Part 2 out of 10
the Law was treason to the realm.
"I come to you direct," the baronet explained. "I tell you candidly what
way I discovered my son to be mixed up in this miserable affair. I
promise you indemnity for your loss, and an apology that shall, I trust,
satisfy your feelings, assuring you that to tamper with witnesses is not
the province of a Feverel. All I ask of you in return is, not to press
the prosecution. At present it rests with you. I am bound to do all
that lies in my power for this imprisoned man. How and wherefore my son
was prompted to suggest, or assist in, such an act, I cannot explain, for
I do not know."
"Hum!" said the farmer. "I think I do."
"You know the cause?" Sir Austin stared. "I beg you to confide it to
"'Least, I can pretty nigh neighbour it with a gues," said the farmer. "
We an't good friends, Sir Austin, me and your son, just now--not to say
cordial. I, ye see, Sir Austin, I'm a man as don't like young gentlemen
a-poachin' on his grounds without his permission,--in special when birds
is plentiful on their own. It appear he do like it. Consequently I has
to flick this whip--as them fellers at the races: All in this 'ere Ring's
mine! as much as to say; and who's been hit, he's had fair warnin'. I'm
sorry for't, but that's just the case."
Sir Austin retired to communicate with his son, when he should find him.
Algernon's interview passed off in ale and promises. He also assured
Farmer Blaize that no Feverel could be affected by his proviso.
No less did Austin Wentworth. The farmer was satisfied.
"Money's safe, I know," said he; "now for the 'pology!" and Farmer Blaize
thrust his legs further out, and his head further back.
The farmer naturally reflected that the three separate visits had been
conspired together. Still the baronet's frankness, and the baronet's not
having reserved himself for the third and final charge, puzzled him. He
was considering whether they were a deep, or a shallow lot, when young
Richard was announced.
A pretty little girl with the roses of thirteen springs in her cheeks,
and abundant beautiful bright tresses, tripped before the boy, and
loitered shyly by the farmer's arm-chair to steal a look at the handsome
new-comer. She was introduced to Richard as the farmer's niece, Lucy
Desborough, the daughter of a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, and, what was
better, though the farmer did not pronounce it so loudly, a real good
Neither the excellence of her character, nor her rank in life, tempted
Richard to inspect the little lady. He made an awkward bow, and sat
The farmer's eyes twinkled. "Her father," he continued, "fought and fell
for his coontry. A man as fights for's coontry's a right to hould up his
head--ay! with any in the land. Desb'roughs o' Dorset! d'ye know that
family, Master Feverel?"
Richard did not know them, and, by his air, did not desire to become
acquainted with any offshoot of that family.
"She can make puddens and pies," the farmer went on, regardless of his
auditor's gloom. "She's a lady, as good as the best of 'em. I don't
care about their being Catholics--the Desb'roughs o' Dorset are
gentlemen. And she's good for the pianer, too! She strums to me of
evenin's. I'm for the old tunes: she's for the new. Gal-like! While
she's with me she shall be taught things use'l. She can parley-voo a
good 'un and foot it, as it goes; been in France a couple of year. I
prefer the singin' of 't to the talkin' of 't. Come, Luce! toon up--eh?
--Ye wun't? That song abort the Viffendeer--a female"--Farmer Blaize
volunteered the translation of the title--"who wears the--you guess what!
and marches along with the French sojers: a pretty brazen bit o' goods, I
Mademoiselle Lucy corrected her uncle's French, but objected to do more.
The handsome cross boy had almost taken away her voice for speech, as it
was, and sing in his company she could not; so she stood, a hand on her
uncle's chair to stay herself from falling, while she wriggled a dozen
various shapes of refusal, and shook her head at the farmer with fixed
"Aha!" laughed the farmer, dismissing her, "they soon learn the
difference 'twixt the young 'un and the old 'un. Go along, Luce! and
learn yer lessons for to-morrow."
Reluctantly the daughter of the Royal Navy glided away. Her uncle's head
followed her to the door, where she dallied to catch a last impression of
the young stranger's lowering face, and darted through.
Farmer Blaize laughed and chuckled. "She an't so fond of her uncle as
that, every day! Not that she an't a good nurse--the kindest little soul
you'd meet of a winter's walk! She'll read t' ye, and make drinks, and
sing, too, if ye likes it, and she won't be tired. A obstinate good 'un,
she be! Bless her!"
The farmer may have designed, by these eulogies of his niece, to give his
visitor time to recover his composure, and establish a common topic. His
diversion only irritated and confused our shame-eaten youth. Richard's
intention had been to come to the farmer's threshold: to summon the
farmer thither, and in a loud and haughty tone then and there to take
upon himself the whole burden of the charge against Tom Bakewell. He had
strayed, during his passage to Belthorpe, somewhat back to his old
nature; and his being compelled to enter the house of his enemy, sit in
his chair, and endure an introduction to his family, was more than he
bargained for. He commenced blinking hard in preparation for the
horrible dose to which delay and the farmer's cordiality added
inconceivable bitters. Farmer Blaize was quite at his ease; nowise in a
hurry. He spoke of the weather and the harvest: of recent doings up at
the Abbey: glanced over that year's cricketing; hoped that no future
Feverel would lose a leg to the game. Richard saw and heard Arson in it
all. He blinked harder as he neared the cup. In a moment of silence, he
seized it with a gasp.
"Mr. Blaize! I have come to tell you that I am the person who set fire
to your rick the other night."
An odd consternation formed about the farmer's mouth. He changed his
posture, and said, "Ay? that's what ye're come to tell me sir?"
"Yes!" said Richard, firmly.
"And that be all?"
"Yes!" Richard reiterated.
The farmer again changed his posture. "Then, my lad, ye've come to tell
me a lie!"
Farmer Blaize looked straight at the boy, undismayed by the dark flush of
ire he had kindled.
"You dare to call me a liar!" cried Richard, starting up.
"I say," the farmer renewed his first emphasis, and smacked his thigh
thereto, "that's a lie!"
Richard held out his clenched fist. "You have twice insulted me. You
have struck me: you have dared to call me a liar. I would have
apologized--I would have asked your pardon, to have got off that fellow
in prison. Yes! I would have degraded myself that another man should not
suffer for my deed"--
"Quite proper!" interposed the farmer.
"And you take this opportunity of insulting me afresh. You're a coward,
sir! nobody but a coward would have insulted me in his own house."
"Sit ye down, sit ye down, young master," said the farmer, indicating the
chair and cooling the outburst with his hand. "Sit ye down. Don't ye be
hasty. If ye hadn't been hasty t'other day, we sh'd a been friends yet.
Sit ye down, sir. I sh'd be sorry to reckon you out a liar, Mr. Feverel,
or anybody o' your name. I respects yer father though we're opp'site
politics. I'm willin' to think well o' you. What I say is, that as you
say an't the trewth. Mind! I don't like you none the worse for't. But
it an't what is. That's all! You knows it as well's I!"
Richard, disdaining to show signs of being pacified, angrily reseated
himself. The farmer spoke sense, and the boy, after his late interview
with Austin, had become capable of perceiving vaguely that a towering
passion is hardly the justification for a wrong course of conduct.
"Come," continued the farmer, not unkindly, "what else have you to say?"
Here was the same bitter cup he had already once drained brimming at
Richard's lips again! Alas, poor human nature! that empties to the dregs
a dozen of these evil drinks, to evade the single one which Destiny, less
cruel, had insisted upon.
The boy blinked and tossed it off.
"I came to say that I regretted the revenge I had taken on you for your
Farmer Blaize nodded.
"And now ye've done, young gentleman?"
Still another cupful!
"I should be very much obliged," Richard formally began, but his stomach
was turned; he could but sip and sip, and gather a distaste which
threatened to make the penitential act impossible. "Very much obliged,"
he repeated: "much obliged, if you would be so kind," and it struck him
that had he spoken this at first he would have given it a wording more
persuasive with the farmer and more worthy of his own pride: more honest,
in fact: for a sense of the dishonesty of what he was saying caused him
to cringe and simulate humility to deceive the farmer, and the more he
said the less he felt his words, and, feeling them less, he inflated them
more. "So kind," he stammered, "so kind" (fancy a Feverel asking this
big brute to be so kind!) "as to do me the favour" (me the favour!) "to
exert yourself" (it's all to please Austin) "to endeavour to--hem! to"
(there's no saying it!)--
The cup was full as ever. Richard dashed at it again.
"What I came to ask is, whether you would have the kindness to try what
you could do" (what an infamous shame to have to beg like this!) "do to
save--do to ensure--whether you would have the kindness" It seemed out
of all human power to gulp it down. The draught grew more and more
abhorrent. To proclaim one's iniquity, to apologize for one's
wrongdoing; thus much could be done; but to beg a favour of the offended
party--that was beyond the self-abasement any Feverel could consent to.
Pride, however, whose inevitable battle is against itself, drew aside the
curtains of poor Tom's prison, crying a second time, "Behold your
Benefactor!" and, with the words burning in his ears, Richard swallowed
"Well, then, I want you, Mr. Blaize,--if you don't mind--will you help me
to get this man Bakewell off his punishment?"
To do Farmer Blaize justice, he waited very patiently for the boy, though
he could not quite see why he did not take the gate at the first offer.
"Oh!" said he, when he heard and had pondered on the request. "Hum! ha!
we'll see about it t'morrow. But if he's innocent, you know, we shan't
"It was I did it!" Richard declared.
The farmer's half-amused expression sharpened a bit.
"So, young gentleman! and you're sorry for the night's work?"
"I shall see that you are paid the full extent of your losses."
"Thank'ee," said the farmer drily.
"And, if this poor man is released to-morrow, I don't care what the
Farmer Blaize deflected his head twice in silence. "Bribery," one motion
expressed: "Corruption," the other.
"Now," said he, leaning forward, and fixing his elbows on his knees,
while he counted the case at his fingers' ends, "excuse the liberty, but
wishin' to know where this 'ere money's to come from, I sh'd like jest
t'ask if so be Sir Austin know o' this?"
"My father knows nothing of it," replied Richard.
The farmer flung back in his chair. "Lie number Two," said his
shoulders, soured by the British aversion to being plotted at, and not
dealt with openly.
"And ye've the money ready, young gentleman?"
"I shall ask my father for it."
"And he'll hand't out?"
"Certainly he will!"
Richard had not the slightest intention of ever letting his father into
"A good three hundred pounds, ye know?" the farmer suggested.
No consideration of the extent of damages, and the size of the sum,
affected young Richard, who said boldly, "He will not object when I tell
him I want that sum."
It was natural Farmer Blaize should be a trifle suspicious that a youth's
guarantee would hardly be given for his father's readiness to disburse
such a thumping bill, unless he had previously received his father's
sanction and authority.
"Hum!" said he, "why not 'a told him before?"
The farmer threw an objectionable shrewdness into his query, that caused
Richard to compress his mouth and glance high.
Farmer Blaize was positive 'twas a lie.
"Hum! Ye still hold to't you fired the rick?" he asked.
