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The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

Part 15 out of 19

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his intention to make it over to his daughter. When he had placed it
in her name, he had done so simply for security,--feeling that his
control over his only daughter would be perfect and free from danger.
No girl apparently less likely to take it into her head to defraud her
father could have crept quietly about a father's house. Nor did he now
think that she would disobey him when the matter was explained to her.
Heavens and earth! That he should be robbed by his own child,--robbed
openly, shamefully, with brazen audacity! It was impossible. But still
he had felt the necessity of going about this business with some
little care. It might be that she would disobey him if he simply sent
for her and bade her to affix her signature here and there. He thought
much about it and considered that it would be wise that his wife
should be present on the occasion, and that a full explanation should
be given to Marie, by which she might be made to understand that the
money had in no sense become her own. So he gave instructions to his
wife when he started into the city that morning; and when he returned,
for the sake of making his offer to the Longestaffes, he brought with
him the deeds which it would be necessary that Marie should sign, and
he brought also Mr Croll, his clerk, that Mr Croll might witness the

When he left the Longestaffes and Mr Bideawhile he went at once to his
wife's room. 'Is she here?' he asked.

'I will send for her. I have told her.'

'You haven't frightened her?'

'Why should I frighten her? It is not very easy to frighten her,
Melmotte. She is changed since these young men have been so much about

'I shall frighten her if she does not do as I bid her. Bid her come
now.' This was said in French. Then Madame Melmotte left the room, and
Melmotte arranged a lot of papers in order upon a table. Having done
so, he called to Croll, who was standing on the landing-place, and
told him to seat himself in the back drawing-room till he should be
called. Melmotte then stood with his back to the fireplace in his
wife's sitting-room, with his hands in his pockets, contemplating what
might be the incidents of the coming interview. He would be very
gracious,--affectionate if it were possible,--and, above all things,
explanatory. But, by heavens, if there were continued opposition to
his demand,--to his just demand,--if this girl should dare to insist
upon exercising her power to rob him, he would not then be affectionate
nor gracious! There was some little delay in the coming of the two
women, and he was already beginning to lose his temper when Marie
followed Madame Melmotte into the room. He at once swallowed his rising
anger with an effort. He would put a constraint upon himself The
affection and the graciousness should be all there,--as long as they
might secure the purpose in hand.

'Marie,' he began, 'I spoke to you the other day about some property
which for certain purposes was placed in your name just as we were
leaving Paris.'

'Yes, papa.'

'You were such a child then,--I mean when we left Paris,--that I could
hardly explain to you the purpose of what I did.'

'I understood it, papa.'

'You had better listen to me, my dear. I don't think you did quite
understand it. It would have been very odd if you had, as I never
explained it to you.'

'You wanted to keep it from going away if you got into trouble.'

This was so true that Melmotte did not know how at the moment to
contradict the assertion. And yet he had not intended to talk of the
possibility of trouble. 'I wanted to lay aside a large sum of money
which should not be liable to the ordinary fluctuations of commercial

'So that nobody could get at it.'

'You are a little too quick, my dear.'

'Marie, why can't you let your papa speak?' said Madame Melmotte.

'But of course, my dear,' continued Melmotte, 'I had no idea of
putting the money beyond my own reach. Such a transaction is very
common; and in such cases a man naturally uses the name of some one
who is very near and dear to him, and in whom he is sure that he can
put full confidence. And it is customary to choose a young person, as
there will then be less danger of the accident of death. It was for
these reasons, which I am sure that you will understand, that I chose
you. Of course the property remained exclusively my own.'

'But it is really mine,' said Marie.

'No, miss; it was never yours,' said Melmotte, almost bursting out
into anger, but restraining himself. 'How could it become yours,
Marie? Did I ever make you a gift of it?'

'But I know that it did become mine,--legally.'

'By a quibble of law,--yes; but not so as to give you any right to it.
I always draw the income.'

'But I could stop that, papa,--and if I were married, of course it
would be stopped.'

Then, quick as a flash of lightning, another idea occurred to
Melmotte, who feared that he already began to see that this child of
his might be stiff-necked. 'As we are thinking of your marriage,' he
said, 'it is necessary that a change should be made. Settlements must
be drawn for the satisfaction of Lord Nidderdale and his father. The
old Marquis is rather hard upon me, but the marriage is so splendid
that I have consented. You must now sign these papers in four or five
places. Mr Croll is here, in the next room, to witness your signature,
and I will call him.'

'Wait a moment, papa.'

'Why should we wait?'

'I don't think I will sign them.'

'Why not sign them? You can't really suppose that the property is your
own. You could not even get it if you did think so.'

'I don't know how that may be; but I had rather not sign them. If I am
to be married, I ought not to sign anything except what he tells me.'

'He has no authority over you yet. I have authority over you. Marie,
do not give more trouble. I am very much pressed for time. Let me call
in Mr Croll.'

'No, papa,' she said.

Then came across his brow that look which had probably first induced
Marie to declare that she would endure to be 'cut to pieces,' rather
than to yield in this or that direction. The lower jaw squared itself
and the teeth became set, and the nostrils of his nose became
extended,--and Marie began to prepare herself to be 'cut to pieces.'
But he reminded himself that there was another game which he had
proposed to play before he resorted to anger and violence. He would
tell her how much depended on her compliance. Therefore he relaxed the
frown,--as well as he knew how, and softened his face towards her, and
turned again to his work. 'I am sure, Marie, that you will not refuse
to do this when I explain to you its importance to me. I must have that
property for use in the city to-morrow, or--I shall be ruined.' The
statement was very short, but the manner in which he made it was not
without effect.

'Oh!' shrieked his wife.

'It is true. These harpies have so beset me about the election that
they have lowered the price of every stock in which I am concerned,
and have brought the Mexican Railway so low that they cannot be sold
at all. I don't like bringing my troubles home from the city; but on
this occasion I cannot help it. The sum locked up here is very large,
and I am compelled to use it. In point of fact it is necessary to save
us from destruction.' This he said, very slowly, and with the utmost

'But you told me just now you wanted it because I was going to be
married,' rejoined Marie.

A liar has many points to his favour,--but he has this against him,
that unless he devote more time to the management of his lies than life
will generally allow, he cannot make them tally. Melmotte was thrown
back for a moment, and almost felt that the time for violence had
come. He longed to be at her that he might shake the wickedness, and
the folly, and the ingratitude out of her. But he once more
condescended to argue and to explain. 'I think you misunderstood me,
Marie. I meant you to understand that settlements must be made, and
that of course I must get my own property back into my own hands
before anything of that kind can be done. I tell you once more, my
dear, that if you do not do as I bid you, so that I may use that
property the first thing to-morrow, we are all ruined. Everything will
be gone.'

'This can't be gone,' said Marie, nodding her head at the papers.

'Marie,--do you wish to see me disgraced and ruined? I have done a
great deal for you.'

'You turned away the only person I ever cared for,' said Marie.

'Marie, how can you be so wicked? Do as your papa bids you,' said
Madame Melmotte.

'No!' said Melmotte. 'She does not care who is ruined, because we saved
her from that reprobate.'

'She will sign them now,' said Madame Melmotte.

'No;--I will not sign them,' said Marie. 'If I am to be married to Lord
Nidderdale as you all say, I am sure I ought to sign nothing without
telling him. And if the property was once made to be mine, I don't
think I ought to give it up again because papa says that he is going
to be ruined. I think that's a reason for not giving it up again.'

'It isn't yours to give. It's mine,' said Melmotte gnashing his teeth.

'Then you can do what you like with it without my signing,' said

He paused a moment, and then laying his hand gently upon her shoulder,
he asked her yet once again. His voice was changed, and was very
hoarse. But he still tried to be gentle with her. 'Marie,' he said,
'will you do this to save your father from destruction?'

But she did not believe a word that he said to her. How could she
believe him? He had taught her to regard him as her natural enemy,
making her aware that it was his purpose to use her as a chattel for
his own advantage, and never allowing her for a moment to suppose that
aught that he did was to be done for her happiness. And now, almost in
a breath, he had told her that this money was wanted that it might be
settled on her and the man to whom she was to be married, and then
that it might be used to save him from instant ruin. She believed
neither one story nor the other. That she should have done as she was
desired in this matter can hardly be disputed. The father had used her
name because he thought that he could trust her. She was his daughter
and should not have betrayed his trust. But she had steeled herself to
obstinacy against him in all things. Even yet, after all that had
passed, although she had consented to marry Lord Nidderdale, though
she had been forced by what she had learned to despise Sir Felix
Carbury, there was present to her an idea that she might escape with
the man she really loved. But any such hope could depend only on the
possession of the money which she now claimed as her own. Melmotte had
endeavoured to throw a certain supplicatory pathos into the question
he had asked her; but, though he was in some degree successful with
his voice, his eyes and his mouth and his forehead still threatened
her. He was always threatening her. All her thoughts respecting him
reverted to that inward assertion that he might 'cut her to pieces' if
he liked. He repeated his question in the pathetic strain. 'Will you
do this now,--to save us all from ruin?' But his eyes still threatened

'No;' she said, looking up into his face as though watching for the
personal attack which would be made upon her; 'no, I won't.'

'Marie!' exclaimed Madame Melmotte.

She glanced round for a moment at her pseudo-mother with contempt.
'No;' she said. 'I don't think I ought,--and I won't.'

'You won't!' shouted Melmotte. She merely shook her head. 'Do you mean
that you, my own child, will attempt to rob your father just at the
moment you can destroy him by your wickedness?' She shook her head but
said no other word.

'Nec pueros coram populo Medea trucidet.'

'Let not Medea with unnatural rage
Slaughter her mangled infants on the stage.'

Nor will I attempt to harrow my readers by a close description of the
scene which followed. Poor Marie. That cutting her up into pieces was
commenced after a most savage fashion. Marie crouching down hardly
uttered a sound. But Madame Melmotte frightened beyond endurance
screamed at the top of her voice,--'Ah, Melmotte, tu la tueras!' And
then she tried to drag him from his prey. 'Will you sign them now?'
said Melmotte, panting. At that moment Croll, frightened by the
screams, burst into the room. It was perhaps not the first time that
he had interfered to save Melmotte from the effects of his own wrath.

