Part 3 out of 15
"Aunt Olive has kindly written to tell you exactly why I am here, so that
my letter need only be a supplement to hers. For whatever trouble and
anxiety I may have caused you, forgive me. The thought of it will be a
pang to me as long as I live.
"Since I left you I have been fully informed of circumstances in Major
Colquhoun's past career which make it impossible for me to live with him
as his wife. I find that I consented to marry him under a grave
misapprehension of his true character--that he is not at all a proper
person for a young girl to associate with, and that in point of fact his
mode of life has very much resembled that of one of those old-fashioned
heroes, Roderick Random or Tom Jones, specimens of humanity whom I hold in
peculiar and especial detestation.
"I consider I should be wanting in all right feeling if I held myself
bound to him by vows which I took in my ignorance of his history. But I am
afraid there will be some difficulty about the legal business. Kindly find
out for me what will be the best arrangement to make for our separation,
and tell me also if I ought to write to Major Colquhoun myself. I should
like it better if my father would relieve me of this dreadful necessity.
"Until we have arranged matters, I should prefer to stay here with Aunt
Olive. I am very well, and happier too, than I should have expected to be
after the shock of such a disappointment, though perhaps less so than I
ought in gratitude to be, considering the merciful deliverance I have had
from what would have been the shipwreck of my life.
"Your affectionate daughter,
"Good Heavens! good Heavens!" Mr. Frayling ejaculated several times.
Major Colquhoun had curled his moustache during the reading of the letter,
with the peculiar set expression of countenance he was in the habit of
assuming to mask his emotions.
"What language! what ideas!" Mr. Frayling proceeded. "I have been much
deceived in that unhappy child," and he shook his head at his wife
severely, as if it were her fault.
Major Colquhoun muttered something about having been taken in himself.
After the reading of the letter, Mrs. Frayling's comely plump face looked
drawn and haggard. She could not utter a word at first, and had even
exhausted her stock of tears. All at once, however, she recovered her
voice, and gave sudden utterance to a determination.
"I must go to that child!" she exclaimed. "I must--I must go at once."
"You shall do no such thing," her husband thundered. He had no reason in
the world for opposing the motherly impulse; but it relieves the male of
certain species to roar when he is irritated, and the relief is all the
greater when he finds some sentient creature to roar at, that will shrink
from the noise, and be awed by it.
Mrs. Frayling looked up at him pathetically, then riveted her eyes upon
the tablecloth, and rocked herself to and fro, but answered never a word.
Major Colquhoun, with the surface sympathy of sensual men, who resent
anything that produces a feeling of discomfort in themselves, felt sorry
for her, and relieved the tension by asking what was to be said in reply
to Evadne's letter.
This led to a discussion of the subject, which was summarily ended by Mr.
Frayling, who deputed to his wife the task of answering the letter,
without allowing her any choice in the matter. It was never his way to do
anything disagreeable if he could insist upon her doing it for him.
But Mrs. Frayling was nothing loth upon this occasion.
"Well," she began humbly, "I undertake the task since you wish it, but I
should have thought a word from you would have gone further than anything
I can say. However,"--she ventured to lift a hopeful head,--"I have
certainly always been able to manage Evadne,"--she turned to Major
Colquhoun,--"I can assure you, George, that child has never given me a
moment's anxiety in her life; and,"--she added in a broken voice,--"I
never, never thought that she would live to quote books to her parents."
Mr. Frayling found in his own inclinations a reason for everything. He was
very tired of being shut up in London, and he therefore decided that they
should go back to Fraylingay at once, and suggested that Major Colquhoun
should follow them in a few days if Evadne had not in the meantime come to
her senses. Major Colquhoun agreed to this. He would have hidden himself
anywhere, done anything to keep his world in ignorance of what had
befallen him. Even a man's independence is injured by excesses. As the
tissues waste, the esteem of men is fawned for instead of being honestly
earned, criticism is deprecated, importance is attached to the babbling of
blockheads, and even to the opinion of fools. What should have been
self-respect in Major Colquhoun had degenerated into a devouring vanity,
which rendered him thin-skinned to the slightest aspersion. He had married
Evadne in order to win the credit of having secured an exceptionally young
and attractive wife, and now all he thought of was "what fellows would
say" if they knew of the slight she had put upon him. To conceal this was
the one object of his life at present, the thought that forever absorbed
Mr. Frayling felt that it would be a relief to get away from his
son-in-law: "If the fellow would only speak!" he exclaimed when he was
alone with his wife. "What the deuce he's always thinking about I can't
"He is in great grief," Mrs. Frayling maintained.
As soon as she was settled at Fraylingay she wrote to Evadne:
"MY POOR MISGUIDED CHILD:
"Your whole action since your marriage and your extraordinary resolution
have occasioned your dear father, your poor husband, and myself the very
greatest anxiety and pain. We have grave fears for your sanity. I have
never in my life heard of a young lady acting in such a way. Your poor
husband has been very sweet and good all through this dreadful trial. He
very much fears the ridicule which of course would attach to him if his
brother officers hear what has happened; but so far, I am thankful to say,
no inkling of the true state of the case has leaked out. The servants
talk, of course, but they _know_ nothing. What they suspect, however,
is, I believe, that you have gone out of your mind, and I even ventured to
suggest something of the kind to Jenny, who, after all these years, is
naturally concerned at the sight of my deep distress. I assure you I have
taken nothing since your letter arrived but a little tea. So do, dear
child, end this distressing state of things by returning to your right
state of mind _at once_. You are a legally married woman, and you
must obey the law of the land; but of course your husband would rather not
invoke the law and make a public scandal if he can help it. He does not
wish to force your inclinations in any way, and he therefore generously
gives you more time to consider. In fact he says: 'She must come back of
her own free will.'
[Footnote: What he did say exactly was: "She went of her own accord, and
she must come back of her own accord, or not at all. Just as she likes.
_I_ shall not trouble about her."]
And he is as ready, I am sure, as your father and myself are, to forgive
you freely for all the trouble and anxiety you have caused him, and is
waiting to welcome you to his heart and home with open arms.
"And, Evadne, remember: a woman has it in her power to change even a
reprobate into a worthy man--and I know from the way George talks that he
is far from being a reprobate now. And just think what a work that is! The
angels in heaven rejoice over the sinner that repents, and you have before
you a sphere of action which it should gladden your heart to contemplate.
I don't deny that there _were_ things in George's past life which it
is very sad to think of, but women have always much to bear. It is our
_cross_, and you must take up yours patiently and be sure that you
will have your reward. _Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth_. I wish
now that I had talked to you on the subject before you were married, and
prepared you to meet some forms of wickedness in a proper spirit; you
would not then have been at the mercy of the wicked woman who has caused
all this mischief. She is some clever designing adventuress, I suppose,
and she must have told you dreadful things which you should never have
heard of at your age, and I suspect that jealousy is at the bottom of it
all. She may herself have been cast off in her wickedness for my own sweet
innocent child's sake. When I think of all the happiness she has
destroyed, of these dark days following such bright prospects, I could see
her _whipped_, Evadne, I could indeed. Everything had arranged itself
so beautifully. He is an excellent match. The Irish property, which he
_must_ have, is one of the best in the country, and as there is only
one fragile child between him and the Scotch estates, you might almost
venture to calculate upon becoming mistress of them also. And then, he
certainly is a handsome and attractive man of most charming manners, so
what more do you want? He is a good Churchman too. You know how regularly
he accompanied you to every service. And, _really_ if you will just
think for a _moment_, I am sure you will see yourself that you have
made a terrible mistake, and repent while it is called today. But we do
not blame you entirely, dear. You have surprised and distressed us, but we
all freely forgive you, and if you will come back at once, you need fear
_no_ reproaches, for not another word will _ever_ be said on the
subject.--I am, dear child,
"Ever your loving mother,
"P.S.--Your father is so horrified at your conduct that he declares he
will neither write to you nor speak to you until you return to your duty."
Evadne took a day and a half to consider her mother's letter, and then she
wrote the following reply:
"THE CLOSE, MORNINGQUEST, 9th October.
"MY DEAR MOTHER:
"I answer your postscript first, because I am cut to the quick by my
father's attitude. I was sure that, large-minded and just as I have always
thought him, he would allow that a woman is entitled to her own point of
view in a matter which, to begin with, concerns her own happiness more
than anybody else's, and that if she accepts a fallen angel for a husband,
knowing him to be such, she shows a poor appreciation of her own worth. I
am quite ready to rejoice over any sinner that repents if I may rejoice as
the angels themselves do, that is to say, at a safe distance. I would not
be a stumbling block in the way of any man's reformation. I only maintain
that I am not the right person to undertake such a task, and that if women
are to do it at all, they should be mothers or other experienced persons,
and not young wives.
"I am pained that you should make such a cruel insinuation against the
character and motives of the lady whom I have to bless for my escape from
a detestable position. But even if she had been the kind of character you
describe, do I understand you to mean that it would have been a triumph
for me to have obtained the reversion of her equally culpable associate?
that I ought, in fact, to have gratefully accepted a secondhand sort of
man! You would not counsel a son of yours to marry a society woman of the
same character as Major Colquhoun, and neither more nor less degraded, for
the purpose of reforming her, would you, mother? I know you would not. And
as a woman's soul is every bit as precious as a man's, one sees what cant
this talk of reformation is. It seems to me that such cases as Major
Colquhoun's are for the clergy, who have both experience and authority,
and not for young wives to tackle. And, at any rate, although reforming
reprobates may be a very noble calling, I do not, at nineteen, feel that I
have any vocation for it; and I would respectfully suggest that you,
mother, with your experience, your known piety, and your sweet
disposition, would be a much more suitable person to reform Major
Colquhoun than I should be. His past life seems to inspire you with no
horror; the knowledge of it makes _me_ shrink from him. My husband
must be a Christ-like man. I have very strong convictions, you see, on the
subject of the sanctity and responsibilities of marriage. There are
certain conditions which I hold to be essential on both sides. I hold also
that human beings are sacred and capable of deep desecration, and that
marriage, their closest bond, is sacred too, the holiest relationship in
life, and one which should only be entered upon with the greatest care,
and in the most reverent spirit. I see no reason why marriage should be a
lottery. But evidently Major Colquhoun's views upon the subject differ
widely from mine, and it seems to me utterly impossible that we should
ever be able to accommodate ourselves to each other's principles. Had I
known soon enough that he did not answer to my requirements, I should have
dismissed him at once, and thought no more about him, and all this misery
would never have occurred; but having been kept in ignorance, I consider
that I was inveigled into consenting, that the vow I made was taken under
a grave misapprehension, that therefore there is nothing either holy or
binding in it, and that every law of morality absolves me from fulfilling
my share of the contract. This, of course, is merely considering marriage
from the higher and most moral point of view; but even when I think of it
in the lower and more ordinary way, I find the same conclusion forces
itself upon me. For there certainly is no romance in marrying a man old
already in every emotion, between whom and me the recollection of some
other woman would be forever intruding. My whole soul sickens at the
possibility, and I think that it must have been women old in emotion
themselves who first tolerated the staleness of such lovers.
