Part 5 out of 7
Mr. Pomeroy leaned forward and leered at the tutor. 'Shall we let him
go?' he whispered. 'It will mend somebody's chance. What say you,
Parson? You stand next. Make it six thousand instead of five, and I'll
see to it.'
'Let me go to her!' my lord hiccoughed. He was standing, holding by the
back of a chair. 'I tell you--I--where is she? You are jealous! That's
what you are! Jealous! She is fond of me--pretty charmer--and I shall
go to her!'
But Mr. Thomasson shook his head; not so much because he shrank from the
outrage which the other contemplated with a grin, as because he now
wished Lord Almeric to succeed. He thought it possible and even likely
that the girl, dazzled by his title, would be willing to take the young
sprig of nobility. And the influence of the Doyley family was great.
He shook his head therefore, and Mr. Pomeroy rebuffed, solaced himself
with a couple of glasses of punch. After that, Mr. Thomasson pleaded
fatigue as his reason for declining to take a hand at any game whatever,
and my lord continuing to maunder and flourish and stagger, the host
reluctantly suggested bed; and going to the door bawled for Jarvey and
his lordship's man. They came, but were found to be incapable of
standing when apart. The tutor and Mr. Pomeroy, therefore, took my lord
by the arms and partly shoved and partly supported him to his room.
There was a second bed in the chamber. 'You had better tumble in there,
Parson,' said Mr. Pomeroy. 'What say you? Will't do?'
'Finely,' Tommy answered. 'I am obliged to you.' And when they had
jointly loosened his lordship's cravat, and removed his wig and set the
cool jug of small beer within his reach, Mr. Pomeroy bade the other a
curt good-night, and took himself off.
Mr. Thomasson waited until his footsteps ceased to echo in the gallery,
and then, he scarcely knew why, he furtively opened the door and peeped
out. All was dark; and save for the regular tick of the pendulum on the
stairs, the house was still. Mr. Thomasson, wondering which way Julia's
room lay, stood listening until a stair creaked; and then, retiring
precipitately, locked his door. Lord Almeric, in the gloom of the green
moreen curtains that draped his huge four-poster, had fallen into a
drunken slumber. The shadow of his wig, which Pomeroy had clapped on the
wig-stand by the bed, nodded on the wall, as the draught moved the
tails. Mr. Thomasson shivered, and, removing the candle--as was his
prudent habit of nights--to the hearth, muttered that a goose was
walking over his grave, undressed quickly, and jumped into bed.
LORD ALMERIC'S SUIT
When Julia awoke in the morning, without start or shock, to the dreary
consciousness of all she had lost, she was still under the influence of
the despair which had settled on her spirits overnight, and had run like
a dark stain through her troubled dreams. Fatigue of body and lassitude
of mind, the natural consequences of the passion and excitement of her
adventure, combined to deaden her faculties. She rose aching in all her
limbs--yet most at heart--and wearily dressed herself; but neither saw
nor heeded the objects round her. The room to which poor puzzled Mrs.
Olney had hastily consigned her looked over a sunny stretch of park,
sprinkled with gnarled thorn-trees that poorly filled the places of the
oaks and chestnuts which the gaming-table had consumed. Still, the
outlook pleased the eye, nor was the chamber itself lacking in
liveliness. The panels on the walls, wherein needlework cockatoos and
flamingoes, wrought under Queen Anne, strutted in the care of needlework
black-boys, were faded and dull; but the pleasant white dimity with
which the bed was hung relieved and lightened them.
To Julia it was all one. Wrapped in bitter thoughts and reminiscences,
her bosom heaving from time to time with ill-restrained grief, she gave
no thought to such things, or even to her position, until Mrs. Olney
appeared and informed her that breakfast awaited her in another room.
Then, 'Can I not take it here?' she asked, shrinking painfully from the
prospect of meeting any one.
'Here?' Mrs. Olney repeated. The housekeeper never closed her mouth,
except when she spoke; for which reason, perhaps, her face faithfully
mirrored the weakness of her mind.
'Yes,' said Julia. 'Can I not take it here, if you please? I suppose--we
shall have to start by-and-by?' she added, shivering.
'By-and-by, ma'am?' Mrs. Olney answered. 'Oh, yes.'
'Then I can have it here.'
'Oh, yes, if you please to follow me, ma'am.' And she held the door
Julia shrugged her shoulders, and, contesting the matter no further,
followed the good woman along a corridor and through a door which shut
off a second and shorter passage. From this three doors opened,
apparently into as many apartments. Mrs. Olney threw one wide and
ushered her into a room damp-smelling, and hung with drab, but of good
size and otherwise comfortable. The windows looked over a neglected
Dutch garden, which was so rankly overgrown that the box hedges scarce
rose above the wilderness of parterres. Beyond this, and divided from it
by a deep-sunk fence, a pool fringed with sedges and marsh-weeds carried
the eye to an alder thicket that closed the prospect.
Julia, in her relief on finding that the table was laid for one only,
paid no heed to the outlook or to the bars that crossed the windows, but
sank into a chair and mechanically ate and drank. Apprised after a while
that Mrs. Olney had returned and was watching her with fatuous
good-nature, she asked her if she knew at what hour she was to leave.
'To leave?' said the housekeeper, whose almost invariable custom it was
to repeat the last words addressed to her. 'Oh, yes, to leave.
'But at what time?' Julia asked, wondering whether the woman was as dull
as she seemed.
'Yes, at what time?' Then after a pause and with a phenomenal effort, 'I
will go and see--if you please.'
She returned presently. 'There are no horses,' she said. 'When they are
ready the gentleman will let you know.'
'They have sent for some?'
'Sent for some,' repeated Mrs. Olney, and nodded, but whether in assent
or imbecility it was hard to say.
After that Julia troubled her no more, but rising from her meal had
recourse to the window and her own thoughts. These were in unison with
the neglected garden and the sullen pool, which even the sunshine failed
to enliven. Her heart was torn between the sense of Sir George's
treachery--which now benumbed her brain and now awoke it to a fury of
resentment--and fond memories of words and looks and gestures, that
shook her very frame and left her sick--love-sick and trembling. She did
not look forward or form plans; nor, in the dull lethargy in which she
was for the most part sunk, was she aware of the passage of time until
Mrs. Olney came in with mouth and eyes a little wider than usual, and
announced that the gentleman was coming up.
Julia supposed that the woman referred to Mr. Thomasson; and, recalled
to the necessity of returning to Marlborough, she gave a reluctant
permission. Great was her astonishment when, a moment later, not the
tutor, but Lord Almeric, fanning himself with a laced handkerchief and
carrying his little French hat under his arm, appeared on the threshold,
and entered simpering and bowing. He was extravagantly dressed in a
mixed silk coat, pink satin waistcoat, and a mushroom stock, with
breeches of silver net and white silk stockings; and had a large pearl
pin thrust through his wig. Unhappily, his splendour, designed to
captivate the porter's daughter, only served to exhibit more plainly the
nerveless hand and sickly cheeks which he owed to last night's debauch.
Apparently he was aware of this, for his first words were, 'Oh, Lord!
What a twitter I am in! I vow and protest, ma'am, I don't know where you
get your roses of a morning. But I wish you would give me the secret.'
'Sir!' she said, interrupting him, surprise in her face. 'Or'--with a
momentary flush of confusion--'I should say, my lord, surely there must
be some mistake here.'
'None, I dare swear,' Lord Almeric answered, bowing gallantly. 'But I am
in such a twitter'--he dropped his hat and picked it up again--'I hardly
know what I am saying. To be sure, I was devilish cut last night! I hope
nothing was said to--to--oh, Lord! I mean I hope you were not much
incommoded by the night air, ma'am.'
'The night air has not hurt me, I thank you,' said Julia, who did not
take the trouble to hide her impatience.
However, my lord, nothing daunted, expressed himself monstrously glad to
hear it; monstrously glad. And after looking about him and humming and
hawing, 'Won't you sit?' he said, with a killing glance.
'I am leaving immediately,' Julia answered, and declined with coldness
the chair which he pushed forward. At another time his foppish dress
might have moved her to smiles, or his feebleness and vapid oaths to
pity. This morning she needed her pity for herself, and was in no
smiling mood. Her world had crashed around her; she would sit and weep
among the ruins, and this butterfly insect flitted between. After a
moment, as he did not speak, 'I will not detain your lordship,' she
continued, curtseying frigidly.
'Cruel beauty!' my lord answered, dropping his hat and clasping his
hands in an attitude. And then, to her astonishment, 'Look, ma'am,' he
cried with animation, 'look, I beseech you, on the least worthy of your
admirers and deign to listen to him. Listen to him while--and don't, oh,
I say, don't stare at me like that,' he continued hurriedly,
plaintiveness suddenly taking the place of grandiloquence. 'I vow and
protest I am in earnest.'
'Then you must be mad!' Julia cried in great wrath. 'You can have no
other excuse, sir, for talking to me like that!'
'Excuse!' he cried rapturously. 'Your eyes are my excuse, your lips,
your shape! Whom would they not madden, ma'am? Whom would they not
charm--insanitate--intoxicate? What man of sensibility, seeing them at
an immeasurable distance, would not hasten to lay his homage at the feet
of so divine, so perfect a creature, whom even to see is to taste of
bliss! Deign, madam, to--Oh, I say, you don't mean to say you are really
of--offended?' Lord Almeric stuttered in amazement, again falling
lamentably from the standard of address which he had conned while his
man was shaving him. 'You--you--look here--'
'You must be mad!' Julia cried, her eyes flashing lightning on the
unhappy beau. 'If you do not leave me, I will call for some one to put
you out! How dare you insult me? If there were a bell I could reach--'
Lord Almeric stared in the utmost perplexity; and fallen from his high
horse, alighted on a kind of dignity. 'Madam,' he said with a little bow
and a strut, ''tis the first time an offer of marriage from one of my
family has been called an insult! And I don't understand it. Hang me! If
we have married fools, we have married high!'
It was Julia's turn to be overwhelmed with confusion. Having nothing
less in her mind than marriage, and least of all an offer of marriage
from such a person, she had set down all he had said to impudence and
her unguarded situation. Apprised of his meaning, she experienced a
degree of shame, and muttered that she had not understood; she craved
'Beauty asks and beauty has!' Lord Almeric answered, bowing and kissing
the tips of his fingers, his self-esteem perfectly restored.
Julia frowned. 'You cannot be in earnest,' she said.
'Never more in earnest in my life!' he replied. 'Say the word--say
you'll have me,' he continued, pressing his little hat to his breast and
gazing over it with melting looks, 'most adorable of your sex, and I'll
call up Pomeroy, I'll call up Tommy, the old woman, too, if you choose,
and tell 'em, tell 'em all.'
'I must be dreaming,' Julia murmured, gazing at him in a kind of
'Then if to dream is to assent, dream on, fair love!' his lordship
spouted with a grand air. And then, 'Hang it! that's--that's rather
clever of me,' he continued. 'And I mean it too! Oh, depend upon it,
there's nothing that a man won't think of when he's in love! And I am
fallen confoundedly in love with--with you, ma'am.'
