subject is no fit one to be discussed between a father and
his daughter. If you cannot see the impropriety of it, be so good
as to go away and reflect, and leave me to my occupations.'

Marian came to a pause. But she knew that his rebuke was mere
unworthy evasion; she saw that her father could not meet her
look, and this perception of shame in him impelled her to finish
what she had begun.

'I will say nothing of mother, then, but speak only for myself. I
suffer too much from your unkindness; you ask too much

'You mean that I exact too much work from you?' asked her father,
with a look which might have been directed to a recalcitrant

'No. But that you make the conditions of my work too hard. I live
in constant fear of your anger.'

'Indeed? When did I last ill-use you, or threaten you?'

'I often think that threats, or even ill-usage, would be easier
to bear than an unchanging gloom which always seems on the point
of breaking into violence.'

'I am obliged to you for your criticism of my disposition and
manner, but unhappily I am too old to reform. Life has made me
what I am, and I should have thought that your knowledge of what
my life has been would have gone far to excuse a lack of
cheerfulness in me.'

The irony of this laborious period was full of self-pity. His
voice quavered at the close, and a tremor was noticeable in his
stiff frame.

'It isn't lack of cheerfulness that I mean, father. That could
never have brought me to speak like this.'

'If you wish me to admit that I am bad-tempered, surly,
irritable--I make no difficulty about that. The charge is true
enough. I can only ask you again: What are the circumstances that
have ruined my temper? When you present yourself here with a
general accusation of my behaviour, I am at a loss to understand
what you ask of me, what you wish me to say or do. I must beg you
to speak plainly. Are you suggesting that I should make provision
for the support of you and your mother away from my intolerable
proximity? My income is not large, as I think you are aware, but
of course, if a demand of this kind is seriously made, I must do
my best to comply with it.'

'It hurts me very much that you can understand me no better than

'I am sorry. I think we used to understand each other, but that
was before you were subjected to the influence of strangers.'

In his perverse frame of mind he was ready to give utterance to
any thought which confused the point at issue. This last allusion
was suggested to him by a sudden pang of regret for the pain he
was causing Marian; he defended himself against self-reproach by
hinting at the true reason of much of his harshness.

'I am subjected to no influence that is hostile to you,' Marian

'You may think that. But in such a matter it is very easy for you
to deceive yourself.'

'Of course I know what you refer to, and I can assure you that I
don't deceive myself.'

Yule flashed a searching glance at her.

'Can you deny that you are on terms of friendship with a--a
person who would at any moment rejoice to injure me?'

'I am friendly with no such person. Will you say whom you are
thinking of?'

'It would be useless. I have no wish to discuss a subject on
which we should only disagree unprofitably.'

Marian kept silence for a moment, then said in a low, unsteady

'It is perhaps because we never speak of that subject that we are
so far from understanding each other. If you think that Mr
Milvain is your enemy, that he would rejoice to injure you, you
are grievously mistaken.'

'When I see a man in close alliance with my worst enemy, and
looking to that enemy for favour, I am justified in thinking that
he would injure me if the right kind of opportunity offered. One
need not be very deeply read in human nature to have assurance of

'But I know Mr Milvain!'

'You know him?'

'Far better than you can, I am sure. You draw conclusions from
general principles; but I know that they don't apply in this

'I have no doubt you sincerely think so. I repeat that nothing
can be gained by such a discussion as this.'

'One thing I must tell you. There was no truth in your suspicion
that Mr Milvain wrote that review in The Current. He assured me
himself that he was not the writer, that he had nothing to do
with it.'

Yule looked askance at her, and his face displayed solicitude,
which soon passed, however, into a smile of sarcasm.

'The gentleman's word no doubt has weight with you.'

'Father, what do you mean?' broke from Marian, whose eyes of a
sudden flashed stormily. 'Would Mr Milvain tell me a lie?'

'I shouldn't like to say that it is impossible,' replied her
father in the same tone as before.

'But--what right have you to insult him so grossly?'

'I have every right, my dear child, to express an opinion about
him or any other man, provided I do it honestly. I beg you not to
strike attitudes and address me in the language of the stage. You
insist on my speaking plainly, and I have spoken plainly. I
warned you that we were not likely to agree on this topic.'

'Literary quarrels have made you incapable of judging honestly in
things such as this. I wish I could have done for ever with the
hateful profession that so poisons men's minds.'

