Part 7 out of 10
weakness to demand a certain kind of management. Besides, Adrian, he had
not a doubt, would accept him entirely as he seemed, and not pester him
in any way by trying to unlock his heart; whereas a woman, he feared,
would be waxing too womanly, and swelling from tears and supplications to
a scene, of all things abhorred by him the most. So he rapped the floor
with his foot, and gave the lady no very welcome face when he said it was
well with him.
She sat down by his side, still holding one hand firmly, and softly
detaining the other.
"Oh, my friend! may I believe you? May I speak to you?" She leaned
close to him. "You know my heart. I have no better ambition than to be
your friend. Surely I divide your grief, and may I not claim your
confidence? Who has wept more over your great and dreadful sorrows? I
would not have come to you, but I do believe that sorrow shared relieves
the burden, and it is now that you may feel a woman's aid, and something
of what a woman could be to you...."
"Be assured," he gravely said, "I thank you, Emmeline, for your
"No, no! not for my intentions! And do not thank me. Think of
him...think of your dear boy... Our Richard, as we have called him.--Oh!
do not think it a foolish superstition of mine, but I have had a thought
this night that has kept me in torment till I rose to speak to you...
Tell me first you have forgiven him."
"A father bears no malice to his son, Emmeline."
"Your heart has forgiven him?"
My heart has taken what he gave."
"And quite forgiven him?"
"You will hear no complaints of mine."
The lady paused despondingly, and looked at him in a wistful manner,
saying with a sigh, "Yes! I know how noble you are, and different from
He drew one of his hands from her relaxed hold.
"You ought to be in bed, Emmeline."
"I cannot sleep."
"Go, and talk to me another time."
"No, it must be now. You have helped me when I struggled to rise into a
clearer world, and I think, humble as I am, I can help you now. I have
had a thought this night that if you do not pray for him and bless
him...it will end miserably. My friend, have you done so?"
He was stung and offended, and could hardly help showing it in spite of
"Have you done so, Austin?"
"This is assuredly a new way of committing fathers to the follies of
their sons, Emmeline!"
"No, not that. But will you pray for your boy, and bless him, before the
He restrained himself to pronounce his words calmly:--"And I must do
this, or it will end in misery? How else can it end? Can I save him
from the seed he has sown? Consider, Emmeline, what you say. He has
repeated his cousin's sin. You see the end of that."
"Oh, so different! This young person is not, is not of the class poor
Austin Wentworth allied himself to. Indeed it is different. And he--be
just and admit his nobleness. I fancied you did. This young person has
great beauty, she has the elements of good breeding, she--indeed I think,
had she been in another position, you would not have looked upon her
"She may be too good for my son!" The baronet spoke with sublime
"No woman is too good for Richard, and you know it."
"Yes, I will speak only of him. He met her by a fatal accident. We
thought his love dead, and so did he till he saw her again. He met her,
he thought we were plotting against him, he thought he should lose her
for ever, and is the madness of an hour he did this...."
"My Emmeline pleads bravely for clandestine matches."
"Ah! do not trifle, my friend. Say: would you have had him act as young
men in his position generally do to young women beneath them?"
Sir Austin did not like the question. It probed him very severely.
"You mean," he said, "that fathers must fold their arms, and either
submit to infamous marriages, or have these creatures ruined."
"I do not mean that," exclaimed the lady, striving for what she did mean,
and how to express it. "I mean that he loved her. Is it not a madness
at his age? But what I chiefly mean is--save him from the consequences.
No, you shall not withdraw your hand. Think of his pride, his
sensitiveness, his great wild nature--wild when he is set wrong: think
how intense it is, set upon love; think, my friend, do not forget his
love for you."
Sir Austin smiled an admirable smile of pity.
"That I should save him, or any one, from consequences, is asking more
than the order of things will allow to you, Emmeline, and is not in the
disposition of this world. I cannot. Consequences are the natural
offspring of acts. My child, you are talking sentiment, which is the
distraction of our modern age in everything--a phantasmal vapour
distorting the image of the life we live. You ask me to give him a
golden age in spite of himself. All that could be done, by keeping him
in the paths of virtue and truth, I did. He is become a man, and as a
man he must reap his own sowing."
The baffled lady sighed. He sat so rigid: he spoke so securely, as if
wisdom were to him more than the love of his son. And yet he did love
his son. Feeling sure that he loved his son while he spoke so loftily,
she reverenced him still, baffled as she was, and sensible that she had
been quibbled with.
"All I ask of you is to open your heart to him," she said.
He kept silent.
"Call him a man,--he is, and must ever be the child of your education, my
"You would console me, Emmeline, with the prospect that, if he ruins
himself, he spares the world of young women. Yes, that is something!"
Closely she scanned the mask. It was impenetrable. He could meet her
eyes, and respond to the pressure of her hand, and smile, and not show
what he felt. Nor did he deem it hypocritical to seek to maintain his
elevation in her soft soul, by simulating supreme philosophy over
offended love. Nor did he know that he had an angel with him then: a
blind angel, and a weak one, but one who struck upon his chance.
"Am I pardoned for coming to you?" she said, after a pause.
"Surely I can read my Emmeline's intentions," he gently replied.
"Very poor ones. I feel my weakness. I cannot utter half I have been
thinking. Oh, if I could!"
"You speak very well, Emmeline."
"At least, I am pardoned!"
"And before I leave you, dear friend, shall I be forgiven?--may I beg
it?--will you bless him?"
He was again silent.
"Pray for him, Austin! pray for him ere the night is over."
As she spoke she slid down to his feet and pressed his hand to her bosom.
The baronet was startled. In very dread of the soft fit that wooed him,
he pushed back his chair, and rose, and went to the window.
"It's day already!" he said with assumed vivacity, throwing open the
shutters, and displaying the young light on the lawn.
Lady Blandish dried her tears as she knelt, and then joined him, and
glanced up silently at Richard's moon standing in wane toward the West.
She hoped it was because of her having been premature in pleading so
earnestly, that she had failed to move him, and she accused herself more
than the baronet. But in acting as she had done, she had treated him as
no common man, and she was compelled to perceive that his heart was at
present hardly superior to the hearts of ordinary men, however composed
his face might be, and apparently serene his wisdom. From that moment
she grew critical of him, and began to study her idol--a process
dangerous to idols. He, now that she seemed to have relinquished the
painful subject, drew to her, and as one who wished to smooth a foregone
roughness, murmured: "God's rarest blessing is, after all, a good woman!
My Emmeline bears her sleepless night well. She does not shame the day."
He gazed down on her with a fondling tenderness.
"I could bear many, many!" she replied, meeting his eyes, "and you would
see me look better and better, if...if only..." but she had no
encouragement to end the sentence.
Perhaps he wanted some mute form of consolation; perhaps the handsome
placid features of the dark-eyed dame touched him: at any rate their
Platonism was advanced by his putting an arm about her. She felt the arm
and talked of the morning.
Thus proximate, they by and by both heard something very like a groan
behind them, and looking round, beheld the Saurian eye. Lady Blandish
smiled, but the baronet's discomposure was not to be concealed. By a
strange fatality every stage of their innocent loves was certain to have
a human beholder.
"Oh, I'm sure I beg pardon," Benson mumbled, arresting his head in a
melancholy pendulosity. He was ordered out of the room.
"And I think I shall follow him, and try to get forty winks," said Lady
Blandish. They parted with a quiet squeeze of hands.
The baronet then called in Benson.
"Get me my breakfast as soon as you can," he said, regardless of the
aspect of injured conscience Benson sombrely presented to him. "I am
going to town early. And, Benson," he added, "you will also go to town
this afternoon, or to-morrow, if it suits you, and take your book with
you to Mr. Thompson. You will not return here. A provision will be made
for you. You can go."
The heavy butler essayed to speak, but the tremendous blow and the
baronet's gesture choked him. At the door he made another effort which
shook the rolls of his loose skin pitiably. An impatient signal sent him
out dumb,--and Raynham was quit of the one believer in the Great Shaddock
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Although it blew hard when Caesar crossed the Rubicon
As when nations are secretly preparing for war
The world is wise in its way
The danger of a little knowledge of things is disputable
Wise in not seeking to be too wise
Yet, though Angels smile, shall not Devils laugh
THE ORDEAL OF RICHARD FEVEREL
By GEORGE MEREDITH
XXXIV. CONQUEST OF AN EPICURE
XXXV. CLARE'S MARRIAGE
XXXVI. A DINNER-PARTY AT RICHMOND
XXXVII. MRS. BERRY ON MATRIMONY
XXXVIII. AN ENCHANTRESS
It was the month of July. The Solent ran up green waves before a full-
blowing South-wester. Gay little yachts bounded out like foam, and
flashed their sails, light as sea-nymphs. A crown of deep Summer blue
topped the flying mountains of cloud.
By an open window that looked on the brine through nodding roses, our
young bridal pair were at breakfast, regaling worthily, both of them.
Had the Scientific Humanist observed them, he could not have contested
the fact, that as a couple who had set up to be father and mother of
Britons, they were doing their duty. Files of egg-cups with
disintegrated shells bore witness to it, and they were still at work,
hardly talking from rapidity of exercise. Both were dressed for an
expedition. She had her bonnet on, and he his yachting-hat. His sleeves
were turned over at the wrists, and her gown showed its lining on her
lap. At times a chance word might spring a laugh, but eating was the
business of the hour, as I would have you to know it always will be where
Cupid is in earnest. Tribute flowed in to them from the subject land.
Neglected lies Love's penny-whistle on which they played so prettily and
charmed the spheres to hear them. What do they care for the spheres, who
have one another? Come, eggs! come, bread and butter! come, tea with
sugar in it and milk! and welcome, the jolly hours. That is a fair
interpretation of the music in them just now. Yonder instrument was good
only for the overture. After all, what finer aspiration can lovers have,
than to be free man and woman in the heart of plenty? And is it not a
glorious level to have attained? Ah, wretched Scientific Humanist! not
to be by and mark the admirable sight of these young creatures feeding.
It would have been a spell to exorcise the Manichee, methinks.
The mighty performance came to an end, and then, with a flourish of his
table-napkin, husband stood over wife, who met him on the confident
budding of her mouth. The poetry of mortals is their daily prose. Is it
not a glorious level to have attained? A short, quick-blooded kiss,
radiant, fresh, and honest as Aurora, and then Richard says without lack
of cheer, "No letter to-day, my Lucy!" whereat her sweet eyes dwell on
him a little seriously, but he cries, "Never mind! he'll be coming down
himself some morning. He has only to know her, and all's well! eh?" and
so saying he puts a hand beneath her chin, and seems to frame her fair
face in fancy, she smiling up to be looked at.
