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BY FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT
I. THE WEAVING OF THE SHUTTLE
II. A LACK OF PERCEPTION
III. YOUNG LADY ANSTRUTHERS
IV. A MISTAKE OF THE POSTBOY'S
V. ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ATLANTIC
VI. AN UNFAIR ENDOWMENT
VII. ON BOARD THE "MERIDIANA"
VIII. THE SECOND-CLASS PASSENGER
IX. LADY JANE GREY
X. "IS LADY ANSTRUTHERS AT HOME?"
XI. "I THOUGHT YOU HAD ALL FORGOTTEN"
XIII. ONE OF THE NEW YORK DRESSES
XIV. IN THE GARDENS
XV. THE FIRST MAN
XVI. THE PARTICULAR INCIDENT
XVII. TOWNLINSON & SHEPPARD
XVIII. THE FIFTEENTH EARL OF MOUNT DUNSTAN
XIX. SPRING IN BOND STREET
XX. THINGS OCCUR IN STORNHAM VILLAGE
XXII. ONE OF MR. VANDERPOEL'S LETTERS
XXIII. INTRODUCING G. SELDEN
XXIV. THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF STORNHAM
XXV. "WE BEGAN TO MARRY THEM, MY GOOD FELLOW!"
XXVI. "WHAT IT MUST BE TO BE YOU--JUST YOU!"
XXVIII. SETTING THEM THINKING
XXIX. THE THREAD OF G. SELDEN
XXX. A RETURN
XXXI. NO, SHE WOULD NOT
XXXII. A GREAT BALL
XXXIII. FOR LADY JANE
XXXIV. RED GODWYN
XXXV. THE TIDAL WAVE
XXXVI. BY THE ROADSIDE EVERYWHERE
XXXVII. CLOSED CORRIDORS
XXXVIII. AT SHANDY'S
XXXIX. ON THE MARSHES
XL. "DON'T GO ON WITH THIS"
XLI. SHE WOULD DO SOMETHING
XLII. IN THE BALLROOM
XLIII. HIS CHANCE
XLIV. A FOOTSTEP
XLV. THE PASSING BELL
XLVII. "I HAVE NO WORD OR LOOK TO REMEMBER"
XLVIII. THE MOMENT
XLIX. AT STORNHAM AND AT BROADMORLANDS
L. THE PRIMEVAL THING
THE WEAVING OF THE SHUTTLE
No man knew when the Shuttle began its slow and
heavy weaving from shore to shore, that it was held
and guided by the great hand of Fate. Fate alone
saw the meaning of the web it wove, the might of it, and
its place in the making of a world's history. Men thought
but little of either web or weaving, calling them by other
names and lighter ones, for the time unconscious of the strength
of the thread thrown across thousands of miles of leaping,
heaving, grey or blue ocean.
Fate and Life planned the weaving, and it seemed mere
circumstance which guided the Shuttle to and fro between
two worlds divided by a gulf broader and deeper than the
thousands of miles of salt, fierce sea--the gulf of a bitter
quarrel deepened by hatred and the shedding of brothers'
blood. Between the two worlds of East and West there was
no will to draw nearer. Each held apart. Those who had
rebelled against that which their souls called tyranny, having
struggled madly and shed blood in tearing themselves free,
turned stern backs upon their unconquered enemies, broke all
cords that bound them to the past, flinging off ties of name,
kinship and rank, beginning with fierce disdain a new life.
Those who, being rebelled against, found the rebels too
passionate in their determination and too desperate in their
defence of their strongholds to be less than unconquerable,
sailed back haughtily to the world which seemed so far the
greater power. Plunging into new battles, they added new
conquests and splendour to their land, looking back with
something of contempt to the half-savage West left to build its
own civilisation without other aid than the strength of its own
strong right hand and strong uncultured brain.
But while the two worlds held apart, the Shuttle, weaving
slowly in the great hand of Fate, drew them closer and held
them firm, each of them all unknowing for many a year, that
what had at first been mere threads of gossamer, was forming
a web whose strength in time none could compute, whose
severance could be accomplished but by tragedy and convulsion.
The weaving was but in its early and slow-moving years
when this story opens. Steamers crossed and recrossed the
Atlantic, but they accomplished the journey at leisure and with
heavy rollings and all such discomforts as small craft can
afford. Their staterooms and decks were not crowded with
people to whom the voyage was a mere incident--in many
cases a yearly one. "A crossing" in those days was an event.
It was planned seriously, long thought of, discussed and re-
discussed, with and among the various members of the family
to which the voyager belonged. A certain boldness,
bordering on recklessness, was almost to be presupposed in the
individual who, turning his back upon New York, Philadelphia,
Boston, and like cities, turned his face towards "Europe."
In those days when the Shuttle wove at leisure, a man
did not lightly run over to London, or Paris, or Berlin, he
gravely went to "Europe."
The journey being likely to be made once in a lifetime, the
traveller's intention was to see as much as possible, to visit
as many cities cathedrals, ruins, galleries, as his time and
purse would allow. People who could speak with any degree
of familiarity of Hyde Park, the Champs Elysees, the Pincio,
had gained a certain dignity. The ability to touch with an
intimate bearing upon such localities was a raison de plus for
being asked out to tea or to dinner. To possess photographs
and relics was to be of interest, to have seen European
celebrities even at a distance, to have wandered about the
outside of poets' gardens and philosophers' houses, was to be
entitled to respect. The period was a far cry from the time when
the Shuttle, having shot to and fro, faster and faster, week by
week, month by month, weaving new threads into its web
each year, has woven warp and woof until they bind far
shore to shore.
It was in comparatively early days that the first thread we
follow was woven into the web. Many such have been woven
since and have added greater strength than any others, twining
the cord of sex and home-building and race-founding.
But this was a slight and weak one, being only the thread of
the life of one of Reuben Vanderpoel's daughters--the pretty
little simple one whose name was Rosalie.
They were--the Vanderpoels--of the Americans whose
fortunes were a portion of the history of their country. The
building of these fortunes had been a part of, or had created
epochs and crises. Their millions could scarcely be regarded
as private property. Newspapers bandied them about, so to
speak, employing them as factors in argument, using them
as figures of speech, incorporating them into methods of
calculation. Literature touched upon them, moral systems
considered them, stories for the young treated them gravely as
The first Reuben Vanderpoel, who in early days of danger
had traded with savages for the pelts of wild animals, was
the lauded hero of stories of thrift and enterprise. Throughout
his hard-working life he had been irresistibly impelled to
action by an absolute genius of commerce, expressing itself
at the outset by the exhibition of courage in mere exchange
and barter. An alert power to perceive the potential value
of things and the possible malleability of men and circumstances,
had stood him in marvellous good stead. He had bought
at low prices things which in the eyes of the less discerning
were worthless, but, having obtained possession of such things,
the less discerning had almost invariably awakened to the
fact that, in his hands, values increased, and methods of
remunerative disposition, being sought, were found. Nothing
remained unutilisable. The practical, sordid, uneducated
little man developed the power to create demand for his own
supplies. If he was betrayed into an error, he quickly retrieved
it. He could live upon nothing and consequently could travel
anywhere in search of such things as he desired. He could
barely read and write, and could not spell, but he was daring
and astute. His untaught brain was that of a financier, his
blood burned with the fever of but one desire--the desire to
accumulate. Money expressed to his nature, not expenditure,
but investment in such small or large properties as could be
resold at profit in the near or far future. The future held
fascinations for him. He bought nothing for his own pleasure
or comfort, nothing which could not be sold or bartered
again. He married a woman who was a trader's daughter
and shared his passion for gain. She was of North of England
blood, her father having been a hard-fisted small tradesman
in an unimportant town, who had been daring enough to
emigrate when emigration meant the facing of unknown dangers
in a half-savage land. She had excited Reuben Vanderpoel's
admiration by taking off her petticoat one bitter winter's
day to sell it to a squaw in exchange for an ornament
for which she chanced to know another squaw would pay with
a skin of value. The first Mrs. Vanderpoel was as wonderful
as her husband. They were both wonderful. They were the
founders of the fortune which a century and a half later was
the delight--in fact the piece de resistance--of New York
society reporters, its enormity being restated in round figures
when a blank space must be filled up. The method of statement
lent itself to infinite variety and was always interesting
to a particular class, some elements of which felt it encouraging
to be assured that so much money could be a personal
possession, some elements feeling the fact an additional
argument to be used against the infamy of monopoly.
The first Reuben Vanderpoel transmitted to his son his
accumulations and his fever for gain. He had but one child.
The second Reuben built upon the foundations this afforded
him, a fortune as much larger than the first as the rapid growth
and increasing capabilities of the country gave him enlarging
opportunities to acquire. It was no longer necessary to deal
with savages: his powers were called upon to cope with those
of white men who came to a new country to struggle for
livelihood and fortune. Some were shrewd, some were
desperate, some were dishonest. But shrewdness never outwitted,
desperation never overcame, dishonesty never deceived the second
Reuben Vanderpoel. Each characteristic ended by adapting
itself to his own purposes and qualities, and as a result of
each it was he who in any business transaction was the gainer.
It was the common saying that the Vanderpoels were possessed
of a money-making spell. Their spell lay in their entire mental
and physical absorption in one idea. Their peculiarity was not
so much that they wished to be rich as that Nature itself
impelled them to collect wealth as the load-stone draws towards
it iron. Having possessed nothing, they became rich, having
become rich they became richer, having founded their fortunes
on small schemes, they increased them by enormous ones. In
time they attained that omnipotence of wealth which it would
seem no circumstance can control or limit. The first Reuben
Vanderpoel could not spell, the second could, the third was
as well educated as a man could be whose sole profession is
money-making. His children were taught all that expensive
teachers and expensive opportunities could teach them. After
the second generation the meagre and mercantile physical type
of the Vanderpoels improved upon itself. Feminine good looks
appeared and were made the most of. The Vanderpoel element
invested even good looks to an advantage. The fourth
Reuben Vanderpoel had no son and two daughters. They
were brought up in a brown-stone mansion built upon a fashionable
New York thoroughfare roaring with traffic. To the
farthest point of the Rocky Mountains the number of dollars
this "mansion" (it was always called so) had cost, was
known. There may have existed Pueblo Indians who had
heard rumours of the price of it. All the shop-keepers and
farmers in the United States had read newspaper descriptions
of its furnishings and knew the value of the brocade which
hung in the bedrooms and boudoirs of the Misses Vanderpoel.