"I feel that my letter is very inadequate, mother. The thought that I am
forced to pain and oppose you distracts me. But I have tried
conscientiously to show you exactly what my conviction and principles are,
and I do think I have a right to beg that you will at least be tolerant,
however much you may disagree with me.
"Your affectionate daughter,
Mrs. Frayling's reply to this letter arrived by return of post, red hot.
Evadne, glancing at the envelope, frowned to find herself addressed as
"Mrs. Colquhoun." The name had not struck her on her mother's first
communication, which was also the first occasion upon which she had been
so addressed, and it had not occurred to her until now that she would have
to be "Mrs. Colquhoun" from thenceforth, whether she liked it or not. She
felt it to be unjust, distinctly; a gross infringement of the liberty of
the subject, and she opened her mother's letter with rage and rebellion at
her heart, and found the contents anything but soothing to such a state of
mind. It ran as follows:
"YOU MOST UNNATURAL CHILD:
"We shall all be disgraced if this story gets out. So far, the world knows
nothing, and there is time for you to save yourself. I warn you that your
father's anger is extreme. He says he shall be obliged to put you in a
lunatic asylum if you do not give in at once, and consent to live with
your husband. And there is the law, too, which your husband can invoke.
And think of your five sisters. Will anybody marry them after such a
business with you? Their prospects will be simply ruined by your heartless
selfishness. No girl in my young days would have acted so outrageously. It
is not decent. It is positively immodest. I repeat that your father is the
proper person to judge for you. You know nothing of the world, and even if
you did, you are not old enough to think for yourself. You do not imagine
yourself to be a sort of seer, I hope, better informed by intuition than
your parents are by wisdom and knowledge, for that would be a certain sign
of insanity. Your father thinks your opposition is mere conceit, and
certainly no good can come of it. All right minded women have submitted
and suffered patiently, and have had their reward. Think of the mother of
St. Augustin! Her husband returned to her penitent after years of
depravity. 'Every wise woman buildeth her house; but the foolish pluck it
down,' and that is what you are doing. 'A continual dropping on a rainy
day and a contentious woman are alike.' For Heaven's sake, my child, do
not become a contentious woman. See also Prov. viii. If only you had read
your Bible regularly every day, prayed humbly for a contrite heart, and
_obeyed your parents_, as you have always been taught to do, we
should never have had all this dreadful trouble with you; but you show
yourself wanting in respect in every way and in all right and proper
feeling, and really I don't know what to do. I don't indeed. Oh, do
remember that forgiveness is still offered to you, and repent while it is
called to-day. I assure you that your poor husband is even more ready than
your father and myself to forgive and forget.
"I pray for you continually, Evadne, I do indeed. If you have any natural
feeling at all, write and relieve my anxiety at once.
"Your affectionate mother,
Evadne read this letter in the drawing room, and stood for a little
leaning against the window frame looking up at the Close, at the old trees
dishevelled by the recent gale, and at the weather-beaten wall of the
south transept of the cathedral, from which the beautiful spire sprang
upward; but she rendered no account to herself of these marvels of nature
Something in her attitude as she stood there, with one hand resting flat
upon the window frame high above her head and the other hanging down
beside her loosely holding her mother's letter, attracted Mrs. Orton Beg's
attention, and made her wonder what thought her niece was so intent upon.
Not one of the thoughts of youth, which are "long, long thoughts,"
apparently, for the expression of her countenance was not far away, and
neither was it sad nor angry, but only intent. Presently, she turned from
the window, languidly strolled to the writing table, re-read her letter,
and began to write without moving a muscle of her face. As she proceeded,
however, she compressed her lips and bent her brows portentously, and Mrs.
Orton Beg was sure that she heard no note of the mellow chime which
sounded once while she was so engaged, and seemed to her aunt to plead
with her solemnly to cast her care on the great Power watching, and
continue passively in the old worn grooves, as Mrs. Orton Beg herself had
Evadne began abruptly:
"THE CLOSE, MORNINGQUEST, 13th October.
"You say that no girl in your young days would have behaved so
outrageously as I am doing. I wish you had said 'so decidedly,' instead of
'outrageously,' for I am sure that any resistance to the old iniquitous
state of things is a quite hopeful sign of coming change for the better.
We are a long way from the days when it was considered right and becoming
for women in our position to sit in their 'parlours,' do Berlin woolwork,
and say nothing. We should call that conniving now. But, happily, women
are no longer content to be part of the livestock about the place; they
have acquired the right of reason and judgment in matters concerning
themselves in particular, and the welfare of the world at large. Public
opinion now is composed of what _we_ think, to a very great extent.
You remind me of what other women have done, and how patiently they have
submitted. I have found the same thing said over and over again in the
course of my reading, but I have not yet found any particular mention made
of the great good which would naturally have come of all the submission
which has been going on for so many centuries, if submission on our part
is truly an effectual means of checking sin. On the contrary. St. Monica
doubtless made things pleasanter for her own husband by rewarding him with
forgiveness, a happy home, and good nursing, when he returned to her
exhausted by vice, but at the same time she set a most pernicious example.
So long as men believe that women will forgive anything they will do
anything. Do you see what I mean? The mistake from the beginning has been
that women have practised self-sacrifice, when they should have been
teaching men self-control. You say that I do not know the world, but my
father does, and that, therefore, I must let him judge for me. He probably
does know the world, but he quite evidently does not know me. Our point of
view, you see, is necessarily very different. I have no doubt that Major
Colquhoun is agreeable in the temporary good fellowship of the smoking
room, and he is agreeable in the drawing room also, but society and his
own interests require him to be so; it is a trick of manner, merely, which
may conceal the most objectionable mind. Character is what we have most to
consider in the choosing of a partner for life, and how are we to consider
it except by actions, such as a man's misdeeds, which are specially the
outcome of his own individuality, and are calculated in their consequences
to do more injury to his family than could be compensated for by the most
charming manners in the world.
"Of course I deprecate my father's anger, but I must again repeat I do not
consider that I deserve it.
"The lunatic asylum is a nonsensical threat, and the law I am inclined to
invoke myself for the purpose of ventilating the question. Do I understand
that Major Colquhoun presumes to send _me_ messages of forgiveness?
What has _he_ to forgive, may I ask? Surely _I_ am the person
who has been imposed upon. Do not, I beg, allow him to repeat such an
"But, mother, why do you persistently ignore my reason for refusing to
live with Major Colquhoun? Summed up it comes to this really, and I give
it now vulgarly, baldly, boldly, and once for all. _Major Colquhoun is
not good enough, and I won't have him_. That is plain, I am sure, and I
must beg you to accept it as my final decision. The tone of our
correspondence is becoming undignified on both sides, and the
correspondence itself must end here. I shall not write another word on the
subject, and I only wish you had not compelled me to write so much.
Forgive me, mother, do, for being myself--I don't know how else to put it;
but I know that none of the others could do as I have done, and yet I
cannot help it. I cannot act otherwise and preserve my honesty and
self-respect. It is conscience, and not caprice, that I am obeying; I wish
I could make you realize that. But, at all events, don't write me any more
hard words, mother. They burn into my memory and obliterate the loving
thoughts I have of you. It is terrible to be met with bitterness and
reproach, where hitherto one has known nothing but kindness and
indulgence, so, I do entreat you, mother, once more to forgive me for
being myself, and above everything, to say nothing which will destroy my
affection for you.
"Believe me, I always have been, and hope always to be,
"Your most loving child,
The last lines were crowded into the smallest possible space, and there
had hardly been room enough for her name at the end. She glanced at the
clock as she folded the letter, and finding that there was only just time
to catch the post she rang for a servant and told her to take it at once.
Then she took her old stand in the window, and watched the girl hurrying
up the Close, holding the white letter carelessly, and waving it to and
fro on a level with her shoulder as she went.
"I wish I had had time to re-write it," Evadne thought; "shall I call her
back? No. Anything will be better for mother than another day's suspense.
But I think I might have expressed myself better. I don't know, though."
She turned from the window, and met her aunt's kind eyes fixed upon her.
"You are flushed, Evadne," the latter said. "Were you writing home?"
"Yes, auntie," Evadne answered wearily.
"You are looking more worried than I have seen you yet."
"I _am_ worried, auntie, and I lost my temper. I could not help it,
and I am dissatisfied. I know I have said too much, and I have said the
same thing over and over again, and gone round and round the subject, too,
and altogether I am disheartened."
"I cannot imagine you saying too much about anything, Evadne," Mrs. Orton
Beg commented, smiling.
"When I am speaking, you mean. But that is different. I am always afraid
to speak, but I dare write anything. The subject is closed now, however. I
shall write no more." She advanced listlessly, and leaned against the
mantelpiece close beside the couch on which her aunt was lying.
"Have you ever felt compelled to say something which all the time you hate
to say, and afterward hate yourself for having said? That is what I always
seem to be doing now." She looked up at the cathedral as she spoke. "How I
envy you your power to say exactly what you mean," she added.
"Who told you I always say exactly what I mean?" her aunt asked, smiling.
"Well, exactly what you ought to say, then," Evadne answered, responding
to the smile.
Mrs. Orton Beg sighed and resumed her knitting. She was making some sort
of wrap out of soft white wool, and Evadne noticed the glint of her rings
as she worked, and also the delicacy of her slender white hands as she
held them up in the somewhat tiring attitude which her position on the
"How patient you are, auntie," Evadne said, and then she bent down and
kissed her forehead and cheeks.
"It is easy to be patient when one's greatest trial is only the waiting
for a happy certainty," Mrs. Orton Beg answered. "But you will be patient
too, Evadne, sooner or later. You are at the passionate age now, but the
patient one will come all in good time."
"You have always a word of comfort," Evadne said.
"There is one word more I would say, although I do not wish to influence
you," Mrs. Orton Beg began hesitatingly.
"You mean _submit_" Evadne answered, and shook her head. "No, that
word is of no use to me. Mine is _rebel_. It seems to me that those
who dare to rebel in every age are they who make life possible for those
whom temperament compels to submit. It is the rebels who extend the
boundary of right little by little, narrowing the confines of wrong, and
crowding it out of existence."
She stood for a moment looking down on the ground with bent brows,
thinking deeply, and then she slowly sauntered from the room, and
presently passed the south window with her hat in her hand, took one turn
round the garden, and then subsided into the high-backed chair, on which
she had sat and fed her fancy with dreams of love a few weeks before her
marriage. The day was one of those balmy mild ones which come occasionally
in mid-October. The sheltered garden had suffered little in the recent
gale. From where Mrs. Orton Beg reclined there was no visible change in
the background of single dahlias, sunflowers, and the old brick wall
curtained with creepers, nor was there any great difference apparent in
the girl herself. The delicate shell-pink of passion had faded to milky
white, her eyes were heavy, and her attitude somewhat fatigued, but that
was all; a dance the night before, would have left her so exactly, and
Mrs. Orton Beg, watching her, wondered at the small effect of "blighted
affection" as she saw it in Evadne, compared with the terrible
consequences which popular superstition attributes to "a disappointment."
