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The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

Part 14 out of 19

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respectable. This man whom they had arrested was respectable also, and
was the girl's proper lover. The other man who had been beaten was
undoubtedly the owner of a title; but he was not respectable, and was
only the girl's improper lover. And John Crumb's name was given. 'I'm
John Crumb of Bungay,' said he, 'and I ain't afeared of nothin' nor
nobody. And I ain't a been a drinking; no, I ain't. Mauled un'! In
course I've mauled un'. And I meaned it. That ere young woman is
engaged to be my wife.'

'No, I ain't,' shouted Ruby.

'But she is,' persisted John Crumb.

'Well then, I never will,' rejoined Ruby.

John Crumb turned upon her a look of love, and put his hand on his
heart. Whereupon the senior policeman said that he saw at a glance how
it all was, but that Mr Crumb had better come along with him just for
the present. To this arrangement the unfortunate hero from Bungay made
not the slightest objection.

'Miss Ruggles,' said Mrs Hurtle, 'if that young man doesn't conquer
you at last you can't have a heart in your bosom.'

'Indeed and I have then, and I don't mean to give it him if it's ever
so. He's been and killed Sir Felix.' Mrs Hurtle in a whisper to Mrs
Pipkin expressed a wicked wish that it might be so. After that the
three women all went to bed.


Roger Carbury when he received the letter from Hetta's mother desiring
him to tell her all that he knew of Paul Montague's connection with
Mrs Hurtle found himself quite unable to write a reply. He endeavoured
to ask himself what he would do in such a case if he himself were not
personally concerned. What advice in this emergency would he give to
the mother and what to the daughter, were he himself uninterested? He
was sure that, as Hetta's cousin and asking as though he were Hetta's
brother, he would tell her that Paul Montague's entanglement with that
American woman should have forbidden him at any rate for the present
to offer his hand to any other lady. He thought that he knew enough of
all the circumstances to be sure that such would be his decision. He
had seen Mrs Hurtle with Montague at Lowestoft, and had known that
they were staying together as friends at the same hotel. He knew that
she had come to England with the express purpose of enforcing the
fulfilment of an engagement which Montague had often acknowledged. He
knew that Montague made frequent visits to her in London. He had,
indeed, been told by Montague himself that, let the cost be what it
might, the engagement should be and in fact had been broken off. He
thoroughly believed the man's word, but put no trust whatever in his
firmness. And, hitherto, he had no reason whatever for supposing that
Mrs Hurtle had consented to be abandoned. What father, what elder
brother would allow a daughter or a sister to become engaged to a man
embarrassed by such difficulties? He certainly had counselled Montague
to rid himself of the trammels by which he had surrounded himself;--
but not on that account could he think that the man in his present
condition was fit to engage himself to another woman.

All this was clear to Roger Carbury. But then it had been equally
clear to him that he could not, as a man of honour, assist his own
cause by telling a tale,--which tale had become known to him as the
friend of the man against whom it would have to be told. He had
resolved upon that as he left Montague and Mrs Hurtle together upon
the sands at Lowestoft. But what was he to do now? The girl whom he
loved had confessed her love for the other man,--that man, who in
seeking the girl's love, had been as he thought so foul a traitor to
himself! That he would hold himself as divided from the man by a
perpetual and undying hostility he had determined. That his love for
the woman would be equally perpetual he was quite sure. Already there
were floating across his brain ideas of perpetuating his name in the
person of some child of Hetta's,--but with the distinct understanding
that he and the child's father should never see each other. No more
than twenty-four hours had intervened between the receipt of Paul's
letter and that from Lady Carbury,--but during those four-and-twenty
hours he had almost forgotten Mrs Hurtle. The girl was gone from him,
and he thought only of his own loss and of Paul's perfidy. Then came
the direct question as to which he was called upon for a direct
answer. Did he know anything of facts relating to the presence of a
certain Mrs Hurtle in London which were of a nature to make it
inexpedient that Hetta should accept Paul Montague as her betrothed
lover? Of course he did. The facts were all familiar to him. But how
was he to tell the facts? In what words was he to answer such a
letter? If he told the truth as he knew it how was he to secure
himself against the suspicion of telling a story against his rival in
order that he might assist himself, or at any rate, punish the rival?

As he could not trust himself to write an answer to Lady Carbury's
letter he determined that he would go to London. If he must tell the
story he could tell it better face to face than by any written words.
So he made the journey, arrived in town late in the evening, and
knocked at the door in Welbeck Street between ten and eleven on the
morning after the unfortunate meeting which took place between Sir
Felix and John Crumb. The page when he opened the door looked as a
page should look when the family to which he is attached is suffering
from some terrible calamity. 'My lady' had been summoned to the
hospital to see Sir Felix who was,--as the page reported,--in a very
bad way indeed. The page did not exactly know what had happened, but
supposed that Sir Felix had lost most of his limbs by this time. Yes;
Miss Carbury was upstairs; and would no doubt see her cousin, though
she, too, was in a very bad condition; and dreadfully put about. That
poor Hetta should be 'put about' with her brother in the hospital and
her lover in the toils of an abominable American woman was natural

'What's this about Felix?' asked Roger. The new trouble always has
precedence over those which are of earlier date.

'Oh Roger, I am so glad to see you. Felix did not come home last
night, and this morning there came a man from the hospital in the city
to say that he is there.'

'What has happened to him?'

'Somebody,--somebody has,--beaten him,' said Hetta whimpering. Then she
told the story as far as she knew it. The messenger from the hospital
had declared that the young man was in no danger and that none of his
bones were broken, but that he was terribly bruised about the face,
that his eyes were in a frightful condition, sundry of his teeth
knocked out, and his lips cut open. But, the messenger had gone on to
say, the house surgeon had seen no reason why the young gentleman
should not be taken home. 'And mamma has gone to fetch him,' said

'That's John Crumb,' said Roger. Hetta had never heard of John Crumb,
and simply stared into her cousin's face. 'You have not been told
about John Crumb? No;--you would not hear of him.'

'Why should John Crumb beat Felix like that?'

'They say, Hetta, that women are the cause of most troubles that occur
in the world.' The girl blushed up to her eyes, as though the whole
story of Felix's sin and folly had been told to her. 'If it be as I
suppose,' continued Roger, 'John Crumb has considered himself to be
aggrieved and has thus avenged himself.'

'Did you--know of him before?'

'Yes indeed;--very well. He is a neighbour of mine and was in love with
a girl, with all his heart; and he would have made her his wife and
have been good to her. He had a home to offer her, and is an honest
man with whom she would have been safe and respected and happy. Your
brother saw her and, though he knew the story, though he had been told
by myself that this honest fellow had placed his happiness on the
girl's love, he thought,--well, I suppose he thought that such a
pretty thing as this girl was too good for John Crumb.'

'But Felix has been going to marry Miss Melmotte!'

'You're old-fashioned, Hetta. It used to be the way,--to be off with
your old love before you are on with the new; but that seems to be all
changed now. Such fine young fellows as there are now can be in love
with two at once. That I fear is what Felix has thought;--and now he
has been punished.'

'You know all about it then?'

'No;--I don't know. But I think it has been so. I do know that John
Crumb had threatened to do this thing, and I felt sure that sooner or
later he would be as good as his word. If it has been so, who is to
blame him?'

Hetta as she heard the story hardly knew whether her cousin, in his
manner of telling the story, was speaking of that other man, of that
stranger of whom she had never heard, or of himself. He would have
made her his wife and have been good to her. He had a home to offer
her. He was an honest man with whom she would have been safe and
respected and happy! He had looked at her while speaking as though it
were her own case of which he spoke. And then, when he talked of the
old-fashioned way, of being off with the old love before you are on
with the new, had he not alluded to Paul Montague and this story of
the American woman? But, if so, it was not for Hetta to notice it
by words. He must speak more plainly than that before she could be
supposed to know that he alluded to her own condition. 'It is very
shocking,' she said.

'Shocking;--yes. One is shocked at it all. I pity your mother, and I
pity you.'

'It seems to me that nothing ever will be happy for us,' said Hetta.
She was longing to be told something of Mrs Hurtle, but she did not as
yet dare to ask the question.

'I do not know whether to wait for your mother or not,' said he after
a short pause.

'Pray wait for her if you are not very busy.'

'I came up only to see her, but perhaps she would not wish me to be
here when she brings Felix back to the house.'

'Indeed she will. She would like you always to be here when there are
troubles. Oh, Roger, I wish you could tell me.'

'Tell you what?'

'She has written to you;--has she not?'

'Yes; she has written to me.'

'And about me?'

'Yes;--about you, Hetta. And, Hetta, Mr Montague has written to me

'He told me that he would,' whispered Hetta.

'Did he tell you my answer?'

'No;--he has told me of no answer. I have not seen him since.'

'You do not think that it can have been very kind, do you? I also have
something of the feeling of John Crumb, though I shall not attempt to
show it after the same fashion.'

'Did you not say the girl had promised to love that man?'

'I did not say so;--but she had promised. Yes, Hetta; there is a
difference. The girl then was fickle and went back from her word. You
never have done that. I am not justified in thinking even a hard
thought of you. I have never harboured a hard thought of you. It is
not you that I reproach. But he,--he has been if possible more false
than Felix.'

'Oh, Roger, how has he been false?'

Still he was not wishful to tell her the story of Mrs Hurtle. The
treachery of which he was speaking was that which he had thought had
been committed by his friend towards himself. 'He should have left the
place and never have come near you,' said Roger, 'when he found how it
was likely to be with him. He owed it to me not to take the cup of
water from my lips.'

How was she to tell him that the cup of water never could have touched
his lips? And yet if this were the only falsehood of which he had to
tell, she was bound to let him know that it was so. That horrid story
of Mrs Hurtle;--she would listen to that if she could hear it. She
would be all ears for that. But she could not admit that her lover had
sinned in loving her. 'But, Roger,' she said,--'it would have been the

'You may say so. You may feel it. You may know it. I at any rate will
not contradict you when you say that it must have been so. But he
didn't feel it. He didn't know it. He was to me as a younger brother,--
and he has robbed me of everything. I understand, Hetta, what you
mean. I should never have succeeded! My happiness would have been
impossible if Paul had never come home from America. I have told
myself so a hundred times, but I cannot therefore forgive him. And I
won't forgive him, Hetta. Whether you are his wife, or another man's,
or whether you are Hetta Carbury on to the end, my feeling to you will
be the same. While we both live, you must be to me the dearest
creature living. My hatred to him--'

'Oh, Roger, do not say hatred.'