"But one thing I do want to ask my darling," says Lucy, and dropped into
his bosom with hands of petition. "Take me on board his yacht with him
to-day--not leave me with those people! Will he? I'm a good sailor, he
"The best afloat!" laughs Richard, hugging her, "but, you know, you
darling bit of a sailor, they don't allow more than a certain number on
board for the race, and if they hear you've been with me, there'll be
cries of foul play! Besides, there's Lady Judith to talk to you about
Austin, and Lord Mountfalcon's compliments for you to listen to, and Mr.
Morton to take care of you."
Lucy's eyes fixed sideways an instant.
"I hope I don't frown and blush as I did?" she said, screwing her pliable
brows up to him winningly, and he bent his cheek against hers, and
murmured something delicious.
"And we shall be separated for--how many hours? one, two, three hours!"
she pouted to his flatteries.
"And then I shall come on board to receive my bride's congratulations."
"And then my husband will talk all the time to Lady Judith."
"And then I shall see my wife frowning and blushing at Lord Mountfalcon."
"Am I so foolish, Richard?" she forgot her trifling to ask in an earnest
way, and had another Aurorean kiss, just brushing the dew on her lips,
After hiding a month in shyest shade, the pair of happy sinners had
wandered forth one day to look on men and marvel at them, and had chanced
to meet Mr. Morton of Poer Hall, Austin Wentworth's friend, and Ralph's
uncle. Mr. Morton had once been intimate with the baronet, but had given
him up for many years as impracticable and hopeless, for which reason he
was the more inclined to regard Richard's misdemeanour charitably, and to
lay the faults of the son on the father; and thinking society to be the
one thing requisite to the young man, he had introduced him to the people
he knew in the island; among others to the Lady Judith Felle, a fair
young dame, who introduced him to Lord Mountfalcon, a puissant nobleman;
who introduced him to the yachtsmen beginning to congregate; so that in a
few weeks he found himself in the centre of a brilliant company, and for
the first time in his life tasted what it was to have free intercourse
with his fellow-creatures of both sews. The son of a System was,
therefore, launched; not only through the surf, but in deep waters.
Now the baronet had so far compromised between the recurrence of his
softer feelings and the suggestions of his new familiar, that he had
determined to act toward Richard with justness. The world called it
magnanimity, and even Lady Blandish had some thoughts of the same kind
when she heard that he had decreed to Richard a handsome allowance, and
had scouted Mrs. Doria's proposal for him to contest the legality of the
marriage; but Sir Austin knew well he was simply just in not withholding
money from a youth so situated. And here again the world deceived him by
embellishing his conduct. For what is it to be just to whom we love! He
knew it was not magnanimous, but the cry of the world somehow fortified
him in the conceit that in dealing perfect justice to his son he was
doing all that was possible, because so much more than common fathers
would have done. He had shut his heart.
Consequently Richard did not want money. What he wanted more, and did
not get, was a word from his father, and though he said nothing to sadden
his young bride, she felt how much it preyed upon him to be at variance
with the man whom, now that he had offended him and gone against him, he
would have fallen on his knees to; the man who was as no other man to
him. She heard him of nights when she lay by his side, and the darkness,
and the broken mutterings, of those nights clothed the figure of the
strange stern man in her mind. Not that it affected the appetites of the
pretty pair. We must not expect that of Cupid enthroned and in
condition; under the influence of sea-air, too. The files of egg-cups
laugh at such an idea. Still the worm did gnaw them. Judge, then, of
their delight when, on this pleasant morning, as they were issuing from
the garden of their cottage to go down to the sea, they caught sight of
Tom Bakewell rushing up the road with a portmanteau on his shoulders,
and, some distance behind him, discerned Adrian.
"It's all right!" shouted Richard, and ran off to meet him, and never
left his hand till he had hauled him up, firing questions at him all the
way, to where Lucy stood.
"Lucy! this is Adrian, my cousin."--"Isn't he an angel?" his eyes seemed
to add; while Lucy's clearly answered, "That he is!"
The full-bodied angel ceremoniously bowed to her, and acted with reserved
unction the benefactor he saw in their greetings. "I think we are not
strangers," he was good enough to remark, and very quickly let them know
he had not breakfasted; on hearing which they hurried him into the house,
and Lucy put herself in motion to have him served.
"Dear old Rady," said Richard, tugging at his hand again, "how glad I am
you've come! I don't mind telling you we've been horridly wretched."
"Six, seven, eight, nine eggs," was Adrian's comment on a survey of the
"Why wouldn't he write? Why didn't he answer one of my letters? But
here you are, so I don't mind now. He wants to see us, does he? We'll
go up to-night. I've a match on at eleven; my little yacht--I've called
her the 'Blandish'--against Fred Cuirie's 'Begum.' I shall beat, but
whether I do or not, we'll go up to-night. What's the news? What are
they all doing?"
"My dear boy!" Adrian returned, sitting comfortably down, "let me put
myself a little more on an equal footing with you before I undertake to
reply. Half that number of eggs will be sufficient for an unmarried man,
and then we'll talk. They're all very well, as well as I can recollect
after the shaking my total vacuity has had this morning. I came over by
the first boat, and the sea, the sea has made me love mother earth, and
desire of her fruits."
Richard fretted restlessly opposite his cool relative.
"Adrian! what did he say when he heard of it? I want to know exactly
what words he said."
"Well says the sage, my son! 'Speech is the small change of Silence.'
He said less than I do."
"That's how he took it!" cried Richard, and plunged in meditation.
Soon the table was cleared, and laid out afresh, and Lucy preceded the
maid bearing eggs on the tray, and sat down unbonneted, and like a
thorough-bred housewife, to pour out the tea for him.
"Now we'll commence," said Adrian, tapping his egg with meditative
cheerfulness; but his expression soon changed to one of pain, all the
more alarming for his benevolent efforts to conceal it. Could it be
possible the egg was bad? oh, horror! Lucy watched him, and waited in
"This egg has boiled three minutes and three-quarters," he observed,
ceasing to contemplate it.
"Dear, dear!" said Lucy, "I boiled them myself exactly that time.
Richard likes them so. And you like them hard, Mr. Harley?"
"On the contrary, I like them soft. Two minutes and a half, or three-
quarters at the outside. An egg should never rashly verge upon hardness-
-never. Three minutes is the excess of temerity."
"If Richard had told me! If I had only known!" the lovely little hostess
interjected ruefully, biting her lip.
"We mustn't expect him to pay attention to such matters," said Adrian,
trying to smile.
"Hang it! there are more eggs in the house," cried Richard, and pulled
savagely at the bell.
Lucy jumped up, saying, "Oh, yes! I will go and boil some exactly the
time you like. Pray let me go, Mr. Harley."
Adrian restrained her departure with a motion of his hand. "No," he
said, "I will be ruled by Richard's tastes, and heaven grant me his
Lucy threw a sad look at Richard, who stretched on a sofa, and left the
burden of the entertainment entirely to her. The eggs were a melancholy
beginning, but her ardour to please Adrian would not be damped, and she
deeply admired his resignation. If she failed in pleasing this glorious
herald of peace, no matter by what small misadventure, she apprehended
calamity; so there sat this fair dove with brows at work above her
serious smiling blue eyes, covertly studying every aspect of the plump-
faced epicure, that she might learn to propitiate him. "He shall not
think me timid and stupid," thought this brave girl, and indeed Adrian
was astonished to find that she could both chat and be useful, as well as
look ornamental. When he had finished one egg, behold, two fresh ones
came in, boiled according to his prescription. She had quietly given her
orders to the maid, and he had them without fuss. Possibly his look of
dismay at the offending eggs had not been altogether involuntary, and her
woman's instinct, inexperienced as she was, may have told her that he had
come prepared to be not very well satisfied with anything in Love's
cottage. There was mental faculty in those pliable brows to see through,
and combat, an unwitting wise youth.
How much she had achieved already she partly divined when Adrian said: "I
think now I'm in case to answer your questions, my dear boy--thanks to
Mrs. Richard," and he bowed to her his first direct acknowledgment of her
position. Lucy thrilled with pleasure.
"Ah!" cried Richard, and settled easily on his back.
"To begin, the Pilgrim has lost his Note-book, and has been persuaded to
offer a reward which shall maintain the happy finder thereof in an asylum
for life. Benson--superlative Benson--has turned his shoulders upon
Raynham. None know whither he has departed. It is believed that the
sole surviving member of the sect of the Shaddock-Dogmatists is under a
total eclipse of Woman."
"Benson gone?" Richard exclaimed. "What a tremendous time it seems since
I left Raynham!"
"So it is, my dear boy. The honeymoon is Mahomet's minute; or say, the
Persian King's water-pail that you read of in the story: You dip your
head in it, and when you draw it out, you discover that you have lived a
life. To resume your uncle Algernon still roams in pursuit of the lost
one--I should say, hops. Your uncle Hippias has a new and most
perplexing symptom; a determination of bride-cake to the nose. Ever
since your generous present to him, though he declares he never consumed
a morsel of it, he has been under the distressing illusion that his nose
is enormous, and I assure you he exhibits quite a maidenly timidity in
following it--through a doorway, for instance. He complains of its
terrible weight. I have conceived that Benson invisible might be sitting
on it. His hand, and the doctor's, are in hourly consultation with it,
but I fear it will not grow smaller. The Pilgrim has begotten upon it a
new Aphorism: that Size is a matter of opinion."
"Poor uncle Hippy!" said Richard, "I wonder he doesn't believe in magic.
There's nothing supernatural to rival the wonderful sensations he does
believe in. Good God! fancy coming to that!"
"I'm sure I'm very sorry," Lucy protested, "but I can't help laughing."
Charming to the wise youth her pretty laughter sounded.
"The Pilgrim has your notion, Richard. Whom does he not forestall?
'Confirmed dyspepsia is the apparatus of illusions,' and he accuses the
Ages that put faith in sorcery, of universal indigestion, which may have
been the case, owing to their infamous cookery. He says again, if you
remember, that our own Age is travelling back to darkness and ignorance
through dyspepsia. He lays the seat of wisdom in the centre of our
system, Mrs. Richard: for which reason you will understand how sensible I
am of the vast obligation I am under to you at the present moment, for
your especial care of mine."
