Part 9 out of 12
He persisted: 'Half a minute. She is won; she is ours. And let me, in
passing,--bear with me one second--counsel you to write to Prince Ernest
instanter, proposing formally for his daughter, and, in your
grandfather's name, state her dowry at fifty thousand per annum.'
'Oh, you forget!' I interjected.
'No, Richie, I do not forget that you are off a leeshore; you are mounted
on a skittish racehorse, with, if you like, a New Forest fly operating
within an inch of his belly-girths. Our situation is so far ticklish,
and prompts invention and audacity.'
'You must forget, sir, that in the present state of the squire's mind, I
should be simply lying in writing to the prince that he offers a dowry.'
'No, for your grandfather has yielded consent.'
'By implication, you know he withdraws it.'
'But if I satisfy him that you have not been extravagant?'
'I must wait till he is satisfied.'
'The thing is done, Richie, done. I see it in advance--it is done!
Whatever befalls me, you, my dear boy, in the space of two months, may
grasp--your fortune. Besides, here is my hand. I swear by it, my son,
that I shall satisfy the squire. I go farther; I say I shall have the
means to refund to you--the means, the money. The marriage is announced
in our prints for the Summer--say early June. And I undertake that you,
the husband of the princess, shall be the first gentleman in England--
that is, Europe. Oh! not ruling a coterie: not dazzling the world with
entertainments.' He thought himself in earnest when he said, 'I attach no
mighty importance to these things, though there is no harm I can perceive
in leading the fashion--none that I see in having a consummate style.
I know your taste, and hers, Richie, the noble lady's. She shall govern
the intellectual world--your poets, your painters, your men of science.
They reflect a beautiful sovereign mistress more exquisitely than almost
aristocracy does. But you head our aristocracy also. You are a centre
of the political world. So I scheme it. Between you, I defy the Court
to rival you. This I call distinction. It is no mean aim, by heaven!
I protest, it is an aim with the mark in sight, and not out of range.'
He whipped himself up to one of his oratorical frenzies, of which a
cheque was the common fruit. The power of his persuasiveness in speech,
backed by the spectacle of his social accomplishments, continued to
subdue me, and I protested only inwardly even when I knew that he was
gambling with fortune. I wrote out many cheques, and still it appeared
to me that they were barely sufficient to meet the current expenses of
his household. Temple and I calculated that his Grand Parade would try
the income of a duke, and could but be a matter of months. Mention of it
reached Riversley from various quarters, from Lady Maria Higginson, from
Captain Bulsted and his wife, and from Sir Roderick Ilchester, who said
to me, with fine accentuation, 'I have met your father.' Sir Roderick,
an Englishman reputed of good breeding, informed the son that he had
actually met the father in lofty society, at Viscountess Sedley's, at
Lady Dolchester's, at Bramham DeWitt's, and heard of him as a frequenter
of the Prussian and Austrian Embassy entertainments; and also that he was
admitted to the exclusive dinner-parties of the Countess de Strode,
'which are,' he observed, in the moderated tone of an astonishment
devoting itself to propagation, 'the cream of society.' Indubitably,
then, my father was an impostor: more Society proved it. The squire
listened like one pelted by a storm, sure of his day to come at the
close of the two months. I gained his commendation by shunning the
metropolitan Balls, nor did my father press me to appear at them. It was
tacitly understood between us that I should now and then support him at
his dinner-table, and pass bowing among the most select of his great
ladies. And this I did, and I felt at home with them, though I had to
bear with roughnesses from one or two of the more venerable dames, which
were not quite proper to good breeding. Old Lady Kane, great-aunt of the
Marquis of Edbury, was particularly my tormentor, through her plain-
spoken comments on my father's legal suit; for I had to listen to her
without wincing, and agree in her general contempt of the Georges, and
foil her queries coolly, when I should have liked to perform Jorian
DeWitt's expressed wish to 'squeeze the acid out of her in one grip, and
toss her to the Gods that collect exhausted lemons.' She took
extraordinary liberties with me.
'Why not marry an Englishwoman? Rich young men ought to choose wives
from their own people, out of their own sets. Foreign women never get on
well in this country, unless they join the hounds to hunt the husband.'
She cited naturalized ladies famous for the pastime. Her world and its
outskirts she knew thoroughly, even to the fact of my grandfather's
desire that I should marry Janet Ilchester. She named a duke's daughter,
an earl's. Of course I should have to stop the scandal: otherwise the
choice I had was unrestricted. My father she evidently disliked, but she
just as much disliked an encounter with his invincible bonhomie and
dexterous tongue. She hinted at family reasons for being shy of him,
assuring me that I was not implicated in them.
'The Guelph pattern was never much to my taste,' she said, and it
consoled me with the thought that he was not ranked as an adventurer in
the houses he entered. I learned that he was supposed to depend chiefly
on my vast resources. Edbury acted the part of informant to the
inquisitive harridan: 'Her poor dear good-for-nothing Edbury! whose only
cure would be a nice, well-conducted girl, an heiress.' She had cast her
eye on Anna Penrhys, but considered her antecedents doubtful. Spotless
innocence was the sole receipt for Edbury's malady. My father, in a fit
of bold irony, proposed Lady Kane for President of his Tattle and Scandal
Club,--a club of ladies dotted with select gentlemen, the idea of which
Jorian DeWitt claimed the merit of starting, and my father surrendered it
to him, with the reservation, that Jorian intended an association of
backbiters pledged to reveal all they knew, whereas the Club, in its
present form, was an engine of morality and decency, and a social
safeguard, as well as an amusement. It comprised a Committee of
Investigation, and a Court of Appeal; its object was to arraign slander.
Lady Kane declined the honour. 'I am not a washerwoman,' she said to me,
and spoke of where dirty linen should be washed, and was distressingly
broad in her innuendoes concerning Edbury's stepmother. This Club sat
and became a terror for a month, adding something to my father's
reputation. His inexhaustible conversational art and humour gave it such
vitality as it had. Ladies of any age might apply for admission when
well seconded: gentlemen under forty-five years were rigidly excluded,
and the seniors must also have passed through the marriage ceremony.
Outside tattle and scandal declared, that the Club was originated to
serve as a club for Lady Edbury, but I chose to have no opinion upon what
I knew nothing of.
These matters were all ephemeral, and freaks; they produced, however,
somewhat of the same effect on me as on my father, in persuading me that
he was born for the sphere he occupied, and rendering me rather callous
as to the sources of ways and means. I put my name to a bond for several
thousand pounds, in conjunction with Lord Edbury, thinking my father
right in wishing to keep my cheque-book unworried, lest the squire should
be seized with a spasm of curiosity before the two months were over.
'I promise you I surprise him,' my father said repeatedly. He did not
say how: I had the suspicion that he did not know. His confidence and my
growing recklessness acted in unison.
Happily the newspapers were quiet. I hoped consequently to find peace
at Riversley; but there the rumours of the Grand Parade were fabulous,
thanks to Captain Bulsted and Julia, among others. These two again
provoked an outbreak of rage from the squire, and I, after hearing them,
was almost disposed to side with him; they suggested an inexplicable
magnificence, and created an image of a man portentously endowed with the
capacity to throw dust in the eyes. No description of the Balls could
have furnished me with such an insight of their brilliancy as the
consuming ardour they awakened in the captain and his wife. He reviewed
them: 'Princely entertainments! Arabian Nights!'
She built them up piecemeal: 'The company! the dresses! the band! the
supper!' The host was a personage supernatural. 'Aladdin's magician, if
you like,' said Julia, 'only-good! A perfect gentleman! and I'll say
again, confound his enemies.' She presumed, as she was aware she might
do, upon the squire's prepossession in her favour, without reckoning that
I was always the victim.
'Heard o' that new story 'bout a Dauphin?' he asked.
'A Dauphin?' quoth Captain Bulsted. 'I don't know the fish.'
'You've been in a pretty kettle of 'em lately, William. I heard of it
yesterday on the Bench. Lord Shale, our new Lord-Lieutenant, brought it
down. A trick they played the fellow 'bout a Dauphin. Serve him right.
You heard anything 'bout it, Harry?'
I had not.
'But I tell ye there is a Dauphin mixed up with him. A Dauphin and Mr.
'Mr. Ik Dine!' exclaimed the captain, perplexed.
'Ay, that's German lingo, William, and you ought to know it if you're a
loyal sailor--means "I serve."'
'Mr. Beltham,' said the captain, seriously, 'I give you my word of honour
as a man and a British officer, I don't understand one syllable of what
you're saying; but if it means any insinuation against the gentleman who
condescends to extend his hospitalities to my wife and me, I must, with
regret, quit the place where I have had the misfortune to hear it.'
'You stop where you are, William,' the squire motioned to him. 'Gad, I
shall have to padlock my mouth, or I shan't have a friend left soon . .
. confounded fellow. . . I tell you they call him Mr. Ik Dine in town.
Ik Dine and a Dauphin! They made a regular clown and pantaloon o' the
pair, I'm told. Couple o' pretenders to Thrones invited to dine together
and talk over their chances and show their private marks. Oho! by-and-
by, William! You and I! Never a man made such a fool of in his life!'
The ladies retired. The squire continued, in a furious whisper:
'They got the two together, William. Who are you? I'm a Dauphin; who
are you? I'm Ik Dine, bar sinister. Oh! says the other, then I take
precedence of you! Devil a bit, says the other; I've got more spots than
you. Proof, says one. You first, t' other. Count, one cries. T' other
sings out, Measles. Better than a dying Dauphin, roars t' other; and
swore both of 'm 'twas nothing but Port-wine stains and pimples. Ha!
ha! And, William, will you believe it?--the couple went round begging
the company to count spots--ha! ha! to prove their big birth! Oh, Lord,
I'd ha' paid a penny to be there! A Jack o' Bedlam Ik Dine damned
idiot!--makes name o' Richmond stink.' (Captain Bulsted shot a wild stare
round the room to make sure that the ladies had gone.) 'I tell ye,
William, I had it from Lord Shale himself only yesterday on the Bench.
He brought it to us hot from town--didn't know I knew the fellow; says
the fellow's charging and firing himself off all day and all night too-
can't make him out. Says London's mad about him: lots o' women, the
fools! Ha, ha! a Dauphin!'
'Ah, well, sir,' Captain Bulsted supplicated feverishly, rubbing his
brows and whiskers.
'It 's true, William. Fellow ought to be taken up and committed as a
common vagabond, and would be anywhere but in London. I'd jail him 'fore
you cocked your eye twice. Fellow came here and talked me over to grant
him a couple o' months to prove he hasn't swindled his son of every scrap
of his money. We shall soon see. Not many weeks to run! And pretends
--fellow swears to me--can get him into Parliament; swears he'll get him
in 'fore the two months are over! An infernal--'
'Please to recollect, sir; the old hereditary shall excuse you----'
'Gout, you mean, William? By----'
'You are speaking in the presence of his son, sir, and you are trying the
young gentleman's affection for you hard.'
'Eh? 'Cause I'm his friend? Harry,' my grandfather faced round on me,
'don't you know I 'm the friend you can trust? Hal, did I ever borrow a
farthing of you? Didn't I, the day of your majority, hand you the whole
of your inheritance from your poor broken-hearted mother, with interest,
and treat you like a man? And never played spy, never made an inquiry,
till I heard the scamp had been fastening on you like a blood-sucker, and
singing hymns into the ears of that squeamish dolt of a pipe-smoking
parson, Peterborough--never thought of doing it! Am I the man that
dragged your grandmother's name through the streets and soiled yours?'
I remarked that I was sensible of the debt of gratitude I owed to him,
but would rather submit to the scourge, or to destitution, than listen to
these attacks on my father.
'Cut yourself loose, Harry,' he cried, a trifle mollified. 'Don't season
his stew--d' ye hear? Stick to decent people. Why, you don't expect
he'll be locked up in the Tower for a finish, eh? It'll be Newgate, or
the Bench. He and his Dauphin--ha! ha! A rascal crow and a Jack
Captain Bulsted reached me his hand. 'You have a great deal to bear,
Harry. I commend you, my boy, for taking it manfully.'