'My hostility to him can make no difference in my feeling to you. I
tell you that should you become his wife you will still be my love. As
to not coveting,--how is a man to cease to covet that which he has
always coveted? But I shall be separated from you. Should I be dying,
then I should send for you. You are the very essence of my life. I
have no dream of happiness otherwise than as connected with you. He
might have my whole property and I would work for my bread, if I could
only have a chance of winning you to share my toils with me.'

But still there was no word of Mrs Hurtle. 'Roger,' she said, 'I have
given it all away now. It cannot be given twice.'

'If he were unworthy would your heart never change?'

'I think--never. Roger, is he unworthy?'

'How can you trust me to answer such a question? He is my enemy. He
has been ungrateful to me as one man hardly ever is to another. He has
turned all my sweetness to gall, all my flowers to bitter weeds; he
has choked up all my paths. And now you ask me whether he is unworthy!
I cannot tell you.'

'If you thought him worthy you would tell me,' she said, getting up
and taking him by the arm.

'No;--I will tell you nothing. Go to some one else, not to me;' and
he tried with gentleness but tried ineffectually to disengage himself
from her hold.

'Roger, if you knew him to be good you would tell me, because you
yourself are so good. Even though you hated him you would say so. It
would not be you to leave a false impression even against your
enemies. I ask you because, however it may be with you, I know I can
trust you. I can be nothing else to you, Roger; but I love you as a
sister loves, and I come to you as a sister comes to a brother. He has
my heart. Tell me;--is there any reason why he should not also have my

'Ask himself, Hetta.'

'And you will tell me nothing? You will not try to save me though you
know that I am in danger? Who is--Mrs Hurtle?'

'Have you asked him?'

'I had not heard her name when he parted from me. I did not even know
that such a woman lived. Is it true that he has promised to marry her?
Felix told me of her, and told me also that you knew. But I cannot
trust Felix as I would trust you. And mamma says that it is so;--but
mamma also bids me ask you. There is such a woman?'

'There is such a woman certainly.'

'And she has been,--a friend of Paul's?'

'Whatever be the story, Hetta, you shall not hear it from me. I will
say neither evil nor good of the man except in regard to his conduct
to myself. Send for him and ask him to tell you the story of Mrs
Hurtle as it concerns himself. I do not think he will lie, but if he
lies you will know that he is lying.'

'And that is all?'

'All that I can say, Hetta. You ask me to be your brother;--but I
cannot put myself in the place of your brother. I tell you plainly that
I am your lover, and shall remain so. Your brother would welcome the man
whom you would choose as your husband. I can never welcome any husband
of yours. I think if twenty years were to pass over us, and you were
still Hetta Carbury, I should still be your lover,--though an old one.
What is now to be done about Felix, Hetta?'

'Ah what can be done? I think sometimes that it will break mamma's

'Your mother makes me angry by her continual indulgence.'

'But what can she do? You would not have her turn him into the

'I do not know that I would not. For a time it might serve him
perhaps. Here is the cab. Here they are. Yes; you had better go down
and let your mother know that I am here. They will perhaps take him up
to bed, so that I need not see him.'

Hetta did as she was bid, and met her mother and her brother in the
hall. Felix having the full use of his arms and legs was able to
descend from the cab, and hurry across the pavement into the house,
and then, without speaking a word to his sister, hid himself in the
dining-room. His face was strapped up with plaister so that not a
feature was visible; and both his eyes were swollen and blue; part of
his beard had been cut away, and his physiognomy had altogether been
so treated that even the page would hardly have known him. 'Roger is
upstairs, mamma,' said Hetta in the hall.

'Has he heard about Felix;--has he come about that?'

'He has heard only what I have told him. He has come because of your
letter. He says that a man named Crumb did it.'

'Then he does know. Who can have told him? He always knows everything.
Oh, Hetta, what am I to do? Where shall I go with this wretched boy?'

'Is he hurt, mamma?'

'Hurt;--of course he is hurt; horribly hurt. The brute tried to kill
him. They say that he will be dreadfully scarred for ever. But oh,
Hetta;--what am I to do with him? What am I to do with myself and

On this occasion Roger was saved from the annoyance of any personal
intercourse with his cousin Felix. The unfortunate one was made as
comfortable as circumstances would permit in the parlour, and Lady
Carbury then went up to her cousin in the drawing-room. She had
learned the truth with some fair approach to accuracy, though Sir
Felix himself had of course lied as to every detail. There are some
circumstances so distressing in themselves as to make lying almost a
necessity. When a young man has behaved badly about a woman, when a
young man has been beaten without returning a blow, when a young man's
pleasant vices are brought directly under a mother's eyes, what can he
do but lie? How could Sir Felix tell the truth about that rash
encounter? But the policeman who had brought him to the hospital had
told all that he knew. The man who had thrashed the baronet had been
Crumb, and the thrashing had been given on the score of a young woman
called Ruggles. So much was known at the hospital, and so much could
not be hidden by any lies which Sir Felix might tell. And when Sir
Felix swore that a policeman was holding him while Crumb was beating
him, no one believed him. In such cases the liar does not expect to be
believed. He knows that his disgrace will be made public, and only
hopes to be saved from the ignominy of declaring it with his own

'What am I to do with him?' Lady Carbury said to her cousin. 'It is no
use telling me to leave him. I can't do that. I know he is bad. I know
that I have done much to make him what he is.' As she said this the
tears were running down her poor worn cheeks. 'But he is my child.
What am I to do with him now?'

This was a question which Roger found it almost impossible to answer.
If he had spoken his thoughts he would have declared that Sir Felix
had reached an age at which, if a man will go headlong to destruction,
he must go headlong to destruction. Thinking as he did of his cousin
he could see no possible salvation for him. 'Perhaps I should take him
abroad,' he said.

'Would he be better abroad than here?'

'He would have less opportunity for vice, and fewer means of running
you into debt.'

Lady Carbury, as she turned this counsel in her mind, thought of all
the hopes which she had indulged,--her literary aspirations, her
Tuesday evenings, her desire for society, her Brounes, her Alfs, and
her Bookers, her pleasant drawing-room, and the determination which
she had made that now in the afternoon of her days she would become
somebody in the world. Must she give it all up and retire to the
dreariness of some French town because it was no longer possible that
she should live in London with such a son as hers? There seemed to be
a cruelty in this beyond all cruelties that she had hitherto endured.
This was harder even than those lies which had been told of her when
almost in fear of her life she had run from her husband's house. But
yet she must do even this if in no other way she and her son could be
together. 'Yes,' she said, 'I suppose it would be so. I only wish that
I might die, so that were an end of it.'

'He might go out to one of the Colonies,' said Roger.

'Yes;--be sent away that he might kill himself with drink in
the bush, and so be got rid of. I have heard of that before.
Wherever he goes I shall go.'

As the reader knows, Roger Carbury had not latterly held this cousin
of his in much esteem. He knew her to be worldly and he thought her to
be unprincipled. But now, at this moment, her exceeding love for the
son whom she could no longer pretend to defend, wiped out all her
sins. He forgot the visit made to Carbury under false pretences, and
the Melmottes, and all the little tricks which he had detected, in his
appreciation of an affection which was pure and beautiful. 'If you
like to let your house for a period,' he said, 'mine is open to you.'

'But, Felix?'

'You shall take him there. I am all alone in the world. I can make a
home for myself at the cottage. It is empty now. If you think that
would save you you can try it for six months.'

'And turn you out of your own house? No, Roger. I cannot do that. And,
Roger;--what is to be done about Hetta?' Hetta herself had retreated,
leaving Roger and her mother alone together, feeling sure that there
would be questions asked and answered in her absence respecting Mrs
Hurtle, which her presence would prevent. She wished it could have
been otherwise--that she might have been allowed to hear it all herself
--as she was sure that the story coming through her mother would not
savour so completely of unalloyed truth as if told to her by her
cousin Roger.

'Hetta can be trusted to judge for herself,' he said.

'How can you say that when she has just accepted this young man? Is it
not true that he is even now living with an American woman whom he has
promised to marry?'

'No;--that is not true.'

'What is true then? Is he not engaged to the woman?' Roger hesitated a
moment. 'I do not know that even that is true. When last he spoke to
me about it he declared that the engagement was at an end. I have told
Hetta to ask himself. Let her tell him that she has heard of this
woman from you, and that it behoves her to know the truth. I do not
love him, Lady Carbury. He has no longer any place in my friendship.
But I think that if Hetta asks him simply what is the nature of his
connexion with Mrs Hurtle, he will tell her the truth.'

Roger did not again see Hetta before he left the house, nor did he see
his cousin Felix at all. He had now done all that he could do by his
journey up to London, and he returned on that day back to Carbury.
Would it not be better for him, in spite of the protestations which he
had made, to dismiss the whole family from his mind? There could be no
other love for him. He must be desolate and alone. But he might then
save himself from a world of cares, and might gradually teach himself
to live as though there were no such woman as Hetta Carbury in the
world. But no! He would not allow himself to believe that this could
be right. The very fact of his love made it a duty to him,--made it
almost the first of his duties,--to watch over the interests of her he
loved and of those who belonged to her.

But among those so belonging he did not recognise Paul Montague.