Richard looked on at Lucy's little triumph, attributing Adrian's
subjugation to her beauty and sweetness. She had latterly received a
great many compliments on that score, which she did not care to hear, and
Adrian's homage to a practical quality was far pleasanter to the young
wife, who shrewdly guessed that her beauty would not help her much in the
struggle she had now to maintain. Adrian continuing to lecture on the
excelling virtues of wise cookery, a thought struck her: Where, where had
she tossed Mrs. Berry's book?
"So that's all about the home-people?" said Richard.
"All!" replied Adrian. "Or stay: you know Clare's going to be married?
Not? Your Aunt Helen"--
"Oh, bother my Aunt Helen! What do you think she had the impertinence to
write--but never mind! Is it to Ralph?"
"Your Aunt Helen, I was going to say, my dear boy, is an extraordinary
woman. It was from her originally that the Pilgrim first learnt to call
the female the practical animal. He studies us all, you know. The
Pilgrim's Scrip is the abstract portraiture of his surrounding relatives.
Well, your Aunt Helen"--
"Mrs. Doria Battledoria!" laughed Richard.
"--being foiled in a little pet scheme of her own--call it a System if
you like--of some ten or fifteen years' standing, with regard to Miss
The fair Shuttlecockiana!"
"--instead of fretting like a man, and questioning
Providence, and turning herself and everybody else inside out, and seeing
the world upside down, what does the practical animal do? She wanted to
marry her to somebody she couldn't marry her to, so she resolved
instantly to marry her to somebody she could marry her to: and as old
gentlemen enter into these transactions with the practical animal the
most readily, she fixed upon an old gentleman; an unmarried old
gentleman, a rich old gentleman, and now a captive old gentleman. The
ceremony takes place in about a week from the present time. No doubt you
will receive your invitation in a day or two."
"And that cold, icy, wretched Clare has consented to marry an old man!"
groaned Richard. "I'll put a stop to that when I go to town."
Richard got up and strode about the room. Then he bethought him it was
time to go on board and make preparations.
"I'm off," he said. "Adrian, you'll take her. She goes in the Empress,
Mountfalcon's vessel. He starts us. A little schooner-yacht--such a
beauty! I'll have one like her some day. Good-bye, darling!" he
whispered to Lucy, and his hand and eyes lingered on her, and hers on
him, seeking to make up for the priceless kiss they were debarred from.
But she quickly looked away from him as he held her:--Adrian stood
silent: his brows were up, and his mouth dubiously contracted. He spoke
"Go on the water?"
"Yes. It's only to St. Helen's. Short and sharp."
"Do you grudge me the nourishment my poor system has just received, my
"Oh, bother your system! Put on your hat, and come along. I'll put you
on board in my boat."
"Richard! I have already paid the penalty of them who are condemned to
come to an island. I will go with you to the edge of the sea, and I will
meet you there when you return, and take up the Tale of the Tritons: but,
though I forfeit the pleasure of Mrs. Richard's company, I refuse to quit
"Yes, oh, Mr. Harley!" Lucy broke from her husband, "and I will stay with
you, if you please. I don't want to go among those people, and we can
see it all from the shore.
"Dearest! I don't want to go. You don't mind? Of course, I will go if
you wish, but I would so much rather stay;" and she lengthened her plea
in her attitude and look to melt the discontent she saw gathering.
Adrian protested that she had much better go; that he could amuse himself
very well till their return, and so forth; but she had schemes in her
pretty head, and held to it to be allowed to stay in spite of Lord
Mountfalcon's disappointment, cited by Richard, and at the great risk of
vexing her darling, as she saw. Richard pished, and glanced
contemptuously at Adrian. He gave way ungraciously.
"There, do as you like. Get your things ready to leave this evening.
No, I'm not angry."--Who could be? he seemed as he looked up from her
modest fondling to ask Adrian, and seized the indemnity of a kiss on her
forehead, which, however, did not immediately disperse the shade of
annoyance he felt.
"Good heavens!" he exclaimed. "Such a day as this, and a fellow refuses
to come on the water! Well, come along to the edge of the sea."
Adrian's angelic quality had quite worn off to him. He never thought of
devoting himself to make the most of the material there was: but somebody
else did, and that fair somebody succeeded wonderfully in a few short
hours. She induced Adrian to reflect that the baronet had only to see
her, and the family muddle would be smoothed at once. He came to it by
degrees; still the gradations were rapid. Her manner he liked; she was
certainly a nice picture: best of all, she was sensible. He forgot the
farmer's niece in her, she was so very sensible. She appeared really to
understand that it was a woman's duty to know how to cook.
But the difficulty was, by what means the baronet could be brought to
consent to see her. He had not yet consented to see his son, and Adrian,
spurred by Lady Blandish, had ventured something in coming down. He was
not inclined to venture more. The small debate in his mind ended by his
throwing the burden on time. Time would bring the matter about.
Christians as well as Pagans are in the habit of phrasing this excuse for
folding their arms; "forgetful," says The Pilgrim's Scrip, "that the
devil's imps enter into no such armistice."
As she loitered along the shore with her amusing companion, Lucy had many
things to think of. There was her darling's match. The yachts were
started by pistol-shot by Lord Mountfalcon on board the Empress, and her
little heart beat after Richard's straining sails. Then there was the
strangeness of walking with a relative of Richard's, one who had lived by
his side so long. And the thought that perhaps this night she would have
to appear before the dreaded father of her husband.
"O Mr. Harley!" she said, "is it true--are we to go tonight? And me,"
she faltered, "will he see me?"
"Ah! that is what I wanted to talk to you about," said Adrian. "I made
some reply to our dear boy which he has slightly misinterpreted. Our
second person plural is liable to misconstruction by an ardent mind. I
said 'see you,' and he supposed--now, Mrs. Richard, I am sure you will
understand me. Just at present perhaps it would be advisable--when the
father and son have settled their accounts, the daughter-in-law can't be
Lucy threw up her blue eyes. A half-cowardly delight at the chance of a
respite from the awful interview made her quickly apprehensive.
"O Mr. Harley! you think he should go alone first?"
"Well, that is my notion. But the fact is, he is such an excellent
husband that I fancy it will require more than a man's power of
persuasion to get him to go."
"But I will persuade him, Mr. Harley."
"Perhaps, if you would..."
"There is nothing I would not do for his happiness," murmured Lucy.
The wise youth pressed her hand with lymphatic approbation. They walked
on till the yachts had rounded the point.
"Is it to-night, Mr. Harley?" she asked with some trouble in her voice
now that her darling was out of sight.
"I don't imagine your eloquence even will get him to leave you to-night,"
Adrian replied gallantly. "Besides, I must speak for myself. To achieve
the passage to an island is enough for one day. No necessity exists for
any hurry, except in the brain of that impetuous boy. You must correct
it, Mrs. Richard. Men are made to be managed, and women are born
managers. Now, if you were to let him know that you don't want to go to-
night, and let him guess, after a day or two, that you would very much
rather... you might affect a peculiar repugnance. By taking it on
yourself, you see, this wild young man will not require such frightful
efforts of persuasion. Both his father and he are exceedingly delicate
subjects, and his father unfortunately is not in a position to be managed
directly. It's a strange office to propose to you, but it appears to
devolve upon you to manage the father through the son. Prodigal having
made his peace, you, who have done all the work from a distance,
naturally come into the circle of the paternal smile, knowing it due to
you. I see no other way. If Richard suspects that his father objects
for the present to welcome his daughter-in-law, hostilities will be
continued, the breach will be widened, bad will grow to worse, and I see
no end to it."
Adrian looked in her face, as much as to say: Now are you capable of this
piece of heroism? And it did seem hard to her that she should have to
tell Richard she shrank from any trial. But the proposition chimed in
with her fears and her wishes: she thought the wise youth very wise: the
poor child was not insensible to his flattery, and the subtler flattery
of making herself in some measure a sacrifice to the home she had
disturbed. She agreed to simulate as Adrian had suggested.
Victory is the commonest heritage of the hero, and when Richard came on
shore proclaiming that the Blandish had beaten the Begum by seven minutes
and three-quarters, he was hastily kissed and congratulated by his bride
with her fingers among the leaves of Dr. Kitchener, and anxiously
questioned about wine.
"Dearest! Mr. Harley wants to stay with us a little, and he thinks we
ought not to go immediately--that is, before he has had some letters, and
I feel... I would so much rather..."
"Ah! that's it, you coward!" said Richard. "Well, then, to-morrow. We
had a splendid race. Did you see us?"
"Oh, yes! I saw you and was sure my darling would win." And again she
threw on him the cold water of that solicitude about wine. "Mr. Harley
must have the best, you know, and we never drink it, and I'm so silly, I
don't know good wine, and if you would send Tom where he can get good
wine. I have seen to the dinner."
"So that's why you didn't come to meet me?"
"Pardon me, darling."
Well, I do, but Mountfalcon doesn't, and Lady Judith thinks you ought to
have been there."
"Ah, but my heart was with you!"
Richard put his hand to feel for the little heart: her eyelids softened,
and she ran away.
It is to say much of the dinner that Adrian found no fault with it, and
was in perfect good-humour at the conclusion of the service. He did not
abuse the wine they were able to procure for him, which was also much.
The coffee, too, had the honour of passing without comment. These were
sound first steps toward the conquest of an epicure, and as yet Cupid did
After coffee they strolled out to see the sun set from Lady Judith's
grounds. The wind had dropped. The clouds had rolled from the zenith,
and ranged in amphitheatre with distant flushed bodies over sea and land:
Titanic crimson head and chest rising from the wave faced Hyperion
falling. There hung Briareus with deep-indented trunk and ravined brows,
stretching all his hands up to unattainable blue summits. North-west the
range had a rich white glow, as if shining to the moon, and westward,
streams of amber, melting into upper rose, shot out from the dipping
"What Sandoe calls the passion-flower of heaven," said Richard under his
breath to Adrian, who was serenely chanting Greek hexameters, and
answered, in the swing of the caesura, "He might as well have said
Lady Judith, with a black lace veil tied over her head, met them in the
walk. She was tall and dark; dark-haired, dark-eyed, sweet and
persuasive in her accent and manner. "A second edition of the Blandish,"
thinks Adrian. She welcomed him as one who had claims on her affability.
She kissed Lucy protectingly, and remarking on the wonders of the
evening, appropriated her husband. Adrian and Lucy found themselves
walking behind them.
