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The Amazing Marriage, Complete by George Meredith

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Woodseer's fly,' Livia mildly addressed her squire. He stared: again he
had to go, muttering: 'That nondescript's footman!' and his mischance in
being checked and crossed and humiliated perpetually by a dirty-fisted
vagabond impostor astounded him. He sent the flyman to the carriage for
orders.

Admiral Fakenham and Carinthia descended. Sir Meeson heard her cry out:
'Is it you!' and up stood the pretentious lout in the German sack,
affecting the graces of a born gentleman fresh from Paris,--bowing,
smirking, excusing himself for something; and he jumped down to the young
lady, he talked intimately with her, with a joker's air; he roused the
admiral to an exchange of jokes, and the countess and Miss Fakenham more
than smiled; evidently at his remarks, unobservant of the preposterous
figure he cut. Sir Meeson Corby had intimations of the disintegration of
his country if a patent tramp burlesquing in those clothes could be
permitted to amuse English ladies of high station, quite at home with
them. Among the signs of England's downfall, this was decidedly one.
What to think of the admiral's favourite when, having his arm paternally
on her shoulder, she gave the tramp her hand at parting, and then
blushed! All that the ladies had to say about it was, that a spread of
colour rather went to change the character of her face.

Carinthia had given Woodseer her hand and reddened under the recollection
of Chillon's words to her as they mounted the rise of the narrow vale,
after leaving the lame gentleman to his tobacco on the grass below the
rocks. Her brother might have counselled her wisely and was to be
obeyed. Only, the great pleasure in seeing the gentleman again inspired
gratitude: he brought the scene to her; and it was alive, it chatted and
it beckoned; it neighboured her home; she had passed it on her walk away
from her home; the gentleman was her link to the mountain paths; he was
just outside an association with her father and mother. At least, her
thinking of them led to him, he to them. Now that she had lost Chillon,
no one was near to do so much. Besides, Chillon loved Henrietta; he was
her own. His heart was hers and his mind his country's. This gentleman
loved the mountains; the sight of him breathed mountain air. To see him
next day was her anticipation: for it would be at the skirts of hilly
forest land, where pinetrees are a noble family, different from the dusty
firs of the weariful plains, which had tired her eyes of late.

Baden was her first peep at the edges of the world since she had grown to
be a young woman. She had but a faint idea of the significance of
gambling. The brilliant lights, the band music, the sitting groups and
company of promenaders were novelties; the Ball of the ensuing night at
the Schloss would be a wonder, she acknowledged in response to Henrietta,
who was trying to understand her; and she admired her ball-dress, she
said, looking unintelligently when she heard that she would be guilty of
slaying numbers of gentlemen before the night was over. Madame Clemence
thought her chances in that respect as good as any other young lady's,
if only she could be got to feel interested. But at a word of the pine
forest, and saying she intended to climb the hills early with the light
in the morning, a pointed eagerness flushed Carinthia, the cold engraving
became a picture of colour.

She was out with the earliest light. Yesterday's parting between Chillon
and Henrietta had taught her to know some little about love; and if her
voice had been heeded by Chillon's beloved, it would not have been a
parting. Her only success was to bring a flood of tears from Henrietta.
The tears at least assured her that her brother's beautiful girl had no
love for the other one,--the young nobleman of the great wealth, who was
to be at the Ball, and had 'gone flying,' Admiral Fakenham shrugged to
say; for Lord Fleetwood was nowhere seen.

The much talk of him on the promenade overnight fetched his name to her
thoughts; he scarcely touched a mind that her father filled when she was
once again breathing early morning air among the stems of climbing pines,
broken alleys of the low-sweeping spruce branches and the bare straight
shafts carrying their heads high in the march upward. Her old father was
arch-priest of such forest land, always recoverable to her there. The
suggestion of mountains was enough to make her mind play, and her old
father and she were aware of one another without conversing in speech.
He pointed at things to observe; he shared her satisfied hunger for the
solitudes of the dumb and growing and wild sweet-smelling. He would not
let a sorrowful thought backward or an apprehensive idea forward disturb
the scene. A half-uprooted pine-tree stem propped mid-fall by standing
comrades, and the downy drop to ground and muted scurry up the bark of
long-brush squirrels, cocktail on the wary watch, were noticed by him as
well as by her; even the rotting timber drift, bark and cones on the
yellow pine needles, and the tortuous dwarf chestnut pushing level out,
with a strain of the head up, from a crevice of mossed rock, among ivy
and ferns; he saw what his girl saw. Power of heart was her conjuring
magician.

She climbed to the rock-slabs above. This was too easily done. The poor
bit of effort excited her frame to desire a spice of danger, her walk was
towering in the physical contempt of a mountain girl for petty lowland
obstructions. And it was just then, by the chance of things--by the
direction of events, as Dame Gossip believes it to be--while colour,
expression, and her proud stature marked her from her sex, that a
gentleman, who was no other than Lord Fleetwood, passed Carinthia,
coming out of the deeper pine forest.

Some distance on, round a bend of the path, she was tempted to adventure
by a projected forked head of a sturdy blunted and twisted little rock-
fostered forest tree pushing horizontally for growth about thirty feet
above the lower ground. She looked on it, and took a step down to the
stem soon after.

Fleetwood had turned and followed, merely for the final curious peep at
an unexpected vision; he had noticed the singular shoot of thick timber
from the rock, and the form of the goose-neck it rose to, the sprout of
branches off the bill in the shape of a crest. And now a shameful spasm
of terror seized him at sight of a girl doing what he would have dreaded
to attempt. She footed coolly, well-balanced, upright. She seated
herself.

And there let her be. She was a German girl, apparently. She had an air
of breeding, something more than breeding. German families of the nobles
give out, here and there, as the Great War showed examples of, intrepid
young women, who have the sharp lines of character to render them
independent of the graces. But, if a young woman out alone in the woods
was hardly to be counted among the well-born, she held rank above them.
Her face and bearing might really be taken to symbolize the forest life.
She was as individual a representative as the Tragic and Comic masks, and
should be got to stand between them for sign of the naturally straight-
growing untrained, a noble daughter of the woods.

Not comparable to Henrietta in feminine beauty, she was on an upper
plateau, where questions as to beauty are answered by other than the
shallow aspect of a girl. But would Henrietta eclipse her if they were
side by side? Fleetwood recalled the strange girl's face. There was in
it a savage poignancy in serenity unexampled among women--or modern
women. One might imagine an apotheosis of a militant young princess of
Goths or Vandals, the glow of blessedness awakening her martial ardours
through the languor of the grave:--Woodseer would comprehend and hit on
the exact image to portray her in a moment, Fleetwood thought, and longed
for that fellow.

He walked hurriedly back to the stunted rock tree. The damsel had
vanished. He glanced below. She had not fallen. He longed to tell
Woodseer he had seen a sort of Carinthia sister, cousin, one of the
family. A single glimpse of her had raised him out of his grovelling
perturbations, cooled and strengthened him, more than diverting the
course of the poison Henrietta infused, and to which it disgraced him
to be so subject. He took love unmanfully; the passion struck at his
weakness; in wrath at the humiliation, if only to revenge himself for
that, he could be fiendish; he knew it, and loathed the desired fair
creature who caused and exposed to him these cracks in his nature, whence
there came a brimstone stench of the infernal pits. And he was made for
better. Of this he was right well assured. Superior to station and to
wealth, to all mundane advantages, he was the puppet of a florid puppet
girl; and he had slept at the small inn of a village hard by, because it
was intolerable to him to see the face that had been tearful over her
lover's departure, and hear her praises of the man she trusted to keep
his word, however grievously she wounded him.

He was the prisoner of his word;--rather like the donkeys known as
married men: rather more honourable than most of them. He had to be
present at the ball at the Schloss and behold his loathed Henrietta,
suffer torture of chains to the rack, by reason of his having promised
the bitter coquette he would be there. So hellish did the misery seem to
him, that he was relieved by the prospect of lying a whole day long in
loneliness with the sunshine of the woods, occasionally conjuring up the
antidote face of the wood-sprite before he was to undergo it. But,
as he was not by nature a dreamer, only dreamed of the luxury of being
one, he soon looked back with loathing on a notion of relief to come from
the state of ruminating animal, and jumped up and shook off another of
men's delusions--that they can, if they have the heart to suffer pain,
deaden it with any semi-poetical devices, similar to those which Rufus
Abrane's 'fiddler fellow' practised and was able to carry out because he
had no blood. The spite of a present entire opposition to Woodseer's
professed views made him exult in the thought, that the mouther of
sentences was likely to be at work stultifying them and himself in the
halls there below during the day. An imp of mischief offered consolatory
sport in those halls of the Black Goddess; already he regarded his recent
subservience to the conceited and tripped peripatetic philosopher as
among the ignominies he had cast away on his road to a general contempt;
which is the position of a supreme elevation for particularly sensitive
young men.

Pleasure in the scenery had gone, and the wood-sprite was a flitted
vapour; he longed to be below there, observing Abrane and Potts and the
philosopher confounded, and the legible placidity of Countess Livia.
Nevertheless, he hung aloft, feeding where he could, impatient of the
solitudes, till night, when, according to his guess, the ladies were at
their robing.

Half the fun was over: but the tale of it, narrated in turn by Abrane and
his Chummy Potts on the promenade, was a very good half. The fiddler had
played for the countess and handed her back her empty purse, with a bow
and a pretty speech. Nothing had been seen of him since. He had lost
all his own money besides. 'As of course he would,' said Potts. 'A
fellow calculating the chances catches at a knife in the air.'

'Every franc-piece he had!' cried Abrane. 'And how could the jackass
expect to keep his luck! Flings off his old suit and comes back here
with a rig of German bags--you never saw such a figure!--Shoreditch Jew's
holiday!--why, of course, the luck wouldn't stand that.'

They confessed ruefully to having backed him a certain distance,
notwithstanding. 'He took it so coolly, just as if paying for goods
across a counter.'

'And he had something to bear, Braney, when you fell on him,' said Potts,
and murmured aside: 'He can be smartish. Hears me call Braney Rufus, and
says he, like a fellow-chin on his fiddle--"Captain Mountain, Rufus Mus'.
Not bad, for a counter."'

Fleetwood glanced round: he could have wrung Woodseer's hand. He saw
young Cressett instead, and hailed him: 'Here you are, my gallant! You
shall flash your maiden sword tonight. When I was under your age by a
long count, I dealt sanctimoniousness a flick o' the cheek, and you
shall, and let 'em know you're a man. Come and have your first boar-hunt
along with me. Petticoats be hanged.'

The boy showed some recollection of the lectures of his queen, but he had
not the vocables for resistance to an imperative senior at work upon
sneaking inclinations. 'Promised Lady F.'--do you hear him?' Fleetwood
called to the couple behind; and as gamblers must needs be parasites,
manly were the things they spoke to invigorate the youthful plunger and
second the whim of their paymaster.

At half-past eleven, the prisoner of his word entered under the Schloss
partico, having vowed to himself on the way, that he would satisfy the
formulas to gain release by a deferential bow to the great personages,
and straightway slip out into the heavenly starlight, thence down among
the jolly Parisian and Viennese Bacchanals.