When Marie Melmotte assured Sir Felix Carbury that her father had
already endowed her with a large fortune which could not be taken from
her without her own consent, she spoke no more than the truth. She
knew of the matter almost as little as it was possible that she should
know. As far as reticence on the subject was compatible with the
object he had in view Melmotte had kept from her all knowledge of the
details of the arrangement. But it had been necessary when the thing
was done to explain, or to pretend to explain, much; and Marie's
memory and also her intelligence had been strong beyond her father's
anticipation. He was deriving a very considerable income from a large
sum of money which he had invested in foreign funds in her name, and
had got her to execute a power of attorney enabling him to draw this
income on her behalf. This he had done fearing shipwreck in the course
which he meant to run, and resolved that, let circumstances go as they
might, there should still be left enough to him of the money which he
had realised to enable him to live in comfort and luxury, should he be
doomed to live in obscurity, or even in infamy. He had sworn to
himself solemnly that under no circumstances would he allow this money
to go back into the vortex of his speculations, and hitherto he had
been true to his oath. Though bankruptcy and apparent ruin might be
imminent he would not bolster up his credit by the use of this money
even though it might appear at the moment that the money would be
sufficient for the purpose. If such a day should come, then, with that
certain income, he would make himself happy, if possible, or at any
rate luxurious, in whatever city of the world might know least of his
antecedents, and give him the warmest welcome on behalf of his wealth.
Such had been his scheme of life. But he had failed to consider
various circumstances. His daughter might be untrue to him, or in the
event of her marriage might fail to release his property,--or it might
be that the very money should be required to dower his daughter. Or
there might come troubles on him so great that even the certainty of a
future income would not enable him to bear them. Now, at this present
moment, his mind was tortured by great anxiety. Were he to resume this
property it would more than enable him to pay all that was due to the
Longestaffes. It would do that and tide him for a time over some other
difficulties. Now in regard to the Longestaffes themselves, he
certainly had no desire to depart from the rule which he had made for
himself, on their behalf. Were it necessary that a crash should come
they would be as good creditors as any other. But then he was
painfully alive to the fact that something beyond simple indebtedness
was involved in that transaction. He had with his own hand traced
Dolly Longestaffe's signature on the letter which he had found in old
Mr Longestaffe's drawer. He had found it in an envelope, addressed by
the elder Mr Longestaffe to Messrs. Slow and Bideawhile, and he had
himself posted this letter in a pillarbox near to his house. In the
execution of this manoeuvre, circumstances had greatly befriended him.
He had become the tenant of Mr Longestaffe's house, and at the same
time had only been the joint tenant of Mr Longestaffe's study,--so
that Mr Longestaffe's papers were almost in his very hands. To pick a
lock was with him an accomplishment long since learned. But his science
in that line did not go so far as to enable him to replace the bolt in
its receptacle. He had picked a lock, had found the letter prepared by
Mr Bideawhile with its accompanying envelope, and had then already
learned enough of the domestic circumstances of the Longestaffe family
to feel assured that unless he could assist the expedition of this
hitherto uncompleted letter by his own skill, the letter would never
reach its intended destination. In all this fortune had in some degree
befriended him. The circumstances being as they were it was hardly
possible that the forgery should be discovered. Even though the young
man were to swear that the signature was not his, even though the old
man were to swear that he had left that drawer properly locked with
the unsigned letter in it, still there could be no evidence. People
might think. People might speak. People might feel sure. And then a
crash would come. But there would still be that ample fortune on which
to retire and eat and drink and make merry for the rest of his days.

Then there came annoying complications in his affairs. What had been
so easy in reference to that letter which Dolly Longestaffe never
would have signed, was less easy but still feasible in another matter.
Under the joint pressure of immediate need, growing ambition, and
increasing audacity it had been done. Then the rumours that were
spread abroad,--which to Melmotte were serious indeed,--they named, at
any rate in reference to Dolly Longestaffe, the very thing that had
been done. Now if that, or the like of that, were brought actually home
to him, if twelve jurymen could be got to say that he had done that
thing, of what use then would be all that money? When that fear arose,
then there arose also the question whether it might not be well to use
the money to save him from such ruin, if it might be so used. No doubt
all danger in that Longestaffe affair might be bought off by payment
of the price stipulated for the Pickering property. Neither would
Dolly Longestaffe nor Squercum, of whom Mr Melmotte had already heard,
concern himself in this matter if the money claimed were paid. But
then the money would be as good as wasted by such a payment, if, as he
firmly believed, no sufficient evidence could be produced to prove the
thing which he had done.

But the complications were so many! Perhaps in his admiration for the
country of his adoption Mr Melmotte had allowed himself to attach
higher privileges to the British aristocracy than do in truth belong
to them. He did in his heart believe that could he be known to all the
world as the father-in-law of the eldest son of the Marquis of Auld
Reekie he would become, not really free of the law, but almost safe
from its fangs in regard to such an affair as this. He thought he
could so use the family with which he would be connected as to force
from it that protection which he would need. And then again, if he
could tide over this bad time, how glorious would it be to have a
British Marquis for his son-in-law! Like many others he had failed
altogether to inquire when the pleasure to himself would come, or what
would be its nature. But he did believe that such a marriage would add
a charm to his life. Now he knew that Lord Nidderdale could not be got
to marry his daughter without the positive assurance of absolute
property, but he did think that the income which might thus be
transferred with Marie, though it fell short of that which had been
promised, might suffice for the time; and he had already given proof
to the Marquis's lawyer that his daughter was possessed of the
property in question.

And indeed, there was another complication which had arisen within the
last few days and which had startled Mr Melmotte very much indeed. On
a certain morning he had sent for Marie to the study and had told her
that he should require her signature in reference to a deed. She had
asked him what deed. He had replied that it would be a document
regarding money and reminded her that she had signed such a deed once
before, telling her that it was all in the way of business. It was not
necessary that she should ask any more questions as she would be
wanted only to sign the paper. Then Marie astounded him, not merely by
showing him that she understood a great deal more of the transaction
than he had thought,--but also by a positive refusal to sign anything at
all. The reader may understand that there had been many words between
them. 'I know, papa. It is that you may have the money to do what you
like with. You have been so unkind to me about Sir Felix Carbury that
I won't do it. If I ever marry the money will belong to my husband!'
His breath almost failed him as he listened to these words. He did not
know whether to approach her with threats, with entreaties, or with
blows. Before the interview was over he had tried all three. He had
told her that he could and would put her in prison for conduct so
fraudulent. He besought her not to ruin her parent by such monstrous
perversity. And at last he took her by both arms and shook her
violently. But Marie was quite firm. He might cut her to pieces; but
she would sign nothing. 'I suppose you thought Sir Felix would have
had the entire sum,' said the father with deriding scorn.

'And he would;--if he had the spirit to take it,' answered Marie.

This was another reason for sticking to the Nidderdale plan. He would
no doubt lose the immediate income, but in doing so he would secure
the Marquis. He was therefore induced, on weighing in his
nicest-balanced scales the advantages and disadvantages, to leave the
Longestaffes unpaid and to let Nidderdale have the money. Not that he
could make up his mind to such a course with any conviction that he
was doing the best for himself. The dangers on all sides were very
great! But at the present moment audacity recommended itself to him,
and this was the boldest stroke. Marie had now said that she would
accept Nidderdale,--or the sweep at the crossing.

On Monday morning,--it was on the preceding Thursday that he had made
his famous speech in Parliament,--one of the Bideawhiles had come to
him in the City. He had told Mr Bideawhile that all the world knew that
just at the present moment money was very 'tight' in the City. 'We are
not asking for payment of a commercial debt,' said Mr Bideawhile, 'but
for the price of a considerable property which you have purchased.' Mr
Melmotte had suggested that the characteristics of the money were the
same, let the sum in question have become due how it might. Then he
offered to make the payment in two bills at three and six months'
date, with proper interest allowed. But this offer Mr Bideawhile
scouted with indignation, demanding that the title-deeds might be
restored to them.

'You have no right whatever to demand the title-deeds,' said Melmotte.
'You can only claim the sum due, and I have already told you how I
propose to pay it.'

Mr Bideawhile was nearly beside himself with dismay. In the whole
course of his business, in all the records of the very respectable
firm to which he belonged, there had never been such a thing as this.
Of course Mr Longestaffe had been the person to blame,--so at least
all the Bideawhiles declared among themselves. He had been so anxious
to have dealings with the man of money that he had insisted that the
title-deeds should be given up. But then the title-deeds had not been
his to surrender. The Pickering estate had been the joint property of
him and his son. The house had been already pulled down, and now the
purchaser offered bills in lieu of the purchase money! 'Do you mean to
tell me, Mr Melmotte, that you have not got the money to pay for what
you have bought, and that nevertheless the title-deeds have already
gone out of your hands?'

'I have property to ten times the value, twenty times the value,
thirty times the value,' said Melmotte proudly; 'but you must know I
should think by this time that a man engaged in large affairs cannot
always realise such a sum as eighty thousand pounds at a day's notice.'
Mr Bideawhile without using language that was absolutely vituperative
gave Mr Melmotte to understand that he thought that he and his client
had been robbed, and that he should at once take whatever severest
steps the law put in his power. As Mr Melmotte shrugged his shoulders
and made no further reply, Mr Bideawhile could only take his

The attorney, although he was bound to be staunch to his own client,
and to his own house in opposition to Mr Squercum, nevertheless was
becoming doubtful in his own mind as to the genuineness of the letter
which Dolly was so persistent in declaring that he had not signed. Mr
Longestaffe himself, who was at any rate an honest man, had given it
as his opinion that Dolly had not signed the letter. His son had
certainly refused to sign it once, and as far as he knew could have
had no opportunity of signing it since. He was all but sure that he
had left the letter under lock and key in his own drawer in the room
which had latterly become Melmotte's study as well as his own. Then,
on entering the room in Melmotte's presence,--their friendship at the
time having already ceased,--he found that his drawer was open. This
same Mr Bideawhile was with him at the time. 'Do you mean to say that
I have opened your drawer?' said Mr Melmotte. Mr Longestaffe had
become very red in the face and had replied by saying that he
certainly made no such accusation, but as certainly he had not left
the drawer unlocked. He knew his own habits and was sure that he had
never left that drawer open in his life. 'Then you must have changed
the habits of your life on this occasion,' said Mr Melmotte with
spirit. Mr Longestaffe would trust himself to no other word within the
house, but, when they were out in the street together, he assured the
lawyer that certainly that drawer had been left locked, and that to
the best of his belief the letter unsigned had been left within the
drawer. Mr Bideawhile could only remark that it was the most
unfortunate circumstance with which he had ever been concerned.

The marriage with Nidderdale would upon the whole be the best thing,
if it could only be accomplished. The reader must understand that
though Mr Melmotte had allowed himself considerable poetical licence
in that statement as to property thirty times as great as the price
which he ought to have paid for Pickering, still there was property.
The man's speculations had been so great and so wide that he did not
really know what he owned, or what he owed. But he did know that at
the present moment he was driven very hard for large sums. His chief
trust for immediate money was in Cohenlupe, in whose hands had really
been the manipulation of the shares of the Mexican railway. He had
trusted much to Cohenlupe,--more than it had been customary with him
to trust to any man. Cohenlupe assured him that nothing could be done
with the railway shares at the present moment. They had fallen under
the panic almost to nothing. Now in the time of his trouble Melmotte
wanted money from the great railway, but just because he wanted money
the great railway was worth nothing. Cohenlupe told him that he must
tide over the evil hour,--or rather over an evil month. It was at
Cohenlupe's instigation that he had offered the two bills to Mr
Bideawhile. 'Offer 'em again,' said Cohenlupe. 'He must take the bills
sooner or later.'

