Part 11 out of 12
for love' adventure of a mad princess. They whispered a little hope,
when I was adoring her passionately for being the reverse of whatever
might have given hope a breath.
General Goodwin, followed by my father, came down and led me aside after
I had warned Temple not to let my father elude him. The General was
greatly ruffled. 'Clara tells me she can rely on you,' he said. 'I am
at the end of my arguments with that man, short of sending him to the
lock-up. You will pardon me, Mr. Harry; I foresaw the scrapes in store
for you, and advised you.'
'You did, General,' I confessed. 'Will you tell me what it is Prince
Ernest is in dread of?'
'A pitiable scandal, sir; and if he took my recommendation, he would find
instant means of punishing the man who dares to threaten him. You know
I explained that I was aware of the threat, not of the degree of the
prince's susceptibility; and asked him if he had seen the princess.
'I have had the honour,' he replied, stiffly. 'You gain nothing with her
by this infamous proceeding.'
I swallowed my anger, and said, 'Do you accuse me, General?'
'I do not accuse you,' he returned, unbendingly. 'You chose your path
some ten or twelve years ago, and you must take the consequences.
I foresaw it; but this I will say, I did not credit the man with his
infernal cleverness. If I speak to you at all, I must speak my mind.
I thought him a mere buffoon and spendthrift, flying his bar-sinister
story for the sake of distinction. He has schemed up to this point
successfully: he has the prince in his toils. I would cut through them,
as I have informed Prince Ernest. I daresay different positions lead to
different reasonings; the fellow appears to have a fascination over him.
Your father, Mr. Harry, is guilty now--he is guilty, I reiterate, now of
a piece of iniquity that makes me ashamed to own him for a countryman.'
The General shook himself erect. 'Are you unable to keep him in?' he
My nerves were pricking and stinging with the insults I had to listen to,
and conscience's justification of them.
He repeated the question.
'I will do what I can,' I said, unsatisfactorily to myself and to him,
for he transposed our situations, telling me the things he would say and
do in my place; things not dissimilar to those I had already said and
done, only more toweringly enunciated; and for that reason they struck me
as all the more hopelessly ineffectual, and made me despair.
My dumbness excited his ire. 'Come,' said he; 'the lady is a spoilt
child. She behaved foolishly; but from your point of view you should
feel bound to protect her on that very account. Do your duty, young
gentleman. He is, I believe, fond of you, and if so, you have him by a
chain. I tell you frankly, I hold you responsible.'
His way of speaking of the princess opened an idea of the world's, in the
event of her name falling into its clutches.
I said again, 'I will do what I can,' and sang out for Temple.
He was alone. My father had slipped from him to leave a card at the
squire's hotel. General Goodwin touched Temple on the shoulder kindly,
in marked contrast to his treatment of me, and wished us good-night.
Nothing had been heard of my father by Janet, but while I was sitting
with her, at a late hour, his card was brought up, and a pencilled
entreaty for an interview the next morning.
'That will suit grandada,' Janet said. 'He commissioned me before going
to bed to write the same for him.'
She related that the prince was in a state of undisguised distraction.
From what I could comprehend--it appeared incredible--he regarded his
daughter's marriage as the solution of the difficulty, the sole way out
of the meshes.
'Is not that her wish?' said Temple; perhaps with a wish of his own.
'Oh, if you think a lady like the Princess Ottilia is led by her wishes,'
said Janet. Her radiant perception of an ideal in her sex (the first she
ever had) made her utterly contemptuous toward the less enlightened.
We appointed the next morning at half-past eleven for my father's visit.
'Not a minute later,' Janet said in my ear, urgently. 'Don't--don't let
him move out of your sight, Harry! The princess is convinced you are
not to blame.'
I asked her whether she had any knowledge of the squire's designs.
'I have not, on my honour,' she answered. 'But I hope . . . It is so
miserable to think of this disgraceful thing! She is too firm to give
way. She does not blame you. I am sure I do not; only, Harry, one
always feels that if one were in another's place, in a case like this,
I could and would command him. I would have him obey me. One is not
born to accept disgrace even from a father. I should say, "You shall not
stir, if you mean to act dishonourably." One is justified, I am sure, in
breaking a tie of relationship that involves you in dishonour. Grandada
has not spoken a word to me on the subject. I catch at straws. This
thing burns me! Oh, good-night, Harry. I can't sleep.'
'Good-night,' she called softly to Temple on the stairs below. I heard
the poor fellow murmuring good-night to himself in the street, and
thought him happier than I. He slept at a room close to the hotel.
A note from Clara Goodwin adjured me, by her memory of the sweet, brave,
gracious fellow she loved in other days, to be worthy of what I had been.
The General had unnerved her reliance on me.
I sat up for my father until long past midnight. When he came his
appearance reminded me of the time of his altercation with Baroness
Turckems under the light of the blazing curtains: he had supped and drunk
deeply, and he very soon proclaimed that I should find him invincible,
which, as far as insensibility to the strongest appeals to him went, he
'Deny you love her, deny she loves you, deny you are one--I knot you
He had again seen Prince Ernest; so he said, declaring that the Prince
positively desired the marriage; would have it. 'And I,' he dramatized
their relative situations, 'consented.'
After my experience of that night, I forgive men who are unmoved by
displays of humour. Commonly we think it should be irresistible. His
description of the thin-skinned sensitive prince striving to run and
dodge for shelter from him, like a fever-patient pursued by a North-
easter, accompanied by dozens of quaint similes full of his mental
laughter, made my loathing all the more acute. But I had not been an
equal match for him previous to his taking wine; it was waste of breath
and heart to contend with him. I folded my arms tight, sitting rigidly
silent, and he dropped on the sofa luxuriously.
'Bed, Richie!' he waved to me. 'You drink no wine, you cannot stand
dissipation as I do. Bed, my dear boy! I am a God, sir, inaccessible to
mortal ailments! Seriously, dear boy, I have never known an illness in
my life. I have killed my hundreds of poor devils who were for imitating
me. This I boast--I boast constitution. And I fear, Richie, you have
none of my superhuman strength. Added to that, I know I am watched over.
I ask--I have: I scheme the tricks are in my hand! It may be the doing
of my mother in heaven; there is the fact for you to reflect on. "Stand
not in my way, nor follow me too far," would serve me for a motto
admirably, and you can put it in Latin, Richie. Bed! You shall turn
your scholarship to account as I do my genius in your interest. On my
soul, that motto in Latin will requite me. Now to bed.'
'No,' said I. 'You have got away from me once. I shall keep you in
sight and hearing, if I have to lie at your door for it. You will go
with me to London to-morrow. I shall treat you as a man I have to guard,
and I shall not let you loose before I am quite sure of you.'
'Loose!' he exclaimed, throwing up an arm and a leg.
'I mean, sir, that you shall be in my presence wherever you are, and I
will take care you don't go far and wide. It's useless to pretend
astonishment. I don't argue and I don't beseech any further: I just sit
on guard, as I would over a powder-cask.'
My father raised himself on an elbow. 'The explosion,' he said,
examining his watch, 'occurred at about five minutes to eleven--we are
advancing into the morning--last night. I received on your behalf the
congratulations of friends Loftus, Alton, Segrave, and the rest, at that
hour. So, my dear Richie, you are sitting on guard over the empty
I listened with a throbbing forehead, and controlled the choking in my
throat, to ask him whether he had touched the newspapers.
'Ay, dear lad, I have sprung my mine in them,' he replied.
'You have sent word--?'
'I have despatched a paragraph to the effect, that the prince and
princess have arrived to ratify the nuptial preliminaries.'
'You expect it to appear this day?'
'Or else my name and influence are curiously at variance with the
confidence I repose in them, Richie.'
'Then I leave you to yourself,' I said. 'Prince Ernest knows he has to
expect this statement in the papers?'
'We trumped him with that identical court-card, Richie.'
'Very well. To-morrow, after we have been to my grandfather, you and I
part company for good, sir. It costs me too much.'
'Dear old Richie,' he laughed, gently. 'And now to bye-bye! My blessing
on you now and always.'
He shut his eyes.
AN ENCOUNTER SHOWING MY FATHER'S GENIUS IN A STRONG LIGHT
The morning was sultry with the first rising of the sun. I knew that
Ottilia and Janet would be out. For myself, I dared not leave the house.
I sat in my room, harried by the most penetrating snore which can ever
have afflicted wakeful ears. It proclaimed so deep-seated a peacefulness
in the bosom of the disturber, and was so arrogant, so ludicrous, and
inaccessible to remonstrance, that it sounded like a renewal of our
midnight altercation on the sleeper's part. Prolonged now and then
beyond all bounds, it ended in the crashing blare whereof utter
wakefulness cannot imagine honest sleep to be capable, but a playful
melody twirled back to the regular note. He was fast asleep on the
sitting-room sofa, while I walked fretting and panting. To this twinship
I seemed condemned. In my heart nevertheless there was a reserve of
wonderment at his apparent astuteness and resolution, and my old love for
him whispered disbelief in his having disgraced me. Perhaps it was
wilful self-deception. It helped me to meet him with a better face.
We both avoided the subject of our difference for some time: he would
evidently have done so altogether, and used his best and sweetest manner
to divert me: but when I struck on it, asking him if he had indeed told
me the truth last night, his features clouded as though with an effort of
patience. To my consternation, he suddenly broke away, with his arms up,
puffing and stammering, stamping his feet. He would have a truce--he
insisted on a truce, I understood him to exclaim, and that I was like a
woman, who would and would not, and wanted a master. He raved of the
gallant down-rightedness of the young bloods of his day, and how
splendidly this one and that had compassed their ends by winning great
ladies, lawfully, or otherwise. For several minutes he was in a state of
frenzy, appealing to his pattern youths of a bygone generation, as to
moral principles--stuttering, and of a dark red hue from the neck to the
temples. I refrained from a scuffle of tongues. Nor did he excuse
himself after he had cooled. His hand touched instinctively for his
pulse, and, with a glance at the ceiling, he exclaimed, 'Good Lord!' and
brought me to his side. 'These wigwam houses check my circulation,' said
he. 'Let us go out-let us breakfast on board.'