CHAPTER XII

HENRIETTA'S LETTER TREATING OF THE GREAT EVENT

By the first light of an autumn morning, Henrietta sat at her travelling-
desk, to shoot a spark into the breast of her lover with the story of the
great event of the night. For there had been one, one of our biggest,
beyond all tongues and trumpets and possible anticipations. Wonder at it
hammered on incredulity as she wrote it for fact, and in writing had
vision of her lover's eyes over the page.

'Monsieur Du Lac!

'Grey Dawn. 'You are greeted. This, if you have been tardy on the
journey home, will follow close on the heels of the prowest, I believe
truest, of knights, and bear perhaps to his quick mind some help to the
solution he dropped a hint of seeking.

'The Ball in every way a success. Grand Duke and Duchess perfect in
courtesy, not a sign of the German morgue. Livia splendid. Compared to
Day and Night. But the Night eclipses the Day. A summer sea of dancing.
Who, think you, eclipsed those two?

'I tell you the very truth when I say your Carinthia did. If you had
seen her,--the "poor dear girl" you sigh to speak of,--with the doleful
outlook on her fortunes: "portionless, unattractive!" Chillon, she was
magical!

You cannot ever have seen her irradiated with happiness. Her pleasure in
the happiness of all around her was part of the charm. One should be a
poet to describe her. It would task an artist to paint the rose-crystal
she became when threading her way through the groups to be presented.
This is not meant to say that she looked beautiful. It was the something
above beauty--more unique and impressive--like the Alpine snow-cloak
towering up from the flowery slopes you know so well and I a little.

'You choose to think, is it Riette who noticed my simple sister so
closely before . . .? for I suppose you to be reading this letter a
second time and reflecting as you read. In the first place, acquaintance
with her has revealed that she is not the simple person--only in her
manner. Under the beams of subsequent events, it is true I see her more
picturesquely. But I noticed also just a suspicion of the "grenadier"
stride when she was on the march to make her curtsey. But Livia had no
cause for chills and quivers. She was not the very strange bird
requiring explanatory excuses; she dances excellently, and after the
first dance, I noticed she minced her steps in the walk with her partner.
She catches the tone readily. If not the image of her mother, she has
inherited her mother's bent for the graces; she needs but a small amount
of practice.

'Take my assurance of that; and you know who has critical eyes. Your
anxiety may rest; she is equal to any station.

'As expected by me, my Lord Tyrant appeared, though late, near midnight.
I saw him bowing to the Ducal party. Papa had led your "simple sister"
there. Next I saw the Tyrant and Carinthia conversing. Soon they were
dancing together, talking interestedly, like cheerful comrades. Whatever
his faults, he has the merit of being a man of his word. He said he
would come, he did not wish to come, and he came.

'His word binds him--I hope not fatally; irrevocably, it certainly does.
There is charm of character in that. His autocrat airs can be forgiven
to a man who so profoundly respects his word.

'It occurred during their third dance. Your Riette was not in the
quadrille. O but she was a snubbed young woman last night! I refrain
--the examples are too minute for quotation.

'A little later and he had vanished. Carinthia Kirby may already be
written Countess of Fleetwood! His hand was offered and hers demanded in
plain terms. Her brother would not be so astounded if he had seen the
brilliant creature she was--is, I could say; for when she left me here,
to go to her bed, she still wore the "afterglow." She tripped over to me
in the ball-room to tell me. I might doubt, she had no doubt whatever.
I fancied he had subjected her to some degree of trifling. He was in a
mood. His moods are known to me. But no, he was precise; her report of
him strikes the ear as credible, in spite of the marvel it insists on our
swallowing.

"'Lord Fleetwood had asked me to marry him." Neither assurance nor
bashfulness; newspaper print; aid an undoubting air of contentment.

'Imagine me hearing it.

'"To be his wife?"

'"He said wife."

'"And you replied?"

'"I--said I would."

'"Tell me all?"

'"He said we were plighted."

'Now, "wife" is one of the words he abhors; and he loathes the hearing of
a girl as "engaged." However, "plighted" carried a likeness.

'I pressed her: "My dear Carinthia, you thought him in earnest?"

'"He was."

'"How do you judge?"

'"By his look when he spoke."

'"Not by his words?"

"'I repeat them to you."

'She has repeated them to me here in my bedroom. There is no variation.
She remembers every syllable. He went so far as to urge her to say
whether she would as willingly utter consent if they were in a church and
a clergyman at the altar-rails.

'That was like him.

'She made answer: "Wherever it may be, I am bound, if I say yes."

'She then adds: "He told me he joined hands with me."

'"Did he repeat the word 'wife'?"

'"He said it twice."

'I transcribe verbatim scrupulously. There cannot be an error, Chillon.
It seems to show, that he has embraced the serious meaning of the word--
or seriously embraced the meaning, reads' better. I have seen his lips
form "wife."

'But why wonder so staringly? They both love the mountains. Both are
wildish. She was looking superb. And he had seen her do a daring thing
on the rocks on the heights in the early morning, when she was out by
herself, unaware of a spectator, he not knowing who she was;--the Fates
had arranged it so. That was why he took to her so rapidly. So he told
her. She likes being admired. The preparation for the meeting does
really seem "under direction." She likes him too, I do think. Between
her repetitions of his compliments, she praised his tone of voice, his
features. She is ready to have the fullest faith in the sincerity of his
offer; speaks without any impatience for the fulfilment. If it should
happen, what a change in the fortunes of a girl--of more than one,
possibly.

'Now I must rest "eyelids fall." It will be with a heart galloping.
No rest for me till this letter flies. Good morning is my good night to
you, in a world that has turned over.'

Henrietta resumes:

'Livia will not hear of it, calls up all her pretty languor to put it
aside. It is the same to-day as last night. "Why mention Russett's
nonsense to me?" Carinthia is as quietly circumstantial as at first.
She and the Tyrant talked of her native home. Very desirous to see it!
means to build a mansion there! "He said it must be the most romantic
place on earth."

'I suppose I slept. I woke with my last line to you on my lips, and the
great news thundering. He named Esslemont and his favourite--always
uninhabited--Cader Argau. She speaks them correctly. She has an
unfailing memory. The point is, that it is a memory.

'Do not forget also--Livia is affected by her distaste--that he is a
gentleman. He plays with his nobility. With his reputation of
gentleman, he has never been known to play. You will understand the
slightly hypocritical air--it is not of sufficient importance for it to
be alluded to in papa's presence--I put on with her.

'Yes, I danced nearly all the dances. One, a princeling in scarlet
uniform, appearing fresh from under earth; Prussian: a weighty young Graf
in green, between sage and bottle, who seemed to have run off a tree in
the forest, and was trimmed with silver like dew-drops: one in your
Austrian white, dragon de Boheme, if I caught his French rightly. Others
as well, a list. They have the accomplishment. They are drilled in it
young, as girls are, and so few Englishmen--even English officers. How
it may be for campaigning, you can pronounce; but for dancing, the
pantalon collant is the perfect uniform. Your critical Henrietta had not
to complain of her partners, in the absence of the one.

'I shall be haunted by visions of Chillon's amazement until I hear or we
meet. I serve for Carinthia's mouthpiece, she cannot write it, she says.
It would be related in two copybook lines, if at all.

'The amazement over London! The jewel hand of the kingdom gone in a
flash, to "a raw mountain girl," as will be said. I can hear Lady Endor,
Lady Eldritch, Lady Cowry. The reasonable woman should be Lady
Arpington. I have heard her speak of your mother, seen by her when she
was in frocks.

'Enter the "plighted." Poor Livia! to be made a dowager of by any but a
damsel of the family. She may well ridicule "that nonsense of Russett's
last night"! Carinthia kisses, embraces, her brother. I am to say:
"What Henrietta tells you is true, Chillon." She is contented though she
has not seen him again and has not the look of expecting to see him. She
still wears the kind of afterglow.

'Chillon's Viennese waltz was played by the band: played a second time,
special request, conveyed to the leader by Prince Ferdinand. True, most
true, she longs to be home across the water. But be it admitted, that to
any one loving colour, music, chivalry, the Island of Drab is an exile.
Imagine, then, the strange magnetism drawing her there! Could warmer
proof be given?

'Adieu. Livia's "arch-plotter" will weigh the letter he reads to the
smallest fraction of a fraction before he moves a step.

'I could leave it and come to it again and add and add. I foresee in
Livia's mind a dread of the aforesaid "arch," and an interdict. So the
letter must be closed, sealed and into the box, with the hand I still
call mine, though I should doubt my right if it were contested fervently.
I am singing the waltz.

'Adieu,
'Ever and beyond it,
'Your obedient Queen,
'HENRIETTA.

'P.S.-My Lord Tyrant has departed--as on other occasions. The prisoner
of his word is sure to take his airing before he presents himself to
redeem it. His valet is left to pay bills, fortunately for Livia. She
entrusted her purse yesterday to a man picked up on the road by my lord,
that he might play for her. Captain Abrane assured her he had a star,
and Mr. Potts thought him a rush compere, an adept of those dreadful
gambling tables. Why will she continue to play! The purse was returned
to her, without so much as a piece of silver in it; the man has flown.
Sir M. Corby says, he is a man whose hands betray him--or did to Sir M.;
expects to see him one day on the wrong side of the criminal bar. He
struck me as not being worse than absurd. He was, in any case, an unfit
companion, and our C. would help to rescue the Eccentric from such
complicating associates. I see worlds of good she may do. Happily, he
is no slave of the vice of gambling; so she would not suffer that
anxiety. I wish it could be subjoined, that he has no malicious pleasure
in misleading others. Livia is inconsolable over her pet, young Lord
Cressett, whom he yesterday induced to "try his luck"--with the result.
We leave, if bills are paid, in two days. Captain Abrane and Mr. Potts
left this afternoon; just enough to carry them home. Papa and your
blissful sister out driving. Riette within her four walls and signing
herself,

'THE PRISONER OF CHILLON.'

CHAPTER XIII

AN IRRUPTION. OF MISTRESS GOSSIP IN BREACH OF THE CONVENTION

'It is a dark land,' Carinthia said, on seeing our Island's lowered
clouds in swift motion, without a break of their folds, above the sheer
white cliffs.

--She said it, we know. That poor child Carinthia Jane, when first she
beheld Old England's shores, tossing in the packet-boat on a wild Channel
sea, did say it and think it, for it is in the family that she did; and
no wonder that she should, the day being showery from the bed of the sun,
after a frosty three days, at the close of autumn. We used to have an
eye of our own for English weather before printed Meteorological
Observations and Forecasts undertook to supplant the shepherd and the
poacher, and the pilot with his worn brown leather telescope tucked
beneath his arm. All three would have told you, that the end of a three
days' frost in the late season of the year and the early, is likely to
draw the warm winds from the Atlantic over Cornish Land's End and Lizard.

Quite by chance of things, Carinthia Jane looked on the land of her
father and mother for the first time under those conditions. There can
be no harm in quoting her remark. Only--I have to say it--experience
causes apprehension, that we are again to be delayed by descriptions, and
an exposition of feelings; taken for granted,--of course, in a serious
narrative; which it really seems these moderns think designed for a
frequent arrest of the actors in the story and a searching of the
internal state of this one or that one of them: who is laid out stark
naked and probed and expounded, like as in the celebrated picture by a
great painter--and we, thirsting for events as we are, are to stop to
enjoy a lecture on Anatomy. And all the while the windows of the
lecture-room are rattling, if not the whole fabric shaking, with exterior
occurrences or impatience for them to come to pass. Every explanation is
sure to be offered by the course events may take; so do, in mercy, I say,
let us bide for them.

