Part 5 out of 12
supply an inferior article.
My father smiled on him.
'You invite our editorial advocate?' said Captain DeWitt.
'Our adversary,' said my father.
I protested I would not sit at table with him. But he assured me he
believed his advocate and his adversary to be one and the same, and
referred me to the collated sentences.
'The man must earn his bread, Richie, boy! To tell truth, it is the
advocate I wish to rebuke, and to praise the adversary. It will confound
'It does me,' said DeWitt.
'You perceive, Jorian, a policy in dining these men of the Press now and
occasionally, considering their growing power, do you not?'
'Ay, ay! it's a great gossiping machine, mon Roy. I prefer to let it
'I crave your permission to invite him in complimentary terms, cousin
Jorian. He is in the town; remember, it is for the good of the nation
that he and his like should have the opportunity of studying good
society. As to myself personally, I give him carte blanche to fire his
shots at me.'
Near the fashionable hour of the afternoon my father took my arm, Captain
DeWitt a stick, and we walked into the throng and buzz.
'Whenever you are, to quote our advocate, the theme of tea-tables,
Richie,' said my father, 'walk through the crowd: it will wash you. It
is doing us the honour to observe us. We in turn discover an interest in
its general countenance.'
He was received, as we passed, with much staring; here and there a
lifting of hats, and some blunt nodding that incensed me, but he, feeling
me bristle, squeezed my hand and talked of the scene, and ever and anon
gathered a line of heads and shed an indulgent bow along them-; so on to
the Casino. Not once did he offend my taste and make my acute sense of
self-respect shiver by appearing grateful for a recognition, or anxious
to court it, though the curtest salute met his acknowledgement.
The interior of the Casino seemed more hostile. I remarked it to him.
'A trifle more eye-glassy,' he murmured. He was quite at his easy there.
'We walk up and down, my son,' he said, in answer to a question of mine,
'because there are very few who can; even walking is an art; and if
nobody does, the place is dull.'
'The place is pretty well supplied with newspapers,' said Captain DeWitt.
'And dowagers, friend Jorian. They are cousins. 'Tis the fashion to
have our tattle done by machinery. They have their opportunity to
compare the portrait with the original. Come, invent some scandal for
us; let us make this place our social Exchange. I warrant a good bold
piece of invention will fit them, too, some of them. Madam,'--my father
bowed low to the beckoning of a fan, 'I trust your ladyship did not
chance to overhear that last remark I made?'
The lady replied: 'I should have shut my eyes if I had. I called you to
tell me, who is the young man?'
'For twenty years I have lived in the proud belief that he is my son!'
'I would not disturb it for the world.' She did me the honour to inspect
me from the lowest waistcoat button to the eyebrows. 'Bring him to me
to-night. Captain DeWitt, you have forsaken my whist-tables.'
'Purely temporary fits of unworthiness, my lady.'
'In English, gout?'
'Not gout in the conscience, I trust,' said my father.
'Oh! that's curable,' laughed the captain.
'You men of repartee would be nothing without your wickedness,' the lady
'Man was supposed to be incomplete--' Captain DeWitt affected a murmur.
She nodded 'Yes, yes,' and lifted eyes on my father. 'So you have not
given up going to church?'
He bent and spoke low.
She humphed her lips. 'Very well, I will see. It must be a night in the
early part of the week after next, then: I really don't know why I should
serve you; but I like your courage.'
'I cannot consent to accept your ladyship's favour on account of one
single virtue,' said he, drooping.
She waved him to move forward.
During this frothy dialogue, I could see that the ear of the assembly had
been caught by the sound of it.
'That,' my father informed me, 'is the great Lady Wilts. Now you will
notice a curious thing. Lady Wilts is not so old but that, as our Jorian
here says of her, she is marriageable. Hence, Richie, she is a queen to
make the masculine knee knock the ground. I fear the same is not to be
said of her rival, Lady Denewdney, whom our good Jorian compares to an
antiquated fledgeling emerging with effort from a nest of ill
construction and worse cement. She is rich, she is sharp, she uses her
quill; she is emphatically not marriageable. Bath might still accept her
as a rival queen, only she is always behindhand in seizing an occasion.
Now you will catch sight of her fan working in a minute. She is envious
and imitative. It would be undoubtedly better policy on her part to
continue to cut me: she cannot, she is beginning to rustle like
December's oaks. If Lady Wilts has me, why, she must. We refrain from
noticing her until we have turned twice. Ay, Richie, there is this use
in adversity; it teaches one to play sword and target with etiquette and
retenue better than any crowned king in Europe. For me now to cross to
her summons immediately would be a gross breach of homage to Lady Wilts,
who was inspired to be the first to break through the fence of scandal
environing me. But I must still show that I am independent. These
people must not suppose that I have to cling to a party. Let them
take sides; I am on fair terms with both the rivals. I show just such
a nuance of a distinction in my treatment of them just such--enough,
I mean, to make the flattered one warm to me, and t' other be jealous
of her. Ay, Richie, these things are trivial things beyond the grave;
but here are we, my boy; and, by the way, I suspect the great campaign
of my life is opening.'
Captain DeWitt said that if so it would be the tenth, to his certain
'Not great campaign!' my father insisted: 'mere skirmishes before this.'
They conversed in humorous undertones, each in turn seeming to turn over
the earth of some amusing reminiscence, so rapt, that as far as regarded
their perception of it, the assembly might have been nowhere. Perhaps,
consequently, they became observed with all but undivided attention. My
father's hand was on my shoulder, his head toward Captain DeWitt; instead
of subduing his voice, he gave it a moderate pitch, at which it was not
intrusive, and was musical, to my ear charming, especially when he
continued talking through his soft laughter, like a hunter that would in
good humour press for his game through links of water-nymphs.
Lady Denewdney's fan took to beating time meditatively. Two or three
times she kept it elevated, and in vain: the flow of their interchangeing
speech was uninterrupted. At last my father bowed to her from a
distance. She signalled: his eyelids pleaded short sight, awakening to
the apprehension of a pleasant fact: the fan tapped, and he halted his
march, leaning scarce perceptibly in her direction. The fan showed
distress. Thereupon, his voice subsided in his conversation, with a
concluding flash of animation across his features, like a brook that
comes to the leap on a descent, and he left us.
Captain DeWitt and I were led by a common attraction to the portico, the
truth being that we neither of us could pace easily nor talk with perfect
abandonment under eye-fire any longer.
'Look,' said he to me, pointing at the equipages and equestrians: 'you'll
see a sight like this in dozens--dozens of our cities and towns! The
wealth of this country is frightful.'
My reply, addressed at the same time mentally to Temple at sea, was:
'Well, as long as we have the handsomest women, I don't care.'
Captain DeWitt was not so sure that we had. The Provencal women, the
women of a part of South Germany, and certain favoured spots of Italy,
might challenge us, he thought. This was a point I could argue on,
or, I should rather say, take up the cudgels, for I deemed such opinions
treason to one's country and an outrage to common sense, and I embarked
in controversy with the single-minded intention of knocking down the man
who held them.
He accepted his thrashing complacently.
'Now here comes a young lady on horseback,' he said; 'do you spy her?
dark hair, thick eyebrows, rides well, followed by a groom. Is she a
In the heat of patriotism I declared she was handsome, and repeated it,
though I experienced a twinge of remorse, like what I should have felt
had I given Minerva the apple instead of Venus.
'Oh!' he commented, and stepped down to the road to meet her, beginning,
in my hearing, 'I am the bearer of a compliment--' Her thick eyebrows
stood in a knot, then she glanced at me and hung pensive. She had not
to wait a minute before my father came to her side.
'I knew you would face them,' she said.
He threw back his head like a swimmer tossing spray from his locks.
'You have read the paper?' he asked.
'You have horsewhipped the writer?' she rejoined.
'Oh! the poor penster!'
'Nay, we can't pretend to pity him!'
'Could we condescend to offer him satisfaction?'
'Would he dare to demand it?'
'We will lay the case before Lady Wilts to-night.'
'You are there to-night?'
'At Lady Denewdney's to-morrow night--if I may indulge a hope?'
'Both? Oh! bravo, bravo! Tell me nothing more just now. How did you
manage it? I must have a gallop. Yes, I shall be at both, be sure of
My father introduced me.
'Let me present to your notice my son, Harry Lepel Richmond, Miss
She touched my fingers, and nodded at me; speaking to him:
'He has a boy's taste: I hear he esteems me moderately well-favoured.'
'An inherited error certain to increase with age!'
'Now you have started me!' she exclaimed, and lashed the flanks of her
We had evidently been enacting a part deeply interesting to the
population of Bath, for the heads of all the strolling groups were bent
on us; and when Miss Penrhys cantered away, down dropped eyeglasses, and
the promenade returned to activity. I fancied I perceived that my father
was greeted more cordially on his way back to the hotel.
'You do well, Richie,' he observed, 'in preserving your composure until
you have something to say. Wait for your opening; it will come, and the
right word will come with it. The main things are to be able to stand
well, walk well, and look with an eye at home in its socket: I put you my
hand on any man or woman born of high blood.--Not a brazen eye!--of the
two extremes, I prefer the beaten spaniel sort.--Blindfold me, but I put
you my hand on them. As to repartee, you must have it. Wait for that,
too. Do not,' he groaned, 'do not force it! Bless my soul, what is
there in the world so bad?' And rising to the upper notes of his groan:
'Ignorance, density, total imbecility, is better; I would rather any day
of my life sit and carve for guests--the grossest of human trials--
a detestable dinner, than be doomed to hear some wretched fellow--and you
hear the old as well as the young--excruciate feelings which, where they
exist, cannot but be exquisitely delicate. Goodness gracious me! to see
the man pumping up his wit! For me, my visage is of an unalterable
gravity whenever I am present at one of these exhibitions. I care not if
I offend. Let them say I wish to revolutionize society--I declare to
you, Richie boy, delightful to my heart though I find your keen stroke of
repartee, still your fellow who takes the thrust gracefully, knows when
he's traversed by a master-stroke, and yields sign of it, instead of
plunging like a spitted buffalo and asking us to admire his agility--you
follow me?--I say I hold that man--and I delight vastly in ready wit; it
is the wine of language!--I regard that man as the superior being. True,
he is not so entertaining.'
My father pressed on my arm to intimate, with a cavernous significance of
eyebrow, that Captain DeWitt had the gift of repartee in perfection.
'Jorian,' said he, 'will you wager our editor declines to dine with us?'
The answer struck me as only passable. I think it was:
'When rats smell death in toasted cheese.'
Captain DeWitt sprang up the staircase of our hotel to his bedroom.
