Part 8 out of 14
to this Mrs Finn expressed her opinion that such a measure was
hardly necessary, that the gentleman from the town who had been
called in seemed to know what he was about, and that the illness,
lamentable as it was, did not seem to be in any way dangerous.
'One cannot tell what it comes from,' said the Duke dubiously.
'Young people, I fancy, are often subject to such maladies.'
'It must come from something wrong.'
'That may be said of all sickness.'
'And therefore one tries to find out the cause. She says that she
is unhappy.' These last words he spoke slowly and in a low voice.
To this Mrs Finn could make no reply. She did not doubt but that
the girl was unhappy, and she knew well why; but the source of
Lady Mary's misery was one to which she could not very well
allude. 'You know all the misery about that young man.'
'That is a trouble that requires time to cure it,' she said,--not
meaning to imply that time would cure it by enabling the girl to
forget her lover; but because in truth she had not known what else
'If time will cure it.'
'Time, they say, cures all sorrows.'
'But what should I do to help time? There is no sacrifice I would
not make,--no sacrifice! Of myself I mean. I would devote myself
to her,--leave everything else on one side. We purpose being back
in England in October; but I would remain here if I thought it
better for her comfort.'
'I cannot tell, Duke.'
'Neither can I. But you are a woman and might know better than I
do. It is so hard that a man should be left with the charge of
which from its very nature he cannot understand the duties.' Then
he paused, but she could find no words which would suit the
moment. It was almost incredible to her that after what had passed
he should speak to her at all as to the condition of his daughter.
'I cannot, you know,' he said very seriously, 'encourage a hope
that she should be allowed to marry that man.'
'I do not know.'
'You yourself, Mrs Finn, felt that when she told about it at
'I felt that you would disapprove of it.'
'Disapprove of it! How could it be otherwise? Of course you felt
that. There are ranks in life in which the first comer that suits
a maiden's eye may be accepted as a flirting lover. I will not say
but that they who are born to such a life may be the happier. They
are, I am sure, free from troubles to which they are incident whom
fate has called to a different sphere. But duty is duty;--and
whatever pang it may cost, duty should be performed.'
'Certainly;--certainly; certainly,' he said, re-echoing her word.
'But then, Duke, one has to be so sure what duty requires. In many
matters this is easy enough, and the only difficulty comes from
temptation. There are cases in which it is hard to know.'
'Is this one of them?'
'I think so.'
'Then the maiden should--in any class of life--be allowed to take
the man that just suits her eye?' As he said this his mind was
intent on his Glencora and on Burgo Fitzgerald.
'I have not said so. A man may be bad, vicious, a spendthrift,--
eaten up by bad habits.' Then he frowned, thinking that she also
had her mind intent on his Glencora and on that Burgo Fitzgerald,
and being most unwilling to have the difference between Burgo and
Frank Tregear pointed out to him. 'Nor have I said,' she
continued, 'that even were none of these faults apparent in the
character of a suitor, the lady should in all cases be advised to
accept a young man because he has made himself agreeable to her.
There may be discrepancies.'
'There are,' said he, still with a low voice, but with infinite
'I only said that this was a case in which it might be difficult
for you to see your duty plainly.'
'Why should it be?'
'You would not have her--break her heart?' Then he was silent for
awhile, turning over in his mind the proposition which now seemed
to have been made to him. If the question came to that,--should she
be allowed to break her heart and die, or should he save her from
that fate by sanctioning her marriage with Tregear? If the choice
could be put to him plainly by some supernal power, what then
would he choose? If duty required him to prevent this marriage,
his duty could not be altered by the fact that his girl would
avenge herself upon him by dying! If such a marriage were in
itself wrong, that wrong could not be made right by the fear of
such a catastrophe. Was it not often the case that duty required
that someone should die? And yet as he thought of it,--though that
the someone whom his mind had suggested was the one female
creature now left belonging to him,--he put his hand up to his brow
and trembled with agony. If he knew, if in truth he believed that
such would be the result of firmness on his part,--then he would be
infirm, then must he yield. Sooner than that, he must welcome this
Tregear to his house. But why should he think that she would die?
This woman had now asked him whether he would be willing to break
his girl's heart. It was a frightful question; but he could see
that it had come naturally in the sequence of the conversation
which he had forced upon her. Did girls break their hearts in
such emergencies? Was it not all romance? 'Men have died and
worms have eaten them,--but not for love.' He remembered it all
and carried on the argument in his mind, though the pause was but
for a minute. There might be suffering no doubt. The higher the
duties the keener the pangs! But would it become him to be
deterred from doing right because she for a time might find that
she had made the world bitter for herself? And were there not
feminine wiles,--tricks by which women learn how to have their way
in opposition to the judgement of their lords and masters? He did
not think that his Mary was wilfully guilty of any scheme. The
suffering he knew was true suffering. But not the less did it
become him to be on his guard against any attacks of this nature.
'No,' he said at last. 'I would not have her break her heart,--if I
understand what such words mean. They are generally, I think, used
'You would not wish to see her overwhelmed by sorrow.'
'Wish it! What a question to ask a father!'
'I must be more plain in my language, Duke. Though such a marriage
be distasteful to you, it might perhaps be preferable to see her
'Why should it? I have to sorrow always. We are told that man is
born to sorrow as surely as the sparks fly upwards.'
'Then I can say nothing further.'
'You think I am cruel.'
'If I am to say what I really think I shall offend you.'
'No;--not unless you mean offence.'
'I shall never do that to you, Duke. When you talk as you do now
you hardly know yourself. You think you could see her suffering
and not be moved by it. But were it to be continued long you would
give way. Though we know that there is an infinity of grief in
this life, still we struggle to save those we love from grieving.
If she be steadfast enough to cling to her affection for this man,
then at last you will have to yield.' He looked at her frowning,
but did not say a word. 'Then it will perhaps be a comfort for you
to know that the man himself is trustworthy and honest.'
There was a terrible rebuke in this; but still, as he had called
it down upon himself, he would not resent it, even in his heart.
'Thank you,' he said, rising from his chair. 'Perhaps you will see
her again this afternoon.' Of course she assented, and as the
interview had taken place in his rooms she took her leave.
This which Mrs Finn had said to him was all to the same effect as
that which had come from Lady Cantrip; only it was said with a
higher spirit. Both the women saw the matter in the same light.
There must be a fight between him and his girl; but she, if she
could hold out for a certain time, would be the conqueror. He
might take her away and try what absence would do, or he might
have recourse to that specific which had answered so well in
reference to his own wife; but if she continued to sorrow during
absence, and if she would have nothing to do with the other
lever,--then he must at last give way! He had declared that he was
willing to sacrifice himself,--meaning thereby that if a lengthened
visit to the cities of China, or a prolonged sojourn in the
Western States of America would wean her from her love, he would
go to China or to the Western States. At present his self-
banishment had been carried no farther than Vienna. During their
travels hitherto Tregear's name had not once been mentioned. The
Duke had come away from home resolved not to mention it,--and she
was minded to keep it in reserve till some seeming catastrophe
should justify a declaration of her purpose. But from first to
last she had been sad, and latterly she had been ill. When asked
as to her complaint she would simply say that she was not happy.
To go on with this through the Chinese cities could hardly be good
for either of them. She could not wake herself to any enthusiasm
in regard to scenery, costume, pictures, or even discomforts.
Wherever she was taken it was barren to her.
As their plans stood at present they were to return to England so
as to enable her to be at Custins by the middle of October. Had he
taught himself to hope that any good could be done by prolonged
travelling he would readily have thrown over Custins and Lord
Popplecourt. He could not bring himself to trust much to the
Popplecourt scheme. But the same contrivance had answered on that
former occasion. When he spoke to her about their plans, she
expressed herself quite ready to go back to England. When he
suggested those Chinese cities, her face became very long and she
was immediately attacked by paroxysms of headaches.
'I think I should take her to some place on the seashores of
England,' said Mrs Finn.
'Custins is close to the sea,' he replied. 'It is Lord Cantrip's
place in Dorsetshire. It was partly settled that she was to go
'I suppose she likes Lady Cantrip.'
'Why should she not?'
'She has not said a word to me to the contrary. I only fear that
she would feel that she was being sent there,--as to a convent.'
'What ought I to do then?'
'How can I venture to answer that? What she would like best, I
think, would be to return to Matching with you, and settle down in
a quiet way for the winter.' The Duke shook his head. That would
be worse than travelling. She would still have headaches and still
tell him that she was unhappy. 'Of course I do not know what your
plans are, and pray believe me that I should not obtrude my advice
if you did not ask me.'
'I know it,' he said. 'I know how good you are and how reasonable.
I know how much you have to forgive.'
'And if I have not said so as I should have done it has not been
from want of feeling. I do believe you did what you thought best
when Mary told you that story at Matching.'
'Why should your Grace go back to that?'
'Only that I may acknowledge my indebtedness to you, and say to
you somewhat fuller than I could do in my letter that I am sorry
for the pain which I gave you.'
'All that is over now;--and shall be forgiven.'
Then he spoke of his immediate plans. He would at once go back to
England by slow stages,--by very slow stages,--staying a day or two
at Salzburg, at Ratisbon, at Nuremberg, at Frankfurt, and so on.
In this way he would reach England about the tenth of October, and
Mary would then be ready to go to Custins by the time appointed.
In a day or two Lady Mary was better. 'It is terrible while it
lasts,' she said, speaking to Mrs Finn of her headache, 'but when
it has gone then I am quite well. Only'--she added after a pause,--
'only I can never be happy again while papa thinks as he does now.'