She thought our Island all the darker because Henrietta had induced her
to talk on the boat of her mountain home and her last morning there for
the walk away with Chillon John. Soon it was to appear supernaturally
bright, a very magician's cave for brilliancy.

Now, this had happened--and comment on it to yourselves, remembering
always, that Chillon John was a lover, and a lover has his excuses,
though they will not obviate the penalties he may incur; and dreadful
they were. After reading Henrietta's letter to him, he rode out of his
Canterbury quarters across the country to the borders of Sussex, where
his uncle Lord Levellier lived, on the ridge of ironstone, near the wild
land of a forest, Croridge the name of the place. Now, Chillon John knew
his uncle was miserly, and dreaded the prospect of having to support a
niece in the wretched establishment at Lekkatts, or, as it was popularly
called, Leancats; you can understand why. But he managed to assure
himself he must in duty consult with the senior and chief member of .his
family on a subject of such importance as the proposal of marriage to his
lordship's niece.

The consultation was short: 'You will leave it to me,' his uncle said:
and we hear of business affairs between them, involving payment of moneys
due to the young man; and how, whenever he touched on them, his uncle
immediately fell back on the honour of the family and Carinthia Jane's
reputation, her good name to be vindicated, and especially that there
must be no delays, together with as close a reckoning as he could make of
the value of Lord Fleetwood's estates in Kent and in Staffordshire and
South Wales, and his house property in London.

'He will have means to support her,' said the old lord, shrugging as if
at his own incapacity for that burden.

The two then went to the workshops beside a large pond, where there was
an island bordered with birch trees and workmen's cottages near the main
building; and that was an arsenal containing every kind of sword and
lance and musket, rifle and fowling-piece and pistol, and more gunpowder
than was, I believe, allowed by law. For they were engaged in inventing
a new powder for howitzer shells, of tremendous explosive power.

Nothing further did either of them say, concerning the marriage. Nor did
Carinthia Jane hear any mention of Lord Fleetwood from her brother on the
landingplace at Dover. She was taken to Admiral Baldwin Fakenham's house
in Hampshire; and there she remained, the delight of his life, during two
months, patiently expecting and rebuking the unmaidenliness of her
expectations, as honest young women in her position used to do. So did
they sometimes wait for years; they have waited until they withered into
their graves, like the vapours of a brief winter's day: a moving picture
of a sex restrained by modesty in those purer times from the taking of
one step forward unless inquired for.

Two months she waited in our 'dark land.' January arrived, and her
brother. Henrietta communicated the news:

'My Janey, you are asked by Lord Fleetwood whether it is your wish that
he should marry you.'

Now, usually a well-born young woman's answer, if a willing one, is an
example of weak translation. Here it was the heart's native tongue,
without any roundabout, simple but direct.

'Oh, I will, I am ready, tell him.'

Remember, she was not speaking publicly.

Henrietta knew the man enough to be glad he did not hear. She herself
would have felt a little shock on his behalf: only, that answer suited
the scheme of the pair of lovers.

How far those two were innocent in not delivering the whole of Lord
Fleetwood's message to Carinthia Jane through Lord Levellier, we are
unable to learn. We may suspect the miserly nobleman of curtailing it
for his purposes; and such is my idea. But the answer would have been
the same, I am sure.

In consequence and straight away, Chillon John betakes him to Admiral
Baldwin and informs him of Lord Fleetwood's proposal on the night at
Baden, and renewal of it through the mouth of Lord Levellier, not
communicating, however (he may really not have known), the story of how
it had been wrung from the earl by a surprise movement on the part of the
one-armed old lord, who burst out on him in the street from the ambush of
a Club-window, where he had been stationed every day for a fortnight,
indefatigably to watch for the passing of the earl, as there seemed no
other way to find him. They say, indeed, there was a scene, judging by
the result, and it would have been an excellent scene for the stage;
though the two noblemen were to all appearance politely exchanging their
remarks. But the audience hearing what passes, appreciates the courteous
restraint of an attitude so contrasting with their tempers. Behind the
ostentation of civility, their words were daggers.

For it chanced, that the young earl, after a period of refuge at his
Welsh castle, supposing, as he well might, that his latest mad freak of
the proposal of his hand and title to the strange girl in a quadrille at
a foreign castle had been forgotten by her, and the risks of annoyance on
the subject had quite blown over, returned to town, happy in having done
the penance for his impulsiveness, and got clean again--that is to say,
struck off his fetters and escaped from importunities--the very morning
of the day when Lord Levellier sprang upon him! It shows the old
campaigner's shrewdness in guessing where his prey would come, and not
putting him on his guard by a call at his house. Out of the window he
looked for all the hours of light during an entire fortnight. 'In the
service of my sister's child,' he said. 'To save him from the cost of
maintaining her,' say his enemies. At any rate he did it.

He was likely to have done the worse which I suspect.

Now, the imparting of the wonderful news to Admiral Baldwin Fakenham
was, we read, the whiff of a tropical squall to lay him on his beam ends.
He could not but doubt; and his talk was like the sails of a big ship
rattling to the first puff of wind. He had to believe; and then, we
read, he was for hours like a vessel rolling in the trough of the sea.
Of course he was a disappointed father. Naturally his glance at the loss
to Henrietta of the greatest prize of the matrimonial market of all
Europe and America was vexing and saddening. Then he woke up to think of
the fortunes of his 'other girl,' as he named her, and cried: 'Crinny
catches him!'

He cried it in glee and rubbed his hands.

So thereupon, standing before him, Chillon John, from whom he had the
news, bent to him slightly, as his elegant manner was, and lengthened the
admiral's chaps with another proposal; easy, deliberate, precise, quite
the respectful bandit, if you please, determined on having his daughter
by all means, only much preferring the legal, formal, and friendly. Upon
that, in the moment of indecision, Henrietta enters, followed by Admiral
Baldwin's heroine, his Crinny, whom he embraced and kissed, congratulated
and kissed again. One sees the contrivance to soften him.

So it was done, down in that Hampshire household on the heights near the
downs, whence you might behold, off a terra firma resembling a roll of
billows, England's big battle-ships in line fronting the island; when
they were a spectacle of beauty as well as power: which now they are no
more, but will have to be, if they are both to float and to fight. For I
have, had quoted to me by a great admirer of the Old Buccaneer, one of
the dark sayings in his MAXIMS FOR MEN, where Captain John Peter Kirby
commends his fellow-men to dissatisfaction with themselves if they have
not put an end to their enemy handsomely.. And he advises the copying of
Nature in this; whose elements have always, he says, a pretty, besides a
thorough, style of doing it, when they get the better of us; and the one
by reason of the other. He instances the horse, the yacht, and chiefly
the sword, for proof, that the handsomest is the most effective. And he
prints large: 'UGLY IS ONLY HALF WAY TO A THING.' To an invention, I
suppose he intends to say. But looking on our huge foundering sea-
monsters and the disappearance of the unwieldy in Nature, and the
countenances of criminals, who are, he bids us observe, always in the
long run beaten, I seem to see a meaning our country might meditate on.

So, as I said, it was done; for Admiral Baldwin could refuse his Crinny
nothing; as little as he would deny anything to himself, the heartiest
of kindly hosts, fathers, friends. Carinthia Jane's grand good fortune
covered that pit, the question of money, somehow, and was, we may
conceive, a champagne wine in their reasoning faculties. The admiral was
in debt, Henrietta had no heritage, Chillon John was the heir of a
miserly uncle owing him sums and evading every application for them, yet
they behaved as people who had the cup of golden wishes. Perhaps it was
because Henrietta and her lover were so handsome a match as to make it
seem to them and others they must marry; and as to character, her father
could trust her to the man of her choice more readily than to the wealthy
young nobleman; of whose discreetness he had not the highest opinion. He
reconciled this view with his warm feeling for the Countess of Fleetwood
to be, by saying: 'Crinny will tame him!' His faith was in her dauntless
bold spirit, not thinking of the animal she was to tame.

Countess Livia, after receiving Henrietta's letter of information,
descended on them and thought them each and all a crazed set. Love,
as a motive of action for a woman, she considered the female's lunacy
and suicide. Men are born subject to it, happily, and thus the balance
between the lordly half of creation and the frail is rectified. We women
dress, and smile, sigh, if you like, to excite the malady. But if we are
the fools to share it, we lose our chance; instead of the queens, we are
the slaves, and instead of a life of pleasure, we pass from fever to
fever at a tyrant's caprice: he does rightly in despising us. Ay, and
many a worthy woman thinks the same. Educated in dependency as they are,
they come to the idea of love to snatch at it for their weapon of the
man's weakness. For which my lord calls them heartless, and poets are
angry with them, rightly or wrongly.

It must, I fear, be admitted for a truth, that sorrow is the portion of
young women who give the full measure of love to the engagement, marrying
for love. At least, Countess Livia could declare subsequently she had
foretold it and warned her cousin. Not another reflection do you hear
from me, if I must pay forfeit of my privilege to hurry you on past
descriptions of places and anatomy of character and impertinent talk
about philosophy in a story. When we are startled and offended by the
insinuated tracing of principal incidents to a thread-bare spot in the
nether garments of a man of no significance, I lose patience.

Henrietta's case was a secondary affair. What with her passion--it was
nothing less--and her lover's cunning arts, and her father's consent
given, and in truth the look of the two together, the dissuasion of them
from union was as likely to keep them apart as an exhortation addressed
to magnet and needle. Countess Livia attacked Carinthia Jane and the
admiral backing her. But the admiral, having given his consent to his
daughter's marriage, in consequence of the earl's pledged word to 'his
other girl,' had become a zealot for this marriage and there was only not
a grand altercation on the subject because Livia shunned annoyances.
Alone with Carinthia Jane, as she reported to Henrietta, she spoke to a
block, that shook a head and wore a thin smile and nursed its own idea of
the better knowledge of Edward Russett, Earl of Fleetwood, gained in the
run of a silly quadrille at a ball:

What is a young man's word to his partner in a quadrille?

Livia put the question, she put it twice rather sternly, and the girl
came out with: 'Oh, he meant it!'

The nature, the pride, the shifty and furious moods of Lord Fleetwood
were painted frightful to her.

She had conceived her own image of him.

Whether to set her down as an enamoured idiot or a creature not a whit
less artful than her brother, was Countess Livia's debate. Her
inclination was to misdoubt the daughter of the Old Buccaneer: she might
be simple, at her age, and she certainly was ignorant; but she clung to
her prize. Still the promise was extracted from her, that she would not
worry the earl to fulfil the word she supposed him to mean in its full
meaning.

The promise was unreluctantly yielded. No, she would not write. Admiral
Fakenham, too, engaged to leave the matter to a man of honour.

Meanwhile, Chillon John had taken a journey to Lekkatts; following which,
his uncle went to London. Lord Fleetwood heard that Miss Kirby kept him
bound. He was again the fated prisoner of his word.