It was a fact much cherished that Miss Rosalie's bath
was of Carrara marble, and to good souls actively engaged in
doing their own washing in small New England or Western
towns, it was a distinct luxury to be aware that the water in
the Carrara marble bath was perfumed with Florentine Iris.
Circumstances such as these seemed to become personal
possessions and even to lighten somewhat the burden of toil.
Rosalie Vanderpoel married an Englishman of title, and part
of the story of her married life forms my prologue. Hers was of
the early international marriages, and the republican mind had
not yet adjusted itself to all that such alliances might imply.
It was yet ingenuous, imaginative and confiding in such
matters. A baronetcy and a manor house reigning over an old
English village and over villagers in possible smock frocks,
presented elements of picturesque dignity to people whose
intimacy with such allurements had been limited by the novels
of Mrs. Oliphant and other writers. The most ordinary little
anecdotes in which vicarages, gamekeepers, and dowagers
figured, were exciting in these early days. "Sir Nigel
Anstruthers," when engraved upon a visiting card, wore an air of
distinction almost startling. Sir Nigel himself was not as
picturesque as his name, though he was not entirely without
attraction, when for reasons of his own he chose to aim at
agreeableness of bearing. He was a man with a good figure
and a good voice, and but for a heaviness of feature the result
of objectionable living, might have given the impression of
being better looking than he really was. New York laid
amused and at the same time, charmed stress upon the fact
that he spoke with an "English accent." His enunciation
was in fact clear cut and treated its vowels well. He was a
man who observed with an air of accustomed punctiliousness
such social rules and courtesies as he deemed it expedient to
consider. An astute worldling had remarked that he was at
once more ceremonious and more casual in his manner than
men bred in America.
"If you invite him to dinner," the wording said, "or if
you die, or marry, or meet with an accident, his notes of
condolence or congratulation are prompt and civil, but the actual
truth is that he cares nothing whatever about you or your
relations, and if you don't please him he does not hesitate to
sulk or be astonishingly rude, which last an American does
not allow himself to be, as a rule."
By many people Sir Nigel was not analysed, but accepted.
He was of the early English who came to New York, and was
a novelty of interest, with his background of Manor House
and village and old family name. He was very much talked
of at vivacious ladies' luncheon parties, he was very much
talked to at equally vivacious afternoon teas. At dinner
parties he was furtively watched a good deal, but after dinner
when he sat with the men over their wine, he was not popular.
He was not perhaps exactly disliked, but men whose chief
interest at that period lay in stocks and railroads, did not find
conversation easy with a man whose sole occupation had been
the shooting of birds and the hunting of foxes, when he was
not absolutely loitering about London, with his time on his
hands. The stories he told--and they were few--were chiefly
anecdotes whose points gained their humour by the fact that
a man was a comically bad shot or bad rider and either
peppered a gamekeeper or was thrown into a ditch when his
horse went over a hedge, and such relations did not increase
in the poignancy of their interest by being filtered through
brains accustomed to applying their powers to problems of
speculation and commerce. He was not so dull but that he
perceived this at an early stage of his visit to New York,
which was probably the reason of the infrequency of his stories.
He on his side was naturally not quick to rise to the humour
of a "big deal" or a big blunder made on Wall Street--or
to the wit of jokes concerning them. Upon the whole he
would have been glad to have understood such matters more
clearly. His circumstances were such as had at last forced
him to contemplate the world of money-makers with something
of an annoyed respect. "These fellows" who had
neither titles nor estates to keep up could make money. He,
as he acknowledged disgustedly to himself, was much worse
than a beggar. There was Stornham Court in a state of ruin--
the estate going to the dogs, the farmhouses tumbling to
pieces and he, so to speak, without a sixpence to bless himself
with, and head over heels in debt. Englishmen of the
rank which in bygone times had not associated itself with
trade had begun at least to trifle with it--to consider its
potentialities as factors possibly to be made useful by the
aristocracy. Countesses had not yet spiritedly opened milliners'
shops, nor belted Earls adorned the stage, but certain noblemen
had dallied with beer and coquetted with stocks. One
of the first commercial developments had been the discovery
of America--particularly of New York--as a place where
if one could make up one's mind to the plunge, one might
marry one's sons profitably. At the outset it presented a field
so promising as to lead to rashness and indiscretion on the part
of persons not given to analysis of character and in consequence
relying too serenely upon an ingenuousness which
rather speedily revealed that it had its limits. Ingenuousness
combining itself with remarkable alertness of perception on
occasion, is rather American than English, and is, therefore, to
the English mind, misleading.
At first younger sons, who "gave trouble" to their
families, were sent out. Their names, their backgrounds of
castles or manors, relatives of distinction, London seasons, fox
hunting, Buckingham Palace and Goodwood Races, formed
a picturesque allurement. That the castles and manors would
belong to their elder brothers, that the relatives of distinction
did not encourage intimacy with swarms of the younger
branches of their families; that London seasons, hunting, and
racing were for their elders and betters, were facts not realised
in all their importance by the republican mind. In the course
of time they were realised to the full, but in Rosalie
Vanderpoel's nineteenth year they covered what was at that time
almost unknown territory. One may rest assured Sir Nigel
Anstruthers said nothing whatsoever in New York of an interview
he had had before sailing with an intensely disagreeable
great-aunt, who was the wife of a Bishop. She was a horrible
old woman with a broad face, blunt features and a
raucous voice, whose tones added acridity to her observations
when she was indulging in her favourite pastime of interfering
with the business of her acquaintances and relations.
"I do not know what you are going chasing off to America
for, Nigel," she commented. "You can't afford it and it is
perfectly ridiculous of you to take it upon yourself to travel
for pleasure as if you were a man of means instead of being
in such a state of pocket that Maria tells me you cannot pay
your tailor. Neither the Bishop nor I can do anything for
you and I hope you don't expect it. All I can hope is that
you know yourself what you are going to America in search
of, and that it is something more practical than buffaloes.
You had better stop in New York. Those big shopkeepers'
daughters are enormously rich, they say, and they are immensely
pleased by attentions from men of your class. They say they'll
marry anything if it has an aunt or a grandmother with a
title. You can mention the Marchioness, you know. You
need not refer to the fact that she thought your father a
blackguard and your mother an interloper, and that you have
never been invited to Broadmere since you were born. You
can refer casually to me and to the Bishop and to the Palace,
too. A Palace--even a Bishop's--ought to go a long way with
Americans. They will think it is something royal." She
ended her remarks with one of her most insulting snorts of
laughter, and Sir Nigel became dark red and looked as if he
would like to knock her down.
It was not, however, her sentiments which were particularly
revolting to him. If she had expressed them in a manner
more flattering to himself he would have felt that there was
a good deal to be said for them. In fact, he had put the
same thing to himself some time previously, and, in summing
up the American matter, had reached certain thrifty decisions.
The impulse to knock her down surged within him solely because
he had a brutally bad temper when his vanity was insulted,
and he was furious at her impudence in speaking to
him as if he were a villager out of work whom she was at
liberty to bully and lecture.
"For a woman who is supposed to have been born of
gentle people," he said to his mother afterwards, "Aunt Marian
is the most vulgar old beast I have ever beheld. She has
the taste of a female costermonger." Which was entirely
true, but it might be added that his own was no better and
his points of view and morals wholly coincided with his taste.
Naturally Rosalie Vanderpoel knew nothing of this side of
the matter. She had been a petted, butterfly child, who had
been pretty and admired and indulged from her infancy; she
had grown up into a petted, butterfly girl, pretty and admired
and surrounded by inordinate luxury. Her world had been
made up of good-natured, lavish friends and relations, who
enjoyed themselves and felt a delight in her girlish toilettes
and triumphs. She had spent her one season of belledom in being
whirled from festivity to festivity, in dancing in rooms
festooned with thousands of dollars' worth of flowers, in
lunching or dining at tables loaded with roses and violets and
orchids, from which ballrooms or feasts she had borne away
wonderful "favours" and gifts, whose prices, being recorded
in the newspapers, caused a thrill of delight or envy to pass
over the land. She was a slim little creature, with quantities
of light feathery hair like a French doll's. She had small
hands and small feet and a small waist--a small brain also,
it must be admitted, but she was an innocent, sweet-tempered
girl with a childlike simpleness of mind. In fine, she was
exactly the girl to find Sir Nigel's domineering temperament
at once imposing and attractive, so long as it was cloaked by
the ceremonies of external good breeding.
Her sister Bettina, who was still a child, was of a stronger
and less susceptible nature. Betty--at eight--had long legs
and a square but delicate small face. Her well-opened steel-
blue eyes were noticeable for rather extravagant ink-black
lashes and a straight young stare which seemed to accuse if
not to condemn. She was being educated at a ruinously expensive
school with a number of other inordinately rich little
girls, who were all too wonderfully dressed and too lavishly
supplied with pocket money. The school considered itself
especially refined and select, but was in fact interestingly
The inordinately rich little girls, who had most of them
pretty and spiritual or pretty and piquant faces, ate a great
many bon bons and chattered a great deal in high unmodulated
voices about the parties their sisters and other relatives
went to and the dresses they wore. Some of them were
nice little souls, who in the future would emerge from their
chrysalis state enchanting women, but they used colloquialisms
freely, and had an ingenuous habit of referring to the prices of
things. Bettina Vanderpoel, who was the richest and cleverest
and most promisingly handsome among them, was colloquial to
slanginess, but she had a deep, mellow, child voice and an
She could not endure Sir Nigel Anstruthers, and, being
an American child, did not hesitate to express herself with
force, if with some crudeness. "He's a hateful thing," she said,
"I loathe him. He's stuck up and he thinks you are afraid
of him and he likes it."
