Part 1 out of 19
E-text originally prepared by Andrew Turek
and extensively revised by Joseph E. Loewenstein, M.D.
THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
by Anthony Trollope
CHAPTER I - THREE EDITORS
Let the reader be introduced to Lady Carbury, upon whose character and
doings much will depend of whatever interest these pages may have, as
she sits at her writing-table in her own room in her own house in
Welbeck Street. Lady Carbury spent many hours at her desk, and wrote
many letters wrote also very much beside letters. She spoke of herself
in these days as a woman devoted to Literature, always spelling the
word with a big L. Something of the nature of her devotion may be
learned by the perusal of three letters which on this morning she had
written with a quickly running hand. Lady Carbury was rapid in
everything, and in nothing more rapid than in the writing of letters.
Here is Letter No. 1
Thursday, Welbeck Street.
I have taken care that you shall have the early sheets of my two
new volumes to-morrow, or Saturday at latest, so that you may, if
so minded, give a poor struggler like myself a lift in your next
week's paper. Do give a poor struggler a lift. You and I have so
much in common, and I have ventured to flatter myself that we are
really friends! I do not flatter you when I say, that not only
would aid from you help me more than from any other quarter, but
also that praise from you would gratify my vanity more than any
other praise. I almost think you will like my "Criminal Queens."
The sketch of Semiramis is at any rate spirited, though I had to
twist it about a little to bring her in guilty. Cleopatra, of
course, I have taken from Shakespeare. What a wench she was! I
could not quite make Julia a queen; but it was impossible to pass
over so piquant a character. You will recognise in the two or
three ladies of the empire how faithfully I have studied my
Gibbon. Poor dear old Belisarius! I have done the best I could
with Joanna, but I could not bring myself to care for her. In our
days she would simply have gone to Broadmore. I hope you will not
think that I have been too strong in my delineations of Henry VIII
and his sinful but unfortunate Howard. I don't care a bit about
Anne Boleyne. I am afraid that I have been tempted into too great
length about the Italian Catherine; but in truth she has been my
favourite. What a woman! What a devil! Pity that a second Dante
could not have constructed for her a special hell. How one traces
the effect of her training in the life of our Scotch Mary. I trust
you will go with me in my view as to the Queen of Scots. Guilty!
guilty always! Adultery, murder, treason, and all the rest of it.
But recommended to mercy because she was royal. A queen bred, born
and married, and with such other queens around her, how could she
have escaped to be guilty? Marie Antoinette I have not quite
acquitted. It would be uninteresting perhaps untrue. I have
accused her lovingly, and have kissed when I scourged. I trust the
British public will not be angry because I do not whitewash
Caroline, especially as I go along with them altogether in abusing
But I must not take up your time by sending you another book,
though it gratifies me to think that I am writing what none but
yourself will read. Do it yourself, like a dear man, and, as you
are great, be merciful. Or rather, as you are a friend, be loving.
Yours gratefully and faithfully,
After all how few women there are who can raise themselves above
the quagmire of what we call love, and make themselves anything
but playthings for men. Of almost all these royal and luxurious
sinners it was the chief sin that in some phase of their lives
they consented to be playthings without being wives. I have
striven so hard to be proper; but when girls read everything, why
should not an old woman write anything?
This letter was addressed to Nicholas Broune, Esq., the editor of the
'Morning Breakfast Table,' a daily newspaper of high character; and,
as it was the longest, so was it considered to be the most important
of the three. Mr Broune was a man powerful in his profession,--and he
was fond of ladies. Lady Carbury in her letter had called herself an
old woman, but she was satisfied to do so by a conviction that no one
else regarded her in that light. Her age shall be no secret to the
reader, though to her most intimate friends, even to Mr Broune, it had
never been divulged. She was forty-three, but carried her years so
well, and had received such gifts from nature, that it was impossible
to deny that she was still a beautiful woman. And she used her beauty
not only to increase her influence,--as is natural to women who are
well-favoured,--but also with a well-considered calculation that she
could obtain material assistance in the procuring of bread and cheese,
which was very necessary to Her, by a prudent adaptation to her
purposes of the good things with which providence had endowed her. She
did not fall in love, she did not wilfully flirt, she did not commit
herself; but she smiled and whispered, and made confidences, and
looked out of her own eyes into men's eyes as though there might be
some mysterious bond between her and them--if only mysterious
circumstances would permit it. But the end of all was to induce some
one to do something which would cause a publisher to give her good
payment for indifferent writing, or an editor to be lenient when, upon
the merits of the case, he should have been severe. Among all her
literary friends, Mr Broune was the one in whom she most trusted; and
Mr Broune was fond of handsome women. It may be as well to give a
short record of a scene which had taken place between Lady Carbury and
her friend about a month before the writing of this letter which has
been produced. She had wanted him to take a series of papers for the
'Morning Breakfast Table,' and to have them paid for at rate No. 1,
whereas she suspected that he was rather doubtful as to their merit,
and knew that, without special favour, she could not hope for
remuneration above rate No. 2, or possibly even No. 3. So she had
looked into his eyes, and had left her soft, plump hand for a moment
in his. A man in such circumstances is so often awkward, not knowing
with any accuracy when to do one thing and when another! Mr Broune, in
a moment of enthusiasm, had put his arm round Lady Carbury's waist and
had kissed her. To say that Lady Carbury was angry, as most women
would be angry if so treated, would be to give an unjust idea of her
character. It was a little accident which really carried with it no
injury, unless it should be the injury of leading to a rupture between
herself and a valuable ally. No feeling of delicacy was shocked. What
did it matter? No unpardonable insult had been offered; no harm had
been done, if only the dear susceptible old donkey could be made at
once to understand that that wasn't the way to go on!
Without a flutter, and without a blush, she escaped from his arm, and
then made him an excellent little speech. 'Mr Broune, how foolish, how
wrong, how mistaken! Is it not so? Surely you do not wish to put an
end to the friendship between us!'
'Put an end to our friendship, Lady Carbury! Oh, certainly not that.'
'Then why risk it by such an act? Think of my son and of my daughter,--
both grown up. Think of the past troubles of my life;--so much suffered
and so little deserved. No one knows them so well as you do. Think of
my name, that has been so often slandered but never disgraced! Say
that you are sorry, and it shall be forgotten.'
When a man has kissed a woman it goes against the grain with him to
say the very next moment that he is sorry for what he has done. It is
as much as to declare that the kiss had not answered his expectation.
Mr Broune could not do this, and perhaps Lady Carbury did not quite
expect it. 'You know that for world I would not offend you,' he said.
This sufficed. Lady Carbury again looked into his eyes, and a promise
was given that the articles should be printed--and with generous
When the interview was over Lady Carbury regarded it as having been
quite successful. Of course when struggles have to be made and hard
work done, there will be little accidents. The lady who uses a street
cab must encounter mud and dust which her richer neighbour, who has a
private carriage, will escape. She would have preferred not to have
been kissed;--but what did it matter? With Mr Broune the affair was more
serious. 'Confound them all,' he said to himself as he left the house;
'no amount of experience enables a man to know them.' As he went away
he almost thought that Lady Carbury had intended him to kiss her
again, and he was almost angry with himself in that he had not done
so. He had seen her three or four times since, but had not repeated
We will now go on to the other letters, both of which were addressed
to the editors of other newspapers. The second was written to Mr
Booker, of the 'Literary Chronicle.' Mr Booker was a hard-working
professor of literature, by no means without talent, by no means
without influence, and by no means without a conscience. But, from the
nature of the struggles in which he had been engaged, by compromises
which had gradually been driven upon him by the encroachment of
brother authors on the one side and by the demands on the other of
employers who looked only to their profits, he had fallen into a
routine of work in which it was very difficult to be scrupulous, and
almost impossible to maintain the delicacies of a literary conscience.
He was now a bald-headed old man of sixty, with a large family of
daughters, one of whom was a widow dependent on him with two little
children. He had five hundred a year for editing the 'Literary
Chronicle,' which, through his energy, had become a valuable property.
He wrote for magazines, and brought out some book of his own almost
annually. He kept his head above water, and was regarded by those who
knew about him, but did not know him, as a successful man. He always
kept up his spirits, and was able in literary circles to show that he
could hold his own. But he was driven by the stress of circumstances
to take such good things as came in his way, and could hardly afford
to be independent. It must be confessed that literary scruple had long
departed from his mind. Letter No. 2 was as follows;--
Welbeck Street, 25th February, 187-.
DEAR MR BOOKER,
I have told Mr Leadham [Mr Leadham was senior partner in the
enterprising firm of publishers known as Messrs. Leadham and
Loiter] to send you an early copy of my "Criminal Queens." I have
already settled with my friend Mr Broune that I am to do your "New
Tale of a Tub" in the "Breakfast Table." Indeed, I am about it
now, and am taking great pains with it. If there is anything you
wish to have specially said as to your view of the Protestantism
of the time, let me know. I should like you to say a word as to
the accuracy of my historical details, which I know you can safely
do. Don't put it off, as the sale does so much depend on early
notices. I am only getting a royalty, which does not commence till
the first four hundred are sold.
ALFRED BOOKER, ESQ.,
"Literary Chronicle" Office, Strand.
There was nothing in this which shocked Mr Booker. He laughed
inwardly, with a pleasantly reticent chuckle, as he thought of Lady
Carbury dealing with his views of Protestantism,--as he thought also
of the numerous historical errors into which that clever lady must
inevitably fall in writing about matters of which he believed her to
know nothing. But he was quite alive to the fact that a favourable
notice in the 'Breakfast Table' of his very thoughtful work, called
the 'New Tale of a Tub,' would serve him, even though written by the
hand of a female literary charlatan, and he would have no compunction
as to repaying the service by fulsome praise in the 'Literary
Chronicle.' He would not probably say that the book was accurate, but
he would be able to declare that it was delightful reading, that the
feminine characteristics of the queens had been touched with a
masterly hand, and that the work was one which would certainly make
its way into all drawing-rooms. He was an adept at this sort of work,
and knew well how to review such a book as Lady Carbury's 'Criminal
Queens,' without bestowing much trouble on the reading. He could
almost do it without cutting the book, so that its value for purposes
of after sale might not be injured. And yet Mr Booker was an honest
man, and had set his face persistently against many literary
malpractices. Stretched-out type, insufficient lines, and the French
habit of meandering with a few words over an entire page, had been
rebuked by him with conscientious strength. He was supposed to be
rather an Aristides among reviewers. But circumstanced as he was he
could not oppose himself altogether to the usages of the time. 'Bad;
of course it is bad,' he said to a young friend who was working with
him on his periodical. 'Who doubts that? How many very bad things are
there that we do! But if we were to attempt to reform all our bad ways
at once, we should never do any good thing. I am not strong enough to
put the world straight, and I doubt if you are.' Such was Mr Booker.