And following that, not so very long, there was the announcement of the
marriage of Chillon John Kirby Levellier, Lieutenant in the King's Own
Hussars, and Henrietta, daughter of Admiral Baldwin Fakenham. A county
newspaper paragraph was quoted for its eulogy of the Beauty of Hampshire
--not too strong, those acquainted with her thought. Interest at Court
obtained an advancement for the bridegroom: he was gazetted Captain
during his honeymoon, and his prospects under his uncle's name were
considerd fair, though certain people said at the time, it was likely to
be all he would get while old Lord Levellier of Leancats remained in the
flesh.

Now, as it is good for those to tell who intend preserving their taste
for romance and hate anatomical lectures, we never can come to the exact
motives of any extraordinary piece of conduct on the part of man or
woman. Girls are to read; and the study of a boy starts from the monkey.
But no literary surgeon or chemist shall explain positively the cause of
the behaviour of men and women in their relations together; and speaking
to rescue my story, I say we must with due submission accept the facts.
We are not a bit the worse for wondering at them. So it happened that
Lord Fleetwood's reply to Lord Levellier's hammer--hammer by post and
messenger at his door, one may call it, on the subject of the celebration
of the marriage of the young Croesus and Carinthia Jane, in which there
was demand for the fixing of a date forthwith, was despatched on the day
when London had tidings of Henrietta Pakenham's wedding.

The letter, lost for many years, turned up in the hands of a Kentish
auctioneer, selling it on behalf of a farm-serving man, who had it from
Lord Levellier's cook and housemaid, among the things she brought him as
her wifely portion after her master's death, and this she had not found
saleable in her husband's village at her price, but she had got the habit
of sticking to the scraps, being proud of hearing it said that she had
skinned Leancats to some profit: and her expectation proved correct after
her own demise, for her husband putting it up at the auction; our
relative on the mother's side, Dr. Glossop, interested in the documents
and particulars of the story as he was, had it knocked down to him, in
contest with an agent of a London gentleman, going as high as two pounds
ten shillings, for the sum of two pounds and fifteen shillings. Count
the amount that makes for each word of a letter a marvel of brevity,
considering the purport! But Dr. Glossop was right in saying he had it
cheap. The value of that letter may now be multiplied by ten: nor for
that sum would he part with it.

Thus it ran, I need not refer to it in Bundle No. 3:

'MY LORD: I drive to your church-door on the fourteenth of the month
at ten A.M., to keep my appointment with Miss C. J. Kirby, if I do
not blunder the initials.
'Your lordship's obedient servant,
'FLEETWOOD.'

That letter will ever be a treasured family possession with us.

That letter was dated from Lord Fleetwood's Kentish mansion, Esslemont,
the tenth of the month. He must have quitted London for Esslemont, for
change of scene, for air, the moment after the news of Henrietta's
marriage. Carinthia Jane received the summons without transmission of
the letter from her uncle on the morning of the twelfth. It was a
peremptory summons.

Unfortunately, Admiral Fakenham, a real knight and chevalier of those
past times, would not let her mount the downs to have her farewell view
of the big ships unaccompanied by him; and partly and largely in pure
chivalry, no doubt; but her young idea of England's grandeur, as shown in
her great vessels of war, thrilled him, too, and restored his youthful
enthusiasm for his noble profession or made it effervesce. However it
was, he rode beside her and rejoiced to hear the young girl's talk of her
father as a captain of one of England's thunderers, and of the cruelty of
that Admiralty to him: at which Admiral Baldwin laughed, but had not the
heart to disagree with her, for he could belabour the Admiralty in
season, cause or no cause. Altogether he much enjoyed the ride,
notwithstanding intimations of the approach of 'his visitor,' as he
called his attacks of gout.

Riding home, however, the couple passed through a heavy rainfall, and the
next day, when he was to drive with the bride to Lekkatts, gout, the
fiercest he had ever known, chained him fast to his bed. Such are the
petty accidents affecting circumstances. They are the instruments of
Destiny.

There he lay, protesting that the ceremony could not possibly be for the
fourteenth, because Countess Livia had, he now remembered, written of her
engagement to meet Russett on the night of that day at a ball at Mrs.
Cowper Quillett's place, Canleys, lying south of the Surrey hills: a
house famed for its gatherings of beautiful women; whither Lord Fleetwood
would be sure to engage to go, the admiral now said; and it racked him
like gout in his mind, and perhaps troubled his conscience about handing
the girl to such a young man. But he was lying on his back, the posture
for memory to play the fiend with us, as we read in the BOOK of MAXIMS of
the Old Buccaneer. Admiral Baldwin wished heartily to be present at his
Crinny's wedding 'to see her launched,' if wedding it was to be, and he
vowed the date of the fourteenth, in Lord Levellier's announcement of it,
must be an error and might be a month in advance, and ought to be. But
it was sheer talking and raving for a solace to his disappointment or his
anxiety. He had to let Carinthia Jane depart under the charge of his
housekeeper, Mrs. Carthew, a staid excellent lady, poorly gifted with
observation.

Her report of the performance of the ceremony at Croridge village church,
a half mile from Lekkatts, was highly reassuring to the anxious old
admiral still lying on his back with memory and gout at their fiend's
play, and livid forecasts hovering. He had recollected that there had
been no allusion in Lord Levellier's message to settlements or any
lawyer's preliminaries, and he raged at himself for having to own it
would have been the first of questions on behalf of his daughter.

'All passed off correctly,' Mrs. Carthew said. 'The responses of the
bride and bridegroom were particularly articulate.'

She was reserved upon the question of the hospitality of Lekkatts. The
place had entertained her during her necessitated residence there, and
honour forbade her to smile concordantly at the rosy admiral's mention of
Leancats. She took occasion, however, to praise the Earl of Fleetwood's
eminently provident considerateness for his bride, inasmuch as he had
packed a hamper in his vehicle, which was a four-in-hand, driven by
himself.

Admiral Baldwin inquired: 'Bride inside?'

He was informed: 'The Countess of Fleetwood sat on the box on the left of
my lord.'

She had made no moan about the absence of bridesmaids.

'She appeared too profoundly happy to meditate an instant upon
deficiencies.'

'How did the bridegroom behave?'

'Lord Fleetwood was very methodical. He is not, or was not, voluntarily
a talker.'

'Blue coat, brass buttons, hot-house flower? old style or new?'

'His lordship wore a rather low beaver and a buttoned white overcoat, not
out of harmony with the bride's plain travelling-dress.'

'Ah! he's a good whip, men say. Keeps first-rate stables, hacks, and
bloods. Esslemont hard by will be the place for their honeymoon, I
guess. And he's a lucky dog, if he knows his luck.'

So said Admiral Baldwin. He was proceeding to say more, for he had a
prodigious opinion of the young countess and the benefit of her marriage
to the British race. As it concerned a healthy constitution and
motherhood, Mrs. Carthew coughed and retired. Nor do I reprove either
of them. The speculation and the decorum are equally commendable.
Masculine ideas are one thing; but let feminine ever be feminine, or our
civilization perishes.

At Croridge village church, then, one of the smallest churches in the
kingdom, the ceremony was performed and duly witnessed, names written in
the vestry book, the clergyman's fee, the clerk, and the pew-woman, paid
by the bridegroom. And thus we see how a pair of lovers, blind with the
one object of lovers in view; and a miserly uncle, all on edge to save
himself the expense of supporting his niece; and an idolatrous old
admiral, on his back with gout; conduced in turn and together to the
marriage gradually exciting the world's wonder, till it eclipsed the
story of the Old Buccaneer and Countess Fanny, which it caused to be
discussed afresh.

Mrs. Carthew remembered Carinthia Jane's last maiden remark and her first
bridal utterance. On the way, walking to the church of Croridge from
Lekkatts, the girl said: 'Going on my feet, I feel I continue the
mountain walk with my brother when we left our home.' And after leaving
the church, about to mount the coach, she turned to Mrs. Carthew, saying,
as she embraced her:

'A happy bride's kiss should bring some good fortune.' And looking down
from her place on the top of the coach:

'Adieu, dear Mrs. Carthew. A day of glory it is to-day.' She must
actually have had it in her sight as a day of glory: and it was a day of
the clouds off our rainy quarter, similar in every way to the day of her
stepping on English soil and saying: 'It is a dark land.' For the heart
is truly declared to be our colourist. A day having the gale in its
breast, sweeping the whole country and bending the trees for the twigs to
hiss like spray of the billows around our island, was a day of golden
splendour to the young bride of the Earl of Fleetwood, though he scarcely
addressed one syllable to her, and they sat side by side all but dumb,
he like a coachman driving an unknown lady fare, on a morning after a
night when his wife's tongue may have soured him for the sex.

CHAPTER XIV

A PENDANT OF THE FOREGOING

Mention has been omitted or forgotten by the worthy Dame, in her vagrant
fowl's treatment of a story she cannot incubate, will not relinquish, and
may ultimately addle, that the bridegroom, after walking with a
disengaged arm from the little village church at Croridge to his coach
and four at the cross of the roads to Lekkatts and the lowland, abruptly,
and as one pursuing a deferential line of conduct he had prescribed to
himself, asked his bride, what seat she would prefer.

He shouted: 'Ives!'

A person inside the coach appeared to be effectually roused.

The glass of the window dropped. The head of a man emerged. It was the
head of one of the bargefaced men of the British Isles, broad, and
battered flattish, with sentinel eyes.

In an instant the heavy-headed but not ill-looking fellow was nimble and
jumped from the coach.

'Napping, my lord,' he said.

Heavy though the look of him might be, his feet were light; they flipped
a bar of a hornpipe at a touch of the ground. Perhaps they were allowed
to go with their instinct for the dance, that his master should have a
sample of his wakefulness. He quenched a smirk and stood to take orders;
clad in a flat blue cap, a brown overcoat, and knee-breeches, as the
temporary bustle of his legs had revealed.

Fleet-wood heard the young lady say: 'I would choose, if you please, to
sit beside you.'

He gave a nod of enforced assent, glancing at the vacated box.

The man inquired: 'A knee and a back for the lady to mount up, my lord?'

'In!' was the smart command to him; and he popped in with the agility of
his popping out.

Then Carinthia made reverence to the grey lean figure of her uncle and
kissed Mrs. Carthew. She needed no help to mount the coach. Fleetwood's
arm was rigidly extended, and he did not visibly wince when this foreign
girl sprang to the first hand-grip on the coach and said: 'No, my
husband, I can do it'; unaided,' was implied.

Her stride from the axle of the wheel to the step higher would have been
a graceful spectacle on Alpine crags.

Fleetwood swallowed that, too, though it conjured up a mocking
recollection of the Baden woods, and an astonished wild donkey preparing
himself for his harness. A sour relish of the irony in his present
position sharpened him to devilish enjoyment of it, as the finest form
of loathing: on the principle that if we find ourselves consigned to the
nether halls, we do well to dance drunkenly. He had cried for Romance--
here it was!

He raised his hat to Mrs. Carthew and to Lord Levellier. Previous to the
ceremony, the two noblemen had interchanged the short speech of mannered
duellists punctiliously courteous in the opening act. Their civility was
maintained at the termination of the deadly work. The old lord's bosom
thanked the young one for not requiring entertainment and a repast; the
young lord's thanked the old one for a strict military demeanour at an
execution and the abstaining from any nonsensical talk over the affair.