'But very suddenly,' Julia replied. She was beginning to recover from
'You don't think that I am sincere?' he protested plaintively. 'You
doubt me! Then--'he advanced a pace towards her with hat and arms
extended, 'let the eloquence of a--a feeling heart plead for me; a
heart, too--yes, too sensible of your charms, and--and your many merits,
ma'am! Yes, most adorable of your sex. But there,' he added, breaking
off abruptly, 'I said that before, didn't I? Yes. Lord! what a memory I
have got! I am all of a twitter. I was so cut last night, I don't know
what I am saying.'
'That I believe,' Julia said with chilling severity.
'Eh, but--but you do believe I am in earnest?' he cried anxiously.
'Shall I kneel to you? Shall I call up the servants and tell them? Shall
I swear that I mean honourably? Lord! I am no Mr. Thornhill! I'll make
it as public as you like,' he continued eagerly. 'I'll send for
'Spare me the bishop,' Julia rejoined with a faint smile, 'and any
farther appeals. They come, I am convinced, my lord, rather from your
head than your heart.'
'Oh, Lord, no!' he cried.
'Oh, Lord, yes,' she answered with a spice of her old archness. 'I may
have a tolerable opinion of my own attractions--women commonly have, it
is said. But I am not so foolish, my lord, as to suppose that on the
three or four occasions on which I have seen you I can have gained your
heart. To what I am to attribute your sudden--shall I call it whim or
fancy--' Julia continued with a faint blush, 'I do not know. I am
willing to suppose that you do not mean to insult me.'
Lord Almeric denied it with a woeful face.
'Or to deceive me. I am willing to suppose,' she repeated, stopping him
by a gesture as he tried to speak, 'that you are in earnest for the
time, my lord, in desiring to make me your wife, strange and sudden as
the desire appears. It is a great honour, but it is one which I must as
earnestly and positively decline.'
'Why?' he cried, gaping, and then, 'O 'swounds, ma'am, you don't mean
it?' he continued piteously. 'Not have me? Not have me? And why?'
'Because,' she said modestly, 'I do not love you, my lord.'
'Oh, but--but when we are married,' he answered eagerly, rallying his
scattered forces, 'when we are one, sweet maid--'
'That time will never come,' she replied cruelly. And then gloom
overspreading her face, 'I shall never marry, my lord. If it be any
consolation to you, no one shall be preferred to you.'
'Oh, but, damme, the desert air and all that!' Lord Almeric cried,
fanning himself violently with his hat. 'I--oh, you mustn't talk like
that, you know. Lord! you might be some queer old put of a dowager!' And
then, with a burst of sincere feeling, for his little heart was inflamed
by her beauty, and his manhood--or such of it as had survived the
lessons of Vauxhall, and Mr. Thomasson--rose in arms at sight of her
trouble, 'See here, child,' he said in his natural voice, 'say yes, and
I'll swear I'll be kind to you! Sink me if I am not! And, mind you,
you'll be my lady. You'll to Ranelagh and the masquerades with the best.
You shall have your box at the opera and the King's House; you shall
have your frolic in the pit when you please, and your own money for loo
and brag, and keep your own woman and have her as ugly as the bearded
lady, for what I care--I want nobody's lips but yours, sweet, if you'll
be kind. And, so help me, I'll stop at one bottle, my lady, and play as
small as a Churchwarden's club! And, Lord, I don't see why we should not
be as happy together as James and Betty!'
She shook her head; but kindly, with tears in her eyes and a trembling
lip. She was thinking of another who might have given her all this, or
as much as was to her taste; one with whom she had looked to be as happy
as any James and Betty. 'It is impossible, my lord,' she said.
'Honest Abraham?' he cried, very downcast.
'Oh, yes, yes!'
'S'help me, you are melting!'
'No, no!' she cried, 'it is not--it is not that! It is impossible, I
tell you. You don't know what you ask,' she continued, struggling with
the emotion that almost mastered her.
'But, curse me, I know what I want!' he answered gloomily. 'You may go
farther and fare worse! Lord, I swear you may. I'd be kind to you, and
it is not everybody would be that!'
She had turned from him that he might not see her face, and she did not
answer. He waited a moment, twiddling his hat; his face was overcast,
his mood hung between spite and pity. At last, 'Well, 'tisn't my fault,'
he said; and then relenting again, 'But there, I know what women
are--vapours one day, kissing the next. I'll try again, my lady. I am
She flung him a gesture that meant assent, dissent, dismissal, as he
pleased to interpret it. He took it to mean the first, and muttering,
'Well, well, have it your own way. I'll go for this time. But hang all
prudes, say I,' he withdrew reluctantly, and slowly closed the door
As soon as he was gone the tempest, which Julia's pride had enabled her
to stern for a time, broke forth in a passion of tears and sobs, and,
throwing herself on the shabby window-seat, she gave free vent to her
grief. The happy future which the little bean had dangled before her
eyes, absurdly as he had fashioned and bedecked it, reminded her all too
sharply of that which she had promised herself with one, in whose
affections she had fancied herself secure, despite the attacks of the
prettiest Abigail in the world. How fondly had her fancy depicted life
with him! With what happy blushes, what joyful tremors! And now? What
wonder that at the thought a fresh burst of grief convulsed her frame,
or that she presently passed from the extremity of grief to the
extremity of rage, and, realising anew Sir George's heartless desertion
and more cruel perfidy, rubbed her tear-stained face in the dusty chintz
of the window-seat--that had known so many childish sorrows--and there
choked the fierce, hysterical words that rose to her lips?
Or what wonder that her next thought was revenge? She sat up, with her
back to the window and the unkempt garden, whence the light stole
through the disordered masses of her hair; her face to the empty room.
Revenge? Yes, she could punish him; she could take this money from him,
she could pursue him with a woman's unrelenting spite, she could hound
him from the country, she could have all but his life. But none of these
things would restore her maiden pride; would remove from her the stain
of his false love, or rebut the insolent taunt of the eyes to which she
had bowed herself captive. If she could so beat him with his own weapons
that he should doubt his conquest, doubt her love; if she could effect
that, there was no method she would not adopt, no way she would
Pique in a woman's mind, even in the mind of the best, finds a rival the
tool readiest to hand. A wave of crimson swept across Julia's pale face,
and she stood up on her feet. Lady Almeric! Lady Almeric Doyley! Here
was a revenge, the fittest of revenges, ready to her hand, if she could
bring herself to take it. What if, in the same hour in which he heard
that his plan had gone amiss, he heard that she was to marry another?
and such another that marry almost whom he might she would take
precedence of his wife. That last was a small thought, a petty thought,
worthy of a smaller mind than Julia's; but she was a woman, and
passionate, and the charms of such a revenge in the general, came home
to her. It would show him that others valued what he had cast away; it
would convince him--she hoped, him I yet, alas! she doubted--that she
had taken his suit as lightly as he had meant it. It would give her a
home, a place, a settled position in the world.
She followed it no farther; perhaps because she would act on impulse
rather than on reason, blindly rather than on foresight. In haste, with
trembling fingers, she set a chair below the broken, frayed end of a
bell-rope that hung on the wall. Reaching it, as if she feared her
resolution might fail before the event, she pulled and pulled
frantically, until hurrying footsteps came along the passage, and Mrs.
Olney with a foolish face of alarm entered the room.
'Fetch--tell the gentleman to come back,' Julia cried, breathing
'To come back?'
'Yes! The gentleman who was here now.'
'Oh, yes, the gentleman,' Mrs. Olney murmured. 'Your ladyship wishes
Julia's very brow turned crimson; but her resolution held. 'Yes, I wish
to see him,' she said imperiously. 'Tell him to come to me!'
She stood erect, panting and defiant, her eyes on the door while the
woman went to do her bidding--waited erect, refusing to think, her face
set hard, until far down the outer passage--Mrs. Olney had left the door
open--the sound of shuffling feet and a shrill prattle of words heralded
Lord Almeric's return. Presently he came tripping in with a smirk and a
bow, the inevitable little hat under his arm. Before he had recovered
the breath the ascent of the stairs had cost him, he was in an attitude
that made the best of his white silk stockings.
'See at your feet the most obedient of your slaves, ma'am!' he cried.
'To hear was to obey, to obey was to fly! If it's Pitt's diamond you
need, or Lady Mary's soap-box, or a new conundrum, or--hang it all! I
cannot think of anything else, but command me! I'll forth and get it,
stap me if I won't!'
'My lord, it is nothing of that kind,' Julia answered, her voice steady,
though her cheeks burned.
'Eh? what? It's not!' he babbled. 'Then what is it? Command me, whatever
'I believe, my lord,' she said, smiling faintly, 'that a woman is always
privileged to change her mind--once.'
My lord stared. Then, gathering her meaning as much from her heightened
colour as from her words, 'What!' he screamed. 'Eh? O Lord! Do you mean
that you will have me? Eh? Have you sent for me for that? Do you really
mean that?' And he fumbled for his spy-glass that he might see her face
'I mean,' Julia began; and then, more firmly, 'Yes, I do mean that,' she
said, 'if you are of the same mind, my lord, as you were half an
'Crikey, but I am!' Lord Almeric cried, fairly skipping in his joy. 'By
jingo! I am! Here's to you, my lady! Here's to you, ducky! Oh, Lord! but
I was fit to kill myself five minutes ago, and those fellows would have
done naught but roast me. And now I am in the seventh heaven. Ho! ho!'
he continued, with a comical pirouette of triumph, 'he laughs best who
laughs last. But there, you are not afraid of me, pretty? You'll let me
But Julia, with a face grown suddenly white, shrank back and held out
'Sakes! but to seal the bargain, child,' he remonstrated, trying to get
She forced a faint smile, and, still retreating, gave him her hand to
kiss. 'Seal it on that,' she said graciously. Then, 'Your lordship will
pardon me, I am sure. I am not very well, and--and yesterday has shaken
me. Will you be so good as to leave me now, until to-morrow?'
'To-morrow!' he cried. 'To-morrow! Why, it is an age! An eternity!'
But she was determined to have until to-morrow--God knows why. And, with
a little firmness, she persuaded him, and he went.
Lord Almeric flew down the stairs on the wings of triumph, rehearsing at
each corner the words in which he would announce his conquest. He found
his host and the tutor sitting together in the parlour, in the middle of
a game of shilling hazard; which they were playing, the former with as
much enjoyment and the latter with as much good-humour as consisted with
the fact that Mr. Pomeroy was losing, and Mr. Thomasson played against
his will. The weather had changed for the worse since morning. The sky
was leaden, the trees were dripping, the rain hung in rows of drops
along the rails that flanked the avenue. Mr. Pomeroy cursed the damp
hole he owned and sighed for town and the Cocoa Tree. The tutor wished
he were quit of the company--and his debts. And both were so far from
suspecting what had happened upstairs, though the tutor had his hopes,
that Mr. Pomeroy was offering three to one against his friend, when Lord
Almeric danced in upon them.
'Give me joy!' he cried breathless. 'D'you hear, Pom? She'll take me,
and I have bussed her! March could not have done it quicker! She's mine,
and the pool! She is mine! Give me joy!'