Then there was letter No. 3, to Mr Ferdinand Alf. Mr Alf managed, and,
as it was supposed, chiefly owned, the 'Evening Pulpit,' which during
the last two years had become 'quite a property,' as men connected
with the press were in the habit of saying. The 'Evening Pulpit' was
supposed to give daily to its readers all that had been said and done
up to two o'clock in the day by all the leading people in the
metropolis, and to prophesy with wonderful accuracy what would be the
sayings and doings of the twelve following hours. This was effected
with an air of wonderful omniscience, and not unfrequently with an
ignorance hardly surpassed by its arrogance. But the writing was
clever. The facts, if not true, were well invented; the arguments, if
not logical, were seductive. The presiding spirit of the paper had the
gift, at any rate, of knowing what the people for whom he catered
would like to read, and how to get his subjects handled so that the
reading should be pleasant. Mr Booker's 'Literary Chronicle' did not
presume to entertain any special political opinions. The 'Breakfast
Table' was decidedly Liberal. The 'Evening Pulpit' was much given to
politics, but held strictly to the motto which it had assumed;--
Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri
and consequently had at all times the invaluable privilege of abusing
what was being done, whether by one side or by the other. A newspaper
that wishes to make its fortune should never waste its columns and
weary its readers by praising anything. Eulogy is invariably dull,--a
fact that Mr Alf had discovered and had utilized.
Mr Alf had, moreover, discovered another fact. Abuse from those who
occasionally praise is considered to be personally offensive, and they
who give personal offence will sometimes make the world too hot to
hold them. But censure from those who are always finding fault is
regarded so much as a matter of course that it ceases to be
objectionable. The caricaturist, who draws only caricatures, is held
to be justifiable, let him take what liberties he may with a man's
face and person. It is his trade, and his business calls upon him to
vilify all that he touches. But were an artist to publish a series of
portraits, in which two out of a dozen were made to be hideous, he
would certainly make two enemies, if not more. Mr Alf never made
enemies, for he praised no one, and, as far as the expression of his
newspaper went, was satisfied with nothing.
Personally, Mr Alf was a remarkable man. No one knew whence he came or
what he had been. He was supposed to have been born a German Jew; and
certain ladies said that they could distinguish in his tongue the
slightest possible foreign accent. Nevertheless it was conceded to him
that he knew England as only an Englishman can know it. During the
last year or two he had 'come up' as the phrase goes, and had come up
very thoroughly. He had been blackballed at three or four clubs, but
had effected an entrance at two or three others, and had learned a
manner of speaking of those which had rejected him calculated to leave
on the minds of hearers a conviction that the societies in question
were antiquated, imbecile, and moribund. He was never weary of
implying that not to know Mr Alf, not to be on good terms with Mr Alf,
not to understand that let Mr Alf have been born where he might and
how he might he was always to be recognized as a desirable
acquaintance, was to be altogether out in the dark. And that which he
so constantly asserted, or implied, men and women around him began at
last to believe,--and Mr Alf became an acknowledged something in the
different worlds of politics, letters, and fashion.
He was a good-looking man, about forty years old, but carrying himself
as though he was much younger, spare, below the middle height, with
dark brown hair which would have shown a tinge of grey but for the
dyer's art, with well-cut features, with a smile constantly on his
mouth the pleasantness of which was always belied by the sharp
severity of his eyes. He dressed with the utmost simplicity, but also
with the utmost care. He was unmarried, had a small house of his own
close to Berkeley Square at which he gave remarkable dinner parties,
kept four or five hunters in Northamptonshire, and was reputed to earn
£6,000 a year out of the 'Evening Pulpit' and to spend about half of
that income. He also was intimate after his fashion with Lady Carbury,
whose diligence in making and fostering useful friendships had been
unwearied. Her letter to Mr Alf was as follows:
DEAR MR ALF,
Do tell me who wrote the review on Fitzgerald Barker's last poem.
Only I know you won't. I remember nothing done so well. I should
think the poor wretch will hardly hold his head up again before
the autumn. But it was fully deserved. I have no patience with the
pretensions of would-be poets who contrive by toadying and
underground influences to get their volumes placed on every
drawing-room table. I know no one to whom the world has been so
good-natured in this way as to Fitzgerald Barker, but I have heard
of no one who has extended the good nature to the length of
reading his poetry.
Is it not singular how some men continue to obtain the reputation
of popular authorship without adding a word to the literature of
their country worthy of note? It is accomplished by unflagging
assiduity in the system of puffing. To puff and to get one's self
puffed have become different branches of a new profession. Alas,
me! I wish I might find a class open in which lessons could be
taken by such a poor tyro as myself. Much as I hate the thing from
my very soul, and much as I admire the consistency with which the
'Pulpit' has opposed it, I myself am so much in want of support
for my own little efforts, and am struggling so hard honestly to
make for myself a remunerative career, that I think, were the
opportunity offered to me, I should pocket my honour, lay aside
the high feeling which tells me that praise should be bought
neither by money nor friendship, and descend among the low things,
in order that I might one day have the pride of feeling that I had
succeeded by my own work in providing for the needs of my
But I have not as yet commenced the descent downwards; and
therefore I am still bold enough to tell you that I shall look,
not with concern but with a deep interest, to anything which may
appear in the 'Pulpit' respecting my 'Criminal Queens.' I venture
to think that the book,--though I wrote it myself,--has an
importance of its own which will secure for it some notice. That
my inaccuracy will be laid bare and presumption scourged I do not
in the least doubt, but I think your reviewer will be able to
certify that the sketches are lifelike and the portraits well
considered. You will not hear me told, at any rate, that I had
better sit at home and darn my stockings, as you said the other
day of that poor unfortunate Mrs Effington Stubbs.
I have not seen you for the last three weeks. I have a few friends
every Tuesday evening;--pray come next week or the week following.
And pray believe that no amount of editorial or critical severity
shall make me receive you otherwise than with a smile.
Most sincerely yours,
Lady Carbury, having finished her third letter, threw herself back in
her chair, and for a moment or two closed her eyes, as though about to
rest. But she soon remembered that the activity of her life did not
admit of such rest. She therefore seized her pen and began scribbling
CHAPTER II - THE CARBURY FAMILY
Something of herself and condition Lady Carbury has told the reader in
the letters given in the former chapter, but more must be added. She
has declared she had been cruelly slandered; but she has also shown
that she was not a woman whose words about herself could be taken with
much confidence. If the reader does not understand so much from her
letters to the three editors they have been written in vain. She has
been made to say that her object in work was to provide for the need
of her children, and that with that noble purpose before her she was
struggling to make for herself a career in literature. Detestably
false as had been her letters to the editors, absolutely and
abominably foul as was the entire system by which she was endeavouring
to achieve success, far away from honour and honesty as she had been
carried by her ready subserviency to the dirty things among which she
had lately fallen, nevertheless her statements about herself were
substantially true. She had been ill-treated. She had been slandered.
She was true to her children,--especially devoted to one of them--and
was ready to work her nails off if by doing so she could advance their
She was the widow of one Sir Patrick Carbury, who many years since had
done great things as a soldier in India, and had been thereupon
created a baronet. He had married a young wife late in life and,
having found out when too late that he had made a mistake, had
occasionally spoilt his darling and occasionally ill-used her. In
doing each he had done it abundantly. Among Lady Carbury's faults had
never been that of even incipient,--not even of sentimental--infidelity
to her husband. When as a lovely and penniless girl of eighteen she
had consented to marry a man of forty-four who had the spending of a
large income, she had made up her mind to abandon all hope of that
sort of love which poets describe and which young people generally
desire to experience. Sir Patrick at the time of his marriage was
red-faced, stout, bald, very choleric, generous in money, suspicious
in temper, and intelligent. He knew how to govern men. He could read
and understand a book. There was nothing mean about him. He had his
attractive qualities. He was a man who might be loved,--but he was
hardly a man for love. The young Lady Carbury had understood her
position and had determined to do her duty. She had resolved before
she went to the altar that she would never allow herself to flirt and
she had never flirted. For fifteen years things had gone tolerably
well with her,--by which it is intended that the reader should
understand that they had so gone that she had been able to tolerate
them. They had been home in England for three or four years, and then
Sir Patrick had returned with some new and higher appointment. For
fifteen years, though he had been passionate, imperious, and often
cruel, he had never been jealous. A boy and a girl had been born to
them, to whom both father and mother had been over indulgent,--but the
mother, according to her lights, had endeavoured to do her duty by
them. But from the commencement of her life she had been educated in
deceit, and her married life had seemed to make the practice of deceit
necessary to her. Her mother had run away from her father, and she had
been tossed to and fro between this and that protector, sometimes
being in danger of wanting any one to care for her, till she had been
made sharp, incredulous, and untrustworthy by the difficulties of her
position. But she was clever, and had picked up an education and good
manners amidst the difficulties of her childhood,--and had been
beautiful to look at.
To marry and have the command of money, to do her duty correctly, to
live in a big house and be respected, had been her ambition,--and during
the first fifteen years of her married life she was successful amidst
great difficulties. She would smile within five minutes of violent
ill-usage. Her husband would even strike her,--and the first effort of
her mind would be given to conceal the fact from all the world. In
latter years he drank too much, and she struggled hard first to
prevent the evil, and then to prevent and to hide the ill effects of
the evil. But in doing all this she schemed, and lied, and lived a
life of manoeuvres. Then, at last, when she felt that she was no
longer quite a young woman, she allowed herself to attempt to form
friendships for herself, and among her friends was one of the other
sex. If fidelity in a wife be compatible with such friendship, if the
married state does not exact from a woman the necessity of debarring
herself from all friendly intercourse with any man except her lord,
Lady Carbury was not faithless. But Sir Carbury became jealous, spoke
words which even she could not endure, did things which drove even her
beyond the calculations of her prudence,--and she left him. But even
this she did in so guarded a way that, as to every step she took, she
could prove her innocence. Her life at that period is of little moment
to our story, except that it is essential that the reader should know
in what she had been slandered. For a month or two all hard words had
been said against her by her husband's friends, and even by Sir
Patrick himself. But gradually the truth was known, and after a year's
separation they came again together and she remained the mistress of
his house till he died. She brought him home to England, but during
the short period left to him of life in his old country he had been a
worn-out, dying invalid. But the scandal of her great misfortune had
followed her, and some people were never tired of reminding others
that in the course of her married life Lady Carbury had run away from
her husband, and had been taken back again by the kind-hearted old
Sir Patrick had left behind him a moderate fortune, though by no means
great wealth. To his son, who was now Sir Felix Carbury, he had left
£1,000 a year; and to his widow as much, with a provision that after
her death the latter sum should be divided between his son and
daughter. It therefore came to pass that the young man, who had
already entered the army when his father died, and upon whom devolved
no necessity of keeping a house, and who in fact not unfrequently
lived in his mother's house, had an income equal to that with which
his mother and sister were obliged to maintain a roof over their head.