A couple of liveried grooms at the horses' heads ran and sprang to the
hinder seats as soon as their master had taken the reins. He sounded the
whip caressingly: off those pretty trotters went.

Mrs. Carthew watched them, waving to the bride. She was on the present
occasion less than usually an acute or a reflective observer, owing to
her admiration of lordly state and masculine commandership; and her
thought was: 'She has indeed made a brilliant marriage!'

The lady thought it, notwithstanding an eccentricity in the wedding
ceremony, such as could not but be noticeable. But very wealthy noblemen
were commonly, perhaps necessarily, eccentric, for thus they proved
themselves egregious, which the world expected them to be.

Lord Levellier sounded loud eulogies of the illustrious driver's team.
His meditation, as he subsequently stated to Chillon, was upon his
vanquished antagonist's dexterity, in so conducting matters, that he had
to be taken at once, with naught of the customary preface and apology for
taking to himself the young lady, of which a handsome settlement, is the
memorial.

We have to suppose, that the curious occupant of the coach inside aroused
no curiosity in the pair of absorbed observers.

Speculations regarding the chances of a fall of rain followed the coach
until it sank and the backs of the two liveried grooms closed the chapter
of the wedding, introductory to the honeymoon at Esslemont, seven miles
distant by road, to the right of Lekkatts. It was out of sight that the
coach turned to the left, Northwestward.

CHAPTER XV

OPENING STAGE OF THE HONEYMOON

A famous maxim in the book of the Old Buccaneer, treating of PRECAUTION,
as 'The brave man's clean conscience,' with sound counsel to the
adventurous, has it:--

'Then you sail away into the tornado, happy as a sealed bottle of ripe
wine.'

It should mean, that brave men entering the jaws of hurricanes are found
to have cheerful hearts in them when they know they have done their best.
But, touching the picture of happiness, conceive the bounteous Bacchic
spirit in the devoutness of a Sophocles, and you find comparison
neighbour closely between the sealed wine-flask and the bride, who is
being driven by her husband to the nest of the unknown on her marriage
morn.

Seated beside him, with bosom at heave and shut mouth, in a strange land,
travelling cloud-like, rushing like the shower-cloud to the vale, this
Carinthia, suddenly wedded, passionately grateful for humbleness exalted,
virginly sensible of treasures of love to give, resembled the inanimate
and most inspiring, was mindless and inexpressive, past memory, beyond
the hopes, a thing of the thrilled blood and skylark air, since she laid
her hand in this young man's. His not speaking to her was accepted.
Her blood rather than recollection revived their exchanges during the
dance at Baden, for assurance that their likings were one, their aims
rapturously one; that he was she, she he, the two hearts making one soul.

Could she give as much as he? It was hardly asked. If we feel we can
give our breath of life, the strength of the feeling fully answers. It
bubbles perpetually from the depth like a well-spring in tumult. Two
hearts that make one soul do not separately count their gifts.

For the rest, her hunger to admire disposed her to an absorbing sentience
of his acts; the trifles, gestures, manner of this and that; which were
seized as they flew, and swiftly assimilated to stamp his personality.
Driving was the piece of skill she could not do. Her husband's mastery
of the reins endowed him with the beauty of those harmonious trotters he
guided and kept to their pace; and the humming rush of the pace, the
smooth torrent of the brown heath-knolls and reddish pits and hedge-lines
and grass-flats and copses pouring the counter-way of her advance,
belonged to his wizardry. The bearing of her onward was her abandonment
to him. Delicious as mountain air, the wind sang; it had a song of many
voices. Quite as much as on the mountains, there was the keen, the
blissful, nerve-knotting catch of the presence of danger in the steep
descents, taken as if swallowed, without swerve or check. She was in her
husband's hands. At times, at the pitch of a rapid shelving, that was
like a fall, her heart went down; and at the next throb exalted before it
rose, not reasoning why;--her confidence was in him; she was his comrade
whatever chanced. Up over the mountain-peaks she had known edged
moments, little heeded in their passage, when life is poised as a crystal
pitcher on the head, in peril of a step. Then she had been dependent on
herself. Now she had the joy of trusting to her husband.

His hard leftward eye had view of her askant, if he cared to see how she
bore the trial; and so relentlessly did he take the slopes, that the man
inside pushed out an inquiring pate, the two grooms tightened arms across
their chests. Her face was calmly set, wakeful, but unwrinkled: the
creature did not count among timid girls--or among civilized. She had
got what she wanted from her madman--mad in his impulses, mad in his
reading of honour. She was the sister of Henrietta's husband. Henrietta
bore the name she had quitted. Could madness go beyond the marrying of
the creature? He chafed at her containment, at her courage, her silence,
her withholding the brazen or the fawnish look-up, either of which he
would have hated.

He, however, was dragged to look down. Neither Gorgon nor Venus, nor a
mingling of them, she had the chasm of the face, recalling the face of
his bondage, seen first that night at Baden. It recalled and it was not
the face; it was the skull of the face, or the flesh of the spirit.
Occasionally she looked, for a twinkle or two, the creature or vision she
had been, as if to mock by reminding him. She was the abhorred delusion,
who captured him by his nerves, ensnared his word--the doing of a foul
witch. How had it leapt from his mouth? She must have worked for it.
The word spoken--she must have known it--he was bound, or the detested
Henrietta would have said: Not even true to his word!

To see her now, this girl, insisting to share his name, for a slip of his
tongue, despite the warning sent her through her uncle, had that face
much as a leaden winter landscape pretends to be the country radiant in
colour. She belonged to the order of the variable animals--a woman
indeed!--womanish enough in that. There are men who love women--the idea
of woman. Woman is their shepherdess of sheep. He loved freedom,
loathed the subjection of a partnership; could undergo it only in
adoration of an ineffable splendour. He had stepped to the altar
fancying she might keep to her part of the contract by appearing the
miracle that subdued him. Seen by light of day, this bitter object
beside him was a witch without her spells; that is, the skeleton of the
seductive, ghastliest among horrors and ironies. Let her have the credit
of doing her work thoroughly before the exposure. She had done it.
She might have helped--such was the stipulation of his mad freak in
consenting to the bondage--yes, she might have helped to soften the sting
of his wound. She was beside him bearing his name, for the perpetual
pouring of an acid on the wound that vile Henrietta--poisoned honey of a
girl!--had dealt.

He glanced down at his possession:--heaven and the yawning pit were the
contrast! Poisoned honey is after all honey while you eat it. Here
there was nothing but a rocky bowl of emptiness. And who was she? She
was the sister of Henrietta's husband. He was expected to embrace the
sister of Henrietta's husband. Those two were on their bridal tour.

This creature was also the daughter of an ancient impostor and desperado
called the Old Buccaneer; a distinguished member of the family of the
Lincolnshire Kirbys, boasting a present representative grimly acquitted,
men said, on a trial for murder. An eminent alliance! Society
considered the Earl of Fleetwood wildish, though he could manage his
affairs. He and his lawyers had them under strict control. How of
himself? The prize of the English marriage market had taken to his bosom
for his winsome bride the daughter of the Old Buccaneer. He was to mix
his blood with the blood of the Lincolnshire Kirbys, lying pallid under
the hesitating acquittal of a divided jury.

How had he come to this pass, which swung him round to think almost
regretfully of the scorned multitude of fair besiegers in the market,
some of whom had their unpoetic charms?

He was renowned and unrivalled as the man of stainless honour: the
one living man of his word. He had never broken it--never would. There
was his distinction among the herd. In that, a man is princely above
princes. The nobility of Edward Russett, Earl of Fleetwood, surpassed
the nobility of common nobles. But, by all that is holy, he pays for
his distinction.

The creature beside him is a franked issue of her old pirate of a father
in one respect--nothing frightens her. There she sits; not a screw of
her brows or her lips; and the coach rocked, they were sharp on a spill
midway of the last descent. It rocks again. She thinks it scarce worth
while to look up to reassure him. She is looking over the country.

'Have you been used to driving?' he said.

She replied: 'No, it is new to me on a coach.'

Carinthia felt at once how wild the wish or half expectation that he
would resume the glowing communion of the night which had plighted them.

She did not this time say 'my husband,' still it flicked a whip at his
ears.

She had made it more offensive, by so richly toning the official title
just won from him as to ring it on the nerves; one had to block it or be
invaded. An anticipation that it would certainly recur haunted every
opening of her mouth.

Now that it did not, he felt the gap, relieved, and yet pricked to
imagine a mimicry of her tones, for the odd foreignness of the word and
the sound. She had a voice of her own besides her courage. At the
altar, her responses had their music. No wonder: the day was hers.
'My husband' was a manner of saying 'my fish.'

He, spoke very civilly. 'Oblige me by telling me what name you are
accustomed to answer to.'

She seemed unaware of an Arctic husband, and replied: 'My father called
me Carin--short for Carinthia. My mother called me Janey; my second name
is Jane. My brother Chillon says both. Henrietta calls me Janey.'

The creature appeared dead flesh to goads. But the name of her sister-
in-law on her lips returned the stroke neatly. She spared him one whip,
to cut him with another.

'You have not informed me which of these names you prefer.'

'Oh, my husband, it is as you shall please.'

Fleetwood smartened the trot of his team, and there was a to-do with the
rakish leaders.

Fairies of a malignant humour in former days used to punish the
unhappiest of the naughty men who were not favourites, by suddenly
planting a hump on their backs. Off the bedevilled wretches pranced,
and they kicked, they snorted, whinnied, rolled, galloped, outflying the
wind, but not the dismal rider. Marriage is our incubus now. No
explanation is offered of why we are afflicted; we have simply offended,
or some one absent has offended, and we are handy. The spiteful hag of
power ties a wife to us; perhaps for the reason, that we behaved in the
spirit of a better time by being chivalrously honourable. Wives are just
as inexplicable curses, just as ineradicable and astonishing as humps
imposed on shapely backs.

Fleetwood lashed his horses until Carinthia's low cry of entreaty rose to
surprise. That stung him.

'Leave the coachman to his devices: we have an appointment and must keep
it,' he said.

'They go so willingly.'

'Good beasts, in their way.'

'I do not like the whip.'

'I have the same objection.'

They were on the level of the vale, going along a road between farms and
mansions, meadows and gardenplots and park-palings. A strong warm wind
drove the pack of clouds over the tree-tops and charged at the branches.
English scenery, animating air; a rouse to the blood and the mind.
Carinthia did not ask for hues. She had come to love of the dark land
with the warm lifting wind, the big trees and the hedges, and the stately
houses, and people requiring to be studied, who mean well and are warm
somewhere below, as chimneypots are, though they are so stiff.

English people dislike endearments, she had found. It might be that her
husband disliked any show of fondness. He would have to be studied very
much. He was not like others, as Henrietta had warned her. From
thinking of him fervidly, she was already past the marvel of the thought
that she called him husband. At the same time, a curious intimation,
gathered she knew not whence, of the word 'husband' on a young wife's
lips as being a foreign sound in England, advised her to withhold it.
His behaviour was instructing her.

'Are you weather-wise?--able to tell when the clouds will hold off or
pelt,' he said, to be very civil to a neighbour.

