Part 4 out of 10
turning half over in the road to ease his aches.
Adrian caught hold of Benson's collar and lifted him to a sitting
posture. He then had a glimpse of what his hopeful pupil's hand could do
in wrath. The wretched butler's coat was slit and welted; his hat
knocked in; his flabby spirit so broken that he started and trembled if
his pitiless executioner stirred a foot. Richard stood over him,
grasping his great stick; no dawn of mercy for Benson in any corner of
Benson screwed his neck round to look up at him, and immediately gasped,
"I won't get up! I won't! He's ready to murder me again!--Mr. Hadrian!
if you stand by and see it, you're liable to the law, sir--I won't get up
while he's near." No persuasion could induce Benson to try his legs
while his executioner stood by.
Adrian took Richard aside: "You've almost killed the poor devil, Ricky.
You must be satisfied with that. Look at his face."
"The coward bobbed while I struck" said Richard. "I marked his back. He
ducked. I told him he was getting it worse."
At so civilized piece of savagery, Adrian opened his mouth wide.
"Did you really? I admire that. You told him he was getting it worse?"
Adrian opened his mouth again to shake another roll of laughter out.
"Come," he said, "Excalibur has done his word. Pitch him into the lake.
And see--here comes the Blandish. You can't be at it again before a
woman. Go and meet her, and tell her the noise was an ox being
slaughtered. Or say Argus."
With a whirr that made all Benson's bruises moan and quiver, the great
ash-branch shot aloft, and Richard swung off to intercept Lady Blandish.
Adrian got Benson on his feet. The heavy butler was disposed to summon
all the commiseration he could feel for his bruised flesh. Every half-
step he attempted was like a dislocation. His groans and grunts were
"How much did that hat cost, Benson?" said Adrian, as he put it on his
"A five-and-twenty shilling beaver, Mr. Hadrian!" Benson caressed its
"The cheapest policy of insurance I remember to have heard of!" said
Benson staggered, moaning at intervals to his cruel comforter.
"He's a devil, Mr. Hadrian! He's a devil, sir, I do believe, sir.
Ooogh! he's a devil!--I can't move, Mr. Hadrian. I must be fetched. And
Dr. Clifford must be sent for, sir. I shall never be fit for work again.
I haven't a sound bone in my body, Mr. Hadrian."
"You see, Benson, this comes of your declaring war upon Venus. I hope
the maids will nurse you properly. Let me see: you are friends with the
housekeeper, aren't you? All depends upon that."
"I'm only a faithful servant, Mr. Hadrian," the miserable butler snarled.
"Then you've got no friend but your bed. Get to it as quick as possible,
"I can't move." Benson made a resolute halt. "I must be fetched," he
whinnied. "It's a shame to ask me to move, Mr. Hadrian."
"You will admit that you are heavy, Benson," said Adrian, "so I can't
carry you. However, I see Mr. Richard is very kindly returning to help
At these words heavy Benson instantly found his legs, and shambled on.
Lady Blandish met Richard in dismay.
"I have been horribly frightened," she said. "Tell me, what was the
meaning of those cries I heard?"
"Only some one doing justice on a spy," said Richard, and the lady
smiled, and looked on him fondly, and put her hand through his hair.
"Was that all? I should have done it myself if I had been a man. Kiss
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
And so Farewell my young Ambition! and with it farewell all true
And to these instructions he gave an aim: "First be virtuous"
In Sir Austin's Note-book was written: "Between Simple Boyhood..."
It was now, as Sir Austin had written it down, The Magnetic Age
Laying of ghosts is a public duty
On the threshold of Puberty, there is one Unselfish Hour
Seed-Time passed thus smoothly, and adolescence came on
They believe that the angels have been busy about them
Who rises from Prayer a better man, his prayer is answered
Young as when she looked upon the lovers in Paradise
You've got no friend but your bed
THE ORDEAL OF RICHARD FEVEREL
By GEORGE MEREDITH
XXI. RICHARD IS SUMMONED TO TOWN TO HEAR A SERMON
XXII. INDICATES THE APPROACHES OF FEVER
XXIII. CRISIS IN THE APPLE-DISEASE
XXIV. OF THE SPRING PRIMROSE AND THE AUTUMNAL
XXV. IN WHICH THE HERO TAKES A STEP
XXVI. RECORDS THE RAPID DEVELOPMENT OF THE HERO
XXVII. CONTAINS AN INTERCESSION FOR THE HEROINE
By twelve o'clock at noon next day the inhabitants of Raynham Abbey knew
that Berry, the baronet's man, had arrived post-haste from town, with
orders to conduct Mr. Richard thither, and that Mr. Richard had refused
to go, had sworn he would not, defied his father, and despatched Berry to
the Shades. Berry was all that Benson was not. Whereas Benson hated
woman, Berry admired her warmly. Second to his own stately person, woman
occupied his reflections, and commanded his homage. Berry was of
majestic port, and used dictionary words. Among the maids of Raynham his
conscious calves produced all the discord and the frenzy those adornments
seem destined to create in tender bosoms. He had, moreover, the
reputation of having suffered for the sex; which assisted his object in
inducing the sex to suffer for him. What with his calves, and his
dictionary words, and the attractive halo of the mysterious
vindictiveness of Venus surrounding him, this Adonis of the lower
household was a mighty man below, and he moved as one.
On hearing the tumult that followed Berry's arrival, Adrian sent for him,
and was informed of the nature of his mission, and its result.
"You should come to me first," said Adrian. "I should have imagined you
were shrewd enough for that, Berry?"
"Pardon me, Mr. Adrian," Berry doubled his elbow to explain. "Pardon me,
sir. Acting recipient of special injunctions I was not a free agent."
"Go to Mr. Richard again, Berry. There will be a little confusion if he
holds back. Perhaps you had better throw out a hint or so of apoplexy.
A slight hint will do. And here--Berry! when you return to town, you
had better not mention anything--to quote Johnson--of Benson's
"Certainly not, sir."
The wise youth's hint had the desired effect on Richard.
He dashed off a hasty letter by Tom to Belthorpe, and, mounting his
horse, galloped to the Bellingham station.
Sir Austin was sitting down to a quiet early dinner at his hotel, when
the Hope of Raynham burst into his room.
The baronet was not angry with his son. On the contrary, for he was
singularly just and self-accusing while pride was not up in arms, he had
been thinking all day after the receipt of Benson's letter that he was
deficient in cordiality, and did not, by reason of his excessive anxiety,
make himself sufficiently his son's companion: was not enough, as he
strove to be, mother and father to him.; preceptor and friend; previsor
and associate. He had not to ask his conscience where he had lately been
to blame towards the System. He had slunk away from Raynham in the very
crisis of the Magnetic Age, and this young woman of the parish (as Benson
had termed sweet Lucy in his letter) was the consequence.
Yes! pride and sensitiveness were his chief foes, and he would trample on
them. To begin, he embraced his son: hard upon an Englishman at any
time--doubly so to one so shamefaced at emotion in cool blood, as it
were. It gave him a strange pleasure, nevertheless. And the youth
seemed to answer to it; he was excited. Was his love, then, beginning to
correspond with his father's as in those intimate days before the
But when Richard, inarticulate at first in his haste, cried out,
"My dear, dear father! You are safe! I feared--You are better, sir?
Thank God!" Sir Austin stood away from him.
"Safe?" he said. "What has alarmed you?"
Instead of replying, Richard dropped into a chair, and seized his hand
and kissed it.
Sir Austin took a seat, and waited for his son to explain.
"Those doctors are such fools!" Richard broke out. "I was sure they were
wrong. They don't know headache from apoplexy. It's worth the ride,
sir, to see you. You left Raynham so suddenly.--But you are well!
It was not an attack of real apoplexy?"
His father's brows contorted, and he said, No, it was not. Richard
"If you were ill, I couldn't come too soon, though, if coroners' inquests
sat on horses, those doctors would be found guilty of mare-slaughter.
Cassandra'll be knocked up. I was too early for the train at Bellingham,
and I wouldn't wait. She did the distance in four hours and three-
quarters. Pretty good, sir, wasn't it?"
"It has given you appetite for dinner, I hope," said the baronet, not so
well pleased to find that it was not simple obedience that had brought
the youth to him in such haste.
"I'm ready," replied Richard. "I shall be in time to return by the last
train to-night. I will leave Cassandra in your charge for a rest."
His father quietly helped him to soup, which he commenced gobbling with
an eagerness that might pass for appetite.
"All well at Raynham?" said the baronet.
"The same as when I left?"
"No change whatever!"
"I shall be glad to get back to the old place," said the baronet. "My
stay in town has certainly been profitable. I have made some pleasant
acquaintances who may probably favour us with a visit there in the late
autumn--people you may be pleased to know. They are very anxious to see
"I love the old place," cried Richard. "I never wish to leave it."
"Why, boy, before I left you were constantly begging to see town."
"Was I, sir? How odd! Well! I don't want to remain here. I've seen
enough of it."
"How did you find your way to me?"
Richard laughed, and related his bewilderment at the miles of brick, and
the noise, and the troops of people, concluding, "There's no place like
The baronet watched his symptomatic brilliant eyes, and favoured him with
a double-dealing sentence--
"To anchor the heart by any object ere we have half traversed the world,
is youth's foolishness, my son. Reverence time! A better maxim that
than your Horatian."
"He knows all!" thought Richard, and instantly drew away leagues from his
father, and threw up fortifications round his love and himself.
Dinner over, Richard looked hurriedly at his watch, and said, with much
briskness, "I shall just be in time, sir, if we walk. Will you come with
me to the station?"
The baronet did not answer.
Richard was going to repeat the question, but found his father's eyes
fixed on him so meaningly that he wavered, and played with his empty
"I think we will have a little more claret," said the baronet.
Claret was brought, and they were left alone.
The baronet then drew within arm's-reach of his son, and began:
"I am not aware what you may have thought of me, Richard, during the
years we have lived together; and indeed I have never been in a hurry to
be known to you; and, if I had died before my work was done, I should not
have complained at losing half my reward, in hearing you thank me.
Perhaps, as it is, I never may. Everything, save selfishness, has its
recompense. I shall be content if you prosper."
He fetched a breath and continued: "You had in your infancy a great
loss." Father and son coloured simultaneously. "To make that good to
you I chose to isolate myself from the world, and devote myself entirely
to your welfare; and I think it is not vanity that tells me now that the
son I have reared is one of the most hopeful of God's creatures. But for
that very reason you are open to be tempted the most, and to sink the
deepest. It was the first of the angels who made the road to hell."
He paused again. Richard fingered at his watch.