Mr. Thomasson lost not a minute in rising and shaking him by the hand.
'My dear lord,' he said, in a voice rendered unusually rich and mellow
by the prospect of five thousand pounds, 'you make me infinitely happy.
You do indeed! I give your lordship joy! I assure you that it will ever
be a matter of the deepest satisfaction to me that I was the cause under
Providence of her presence here! A fine woman, my lord, and a--a
'A fine woman? Gad! you'd say so if you had held her in your arms!'
cried my lord, strutting and lying.
'I am sure,' Mr. Thomasson hastened to say, 'your lordship is every way
to be congratulated.'
'Gad! you'd say so, Tommy!' the other repeated with a wink. He was in
the seventh heaven of delight.
So far all went swimmingly, neither of them remarking that Mr. Pomeroy
kept silence. But at this point the tutor, whose temper it was to be
uneasy unless all were on his side, happened to turn, saw that he kept
his seat, and was struck with the blackness of his look. Anxious to
smooth over any unpleasantness, and to recall him to the requirements of
the occasion, 'Come, Mr. Pomeroy,' he cried jestingly, 'shall we drink
her ladyship, or is it too early in the day?'
Bully Pomeroy thrust his hands deep into his breeches pockets and did
not budge. ''Twill be time to drink her when the ring is on!' he said,
with an ugly sneer.
'Oh, I vow and protest that's ungenteel,' my lord complained. 'I vow and
protest it is!' he repeated querulously. 'See here, Pom, if you had won
her I'd not treat you like this!'
'Your lordship has not won her yet,' was the churlish answer.
'But she has said it, I tell you. She said she'd have me.'
'She won't be the first woman has altered her mind, nor the last,' Mr.
Pomeroy retorted with an oath. 'You may be amazing sure of that, my
lord.' And muttering something about a woman and a fool being near akin,
he spurned a dog out of his way, overset a chair, and strode cursing
from the room.
Lord Almeric stared after him, his face a queer mixture of vanity and
dismay. At last, 'Strikes me, Tommy, he's uncommon hard hit,' he said,
with a simper. 'He must have made surprising sure of her. Ah!' he
continued with a chuckle, as he passed his hand delicately over his
well-curled wig, and glanced at a narrow black-framed mirror that stood
between the windows. 'He is a bit too old for the women, is Pom. They
run to something lighter in hand. Besides, there's a--a way with the
pretty creatures, if you take me, and Pom has not got it. Now I flatter
myself I have, Tommy, and Julia--it is a sweet name, Julia, don't you
think?--Julia is of that way of thinking. Lord! I know women,' his
lordship continued, beaming the happier the longer he talked. 'It is not
what a man has, or what he has done, or even his taste in a coat or a
wig--though, mind you, a French friseur does a deal to help men to
_bonnes fortunes_--but it is a sort of a way one has. The silly
creatures cannot stand against it.'
Mr. Thomasson hastened to agree, and to vouch her future ladyship's
flame in proof of my lord's prowess. But the tutor was a timid man; and
the more perfect the contentment with which he viewed the turn things
had taken, and the more nearly within his grasp seemed his five
thousand, the graver was the misgiving with which he regarded Mr.
Pomeroy's attitude. He had no notion what shape that gentleman's
hostility might take, nor how far his truculence might aspire. But he
guessed that Lord Almeric's victory had convinced the elder man that his
task would have been easy had the cards favoured him; and when a little
later in the day he saw Pomeroy walking in the park in the drenching
rain, his hands thrust deep into the pockets of his wrap-rascal and his
chin bent on his breast, he trembled. He knew that when men of Mr.
Pomeroy's class take to thinking, some one is likely to lose.
At dinner the tutor's fears were temporarily lulled. Mr. Pomeroy put in
a sulky appearance, but his gloom, it was presently manifest, was due to
the burden of an apology; which, being lamely offered and readily
accepted, he relapsed into his ordinary brusque and reckless mood,
swearing that they would have the lady down and drink her, or if that
were not pleasing, 'Damme, we'll drink her any way!' he continued. 'I
was a toad this morning. No offence meant, my lord. Lover's license, you
know. You can afford to be generous, having won the pool.'
'And the maid,' my lord said with a simper. 'Burn me! you are a good
fellow, Pom. Give me your hand. You shall see her after dinner. She said
to-morrow; but, hang me! I'll to her this evening.'
Mr. Pomeroy expressed himself properly gratified, adding demurely that
he would play no tricks.
'No, hang me! no tricks!' my lord cried somewhat alarmed. 'Not that--'
'Not that I am likely to displace your lordship, her affections once
gained,' said Mr. Pomeroy.
He lowered his face to hide a smile of bitter derision, but he might
have spared his pains; for Lord Almeric, never very wise, was blinded by
vanity. 'No, I should think not,' he said, with a conceit which came
near to deserving the other's contempt. 'I should think not, Tommy. Give
me twenty minutes of a start, as Jack Wilkes says, and you may follow as
you please. I rather fancy I brought down the bird at the first shot?'
'Certainly, my lord.'
'I did, didn't I?'
'Most certainly, your lordship did,' repeated the obsequious tutor;
who, basking in the smiles of his host's good-humour, began to think
that things would run smoothly after all. So the lady was toasted, and
toasted again. Nay, so great was Mr. Pomeroy's complaisance and so easy
his mood, he must needs have up three or four bottles of Brooks and
Hellier that had lain in the cellar half a century--the last of a
batch--and give her a third time in bumpers and no heel-taps.
But that opened Mr. Thomasson's eyes. He saw that Pomeroy had reverted
to his idea of the night before, and was bent on making the young fop
drunk, and exposing him in that state to his mistress; perhaps had the
notion of pushing him on some rudeness that, unless she proved very
compliant indeed, must ruin him for ever with her. Three was their
dinner hour; it was not yet four, yet already the young lord was flushed
and a little flustered, talked fast, swore at Jarvey, and bragged of the
girl lightly and without reserve. By six o'clock, if something were not
done, he would be unmanageable.
The tutor stood in no little awe of his host. He had tremors down his
back when he thought of his violence; nor was this dogged persistence in
a design, as cruel as it was cunning, calculated to lessen the feeling.
But he had five thousand pounds at stake, a fortune on which he had been
pluming himself since noon; it was no time for hesitation. They were
dining in the hall at the table at which they had played cards the night
before, Jarvey and Lord Almeric's servant attending them. Between the
table and the staircase was a screen. The next time Lord Almeric's glass
was filled, the tutor, in reaching something, upset the glass and its
contents over his own breeches, and amid the laughter of the other two
retired behind the screen to be wiped. There he slipped a crown into the
servant's hand, and whispered him to keep his master sober and he should
Mr. Pomeroy saw nothing and heard nothing, and for a time suspected
nothing. The servant was a crafty fellow, a London rascal, deft at
whipping away full bottles. He was an age finding a clean glass, and
slow in drawing the next cork. He filled the host's bumper, and Mr.
Thomasson's, and had but half a glass for his master. The next bottle he
impudently pronounced corked, and when Pomeroy cursed him for a liar,
brought him some in an unwashed glass that had been used for Bordeaux.
The wine was condemned, and went out; and though Pomeroy, with
unflagging spirits, roared to Jarvey to open the other bottles, the
butler had got the office, and was slow to bring them. The cheese came
and went, and left Lord Almeric cooler than it found him. The tutor was
overjoyed at the success of his tactics.
But when the board was cleared, and the bottles were set on, and the men
withdrawn, Bully Pomeroy began to push what remained of the Brooks and
Hellier after a fashion that boded an early defeat to the tutor's
precautions. It was in vain Thomasson clung to the bottle and sometimes
returned it Hertfordshire fashion. The only result was that Mr. Pomeroy
smelt a rat, gave Lord Almeric a back-hander, and sent the bottle on
again, with a grin that told the tutor he was understood.
After that Mr. Thomasson had the choice between sitting still and taking
his own part. It was neck or nothing. Lord Almeric was already
hiccoughing and would soon be talking thickly. The next time the bottle
came round, the tutor retained it, and when Lord Almeric reached, for
it, 'No, my lord,' he said, laughing; 'Venus first and Bacchus
afterwards. Your lordship has to wait on the lady. When you come down,
with Mr. Pomeroy's leave, we'll crack another bottle.'
My lord withdrew his hand more readily than the other had hoped. 'Right,
Tommy,' he said. 'I'll wait till I come down. What's that song, "Rich
the treasure, sweet the pleasure, sweet is pleasure after pain"? Oh, no,
damme! I don't mean that,' he continued. 'No. How does it go?'
Mr. Pomeroy thrust the bottle into his hands, looking daggers the while
at the tutor. 'Take another glass,' he cried boisterously. ''Swounds,
the girl will like you the better for it.'
'D'ye think so, Pom? Honest?'
'Sure of it. 'Twill give you spirit, my lord.'
'So it will.'
'At her and kiss her! Are you going to be governed all your life by that
whey-faced old Methodist? Or be your own man? Tell me that.'
'My lord, there's fifty thousand pounds upon it,' Thomasson said, his
face red. And he pushed back the bottle. The setting sun, peeping a
moment through the rain clouds and the low-browed lattice windows, flung
an angry yellow light on the board and the three flushed faces round it.
'Fifty thousand pounds,' repeated Mr. Thomasson firmly.
'Damme! so there is!' my lord answered, settling his chin in his cravat
and dusting the crumbs from his breeches. 'I'll take no more. So there!'
'I thought your lordship was a good-humoured man and no flincher,' Mr.
Pomeroy retorted with a sneer.
'Oh, I vow and protest--if you put it that way,' the weakling answered,
once more extending his hand, the fingers of which closed lovingly round
the bottle, 'I cannot refuse. Positively I cannot.'
'Fifty thousand pounds!' the tutor said, shrugging his shoulders.
Lord Almeric drew back his hand.
'Why, she'll like you the better!' Pomeroy cried fiercely, as he thrust
the bottle to him again. 'D'you think a woman doesn't love an easy
husband? And wouldn't rather have a good fellow than a thread-paper?'
'Mr. Pomeroy! Mr. Pomeroy!' the tutor said. Such words used of a lord
'A milksop! A thing of curds and whey!'
'After marriage, yes,' the tutor muttered, pitching his voice cleverly
in Lord Almeric's ear, and winking as he leant towards him. 'But your
lordship has a great stake in't; and to abstain one night--why, sure, my
lord, it's a small thing to do for a fine woman and a fortune.'
'Hang me! so it is!' Lord Almeric answered. 'You are a good friend to
me, Tommy.' And he flung his glass crashing into the fireplace. 'No,
Pom; you'd bubble me. You want the pretty charmer yourself. But I'll be
hanged if you shall have her. I'll walk, my boy, I'll walk, and at six
I'll go to her, and take you too. And mind you, no tricks, Pom. Lord! I
know women as well as I know my own head in the glass. You don't
Pomeroy, with a face like thunder, did not answer; and Lord Almeric,
walking a little unsteadily, went to the door, and a moment later became
visible through one of the windows. He stood awhile, his back towards
them, now sniffing the evening air, and now, with due regard to his
mixed silk coat, taking a pinch of snuff.