On the Monday afternoon Melmotte met Lord Nidderdale in the lobby of
the House. 'Have you seen Marie lately?' he said. Nidderdale had been
assured that morning, by his father's lawyer, in his father's
presence, that if he married Miss Melmotte at present he would
undoubtedly become possessed of an income amounting to something over
5,000 a year. He had intended to get more than that,--and was hardly
prepared to accept Marie at such a price; but then there probably
would be more. No doubt there was a difficulty about Pickering.
Melmotte certainly had been raising money. But this might probably be
an affair of a few weeks. Melmotte had declared that Pickering should
be made over to the young people at the marriage. His father had
recommended him to get the girl to name a day. The marriage could be
broken off at the last day if the property were not forthcoming.

'I'm going up to your house almost immediately,' said Nidderdale.

'You'll find the women at tea to a certainty between five and six,'
said Melmotte.


'Have you been thinking any more about it?' Lord Nidderdale said to
the girl as soon as Madame Melmotte had succeeded in leaving them
alone together.

'I have thought ever so much more about it,' said Marie.

'And what's the result?'

'Oh,--I'll have you.'

'That's right,' said Nidderdale, throwing himself on the sofa close to
her, so that he might put his arm round her waist.

'Wait a moment, Lord Nidderdale,' she said.

'You might as well call me John.'

'Then wait a moment,--John. You think you might as well marry me,
though you don't love me a bit.'

'That's not true, Marie.'

'Yes it is;--it's quite true. And I think just the same,--that I might
as well marry you, though I don't love you a bit.'

'But you will.'

'I don't know. I don't feel like it just at present. You had better
know the exact truth, you know. I have told my father that I did not
think you'd ever come again, but that if you did I would accept you.
But I'm not going to tell any stories about it. You know who I've been
in love with.'

'But you can't be in love with him now.'

'Why not? I can't marry him. I know that. And if he were to come to
me, I don't think that I would. He has behaved bad.'

'Have I behaved bad?'

'Not like him. You never did care, and you never said you cared.'

'Oh yes,--I have.'

'Not at first. You say it now because you think that I shall like it.
But it makes no difference now. I don't mind about your arm being
there if we are to be married, only it's just as well for both of us
to look on it as business.'

'How very hard you are, Marie.'

'No, I ain't. I wasn't hard to Sir Felix Carbury, and so I tell you. I
did love him.'

'Surely you have found him out now.'

'Yes, I have,' said Marie. 'He's a poor creature.'

'He has just been thrashed, you know, in the streets,--most horribly.'
Marie had not been told of this, and started back from her lover's
arms. 'You hadn't heard it?'

'Who has thrashed him?'

'I don't want to tell the story against him, but they say he has been
cut about in a terrible manner.'

'Why should anybody beat him? Did he do anything?'

'There was a young lady in the question, Marie.'

'A young lady! What young lady? I don't believe it. But it's nothing
to me. I don't care about anything, Lord Nidderdale;--not a bit. I
suppose you've made up all that out of your own head.'

'Indeed, no. I believe he was beaten, and I believe it was about a
young woman. But it signifies nothing to me, and I don't suppose it
signifies much to you. Don't you think we might fix a day, Marie?'

'I don't care the least,' said Marie. 'The longer it's put off the
better I shall like it;--that's all.'

'Because I'm so detestable?'

'No,--you ain't detestable. I think you are a very good fellow; only
you don't care for me. But it is detestable not being able to do what
one wants. It's detestable having to quarrel with everybody and never
to be good friends with anybody. And it's horribly detestable having
nothing on earth to give one any interest.'

'You couldn't take any interest in me?'

'Not the least.'

'Suppose you try. Wouldn't you like to know anything about the place
where we live?'

'It's a castle, I know.'

'Yes;--Castle Reekie; ever so many hundred years old.'

'I hate old places. I should like a new house, and a new dress, and a
new horse every week,--and a new lover. Your father lives at the
castle. I don't suppose we are to go and live there too.'

'We shall be there sometimes. When shall it be?'

'The year after next.'

'Nonsense, Marie.'


'You wouldn't be ready.'

'You may manage it all just as you like with papa. Oh, yes,--kiss me;
of course you may. If I'm to belong to you what does it matter? No;--I
won't say that I love you. But if ever I do say it, you may be sure it
will be true. That's more than you can say of yourself,--John.'

So the interview was over and Nidderdale walked back to the house
thinking of his lady love, as far as he was able to bring his mind to
any operation of thinking. He was fully determined to go on with it.
As far as the girl herself was concerned, she had, in these latter
days, become much more attractive to him than when he had first known
her. She certainly was not a fool. And, though he could not tell
himself that she was altogether like a lady, still she had a manner of
her own which made him think that she would be able to live with
ladies. And he did think that, in spite of all she said to the
contrary, she was becoming fond of him,--as he certainly had become
fond of her. 'Have you been up with the ladies?' Melmotte asked him.

'Oh yes.'

'And what does Marie say?'

'That you must fix the day.'

'We'll have it very soon then;--some time next month. You'll want to get
away in August. And to tell the truth so shall I. I never was worked
so hard in my life as I've been this summer. The election and that
horrid dinner had something to do with it. And I don't mind telling
you that I've had a fearful weight on my mind in reference to money. I
never had to find so many large sums in so short a time! And I'm not
quite through it yet.'

'I wonder why you gave the dinner then.'

'My dear boy,'--it was very pleasant to him to call the son of a
marquis his dear boy,--'as regards expenditure that was a flea-bite.
Nothing that I could spend myself would have the slightest effect
upon my condition one way or the other.'

'I wish it could be the same way with me,' said Nidderdale.

'If you chose to go into business with me instead of taking Marie's
money out, it very soon would be so with you. But the burden is very
great. I never know whence these panics arise, or why they come, or
whither they go. But when they do come, they are like a storm at sea.
It is only the strong ships that can stand the fury of the winds and
waves. And then the buffeting which a man gets leaves him only half
the man he was. I've had it very hard this time.'

'I suppose you are getting right now.'

'Yes;--I am getting right. I am not in any fear, if you mean that. I
don't mind telling you everything as it is settled now that you are to
be Marie's husband. I know that you are honest, and that if you could
hurt me by repeating what I say you wouldn't do it.'

'Certainly I would not.'

'You see I've no partner,--nobody that is bound to know my affairs.
My wife is the best woman in the world, but is utterly unable to
understand anything about it. Of course I can't talk freely to Marie.
Cohenlupe whom you see so much with me is all very well,--in his way,
but I never talk over my affairs with him. He is concerned with me in
one or two things,--our American railway for instance, but he has no
interest generally in my house. It is all on my own shoulders, and I
can tell you the weight is a little heavy. It will be the greatest
comfort to me in the world if I can get you to have an interest in the

'I don't suppose I could ever really be any good at business,' said
the modest young lord.

'You wouldn't come and work, I suppose. I shouldn't expect that. But
I should be glad to think that I could tell you how things are going
on. Of course you heard all that was said just before the election.
For forty-eight hours I had a very bad time of it then. The fact
was that Alf and they who were supporting him thought that they
could carry the election by running me down. They were at it for
a fortnight,--perfectly unscrupulous as to what they said or what
harm they might do me and others. I thought that very cruel. They
couldn't get their man in, but they could and did have the effect of
depreciating my property suddenly by nearly half a million of money.
Think what that is!'

'I don't understand how it could be done.'

'Because you don't understand how delicate a thing is credit. They
persuaded a lot of men to stay away from that infernal dinner, and
consequently it was spread about the town that I was ruined. The
effect upon shares which I held was instantaneous and tremendous. The
Mexican railway were at 117, and they fell from that in two days to
something quite nominal,--so that selling was out of the question.
Cohenlupe and I between us had about 8,000 of these shares. Think what
that comes to!' Nidderdale tried to calculate what it did come to, but
failed altogether. 'That's what I call a blow;--a terrible blow. When
a man is concerned as I am with money interests, and concerned largely
with them all, he is of course exchanging one property for another
every day of his life,--according as the markets go. I don't keep such
a sum as that in one concern as an investment. Nobody does. Then when
a panic comes, don't you see how it hits?'

'Will they never go up again?'

'Oh yes,--perhaps higher than ever. But it will take time. And in the
meantime I am driven to fall back upon property intended for other
purposes. That's the meaning of what you hear about that place down in
Sussex which I bought for Marie. I was so driven that I was obliged to
raise forty or fifty thousand wherever I could. But that will be all
right in a week or two. And as for Marie's money,--that, you know, is

He quite succeeded in making Nidderdale believe every word that he
spoke, and he produced also a friendly feeling in the young man's
bosom, with something approaching to a desire that he might be of
service to his future father-in-law. Hazily, as through a thick fog,
Lord Nidderdale thought that he did see something of the troubles, as
he had long seen something of the glories, of commerce on an extended
scale, and an idea occurred to him that it might be almost more
exciting than whist or unlimited loo. He resolved too that whatever
the man might tell him should never be divulged. He was on this
occasion somewhat captivated by Melmotte, and went away from the
interview with a conviction that the financier was a big man;--one with
whom he could sympathise, and to whom in a certain way he could become

And Melmotte himself had derived positive pleasure even from a
simulated confidence in his son-in-law. It had been pleasant to him
to talk as though he were talking to a young friend whom he trusted.
It was impossible that he could really admit any one to a
participation in his secrets. It was out of the question that he
should ever allow himself to be betrayed into speaking the truth of
his own affairs. Of course every word he had said to Nidderdale had
been a lie, or intended to corroborate lies. But it had not been only
on behalf of the lies that he had talked after this fashion. Even
though his friendship with the young man were but a mock friendship,--
though it would too probably be turned into bitter enmity before three
months had passed by,--still there was a pleasure in it. The Grendalls
had left him since the day of the dinner,--Miles having sent him a
letter up from the country complaining of severe illness. It was a
comfort to him to have someone to whom he could speak, and he much
preferred Nidderdale to Miles Grendall.

