Part 8 out of 18
to Dr Tempest, for the bishop's signature, in which the doctor should be
requested, as the rural dean to whom Mr Crawley was subject, to hold a
commission of five to inquire into Mr Crawley's conduct. The letter was
to explain to Dr Tempest that the bishop, moved by his solicitude for
the souls of the people of Hogglestock, had endeavoured, 'in a friendly
way,' to induce Mr Crawley to desist from his ministrations; but that
having failed through Mr Crawley's obstinacy, he had no alternative but
to proceed in this way. 'You had better say that his lordship, as bishop
of the diocese, can take no heed of the coming trial,' said Mrs Proudie.
'I think his lordship had better say nothing at all about the trial,'
said Mr Chadwick. 'I think it will be best,' said the bishop.
'But if they report against him,' said Mr Chadwick, 'you can only then
proceed in the ecclesiastical court--at your own expense.'
'He'll hardly be so obstinate as that,' said the bishop.
'I'm afraid you don't know him, my lord,' said the lawyer. The bishop,
thinking of the scene which had taken place in that very room only
yesterday, felt that he did know Mr Crawley, and felt also that the hope
which he had just expressed was one in which he himself put no trust.
But something might turn up; and it was devoutly to be hoped that Dr
Tempest would take a long time over his inquiry. The assizes might come
on as soon as it was terminated, or very shortly afterwards; and then
everything might be well. 'You won't find Dr Tempest very ready at it,'
said Mr Chadwick. The bishop in his heart was comforted by the words.
'But he must be made to be ready to do his duty,' said Mrs Proudie,
imperiously. Mr Chadwick shrugged his shoulders, then got up, spoke his
farewell little speeches, and left the palace.
LILY DALE WRITES TWO WORDS IN HER BOOK
John Eames saw nothing more of Lily Dale till he packed up his
portmanteau, left his mother's house, and went to stay for a few days
with his old friend Lady Julia; and this did not happen till he had been
above a week at Guestwick. Mrs Dale repeatedly said that it was odd that
Johnny Eames did not come to see them; and Grace, speaking of him to
Lily, asked why he did not come. Lily, in her funny way, declared that
he would come soon enough. But even while she was joking there was
something of half-expressed consciousness in her words--as though she
felt it to be foolish to speak of his coming as she might of that of any
other young man, before people who knew her whole story. 'He'll come
quick enough. He knows, and I know, that his coming will do no good. Of
course I shall be glad to see him. Why shouldn't I be glad to see him?
I've known him and liked him all my life. I liked him when there did not
seem to be much about him to like, and now that he is clever, and
agreeable, and good-looking--which he never was as a lad--why shouldn't
I go on liking him? He's more like a brother to me than anybody else
I've got. James,'--James was her brother-in-law, Dr Crofts--'thinks of
nothing but his patients and his babies, and my cousin Bernard is much
too grand a person for me to take the liberty of loving him. I shall be
very glad to see Johnny Eames.' From all which Mrs Dale was led to
believe that Johnny's case was still hopeless. And how should it not be
hopeless? Had not Lily confessed within the last week or two that she
still loved Adolphus Crosbie?
Mrs Eames also, and Mary, were surprised that John did not go over to
Allington. 'You haven't seen Mrs Dale yet, or the squire?'
'I shall see them when I am at the cottage.'
'Yes;--no doubt. But it seems strange that you should be here so long
without going to them.'
'There's time enough,' said he. 'I shall have nothing else to do when
I'm at the cottage.' Then, when Mary had spoken to him again in private,
expressing a hope that there was 'nothing wrong', he had been very angry
with his sister. 'What do you mean by wrong? What rubbish you girls
talk! And you never have any delicacy of feeling to make you silent.'
'Oh, John, don't say such hard things as that of me!'
'But I do say them. You'll make me swear among you some day that I will
never see Lily Dale again. As it is, I wish I never had seen her--simple
because I am so dunned about it.' In all of which I think that Johnny
was manifestly wrong. When the humour was on him he was fond enough of
talking about Lily Dale. Had he not taught her to do so, I doubt whether
his sister would ever have mentioned Lily's name to him. 'I did not mean
to dun you, John,' said Mary, meekly.
But at last he went to Lady Julia's, and was no sooner there than he was
ready to start for Allington. When Lady Julia spoke to him about Lily,
he did not venture to snub her. Indeed, of all his friends, Lady Julia
was the one whom on this subject he allowed himself the most
unrestricted confidence. He came over one day, just before dinner, and
declared his intention of walking over to Allington immediately after
breakfast on the following morning. 'It's the last time, Lady Julia,' he
'So you say, Johnny.'
'And so I mean it! What's the good of a man flittering away his life?
What's the good of wishing for what you can't get?'
'Jacob was not in such a hurry when he wished for Rachel.'
'That was all very well for an old patriarch who had seven or eight
hundred years to live.'
'My dear John, you forget your Bible. Jacob did not live half as long
'He lived long enough, and slowly enough, to be able to wait fourteen
years;--and then he had something to comfort him in the meantime. And
after all, Lady Julia, it's more than seven years since I first thought
Lily was the prettiest girl I ever saw.'
'How old are you now?' 'Twenty-seven--and she's twenty-four.'
'You've time enough yet, if you'll only be patient.'
'I'll be patient for tomorrow, Lady Julia, but never again. Not that I
mean to quarrel with her. I'm not such a fool as to quarrel with a girl
because she can't like me. I know how it all is. If that scoundrel had
not come across my path just when he did--in that very nick of time, all
might have been right betwixt her and me. I couldn't have offered to
marry her before, when I hadn't as much income as would have found her
bread-and-butter. And then, just as better times came to me, he stepped
in! I wonder whether it will be expected of me that I should forgive
'As far as that goes, you have no right to be angry with him.'
'But I am--all the same.'
'And so was I--but not for stepping in, as you call it.'
'You and I are different, Lady Julia. I was angry with him for stepping
in; but I couldn't show it. Then he stepped out, and I did manage to
show it. And now I shouldn't wonder if he doesn't step in again. After
all, why should he have such a power? It was simply the nick of time
which gave it to him.' That John Eames should be able to find some
consolation in this consideration is devoutly to be hoped by us all.
There was nothing said about Lily Dale the next morning at breakfast.
Lady Julia observed that John was dressed a little more neatly than
usual;--though the change was not such as to have called for her special
observation, had she not known the business on which he was intent.
'You have nothing to send to the Dales?' he said, as he got up from the
'Nothing but my love, Johnny.'
'No worsted embroidery work--or a pot of special jam for the squire?'
'No, sir, nothing; though I should like to make you carry a pair of
panniers, if I could.'
'They would become me well,' said Johnny, 'for I am going on an ass's
errand.' Then, without waiting for the word of affection which was on
the old woman's lips, he got himself out of the room, and started on his
The walk was only three miles and the weather was dry and frosty, and he
had come to the turn leading up to the church and the squire's house
almost before he remembered that he was near Allington. Here he paused
for a moment to think. If he continued his way down by the 'Red Lion'
and through Allington Street, he must knock at Mrs Dale's door, and ask
for admission by means of the servant--as would be done by any ordinary
visitor. But he could make his way on to the lawn by going up beyond the
wall of the churchyard and through the squire's garden. He knew the path
well--very well; and he thought that he might take so much liberty as
that, both with the squire and with Mrs Dale, although his visits to
Allington were not so frequent now as they used to be in the days of his
boyhood. He did not wish to be admitted by the servant, and therefore he
went through the gardens. Luckily he did not see the squire, who would
have detained him, and he escaped from Hopkins, the old gardener, with
little more than a word. 'I'm going down to see the ladies, Hopkins; I
suppose I shall find them?' And then, while Hopkins was arranging his
spade so that he might lean upon it for a little chat, Johnny was gone
and had made his way into the other garden. He had thought it possible
that he might meet Lily out among the walks by herself and such a
meeting as this would have suited him better than any other. And as he
crossed the little bridge which separated the gardens he thought of more
than one such meeting--of one especial occasion on which he had first
ventured to tell her in plain words that he loved her. But before that
day Crosbie had come there, and at the moment in which he was speaking
of his love she regarded Crosbie as an angel of light upon the earth.
What hope could there have been for him then? What use was there in
telling such a tale of love at that time? When he told it, he knew
Crosbie had been before him. He knew that Crosbie was at that moment the
angel of light. But as he had never before been able to speak of his
love, so was he then unable not to speak of it. He had spoken, and of
course had been simply rebuked. Since that day Crosbie had ceased to be
an angel of light, and he, John Eames, had spoken often. But he had
spoken in vain, and now he would speak once again.
He went through the garden and over the lawn belonging to the Small
House and saw no one. He forgot, I think, that ladies do not come out to
pick roses when the ground is frozen, and that croquet is not often in
progress with the hoar-frost on the grass. So he walked up to the little
terrace before the drawing-room, and looking in saw Mrs Dale, and Lily,
and Grace at their morning work. Lily was drawing, and Mrs Dale was
writing, and Grace had her needle in her hand. As it happened, no one at
first perceived him, and he had time to feel that after all he would
have managed it better if he had been announced in the usual way. As,
however, it was now necessary that he should announce himself, he
knocked at the window, and they all immediately looked up and saw him.
'It's my cousin John,' said Grace. 'Oh, Johnny, how are you at last?'
said Mrs Dale. But it was Lily who, without speaking, opened the window
for him, who was the first to give him her hand, and who led him through
into the room.
'It's a great shame my coming in this way,' said John, 'and letting all
the cold air in upon you.'
'We shall survive it,' said Mrs Dale. 'I suppose you have just come
down from my brother-in-law?'
'No; I have not seen the squire as yet. I will do so before I go back,
of course. But it seemed such a commonplace sort of thing to go round by
'We are very glad to see you, by whatever way you came;--are we not,
mamma?' said Lily.
'I'm not so sure of that. We were only saying yesterday that as you had
been in the country a fortnight without coming to us, we did not think
we would be at home when you did come.'
'But I have caught you, you see,' said Johnny.