The open air restored him, and he told me that he had been merely
oppressed by the architect of the inferior classes, whose ceiling sat on
his head. My nerves, he remarked to me, were very exciteable. 'You
should take your wine, Richie,--you require it. Your dear mother had a
low-toned nervous system.' I was silent, and followed him, at once a
captive and a keeper.
This day of slackened sails and a bright sleeping water kept the
yachtsmen on land; there was a crowd to meet the morning boat. Foremost
among those who stepped out of it was the yellow-haired Eckart, little
suspecting what the sight of him signalled to me. I could scarcely greet
him at all, for in him I perceived that my father had fully committed
himself to his plot, and left me nothing to hope. Eckart said something
of Prince Hermann. As we were walking off the pier, I saw Janet
conversing with Prince Ernest, and the next minute Hermann himself was
one of the group. I turned to Eckart for an explanation.
'Didn't I tell you he called at your house in London and travelled down
with me this morning!' said Eckart.
My father looked in the direction of the princes, but his face was for
the moment no index. They bowed to Janet, and began talking hurriedly in
the triangle of road between her hotel, the pier, and the way to the
villas: passing on, and coming to a full halt, like men who are not
reserving their minds. My father stept out toward them. He was met by
Prince Ernest. Hermann turned his back.
It being the hour of the appointment, I delivered Eckart over to Temple's
safe-keeping, and went up to Janet. 'Don't be late, Harry,' she said.
I asked her if she knew the object of the meeting appointed by my
She answered impatiently, 'Do get him away from the prince.' And then:
'I ought to tell you the princess is well, and so on--pardon me just now:
Grandada is kept waiting, and I don't like it.'
Her actual dislike was to see Prince Ernest in dialogue with my father,
it seemed to me; and the manner of both, which was, one would have said,
intimate, anything but the manner of adversaries. Prince Ernest appeared
to affect a pleasant humour; he twice, after shaking my father's hand,
stepped back to him, as if to renew some impression. Their attitude
declared them to be on the best of terms. Janet withdrew her attentive
eyes from observing them, and threw a world of meaning into her
abstracted gaze at me. My father's advance put her to flight.
Yet she gave him the welcome of a high-bred young woman when he entered
the drawing-room of my grandfather's hotel-suite. She was alone, and she
obliged herself to accept conversation graciously. He recommended her to
try the German Baths for the squire's gout, and evidently amused her with
his specific probations for English persons designing to travel in
company, that they should previously live together in a house with a
collection of undisciplined chambermaids, a musical footman, and a mad
cook: to learn to accommodate their tempers. 'I would add a touch of
earthquake, Miss Ilchester, just to make sure that all the party know one
another's edges before starting.' This was too far a shot of nonsense
for Janet, whose native disposition was to refer to lunacy or stupidity,
or trickery, whatsoever was novel to her understanding. 'I, for my
part,' said he, 'stipulate to have for comrade no man who fancies himself
a born and stamped chieftain, no inveterate student of maps, and no dog
with a turn for feeling himself pulled by the collar. And that reminds
me you are amateur of dogs. Have you a Pomeranian boar-hound?'
'No,' said Janet; 'I have never even seen one'
'That high.' My father raised his hand flat.
'Bigger than our Newfoundlands!'
'Without exaggeration, big as a pony. You will permit me to send you
one, warranted to have passed his distemper, which can rarely be done for
our human species, though here and there I venture to guarantee my man as
well as my dog.'
Janet interposed her thanks, declining to take the dog, but he dwelt on
the dog's charms, his youth, stature, appearance, fitness, and grandeur,
earnestly. I had to relieve her apprehensions by questioning where the
'In Germany,' he said.
It was not improbable, nor less so that the dog was in Pomerania
The entry of my aunt Dorothy, followed by my grandfather, was silent.
'Be seated,' the old man addressed us in a body, to cut short particular
My father overshadowed him with drooping shoulders.
Janet wished to know whether she was to remain.
'I like you by me always,' he answered, bluff and sharp.
'We have some shopping to do,' my aunt Dorothy murmured, showing she was
there against her will.
'Do you shop out of London?' said my father; and for some time he
succeeded in making us sit for the delusive picture of a comfortable
My grandfather sat quite still, Janet next to him. 'When you've
finished, Mr. Richmond,' he remarked.
'Mr. Beltham, I was telling Miss Beltham that I join in the abuse of
London exactly because I love it. A paradox! she says. But we seem to
be effecting a kind of insurance on the life of the things we love best
by crying them down violently. You have observed it? Denounce them--
they endure for ever! So I join any soul on earth in decrying our dear
London. The naughty old City can bear it.'
There was a clearing of throats. My aunt Dorothy's foot tapped the
'But I presume you have done me the honour to invite me to this
conference on a point of business, Mr. Beltham?' said my father,
admonished by the hint.
'I have, sir,' the squire replied.
'And I also have a point. And, in fact, it is urgent, and with your
permission, Mr. Beltham, I will lead the way.'
'No, sir, if you please.
I'm a short speaker, and go to it at once, and I won't detain you a
second after you've answered me.'
My father nodded to this, with the conciliatory comment that it was
The old man drew out his pocket-book.
'You paid a debt,' he said deliberately, 'amounting to twenty-one
thousand pounds to my grandson's account.'
'Oh! a debt! I did, sir. Between father and boy, dad and lad; debts!
. . . but use your own terms, I pray you.'
' I don't ask you where that money is now. I ask you to tell me where
you got it from.'
'You speak bluntly, my dear sir.'
'You won't answer, then?'
'You ask the question as a family matter? I reply with alacrity, to the
best of my ability: and with my hand on my heart, Mr. Beltham, let me
assure you, I very heartily desire the information to be furnished to me.
Or rather--why should I conceal it? The sources are irregular, but a
child could toddle its way to them--you take my indication. Say that I
obtained it from my friends. My friends, Mr. Beltham, are of the kind
requiring squeezing. Government, as my chum and good comrade, Jorian
DeWitt, is fond of saying, is a sponge--a thing that when you dive deep
enough to catch it gives liberal supplies, but will assuredly otherwise
reverse the process by acting the part of an absorbent. I get what I get
by force of arms, or I might have perished long since.'
'Then you don't know where you got it from, sir?'
'Technically, you are correct, sir.'
'A bird didn't bring it, and you didn't find it in the belly of a fish.'
'Neither of these prodigies. They have occurred in books I am bound to
believe; they did not happen to me.'
'You swear to me you don't know the man, woman, or committee, who gave
you that sum?'
'I do not know, Mr. Beltham. In an extraordinary history, extraordinary
circumstances! I have experienced so many that I am surprised at
'You suppose you got it from some fool?'
'Oh! if you choose to indict Government collectively?'
'You pretend you got it from Government?'
'I am termed a Pretender by some, Mr. Beltham. The facts are these: I
promised to refund the money, and I fulfilled the promise. There you
have the only answer I can make to you. Now to my own affair. I come to
request you to demand the hand of the Princess of Eppenwelzen-Sarkeld on
behalf of my son Harry, your grandson; and I possess the assurance of the
prince, her father, that it will be granted. Doubtless you, sir, are of
as old a blood as the prince himself. You will acknowledge that the
honour brought to the family by an hereditary princess is considerable:
it is something. I am prepared to accompany you to his Highness, or not,
as you please. It is but a question of dotation, and a selection from
one or two monosyllables.'
Janet shook her dress.
The squire replied: 'We 'll take that up presently. I haven't quite
done. Will you tell me what agent paid you the sum of money?'
'The usual agent--a solicitor, Mr. Beltham; a gentleman whose business
lay amongst the aristocracy; he is defunct; and a very worthy old
gentleman he was, with a remarkable store of anecdotes of his patrons,
very discreetly told: for you never heard a name from him.'
'You took him for an agent of Government, did you? why?'
'To condense a long story, sir, the kernel of the matter is, that almost
from the hour I began to stir for the purpose of claiming my rights--
which are transparent enough this old gentleman--certainly from no
sinister motive, I may presume--commenced the payment of an annuity; not
sufficient for my necessities, possibly, but warrant of an agreeable sort
for encouraging my expectations; although oddly, this excellent old Mr.
Bannerbridge invariably served up the dish in a sauce that did not agree
with it, by advising me of the wish of the donator that I should abandon
my Case. I consequently, in common with my friends, performed a little
early lesson in arithmetic, and we came to the one conclusion open to
reflective minds--namely, that I was feared.'
My aunt Dorothy looked up for the first time.
'Janet and I have some purchases to make,' she said.
The squire signified sharply that she must remain where she was.
'I think aunty wants fresh air; she had a headache last night,' said
I suggested that, as my presence did not seem to be required, I could
take her on my arm for a walk to the pier-head.
Her face was burning; she would gladly have gone out, but the squire
refused to permit it, and she nodded over her crossed hands, saying that
she was in no hurry.
'Ha! I am,' quoth he.
'Dear Miss Beltham !' my father ejaculated solicitously. 'Here, sir,
oblige me by attending to me,' cried the squire, fuming and blinking.
'I sent for you on a piece of business. You got this money through a
gentleman, a solicitor, named Bannerbridge, did you?'
'His name was Bannerbridge, Mr. Beltham.'
'Dorothy, you knew a Mr. Bannerbridge?'
She faltered: 'I knew him .... Harry was lost in the streets of London
when he was a little fellow, and the Mr. Bannerbridge I knew found him
and took him to his house, and was very kind to him.'
'What was his Christian name?'
I gave them: 'Charles Adolphus.'
'The identical person!' exclaimed my father.
'Oh! you admit it,' said the squire. 'Ever seen him since the time
Harry was lost, Dorothy?'