'I should not have forced him,' my father mused. 'Jorian DeWitt has at
times brilliant genius, Richie--in the way of rejoinders, I mean. This
is his happy moment--his one hour's dressing for dinner. I have watched
him; he most thoroughly enjoys it! I am myself a quick or slow dresser,
as the case may be. But to watch Jorian you cannot help entering into
his enjoyment of it. He will have his window with a view of the sunset;
there is his fire, his warmed linen, and his shirt-studs; his bath, his
choice of a dozen things he will or will not wear; the landlord's or
host's menu is up against the looking-glass, and the extremely handsome
miniature likeness of his wife, who is in the madhouse, by a celebrated
painter, I forget his name. Jorian calls this, new birth--you catch his
idea? He throws off the old and is on with the new with a highly hopeful
anticipation. His valet is a scoundrel, but never fails in extracting
the menu from the cook, wherever he may be, and, in fine, is too
attentive to the hour's devotion to be discarded! Poor Jorian. I know
no man I pity so much.'
I conceived him, I confessed, hardly pitiable, though not enviable.
'He has but six hundred a year, and a passion for Burgundy,' said my
We were four at table. The editor came, and his timidity soon wore off
in the warmth of hospitality. He appeared a kind exciteable little man,
glad of his dinner from the first, and in due time proud of his
entertainer. His response to the toast of the Fourth Estate was an
apology for its behaviour to my father. He regretted it; he regretted
it. A vinous speech.
My father heard him out. Addressing him subsequently,
'I would not interrupt you in the delivery of your sentiments,' he said.
'I must, however, man to man, candidly tell you I should have wished to
arrest your expressions of regret. They convey to my mind an idea, that
on receipt of my letter of invitation, you attributed to me a design to
corrupt you. Protest nothing, I beg. Editors are human, after all.
Now, my object is, that as you write of me, you should have some
knowledge of me; and I naturally am interested in one who does me so much
honour. The facts of my life are at your disposal for publication and
comment. Simply, I entreat you, say this one thing of me: I seek for
justice, but I never complain of my fortunes. Providence decides:--that
might be the motto engraven on my heart. Nay, I may risk declaring it
is! In the end I shall be righted. Meanwhile you contribute to my
happiness by favouring me with your society.'
'Ah, sir,' replied the little man, 'were all our great people like you!
In the country--the provinces--they treat the representatives of the
Fourth Estate as the squires a couple of generations back used to treat
'What! Have you got a place at their tables?' inquired Captain DeWitt.
'No, I cannot say that--not even below the salt. Mr. Richmond--Mr. Roy,
you may not be aware of it: I am the proprietor of the opposition
journals in this county. I tell you in confidence, one by itself would
not pay; and I am a printer, sir, and it is on my conscience to tell you
I have, in the course of business, been compelled this very morning to
receive orders for the printing of various squibs and, I much fear,
My father pacified him.
'You will do your duty to your family, Mr. Hickson.'
Deeply moved, the little man pulled out proof-sheets and slips.
'Even now, at the eleventh hour,' he urged, 'there is time to correct any
glaring falsehoods, insults, what not!'
My father accepted the copy of proofs.
'Not a word,--not a line! You spoke of the eleventh hour, Mr. Hickson.
If we are at all near the eleventh, I must be on my way to make my bow to
Lady Wilts; or is it Lady Denewdney's to-night? No, to-morrow night.'
A light of satisfaction came over Mr. Hickson's face at the mention of my
father's visiting both these sovereign ladies.
As soon as we were rid of him, Captain DeWitt exclaimed,
'If that's the Fourth Estate, what's the Realm?'
'The Estate,' pleaded my father, 'is here in its infancy--on all fours--'
'Prehensile! Egad, it has the vices of the other three besides its own.
Do you mean that by putting it on all fours?'
'Jorian, I have noticed that when you are malignant you are not witty.
We have to thank the man for not subjecting us to a pledge of secresy.
My Lady Wilts will find the proofs amusing. And mark, I do not examine
their contents before submitting them to her inspection. You will
testify to the fact.'
I was unaware that my father played a master-stroke in handing these
proof-sheets publicly to Lady Wilts for her perusal. The incident of the
evening was the display of her character shown by Miss Penrhys in
positively declining to quit the house until she likewise had cast her
eye on them. One of her aunts wept. Their carriage was kept waiting an
'You ask too much of me: I cannot turn her out', Lady Wilts said to her
uncle. And aside to my father, 'You will have to marry her.'
'In heaven's name keep me from marriage, my lady!' I heard him reply.
There was sincerity in his tone when he said that.
CONCLUSION OF THE BATH EPISODE
The friends of Miss Penrhys were ill advised in trying to cry down a man
like my father. Active persecution was the breath of life to him. When
untroubled he was apt to let both his ambition and his dignity slumber.
The squibs and scandal set afloat concerning him armed his wit, nerved
his temper, touched him with the spirit of enterprise; he became a new
creature. I lost sight of certain characteristics which I had begun to
ponder over critically. I believed with all my heart that circumstances
were blameable for much that did not quite please me. Upon the question
of his magnanimity, as well as of his courage, there could not be two
opinions. He would neither retort nor defend himself. I perceived some
grandeur in his conduct, without, however, appreciating it cordially, as
I did a refinement of discretion about him that kept him from brushing
good taste while launched in ostentatious displays. He had a fine tact
and a keen intuition. He may have thought it necessary to throw a little
dust in my eyes; but I doubt his having done it, for he had only, as he
knew, to make me jealous to blind me to his faults utterly, and he
In his allusions to the young lady he was apologetic, affectionate; one
might have fancied oneself listening to a gracious judge who had well
weighed her case, and exculpated her from other excesses than that of a
generous folly. Jorian DeWitt, a competent critic, pronounced his
behaviour consummate at all points. For my behoof, he hinted antecedent
reverses to the picture: meditating upon which, I traced them to the
fatal want of money, and that I might be able to fortify him in case of
need, I took my own counsel, and wrote to my aunt for the loan of as
large a sum as she could afford to send. Her eagerness for news of our
doings was insatiable. 'You do not describe her,' she replied, not
naming Miss Penrhys; and again, 'I can form no image of her. Your
accounts of her are confusing. Tell me earnestly, do you like her? She
must be very wilful, but is she really nice? I want to know how she
appears to my Harry's mind.'
My father borrowed these letters, and returning them to me, said, ' A
good soul! the best of women! There--there is a treasure lost!' His
forehead was clouded in speaking. He recommended me to assure my aunt
that she would never have to take a family interest in Miss Penrhys.
But this was not deemed perfectly satisfactory at Riversley. My aunt
wrote: 'Am I to understand that you, Harry, raise objections to her?
Think first whether she is in herself objectionable. She is rich, she
may be prudent, she may be a forethoughtful person. She may not be able
to support a bitter shock of grief. She may be one who can help. She
may not be one whose heart will bear it. Put your own feelings aside, my
dearest. Our duties cannot ever be clear to us until we do. It is
possible for headstrong wilfulness and secret tenderness to go together.
Think whether she is capable of sacrifice before you compel her to it.
Do not inflict misery wantonly. One would like to see her. Harry, I
brood on your future; that is why I seem to you preternaturally anxious
She seemed to me preternaturally anxious about Miss Penrhys.
My father listened in silence to my flippant satire on women's letters.
He answered after a pause,
'Our Jorian says that women's letters must be read like anagrams. To put
it familiarly, they are like a child's field of hop-scotch. You may have
noticed the urchins at their game: a bit of tile, and a variety of
compartments to pass it through to the base, hopping. Or no, Richie,
pooh! 'tis an unworthy comparison, this hopscotch. I mean, laddie, they
write in zigzags; and so will you when your heart trumpets in your ear.
Tell her, tell that dear noble good woman--say, we are happy, you and I,
and alone, and shall be; and do me the favour--she loves you, my son--
address her sometimes--she has been it--call her "mother"; she will like
it she deserves--nothing shall supplant her!'
He lost his voice.
She sent me three hundred pounds; she must have supposed the occasion
pressing. Thus fortified against paternal improvidence, I expended a
hundred in the purchase of a horse, and staked the remainder on him in a
match, and was beaten. Disgusted with the horse, I sold him for half his
purchase-money, and with that sum paid a bill to maintain my father's
credit in the town. Figuratively speaking, I looked at my hands as
astonished as I had been when the poor little rascal in the street
snatched my cake, and gave me the vision of him gorging it in the
flurried alley of the London crowd.
'Money goes,' I remarked.
'That is the general experience of the nature of money,' said my father
freshly; 'but nevertheless you will be surprised to find how
extraordinarily few are the people to make allowance for particular
cases. It plays the trick with everybody, and almost nobody lets it
stand as a plea for the individual. Here is Jorian, and you, my son, and
perhaps your aunt Dorothy, and upon my word, I think I have numbered all
I know--or, ay, Sukey Sampleman, I should not omit her in an honourable
list--and that makes positively all I know who would commiserate a man
touched on the shoulder by a sheriff's officer--not that such an
indignity is any longer done to me.'
'I hope we have seen the last of Shylock's great-grandnephew,' said I
'Merely to give you the instance, Richie. Ay! I hope so, I hope so !
But it is the nature of money that you never can tell if the boarding's
sound, once be dependent upon it. But this is talk for tradesmen.'
Thinking it so myself, I had not attempted to discover the source of my
father's income. Such as it was, it was paid half-yearly, and spent
within a month of the receipt, for the most signal proof possible of its
shameful insufficiency. Thus ten months of the year at least he lived
protesting, and many with him, compulsorily. For two months he was a
brilliant man. I penetrated his mystery enough to abstain from
questioning him, and enough to determine that on my coming of age he
should cease to be a pensioner, petitioner, and adventurer. He aimed at
a manifest absurdity.
In the meantime, after the lesson I had received as to the nature of
money, I saw with some alarm my father preparing to dig a great pit for
it. He had no doubt performed wonders. Despite of scandal and tattle,
and the deadly report of a penniless fortune-hunter having fascinated the
young heiress, he commanded an entrance to the receptions of both the
rival ladies dominant. These ladies, Lady Wilts and Lady Denewdney, who
moved each in her select half-circle, and could heretofore be induced by
none to meet in a common centre, had pledged themselves to honour with
their presence a ball he proposed to give to the choice world here
assembled on a certain illuminated day of the calendar.
'So I have now possession of Bath, Richie,' said he, twinkling to
propitiate me, lest I should suspect him of valuing his achievements
highly. He had, he continued, promised Hickson of the Fourth Estate,
that he would, before leaving the place, do his utmost to revive the
ancient glories of Bath: Bath had once set the fashion to the kingdom;
why not again? I might have asked him, why at all, or why at his
expense; but his lead was irresistible. Captain DeWitt and his valet,
and I, and a score of ladies, scores of tradesmen, were rushing,
reluctant or not, on a torrent. My part was to show that I was an
athlete, and primarily that I could fence and shoot. 'It will do no harm
to let it be known,' said DeWitt. He sat writing letters incessantly.