Sir Nigel had known only English children, little girls
who lived in that discreet corner of their parents' town or
country houses known as "the schoolroom," apparently emerging
only for daily walks with governesses; girls with long
hair and boys in little high hats and with faces which seemed
curiously made to match them. Both boys and girls were
decently kept out of the way and not in the least dwelt on
except when brought out for inspection during the holidays
and taken to the pantomime.
Sir Nigel had not realised that an American child was an
absolute factor to be counted with, and a "youngster" who
entered the drawing-room when she chose and joined fearlessly
in adult conversation was an element he considered annoying.
It was quite true that Bettina talked too much and too readily
at times, but it had not been explained to her that the opinions
of eight years are not always of absorbing interest to the
mature. It was also true that Sir Nigel was a great fool for
interfering with what was clearly no affair of his in such a
manner as would have made him an enemy even had not the child's
instinct arrayed her against him at the outset.
"You American youngsters are too cheeky," he said on one
of the occasions when Betty had talked too much. "If you
were my sister and lived at Stornham Court, you would be
learning lessons in the schoolroom and wearing a pinafore.
Nobody ever saw my sister Emily when she was your age."
"Well, I'm not your sister Emily," retorted Betty, "and
I guess I'm glad of it."
It was rather impudent of her, but it must be confessed that
she was not infrequently rather impudent in a rude little-girl
way, but she was serenely unconscious of the fact.
Sir Nigel flushed darkly and laughed a short, unpleasant
laugh. If she had been his sister Emily she would have fared
ill at the moment, for his villainous temper would have got
the better of him.
"I `guess' that I may be congratulated too," he sneered.
"If I was going to be anybody's sister Emily," said Betty,
excited a little by the sense of the fray, "I shouldn't want to
"Now Betty, don't be hateful," interposed Rosalie,
laughing, and her laugh was nervous. "There's Mina Thalberg
coming up the front steps. Go and meet her."
Rosalie, poor girl, always found herself nervous when Sir
Nigel and Betty were in the room together. She instinctively
recognised their antagonism and was afraid Betty would do
something an English baronet would think vulgar. Her simple
brain could not have explained to her why it was that she
knew Sir Nigel often thought New Yorkers vulgar. She was,
however, quite aware of this but imperfectly concealed fact,
and felt a timid desire to be explanatory.
When Bettina marched out of the room with her extraordinary
carriage finely manifest, Rosy's little laugh was propitiatory.
"You mustn't mind her," she said. "She's a real splendid
little thing, but she's got a quick temper. It's all over in a
"They wouldn't stand that sort of thing in England,"
said Sir Nigel. "She's deucedly spoiled, you know."
He detested the child. He disliked all children, but this one
awakened in him more than mere dislike. The fact was that
though Betty herself was wholly unconscious of the subtle
truth, the as yet undeveloped intellect which later made her
a brilliant and captivating personality, vaguely saw him as he
was, an unscrupulous, sordid brute, as remorseless an adventurer
and swindler in his special line, as if he had been
engaged in drawing false cheques and arranging huge jewel
robberies, instead of planning to entrap into a disadvantageous
marriage a girl whose gentleness and fortune could be used
by a blackguard of reputable name. The man was cold-
blooded enough to see that her gentle weakness was of value
because it could be bullied, her money was to be counted on
because it could be spent on himself and his degenerate vices
and on his racked and ruined name and estate, which must
be rebuilt and restocked at an early date by someone or other,
lest they tumbled into ignominious collapse which could not
be concealed. Bettina of the accusing eyes did not know that
in the depth of her yet crude young being, instinct was summing
up for her the potentialities of an unusually fine specimen
of the British blackguard, but this was nevertheless the
interesting truth. When later she was told that her sister had
become engaged to Sir Nigel Anstruthers, a flame of colour
flashed over her face, she stared silently a moment, then bit
her lip and burst into tears.
"Well, Bett," exclaimed Rosalie, "you are the queerest
thing I ever saw."
Bettina's tears were an outburst, not a flow. She swept
them away passionately with her small handkerchief.
"He'll do something awful to you," she said. "He'll
nearly kill you. I know he will. I'd rather be dead myself."
She dashed out of the room, and could never be induced to
say a word further about the matter. She would indeed have
found it impossible to express her intense antipathy and sense
of impending calamity. She had not the phrases to make herself
clear even to herself, and after all what controlling effort
can one produce when one is only eight years old?
A LACK OF PERCEPTION
Mercantile as Americans were proclaimed to be, the opinion
of Sir Nigel Anstruthers was that they were, on some points,
singularly unbusinesslike. In the perfectly obvious and simple
matter of the settlement of his daughter's fortune, he had
felt that Reuben Vanderpoel was obtuse to the point of idiocy.
He seemed to have none of the ordinary points of view.
Naturally there was to Anstruthers' mind but one point of
view to take. A man of birth and rank, he argued, does not
career across the Atlantic to marry a New York millionaire's
daughter unless he anticipates deriving some advantage from
the alliance. Such a man--being of Anstruthers' type--would
not have married a rich woman even in his own country with
out making sure that advantages were to accrue to himself
as a result of the union. "In England," to use his own words,
"there was no nonsense about it." Women's fortunes as well
as themselves belonged to their husbands, and a man who was
master in his own house could make his wife do as he chose.
He had seen girls with money managed very satisfactorily by
fellows who held a tight rein, and were not moved by tears,
and did not allow talking to relations. If he had been
desirous of marrying and could have afforded to take a penniless
wife, there were hundreds of portionless girls ready to
thank God for a decent chance to settle themselves for life,
and one need not stir out of one's native land to find them.
But Sir Nigel had not in the least desired to saddle himself
with a domestic encumbrance, in fact nothing would have
induced him to consider the step if he had not been driven
hard by circumstances. His fortunes had reached a stage
where money must be forthcoming somehow--from somewhere.
He and his mother had been living from hand to
mouth, so to speak, for years, and they had also been obliged
to keep up appearances, which is sometimes embittering even
to persons of amiable tempers. Lady Anstruthers, it is true, had
lived in the country in as niggardly a manner as possible. She
had narrowed her existence to absolute privation, presenting at
the same time a stern, bold front to the persons who saw her, to
the insufficient staff of servants, to the village to the vicar
and his wife, and the few far-distant neighbours who perhaps once
a year drove miles to call or leave a card. She was an old woman
sufficiently unattractive to find no difficulty in the way of
limiting her acquaintances. The unprepossessing wardrobe she had
gathered in the passing years was remade again and again by the
village dressmaker. She wore dingy old silk gowns and appalling
bonnets, and mantles dripping with rusty fringes and bugle beads,
but these mitigated not in the least the unflinching arrogance of
her bearing, or the simple, intolerant rudeness which she
considered proper and becoming in persons like herself. She did
not of course allow that there existed many persons like herself.
That society rejoiced in this fact was but the stamp of its
inferiority and folly. While she pinched herself and harried
her few hirelings at Stornham it was necessary for Sir Nigel
to show himself in town and present as decent an appearance
as possible. His vanity was far too arrogant to allow of his
permitting himself to drop out of the world to which he could
not afford to belong. That he should have been forgotten
or ignored would have been intolerable to him. For a few
years he was invited to dine at good houses, and got shooting
and hunting as part of the hospitality of his acquaintances.
But a man who cannot afford to return hospitalities will find
that he need not expect to avail himself of those of his
acquaintances to the end of his career unless he is an extremely
engaging person. Sir Nigel Anstruthers was not an engaging
person. He never gave a thought to the comfort or interest
of any other human being than himself. He was also dominated
by the kind of nasty temper which so reveals itself when
let loose that its owner cannot control it even when it would
be distinctly to his advantage to do so.
Finding that he had nothing to give in return for what he
took as if it were his right, society gradually began to cease
to retain any lively recollection of his existence. The trades-
people he had borne himself loftily towards awakened to the
fact that he was the kind of man it was at once safe and wise
to dun, and therefore proceeded to make his life a burden to
him. At his clubs he had never been a member surrounded
and rejoiced over when he made his appearance. The time
came when he began to fancy that he was rather edged away
from, and he endeavoured to sustain his dignity by being sulky
and making caustic speeches when he was approached. Driven
occasionally down to Stornham by actual pressure of
circumstances, he found the outlook there more embittering still.
Lady Anstruthers laid the bareness of the land before him without
any effort to palliate unpleasantness. If he chose to stalk
about and look glum, she could sit still and call his attention
to revolting truths which he could not deny. She could point
out to him that he had no money, and that tenants would not
stay in houses which were tumbling to pieces, and work land
which had been starved. She could tell him just how long a
time had elapsed since wages had been paid and accounts
cleared off. And she had an engaging, unbiassed way of seeming
to drive these maddening details home by the mere manner
of her statement.
"You make the whole thing as damned disagreeable as you
can," Nigel would snarl.
"I merely state facts," she would reply with acrid serenity.
A man who cannot keep up his estate, pay his tailor or the
rent of his lodgings in town, is in a strait which may drive
him to desperation. Sir Nigel Anstruthers borrowed some
money, went to New York and made his suit to nice little
silly Rosalie Vanderpoel.
But the whole thing was unexpectedly disappointing and
surrounded by irritating circumstances. He found himself face
to face with a state of affairs such as he had not contemplated.
In England when a man married, certain practical matters
could be inquired into and arranged by solicitors, the
amount of the prospective bride's fortune, the allowances
and settlements to be made, the position of the bridegroom
with regard to pecuniary matters. To put it simply, a man
found out where he stood and what he was to gain. But,
at first to his sardonic entertainment and later to his
disgusted annoyance, Sir Nigel gradually discovered that in the
matter of marriage, Americans had an ingenuous tendency
to believe in the sentimental feelings of the parties concerned.
The general impression seemed to be that a man married
purely for love, and that delicacy would make it impossible
for him to ask questions as to what his bride's parents were
in a position to hand over to him as a sort of indemnity for
the loss of his bachelor freedom. Anstruthers began to discover
this fact before he had been many weeks in New York.