Now Lady Carbury, when she was released from her thraldom at the age
of forty, had no idea at all of passing her future life amidst the
ordinary penances of widowhood. She had hitherto endeavoured to do her
duty, knowing that in accepting her position she was bound to take the
good and the bad together. She had certainly encountered hitherto much
that was bad. To be scolded, watched, beaten, and sworn at by a
choleric old man till she was at last driven out of her house by the
violence of his ill-usage; to be taken back as a favour with the
assurance that her name would for the remainder of her life be
unjustly tarnished; to have her flight constantly thrown in her face;
and then at last to become for a year or two the nurse of a dying
debauchee, was a high price to pay for such good things as she had
hitherto enjoyed. Now at length had come to her a period of relaxation
--her reward, her freedom, her chance of happiness. She thought much
about herself, and resolved on one or two things. The time for love
had gone by, and she would have nothing to do with it. Nor would she
marry again for convenience. But she would have friends,--real friends;
friends who could help her,--and whom possibly she might help. She
would, too, make some career for herself, so that life might not be
without an interest to her. She would live in London, and would become
somebody at any rate in some circle. Accident at first rather than
choice had thrown her among literary people, but that accident had,
during the last two years, been supported and corroborated by the
desire which had fallen upon her of earning money. She had known from
the first that economy would be necessary to her,--not chiefly or
perhaps not at all from a feeling that she and her daughter could not
live comfortably together on a thousand a year,--but on behalf of her
son. She wanted no luxury but a house so placed that people might
conceive of her that she lived in a proper part of the town. Of her
daughter's prudence she was as well convinced as of her own. She could
trust Henrietta in everything. But her son, Sir Felix, was not very
trustworthy. And yet Sir Felix was the darling of her heart.
At the time of the writing of the three letters, at which our story is
supposed to begin, she was driven very hard for money. Sir Felix was
then twenty-five, had been in a fashionable regiment for four years,
had already sold out, and, to own the truth at once, had altogether
wasted the property which his father had left him. So much the mother
knew,--and knew, therefore, that with her limited income she must
maintain not only herself and daughter, but also the baronet. She did
not know, however, the amount of the baronet's obligations;--nor,
indeed, did he, or any one else. A baronet, holding a commission in
the Guards, and known to have had a fortune left him by his father,
may go very far in getting into debt; and Sir Felix had made full use
of all his privileges. His life had been in every way bad. He had
become a burden on his mother so heavy,--and on his sister also,--that
their life had become one of unavoidable embarrassments. But not for a
moment, had either of them ever quarrelled with him. Henrietta had
been taught by the conduct of both father and mother that every vice
might be forgiven in a man and in a son, though every virtue was
expected from a woman, and especially from a daughter. The lesson had
come to her so early in life that she had learned it without the
feeling of any grievance. She lamented her brother's evil conduct as
it affected him, but she pardoned it altogether as it affected
herself. That all her interests in life should be made subservient to
him was natural to her; and when she found that her little comforts
were discontinued, and her moderate expenses curtailed, because he,
having eaten up all that was his own, was now eating up also all that
was his mother's, she never complained. Henrietta had been taught to
think that men in that rank of life in which she had been born always
did eat up everything.
The mother's feeling was less noble.--or perhaps, it might better be
said, more open to censure. The boy, who had been beautiful as a star,
had ever been the cynosure of her eyes, the one thing on which her
heart had riveted itself. Even during the career of his folly she had
hardly ventured to say a word to him with the purport of stopping him
on his road to ruin. In everything she had spoilt him as a boy, and in
everything she still spoilt him as a man. She was almost proud of his
vices, and had taken delight in hearing of doings which if not vicious
of themselves had been ruinous from their extravagance. She had so
indulged him that even in her own presence he was never ashamed of his
own selfishness or apparently conscious of the injustice which he did
From all this it had come to pass that that dabbling in literature
which had been commenced partly perhaps from a sense of pleasure in
the work, partly as a passport into society, had been converted into
hard work by which money if possible might be earned. So that Lady
Carbury when she wrote to her friends, the editors, of her struggles
was speaking the truth. Tidings had reached her of this and the other
man's success, and,--coming near to her still,--of this and that other
woman's earnings in literature. And it had seemed to her that, within
moderate limits, she might give a wide field to her hopes. Why should
she not add a thousand a year to her income, so that Felix might again
live like a gentleman and marry that heiress who, in Lady Carbury's
look-out into the future, was destined to make all things straight!
Who was so handsome as her son? Who could make himself more agreeable?
Who had more of that audacity which is the chief thing necessary to
the winning of heiresses?
And then he could make his wife Lady Carbury. If only enough money
might be earned to tide over the present evil day, all might be well.
The one most essential obstacle to the chance of success in all this
was probably Lady Carbury's conviction that her end was to be obtained
not by producing good books, but by inducing certain people to say
that her books were good. She did work hard at what she wrote,--hard
enough at any rate to cover her pages quickly; and was, by nature, a
clever woman. She could write after a glib, commonplace, sprightly
fashion, and had already acquired the knack of spreading all she knew
very thin, so that it might cover a vast surface. She had no ambition
to write a good book, but was painfully anxious to write a book that
the critics should say was good. Had Mr Broune, in his closet, told
her that her book was absolutely trash, but had undertaken at the same
time to have it violently praised in the 'Breakfast Table', it may be
doubted whether the critic's own opinion would have even wounded her
vanity. The woman was false from head to foot, but there was much of
good in her, false though she was.
Whether Sir Felix, her son, had become what he was solely by bad
training, or whether he had been born bad, who shall say? It is hardly
possible that he should not have been better had he been taken away as
an infant and subjected to moral training by moral teachers. And yet
again it is hardly possible that any training or want of training
should have produced a heart so utterly incapable of feeling for
others as was his. He could not even feel his own misfortunes unless
they touched the outward comforts of the moment. It seemed that he
lacked sufficient imagination to realise future misery though the
futurity to be considered was divided from the present but by a single
month, a single week,--but by a single night. He liked to be kindly
treated, to be praised and petted, to be well fed and caressed; and
they who so treated him were his chosen friends. He had in this the
instincts of a horse, not approaching the higher sympathies of a dog.
But it cannot be said of him that he had ever loved any one to the
extent of denying himself a moment's gratification on that loved one's
behalf. His heart was a stone. But he was beautiful to lock at,
ready-witted, and intelligent. He was very dark, with that soft olive
complexion which so generally gives to young men an appearance of
aristocratic breeding. His hair, which was never allowed to become
long, was nearly black, and was soft and silky without that taint of
grease which is so common with silken-headed darlings. His eyes were
long, brown in colour, and were made beautiful by the perfect arch of
the perfect eyebrow. But perhaps the glory of the face was due more to
the finished moulding and fine symmetry of the nose and mouth than to
his other features. On his short upper lip he had a moustache as well
formed as his eyebrows, but he wore no other beard. The form of his
chin too was perfect, but it lacked that sweetness and softness of
expression, indicative of softness of heart, which a dimple conveys.
He was about five feet nine in height, and was as excellent in figure
as in face. It was admitted by men and clamorously asserted by women
that no man had ever been more handsome than Felix Carbury, and it
was admitted also that he never showed consciousness of his beauty. He
had given himself airs on many scores;--on the score of his money, poor
fool, while it lasted; on the score of his title; on the score of his
army standing till he lost it; and especially on the score of
superiority in fashionable intellect. But he had been clever enough to
dress himself always with simplicity and to avoid the appearance of
thought about his outward man. As yet the little world of his
associates had hardly found out how callous were his affections,--or
rather how devoid he was of affection. His airs and his appearance,
joined with some cleverness, had carried him through even the
viciousness of his life. In one matter he had marred his name, and by
a moment's weakness had injured his character among his friends more
than he had done by the folly of three years. There had been a quarrel
between him and a brother officer, in which he had been the aggressor;
and, when the moment came in which a man's heart should have produced
manly conduct, he had first threatened and had then shown the white
feather. That was now a year since, and he had partly outlived the
evil;--but some men still remembered that Felix Carbury had been cowed,
and had cowered.
It was now his business to marry an heiress. He was well aware that it
was so, and was quite prepared to face his destiny. But he lacked
something in the art of making love. He was beautiful, had the manners
of a gentleman, could talk well, lacked nothing of audacity, and had
no feeling of repugnance at declaring a passion which he did not feel.
But he knew so little of the passion, that he could hardly make even a
young girl believe that he felt it. When he talked of love, he not
only thought that he was talking nonsense, but showed that he thought
so. From this fault he had already failed with one young lady reputed
to have £40,000, who had refused him because, as she naively said, she
knew 'he did not really care.' 'How can I show that I care more than
by wishing to make you my wife?' he had asked. 'I don't know that you
can, but all the same you don't care,' she said. And so that young
lady escaped the pitfall. Now there was another young lady, to whom
the reader shall be introduced in time, whom Sir Felix was instigated
to pursue with unremitting diligence. Her wealth was not defined, as
had been the £40,000 of her predecessor, but was known to be very much
greater than that. It was, indeed, generally supposed to be
fathomless, bottomless, endless. It was said that in regard to money
for ordinary expenditure, money for houses, servants, horses, jewels,
and the like, one sum was the same as another to the father of this
young lady. He had great concerns;--concerns so great that the payment
of ten or twenty thousand pounds upon any trifle was the same thing to
him,--as to men who are comfortable in their circumstances it matters
little whether they pay sixpence or ninepence for their mutton chops.
Such a man may be ruined at any time; but there was no doubt that to
anyone marrying his daughter during the present season of his
outrageous prosperity he could give a very large fortune indeed. Lady
Carbury, who had known the rock on which her son had been once
wrecked, was very anxious that Sir Felix should at once make a proper
use of the intimacy which he had effected in the house of this topping
Croesus of the day.
And now there must be a few words said about Henrietta Carbury. Of
course she was of infinitely less importance than her brother, who was
a baronet, the head of that branch of the Carburys, and her mother's
darling; and, therefore, a few words should suffice. She also was very
lovely, being like her brother; but somewhat less dark and with
features less absolutely regular. But she had in her countenance a
full measure of that sweetness of expression which seems to imply that
consideration of self is subordinated to consideration for others.
This sweetness was altogether lacking to her brother. And her face was
a true index of her character. Again, who shall say why the brother
and sister had become so opposite to each other; whether they would
have been thus different had both been taken away as infants from
their father's and mother's training, or whether the girl's virtues
were owing altogether to the lower place which she had held in her
parent's heart? She, at any rate, had not been spoilt by a title, by
the command of money, and by the temptations of too early acquaintance
with the world. At the present time she was barely twenty-one years
old, and had not seen much of London society. Her mother did not
frequent balls, and during the last two years there had grown upon
them a necessity for economy which was inimical to many gloves and
costly dresses. Sir Felix went out of course, but Hetta Carbury spent
most of her time at home with her mother in Welbeck Street.
Occasionally the world saw her, and when the world did see her the
world declared that she was a charming girl. The world was so far
But for Henrietta Carbury the romance of life had already commenced in
real earnest. There was another branch of the Carburys, the head
branch, which was now represented by one Roger Carbury, of Carbury
Hall. Roger Carbury was a gentleman of whom much will have to be said,
but here, at this moment, it need only be told that he was
passionately in love with his cousin Henrietta. He was, however,
nearly forty years old, and there was one Paul Montague whom Henrietta
CHAPTER III - THE BEARGARDEN
Lady Carbury's house in Welbeck Street was a modest house enough,
--with no pretensions to be a mansion, hardly assuming even to be a
residence; but, having some money in her hands when she first took it,
she had made it pretty and pleasant, and was still proud to feel that
in spite of the hardness of her position she had comfortable
belongings around her when her literary friends came to see her on her
Tuesday evenings. Here she was now living with her son and daughter.
