Part 8 out of 12
He groaned going up the steps of his hotel, faced me once or twice, and
almost gained my sympathy by observing, 'When we're boys, the old ones
worry us; when we're old ones, the boys begin to tug!' He rarely spoke
so humanely,--rarely, at least, to me.
For a wonder, he let the matter drop: possibly because he found me
temperate. I tried the system on him with good effect during our stay in
London; that is, I took upon myself to be always cool, always courteous,
deliberate in my replies, and not uncordial, though I was for
representing the reserved young man. I obtained some praise for my style
and bearing among his acquaintances. To one lady passing an encomium on
me, he said, 'Oh, some foreign princess has been training him,' which
seemed to me of good augury.
My friends Temple and Heriot were among the Riversley guests at
Christmas. We rode over to John Thresher's, of whom we heard that the
pretty Mabel Sweetwinter had disappeared, and understood that suspicion
had fallen upon one of us gentlemen. Bob, her brother, had gone the way
of the bravest English fellows of his class-to America. We called on the
miller, a soured old man. Bob's evasion affected him more than Mabel's,
Martha Thresher said, in derision of our sex. I was pained to hear from
her that Bob supposed me the misleader of his sister; and that he had, as
she believed, left England, to avoid the misery of ever meeting me again,
because he liked me so much. She had been seen walking down the lanes
with some one resembling me in figure. Heriot took the miller's view,
counting the loss of one stout young Englishman to his country of far
greater importance than the escapades of dozens of girls, for which
simple creatures he had no compassion: he held the expression of it a
sham. He had grown coxcombical. Without talking of his conquests, he
talked largely of the ladies who were possibly in the situation of
victims to his grace of person, though he did not do so with any unctuous
boasting. On the contrary, there was a rather taking undertone of regret
that his enfeebled over-fat country would give her military son no
worthier occupation. He laughed at the mention of Julia Bulsted's name.
'She proves, Richie, marriage is the best of all receipts for women, just
as it's the worst for men. Poor Billy Bulsted, for instance, a first-
rate seaman, and his heart's only half in his profession since he and
Julia swore their oath; and no wonder,--he made something his own that
won't go under lock and key. No military or naval man ought ever to
'Stop,' said Temple, 'is the poor old country------ How about continuing
the race of heroes?'
Heriot commended him to rectories, vicarages, and curates' lodgings for
breeding grounds, and coming round to Julia related one of the racy
dialogues of her married life. 'The saltwater widow's delicious. Billy
rushes home from his ship in a hurry. What's this Greg writes me?--That
he 's got a friend of his to drink with him, d' ye mean, William?--
A friend of yours, ma'am.--And will you say a friend of mine is not a
friend of yours, William?--Julia, you're driving me mad!--And is that far
from crazy, where you said I drove you at first sight of me, William?
Back to his ship goes Billy with a song of love and constancy.'
I said nothing of my chagrin at the behaviour of the pair who had
furnished my first idea of the romantic beauty of love.
'Why does she talk twice as Irish as she used to, Heriot?'
'Just to coax the world to let her be as nonsensical as she likes. She's
awfully dull; she has only her nonsense to amuse her. I repeat: soldiers
and sailors oughtn't to marry. I'm her best friend. I am, on my honour:
for I 'm going to make Billy give up the service, since he can't give her
up. There she is!' he cried out, and waved his hat to a lady on
horseback some way down the slope of a road leading to the view of our
'There's the only girl living fit to marry a man and swear she 'll stick
to him through life and death.'
He started at a gallop. Temple would have gone too at any possible
speed, for he knew as well as I did that Janet was the girl alone capable
of winning a respectful word from Heriot; but I detained him to talk of
Ottilia and my dismal prospect of persuading the squire to consent to my
proposal for her, and to dower her in a manner worthy a princess. He
doled out his yes and no to me vacantly. Janet and Heriot came at a
walking pace to meet us, he questioning her, she replying, but a little
differently from her usual habit of turning her full face to the speaker.
He was evidently startled, and, to judge from his posture, repeated his
question, as one would say, 'You did this?' She nodded, and then uttered
some rapid words, glanced at him, laughed shyly, and sank her features
into repose as we drew near. She had a deep blush on her face. I
thought it might be, that Janet and her loud champion had come to
particular terms, a supposition that touched me with regrets for Temple's
sake. But Heriot was not looking pleased. It happened that whatever
Janet uttered struck a chord of opposition in me. She liked the Winter
and the Winter sunsets, had hopes of a frost for skating, liked our
climate, thought our way of keeping Christmas venerable, rejoiced in
dispensing the squire's bounties--called them bounties, joined Heriot
in abusing foreign countries to the exaltation of her own: all this with
'Well, Harry, I'm sorry you don't think as we do. And we do, don't we?'
she addressed him.
'I reserve a point,' he said, and not playfully.
She appeared distressed, and courted a change of expression in his
features, and I have to confess that never having seen her gaze upon
any one save myself in that fashion, which was with her very winning,
especially where some of her contralto tones of remonstrance or entreaty
aided it, I felt as a man does at a neighbour's shadow cast over his
rights of property.
Heriot dropped to the rear: I was glad to leave her with Temple, and glad
to see them canter ahead together on the sand of tie heaths.
'She has done it,' Heriot burst out abruptly. 'She has done it!' he said
again. 'Upon my soul, I never wished in my life before that I was a
marrying man: I might have a chance of ending worth something. She has
won the squire round with a thundering fib, and you're to have the German
if you can get her. Don't be in a hurry. The squire 'll speak to you
to-night: but think over it. Will you? Think what a girl this is. I
believe on my honour no man ever had such an offer of a true woman.
Come, don't think it's Heriot speaking--I've always liked her, of course.
But I have always respected her, and that's not of course. Depend upon
it, a woman who can be a friend of men is the right sort of woman to make
a match with. Do you suppose she couldn't have a dozen fellows round her
at the lift of her finger? the pick of the land! I'd trust her with an
army. I tell you, Janet Ilchester 's the only girl alive who'll double
the man she marries. I don't know another who wouldn't make the name of
wife laugh the poor devil out of house and company. She's firm as a
rock; and sweet as a flower on it! Will that touch you? Bah! Richie,
let's talk like men. I feel for her because she's fond of you, and I
know what it is when a girl like that sets her heart on a fellow.
There,' he concluded, 'I 'd ask you to go down on your knees and pray
before you decide against her!'
Heriot succeeded in raising a certain dull indistinct image in my mind of
a well-meaning girl, to whom I was bound to feel thankful, and felt so.
I thanked Heriot, too, for his friendly intentions. He had never seen
the Princess Ottilia. And at night I thanked my grandfather. He bore
himself, on the whole, like the good and kindly old gentleman Janet loved
to consider him. He would not stand in my light, he said, recurring to
that sheet-anchor of a tolerant sentence whenever his forehead began to
gather clouds. He regretted that Janet was no better than her sex in her
preference for rakes, and wished me to the deuce for bringing Heriot into
the house, and not knowing when I was lucky. 'German grandchildren, eh!'
he muttered. No Beltham had ever married a foreigner. What was the time
fixed between us for the marriage? He wanted to see his line safe before
he died. 'How do I know this foreign woman'll bear?' he asked, expecting
an answer. His hand was on the back of a chair, grasping and rocking it;
his eyes bent stormily on the carpet; they were set blinking rapidly
after a glance at me. Altogether his self-command was creditable to
Janet met me next day, saying with some insolence (so it struck me from
her liveliness): 'Well, it's all right, Harry? Now you'll be happy, I
hope. I did not shine in my reply. Her amiable part appeared to be to
let me see how brilliant and gracious the commonplace could be made to
look. She kept Heriot at the Grange, against the squire's remonstrance
and her mother's. 'It 's to keep him out of harm's way: the women he
knows are not of the best kind for him,' she said, with astounding
fatuity. He submitted, and seemed to like it. She must be teaching
Temple to skate figures in the frost, with a great display of good-
humoured patience, and her voice at musical pitches. But her principal
affectation was to talk on matters of business with Mr. Burgin and Mr.
Trewint, the squire's lawyer and bailiff, on mines and interest, on money
and economical questions; not shrinking from politics either, until the
squire cries out to the males assisting in the performance, 'Gad, she 's
a head as good as our half-dozen put together,' and they servilely joined
their fragmentary capitals in agreement. She went so far as to retain
Peterborough to teach her Latin. He was idling in the expectation of a
living in the squire's gift.
The annoyance for me was that I could not detach myself from a
contemplation of these various scenes, by reverting to my life in
Germany. The preposterous closing of my interview with Ottilia blocked
the way, and I was unable to write to her--unable to address her even in
imagination, without pangs of shame at the review of the petty conspiracy
I had sanctioned to entrap her to plight her hand to me, and without
perpetually multiplying excuses for my conduct. So to escape them I was
reduced to study Janet, forming one of her satellites. She could say to
me impudently, with all the air of a friendly comrade, 'Had your letter
from Germany yet, Harry?' She flew--she was always on the chase. I saw
her permit Heriot to kiss her hand, and then the squire appeared, and
Heriot and she burst into laughter, and the squire, with a puzzled face,
would have the game explained to him, but understood not a bit of it,
only growled at me; upon which Janet became serious and chid him. I was
told by my aunt Dorothy to admire this behaviour of hers. One day she
certainly did me a service: a paragraph in one of the newspapers spoke of
my father, not flatteringly: 'Richmond is in the field again,' it
commenced. The squire was waiting for her to hand the paper to him.
None of us could comprehend why she played him off and denied him his
right to the first perusal of the news; she was voluble, almost witty,
full of sprightly Roxalana petulance.
'This paper,' she said, 'deserves to be burnt,' and she was allowed to
burn it--money article, mining column as well--on the pretext of an
infamous anti-Tory leader, of which she herself composed the first
sentence to shock the squire completely. I had sight of that paper some
time afterwards. Richmond was in the field again, it stated, with mock
flourishes. But that was not the worst. My grandfather's name was down
there, and mine, and Princess Ottilia's. My father's connection with the
court of Eppenwelzen-Sarkeld was alluded to as the latest, and next to
his winning the heiress of Riversley, the most successful of his
ventures, inasmuch as his son, if rumour was to be trusted, had obtained
the promise of the hand of the princess. The paragraph was an excerpt
from a gossiping weekly journal, perhaps less malevolent than I thought
it. There was some fun to be got out of a man who, the journal in
question was informed, had joined the arms of England and a petty German
principality stamped on his plate and furniture.
My gratitude to Janet was fervent enough when I saw what she had saved me
from. I pressed her hand and held it. I talked stupidly, but I made my
cruel position intelligible to her, and she had the delicacy, on this
occasion, to keep her sentiments regarding my father unuttered. We sat
hardly less than an hour side by side--I know not how long hand in hand.
The end was an extraordinary trembling in the limb abandoned to me. It
seized her frame. I would have detained her, but it was plain she
suffered both in her heart and her pride. Her voice was under fair
command-more than mine was. She counselled me to go to London, at once.
'I would be off to London if I were you, Harry,'--for the purpose of
checking my father's extravagances,--would have been the further wording,
which she spared me; and I thanked her, wishing, at the same time,
that she would get the habit of using choicer phrases whenever there
might, by chance, be a stress of emotion between us. Her trembling,
and her 'I'd be off,' came into unpleasant collision in the recollection.