He reached the realisation of its existence by processes of
exclusion and inclusion, by hearing casual remarks people let
drop, by asking roundabout and careful questions, by leading
both men and women to the innocent expounding of certain
points of view. Millionaires, it appeared, did not expect to
make allowances to men who married their daughters; young
women, it transpired, did not in the least realise that a man
should be liberally endowed in payment for assuming the
duties of a husband. If rich fathers made allowances, they
made them to their daughters themselves, who disposed of them
as they pleased. In this case, of course, Sir Nigel privately
argued with fine acumen, it became the husband's business to
see that what his wife pleased should be what most agreeably
coincided with his own views and conveniences.
His most illuminating experience had been the hearing of
some men, hard-headed, rich stockbrokers with a vulgar
sense of humour, enjoying themselves quite uproariously one
night at a club, over a story one of them was relating of an
unsatisfactory German son-in-law who had demanded an
income. He was a man of small title, who had married the
narrator's daughter, and after some months spent in his father-
in-law's house, had felt it but proper that his financial
position should be put on a practical footing.
"He brought her back after the bridal tour to make us a
visit," said the storyteller, a sharp-featured man with a quaint
wry mouth, which seemed to express a perpetual, repressed
appreciation of passing events. "I had nothing to say against
that, because we were all glad to see her home and her mother
had been missing her. But weeks passed and months passed
and there was no mention made of them going over to settle
in the Slosh we'd heard so much of, and in time it came out
that the Slosh thing"--Anstruthers realised with gall in his
soul that the "brute," as he called him, meant "Schloss," and
that his mispronunciation was at once a matter of humour and
derision--"wasn't his at all. It was his elder brother's. The
whole lot of them were counts and not one of them seemed
to own a dime. The Slosh count hadn't more than twenty-five
cents and he wasn't the kind to deal any of it out to his
family. So Lily's count would have to go clerking in a dry
goods store, if he promised to support himself. But he didn't
propose to do it. He thought he'd got on to a soft thing.
Of course we're an easy-going lot and we should have stood
him if he'd been a nice fellow. But he wasn't. Lily's mother
used to find her crying in her bedroom and it came out by
degrees that it was because Adolf had been quarrelling with
her and saying sneering things about her family. When her
mother talked to him he was insulting. Then bills began to
come in and Lily was expected to get me to pay them. And
they were not the kind of bills a decent fellow calls on another
man to pay. But I did it five or six times to make it easy
for her. I didn't tell her that they gave an older chap than
himself sidelights on the situation. But that didn't work well.
He thought I did it because I had to, and he began to feel
free and easy about it, and didn't try to cover up his tracks
so much when he sent in a new lot. He was always working
Lily. He began to consider himself master of the house.
He intimated that a private carriage ought to be kept for
them. He said it was beggarly that he should have to consider
the rest of the family when he wanted to go out. When I got
on to the situation, I began to enjoy it. I let him spread
himself for a while just to see what he would do. Good Lord!
I couldn't have believed that any fellow could have thought
any other fellow could be such a fool as he thought I was.
He went perfectly crazy after a month or so and ordered me
about and patronised me as if I was a bootblack he meant to
teach something to. So at last I had a talk with Lily and
told her I was going to put an end to it. Of course she cried
and was half frightened to death, but by that time he had ill-
used her so that she only wanted to get rid of him. So I sent
for him and had a talk with him in my office. I led him on
to saying all he had on his mind. He explained to me what
a condescension it was for a man like himself to marry a girl
like Lily. He made a dignified, touching picture of all the
disadvantages of such an alliance and all the advantages they
ought to bring in exchange to the man who bore up under
them. I rubbed my head and looked worried every now and
then and cleared my throat apologetically just to warm him
up. I can tell you that fellow felt happy, downright happy
when he saw how humbly I listened to him. He positively
swelled up with hope and comfort. He thought I was going
to turn out well, real well. I was going to pay up just as
a vulgar New York father-in-law ought to do, and thank God
for the blessed privilege. Why, he was real eloquent about
his blood and his ancestors and the hoary-headed Slosh. So
when he'd finished, I cleared my throat in a nervous,
ingratiating kind of way again and I asked him kind of anxiously
what he thought would be the proper thing for a base-born New
York millionaire to do under the circumstances--what he would
approve of himself."
Sir Nigel was disgusted to see the narrator twist his mouth
into a sweet, shrewd, repressed grin even as he expectorated
into the nearest receptacle. The grin was greeted by a shout
of laughter from his companions.
"What did he say, Stebbins?" someone cried.
"He said," explained Mr. Stebbins deliberately, "he said
that an allowance was the proper thing. He said that a man
of his rank must have resources, and that it wasn't dignified
for him to have to ask his wife or his wife's father for money
when he wanted it. He said an allowance was what he felt
he had a right to expect. And then he twisted his moustache
and said, `what proposition' did I make--what would I
The storyteller's hearers evidently knew him well. Their
laughter was louder than before.
"Let's hear the rest, Joe! Let's hear it! "
"Well," replied Mr. Stebbins almost thoughtfully, "I
just got up and said, `Well, it won't take long for me to
answer that. I've always been fond of my children, and Lily
is rather my pet. She's always had everything she wanted,
and she always shall. She's a good girl and she deserves it.
I'll allow you----" The significant deliberation of his drawl
could scarcely be described. "I'll allow you just five minutes
to get out of this room, before I kick you out, and if I kick
you out of the room, I'll kick you down the stairs, and if I kick
you down the stairs, I shall have got my blood comfortably
warmed up and I'll kick you down the street and round the
block and down to Hoboken, because you're going to take the
steamer there and go back to the place you came from, to
the Slosh thing or whatever you call it. We haven't a damned
bit of use for you here.' And believe it or not, gentlemen----"
looking round with the wry-mouthed smile, "he took that
passage and back he went. And Lily's living with her mother
and I mean to hold on to her."
Sir Nigel got up and left the club when the story was
finished. He took a long walk down Broadway, gnawing his
lip and holding his head in the air. He used blasphemous
language at intervals in a low voice. Some of it was addressed
to his fate and some of it to the vulgar mercantile coarseness
and obtuseness of other people.
"They don't know what they are talking of," he said.
"It is unheard of. What do they expect? I never thought
of this. Damn it! I'm like a rat in a trap."
It was plain enough that he could not arrange his fortune
as he had anticipated when he decided to begin to make love
to little pink and white, doll-faced Rosy Vanderpoel. If he
began to demand monetary advantages in his dealing with
his future wife's people in their settlement of her fortune, he
might arouse suspicion and inquiry. He did not want inquiry
either in connection with his own means or his past manner
of living. People who hated him would be sure to crop up
with stories of things better left alone. There were always
meddling fools ready to interfere.
His walk was long and full of savage thinking. Once or
twice as he realised what the disinterestedness of his sentiments
was supposed to be, a short laugh broke from him which was
rather like the snort of the Bishopess.
"I am supposed to be moonstruck over a simpering American
chit--moonstruck! Damn!" But when he returned to his
hotel he had made up his mind and was beginning to look
over the situation in evil cold blood. Matters must be settled
without delay and he was shrewd enough to realise that with
his temper and its varied resources a timid girl would not be
difficult to manage. He had seen at an early stage of their
acquaintance that Rosy was greatly impressed by the superiority
of his bearing, that he could make her blush with embarrassment
when he conveyed to her that she had made a mistake,
that he could chill her miserably when he chose to assume a
lofty stiffness. A man's domestic armoury was filled with
weapons if he could make a woman feel gauche, inexperienced,
in the wrong. When he was safely married, he could pave the
way to what he felt was the only practical and feasible end.
If he had been marrying a woman with more brains, she would
be more difficult to subdue, but with Rosalie Vanderpoel,
processes were not necessary. If you shocked, bewildered or
frightened her with accusations, sulks, or sneers, her light,
innocent head was set in such a whirl that the rest was easy. It
was possible, upon the whole, that the thing might not turn out
so infernally ill after all. Supposing that it had been Bettina
who had been the marriageable one! Appreciating to the full
the many reasons for rejoicing that she had not been, he walked
in gloomy reflection home.
YOUNG LADY ANSTRUTHERS
When the marriage took place the event was accompanied by
an ingenuously elate flourish of trumpets. Miss Vanderpoel's
frocks were multitudinous and wonderful, as also her jewels
purchased at Tiffany's. She carried a thousand trunks--more
or less--across the Atlantic. When the ship steamed away
from the dock, the wharf was like a flower garden in the blaze
of brilliant and delicate attire worn by the bevy of relatives
and intimates who stood waving their handkerchiefs and laughingly
calling out farewell good wishes.
Sir Nigel's mental attitude was not a sympathetic or
admiring one as he stood by his bride's side looking back. If
Rosy's half happy, half tearful excitement had left her the
leisure to reflect on his expression, she would not have felt it
"What a deuce of a row Americans make," he said even
before they were out of hearing of the voices. "It will be
a positive rest to be in a country where the women do not
cackle and shriek with laughter."
He said it with that simple rudeness which at times
professed to be almost impersonal, and which Rosalie had usually
tried to believe was the outcome of a kind of cool British
humour. But this time she started a little at his words.
"I suppose we do make more noise than English people,"
she admitted a second or so later. "I wonder why?" And
without waiting for an answer--somewhat as if she had not
expected or quite wanted one--she leaned a little farther over
the side to look back, waving her small, fluttering
handkerchief to the many still in tumult on the wharf. She was
not perceptive or quick enough to take offence, to realise that
the remark was significant and that Sir Nigel had already begun
as he meant to go on. It was far from being his intention
to play the part of an American husband, who was plainly
a creature in whom no authority vested itself. Americans let
their women say and do anything, and were capable of fetching
and carrying for them. He had seen a man run upstairs
for his wife's wrap, cheerfully, without the least apparent
sense that the service was the part of a footman if there was
one in the house, a parlour maid if there was not. Sir Nigel
had been brought up in the good Early Victorian days when
"a nice little woman to fetch your slippers for you" figured
in certain circles as domestic bliss. Girls were educated to
fetch slippers as retrievers were trained to go into the water
after sticks, and terriers to bring back balls thrown for them.