'Oh, Mr Melmotte, vat is de matter?' asked the clerk. Melmotte was out
of breath and could hardly tell his story. Marie gradually recovered
herself; and crouched, cowering, in the corner of a sofa, by no means
vanquished in spirit, but with a feeling that the very life had been
crushed out of her body. Madame Melmotte was standing weeping
copiously, with her handkerchief up to her eyes. 'Will you sign the
papers?' Melmotte demanded. Marie, lying as she was, all in a heap,
merely shook her head. 'Pig!' said Melmotte,--'wicked, ungrateful

'Ah, Ma'am-moiselle,' said Croll, 'you should oblige your fader.'

'Wretched, wicked girl' said Melmotte, collecting the papers together.
Then he left the room, and followed by Croll descended to the study,
whence the Longestaffes and Mr Bideawhile had long since taken their

Madame Melmotte came and stood over the girl, but for some minutes
spoke never a word. Marie lay on the sofa, all in a heap, with her
hair dishevelled and her dress disordered, breathing hard, but
uttering no sobs and shedding no tears. The stepmother,--if she might
so be called,--did not think of attempting to persuade where her
husband had failed. She feared Melmotte so thoroughly, and was so timid
in regard to her own person, that she could not understand the girl's
courage. Melmotte was to her an awful being, powerful as Satan,--whom
she never openly disobeyed, though she daily deceived him, and was
constantly detected in her deceptions. Marie seemed to her to have all
her father's stubborn, wicked courage, and very much of his power. At
the present moment she did not dare to tell the girl that she had been
wrong. But she had believed her husband when he had said that
destruction was coming, and had partly believed him when he declared
that the destruction might be averted by Marie's obedience. Her life
had been passed in almost daily fear of destruction. To Marie the last
two years of splendour had been so long that they had produced a
feeling of security. But to the elder woman the two years had not
sufficed to eradicate the remembrance of former reverses, and never
for a moment had she felt herself to be secure. At last she asked the
girl what she would like to have done for her. 'I wish he had killed
me,' Marie said, slowly dragging herself up from the sofa, and
retreating without another word to her own room.

In the meantime another scene was being acted in the room below.
Melmotte after he reached the room,--hardly made a reference to his
daughter merely saying that nothing would overcome her wicked
obstinacy. He made no allusion to his own violence, nor had Croll the
courage to expostulate with him now that the immediate danger was
over. The Great Financier again arranged the papers, just as they had
been laid out before,--as though he thought that the girl might be
brought down to sign them there. And then he went on to explain to
Croll what he had wanted to have done,--how necessary it was that the
thing should be done, and how terribly cruel it was to him that in
such a crisis of his life he should be hampered, impeded,--he did not
venture to his clerk to say ruined,--by the ill-conditioned obstinacy
of a girl! He explained very fully how absolutely the property was his
own, how totally the girl was without any right to withhold it from
him! How monstrous in its injustice was the present position of
things! In all this Croll fully agreed. Then Melmotte went on to
declare that he would not feel the slightest scruple in writing
Marie's signature to the papers himself. He was the girl's father and
was justified in acting for her. The property was his own property,
and he was justified in doing with it as he pleased. Of course he
would have no scruple in writing his daughter's name. Then he looked
up at the clerk. The clerk again assented,--after a fashion, not by any
means with the comfortable certainty with which he had signified his
accordance with his employer's first propositions. But he did not, at
any rate, hint any disapprobation of the step which Melmotte proposed
to take. Then Melmotte went a step farther, and explained that the
only difficulty in reference to such a transaction would be that the
signature of his daughter would be required to be corroborated by that
of a witness before he could use it. Then he again looked up at
Croll;--but on this occasion Croll did not move a muscle of his face.
There certainly was no assent. Melmotte continued to look at him; but
then came upon the old clerk's countenance a stern look which amounted
to very strong dissent. And yet Croll had been conversant with some
irregular doings in his time, and Melmotte knew well the extent of
Croll's experience. Then Melmotte made a little remark to himself. 'He
knows that the game is pretty well over.' 'You had better return to
the city now,' he said aloud. 'I shall follow you in half an hour. It
is quite possible that I may bring my daughter with me. If I can make
her understand this thing I shall do so. In that case I shall want you
to be ready.' Croll again smiled, and again assented, and went his

But Melmotte made no further attempt upon his daughter. As soon as
Croll was gone he searched among various papers in his desk and
drawers, and having found two signatures, those of his daughter and of
this German clerk, set to work tracing them with some thin tissue
paper. He commenced his present operation by bolting his door and
pulling down the blinds. He practised the two signatures for the best
part of an hour. Then he forged them on the various documents;--and,
having completed the operation, refolded them, placed them in a locked
bag of which he had always kept the key in his purse, and then, with
the bag in his hand, was taken in his brougham into the city.


All this time Mr Longestaffe was necessarily detained in London while
the three ladies of his family were living forlornly at Caversham.
He had taken his younger daughter home on the day after his visit to
Lady Monogram, and in all his intercourse with her had spoken of her
suggested marriage with Mr Brehgert as a thing utterly out of the
question. Georgiana had made one little fight for her independence at
the Jermyn Street Hotel. 'Indeed, papa, I think it's very hard,' she

'What's hard? I think a great many things are hard; but I have to bear

'You can do nothing for me.'

'Do nothing for you! Haven't you got a home to live in, and clothes to
wear, and a carriage to go about in,--and books to read if you choose
to read them? What do you expect?'

'You know, papa, that's nonsense.'

'How do you dare to tell me that what I say is nonsense?'

'Of course there's a house to live in and clothes to wear; but what's
to be the end of it? Sophia, I suppose, is going to be married.'

'I am happy to say she is,--to a most respectable young man and a
thorough gentleman.'

'And Dolly has his own way of going on.'

'You have nothing to do with Adolphus.'

'Nor will he have anything to do with me. If I don't marry what's to
become of me? It isn't that Mr Brehgert is the sort of man I should

'Do not mention his name to me.'

'But what am I to do? You give up the house in town, and how am I to
see people? It was you sent me to Mr Melmotte.'

'I didn't send you to Mr Melmotte.'

'It was at your suggestion I went there, papa. And of course I could
only see the people he had there. I like nice people as well as

'There's no use talking any more about it.'

'I don't see that. I must talk about it, and think about it too. If I
can put up with Mr Brehgert I don't see why you and mamma should

'A Jew!'

'People don't think about that as they used to, papa. He has a very
fine income, and I should always have a house in--'

Then Mr Longestaffe became so furious and loud, that he stopped her
for that time. 'Look here,' he said, 'if you mean to tell me that you
will marry that man without my consent, I can't prevent it. But you
shall not marry him as my daughter. You shall be turned out of my
house, and I will never have your name pronounced in my presence
again. It is disgusting, degrading,--disgraceful!' And then he left

On the next morning before he started for Caversham he did see Mr
Brehgert; but he told Georgiana nothing of the interview, nor had she
the courage to ask him. The objectionable name was not mentioned again
in her father's hearing, but there was a sad scene between herself,
Lady Pomona, and her sister. When Mr Longestaffe and his younger
daughter arrived, the poor mother did not go down into the hall to
meet her child,--from whom she had that morning received the dreadful
tidings about the Jew. As to these tidings she had as yet heard no
direct condemnation from her husband. The effect upon Lady Pomona had
been more grievous even than that made upon the father. Mr Longestaffe
had been able to declare immediately that the proposed marriage was
out of the question, that nothing of the kind should be allowed, and
could take upon himself to see the Jew with the object of breaking off
the engagement. But poor Lady Pomona was helpless in her sorrow. If
Georgiana chose to marry a Jew tradesman she could not help it. But
such an occurrence in the family would, she felt, be to her as though
the end of all things had come. She could never again hold up her
head, never go into society, never take pleasure in her powdered
footmen. When her daughter should have married a Jew, she didn't think
that she could pluck up the courage to look even her neighbours Mrs
Yeld and Mrs Hepworth in the face. Georgiana found no one in the hall
to meet her, and dreaded to go to her mother. She first went with her
maid to her own room, and waited there till Sophia came to her. As she
sat pretending to watch the process of unpacking, she strove to regain
her courage. Why need she be afraid of anybody? Why, at any rate,
should she be afraid of other females? Had she not always been
dominant over her mother and sister? 'Oh, Georgey,' said Sophia, 'this
is wonderful news!'

'I suppose it seems wonderful that anybody should be going to be
married except yourself.'

'No;--but such a very odd match!'

'Look here, Sophia. If you don't like it, you need not talk about it.
We shall always have a house in town, and you will not. If you don't
like to come to us, you needn't. That's about all.'

'George wouldn't let me go there at all,' said Sophia.

'Then--George--had better keep you at home at Toodlam. Where's mamma?
I should have thought somebody might have come and met me to say a word
to me, instead of allowing me to creep into the house like this.'

'Mamma isn't at all well; but she's up in her own room. You mustn't be
surprised, Georgey, if you find mamma very--very much cut up about
this.' Then Georgiana understood that she must be content to stand all
alone in the world, unless she made up her mind to give up Mr

'So I've come back,' said Georgiana, stooping down and kissing her

'Oh, Georgiana; oh, Georgiana!' said Lady Pomona, slowly raising
herself and covering her face with one of her hands. 'This is
dreadful. It will kill me. It will indeed. I didn't expect it from

'What is the good of all that, mamma?'

'It seems to me that it can't be possible. It's unnatural. It's worse
than your wife's sister. I'm sure there's something in the Bible
against it. You never would read your Bible, or you wouldn't be going
to do this.'

'Lady Julia Start has done just the same thing,--and she goes

'What does your papa say? I'm sure your papa won't allow it. If he's
fixed about anything, it's about the Jews. An accursed race;--think of
that, Georgiana;--expelled from Paradise.'

'Mamma, that's nonsense.'

'Scattered about all over the world, so that nobody knows who anybody
is. And it's only since those nasty Radicals came up that they have
been able to sit in Parliament.'

'One of the greatest judges in the land is a Jew,' said Georgiana, who
had already learned to fortify her own case.

'Nothing that the Radicals can do can make them anything else but what
they are. I'm sure that Mr Whitstable, who is to be your
brother-in-law, will never condescend to speak to him.'

