Part 2 out of 2
and--ah, here they are!'
'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.
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
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
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
'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
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
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
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
'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
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
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
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
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,
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
'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.
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
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
'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
'You stay at Canleys?'
'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
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
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,
'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
with a soul. Here and there the thing has been found in women. It is
priceless when found, and she could not be acting. One might swear the
creature had no power to act.
She spoke without offence, the simplest of words, affected no
solicitudes, put on no gilt smiles, wore no reproaches: spoke to him as
if so it happened--he had necessarily a journey to perform. One could
see all the while big drops falling from the wound within. One could
hear it in her voice. Imagine a crack of the string at the bow's deep
stress. Or imagine the bow paralyzed at the moment of the deepest
sounding. And yet the voice did not waver. She had now the richness of
tone carrying on a music through silence.
Well, then, at least, he had not been the utterly duped fool he thought
himself since the consent was pledged to wed her.
More, she had beauty--of its kind. Or splendour or grandeur, was the
term for it. But it bore no name. None of her qualities--if they were
qualities--had a name. She stood with a dignity that the word did not
express. She endured meekly, when there was no meekness. Pain breathed
out of her, and not a sign of pain was visible. She had, under his
present observation of her, beauty, with the lines of her face breaking
in revolt from beauty--or requiring a superterrestrial illumination to
show the harmony. He, as he now saw, had erred grossly in supposing her
insensitive, and therefore slow of a woman's understanding. She drew the
breath of pain through the lips: red lips and well cut. Her brown eyes
were tearless, not alluring or beseeching or repelling; they did but
look, much like the skies opening high aloof on a wreck of storm. Her
reddish hair-chestnut, if you will--let fall a skein over one of the
rugged brows, and softened the ruggedness by making it wilder, as if a
great bird were winging across a shoulder of the mountain ridges.
Conceived of the mountains, built in their image, the face partook
alternately of mountain terror or splendour; wholly, he remembered,
of the splendour when her blood ran warm. No longer the chalk-quarry
face,--its paleness now was that of night Alps beneath a moon chasing the
She might be casting her spells again.
'You remember I told you,' he said, 'I have given my word--I don't break
it--to be at a Ball. Your uncle was urgent to have the ceremony over.
These clashes occur. The people here--I have spoken of that: people of
good repute for attention to guests. I am uncertain of the time . . .
we have all to learn to wait. So then, good-bye till we meet.'
He was experiencing a novel nip of torment, of just the degree which
takes a partial appeasement from the inflicting of it, and calls up a
loathed compassion. She might have been in his arms for a step, though
she would not have been the better loved.
He was allowed his escape, bearing with him enough of husband to execrate
another enslaving pledge of his word, that begat a frenzy to wreak some
caresses on the creature's intolerably haunting image. Of course, he
could not return to her. How would she receive him? There was no salt
in the thought of it; she was too submissive.
However, there would be fun with Chummy Potts on the drive to Canleys;
fun with Rufus Abrane at Mrs. Cowper Quillett's; and with the Countess
Livia, smothered, struggling, fighting for life with the title of
Dowager. A desire for unbridled fun had hold of any amount of it, to
excess in any direction. And though this cloud as a dry tongue after
much wine craves water, glimpses of his tramp's walk with a fellow tramp
on a different road, enjoying strangely healthy vagabond sensations and
vast ideas; brought the vagrant philosopher refreshfully to his mind:
chiefly for the reason that while in Woodseer's company he had hardly
suffered a stroke of pain from the thought of Henrietta. She was now a
married woman, he was a married man by the register. Stronger proof of
the maddest of worlds could not be furnished.
Sane in so mad a world, a man is your flabby citizen among outlaws, good
for plucking. Fun, at any cost, is the one object worth a shot in such a
world. And the fun is not to stop. If it does, we are likely to be got
hold of, and lugged away to the altar--the terminus. That foul disaster
has happened, through our having temporarily yielded to a fit of the
dumps and treated a mad world's lunatic issue with some seriousness. But
fun shall be had with the aid of His Highness below. The madder the
world, the madder the fun. And the mixing in it of another element,
which it has to beguile us--romance--is not at all bad cookery. Poetic
romance is delusion--a tale of a Corsair; a poet's brain, a bottle of
gin, and a theatrical wardrobe. Comic romance is about us everywhere,
alive for the tapping.
A daughter of the Old Buccaneer should participate in it by right of
birth: she would expect it in order to feel herself perfectly at home.
Then, be sure, she finds an English tongue and prattles away as merrily
as she does when her old scapegrace of a father is the theme. Son-in-law
to him! But the path of wisdom runs in the line of facts, and to have
wild fun and romance on this pantomime path, instead of kicking to break
away from it, we follow things conceived by the genius of the situation,
for the delectation of the fair Countess of Fleetwood and the earl, her
delighted husband, quite in the spirit of the Old Buccaneer, father of
Carinthia sat beside the fire, seeing nothing in the room or on the road.