The sun was under. All the spaces of the sky were alight, and Richard's
"So you're not intoxicated with your immense triumph this morning?" said
"Don't laugh at me. When it's over I feel ashamed of the trouble I've
taken. Look at that glory!--I'm sure you despise me for it."
"Was I not there to applaud you? I only think such energies should be
turned into some definitely useful channel. But you must not go into the
"What else can I do?"
"You are fit for so much that is better."
"I never can be anything like Austin."
"But I think you can do more."
"Well, I thank you for thinking it, Lady Judith. Something I will do.
A man must deserve to live, as you say.
"Sauces," Adrian was heard to articulate distinctly in the rear, "Sauces
are the top tree of this science. A woman who has mastered sauces sits
on the apex of civilization."
Briareus reddened duskily seaward. The West was all a burning rose.
"How can men see such sights as those, and live idle?" Richard resumed.
"I feel ashamed of asking my men to work for me.--Or I feel so now."
"Not when you're racing the Begum, I think. There's no necessity for you
to turn democrat like Austin. Do you write now?"
"No. What is writing like mine? It doesn't deceive me. I know it's
only the excuse I'm making to myself for remaining idle. I haven't
written a line since--lately."
"Because you are so happy."
"No, not because of that. Of course I'm very happy..." He did not
Vague, shapeless ambition had replaced love in yonder skies. No
Scientific Humanist was by to study the natural development, and guide
him. This lady would hardly be deemed a very proper guide to the
undirected energies of the youth, yet they had established relations of
that nature. She was five years older than he, and a woman, which may
explain her serene presumption.
The cloud-giants had broken up: a brawny shoulder smouldered over the
"We'll work together in town, at all events," said Richard,
"Why can't we go about together at night and find out people who want
Lady Judith smiled, and only corrected his nonsense by saying, "I think
we mustn't be too romantic. You will become a knight-errant, I suppose.
You have the characteristics of one."
"Especially at breakfast," Adrian's unnecessarily emphatic gastronomical
lessons to the young wife here came in.
"You must be our champion," continued Lady Judith: "the rescuer and
succourer of distressed dames and damsels. We want one badly."
"You do," said Richard, earnestly: "from what I hear: from what I know!"
His thoughts flew off with him as knight-errant hailed shrilly at
exceeding critical moment by distressed dames and damsels. Images of
airy towers hung around. His fancy performed miraculous feats. The
towers crumbled. The stars grew larger, seemed to throb with lustre.
His fancy crumbled with the towers of the air, his heart gave a leap, he
turned to Lucy.
"My darling! what have you been doing?" And as if to compensate her for
his little knight-errant infidelity, he pressed very tenderly to her.
"We have been engaged in a charming conversation on domestic cookery,"
"Cookery! such an evening as this?" His face was a handsome likeness of
Hippias at the presentation of bridecake.
"Dearest! you know it's very useful," Lucy mirthfully pleaded.
"Indeed I quite agree with you, child," said Lady Judith, and I think you
have the laugh of us. I certainly will learn to cook some day."
"Woman's mission, in so many words," ejaculated Adrian.
"And pray, what is man's?"
"To taste thereof, and pronounce thereupon."
"Let us give it up to them," said Lady Judith to Richard. "You and I
never will make so delightful and beautifully balanced a world of it."
Richard appeared to have grown perfectly willing to give everything up to
the fair face, his bridal Hesper.
Neat day Lucy had to act the coward anew, and, as she did so, her heart
sank to see how painfully it affected him that she should hesitate to go
with him to his father. He was patient, gentle; he sat down by her side
to appeal to her reason, and used all the arguments he could think of to
"If we go together and make him see us both: if he sees he has nothing to
be ashamed of in you--rather everything to be proud of; if you are only
near him, you will not have to speak a word, and I'm certain--as certain
as that I live--that in a week we shall be settled happily at Raynham. I
know my father so well, Lucy. Nobody knows him but I."
Lucy asked whether Mr. Harley did not.
"Adrian? Not a bit. Adrian only knows a part of people, Lucy; and not
the best part."
Lucy was disposed to think more highly of the object of her conquest.
"Is it he that has been frightening you, Lucy?"
"No, no, Richard; oh, dear no!" she cried, and looked at him more
tenderly because she was not quite truthful.
"He doesn't know my father at all," said Richard. But Lucy had another
opinion of the wise youth, and secretly maintained it. She could not be
won to imagine the baronet a man of human mould, generous, forgiving,
full of passionate love at heart, as Richard tried to picture him, and
thought him, now that he beheld him again through Adrian's embassy. To
her he was that awful figure, shrouded by the midnight. "Why are you so
harsh?" she had heard Richard cry more than once. She was sure that
Adrian must be right.
"Well, I tell you I won't go without you," said Richard, and Lucy begged
for a little more time.
Cupid now began to grumble, and with cause. Adrian positively refused to
go on the water unless that element were smooth as a plate. The South-
west still joked boisterously at any comparison of the sort; the days
were magnificent; Richard had yachting engagements; and Lucy always
petitioned to stay to keep Adrian company, concerning it her duty as
hostess. Arguing with Adrian was an absurd idea. If Richard hinted at
his retaining Lucy, the wise youth would remark: "It's a wholesome
interlude to your extremely Cupidinous behaviour, my dear boy."
Richard asked his wife what they could possibly find to talk about.
"All manner of things," said Lucy; "not only cookery. He is so amusing,
though he does make fun of The Pilgrim's Scrip, and I think he ought not.
And then, do you know, darling--you won't think me vain?--I think he is
beginning to like me a little."
Richard laughed at the humble mind of his Beauty.
"Doesn't everybody like you, admire you? Doesn't Lord Mountfalcon, and
Mr. Morton, and Lady Judith?"
"But he is one of your family, Richard."
"And they all will, if she isn't a coward."
"Ah, no!" she sighs, and is chidden.
The conquest of an epicure, or any young wife's conquest beyond her
husband, however loyally devised for their mutual happiness, may be
costly to her. Richard in his hours of excitement was thrown very much
with Lady Judith. He consulted her regarding what he termed Lucy's
cowardice. Lady Judith said: "I think she's wrong, but you must learn to
humour little women."
"Then would you advise me to go up alone?" he asked, with a cloudy
"What else can you do? Be reconciled yourself as quickly as you can.
You can't drag her like a captive, you know?"
It is not pleasant for a young husband, fancying his bride the peerless
flower of Creation, to learn that he must humour a little woman in her.
It was revolting to Richard.
"What I fear," he said, "is, that my father will make it smooth with me,
and not acknowledge her: so that whenever I go to him, I shall have to
leave her, and tit for tat--an abominable existence, like a ball on a
billiard-table. I won't bear that ignominy. And this I know, I know!
she might prevent it at once, if she would only be brave, and face it.
You, you, Lady Judith, you wouldn't be a coward?"
"Where my old lord tells me to go, I go," the lady coldly replied.
"There's not much merit in that. Pray, don't cite me. Women are born
cowards, you know."
"But I love the women who are not cowards."
"The little thing--your wife has not refused to go?"
"No--but tears! Who can stand tears?"
Lucy had come to drop them. Unaccustomed to have his will thwarted, and
urgent where he saw the thing to do so clearly, the young husband had
spoken strong words: and she, who knew that she would have given her life
by inches for him; who knew that she was playing a part for his
happiness, and hiding for his sake the nature that was worthy his esteem;
the poor little martyr had been weak a moment.
She had Adrian's support. The wise youth was very comfortable. He liked
the air of the Island, and he liked being petted. "A nice little woman!
a very nice little woman!" Tom Bakewell heard him murmur to himself
according to a habit he had; and his air of rather succulent patronage as
he walked or sat beside the innocent Beauty, with his head thrown back
and a smile that seemed always to be in secret communion with his marked
abdominal prominence, showed that she was gaining part of what she played
for. Wise youths who buy their loves, are not unwilling, when
opportunity offers, to try and obtain the commodity for nothing.
Examinations of her hand, as for some occult purpose, and unctuous
pattings of the same, were not infrequent. Adrian waxed now and then
Anacreontic in his compliments. Lucy would say: "That's worse than Lord
"Better English than the noble lord deigns to employ--allow that?" quoth
"He is very kind," said Lucy.
"To all, save to our noble vernacular," added Adrian. "He seems to scent
a rival to his dignity there."
It may be that Adrian scented a rival to his lymphatic emotions.
"We are at our ease here in excellent society," he wrote to Lady
Blandish. "I am bound to confess that the Huron has a happy fortune, or
a superlative instinct. Blindfold he has seized upon a suitable mate.
She can look at a lord, and cook for an epicure. Besides Dr. Kitchener,
she reads and comments on The Pilgrim's Scrip. The `Love' chapter, of
course, takes her fancy. That picture of Woman, `Drawn by Reverence and
coloured by Love,' she thinks beautiful, and repeats it, tossing up
pretty eyes. Also the lover's petition: 'Give me purity to be worthy the
good in her, and grant her patience to reach the good in me.' 'Tis quite
taking to hear her lisp it. Be sure that I am repeating the petition! I
make her read me her choice passages. She has not a bad voice.
"The Lady Judith I spoke of is Austin's Miss Menteith, married to the
incapable old Lord Felle, or Fellow, as the wits here call him. Lord
Mountfalcon is his cousin, and her--what? She has been trying to find
out, but they have both got over their perplexity, and act respectively
the bad man reproved and the chaste counsellor; a position in which our
young couple found them, and haply diverted its perils. They had quite
taken them in hand. Lady Judith undertakes to cure the fair Papist of a
pretty, modest trick of frowning and blushing when addressed, and his
lordship directs the exuberant energies of the original man. 'Tis thus
we fulfil our destinies, and are content. Sometimes they change pupils;
my lord educates the little dame, and my lady the hope of Raynham. Joy
and blessings unto all! as the German poet sings. Lady Judith accepted
the hand of her decrepit lord that she might be of potent service to her
fellow-creatures. Austin, you know, had great hopes of her.
"I have for the first time in my career a field of lords to study. I
think it is not without meaning that I am introduced to it by a yeoman's
niece. The language of the two social extremes is similar. I find it to
consist in an instinctively lavish use of vowels and adjectives. My lord
and Farmer Blaize speak the same tongue, only my lord's has lost its
backbone, and is limp, though fluent. Their pursuits are identical; but
that one has money, or, as the Pilgrim terms it, vantage, and the other
has not. Their ideas seem to have a special relationship in the
peculiarity of stopping where they have begun. Young Tom Blaize with
vantage would be Lord Mountfalcon. Even in the character of their
parasites I see a resemblance, though I am bound to confess that the Hon.
