Part 10 out of 12
'Brute of a girl! I hate you!'
'Tell me who found me.'
'I shan't. You shut your peepers.'
The other and younger girl sung out: 'I found you.'
Kiomi sent a volley at her.
'I did,' said the girl; 'yes, and I nursed you first, I did; and mother
doctored you. Kiomi hasn't been here a day.'
The old mother came out of the tent. She felt my pulse, and forthwith
squatted in front of me. 'You're hard to kill, and oily as a bean,' said
she. 'You've only to lie quiet in the sun like a handsome gentleman; I'm
sure you couldn't wish for more. Air and water's the doctor for such as
you. You've got the bound in you to jump the ditch: don't you fret at
it, or you'll lose your spring, my good gentleman.'
'Leave off talking to me as a stranger,' I bawled. 'Out with it; why
have you kept me here? Why did your men pitch into me?'
'OUR men, my good gentleman!' the old woman ejaculated. There was
innocence indeed! sufficient to pass the whole tribe before a bench of
magistrates. She wheedled: 'What have they against a handsome gentleman
like you? They'd run for you fifty mile a day, and show you all their
tricks and secrets for nothing.'
My despot Kiomi fired invectives at her mother. The old mother retorted;
the girl joined in. All three were scowling, flashing, showing teeth,
driving the wordy javelin upon one another, indiscriminately, or two to
one, without a pause; all to a sound like the slack silver string of the
I sang out truce to them; they racked me with laughter; and such
laughter!--the shaking of husks in a half-empty sack.
Ultimately, on a sudden cessation of the storm of tongues, they agreed
that I must have my broth.
Sheer weariness, seasoned with some hope that the broth would give me
strength to mount on my legs and walk, persuaded me to drink it. Still
the old mother declared that none of her men would ever have laid hands
on me. Why should they? she asked. What had I done to them? Was it
Kiomi's arms tightened over my breast. The involuntary pressure was like
an illumination to me.
No longer asking for the grounds of the attack on a mistaken person,
and bowing to the fiction that none of the tribe had been among my
assailants, I obtained information. The girl Eveleen had spied me
entering Durstan. Quite by chance, she was concealed near Bulsted Park
gates when the groom arrived and told the lodge-keeper that Mr. Harry
Richmond was coming up over the heath, and might have lost his way.
'Richmond!' the girl threw a world of meaning into the unexpected name.
Kiomi clutched me to her bosom, but no one breathed the name we had in
Eveleen and the old mother had searched for me upon the heath, and having
haled me head and foot to their tent, despatched a message to bring Kiomi
down from London to aid them in their desperate shift. They knew Squire
Beltham's temper. He would have scattered the tribe to the shores of the
kingdom at a rumour of foul play to his grandson. Kiomi came in time to
smuggle me through an inspection of the tent and cross-examination of its
ostensible denizens by Captain Bulsted, who had no suspicions, though he
was in a state of wonderment. Hearing all this, I was the first to say
it would be better I should get out of the neighbourhood as soon as my
legs should support me. The grin that goes for a laugh among gipsies
followed my question of how Kiomi had managed to smuggle me. Eveleen was
my informant when the dreaded Kiomi happened to be off duty for a minute.
By a hasty transformation, due to a nightcap on the bandages about the
head, and an old petticoat over my feet, Captain William's insensible
friend was introduced to him as the sore sick great-grandmother of the
tribe, mother of Kiomi's mother, aged ninety-one. The captain paid like
a man for doctor and burial fees; he undertook also to send the old lady
a pound of snuff to assist her to a last sneeze or two on the right side
of the grave, and he kept his word; for, deeming it necessary to paint
her in a characteristic, these prodigious serpents told him gravely that
she delighted in snuff; it was almost the only thing that kept her alive,
barring a sip of broth. Captain William's comment on the interesting
piece of longevity whose well-covered length and framework lay exposed to
his respectful contemplation, was, that she must have been a devilish
fine old lady in her day. 'Six foot' was given as her measurement.
One pound of snuff, a bottle of rum, and five sovereigns were the fruits
of the captain's sensibility. I shattered my ribs with laughter over the
story. Eveleen dwelt on the triumph, twinkling. Kiomi despised laughter
or triumph resulting from the natural exercise of craft in an emergency.
'But my handsome gentleman he won't tell on us, will he, when we've
nursed him and doctored him, and made him one of us, and as good a stick
o' timber as grows in the forest?' whined the old mother. I had to swear
I would not.
'He!' cried Kiomi.
'He may forget us when he's gone,' the mother said. She would have liked
me to kiss a book to seal the oath. Anxiety about the safety of their
'homes,' that is, the assurance of an untroubled reception upon their
customary camping-ground, is a peculiarity of the gipsies, distinguishing
them, equally with their cleanliness and thriftiness, from mumpers and
the common wanderers.
It is their tribute to civilization, which generally keeps them within
Who that does not know them will believe that under their domestic system
I had the best broth and the best tea I have ever tasted! They are very
cunning brewers and sagacious buyers too; their maxims show them to
direct all their acuteness upon obtaining quality for their money. A
compliment not backed by silver is hardly intelligible to the pretty
ones: money is a really credible thing to them; and when they have it,
they know how to use it. Apparently because they know so well, so
perfectly appreciating it, they have only vague ideas of a corresponding
sentiment on the opposite side to the bargain, and imagine that they fool
people much more often than they succeed in doing. Once duped
themselves, they are the wariest of the dog-burnt; the place is notched
where it occurred, and for ever avoided. On the other hand, they repose
implicit faith in a reputation vouched for by their experience. I was
amused by the girl Eveleen's dotting of houses over the breadth of five
counties, where for this and that article of apparel she designed to
expend portions of a golden guinea, confident that she would get the very
best, and a shilling besides. The unwonted coin gave her the joy of
supposing she cheated the Mint of that sum. This guinea was a present to
the girl (to whom I owed my thrashing, by the way) that excused itself
under cover of being a bribe for sight of a mirror interdicted by the
implacable Kiomi. I wanted to have a look at my face. Now that the
familiar scenes were beginning to wear their original features to me, my
dread of personal hideousness was distressing, though Eveleen declared
the bad blood in my cheeks and eyes 'had been sucked by pounds of red
meat.' I wondered, whether if I stood up and walked to either one of the
three great halls lying in an obtuse triangle within view, I should
easily be recognized. When I did see myself, I groaned verily. With the
silence of profound resignation, I handed back to Eveleen the curious
fragment of her boudoir, which would have grimaced at Helen of Troy.
'You're feeling your nose--you've been looking at a glass!' Kiomi said,
with supernatural swiftness of deduction on her return.
She added for my comfort that nothing was broken, but confessed me to be
still 'a sight'; and thereupon drove knotty language at Eveleen. The
girl retorted, and though these two would never acknowledge to me that
any of their men had been in this neighbourhood recently, the fact was
treated as a matter of course in their spiteful altercation, and each
saddled the other with the mistake they had committed. Eveleen snatched
the last word. What she said I did not comprehend, she must have hit
hard. Kiomi's eyes lightened, and her lips twitched; she coloured like
the roofing smoke of the tent fire; twice she showed her teeth, as in a
spasm, struck to the heart, unable to speak, breathing in and out of a
bitterly disjoined mouth. Eveleen ran. I guessed at the ill-word
spoken. Kiomi sat eyeing the wood-ashes, a devouring gaze that shot
straight and read but one thing. They who have seen wild creatures die
will have her before them, saving the fiery eyes. She became an ashen-
colour, I took her little hand. Unconscious of me, her brown fingers
clutching at mine, she flung up her nostrils, craving air.
This was the picture of the woman who could not weep in her misery.
'Kiomi, old friend!' I called to her. I could have cursed that other
friend, the son of mischief; for she, I could have sworn, had been
fiercely and wantonly hunted. Chastity of nature, intense personal
pride, were as proper to her as the free winds are to the heaths: they
were as visible to dull divination as the milky blue about the iris of
her eyeballs. She had actually no animal vileness, animal though she
might be termed, and would have appeared if compared with Heriot's
admirable Cissies and Gwennies, and other ladies of the Graces that run
to fall, and spend their pains more in kindling the scent of the huntsman
than in effectively flying.
There was no consolation for her.
The girl Eveleen came in sight, loitering and looking, kicking her idle
Kiomi turned sharp round to me.
'I'm going. Your father's here, up at Bulsted. I'll see him. He won't
tell. He'll come soon. You'll be fit to walk in a day. You're sound as
a nail. Goodbye--I shan't say good-bye twice,' she answered my attempt
to keep her, and passed into the tent, out of which she brought a small
bundle tied in a yellow handkerchief, and walked away, without nodding or
'What was that you said to Kiomi?' I questioned Eveleen, who was quickly
She replied, accurately or not: 'I told her our men'd give her as good as
she gave me, let her wait and see.'
Therewith she pouted; or, to sketch her with precision, 'snouted' would
better convey the vivacity of her ugly flash of features. It was an
error in me to think her heartless. She talked of her aunt Kiomi
affectionately, for a gipsy girl, whose modulated tones are all addressed
to the soft public. Eveleen spoke with the pride of bated breath of the
ferocious unforgivingness of their men. Perhaps if she had known that I
traced the good repute of the tribes for purity to the sweeter instincts
of the women, she would have eulogized her sex to amuse me. Gipsy girls,
like other people, are fond of showing off; but it would have been a
victory of education to have helped her to feel the distinction of the
feminine sense of shame half as awfully and warmly as she did the
inscrutable iron despotism of the males. She hinted that the mistake of
which I had been the victim would be rectified.
'Tell your men I'll hunt them down like rats if I hear of it,' said I.
While we were conversing my father arrived. Eveleen, not knowing him,
would have had me accept the friendly covering of a mat.
'Here 's a big one! he's a clergyman,' she muttered to herself, and ran
to him and set up a gipsy whine, fronting me up to the last step while
she advanced; she only yielded ground to my outcry.
My father bent over me. Kiomi had prepared him for what he saw. I
quieted his alarm by talking currently and easily. Julia Bulsted had
despatched a messenger to inform him of my mysterious disappearance; but
he, as his way was, revelling in large conjectures, had half imagined me
seized by a gust of passion, and bound for Germany. 'Without my
luggage?' I laughed.
'Ay, without your luggage, Richie,' he answered seriously. His conceit
of a better knowledge of me than others possessed, had buoyed him up.
'For I knew,' he said, 'we two do nothing like the herd of men.
I thought you were off to her, my boy. Now!' he looked at me, and this
look of dismay was a perfect mirror. I was not a presentable object.
He stretched his limbs on the heather and kept hold of my hand, looking
and talking watchfully, doctor-like, doubting me to be as sound in body
as I assured him I was, despite aches and pains. Eveleen hung near.