'I say no more,' quoth the squire. 'But what I said was true. The
fellow gives his little dinners and suppers to his marchionesses,
countesses, duchesses, and plays clown and pantaloon among the men. He
thinks a parcel o' broidered petticoats 'll float him. So they may till
a tradesman sent stark mad pops a pin into him. Harry, I'd as lief hang
on to a fire-ship. Here's Ilchester tells me . . . and Ilchester
speaks of him under his breath now as if he were sitting in a pew funking
the parson. Confound the fellow! I say he's guilty of treason. Pooh!
who cares! He cuts out the dandies of his day, does he? He's past
sixty, if he's a month. It's all damned harlequinade. Let him twirl off
one columbine or another, or a dozen, and then--the last of him! Fellow
makes the world look like a farce. He 's got about eight feet by five to
caper on, and all London gaping at him--geese! Are you a gentleman and a
man of sense, Harry Richmond, to let yourself be lugged about in public--
by the Lord! like a pair of street-tumblers in spangled haunch-bags,
father and boy, on a patch of carpet, and a drum banging, and tossed and
turned inside out, and my God! the ass of a fellow strutting the ring
with you on his shoulder! That's the spectacle. And you, Harry, now
I 'll ask you, do you mean your wife--egad, it'd be a pretty scene, with
your princess in hip-up petticoats, stiff as bottle-funnel top down'ards,
airing a whole leg, and knuckling a tambourine!'
'Not crying, my dear lad?' Captain Bulsted put his arm round me kindly,
and tried to catch a glimpse of my face. I let him see I was not going
through that process. 'Whew!' said he, 'and enough to make any Christian
sweat! You're in a bath, Harry. I wouldn't expect the man who murdered
his godmother for one shilling and fivepence three-farthings the other
day, to take such a slinging, and think he deserved it.'
My power of endurance had reached its limit.
'You tell me, sir, you had this brutal story from the Lord-Lieutenant of
'Ay, from Lord Shale. But I won't have you going to him and betraying
our connection with a--'
'Halloo !' Captain Bulsted sang out to his wife on the lawn. 'And now,
squire, I have had my dose. And you will permit me to observe, that I
find it emphatically what we used to call at school black-jack.'
'And you were all the better for it afterwards, William.'
'We did not arrive at that opinion, sir. Harry, your arm. An hour with
the ladies will do us both good. The squire,' he murmured, wiping his
forehead as he went out, 'has a knack of bringing us into close proximity
with hell-fire when he pleases.'
Julia screamed on beholding us, 'Aren't you two men as pale as death!'
Janet came and looked. 'Merely a dose,' said the captain. 'We are
anxious to play battledore and shuttlecock madly.'
'So he shall, the dear!' Julia caressed him. 'We'll all have a
tournament in the wet-weather shed.'
Janet whispered to me, 'Was it--the Returning Thanks?'
'The what?' said I, with the dread at my heart of something worse than I
She hailed Julia to run and fetch the battledores, and then told me she
had been obliged to confiscate the newspapers that morning and cast the
burden on post-office negligence. 'They reach grandada's hands by
afternoon post, Harry, and he finds objectionable passages blotted or cut
out; and as long as the scissors don't touch the business columns and the
debates, he never asks me what I have been doing. He thinks I keep a
scrap-book. I haven't often time in the morning to run an eye all over
the paper. This morning it was the first thing I saw.'
What had she seen? She led me out of view of the windows and showed me.
My father was accused of having stood up at a public dinner and returned
thanks on behalf of an Estate of the Realm: it read monstrously. I
ceased to think of the suffering inflicted on me by my grandfather.
Janet and I, side by side with the captain and Julia, carried on the game
of battledore and shuttlecock, in a match to see whether the unmarried
could keep the shuttle flying as long as the married, with varying
fortunes. She gazed on me, to give me the comfort of her sympathy, too
much, and I was too intent on the vision of my father either persecuted
by lies or guilty of hideous follies, to allow the match to be a fair
one. So Julia could inform the squire that she and William had given the
unmarried pair a handsome beating, when he appeared peeping round one of
'Of course you beat 'em,' said the squire. 'It 's not my girl's fault.'
He said more, to the old tune, which drove Janet away.
I remembered, when back in the London vortex, the curious soft beauty she
won from casting up her eyes to watch the descending feathers, and the
brilliant direct beam of those thick-browed, firm, clear eyes, with her
frown, and her set lips and brave figure, when she was in the act of
striking to keep up a regular quick fusilade. I had need of calm
memories. The town was astir, and humming with one name.
THE MARQUIS OF EDBURY AND HIS PUPPET
I passed from man to man, hearing hints and hesitations, alarming half-
remarks, presumed to be addressed to one who could supply the remainder,
and deduce consequences. There was a clearer atmosphere in the street of
Clubs. Jennings was the first of my father's more intimate acquaintances
to meet me frankly. He spoke, though not with great seriousness, of the
rumour of a possible prosecution. Sir Weeton Slater tripped up to us
with a mixed air of solicitude and restraint, asked whether I was well,
and whether I had seen the newspapers that morning; and on my informing
him that I had just come up from Riversley, on account of certain
rumours, advised me to remain in town strictly for the present. He also
hinted at rumours of prosecutions. 'The fact is----' he began several
times, rendered discreet, I suppose, by my juvenility, fierte, and
We were joined by Admiral Loftus and Lord Alton. They queried and
counterqueried as to passages between my father and the newspapers, my
father and the committee of his Club, preserving sufficient consideration
for me to avoid the serious matter in all but distant allusions; a point
upon which the breeding of Mr. Serjeant Wedderburn was not so accurate a
guide to him. An exciting public scandal soon gathers knots of gossips
in Clubland. We saw Wedderburn break from a group some way down the
pavement and pick up a fresh crumb of amusement at one of the doorsteps.
'Roy Richmond is having his benefit to-day!' he said, and repeated this
and that, half audible to me. For the rest, he pooh-poohed the idea of
the Law intervening. His 'How d' ye do, Mr. Richmond, how d' ye do?' was
almost congratulatory. 'I think we meet at your father's table to-night?
It won't be in the Tower, take my word for it. Oh! the papers! There's
no Act to compel a man to deny what appears in the papers. No such luck
as the Tower!--though Littlepitt (Mr. Wedderburn's nickname for our
Premier) would be fool enough for that. He would. If he could turn
attention from his Bill, he'd do it. We should have to dine off Boleyn's
block:--coquite horum obsonia he'd say, eh?''
Jennings espied my father's carriage, and stepped to speak a word to the
footman. He returned, saying, with a puff of his cheeks: 'The Grand
Monarque has been sending his state equipage to give the old backbiting
cripple Brisby an airing. He is for horse exercise to-day they've
dropped him in Courtenay Square. There goes Brisby. He'd take the good
Samaritan's shilling to buy a flask of poison for him. He 'll use Roy's
carriage to fetch and carry for that venomous old woman Kane, I'll
'She's a male in Scripture,' said Wedderburn, and this reminded me of an
anecdote that reminded him of another, and after telling them, he handed
round his hat for the laugh, as my father would have phrased it.
'Has her ladyship declared war?' Sir Weeton Slater inquired.
'No, that's not her preliminary to wageing it,' Wedderburn replied.
These high-pressure smart talkers had a moment of dulness, and he
bethought him that he must run into the Club for letters, and was busy at
Westminster, where, if anything fresh occurred between meridian and six
o'clock, he should be glad, he said, to have word of it by messenger,
that he might not be behind his Age.
The form of humour to express the speed of the world was common, but it
struck me as a terrible illustration of my father's. I had still a sense
of pleasure in the thought that these intimates of his were gentlemen who
relished and, perhaps, really liked him. They were not parasites; not
the kind of men found hanging about vulgar profligates.
I quitted them. Sir Weeton Slater walked half-a-dozen steps beside me.
'May I presume on a friendly acquaintance with your father, Mr.
Richmond?' he said. 'The fact is--you will not be offended?--he is apt
to lose his head, unless the Committee of Supply limits him very
precisely. I am aware that there is no material necessity for any
restriction.' He nodded to me as to one of the marvellously endowed, as
who should say, the Gods presided at your birth. The worthy baronet
struggled to impart his meaning, which was, that he would have me define
something like an allowance to my father, not so much for the purpose of
curtailing his expenditure--he did not venture upon private ground--as to
bridle my father's ideas of things possible for a private gentleman in
this country. In that character none were like him. As to his suit, or
appeal, he could assure me that Serjeant Wedderburn, and all who would or
could speak on the subject, saw no prospect of success; not any. The
worst of it was, that it caused my father to commit himself in sundry
ways. It gave a handle to his enemies. It--he glanced at me
I thanked the well-meaning gentleman without encouraging him to continue.
'It led him to perform once more as a Statue of Bronze before the whole
of gaping London!' I could have added. That scene on the pine-promontory
arose in my vision, followed by other scenes of the happy German days.
I had no power to conjure up the princess.
Jorian DeWitt was the man I wanted to see. After applications at his
Club and lodgings I found him dragging his Burgundy leg in the Park,
on his road to pay a morning visit to his fair French enchantress.
I impeached him, and he pleaded guilty, clearly not wishing to take me
with him, nor would he give me Mlle. Jenny's address, which I had. By
virtue of the threat that I would accompany him if he did not satisfy me,
I managed to extract the story of the Dauphin, aghast at the discovery of
its being true. The fatal after-dinner speech he believed to have been
actually spoken, and he touched on that first. 'A trap was laid for him,
Harry Richmond; and a deuced clever trap it was. They smuggled in
special reporters. There wasn't a bit of necessity for the toast.
But the old vixen has shown her hand, so now he must fight. He can beat
her single-handed on settees. He'll find her a tartar at long bowls: she
sticks at nothing. She blazes out, that he scandalizes her family. She
has a dozen indictments against him. You must stop in town and keep
watch. There's fire in my leg to explode a powder-magazine a mile off!'
'Is it the Margravine of Rippau?' I inquired. I could think of no other
waspish old woman.
'Lady Dane,' said Jorian. 'She set Edbury on to face him with the
Dauphin. You don't fancy it came of the young dog "all of himself,"
do you? Why, it was clever! He trots about a briefless little
barrister, a scribbler, devilish clever and impudent, who does his farces
for him. Tenby 's the fellow's name, and it's the only thing I haven't
heard him pun on. Puns are the smallpox of the language;--we're cursed
with an epidemic. By gad, the next time I meet him I 'll roar out for
He described the dinner given by Edbury at a celebrated City tavern where
my father and this so-called Dauphin were brought together. 'Dinner to-
night,' he nodded, as he limped away on his blissful visit of ceremony to
sprightly Chassediane (a bouquet had gone in advance): he left me
stupefied. The sense of ridicule enveloped me in suffocating folds,
howling sentences of the squire's Boeotian burlesque by fits. I felt
that I could not but take the world's part against the man who allowed
himself to be made preposterous externally, when I knew him to be staking
his frail chances and my fortune with such rashness. It was unpardonable
for one in his position to incur ridicule. Nothing but a sense of duty
kept me from rushing out of London, and I might have indulged the impulse
advantageously. Delay threw me into the clutches of Lady Kane herself,
on whom I looked with as composed a visage as I could command, while she
leaned out of her carriage chattering at me, and sometimes over my head
to passing gentlemen.
She wanted me to take a seat beside her, she had so much to say. Was
there not some funny story abroad of a Pretender to the Throne of France?
she asked, wrinkling her crow'sfeet eyelids to peer at me, and wished to
have the particulars. I had none to offer. 'Ah! well,' said she; 'you
stay in London? Come and see me. I'm sure you 're sensible. You and I
can put our heads together. He's too often in Courtenay Square, and he's
ten years too young for that, still. He ought to have good advice. Tell
me, how can a woman who can't guide herself help a man?--and the most
difficult man alive! I'm sure you understand me. I can't drive out in
the afternoon for them. They make a crush here, and a clatter of
tongues! . . . That's my private grievance. But he's now keeping
persons away who have the first social claim . . . I know they can't
appear. Don't look confused; no one accuses you. Only I do say it 's
getting terribly hot in London for somebody. Call on me. Will you?'