Now if there was anybody whom Georgiana Longestaffe had despised from
her youth upwards it was George Whitstable. He had been a
laughing-stock to her when they were children, had been regarded as a
lout when he left school, and had been her common example of rural
dullness since he had become a man. He certainly was neither beautiful
nor bright;--but he was a Conservative squire born of Tory parents.
Nor was he rich;--having but a moderate income, sufficient to maintain
a moderate country house and no more. When first there came indications
that Sophia intended to put up with George Whitstable, the more
ambitious sister did not spare the shafts of her scorn. And now she
was told that George Whitstable would not speak to her future husband!
She was not to marry Mr Brehgert lest she should bring disgrace, among
others, upon George Whitstable! This was not to be endured.

'Then Mr Whitstable may keep himself at home at Toodlam and not
trouble his head at all about me or my husband. I'm sure I shan't
trouble myself as to what a poor creature like that may think about
me. George Whitstable knows as much about London as I do about the

'He has always been in county society,' said Sophia, 'and was staying
only the other day at Lord Cantab's.'

'Then there were two fools together,' said Georgiana, who at this
moment was very unhappy.

'Mr Whitstable is an excellent young man, and I am sure he will make
your sister happy; but as for Mr Brehgert,--I can't bear to have his
name mentioned in my hearing.'

'Then, mamma, it had better not be mentioned. At any rate it shan't be
mentioned again by me.' Having so spoken, Georgiana bounced out of the
room and did not meet her mother and sister again till she came down
into the drawing-room before dinner.

Her position was one very trying both to her nerves and to her
feelings. She presumed that her father had seen Mr Brehgert, but did
not in the least know what had passed between them. It might be that
her father had been so decided in his objection as to induce Mr
Brehgert to abandon his intention,--and if this were so, there could be
no reason why she should endure the misery of having the Jew thrown in
her face. Among them all they had made her think that she would never
become Mrs Brehgert. She certainly was not prepared to nail her
colours upon the mast and to live and die for Brehgert. She was almost
sick of the thing herself. But she could not back out of it so as to
obliterate all traces of the disgrace. Even if she should not
ultimately marry the Jew, it would be known that she had been engaged
to a Jew,--and then it would certainly be said afterwards that the
Jew had jilted her. She was thus vacillating in her mind, not knowing
whether to go on with Brehgert or to abandon him. That evening Lady
Pomona retired immediately after dinner, being 'far from well.' It was
of course known to them all that Mr Brehgert was her ailment. She was
accompanied by her elder daughter, and Georgiana was left with her
father. Not a word was spoken between them. He sat behind his
newspaper till he went to sleep, and she found herself alone and
deserted in that big room. It seemed to her that even the servants
treated her with disdain. Her own maid had already given her notice.
It was manifestly the intention of her family to ostracise her
altogether. Of what service would it be to her that Lady Julia
Goldsheiner should be received everywhere, if she herself were to be
left without a single Christian friend? Would a life passed
exclusively among the Jews content even her lessened ambition? At ten
o'clock she kissed her father's head and went to bed. Her father
grunted less audibly than usual under the operation. She had always
given herself credit for high spirits, but she began to fear that her
courage would not suffice to carry her through sufferings such as

On the next day her father returned to town, and the three ladies were
left alone. Great preparations were going on for the Whitstable
wedding. Dresses were being made and linen marked, and consultations
held,--from all which things Georgiana was kept quite apart. The
accepted lover came over to lunch, and was made as much of as though
the Whitstables had always kept a town house. Sophy loomed so large in
her triumph and happiness, that it was not to be borne. All Caversham
treated her with a new respect. And yet if Toodlam was a couple of
thousand a year, it was all it was:--and there were two unmarried
sisters! Lady Pomona went half into hysterics every time she saw her
younger daughter, and became in her way a most oppressive parent. Oh,
heavens;--was Mr Brehgert with his two houses worth all this? A feeling
of intense regret for the things she was losing came over her. Even
Caversham, the Caversham of old days which she had hated, but in which
she had made herself respected and partly feared by everybody about
the place,--had charms for her which seemed to her delightful now that
they were lost for ever. Then she had always considered herself to be
the first personage in the house,--superior even to her father;--but
now she was decidedly the last.

Her second evening was worse even than the first. When Mr Longestaffe
was not at home the family sat in a small dingy room between the
library and the dining-room, and on this occasion the family consisted
only of Georgiana. In the course of the evening she went upstairs and
calling her sister out into the passage demanded to be told why she
was thus deserted. 'Poor mamma is very ill,' said Sophy.

'I won't stand it if I'm to be treated like this,' said Georgiana.
'I'll go away somewhere.'

'How can I help it, Georgey? It's your own doing. Of course you must
have known that you were going to separate yourself from us.'

On the next morning there came a dispatch from Mr Longestaffe,--of
what nature Georgey did not know as it was addressed to Lady Pomona.
But one enclosure she was allowed to see. 'Mamma,' said Sophy, 'thinks
you ought to know how Dolly feels about it.' And then a letter from
Dolly to his father was put into Georgey's hands. The letter was as


Can it be true that Georgey is thinking of marrying that horrid
vulgar Jew, old Brehgert? The fellows say so; but I can't
believe it. I'm sure you wouldn't let her. You ought to lock her

Yours affectionately,


Dolly's letters made his father very angry, as, short as they were,
they always contained advice or instruction, such as should come from
a father to a son, rather than from a son to a father. This letter had
not been received with a welcome. Nevertheless the head of the family
had thought it worth his while to make use of it, and had sent it to
Caversham in order that it might be shown to his rebellious daughter.

And so Dolly had said that she ought to be locked up! She'd like to
see somebody do it! As soon as she had read her brother's epistle she
tore it into fragments and threw it away in her sister's presence.
'How can mamma be such a hypocrite as to pretend to care what Dolly
says? Who doesn't know that he's an idiot? And papa has thought it
worth his while to send that down here for me to see! Well, after that
I must say that I don't much care what papa does.'

'I don't see why Dolly shouldn't have an opinion as well as anybody
else,' said Sophy.

'As well as George Whitstable? As far as stupidness goes they are
about the same. But Dolly has a little more knowledge of the world.'

'Of course we all know, Georgiana,' rejoined the elder sister, 'that
for cuteness and that kind of thing one must look among the commercial
classes, and especially among a certain sort.'

'I've done with you all,' said Georgey, rushing out of the room. 'I'll
have nothing more to do with any one of you.'

But it is very difficult for a young lady to have done with her
family! A young man may go anywhere, and may be lost at sea; or come
and claim his property after twenty years. A young man may demand an
allowance, and has almost a right to live alone. The young male bird
is supposed to fly away from the paternal nest. But the daughter of a
house is compelled to adhere to her father till she shall get a
husband. The only way in which Georgey could 'have done' with them all
at Caversham would be by trusting herself to Mr Brehgert, and at the
present moment she did not know whether Mr Brehgert did or did not
consider himself as engaged to her.

That day also passed away with ineffable tedium. At one time she was
so beaten down by ennui that she almost offered her assistance to her
sister in reference to the wedding garments. In spite of the very
bitter words which had been spoken in the morning she would have done
so had Sophy afforded her the slightest opportunity. But Sophy was
heartlessly cruel in her indifference. In her younger days she had had
her bad things, and now,--with George Whitstable by her side,--she
meant to have good things, the goodness of which was infinitely
enhanced by the badness of her sister's things. She had been so greatly
despised that the charm of despising again was irresistible. And she
was able to reconcile her cruelty to her conscience by telling herself
that duty required her to show implacable resistance to such a marriage
as this which her sister contemplated. Therefore Georgiana dragged out
another day, not in the least knowing what was to be her fate.


Mr Longestaffe had brought his daughter down to Caversham on a
Wednesday. During the Thursday and Friday she had passed a very sad
time, not knowing whether she was or was not engaged to marry Mr
Brehgert. Her father had declared to her that he would break off the
match, and she believed that he had seen Mr Brehgert with that
purpose. She had certainly given no consent, and had never hinted to
any one of the family an idea that she was disposed to yield. But she
felt that, at any rate with her father, she had not adhered to her
purpose with tenacity, and that she had allowed him to return to
London with a feeling that she might still be controlled. She was
beginning to be angry with Mr Brehgert, thinking that he had taken his
dismissal from her father without consulting her. It was necessary
that something should be settled, something known. Life such as she
was leading now would drive her mad. She had all the disadvantages of
the Brehgert connection and none of the advantages. She could not
comfort herself with thinking of the Brehgert wealth and the Brehgert
houses, and yet she was living under the general ban of Caversham on
account of her Brehgert associations. She was beginning to think that
she herself must write to Mr Brehgert,--only she did not know what to
say to him.

But on the Saturday morning she got a letter from Mr Brehgert. It was
handed to her as she was sitting at breakfast with her sister,--who
at that moment was triumphant with a present of gooseberries which
had been sent over from Toodlam. The Toodlam gooseberries were noted
throughout Suffolk, and when the letters were being brought in Sophia
was taking her lover's offering from the basket with her own fair
hands. 'Well!' Georgey had exclaimed, 'to send a pottle of
gooseberries to his lady love across the country! Who but George
Whitstable would do that?'

'I dare say you get nothing but gems and gold,' Sophy retorted. 'I
don't suppose that Mr Brehgert knows what a gooseberry is.' At that
moment the letter was brought in, and Georgiana knew the writing. 'I
suppose that's from Mr Brehgert,' said Sophy.

'I don't think it matters much to you who it's from.' She tried to be
composed and stately, but the letter was too important to allow of
composure, and she retired to read it in privacy.

The letter was as follows:--


Your father came to me the day after I was to have met you at
Lady Monogram's party. I told him then that I would not write to
you till I had taken a day or two to consider what he said to
me;--and also that I thought it better that you should have a
day or two to consider what he might say to you. He has now
repeated what he said at our first interview, almost with more
violence; for I must say that I think he has allowed himself to
be violent when it was surely unnecessary.

The long and short of it is this. He altogether disapproves of
your promise to marry me. He has given three reasons;--first
that I am in trade; secondly that I am much older than you, and
have a family; and thirdly that I am a Jew. In regard to the
first I can hardly think that he is earnest. I have explained to
him that my business is that of a banker; and I can hardly
conceive it to be possible that any gentleman in England should
object to his daughter marrying a banker, simply because the man
is a banker. There would be a blindness of arrogance in such a
proposition of which I think your father to be incapable. This
has merely been added in to strengthen his other objections.