The back drawing-room was divided from the front by doors that were
permanently closed, and in this she carried on her great work. Here
she wrote her books and contrived her system for the inveigling of
editors and critics. Here she was rarely disturbed by her daughter,
and admitted no visitors except editors and critics. But her son was
controlled by no household laws, and would break in upon her privacy
without remorse. She had hardly finished two galloping notes after
completing her letter to Mr Ferdinand Alf, when Felix entered the room
with a cigar in his mouth and threw himself upon the sofa.
'My dear boy,' she said, 'pray leave your tobacco below when you come
'What affectation it is, mother,' he said, throwing, however, the
half-smoked cigar into the fire-place. 'Some women swear they like
smoke, others say they hate it like the devil. It depends altogether
on whether they wish to flatter or snub a fellow.'
'You don't suppose that I wish to snub you?'
'Upon my word I don't know. I wonder whether you can let me have
'My dear Felix!'
'Just so, mother;--but how about the twenty pounds?'
'What is it for, Felix?'
'Well;--to tell the truth, to carry on the game for the nonce till
something is settled. A fellow can't live without some money in his
pocket. I do with as little as most fellows. I pay for nothing that I
can help. I even get my hair cut on credit, and as long as it was
possible I had a brougham, to save cabs.'
'What is to be the end of it, Felix?'
'I never could see the end of anything, mother. I never could nurse a
horse when the hounds were going well in order to be in at the finish.
I never could pass a dish that I liked in favour of those that were to
follow. What's the use?' The young man did not say 'carpe diem,' but
that was the philosophy which he intended to preach.
'Have you been at the Melmottes' to-day?' It was now five o'clock on a
winter afternoon, the hour at which ladies are drinking tea, and idle
men playing whist at the clubs,--at which young idle men are sometimes
allowed to flirt, and at which, as Lady Carbury thought, her son might
have been paying his court to Marie Melmotte the great heiress.
'I have just come away.'
'And what do you think of her?'
'To tell the truth, mother, I have thought very little about her. She
is not pretty, she is not plain; she is not clever, she is not stupid;
she is neither saint nor sinner.'
'The more likely to make a good wife.'
'Perhaps so. I am at any rate quite willing to believe that as wife
she would be good enough for me.'
'What does the mother say?'
'The mother is a caution. I cannot help speculating whether, if I
marry the daughter, I shall ever find out where the mother came from.
Dolly Longestaffe says that somebody says that she was a Bohemian
Jewess; but I think she's too fat for that.'
'What does it matter, Felix?'
'Not in the least'
'Is she civil to you?'
'Yes, civil enough.'
'And the father?'
'Well, he does not turn me out, or anything of that sort. Of course
there are half-a-dozen after her, and I think the old fellow is
bewildered among them all. He's thinking more of getting dukes to dine
with him than of his daughter's lovers. Any fellow might pick her up
who happened to hit her fancy.'
'And why not you?'
'Why not, mother? I am doing my best, and it's no good flogging a
willing horse. Can you let me have the money?'
'Oh, Felix, I think you hardly know how poor we are. You have still
got your hunters down at the place!'
'I have got two horses, if you mean that; and I haven't paid a
shilling for their keep since the season began. Look here, mother;
this is a risky sort of game, I grant, but I am playing it by your
advice. If I can marry Miss Melmotte, I suppose all will be right. But
I don't think the way to get her would be to throw up everything and
let all the world know that I haven't got a copper. To do that kind of
thing a man must live a little up to the mark. I've brought my hunting
down to a minimum, but if I gave it up altogether there would be lots
of fellows to tell them in Grosvenor Square why I had done so.'
There was an apparent truth in this argument which the poor woman was
unable to answer. Before the interview was over the money demanded was
forthcoming, though at the time it could be but ill afforded, and the
youth went away apparently with a light heart, hardly listening to his
mother's entreaties that the affair with Marie Melmotte might, if
possible, be brought to a speedy conclusion.
Felix, when he left his mother, went down to the only club to which he
now belonged. Clubs are pleasant resorts in all respects but one. They
require ready money or even worse than that in respect to annual
payments,--money in advance; and the young baronet had been absolutely
forced to restrict himself. He, as a matter of course, out of those to
which he had possessed the right of entrance, chose the worst. It was
called the Beargarden, and had been lately opened with the express
view of combining parsimony with profligacy. Clubs were ruined, so
said certain young parsimonious profligates, by providing comforts for
old fogies who paid little or nothing but their subscriptions, and
took out by their mere presence three times as much as they gave. This
club was not to be opened till three o'clock in the afternoon, before
which hour the promoters of the Beargarden thought it improbable that
they and their fellows would want a club. There were to be no morning
papers taken, no library, no morning-room. Dining-rooms,
billiard-rooms, and card-rooms would suffice for the Beargarden.
Everything was to be provided by a purveyor, so that the club should
be cheated only by one man. Everything was to be luxurious, but the
luxuries were to be achieved at first cost. It had been a happy
thought, and the club was said to prosper. Herr Vossner, the purveyor,
was a jewel, and so carried on affairs that there was no trouble about
anything. He would assist even in smoothing little difficulties as to
the settling of card accounts, and had behaved with the greatest
tenderness to the drawers of cheques whose bankers had harshly
declared them to have 'no effects.' Herr Vossner was a jewel, and the
Beargarden was a success. Perhaps no young man about town enjoyed the
Beargarden more thoroughly than did Sir Felix Carbury. The club was in
the close vicinity of other clubs, in a small street turning out of
St. James's Street, and piqued itself on its outward quietness and
sobriety. Why pay for stone-work for other people to look at;--why lay
out money in marble pillars and cornices, seeing that you can neither
eat such things, nor drink them, nor gamble with them? But the
Beargarden had the best wines--or thought that it had--and the easiest
chairs, and two billiard-tables than which nothing more perfect had
ever been made to stand upon legs. Hither Sir Felix wended on that
January afternoon as soon as he had his mother's cheque for £20 in his
He found his special friend, Dolly Longestaffe, standing on the steps
with a cigar in his mouth, and gazing vacantly at the dull brick house
opposite. 'Going to dine here, Dolly?' said Sir Felix.
'I suppose I shall, because it's such a lot of trouble to go anywhere
else. I'm engaged somewhere, I know; but I'm not up to getting home
and dressing. By George! I don't know how fellows do that kind of
thing. I can't.'
'Going to hunt to-morrow?'
'Well, yes; but I don't suppose I shall. I was going to hunt every day
last week, but my fellow never would get me up in time. I can't tell
why it is that things are done in such a beastly way. Why shouldn't
fellows begin to hunt at two or three, so that a fellow needn't get up
in the middle of the night?'
'Because one can't ride by moonlight, Dolly.'
'It isn't moonlight at three. At any rate I can't get myself to Euston
Square by nine. I don't think that fellow of mine likes getting up
himself. He says he comes in and wakes me, but I never remember it.'
'How many horses have you got at Leighton, Dolly?'
'How many? There were five, but I think that fellow down there sold
one; but then I think he bought another. I know he did something.'
'Who rides them?'
'He does, I suppose. That is, of course, I ride them myself, only I so
seldom get down. Somebody told me that Grasslough was riding two of
them last week. I don't think I ever told him he might. I think he
tipped that fellow of mine; and I call that a low kind of thing to do.
I'd ask him, only I know he'd say that I had lent them. Perhaps I did
when I was tight, you know.'
'You and Grasslough were never pals.'
'I don't like him a bit. He gives himself airs because he is a lord,
and is devilish ill-natured. I don't know why he should want to ride
'To save his own.'
'He isn't hard up. Why doesn't he have his own horses? I'll tell you
what, Carbury, I've made up my mind to one thing, and, by Jove, I'll
stick to it. I never will lend a horse again to anybody. If fellows
want horses let them buy them.'
'But some fellows haven't got any money, Dolly.'
'Then they ought to go tick. I don't think I've paid for any of mine
I've bought this season. There was somebody here yesterday--'
'What! here at the club?'
'Yes; followed me here to say he wanted to be paid for something! It
was horses, I think because of the fellow's trousers.'
'What did you say?'
'Me! Oh, I didn't say anything.'
'And how did it end?'
'When he'd done talking I offered him a cigar, and while he was biting
off the end went upstairs. I suppose he went away when he was tired of
'I'll tell you what, Dolly; I wish you'd let me ride two of yours for
a couple of days,--that is, of course, if you don't want them yourself.
You ain't tight now, at any rate.'
'No; I ain't tight,' said Dolly, with melancholy acquiescence.
'I mean that I wouldn't like to borrow your horses without your
remembering all about it. Nobody knows as well as you do how awfully
done up I am. I shall pull through at last, but it's an awful squeeze
in the meantime. There's nobody I'd ask such a favour of except you.'
'Well, you may have them;--that is, for two days. I don't know whether
that fellow of mine will believe you. He wouldn't believe Grasslough,
and told him so. But Grasslough took them out of the stables. That's
what somebody told me.'
'You could write a line to your groom.'
'Oh my dear fellow, that is such a bore; I don't think I could do
that. My fellow will believe you, because you and I have been pals. I
think I'll have a little drop of curacoa before dinner. Come along and
try it. It'll give us an appetite.'
It was then nearly seven o'clock. Nine hours afterwards the same two
men, with two others--of whom young Lord Grasslough, Dolly
Longestaffe's peculiar aversion, was one--were just rising from a
card-table in one of the upstairs rooms of the club. For it was
understood that, though the Beargarden was not to be open before three
o'clock in the afternoon, the accommodation denied during the day was
to be given freely during the night. No man could get a breakfast at
the Beargarden, but suppers at three o'clock in the morning were quite
within the rule. Such a supper, or rather succession of suppering,
there had been to-night, various devils and broils and hot toasts
having been brought up from time to time first for one and then for
another. But there had been no cessation of gambling since the cards
had first been opened about ten o'clock. At four in the morning Dolly
Longestaffe was certainly in a condition to lend his horses and to
remember nothing about it. He was quite affectionate with Lord
Grasslough, as he was also with his other companions,--affection being
the normal state of his mind when in that condition. He was by no
means helplessly drunk, and was, perhaps, hardly more silly than when
he was sober; but he was willing to play at any game whether he
understood it or not, and for any stakes. When Sir Felix got up and
said he would play no more, Dolly also got up, apparently quite
contented. When Lord Grasslough, with a dark scowl on his face,
expressed his opinion that it was not just the thing for men to break
up like that when so much money had been lost, Dolly as willingly sat
down again. But Dolly's sitting down was not sufficient. 'I'm going to
hunt to-morrow,' said Sir Felix--meaning that day,--'and I shall play no
more. A man must go to bed at some time.'