I acknowledge to myself that she was a true and hearty friend. She
listened with interest to my discourse on the necessity of my being in
Parliament before I could venture to propose formally for the hand of the
princess, and undertook to bear the burden of all consequent negotiations
with my grandfather. If she would but have allowed me to speak of
Temple, instead of saying, 'Don't, Harry, I like him so much!' at the
very mention of his name, I should have sincerely felt my indebtedness to
her, and some admiration of her fine spirit and figure besides. I could
not even agree with my aunt Dorothy that Janet was handsome. When I had
to grant her a pardon I appreciated her better.
MY BANKERS' BOOK
The squire again did honour to Janet's eulogy and good management of him.
'And where,' said she, 'would you find a Radical to behave so generously,
Harry, when it touches him so?'
He accorded me his permission to select my side in politics, merely
insisting that I was never to change it, and this he requested me to
swear to, for (he called the ghost of old Sewis to witness) he abhorred a
'If you're to be a Whig, or a sneaking half-and-half, I can't help you
much,' he remarked. 'I can pop a young Tory in for my borough, maybe;
but I can't insult a number of independent Englishmen by asking them to
vote for the opposite crew; that's reasonable, eh? And I can't promise
you plumpers for the county neither. You can date your Address from
Riversley. You'll have your house in town. Tell me this princess of
yours is ready with her hand, and,' he threw in roughly, 'is a
respectable young woman, I'll commence building. You'll have a house fit
for a prince in town and country, both.'
Temple had produced an effect on him by informing him that 'this princess
of mine' was entitled to be considered a fit and proper person, in rank
and blood, for an alliance with the proudest royal Houses of Europe, and
my grandfather was not quite destitute of consolation in the prospect I
presented to him. He was a curious study to me, of the Tory mind, in its
attachment to solidity, fixity, certainty, its unmatched generosity
within a limit, its devotion to the family, and its family eye for the
country. An immediate introduction to Ottilia would have won him to
enjoy the idea of his grandson's marriage; but not having seen her, he
could not realize her dignity, nor even the womanliness of a 'foreign
'Thank God for one thing,' he said: 'we shan't have that fellow
bothering--shan't have the other half of your family messing the
business. You'll have to account for him to your wife as you best can.
I 've nothing to do with him, mind that. He came to my house, stole my
daughter, crazed her wits, dragged us all . . .'
The excuse to turn away from the hearing of abuse of my father was too
good to be neglected, though it was horribly humiliating that I should
have to take advantage of it--vexatious that I should seem chargeable
with tacit lying in allowing the squire to suppose the man he hated to be
a stranger to the princess. Not feeling sure whether it might be common
prudence to delude him even passively, I thought of asking Janet for her
opinion, but refrained. A stout deceiver has his merits, but a feeble
hypocrite applying to friends to fortify him in his shifts and
tergiversations must provoke contempt. I desired that Janet might
continue to think well of me. I was beginning to drop in my own esteem,
which was the mirror of my conception of Ottilia's view of her lover.
Now, had I consulted Janet, I believe the course of my history would have
been different, for she would not then, I may imagine, have been guilty
of her fatal slip of the tongue that threw us into heavy seas when we
thought ourselves floating on canal waters. A canal barge (an image to
me of the most perfect attainable peace), suddenly, on its passage
through our long fir-woods, with their scented reeds and flowing rushes,
wild balsam and silky cotton-grass beds, sluiced out to sea and storm,
would be somewhat in my likeness soon after a single luckless observation
had passed at our Riversley breakfast-table one Sunday morning.
My aunt Dorothy and Mr. Peterborough were conversing upon the varieties
of Christian sects, and particularly such as approached nearest to
Anglicanism, together with the strange, saddening fact that the Christian
religion appeared to be more divided than, Peterborough regretted to say,
the forms of idolatry established by the Buddha, Mahomet, and other
impostors. He claimed the audacious merit for us, that we did not
discard the reason of man we admitted man's finite reason to our school
of faith, and it was found refractory. Hence our many divisions.
'The Roman Catholics admit reason?' said Janet, who had too strong a turn
for showing her keenness in little encounters with Peterborough.
'No,' said he; 'the Protestants.' And, anxious to elude her, he pressed
on to enchain my aunt Dorothy's attention. Janet plagued him meanwhile;
and I helped her. We ran him and his schoolboy, the finite refractory,
up and down, until Peterborough was glad to abandon him, and Janet said,
'Did you preach to the Germans much?' He had officiated in Prince
Ernest's private chapel: not, he added in his egregious modesty, not that
he personally wished to officiate.
'It was Harry's wish?' Janet said, smiling.
'My post of tutor,' Peterborough hastened to explain, 'was almost
entirely supernumerary. The circumstances being so, I the more readily
acquiesced in the title of private chaplain, prepared to fulfil such
duties as devolved upon me in that capacity, and acting thereon I
proffered my occasional services. Lutheranism and Anglicanism are not,
doubtless you are aware, divided on the broader bases. We are common
Protestants. The Papacy, I can assure you, finds as little favour with
one as with the other. Yes, I held forth, as you would say, from time to
time. My assumption of the title of private chaplain, it was thought,
improved the family dignity--that is, on our side.'
'Thought by Harry?' said Janet; and my aunt Dorothy said, 'You and Harry
had a consultation about it?'
'Wanted to appear as grand as they could,' quoth the squire.
Peterborough signified an assent, designed to modify the implication.
'Not beyond due bounds, I trust, sir.'
'Oh! now I understand,' Janet broke out in the falsetto notes of a
puzzle solved in the mind. 'It was his father! Harry proclaiming his
'Mr. Harry's father did first suggest--' said Peterborough, but her
quickly-altered features caused him to draw in his breath, as she had
done after one short laugh.
My grandfather turned a round side-eye on me, hard as a cock's.
Janet immediately started topics to fill Peterborough's mouth: the
weather, the walk to church, the probable preacher. 'And, grandada,'
said she to the squire, who was muttering ominously with a grim under-
jaw, 'His private chaplain!' and for this once would not hear her,
'Grandada, I shall drive you over to see papa this afternoon.' She talked
as if nothing had gone wrong. Peterborough, criminal red, attacked a
jam-pot for a diversion. 'Such sweets are rare indeed on the Continent,'
he observed to my aunt Dorothy. 'Our homemade dainties are matchless.'
'Private chaplain!' the squire growled again.
'It's you that preach this afternoon,' Janet said to Peterborough. 'Do
you give us an extempore sermon?'
'You remind me, Miss Ilchester, I must look to it; I have a little
trimming to do.'
Peterborough thought he might escape, but the squire arrested him.
'You'll give me five minutes before you're out of the house, please.
D' ye smoke on Sundays?'
'Not on Sundays, sir,' said Peterborough, openly and cordially, as to
signify that they were of one mind regarding the perniciousness of Sunday
'See you don't set fire to my ricks with your foreign chaplain's tricks.
I spied you puffing behind one t' other day. There,' the squire
dispersed Peterborough's unnecessary air of abstruse recollection, 'don't
look as though you were trying to hit on a pin's head in a bushel of
oats. Don't set my ricks on fire--that 's all.'
'Mr. Peterborough,' my aunt Dorothy interposed her voice to soften this
rough treatment of him with the offer of some hot-house flowers for his
' Oh, I thank you!' I heard the garlanded victim lowing as I left him to
the squire's mercy.
Janet followed me out. 'It was my fault, Harry. You won't blame him, I
know. But will he fib? I don't think he's capable of it, and I'm sure
he can't run and double. Grandada will have him fast before a minute is
I told her to lose no time in going and extracting the squire's promise
that Peterborough should have his living,--so much it seemed possible to
She flew back, and in Peterborough's momentary absence, did her work.
Nothing could save the unhappy gentleman from a distracting scene and
much archaic English. The squire's power of vituperation was notorious:
he could be more than a match for roadside navvies and predatory tramps
in cogency of epithet. Peterborough came to me drenched, and wailing
that he had never heard such language,--never dreamed of it. And to find
himself the object of it!--and, worse, to be unable to conscientiously
defend himself! The pain to him was in the conscience,--which is, like
the spleen, a function whose uses are only to be understood in its
derangement. He had eased his conscience to every question right out,
and he rejoiced to me at the immense relief it gave him. Conscientiously,
he could not deny that he knew the squire's objection to my being in my
father's society; and he had connived at it 'for reasons, my dearest
Harry, I can justify to God and man, but not--I had to confess as much--
not, I grieve to say, to your grandfather. I attempted to do justice to
the amiable qualities of the absent. In a moment I was assailed with
epithets that . . . and not a word is to be got in when he is so
violent. One has to make up one's mind to act Andromeda, and let him be
the sea-monster, as somebody has said; I forget the exact origin of the
The squire certainly had a whole ocean at command. I strung myself to
pass through the same performance. To my astonishment I went
unchallenged. Janet vehemently asserted that she had mollified the angry
old man, who, however, was dark of visage, though his tongue kept
silence. He was gruff over his wine-glass the blandishments of his
favourite did not brighten him. From his point of view he had been
treated vilely, and he was apparently inclined to nurse his rancour and
keep my fortunes trembling in the balance. Under these circumstances it
was impossible for me to despatch a letter to Ottilia, though I found
that I could write one now, and I sat in my room writing all day,--most
eloquent stuff it was. The shadow of misfortune restored the sense of my
heroical situation, which my father had extinguished, and this unlocked
the powers of speech. I wrote so admirably that my wretchedness could
enjoy the fine millinery I decorated it in. Then to tear the noble
composition to pieces was a bitter gratification. Ottilia's station
repelled and attracted me mysteriously. I could not separate her from
it, nor keep my love of her from the contentions into which it threw me.
In vain I raved, 'What is rank?' There was a magnet in it that could at
least set me quivering and twisting, behaving like a man spellbound, as
madly as any hero of the ballads under a wizard's charm.
At last the squire relieved us. He fixed that side-cast cock's eye of
his on me, and said, 'Where 's your bankers' book, sir?'
I presumed that it was with my bankers, but did not suggest the
possibility that my father might have it in his custody; for he had a
cheque-book of his own, and regulated our accounts. Why not? I thought,
and flushed somewhat defiantly. The money was mine.
'Any objection to my seeing that book?' said the squire.
'None whatever, sir.'
He nodded. I made it a point of honour to write for the book to be sent
down to me immediately.
The book arrived, and the squire handed it to me to break the cover,
insisting, 'You're sure you wouldn't rather not have me look at it?'
'Quite,' I replied. The question of money was to me perfectly
unimportant. I did not see a glimpse of danger in his perusing the list
of my expenses.
''Cause I give you my word I know nothing about it now,' he said.
I complimented him on his frank method of dealing, and told him to look
at the book if he pleased, but with prudence sufficiently awake to check
the declaration that I had not once looked at it myself.
He opened it. We had just assembled in the hall, where breakfast was
laid during Winter, before a huge wood fire. Janet had her teeth on her
lower lip, watching the old man's face. I did not condescend to be
curious; but when I turned my head to him he was puffing through thin
lips, and then his mouth crumpled in a knob. He had seen sights.
'By George, I must have breakfast 'fore I go into this!' he exclaimed,
and stared as if he had come out of an oven.
Dorothy Beltham reminded him that Prayers had not been read.
'Prayers!' He was about to objurgate, but affirmatived her motion to ring
the bell for the servants, and addressed Peterborough: 'You read 'em
abroad every morning?'