'Yes,' she answered. 'I have heard he is dead:
'Did you see him shortly before his death?'
'I happened to see him a short time before.!
'He was your man of business, was he?'
'For such little business as I had to do.'
'You were sure you could trust him, eh?'
My aunt Dorothy breathed deeply.
'By God, ma'am, you're a truthful woman!'
The old man gave her a glare of admiration.
It was now my turn to undergo examination, and summoned by his apostrophe
to meet his eyes, I could appreciate the hardness of the head I had to
'Harry, I beg your pardon beforehand; I want to get at facts; I must ask
you what you know about where the money came from?'
I spoke of my attempts to discover the whence and wherefore of it.
'Government? eh?' he sneered.
'I really can't judge whether it came from that quarter,' said I.
'What do you think?--think it likely?'
I thought it unlikely, and yet likelier than that it should have come
from an individual.
'Then you don't suspect any particular person of having sent it in the
nick of time, Harry Richmond?'
I replied: 'No, sir; unless you force me to suspect you.'
He jumped in his chair, astounded and wrathful, confounded me for
insinuating that he was a Bedlamite, and demanded the impudent reason of
my suspecting him to have been guilty of the infernal folly.
I had but the reason to instance that he was rich and kind at heart.
'Rich! kind!' he bellowed. 'Just excuse me--I must ask for the purpose
of my inquiry;--there, tell me, how much do you believe you 've got of
that money remaining? None o' that Peterborough style of counting in the
back of your pate. Say!'
There was a dreadful silence.
My father leaned persuasively forward.
'Mr. Beltham, I crave permission to take up the word. Allow me to remind
you of the prize Harry has won. The prince awaits you to bestow on him
the hand of his daughter--'
'Out with it, Harry,' shouted the squire.
'Not to mention Harry's seat in Parliament,' my father resumed, 'he has a
princess to wife, indubitably one of the most enviable positions in the
country! It is unnecessary to count on future honours; they may be
alluded to. In truth, sir, we make him the first man in the country.
Not necessarily Premier: you take my meaning: he possesses the
combination of social influence and standing with political achievements,
and rank and riches in addition--'
'I 'm speaking to my grandson, sir,' the squire rejoined, shaking himself
like a man rained on. 'I 'm waiting for a plain answer, and no lie.
You've already confessed as much as that the money you told me on your
honour you put out to interest; psh!--for my grandson was smoke. Now
let's hear him.'
My father called out: 'I claim a hearing! The money you speak of was put
out to the very highest interest. You have your grandson in Parliament,
largely acquainted with the principal members of society, husband of an
hereditary princess! You have only at this moment to propose for her
hand. I guarantee it to you. With that money I have won him everything.
Not that I would intimate to you that princesses are purchaseable. The
point is, I knew how to employ it.'
'In two months' time, the money in the Funds in the boy's name--you told
'You had it in the Funds in Harry Richmond's name, sir.'
'Well, sir, I'm asking him whether it's in the Funds now.'
'Oh! Mr. Beltham.'
'What answer's that?'
The squire was really confused by my father's interruption, and lost
sight of me.
'I ask where it came from: I ask whether it's squandered?' he continued.
'Mr. Beltham, I reply that you have only to ask for it to have it; do so
'What 's he saying?' cried the baffled old man.
'I give you a thousand times the equivalent of the money, Mr. Beltham.'
'Is the money there?'
'The lady is here.'
'I said money, sir.'
'A priceless honour and treasure, I say emphatically.' My grandfather's
brows and mouth were gathering for storm. Janet touched his knee.
'Where the devil your understanding truckles, if you have any, I don't
know,' he muttered. 'What the deuce--lady got to do with money!'
'Oh!' my father laughed lightly, 'customarily the alliance is, they say,
as close as matrimony. Pardon me. To speak with becoming seriousness,
Mr. Beltham, it was duly imperative that our son should be known in
society, should be, you will apprehend me, advanced in station, which I
had to do through the ordinary political channel. There could not but be
a considerable expenditure for such a purpose.'
'In Balls, and dinners!'
'In everything that builds a young gentleman's repute.'
'You swear to me you gave your Balls and dinners, and the lot, for Harry
'On my veracity, I did, sir!'
'Please don't talk like a mountebank. I don't want any of your
roundabout words for truth; we're not writing a Bible essay. I try my
best to be civil.'
My father beamed on him.
'I guarantee you succeed, sir. Nothing on earth can a man be so
absolutely sure of as to succeed in civility, if he honestly tries at it.
Jorian DeWitt,--by the way, you may not know him--an esteemed old friend
of mine, says--that is, he said once--to a tolerably impudent fellow whom
he had disconcerted with a capital retort, "You may try to be a
gentleman, and blunder at it, but if you will only try to be his humble
servant, we are certain to establish a common footing." Jorian, let me
tell you, is a wit worthy of our glorious old days.'
My grandfather eased his heart with a plunging breath.
'Well, sir, I didn't ask you here for your opinion or your friend's, and
I don't care for modern wit.'
'Nor I, Mr. Beltham, nor I! It has the reek of stable straw. We are of
one mind on that subject. The thing slouches, it sprawls. It--to quote
Jorian once more--is like a dirty, idle, little stupid boy who cannot
learn his lesson and plays the fool with the alphabet. You smile, Miss
Ilchester: you would appreciate Jorian. Modern wit is emphatically
degenerate. It has no scintillation, neither thrust nor parry. I
compare it to boxing, as opposed to the more beautiful science of
'Well, sir, I don't want to hear your comparisons,' growled the squire,
much oppressed. 'Stop a minute . . .'
'Half a minute to me, sir,' said my father, with a glowing reminiscence
of Jorian DeWitt, which was almost too much for the combustible old man,
even under Janet's admonition.
My aunt Dorothy moved her head slightly toward my father, looking on the
floor, and he at once drew in.
'Mr. Beltham, I attend to you submissively.'
'You do? Then tell me what brought this princess to England?'
'The conviction that Harry had accomplished his oath to mount to an
eminence in his country, and had made the step she is about to take less,
I will say, precipitous: though I personally decline to admit a pointed
'You wrote her a letter.'
'That, containing the news of the attack on him and his desperate
illness, was the finishing touch to the noble lady's passion.'
'Attack? I know nothing about an attack. You wrote her a letter and
wrote her a lie. You said he was dying.'
'I had the boy inanimate on my breast when I despatched the epistle.'
'You said he had only a few days to live.'
'So in my affliction I feared.'
'Will you swear you didn't write that letter with the intention of
drawing her over here to have her in your power, so that you might
threaten you'd blow on her reputation if she or her father held out
against you and all didn't go as you fished for it?'
My father raised his head proudly.
'I divide your query into two parts. I wrote, sir, to bring her to his
side. I did not write with any intention to threaten.'
'You've done it, though.'
'I have done this,' said my father, toweringly: 'I have used the power
placed in my hands by Providence to overcome the hesitations of a
gentleman whose illustrious rank predisposes him to sacrifice his
daughter's happiness to his pride of birth and station. Can any one
confute me when I assert that the princess loves Harry Richmond?'
I walked abruptly to one of the windows, hearing a pitiable wrangling on
the theme. My grandfather vowed she had grown wiser, my father protested
that she was willing and anxious; Janet was appealed to. In a strangely-
sounding underbreath, she said, 'The princess does not wish it.'
'You hear that, Mr. Richmond?' cried the squire.
He returned: 'Can Miss Ilchester say that the Princess Ottilia does not
passionately love my son Harry Richmond? The circumstances warrant me in
beseeching a direct answer.'
She uttered: 'No.'
I looked at her; she at me.
'You can conduct a case, Richmond,' the squire remarked.
My father rose to his feet. 'I can conduct my son to happiness and
greatness, my dear sir; but to some extent I require your grandfatherly
assistance; and I urge you now to present your respects to the prince and
princess, and judge yourself of his Highness's disposition for the match.
I assure you in advance that he welcomes the proposal.'
'I do not believe it,' said Janet, rising.
My aunt Dorothy followed her example, saying: 'In justice to Harry the
proposal should be made. At least it will settle this dispute.'
Janet stared at her, and the squire threw his head back with an amazed
'What! You're for it now? Why, at breakfast you were all t' other way!
You didn't want this meeting because you pooh-poohed the match.'
'I do think you should go,' she answered. 'You have given Harry your
promise, and if he empowers you, it is right to make the proposal, and
immediately, I think.'
She spoke feverishly, with an unsweet expression of face, that seemed to
me to indicate vexedness at the squire's treatment of my father.
'Harry,' she asked me in a very earnest fashion, 'is it your desire?
Tell your grandfather that it is, and that you want to know your fate.
Why should there be any dispute on a fact that can be ascertained by
crossing a street? Surely it is trifling.'
Janet stooped to whisper in the squire's ear.
He caught the shock of unexpected intelligence apparently; faced about,
gazed up, and cried: 'You too! But I haven't done here. I 've got to
cross-examine . . . Pretend, do you mean? Pretend I'm ready to go?
I can release this prince just as well here as there.'
Janet laughed faintly.
'I should advise your going, grandada.'
'You a weathercock woman!' he reproached her, quite mystified, and fell
to rubbing his head. 'Suppose I go to be snubbed?'
'The prince is a gentleman, grandada. Come with me. We will go alone.
You can relieve the prince, and protect him.'
My father nodded: 'I approve.'
'And grandada--but it will not so much matter if we are alone, though,'
'See the princess as well; she must be present.'
'I leave it to you,' he said, crestfallen.
Janet pressed my aunt Dorothy's hand.
'Aunty, you were right, you are always right. This state of suspense is
bad all round, and it is infinitely worse for the prince and princess.'
My aunt Dorothy accepted the eulogy with a singular trembling wrinkle of
She evidently understood that Janet had seen her wish to get released.