Mr. Thomasson, his heart beating, wished he had had the courage to go
with him. But this would have been to break with his host beyond
mending; and it was now too late. He was still seeking a propitiatory
phrase with which to break the oppressive silence, when Pomeroy
'You think yourself vastly clever, Mr. Tutor,' he growled, his voice
hoarse with anger. 'You think a bird in the hand is worth two in the
bush, I see.'
'Ten in the bush,' Mr. Thomasson answered, affecting an easiness he did
not feel. 'Ten fives are fifty.'
'Two in the bush I said, and two in the bush I mean,' the other
retorted, his voice still low. 'Take it or leave it,' he continued, with
a muttered oath and a swift side glance at the windows, through which
Lord Almeric was still visible, walking slowly to and fro, and often
standing. 'If you want it firm, I'll put it in black and white. Ten
thousand, or security, the day after we come from church.'
The tutor was silent a moment. Then, 'It is too far in the bush,' he
answered in a low voice. 'I am willing enough to serve you, Mr. Pomeroy.
I assure you, my dear sir, I desire nothing better. But if--if his
lordship were dismissed, you'd be as far off as ever. And I should lose
my bird in hand.'
'She took him. Why should she not take me?'
'He has--no offence--a title, Mr. Pomeroy.'
'And is a fool.'
Mr. Thomasson raised his hands in deprecation. Such a saying, spoken of
a lord, really offended him. But his words went to another point.
'Besides, it's a marriage-brocage contract, and void,' he muttered.
'Void in law.'
'You don't trust me?'
''Twould be of no use, Mr. Pomeroy,' the tutor answered, gently shaking
his head, and avoiding the issue presented to him. 'You could not
persuade her. She was in such a humour to-day, my lord had special
advantages. Break it off between them, and she'll come to herself. And
she is wilful--Lord! you don't know her! Petruchio could not tame her.'
'I know nothing about Petruchio,' Mr. Pomeroy answered grimly. 'Nor who
the gentleman was. But I've ways of my own. You can leave that to me.'
But Mr. Thomasson, who had only parleyed out of compliance, took fright
at that, and rose from the table, shaking his head.
'You won't do it?' Mr. Pomeroy said.
The tutor shook his head again, with a sickly smile. ''Tis too far in
the bush,' he said.
'Ten thousand,' Mr. Pomeroy persisted, his eyes on the other's face.
'Man,' he continued forcibly, 'Do you think you will ever have such a
chance again? Ten thousand! Why, 'tis eight hundred a year. 'Tis a
For a moment Mr. Thomasson did waver. Then he put the temptation from
him, and shook his head. 'You must pardon me, Mr. Pomeroy,' he said. 'I
cannot do it.'
'Will not!' Pomeroy cried harshly. 'Will not!' And would have said more,
but at that moment Jarvey entered behind him.
'Please, your honour,' the man said, 'the lady would see my lord.'
'Oh!' Pomeroy answered coarsely, 'she is impatient, is she? Devil take
her for me! And him too!' And he sat sulkily in his place.
But the interruption suited Mr. Thomasson perfectly. He went to the
outer door, and, opening it, called Lord Almeric, who, hearing what was
afoot, hurried in.
'Sent for me!' he cried, pressing his hat to his breast. 'Dear
creature!' and he kissed his fingers to the gallery. 'Positively she is
the daintiest, sweetest morsel ever wore a petticoat! I vow and protest
I am in love with her! It were brutal not to be, and she so fond! I'll
to her at once! Tell her I fly! I stay for a dash of bergamot, and I am
'I thought that you were going to take us with you,' said Mr. Pomeroy,
watching him sourly.
'I will! 'Pon honour, I will!' replied the delighted beau. 'But she
will soon find a way to dismiss you, the cunning baggage! and then,
"Sweet is pleasure after pain." Ha! Ha! I have it aright this time.
Sweet is Plea--oh! the doting rascal! But let us to her! I vow, if she
is not civil to you, I'll--I'll be cold to her!'
MR. FISHWICK'S DISCOVERY
We left Sir George Soane and his companions stranded in the little
alehouse at Bathford, waiting through the small hours of the night for a
conveyance to carry them forward to Bristol. Soap and water, a good
meal, and a brief dog's sleep, in which Soane had no share--he spent the
night walking up and down--and from which Mr. Fishwick was continually
starting with cries and moanings, did something to put them in better
plight, if in no better temper. When the dawn came, and with it the
chaise-and-four for which they had sent to Bath, they issued forth
haggard and unshaven, but resolute; and long before the shops in Bristol
had begun to look for custom, the three, with Sir George's servant,
descended before the old Bush Inn, near the Docks.
The attorney held strongly the opinion that they should not waste a
second before seeking the persons whom Mr. Dunborough had employed; the
least delay, he urged, and the men might be gone into hiding. But on
this a wrangle took place, in the empty street before the half-roused
inn; with a milk-girl and a couple of drunken sailors for witnesses. Mr.
Dunborough, who was of the party will-he, nill-he, and asked nothing
better than to take out in churlishness the pressure put upon him, stood
firmly to it, he would take no more than one person to the men. He would
take Sir George, if he pleased, but he would take no one else.
'I'll have no lawyer to make evidence!' he cried boastfully. 'And I'll
take no one but on terms. I'll have no Jemmy Twitcher with me.
Mr. Fishwick in a great rage was for insisting; but Sir George stopped
him. 'On what terms?' he asked the other.
'If the girl be unharmed, we go unharmed. One and all!' Mr. Dunborough
answered. 'Damme!' he continued with a great show of bravado, 'do you
think I am going to peach on 'em? Not I. There's the offer, take it or
Sir George might have broken down his opposition by the same arguments
addressed to his safety which had brought him so far. But time was
everything, and Soane was on fire to know the best or worst. 'Agreed!'
he cried. 'Lead the way, sir! And do you, Mr. Fishwick, await me here.'
'We must have time,' Mr. Dunborough grumbled, hesitating, and looking
askance at the attorney--he hated him. 'I can't answer for an hour or
two. I know a place, and I know another place, and there is another
place. And they may be at one or another, or the other. D'you see?'
'I see that it is your business,' Sir George answered with a glance,
before which the other's eyes fell. 'Wait until noon, Mr. Fishwick. If
we have not returned at that hour, be good enough to swear an
information against this gentleman, and set the constables to work.'
Mr. Dunborough muttered that it lay on Sir George's head if ill came of
it; but that said, swung sulkily on his heel. Mr. Fishwick, when the two
were some way down the street, ran after Soane, and asked in a whisper
if his pistols were primed; when he returned satisfied on that point,
the servant, whom he had left at the door of the inn, had vanished. The
lawyer made a shrewd guess that he would have an eye to his master's
safety, and retired into the house with less misgiving.
He got his breakfast early, and afterwards dozed awhile, resting his
aching bones in a corner of the coffee-room. It was nine and after, and
the tide of life was roaring through the channels of the city when he
roused himself, and to divert his suspense and fend off his growing
stiffness went out to look about him. All was new to him, but he soon
wearied of the main streets, where huge drays laden with puncheons of
rum and bales of tobacco threatened to crush him, and tarry seamen,
their whiskers hanging in ringlets, jostled him at every crossing.
Turning aside into a quiet court he stood to stare at a humble wedding
which was leaving a church. He watched the party out of sight, and then,
the church-door standing open, he took the fancy to stroll into the
building. He looked about him at the maze of dusty green-cushioned pews
with little alleys winding hither and thither among them; at the great
three-decker with its huge sounding-board; at the royal escutcheon, and
the faded tables of the law, and was about to leave as aimlessly as he
had entered, when he espied the open vestry door. Popping in his head,
his eye fell on a folio bound in sheepskin, that lay open on a chest, a
pen and ink beside it.
The attorney was in that state of fatigue of body and languor of mind in
which the least trifle amuses. He tip-toed in, his hat in his hand, and
licking his lips as he thought of the law-cases that lay enshrined
between those covers, he perused a couple of entries with a kind of
professional enthusiasm. He was beginning a third, which, being by a
different hand, was a little hard to decipher, when a black gown that
hung on a hook over against him swung noiselessly outward from the wall,
and a little old man emerged from the doorway which it masked.
The lawyer, who was stooping over the register, raised himself
guiltily. 'Hallo!' he said, to cover his confusion.
'Hallo!' the old man answered with a wintry smile. 'A shilling, if you
please.' And he held out his hand.
'Oh!' said Mr. Fishwick, much chap-fallen, 'I was only just--looking out
'It is a shilling to look,' the newcomer retorted with a chuckle. 'Only
one year, I think? Just so, anno domini seventeen hundred and
sixty-seven. A shilling, if you please.'
Mr. Fishwick hesitated, but in the end professional pride swayed him, he
drew out the coin, and grudgingly handed it over. 'Well,' he said, 'it
is a shilling for nothing. But, I suppose, as you have caught me, I
'I've caught a many that way,' the old fellow answered as he pouched the
shilling. 'But there, I do a lot of work upon them. There is not a
better register kept anywhere than that, nor a parish clerk that knows
more about his register than I do, though I say it that should not. It
is clear and clean from old Henry Eighth, with never a break except at
the time of the siege, and, by the way, there is an entry about that
that you could see for another shilling. No? Well, if you would like to
see a year for nothing--No? Now, I know a lad, an attorney's clerk here,
name of Chatterton, would give his ears for the offer. Perhaps your name
is Smith?' the old fellow continued, looking curiously at Mr. Fishwick.
'If it is, you may like to know that the name of Smith is in the
register of burials just three hundred-and eighty-three times--was last
Friday! Oh, it is not Smith? Well, if it is Brown, it is there two
hundred and seventy times--and one over!'
'That is an odd thought of yours,' said the lawyer, staring at the
'So many have said,' the old man chuckled. 'But it is not Brown? Jones,
perhaps? That comes two hundred and--Oh, it is not Jones?'
'It is a name you won't be likely to have once, let alone four hundred
times!' the lawyer answered, with a little pride--heaven knows why.
'What may it be, then?' the clerk asked, fairly put on his mettle. And
he drew out a pair of glasses, and settling them on his forehead looked
fixedly at his companion.
'Fishwick! Fishwick? Well, it is not a common name, and I cannot speak
to it at this moment. But if it is here, I'll wager I'll find it for
you. D'you see, I have them here in alphabet order,' he continued,
bustling with an important air to a cupboard in the wall, whence he
produced a thick folio bound in roughened calf. 'Ay, here's Fishwick, in
the burial book, do you see, volume two, page seventeen, anno domini
1750, seventeen years gone, that is. Will you see it? 'Twill be only a
shilling. There's many pays out of curiosity to see their names.'
Mr. Fishwick shook his head.
'Dods! man, you shall!' the old clerk cried generously; and turned the
pages. 'You shall see it for what you have paid. Here you are.