"The blame is mine!" quoth Richard, with the loftiness of a patriot of
"Na, na!" the straightforward Briton put him aside. "Ye did't, or ye
didn't do't. Did ye do't, or no?"
Thrust in a corner, Richard said, "I did it."
Farmer Blaize reached his hand to the bell. It was answered in an
instant by little Lucy, who received orders to fetch in a dependent at
Belthorpe going by the name of the Bantam, and made her exit as she had
entered, with her eyes on the young stranger.
"Now," said the farmer, "these be my principles. I'm a plain man, Mr.
Feverel. Above board with me, and you'll find me handsome. Try to
circumvent me, and I'm a ugly customer. I'll show you I've no animosity.
Your father pays--you apologize. That's enough for me! Let Tom Bakewell
fight't out with the Law, and I'll look on. The Law wasn't on the spot,
I suppose? so the Law ain't much witness. But I am. Leastwise the
Bantam is. I tell you, young gentleman, the Bantam saw't! It's no moral
use whatever your denyin' that ev'dence. And where's the good, sir, I
ask? What comes of 't? Whether it be you, or whether it be Tom
Bakewell--ain't all one? If I holds back, ain't it sim'lar? It's the
trewth I want! And here't comes," added the farmer, as Miss Lucy ushered
in the Bantam, who presented a curious figure for that rare divinity to
In build of body, gait and stature, Giles Jinkson, the Bantam, was a
tolerably fair representative of the Punic elephant, whose part, with
diverse anticipations, the generals of the Blaize and Feverel forces,
from opposing ranks, expected him to play. Giles, surnamed the Bantam,
on account of some forgotten sally of his youth or infancy, moved and
looked elephantine. It sufficed that Giles was well fed to assure that
Giles was faithful--if uncorrupted. The farm which supplied to him
ungrudging provender had all his vast capacity for work in willing
exercise: the farmer who held the farm his instinct reverenced as the
fountain source of beef and bacon, to say nothing of beer, which was
plentiful at Belthorpe, and good. This Farmer Blaize well knew, and he
reckoned consequently that here was an animal always to be relied on--a
sort of human composition out of dog, horse, and bull, a cut above each
of these quadrupeds in usefulness, and costing proportionately more, but
on the whole worth the money, and therefore invaluable, as everything
worth its money must be to a wise man. When the stealing of grain had
been made known at Belthorpe, the Bantam, a fellow-thresher with Tom
Bakewell, had shared with him the shadow of the guilt. Farmer Blaize, if
he hesitated which to suspect, did not debate a second as to which he
would discard; and, when the Bantam said he had seen Tom secreting
pilkins in a sack, Farmer Blaize chose to believe him, and off went poor
Tom, told to rejoice in the clemency that spared his appearance at
The Bantam's small sleepy orbits saw many things, and just at the right
moment, it seemed. He was certainly the first to give the clue at
Belthorpe on the night of the conflagration, and he may, therefore, have
seen poor Tom retreating stealthily from the scene, as he averred he did.
Lobourne had its say on the subject. Rustic Lobourne hinted broadly at a
young woman in the case, and, moreover, told a tale of how these fellow-
threshers had, in noble rivalry, one day turned upon each other to see
which of the two threshed the best; whereof the Bantam still bore marks,
and malice, it was said. However, there he stood, and tugged his
forelocks to the company, and if Truth really had concealed herself in
him she must have been hard set to find her unlikeliest hiding-place.
"Now," said the farmer, marshalling forth his elephant with the
confidence of one who delivers his ace of trumps, "tell this young
gentleman what ye saw on the night of the fire, Bantam!"
The Bantam jerked a bit of a bow to his patron, and then swung round,
fully obscuring him from Richard.
Richard fixed his eyes on the floor, while the Bantam in rudest Doric
commenced his narrative. Knowing what was to come, and thoroughly nerved
to confute the main incident, Richard barely listened to his barbarous
locution: but when the recital arrived at the point where the Bantam
affirmed he had seen "T'm Baak'll wi's owen hoies," Richard faced him,
and was amazed to find himself being mutely addressed by a series of
intensely significant grimaces, signs, and winks.
"What do you mean? Why are you making those faces at me?" cried the boy
Farmer Blaize leaned round the Bantam to have a look at him, and beheld
the stolidest mask ever given to man.
"Bain't makin' no faces at nobody," growled the sulky elephant.
The farmer commanded him to face about and finish.
"A see T'm Baak'll," the Bantam recommenced, and again the contortions of
a horrible wink were directed at Richard. The boy might well believe
this churl was lying, and he did, and was emboldened to exclaim--
"You never saw Tom Bakewell set fire to that rick!"
The Bantam swore to it, grimacing an accompaniment.
"I tell you," said Richard, "I put the lucifers there myself!"
The suborned elephant was staggered. He meant to telegraph to the young
gentleman that he was loyal and true to certain gold pieces that had been
given him, and that in the right place and at the right time he should
prove so. Why was he thus suspected? Why was he not understood?
"A thowt I see 'un, then," muttered the Bantam, trying a middle course.
This brought down on him the farmer, who roared, "Thought! Ye thought!
What d'ye mean? Speak out, and don't be thinkin'. Thought? What the
"How could he see who it was on a pitch-dark night?" Richard put in.
"Thought!" the farmer bellowed louder. "Thought--Devil take ye, when ye
took ye oath on't. Hulloa! What are ye screwin' yer eye at Mr. Feverel
for?--I say, young gentleman, have you spoke to this chap before now?"
"I?" replied Richard. "I have not seen him before."
Farmer Blaize grasped the two arms of the chair he sat on, and glared his
"Come," said he to the Bantam, "speak out, and ha' done wi't. Say what
ye saw, and none o' yer thoughts. Damn yer thoughts! Ye saw Tom
Bakewell fire that there rick!" The farmer pointed at some musk-pots in
the window. "What business ha' you to be a-thinkin'? You're a witness?
Thinkin' an't ev'dence. What'll ye say to morrow before magistrate!
Mind! what you says today, you'll stick by to-morrow."
Thus adjured, the Bantam hitched his breech. What on earth the young
gentleman meant he was at a loss to speculate. He could not believe that
the young gentleman wanted to be transported, but if he had been paid to
help that, why, he would. And considering that this day's evidence
rather bound him down to the morrow's, he determined, after much
ploughing and harrowing through obstinate shocks of hair, to be not
altogether positive as to the person. It is possible that he became
thereby more a mansion of truth than he previously had been; for the
night, as he said, was so dark that you could not see your hand before
your face; and though, as he expressed it, you might be mortal sure of
a man, you could not identify him upon oath, and the party he had taken
for Tom Bakewell, and could have sworn to, might have been the young
gentleman present, especially as he was ready to swear it upon oath.
So ended the Bantam.
No sooner had he ceased, than Farmer Blaize jumped up from his chair, and
made a fine effort to lift him out of the room from the point of his toe.
He failed, and sank back groaning with the pain of the exertion and
"They're liars, every one!" he cried. "Liars, perj'rers, bribers, and
c'rrupters!--Stop!" to the Bantam, who was slinking away. "You've done
for yerself already! You swore to it!"
"A din't!" said the Bantam, doggedly.
"You swore to't!" the farmer vociferated afresh.
The Bantam played a tune upon the handle of the door, and still affirmed
that he did not; a double contradiction at which the farmer absolutely
raged in his chair, and was hoarse, as he called out a third time that
the Bantam had sworn to it.
"Noa!" said the Bantam, ducking his poll. "Noa!" he repeated in a lower
note; and then, while a sombre grin betokening idiotic enjoyment of his
profound casuistical quibble worked at his jaw:
"Not up'n o-ath!" he added, with a twitch of the shoulder and an angular
jerk of the elbow.
Farmer Blaize looked vacantly at Richard, as if to ask him what he
thought of England's peasantry after the sample they had there. Richard
would have preferred not to laugh, but his dignity gave way to his sense
of the ludicrous, and he let fly a shout. The farmer was in no laughing
mood. He turned a wide eye back to the door, "Lucky for'm," he
exclaimed, seeing the Bantam had vanished, for his fingers itched to
break that stubborn head. He grew very puffy, and addressed Richard
"Now, look ye here, Mr. Feverel! You've been a-tampering with my
witness. It's no use denyin'! I say y' 'ave, sir! You, or some of ye.
I don't care about no Feverel! My witness there has been bribed. The
Bantam's been bribed," and he shivered his pipe with an energetic thump
on the table--"bribed! I knows it! I could swear to't!"--
"Upon oath?" Richard inquired, with a grave face.
"Ay, upon oath!" said the farmer, not observing the impertinence.
"I'd take my Bible oath on't! He's been corrupted, my principal witness!
Oh! it's dam cunnin', but it won't do the trick. I'll transport Tom
Bakewell, sure as a gun. He shall travel, that man shall. Sorry for
you, Mr. Feverel--sorry you haven't seen how to treat me proper--you, or
yours. Money won't do everything--no! it won't. It'll c'rrupt a
witness, but it won't clear a felon. I'd ha' 'soused you, sir! You're a
boy and'll learn better. I asked no more than payment and apology; and
that I'd ha' taken content--always provided my witnesses weren't tampered
with. Now you must stand yer luck, all o' ye."
Richard stood up and replied, "Very well, Mr. Blaize."
"And if," continued the farmer, "Tom Bakewell don't drag you into't after
'm, why, you're safe, as I hope ye'll be, sincere!"
"It was not in consideration of my own safety that I sought this
interview with you," said Richard, head erect.
"Grant ye that," the farmer responded. "Grant ye that! Yer bold enough,
young gentleman--comes of the blood that should be! If y' had only ha'
spoke trewth!--I believe yer father--believe every word he said. I do
wish I could ha' said as much for Sir Austin's son and heir."
"What!" cried Richard, with an astonishment hardly to be feigned, "you
have seen my father?"
But Farmer Blaize had now such a scent for lies that he could detect them
where they did not exist, and mumbled gruffly,
"Ay, we knows all about that!"
The boy's perplexity saved him from being irritated. Who could have told
his father? An old fear of his father came upon him, and a touch of an
old inclination to revolt.
"My father knows of this?" said he, very loudly, and staring, as he
spoke, right through the farmer. "Who has played me false? Who would
betray me to him? It was Austin! No one knew it but Austin. Yes, and
it was Austin who persuaded me to come here and submit to these
indignities. Why couldn't he be open with me? I shall never trust him
"And why not you with me, young gentleman?" said the farmer. "I sh'd
trust you if ye had."
Richard did not see the analogy. He bowed stiffly and bade him good
Farmer Blaize pulled the bell. "Company the young gentleman out, Lucy,"
he waved to the little damsel in the doorway. "Do the honours. And, Mr.