She named her hours. I bowed as soon as I perceived my opportunity.
Her allusions were to Lady Edbury, and to imputed usurpations of my
father's. I walked down to the Chambers where Temple was reading Law,
for a refuge from these annoyances. I was in love with the modest
shadowed life Temple lived, diligently reading, and glancing on the world
as through a dusky window, happy to let it run its course while he
sharpened his weapons. A look at Temple's face told me he had heard
quite as much as was known in the West. Dining-halls of lawyers are not
Cistercian; he was able to give me three distinct versions of the story
of the Dauphin. No one could be friendlier. Indeed Temple now urged me
forcibly to prevent my father from spending money and wearing his heart
out in vain, by stopping the case in Dettermain and Newson's hands.
They were respectable lawyers, he said, in a lawyer's ordinary tone when
including such of his species as are not black sheep. He thought it
possible that my father's personal influence overbore their judgment.
In fact, nothing bound them to refuse to work for him, and he believed
that they had submitted their views for his consideration.
'I do wish he'd throw it up,' Temple exclaimed. 'It makes him enemies.
And just examining it, you see he could get no earthly good out of it: he
might as well try to scale a perpendicular rock. But when I'm with him,
I'm ready to fancy what he pleases--I acknowledge that. He has excess of
phosphorus, or he's ultra-electrical; doctors could tell us better than
lawyers.' Temple spoke of the clever young barrister Tenby as the man
whom his father had heard laughing over the trick played upon 'Roy
Richmond.' I conceived that I might furnish Mr. Tenby a livelier kind of
amusement, and the thought that I had once been sur le terrain, and had
bitterly regretted it, by no means deterred me from the idea of a second
expedition, so black was my mood. A review of the circumstances, aided
by what reached my ears before the night went over, convinced me that
Edbury was my man. His subordinate helped him to the instrument, and
possibly to the plot, but Edbury was the capital offender.
The scene of the prank was not in itself so bad as the stuff which a
cunning anecdotist could make out of it. Edbury invited my father to a
dinner at a celebrated City tavern. He kept his guests (Jennings, Jorian
DeWitt, Alton, Wedderburn, were among the few I was acquainted with who
were present) awaiting the arrival of a person for whom he professed
extraordinary respect. The Dauphin of France was announced. A mild,
flabby, amiable-looking old person, with shelving forehead and grey
locks--excellently built for the object, Jorian said--entered. The Capet
head and embonpoint were there. As far as a personal resemblance might
go, his pretensions to be the long-lost Dauphin were grotesquely
convincing, for, notwithstanding the accurate picture of the Family
presented by him, the man was a pattern bourgeois:--a sturdy impostor,
one would have thought, and I thought so when I heard of him; but I have
been assured that he had actually grown old in the delusion that he,
carrying on his business in the City of London, was the identical
Edbury played his part by leading his poor old victim half way to meet
his other most honoured guest, hesitating then and craving counsel
whether he was right in etiquette to advance the Dauphin so far. The
Dauphin left him mildly to decide the point: he was eminently mild
throughout, and seems to have thought himself in good faith surrounded by
believers and adherents. Edbury's task soon grew too delicate for that
coarse boy. In my father's dexterous hands he at once lost his
assumption of the gallantry of manner which could alone help him to
retain his advantage. When the wine was in him he began to bawl. I
could imagine the sort of dialogue he raised. Bets on the Dauphin, bets
on Roy: they were matched as on a racecourse. The Dauphin remembered
incidents of his residence in the Temple, with a beautiful juvenile
faintness: a conscientious angling for recollection, Wedderburn said.
Roy was requested to remember something, to drink and refresh his memory
infantine incidents were suggested. He fenced the treacherous host
during dinner with superb complacency.
The Dauphin was of an immoveable composure. He 'stated simple facts: he
was the Dauphin of France, providentially rescued from the Temple in the
days of the Terror.' For this deliverance, somewhat to the consternation
of the others, he offered up a short prayer of thanksgiving over his
plate. He had, he said, encountered incredulity. He had his proofs.
He who had never been on the soil of France since early boyhood, spoke
French with a pure accent: he had the physical and moral constitution of
the Family: owing to events attending his infant days, he was timid.
Jorian imitated him:--'I start at the opening of a door; I see dark faces
in my sleep: it is a dungeon; I am at the knees of my Unfortunate Royal
Father, with my Beautiful Mother.' His French was quaint, but not absurd.
He became loquacious, apostrophizing vacancy with uplifted hand and eye.
The unwonted invitation to the society of noblemen made him conceive his
Dauphinship to be on the high road to a recognition in England, and he
was persuaded to drink and exhibit proofs: which were that he had the
constitution of the Family, as aforesaid, in every particular; that he
was peculiarly marked with testificatory spots; and that his mere aspect
inspired all members and branch members of the Family with awe and
stupefaction. One of the latter hearing of him, had appointed to meet
him in a pastrycook's shop. He met him, and left the place with a cloud
on his brow, showing tokens of respectful sympathy.
Conceive a monomaniacal obese old English citizen, given to lift hand and
eye and address the cornices, claiming to be an Illustrious Boy, and
calling on a beautiful historic mother and unfortunate Royal sire to
attest it! No wonder the table was shaken with laughter. He appealed to
Tenby constantly, as to the one man he knew in the room. Tenby it was
who made the discovery of him somewhere in the City, where he earned his
livelihood either as a corn-merchant; or a stockbroker, or a chronometer-
maker, or a drysalter, and was always willing to gratify a customer with
the sight of his proofs of identity. Mr. Tenby made it his business to
push his clamorous waggishness for the exhibition. I could readily
believe that my father was more than his match in disposable sallies and
weight of humour, and that he shielded the old creature successfully, so
long as he had a tractable being to protect. But the Dauphin was plied
with wine, and the marquis had his fun. Proof upon proof in verification
of his claims was proffered by the now-tremulous son of St. Louis--so he
called himself. With, Jorian admitted, a real courtly dignity, he stood
up and proposed to lead the way to any neighbouring cabinet to show the
spots on his person; living witnesses to the truth of his allegations,
he declared them to be. The squire had authority for his broad farce,
except in so far as he mixed up my father in the swinery of it.
I grew more and more convinced that my father never could have lost his
presence of mind when he found himself in the net of a plot to cover him
with ridicule. He was the only one who did not retire to the Dauphin's
'chamber of testification,' to return convulsed with vinous laughter
after gravely inspecting the evidence; for which abstention the Dauphin
reproached him violently, in round terms of abuse, challengeing him to go
through a similar process. This was the signal for Edbury, Tenby, and
some of the rest. They formed a circle, one-half for the Dauphin, one
for Roy. How long the boorish fun lasted, and what exactly came of it,
I did not hear. Jorian DeWitt said my father lost his temper, a point
contested by Wedderburn and Jennings, for it was unknown of him. Anyhow,
he thundered to some effect, inasmuch as he detached those that had
gentlemanly feelings from the wanton roysterers, and next day the latter
pleaded wine. But they told the story, not without embellishments. The
world followed their example.
I dined and slept at Temple's house, not caring to meet my incarnate
humiliation. I sent to hear that he was safe. A quiet evening with a
scholarly man, and a man of strong practical ability and shrewdness, like
Mr. Temple, did me good. I wished my father and I were on the same
footing as he and his son, and I may add his daughters. They all talked
sensibly; they were at feud with nobody; they reflected their condition.
It was a simple orderly English household, of which the father was the
pillar, the girls the ornaments, the son the hope, growing to take his
father's place. My envy of such a home was acute, and I thought of
Janet, and how well she was fashioned to build one resembling it, if only
the mate allotted to her should not be a fantastical dreamer. Temple's
character seemed to me to demand a wife like Janet on its merits; an idea
that depressed me exceedingly. I had introduced Temple to Anna Penrhys,
who was very kind to him; but these two were not framed to be other than
friends. Janet, on the contrary, might some day perceive the sterling
fellow Temple was, notwithstanding his moderate height. She might,
I thought. I remembered that I had once wished that she would, and I was
amazed at myself. But why? She was a girl sure to marry. I brushed
these meditations away. They recurred all the time I was in Temple's
Mr. Temple waited for my invitation to touch on my father's Case, when he
distinctly pronounced his opinion that it could end but in failure.
Though a strict Constitutionalist, he had words of disgust for princes,
acknowledging, however, that we were not practical in our use of them,
and kept them for political purposes often to the perversion of our
social laws and their natural dispositions. He spoke of his son's freak
in joining the Navy. 'That was the princess's doing,' said Temple.
'She talked of our naval heroes, till she made me feel I had only to
wear the anchor buttons to be one myself. Don't tell her I was invalided
from the service, Richie, for the truth is, I believe, I half-shammed.
And the time won't be lost. You'll see I shall extract guineas from
"old ocean" like salt. Precious few barristers understand maritime
cases. The other day I was in Court, and prompted a great Q.C. in a
case of collision. Didn't I, sir?'
'I think there was a hoarse whisper audible up to the Judge's seat at
intervals,' said Mr. Temple.
'The Bar cannot confess to obligations from those who don't wear the
robe,' Temple rejoined.
His father advised me to read for the Bar, as a piece of very good
I appealed to Temple, whether he thought it possible to read law-books in
a cockboat in a gale of wind.
Temple grimaced and his father nodded. Still it struck me that I might
one day have the felicity of quiet hours to sit down with Temple and read
Law--far behind him in the race. And he envied me, in his friendly
manner, I knew. My ambition had been blown to tatters.
A new day dawned. The household rose and met at the breakfast-table,
devoid of any dread of the morning newspapers. Their talk was like the
chirrup of birds. Temple and his father walked away together to
chambers, bent upon actual business--upon doing something! I reflected
emphatically, and compared them to ships with rudders, while I was at the
mercy of wind, tide, and wave. I called at Dettermain and Newson's, and
heard there of a discovery of a witness essential to the case, either in
North Wales or in New South. I did not, as I had intended, put a veto on
their proceedings. The thing to do was to see my father, and cut the
case at the fountain head. For this purpose, it was imperative that I
should go to him, and prepare myself for the interview by looking at the
newspapers first. I bought one, hastily running my eyes down the columns
in the shop. His name was printed, but merely in a fashionable
notification that carriages took up and set down for his costume Ball,
according to certain regulations. The relief of comparative obscurity
helped me to breathe freely: not to be laughed at, was a gain. I was
rather inclined to laud his courage in entering assembly-rooms, where he
must be aware that he would see the Dauphin on every face. Perhaps he
was guilty of some new extravagance last night, too late for scandal to
reinforce the reporters!
Mrs. Waddy had a woeful visage when informing me that he was out, gone to
Courtenay Square. She ventured a murmur of bills coming in. Like
everybody else, she fancied he drew his supplies from my inexhaustible
purse; she hoped the bills would be paid off immediately: the servants'
wages were overdue. 'Never can I get him to attend to small accounts,'
she whimpered, and was so ready to cry outright, that I said, 'Tusk,' and
with the one word gave her comfort. 'Of course, you, Mr. Harry, can
settle them, I know that.' We were drawing near to poor old Sewis's
legacy, even for the settling of the small accounts!
London is a narrow place to one not caring to be seen. I could not
remain in this creditor-riddled house; I shunned the Parks, the Clubs,
and the broad, brighter streets of the West. Musing on the refreshing
change it would be to me to find myself suddenly on board Captain Jasper
Welsh's barque Priscilla, borne away to strange climes and tongues, the
world before me, I put on the striding pace which does not invite
interruption, and no one but Edbury would have taken the liberty. I
heard his shout. 'Halloa! Richmond.' He was driving his friend
Witlington in his cabriolet. 'Richmond, my hearty, where the deuce have
you been? I wanted you to dine with me the other night.'
I replied, looking at him steadily, that I wished I had been there.
'Compendious larks!' cried he, in the slang of his dog's day. 'I say;
you're one at Duke Fitz's masquerade to-night? Tell us your toggery.
Hang it, you might go for the Black Prince. I'm Prince Hal. Got a
headache? Come to my Club and try my mixture. Yoicks! it'd make
Methuselah and Melchisedec jump up and have a twirl and a fandango. I
say, you're thick with that little French actress Chastedian jolly little
woman! too much to say for herself to suit me.'