My father made the tour of his fair stewardesses from noon to three,
after receiving in audience his jewellers, linen-drapers, carpenters,
confectioners, from nine in the morning till twelve. At three o'clock
business ceased. Workmen then applying to him for instructions were
despatched to the bar of the hotel, bearing the recommendation to the
barmaid not to supply them refreshment if they had ever in their lives
been seen drunk. At four he dressed for afternoon parade. Nor could his
enemy have said that he was not the chief voice and eye along his line of
march. His tall full figure maintained a superior air without insolence,
and there was a leaping beam in his large blue eyes, together with the
signification of movement coming to his kindly lips, such as hardly ever
failed to waken smiles of greeting. People smiled and bowed, and forgot
their curiosity, forgot even to be critical, while he was in sight. I
can say this, for I was acutely critical of their bearing; the atmosphere
of the place was never perfectly pleasing to me.
My attitude of watchful reserve, and my reputation as the heir of immense
wealth, tended possibly to constrain a certain number of the inimical
party to be ostensibly civil. Lady Wilts, who did me the honour to
patronize me almost warmly, complimented me on my manner of backing him,
as if I were the hero; but I felt his peculiar charm; she partly admitted
it, making a whimsical mouth, saying, in allusion to Miss Penrhys, 'I,
you know, am past twenty. At twenty forty is charming; at forty twenty.'
Where I served him perhaps was in showing my resolution to protect him:
he had been insulted before my arrival. The male relatives of Miss
Penrhys did not repeat the insult; they went to Lady Wilts and groaned
over their hard luck in not having the option of fighting me. I was, in
her phrase, a new piece on the board, and checked them. Thus, if they
provoked a challenge from me, they brought the destructive odour of
powder about the headstrong creature's name. I was therefore of use to
him so far. I leaned indolently across the rails of the promenade while
she bent and chattered in his ear, and her attendant cousin and cavalier
chewed vexation in the form of a young mustachio's curl. His horse
fretted; he murmured deep notes, and his look was savage; but he was
bound to wait on her, and she would not go until it suited her pleasure.
She introduced him to me--as if conversation could be carried on between
two young men feeling themselves simply pieces on the board, one giving
check, and the other chafing under it! I need not say that I disliked my
situation. It was worse when my father took to bowing to her from a
distance, unobservant of her hand's prompt pull at the reins as soon as
she saw him. Lady Wilts had assumed the right of a woman still
possessing attractions to exert her influence with him on behalf of the
family, for I had done my best to convince her that he entertained no
serious thought of marrying, and decidedly would not marry without my
approval. He acted on her advice to discourage the wilful girl.
'How is it I am so hateful to you?' Miss Penrhys accosted me abruptly.
I fancied she must have gone mad, and an interrogative frown was my sole
'Oh! I hear that you pronounce me everywhere unendurable,' she
continued. 'You are young, and you misjudge me in some way, and I should
be glad if you knew me better. By-and-by, in Wales.--Are you fond of
mountain scenery? We might be good friends; my temper is not bad--at
least, I hope not. Heaven knows what one's relatives think of one. Will
you visit us? I hear you have promised your confidante, Lady Wilts.'
At a dancing party where we met, she was thrown on my hands by her
ungovernable vehemence, and I, as I had told Lady Wilts, not being able
to understand the liking of twenty for forty (fifty would have been
nearer the actual mark, or sixty), offered her no lively sympathy. I
believe she had requested my father to pay public court to her. If
Captain DeWitt was to be trusted, she desired him to dance, and dance
with her exclusively, and so confirm and defy the tattle of the town; but
my father hovered between the dowagers. She in consequence declined to
dance, which was the next worse thing she could do. An aunt, a miserable
woman, was on her left; on her right she contrived, too frequently for my
peace of mind, to reserve a vacant place for me, and she eyed me intently
across the room, under her persistent brows, until perforce I was drawn
to her side. I had to listen to a repetition of sharp queries and
replies, and affect a flattered gaiety, feeling myself most
uncomfortably, as Captain DeWitt (who watched us) said, Chip the son of
Block the father. By fixing the son beside her, she defeated the
father's scheme of coldness, and made it appear a concerted piece of
policy. Even I saw that. I saw more than I grasped. Love for my father
was to my mind a natural thing, a proof of taste and goodness; women
might love him; but the love of a young girl with the morning's mystery
about her! and for my progenitor!--a girl (as I reflected in the midst of
my interjections) well-built, clear-eyed, animated, clever, with soft
white hands and pretty feet; how could it be? She was sombre as a sunken
fire until he at last came round to her, and then her sudden vivacity was
Affairs were no further advanced when I had to obey the squire's commands
and return to Riversley, missing the night of the grand ball with no
profound regret, except for my father's sake. He wrote soon after one of
his characteristic letters, to tell me that the ball had, been a success.
Immediately upon this announcement, he indulged luxurious reflections, as
his manner was:
'To have stirred up the old place and given it something to dream of for
the next half century, is a satisfaction, Richie. I have a kindness for
Bath. I leave it with its factions reconciled, its tea-tables furnished
with inexhaustible supplies of the chief thing necessary, and the
persuasion firmly established in my own bosom that it is impossible to
revive the past, so we must march with the age. And let me add, all but
every one of the bills happily discharged, to please you. Pray, fag at
your German. If (as I myself confess to) you have enjoyment of old ways,
habits, customs, and ceremonies, look to Court life. It is only in
Courts that a man may now air a leg; and there the women are works of
Art. If you are deficient in calves (which my boy, thank heaven! will
never be charged with) you are there found out, and in fact every
deficiency, every qualification, is at once in patent exhibition at a
Court. I fancy Parliament for you still, and that is no impediment as a
step. Jorian would have you sit and wallow in ease, and buy (by the way,
we might think of it) a famous Burgundy vineyard (for an investment),
devote the prime of your life to the discovery of a cook, your manhood to
perfect the creature's education--so forth; I imagine you are to get five
years of ample gratification (a promise hardly to be relied on) in the
sere leaf, and so perish. Take poor Jorian for an example of what the
absence of ambition brings men to. I treasure Jorian, I hoard the poor
fellow, to have him for a lesson to my boy. Witty and shrewd, and a
masterly tactician (I wager he would have won his spurs on the field of
battle), you see him now living for one hour of the day--absolutely
twenty-three hours of the man's life are chained slaves, beasts of
burden, to the four-and-twentieth! So, I repeat, fag at your German.
'Miss Penrhys retires to her native Wales; Jorian and I on to London, to
the Continent. Plinlimmon guard us all! I send you our local
newspapers. That I cut entrechats is false. It happens to be a thing I
could do, and not an Englishman in England except myself; only I did not
do it. I did appear in what I was educated to believe was the evening
suit of a gentleman, and I cannot perceive the immodesty of showing my
leg. A dress that is not indecent, and is becoming to me, and is the
dress of my fathers, I wear, and I impose it on the generation of my sex.
However, I dined Hickson of the Fourth Estate (Jorian considers him
hungry enough to eat up his twentieth before he dies--I forget the
wording of the mot), that he might know I was without rancour in the end,
as originally I had been without any intention of purchasing his
allegiance. He offered me his columns; he wished me luck with the
heiress; by his Gods, he swore he worshipped entrechats, and held a silk
leg the most admirable work of the manufactures. "Sir, you're a
gentleman," says he; "you're a nobleman, sir; you 're a prince, you 're a
star of the first magnitude." Cries Jorian, "Retract that, scum! you
see nothing large but what you dare to think neighbours you," and
quarrels the inebriate dog. And this is the maker and destroyer of
reputations in his day! I study Hickson as a miraculous engine of the
very simplest contrivance; he is himself the epitome of a verdict on his
period. Next day he disclaimed in his opposition penny sheet the report
of the entrechats, and "the spectators laughing consumedly," and sent me
(as I had requested him to do) the names of his daughters, to whom I
transmit little comforting presents, for if they are nice children such a
parent must afflict them.
'Cultivate Lady Wilts. You have made an impression. She puts you
forward as a good specimen of our young men. 'Hem! madam.
'But, my dear boy, as I said, we cannot revive the past. I acknowledge
it. Bath rebukes my last fit of ambition, and the experience is very
well worth the expense. You have a mind, Richie, for discussing outlay,
upon which I congratulate you, so long as you do not overlook
equivalents. The system of the world is barter varied by robbery. Show
that you have something in hand, and you enjoy the satisfaction of
knowing that you were not robbed. I pledge you my word to it--I shall
not repeat Bath. And mark you, an heiress is never compromised. I am
not, I hope, responsible for every creature caught up in my circle of
attraction. Believe me, dear boy, I should consult you, and another one,
estimable beyond mortal speech! if I had become involved--impossible!
No; I am free of all fresh chains, because of the old ones. Years will
not he sufficient for us when you and I once begin to talk in earnest,
when I open! To resume--so I leave Bath with a light conscience. Mixed
with pleasant recollections is the transient regret that you were not a
spectator of the meeting of the Wilts and Denewdney streams. Jorian
compared them to the Rhone and the--I forget the name of the river below
Geneva--dirtyish; for there was a transparent difference in the Denewdney
style of dress, and did I choose it I could sit and rule those two
factions as despotically as Buonaparte his Frenchmen. Ask me what I mean
by scaling billows, Richie. I will some day tell you. I have done it
all my life, and here I am. But I thank heaven I have a son I love, and
I can match him against the best on earth, and henceforward I live for
him, to vindicate and right the boy, and place him in his legitimate
sphere. From this time I take to looking exclusively forward, and I
labour diligently. I have energies.
'Not to boast, darling old son, I tell truth; I am only happy when my
heart is beating near you. Here comes the mother in me pumping up.
Adieu. Lebe wohl. The German!--the German!--may God in his
Barmherzigkeit!--Tell her I never encouraged the girl, have literally
nothing to trace a temporary wrinkle on my forehead as regards
conscience. I say, may it please Providence to make you a good German
scholar by the day of your majority. Hurrah for it! Present my humble
warm respects to your aunt Dorothy. I pray to heaven nightly for one of
its angels on earth. Kunst, Wissenschaft, Ehre, Liebe. Die Liebe.
Quick at the German poets. Frau: Fraulein. I am actually dazzled at the
prospect of our future. To be candid, I no longer see to write. Gruss'
dich herzlich. From Vienna to you next. Lebe wohl!'
My aunt Dorothy sent a glance at the letter while I was folding it
evidently thinking my unwillingness to offer it a sign of bad news or
fresh complications. She spoke of Miss Penrhys.
'Oh! that's over,' said I. 'Heiresses soon get consoled.'
She accused me of having picked up a vulgar idea. I maintained that it
was my father's.
'It cannot be your father's,' said she softly; and on affirming that he
had uttered it and written it, she replied in the same tone, more
effective than the ordinary language of conviction, 'He does not think
The rage of a youth to prove himself in the right of an argument was
insufficient to make me lay the letter out before other eyes than my own,
and I shrank from exposing it to compassionate gentle eyes that would
have pleaded similar allowances to mine for the wildness of the style.
I should have thanked, but despised the intelligence of one who framed
my excuses for my father, just as the squire, by abusing him, would have
made me a desperate partisan in a minute. The vitality of the delusion I
cherished was therefore partly extinct; not so the love; yet the love of
him could no longer shake itself free from oppressive shadows.