The new Lady Anstruthers had, it supervened, several
opportunities to obtain a new view of her bridegroom's character
before their voyage across the Atlantic was over. At this
period of the slower and more cumbrous weaving of the
Shuttle, the world had not yet awakened even to the possibilities
of the ocean greyhound. An Atlantic voyage at times was
capable of offering to a bride and bridegroom days enough to
begin to glance into their future with a premonition of the
waning of the honeymoon, at least, and especially if they were
not sea-proof, to wish wearily that the first half of it were
over. Rosalie was not weary, but she began to be bewildered. As
she had never been a clever girl or quick to perceive, and had
spent her life among women-indulging American men, she
was not prepared with any precedent which made her situation
clear. The first time Sir Nigel showed his temper to
her she simply stared at him, her eyes looking like those of a
puzzled, questioning child. Then she broke into her nervous
little laugh, because she did not know what else to do. At
his second outbreak her stare was rather startled and she did
Her first awakening was to an anxious wonderment
concerning certain moods of gloom, or what seemed to be gloom,
to which he seemed prone. As she lay in her steamer chair
he would at times march stiffly up and down the deck,
apparently aware of no other existence than his own, his
features expressing a certain clouded resentment of whose very
unexplainableness she secretly stood in awe. She was not
astute enough, poor girl, to leave him alone, and when with
innocent questionings she endeavoured to discover his trouble,
the greatest mystification she encountered was that he had
the power to make her feel that she was in some way taking
a liberty, and showing her lack of tact and perspicuity.
"Is anything the matter, Nigel?" she asked at first,
wondering if she were guilty of silliness in trying to slip her
hand into his. She was sure she had been when he answered her.
"No," he said chillingly.
"I don't believe you are happy," she returned. "Somehow
you seem so--so different."
"I have reasons for being depressed," he replied, and it was
with a stiff finality which struck a note of warning to her,
signifying that it would be better taste in her to put an end to
her simple efforts.
She vaguely felt herself put in the wrong, and he preferred
that it should be so. It was the best form of preparation for
any mood he might see that it might pay him to show her in
the future. He was, in fact, confronting disdainfully his
position. He had her on his hands and he was returning to
his relations with no definite advantage to exhibit as the result
of having married her. She had been supplied with an income
but he had no control over it. It would not have been so if
he had not been in such straits that he had been afraid to
risk his chance by making a stand. To have a wife with money,
a silly, sweet temper and no will of her own, was of course
better than to be penniless, head over heels in debt and hemmed
in by difficulties on every side. He had seen women trained
to give in to anything rather than be bullied in public, to
accede in the end to any demand rather than endure the shame
of a certain kind of scene made before servants, and a certain
kind of insolence used to relatives and guests. The quality
he found most maddeningly irritating in Rosalie was her
obviously absolute unconsciousness of the fact that it was
entirely natural and proper that her resources should be in her
husband's hands. He had, indeed, even in these early days,
made a tentative effort or so in the form of a suggestive
speech; he had given her openings to give him an opening to
put things on a practical basis, but she had never had the
intelligence to see what he was aiming at, and he had found
himself almost floundering ungracefully in his remarks, while
she had looked at him without a sign of comprehension in
her simple, anxious blue eyes. The creature was actually
trying to understand him and could not. That was the worst
of it, the blank wall of her unconsciousness, her childlike
belief that he was far too grand a personage to require
anything. These were the things he was thinking over when he
walked up and down the deck in unamiable solitariness.
Rosy awakened to the amazed consciousness of the fact that,
instead of being pleased with the luxury and prettiness of her
wardrobe and appointments, he seemed to dislike and disdain them.
"You American women change your clothes too much and
think too much of them," was one of his first amiable
criticisms. "You spend more than well-bred women should spend
on mere dresses and bonnets. In New York it always strikes
an Englishman that the women look endimanche at whatever
time of day you come across them."
"Oh, Nigel!" cried Rosy woefully. She could not think
of anything more to say than, "Oh, Nigel!"
"I am sorry to say it is true," he replied loftily. That
she was an American and a New Yorker was being impressed
upon poor little Lady Anstruthers in a new way--somehow
as if the mere cold statement of the fact put a fine edge of
sarcasm to any remark. She was of too innocent a loyalty to
wish that she was neither the one nor the other, but she did
wish that Nigel was not so prejudiced against the places and
people she cared for so much.
She was sitting in her stateroom enfolded in a dressing gown
covered with cascades of lace, tied with knots of embroidered
ribbon, and her maid, Hannah, who admired her greatly, was
brushing her fair long hair with a gold-backed brush, ornamented
with a monogram of jewels.
If she had been a French duchess of a piquant type, or an
English one with an aquiline nose, she would have been beyond
criticism; if she had been a plump, over-fed woman, or
an ugly, ill-natured, gross one, she would have looked vulgar,
but she was a little, thin, fair New Yorker, and though she
was not beyond criticism--if one demanded high distinction--
she was pretty and nice to look at. But Nigel Anstruthers
would not allow this to her. His own tailors' bills being far
in arrears and his pocket disgustingly empty, the sight of her
ingenuous sumptuousness and the gay, accustomed simpleness
of outlook with which she accepted it as her natural right,
irritated him and roused his venom. Bills would remain
unpaid if she was permitted to spend her money on this sort of
thing without any consideration for the requirements of other
He inhaled the air and made a gesture of distaste.
"This sachet business is rather overpowering," he said. "It is
the sort of thing a woman should be particularly discreet about."
"Oh, Nigel!" cried the poor girl agitatedly. "Hannah,
do go and call the steward to open the windows. Is it really
strong?" she implored as Hannah went out. "How dreadful. It's
only orris and I didn't know Hannah had put it in the trunks."
"My dear Rosalie," with a wave of the hand taking in
both herself and her dressing case, "it is all too strong."
"The whole thing. All that lace and love knot arrangement,
the gold-backed brushes and scent bottles with diamonds
and rubies sticking in them."
"They--they were wedding presents. They came from
Tiffany's. Everyone thought them lovely."
"They look as if they belonged to the dressing table of a
French woman of the demi-monde. I feel as if I had actually
walked into the apartment of some notorious Parisian soubrette."
Rosalie Vanderpoel was a clean-minded little person, her
people were of the clean-minded type, therefore she did not
understand all that this ironic speech implied, but she gathered
enough of its significance to cause her to turn first red and
then pale and then to burst into tears. She was crying and
trying to conceal the fact when Hannah returned. She bent
her head and touched her eyes furtively while her toilette was
Sir Nigel had retired from the scene, but he had done so
feeling that he had planted a seed and bestowed a practical
lesson. He had, it is true, bestowed one, but again she had
not understood its significance and was only left bewildered
and unhappy. She began to be nervous and uncertain about
herself and about his moods and points of view. She had
never been made to feel so at home. Everyone had been
kind to her and lenient to her lack of brilliancy. No one
had expected her to be brilliant, and she had been quite sweet-
temperedly resigned to the fact that she was not the kind of
girl who shone either in society or elsewhere. She did not
resent the fact that she knew people said of her, "She isn't
in the least bit bright, Rosy Vanderpoel, but she's a nice,
sweet little thing." She had tried to be nice and sweet and
had aspired to nothing higher.
But now that seemed so much less than enough. Perhaps
Nigel ought to have married one of the clever ones, someone
who would have known how to understand him and who
would have been more entertaining than she could be. Perhaps
she was beginning to bore him, perhaps he was finding
her out and beginning to get tired. At this point the always
too ready tears would rise to her eyes and she would be
overwhelmed by a sense of homesickness. Often she cried herself
silently to sleep, longing for her mother--her nice, comfortable,
ordinary mother, whom she had several times felt Nigel had
some difficulty in being unreservedly polite to--though he had
been polite on the surface.
By the time they landed she had been living under so much
strain in her effort to seem quite unchanged, that she had lost
her nerve. She did not feel well and was sometimes afraid
that she might do something silly and hysterical in spite of
herself, begin to cry for instance when there was really no
explanation for her doing it. But when she reached London
the novelty of everything so excited her that she thought she
was going to be better, and then she said to herself it would
be proved to her that all her fears had been nonsense. This
return of hope made her quite light-spirited, and she was almost
gay in her little outbursts of delight and admiration as she
drove about the streets with her husband. She did not know
that her ingenuous ignorance of things he had known all his
life, her rapture over common monuments of history, led him
to say to himself that he felt rather as if he were taking a
housemaid to see a Lord Mayor's Show.
Before going to Stornham Court they spent a few days in
town. There had been no intention of proclaiming their
presence to the world, and they did not do so, but unluckily
certain tradesmen discovered the fact that Sir Nigel
Anstruthers had returned to England with the bride he had
secured in New York. The conclusion to be deduced from
this circumstance was that the particular moment was a good
one at which to send in bills for "acct. rendered." The
tradesmen quite shared Anstruthers' point of view. Their
reasoning was delightfully simple and they were wholly unaware
that it might have been called gross. A man over his
head and ears in debt naturally expected his creditors would
be paid by the young woman who had married him. America
had in these days been so little explored by the thrifty
impecunious well-born that its ingenuous sentimentality in
certain matters was by no means comprehended.
By each post Sir Nigel received numerous bills. Sometimes
letters accompanied them, and once or twice respectful but
firm male persons brought them by hand and demanded interviews
which irritated Sir Nigel extremely. Given time to
arrange matters with Rosalie, to train her to some sense of
her duty, he believed that the "acct. rendered" could be
wiped off, but he saw he must have time. She was such a
little fool. Again and again he was furious at the fate which
had forced him to take her.
The truth was that Rosalie knew nothing whatever about
unpaid bills. Reuben Vanderpoel's daughters had never
encountered an indignant tradesman in their lives. When they
went into "stores" they were received with unfeigned rapture.
Everything was dragged forth to be displayed to them,
attendants waited to leap forth to supply their smallest behest.
They knew no other phase of existence than the one in which
one could buy anything one wanted and pay any price
demanded for it.
Consequently Rosalie did not recognise signs which would
have been obviously recognisable by the initiated. If Sir Nigel
Anstruthers had been a nice young fellow who had loved her,
and he had been honest enough to make a clean breast of his
difficulties, she would have thrown herself into his arms and
implored him effusively to make use of all her available funds,
and if the supply had been insufficient, would have immediately
written to her father for further donations, knowing that her
appeal would be responded to at once. But Sir Nigel
Anstruthers cherished no sentiment for any other individual than
himself, and he had no intention of explaining that his mere
vanity had caused him to mislead her, that his rank and estate
counted for nothing and that he was in fact a pauper loaded
with dishonest debts. He wanted money, but he wanted it
to be given to him as if he conferred a favour by receiving it.