And so they went on, chatting of old times and of mutual friends very
comfortably for full an hour. And there was some serious conversation
about Grace's father and his affairs, and John declared his opinion that
Mr Crawley should go to his uncle, Thomas Toogood, not at all knowing
that at that time Mr Crawley himself had come to the same opinion. And
John gave them an elaborate description of Sir Raffle Buffle, standing
up with his back to the fire with his hat on his head, and speaking with
a loud harsh voice, to show them the way in which he declared that that
gentleman received his inferiors; and then bowing and scraping and
rubbing his hands together and simpering with would-be
softness--declared that after that fashion Sir Raffle received his
superiors. And they were very merry--so that no one would have thought
that Johnny was a despondent lover, now bent on throwing the dice for
his last stake; or that Lily was aware that she was in the presence of
one lover, and that she was like to fall on the ground between two
stools--having two lovers, neither of whom could serve her turn.
'How can you consent to serve him if he's such a man as that?' said
Lily, speaking of Sir Raffle.
'I do not serve him. I serve the Queen--or rather the public. I don't
take his wages, and he does not play his tricks with me. He knows that
he can't. He has tried it, and failed. And he only keeps me where I am
because I've had some money left me. He thinks it fine to have a private
secretary with a fortune. I know that he tells people all manner of lies
about it, making it out to be five times as much as it is. Dear old
Huffle Snuffle. He is such an ass; and yet he's had wit enough to get to
the top of the tree, and to keep himself there. He began the world
without a penny. Now he has got a handle to his name, and he'll live in
clover all his life. It's very odd, isn't it, Mrs Dale?'
'I suppose he does his work?'
'When men get so high as that, there's no knowing whether they work or
whether they don't. There isn't much left for them to do, as far as I
can see. They have to look beautiful, and frighten the young ones.'
'And does Sir Raffle look beautiful?' Lily asked.
'After a fashion he does. There is something imposing about such a man
till you're used to it, and can see through it. Of course it's all
padding. There are men who work, no doubt. But among the bigwigs, and
bishops and cabinet ministers, I fancy that the looking beautiful is the
chief part of it. Dear me, you don't mean to say it's luncheon time?'
But it was luncheon time, and not only had he not as yet said a word of
all that which he had come to say, but had not as yet made any move
towards getting it said. How was he to arrange that Lily should be left
alone with him? Lady Julia had said that she should not expect him back
till dinner-time, and he had answered her lackadaisically, 'I don't
suppose I shall be there above ten minutes. The minutes will say all
I've got to say, and do all I've got to do. And then I suppose I shall
go and cut names about bridges--eh, Lady Julia?' Lady Julia understood
the words; for once, upon a former occasion, she had found him cutting
Lily's name on the rail of a wooden bridge in her brother's grounds. But
he had now been a couple of hours at the Small House, and had not said a
word of that which he had come to say.
'Are you going to walk out with us after lunch?' said Lily.
'He will have had walking enough,' said Mrs Dale.
'We'll convoy him part of the way,' said Lily.
'I'm not going yet,' said Johnny, 'unless you turn me out.'
'But we must have our walk before it is dark,' said Lily.
'You might go up with him to your uncle,' said Mrs Dale. 'Indeed, I
promised to go up there myself, and so did you, Grace, to see the
microscope. I heard Mr Dale give orders that one of those long-legged
reptiles should be caught on purpose for your inspection.'
Mrs Dale's little scheme for bringing the two together was very
transparent, but it was not the less wise on that account. Schemes will
often be successful, let them be ever so transparent. Little intrigues
become necessary, not to conquer unwilling people, but people who are
willing enough, who, nevertheless, cannot give way except under the
machinations of an intrigue.
'I don't think I mind looking at the long-legged creature, today,' said
'I must go of course,' said Grace.
Lily said nothing at the moment, either about the long-legged creature
or the walk. That which must be, must be. She knew well why John Eames
had come there. She knew that the visits to his mother and to Lady Julia
would never have been made, but that he might have this interview. And
he had a right to demand, at any rate, as much as that. That which must
be, must be. And therefore when both Mrs Dale and Grace stoutly
maintained their purpose of going up to the squire, Lily neither
attempted to persuade John to accompany them nor said that she would do
'I will convoy you home myself,' she said, 'and Grace, when she has done
with the beetle, shall come and meet me. Won't you, Grace?'
'We are not helpless young ladies in these parts, nor yet timorous,'
continued Lily. 'We can walk about without being afraid of ghosts,
robbers, wild bulls, young men, or gypsies. Come the field path, Grace.
I will go as far as the big oak with him, and then I shall turn back,
and I shall come in by the stile opposite the church gate, and through
the garden. So you can't miss me.'
'I daresay he'll come back with you,' said Grace.
'No, he won't. He will do nothing of the kind. He'll have to go on and
open Lady Julia's bottle of port wine for his own drinking.'
All this was very good on Lily's part, and very good also on the part of
Mrs Dale; and John was of course very much obliged to them. But there
was a lack of romance in it all, which did not seem to him to argue well
as to his success. He did not think much about it, but he felt that Lily
would not have been so ready to arrange their walk had she intended to
yield to his entreaty. No doubt in these latter days plain good sense
had become the prevailing mark of her character--perhaps, as Johnny
thought, a little too strongly prevailing; but even with all her plain
good sense and determination to dispense with the absurdities of romance
in the affairs of her life, she would not have proposed herself as his
companion for a walk across the fields merely that she might have an
opportunity of accepting his hand. He did not say all this to himself,
but he instinctively felt that it was so. And he felt also that it
should have been his duty to arrange the walk, or the proper opportunity
for the scene that was to come. She had done it instead--she and her
mother between them, thereby forcing upon him a painful conviction that
he himself had not been equal to the occasion. 'I always make a mull of
it,' he said to himself, when the girls went up to get their hats.
They went down together through the garden, and parted where the paths
led away, one to the great house and the other towards the church. 'I'll
certainly come and call upon the squire before I go back to London,'
We'll tell him so,' said Mrs Dale. 'He would be sure to hear that you
had been with us, even if we said nothing about it.'
'Of course he would,' said Lily; 'Hopkins has seen him.' Then they
separated, and Lily and John Eames were together.
Hardly a word was said, perhaps not a word, till they had crossed the
road and got into the field opposite to the church. And in this first
field there was more than one path, and the children of the village were
often there, and it had about it something of a public nature. John
Eames felt that it was by no means a fitting field to say that which he
had to say. In crossing it, therefore, he merely remarked that the day
was very fine for walking. Then he added one special word, 'And it is so
good of you, Lily, to come with me.'
'I am very glad to come with you. I would do more than that, John, to
show how glad I am to see you.' Then they had come to the second little
gate, and beyond that the fields were really fields, and there were
stiles instead of wicket-gates, and the business of the day must be
'Lily, whenever I come here you say that you are glad to see me?'
'And so I am--very glad. Only you would take it as meaning what it does
not mean, I would tell you, that of all my friends living away from the
reach of my daily life, you are the one whose coming is ever the most
pleasant to me.'
'It was, I think, only yesterday that I was telling Grace that you are
more like a brother to me than anyone else. I wish it might be so. I
wish we might swear to be brother and sister. I'd do more for you then
than walk across the fields with you to Guestwick Cottage. Your
prosperity would then be the thing in the world for which I should be
most anxious. And if you should marry--'
'It can never be like that between us,' said Johnny.
'Can it not? I think it can. Perhaps not this year, or next year;
perhaps not in the next five years. But I make myself happy with
thinking that it may be so some day. I shall wait for it patiently, very
patiently, even though you should rebuff me again and again--as you have
'I have not rebuffed you.'
'Not maliciously, or injuriously, or offensively. I will be very
patient and take little rebuffs without complaining. This is the worst
of it all. When Grace and I are together we can never manage it without
tearing ourselves all to pieces. It is much nicer to have you to help
'Let me help you always,' he said, keeping her hands in his after he had
aided her to jump from the stile to the ground.
'Yes, as my brother.'
'That is nonsense, Lily.'
'Is it nonsense? Nonsense is a hard word.'
'It is nonsense as coming from you to me. Lily, I sometimes think that
I am persecuting you, writing to you, coming after you, as I am doing
now--telling the same whining story--asking, asking, and asking for that
which you say you will never give me. And then I feel ashamed of myself,
and swear that I will do it no more.'
'Do not be ashamed of yourself; but yet do it no more.'
'And then,' he continued, without minding her words, 'at other times I
feel that it must be my own fault; that if I only persevered with
sufficient energy, I must be successful. At such times I swear I will
never give it up.'
'Oh, John, if you could only know how little worthy of such pursuit it
'Leave me to be the judge of that, dear. When a man has taken a month,
or perhaps only a week, or perhaps not more than half-an-hour, to make
up his mind, it may be very well to tell him that he doesn't know what
he is about. I've been in the office now for over seven years, and the
first day I went I put an oath into a book that I would come back and
get you for my wife when I had got enough to live upon.'
'Did you, John?'
'Yes. I can show it to you. I used to come and hover about the place
in the old days, before I went up to London, when I was such a fool that
I couldn't speak to you if I met you. I am speaking of a time long
before--before that man came down here.'
'Do not speak of him, John.'
'I must speak of him. A man isn't to hold his tongue when everything he
has in the world is at stake. I suppose he loved you after a fashion,
'Pray, pray, do not speak ill of him, John.'
'I am not going to abuse him. You can judge of him by his deeds. I
cannot say anything worse of him than what they say. I suppose he loved
you; but he certainly did not love you as I have done. I have at any
rate been true to you. Yes, Lily, I have been true to you. I am true to
you. He did not know what he was about. I do. I am justified in saying
that I do. I want you to be my wife. It is no use your talking about it
as though I only half wanted it.'
'I did not say that.'
'Is not a man to have any reward? Of course if you had married him
there would have been an end of it. He had come in between me and my
happiness, and I must have borne it, as other men bear such sorrows. But
you have not married him; and, of course, I cannot but feel that I may
yet have a chance. Lily, answer me this. Do you believe that I love
you?' But she did not answer him. 'You can at any rate tell me that. Do
you think that I am in earnest?'
'Yes, I think you are in earnest.'
'And do you believe that I love you with all my heart and all my
strength and all my soul?'
'But do you?'
'I think you love me.'
'Think! What am I to say or to do to make you understand that my only
idea of happiness is the idea that sooner or later I may get you to be
my wife? Lily, will you say that it shall be so? Speak, Lily. There is
no one that will not be glad. Your uncle will consent--has consented.
Your mother wishes it. Bell wishes it. My mother wishes it. Lady Julia
wishes it. You would be doing what everybody around you wants you to do.
And why should you not do it? It isn't that you dislike me. You wouldn't
talk about being my sister, if you had not some sort of regard for me.'
'I have a regard for you.'