Richard, ye might ha' made a friend o' me, sir, and it's not too late so
to do. I'm not cruel, but I hate lies. I whipped my boy Tom, bigger
than you, for not bein' above board, only yesterday,--ay! made 'un stand
within swing o' this chair, and take's measure. Now, if ye'll come down
to me, and speak trewth before the trial--if it's only five minutes
before't; or if Sir Austin, who's a gentleman, 'll say there's been no
tamperin' with any o' my witnesses, his word for't--well and good! I'll
do my best to help off Tom Bakewell. And I'm glad, young gentleman,
you've got a conscience about a poor man, though he's a villain. Good
Richard marched hastily out of the room, and through the garden, never so
much as deigning a glance at his wistful little guide, who hung at the
garden gate to watch him up the lane, wondering a world of fancies about
the handsome proud boy.
To have determined upon an act something akin to heroism in its way, and
to have fulfilled it by lying heartily, and so subverting the whole
structure built by good resolution, seems a sad downfall if we forget
what human nature, in its green weedy spring, is composed of. Young
Richard had quitted his cousin Austin fully resolved to do his penance
and drink the bitter cup; and he had drunk it; drained many cups to the
dregs; and it was to no purpose. Still they floated before him, brimmed,
trebly bitter. Away from Austin's influence, he was almost the same boy
who had slipped the guinea into Tom Bakewell's hand, and the lucifers
into Farmer Blaize's rick. For good seed is long ripening; a good boy is
not made in a minute. Enough that the seed was in him. He chafed on his
road to Raynham at the scene he had just endured, and the figure of
Belthorpe's fat tenant burnt like hot copper on the tablet of his brain,
insufferably condescending, and, what was worse, in the right. Richard,
obscured as his mind's eye was by wounded pride, saw that clearly, and
hated his enemy for it the more.
Heavy Benson's tongue was knelling dinner as Richard arrived at the
Abbey. He hurried up to his room to dress. Accident, or design, had
laid the book of Sir Austin's aphorisms open on the dressing-table.
Hastily combing his hair, Richard glanced down and read--
"The Dog returneth to his vomit: the Liar must eat his Lie."
Underneath was interjected in pencil: "The Devil's mouthful!"
Young Richard ran downstairs feeling that his father had struck him in
Sir Austin marked the scarlet stain on his son's cheekbones. He sought
the youth's eye, but Richard would not look, and sat conning his plate,
an abject copy of Adrian's succulent air at that employment. How could
he pretend to the relish of an epicure when he was painfully endeavouring
to masticate The Devil's mouthful?
Heavy Benson sat upon the wretched dinner. Hippias usually the silent
member, as if awakened by the unnatural stillness, became sprightly, like
the goatsucker owl at night and spoke much of his book, his digestion,
and his dreams, and was spared both by Algernon and Adrian. One
inconsequent dream he related, about fancying himself quite young and
rich, and finding himself suddenly in a field cropping razors around him,
when, just as he had, by steps dainty as those of a French dancing-
master, reached the middle, he to his dismay beheld a path clear of the
blood, thirsty steel-crop, which he might have taken at first had he
looked narrowly; and there he was.
Hippias's brethren regarded him with eyes that plainly said they wished
he had remained there. Sir Austin, however, drew forth his note-book,
and jotted down a reflection. A composer of aphorisms can pluck blossoms
even from a razor-prop. Was not Hippias's dream the very counterpart of
Richard's position? He, had he looked narrowly, might have taken the
clear path: he, too, had been making dainty steps till he was surrounded
by the grinning blades. And from that text Sir Austin preached to his
son when they were alone. Little Clare was still too unwell to be
permitted to attend the dessert, and father and son were soon closeted
It was a strange meeting. They seemed to have been separated so long.
The father took his son's hand; they sat without a word passing between
them. Silence said most. The boy did not understand his father: his
father frequently thwarted him: at times he thought his father foolish:
but that paternal pressure of his hand was eloquent to him of how warmly
he was beloved. He tried once or twice to steal his hand away, conscious
it was melting him. The spirit of his pride, and old rebellion,
whispered him to be hard, unbending, resolute. Hard he had entered his
father's study: hard he had met his father's eyes. He could not meet
them now. His father sat beside him gently; with a manner that was
almost meekness, so he loved this boy. The poor gentleman's lips moved.
He was praying internally to God for him.
By degrees an emotion awoke in the boy's bosom. Love is that blessed
wand which wins the waters from the hardness of the heart. Richard
fought against it, for the dignity of old rebellion. The tears would
come; hot and struggling over the dams of pride. Shamefully fast they
began to fall. He could no longer conceal them, or check the sobs. Sir
Austin drew him nearer and nearer, till the beloved head was on his
An hour afterwards, Adrian Harley, Austin Wentworth, and Algernon Feverel
were summoned to the baronet's study.
Adrian came last. There was a style of affable omnipotence about the
wise youth as he slung himself into a chair, and made an arch of the
points of his fingers, through which to gaze on his blundering kinsmen.
Careless as one may be whose sagacity has foreseen, and whose benevolent
efforts have forestalled, the point of danger at the threshold, Adrian
crossed his legs, and only intruded on their introductory remarks so far
as to hum half audibly at intervals
"Ripton and Richard were two pretty men,"
in parody of the old ballad. Young Richard's red eyes, and the baronet's
ruffled demeanour, told him that an explanation had taken place, and a
reconciliation. That was well. The baronet would now pay cheerfully.
Adrian summed and considered these matters, and barely listened when the
baronet called attention to what he had to say: which was elaborately to
inform all present, what all present very well knew, that a rick had been
fired, that his son was implicated as an accessory to the fact, that the
perpetrator was now imprisoned, and that Richard's family were, as it
seemed to him, bound in honour to do their utmost to effect the man's
Then the baronet stated that he had himself been down to Belthorpe, his
son likewise: and that he had found every disposition in Blaize to meet
The lamp which ultimately was sure to be lifted up to illumine the acts
of this secretive race began slowly to dispread its rays; and, as
statement followed statement, they saw that all had known of the
business: that all had been down to Belthorpe: all save the wise youth
Adrian, who, with due deference and a sarcastic shrug, objected to the
proceeding, as putting them in the hands of the man Blaize. His wisdom
shone forth in an oration so persuasive and aphoristic that had it not
been based on a plea against honour, it would have made Sir Austin waver.
But its basis was expediency, and the baronet had a better aphorism of
his own to confute him with.
"Expediency is man's wisdom, Adrian Harley. Doing right is God's."
Adrian curbed his desire to ask Sir Austin whether an attempt to
counteract the just working of the law was doing right. The direct
application of an aphorism was unpopular at Raynham.
"I am to understand then," said he, "that Blaize consents not to press
"Of course he won't," Algernon remarked. "Confound him! he'll have his
money, and what does he want besides?"
"These agricultural gentlemen are delicate customers to deal with.
However, if he really consents"--
"I have his promise," said the baronet, fondling his son.
Young Richard looked up to his father, as if he wished to speak. He said
nothing, and Sir Austin took it as a mute reply to his caresses; and
caressed him the more. Adrian perceived a reserve in the boy's manner,
and as he was not quite satisfied that his chief should suppose him to
have been the only idle, and not the most acute and vigilant member of
the family, he commenced a cross-examination of him by asking who had
last spoken with the tenant of Belthorpe?
"I think I saw him last," murmured Richard, and relinquished his father's
Adrian fastened on his prey. "And left him with a distinct and
satisfactory assurance of his amicable intentions?"
"No," said Richard.
"Not?" the Feverels joined in astounded chorus.
Richard sidled away from his father, and repeated a shamefaced "No."
"Was he hostile?" inquired Adrian, smoothing his palms, and smiling.
"Yes," the boy confessed.
Here was quite another view of their position. Adrian, generally patient
of results, triumphed strongly at having evoked it, and turned upon
Austin Wentworth, reproving him for inducing the boy to go down to
Belthorpe. Austin looked grieved. He feared that Richard had faded in
his good resolve.
"I thought it his duty to go," he observed.
"It was!" said the baronet, emphatically.
"And you see what comes of it, sir," Adrian struck in. "These
agricultural gentlemen, I repeat, are delicate customers to deal with.
For my part I would prefer being in the hands of a policeman. We are
decidedly collared by Blaize. What were his words, Ricky? Give it in
his own Doric."
"He said he would transport Tom Bakewell."
Adrian smoothed his palms, and smiled again. Then they could afford to
defy Mr. Blaize, he informed them significantly, and made once more a
mysterious allusion to the Punic elephant, bidding his relatives be at
peace. They were attaching, in his opinion, too much importance to
Richard's complicity. The man was a fool, and a very extraordinary
arsonite, to have an accomplice at all. It was a thing unknown in the
annals of rick-burning. But one would be severer than law itself to say
that a boy of fourteen had instigated to crime a full-grown man. At that
rate the boy was 'father of the man' with a vengeance, and one might hear
next that 'the baby was father of the boy.' They would find common sense
a more benevolent ruler than poetical metaphysics.
When he had done, Austin, with his customary directness, asked him what
"I confess, Adrian," said the baronet, hearing him expostulate with
Austin's stupidity, "I for one am at a loss. I have heard that this man,
Bakewell, chooses voluntarily not to inculpate my son. Seldom have I
heard anything that so gratified me. It is a view of innate nobleness in
the rustic's character which many a gentleman might take example from.
We are bound to do our utmost for the man." And, saying that he should
pay a second visit to Belthorpe, to inquire into the reasons for the
farmer's sudden exposition of vindictiveness, Sir Austin rose.
Before he left the room, Algernon asked Richard if the farmer had
vouchsafed any reasons, and the boy then spoke of the tampering with the
witnesses, and the Bantam's "Not upon oath!" which caused Adrian to choke
with laughter. Even the baronet smiled at so cunning a distinction as
that involved in swearing a thing, and not swearing it upon oath.
"How little," he exclaimed, "does one yeoman know another! To elevate
a distinction into a difference is the natural action of their minds.
I will point that out to Blaize. He shall see that the idea is native
Richard saw his father go forth. Adrian, too, was ill at ease.
"This trotting down to Belthorpe spoils all," said he. "The affair would
pass over to-morrow--Blaize has no witnesses. The old rascal is only
standing out for more money."
"No, he isn't," Richard corrected him. "It's not that. I'm sure he
believes his witnesses have been tampered with, as he calls it."
"What if they have, boy?" Adrian put it boldly. "The ground is cut from
under his feet."
"Blaize told me that if my father would give his word there had been
nothing of the sort, he would take it. My father will give his word."
"Then," said Adrian, "you had better stop him from going down."
Austin looked at Adrian keenly, and questioned him whether he thought the
farmer was justified in his suspicions. The wise youth was not to be
entrapped. He had only been given to understand that the witnesses were
tolerably unstable, and, like the Bantam, ready to swear lustily, but not
upon the Book. How given to understand, he chose not to explain, but he
reiterated that the chief should not be allowed to go down to Belthorpe.
Sir Austin was in the lane leading to the farm when he heard steps of
some one running behind him. It was dark, and he shook off the hand that
laid hold of his cloak, roughly, not recognizing his son.
"It's I, sir," said Richard panting. "Pardon me. You mustn't go in
"Why not?" said the baronet, putting his arm about him.