Peterborough's conscience started off on its inevitable jog-trot at a
touch of the whip. 'A-yes; that is--oh, it was my office.' He had to
recollect with exactitude:
'I should specify exceptions; there were intervals . . .'
'Please, open your Bible,' the squire cut him short; 'I don't want a
damned fine edge on everything.'
Partly for an admonition to him, or in pure nervousness, Peterborough
blew his nose monstrously: an unlucky note; nothing went well after it.
'A slight cold,' he murmured and resumed the note, and threw himself
maniacally into it. The unexpected figure of Captain Bulsted on tiptoe,
wearing the ceremonial depressed air of intruders on these occasions,
distracted our attention for a moment.
'Fresh from ship, William?' the squire called out.
The captain ejaculated a big word, to judge of it from the aperture, but
it was mute as his footing on the carpet, and he sat and gazed devoutly
toward Peterborough, who had waited to see him take his seat, and must
now, in his hurry to perform his duty, sweep the peccant little redbound
book to the floor. 'Here, I'll have that,' said the squire. 'Allow me,
sir,' said Peterborough; and they sprang into a collision.
'Would you jump out of your pulpit to pick up an old woman's umbrella?'
the squire asked him in wrath, and muttered of requiring none of his
clerical legerdemain with books of business. Tears were in
Peterborough's eyes. My aunt Dorothy's eyes dwelt kindly on him to
encourage him, but the man's irritable nose was again his enemy.
Captain Bulsted chanced to say in the musical voice of inquiry: ' Prayers
are not yet over, are they?'
'No, nor never will be with a parson blowing his horn at this rate,' the
squire rejoined. 'And mind you,' he said to Peterborough, after
dismissing the servants, to whom my aunt Dorothy read the morning lessons
apart, 'I'd not have had this happen, sir, for money in lumps. I've
always known I should hang the day when my house wasn't blessed in the
morning by prayer. So did my father, and his before him. Fiddle! sir,
you can't expect young people to wear decent faces when the parson's
hopping over the floor like a flea, and trumpeting as if the organ-pipe
wouldn't have the sermon at any price. You tried to juggle me out of
this book here.'
'On my!--indeed, sir, no!' Peterborough proclaimed his innocence, and it
was unlikely that the squire should have suspected him.
Captain Bulsted had come to us for his wife, whom he had not found at
home on his arrival last midnight.
'God bless my soul,' said the squire, 'you don't mean to tell me she's
gone off, William?'
'Oh! dear, no, sir,' said the captain, 'she's only cruising.'
The squire recommended a draught of old ale. The captain accepted it.
His comportment was cheerful in a sober fashion, notwithstanding the
transparent perturbation of his spirit. He answered my aunt Dorothy's
questions relating to Julia simply and manfully, as became a gallant
seaman, cordially excusing his wife for not having been at home to
welcome him, with the singular plea, based on his knowledge of the sex,
that the nearer she knew him to be the less able was she to sit on her
chair waiting like Patience. He drank his ale from the hands of
Sillabin, our impassive new butler, who had succeeded Sewis, the squire
told him, like a Whig Ministry the Tory; proof that things were not
'I thought, sir, things were getting better,' said the captain.
'The damnedest mistake ever made, William. How about the Fall of Man,
then? eh? You talk like a heathen Radical. It's Scripture says we're
going from better to worse, and that's Tory doctrine. And stick to the
good as long as you can! Why, William, you were a jolly bachelor once.'
'Sir, and ma'am,' the captain bowed to Dorothy Beltham, 'I have, thanks
to you, never known happiness but in marriage, and all I want is my
The squire fretted for Janet to depart. 'I 'm going, grandada,' she
said. 'You'll oblige me by not attending to any matter of business
to-day. Give me that book of Harry's to keep for you.'
'How d' ye mean, my dear?'
'It 's bad work done on a Sunday, you know.'
'So it is. I'll lock up the book.'
'I have your word for that, grandada,' said Janet.
The ladies retired, taking Peterborough with them.
'Good-bye to the frocks! and now, William, out with your troubles,' said
The captain's eyes were turned to the door my aunt Dorothy had passed
'You remember the old custom, sir!'
'Ay, do I, William. Sorry for you then; infernally sorry for you now,
that I am! But you've run your head into the halter.'
'I love her, sir; I love her to distraction. Let any man on earth say
she's not an angel, I flatten him dead as his lie. By the way, sir, I am
bound in duty to inform you I am speaking of my wife.'
'To be sure you are, William, and a trim schooner-yacht she is.'
'She 's off, sir; she's off!'
I thought it time to throw in a word. 'Captain Bulsted, I should hold
any man but you accountable to me for hinting such things of my friend.'
'Harry, your hand,' he cried, sparkling.
'Hum; his hand!' growled the squire. 'His hand's been pretty lively on
the Continent, William. Here, look at this book, William, and the bundle
o' cheques! No, I promised my girl. We'll go into it to-morrow, he and
I, early. The fellow has shot away thousands and thousands--been
gallivanting among his foreign duchesses and countesses. There 's a
petticoat in that bank-book of his; and more than one, I wager. Now he's
for marrying a foreign princess--got himself in a tangle there, it
'Mightily well done, Harry!' Captain Bulsted struck a terrific encomium
on my shoulder, groaning, 'May she be true to you, my lad!'
The squire asked him if he was going to church that morning.
'I go to my post, sir, by my fireside,' the captain replied; nor could he
be induced to leave his post vacant by the squire's promise to him of a
sermon that would pickle his temper for a whole week's wear and tear.
He regretted extremely that he could not enjoy so excellent a trial of
his patience, but he felt himself bound to go to his post and wait.
I walked over to Bulsted with him, and heard on the way that it was
Heriot who had called for her and driven her off. 'The man had been,
I supposed,' Captain Bulsted said, 'deputed by some of you to fetch her
over to Riversley. My servants mentioned his name. I thought it
adviseable not to trouble the ladies with it to-day.' He meditated.
'I hoped I should find her at the Grange in the morning, Harry. I slept
on it, rather than startle the poor lamb in the night.'
I offered him to accompany him at once to Heriot's quarters.
'What! and let my wife know I doubted her fidelity. My girl shall never
accuse me of that.'
As it turned out, Julia had been taken by Heriot on a visit to Lady Maria
Higginson, the wife of the intrusive millionaire, who particularly
desired to know her more intimately. Thoughtless Julia, accepting the
impudent invitation without scruple, had allowed herself to be driven
away without stating the place of her destination. She and Heriot were
in the Higginsons' pew at church. Hearing from Janet of her husband's
arrival, she rushed home, and there, instead of having to beg
forgiveness, was summoned to grant pardon. Captain Bulsted had drawn
largely on Squire Gregory's cellar to assist him in keeping his post.
The pair appeared before us fondling ineffably next day, neither one
of them capable of seeing that our domestic peace at the Grange was
unseated. 'We 're the two wretchedest creatures alive; haven't any of
ye to spare a bit of sympathy for us?' Julia began. 'We 're like on a
pitchfork. There's William's duty to his country, and there 's his
affection for me, and they won't go together, because Government, which
is that horrid Admiralty, fears pitching and tossing for post-captains'
wives. And William away, I 'm distracted, and the Admiralty's hair's on
end if he stops. And, 'deed, Miss Beltham, I'm not more than married to
just half a husband.'
The captain echoed her, 'Half! but happy enough for twenty whole ones,
if you'll be satisfied, my duck.'
Julia piteously entreated me, for my future wife's sake, not to take
service under Government. As for the Admiralty, she said, it had no
characteristic but the abominable one, that it hated a woman. The squire
laid two or three moderately coarse traps for the voluble frank creature,
which she evaded with surprising neatness, showing herself more awake
than one would have imagined her. Janet and I fancied she must have come
with the intention to act uxorious husband and Irish wife for the
distinct purpose of diverting the squire's wrath from me, for he greatly
delighted in the sight of merry wedded pairs. But they were as simple as
possible in their display of happiness.
It chanced that they came opportunely. My bankers' book had been the
theme all the morning, and an astonishing one to me equally with my
grandfather: Since our arrival in England, my father had drawn nine
thousand pounds. The sums expended during our absence on the Continent
reached the perplexing figures of forty-eight thousand. I knew it too
likely, besides, that all debts were not paid. Self--self--self drew for
thousands at a time; sometimes, as the squire's convulsive forefinger
indicated, for many thousands within a week. It was incomprehensible to
him until I, driven at bay by questions and insults, and perceiving that
concealment could not long be practised, made a virtue of the situation
by telling him (what he in fact must have seen) that my father possessed
a cheque-book as well as I, and likewise drew upon the account. We had
required the money; it was mine, and I had sold out Bank Stock and
Consols,--which gave very poor interest, I remarked cursorily-and had
kept the money at my bankers', to draw upon according to our necessities.
I pitied the old man while speaking. His face was livid; language died
from his lips. He asked to have little things explained to him--the two
cheque-books, for instance,--and what I thought of doing when this money
was all gone: for he supposed I did not expect the same amount to hand
every two years; unless, he added, I had given him no more than a couple
of years' lease of life when I started for my tour. 'Then the money's
gone!' he summed up; and this was the signal for redemanding
explanations. Had he not treated me fairly and frankly in handing over
my own to me on the day of my majority? Yes.
'And like a fool, you think--eh?'
'I have no such thought in my head, sir.'
'You have been keeping that fellow in his profligacy, and you 're keeping
him now. Why, you 're all but a beggar! . . . Comes to my house,
talks of his birth, carries off my daughter, makes her mad, lets her
child grow up to lay hold of her money, and then grips him fast and pecks
him, fleeces him! . . . You 're beggared--d 'ye know that? He's had
the two years of you, and sucked you dry. What were you about? What
were you doing? Did you have your head on? You shared cheque-books?
good! . . . The devil in hell never found such a fool as you! You
had your house full of your foreign bonyrobers--eh? Out with it! How
did you pass your time? Drunk and dancing?'
By such degrees my grandfather worked himself up to the pitch for his
style of eloquence. I have given a faint specimen of it. When I took
the liberty to consider that I had heard enough, he followed me out of
the library into the hall, where Janet stood. In her presence, he
charged the princess and her family with being a pack of greedy
adventurers, conspirators with 'that fellow' to plunder me; and for a
proof of it, he quoted my words, that my father's time had been spent in
superintending the opening of a coal-mine on Prince Ernest's estate.
'That fellow pretending to manage a coal-mine!' Could not a girl see it
was a shuffle to hoodwink a greenhorn? And now he remembered it was
Colonel Goodwin and his daughter who had told him of having seen 'the
fellow' engaged in playing Court-buffoon to a petty German prince, and
performing his antics, cutting capers like a clown at a fair.
'Shame!' said Janet.
'Hear her!' The squire turned to me.
But she cried: 'Oh! grandada, hear yourself! or don't, be silent. If
Harry has offended you, speak like one gentleman to another. Don't rob
me of my love for you: I haven't much besides that.'
'No, because of a scoundrel and his young idiot!'
Janet frowned in earnest, and said: 'I don't permit you to change the
meaning of the words I speak.'
He muttered a proverb of the stables. Reduced to behave temperately, he
began the whole history of my bankers' book anew--the same queries, the
same explosions and imprecations.
'Come for a walk with me, dear Harry,' said Janet.