As to my age, it is just fifty-one. I do not at all think myself
too old to be married again. Whether I am too old for you is for
you to judge,--as is also that question of my children who, of
course, should you become my wife will be to some extent a care
upon your shoulders. As this is all very serious you will not, I
hope, think me wanting in gallantry if I say that I should
hardly have ventured to address you if you had been quite a
young girl. No doubt there are many years between us;--and so I
think there should be. A man of my age hardly looks to marry a
woman of the same standing as himself. But the question is one
for the lady to decide and you must decide it now.

As to my religion, I acknowledge the force of what your father
says,--though I think that a gentleman brought up with fewer
prejudices would have expressed himself in language less likely
to give offence. However I am a man not easily offended; and on
this occasion I am ready to take what he has said in good part.
I can easily conceive that there should be those who think that
the husband and wife should agree in religion. I am indifferent
to it myself. I shall not interfere with you if you make me
happy by becoming my wife, nor, I suppose, will you with me.
Should you have a daughter or daughters I am quite willing that
they should be brought up subject to your influence.

There was a plain-speaking in this which made Georgiana look round the
room as though to see whether any one was watching her as she read it.

But no doubt your father objects to me specially because I am a
Jew. If I were an atheist he might, perhaps, say nothing on the
subject of religion. On this matter as well as on others it
seems to me that your father has hardly kept pace with the
movements of the age. Fifty years ago, whatever claim a Jew
might have to be as well considered as a Christian, he certainly
was not so considered. Society was closed against him, except
under special circumstances, and so were all the privileges of
high position. But that has been altered. Your father does not
admit the change; but I think he is blind to it, because he does
not wish to see.

I say all this more as defending myself than as combating his
views with you. It must be for you and for you alone to decide
how far his views shall govern you. He has told me, after a
rather peremptory fashion, that I have behaved badly to him and
to his family because I did not go to him in the first instance
when I thought of obtaining the honour of an alliance with his
daughter. I have been obliged to tell him that in this matter I
disagree with him entirely, though in so telling him I
endeavoured to restrain myself from any appearance of warmth. I
had not the pleasure of meeting you in his house, nor had I any
acquaintance with him. And again, at the risk of being thought
uncourteous, I must say that you are to a certain degree
emancipated by age from that positive subordination to which a
few years ago you probably submitted without a question. If a
gentleman meets a lady in society, as I met you in the home of
our friend Mr Melmotte, I do not think that the gentleman is to
be debarred from expressing his feelings because the lady may
possibly have a parent. Your father, no doubt with propriety,
had left you to be the guardian of yourself, and I cannot submit
to be accused of improper conduct because, finding you in that
condition, I availed myself of it.

And now, having said so much, I must leave the question to be
decided entirely by yourself. I beg you to understand that I do
not at all wish to hold you to a promise merely because the
promise has been given. I readily acknowledge that the opinion
of your family should be considered by you, though I will not
admit that I was bound to consult that opinion before I spoke to
you. It may well be that your regard for me or your appreciation
of the comforts with which I may be able to surround you, will
not suffice to reconcile you to such a breach from your own
family as your father, with much repetition, has assured me will
be inevitable. Take a day or two to think of this and turn it
well over in your mind. When I last had the happiness of
speaking to you, you seemed to think that your parents might
raise objections, but that those objections would give way
before an expression of your own wishes. I was flattered by your
so thinking; but, if I may form any judgment from your father's
manner, I must suppose that you were mistaken. You will
understand that I do not say this as any reproach to you. Quite
the contrary. I think your father is irrational; and you may
well have failed to anticipate that be should be so.

As to my own feelings they remain exactly as they were when I
endeavoured to explain them to you. Though I do not find myself
to be too old to marry, I do think myself too old to write love
letters. I have no doubt you believe me when I say that I
entertain a most sincere affection for you; and I beseech you to
believe me in saying further that should you become my wife it
shall be the study of my life to make you happy.

It is essentially necessary that I should allude to one other
matter, as to which I have already told your father what I will
now tell you. I think it probable that within this week I shall
find myself a loser of a very large sum of money through the
failure of a gentleman whose bad treatment of me I will the more
readily forgive because he was the means of making me known to
you. This you must understand is private between you and me,
though I have thought it proper to inform your father. Such
loss, if it fall upon me, will not interfere in the least with
the income which I have proposed to settle upon you for your use
after my death; and, as your father declares that in the event
of your marrying me he will neither give to you nor bequeath to
you a shilling, he might have abstained from telling me to my
face that I was a bankrupt merchant when I myself told him of my
loss. I am not a bankrupt merchant nor at all likely to become
so. Nor will this loss at all interfere with my present mode of
living. But I have thought it right to inform you of it,
because, if it occur,--as I think it will,--I shall not deem it
right to keep a second establishment probably for the next two
or three years. But my house at Fulham and my stables there will
be kept up just as they are at present.

I have now told you everything which I think it is necessary you
should know, in order that you may determine either to adhere to
or to recede from your engagement. When you have resolved you
will let me know but a day or two may probably be necessary for
your decision. I hope I need not say that a decision in my
favour will make me a happy man.

I am, in the meantime, your affectionate friend,


This very long letter puzzled Georgey a good deal, and left her, at
the time of reading it, very much in doubt as to what she would do.
She could understand that it was a plain-spoken and truth-telling
letter. Not that she, to herself, gave it praise for those virtues;
but that it imbued her unconsciously with a thorough belief. She was
apt to suspect deceit in other people;--but it did not occur to her
that Mr Brehgert had written a single word with an attempt to deceive
her. But the single-minded genuine honesty of the letter was altogether
thrown away upon her. She never said to herself, as she read it, that
she might safely trust herself to this man, though he were a Jew,
though greasy and like a butcher, though over fifty and with a family,
because he was an honest man. She did not see that the letter was
particularly sensible;--but she did allow herself to be pained by the
total absence of romance. She was annoyed at the first allusion to her
age, and angry at the second; and yet she had never supposed that
Brehgert had taken her to be younger than she was. She was well aware
that the world in general attributes more years to unmarried women
than they have lived, as a sort of equalising counter-weight against
the pretences which young women make on the other side, or the lies
which are told on their behalf. Nor had she wished to appear
peculiarly young in his eyes. But, nevertheless, she regarded the
reference to be uncivil,--perhaps almost butcher-like,--and it had its
effect upon her. And then the allusion to the 'daughter or daughters'
troubled her. She told herself that it was vulgar,--just what a butcher
might have said. And although she was quite prepared to call her
father the most irrational, the most prejudiced, and most ill-natured
of men, yet she was displeased that Mr Brehgert should take such a
liberty with him. But the passage in Mr Brehgert's letter which was
most distasteful to her was that which told her of the loss which he
might probably incur through his connection with Melmotte. What right
had he to incur a loss which would incapacitate him from keeping his
engagements with her? The town-house had been the great persuasion,
and now he absolutely had the face to tell her that there was to be no
town-house for three years. When she read this she felt that she ought
to be indignant, and for a few moments was minded to sit down without
further consideration and tell the man with considerable scorn that
she would have nothing more to say to him.

But on that side too there would be terrible bitterness. How would she
have fallen from her greatness when, barely forgiven by her father and
mother for the vile sin which she had contemplated, she should consent
to fill a common bridesmaid place at the nuptials of George
Whitstable! And what would then be left to her in life? This episode
of the Jew would make it quite impossible for her again to contest the
question of the London house with her father. Lady Pomona and Mrs
George Whitstable would be united with him against her. There would be
no 'season' for her, and she would be nobody at Caversham. As for
London, she would hardly wish to go there! Everybody would know the
story of the Jew. She thought that she could have plucked up courage
to face the world as the Jew's wife, but not as the young woman who
had wanted to marry the Jew and had failed. How would her future life
go with her, should she now make up her mind to retire from the
proposed alliance? If she could get her father to take her abroad at
once, she would do it; but she was not now in a condition to make any
terms with her father. As all this gradually passed through her mind,
she determined that she would so far take Mr Brehgert's advice as to
postpone her answer till she had well considered the matter.

She slept upon it, and the next day she asked her mother a few
questions. 'Mamma, have you any idea what papa means to do?'

'In what way, my dear?' Lady Pomona's voice was not gracious, as she
was free from that fear of her daughter's ascendancy which had
formerly affected her.

'Well;--I suppose he must have some plan.'

'You must explain yourself. I don't know why he should have any
particular plan.'

'Will he go to London next year?'

'That depends upon money, I suppose. What makes you ask?'

'Of course I have been very cruelly circumstanced. Everybody must see
that. I'm sure you do, mamma. The long and short of it is this;--if I
give up my engagement, will he take us abroad for a year?'

'Why should he?'

'You can't suppose that I should be very comfortable in England. If we
are to remain here at Caversham, how am I to hope ever to get

'Sophy is doing very well.'

'Oh, mamma, there are not two George Whitstables;--thank God.' She
had meant to be humble and supplicating, but she could not restrain
herself from the use of that one shaft. 'I don't mean but what Sophy
may be very happy, and I am sure that I hope she will. But that won't
do me any good. I should be very unhappy here.'

'I don't see how you are to find any one to marry you by going
abroad,' said Lady Pomona, 'and I don't see why your papa is to be
taken away from his own home. He likes Caversham.'

'Then I am to be sacrificed on every side,' said Georgey, stalking out
of the room. But still she could not make up her mind what letter she
would write to Mr Brehgert, and she slept upon it another night.

On the next day after breakfast she did write her letter, though when
she sat down to her task she had not clearly made up her mind what she
would say. But she did get it written, and here it is.

Caversham, Monday.


As you told me not to hurry, I have taken a little time to think
about your letter. Of course it would be very disagreeable to
quarrel with papa and mamma and everybody. And if I do do so,
I'm sure somebody ought to be very grateful. But papa has been
very unfair in what he has said. As to not asking him, it could
have been of no good, for of course he would be against it. He
thinks a great deal of the Longestaffe family, and so, I
suppose, ought I. But the world does change so quick that one
doesn't think of anything now as one used to do. Anyway, I don't
feel that I'm bound to do what papa tells me just because he
says it. Though I'm not quite so old as you seem to think, I'm
old enough to judge for myself,--and I mean to do so. You say
very little about affection, but I suppose I am to take all that
for granted.