"Not now," continued the boy. "I will tell you all to-night. I must see
the farmer myself. It was my fault, sir. I-I lied to him--the Liar must
eat his Lie. Oh, forgive me for disgracing you, sir. I did it--I hope I
did it to save Tom Bakewell. Let me go in alone, and speak the truth."
"Go, and I will wait for you here," said his father.
The wind that bowed the old elms, and shivered the dead leaves in the
air, had a voice and a meaning for the baronet during that half-hour's
lonely pacing up and down under the darkness, awaiting his boy's return.
The solemn gladness of his heart gave nature a tongue. Through the
desolation flying overhead--the wailing of the Mother of Plenty across
the bare-swept land--he caught intelligible signs of the beneficent order
of the universe, from a heart newly confirmed in its grasp of the
principle of human goodness, as manifested in the dear child who had just
left him; confirmed in its belief in the ultimate victory of good within
us, without which nature has neither music nor meaning, and is rock,
stone, tree, and nothing more.
In the dark, the dead leaves beating on his face, he had a word for his
note-book: "There is for the mind but one grasp of happiness: from that
uppermost pinnacle of wisdom, whence we see that this world is well
Of all the chief actors in the Bakewell Comedy, Master Ripton Thompson
awaited the fearful morning which was to decide Tom's fate, in
dolefullest mood, and suffered the gravest mental terrors. Adrian, on
parting with him, had taken casual occasion to speak of the position of
the criminal in modern Europe, assuring him that International Treaty now
did what Universal Empire had aforetime done, and that among Atlantic
barbarians now, as among the Scythians of old, an offender would find
precarious refuge and an emissary haunting him.
In the paternal home, under the roofs of Law, and removed from the
influence of his conscienceless young chief, the staggering nature of the
act he had put his hand to, its awful felonious aspect, overwhelmed
Ripton. He saw it now for the first time. "Why, it's next to murder!"
he cried out to his amazed soul, and wandered about the house with a
prickly skin. Thoughts of America, and commencing life afresh as an
innocent gentleman, had crossed his disordered brain. He wrote to his
friend Richard, proposing to collect disposable funds, and embark, in
case of Tom's breaking his word, or of accidental discovery. He dared
not confide the secret to his family, as his leader had sternly enjoined
him to avoid any weakness of that kind; and, being by nature honest and
communicative, the restriction was painful, and melancholy fell upon the
boy. Mama Thompson attributed it to love.
The daughters of parchment rallied him concerning Miss Clare Forey.
His hourly letters to Raynham, and silence as to everything and everybody
there, his nervousness, and unwonted propensity to sudden inflammation of
the cheeks, were set down for sure signs of the passion. Miss Letitia
Thompson, the pretty and least parchmenty one, destined by her Papa for
the heir of Raynham, and perfectly aware of her brilliant future, up to
which she had, since Ripton's departure, dressed and grimaced, and
studied cadences (the latter with such success, though not yet fifteen,
that she languished to her maid, and melted the small factotum footman)--
Miss Letty, whose insatiable thirst for intimations about the young heir
Ripton could not satisfy, tormented him daily in revenge, and once, quite
unconsciously, gave the lad a fearful turn; for after dinner, when Mr.
Thompson read the paper by the fire, preparatory to sleeping at his
accustomed post, and Mama Thompson and her submissive female brood sat
tasking the swift intricacies of the needle, and emulating them with the
tongue, Miss Letty stole behind Ripton's chair, and introduced between
him and his book the Latin initial letter, large and illuminated, of the
theme she supposed to be absorbing him, as it did herself. The
unexpected vision of this accusing Captain of the Alphabet, this
resplendent and haunting A. fronting him bodily, threw Ripton straight
back in his chair, while Guilt, with her ancient indecision what colours
to assume on detection, flew from red to white, from white to red, across
his fallen chaps. Letty laughed triumphantly. Amor, the word she had in
mind, certainly has a connection with Arson.
But the delivery of a letter into Master Ripton's hands, furnished her
with other and likelier appearances to study. For scarce had Ripton
plunged his head into the missive than he gave way to violent transports,
such as the healthy-minded little damsel, for all her languishing
cadences, deemed she really could express were a downright declaration to
be made to her. The boy did not stop at table. Quickly recollecting the
presence of his family, he rushed to his own room. And now the girl's
ingenuity was taxed to gain possession of that letter. She succeeded, of
course, she being a huntress with few scruples and the game unguarded.
With the eyes of amazement she read this foreign matter:
"Dear Ripton,--If Tom had been committed I would have shot old Blaize.
Do you know my father was behind us that night when Clare saw the ghost
and heard all we said before the fire burst out. It is no use trying to
conceal anything from him. Well as you are in an awful state I will tell
you all about it. After you left Ripton I had a conversation with Austin
and he persuaded me to go down to old Blaize and ask him to help off Tom.
I went for I would have done anything for Tom after what he said to
Austin and I defied the old churl to do his worst. Then he said if my
father paid the money and nobody had tampered with his witnesses he would
not mind if Tom did get off and he had his chief witness in called the
Bantam very like his master I think and the Bantam began winking at me
tremendously as you say, and said he had sworn he saw Tom Bakewell but
not upon oath. He meant not on the Bible. He could swear to it but not
on the Bible. I burst out laughing and you should have seen the rage old
Blaize was in. It was splendid fun. Then we had a consultation at home
Austin Rady my father Uncle Algernon who has come down to us again and
your friend in prosperity and adversity R.D.F. My father said he would
go down to old Blaize and give him the word of a gentleman we had not
tampered with his witnesses and when he was gone we were all talking and
Rady says he must not see the farmer. I am as certain as I live that it
was Rady bribed the Bantam. Well I ran and caught up my father and told
him not to go in to old Blaize but I would and eat my words and tell him
the truth. He waited for me in the lane. Never mind what passed between
me and old Blaize. He made me beg and pray of him not to press it
against Tom and then to complete it he brought in a little girl a niece
of his and says to me, she's your best friend after all and told me to
thank her. A little girl twelve years of age. What business had she to
mix herself up in my matters. Depend upon it Ripton, wherever there is
mischief there are girls I think. She had the insolence to notice my
face, and ask me not to be unhappy. I was polite of course but I would
not look at her. Well the morning came and Tom was had up before Sir
Miles Papworth. It was Sir Miles gout gave us the time or Tom would have
been had up before we could do anything. Adrian did not want me to go
but my father said I should accompany him and held my hand all the time.
I shall be careful about getting into these scrapes again. When you have
done anything honourable you do not mind but getting among policemen and
magistrates makes you ashamed of yourself. Sir Miles was very attentive
to my father and me and dead against Tom. We sat beside him and Tom was
brought in, Sir Miles told my father that if there was one thing that
showed a low villain it was rick-burning. What do you think of that.
I looked him straight in the face and he said to me he was doing me a
service in getting Tom committed and clearing the country of such fellows
and Rady began laughing. I hate Rady. My father said his son was not in
haste to inherit and have estates of his own to watch and Sir Miles
laughed too. I thought we were discovered at first. Then they began the
examination of Tom. The Tinker was the first witness and he proved that
Tom had spoken against old Blaize and said something about burning his
rick. I wished I had stood in the lane to Bursley with him alone. Our
country lawyer we engaged for Tom cross-questioned him and then he said
he was not ready to swear to the exact words that had passed between him
and Tom. I should think not. Then came another who swore he had seen
Tom lurking about the farmer's grounds that night. Then came the Bantam
and I saw him look at Rady. I was tremendously excited and my father
kept pressing my hand. Just fancy my being brought to feel that a word
from that fellow would make me miserable for life and he must perjure
himself to help me. That comes of giving way to passion. My father says
when we do that we are calling in the devil as doctor. Well the Bantam
was told to state what he had seen and the moment he began Rady who was
close by me began to shake and he was laughing I knew though his face was
as grave as Sir Miles. You never heard such a rigmarole but I could not
laugh. He said he thought he was certain he had seen somebody by the
rick and it was Tom Bakewell who was the only man he knew who had a
grudge against Farmer Blaize and if the object had been a little bigger
he would not mind swearing to Tom and would swear to him for he was dead
certain it was Tom only what he saw looked smaller and it was pitch-dark
at the time. He was asked what time it was he saw the person steal away
from the rick and then he began to scratch his head and said supper-time.
Then they asked what time he had supper and he said nine o'clock by the
clock and we proved that at nine o'clock Tom was drinking in the ale-
house with the Tinker at Bursley and Sir Miles swore and said he was
afraid he could not commit Tom and when he heard that Tom looked up at me
and I say he is a noble fellow and no one shall sneer at Tom while I
live. Mind that. Well Sir Miles asked us to dine with him and Tom was
safe and I am to have him and educate him if I like for my servant and I
will. And I will give money to his mother and make her rich and he shall
never repent he knew me. I say Rip. The Bantam must have seen me. It
was when I went to stick in the lucifers. As we were all going home from
Sir Miles's at night he has lots of red-faced daughters but I did not
dance with them though they had music and were full of fun and I did not
care to I was so delighted and almost let it out. When we left and rode
home Rady said to my father the Bantam was not such a fool as he was
thought and my father said one must be in a state of great personal
exaltation to apply that epithet to any man and Rady shut his mouth and I
gave my pony a clap of the heel for joy. I think my father suspects what
Rady did and does not approve of it. And he need not have done it after
all and might have spoilt it. I have been obliged to order him not to
call me Ricky for he stops short at Rick so that everybody knows what he
means. My dear Austin is going to South America. My pony is in capital
condition. My father is the cleverest and best man in the world. Clare
is a little better. I am quite happy. I hope we shall meet soon my dear
Old Rip and we will not get into any more tremendous scrapes will we.--I
Your sworn friend,
"RICHARD DORIA FEVEREL."
"P.S. I am to have a nice River Yacht. Good-bye, Rip. Mind you learn
to box. Mind you are not to show this to any of your friends on pain of
"N.B. Lady B. was so angry when I told her that I had not come to her
before. She would do anything in the world for me. I like her next best
to my father and Austin. Good-bye old Rip."