Up in her bedchamber, the girl Madge was at her window. She saw Lord
Fleetwood standing alone, laughing, it seemed, at some thought; he threw
up his head. Was it a newly married man leaving his bride and laughing?
The bride was a dear lady, fit for better than to be driven to look on at
a prize-fight--a terrible scene to a lady. She was left solitary: and
this her wedding day? The earl had said it, he had said she bore his
name, spoke of coming from the altar, and the lady had blushed to hear
herself called Miss. The pressure of her hand was warm with Madge: her
situation roused the fervid latent sisterhood in the breast of women.
Before he mounted the coach, Lord Fleetwood talked to Kit Ives. He
pointed at an upper window, seemed to be issuing directions. Kit nodded;
he understood it, whatever it was. You might have said, a pair of
burglars. The girl ran downstairs to bid her lover good-bye and show him
she really rejoiced in his victory. Kit came to her saying: 'Given my
word of honour I won't make a beast of myself to-night. Got to watch
over you and your lady.'
Lord Fleetwood started his fresh team, casting no glance at the windows
of the room where his bride was. He and the gentlemen on the coach were
His leaving of his young bride to herself this day was classed among the
murky flashes which distinguished the deeds of noblemen. But his
laughter on leaving her stamped it a cruelty; of the kind that plain
mortals, who can be monsters, commit. Madge conceived a pretext for
going into the presence of her mistress, whose attitude was the same as
when she first sat in the chair. The lady smiled and said: 'He is not
hurt much?' She thought for them about her.
The girl's, heart of sympathy thumped, and her hero became a very minute
object. He had spoken previously of the making or not making a beast of
himself; without inflicting a picture of the beast. His words took shape
now, and in consequence a little self-pity began to move. It stirred to
swell the great wave of pity for the lady, that was in her bosom. 'Oh,
he!' she said, and extinguished the thought of him; and at once her
under-lip was shivering, her eyes filled and poured.
Carinthia rose anxiously. The girl dropped at her feet. 'You have been
so good to me to-day, my lady! so good to me to-day! I can't help it--
I don't often just for this moment; I've been excited. Oh, he's well, he
will do; he's nothing. You say "poor child!" But I'm not; it's only.
excitement. I do long to serve you the best I can.'
She stood up in obedience and had the arms of her young mistress pressing
her. Tears also were streaming from Carinthia's eyes. Heartily she
thanked the girl for the excuse to cry.
They were two women. On the road to Canleys, the coach conveying men
spouted with the lusty anecdote, relieved of the interdict of a
DOWN WHITECHAPEL WAY
Contention begets contention in a land of the pirate races. Gigs were
at high rival speed along the road from the battle-field to London.
They were the electrical wires of the time for an expectant population
bursting to have report of so thundering an event as the encounter of two
champion light weights, nursed and backed by a pair of gallant young
noblemen, pick of the whole row of coronets above. London panted gaping
and the gigs flew with the meat to fill it.
Chumley Potts offered Ambrose Mallard fair odds that the neat little trap
of the chief sporting journal, which had a reputation to maintain, would
be over one or other of the bridges crossing the Thames first. Mallard
had been struck by the neat little trap of an impudent new and lower-
priced journal, which had a reputation to gain. He took the proffered
odds, on the cry as of a cracker splitting. Enormous difficulties in
regard to the testimony and the verifications were discussed; they were
overcome. Potts was ready for any amount of trouble; Mallard the same.
There was clearly a race. There would consequently be a record. Visits
to the offices of those papers, perhaps half a day at the south end of
London or on Westminster bridge, examining witnesses, corner shopmen,
watermen, and the like, would or should satisfactorily establish the
Fleetwood had his fun; insomuch that he laughed himself into a sentiment
of humaneness toward the couple of donkeys and forgot his contempt of
them. Their gamblings and their bets increased his number of dependents;
and imbeciles were preferable to dolts or the dry gilt figures of the
circle he had to move in. Matter for some astonishment had been
furnished to the latter this day; and would cause an icy Signor stare
and rather an angry Signora flutter. A characteristic of that upper
circle, as he knew it, is, that the good are dull, the vicious very bad.
They had nothing to please him but manners. Elsewhere this land is a
land of no manners. Take it and make the most of it, then, for its
quality of brute honesty: which is found to flourish best in the British
His irony landed him there. It struck the country a ringing blow. But
it struck an almost effacing one at the life of the young nobleman of
boundless wealth, whose highest renown was the being a patron of
prizefighters. Husband of the daughter of the Old Buccaneer as well!