"_Fourteenth of September, William Fishwick, aged eighty-one, barber,
West Quay, died the eleventh of the month_." No, man, you are looking
too low. Higher on the page! Here 'tis, do you see? Eh--what is it?
What's the matter with you?'
'Nothing,' Mr. Fishwick muttered. But he continued to stare at the page
with a face struck suddenly sallow, while the hand that rested on the
corner of the book shook as with the ague.
'Nothing?' the old man said, staring suspiciously at him. 'I do believe
it is something. I do believe it is money. Well, it is five shillings to
extract. So there!'
That seemed to change Mr. Fishwick's view. 'It might be money,' he
confessed, still speaking thickly, and as if his tongue were too large
for his mouth. 'It might be,' he repeated. 'But--I am not very well this
morning. Do you think you could get me a glass of water?'
'None of that!' the old man retorted sharply, with a sudden look of
alarm. 'I would not leave you alone with that book at this moment for
all the shillings I have taken! So if you want water you've got to
'I am better now,' Mr. Fishwick answered. But the sweat that stood on
his brow went far to belie his words. 'I--yes, I think I'll take an
extract. Sixty-one, was he?'
'Eighty-one, eighty-one, it says. There's pen and ink, but you'll please
to give me five shillings before you write. Thank you kindly. Lord save
us, but that is not the one. You're taking out the one above it.'
'I'll have 'em all--for identification,' Mr. Fishwick replied, wiping
his forehead nervously.
'Sho! You have no need.'
'I think I will.'
'Well, the one before and the one after.'
'Dods! man, but that will be fifteen shillings!' the clerk cried, aghast
at such extravagance.
'You'll only charge for the entry I want?' the lawyer said with an
'Well--we'll say five shillings for the other two.'
Mr. Fishwick closed with the offer, and with a hand which was still
unsteady paid the money and extracted the entries. Then he took his hat,
and hurriedly, his eyes averted, turned to go.
'If it's money,' the old clerk said, staring at him as if he could
never satisfy his inquisitiveness, 'you'll not forget me?'
'If it's money,' Mr. Fishwick said with a ghastly smile, 'it shall be
some in your pocket.'
'Thank you kindly. Thank you kindly, sir! Now who would ha' thought when
you stepped in here you were stepping into fortune, so to speak?'
'Just so,' Mr. Fishwick answered, a spasm distorting his face. 'Who'd
have thought it? Good morning!'
'And good-luck!' the clerk bawled after him. 'Good-luck!'
Mr. Fishwick fluttered a hand backward, but made no answer. His first
object was to escape from the court; this done, he plunged through a
stream of traffic, and having covered his trail, went on rapidly,
seeking a quiet corner. He found one in a square among some warehouses,
and standing, pulled out the copy he had made from the register. It was
neither on the first nor the second entry, however, that his eyes
dwelled, while the hand that held the paper shook as with the ague. It
was the third fascinated him:--
'_September 19th,_' it ran, '_at the Bee in Steep Street, Julia,
daughter of Anthony and Julia Soane of Estcombe, aged three, and buried
the 21st of the month_.'
Mr. Fishwick read it thrice, his lips quivering; then he slowly drew
from a separate pocket a little sheaf of papers, frayed at the corners,
and soiled with much and loving handling. He selected from these a slip;
it was one of those which Mr. Thomasson had surprised on the table in
the room at the Castle Inn. It was a copy of the attestation of birth
'of Julia, daughter of Anthony Soane, of Estcombe, England, and Julie
his wife'; the date, August, 1747; the place, Dunquerque.
The Attorney drew a long quivering breath, and put the papers up again,
the packet in the place from which he had taken it, the extract from the
Bristol register in another pocket. Then, after drawing one or two more
sighs as if his heart were going out of him, he looked dismally upwards
as in protest against heaven. At length he turned and went back to the
thoroughfare, and there, with a strangely humble air, asked a passer-by
the nearest way to Steep Street.
The man directed him; the place was near at hand. In two minutes Mr.
Fishwick found himself at the door of a small but decent grocer's shop,
over the portal of which a gilded bee seemed to prognosticate more
business than the fact performed. An elderly woman, stout and
comfortable-looking, was behind the counter. Eyeing the attorney as he
came forward, she asked him what she could do for him, and before he
could answer reached for the snuff canister.
He took the hint, requested an ounce of the best Scotch and Havannah
mixed, and while she weighed it, asked her how long she had lived there.
'Twenty-six years, sir,' she answered heartily, 'Old Style. For the New,
I don't hold with it nor them that meddle with things above them. I am
sure it brought me no profit,' she continued, rubbing her nose. 'I have
buried a good husband and two children since they gave it us!'
'Still, I suppose people died Old Style?' the lawyer ventured.
'Well, well, may be.'
'There was a death in this house seventeen years gone this September,'
he said, 'if I remember rightly.'
The woman pushed away the snuff and stared at him. 'Two, for the matter
of that,' she said sharply. 'But should I remember you?'
'Then, if I may make so bold, what is't to you?' she retorted. 'Do you
come from Jim Masterson?'
'He is dead,' Mr. Fishwick answered.
She threw up her hands. 'Lord! And he a young man, so to speak! Poor
Jim! Poor Jim! It is ten years and more--ay, more--since I heard from
him. And the child? Is that dead too?'
'No, the child is alive,' the lawyer answered, speaking at a venture, 'I
am here on her behalf, to make some inquiries about her kinsfolk.'
The woman's honest red face softened and grew motherly. 'You may
inquire,' she said, 'you'll learn no more than I can tell you. There is
no one left that's kin to her. The father was a poor Frenchman, a
monsieur that taught the quality about here; the mother was one of his
people--she came from Canterbury, where I am told there are French and
to spare. But according to her account she had no kin left. He died the
year after the child was born, and she came to lodge with me, and lived
by teaching, as he had; but 'twas a poor livelihood, you may say, and
when she sickened, she died--just as a candle goes out.'
'When?' Mr. Fishwick asked, his eyes glued to the woman's face.
'The week Jim Masterson came to see us bringing the child from foreign
parts--that was buried with her. 'Twas said his child took the fever
from her and got its death that way. But I don't know. I don't know. It
is true they had not brought in the New Style then; but--'
'You knew him before? Masterson, I mean?'
'Why, he had courted me!' was the good-tempered answer. 'You don't know
much if you don't know that. Then my good man came along and I liked him
better, and Jim went into service and married Oxfordshire way. But when
he came to Bristol after his journey in foreign parts, 'twas natural he
should come to see me; and my husband, who was always easy, would keep
him a day or two--more's the pity, for in twenty-four hours the child he
had with him began to sicken, and died. And never was man in such a
taking, though he swore the child was not his, but one he had adopted to
serve a gentleman in trouble; and because his wife had none. Any way, it
was buried along with my lodger, and nothing would serve but he must
adopt the child she had left. It seemed ordained-like, they being of an
age, and all. And I had two children to care for, and was looking for
another that never came; and the mother had left no more than buried her
with a little help. So he took it with him, and we heard from him once
or twice, how it fared, and that his wife took to it, and the like; and
then--well, writing's a burden. But,' with renewed interest, 'she's a
well-grown girl by now, I guess?'
'Yes,' the attorney answered absently, 'she--she's a well-grown girl.'
'And is poor Jim's wife alive?'
'Ah,' the good woman answered, looking thoughtfully into the street.' If
she were not--I'd think about taking to the girl myself. It's lonely at
times without chick or child. And there's the shop to tend. She could
help with that.'
The attorney winced. He was looking ill; wretchedly ill. But he had his
back to the light, and she remarked nothing save that he seemed to be a
sombre sort of body and poor company. 'What was the Frenchman's name?'
he asked after a pause.
'Parry,' said she. And then, sharply, 'Don't they call her by it?'
'It has an English sound,' he said doubtfully, evading her question.
'That is the way he called it. But it was spelled Pare, just Pare.'
'Ah,' said Mr. Fishwick. 'That explains it.' He wondered miserably why
he had asked what did not in the least matter; since, if she were not a
Soane, it mattered not who she was. After an interval he recovered
himself with a sigh. 'Well, thank you,' he continued, 'I am much obliged
to you. And now--for the moment--good-morning, ma'am. I must wish you
good-morning,' he repeated, hurriedly; and took up his snuff.
'But that is not all?' the good woman exclaimed in astonishment. 'At any
rate you'll leave your name?'
Mr. Fishwick pursed up his lips and stared at her gloomily. 'Name?' he
said at last. 'Yes, ma'am, certainly. Brown. Mr. Peter Brown, the--the
'The Poultry!' she cried, gaping at him helplessly.
'Yes, the Poultry, London. Mr. Peter Brown, the Poultry, London. And now
I have other business and shall--shall return another day. I must wish
you good-morning, ma'am, Good-morning.' And thrusting his face into his
hat, Mr. Fishwick bundled precipitately into the street, and with
singular recklessness made haste to plunge into the thickest of the
traffic, leaving the good woman in a state of amazement.
Nevertheless, he reached the inn safely. When Mr. Dunborough returned
from a futile search, his failure in which condemned him to another
twenty-four hours in that company, the first thing he saw was the
attorney's gloomy face awaiting them in a dark corner of the
coffee-room. The sight reproached him subtly, he knew not why; he was in
the worst of tempers, and, for want of a better outlet, he vented his
spleen on the lawyer's head.
'D--n you!' he cried, brutally. 'Your hang-dog phiz is enough to spoil
any sport! Hang me if I believe that there is such another mumping,
whining, whimpering sneak in the 'varsal world! D'you think any one
will have luck with your tallow face within a mile of him?' Then
longing, but not daring, to turn his wrath on Sir George, 'What do you
bring him for?' he cried.
'For my convenience,' Sir George retorted, with a look of contempt that
for the time silenced the other. And that said, Soane proceeded to
explain to Mr. Fishwick, who had answered not a word, that the rogues
had got into hiding; but that by means of persons known to Mr.
Dunborough it was hoped that they would be heard from that evening or
the next. Then, struck by the attorney's sickly face, 'I am afraid you
are not well, Mr. Fishwick,' Sir George continued, more kindly. 'The
night has been too much for you. I would advise you to lie down for a
few hours and take some rest. If anything is heard I will send word
Mr. Fishwick thanked him, without meeting his eyes; and after a minute
or two retired. Sir George looked after him, and pondered a little on
the change in his manner. Through the stress of the night Mr. Fishwick
had shown himself alert and eager, ready and not lacking in spirit; now
he had depression written large on his face, and walked and bore himself
like a man sinking under a load of despondency.
All that day the messenger from the slums was expected but did not come;
and between the two men who sat downstairs, strange relations prevailed.
Sir George did not venture to let the other out of his sight; yet there
were times when they came to the verge of blows, and nothing but the
knowledge of Sir George's swordsmanship kept Mr. Dunborough's temper
within bounds. At dinner, at which Sir George insisted that the attorney
should sit down with them, Dunborough drank his two bottles of wine, and
in his cups fell into a strain peculiarly provoking.
'Lord! you make me sick,' he said. 'All this pother about a girl that a
month ago your high mightiness would not have looked at in the street.