For my part, I shared my grandfather's stupefaction at their
unaccountable changes. It appeared almost as if my father had won them
over to baffle him. The old man tried to insist on their sitting down
again, but Janet perseveringly smiled and smiled until he stood up. She
spoke to him softly. He was one black frown; displeased with her;
Too soon after, I had the key to the enigmatical scene. At the moment I
was contemptuous of riddles, and heard with idle ears Janet's promptings
to him and his replies. 'It would be so much better to settle it here,'
he said. She urged that it could not be settled here without the whole
burden and responsibility falling upon him.
'Exactly,' interposed my father, triumphing.
Dorothy Beltham came to my side, and said, as if speaking to herself,
while she gazed out of window, 'If a refusal, it should come from the
prince.' She dropped her voice: 'The money has not been spent? Has it?
Has any part of it been spent? Are you sure you have more than three
parts of it?'
Now, that she should be possessed by the spirit of parsimony on my behalf
at such a time as this, was to my conception insanely comical, and her
manner of expressing it was too much for me. I kept my laughter under to
hear her continue: 'What numbers are flocking on the pier! and there is
no music yet. Tell me, Harry, that the money is all safe; nearly all; it
is important to know; you promised economy.'
'Music did you speak of, Miss Beltham?' My father bowed to her gallantly.
'I chanced to overhear you. My private band performs to the public at
She was obliged to smile to excuse his interruption.
'What's that? whose band?' said the squire, bursting out of Janet's
hand. 'A private band?'
Janet had a difficulty in resuming her command of him. The mention of
the private band made him very restive.
'I 'm not acting on my own judgement at all in going to these foreign
people,' he said to Janet. 'Why go? I can have it out here and an end
to it, without bothering them and their interpreters.'
He sang out to me: 'Harry, do you want me to go through this form for
My aunt Dorothy whispered in my ear: 'Yes! yes!'
'I feel tricked!' he muttered, and did not wait for me to reply before he
was again questioning my aunt Dorothy concerning Mr. Bannerbridge, and my
father as to 'that sum of money.' But his method of interrogation was
confused and pointless. The drift of it was totally obscure.
'I'm off my head to-day,' he said to Janet, with a sideshot of his eye at
'You waste time and trouble, grandada,' said she.
He vowed that he was being bewildered, bothered by us all; and I thought
I had never seen him so far below his level of energy; but I had not seen
him condescend to put himself upon a moderately fair footing with my
father. The truth was, that Janet had rigorously schooled him to bridle
his temper, and he was no match for the voluble easy man without the
freest play of his tongue.
'This prince!' he kept ejaculating.
'Won't you understand, grandada, that you relieve him, and make things
clear by going?' Janet said.
He begged her fretfully not to be impatient, and hinted that she and he
might be acting the part of dupes, and was for pursuing his inauspicious
cross-examination in spite of his blundering, and the 'Where am I now?'
which pulled him up. My father, either talking to my aunt Dorothy, to
Janet, or to me, on ephemeral topics, scarcely noticed him, except when
he was questioned, and looked secure of success in the highest degree
consistent with perfect calmness.
'So you say you tell me to go, do you?' the squire called to me. 'Be
good enough to stay here and wait. I don't see that anything's gained by
my going: it's damned hard on me, having to go to a man whose language I
don't know, and he don't know mine, on a business we're all of us in a
muddle about. I'll do it if it's right. You're sure?'
He glanced at Janet. She nodded.
I was looking for this quaint and, to me, incomprehensible interlude to
commence with the departure of the squire and Janet, when a card was
handed in by one of the hotel-waiters.
'Another prince!' cried the squire. 'These Germans seem to grow princes
like potatoes--dozens to a root! Who's the card for? Ask him to walk
up. Show him into a quiet room. Does he speak English?'
'Does Prince Hermann of--I can't pronounce the name of the place--speak
English, Harry?' Janet asked me.
'As well as you or I,' said I, losing my inattention all at once with a
mad leap of the heart.
Hermann's presence gave light, fire, and colour to the scene in which my
destiny had been wavering from hand to hand without much more than
amusedly interesting me, for I was sure that I had lost Ottilia; I knew
that too well, and worse could not happen. I had besides lost other
things that used to sustain me, and being reckless, I was contemptuous,
and listened to the talk about money with sublime indifference to the
subject: with an attitude, too, I daresay. But Hermann's name revived my
torment. Why had he come? to persuade the squire to control my father?
Nothing but that would suffer itself to be suggested, though conjectures
lying in shadow underneath pressed ominously on my mind.
My father had no doubts.
'A word to you, Mr. Beltham, before you go to Prince Hermann. He is an
emissary, we treat him with courtesy, and if he comes to diplomatize we,
of course, give a patient hearing. I have only to observe in the most
emphatic manner possible that I do not retract one step. I will have
this marriage: I have spoken! It rests with Prince Ernest.'
The squire threw a hasty glare of his eyes back as he was hobbling on
Janet's arm. She stopped short, and replied for him.
'Mr. Beltham will speak for himself, in his own name. We are not
concerned in any unworthy treatment of Prince Ernest. We protest against
'Dear young lady!' said my father, graciously. 'I meet you frankly.
Now tell me. I know you a gallant horsewoman: if you had lassoed the
noble horse of the desert would you let him run loose because of his
remonstrating? Side with me, I entreat you! My son is my first thought.
The pride of princes and wild horses you will find wonderfully similar,
especially in the way they take their taming when once they feel they are
positively caught. We show him we have him fast--he falls into our paces
on the spot! For Harry's sake--for the princess's, I beg you exert your
universally--deservedly acknowledged influence. Even now--and you frown
on me!--I cannot find it in my heart to wish you the sweet and admirable
woman of the world you are destined to be, though you would comprehend me
and applaud me, for I could not--no, not to win your favourable opinion!
--consent that you should be robbed of a single ray of your fresh
maidenly youth. If you must misjudge me, I submit. It is the price I
pay for seeing you young and lovely. Prince Ernest is, credit me, not
unworthily treated by me, if life is a battle, and the prize of it to the
General's head. I implore you'--he lured her with the dimple of a
lurking smile--'do not seriously blame your afflicted senior, if we are
to differ. I am vastly your elder: you instil the doubt whether I am by
as much the wiser of the two; but the father of Harry Richmond claims to
know best what will ensure his boy's felicity. Is he rash? Pronounce me
guilty of an excessive anxiety for my son's welfare; say that I am too
old to read the world with the accuracy of a youthful intelligence: call
me indiscreet: stigmatize me unlucky; the severest sentence a judge'--he
bowed to her deferentially--'can utter; only do not cast a gaze of rebuke
on me because my labour is for my son--my utmost devotion. And we know,
Miss Ilchester, that the princess honours him with her love. I protest
in all candour, I treat love as love; not as a weight in the scale; it is
the heavenly power which dispenses with weighing! its ascendancy . . .'
The squire could endure no more, and happily so, for my father was losing
his remarkably moderated tone, and threatening polysyllables. He had
followed Janet, step for step, at a measured distance, drooping toward
her with his winningest air, while the old man pulled at her arm to get
her out of hearing of the obnoxious flatterer. She kept her long head
in profile, trying creditably not to appear discourteous to one who
addressed her by showing an open ear, until the final bolt made by the
frenzied old man dragged her through the doorway. His neck was shortened
behind his collar as though he shrugged from the blast of a bad wind.
I believe that, on the whole, Janet was pleased. I will wager that, left
to herself, she would have been drawn into an answer, if not an argument.
Nothing would have made her resolution swerve, I admit.
They had not been out of the room three seconds when my aunt Dorothy was
called to join them. She had found time to say that she hoped the money
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
All passed too swift for happiness
He clearly could not learn from misfortune
Intimations of cowardice menacing a paralysis of the will
Like a woman, who would and would not, and wanted a master
One in a temper at a time I'm sure 's enough
Simple affection must bear the strain of friendship if it can
Stand not in my way, nor follow me too far
Tension of the old links keeping us together
The thought stood in her eyes
They have not to speak to exhibit their minds
Tight grasps of the hand, in which there was warmth and shyness
To the rest of the world he was a progressive comedy
Was I true? Not so very false, yet how far from truth!
Who so intoxicated as the convalescent catching at health?
THE ADVENTURES OF HARRY RICHMOND
By George Meredith
LII. STRANGE REVELATIONS, AND MY GRANDFATHER HAS HIS LAST OUTBURST
LIII. THE HEIRESS PROVES THAT SHE INHERITS THE FEUD AND I GO DRIFTING
LIV. MY RETURN TO ENGLAND
LV. I MEET MY FIRST PLAYFELLOW AND TAKE MY PUNISHMENT
STRANGE REVELATIONS, AND MY GRANDFATHER HAS HIS LAST OUTBURST
My father and I stood at different windows, observing the unconcerned
'Did you scheme to bring Prince Hermann over here as well?' I asked him.
He replied laughing: 'I really am not the wonderful wizard you think me,
Richie. I left Prince Ernest's address as mine with Waddy in case the
Frau Feld-Marschall should take it into her head to come. Further than
that you must question Providence, which I humbly thank for its unfailing
support, down to unexpected trifles. Only this--to you and to all of
them: nothing bends me. I will not be robbed of the fruit of a
'Supposing I refuse?'
'You refuse, Richie, to restore the princess her character and the prince
his serenity of mind at their urgent supplication? I am utterly unable
to suppose it. You are married in the papers this morning. I grieve to
say that the position of Prince Hermann is supremely ridiculous. I am
bound to add he is a bold boy. It requires courage in one of the
pretenders to the hand of the princess to undertake the office of
intercessor, for he must know--the man must know in his heart that he is
doing her no kindness. He does not appeal to me, you see. I have shown
that my arrangements are unalterable. What he will make of your grandad!
. . . Why on earth he should have been sent to--of all men in the
world--your grandad, Richie!'
I was invited to sympathetic smiles of shrewd amusement.
He caught sight of friends, and threw up the window, saluting them.