Peter Brayder, who is my lord's parasite, is by no means noxious.
"This sounds dreadfully democrat. Pray, don't be alarmed. The discovery
of the affinity between the two extremes of the Royal British Oak has
made me thrice conservative. I see now that the national love of a lord
is less subservience than a form of self-love; putting a gold-lace hat on
one's image, as it were, to bow to it. I see, too, the admirable wisdom
of our system:--could there be a finer balance of power than in a
community where men intellectually nil, have lawful vantage and a gold-
lace hat on? How soothing it is to intellect--that noble rebel, as the
Pilgrim has it--to stand, and bow, and know itself superior! This
exquisite compensation maintains the balance: whereas that period
anticipated by the Pilgrim, when science shall have produced an
intellectual aristocracy, is indeed horrible to contemplate. For what
despotism is so black as one the mind cannot challenge? 'Twill be an
iron Age. Wherefore, madam, I cry, and shall continue to cry, 'Vive Lord
Mountfalcon! long may he sip his Burgundy! long may the bacon-fed carry
him on their shoulders!'
"Mr. Morton (who does me the honour to call me Young Mephisto, and
Socrates missed) leaves to-morrow to get Master Ralph out of a scrape.
Our Richard has just been elected member of a Club for the promotion of
nausea. Is he happy? you ask. As much so as one who has had the
misfortune to obtain what he wanted can be. Speed is his passion. He
races from point to point. In emulation of Leander and Don Juan, he
swam, I hear, to the opposite shores the other day, or some world-shaking
feat of the sort: himself the Hero whom he went to meet: or, as they who
pun say, his Hero was a Bet. A pretty little domestic episode occurred
this morning. He finds her abstracted in the fire of his caresses: she
turns shy and seeks solitude: green jealousy takes hold of him: he lies
in wait, and discovers her with his new rival--a veteran edition of the
culinary Doctor! Blind to the Doctor's great national services, deaf to
her wild music, he grasps the intruder, dismembers him, and performs upon
him the treatment he has recommended for dressed cucumber. Tears and
shrieks accompany the descent of the gastronome. Down she rushes to
secure the cherished fragments: he follows: they find him, true to his
character, alighted and straggling over a bed of blooming flowers. Yet
ere a fairer flower can gather him, a heel black as Pluto stamps him into
earth, flowers and all:--happy burial! Pathetic tribute to his merit is
watering his grave, when by saunters my Lord Mountfalcon. 'What's the
mattah?' says his lordship, soothing his moustache. They break apart,
and 'tis left to me to explain from the window. My lord looks shocked,
Richard is angry with her for having to be ashamed of himself, Beauty
dries her eyes, and after a pause of general foolishness, the business of
life is resumed. I may add that the Doctor has just been dug up, and we
are busy, in the enemy's absence, renewing old Aeson with enchanted
threads. By the way, a Papist priest has blest them."
A month had passed when Adrian wrote this letter. He was very
comfortable; so of course he thought Time was doing his duty. Not a word
did he say of Richard's return, and for some reason or other neither
Richard nor Lucy spoke of it now.
Lady Blandish wrote back: "His father thinks he has refused to come to
him. By your utter silence on the subject, I fear that it must be so.
Make him come. Bring him by force. Insist on his coming. Is he mad?
He must come at once."
To this Adrian replied, after a contemplative comfortable lapse of a day
or two, which might be laid to his efforts to adopt the lady's advice,
"The point is that the half man declines to come without the whole man.
The terrible question of sex is our obstruction."
Lady Blandish was in despair. She had no positive assurance that the
baronet would see his son; the mask put them all in the dark; but she
thought she saw in Sir Austin irritation that the offender, at least when
the opening to come and make his peace seemed to be before him, should
let days and weeks go by. She saw through the mask sufficiently not to
have any hope of his consenting to receive the couple at present; she was
sure that his equanimity was fictitious; but she pierced no farther, or
she might have started and asked herself, Is this the heart of a woman?
The lady at last wrote to Richard. She said: "Come instantly, and come
alone." Then Richard, against his judgment, gave way. "My father is not
the man I thought him!" he exclaimed sadly, and Lucy felt his eyes saying
to her: "And you, too, are not the woman I thought you." Nothing could
the poor little heart reply but strain to his bosom and sleeplessly pray
in his arms all the night.
Three weeks after Richard arrived in town, his cousin Clare was married,
under the blessings of her energetic mother, and with the approbation of
her kinsfolk, to the husband that had been expeditiously chosen for her.
The gentleman, though something more than twice the age of his bride, had
no idea of approaching senility for many long connubial years to come.
Backed by his tailor and his hairdresser, he presented no such bad figure
at the altar, and none would have thought that he was an ancient admirer
of his bride's mama, as certainly none knew he had lately proposed for
Mrs. Doria before there was any question of her daughter. These things
were secrets; and the elastic and happy appearance of Mr. John Todhunter
did not betray them at the altar. Perhaps he would rather have married
the mother. He was a man of property, well born, tolerably well
educated, and had, when Mrs. Doria rejected him for the first time, the
reputation of being a fool--which a wealthy man may have in his youth;
but as he lived on, and did not squander his money--amassed it, on the
contrary, and did not seek to go into Parliament, and did other negative
wise things, the world's opinion, as usual, veered completely round, and
John Todhunter was esteemed a shrewd, sensible man--only not brilliant;
that he was brilliant could not be said of him. In fact, the man could
hardly talk, and it was a fortunate provision that no impromptu
deliveries were required of him in the marriage-service.
Mrs. Doria had her own reasons for being in a hurry. She had discovered
something of the strange impassive nature of her child; not from any
confession of Clare's, but from signs a mother can read when, her eyes
are not resolutely shut. She saw with alarm and anguish that Clare had
fallen into the pit she had been digging for her so laboriously. In vain
she entreated the baronet to break the disgraceful, and, as she said,
illegal alliance his son had contracted. Sir Austin would not even stop
the little pension to poor Berry. "At least you will do that, Austin,"
she begged pathetically. "You will show your sense of that horrid
woman's conduct?" He refused to offer up any victim to console her.
Then Mrs. Doria told him her thoughts,--and when an outraged energetic
lady is finally brought to exhibit these painfully hoarded treasures, she
does not use half words as a medium. His System, and his conduct
generally were denounced to him, without analysis. She let him
understand that the world laughed at him; and he heard this from her at a
time when his mask was still soft and liable to be acted on by his
nerves. "You are weak, Austin! weak, I tell you!" she said, and, like
all angry and self-interested people, prophecy came easy to her. In her
heart she accused him of her own fault, in imputing to him the wreck of
her project. The baronet allowed her to revel in the proclamation of a
dire future, and quietly counselled her to keep apart from him, which his
sister assured him she would do.
But to be passive in calamity is the province of no woman. Mark the race
at any hour. "What revolution and hubbub does not that little
instrument, the needle, avert from us!" says The Pilgrim's Scrip. Alas,
that in calamity women cannot stitch! Now that she saw Clare wanted
other than iron, it struck her she must have a husband, and be made
secure as a woman and a wife. This seemed the thing to do: and, as she
had forced the iron down Clare's throat, so she forced the husband, and
Clare gulped at the latter as she had at the former. On the very day
that Mrs. Doria had this new track shaped out before her, John Todhunter
called at the Foreys'. "Old John!" sang out Mrs. Doria, "show him up to
me. I want to see him particularly." He sat with her alone. He was a
man multitudes of women would have married--whom will they not?--and who
would have married any presentable woman: but women do want asking, and
John never had the word. The rape of such men is left to the practical
animal. So John sat alone with his old flame. He had become resigned to
her perpetual lamentation and living Suttee for his defunct rival. But,
ha! what meant those soft glances now--addressed to him? His tailor and
his hairdresser gave youth to John, but they had not the art to bestow
upon him distinction, and an undistinguished man what woman looks at?
John was an indistinguishable man. For that reason he was dry wood to a
And now she said: "It is time you should marry; and you are the man to be
the guide and helper of a young woman, John. You are well preserved--
younger than most of the young men of our day. You are eminently
domestic, a good son, and will be a good husband and good father. Some
one you must marry.--What do you think of Clare for a wife for you?"
At first John Todhunter thought it would be very much like his marrying a
baby. However, he listened to it, and that was enough for Mrs. Doria.
She went down to John's mother, and consulted with her on the propriety
of the scheme of wedding her daughter to John in accordance with his
proposition. Mrs. Todhunter's jealousy of any disturbing force in the
influence she held over her son Mrs. Doria knew to be one of the causes
of John's remaining constant to the impression she had afore-time
produced on him. She spoke so kindly of John, and laid so much stress on
the ingrained obedience and passive disposition of her daughter, that
Mrs. Todhunter was led to admit she did think it almost time John should
be seeking a mate, and that he--all things considered--would hardly find
a fitter one. And this, John Todhunter--old John no more--heard to his
amazement when, a day or two subsequently, he instanced the probable
disapproval of his mother.
The match was arranged. Mrs. Doria did the wooing. It consisted in
telling Clare that she had come to years when marriage was desirable, and
that she had fallen into habits of moping which might have the worse
effect on her future life, as it had on her present health and
appearance, and which a husband would cure. Richard was told by Mrs.
Doria that Clare had instantaneously consented to accept Mr. John
Todhunter as lord of her days, and with more than obedience--with
alacrity. At all events, when Richard spoke to Clare, the strange
passive creature did not admit constraint on her inclinations. Mrs.
Doria allowed Richard to speak to her. She laughed at his futile
endeavours to undo her work, and the boyish sentiments he uttered on the
subject. "Let us see, child," she said, "let us see which turns out the
best; a marriage of passion, or a marriage of common sense."
Heroic efforts were not wanting to arrest the union. Richard made
repeated journeys to Hounslow, where Ralph was quartered, and if Ralph
could have been persuaded to carry off a young lady who did not love him,
from the bridegroom her mother averred she did love, Mrs. Doria might
have been defeated. But Ralph in his cavalry quarters was cooler than
Ralph in the Bursley meadows. "Women are oddities, Dick," he remarked,
running a finger right and left along his upper lip. "Best leave them to
their own freaks. She's a dear girl, though she doesn't talk: I like her
for that. If she cared for me I'd go the race. She never did. It's no
use asking a girl twice. She knows whether she cares a fig for a
The hero quitted him with some contempt, As Ralph Morton was a young man,
and he had determined that John Todhunter was an old man, he sought
another private interview with Clare, and getting her alone, said:
"Clare, I've come to you for the last time. Will you marry Ralph
To which Clare replied, "I cannot marry two husbands, Richard."