perchance as a result. That philosopher tramp named her 'beautiful
Gorgon.' She has no beauty; and as for Gorgon, the creature has a look
of timid softness in waiting behind her rocky eyes. A barbaric damsel
beginning to nibble at civilization, is nearer the mark; and ought she to
Fleetwood's wrath with his position warned him against the dupery of any
such alcove thoughts. For his wrath revenged him, and he feared the
being stripped of it, lest a certain fund of his own softness, that he
knew of; though few did, should pull him to the creature's feet. She
belonged to him indeed; so he might put her to the trial of whether she
had a heart and personal charm, without the ceremony of wooing--which,
in his case, tempted to the feeling desperately earnest and becoming
enslaved. He speculated upon her eyelids and lips, and her voice, when
melting, as women do in their different ways; here and there with an
execrable--perhaps pardonable--art; one or two divinely. The vision drew
him to a headlong plunge and swim of the amorous mind, occupying a
minute, filling an era. He corrected the feebleness, and at the same
time threw a practical coachman's glance on peculiarities of the road,
requiring some knowledge of it if traversed backward at a whipping pace
on a moonless night. The drive from Canleys to the Royal Sovereign could
be done by good pacers in an hour and a half, little more--with Ives and
the stables ready, and some astonishment in a certain unseen chamber.
Fleetwood chuckled at a vision of romantic devilry--perfectly legitimate
too. Something, more to inflict than enjoy, was due to him.
He did, not phrase it, that a talk with the fellow Woodseer of his
mountains and his forests, and nature, philosophy, poetry, would have
been particularly healthy for him, almost as good as the good counsel be
needed and solicited none to give him. It swept among his ruminations
while he pricked Potts and Mallard to supply his craving for satanical
Gower Woodseer; the mention of whom is a dejection to the venerable
source of our story, was then in the act of emerging from the Eastward
into the Southward of the line of Canterbury's pilgrims when they set
forth to worship, on his homeward course, after a walk of two days out of
Dover. He descended London's borough, having exactly twopence halfpenny
for refreshment; following a term of prudent starvation, at the end of
the walk. It is not a district seductive to the wayfarer's appetite;
as, for example, one may find the Jew's fry of fish in oil, inspiriting
the Shoreditch region, to be. Nourishment is afforded, according to the
laws of England's genius in the arts of refection, at uninviting shops,
to the necessitated stomach. A penn'orth of crumb of bread, assisted on
its laborious passage by a penn'orth of the rinsings of beer, left the
natural philosopher a ha'penny for dessert at the stall of an applewoman,
where he withstood an inclination toward the juicy fruit and chose nuts.
They extend a meal, as a grimace broadens the countenance, illusorily;
but they help to cheat an emptiness in time, where it is nearly as
offensive to our sensations as within us; and that prolonged occupation
of the jaws goes a length to persuade us we are filling. All the better
when the substance is indigestible. Tramps of the philosophical order,
who are the practically sagacious, prefer tough grain for the teeth.
Woodseer's munching of his nuts awakened to fond imagination the picture
of his father's dinner, seen one day and little envied: a small slice of
cold boiled mutton-flesh in a crescent of white fat, with a lump of dry
bread beside the plate.
Thus he returned to the only home he had, not disheartened, and bearing
scenes that outvied London's print-shops for polychrome splendour, an
exultation to recall. His condition, moreover, threw his father's life
and work into colour: the lean Whitechapel house of the minister among
the poor; the joy in the saving of souls, if he could persuade himself
that such good labour advanced: and at the fall of light, the pastime
task of bootmaking--a desireable occupation for a thinker. Thought flies
best when the hands are easily busy. Cobblers have excursive minds.
Their occasional rap at the pegs diversifies the stitchings and is often
happily timed to settle an internal argument. Seek in a village for
information concerning the village or the state of mankind, you will be
less disappointed at the cobbler's than elsewhere, it has been said.
As Gower had anticipated, with lively feelings of pleasure, Mr. Woodseer
was at the wonted corner of his back room, on the stool between two
tallow candleflames, leather scented strongly, when the wanderer stood
before him, in the image of a ball that has done with circling about a
'Back?' the minister sang out at once, and his wrinkles gleamed:
Their hands grasped.
'Hungry, sir, rather.'
'To be sure, you are. One can read it on your boots. Mrs. Jones will
spread you a table. How many miles to-day? Show the soles. They tell a
tale of wear.'
They had worn to resemble the thin-edged layers of still upper cloud
round the peep of coming sky.
'About forty odd to-day, sir. They've done their hundreds of miles and
have now come to dock. I 'll ask Mrs. Jones to bring me a plate here.'
Gower went to the housekeeper in the kitchen. His father's front door
was unfastened by day; she had not set eyes on him yet, and Mr. Woodseer
'Now she's got the boy. There 's clasping and kissing. He's all wild
Wales to her.'
The plate of meat was brought by Mary Jones with Gower beside her, and a
sniffle of her happiness audible. She would not, although invited to
stay and burning to hear Gower, wait in the room where father and son had
to talk together after a separation, long to love's counting. She was a
Welshwoman of the pure blood, therefore delicately mannered by nature.
'Yes, dear lad, tobacco helps you on to the marrow of your story, and I
too will blow the cloud,' said Mr. Woodseer, when the plate was pushed
aside and the pipe appeared.
So Gower's recital of his wanderings began, more puffs than speech at the
commencement. He was alternately picturesque and sententious until he
reached Baden; there he became involved, from thinking of a revelation of
beauty in woman.