I don't wonder at papa being annoyed about the loss of the
money. It must be a very great sum when it will prevent your
having a house in London,--as you agreed. It does make a great
difference, because, of course, as you have no regular place in
the country, one could only see one's friends in London. Fulham
is all very well now and then, but I don't think I should like
to live at Fulham all the year through. You talk of three years,
which would be dreadful. If as you say it will not have any
lasting effect, could you not manage to have a house in town? If
you can do it in three years, I should think you could do it
now. I should like to have an answer to this question. I do
think so much about being the season in town!

As for the other parts of your letter, I knew very well
beforehand that papa would be unhappy about it. But I don't know
why I'm to let that stand in my way when so very little is done
to make me happy. Of course you will write to me again, and I
hope you will say something satisfactory about the house in

Yours always sincerely,


It probably never occurred to Georgey that Mr Brehgert would under any
circumstances be anxious to go back from his engagement. She so fully
recognised her own value as a Christian lady of high birth and
position giving herself to a commercial Jew, that she thought that
under any circumstances Mr Brehgert would be only too anxious to stick
to his bargain. Nor had she any idea that there was anything in her
letter which could probably offend him. She thought that she might at
any rate make good her claim to the house in London; and that as there
were other difficulties on his side, he would yield to her on this
point. But as yet she hardly knew Mr Brehgert. He did not lose a day
in sending to her a second letter. He took her letter with him to his
office in the city, and there he answered it without a moment's delay.

No. 7, St. Cuthbert's Court, London,
Tuesday, July 16, 18--.


You say it would be very disagreeable to you to quarrel with
your papa and mamma; and as I agree with you, I will take your
letter as concluding our intimacy. I should not, however, be
dealing quite fairly with you or with myself if I gave you to
understand that I felt myself to be coerced to this conclusion
simply by your qualified assent to your parents' views. It is
evident to me from your letter that you would not wish to be my
wife unless I can supply you with a house in town as well as
with one in the country. But this for the present is out of my
power. I would not have allowed my losses to interfere with your
settlement because I had stated a certain income; and must
therefore to a certain extent have compromised my children. But
I should not have been altogether happy till I had replaced them
in their former position, and must therefore have abstained from
increased expenditure till I had done so. But of course I have
no right to ask you to share with me the discomfort of a single
home. I may perhaps add that I had hoped that you would have
looked to your happiness to another source, and that I will bear
my disappointment as best I may.

As you may perhaps under these circumstances be unwilling that I
should wear the ring you gave me, I return it by post. I trust
you will be good enough to keep the trifle you were pleased to
accept from me, in remembrance of one who will always wish you

Yours sincerely,


And so it was all over! Georgey, when she read this letter, was very
indignant at her lover's conduct. She did not believe that her own
letter had at all been of a nature to warrant it. She had regarded
herself as being quite sure of him, and only so far doubting herself,
as to be able to make her own terms because of such doubts. And now
the Jew had rejected her! She read this last letter over and over
again, and the more she read it the more she felt that in her heart of
hearts she had intended to marry him. There would have been
inconveniences no doubt, but they would have been less than the sorrow
on the other side. Now she saw nothing before her but a long vista of
Caversham dullness, in which she would be trampled upon by her father
and mother, and scorned by Mr and Mrs George Whitstable.

She got up and walked about the room thinking of vengeance. But what
vengeance was possible to her? Everybody belonging to her would take
the part of the Jew in that which he had now done. She could not ask
Dolly to beat him; nor could she ask her father to visit him with a
stern frown of paternal indignation. There could be no revenge. For a
time,--only a few seconds,--she thought that she would write to Mr
Brehgert and tell him that she had not intended to bring about this
termination of their engagement. This, no doubt, would have been an
appeal to the Jew for mercy;--and she could not quite descend to that.
But she would keep the watch and chain he had given her, and which
somebody had told her had not cost less than a hundred and fifty
guineas. She could not wear them, as people would know whence they had
come; but she might exchange them for jewels which she could wear.

At lunch she said nothing to her sister, but in the course of the
afternoon she thought it best to inform her mother. 'Mamma,' she said,
'as you and papa take it so much to heart, I have broken off
everything with Mr Brehgert.'

'Of course it must be broken off,' said Lady Pomona. This was very
ungracious,--so much so that Georgey almost flounced out of the room.
'Have you heard from the man?' asked her ladyship.

'I have written to him, and he has answered me; and it is all settled.
I thought that you would have said something kind to me.' And the
unfortunate young woman burst out into tears.

'It was so dreadful,' said Lady Pomona;--'so very dreadful. I never
heard of anything so bad. When young what's-his-name married the
tallow-chandler's daughter I thought it would have killed me if it had
been Dolly; but this was worse than that. Her father was a methodist.'

'They had neither of them a shilling of money,' said Georgey through
her tears.

'And your papa says this man was next door to a bankrupt. But it's all

'Yes, mamma.'

'And now we must all remain here at Caversham till people forget it.
It has been very hard upon George Whitstable, because of course
everybody has known it through the county. I once thought he would
have been off, and I really don't know that we could have said
anything.' At that moment Sophy entered the room. 'It's all over
between Georgiana and the--man,' said Lady Pomona, who hardly saved
herself from stigmatising him by a further reference to his religion.

'I knew it would be,' said Sophia.

'Of course it could never have really taken place,' said their mother.

'And now I beg that nothing more may be said about it,' said
Georgiana. 'I suppose, mamma, you will write to papa?'

'You must send him back his watch and chain, Georgey,' said Sophia.

'What business is that of yours?'

'Of course she must. Her papa would not let her keep it.'

To such a miserable depth of humility had the younger Miss Longestaffe
been brought by her ill-considered intimacy with the Melmottes!
Georgiana, when she looked back on this miserable episode in her life,
always attributed her grief to the scandalous breach of compact of
which her father had been guilty.


Our poor old honest friend John Crumb was taken away to durance vile
after his performance in the street with Sir Felix, and was locked up
for the remainder of the night. This indignity did not sit so heavily
on his spirits as it might have done on those of a quicker nature.
He was aware that he had not killed the baronet, and that he had
therefore enjoyed his revenge without the necessity of 'swinging for
it at Bury.' That in itself was a comfort to him. Then it was a great
satisfaction to think that he had 'served the young man out' in the
actual presence of his Ruby. He was not prone to give himself undue
credit for his capability and willingness to knock his enemies about;
but he did think that Ruby must have observed on this occasion that
he was the better man of the two. And, to John, a night in the
station-house was no great personal inconvenience. Though he was
very proud of his four-post bed at home, he did not care very much
for such luxuries as far as he himself was concerned. Nor did he
feel any disgrace from being locked up for the night. He was very
good-humoured with the policeman, who seemed perfectly to understand
his nature, and was as meek as a child when the lock was turned upon
him. As he lay down on the hard bench, he comforted himself with
thinking that Ruby would surely never care any more for the 'baronite'
since she had seen him go down like a cur without striking a blow. He
thought a good deal about Ruby, but never attributed any blame to her
for her share in the evils that had befallen him.

The next morning he was taken before the magistrates, but was told at
an early hour of the day that he was again free. Sir Felix was not
much the worse for what had happened to him, and had refused to make
any complaint against the man who had beaten him. John Crumb shook
hands cordially with the policeman who had had him in charge, and
suggested beer. The constable, with regrets, was forced to decline,
and bade adieu to his late prisoner with the expression of a hope that
they might meet again before long. 'You come down to Bungay,' said
John, 'and I'll show you how we live there.'

From the police-office he went direct to Mrs Pipkin's house, and at
once asked for Ruby. He was told that Ruby was out with the children,
and was advised both by Mrs Pipkin and Mrs Hurtle not to present
himself before Ruby quite yet. 'You see,' said Mrs Pipkin, 'she's a
thinking how heavy you were upon that young gentleman.'

'But I wasn't;--not particular. Lord love you, he ain't a hair the

'You let her alone for a time,' said Mrs Hurtle. 'A little neglect
will do her good.'

'Maybe,' said John,--'only I wouldn't like her to have it bad. You'll
let her have her wittles regular, Mrs Pipkin.'

It was then explained to him that the neglect proposed should not
extend to any deprivation of food, and he took his leave, receiving an
assurance from Mrs Hurtle that he should be summoned to town as soon
as it was thought that his presence there would serve his purposes;
and with loud promises repeated to each of the friendly women that as
soon as ever a 'line should be dropped' he would appear again upon the
scene, he took Mrs Pipkin aside, and suggested that if there were 'any
hextras,' he was ready to pay for them. Then he took his leave without
seeing Ruby, and went back to Bungay.

When Ruby returned with the children she was told that John Crumb had
called. 'I thought as he was in prison,' said Ruby.

'What should they keep him in prison for?' said Mrs Pipkin. 'He hasn't
done nothing as he oughtn't to have done. That young man was dragging
you about as far as I can make out, and Mr Crumb just did as anybody
ought to have done to prevent it. Of course they weren't going to keep
him in prison for that. Prison indeed! It isn't him as ought to be in

'And where is he now, aunt?'

'Gone down to Bungay to mind his business, and won't be coming here
any more of a fool's errand. He must have seen now pretty well what's
worth having, and what ain't. Beauty is but skin deep, Ruby.'

'John Crumb'd be after me again to-morrow, if I'd give him
encouragement,' said Ruby. 'If I'd hold up my finger he'd come.'

'Then John Crumb's a fool for his pains, that's all; and now do you go
about your work.' Ruby didn't like to be told to go about her work,
and tossed her head, and slammed the kitchen door, and scolded the
servant girl, and then sat down to cry. What was she to do with
herself now? She had an idea that Felix would not come back to her
after the treatment he had received;--and a further idea that if he did
come he was not, as she phrased it to herself, 'of much account.' She
certainly did not like him the better for having been beaten, though,
at the time, she had been disposed to take his part. She did not
believe that she would ever dance with him again. That had been the
charm of her life in London, and that was now all over. And as for
marrying her,--she began to feel certain that he did not intend it.
John Crumb was a big, awkward, dull, uncouth lump of a man, with whom
Ruby thought it impossible that a girl should be in love. Love and
John Crumb were poles asunder. But--! Ruby did not like wheeling the
perambulator about Islington, and being told by her aunt Pipkin to go
about her work. What Ruby did like was being in love and dancing; but
if all that must come to an end, then there would be a question
whether she could not do better for herself, than by staying with her
aunt and wheeling the perambulator about Islington.