"In our House, my son, there is peculiar blood. We go to wreck very
easily. It sounds like superstition; I cannot but think we are tried as
most men are not. I see it in us all. And you, my son, are compounded
of two races. Your passions are violent. You have had a taste of
revenge. You have seen, in a small way, that the pound of flesh draws
rivers of blood. But there is now in you another power. You are
mounting to the table-land of life, where mimic battles are changed to
real ones. And you come upon it laden equally with force to create and
to destroy." He deliberated to announce the intelligence, with deep
meaning: "There are women in the world, my son!"
The young man's heart galloped back to Raynham.
"It is when you encounter them that you are thoroughly on trial. It is
when you know them that life is either a mockery to you, or, as some find
it, a gift of blessedness. They are our ordeal. Love of any human
object is the soul's ordeal; and they are ours, loving them, or not."
The young man heard the whistle of the train. He saw the moon-lighted
wood, and the vision of his beloved. He could barely hold himself down
"I believe," the baronet spoke with little of the cheerfulness of belief,
"good women exist."
Oh, if he knew Lucy!
"But," and he gazed on Richard intently, "it is given to very few to meet
them on the threshold--I may say, to none. We find them after hard
buffeting, and usually, when we find the one fitted for us, our madness
has misshaped our destiny, our lot is cast. For women are not the end,
but the means, of life. In youth we think them the former, and
thousands, who have not even the excuse of youth, select a mate--or
worse--with that sole view. I believe women punish us for so perverting
their uses. They punish Society."
The baronet put his hand to his brow as his mind travelled into
'Our most diligent pupil learns not so much as an earnest teacher,' says
The Pilgrim's Scrip; and Sir Austin, in schooling himself to speak with
moderation of women, was beginning to get a glimpse of their side of the
Cold Blood now touched on love to Hot Blood.
Cold Blood said, "It is a passion coming in the order of nature, the ripe
fruit of our animal being."
Hot Blood felt: "It is a divinity! All that is worth living for in the
Cold Blood said: "It is a fever which tests our strength, and too often
leads to perdition."
Hot Blood felt: "Lead whither it will, I follow it."
Cold Blood said: "It is a name men and women are much in the habit of
employing to sanctify their appetites."
Hot Blood felt: "It is worship; religion; life!"
And so the two parallel lines ran on.
The baronet became more personal:
"You know my love for you, my son. The extent of it you cannot know; but
you must know that it is something very deep, and--I do not wish to speak
of it--but a father must sometimes petition for gratitude, since the only
true expression of it is his son's moral good. If you care for my love,
or love me in return, aid me with all your energies to keep you what I
have made you, and guard you from the snares besetting you. It was in my
hands once. It is ceasing to be so. Remember, my son, what my love is.
It is different, I fear, with most fathers: but I am bound up in your
welfare: what you do affects me vitally. You will take no step that is
not intimate with my happiness, or my misery. And I have had great
disappointments, my son."
So far it was well. Richard loved his father, and even in his frenzied
state he could not without emotion hear him thus speak.
Unhappily, the baronet, who by some fatality never could see when he was
winning the battle, thought proper in his wisdom to water the dryness of
his sermon with a little jocoseness, on the subject of young men fancying
themselves in love, and, when they were raw and green, absolutely wanting
to be--that most awful thing, which the wisest and strongest of men
undertake in hesitation and after self-mortification and penance--
married! He sketched the Foolish Young Fellow--the object of general
ridicule and covert contempt. He sketched the Woman--the strange thing
made in our image, and with all our faculties--passing to the rule of one
who in taking her proved that he could not rule himself, and had no
knowledge of her save as a choice morsel which he would burn the whole
world, and himself in the bargain, to possess. He harped upon the
Foolish Young Fellow, till the foolish young fellow felt his skin tingle
and was half suffocated with shame and rage.
After this, the baronet might be as wise as he pleased: he had quite
undone his work. He might analyze Love and anatomize Woman. He might
accord to her her due position, and paint her fair: he might be shrewd,
jocose, gentle, pathetic, wonderfully wise: he spoke to deaf ears.
Closing his sermon with the question, softly uttered: "Have you anything
to tell me, Richard?" and hoping for a confession, and a thorough re-
establishment of confidence, the callous answer struck him cold: "I have
The baronet relapsed in his chair, and made diagrams of his fingers.
Richard turned his back on further dialogue by going to the window. In
the section of sky over the street twinkled two or three stars; shining
faintly, feeling the moon. The moon was rising: the woods were lifting
up to her: his star of the woods would be there. A bed of moss set about
flowers in a basket under him breathed to his nostril of the woodland
keenly, and filled him with delirious longing.
A succession of hard sighs brought his father's hand on his shoulder.
"You have nothing you could say to me, my son? Tell me, Richard!
Remember, there is no home for the soul where dwells a shadow of
"Nothing at all, sir," the young man replied, meeting him with the full
orbs of his eyes.
The baronet withdrew his hand, and paced the room.
At last it grew impossible for Richard to control his impatience, and he
said: "Do you intend me to stay here, sir? Am I not to return to Raynham
at all to-night?"
His father was again falsely jocular:
"What? and catch the train after giving it ten minutes' start?"
"Cassandra will take me," said the young man earnestly. "I needn't ride
her hard, sir. Or perhaps you would lend me your Winkelried? I should
be down with him in little better than three hours."
"Even then, you know, the park-gates would be locked."
"Well, I could stable him in the village. Dowling knows the horse, and
would treat him properly. May I have him, sir?"
The cloud cleared off Richard's face as he asked. At least, if he missed
his love that night he would be near her, breathing the same air, marking
what star was above her bedchamber, hearing the hushed night-talk of the
trees about her dwelling: looking on the distances that were like hope
half fulfilled and a bodily presence bright as Hesper, since he knew her.
There were two swallows under the eaves shadowing Lucy's chamber-windows:
two swallows, mates in one nest, blissful birds, who twittered and cheep-
cheeped to the sole-lying beauty in her bed. Around these birds the
lover's heart revolved, he knew not why. He associated them with all his
close-veiled dreams of happiness. Seldom a morning passed when he did
not watch them leave the nest on their breakfast-flight, busy in the
happy stillness of dawn. It seemed to him now that if he could be at
Raynham to see them in to-morrow's dawn he would be compensated for his
incalculable loss of to-night: he would forgive and love his father,
London, the life, the world. Just to see those purple backs and white
breasts flash out into the quiet morning air! He wanted no more.
The baronet's trifling had placed this enormous boon within the young
man's visionary grasp.
He still went on trying the boy's temper.
"You know there would be nobody ready for you at Raynham. It is unfair
to disturb the maids."
Richard overrode every objection.
"Well, then, my son," said the baronet, preserving his
half-jocular air, "I must tell you that it is my wish to have you in
"Then you have not been ill at all, sir!" cried Richard, as in his
despair he seized the whole plot.
"I have been as well as you could have desired me to be," said his
"Why did they lie to me?" the young man wrathfully exclaimed.
"I think, Richard, you can best answer that," rejoined Sir Austin, kindly
Dread of being signalized as the Foolish Young Fellow prevented Richard
from expostulating further. Sir Austin saw him grinding his passion into
powder for future explosion, and thought it best to leave him for awhile.
For three weeks Richard had to remain in town and endure the teachings of
the System in a new atmosphere. He had to sit and listen to men of
science who came to renew their intimacy with his father, and whom of all
men his father wished him to respect and study; practically scientific
men being, in the baronet's estimation, the only minds thoroughly mated
and enviable. He had to endure an introduction to the Grandisons, and
meet the eyes of his kind, haunted as he was by the Foolish Young Fellow.
The idea that he might by any chance be identified with him held the poor
youth in silent subjection. And it was horrible. For it was a continued
outrage on the fair image he had in his heart. The notion of the world
laughing at him because he loved sweet Lucy stung him to momentary
frenzies, and developed premature misanthropy in his spirit. Also the
System desired to show him whither young women of the parish lead us, and
he was dragged about at nighttime to see the sons and daughters of
darkness, after the fashion prescribed to Mr. Thompson; how they danced
and ogled down the high road to perdition. But from this sight possibly
the teacher learnt more than his pupil, since we find him seriously
asking his meditative hours, in the Note-book: "Wherefore Wild Oats are
only of one gender?" a question certainly not suggested to him at
Raynham; and again--"Whether men might not be attaching too rigid an
importance?"...to a subject with a dotted tail apparently, for he gives
it no other in the Note-book. But, as I apprehend, he had come to plead
in behalf of women here, and had deduced something from positive
observation. To Richard the scenes he witnessed were strange wild
pictures, likely if anything to have increased his misanthropy, but for
Certain sweet little notes from Lucy sustained the lover during the first
two weeks of exile. They ceased; and now Richard fell into such
despondency that his father in alarm had to take measures to hasten their
return to Raynham. At the close of the third week Berry laid a pair of
letters, bearing the Raynham post-mark, on the breakfast-table, and,
after reading one attentively, the baronet asked his son if he was
inclined to quit the metropolis.
"For Raynham, air?" cried Richard, and relapsed, saying, "As you will!"
aware that he had given a glimpse of the Foolish Young Fellow.
Berry accordingly received orders to make arrangements for their instant
return to Raynham.
The letter Sir Austin lifted his head from to bespeak his son's wishes
was a composition of the wise youth Adrian's, and ran thus:
"Benson is doggedly recovering. He requires great indemnities. Happy
when a faithful fool is the main sufferer in a household! I quite agree
with you that our faithful fool is the best servant of great schemes.
Benson is now a piece of history. I tell him that this is indemnity
enough, and that the sweet Muse usually insists upon gentlemen being
half-flayed before she will condescend to notice them; but Benson, I
regret to say, rejects the comfort so fine a reflection should offer, and
had rather keep his skin and live opaque. Heroism seems partly a matter
of training. Faithful folly is Benson's nature: the rest has been thrust
"The young person has resigned the neighbourhood. I had an interview
with the fair Papist myself, and also with the man Blaize. They were
both sensible, though one swore and the other sighed. She is pretty. I
hope she does not paint. I can affirm that her legs are strong, for she
walks to Bellingham twice a week to take her Scarlet bath, when, having
confessed and been made clean by the Romish unction, she walks back the
brisker, of which my Protestant muscular systems is yet aware. It was on
the road to Bellingham I engaged her. She is well in the matter of hair.
Madam Godiva might challenge her, it would be a fair match. Has it never
struck you that Woman is nearer the vegetable than Man?--Mr. Blaize
intends her for his son a junction that every lover of fairy mythology
must desire to see consummated. Young Tom is heir to all the agremens of
the Beast. The maids of Lobourne say (I hear) that he is a very Proculus
among them. Possibly the envious men say it for the maids. Beauty does
not speak bad grammar--and altogether she is better out of the way."