I declined to be protected in such a manner, absurdly on my dignity; and
the refusal, together possibly with some air of contemptuous independence
in the tone of it, brought the squire to a climax. 'You won't go out and
walk with her? You shall go down on your knees to her and beg her to
give you her arm for a walk. By God! you shall, now, here, on the spot,
or off you go to your German princess, with your butler's legacy, and
nothing more from me but good-bye and the door bolted. Now, down with
He expected me to descend.
'And if he did, he would never have my arm.' Janet's eyes glittered hard
on the squire.
'Before that rascal dies, my dear, he shall whine like a beggar out in
the cold for the tips of your fingers!'
'Not if he asks me first,' said Janet.
This set him off again. He realized her prospective generosity, and
contrasted it with my actual obtuseness. Janet changed her tactics. She
assumed indifference. But she wanted experience, and a Heriot to help
her in playing a part. She did it badly--overdid it; so that the old
man, now imagining both of us to be against his scheme for uniting us,
counted my iniquity as twofold. Her phrase, 'Harry and I will always be
friends,' roused the loudest of his denunciations upon me, as though
there never had been question of the princess, so inveterate was his
mind's grasp of its original designs. Friends! Would our being friends
give him heirs by law to his estate and name? And so forth. My aunt
Dorothy came to moderate his invectives. In her room the heavily-
burdened little book of figures was produced, and the items read aloud;
and her task was to hear them without astonishment, but with a business-
like desire to comprehend them accurately, a method that softened the
squire's outbursts by degrees. She threw out hasty running commentaries:
'Yes, that was for a yacht'; and 'They were living at the Court of a
prince'; such and such a sum was 'large, but Harry knew his grandfather
did not wish him to make a poor appearance.'
'Why, do you mean to swear to me, on your oath, Dorothy Beltham,' said
the squire, amazed at the small amazement he created 'you think these two
fellows have been spending within the right margin? What'll be women's
'No,' she answered demurely. 'I think Harry has been extravagant, and
has had his lesson. And surely it is better now than later? But you
are, not making allowances for his situation as the betrothed of a
'That 's what turns your head,' said he; and she allowed him to have the
notion, and sneer at herself and her sex.
'How about this money drawn since he came home?' the squire persisted.
My aunt Dorothy reddened. He struck his finger on the line marking the
sum, repeating his demand; and at this moment Captain Bulsted and Julia
arrived. The ladies manoeuvred so that the captain and the squire were
left alone together. Some time afterward the captain sent out word that
he begged his wife's permission to stay to dinner at the Grange, and
requested me to favour him by conducting his wife to Bulsted: proof, as
Julia said, that the two were engaged in a pretty hot tussle. She was
sure her William would not be the one to be beaten.
I led her away, rather depressed by the automaton performance assigned to
me; from which condition I awoke with a touch of horror to find myself
paying her very warm compliments; for she had been coquettish and
charming to cheer me, and her voice was sweet. We reached a point in our
conversation I know not where, but I must have spoken with some warmth.
'Then guess,' said she, 'what William is suffering for your sake now,
Harry'; that is, 'suffering in remaining away from me on your account';
and thus, in an instant, with a skill so intuitive as to be almost
unconscious, she twirled me round to a right sense of my position, and
set me reflecting, whether a love that clad me in such imperfect armour
as to leave me penetrable to these feminine graces--a plump figure,
swinging skirts, dewy dark eyelids, laughing red lips--could indeed be
absolute love. And if it was not love of the immortal kind, what was I?
I looked back on the thought like the ship on its furrow through the
waters, and saw every mortal perplexity, and death under. My love of
Ottilia delusion? Then life was delusion! I contemplated Julia in
alarm, somewhat in the light fair witches were looked on when the faggots
were piled for them. The sense of her unholy attractions abased and
mortified me: and it set me thinking on the strangeness of my disregard
of Mdlle. Jenny Chassediane when in Germany, who was far sprightlier,
if not prettier, and, as I remembered, had done me the favour to make
discreet play with her eyelids in our encounters, and long eyes in
passing. I caught myself regretting my coldness of that period; for
which regrets I could have swung the scourge upon my miserable flesh.
Ottilia's features seemed dying out of my mind. 'Poor darling Harry!'
Julia sighed. 'And d' ye know, the sight of a young man far gone in love
gives me the trembles?' I rallied her concerning the ladder scene in my
old schooldays, and the tender things she had uttered to Heriot. She
answered, 'Oh, I think I got them out of poets and chapters about
lovemaking, or I felt it very much. And that's what I miss in William;
he can't talk soft nice nonsense. I believe him, he would if he could,
but he 's like a lion of the desert--it 's a roar!'
I rejoiced when we heard the roar. Captain Bulsted returned to take
command of his ship, not sooner than I wanted him, and told us of a
fierce tussle with the squire. He had stuck to him all day, and up to 11
P.M. 'By George! Harry, he had to make humble excuses to dodge out of
eyeshot a minute. Conquered him over the fourth bottle! And now all's
right. He'll see your dad. "In a barn?" says the squire. "Here 's to
your better health, sir," I bowed to him; "gentlemen don't meet in barns;
none but mice and traps make appointments there." To shorten my story,
my lad, I have arranged for the squire and your excellent progenitor to
meet at Bulsted: we may end by bringing them over a bottle of old Greg's
best. "See the boy's father," I kept on insisting. The point is, that
this confounded book must be off your shoulders, my lad. A dirty dog may
wash in a duck-pond. You see, Harry, the dear old squire may set up your
account twenty times over, but he has a right to know how you twirl the
coin. He says you don't supply the information. I suggest to him that
your father can, and will. So we get them into a room together. I'll be
answerable for the rest. And now top your boom, and to bed here: off in
the morning and tug the big vessel into port here! And, Harry, three
cheers, and another bottle to crown the victory, if you 're the man for
Julia interposed a decided negative to the proposal; an ordinarily
unlucky thing to do with bibulous husbands, and the captain looked
uncomfortably checked; but when he seemed to be collecting to assert
himself, the humour of her remark, 'Now, no bravado, William,' disarmed
'Bravado, my sweet chuck?'
'Won't another bottle be like flashing your sword after you've won the
day?' said she.
He slung his arm round her, and sent a tremendous whisper into my ear--
'A perfect angel!'
I started for London next day, more troubled aesthetically regarding the
effect produced on me by this order of perfect angels than practically
anxious about material affairs, though it is true that when I came into
proximity with my father, the thought of his all but purely mechanical
power of making money spin, fly, and vanish, like sparks from a fire-
engine, awakened a serious disposition in me to bring our monetary
partnership to some definite settlement. He was living in splendour,
next door but one to the grand establishment he had driven me to from
Dipwell in the old days, with Mrs. Waddy for his housekeeper once more,
Alphonse for his cook. Not living on the same scale, however, the
troubled woman said. She signified that it was now the whirlwind.
I could not help smiling to see how proud she was of him, nevertheless,
as a god-like charioteer--in pace, at least.
'Opera to-night,' she answered my inquiries for him, admonishing me by
her tone that I ought not to be behindhand in knowing his regal rules and
habits. Praising his generosity, she informed me that he had spent one
hundred pounds, and offered a reward of five times the sum, for the
discovery of Mabel Sweetwinter. 'Your papa never does things by halves,
Mr. Harry!' Soon after she was whimpering, 'Oh, will it last?' I was
shown into the room called 'The princess's room,' a miracle of furniture,
not likely to be occupied by her, I thought, the very magnificence of the
apartment striking down hope in my heart like cold on a nerve. Your papa
says the whole house is to be for you, Mr. Harry, when the happy day
comes.' Could it possibly be that he had talked of the princess? I took
a hasty meal and fortified myself with claret to have matters clear with
him before the night was over.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Discreet play with her eyelids in our encounters
Excellent is pride; but oh! be sure of its foundations
I do not defend myself ever
Nations at war are wild beasts
Only true race, properly so called, out of India--German
Some so-called laws of honour
They are little ironical laughter--Accidents
War is only an exaggerated form of duelling
Winter mornings are divine. They move on noiselessly
THE ADVENTURES OF HARRY RICHMOND
By George Meredith
XXXIX. I SEE MY FATHER TAKING THE TIDE AND AM CARRIED ON IT MYSELF
XL. MY FATHER'S MEETING WITH MY GRANDFATHER
XLI. COMMENCEMENT OF THE SPLENDOURS AND PERPLEXITIES OF MY FATHER'S
XLII. THE MARQUIS OF EDBURY AND HIS PUPPET
XLIII. I BECOME ONE OF THE CHOSEN OF THE NATION
XLIV. MY FATHER IS MIRACULOUSLY RELIEVED BY FORTUNE
I SEE MY FATHER TAKING THE TIDE AND AM CARRIED ON IT MYSELF
My father stood in the lobby of the Opera, holding a sort of open court,
it appeared to me, for a cluster of gentlemen hung round him; and I had
presently to bow to greetings which were rather of a kind to flatter me,
leading me to presume that he was respected as well as marvelled at.
The names of Mr. Serjeant Wedderburn, Mr. Jennings, Lord Alton,
Sir Weeton Slater, Mr. Monterez Williams, Admiral Loftus, the Earl of
Witlington, were among those which struck my ear, and struck me as good
ones. I could not perceive anything of the air of cynical satellites in
these gentlemen--on the contrary, they were cordially deferential. I
felt that he was encompassed by undoubted gentlemen, and my warmer
feelings to my father returned when I became sensible of the pleasant
sway he held over the circle, both in speaking and listening. His
sympathetic smile and semi-droop of attention; his readiness, when
occasion demanded it, to hit the key of the subject and help it on with
the right word; his air of unobtrusive appreciation; his sensibility to
the moment when the run of conversation depended upon him--showed
inimitable art coming of natural genius; and he did not lose a shade of
his superior manner the while. Mr. Serjeant Wedderburn, professionally
voluble, a lively talker, brimming with anecdote, but too sparkling,
too prompt, too full of personal relish of his point, threw my father's
urbane supremacy into marked relief; and so in another fashion did the
Earl of Witlington, 'a youth in the season of guffaws,' as Jorian DeWitt
described him, whom a jest would seize by the throat, shaking his sapling
frame. Jorian strolled up to us goutily. No efforts of my father's
would induce him to illustrate his fame for repartee, so it remained
established. 'Very pretty waxwork,' he said to me of our English
beauties swimming by. 'Now, those women, young Richmond, if they were
inflammable to the fiftieth degree, that is, if they had the fiftieth
part of a Frenchwoman in them, would have canvassed society on the great
man's account long before this, and sent him to the top like a bubble.
He wastes his time on them. That fat woman he's bowing to is Viscountess
Sedley, a porcine empress, widow of three, with a soupcon of bigamy to
flavour them. She mounted from a grocer's shop, I am told. Constitution
has done everything for that woman. So it will everywhere--it beats the
world! Now he's on all-fours to Lady Rachel Stokes, our pure
aristocracy; she walks as if she were going through a doorway, and
couldn't risk an eyelid. I 'd like to see her tempting St. Anthony.
That's little Wreckham's wife: she's had as many adventures as Gil Blas
before he entered the Duke of Lerma's service.' He reviewed several
ladies, certainly not very witty when malignant, as I remembered my
father to have said of him. 'The style of your Englishwoman is to keep
the nose exactly at one elevation, to show you're born to it. They
daren't run a gamut, these women. These Englishwomen are a fiction! The
model of them is the nursery-miss, but they're like the names of true
lovers cut on the bark of a tree--awfully stiff and longitudinal with the
advance of time. We've our Lady Jezebels, my boy! They're in the pay of
the bishops, or the police, to make vice hideous. The rest do the same
for virtue, and get their pay for it somewhere, I don't doubt; perhaps
from the newspapers, to keep up the fiction. I tell you, these
Englishwomen have either no life at all in them, or they're nothing but
animal life. 'Gad, how they dizen themselves! They've no other use for
their fingers. The wealth of this country's frightful!'