The squire returned with my aunt Dorothy and Janet to behold the detested
man communicating with the outer world from his own rooms. He shouted
unceremoniously, 'Shut that window!' and it was easy to see that he had
come back heavily armed for the offensive. 'Here, Mr. Richmond, I don't
want all men to know you're in my apartments.'
'I forgot, sir, temporarily,' said my father, 'I had vacated the rooms
for your convenience--be assured.'
An explanation on the subject of the rooms ensued between the old man and
the ladies;--it did not improve his temper.
His sense of breeding, nevertheless, forced him to remark, 'I can't thank
you, sir, for putting me under an obligation I should never have incurred
'Oh, I was happy to be of use to the ladies, Mr. Beltham, and require no
small coin of exchange,' my father responded with the flourish of a
pacifying hand. 'I have just heard from a posse of friends that the
marriage is signalled in this morning's papers--numberless
congratulations, I need not observe.'
'No, don't,' said the squire. 'Nobody'll understand them here, and I
needn't ask you to sit down, because I don't want you to stop. I'll soon
have done now; the game's played. Here, Harry, quick; has all that money
been spent--no offence to you, but as a matter of business?'
'Not all, sir,' I was able to say.
'Yes, I think so.'
'It may be.'
'And liabilities besides?'
'There are some.'
'You're not a liar. That'll do for you.'
He turned to my aunt: her eyes had shut.
'Dorothy, you've sold out twenty-five thousand pounds' worth of stock.
You're a truthful woman, as I said, and so I won't treat you like a
witness in a box. You gave it to Harry to help him out of his scrape.
Why, short of staring lunacy, did you pass it through the hands of this
man? He sweated his thousands out of it at the start. Why did you make
a secret of it to make the man think his nonsense?--Ma'am, behave like a
lady and my daughter,' he cried, fronting her, for the sudden and blunt
attack had slackened her nerves; she moved as though to escape, and was
bewildered. I stood overwhelmed. No wonder she had attempted to break
up the scene.
'Tell me your object, Dorothy Beltham, in passing the money through the
hands of this man? Were you for helping him to be a man of his word?
Help the boy--that I understand. However, you were mistress of your
money! I've no right to complain, if you will go spending a fortune to
whitewash the blackamoor! Well, it's your own, you'll say. So it is:
so 's your character!'
The egregious mildness of these interjections could not long be
'You deceived me, ma'am. You wouldn't build school-houses, you couldn't
subscribe to Charities, you acted parsimony, to pamper a scamp and his
young scholar! You went to London--you did it in cool blood; you went to
your stockbroker, and from the stockbroker to the Bank, and you sold out
stock to fling away this big sum. I went to the Bank on business, and
the books were turned over for my name, and there at "Beltham" I saw
quite by chance the cross of the pen, and I saw your folly, ma'am; I saw
it all in a shot. I went to the Bank on my own business, mind that. Ha!
you know me by this time; I loathe spying; the thing jumped out of the
book; I couldn't help seeing. Now I don't reckon how many positive fools
go to make one superlative humbug; you're one of the lot, and I've learnt
My father airily begged leave to say: 'As to positive and superlative,
Mr. Beltham, the three degrees of comparison are no longer of service
except to the trader. I do not consider them to exist for ladies. Your
positive is always particularly open to dispute, and I venture to assert
I cap you your superlative ten times over.'
He talked the stuff for a diversion, presenting in the midst of us an
incongruous image of smiles that filled me with I knew not what feelings
of angry alienation, until I was somewhat appeased by the idea that he
had not apprehended the nature of the words just spoken.
It seemed incredible, yet it was true; it was proved to be so to me by
his pricking his ears and his attentive look at the mention of the word
prepossessing him in relation to the money: Government.
The squire said something of Government to my aunt Dorothy, with
As the observation was unnecessary, and was wantonly thrown in by him,
she seized on it to escape from her compromising silence: 'I know nothing
of Government or its ways.'
She murmured further, and looked at Janet, who came to her aid, saying:
'Grandada, we've had enough talk of money, money! All is done that you
wanted done. Stocks, Shares, Banks--we've gone through them all.
Please, finish! Please, do. You have only to state what you have heard
from Prince Hermann.'
Janet gazed in the direction of my father, carefully avoiding my eyes,
but evidently anxious to shield my persecuted aunty.
'Speaking of Stocks and Shares, Miss Ilchester,' said my father, 'I
myself would as soon think of walking into a field of scythe-blades in
full activity as of dabbling in them. One of the few instances I
remember of our Jorian stooping to a pun, is upon the contango: ingenious
truly, but objectionable, because a pun. I shall not be guilty of
repeating it. "The stockmarket is the national snapdragon bowl," he
says, and is very amusing upon the Jews; whether quite fairly, Mr.
Beltham knows better than I, on my honour.'
He appealed lightly to the squire, for thus he danced on the crater's
brink, and had for answer,
'You're a cool scoundrel, Richmond.'
'I choose to respect you, rather in spite of yourself, I fear, sir,' said
my father, bracing up.
'Did you hear my conversation with my daughter?'
'I heard, if I may say so, the lion taking his share of it.'
'All roaring to you, was it?'
'Mr. Beltham, we have our little peculiarities; I am accustomed to think
of a steam-vent when I hear you indulging in a sentence of unusual
length, and I hope it is for our good, as I thoroughly believe it is for
yours, that you should deliver yourself freely.'
'So you tell me; like a stage lacquey!' muttered the old man, with
surprising art in caricaturing a weakness in my father's bearing, of
which I was cruelly conscious, though his enunciation was flowing. He
lost his naturalness through forcing for ease in the teeth of insult.
'Grandada, aunty and I will leave you,' said Janet, waxing importunate.
'When I've done,' said he, facing his victim savagely. 'The fellow
pretends he didn't understand. She's here to corroborate. Richmond,
there, my daughter, Dorothy Beltham, there's the last of your fools and
dupes. She's a truthful woman, I'll own, and she'll contradict me if
what I say is not the fact. That twenty-five thousand from "Government"
came out of her estate.'
'Out of be damned, sir! She's the person who paid it.'
'If the "damns" have set up, you may as well let the ladies go,' said I.
He snapped at me like a rabid dog in career.
'She's the person--one of your petticoat "Government"--who paid--do you
hear me, Richmond?--the money to help you to keep your word: to help you
to give your Balls and dinners too. She--I won't say she told you, and
you knew it--she paid it. She sent it through her Mr. Bannerbridge. Do
you understand now? You had it from her. My God! look at the fellow!'
A dreadful gape of stupefaction had usurped the smiles on my father's
countenance; his eyes rolled over, he tried to articulate, and was indeed
a spectacle for an enemy. His convulsed frame rocked the syllables, as
with a groan, unpleasant to hear, he called on my aunt Dorothy by
successive stammering apostrophes to explain, spreading his hands wide.
He called out her Christian name. Her face was bloodless.
'Address my daughter respectfully, sir, will you! I won't have your
infernal familiarities!' roared the squire.
'He is my brother-in-law,' said Dorothy, reposing on the courage of her
blood, now that the worst had been spoken. 'Forgive me, Mr. Richmond,
for having secretly induced you to accept the loan from me.'
'Loan!' interjected the squire. 'They fell upon it like a pair of kites.
You'll find the last ghost of a bone of your loan in a bill, and well
picked. They've been doing their bills: I've heard that.'
My father touched the points of his fingers on his forehead, straining to
think, too theatrically, but in hard earnest, I believe. He seemed to be
rising on tiptoe.
'Oh, madam! Dear lady! my friend! Dorothy, my sister! Better a
thousand times that I had married, though I shrank from a heartless
union! This money?--it is not--'
The old man broke in: 'Are you going to be a damned low vulgar comedian
and tale of a trumpet up to the end, you Richmond? Don't think you'll
gain anything by standing there as if you were jumping your trunk from a
shark. Come, sir, you're in a gentleman's rooms; don't pitch your voice
like a young jackanapes blowing into a horn. Your gasps and your spasms,
and howl of a yawning brute! Keep your menagerie performances for your
pantomime audiences. What are you meaning? Do you pretend you're
astonished? She's not the first fool of a woman whose money you've
devoured, with your "Madam," and "My dear" and mouthing and elbowing your
comedy tricks; your gabble of "Government" protection, and scandalous
advertisements of the by-blow of a star-coated rapscallion. If you've a
recollection of the man in you, show your back, and be off, say you've
fought against odds--I don't doubt you have, counting the constables--and
own you're a villain: plead guilty, and be off and be silent, and do no
more harm. Is it "Government" still?'
My aunt Dorothy had come round to me. She clutched my arm to restrain me
from speaking, whispering:
'Harry, you can't save him. Think of your own head.' She made me
irresolute, and I was too late to check my father from falling into the
'Oh! Mr. Beltham,' he said, 'you are hard, sir. I put it to you: had
you been in receipt of a secret subsidy from Government for a long course
'How long?' the squire interrupted.
Prompt though he would have been to dismiss the hateful person, he was
not, one could see, displeased to use the whip upon so exciteable and
responsive a frame. He seemed to me to be basely guilty of leading his
victim on to expose himself further.
'There's no necessity for "how long,"' I said.
The old man kept the question on his face.
My father reflected.
'I have to hit my memory, I am shattered, sir. I say, you would be
justified, amply justified--'
'How long?' was reiterated.
'I can at least date it from the period of my marriage.'
'From the date when your scoundrelism first touches my family, that's to
say! So "Government" agreed to give you a stipend to support your wife!'
'Mr. Beltham, I breathe with difficulty. It was at that period, on the
death of a nobleman interested in restraining me--I was his debtor for
kindnesses . . . my head is whirling! I say, at that period, upon the
recommendation of friends of high standing, I began to agitate for the
restitution of my rights. From infancy----'
'To the deuce, your infancy! I know too much about your age. Just hark,
you Richmond! none of your "I was a child" to provoke compassion from
women. I mean to knock you down and make you incapable of hurting these
poor foreign people you trapped. They defy you, and I'll do my best to
draw your teeth. Now for the annuity. You want one to believe 'you
thought you frightened "Government," eh?'