Mr. Woodseer rapped the leather on his block.
'A place where they have started public gambling, I am told.'
'We must look into all the corners of the world to know it, sir, and the
world has to be riddled or it riddles us.'
'Ah. Did you ever tell a lie, Gower Woodseer?'
'You played. The Lord be thanked you have kept your straight tongue!
The Lord can always enter a heart of truth. Sin cannot dwell with it.
But you played for gain, and that was a licenced thieving; and that was a
backsliding; and there will have to be a climbing up. And what that
means, your hold on truth will learn. Touch sin and you accommodate
yourself to its vileness. Ay, you love nature. Nature is not anchorage
for vessels like men. If you loved the Book you would float in harbour.
You played. I do trust you lost.'
'You have your wish, sir.'
'To have won their money, Gower! Rather starve.'
'Your reason for playing, poor lad?'
'The reason eludes reason.'
'Not in you.'
'Sight of the tables; an itch to try them--one's self as well; a notion
that the losers were playing wrong. In fine, a bit of a whirl of a
medley of atoms; I can't explain it further.'
'Ah. The tippler's fumes in his head! Spotty business, Gower Woodseer.
"Lead us not into temptation" is worldly wisdom in addition to heavenly.'
After listening to an extended homily, with a general assent and
tobacco's phlegm, Gower replied to his father's 'You starved manfully?'
nodding: 'From Baden to Nancy. An Alsatian cottager at times helped me
along, milk and bread.'
'Wholesome for body and for soul.'
'Entering Nancy I subscribed to the dictum of our first fathers, which
dogs would deliver, if they could speak: that there is no driver like
stomach: and I went head on to the College, saw the Principal: plea of
urgency. No engagement possible, to teach either French or English. But
he was inquisitive touching the urgency. That was my chance. The French
are humane when they are not suspicious of you. They are generous, if
you put a light to their minds. As I was dealing with a scholarly one,
I made use of such ornamental literary skill as I possessed, to prove
urgency. He supplied me with bread, fruit, and wine. In the end he
procured me pupils. I lodged over a baker's shop. I had food walks, and
learnt something of forestry there--a taking study. When I had saved
enough to tramp it home, I said my adieux to that good friend and tramped
away, entering London with about the same amount in small coin as when I
entered Nancy. A manner of exactly hitting the mark, that some would not
find so satisfactory as it is to me.'
The minister sighed. 'There comes in the "philosophy," I suppose. When
will you understand, that this "philosophy" is only the passive of a
religious faith? It seems to suit you gentlemen of the road while you
are young. Work among the Whitechapel poor. It would be a way for
discovering the shallows of your "philosophy" earlier.'
Gower asked him: 'Going badly here, sir?'
'Murders, robberies, misusage of women, and misconduct of women!--Drink,
in short: about the same amount. Drink is their death's river, rolling
them on helpless as corpses, on to--may they find mercy! I and a few
stand--it's in the tide we stand here, to stop them, pluck them out, make
life a bit sweet to them before the poor bodies go beneath. But come!
all's not dark, we have our gleams. I speak distressed by one of our
girls: a good girl, I believe; and the wilfullest that ever had command
of her legs. A well-favoured girl! You'll laugh, she has given her
heart to a prize-fighter. Well, you can say, she might have chosen
worse. He drinks, she hates it; she loves the man and hates his vice.
He swears amendment, is hiccupping at night; fights a match on the
morrow, and gets beaten out of formation. No matter: whenever, wherever,
that man goes to his fight, that girl follows to nurse him after it.
He's her hero. Women will have one, and it's their lottery. You read of
such things; here we have it alive and walking. I am led to think they
're an honest couple. They come of established families. Her mother was
out of Caermarthen; died under my ministration, saintly, forgiving the
drunkard. You may remember the greengrocer, Tobias Winch? He passed
away in shrieks for one drop. I had to pitch my voice to the top notes
to get hearing for the hymn. He was a reverent man, with the craving by
fits. That should have been a lesson to Madge.'
'A little girl at the greengrocer's hard by? She sold me apples; rather
pretty,' said Gower.
'A fine grown girl now--Madge Winch; a comely wench she is. It breaks
her sister Sarah's heart. They both manage the little shop; they make it
prosper in a small way; enough, and what need they more? Then
Christopher Ines has on one of his matches. Madge drives her cart out,
if it 's near town. She's off down into Kent to-day by coach, Sarah
tells me. A great nobleman patronizes Christopher; a Lord Fleetwood,
a lord of wealth. And he must be thoughtful for these people: he sent
Sarah word that Christopher should not touch drink. You may remember a
butcher Ines in the street next to us. Christopher was a wild lad,
always at "best man" with every boy he met: went to sea--ran away. He
returned a pugilist. The girl will be nursing him now. I have spoken to
her of him; and I trust to her; but I mourn her attachment to the man who
'The lord's name?' said Gower.
'Lord Fleetwood, Sarah named him. And so it pleases him to spend his
'He has other tastes. I know something of him, sir. He promises to be a
patron of Literature as well. His mother was a South Wales woman.'