The other letter was from Lady Blandish, a lady's letter, and said:
"I have fulfilled your commission to the best of my ability, and heartily
sad it has made me. She is indeed very much above her station--pity that
it is so! She is almost beautiful--quite beautiful at times, and not in
any way what you have been led to fancy. The poor child had no story to
tell. I have again seen her, and talked with her for an hour as kindly
as I could. I could gather nothing more than we know. It is just a
woman's history as it invariably commences. Richard is the god of her
idolatry. She will renounce him, and sacrifice herself for his sake.
Are we so bad? She asked me what she was to do. She would do whatever
was imposed upon her--all but pretend to love another, and that she never
would, and, I believe, never will. You know I am sentimental, and I
confess we dropped a few tears together. Her uncle has sent her for the
Winter to the institution where it appears she was educated, and where
they are very fond of her and want to keep her, which it would be a good
thing if they were to do. The man is a good sort of man. She was
entrusted to him by her father, and he never interferes with her
religion, and is very scrupulous about all that pertains to it, though,
as he says, he is a Christian himself. In the Spring (but the poor child
does not know this) she is to come back, and be married to his lout of a
son. I am determined to prevent that. May I not reckon on your promise
to aid me? When you see her, I am sure you will. It would be sacrilege
to look on and permit such a thing. You know, they are cousins. She
asked me, where in the world there was one like Richard? What could I
answer? They were your own words, and spoken with a depth of conviction!
I hope he is really calm. I shudder to think of him when he comes, and
discovers what I have been doing. I hope I have been really doing right!
A good deed, you say, never dies; but we cannot always know--I must rely
on you. Yes, it is; I should think, easy to suffer martyrdom when one is
sure of one's cause! but then one must be sure of it. I have done
nothing lately but to repeat to myself that saying of yours, No. 54, C.
7, P.S.; and it has consoled me, I cannot say why, except that all wisdom
consoles, whether it applies directly or not:
"'For this reason so many fall from God, who have attained to Him; that
they cling to Him with their Weakness, not with their Strength.'
"I like to know of what you are thinking when you composed this or that
saying--what suggested it. May not one be admitted to inspect the
machinery of wisdom? I feel curious to know how thoughts--real thoughts
--are born. Not that I hope to win the secret. Here is the beginning of
one (but we poor women can never put together even two of the three ideas
which you say go to form a thought): 'When a wise man makes a false step,
will he not go farther than a fool?' It has just flitted through me.
"I cannot get on with Gibbon, so wait your return to recommence the
readings. I dislike the sneering essence of his writings. I keep
referring to his face, until the dislike seems to become personal.
How different is it with Wordsworth! And yet I cannot escape from the
thought that he is always solemnly thinking of himself (but I do
reverence him). But this is curious; Byron was a greater egoist, and yet
I do not feel the same with him. He reminds me of a beast of the desert,
savage and beautiful; and the former is what one would imagine a superior
donkey reclaimed from the heathen to be--a very superior donkey, I mean,
with great power of speech and great natural complacency, and whose
stubbornness you must admire as part of his mission. The worst is that
no one will imagine anything sublime in a superior donkey, so my simile
is unfair and false. Is it not strange? I love Wordsworth best, and yet
Byron has the greater power over me. How is that?"
("Because," Sir Austin wrote beside the query in pencil, "women are
cowards, and succumb to Irony and Passion, rather than yield their hearts
to Excellence and Nature's Inspiration.")
The letter pursued:
"I have finished Boiardo and have taken up Berni. The latter offends me.
I suppose we women do not really care for humour. You are right in
saying we have none ourselves, and 'cackle' instead of laugh. It is true
(of me, at least) that 'Falstaff is only to us an incorrigible fat man.'
I want to know what he illustrates. And Don Quixote--what end can be
served in making a noble mind ridiculous?--I hear you say--practical. So
it is. We are very narrow, I know. But we like wit--practical again!
Or in your words (when I really think they generally come to my aid--
perhaps it is that it is often all your thought); we 'prefer the rapier
thrust, to the broad embrace, of Intelligence.'"
He trifled with the letter for some time, re-reading chosen passages as
he walked about the room, and considering he scarce knew what. There are
ideas language is too gross for, and shape too arbitrary, which come to
us and have a definite influence upon us, and yet we cannot fasten on the
filmy things and make them visible and distinct to ourselves, much less
to others. Why did he twice throw a look into the glass in the act of
passing it? He stood for a moment with head erect facing it. His eyes
for the nonce seemed little to peruse his outer features; the grey
gathered brows, and the wrinkles much action of them had traced over the
circles half up his high straight forehead; the iron-grey hair that rose
over his forehead and fell away in the fashion of Richard's plume. His
general appearance showed the tints of years; but none of their weight,
and nothing of the dignity of his youth, was gone. It was so far
satisfactory, but his eyes were wide, as one who looks at his essential
self through the mask we wear.
Perhaps he was speculating as he looked on the sort of aspect he
presented to the lady's discriminative regard. Of her feelings he had
not a suspicion. But he knew with what extraordinary lucidity women can,
when it pleases them, and when their feelings are not quite boiling under
the noonday sun, seize all the sides of a character, and put their
fingers on its weak point. He was cognizant of the total absence of the
humorous in himself (the want that most shut him out from his fellows),
and perhaps the clear-thoughted, intensely self-examining gentleman
filmily conceived, Me also, in common with the poet, she gazes on as one
of the superior--grey beasts!
He may have so conceived the case; he was capable of that great-
mindedness, and could snatch at times very luminous glances at the broad
reflector which the world of fact lying outside our narrow compass holds
up for us to see ourselves in when we will. Unhappily, the faculty of
laughter, which is due to this gift, was denied him; and having seen, he,
like the companion of friend Balsam, could go no farther. For a good
wind of laughter had relieved him of much of the blight of self-
deception, and oddness, and extravagance; had given a healthier view of
our atmosphere of life; but he had it not.
Journeying back to Bellingham in the train, with the heated brain and
brilliant eye of his son beside him, Sir Austin tried hard to feel
infallible, as a man with a System should feel; and because he could not
do so, after much mental conflict, he descended to entertain a personal
antagonism to the young woman who had stepped in between his experiment
and success. He did not think kindly of her. Lady Blandish's encomiums
of her behaviour and her beauty annoyed him. Forgetful that he had in a
measure forfeited his rights to it, he took the common ground of fathers,
and demanded, "Why he was not justified in doing all that lay in his
power to prevent his son from casting himself away upon the first
creature with a pretty face he encountered?" Deliberating thus, he lost
the tenderness he should have had for his experiment--the living, burning
youth at his elbow, and his excessive love for him took a rigorous tone.
It appeared to him politic, reasonable, and just, that the uncle of this
young woman, who had so long nursed the prudent scheme of marrying her to
his son, should not only not be thwarted in his object but encouraged and
even assisted. At least, not thwarted. Sir Austin had no glass before
him while these ideas hardened in his mind, and he had rather forgotten
the letter of Lady Blandish.
Father and son were alone in the railway carriage. Both were too
preoccupied to speak. As they neared Bellingham the dark was filling the
hollows of the country. Over the pine-hills beyond the station a last
rosy streak lingered across a green sky. Richard eyed it while they flew
along. It caught him forward: it seemed full of the spirit of his love,
and brought tears of mournful longing to his eyelids. The sad beauty of
that one spot in the heavens seemed to call out to his soul to swear to
his Lucy's truth to him: was like the sorrowful visage of his fleur-de-
luce as he called her, appealing to him for faith. That tremulous tender
way she had of half-closing and catching light on the nether-lids, when
sometimes she looked up in her lover's face--as look so mystic-sweet that
it had grown to be the fountain of his dreams: he saw it yonder, and his
Know you those wand-like touches of I know not what, before which our
grosser being melts; and we, much as we hope to be in the Awaking, stand
etherealized, trembling with new joy? They come but rarely; rarely even
in love, when we fondly think them revelations. Mere sensations they
are, doubtless: and we rank for them no higher in the spiritual scale
than so many translucent glorious polypi that quiver on the shores, the
hues of heaven running through them. Yet in the harvest of our days it
is something for the animal to have had such mere fleshly polypian
experiences to look back upon, and they give him an horizon--pale seas of
luring splendour. One who has had them (when they do not bound him) may
find the Isles of Bliss sooner than another. Sensual faith in the upper
glories is something. "Let us remember," says The Pilgrim's Scrip, "that
Nature, though heathenish, reaches at her best to the footstool of the
Highest. She is not all dust, but a living portion of the spheres. In
aspiration it is our error to despise her, forgetting that through Nature
only can we ascend. Cherished, trained, and purified, she is then partly
worthy the divine mate who is to make her wholly so. St. Simeon saw the
Hog in Nature, and took Nature for the Hog."
It was one of these strange bodily exaltations which thrilled the young
man, he knew not how it was, for sadness and his forebodings vanished.
The soft wand touched him. At that moment, had Sir Austin spoken openly,
Richard might have fallen upon his heart. He could not.
He chose to feel injured on the common ground of fathers, and to pursue
his System by plotting. Lady Blandish had revived his jealousy of the
creature who menaced it, and jealousy of a System is unreflecting and
vindictive as jealousy of woman.
Heath-roots and pines breathed sharp in the cool autumn evening about the
Bellingham station. Richard stood a moment as he stepped from the train,
and drew the country air into his lungs with large heaves of the chest.
Leaving his father to the felicitations of the station-master, he went
into the Lobourne road to look for his faithful Tom, who had received
private orders through Berry to be in attendance with his young master's
mare, Cassandra, and was lurking in a plantation of firs unenclosed on
the borders of the road, where Richard, knowing his retainer's zest for
conspiracy too well to seek him anywhere but in the part most favoured
with shelter and concealment, found him furtively whiffing tobacco.
"What news, Tom? Is there an illness?"
Tom sent his undress cap on one side to scratch at dilemma, an old
agricultural habit to which he was still a slave in moments of abstract
thought or sudden difficulty.
"No, I don't want the rake, Mr. Richard," he whinnied with a false grin,
as he beheld his master's eye vacantly following the action.
"Speak out!" he was commanded. "I haven't had a letter for a week!"
Richard learnt the news. He took it with surprising outward calm, only
getting a little closer to Cassandra's neck, and looking very hard at Tom
without seeing a speck of him, which had the effect on Tom of making him
sincerely wish his master would punch his head at once rather than fix
him in that owl-like way.
"Go on!" said Richard, huskily. "Yes? She's gone! Well?"
Tom was brought to understand he must make the most of trifles, and
recited how he had heard from a female domestic at Belthorpe of the name
of Davenport, formerly known to him, that the young lady never slept a
wink from the hour she knew she was going, but sat up in her bed till
morning crying most pitifully, though she never complained. Hereat the
tears unconsciously streamed down Richard's cheeks. Tom said he had
tried to see her, but Mr. Adrian kept him at work, ciphering at a
terrible sum--that and nothing else all day! saying, it was to please his
young master on his return. "Likewise something in Lat'n," added Tom.