Jorian seemed annoyed that he could not excite me to defend my
countrywomen; but I had begun to see that there was no necessity for the
sanguine to encounter the bilious on their behalf, and was myself
inclined to be critical. Besides I was engaged in watching my father,
whose bearing toward the ladies he accosted did not dissatisfy my
critical taste, though I had repeated fears of seeing him overdo it. He
summoned me to an introduction to the Countess Szezedy, a merry little
'So,' said she at once, speaking German, 'you are to marry the romantic
head, the Princess Ottilia of Eppenwelzen! I know her well. I have met
her in Vienna. Schone Seele, and bas bleu! It's just those that are won
with a duel. I know Prince Otto too.' She prattled away, and asked me
whether the marriage was to take place in the Summer. I was too
astounded to answer.
'No date is yet fixed,' my father struck in.
'It's the talk of London,' she said.
Before I could demand explanations of my father with regard to this
terrible rumour involving Ottilia, I found myself in the box of the City
widow, Lady Sampleman, a grievous person, of the complexion of the
autumnal bramble-leaf, whose first words were: 'Ah! the young suitor!
And how is our German princess?' I had to reply that the theme was more
of German princes than princesses in England. 'Oh! but,' said she, 'you
are having a--shall I call it--national revenge on them? "I will take
one of your princesses," says you; and as soon as said done! I'm dying
for a sight of her portrait. Captain DeWitt declares her heavenly--I
mean, he says she is fair and nice, quite a lady-that of course! And
never mind her not being rich. You can do the decoration to the match.
H'm,' she perused my features; 'pale! Lovelorn? Excuse an old friend of
your father's. One of his very oldest, I'd say, if it didn't impugn.
As such, proud of your alliance. I am. I speak of it everywhere--
Here she dramatized the circulation of the gossip. 'Have you heard the
news? No, what? Fitz-George's son marries a princess of the German
realm. Indeed! True as gospel. And how soon? In a month; and now you
will see the dear, neglected man command the Court . . . .'
I looked at my father: I felt stifling with confusion and rage. He leant
over to her, imparting some ecstatic news about a great lady having
determined to call on her to regulate the affairs of an approaching grand
Ball, and under cover of this we escaped.
'If it were not,' said he, 'for the Chassediane--you are aware, Richie,
poor Jorian is lost to her?--he has fallen at her quicksilver feet.
She is now in London. Half the poor fellow's income expended in
bouquets! Her portrait, in the character of the widow Lefourbe, has
become a part of his dressing apparatus; he shaves fronting her playbill.
His first real affaire de coeur, and he is forty-five! So he is taken in
the stomach. That is why love is such a dangerous malady for middle age.
As I said, but for Jenny Chassediane, our Sampleman would be the fortune
for Jorian. I have hinted it on both sides. Women, Richie, are cleverer
than the illustrious Lord Nelson in not seeing what their inclinations
decline to see, and Jorian would do me any service in the world except
that one. You are restless, my son?'
I begged permission to quit the house, and wait for him outside. He, in
return, begged me most urgently to allow myself to be introduced to Lady
Edbury, the stepmother of Lord Destrier, now Marquis of Edbury; and,
using conversational pressure, he adjured me not to slight this lady,
adding, with more significance than the words conveyed, 'I am taking the
tide, Richie.' The tide took me, and I bowed to a lady of impressive
languor, pale and young, with pleasant manners, showing her character
in outline, like a glove on the hand, but little of its quality. She
accused my father of coming direct from 'that person's' box. He replied
that he never forsook old friends. 'You should,' was her rejoinder.
It suggested to me an image of one of the sister Fates cutting a thread.
My heart sank when, from Lady Edbury too, I heard the allusion to Germany
and its princess. 'Some one told me she was dark?'
'Blonde,' my father corrected the report.
Lady Edbury 'thought it singular for a German woman of the Blood to be a
brunette. They had not much dark mixture among them, particularly in the
North. Her name? She had forgotten the name of the princess.'
My father repeated: 'The Princess Ottilia, Princess of Eppenwelzen-
'Brunette, you say?'
'The purest blonde.'
'A complexion to dazzle the righteous!'
Lady Edbury threw a flying glance in a mirror: 'The unrighteous you leave
to us then?'
They bandied the weariful shuttlecock of gallantry. I bowed and fled.
My excuse was that I had seen Anna Penrhys in an upper tier of boxes, and
I made my way to her, doubting how I should be welcomed. 'The happy
woman is a German princess, we hear!' she set me shivering. Her welcome
was perfectly unreserved and friendly.
She asked the name of the lady whose box I had quitted, and after
bending her opera-glass on it for a moment, said, with a certain air of
satisfaction, 'She is young'; which led me to guess that Lady Edbury was
reputed to be Anna's successor; but why the latter should be flattered by
the former's youth was one of the mysteries for me then. Her aunt was
awakened from sleep by the mention of my name. 'Is the man here?' she
exclaimed, starting. Anna smiled, and talked to me of my father, saying,
that she was glad to see me at his right hand, for he had a hard battle
to fight. She spoke of him with affectionate interest in his fortunes;
no better proof of his generosity as well as hers could have been given
me. I promised her heartily I would not be guilty of letting our
intimacy drop, and handed the ladies down to the crush-room, where I saw
my father leading Lady Edbury to her carriage, much observed. Destrier,
the young marquis, coming in to meet the procession from other haunts,
linked his arm to his friend Witlington's, and said something in my
hearing of old 'Duke Fitz,' which provoked, I fancied, signs of amusement
equivalent to tittering in a small ring of the select assembly. Lady
Sampleman's carriage was called. 'Another victim,' said a voice. Anna
Penrhys walked straight out to find her footman and carriage for herself.
I stood alone in the street, wondering, fretting, filled with a variety
of ugly sensations, when my father joined me humming an air of the opera.
'I was looking for Jorian, Richie. He had our Sampleman under his
charge. He is off to the Chassediane. Well! And well, Richie, you
could not bear the absence from your dada? You find me in full sail on
the tide. I am at home, if our fortunes demand it, in a little German
principality, but there is,' he threw out his chest, 'a breadth in
London; nowhere else do I breathe with absolute freedom--so largely: and
this is my battlefield. By the way, Lady Edbury accounts you complete;
which is no more to say than that she is a woman of taste. The instance:
she positively would not notice that you wear a dress-coat of a foreign
cut. Correct it to-morrow; my tailor shall wait on you. I meant to
point out to you that when a London woman has not taken note of that, the
face and the man have made the right impression on her. Richie, dear
boy, how shall I speak the delight I have in seeing you! My arm in
yours, old Richie! strolling home from the Fashion: this seems to me
what I dreamt of! All in sound health at the Grange? She too, the best
'I have come on very particular business,' I interposed briefly.
He replied, 'I am alive to you, Richie; speak.'
'The squire has seen my bankers' book. He thinks I've been drawing
rather wildly: no doubt he's right. He wants some sort of explanation.
He consents to an interview with you. I have come to ask you to go down
to him, sir.'
'To-morrow morning, without an hour's delay, my dear boy. Very agreeable
will be the sight of old Riversley. And in the daylight!'
'He prefers to meet you at Bulsted. Captain Bulsted offers his house for
the purpose. I have to warn you, sir, that we stand in a very
exceptional position. The squire insists upon having a full account
of the money rendered to him.'
'I invite him to London, Richie. I refer him to Dettermain and Newson.
I request him to compute the value of a princess.'
'You are aware that he will not come to your invitation.'
'Tell me, then, how is he to understand what I have established by the
expenditure, my son? I refer him to Dettermain and Newson.'
'But you must know that he sets his face against legal proceedings
'But surely, Richie, exposure is the very thing we court. The innocent,
the unjustly treated, court it. We would be talked about; you shall hear
of us! And into the bargain an hereditary princess. Upon my faith, Mr.
Beltham, I think you have mighty little to complain of.'
My temper was beginning to chafe at the curb. 'As regards any feeling
about the money, personally, sir, you know I have none. But I must speak
of one thing. I have heard to-night, I confess with as much astonishment
as grief, the name . . . I could not have guessed that I should hear
the princess's name associated with mine, and quite openly.'
'As a matter of course.' He nodded, and struck out a hand in wavy motion.
'Well, sir, if you can't feel for her or her family, be good enough to
think of me, and remember that I object to it.'
'For you all,' said he, buoyantly; 'I feel for you all, and I will act
for you all. I bring the princess to your arms, my dear boy. You have
written me word that the squire gives her a royal dowry--have you not?
My combinations permit of no escape to any one of you. Nay, 'tis done.
I think for you--I feel for you--I act for you. By heaven, you shall be
happy! Sigh, Richie, sigh; your destiny is now entrusted to me!'
'I daresay I'm wasting my breath, sir, but I protest against false
pretences. You know well that you have made use of the princess's name
for your own purposes.'
'Most indubitably, Richie, I have; and are they not yours? I must have
social authority to succeed in our main enterprise. Possibly the
princess's name serves for a temporary chandelier to cast light on us.
She belongs to us. For her sake, we are bringing the house she enters
into order. Thus, Richie, I could tell Mr. Beltham: you and he supply
the money, the princess the name, and I the energy, the skilfulness, and
the estimable cause. I pay the princess for the use of her name with the
dowry, which is royal; I pay you with the princess, who is royal too; and
I, Richie, am paid by your happiness most royally. Together, it is past
contest that we win.--Here, my little one,' he said to a woman, and
dropped a piece of gold into her hand, 'on condition that you go straight
home.' The woman thanked him and promised. 'As I was observing, we are
in the very tide of success. Curious! I have a slight inclination to
melancholy. Success, quotha? Why, hundreds before us have paced the
identical way homeward at night under these lamps between the mansions
and the park. The bare thought makes them resemble a double line of
undertakers. The tomb is down there at the end of them--costly or not.
At the age of four, on my birthday, I was informed that my mother lay
dead in her bed. I remember to this day my astonishment at her not
moving. "Her heart is broken," my old nurse said. To me she appeared
intact. Her sister took possession of me, and of her papers, and the
wedding-ring--now in the custody of Dettermain and Newson--together with
the portraits of both my parents; and she, poor soul, to sustain me, as I
verily believe--she had a great idea of my never asking unprofitably for
anything in life--bartered the most corroborative of the testificatory
documents, which would now make the establishment of my case a
comparatively light task. Have I never spoken to you of my boyhood? My
maternal uncle was a singing-master and master of elocution. I am
indebted to him for the cultivation of my voice. He taught me an
effective delivery of my sentences. The English of a book of his called
The Speaker is still to my mind a model of elegance. Remittances of
money came to him from an unknown quarter; and, with a break or two, have
come ever since up to this period. My old nurse-heaven bless her--
resumed the occupation of washing. I have stood by her tub, Richie,
blowing bubbles and listening to her prophecies of my exalted fortune for
hours. On my honour, I doubt, I seriously doubt, if I have ever been
happier. I depend just now--I have to avow it to you--slightly upon
stimulants . . . of a perfectly innocuous character. Mrs. Waddy will
allow me a pint of champagne. The truth is, Richie--you see these two or
three poor pensioners of mine, honi soit qui mal y pense--my mother has
had hard names thrown at her. The stones of these streets cry out to me
to have her vindicated. I am not tired; but I want my wine.'