'Then why will you not be my wife? Oh, Lily, say the word now, here, at
once. Say the word, and you'll make me the happiest fellow in all
England.' As he spoke he took her by both arms, and held her fast. She
did not struggle to get away from him, but stood quite still, looking
into his face, while the first sparkle of a salt tear formed itself in
each eye. 'Lily, one little word will do it--half a word, a nod, a
smile. Just touch my arm with your hand and I will take it for a yes.' I
think that she almost tried to touch him; that the word was in her
throat, and that she almost strove to speak it. But there was no
syllable spoken, and her fingers did not loose themselves to fall upon
his sleeve. 'Lily, Lily, what can I say to you?'
'I wish I could,' she whispered;--but the whisper was so hoarse that he
hardly recognized the voice.
'And why can you not? What is there to hinder you? There is nothing to
hinder you, Lily.'
'Yes, John; there is that which must hinder me.'
'And what is it?'
'I will tell you. You are so good and so true, and so excellent--such
a dear, dear friend, that I will tell you everything, so that you may
read my heart. I will tell you as I tell mamma--you and her and no one
else;--for you are the choice friend of my heart. I cannot be your wife
because of the love I bear for another man.'
'And that man is he--he who came here?'
'Of course it is he. I think, Johnny, you and I are alike in this, that
when we have loved, we cannot bring ourselves to change. You will not
change, though it would be so much better you should do so.'
'No; I will never change.'
'Nor can I. When I sleep I dream of him. When I am alone I cannot
banish him from my thoughts. I cannot define what it is to love him. I
want nothing from him--nothing, nothing. But I move about through my
little world thinking of him, and I shall do so till the end. I used to
feel proud of my love, though it made me so wretched that I thought it
would kill me. I am not proud of it any longer. It is a foolish
poor-spirited weakness--as though my heart has been only half formed in
the making. Do you be stronger, John. A man should be stronger than a
'I have none of that sort of strength.'
'Nor have I. What can we do but pity each other, and swear that we will
be friends--dear friends. There is the oak-tree and I have got to turn
back. We have said everything that we can say--unless you will tell me
that you will be my brother.'
'No; I will not tell you that.'
'Good-bye, then, Johnny.'
He paused, holding her by the hand and thinking of another question
which he longed to put to her--considering whether he would ask her that
question or not. He hardly knew whether he were entitled to ask
it;--whether or no the asking of it would be ungenerous. She had said
that she would tell him everything--as she had told everything to her
mother. 'Of course,' he said, 'I have no right to expect to know
anything of your future intentions.'
'You may know them all--as far as I know them myself. I have said that
you should read my heart.'
'If this man, whose name I cannot bear to mention, should come again--'
'If he were to come again he would come in vain, John.' She did not say
that he had come again. She could tell her own secret, but not that of
'You would not marry him, now that he is free?'
She stood and thought for a while before she answered him. 'No, I
should not marry him now. I think not.' Then she paused again. 'Nay, I
am sure I would not. After what has passed, I could not trust myself to
do it. There is my hand on it. I will not.'
'No, Lily, I do not want that.'
'But I insist. I will not marry Mr Crosbie. But you must not
misunderstand me, John. There;--all that is over for me now. All those
dreams about love, and marriage, and of a house of my own, and
children--and a cross husband, and a wedding-ring growing always tighter
as I grow fat and older. I have dreamed of such things as other girls
do--more perhaps than other girls, more than I should have done. And now
I accept the thing as finished. You wrote something in your book, you
dear John--something that could not be made to come true. Dear John, I
wish for your sake it was otherwise. I will go home and I will write in
my book, this very day, Lily Dale, Old Maid. If ever I make that false,
do you come and ask me for the page.'
'Let it remain there till I am allowed to tear it for you.'
'I will write it, and it shall never be torn out. You I cannot marry.
Him I will not marry. You may believe me, Johnny, when I say there can
never be a third.'
'And is that to be the end of it?'
'Yes;--that is to be the end of it. Not the end of our friendship. Old
maids have friends.'
'It shall not be the end of it. There shall be no end of it with me.'
'Do not suppose that I will trouble you again--at any rate not for a
while. In five years perhaps--'
'Now, Johnny, you are laughing at me. And of course it is the best way.
If there is not Grace, and she has caught me before I have turned back.
Good-bye, dear John. God bless you. I think you the finest fellow in the
world. I do, and do does mamma. Remember always that there is a temple
at Allington in which your worship is never forgotten.' Then she pressed
his hand and turned away from him to meet Grace Crawley. John did not
stop to speak a word to his cousin, but pursued his way alone.
'That cousin of yours,' said Lily, 'is simply the dearest,
warmest-hearted, finest creature that ever was seen in the shape of a
'Have you told him that you think him so?' said Grace.
'Indeed, I have,' said Lily.
'But have you told this finest, warmest, dearest creature that he shall
be rewarded with the prize he covets?'
'No, Grace. I have told him nothing of the kind. I think he
understands it all now. If he does not, it is not for the want of my
telling him. I don't suppose any lady was ever more open-spoken to a
gentleman that I have been to him.'
'And why have you sent him away disappointed? You know you love him.'
'You see, my dear,' said Lily, 'you allow yourself, for the sake of your
argument, to use a word in a double sense, and you attempt to confound
me by doing so. But I am a great deal too clever for you, and have
thought too much about it, to be taken in in that way. I certainly love
your cousin John; and so do I love Mr Boyce, the vicar.'
'You love Johnny much better than you do Mr Boyce.'
'True; very much better; but it is of the same sort of love. However, it
is a great deal too deep for you to understand. You're too young, and I
shan't try to explain it. But the long and the short of it is--I am not
going to marry your cousin.'
'I wish you were,' said Grace, 'with all my heart.'
John Eames as he returned to the cottage was by no means able to fall
back upon those resolutions as to his future life, which he had formed
for himself and communicated to his friend Dalrymple, and which he had
intended to bring at once into force in the event of his being rejected
by Lily Dale. 'I will cleanse my mind of it altogether,' he had said,
'and though I may not forget her, I will live as though she were
forgotten. If she declines my proposal again, I will accept her word as
final. I will not go about the world any longer as a stricken deer--to
be pitied or else bullied by the rest of the herd.' On his way down to
Guestwick he had sworn twenty times that it should be so. He would make
one more effort, and then he would give it up. But now, after his
interview with Lily, he was as little disposed to give it up as ever.
He sat upon a gate in a paddock through which there was a back entrance
into Lady Julia's garden, and there swore a thousand oaths that he would
never give her up. He was, at any rate, sure that she would never become
the wife of anyone else. He was equally sure that he would never become
the husband of any other wife. He could trust her. Yes; he was sure of
that. But could he trust himself? Communing with himself, he told
himself that after all he was but a poor creature. Circumstances had
been very good to him, but he had done nothing for himself. He was vain,
and foolish, and unsteady. So he told himself while sitting upon the
gate. But he had, at any rate, been constant to Lily, and constant he
He would never more mention her name to anyone--unless it were to Lady
Julia tonight. To Dalrymple he would not open his mouth about her, but
would plainly ask his friend to be silent on that subject if her name
should be mentioned by him. But morning and evening he would pray for
her, and in his prayers he would always think of her as his wife. He
would never speak to another girl without remembering that he was bound
to Lily. He would go nowhere into society without recalling to mind the
fact that he was bound by the chains of a solemn engagement. If he knew
himself he would be constant to Lily.
And then he considered in what manner it would be best and most becoming
that he should still prosecute his endeavour and repeat his offer. He
thought that he would write to her every year, on the same day of the
year, year after year, it might be for the next twenty years. And his
letters would be very simple. Sitting there on the gate he planned the
wording of his letters;--of his first letter, and of his second, and of
his third. They should be very like to each other--should hardly be more
than a repetition of the same words. 'If now you are ready for me, then
Lily, am I, as ever, still ready for you.' And then, 'if now' again and
again, 'if now;--and still 'if now'. When his hair should be grey, and
the wrinkles on his cheeks--ay, though they should be on hers, he would
still continue to tell her from year to year that he was ready to take
her. Surely some day that 'if now' would prevail. And should it never
prevail, the merit of his constancy should be its own reward.
Such letters as those she would surely keep. Then he looked forward,
down into the valley of coming years, and fancied her as she might sit
reading them in the twilight of some long evening--letters which had
been written all in vain. He thought that he could look forward with
some satisfaction towards the close of his own career, in having been
the hero of such a love-story. At any rate, if such a story were to be
his story, the melancholy attached to it should arise from no fault of
his own. He would still press her to be his wife. And then as he
remembered that he was only twenty-seven and that she was twenty-four,
he began to marvel at the feeling of grey old age which had come upon
him, and tried to make himself believe that he would have her yet before
the bloom was off her cheeks.
He went into the cottage and made his way at once into the room in which
Lady Julia was sitting. She did not speak at first, but looked anxiously
about his face. And he did not speak, but turned to a table near the
window and took up a book--though the room was too dark for him to see
to read the words. 'John,' at last said Lady Julia.
'Well, my lady?'
'Have you nothing to tell me, John?'
'Nothing on earth--except the same old story, which has now become a
matter of course.'
'But, John, will you not tell me what she said?'
'Lady Julia, she has said no; simply no. It is a very easy word to say,
and she has said it so often that it seems to come from her quite
naturally.' Then he got a candle and sat down over the fire with a
volume of a novel. It was not yet past five, and Lady Julia did not go
upstairs to dress till six, and therefore there was an hour during which
they were together. John had at first been rather grand to his old
friend, and very uncommunicative. But before the dressing-bell had rung
he had been coaxed into a confidential strain and had told everything.
'I suppose it is wrong and selfish,' he said. 'I suppose I am a dog in a
manger. But I do own that there is a consolation to me in the assurance
that she will never be the wife of that scoundrel.'
'I could never forgive her if she were to marry him now,' said Lady
'I could never forgive him. But she has said that she will not, and I
know that she will not forswear herself. I shall go on with it, Lady
Julia. I have made up my mind to that. I suppose it will never come to
anything, but I shall stick to it. I can live an old bachelor as well as
another man. At any rate I shall stick to it.' Then the good silly old
woman comforted him and applauded him as though he were a hero among
men, and did reward him, as Lily had predicted, by one of those now rare
bottles of super-excellent port which had come to her from her brother's
John Eames stayed out his time at the cottage, and went over more than
once again to Allington, and called on the squire, on one occasion
dining with him and meeting the three ladies from the Small House; and
he walked with the girls, comporting himself like any ordinary man. But
he was not again alone with Lily Dale, nor did he learn whether she had
in truth written those two words in her book. But the reader may be know
that she did write them there on the evening of the day on which the
promise was made. 'Lilian Dale--Old Maid'.