'Annual proof was afforded me, sir.'
'Oh! annual! through Mr. Charles Adolphus Bannerbridge, deceased!'
Janet stepped up to my aunt Dorothy to persuade her to leave the room,
but she declined, and hung by me, to keep me out of danger, as she hoped,
and she prompted me with a guarding nervous squeeze of her hand on my arm
to answer temperately when I was questioned:
'Harry, do you suspect Government paid that annuity?'
'Not now, certainly.'
'Tell the man who 'tis you suspect.'
My aunt Dorothy said: 'Harry is not bound to mention his suspicions.'
'Tell him yourself, then.'
'Does it matter--?'
'Yes, it matters. I'll break every plank he walks on, and strip him
stark till he flops down shivering into his slough--a convicted common
swindler, with his dinners and Balls and his private bands! Richmond,
you killed one of my daughters; t' other fed you, through her agent, this
Mr. Charles Adolphus Bannerbridge, from about the date of your snaring my
poor girl and carrying her off behind your postillions--your trotting
undertakers! and the hours of her life reckoned in milestones. She's
here to contradict me, if she can. Dorothy Beltham was your "Government"
that paid the annuity.'
I took Dorothy Beltham into my arms. She was trembling excessively, yet
found time to say, 'Bear up, dearest; keep still.' All I thought and
felt foundered in tears.
For a while I heard little distinctly of the tremendous tirade which the
vindictive old man, rendered thrice venomous by the immobility of the
petrified large figure opposed to him, poured forth. My poor father did
not speak because he could not; his arms dropped; and such was the
torrent of attack, with its free play of thunder and lightning in the
form of oaths, epithets, short and sharp comparisons, bitter home thrusts
and most vehement imprecatory denunciations, that our protesting voices
quailed. Janet plucked at my aunt Dorothy's dress to bear her away.
'I can't leave my father,' I said.
'Nor I you, dear,' said the tender woman; and so we remained to be
scourged by this tongue of incarnate rage.
'You pensioner of a silly country spinster!' sounded like a return to
mildness. My father's chest heaved up.
I took advantage of the lull to make myself heard: I did but heap fuel on
fire, though the old man's splenetic impetus had partly abated.
'You Richmond! do you hear him? he swears he's your son, and asks to be
tied to the stake beside you. Disown him, and I'll pay you money and
thank you. I'll thank my God for anything short of your foul blood in
the family. You married the boy's mother to craze and kill her, and
guttle her property. You waited for the boy to come of age to swallow
what was settled on him. You wait for me to lie in my coffin to pounce
on the strongbox you think me the fool to toss to a young donkey ready to
ruin all his belongings for you! For nine-and-twenty years you've sucked
the veins of my family, and struck through my house like a rotting-
disease. Nine-and-twenty years ago you gave a singing-lesson in my
house: the pest has been in it ever since! You breed vermin in the brain
to think of you! Your wife, your son, your dupes, every soul that
touches you, mildews from a blight! You were born of ropery, and you go
at it straight, like a webfoot to water. What's your boast?--your
mother's disgrace! You shame your mother. Your whole life's a ballad o'
bastardy. You cry up the woman's infamy to hook at a father. You swell
and strut on her pickings. You're a cock forced from the smoke of the
dunghill! You shame your mother, damned adventurer! You train your boy
for a swindler after your own pattern; you twirl him in your curst
harlequinade to a damnation as sure as your own. The day you crossed my
threshold the devils danced on their flooring. I've never seen the sun
shine fair on me after it. With your guitar under the windows, of
moonlight nights! your Spanish fopperies and trickeries! your French
phrases and toeings! I was touched by a leper. You set your traps for
both my girls: you caught the brown one first, did you, and flung her
second for t' other, and drove a tandem of 'em to live the spangled hog
you are; and down went the mother of the boy to the place she liked
better, and my other girl here--the one you cheated for her salvation--
you tried to cajole her from home and me, to send her the same way down.
She stuck to decency. Good Lord! you threatened to hang yourself,
guitar and all. But her purse served your turn. For why? You 're a
leech. I speak before ladies or I'd rip your town-life to shreds. Your
cause! your romantic history! your fine figure! every inch of you 's
notched with villany! You fasten on every moneyed woman that comes in
your way. You've outdone Herod in murdering the innocents, for he didn't
feed on 'em, and they've made you fat. One thing I'll say of you: you
look the beastly thing you set yourself up for. The kindest blow to you
's to call you impostor.'
He paused, but his inordinate passion of speech was unsated: his white
lips hung loose for another eruption.
I broke from my aunt Dorothy to cross over to my father, saying on the
way: 'We 've heard enough, sir. You forget the cardinal point of
invective, which is, not to create sympathy for the person you assail.'
'Oh! you come in with your infernal fine language, do you!' the old man
thundered at me. 'I 'll just tell you at once, young fellow--'
My aunt Dorothy supplicated his attention. 'One error I must correct.'
Her voice issued from a contracted throat, and was painfully thin and
straining, as though the will to speak did violence to her weaker nature.
'My sister loved Mr. Richmond. It was to save her life, because I
believed she loved him much and would have died, that Mr. Richmond--in
pity--offered her his hand, at my wish': she bent her head: 'at my cost.
It was done for me. I wished it; he obeyed me. No blame--' her dear
mouth faltered. 'I am to be accused, if anybody.'
She added more firmly: 'My money would have been his. I hoped to spare
his feelings, I beg his forgiveness now, by devoting some of it, unknown
to him, to assist him. That was chiefly to please myself, I see, and I
'Well, ma'am,' said the squire, calm at white heat; 'a fool's confession
ought to be heard out to the end. What about the twenty-five thousand?'
'I hoped to help my Harry.'
'Why didn't you do it openly?'
She breathed audible long breaths before she could summon courage to say:
'His father was going to make an irreparable sacrifice. I feared that if
he knew this money came from me he would reject it, and persist.'
Had she disliked the idea of my father's marrying?
The old man pounced on the word sacrifice. 'What sacrifice, ma'am?
What's the sacrifice?'
I perceived that she could not without anguish, and perhaps peril of a
further exposure, bring herself to speak, and explained: 'It relates to
my having tried to persuade my father to marry a very wealthy lady, so
that he might produce the money on the day appointed. Rail at me, sir,
as much as you like. If you can't understand the circumstances without a
chapter of statements, I'm sorry for you. A great deal is due to you, I
know; but I can't pay a jot of it while you go on rating my father like a
'Harry!' either my aunt or Janet breathed a warning.
I replied that I was past mincing phrases. The folly of giving the
tongue an airing was upon me: I was in fact invited to continue, and
animated to do it thoroughly, by the old man's expression of face, which
was that of one who says, 'I give you rope,' and I dealt him a liberal
amount of stock irony not worth repeating; things that any cultivated man
in anger can drill and sting the Boeotian with, under the delusion that
he has not lost a particle of his self-command because of his coolness.
I spoke very deliberately, and therefore supposed that the words of
composure were those of prudent sense. The error was manifest. The
women saw it. One who has indulged his soul in invective will not, if he
has power in his hand, be robbed of his climax with impunity by a cool
response that seems to trifle, and scourges.
I wound up by thanking my father for his devotion to me: I deemed it, I
said, excessive and mistaken in the recent instance, but it was for me.
Upon this he awoke from his dreamy-looking stupefaction.
'Richie does me justice. He is my dear boy. He loves me: I love him.
None can cheat us of that. He loves his wreck of a father. You have
struck me to your feet, Mr. Beltham.'
'I don't want to see you there, sir; I want to see you go, and not stand
rapping your breast-bone, sounding like a burst drum, as you are,'
retorted the unappeasable old man.
I begged him in exasperation to keep his similes to himself.
Janet and my aunt Dorothy raised their voices.
My father said: 'I am broken.'
He put out a swimming hand that trembled when it rested, like that of an
aged man grasping a staff. I feared for a moment he was acting, he spoke
so like himself, miserable though he appeared: but it was his well-known
native old style in a state of decrepitude.
'I am broken,' he repeated. 'I am like the ancient figure of mortality
entering the mouth of the tomb on a sepulchral monument, somewhere, by a
celebrated sculptor: I have seen it: I forget the city. I shall
presently forget names of men. It is not your abuse, Mr. Beltham. I
should have bowed my head to it till the storm passed. Your facts . .
. Oh! Miss Beltham, this last privilege to call you dearest of human
beings! my benefactress! my blessing! Do not scorn me, madam.'
'I never did; I never will; I pitied you,' she cried, sobbing.
The squire stamped his foot.
'Madam,' my father bowed gently. 'I was under heaven's special
protection--I thought so. I feel I have been robbed--I have not deserved
it! Oh! madam, no: it was your generosity that I did not deserve. One
of the angels of heaven persuaded me to trust in it. I did not know. .
. . Adieu, madam. May I be worthy to meet you!--Ay, Mr. Beltham, your
facts have committed the death-wound. You have taken the staff out of my
hand: you have extinguished the light. I have existed--ay, a pensioner,
unknowingly, on this dear lady's charity; to her I say no more. To you,
sir, by all that is most sacred to a man-by the ashes of my mother! by
the prospects of my boy! I swear the annuity was in my belief a tangible
token that my claims to consideration were in the highest sources
acknowledged to be just. I cannot speak! One word to you, Mr. Beltham:
put me aside, I am nothing:--Harry Richmond!--his fortunes are not lost;
he has a future! I entreat you--he is your grandson--give him your
support; go this instant to the prince--no! you will not deny your
countenance to Harry Richmond: let him abjure my name; let me be nameless
in his house. And I promise you I shall be unheard of both in
Christendom and Heathendom: I have no heart except for my boy's nuptials
with the princess: this one thing, to see him the husband of the fairest
and noblest lady upon earth, with all the life remaining in me I pray
for! I have won it for him. I have a moderate ability, immense
devotion. I declare to you, sir, I have lived, actually subsisted, on
this hope! and I have directed my efforts incessantly, sleeplessly, to
fortify it. I die to do it! I implore you, sir, go to the prince. If I'
(he said this touchingly) 'if I am any further in anybody's way, it is
only as a fallen tree.' But his inveterate fancifulness led him to add:
'And that may bridge a cataract.'