"Will you refuse to marry this old man?"
"I must do as mama wishes."
"Then you're going to marry an old man--a man you don't love, and can't
love! Oh, good God! do you know what you're doing?" He flung about in a
fury. "Do you know what it is? Clare!" he caught her two hands
violently, "have you any idea of the horror you're going to commit?"
She shrank a little at his vehemence, but neither blushed nor stammered:
answering: "I see nothing wrong in doing what mama thinks right,
"Your mother! I tell you it's an infamy, Clare! It's a miserable sin!
I tell you, if I had done such a thing I would not live an hour after it.
And coldly to prepare for it! to be busy about your dresses! They told
me when I came in that you were with the milliner. To be smiling over
the horrible outrage! decorating yourself!"...
"Dear Richard," said Clare, "you will make me very unhappy."
"That one of my blood should be so debased!" he cried, brushing angrily
at his face. "Unhappy! I beg you to feel for yourself, Clare. But I
suppose," and he said it scornfully, "girls don't feel this sort of
She grew a trifle paler.
"Next to mama, I would wish to please you, dear Richard."
"Have you no will of your own?" he exclaimed.
She looked at him softly; a look he interpreted for the meekness he
detested in her.
"No, I believe you have none!" he added. "And what can I do? I can't
step forward and stop this accursed marriage. If you would but say a
word I would save you; but you tie my hands. And they expect me to stand
by and see it done!"
"Will you not be there, Richard?" said Clare, following the question with
her soft eyes. It was the same voice that had so thrilled him on his
"Oh, my darling Clare!" he cried in the kindest way he had ever used to
her, "if you knew how I feel this!" and now as he wept she wept, and came
insensibly into his arms.
"My darling Clare!" he repeated.
She said nothing, but seemed to shudder, weeping.
"You will do it, Clare? You will be sacrificed? So lovely as you are,
too!... Clare! you cannot be quite blind. If I dared speak to you, and
tell you all.... Look up. Can you still consent?"
"I must not disobey mama," Clare murmured, without looking up from the
nest her cheek had made on his bosom.
"Then kiss me for the last time," said Richard. "I'll never kiss you
after it, Clare."
He bent his head to meet her mouth, and she threw her arms wildly round
him, and kissed him convulsively, and clung to his lips, shutting her
eyes, her face suffused with a burning red.
Then he left her, unaware of the meaning of those passionate kisses.
Argument with Mrs. Doria was like firing paper-pellets against a stone
wall. To her indeed the young married hero spoke almost indecorously,
and that which his delicacy withheld him from speaking to Clare. He
could provoke nothing more responsive from the practical animal than
"Pooh-pooh! Tush, tush! and Fiddlededee!"
"Really," Mrs. Doria said to her intimates, "that boy's education acts
like a disease on him. He cannot regard anything sensibly. He is for
ever in some mad excess of his fancy, and what he will come to at last
heaven only knows! I sincerely pray that Austin will be able to bear
Threats of prayer, however, that harp upon their sincerity, are not very
well worth having. Mrs. Doria had embarked in a practical controversy,
as it were, with her brother. Doubtless she did trust he would be able
to bear his sorrows to come, but one who has uttered prophecy can barely
help hoping to see it fulfilled: she had prophecied much grief to the
Poor John Todhunter, who would rather have married the mother, and had
none of your heroic notions about the sacred necessity for love in
marriage, moved as one guiltless of offence, and deserving his happiness.
Mrs. Doria shielded him from the hero. To see him smile at Clare's
obedient figure, and try not to look paternal, was touching.
Meantime Clare's marriage served one purpose. It completely occupied
Richard's mind, and prevented him from chafing at the vexation of not
finding his father ready to meet him when he came to town. A letter had
awaited Adrian at the hotel, which said, "Detain him till you hear
further from me. Take him about with you into every form of society."
No more than that. Adrian had to extemporize, that the baronet had gone
down to Wales on pressing business, and would be back in a week or so.
For ulterior inventions and devices wherewith to keep the young gentleman
in town, he applied to Mrs. Doria. "Leave him to me," said Mrs. Doria,
"I'll manage him." And she did.
"Who can say," asks The Pilgrim's Scrip, "when he is not walking a puppet
to some woman?"
Mrs. Doria would hear no good of Lucy. "I believe," she observed, as
Adrian ventured a shrugging protest in her behalf,--"it is my firm
opinion, that a scullery-maid would turn any of you men round her little
finger--only give her time and opportunity." By dwelling on the arts of
women, she reconciled it to her conscience to do her best to divide the
young husband from his wife till it pleased his father they should live
their unhallowed union again. Without compunction, or a sense of
incongruity, she abused her brother and assisted the fulfilment of his
So the puppets were marshalled by Mrs. Doria, happy, or sad, or
indifferent. Quite against his set resolve and the tide of his feelings,
Richard found himself standing behind Clare in the church--the very
edifice that had witnessed his own marriage, and heard, "I, Clare Doria,
take thee John Pemberton," clearly pronounced. He stood with black brows
dissecting the arts of the tailor and hairdresser on unconscious John.
The back, and much of the middle, of Mr. Todhunter's head was bald; the
back shone like an egg-shell, but across the middle the artist had drawn
two long dabs of hair from the sides, and plastered them cunningly, so
that all save wilful eyes would have acknowledged the head to be covered.
The man's only pretension was to a respectable juvenility. He had a good
chest, stout limbs, a face inclined to be jolly. Mrs. Doria had no cause
to be put out of countenance at all by the exterior of her son-in-law:
nor was she. Her splendid hair and gratified smile made a light in the
church. Playing puppets must be an immense pleasure to the practical
animal. The Forey bridesmaids, five in number, and one Miss Doria, their
cousin, stood as girls do stand at these sacrifices, whether happy, sad,
or indifferent; a smile on their lips and tears in attendance. Old Mrs.
Todhunter, an exceedingly small ancient woman, was also there. "I can't
have my boy John married without seeing it done," she said, and
throughout the ceremony she was muttering audible encomiums on her John's
The ring was affixed to Clare's finger; there was no ring lost in this
common-sense marriage. The instant the clergyman bade him employ it,
John drew the ring out, and dropped it on the finger of the cold passive
hand in a businesslike way, as one who had studied the matter. Mrs.
Doria glanced aside at Richard. Richard observed Clare spread out her
fingers that the operation might be the more easily effected.
He did duty in the vestry a few minutes, and then said to his aunt:
"Now I'll go."
"You'll come to the breakfast, child? The Foreys"--
He cut her short. "I've stood for the family, and I'll do no more. I
won't pretend to eat and make merry over it."
She had attained her object and she wisely gave way.
"Well. Go and kiss Clare, and shake his hand. Pray, pray be civil."
She turned to Adrian, and said: "He is going. You must go with him, and
find some means of keeping him, or he'll be running off to that woman.
Now, no words--go!"
Richard bade Clare farewell. She put up her mouth to him humbly, but he
kissed her on the forehead.
"Do not cease to love me," she said in a quavering whisper in his ear.
Mr. Todhunter stood beaming and endangering the art of the hairdresser
with his pocket-handkerchief. Now he positively was married, he thought
he would rather have the daughter than the mother, which is a reverse of
the order of human thankfulness at a gift of the Gods.
"Richard, my boy!" he said heartily, "congratulate me."
"I should be happy to, if I could," sedately replied the hero, to the
consternation of those around. Nodding to the bridesmaids and bowing to
the old lady, he passed out.
Adrian, who had been behind him, deputed to watch for a possible
unpleasantness, just hinted to John: "You know, poor fellow, he has got
into a mess with his marriage."
"Oh! ah! yes!" kindly said John, "poor fellow!"
All the puppets then rolled off to the breakfast.
Adrian hurried after Richard in an extremely discontented state of mind.
Not to be at the breakfast and see the best of the fun, disgusted him.
However, he remembered that he was a philosopher, and the strong disgust
he felt was only expressed in concentrated cynicism on every earthly
matter engendered by the conversation. They walked side by side into
Kensington Gardens. The hero was mouthing away to himself, talking by
Presently he faced Adrian, crying: "And I might have stopped it! I see
it now! I might have stopped it by going straight to him, and asking him
if he dared marry a girl who did not love him. And I never thought of
it. Good heaven! I feel this miserable affair on my conscience."
"Ah!" groaned Adrian. "An unpleasant cargo for the conscience, that! I
would rather carry anything on mine than a married couple. Do you
purpose going to him now?"
The hero soliloquized: "He's not a bad sort of man."...
"Well, he's not a Cavalier," said Adrian, "and that's why you wonder your
aunt selected him, no doubt? He's decidedly of the Roundhead type, with
the Puritan extracted, or inoffensive, if latent."
"There's the double infamy!" cried Richard, "that a man you can't call
bad, should do this damned thing!"
"Well, it's hard we can't find a villain."
"He would have listened to me, I'm sure."
"Go to him now, Richard, my son. Go to him now. It's not yet too late.
Who knows? If he really has a noble elevated superior mind--though not a
Cavalier in person, he may be one at heart--he might, to please you, and
since you put such stress upon it, abstain...perhaps with some loss of
dignity, but never mind. And the request might be singular, or seem so,
but everything has happened before in this world, you know, my dear boy.
And what an infinite consolation it is for the eccentric, that
The hero was impervious to the wise youth. He stared at him as if he
were but a speck in the universe he visioned.
It was provoking that Richard should be Adrian's best subject for cynical
pastime, in the extraordinary heterodoxies he started, and his worst in
the way he took it; and the wise youth, against his will, had to feel as
conscious of the young man's imaginative mental armour, as he was of his
"The same sort of day!" mused Richard, looking up. "I suppose my
father's right. We make our own fates, and nature has nothing to do with
"Some difference in the trees, though," Richard continued abstractedly.
"Growing bald at the top," said Adrian.
"Will you believe that my aunt Helen compared the conduct of that
wretched slave Clare to Lucy's, who, she had the cruel insolence to say,
entangled me into marriage?" the hero broke out loudly and rapidly. "You
know--I told you, Adrian--how I had to threaten and insist, and how she
pleaded, and implored me to wait."