Out of his circle of attraction books were my resource.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
He would neither retort nor defend himself
I laughed louder than was necessary
Tis the fashion to have our tattle done by machinery
THE ADVENTURES OF HARRY RICHMOND
By George Meredith
XXIII. MY TWENTY-FIRST BIRTHDAY
XXIV. I MEET THE PRINCESS
XXV. ON BOARD A YACHT
XXVI. IN VIEW OF THE HOHENZOLLERN'S BIRTHPLACE
XXVII. THE TIME OF ROSES
XXIX. AN EVENING WITH DR. JULIUS VON KARSTEG
XXX. A SUMMER STORM, AND LOVE
XXXI. PRINCESS OTTILIA'S LETTER
XXXII. AN INTERVIEW WITH PRINCE ERNEST AND A MEETING WITH PRINCE OTTO
MY TWENTY-FIRST BIRTHDAY
Books and dreams, like the two rivers cited by my father, flowed side by
side in me without mixing; and which the bright Rhone was, which the
brown Arve, needs not to be told to those who know anything of youth;
they were destined to intermingle soon enough. I read well, for I felt
ground and had mounting views; the real world, and the mind and passions
of the world, grew visible to me. My tutor pleased the squire immensely
by calling me matter-of-fact. In philosophy and history I hated
speculation; but nothing was too fantastic for my ideas of possible
occurrences. Once away from books, I carried a head that shot rockets to
the farthest hills.
My dear friend Temple was at sea, or I should have had one near me to
detect and control the springs of nonsense. I was deemed a remarkably
quiet sober thoughtful young man, acquiescent in all schemes projected
for my welfare. The squire would have liked to see me courting the girl
of his heart, as he termed Janet Ilchester, a little more
demonstratively. We had, however, come to the understanding that I was
to travel before settling. Traditional notions of the importance of the
Grand Tour in the education of gentlemen led him to consent to my taking
a year on the Continent accompanied by my tutor. He wanted some one, he
said, to represent him when I was out over there; which signified that he
wanted some one to keep my father in check; but as the Rev. Ambrose
Peterborough, successor to the Rev. Simon Hart, was hazy and manageable,
I did not object. Such faith had the quiet thoughtful young man at
Riversley in the convulsions of the future, the whirlwinds and whirlpools
spinning for him and all connected with him, that he did not object to
hear his name and Janet's coupled, though he had not a spark of love for
I tried to realize to myself the general opinion that she was handsome.
Her eyebrows were thick and level and long; her eyes direct in their
gaze, of a flinty blue, with dark lashes; her nose firm, her lips
fullish, firm when joined; her shape straight, moderately flexible. But
she had no softness; she could admire herself in my presence; she claimed
possession of me openly, and at the same time openly provoked a siege
from the remainder of my sex: she was not maidenly. She caught
imagination by the sleeve, and shut it between square whitewashed walls.
Heriot thought her not only handsome, but comparable to Mrs. William
Bulsted, our Julia Rippenger of old. At his meeting with Julia, her
delicious loss of colour made her seem to me one of the loveliest women
on earth. Janet never lost colour, rarely blushed; she touched neither
nerve nor fancy.
'You want a rousing coquette,' said Heriot; 'you won't be happy till
you 've been racked by that nice instrument of torture, and the fair
Bulsted will do it for you if you like. You don't want a snake or a
common serpent, you want a Python.'
I wanted bloom and mystery, a woman shifting like the light with evening
and night and dawn, and sudden fire. Janet was bald to the heart
inhabiting me then, as if quite shaven. She could speak her affectionate
mind as plain as print, and it was dull print facing me, not the arches
of the sunset. Julia had only to lisp, 'my husband,' to startle and
agitate me beyond expression. She said simple things--'I slept well last
night,' or ' I dreamed,' or ' I shivered,' and plunged me headlong down
impenetrable forests. The mould of her mouth to a reluctant 'No,' and
her almost invariable drawing in of her breath with a 'Yes,' surcharged
the everyday monosyllables with meanings of life and death. At last I
was reduced to tell her, seeing that she reproached my coldness for
Janet, how much I wished Janet resembled her. Her Irish eyes lightened:
'Me! Harry'; then they shadowed: 'She is worth ten of me.' Such pathetic
humility tempted me to exalt her supremely.
I talked like a boy, feeling like a man: she behaved like a woman,
blushing like a girl.
'Julia! I can never call you Mrs. Bulsted.'
'You have an affection for my husband, have you not, Harry?'
Of a season when this was adorable language to me, the indication is
sufficient. Riding out perfectly crazed by it, I met Kiomi, and
transferred my emotions. The squire had paid her people an annual sum to
keep away from our neighbourhood, while there was a chance of my taking
to gipsy life. They had come back to their old camping-ground, rather
dissatisfied with the squire.
'Speak to him yourself, Kiomi,' said I; 'whatever you ask for, he can't
refuse anything to such eyes as yours.'
'You!' she rallied me; 'why can't you talk sensible stuff!'
She had grown a superb savage, proof against weather and compliments.
Her face was like an Egyptian sky fronting night. The strong old Eastern
blood put ruddy flame for the red colour; tawny olive edged from the red;
rare vivid yellow, all but amber. The light that first looks down upon
the fallen sun was her complexion above the brows, and round the cheeks,
the neck's nape, the throat, and the firm bosom prompt to lift and sink
with her vigour of speech, as her eyes were to flash and darken. Meeting
her you swore she was the personification of wandering Asia. There was
no question of beauty and grace, for these have laws. The curve of her
brows broke like a beaten wave; the lips and nostrils were wide, tragic
in repose. But when she laughed she illuminated you; where she stepped
she made the earth hers. She was as fresh of her East as the morning
when her ancient people struck tents in the track of their shadows.
I write of her in the style consonant to my ideas of her at the time.
I would have carried her off on the impulse and lived her life, merely to
have had such a picture moving in my sight, and call it mine.
'You're not married?' I said, ludicrously faintly.
'I 've not seen the man I'd marry,' she answered, grinning scorn.
The prizefighter had adopted drinking for his pursuit; one of her aunts
was dead, and she was in quest of money to bury the dead woman with the
conventional ceremonies and shows of respect dear to the hearts of
gipsies, whose sense of propriety and adherence to customs are a
sentiment indulged by them to a degree unknown to the stabled classes.
In fact, they have no other which does not come under the definite title
of pride;--pride in their physical prowess, their dexterity, ingenuity,
and tricksiness, and their purity of blood. Kiomi confessed she had
hoped to meet me; confessed next that she had been waiting to jump out on
me: and next that she had sat in a tree watching the Grange yesterday for
six hours; and all for money to do honour to her dead relative, poor
little soul! Heriot and I joined the decent procession to the grave.
Her people had some quarrel with the Durstan villagers, and she feared
the scandal of being pelted on the way to the church. I knew that
nothing of the sort would happen if I was present. Kiomi walked humbly
with her head bent, leaving me the thick rippling coarse black locks of
her hair for a mark of observation. We were entertained at her camp in
the afternoon. I saw no sign of intelligence between her and Heriot.
On my asking her, the day before, if she remembered him, she said, 'I do,
I'm dangerous for that young man.' Heriot's comment on her was impressed
on me by his choosing to call her 'a fine doe leopard,' and maintaining
that it was a defensible phrase.
She was swept from my amorous mind by Mabel Sweetwinter, the miller's
daughter of Dipwell. This was a Saxon beauty in full bud, yellow as mid-
May, with the eyes of opening June. Beauty, you will say, is easily
painted in that style. But the sort of beauty suits the style, and the
well-worn comparisons express the well-known type. Beside Kiomi she was
like a rich meadow on the border of the heaths.
We saw them together on my twenty-first birthday. To my shame I awoke in
the early morning at Riversley, forgetful of my father's old appointment
for the great Dipwell feast. Not long after sunrise, when blackbirds
peck the lawns, and swallows are out from under eaves to the flood's
face, I was hailed by Janet Ilchester beneath my open windows. I knew
she had a bet with the squire that she would be the first to hail me
legal man, and was prepared for it. She sat on horseback alone in the
hazy dewy Midsummer morning, giving clear note:
'Whoop! Harry Richmond! halloo!' To which I tossed her a fox's brush,
having a jewelled bracelet pendant. She missed it and let it lie, and
'No, no; it's foxie himself!--anybody may have the brush. You're
dressed, are you, Harry? You were sure I should come? A thousand happy
years to you, and me to see them, if you don't mind. I 'm first to wish
it, I'm certain. I was awake at three, out at halfpast, over Durstan
heath, across Eckerthy's fields--we'll pay the old man for damage--down
by the plantation, Bran and Sailor at my heels, and here I am. Crow,
cocks! bark, dogs! up, larks! I said I'd be first. And now I 'm round
to stables to stir up Uberly. Don't be tardy, Mr. Harry, and we'll be
Commodore Arson and his crew before the world's awake.'
We rode out for a couple of hours, and had to knock at a farmhouse for
milk and bread. Possibly a sense of independence, owing to the snatching
of a meal in midflight away from home, made Janet exclaim that she would
gladly be out all day. Such freaks were exceedingly to my taste. Then I
remembered Dipwell, and sure that my father would be there, though he had
not written of it, I proposed to ride over. She pleaded for the horses
and the squire alternately. Feasting was arranged at Riversley, as well
as at Dipwell, and she said musically,
'Harry, the squire is a very old man, and you may not have many more
chances of pleasing him. To-day do, do! To-morrow, ride to your father,
if you must: of course you must if you think it right; but don't go this
'Not upset my fortune, Janet?'
'Don't hurt the kind old man's heart to-day.'
'Oh! you're the girl of his heart, I know.'
'Well, Harry, you have first place, and I want you to keep it.'
'But here's an oath I've sworn to my father.'
'He should not have exacted it, I think.'
'I promised him when I was a youngster.'
'Then be wiser now, Harry.'
'You have brilliant ideas of the sacredness of engagements.'
'I think I have common sense, that's all.'
'This is a matter of feeling.'
'It seems that you forgot it, though!'
Kiomi's tents on Durstan heath rose into view. I controlled my verbal
retort upon Janet to lead her up to the gipsy girl, for whom she had an
odd aversion, dating from childhood. Kiomi undertook to ride to Dipwell,
a distance of thirty miles, and carry the message that I would be there
by nightfall. Tears were on Janet's resolute face as we cantered home.
After breakfast the squire introduced me to his lawyer, Mr. Burgin, who,
closeted alone with me, said formally,
'Mr. Harry Richmond, you are Squire Beltham's grandson, his sole male
descendant, and you are established at present, and as far as we can
apprehend for the future, as the direct heir to the whole of his
property, which is enormous now, and likely to increase so long as he
lives. You may not be aware that your grandfather has a most sagacious
eye for business. Had he not been born a rich man he would still have
been one of our very greatest millionaires. He has rarely invested but
to double his capital; never speculated but to succeed. He may not
understand men quite so well, but then he trusts none entirely; so if
there is a chasm in his intelligence, there is a bridge thrown across it.