"Nom'tive Mouser!--'nough to make ye mad, sir!" he exclaimed with pathos.
The wretch had been put to acquire a Latin declension.
Tom saw her on the morning she went away, he said: she was very
sorrowful-looking, and nodded kindly to him as she passed in the fly
along with young Tom Blaize. "She have got uncommon kind eyes, sir,"
said Tom, "and cryin' don't spoil them." For which his hand was
Tom had no more to tell, save that, in rounding the road, the young lady
had hung out her hand, and seemed to move it forward and back, as much as
to sap, Good-bye, Tom! "And though she couldn't see me," said Tom, "I
took off my hat. I did take it so kind of her to think of a chap like
me." He was at high-pressure sentiment--what with his education for a
hero and his master's love-stricken state.
"You saw no more of her, Tom?"
"No, sir. That was the last!"
"That was the last you saw of her, Tom?"
"Well, sir, I saw nothin' more."
"And so she went out of sight!"
"Clean gone, that she were, sir."
"Why did they take her away? what have they done with her? where have
they taken her to?"
These red-hot questionings were addressed to the universal heaven rather
than to Tom.
"Why didn't she write?" they were resumed. "Why did she leave? She's
mine. She belongs to me! Who dared take her away? Why did she leave
"Yes, sir," said the well-drilled recruit, dressing himself up to the
word of command. He expected a variation of the theme from the change of
tone with which his name had been pronounced, but it was again, "Where
have they taken her to?" and this was even more perplexing to Tom than
his hard sum in arithmetic had been. He could only draw down the corners
of his mouth hard, and glance up queerly.
"She had been crying--you saw that, Tom?"
"No mistake about that, Mr. Richard. Cryin' all night and all day, I
"And she was crying when you saw her?"
"She look'd as if she'd just done for a moment, sir."
"But her face was white?"
"White as a sheet."
Richard paused to discover whether his instinct had caught a new view
from these facts. He was in a cage, always knocking against the same
bars, fly as he might. Her tears were the stars in his black night. He
clung to them as golden orbs. Inexplicable as they were, they were at
least pledges of love.
The hues of sunset had left the West. No light was there but the
steadfast pale eye of twilight. Thither he was drawn. He mounted
Cassandra, saying: "Tell them something, Tom. I shan't be home to
dinner," and rode off toward the forsaken home of light over Belthorpe,
whereat he saw the wan hand of his Lucy, waving farewell, receding as he
advanced. His jewel was stolen,--he must gaze upon the empty box.
Night had come on as Richard entered the old elm-shaded, grass-bordered
lane leading down from Raynham to Belthorpe. The pale eye of twilight
was shut. The wind had tossed up the bank of Western cloud, which was
now flying broad and unlighted across the sky, broad and balmy--the
charioted South-west at full charge behind his panting coursers. As he
neared the farm his heart fluttered and leapt up. He was sure she must
be there. She must have returned. Why should she have left for good
without writing? He caught suspicion by the throat, making it voiceless,
if it lived: he silenced reason. Her not writing was now a proof that
she had returned. He listened to nothing but his imperious passion, and
murmured sweet words for her, as if she were by: tender cherishing
epithet's of love in the nest. She was there--she moved somewhere about
like a silver flame in the dear old house, doing her sweet household
duties. His blood began to sing: O happy those within, to see her, and
be about her! By some extraordinary process he contrived to cast a sort
of glory round the burly person of Farmer Blaize himself. And oh! to
have companionship with a seraph one must know a seraph's bliss, and was
not young Tom to be envied? The smell of late clematis brought on the
wind enwrapped him, and went to his brain, and threw a light over the old
red-brick house, for he remembered where it grew, and the winter rose-
tree, and the jessamine, and the passion-flower: the garden in front with
the standard roses tended by her hands; the long wall to the left striped
by the branches of the cherry, the peep of a further garden through the
wall, and then the orchard, and the fields beyond--the happy circle of
her dwelling! it flashed before his eyes while he looked on the darkness.
And yet it was the reverse of hope which kindled this light and inspired
the momentary calm he experienced: it was despair exaggerating delusion,
wilfully building up on a groundless basis. "For the tenacity of true
passion is terrible," says The Pilgrim's Scrip: "it will stand against
the hosts of heaven, God's great array of Facts, rather than surrender
its aim, and must be crushed before it will succumb--sent to the lowest
pit!" He knew she was not there; she was gone. But the power of a will
strained to madness fought at it, kept it down, conjured forth her ghost,
and would have it as he dictated. Poor youth! the great array of facts
was in due order of march.
He had breathed her name many times, and once over-loud; almost a cry for
her escaped him. He had not noticed the opening of a door and the noise
of a foot along the gravel walk. He was leaning over Cassandra's uneasy
neck watching the one window intently, when a voice addressed him out of
"Be that you, young gentleman?--Mr. Fev'rel?"
Richard's trance was broken. "Mr. Blaize!" he said; recognizing the
"Good even'n t' you, sir," returned the farmer. "I knew the mare though
I didn't know you. Rather bluff to-night it be. Will ye step in, Mr.
Fev'rel? it's beginning' to spit,--going to be a wildish night, I
Richard dismounted. The farmer called one of his men to hold the mare,
and ushered the young man in. Once there, Richard's conjurations ceased.
There was a deadness about the rooms and passages that told of her
absence. The walls he touched--these were the vacant shells of her. He
had never been in the house since he knew her, and now what strange
sweetness, and what pangs!
Young Tom Blaize was in the parlour, squared over the table in open-
mouthed examination of an ancient book of the fashions for a summer month
which had elapsed during his mother's minority. Young Tom was
respectfully studying the aspects of the radiant beauties of the polite
work. He also was a thrall of woman, newly enrolled, and full of wonder.
"What, Tom!" the farmer sang out as soon as he had opened the door;
"there ye be! at yer Folly agin, are ye? What good'll them fashens do to
you, I'd like t'know? Come, shut up, and go and see to Mr. Fev'rel's
mare. He's al'ays at that ther' Folly now. I say there never were a
better name for a book than that ther' Folly! Talk about attitudes!"
The farmer laughed his fat sides into a chair, and motioned his visitor
to do likewise.
"It's a comfort they're most on 'em females," he pursued, sounding a
thwack on his knee as he settled himself agreeably in his seat. "It
don't matter much what they does, except pinchin' in--waspin' it at the
waist. Give me nature, I say--woman as she's made! eh, young gentleman?"
"You seem very lonely here," said Richard, glancing round, and at the
"Lonely?" quoth the farmer. "Well, for the matter o' that, we be!--jest
now, so't happens; I've got my pipe, and Tom've got his Folly. He's on
one side the table, and I'm on t'other. He gapes, and I gazes. We are a
bit lonesome. But there--it's for the best!"
Richard resumed, "I hardly expected to see you to-night, Mr. Blaize."
"Y'acted like a man in coming, young gentleman, and I does ye honour for
it!" said Farmer Blaize with sudden energy and directness.
The thing implied by the farmer's words caused Richard to take a quick
breath. They looked at each other, and looked away, the farmer thrumming
on the arm of his chair.
Above the mantel-piece, surrounded by tarnished indifferent miniatures of
high-collared, well-to-do yeomen of the anterior generation, trying their
best not to grin, and high-waisted old ladies smiling an encouraging
smile through plentiful cap-puckers, there hung a passably executed half-
figure of a naval officer in uniform, grasping a telescope under his left
arm, who stood forth clearly as not of their kith and kin. His eyes were
blue, his hair light, his bearing that of a man who knows how to carry
his head and shoulders. The artist, while giving him an epaulette to
indicate his rank, had also recorded the juvenility which a lieutenant in
the naval service can retain after arriving at that position, by painting
him with smooth cheeks and fresh ruddy lips. To this portrait Richard's
eyes were directed. Farmer Blaize observed it, and said--
"Her father, sir!"
Richard moderated his voice to praise the likeness.
"Yes," said the farmer, "pretty well. Next best to havin' her, though
it's a long way off that!"
"An old family, Mr. Blaize--is it not?" Richard asked in as careless a
tone as he could assume.
"Gentlefolks--what's left of 'em," replied the farmer with an equally
"And that's her father?" said Richard, growing bolder to speak of her.
"That's her father, young gentleman!"
"Mr. Blaize," Richard turned to face him, and burst out, "where is she?"
"Gone, sir! packed off!--Can't have her here now." The farmer thrummed a
step brisker, and eyed the young man's wild face resolutely.
"Mr. Blaize," Richard leaned forward to get closer to him. He was
stunned, and hardly aware of what he was saying or doing: "Where has she
gone? Why did she leave?"
"You needn't to ask, sir--ye know," said the farmer, with a side shot of
"But she did not--it was not her wish to go?"
"No! I think she likes the place. Mayhap she likes't too well!"
"Why did you send her away to make her unhappy, Mr. Blaize?"
The farmer bluntly denied it was he was the party who made her unhappy.
"Nobody can't accuse me. Tell ye what, sir. I wunt have the busybodies
set to work about her, and there's all the matter. So let you and I come
to an understandin'."
A blind inclination to take offence made Richard sit upright. He forgot
it the next minute, and said humbly: "Am I the cause of her going?"
"Well!" returned the farmer, "to speak straight--ye be!"
"What can I do, Mr. Blaize, that she may come back again" the young
"Now," said the farmer, "you're coming to business. Glad to hear ye talk
in that sensible way, Mr. Feverel. You may guess I wants her bad enough.
The house ain't itself now she's away, and I ain't myself. Well, sir!
This ye can do. If you gives me your promise not to meddle with her at
all--I can't mak' out how you come to be acquainted; not to try to get
her to be meetin' you--and if you'd 'a seen her when she left, you would
--when did ye meet?--last grass, wasn't it?--your word as a gentleman not
to be writing letters, and spyin' after her--I'll have her back at once.
Back she shall come!"
"Give her up!" cried Richard.
"Ay, that's it!" said the farmer. "Give her up."
The young man checked the annihilation of time that was on his mouth.
"You sent her away to protect her from me, then?" he said savagely.
"That's not quite it, but that'll do," rejoined the farmer.
"Do you think I shall harm her, sir?"
"People seem to think she'll harm you, young gentleman," the farmer said
with some irony.
"Harm me--she? What people?"
"People pretty intimate with you, sir."
"What people? Who spoke of us?" Richard began to scent a plot, and
would not be balked.