'Believe me, my girl,' said her father, incisively, 'the simpler
thing would be to hold aloof from such people as use the
profession in a spirit of unalloyed selfishness, who seek only
material advancement, and who, whatever connection they form,
have nothing but self-interest in view.'

And he glared at her with much meaning. Marian--both had remained
standing all through the dialogue--cast down her eyes and became
lost in brooding.

'I speak with profound conviction,' pursued her father, 'and,
however little you credit me with such a motive, out of desire to
guard you against the dangers to which your inexperience is
exposed. It is perhaps as well that you have afforded me this-- '

There sounded at the house-door that duplicated double-knock
which generally announces the bearer of a telegram. Yule
interrupted himself, and stood in an attitude of waiting. The
servant was heard to go along the passage, to open the door, and
then return towards the study. Yes, it was a telegram. Such
despatches rarely came to this house; Yule tore the envelope,
read its contents, and stood with gaze fixed upon the slip of
paper until the servant inquired if there was any reply for the
boy to take with him.

'No reply.'

He slowly crumpled the envelope, and stepped aside to throw it
into the paper-basket. The telegram he laid on his desk. Marian
stood all the time with bent head; he now looked at her with an
expression of meditative displeasure.

'I don't know that there's much good in resuming our
conversation,' he said, in quite a changed tone, as if something
of more importance had taken possession of his thoughts and had
made him almost indifferent to the past dispute. 'But of course I
am quite willing to hear anything you would still like to say.

Marian had lost her vehemence. She was absent and melancholy.

'I can only ask you,' she replied, 'to try and make life less of
a burden to us.'

'I shall have to leave town to-morrow for a few days; no doubt it
will be some satisfaction to you to hear that.'

Marian's eyes turned involuntarily towards the telegram.

'As for your occupation in my absence,' he went on, in a hard
tone which yet had something tremulous, emotional, making it
quite different from the voice he had hitherto used, 'that will
be entirely a matter for your own judgment. I have felt for some
time that you assisted me with less good-will than formerly, and
now that you have frankly admitted it, I shall of course have
very little satisfaction in requesting your aid. I must leave it
to you; consult your own inclination.'

It was resentful, but not savage; between the beginning and the
end of his speech he softened to a sort of self-satisfied pathos.

'I can't pretend,' replied Marian, 'that I have as much pleasure
in the work as I should have if your mood were gentler.'

'I am sorry. I might perhaps have made greater efforts to appear
at ease when I was suffering.'

'Do you mean physical suffering?'

'Physical and mental. But that can't concern you. During my
absence I will think of your reproof. I know that it is deserved,
in some degree. If it is possible, you shall have less to
complain of in future.'

He looked about the room, and at length seated himself; his eyes
were fixed in a direction away from Marian.

'I suppose you had dinner somewhere?' Marian asked, after
catching a glimpse of his worn, colourless face.

'Oh, I had a mouthful of something. It doesn't matter.'

It seemed as if he found some special pleasure in assuming this
tone of martyrdom just now. At the same time he was becoming more
absorbed in thought.

'Shall I have something brought up for you, father?'

'Something--? Oh no, no; on no account.'

He rose again impatiently, then approached his desk, and laid a
hand on the telegram. Marian observed this movement, and examined
his face; it was set in an expression of eagerness.

'You have nothing more to say, then?' He turned sharply upon her.

'I feel that I haven't made you understand me, but I can say
nothing more.'

'I understand you very well--too well. That you should
misunderstand and mistrust me, I suppose, is natural. You are
young, and I am old. You are still full of hope, and I have been
so often deceived and defeated that I dare not let a ray of hope
enter my mind. Judge me; judge me as hardly as you like. My life
has been one long, bitter struggle, and if now--. I say,' he
began a new sentence, 'that only the hard side of life has been
shown to me; small wonder if I have become hard myself. Desert
me; go your own Way, as the young always do. But bear in mind my
warning. Remember the caution I have given you.'

He spoke in a strangely sudden agitation. The arm with which he
leaned upon the table trembled violently. After a moment's pause
he added, in a thick voice:

'Leave me. I will speak to you again in the morning.'

Impressed in a way she did not understand, Marian at once obeyed,
and rejoined her mother in the parlour. Mrs Yule gazed anxiously
at her as she entered.

'Don't be afraid,' said Marian, with difficulty bringing herself
to speak. 'I think it will be better.'

'Was that a telegram that came?' her mother inquired after a

'Yes. I don't know where it was from. But father said he would
have to leave town for a few days.'