The metaphor is obscure perhaps: you will doubtless see my meaning. He
knows how to go on his road without being cheated. For himself, your
grandfather, Mr. Harry, is the soul of honour. Now, I have to explain
certain family matters. The squire's wife, your maternal grandmother,
was a rich heiress. Part of her money was settled on her to descend to
her children by reversion upon her death. What she herself possessed she
bequeathed to them in reversion likewise to their children. Thus at your
maternal grandmother's death, your mother and your aunt inherited money
to use as their own, and the interest of money tied fast in reversion to
their children (in case of marriage) after their death. Your
grandfather, as your natural guardian, has left the annual interest of
your money to accumulate, and now you are of age he hands it to you, as
you see, without much delay. Thus you become this day the possessor of
seventy thousand pounds, respecting the disposal of which I am here to
take your orders. Ahem!--as to the remaining property of your mother's--
the sum held by her for her own use, I mean, it devolved to her husband,
your father, who, it is probable, will furnish you an account of it--ah!
--at his leisure--ah! um! And now, in addition, Mr. Harry, I have the
squire's commands to speak to you as a man of business, on what may be
deemed a delicate subject, though from the business point of view no
peculiar delicacy should pertain to it. Your grandfather will settle on
you estates and money to the value of twenty thousand pounds per annum on
the day of your union with a young lady in this district, Miss Janet
Ilchester. He undertakes likewise to provide her pin-money. Also, let
me observe, that it is his request--but he makes no stipulation of it
that you will ultimately assume the name of Beltham, subscribing yourself
Harry Lepel Richmond Beltham; or, if it pleases you, Richmond-Beltham,
with the junction hyphen. Needless to say, he leaves it to your
decision. And now, Mr. Harry, I have done, and may most cordially
congratulate you on the blessings it has pleased a kind and discerning
Providence to shower on your head.'
None so grimly ironical as the obsequious! I thought of Burgin's
'discerning' providence (he spoke with all professional sincerity) in
On the occasion I thought of nothing but the squire's straight-
forwardness, and grieved to have to wound him. Janet helped me.
She hinted with a bashfulness, quite new to her, that I must go through
some ceremony. Guessing what it was, I saluted her on the cheek. The
squire observed that a kiss of that sort might as well have been planted
on her back hair. 'But,' said he, and wisely, 'I'd rather have the girl
worth ten of you, than you be more than her match. Girls like my girl
here are precious.' Owing to her intercession, he winked at my departure
after I had done duty among the tenants; he barely betrayed his vexation,
and it must have been excessive.
Heriot and I rode over to Dipwell. Next night we rode back by moonlight
with matter for a year of laughter, singing like two Arabian poets
praises of dark and fair, challengeing one to rival the other. Kiomi!
Mabel! we shouted separately. We had just seen the dregs of the last of
the birthday Burgundy.
'Kiomi! what a splendid panther she is!' cries Heriot; and I: 'Teeth and
claws, and a skin like a burnt patch on a common! Mabel's like a
'Butter and eggs! old Richie, and about as much fire as a rushlight. If
the race were Fat she 'd beat the world.'
'Heriot, I give you my word of honour, the very look of her 's eternal
Summer. Kiomi rings thin--she tinkles; it 's the difference between
metal and flesh.'
'Did she tinkle, as you call it, when that fellow Destrier, confound him!
'The little cat! Did you notice Mabel's blush?'
'How could I help it? We've all had a dozen apiece. You saw little
Kiomi curled up under the hop and briony?'
'I took her for a dead jackdaw.'
'I took her for what she is, and she may slap, scream, tear, and bite,
I 'll take her yet-and all her tribe crying thief, by way of a diversion.
She and I are footed a pair.'
His impetuosity surpassed mine so much that I fell to brooding on the
superior image of my charmer. The result was, I could not keep away from
her. I managed to get home with leaden limbs. Next day I was back at
Such guilt as I have to answer for I may avow. I made violent love to
this silly country beauty, and held every advantage over her other
flatterers. She had met me on the evening of the great twenty-first, she
and a line of damsels dressed in white and wearing wreaths, and I had
claimed the privilege of saluting her. The chief superintendent of the
festivities, my father's old cook, Monsieur Alphonse, turned twilight
into noonday with a sheaf of rockets at the moment my lips brushed her
cheek. It was a kiss marred; I claimed to amend it. Besides, we had
been bosom friends in childhood. My wonder at the growth of the rose I
had left but an insignificant thorny shoot was exquisite natural
flattery, sweet reason, to which she could not say nonsense. At each
step we trod on souvenirs, innocent in themselves, had they recurred to
childish minds. The whisper, 'Hark! it's sunset, Mabel, Martha Thresher
calls,' clouded her face with stormy sunset colours. I respected Martha
even then for boldly speaking to me on the girl's behalf. Mrs. Waddy's
courage failed. John Thresher and Mark Sweetwinter were overcome by my
father's princely prodigality; their heads were turned, they appeared to
have assumed that I could do no wrong. To cut short the episode, some
one wrote to the squire in uncouth English, telling him I was courting a
country lass, and he at once started me for the Continent. We had some
conversation on money before parting. The squire allowed me a thousand a
year, independent of my own income. He counselled prudence, warned me
that I was on my trial, and giving me his word of honour that he should
not spy into my Bank accounts, desired me to be worthy of the trust
reposed in me. Speculation he forbade. I left him satisfied with the
assurance that I meant to make my grand tour neither as a merchant, a
gambler, nor a rake, but simply as a plain English gentleman.
'There's nothing better in the world than that,' said he.
Arrived in London, I left my travelling companion, the Rev. Ambrose
Peterborough, sipping his Port at the hotel, and rushed down to Dipwell,
shot a pebble at Mabel's window by morning twilight, and soon had her
face at the casement. But it was a cloudy and rainbeaten face. She
pointed toward the farm, saying that my father was there.
'Has he grieved you, Mabel?' I asked softly.
'Oh, no, not he! he wouldn't, he couldn't; he talked right. Oh, go, go:
for I haven't a foot to move. And don't speak so soft; I can't bear
My father in admonishing her had done it tenderly, I was sure.
Tenderness was the weapon which had wounded her, and so she shrank from
it; and if I had reproached and abused her she might, perhaps, have
obeyed me by coming out, not to return. She was deaf. I kissed my hand
to her regretfully; a condition of spirit gradually dissolved by the
haunting phantom of her forehead and mouth crumpling up for fresh floods
of tears. Had she concealed that vision with her handkerchief, I might
have waited to see her before I saw my father. He soon changed the set
of the current.
'Our little Mabel here,' he said, 'is an inflammable puss, I fear. By
the way, talking of girls, I have a surprise for you. Remind me of it
when we touch Ostend. We may want a yacht there to entertain high
company. I have set inquiries afloat for the hire of a schooner. This
child Mabel can read and write, I suppose? Best write no letters, boy.
Do not make old Dipwell a thorny bed. I have a portrait to show you,
Richie. A portrait! I think you will say the original was worthy of
more than to be taken up and thrown away like a weed. You see, Richie,
girls have only one chance in the world, and good God! to ruin that--no,
no. You shall see this portrait. A pretty little cow-like Mabel, I
grant you. But to have her on the conscience! What a coronet to wear!
My young Lord Destrier--you will remember him as one of our guests here;
I brought him to make your acquaintance; well, he would not be
scrupulous, it is possible. Ay, but compare yourself with him, Richie!
and you and I, let us love one another and have no nettles.'
He flourished me away to London, into new spheres of fancy. He was
In a London Club I was led up to the miniature of a youthful woman,
singular for her endearing beauty Her cheeks were merry red, her lips
lively with the spark of laughter, her eyes in good union with them,
showing you the laughter was gentle; eyes of overflowing blue light.
'Who is she?' I asked.
The old-fashioned building of the powdered hair counselled me to add,
'Who was she?'
Captain DeWitt, though a member of the Club, seemed unable to inform me.
His glance consulted my father. He hummed and drawled, and said:
'Mistress Anastasia Dewsbury; that was her name.'
'She does not look a grandmother,' said my father.
'She would be one by this time, I dare say,' said I.
We gazed in silence.
'Yes!' he sighed. 'She was a charming actress, and one of the best of
women. A noble-minded young woman! A woman of cultivation and genius!
Do you see a broken heart in that face? No? Very well. A walk will
take us to her grave. She died early.'
I was breathing 'Who?' when he said, 'She was my mother, my dear.'
It was piteous.
We walked to an old worn flat stone in a London street, where under I had
to imagine those features of beautiful humanity lying shut from us.
She had suffered in life miserably.
I MEET THE PRINCESS
Hearing that I had not slept at the hotel, the Rev. Ambrose rushed down
to Riversley with melancholy ejaculations, and was made to rebound by the
squire's contemptuous recommendation to him to learn to know something of
the spirit of young bloods, seeing that he had the nominal charge of one,
and to preach his sermon in secret, if he would be sermonizing out of
church. The good gentleman had not exactly understood his duties, or how
to conduct them. Far from objecting to find me in company with my
father, as he would otherwise have done by transmitting information of
that fact to Riversley, he now congratulated himself on it, and after the
two had conversed apart, cordially agreed to our scheme of travelling
together. The squire had sickened him. I believe that by comparison he
saw in my father a better friend of youth.
'We shall not be the worse for a ghostly adviser at hand,' my father said
to me with his quaintest air of gravity and humour mixed, which was not
insincerely grave, for the humour was unconscious. 'An accredited
casuist may frequently be a treasure. And I avow it, I like to travel
with my private chaplain.'
Mr. Peterborough's temporary absence had allowed me time for getting
ample funds placed at our disposal through the agency of my father's
solicitors, Messrs. Dettermain and Newson, whom I already knew from
certain transactions with them on his behalf. They were profoundly
courteous to me, and showed me his box, and alluded to his Case--a long
one, and a lamentable, I was taught to apprehend, by their lugubriously
professional tone about it. The question was naturally prompted in me,
'Why do you not go on with it?'
'Want of funds.'
'There's no necessity to name that now,' I insisted. But my father
desired them to postpone any further exposition of the case, saying,
'Pleasure first, business by-and-by. That, I take it, is in the order of
our great mother Nature, gentlemen. I will not have him help shoulder
his father's pack until he has had his, fill of entertainment.'
A smooth voyage brought us in view of the towers of Ostend at sunrise.
Standing with my father on deck, and gazing on this fringe of the grand
romantic Continent, I remembered our old travels, and felt myself bound
to him indissolubly, ashamed of my recent critical probings of his
character. My boy's love for him returned in full force. I was
sufficiently cognizant of his history to know that he kept his head
erect, lighted by the fire of his robust heart in the thick of
overhanging natal clouds. As the way is with men when they are too happy
to be sentimental, I chattered of anything but my feelings.