This conversation took place in the smoking-room. When it was over
Melmotte went into the House, and Nidderdale strolled away to the
Beargarden. The Beargarden had been opened again though with
difficulty, and with diminished luxury. Nor could even this be done
without rigid laws as to the payment of ready money. Herr Vossner had
never more been heard of, but the bills which Vossner had left unpaid
were held to be good against the club, whereas every note of hand
which he had taken from the members was left in the possession of Mr
Flatfleece. Of course there was sorrow and trouble at the Beargarden;
but still the institution had become so absolutely necessary to its
members that it had been reopened under a new management. No one had
felt this need more strongly during every hour of the day,--of the day
as he counted his days, rising as he did about an hour after noon and
going to bed three or four hours after midnight,--than did Dolly
Longestaffe. The Beargarden had become so much to him that he had
begun to doubt whether life would be even possible without such a
resort for his hours. But now the club was again open, and Dolly could
have his dinner and his bottle of wine with the luxury to which he was

But at this time he was almost mad with the sense of injury.
Circumstances had held out to him a prospect of almost unlimited ease
and indulgence. The arrangement made as to the Pickering estate would
pay all his debts, would disembarrass his own property, and would
still leave him a comfortable sum in hand. Squercum had told him that
if he would stick to his terms he would surely get them. He had stuck
to his terms and he had got them. And now the property was sold, and
the title-deeds gone,--and he had not received a penny! He did not
know whom to be loudest in abusing,--his father, the Bideawhiles, or Mr
Melmotte. And then it was said that he had signed that letter! He was
very open in his manner of talking about his misfortune at the club.
His father was the most obstinate old fool that ever lived. As for the
Bideawhiles,--he would bring an action against them. Squercum had
explained all that to him. But Melmotte was the biggest rogue the
world had ever produced. 'By George! the world,' he said, 'must be
coming to an end. There's that infernal scoundrel sitting in
Parliament just as if he had not robbed me of my property, and forged
my name, and--and--by George! he ought to be hung. If any man ever
deserved to be hung, that man deserves to be hung.' This he spoke
openly in the coffee-room of the club, and was still speaking as
Nidderdale was taking his seat at one of the tables. Dolly had been
dining, and had turned round upon his chair so as to face some
half-dozen men whom he was addressing.

Nidderdale leaving his chair walked up to him very gently. 'Dolly,'
said he, 'do not go on in that way about Melmotte when I am in the
room. I have no doubt you are mistaken, and so you'll find out in a
day or two. You don't know Melmotte.'

'Mistaken!' Dolly still continued to exclaim with a loud voice. 'Am I
mistaken in supposing that I haven't been paid my money?'

'I don't believe it has been owing very long.'

'Am I mistaken in supposing that my name has been forged to a letter?'

'I am sure you are mistaken if you think that Melmotte had anything to
do with it.'

'Squercum says--'

'Never mind Squercum. We all know what are the suspicions of a fellow
of that kind.'

'I'd believe Squercum a deuced sight sooner than Melmotte.'

'Look here, Dolly. I know more probably of Melmotte's affairs than you
do or perhaps than anybody else. If it will induce you to remain quiet
for a few days and to hold your tongue here,--I'll make myself
responsible for the entire sum he owes you.'

'The devil you will.'

'I will indeed.'

Nidderdale was endeavouring to speak so that only Dolly should hear
him, and probably nobody else did hear him; but Dolly would not lower
his voice. 'That's out of the question, you know,' he said. 'How could
I take your money? The truth is, Nidderdale, the man is a thief, and
so you'll find out, sooner or later. He has broken open a drawer in my
father's room and forged my name to a letter. Everybody knows it. Even
my governor knows it now,--and Bideawhile. Before many days are over
you'll find that he will be in gaol for forgery.'

This was very unpleasant, as every one knew that Nidderdale was either
engaged or becoming engaged to Melmotte's daughter.

'Since you will speak about it in this public way--' began Nidderdale.

'I think it ought to be spoken about in a public way,' said Dolly.

'I deny it as publicly. I can't say anything about the letter except
that I am sure Mr Melmotte did not put your name to it. From what I
understand there seems to have been some blunder between your father
and his lawyer.'

'That's true enough,' said Dolly; 'but it doesn't excuse Melmotte.'

'As to the money, there can be no more doubt that it will be paid than
that I stand here. What is it?--twenty-five thousand, isn't it?'

'Eighty thousand, the whole.'

'Well,--eighty thousand. It's impossible to suppose that such a man
as Melmotte shouldn't be able to raise eighty thousand pounds.'

'Why don't he do it then?' asked Dolly.

All this was very unpleasant and made the club less social than it
used to be in old days. There was an attempt that night to get up a
game of cards; but Nidderdale would not play because he was offended
with Dolly Longestaffe; and Miles Grendall was away in the country,--a
fugitive from the face of Melmotte, and Carbury was in hiding at home
with his countenance from top to bottom supported by plasters, and
Montague in these days never went to the club. At the present moment
he was again in Liverpool, having been summoned thither by Mr
Ramsbottom. 'By George,' said Dolly, as he filled another pipe and
ordered more brandy and water, 'I think everything is going to come to
an end. I do indeed. I never heard of such a thing before as a man
being done in this way. And then Vossner has gone off, and it seems
everybody is to pay just what he says they owed him. And now one can't
even get up a game of cards. I feel as though there were no good in
hoping that things would ever come right again.'

The opinion of the club was a good deal divided as to the matter in
dispute between Lord Nidderdale and Dolly Longestaffe. It was admitted
by some to be 'very fishy.' If Melmotte were so great a man why didn't
he pay the money, and why should he have mortgaged the property before
it was really his own? But the majority of the men thought that Dolly
was wrong. As to the signature of the letter, Dolly was a man who
would naturally be quite unable to say what he had and what he had not
signed. And then, even into the Beargarden there had filtered, through
the outer world, a feeling that people were not now bound to be so
punctilious in the paying of money as they were a few years since. No
doubt it suited Melmotte to make use of the money, and therefore,--as
he had succeeded in getting the property into his hands,--he did make
use of it. But it would be forthcoming sooner or later! In this way of
looking at the matter the Beargarden followed the world at large. The
world at large, in spite of the terrible falling-off at the Emperor of
China's dinner, in spite of all the rumours, in spite of the ruinous
depreciation of the Mexican Railway stock, and of the undoubted fact
that Dolly Longestaffe had not received his money, was inclined to
think that Melmotte would 'pull through.'


Mr Squercum all this time was in a perfect fever of hard work and
anxiety. It may be said of him that he had been quite sharp enough to
perceive the whole truth. He did really know it all,--if he could prove
that which he knew. He had extended his inquiries in the city till he
had convinced himself that, whatever wealth Melmotte might have had
twelve months ago, there was not enough of it left at present to cover
the liabilities. Squercum was quite sure that Melmotte was not a
falling, but a fallen star,--perhaps not giving sufficient credence to
the recuperative powers of modern commerce. Squercum told a certain
stockbroker in the City, who was his specially confidential friend,
that Melmotte was a 'gone coon.' The stockbroker made also some few
inquiries, and on that evening agreed with Squercum that Melmotte was
a 'gone coon.' If such were the case it would positively be the making
of Squercum if it could be so managed that he should appear as the
destroying angel of this offensive dragon. So Squercum raged among the
Bideawhiles, who were unable altogether to shut their doors against
him. They could not dare to bid defiance to Squercum,--feeling that
they had themselves blundered, and feeling also that they must be
careful not to seem to screen a fault by a falsehood. 'I suppose you
give it up about the letter having been signed by my client,' said
Squercum to the elder of the two younger Bideawhiles.

'I give up nothing and I assert nothing,' said the superior attorney.
'Whether the letter be genuine or not we had no reason to believe it
to be otherwise. The young gentleman's signature is never very plain,
and this one is about as like any other as that other would be like
the last.'

'Would you let me look at it again, Mr Bideawhile?' Then the letter
which had been very often inspected during the last ten days was
handed to Mr Squercum. 'It's a stiff resemblance;--such as he never
could have written had he tried it ever so.'

'Perhaps not, Mr Squercum. We are not generally on the look out for
forgeries in letters from our clients or our clients' sons.'

'Just so, Mr Bideawhile. But then Mr Longestaffe had already told you
that his son would not sign the letter.'

'How is one to know when and how and why a young man like that will
change his purpose?'

'Just so, Mr Bideawhile. But you see, after such a declaration as that
on the part of my client's father, the letter,--which is in itself a
little irregular perhaps--'

'I don't know that it's irregular at all.'

'Well;--it didn't reach you in a very confirmatory manner. We'll just
say that. What Mr Longestaffe can have been at to wish to give up his
title-deeds without getting anything for them--'

'Excuse me, Mr Squercum, but that's between Mr Longestaffe and us.'

'Just so;--but as Mr Longestaffe and you have jeopardised my client's
property it is natural that I should make a few remarks. I think you'd
have made a few remarks yourself, Mr Bideawhile, if the case had been
reversed. I shall bring the matter before the Lord Mayor, you know.'
To this Mr Bideawhile said not a word. 'And I think I understand you
now that you do not intend to insist on the signature as being

'I say nothing about it, Mr Squercum. I think you'll find it very hard
to prove that it's not genuine.'

'My client's oath, Mr Bideawhile.'

'I'm afraid your client is not always very clear as to what he does.'

'I don't know what you mean by that, Mr Bideawhile. I fancy that if I
were to speak in that way of your client you would be very angry with
me. Besides, what does it all amount to? Will the old gentleman say
that he gave the letter into his son's hands, so that, even if such a
freak should have come into my client's head, he could have signed it
and sent it off? If I understand, Mr Longestaffe says that he locked
the letter up in a drawer in the very room which Melmotte occupied,
and that he afterwards found the drawer open. It won't, I suppose, be
alleged that my client knew so little what he was about that he broke
open the drawer in order that he might get at the letter. Look at it
whichever way you will, he did not sign it, Mr Bideawhile.'

'I have never said he did. All I say is that we had fair ground for
supposing that it was his letter. I really don't know that I can say
anything more.'

'Only that we are to a certain degree in the same boat together in
this matter.'

'I won't admit even that, Mr Squercum.'

'The difference being that your client by his fault has jeopardised
his own interests and those of my client, while my client has not been
in fault at all. I shall bring the matter forward before the Lord
Mayor to-morrow, and as at present advised shall ask for an
investigation with reference to a charge of fraud. I presume you will
be served with a subpoena to bring the letter into court.'