And when John's holiday was over, he returned to his duties at the elbow
of Sir Raffle Buffle.
GRACE CRAWLEY RETURNS HOME
About this time Grace Crawley received two letters, the first of them
reaching her while John Eames was still at the cottage, and the other
immediately after his return to London. They both help to tell our
story, and our reader shall, therefore, read them if he so please--or,
rather, he shall read the first and as much of the second as is
necessary for him. Grace's answer to the first letter he shall see also.
Her answer to the second will be told in a very few words. The first was
from Major Grantly, and the task of answering that was by no means easy
'COSBY LODGE,--February, 186-
'I told you when I parted from you, that I should write to you,
and I think it best to do so at once, in order that you may
fully understand me. Spoken words are soon forgotten,'--'I
shall never forget his words,' Grace had said to herself as she
read this;--'and are not always as plain as they might be. Dear
Grace, I suppose I ought not to say so, but I fancied when I
parted from you at Allington, that I had succeeded in making
myself dear to you. I believe you to be so true in spirit, that
you were unable to conceal from me the fact that you love me. I
shall believe that it is so, till I am deliberately and
solemnly assured by yourself that it is not so;--and I conjure
you to think what is due both to yourself and to myself, before
you allow yourself to think of making such an assurance unless
it be strictly true.
'I have already told my friends that I have asked you to be my
wife. I tell you this, in order that you may know how little
effect your answer to me has had towards inducing me to give
you up. What you said about your father and your family has no
weight with me, and ought ultimately to have none with you.
This business of your father's great misfortune--so great, that
probably, had we not known each other before it happened, it
might have prevented our becoming intimate when we chanced to
meet. But we had met before it happened, and before it happened
I had determined to ask you to be my wife. What should I have
to think of myself if I allowed my heart to be altered by such
a cause as that?
'I have only further to say that I love you better than anyone
in the world, and that it is my best hope that you will be my
wife. I will not press you further till this affair of your
father's has been settled; but when that is over, I shall look
for my reward without reference to its result. Not that I doubt
the result if there be anything like justice in England; but
that your debt to me, if you owe me any debt, will be
altogether irrespective of that. If, as I suppose, you will
remain at Allington for some time longer, I shall not see you
till after the trial is over. As soon as that is done, I will
come to you wherever you are. In the meantime I shall look for
an answer to this; and if it be true that you love me, dear,
dear Grace, pray have the courage to tell me so.--Most
affectionately your own,
When the letter was given to Grace across the breakfast-table, both Mrs
Dale and Lily suspected that it came from Major Grantly, but not a word
was spoken about it. When Grace with hesitating hand broke the envelope,
neither of her friends looked at her. Lily had a letter of her own, and
Mrs Dale opened the newspaper. But still it was impossible not to
perceive that her face became red with blushes, and then they knew that
the letter must be from Major Grantly. Grace herself could not read it,
though her eye ran down over the two pages catching a word here and
there. She had looked at the name at once, and had seen the manner of
his signature. 'Most affectionately your own'! What was she to say to
him? Twice, thrice, as she sat at the breakfast-table she turned the
page of the letter, and at each turning she read the signature. And she
read the beginning, 'Dearest Grace'. More than that she did not really
read till she had got the letter away with her into the seclusion of her
Not a word was said about the letter at breakfast. Poor Grace went on
eating or pretending to eat, but could not bring herself to utter a
word. Mrs Dale and Lily spoke of various matters, which were quite
indifferent to them; but even with them the conversation was so
difficult that Grace felt it to be forced, and was conscious that they
were thinking about her and her lover. As soon as she could make an
excuse she left the room, and hurrying upstairs took the letter from her
pocket and read it in earnest.
'That was from Major Grantly, mamma,' said Lily.
'I daresay it was, my dear.'
'And what had we better do; or what had we better say?'
'Nothing--I should say. Let him fight his own battle. If we interfere,
we may probably only make her more stubborn in clinging to her old
'I think she will cling to it.'
'For a time she will, I daresay. And it will be the best that she
should. He himself will respect her for it afterwards.' Thus it was
agreed between them that they should say nothing to Grace about the
letter unless Grace should first speak to them.
Grace read her letter over and over again. It was the first love-letter
she had ever had;--the first letter she had ever received from any man
except her father and brother--the first, almost, that had ever been
written to her by any other than her own special friends. The words of
it were very strange to her ear. He had told her when he left her that
he would write to her, and therefore she had looked forward to the event
which had now come; but she had thought that it would be much more
distant--and she had tried to make herself believe that when it did
come it would be very different from this letter which she now
possessed. 'He will tell me that he has altered his mind. He ought to do
so. It is not proper that he should still think of me when we are in
such disgrace.' But now the letter had come, and she acknowledged the
truth of his saying that written words were clearer in their expression
than those simply spoken. 'Not that I could ever forget a syllable that
he said.' Yet, as she held the letter in her hand she felt that it was a
possession. It was a thing at which she could look in coming years, when
he and she might be far apart--a thing at which she could look with
pride in remembering that he had thought her worthy of it.
Neither on that day nor on the next did she think of her answer, nor on
the third or fourth day with any steady thinking. She knew that an
answer would have to be written, and she felt that the sooner it was
written the easier might be the writing; but she felt also that it
should not be written too quickly. A week should first elapse, she
thought, and therefore a week was allowed to elapse, and then the day
for writing her answer came. She had spoken no word about it either to
Mrs Dale or to Lily. She had longed to do so, but had feared. Even
though she should speak to Lily she could not be led by Lily's advice.
Her letter, whatever it might be, must be her own letter. She would
admit of no dictation. She must say her own say, let her say it ever so
badly. As to the manner of saying it, Lily's aid would have been
invaluable; but she feared that she could not secure that aid without
compromising her own power of action--her own individuality; and
therefore she said no word about the letter either to Lily or to Lily's
On a certain morning she fixed herself at her desk to write her letter.
She had known that the task would be difficult, but she had little known
how difficult it would be. On that day of her first attempt she did not
get it written at all. Now was she to begin? He had called her 'Dearest
Grace'; and this mode of beginning seemed as easy as it was sweet. 'It
is very easy for a gentleman,' she said to herself, 'because he may say
just what he pleases.' She wrote the words 'Dearest Henry,' on a scrap
of paper, and immediately tore it into fragments as though she was
ashamed of having written them. She knew that she would not dare to send
away a letter beginning with such words. She would not even have dared
to let such words in her own handwriting remain within the recesses of
her own little desk. 'Dear Major Grantly,' she began at length. It
seemed to her to be very ugly, but after much consideration she believed
it to be correct. On the second day the letter was written as follows:--
'MY DEAR MAJOR GRANTLY,
'I do not know how I ought to answer your kind letter, but I
must tell you that I am very much flattered by your great
goodness to me. I cannot understand why you should think so
much of me, but I suppose it is because you have felt for my
misfortunes. I will not say anything about what might have
happened, if it had not been for papa's sorrow and disgrace;
and as far as I can help it, I will not think of it; but I am
sure that I ought not to think about loving anyone, that is, in
the way you mean, while we are in such trouble at home. I
should not dare to meet any of your great friends, knowing that
I had brought nothing with me but disgrace. And I should feel
that I was doing an injury to dear Edith, which would be worse
to me than anything.
'Pray believe me that I am quite in earnest about this. I know
that a gentleman ought not to marry any girl to do himself and
his family an injury by it; and I know that if I were to make
such a marriage I should be unhappy ever afterwards, even
though I loved the man ever so dearly, with all my heart.'
These last words she had underscored at first, but the doing so
had been the unconscious expression of her own affection, and
had been done with no desire on her part to convey that
expression to him. But on reading the words she discovered
their latent meaning, and wrote it all again.
'Therefore I know that it will be best that I should wish you
good-bye, and I do so, thanking you again and again for your
goodness to me,--believe me to be, Yours very sincerely,
The letter when it was written was hateful to her; but she had tried her
hand at it again and again, and had found that she could do nothing
better. There was much in his letter that she had not attempted to
answer. He had implored her to tell him whether or no she did in truth
love him. Of course she loved him. He knew that well enough. Why should
she answer any such question? There was a way of answering it indeed
which might serve her turn--or rather serve his, of which she was
thinking more than of her own. She might say that she did not love him.
It would be a lie, and he would know it would be a lie. But still it
might serve the turn. She did not like the idea of writing such a lie as
that, but nevertheless she considered the matter. It would be very
wicked; but still, if it would serve the turn, might it not be well to
write it? But at last she reflected that, after all, the doing of the
thing was in her own hands. She could refuse to marry this man without
burdening her conscience with any lie about it. It only required that
she should be firm. She abstained, therefore, from the falsehood, and
left her lover's question unanswered. So she put up her letter and
directed it, and carried it herself to the village post-office.
On the day after this she got a second letter, and that she showed
immediately to Mrs Dale. It was from her mother, and was written to tell
that her father was seriously ill. 'He went up to London to see a lawyer
about this weary work of the trial,' said Mrs Crawley. 'The fatigue was
very great, and on the next day he was so weak that he could not leave
his bed. Dr Turner, who has been very kind, says that we need not
frighten ourselves, but he thinks it must be some time before he can
leave the house. He has a low fever on him, and wants nourishment. His
mind has wandered once or twice, and he has asked for you, and I think
it will be best, love, that you should come home. I know you will not
mind it when I say that I think he would like to have you here. Dr
Turner says that the illness is chiefly owing to his not having proper
Of course she would go home. 'Dear Mrs Dale,' she said; 'I must go
home. Can you send me to the station?' Then Mrs Dale read the letter. Of
course they would send her. Would she go on that day, or on the next?
Might it not be better to write first, and say that she was going? But
Grace would go at once. 'I know it will be a comfort to mamma; and I
know that he is worse than mamma says.' Of course there was no more to
be said, and she was despatched to the station. Before she went Mrs Dale
asked after her purse. 'If there is any trouble about money--for your
journey, or anything, you will not scruple to come to me as an old
friend.' But Grace assured her that there was no trouble about
money--for her journey. Then Lily took her aside and produced two clean
new five-pound notes. 'Grace, dear, you won't be ill-natured. You know I
have a little fortune of my own. You know I can give them without
missing them.' Grace threw herself into her friend's arms and wept, but
would have none of her money. 'Buy a present from me to your
mother--whom I love though I do not know her.' 'I will give her your
love,' Grace said, 'but nothing else.' And then she went.