He described the style of woman that delighted him--an ideal English
shepherdess of the print-shops, it appeared, and of extremely remote
interest to me, I thought at the time. Eventually I appointed to walk
round to his Club, and he touched his horse gently, and bobbed his
diminutive henchman behind his smart cabriolet, the admiration of the
I found him waiting for me on the steps of his Club, puffing a cigar with
all his vigour, in the classic attitude of a trumpeter. My first words
were: 'I think I have to accuse you of insulting me.'
'Insulting you, Richmond!' he cried, much surprised, holding his cigar in
'If you insult my father, I make you responsible to me.'
'Insult old Duke Fitz! I give you my word of honour, Richmond--why,
I like him; I like the old boy. Wouldn't hurt him for the world and all
What the deuce have you got into your head? Come in and smoke.'
The mention of his dinner and the Dauphin crazed him with laughter.
He begged me as a man to imagine the scene: the old Bloated Bourbon of
London Wall and Camberwell! an Illustrious Boy!--drank like a fish!--
ready to show himself to the waiters! And then with 'Gee' and 'Gaw,' the
marquis spouted out reminiscences of scene, the best ever witnessed!
'Up starts the Dauphin. "Damn you, sir! and damn me, sir, if believe
you have a spot on your whole body!" And snuffles and puffs--you should
have been there Richmond, I wrote to ask you: did, upon my life! wanted
you there. Lord! why, you won't get such fun in a century. And old
Roy! he behaved uncommonly finely: said capital things, by Jove! Never
saw him shine so; old trump! Says Dauphin, "My beautiful mother had a
longing for strawberries out of season. I am marked with a strawberry,
here." Says Roy: "It is an admirable and roomy site, but as I am not
your enemy, sir, I doubt if I shall often have the opportunity to behold
it." Ha! ha!--gee! Richmond, you've missed the deucedest good scene
How could I, after having had an adversary like Prince Otto, call upon a
fellow such as Edbury to give me reason for his conduct? He rollicked
and laughed until my ungovernable impatience brought him to his senses.
'Dash it, you're a fire-eater, I know, Richmond. We can't fight in this
country; ain't allowed. And fighting 's infernal folly. By Jove!
If you're going to tumble down every man who enjoys old Roy, you've your
work cut out for you. He's long chalks the best joke out. 'Twixt you
and me, he did return thanks. What does it matter what old Duke Fitz
does? I give him a lift on his ladder with all my heart. He keeps a
capital table. And I'll be hanged if he hasn't got the secret of the
women. How he does it old Roy! If the lords were ladies they'd vote him
premier peer, double quick. And I'll tell you what, Richmond, I'm
thought a devil of a good-tempered fellow for not keeping watch over
Courtenay Square. I don't call it my business to be house dog for a
pretty stepmother. But there's talking and nodding, and oh! leave all
that: come in and smoke, and let me set you up; and I'll shake your hand.
Halloa! I'm hailed.'
A lady, grasping the veil across her face, beckoned her hand from a
closed carriage below. Edbury ran down to her. I caught sight of
ravishing golden locks, reminding me of Mabel Sweetwinter's hair, and
pricking me with a sensation of spite at the sex for their deplorable
madness in the choice of favourites. Edbury called me to come to the
carriage window. I moved slowly, but the carriage wheeled about and
rolled away. I could just see the outline of a head muffled in furs and
'Queer fish, women!' he delivered himself of the philosophical
ejaculation cloudily. I was not on terms with him to offer any remark
upon the one in question. His imperturbable good humour foiled me, and
I left him, merely giving him a warning, to which his answer was:
'Oh! come in and have a bottle of claret.'
Claret or brandy had done its work on him by the time I encountered him
some hours later, in the Park. Bramham DeWitt, whom I met in the same
neighbourhood, offered me a mount after lunch, advising me to keep near
my father as much as I conveniently could; and he being sure to appear in
the Park, I went, and heard his name to the right and left of me. He was
now, as he said to me once that he should become, 'the tongue of London.'
I could hardly expect to escape from curious scrutiny myself; I was
looked at. Here and there I had to lift my hat and bow. The
stultification of one's feelings and ideas in circumstances which divide
and set them at variance is worse than positive pain. The looks shed on
me were rather flattering, but I knew that in the background I was felt
to be the son of the notorious. Edbury came trotting up to us like a
shaken sack, calling, 'Neigh! any of you seen old Roy?' Bramham DeWitt,
a stiff, fashionable man of fifty, proud of his blood and quick as his
cousin Jorian to resent an impertinence, replied:
'Are you the Marquis of Edbury, or a drunken groom, sir?'
"Gad, old gentleman, I've half a mind to ride you down,' said Edbury,
and, espying me, challenged me to a race to run down the fogies.
A cavalcade of six abreast came cantering along. I saw my father listen
to a word from Lady Edbury, and push his horse to intercept the marquis.
They spoke. 'Presently, presently,' my father said; 'ride to the rear,
and keep at half a stone's throw-say, a groom's distance.'
'Groom be hanged!' Edbury retorted. 'I made a bet I'd drive you out of
the Park, old Roy!'
'Ride behind, then,' said my father, and to my astonishment Edbury obeyed
him, with laughter. Lady Edbury smiled to herself; and I experienced the
esteem I perceived in her for a masterful manner. A few minutes later my
father beckoned me to pay my respects to Graf Kesensky, an ambassador
with strong English predilections and some influence among us. He asked
me if he was right in supposing I wished to enter Parliament. I said he
was, wondering at the interest a foreigner could find in it. The count
stopped a quiet-pacing gentleman. Bramhaxri DeWitt joined them, and a
group of friends. I was introduced to Mr. Beauchamp Hill, the Government
whip, who begged me to call on him with reference to the candidature of a
Sussex borough: 'that is,' said he, turning to Graf Kesensky, 'if you're
sure the place is open? I've heard nothing of Falmouth's accident.'
The count replied that Falmouth was his intimate friend; he had received
a special report that Falmouth was dying, just as he was on the point of
mounting his horse. 'We shan't have lost time,' said Mr. Hill. The
Government wanted votes. I went down to the House of Commons at midnight
to see him. He had then heard of Falmouth's hopeless condition, and
after extracting my political views, which were for the nonce those of a
happy subserviency, he expressed his belief that the new writ for the
borough of Chippenden might be out, and myself seated on the Government
benches, within a very short period. Nor would it be necessary, he
thought, for the Government nominee to spend money: 'though that does not
affect you, Mr. Richmond!' My supposed wealth gave me currency even in
I BECOME ONE OF THE CHOSEN OF THE NATION
An entire revulsion in my feelings and my way of thinking was caused by
this sudden change of prospect. A member of our Parliament, I could then
write to Ottilia, and tell her that I had not wasted time. And it was
due to my father, I confessed, when he returned from his ball at dawn, .
that I should thank him for speaking to Graf Kesensky. 'Oh!' said he,
'that was our luck, Richie. I have been speaking about you to hundreds
for the last six months, and now we owe it to a foreigner!' I thanked him
again. He looked eminently handsome in his Henry III. costume, and was
disposed to be as luxurious as his original. He had brought Count Lika,
Secretary of Legation to the Austrian Embassy, dressed as an Albanian,
with him. The two were stretched on couches, and discoursing of my
father's reintroduction of the sedan chair to society. My father
explained that he had ordered a couple of dozen of these chairs to be
built on a pattern of his own. And he added, 'By the way, Richie, there
will be sedaniers--porters to pay to-day. Poor men should be paid
immediately.' I agreed with the monarch. Contemplating him, I became
insensible to the sting of ridicule which had been shooting through me,
agonizing me for the last eight-and-forty hours. Still I thought: can I
never escape from the fascination?--let me only get into Parliament!
The idea in me was that Parliament lifted me nearer to Ottilia, and would
prompt me to resolute action, out of his tangle of glittering cobwebs.
I told him of my interview with Beauchamp Hill. 'I have never known
Kesensky wrong yet,' said he; 'except in his backing of Falmouth's
horses.' Count Lika murmured that he hoped his Chief would be wrong in
something else: he spoke significantly. My father raised his eyebrows.
'In his opinion,' Lika accepted the invitation to pursue, 'Prince Ernest
will not let that announcement stand uncontradicted.'
My father's eyes dwelt on him. 'Are we accused of it?'
Lika slipped from the question. 'Who is accused of a newspaper's doings?
It is but the denial of a statement.'
'I dare them to deny it!--and, Lika, my dear fellow, light me a
cigarette,' said my father.
'Then,' said Lika, touching the flame delicately, 'you take the view that
Kesensky is wrong in another thing besides horses.'
I believe he struck on the subject casually: there was nothing for him to
gain or lose in it; and he had a liking for my father.
After puffing the cigarette twice or thrice my father threw it down,
resuming his conversation upon the sedan, the appropriate dresses of
certain of the great masquerading ladies, and an incident that appeared
to charge Jorian DeWitt with having misconducted himself. The moment
Lika had gone upstairs for two or three hours' sleep, he said to me:
'Richie, you and I have no time for that. We must have a man at
Falmouth's house by eight o'clock. If the scrubbing-maid on all fours-
not an inelegant position, I have remarked--declares him dead, we are at
Bartlett's (money-lender) by ten: and in Chippenden borough before two
post meridian. As I am a tactician, there is mischief! but I will turn
it to my uses, as I did our poor Jorian to-night; he smuggled in the
Chassediane: I led her out on my arm. Of that by and by. The point is,
that from your oath in Parliament you fly to Sarkeld. I implore you now,
by your love for me and the princess, not to lose precious minutes.
Richie, we will press things so that you shall be in Sarkeld by the end
of the month. My son! my dear boy! how you loved me once!--you do still!
then follow my directions. I have a head. Ay, you think it wild?
'Tis true, my mother was a poetess. But I will convince my son as I am
convincing the world-tut, tut! To avoid swelling talk, I tell you,
Richie, I have my hand on the world's wheel, and now is the time for you
to spring from it and gain your altitude. If you fail, my success is
'Will you avoid Edbury and his like, and protect yourself?' was my form
of stipulation, spoken to counteract his urgency.
He gave no answer beyond a wave of the hand suitable to his princely one-
coloured costume of ruffled lavender silk, and the magnificent leg he
turned to front me. My senses even up to that period were so
impressionable as to be swayed by a rich dress and a grand manner when
circumstances were not too unfavourable. Now they seemed very
favourable, for they offered me an upward path to tread. His appearance
propitiated me less after he had passed through the hands of his man
Tollingby, but I had again surrendered the lead to him. As to the risk
of proceedings being taken against him, he laughed scornfully at the
suggestion. 'They dare not. The more I dare, the less dare they.'
Again I listened to his curious roundabout reasoning, which dragged
humour at its heels like a comical cur, proclaiming itself imposingly,
in spite of the mongrel's barking, to be prudence and common sense.
Could I deny that I owed him gratitude for the things I cherished most?
--for my acquaintance with Ottilia?--for his services in Germany?--for
the prospect of my elevation in England? I could not; and I tried hard
to be recklessly grateful. As to money, he reiterated that he could put
his hand on it to satisfy the squire on the day of accounts: for the
present, we must borrow. His argument upon borrowing--which I knew well,
and wondered that I did not at the outset disperse with a breath of
contempt--gained on me singularly when reviewed under the light of my
immediate interests: it ran thus:--We have a rich or a barren future,
just as we conceive it. The art of generalship in life consists in
gathering your scattered supplies to suit a momentous occasion; and it is
the future which is chiefly in debt to us, and adjures us for its sake to
fight the fight and conquer. That man is vile and fit to be trampled on
who cannot count his future in gold and victory. If, as we find, we are
always in debt to the past, we should determine that the future is in our
debt, and draw on it. Why let our future lie idle while we need succour?
For instance, to-morrow I am to have what saves my reputation in the
battle to-day; shall I not take it at once? The military commander who
acts on that principle overcomes his adversary to a certainty.