'Could he be persuaded to publish a grand edition of the Triads?' Mr.
Woodseer said at once.
'No man more likely.'
'If you see him, suggest it.'
'Very little chance of my meeting him again. But those Triads! They're
in our blood. They spring to tie knots in the head. They push me to
condense my thoughts to a tight ball. They were good for primitive
times: but they--or the trick of the mind engendered by them--trip my
steps along the lines of composition. I produce pellets instead of
flowing sheets. It'll come right. At present I 'm so bent to pick and
perfect, polish my phrase, that I lose my survey. As a consequence, my
'Ah,' Mr. Woodseer breathed and smote. 'This Literature is to be your
profession for the means of living?'
'Nothing else. And I'm so low down in the market way of it, that I could
not count on twenty pounds per annum. Fifty would give me standing, an
'To whom are you crying, Gower?'
'Not to gamble, you may be sure.'
'You have a home.'
'Good work of the head wants an easy conscience. I've too much of you in
me for a comfortable pensioner.'
'Or is it not, that you have been living the gentleman out there, with
just a holiday title to it?'
Gower was hit by his father's thrust. 'I shall feel myself a pieman's
chuckpenny as long as I'm unproductive, now I 've come back and have to
own to a home,' he said.
Tea brought in by Mrs. Mary Jones rather brightened him until he
considered that the enlivenment was due to a purchase by money,
of which he was incapable, and he rejected it, like an honourable man.
Simultaneously, the state of depression threw critic shades on a prized
sentence or two among his recent confections. It was rejected for the
best of reasons and the most discomforting: because it racked our
English; signifying, that he had not yet learnt the right use of his
He was in this wrestle, under a placid demeanour, for several days,
hearing the shouts of Whitechapel Kit's victory, and hearing of Sarah
Winch's anxiety on account of her sister Madge; unaffected by sounds of
joy or grief, in his effort to produce a supple English, with Baden's
Madonna for sole illumination of his darkness. To her, to the
illimitable gold-mist of perspective and the innumerable images the
thought of her painted for him, he owed the lift which withdrew him from
contemplation of himself in a very disturbing stagnant pool of the
wastes; wherein often will strenuous youth, grown faint, behold a face
beneath a scroll inscribed Impostor. All whose aim was high have spied
into that pool, and have seen the face. His glorious lady would not let
it haunt him.
The spell she cast had likewise power to raise him clean out of a
neighbourhood hinting Erebus to the young man with thirst for air,
solitudes, and colour. Scarce imaginable as she was, she reigned here,
in the idea of her, more fixedly than where she had been visible; as it
were, by right of her being celestially removed from the dismal place.
He was at the same time not insensible to his father's contented
ministrations among these homes of squalor; they pricked the curiosity,
which was in the youthful philosopher a form of admiration. For his
father, like all Welshmen, loved the mountains. Yet here he lived,
exhorting, ministering, aiding, supported up to high good cheer by some,
it seemed, superhuman backbone of uprightness;--his religious faith?
Well, if so, the thing might be studied. But things of the frozen
senses, lean and hueless things, were as repellent to Gower's imagination
as his father's dishes to an epicure. What he envied was, the worthy old
man's heart of feeling for others: his feeling at present for the girl
Sarah Winch and her sister Madge, who had not been heard of since she
started for the fight. Mr. Woodseer had written to her relatives at the
Wells, receiving no consolatory answer.
He was relieved at last; and still a little perplexed. Madge had
returned, he informed Gower. She was well, she was well in health; he
had her assurances that she was not excited about herself.
'She has brought a lady with her, a great lady to lodge with her. She
has brought the Countess of Fleetwood to lodge with her.'
Gower heard those words from his father; and his father repeated them.
To the prostrate worshipper of the Countess of Fleetwood, they were a
blow on the head; madness had set in here, was his first recovering
thought, or else a miracle had come to pass. Or was it a sham Countess
of Fleetwood imposing upon the girl? His father was to go and see the
great lady, at the greengrocer's shop; at her request, according to
Madge. Conjectures shot their perishing tracks across a darkness that
deepened and made shipwreck of philosophy. Was it the very Countess of
Fleetwood penitent for her dalliance with the gambling passion, in
feminine need of pastor's aid, having had report from Madge of this good
shepherd? His father expressed a certain surprise; his countenance was
mild. He considered it a merely strange occurrence.
Perhaps, in a crisis, a minister of religion is better armed than a
philosopher. Gower would not own that, but he acknowledged the
evidences, and owned to envy; especially when he accompanied his father
to the greengrocer's shop, and Mr. Woodseer undisturbedly said:
'Here is the place.' The small stuffed shop appeared to grow
portentously cavernous and waveringly illumined.
THE GIRL MADGE
Customers were at the counter of the shop, and these rational figures,
together with the piles of cabbages, the sacks of potatoes, the pale
small oranges here and there, the dominant smell of red herrings, denied
the lurking of an angelical presence behind them.