'These people have been kind to you?' he said.
'No, the biggest brutes on the earth,' said I.
'Oh! you say that, when I spotted you out in the dark where you might
have lied to be eaten, and carried you and washed your bloody face, and
watched you, and never slept, I didn't, to mother you and wet your head!'
cried the girl.
My father beckoned to her and thanked her appreciably in the yellow
'So these scoundrels of the high road fell upon you and robbed you,
'You let him think they robbed you, and you had your purse to give me a
gold guinea out of it!' Eveleen cried, and finding herself in the wrong
track, volubly resumed: 'That they didn't, for they hadn't time, whether
they meant to, and the night black as a coal, whoever they were.'
The mystery of my not having sent word to Bulsted or to Riversley
perplexed my father.
'Comfortable here!' he echoed me, disconsolately, and glanced at the
heath, the tent, the black circle of the broth-pot, and the wild girl.
MY FATHER ACTS THE CHARMER AGAIN
Kiomi's mother was seen in a turn of the gravel-cutting, bearing
purchases from Durstan village. She took the new circumstances in with a
single cast up of her wary eyelids; and her, and her skill in surgery and
art in medicine, I praised to lull her fears, which procured me the
denomination of old friend, as well as handsome gentleman: she went so
far as to add, in a fit of natural warmth, nice fellow; and it is the
truth, that this term effected wonders in flattering me: it seemed to
reveal to me how simple it was for Harry Richmond, one whom gipsies could
think a nice fellow, to be the lord of Janet's affections--to be her
husband. My heart throbbed; yet she was within range of a mile and a
half, and I did not wish to be taken to her. I did wish to smell the
piney air about the lake-palace; but the thought of Ottilia caused me no
My father remained an hour. He could not perceive the drift of my
objection to go either to Bulsted or to Riversley, and desire that my
misadventure should be unknown at those places. However, he obeyed me,
as I could always trust him to do scrupulously, and told a tale at
Bulsted. In the afternoon he returned in a carriage to convey me to the
seaside. When I was raised I fainted, and saw the last of the camp on
Durstan much as I had come to it first. Sickness and swimming of the
head continued for several days. I was persecuted with the sensation of
the carriage journey, and an iteration of my father's that ran: 'My son's
inanimate body in my arms,' or 'Clasping the lifeless body of my sole
son, Harry Richmond,' and other variations. I said nothing about it.
He told me aghast that I had spat blood. A battery of eight fists,
having it in the end all its own way, leaves a deeper indentation on its
target than a pistol-shot that passes free of the vital chords. My
convalescence in Germany was a melody compared with this. I ought to
have stopped in the tent, according to the wise old mother's advice,
given sincerely, for prudence counselled her to strike her canvas and be
gone. There I should have lain, interested in the progress of a bee, the
course of a beetle or a cloud, a spider's business, and the shaking of
the gorse and the heather, until good health had grown out of
thoughtlessness. The very sight of my father was as a hive of humming
His intense anxiety about me reflected in my mind the endless worry I had
concerning him. It was the intellect which condemned him when he wore a
joyful air, and the sensations when he waxed over-solicitous. Whether or
not the sentences were just, the judges should have sometimes shifted
places. I was unable to divine why he fevered me so much. Must I say
it?--He had ceased to entertain me. Instead of a comic I found him a
tragic spectacle; and his exuberant anticipations, his bursting hopes
that fed their forcing-bed with the blight and decay of their
predecessors, his transient fits of despair after a touch at my pulses,
and exclamation of 'Oh, Richie, Richie, if only I had my boy up and
well!'--assuming that nothing but my tardy recovery stood in the way of
our contentment--were examples of downright unreason such as
contemplation through the comic glass would have excused; the tragic
could not. I knew, nevertheless, that to the rest of the world he was a
progressive comedy: and the knowledge made him seem more tragic still.
He clearly could not learn from misfortune; he was not to be contained.
Money I gave him freely, holding the money at my disposal his own; I
chafed at his unteachable spirit, surely one of the most tragical things
in life; and the proof of my love for him was that I thought it so,
though I should have been kinder had he amused me, as in the old days.
Conceive to yourself the keeping watch over a fountain choked in its
spouting, incessantly labouring to spin a jet into the air; now for a
moment glittering and towering in a column, and once more straining to
mount. My father appeared to me in that and other images. He would have
had me believe him shooting to his zenith, victorious at last. I
likewise was to reap a victory of the highest kind from the attack of the
mysterious ruffians; so much; he said, he thought he could assure me of.
He chattered of an intimidated Government, and Dettermain and Newson;
duchesses, dukes, most friendly; innumerable invitations to country
castles; and among other things one which really showed him to be capable
of conceiving ideas and working from an initiative. But this, too,
though it accomplished a temporary service, he rendered illusory to me by
his unhappy manner of regarding it as an instance of his now permanent
social authority. He had instituted what he called his JURY OF HONOUR
COURT, composed of the select gentlemen of the realm, ostensibly to weigh
the causes of disputes between members of their class, and decree the
method of settlement: but actually, my father admitted, to put a stop to
the affair between Edbury and me.
'That was the origin of the notion, Richie. I carried it on. I dined
some of the best men of our day. I seized the opportunity when our
choicest "emperor" was rolling on wheels to propound my system. I
mention the names of Bramham DeWitt, Colonel Hibbert Segrave, Lord Alonzo
Carr, Admiral Loftus, the Earl of Luton, the Marquis of Hatchford, Jack
Hippony, Monterez Williams,--I think you know him?--and little Dick
Phillimore, son of a big-wig, a fellow of a capital wit and discretion;
I mention them as present to convince you we are not triflers, dear boy.
My argument ran, it is absurd to fight; also it is intolerable to be
compelled to submit to insult. As the case stands, we are under a
summary edict of the citizens, to whom chivalry is unknown. Well, well,
I delivered a short speech. Fighting, I said, resembled butting,--
a performance proper to creatures that grow horns instead of brains . .
not to allude to a multitude of telling remarks; and the question "Is man
a fighting animal?" my answer being that he is not born with spurs on
his heels or horns to his head and that those who insisted on fighting
should be examined by competent anatomists, "ologists" of some sort, to
decide whether they have the excrescences, and proclaim them . . .
touching on these lighter parts of my theme with extreme delicacy. But--
and here I dwelt on my point: Man, if not a fighting animal in his
glorious--I forgot what--is a sensitive one, and has the idea of honour.
"Hear," from Colonel Segrave, and Sir Weeton Slaterhe was one of the
party. In fine, Richie, I found myself wafted into a breathing oration.
I cannot, I confess it humbly, hear your "hear, hear," without going up
and off, inflated like a balloon. "Shall the arbitration of the
magistracy, indemnifications in money awarded by the Law-courts, succeed
in satisfying,"--but I declare to you, Richie, it was no platform speech.
I know your term--"the chaincable sentence." Nothing of the kind,
I assure you. Plain sense, as from gentlemen to gentlemen. We require,
I said, a protection that the polite world of Great Britain does not now
afford us against the aggressions of the knave, the fool, and the brute.
We establish a Court. We do hereby--no, no, not the "hereby"; quite
simply, Richie--pledge ourselves--I said some other word not "pledge" to
use our utmost authority and influence to exclude from our circles
persons refusing to make the reparation of an apology for wanton common
insults: we renounce intercourse with men declining, when guilty of
provoking the sentiment of hostility, to submit to the jurisdiction of
our Court. All I want you to see is the notion. We raise the shield
against the cowardly bully which the laws have raised against the bloody
one. "And gentlemen,"' my father resumed his oration, forgetting my
sober eye for a minute--'"Gentlemen, we are the ultimate Court of Appeal
for men who cherish their honour, yet abstain from fastening it like a
millstone round the neck of their common-sense." Credit me, Richie,
the proposition kindled. We cited Lord Edbury to appear before us,
and I tell you we extracted an ample apology to you from that young
nobleman. And let me add, one that I, that we, must impose it upon an
old son to accept. He does! Come, come. And you shall see, Richie,
society shall never repose an inert mass under my leadership. I cure it;
I shake it and cure it.'
He promenaded the room, repeating: 'I do not say I am possessed of a
panacea,' and bending to my chin as he passed; 'I maintain that I can and
do fulfil the duties of my station, which is my element, attained in the
teeth of considerable difficulties, as no other man could, be he prince
or Prime Minister. Not one,' he flourished, stepping onward. 'And mind
you, Richie, this,' he swung round, conscious as ever of the critic in
me, though witless to correct his pomp of style, 'this is not self-
glorification. I point you facts. I have a thousand schemes--projects.
I recognize the value of early misfortune. The particular misfortune of
princes born is that they know nothing of the world--babies! I grant
you, babies. Now, I do. I have it on my thumbnail. I know its wants.
And just as I succeeded in making you a member of our Parliament in
assembly, and the husband of an hereditary princess--hear me--so will I
make good my original determination to be in myself the fountain of our
social laws, and leader. I have never, I believe--to speak
conscientiously--failed in a thing I have once determined on.'
The single wish that I might be a boy again, to find pleasure in his
talk, was all that remained to combat the distaste I had for such
oppressive deliveries of a mind apparently as little capable of being
seated as a bladder charged with gas. I thanked him for getting rid of
Edbury, and a touch of remorse pricked me, it is true, on his turning
abruptly and saying: 'You see me in my nakedness, Richie. To you and my
valet, the heart, the body!' He was too sympathetic not to have a keen
apprehension of a state of hostility in one whom he loved. If I had
inclined to melt, however, his next remark would have been enough to
harden me: 'I have fought as many battles, and gained as startling
victories as Napoleon Buonaparte; he was an upstart.' The word gave
me a jerk.
Sometimes he would indulge me transparently in a political controversy,
confessing that my dialectical dexterity went far to make a Radical of
him. I had no other amusement, or I should have held my peace. I tried
every argument I could think of to prove to him that there was neither
honour, nor dignity, nor profit in aiming at titular distinctions not
forced upon us by the circumstances of our birth. He kept his position
with much sly fencing, approaching shrewdness; and, whatever I might say,
I could not deny that a vile old knockknee'd world, tugging its forelock
to the look of rank and chink of wealth, backed him, if he chose to be
insensible to radical dignity.
'In my time,' said he, 'all young gentlemen were born Tories. The doctor
no more expected to see a Radical come into the world from a good family
than a radish. But I discern you, my dear boy. Our reigning Families
must now be active; they require the discipline I have undergone; and I
also dine at aldermen's tables, and lay a foundation-stone--as Jorian
says--with the facility of a hen-mother: that should not suffice them.