Evadne had certainly suffered, but more because her parents, in whom she
had always had perfect confidence, and whom she had known and loved as
long as she could remember anything, had failed her, than because she had
been obliged to cast a man out of her life who had merely lighted it for a
few months with a flame which she recognized now as lurid at the best, and
uncertain, and which she would never have desired to keep burning
continually with that feverish glare to the extinguishing of every other
interesting object. She would have been happiest when passion ended and
love began, as it does in happy marriages.
And she was herself comparing the two states of mind as she sat there. She
was conscious of a blank now, dull and dispiriting enough, but no more
likely to endure than the absorbing passion it succeeded. She knew it for
an interregnum, and was thinking of the books she would send for when she
had mastered herself sufficiently to be interested in books again. It was
as if her mind had been out of health, but was convalescent now and
recovering its strength; and she was as well aware of the fact as if she
had been suffering from some physical ailment which had interrupted her
ordinary pursuits, and was making plans for the time when she should be
able to resume them.
While so engaged, however, she fell asleep, as convalescents do, and Mrs.
Orton Beg smiled at the consummation. It was not romantic, but it was
At the same time, she heard the hall door opened from without as by one
who had a right to enter familiarly, and a man's step in the hall.
"Come in," she said, in answer to a firm tap at the door, and smiled,
looking over her shoulder as it opened.
It was Dr. Galbraith on his way back through Morningquest to his own
place, Fountain Towers.
"I am so glad to see you," said Mrs. Orton Beg as he took her hand.
"I am on my way back from the Castle," he rejoined, sitting down beside
her; "and I have just come in for a moment to see how the ankle
"Quicker now, I am thankful to say," she answered. "I can get about the
house comfortably if I rest in between times. But is there anything wrong
at the Castle?"
"The same old thing," said Dr. Galbraith, with a twinkle in his bright
gray eyes. "The Duke has been seeing visions--determination of blood to
the head; and Lady Fulda has been dreaming dreams--fatigue and fasting.
Food and rest for her--she will be undisturbed by dreams to-night; and a
severe course of dieting for him."
Mrs. Orton Beg smiled. "Really life is becoming too prosaic," she said,
"since you dreadfully clever people began to discover a reason for
everything. Lady Fulda's beauty and goodness would have been enough to
convince any man at one time that she is a saint indeed, and privileged to
heal the sick and converse with angels; but you are untouched by either."
"On the contrary," he answered, "I never see her or think of her without
acknowledging to myself that she is one of the loveliest and most angelic
women in the world. And she has the true magnetic touch of a nurse too.
There is healing in it. I have seen it again and again. But that is a
natural process. Many quite wicked doctors are endowed in the same way,
and even more strongly than she is. There can be no doubt about that--" He
broke off with a little gesture and smiled genially.
"But anything _beyond_!" Mrs. Orton Beg supplemented; "anything
supernatural, in fact, you ridicule."
"One cannot ridicule _anything_ with which Lady Fulda's name is
associated," he answered. "But tell me," he exclaimed, catching sight of
Evadne placidly sleeping in the high-backed chair, with her hat in her
hand held up so as to conceal the lower part of her face; "Are visions
about? _Is_ that one that I see there before me? If I were Faust, I
should love such a Marguerite. I wish she would let her hat drop. I want
to see the lower part of her face. The upper part satisfies me. It is
fine. The balance of brow and frontal development are perfect."
Mrs. Orton Beg coloured with a momentary annoyance. She had forgotten that
Evadne was there, but Dr. Galbraith had entered so abruptly that there
would have been no time to warn her away in any case.
"No vision," she began--"or if a vision, one of the nineteenth century
sort, tangible, and of satisfying continuance. She is a niece of mine, and
I warn you in case you have a momentary desire to forsake your books and
become young in mind again for her sake that she is a very long way after
Marguerite, whom I think she would consider to have been a very weak and
foolish person. I can imagine her saying about Faust: 'Fancy sacrificing
one's self for the transient pleasure of a moonlight meeting or two with a
man, and a few jewels however unique, when one can _live_!' in
italics and with a note of admiration. 'Why, I can put my elbow here on
the arm of my chair and my head on my hand, and in a moment I perceive
delights past, present, and to come, of equal intensity, more certain
quality, and longer continuance than passion. I perceive the gradual
growth of knowledge through all the ages, the clouds of ignorance and
superstition slowly parting, breaking up, and rolling away, to let the
light of science shine--science being truth. And there is all art, and all
natural beauty from the beginning--everything that lasts and _is_
life. Why, even to think on such subjects warms my whole being with a glow
of enthusiasm which is in itself a more exquisite pleasure than passion,
and not alloyed like the latter with uncertainty, that terrible ache. I
might take my walk in the garden with my own particular Faust like any
other girl, and as I take my glass of champagne at dinner, for its
pleasurably stimulating quality, but I hope I should do both in
moderation. And as to making Faust my all, or even giving him so large a
share of my attention as to limit my capacity for other forms of
enjoyment, absurd! We are long past the time when there was only one
incident of interest in a woman's life, and that was its love affair!
There was no sense of proportion in those days!'"
"Is that how you interpret her?" he said. "One who holds herself well in
hand, bent upon enjoying every moment of her life and all the variety of
it, perceiving that it is stupid to narrow it down to the indulgence of
one particular set of emotions, and determined not to swamp every faculty
by constant cultivation of the animal instincts to which all ages have
created altars! Best for herself, I suppose, but hardly possible at
present. The capacity, you know, is only coming. Women have been cramped
into a small space so long that they cannot expand all at once when they
_are_ let out; there must be a great deal of stretching and growing,
and when they are not on their guard, they will often find themselves
falling into the old attitude, as newborn babes are apt to resume the
ante-natal position. She will have the perception, the inclination; but
the power--unless she is exceptional, the power will only be for her
"Then she must suffer and do no good?"
"She must suffer, yes; but I don't know about the rest. She may be a
seventh wave, you know!"
"What is a seventh wave?"
"It is a superstition of the fisher-folks. They say that when the tide is
coming in it pauses always, and remains stationary between every seventh
wave, waiting for the next, and unable to rise any higher till it comes to
carry it on; and it has always seemed to me that the tide of human
progress is raised at intervals to higher levels at a bound in some such
way. The seventh waves of humanity are men and women who, by the impulse
of some one action which comes naturally to them but is new to the race,
gather strength to come up to the last halting place of the tide, and to
carry it on with them ever so far beyond." He stopped abruptly, and
brushed his hand over his forehead. "Now that I have said that," he added,
"it seems as old as the cathedral there, and as familiar, yet the moment
before I spoke it appeared to have only just occurred to me. If it is an
ill-digested reminiscence and you come across the original in some book, I
am afraid you will lose your faith in me forever; but I pray you of your
charity make due allowance. I must go."
"Oh, no, not yet a moment!" Mrs. Orton Beg exclaimed. "I want to ask you:
How are Lady Adeline and the twins?"
"I haven't seen Lady Adeline for a month," he answered, rising to go as he
spoke. "But Dawne tells me that the twins are as awful as ever. It is a
question of education now, and it seems that the twins have their own
ideas on the subject, and are teaching their parents. But take care of
your girlie out there," he added, his strong face softening as he took a
last look at her. "Her body is not so robust as her brain, I should say,
and it is late in the year to be sitting out of doors."
"Tell me, Dr. Galbraith," Mrs. Orton Beg began, detaining him, "you are a
Scotchman, you should have the second sight; tell me the fate of my girlie
out there. I am anxious about her."
"She will marry," he answered in his deliberate way, humouring her, "but
not have many children, and her husband's name should be George."
"Oh, most oracular! a very oracle! a Delphic oracle, only to be
interpreted by the event!"
"Just so!" he answered from the door, and then he was gone.
"Evadne, come in!" Mrs. Orton Beg called. "It is getting damp." Evadne
roused herself and entered at once by the window.
"I have been hearing voices through my dim dreaming consciousness," she
said. "Have you had a visitor?"
"Only the doctor," her aunt replied. "By the way, Evadne," she added,
"what is Major Colquhoun's Christian name?"
"George," Evadne answered, surprised. "Why, auntie?"
"Nothing; I wanted to know."
When breakfast was over at Fraylingay next morning, and the young people
had left the table, Mrs. Frayling helped herself to another cup of coffee,
and solemnly opened Evadne's last letter. The coffee was cold, for the
poor lady had been waiting, not daring to take the last cup herself,
because she knew that the moment she did so her husband would want more.
The emptying of the urn was the signal which usually called up his
appetite for another cup. He might refuse several times, and even leave
the table amiably, so long as there was any left; but the knowledge or
suspicion that there was none, set up a sense of injury, unmistakably
expressed in his countenance, and not to be satisfied by having more made
immediately, although he invariably ordered it just to mark his
displeasure. He would get up and ring for it emphatically, and would even
sit with it before him for some time after it came, but would finally go
out without touching it, and be, as poor Mrs. Frayling mentally expressed
it: "Oh, dear! quite upset for the rest of the day."
On this occasion, however, the pleasure of a wholly new grievance left no
space in his fickle mind for the old-worn item of irritation, and he never
even noticed that the coffee was done. "Dear George" sat beside Mrs.
Frayling. She kept him there in order to be able to bestow a stray pat on
his hand, or make him some other sign of that maternal tenderness of which
she considered the poor dear fellow stood so much in need.
Mr. Frayling sat at the end of the table reading a local paper with one
eye, as it were, and watching his wife for her news with the other. A
severely critical expression sat singularly ill upon his broad face, which
was like a baked apple, puffy, and wrinkled, and red, and there was about
him a queerly pursed-up air of settled opposition to everything which did
duty for both the real and spurious object of his attention.
Mrs. Frayling read the letter through to herself, and then she put it down
on the table and raised her handkerchief to her eyes with a heavy sigh.
"Well, what does she say now," Mr. Frayling exclaimed, throwing down the
local paper and giving way to his impatience openly.
"Dear George" was perfectly cool.
"She says," Mrs. Frayling enjoined between two sniffs, "that Major
Colquhoun isn't good enough, and she won't have him."
"Well, I understand that, at all events, better than anything else she has
said," Major Colquhoun observed, almost as if a weight had been removed
from his mind. "And I am quite inclined to come to terms with her, for I
don't care much myself for a young lady who gets into hysterics about
things that other women think nothing of."
"Oh, _don't_ say think _nothing_ of, George," Mrs. Frayling
deprecated. "We lament and deplore, but we forgive and endure."
"It comes to the same thing," said Major Colquhoun.
A big dog which sat beside him, with its head on his knee, thumped his
tail upon the ground here and whined sympathetically; and he laid one hand
caressingly upon his head, while he twirled his big blond moustache with
the other. He was fond of children and animals, and all creatures that
fawned upon him and were not able to argue if they disagreed with him, or
resent it if he kicked them, actually or metaphorically speaking; not that
he was much given to that kind of thing. He was agreeable naturally as all
pleasure-loving people are; only when he did lose his temper that was the
way he showed it. He would cut a woman to the quick with a word, and knock
a man down; but both ebullitions were momentary as a rule. It was really
too much trouble to cherish anger.