It must be transferred to him as though it were his by right.
What did a man marry for? Therefore his wife's unconsciousness
that she was inflicting outrage upon him by her mere
mental attitude filled his being with slowly rising gall.
Poor Rosalie went joyfully forth shopping after the manner
of all newly arrived Americans. She bought new toilettes
and gewgaws and presents for her friends and relations in New
York, and each package which was delivered at the hotel added
to Sir Nigel's rage.
That the little blockhead should be allowed to do what
she liked with her money and that he should not be able to
forbid her! This he said to himself at intervals of five minutes
through the day--which led to another small episode.
"You are spending a great deal of money," he said one
morning in his condemnatory manner. Rosalie looked up from
the lace flounce which had just been delivered and gave the
little nervous laugh, which was becoming entirely uncertain
"Am I?" she answered. "They say all Americans spend
a good deal."
"Your money ought to be in proper hands and properly
managed," he went on with cold precision. "If you were
an English woman, your husband would control it."
"Would he?" The simple, sweet-tempered obtuseness of
her tone was an infuriating thing to him. There was the
usual shade of troubled surprise in her eyes as they met his.
"I don't think men in America ever do that. I don't believe
the nice ones want to. You see they have such a pride about
always giving things to women, and taking care of them. I
believe a nice American man would break stones in the street
rather than take money from a woman--even his wife. I mean
while he could work. Of course if he was ill or had ill luck or
anything like that, he wouldn't be so proud as not to take it
from the person who loved him most and wanted to help him.
You do sometimes hear of a man who won't work and lets
his wife support him, but it's very seldom, and they are always
the low kind that other men look down on."
"Wanted to help him." Sir Nigel selected the phrase and
quoted it between puffs of the cigar he held in his fine, rather
cruel-looking hands, and his voice expressed a not too subtle
sneer. "A woman is not `helping' her husband when she
gives him control of her fortune. She is only doing her duty
and accepting her proper position with regard to him. The law
used to settle the thing definitely."
"Did-did it?" Rosy faltered weakly. She knew he was
offended again and that she was once more somehow in the
wrong. So many things about her seemed to displease him, and
when he was displeased he always reminded her that she was
stupidly, objectionably guilty of not being an English woman.
Whatsoever it happened to be, the fault she had committed
out of her depth of ignorance, he did not forget it. It was no
habit of his to endeavour to dismiss offences. He preferred to
hold them in possession as if they were treasures and to turn
them over and over, in the mental seclusion which nourishes
the growth of injuries, since within its barriers there is no
chance of their being palliated by the apologies or explanations
of the offender.
During their journey to Stornham Court the next day he
was in one of his black moods. Once in the railway carriage
he paid small attention to his wife, but sat rigidly reading his
Times, until about midway to their destination he descended at
a station and paid a visit to the buffet in the small refreshment
room, after which he settled himself to doze in an exceedingly
unbecoming attitude, his travelling cap pulled down, his
rather heavy face congested with the dark flush Rosalie had
not yet learned was due to the fact that he had hastily tossed
off two or three whiskies and sodas. Though he was never
either thick of utterance or unsteady on his feet, whisky and
soda formed an important factor in his existence. When he
was annoyed or dull he at once took the necessary precautions
against being overcome by these feelings, and the effect upon
a constitutionally evil temper was to transform it into an
infernal one. The night had been a bad one for Rosy. Such
floods of homesick longing had overpowered her that she had
not been able to sleep. She had risen feeling shaky and
hysterical and her nervousness had been added to by her fear that
Nigel might observe her and make comment. Of course she
told herself it was natural that he should not wish her to
appear at Stornham Court looking a pale, pink-nosed little
fright. Her efforts to be cheerful had indeed been somewhat
touching, but they had met with small encouragement.
She thought the green-clothed country lovely as the train
sped through it, and a lump rose in her small throat because
she knew she might have been so happy if she had not been so
frightened and miserable. The thing which had been dawning
upon her took clearer, more awful form. Incidents she had
tried to explain and excuse to herself, upon all sorts of futile,
simple grounds, began to loom up before her in something like
their actual proportions. She had heard of men who had
changed their manner towards girls after they had married
them, but she did not know they had begun to change so
soon. This was so early in the honeymoon to be sitting in a
railway carriage, in a corner remote from that occupied by a
bridegroom, who read his paper in what was obviously intentional,
resentful solitude. Emily Soame's father, she remembered
it against her will, had been obliged to get a divorce for
Emily after her two years of wretched married life. But Alfred
Soames had been quite nice for six months at least. It seemed
as if all this must be a dream, one of those nightmare things,
in which you suddenly find yourself married to someone you
cannot bear, and you don't know how it happened, because
you yourself have had nothing to do with the matter. She
felt that presently she must waken with a start and find herself
breathing fast, and panting out, half laughing, half crying,
"Oh, I am so glad it's not true! I am so glad it's not true!"
But this was true, and there was Nigel. And she was in a
new, unexplored world. Her little trembling hands clutched
each other. The happy, light girlish days full of ease and
friendliness and decency seemed gone forever. It was not Rosalie
Vanderpoel who pressed her colourless face against the glass of
the window, looking out at the flying trees; it was the wife
of Nigel Anstruthers, and suddenly, by some hideous magic,
she had been snatched from the world to which she belonged
and was being dragged by a gaoler to a prison from which she
did not know how to escape. Already Nigel had managed to
convey to her that in England a woman who was married could
do nothing to defend herself against her husband, and that
to endeavour to do anything was the last impossible touch of
The vivid realisation of the situation seized upon her like a
possession as she glanced sideways at her bridegroom and
hurriedly glanced away again with a little hysterical shudder.
New York, good-tempered, lenient, free New York, was millions
of miles away and Nigel was so loathly near and--and so
ugly. She had never known before that he was so ugly, that
his face was so heavy, his skin so thick and coarse and his
expression so evilly ill-tempered. She was not sufficiently
analytical to be conscious that she had with one bound leaped to
the appalling point of feeling uncontrollable physical abhorrence
of the creature to whom she was chained for life. She was
terrified at finding herself forced to combat the realisation
that there were certain expressions of his countenance which made
her feel sick with repulsion. Her self-reproach also was as
great as her terror. He was her husband--her husband--and she
was a wicked girl. She repeated the words to herself again and
again, but remotely she knew that when she said, "He is my
husband," that was the worst thing of all.
This inward struggle was a bad preparation for any added
misery, and when their railroad journey terminated at Stornham
Station she was met by new bewilderment.
The station itself was a rustic place where wild roses climbed
down a bank to meet the very train itself. The station master's
cottage had roses and clusters of lilies waving in its tiny
garden. The station master, a good-natured, red-faced man, came
forward, baring his head, to open the railroad carriage door
with his own hand. Rosy thought him delightful and bowed
and smiled sweet-temperedly to him and to his wife and little
girls, who were curtseying at the garden gate. She was
sufficiently homesick to be actually grateful to them for their
air of welcoming her. But as she smiled she glanced furtively
at Nigel to see if she was doing exactly the right thing.
He himself was not smiling and did not unbend even when
the station master, who had known him from his boyhood, felt
at liberty to offer a deferential welcome.
"Happy to see you home with her ladyship, Sir Nigel," he
said; "very happy, if I may say so."
Sir Nigel responded to the respectful amiability with a half-
military lifting of his right hand, accompanied by a grunt.
"D'ye do, Wells," he said, and strode past him to speak to
the footman who had come from Stornham Court with the
The new and nervous little Lady Anstruthers, who was left
to trot after her husband, smiled again at the ruddy, kind-
looking fellow, this time in conscious deprecation. In the
simplicity of her republican sympathy with a well-meaning fellow
creature who might feel himself snubbed, she could have shaken
him by the hand. She had even parted her lips to venture a
word of civility when she was startled by hearing Sir Nigel's
voice raised in angry rating.
"Damned bad management not to bring something else,"
she heard. "Kind of thing you fellows are always doing."
She made her way to the carriage, flurried again by not
knowing whether she was doing right or wrong. Sir Nigel had
given her no instructions and she had not yet learned that
when he was in a certain humour there was equal fault in
obeying or disobeying such orders as he gave.
The carriage from the Court--not in the least a new or
smart equipage--was drawn up before the entrance of the
station and Sir Nigel was in a rage because the vehicle brought
for the luggage was too small to carry it all.
"Very sorry, Sir Nigel," said the coachman, touching his
hat two or three times in his agitation. "Very sorry. The
omnibus was a little out of order--the springs, Sir Nigel--and
"You thought!" was the heated interruption. "What right
had you to think, damn it! You are not paid to think, you are
paid to do your work properly. Here are a lot of damned
boxes which ought to go with us and--where's your maid?"
wheeling round upon his wife.
Rosalie turned towards the woman, who was approaching
from the waiting room.
"Hannah," she said timorously.
"Drop those confounded bundles," ordered Sir Nigel, "and
show James the boxes her ladyship is obliged to have this
evening. Be quick about it and don't pick out half a dozen. The
cart can't take them."
Hannah looked frightened. This sort of thing was new to
her, too. She shuffled her packages on to a seat and followed
the footman to the luggage. Sir Nigel continued rating the
coachman. Any form of violent self-assertion was welcome to
him at any time, and when he was irritated he found it a distinct
luxury to kick a dog or throw a boot at a cat. The springs
of the omnibus, he argued, had no right to be broken when it
was known that he was coming home. His anger was only
added to by the coachman's halting endeavours in his excuses
to veil a fact he knew his master was aware of, that everything
at Stornham was more or less out of order, and that dilapidations
were the inevitable result of there being no money to pay
for repairs. The man leaned forward on his box and spoke at
last in a low tone.
"The bus has been broken some time," he said. "It's--it's
an expensive job, Sir Nigel. Her ladyship thought it better
to----" Sir Nigel turned white about the mouth.