Sarah Winch and a boy served at the counter. Sarah led the Mr. Woodseers
into a corner knocked off the shop and called a room. Below the top bars
of a wizened grate was a chilly fire. London's light came piecemeal
through a smut-streaked window. If the wonderful was to occur, this was
the place to heighten it.
'My son may be an intruder,' Mr. Woodseer said. 'He is acquainted with a
Lord Fleetwood . . .'
'Madge will know, sir,' replied Sarah, and she sent up a shrill cry for
Madge from the foot of the stairs.
The girl ran down swiftly. She entered listening to Sarah, looking at
Gower; to whom, after a bob and pained smile where reverence was owing,
she said, 'Can you tell me, sir, please, where we can find Lord Fleetwood
Gower was unable to tell. Madge turned to Mr. Woodseer, saying soon
after: 'Oh, she won't mind; she'll be glad, if he knows Lord Fleetwood.
I'll fetch her.'
The moments were of the palpitating order for Gower, although his common
sense lectured the wildest of hearts for expecting such a possibility as
the presence of his lofty lady here.
And, of course, common sense proved to be right: the lady was quite
another. But she struck on a sleeping day of his travels. Her face was
not one to be forgotten, and to judge by her tremble of a smile, she
remembered him instantly.
They were soon conversing, each helping to paint the scene of the place
where they had met.
'Lord Fleetwood has married me,' she said.
Gower bent his head; all stood silent.
'May I?' said Madge to her. 'It is Lord Fleetwood's wedded wife, sir.
He drove her from her uncle's, on her wedding day, the day of a prize-
fight, where I was; he told me to wait on his lady at an inn there, as I
've done and will. He drove away that evening, and he hasn't'--the
girl's black eyebrows worked: 'I've not seen him since. He's a great
nobleman, yes. He left his lady at the inn, expenses paid. He left her
with no money. She stayed on till her heart was breaking. She has come
to London to find him. She had to walk part of the way. She has only a
change of linen we brought in a parcel. She's a stranger to England: she
knows nobody in London. She had no place to come to but this poor hole
of ours she 's so good as let welcome her. We can't do better, and it 's
no use to be ashamed. She 's not a lady to scorn poor people.'
The girl's voice hummed through Gower.
He said: 'Lord Fleetwood may not be in London,' and chafed at himself for
such a quaver.
'It's his house we want, sir, he has not been at his house in Kent. We
want his London house.'
'My dear lady,' said Mr. Woodseer; 'it might be as well to communicate
the state of things to your family without delay. My son will call at
any address you name; or if it is a country address, I can write the
items, with my assurances of your safety under my charge, in my house,
which I beg you to make your home. My housekeeper is known to Sarah and
Madge for an excellent Christian woman.'
Carinthia replied: 'You are kind to me, sir. I am grateful. I have an
uncle; I would not disturb my uncle; he is inventing guns and he wishes
peace. It is my husband I have come to find. He did not leave me in
She coloured. With a dimple of tenderness at one cheek, looking from
Sarah to Madge, she said: 'I would not leave my friends; they are sisters
to me.' Sarah, at these words, caught up her apron. Madge did no more
than breathe deep and fast.
An unoccupied cold parlour in Mr. Woodseer's house that would be heated
for a guest, urged him to repeat his invitation, but he took the check
from Gower, who suggested the doubt of Mary Jones being so good an
attendant upon Lady Fleetwood as Madge. 'And Madge has to help in the
shop at times.'
Madge nodded, looked into the eyes of her mistress, which sanctioned her
saying: 'She will like it best here, she is my lady and I understand her
best. My lady gives no trouble: she is hardy, she's not like other
ladies. I and Sarah sleep together in the room next. I can hear
anything she wants. She takes us as if she was used to it.'
Sarah had to go to serve a customer. Madge made pretence of pricking her
ears and followed into the shop.
'Your first visit to London is in ugly weather, Lady Fleetwood,' said
'It is my first,' she answered.
How the marriage came about, how the separation, could not be asked and
was not related.
'Our district is not all London, my dear lady,' said Mr. Woodseer.
'Good hearts are here, as elsewhere, and as many, if one looks behind the
dirt. I have found it since I laboured amongst them, now twenty years.
Unwashed human nature, though it is natural to us to wash, is the most
human, we find.'
Gower questioned the naturalness of human nature's desire to wash; and
they wrangled good-humouredly, Carinthia's eyes dwelling on them each in
turn; until Mr. Woodseer, pursuing the theme started by him to interest
her, spoke of consolations derived from his labours here, in exchange for
the loss of his mountains. Her face lightened.
'You love the mountains?'
'I am a son of the mountains.'
'Ah, I love them! Father called me a daughter of the mountains. I was
born in the mountains. I was leaving my mountains on the day, I think it
yesterday, when I met this gentleman who is your son.'
'A glorious day it was!' Gower exclaimed.
'It was a day of great glory for me,' said Carinthia. 'Your foot did not
pain you for long?'