And just then he was thinking quite as much about his moustache as about
his wife. It had once been the pride of his life, but had come to be the
cause of some misgivings; for "heavy moustaches" had gone out of fashion
in polite society.
Mr. Frayling followed up the last remark. "This is very hard on you,
Colquhoun, very hard," he declared, pushing his plate away from him; "and
I may say that it is very hard on me too. But it just shows you what would
come of the Higher Education of Women! Why, they'd raise some absurd
standard of excellence, and want to import angels from Eden if we didn't
come up to it."
Major Colquhoun looked depressed.
"Yes," Mrs, Frayling protested, shaking her head. "She says her husband
must be a Christlike man. She says men have agreed to accept Christ as an
example of what a man should be, and asserts that therefore they must feel
in themselves that they _could_ live up to his standard if they
"There now!" Mr, Frayling exclaimed triumphantly. "That is just what I
said. A Christlike man, indeed! What absurdity will women want next? I
don't know what to advise, Colquhoun. I really don't."
"Can't you _order_ her?" Mrs. Frayling suggested.
"Order her! How can _I_ order her? She belongs to Major Colquhoun
now," he retorted irritably, but with a fine conservative regard for the
rights of property.
"And this is the way she keeps her vow of obedience," Major Colquhoun
"Oh, but you see--the poor misguided child considers that she made the vow
under a misapprehension," Mrs. Frayling explained, her maternal instinct
acting on the defensive when her offspring's integrity was attacked, and
making the position clear to her. "Don't you think, dear,"--to her
husband--"that if you asked the bishop, he would talk to her."
"The bishop!" Mr. Frayling ejaculated with infinite scorn. "_I_ know
what women are when they go off like this. Once they set up opinions of
their own, there's _no_ talking to them. Why, haven't they gone to
the stake for their opinions? She wouldn't obey the whole bench of bishops
in her present frame of mind; and, if they condescended to talk to her,
they would only confirm her belief in her own powers. She would glory to
find herself opposing what she calls her opinions to theirs."
"Oh, the child is mad!" Mrs. Frayling wailed. "I've said it all along.
She's quite mad."
"Is there any insanity in the family?" Major Colquhoun asked, looking up
"None, none whatever," Mr. Frayling hastened to assure him. "There has
never been a case. In fact, the women on both sides have always been
celebrated for good sense and exceptional abilities--_for_ women, of
course; and several of the men have distinguished themselves, as you
"That does not alter _my_ opinion in the least!" Mrs Frayling put in.
"Evadne must be mad."
"She's worse, I think," Major Colquhoun exclaimed in a tone of deep
disgust. "She's worse than mad. She's clever. You can do something with a
mad woman; you can lock her up; but a clever woman's the devil. And I'd
never have thought it of her," he added regretfully. "Such a nice quiet
little thing as she seemed, with hardly a word to say for herself. You
wouldn't have imagined that she knew what 'views' are, let alone having
any of her own. But that is just the way with women. There's no being up
"That is true," said Mr. Frayling.
"Well, I don't know where she got them," Mrs. Frayling protested, "for
I am sure _I_ haven't any. But she seems to know so much about--
_everything_!" she declared, glancing at, the letter. "At _her_ age I
"I can vouch for that!" her husband exclaimed. He was one of those men who
oppose the education of women might and main, and then jeer at them for
knowing nothing. He was very particular about the human race when it was
likely to suffer by an injurious indulgence on the part of women, but when
it was a question of extra port wine for himself, he never considered the
tortures of gout he might be entailing upon his own hapless descendants.
However, there was an excuse for him on this occasion, for it is not every
day that an irritated man has an opportunity of railing at his wife's
incapacity and the inconvenient intelligence of his daughter both in one
breath. "But how has Evadne obtained all this mischievous information? I
cannot think how she could have obtained it!" he ejaculated, knitting his
brows at his wife in a suspicious way, as he always did when this
importunate thought recurred to him. In such ordinary everyday matters as
the management of his estate, and his other duties as a county gentleman,
and also in solid comprehension of the political situation of the period,
he was by no means wanting; but his mind simply circled round and round
this business of Evadne's like a helpless swimmer in a whirlpool, able to
keep afloat, but with nothing to take hold of. The risk of sending the
mind of an elderly gentleman of settled prejudices spinning "down the
ringing grooves of change" at such a rate is considerable.
During the day he wandered up to the rooms which had been Evadne's. They
were kept very much as she was accustomed to have them, but there was that
something of bareness about them, and a kind of spick-and-spanness
conveying a sense of emptiness and desertion which strikes cold to the
heart when it comes of the absence of someone dear. And Mr. Frayling felt
the discomfort of it. The afternoon sunlight slanted across the little
sitting room, falling on the backs of a row of well-worn books, and
showing the scars of use and abuse on them. Without deliberate intention,
Mr. Frayling followed the ray, and read the bald titles by its
uncompromising clearness--histology, pathology, anatomy, physiology,
prophylactics, therapeutics, botany, natural history, ancient and
outspoken history, not to mention the modern writers and the various
philosophies. Mr. Frayling took out a work on sociology, opened it, read a
few passages which Evadne had marked, and solemnly ejaculated, "Good
Heavens!" several times. He could not have been more horrified had the
books been "Mademoiselle de Maupin," "Nana," "La Terre," "Madame Bovary,"
and "Sapho"; yet, had women been taught to read the former and reflect
upon them, our sacred humanity might have been saved sooner from the depth
of degradation depicted in the latter.
The discovery of these books was an adding of alkali to the acid of Mr.
Frayling's disposition at the moment, and he went down to look for his
wife while he was still effervescing. How did Evadne get them? he wanted
to know. Mrs. Frayling could not conceive. She had forgotten all about
Evadne's discovery of the box of books in the attic, and the sort of
general consent she had given when Evadne worried her for permission to
"She must be a most deceitful girl. I shall go and talk to her myself,"
Mr. Frayling concluded.
And doubtless, if only he had had a pair of wings to spread, he would
presently have appeared sailing over the cathedral into the Close at
Morningquest, a portly bird, in a frock coat, tall hat, and a very bad
But, poor gentleman! he really was an object for compassion. All his ideas
of propriety and the natural social order of the universe were being
outraged, and by his favourite daughter too, the one whom everybody
thought so like him. And in truth, she was like him, especially in the
matter of sticking to her own opinion; just the very thing he had no
patience with, for he detested obstinate people. He said so himself. He
did not go, however. Having preparations to make and a train to wait for,
gave him time to reflect, and, perceiving that the interview must
inevitably be of a most disagreeable nature, he decided to send his wife
next day to reason with her daughter.
Mrs. Frayling came upon Evadne unawares, and the shock it gave the girl to
see her mother all miserably agitated and worn with worry, was a more
powerful point in favour of the success of the latter's mission than any
argument would have been.
The poor lady was handsomely dressed, and of a large presence calculated
to inspire awe in inferiors unaccustomed to it. She was a well-preserved
woman, with even teeth, thick brown hair, scarcely tinged with gray, and a
beautiful soft transparent pink and white complexion, and Evadne had
always seen her in a state of placid content, never really interrupted
except by such surface squalls as were caused by having to scold the
children, or the shedding of a few sunshiny tears; and had thought her
lovely. But when she entered now, and had given her daughter the corner of
her cheek to kiss for form's sake, she sat down with quivering lips and
watery eyes all red with crying, and a broken-up aspect generally which
cut the girl to the quick.
"Oh, mother!" Evadne cried, kneeling down on the floor beside her, and
putting her arms about her. "It grieves me deeply to see you so
But Mrs. Frayling held herself stiffly, refusing to be embraced, and
presenting a surface for the operation as unyielding as the figurehead of
"If you are sincere," she said severely, "you will give up this nonsense
Evadne's arms dropped, and she rose to her feet, and stood, with fingers
interlaced in front of her, looking down at her mother for a moment, and
then up at the cathedral. Her talent for silence came in naturally here.
"You don't say anything, because you know there is nothing to be said for
you," Mrs. Frayling began. "You've broken my heart, Evadne, indeed you
have. And after everything had gone off so well too. What a tragedy! How
could you forget? And on the very day itself! Your wedding day, just
think! Why, we keep ours every year. And all your beautiful presents, and
such a trousseau! I am sure no girl was ever more kindly considered by
father, mother, friends--everybody!"
She was obliged to stop short for a moment. Ideas, by which she was not
much troubled as a rule, had suddenly crowded in so thick upon her when
she began to speak, that she became bewildered, and in an honest attempt
to make the most of them all, only succeeded in laying hold of an end of
each, to the great let and hindrance of all coherency as she herself felt
when she pulled up.
"Yes, you may well look up at the cathedral," she began again,
unreasonably provoked by Evadne's attitude. "But what good does it do you?
I should have supposed that the hallowed associations of this place would
have restored you to a better frame of mind."
"I do feel the force of association strongly," Evadne answered; "and that
is why I shrink from Major Colquhoun. People have their associations as
well as places, and those that cling about him are anything but hallowed."
Mrs, Frayling assumed an aspect of the deepest depression: "I never heard
a girl talk so in my life," she said. "It is positively indelicate. It
really is. But _we_ have done all we could. Now, honestly, have you
anything to complain of?"
"Nothing, mother, nothing," Evadne exclaimed. "Oh, I wish I could make you
"Understand! What is there to understand? It is easy enough to understand
that you have behaved outrageously. And written letters you ought to be
ashamed of. Quoting Scripture too, for your own purposes. I cannot think
that you are in your right mind, Evadne, I really cannot. No girl ever
acted so before. If only you would read your Bible properly, and say your
prayers, you would see for yourself and repent. Besides, what is to become
of you? We can't have you at home again, you know. How we are any of us to
appear in the neighbourhood if the story gets about--and of course it must
get about if you persist--I cannot think. And everybody said, too, how
sweet you looked on your wedding day, Evadne; but I said, when those
children changed clothes, it was unnatural, and would bring bad luck; and
there was a terrible gale blowing too, and it rained. Everything went so
well up to the very day itself; but, since then, for no reason at all but
your own wicked obstinacy, all has gone wrong. You ought to have been
coming back from your honeymoon soon now, and here you are in hiding--yes,
literally _in hiding like a criminal_, ashamed to be seen. It mast be
a terrible trial for my poor sister, Olive, and a great imposition on her
good nature, having you here. You consider no one. And I might have been a
grandmother in time too, although I don't so much mind about that, for I
don't think it is any blessing to a military man to have a family. They
have to move about so much. But, however, all that it seems is over. And
your poor sisters--five of them--are curious to know what George is doing
all this time at Fraylingay, and asking questions. You cannot have
imagined _my_ difficulties, or you never would have been so selfish
and unnatural. I had to box Barbara's ears the other day, I had indeed,
and who will marry them now, I should like to know? If only you had turned
Roman Catholic and gone into a convent, or died, or never been born--oh,
dear! oh, dear!"