"Well, sir, look here," said the farmer. "It ain't no secret, and if it
be, I don't see why I'm to keep it. It appears your education's
peculiar!" The farmer drawled out the word as if he were describing the
figure of a snake. "You ain't to be as other young gentlemen. All the
better! You're a fine bold young gentleman, and your father's a right to
be proud of ye. Well, sir--I'm sure I thank him for't he comes to hear
of you and Luce, and of course he don't want nothin' o' that--more do I.
I meets him there! What's more I won't have nothin' of it. She be my
gal. She were left to my protection. And she's a lady, sir. Let me tell
ye, ye won't find many on 'em so well looked to as she be--my Luce!
Well, Mr. Fev'rel, it's you, or it's her--one of ye must be out o' the
way. So we're told. And Luce--I do believe she's just as anxious about
yer education as yer father she says she'll go, and wouldn't write, and'd
break it off for the sake o' your education. And she've kep' her word,
haven't she?--She's a true'n. What she says she'll do!--True blue she
be, my Luce! So now, sir, you do the same, and I'll thank ye."
Any one who has tossed a sheet of paper into the fire, and seen it
gradually brown with heat, and strike to flame, may conceive the mind of
the lover as he listened to this speech.
His anger did not evaporate in words, but condensed and sank deep. "Mr.
Blaize," he said, "this is very kind of the people you allude to, but I
am of an age now to think and act for myself--I love her, sir!" His
whole countenance changed, and the muscles of his face quivered.
"Well!" said the farmer, appeasingly, "we all do at your age--somebody or
other. It's natural!"
"I love her!" the young man thundered afresh, too much possessed by his
passion to have a sense of shame in the confession. "Farmer!" his voice
fell to supplication, "will you bring her back?"
Farmer Blaize made a queer face. He asked--what for? and where was the
promise required?--But was not the lover's argument conclusive? He said
he loved her! and he could not see why her uncle should not in
consequence immediately send for her, that they might be together. All
very well, quoth the farmer, but what's to come of it?--What was to come
of it? Why, love, and more love! And a bit too much! the farmer added
"Then you refuse me, farmer," said Richard. "I must look to you for
keeping her away from me, not to--to--these people. You will not have
her back, though I tell you I love her better than my life?"
Farmer Blaize now had to answer him plainly, he had a reason and an
objection of his own. And it was, that her character was at stake, and
God knew whether she herself might not be in danger. He spoke with a
kindly candour, not without dignity. He complimented Richard personally,
but young people were young people; baronets' sons were not in the habit
of marrying farmers' nieces.
At first the son of a System did not comprehend him. When he did, he
said: "Farmer! if I give you my word of honour, as I hope for heaven, to
marry her when I am of age, will you have her back?"
He was so fervid that, to quiet him, the farmer only shook his head
doubtfully at the bars of the grate, and let his chest fall slowly.
Richard caught what seemed to him a glimpse of encouragement in these
signs, and observed: "It's not because you object to me, Mr. Blaize?"
The farmer signified it was not that.
"It's because my father is against me," Richard went on, and undertook to
show that love was so sacred a matter that no father could entirely and
for ever resist his son's inclinations. Argument being a cool field
where the farmer could meet and match him, the young man got on the
tramroad of his passion, and went ahead. He drew pictures of Lucy, of
her truth, and his own. He took leaps from life to death, from death to
life, mixing imprecations and prayers in a torrent. Perhaps he did move
the stolid old Englishman a little, he was so vehement, and made so
visible a sacrifice of his pride.
Farmer Blaize tried to pacify him, but it was useless. His jewel he must
The farmer stretched out his hand for the pipe that allayeth botheration.
"May smoke heer now," he said. "Not when--somebody's present. Smoke in
the kitchen then. Don't mind smell?"
Richard nodded, and watched the operations while the farmer filled, and
lighted, and began to puff, as if his fate hung on them.
"Who'd a' thought, when you sat over there once, of its comin' to this?"
ejaculated the farmer, drawing ease and reflection from tobacco. "You
didn't think much of her that day, young gentleman! I introduced ye.
Well! things comes about. Can't you wait till she returns in due course,
This suggestion, the work of the pipe, did but bring on him another
"It's queer," said the farmer, putting the mouth of the pipe to his
Richard waited for him, and then he laid down the pipe altogether, as no
aid in perplexity, and said, after leaning his arm on the table and
staring at Richard an instant:
"Look, young gentleman! My word's gone. I've spoke it. I've given 'em
the 'surance she shan't be back till the Spring, and then I'll have her,
and then--well! I do hope, for more reasons than one, ye'll both be
wiser--I've got my own notions about her. But I an't the man to force a
gal to marry 'gainst her inclines. Depend upon it I'm not your enemy,
Mr. Fev'rel. You're jest the one to mak' a young gal proud. So wait,--
and see. That's my 'dvice. Jest tak' and wait. I've no more to say."
Richard's impetuosity had made him really afraid of speaking his notions
concerning the projected felicity of young Tom, if indeed they were
The farmer repeated that he had no more to say; and Richard, with "Wait
till the Spring! Wait till the Spring!" dinning despair in his ears,
stood up to depart. Farmer Blaize shook his slack hand in a friendly
way, and called out at the door for young Tom, who, dreading allusions to
his Folly, did not appear. A maid rushed by Richard in the passage, and
slipped something into his grasp, which fixed on it without further
consciousness than that of touch. The mare was led forth by the Bantam.
A light rain was falling down strong warm gusts, and the trees were noisy
in the night. Farmer Blaize requested Richard at the gate to give him
his hand, and say all was well. He liked the young man for his
earnestness and honest outspeaking. Richard could not say all was well,
but he gave his hand, and knitted it to the farmer's in a sharp squeeze,
when he got upon Cassandra, and rode into the tumult.
A calm, clear dawn succeeded the roaring West, and threw its glowing grey
image on the waters of the Abbey-lake. Before sunrise Tom Bakewell was
abroad, and met the missing youth, his master, jogging Cassandra
leisurely along the Lobourne park-road, a sorry couple to look at.
Cassandra's flanks were caked with mud, her head drooped: all that was in
her had been taken out by that wild night. On what heaths and heavy
fallows had she not spent her noble strength, recklessly fretting through
"Take the mare," said Richard, dismounting and patting her between the
eyes. "She's done up, poor old gal! Look to her, Tom, and then come to
me in my room."
Tom asked no questions.
Three days would bring the anniversary of Richard's birth, and though Tom
was close, the condition of the mare, and the young gentleman's strange
freak in riding her out all night becoming known, prepared everybody at
Raynham for the usual bad-luck birthday, the prophets of which were full
of sad gratification. Sir Austin had an unpleasant office to require of
his son; no other than that of humbly begging Benson's pardon, and
washing out the undue blood he had spilt in taking his Pound of Flesh.
Heavy Benson was told to anticipate the demand for pardon, and practised
in his mind the most melancholy Christian deportment he could assume on
the occasion. But while his son was in this state, Sir Austin considered
that he would hardly be brought to see the virtues of the act, and did
not make the requisition of him, and heavy Benson remained drawn up
solemnly expectant at doorways, and at the foot of the staircase, a
Saurian Caryatid, wherever he could get a step in advance of the young
man, while Richard heedlessly passed him, as he passed everybody else,
his head bent to the ground, and his legs bearing him like random
instruments of whose service he was unconscious. It was a shock to
Benson's implicit belief in his patron; and he was not consoled by the
philosophic explanation, "That Good in a strong many-compounded nature is
of slower growth than any other mortal thing, and must not be forced."
Damnatory doctrines best pleased Benson. He was ready to pardon, as a
Christian should, but he did want his enemy before him on his knees. And
now, though the Saurian Eye saw more than all the other eyes in the
house, and saw that there was matter in hand between Tom and his master
to breed exceeding discomposure to the System, Benson, as he had not
received his indemnity, and did not wish to encounter fresh perils for
nothing, held his peace.
Sir Austin partly divined what was going on in the breast of his son,
without conceiving the depths of distrust his son cherished or quite
measuring the intensity of the passion that consumed him. He was very
kind and tender with him. Like a cunning physician who has,
nevertheless, overlooked the change in the disease superinduced by one
false dose, he meditated his prescriptions carefully and confidently,
sure that he knew the case, and was a match for it. He decreed that
Richard's erratic behaviour should pass unnoticed. Two days before the
birthday, he asked him whether he would object to having company? To
which Richard said: "Have whom you will, sir." The preparation for
festivity commenced accordingly.
On the birthday eve he dined with the rest. Lady Blandish was there, and
sat penitently at his right. Hippias prognosticated certain indigestion
for himself on the morrow. The Eighteenth Century wondered whether she
should live to see another birthday. Adrian drank the two-years' distant
term of his tutorship, and Algernon went over the list of the Lobourne
men who would cope with Bursley on the morrow. Sir Austin gave ear and a
word to all, keeping his mental eye for his son. To please Lady Blandish
also, Adrian ventured to make trifling jokes about London's Mrs.
Grandison; jokes delicately not decent, but so delicately so, that it was
not decent to perceive it.
After dinner Richard left them. Nothing more than commonly peculiar was
observed about him, beyond the excessive glitter of his eyes, but the
baronet said, "Yes, yes! that will pass." He and Adrian, and Lady
Blandish, took tea in the library, and sat till a late hour discussing
casuistries relating mostly to the Apple-disease. Converse very amusing
to the wise youth, who could suggest to the two chaste minds situations
of the shadiest character, with the air of a seeker after truth, and lead
them, unsuspecting, where they dared not look about them. The Aphorist
had elated the heart of his constant fair worshipper with a newly rounded
if not newly conceived sentence, when they became aware that they were
four. Heavy Benson stood among them. He said he had knocked, but
received no answer. There was, however, a vestige of surprise and
dissatisfaction on his face beholding Adrian of the company, which had
not quite worn away, and gave place, when it did vanish, to an aspect of
"Well, Benson? well?" said the baronet.
The unmoving man replied: "If you please, Sir Austin--Mr. Richard!"
"And a carpet-bag!"
The carpet-bag might be supposed to contain that funny thing called a
young hero's romance in the making.
Out Richard was, and with a carpet-bag, which Tom Bakewell carried. He
was on the road to Bellingham, under heavy rain, hasting like an escaped
captive, wild with joy, while Tom shook his skin, and grunted at his
discomforts. The mail train was to be caught at Bellingham. He knew
where to find her now, through the intervention of Miss Davenport, and
thither he was flying, an arrow loosed from the bow: thither, in spite of
fathers and friends and plotters, to claim her, and take her, and stand
with her against the world.
They were both thoroughly wet when they entered Bellingham, and Tom's
visions were of hot drinks. He hinted the necessity for inward
consolation to his master, who could answer nothing but "Tom! Tom! I
shall see her tomorrow!" It was bad--travelling in the wet, Tom hinted
again, to provoke the same insane outcry, and have his arm seized and
furiously shaken into the bargain. Passing the principal inn of the
place, Tom spoke plainly for brandy.