'Tis not sufficient for me. I lay my stone, eat my dinner, make my
complimentary speech--and that is all that is expected of us; but I am
fully aware we should do more. We must lead, or we are lost. Ay, and--
to quote you a Lord Mayor's barge is a pretty piece of gilt for the
festive and luxurious to run up the river Thames in and mark their swans.
I am convinced there is something deep in that. But what am I to do?
Would you have me frown upon the people? Richie, it is prudent--
I maintain it righteous, nay, it is, I affirm positively, sovereign
wisdom--to cultivate every flower in the British bosom. Riposte me--have
you too many? Say yes, and you pass my guard. You cannot. I fence you
there. This British loyalty is, in my estimation, absolutely beautiful.
We grow to a head in our old England. The people have an eye! I need no
introduction to them. We reciprocate a highly cordial feeling when they
line the streets and roads with respectful salutations, and I acknowledge
their demonstrative goodwill. These things make us a nation. By heaven,
Richie, you are, on this occasion, if your dad may tell you so, wrong.
I ask pardon for my bluntness; but I put it to you, could we, not
travelling as personages in our well-beloved country, count on civility
to greet us everywhere? Assuredly not. My position is, that by
consenting to their honest enthusiasm, we the identical effect you are
perpetually crying out for--we civilize them, we civilize them.
Goodness!--a Great Britain without Royalty!'
He launched on a series of desolate images. In the end, he at least
persuaded himself that he had an idea in his anxiety to cultivate the
primary British sentiment.
We moved from town to town along the South coast; but it was vain to hope
we might be taken for simple people. Nor was he altogether to blame,
except in allowing the national instinct for 'worship and reverence' to
air itself unrebuked. I fled to the island. Temple ran down to meet me
there, and I heard that Janet had written to him for news of me. He
entered our hotel a private person; when he passed out, hats flew off
before him. The modest little fellow went along a double line of
attentive observers on the pier, and came back, asking me in astonishment
who he was supposed to be.
'I petitioned for privacy here!' exclaimed my father. It accounted for
Temple knew my feelings, and did but glance at me.
Close upon Temple's arrival we had a strange couple of visitors.
'Mistress Dolly Disher and her husband,' my father introduced them. She
called him by one of his Christian names inadvertently at times. The
husband was a confectioner, a satisfied shade of a man who reserved the
exercise of his will for his business, we learnt; she, a bustling, fresh-
faced woman of forty-five, with still expressive dark eyes, and, I
guessed, the ideal remainder of a passion in her bosom. The guess was no
great hazard. She was soon sitting beside me, telling me of the 'years'
she had known my father, and of the most affectionate friend and perfect
gentleman he was of the ladies who had been in love with him; 'no
wonder': and of his sorrows and struggles, and his beautiful voice, and
hearts that bled for him; and of one at least who prayed and trusted he
would be successful at last.
Temple and the pallid confectioner spent the day on board a yacht with my
father. Mrs. Dolly stayed to nurse me and persuade me to swallow
medicine. She talked of her youth, when, as a fashionable bootmaker's
daughter, she permitted no bills to be sent in to Mr. Richmond, alleging,
as a sufficient reason for it to her father, that their family came from
Richmond in Yorkshire. Eventually, the bills were always paid. She had
not been able to manage her husband so well; and the consequence was,
that (she breathed low) an execution was out; 'though I tell him,'
she said tremulously, 'he 's sure to be paid in the long run, if only
he'll wait. But no; he is you cannot think how obstinate in his
business. And my girl Augusta waiting for Mr. Roy Richmond, the wish of
our hearts! to assist at her wedding; and can we ask it, and have an
execution hanging over him? And for all my husband's a guest here, he's
as likely as not to set the officers at work, do what I will, to-morrow
or any day. Your father invited us, Mr. Harry. I forced my husband to
come, hoping against hope; for your papa gave the orders, relying on me,
as he believed he might, and my husband undertook them, all through me.
There it stops; he hears reports, and he takes fright: in goes the bill:
then it's law, and last Oh! I'm ashamed.'
Mr. Disher's bill was for supplying suppers to the Balls. He received my
cheque for the amount in full, observing that he had been confident his
wife was correct when she said it would be paid, but a tradesman's
business was to hasten the day of payment; and, for a penance, he himself
would pacify the lawyers.
On hearing of the settlement of Mr. Disher's claim, my father ahem'd,
speechless, which was a sign of his swallowing vexation. He remarked
that I had, no doubt with the best intentions, encroached on his liberty.
'I do not like to have my debts disturbed.' He put it to me, whether a
man, carrying out a life-long plan, would not be disconcerted by the
friendliest intervention. This payment to Disher he pronounced fatal in
policy. 'You have struck a heavy blow to my credit, Richie. Good little
Mistress Dolly brought the man down here--no select addition to our
society--and we were doing our utmost to endure him, as the ladies say,
for the very purpose . . . but the error stands committed! For the
future, friend Disher will infallibly expect payments within the year.
Credit for suppers is the guarantee of unlimited entertainments. And I
was inspiring him with absolute confidence for next year's campaign.
Money, you are aware, is no longer a question to terrify me. I hold
proofs that I have conclusively frightened Government, and you know it.
But this regards the manipulation of the man Disher. He will now dictate
to me. A refresher of a few hundreds would have been impolitic to this
kind of man; but the entire sum! and to a creditor in arms! You reverse
the proper situations of gentleman and tradesman. My supperman, in
particular, should be taught to understand that he is bound up in my
success. Something frightened him; he proceeded at law; and now we have
shown him that he has frightened us. An execution? My dear boy, I have
danced an execution five years running, and ordered, consecutively, at
the same house. Like other matters, an execution depends upon how you
treat it. The odds are that we have mortally offended Mistress Dolly.'
He apologized for dwelling on the subject, with the plea that it was an
essential part of his machinery of action, and the usual comparison of
'the sagacious General' whose forethought omitted no minutiae. I had to
The lady professed to be hurt. The payment, however, put an end to the
visit of this couple. Politic or not, it was a large sum to disburse,
and once more my attention became fixed on the probable display of
figures in my bankers' book. Bonds and bills were falling due: the
current expenses were exhausting. I tried to face the evil, and take a
line of conduct, staggering, as I did on my feet. Had I been well
enough, I believe I should have gone to my grandfather, to throw myself
on his good-nature; such was the brain's wise counsel: but I was all
nerves and alarms, insomuch that I interdicted Temple's writing to Janet,
lest it should bring on me letters from my aunt Dorothy, full of advice
that could no longer be followed, well-meant cautions that might as well
be addressed to the mile-posts behind me. Moreover, Janet would be
flying on the wind to me, and I had a craving for soft arms and the look
of her eyebrows, that warned me to keep her off if I intended to act as
became a man of good faith.
Fair weather, sunny green sea-water speckled with yachts shooting and
bounding, and sending me the sharp sense of life there is in dashed-up
fountains of silvery salt-spray, would have quickened my blood sooner but
for this hot-bed of fruitless adventure, tricksy precepts, and wisdom
turned imp, in which my father had again planted me. To pity him seemed
a childish affectation. His praise of my good looks pleased me, for on
that point he was fitted to be a judge, and I was still fancying I had
lost them on the heath. Troops of the satellites of his grand parade
surrounded him. I saw him walk down the pier like one breaking up a
levee. At times he appeared to me a commanding phantasm in the midst of
phantasm figures of great ladies and their lords, whose names he told off
on his return like a drover counting his herd; but within range of his
eye and voice the reality of him grew overpowering. It seduced me, and,
despite reason, I began to feel warm under his compliments. He was like
wine. Gaiety sprang under his feet. Sitting at my window, I thirsted to
see him when he was out of sight, and had touches of the passion of my
I listened credulously, too, as in the old days, when he repeated, 'You
will find I am a magician, and very soon, Richie, mark me.' His manner
hinted that there was a surprise in store. 'You have not been on the
brink of the grave for nothing.' He resembled wine in the other
conditions attached to its rare qualities. Oh for the choice of having
only a little of him, instead of having him on my heart! The unfilial
wish attacked me frequently: he could be, and was, so ravishing to
strangers and light acquaintances. Did by chance a likeness exist
between us? My sick fancy rushed to the Belthams for a denial. There
did, of some sort, I knew; and the thought partitioned my dreamy ideas,
of which the noblest, taking advantage of my physical weakness, compelled
me to confess that it was a vain delusion for one such as I to hope for
Ottilia. This looking at the roots of yourself, if you are possessed of
a nobler half that will do it, is a sound corrective of an excessive
ambition. Unfortunately it would seem that young men can do it only in
sickness. With the use of my legs, and open-air breathing, I became
compact, and as hungry and zealous on behalf of my individuality, as
proud of it as I had ever been: prouder and hungrier.
My first day of outing, when, looking at every face, I could reflect on
the miraculous issue of mine almost clear from its pummelling, and above
all, that my nose was safe--not stamped with the pugilist's brand--
inspired a lyrical ebullition of gratitude. Who so intoxicated as the
convalescent catching at health?
I met Charles Etherell on the pier, and heard that my Parliamentary seat
was considered in peril, together with a deal of gossip about my
My father, who was growing markedly restless, on the watch for letters
and new arrivals, started to pay Chippenden a flying visit. He begged me
urgently to remain for another few days, while he gathered information,
saying my presence at his chief quarters did him infinite service, and I
always thought that possible. I should find he was a magician, he
repeated, with a sort of hesitating fervour.
I had just waved my hand to him as the boat was bearing him away from the
pier-head, when a feminine voice murmured in my ear, 'Is not this our
third meeting, Mr. Harry Richmond?--Venice, Elbestadt, and the Isle of
Wight?' She ran on, allowing me time to recognize Clara Goodwin. 'What
was your last adventure? You have been ill. Very ill? Has it been
I made light of it. 'No: a tumble.'
'You look pale,' she said quickly.
'That's from grieving at the loss of my beauty, Miss Goodwin.'
'Have you really not been seriously ill?' she asked with an astonishing
I told her mock-loftily that I did not believe in serious illnesses
coming to godlike youth, and plied her in turn with inquiries.
'You have not been laid up in bed?' she persisted.
'No, on my honour, not in bed.'
'Then,' said she, 'I would give much to be able to stop that boat.'
She amazed me. 'Why?'
'Because it's going on a bad errand,' she replied.
'Miss Goodwin, you perplex me. My father has started in that boat.'
'Yes, I saw him.' She glanced hastily at the foam in a way to show
indifference. 'What I am saying concerns others . . . who have heard
you were dangerously ill. I have sent for them to hasten across.'
'My aunt and Miss Ilchester?'
'Who are they? Miss Goodwin, I'll answer any question. I've been
queerish, that's true. Now let me hear who they are, when you arrived,
when you expect them. Where are they now?'