'You, Richie, the member for this borough of Chippenden, have won solid
ground. I guarantee it to you. And you go straight from the hustings,
or the first taste of parliamentary benches, to Sarkeld: you take your
grandad's proposition to Prince Ernest: you bring back the prince's
acceptance to the squire. Can you hope to have a princess without a
battle for her?' More and much more in this strain, until--for he could
read me and most human beings swiftly on the surface, notwithstanding the
pressure of his fancifulness--he perceived that talking influenced me far
less than activity, and so after a hurried breakfast and an innocuous
glance at the damp morning papers, we started to the money-lender's, with
Jennings to lend his name. We were in Chippenden close upon the hour my
father had named, bringing to the startled electors the first news of
their member's death.
During the heat of the canvass for votes I received a kind letter from
the squire in reply to one of mine, wherein he congratulated me on my
prospects of success, and wound up: 'Glad to see it announced you are off
with that princess of yours. Show them we are as proud as they are,
Harry, and a fig for the whole foreign lot! Come to Riversley soon, and
be happy.' What did that mean? Heriot likewise said in a letter: 'So
it's over? The proud prince kicks? You will not thank me for telling
you now what you know I think about it.' I appealed to my father.
'Canvass! canvass!' cried he; and he persistently baffled me. It was
from Temple I learnt that on the day of our starting for Chippenden, the
newspapers contained a paragraph in large print flatly denying upon
authority that there was any foundation for the report of an intended
marriage between the Princess of Eppenwelzen-Sarkeld and an English
gentleman. Then I remembered how that morning my father had flung the
papers down, complaining of their dampness.
Would such denial have appeared without Ottilia's sanction?
My father proved that I was harnessed to him; there was no stopping, no
time for grieving. Pace was his specific. He dragged me the round of
the voters; he gave dinners at the inn of true Liberals, and ate of them
contentedly; he delivered speeches incessantly. The whole force of his.
serio-comic genius was alive in its element at Chippenden. From balls
and dinners, and a sharp contest to maintain his position in town, he was
down among us by the first morning train, bright as Apollo, and quite the
sun of the place, dazzling the independent electors and their wives, and
even me somewhat; amazing me, certainly. Dettermain, his lawyer, who had
never seen him in action, and supposed he would treat an election as he
did his Case, with fits and starts of energy, was not less astonished,
and tried to curb him.
'Mr. Dettermain, my dear sir, I apprehend it is the electoral maxim to
woo the widowed borough with the tear in its eye, and I shall do so
hotly, in a right masculine manner,' my father said. 'We have the
start; and if we beat the enemy by nothing else we will beat him by
constitution. We are the first in the field, and not to reap it is to
acknowledge oneself deficient in the very first instrument with which
grass was cut.'
Our difficulty all through the election was to contend with his humour.
The many triumphs it won for him, both in speech and in action, turned at
least the dialectics of the argument against us, and amusing, flattering,
or bewildering, contributed to silence and hold us passive. Political
convictions of his own, I think I may say with truth, he had none. He
would have been just as powerful, after his fashion, on the Tory side,
pleading for Mr. Normanton Hipperdon; more, perhaps: he would have been
more in earnest. His store of political axioms was Tory; but he did
remarkably well, and with no great difficulty, in confuting them to the
wives of voters, to the voters themselves, and at public assemblies. Our
adversary was redoubtable; a promising Opposition member, ousted from his
seat in the North--a handsome man, too, which my father admitted, and
wealthy, being junior partner in a City banking firm. Anna Penrhys knew
him, and treacherously revealed some of the enemy's secrets, notably
concerning what he termed our incorrigible turn for bribery.
'And that means,' my father said, 'that Mr. Hipperdon does not possess
the art of talking to the ladies. I shall try him in repartee on the
hustings. I must contrive to have our Jorian at my elbow.'
The task of getting Jorian to descend upon such a place as Chippenden
worried my father more than electoral anxieties. Jorian wrote, 'My best
wishes to you. Be careful of your heads. The habit of the Anglo-Saxon
is to conclude his burlesques with a play of cudgels. It is his notion
of freedom, and at once the exordium and peroration of his eloquence.
Spare me the Sussex accent on your return.'
My father read out the sentences of this letter with admiring bursts of
indignation at the sarcasms, and an evident idea that I inclined to
jealousy of the force displayed.
'But we must have him,' he said; 'I do not feel myself complete without
So he made dispositions for a concert to be given in Chippenden town.
Jenny Chassediane was invited down to sing, and Jorian came in her wake,
of course. He came to suffer tortures. She was obliging enough to
transform me into her weapon of chastisement upon the poor fellow for his
behaviour to her at the Ball-atrocious, I was bound to confess. On this
point she hesitated just long enough to imply a doubt whether, under any
circumstances, the dues of men should be considered before those of her
sex, and then struck her hands together with enthusiasm for my father,
who was, she observed--critical in millinery in the height of her
ecstasy--the most majestic, charming, handsome Henri III. imaginable,
the pride and glory of the assembly, only one degree too rosy at night
for the tone of the lavender, needing a touch of French hands, and the
merest trifle in want of compression about the waistband. She related
that a certain Prince Henri d'Angleterre had buzzed at his ear
annoyingly. 'Et Gascoigne, ou est-il?' called the King, and the Judge
stepped forth to correct the obstreperous youth. The Judge was Jennings,
clearly prepared by my father to foil the Prince--no other than Edbury.
It was incomprehensible to me that my father should tolerate the tatter's
pranks; unless, indeed, he borrowed his name to bonds of which I heard
Mademoiselle Chassediane vowed that her own dress was ravishing. She
went attired as a boudoir-shepherdess or demurely-coquettish Sevres-china
Ninette, such of whom Louis Quinze would chuck the chin down the deadly
introductory walks of Versailles. The reason of her desiring to go was
the fatal sin of curiosity, and, therefore, her sex's burden, not hers.
Jorian was a Mousquetaire, with plumes and ruffles prodigious, and a
hen's heart beneath his cock's feathers. 'Pourtant j'y allai. I saw
your great ladies, how they carry themselves when they would amuse
themselves, and, mon Dieu! Paris has done its utmost to grace their
persons, and the length of their robes did the part of Providence in
bestowing height upon them, parceque, vous savez, Monsieur, c'est
extraordinaire comme ils ont les jambes courtes, ces Anglaises!' Our
aristocracy, however, was not so bad in that respect as our bourgeoisie;
yet it was easy to perceive that our female aristocracy, though they
could ride, had never been drilled to walk: 'de belles femmes, oui;
seulement, tenez, je n'admire ni les yeux de vache, ni de souris, ni mime
ceux de verre comme ornement feminin. Avec de l'embonpoint elles font de
l'effet, mais maigre il n'y a aucune illusion possible.'
This vindictive critic smarted, with cause, at the recollection of her
walk out of her rooms. Jorian's audacity or infatuation quitted him
immediately after he had gratified her whim. The stout Mousquetaire
placed her in a corner, and enveloped her there, declaring that her
petition had been that she might come to see, not to be seen,--as if, she
cried out tearfully, the two wishes must not necessarily exist together,
like the masculine and the feminine in this world! Prince Hal, acting
the most profligate period of his career, espied her behind the
Mousquetaire's moustache, and did not fail to make much of his discovery.
In a perilous moment for the reputation of the Ball, my father handed him
over to Gascoigne, and conducted Jenny in a leisurely walk on his arm out
of the rooms.
'Il est comme les Romains,' she said: 'he never despairs of himself.
It is a Jupiter! If he must punish you he confers a dignity in doing it.
Now I comprehend, that with such women as these grandes dames Anglaises
I should have done him harm but for his greatness of soul.'
Some harm, I fancied, must have been done, in spite of his boast to the
contrary. He had to be in London every other night, and there were tales
current of intrigues against him which had their sources from very lofty
regions. But in Chippenden he threw off London, just as lightly as in
London he discarded Chippenden. No symptom of personal discouragement,
or of fatigue, was betrayed in his face. I spoke once of that paragraph
purporting to emanate from Prince Ernest.
'It may,' he said. 'Business! Richie.'
He set to counting the promises of votes, disdaining fears and
reflections. Concerts, cricket-matches, Balls, dinner-parties, and the
round of the canvass, and speech-making at our gatherings, occupied every
minute of my time, except on Saturday evenings, when I rode over to
Riversley with Temple to spend the Sunday. Temple, always willing to
play second to me, and a trifle melancholy under his partial eclipse-
which, perhaps, suggested the loss of Janet to him--would have it that
this election was one of the realizations of our boyish dreams of
greatness. The ladies were working rosettes for me. My aunt Dorothy
talked very anxiously about the day appointed by my father to repay the
large sum expended. All hung upon that day, she said, speaking from her
knowledge of the squire. She was moved to an extreme distress by the
'He is confident, Harry; but where can he obtain the money? If your
grandfather sees it invested in your name in Government securities, he
will be satisfied, not otherwise: nothing less will satisfy him; and if
that is not done, he will join you and your father together in his mind;
and as he has hitherto treated one he will treat both. I know him. He
is just, to the extent of his vision; but he will not be able to separate
you. He is aware that your father has not restricted his expenses since
they met; he will say you should have used your influence.'
She insisted on this, until the tears streamed from her eyes, telling me
that my grandfather was the most upright and unsuspicious of men, and
precisely on that account the severest when he thought he had been
deceived. The fair chances of my election did not console her, as it did
me, by dazzling me. She affirmed strongly that she was sure my father
expected success at the election to be equivalent to the promised
restitution of the money, and begged me to warn him that nothing short of
the sum squandered would be deemed sufficient at Riversley. My dear
aunt, good woman though she was, seemed to me to be waxing miserly.
The squire had given her the name of Parsimony; she had vexed him, Janet
told me, by subscribing a miserable sum to a sailors' asylum that he
patronized--a sum he was ashamed to see standing as the gift of a
Beltham; and she had stopped the building of a wing of her village
school-house, designed upon his plan. Altogether, she was fretful and
distressful; she appeared to think that I could have kept my father in
better order. Riversley was hearing new and strange reports of him. But
how could I at Chippenden thwart his proceedings in London? Besides, he
was serving me indefatigably.
It can easily be imagined what description of banter he had to meet and
'This gentleman is obliging enough to ask me, "How about the Royal Arms?"
If in his extreme consideration he means to indicate my Arms, I will
inform him that they are open to him; he shall find entertainment for man
and beast; so he is doubly assured of a welcome.'
Questioned whether he did not think he was entitled to be rated at the
value of half-a-crown, he protested that whatever might be the sum of his
worth, he was pure coin, of which neither party in Chippenden could
accuse the silver of rubbing off; and he offered forthwith an impromptu
apologue of a copper penny that passed itself off for a crown-piece, and
deceived a portion of the country: that was why (with a wave of the arm
over the Hipperdon faction) it had a certain number of backers; for
everybody on whom the counterfeit had been foisted, praised it to keep it
in the currency.
'Now, gentlemen, I apprehend that Chippenden is not the pocket-borough
for Hipperdon coin. Back with him to the Mint! and, with your
permission, we will confiscate the first syllable of his name, while we
consign him to oblivion, with a hip, hip, hip, hurrah for Richmond!'
The cheers responded thunderingly, and were as loud when he answered a
'How 'bout the Dauphin?' by saying that it was the Tory hotel, of which
he knew nothing.
'A cheer for old Roy!' Edbury sang out.
My father checked the roar, and turned to him.
'Marquis of Edbury, come to the front!'
Edbury declined to budge, but the fellows round him edged aside to show
him a mark for my father's finger.
'Gentlemen, this is the young Marquis of Edbury, a member of the House of
Lords by right of his birth, born to legislate for you and me. He,
gentlemen, makes our laws. Examine him, hear him, meditate on him.'
He paused cruelly for Edbury to open his mouth. The young lord looked
confounded, and from that moment behaved becomingly.