Then there was a party made up before they separated for an
excursion to the Hintersee and the Obersee. On this occasion Lady
Mary seemed to enjoy herself, as she liked the companionship of
Mrs Finn. Against Lady Cantrip she never said a word. But Lady
Cantrip was always a duenna to her, whereas Mrs Finn was a friend.
While the Duke and Phineas were discussing politics together,
thoroughly enjoying the weakness of Lord Drummond and the iniquity
of Sir Timothy, which they did with augmented vehemence from their
ponies' backs, the two women in lower voices talked over their own
affairs. 'I dare say you will be happy at Custins,' said Mrs Finn.
'No; I shall not. There will be people there whom I don't know,
and I don't want to know. Have you heard anything about him, Mrs
Mrs Finn turned round and looked at her,--for a moment almost
angrily. Then her heart relented, 'Do you mean--Mr Tregear?'
'Yes, Mr Tregear.'
'I think I heard that he was shooting with Lord Silverbridge.'
'I am glad of that,' said Mary.
'It will be pleasant for both of them.'
'I am very glad they should be together. While I know that, I feel
that we are not altogether separated. I will never give it up, Mrs
Finn,--never, never. It is not use taking me to China.' In that
Mrs Finn quite agreed with her.
Again at Killancodlem
Silverbridge remained at Crummie-Toddie under the dominion of
Reginald Dobbes till the second week of September. Popplecourt,
Nidderdale and Gerald Palliser were there also, very obedient and
upon the whole efficient. Tregear was intractable, occasional, and
untrustworthy. He was the cause of much trouble to Mr Dobbes. He
would entertain a most heterodox and injurious idea that he had
come to Crummie-Toddie for amusement, and he was not bound to do
anything that did not amuse him. He would not understand that in
sport as in other matters there was an ambition, driving man on to
excel always and be ahead of others. In spite of this Mr Dobbes
had cause for much triumph. It was going to be the greatest thing
ever done by six guns in Scotland. As for Gerald, whom he had
regarded as a boy; and who had offended him by saying that
Crummie-Toddie was ugly,--he was ready to go round the world for
him. He had indoctrinated Gerald with all his ideas of a
sportsman,--even to a contempt for champagne and a conviction that
tobacco should be moderated. The three lords too had proved
themselves efficient, and the thing was going to be a success. But
just when a day was of vital importance, when it was essential
that there should be a strong party for a drive, Silverbridge
found it absolutely necessary that he should go over to
'She has gone,' said Nidderdale.
'Who the ---- is she?' asked Silverbridge almost angrily.
'Everybody know who she is,' said Popplecourt.
'It will be a good thing when some she has got hold of you, my
boy, so as to keep you in your proper place.'
'If you cannot withstand that sort of attraction you ought not to
go in for shooting at all,' said Dobbes.
'I shouldn't wonder at his going,' continued Nidderdale, 'if we
didn't all know that the American is no longer there. She has gone
to--Bath, I think they say.'
'I suppose it Mrs Jones herself,' said Popplecourt.
'My dear boy,' said Silverbridge, 'you may be quite sure that when
I say that I am going to Killancodlem I mean to go to
Killancodlem, and that no chaff about young ladies,--which I think
very disgusting,--will stop me. I shall be sorry if Dobbes's roll
of the killed should be lessened by a single hand; seeing that his
ambition sets that way. Considering the amount of slaughter we
have perpetrated, I really think that we need not be over
anxious.' After this nothing further was said. Tregear, who knew
that Mabel Grex was still at Killancodlem, had not spoken.
In truth Mabel had sent for Lord Silverbridge, and this had been
'MY DEAR LORD SILVERBRIDGE,
'Mrs Montacute Jones is cut to the heart because you have not been
over to see her again, and she says that it is lamentable to think
that such a man as Reginald Dobbes should have so much power over
you. 'Only twelve miles,' she says, 'and he knows that we are
here!' I told that you knew Miss Boncassen was gone.
'But though Miss Boncassen has left us we are a very pleasant
party, and surely you must be tired of such a place as Crummie-
Toddie. If only for the sake of getting a good dinner once in a
way do come over again. I shall be here for ten days. As they will
not let me go back to Grex I don't know where I could be more
happy. I have been asked to go to Custins, and suppose I shall
turn up some time in the autumn.
'And now shall I tell you what I expect? I do expect that you will
come over to--see me. "I did see her the other day," you will say,
"and she did not make herself pleasant." I know that. How was I
to make myself pleasant when I found myself so completely snuffed
out by your American beauty? Now she is away, and Richard will be
himself. Do come, because in truth I want to see you.
'Yours always sincerely.
On receiving this he at once made up his mind to go to
Killancodlem, but he could not make up his mind why it was that
she had asked him. He was sure of two things; sure in the first
place that she had intended to let him know that she did not care
about him; and then sure that she was aware of his intention in
regard to Miss Boncassen. Everybody at Killancodlem had seen it,--
to his disgust; but still that it was so had been manifest. And he
had consoled himself, feeling that it would matter nothing should
he be accepted. She had made an attempt to talk him out of his
purpose. Could it be that she thought it possible a second attempt
might be successful? If so, she did not know him.
She had in truth thought not only that this, but that something
further than this might be possible. Of course the prize loomed
larger before her eyes as the prospect of obtaining it became
less. She could not doubt that he had intended to offer her his
hand when he had spoken to her of his love in London. Then she had
stopped him;--had 'spared him', as she had told her friend.
Certainly she had then been swayed by some feeling that it would be
ungenerous in her to seize greedily the first opportunity he had
given her. But he had again made an effort. He surely would not
have sent her the ring had he not intended her to regard him as
her lover. When she received the ring her heart had beat very
high. Then she had sent that little note, saying that she would
keep it till she could give it to his wife. When she wrote that
she had intended that the ring should be her own. And other things
pressed upon her mind. Why had she been invited to Custins? Little
hints had reached her of the Duke's goodwill towards her. If on
that side marriage were approved, why should she destroy her own
Then she had seen him with Miss Boncassen, and in her pique had
forced the ring back upon him. During that long game on the lawn
her feelings had been very bitter. Of course the girl was the
lovelier of the two. All the world was raving of her beauty. And
there was no doubt as to the charm of her wit and manner. And then
she had no touch of that blase used-up way of life of which Lady
Mabel was conscious herself. It was natural that it should be so.
and was she, Mabel Grex, the girl to stand in his way, and to
force herself upon him, if he loved another? Certainly not,--though
there might be a triple coronet to be had.
But were there not other considerations? Could it be well that the
heir of the House of Omnium should marry an American girl, as to
whose humble birth whispers were already afloat? As his friend,
would it not be right that she should tell him what the world
would say? as his friend, therefore, she had given him her
When he was gone the whole thing weighed heavily on her mind. Why
should she lose the prize if it might still be her own? To be
Duchess of Omnium! She had read of many of the other sex and of
one or two of her own who by settled resolution had achieved
greatness in opposition to all obstacles. Was this thing beyond
her reach? To hunt him and catch him, and marry him to his own
injury,--that would be impossible to her. She was sure of herself
there. But how infinitely better would this be for him! Would she
not have all his family with her,--and all the world of England?
In how short a time would he not repent his marriage with Miss
Boncassen? Whereas, were she his wife, she would stir herself for
his joys, for his good, for his honour, that there should be no
possibility of repentance. And he certainly had loved her. Why
else had he followed her, and spoken such words to her? Of course
he had loved her! But then there had come this blaze of beauty
and had carried off,--not his heart, but his imagination. Because
he had yielded to such fascination, was she to desert him, and
also to desert herself? From day to day she thought of it, and
then she wrote that letter. She hardly knew what she would do,
what she might say; but she would trust to the opportunity to do
and say something.
'If you have no room for me,' he said to Mrs Jones, 'you must
scold Lady Mab. She has told me that you told her to invite me.'
'Of course I did. Do you think I would not sleep in the stables,
and give you up my own bed if there were no other? It is so good
of you to come!'
'So good of you, Mrs Jones, to ask me.'
'So very kind to come when all the attraction has gone!' Then he
blushed and stammered, and was just able to say that his only
object in life was to pour out his adoration at the feet of Mrs
Montacute Jones herself.
There was a certain Lady Fawn,--a pretty mincing married woman of
about twenty-five, with a husband much older, who liked mild
flirtations with mild young men. 'I am afraid we've lost your
great attraction,' she whispered to him.
'Certainly not as long as Lady Fawn is here,' he said, seating
himself close to her on a garden bench, and seizing suddenly hold
of her hand. She gave a little scream and a jerk, and so relieved
herself from him. 'You see,' said he, 'people do make such
mistakes about a man's feelings.'
'It's quite true, but I'll tell you about it another time,' and so
he left her. All these little troubles, his experience in the
'House', the necessity of snubbing Tifto, the choice of a wife,
and his battle with Reginald Dobbes, were giving him by degrees
age and flavour.
Lady Mabel had fluttered about him on his first coming, and had
been very gracious, doing the part of an old friend. 'There is to
be a big shooting tomorrow,' she said, in the presence of Mrs
'If it is to come to that,' he said, 'I might as well go back to
'You may shoot if you like,' said Mabel.
'I haven't even brought a gun with me.'
'Then we'll have a walk,--a whole lot of us,' she said.