"Hold your tongue," he commanded, and the coachman got
red in the face, saluted, biting his lips, and sat very stiff and
upright on his box.
The station master edged away uneasily and tried to look as
if he were not listening. But Rosalie could see that he could
not help hearing, nor could the country people who had been
passengers by the train and who were collecting their belongings
and getting into their traps.
Lady Anstruthers was ignored and remained standing while
the scene went on. She could not help recalling the manner
in which she had been invariably received in New York on her
return from any journey, how she was met by comfortable,
merry people and taken care of at once. This was so strange,
it was so queer, so different.
"Oh, never mind, Nigel dear," she said at last, with
innocent indiscretion. "It doesn't really matter, you know."
Sir Nigel turned upon her a blaze of haughty indignation.
"If you'll pardon my saying so, it does matter," he said.
"It matters confoundedly. Be good enough to take your place
in the carriage."
He moved to the carriage door, and not too civilly put her
in. She gasped a little for breath as she sat down. He had
spoken to her as if she had been an impertinent servant who
had taken a liberty. The poor girl was bewildered to the
verge of panic. When he had ended his tirade and took his
place beside her he wore his most haughtily intolerant air.
"May I request that in future you will be good enough not
to interfere when I am reproving my servants," he remarked.
"I didn't mean to interfere," she apologised tremulously.
"I don't know what you meant. I only know what you
did," was his response. "You American women are too fond
of cutting in. An Englishman can think for himself without
his wife's assistance."
The tears rose to her eyes. The introduction of the
international question overpowered her as always.
"Don't begin to be hysterical," was the ameliorating
tenderness with which he observed the two hot salt drops which
fell despite her. "I should scarcely wish to present you to my
mother bathed in tears."
She wiped the salt drops hastily away and sat for a moment
silent in the corner of the carriage. Being wholly primitive
and unanalytical, she was ashamed and began to blame herself.
He was right. She must not be silly because she was unused
to things. She ought not to be disturbed by trifles. She must
try to be nice and look cheerful. She made an effort and did
no speak for a few minutes. When she had recovered herself
she tried again.
"English country is so pretty," she said, when she thought
she was quite sure that her voice would not tremble. "I do
so like the hedges and the darling little red-roofed cottages."
It was an innocent tentative at saying something agreeable
which might propitiate him. She was beginning to realise that
she was continually making efforts to propitiate him. But one
of the forms of unpleasantness most enjoyable to him was the
snubbing of any gentle effort at palliating his mood. He
condescended in this case no response whatever, but merely
continued staring contemptuously before him.
"It is so picturesque, and so unlike America," was the
pathetic little commonplace she ventured next. "Ain't it,
He turned his head slowly towards her, as if she had taken
a new liberty in disturbing his meditations.
"Wha--at?" he drawled.
It was almost too much for her to sustain herself under.
Her courage collapsed.
"I was only saying how pretty the cottages were," she
faltered. "And that there's nothing like this in America."
"You ended your remark by adding, `ain't it,' " her
husband condescended. "There is nothing like that in England.
I shall ask you to do me the favour of leaving Americanisms
out of your conversation when you are in the society of English
ladies and gentlemen. It won't do."
"I didn't know I said it," Rosy answered feebly.
"That is the difficulty," was his response. "You never
know, but educated people do."
There was nothing more to be said, at least for a girl who
had never known what it was to be bullied. This one felt
like a beggar or a scullery maid, who, being rated by her
master, had not the refuge of being able to "give warning."
She could never give warning. The Atlantic Ocean was between
her and those who had loved and protected her all her
short life, and the carriage was bearing her onwards to the
home in which she was to live alone as this man's companion
to the end of her existence.
She made no further propitiatory efforts, but sat and stared
in simple blankness at the country, which seemed to increase
in loveliness at each new point of view. Sometimes she saw
sweet wooded, rolling lands made lovelier by the homely farm-
houses and cottages enclosed and sheltered by thick hedges and
trees; once or twice they drove past a park enfolding a great
house guarded by its huge sentinel oaks and beeches; once the
carriage passed through an adorable little village, where
children played on the green and a square-towered grey church
seemed to watch over the steep-roofed cottages and creeper-
covered vicarage. If she had been a happy American tourist
travelling in company with impressionable friends, she would
have broken into ecstatic little exclamations of admiration
every five minutes, but it had been driven home to her that
to her present companion, to whom nothing was new, her
rapture would merely represent the crudeness which had existed
in contentment in a brown-stone house on a noisy thoroughfare,
through a life which had been passed tramping up and
down numbered streets and avenues.
They approached at last a second village with a green, a
grass-grown street and the irregular red-tiled cottages, which
to the unaccustomed eye seemed rather to represent studies for
sketches than absolute realities. The bells in the church tower
broke forth into a chime and people appeared at the doors
of the cottages. The men touched their foreheads as the
carriage passed, and the children made bobbing curtsies. Sir
Nigel condescended to straighten himself a trifle in his seat,
and recognised the greetings with the stiff, half-military
salute. The poor girl at his side felt that he put as little
feeling as possible into the movement, and that if she herself
had been a bowing villager she would almost have preferred to be
wholly ignored. She looked at him questioningly.
"Are they--must _I_?" she began.
"Make some civil recognition," answered Sir Nigel, as if
he were instructing an ignorant child. "It is customary."
So she bowed and tried to smile, and the joyous clamour of
the bells brought the awful lump into her throat again. It
reminded her of the ringing of the chimes at the New York
church on that day of her marriage, which had been so full
of gay, luxurious bustle, so crowded with wedding presents,
and flowers, and warm-hearted, affectionate congratulations,
and good wishes uttered in merry American voices.
The park at Stornham Court was large and beautiful and
old. The trees were magnificent, and the broad sweep of
sward and rich dip of ferny dell all that the imagination could
desire. The Court itself was old, and many-gabled and
mellow-red and fine. Rosalie had learned from no precedent
as yet that houses of its kind may represent the apotheosis of
discomfort and dilapidation within, and only become more
beautiful without. Tumbled-down chimneys and broken tiles,
being clambered over by tossing ivy, are pictures to delight
As she descended from the carriage the girl was tremulous
and uncertain of herself and much overpowered by the unbending
air of the man-servant who received her as if she were a
parcel in which it was no part of his duty to take the smallest
interest. As she mounted the stone steps she caught a glimpse
of broad gloom within the threshold, a big, square, dingy hall
where some other servants were drawn up in a row. She had
read of something of the sort in English novels, and she was
suddenly embarrassed afresh by her realisation of the fact that
she did not know what to do and that if she made a mistake Nigel
would never forgive her.
An elderly woman came out of a room opening into the
hall. She was an ugly woman of a rigid carriage, which, with
the obvious intention of being severely majestic, was only
antagonistic. She had a flaccid chin, and was curiously like
Nigel. She had also his expression when he intended to be
disagreeable. She was the Dowager Lady Anstruthers, and being an
entirely revolting old person at her best, she objected extremely
to the transatlantic bride who had made her a dowager, though
she was determinedly prepared to profit by any practical benefit
likely to accrue.
"Well, Nigel," she said in a deep voice. "Here you are
This was of course a statement not to be refuted. She held
out a leathern cheek, and as Sir Nigel also presented his, their
caress of greeting was a singular and not effusive one.
"Is this your wife?" she asked, giving Rosalie a bony hand.
And as he did not indignantly deny this to be the fact, she
added, "How do you do?"
Rosalie murmured a reply and tried to control herself by
making another effort to swallow the lump in her throat.
But she could not swallow it. She had been keeping a desperate
hold on herself too long. The bewildered misery of
her awakening, the awkwardness of the public row at the
station, the sulks which had filled the carriage to repletion
through all the long drive, and finally the jangling bells which
had so recalled that last joyous day at home--at home--had
brought her to a point where this meeting between mother and
son--these two stony, unpleasant creatures exchanging a
reluctant rub of uninviting cheeks--as two savages might have
rubbed noses--proved the finishing impetus to hysteria. They
were so hideous, these two, and so ghastly comic and fantastic
in their unresponsive glumness, that the poor girl lost all hold
upon herself and broke into a trembling shriek of laughter.
"Oh!" she gasped in terror at what she felt to be her
indecent madness. "Oh! how--how----" And then seeing
Nigel's furious start, his mother's glare and all the servants'
alarmed stare at her, she rushed staggering to the only creature
she felt she knew--her maid Hannah, clutched her and broke
down into wild sobbing.
"Oh, take me away!" she cried. "Oh, do! Oh, do! Oh, Hannah!
"Take your mistress to her room," commanded Sir Nigel.
"Go downstairs," he called out to the servants. "Take her
upstairs at once and throw water in her face," to the excited
And as the new Lady Anstruthers was half led, half dragged,
in humiliated hysteric disorder up the staircase, he took his
mother by the elbow, marched her into the nearest room and
shut the door. There they stood and stared at each other,
breathing quick, enraged breaths and looking particularly alike
with their heavy-featured, thick-skinned, infuriated faces.
It was the Dowager who spoke first, and her whole voice and
manner expressed all she intended that they should, all the
derision, dislike and scathing resignment to a grotesque fate.
"Well," said her ladyship. "So THIS is what you have
brought home from America!"
A MISTAKE OF THE POSTBOY'S
As the weeks passed at Stornham Court the Atlantic Ocean
seemed to Rosalie Anstruthers to widen endlessly, and gay,
happy, noisy New York to recede until it was as far away
as some memory of heaven. The girl had been born in the
midst of the rattling, rumbling bustle, and it had never struck
her as assuming the character of noise; she had only thought
of it as being the cheerful confusion inseparable from town.
She had been secretly offended and hurt when strangers said
that New York was noisy and dirty; when they called it
vulgar, she never wholly forgave them. She was of the New
Yorkers who adore their New York as Parisians adore Paris
and who feel that only within its beloved boundaries can the
breath of life be breathed. People were often too hot or too
cold there, but there was usually plenty of bright glaring sun,
and the extremes of the weather had at least something rather
dramatic about them. There were dramatic incidents connected
with them, at any rate. People fell dead of sunstroke
or were frozen to death, and the newspapers were full of
anecdotes during a "cold snap" or a "torrid wave," which
all made for excitement and conversation.