'I don't see it at all,' said Lord Grasslough. 'It's an understood
thing that when a man has won as much as you have he should stay.'
'Stay how long?' said Sir Felix, with an angry look. 'That's nonsense;
there must be an end of everything, and there's an end of this for me
'Oh, if you choose,' said his lordship.
'I do choose. Good night, Dolly; we'll settle this next time we meet.
I've got it all entered.'
The night had been one very serious in its results to Sir Felix. He
had sat down to the card-table with the proceeds of his mother's
cheque, a poor £20, and now he had,--he didn't at all know how much in
his pockets. He also had drunk, but not so as to obscure his mind. He
knew that Longestaffe owed him over £300, and he knew also that he had
received more than that in ready money and cheques from Lord
Grasslough and the other player. Dolly Longestaffe's money, too, would
certainly be paid, though Dolly did complain of the importunity of his
tradesmen. As he walked up St. James's Street, looking for a cab, he
presumed himself to be worth over £700. When begging for a small sum
from Lady Carbury, he had said that he could not carry on the game
without some ready money, and had considered himself fortunate in
fleecing his mother as he had done. Now he was in the possession of
wealth,--of wealth that might, at any rate, be sufficient to aid him
materially in the object he had in hand. He never for a moment thought
of paying his bills. Even the large sum of which he had become so
unexpectedly possessed would not have gone far with him in such a
quixotic object as that; but he could now look bright, and buy
presents, and be seen with money in his hands. It is hard even to make
love in these days without something in your purse.
He found no cab, but in his present frame of mind was indifferent to
the trouble of walking home. There was something so joyous in the
feeling of the possession of all this money that it made the night air
pleasant to him. Then, of a sudden, he remembered the low wail with
which his mother had spoken of her poverty when he demanded assistance
from her. Now he could give her back the £20. But it occurred to him
sharply, with an amount of carefulness quite new to him, that it would
be foolish to do so. How soon might he want it again? And, moreover,
he could not repay the money without explaining to her how he had
gotten it. It would be preferable to say nothing about his money. As
he let himself into the house and went up to his room he resolved that
he would not say anything about it.
On that morning he was at the station at nine, and hunted down in
Buckinghamshire, riding two of Dolly Longestaffe's horses for the use
of which he paid Dolly Longestaffe's 'fellow' thirty shilling.
CHAPTER IV - MADAME MELMOTTE'S BALL
The next night but one after that of the gambling transaction at the
Beargarden, a great ball was given in Grosvenor Square. It was a ball
on a scale so magnificent that it had been talked about ever since
Parliament met, now about a fortnight since. Some people had expressed
an opinion that such a ball as this was intended to be could not be
given successfully in February. Others declared that the money which
was to be spent,--an amount which would make this affair quite new in
the annals of ball-giving,--would give the thing such a character that
it would certainly be successful. And much more than money had been
expended. Almost incredible efforts had been made to obtain the
cooperation of great people, and these efforts had at last been
grandly successful. The Duchess of Stevenage had come up from Castle
Albury herself to be present at it and to bring her daughters, though
it has never been her Grace's wont to be in London at this inclement
season. No doubt the persuasion used with the Duchess had been very
strong. Her brother, Lord Alfred Grendall, was known to be in great
difficulties, which,--so people said,--had been considerably modified by
opportune pecuniary assistance. And then it was certain that one of
the young Grendalls, Lord Alfred's second son, had been appointed to
some mercantile position, for which he received a salary which his
most intimate friends thought that he was hardly qualified to earn. It
was certainly a fact that he went to Abchurch Lane, in the City, four
or five days a week, and that he did not occupy his time in so
unaccustomed a manner for nothing. Where the Duchess of Stevenage went
all the world would go. And it became known at the last moment, that
is to say only the day before the party, that a prince of the blood
royal was to be there. How this had been achieved nobody quite
understood; but there were rumours that a certain lady's jewels had
been rescued from the pawnbroker's. Everything was done on the same
scale. The Prime Minister had indeed declined to allow his name to
appear on the list; but one Cabinet Minister and two or three
under-secretaries had agreed to come because it was felt that the
giver of the ball might before long be the master of considerable
parliamentary interest. It was believed that he had an eye to
politics, and it is always wise to have great wealth on one's own
side. There had at one time been much solicitude about the ball. Many
anxious thoughts had been given. When great attempts fail, the failure
is disastrous, and may be ruinous. But this ball had now been put
beyond the chance of failure.
The giver of the ball was Augustus Melmotte, Esq., the father of the
girl whom Sir Felix Carbury desired to marry, and the husband of the
lady who was said to have been a Bohemian Jewess. It was thus that the
gentleman chose to have himself designated, though within the last two
years he had arrived in London from Paris, and had at first been known
as M. Melmotte. But he had declared of himself that he had been born
in England, and that he was an Englishman. He admitted that his wife
was a foreigner,--an admission that was necessary as she spoke very
little English. Melmotte himself spoke his 'native' language fluently,
but with an accent which betrayed at least a long expatriation. Miss
Melmotte,--who a very short time since had been known as Mademoiselle
Marie,--spoke English well, but as a foreigner. In regard to her it was
acknowledged that she had been born out of England,--some said in New
York; but Madame Melmotte, who must have known, had declared that the
great event had taken place in Paris.
It was at any rate an established fact that Mr Melmotte had made his
wealth in France. He no doubt had had enormous dealings in other
countries, as to which stories were told which must surely have been
exaggerated. It was said that he had made a railway across Russia,
that he provisioned the Southern army in the American civil war, that
he had supplied Austria with arms, and had at one time bought up all
the iron in England. He could make or mar any company by buying or
selling stock, and could make money dear or cheap as he pleased. All
this was said of him in his praise,--but it was also said that he was
regarded in Paris as the most gigantic swindler that had ever lived;
that he had made that City too hot to hold him; that he had
endeavoured to establish himself in Vienna, but had been warned away
by the police; and that he had at length found that British freedom
would alone allow him to enjoy, without persecution, the fruits of his
industry. He was now established privately in Grosvenor Square and
officially in Abchurch Lane; and it was known to all the world that a
Royal Prince, a Cabinet Minister, and the very cream of duchesses were
going to his wife's ball. All this had been done within twelve months.
There was but one child in the family, one heiress for all this
wealth. Melmotte himself was a large man, with bushy whiskers and
rough thick hair, with heavy eyebrows, and a wonderful look of power
about his mouth and chin. This was so strong as to redeem his face
from vulgarity; but the countenance and appearance of the man were on
the whole unpleasant, and, I may say, untrustworthy. He looked as
though he were purse-proud and a bully. She was fat and fair,--unlike in
colour to our traditional Jewesses; but she had the Jewish nose and
the Jewish contraction of the eyes. There was certainly very little in
Madame Melmotte to recommend her, unless it was a readiness to spend
money on any object that might be suggested to her by her new
acquaintances. It sometimes seemed that she had a commission from her
husband to give away presents to any who would accept them. The world
had received the man as Augustus Melmotte, Esq. The world so addressed
him on the very numerous letters which reached him, and so inscribed
him among the directors of three dozen companies to which he belonged.
But his wife was still Madame Melmotte. The daughter had been allowed
to take her rank with an English title. She was now Miss Melmotte on
Marie Melmotte had been accurately described by Felix Carbury to his
mother. She was not beautiful, she was not clever, and she was not a
saint. But then neither was she plain, nor stupid, nor, especially, a
sinner. She was a little thing, hardly over twenty years of age, very
unlike her father or mother, having no trace of the Jewess in her
countenance, who seemed to be overwhelmed by the sense of her own
position. With such people as the Melmottes things go fast, and it was
very well known that Miss Melmotte had already had one lover who had
been nearly accepted. The affair, however, had gone off. In this
'going off' no one imputed to the young lady blame or even misfortune.
It was not supposed that she had either jilted or been jilted. As in
royal espousals interests of State regulate their expedience with an
acknowledged absence, with even a proclaimed impossibility, of
personal predilections, so in this case was money allowed to have the
same weight. Such a marriage would or would not be sanctioned in
accordance with great pecuniary arrangements. The young Lord
Nidderdale, the eldest son of the Marquis of Auld Reekie, had offered
to take the girl and make her Marchioness in the process of time for
half a million down. Melmotte had not objected to the sum,--so it was
said,--but had proposed to tie it up. Nidderdale had desired to have it
free in his own grasp, and would not move on any other terms. Melmotte
had been anxious to secure the Marquis,--very anxious to secure the
Marchioness; for at that time terms had not been made with the
Duchess; but at last he had lost his temper, and had asked his
lordship's lawyer whether it was likely that he would entrust such a
sum of money to such a man. 'You are willing to trust your only child
to him,' said the lawyer. Melmotte scowled at the man for a few
seconds from under his bushy eyebrows; then told him that his answer
had nothing in it, and marched out of the room. So that affair was
over. I doubt whether Lord Nidderdale had ever said a word of love to
Marie Melmotte,--or whether the poor girl had expected it. Her destiny
had no doubt been explained to her.
Others had tried and had broken down somewhat in the same fashion.
Each had treated the girl as an encumbrance he was to undertake,--at a
very great price. But as affairs prospered with the Melmottes, as
princes and duchesses were obtained by other means,--costly no doubt,
but not so ruinously costly,--the immediate disposition of Marie became
less necessary, and Melmotte reduced his offers. The girl herself,
too, began to have an opinion. It was said that she had absolutely
rejected Lord Grasslough, whose father indeed was in a state of
bankruptcy, who had no income of his own, who was ugly, vicious,
ill-tempered, and without any power of recommending himself to a girl.
She had had experience since Lord Nidderdale, with a half laugh, had
told her that he might just as well take her for his wife, and was now
tempted from time to time to contemplate her own happiness and her own
condition. People around were beginning to say that if Sir Felix
Carbury managed his affairs well he might be the happy man.
There was a considerable doubt whether Marie was the daughter of that
Jewish-looking woman. Enquiries had been made, but not successfully,
as to the date of the Melmotte marriage. There was an idea abroad that
Melmotte had got his first money with his wife, and had gotten it not
very long ago. Then other people said that Marie was not his daughter
at all. Altogether the mystery was rather pleasant as the money was
certain. Of the certainty of the money in daily use there could be no
doubt. There was the house. There was the furniture. There were the
carriages, the horses, the servants with the livery coats and powdered
heads, and the servants with the black coats and unpowdered heads.
There were the gems, and the presents, and all the nice things that
money can buy. There were two dinner parties every day, one at two
o'clock called lunch, and the other at eight. The tradesmen had
learned enough to be quite free of doubt, and in the City Mr
Melmotte's name was worth any money,--though his character was perhaps
worth but little.
The large house on the south side of Grosvenor Square was all ablaze
by ten o'clock. The broad verandah had been turned into a
conservatory, had been covered with boards contrived to look like
trellis-work, was heated with hot air and filled with exotics at some
fabulous price. A covered way had been made from the door, down across
the pathway, to the road, and the police had, I fear, been bribed to
frighten foot passengers into a belief that they were bound to go
round. The house had been so arranged that it was impossible to know
where you were, when once in it. The hall was a paradise. The
staircase was fairyland. The lobbies were grottoes rich with ferns.