In the evening about an hour before dinner Silverbridge and Lady
Mabel were seated together on the bank of a little stream which
ran on the other side of the road, but on a spot not more than a
furlong from the hall-door. She had brought him there, but she had
done so without any definite scheme. She had made no plan of
campaign for the evening, having felt relieved when she found
herself able to postpone the project of her attack till the
morrow. Of course there must be an attack, but how it should be
made she had never the courage to tell herself. The great women of
the world, the Semiramises, the Pocohontas, the Ida Pfeiffers, and
the Charlotte Cordays, had never been wanting to themselves when
the moment for action came. Now she was pleased to have this
opportunity added to her; this pleasant minute in which some soft
preparatory word might be spoken; but the great effort should be
made on the morrow.
'Is not this nicer than shooting with Mr Dobbes?' she asked.
'A great deal nicer. Of course I am bound to say so.'
'But in truth, I want to find out what you really like. Men are so
different. You need not pay me any compliment; you know that well
'I like you better than Dobbes,--if you mean that.'
'Even so much is something.'
'But I am fond of shooting.'
'Only a man may have enough of it.'
'Too much, if he is subject to Dobbes, as Dobbes likes them to be.
Gerald likes it.'
'Did you think it odd,' she said after a pause, 'that I should ask
you to come over again?'
'Was it odd?' he replied.
'That is as you may take it. There is certainly no other man in
the world to whom I would have done it.'
'Not to Tregear?'
'Yes,' she said; 'yes,--to Tregear, could I have been as sure of a
welcome for him as I am for you. Frank is in all respects the same
as a brother to me. That would not have seemed odd;--I mean to
'And has this been--odd,--to yourself?'
'Yes. Not that anybody has felt it. Only I,--and perhaps you. You
felt it so?'
'Not especially. I thought you were a good fellow. I have always
thought that;--except when you made me take back the ring.'
'Does that still fret you?'
'No man likes to take back a thing. It makes him seem to have been
awkward and stupid in giving it.'
'It was the value--'
'You should have left me to judge of that.'
'If I have offended you I will beg your pardon. Give me anything
but that, and I will take it.'
'But why not that?' said he.
'Now that you have fitted it for a lady's finger it should go to
your wife. No one else should have it.' Upon this he brought the
ring once more out of his pocket and again offered it to her. 'No;
anything but that. That your wife must have.' Then he put the
ring back again. 'It would have been nicer for you had Miss
Boncassen been here.' In saying this she followed no plan. It
came rather from pique. It was almost as though she had asked him
whether Miss Boncassen was to have the ring.
'What makes you say that?'
'But it would.'
'Yes it would,' he replied stoutly, turning round as he lay on the
ground and facing her.
'Has it come to that?'
'Come to what? You ask me a question and I will answer it truly.'
'You cannot be happy without her?'
'I did not say so. You ask me whether I should like to have her
here,--and I say Yes. What would you think of me if I said No?'
'My being here is not enough?' This should not have been said, of
course; but the little speech came from the exquisite pain of the
moment. She had meant to have said hardly anything. She had
intended to be happy with him, just touching lightly on things
which might lead to that attack which must be made on the morrow.
But words will often lead whither the speaker has not intended. So
it was now, and in the soreness of her heart she spoke, 'My being
here is not enough?'
'It would be enough,' he said jumping to his feet, 'if you would
understand all and be kind to me.'
'I will at any rate be kind to you,' she replied, as she sat upon
the bank looking at the running water.
'I have asked Miss Boncassen to be my wife.'
'And she has accepted?'
'No; not as yet. She is to take three months to think of it. Of
course I love her best of all. If you will sympathise with me in
that, then I will be as happy with you as the day is long.'
'No,' said she, 'I cannot. I will not.'
'There should be no such marriage. If you have told me this in
'Of course I have told you in confidence.'
'It will go no farther; but there can be no sympathy between us.
It--it--it is not,--is not--' Then she burst into tears.
'No, sir, no; no! What did you mean? But never mind. I have no
question to ask, not a word to say. Why should I? Only this,--that
such a marriage will disgrace your family. To me it is no more
than to anybody else. But it will disgrace your family.'
How she got back to the house she hardly knew; nor did he. That
evening they did not again speak to each other, and on the
following morning there was no walk to the mountains. Before
dinner he drove himself back to Crummie-Toddie, and when he was
taking his leave she shook hands with him with her usual pleasant
What Happened at Doncaster
The Leger this year was to be run on the fourteenth of September,
and while Lord Silverbridge was amusing himself with the dear at
Crummie-Toddie and at Killancodlem with the more easily pursued
young ladies, the indefatigable Major was hard at work in the
stables. This came a little hard on him. There was the cub-hunting
to be looked after, which made his presence at Runnymede
necessary, and then that 'pig-headed fellow, Silverbridge', would
not have the horse trained anywhere but at Newmarket. How was he
to be in two places at once? Yet he was in two places, almost at
once, cub-hunting in the morning at Egham and Bagshot, and sitting
on the same evening at the stable-door at Newmarket, with his eyes
fixed upon Prime Minister.
Gradually had he and Captain Green come to understand each other,
and though they did at last understand each other, Tifto would
talk as though there were no such correct intelligence;--when for
instance he would abuse Lord Silverbridge for being pig-headed. On
such occasions the Captain's remark would generally be short.
'That be blowed!' he would say, implying that that state of things
between the two partners in which such complaints might be
natural, had now been brought to an end. But on one occasion,
about a week before the race, he spoke out a little plainer.
'What's the use of going on with all that, before me? It's settled
what you've got to do.'
'I don't know that anything is settled,' said the Major.
'Ain't it? I thought it was. if it aren't you'll find yourself in
the wrong box. You've as straight a tip as a man need wish for,
but if you back out you'll come to grief. Your money's all on the
other way already.'
On the Friday before the race Silverbridge dined with Tifto at the
Beargarden. On the next morning they went down to Newmarket to see
the horse get a gallop, and came back the same evening. During all
this time, Tifto was more than ordinarily pleasant to his patron.
The horse and the certainty of the horse's success were the only
subjects mooted. 'It isn't what I say,' repeated Tifto, 'but look
at the betting. You can't get five to four against him. They tell
me that if you want to do anything on the Sunday the pull will be
the other way.'
'I stand to lose twenty thousand pounds already,' said
Silverbridge, almost frightened by the amount.
'But how much are you to win?' said Tifto. 'I suppose you could
sell your bets for five thousand pounds down.'
'I wish I knew how to do it,' said Silverbridge. But this was an
arrangement, which, if made just now, would not suit the Major's
They went to Newmarket, and there they met Captain Green. 'Tifto,'
said the young lord, 'I won't have that fellow with us when that
horse is galloping.'
'There isn't an honester man, or a man who understands a horse's
pace better in all England,' said Tifto.
'I won't have him standing alongside of me on the Heath,' said his
'I don't know how I'm to help it.'
'If he's there I'll send the horse in;--that's all.' Then Tifto
found it best to say a few words to Captain Green. But the Captain
also said a few words to himself. 'D--- young fool; he don't know
what he's dropping into.' Which assertion, if you lay aside the
unnecessary expletive, was true to the letter. Lord Silverbridge
was a young fool, and did not at all know into what a mess he was
being dropped by the united experience, perspicuity, and energy of
the man whose company on the Heath he had declined.
The horse was quite a picture to look at. Mr Pook the trainer
assured his Lordship that for health and condition he had never
seen anything better. 'Stout all over,' said Mr Pook, 'and not an
ounce of what you may call flesh. And bright! just feel his coat,
my Lord! That's 'ealth,--that is; not dressing, nor yet macassar!'
And then there were various evidences produced of his pace,--how he
had beaten that horse, giving him two pounds, how he had been
beated by that, but only a mile course; the Leger distance was
just the thing for Prime Minister; how by a lucky chance that
marvellous quick rat of a thing that had won the Derby had not
been entered for the autumn race; how Coalheaver was known to have
bad feet. 'He's a stout 'orse, no doubt,--is the 'Eaver,' said Mr
Pook, 'and that's why the betting-men have stuck to him. But he'll
be nowhere on Wednesday. They're beginning to see it now, my Lord.
I wish they wasn't so sharp-sighted.'
In the course of the day, however, they met a gentleman who was of
a different opinion. He said loudly that he looked on the Heaver
as the best three-year-old in England. Of course as matters stood
he wasn't going to back the Heaver with even money;--but he'd take
twenty-five to thirty in hundreds between the two. All this ended
in the bet being accepted and duly booked by Lord Silverbridge.
And in this way Silverbridge added two thousand four hundred
pounds to his responsibilities.
But there was worse than this coming. On the Sunday afternoon he
went down to Doncaster, of course in the company with the Major.
He was alive to the necessity of ridding himself of the Major; but
it had been acknowledged that the duty could not be performed till
after this race had been run. As he sat opposite to his friend on
their journey to Doncaster, he thought of this in the train. It
should be done immediately on their return to London after the
race. But the horse, his Prime Minister, was by this time so dear
to him that he intended if possible to keep possession of the
When they reached Doncaster the racing-men were all occupied with
Prime Minister. The horse and Mr Pook had arrived that day from
Newmarket, via Cambridge and Peterborough. Tifto, Silverbridge,
and Mr Pook visited him together three times that afternoon and
evening;--and the Captain also visited the horse, though not in
company with Lord Silverbridge. To do Mr Pook justice, no one
could be more careful. When the Captain came round with the Major
Mr Pook was there. But Captain Green did not enter the box,--had no
wise to do so, was of the opinion that on such occasions no one
whose business did not carry him there should go near a horse. His
only object seemed to be to compliment Mr Pook as to his care,
skill, and good fortune.