Poor little Letitia, after three perusals of this ingenuous epistle,
where the laws of punctuation were so disregarded, resigned it to one of
the pockets of her brother Ripton's best jacket, deeply smitten with the
careless composer. And so ended the last act of the Bakewell Comedy, in
which the curtain closes with Sir Austin's pointing out to his friends
the beneficial action of the System in it from beginning to end.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A style of affable omnipotence about the wise youth
After five years of marriage, and twelve of friendship
Among boys there are laws of honour and chivalrous codes
An edge to his smile that cuts much like a sneer
Complacent languor of the wise youth
Huntress with few scruples and the game unguarded
It is no use trying to conceal anything from him
It was his ill luck to have strong appetites and a weak stomach
Minutes taken up by the grey puffs from their mouths
No! Gentlemen don't fling stones; leave that to the blackguards
Rogue on the tremble of detection
Rumour for the nonce had a stronger spice of truth than usual
She can make puddens and pies
The born preacher we feel instinctively to be our foe
There is for the mind but one grasp of happiness
Those days of intellectual coxcombry
Troublesome appendages of success
Woman will be the last thing civilized by Man
THE ORDEAL OF RICHARD FEVEREL
By GEORGE MEREDITH
XII. THE BLOSSOMING SEASON
XIII. THE MAGNETIC AGE
XIV. AN ATTRACTION
XV. FERDINAND AND MIRANDA
XVI. UNMASKING OF MASTER RIPTON THOMPSON
XVII. GOOD WINE AND GOOD BLOOD
XVIII. THE SYSTEM ENCOUNTERS THE WILD OATS SPECIAL PLEA
XIX. A DIVERSION PLAYED ON A PENNY WHISTLE
XX. CELEBRATES THE TIME-HONOURED TREATMENT OF A DRAGON BY THE HERO
Laying of ghosts is a public duty, and, as the mystery of the apparition
that had frightened little Clare was never solved on the stage of events
at Raynham, where dread walked the Abbey, let us go behind the scenes a
moment. Morally superstitious as the baronet was, the character of his
mind was opposed to anything like spiritual agency in the affairs of men,
and, when the matter was made clear to him, it shook off a weight of
weakness and restored his mental balance; so that from this time he went
about more like the man he had once been, grasping more thoroughly the
great truth, that This World is well designed. Nay, he could laugh on
hearing Adrian, in reminiscence of the ill luck of one of the family
members at its first manifestation, call the uneasy spirit, Algernon's
Mrs. Doria was outraged. She maintained that her child had
seen---- Not to believe in it was almost to rob her of her personal
property. After satisfactorily studying his old state of mind in her,
Sir Austin, moved by pity, took her aside one day and showed her that her
Ghost could write words in the flesh. It was a letter from the unhappy
lady who had given Richard birth,--brief cold lines, simply telling him
his house would be disturbed by her no more. Cold lines, but penned by
what heart-broken abnegation, and underlying them with what anguish of
soul! Like most who dealt with him, Lady Feverel thought her husband a
man fatally stern and implacable, and she acted as silly creatures will
act when they fancy they see a fate against them: she neither petitioned
for her right nor claimed it: she tried to ease her heart's yearning by
stealth, and, now she renounced all. Mrs. Doria, not wanting in the
family tenderness and softness, shuddered at him for accepting the
sacrifice so composedly: but he bade her to think how distracting to this
boy would be the sight of such relations between mother and father. A
few years, and as man he should know, and judge, and love her. "Let this
be her penance, not inflicted by me!" Mrs. Doria bowed to the System for
another, not opining when it would be her turn to bow for herself.
Further behind the scenes we observe Rizzio and Mary grown older, much
disenchanted: she discrowned, dishevelled,--he with gouty fingers on a
greasy guitar. The Diaper Sandoe of promise lends his pen for small
hires. His fame has sunk; his bodily girth has sensibly increased. What
he can do, and will do, is still his theme; meantime the juice of the
juniper is in requisition, and it seems that those small hires cannot be
performed without it. Returning from her wretched journey to her
wretcheder home, the lady had to listen to a mild reproof from easy-going
Diaper,--a reproof so mild that he couched it in blank verse: for, seldom
writing metrically now, he took to talking it. With a fluent sympathetic
tear, he explained to her that she was damaging her interests by these
proceedings; nor did he shrink from undertaking to elucidate wherefore.
Pluming a smile upon his succulent mouth, he told her that the poverty
she lived in was utterly unbefitting her gentle nurture, and that he had
reason to believe--could assure her--that an annuity was on the point of
being granted her by her husband. And Diaper broke his bud of a smile
into full flower as he delivered this information. She learnt that he
had applied to her husband for money. It is hard to have one's prop of
self-respect cut away just when we are suffering a martyr's agony at the
stake. There was a five minutes' tragic colloquy in the recesses behind
the scenes,--totally tragic to Diaper, who had fondly hoped to bask in
the warm sun of that annuity, and re-emerge from his state of grub. The
lady then wrote the letter Sir Austin held open to his sister. The
atmosphere behind the scenes is not wholesome, so, having laid the Ghost,
we will return and face the curtain.
That infinitesimal dose of The World which Master Ripton Thompson had
furnished to the System with such instantaneous and surprising effect was
considered by Sir Austin to have worked well, and to be for the time
quite sufficient, so that Ripton did not receive a second invitation to
Raynham, and Richard had no special intimate of his own age to rub his
excessive vitality against, and wanted none. His hands were full enough
with Tom Bakewell. Moreover, his father and he were heart in heart. The
boy's mind was opening, and turned to his father affectionately reverent.
At this period, when the young savage grows into higher influences, the
faculty of worship is foremost in him. At this period Jesuits will stamp
the future of their chargeling flocks; and all who bring up youth by a
System, and watch it, know that it is the malleable moment. Boys
possessing any mental or moral force to give them a tendency, then
predestinate their careers; or, if under supervision, take the impress
that is given them: not often to cast it off, and seldom to cast it off
In Sir Austin's Note-book was written: "Between Simple Boyhood and
Adolescence--The Blossoming Season--on the threshold of Puberty, there is
one Unselfish Hour--say, Spiritual Seed-time."
He took care that good seed should be planted in Richard, and that the
most fruitful seed for a youth, namely, Example, should be of a kind to
germinate in him the love of every form of nobleness.
"I am only striving to make my son a Christian," he said, answering them
who persisted in expostulating with the System. And to these
instructions he gave an aim: "First be virtuous," he told his son, "and
then serve your country with heart and soul." The youth was instructed
to cherish an ambition for statesmanship, and he and his father read
history and the speeches of British orators to some purpose; for one day
Sir Austin found him leaning cross-legged, and with his hand to his chin,
against a pedestal supporting the bust of Chatham, contemplating the hero
of our Parliament, his eyes streaming with tears.
People said the baronet carried the principle of Example so far that he
only retained his boozing dyspeptic brother Hippias at Raynham in order
to exhibit to his son the woeful retribution nature wreaked upon a life
of indulgence; poor Hippias having now become a walking complaint. This
was unjust, but there is no doubt he made use of every illustration to
disgust or encourage his son that his neighbourhood afforded him, and did
not spare his brother, for whom Richard entertained a contempt in
proportion to his admiration of his father, and was for flying into
penitential extremes which Sir Austin had to soften.
The boy prayed with his father morning and night.
"How is it, sir," he said one night, "I can't get Tom Bakewell to pray?"
"Does he refuse?" Sir Austin asked.
"He seems to be ashamed to," Richard replied. "He wants to know what is
the good? and I don't know what to tell him."
"I'm afraid it has gone too far with him," said Sir Austin, "and until he
has had some deep sorrows he will not find the divine want of Prayer.
Strive, my son, when you represent the people, to provide for their
education. He feels everything now through a dull impenetrable rind.
Culture is half-way to heaven. Tell him, my son, should he ever be
brought to ask how he may know the efficacy of Prayer, and that his
prayer will be answered, tell him (he quoted The Pilgrim's Scrip):
"'Who rises from Prayer a better man, his prayer is answered.'"
"I will, sir," said Richard, and went to sleep happy.
Happy in his father and in himself, the youth now lived. Conscience was
beginning to inhabit him, and he carried some of the freightage known to
men; though in so crude a form that it overweighed him, now on this side,
now on that.
The wise youth Adrian observed these further progressionary developments
in his pupil, soberly cynical. He was under Sir Austin's interdict not
to banter him, and eased his acrid humours inspired by the sight of a
felonious young rick-burner turning saint, by grave affectations of
sympathy and extreme accuracy in marking the not widely-distant dates of
his various changes. The Bread-and-water phase lasted a fortnight: the
Vegetarian (an imitation of his cousin Austin), little better than a
month: the religious, somewhat longer: the religious-propagandist (when
he was for converting the heathen of Lobourne and Burnley, and the
domestics of the Abbey, including Tom Bakewell), longer still, and hard
to bear;--he tried to convert Adrian! All the while Tom was being
exercised like a raw recruit. Richard had a drill-sergeant from the
nearest barracks down for him, to give him a proper pride in himself, and
marched him to and fro with immense satisfaction, and nearly broke his
heart trying to get the round-shouldered rustic to take in the rudiments
of letters: for the boy had unbounded hopes for Tom, as a hero in grain.
Richard's pride also was cast aside. He affected to be, and really
thought he was, humble. Whereupon Adrian, as by accident, imparted to
him the fact that men were animals, and he an animal with the rest of
"I an animal!" cries Richard in scorn, and for weeks he was as troubled
by this rudiment of self-knowledge as Tom by his letters. Sir Austin had
him instructed in the wonders of anatomy, to restore his self-respect.
Seed-Time passed thus smoothly, and adolescence came on, and his cousin
Clare felt what it was to be of an opposite sex to him. She too was
growing, but nobody cared how she grew. Outwardly even her mother seemed
absorbed in the sprouting of the green off-shoot of the Feverel tree, and
Clare was his handmaiden, little marked by him.
Lady Blandish honestly loved the boy. She would tell him: "If I had been
a girl, I would have had you for my husband." And he with the frankness
of his years would reply: "And how do you know I would have had you?"
causing her to laugh and call him a silly boy, for had he not heard her
say she would have had him? Terrible words, he knew not then the meaning
"You don't read your father's Book," she said. Her own copy was bound in
purple velvet, gilt-edged, as decorative ladies like to have holier
books, and she carried it about with her, and quoted it, and (Adrian
remarked to Mrs. Doria) hunted a noble quarry, and deliberately aimed at
him therewith, which Mrs. Doria chose to believe, and regretted her
brother would not be on his guard.
"See here," said Lady Blandish, pressing an almondy finger-nail to one of
the Aphorisms, which instanced how age and adversity must clay-enclose us
ere we can effectually resist the magnetism of any human creature in our
path. "Can you understand it, child?"
Richard informed her that when she read he could.
"Well, then, my squire," she touched his cheek and ran her fingers
through his hair, "learn as quick as you can not to be all hither and yon
with a hundred different attractions, as I was before I met a wise man to
"Is my father very wise?" Richard asked.
"I think so," the lady emphasized her individual judgment.
"Do you--" Richard broke forth, and was stopped by a beating of his
"Do I--what?" she calmly queried.
"I was going to say, do you--I mean, I love him so much."
Lady Blandish smiled and slightly coloured.