You are vastly virtuous now, and sneer at me; but, damme! which of us
loves the girl best? Take away her money, and will you marry her? I'd 'a
done it, without a rag to her back. But take away her money, and will
you do the same, Mr. Virtuous?'
Sir George listening darkly, and putting a great restraint on himself,
did not answer. Mr. Fishwick waited a moment, then got up suddenly, and
hurried from the room--with a movement so abrupt that he left his
wine-glass in fragments on the floor.
A ROUGH AWAKENING
Lord Almeric continued to vapour and romance as he mounted the stairs.
Mr. Pomeroy attended, sneering, at his heels. The tutor followed, and
longed to separate them. He had his fears for the one and of the other,
and was relieved when his lordship at the last moment hung back, and
with a foolish chuckle proposed a plan that did more honour to his
vanity than his taste.
'Hist!' he whispered. 'Do you two stop outside a minute, and you'll hear
how kind she'll be to me! I'll leave the door ajar, and then in a minute
do you come in and roast her! Lord, 'twill be as good as a play!'
Mr. Pomeroy shrugged his shoulders. 'As you please,' he growled. 'But I
have known a man go to shear and be shorn!'
Lord Almeric smiled loftily, and waiting for no more, winked to them,
turned the handle of the door, and simpered in.
Had Mr. Thomasson entered with him, the tutor would have seen at a
glance that he had wasted his fears; and that whatever trouble
threatened brooded in a different quarter. The girl, her face a blaze of
excitement and shame and eagerness, stood in the recess of the farther
window seat, as far from the door as she could go; her attitude the
attitude of one driven into a corner. And from that alone her lover
should have taken warning. But Lord Almeric saw nothing, feared nothing.
Crying 'Most lovely Julia!' he tripped forward to embrace her, and, the
wine emboldening him, was about to clasp her in his arms, when she
checked him by a gesture unmistakable even by a man in his
'My lord,' she said hurriedly, yet in a tone of pleading--and her head
hung a little, and her cheeks began to flame. 'I ask your forgiveness
for having sent for you. Alas, I have also to ask your forgiveness for a
more serious fault. One--one which you may find it less easy to pardon,'
she added, her courage failing.
'Try me!' the little beau answered with ardour; and he struck an
attitude. 'What would I not forgive to the loveliest of her sex?' And
under cover of his words he made a second attempt to come within
reach of her.
She waved him back. 'No!' she said. 'You do not understand me.'
'Understand?' he cried effusively. 'I understand enough to--but why, my
Chloe, these alarms, this bashfulness? Sure,' he spouted,
'How can I see you, and not love,
While you as Opening East are fair?
While cold as Northern Blasts you prove,
How can I love and not despair?'
And then, in wonder at his own readiness, 'S'help me! that's uncommon
clever of me,' he said. 'But when a man is in love with the most
beautiful of her sex--'
'My lord!' she cried, stamping the floor in her impatience. 'I have
something serious to say to you. Must I ask you to return to me at
another time? Or will you be good enough to listen to me now?'
'Sho, if you wish it, child,' he said lightly, taking out his snuff-box.
'And to be sure there is time enough. But between us two, sweet--'
'There is nothing between us!' she cried, impetuously snatching at the
word. 'That is what I wanted to tell you. I made a mistake when I said
that there should be. I was mad; I was wicked, if you like. Do you hear
me, my lord?' she continued passionately. 'It was a mistake. I did not
know what I was doing. And, now I do understand, I take it back.'
Lord Almeric gasped. He heard the words, but the meaning seemed
incredible, inconceivable; the misfortune, if he heard aright, was too
terrible; the humiliation too overwhelming! He had brought
listeners--and for this! 'Understand?' he cried, looking at her in a
confused, chap-fallen way. 'Hang me if I do understand! You don't mean
to say--Oh, it is impossible, stuff me! it is. You don't mean that--that
you'll not have me? After all that has come and gone, ma'am?'
She shook her head; pitying him, blaming herself, for the plight in
which she had placed him. 'I sent for you, my lord,' she said humbly,
'that I might tell you at once. I could not rest until I had told you. I
did what I could. And, believe me, I am very, very sorry.'
'But do you mean--that you--you jilt me?' he cried, still fighting off
the dreadful truth.
'Not jilt!' she said, shivering.
'That you won't have me?'
'After--after saying you would?' he wailed.
'I cannot,' she answered. Then, 'Cannot you understand?' she cried, her
face scarlet. 'I did not know until--until you went to kiss me.'
'But--oh, I say--but you love me?' he protested.
'No, my lord,' she said firmly. 'No. And there, you must do me the
justice to acknowledge that I never said I did.'
He dashed his hat on the floor: he was almost weeping. 'Oh, damme!' he
cried, 'a woman should not--should not treat a man like this. It's low.
It's cruel! It's--'
A knock on the door stopped him. Recollection of the listeners, whom he
had momentarily forgotten, revived, and overwhelmed him. With an oath he
sprang to shut the door, but before he could intervene Mr. Pomeroy
appeared smiling on the threshold; and behind him the reluctant tutor.
Lord Almeric swore, and Julia, affronted by the presence of strangers at
such a time, drew back, frowning. But Bully Pomeroy would see nothing.
'A thousand pardons if I intrude,' he said, bowing this way and that,
that he might hide a lurking grin. 'But his lordship was good enough to
say a while ago, that he would present us to the lady who had consented
to make him happy. We little thought last night, ma'am, that so much
beauty and so much goodness were reserved for one of us.'
Lord Almeric looked ready to cry. Julia, darkly red, was certain that
they had overheard; she stood glaring at the intruders, her foot tapping
the floor. No one answered, and Mr. Pomeroy, after looking from one to
the other in assumed surprise, pretended to hit on the reason. 'Oh, I
see; I spoil sport!' he cried with coarse joviality. 'Curse me if I
meant to! I fear we have come _mal a propos,_ my lord, and the sooner we
are gone the better.
'And though she found his usage rough,
Yet in a man 'twas well enough!'
he hummed, with his head on one side and an impudent leer. 'We are
interrupting the turtledoves, Mr. Thomasson, and had better be gone.'
'Curse you! Why did you ever come?' my lord cried furiously. 'But she
won't have me. So there! Now you know.'
Mr. Pomeroy struck an attitude of astonishment.
'Won't have you?' he cried, 'Oh, stap me! you are biting us.'
'I'm not! And you know it!' the poor little blood answered, tears of
vexation in his eyes. 'You know it, and you are roasting me!'
'Know it?' Mr. Pomeroy answered in tones of righteous indignation. 'I
know it? So far from knowing it, my dear lord, I cannot believe it! I
understood that the lady had given you her word.'
'So she did.'
'Then I cannot believe that a lady would anywhere, much less under my
roof, take it back. Madam, there must be some mistake here,' Mr. Pomeroy
continued warmly. 'It is intolerable that a man of his lordship's rank
should be so treated. I'm forsworn if he has not mistaken you.'
'He does not mistake me now,' she answered, trembling and blushing
painfully. 'What error there was I have explained to him.'
'Sir!' she said with awakening spirit, her eyes sparkling. 'What has
happened is between his lordship and myself. Interference on the part of
any one else is an intrusion, and I shall treat it as such. His lordship
'Curse me! He does not look as if he understood,' Mr. Pomeroy cried,
allowing his native coarseness to peep through. 'Sink me, ma'am, there
is a limit to prudishness. Fine words butter no parsnips. You plighted
your troth to my guest, and I'll not see him thrown over i' this
fashion. These airs and graces are out of place. I suppose a man has
some rights under his own roof, and when his guest is jilted before his
eyes'--here Mr. Pomeroy frowned like Jove--'it is well you should know,
ma'am, that a woman no more than a man can play fast and loose at
She looked at him with disdain. 'Then the sooner I leave your roof the
better, sir,' she said.
'Not so fast there, either,' he answered with an unpleasant smile. 'You
came to it when you chose, and you will leave it when we choose; and
that is flat, my girl. This morning, when my lord did you the honour to
ask you, you gave him your word. Perhaps to-morrow morning you'll be of
the same mind again. Any way, you will wait until to-morrow and see.'
'I shall not wait on your pleasure,' she cried, stung to rage.
'You will wait on it, ma'am! Or 'twill be the worse for you.'
Burning with indignation she turned to the other two, her breath coming
quick. But Mr. Thomasson gazed gloomily at the floor, and would not meet
her eyes; and Lord Almeric, who had thrown himself into a chair, was
glowering sulkily at his shoes. 'Do you mean,' she cried, 'that you will
dare to detain me, sir?'
'If you put it so,' Pomeroy answered, grinning, 'I think I dare take it
His voice full of mockery, his insolent eyes, stung her to the quick. 'I
will see if that be so,' she cried, fearlessly advancing on him. 'Lay a
finger on me if you dare! I am going out. Make way, sir.'
'You are not going out!' he cried between his teeth. And held his ground
in front of her.
She advanced until she was within touch of him, then her courage failed
her; they stood a second or two gazing at one another, the girl with
heaving breast and cheeks burning with indignation, the man with cynical
watchfulness. Suddenly, shrinking from actual contact with him, she
sprang aside, and was at the door before he could intercept her. But
with a rapid movement he turned on his heel, seized her round the waist
before she could open the door, dragged her shrieking from it, and with
an oath--and not without an effort--flung her panting and breathless
into the window-seat. 'There!' he cried ferociously, his blood fired by
the struggle; 'lie there! And behave yourself, my lady, or I'll find
means to quiet you. For you,' he continued, turning fiercely on the
tutor, whose face the sudden scuffle and the girl's screams had blanched
to the hue of paper, 'did you never hear a woman squeak before? And you,
my lord? Are you so dainty? But, to be sure, 'tis your lordship's
mistress,' he continued ironically. 'Your pardon. I forgot that. I
should not have handled her so roughly. However, she is none the worse,
and 'twill bring her to reason.'
But the struggle and the girl's cries had shaken my lord's nerves. 'D--n
you!' he cried hysterically, and with a stamp of the foot, 'you should
not have done that.'
'Pooh, pooh,' Mr. Pomeroy answered lightly. 'Do you leave it to me, my
lord. She does not know her own mind. 'Twill help her to find it. And
now, if you'll take my advice, you'll leave her to a night's
But Lord Almeric only repeated, 'You should not have done that.'
Mr. Pomeroy's face showed his scorn for the man whom a cry or two and a
struggling woman had frightened. Yet he affected to see art in it. 'I
understand. And it is the right line to take,' he said; and he laughed
unpleasantly. 'No doubt it will be put to your lordship's credit. But
now, my lord,' he continued, 'let us go. You will see she will have come
to her senses by to-morrow.'
The girl had remained passive since her defeat. But at this she rose
from the window-seat where she had crouched, slaying them with furious
glances. 'My lord,' she cried passionately, 'if you are a man, if you
are a gentleman--you'll not suffer this.'
But Lord Almeric, who had recovered from his temporary panic, and was
as angry with her as with Pomeroy, shrugged his shoulders. 'Oh, I don't
know,' he said resentfully. 'It has naught to do with me, ma'am. I don't
want you kept, but you have behaved uncommon low to me; uncommon low.