It was on the Tuesday evening that the chief mischief was done.
There was a club at which many of the racing-men dined, and there
Lord Silverbridge spent his evening. He was the hero of the hour,
and everybody flattered him. It must be acknowledged that his head
was turned. They dined at eight and much wine was drunk. No one
was tipsy, but many were elated; and much confidence in their
favourite animals was imparted to men who had been sufficiently
cautious before dinner. Then cigars and soda-and-brandy became
common, and our young friend was not more abstemious than others.
Large sums were named, and at last in three successive bets Lord
Silverbridge backed his horse for more than forty thousand pounds.
As he was making the second bet Mr Lupton came across to him and
begged him to hold his hand. 'It will be a nasty sum for you to
lose, and winning it will be nothing to you,' he said.
Silverbridge took it good-humouredly, but said that he knew what
he was about. 'These men will pay,' whispered Lupton; 'but you
can't be sure what they're at.' The young man's brow was covered
with perspiration. He was smoking quick and had already smoked
more than was good for him. 'All right,' he said. 'I'll mind what
I'm about.' Mr Lupton could do no more, and retired. Before the
night was over bets had been booked to the amount stated, and the
Duke's son, who had promised that he would never plunge, stood to
lose about seventy thousand pounds upon the race.
While this was going on Tifto sat not far from his patron, but
completely silent. During the day and early in the evening a few
sparks of the glory which scintillated from the favourite horse
flew in his direction. But he was on this occasion unlike himself,
and though the horse was to be run in his name had very little to
say in the matter. Not a boast came out of his mouth during dinner
or after dinner. He was so moody that his partner, who was
generally anxious to keep him quiet, more than once endeavoured to
encourage him. But he was unable to rouse himself. It was still
within his power to run straight; to be on the square, if not with
Captain Green, at any rate with Lord Silverbridge. But to do so he
must make a clean breast with his Lordship and confess the
intended sin. As he heard all that was being done, his conscience
troubled him sorely. With pitch of this sort he had never soiled
himself before. He was to have three thousand pounds from Green,
and then there would be the bets he himself had laid against the
horse,--by Green's assistance! It would be the making of him. Of
what use had been all his 'square' work to him? And then
Silverbridge had behaved so badly to him! But still, as he sat
there during the evening, he would have given a hand to have been
free from the attempt. He had no conception before that he could
become subject to such misery from such a cause. He would make it
straight with Silverbridge this very night,--but that Silverbridge
was ever lighting fresh cigars and ever having his glass refilled.
It was clear to him that on this night Silverbridge could not be
made to understand anything about it. And the deed in which he
himself was to be the chief actor was to be done very early in the
following morning. At last he slunk away to bed.
On the following morning, the morning of the day on which the race
was to be run, the Major tapped on his patron's door about seven
o'clock. Of course there was no answer though the knock was
repeated. When young men overnight drink as much brandy-and-water
as Silverbridge had done, and smoke as many cigars, they are apt
not to hear knocks at their door made at seven o'clock. But there
was no time, not a minute, to be lost. Now, within this minute
that was pressing on him, Tifto must choose his course. He opened
the door and was standing at the young man's head.
'What the d- does this mean?' said his Lordship angrily, as soon
as his visitor had succeeded in waking him. Tifto muttered
something about the horse which Silverbridge failed to understand.
The young man's condition was by no means pleasant. His mouth was
furred by the fumes of tobacco. His head was aching. He was heavy
with sleep, and this intrusion seemed to him to be a final
indignity offered to him by the man whom he now hated. 'What
business have you to come in here?' he said, leaning on his elbow.
'I don't care a straw for the horse. If you have anything to say
send my servant. Get out!'
'Oh;--very well,' said Tifto;--and Tifto got out.
It was about an hour afterwards that Tifto returned, and on this
occasion a groom from the stables, and the young Lord's own
servant, and two or three other men were with him. Tifto had been
made to understand that the news was about to be communicated,
must be communicated by himself, whether his Lordship were angry
or not. Indeed, after what had been done his Lordship's anger was
not of much moment. In his present visit he was only carrying out
the pleasant little plan which had been arranged for him by
Captain Green. 'What the mischief is up?' said Silverbridge,
rising in his bed.
Then Tifto told his story, sullenly, doggedly, but still in a
perspicuous manner, and with words which admitted of no doubt. But
before he told the story he had excluded all but himself and the
groom. He and the groom had taken the horse out of the stable, it
being the animal's nature to eat his corn better after a slight
exercise, and while doing so a nail had been picked up.
'Is it much?' asked Silverbridge, jumping still higher in his bed.
Then he was told that it was very much,--that the iron had driven
itself into the horse's frog, and that there was actually no
possibility that the horse should be run that day.
'He can't walk, my Lord,' said the groom in that authoritative
voice which grooms use when they desire to have their own way, and
to make their masters understand that they at any rate are not to
'Where is Pook?' asked Silverbridge. But Mr Pook was also still in
It was soon known to Lord Silverbridge as a fact that in very
truth the horse could not run. Then sick with headache, with a
stomach suffering unutterable things, he had, as he dressed
himself, to think of his seventy thousand pounds. Of course the
money would be forthcoming. But how would his father look at him?
How would it be between him and his father now? after such a
misfortune how would he be able to break that other matter to the
Duke, and say that he had changed his mind about his marriage,--
that he was going to abandon Lady Mabel Grex and give his hand and
a future Duchess's coronet to an American girl whose grandfather
had been a porter.
A nail in his foot! He had heard of such things before. He knew
that such accidents had happened. What an ass must he have been to
risk such a sum on the well-being and safety of an animal who
might any day pick up a nail in is foot? Then he thought of the
caution which Lupton had given him. What good would the money have
done him had he won it? What more could he have than he now
enjoyed? But to lose such a sum of money! With all his advantages
of wealth he felt himself to be as forlorn and wretched as though
he had nothing left in the world before him.
How It was Done
The story was soon about the town, and was the one matter for
discussion in all racing quarters. About the town! It was about
England, about all Europe. It had travelled to America and the
Indies, to Australia and the Chinese cities before two hours were
over. Before the race was run the accident was discussed and
something like the truth surmised in Cairo, Calcutta, Melbourne,
and San Francisco. But at Doncaster it was so all-pervading a
matter that down to the tradesmen's daughters and the boys at the
free-school the town was divided into two parties, one party
believing it to have been a 'plant', and the other holding that
the cause had been natural. It is hardly necessary to say that the
ring, as a rule, belonged to the former party. The ring always
suspects. It did not behove even those who would win by the
transaction to stand up for its honesty.
The intention had been to take the horse round a portion of the
outside of the course near to which his stable stood. A boy rode
him and the groom and Tifto went with him. At a certain spot on
their return Tifto had exclaimed that the horse was going lame in
his off fore-foot. As to this exclamation the boy and two men were
agreed. The boy was then made to dismount and run for Mr Pook; and
as he started Tifto commenced to examine the horse's foot. The boy
saw him raise the off fore-leg. He himself had not found the horse
lame under him, but had been so hustled and hurried out of the
saddle by Tifto and the groom that he had not thought on that
matter till he was questioned. So far the story told by Tifto and
the groom was corroborated by the boy,--except as to the horse's
actual lameness. So far the story was believed by all men,--except
in regard to the actual lameness. And so far it was true. Then,
according to Tifto and the groom, the other foot was looked at,
but nothing was seen. This other foot, the near fore-foot, was
examined by the groom, who declared himself to be so flurried by
the lameness of such a horse at such a time, that he hardly knew
what he saw or what he did not see. At any rate then in his
confusion he found no cause of lameness; but the horse was led
into the stable as lame as at tree. Here Tifto found the nail
inserted into the very cleft of the frog of the near fore-foot,
and so inserted that he could not extract it till the farrier
came. That the farrier had extracted the nail from the part of
the foot indicated was certainly a fact.
Then there was the nail. Only those who were most peculiarly
privileged were allowed to see the nail. But it was buzzed about
the racing quarters that the head of the nail,--and old rusty,
straight, and well-pointed nail,--bore on it the mark of a recent
hammer. In answer to this it was alleged that the blacksmith in
extracting the nail with his pincers, had of course operated on
its head, had removed certain particles of rust, and might easily
have given it the appearance of having been struck. But in answer
to this the farrier, who was a sharp fellow, and quite beyond
suspicion in the matter, declared that he had very particularly
looked at the nail before he extracted it,--had looked at it with
the feeling that something base might too probably have been
done,--and that he was ready to swear that the clear mark on the
head of the nail was there before he touched it. And then not in
the stable, but lying under the little dung-heap away from the
stable-door, there was found a small piece of broken iron bar,
about a foot long, which might have answered for a hammer,--a rusty
bit of iron; and amidst the rust of this there was found such
traces as might have been left had it been used in striking such a
nail. There were some who declared that neither on the nail nor on
the iron could they see anything. And among these was the Major.
But Mr Lupton brought a strong magnifying-glass to bear, and the
world of examiners was satisfied that the marks were there.
It seemed however to be agreed that nothing could be done.
Silverbridge would not lend himself at all to those who suspected
mischief. He was miserable enough, but in this great trouble he
would not separate himself from Tifto. 'I don't believe a word of
all that,' he said to Mr Lupton.
'It ought to be investigated at any rate.'