They frequently approached this theme, and always retreated from it;
always with the same beating of heart to Richard, accompanied by the
sense of a growing mystery, which, however, did not as yet generally
Life was made very pleasant to him at Raynham, as it was part of Sir
Austin's principle of education that his boy should be thoroughly joyous
and happy; and whenever Adrian sent in a satisfactory report of his
pupil's advancement, which he did pretty liberally, diversions were
planned, just as prizes are given to diligent school-boys, and Richard
was supposed to have all his desires gratified while he attended to his
studies. The System flourished. Tall, strong, bloomingly healthy, he
took the lead of his companions on land and water, and had more than one
bondsman in his service besides Ripton Thompson--the boy without a
Destiny! Perhaps the boy with a Destiny was growing up a trifle too
conscious of it. His generosity to his occasional companions was
princely, but was exercised something too much in the manner of a prince;
and, notwithstanding his contempt for baseness, he would overlook that
more easily than an offence to his pride, which demanded an utter
servility when it had once been rendered susceptible. If Richard had his
followers he had also his feuds. The Papworths were as subservient as
Ripton, but young Ralph Morton, the nephew of Mr. Morton, and a match for
Richard in numerous promising qualities, comprising the noble science of
fisticuffs, this youth spoke his mind too openly,
and moreover would not be snubbed. There was no middle course for
Richard's comrades between high friendship or absolute slavery. He was
deficient in those cosmopolite habits and feelings which enable boys and
men to hold together without caring much for each other; and, like every
insulated mortal, he attributed the deficiency, of which he was quite
aware, to the fact of his possessing a superior nature. Young Ralph was
a lively talker: therefore, argued Richard's vanity, he had no intellect.
He was affable: therefore he was frivolous. The women liked him:
therefore he was a butterfly. In fine, young Ralph was popular, and our
superb prince, denied the privilege of despising, ended by detesting him.
Early in the days of their contention for leadership, Richard saw the
absurdity of affecting to scorn his rival. Ralph was an Eton boy, and
hence, being robust, a swimmer and a cricketer. A swimmer and a
cricketer is nowhere to be scorned in youth's republic. Finding that
manoeuvre would not do, Richard was prompted once or twice to entrench
himself behind his greater wealth and his position; but he soon abandoned
that also, partly because his chilliness to ridicule told him he was
exposing himself, and chiefly that his heart was too chivalrous. And so
he was dragged into the lists by Ralph, and experienced the luck of
champions. For cricket, and for diving, Ralph bore away the belt:
Richard's middle-stump tottered before his ball, and he could seldom pick
up more than three eggs underwater to Ralph's half-dozen. He was beaten,
too, in jumping and running. Why will silly mortals strive to the
painful pinnacles of championship? Or why, once having reached them, not
have the magnanimity and circumspection to retire into private life
immediately? Stung by his defeats, Richard sent one of his dependent
Papworths to Poer Hall, with a challenge to Ralph Barthrop Morton;
matching himself to swim across the Thames and back, once, trice, or
thrice, within a less time than he, Ralph Barthrop Morton, would require
for the undertaking. It was accepted, and a reply returned, equally
formal in the trumpeting of Christian names, wherein Ralph Barthrop
Morton acknowledged the challenge of Richard Doria Feverel, and was his
man. The match came off on a midsummer morning, under the direction of
Captain Algernon. Sir Austin was a spectator from the cover of a
plantation by the river-side, unknown to his son, and, to the scandal of
her sex, Lady Blandish accompanied the baronet. He had invited her
attendance, and she, obeying her frank nature, and knowing what The
Pilgrim's Scrip said about prudes, at once agreed to view the match,
pleasing him mightily. For was not here a woman worthy the Golden Ages
of the world? one who could look upon man as a creature divinely made,
and look with a mind neither tempted, nor taunted, by the Serpent! Such
a woman was rare. Sir Austin did not discompose her by uttering his
praises. She was conscious of his approval only in an increased
gentleness of manner, and something in his voice and communications, as
if he were speaking to a familiar, a very high compliment from him.
While the lads were standing ready for the signal to plunge from the
steep decline of greensward into the shining waters, Sir Austin called
upon her to admire their beauty, and she did, and even advanced her head
above his shoulder delicately. In so doing, and just as the start was
given, a bonnet became visible to Richard. Young Ralph was heels in air
before he moved, and then he dropped like lead. He was beaten by several
The result of the match was unaccountable to all present, and Richard's
friends unanimously pressed him to plead a false start. But though the
youth, with full confidence in his better style and equal strength, had
backed himself heavily against his rival, and had lost his little river-
yacht to Ralph, he would do nothing of the sort. It was the Bonnet had
beaten him, not Ralph. The Bonnet, typical of the mystery that caused
his heart those violent palpitations, was his dear, detestable enemy.
And now, as he progressed from mood to mood, his ambition turned towards
a field where Ralph could not rival him, and where the Bonnet was
etherealized, and reigned glorious mistress. A cheek to the pride of a
boy will frequently divert him to the path where lie his subtlest powers.
Richard gave up his companions, servile or antagonistic: he relinquished
the material world to young Ralph, and retired into himself, where he was
growing to be lord of kingdoms where Beauty was his handmaid, and History
his minister and Time his ancient harper, and sweet Romance his bride;
where he walked in a realm vaster and more gorgeous than the great
Orient, peopled with the heroes that have been. For there is no princely
wealth, and no loftiest heritage, to equal this early one that is made
bountifully common to so many, when the ripening blood has put a spark to
the imagination, and the earth is seen through rosy mists of a thousand
fresh-awakened nameless and aimless desires; panting for bliss and taking
it as it comes; making of any sight or sound, perforce of the enchantment
they carry with them, a key to infinite, because innocent, pleasure. The
passions then are gambolling cubs; not the ravaging gluttons they grow
to. They have their teeth and their talons, but they neither tear nor
bite. They are in counsel and fellowship with the quickened heart and
brain. The whole sweet system moves to music.
Something akin to the indications of a change in the spirit of his son,
which were now seen, Sir Austin had marked down to be expected, as due to
his plan. The blushes of the youth, his long vigils, his clinging to
solitude, his abstraction, and downcast but not melancholy air, were
matters for rejoicing to the prescient gentleman. "For it comes," said
he to Dr. Clifford of Lobourne, after consulting him medically on the
youth's behalf and being assured of his soundness, "it comes of a
thoroughly sane condition. The blood is healthy, the mind virtuous:
neither instigates the other to evil, and both are perfecting toward the
flower of manhood. If he reach that pure--in the untainted fulness and
perfection of his natural powers--I am indeed a happy father! But one
thing he will owe to me: that at one period of his life he knew paradise,
and could read God's handwriting on the earth! Now those abominations
whom you call precocious boys--your little pet monsters, doctor!--and who
can wonder that the world is what it is? when it is full of them--as they
will have no divine time to look back upon in their own lives, how can
they believe in innocence and goodness, or be other than sons of
selfishness and the Devil? But my boy," and the baronet dropped his
voice to a key that was touching to hear, "my boy, if he fall, will fall
from an actual region of purity. He dare not be a sceptic as to that.
Whatever his darkness, he will have the guiding light of a memory behind
him. So much is secure."
To talk nonsense, or poetry, or the dash between the two, in a tone of
profound sincerity, and to enunciate solemn discordances with received
opinion so seriously as to convey the impression of a spiritual insight,
is the peculiar gift by which monomaniacs, having first persuaded
themselves, contrive to influence their neighbours, and through them to
make conquest of a good half of the world, for good or for ill. Sir
Austin had this gift. He spoke as if he saw the truth, and, persisting
in it so long, he was accredited by those who did not understand him, and
silenced them that did.
"We shall see," was all the argument left to Dr. Clifford, and other
So far certainly the experiment had succeeded. A comelier, bracer,
better boy was nowhere to be met. His promise was undeniable. The
vessel, too, though it lay now in harbour and had not yet been proved by
the buffets of the elements on the great ocean, had made a good trial
trip, and got well through stormy weather, as the records of the Bakewell
Comedy witnessed to at Raynham. No augury could be hopefuller. The
Fates must indeed be hard, the Ordeal severe, the Destiny dark, that
could destroy so bright a Spring! But, bright as it was, the baronet
relaxed nothing of his vigilant supervision. He said to his intimates:
"Every act, every fostered inclination, almost every thought, in this
Blossoming Season, bears its seed for the Future. The living Tree now
requires incessant watchfulness." And, acting up to his light, Sir Austin
did watch. The youth submitted to an examination every night before he
sought his bed; professedly to give an account of his studies, but really
to recapitulate his moral experiences of the day. He could do so, for he
was pure. Any wildness in him that his father noted, any remoteness or
richness of fancy in his expressions, was set down as incidental to the
Blossoming Season. There is nothing like a theory for binding the wise.
Sir Austin, despite his rigid watch and ward, knew less of his son than
the servant of his household. And he was deaf, as well as blind. Adrian
thought it his duty to tell him that the youth was consuming paper. Lady
Blandish likewise hinted at his mooning propensities. Sir Austin from
his lofty watch-tower of the System had foreseen it, he said. But when
he came to hear that the youth was writing poetry, his wounded heart had
its reasons for being much disturbed.
"Surely," said Lady Blandish, "you knew he scribbled?"
"A very different thing from writing poetry," said the baronet. "No
Feverel has ever written poetry."
"I don't think it's a sign of degeneracy," the lady remarked. "He rhymes
very prettily to me."
A London phrenologist, and a friendly Oxford Professor of poetry, quieted
Sir Austin's fears.
The phrenologist said he was totally deficient in the imitative faculty;
and the Professor, that he was equally so in the rhythmic, and instanced
several consoling false quantities in the few effusions submitted to him.
Added to this, Sir Austin told Lady Blandish that Richard had, at his
best, done what no poet had ever been known to be capable of doing: he
had, with his own hands, and in cold blood, committed his virgin
manuscript to the flames: which made Lady Blandish sigh forth, "Poor
Killing one's darling child is a painful imposition. For a youth in his
Blossoming Season, who fancies himself a poet, to be requested to destroy
his first-born, without a reason (though to pretend a reason cogent
enough to justify the request were a mockery), is a piece of abhorrent
despotism, and Richard's blossoms withered under it. A strange man had
been introduced to him, who traversed and bisected his skull with
sagacious stiff fingers, and crushed his soul while, in an infallible
voice, declaring him the animal he was making him feel such an animal!
Not only his blossoms withered, his being seemed to draw in its shoots
and twigs. And when, coupled thereunto (the strange man having departed,
his work done), his father, in his tenderest manner, stated that it would
give him pleasure to see those same precocious, utterly valueless,
scribblings among the cinders, the last remaining mental blossoms
spontaneously fell away. Richard's spirit stood bare. He protested not.
Enough that it could be wished! He would not delay a minute in doing it.
Desiring his father to follow him, he went to a drawer in his room, and
from a clean-linen recess, never suspected by Sir Austin, the secretive
youth drew out bundle after bundle: each neatly tied, named, and
numbered: and pitched them into flames. And so Farewell my young
Ambition! and with it farewell all true confidence between Father and
It was now, as Sir Austin had written it down, The Magnetic Age: the Age
of violent attractions, when to hear mention of love is dangerous, and to
see it, a communication of the disease. People at Raynham were put on
their guard by the baronet, and his reputation for wisdom was severely
criticized in consequence of the injunctions he thought fit to issue
through butler and housekeeper down to the lower household, for the
preservation of his son from any visible symptom of the passion. A
footman and two housemaids are believed to have been dismissed on the
report of heavy Benson that they were in or inclining to the state; upon
which an undercook and a dairymaid voluntarily threw up their places,
averring that "they did not want no young men, but to have their sex
spied after by an old wretch like that," indicating the ponderous butler,
"was a little too much for a Christian woman," and then they were
ungenerous enough to glance at Benson's well-known marital calamity,
hinting that some men met their deserts. So intolerable did heavy
Benson's espionage become, that Raynham would have grown depopulated of
its womankind had not Adrian interfered, who pointed out to the baronet
what a fearful arm his butler was wielding. Sir Austin acknowledged it
despondently. "It only shows," said he, with a fine spirit of justice,
"how all but impossible it is to legislate where there are women!"