"Ah! hum!" mumbled Adrian.
"You remember my telling you?" Richard was earnest to hear her
"Pleaded and implored, my dear boy? Oh, no doubt she did. Where's the
lass that doesn't."
"Call my wife by another name, if you please."
"The generic title can't be cancelled because of your having married one
of the body, my son."
"She did all she could to persuade me to wait!" emphasized Richard.
Adrian shook his head with a deplorable smile.
"Come, come, my good Ricky; not all! not all!"
Richard bellowed: "What more could she have done?"
"She could have shaved her head, for instance."
This happy shaft did stick. With a furious exclamation Richard shot in
front, Adrian following him; and asking him (merely to have his
assumption verified), whether he did not think she might have shaved her
head? and, presuming her to have done so, whether, in candour, he did not
think he would have waited--at least till she looked less of a rank
After a minute or so, the wise youth was but a fly buzzing about
Richard's head. Three weeks of separation from Lucy, and an excitement
deceased, caused him to have soft yearnings for the dear lovely home-
face. He told Adrian it was his intention to go down that night. Adrian
immediately became serious. He was at a loss what to invent to detain
him, beyond the stale fiction that his father was coming to-morrow. He
rendered homage to the genius of woman in these straits. "My aunt," he
thought, "would have the lie ready; and not only that, but she would take
care it did its work."
At this juncture the voice of a cavalier in the Row hailed them, proving
to be the Honourable Peter Brayder, Lord Mountfalcon's parasite. He
greeted them very cordially; and Richard, remembering some fun they had
in the Island, asked him to dine with them; postponing his return till
the next day. Lucy was his. It was even sweet to dally with the delight
of seeing her.
The Hon. Peter was one who did honour to the body he belonged to. Though
not so tall as a west of London footman, he was as shapely; and he had a
power of making his voice insinuating, or arrogant, as it suited the
exigencies of his profession. He had not a rap of money in the world;
yet he rode a horse, lived high, expended largely. The world said that
the Hon. Peter was salaried by his Lordship, and that, in common with
that of Parasite, he exercised the ancient companion profession. This
the world said, and still smiled at the Hon. Peter; for he was an
engaging fellow, and where he went not Lord Mountfalcon would not go.
They had a quiet little hotel dinner, ordered by Adrian, and made a
square at the table, Ripton Thompson being the fourth. Richard sent down
to his office to fetch him, and the two friends shook hands for the first
time since the great deed had been executed. Deep was the Old Dog's
delight to hear the praises of his Beauty sounded by such aristocratic
lips as the Hon. Peter Brayder's. All through the dinner he was throwing
out hints and small queries to get a fuller account of her; and when the
claret had circulated, he spoke a word or two himself, and heard the Hon.
Peter eulogize his taste, and wish him a bride as beautiful; at which
Ripton blushed, and said, he had no hope of that, and the Hon. Peter
assured him marriage did not break the mould.
After the wine this gentleman took his cigar on the balcony, and found
occasion to get some conversation with Adrian alone.
"Our young friend here--made it all right with the governor?" he asked
"Oh yes!" said Adrian. But it struck him that Brayder might be of
assistance in showing Richard a little of the `society in every form'
required by his chief's prescript. "That is," he continued, "we are not
yet permitted an interview with the august author of our being, and I
have rather a difficult post. 'Tis mine both to keep him here, and also
to find him the opportunity to measure himself with his fellow-man. In
other words, his father wants him to see something of life before he
enters upon housekeeping. Now I am proud to confess that I'm hardly
equal to the task. The demi, or damnedmonde--if it's that lie wants him
to observe--is one that I leave not got the walk to."
"Ha! ha!" laughed Brayder. "You do the keeping, I offer to parade the
demi. I must say, though, it's a queer notion of the old gentleman."
"It's the continuation of a philosophic plan," said Adrian.
Brayder followed the curvings of the whiff of his cigar with his eyes,
and ejaculated, "Infernally philosophic!"
"Has Lord Mountfalcon left the island?" Adrian inquired.
"Mount? to tell the truth I don't know where he is. Chasing some light
craft, I suppose. That's poor Mount's weakness. It's his ruin, poor
fellow! He's so confoundedly in earnest at the game."
"He ought to know it by this time, if fame speaks true," remarked Adrian.
"He's a baby about women, and always will be," said Brayder. "He's been
once or twice wanting to marry them. Now there's a woman--you've heard
of Mrs. Mount? All the world knows her.--If that woman hadn't
scandalized."--The young man joined them, and checked the communication.
Brayder winked to Adrian, and pitifully indicated the presence of an
"A married man, you know," said Adrian.
"Yes, yes!--we won't shock him," Brayder observed. He appeared to study
the young man while they talked.
Next morning Richard was surprised by a visit from his aunt. Mrs. Doria
took a seat by his side and spoke as follows:
"My dear nephew. Now you know I have always loved you, and thought of
your welfare as if you had been my own child. More than that, I fear.
Well, now, you are thinking of returning to--to that place--are you not?
Yes. It is as I thought. Very well now, let me speak to you. You are
in a much more dangerous position than you imagine. I don't deny your
father's affection for you. It would be absurd to deny it. But you are
of an age now to appreciate his character. Whatever you may do he will
always give you money. That you are sure of; that you know. Very well.
But you are one to want more than money: you want his love. Richard, I
am convinced you will never be happy, whatever base pleasures you may be
led into, if he should withhold his love from you. Now, child, you know
you have grievously offended him. I wish not to animadvert on your
conduct.--You fancied yourself in love, and so on, and you were rash.
The less said of it the better now. But you must now--it is your duty
now to do something--to do everything that lies in your power to show him
you repent. No interruptions! Listen to me. You must consider him.
Austin is not like other men. Austin requires the most delicate
management. You must--whether you feel it or no--present an appearance
of contrition. I counsel it for the good of all. He is just like a
woman, and where his feelings are offended he wants utter subservience.
He has you in town, and he does not see you:--now you know that he and I
are not in communication: we have likewise our differences:--Well, he has
you in town, and he holds aloof:--he is trying you, my dear Richard. No:
he is not at Raynham: I do not know where he is. He is trying you,
child, and you must be patient. You must convince him that you do not
care utterly for your own gratification. If this person--I wish to speak
of her with respect, for your sake--well, if she loves you at all--if, I
say, she loves you one atom, she will repeat my solicitations for you to
stay and patiently wait here till he consents to see you. I tell you
candidly, it's your only chance of ever getting him to receive her. That
you should know. And now, Richard, I may add that there is something
else you should know. You should know that it depends entirely upon your
conduct now, whether you are to see your father's heart for ever divided
from you, and a new family at Raynham. You do not understand? I will
explain. Brothers and sisters are excellent things for young people, but
a new brood of them can hardly be acceptable to a young man. In fact,
they are, and must be, aliens. I only tell you what I have heard on good
authority. Don't you understand now? Foolish boy! if you do not humour
him, he will marry her. Oh! I am sure of it. I know it. And this you
will drive him to. I do not warn you on the score of your prospects, but
of your feelings. I should regard such a contingency, Richard, as a
final division between you. Think of the scandal! but alas, that is the
least of the evils."
It was Mrs. Doria's object to produce an impression, and avoid an
argument. She therefore left him as soon as she had, as she supposed,
made her mark on the young man. Richard was very silent during the
speech, and save for an exclamation or so, had listened attentively. He
pondered on what his aunt said. He loved Lady Blandish, and yet he did
not wish to see her Lady Feverel. Mrs. Doria laid painful stress on the
scandal, and though he did not give his mind to this, he thought of it.
He thought of his mother. Where was she? But most his thoughts recurred
to his father, and something akin to jealousy slowly awakened his heart
to him. He had given him up, and had not latterly felt extremely filial;
but he could not bear the idea of a division in the love of which he had
ever been the idol and sole object. And such a man, too! so good! so
generous! If it was jealousy that roused the young man's heart to his
father, the better part of love was also revived in it. He thought of
old days: of his father's forbearance, his own wilfulness. He looked on
himself, and what he had done, with the eyes of such a man. He
determined to do all he could to regain his favour.
Mrs. Doria learnt from Adrian in the evening that her nephew intended
waiting in town another week.
"That will do," smiled Mrs. Doria. "He will be more patient at the end
of a week."
"Oh! does patience beget patience?" said Adrian. "I was not aware it was
a propagating virtue. I surrender him to you. I shan't be able to hold
him in after one week more. I assure you, my dear aunt, he's already"...
"Thank you, no explanation," Mrs. Doria begged.
When Richard saw her nest, he was informed that she had received a most
satisfactory letter from Mrs. John Todhunter: quite a glowing account of
John's behaviour: but on Richard's desiring to know the words Clare had
written, Mrs. Doria objected to be explicit, and shot into worldly
"Clare seldom glows," said Richard.
"No, I mean for her," his aunt remarked. "Don't look like your father,
"I should like to have seen the letter," said Richard.
Mrs. Doria did not propose to show it.
A Lady driving a pair of greys was noticed by Richard in his rides and
walks. She passed him rather obviously and often. She was very
handsome; a bold beauty, with shining black hair, red lips, and eyes not
afraid of men. The hair was brushed from her temples, leaving one of
those fine reckless outlines which the action of driving, and the pace,
admirably set off. She took his fancy. He liked the air of petulant
gallantry about her, and mused upon the picture, rare to him, of a
glorious dashing woman. He thought, too, she looked at him. He was not
at the time inclined to be vain, or he might have been sure she did.
Once it struck him she nodded slightly.
He asked Adrian one day in the park--who she was.
"I don't know her," said Adrian. "Probably a superior priestess of
"Now that's my idea of Bellona," Richard exclaimed. "Not the fury they
paint, but a spirited, dauntless, eager-looking creature like that."
"Bellona?" returned the wise youth. "I don't think her hair was black.
Red, wasn't it? I shouldn't compare her to Bellona; though, no doubt,
she's as ready to spill blood. Look at her! She does seem to scent
carnage. I see your idea. No; I should liken her to Diana emerged from
the tutorship of Master Endymion, and at nice play among the gods.
Depend upon it--they tell us nothing of the matter--Olympus shrouds the
story--but you may be certain that when she left the pretty shepherd she
had greater vogue than Venus up aloft."
Brayder joined them.
"See Mrs. Mount go by?" he said.
"Oh, that's Mrs. Mount!" cried Adrian.