'Mr Pook may do as he likes, but I will have nothing to do with
Then Tifto came to him swaggering. Tifto had to go through a
considerable amount of acting, for which he was not very well
adapted. The Captain would have done it better. He would have
endeavoured to put himself altogether into the same boat with his
partner, and would have imagined neither suspicion or enmity on
his partner's part till suspicion or enmity had been shown. But
Tifto, who had not expected that the matter should be allowed to
pass over without some inquiry, began by assuming that
Silverbridge would think of evil of him. Tifto, who at this moment
would have given all that he had in the world not to have done the
deed, who now hated the instigator of the deed, and felt something
almost akin to love for Silverbridge, found himself to be forced
by circumstances to defend himself by swaggering. 'I don't
understand all this that's going on, my Lord,' he said.
'Neither do I,' replied Silverbridge.
'Any horse is subject to an accident. I am, I suppose, as great a
sufferer as you are, and deuced sight less able to bear it.'
'Who said anything to the contrary? As for bearing it, we must
take it as it comes,--both of us. You may as well know now as later
that I have done with racing--for ever.'
'What do you do you tell me that for? You can do as you like and I
can do as I like about that. If I had my way about the horse this
never would have happened. Taking a horse out at that time in the
morning,--before a race!'
'Why, you went out with him yourself.'
'Yes;---by Pook's orders. You allowed Pook to do just as he
pleased. I should like to know what money Pook had got on it, and
which way he laid it.' This disgusted Silverbridge so much that
he turned away and would have no more to say to Tifto.
Before one o'clock, at which hour it was stated nominally that the
races would commence, general opinion had formed itself,--and
general opinion had nearly hit the truth. General opinion declared
that the nail had been driven in wilfully,--that it had been done
by Tifto himself, and that Tifto had been instigated by Captain
Green. Captain Green perhaps overacted his part a little. His
intimacy with the Major was well known, and yet, in all this
turmoil, he kept himself apart as though he had no interest in the
matter. 'I have got my little money on, and what little I have I
lose,' he said in answer to inquiries. But everyone knew that he
could not but have a great interest in a race, as to which the
half owner of the favourite was a peculiarly intimate friend of
his own. Had he come down to the stables and been seen about the
place with Tifto it might have been better. As it was, though he
was very quiet, his name was soon mixed up in the matter. There
was one man who asserted it as a fact known to himself that Green
and Villiers,--one Gilbert Villiers,--were in partnership together.
It was very well known that Gilbert Villiers would win two
thousand five hundred pounds from Lord Silverbridge.
Then minute investigations was made into the betting of certain
individuals. Of course there would be great plunder, and where
would the plunder go? Who would get the money which poor
Silverbridge would lose? It was said that one at least of the
large bets made on that Tuesday evening could be traced to the
same Villiers though not actually made by him. More would be
learned when the settling-day should come. But there was quite
enough already to show that there were many men determined to get
to the bottom of it if possible.
There came upon Silverbridge in his trouble a keen sense of his
position and a feeling of the dignity which he ought to support.
He clung during great part of the morning to Mr Lupton. Mr Lupton
was much his senior and they had never been intimate; but now
there was comfort in his society. 'I am afraid you are hit
heavily,' said Mr Lupton.
'Something over seventy thousand pounds.'
'Looking at what will be your property it is of course nothing.
'If you go to the Jews for it then it will become a great deal.'
'I shall certainly not do that.'
'Then you may regard it as a trifle,' said Lupton.
'No, I can't. It is not a trifle. I must tell my father. He'll
find the money.'
'There is no doubt about that.'
'He will. But I feel at present that I would rather change places
with the poorest gentleman I know than have to tell him. I have
done with races, Lupton.'
'If so, this will have been a happy day for you. A man in your
position can hardly make money by it, but he may lose so much! If
a man really likes the amusement,--as I do,--and risks no more that
what he has in his pocket, that may be very well.'
'At any rate I have done with it.'
Nevertheless he went to see the race run, and everybody seemed to
be touched with pity for him. He carried himself well, saying as
little as he could of his own horse, and taking, or affecting to
take, great interest in the race. After the race he managed to see
all those to whom he has lost heavy stakes,--having to own to
himself as he did so that not one of them was a gentleman to whom
who should like to give his hand. To them he explained that his
father was abroad,--that probably his liabilities could not be
settled till after his father's return. He however would consult
his father's agent and would then appear on settling-day. They
were all full of their blandest courtesies. There was not one of
them who had any doubt as to getting his money,--unless the whole
thing might be disputed on the score of Tifto's villainy. Even
then payment could not be disputed unless it was proved that he
who demanded the money had been one of the actual conspirators.
After having seen his creditors he went away up alone to London.
When in London he went to Carlton Terrace and spent the night in
absolute solitude. It had been his plan to join Gerald for some
partridge-shooting at Matching, and then to go yachting till such
time as he should be enabled to renew his suit to Miss Boncassen.
Early in November he would again ask her to be his wife. These had
been his plans. But now it seemed that everything was changed.
Partridge-shooting and yachting must be out of the question till
this terrible load was taken off his shoulders. Soon after his
arrival at the house two telegrams followed him from Doncaster.
One was from Gerald. 'What is all this about Prime Minister? Is it
a sell? I am so unhappy.' The other was from Lady Mabel,--for
among other luxuries Mrs Montacute Jones had her own telegraph-wire
at Killancodlem. 'Can this be true? We are all so miserable. I do
hope it is not much.' From which he learned that his misfortune
was already known to all his friends.
And now what was he to do? He ate his supper, and then without
hesitating for a moment--feeling that if he did hesitate the task
would not be done on that night,--he sat down and wrote the
'Carlton Terrace, Sept. 14, 18-.
'MY DEAR MR MORETON,
'I have just come up from Doncaster. You have probably heard what
has been Prime Minister's fate. I don't know whether any horse has
been such a favourite for the Leger. Early in the morning he was
taken out and picked up a nail. The consequence was he could not
'Now I must come to the bad part of my story. I have lost seventy
thousand pounds! It is no use beating about the bush. The sum is
something over that. What am I to do? If I tell you that I shall
give up racing altogether I dare say you will not believe me. It
is a sort of thing a man always says when he wants money; but I
feel now I cannot help saying it.
'But what shall I do? Perhaps, if it be not too much trouble, you
will come up to town and see me. You can send me a word by the
'You may be sure of this. I shall make no attempt to raise the
money elsewhere, unless I find that my father will not help me.
You will understand that of course it must be paid. You will
understand also what I must feel about telling my father, but I
shall do so at once. I only wait till I can hear from you.
During the next day two despatches reached Lord Silverbridge, both
of them coming as he sat down to his solitary dinner. The first
consisted of a short but very civil note.
'Messrs Comfort and Criball present their compliments to the Earl
'Messrs C and C beg to offer their apologies for interfering, but
desire to inform his Lordship that should cash be wanting to any
amount in consequence of the late races, they will be happy to
accommodate his Lordship on most reasonable terms at a moment's
notice, upon his Lordship's simple bond.
'Lord Silverbridge may be sure of absolute secrecy.
'Crasham Court, Crutched Friars, Sept 15, 18-.'
The other despatch was a telegram from Mr Moreton, saying that he
would be in Carlton Terrace by noon on the following day.
There Shall Not be Another Word About It.
Early in October the Duke was at Matching with his daughter, and
Phineas Finn and his wife were both with them. On the day after
they parted at Ischl the first news respecting Prime Minister had
reached him,--namely, that his son's horse had lost the race. This
would not have annoyed him at all, but that the papers which he
read contained some vague charge of swindling against somebody,
and hinted that Lord Silverbridge had been a victim. Even this
would not have troubled him,--might in some sort have comforted
him,--were it made evident to him that his son had been closely
associated with swindlers in these transactions. If it were a mere
question of money, that might be settled without difficulty. Even
though the sum lost might have grown out of what he might have
expected into some few thousands, still he would bear it without a
word, if only he could separate his boy from bad companions. Then
came Mr Moreton's letter telling him the whole.
At the meeting which took place between Silverbridge and his
father's agent at Carlton Terrace it was settled that Mr Moreton
should write the letter. Silverbridge tried and found that he
could not do it. He did not know how to humiliate himself
sufficiently, and yet could not keep himself from making attempts
to prove that according to all recognised chances his bets had
been good bets.
Mr Moreton was better able to accomplish the task. He knew the
Duke's mind. A very large discretion had been left in Mr Moreton's
hands in regard to moneys which might be needed on behalf of that
dangerous heir!-so large that he had been able to tell Lord
Silverbridge that if the money was in truth lost according to
Jockey Club rules, it should be all forthcoming on the settling-
day,--certainly without assistance from Messrs Comfort and Criball.
The Duke had been nervously afraid of such men of business as
Comfort and Criball, and from the earliest days of his son's semi-
manhood had been on his guard against them. Let any sacrifice be
made so that his son might be kept clear from Comforts and
Criballs. To Mr Moreton he had been very explicit. His own
pecuniary resources were so great that they could bear some
ravaging without serious detriment. It was for his son's character
and standing in the world, for his future respectability and
dignity that his fears were so keen, and not for his own money. By
one so excitable, so fond of pleasure as Lord Silverbridge, some
ravaging would probably be made. Let it be met by ready money.
Such had been the Duke's instructions to his own trusted man of
business, and, acting on these instructions, Mr Moreton was able
to tell the heir that the money should be forthcoming.