Walls had been knocked away and arches had been constructed. The leads
behind had been supported and walled in, and covered and carpeted. The
ball had possession of the ground floor and first floor, and the house
seemed to be endless. 'It's to cost sixty thousand pounds,' said the
Marchioness of Auld Reekie to her old friend the Countess of
Mid-Lothian. The Marchioness had come in spite of her son's misfortune
when she heard that the Duchess of Stevenage was to be there. 'And
worse spent money never was wasted,' said the Countess. 'By all
accounts it was as badly come by,' said the Marchioness. Then the two
old noblewomen, one after the other, made graciously flattering
speeches to the much-worn Bohemian Jewess, who was standing in
fairyland to receive her guests, almost fainting under the greatness
of the occasion.
The three saloons on the first or drawing-room floor had been prepared
for dancing, and here Marie was stationed. The Duchess had however
undertaken to see that somebody should set the dancing going, and she
had commissioned her nephew Miles Grendall, the young gentleman who
now frequented the City, to give directions to the band and to make
himself generally useful. Indeed, there had sprung up a considerable
intimacy between the Grendall family,--that is Lord Alfred's branch of
the Grendalls,--and the Melmottes; which was as it should be, as each
could give much and each receive much. It was known that Lord Alfred
had not a shilling; but his brother was a duke and his sister was a
duchess, and for the last thirty years there had been one continual
anxiety for poor dear Alfred, who had tumbled into an unfortunate
marriage without a shilling, had spent his own moderate patrimony, had
three sons and three daughters, and had lived now for a very long time
entirely on the unwilling contributions of his noble relatives.
Melmotte could support the whole family in affluence without feeling
the burden;--and why should he not? There had once been an idea that
Miles should attempt to win the heiress, but it had soon been found
expedient to abandon it. Miles had no title, no position of his own,
and was hardly big enough for the place. It was in all respects better
that the waters of the fountain should be allowed to irrigate mildly
the whole Grendall family;--and so Miles went into the city.
The ball was opened by a quadrille in which Lord Buntingford, the
eldest son of the Duchess, stood up with Marie. Various arrangements
had been made, and this among them. We may say that it had been a part
of the bargain. Lord Buntingford had objected mildly, being a young
man devoted to business, fond of his own order, rather shy, and not
given to dancing. But he had allowed his mother to prevail. 'Of course
they are vulgar,' the Duchess had said,--'so much so as to be no longer
distasteful because of the absurdity of the thing. I dare say he
hasn't been very honest. When men make so much money, I don't know how
they can have been honest. Of course it's done for a purpose. It's all
very well saying that it isn't right, but what are we to do about
Alfred's children? Miles is to have £500 a-year. And then he is always
about the house. And between you and me they have got up those bills
of Alfred's, and have said they can lie in their safe till it suits
your uncle to pay them.'
'They will lie there a long time,' said Lord Buntingford.
'Of course they expect something in return; do dance with the girl
once.' Lord Buntingford disapproved mildly, and did as his mother
The affair went off very well. There were three or four card-tables in
one of the lower rooms, and at one of them sat Lord Alfred Grendall
and Mr Melmotte, with two or three other players, cutting in and out
at the end of each rubber. Playing whist was Lord Alfred's only
accomplishment, and almost the only occupation of his life. He began
it daily at his club at three o'clock, and continued playing till two
in the morning with an interval of a couple of hours for his dinner.
This he did during ten months of the year, and during the other two he
frequented some watering-place at which whist prevailed. He did not
gamble, never playing for more than the club stakes and bets. He gave
to the matter his whole mind, and must have excelled those who were
generally opposed to him. But so obdurate was fortune to Lord Alfred
that he could not make money even of whist. Melmotte was very anxious
to get into Lord Alfred's club,--The Peripatetics. It was pleasant to
see the grace with which he lost his money, and the sweet intimacy
with which he called his lordship Alfred. Lord Alfred had a remnant of
feeling left, and would have liked to kick him. Though Melmotte was by
far the bigger man, and was also the younger, Lord Alfred would not
have lacked the pluck to kick him. Lord Alfred, in spite of his
habitual idleness and vapid uselessness, had still left about him a
dash of vigour, and sometimes thought that he would kick Melmotte and
have done with it. But there were his poor boys, and those bills in
Melmotte's safe. And then Melmotte lost his points so regularly, and
paid his bets with such absolute good humour! 'Come and have a glass
of champagne, Alfred,' Melmotte said, as the two cut out together.
Lord Alfred liked champagne, and followed his host; but as he went he
almost made up his mind that on some future day he would kick the man.
Late in the evening Marie Melmotte was waltzing with Felix Carbury,
and Henrietta Carbury was then standing by talking to one Mr Paul
Montague. Lady Carbury was also there. She was not well inclined
either to balls or to such people as the Melmottes; nor was Henrietta.
But Felix had suggested that, bearing in mind his prospects as to the
heiress, they had better accept the invitation which he would cause to
have sent to them. They did so; and then Paul Montague also got a
card, not altogether to Lady Carbury's satisfaction. Lady Carbury was
very gracious to Madame Melmotte for two minutes, and then slid into a
chair expecting nothing but misery for the evening. She, however, was
a woman who could do her duty and endure without complaint.
'It is the first great ball I ever was at in London,' said Hetta
Carbury to Paul Montague.
'And how do you like it?'
'Not at all. How should I like it? I know nobody here. I don't
understand how it is that at these parties people do know each other,
or whether they all go dancing about without knowing.'
'Just that; I suppose when they are used to it they get introduced
backwards and forwards, and then they can know each other as fast as
they like. If you would wish to dance why don't you dance with me?'
'I have danced with you,--twice already.'
'Is there any law against dancing three times?'
'But I don't especially want to dance,' said Henrietta. 'I think I'll
go and console poor mamma, who has got nobody to speak to her.' Just
at this moment, however, Lady Carbury was not in that wretched
condition, as an unexpected friend had come to her relief.
Sir Felix and Marie Melmotte had been spinning round and round
throughout a long waltz, thoroughly enjoying the excitement of the
music and the movement. To give Felix Carbury what little praise might
be his due, it is necessary to say that he did not lack physical
activity. He would dance, and ride, and shoot eagerly, with an
animation that made him happy for the moment. It was an affair not of
thought or calculation, but of physical organisation. And Marie
Melmotte had been thoroughly happy. She loved dancing with all her
heart if she could only dance in a manner pleasant to herself.
She had been warned especially as to some men,--that she should not
dance with them. She had been almost thrown into Lord Nidderdale's
arms, and had been prepared to take him at her father's bidding. But
she had never had the slightest pleasure in his society, and had only
not been wretched because she had not as yet recognised that she had
an identity of her own in the disposition of which she herself should
have a voice. She certainly had never cared to dance with Lord
Nidderdale. Lord Grasslough she had absolutely hated, though at first
she had hardly dared to say so. One or two others had been obnoxious
to her in different ways, but they had passed on, or were passing on,
out of her way. There was no one at the present moment whom she had
been commanded by her father to accept should an offer be made. But
she did like dancing with Sir Felix Carbury. It was not only that the
man was handsome but that he had a power of changing the expression of
his countenance, a play of face, which belied altogether his real
disposition. He could seem to be hearty and true till the moment came
in which he had really to expose his heart,--or to try to expose it.
Then he failed, knowing nothing about it. But in the approaches to
intimacy with a girl he could be very successful. He had already
nearly got beyond this with Marie Melmotte; but Marie was by no means
quick in discovering his deficiencies. To her he had seemed like a
god. If she might be allowed to be wooed by Sir Felix Carbury, and to
give herself to him, she thought that she would be contented.
'How well you dance,' said Sir Felix, as soon as he had breath for
'Do I?' She spoke with a slightly foreign accent, which gave a little
prettiness to her speech. 'I was never told so. But nobody ever told
me anything about myself.'
'I should like to tell you everything about yourself, from the
beginning to the end.'
'Ah,--but you don't know.'
'I would find out. I think I could make some good guesses. I'll tell
you what you would like best in all the world.'
'What is that?'
'Somebody that liked you best in all the world.'
'Ah,--yes; if one knew who?'
'How can you know, Miss Melmotte, but by believing?'
'That is not the way to know. If a girl told me that she liked me
better than any other girl, I should not know it, just because she
said so. I should have to find it out.'
'And if a gentleman told you so?'
'I shouldn't believe him a bit, and I should not care to find out. But
I should like to have some girl for a friend whom I could love, oh,
ten times better than myself.'
'So should I.'
'Have you no particular friend?'
'I mean a girl whom I could love,--oh, ten times better than myself.'
'Now you are laughing at me, Sir Felix,' said Miss Melmotte.
'I wonder whether that will come to anything?' said Paul Montague to
Miss Carbury. They had come back into the drawing-room, and had been
watching the approaches to love-making which the baronet was opening.
'You mean Felix and Miss Melmotte. I hate to think of such things, Mr
'It would be a magnificent chance for him.'
'To marry a girl, the daughter of vulgar people, just because she will
have a great deal of money? He can't care for her really,--because she
'But he wants money so dreadfully! It seems to me that there is no
other condition of things under which Felix can face the world, but by
being the husband of an heiress.'
'What a dreadful thing to say!'
'But isn't it true? He has beggared himself.'
'Oh, Mr Montague.'
'And he will beggar you and your mother.'
'I don't care about myself.'
'Others do though.' As he said this he did not look at her, but spoke
through his teeth, as if he were angry both with himself and her.
'I did not think you would have spoken so harshly of Felix.'
'I don't speak harshly of him, Miss Carbury. I haven't said that it
was his own fault. He seems to be one of those who have been born to
spend money; and as this girl will have plenty of money to spend, I
think it would be a good thing if he were to marry her. If Felix had
£20,000 a year, everybody would think him the finest fellow in the
world.' In saying this, however, Mr Paul Montague showed himself unfit
to gauge the opinion of the world. Whether Sir Felix be rich or poor,
the world, evil-hearted as it is, will never think him a fine fellow.
Lady Carbury had been seated for nearly half an hour in uncomplaining
solitude under a bust, when she was delighted by the appearance of Mr
Ferdinand Alf. 'You here?' she said.
'Why not? Melmotte and I are brother adventurers.'
'I should have thought you would find so little here to amuse you.'
'I have found you; and, in addition to that, duchesses and their
daughters without number. They expect Prince George!'
'And Legge Wilson from the India Office is here already. I spoke to
him in some jewelled bower as I made my way here, not five minutes
since. It's quite a success. Don't you think it very nice, Lady
'I don't know whether you are joking or in earnest.'
'I never joke. I say it is very nice. These people are spending
thousands upon thousands to gratify you and me and others, and all
they want in return is a little countenance.'
'Do you mean to give it then?'
'I am giving it them.'
'Ah,--but the countenance of the "Evening Pulpit." Do you mean to give
'Well; it is not in our line exactly to give a catalogue of names and
to record ladies' dresses. Perhaps it may be better for our host
himself that he should be kept out of the newspapers.'