Mr Dobbs Broughton and Mr Musselboro were sitting together on a certain
morning at their office in the City, discussing the affairs of their
joint business. The City office was a very poor place indeed, in
comparison with the fine house which Mr Dobbs occupied at the West End;
but then City offices are poor places, and there are certain City
occupations which seem to enjoy the greater credit the poorer are the
material circumstances by which they are surrounded. Turning out of a
lane which turns out of Lombard Street, there is a desolate,
forlorn-looking, dark alley, which is called Hook Court. The entrance to
this alley is beneath the first-floor of one of the houses in the lane,
and in passing under this covered way the visitor to the place finds
himself in a small paved square court, at the two further corners of
which there are two open doors; for in Hook Court there are only two
houses. There is No 1 Hook Court, and No 2 Hook Court. The entire
premises indicated by No 1 are occupied by a firm of wine and spirit
merchants, in connexion with whose trade one side and two angles of the
court are always lumbered with crates, hampers, and wooden cases. And
nearly in the middle of the court, though somewhat more to the
wine-merchant's side than to the other, there is always gaping open a
trap-door, leading down to the vaults below; and over the trap there is
a great board with a bright advertisement in very large letters:--
BURTON AND BANGLES
22s 6d per dozen
And this notice is so bright and so large, and the trap-door is so
conspicuous in the court, that no visitor, even to No 2, ever afterwards
can quite divest his memory of those names, Burton and Bangles, Himalaya
wines. It may therefore be acknowledged that Burton and Bangles have
achieved their object in putting up the notice. The house No 2, small as
it seems to be, standing in the jamb of a corner, is divided among
different occupiers, whose names are painted in small letters upon the
very dirty posts of the doorway. Nothing can be more remarkable than the
contrast between Burton and Bangles and these other City gentlemen in
the method taken by them in declaring their presence to visitors in the
court. The names of Dobbs Broughton and of A. Musselboro--the Christian
name of Mr Musselboro was Augustus--were on one of those dirty posts,
not joined together by any visible 'and', so as to declare boldly that
they were partners; but in close vicinity--showing at least that the two
gentlemen would be found in apartments very near to each other. And on
the first-floor of this house Dobbs Broughton and his friend did occupy
three rooms--or rather two rooms and a closet--between them. The larger
and front room was tenanted by an old clerk, who sat within a rail in
one corner of it. And there was a broad, short counter, which jutted out
from the wall into the middle of the room, intended for the use of such
of the public as might come to transact miscellaneous business with
Dobbs Broughton or Augustus Musselboro. But anyone accustomed to the
look of offices might have seen with half an eye that very little
business was ever done on that counter. Behind this large room was a
smaller one, belonging to Dobbs Broughton, in the furnishing and
arrangement of which some regard was paid to comfort. The room was
carpeted, and there was a sofa in it, though a very old one, and two
arm-chairs and a mahogany office-table, and a cellaret, which was
generally well supplied with wine which Dobbs Broughton did not get out
of the vaults of his neighbours, Burton and Bangles. Behind this again,
but with a separate entrance from the passage, was the closet; and this
closet was specially devoted to the use of Mr Musselboro. Closet as it
was--or cupboard as it might have almost been called--it contained a
table and two chairs; and it had a window of its own, which opened out
upon a blank wall which was distant from it not above four feet. As the
house to which this wall belonged was four storeys high, it would
sometimes happen that Mr Musselboro's cupboard was rather dark. But this
mattered the less as in these days Mr Musselboro seldom used it. Mr
Musselboro, who was very constant at his place of business--much more
constant than his friend Dobbs Broughton,--was generally to be found in
his friend's room. Only on some special occasions, on which it was
thought expedient that the commercial world should be made to understand
that Mr Augustus Musselboro had an individual existence of his own, did
that gentleman really seat himself in the dark closet. Mr Dobbs
Broughton, had he been asked what was his trade, would have said that he
was a stockbroker; and he would have answered truly, for he was a
stockbroker. A man may be a stockbroker though he never sells any stock;
as he may be a barrister though has not practiced at the bar. I do not
say that Mr Broughton never sold any stocks; but the buying and selling
of stock for other people was certainly not his chief business. And had
Mr Musselboro been asked what was his trade, he would have probably
given an evasive answer. At any rate in the City, and among people who
understood City matters, he would not have said that he was a
stockbroker. Both Mr Broughton and Mr Musselboro bought and sold a good
deal, but it was chiefly on account. The shares which were bought and
sold very generally did not pass from hand to hand; but the difference
in the price of the shares did do so. And then they had another little
business between them. They lent money on interest. And in this business
there was a third partner, whose name did not appear on the dirty
door-post. That third partner was Mrs Van Siever, the mother of Clara
Van Siever whom Mr Conway Dalrymple intended to portray as Jael driving
a nail into Sisera's head.
On a certain morning Mr Broughton and Mr Musselboro were sitting
together in the office which has been described. They were in Mr
Broughton's room, and occupied each arm-chair on the different sides of
the fire. Mr Musselboro was sitting close to the table, on which a
ledger was open before him, and he had a pen and ink before him, as
though he had been at work. Dobbs Broughton had a small betting-book in
his hand, and was seated with his feet up against the side of the
fire-place. Both men wore their hats, and the aspect of the room was not
the aspect of a place of business. They had been silent for some minutes
when Broughton took his cigar-case out of his pocket, and nibbled off
the end of a cigar, preparatory to lighting it.
'You had better not smoke here this morning, Dobbs,' said Musselboro.
'Why shouldn't I smoke in my own room?'
'Because she'll be here just now.'
'What do I care? If you think I'm going to be afraid of Mother Van,
you're mistaken. Let come what may, I'm not going to live under her
thumb.' So he lighted his cigar.
'All right,' said Musselboro, and he took up his pen and went to work at
'What is she coming her for this morning,' asked Broughton.
'To look after her money. What should she come for?'
'She gets her interest. I don't suppose there's better paid money in
'She hasn't got what was coming to her at Christmas yet.'
'And this is February. What would she have? She had better put her
dirty money into the three per cents, if she is frightened at having to
wait a week or two.'
'Can she have it today?'
'What, the whole of it? Of course she can't. You know that as well as
I do. She can have four hundred pounds, if she wants it. But seeing all
she gets out of the concern, she has no right to press for it in that
way. She is the----old usurer I ever came across in my life.'
'Of course she likes her money.'
'Likes her money! By George she does; her own and anybody else's that
she can get hold of. For a downright leech, recommend me always to a
woman. When a woman does go in for it, she is much more thorough than
any man.' Then Broughton turned over the little pages of his book, and
Musselboro pondered over the big pages of his book, and there was
silence for a quarter of an hour.
'There's something about nine hundred and fifteen pounds due to her,'
'I daresay there is.'
'It would be a very good thing to let her have it if you've got it. The
whole of it this morning, I mean.'
'If! Yes, if!' said Broughton.
'I know there's more than that at the bank.'
'And I'm to draw out every shilling that there is! I'll see Mother Van
---- further first. She can have 500 pounds if she likes it--and the
rest in a fortnight. Or she can have my note-of-hand for it all at
'She won't like that at all,' said Musselboro.
'Then she must lump it. I'm not going to bother myself about her. I've
pretty nearly as much money in it as she has, and we're in a boat
together. If she comes here bothering, you'd better tell her so.'
'You'll see her yourself?'
'Not unless she comes within the next ten minutes. I must go down to
the court. I said I'd be there by twelve. I've got somebody I want to
'I'd stay if I were you.'
'Why should I stay for her? If she thinks that I'm going to make myself
her clerk, she's mistaken. It may be all very well for you, Mussy, but
it won't do for me. I'm not dependent on her, and I don't want to marry
'It will simply end in her demanding to have her money back again.'
'And how will she get it?' said Dobbs Broughton. 'I haven't a doubt in
life but she'd take it tomorrow if she could put her hands upon it. And
then, after a bit, when she began to find that she didn't like four per
cent, she'd bring it back again. But nobody can do business after such a
fashion as that. For the last three years she's drawn close upon two
thousand a year for less than eighteen thousand pounds. When a woman
wants to do that, she can't have her money in her pocket every Monday
'But you've done better than that yourself, Dobbs.'
'Of course I have. And who has made the connexions; and who has done
the work? I suppose she doesn't think that I'm to have all the sweat and
that she is to have all the profit?'
'If you talk of work, Dobbs, it is I that have done the most of it.'
This Mr Musselboro said in a very serious voice, and with a look of much
'And you've been paid for what you've done. Come, Mussy, you'd better
not turn against me. You'll never get your change out of that. Even if
you marry the daughter, that won't give you the mother's money. She'll
stick to every shilling of it till she dies; and she'd take it with her
then, if she knew how.' Having said this, he got up from his chair, put
his little book into his pocket, and walked out of the office. He pushed
his way across the court, which was more than ordinarily crowded with
the implements of Burton and Bangles' trade, and as he passed under the
covered way he encountered at the entrance an old woman getting out of a
cab. The old woman was, of course, Mother Van, as her partner, Mr Dobbs
Broughton irreverently called her. 'Mrs Van Siever, how d'ye do? Let me
give you a hand. Fare from South Kensington? I always give the fellow
'You don't mean to tell me it's six miles!' And she tendered a florin
to the man.
'Can't take that, ma'am,' said the cabman.
'Can't take it! But you must take it. Broughton, just get a policeman,
will you?' Dobbs Broughton satisfied the driver out of his own pocket,
and the cab was driven away. 'What did you give him?' said Mrs Van
'Just another sixpence. There never is a policeman anywhere about
'It'll be out of your own pocket, then,' said Mrs Van. 'But you're not
'I must be at Capel Court by half-past twelve;--I must, indeed. If it
wasn't real business, I'd stay.'
'I told Musselboro, I should be here.'
'He's up there, and he knows all about the business just as well as I
do. When I found that I couldn't stay for you, I went through the
account with him, and it's all settled. Good morning. I'll see you at
the West End in a day or two.' Then he made his way out into Lombard
Street, and Mrs Van Siever picked her steps across the yard, and mounted
the stairs, and made her way into the room in which Mr Musselboro was
'Somebody's been smoking, Gus,' she said, almost as soon as she had
entered the room.