Mr Moreton, after detailing the extent and nature of the loss, and
the steps which he had decided upon taking, went on to explain the
circumstances as best he could. He had made some inquiry, and felt
no doubt that a gigantic swindle had been perpetrated by Major
Tifto and others. The swindle had been successful. Mr Moreton had
consulted certain gentlemen of high character versed in the
affairs of the turf. He mentioned Mr Lupton among others,--and had
been assured that though the swindle was undoubted, the money had
better be paid. It was thought to be impossible to connect the men
who had made the bets with the perpetrators of the fraud;--and if
Lord Silverbridge were to abstain from paying his bets because his
own partner had ruined the animal which belonged to them jointly,
the feeling would be against him rather than in his favour. In
fact the Jockey Club could not sustain him in such refusal.
Therefore the money would be paid. Mr Moreton, with some
expression of doubt, trusted that he might be thought to have
exercised a wise discretion. Then he went on to express his own
opinion in regard to the lasting effect which the matter would
have upon the young man. 'I think,' said he, 'that his Lordship is
heartily sickened of racing, and that he will never return to it.'
The Duke of course was very wretched when these tidings first
reached him. Though he was a rich man, and of all men the least
careful of his riches, still he felt that seventy thousand pounds
was a large sum of money to throw away amongst a nest of
swindlers. And then it was excessively grievous to him that his
son should have been mixed up with such men. Wishing to screen his
son, even from his own anger, he was careful to remember the
promise made that Tifto should be dismissed, was not to take
effect till after this race had been run. There had been no deceit
in that. But then Silverbridge had promised that he would not
'plunge'. There are, however, promises which from their very
nature may be broken without falsehood. Plunging is a doubtful
word, and the path down to it, like all doubtful paths,--is
slippery and easy! If that assurance with which Mr Moreton ended
his letter could only be made true, he could bring himself to
forgive even this offence. The boy must be made to settle himself
in life. The Duke resolved that his only revenge should be to
press on that marriage with Mabel Grex.
At Coblenz, on their way home, the Duke and his daughter were
caught up by Mr and Mrs Finn, and the matter of the young man's
losses was discussed. Phineas had heard all about it, and was loud
in denunciations against Tifto, Captain Green, Gilbert Villiers,
and others whose names had reached him. The money he thought
should never have been paid. The Duke however declared that the
money would not cause a moment's regret, if only the whole thing
could be got rid of at that cost. It had reached Finn's ears that
Tifto was already at loggerheads with his associates. There was
some hope that the whole thing might be brought to light by this
means. For all that the Duke cared nothing. If only Silverbridge
and Tifto could for the future be kept apart, as far as he and his
were concerned, good would have been done rather than harm. While
they were in this way away together on the Rhine it was decided
that very soon after their return to England Phineas and Mrs Finn
should go down to Matching.
When the Duke arrived in London his sons were not there. Gerald
had gone back to Oxford, and Silverbridge had merely left an
address. Then his sister wrote him a very short letter. 'Papa will
be so glad if you will come to Matching. Do come.' Of course he
came, and presented himself some few days after the Duke's
But he dreaded this meeting with his father which, however, let it
be postponed for ever so long, must come at last. In reference to
this he made a great resolution,--that he would go instantly as
soon as he might be sent for. When the summons came he started;
but, though he was by courtesy an Earl, and by fact was not only a
man but a Member of Parliament, though he was half engaged to
marry one young lady and ought to have been engaged to marry
another, though he had come to an age at which Pitt was a great
minister and Pope a great poet, still his heart was in his boots,
as a schoolboy's might be, when he was driven up to the house at
In two minutes before he had washed the dust from his face, and
hands, he was with his father. 'I am glad to see you,
Silverbridge's aid the Duke, putting out his hand.
'I hope to see you well, sir.'
'Fairly well. Thank you. Travelling I think agrees with me. I
miss, not my comforts, but a certain knowledge of how things are
going on, which comes to us I think through our skins when we are
at home. A feeling of absence pervades me. Otherwise I like it.
And you,--what have you been doing?'
'Shooting a little,' said Silverbridge, in a mooncalf tone.
'Shooting a great deal, if what I see in the newspapers be true
about Mr Reginald Dobbes and his party. I presume it is a religion
to offer up hecatombs to the autumnal gods,--who must surely take a
keener delight in blood and slaughter than those bloodthirsty gods
'You should talk to Gerald about that, sir.'
'Has Gerald been so great at his sacrifices? How will that suit
with Plato? What does Mr Simcox say?'
'Of course they were all to have a holiday just at that time. But
Gerald is reading. I fancy that Gerald is clever.'
'And he is a great Nimrod?'
'As to hunting.'
'Nimrod I fancy got his game in any way that he could compass it.
I do not doubt but that he trapped foxes.'
'With a rifle at deer, say for four hundred yards, I would back
Gerald against any man of his age in England or Scotland.'
'As to backing, Silverbridge, do not you think we had better have
done with that?' This was hardly in a tone of reproach, with
something even of banter in it; and as the question was asked the
Duke was smiling. But in a moment all that sense of joyousness
which the young man had felt in singing his brother's praises was
expelled. His face fell, and he stood before his father almost
like a culprit. 'We might as well have it out about his racing,'
said the Duke. 'Something has to be said about it. You have lost
an enormous sum of money.' The Duke's tone in saying this became
terribly severe. Such at least was its sound in his son's ears. He
did not mean to be severe.
But when he did speak of that which displeased him his voice
naturally assumed that tone of indignation with which in days of
yore he had been wont to denounce the public extravagance of his
opponents in the House of Commons. The father paused, but the son
could not speak at the moment. 'And worse than that,' continued
the Duke; 'you have lost it in as bad company as you could have
found had you picked all England through.'
'Mr Lupton, and Sir Henry Playfair, and Lord Stirling were in the
room when the bets were made.'
'Were the gentlemen you name concerned with Major Tifto?'
'Who can tell with whom he may be in a room? Though rooms of that
kind are, I think, best avoided.' Then the Duke paused again, but
Silverbridge was now sobbing so that he could hardly speak. 'I am
sorry that you should be so grieved,' continued the father, 'but
such delights cannot, I think, lead to much real joy.'
'It is for you, sir,' said the son, rubbing his eyes with the hand
which supported his head.
'My grief in the matter might soon be cured.'
'How shall I cure it? I will do anything to cure it.'
'Let Major Tifto and the horses go.'
'They are gone,' said Silverbridge energetically, jumping from his
chair as he spoke. 'I will never own a horse again, or a part of a
horse. I will have nothing more to do with races. You will believe
'I will believe anything that you tell me.'
'I won't say I will not go to another race, because--'
'No; no. I would not have you hamper yourself. Nor shall you bind
yourself by any further promises. You have done with racing.'
'Indeed, indeed I have, sir.'
Then the father came up to the son and put his arm round the young
man's shoulders and embraced him. 'Of course it made me unhappy.'
'I knew it would.'
'But if you are cured of this evil, the money is nothing. What is
all for but for you and your brother and sister? It was a large
sum, but that shall not grieve me. The thing itself is so
dangerous that if with that much of a loss we can escape, I will
think that we have made not a bad market. Who owns the horse now?'
'The horse shall be sold.'
'For anything they may fetch so that we may get clear of this
dirt. And the Major?'
'I know nothing of him. I have not seen him since that day.'
'Has he claims on you?'
'Not a shilling. It is all the other way.'
'Let it go then. Be quit of him, however it may be. Send a
messenger so that he may understand that you have abandoned racing
altogether. Mr Moreton might perhaps see him.'
That his father should forgive so readily and yet himself suffer
so deeply, affected the son's feelings so strongly that for a time
he could hardly repress his sobs. 'And now there shall not be a
word more said about it,' said the Duke suddenly.
Silverbridge in his confusion could make no answer.
'There shall not be another word said about it,' said the Duke
again. 'And now what do you mean to do with yourself immediately?'
'I'll stay here, sir, as long as you do. Finn and Warburton, and I
have still a few covers to shoot.'
'That's a good reason for staying anywhere.'
'I meant that I would remain while you remained, sir.'
'That at any rate is a good reason, as far as I am concerned. But
we go to Custins next week.'
'There's a deal of shooting to be done at Gatherum,' said the
'You speak of it as the business of your life,--on which your bread
'One can't expect game to be kept up if nobody goes to shoot it.'
'Can't one? I didn't know. I should have thought that the less was
shot the more there would be to shoot; but I am ignorant in such
matters.' Silverbridge then broke forth into a long explanation
as to coverts, gamekeepers, poachers, breeding, and the
expectations of the neighbourhood at large, in the middle of which
he was interrupted by the Duke. 'I am afraid, my dear boy, that I
am too old to learn. But as it is so manifestly a duty, go and
perform it like a man. Who will go with you?'
'I will ask Mr Finn to be one.'
'He will be very hard on you in the way of politics.'
'I can answer him better than I can you, sir. Mr Lupton said he
would come for a day or two. He'll stand to me.'
After that his father stopped him as he was about to leave the
room. 'One more word, Silverbridge. Do you remember what you were
saying when you walked down to the House with me from your club
that night?' Silverbridge remembered very well what he had said.
He had undertaken to ask Mabel Grex to be his wife, and had
received his father's ready approval to the proposition. But at
this moment he was unwilling to refer to the matter. 'I have
thought about it very much since that,' said the Duke. 'I may say
that I have been thinking of it every day. If there were anything
to tell me, you would let me know;--would you not?'