'He might have been doing mischief to-morrow,' my father said to me, and
by letting me conceive his adroitness a matter of design, comforted me
with proofs of intelligent power, and made me feel less the melancholy
conjunction of a piece of mechanism and a piece of criticism, which I was
fast growing to be in the contemplation of the agencies leading to honour
in our land. Edbury whipped his four-in-hand to conduct our voters to
the poll. We had to pull hard against Tory interest. It was a sharp,
dubious, hot day--a day of outcries against undue influence and against
bribery--a day of beer and cheers and the insanest of tricks to cheat the
polling-booth. Old John Thresher of Dipwell, and Farmer Eckerthy drove
over to Chippenden to afford me aid and countenance, disconcerting me by
the sight of them, for I associated them with Janet rather than with
Ottilia, and it was to Ottilia that I should have felt myself rising when
the figures increased their pace in my favour, and the yeasty mob
surrounding my father's superb four-horsed chariot responded to his
orations by proclaiming me victor.
'I congratulate you, Mr. Richmond,' Dettermain said. 'Up to this day I
have had my fears that we should haul more moonshine than fish in our
net. Your father has accomplished prodigies.'
My father, with the bloom of success on his face, led me aside soon after
a safe majority of upwards of seventy had been officially announced.
'Now, Richie,' said he, 'you are a Member. Now to the squire away!
Thank the multitude and off, and as quick to Sarkeld as you well can, and
tell the squire from me that I pardon his suspicions. I have landed you
a Member--that will satisfy him. I am willing, tell him . . . you
know me competent to direct mines . . . bailiff of his estates--
whatever he pleases, to effect a reconciliation. I must be in London to-
night--I am in the thick of the fray there. No matter: go, my son.'
He embraced me. It was not a moment for me to catechize him, though I
could see that he was utterly deluded.
Between moonlight and morning, riding with Temple and Captain Bulsted on
either side of me, I drew rein under the red Grange windows, tired, and
in love with its air of sleepy grandeur. Janet's window was open. I
hailed her. 'Has he won?' she sang out in the dark of her room, as
though the cry of delight came upon the leap from bed. She was dressed.
She had commissioned Farmer Eckerthy to bring her the news at any hour of
the night. Seeing me, she clapped hands. 'Harry, I congratulate you a
thousand times.' She had wit to guess that I should never have thought
of coming had I not been the winner. I could just discern the curve and
roll of her famed thick brown hair in the happy shrug of her shoulder,
and imagined the full stream of it as she leaned out of window to talk to
Janet herself, unfastened the hall-door bolts. She caressed the horses,
feverishly exulting, with charming subdued laughter of victory and
welcome, and amused us by leading my horse round to stables, and
whistling for one of the lads, playing what may, now and then, be a
pretty feature in a young woman of character--the fair tom-boy girl.
She and her maid prepared coffee and toast for us, and entered the hall,
one after the other, laden with dishes of cold meat; and not until the
captain had eaten well did she tell him slyly that somebody, whom she had
brought to Riversley yesterday, was abed and asleep upstairs. The
slyness and its sisterly innocence lit up our eyes, and our hearts
laughed. Her cheeks were deliciously overcoloured. We stole I know not
what from the night and the day, and conventional circumstances, and
rallied Captain Bulsted, and behaved as decorous people who treat the
night properly, and live by rule, do not quite do. Never since Janet was
a girl had I seen her so spirited and responsive: the womanly armour of
half-reserve was put away. We chatted with a fresh-hearted natural young
creature who forfeited not a particle of her ladyship while she made
herself our comrade in talk and frolic.
Janet and I walked part of the way to the station with Temple, who had to
catch an early train, and returning--the song of skylarks covering us--
joined hands, having our choice between nothing to say, and the excess;
MY FATHER IS MIRACULOUSLY RELIEVED BY FORTUNE
My grandfather had a gratification in my success, mingled with a
transparent jealousy of the chief agent in procuring it. He warned me
when I left him that he was not to be hoodwinked: he must see the money
standing in my name on the day appointed. His doubts were evident, but
he affected to be expectant. Not a word of Sarkeld could be spoken. My
success appeared to be on a more visionary foundation the higher I
Now Jorian DeWitt had affirmed that the wealthy widow Lady Sampleman was
to be had by my father for the asking. Placed as we were, I regarded the
objections to his alliance with her in a mild light. She might lend me
the money to appease the squire; that done, I would speedily repay it.
I admitted, in a letter to my aunt Dorothy, the existing objections: but
the lady had long been enamoured of him, I pleaded, and he was past the
age for passionate affection, and would infallibly be courteous and kind.
She was rich. We might count on her to watch over him carefully.
Of course, with such a wife, he would sink to a secondary social sphere;
was it to be regretted if he did? The letter was a plea for my own
interests, barely veiled.
At the moment of writing it, and moreover when I treated my father with
especial coldness, my heart was far less warm in the contemplation of its
pre-eminent aim than when I was suffering him to endanger it, almost
without a protest. Janet and a peaceful Riversley, and a life of quiet
English distinction, beckoned to me visibly, and not hatefully. The
image of Ottilia conjured up pictures of a sea of shipwrecks, a scene of
immeasurable hopelessness. Still, I strove toward that. My strivings
were against my leanings, and imagining the latter, which involved no
sacrifice of the finer sense of honour, to be in the direction of my
lower nature, I repelled them to preserve a lofty aim that led me through
'Can it be you, Harry,' my aunt Dorothy's reply ran (I had anticipated
her line of reasoning, though not her warmth), 'who advise him to this
marriage from a motive so inexplicably unworthy? That you will repay her
the money, I do not require your promise to assure me. The money is
nothing. It is the prospect of her life and fortune which you are
consenting, if not urging him, to imperil for your own purposes. Are you
really prepared to imitate in him, with less excuse for doing it, the
things you most condemn? Let it be checked at the outset. It cannot be.
A marriage of inclination on both sides, prudent in a worldly sense, we
might wish for him, perhaps, if he could feel quite sure of himself. His
wife might persuade him not to proceed in his law-case. There I have
long seen his ruin. He builds such expectations on it! You speak of
something worse than a mercenary marriage. I see this in your
handwriting!--your approval of it! I have to check the whisper that
tells me it reads like a conspiracy. Is she not a simpleton? Can you
withhold your pity? and pitying, can you possibly allow her to be
entrapped? Forgive my seeming harshness. I do not often speak to my
Harry so. I do now because I must appeal to you, as the one chiefly
responsible, on whose head the whole weight of a dreadful error will
fall. Oh! my dearest, be guided by the purity of your feelings to shun
doubtful means. I have hopes that after the first few weeks your
grandfather will--I know he does not 'expect to find the engagement
fulfilled--be the same to you that he was before he discovered the
extravagance. You are in Parliament, and I am certain, that by keeping
as much as possible to yourself, and living soberly, your career there
will persuade him to meet your wishes.'
The letter was of great length. In conclusion, she entreated me to
despatch an answer by one of the early morning trains; entreating me once
more to cause 'any actual deed' to be at least postponed. The letter
revealed what I had often conceived might be.
My rejoinder to my aunt Dorothy laid stress on my father's pledge of his
word of honour as a gentleman to satisfy the squire on a stated day.
I shrank from the idea of the Riversley crow over him. As to the lady,
I said we would see that her money was fastened to her securely before
she committed herself to the deeps. The money to be advanced to me would
lie at my bankers, in my name,--untouched: it would be repaid in the bulk
after a season. This I dwelt on particularly, both to satisfy her and to
appease my sense of the obligation. An airy pleasantry in the tone of
this epistle amused me while writing it and vexed me when it had gone.
But a letter sent, upon special request, by railway, should not, I
thought, be couched in the ordinary strain. Besides one could not write
seriously of a person like Lady Sampleman.
I consulted my aunt Dorothy's scruples by stopping my father on his way
to the lady. His carriage was at the door: I suggested money-lenders: he
had tried them all. He begged me to permit him to start: but it was too
ignominious to think of its being done under my very eyes, and I refused.
He had tried the money-lenders yesterday. They required a mortgage
solider than expectations for the sum we wanted. Dettermain and Newson
had declined to undertake the hypothecation of his annuity. Providence
pointed to Sampleman.
'You change in a couple of nights, Richie,' said he. 'Now I am always
the identical man. I shall give happiness to one sincerely good soul.
I have only to offer myself--let me say in becoming modesty, I believe
so. Let me go to her and have it over, for with me a step taken is a
thing sanctified. I have in fact held her in reserve. Not that I think
Fortune has abandoned us: but a sagacious schemer will not leave
everything to the worthy Dame. I should have driven to her yesterday,
if I had not heard from Dettermain and Newson that there was a hint of
a negotiation for a compromise. Government is fairly frightened.'
He mused. 'However, I slept on it, and arrived at the conclusion this
morning that my old Richie stood in imminent jeopardy of losing the fruit
of all my toil. The good woman will advance the money to her husband.
When I pledged my word to the squire I had reason to imagine the two
months a sufficient time. We have still a couple of days. I have heard
of men who lost heart at the eleventh hour, and if they had only hung on,
with gallant faith in themselves, they would have been justified by the
result. Faith works miracles. At least it allows time for them.'
His fertile ingenuity spared mine the task of persuading him to postpone
the drive to Lady Sampleman. But that he would have been prompt to go,
at a word from me, and was actually about to go when I entered his house,
I could not question.
He drove in manifest relief of mind to Dettermain and Newson's.
I had an appointment with Mr. Temple at a great political Club, to meet
the gentlemen who were good enough to undertake the introduction of the
infant member to the House of Commons. My incessantly twisting
circumstances foiled the pleasure and pride due to me. From the Club I
bent my steps to Temple's district, and met in the street young Eckart
vom Hof, my champion and second on a memorable occasion, fresh upon
London, and looking very Germanic in this drab forest of our city people.
He could hardly speak of Deutschland for enthusiasm at the sight of the
moving masses. His object in coming to England, he assured me honestly,
was to study certain editions of Tibullus in the British Museum. When he
deigned to speak of Sarkeld, it was to say that Prince Hermann was
frequently there. I gave him no chance to be sly, though he pushed for
it, at a question of the Princess Ottilia's health.
The funeral pace of the block of cabs and omnibuses engrossed his
attention. Suddenly the Englishman afforded him an example of the
reserve of impetuosity we may contain. I had seen my aunt Dorothy in a
middle line of cabs coming from the City, and was darting in a twinkling
among wheels and shafts and nodding cab-horse noses to take her hand and
know the meaning of her presence in London. She had family business to
do: she said no more. I mentioned that I had checked my father for a day
or two. She appeared grateful. Her anxiety was extreme that she might
not miss the return train, so I relinquished her hand, commanded the
cabman to hasten, and turned to rescue Eckart--too young and faithful a
collegian not to follow his friend, though it were into the lion's den-
from a terrific entanglement of horseflesh and vehicles brawled over by a
splendid collision of tongues. Secure on the pavement again, Eckart
humbly acknowledged that the English tongue could come out upon
occasions. I did my best to amuse him.
Whether it amused him to see me take my seat in the House of Commons, and
hear a debate in a foreign language, I cannot say; but the only pleasure
of which I was conscious at that period lay in the thought that he or his
father, Baron vom Hof, might some day relate the circumstance at Prince
Ernest's table, and fix in Ottilia's mind the recognition of my having
tried to perform my part of the contract. Beggared myself, and knowing
Prince Hermann to be in Sarkeld, all I hoped for was to show her I had
followed the path she traced. My state was lower: besides misfortune I
now found myself exalted only to feel my profound insignificance.
'The standard for the House is a man's ability to do things,' said
Charles Etherell, my friendly introductor, by whom I was passingly,
perhaps ironically, advised to preserve silence for two or three
He counselled the study of Foreign Affairs for a present theme. I talked
of our management of them, in the strain of Dr. Julius von Karsteg.
'That's journalism, or clippings from a bilious essay; it won't do for
the House,' he said. 'Revile the House to the country, if you like, but
not the country to the House.'
When I begged him to excuse my absurdity, he replied:
'It's full of promise, so long as you're silent.'
But to be silent was to be merely an obedient hound of the whip. And if
the standard for the House was a man's ability to do things, I was in the
seat of a better man. External sarcasms upon the House, flavoured with
justness, came to my mind, but if these were my masters surrounding me,
how indefinitely small must I be!
Leaving the House on that first night of my sitting, I received Temple's
congratulations outside, and, as though the sitting had exhausted every
personal sentiment, I became filled with his; under totally new
sensations, I enjoyed my distinction through the perception of my old
comrade's friendly jealousy.