'That's nothing new here,' he replied, as he got up from his chair.
'There's no good being done when men sit and smoke over their work. Is
it you, or he, or both of you?'
'Well--it was Broughton was smoking just now. I don't smoke of a
'What made him get up and run away when I came?'
'How can I tell, Mrs Van Siever,' said Musselboro, laughing. 'If he did
run away when you came, I suppose it was because he didn't want to see
'And why shouldn't he want to see me? Gus, I expect the truth from you.
How are things going on here?' To this question Mr Musselboro made no
immediate answer; but tilted himself back in his chair and took his hat
off, and put his thumbs into the arm-holes of his waistcoat, and looked
his patroness full in the face. 'Gus,' she said again, 'I do expect the
truth from you. How are things going on here?'
'There'd be a good business--if he'd only keep things together.'
'But he's idle. Isn't he idle?'
'Confoundedly idle,' said Musselboro.
'And he drinks;--don't he drink in the day?'
'Like the mischief--some days. But that isn't the worst of it.'
'And what is the worst of it?'
'Newmarket;--that's the rock he's going to pieces on.'
'You don't mean to say he takes the money out of the business for that?'
And Mrs Van Siever's face, as she asked the question, expressed almost a
tragic horror. 'If I thought that I wouldn't give him an hour's mercy.'
'When a man bets he doesn't well know what money he uses. I can't say
that he takes money that is not his own. Situated as I am, I don't know
what is his own and what isn't. If your money was in my name I could
keep a hand on it;--but as it is not I can do nothing. I can see that
what is put out is put out fairly well; and when I think of it, Mrs Van
Siever, it is quite wonderful that we've lost so little. It has been
next to nothing. That has been my doing--and that's about all I can do.'
'You must know whether he has used my money for his own purposes or
'If you ask me, I think he has,' said Mr Musselboro.
'Then I'll go into it, and I'll find it out, and if it is so, as sure as
my name's Van Siever, I'll sew him up.' Having uttered which terrible
threat, the old woman drew a chair to the table and seated herself
fairly down, as though she were determined to go through all the books
of the office before she quitted that room. Mrs Van Siever in her
present habiliments was not a thing so terrible to look at as she had
been in her wiggeries at Mrs Dobbs Broughton's dinner-table. Her curls
were laid aside altogether, and she wore simply a front beneath her
close bonnet--and a very old front, too, which was not loudly offensive
because it told no lies. Her eyes were as bright, and her little wizen
face was as sharp as ever; but the wizen face and the bright eyes were
not so much amiss as seen together with the old dark brown silk dress
which she now wore, as they had been with the wiggeries and the evening
finery. Even now, in her morning costume, in her work-a-day business
dress, as we may call it, she looked to be very old--so old that nobody
could guess her age. People attempting to guess would say that she must
be at least over eighty. And yet she was wiry, and strong, and nimble.
It was not because she was feeble that she was thought to be old. They
who so judged of her were led to their opinion by the extreme thinness
of her face, and by the brightness of her eyes, joined to the depth of
the hollows in which they lay, and the red margin by which they were
surrounded. It was not really the fact that Mrs Van Siever was so very
aged, for she had still some years to live before she would reach
eighty, but that she was such a weird old woman, so small, so ghastly,
and so ugly! 'I'll sew him up, if he's robbing me,' she said. 'I will
indeed!' And she stretched out her hand to grab at the ledger which
Musselboro had been using.
'You won't understand anything from that,' said he, pushing the book
over to her.
'You can explain it to me.'
'That's all straight sailing, that is.'
'And where does he keep the figures that aren't straight sailing? That's
the book I want to see.'
'There is no such book.'
'Look here, Gus--if I find you deceiving me I'll throw you overboard as
sure as I'm a living woman. I will indeed. I'll have no mercy. I've
stuck to you, and made a man of you, and I expect you to stick to me.'
'Not much of a man,' said Musselboro, with a touch of scorn in his
'You've never had a shilling yet but what I gave you.'
'Yes; I have. I've had what I've worked for--and worked confounded hard
'Look here, Musselboro; if you're going to throw me over, just tell me
so, and let us begin fair.'
'I'm not going to throw you over. I've always been on the square with
you. Why don't you trust me out and out, and then I could do a deal
better for you. You ask me now about your money. I don't know about your
money, Mrs Van Siever. How am I to know anything about your money, Mrs
Van Seiver? You don't give me any power of keeping a hand upon Dobbs
Broughton. I suppose you have security from Dobbs Broughton, but I don't
know what security you have, Mrs Van Siever. He owes you now 915 pounds
16s 2d on last year's account!'
'Why doesn't he give me a cheque for the money?'
'He says he can't spare it. You may have 500 pounds, and the rest when
he can give it to you. Or he'll give you his note-of-hand at fourteen
days on the whole.'
'Bother the note-of-hand. Why should I take his note-of-hand?'
'Do as you like, Mrs Van Siever.'
'It's the interest on my own money. Why don't he give it me? I suppose
he has had it.'
'You must ask him that, Mrs Van Siever. You're in partnership with him,
and he can tell you. Nobody knows anything about it. If you were in
partnership with me, then of course I could tell you. But you're not.
You've never trusted me, Mrs Van Siever.'
The lady remained there closeted with Mr Musselboro for an hour after
that, and did, I think, at length learn something more as to the details
of her partner's business than her faithful servant Mr Musselboro had at
first found himself able to give to her. And at last they came to
friendly and confidential terms, in the midst of which the personal
welfare of Mr Dobbs Broughton was, I fear, somewhat forgotten. Not that
Mr Musselboro palpably and plainly threw his friend overboard. He took
his friend's part--alleging excuses for him, and pleading some facts.
'Of course, you know, a man like that is fond of pleasure, Mrs Van
Siever. He's been at it more or less all his life. I don't suppose he
ever missed a Derby or an Oaks, or the cup at Ascot, or the Goodwood in
his life.' 'He'll have to miss them before long, I'm thinking,' said Mrs
Van Siever. 'And as to not cashing up, you must remember, Mrs Van
Siever, that ten per cent won't come in quite as regularly as four or
five. When you go for high interest, there must be hitches here and
there. There must, indeed, Mrs Van Siever.' 'I know all about it,' said
Mrs Van Siever. 'If he gave it to me as soon as he got it himself, I
shouldn't complain. Never mind. He's only got to give me my little bit
of money out of the business, and then he and I will be all square. You
come and see Clara this evening, Gus.'
Then Mr Musselboro put Mrs Van Siever into another cab, and went out
upon the 'Change--hanging about the Bank, and standing in Threadneedle
Street, talking to other men just like himself. When he saw Dobbs
Broughton he told that gentleman that Mrs Van Siever had been in her
tantrums, but that he had managed to pacify her before she left Hook
Court. 'I'm to take the cheque for the five hundred tonight,' he said.
On the first of March, Conway Dalrymple's easel was put up in Mrs Dobbs
Broughton's boudoir upstairs, the canvas was placed upon it on which the
outlines of Jael and Sisera had been already drawn, and Mrs Broughton
and Clara Van Siever and Conway Dalrymple were assembled with the view
of steady art-work. But before we see how they began their work
together, we will go back for a moment to John Eames on his return to
his London lodgings. The first thing every man does when he returns home
after an absence, is to look for his letters, and John Eames looked at
his. There were not very many. There was a note marked immediate from
Sir Raffle Buffle, in which Sir R had scrawled in four lines a
notification that he should be driven to an extremity of inconvenience
if Eames were not at his post at half-past nine on the following
morning. 'I think I see myself there at that hour,' said John. There was
a notification of a house dinner, which he was asked to join, at his
club, and a card for an evening gathering at Lady Glencora
Palliser's--procured for him by his friend Conway--and an invitation for
dinner at the house of his uncle Mr Toogood; and there was a scented
note in the handwriting of a lady, which he did not recognise. 'My
dearest, dearest friend, M D M,' he said, as he opened the note and
looked at the signature. Then he read the letter from Miss Demolines.
'MY DEAR MR EAMES,
'Pray come to me at once. I know that you are to be back
tomorrow. Do not lose an hour if you can help it. I shall
be at home at half-past five. I fear what you know of has begun.
But it certainly shall not go on. In one way or another it
must be prevented. I won't say another word till I see you,
but pray come at once--Yours always,
M D M'
'Poor mother isn't very well, so you had better ask for me.'
'Beautiful!' said Johnny, as he read the note. 'There's nothing I like
so much as a mystery--especially if it's about nothing. I wonder why she
is so desperately anxious that the picture should not be painted. I'd
ask Dalrymple, only I should spoil the mystery.' Then he sat himself
down, and began to think of Lily. There could be no treason to Lily in
his amusing himself with the freaks of such a woman as Miss Demolines.
At eleven o'clock on the morning of the first of March--the day
following that on which Miss Demolines had written her note--the easel
was put up and the canvas was placed on it in Mrs Broughton's room. Mrs
Broughton and Clara were both there, and when they had seen the outlines
as far as it had been drawn, they proceeded to make arrangements for
their future operations. The period of work was to begin always at
eleven, and was to be continued for an hour and a half or for two hours
on the days on which they met. I fear that there was a little improper
scheming in this against the two persons whom the ladies were bound to
obey. Mr Dobbs Broughton invariably left his house after ten in the
morning. It would sometimes happen, though not frequently, that he
returned home early in the day--at four perhaps, or even before that;
and should he chance to do so while the picture was going on, he would
catch them at their work if the work were postponed till after luncheon.
And then again Mrs Van Siever would often go out in the morning, and
when she did so, would always go without her daughter. On such occasion
she went into the City, or to other resorts of business, at which, in
some manner quite unintelligible to her daughter, she looked after her
money. But when she did not go out in the morning, she did go out in the
afternoon, and she would then require her daughter's company. There was
some place to which she always went of a Friday morning, and at which
she stayed for two or three hours. Friday therefore was a fitting day on
which to begin the work at Mrs Broughton's house. All this was explained
between the three conspirators. Mrs Dobbs Broughton declared that if she
entertained the slightest idea that her husband would object to the
painting of the picture in her room, nothing on earth would induce her
to lend her countenance to it; but yet it might be well not to tell him
just at first, perhaps not till the sittings were over--perhaps not till
the picture was finished; as otherwise, tidings of the picture might get
round to ears which were not intended to hear it. 'Poor dear Dobbs is so
careless with a secret.' Miss Van Siever explained her motives in a
different way. 'I know mamma would not let me do it if she knew it; and
therefore I shall not tell her.' 'My dear Clara,' said Mrs Broughton
with a smile 'you are so outspoken!' 'And why not?' said Miss Van
Siever. 'I am old enough to judge for myself. If mamma does not want me
to be deceived, she ought not to treat me as a child. Of course she'll
find it out sooner or later; but I don't care about that.' Conway
Dalrymple said nothing as the two ladies were thus excusing themselves.