'Then there is nothing to be told? I hope you have not changed
Silverbridge paused a moment, trusting that he might be able to
escape the making of an answer;--but the Duke evidently intended to
have an answer. 'It appeared to me, sir, that it did not seem to
suit her,' said the hardly-driven young man. He could not now say
that Mabel had shown a disposition to reject his offer, because as
they had been sitting by the brookside at Killancodlem, even he,
with all his self-diffidence, had been forced to see what were her
wishes. Her confusion, and too evident despair when she heard of
the offer to the American girl, had plainly told her tale. He
could not now plead to his father that Mabel Grex would refuse his
offer. But his self-defence, when first he found that he had lost
himself in love for the American, had been based on that idea. He
had done his best to make Mabel understand him. If he had not
actually offered to her, he had done the next thing to it. And he
had run after her, till he was ashamed of such running. She had
given him no encouragement;--and therefore he had been justified.
No doubt he must have been mistaken; that he now perceived; but
still he felt himself to be justified. It was impossible that he
should explain all this to his father. One thing he certainly
could not say,--just at present. After his folly with regard to
those heavy debts he could not at once risk his father's renewed
anger by proposing to him an American daughter-in-law. That must
stand over, at any rate till the girl had accepted him positively.
'I am afraid it won't come off, sir,' he said at last.
'Then I am to presume that you have changed your mind?'
'I told you when we were speaking that I was not confident.'
'She has not--'
'I can't explain it all, sir,--but I fear it won't come off.'
Then the Duke, who had been sitting, got up from his chair and
with his back to the fire made a final little speech. 'We decided
just now, Silverbridge, that nothing more should be said about
that unpleasant racing business, and nothing more shall be said by
me. But you must not be surprised if I am anxious to see you
settled in life. No young man could be more bound by duty to marry
early than you are. In the first place you have to repair the
injury done by my inaptitude for society. You have explained to me
that it is your duty to have the Barsetshire coverts properly
shot, and I have acceded to your views. Surely it must be equally
your duty to see your Barsetshire neighbours. And you are a young
man every feature of whose character would be improved by
matrimony. As far as means are concerned you are almost as free to
make arrangements as though you were already head of the family.'
'I could never bring myself to dictate to a son in regard to his
choice of a wife. But I will own that when you told me that you
had chosen I was much gratified. Try and think again when you are
pausing amidst your sacrifices at Gatherum, whether that be
possible. If it be not, still I would wish you to bear in mind
what is my idea as to your duty.' Silverbridge said that he would
bear this in mind, and then escaped from the room.
Lady Mary's Dream
When the Duke and his daughter reached Custins they found a large
party assembled, and were somewhat surprised at the crowd. Lord
and Lady Nidderdale were there, which might have been expected as
they were part of the family. With Lord Popplecourt had come his
recent friend Adolphus Longstaff. That too might have been
natural. Mr and Miss Boncassen were there also, who at this moment
were quite strangers to the Duke; and Mr Lupton. The Duke also
found Lady Chiltern, whose father-in-law had more than once sat in
the same Cabinet with himself, and Mr Monk, who was generally
spoken of as the head of the coming Liberal Government, and the
Ladies Adelaide and Flora FitzHoward, the still unmarried but not
very juvenile daughters of the Duke of St Bungay. These with a few
others made a large party, and rather confused the Duke, who had
hardly reflected that discreet and profitable love-making was more
likely to go on among numbers, than if the two young people were
thrown together with no other companions.
Lord Popplecourt had been made to understand what was expected of
him, and after some hesitation had submitted himself to the
conspiracy. There would not be less at any rate than two hundred
thousand pounds,--and the connection would be made with one of the
highest families in Great Britain. Though Lady Cantrip had said
very few words, those words had been expressive; and the young
bachelor peer had given in his adhesion. Some vague half-defined
tale had been told him,--not about Tregear, as Tregear's name had
not been mentioned,--but respecting some dream of a young man who
had flitted across the girl's path during her mother's lifetime.
'All girls have such dreams,' Lady Cantrip had suggested.
Whereupon Lord Popplecourt said that he supposed it was so. 'But a
softer, purer, more unsullied flower never waited upon its stalk
till the proper fingers should choose to come and pluck it,' said
Lady Cantrip, rising to unaccustomed poetry on behalf of her
friend the Duke. Lord Popplecourt accepted the poetry and was
ready to do his best to pluck the flower.
Soon after the Duke's arrival Lord Popplecourt found himself in
one of the drawing-rooms with Lady Cantrip and his propose father-
in-law. A hint had been given him that he might as well be home
early from shooting, so as to be in the way. As the hour in which
he was to make himself specially agreeable, both to the father and
to the daughter, had drawn nigh, he became somewhat nervous, and
now, at this moment, was not altogether comfortable. Though he had
been concerned in no such matter before, he had an idea that love
was a soft kind of thing which ought to steal on one unawares and
come and go without trouble. In his case it came upon him with a
rough demand for immediate hard work. He had not previously
thought that he was to be subjected to such labours, and at this
moment almost resented the interference with his ease. He was
already a little angry with Lady Cantrip, but at the same time
felt himself to be so much in subjection to her that he could not
The Duke himself when he saw the young man was hardly more
comfortable. He had brought his daughter to Custins, feeling that
it was his duty to be with her; but he would have preferred to
leave the whole operation to the care of Lady Cantrip. He hardly
liked to look at the fish whom he wished to catch for his
daughter. Whenever this aspect of affairs presented itself to him,
he would endeavour to console himself by remembering the past
success of a similar transaction. He thought of his own first
interview with his wife. 'You have heard,' he said, 'what our
friends wish.' She had pouted her lips, and when gently pressed
had at last muttered, with her shoulder turned to him, that she
supposed it was to be so. Very much more coercion had been used to
her than either himself or Lady Cantrip had dared to apply to his
daughter. He did not think that his girl in her present condition
of mind would signify to Lord Popplecourt that she 'supposed it
was to be so'. Now that the time for the transaction was present
he felt almost sure that it would never be transacted. But still
he must go on with it. Were he now to abandon his scheme, would it
not be tantamount to abandoning everything? So he wreathed his
face in smiles,--or made some attempt at it,--as he greeted the
'I hope you and Lady Mary had a pleasant journey abroad,' said
Lord Popplecourt. Lord Popplecourt being aware that he had been
chosen as a son-in-law felt himself called upon to be familiar as
well as pleasant. 'I often thought of you and Lady Mary, and
wondered what you were about.'
'We were visiting lakes and mountains, churches and picture
galleries, cities, and salt mines,' said the Duke.
'Does Lady Mary like that sort of thing?'
'I think she was pleased with what she saw.
'She has been abroad a great deal before, I believe. It depends so
much on whom you meet when abroad.'
This was unfortunate because it recalled Tregear to the Duke's
mind. 'We saw very few people whom we knew,' he said.
'I've been shooting in Scotland with Silverbridge, and Gerald, and
Reginald Dobbes, and Nidderdale,--and that fellow Tregear, who is
so thick with Silverbridge.'
'I'm told that Lord Gerald is going to be the great shot of the
day,' said Lady Cantrip.
'It is a distinction,' said the Duke bitterly.
'He did not beat me by so much,' continued Popplecourt. 'I think
Tregear did the best with his rifle. One morning he potted three.
Dobbes was disgusted. He hated Tregear.'
'Isn't it stupid,--half-a-dozen men getting together in that way?'
asked Lady Cantrip.
'Nidderdale is always jolly.'
'I am glad to hear that,' said the mother-in-law.
'And Gerald is a regular brick.' the Duke bowed. 'Silverbridge
used always to be going off to Killancodlem, where there were a
lot of ladies. He is very sweet, you know, on this American girl
whom you have here.' Again the Duke winced. 'Dobbes is awfully
good as to making out the shooting, but then he his a tyrant.
Nevertheless I agree with him, if you mean to do a thing you
should do it.'
'Certainly,' said the Duke. 'But you should make up your mind
first whether the thing is worth doing.'
'Just so,' said Popplecourt. 'And as grouse and deer together are
about the best things out, most of us made up our minds that it
was worth doing. But that fellow Tregear would argue it out. He
said a gentleman oughtn't to play billiards as well as a marker.'
'I think he was right,' said the Duke.
'Do you know Mr Tregear, Duke?'
'I have met him--with my son.'
'Do you like him?'
'I have seen very little of him.'
'I cannot say I do. He thinks so much of himself. Of course he is
very intimate with Silverbridge, and that is all that anyone knows
of him.' The Duke bowed almost haughtily, though why he bowed he
could hardly have explained to himself. Lady Cantrip bit her lips
in disgust. 'He's just the fellow,' continued Popplecourt, 'to
think that some princess has fallen in love with him.' Then the
Duke left the room.
'You had better not talk to him about Mr Tregear,' said Lady
'I don't know whether he approves of the intimacy between him and
'I should think not;--a man without any position or a shilling in
'The Duke is peculiar. If a subject is distasteful to him he does
not like it to be mentioned. You had better not mention Mr
Tregear,' Lady Cantrip as she said this blushed inwardly at her
It was of course contrived at dinner that Lord Popplecourt should
take out Lady Mary. It is impossible to discover how such things
get wind, but there was already an idea prevalent at Custins that
Lord Popplecourt had matrimonial views, and that these views were
looked upon favourably. 'You may be quite sure of it, Mr Lupton,'
Lady Adelaide FitzHoward had said. 'I'll make a bet they're
married before this time next year.'
'It will be a terrible case of Beauty and the Beast,' said Lupton.
Lady Chiltern had whispered a suspicion of the same kind, and had
expressed a hope that the lover would be worthy of the girl. And
Dolly Longstaff had chaffed his friend Popplecourt on the subject,
Popplecourt having laid himself open by indiscreet allusions to
Dolly's love for Miss Boncassen. 'Everybody can't have it as
easily arranged for him as you,--a Duke's daughter and a pot of
money without so much as the trouble of asking for it!'