"No!" cried Richard, "there's not a moment to be lost!" and as he said
it, he reeled, and fell against Tom, muttering indistinctly of faintness,
and that there was no time to lose. Tom lifted him in his arms, and got
admission to the inn. Brandy, the country's specific, was advised by
host and hostess, and forced into his mouth, reviving him sufficiently to
cry out, "Tom! the bell's ringing: we shall be late," after which he fell
back insensible on the sofa where they had stretched him. Excitement of
blood and brain had done its work upon him. The youth suffered them to
undress him and put him to bed, and there he lay, forgetful even of love;
a drowned weed borne onward by the tide of the hours. There his father
Was the Scientific Humanist remorseful? He had looked forward to such a
crisis as that point in the disease his son was the victim of, when the
body would fail and give the spirit calm to conquer the malady, knowing
very well that the seeds of the evil were not of the spirit. Moreover,
to see him and have him was a repose after the alarm Benson had sounded.
"Mark!" he said to Lady Blandish, "when he recovers he will not care for
The lady had accompanied him to the Bellingham inn on first hearing of
"What an iron man you can be," she exclaimed, smothering her intuitions.
She was for giving the boy his bauble; promising it him, at least, if he
would only get well and be the bright flower of promise he once was.
"Can you look on him," she pleaded, "can you look on him and persevere?"
It was a hard sight for this man who loved his son so deeply. The youth
lay in his strange bed, straight and motionless, with fever on his
cheeks, and altered eyes.
Old Dr. Clifford of Lobourne was the medical attendant, who, with head-
shaking, and gathering of lips, and reminiscences of ancient arguments,
guaranteed to do all that leech could do in the matter. The old doctor
did admit that Richard's constitution was admirable, and answered to his
prescriptions like a piano to the musician. "But," he said at a family
consultation, for Sir Austin had told him how it stood with the young
man, "drugs are not much in cases of this sort. Change! That's what's
wanted, and as soon as may be. Distraction! He ought to see the world,
and know what he is made of. It's no use my talking, I know," added the
"On the contrary," said Sir Austin, "I am quite of your persuasion. And
the world he shall see--now."
"We have dipped him in Styx, you know, doctor," Adrian remarked.
"But, doctor," said Lady Blandish, "have you known a case of this sort
"Never, my lady," said the doctor, "they're not common in these parts.
Country people are tolerably healthy-minded."
"But people--and country people--have died for love, doctor?"
The doctor had not met any of them.
"Men, or women?" inquired the baronet.
Lady Blandish believed mostly women.
"Ask the doctor whether they were healthy-minded women," said the
baronet. "No! you are both looking at the wrong end. Between a highly-
cultured being, and an emotionless animal, there is all the difference in
the world. But of the two, the doctor is nearer the truth. The healthy
nature is pretty safe. If he allowed for organization he would be right
altogether. To feel, but not to feel to excess, that is the problem."
"If I can't have the one I chose,
To some fresh maid I will propose,"
Adrian hummed a country ballad.
When the young Experiment again knew the hours that rolled him onward, he
was in his own room at Raynham. Nothing had changed: only a strong fist
had knocked him down and stunned him, and he opened his eyes to a grey
world: he had forgotten what he lived for. He was weak and thin, and
with a pale memory of things. His functions were the same, everything
surrounding him was the same: he looked upon the old blue hills, the far-
lying fallows, the river, and the woods: he knew them, they seemed to
have lost recollection of him. Nor could he find in familiar human faces
the secret of intimacy of heretofore. They were the same faces: they
nodded and smiled to him. What was lost he could not tell. Something
had been knocked out of him! He was sensible of his father's sweetness
of manner, and he was grieved that he could not reply to it, for every
sense of shame and reproach had strangely gone. He felt very useless.
In place of the fiery love for one, he now bore about a cold charity to
Thus in the heart of the young man died the Spring Primrose, and while it
died another heart was pushing forth the Primrose of Autumn.
The wonderful change in Richard, and the wisdom of her admirer, now
positively proved, were exciting matters to Lady Blandish. She was
rebuked for certain little rebellious fancies concerning him that had
come across her enslaved mind from time to time. For was he not almost a
prophet? It distressed the sentimental lady that a love like Richard's
could pass off in mere smoke, and words such as she had heard him speak
in Abbey-wood resolve to emptiness. Nay, it humiliated her personally,
and the baronet's shrewd prognostication humiliated her. For how should
he know, and dare to say, that love was a thing of the dust that could be
trodden out under the heel of science? But he had said so; and he had
proved himself right. She heard with wonderment that Richard of his own
accord had spoken to his father of the folly he had been guilty of, and
had begged his pardon. The baronet told her this, adding that the youth
had done it in a cold unwavering way, without a movement of his features:
had evidently done it to throw off the burden of the duty, he had
conceived. He had thought himself bound to acknowledge that he had been
the Foolish Young Fellow, wishing, possibly, to abjure the fact by an set
of penance. He had also given satisfaction to Benson, and was become a
renovated peaceful spirit, whose main object appeared to be to get up his
physical strength by exercise and no expenditure of speech.
In her company he was composed and courteous; even when they were alone
together, he did not exhibit a trace of melancholy. Sober he seemed, as
one who has recovered from a drunkenness and has determined to drink no
more. The idea struck her that he might be playing a part, but Tom
Bakewell, in a private conversation they had, informed her that he had
received an order from his young master, one day while boxing with him,
not to mention the young lady's name to him as long as he lived; and Tom
could only suppose that she had offended him. Theoretically wise Lady
Blandish had always thought the baronet; she was unprepared to find him
thus practically sagacious. She fell many degrees; she wanted something
to cling to; so she clung to the man who struck her low. Love, then, was
earthly; its depth could be probed by science! A man lived who could
measure it from end to end; foretell its term; handle the young cherub as
were he a shot owl! We who have flown into cousinship with the empyrean,
and disported among immortal hosts, our base birth as a child of Time is
made bare to us!--our wings are cut! Oh, then, if science is this
victorious enemy of love, let us love science! was the logic of the
lady's heart; and secretly cherishing the assurance that she should
confute him yet, and prove him utterly wrong, she gave him the fruits of
present success, as it is a habit of women to do; involuntarily partly.
The fires took hold of her. She felt soft emotions such as a girl feels,
and they flattered her. It was like youth coming back. Pure women have
a second youth. The Autumn primrose flourished.
We are advised by The Pilgrim's Scrip that--
"The ways of women, which are Involution, and their practices, which are
Opposition, are generally best hit upon by guess work, and a bold word;"
--it being impossible to track them and hunt them down in the ordinary
So that we may not ourselves become involved and opposed, let us each of
us venture a guess and say a bold word as to how it came that the lady,
who trusted love to be eternal, grovelled to him that shattered her
tender faith, and loved him.
Hitherto it had been simply a sentimental dalliance, and gossips had
maligned the lady. Just when the gossips grew tired of their slander,
and inclined to look upon her charitably, she set about to deserve every
word they had said of her; which may instruct us, if you please, that
gossips have only to persist in lying to be crowned with verity, or that
one has only to endure evil mouths for a period to gain impunity. She
was always at the Abbey now. She was much closeted with the baronet. It
seemed to be understood that she had taken Mrs. Doria's place. Benson in
his misogynic soul perceived that she was taking Lady Feverel's: but any
report circulated by Benson was sure to meet discredit, and drew the
gossips upon himself; which made his meditations tragic. No sooner was
one woman defeated than another took the field! The object of the System
was no sooner safe than its great author was in danger!
"I can't think what has come to Benson" he said to Adrian.
"He seems to have received a fresh legacy of several pounds of lead,"
returned the wise youth, and imitating Dr. Clifford's manner. "Change is
what he wants! distraction! send him to Wales for a month, sir, and let
Richard go with him. The two victims of woman may do each other good."
"Unfortunately I can't do without him," said the baronet.
"Then we must continue to have him on our shoulders all day, and on our
chests all night!" Adrian ejaculated.
"I think while he preserves this aspect we won't have him at the dinner-
table," said the baronet.
Adrian thought that would be a relief to their digestions; and added:
"You know, sir, what he says?"
Receiving a negative, Adrian delicately explained to him that Benson's
excessive ponderosity of demeanour was caused by anxiety for the safety
of his master.
"You must pardon a faithful fool, sir," he continued, for the baronet
became red, and exclaimed:
"His stupidity is past belief! I have absolutely to bolt my study-door
Adrian at once beheld a charming scene in the interior of the study, not
unlike one that Benson had visually witnessed. For, like a wary prophet,
Benson, that he might have warrant for what he foretold of the future,
had a care to spy upon the present: warned haply by The Pilgrim's Scrip,
of which he was a diligent reader, and which says, rather emphatically:
"Could we see Time's full face, we were wise of him." Now to see Time's
full face, it is sometimes necessary to look through keyholes, the
veteran having a trick of smiling peace to you on one cheek and grimacing
confusion on the other behind the curtain. Decency and a sense of honour
restrain most of us from being thus wise and miserable for ever.
Benson's excuse was that he believed in his master, who was menaced. And
moreover, notwithstanding his previous tribulation, to spy upon Cupid was
sweet to him. So he peeped, and he saw a sight. He saw Time's full
face; or, in other words, he saw the wiles of woman and the weakness of
man: which is our history, as Benson would have written it, and a great
many poets and philosophers have written it.
Yet it was but the plucking of the Autumn primrose that Benson had seen:
a somewhat different operation from the plucking of the Spring one: very
innocent! Our staid elderly sister has paler blood, and has, or thinks
she has, a reason or two about the roots. She is not all instinct. "For
this high cause, and for that I know men, and know him to be the flower
of men, I give myself to him!" She makes that lofty inward exclamation
while the hand is detaching her from the roots. Even so strong a self-
justification she requires. She has not that blind glory in excess which
her younger sister can gild the longest leap with. And if, moth-like,
she desires the star, she is nervously cautious of candles. Hence her
circles about the dangerous human flame are wide and shy. She must be
drawn nearer and nearer by a fresh reason. She loves to sentimentalize.
Lady Blandish had been sentimentalizing for ten years. She would have
preferred to pursue the game. The dark-eyed dame was pleased with her
smooth life and the soft excitement that did not ruffle it. Not
willingly did she let herself be won.
"Sentimentalists," says The Pilgrim's Scrip, "are they who seek to enjoy
without incurring the Immense Debtorship for a thing done."
"It is," the writer says of Sentimentalism elsewhere, "a happy pastime
and an important science to the timid, the idle, and the heartless; but a
damning one to them who have anything to forfeit."