Evadne looked down at her mother again. She was very white, but she did
not utter a word.
"Why don't you speak?" Mrs. Frayling exclaimed. "Why do you stand there
like a stone or statue, deaf to all my arguments?"
Evadne sighed: "Mother, I will do anything you suggest except the one
thing. I will not live with Major Colquhoun as his wife," she said.
"I thought so!" Mrs. Frayling exclaimed. "You will do everything but what
you ought to do. It is just what your father says. Once you over-educate a
girl, you can do nothing with her, she gives herself such airs; and you
have managed to over-educate yourself somehow, although _how_ remains
a mystery. But one thing I am determined upon. Your poor sisters shall
never have a book I don't know off by heart myself. I shall lock them all
up. Not that it is much use, for no one will marry them now. No man will
ever come to the house again to be robbed of his character, as Major
Colquhoun has been by you. I am sure no one ever knew anything bad about
him--at least _I_ never did, whatever your father may have
done--until you went and ferreted all those dreadful stories out. You are
shameless, Evadne, you really are. And what good have you done by it all,
I should like to know? When you might have done so much, too."
Mrs. Frayling paused here, and Evadne looked up at the cathedral again,
feeling for her pitifully. This new view of her mother was another
terrible disillusion, and the more the poor lady exposed herself, the
greater Evadne felt was the claim she had upon her filial tenderness.
"Why don't you say something?" Mrs. Frayling recommenced.
"Mother, what _can_ I say?"
"If you knew what a time I have had with your father and your husband, you
would pity me. I can assure you George has been so sullen there was no
doing anything with him, and the trouble I have had, and the excuses I
have made for you, I am quite worn out. He said if you were that kind of
girl yon might go, and I've had to go down on my knees to him almost to
make him forgive you. And now I will go down on my knees to you"--she
exclaimed, acting on a veritable inspiration, and suiting the action to
the word--"to beg you for the sake of your sisters, and for the love of
God, not to disgrace us all!"
"Oh, mother--no! Don't do that. Get up--do get up! This is too dreadful!"
Evadne cried, almost hysterically.
"Here I shall kneel until you give in," Mrs. Frayling sobbed, clasping her
hands in the attitude of prayer to her daughter, and conscious of the
strength of her position.
Evadne tried in vain to raise her. Her bonnet had slipped to one side, her
dress had been caught up by the heels of her boots, and the soles were
showing behind; her mantle was disarranged; she was a figure for a farce;
but Evadne saw only her own mother, shaken with sobs, on her knees before
"Mother--mother," she cried, sinking into a chair, and covering her face
with her hands to hide the dreadful spectacle: "Tell me what I am to do!
"If you would even consent," Mrs. Frayling began, gathering herself up
slowly, and standing over her daughter; "if you would even consent to live
in the same house with him until you get used to him and forget all this
nonsense, I am sure he would agree. For he is _dreadfully_ afraid of
scandal, Evadne. I never knew a man more so. In fact, he shows nothing but
right and proper feeling, and you will love him as much as ever again when
you know him better, and get over all these exaggerated ideas. _Do_
consent to this, dear child, for my sake. You shall have your own way in
everything else. And I will arrange it all for you, and get his written
promise to allow you to live in his house quite independently, like
brother and sister, as long as you like, and there will be no awkwardness
for you whatever. Do, my child, do consent to this," and the poor old lady
knelt once more, and put her arms about her daughter, and wept aloud.
Evadne broke down. The sight of the dear face so distorted, the poor lips
quivering, the kind eyes all swollen and blurred with tears was too much
for her, and she flung her arms round her mother's neck and cried: "I
consent, mother, for your sake--to keep up appearances; but only that,
mother, you promise me. You will arrange all that?"
"I promise you, my dear, I promise," Mrs. Frayling rejoined, rising with
alacrity, her countenance clearing on the instant, her heart swelling with
the joy and pride of a great victory. She knew she had done what the whole
bench of bishops could not have done--nor that most remarkable man, her
husband, either, for the matter of that, and she enjoyed her triumph.
As she had anticipated, Major Colquhoun made no difficulty about the
"I should not care a rap for an unwilling wife," he said. "Let her go
_her_ way, and I'll go mine. All I want now is to keep up
appearances. It would be a deuced nasty thing for me if the story got
about. Fellows would think there was more in it than there is."
"But she will come round," said Mrs. Frayling. "If only you are nice to
her, and I am sure you will be, she is sure to come round."
"Oh, of course she will," Mr. Frayling decided.
And Major Colquhoun smiled complacently. He often asserted that there was
no knowing women; but he took credit to himself for a superior knowledge
of the sex all the same.
Before writing the promise which Evadne required, Major Colquhoun begged
to be allowed to have an interview with her, and to this also she
consented at her mother's earnest solicitation, although the idea of it
went very much against the grain. She perceived, however, that the first
meeting must be awkward in any case, and she was one of those energetic
people who, when there is a disagreeable thing to be done, do it, and get
it over at once. So she strengthened her mind by adding a touch of
severity to her costume, and sat herself down in the drawing room with a
book on her lap when the morning came, well nerved for the interview. Her
heart began to beat unpleasantly when he rang, and she heard him in the
hall, doubtless inquiring for her. At the sound of his voice she arose
from her seat involuntarily, and stood, literally awaiting in fear and
trembling the dreadful moment of meeting.
"What a horrible sensation!" she ejaculated mentally.
"Colonel Colquhoun," the servant announced.
He entered with an air of displeasure he could not conceal, and bowed to
her from a distance stiffly; but, although she looked hard at him, she
could not see him, so great was her trepidation. It was she, however, who
was the first to speak.
"I--I'm nervous," she gasped, clasping her hands and holding them out to
Colonel Colquhoun relaxed. It flattered his vanity to perceive that this
curiously well-informed and exceedingly strong-minded young lady became as
weakly emotional as any ordinary school girl the moment she found herself
face to face with him. "There is nothing to be afraid of," he blandly
"Will you--sit down," Evadne managed to mumble, dropping into her own
chair again from sheer inability to stand any longer.
Colonel Colquhoun took a seat at an exaggerated distance from her. His
idea was to impress her with a sense of his extreme delicacy, but the act
had a contrary effect upon her. His manners had been perfect so far as she
had hitherto seen them, but thus to emphasize an already sufficiently
awkward position was not good taste, and she registered the fact against
After they were seated, there was a painful pause. Evadne knit her brows
and cast about in her mind for something to say. Suddenly the fact that
the maid had announced him as "Colonel" Colquhoun recurred to her.
"Have you been promoted?" she asked very naturally.
"Yes," he answered.
"I congratulate you," she faltered.
Again he bowed stiffly.
But Evadne was recovering herself. She could look at him now, and it
surprised her to find that he was not in appearance the monster she had
been picturing him--no more a monster, indeed, than he had seemed before
she knew of his past. Until now, however, except for that one glimpse in
the carriage, she had always seen him through such a haze of feeling as to
make the seeing practically null and void, so far as any perception of his
true character might be gathered from his appearance, and useless for
anything really but ordinary purposes of identification. Now, however,
that the misty veil of passion was withdrawn from her eyes, the man whom
she had thought noble she saw to be merely big; the face which had seemed
to beam with intellect certainly remained fine-featured still, but it was
like the work of a talented artist when it lacks the perfectly
perceptible, indefinable finishing touch of genius that would have raised
it above criticism, and drawn you back to it again, but, wanting which,
after the first glance of admiration, interest fails, and you pass on only
convinced of a certain cleverness, a thing that soon satiates without
satisfying. Evadne had seen soul in her lover's eyes, but now they struck
her as hard, shallow, glittering, and obtrusively blue; and she noticed
that his forehead, although high, shelved back abruptly to the crown of
his head, which dipped down again sheer to the back of his neck, a very
precipice without a single boss upon which to rest a hope of some saving
grace in the way of eminent social qualities. "Thank Heaven, I see you as
you are in time!" thought Evadne.
Colonel Colquhoun was the next to speak.
"I shall be able to give you rather a better position now," he said.
"Yes," she replied, but she did not at all appreciate the advantage,
because she had never known what it was to be in an inferior position.
"May I speak to you with reference to our future relations?" he continued.
She bowed a kind of cold assent, then looked at him expectantly, her eyes
opening wide, and her heart thumping horribly in the very natural
perturbation which again seized upon her as they approached the subject;
yet, in spite of her quite perceptible agitation, there was both dignity
and determination in her attitude, and Colonel Colquhoun, meeting the
unflinching glance direct, became suddenly aware of the fact that the
timid little love-sick girl with half-shut, sleepy eyes he had had such a
fancy for, and this young lady, modestly shrinking in every inch of her
sensitive frame, but undaunted in spirit, nevertheless, were two very
different people. There had been misapprehension of character on both
sides, it seemed, but he liked pluck, and, by Jove! the girl was handsomer
than he had imagined. Views or no views, he would lay siege to her senses
in earnest; there would be some satisfaction in such a conquest.
"Is there no hope for me, Evadne?" he pleaded.
"None--none," she burst out impetuously, becoming desperate in her
embarrassment, "But I cannot discuss the subject. I beg you will let it
Her one idea was to get rid of this big blond man, who gazed at her with
an expression in his eyes from which, now that her own passion was dead,
she shrunk in revolt.
Again Colonel Colquhoun bowed stiffly. "As you please," he said. "My only
wish is to please you." He paused for a reply, but as Evadne had nothing
more to say, he was obliged to recommence: "The regiment," he said, "is
going to Malta at once, and I must go with it. And what I would venture to
suggest is, that you should follow when you feel inclined, by P. and O.
Fellows will understand that I don't care to have you come out on a
troopship. And I should like to get your rooms fitted up for you, too,
before you arrive. I am anxious to do all in my power to meet your wishes.
I will make every arrangement with that end in view; and if you can
suggest anything yourself that does not occur to me I shall be glad. You
had better bring an English maid out with you, or a German. Frenchwomen
are flighty." He got up as he said this, and added: "You'll like Malta, I
think. It is a bright little place, and very jolly in the season."
Evadne rose too. "Thank you," she said. "You are showing me more
consideration than I have any right to expect, and I am sure to be
satisfied with any arrangement you may think it right to make."
"I will telegraph to you when my arrangements for your reception are
complete," he concluded. "And I think that is all."
"I can think of nothing else," she answered.
"Good-bye, then," he said.
"Good-bye," she rejoined, "and I wish you a pleasant voyage and all
possible success with your regiment."
"Thank you," he answered, putting his heels together, and making her a
profound bow as he spoke.
So they parted, and he went his way through the old Cathedral Close with
that set expression of countenance which he had worn when he first became
aware of her flight. But, curiously enough, although he had no atom of
lover-like feeling left for her, and the amount of thought she had
displayed in her letters had shocked his most cherished prejudices on the
subject of her sex, she had gained in his estimation. He liked her pluck.
He felt she could be nothing but a credit to him.