'I'll be there, too, some day,' he said, moaning at the prospect of an
extreme age before such honours would befall him.
The society of Eckart prevented me from urging him to puff me up with his
talk as I should have wished, and after I had sent the German to be taken
care of by Mrs. Waddy, I had grown so accustomed to the worldly view of
my position that I was fearing for its stability. Threats of a petition
against me were abroad. Supposing the squire disinherited me, could I
stand? An extraordinary appetite for wealth, a novel appreciation of it
--which was, in truth, a voluntary enlistment into the army of mankind,
and the adoption of its passions--pricked me with an intensity of hope
and dread concerning my dependence on my grandfather. I lay sleepless
all night, tossing from Riversley to Sarkeld, condemned, it seemed, to
marry Janet and gain riches and power by renouncing my hope of the
princess and the glory belonging to her, unless I should within a few
hours obtain a show of figures at my bankers.
I had promised Etherell to breakfast with him. A note--a faint scream--
despatched by Mrs. Waddy to Mr. Temple's house informed me that 'the men'
were upon them. If so, they were the forerunners of a horde, and my
father was as good as extinguished. He staked everything on success;
consequently, he forfeited pity.
Good-bye to ambition, I thought, and ate heartily, considering robustly
the while how far lower than the general level I might avoid falling.
The report of the debates in morning papers--doubtless, more flowing and,
perhaps, more grammatical than such as I gave ear to overnight--had the
odd effect on me of relieving me from the fit of subserviency into which
the speakers had sunk me.
A conceit of towering superiority took its place, and as Etherell was
kind enough to draw me out and compliment me, I was attacked by a tragic
sense of contrast between my capacities and my probable fortunes. It was
open to me to marry Janet. But this meant the loosening of myself with
my own hand for ever from her who was my mentor and my glory, to gain
whom I was in the very tideway. I could not submit to it, though the
view was like that of a green field of the springs passed by a climber up
the crags. I went to Anna Penrhys to hear a woman's voice, and partly
told her of my troubles. She had heard Mr. Hipperdon express his
confident opinion that he should oust me from my seat. Her indignation
was at my service as a loan: it sprang up fiercely and spontaneously in
allusions to something relating to my father, of which the Marquis of
Edbury had been guilty. 'How you can bear it!' she exclaimed, for I was
not wordy. The exclamation, however, stung me to put pen to paper--the
woman was not so remote in me as not to be roused by the woman. I wrote
to Edbury, and to Heriot, bidding him call on the young nobleman. Late
at night I was at my father's door to perform the act of duty of seeing
him, and hearing how he had entertained Eckart, if he was still master of
his liberty. I should have known him better: I expected silence and
gloom. The windows were lighted brilliantly. As the hall-door opened, a
band of stringed and wood instruments commenced an overture. Mrs. Waddy
came to me in the hall; she was unintelligible. One thing had happened
to him at one hour of the morning, and another at another hour. He was
at one moment suffering the hands of the 'officers' on his shoulder:
'And behold you, Mr. Harry! a knock, a letter from a messenger, and he
conquers Government!' It struck me that the epitome of his life had been
played in a day: I was quite incredulous of downright good fortune. He
had been giving a dinner followed by a concert, and the deafening strains
of the music clashed with my acerb spirit, irritating me excessively.
'Where are those men you spoke of?' I asked her. 'Gone,' she
replied,'gone long ago!'
'Paid?' said I.
She was afraid to be precise, but repeated that they were long since
I singled Jorian DeWitt from among the crowd of loungers on the stairs
and landing between the drawing-rooms. 'Oh, yes, Government has struck
its flag to him,' Jorian said. 'Why weren't you here to dine? Alphonse
will never beat his achievement of to-day. Jenny and Carigny gave us a
quarter-of-an-hour before dinner--a capital idea!--"VEUVE ET BACHELIER."
As if by inspiration. No preparation for it, no formal taking of seats.
It seized amazingly--floated small talk over the soup beautifully.'
I questioned him again.
'Oh, dear, yes; there can't be a doubt about it,' he answered, airily.
'Roy Richmond has won his game.'
Two or three urgent men round a great gentleman were extracting his
affable approbation of the admirable nature of the experiment of the
Chassediane before dinner. I saw that Eckart was comfortably seated, and
telling Jorian to provide for him in the matter of tobacco, I went to my
room, confused beyond power of thought by the sensible command of fortune
my father, fortune's sport at times, seemed really to have.
His statement of the circumstances bewildered me even more. He was in no
hurry to explain them; when we met next morning he waited for me to
question him, and said, 'Yes. I think we have beaten them so far!'
His mind was pre-occupied, he informed me, concerning the defence of a
lady much intrigued against, and resuming the subject: 'Yes, we have
beaten them up to a point, Richie. And that reminds me: would you have
me go down to Riversley and show the squire the transfer paper? At any
rate you can now start for Sarkeld, and you do, do you not? To-day: to-
morrow at latest.'
I insisted: 'But how, and in what manner has this money been paid?' The
idea struck me that he had succeeded in borrowing it.
'Transferred to me in the Bank, and intelligence of the fact sent to
Dettermain and Newson, my lawyers,' he replied. 'Beyond that, I know as
little as you, Richie, though indubitably I hoped to intimidate them.
If,' he added, with a countenance perfectly simple and frank, 'they
expect me to take money for a sop, I am not responsible, as I by no means
provoked it, for their mistake.
'I proceed. The money is useful to you, so I rejoice at it.'
Five and twenty thousand pounds was the amount.
'No stipulation was attached to it?'
'None. Of course a stipulation was implied: but of that I am not bound
to be cognizant.'
'Absurd!' I cried: 'it can't have come from the quarter you suspect.'
'Where else?' he asked.
I thought of the squire, Lady Edbury, my aunt, Lady Sampleman, Anna
Penrhys, some one or other of his frantic female admirers. But the
largeness of the amount, and the channel selected for the payment,
precluded the notion that any single person had come to succour him in
his imminent need, and, as it chanced, mine.
Observing that my speculations wavered, he cited numerous instances in
his life of the special action of Providence in his favour, and was bold
enough to speak of a star, which his natural acuteness would have checked
his doing before me, if his imagination had not been seriously struck.
'You hand the money over to me, sir?' I said.
'Without a moment of hesitation, my dear boy,' he melted me by answering.
'You believe you have received a bribe?'
'That is my entire belief--the sole conclusion I can arrive at. I will
tell you, Richie: the old Marquis of Edbury once placed five thousand
pounds to my account on a proviso that I should--neglect, is the better
word, my Case. I inherited from him at his death; of course his demise
cancelled the engagement. He had been the friend of personages
implicated. He knew. I suspect he apprehended the unpleasant position
of a witness.'
'But what was the stipulation you presume was implied?' said I.
'Something that passed between lawyers: I am not bound to be cognizant of
it. Abandon my claims for a few thousands? Not for ten, not for ten
hundred times the sum!'
To be free from his boisterous influence, which made my judgement as
unsteady as the weather-glass in a hurricane, I left my house and went
straight to Dettermain and Newson, who astonished me quite as much by
assuring me that the payment of the money was a fact. There was no
mystery about it. The intelligence and transfer papers, they said, had
not been communicated to them by the firm they were opposed to, but by a
solicitor largely connected with the aristocracy; and his letter had
briefly declared the unknown donator's request that legal proceedings
should forthwith be stopped. They offered no opinion of their own.
Suggestions of any kind, they seemed to think, had weight, and all of
them an equal weight, to conclude from the value they assigned to every
idea of mine. The name of the solicitor in question was Charles Adolphus
Bannerbridge. It was, indeed, my old, one of my oldest friends; the same
by whom I had been led to a feast and an evening of fun when a little
fellow starting in the London streets. Sure of learning the whole truth
from old Mr. Bannerbridge, I walked to his office and heard that he had
suddenly been taken ill. I strode on to his house, and entered a house
of mourning. The kind old man, remembered by me so vividly, had died
overnight. Miss Bannerbridge perceived that I had come on an errand, and
with her gentle good breeding led me to speak of it. She knew nothing
whatever of the sum of money. She was, however, aware that an annuity
had been regularly paid through the intervention of her father. I was
referred by her to a Mr. Richards, his recently-established partner.
This gentleman was ignorant of the whole transaction.
Throughout the day I strove to combat the pressure of evidence in favour
of the idea that an acknowledgement of special claims had been wrested
from the enemy. Temple hardly helped me, though his solid sense was dead
against the notions entertained by my father and Jorian DeWitt, and
others besides, our elders. The payment of the sum through the same
channel which supplied the annuity, pointed distinctly to an admission of
a claim, he inclined to think, and should be supposed to come from a
personage having cause either to fear him or to assist him. He set my
speculations astray by hinting that the request for the stopping of the
case might be a blind. A gift of money, he said shrewdly, was a
singularly weak method of inducing a man to stop the suit of a life-time.
I thought of Lady Edbury; but her income was limited, and her expenditure
was not of Lady Sampleman, but it was notorious that she loved her purse
as well as my aunt Dorothy, and was even more, in the squire's phrase,
'a petticoated parsimony.' Anna Penrhys appeared the likelier, except for
the fact that the commencement of the annuity was long before our
acquaintance with her. I tried her on the subject. Her amazement was
without a shadow of reserve. 'It 's Welsh, it's not English,' she
remarked. I knew no Welshwoman save Anna.
'Do you know the whole of his history?' said she. Possibly one of the
dozen unknown episodes in it might have furnished the clue, I agreed with
The sight of twenty-one thousand pounds placed to my credit in the Funds
assuaged my restless spirit of investigation. Letters from the squire
and my aunt Dorothy urged me to betake myself to Riversley, there finally
to decide upon what my course should be.
'Now that you have the money, pray,' St. Parsimony wrote,--'pray be
careful of it. Do not let it be encroached on. Remember it is to serve
one purpose. It should be guarded strictly against every appeal for
aid,' etc., with much underlining.
My grandfather returned the papers. His letter said 'I shall not break
my word. Please to come and see me before you take steps right or left.'
So here was the dawn again.
I could in a day or two start for Sarkeld. Meanwhile, to give my father
a lesson, I discharged a number of bills, and paid off the bond to which
Edbury's name was attached. My grandfather, I knew, was too sincerely
and punctiliously a gentleman in practical conduct to demand a further
inspection of my accounts. These things accomplished, I took the train
for Riversley, and proceeded from the station to Durstan, where I knew
Heriot to be staying. Had I gone straight to my grandfather, there would
have been another story to tell.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Bandied the weariful shuttlecock of gallantry
Determine that the future is in our debt, and draw on it
Faith works miracles. At least it allows time for them
He whipped himself up to one of his oratorical frenzies
I was discontented, and could not speak my discontent
No Act to compel a man to deny what appears in the papers
Puns are the smallpox of the language
Stultification of one's feelings and ideas
They dare not. The more I dare, the less dare they
Too prompt, too full of personal relish of his point
THE ADVENTURES OF HARRY RICHMOND
By George Meredith
XLV. WITHIN AN INCH OF MY LIFE .
XLVI. AMONG GIPSY WOMEN
XLVII. MY FATHER ACTS THE CHARMER AGAIN
XLVIII. THE PRINCESS ENTRAPPED
XLIX. WHICH FORESHADOWS A GENERAL GATHERING
L. WE ARE ALL IN MY FATHER'S NET
LI. AN ENCOUNTER SHOWING MY FATHER'S GENIUS IN A STRONG LIGHT
WITHIN AN INCH OF MY LIFE
A single tent stood in a gully running from one of the gravel-pits of the
heath, near an iron-red rillet, and a girl of Kiomi's tribe leaned over
the lazy water at half length, striking it with her handkerchief. At a
distance of about twice a stone's-throw from the new carriage-road
between Durstan and Bulsted, I fancied from old recollections she might
be Kiomi herself. This was not the time for her people to be camping on
Durstan. Besides, I feared it improbable that one would find her in any
of the tracks of her people. The noise of the wheels brought the girl's
face round to me. She was one of those who were babies in the tents when
I was a boy. We were too far apart for me to read her features. I lay
back in the carriage, thinking that it would have been better for my poor
little wild friend if I had never crossed the shadow of her tents. A
life caught out of its natural circle is as much in danger of being lost
as a limb given to a wheel in spinning machinery; so it occurred to me,
until I reflected that Prince Ernest might make the same remark, and
deplore the damage done to the superior machinery likewise.