They exchanged looks.

'Perhaps your uncle is very ill,' said the mother in a low voice.

'Perhaps so.'

The evening passed drearily. Fatigued with her emotions, Marian
went early to bed; she even slept later than usual in the
morning, and on descending she found her father already at the
breakfast-table. No greeting passed, and there was no
conversation during the meal. Marian noticed that her mother kept
glancing at her in a peculiarly grave way; but she felt ill and
dejected, and could fix her thoughts on no subject. As he left
the table Yule said to her:

'I want to speak to you for a moment. I shall be in the study.'

She joined him there very soon. He looked coldly at her, and said
in a distant tone:

'The telegram last night was to tell me that your uncle is dead.'


'He died of apoplexy, at a meeting in Wattleborough. I shall go
down this morning, and of course remain till after the funeral. I
see no necessity for your going, unless, of course, it is your
desire to do so.'

'No; I should do as you wish.'

'I think you had better not go to the Museum whilst I am away.
You will occupy yourself as you think fit.'

'I shall go on with the Harrington notes.'

'As you please. I don't know what mourning it would be decent for
you to wear; you must consult with your mother about that. That
is all I wished to say.'

His tone was dismissal. Marian had a struggle with herself but
she could find nothing to reply to his cold phrases. And an hour
or two afterwards Yule left the house without leave-taking.

Soon after his departure there was a visitor's rat-tat at the
door; it heralded Mrs Goby. In the interview which then took
place Marian assisted her mother to bear the vigorous onslaughts
of the haberdasher's wife. For more than two hours Mrs Goby
related her grievances, against the fugitive servant, against Mrs
Yule, against Mr Yule; meeting with no irritating opposition, she
was able in this space of time to cool down to the temperature of
normal intercourse, and when she went forth from the house again
it was in a mood of dignified displeasure which she felt to be
some recompense for the injuries of yesterday.

A result of this annoyance was to postpone conversation between
mother and daughter on the subject of John Yule's death until a
late hour of the afternoon. Marian was at work in the study, or
endeavouring to work, for her thoughts would not fix themselves
on the matter in hand for many minutes together, and Mrs Yule
came in with more than her customary diffidence.

'Have you nearly done for to-day, dear?'

'Enough for the present, I think.'

She laid down her pen, and leant back in the chair.

'Marian, do you think your father will be rich?'

'I have no idea, mother. I suppose we shall know very soon.'

Her tone was dreamy. She seemed to herself to be speaking of
something which scarcely at all concerned her, of vague
possibilities which did not affect her habits of thought.

'If that happens,' continued Mrs Yule, in a low tone of distress,
'I don't know what I shall do.'

Marian looked at her questioningly.

'I can't wish that it mayn't happen,' her mother went on; 'I
can't, for his sake and for yours; but I don't know what I shall
do. He'd think me more in his way than ever. He'd wish to have a
large house, and live in quite a different way; and how could I
manage then? I couldn't show myself; he'd be too much ashamed of
me. I shouldn't be in my place; even you'd feel ashamed of me.'

'You mustn't say that, mother. I have never given you cause to
think that.'

'No, my dear, you haven't; but it would be only natural. I
couldn't live the kind of life that you're fit for. I shall be
nothing but a hindrance and a shame to both of you.'

'To me you would never be either hindrance or shame; be quite
sure of that. And as for father, I am all but certain that, if he
became rich, he would be a very much kinder man, a better man in
every way. It is poverty that has made him worse than he
naturally is; it has that effect on almost everybody. Money does
harm, too, sometimes; but never, I think, to people who have a
good heart and a strong mind. Father is naturally a warm-hearted
man; riches would bring out all the best in him. He would be
generous again, which he has almost forgotten how to be among all
his disappointments and battlings. Don't be afraid of that
change, but hope for it.'

Mrs Yule gave a troublous sigh, and for a few minutes pondered

'I wasn't thinking so much about myself' she said at length.
'It's the hindrance I should be to father. Just because of me, he
mightn't be able to use his money as he'd wish. He'd always be
feeling that if it wasn't for me things would be so much better
for him and for you as well.'

'You must remember,' Marian replied, 'that at father's age people
don't care to make such great changes. His home life, I feel
sure, wouldn't be so very different from what it is now; he would
prefer to use his money in starting a paper or magazine. I know
that would be his first thought. If more acquaintances came to
his house, what would that matter? It isn't as if he wished for
fashionable society. They would be literary people, and why ever
shouldn't you meet with them?'