My grandfather had been clearing his throat two or three times.
'I 'm ready to finish and get rid of you, Richmond.'
My father bowed.
'I am gone, sir. I feel I am all but tongue-tied. Think that it is
Harry who petitions you to ensure his happiness. To-day I guarantee-it.'
The old man turned an inquiring eyebrow upon me. Janet laid her hand on
him. He dismissed the feline instinct to prolong our torture, and
delivered himself briskly.
'Richmond, your last little bit of villany 's broken in the egg. I
separate the boy from you: he's not your accomplice there, I'm glad to
know. You witched the lady over to pounce on her like a fowler, you
threatened her father with a scandal, if he thought proper to force the
trap; swore you 'd toss her to be plucked by the gossips, eh? She's free
of you! You got your English and your Germans here to point their bills,
and stretch their necks, and hiss, if this gentleman--and your
newspapers!--if he didn't give up to you like a funky traveller to a
highwayman. I remember a tale of a clumsy Turpin, who shot himself when
he was drawing the pistol out of his holsters to frighten the money-bag
out of a market farmer. You've done about the same, you Richmond; and,
of all the damned poor speeches I ever heard from a convicted felon,
yours is the worst--a sheared sheep'd ha' done it more respectably, grant
the beast a tongue! The lady is free of you, I tell you. Harry has to
thank you for that kindness. She--what is it, Janet? Never mind, I've
got the story--she didn't want to marry; but this prince, who called on
me just now, happened to be her father's nominee, and he heard of your
scoundrelism, and he behaved like a man and a gentleman, and offered
himself, none too early nor too late, as it turns out; and the princess,
like a good girl, has made amends to her father by accepting him. I've
the word of this Prince Hermann for it. Now you can look upon a game of
stale-mate. If I had gone to the prince, it wouldn't have been to back
your play; but, if you hadn't been guilty of the tricks of a blackguard
past praying for, this princess would never have been obliged to marry a
man to protect her father and herself. They sent him here to stop any
misunderstanding. He speaks good English, so that's certain. Your lies
will be contradicted, every one of 'em, seriatim, in to-morrow's
newspapers, setting the real man'in place of the wrong one; and you 'll
draw no profit from them in your fashionable world, where you 've been
grinning lately, like a blackamoor's head on a conjuror's plate--the
devil alone able to account for the body and joinings. Now you can be
I went up to my father. His plight was more desperate than mine, for I
had resembled the condemned before the firing-party, to whom the expected
bullet brings a merely physical shock. He, poor man, heard his sentence,
which is the heart's pang of death; and how fondly and rootedly he had
clung to the idea of my marriage with the princess was shown in his
extinction after this blow.
My grandfather chose the moment as a fitting one to ask me for the last
time to take my side.
I replied, without offence in the tones of my voice, that I thought my
father need not lose me into the bargain, after what he had suffered that
He just as quietly rejoined with a recommendation to me to divorce myself
for good and all from a scoundrel.
I took my father's arm: he was not in a state to move away unsupported.
My aunt Dorothy stood weeping; Janet was at the window, no friend to
either of us.
I said to her, 'You have your wish.'
She shook her head, but did not look back.
My grandfather watched me, step by step, until I had reached the door.
'You're going, are you?' he said. 'Then I whistle you off my fingers!'
An attempt to speak was made by my father in the doorway. He bowed wide
of the company, like a blind man. I led him out.
Dimness of sight spared me from seeing certain figures, which were at the
toll-bar of the pier, on the way to quit our shores. What I heard was
not of a character to give me faith in the sanity of the companion I had
chosen. He murmured it at first to himself:
'Waddy shall have her monument!'
My patience was not proof against the repetition of it aloud to me. Had
I been gentler I might have known that his nature was compelled to look
forward to something, and he discerned nothing in the future, save the
task of raising a memorial to a faithful servant.
THE HEIRESS PROVES THAT SHE INHERITS THE FEUD AND I GO DRIFTING
My grandfather lived eight months after a scene that had afforded him
high gratification at the heaviest cost a plain man can pay for his
pleasures: it killed him.
My father's supple nature helped him to survive it in apparently
unimpeded health, so that the world might well suppose him unconquerable,
as he meant that it should. But I, who was with him, knew, though he
never talked of his wounds, they had been driven into his heart. He
collapsed in speech, and became what he used to call 'one of the ordinary
nodding men,' forsaken of his swamping initiative. I merely observed
him; I did not invite his confidences, being myself in no mood to give
sympathy or to receive it. I was about as tender in my care of him as a
military escort bound to deliver up a captive alive.
I left him at Bulsted on my way to London to face the creditors.
Adversity had not lowered the admiration of the captain and his wife for
the magnificent host of those select and lofty entertainments which I was
led by my errand to examine in the skeleton, and with a wonder as big as
theirs, but of another complexion: They hung about him, and perused and
petted him quaintly; it was grotesque; they thought him deeply injured:
by what, by whom, they could not say; but Julia was disappointed in me
for refraining to come out with a sally on his behalf. He had quite
intoxicated their imaginations. Julia told me of the things he did not
do as marvellingly as of the things he did or had done; the charm, it
seemed, was to find herself familiar with him to the extent of all but
nursing him and making him belong to her. Pilgrims coming upon the
source of the mysteriously-abounding river, hardly revere it the less
because they love it more when they behold the babbling channels it
issues from; and the sense of possession is the secret, I suppose. Julia
could inform me rapturously that her charge had slept eighteen hours at a
spell. His remarks upon the proposal to fetch a doctor, feeble in
themselves, were delicious to her, because they recalled his old humour
to show his great spirit, and from her and from Captain William in turn I
was condemned to hear how he had said this and that of the doctor, which
in my opinion might have been more concise. 'Really, deuced good
indeed!' Captain William would exclaim. 'Don't you see it, Harry, my
boy? He denies the doctor has a right to cast him out of the world on
account of his having been the official to introduce him, and he'll only
consent to be visited when he happens to be as incapable of resisting as
upon their very first encounter.'
The doctor and death and marriage, I ventured to remind the captain, had
been riddled in this fashion by the whole army of humourists and their
He and Julia fancied me cold to my father's merits. Fond as they were of
the squire, they declared war against him in private, they criticized
Janet, they thought my aunt Dorothy slightly wrong in making a secret of
her good deed: my father was the victim. Their unabated warmth consoled
me in the bitterest of seasons. He found a home with them at a time when
there would have been a battle at every step. The world soon knew that
my grandfather had cast me off, and with this foundation destroyed, the
entire fabric of the Grand Parade fell to the ground at once. The crash
was heavy. Jorian DeWitt said truly that what a man hates in adversity
is to see 'faces'; meaning that the humanity has gone out of them in
their curious observation of you under misfortune. You see neither
friends nor enemies. You are too sensitive for friends, and are blunted
against enemies. You see but the mask of faces: my father was sheltered
from that. Julia consulted his wishes in everything; she set traps to
catch his whims, and treated them as birds of paradise; she could submit
to have the toppling crumpled figure of a man, Bagenhope, his pensioner
and singular comforter, in her house. The little creature was fetched
out of his haunts in London purposely to soothe my father with
performances on his ancient clarionet, a most querulous plaintive
instrument in his discoursing, almost the length of himself; and she
endured the nightly sound of it in the guest's blue bedroom, heroically
patient, a model to me. Bagenhope drank drams: she allowanced him. He
had known my father's mother, and could talk of her in his cups: his
playing, and his aged tunes, my father said, were a certification to him
that he was at the bottom of the ladder. Why that should afford him
peculiar comfort, none of us could comprehend. 'He was the humble lover
of my mother, Richie,' I heard with some confusion, and that he adored
her memory. The statement was part of an entreaty to me to provide
liberally for Bagenhope's pension before we quitted England. 'I am not
seriously anxious for much else,' said my father. Yet was he fully
conscious of the defeat he had sustained and the catastrophe he had
brought down upon me: his touch of my hand told me that, and his desire
for darkness and sleep. He had nothing to look to, nothing to see
twinkling its radiance for him in the dim distance now; no propitiating
Government, no special Providence. But he never once put on a sorrowful
air to press for pathos, and I thanked him. He was a man endowed to
excite it in the most effective manner, to a degree fearful enough to win
English sympathies despite his un-English faults. He could have drawn
tears in floods, infinite pathetic commiseration, from our grangousier
public, whose taste is to have it as it may be had to the mixture of one-
third of nature in two-thirds of artifice. I believe he was expected to
go about with this beggar's petition for compassion, and it was a
disappointment to the generous, for which they punished him, that he
should have abstained. And moreover his simple quietude was really
touching to true-hearted people. The elements of pathos do not permit of
their being dispensed from a stout smoking bowl. I have to record no
pathetic field-day. My father was never insincere in emotion.