'If so you may be sure that we shall produce it.' Then Mr Squercum
took his leave and went straight away to Mr Bumby, a barrister well
known in the City. The game was too powerful to be hunted down by Mr
Squercum's unassisted hands. He had already seen Mr Bumby on the
matter more than once. Mr Bumby was inclined to doubt whether it might
not be better to get the money, or some guarantee for the money. Mr
Bumby thought that if a bill at three months could be had for Dolly's
share of the property it might be expedient to take it. Mr Squercum
suggested that the property itself might be recovered, no genuine sale
having been made. Mr Bumby shook his head. 'Title-deeds give
possession, Mr Squercum. You don't suppose that the company which has
lent money to Melmotte on the title-deeds would have to lose it. Take
the bill; and if it is dishonoured run your chance of what you'll get
out of the property. There must be assets.'

'Every rap will have been made over,' said Mr Squercum.

This took place on the Monday, the day on which Melmotte had offered
his full confidence to his proposed son-in-law. On the following
Wednesday three gentlemen met together in the study in the house in
Bruton Street from which it was supposed that the letter had been
abstracted. There were Mr Longestaffe, the father, Dolly Longestaffe,
and Mr Bideawhile. The house was still in Melmotte's possession, and
Melmotte and Mr Longestaffe were no longer on friendly terms. Direct
application for permission to have this meeting in this place had been
formally made to Mr Melmotte, and he had complied. The meeting took
place at eleven o'clock--a terribly early hour. Dolly had at first
hesitated as to placing himself as he thought between the fire of two
enemies, and Mr Squercum had told him that as the matter would
probably soon be made public, he could not judiciously refuse to meet
his father and the old family lawyer. Therefore Dolly had attended, at
great personal inconvenience to himself. 'By George, it's hardly worth
having if one is to take all this trouble about it,' Dolly had said to
Lord Grasslough, with whom he had fraternised since the quarrel with
Nidderdale. Dolly entered the room last, and at that time neither Mr
Longestaffe nor Mr Bideawhile had touched the drawer, or even the
table, in which the letter had been deposited.

'Now, Mr Longestaffe,' said Mr Bideawhile, 'perhaps you will show us
where you think you put the letter.'

'I don't think at all,' said he. 'Since the matter has been discussed
the whole thing has come back upon my memory.'

'I never signed it,' said Dolly, standing with his hands in his
pockets and interrupting his father.

'Nobody says you did, sir,' rejoined the father with an angry voice.
'If you will condescend to listen we may perhaps arrive at the truth.'

'But somebody has said that I did. I've been told that Mr Bideawhile
says so.'

'No, Mr Longestaffe; no. We have never said so. We have only said that
we had no reason for supposing the letter to be other than genuine. We
have never gone beyond that.'

'Nothing on earth would have made me sign it,' said Dolly. 'Why should
I have given my property up before I got my money? I never heard such
a thing in my life.'

The father looked up at the lawyer and shook his head, testifying as
to the hopelessness of his son's obstinacy. 'Now, Mr Longestaffe,'
continued the lawyer, 'let us see where you put the letter.'

Then the father very slowly, and with much dignity of deportment,
opened the drawer,--the second drawer from the top, and took from it a
bundle of papers very carefully folded and docketed, 'There,' said he,
'the letter was not placed in the envelope but on the top of it, and
the two were the two first documents in the bundle.' He went on to say
that as far as he knew no other paper had been taken away. He was
quite certain that he had left the drawer locked. He was very
particular in regard to that particular drawer, and he remembered that
about this time Mr Melmotte had been in the room with him when he had
opened it, and,--as he was certain,--had locked it again. At that
special time there had been, he said, considerable intimacy between him
and Melmotte. It was then that Mr Melmotte had offered him a seat at
the Board of the Mexican railway.

'Of course he picked the lock, and stole the letter,' said Dolly.
'It's as plain as a pikestaff. It's clear enough to hang any man.'

'I am afraid that it falls short of evidence, however strong and just
may be the suspicion induced,' said the lawyer. 'Your father for a
time was not quite certain about the letter.'

'He thought that I had signed it,' said Dolly.

'I am quite certain now,' rejoined the father angrily. 'A man has to
collect his memory before he can be sure of anything.'

'I am thinking you know how it would go to a jury.'

'What I want to know is how are we to get the money,' said Dolly. 'I
should like to see him hung of,--course; but I'd sooner have the money.
Squercum says--'

'Adolphus, we don't want to know here what Mr Squercum says.'

'I don't know why what Mr Squercum says shouldn't be as good as what
Mr Bideawhile says. Of course Squercum doesn't sound very

'Quite as much so as Bideawhile, no doubt,' said the lawyer laughing.

'No; Squercum isn't aristocratic, and Fetter Lane is a good deal lower
than Lincoln's Inn. Nevertheless Squercum may know what he's about. It
was Squercum who was first down upon Melmotte in this matter, and if
it wasn't for Squercum we shouldn't know as much about it as we do at
present.' Squercum's name was odious to the elder Longestaffe. He
believed, probably without much reason, that all his family troubles
came to him from Squercum, thinking that if his son would have left
his affairs in the hands of the old Slows and the old Bideawhiles,
money would never have been scarce with him, and that he would not
have made this terrible blunder about the Pickering property. And the
sound of Squercum, as his son knew, was horrid to his ears. He hummed
and hawed, and fumed and fretted about the room, shaking his head and
frowning. His son looked at him as though quite astonished at his
displeasure. 'There's nothing more to be done here, sir, I suppose,'
said Dolly putting on his hat.

'Nothing more,' said Mr Bideawhile. 'It may be that I shall have to
instruct counsel, and I thought it well that I should see in the
presence of both of you exactly how the thing stood. You speak so
positively, Mr Longestaffe, that there can be no doubt?'

'There is no doubt.'

'And now perhaps you had better lock the drawer in our presence. Stop
a moment--I might as well see whether there is any sign of violence
having been used.' So saying Mr Bideawhile knelt down in front of the
table and began to examine the lock. This he did very carefully and
satisfied himself that there was 'no sign of violence.' 'Whoever has
done it, did it very well,' said Bideawhile.

'Of course Melmotte did it,' said Dolly Longestaffe standing
immediately over Bideawhile's shoulder.

At that moment there was a knock at the door,--a very distinct, and,
we may say, a formal knock. There are those who knock and immediately
enter without waiting for the sanction asked. Had he who knocked done
so on this occasion Mr Bideawhile would have been found still on his
knees, with his nose down to the level of the keyhole. But the
intruder did not intrude rapidly, and the lawyer jumped on to his
feet, almost upsetting Dolly with the effort. There was a pause,
during which Mr Bideawhile moved away from the table,--as he might
have done had he been picking a lock;--and then Mr Longestaffe bade the
stranger come in with a sepulchral voice. The door was opened, and Mr
Melmotte appeared.

Now Mr Melmotte's presence certainly had not been expected. It was
known that it was his habit to be in the City at this hour. It was
known also that he was well aware that this meeting was to be held in
this room at this special hour,--and he might well have surmised with
what view. There was now declared hostility between both the
Longestaffes and Mr Melmotte, and it certainly was supposed by all the
gentlemen concerned that he would not have put himself out of the way
to meet them on this occasion. 'Gentlemen,' he said, 'perhaps you
think that I am intruding at the present moment.' No one said that he
did not think so. The elder Longestaffe simply bowed very coldly. Mr
Bideawhile stood upright and thrust his thumbs into his waistcoat
pockets. Dolly, who at first forgot to take his hat off, whistled a
bar, and then turned a pirouette on his heel. That was his mode of
expressing his thorough surprise at the appearance of his debtor. 'I
fear that you do think I am intruding,' said Melmotte, 'but I trust
that what I have to say will be held to excuse me. I see, sir,' he
said, turning to Mr Longestaffe, and glancing at the still open
drawer, 'that you have been examining your desk. I hope that you will
be more careful in locking it than you were when you left it before.'

'The drawer was locked when I left it,' said Mr Longestaffe. 'I make
no deductions and draw no conclusions, but the drawer was locked.'

'Then I should say it must have been locked when you returned to it.'

'No, sir, I found it open. I make no deductions and draw no
conclusions,--but I left it locked and I found it open.'

'I should make a deduction and draw a conclusion,' said Dolly; 'and
that would be that somebody else had opened it.'

'This can answer no purpose at all,' said Bideawhile.

'It was but a chance remark,' said Melmotte. 'I did not come here out
of the City at very great personal inconvenience to myself to squabble
about the lock of the drawer. As I was informed that you three gentlemen
would be here together, I thought the opportunity a suitable one for
meeting you and making you an offer about this unfortunate business.' He
paused a moment; but neither of the three spoke. It did occur to Dolly
to ask them to wait while he should fetch Squercum; but on second
thoughts he reflected that a great deal of trouble would have to be
taken, and probably for no good. 'Mr Bideawhile, I believe,' suggested
Melmotte; and the lawyer bowed his head. 'If I remember rightly I
wrote to you offering to pay the money due to your clients--'

'Squercum is my lawyer,' said Dolly.

'That will make no difference.'

'It makes a deal of difference,' said Dolly.

'I wrote,' continued Melmotte, 'offering my bills at three and six
months' date.'

'They couldn't be accepted, Mr Melmotte.'

'I would have allowed interest. I never have had my bills refused

'You must be aware, Mr Melmotte,' said the lawyer, 'that the sale of a
property is not like an ordinary mercantile transaction in which bills
are customarily given and taken. The understanding was that money
should be paid in the usual way. And when we learned, as we did learn,
that the property had been at once mortgaged by you, of course we
became,--well, I think I may be justified in saying more than
suspicious. It was a most,--most--unusual proceeding. You say you have
another offer to make, Mr Melmotte.'

'Of course I have been short of money. I have had enemies whose
business it has been for some time past to run down my credit, and,
with my credit, has fallen the value of stocks in which it has been
known that I have been largely interested. I tell you the truth
openly. When I purchased Pickering I had no idea that the payment of
such a sum of money could inconvenience me in the least. When the time
came at which I should pay it, stocks were so depreciated that it was
impossible to sell. Very hostile proceedings are threatened against me
now. Accusations are made, false as hell,'--Mr Melmotte as he spoke
raised his voice and looked round the room 'but which at the present
crisis may do me most cruel damage. I have come to say that, if you
will undertake to stop proceedings which have been commenced in the
City, I will have fifty thousand pounds,--which is the amount due to
these two gentlemen,--ready for payment on Friday at noon.'

'I have taken no proceedings as yet,' said Bideawhile.

'It's Squercum,' says Dolly.