'As to me,' she responded with what stretched on my ears like an
insufferable drawl, 'I came over last night to hire a furnished house or
lodgings. Papa has an appointment attached to the fortifications yonder.
We'll leave the pier, if you please. You draw too much attention on
ladies who venture to claim acquaintance with so important a gentleman.'
We walked the whole length of the pier, chatting of our former meetings.
'Not here,' she said, as soon as I began to question.
I was led farther on, half expecting that the accessories of time and
place would have to do with the revelation.
The bitter creature drew me at her heels into a linendraper's shop.
There she took a seat, pitched her voice to the key of a lady's at a
dinner-table, when speaking to her cavalier of the history or attire of
some one present, and said, 'You are sure the illness was not at all
She had me as completely at her mercy in this detestable shop as if I had
been in a witness-box.
'Feigned!' I exclaimed.
'That is no answer. And pray remember where you are.'
'No, the illness was not feigned.'
'And you have not made the most of it?'
'What an extraordinary thing to say!'
'That is no answer. And please do not imagine yourself under the
necessity of acting every sentiment of your heart before these people.'
She favoured a shopman with half-a-dozen directions.
'My answer is, then, that I have not made the most of it,' I said.
'Not even by proxy?'
'Once more I'm adrift.'
'You are certainly energetic. I must address you as a brother, or it
will be supposed we are quarrelling. Harry, do you like that pattern?'
'Yes. What's the meaning of proxy?'
'With the accent you give it, heaven only knows what it means. I would
rather you did not talk here like a Frenchman relating his last love-
affair in company.
Must your voice escape control exactly at the indicatory words? Do you
think your father made the most of it?'
'Of my illness? Oh! yes; the utmost. I should undoubtedly think so.
That's his way.'
'Why did you permit it?'
'I was what they call "wandering" half the time. Besides, who could keep
him in check? I rarely know what he is doing.'
'You don't know what he wrote?'
'That you were dying.'
'Of me? To whom?'
She scrutinized me, and rose from her chair. 'I must try some other
shop. How is it, that if these English people cannot make a "berthe" fit
to wear, they do not conceive the idea of importing such things from
Paris? I will take your arm, Harry.'
'You have bought nothing,' I remarked.
'I have as much as I went for,' she replied, and gravely thanked the
assistant leaning on his thumbs across the counter; after which, dropping
the graceless play of an enigma, she inquired whether I had forgotten the
Frau von Dittmarsch.
I had, utterly; but not her maiden name of Sibley.
'Miss Goodwin, is she one of those who are coming to the island?'
'Frau von Dittmarsch? Yes. She takes an interest in you. She and I
have been in correspondence ever since my visit to Sarkeld. It reminds
me, you may vary my maiden name with the Christian, if you like. Harry,
I believe you are truthful as ever, in spite--'
'Don't be unjust,' said I.
'I wish I could think I was!' she rejoined. 'Frau von Dittmarsch was at
Sarkeld, and received terrible news of you. She called on me, at my
father's residence over the water yonder, yesterday afternoon, desiring
greatly to know--she is as cautious as one with a jewel in her custody--
how it fared with you, whether you were actually in a dying state. I
came here to learn; I have friends here: you were not alone, or I should
have called on you. The rumour was that you were very ill; so I hired a
furnished place for Frau von Dittmarsch at once. But when I saw you and
him together, and the parting between you, I began to have fears;
I should have countermanded the despatch I sent by the boat, had it been
'It has gone! And tell me the name of the other.'
'Frau von Dittmarsch has a husband.'
'Not with her now. Oh! cruel! speak: her name?'
'Her name, Harry?' Her title is Countess von Delzenburg.'
'Not in England.'
Then Ottilia was here!
My father was indeed a magician!
THE PRINCESS ENTRAPPED
'Not princess in England,' could betoken but one thing--an incredible act
of devotion, so great that it stunned my senses, and I thought of it, and
of all it involved, before the vision of Ottilia crossing seas took
possession of me.
'The Princess Ottilia, Miss Goodwin?'
'The Countess of Delzenburg, Harry.'
'To see me? She has come!'
'Harry, you talk like the boy you were when we met before you knew her.
Yes and yes to everything you have to say, but I think you should spare
'She comes thinking me ill?'
'I'm as strong as ever I was.'
'I should imagine you are, only rather pale.'
'Have you, tell me, Clara, seen her yourself? Is she well?'
'Pale: not unwell: anxious.'
'It may be about the political affairs of the Continent; they are
'She spoke of me?'
'She is coming by the next boat?'
'It's my fear that she is.'
'Why do you fear?'
'Shall I answer you, Harry? It is useless now. Well, because she has
been deceived. That is why. You will soon find it out.'
'Prince Ernest is at Sarkeld?'
'In Paris, I hear.'
'How will your despatch reach these ladies in time for them to come over
by the next boat?'
'I have sent my father's servant. The General--he is promoted at last,
Harry--attends the ladies in person, and is now waiting for the boat's
arrival over there, to follow my directions.'
'You won't leave me?'
Miss Goodwin had promised to meet the foreign ladies on the pier. We
quarrelled and made it up a dozen times like girl and boy, I calling her
aunt Clara, as in the old days, and she calling me occasionally son
Richie: an imitation of my father's manner of speech to me when we formed
acquaintance first in Venice. But I was very little aware of what I was
saying or doing. The forces of my life were yoked to the heart, and
tumbled as confusedly as the world under Phaethon charioteer. We walked
on the heights above the town. I looked over the water to the white line
of shore and batteries where this wonder stood, who was what poets dream
of, deep-hearted men hope for, none quite believe in. Hardly could I;
and though my relenting spinster friend at my elbow kept assuring me it
was true that she was there, my sceptical sight fixed on the stale
prominences visible in the same features which they had worn day after
empty day of late. This deed of hers was an act of devotion great as
death. I knew it from experience consonant to Ottilia's character; but
could a princess, hereditary, and bound in the league of governing
princes, dare so to brave her condition? Complex of mind, simplest in
character, the uncontrollable nobility of her spirit was no sooner
recognized by me than I was shocked throughout by a sudden light,
contrasting me appallingly with this supreme of women, who swept the
earth aside for truth. I had never before received a distinct intimation
of my littleness of nature, and my first impulse was to fly from thought,
and then, as if to prove myself justly accused, I caught myself
regretting--no, not regretting, gazing, as it were, on a picture of
regrets--that Ottilia was not a romantic little lady of semi-celestial
rank, exquisitely rash, wilful, desperately enamoured, bearing as many
flying hues and peeps of fancy as a love-ballad, and not more roughly
brushing the root-emotions.
If she had but been such an one, what sprightly colours, delicious
sadness, magical transformations, tenderest intermixture of earth and
heaven; what tears and sunbeams, divinest pathos: what descents from
radiance to consolatory twilight, would have surrounded me for poetry and
pride to dwell on! What captivating melody in the minor key would have
been mine, though I lost her--the legacy of it all for ever! Say a
petulant princess, a star of beauty, mad for me, and the whisper of our
passion and sorrows traversing the flushed world! Was she coming? Not
she, but a touchstone, a relentless mirror, a piercing eye, a mind severe
as the Goddess of the God's head: a princess indeed, but essentially a
princess above women: a remorseless intellect, an actual soul visible in
the flesh. She was truth. Was I true? Not so very false, yet how far
from truth! The stains on me (a modern man writing his history is
fugitive and crepuscular in alluding to them, as a woman kneeling at the
ear-guichet) burnt like the blood-spots on the criminal compelled to
touch his victim by savage ordinance, which knew the savage and how to
search him. And these were faults of weakness rather than the sins of
strength. I might as fairly hope for absolution of them from Ottilia as
from offended laws of my natural being, gentle though she was, and
Was I not guilty of letting her come on to me hoodwinked at this moment?
I had a faint memory of Miss Goodwin's saying that she had been deceived,
and I suggested a plan of holding aloof until she had warned the princess
of my perfect recovery, to leave it at her option to see me.
'Yes,' Miss Goodwin assented: 'if you like, Harry.'
Her compassion for me only tentatively encouraged the idea. 'It would,
perhaps, be right. You are the judge. If you can do it. You are acting
bravely.' She must have laughed at me in her heart.
The hours wore on. My curse of introspection left me, and descending
through the town to the pier, amid the breezy blue skirts and bonnet-
strings, we watched the packet-boat approaching. There was in advance
one of the famous swift island wherries. Something went wrong with it,
for it was overtaken, and the steamer came in first. I jumped on board,
much bawled at. Out of a crowd of unknown visages, Janet appeared: my
aunt Dorothy was near her. The pair began chattering of my paleness, and
wickedness in keeping my illness unknown to them. They had seen Temple
on an excursion to London; he had betrayed me, as he would have betrayed
an archangel to Janet.
'Will you not look at us, Harry?' they both said.
The passengers were quitting the boat, strangers every one.
'Harry, have we really offended you in coming?' said Janet.
My aunt Dorothy took the blame on herself.
I scarcely noticed them, beyond leading them on to the pier-steps and
leaving them under charge of Miss Goodwin, who had, in matters of luggage
and porterage, the practical mind and aplomb of an Englishwoman that has
passed much of her time on the Continent. I fancied myself vilely duped
by this lady. The boat was empty of its passengers; a grumbling pier-
man, wounded in his dignity, notified to me that there were fines for
disregard of the Company's rules and regulations. His tone altered; he
touched his hat: 'Didn't know who you was, my lord.' Janet overheard him,
and her face was humorous.
'We may break the rules, you see,' I said to her.
'We saw him landing on the other side of the water,' she replied; so
spontaneously did the circumstance turn her thoughts on my father.
'Did you speak to him?'
'You avoided him?'
'Aunty and I thought it best. He landed . . . there was a crowd.'
Miss Goodwin interposed: 'You go to Harry's hotel?'
'Grandada is coming down to-morrow or next day,' Janet prompted my aunt
'If we could seek for a furnished house; Uberly would watch the luggage,'
Dorothy murmured in distress.
'Furnished houses, even rooms at hotels, are doubtful in the height of
the season,' Miss Goodwin remarked. 'Last night I engaged the only
decent set of rooms I could get, for friends of Harry's who are coming.'
'No wonder he was disappointed at seeing us--he was expecting them!' said
Janet, smiling a little.
'They are sure to come,' said Miss Goodwin.
Near us a couple of yachtsmen were conversing.
'Oh, he'll be back in a day or two,' one said. 'When you 've once tasted
that old boy, you can't do without him. I remember when I was a
youngster--it was in Lady Betty Bolton's day; she married old Edbury, you
know, first wife--the Magnificent was then in his prime. He spent his
money in a week: so he hired an eighty-ton schooner; he laid violent
hands on a Jew, bagged him, lugged him on board, and sailed away.'