I spared his friends, chums, associates, excellent men of a kind, the
trial of their attachment by shunning them. His servants I dismissed
personally, from M. Alphonse down to the coachman Jeremy, whose speech to
me was, that he should be happy to serve my father again, or me, if he
should happen to be out of a situation when either of us wanted him,
which at least showed his preference for employment: on the other hand,
Alphonse, embracing the grand extremes of his stereotyped national
oratory, where 'SI JAMAIS,' like the herald Mercury new-mounting, takes
its august flight to set in the splendour of 'ausqu'n LA MORT,' declared
all other service than my father's repugnant, and vowed himself to a
hermitage, remote from condiments. They both meant well, and did but
speak the diverse language of their blood. Mrs. Waddy withdrew a
respited heart to Dipwell; it being, according to her experiences, the
third time that my father had relinquished house and furniture to go into
eclipse on the Continent after blazing over London. She strongly
recommended the Continent for a place of restoration, citing his likeness
to that animal the chameleon, in the readiness with which he forgot
himself among them that knew nothing of him. We quitted Bulsted previous
to the return of the family to Riversley. My grandfather lay at the
island hotel a month, and was brought home desperately ill. Lady Edbury
happened to cross the channel with us. She behaved badly, I thought;
foolishly, my father said. She did as much as obliqueness of vision and
sharpness of feature could help her to do to cut him in the presence of
her party: and he would not take nay. It seemed in very bad taste on his
part; he explained to me off-handedly that he insisted upon the exchange
of a word or two for the single purpose of protecting her from calumny.
By and by it grew more explicable to me how witless she had been to give
gossip a handle in the effort to escape it. She sent for him in Paris,
but he did not pay the visit.
My grandfather and I never saw one another again. He had news of me from
various quarters, and I of him from one; I was leading a life in marked
contrast from the homely Riversley circle of days: and this likewise was
set in the count of charges against my father. Our Continental
pilgrimage ended in a course of riotousness that he did not participate
in, and was entirely innocent of, but was held accountable for, because
he had been judged a sinner.
'I am ordered to say,' Janet wrote, scrupulously obeying the order, 'that
if you will leave Paris and come home, and not delay in doing it, your
grandfather will receive you on the same footing as heretofore.'
As heretofore! in a letter from a young woman supposed to nourish a
I could not leave my father in Paris, alone; I dared not bring him to
London. In wrath at what I remembered, I replied that I was willing to
return to Riversley if my father should find a welcome as well.
Janet sent a few dry lines to summon me over in April, a pleasant month
on heath-lands when the Southwest sweeps them. The squire was dead. I
dropped my father at Bulsted. I could have sworn to the terms of the
Will; Mr. Burgin had little to teach me. Janet was the heiress; three
thousand pounds per annum fell to the lot of Harry Lepel Richmond, to be
paid out of the estate, and pass in reversion to his children, or to
Janet's should the aforesaid Harry die childless.
I was hard hit, and chagrined, but I was not at all angry, for I knew
what the Will meant. My aunt Dorothy supplied the interlining eagerly to
mollify the seeming cruelty. 'You have only to ask to have it all,
Harry.' The sturdy squire had done his utmost to forward his cherished
wishes after death. My aunt received five-and-twenty thousand pounds,
the sum she had thrown away. 'I promised that no money of mine should go
where the other went,' she said.
The surprise in store for me was to find how much this rough-worded old
man had been liked by his tenantry, his agents and servants. I spoke of
it to Janet. 'They loved him,' she said. 'No one who ever met him
fairly could help loving him.' They followed him to his grave in a body.
From what I chanced to hear among them, their squire was the man of their
hearts: in short, an Englishman of the kind which is perpetually
perishing out of the land. Janet expected me to be enthusiastic
likewise, or remorseful. She expected sympathy; she read me the long
list of his charities. I was reminded of Julia Bulsted commenting on my
father, with her this he did and that. 'He had plenty,' I said, and
Janet shut her lips. Her coldness was irritating.
What ground of accusation had she against me? Our situation had become
so delicate that a cold breath sundered us as far as the Poles. I was at
liberty to suspect that now she was the heiress, her mind was simply
obedient to her grandada's wish; but, as I told my aunt Dorothy, I would
not do her that injustice.
'No,' said Dorothy; 'it is the money that makes her position so
difficult, unless you break the ice.'
I urged that having steadily refused her before, I could hardly advance
without some invitation now.
'What invitation?' said my aunt.
'Not a corpse-like consent,' said I.
'Harry,' she twitted me, 'you have not forgiven her.' That was true.
Sir Roderick and Lady Ilchester did not conceal their elation at their
daughter's vast inheritance, though the lady appealed to my feelings in
stating that her son Charles was not mentioned in the Will. Sir Roderick
talked of the squire with personal pride:--'Now, as to his management of
those unwieldy men, his miners they sent him up the items of their
complaints. He took them one by one, yielding here, discussing there,
and holding to his point. So the men gave way; he sent them a month's
pay to reward them for their good sense. He had the art of moulding the
men who served him in his own likeness. His capacity for business was
extraordinary; you never expected it of a country gentleman. He more
than quadrupled his inheritance--much more!' I state it to the worthy
Baronet's honour, that although it would have been immensely to his
satisfaction to see his daughter attracting the suitor proper to an
heiress of such magnitude, he did not attempt to impose restriction upon
my interviews with Janet: Riversley was mentioned as my home. I tried to
feel at home; the heir of the place seemed foreign, and so did Janet.
I attributed it partly to her deep mourning dress that robed her in so
sedate a womanliness, partly, in spite of myself, to her wealth.
'Speak to her kindly of your grandfather,' said my aunt Dorothy. To do
so, however, as she desired it, would be to be guilty of a form of
hypocrisy, and I belied my better sentiments by keeping silent. Thus,
having ruined myself through anger, I allowed silly sensitiveness to
prevent the repair.
It became known that my father was at Bulsted.
I saw trouble one morning on Janet's forehead.
We had a conversation that came near to tenderness; at last she said:
'Will you be able to forgive me if I have ever the misfortune to offend
'You won't offend me,' said I.
She hoped not.
I rallied her: 'Tut, tut, you talk like any twelve-years-old, Janet.'
'I offended you then!'
'Every day! it's all that I care much to remember.'
She looked pleased, but I was so situated that I required passion and
abandonment in return for a confession damaging to my pride. Besides,
the school I had been graduating in of late unfitted me for a young
English gentlewoman's shades and intervolved descents of emotion. A
glance up and a dimple in the cheek, were pretty homely things enough,
not the blaze I wanted to unlock me, and absolutely thought I had
Sir Roderick called her to the library on business, which he was in the
habit of doing ten times a day, as well as of discussing matters of
business at table, ostentatiously consulting his daughter, with a solemn
countenance and a transparently reeling heart of parental exultation.
'Janet is supreme,' he would say: 'my advice is simple advice; I am her
chief agent, that is all.' Her chief agent, as director of three
Companies and chairman of one, was perhaps competent to advise her, he
remarked. Her judgement upon ordinary matters he agreed with my
grandfather in thinking consummate.
Janet went to him, and shortly after drove him to the station for London.
My aunt Dorothy had warned me that she was preparing some deed in my
favour, and as I fancied her father to have gone to London for that
purpose, and supposed she would now venture to touch on it, I walked away
from the East gates of the park as soon as I heard the trot of her
ponies, and was led by an evil fate (the stuff the fates are composed of
in my instance I have not kept secret) to walk Westward. Thither my evil
fate propelled me, where accident was ready to espouse it and breed me
mortifications innumerable. My father chanced to have heard the
particulars of Squire Beltham's will that morning: I believe Captain
William's coachman brushed the subject despondently in my interests; it
did not reach him through Julia.
He stood outside the Western gates, and as I approached, I could perceive
a labour of excitement on his frame. He pulled violently at the bars of
'Richie, I am interdicted house and grounds!' he called, and waved his
hand toward the lodge: 'they decline to open to me.'
'Were you denied admission?' I asked him.
'--Your name, if you please, sir?--Mr. Richmond Roy.--We are sorry we
have orders not to admit you. And they declined; they would not admit me
to see my son.'
'Those must be the squire's old orders,' I said, and shouted to the
My father, with the forethoughtfulness which never forsook him, stopped
'No, Richie, no; the good woman shall not have the responsibility of
letting me in against orders; she may be risking her place, poor soul!
Help me, dear lad.'
He climbed the bars to the spikes, tottering, and communicating a
convulsion to me as I assisted him in the leap down: no common feat for
one of his age and weight.
He leaned on me, quaking.
'Impossible! Richie, impossible!' he cried, and reviewed a series of
It was some time before I discovered that they related to the Will. He
was frenzied, and raved, turning suddenly from red to pale under what I
feared were redoubtable symptoms, physical or mental. He came for sight
of the Will; he would contest it, overthrow it. Harry ruined? He would
see Miss Beltham and fathom the plot;--angel, he called her, and was
absurdly exclamatory, but in dire earnest. He must have had the
appearance of a drunken man to persons observing him from the Grange
My father was refused admission at the hall-doors.
The butler, the brute Sillabin, withstood me impassively.
Whose orders had he?
'They are afraid of me!' my father thundered.
I sent a message to Janet.
She was not long in coming, followed by a footman who handed a twist of
note-paper from my aunt Dorothy to my father. He opened it and made
believe to read it, muttering all the while of the Will.
Janet dismissed the men-servants. She was quite colourless.
'We have been stopped in the doorway,' I said.
She answered: 'I wish it could have been prevented.'
'You take it on yourself, then?'
She was inaudible.
'My dear Janet, you call Riversley my home, don't you?'
'It is yours.'
'Do you intend to keep up this hateful feud now my grandfather is dead?'
'No, Harry, not I.'
'Did you give orders to stop my father from entering the house and
'You won't have him here?'
'Dear Harry, I hoped he would not come just yet.'
'But you gave the orders?'
'You're rather incomprehensible, my dear Janet.'
'I wish you could understand me, Harry.'
'You arm your servants against him!'
'In a few days--' she faltered.
'You insult him and me now,' said I, enraged at the half indication of
her relenting, which spoiled her look of modestly--resolute beauty, and
seemed to show that she meant to succumb without letting me break her.
'You are mistress of the place.'
'I am. I wish I were not.'
'You are mistress of Riversley, and you refuse to let my father come in!'
'While I am the mistress, yes.'
'Anywhere but here, Harry! If he will see me or aunty, if he will kindly
appoint any other place, we will meet him, we shall be glad.'
'I request you to let him enter the house. Do you consent or not?'