She collected her understanding, apparently; treating a conversational
run of the tongue as a question to be pondered; and the horses paid for
it. Ordinarily he was gentle with his beasts. He lashed at her in his
heart for perverting the humanest of men.

'Father was,' she replied.

'Oh! I have heard of him.'

Her face lightened. 'Father had a great name in England.'

'The Old Buccaneer, I think.'

'I do not know. He was a seaman of the navy, like Admiral Fakenham is.
Weather at sea, weather on the mountains, he could foretell it always.
He wrote a book; I have a copy you will read. It is a book of Maxims.
He often speaks of the weather. English weather and women, he says.
But not my mother. My mother he stood aside by herself--pas capricieuse
du tout! Because she would be out in the weather and brave the weather.
She rode, she swam, best of any woman. If she could have known you, what
pleasure for me! Mother learnt to read mountain weather from father.
I did it too. But sometimes on the high fields' upper snows it is very
surprising. Father has been caught. Here the cloud is down near the
earth and the strong wind keeps the rain from falling. How long the wind
will blow I cannot guess. But you love the mountains. We spoke . . .
And mountains' adventures we both love. I will talk French if you like,
for, I think, German you do not speak. I may speak English better than
French; but I am afraid of my English with you.'

'Dear me!' quoth Fleetwood, and he murmured politely and cursorily,
attentive to his coachman business. She had a voice that clove the noise
of the wheels, and she had a desire to talk--that was evident. Talk of
her father set her prattling. It became clear also to his not dishonest,
his impressionable mind, that her baby English might be natural. Or she
was mildly playing on it, to give herself an air.

He had no remembrance of such baby English at Baden. There, however,
she was in a state of enthusiasm--the sort of illuminated transparency
they show at the end of fireworks. Mention of her old scapegrace of a
father lit her up again. The girl there and the girl here were no doubt
the same. It could not be said that she had duped him; he had done it
for himself--acted on by a particular agency. This creature had not the
capacity to dupe. He had armed a bluntwitted young woman with his
idiocy, and she had dealt the stroke; different in scarce a degree by
nature from other young women of prey.

But her look at times, and now and then her voice, gave sign that she
counted on befooling him as well, to reconcile him to his bondage. The
calculation was excessive. No woman had done it yet. Idiocy plunged him
the step which reawakened understanding; and to keep his whole mind alert
on guard against any sort of satisfaction with his bargain, he frankly
referred to the cause. Not female arts, but nature's impulses, it was
his passion for the wondrous in the look of a woman's face, the new
morning of the idea of women in the look, and the peep into imaginary
novel character, did the trick of enslaving him. Call it idiocy. Such
it was. Once acknowledged, it is not likely to recur. An implacable
reason sits in its place, with a keen blade for efforts to carry the
imposture further afield or make it agreeable. Yet, after giving his
word to Lord Levellier, he had prodded himself to think the burden of
this wild young woman might be absurdly tolerable and a laugh at the
world.

A solicitude for the animal was marked by his inquiry 'You are not hungry
yet?'

'Oh no, not yet,' said she, oddly enlivened.

They had a hamper and were independent of stoppages for provision, he
informed her. What more delightful? cried her look, seeing the first
mid-day's rest and meal with Chillon on the walk over the mountain from
their empty home.

She could get up enthusiasm for a stocked hamper! And when told of some
business that drew him to a meadow they were nearing, she said she would
be glad to help, if she could. 'I learn quickly, I know.'

His head acquiesced. The daughter of the Old Buccaneer might learn the
business quickly, perhaps; a singularly cutting smile was on his tight
lips, in memory of a desire he had as a boy to join hands with an
Amazonian damsel and be out over the world for adventures, comrade and
bride as one. Here the creature sat. Life is the burlesque of young
dreams; or they precipitate us on the roar and grin of a recognized beast
world.

The devil possessing him gnawed so furiously that a partial mitigation of
the pain was afforded by sight of waving hats on a hill-rise of the road.
He flourished his whip. The hats continued at wind-mill work. It
signified brisk news to him, and prospect of glee to propitiate any
number of devils.

'You will want a maid to attend on you,' he said.

She replied: 'I am not used to attendance on me. Henrietta's maid would
help. I did not want her. I had no maid at home. I can do for myself.
Father and mother liked me to be very independent.'

He supposed he would have to hear her spelling her words out next.

The hill-top was gained; twenty paces of pretty trotting brought up the
coach beside an inn porch, in the style of the finish dear to whips, and
even imperative upon them, if they love their art. Two gentlemen stood
in the road, and a young woman at the inn door; a dark-haired girl of an
anxious countenance. Her puckers vanished at some signal from inside the
coach.

'All right, Madge; nothing to fear,' Fleetwood called to her, and she
curtseyed.

He alighted, saying to her, before he spoke to his friends: 'I've brought
him safe; had him under my eye the last four and twenty hours. He'll do
the trick to-day. You don't bet?'

'Oh! my lord, no.'

'Help the lady down. Out with you, Ines!'

The light-legged barge-faced man touched ground capering. He was greeted
'Kit' by the pair of gentlemen, who shook hands with him, after he had
faintly simulated the challenge to a jig with Madge. She flounced from
him, holding her arms up to the lady. Landlord, landlady, and hostler
besought the lady to stay for the fixing of a ladder. Carinthia stepped,
leaped, and entered the inn, Fleetwood remarking:

'We are very independent, Chummy Potts.'

'Cordy bally, by Jove!' Potts cried. But the moment after this
disengaged ejaculation, he was taken with a bewilderment. 'At the
Opera?' he questioned of his perplexity.

'No, sir, not at the Opera,' Fleetwood rejoined. 'The lady's last public
appearance was at the altar.'

'Sort of a suspicion of having seen her somewhere. Left her husband
behind, has she?'

'You see: she has gone in.'

The scoring of a proposition of Euclid on the forehead of Potts amused
him and the other gentleman, who was hailed 'Mallard!' and cared nothing
for problems involving the female of man when such work was to the fore
as the pugilistic encounter of the Earl of Fleetwood's chosen Kit Ines,
with Lord Brailstone's unbeaten and well-backed Ben Todds.

Ines had done pretty things from the age of seventeen to his twenty-third
year. Remarkably clever things they were, to be called great in the
annals of the Ring. The point, however, was, that the pockets of his
backers had seriously felt his latest fight. He received a dog's licking
at the hands of Lummy Phelps, his inferior in skill, fighting two to one
of the odds; and all because of his fatal addiction to the breaking of
his trainer's imposed fast in liquids on, the night before the battle.
Right through his training, up to that hour, the rascal was devout; the
majority's money rattled all on the snug safe side. And how did he get
at the bottle? His trainers never could say. But what made him turn
himself into a headlong ass, when he had only to wait a night to sit
among friends and worshippers drinking off his tumbler upon tumbler with
the honours? It was past his wits to explain. Endurance of his
privation had snapped in him; or else, which is more likely, this Genius
of the Ring was tempted by his genius on the summit of his perfected
powers to believe the battle his own, and celebrate it, as became a
victor despising the drubbed antagonist.

In any case, he drank, and a minor man gave him the dog's licking..
'Went into it puffy, came out of it bunged,' the chronicle resounding
over England ran. Old England read of an 'eyeless carcase' heroically
stepping up to time for three rounds of mashing punishment. If he had
won the day after all, the country would have been electrified. It
sympathized on the side of his backers too much to do more than nod a
short approval of his fortitude. To sink with flag flying is next to
sinking the enemy. There was talk of a girl present at the fight, and of
how she received the eyeless, almost faceless, carcase of her sweetheart
Kit, and carried him away in a little donkey-cart, comfortably cushioned
to meet disaster. This petty incident drew the attention of the Earl of
Fleetwood, then beginning to be known as the diamond of uncounted facets,
patron of the pick of all departments of manly activity in England.

The devotion of the girl Madge to her sweetheart was really a fine story.
Fleetwood touched on it to Mr. Mallard, speaking of it like the gentleman
he could be, while Chumley Potts wagged impatient acquiescence in a
romantic episode of the Ring, that kept the talk from the hotter theme.

'Money's Bank of England to-day, you think?' he interposed, and had his
answer after Mallard had said:

'The girl 's rather good-looking, too.'

'You may double your bets, Chummy. I had the fellow to his tea at my
dinner-table yesterday evening; locked him in his bedroom, and had him
up and out for a morning spin at six. His trainer, Flipper's on the
field, drove from Esslemont at nine, confident as trumps.'

'Deuce of a good-looking girl,' Potts could now afford to say; and he
sang out: 'Feel fit, lucky dog?'

'Concert pitch!' was the declaration of Kit Ives.

'How about Lord Brailstone's man?'

'Female partner in a quadrille, sir.'

'Ah!' Potts doated on his limbs with a butcher's eye for prize joints.

'Cock-sure has crowed low by sunset,' Mallard observed.

Fleetwood offered him to take his bets.

'You're heavy on it with Brailstone?' said Mallard.

'Three thousand.'

'I'd back you for your luck blindfold.'

A ruffle of sourness shot over the features of the earl, and was noticed
by both eager betters, who exchanged a glance.

Potts inspected his watch, and said half aloud: 'Liver, ten to one! That
never meant bad luck--except bad to act on. We slept here last night,
you know. It 's a mile and a quarter from the Royal Sovereign to the
field of glory. Pretty well time to start. Brailstone has a drive of a
couple of miles. Coaches from London down by this time. Abrane's dead
on Ben Todds, any odds. Poor old Braney! "Steady man, Todds." Backs
him because he's a "respectable citizen,"--don't drink. A prize-fighter
total abstainer has no spurts. Old Braney's branded for the losing side.
You might bet against Braney blindfold, Mallard. How long shall you take
to polish him off, Kit Ines?'

The opponent of Ben Todds calculated.

'Well, sir, steady Benny ought to be satisfied with his dose in, say,
about forty minutes. Maybe he won't own to it before an hour and ten.
He's got a proud English stomach.'

'Shall we be late?' Potts asked.

'Jump in,' Fleetwood said to his man. 'We may be five minutes after
time, Chummy. I had a longer drive, and had to get married on the way,
and--ah, here they are!'

'Lady coming?'

'I fancy she sticks to the coach; I don't know her tastes. Madge must
see her through it, that's positive.'

Potts deferred his astonishment at the things he was hearing and seeing,
which were only Fleetwood's riddles. The fight and the bets rang every
other matter out of his head. He beheld the lady, who had come down from
the coach like a columbine, mount it like Bean-stalk Jack. Madge was not
half so clever, and required a hand at her elbow.

After, giving hurried directions to Rundles, the landlord of the Royal
Sovereign, Fleetwood took the reins, and all three gentlemen touched hats
to the curtseying figure of Mrs. Rundles.

'You have heard, I dare say--it's an English scene,' he spoke, partly
turning his face, to Carinthia; 'particularly select to-day. Their
Majesties might look on, as the Caesars did in Rome. Pity we can't
persuade them. They ought to set the fashion. Here we have the English
people at their grandest, in prime condition, if they were not drunk
overnight; and dogged, perfectly awake, magnanimous, all for fair play;
fine fellows, upon my word. A little blood, of course.'