He repeated several times before he reached his housedoor, that he wanted
his wine, in a manner to be almost alarming. His unwonted effort of
memory, the singular pictures of him which it had flashed before me, and
a sort of impatient compassion, made me forget my wrath. I saw him take
his restorative at one draught. He lay down on a sofa, and his valet
drew his boots off and threw a cloak over him. Lying there, he wished me
gaily good-night. Mrs. Waddy told me that he had adopted this system of
sleeping for the last month. 'Bless you, as many people call on him at
night now as in the day,' she said; and I was induced to suppose he had
some connection with the Press. She had implicit faith in his powers of
constitution, and would affirm, that he had been the death of dozens whom
the attraction had duped to imitate his habits. 'He is now a Field-
Marshal on his campaign.' She betrayed a twinkle of humour. He must
himself have favoured her with that remark. The report of the house-door
frequently shutting in the night suggested the passage of his aides-de-
Early in the morning, I found him pacing through the open doors of the
dining-room and the library dictating to a secretary at a desk, now and
then tossing a word to Dettermain and Newson's chief clerk. The floor
was strewn with journals. He wore Hessian boots; a voluminous black
cloak hung loosely from his shoulders.
'I am just settling the evening papers,' he said after greeting me, with
a show of formality in his warmth; and immediately added, 'That will do,
Mr. Jopson. Put in a note--" Mr. Harry Lepel Richmond of Riversley and
Twn-y-glas, my son, takes no step to official distinction in his native
land save through the ordinary Parliamentary channels." Your pardon,
Richie; presently. I am replying to a morning paper.'
'What's this? Why print my name?' I cried.
'Merely the correction of an error. I have to insist, my dear boy, that
you claim no privileges: you are apart from them. Mr. Jopson, I beseech
you, not a minute's delay in delivering that. Fetch me from the
printer's my pamphlet this afternoon. Mr. Jacobs, my compliments to
Dettermain and Newson: I request them to open proceedings instanter, and
let the world know of it. Good-morning, gentlemen.'
And now, turning to me, my father fenced me with the whole weight of his
sententious volubility, which was the force of a river. Why did my name
appear in the papers? Because I was his son. But he assured me that he
carefully separated me from public companionship with his fortunes, and
placed me on the side of my grandfather, as a plain gentleman of England,
the heir of the most colossal wealth possible in the country.
'I dis-sociate you from me, Richie, do you see? I cause it to be
declared that you need, on no account, lean on me. Jopson will bring you
my pamphlet--my Declaration of Rights--to peruse. In the Press, in
Literature, at Law, and on social ground, I meet the enemy, and I claim
my own; by heaven, I do! And I will down to the squire for a
distraction, if you esteem it necessary, certainly. Half-a-dozen .
words to him. Why, do you maintain him to be insensible to a title for
you? No, no. And ask my friends. I refer him to any dozen of my
friends to convince him I have the prize almost in my possession. Why,
dear boy, I have witnesses, living witnesses, to the ceremony. Am I,
tell me, to be deprived of money now, once again, for the eleventh time?
Oh! And put aside my duty to you, I protest I am bound in duty to her
who bore me--you have seen her miniature: how lovely that dear woman was!
how gentle!--bound in duty to her to clear her good name. This does not
affect you . . . '
'Oh, but it does,' he allowed me to plead.
'Ay, through your love for your dada.'
He shook me by both hands. I was touched with pity, and at the same time
in doubt whether it was not an actor that swayed me; for I was
discontented, and could not speak my discontent; I was overborne,
overflowed. His evasion of the matter of my objections relating to the
princess I felt to be a palpable piece of artfulness, but I had to
acknowledge to myself that I knew what his argument would be, and how
overwhelmingly his defence of it would spring forth. My cowardice shrank
from provoking a recurrence to the theme. In fact, I submitted
consciously to his masterful fluency and emotional power, and so I was
carried on the tide with him, remaining in London several days to witness
that I was not the only one. My father, admitting that money served him
in his conquest of society, and defying any other man to do as much with
it as he did, replied to a desperate insinuation of mine, 'This money I
spend I am actually putting out to interest as much as, or more than,
your grandad.' He murmured confidentially, 'I have alarmed the
Government. Indeed, I have warrant for saying I am in communication with
its agents. They are bribing me; they are positively bribing me, Richie.
I receive my stipend annually. They are mighty discreet. So am I. But
I push them hard. I take what they offer: I renounce none of my claims.'
Janet wrote that it would be prudent for me to return.
'I am prepared,' my father said. 'I have only to meet Mr. Beltham in a
room--I stipulate that it shall be between square walls--to win him. The
squire to back us, Richie, we have command of the entire world. His
wealth, and my good cause, and your illustrious union--by the way, it is
announced definitely in this morning's paper.'
Dismayed, I asked what was announced.
'Read,' said he. 'This will be something to hand to Mr. Beltham at our
meeting. I might trace it to one of the embassies, Imperial or Royal.
No matter--there it is.'
I read a paragraph in which Ottilia's name and titles were set down; then
followed mine and my wealthy heirship, and--woe was me in the perusing of
it!--a roundabout vindication of me as one not likely to be ranked as the
first of English commoners who had gained the hand of an hereditary
foreign princess, though it was undoubtedly in the light of a commoner
that I was most open to the congratulations of my countrymen upon my
unparalleled felicity. A display of historical erudition cited the noble
inferiors by birth who had caught princesses to their arms--Charles,
Humphrey, William, John. Under this list, a later Harry!
The paragraph closed by fixing the nuptials to take place before the end
of the Season.
I looked at my father to try a struggle with him. The whole man was
'Can't it be stopped?' I implored him.
He signified the impossibility in a burst of gesticulations, motions of
the mouth, smiling frowns; various patterns of an absolute negative
beating down opposition.
'Things printed can never be stopped, Richie. Our Jorian compares them
to babies baptized. They have a soul from that moment, and go on for
ever!--an admirable word of Jorian's. And a word to you, Richie. Will
you swear to me by the veracity of your lover's heart, that paragraph
affords you no satisfaction? He cannot swear it!' my father exclaimed,
seeing me swing my shoulder round, and he made me feel that it would have
been a false oath if I had sworn it. But I could have sworn, that I had
rather we two were at the bottom of the sea than that it should come
under the princess's eyes. I read it again. It was in print. It looked
like reality. It was at least the realization of my dream. But this
played traitor and accused me of being crowned with no more than a dream.
The sole practical thing I could do was to insist on our starting for
Riversley immediately, to make sure of my own position. 'Name your hour,
Richie,' my father said confidently: and we waited.
A rather plainer view of my father's position, as I inclined to think,
was afforded to me one morning at his breakfast-table, by a conversation
between him and Jorian DeWitt, who brought me a twisted pink note from
Mdlle. Chassediane, the which he delivered with the air of a dog made to
disgorge a bone, and he was very cool to me indeed. The cutlets of
Alphonse were subject to snappish criticism. 'I assume,' he said, 'the
fellow knew I was coming?'
'He saw it in my handwriting of yesterday,' replied my father. 'But be
just to him, acknowledge that he is one of the few that perform their
daily duties with a tender conscience.'
'This English climate has bedevilled the fellow! He peppers his dishes
like a mongrel Indian reared on mangoes.'
'Ring him up, ring him up, Jorian. All I beg of you is not to disgust
him with life, for he quits any service in the world to come to me, and,
in fact, he suits me.'
'Exactly so: you spoil him.'
My father shrugged. 'The state of the case is, that your stomach is
growing delicate, friend Jorian.'
'The actual state of the case being, that my palate was never keener, and
consequently my stomach knows its business.'
'You should have tried the cold turbot with oil and capers.'
'Your man had better stick to buttered eggs, in my opinion.'
'No, I'll be hanged if I think he's equal to a bowl of porridge.'
'Careme might have confessed to the same!'
'With this difference,' cried Jorian in a heat, 'that he would never have
allowed the thought of any of your barbarous messes to occur to a man at
table. Let me tell you, Roy, you astonish me: up till now I have never
known you guilty of the bad taste of defending a bad dish on your own
'Then you will the more readily pardon me, Jorian.'
'Oh, I pardon you,' Jorian sneered, tripped to the carpet by such ignoble
mildness. 'A breakfast is no great loss.'
My father assured him he would have a serious conversation with Alphonse,
for whom he apologized by saying that Alphonse had not, to his knowledge,
served as hospital cook anywhere, and was therefore quite possibly not
sufficiently solicitous for appetites and digestions of invalids.
Jorian threw back his head as though to discharge a spiteful sarcasm with
good aim; but turning to me, said, 'Harry, the thing must be done; your
father must marry. Notoriety is the season for a pick and choice of the
wealthiest and the loveliest. I refuse to act the part of warming-pan
any longer; I refuse point blank. It's not a personal feeling on my
part; my advice is that of a disinterested friend, and I tell you
candidly, Roy, set aside the absurd exhibition of my dancing attendance
on that last rose of Guildhall,--egad, the alderman went like Summer, and
left us the very picture of a fruity Autumn,--I say you can't keep her
hanging on the tree of fond expectation for ever. She'll drop.'
'Catch her, Jorian; you are on guard.'
'Upwards of three hundred thousand, if a penny, Roy Richmond! Who? I?
I am not a fortune-hunter.'
'Nor am I, friend Jorian.'
'No, it 's because you're not thorough: you 'll fall between the stools.'
My father remarked that he should visit this upon Mr. Alphonse.
'You shook off that fine Welsh girl, and she was in your hand--the act of
a madman!' Jorian continued. 'You're getting older: the day will come
when you're a flat excitement. You know the first Lady Edbury spoilt one
of your best chances when you had the market. Now you're trifling with
the second. She's the head of the Light Brigade, but you might fix her
down, if she's not too much in debt. You 're not at the end of your run,
I dare say. Only, my good Roy, let me tell you, in life you mustn't wait
for the prize of the race till you touch the goal--if you prefer
metaphor. You generally come forward about every seven years or so.
Add on another seven, and women'll begin to think. You can't beat Time,
'So,' said my father, 'I touch the goal, and women begin to think, and I
can't beat time to them. Jorian, your mind is in a state of confusion.
I do not marry.'
'Then, Roy Richmond, hear what a friend says . . .'
'I do not marry, Jorian, and you know my reasons.'
'They are a part of my life.'
'Just as I remarked, you are not thorough. You have genius and courage
out of proportion, and you are a dead failure, Roy; because, no sooner
have you got all Covent Garden before you for the fourth or fifth time,
than in go your hands into your pockets, and you say--No, there's an
apple I can't have, so I'll none of these; and, by the way, the apple
must be tolerably withered by this time. And you know perfectly well
(for you don't lack common sense at a shaking, Roy Richmond), that you're
guilty of simple madness in refusing to make the best of your situation.