'I've always been the reason why he couldn't have many friends.'

'That's a great mistake. If father ever said that, in his bad
temper, he knew it wasn't the truth. The chief reason has always
been his poverty. It costs money to entertain friends; time as
well. Don't think in this anxious way, mother. If we are to be
rich, it will be better for all of us.'

Marian had every reason for seeking to persuade herself that this
was true. In her own heart there was a fear of how wealth might
affect her father, but she could not bring herself to face the
darker prospect. For her so much depended on that hope of a
revival of generous feeling under sunny influences.

It was only after this conversation that she began to reflect on
all the possible consequences of her uncle's death. As yet she
had been too much disturbed to grasp as a reality the event to
which she had often looked forward, though as to something still
remote, and of quite uncertain results. Perhaps at this moment,
though she could not know it, the course of her life had
undergone the most important change. Perhaps there was no more
need for her to labour upon this 'article' she was manufacturing.

She did not think it probable that she herself would benefit
directly by John Yule's will. There was no certainty that even
her father would, for he and his brother had never been on
cordial terms. But on the whole it seemed likely that he would
inherit money enough to free him from the toil of writing for
periodicals. He himself anticipated that. What else could be the
meaning of those words in which (and it was before the arrival of
the news) he had warned her against 'people who made connections
only with self-interest in view?' This threw a sudden light upon
her father's attitude towards Jasper Milvain. Evidently he
thought that Jasper regarded her as a possible heiress, sooner or
later. That suspicion was rankling in his mind; doubtless it
intensified the prejudice which originated in literary animosity.

Was there any truth in his suspicion? She did not shrink from
admitting that there might be. Jasper had from the first been so
frank with her, had so often repeated that money was at present
his chief need. If her father inherited substantial property,
would it induce Jasper to declare himself more than her friend?
She could view the possibility of that, and yet not for a moment
be shaken in her love. It was plain that Jasper could not think
of marrying until his position and prospects were greatly
improved; practically, his sisters depended upon him. What folly
it would be to draw back if circumstances led him to avow what
hitherto he had so slightly disguised! She had the conviction
that he valued her for her own sake; if the obstacle between them
could only be removed, what matter how?

Would he be willing to abandon Clement Fadge, and come over to
her father's side? If Yule were able to found a magazine?

Had she read or heard of a girl who went so far in concessions,
Marian would have turned away, her delicacy offended. In her own
case she could indulge to the utmost that practicality which
colours a woman's thought even in mid passion. The cold
exhibition of ignoble scheming will repel many a woman who, for
her own heart's desire, is capable of that same compromise with
her strict sense of honour.

Marian wrote to Dora Milvain, telling her what had happened. But
she refrained from visiting her friends.

Each night found her more restless, each morning less able to
employ herself. She shut herself in the study merely to be alone
with her thoughts, to be able to walk backwards and forwards, or
sit for hours in feverish reverie. From her father came no news.
Her mother was suffering dreadfully from suspense, and often had
eyes red with weeping. Absorbed in her own hopes and fears,
whilst every hour harassed her more intolerably, Marian was
unable to play the part of an encourager; she had never known
such exclusiveness of self-occupation.

Yule's return was unannounced. Early in the afternoon, when he
had been absent five days, he entered the house, deposited his
travelling-bag in the passage, and went upstairs. Marian had come
out of the study just in time to see him up on the first landing;
at the same moment Mrs Yule ascended from the kitchen.

'Wasn't that father?'

'Yes, he has gone up.'

'Did he say anything?'

Marian shook her head. They looked at the travelling-bag, then
went into the parlour and waited in silence for more than a
quarter of an hour. Yule's foot was heard on the stairs; he came
down slowly, paused in the passage, entered the parlour with his
usual grave, cold countenance.


Each day Jasper came to inquire of his sisters if they had news
from Wattleborough or from Marian Yule. He exhibited no
impatience, spoke of the matter in a disinterested tone; still,
he came daily.

One afternoon he found Dora working alone. Maud, he was told, had
gone to lunch at Mrs Lane's.

'So soon again? She's getting very thick with those people. And
why don't they ask you?'

'Maud has told them that I don't care to go out.'

'It's all very well, but she mustn't neglect her work. Did she
write anything last night or this morning?'

Dora bit the end of her pen and shook her head.