"Who's Mrs. Mount?" Richard inquired.
"A sister to Miss Random, my dear boy."
"Like to know her?" drawled the Hon. Peter.
Richard replied indifferently, "No," and Mrs. Mount passed out of sight
and out of the conversation.
The young man wrote submissive letters to his father. "I have remained
here waiting to see you now five weeks," he wrote. "I have written to
you three letters, and you do not reply to them. Let me tell you again
how sincerely I desire and pray that you will come, or permit me to come
to you and throw myself at your feet, and beg my forgiveness, and hers.
She as earnestly implores it. Indeed, I am very wretched, sir. Believe
me, there is nothing I would not do to regain your esteem and the love I
fear I have unhappily forfeited. I will remain another week in the hope
of hearing from you, or seeing you. I beg of you, sir, not to drive me
mad. Whatever you ask of me I will consent to."
"Nothing he would not do!" the baronet commented as he read. "There is
nothing he would not do! He will remain another week and give me that
final chance! And it is I who drive him mad! Already he is beginning to
cast his retribution on my shoulders."
Sir Austin had really gone down to Wales to be out of the way. A
Shaddock-Dogmatist does not meet misfortune without hearing of it, and
the author of The Pilgrim'S Scrip in trouble found London too hot for
him. He quitted London to take refuge among the mountains; living there
in solitary commune with a virgin Note-book.
Some indefinite scheme was in his head in this treatment of his son. Had
he construed it, it would have looked ugly; and it settled to a vague
principle that the young man should be tried and tested.
"Let him learn to deny himself something. Let him live with his equals
for a term. If he loves me he will read my wishes." Thus he explained
his principle to Lady Blandish.
The lady wrote: "You speak of a term. Till when? May I name one to him?
It is the dreadful uncertainty that reduces him to despair. That, and
nothing else. Pray be explicit."
In return, he distantly indicated Richard's majority.
How could Lady Blandish go and ask the young man to wait a year away from
his wife? Her instinct began to open a wide eye on the idol she
When people do not themselves know what they mean, they succeed in
deceiving and imposing upon others. Not only was Lady Blandish
mystified; Mrs. Doria, who pierced into the recesses of everybody's mind,
and had always been in the habit of reading off her brother from infancy,
and had never known herself to be once wrong about him, she confessed she
was quite at a loss to comprehend Austin's principle. "For principle he
has," said Mrs. Doria; "he never acts without one. But what it is, I
cannot at present perceive. If he would write, and command the boy to
await his return, all would be clear. He allows us to go and fetch him,
and then leaves us all in a quandary. It must be some woman's influence.
That is the only way to account for it."
"Singular!" interjected Adrian, "what pride women have in their sex!
Well, I have to tell you, my dear aunt, that the day after to-morrow I
hand my charge over to your keeping. I can't hold him in an hour longer.
I've had to leash him with lies till my invention's exhausted. I
petition to have them put down to the chief's account, but when the
stream runs dry I can do no more. The last was, that I had heard from
him desiring me to have the South-west bedroom ready for him on Tuesday
proximate. 'So!' says my son, 'I'll wait till then,' and from the
gigantic effort he exhibited in coming to it, I doubt any human power's
getting him to wait longer."
"We must, we must detain him," said Mrs. Doria. "If we do not, I am
convinced Austin will do something rash that he will for ever repent. He
will marry that woman, Adrian. Mark my words. Now with any other young
man!... But Richard's education! that ridiculous System!... Has he no
distraction? nothing to amuse him?"
"Poor boy! I suppose he wants his own particular playfellow."
The wise youth had to bow to a reproof.
"I tell you, Adrian, he will marry that woman."
"My dear aunt! Can a chaste man do aught more commendable?"
"Has the boy no object we can induce him to follow?--If he had but a
"What say you to the regeneration of the streets of London, and the
profession of moral-scavenger, aunt? I assure you I have served a
month's apprenticeship with him. We sally forth on the tenth hour of the
night. A female passes. I hear him groan. 'Is she one of them,
Adrian?' I am compelled to admit she is not the saint he deems it the
portion of every creature wearing petticoats to be. Another groan; an
evident internal, 'It cannot be--and yet!'...that we hear on the stage.
Rollings of eyes: impious questionings of the Creator of the universe;
savage mutterings against brutal males; and then we meet a second young
person, and repeat the performance--of which I am rather tired. It would
be all very well, but he turns upon me, and lectures me because I don't
hire a house, and furnish it for all the women one meets to live in in
purity. Now that's too much to ask of a quiet man. Master Thompson has
latterly relieved me, I'm happy to say."
Mrs. Doria thought her thoughts.
"Has Austin written to you since you were in town?"
"Not an Aphorism!" returned Adrian.
"I must see Richard to-morrow morning," Mrs. Doria ended the colloquy by
The result of her interview with her nephew was, that Richard made no
allusion to a departure on the Tuesday; and for many days afterward he
appeared to have an absorbing business on his hands: but what it was
Adrian did not then learn, and his admiration of Mrs. Doria's genius for
management rose to a very high pitch.
On a morning in October they had an early visitor in the person of the
Hon. Peter, whom they had not seen for a week or more.
"Gentlemen," he said, flourishing his cane in his most affable manner,
"I've come to propose to you to join us in a little dinner-party at
Richmond. Nobody's in town, you know. London's as dead as a stock-fish.
Nothing but the scrapings to offer you. But the weather's fine: I
flatter myself you'll find the company agreeable, What says my friend
Richard begged to be excused.
"No, no: positively you must come," said the Hon. Peter. "I've had some
trouble to get them together to relieve the dulness of your
incarceration. Richmond's within the rules of your prison. You can be
back by night. Moonlight on the water--lovely woman. We've engaged a
city-barge to pull us back. Eight oars--I'm not sure it isn't sixteen.
Adrian was for going. Richard said he had an appointment with Ripton.
"You're in for another rick, you two," said Adrian. "Arrange that we go.
You haven't seen the cockney's Paradise. Abjure Blazes, and taste of
peace, my son."
After some persuasion, Richard yawned wearily, and got up, and threw
aside the care that was on him, saying, "Very well. Just as you like.
We'll take old Rip with us."
Adrian consulted Brayder's eye at this. The Hon. Peter briskly declared
he should be delighted to have Feverel's friend, and offered to take them
all down in his drag.
"If you don't get a match on to swim there with the tide--eh, Feverel, my
Richard replied that he had given up that sort of thing, at which Brayder
communicated a queer glance to Adrian, and applauded the youth.
Richmond was under a still October sun. The pleasant landscape, bathed
in Autumn, stretched from the foot of the hill to a red horizon haze.
The day was like none that Richard vividly remembered. It touched no
link in the chain of his recollection. It was quiet, and belonged to the
spirit of the season.
Adrian had divined the character of the scrapings they were to meet.
Brayder introduced them to one or two of the men, hastily and in rather
an undervoice, as a thing to get over. They made their bow to the first
knot of ladies they encountered. Propriety was observed strictly, even
to severity. The general talk was of the weather. Here and there a lady
would seize a button-hole or any little bit of the habiliments, of the
man she was addressing; and if it came to her to chide him, she did it
with more than a forefinger. This, however, was only here and there, and
a privilege of intimacy.
Where ladies are gathered together, the Queen of the assemblage may be
known by her Court of males. The Queen of the present gathering leaned
against a corner of the open window, surrounded by a stalwart Court, in
whom a practised eye would have discerned guardsmen, and Ripton, with a
sinking of the heart, apprehended lords. They were fine men, offering
inanimate homage. The trim of their whiskerage, the cut of their coats,
the high-bred indolence in their aspect, eclipsed Ripton's sense of self-
esteem. But they kindly looked over him. Occasionally one committed a
momentary outrage on him with an eye-glass, seeming to cry out in a voice
of scathing scorn, "Who's this?" and Ripton got closer to his hero to
justify his humble pretensions to existence and an identity in the shadow
of him. Richard gazed about. Heroes do not always know what to say or
do; and the cold bath before dinner in strange company is one of the
instances. He had recognized his superb Bellona in the lady by the
garden window. For Brayder the men had nods and yokes, the ladies a
pretty playfulness. He was very busy, passing between the groups,
chatting, laughing, taking the feminine taps he received, and sometimes
returning them in sly whispers. Adrian sat down and crossed his legs,
looking amused and benignant.
"Whose dinner is it?" Ripton heard a mignonne beauty ask of a cavalier.
"Mount's, I suppose," was the answer.
"Where is he? Why don't he come?"
"An affaire, I fancy."
"There he is again! How shamefully he treats Mrs. Mount!"
"She don't seem to cry over it."
Mrs. Mount was flashing her teeth and eyes with laughter at one of her
Court, who appeared to be Fool.
Dinner was announced. The ladies proclaimed extravagant appetites.
Brayder posted his three friends. Ripton found himself under the lee of
a dame with a bosom. On the other aide of him was the mignonne. Adrian
was at the lower end of the table. Ladies were in profusion, and he had
his share. Brayder drew Richard from seat to seat. A happy man had
established himself next to Mrs. Mount. Him Brayder hailed to take the
head of the table. The happy man objected, Brayder continued urgent, the
lady tenderly insisted, the happy man grimaced, dropped into the post of
honour, strove to look placable. Richard usurped his chair, and was not
badly welcomed by his neighbour.
Then the dinner commenced, and had all the attention of the company, till
the flying of the first champagne-cork gave the signal, and a hum began
to spread. Sparkling wine, that looseneth the tongue, and displayeth the
verity, hath also the quality of colouring it. The ladies laughed high;
Richard only thought them gay and natural. They flung back in their chairs
and laughed to tears; Ripton thought only of the pleasure he had in their
society. The champagne-corks continued a regular file-firing.
"Where have you been lately? I haven't seen you in the park," said Mrs.
Mount to Richard.
"No," he replied, "I've not been there." The question seemed odd: she
spoke so simply that it did not impress him. He emptied his glass, and
had it filled again.
The Hon. Peter did most of the open talking, which related to horses,
yachting, opera, and sport generally: who was ruined; by what horse, or
by what woman. He told one or two of Richard's feats. Fair smiles
rewarded the hero.
"Do you bet?" said Mrs. Mount.
"Only on myself," returned Richard.
"Bravo!" cried his Bellona, and her eye sent a lingering delirious
sparkle across her brimming glass at him.
"I'm sure you're a safe one to back," she added, and seemed to scan his