You haven't to be taught what money means. With money--and a wife to
take care of it, mind you--you are pre-eminently the man for which you
want to be recognized. Without it--Harry 'll excuse me, I must speak
plainly--you're a sort of a spectacle of a bob-cherry, down on your luck,
up on your luck, and getting dead stale and never bitten; a familiar
Jorian added, 'Oh, by Jove! it's not nice to think of.' My father said:
'Harry, I am sure, will excuse you for talking, in your extreme
friendliness, of matters that he and I have not--and they interest us
deeply--yet thought fit to discuss. And you may take my word for it,
Jorian, that I will give Alphonse his medical dose. I am quite of your
opinion that the kings of cooks require it occasionally. Harry will
inform us of Mdlle. Chassediane's commands.'
The contents of the letter permitted me to read it aloud. She desired to
know how she could be amused on the Sunday.
'We will undertake it,' said my father. 'I depute the arrangements to
you, Jorian. Respect the prejudices, and avoid collisions, that is all.'
Captain DeWitt became by convenient stages cheerful, after the pink slip
of paper had been made common property, and from a seriously-advising
friend, in his state of spite, relapsed to the idle and shadow-like
associate, when pleased. I had to thank him for the gift of fresh
perceptions. Surely it would be as well if my father could get a woman
of fortune to take care of him!
We had at my request a consultation with Dettermain and Newson on the eve
of the journey to Riversley, Temple and Jorian DeWitt assisting. Strange
documentary evidence was unfolded and compared with the date of a royal
decree: affidavits of persons now dead; a ring, the ring; fans, and lace,
and handkerchiefs with notable initials; jewelry stamped 'To the Divine
Anastasia' from an adoring Christian name: old brown letters that
shrieked 'wife' when 'charmer' seemed to have palled; oaths of fidelity
ran through them like bass notes. Jorian held up the discoloured sheets
of ancient paper saying:
'Here you behold the mummy of the villain Love.' Such love as it was--the
love of the privileged butcher for the lamb. The burden of the letters,
put in epigram, was rattlesnake and bird. A narrative of Anastasia's
sister, Elizabeth, signed and sealed, with names of witnesses appended,
related in brief bald English the history of the events which had killed
her. It warmed pathetically when dwelling on the writer's necessity to
part with letters and papers of greater moment, that she might be enabled
to sustain and educate her sister's child. She named the certificate;
she swore to the tampering with witnesses. The number and exact
indication of the house where the ceremony took place was stated--a house
in Soho;--the date was given, and the incident on that night of the rape
of the beautiful Miss Armett by mad Lord Beaumaris at the theatre doors,
aided by masked ruffians, after Anastasia's performance of Zamira.
'There are witnesses I know to be still living, Mr. Temple,' my father
said, seeing the young student-at-law silent and observant. 'One of them
I have under my hand; I feed him. Listen to this.'
He read two or three insufferable sentences from one of the love-
epistles, and broke down. I was ushered aside by a member of the firm to
inspect an instrument prepared to bind me as surety for the costs of the
appeal. I signed it. We quitted the attorney's office convinced
(I speak of Temple and myself) that we had seen the shadow of something.
MY FATHER'S MEETING WITH MY GRANDFATHER
My father's pleasure on the day of our journey to Bulsted was to drive me
out of London on a lofty open chariot, with which he made the circuit of
the fashionable districts, and caused innumerable heads to turn. I would
have preferred to go the way of other men, to be unnoticed, but I was
subject to an occasional glowing of undefined satisfaction in the
observance of the universally acknowledged harmony existing between his
pretensions, his tastes and habits, and his person. He contrived by I
know not what persuasiveness and simplicity of manner and speech to
banish from me the idea that he was engaged in playing a high stake; and
though I knew it, and he more than once admitted it, there was an ease
and mastery about him that afforded me some degree of positive comfort
still. I was still most securely attached to his fortunes. Supposing
the ghost of dead Hector to have hung over his body when the inflamed son
of Peleus whirled him at his chariot wheels round Troy, he would, with
his natural passions sobered by Erebus, have had some of my reflections
upon force and fate, and my partial sense of exhilaration in the
tremendous speed of the course during the whole of the period my father
termed his Grand Parade. I showed just such acquiescence or resistance
as were superinduced by the variations of the ground. Otherwise I was
spell-bound; and beyond interdicting any further public mention of my
name or the princess's, I did nothing to thwart him. It would have been
no light matter.
We struck a station at a point half-way down to Bulsted, and found little
Kiomi there, thunder in her brows, carrying a bundle, and purchasing a
railway-ticket, not to travel in our direction. She gave me the singular
answer that she could not tell me where her people were; nor would she
tell me whither she was going, alone, and by rail. I chanced to speak of
Heriot. One of her sheet-lightning flashes shot out. 'He won't be at
Bulsted,' she said, as if that had a significance. I let her know we
were invited to Bulsted. 'Oh, she 's at home'; Kiomi blinked, and her
features twitched like whip-cord. I saw that she was possessed by one of
her furies. That girl's face had the art of making me forget beautiful
women, and what beauty was by comparison.
It happened that the squire came across us as we were rounding the slope
of larch and fir plantation near a part of the Riversley hollows, leading
to the upper heath-land, where, behind a semicircle of birches, Bulsted
lay. He was on horseback, and called hoarsely to the captain's coachman,
who was driving us, to pull up. 'Here, Harry,' he sang out to me, in the
same rough voice, 'I don't see why we should bother Captain William.
It's a bit of business, not pleasure. I've got the book in my pocket.
You ask--is it convenient to step into my bailiff's cottage hard by, and
run through it? Ten minutes 'll tell me all I want to know. I want it
done with. Ask.'
My father stood up and bowed, bareheaded.
My grandfather struck his hat and bobbed.
'Mr. Beltham, I trust I see you well.'
'Better, sir, when I've got rid of a damned unpleasant bit o' business.'
'I offer you my hearty assistance.'
'Do you? Then step down and come into my bailiff's.'
'I come, sir.'
My father alighted from the carriage. The squire cast his gouty leg to
be quit of his horse, but not in time to check my father's advances and
ejaculations of condolence.
'Gout, Mr. Beltham, is a little too much a proof to us of a long line of
His hand and arm were raised in the form of a splint to support the
squire, who glared back over his cheekbone, horrified that he could not
escape the contact, and in too great pain from arthritic throes to
protest: he resembled a burglar surprised by justice. 'What infernal
nonsense . . , fellow talking now?' I heard him mutter between his
hoppings and dancings, with one foot in the stirrup and a toe to earth,
the enemy at his heel, and his inclination half bent upon swinging to the
I went to relieve him. 'Damn! . . . Oh, it's you,' said he.
The squire directed Uberly, acting as his groom, to walk his horse up and
down the turf fronting young Tom Eckerthy's cottage, and me to remain
where I was; then hobbled up to the door, followed at a leisurely march
by my father. The door opened. My father swept the old man in before
him, with a bow and flourish that admitted of no contradiction, and the
door closed on them. I caught a glimpse of Uberly screwing his wrinkles
in a queer grimace, while he worked his left eye and thumb expressively
at the cottage, by way of communicating his mind to Samuel, Captain
Bulsted's coachman; and I became quite of his opinion as to the nature of
the meeting, that it was comical and not likely to lead to much. I
thought of the princess and of my hope of her depending upon such an
interview as this. From that hour when I stepped on the sands of the
Continent to the day of my quitting them, I had been folded in a dream:
I had stretched my hands to the highest things of earth, and here now was
the retributive material money-question, like a keen scythe-blade!
The cottage-door continued shut. The heaths were darkening. I heard a
noise of wheels, and presently the unmistakable voice of Janet saying,
'That must be Harry.' She was driving my aunt Dorothy. Both of them
hushed at hearing that the momentous duel was in progress. Janet's first
thought was of the squire. 'I won't have him ride home in the dark,'
she said, and ordered Uberly to walk the horse home. The ladies had a
ladies' altercation before Janet would permit my aunt to yield her place
and proceed on foot, accompanied by me. Naturally the best driver of the
two kept the whip. I told Samuel to go on to Bulsted, with word that we
were coming: and Janet, nodding bluntly, agreed to direct my father as to
where he might expect to find me on the Riversley road. My aunt Dorothy
and I went ahead slowly: at her request I struck a pathway to avoid the
pony-carriage, which was soon audible; and when Janet, chattering to the
squire, had gone by, we turned back to intercept my father. He was
speechless at the sight of Dorothy Beltham. At his solicitation, she
consented to meet him next day; his account of the result of the
interview was unintelligible to her as well as to me. Even after leaving
her at the park-gates, I could get nothing definite from him, save that
all was well, and that the squire was eminently practical; but he
believed he had done an excellent evening's work. 'Yes,' said he,
rubbing his hands, 'excellent! making due allowances for the
emphatically commoner's mind we have to deal with.' And then to change
the subject he dilated on that strange story of the man who, an enormous
number of years back in the date of the world's history, carried his
little son on his shoulders one night when the winds were not so
boisterous, though we were deeper in Winter, along the identical road we
traversed, between the gorsemounds, across the heaths, with yonder
remembered fir-tree clump in sight and the waste-water visible to
footfarers rounding under the firs. At night-time he vowed, that as far
as nature permitted it, he had satisfied the squire--'completely
satisfied him, I mean,' he said, to give me sound sleep. 'No doubt of
it; no doubt of it, Richie.'
He won Julia's heart straight off, and Captain Bulsted's profound
admiration. 'Now I know the man I've always been adoring since you were
so high, Harry,' said she. Captain Bulsted sighed: 'Your husband bows to
your high good taste, my dear.' They relished him sincerely, and between
them and him I suffered myself to be dandled once more into a state of
credulity, until I saw my aunt Dorothy in the afternoon subsequent to the
appointed meeting. His deep respect and esteem for her had stayed him
from answering any of her questions falsely. To that extent he had been
veracious. It appeared, that driven hard by the squire, who would have
no waving of flags and lighting of fireworks in a matter of business, and
whose 'commoner's mind' chafed sturdily at a hint of the necessity for
lavish outlays where there was a princess to win, he had rallied on the
fiction that many of the cheques, standing for the bulk of the sums
expended, were moneys borrowed by him of me, which he designed to repay,
and was prepared to repay instantly--could in fact, the squire demanding
it, repay, as it were, on the spot; for behold, these borrowed moneys
were not spent; they were moneys invested in undertakings, put out to
high rates of interest; moneys that perhaps it would not be adviseable to
call in without a season of delay; still, if Mr. Beltham, acting for his
grandson and heir, insisted, it should be done. The moneys had been
borrowed purely to invest them with profit on my behalf: a gentleman's
word of honour was pledged to it.
The squire grimly gave him a couple of months to make it good.
Dorothy Beltham and my father were together for about an hour at
Eckerthy's farm. She let my father kiss her hand when he was bending to
take his farewell of her, but held her face away. He was in manifest
distress, hardly master of his voice, begged me to come to him soon, and
bowing, with 'God bless you, madam, my friend on earth!' turned his heel,
bearing his elastic frame lamentably. A sad or a culprit air did not
befit him: one reckoned up his foibles and errors when seeing him under a
partly beaten aspect. At least, I did; not my dear aunt, who was
compassionate of him, however thoroughly she condemned his ruinous
extravagance, and the shifts and evasions it put him to. She feared,
that instead of mending the difficulty, he had postponed merely to
exaggerate it in the squire's mind; and she was now of opinion that the
bringing him down to meet the squire was very bad policy, likely to
result in danger to my happiness; for, if the money should not be
forthcoming on the date named, all my father's faults would be
transferred to me as his accomplice, both in the original wastefulness
and the subterfuges invented to conceal it. I recollected that a sum of
money had really been sunk in Prince Ernest's coal-mine. My aunt said
she hoped for the best.