'What the deuce did he want with a Jew?' cried the other.
'Oh, the Jew supplied cheques for a three months' cruise in the
Mediterranean, and came home, I heard, very good friends with his pirate.
That's only one of dozens.'
The unconscious slaughterers laughed.
'On another occasion'--I heard it said by the first speaker, as they
swung round to parade the pier, and passed on narrating.
'Not an hotel, if it is possible to avoid it,' my aunt Dorothy, with
heightened colour, urged Miss Goodwin. They talked together.
'Grandada is coming to you, Harry,' Janet said. 'He has business in
London, or he would have been here now. Our horses and carriages follow
us: everything you would like. He does love you! he is very anxious.
I'm afraid his health is worse than he thinks. Temple did not say your
father was here, but grandada must have suspected it when he consented to
our coming, and said he would follow us. So that looks well perhaps.
He has been much quieter since your money was paid back to you. If they
should meet . . . no, I hope they will not: grandada hates noise.
And, Harry, let me tell you: it may be nothing: if he questions you, do
not take fire; just answer plainly: I'm sure you understand. One in a
temper at a time I'm sure 's enough: you have only to be patient with
him. He has been going to London, to the City, seeing lawyers, bankers,
brokers, and coming back muttering. Ah! dear old man. And when he
ought to have peace! Harry, the poor will regret him in a thousand
places. I write a great deal for him now, and I know how they will.
What are you looking at?'
I was looking at a man of huge stature, of the stiffest build, whose
shoulders showed me their full breadth while he stood displaying
frontwards the open of his hand in a salute.
'Schwartz!' I called. Janet started, imagining some fierce interjection.
The giant did not stir.
But others had heard. A lady stepped forward. 'Dear Mr. Harry Richmond!
Then you are better? We had most alarming news of you.'
I bowed to the Frau von Dittmarsch, anciently Miss Sibley.
'She is here.'
Frau von Dittmarsch clasped Miss Goodwin's hand. I was touching
Ottilia's. A veil partly swathed her face. She trembled: the breeze
robbed me of her voice.
Our walk down the pier was almost in silence. Miss Goodwin assumed the
guardianship of the foreign ladies. I had to break from them and provide
for my aunt Dorothy and Janet.
'They went over in a little boat, they were so impatient. Who is she?'
Dorothy Beltham asked.
'The Princess Ottilia,' said Janet.
'Are you certain? Is it really, Harry?'
I confirmed it, and my aunt said, 'I should have guessed it could be no
other; she has a foreign grace.'
'General Goodwin was with them when the boat came in from the island,'
said Janet. 'He walked up to Harry's father, and you noticed, aunty,
that the ladies stood away, as if they wished to be unobserved, as we
did, and pulled down their veils. They would not wait for our boat. We
passed them crossing. People joked about the big servant over-weighing
Dorothy Beltham thought the water too rough for little boats.
'She knows what a sea is,' I said.
Janet gazed steadily after the retreating figures, and then commended me
to the search for rooms. The end of it was that I abandoned my father's
suite to them. An accommodating linen-draper possessed of a sea-view,
and rooms which hurled the tenant to the windows in desire for it, gave
Till dusk I scoured the town to find Miss Goodwin, without whom there was
no clue to the habitation I was seeking, and I must have passed her
blindly again and again. My aunt Dorothy and Janet thanked me for my
consideration in sitting down to dine with them; they excused my haste to
retire. I heard no reproaches except on account of my not sending them
word of my illness. Janet was not warm. She changed in colour and voice
when I related what I had heard from Miss Goodwin, namely, that 'some
one' had informed the princess I was in a dying state. I was obliged to
offer up my father as a shield for Ottilia, lest false ideas should
tarnish the image of her in their minds. Janet did not speak of him.
The thought stood in her eyes; and there lies the evil of a sore subject
among persons of one household: they have not to speak to exhibit their
After a night of suspense I fell upon old Schwartz and Aennchen out in
the earliest dawn, according to their German habits, to have a gaze at
sea, and strange country and people. Aennchen was all wonder at the
solitary place, Schwartz at the big ships. But when they tried to direct
me to the habitation of their mistress, it was discovered by them that
they had lost their bearings. Aennchen told me the margravine had been
summoned to Rippau just before they left Sarkeld. Her mistress had
informed Baroness Turckems of her intention to visit England. Prince
Ernest was travelling in France.
The hour which brought me to Ottilia was noon. The arrangements of the
ladies could only grant me thirty minutes, for Janet was to drive the
princess out into the country to view the island. She and my aunt
Dorothy had been already introduced. Miss Goodwin, after presenting
them, insisted upon ceremoniously accompanying me to the house. Quite
taking the vulgar view of a proceeding such as the princess had been
guilty of, and perhaps fearing summary audacity and interestedness in the
son of a father like mine, she ventured on lecturing me, as though it lay
with me to restrain the fair romantic head, forbear from calling up my
special advantages, advise, and stand to the wisdom of this world, and be
the man of honour. The princess had said: 'Not see him when I have come
to him?' I reassured my undiscerning friend partly, not wholly.
'Would it be commonly sensible or civil, to refuse to see me, having
Miss Goodwin doubted.
I could indicate forcibly, because I felt, the clear-judging brain and
tempered self-command whereby Ottilia had gained her decision.
Miss Goodwin nodded and gave me the still-born affirmative of politeness.
Her English mind expressed itself willing to have exonerated the rash
great lady for visiting a dying lover, but he was not the same person now
that he was on his feet, consequently her expedition wore a different
aspect:--my not dying condemned her. She entreated me to keep the fact
of the princess's arrival unknown to my father, on which point we were
one. Intensely enthusiastic for the men of her race, she would have me,
above all things, by a form of adjuration designed to be a masterpiece of
persuasive rhetoric, 'prove myself an Englishman.' I was to show that
'the honour, interests, reputation and position of any lady (demented or
not,' she added) 'were as precious to me as to the owner': that 'no woman
was ever in peril of a shadow of loss in the hands of an English
gentleman,' and so forth, rather surprisingly to me, remembering her off-
hand manner of the foregoing day. But the sense of responsibility thrown
upon her ideas of our superior national dignity had awakened her fervider
naturalness--made her a different person, as we say when accounting, in
our fashion, for what a little added heat may do.
The half hour allotted to me fled. I went from the room and the house,
feeling that I had seen and heard her who was barely of the world of
humankind for me, so strongly did imagination fly with her. I kissed her
fingers, I gazed in her eyes, I heard the beloved voice. All passed too
swift for happiness. Recollections set me throbbing, but recollection
brought longing. She said, 'Now I have come I must see you, Harry.'
Did it signify that to see me was a piece of kindness at war with her
judgement? She rejoiced at my perfect recovery, though it robbed her of
the plea in extenuation of this step she had taken. She praised me for
abstaining to write to her, when I was stammering a set of hastily-
impressed reasons to excuse myself for the omission. She praised my step
into Parliament. It did not seem to involve a nearer approach to her.
She said, 'You have not wasted your time in England.' It was for my
solitary interests that she cared, then.
I brooded desperately. I could conceive an overlooking height that made
her utterance simple and consecutive: I could not reach it. Topics which
to me were palpitating, had no terror for her. She said, 'I have
offended my father; I have written to him; he will take me away.'
In speaking of the letter which had caused her to offend, she did not
blame the writer. I was suffered to run my eyes over it, and was
ashamed. It read to me too palpably as an outcry to delude and draw her
hither:--pathos and pathos: the father holding his dying son in his arms,
his sole son, Harry Richmond; the son set upon by enemies in the night:
the lover never daring to beg for a sight of his beloved ere he passed
away:--not an ill-worded letter; read uncritically, it may have been
touching: it must have been, though it was the reverse for me.
I frowned, broke down in regrets, under sharp humiliation.
She said, 'You knew nothing of it. A little transgression is the real
offender. When we are once out of the way traced for us, we are in
danger of offending at every step; we are as lawless as the outcasts.'
That meant, 'My turning aside to you originally was the blameable thing.'
It might mean, 'My love of you sets my ideas of duty at variance with my
She smiled; nothing was uttered in a tone of despondency. Her high
courage and breeding gave her even in this pitfall the smoothness which
most women keep for society. Why she had not sent me any message or
tidings of herself to Riversley was not a matter that she could imagine
to perplex me: she could not imagine my losing faith in her. The least
we could do, I construed it, the religious bond between us was a faith in
one another that should sanctify to our souls the external injuries it
caused us to commit. But she talked in no such strain. Her delight in
treading English ground was her happy theme. She said, 'It is as young
as when we met in the forest'; namely, the feeling revived for England.
How far off we were from the green Devonshire coast, was one of her
questions, suggestive of our old yacht-voyage lying among her dreams.
Excepting an extreme and terrorizing paleness, there was little to fever
me with the thought that she suffered mortally. Of reproach, not a word;
nor of regret. At the first touch of hands, when we stood together,
alone, she said, 'Would hearing of your recovery have given me peace?'
My privileges were the touch of hands, the touch of her fingers to my
lips, a painless hearing and seeing, and passionate recollection. She
said, 'Impatience is not for us, Harry': I was not to see her again
before the evening. These were the last words she said, and seemed the
lightest until my hot brain made a harvest of them transcending thrice-
told vows of love. Did they not mean, 'We two wait': therefore, 'The
years are bondmen to our stedfastness.' Could sweeter have been said?
They might mean nothing!
She was veiled when Janet drove her out; Janet sitting upright in
her masterly way, smoothing her pet ponies with the curl of her whip,
chatting and smiling; the princess slightly leaning back. I strode up
to the country roads, proud of our land's beauty under a complacent sky.
By happy chance, which in a generous mood I ascribed to Janet's good
nature, I came across them at a seven miles' distance. They were talking
spiritedly: what was wonderful, they gave not much heed to me: they
seemed on edge for one another's conversation: each face was turned to
the other's, and after nodding an adieu, they resumed the animated
discourse. I had been rather in alarm lest Ottilia should think little
of Janet. They passed out of sight without recurring to a thought of me
In the evening I was one among a group of ladies. I had the opportunity
of hearing the running interchange between Ottilia and Janet, which
appeared to be upon equal terms; indeed, Janet led. The subjects were
not very deep. Plain wits, candour, and an unpretending tongue, it
seemed, could make common subjects attractive, as fair weather does our
English woods and fields. The princess was attracted by something in
Janet. I myself felt the sway of something, while observing Ottilia's
rapt pleasure in her talk and her laughter, with those funny familiar
frowns and current dimples twisting and melting away like a play of
shadows on the eddies of the brook.
'I 'm glad to be with her,' Janet said of Ottilia.