'Why not?'

'The invitation came about five o'clock, and it seemed to
unsettle her.'

'Precisely. That's what I'm afraid of. She isn't the kind of girl
to stick at work if people begin to send her invitations. But I
tell you what it is, you must talk seriously to her; she has to
get her living, you know. Mrs Lane and her set are not likely to
be much use, that's the worst of it; they'll merely waste her
time, and make her discontented.'

His sister executed an elaborate bit of cross-hatching on some
waste paper. Her lips were drawn together, and her brows
wrinkled. At length she broke the silence by saying:

'Marian hasn't been yet.'

Jasper seemed to pay no attention; she looked up at him, and saw
that he was in thought.

'Did you go to those people last night?' she inquired.

'Yes. By-the-bye, Miss Rupert was there.'

He spoke as if the name would be familiar to his hearer, but Dora
seemed at a loss.

'Who is Miss Rupert?'

'Didn't I tell you about her? I thought I did. Oh, I met her
first of all at Barlow's, just after we got back from the
seaside. Rather an interesting girl. She's a daughter of Manton
Rupert, the advertising agent. I want to get invited to their
house; useful people, you know.'

'But is an advertising agent a gentleman?'

Jasper laughed.

'Do you think of him as a bill-poster? At all events he is
enormously wealthy, and has a magnificent house at Chislehurst.
The girl goes about with her stepmother. I call her a girl, but
she must be nearly thirty, and Mrs Rupert looks only two or three
years older. I had quite a long talk with her--Miss Rupert, I
mean--last night. She told me she was going to stay next week
with the Barlows, so I shall have a run out to Wimbledon one

Dora looked at him inquiringly.

'Just to see Miss Rupert?' she asked, meeting his eyes.

'To be sure. Why not?'

'Oh!' ejaculated his sister, as if the question did not concern

'She isn't exactly good-looking,' pursued Jasper, meditatively,
with a quick glance at the listener, 'but fairly intellectual.
Plays very well, and has a nice contralto voice; she sang that
new thing of Tosti's--what do you call it? I thought her rather
masculine when I first saw her, but the impression wears off when
one knows her better. She rather takes to me, I fancy.'

'But--' began Dora, after a minute's silence.

'But what?' inquired her brother with an air of interest.

'I don't quite understand you.'

'In general, or with reference to some particular?'

'What right have you to go to places just to see this Miss

'What right?' He laughed. 'I am a young man with my way to make.
I can't afford to lose any opportunity. If Miss Rupert is so good
as to take an interest in me, I have no objection. She's old
enough to make friends for herself.'

'Oh, then you consider her simply a friend?'

'I shall see how things go on.'

'But, pray, do you consider yourself perfectly free?' asked Dora,
with some indignation.

'Why shouldn't I?'

'Then I think you have been behaving very strangely.'

Jasper saw that she was in earnest. He stroked the back of his
head and smiled at the wall.

'With regard to Marian, you mean?'

'Of course I do.'

'But Marian understands me perfectly. I have never for a moment
tried to make her think that--well, to put it plainly, that I was
in love with her. In all our conversations it has been my one
object to afford her insight into my character, and to explain my
position. She has no excuse whatever for misinterpreting me. And
I feel assured that she has done nothing of the kind.'

'Very well, if you feel satisfied with yourself--'

'But come now, Dora; what's all this about? You are Marian's
friend, and, of course, I don't wish you to say a word about her.

But let me explain myself. I have occasionally walked part of the
way home with Marian, when she and I have happened to go from
here at the same time; now there was nothing whatever in our talk
at such times that anyone mightn't have listened to. We are both
intellectual people, and we talk in an intellectual way. You seem
to have rather old-fashioned ideas--provincial ideas. A girl like
Marian Yule claims the new privileges of woman; she would resent
it if you supposed that she couldn't be friendly with a man
without attributing "intentions" to him--to use the old word. We
don't live in Wattleborough, where liberty is rendered impossible
by the cackling of gossips.'

'No, but--'


'It seems to me rather strange, that's all. We had better not
talk about it any more.'

'But I have only just begun to talk about it; I must try to make
my position intelligible to you. Now, suppose--a quite impossible
thing--that Marian inherited some twenty or thirty thousand
pounds; I should forthwith ask her to be my wife.'

'Oh indeed!'

'I see no reason for sarcasm. It would be a most rational
proceeding. I like her very much; but to marry her (supposing she
would have me) without money would he a gross absurdity, simply
spoiling my career, and leading to all sorts of discontents.'