'Are you going to be very severe upon poor me, Mr Alf?' said the lady
after a pause.
'We are never severe upon anybody, Lady Carbury. Here's the Prince.
What will they do with him now they've caught him! Oh, they're going
to make him dance with the heiress. Poor heiress!'
'Poor Prince!' said Lady Carbury.
'Not at all. She's a nice little girl enough, and he'll have nothing
to trouble him. But how is she, poor thing, to talk to royal blood?'
Poor thing indeed! The Prince was brought into the big room where
Marie was still being talked to by Felix Carbury, and was at once made
to understand that she was to stand up and dance with royalty. The
introduction was managed in a very business-like manner. Miles
Grendall first came in and found the female victim; the Duchess
followed with the male victim. Madame Melmotte, who had been on her
legs till she was ready to sink, waddled behind, but was not allowed
to take any part in the affair. The band were playing a galop, but
that was stopped at once, to the great confusion of the dancers. In
two minutes Miles Grendall had made up a set. He stood up with his
aunt, the Duchess, as vis-à-vis to Marie and the Prince, till, about
the middle of the quadrille, Legge Wilson was found and made to take
his place. Lord Buntingford had gone away; but then there were still
present two daughters of the Duchess who were rapidly caught. Sir
Felix Carbury, being good-looking and having a name, was made to
dance with one of them, and Lord Grasslough with the other. There were
four other couples, all made up of titled people, as it was intended
that this special dance should be chronicled, if not in the 'Evening
Pulpit,' in some less serious daily journal. A paid reporter was
present in the house ready to rush off with the list as soon as the
dance should be a realized fact. The Prince himself did not quite
understand why he was there, but they who marshalled his life for him
had so marshalled it for the present moment. He himself probably knew
nothing about the lady's diamonds which had been rescued, or the
considerable subscription to St. George's Hospital which had been
extracted from Mr Melmotte as a make-weight. Poor Marie felt as though
the burden of the hour would be greater than she could bear, and
looked as though she would have fled had flight been possible. But the
trouble passed quickly, and was not really severe. The Prince said a
word or two between each figure, and did not seem to expect a reply.
He made a few words go a long way, and was well trained in the work of
easing the burden of his own greatness for those who were for the
moment inflicted with it. When the dance was over he was allowed to
escape after the ceremony of a single glass of champagne drunk in the
presence of the hostess. Considerable skill was shown in keeping the
presence of his royal guest a secret from the host himself till the
Prince was gone. Melmotte would have desired to pour out that glass of
wine with his own hands, to solace his tongue by Royal Highnesses, and
would probably have been troublesome and disagreeable. Miles Grendall
had understood all this and had managed the affair very well. 'Bless
my soul;--his Royal Highness come and gone!' exclaimed Melmotte. 'You
and my father were so fast at your whist that it was impossible to get
you away,' said Miles. Melmotte was not a fool, and understood it all;
--understood not only that it had been thought better that he should not
speak to the Prince, but also that it might be better that it should
be so. He could not have everything at once. Miles Grendall was very
useful to him, and he would not quarrel with Miles, at any rate as
'Have another rubber, Alfred?' he said to Miles's father as the
carriages were taking away the guests.
Lord Alfred had taken sundry glasses of champagne, and for a moment
forgot the bills in the safe, and the good things which his boys were
receiving. 'Damn that kind of nonsense,' he said. 'Call people by
their proper names.' Then he left the house without a further word to
the master of it. That night before they went to sleep Melmotte
required from his weary wife an account of the ball, and especially of
Marie's conduct. 'Marie,' Madame Melmotte said, 'had behaved well, but
had certainly preferred "Sir Carbury" to any other of the young men.'
Hitherto Mr Melmotte had heard very little of Sir Carbury, except that
he was a baronet. Though his eyes and ears were always open, though he
attended to everything, and was a man of sharp intelligence, he did
not yet quite understand the bearing and sequence of English titles.
He knew that he must get for his daughter either an eldest son, or one
absolutely in possession himself. Sir Felix, he had learned, was only
a baronet; but then he was in possession. He had discovered also that
Sir Felix's son would in course of time also become Sir Felix. He was
not therefore at the present moment disposed to give any positive
orders as to his daughter's conduct to the young baronet. He did not,
however, conceive that the young baronet had as yet addressed his girl
in such words as Felix had in truth used when they parted. 'You know
who it is,' he whispered, 'likes you better than any one else in the
'Nobody does;--don't, Sir Felix.'
'I do,' he said as he held her hand for a minute. He looked into her
face and she thought it very sweet. He had studied the words as a
lesson, and, repeating them as a lesson, he did it fairly well. He did
it well enough at any rate to send the poor girl to bed with a sweet
conviction that at last a man had spoken to her whom she could love.
CHAPTER V - AFTER THE BALL
'It's weary work,' said Sir Felix as he got into the brougham with his
mother and sister.
'What must it have been to me then, who had nothing to do?' said his
'It's the having something to do that makes me call it weary work.
By-the-bye, now I think of it, I'll run down to the club before I go
home.' So saying he put his head out of the brougham, and stopped the
'It is two o'clock, Felix,' said his mother.
'I'm afraid it is, but you see I'm hungry. You had supper, perhaps; I
'Are you going down to the club for supper at this time in the
'I must go to bed hungry if I don't. Good night.' Then he jumped out
of the brougham, called a cab, and had himself driven to the
Beargarden. He declared to himself that the men there would think it
mean of him if he did not give them their revenge. He had renewed his
play on the preceding night, and had again won. Dolly Longestaffe owed
him now a considerable sum of money, and Lord Grasslough was also in
his debt. He was sure that Grasslough would go to the club after the
ball, and he was determined that they should not think that he had
submitted to be carried home by his mother and sister. So he argued
with himself; but in truth the devil of gambling was hot within his
bosom; and though he feared that in losing he might lose real money,
and that if he won it would be long before he was paid, yet he could
not keep himself from the card-table.
Neither mother or daughter said a word till they reached home and had
got upstairs. Then the elder spoke of the trouble that was nearest to
her heart at the moment. 'Do you think he gambles?'
'He has got no money, mamma.'
'I fear that might not hinder him. And he has money with him, though,
for him and such friends as he has, it is not much. If he gambles
everything is lost.'
'I suppose they all do play more or less.'
'I have not known that he played. I am wearied too, out of all heart,
by his want of consideration to me. It is not that he will not obey
me. A mother perhaps should not expect obedience from a grown-up son.
But my word is nothing to him. He has no respect for me. He would as
soon do what is wrong before me as before the merest stranger.'
'He has been so long his own master, mamma.'
'Yes,--his own master! And yet I must provide for him as though he were
but a child. Hetta, you spent the whole evening talking to Paul
'No, mamma that is unjust.'
'He was always with you.'
'I knew nobody else. I could not tell him not to speak to me. I danced
with him twice.' Her mother was seated, with both her hands up to her
forehead, and shook her head. 'If you did not want me to speak to Paul
you should not have taken me there.'
'I don't wish to prevent your speaking to him. You know what I want.'
Henrietta came up and kissed her, and bade her good night. 'I think I
am the unhappiest woman in all London,' she said, sobbing
'Is it my fault, mamma?'
'You could save me from much if you would. I work like a horse, and I
never spend a shilling that I can help. I want nothing for myself,--
nothing for myself. Nobody has suffered as I have. But Felix never
thinks of me for a moment.'
'I think of you, mamma.'
'If you did you would accept your cousin's offer. What right have you
to refuse him? I believe it is all because of that young man.'
'No, mamma; it is not because of that young man. I like my cousin very
much;--but that is all. Good night, mamma.' Lady Carbury just allowed
herself to be kissed, and then was left alone.
At eight o'clock the next morning daybreak found four young men who
had just risen from a card-table at the Beargarden. The Beargarden
was so pleasant a club that there was no rule whatsoever as to its
being closed,--the only law being that it should not be opened before
three in the afternoon. A sort of sanction had, however, been given to
the servants to demur to producing supper or drinks after six in the
morning, so that, about eight, unrelieved tobacco began to be too
heavy even for juvenile constitutions. The party consisted of Dolly
Longestaffe, Lord Grasslough, Miles Grendall, and Felix Carbury, and
the four had amused themselves during the last six hours with various
innocent games. They had commenced with whist, and had culminated
during the last half-hour with blind hookey. But during the whole
night Felix had won. Miles Grendall hated him, and there had been an
expressed opinion between Miles and the young lord that it would be
both profitable and proper to relieve Sir Felix of the winnings of the
last two nights. The two men had played with the same object, and
being young had shown their intention,--so that a certain feeling of
hostility had been engendered. The reader is not to understand that
either of them had cheated, or that the baronet had entertained any
suspicion of foul play. But Felix had felt that Grendall and
Grasslough were his enemies, and had thrown himself on Dolly for
sympathy and friendship. Dolly, however, was very tipsy.
At eight o'clock in the morning there came a sort of settling, though
no money then passed. The ready-money transactions had not lasted long
through the night. Grasslough was the chief loser, and the figures and
scraps of paper which had been passed over to Carbury, when counted
up, amounted to nearly £2,000. His lordship contested the fact
bitterly, but contested it in vain. There were his own initials and
his own figures, and even Miles Grendall, who was supposed to be quite
wide awake, could not reduce the amount. Then Grendall had lost over
£400 to Carbury,--an amount, indeed, that mattered little, as Miles
could, at present, as easily have raised £40,000. However, he gave his
I.O.U. to his opponent with an easy air. Grasslough, also, was
impecunious; but he had a father,--also impecunious, indeed; but with
them the matter would not be hopeless. Dolly Longestaffe was so tipsy
that he could not even assist in making up his own account. That was
to be left between him and Carbury for some future occasion.
'I suppose you'll be here to-morrow,--that is to-night,' said Miles.
'Certainly,--only one thing,' answered Felix.
'What one thing?'
'I think these things should be squared before we play any more!'
'What do you mean by that?' said Grasslough angrily. 'Do you mean to
'I never hint anything, my Grassy,' said Felix. 'I believe when people
play cards, it's intended to be ready-money, that's all. But I'm not
going to stand on P's and Q's with you. I'll give you your revenge
'That's all right,' said Miles.
'I was speaking to Lord Grasslough,' said Felix. 'He is an old friend,
and we know each other. You have been rather rough to-night, Mr
'Rough;--what the devil do you mean by that?'
'And I think it will be as well that our account should be settled
before we begin again.'
'A settlement once a week is the kind of thing I'm used to,' said
There was nothing more said; but the young men did not part on good
terms. Felix, as he got himself taken home, calculated that if he
could realize his spoil, he might begin the campaign again with
horses, servants, and all luxuries as before. If all were paid, he
would have over £3,000!