"I do not object," he added; "I hope I am too just to object to the
exercise of their natural inclinations. All I ask from them is
"Ay," said Adrian, whose discreetness was a marvel.
"No gadding about in couples," continued the baronet, "no kissing in
public. Such occurrences no boy should witness. Whenever people of both
sexes are thrown together, they will be silly; and where they are high-
fed, uneducated, and barely occupied, it must be looked for as a matter
of course. Let it be known that I only require discreetness."
Discreetness, therefore, was instructed to reign at the Abbey. Under
Adrian's able tuition the fairest of its domestics acquired that virtue.
Discreetness, too, was enjoined to the upper household. Sir Austin, who
had not previously appeared to notice the case of Lobourne's hopeless
curate, now desired Mrs. Doria to interdict, or at least discourage, his
visits, for the appearance of the man was that of an embodied sigh and
"Really, Austin!" said Mrs. Doria, astonished to find her brother more
awake than she had supposed, "I have never allowed him to hope."
"Let him see it, then," replied the baronet; "let him see it."
"The man amuses me," said Mrs. Doria. "You know, we have few amusements
here, we inferior creatures. I confess I should like a barrel-organ
better; that reminds one of town and the opera; and besides, it plays
more than one tune. However, since you think my society bad for him, let
him stop away."
With the self-devotion of a woman she grew patient and sweet the moment
her daughter Clare was spoken of, and the business of her life in view.
Mrs. Doria's maternal heart had betrothed the two cousins, Richard and
Clare; had already beheld them espoused and fruitful. For this she
yielded the pleasures of town; for this she immured herself at Raynham;
for this she bore with a thousand follies, exactions, inconveniences,
things abhorrent to her, and heaven knows what forms of torture and self-
denial, which are smilingly endured by that greatest of voluntary
martyrs--a mother with a daughter to marry. Mrs. Doria, an amiable
widow, had surely married but for her daughter Clare. The lady's hair no
woman could possess without feeling it her pride. It was the daily theme
of her lady's-maid,--a natural aureole to her head. She was gay, witty,
still physically youthful enough to claim a destiny; and she sacrificed
it to accomplish her daughter's! sacrificed, as with heroic scissors,
hair, wit, gaiety--let us not attempt to enumerate how much! more than
may be said. And she was only one of thousands; thousands who have no
portion of the hero's reward; for he may reckon on applause, and
condolence, and sympathy, and honour; they, poor slaves! must look for
nothing but the opposition of their own sex and the sneers of ours. O,
Sir Austin! had you not been so blinded, what an Aphorism might have
sprung from this point of observation! Mrs. Doria was coolly told,
between sister and brother, that during the Magnetic Age her daughter's
presence at Raynham was undesirable. Instead of nursing offence, her
sole thought was the mountain of prejudice she had to contend against.
She bowed, and said, Clare wanted sea-air--she had never quite recovered
the shock of that dreadful night. How long, Mrs. Doria wished to know,
might the Peculiar Period be expected to last?
"That," said Sir Austin, "depends. A year, perhaps. He is entering on
it. I shall be most grieved to lose you, Helen. Clare is now--how old?"
"She is marriageable."
"Marriageable, Austin! at seventeen! don't name such a thing. My child
shall not be robbed of her youth."
"Our women marry early, Helen."
"My child shall not!"
The baronet reflected a moment. He did not wish to lose his sister.
"As you are of that opinion, Helen," said he, "perhaps we may still make
arrangements to retain you with us. Would you think it advisable to send
Clare--she should know discipline--to some establishment for a few
"To an asylum, Austin?" cried Mrs. Doria, controlling her indignation as
well as she could.
"To some select superior seminary, Helen. There are such to be found."
"Austin!" Mrs. Doria exclaimed, and had to fight with a moisture in her
eyes. "Unjust! absurd!" she murmured. The baronet thought it a natural
proposition that Clare should be a bride or a schoolgirl.
"I cannot leave my child." Mrs. Doria trembled. "Where she goes, I go.
I am aware that she is only one of our sex, and therefore of no value to
the world, but she is my child. I will see, poor dear, that you have no
cause to complain of her."
"I thought," Sir Austin remarked, "that you acquiesced in my views with
regard to my son."
"Yes--generally," said Mrs. Doria, and felt culpable that she had not
before, and could not then, tell her brother that he had set up an Idol
in his house--an Idol of flesh! more retributive and abominable than wood
or brass or gold. But she had bowed to the Idol too long--she had too
entirely bound herself to gain her project by subserviency. She had, and
she dimly perceived it, committed a greater fault in tactics, in teaching
her daughter to bow to the Idol also. Love of that kind Richard took for
tribute. He was indifferent to Clare's soft eyes. The parting kiss he
gave her was ready and cold as his father could desire. Sir Austin now
grew eloquent to him in laudation of manly pursuits: but Richard thought
his eloquence barren, his attempts at companionship awkward, and all
manly pursuits and aims, life itself, vain and worthless. To what end?
sighed the blossomless youth, and cried aloud, as soon as he was relieved
of his father's society, what was the good of anything? Whatever he did-
-whichever path he selected, led back to Raynham. And whatever he did,
however wretched and wayward he showed himself, only confirmed Sir Austin
more and more in the truth of his previsions. Tom Bakewell, now the
youth's groom, had to give the baronet a report of his young master's
proceedings, in common with Adrian, and while there was no harm to tell,
Tom spoke out. "He do ride like fire every day to Pig's Snout," naming
the highest hill in the neighbourhood, "and stand there and stare, never
movin', like a mad 'un. And then hoam agin all slack as if he'd been
beaten in a race by somebody."
"There is no woman in that!" mused the baronet. "He would have ridden
back as hard as he went," reflected this profound scientific humanist,
"had there been a woman in it. He would shun vast expanses, and seek
shade, concealment, solitude. The desire for distances betokens
emptiness and undirected hunger: when the heart is possessed by an image
we fly to wood and forest, like the guilty."
Adrian's report accused his pupil of an extraordinary access of cynicism.
"Exactly," said the baronet. "As I foresaw. At this period an insatiate
appetite is accompanied by a fastidious palate. Nothing but the
quintessences of existence, and those in exhaustless supplies, will
satisfy this craving, which is not to be satisfied! Hence his
bitterness. Life can furnish no food fitting for him. The strength and
purity of his energies have reached to an almost divine height, and roam
through the Inane. Poetry, love, and such-like, are the drugs earth has
to offer to high natures, as she offers to low ones debauchery. 'Tis a
sign, this sourness, that he is subject to none of the empiricisms that
are afloat. Now to keep him clear of them!"
The Titans had an easier task in storming Olympus. As yet, however, it
could not be said that Sir Austin's System had failed. On the contrary,
it had reared a youth, handsome, intelligent, well-bred, and, observed
the ladies, with acute emphasis, innocent. Where, they asked, was such
another young man to be found?
"Oh!" said Lady Blandish to Sir Austin, "if men could give their hands to
women unsoiled--how different would many a marriage be! She will be a
happy girl who calls Richard husband."
"Happy, indeed!" was the baronet's caustic ejaculation. "But where shall
I meet one equal to him, and his match?"
"I was innocent when I was a girl," said the lady.
Sir Austin bowed a reserved opinion.
"Do you think no girls innocent?"
Sir Austin gallantly thought them all so.
"No, that you know they are not," said the lady, stamping. "But they are
more innocent than boys, I am sure."
"Because of their education, madam. You see now what a youth can be.
Perhaps, when my System is published, or rather--to speak more humbly--
when it is practised, the balance may be restored, and we shall have
virtuous young men."
"It's too late for poor me to hope for a husband from one of them," said
the lady, pouting and laughing.
"It is never too late for beauty to waken love," returned the baronet,
and they trifled a little. They were approaching Daphne's Bower, which
they entered, and sat there to taste the coolness of a descending
The baronet seemed in a humour for dignified fooling; the lady for
"I shall believe again in Arthur's knights," she said. "When I was a
girl I dreamed of one."
"And he was in quest of the San Greal?"
"If you like."
"And showed his good taste by turning aside for the more tangible San
"Of course you consider it would have been so," sighed the lady,
"I can only judge by our generation," said Sir Austin, with a bend of
The lady gathered her mouth. "Either we are very mighty or you are very
"But whatever we are, and if we are bad, bad! we love virtue, and truth,
and lofty souls, in men: and, when we meet those qualities in them, we
are constant, and would die for them--die for them. Ah! you know men but
"The knights possessing such distinctions must be young, I presume?" said
"Old, or young!"
"But if old, they are scarce capable of enterprise?"
"They are loved for themselves, not for their deeds."
"Yes--ah!" said the lady. "Intellect may subdue women--make slaves of
them; and they worship beauty perhaps as much as you do. But they only
love for ever and are mated when they meet a noble nature."
Sir Austin looked at her wistfully.
"And did you encounter the knight of your dream?"
"Not then." She lowered her eyelids. It was prettily done.
"And how did you bear the disappointment?"
"My dream was in the nursery. The day my frock was lengthened to a gown
I stood at the altar. I am not the only girl that has been made a woman
in a day, and given to an ogre instead of a true knight."
"Good God!" exclaimed Sir Austin, "women have much to bear."
Here the couple changed characters. The lady became gay as the baronet
"You know it is our lot," she said. "And we are allowed many amusements.
If we fulfil our duty in producing children, that, like our virtue, is
its own reward. Then, as a widow, I have wonderful privileges."
"To preserve which, you remain a widow?"
"Certainly," she responded. "I have no trouble now in patching and
piecing that rag the world calls--a character. I can sit at your feet
every day unquestioned. To be sure, others do the same, but they are
female eccentrics, and have cast off the rag altogether."
Sir Austin drew nearer to her. "You would have made an admirable mother,
This from Sir Austin was very like positive wooing.
"It is," he continued, "ten thousand pities that you are not one."
"Do you think so?" She spoke with humility.
"I would," he went on, "that heaven had given you a daughter."
"Would you have thought her worthy of Richard?"
"Our blood, madam, should have been one!"
The lady tapped her toe with her parasol. "But I am a mother," she said.
"Richard is my son. Yes! Richard is my boy," she reiterated.