Mrs Hurtle was still living in solitude in the lodgings, and having
but little to do on her own behalf, had devoted herself to the
interest of John Crumb. A man more unlike one of her own countrymen
she had never seen. 'I wonder whether he has any ideas at all in his
head,' she had said to Mrs Pipkin. Mrs Pipkin had replied that Mr
Crumb had certainly a very strong idea of marrying Ruby Ruggles. Mrs
Hurtle had smiled, thinking that Mrs Pipkin was also very unlike her
own countrywomen. But she was very kind to Mrs Pipkin, ordering
rice-puddings on purpose that the children might eat them, and she was
quite determined to give John Crumb all the aid in her power.

In order that she might give effectual aid she took Mrs Pipkin into
confidence, and prepared a plan of action in reference to Ruby. Mrs
Pipkin was to appear as chief actor on the scene, but the plan was
altogether Mrs Hurtle's plan. On the day following John's return to
Bungay Mrs Pipkin summoned Ruby into the back parlour, and thus
addressed her. 'Ruby, you know, this must come to an end now.'

'What must come to an end?'

'You can't stay here always, you know.'

'I'm sure I work hard, Aunt Pipkin, and I don't get no wages.'

'I can't do with more than one girl,--and there's the keep if there
isn't wages. Besides, there's other reasons. Your grandfather won't
have you back there; that's certain.'

'I wouldn't go back to grandfather, if it was ever so.'

'But you must go somewheres. You didn't come to stay here always,--nor
I couldn't have you. You must go into service.'

'I don't know anybody as'd have me,' said Ruby.

'You must put a 'vertisement into the paper. You'd better say as
nursemaid, as you seems to take kindly to children. And I must give
you a character;--only I shall say just the truth. You mustn't ask
much wages just at first.' Ruby looked very sorrowful, and the tears
were near her eyes. The change from the glories of the music hall was
so startling and so oppressive! 'It has got to be done sooner or later,
so you may as well put the 'vertisement in this afternoon.'

'You'r going to turn me out, Aunt Pipkin.'

'Well;--if that's turning out, I am. You see you never would be said
by me as though I was your mistress. You would go out with that
rapscallion when I bid you not. Now when you're in a regular place
like, you must mind when you're spoke to, and it will be best for you.
You've had your swing, and now you see you've got to pay for it. You
must earn your bread, Ruby, as you've quarrelled both with your lover
and your grandfather.'

There was no possible answer to this, and therefore the necessary
notice was put into the paper,--Mrs Hurtle paying for its insertion.
'Because, you know,' said Mrs Hurtle, 'she must stay here really, till
Mr Crumb comes and takes her away.' Mrs Pipkin expressed her opinion
that Ruby was a 'baggage' and John Crumb a 'soft.' Mrs Pipkin was
perhaps a little jealous at the interest which her lodger took in her
niece, thinking perhaps that all Mrs Hurtle's sympathies were due to

Ruby went hither and thither for a day or two, calling upon the
mothers of children who wanted nursemaids. The answers which she had
received had not come from the highest members of the aristocracy,
and the houses which she visited did not appal her by their splendour.
Many objections were made to her. A character from an aunt was
objectionable. Her ringlets were objectionable. She was a deal too
flighty-looking. She spoke up much too free. At last one happy mother
of five children offered to take her on approval for a month, at £12
a year, Ruby to find her own tea and wash for herself. This was
slavery;--abject slavery. And she too, who had been the beloved of a
baronet, and who might even now be the mistress of a better house than
that into which she was to go as a servant,--if she would only hold
up her finger! But the place was accepted, and with broken-hearted
sobbings Ruby prepared herself for her departure from Aunt Pipkin's

'I hope you like your place, Ruby,' Mrs Hurtle said on the afternoon
of her last day.

'Indeed then I don't like it at all. They're the ugliest children you
ever see, Mrs Hurtle.'

'Ugly children must be minded as well as pretty ones.'

'And the mother of 'em is as cross as cross.'

'It's your own fault, Ruby; isn't it?'

'I don't know as I've done anything out of the way.'

'Don't you think it's anything out of the way to be engaged to a young
man and then to throw him over? All this has come because you wouldn't
keep your word to Mr Crumb. Only for that your grandfather wouldn't
have turned you out of his house.'

'He didn't turn me out. I ran away. And it wasn't along of John Crumb,
but because grandfather hauled me about by the hair of my head.'

'But he was angry with you about Mr Crumb. When a young woman becomes
engaged to a young man, she ought not to go back from her word.' No
doubt Mrs Hurtle, when preaching this doctrine, thought that the same
law might be laid down with propriety for the conduct of young men.
'Of course you have brought trouble on yourself. I am sorry you don't
like the place. I'm afraid you must go to it now.'

'I am agoing,--I suppose,' said Ruby, probably feeling that if she
could but bring herself to condescend so far there might yet be open
for her a way of escape.

'I shall write and tell Mr Crumb where you are placed.'

'Oh, Mrs Hurtle, don't. What should you write to him for? It ain't
nothing to him.'

'I told him I'd let him know if any steps were taken.'

'You can forget that, Mrs Hurtle. Pray don't write. I don't want him
to know as I'm in service.'

'I must keep my promise. Why shouldn't he know? I don't suppose you
care much now what he hears about you.'

'Yes I do. I wasn't never in service before, and I don't want him to

'What harm can it do you?'

'Well, I don't want him to know. It's such a come down, Mrs Hurtle.'

'There is nothing to be ashamed of in that. What you have to be
ashamed of is jilting him. It was a bad thing to do;--wasn't it,

'I didn't mean nothing bad, Mrs Hurtle; only why couldn't he say what
he had to say himself, instead of bringing another to say it for him?
What would you feel, Mrs Hurtle, if a man was to come and say it all
out of another man's mouth?'

'I don't think I should much care if the thing was well said at last.
You know he meant it.'

'Yes;--I did know that.'

'And you know he means it now?'

'I'm not so sure about that. He's gone back to Bungay, and he isn't no
good at writing letters no more than at speaking. Oh,--he'll go and get
somebody else now.'

'Of course he will if he hears nothing about you. I think I'd better
tell him. I know what would happen.'

'What would happen, Mrs Hurtle?'

'He'd be up in town again in half a jiffey to see what sort of a place
you'd got. Now, Ruby, I'll tell you what I'll do, if you'll say the
word. I'll have him up here at once and you shan't go to Mrs
Buggins'.' Ruby dropped her hands and stood still, staring at Mrs
Hurtle. 'I will. But if he comes you mustn't behave this time as you
did before.'

'But I'm to go to Mrs Buggins' to-morrow.'

'We'll send to Mrs Buggins and tell her to get somebody else. You're
breaking your heart about going there;--are you not?'

'I don't like it, Mrs Hurtle.'

'And this man will make you mistress of his house. You say he isn't
good at speaking; but I tell you I never came across an honester man
in the whole course of my life, or one who I think would treat a woman
better. What's the use of a glib tongue if there isn't a heart with
it? What's the use of a lot of tinsel and lacker, if the real metal
isn't there? Sir Felix Carbury could talk, I dare say, but you don't
think now he was a very fine fellow.'

'He was so beautiful, Mrs Hurtle!'

'But he hadn't the spirit of a mouse in his bosom. Well, Ruby, you
have one more choice left you. Shall it be John Crumb or Mrs Buggins?'

'He wouldn't come, Mrs Hurtle.'

'Leave that to me, Ruby. May I bring him if I can?' Then Ruby in a
very low whisper told Mrs Hurtle, that if she thought proper she might
bring John Crumb back again. 'And there shall be no more nonsense?'

'No,' whispered Ruby.

On that same night a letter was sent to Mrs Buggins, which Mrs Hurtle
also composed, informing that lady that unforeseen circumstances
prevented Ruby Ruggles from keeping the engagement she had made; to
which a verbal answer was returned that Ruby Ruggles was an impudent
hussey. And then Mrs Hurtle in her own name wrote a short note to Mr
John Crumb.


If you will come back to London I think you will find Miss Ruby
Ruggles all that you desire.

Yours faithfully,


'She's had a deal more done for her than I ever knew to be done for
young women in my time,' said Mrs Pipkin, 'and I'm not at all so sure
that she has deserved it.'

'John Crumb will think she has.'

'John Crumb's a fool;--and as to Ruby; well, I haven't got no patience
with girls like them. Yes; it is for the best; and as for you, Mrs
Hurtle, there's no words to say how good you've been. I hope, Mrs
Hurtle, you ain't thinking of going away because this is all done.'


Dolly Longestaffe had found himself compelled to go to Fetter Lane
immediately after that meeting in Bruton Street at which he had
consented to wait two days longer for the payment of his money. This
was on a Wednesday, the day appointed for the payment being Friday. He
had undertaken that, on his part, Squercum should be made to desist
from further immediate proceedings, and he could only carry out his
word by visiting Squercum. The trouble to him was very great, but he
began to feel that he almost liked it. The excitement was nearly as
good as that of loo. Of course it was a 'horrid bore,'--this having
to go about in cabs under the sweltering sun of a London July day. Of
course it was a 'horrid bore,'--this doubt about his money. And it went
altogether against the grain with him that he should be engaged in any
matter respecting the family property in agreement with his father and
Mr Bideawhile. But there was an importance in it that sustained him
amidst his troubles. It is said that if you were to take a man of
moderate parts and make him Prime Minister out of hand, he might
probably do as well as other Prime Ministers, the greatness of the
work elevating the man to its own level. In that way Dolly was
elevated to the level of a man of business, and felt and enjoyed his
own capacity. 'By George!' It depended chiefly upon him whether such a
man as Melmotte should or should not be charged before the Lord Mayor.
'Perhaps I oughtn't to have promised,' he said to Squercum, sitting in
the lawyer's office on a high-legged stool with a cigar in his mouth.
He preferred Squercum to any other lawyer he had met because
Squercum's room was untidy and homely, because there was nothing awful
about it, and because he could sit in what position he pleased, and
smoke all the time.

'Well; I don't think you ought, if you ask me,' said Squercum.

'You weren't there to be asked, old fellow.'

'Bideawhile shouldn't have asked you to agree to anything in my
absence,' said Squercum indignantly. 'It was a very unprofessional
thing on his part, and so I shall take an opportunity of telling him.'

'It was you told me to go.'

'Well;--yes. I wanted you to see what they were at in that room; but
I told you to look on and say nothing.'