'What do you know about the Duke's children?'
'That's what it is to be a lord and not to have a father.'
Popplecourt tried to show that he was disgusted; but he felt
himself all the more strongly bound to go on with the project.
It was therefore a matter of course that these should-be lovers
would be sent out of the room together. 'You'll give your arm to
Mary,' Lady Cantrip said, dropping the ceremonial prefix. Lady
Mary of course went out as she was bidden. Though everybody else
knew it, no idea of what was intended had yet come across her
The should-be lover immediately reverted to the Austrian tour,
expressing a hope that his neighbour enjoyed herself. 'There's
nothing I like so much myself,' said he, remembering some of the
Duke's words, 'as mountains, cities, salt mines, and all that kind
of thing. There's such a lot of interest about it.'
'Did you ever see a salt mine?'
'Well;--not exactly a salt mine; but I have coal mines on my
property in Staffordshire. I'm very fond of coal. I hope you like
'I like salt a great deal better--to look at.'
'But which do you think pays best? I don't mind telling you,--
though it's a kind of thing I never talk about to strangers,--the
royalties from the Blogownie and Toodlem mines go up regularly two
thousand pounds every year.'
'I thought we were talking about what was pretty to look at.'
'So we were. I'm as fond of pretty things as anybody. Do you know
'No, I don't. Is he pretty?'
'He used to be so angry with Silverbridge, because Silverbridge
would say Crummie-Toddie was ugly.'
'Was Crummie-Toddie ugly?'
'Just a plain house on a moor.'
'That sound ugly.'
'I suppose your family likes pretty things.'
'I hope so.'
'I do, I know.' Lord Popplecourt endeavoured to look as though he
intended to understand that she was the pretty thing which he most
particularly liked. She partly conceived his meaning, and was
disgusted accordingly. On the other side of her sat Mr Boncassen,
to whom she had been introduced in the drawing-room,--and who had
said a few words to her about some Norwegian poet. She turned
round to him, and asked him some questions about Skald, and so,
getting into conversation with him, managed to turn her shoulder
to her suitor. On the other side of him sat Lady Rosina De Courcy,
to whom, as being an old woman and an old maid, he felt very
little inclined to be courteous. She said a word, asking him
whether he did not think the weather was treacherous. He answered
her very curtly, and sat bolt upright, looking forward on the
table, and taking his dinner as it came to him. He had been put
there in order that Lady Mary Palliser might talk to him, and he
regarded interference on the part of that old American as being
ungentlemanlike. But the old American disregarded him, and went on
with his quotations from the Scandinavian bard. But Mr Boncassen
sat next to Lady Cantrip, and when at last he was called upon to
give his ear to the countess, Lady Mary was again vacant for
Popplecourt's attentions. 'Are you very fond of poetry?' he asked.
'So am I. Which do you like best, Tennyson or Shakespeare?'
'They are very unlike.'
'Yes;--they are unlike. Or Moore's Melodies. I am very fond of
"When in death I shall calm recline". I think this equal to
anything. I think Reginald Dobbes would have it as all bosh.'
'Then I think that Mr Reginald Dobbes must be all bosh himself.'
'There was a man there named Tregear who had brought some books.'
Then there was a pause. Lady Mary had not a word to say. 'Dobbes
used to declare that he was always pretending to read poetry.'
'Mr Tregear never pretends anything.'
'Do you know him?' asked the rival.
'He's my brother's most particular friend.'
'Ah! yes. I dare say Silverbridge has talked to you about him. I
think he's a stuck-up sort of fellow.' To this there was not a
word of reply. 'Where did your brother pick him up?'
'They were at Oxford together.'
'I must say I think he gives himself airs;--because, you know, he's
'I don't know anything of the kind,' said Lady Mary, becoming very
red. 'And as he is my brother's most particular friend,--his very
friend of friends,--I think you had better not abuse him to me.'
'I don't think the Duke is very fond of him.'
'I don't care who is fond of him. I am very fond of Silverbridge,
and I won't hear his friend ill spoken of. I dare say he had some
books with him. He is not at all the sort of man to go to a place
and satisfy himself with doing nothing but killing animals.'
'Do you know him, Lady Mary?'
'I have seen him, and of course I have heard a great deal of him
from Silverbridge. I would rather not talk any more about him.'
'You seem to be very fond of Mr Tregear,' he said angrily.
'It is no business of yours, Lord Popplecourt, whether I am fond
of anybody or not. I have told you that Mr Tregear is my brother's
friend, and that ought to be enough.'
Lord Popplecourt was a young man possessed of a certain amount of
ingenuity. It was said of him that he knew on which side his bread
was buttered, and that if you wished to take him in you must get
up early. After dinner, and during the night he pondered a good
deal on what he had heard. Lady Cantrip had told him there had
been a--dream. What was he to believe about that dream? Had he not
better avoid the error of putting too fine a point upon it, and
tell himself at once that a dream in this instance meant a--lover!
Lady Mary had already been troubled by a lover! He was disposed
to believe that young ladies often do have objectionable lovers,
and that things get themselves right afterwards. Young ladies can
be made to understand the beauty of coal mines almost as readily
as young gentlemen. There would be the two hundred thousand
pounds; and there was the girl, beautiful and well-born, and
thoroughly well-mannered. But what if this Tregear and the dream
were one and the same? If so, had he not received plenty of
evidence that the dream had not yet passed away? A remnant of
affection for the dream would not have been a fatal barrier, had
not the girl been so fierce with him in her defence of her dream.
He remembered too, what the Duke had said about Tregear, and Lady
Cantrip's advice to him to be silent in respect to this man. And
then do girls generally defend their brother's friends as she had
defended Tregear? He thought not. Putting all these things
together on the following morning he came to an uncomfortable
belief that Tregear was the dream.
Soon after that he found himself near to Dolly Longstaff as they
were shooting. 'You know that fellow Tregear, don't you?'
'Oh Lord yes. He is Silverbridge's pal.'
'Did you ever hear anything about him?'
'What sort of thing?'
'Was he ever--in love with anyone?'
'I fancy he used to be awfully spooney on Mab Grex. I remember
hearing that they were to have been married, only that neither of
them had sixpence.'
'Oh--Lady Mabel Grex! That's a horse of another colour.'
'And which is the horse of your colour?'
'I haven't got a horse,' said Popplecourt, going away to his own
Miss Boncassen's Idea of Heaven
It was generally known that Dolly Longstaff had been heavily
smitten by the charms of Miss Boncassen; but the world hardly gave
him credit for the earnestness of his affection. Dolly had never
been known to be in earnest in anything;--but now he was in very
truth in love. He had agreed to be Popplecourt's companion at
Custins because he had heard that Miss Boncassen would be there.
He had thought over the matter with more consideration than he had
ever before given to any subject. He had gone so far as to see his
own man of business, with a view of ascertaining what settlements
he could make and what income he might be able to spend. He had
told himself over and over again that he was not the 'sort of
fellow' that ought to marry; but it was all of no avail. He
confessed to himself that he was completely 'bowled over',--
'knocked off his pins'!
'Is a fellow to have no chance?' he said to Miss Boncassen at
'If I understand what a fellow means, I am afraid not.'
'No man alive was ever more earnest than I am.'
'Well, Mr Longstaff; I do not suppose that you have been trying to
take me in all this time.'
'I hope you do not think ill of me.'
'I may think well of a great many gentlemen without wishing to
'But does love go for nothing?' said Dolly, putting his hand upon
his heart. 'Perhaps there are so many that love you.'
'Not above half-a-dozen or so.'
'You can make a joke of it, when I-. But I don't think, Miss
Boncassen, you at all realise what I feel. As to settlements and
all that, your father could do what he likes with me.'
'My father has nothing to do with it, and I don't know what
settlements mean. We never think anything of settlements in our
country. If two young people love each other they go and get
'Let us do the same here.'
'But the two young people don't love each other. Look here, Mr
Longstaff, it's my opinion that a young woman ought not to be
'You force me to speak in that way. I've given you an answer ever
so many times. I will not be made to do it over and over again.'
'It's that d---- fellow, Silverbridge,' he exclaimed almost angrily.
On hearing this Miss Boncassen left the room without speaking
another word, and Dolly Longstaff found himself alone. He saw what
he had done as soon as she was gone. After that he could hardly
venture to persevere again--here at Custins. He weighed it over in
his mind for a long time, almost coming to a resolution in favour
of hard drink. He had never felt anything like this before. He was
so uncomfortable that he couldn't eat his luncheon, though in
accordance with his usual habit he had breakfasted off soda-and-
brandy and a morsel of devilled toast. He did not know himself in
his changed character. 'I wonder whether she understands that I
have four thousand pounds a year of my own, and shall have twelve
thousand pounds more when my governor goes! She was so headstrong
that it was impossible to explain anything to her.'
'I'm off to London,' he said to Popplecourt that afternoon.
'Nonsense! You said you'd stay for ten days.'
'All the same, I'm going at once. I've sent to Bridport for a
trap, and I shall sleep tonight at Dorchester.'
'What's the meaning of it all?'
'I've had some words with somebody. Don't mind asking any more.'
'Not with the Duke?'
'The Duke? No; I haven't spoken to him.'
'Or Lord Cantrip?'
'I wish you wouldn't ask questions.'
'If you've quarrelled with anybody you ought to consult a friend.'
'It's nothing of that kind.'
'Then it's a lady. It's the American girl!'
'Don't I tell you. I don't want to talk about it? I'm going. I've