'The length of two pipes. You were with your brother.'
'With my brother. My brother has married a most beautiful lady. He is
now travelling his happy time--my Chillon !'
There came a radiance on her under-eyelids. There was no weeping.
Struck by the contrast between the two simultaneous honeymoons, and a
vision of the high-spirited mountain girl, seen in this place a young
bride seeking her husband, Gower Woodseer could have performed that
unphilosophical part. He had to shake himself. She seemed really a
soaring bird brought down by the fowler.
Lord Fleetwood's manner of abandoning her was the mystery.
Gower stood waiting for her initiative, when the minister interposed:
'There are books, books of our titled people-the Peers, books of the
Peerage. They would supply the address. My son will discover where to
examine them. He will find the address. Most of the great noblemen have
a London house.'
'My husband has a house in London,' Carinthia said.
'I know him, to some degree,' said Gower.
She remarked: 'I have heard that you do.'
Her lips were shut, as to any hint at his treatment of her.
Gower went into the shop to speak with Madge. The girl was talking in
the business tone to customers; she finished her commission hurriedly and
joined him on the pavement by the doorstep. Her voice was like the
change for the swing of a door from street to temple.
'You've seen how brave she is, sir. She has things to bear. Never
cries, never frets. Her marriage day--leastways . . . I can't, no
girl can tell. A great nobleman, yes. She waited, believing in him;
she does. She hasn't spoken to me of what she's had to bear. I don't
know; I guess; I'm sure I'm right--and him a man! Girls learn to know
men, call them gentlemen or sweeps. She thinks she has only to meet him
to persuade him she 's fit to be loved by him. She thinks of love.
Would he--our tongues are tied except among ourselves to a sister.
Leaves her by herself, with only me, after--it knocks me dumb! Many a
man commits a murder wouldn't do that. She could force him to--no, it
isn't a house she wants, she wants him. He's her husband, Mr. Woodseer.
You will do what you can to help; I judge by your father. I and Sarah
'll slave for her to be as comfortable--as we--can make her; we can't
give her what she 's used to. I shall count the hours.'
'You sold me apples when your head was just above the counter,' said
'Did I?--you won't lose time, sir?' she rejoined. 'Her box is down at
the beastly inn in Kent. Kind people, I dare say; their bill was paid
any extent, they said. And he might do as he liked in it--enter it like
a thief, if it pleased him, and off like one, and they no wiser. She
walked to his big house Esslemont for news of him. And I'm not a
snivelling wench either; but she speaks of him a way to make a girl
drink her tears, if they ain't to be let fall.'
'But you had a victory down there,' Gower hinted congratulations.
'Ah,' said she.
'Christopher Ines is all right now?'
'I've as good as lost my good name for Kit Ines, Mr. Woodseer.'
'Not with my dad, Madge.'
'The minister reads us at the heart. Shall we hear the street of his
house in London before night?'
'I may be late.'
'I'll be up, any hour, for a rap at the shutters. I want to take her to
the house early next morning. She won't mind the distance. She lies in
bed, her eyes shut or open, never sleeping, hears any mouse. It
shouldn't go on, if we can do a thing to help.'
'I'm off,' said Gower, unwontedly vexed at his empty pocket, that could
not offer the means for conveyance to a couple of young women.
The dark-browed girl sent her straight eyes at him. They pushed him to
hasten. On second thoughts, he stopped and hailed her; he was moved to
confirm an impression of this girl's features.
His mind was directed to the business burning behind them, honestly
enough, as soon as he had them in sight again.
'I ought to have the address of some of her people, in case,' he said.
'She won't go to her uncle, I 'm sure of that,' said Madge. 'He 's a
lord and can't be worried. It 's her husband to find first.'
'If he's to be found!--he's a lord, too. Has she no other relatives or
'She loves her brother. He's an officer. He's away on honeymoon.
There 's an admiral down Hampshire way, a place I've been near and seen.
I'd not have you go to any of them, sir, without trying all we can do to
find Lord Fleetwood. It's Admiral Fakenham she speaks of; she's fond of
him. She's not minded to bother any of her friends about herself.'
'I shall see you to-night,' said Gower, and set his face Westward,
remembering that his father had named Caermarthen as her mother's
Just in that tone of hers do Welshwomen talk of their country; of its
history, when at home, of its mountains, when exiled: and in a language
like hers, bare of superlatives to signify an ardour conveyed by the fire
of the breath. Her quick devotion to a lady exciting enthusiasm through
admiring pity for the grace of a much-tried quiet sweetness, was
explained; apart from other reasons, feminine or hidden, which might
exist. Only a Welsh girl would be so quick and all in it, with a voice
intimating a heated cauldron under her mouth. None but a Welsh-blooded
girl, risking her good name to follow and nurse the man she considered a
hero, would carry her head to look virgin eyes as she did. One could
swear to them, Gower thought. Contact with her spirited him out of his
He had the Cymric and Celtic respect of character; which puts aside the
person's environments to face the soul. He was also an impressionable
fellow among his fellows, a philosopher only at his leisure, in his
courted solitudes. Getting away some strides from this girl of the
drilling voice,--the shudder-voice, he phrased it,--the lady for whom she
pleaded came clearer into his view and gradually absorbed him; though it
was an emulation with the girl Madge, of which he was a trifle conscious,
that drove him to do his work of service in the directest manner. He
then fancied the girl had caught something of the tone of her lady: the
savage intensity or sincerity; and he brooded on Carinthia's position,
the mixture of the astounding and the woful in her misadventure. One
could almost laugh at our human fate, to think of a drop off the radiant
mountain heights upon a Whitechapel greengrocer's shop, gathering the
title of countess midway.