And 'twill do you good to think on it. Stap me, it will!'
And he turned on his heel and sneaked out.
Mr. Pomeroy laughed insolently. 'There is still Tommy,' he said. 'Try
him. See what he'll say to you. It amuses me to hear you plead, my dear;
you put so much spirit into it. As my lord said, before we came in, 'tis
as good as a play.'
She flung him a look of scorn, but did not answer. For Mr. Thomasson, he
shuffled his feet uncomfortably. 'There are no horses,' he faltered,
cursing his indiscreet companion. 'Mr. Pomeroy means well, I know. And
as there are no horses, even if nothing prevented you, you could not go
to-night, you see.'
Mr. Pomeroy burst into a shout of laughter and clapped the stammering
tutor (fallen miserably between two stools) on the back. 'There's a
champion for you!' he cried. 'Beauty in distress! Lord! how it fires his
blood and turns his look to flame! What! going, Tommy?' he continued, as
Mr. Thomasson, unable to bear his raillery or the girl's fiery scorn,
turned and fled ignobly. 'Well, my pretty dear, I see we are to be left
alone. And, damme! quite right too, for we are the only man and the only
woman of the party, and should come to an understanding.'
Julia looked at him with shuddering abhorrence. They were alone; the
sound of the tutor's retreating footsteps was growing faint. She pointed
to the door. 'If you do not go,' she cried, her voice shaking with rage,
'I will rouse the house! I will call your people! Do you hear me? I
will so cry to your servants that you shall not for shame dare to keep
me! I will break this window and cry for help?'
'And what do you think I should be doing meanwhile?' he retorted with an
ugly leer. 'I thought I had shown you that two could play at that game.
But there, child, I like your spirit! I love you for it! You are a girl
after my own heart, and, damme! we'll live to laugh at those two old
She shrank farther from him with an expression of loathing. He saw the
look, and scowled, but for the moment he kept his temper. 'Fie! the
Little Masterson playing the grand lady!' he said. 'But there, you are
too handsome to be crossed, my dear. You shall have your own way
to-night, and I'll come and talk to you to-morrow, when your head is
cooler and those two fools are out of the way. And if we quarrel then,
my beauty, we can but kiss and make it up. Look on me as your friend,'
he added, with a leer from which she shrank, 'and I vow you'll not
She did not answer, she only pointed to the door, and finding that he
could draw nothing from her, he went at last. On the threshold he
turned, met her eyes with a grin of meaning, and took the key from the
inside of the lock. She heard him insert it on the outside, and turn it,
and had to grip one hand with the other to stay the scream that arose in
her throat. She was brave beyond most women; but the ease with which he
had mastered her, the humiliation of contact with him, the conviction of
her helplessness in his grasp lay on her still. They filled her with
fear; which grew more definite as the light, already low in the corners
of the room, began to fail, and the shadows thickened about the dingy
furniture, and she crouched alone against the barred window, listening
for the first tread of a coming foot--and dreading the night.
MR. POMEROY'S PLAN
Mr. Pomeroy chuckled as he went down the stairs. Things had gone so well
for him, he owed it to himself to see that they went better, he had
mounted with a firm determination to effect a breach even if it cost him
my lord's enmity. He descended, the breach made, the prize open to
competition, and my lord obliged by friendly offices and
Mr. Pomeroy smiled. 'She is a saucy baggage,' he muttered, 'but I've
tamed worse. 'Tis the first step is hard, and I have taken that. Now to
deal with Mother Olney. If she were not such a fool, or if I could be
rid of her and Jarvey, and put in the Tamplins, all's done. But she'd
talk! The kitchen wench need know nothing; for visitors, there are none
in this damp old hole. Win over Mother Olney and the Parson--and I don't
see where I can fail. The wench is here, safe and tight, and bread and
water, damp and loneliness will do a great deal. She don't deserve
better treatment, hang her impudence!'
But when he appeared in the hall an hour later, his gloomy face told a
different story. 'Where's Doyley?' he growled; and stumbled over a dog,
kicked it howling into a corner. 'Has he gone to bed?'
The tutor, brooding sulkily over his wine, looked up. 'Yes,' he said, as
rudely as he dared--he was sick with disappointment. 'He is going in
'And a good riddance!' Pomeroy cried with an oath. 'He's off it, is he?
He gives up?'
The tutor nodded gloomily. 'His lordship is not the man,' he said, with
an attempt at his former manner, 'to--to--'
'To win the odd trick unless he holds six trumps,' Mr. Pomeroy cried.
'No, by God! he is not. You are right, Parson. But so much the better
for you and me!'
Mr. Thomasson sniffed. 'I don't follow you,' he said stiffly.
'Don't you? You weren't so dull years ago,' Mr. Pomeroy answered,
filling a glass as he stood. He held it in his hand and looked over it
at the other, who, ill at ease, fidgeted in his chair, 'You could put
two and two together then, Parson, and you can put five and five
together now. They make ten--thousand.'
'I don't follow you,' the tutor repeated, steadfastly looking away from
'Why? Nothing is changed since we talked--except that he is out of it!
And that that is done for me for nothing, which I offered you five
thousand to do. But I am generous, Tommy. I am generous.'
'The next chance is mine,' Mr. Thomasson cried, with a glance of spite.
Mr. Pomeroy, looking down at him, laughed--a galling laugh. 'Lord!
Tommy, that was a hundred years ago,' he said contemptuously.
'You said nothing was changed!'
'Nothing is changed in my case,' Mr. Pomeroy answered confidently,
'except for the better. In your case everything is changed--for the
worse. Did you take her part upstairs? Are your hands clean now? Does
she see through you or does she not? Or, put it in another way, my
friend. It is your turn; what are you going to do?'
'Go,' the tutor answered viciously. 'And glad to be quit.'
Mr. Pomeroy sat down opposite him. 'No, you'll not go,' he said in a low
voice; and drinking off half his wine, set down the glass and regarded
the other over it. 'Five and five are ten, Tommy. You are no fool, and I
am no fool.'
'I am not such a fool as to put my neck in a noose,' the tutor retorted.
'And there is no other way of coming at what you want, Mr. Pomeroy.'
'There are twenty,' Pomeroy returned coolly. 'And, mark you, if I fail,
you are spun, whether you help rue or no. You are blown on, or I can
blow on you! You'll get nothing for your cut on the head.'
'And what shall I get if I stay?'
'I have told you.'
'No, Tommy. Eight hundred a year.'
Mr. Thomasson sneered incredulously, and having made it plain that he
refused to think--thought! He had risked so much in this enterprise,
gone through so much; and to lose it all! He cursed the girl's
fickleness, her coyness, her obstinacy! He hated her. And do what he
might for her now, he doubted if he could cozen her or get much from
her. Yet in that lay his only chance, apart from Mr. Pomeroy. His eye
was cunning and his tone sly when he spoke.
'You forget one thing,' he said. 'I have only to open my lips after I
'And I am nicked?' Mr. Pomeroy answered. 'True. And you will get a
hundred guineas, and have a worse than Dunborough at your heels.'
The tutor wiped his brow. 'What do you want?' he whispered.
'That old hag of a housekeeper has turned rusty,' Pomeroy answered.
'She has got it into her head something is going to be done to the girl.
I sounded her and I cannot trust her. I could send her packing, but
Jarvey is not much better, and talks when he is drunk. The girl must be
got from here.'
Mr. Thomasson raised his eyebrows scornfully.
'You need not sneer, you fool!' Pomeroy cried with a little spirt of
rage.' 'Tis no harder than to get her here.'
'Where will you take her?'
'To Tamplin's farm by the river. There, you are no wiser, but you may
trust me. I can hang the man, and the woman is no better. They have done
this sort of thing before. Once get her there, and, sink me! she'll be
glad to see the parson!'
The tutor shuddered. The water was growing very deep. 'I'll have no part
in it!' he said hoarsely. 'No part in it, so help me God!'
'There's no part for you!' Mr. Pomeroy answered with grim patience.
'Your part is to thwart me.'
Mr. Thomasson, half risen from his chair, sat down again. 'What do you
mean?' he muttered.
'You are her friend. Your part is to help her to escape. You're to sneak
to her room to-morrow, and tell her that you'll steal the key when I'm
drunk after dinner. You'll bid her be ready at eleven, and you'll let
her out, and have a chaise waiting at the end of the avenue. The chaise
will be there, you'll put her in, you'll go back to the house. I suppose
you see it now?'
The tutor stared in wonder. 'She'll get away,' he said.
'Half a mile,' Mr. Pomeroy answered drily, as he filled his glass.' Then
I shall stop the chaise--with a pistol if you like, jump in--a merry
surprise for the nymph; and before twelve we shall be at Tamplin's. And
you'll be free of it.'
Mr. Thomasson pondered, his face flushed, his eyes moist. 'I think you
are the devil!' he said at last.
'Is it a bargain? And see here. His lordship has gone silly on the girl.
You can tell him before he leaves what you are going to do. He'll leave
easy, and you'll have an evidence--of your good intentions!' Mr. Pomeroy
added with a chuckle. 'Is it a bargain?'
'I'll not do it!' Mr. Thomasson cried faintly. 'I'll not do it!'
But he sat down again, their heads came together across the table; they
talked long in low voices. Presently Mr. Pomeroy fetched pen and paper
from a table in one of the windows; where they lay along with one or two
odd volumes of Crebillon, a tattered Hoyle on whist, and Foote's jest
book. A note was written and handed over, and the two rose.
Mr. Thomasson would have liked to say a word before they parted as to no
violence being contemplated or used; something smug and fair-seeming
that would go to show that his right hand did not understand what his
left was doing. But even his impudence was unequal to the task, and with
a shamefaced good-night he secured the memorandum in his pocket-book and
sneaked up to bed.
He had every opportunity of carrying out Pomeroy's suggestion to make
Lord Almeric his confidant. For when he entered the chamber which they
shared, he found his lordship awake, tossing and turning in the shade of
the green moreen curtains; in a pitiable state between chagrin and rage.
But the tutor's nerve failed him. He had few scruples--it was not that;
but he was weary and sick at heart, and for that night he felt that he
had done enough. So to all my lord's inquiries he answered as sleepily
as consisted with respect, until the effect which he did not wish to
produce was produced. The young roue's suspicions were aroused, and on
a sudden he sat up in bed, his nightcap quivering on his head.
'Tommy!' he cried feverishly. 'What is afoot downstairs? Now, do you
tell me the truth.'
'Nothing,' Mr. Thomasson answered soothingly.
'Because--well, she's played it uncommon low on me, uncommon low she's
played it,' my lord complained pathetically; 'but fair is fair, and
willing's willing! And I'll not see her hurt. Pom's none too nice, I
know, but he's got to understand that. I'm none of your Methodists,
Tommy, as you are aware, no one more so! But, s'help me! no one shall
lay a hand on her against her will!'