'What a capital idea that was of yours to bring down old Alphonse to
Dipwell! You should have heard old John Thresher and Mark Sweetwinter
and the others grumbling at the interference of "French frogs;" with
their beef, though Alphonse vowed he only ordered the ox to be turned
faster, and he dressed their potatoes in six different ways. I doubt if
Dipwell has composed itself yet. You know I sat for president in their
tent while the beef went its first round; and Alphonse was in an awful
hurry to drag me into what he called the royal tent. By the way, you
should have hauled the standard down at sunset.'
'Not when the son had not come down among us,' said my father, smiling.
'Well, I forgot to tell you about Alphonse. By the way, we'll have him
in our service. There was he plucking at me: "Monsieur Henri-Richie,
Monsieur Henri-Richie! mille complimens . . . et les potages,
Monsieur! --a la Camerani, a la tortue, aux petits pois . . . c'est en
vrai artiste que j'ai su tout retarder jusqu'au dernier moment . . . .
Monsieur! cher Monsieur Henri-Richie, je vous en supplie, laissez-la,
ces planteurs de choux." And John Thresher, as spokesman for the rest:
"Master Harry, we beg to say, in my name, we can't masticate comfortably
while we've got a notion Mr. Frenchman he 's present here to play his
Frenchified tricks with our plain wholesome dishes. Our opinion is, he
don't know beef from hedgehog; and let him trim 'em, and egg 'em,' and
bread-crumb 'em, and pound the mess all his might, and then tak' and roll
'em into balls, we say we wun't, for we can't make English muscle out o'
that."--And Alphonse, quite indifferent to the vulgar: "He! mais pensez
donc au Papa, Monsieur Henri-Richie, sans doute il a une sante de fer:
mais encore faut-il lui menager le suc gastrique, pancreatique . . . ."'
'Ay, ay!' laughed my father; 'what sets you thinking of Alphonse?'
'I suppose because I shall have to be speaking French in an hour.'
'German, Richie, German.'
'But these Belgians speak French.'
'Such French as it is. You will, however, be engaged in a German
conversation first, I suspect.'
'Very well, I'll stumble on. I don't much like it.'
'In six hours from this second of time, Richie, boy, I undertake to
warrant you fonder of the German tongue than of any other spoken
I looked at him. He gave me a broad pleasant smile, without sign of a
jest lurking in one corner.
The scene attracted me. Laughing fishwife faces radiant with sea-bloom
in among the weedy pier-piles, and sombre blue-cheeked officers of the
douane, with their double row of buttons extending the breadth of their
shoulders. My father won Mr. Peterborough's approval by declaring cigars
which he might easily have passed.
'And now, sir,'--he used the commanding unction of a lady's doctor,--'you
to bed, and a short repose. We will, if it pleases you, breakfast at
eight. I have a surprise for Mr. Richie. We are about to beat the drum
in the market-place, and sing out for echoes.'
'Indeed, sir?' said the simple man.
'I promise you we shall not disturb you, Mr. Peterborough. You have
reached that middle age, have you not, when sleep is, so to put it, your
capital? And your activity is the interest you draw from it to live on.
You have three good hours. So, then, till we meet at the breakfast-
My father's first proceeding at the hotel was to examine the list of
visitors. He questioned one of the waiters aside, took information from
him, and seized my arm rather tremulously, saying,
'They are here. 'Tis as I expected. And she is taking the morning
breath of sea-air on the dunes. Come, Richie, come.'
'Who's the "she"?' I asked incuriously.
'Well, she is young, she is of high birth, she is charming. We have a
crowned head or two here. I observe in you, Richie, an extraordinary
deficiency of memory. She has had an illness; Neptune speed her
recovery! Now for a turn at our German. Die Strassen ruhen; die Stadt
schlaft; aber dort, siehst Du, dort liegt das blaue Meer, das nimmer-
schlafende! She is gazing on it, and breathing it, Richie. Ach! ihr
jauchzende Seejungfern. On my soul, I expect to see the very loveliest
of her sex!
You must not be dismayed at pale cheeks-blasse Wangen. Her illness has
been alarming. Why, this air is the top of life; it will, and it shall,
revive her. How will she address him?--"Freund," in my presence,
perchance: she has her invalid's privilege. "Theure Prinzessin" you
might venture on. No ice! Ay, there she is!'
Solitary, on the long level of the sand-bank, I perceived a group that
became discernible as three persons attached to an invalid's chair,
moving leisurely toward us. I was in the state of mind between
divination and doubt when the riddle is not impossible to read, would but
the heart cease its hurry an instant; a tumbled sky where the break is
coming. It came. The dear old days of my wanderings with Temple framed
her face. I knew her without need of pause or retrospect. The crocus
raising its cup pointed as when it pierced the earth, and the crocus
stretched out on earth, wounded by frost, is the same flower. The face
was the same, though the features were changed. Unaltered in expression,
but wan, and the kind blue eyes large upon lean brows, her aspect was
that of one who had been half caught away and still shook faintly in the
relaxing invisible grasp.
We stopped at a distance of half-a-dozen paces to allow her time for
recollection. She eyed us softly in a fixed manner, while the sea-wind
blew her thick redbrown hair to threads on her cheek. Colour on the fair
skin told us we were recognized.
'Princess Ottilia!' said my father.
'It is I, my friend,' she answered. 'And you?'
'With more health than I am in need of, dearest princess.'
'Harry Richmond! my son, now of age, commencing his tour; and he has not
forgotten the farewell bunch of violets.'
Her eyelids gently lifted, asking me.
'Nor the mount you did me the honour to give me on the little Hungarian,'
'How nice this sea-air is!' she spoke in English. 'England and sea go
together in my thoughts. And you are here! I have been down very low,
near the lowest. But your good old sea makes me breathe again. I want
to toss on it. Have you yet seen the Markgrafin?'
My father explained that we had just landed from the boat.
'Is our meeting, then, an accident?'
'Dear princess, I heard of your being out by the shore.'
'Ah! kind: and you walked to meet me? I love that as well, though I
love chance. And it is chance that brings you here! I looked out on the
boat from England while they were dressing me: I cannot have too much of
the morning, for then I have all to myself: sea and sky and I. The night
people are all asleep, and you come like an old Marchen.'
Her eyelids dropped without closing.
'Speak no more to her just at present,' said an English voice, Miss
Silbey's. Schwartz, the huge dragoon, whose big black horse hung near
him in my memory like a phantom, pulled the chair at a quiet pace, head
downward. A young girl clad in plain black walked beside Miss Sibley,
following the wheels.
'Danger is over,' Miss Sibley answered my gaze. 'She is convalescent.
You see how weak she is.'
I praised the lady for what I deemed her great merit in not having
quitted the service of the princess.
'Oh!' said she, 'my adieux to Sarkeld were uttered years ago. But when I
heard of her fall from the horse I went and nursed her. We were once in
dread of her leaving us. She sank as if she had taken some internal
injury. It may have been only the shock to her system and the cessation
of her accustomed exercise. She has a little over-studied.'
'The margravine is really very good and affectionate, and has won my
esteem. So you and your father are united at last? We have often talked
of you. Oh! that day up by the tower. But, do you know, the statue is
positively there now, and no one--no one who had the privilege of
beholding the first bronze Albrecht Wohlgemuth, Furst von Eppenwelzen-
Sarkeld, no one will admit that the second is half worthy of him. I can
feel to this day the leap of the heart in my mouth when the statue
dismounted. The prince sulked for a month: the margravine still longer
at your father's evasion. She could not make allowance for the impulsive
man: such a father; such a son!'
'Thank you, thank you most humbly,' said I, bowing to her shadow of a
The princess's hand appeared at a side of the chair. We hastened to her.
'Let me laugh, too,' she prayed.
Miss Sibley was about to reply, but stared, and delight sprang to her
lips in a quick cry.
'What medicine is this? Why, the light of morning has come to you, my
'I am better, dearest, better.'
'You sigh, my own.'
'No; I breathe lots, lots of salt air now, and lift like a boat. Ask
him--he had a little friend, much shorter than himself, who came the
whole way with him out of true friendship--ask him where is the friend?'
Miss Sibley turned her head to me.
'Temple,' said I; 'Temple is a midshipman; he is at sea.'
'That is something to think of,' the princess murmured, and dropped her
eyelids a moment. She resumed 'The Grand Seigneur was at Vienna last
year, and would not come to Sarkeld, though he knew I was ill.'
My father stooped low.
'The Grand Seigneur, your servant, dear princess, was an Ottoman Turk,
and his Grand Vizier advised him to send flowers in his place weekly.'
'I had them, and when we could get those flowers nowhere else,' she
replied. 'So it was you! So my friends have been about me.'
During the remainder of the walk I was on one side of the chair, and her
little maid on the other, while my father to rearward conversed with Miss
Sibley. The princess took a pleasure in telling me that this Aennchen of
hers knew me well, and had known me before ever her mistress had seen me.
Aennchen was the eldest of the two children Temple and I had eaten
breakfast with in the forester's hut. I felt myself as if in the forest
again, merely wondering at the growth of the trees, and the narrowness of
my vision in those days.
At parting, the princess said,
'Is my English improved? You smiled at it once. I will ask you when I
meet you next.'
'It is my question,' I whispered to my own ears.
She caught the words.
'Why do you say--" It is my question"?'
I was constrained to remind her of her old forms of English speech.
'You remember that? Adieu,' she said.
My father considerately left me to carry on my promenade alone. I
crossed the ground she had traversed, noting every feature surrounding
it, the curving wheel-track, the thin prickly sand-herbage, the wave-
mounds, the sparse wet shells and pebbles, the gleaming flatness of the
water, and the vast horizon-boundary of pale flat land level with shore,
looking like a dead sister of the sea. By a careful examination of my
watch and the sun's altitude, I was able to calculate what would, in all
likelihood, have been his height above yonder waves when her chair was
turned toward the city, at a point I reached in the track. But of the
matter then simultaneously occupying my mind, to recover which was the
second supreme task I proposed to myself-of what. I also was thinking
upon the stroke of five o'clock, I could recollect nothing. I could not
even recollect whether I happened to be looking on sun and waves when she
must have had them full and glorious in her face.
ON BOARD A YACHT
With the heartiest consent I could give, and a blank cheque, my father
returned to England to hire forthwith a commodious yacht, fitted and
manned. Before going he discoursed of prudence in our expenditure;
though not for the sake of the mere money in hand, which was a trifle,
barely more than the half of my future income; but that the squire,
should he by and by bethink him of inspecting our affairs, might perceive
we were not spendthrifts.
'I promised you a surprise, Richie,' said he, 'and you have had it;
whether at all equal to your expectations is for you to determine. I was
aware of the margravine's intention to bring the princess to these sea-
sands; they are famous on the Continent. It was bruited last Winter and
Spring that she would be here in the season for bathing; so I held it
likely we should meet. We have, you behold. In point of fact, we owe
the good margravine some show of hospitality. The princess has a passion
for tossing on the sea. To her a yacht is a thing dropped from the moon.