'Well, sir,' continued Melmotte addressing Dolly, 'let me assure you
that if these proceedings are stayed the money will be forthcoming;--
but if not, I cannot produce the money. I little thought two months ago
that I should ever have to make such a statement in reference to such
a sum as fifty thousand pounds. But so it is. To raise that money by
Friday, I shall have to cripple my resources frightfully. It will be
done at a terrible cost. But what Mr Bideawhile says is true. I have
no right to suppose that the purchase of this property should be
looked upon as an ordinary commercial transaction. The money should
have been paid,--and, if you will now take my word, the money shall be
paid. But this cannot be done if I am made to appear before the Lord
Mayor to-morrow. The accusations brought against me are damnably false.
I do not know with whom they have originated. Whoever did originate
them, they are damnably false. But unfortunately, false as they are,
in the present crisis, they may be ruinous to me. Now gentlemen,
perhaps you will give me an answer.'

Both the father and the lawyer looked at Dolly. Dolly was in truth the
accuser through the mouthpiece of his attorney Squercum. It was at
Dolly's instance that these proceedings were being taken. 'I, on
behalf of my client,' said Mr Bideawhile, 'will consent to wait till
Friday at noon.'

'I presume, Adolphus, that you will say as much,' said the elder

Dolly Longestaffe was certainly not an impressionable person, but
Melmotte's eloquence had moved even him. It was not that he was sorry
for the man, but that at the present moment he believed him. Though he
had been absolutely sure that Melmotte had forged his name or caused
it to be forged,--and did not now go so far into the matter as to
abandon that conviction,--he had been talked into crediting the reasons
given for Melmotte's temporary distress, and also into a belief that
the money would be paid on Friday. Something of the effect which
Melmotte's false confessions had had upon Lord Nidderdale, they now
also had on Dolly Longestaffe. 'I'll ask Squercum, you know,' he said.

'Of course Mr Squercum will act as you instruct him,' said Bideawhile.

'I'll ask Squercum. I'll go to him at once. I can't do any more than
that. And upon my word, Mr Melmotte, you've given me a great deal of

Melmotte with a smile apologized. Then it was settled that they three
should meet in that very room on Friday at noon, and that the payment
should then be made,--Dolly stipulating that as his father would be
attended by Bideawhile, so would he be attended by Squercum. To this
Mr Longestaffe senior yielded with a very bad grace.


Lady Carbury was at this time so miserable in regard to her son that
she found herself unable to be active as she would otherwise have been
in her endeavours to separate Paul Montague and her daughter. Roger
had come up to town and given his opinion, very freely at any rate
with regard to Sir Felix. But Roger had immediately returned to
Suffolk, and the poor mother in want of assistance and consolation
turned naturally to Mr Broune, who came to see her for a few minutes
almost every evening. It had now become almost a part of Mr Broune's
life to see Lady Carbury once in the day. She told him of the two
propositions which Roger had made: first, that she should fix her
residence in some second-rate French or German town, and that Sir
Felix should be made to go with her; and, secondly, that she should
take possession of Carbury manor for six months. 'And where would Mr
Carbury go?' asked Mr Broune.

'He's so good that he doesn't care what he does with himself. There's
a cottage on the place, he says, that he would move to.' Mr Broune
shook his head. Mr Broune did not think that an offer so quixotically
generous as this should be accepted. As to the German or French town,
Mr Broune said that the plan was no doubt feasible, but he doubted
whether the thing to be achieved was worth the terrible sacrifice
demanded. He was inclined to think that Sir Felix should go to the
colonies. 'That he might drink himself to death,' said Lady Carbury,
who now had no secrets from Mr Broune. Sir Felix in the meantime was
still in the doctor's hands upstairs. He had no doubt been very
severely thrashed, but there was not in truth very much ailing him
beyond the cuts on his face. He was, however, at the present moment
better satisfied to be an invalid than to have to come out of his room
and to meet the world. 'As to Melmotte,' said Mr Broune, 'they say now
that he is in some terrible mess which will ruin him and all who have
trusted him.'

'And the girl?'

'It is impossible to understand it at all. Melmotte was to have been
summoned before the Lord Mayor to-day on some charge of fraud;--but it
was postponed. And I was told this morning that Nidderdale still means
to marry the girl. I don't think anybody knows the truth about it. We
shall hold our tongue about him till we really do know something.' The
'we' of whom Mr Broune spoke was, of course, the 'Morning Breakfast

But in all this there was nothing about Hetta. Hetta, however, thought
very much of her own condition, and found herself driven to take some
special step by the receipt of two letters from her lover, written to
her from Liverpool. They had never met since she had confessed her
love to him. The first letter she did not at once answer, as she was
at that moment waiting to hear what Roger Carbury would say about Mrs
Hurtle. Roger Carbury had spoken, leaving a conviction on her mind
that Mrs Hurtle was by no means a fiction,--but indeed a fact very
injurious to her happiness. Then Paul's second love-letter had come,
full of joy, and love, and contentment,--with not a word in it which
seemed to have been in the slightest degree influenced by the
existence of a Mrs Hurtle. Had there been no Mrs Hurtle, the letter
would have been all that Hetta could have desired; and she could have
answered it, unless forbidden by her mother, with all a girl's usual
enthusiastic affection for her chosen lord. But it was impossible that
she should now answer it in that strain;--and it was equally impossible
that she should leave such letters unanswered. Roger had told her to
'ask himself;' and she now found herself constrained to bid him either
come to her and answer the question, or, if he thought it better, to
give her some written account of Mrs Hurtle so that she might know who
the lady was, and whether the lady's condition did in any way
interfere with her own happiness. So she wrote to Paul, as follows:

'Welbeck Street, 16 July, 18--

'MY DEAR PAUL.' She found that after that which had passed between them
she could not call him 'My dear Sir,' or 'My dear Mr Montague,' and
that it must either be 'Sir' or 'My dear Paul.' He was dear to her,--
very dear; and she thought that he had not been as yet convicted of any
conduct bad enough to force her to treat him as an outcast. Had there
been no Mrs Hurtle he would have been her 'Dearest Paul,'--but she made
her choice, and so commenced.


A strange report has come round to me about a lady called Mrs
Hurtle. I have been told that she is an American lady living in
London, and that she is engaged to be your wife. I cannot
believe this. It is too horrid to be true. But I fear,--I fear
there is something true that will be very very sad for me to
hear. It was from my brother I first heard it,--who was of
course bound to tell me anything he knew. I have talked to mamma
about it, and to my cousin Roger. I am sure Roger knows it
all;--but he will not tell me. He said,--"Ask himself." And so I
ask you. Of course I can write about nothing else till I have
heard about this. I am sure I need not tell you that it has made
me very unhappy. If you cannot come and see me at once, you had
better write. I have told mamma about this letter.

Then came the difficulty of the signature, with the declaration which
must naturally be attached to it. After some hesitation she subscribed

Your affectionate friend,


'Most affectionately your own Hetta' would have been the form in which
she would have wished to finish the first letter she had ever written
to him.

Paul received it at Liverpool on the Wednesday morning, and on the
Wednesday evening he was in Welbeck Street. He had been quite aware
that it had been incumbent on him to tell her the whole history of Mrs
Hurtle. He had meant to keep back--almost nothing. But it had been
impossible for him to do so on that one occasion on which he had
pleaded his love to her successfully. Let any reader who is
intelligent in such matters say whether it would have been possible
for him then to have commenced the story of Mrs Hurtle and to have
told it to the bitter end. Such a story must be postponed for a second
or third interview. Or it may, indeed, be communicated by letter. When
Paul was called away to Liverpool he did consider whether he should
write the story. But there are many reasons strong against such
written communications. A man may desire that the woman he loves
should hear the record of his folly,--so that, in after days, there
may be nothing to detect: so that, should the Mrs Hurtle of his life
at any time intrude upon his happiness, he may with a clear brow and
undaunted heart say to his beloved one,--'Ah, this is the trouble of
which I spoke to you.' And then he and his beloved one will be in one
cause together. But he hardly wishes to supply his beloved one with a
written record of his folly. And then who does not know how much
tenderness a man may show to his own faults by the tone of his voice,
by half-spoken sentences, and by an admixture of words of love for the
lady who has filled up the vacant space once occupied by the Mrs
Hurtle of his romance? But the written record must go through from
beginning to end, self-accusing, thoroughly perspicuous, with no
sweet, soft falsehoods hidden under the half-expressed truth. The soft
falsehoods which would be sweet as the scent of violets in a personal
interview, would stand in danger of being denounced as deceit added to
deceit, if sent in a letter. I think therefore that Paul Montague did
quite right in hurrying up to London.

He asked for Miss Carbury, and when told that Miss Henrietta was with
her mother, he sent his name up and said that he would wait in the
dining-room. He had thoroughly made up his mind to this course. They
should know that he had come at once; but he would not, if it could be
helped, make his statement in the presence of Lady Carbury. Then,
upstairs, there was a little discussion. Hetta pleaded her right to
see him alone. She had done what Roger had advised, and had done it
with her mother's consent. Her mother might be sure that she would not
again accept her lover till this story of Mrs Hurtle had been sifted
to the very bottom. But she must herself hear what her lover had to
say for himself. Felix was at the time in the drawing-room and
suggested that he should go down and see Paul Montague on his sister's
behalf;--but his mother looked at him with scorn, and his sister
quietly said that she would rather see Mr Montague herself. Felix had
been so cowed by circumstances that he did not say another word, and
Hetta left the room alone.

When she entered the parlour Paul stept forward to take her in his
arms. That was a matter of course. She knew it would be so, and she
had prepared herself for it. 'Paul,' she said, 'let me hear about all
this--first.' She sat down at some distance from him,--and he found
himself compelled to seat himself at some distance from her.

'And so you have heard of Mrs Hurtle,' he said, with a faint attempt
at a smile.

'Yes;--Felix told me, and Roger evidently had heard about her.'

'Oh yes; Roger Carbury has heard about her from the beginning;--knows
the whole history almost as well as I know it myself. I don't think
your brother is as well informed.'

'Perhaps not. But--isn't it a story that--concerns me?'

'Certainly it so far concerns you, Hetta, that you ought to know it.
And I trust you will believe that it was my intention to tell it you.'

'I will believe anything that you will tell me.'

'If so, I don't think that you will quarrel with me when you know all.
I was engaged to marry Mrs Hurtle.'

'Is she a widow?'--He did not answer this at once. 'I suppose she must
be a widow if you were going to marry her.'

'Yes;--she is a widow. She was divorced.'

'Oh, Paul! And she is an American?'


'And you loved her?'

Montague was desirous of telling his own story, and did not wish to be
interrogated. 'If you will allow me I will tell it you all from
beginning to end.'