'I didn't speak half-a-dozen words.'

'You shouldn't have spoken those words. Your father then is quite
clear that you did not sign the letter?'

'Oh, yes;--the governor is pig-headed, you know, but he's honest.'

'That's a matter of course,' said the lawyer. 'All men are honest; but
they are generally specially honest to their own side. Bideawhile's
honest; but you've got to fight him deuced close to prevent his
getting the better of you. Melmotte has promised to pay the money on
Friday, has he?'

'He's to bring it with him to Bruton Street.'

'I don't believe a word of it;--and I'm sure Bideawhile doesn't. In
what shape will he bring it? He'll give you a cheque dated on Monday,
and that'll give him two days more, and then on Monday there'll be a
note to say the money can't be lodged till Wednesday. There should be
no compromising with such a man. You only get from one mess into
another. I told you neither to do anything or to say anything.'

'I suppose we can't help ourselves now. You're to be there on Friday.
I particularly bargained for that. It you're there, there won't be any
more compromising.'

Squercum made one or two further remarks to his client, not at all
flattering to Dolly's vanity,--which might have caused offence had not
there been such perfectly good feeling between the attorney and the
young man. As it was, Dolly replied to everything that was said with
increased flattery. 'If I was a sharp fellow like you, you know,' said
Dolly, 'of course I should get along better; but I ain't, you know.'
It was then settled that they should meet each other, and also meet Mr
Longestaffe senior, Bideawhile, and Melmotte, at twelve o'clock on
Friday morning in Bruton Street.

Squercum was by no means satisfied. He had busied himself in this
matter, and had ferreted things out, till he had pretty nearly got to
the bottom of that affair about the houses in the East, and had
managed to induce the heirs of the old man who had died to employ him.
As to the Pickering property he had not a doubt on the subject. Old
Longestaffe had been induced by promises of wonderful aid and by the
bribe of a seat at the Board of the South Central Pacific and Mexican
Railway to give up the title-deeds of the property,--as far as it was
in his power to give them up; and had endeavoured to induce Dolly to
do so also. As he had failed, Melmotte had supplemented his work by
ingenuity, with which the reader is acquainted. All this was perfectly
clear to Squercum, who thought that he saw before him a most
attractive course of proceeding against the Great Financier. It was
pure ambition rather than any hope of lucre that urged him on. He
regarded Melmotte as a grand swindler,--perhaps the grandest that the
world had ever known,--and he could conceive no greater honour than the
detection, successful prosecution, and ultimate destroying of so great
a man. To have hunted down Melmotte would make Squercum as great
almost as Melmotte himself. But he felt himself to have been unfairly
hampered by his own client. He did not believe that the money would be
paid; but delay might rob him of his Melmotte. He had heard a good
many things in the City, and believed it to be quite out of the
question that Melmotte should raise the money,--but there were various
ways in which a man might escape.

It may be remembered that Croll, the German clerk, preceded
Melmotte into the City on Wednesday after Marie's refusal to sign
the deeds. He, too, had his eyes open, and had perceived that
things were not looking as well as they used to look. Croll had for
many years been true to his patron, having been, upon the whole,
very well paid for such truth. There had been times when things had
gone badly with him, but he had believed in Melmotte, and, when
Melmotte rose, had been rewarded for his faith. Mr Croll at the
present time had little investments of his own, not made under his
employer's auspices, which would leave him not absolutely without
bread for his family should the Melmotte affairs at any time take
an awkward turn. Melmotte had never required from him service that
was actually fraudulent,--had at any rate never required it by spoken
words. Mr Croll had not been over-scrupulous, and had occasionally
been very useful to Mr Melmotte. But there must be a limit to all
things; and why should any man sacrifice himself beneath the ruins
of a falling house,--when convinced that nothing he can do can
prevent the fall? Mr Croll would have been of course happy to
witness Miss Melmotte's signature; but as for that other kind of
witnessing,--this clearly to his thinking was not the time for such
good-nature on his part.

'You know what's up now;--don't you?' said one of the junior clerks to
Mr Croll when he entered the office in Abchurch Lane.

'A good deal will be up soon,' said the German.

'Cohenlupe has gone!'

'And to vere has Mr Cohenlupe gone?'

'He hasn't been civil enough to leave his address. I fancy he don't
want his friends to have to trouble themselves by writing to him.
Nobody seems to know what's become of him.'

'New York,' suggested Mr Croll.

'They seem to think not. They're too hospitable in New York for Mr
Cohenlupe just at present. He's travelling private. He's on the
continent somewhere,--half across France by this time; but nobody knows
what route he has taken. That'll be a poke in the ribs for the old
boy;--eh, Croll?' Croll merely shook his head. 'I wonder what has
become of Miles Grendall,' continued the clerk.

'Ven de rats is going avay it is bad for de house. I like de rats to

'There seems to have been a regular manufactory of Mexican Railway

'Our governor knew noding about dat,' said Croll.

'He has a hat full of them at any rate. If they could have been kept
up another fortnight they say Cohenlupe would have been worth nearly a
million of money, and the governor would have been as good as the
bank. Is it true they are going to have him before the Lord Mayor
about the Pickering title-deeds?' Croll declared that he knew nothing
about the matter, and settled himself down to his work.

In little more than two hours he was followed by Melmotte, who thus
reached the City late in the afternoon. It was he knew too late to
raise the money on that day, but he hoped that he might pave the way
for getting it on the next day, which would be Thursday. Of course the
first news which he heard was of the defection of Mr Cohenlupe. It was
Croll who told him. He turned back, and his jaw fell, but at first he
said nothing.

'It's a bad thing,' said Mr Croll.

'Yes;--it is bad. He had a vast amount of my property in his hands.
Where has he gone?' Croll shook his head. 'It never rains but it
pours,' said Melmotte. 'Well; I'll weather it all yet. I've been worse
than I am now, Croll, as you know, and have had a hundred thousand
pounds at my banker's,--loose cash,--before the month was out.'

'Yes, indeed,' said Croll.

'But the worst of it is that every one around me is so damnably
jealous. It isn't what I've lost that will crush me, but what men will
say that I've lost. Ever since I began to stand for Westminster there
has been a dead set against me in the City. The whole of that affair
of the dinner was planned,--planned, by G----, that it might ruin me.
It was all laid out just as you would lay the foundation of a building.
It is hard for one man to stand against all that when he has dealings
so large as mine.'

'Very hard, Mr Melmotte.'

'But they'll find they're mistaken yet. There's too much of the real
stuff, Croll, for them to crush me. Property's a kind of thing that
comes out right at last. It's cut and come again, you know, if the
stuff is really there. But I mustn't stop talking here. I suppose I
shall find Brehgert in Cuthbert's Court.'

'I should say so, Mr Melmotte. Mr Brehgert never leaves much before

Then Mr Melmotte took his hat and gloves, and the stick that he
usually carried, and went out with his face carefully dressed in its
usually jaunty air. But Croll as he went heard him mutter the name of
Cohenlupe between his teeth. The part which he had to act is one very
difficult to any actor. The carrying an external look of indifference
when the heart is sinking within,--or has sunk almost to the very
ground,--is more than difficult; it is an agonizing task. In all mental
suffering the sufferer longs for solitude,--for permission to cast
himself loose along the ground, so that every limb and every feature
of his person may faint in sympathy with his heart. A grandly urbane
deportment over a crushed spirit and ruined hopes is beyond the
physical strength of most men;--but there have been men so strong.
Melmotte very nearly accomplished it. It was only to the eyes of such
a one as Herr Croll that the failure was perceptible.

Melmotte did find Mr Brehgert. At this time Mr Brehgert had completed
his correspondence with Miss Longestaffe, in which he had mentioned
the probability of great losses from the anticipated commercial
failure in Mr Melmotte's affairs. He had now heard that Mr Cohenlupe
had gone upon his travels, and was therefore nearly sure that his
anticipation would be correct. Nevertheless, he received his old
friend with a smile. When large sums of money are concerned there is
seldom much of personal indignation between man and man. The loss of
fifty pounds or of a few hundreds may create personal wrath;--but fifty
thousand require equanimity. 'So Cohenlupe hasn't been seen in the City
to-day,' said Brehgert.

'He has gone,' said Melmotte hoarsely.

'I think I once told you that Cohenlupe was not the man for large

'Yes, you did,' said Melmotte.

'Well;--it can't be helped; can it? And what is it now?' Then Melmotte
explained to Mr Brehgert what it was that he wanted then, taking the
various documents out of the bag which throughout the afternoon he had
carried in his hand. Mr Brehgert understood enough of his friend's
affairs, and enough of affairs in general, to understand readily all
that was required. He examined the documents, declaring, as he did so,
that he did not know how the thing could be arranged by Friday.
Melmotte replied that £50,000 was not a very large sum of money, that
the security offered was worth twice as much as that. 'You will leave
them with me this evening,' said Brehgert. Melmotte paused for a
moment, and said that he would of course do so. He would have given
much, very much, to have been sufficiently master of himself to have
assented without hesitation;--but then the weight within was so very

Having left the papers and the bag with Mr Brehgert, he walked
westwards to the House of Commons. He was accustomed to remain in the
City later than this, often not leaving it till seven,--though during
the last week or ten days he had occasionally gone down to the House
in the afternoon. It was now Wednesday, and there was no evening
sitting;--but his mind was too full of other things to allow him to
remember this. As he walked along the Embankment, his thoughts were
very heavy. How would things go with him?--What would be the end of
it? Ruin;--yes, but there were worse things than ruin. And a short time
since he had been so fortunate;--had made himself so safe! As he looked
back at it, he could hardly say how it had come to pass that he had
been driven out of the track that he had laid down for himself. He had
known that ruin would come, and had made himself so comfortably safe,
so brilliantly safe, in spite of ruin. But insane ambition had driven
him away from his anchorage. He told himself over and over again that
the fault had been not in circumstances,--not in that which men call
Fortune,--but in his own incapacity to bear his position. He saw it
now. He felt it now. If he could only begin again, how different
would his conduct be!