His Highness the prince her father could as soon present her with one as
with the moon itself. The illustrious Serenity's revenue is absorbed, my
boy, in the state he has to support. As for his daughter's dowry, the
young gentleman who anticipates getting one with her, I commend to the
practise of his whistling. It will be among the sums you may count, if
you are a moderate arithmetician, in groschen. The margravine's income I
should reckon to approach twenty thousand per annum, and she proves her
honourable sense that she holds it in trust for others by dispersing it
rapidly. I fear she loves cards. So, then, I shall go and hire the
yacht through Dettermain and Newson, furnish it with piano and swing-cot,
etc.; and if the ladies shrink from a cruise they can have an occasional
sail. Here are we at their service. I shall be seriously baffled by
fortune if I am not back to you at the end of a week. You will take your
early morning walk, I presume. On Sunday see that our chaplain, the
excellent Mr. Peterborough, officiates for the assembled Protestants of
all nations. It excites our English enthusiasm. In addition, son
Richie, it is peculiarly our duty. I, at least, hold the view that it is
a family duty. Think it over, Richie boy. Providence, you see, has sent
us the man. As for me, I feel as if I were in the dawn of one life with
all the mature experience of another. I am calm, I am perfectly
unexcited, and I tell you, old son, I believe--pick among the highest--
our destinies are about the most brilliant of any couple in Great
His absence relieved me in spite of my renewed pleasure in his talk; I
may call it a thirsty craving to have him inflating me, puffing the deep
unillumined treasure-pits of my nature with laborious hints, as mines are
filled with air to keep the miners going. While he talked he made these
inmost recesses habitable. But the pain lay in my having now and then to
utter replies. The task of speaking was hateful. I found a sweetness in
brooding unrealizingly over hopes and dreams and possibilities, and I let
him go gladly that I might enjoy a week of silence, just taking
impressions as they came, like the sands in the ebb-tide. The impression
of the morning was always enough for a day's meditation. The green
colour and the crimson athwart it, and higher up the pinky lights,
flamingo feathers, on a warm half-circle of heaven, in hue between
amethyst and milky opal; then the rim of the sun's disc not yet severe;
and then the monstrous shadow of tall Schwartz darting at me along the
sand, then the princess. This picture, seen at sunrise, lasted till I
slept. It stirred no thoughts, conjured no images, it possessed me. In
the afternoon the margravine accompanied the princess to a point facing
seaward, within hearing of the military band. She did me the favour to
tell me that she tolerated me until I should become efficient in German
to amuse her, but the dulness of the Belgian city compared with her
lively German watering-places compelled her to try my powers of fun in
French, and in French I had to do duty, and failed in my office.
'Do you know,' said she, 'that your honourable papa is one in a million?
He has the life of a regiment in his ten fingers. What astonishes me is
that he does not make fury in that England of yours--that Lapland! Je ne
puffs me passer de cet homme! He offends me, he trifles, he outrages, he
dares permit himself to be indignant. Bon! we part, and absence pleads
for him with the eloquence of Satan. I am his victim. Does he, then,
produce no stir whatever in your England? But what a people! But yes,
you resemble us, as bottles--bottles; seulement, you are emptied of your
wine. Ce Monsieur Peterbooroo'! Il m'agace les nerfs. It cannot be
blood in his veins. One longs to see him cuffed, to see if he has the
English lion in him, one knows not where. But you are so, you English,
when not intoxicated. And so censorious! You win your battles, they
say, upon beer and cordials: it is why you never can follow up a success.
Je tiens cela du Marechal Prince B-----. Let that pass. One groans at
your intolerable tristesse. La vie en Angleterre est comme un marais.
It is a scandal to human nature. It blows fogs, foul vapours, joint-
stiffnesses, agues, pestilences, over us here,--yes, here! That is your
best side: but your worst is too atrocious! Mon Dieu! Your men-rascals!
'Good soul!' the princess arrested her, 'I beg that you will not abuse
'Have I abused England?' exclaimed the margravine. 'Nay, then, it was
because England is shockingly unjust to the most amusing, the most
reviving, charming of men. There is he fresh as a green bubbling well,
and those English decline to do honour to his source. Now tell me, you!'
She addressed me imperiously. 'Are you prosecuting his claims? Are you
besieging your Government? What! you are in the season of generosity,
an affectionate son, wealthy as a Magyar prince of flocks, herds, mines,
and men, and you let him stand in the shade deprived of his birthright?
Are you a purse-proud commoner or an imbecile?'
'My whimsy aunt!' the princess interposed again, 'now you have taken to
abusing a defenceless Englishman.'
'Nothing of the sort, child. I compliment him on his looks and manners;
he is the only one of his race who does not appear to have marched out of
a sentinel's box with a pocket-mirror in his hand. I thank him from my
soul for not cultivating the national cat's whisker. None can imagine
what I suffer from the oppressive sight of his Monsieur Peterbooroo'!
And they are of one pattern--the entire nation! He! no, he has the step
of a trained blood-horse. Only, as Kaunitz, or somebody, said of Joseph
II., or somebody, he thinks or he chews. Englishmen's mouths were
clearly not made for more purposes than one. In truth, I am so utterly
wearied, I could pray for the diversion of a descent of rain. The life
here is as bad as in Rippau. I might just as well be in Rippau doing
duty: the silly people complain, I hear. I am gathering dust. These,
my dear, these are the experiences which age women at a prodigious rate.
I feel chains on my limbs here.'
'Madame, I would,' said I, 'that I were the Perseus to relieve you of
your monster Ennui, but he is coming quickly.'
'You see he has his pretty phrases!' cried the margravine; adding
encouragingly, 'S'il nest pas tant sort peu impertinent?'
The advance of some German or Russian nobleman spared me further efforts.
We were on shore, listening to the band in the afternoon, when a sail
like a spark of pure white stood on the purple black edge of a storm-
cloud. It was the yacht. By sunset it was moored off shore, and at
night hung with variegated lamps. Early next morning we went on board.
The ladies were astonished at the extent of the vessel, and its luxurious
fittings and cunning arrangements. My father, in fact, had negotiated
for the hire of the yacht some weeks previously, with his accustomed
'House and town and fortress provisioned, and moveable at will!' the
margravine interjected repeatedly.
The princess was laid on raised pillows in her swingcot under an awning
aft, and watched the sailors, the splendid offspring of old sea-fights,
as I could observe her spirited fancy conceiving them. They were a set
of men to point to for an answer to the margravine's strictures on things
'Then, are you the captain, my good Herr Heilbrunn?' the margravine asked
He was dressed in cheerful blue, wearing his cheerfullest air, and seemed
strongly inclined for the part of captain, but presented the actual
commander of the schooner-yacht, and helped him through the margravine's
'All is excellent,--excellent for a day's sail,' she said. 'I have no
doubt you could nourish my system for a month, but to deal frankly with
you--prepared meats and cold pies!--to face them once is as much as I am
'Dear Lady Field-Marshal,' returned my father, 'the sons of Neptune would
be of poor account, if they could not furnish you cookery at sea.'
They did, for Alphonse was on board. He and my father had a hot
discussion about the margravine's dishes, Alphonse declaring that it was
against his conscience to season them pungently, and my father preaching
expediency. Alphonse spoke of the artist and his duty to his art, my
father of the wise diplomatist who manipulated individuals without any
sacrifice of principle. They were partly at play, of course, both having
It ended in the margravine's being enraptured. The delicacy of the
invalid's dishes, was beyond praise. 'So, then, we are absolutely better
housed and accommodated than on shore!' the margravine made her wonder
heard, and from that fell to enthusiasm for the vessel. After a couple
of pleasant smooth-sailing days, she consented to cruise off the coasts
of France and England. Adieu to the sands. Throughout the cruise she
was placable, satisfied with earth and sea, and constantly eulogizing
herself for this novel state of serenity. Cards, and a collection of
tripping French books bound in yellow, danced the gavotte with time,
which made the flying minutes endurable to her: and for relaxation there
was here the view of a shining town dropped between green hills to dip in
sea-water, yonder a ship of merchandise or war to speculate upon,
trawlers, collier-brigs, sea-birds, wave over wave. No cloud on sun and
moon. We had gold and silver in our track, like the believable children
The princess, lying in her hammock-cot on deck, both day and night, or
for the greater part of the night, let her eyes feast incessantly on a
laughing sea: when she turned them to any of us, pure pleasure sparkled
in them. The breezy salt hours were visible ecstasy to her blood. If
she spoke it was but to utter a few hurried, happy words, and shrink as
you see the lightning behind a cloud-rack, suggestive of fiery swift
emotion within, and she gazed away overjoyed at the swoop and plunge of
the gannet, the sunny spray, the waves curling crested or down-like. At
night a couple of sailors, tender as women, moved her in the cot to her
cabin. We heard her voice in the dark of the morning, and her little
maid Aennchen came out and was met by me; and I at that hour had the
privilege to help move her back to her favourite place, and strap the
iron-stand fast, giving the warm-hooded cot room to swing. The keen
sensations of a return to health amid unwonted scenes made things magical
to her. When she beheld our low green Devon hills she signalled for help
to rise, and 'That is England!' she said, summoning to her beautiful
clear eyeballs the recollection of her first desire to see my country.
Her petition was that the yacht should go in nearer and nearer to the
land till she could discern men, women, and children, and their
occupations. A fisherman and his wife sat in the porch above their
hanging garden, the woman knitting, the man mending his nets, barefooted
boys and girls astride the keel of a boat below them. The princess eyed
them and wept. 'They give me happiness; I can give them nothing,' she
The margravine groaned impatiently at talk of such a dieaway sort.
My father sent a couple of men on shore with a gift of money to their
family in the name of the Princess Ottilia. How she thanked him for his
prompt ideas! 'It is because you are generous you read one well.'
She had never thanked me. I craved for that vibrating music as of her
deep heart penetrated and thrilling, but shrank from grateful words which
would have sounded payment. Running before the wind swiftly on a night
of phosphorescent sea, when the waves opened to white hollows with frayed
white ridges, wreaths of hissing silver, her eyelids closed, and her hand
wandered over the silken coverlet to the hammock cloth, and up, in a
blind effort to touch. Mine joined to it. Little Aennchen was witness.
Ottilia held me softly till her slumber was deep.
IN VIEW OF THE HOHENZOLLERN'S BIRTHPLACE
Our cruise came to an end in time to save the margravine from yawning.
The last day of it was windless, and we hung in sight of the colourless
low Flemish coast for hours, my father tasking his ingenuity to amuse
her. He sang with Miss Sibley, rallied Mr. Peterborough, played picquet
to lose, threw over the lead line to count the fathoms, and whistling for
the breeze, said to me, 'We shall decidedly have to offer her an
exhibition of tipsy British seamen as a final resource. The case is
grave either way; but we cannot allow the concluding impression to be a
It struck me with astonishment to see the vigilant watch she kept over
the princess this day, after having left her almost uninterruptedly to my
'You are better?' She addressed Ottilia. 'You can sit up? You think you
can walk? Then I have acted rightly, nay, judiciously,--I have not made
a sacrifice for nothing. I took the cruise, mind you, on your account.