But at Stornham the rain seemed to young Lady Anstruthers
to descend ceaselessly. The season was a wet one, and when
she rose in the morning and looked out over the huge stretch of
trees and sward she thought she always saw the rain falling
either in hopeless sheets or more hopeless drizzle. The
occasions upon which this was a dreary truth blotted out or
blurred the exceptions, when in liquid ultramarine deeps of sky,
floated islands and mountains of snow-white fleece, of a beauty
of which she had before had no conception.
In the English novels she had read, places such as Stornham
Court were always filled with "house parties," made up of
wonderful town wits and beauties, who provided endless
entertainment for each other, who played games, who hunted and
shot pheasants and shone in dazzling amateur theatricals. There
were, however, no visitors at Stornham, and there were in
fact, no accommodations for any. There were numberless
bedrooms, but none really fit for guests to occupy. Carpets
and curtains were ancient and ragged, furniture was dilapidated,
chimneys would not draw, beds were falling to pieces.
The Dowager Lady Anstruthers had never either attracted
desired, or been able to afford company. Her son's wife
suffered from the resulting boredom and unpopularity without
being able to comprehend the significance of the situation.
As the weeks dragged by a few heavy carriages deposited at
the Court a few callers. Some of the visitors bore imposing
titles, which made Rosalie very nervous and caused her hastily
to array herself to receive them in toilettes much too pretty and
delicate for the occasion. Her innocent idea was that she
must do her husband credit by appearing as "stylish" as possible.
As a result she was stared at, either with open disfavour,
or with well-bred, furtive criticism, and was described
afterwards as being either "very American" or "very over-
dressed." When she had lived in huge rooms in Fifth Avenue,
Rosalie had changed her attire as many times a day as she had
changed her fancy; every hour had been filled with engagements
and amusements; the Vanderpoel carriages had driven
up to the door and driven away again and again through the
mornings and afternoons and until midnight and later. Someone
was always going out or coming in. There had been in
the big handsome house not much more of an air of repose than
one might expect to find at a railway station; but the flurry,
the coming and going, the calling and chatting had all been
cheery, amiable. At Stornham, Rosalie sat at breakfast before
unchanging boiled eggs, unfailing toast and unalterable broiled
bacon, morning after morning. Sir Nigel sat and munched
over the newspapers, his mother, with an air of relentless
disapproval from a lofty height of both her food and companions,
disposed of her eggs and her rasher at Rosalie's right
hand. She had transferred to her daughter-in-law her previously
occupied seat at the head of the table. This had been
done with a carefully prepared scene of intense though correct
disagreeableness, in which she had managed to convey all
the rancour of her dethroned spirit and her disapproval and
disdain of international alliances.
"It is of course proper that you should sit at the head
of your husband's table," she had said, among other agreeable
things. "A woman having devoted her life to her son
must relinquish her position to the person he chooses to marry.
If you should have a son you will give up your position to
his wife. Since Nigel has married you, he has, of course, a
right to expect that you will at least make an effort to learn
something of what is required of women of your position."
"Sit down, Rosalie," said Nigel. "Of course you take the
head of the table, and naturally you must learn what is
expected of my wife, but don't talk confounded rubbish, mother,
about devoting your life to your son. We have seen about as
little of each other as we could help. We never agreed." They
were both bullies and each made occasional efforts at bullying
the other without any particular result. But each could at
least bully the other into intensified unpleasantness.
The vicar's wife having made her call of ceremony upon the
new Lady Anstruthers, followed up the acquaintance, and
found her quite exotically unlike her mother-in-law, whose
charities one may be sure had neither been lavish nor dispensed
by any hand less impressive than her own. The younger woman
was of wholly malleable material. Her sympathies were easily
awakened and her purse was well filled and readily opened.
Small families or large ones, newly born infants or newly buried
ones, old women with "bad legs" and old men who needed
comforts, equally touched her heart. She innocently bestowed
sovereigns where an Englishwoman would have known that
half-crowns would have been sufficient. As the vicaress was
her almoner that lady felt her importance rapidly on the
increase. When she left a cottage saying, "I'll speak to young
Lady Anstruthers about you," the good woman of the house
curtsied low and her husband touched his forehead respectfully.
But this did not advance the fortunes of Sir Nigel, who
personally required of her very different things. Two weeks
after her arrival at Stornham, Rosalie began to see that somehow
she was regarded as a person almost impudently in the wrong.
It appeared that if she had been an English girl she would
have been quite different, that she would have been an advantage
instead of a detriment. As an American she was a detriment.
That seemed to go without saying. She tried to do
everything she was told, and learn something from each cold
insinuation. She did not know that her very amenability and
timidity were her undoing. Sir Nigel and his mother
thoroughly enjoyed themselves at her expense. They knew they
could say anything they chose, and that at the most she would
only break down into crying and afterwards apologise for
being so badly behaved. If some practical, strong-minded
person had been near to defend her she might have been rescued
promptly and her tyrants routed. But she was a young girl,
tender of heart and weak of nature. She used to cry a great
deal when she was alone, and when she wrote to her mother
she was too frightened to tell the truth concerning her
"Oh, if I could just see some of them!" she would wail
to herself. "If I could just see mother or father or anybody
from New York! Oh, I know I shall never see New York
again, or Broadway or Fifth Avenue or Central Park--I never
--never--never shall!" And she would grovel among her
pillows, burying her face and half stifling herself lest her sobs
should be heard. Her feeling for her husband had become
one of terror and repulsion. She was almost more afraid of
his patronising, affectionate moments than she was of his temper.
His conjugal condescensions made her feel vaguely--
without knowing why--as if she were some lower order of
American women, he said, had no conception of wifely
duties and affection. He had a great deal to say on the
subject of wifely duty. It was part of her duty as a wife to
be entirely satisfied with his society, and to be completely
happy in the pleasure it afforded her. It was her wifely duty
not to talk about her own family and palpitatingly expect
letters by every American mail. He objected intensely to this
letter writing and receiving, and his mother shared his
"You have married an Englishman," her ladyship said.
"You have put it out of his power to marry an Englishwoman,
and the least consideration you can show is to let
New York and Nine-hundredth street remain upon the other
side of the Atlantic and not insist on dragging them into
The Dowager Lady Anstruthers was very fine in her
picture of her mental condition, when she realised, as she seemed
periodically to do, that it was no longer possible for her son
to make a respectable marriage with a woman of his own
nation. The unadorned fact was that both she and Sir Nigel
were infuriated by the simplicity which made Rosalie slow in
comprehending that it was proper that the money her father
allowed her should be placed in her husband's hands, and left
there with no indelicate questioning. If she had been an
English girl matters would have been made plain to her from the
first and arranged satisfactorily before her marriage. Sir
Nigel's mother considered that he had played the fool, and
would not believe that New York fathers were such touchy,
sentimental idiots as not to know what was expected of them.
They wasted no time, however, in coming to the point, and
in a measure it was the vicaress who aided them. Not she
Since her mother-in-law's first mention of a possible son
whose wife would eventually thrust her from her seat at the
head of the table, Rosalie had several times heard this son
referred to. It struck her that in England such things seemed
discussed with more freedom than in America. She had never
heard a young woman's possible family arranged for and made
the subject of conversation in the more crude atmosphere of
New York. It made her feel rather awkward at first. Then
she began to realise that the son was part of her wifely duty
also; that she was expected to provide one, and that he was
in some way expected to provide for the estate--to rehabilitate
it--and that this was because her father, being a rich man,
would provide for him. It had also struck her that in England
there was a tendency to expectation that someone would
"provide" for someone else, that relatives even by marriage
were supposed to "make allowances" on which it was quite
proper for other persons to live. Rosalie had been accustomed
to a community in which even rich men worked, and
in which young and able-bodied men would have felt rather
indignant if aunts or uncles had thought it necessary to
pension them off as if they had been impotent paupers. It was
Rosalie's son who was to be "provided for" in this case, and
who was to "provide for" his father.
"When you have a son," her mother-in-law had remarked
severely, "I suppose something will be done for Nigel and
This had been said before she had been ten days in the
house, and had set her not-too-quick brain working. She had
already begun to see that life at Stornham Court was not the
luxurious affair it was in the house in Fifth Avenue. Things
were shabby and queer and not at all comfortable. Fires were
not lighted because a day was chilly and gloomy. She had
once asked for one in her bedroom and her mother-in-law had
reproved her for indecent extravagance in a manner which took
her breath away.
"I suppose in America you have your house at furnace heat
in July," she said. "Mere wastefulness and self-indulgence!
That is why Americans are old women at twenty. They are
shrivelled and withered by the unhealthy lives they lead.
Stuffing themselves with sweets and hot bread and never
breathing the fresh air."
Rosalie could not at the moment recall any withered and
shrivelled old women of twenty, but she blushed and stammered
"It is never cold enough for fires in July," she answered,
"but we--we never think fires extravagant when we are not
comfortable without them."
"Coal must be cheaper than it is in England," said her
ladyship. "When you have a daughter, I hope you do not
expect to bring her up as girls are brought up in New York."
This was the first time Rosalie had heard of her daughter,
and she was not ready enough to reply. She naturally went
into her room and cried again, wondering what her father
and mother would say if they knew that bedroom fires were
considered vulgarly extravagant by an impressive member of
the British aristocracy.
She was not at all strong at the time and was given to
feeling chilly and miserable on wet, windy days. She used to
cry more than ever and was so desolate that there were days
when she used to go to the vicarage for companionship. On
such days the vicar's wife would entertain her with stories of
the villagers' catastrophes, and she would empty her purse upon
the tea table and feel a little consoled because she was the
means of consoling someone else.
"I suppose it gratifies your vanity to play the Lady
Bountiful," Sir Nigel sneered one evening, having heard in the
village what she was doing.
"I--never thought of such a thing," she stammered feebly.
"Mrs. Brent said they were so poor."
"You throw your money about as if you were a child,"
said her mother-in-law. "It is a pity it is not put in the
hands of some person with discretion."
It had begun to dawn upon Rosalie that her ladyship was deeply
convinced that either herself or her son would be admirably
discreet custodians of the money referred to. And even