She remained for a few seconds as he had left her, listening to his
footsteps in the hall and the shutting of the door; and then from where
she stood she saw him pass, and watched him out of sight--a fine figure of
a man, certainly; and she sighed. She had been touched by his
consideration, and thought it a pity that such a kindly disposition should
be unsupported by the solid qualities which alone could command her
lasting respect and affection.
She walked to the window, and stood there drumming idly on the glass,
thinking over the conclusion they had come to, for some time after Colonel
Colquhoun had disappeared. She felt it to be a lame one, and she was far
from satisfied. But what, under the circumstances, would have been a
better arrangement? The persistent question contained in itself its own
answer. Only the prospect was blank--blank. The excitement of the contest
was over now; the reaction had set in. She ventured to look forward; and,
seeing for the first time what was before her, the long, dark, dreary
level of a hopelessly uncongenial existence, reaching from here to
eternity, as it seemed from her present point of view, her over-wrought
nerves gave way; and, when Mrs. Orton Beg came to her a moment later, she
threw herself into her arms and sobbed hysterically: "Oh, auntie I have
suffered horribly! I wish I were dead!"
The first news that Evadne received on arriving in Malta was contained in
a letter from her mother. It announced that her father had determined to
cut her off from all communication with her family until she came to her
She had remained quiety with Mrs. Orton Beg until it was time to leave
England. She did not want to go to Fraylingay. She shrank from occupying
her old rooms in her new state of mind, and she would not have thought of
proposing such a thing herself; but she did half expect to be asked. This
not liking to return home, not recognizing it as home any longer, or
herself as having any right to go there uninvited, marked the change in
her position, and made her realize it with a pang. Her mother came and
went, but she brought no message from her father nor ever mentioned him.
Something in ourselves warns us at once of any change of feeling in a
friend, and Evadne asked no questions, and sent no messages either. But
this attitude did not satisfy her father at all. He thought it her duty
clearly to throw herself at his feet and beg for mercy and forgiveness;
and he waited for her to make some sign of contrition until his patience
could hold out no longer, and then he asked his wife: "Has
Evadne--eh--what is her attitude at present?"
"She is perfectly cheerful and happy," Mrs. Frayling replied.
"She expresses no remorse for her most unjustifiable conduct?"
"She thinks she only did what is right," Mrs. Frayling reminded him.
"Then she is quite indifferent to my opinion?" he began, swelling visibly
and getting red in the face. "Has she asked what I think? Does she ever
"No, never," Mrs. Frayling declared apprehensively.
"A most unnatural child," he exclaimed in his pompous way; "a most
It was after this that he became obstinately determined to cut Evadne off
from all communication with her friends until she should become reconciled
to Colonel Colquhoun as a husband. Mr. Frayling was not an astute man. He
was simply incapable of sitting down and working out a deliberate scheme
of punishment which should have the effect of bringing Evadne's unruly
spirit into what he considered proper subjection. In this matter he acted,
not upon any system which he could have reduced to writing, but rather as
the lower animals do when they build nests, or burrow in the ground, or
repeat, generation after generation, other arrangements of a like nature
with a precision which the cumulative practice of the race makes perfect
in each individual. He possessed a certain faculty, transmitted from
father to son, that gives the stupidest man a power in his dealings with
women which the brightest intelligence would not acquire without it; and
he used to obtain his end with the decision of instinct, which is always
neater and more effectual than reason and artifice in such matters. He
denied hotly, for instance, that Evadne had any natural affection, and yet
it was upon that woman's weakness of hers that he set to work at once,
proving himself to be possessed of a perfect, if unconscious, knowledge of
her most vulnerable point; and he displayed much ingenuity in his manner
of making it a means of torture. He let no hint of the cruel edict be
breathed before she went abroad; she might have altered her arrangements
had she known of it before, and remained with Mrs. Orton Beg--and there
was something of foresight too, in timing her mother's tear-stained letter
of farewell, good advice, pious exhortation, and plaintive reproach to
meet her on her arrival, to greet her on the threshold of her new life,
and make her realize the terrible gulf which she was setting between
herself and those who were dearest to her, by her obstinacy.
The object was to make her suffer, and she did suffer; but her father's
cruelty did not alter the facts of the case, or appeal to her reason as an
argument worthy to influence her decision.
Mrs. Orton Beg ventured to express her opinion to Mr. Frayling on the
subject seriously. She often said more to him in her quiet way than most
people would have dared to.
"I think you are making a mistake," she said.
"What!" he exclaimed, ready to bluster; "Would you have me countenance
such conduct? Why, it is perfectly revolutionary. If other women follow
her example, not one man in ten will be able to get a wife when he wants
"It is very terrible," she answered in her even way, "to hear that so
large a majority will be condemned to celibacy; but I have no doubt you
have good grounds for making the assertion. That is not the point,
however. What I was thinking of was the risk you run of bringing more
serious trouble on yourself by cutting Evadne adrift from every influence
of her happy childhood, and casting her lot among strangers, and into a
world of intrigue alone."
"She will come to her senses when she finds herself so situated, perhaps,"
he retorted testily; "and if she does not, it will just show that she is
Evadne answered this last letter of her mother's with dignity.
"Of course I regret my father's decision [she wrote], and I consider it
neither right nor wise. But I shall take the liberty of writing to you
regularly every mail nevertheless. I know my letters will be a pleasure to
you although you cannot answer them. But where is the reason and right,
mother, in this decision of my father's? We both know, you and I, that it
is merely the outcome of irritation caused by a difference of opinion, and
no more binding in reason upon you than upon me."
When Mrs. Frayling received this letter, she wrote a hurried note to
Evadne, saying that she did think her husband unreasonable, and also that
he had no right to separate her from any of her children, and that
therefore she should write to Evadne as often as she liked, but without
letting him know it. She thought his injustice quite justified such
tactics; but Evadne answered, "No!"
"There has been too much of that kind of cowardice among women already
[she wrote]. Whatever we do we should do openly and fearlessly. We are not
the property of our husbands; they do not buy us. We are perfectly free
agents to write to whomsoever we please, and so long as we order our lives
in all honour and decency, they have no more right to interfere with us
than we with them. Tell him once for all that you see no reason in his
request, and write openly. What can he do? Storm, I suppose. But storming
is no proof of his right to interfere between you and me. Once on a time
the ignorant were taught to believe that the Lord spoke in the thunder,
and they could be influenced through their terror and respect to do
anything while an opportune storm was raging; and when women were weak and
ignorant men used their wrath in much the same way to convince them of
error. To us, educated as we are, however, an outburst of rage is about as
effectual an argument as a clap of thunder would be. Both are startling I
grant, but what do they prove? I have seen my father in a rage. His face
swells and gets very red, he prances up and down the room, he shouts at
the top of his voice, and presents altogether a very disagreeable
spectacle which one never quite forgets. But he cannot go like that
forever, mother. So tell him gently you have been thinking about his
proposition, and are sorry that you find you must differ from him, but you
consider that it is clearly your duty to correspond with me. Then sit
still, and say nothing, and let him storm till he is tired; and when he
goes out and bangs the door, finish your letter, and put it in a
conspicuous position on the hall table to be posted. He will scarcely tear
it up, but if he does, write another, send it to the post yourself, and
tell him you have done so, and shall continue to do so. Be open before
everything, and stand upon your dignity. Things have come to a pretty
pass, indeed, when an honourable woman only dares to write to her own
daughter surreptitiously, as if she were doing something she should be
Poor Mrs. Frayling was not equal to such opposition. She would rather have
faced a thunderstorm than her husband in his wrath, so she concealed
Evadne's letter from him, and wrote to her again surreptitiously in order
to reproach her for seeming to insinuate that she, her mother, would stoop
to do anything underhand. Evadne sighed when she received this letter, and
thought of letting the matter drop. Why should she dislike to see her
father in the position unreasonable husbands and fathers usually occupy,
that of being ostensibly obeyed while in reality they are carefully kept
in the dark as to what is going on about them? And why should she object
to allow her mother to act as so many other worthy but weak women daily do
in self-defence and for the love of peace and quietness? There seemed to
be no great good to be gained by persisting, and she might perhaps have
ended by acquiescing under protest if her mother had not added by way of
postscript: "I doubt very much if I shall be allowed to receive your
letters. Your father will probably send any he may capture straight back
to you; and, at any rate, he will insist upon seeing them, so do not, my
dear child, allude to having heard from me. I earnestly entreat you to
But the request only made Evadne's blood boil again. She did not belong to
the old corrupt state of things herself, and she would not submit to
anything savouring of deceit. If her mother were too weak to assert her
own independence she felt herself forced to do it for her, so she wrote to
her father sharply:
"My mother tells me that you intend to stop all communication between her
and myself. I consider that you have no right to do anything of the kind,
and unless I hear from her regularly in answer to my letters, I shall be
reluctantly compelled to send a detailed statement of my case to every
paper in the kingdom in order to find out from my fellow countrywomen what
their opinion of your action in the matter is, and also what they would
advise us to do. You know my mother's affection for you. You have never
had any reason to complain of want of devotion on her part, and when you
make your disagreement with me a whip to scourge her with, you are guilty
of an unjustifiable act of oppression."
This letter arrived at Fraylingay late one afternoon, and was handed to
Mr. Frayling on his return from a pleasant country ride. He read it
standing in the hall, and lost his equanimity at once.
"Where is Mrs. Frayling?" he asked a servant who happened to be passing,
speaking in a way which caused the man to remark afterward that "Mrs.
Frayling was going to catch it about somethin'; and 'e seemed to think I'd
made away with 'er."
Mrs. Frayling was in the drawing room, writing one of her pleasant chatty
letters to a friend in India, with a cheerful expression on her comely
countenance, and all recollections of her domestic difficulties banished
for the moment.
When Mr. Frayling entered in his riding dress, with his whip in his hand
and his hat on his head (he was one of those men who are most punctilious
with strange ladies, but do not feel it necessary to behave like gentlemen
in the presence of their own wives, making it appear as if the latter had
lost cast and forfeited all claim to their respect by marrying them) Mrs.
Frayling looked round from her writing and smiled.
"Have you had a nice ride, dear?" she said.
"Read that!" he exclaimed, slapping Evadne's letter with his whip, and
then throwing it down on the table before her rudely: "Read that, and tell
me what you think of your daughter now!" Mrs. Frayling's fair face clouded
on the instant, and her affectionate heart, which had been so happily
expanded the moment before by the kind thoughts about her absent friend
that came crowding as she wrote to her, contracted now with a painful
spasm of nervous apprehension.