You would study yourself to the bone, till you looked like a canary's
quill, with that Herr Professor of yours. Now I 've given you a dose of
life. Yes, you begin to look like human flesh. Something has done you
The princess flushing scarlet, the margravine cried,
'There's no occasion for you to have the whole British army in your
cheeks. Goodness me! what's the meaning of it? Why, you answer me like
flags, banners, uhlans' pennons, fullfrocked cardinals !'
My father stepped in.
'Ah, yes,' said the margravine. 'But you little know, my good Roy, the
burden of an unmarried princess; and heartily glad shall I be to hand her
over to Baroness Turckems. That's her instituted governess, duenna,
dragon, what you will. She was born for responsibility, I was not; it
makes me miserable. I have had no holiday. True, while she was like one
of their wax virgins I had a respite. Fortunately, I hear of you
English, that when you fall to sighing, you suck your thumbs and are
My father bowed her, and smiled her, and whirled her away from the
subject. I heard him say, under his breath, that he had half a mind to
issue orders for an allowance of grog to be served out to the sailors on
the spot. I suggested, as I conceived in a similar spirit the forcible
ducking of Mr. Peterborough. He appeared to entertain and relish the
notion in earnest.
'It might do. It would gratify her enormously,' he said, and eyed the
complacent clerical gentleman with transparent jealousy of his claims to
decent treatment. 'Otherwise, I must confess,' he added, 'I am at a
loss. My wits are in the doldrums.'
He went up to Mr. Peterborough, and, with an air of great sincerity and
courtesy, requested him in French to create a diversion for her Highness
the Margravine of Rippau during the extreme heat of the afternoon by
precipitating himself headlong into forty fathoms, either attached or
unattached. His art in baffling Mr. Peterborough's attempts to treat the
unheard-of request as a jest was extraordinary. The ingenuity of his
successive pleas for pressing such a request pertinaciously upon Mr.
Peterborough in particular, his fixed eye, yet cordial deferential
manner, and the stretch of his forefinger, and argumentative turn of the
head--indicative of an armed disputant fully on the alert, and as if it
were of profound and momentous importance that he should thoroughly
defeat and convince his man--overwhelmed us. Mr. Peterborough, not being
supple in French, fell back upon his English with a flickering smile of
protestation; but even in his native tongue he could make no head against
the tremendous volubility and brief eager pauses besetting him.
The farce was too evanescent for me to reproduce it.
Peterborough turned and fled to his cabin. Half the crew were on the
broad grin. The margravine sprang to my father's arm, and entreated him
to be her guest in her Austrian mountain summer-seat. Ottilia was now
her darling and her comfort. Whether we English youth sucked our thumbs,
or sighed furiously, she had evidently ceased to care. Mr. Peterborough
assured me at night that he had still a difficulty in persuading himself
of my father's absolute sanity, so urgent was the fire of his eye in
seconding his preposterous proposal; and, as my father invariably treated
with the utmost reserve a farce played out, they never arrived at an
understanding about it, beyond a sententious agreement once, in the
extreme heat of an Austrian highland valley, that the option of taking a
header into sea-water would there be divine.
Our yacht winged her way home. Prince Ernest of Eppenwelzen-Sarkeld,
accompanied by Baroness Turckems, and Prince Otto, his nephew, son of the
Prince of Eisenberg, a captain of Austrian lancers, joined the margravine
in Wurtemberg, and we felt immediately that domestic affairs were under a
different management. Baroness Turckems relieved the margravine of her
guard. She took the princess into custody. Prince Ernest greeted us
with some affability; but it was communicated to my father that he
expected an apology before he could allow himself to be as absolutely
unclouded toward us as the blaze of his titles. My father declined to
submit; so the prince inquired of us what our destination was. Down the
Danube to the Black Sea and Asia Minor, Greece, Egypt, the Nile, the
Desert, India, possibly, and the Himalayas, my father said. The prince
bowed. The highest personages, if they cannot travel, are conscious of a
sort of airy majesty pertaining to one who can command so wide and far a
flight. We were supplicated by the margravine to appease her brother's
pride with half a word. My father was firm. The margravine reached her
two hands to him. He kissed over them each in turn. They interchanged
smart semi-flattering or cutting sentences.
'Good!' she concluded; 'now I sulk you for five years.'
'You would decapitate me, madam, and weep over my astonished head, would
'Upon my honour, I would,' she shook herself to reply.
He smiled rather sadly.
'No pathos!' she implored him.
'Not while I live, madam,' said he.
At this her countenance underwent a tremour.
'And when that ends . . . friend! well, I shall have had my last
laugh in the world.'
Both seemed affected. My father murmured some soothing word.
'Then you do mean to stay with me?' the margravine caught him up.
'Not in livery, your Highness.'
'To the deuce with you!' would be a fair translation of the exalted
lady's reply. She railed at his insufferable pride.
'And you were wrong, wrong,' she pursued. 'You offended the prince
mightily: you travestied his most noble ancestor--'
'In your service, may it please you.'
'You offended, offended him, I say, and you haven't the courage to make
reparation. And when I tell you the prince is manageable as your ship,
if you will only take and handle the rudder. Do you perceive?'
She turned to me.
'Hither, Mr. Harry; come, persuade him. Why, you do not desire to leave
me, do you?'
Much the reverse. But I had to congratulate myself subsequently on
having been moderate in the expression of my wishes; for, as my father
explained to me, with sufficient lucidity to enlighten my dulness, the
margravine was tempting him grossly. She saw more than I did of his
plans. She could actually affect to wink at them that she might gain her
point, and have her amusement, and live for the hour, treacherously
beguiling a hoodwinked pair to suppose her partially blind or wholly
complaisant. My father knew her and fenced her.
'Had I yielded,' he said, when my heart was low after the parting,
'I should have shown her my hand. I do not choose to manage the prince
that the margravine may manage me. I pose my pride--immolate my son to
it, Richie? I hope not. No. At Vienna we shall receive an invitation
to Sarkeld for the winter, if we hear nothing of entreaties to turn aside
to Ischl at Munich. She is sure to entreat me to accompany her on her
annual visit to her territory of Rippau, which she detests; and, indeed,
there is not a vine in the length and breadth of it. She thought herself
broad awake, and I have dosed her with an opiate.'
He squeezed my fingers tenderly. I was in want both of consolation and
very delicate handling when we drove out of the little Wurtemberg town:
I had not taken any farewell from Ottilia. Baroness Turckems was already
exercising her functions of dragon. With the terrible forbidding word
'Repose' she had wafted the princess to her chamber in the evening, and
folded her inextricably round and round in the morning. The margravine
huffed, the prince icy, Ottilia invisible, I found myself shooting down
from the heights of a dream among shattered fragments of my cloud-palace
before I well knew that I had left off treading common earth. All my
selfish nature cried out to accuse Ottilia. We drove along a dusty
country road that lay like a glaring shaft of the desert between
vineyards and hills.
'There,' said my father, waving his hand where the hills on our left fell
to a distance and threw up a lofty head and neck cut with one white line,
'your Hohenzollerns shot up there. Their castle looks like a tight
military stock. Upon my word, their native mountain has the air of a
drum major. Mr. Peterborough, have you a mind to climb it? We are at
'Thank you, thank you, sir,' said the Rev. Ambrose, gazing
enthusiastically, but daunted by the heat: 'if it is your wish?'
'We have none that is not yours, Mr. Peterborough. You love ruins, and
we are adrift just now. I presume we can drive to the foot of the
ascent. I should wish my son perhaps to see the source of great houses.'
Here it was that my arm was touched by old Schwartz. He saluted stiffly,
and leaning from the saddle on the trot of his horse at an even pace with
our postillion, stretched out a bouquet of roses. I seized it
palpitating, smelt the roses, and wondered. May a man write of his
foolishness?--tears rushed to my eyes. Schwartz was far behind us when
my father caught sight of the magical flowers.
'Come!' said he, glowing, 'we will toast the Hohenstaufens and the
Hohenzollerns to-night, Richie.'
Later, when I was revelling in fancies sweeter than the perfume of the
roses, he pressed their stems reflectively, unbound them, and disclosed a
slip of crested paper. On it was written:
'Violets are over.'
Plain words; but a princess had written them, and never did so golden a
halo enclose any piece of human handiwork.
THE TIME OF ROSES
I sat and thrilled from head to foot with a deeper emotion than joy. Not
I, but a detached self allied to the careering universe and having life
'Violets are over.'
The first strenuous effort of my mind was to grasp the meaning, subtle as
odour, in these words. Innumerable meanings wreathed away unattainable
to thought. The finer senses could just perceive them ere they vanished.
Then as I grew material, two camps were pitched and two armies prepared
to fight to establish one distinct meaning. 'Violets are over, so I send
you roses'; she writes you simple fact. Nay, 'Our time of violets is
over, now for us the roses'; she gives you heavenly symbolism.
'From violets to roses, so run the seasons.'
Or is it,
'From violets to roses, thus far have we two travelled?'
But would she merely say, 'I have not this kind of flower, and I send you
True, but would she dare to say, 'The violets no longer express my heart;
take the roses?'
'Maidenly, and a Princess, yet sweet and grateful, she gives you the
gracefullest good speed.
'Noble above all human distinctions, she binds you to herself, if you
The two armies came into collision, the luck of the day going to the one
I sided with.
But it was curiously observable that the opposing force recovered energy
from defeat, while mine languished in victory. I headed them
alternately, and--it invariably happened so.
'She cannot mean so much as this.'
'She must mean more than that.'
Thus the Absolute and the Symbolical factions struggled on. A princess
drew them as the moon the tides.
By degrees they subsided and united, each reserving its view; a point at
which I imagined myself to have regained my proper humility. 'The
princess has sent you these flowers out of her homely friendliness; not
seeing you to speak her farewell, she, for the very reason that she can
do it innocent of any meaning whatsoever, bids you be sure you carry her
esteem with you. Is the sun of blue heavens guilty of the shadow it
casts? Clear your mind. She means nothing. Warmth and beauty come from
her, and are on you for the moment. But full surely she is a thing to be
won: she is human: did not her hand like a gentle snake seek yours, and
detain it, and bear it away into the heart of her sleep?--Be moderate.
Let not a thought or a dream spring from her condescension, lest you do
outrage to her noble simplicity. Look on that high Hohenzollern hill-
top: she also is of the line of those who help to found illustrious
Houses: what are you?'
I turned to my father and stared him in the face. What was he? Were we
not losing precious time in not prosecuting his suit? I put this
question to him, believing that it would sound as too remote from my
thoughts to betray them. He glanced at the roses, and answered gladly,
'Yes!--no, no! we must have our holiday. Mr. Peterborough is for
exploring a battle-field in the neighbourhood of Munich. He shall.
I wish him to see the Salzkammergut, and have a taste of German Court-
life. Allow me to be captain, Richie, will you? I will show you how
battles are gained and mountains are scaled. That young Prince Otto of