Sir Austin most graciously appended, "Call him ours, madam," and held his
head as if to catch the word from her lips, which, however, she chose to
refuse, or defer. They made the coloured West a common point for their
eyes, and then Sir Austin said:
"As you will not say 'ours,' let me. And, as you have therefore an equal
claim on the boy, I will confide to you a project I have lately
The announcement of a project hardly savoured of a coming proposal, but
for Sir Austin to confide one to a woman was almost tantamount to a
declaration. So Lady Blandish thought, and so said her soft, deep-eyed
smile, as she perused the ground while listening to the project. It
concerned Richard's nuptials. He was now nearly eighteen. He was to
marry when he was five-and-twenty. Meantime a young lady, some years his
junior, was to be sought for in the homes of England, who would be every
way fitted by education, instincts, and blood--on each of which
qualifications Sir Austin unreservedly enlarged--to espouse so perfect a
youth and accept the honourable duty of assisting in the perpetuation of
the Feverels. The baronet went on to say that he proposed to set forth
immediately, and devote a couple of months, to the first essay in his
"I fear," said Lady Blandish, when the project had been fully unfolded,
"you have laid down for yourself a difficult task. You must not be too
"I know it." The baronet's shake of the head was piteous.
"Even in England she will be rare. But I confine myself to no class. If
I ask for blood it is for untainted, not what you call high blood. I
believe many of the middle classes are frequently more careful--more
pure-blooded--than our aristocracy. Show me among them a God-fearing
family who educate their children--I should prefer a girl without
brothers and sisters--as a Christian damsel should be educated--say, on
the model of my son, and she may be penniless, I will pledge her to
Lady Blandish bit her lip. "And what do you do with Richard while you
are absent on this expedition?"
"Oh!" said the baronet, "he accompanies his father."
"Then give it up. His future bride is now pinafored and bread-and-
buttery. She romps, she cries, she dreams of play and pudding. How can
he care for her? He thinks more at his age of old women like me. He
will be certain to kick against her, and destroy your plan, believe me,
"Ay? ay? do you think that?" said the baronet.
Lady Blandish gave him a multitude of reasons.
"Ay! true," he muttered. "Adrian said the same. He must not see her.
How could I think of it! The child is naked woman. He would despise
"Naturally!" echoed the lady.
"Then, madam," and the baronet rose, "there is one thing for me to
determine upon. I must, for the first time in his life, leave him."
"Will you, indeed?" said the lady.
"It is my duty, having thus brought him up, to see that he is properly
mated,--not wrecked upon the quicksands of marriage, as a youth so
delicately trained might be; more easily than another! Betrothed, he
will be safe from a thousand snares. I may, I think, leave him for a
term. My precautions have saved him from the temptations of his season."
"And under whose charge will you leave him?" Lady Blandish inquired.
She had emerged from the temple, and stood beside Sir Austin on the upper
steps, under a clear summer twilight.
"Madam!" he took her hand, and his voice was gallant and tender, "under
whose but yours?"
As the baronet said this, he bent above her hand, and raised it to his
Lady Blandish felt that she had been wooed and asked in wedlock. She did
not withdraw her hand. The baronet's salute was flatteringly reverent.
He deliberated over it, as one going through a grave ceremony. And he,
the scorner of women, had chosen her for his homage! Lady Blandish
forgot that she had taken some trouble to arrive at it. She received the
exquisite compliment in all its unique honey-sweet: for in love we must
deserve nothing or the fine bloom of fruition is gone.
The lady's hand was still in durance, and the baronet had not recovered
from his profound inclination, when a noise from the neighbouring
beechwood startled the two actors in this courtly pantomime. They turned
their heads, and beheld the hope of Raynham on horseback surveying the
scene. The next moment he had galloped away.
All night Richard tossed on his bed with his heart in a rapid canter, and
his brain bestriding it, traversing the rich untasted world, and the
great Realm of Mystery, from which he was now restrained no longer.
Months he had wandered about the gates of the Bonnet, wondering, sighing,
knocking at them, and getting neither admittance nor answer. He had the
key now. His own father had given it to him. His heart was a lightning
steed, and bore him on and on over limitless regions bathed in superhuman
beauty and strangeness, where cavaliers and ladies leaned whispering upon
close green swards, and knights and ladies cast a splendour upon savage
forests, and tilts and tourneys were held in golden courts lit to a
glorious day by ladies' eyes, one pair of which, dimly visioned,
constantly distinguishable, followed him through the boskage and dwelt
upon him in the press, beaming while he bent above a hand glittering
white and fragrant as the frosted blossom of a May night.
Awhile the heart would pause and flutter to a shock: he was in the act of
consummating all earthly bliss by pressing his lips to the small white
hand. Only to do that, and die! cried the Magnetic Youth: to fling the
Jewel of Life into that one cup and drink it off! He was intoxicated by
anticipation. For that he was born. There was, then, some end in
existence, something to live for! to kiss a woman's hand, and die! He
would leap from the couch, and rush to pen and paper to relieve his
swarming sensations. Scarce was he seated when the pen was dashed aside,
the paper sent flying with the exclamation, "Have I not sworn I would
never write again?" Sir Austin had shut that safety-valve. The nonsense
that was in the youth might have poured harmlessly out, and its urgency
for ebullition was so great that he was repeatedly oblivious of his oath,
and found himself seated under the lamp in the act of composition before
pride could speak a word. Possibly the pride even of Richard Feverel had
been swamped if the act of composition were easy at such a time, and a
single idea could stand clearly foremost; but myriads were demanding the
first place; chaotic hosts, like ranks of stormy billows, pressed
impetuously for expression, and despair of reducing them to form, quite
as much as pride, to which it pleased him to refer his incapacity, threw
down the powerless pen, and sent him panting to his outstretched length
and another headlong career through the rosy-girdled land.
Toward morning the madness of the fever abated somewhat, and he went
forth into the air. A lamp was still burning in his father's room, and
Richard thought, as he looked up, that he saw the ever-vigilant head on
the watch. Instantly the lamp was extinguished, the window stood cold
against the hues of dawn.
Strong pulling is an excellent medical remedy for certain classes of
fever. Richard took to it instinctively. The clear fresh water,
burnished with sunrise, sparkled against his arrowy prow; the soft deep
shadows curled smiling away from his gliding keel. Overhead solitary
morning unfolded itself, from blossom to bud, from bud to flower; still,
delicious changes of light and colour, to whose influences he was
heedless as he shot under willows and aspens, and across sheets of river-
reaches, pure mirrors to the upper glory, himself the sole tenant of the
stream. Somewhere at the founts of the world lay the land he was rowing
toward; something of its shadowed lights might be discerned here and
there. It was not a dream, now he knew. There was a secret abroad. The
woods were full of it; the waters rolled with it, and the winds. Oh, why
could not one in these days do some high knightly deed which should draw
down ladies' eyes from their heaven, as in the days of Arthur! To such a
meaning breathed the unconscious sighs of the youth, when he had pulled
through his first feverish energy.
He was off Bursley, and had lapsed a little into that musing quietude
which follows strenuous exercise, when be heard a hail and his own name
called. It was no lady, no fairy, but young Ralph Morton, an irruption
of miserable masculine prose. Heartily wishing him abed with the rest of
mankind, Richard rowed in and jumped ashore. Ralph immediately seized
his arm, saying that he desired earnestly to have a talk with him, and
dragged the Magnetic Youth from his water-dreams, up and down the wet
mown grass. That he had to say seemed to be difficult of utterance, and
Richard, though he barely listened, soon had enough of his old rival's
gladness at seeing him, and exhibited signs of impatience; whereat Ralph,
as one who branches into matter somewhat foreign to his mind, but of
great human interest and importance, put the question to him:
"I say, what woman's name do you like best?"
"I don't know any," quoth Richard, indifferently. "Why are you out so
In answer to this, Ralph suggested that the name of Mary might be
considered a pretty name.
Richard agreed that it might be; the housekeeper at Raynham, half the
women cooks, and all the housemaids enjoyed that name; the name of Mary
was equivalent for women at home.
"Yes, I know," said Ralph. "We have lots of Marys. It's so common. Oh!
I don't like Mary best. What do you think?"
Richard thought it just like another.
"Do you know," Ralph continued, throwing off the mask and plunging into
the subject, "I'd do anything on earth for some names--one or two. It's
not Mary, nor Lucy. Clarinda's pretty, but it's like a novel. Claribel,
I like. Names beginning with 'Cl' I prefer. The 'Cl's' are always
gentle and lovely girls you would die for! Don't you think so?"
Richard had never been acquainted with any of them to inspire that
emotion. Indeed these urgent appeals to his fancy in feminine names at
five o'clock in the morning slightly surprised him, though he was but
half awake to the outer world. By degrees he perceived that Ralph was
changed. Instead of the lusty boisterous boy, his rival in manly
sciences, who spoke straightforwardly and acted up to his speech, here
was an abashed and blush-persecuted youth, who sued piteously for a
friendly ear wherein to pour the one idea possessing him. Gradually,
too, Richard apprehended that Ralph likewise was on the frontiers of the
Realm of Mystery, perhaps further toward it than he himself was; and
then, as by a sympathetic stroke, was revealed to him the wonderful
beauty and depth of meaning in feminine names. The theme appeared novel
and delicious, fitted to the season and the hour. But the hardship was,
that Richard could choose none from the number; all were the same to him;
he loved them all.
"Don't you really prefer the 'Cl's'?" said Ralph, persuasively.
"Not better than the names ending in 'a' and 'y,' Richard replied,
wishing he could, for Ralph was evidently ahead of him.
"Come under these trees," said Ralph. And under the trees Ralph
unbosomed. His name was down for the army: Eton was quitted for ever.
In a few months he would have to join his regiment, and before he left he
must say goodbye to his friends.... Would Richard tell him Mrs. Forey's
address? he had heard she was somewhere by the sea. Richard did not
remember the address, but said he would willingly take charge of any
letter and forward it.
Ralph dived his hand into his pocket. "Here it is. But don't let
anybody see it."
"My aunt's name is not Clare," said Richard, perusing what was composed
of the exterior formula. "You've addressed it to Clare herself."
That was plain to see.
"Emmeline Clementina Matilda Laura, Countess Blandish," Richard continued
in a low tone, transferring the names, and playing on the musical strings
they were to him. Then he said: "Names of ladies! How they sweeten
He fixed his eyes on Ralph. If he discovered anything further he said
nothing, but bade the good fellow good-bye, jumped into his boat, and
pulled down the tide. The moment Ralph was hidden by an abutment of the
banks, Richard perused the address. For the first time it struck him
that his cousin Clare was a very charming creature: he remembered the
look of her eyes, and especially the last reproachful glance she gave him
at parting. What business had Ralph to write to her? Did she not belong
to Richard Feverel? He read the words again and again: Clare Doria
Forey. Why, Clare was the name he liked best--nay, he loved it. Doria,
too--she shared his own name with him. Away went his heart, not at a
canter now, at a gallop, as one who sights the quarry. He felt too weak
to pull. Clare Doria Forey--oh, perfect melody! Sliding with the tide,
he heard it fluting in the bosom of the hills.
When nature has made us ripe for love, it seldom occurs that the Fates