'Oh, certainly. But I suppose you loved her. If you meant to marry her
you must have loved her.' There was a frown upon Hetta's brow and a
tone of anger in her voice which made Paul uneasy.

'Yes;--I loved her once; but I will tell you all.' Then he did tell
his story, with a repetition of which the reader need not be detained.
Hetta listened with fair attention,--not interrupting very often,
though when she did interrupt, the little words which she spoke were
bitter enough. But she heard the story of the long journey across the
American continent, of the ocean journey before the end of which Paul
had promised to make this woman his wife. 'Had she been divorced
then?' asked Hetta,--'because I believe they get themselves divorced
just when they like.' Simple as the question was he could not answer
it. 'I could only know what she told me,' he said, as he went on with
his story. Then Mrs Hurtle had gone on to Paris, and he, as soon as he
reached Carbury, had revealed everything to Roger. 'Did you give her
up then?' demanded Hetta with stern severity. No;--not then. He had
gone back to San Francisco, and,--he had not intended to say that the
engagement had been renewed, but he was forced to acknowledge that it
had not been broken off. Then he had written to her on his second
return to England,--and then she had appeared in London at Mrs Pipkin's
lodgings in Islington. 'I can hardly tell you how terrible that was to
me,' he said, 'for I had by that time become quite aware that my
happiness must depend upon you.' He tried the gentle, soft falsehoods
that should have been as sweet as violets. Perhaps they were sweet. It
is odd how stern a girl can be, while her heart is almost breaking
with love. Hetta was very stern.

'But Felix says you took her to Lowestoft,--quite the other day.'

Montague had intended to tell all,--almost all. There was a something
about the journey to Lowestoft which it would be impossible to make
Hetta understand, and he thought that that might be omitted. 'It was
on account of her health.'

'Oh;--on account of her health. And did you go to the play with her?'

'I did.'

'Was that for her health?'

'Oh, Hetta, do not speak to me like that! Cannot you understand that
when she came here, following me, I could not desert her?'

'I cannot understand why you deserted her at all,' said Hetta. 'You
say you loved her, and you promised to marry her. It seems horrid to
me to marry a divorced woman,--a woman who just says that she was
divorced. But that is because I don't understand American ways. And I
am sure you must have loved her when you took her to the theatre, and
down to Lowestoft,--for her health. That was only a week ago.'

'It was nearly three weeks,' said Paul in despair.

'Oh;--nearly three weeks! That is not such a very long time for a
gentleman to change his mind on such a matter. You were engaged to
her, not three weeks ago.'

'No, Hetta, I was not engaged to her then.'

'I suppose she thought you were when she went to Lowestoft with you.'

'She wanted then to force me to--to--to--. Oh, Hetta, it is so hard to
explain, but I am sure that you understand. I do know that you do not,
cannot think that I have, even for one moment, been false to you.'

'But why should you be false to her? Why should I step in and crush
all her hopes? I can understand that Roger should think badly of her
because she was--divorced. Of course he would. But an engagement is an
engagement. You had better go back to Mrs Hurtle and tell her that you
are quite ready to keep your promise.'

'She knows now that it is all over.'

'I dare say you will be able to persuade her to reconsider it. When
she came all the way here from San Francisco after you, and when she
asked you to take her to the theatre, and to Lowestoft--because of
her health, she must be very much attached to you. And she is waiting
here,--no doubt on purpose for you. She is a very old friend,--very
old,--and you ought not to treat her unkindly. Good bye, Mr Montague.
I think you had better lose no time in going--back to Mrs Hurtle.' All
this she said with sundry little impedimentary gurgles in her throat,
but without a tear and without any sign of tenderness.

'You don't mean to tell me, Hetta, that you are going to quarrel with

'I don't know about quarrelling. I don't wish to quarrel with any one.
But of course we can't be friends when you have married Mrs Hurtle.'

'Nothing on earth would induce me to marry her.'

'Of course I cannot say anything about that. When they told me this
story I did not believe them. No; I hardly believed Roger when,--he
would not tell it for he was too kind,--but when he would not contradict
it. It seemed to be almost impossible that you should have come to me
just at the very same moment. For, after all, Mr Montague, nearly
three weeks is a very short time. That trip to Lowestoft couldn't
have been much above a week before you came to me.'

'What does it matter?'

'Oh no; of course not;--nothing to you. I think I will go away now, Mr
Montague. It was very good of you to come and tell me all. It makes it
so much easier.'

'Do you mean to say that--you are going to--throw me over?'

'I don't want you to throw Mrs Hurtle over. Good bye.'


'No; I will not have you lay your hand upon me. Good night, Mr
Montague.' And so she left him.

Paul Montague was beside himself with dismay as he left the house. He
had never allowed himself for a moment to believe that this affair of
Mrs Hurtle would really separate him from Hetta Carbury. If she could
only really know it all, there could be no such result. He had been
true to her from the first moment in which he had seen her, never
swerving from his love. It was to be supposed that he had loved some
woman before; but, as the world goes, that would not, could not,
affect her. But her anger was founded on the presence of Mrs Hurtle in
London,--which he would have given half his possessions to have
prevented. But when she did come, was he to have refused to see her?
Would Hetta have wished him to be cold and cruel like that? No doubt
he had behaved badly to Mrs Hurtle;--but that trouble he had overcome.
And now Hetta was quarrelling with him, though he certainly had never
behaved badly to her.

He was almost angry with Hetta as he walked home. Everything that he
could do he had done for her. For her sake he had quarrelled with
Roger Carbury. For her sake,--in order that he might be effectually
free from Mrs Hurtle,--he had determined to endure the spring of the
wild cat. For her sake,--so he told himself,--he had been content to
abide by that odious railway company, in order that he might if possible
preserve an income on which to support her. And now she told him that
they must part,--and that only because he had not been cruelly
indifferent to the unfortunate woman who had followed him from
America. There was no logic in it, no reason,--and, as he thought, very
little heart. 'I don't want you to throw Mrs Hurtle over,' she had
said. Why should Mrs Hurtle be anything to her? Surely she might have
left Mrs Hurtle to fight her own battles. But they were all against
him. Roger Carbury, Lady Carbury, and Sir Felix; and the end of it
would be that she would be forced into marriage with a man almost old
enough to be her father! She could not ever really have loved him.
That was the truth. She must be incapable of such love as was his own
for her. True love always forgives. And here there was really so very
little to forgive! Such were his thoughts as he went to bed that
night. But he probably omitted to ask himself whether he would have
forgiven her very readily had he found that she had been living
'nearly three weeks ago' in close intercourse with another lover of
whom he had hitherto never even heard the name. But then,--as all the
world knows,--there is a wide difference between young men and young

Hetta, as soon as she had dismissed her lover, went up at once to her
own room. Thither she was soon followed by her mother, whose anxious
ear had heard the closing of the front door. 'Well; what has he said?'
asked Lady Carbury. Hetta was in tears,--or very nigh to tears,--
struggling to repress them, and struggling almost successfully. 'You
have found that what we told you about that woman was all true.'

'Enough of it was true,' said Hetta, who, angry as she was with her
lover, was not on that account less angry with her mother for
disturbing her bliss.

'What do you mean by that, Hetta? Had you not better speak to me

'I say, mamma, that enough was true. I do not know how to speak more
openly. I need not go into all the miserable story of the woman. He is
like other men, I suppose. He has entangled himself with some
abominable creature and then when he is tired of her thinks that he
has nothing to do but to say so,--and to begin with somebody else.'

'Roger Carbury is very different.'

'Oh, mamma, you will make me ill if you go on like that. It seems to
me that you do not understand in the least.'

'I say he is not like that.'

'Not in the least. Of course I know that he is not in the least like

'I say that he can be trusted.'

'Of course he can be trusted. Who doubts it?'

'And that if you would give yourself to him, there would be no cause
for any alarm.'

'Mamma,' said Hetta jumping up, 'how can you talk to me in that way?
As soon as one man doesn't suit, I am to give myself to another! Oh,
mamma, how can you propose it? Nothing on earth will ever induce me to
be more to Roger Carbury than I am now.'

'You have told Mr Montague that he is not to come here again?'

'I don't know what I told him, but he knows very well what I mean.'

'That it is all over?' Hetta made no reply. 'Hetta, I have a right to
ask that, and I have a right to expect a reply. I do not say that you
have hitherto behaved badly about Mr Montague.'

'I have not behaved badly. I have told you everything. I have done
nothing that I am ashamed of.'

'But we have now found out that he has behaved very badly. He has come
here to you,--with unexampled treachery to your cousin Roger--'

'I deny that,' exclaimed Hetta.

'And at the very time was almost living with this woman who says that
she is divorced from her husband in America! Have you told him that
you will see him no more?'

'He understood that.'

'If you have not told him so plainly, I must tell him.'

'Mamma, you need not trouble yourself. I have told him very plainly.'
Then Lady Carbury expressed herself satisfied for the moment, and left
her daughter to her solitude.


When Mr Melmotte made his promise to Mr Longestaffe and to Dolly, in
the presence of Mr Bideawhile, that he would, on the next day but one,
pay to them a sum of fifty thousand pounds, thereby completing,
satisfactorily as far as they were concerned, the purchase of the
Pickering property, he intended to be as good as his word. The reader
knows that he had resolved to face the Longestaffe difficulty,--that
he had resolved that at any rate he would not get out of it by
sacrificing the property to which he had looked forward as a safe
haven when storms should come. But, day by day, every resolution that
he made was forced to undergo some change. Latterly he had been intent
on purchasing a noble son-in-law with this money,--still trusting to
the chapter of chances for his future escape from the Longestaffe and
other difficulties. But Squercum had been very hard upon him; and in
connexion with this accusation as to the Pickering property, there was
another, which he would be forced to face also, respecting certain
property in the East of London, with which the reader need not much
trouble himself specially, but in reference to which it was stated
that he had induced a foolish old gentleman to consent to accept
railway shares in lieu of money. The old gentleman had died during the
transaction, and it was asserted that the old gentleman's letter was
hardly genuine. Melmotte had certainly raised between twenty and
thirty thousand pounds on the property, and had made payment for it in
stock which was now worth--almost nothing at all. Melmotte thought that
he might face this matter successfully if the matter came upon him
single-handed;--but in regard to the Longestaffes he considered that
now, at this last moment, he had better pay for Pickering.

The property from which he intended to raise the necessary funds was
really his own. There could be no doubt about that. It had never been

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