She read the letter through, and then put it down on the table beside her
without a word. She did not look at her husband, but at some miniatures
which hung on the wall before her. They were portraits of her own people,
father, mother, grandmother, a great aunt and uncle, and other near
relations, together with a brother and sister much older than herself, and
both dead, and forgotten as a rule: but at that moment all that she had
ever known of them, details of merry games together, and childish
naughtinesses which got them into trouble at the time but made them appear
to have been only amusingly mischievous now, recurred to her in one great
flash of memory, which showed her also some lost illusions of her early
girlhood about a husband's love and tenderness, his constant friendship,
the careful, patient teaching of the more powerful mind which was to
strengthen her mind and enlarge it too, and the constant companionship
which would banish for ever the indefinite gnawing sense of loneliness
from which all healthy, young, unmated creatures suffer. She had actually
expected at one time to be more to her husband than the mere docile female
of his own kind which was all he wanted his wife to be. She had had
aspirations which had caused her to yearn for help to develop something
beyond the animal side of her, proving the possession in embryo of
faculties other than those which had survived Mr. Frayling's rule; but her
nature was plastic; one of those which requires the strong and delicate
hand of a master to mould it into distinct and lovely form. Motherhood, as
it had appeared to her in the delicate dreams of those young days, had
promised to be a beautiful and blessed privilege, but then the children of
her happy imaginings had been less her own than those of the shadowy
perfection who was to have been her husband. She had little sense of
humour, but yet she could have smiled when, in this moment of absolute
insight, she saw the ideal compared with the real husband, this great fat
country gentleman. The folly of having expected even motherhood with such
a father for her children to be anything but unsatisfactory and
disappointing at the best, dawned upon her for an instant with
disheartening effect. But, fortunately, the outlook was so hopeless there
seemed nothing more to sigh for, and so she sat for once, looking up at
the miniatures without washing out with tears the little mental strength
she had left.
Mr. Frayling waited impatiently for her to make some remark when she had
read Evadne's letter. Almost anything she could have said must have given
him some further food for provocation, and there is nothing more
gratifying to an angry man than fresh fuel for his wrath. However, silence
sometimes fans the flame as effectually as words, and it did so on this
occasion, for, having waited till he could contain himself no longer, he
burst out so suddenly that Mrs. Frayling raised her large soft white hand
to the heavy braids which it was then the fashion to pile high on the head
and have hanging down in two rows to the nape of the neck behind, as if
she expected them to be disarranged by the concussion.
"May I ask if you approve of that letter?" he demanded.
But she only set her lips.
Mr. Frayling took a turn about the room with his hands behind his back,
holding his riding whip upright, and flicking himself between the
shoulders with it as he went.
"Let her write to the papers!" he exclaimed, addressing the pictures on
the walls as if he were sure of their sympathy. "Let her write to the
papers. I don't care what she does. I cast her off forever. This comes of
the higher education of women; a promising specimen! Woman's rights,
indeed! Woman's shamelessness and want of common decency once she is let
loose from proper control. She'll make the matter public, will she? A girl
of nineteen! and take the opinion of her fellow countrywomen on the
subject, egad! because I won't let her mother write to her: and my not
doing so is an unjustifiable act of oppression, is it? What do you
consider it yourself?" he demanded of his wife, striding up to her, and
standing over her in a way which, with a flourish of the whip, was
unpleasantly suggestive of an impulse to visit her daughter's offence upon
her shoulders actually as well as figuratively.
Mrs. Frayling did not shrink, but her comely pink and white face, usually
so lineless in its healthy matronly plumpness, suddenly took on a look of
age and hardness, the one moment of horrid repulsion marking it more
deeply than years of those household cares which write themselves on the
mind without contracting the heart had done.
"Do you consider," he repeated, "that I have been guilty of an unmanly act
"I think you have been very unkind," she answered, meaning the same thing.
"Her conduct was bad enough to begin with, but now it will be ten times
worse. She will write to the papers, if she says she will. Evadne is as
brave--! You can't understand her courage. She will do anything she thinks
right. And now there will be a public scandal after all we have done to
prevent it, and you will never be able to show your face again anywhere,
for there isn't a mother in the country from her Majesty downward, who
will not take my part and say you have no right to separate me from my
"I know what the end of it will be." he roared. "I know what happens when
women leave the beaten track. They go to the bad altogether. That's what
will happen, you'll see. She'll write a volume next to prove that she has
a right to be an immoral woman if she chooses. She'll be a common hussey
yet, I promise you."
"_Sir!_" said Mrs. Frayling, stung into dignity for a moment, and
rising to her feet in order to confront him boldly while she spoke. "Sir,
I have been a good and loyal wife to you, as my daughter says, and it
seems she was right too, when she declared that you are capable of making
your disapproval of her opinions a whip to scourge me with; but I warn
you, if you do not instantly retract that cowardly insult, I shall walk
straight out of your house, and make the matter public myself."
Mr. Frayling stared at her. "I--I beg your pardon, Elizabeth," he faltered
in sheer astonishment. "What with you and your daughter, I am provoked
past endurance. I don't know what I am saying."
"No amount of provocation justifies such an attack upon your daughter's
reputation," Mrs. Frayling rejoined, following up her advantage. "If she
had been that kind of girl she would not have objected to Colonel
Colquhoun; and at any rate she has every right to as much of your charity
as you give him."
"Women are different," Mr. Frayling ventured feebly.
"Are they?" said Mrs. Frayling, some of Evadne's wisdom occurring to her
with the old worn axiom upon which for untold ages the masculine excuse
for self-indulgence at the expense of the woman has rested. "I believe
Evadne is right after all. I shall get out her letters, and read them
again. And what is more, I shall write to her just as often as I please."
Mr. Frayling stared again in his amazement, and then he walked out of the
room without uttering another word. He had not foreseen the possibility of
such spirited conduct on the part of his wife; but since she had ventured
to revolt, the question of a public scandal was disposed of, and that
being a consummation devoutly to be wished, he said no more, salving his
lust of power with the reflection that, by deciding the question for
herself, she had removed all responsibility from his shoulders, and proved
herself to be a contumacious woman and blameworthy. So long as there is no
risk of publicity the domestic tyrannies of respectable elderly gentlemen
of irascible disposition may be carried to any length, but once there is a
threat of scandal they coil up.
By that one act of overt rebellion, Mrs. Frayling secured some comfort in
her life for a few months at least, and taught her husband a little lesson
which she ought to have endeavoured to inculcate long before. It was too
late then, however, to do him any permanent good; the habit of the
slave-driver was formed. When a woman sacrifices her individuality and the
right of private judgment at the outset of her married life, and limits
herself to "What thou biddest, unargued I obey," taking it for granted
that "God is thy law," without making any inquiries, and accepting the
assertion that "To know no more is woman's happiest knowledge, and her
praise," as confidently as if the wisdom of it had been proved beyond a
doubt, and its truth had never been known to fail in a single instance,
she withdraws from her poor husband all the help of her keener spiritual
perceptions, which she should have used with authority to hold his grosser
nature in check, and leaves him to drift about on his own conceit,
prejudices, and inclinations, until he is past praying for.
There was a temporary lull at Fraylingay after that last battle, during
which Mrs. Frayling wrote to her daughter freely and frequently. She
described the fight she had had for her rights, and concluded: "Now the
whole difficulty has blown over, and I have no more opposition to contend
against"--to which Evadne had replied in a few words judiciously, adding:
"Before the curing of a strong disease,
Even in the instant of repair and health,
The fit is strongest; evils that take leave,
On their departure most of all show evil."
It came to be pretty generally known that all had not gone well with the
Colquhouns immediately after their marriage. Something of the story had of
necessity leaked out through the servants; but, as the Fraylings had the
precaution, common to their class, to keep their private troubles to
themselves, nobody knew precisely what the difficulty had been, and their
intimate friends, whom delicacy debarred from making inquiries, least of
all. Lady Adeline just mentioned the matter to Mrs. Orton Beg, and asked,
"Is it a difficulty that may be discussed?"
"No, better not, I think," the latter answered, and of course the subject
But poor Lady Adeline was too much occupied with domestic anxieties of her
own at that time to feel more than a passing gleam of sympathetic interest
in other people's. As Lord Dawne had hinted to Mrs. Orton Beg, it was now
a question of how best to educate the twins. Their parents had made what
they considered suitable arrangements for their instruction; but the
children, unfortunately, were not satisfied with these. They had had a
governess in common while they were still quite small; but Mr.
Hamilton-Wells had old-fashioned ideas about the superior education of
boys, and consequently, when the children had outgrown their nursery
governess, he decided that Angelica should have another, more advanced;
and had at the same time engaged a tutor for Diavolo, sending him to
school being out of the question because of the fear of further trouble
from the artery he had severed. When this arrangement became known, the
children were seen to put their heads together.
"Do we like having different teachers?" Diavolo inquired tentatively.
"No, we don't," said Angelica.
Lady Adeline had tried to prepare the governess, but the latter brought no
experience of anything like Angelica to help her to understand that young
lady, and so the warning went for nothing. "A little affection goes a long
way with a child." she said to Lady Adeline, "and I always endeavour to
make my pupils understand that I care for them, and do not wish to make
their lessons a task, but a pleasure to them."
"It is a good system, I should think," Lady Adeline observed, speaking
"Can you do long division, my dear," the governess asked Angelica when
they sat down to lessons for the first time.
"No, Miss Apsley," Angelica answered sweetly.
"Then I will show you how. But you must attend, you know,"--this last was
said with playful authority.
So Angelica attended.
"How did you get on this morning?" Lady Adeline asked Miss Apsley
"Oh, perfectly!" the latter answered. "The dear child was all interest and
Lady Adeline said no more; but such docility was unnatural, and she did
not like the look of it at all.
Next day Angelica, with an innocent air, gave Miss Apsley a long division
sum which she had completed during the night. It was done by an immense
number of figures, and covered four sheets of foolscap gummed together.
Miss Apsley worked at it for an hour to verify it, and, finding it quite
correct, she decided that Angelica knew long division enough, and must go
on to something else. Her first impression was that she had secured a
singularly apt pupil, and she was much surprised, when she began to teach
Angelica the next rule in arithmetic, to find that she could _not_
make the dear child see it. Angelica listened, and tried, with every
appearance of honest intention, getting red and hot with the effort; and
she would not put the slate down; she would go on trying till her head
ached, she was so eager to learn; but work as she might, she could do
nothing but long division. Miss Apsley said she had never known anything
so singular. Lady Adeline sighed.
For about a week, the twins "lay low."
The tutor had found it absolutely impossible to teach Diavolo anything.
The boy was perfectly docile. He would sit with his bright eyes riveted on
his master's face, listening with might and main apparently; but at the
end of every explanation the tutor found the same thing. Diavolo never had
the faintest idea of what he had been talking about.
At the end of a week, however, the children changed their tactics. When
lessons ought to have begun one morning Diavolo went to Miss Apsley, and
sat himself down beside her in Angelica's place, with a smiling
countenance and without a word of explanation; while Angelica presented
herself to the tutor with all Diavolo's books under her arm.
"Please, sir," she said, "there must have been some mistake. Diavolo and I
find that we were mixed somehow wrong, and I got his mind and he got mine.
I can do his lessons quite easily, but I can't do my own; and he can do
mine, but he can't do these"--holding up the books. "It's like this, you
see. I can't learn from a lady, and he can't learn from a man. So I'm
going to be your pupil, and he's going to be Miss Apsley's. You don't
understand twins, I expect. It's always awkward about them; there's so
often something wrong. With us, you know, the fact of the matter is that
_I_ am Diavolo and _he_ is me."