However, one who could set down the dying for love, as a sentimentalism,
can hardly be accepted as a clear authority. Assuredly he was not one to
avoid the incurring of the immense debtorship in any way: but he was a
bondsman still to the woman who had forsaken him, and a spoken word would
have made it seem his duty to face that public scandal which was the last
evil to him. What had so horrified the virtuous Benson, Richard had
already beheld in Daphne's Bower; a simple kissing of the fair white
hand! Doubtless the keyhole somehow added to Benson's horror. The two
similar performances, so very innocent, had wondrous opposite
consequences. The first kindled Richard to adore Woman; the second
destroyed Benson's faith in Man. But Lady Blandish knew the difference
between the two. She understood why the baronet did not speak; excused,
and respected him for it. She was content, since she must love, to love
humbly, and she had, besides, her pity for his sorrows to comfort her. A
hundred fresh reasons for loving him arose and multiplied every day. He
read to her the secret book in his own handwriting, composed for
Richard's Marriage Guide: containing Advice and Directions to a Young
Husband, full of the most tender wisdom and delicacy; so she thought;
nay, not wanting in poetry, though neither rhymed nor measured. He
expounded to her the distinctive character of the divers ages of love,
giving the palm to the flower she put forth, over that of Spring, or the
Summer rose. And while they sat and talked; "My wound has healed," he
said. "How?" she asked. "At the fountain of your eyes," he replied, and
drew the joy of new life from her blushes, without incurring further
debtor ship for a thing done.
Let it be some apology for the damage caused by the careering hero, and a
consolation to the quiet wretches, dragged along with him at his chariot-
wheels, that he is generally the last to know when he has made an actual
start; such a mere creature is he, like the rest of us, albeit the head
of our fates. By this you perceive the true hero, whether he be a prince
or a pot-boy, that he does not plot; Fortune does all for him. He may be
compared to one to whom, in an electric circle, it is given to carry the
We caper and grimace at his will; yet not his the will, not his the
power. 'Tis all Fortune's, whose puppet he is. She deals her
dispensations through him. Yea, though our capers be never so comical,
he laughs not. Intent upon his own business, the true hero asks little
services of us here and there; thinks it quite natural that they should
be acceded to, and sees nothing ridiculous in the lamentable contortions
we must go through to fulfil them. Probably he is the elect of Fortune,
because of that notable faculty of being intent upon his own business:
"Which is," says The Pilgrim's Scrip, "with men to be valued equal to
that force which in water makes a stream." This prelude was necessary to
the present chapter of Richard's history.
It happened that in the turn of the year, and while old earth was busy
with her flowers, the fresh wind blew, the little bird sang, and Hippias
Feverel, the Dyspepsy, amazed, felt the Spring move within him. He
communicated his delightful new sensations to the baronet, his brother,
whose constant exclamation with regard to him, was: "Poor Hippias! All
his machinery is bare!" and had no hope that he would ever be in a
condition to defend it from view. Nevertheless Hippias had that hope,
and so he told his brother, making great exposure of his machinery to
effect the explanation. He spoke of all his physical experiences
exultingly, and with wonder. The achievement of common efforts, not
usually blazoned, he celebrated as triumphs, and, of course, had Adrian
on his back very quickly. But he could bear him, or anything, now. It
was such ineffable relief to find himself looking out upon the world of
mortals instead of into the black phantasmal abysses of his own
complicated frightful structure. "My mind doesn't so much seem to haunt
itself, now," said Hippias, nodding shortly and peering out of intense
puckers to convey a glimpse of what hellish sufferings his had been: "I
feel as if I had come aboveground."
A poor Dyspepsy may talk as he will, but he is the one who never gets
sympathy, or experiences compassion: and it is he whose groaning
petitions for charity do at last rout that Christian virtue. Lady
Blandish, a charitable soul, could not listen to Hippias, though she had
a heart for little mice and flies, and Sir Austin had also small patience
with his brother's gleam of health, which was just enough to make his
disease visible. He remembered his early follies and excesses, and bent
his ear to him as one man does to another who complains of having to pay
a debt legally incurred.
"I think," said Adrian, seeing how the communications of Hippias were
received, "that when our Nemesis takes lodgings in the stomach, it's best
to act the Spartan, smile hard, and be silent."
Richard alone was decently kind to Hippias; whether from opposition, or
real affection, could not be said, as the young man was mysterious. He
advised his uncle to take exercise, walked with him, cultivated cheerful
impressions in him, and pointed out innocent pursuits. He made Hippias
visit with him some of the poor old folk of the village, who bewailed the
loss of his cousin Austin Wentworth, and did his best to waken him up,
and give the outer world a stronger hold on him. He succeeded in nothing
but in winning his uncle's gratitude. The season bloomed scarce longer
than a week for Hippias, and then began to languish. The poor Dyspepsy's
eager grasp at beatification relaxed: he went underground again. He
announced that he felt "spongy things"--one of the more constant throes
of his malady. His bitter face recurred: he chewed the cud of horrid
hallucinations. He told Richard he must give up going about with him:
people telling of their ailments made him so uncomfortable--the birds
were so noisy, pairing--the rude bare soil sickened him.
Richard treated him with a gravity equal to his father's. He asked what
the doctors said.
"Oh! the doctors!" cried Hippias with vehement scepticism. "No man of
sense believes in medicine for chronic disorder. Do you happen to have
heard of any new remedy then, Richard? No? They advertise a great many
cures for indigestion, I assure you, my dear boy. I wonder whether one
can rely upon the authenticity of those signatures? I see no reason why
there should be no cure for such a disease?--Eh? And it's just one of
the things a quack, as they call them, would hit upon sooner than one who
is in the beaten track. Do you know, Richard, my dear boy, I've often
thought that if we could by any means appropriate to our use some of the
extraordinary digestive power that a boa constrictor has in his gastric
juices, there is really no manner of reason why we should not comfortably
dispose of as much of an ox as our stomachs will hold, and one might eat
French dishes without the wretchedness of thinking what's to follow. And
this makes me think that those fellows may, after all, have got some
truth in them: some secret that, of course, they require to be paid for.
We distrust each other in this world too much, Richard. I've felt
inclined once or twice--but it's absurd!--If it only alleviated a few of
my sufferings I should be satisfied. I've no hesitation in saying that I
should be quite satisfied if it only did away with one or two, and left
me free to eat and drink as other people do. Not that I mean to try
them. It's only a fancy--Eh? What a thing health is, my dear boy! Ah!
if I were like you! I was in love once!"
"Were you!" said Richard, coolly regarding him.
"I've forgotten what I felt!" Hippias sighed. "You've very much
improved, my dear boy."
"So people say," quoth Richard.
Hippias looked at him anxiously: "If I go to town and get the doctor's
opinion about trying a new course--Eh, Richard? will you come with me? I
should like your company. We could see London together, you know. Enjoy
ourselves," and Hippias rubbed his hands.
Richard smiled at the feeble glimmer of enjoyment promised by his uncle's
eyes, and said he thought it better they should stay where they were--an
answer that might mean anything. Hippias immediately became possessed by
the beguiling project. He went to the baronet, and put the matter before
him, instancing doctors as the object of his journey, not quacks, of
course; and requesting leave to take Richard. Sir Austin was getting
uneasy about his son's manner. It was not natural. His heart seemed to
be frozen: he had no confidences: he appeared to have no ambition--to
have lost the virtues of youth with the poison that had passed out of
him. He was disposed to try what effect a little travelling might have
on him, and had himself once or twice hinted to Richard that it would be
good for him to move about, the young man quietly replying that he did
not wish to quit Raynham at all, which was too strict a fulfilment of his
father's original views in educating him there entirely. On the day that
Hippias made his proposal, Adrian, seconded by Lady Blandish, also made
one. The sweet Spring season stirred in Adrian as well as in others: not
to pastoral measures: to the joys of the operatic world and bravura
glories. He also suggested that it would be advisable to carry Richard
to town for a term, and let him know his position, and some freedom. Sir
Austin weighed the two proposals. He was pretty certain that Richard's
passion was consumed, and that the youth was now only under the burden of
its ashes. He had found against his heart, at the Bellingham inn: a
great lock of golden hair. He had taken it, and the lover, after feeling
about for it with faint hands, never asked for it. This precious lock
(Miss Davenport had thrust it into his hand at Belthorpe as Lucy's last
gift), what sighs and tears it had weathered! The baronet laid it in
Richard's sight one day, and beheld him take it up, turn it over, and
drop it down again calmly, as if he were handling any common curiosity.
It pacified him on that score. The young man's love was dead. Dr.
Clifford said rightly: he wanted distractions. The baronet determined
that Richard should go. Hippias and Adrian then pressed their several
suits as to which should have him. Hippias, when he could forget
himself, did not lack sense. He observed that Adrian was not at present
a proper companion for Richard, and would teach him to look on life from
the false point.
"You don't understand a young philosopher," said the baronet.
"A young philosopher's an old fool!" returned Hippias, not thinking that
his growl had begotten a phrase.
His brother smiled with gratification, and applauded him loudly:
"Excellent! worthy of your best days! You're wrong, though, in applying
it to Adrian. He has never been precocious. All he has done has been to
bring sound common sense to bear upon what he hears and sees. I think,
however," the baronet added, "he may want faith in the better qualities
of men." And this reflection inclined him not to let his son be alone
with Adrian. He gave Richard his choice, who saw which way his father's
wishes tended, and decided so to please him. Naturally it annoyed Adrian
extremely. He said to his chief:
"I suppose you know what you are doing, sir. I don't see that we derive
any advantage from the family name being made notorious for twenty years
of obscene suffering, and becoming a byword for our constitutional
tendency to stomachic distension before we fortunately encountered
Quackem's Pill. My uncle's tortures have been huge, but I would rather
society were not intimate with them under their several headings."
Adrian enumerated some of the most abhorrent. "You know him, sir. If he
conceives a duty, he will do it in the face of every decency--all the
more obstinate because the conception is rare. If he feels a little
brisk the morning after the pill, he sends the letter that makes us
famous! We go down to posterity with heightened characteristics, to say
nothing of a contemporary celebrity nothing less than our being turned
inside-out to the rabble. I confess I don't desire to have my machinery
made bare to them."
Sir Austin assured the wise youth that Hippias had arranged to go to Dr.
Bairam. He softened Adrian's chagrin by telling him that in about two
weeks they would follow to London: hinting also at a prospective Summer
campaign. The day was fixed for Richard to depart, and the day came.
Madame the Eighteenth Century called him to her chamber and put into his
hand a fifty-pound note, as her contribution toward his pocket-expenses.