'No one would suggest that you should marry as things are.'

'No; but please to bear in mind that to obtain money somehow or
other--and I see no other way than by marriage--is necessary to
me, and that with as little delay as possible. I am not at all
likely to get a big editorship for some years to come, and I
don't feel disposed to make myself prematurely old by toiling for
a few hundreds per annum in the meantime. Now all this I have
frankly and fully explained to Marian. I dare say she suspects
what I should do if she came into possession of money; there's no
harm in that. But she knows perfectly well that, as things are,
we remain intellectual friends.'

'Then listen to me, Jasper. If we hear that Marian gets nothing
from her uncle, you had better behave honestly, and let her see
that you haven't as much interest in her as before.'

'That would be brutality.'

'It would be honest.'

'Well, no, it wouldn't. Strictly speaking, my interest in Marian
wouldn't suffer at all. I should know that we could be nothing
but friends, that's all. Hitherto I haven't known what might come
to pass; I don't know yet. So far from following your advice, I
shall let Marian understand that, if anything, I am more her
friend than ever, seeing that henceforth there can be no

'I can only tell you that Maud would agree with me in what I have
been saying.'

'Then both of you have distorted views.'

'I think not. It's you who are unprincipled.'

'My dear girl, haven't I been showing you that no man could be
more above-board, more straightforward?'

'You have been talking nonsense, Jasper.'

'Nonsense? Oh, this female lack of logic! Then my argument has
been utterly thrown away. Now that's one of the things I like in
Miss Rupert; she can follow an argument and see consequences. And
for that matter so can Marian. I only wish it were possible to
refer this question to her.'

There was a tap at the door. Dora called 'Come in!' and Marian
herself appeared.

'What an odd thing!' exclaimed Jasper, lowering his voice. 'I was
that moment saying I wished it were possible to refer a question
to you.'

Dora reddened, and stood in an embarrassed attitude.

'It was the old dispute whether women in general are capable of
logic. But pardon me, Miss Yule; I forget that you have been
occupied with sad things since I last saw you.'

Dora led her to a chair, asking if her father had returned.

'Yes, he came back yesterday.'

Jasper and his sister could not think it likely that Marian had
suffered much from grief at her uncle's death; practically John
Yule was a stranger to her. Yet her face bore the signs of acute
mental trouble, and it seemed as if some agitation made it
difficult for her to speak. The awkward silence that fell upon
the three was broken by Jasper, who expressed a regret that he
was obliged to take his leave.

'Maud is becoming a young lady of society,' he said--just for the
sake of saying something--as he moved towards the door. 'If she
comes back whilst you are here, Miss Yule, warn her that that is
the path of destruction for literary people.'

'You should bear that in mind yourself' remarked Dora, with a
significant look.

'Oh, I am cool-headed enough to make society serve my own ends.'

Marian turned her head with a sudden movement which was checked
before she had quite looked round to him. The phrase he uttered
last appeared to have affected her in some way; her eyes fell,
and an expression of pain was on her brows for a moment.

'I can only stay a few minutes,' she said, bending with a faint
smile towards Dora, as soon as they were alone. 'I have come on
my way from the Museum.'

'Where you have tired yourself to death as usual, I can see.'

'No; I have done scarcely anything. I only pretended to read; my
mind is too much troubled. Have you heard anything about my
uncle's will?'

'Nothing whatever.'

'I thought it might have been spoken of in Wattleborough, and
some friend might have written to you. But I suppose there has
hardly been time for that. I shall surprise you very much. Father
receives nothing, but I have a legacy of five thousand pounds.'

Dora kept her eyes down.

'Then--what do you think?' continued Marian. 'My cousin Amy has
ten thousand pounds.'

'Good gracious! What a difference that will make!'

'Yes, indeed. And her brother John has six thousand. But nothing
to their mother. There are a good many other legacies, but most
of the property goes to the Wattleborough park--"Yule Park" it
will be called--and to the volunteers, and things of that kind.
They say he wasn't as rich as people thought.'

'Do you know what Miss Harrow gets?'

'She has the house for her life, and fifteen hundred pounds.'

'And your father nothing whatever?'

'Nothing. Not a penny. Oh I am so grieved! I think it so unkind,
so wrong. Amy and her brother to have sixteen thousand pounds and
father nothing! I can't understand it. There was no unkind

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