But the daughter of the Old Buccaneer would have inherited a tenderness
for the sight of blood. She should make a natural Lady Patroness of
England's National Sports. We might turn her to that purpose; wander
over England with a tail of shouting riff-raft; have exhibitions, join
in them, display our accomplishments; issue challenges to fence, shoot,
walk, run, box, in time: the creature has muscle. It's one way of
crowning a freak; we follow the direction, since the deed done can't
be undone; and a precious poetical life, too! You may get as royally
intoxicated on swipes as on choice wine; win a name for yourself as
the husband of such a wife; a name in sporting journals and shilling
biographies: quite a revival of the Peerage they have begun to rail at!

'I would not wish to leave you,' said Carinthia.

'You have chosen,' said Fleetwood.

CHAPTER XVI

IN WHICH THE BRIDE FROM FOREIGN PARTS IS GIVEN A TASTE OF OLD ENGLAND

Cheers at an open gate of a field saluted the familiar scarlet of the
Earl of Fleetwood's coach in Kentish land. They were chorister cheers,
the spontaneous ringing out of English country hearts in homage to the
nobleman who brightened the heaviness of life on English land with a
spectacle of the noble art distinguishing their fathers. He drove along
over muffling turf; ploughboys and blue butcher-boys, and smocked old
men, with an approach to a hundred-weight on their heels, at the trot to
right and left; all hoping for an occasional sight of the jewel called
Kitty, that he carried inside. Kitty was there.

Kitty's eyes are shut. Think of that: cradled innocence and angels'
dreams and the whole of the hymn just before ding-dong-bang on noses and
jaws! That means confidence? Looks like it. But Kitty's not asleep you
try him. He's only quiet because he has got to undergo great exertion.
Last fight he was knocked out of time, because he went into it honest
drunk, they tell. And the earl took him up, to give him a chance of
recovering his good name, and that's Christian. But the earl, he knows
a man as well as a horse. He's one to follow. Go to a fayte down at
Esslemont, you won't forget your day. See there, he's brought a lady on
the top o' the coach. That seems for to signify he don't expect it's
going to be much of a bloody business. But there's no accounting.
Anyhow, Broadfield 'll have a name in the papers for Sunday reading.
In comes t' other lord's coach. They've timed it together closes they
have.

They were pronounced to be both the right sort of noblemen for the
country. Lord Brailstone's blue coach rattled through an eastern gate to
the corner of the thirty-acre meadow, where Lord Fleetwood had drawn up,
a toss from the ring. The meeting of the blue and scarlet coaches drew
forth Old England's thunders; and when the costly treasures contained in
them popped out heads, the moment was delirious. Kit Ines came after his
head on a bound. Ben Todds was ostentatiously deliberate: his party said
he was no dancing-master. He stepped out, grave as a barge emerging from
a lock, though alive to the hurrahs of supporters and punctilious in
returning the formal portion of his rival's too roguish nod. Their look
was sharp into the eyes, just an instant.

Brailstone and Fleetwood jumped to the grass and met, talking and
laughing, precise upon points of business, otherwise cordial:
plenipotentiaries of great powers, whom they have set in motion and
bind to the ceremonial opening steps, according to the rules of civilized
warfare. They had a short colloquy with newspaper reporters;--
an absolutely fair, square, upright fight of Britons was to be
chronicled. Captain Abrane, a tower in the crowd, registered bets
whenever he could. Curricles, gigs, carts, pony-traps, boys on ponies,
a swarm on legs, flowed to the central point and huddled there.

Was either champion born in Kent? An audacious boy proclaimed Kit
Ines a man of Kent. Why, of course he was! and that was why the Earl
of Fleetwood backed our cocky Kitty, and means to land him on the top of
his profession. Ben Todds was shuffled aside; as one of their Londoners,
destitute of county savour.

All very well, but have a spy at Benny Todds. Who looks the square man?
And hear what that big gentleman of the other lord's party says. A
gentleman of his height and weight has a right to his opinion. He 's
dead against Kit Ines: it's fists, not feet, he says, 'll do it to-day;
stamina, he says. Benny has got the stamina.

Todds' possession of the stamina, and the grand voice of Captain Abrane,
and the Father Christmas, roast-beef-of-Old England face of the umpire
declared to be on the side of Lord Brailstone's colour blue, darkened
the star of Kit Ines till a characteristic piece of behaviour was espied.
He dashed his cap into the ring and followed it, with the lightest of
vaults across the ropes. There he was, the first in the ring: and that
stands for promise of first blow, first blood, first flat knock-down,
and last to cry for quarter. His pair of seconds were soon after him.
Fleetwood mounted his box.

'Is it to fight?' said Carinthia.

'To see which is the master.'

'They fight to see?'

'Generally until one or the other can't see. You are not obliged to see
it; you can be driven away if you wish.'

'I will be here, if you are here.'

'You choose it.'

Fleetwood leaned over to Chumley Potts on the turf. 'Abrane's ruining
himself.'

Potts frankly hoped that his friend might be doing so. 'Todds is jolly
well backed. He's in prime condition. He's the favourite of the knowing
ones.'

'You wouldn't have the odds, if he weren't.'

'No; but the odds are like ten per cent.: they conjure the gale, and be
hanged,' said Potts; he swore at his betting mania, which destroyed the
pleasure of the show he loved.

All in the ring were shaking hands. Shots of a desire to question and
comment sped through Carinthia's veins and hurt her. She had gathered
that she spoke foolishly to her husband's ear, so she kept her mouth
shut, though the unanswered of her inquisitive ignorance in the strange
land pricked painfully at her bosom. She heard the girl behind her say:
'Our colours!' when the colour scarlet unwound with Lord Brailstone's
blue was tied to the stake: and her husband nodded; he smiled; he liked
to hear the girl.

Potts climbed up, crying: 'Toilets complete! Now for paws out, and then
at it, my hearties!'

Choice of corners under the leaden low cloud counted for little. A
signal was given; a man outside the ring eyed a watch, raised a hand; the
two umpires were on foot in their places; the pair of opposing seconds
hurried out cheery or bolt-business words to their men; and the champions
advanced to the scratch. Todds first, by the courtesy of Ines, whose
decorous control of his legs at a weighty moment was rightly read by his
party.

Their hands grasped firmly: thereupon becoming fists of a hostile couple
in position. And simply to learn which of us two is the better man! Or
in other words, with four simple fists to compass a patent fact and stand
it on the historic pedestal, with a little red writing underneath: you
never can patent a fact without it. But mark the differences of this kind
of contention from all other--especially the Parliamentary: this is
positive, it has a beginning and an end; and it is good-humoured from
beginning to end; trial of skill, trial of stamina; Nature and Art; Old
English; which made us what we are; and no rancours, no vows of
vengeance; the beaten man of the two bowing to the bit of history he has
helped to make.

Kittites had need to be confident in the skill of their lither lad. His
facer looked granite. Fronting that mass, Kit you might--not to lash
about for comparisons--call a bundle of bamboo. Ay, but well knitted,
springy, alive every inch of him; crafty, too, as you will soon bear
witness. He knows he has got his task, and he's the man to do it.

There was wary sparring, and mirrors watched them.

'Bigger fellow: but have no fear,' the earl said over his shoulder to
Madge.

She said in return: 'Oh, I don't know, I'm praying.'

Kit was now on his toes, all himself, like one who has found the key.
He feinted. Quick as lightning, he landed a bolt on Ben's jib, just at
the toll-bar of the bridge, between the eyes, and was off, out of reach,
elastic; Ben's counter fell short by a couple of inches. Cheers for
first blow.

The earl clucked to Madge. Her gaze at the ring was a sullen intensity.

Will you believe it?--Ben received a second spanking cracker on the
spectacles-seat: neat indeed; and, poor payment for the compliment, he
managed to dig a drive at the ribs. As much of that game as may suit
you, sturdy Ben! But hear the shout, and behold!

First blood to Kit Ines! That tell-tale nose of old Ben's has mounted
the Earl of Fleetwood's colours, and all his party are looking
Brailstone-blue.

'So far!' said Fleetwood. His grooms took an indication: the hamper was
unfastened; sandwiches were handed. Carinthia held one; she tried to
nibble, in obedience to her husband's example. Madge refused a bite of
food.

Hearing Carinthia say to her: 'I hope he will not be beaten, I hope, I
hope,' she made answer: 'You are very good, Miss'; and the young lady
flushed.

Gentlemen below were talking up to the earl. A Kentish squire of an
estate neighbouring Esslemont introduced a Welsh squire he had driven to
see the fun, by the name of Mr. Owain Wythan, a neighbour of the earl's
down in Wales. Refreshments were offered. Carinthia submissively sipped
the sparkling wine, which stings the lips when they are indisposed to it.
The voice of the girl Madge rang on the tightened chords of her breast.
Madge had said she was praying: and to pray was all that could be done by
two women. Her husband could laugh loudly with Mr. Potts and the other
gentlemen and the strangers. He was quite sure the man he supported
would win; he might have means of knowing. Carinthia clung to his bare
words, for the sake of the girl.

A roaring peal went up from the circle of combat. Kit had it this time.
Attacking Ben's peepers, he was bent on defending his own, and he caught
a bodyblow that sent him hopping back to his pair of seconds, five clear
hops to the rear, like a smashed surge-wave off the rock. He was
respectful for the remainder of the round. But hammering at the system
he had formed, in the very next round he dropped from a tremendous
repetition of the blow, and lay flat as a turbot. The bets against him
had simultaneously a see-saw rise.

'Bellows, he appears to have none,' was the comment of Chumley Potts.

'Now for training, Chummy!' said Lord Fleetwood.

'Chummy!' signifying a crow over Potts, rang out of the hollows of
Captain Abrane on Lord Brailstone's coach.

Carinthia put a hand behind her to Madge. It was grasped, in gratitude
for sympathy or in feminine politeness. The girl murmured: 'I've seen
worse.' She was not speaking to ears.

Lord Fleetwood sat watch in hand. 'Up,' he said; and, as if hearing him,
Kit rose from the ministering second's knee. He walked stiffly, squared
after the fashion of a man taught caution. Ben made play. They rounded
the ring, giving and taking. Ben rushed, and had an emollient; spouted
again and was corked; again, and received a neat red-waxen stopper. He
would not be denied at Kit's door, found him at home and hugged him. Kit
got himself to grass, after a spell of heavy fibbing, Ben's game.

It did him no great harm; it might be taken for an enlivener; he was dead
on his favourite spot the ensuing round, played postman on it. So
cleverly, easily, dancingly did he perform the double knock and the
retreat, that Chumley Potts was moved to forget his wagers and exclaim:
'Racket-ball, by Jove!'

'If he doesn't let the fellow fib the wind out of him,' Mallard addressed
his own crab eyeballs.

Lord Fleetwood heard and said coolly: 'Tightstrung. I kept him fasting
since he earned his breakfast. You don't wind an empty rascal fit for
action. A sword through the lungs won't kill when there's no air in
them.'

That was printed in the 'Few Words before the Encounter', in the Book Of
MAXIMS FOR MEN. Carinthia, hearing everything her husband uttered,
burned to remind him of the similarity between his opinions and her
father's.

She was learning, that for some reason, allusions to her father were not
acceptable. She squeezed the hand of Madge, and felt a pressure, like a
scream, telling her the girl's heart was with the fight beneath them.
She thought it natural for her. She wished she could continue looking as
intently. She looked because her husband looked. The dark hills and
clouds curtaining the run of the stretch of fields relieved her sight.