'How delightful it must be not to have a master,' said Mrs Broughton,
addressing him. 'But then a man has to work for his own bread,' said he.
'I suppose it comes about equal in the long run.'
Very little drawing or painting was done on that day. In the first
place it was necessary that the question of costume should be settled,
and both Mrs Broughton and the artist had much to say on that subject.
It was considered proper that Jael should be dressed as a Jewess, and
there came to be much question how Jewesses dressed themselves in those
very early days. Mrs Broughton had prepared her jewels and raiment of
many colours, but the painter declared that the wife of Heber the Kenite
would have no jewels. But when Mrs Broughton discovered from her Bible
that Heber had been connected by family ties with Moses, she was more
than ever sure that Heber's wife would have much in her tent of the
spoilings of the Egyptians. And when Clara Van Siever suggested that at
any rate she would not have worn them in a time of confusion when
soldiers were loose, flying about the country, Mrs Broughton was quite
confident that she would have put them on before she invited the captain
of the enemy's host into her tent. The artist at last took the matter
into his own hand, by declaring that Miss Van Siever would sit the
subject much better without jewels, and therefore all Mrs Broughton's
gewgaws were put back into their boxes. And then on four different times
the two ladies had to retire into Mrs Broughton's room in order that
Jael might be arrayed in various costumes--and in each costume she had
to kneel down, taking the hammer in her hand, and holding the pointed
stick which had been prepared to do duty as the nail, upon the forehead
of the dummy Sisera. At last it was decided that her raiment should be
altogether white, and that she should wear, twisted round her head and
falling over her shoulder, a Roman silk scarf of various colours. 'Where
Jael could have gotten it I don't know,' said Clara. 'You may be sure that
there were lots of such things among the Egyptians,' said Mrs Broughton,
'and that Moses brought away all the best for his own family.'
'And who is to be Sisera?' asked Mrs Broughton in one of the pauses in
'I'm thinking of asking my friend John Eames to sit.'
'Of course we cannot sit together,' said Miss Van Siever.
'There's no reason why you should,' said Dalrymple. 'I can do the
second figure in my own room.' Then there was a bargain made that Sisera
should not be a portrait. 'It would never do,' said Mrs Broughton,
shaking her head very gravely.
Though there was really very little done to the picture on that day, the
work was commenced; and Mrs Broughton, who had at first objected
strongly to the idea, and who had said twenty times that it was quite
out of the question that it should be done her house, became very eager
in her delight about it. Nobody should know anything of the picture till
it should be exhibited. That would be best. And it should be the picture
of the year! She was a little heart-broken when Dalrymple assured her
that it could not possible be finished for exhibition in that May; but
she came to again when he declared that he meant to put out all his
strength upon it. 'There will be five or six months' work in it,' he
said. 'Will there, indeed? And how much work was there in "The Graces"?'
'The Graces', as will perhaps be remembered, was the triple portrait of
Mrs Dobbs Broughton herself. This question the artist did not answer
with absolute accuracy, but contented himself with declaring that with
such a model as Mrs Broughton the picture had been comparatively easy,
Mrs Broughton, having no doubt that ultimate object of which she had
spoken to her friend Conway steadily in view, took occasion before the
sitting was over to leave the room, so that the artist might have an
opportunity of speaking a word in private to his model--if he had any
such word to speak. And Mrs Broughton, as she did this, felt that she
was doing her duty as a wife, a friend, and a Christian. She was doing
her duty as a wife, because she was giving the clearest proof in the
world--the clearest at any rate to herself--that the intimacy between
herself and her friend Conway had in it nothing that was improper. And
she was doing her duty as a friend, because Clara Van Siever, with her
large expectations, would be an eligible wife. And she was doing her
duty as a Christian, because the whole thing was intended to be moral.
Miss Demolines had declared that her friend Maria Clutterbuck--as Miss
Demolines delighted to call Mrs Broughton, in memory of dear old
innocent days--had high principles; and the reader will see that she was
justified in her declaration. 'It will be better so,' said Mrs
Broughton, as she sat upon her bed and wiped a tear from the corner of
her eye. 'Yes; it will be better so. There is a pang. Of course there's
a pang. But it will be better so.' Acting upon this high principle, she
allowed Conway Dalrymple five minutes to say what he had to say to Clara
Van Siever. Then she allowed herself to indulge in some very savage
feelings in reference to her husband--accusing her husband in her
thoughts of great cruelty--nay, of brutality, because of certain sharp
words that he had said as to Conway Dalrymple. 'But of course he can't
understand,' said Mrs Broughton to herself. 'How is it to be expected
that he should understand?'
But she allowed her friend on this occasion only five minutes, thinking
probably that so much time might suffice. A woman, when she is jealous,
is apt to attribute to other woman with whom her jealousy is concerned,
both weakness and timidity, and to the man both audacity and strength. A
woman who has herself taken perhaps twelve months in the winning, will
think that another woman is to be won in five minutes. It is not to be
supposed that Mrs Dobbs Broughton had ever been won by anyone except Mr
Dobbs Broughton. At least, let it not be supposed that she had ever
acknowledged a spark of love for Conway Dalymple. But nevertheless there
was enough of jealousy in her present mood to make her think poorly of
Miss Van Siever's capacity for standing a siege against the artist's
eloquence. Otherwise, having left the two together with the object which
she had acknowledged to herself, she would hardly have returned to them
after so short an interval.
'I hope you won't dislike the trouble of all this?' said Dalrymple to
his model, as soon as Mrs Broughton was gone.
'I cannot say that I like it very much,' said Miss Van Siever.
'I'm afraid it will be a bore;--but I hope you'll go through with it.'
'I shall if I am not prevented,' said Miss Van Siever. 'When I've said
that I'll do a thing, I like to do it.'
There was a pause in the conversation which took up a considerable
portion of the five minutes. Miss Van Siever was not holding her nail
during those moments, but was sitting in a commonplace way on her chair,
while Dalrymple was scraping his palette. 'I wonder what it was that
first induced you to sit?' said he.
'Oh, I don't know. I took a fancy for it.'
'I'm very glad you did take the fancy. You'll make an excellent model.
If you won't mind posing again for a few minutes--I will not weary you
today. Your right arm a little more forward.'
'But I should tumble down.'
'Not if you lean well on the nail.'
'But that would have woken Sisera before she had struck a blow.'
'Never mind. Let us try it.' Then Mrs Broughton returned, with that
pleasant feeling in her bosom of having done her duty as a wife, friend,
and a Christian. 'Mrs Broughton,' continued the painter, 'just steady
Miss Van Siever's shoulder with your hand; and now bring the arm and the
elbow a little more forward.'
'But Jael did not have a friend to help her in that way,' said Miss Van
At the end of an hour and a half the two ladies retired, and Jael
disrobed herself, and Miss Van Siever put on her customary raiment. It
was agreed among them that they had commenced their work auspiciously,
and that they would meet again on the following Monday. The artist
begged to be allowed an hour to go on with his work in Mrs Broughton's
room, and thus the hour was conceded to him. It was understood that he
could not take the canvas backwards and forwards with him to his own
house, and he pointed out that no progress whatever could be made,
unless he were occasionally allowed some such grace as this. Mrs
Broughton doubted and hesitated, made difficulties, and lifted up her
hands in despair. 'It is easy for you to say, Why not? but I know very
well why not?' But at last she gave way. 'Honi soit qui mal y pense,'
she said; 'that must be my protection.' So she followed Miss Van Siever
downstairs, leaving Mr Dalrymple in possession of her boudoir. 'I shall
give you just one hour,' she said, 'and then I shall come and turn you
out.' So she went down, and, as Miss Van Siever would not stay to lunch
with her, she ate her lunch by herself, sending a glass of sherry and a
biscuit up to the poor painter at his work.
Exactly at the end of the hour she returned to him. 'Now, Conway, you
must go,' she said.
'But why in such a hurry?'
'Because I say that it must be so. When I say so, pray let that be
sufficient.' But still Dalrymple went on painting.
'Conway,' she said, 'how can you treat me with such disdain?'
'Disdain, Mrs Broughton!'
'Yes, disdain. Have I not begged you to understand that I cannot allow
you to remain here, and yet you pay no attention to my wishes.'
'I have done now'; and he began to put his brushes and paints together.
'I suppose all these things may remain here?'
'Yes; they may remain. They must do so, of course. There; if you will
put the easel in the corner, with the canvas behind it, they will not be
seen if he should chance to come into the room.'
'He would not be angry, I suppose, if he should see them?'
'There is no knowing. Men are so unreasonable. All men are, I think.
All those are whom I have had the fortune to know. Women generally say
that men are selfish. I do not complain so much that they are selfish as
that they are thoughtless. They are headstrong and do not look forward
to results. Now you--I do not think you would willingly do me an
'I do not think I would.'
'I am sure you would not;--but yet you would forget to save me from
'Oh, never mind. I am not thinking of anything in particular. From
myself, for instance. But we will not talk about that. That way madness
lies. Tell me, Conway;--what do you think of Clara Van Siever?'
'She is very handsome, certainly.'
'Decidedly clever. I should think she has a temper of her own.'
'What woman is there worth a straw that has not? If Clara Van Siever
were ill-used, she would resent it. I do not doubt that for a moment. I
should not like to be the man who would do it.'
'Nor I, either,' said Conway.
'But there is plenty of feminine softness in that character, if she were
treated with love and kindness. Conway, if you will take my advice you
will ask Clara Van Siever to be your wife. But perhaps you have
'I have not done it yet, certainly, Mrs Broughton.'
'And why should you not do it?'
'There are two or three reasons;--but perhaps none of any great
importance. Do you know of none, Mrs Broughton?'
'I know of none,' said Mrs Broughton in a very serious--in almost a
tragic tone;--'of none that should weigh for a moment. As far as I am
concerned, nothing would give me more pleasure.'
'That is so kind of you!'