It was just in that manner she spoke in Ottilia's presence. Why it
should sound elsewhere unsatisfactorily blunt, and there possess a
finished charm, I could not understand.
I mentioned to Janet that I feared my father would be returning.
She contained herself with a bridled 'Oh!'
We were of one mind as to the necessity for keeping him absent, if
'Harry, you'll pardon me; I can't talk of him,' said she.
I proposed half-earnestly to foil his return by going to London at once.
'That's manly; that's nice of you,' Janet said.
This was on our walk from the house at night. My aunt Dorothy listened,
pressing my arm. The next morning Janet urged me to go at once. 'Keep
him away, bring down grandada, Harry. She cannot quit the island,
because she has given Prince Ernest immediate rendezvous here. You must
not delay to go. Yes, the Countess of Delzenburg shall have your
excuses. And no, I promise you I will run nobody down. Besides, if I
do, aunty will be at hand to plead for the defence, and she can! She has
a way that binds one to accept everything she says, and Temple ought to
study with her for a year or two before he wears his gown. Bring him
back with you and grandada. He is esteemed here at his true worth. I
love him for making her in love with English boys. I leave the men for
those who know them, but English boys are unrivalled, I declare.
Honesty, bravery, modesty, and nice looks! They are so nice in their
style and their way of talking. I tell her, our men may be shy and
sneering,--awkward, I daresay; but our boys beat the world. Do bring
down Temple. I should so like her to see a cricket-match between two
good elevens of our boys, Harry, while she is in England! We could have
arranged for one at Riversley.'
I went, and I repressed the idea, on my way, that Janet had manoeuvred by
sending me off to get rid of me, but I felt myself a living testimony to
her heartlessness: for no girl of any heart, acting the part of friend,
would have allowed me to go without a leave-taking of her I loved few
would have been so cruel as to declare it a duty to go at all, especially
when the chances were that I might return to find the princess wafted
away. Ottilia's condescension had done her no good. 'Turn to the right,
that's your path; on.' She seemed to speak in this style, much as she
made her touch of the reins understood by her ponies. 'I 'll take every
care of the princess,' she said. Her conceit was unbounded. I revelled
in contemptuous laughter at her assumption of the post of leader with
Ottilia. However, it was as well that I should go: there was no trusting
WHICH FORESHADOWS A GENERAL GATHERING
At our Riversley station I observed the squire, in company with Captain
Bulsted, jump into a neighbouring carriage. I joined them, and was
called upon to answer various inquiries. The squire gave me one of his
short tight grasps of the hand, in which there was warmth and shyness,
our English mixture. The captain whispered in my ear: 'He oughtn't to be
'How's the great-grandmother of the tribe?' said I.
Captain Bulsted nodded, as if he understood, but was at sea until I
mentioned the bottle of rum and the remarkable length of that old lady's
'Ay, to be sure! a grand old soul,' he said. 'You know that scum of
I laughed, and so did he, at which I laughed the louder.
'He laughs, I suppose, because his party's got a majority in the House,'
said the squire.
'We gave you a handsome surplus this year, sir.'
'Sweated out of the country's skin and bone, ay!'
'You were complimented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.!
'Yes, that fellow's compliments are like a cabman's, and cry fool:--he
never thanks you but when he's overpaid.'
Captain Bulsted applauded the sarcasm.
'Why did you keep out of knowledge all this time, Hal?' my grandfather
I referred him to the captain.
'Hang it,' cried Captain Bulsted, 'do you think I'd have been doing duty
for you if I'd known where to lay hold of you.'
'Well, if you didn't shake hands with me, you touched my toes,' said I,
and thanked him with all my heart for his kindness to an old woman on the
point of the grave. I had some fun to flavour melancholy with.
My grandfather resumed his complaint: 'You might have gone clean off, and
we none the wiser.'
'Are we quite sure that his head's clean on?' said the mystified captain.
'Of course we should run to him, wherever he was, if he was down on his
back,' the squire muttered.
'Ay, ay, sir; of course,' quoth Captain William, frowning to me to
reciprocate this relenting mood. 'But, Harry, where did you turn off
that night? We sat up expecting you. My poor Julia was in a terrible
fright, my lad. Eh? speak up.'
I raised the little finger.
'Oh, oh,' went he, happily reassured; but, reflecting, added: 'A bout of
I dropped him a penitent nod.
'That's bad, though,' said he.
'Then why did you tip me a bottle of rum, Captain William?'
'By George, Harry, you've had a crack o' the sconce,' he exclaimed, more
sagaciously than he was aware of.
My grandfather wanted to keep me by his side in London until we two
should start for the island next day; but his business was in the city,
mine toward the West. We appointed to meet two hours after reaching the
He turned to me while giving directions to his man.
'You 've got him down there, I suppose?'
'My father's in town, sir. He shall keep away,' I said.
'Humph! I mayn't object to see him.'
This set me thinking.
Captain Bulsted--previously asking me in a very earnest manner whether I
was really all right and sound--favoured me with a hint:
'The squire has plunged into speculations of his own, or else he is
peeping at somebody else's. No danger of the dad being mixed up with
Companies? Let's hope not. Julia pledged her word to Janet that I would
look after the old squire. I suppose I can go home this evening? My
girl hates to be alone.'
'By all means,' said I; and the captain proposed to leave the squire at
his hotel, in the event of my failing to join him in the city.
'But don't fail, if you can help it,' he urged me; 'for things somehow,
my dear Harry, appear to me to look like the compass when the needle
gives signs of atmospheric disturbance. My only reason for saying so is
common observation. You can judge for yourself that he is glad to have
you with him.'
I told the captain I was equally glad; for, in fact, my grandfather's
quietness and apparently friendly disposition tempted me to petition for
a dower for the princess at once, so that I might be in the position to
offer Prince Ernest on his arrival a distinct alternative; supposing--
it was still but a supposition--Ottilia should empower me. Incessant
dialogues of perpetually shifting tendencies passed between Ottilia and
me in my brain--now dark, now mildly fair, now very wild, on one side at
least. Never, except by downright force of will, could I draw from the
phantom of her one purely irrational outcry, so deeply-rooted was the
knowledge of her nature and mind; and when I did force it, I was no
gainer: a puppet stood in her place--the vision of Ottilia melted out in
threads of vapour.
'And yet she has come to me; she has braved everything to come.' I might
say that, to liken her to the women who break rules and read duties by
their own light, but I could not cheat my knowledge of her. Mrs. Waddy
met me in the hall of my father's house, as usual, pressing, I regretted
to see, one hand to her side. 'Her heart,' she said, 'was easily set
pitty-pat now.' She had been, by her master's orders, examined by two of
the chief physicians of the kingdom, 'baronets both.' They advised total
rest. As far as I could apprehend, their baronetcies and doings in high
regions had been of more comfort than their prescriptions.
'What I am I must be,' she said, meekly; 'and I cannot quit his service
till he's abroad again, or I drop. He has promised me a monument. I
don't want it; but it shows his kindness.'
A letter from Heriot informed me that the affair between Edbury and me
was settled: he could not comprehend how.
'What is this new Jury of Honour? Who are the jurymen?' he asked, and
I thanked him for a thrashing in a curt reply.
My father had left the house early in the morning. Mrs. Waddy believed
that he meant to dine that evening at the season's farewell dinner of the
Trump-Trick Club: 'Leastways, Tollingby has orders to lay out his
gentlemen's-dinners' evening-suit. Yesterday afternoon he flew down to
Chippenden, and was home late. To-day he's in the City, or one of the
squares. Lady Edbury's--ah! detained in town with the jaundice or
toothache. He said he was sending to France for a dentist: or was it
Germany, for some lady's eyes? I am sure I don't know. Well or ill, so
long as you're anything to him, he will abound. Pocket and purse! You
know him by this time, Mr. Harry. Oh, my heart!'
A loud knock at the door had brought on the poor creature's palpitations.
This visitor was no other than Prince Ernest. The name on his card was
Graf von Delzenburg, and it set my heart leaping to as swift a measure as
Hearing that I was in the house, he desired to see me.
We met, with a formal bow.
'I congratulate you right heartily upon being out of the list of the
nekron,' he said, civilly. 'I am on my way to one of your watering-
places, whither my family should have preceded me. Do you publish the
names and addresses of visitors daily, as it is the custom with us?'
I relieved his apprehensions on that head: 'Here and there, rarely; and
only at the hotels, I believe.' The excuse was furnished for offering
the princess's address.
'Possibly, in a year or two, we may have the pleasure of welcoming you at
Sarkeld,' said the prince, extending his hand. 'Then, you have seen the
Countess of Delzenburg?'
'On the day of her arrival, your Highness. Ladies of my family are
staying on the island.'
He paused, and invited me to bow to him. We bowed thus in the room, in
the hall, and at the street-door.
For what purpose could he have called on my father? To hear the worst at
once? That seemed likely, supposing him to have lost his peculiar
confidence in the princess, of which the courtly paces he had put me
through precluded me from judging.
But I guessed acutely that it was not his intention to permit of my
meeting Ottilia a second time. The blow was hard: I felt it as if it had
been struck already, and thought I had gained resignation, until, like a
man reprieved on his road to execution, the narrowed circle of my heart
opened out to the breadth of the world in a minute. Returning from the
city, I hurried to my father's house, late in the afternoon, and heard
that he had started to overtake the prince, leaving word that the prince
was to be found at his address in the island. No doubt could exist
regarding the course I was bound to take. I drove to my grandfather,
stated my case to him, and by sheer vehemence took the wind out of his
sails; so that when I said, 'I am the only one alive who can control my
father,' he answered mildly, 'Seems t' other way,' and chose a small
snort for the indulgence of his private opinion.
'What! this princess came over alone, and is down driving out with my
girl under an alias?' he said, showing sour aversion at the prospect of a
collision with the foreign species, as expressive as the ridge of a cat's
Temple came to dine with us, so I did not leave him quite to himself, and
Temple promised to accompany him down to the island.
'Oh, go, if you like,' the fretted old man dismissed me:
'I've got enough to think over. Hold him fast to stand up to me within
forty-eight hours, present time; you know who I mean; I've got a question
or two for him. How he treats his foreign princes and princesses don't
concern me. I'd say, like the Prevention-Cruelty-Animal's man to the
keeper of the menagerie, "Lecture 'em, wound their dignity, hurt their
feelings, only don't wop 'em." I don't wish any harm to them, but what
the deuce they do here nosing after my grandson! . . . There, go; we
shall be having it out ha' done with to-morrow or next day. I've run the
badger to earth, else I'm not fit to follow a scent.'