The clouds went their way; the hills were solid, but like a blue smoke;
the scene here made them very distant and strange. Those two men were
still hitting, not hating one another; only to gratify a number of
unintelligible people and win a success. But the earth and sky seemed to
say, What is the glory? They were insensible to it, as they are not--
they are never insensible to noble grounds of strife. They bless the
spot, they light lamps on it; they put it into books of history, make it
holy, if the cause was a noble one or a good one.

Or supposing both those men loved the girl, who loved one of them! Then
would Carinthia be less reluctantly interested in their blows.

Her infant logic stumbled on for a reason while she repressed the torture
the scene was becoming, as though a reason could be found by her
submissive observation of it. And she was right in believing that a
reason for the scene must or should exist. Only, like other bewildered
instinctive believers, she could not summon the great universe or a
life's experience to unfold it. Her one consolation was in squeezing the
hand of the girl from time to time.

Not stealthily done, it was not objected to by the husband whose eye was
on all. But the persistence in doing it sank her from the benignity of
her station to the girl's level: it was conduct much too raw, and grated
on the deed of the man who had given her his name.

Madge pleased him better. She had the right to be excited, and she was
very little demonstrative. She had--well, in justice, the couple of them
had, only she had it more--the tone of the women who can be screwed to
witness a spill of blood, peculiarly catching to hear;--a tone of every
string in them snapped except the silver string. Catching to hear? It
is worth a stretching of them on the rack to hear that low buzz-hum of
their inner breast . . . By heaven! we have them at their best when
they sing that note.

His watch was near an hour of the contest, and Brailstone's man had
scored first knock-down blow, a particularly clean floorer. Thinking of
that, he was cheered by hearing Chummy Potts, whose opinions he despised,
cry out to Abrane:--

'Yeast to him!' For the face of Todds was visibly swelling to the ripest
of plums from Kit's deliveries.

Down he went. He had the sturdy legs which are no legs to a clean blow.
Odds were offered against him.

'Oh! pretty play with your right, Kit!' exclaimed Mallard, as Kit fetched
his man an ugly stroke on the round of the waist behind, and the crowd
sent up the name of the great organs affected: a sickener of a stroke, if
dealt soundly. It meant more than 4 showed. Kit was now for taking
liberties. Light as ever on his pins, he now and then varied his
attentions to the yeasty part, delivering a wakener in unexpected
quarters: masterly as the skilled cook's carving of a joint with hungry
guests for admirers.

'Eh, Madge?' the earl said.

She kept her sight fixed, replying: 'Yes, I think . . .' Carinthia
joined with her: 'I must believe it that he will: but will the other man,
poor man, submit? I entreat him to put away his pride. It is his--oh,
poor man!'

Ben was having it hot and fast on a torso physiognomy.

The voices of these alien women thrilled the fray and were a Bardic harp
to Lord Fleetwood.

He dropped a pleasant word on the heads in the curricle.

Mr. Owain Wythan looked up. 'Worthy of Theocritus. It's the Boxing Twin
and the Bembrycian giant. The style of each. To the letter!'

'Kit is assiduously fastening Ben's blinkers,' Potts remarked.

He explained to the incomprehensible lady he fancied he had somewhere
seen, that the battle might be known as near the finish by the behaviour
on board Lord Brailstone's coach.

'It's like Foreign Affaits and the Stock Exchange,' he said to the more
intelligent males. 'If I want to know exactly how the country stands, I
turn to the Money Article in the papers. That's a barometrical
certainty. No use inquiring abroad. Look at old Rufus Abrane. I see
the state of the fight on the old fellow's mug. He hasn't a bet left in
him!'

'Captain Mountain--Rufus Mus!' cried Lord Fleetwood, and laughed at the
penetrative portrait Woodseer's epigram sketched; he had a desire for the
presence of the singular vagabond.

The Rufus Mus in the Captain Mountain exposed his view of the encounter,
by growing stiller, apparently growing smaller, without a squeak, like
the entrapped; and profoundly contemplative, after the style of the
absolutely detached, who foresee the fatal crash, and are calculating,
far ahead of events, the means for meeting their personal losses.

The close of the battle was on the visage of Rufus Abrane fifteen minutes
before that Elgin marble under red paint in the ring sat on the knee of a
succouring seconder, mopped, rubbed, dram-primed, puppy-peeping,
inconsolably comforted, preparatory to the resumption of the great-coat
he had so hopefully cast from his shoulders. Not downcast by any means.
Like an old Roman, the man of the sheer hulk with purple eyemounds found
his legs to do the manful thing, show that there was no bad blood, stand
equal to all forms. Ben Todds, if ever man in Old England, looked the
picture you might label 'Bellyful,' it was remarked. Kit Ines had an
appearance of springy readiness to lead off again. So they faced on the
opening step of their march into English History.

Vanquisher and vanquished shook hands, engaged in a parting rally of
good-humoured banter; the beaten man said his handsome word; the best man
capped it with a compliment to him. They drink of different cups to-day.
Both will drink of one cup in the day to come. But the day went too
clearly to crown the light and the tight and the right man of the two,
for moralizing to wag its tail at the end. Oldsters and youngsters
agreed to that. Science had done it: happy the backers of Science! Not
one of them alluded to the philosophical 'hundred years hence.' For when
England, thanks to a spirited pair of our young noblemen, has exhibited
one of her characteristic performances consummately, Philosophy is bidden
fly; she is a foreign bird.

CHAPTER XVII

RECORDS A SHADOW CONTEST CLOSE ON THE FOREGOING

Kit Ines cocked an eye at Madge, in the midst of the congratulations and
the paeans pumping his arms. As he had been little mauled, he could
present a face to her, expecting a wreath of smiles for the victor.

What are we to think of the contrarious young woman who, when he lay
beaten, drove him off the field and was all tenderness and devotion?
She bobbed her head, hardly more than a trifle pleased, one might say.
Just like females. They're riddles, not worth spelling. Then, drunk
I'll get to-night, my pretty dear! the man muttered, soured by her
inopportune staidness, as an opponent's bruisings could never have
rendered him.

She smiled a lively beam in answer to the earl; 'Oh yes I 'm glad. It's
your doing, my lord.' Him it was that she thanked, and for the moment
prized most. The female riddle is hard to read, because it is compounded
of sensations, and they rouse and appeal to the similar cockatrices in
us, which either hiss back or coil upon themselves. She admired Kit Ines
for his valour: she hated that ruinous and besotting drink. It flung
skeletons of a married couple on the wall of the future. Nevertheless
her love had been all maternal to him when he lay chastised and disgraced
on account of his vice. Pity had done it. Pity not being stirred, her
admiration of the hero declared victorious, whose fortunes in uncertainty
had stopped the beating of her heart, was eclipsed by gratitude toward
his preserver, and a sentiment eclipsed becomes temporarily coldish,
against our wish and our efforts, in a way to astonish; making her think
that she cannot hold two sentiments at a time; when it is but the fact
that she is unable to keep the two equally warm.

Carinthia said to her: 'He is brave.'

'Oh yes, he's brave,' Madge assented.

Lord Brailstone, flourishing his whip, cried out: 'At Canleys to-night?'

The earl nodded: 'I shall be there.'

'You, too, Chummy?' came from Abrane.

'To see you dance,' Potts rejoined, and mumbled

'But will he dance! Old Braney's down on his luck; he's a specimen of a
fellow emptier and not lighter. And won't be till supper-time. But, I
say, Fleet, how the deuce?--funny sort of proceeding!--You haven't
introduced me.'

'The lady bears my name, Mr. Chumley Potts.'

With a bow to the lady's profile and a mention of a glimpse at Baden,
Potts ejaculated: 'It happened this morning?'

'You allude to the marriage. It happened this morning.'

'How do I get to Canleys?'

'I drive you. Another team from the Esslemont stables is waiting at the
Royal.'

'You stay at Canleys?'

'No.'

'No? Oh! Funny, upon my word. Though I don't know why not--except that
people . . .'

'Count your winnings, Chummy.'

Fleetwood remarked to his bride: 'Our friend has the habit of
soliloquizing in company. I forgot to tell you of an appointment of mine
at a place called Canleys, about twenty miles or more from here. I gave
my word, so I keep it. The landlady at the inn, Mrs. Rundles, motherly
kind of woman; she will be attentive. They don't cook badly, for an
English inn, I have heard. Madge here will act as your lady's-maid for
the time. You will find her serviceable; she's a bruiser's lass and
something above it. Ines informed me, Madge, you were going to friends of
yours at the Wells. You will stay at the Royal and wait on this lady,
who bears my name. You understand?--A girl I can trust for courage, if
the article is in request,' he resumed to his bride; and talked generally
of the inn and the management of it, and its favoured position outside
the village and contiguous to the river, upon which it subsisted.

Carinthia had heard. She was more than ever the stunned young woman she
had been since her mounting of the coach, between the village church and
Lekkatts.

She said not a word. Why should she? her object was won. Give her
that, and a woman's tongue will consent to rest. The dreaded weapon
rest, also when she is kept spinning by the whip. She gives out a
pleasant hum, too. Her complexion must be pronounced dull in repose.
A bride on her travels with an aspect of wet chalk, rather helps to
scare mankind from marriage: which may be good or bad; but she reflects a
sicklier hue on the captured Chessman calling her his own. Let her shine
in privacy.

Fleetwood drew up at the Royal Sovereign, whereof the reigning monarch,
in blue uniform on the signboard, curtseyed to his equally windy
subjects; and a small congregation of the aged, and some cripples and
infants, greeted the patron of Old England's manfullest display, cheering
at news of the fight, brought them by many little runners.

'Your box has been conveyed to your room,' he said to his bride.

She bowed. This time she descended the coach by the aid of the ladder.

Ines, victorious in battle, had scant notice from his love. 'Yes, I 'm
glad,' and she passed him to follow her newly constituted mistress. His
pride was dashed, all the foam of the first draw on the top of him blown
off, as he figuratively explained the cause of his gloom to the earl.
'I drink and I gets a licking--that girl nurses and cossets me. I don't
drink and I whops my man--she shows me her back. Ain't it encouragement,
my lord?'

'You ought to know them by this time, you dolt,' returned his patron,
and complimented him on his bearing in the fight. 'You shall have your
two hundred, and something will be added. Hold handy here till I mount.
I start in ten minutes.'

Whether to speak a polite adieu to the bride, whose absurd position
she had brought on her own head, was debated for half a minute. He
considered that the wet chalk-quarry of a beauty had at all events the
merit of not being a creature to make scenes. He went up to the sitting-
room. If she was not there, he would leave his excuses.

She was there, and seated; neither crying, nor smiling, nor pointedly
serious in any way, not conventionally at her ease either. And so
clearly was he impressed by her transparency in simplicity of expression,
that he took without a spurn at it the picture of a woman half drained
of her blood, veiling the wound. And a young woman, a stranger to
suffering: perhaps--as the creatures do looking for the usual flummery
tenderness, what they call happiness; wondering at the absence of it and
the shifty ghost of a husband she has got by floundering into the bog
known as Marriage. She would have it, and here she was!

He entered the situation and was possessed by the shivering delicacy
of it. Surface emotions were not seen on her. She might be a creature

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