'I mean to be kind. I do, indeed, Conway. I know it will be better for
you that you should be settled--very much better. And it will be better
for me. I do not mind admitting that;--though in saying so I trust
greatly to your generosity to interpret my words properly.'
'I shall not flatter myself, if you mean that.'
'There is no question of flattery, Conway. The question is simply of
truth and prudence. Do you not know that it would be better for yourself
that you should be married?'
'Not unless a certain gentleman were to die first,' said Conway
Dalrymple, as he deposited the last of his painting paraphernalia in the
recess which had been prepared for them by Mrs Broughton.
'Conway, how can you speak in that wicked, wicked way?'
'I can assure that I do not wish the gentleman in question the slightest
harm in the world. If his welfare depended on me, he should be safe as
the Bank of England.'
'And you will not take my advice?'
'Mrs Broughton, matrimony is a very important thing.'
'Indeed, it is;--oh, who can say how important! There was a time,
Conway, when I thought that you had given your heart to Madelina
'And I grieved, because I thought that she was not worthy of you.'
'There was never anything in that, Mrs Broughton.'
'She thought that there was. At any rate, she said so. I know that for
certain. She told me so herself. But let that pass. Clara Van Siever is
in every respect very different from Madalina. Clara, I think, is worthy
of you. And Conway--of course it is not for me to dictate to you; but
this I must tell you--'
'What must you tell me?'
'I will tell you nothing more. If you cannot understand what I have
said, you must be more dull of comprehension than I believe you to be.
Now go. Why are you not gone this half-hour?'
'How could I go while you were giving me all this good advice?'
'I have not asked you to stay. Go now, at any rate. And, remember,
Conway, if this picture is to go on, I will not have you remaining here
after the work is done. Will you remember that?' And she held him by the
hand while he declared that he would remember it.
Mrs Dobbs Broughton was no more in love with Conway Dalrymple than she
was in love with King Charles on horseback at Charing Cross. And, over
and beyond the protection which came to her in the course of nature from
impassioned feelings in this special phase of her life--and indeed, if I
may say, in every phase of her life--it must be acknowledged on her
behalf that she did enjoy that protection which comes from what we call
principle--though the principle was not perhaps very high of its kind.
Madalina Demolines had been right when she talked of her friend Maria's
principles. Dobbs Broughton had been so far lucky in that jump in the
dark which he had made in taking a wife to himself, that he had not fallen
upon a really vicious woman, or upon a woman of strong feeling. It had
come to be the lot of Mrs Dobbs Broughton to have six hours' work every
day of her life, I think that the work would have been done badly, but
that it would have kept her free from all danger. As it was she had
nothing to do. She had no child. She was not given to much reading. She
could not sit with a needle in her hand all day. She had no aptitude for
May meetings, or the excitement of charitable good works. Life with her
was very dull, and she found no amusement within her reach so easy and
so pleasant as the amusement of pretending to be in love. If all that
she did and all that she said could only have been taken for its worth
and for nothing more, by the different persons concerned, there was very
little in it to flatter Mr Dalrymple or to give cause for tribulation to
Mr Broughton. She probably cared but little for either of them. She was
one of those women to whom it is not given by nature to care very much
for anybody. But, of the two, she certainly cared the most for Mr Dobbs
Broughton--because Mr Dobbs Broughton belonged to her. As to leaving Mr
Dobbs Broughton's house, and putting herself into the hands of another
man--no Imogen of a wife was ever less likely to take step so wicked, so
dangerous, and so generally disagreeable to all the parties concerned.
But Conway Dalrymple--though now and again he had got a side glance at
her true character with a clear-seeing eye--did allow himself to be
flattered and deceived. He knew that she was foolish and ignorant, and
that she often talked wonderful nonsense. He knew also that she was
continually contradicting herself--as when she would strenuously beg him
to leave her, while she would continue to talk to him in a strain that
prevented the possibility of his going. But, nevertheless, he was
flattered, and he did believe that she loved him. As to his love for
her--he knew very well that it amounted to nothing. Now and again,
perhaps, twice a week, if he saw her as often, he would say something
which would imply a declaration of affection. He felt that as much as
that was expected from him, and that he ought not to hope to get off
cheaper. And now that this little play was going on about Miss Van
Siever, he did think that Mrs Dobbs Broughton was doing her very best to
overcome an unfortunate attachment. It is so gratifying to a young man's
feelings to suppose that another man's wife has conceived an unfortunate
attachment for him! Conway Dalrymple ought not to have been fooled by
such a woman; but I fear that he was fooled by her.
As he returned home today from Mrs Broughton's house to his own lodgings
he rambled out for a while into Kensington Gardens, and thought of his
position seriously. 'I don't see why I should not marry her,' he said to
himself, thinking of course of Miss Van Siever. 'If Maria is not in
earnest it is not my fault. And it would be my wish that she should be
in earnest. If I suppose her to be so, and take her at her word, she can
have no right to quarrel with me. Poor Maria! At any rate it will be
better for her, for no good can come of this kind of thing. And, by
heavens, with a woman like that, of strong feelings, one never knows
what may happen.' And then he thought of the condition he would be in,
if he were to find her some fine day in his own rooms, and if she were
to tell him that she could not go home again, and that she meant to
remain with him!
In the meantime Mrs Dobbs Broughton has gone down into her own
drawing-room, had tucked herself up on the sofa, and had fallen fast
A NEW FLIRTATION
John Eames sat at his office on the day after his return to London, and
answered the various letters which he had found waiting for him at his
lodgings on the previous evening. To Miss Demolines he had already
written from his club, a single line, which he considered to be
appropriate to the mysterious necessities of the occasion. 'I will be
with you at a quarter to six tomorrow.--J E. Just returned.' There was
not another word; and as he scrawled it at one of the club tables while
two or three other men were talking to him, he felt rather proud of his
correspondence. 'It was capital fun,' he said; 'and after all'--the
'all' on this occasion being Lily Dale, and the sadness of his
disappointment at Allington--'after all, let a fellow be ever so down in
the mouth, a little amusement should do him good.' And he reflected
further that the more a fellow be 'down in the mouth', the more good the
amusement would do him. He sent off his note, therefore, with some
little inward rejoicing--and a word of two also of spoken rejoicing.
'What fun women are sometimes,' he said to one of his friends--a friend
with whom he was very intimate, calling him always Fred, and slapping
his back, but whom he never by any chance saw out of his club.
'What up to now, Johnny? Some good fortune?'
'Good fortune, no. I never saw good fortune of that kind. But I've got
hold of a young woman--or rather a young woman has got hold of me, who
insists on having mystery with me. In the mystery itself there is not
the slightest interest. But the mysteriousness of it is charming. I have
just written to her three words to settle an appointment for tomorrow.
We don't sign our names lest the Postmaster General should find out
'Is she pretty?'
'Well;--she isn't ugly. She has just enough of good looks to make the
sort of thing pass off pleasantly. A mystery with a downright ugly young
woman would be unpleasant.'
After this fashion the note from Miss Demolines had been received, and
answered at once, but the other letters remained in his pocket till he
reached his office on the following morning. Sir Raffle had begged him
to be there at half-past nine. This he had sworn he would not do; but he
did seat himself in his room at ten minutes before ten, finding of
course the whole building untenanted at that early hour--that unearthly
hour, as Johnny called it himself. 'I shouldn't wonder if he really is
here this morning,' Johnny said, as he entered the building, 'just that
he may have the opportunity of jumping on me.' But Sir Raffle was not
there, and then Johnny began to abuse Sir Raffle. 'If I ever come here
early to meet him again, because he says he means to be here himself, I
hope I may be--blessed.' On that especial morning it was twelve before
Sir Raffle made his appearance, and Johnny avenged himself--I regret to
have to tell it--by a fib. That Sir Raffle fibbed first, was no valid
excuse whatever for Eames.
'I've been at it ever since six o'clock,' said Sir Raffle.
'At what?' said John.
'Work, to be sure;--and very hard work too. I believe the Chancellor of
the Exchequer thinks that he can call upon me to any extent that he
pleases;--just any extent that he pleases. He doesn't give me credit for
a desire to have a single hour to myself.'
'What would he do, Sir Raffle, if you were to get ill, or wear yourself
'He knows I'm not one of the wearing-out sort of men. You got my note
'Yes; I got your note.'
'I'm sorry that I troubled you; but I couldn't help it. I didn't expect
to get a box full of papers at eleven o'clock last night.'
'You didn't put me out, Sir Raffle; I happened to have business of my
own which prevented the possibility of my being here early.'
This was the way in which John Eames avenged himself. Sir Raffle turned
his face upon his private secretary, and his face was very black. Johnny
bore the gaze without dropping an eyelid. 'I'm not going to stand it,
and he may as well know that at once,' Johnny said to one of his friends
in the office afterwards. 'If he ever wants anything really done, I'll
do it;--though it should take me twelve hours at a stretch. But I'm not
going to pretend to believe all the lies he tells me about the
Chancellor of the Exchequer. If that is to be part of the private
secretary's business, he had better get somebody else.' But now Sir
Raffle was very angry, and his countenance was full of wrath as he
looked down upon his subordinate minister. 'If I had come here, Mr
Eames, and had found you absent, I should have been very much annoyed,
very much annoyed indeed, after having written as I did.'
'You would have found me absent at the hour you named. As I wasn't
there then, I think it's only fair to say so.'
'I'm afraid you begrudge your time to the service, Mr Eames.'
'I do begrudge it when the service doesn't want it.'
'At your age, Mr Eames, that's not for you to judge. If I had acted in
that way when I was young I should never have filled the position I now
hold. I always remembered in those days that as I was the hand and not
the head, I was bound to hold myself in readiness whether work might be
required of me or not.'
'If I'm wanted as hand now, Sir Raffle, I'm ready.'
'That's all very well;--but why were you not here at the hour I named?'
'Well, Sir Raffle, I cannot say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer
detained me;--but there was business. As I've been here for the last two
hours, I am happy to think that in this instance the public service will
not have suffered by my disobedience.'
Sir Raffle was still standing with his hat on, and with his back to the
fire, and his countenance was full of wrath. It was on his tongue to
tell Johnny that he had better return to his former work in the outer
office. He greatly wanted the comfort of a private secretary who would
believe in him--or at least pretend to believe in him. There are men
who, though they have not sense enough to be true, have nevertheless
sense enough to know that they cannot expect to be really believed in by
those who are near enough to them to know them. Sir Raffle Buffle was