The tutor and governess appealed to Mr. Hamilton-Wells, and Mr.
Hamilton-Wells sent for the twins and lectured them, Lady Adeline sitting
by, seriously perplexed. The children stood to attention together, and
listened respectfully; and then went back to their lessons with
undeviating cheerfulness; but Diavolo did Angelica's, and Angelica did his
diligently, and none other would they do.
But this state of things could not continue, and in order to end it, Mr.
Hamilton-Wells had recourse to a weak expedient which he had more than
once successfully employed unknown to Lady Adeline. He sent for the twins,
and consulted their wishes privately.
"What do you want?" he asked.
"Well, sir," Diavolo answered, "we don't think it's fair for Angelica only
to have a beastly governess to teach her when she knows as much as I do,
and is a precious sight sharper."
"I taught you all you know, Diavolo, didn't I?" Angelica broke in.
"Yes," said Diavolo, with a wise nod.
"And it is beastly unfair," she continued, "to put me off with a squeaking
governess and long division, when I ought to be doing mathematics and
Latin and Greek."
"My dear child, what use would mathematics and Latin and Greek be to you?"
Mr. Hamilton-Wells protested.
"Just as much use as they will to Diavolo," she answered decidedly. "He
doesn't know half as much about the good of education as I do. Just ask
him." She whisked round on her brother as she spoke, and demanded: "Tell
papa, Diavolo, what _is_ the use of being educated?"
"I am sure I don't know," Diavolo answered impressively.
"My dear boy, mathematics are an education in themselves." Mr.
Hamilton-Wells began didactically, moving his long white hands in a way
that always suggested lace ruffles. "They will teach you to reason."
"Then they'll teach me to reason too," said Angelica, setting herself down
on the arm of a chair as if she had made up her mind, and intended to let
them know it. All her movements were quick, all Diavolo's deliberate. "Men
are always jeering at women in books for not being able to reason, and I'm
going to learn, if there's any help in mathematics," she continued. "I
found something the other day--where is it now?" She was down on her knees
in a moment, emptying the contents of her pocket on to the floor, and
sifting them. There were two pocket-handkerchiefs of fine texture, and
exceedingly dirty, as if they had been there for months (the one she used
she carried in the bosom of her dress or up her sleeve), a ball of string,
a catapult and some swan shot, a silver pen, a pencil holder, part of an
old song book, a pocket book, some tin tacks, a knife with several blades
and scissors, etc.; also a silver fruit knife, two coloured pencils,
indiarubber, and a scrap of dirty paper wrapped round a piece of almond
toffee. This was apparently what she wanted, for she took it off the
toffee, threw the latter into the grate--whither Diavolo's eyes followed
it regretfully--and spread the paper out on her lap, whence it was seen to
be covered with cabalistic-looking figures.
"Here you are," she said. "I copied it out of a book the other day, and
put it round the toffee because I knew I should be wanting that, and then
I should see it every time I took it out of my pocket, and not forget it."
"But why did you throw the toffee away?" said Diavolo.
"Shut up, and listen," Angelica rejoined from the floor politely; and then
she began to read: 'Histories make men wise; poets witty; mathematics
subtle; natural philosophy, deep, moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able
to contend.' Now that's what I want, papa. I want to know all that, and
have a good time; and I expect I shall have to contend to get it!"
"You'll soon learn how," said Diavolo encouragingly.
Mr. Hamilton-Wells had always enjoyed his children's precocity, and,
provided they amused him, they could make him do anything. So after the
conference he announced that he had been questioning Angelica, and had
found that she really was too far advanced for a governess, and he had
therefore decided that she should share Diavolo's lessons with the tutor.
The governess accordingly disappeared from Hamilton House, the first tutor
found that he had no vocation for teaching, and left also, and another was
procured with great difficulty, and at considerable expense, for the fame
of the Heavenly Twins was wide-spread, and their parents were determined
besides not to let any candidate engage himself under the pleasing
delusion that the task of teaching them would be something of a sinecure.
The tutor they finally secured turned out to be a very good fellow,
fortunately; a gentleman, and with a keen sense of humour which the twins
appreciated, so that they took to him at once, and treated him pretty well
on the whole; but lessons were usually a lively time. Angelica, who
continued to be the taller, stronger, and wickeder of the two, soon proved
herself the cleverer also. Like Evadne, she was consumed by the rage to
know, and insisted upon dragging Diavolo on with her. It was interesting
to see them sitting side by side, the dark head touching the fair one as
they bent together intently over some problem. When Diavolo was not quick
enough, Angelica would rouse him up in the old way by knocking her head,
which was still the harder of the two, against his.
"Angelica, did I see you strike your brother?" Mr. Ellis sternly demanded,
the first time he witnessed this performance.
"I don't know whether you saw me or not, sir, but I certainly did strike
him," Angelica answered irritably.
"To wake him up."
"You see, sir," Diavolo proceeded to explain in his imperturbable drawl;
"Angelica discovered that I was born with a hee-red-it-air-ee
predisposition to be a muff. We mostly are on father's side of the
"And if he isn't one, it's because I slapped the tendency out of him as
soon as I perceived it," Angelica interrupted. "Get on, Diavolo, I've no
patience with you when you're so slow. You know you don't want to learn
this, and that's why you're snailing."
It was rather a trick of Diavolo's "to snail" over his lessons, for in
that as in many other things he was very unlike the good little boy who
loved his book, besides evincing many other traits of character equally
unpopular at the present time. Diavolo would not work unless Angelica made
him, and the worst collision with the tutor was upon this subject.
"Wake up, Theodore, will you!" Mr. Ellis said, during the first week of
"Not until you call me Diavolo," was the bland response.
Mr. Ellis resisted for some time, but Diavolo was firm and would do
nothing, and Lady Adeline cautioned the tutor to give in if he saw an
opportunity of doing so with dignity.
"But the young scamp will be jeeringly triumphant if I do," Mr. Ellis
"Oh, no," Lady Adeline answered. "Diavolo prides himself upon being a
gentleman, and he says a gentleman never jeers or makes himself
unpleasant. His ideas on the latter point, by the way, are peculiarly his
own, and you will probably differ from him as to what is or is not
Mr. Ellis made a point of calling the boy "Diavolo" in a casual way, as if
he had forgotten the dispute, as early as possible after this, and found
that Lady Adeline was right. Diavolo showed not the slightest sign of
having heard, but he got out his books at once, and did his lessons as if
he liked them.
Mr. Hamilton-Wells had a habit of always saying a little more than was
necessary on some subjects. He was either a born _naturalist_ or had
never conquered the problem of what not to say, and he was so incautious
as to come into the schoolroom one morning while lessons were going on,
and warn Mr. Ellis to be most careful about what he gave the twins to read
in Latin, because some of the classic delicacies which boys are expected
to swallow without injury to themselves are much too highly seasoned for a
young lady; "You must make judicious excerpts," he said.
Slap came the dictionary down upon the table, and Angelica was deep in the
"ex's" in a moment. Excerpt, she found, was to pick or take out. She
passed the dictionary to Diavolo, who studied the definition; but neither
of them made a remark. From that day forth, however, they spent every
spare moment they had in poring over Latin text-books, until they mastered
the language, simply for the purpose of finding out what it was that
Angelica ought not to know.
There were, as has already been stated, some lively scenes at lessons.
"Talk less and do more," Mr. Ellis rashly recommended in the early days of
their acquaintance, and after that, when they disagreed, they claimed that
they had his authority to settle the difference by tearing each other's
hair or scratching each other across the table; and when he interfered,
sometimes they scratched him too. Mr. Hamilton-Wells raised his salary
The children invariably had a discussion about everything as soon as it
was over. They called it "talking it out"; and after they had sinned and
suffered punishment, their great delight was to come and coax the tutor
"to talk it out." They would then criticize their own conduct and his,
impartially, point out what they might have done, and what he might have
done, and what ought to have been done on both sides.
These discussions usually took place at the schoolroom tea, a meal which
both tutor and children as a rule thoroughly enjoyed. Mr. Ellis was not
bound to have tea with the twins, but they had politely invited him on the
day of his arrival, explaining that their parents were out, and it would
give them great pleasure to entertain him.
Tea being ready, they took him to the schoolroom, where he found a square
table, just large enough for four, daintily decorated with flowers, and
very nice china.
"We have to buy our own china, because we break so much," Angelica said,
seeing that the tutor noticed it. "That was the kind of thing papa got for
us"--indicating a hugely thick white cup and saucer, which stood on the
mantelpiece on a stand of royal blue plush, and covered with a glass
"We broke the others, but we had that one mounted as a warning to him.
Papa has no taste at all."
The tutor's face was a study. It was the first of these remarks he had
The children decided that it would balance the table better if he poured
out the tea, and he good-naturedly acquiesced, and sat down with Angelica
on his right, and Diavolo on his left. The fourth seat opposite was
unoccupied, but there was a cover laid, and he asked who was expected.
"Oh, that is for the Peace Angel," said Diavolo casually.
"Prevents difficulties at tea, you know," Angelica supplemented.
"_We_ don't mind difficulties, but we thought you might object, so we
asked his holiness"--indicating the empty chair--"to preserve order."
Mr. Ellis did not at first appreciate the boon which was conferred on him
by the presence of the Peace Angel, but he soon learnt to.
"I am on my honour and thick bread and butter to-day," said Diavolo,
looking longingly at the plentiful supply and variety of cakes on the
"What does that mean exactly?" Mr. Ellis asked, pausing with the teapot
raised to pour.
"Why, you see, he was naughty this morning," Angelica explained. "And as
mamma was going out, she put him on his honour, as a punishment, not to
"I've a good mind not to eat anything," said Diavolo, considering the
plate of thick bread and butter beside him discontentedly.
"Then you'll be cutting off your nose to vex your face," said Angelica.
Diavolo caught up a piece of bread and butter to throw at her; but she
held up her hand, crying: "I appeal to the Peace Angel!"
"I forgot," said Diavolo, transferring the bread to his plate.
The children studied the tutor during tea.
He was a man of thirty, somewhat careworn about the eyes, but with an
excessively kind and pleasant face, clean shaven; and thick, reddy-brown
hair. He was above the middle height, a little stooped at the shoulders,
but of average strength.
"I like the look of you," said Angelica frankly.
"Thank you," he answered, smiling.
"And I vote for a permanent arrangement," she said, looking at Diavolo.
He was just then hidden behind a huge slice of bread, biting it, but he
The permanent arrangement referred to was to have the tutor to tea, and he
agreed, wisely stipulating, however, that the presence of the Peace Angel
should also be permanent. He even tried to persuade the twins to invite
him to lessons; but that they firmly declined.
"You'll like being our tutor, I think," Diavolo observed during this first
"He will if we like him," said Angelica significantly.
"Are we going to?" Diavolo asked.
"Yes, I think so," she answered, taking another good look at Mr. Ellis. "I