But nothing of the ludicrous touched her; no, and if we bring reason to
scan our laugh at pure humanity, it is we who are in the place of the
ridiculous, for doing what reason disavows. Had he not named her,
Carinthia, Saint and Martyr, from a first perusal of her face? And Lord
Fleetwood had read and repeated it. Lord Fleetwood had become the
instrument to martyrize her? That might be; there was a hoard of bad
stuff in his composition besides the precious: and this was a nobleman
owning enormous wealth, who could vitiate himself by disposing of a
multitude of men and women to serve his will, a shifty will. Wealth
creates the magician, and may breed the fiend within him. In the hands
of a young man, wealth is an invitation to devilry. Gower's idea of the
story of Carinthia inclined to charge Lord Fleetwood with every possible
false dealing. He then quashed the charge, and decided to wait for
At the second of the aristocratic Clubs of London's West, into which he
stepped like an easy member, the hall-porter did not examine his clothing
from German hat to boots, and gave him Lord Fleetwood's town address.
He could tell Madge at night by the door of the shuttered shop, that Lord
Fleetwood had gone down to Wales.
'It means her having to wait,' she said. 'The minister has been to the
coach-office, to order up her box from that inn. He did it in his name;
they can't refuse; no money's owing. She must have a change. Sally has
fifteen pounds locked up in case of need.'
Sally's capacity and economy fetched the penniless philosopher a slap.
'You've taken to this lady,' he said.
'She held my hand, while Kit Ines was at his work; and I was new to her,
and a prize-fighter's lass, they call me:--upon the top of that
nobleman's coach, where he made me sit, behind her, to see the fight;
and she his wedded lady that morning. A queer groom. He may keep Kit
Ines from drink, he's one of you men, and rides over anything in his way.
I can't speak about it; I could swear it before a judge, from what I
know. Those Rundles at that inn don't hear anything it suits him to do.
All the people down in those parts are slaves to him. And I thought he
was a real St. George before,--yes, ready I was to kiss the ground his
feet crossed. If you could, it's Chinningfold near where Admiral
Fakenham lives, down Hampshire way. Her friends ought to hear what's
happened to her. They'll find her in a queer place. She might go to the
minister's. I believe she's happier with us girls.'
Gower pledged his word to start for Chinningfold early as the light next
day. He liked the girl the better, in an amicable fashion, now that his
nerves had got free of the transient spell of her kettle tone--the hardly
varied one note of a heart boiling with sisterly devotion to a misused
stranger of her sex;--and, after the way of his race, imagination sprang
up in him, at the heels of the quieted senses, releasing him from the
personal and physical to grasp the general situation and place the
He thought of Carinthia, with full vision of her. Some wrong had been
done, or some violation of the right, to guess from the girl Madge's
molten words in avoidance of the very words. It implied--though it might
be but one of Love's shrewder discords--such suspected traitorous dealing
of a man with their sister woman as makes the world of women all woman
toward her. They can be that, and their being so illuminates their
hidden sentiments in relation to the mastering male, whom they uphold.
But our uninformed philosopher was merely picking up scraps of sheddings
outside the dark wood of the mystery they were to him, and playing
imagination upon them. This primary element of his nature soon enthroned
his chosen lady above their tangled obscurities. Beneath her tranquil
beams, with the rapture of the knowledge that her name on earth was
Livia, he threaded East London's thoroughfares,--on a morning when day
and night were made one by fog, to journey down to Chinningfold, by
coach, in the service of the younger Countess of Fleetwood, whose right
to the title he did not doubt, though it directed surprise movements at
his understanding from time to time.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Cock-sure has crowed low by sunset
Drink is their death's river, rolling them on helpless
Father and she were aware of one another without conversing
Fun, at any cost, is the one object worth a shot
He was the prisoner of his word
Heartily she thanked the girl for the excuse to cry
Hearts that make one soul do not separately count their gifts
Life is the burlesque of young dreams
Make a girl drink her tears, if they ain't to be let fall
On a morning when day and night were made one by fog
Poetic romance is delusion
Push me to condense my thoughts to a tight ball
She endured meekly, when there was no meekness
She seemed really a soaring bird brought down by the fowler
She stood with a dignity that the word did not express
There is no driver like stomach
Touch sin and you accommodate yourself to its vileness
You played for gain, and that was a licenced thieving