He did not want it, he said, but she told him he was a young man, and
would soon make that fly when he stood on his own feet. The old lady did
not at all approve of the System in her heart, and she gave her
grandnephew to understand that, should he require more, he knew where to
apply, and secrets would be kept. His father presented him with a
hundred pounds--which also Richard said he did not want--he did not care
for money. "Spend it or not," said the baronet, perfectly secure in him.
Hippias had few injunctions to observe. They were to take up quarters at
the hotel, Algernon's general run of company at the house not being
altogether wholesome. The baronet particularly forewarned Hippias of the
imprudence of attempting to restrict the young man's movements, and
letting him imagine he was under surveillance. Richard having been, as
it were, pollarded by despotism, was now to grow up straight, and bloom
again, in complete independence, as far as he could feel. So did the
sage decree; and we may pause a moment to reflect how wise were his
previsions, and how successful they must have been, had not Fortune, the
great foe to human cleverness, turned against him, or he against himself.
The departure took place on a fine March morning. The bird of Winter
sang from the budding tree; in the blue sky sang the bird of Summer.
Adrian rode between Richard and Hippias to the Bellingham station, and
vented his disgust on them after his own humorous fashion, because it did
not rain and damp their ardour. In the rear came Lady Blandish and the
baronet, conversing on the calm summit of success.
"You have shaped him exactly to resemble yourself," she said, pointing
with her riding-whip to the grave stately figure of the young man.
"Outwardly, perhaps," he answered, and led to a discussion on Purity and
Strength, the lady saying that she preferred Purity.
"But you do not," said the baronet. "And there I admire the always true
instinct of women, that they all worship Strength in whatever form, and
seem to know it to be the child of heaven; whereas Purity is but a
characteristic, a garment, and can be spotted--how soon! For there are
questions in this life with which we must grapple or be lost, and when,
hunted by that cold eye of intense inner-consciousness, the clearest soul
becomes a cunning fox, if it have not courage to stand and do battle.
Strength indicates a boundless nature--like the Maker. Strength is a God
to you--Purity a toy. A pretty one, and you seem to be fond of playing
with it," he added, with unaccustomed slyness.
The lady listened, pleased at the sportive malice which showed that the
constraint on his mind had left him. It was for women to fight their
fight now; she only took part in it for amusement. This is how the ranks
of our enemies are thinned; no sooner do poor women put up a champion in
their midst than she betrays them.
"I see," she said archly, "we are the lovelier vessels; you claim the
more direct descent. Men are seedlings: Women--slips! Nay, you have
said so," she cried out at his gestured protestation, laughing.
"But I never printed it."
"Oh! what you speak answers for print with me."
Exquisite Blandish! He could not choose but love her.
"Tell me what are your plans?" she asked. "May a woman know?"
He replied, "I have none or you would share them. I shall study him in
the world. This indifference must wear off. I shall mark his
inclinations now, and he shall be what he inclines to. Occupation will
be his prime safety. His cousin Austin's plan of life appears most to
his taste, and he can serve the people that way as well as in Parliament,
should he have no stronger ambition. The clear duty of a man of any
wealth is to serve the people as he best can. He shall go among Austin's
set, if he wishes it, though personally I find no pleasure in rash
imaginations, and undigested schemes built upon the mere instinct of
"Look at him now," said the lady. "He seems to care for nothing; not
even for the beauty of the day."
"Or Adrian's jokes," added the baronet.
Adrian could be seen to be trying zealously to torment a laugh, or a
confession of irritation, out of his hearers, stretching out his chin to
one, and to the other, with audible asides. Richard he treated as a new
instrument of destruction about to be let loose on the slumbering
metropolis; Hippias as one in an interesting condition; and he got so
much fun out of the notion of these two journeying together, and the
mishaps that might occur to them, that he esteemed it almost a personal
insult for his hearers not to laugh. The wise youth's dull life at
Raynham had afflicted him with many peculiarities of the professional
"Oh! the Spring! the Spring!" he cried, as in scorn of his sallies they
exchanged their unmeaning remarks on the sweet weather across him. "You
seem both to be uncommonly excited by the operations of turtles, rooks,
and daws. Why can't you let them alone?"
There's an old native pastoral!--Why don't you write a Spring sonnet,
Ricky? The asparagus-beds are full of promise, I hear, and eke the
strawberry. Berries I fancy your Pegasus has a taste for. What kind of
berry was that I saw some verses of yours about once?--amatory verses to
some kind of berry--yewberry, blueberry, glueberry! Pretty verses,
decidedly warm. Lips, eyes, bosom, legs--legs? I don't think you gave
her any legs. No legs and no nose. That appears to be the poetic taste
of the day. It shall be admitted that you create the very beauties for a
'O might I lie where leans her lute!'
and offend no moral community. That's not a bad image of yours, my dear
'Her shape is like an antelope
Upon the Eastern hills.'
But as a candid critic, I would ask you if the likeness can be considered
correct when you give her no legs? You will see at the ballet that you
are in error about women at present, Richard. That admirable institution
which our venerable elders have imported from Gallia for the instruction
of our gaping youth, will edify and astonish you. I assure you I used,
from reading The Pilgrim's Scrip, to imagine all sorts of things about
them, till I was taken there, and learnt that they are very like us after
all, and then they ceased to trouble me. Mystery is the great danger to
youth, my son! Mystery is woman's redoubtable weapon, O Richard of the
Ordeal! I'm aware that you've had your lessons in anatomy, but nothing
will persuade you that an anatomical figure means flesh and blood. You
can't realize the fact. Do you intend to publish when you're in town?
It'll be better not to put your name. Having one's name to a volume of
poems is as bad as to an advertising pill."
"I will send you an early copy, Adrian, when I publish," quoth Richard.
"Hark at that old blackbird, uncle."
"Yes!" Hippias quavered; looking up from the usual subject of his
contemplation, and trying to take an interest in him, "fine old fellow!"
"What a chuckle he gives out before he flies! Not unlike July
nightingales. You know that bird I told you of--the blackbird that had
its mate shot, and used to come to sing to old Dame Bakewell's bird from
the tree opposite. A rascal knocked it over the day before yesterday,
and the dame says her bird hasn't sung a note since."
"Extraordinary!" Hippias muttered abstractedly. "I remember the verses."
"But where's your moral?" interposed the wrathful Adrian. "Where's
'The ouzel-cock so black of hue,
With orange-tawny bill;
The rascal with his aim so true;
The Poet's little quill!'
"Where's the moral of that? except that all's game to the poet!
Certainly we have a noble example of the devotedness of the female, who
for three entire days refuses to make herself heard, on account of a
defunct male. I suppose that's what Ricky dwells on."
"As you please, my dear Adrian," says Richard, and points out larch-buds
to his uncle, as they ride by the young green wood.
The wise youth was driven to extremity. Such a lapse from his pupil's
heroics to this last verge of Arcadian coolness, Adrian could not believe
in. "Hark at this old blackbird!" he cried, in his turn, and pretending
to interpret his fits of song:
"Oh, what a pretty comedy!--Don't we wear the mask well, my Fiesco?--
Genoa will be our own to-morrow!--Only wait until the train has started--
jolly! jolly! jolly! We'll be winners yet!
"Not a bad verse--eh, Ricky? my Lucius Junius!"
"You do the blackbird well," said Richard, and looked at him in a manner
Adrian shrugged. "You're a young man of wonderful powers," he
emphatically observed; meaning to say that Richard quite beat him; for
which opinion Richard gravely thanked him, and with this they rode into
There was young Tom Blaize at the station, in his Sunday beaver and gala
waistcoat and neckcloth, coming the lord over Tom Bakewell, who had
preceded his master in charge of the baggage. He likewise was bound for
London. Richard, as he was dismounting, heard Adrian say to the baronet:
"The Beast, sir, appears to be going to fetch Beauty;" but he paid no
heed to the words. Whether young Tom heard them or not, Adrian's look
took the lord out of him, and he shrunk away into obscurity, where the
nearest approach to the fashions which the tailors of Bellingham could
supply to him, sat upon him more easily, and he was not stiffened by the
eyes of the superiors whom he sought to rival. The baronet, Lady
Blandish, and Adrian remained on horseback, and received Richard's adieux
across the palings. He shook hands with each of them in the same kindly
cold way, elicitating from Adrian a marked encomium on his style of doing
it. The train came up, and Richard stepped after his uncle into one of
Now surely there will come an age when the presentation of science at war
with Fortune and the Fates, will be deemed the true epic of modern life;
and the aspect of a scientific humanist who, by dint of incessant
watchfulness, has maintained a System against those active forties,
cannot be reckoned less than sublime, even though at the moment he but
sit upon his horse, on a fine March morning such as this, and smile
wistfully to behold the son of his heart, his System incarnate, wave a
serene adieu to tutelage, neither too eager nor morbidly unwilling to try
his luck alone for a term of two weeks. At present, I am aware, an
audience impatient for blood and glory scorns the stress I am putting on
incidents so minute, a picture so little imposing. An audience will come
to whom it will be given to see the elementary machinery at work: who, as
it were, from some slight hint of the straws, will feel the winds of
March when they do not blow. To them will nothing be trivial, seeing
that they will have in their eyes the invisible conflict going on around
us, whose features a nod, a smile, a laugh of ours perpetually changes.
And they will perceive, moreover, that in real life all hangs together:
the train is laid in the lifting of an eyebrow, that bursts upon the
field of thousands. They will see the links of things as they pass, and
wonder not, as foolish people now do, that this great matter came out of
that small one.
Such an audience, then, will participate in the baronet's gratification
at his son's demeanour, wherein he noted the calm bearing of experience
not gained in the usual wanton way: and will not be without some excited
apprehension at his twinge of astonishment, when, just as the train went
sliding into swiftness, he beheld the grave, cold, self-possessed young
man throw himself back in the carriage violently laughing. Science was
at a loss to account for that. Sir Austin checked his mind from
inquiring, that he might keep suspicion at a distance, but he thought it
odd, and the jarring sensation that ran along his nerves at the sight,
remained with him as he rode home.
Lady Blandish's tender womanly intuition bade her say: "You see it was
the very thing he wanted. He has got his natural spirits already."
"It was," Adrian put in his word, "the exact thing he wanted. His
spirits have returned miraculously."
"Something amused him," said the baronet, with an eye on the puffing
"Probably something his uncle said or did," Lady Blandish suggested, and
led off at a gallop.
Her conjecture chanced to be quite correct. The cause for Richard's
laughter was simple enough. Hippias, on finding the carriage-door closed
on him, became all at once aware of the bright-haired hope which dwells
in Change; for one who does not woo her too frequently; and to express
his sudden relief from mental despondency at the amorous prospect, the
Dyspepsy bent and gave his hands a sharp rub between his legs: which
unlucky action brought Adrian's pastoral,
in such comic colours before Richard, that a demon of laughter seized