Mounting the heaths, we looked back on the long yellow road, where the
carriage conveying my father to the railway-station was visible, and
talked of him, and of the elements of antique tragedy in his history,
which were at that period, let me say, precisely what my incessant mental
efforts were strained to expel from the idea of our human life. The
individual's freedom was my tenet of faith; but pity pleaded for him that
he was well-nigh irresponsible, was shamefully sinned against at his
birth, one who could charge the Gods with vindictiveness, and complain of
the persecution of natal Furies. My aunt Dorothy advised me to take him
under my charge, and sell his house and furniture, make him live in
bachelor chambers with his faithful waiting-woman and a single
'He will want money even to do that,' I remarked.
She murmured, 'Is there not some annual income paid to him?'
Her quick delicacy made her redden in alluding so closely to his personal
affairs, and I loved her for the nice feeling. 'It was not much,' I
said. The miserable attempt to repair the wrongs done to him with this
small annuity angered me--and I remembered, little pleased, the foolish
expectations he founded on this secret acknowledgement of the justice of
his claims. 'We won't talk of it,' I pursued. 'I wish he had never
touched it. I shall interdict him.'
'You would let him pay his debts with it, Harry?'
'I am not sure, aunty, that he does not incur a greater debt by accepting
'One's wish would be, that he might not ever be in need of it.'
'Ay, or never be caring to find the key of it.'
'That must be waste of time,' she said.
I meant something else, but it was useless to tell her so.
COMMENCEMENT OF THE SPLENDOURS AND PERPLEXITIES OF MY FATHER'S
Janet, in reply to our inquiries as to the condition of the squire's
temper, pointed out in the newspaper a notification of a grand public
Ball to be given by my father, the first of a series of three, and said
that the squire had seen it and shrugged. She thought there was no
positive cause for alarm, even though my father should fail of his word;
but expressed her view decidedly, that it was an unfortunate move to
bring him between the squire and me, and so she blamed Captain Bulsted.
This was partly for the reason that the captain and his wife, charmed by
my father, were for advocating his merits at the squire's table: our
ingenuity was ludicrously taxed to mystify him on the subject of their
extravagant eulogies. They told him they had been invited, and were
going to the great London Balls.
'Subscription Balls?' asked the squire.
'No, sir,' rejoined the captain.
'Tradesmen's Balls, d' ye call 'em, then?'
'No, sir; they are Balls given by a distinguished gentleman.'
'Take care it's not another name for tradesmen's Balls, William.'
'I do not attend tradesmen's Balls, sir.'
'Take care o' that, William.'
The captain was very angry. 'What,' said he, turning to us, 'what does
the squire mean by telling an officer of the Royal Navy that he is
conducting his wife to a tradesmen's Ball?'
Julia threatened malicious doings for the insult. She and the squire had
a controversy upon the explication of the word gentleman, she describing
my father's appearance and manners to the life. 'Now listen to me,
squire. A gentleman, I say, is one you'd say, if he wasn't born a duke,
he ought to have been, and more shame to the title! He turns the key of
a lady's heart with a twinkle of his eye. He 's never mean--what he has
is yours. He's a true friend; and if he doesn't keep his word, you know
in a jiffy it's the fault of affairs; and stands about five feet eleven:
he's a full-blown man': and so forth.
The squire listened, and perspired at finding the object of his
abhorrence crowned thus in the unassailable realms of the abstract.
Julia might have done it more elegantly; but her husband was rapturous
over her skill in portraiture, and he added: 'That's a gentleman, squire;
and that 's a man pretty sure to be abused by half the world.'
'Three-quarters, William,' said the squire; 'there's about the
computation for your gentleman's creditors, I suspect.'
'Ay, sir; well,' returned the captain, to whom this kind of fencing in
the dark was an affliction, 'we make it up in quality--in quality.'
'I 'll be bound you do,' said the squire; 'and so you will so long as
you 're only asked to dance to the other poor devils' fiddling.'
Captain Bulsted bowed. 'The last word to you, squire.'
The squire nodded. 'I 'll hand it to your wife, William.'
Julia took it graciously. 'A perfect gentleman! perfect! confound his
'Why, ma'am, you might keep from swearing,' the squire bawled.
'La! squire,' said she, 'why, don't you know the National Anthem?'
'National Anthem, ma'am! and a fellow, a velvet-tongued--confound him,
if you like.'
'And where's my last word, if you please?' Julia jumped up, and dropped a
'You silly old grandada!' said Janet, going round to him; 'don't you see
the cunning woman wants to dress you in our garments, and means to boast
of it to us while you're finishing your wine?'
The old man fondled her. I could have done the same, she bent over him
with such homely sweetness. 'One comfort, you won't go to these
gingerbread Balls,' he said.
'I'm not invited,' she moaned comically.
'No; nor shan't be, while I can keep you out of bad company.'
'But, grandada, I do like dancing.
'Dance away, my dear; I've no objection.'
'But where's the music?'
'Oh, you can always have music.'
'But where are my partners?'
The squire pointed at me.
'You don't want more than one at a time, eh?' He corrected his error:
'No, the fellow's engaged in another quadrille. Mind you, Miss Janet,
he shall dance to your tune yet. D' ye hear, sir?' The irritation
excited by Captain Bulsted and Julia broke out in fury. 'Who's that
fellow danced when Rome was burning?'
'The Emperor Nero,' said Janet. 'He killed Harry's friend Seneca in the
eighty-somethingth year of his age; an old man, and--hush, grandada!'
She could not check him.
'Hark you, Mr. Harry; dance your hardest up in town with your rips and
reps, and the lot of ye; all very fine while the burning goes on: you
won't see the fun of dancing on the ashes. A nice king of Rome Nero was
next morning! By the Lord, if I couldn't swear you'll be down on your
knees to an innocent fresh-hearted girl 's worth five hundred of the crew
you're for partnering now while you've a penny for the piper.'
Janet shut his mouth, kissed him, and held his wine up. He drank, and
thumped the table. 'We 'll have parties here, too. The girl shall have
her choice of partners: she shan't be kept in the background by a young
donkey. Take any six of your own age, and six sensible men, to try you
by your chances. By George, the whole dozen 'd bring you in non-compos.
You've only got the women on your side because of a smart face and
Janet exclaimed indignantly, 'Grandada, I'm offended with you'; and
walked out on a high step.
'Come, if he has the women on his side,' said Captain Bulsted, mildly.
'He'll be able to go partnering and gallopading as long as his banker 'll
let him, William--like your gentleman! That's true. We shall soon see.'
'I leave my character in your hands, sir,' said I, rising. 'If you would
scold me in private, I should prefer it, on behalf of your guests; but I
am bound to submit to your pleasure, and under any circumstances I
remember, what you appear to forget, that you are my grandfather.'
So saying, I followed the ladies. It was not the wisest of speeches, and
happened, Captain Bulsted informed me, to be delivered in my father's
manner, for the squire pronounced emphatically that he saw very little
Beltham in me. The right course would have been for me to ask him then
and there whether I had his consent to start for Germany. But I was the
sport of resentments and apprehensions; and, indeed, I should not have
gone. I could not go without some title beyond that of the heir of great
Janet kept out of my sight. I found myself strangely anxious to console
her: less sympathetic, perhaps, than desirous to pour out my sympathy in
her ear, which was of a very pretty shape, with a soft unpierced lobe.
We danced together at the Riversley Ball, given by the squire on the
night of my father's Ball in London. Janet complimented me upon having
attained wisdom. 'Now we get on well,' she said. 'Grandada only wants
to see us friendly, and feel that I am not neglected.'
The old man, a martyr to what he considered due to his favourite, endured
the horror of the Ball until suppertime, and kept his eyes on us two. He
forgot, or pretended to forget, my foreign engagement altogether, though
the announcement in the newspapers was spoken of by Sir Roderick and Lady
Echester and others.
'How do you like that?' he remarked to me, seeing her twirled away by one
of the young Rubreys.
'She seems to like it, sir,' I replied.
'Like it!' said he. 'In my day you wouldn't have caught me letting the
bloom be taken off the girl I cared for by a parcel o' scampish young
dogs. Right in their arms! Look at her build. She's strong; she's
healthy; she goes round like a tower. If you want a girl to look like a
His eulogies were not undeserved. But she danced as lightly and happily
with Mr. Fred Rubrey as with Harry Richmond. I congratulated myself on
her lack of sentiment. Later, when in London, where Mlle. Jenny
Chassediane challenged me to perilous sarabandes, I wished that Janet had
ever so small a grain of sentiment, for a preservative to me. Ottilia
glowed high and distant; she sent me no message; her image did not step
between me and disorder. The whole structure of my idea of my superior
nature seemed to be crumbling to fragments; and beginning to feel in
despair that I was wretchedly like other men, I lost by degrees the sense
of my hold on her. It struck me that my worst fears of the effect
produced on the princess's mind by that last scene in the lake-palace
must be true, and I abandoned hope. Temple thought she tried me too
cruelly. Under these circumstances I became less and less resolutely
disposed to renew the forlorn conflict with my father concerning his
prodigal way of living. 'Let it last as long as I have a penny to
support him!' I exclaimed. He said that Dettermain and Newson were now
urging on his case with the utmost despatch in order to keep pace with
him, but that the case relied for its life on his preserving a great
appearance. He handed me his division of our twin cheque-books, telling
me he preferred to depend on his son for supplies, and I was in the mood
to think this a partial security.
'But you can take what there is,' I said.
'On the contrary, I will accept nothing but minor sums--so to speak, the
fractional shillings; though I confess I am always bewildered by silver,'
I questioned him upon his means of carrying on his expenditure. His
answer was to refer to the pavement of the city of London. By paving
here and there he had, he informed me, made a concrete for the wheels to
roll on. He calculated that he now had credit for the space of three new
years--ample time for him to fight his fight and win his victory.
'My tradesmen are not like the tradesmen of other persons,' he broke out
with a curious neigh of supreme satisfaction in that retinue. 'They
believe in me. I have de facto harnessed them to my fortunes; and if you
doubt me on the point of success, I refer you to Dettermain and Newson.
All I stipulate for is to maintain my position in society to throw a
lustre on my Case. So much I must do. My failures hitherto have been
entirely owing to the fact that I had not my son to stand by me.'
'Then you must have money, sir.'
'Then what can you mean by refusing mine?'
'I admit the necessity for it, my son. Say you hand me a cheque for a
temporary thousand. Your credit and mine in conjunction can replace it
before the expiration of the two months. Or,' he meditated, 'it might be
better to give a bond or so to a professional lender, and preserve the
account at your bankers intact. The truth is, I have, in my interview
with the squire, drawn in advance upon the, material success I have a
perfect justification to anticipate, and I cannot allow the old gentleman
to suppose that I retrench for the purpose of giving a large array of
figures to your bankers' book. It would be sheer madness. I cannot do
it. I cannot afford to do it. When you are on a runaway horse, I prefer
to say a racehorse,--Richie, you must ride him. You dare not throw up
the reins. Only last night Wedderburn, appealing to Loftus, a practical
sailor, was approved when he offered--I forget the subject-matter--the
illustration of a ship on a lee-shore; you are lost if you do not spread
every inch of canvas to the gale. Retrenchment at this particular moment
is perdition. Count our gains, Richie. We have won a princess . . .'
I called to him not to name her.