My movements appeared to interest the girl. She was up on a mound of the
fast-purpling heath, shading her eyes to watch me, when I called at
Bulsted lodge-gates to ask for a bed under Julia's roof that night. Her
bare legs twinkled in a nimble pace on the way to Durstan Hall, as if she
was determined to keep me in sight. I waved my hand to her. She
stopped. A gipsy's girl's figure is often as good an index to her mind
as her face, and I perceived that she had not taken my greeting
favourably; nor would she advance a step to my repeated beckonings; I
tried hat, handkerchief, purse, in vain. My driver observed that she was
taken with a fit of the obstinacy of 'her lot.' He shouted, 'Silver,' and
then 'Fortune.' She stood looking. The fellow discoursed on the nature
of gipsies. Foxes were kept for hunting, he said; there was reason in
that. Why we kept gipsies none could tell. He once backed a gipsy
prizefighter, who failed to keep his appointment. 'Heart sunk too low
below his belt, sir. You can't reckon on them for performances. And
that same man afterwards fought the gamest fight in the chronicles o' the
Ring! I knew he had it in him. But they're like nothing better than the
weather; you can't put money on 'em and feel safe.' Consequently he saw
no good in them.
'She sticks to her post,' he said, as we turned into the Durstan grounds.
The girl was like a flag-staff on the upper line of heathland.
Heriot was strolling, cigar in mouth, down one of the diminutive alleys
of young fir in this upstart estate. He affected to be prepossessed by
the case between me and Edbury, and would say nothing of his own affairs,
save that he meant to try for service in one of the Continental armies;
he whose susceptible love for his country was almost a malady. But he
had given himself to women it was Cissy this, Trichy that, and the wiles
of a Florence, the spites of an Agatha, duperies, innocent-seemings,
witcheries, reptile-tricks of the fairest of women, all through his
conversation. He had so saturated himself with the resources, evasions,
and desperate cruising of these light creatures of wind, tide, and
tempest, that, like one who has been gazing on the whirligoround, he saw
the whole of women running or only waiting for a suitable partner to run
the giddy ring to perdition and an atoning pathos.
I cut short one of Heriot's narratives by telling him that this picking
bones of the dish was not to my taste. He twitted me with turning
parson. I spoke of Kiomi. Heriot flushed, muttering, 'The little
devil!' with his usual contemplative relish of devilry. We parted,
feeling that severe tension of the old links keeping us together which
indicates the lack of new ones: a point where simple affection must bear
the strain of friendship if it can. Heriot had promised to walk half-way
with me to Bulsted, in spite of Lady Maria's childish fears of some
attack on him. He was now satisfied with a good-bye at the hall-doors,
and he talked ostentatiously of a method that he had to bring Edbury up
to the mark. I knew that same loud decreeing talk to be a method on his
own behalf of concealing his sensitive resentment at the tone I had
adopted: Lady Maria's carriage had gone to fetch her husband from a
political dinner. My portmanteau advised me to wait for its return.
Durstan and Riversley were at feud, however, owing to some powerful rude
English used toward the proprietor of the former place by the squire; so
I thought it better to let one of the grooms shoulder my luggage, and
The night was dark; he chose the roadway, and I crossed the heath,
meeting an exhilarating high wind that made my blood race: Egoism is not
peculiar to any period of life; it is only especially curious in a young
man beginning to match himself against his elders, for in him it suffuses
the imagination; he is not merely selfishly sentient, or selfishly
scheming: his very conceptions are selfish. I remember walking at my
swiftest pace, blaming everybody I knew for insufficiency, for want of
subordination to my interests, for poverty of nature, grossness,
blindness to the fine lights shining in me; I blamed the Fates for
harassing me, circumstances for not surrounding me with friends worthy of
me. The central 'I' resembled the sun of this universe, with the
difference that it shrieked for nourishment, instead of dispensing it.
My monstrous conceit of elevation will not suffer condensation into
sentences. What I can testify to is, that for making you bless the legs
you stand on, a knockdown blow is a specific. I had it before I knew
that a hand was up. I should have fancied that I had run athwart a tree,
but for the recollection, as I was reeling to the ground, of a hulk of a
fellow suddenly fronting me, and he did not hesitate with his fist. I
went over and over into a heathery hollow. The wind sang shrill through
the furzes; nothing was visible but black clumps, black cloud.
Astonished though I was, and shaken, it flashed through me that this was
not the attack of a highwayman. He calls upon you to stand and deliver:
it is a foe that hits without warning. The blow took me on the forehead,
and might have been worse. Not seeing the enemy, curiosity was almost as
strong in me as anger; but reflecting that I had injured no one I knew
of, my nerves were quickly at the right pitch. Brushing some spikes of
furze off my hands, I prepared for it. A cry rose. My impression seemed
to be all backward, travelling up to me a moment or two behind time. I
recognised a strange tongue in the cry, but too late that it was Romany
to answer it. Instantly a voice was audible above the noisy wind: 'I
spot him.' Then began some good and fair fighting. I got my footing on
grass, and liked the work. The fellow facing me was unmistakably gipsy-
build. I, too, had length of arm, and a disposition to use it by hitting
straight out, with footing firm, instead of dodging and capering, which
told in my favour, and is decidedly the best display of the noble art on
a dark night.
My dancer went over as neatly as I had preceded him; and therewith I
considered enough was done for vengeance. The thrill of a salmon on the
gut is known to give a savage satisfaction to our original nature; it is
but an extension and attenuation of the hearty contentment springing from
a thorough delivery of the fist upon the prominent features of an
assailant that yields to it perforce. Even when you receive such perfect
blows you are half satisfied. Feeling conqueror, my wrath was soothed; I
bent to have a look at my ruffian, and ask him what cause of complaint
gipsies camping on Durstan could find against Riversley. A sharp stroke
on the side of my neck sent me across his body. He bit viciously. In
pain and desperation I flew at another of the tawny devils. They
multiplied. I took to my heels; but this was the vainest of stratagems,
they beat me in nimbleness. Four of them were round me when I wheeled
breathless to take my chance at fighting the odds. Fiery men have not
much notion of chivalry: gipsies the least of all. They yelled disdain
of my summons to them to come on one by one: 'Now they had caught me, now
they would pay me, now they would pound me; and, standing at four
corners, they commended me to think of becoming a jelly. Four though
they were, they kept their positions; they left it to me to rush in for a
close; the hinder ones held out of arms' reach so long as I was
disengaged. I had perpetually to shift my front, thinking--Oh, for a
stick! any stout bit of timber! My fists ached, and a repetition of
nasty dull knocks on back and neck, slogging thumps dealt by men getting
to make sure of me, shattered my breathing.
I cried out for a pause, offered to take a couple of them at a time: I
challenged three-the fourth to bide. I was now the dancer: left, right,
and roundabout I had to swing, half-stunned, half-strangled with gorge.
Those terrible blows in the back did the mischief. Sickness threatened
to undermine me. Boxers have breathing-time: I had none. Stiff and
sick, I tried to run; I tottered, I stood to be knocked down, I dropped
like a log-careless of life. But I smelt earth keenly, and the damp
grass and the devil's play of their feet on my chin, chest, and thighs,
revived a fit of wrath enough to set me staggering on my legs again.
They permitted it, for the purpose of battering me further. I passed
from down to up mechanically, and enjoyed the chestful of air given me in
the interval of rising: thought of Germany and my father, and Janet at
her window, complacently; raised a child's voice in my throat for mercy,
quite inaudible, and accepted my punishment. One idea I had was, that I
could not possibly fail as a speaker after this--I wanted but a minute's
grace to fetch breath for an oration, beginning, 'You fools!' for I
guessed that they had fallen upon the wrong man. Not a second was
allowed. Soon the shrewd physical bracing, acting momentarily on my
brain, relaxed; the fitful illumination ceased: all ideas faded out-clung
about my beaten body-fled. The body might have been tossed into its
grave, for aught I knew.
AMONG GIPSY WOMEN
I cannot say how long it was after my senses had gone when I began to
grope for them on the warmest of heaving soft pillows, and lost the
slight hold I had on them with the effort. Then came a series of
climbings and fallings, risings to the surface and sinkings fathoms
below. Any attempt to speculate pitched me back into darkness. Gifted
with a pair of enormous eyes, which threw surrounding objects to a
distance of a mile away, I could not induce the diminutive things to
approach; and shutting eyes led to such a rolling of mountains in my
brain, that, terrified by the gigantic revolution, I lay determinedly
staring; clothed, it seemed positive, in a tight-fitting suit of sheet-
lead; but why? I wondered why, and immediately received an extinguishing
blow. My pillow was heavenly; I was constantly being cooled on it, and
grew used to hear a croon no more musical than the unstopped reed above
my head; a sound as of a breeze about a cavern's mouth, more soothing
than a melody. Conjecture of my state, after hovering timidly in dread
of relapses, settled and assured me I was lying baked, half-buried in an
old river-bed; moss at my cheek, my body inextricable; water now and then
feebly striving to float me out, with horrid pain, with infinite
refreshingness. A shady light, like the light through leafage, I could
see; the water I felt. Why did it keep trying to move me? I questioned
and sank to the depths again.
The excruciated patient was having his wet bandages folded across his
bruises, and could not bear a motion of the mind.
The mind's total apathy was the sign of recovering health. Kind nature
put that district to sleep while she operated on the disquieted lower
functions. I looked on my later self as one observes the mossy bearded
substances travelling blind along the undercurrent of the stream,
clinging to this and that, twirling absurdly.
Where was I? Not in a house. But for my condition of absolute calm,
owing to skilful treatment, open air, and physical robustness, the scene
would have been of a kind to scatter the busy little workmen setting up
the fabric of my wits. A lighted oil-cup stood on a tripod in the middle
of a tent-roof, and over it the creased neck and chin of a tall old
woman, splendid in age, reddened vividly; her black eyes and grey brows,
and greyishblack hair fell away in a dusk of their own. I thought her
marvellous. Something she held in her hands that sent a thin steam
between her and the light. Outside, in the A cutting of the tent's
threshold, a heavy-coloured sunset hung upon dark land. My pillow
meantime lifted me gently at a regular measure, and it was with
untroubled wonder that I came to the knowledge of a human heart beating
within it. So soft could only be feminine; so firm still young. The
bosom was Kiomi's. A girl sidled at the opening of the tent, peeping in,
and from a mufed rattle of subpectoral thunder discharged at her in quick
heated snaps, I knew Kiomi's voice. After an altercation of their
monotonous gipsy undertones, the girl dropped and crouched outside.
It was morning when I woke next, stronger, and aching worse. I was lying
in the air, and she who served for nurse, pillow, parasol, and bank of
herbage, had her arms round beneath mine cherishingly, all the fingers
outspread and flat on me, just as they had been when I went to sleep.
'Now, you be quiet.'
'Can I stand up a minute or two?'
'No, and you won't talk.'
I submitted. This was our duel all day: she slipped from me only twice,
and when she did the girl took her place.
I began to think of Bulsted and Riversley.
'Kiomi, how long have I been here?'
'You 'll be twice as long as you've been.'
'A couple of days?'
'More like a dozen.'
'Just tell me what happened.'
'Ghm-m-m,' she growled admonishingly.
Reflecting on it, I felt sure there must have been searching parties over
'Kiomi, I say, how was it they missed me?'
She struck at once on my thought.
'How did you cheat them?'
'I didn't tie a handkercher across their eyes.'
'You half smothered me once, in the combe.'
'You go to sleep.'
'Have you been doctor?'
The growling tigerish 'Ghm-m-m' constrained me to take it for a lullaby.
'Kiomi, why the deuce did your people attack me?' She repeated the sound
resembling that which sometimes issues from the vent of a mine; but I
insisted upon her answering.
'I 'll put you down and be off,' she threatened.