He grumbled at having to consume other than his Riversley bread, butter,
beef, and ale for probably another fortnight. One of the boasts of
Riversley was, that while the rest of the world ate and drank poison,
the Grange lived on its own solid substance, defying malefactory Radical
Temple was left to hear the rest. He had the sweetest of modest wishes
for a re-introduction to Ottilia.
WE ARE ALL IN MY FATHER'S NET
Journeying down by the mail-train in the face of a great sunken sunset
broken with cloud, I chanced to ask myself what it was that I seriously
desired to have. My purpose to curb my father was sincere and good; but
concerning my heart's desires, whitherward did they point? I thought of
Janet--she made me gasp for air; of Ottilia, and she made me long for
earth. Sharp, as I write it, the distinction smote me. I might have
been divided by an electrical shot into two halves, with such an equal
force was I drawn this way and that, pointing nowhither. To strangle the
thought of either one of them was like the pang of death; yet it did not
strike me that I loved the two: they were apart in my mind, actually as
if I had been divided. I passed the Riversley station under sombre
sunset fires, saddened by the fancy that my old home and vivacious Janet
were ashes, past hope. I came on the smell of salt air, and had that
other spirit of woman around me, of whom the controlled seadeeps were an
image, who spoke to my soul like starlight. Much wise counsel, and
impatience of the wisdom, went on within me. I walked like a man with a
yawning wound, and had to whip the sense of passion for a drug. Toward
which one it strove I know not; it was blind and stormy as the night.
Not a boatman would take me across. The lights of the island lay like a
crown on the water. I paced the ramparts, eyeing them, breathing the
keen salt of thundering waves, until they were robbed of their magic by
the coloured Fast.
It is, I have learnt, out of the conflict of sensations such as I then
underwent that a young man's brain and morality, supposing him not to
lean overmuch to sickly sentiment, becomes gradually enriched and
strengthened, and himself shaped for capable manhood. I was partly
conscious of a better condition in the morning; and a sober morning it
was to me after my long sentinel's step to and fro. I found myself
possessed of one key--whether the right one or not--wherewith to read the
princess, which was never possible to me when I was under stress of
passion, or of hope or despair; my perplexities over what she said, how
she looked, ceased to trouble me. I read her by this strange light: that
she was a woman who could only love intelligently--love, that is, in the
sense of giving herself. She had the power of passion, and it could be
stirred; but he who kindled it wrecked his chance if he could not stand
clear in her intellect's unsparing gaze. Twice already she must have
felt herself disillusioned by me. This third time, possibly, she blamed
her own fatally credulous tenderness, not me; but it was her third
awakening, and could affection and warmth of heart combat it? Her
child's enthusiasm for my country had prepared her for the impression
which the waxen mind of the dreamy invalid received deeply; and so, aided
by the emotional blood of youth, she gave me place in her imagination,
probing me still curiously, as I remembered, at a season when her sedate
mind was attaining to joint deliberations with the impulsive overgenerous
Then ensued for her the successive shocks of discernment. She knew the
to have some of the vices, many follies, all the intemperateness of men
who carve a way for themselves in the common roads, if barely they do
that. And resembling common men (men, in a judgement elective as hers,
common, however able), I was not assuredly to be separated by her from my
associations; from the thought of my father, for example. Her look at
him in the lake-palace library, and her manner in unfolding and folding
his recent letter to her, and in one or two necessitated allusions,
embraced a kind of grave, pitiful humour, beyond smiles or any outward
expression, as if the acknowledgement that it was so quite obliterated
the wonder that it should be so--that one such as he could exercise
influence upon her destiny. Or she may have made her reckoning
generally, not personally, upon our human destinies: it is the more
likely, if, as I divine, the calm oval of her lifted eyelids contemplated
him in the fulness of the recognition that this world, of which we hope
unuttered things, can be shifted and swayed by an ignis-fatuus. The
father of one now seen through, could hardly fail of being transfixed
himself. It was horrible to think of. I would rather have added a vice
to my faults than that she should have penetrated him.
Nearing the island, I was reminded of the early morning when I landed on
the Flemish flats. I did not expect a similar surprise, but before my
rowers had pulled in, the tall beaconhead of old Schwartz notified that
his mistress might be abroad. Janet walked with her. I ran up the steps
to salute them, and had Ottilia's hand in mine.
'Prince Ernest has arrived?'
'My father came yesterday evening.'
'Do you leave to-day?'
'I cannot tell; he will decide.'
It seemed a good omen, until I scanned Janet's sombre face.
'You will not see us out for the rest of the day, Harry,' said she.
'That is your arrangement?'
'Mine, if you like.'
There was something hard in her way of speaking, as though she blamed me,
and the princess were under her protection against me. She vouchsafed no
friendly significance of look and tone.
In spite of my readiness to criticize her (which in our language means
condemn) for always assuming leadership with whomsoever she might be, I
was impressed by the air of high-bred friendliness existing between her
and the princess. Their interchange was pleasant to hear. Ottilia had
caught the spirit of her frank manner of speech; and she, though in a
less degree, the princess's fine ease and sweetness. They conversed,
apparently, like equal minds. On material points, Janet unhesitatingly
led. It was she who brought the walk to a close.
'Now, Harry, you had better go and have a little sleep. I should like to
speak to you early.'
Ottilia immediately put her hand out to me.
I begged permission to see her to her door.
Janet replied for her, indicating old Schwartz: 'We have a protector, you
see, six feet and a half.'
An hour later, Schwartz was following her to the steps of her hotel. She
saw me, and waited. For a wonder, she displayed reluctance in
disburdening herself of what she had to say. 'Harry, you know that he
has come? He and Prince Ernest came together. Get him to leave the
island at once: he can return to-morrow. Grandada writes of wishing to
see him. Get him away to-day.'
'Is the prince going to stay here?' I asked.
'No. I daresay I am only guessing; I hope so. He has threatened the
'Oh! Harry, can't you understand? I'm no reader of etiquette, but even
I can see that the story of a young princess travelling over to England
alone to visit . . . and you . . ., and her father fetching her
away! The prince is almost at his mercy, unless you make the man behave
like a gentleman. This is exactly the thing Miss Goodwin feared!'
'But who's to hear of the story?' said I.
Janet gave an impatient sigh.
'Do you mean that my father has threatened to publish it, Janet?'
'I won't say he has. He has made the prince afraid to move: that I think
'Did the princess herself mention it to you?'
'She understands her situation, I am sure.'
'Did she speak of "the man," as you call him?'
'Yes: not as I do. You must try by-and-by to forgive me. Whether he set
a trap or not, he has decoyed her--don't frown at words--and it remains
for you to act as I don't doubt you will; but lose no time. Determine.
Oh! if I were a man!'
'You would muzzle us?'
'Muzzle, or anything you please; I would make any one related to me
behave honourably. I would give him the alternative . . .'
'You foolish girl! suppose he took it?'
'I would make him feel my will. He should not take it. Keep to the
circumstances, Harry. If you have no control over him--I should think I
was not fit to live, in such a position! No control over him at a moment
like this? and the princess in danger of having her reputation hurt!
Surely, Harry! But why should I speak to you as if you were undecided!'
'Where is he?'
'At the house where you sleep. He surrendered his rooms here very
'Aunty has seen him?'
Janet blushed: I thought I knew why. It was for subtler reasons than I
should have credited her with conceiving.
'She sent for him, at my request, late last night. She believed her
influence would be decisive. So do I. She could not even make the man
perceive that he was acting--to use her poor dear old-fashioned word--
reprehensibly in frightening the prince to further your interests. From
what I gathered he went off in a song about them. She said he talked so
well! And aunty Dorothy, too! I should nearly as soon have expected
grandada to come in for his turn of the delusion. How I wish he was
here! Uberly goes by the first boat to bring him down. I feel with Miss
Goodwin that it will be a disgrace for all of us--the country's disgrace.
As for our family! . . . Harry, and your name! Good-bye. Do your
I was in the mood to ask, 'On behalf of the country?' She had, however,
a glow and a ringing articulation in her excitement that forbade
trifling; a minute's reflection set me weighing my power of will against
my father's. I nodded to her.
'Come to us when you are at liberty,' she called.
I have said that I weighed my power of will against my father's.
Contemplation of the state of the scales did not send me striding to meet
him. Let it be remembered--I had it strongly in memory that he
habitually deluded himself under the supposition that the turn of all
events having an aspect of good fortune had been planned by him of old,
and were offered to him as the legitimately-won fruits of a politic life.
While others deemed him mad, or merely reckless, wild, a creature living
for the day, he enjoyed the conceit of being a profound schemer, in which
he was fortified by a really extraordinary adroitness to take advantage
of occurrences: and because he was prompt in an emergency, and quick to
profit of a crisis, he was deluded to imagine that he had created it.
Such a man would be with difficulty brought to surrender his prize.
Again, there was his love for me. 'Pater est, Pamphile;--difficile est.'
How was this vast conceit of a not unreal paternal love to be
encountered? The sense of honour and of decency might appeal to him
personally; would either of them get a hearing if he fancied them to be
standing in opposition to my dearest interests? I, unhappily, as the
case would be sure to present itself to him, appeared the living example
of his eminently politic career. After establishing me the heir of one
of the wealthiest of English commoners, would he be likely to forego any
desperate chance of ennobling me by the brilliant marriage? His dreadful
devotion to me extinguished the hope that he would, unless I should
happen to be particularly masterful in dealing with him. I heard his
nimble and overwhelming volubility like a flood advancing. That could be
withstood, and his arguments and persuasions. But by what steps could I
restrain the man himself? I said 'the man,' as Janet did. He figured in
my apprehensive imagination as an engine more than as an individual.
Lassitude oppressed me. I felt that I required every access of strength
possible, physical besides moral, in anticipation of our encounter, and
took a swim in sea-water, which displaced my drowsy fit, and some
alarming intimations of cowardice menacing a paralysis of the will: I had
not altogether recovered from my gipsy drubbing. And now I wanted to
have the contest over instantly. It seemed presumable that my father had
slept at my lodgings. There, however, the report of him was, that he had
inspected the rooms, highly complimented the owner of them, and vanished.
Returning to the pier, I learnt that he had set sail in his hired yacht
for the sister town on the Solent, at an early hour:--for what purpose?
I knew of it too late to intercept it. One of the squire's horses
trotted me over; I came upon Colonel Hibbert Segrave near the Club-house,
and heard that my father was off again:
'But your German prince and papa-in-law shall be free of the Club for the
next fortnight,' said he, and cordially asked to have the date of the
marriage. My face astonished him. He excused himself for speaking of
this happy event so abruptly. A sting of downright anger drove me back
at a rapid canter. It flashed on me that this Prince Ernest, whose suave
fashion of depressing me, and philosophical skill in managing his
daughter, had induced me to regard him as a pattern of astuteness, was
really both credulous and feeble, or else supremely unsuspecting: and I
was confirmed in the latter idea on hearing that he had sailed to visit
the opposite harbour and docks on board my father's yacht. Janet shared
my secret opinion.