But of what avail were such regrets as these? He must take things as
they were now, and see that, in dealing with them, he allowed himself
to be carried away neither by pride nor cowardice. And if the worst
should come to the worst, then let him face it like a man! There was a
certain manliness about him which showed itself perhaps as strongly in
his own self-condemnation as in any other part of his conduct at this
time. Judging of himself, as though he were standing outside himself
and looking on to another man's work, he pointed out to himself his
own shortcomings. If it were all to be done again he thought that he
could avoid this bump against the rocks on one side, and that terribly
shattering blow on the other. There was much that he was ashamed of,--
many a little act which recurred to him vividly in this solitary hour
as a thing to be repented of with inner sackcloth and ashes. But never
once, not for a moment, did it occur to him that he should repent of
the fraud in which his whole life had been passed. No idea ever
crossed his mind of what might have been the result had he lived the
life of an honest man. Though he was inquiring into himself as closely
as he could, he never even told himself that he had been dishonest.
Fraud and dishonesty had been the very principle of his life, and had
so become a part of his blood and bones that even in this extremity of
his misery he made no question within himself as to his right judgment
in regard to them. Not to cheat, not to be a scoundrel, not to live
more luxuriously than others by cheating more brilliantly, was a
condition of things to which his mind had never turned itself. In that
respect he accused himself of no want of judgment. But why had he, so
unrighteous himself, not made friends to himself of the Mammon of
unrighteousness? Why had he not conciliated Lord Mayors? Why had he
trod upon all the corns of all his neighbours? Why had he been
insolent at the India Office? Why had he trusted any man as he had
trusted Cohenlupe? Why had he not stuck to Abchurch Lane instead of
going into Parliament? Why had he called down unnecessary notice on
his head by entertaining the Emperor of China? It was too late now,
and he must bear it; but these were the things that had ruined him.

He walked into Palace Yard and across it, to the door of Westminster
Abbey, before he found out that Parliament was not sitting. 'Oh,
Wednesday! Of course it is,' he said, turning round and directing his
steps towards Grosvenor Square. Then he remembered that in the morning
he had declared his purpose of dining at home, and now he did not know
what better use to make of the present evening. His house could hardly
be very comfortable to him. Marie no doubt would keep out of his way,
and he did not habitually receive much pleasure from his wife's
company. But in his own house he could at least be alone. Then, as he
walked slowly across the park, thinking so intently on matters as
hardly to observe whether he himself were observed or no, he asked
himself whether it still might not be best for him to keep the money
which was settled on his daughter, to tell the Longestaffes that he
could make no payment, and to face the worst that Mr Squercum could do
to him,--for he knew already how busy Mr Squercum was in the matter.
Though they should put him on his trial for forgery, what of that? He
had heard of trials in which the accused criminals had been heroes to
the multitude while their cases were in progress,--who had been fêted
from the beginning to the end though no one had doubted their guilt,--
and who had come out unscathed at the last. What evidence had they
against him? It might be that the Longestaffes and Bideawhiles and
Squercums should know that he was a forger, but their knowledge would
not produce a verdict. He, as member for Westminster, as the man who
had entertained the Emperor, as the owner of one of the most gorgeous
houses in London, as the great Melmotte, could certainly command the
best half of the bar. He already felt what popular support might do
for him. Surely there need be no despondency while so good a hope
remained to him! He did tremble as he remembered Dolly Longestaffe's
letter, and the letter of the old man who was dead. And he knew that
it was possible that other things might be adduced; but would it not
be better to face it all than surrender his money and become a pauper,
seeing, as he did very clearly, that even by such surrender he could
not cleanse his character?

But he had given those forged documents into the hands of Mr Brehgert!
Again he had acted in a hurry,--without giving sufficient thought to
the matter in hand. He was angry with himself for that also. But how
is a man to give sufficient thought to his affairs when no step that
he takes can be other than ruinous? Yes;--he had certainly put into
Brehgert's hands means of proving him to have been absolutely guilty
of forgery. He did not think that Marie would disclaim the signatures,
even though she had refused to sign the deeds, when she should
understand that her father had written her name; nor did he think that
his clerk would be urgent against him, as the forgery of Croll's name
could not injure Croll. But Brehgert, should he discover what had been
done, would certainly not permit him to escape. And now he had put
these forgeries without any guard into Brehgert's hands.

He would tell Brehgert in the morning that he had changed his mind. He
would see Brehgert before any action could have been taken on the
documents, and Brehgert would no doubt restore them to him. Then he
would instruct his daughter to hold the money fast, to sign no paper
that should be put before her, and to draw the income herself. Having
done that, he would let his foes do their worst. They might drag him
to gaol. They probably would do so. He had an idea that he could not
be admitted to bail if accused of forgery. But he would bear all that.
If convicted he would bear the punishment, still hoping that an end
might come. But how great was the chance that they might fail to
convict him! As to the dead man's letter, and as to Dolly
Longestaffe's letter, he did not think that any sufficient evidence
could be found. The evidence as to the deeds by which Marie was to
have released the property was indeed conclusive; but he believed that
he might still recover those documents. For the present it must be his
duty to do nothing,--when he should have recovered and destroyed those
documents,--and to live before the eyes of men as though he feared

He dined at home alone, in the study, and after dinner carefully went
through various bundles of papers, preparing them for the eyes of
those ministers of the law who would probably before long have the
privilege of searching them. At dinner, and while he was thus
employed, he drank a bottle of champagne,--feeling himself greatly
comforted by the process. If he could only hold up his head and look
men in the face, he thought that he might still live through it all.
How much had he done by his own unassisted powers! He had once been
imprisoned for fraud at Hamburg, and had come out of gaol a pauper;
friendless, with all his wretched antecedents against him. Now he was
a member of the British House of Parliament, the undoubted owner of
perhaps the most gorgeously furnished house in London, a man with an
established character for high finance,--a commercial giant whose name
was a familiar word on all the exchanges of the two hemispheres. Even
though he should be condemned to penal servitude for life, he would
not all die. He rang the bell and desired that Madame Melmotte might
be sent to him, and bade the servant bring him brandy.

In ten minutes his poor wife came crawling into the room. Every one
connected with Melmotte regarded the man with a certain amount of
awe,--every one except Marie, to whom alone he had at times been
himself almost gentle. The servants all feared him, and his wife obeyed
him implicitly when she could not keep away from him. She came in now
and stood opposite him, while he spoke to her. She never sat in his
presence in that room. He asked her where she and Marie kept their
jewelry;--for during the last twelve months rich trinkets had been
supplied to both of them. Of course she answered by another question.
'Is anything going to happen, Melmotte?'

'A good deal is going to happen. Are they here in this house, or in
Grosvenor Square?'

'They are here.'

'Then have them all packed up,--as small as you can; never mind about
wool and cases and all that. Have them close to your hand so that if
you have to move you can take them with you. Do you understand?'

'Yes; I understand.'

'Why don't you speak, then?'

'What is going to happen, Melmotte?'

'How can I tell? You ought to know by this time that when a man's work
is such as mine, things will happen. You'll be safe enough. Nothing
can hurt you.'

'Can they hurt you, Melmotte?'

'Hurt me! I don't know what you call hurting. Whatever there is to be
borne, I suppose it is I must bear it. I have not had it very soft all
my life hitherto, and I don't think it's going to be very soft now.'

'Shall we have to move?'

'Very likely. Move! What's the harm of moving? You talk of moving as
though that were the worst thing that could happen. How would you like
to be in some place where they wouldn't let you move?'

'Are they going to send you to prison?'

'Hold your tongue.'

'Tell me, Melmotte;--are they going to?' Then the poor woman did
sit down, overcome by her feelings.

'I didn't ask you to come here for a scene,' said Melmotte. 'Do as I
bid you about your own jewels, and Marie's. The thing is to have them
in small compass, and that you should not have it to do at the last
moment, when you will be flurried and incapable. Now you needn't stay
any longer, and it's no good asking any questions because I shan't
answer them.' So dismissed, the poor woman crept out again, and
immediately, after her own slow fashion, went to work with her

Melmotte sat up during the greater part of the night, sometimes sipping
brandy and water, and sometimes smoking. But he did no work, and
hardly touched a paper after his wife left him.


Very early the next morning, very early that is for London life,
Melmotte was told by a servant that Mr Croll had called and wanted to
see him. Then it immediately became a question with him whether he
wanted to see Croll. 'Is it anything special?' he asked. The man
thought that it was something special, as Croll had declared his
purpose of waiting when told that Mr Melmotte was not as yet dressed.
This happened at about nine o'clock in the morning. Melmotte longed to
know every detail of Croll's manner,--to know even the servant's
opinion of the clerk's manner,--but he did not dare to ask a question.
Melmotte thought that it might be well to be gracious. 'Ask him if he
has breakfasted, and if not give him something in the study.' But Mr
Croll had breakfasted and declined any further refreshment.

Nevertheless Melmotte had not as yet made up his mind that he would
meet his clerk. His clerk was his clerk. It might perhaps be well that
he should first go into the City and send word to Croll, bidding him
wait for his return. Over and over again, against his will, the
question of flying would present itself to him; but, though he
discussed it within his own bosom in every form, he knew that he could
not fly. And if he stood his ground,--as most assuredly he would do,--
then must he not be afraid to meet any man, let the man come with what
thunderbolts in his hand he might. Of course sooner or later some man
must come with a thunderbolt,--and why not Croll as well as another?
He stood against a press in his chamber, with a razor in his hand, and
steadied himself. How easily might he put an end to it all! Then he
rang his bell and desired that Croll might be shown up into his room.

The three or four minutes which intervened seemed to him to be very
long. He had absolutely forgotten in his anxiety that the lather was
still upon his face. But he could not smother his anxiety. He was
fighting with it at every turn, but he could not conquer it. When the
knock came at his door, he grasped at his own breast as though to
support himself. With a hoarse voice he told the man to come in, and
Croll himself appeared, opening the door gently and very slowly.
Melmotte had left the bag which contained the papers in possession of
Mr Brehgert, and he now saw, at a glance, that Croll had got the bag
in his hand and could see also by the shape of the bag that the bag
contained the papers. The man therefore had in his own hands, in his
own keeping, the very documents to which his own name had been forged!
There was no longer a hope, no longer a chance that Croll should be
ignorant of what had been done. 'Well, Croll,' he said with an attempt
at a smile, 'what brings you here so early?' He was pale as death, and
let him struggle as he would, could not restrain himself from

'Herr Brehgert vas vid me last night,' said Croll.


'And he thought I had better bring these back to you. That's all.'
Croll spoke in a very low voice, with his eyes fixed on his master's

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