'My dear lord, no one is going to!' the tutor answered, quaking in his
'That is understood, is it? Because it had better be!' the little lord
continued with unusual vigour. 'I vow I have no cause to stand up for
her. She's a d--d saucy baggage, and has treated me with--with d--d
disrespect. But, oh Lord! Tommy, I'd have been a good husband to her. I
would indeed. And been kind to her. And now--she's made a fool of me!
She's made a fool of me!'
And my lord took off his nightcap, and wiped his eyes with it.
A GREEK GIFT
Julia, left alone, and locked in the room, passed such a night as a girl
instructed in the world's ways might have been expected to pass in her
position, and after the rough treatment of the afternoon. The room grew
dark, the dismal garden and weedy pool that closed the prospect faded
from sight; and still as she crouched by the barred window, or listened
breathless at the door, all that part of the house lay silent. Not a
sound of life came to the ear.
By turns she resented and welcomed this. At one time, pacing the floor
in a fit of rage and indignation, she was ready to dash herself against
the door, or scream and scream and scream until some one came to her. At
another the recollection of Pomeroy's sneering smile, of his insolent
grasp, revived to chill and terrify her; and she hid in the darkest
corner, hugged the solitude, and, scarcely daring to breathe, prayed
that the silence might endure for ever.
But the hours in the dark room were long and cold; and at times the
fever of rage and fear left her in the chill. Of this came another phase
through which she passed, as the night wore on and nothing happened. Her
thoughts reverted to him who should have been her protector, but had
become her betrayer--and by his treachery had plunged her into this
misery; and on a sudden a doubt of his guilt flashed into her mind and
blinded her by its brilliance. Had she done him an injustice? Had the
abduction been, after all, concerted not by him but by Mr. Thomasson and
his confederates? The setting down near Pomeroy's gate, the reception at
his house, the rough, hasty suit paid to her--were these all parts of a
drama cunningly arranged to mystify her? And was he innocent? Was _he_
still her lover, true, faithful, almost her husband?
If she could think so! She rose, and softly walked the floor in the
darkness, tears raining down her face. Oh, if she could be sure of it!
At the thought, the thought only, she glowed from head to foot with
happy shame. And fear? If this were so, if his love were still hers, and
hers the only fault--of doubting him, she feared nothing! Nothing! She
felt her way to a tray in the corner where her last meal remained
untasted, and ate and drank humbly, and for him. She might need
She had finished, and was groping her return to the window-seat, when a
faint rustle as of some one moving on the other side of the door caught
her ear. She had fancied herself brave enough an instant before, but in
the darkness a great horror of fear came on her. She stood rooted to the
spot; and heard the noise again. It was followed by the sound of a hand
passed stealthily over the panels; a hand seeking, as she thought, for
the key; and she could have shrieked in her helplessness. But while she
stood, her face turned to stone, came instant relief, A voice, subdued
in fear, whispered, 'Hist, ma'am, hist! Are you asleep?'
She could have fallen on her knees in her thankfulness. 'No! no!' she
cried eagerly. 'Who is it?'
'It is me--Olney!' was the answer. 'Keep a heart, ma'am! They are gone
to bed. You are quite safe.'
'Can you let me out?' Julia cried. 'Oh, let me out!'
'Let you out?'
'Yes, yes! Let me out? Please let me out.'
'God forbid, ma'am!' was the horrified answer. 'He'd kill me. And he has
the key. But--'
'Keep your heart up, ma'am, for Jarvey'll not see you hurt; nor will I.
You may sleep easy. And good-night!'
She stole away before Julia could answer; but she left comfort. In a
glow of thankfulness the girl pushed a chair against the door, and,
wrapping herself for warmth in the folds of the shabby curtains, lay
down on the window seat. She was willing to sleep now, but the agitation
of her thoughts, the whirl of fear and hope that prevailed in them, as
she went again and again over the old ground, kept her long awake. The
moon had risen and run its course, decking the old garden with a solemn
beauty as of death, and was beginning to retreat before the dawn, when
Julia slept at last.
When she awoke it was broad daylight. A moment she gazed upwards,
wondering where she was; the next a harsh grating sound, and the echo of
a mocking laugh brought her to her feet in a panic of remembrance.
The key was still turning in the lock--she saw it move, saw it
withdrawn; but the room was empty. And while she stood staring and
listening heavy footsteps retired along the passage. The chair which she
had set against the door had been pushed back, and milk and bread stood
on the floor beside it.
She drew a deep breath; he had been there. But her worst terrors had
passed with the night. The sun was shining, filling her with scorn of
her gaoler. She panted to be face to face with him, that she might cover
him with ridicule, overwhelm him with the shafts of her woman's wit, and
show him how little she feared and how greatly she despised him.
But he did not appear; the hours passed slowly, and with the afternoon
came a clouded sky, and weariness and reaction of spirits; fatigue of
body, and something like illness; and on that a great terror. If they
drugged her in her food? The thought was like a knife in the girl's
heart, and while she still writhed on it, her ear caught the creak of a
board in the passage, and a furtive tread that came, and softly went
again, and once more returned. She stood, her heart beating; and fancied
she heard the sound of breathing on the other side of the door. Then her
eye alighted on a something white at the foot of the door, that had not
been there a minute earlier. It was a tiny note. While she gazed at it
the footsteps stole away again.
She pounced on the note and opened it, thinking it might be from Mrs.
Olney. But the opening lines smacked of other modes of speech than hers;
and though Julia had no experience of Mr. Thomasson's epistolary style,
she felt no surprise when she found the initials F.T. appended to
'Madam,' it ran. 'You are in danger here, and I in no less of being held
to account for acts which my heart abhors. Openly to oppose myself to
Mr. P.--the course my soul dictates--were dangerous for us both, and
another must be found. If he drink deep to-night, I will, heaven
assisting, purloin the key, and release you at ten, or as soon after as
may be. Jarvey, who is honest, and fears the turn things are taking,
will have a carriage waiting in the road. Be ready, hide this, and when
you are free, though I seek no return for services attended by much
risk, yet if you desire to find one, an easy way may appear of
'Madam, your devoted, obedient servant, F.T.'
Julia's face glowed. 'He cannot do even a kind act as it should be
done,' she thought. 'But once away it will be easy to reward him. At
worst he shall tell me how I came to be set down here.'
She spent the rest of the day divided between anxiety on that point--for
Mr. Thomasson's intervention went some way to weaken the theory she had
built up with so much joy--and impatience for night to come and put an
end to her suspense. She was now as much concerned to escape the ordeal
of Mr. Pomeroy's visit as she had been earlier in the day to see him.
And she had her wish. He did not come; she fancied he might be willing
to let the dullness and loneliness, the monotony and silence of her
prison, work their effect on her mind.
Night, as welcome to-day as it had been yesterday unwelcome, fell at
last, and hid the dingy familiar room, the worn furniture, the dusky
outlook. She counted the minutes, and before it was nine by the clock
was the prey of impatience, thinking the time past and gone and the
tutor a poor deceiver. Ten was midnight to her; she hoped against hope,
walking her narrow bounds in the darkness. Eleven found her lying on her
face on the floor, heaving dry sobs of despair, her hair dishevelled.
And then, on a sudden she sprang up; the key was grating in the lock!
While she stared, half demented, scarcely believing her happiness, Mr.
Thomasson appeared on the threshold, his head--he wore no wig--muffled
in a woman's shawl, a shaded lanthorn in his hand.
'Come!' he said. 'There is not a moment to be lost.'
'Oh!' she cried hysterically, yet kept her shaking voice low; 'I thought
you were not coming. I thought it was all over.'
'I am late,' he answered nervously; his face was pale, his shifty eyes
avoided hers.' It is eleven o'clock, but I could not get the key before.
Follow me closely and silently, child; and in a few minutes you will
'Heaven bless you!' she cried, weeping. And would have taken his hand.
But at that he turned from her so abruptly that she marvelled, for she
had not judged him a man averse from thanks. But setting his manner down
to the danger and the need of haste, she took the hint and controlling
her feelings, prepared to follow him in silence. Holding the lanthorn so
that its light fell on the floor he listened an instant, then led the
way on tip-toe down the dim corridor. The house was hushed round them;
if a board creaked under their feet, it seemed to her scared ears a
pistol shot. At the entrance to the gallery which was partly illumined
by lights still burning in the hall below, the tutor paused anew an
instant to listen, then turned quickly from it, and by a narrow passage
on the right gained a back staircase. Descending the steep stairs he
guided her by devious turnings through dingy offices and servants'
quarters until they stood in safety before an outer door. To withdraw
the bar that secured it, while she held the lanthorn, was for the tutor
the work of an instant. They passed through, and he closed the door
softly behind them.
After the confinement of her prison, the night air that blew on her
temples was rapture to Julia; for it breathed of freedom. She turned her
face up to the dark boughs that met and interlaced above her head, and
whispered her thankfulness. Then, obedient to Mr. Thomasson's impatient
gesture, she hastened to follow him along a dank narrow path that
skirted the wall of the house for a few yards, then turned off among
They had left the wall no more than a dozen paces behind them, when Mr.
Thomasson paused, as in doubt, and raised his light. They were in a
little beech-coppice that grew close up to the walls of the servants'
offices. The light showed the dark shining trunks, running in solemn
rows this way and that; and more than one path trodden smooth across the
roots. The lanthorn disclosed no more, but apparently this was enough
for Mr. Thomasson. He pursued the path he had chosen, and less than a
minute's walking brought them to the avenue.
Julia drew a breath of relief and looked behind and before. 'Where is
the carriage?' she whispered, shivering with excitement.
The tutor before he answered raised his lanthorn thrice to the level of
his head, as if to make sure of his position. Then, 'In the road,' he
answered. 'And the sooner you are in it the better, child, for I must
return and replace the key before he sobers. Or 'twill, be worse for
me,' he added snappishly, 'than for you.'
'You are not coming with me? 'she exclaimed in surprise.
'No, I--I can't quarrel with him,' he answered hurriedly. 'I--I am under
obligations to him. And once in the carriage you'll be safe.'
'Then please to tell me this,' Julia rejoined, her breath a little
short. 'Mr. Thomasson, did you know anything of my being carried off
before it took place?'
'I?' he cried effusively. 'Did I know?'
'I mean--were you employed--to bring me to Mr. Pomeroy's?'
'I employed? To bring you to Mr. Pomeroy's? Good heavens! ma'am, what do
you take me for?' the tutor cried in righteous indignation. 'No, ma'am,
certainly not! I am not that kind of man!' And then blurting out the
truth in his surprise, 'Why, 'twas Mr. Dunborough!' he said. 'And like
him too! Heaven keep us from him!'
'Mr. Dunborough?' she exclaimed.
'Oh,' she said, in a helpless, foolish kind of way. 'It was Mr.
Dunborough, was it?' And she begged his pardon. And did it too so
humbly, in a voice so broken by feeling and gratitude, that, bad man as
he was, his soul revolted from the work he was upon; and for an instant,
he stood still, the lanthorn swinging in his hand.
She misinterpreted the movement. 'Are we right?' she said, anxiously.
'You don't think that we are out of the road?' Though the night was
dark, and it was difficult to discern, anything beyond the circle of