'The prince is a gentleman,' she said.
Her wrath and disgust were unspeakable. My aunt Dorothy blamed her for
overdue severity. 'The prince, I suppose, goes of his own free will
where he pleases.'
Janet burst out, 'Oh! can't you see through it, aunty? The prince goes
about without at all knowing that the person who takes him--Harry sees
it--is making him compromise himself: and by-and-by the prince will
discover that he has no will of his own, whatever he may wish to resolve
'Is he quite against Harry?' asked my aunt Dorothy.
'Dear aunty, he 's a prince, and a proud man. He will never in his
lifetime consent to . . . to what you mean, without being hounded
into it. I haven't the slightest idea whether anything will force him.
I know that the princess would have too much pride to submit, even to
save her name. But it 's her name that 's in danger. Think of the
scandal to a sovereign princess! I know the signification of that now; I
used to laugh at Harry's "sovereign princess." She is one, and thorough!
there is no one like her. Don't you understand, aunty, that the
intrigue, plot--I don't choose to be nice upon terms--may be perfectly
successful, and do good to nobody. The prince may be tricked; the
princess, I am sure, will not.'
Janet's affectation of an intimate and peculiar knowledge of the princess
was a show of her character that I was accustomed to: still, it was
evident they had conversed much, and perhaps intimately. I led her to
tell me that the princess had expressed no views upon my father. 'He
does not come within her scope, Harry.' 'Scope' was one of Janet's new
words, wherewith she would now and then fall to seasoning a serviceable
but savourless outworn vocabulary of the common table. In spite of that
and other offences, rendered prominent to me by the lifting of her lip
and her frown when she had to speak of my father, I was on her side, not
on his. Her estimation of the princess was soundly based. She discerned
exactly the nature of Ottilia's entanglement, and her peril.
She and my aunt Dorothy passed the afternoon with Ottilia, while I
crossed the head of the street, looking down at the one house, where the
princess was virtually imprisoned, either by her father's express
injunction or her own discretion. And it was as well that she should not
be out. The yachting season had brought many London men to the island.
I met several who had not forgotten the newspaper-paragraph assertions
and contradictions. Lord Alton, Admiral Loftus, and others were on the
pier and in the outfitters' shops, eager for gossip, as the languid
stretch of indolence inclines men to be. The Admiral asked me for the
whereabout of Prince Ernest's territory. He too said that the prince
would be free of the Club during his residence, adding:
'Where is he?'--not a question demanding an answer. The men might have
let the princess go by, but there would have been questions urgently
demanding answers had she been seen by their women.
Late in the evening my father's yacht was sighted from the pier. Just as
he reached his moorings, and his boat was hauled round, the last steamer
came in. Sharp-eyed Janet saw the squire on board among a crowd, and
Temple next to him, supporting his arm.
'Has grandada been ill?' she exclaimed.
My chief concern was to see my father's head rising in the midst of the
crowd, uncovering repeatedly. Prince Ernest and General Goodwin were
behind him, stepping off the lower pier-platform. The General did not
look pleased. My grandfather, with Janet holding his arm, in the place
of Temple, stood waiting to see that his man had done his duty by the
My father, advancing, perceived me, and almost taking the squire into his
affectionate salutation, said:
'Nothing could be more opportune than your arrival, Mr. Beltham.'
The squire rejoined: 'I wanted to see you, Mr. Richmond; and not in
'I grant the private interview, sir, at your convenience.'
Janet went up to General Goodwin. My father talked to me, and lost a
moment in shaking Temple's hand and saying kind things.
'Name any hour you please, Mr. Beltham,' he resumed; 'meantime, I shall
be glad to effect the introduction between Harry's grandfather and his
Highness Prince Ernest of Eppenwelzen-Sarkeld.'
He turned. General Goodwin was hurrying the prince up the steps, the
squire at the same time retreating hastily. I witnessed the spectacle of
both parties to the projected introduction swinging round to make their
escape. My father glanced to right and left. He covered in the airiest
fashion what would have been confusion to another by carrying on a jocose
remark that he had left half spoken to Temple, and involved Janet in it,
and soon--through sheer amiable volubility and his taking manner--the
squire himself for a minute or so.
'Harry, I have to tell you she is not unhappy,' Janet whispered rapidly.
'She is reading of one of our great men alive now. She is glad to be on
our ground.' Janet named a famous admiral, kindling as a fiery beacon to
our blood. She would have said more: she looked the remainder; but she
could have said nothing better fitted to spur me to the work she wanted
done. Mournfulness dropped on me like a cloud in thinking of the bright
little princess of my boyhood, and the Ottilia of to-day, faithful to her
early passion for our sea-heroes and my country, though it had grievously
entrapped her. And into what hands! Not into hands which could cast one
ray of honour on a devoted head. The contrast between the sane service--
giving men she admired, and the hopping skipping social meteor, weaver of
webs, thrower of nets, who offered her his history for a nuptial
acquisition, was ghastly, most discomforting. He seemed to have
entangled us all.
He said that he had. He treated me now confessedly as a cipher. The
prince, the princess, my grandfather, and me--he had gathered us
together, he said. I heard from him that the prince, assisted by him in
the part of an adviser, saw no way of cutting the knot but by a marriage.
All were at hand for a settlement of the terms:--Providence and destiny
were dragged in.
'Let's have no theatrical talk,' I interposed.
'Certainly, Richie; the plainest English,' he assented.
This was on the pier, while he bowed and greeted passing figures. I
dared not unlink my arm, for fear of further mischief. I got him to my
rooms, and insisted on his dining there.
'Dry bread will do,' he said.
My anticipations of the nature of our wrestle were correct. But I had
not expected him to venture on the assertion that the prince was for the
marriage. He met me at every turn with this downright iteration. 'The
prince consents: he knows his only chance is to yield. I have him fast.'
'How?' I inquired.
'How, Richie? Where is your perspicuity? I have him here. I loosen a
thousand tongues on him. I--'
'No, not on him; on the princess, you mean.'
'On him. The princess is the willing party; she and you are one. On
him, I say. 'Tis but a threat: I hold it in terrorem. And by heaven,
son Richie, it assures me I have not lived and fought for nothing. "Now
is the day and now is the hour." On your first birthday, my boy, I swore
to marry you to one of the highest ladies upon earth: she was, as it
turns out, then unborn. No matter: I keep my oath. Abandon it? pooh!
you are--forgive me--silly. Pardon me for remarking it, you have not
that dashing courage--never mind. The point is, I have my prince in his
trap. We are perfectly polite, but I have him, and he acknowledges it;
he shrugs: love has beaten him. Very well. And observe: I permit no
squire-of-low-degree insinuations; none of that. The lady--all earthly
blessings on her!--does not stoop to Harry Richmond. I have the
announcement in the newspapers. I maintain it the fruit of a life of
long and earnest endeavour, legitimately won, by heaven it is! and with
the constituted authorities of my native land against me. Your grandad
proposes formally for the princess to-morrow morning.'
He maddened me. Merely to keep him silent I burst out in a flux of
reproaches as torrent-like as his own could be; and all the time I was
wondering whether it was true that a man who talked as he did, in his
strain of florid flimsy, had actually done a practical thing.
The effect of my vehemence was to brace him and make him sedately
emphatic. He declared himself to have gained entire possession of the
prince's mind. He repeated his positive intention to employ his power
for my benefit. Never did power of earth or of hell seem darker to me
than he at that moment, when solemnly declaiming that he was prepared to
forfeit my respect and love, die sooner than 'yield his prince.' He wore
a new aspect, spoke briefly and pointedly, using the phrases of a
determined man, and in voice and gesture signified that he had us all in
a grasp of iron. The charge of his having plotted to bring it about he
accepted with exultation.
'I admit,' he said, 'I did not arrange to have Germany present for a
witness besides England, but since he is here, I take advantage of the
fact, and to-morrow you will see young Eckart down.'
I cried out, as much enraged at my feebleness to resist him, as in
disgust of his unscrupulous tricks.
'Ay, you have not known me, Richie,' said he. 'I pilot you into harbour,
and all you can do is just the creaking of the vessel to me. You are in
my hands. I pilot you. I have you the husband of the princess within
the month. No other course is open to her. And I have the assurance
that she loses nothing by it. She is yours, my son.'
'She will not be. You have wrecked my last chance. You cover me with
'You are a youngster, Richie. 'Tis the wish of her heart. Probably
while you and I are talking it over, the prince is confessing that he has
no escape. He has not a loophole! She came to you; you take her. I am
far from withholding my admiration of her behaviour; but there it is--she
came. Not consent? She is a ruined woman if she refuses!'
'Through you, through you!--through my father!'
'Have you both gone mad?'
'Try to see this,' I implored him. 'She will not be subjected by any
threats. The very whisper of one will make her turn from me . . .'
He interrupted. 'Totally the contrary. The prince acknowledges that you
are master of her affections.'
'Consistently with her sense of honour and respect for us.'
'Tell me of her reputation, Richie.'
'You pretend that you can damage it!'
'Pretend? I pretend in the teeth of all concerned to establish her
happiness and yours, and nothing human shall stop me. I have you
grateful to me before your old dad lays his head on his last pillow.
And that reminds me: I surrender my town house and furniture to you.
Waddy has received the word. By the way, should you hear of a good
doctor for heart-disease, tell me: I have my fears for the poor soul.'
He stood up, saying, 'Richie, I am not like Jorian, to whom a lodging-
house dinner is no dinner, and an irreparable loss, but I must have air.
I go forth on a stroll.'
It was impossible for me to allow it. I stopped him.
We were in the midst of a debate as to his right of personal freedom,
upon the singularity of which he commented with sundry ejaculations, when
Temple arrived and General Goodwin sent up his card. Temple and I left
the general closeted with my father, and stood at the street-door. He
had seen the princess, having at her request been taken to present his
respects to her by Janet. How she looked, what she said, he was dull in
describing; he thought her lively, though she was pale. She had
mentioned my name, 'kindly,' he observed. And he knew, or suspected, the
General to be an emissary from the prince. But he could not understand
the exact nature of the complication, and plagued me with a mixture of
blunt inquiries and the delicate reserve proper to him so much that I had
to look elsewhere for counsel and sympathy. Janet had told him
everything; still he was plunged in wonder, tempting me to think the
lawyer's mind of necessity bourgeois, for the value of a sentiment seemed
to have no weight in his estimation of the case. Nor did he appear
disinclined to excuse my father. Some of his remarks partly swayed me,
in spite of my seeing that they were based on the supposition of an 'all