CHAPTER VI - ROGER CARBURY AND PAUL MONTAGUE
Roger Carbury, of Carbury Hall, the owner of a small property in
Suffolk, was the head of the Carbury family. The Carburys had been in
Suffolk a great many years,--certainly from the time of the War of the
Roses,--and had always held up their heads. But they had never held them
very high. It was not known that any had risen ever to the honour of
knighthood before Sir Patrick, going higher than that, had been made a
baronet. They had, however, been true to their acres and their acres
true to them through the perils of civil wars, Reformation,
Commonwealth, and Revolution, and the head Carbury of the day had
always owned, and had always lived at, Carbury Hall. At the beginning
of the present century the squire of Carbury had been a considerable
man, if not in his county, at any rate in his part of the county. The
income of the estate had sufficed to enable him to live plenteously
and hospitably, to drink port wine, to ride a stout hunter, and to
keep an old lumbering coach for his wife's use when she went
avisiting. He had an old butler who had never lived anywhere else, and
a boy from the village who was in a way apprenticed to the butler.
There was a cook, not too proud to wash up her own dishes, and a
couple of young women;--while the house was kept by Mrs Carbury herself,
who marked and gave out her own linen, made her own preserves, and
looked to the curing of her own hams. In the year 1800 the Carbury
property was sufficient for the Carbury house. Since that time the
Carbury property has considerably increased in value, and the rents
have been raised. Even the acreage has been extended by the enclosure
of commons. But the income is no longer comfortably adequate to the
wants of an English gentleman's household. If a moderate estate in
land be left to a man now, there arises the question whether he is not
damaged unless an income also be left to him wherewith to keep up the
estate. Land is a luxury, and of all luxuries is the most costly. Now
the Carburys never had anything but land. Suffolk has not been made
rich and great either by coal or iron. No great town had sprung up on
the confines of the Carbury property. No eldest son had gone into
trade or risen high in a profession so as to add to the Carbury
wealth. No great heiress had been married. There had been no ruin,--no
misfortune. But in the days of which we write the Squire of Carbury
Hall had become a poor man simply through the wealth of others. His
estate was supposed to bring him in £2,000 a year. Had he been content
to let the Manor House, to live abroad, and to have an agent at home
to deal with the tenants, he would undoubtedly have had enough to live
luxuriously. But he lived on his own land among his own people, as all
the Carburys before him had done, and was poor because he was
surrounded by rich neighbours. The Longestaffes of Caversham,--of which
family Dolly Longestaffe was the eldest son and hope,--had the name of
great wealth, but the founder of the family had been a Lord Mayor of
London and a chandler as lately as in the reign of Queen Anne. The
Hepworths, who could boast good blood enough on their own side, had
married into new money. The Primeros,--though the goodnature of the
country folk had accorded to the head of them the title of Squire
Primero,--had been trading Spaniards fifty years ago, and had bought
the Bundlesham property from a great duke. The estates of those three
gentlemen, with the domain of the Bishop of Elmham, lay all around the
Carbury property, and in regard to wealth enabled their owners
altogether to overshadow our squire. The superior wealth of a bishop
was nothing to him. He desired that bishops should be rich, and was
among those who thought that the country had been injured when the
territorial possessions of our prelates had been converted into
stipends by Act of Parliament. But the grandeur of the Longestaffes
and the too apparent wealth of the Primeros did oppress him, though he
was a man who would never breathe a word of such oppression into the
ear even of his dearest friend. It was his opinion,--which he did not
care to declare loudly, but which was fully understood to be his
opinion by those with whom he lived intimately,--that a man's standing
in the world should not depend at all upon his wealth. The Primeros
were undoubtedly beneath him in the social scale, although the young
Primeros had three horses apiece, and killed legions of pheasants
annually at about 10s. a head. Hepworth of Eardly was a very good
fellow, who gave himself no airs and understood his duties as a
country gentleman; but he could not be more than on a par with Carbury
of Carbury, though he was supposed to enjoy £7,000 a year. The
Longestaffes were altogether oppressive. Their footmen, even in the
country, had powdered hair. They had a house in town,--a house of their
own,--and lived altogether as magnates. The lady was Lady Pomona
Longestaffe. The daughters, who certainly were handsome, had been
destined to marry peers. The only son, Dolly, had, or had had, a
fortune of his own. They were an oppressive people in a country
neighbourhood. And to make the matter worse, rich as they were, they
never were able to pay anybody anything that they owed. They continued
to live with all the appurtenances of wealth. The girls always had
horses to ride, both in town and country. The acquaintance of Dolly
the reader has already made. Dolly, who certainly was a poor creature
though good-natured, had energy in one direction. He would quarrel
perseveringly with his father, who only had a life interest in the
estate. The house at Caversham Park was during six or seven months of
the year full of servants, if not of guests, and all the tradesmen in
the little towns around, Bungay, Beccles, and Harlestone, were aware
that the Longestaffes were the great people of that country. Though
occasionally much distressed for money, they would always execute the
Longestaffe orders with submissive punctuality, because there was an
idea that the Longestaffe property was sound at the bottom. And, then,
the owner of a property so managed cannot scrutinise bills very
Carbury of Carbury had never owed a shilling that he could not pay, or
his father before him. His orders to the tradesmen at Beccles were not
extensive, and care was used to see that the goods supplied were
neither overcharged nor unnecessary. The tradesmen, consequently, of
Beccles did not care much for Carbury of Carbury;--though perhaps one or
two of the elders among them entertained some ancient reverence for
the family. Roger Carbury, Esq., was Carbury of Carbury,--a distinction
of itself which, from its nature, could not belong to the Longestaffes
and Primeros, which did not even belong to the Hepworths of Eardly.
The very parish in which Carbury Hall stood,--or Carbury Manor House, as
it was more properly called,--was Carbury parish. And there was Carbury
Chase, partly in Carbury parish and partly in Bundlesham,--but
belonging, unfortunately, in its entirety to the Bundlesham estate.
Roger Carbury himself was all alone in the world. His nearest
relatives of the name were Sir Felix and Henrietta, but they were no
more than second cousins. He had sisters, but they had long since been
married and had gone away into the world with their husbands, one to
India, and another to the far west of the United States. At present he
was not much short of forty years of age, and was still unmarried. He
was a stout, good-looking man, with a firmly set square face, with
features finely cut, a small mouth, good teeth, and well-formed chin.
His hair was red, curling round his head, which was now partly bald at
the top. He wore no other beard than small, almost unnoticeable
whiskers. His eyes were small, but bright, and very cheery when his
humour was good. He was about five feet nine in height, having the
appearance of great strength and perfect health. A more manly man to
the eye was never seen. And he was one with whom you would
instinctively wish at first sight to be on good terms,--partly because
in looking at him there would come on you an unconscious conviction
that he would be very stout in holding his own against his opponents;
partly also from a conviction equally strong, that he would be very
pleasant to his friends.
When Sir Patrick had come home from India as an invalid, Roger Carbury
had hurried up to see him in London, and had proffered him all
kindness. Would Sir Patrick and his wife and children like to go down
to the old place in the country? Sir Patrick did not care a straw for
the old place in the country, and so told his cousin in almost those
very words. There had not, therefore, been much friendship during Sir
Patrick's life. But when the violent ill-conditioned old man was dead,
Roger paid a second visit, and again offered hospitality to the widow
and her daughter,--and to the young baronet. The young baronet had just
joined his regiment and did not care to visit his cousin in Suffolk;
but Lady Carbury and Henrietta had spent a month there, and everything
had been done to make them happy. The effort as regarded Henrietta had
been altogether successful. As regarded the widow, it must be
acknowledged that Carbury Hall had not quite suited her tastes. She
had already begun to sigh for the glories of a literary career. A
career of some kind,--sufficient to repay her for the sufferings of her
early life,--she certainly desired. 'Dear cousin Roger,' as she called
him, had not seemed to her to have much power of assisting her in
these views. She was a woman who did not care much for country charms.
She had endeavoured to get up some mild excitement with the bishop,
but the bishop had been too plain spoken and sincere for her. The
Primeros had been odious; the Hepworths stupid; the Longestaffes,--she
had endeavoured to make up a little friendship with Lady Pomona,--
insufferably supercilious. She had declared to Henrietta 'that Carbury
Hall was very dull.'
But then there had come a circumstance which altogether changed her
opinions as to Carbury Hall, and its proprietor. The proprietor after
a few weeks followed them up to London, and made a most matter-of-fact
offer to the mother for the daughter's hand. He was at that time
thirty-six, and Henrietta was not yet twenty. He was very cool;--some
might have thought him phlegmatic in his love-making. Henrietta
declared to her mother that she had not in the least expected it. But
he was very urgent, and very persistent. Lady Carbury was eager on his
side. Though the Carbury Manor House did not exactly suit her, it
would do admirably for Henrietta. And as for age, to her thinking, she
being then over forty, a man of thirty-six was young enough for any
girl. But Henrietta had an opinion of her own. She liked her cousin,
but did not love him. She was amazed, and even annoyed by the offer.
She had praised him and praised the house so loudly to her mother,--
having in her innocence never dreamed of such a proposition as this,--so
that now she found it difficult to give an adequate reason for her
refusal. Yes;--she had undoubtedly said that her cousin was charming,
but she had not meant charming in that way. She did refuse the offer
very plainly, but still with some apparent lack of persistency. When
Roger suggested that she should take a few months to think of it, and
her mother supported Roger's suggestion, she could say nothing
stronger than that she was afraid that thinking about it would not do
any good. Their first visit to Carbury had been made in September. In
the following February she went there again,--much against the grain as
far as her own wishes were concerned; and when there had been cold,
constrained, almost dumb in the presence of her cousin. Before they
left the offer was renewed, but Henrietta declared that she could not
do as they would have her. She could give no reason, only she did not
love her cousin in that way. But Roger declared that he by no means
intended to abandon his suit. In truth he verily loved the girl, and
love with him was a serious thing. All this happened a full year
before the beginning of our present story.
But something else happened also. While that second visit was being
made at Carbury there came to the hall a young man of whom Roger
Carbury had said much to his cousins,--one Paul Montague, of whom some
short account shall be given in this chapter. The squire,--Roger Carbury
was always called the squire about his own place,--had anticipated no
evil when he so timed this second visit of his cousins to his house
that they must of necessity meet Paul Montague there. But great harm
had come of it. Paul Montague had fallen into love with his cousin's
guest, and there had sprung up much unhappiness.
Lady Carbury and Henrietta had been nearly a month at Carbury, and
Paul Montague had been there barely a week, when Roger Carbury thus
spoke to the guest who had last arrived. 'I've got to tell you
'Very serious to me. I may say so serious that nothing in my own life
can approach it in importance.' He had unconsciously assumed that
look, which his friend so thoroughly understood, indicating his
resolve to hold to what he believed to be his own, and to fight if
fighting be necessary. Montague knew him well, and became half aware
that he had done something, he knew not what, militating against this
serious resolve of his friend. He looked up, but said nothing. 'I have
offered my hand in marriage to my cousin Henrietta,' said Roger, very
'Yes; to Henrietta Carbury. She has not accepted it. She has refused
me twice. But I still have hopes of success. Perhaps I have no right
to hope, but I do. I tell it you just as it is. Everything in life to
me depends upon it. I think I may count upon your sympathy.'
'Why did you not tell me before?' said Paul Montague in a hoarse