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The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

Part 17 out of 19

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cruelly to Mrs Hurtle, and disrespectfully to my cousin.
Nevertheless, as you appeal to me on a certain point for
evidence which I can give, and which you say no one else can
give, I do acknowledge that, in my opinion, Mrs Hurtle's
presence in England has not been in accordance with your wishes,
and that you accompanied her to Lowestoft, not as her lover but
as an old friend whom you could not neglect.


Paul Montague, Esq.

You are at liberty to show this letter to Miss Carbury, if you
please; but if she reads part she should read the whole!

There was more perhaps of hostility in this letter than of that spirit
of self-sacrifice to which Roger intended to train himself; and so he
himself felt after the letter had been dispatched.


Melmotte had been found dead on Friday morning, and late on the
evening of the same day Madame Melmotte and Marie were removed to
lodgings far away from the scene of the tragedy, up at Hampstead. Herr
Croll had known of the place, and at Lord Nidderdale's instance had
busied himself in the matter, and had seen that the rooms were made
instantly ready for the widow of his late employer. Nidderdale himself
had assisted them in their departure; and the German, with the poor
woman's maid, with the jewels also, which had been packed according to
Melmotte's last orders to his wife, followed the carriage which took
the mother and the daughter. They did not start till nine o'clock in
the evening, and Madame Melmotte at the moment would fain have been
allowed to rest one other night in Bruton Street. But Lord Nidderdale,
with one hardly uttered word, made Marie understand that the inquest
would be held early on the following morning, and Marie was imperious
with her mother and carried her point. So the poor woman was taken
away from Mr Longestaffe's residence, and never again saw the grandeur
of her own house in Grosvenor Square, which she had not visited since
the night on which she had helped to entertain the Emperor of China.

On Saturday morning the inquest was held. There was not the slightest
doubt as to any one of the incidents of the catastrophe. The servants,
the doctor, and the inspector of police between them, learned that he
had come home alone, that nobody had been near him during the night,
that he had been found dead, and that he had undoubtedly been poisoned
by prussic acid. It was also proved that he had been drunk in the
House of Commons, a fact to which one of the clerks of the House, very
much against his will, was called upon to testify. That he had
destroyed himself there was no doubt,--nor was there any doubt as to
the cause.

In such cases as this it is for the jury to say whether the
unfortunate one who has found his life too hard for endurance, and has
rushed away to see whether he could not find an improved condition of
things elsewhere, has or has not been mad at the moment. Surviving
friends are of course anxious for a verdict of insanity, as in that
case no further punishment is exacted. The body can be buried like any
other body, and it can always be said afterwards that the poor man was
mad. Perhaps it would be well that all suicides should be said to have
been mad, for certainly the jurymen are not generally guided in their
verdicts by any accurately ascertained facts. If the poor wretch has,
up to his last days, been apparently living a decent life; if he be
not hated, or has not in his last moments made himself specially
obnoxious to the world at large, then he is declared to have been mad.
Who would be heavy on a poor clergyman who has been at last driven by
horrid doubts to rid himself of a difficulty from which he saw no
escape in any other way? Who would not give the benefit of the doubt
to the poor woman whose lover and lord had deserted her? Who would
remit to unhallowed earth the body of the once beneficent philosopher
who has simply thought that he might as well go now, finding himself
powerless to do further good upon earth? Such, and such like, have of
course been temporarily insane, though no touch even of strangeness
may have marked their conduct up to their last known dealings with
their fellow-mortals. But let a Melmotte be found dead, with a bottle
of prussic acid by his side--a man who has become horrid to the world
because of his late iniquities, a man who has so well pretended to be
rich that he has been able to buy and to sell properties without
paying for them, a wretch who has made himself odious by his ruin to
friends who had taken him up as a pillar of strength in regard to
wealth, a brute who had got into the House of Commons by false
pretences, and had disgraced the House by being drunk there,--and, of
course, he will not be saved by a verdict of insanity from the cross
roads, or whatever scornful grave may be allowed to those who have
killed themselves with their wits about them. Just at this moment
there was a very strong feeling against Melmotte, owing perhaps as
much to his having tumbled over poor Mr Beauchamp in the House of
Commons as to the stories of the forgeries he had committed, and the
virtue of the day vindicated itself by declaring him to have been
responsible for his actions when he took the poison. He was felo de
se, and therefore carried away to the cross roads--or elsewhere. But it
may be imagined, I think, that during that night he may have become as
mad as any other wretch, have been driven as far beyond his powers of
endurance as any other poor creature who ever at any time felt himself
constrained to go. He had not been so drunk but that he knew all that
happened, and could foresee pretty well what would happen. The summons
to attend upon the Lord Mayor had been served upon him. There were
some, among them Croll and Mr Brehgert, who absolutely knew that he
had committed forgery. He had no money for the Longestaffes, and he
was well aware what Squercum would do at once. He had assured himself
long ago,--he had assured himself indeed not very long ago,--that he
would brave it all like a man. But we none of us know what load we can
bear, and what would break our backs. Melmotte's back had been so
utterly crushed that I almost think that he was mad enough to have
justified a verdict of temporary insanity.

But he was carried away, no one knew whither, and for a week his name
was hateful. But after that, a certain amount of whitewashing took
place, and, in some degree, a restitution of fame was made to the
manes of the departed. In Westminster he was always odious.
Westminster, which had adopted him, never forgave him. But in other
districts it came to be said of him that he had been more sinned
against than sinning; and that, but for the jealousy of the old
stagers in the mercantile world, he would have done very wonderful
things. Marylebone, which is always merciful, took him up quite with
affection, and would have returned his ghost to Parliament could his
ghost have paid for committee rooms. Finsbury delighted for a while to
talk of the great Financier, and even Chelsea thought that he had been
done to death by ungenerous tongues. It was, however, Marylebone alone
that spoke of a monument.

Mr Longestaffe came back to his house, taking formal possession of it
a few days after the verdict. Of course he was alone. There had been
no further question of bringing the ladies of the family up to town;
and Dolly altogether declined to share with his father the honour of
encountering the dead man's spirit. But there was very much for Mr
Longestaffe to do, and very much also for his son. It was becoming a
question with both of them how far they had been ruined by their
connection with the horrible man. It was clear that they could not get
back the title-deeds of the Pickering property without paying the
amount which had been advanced upon them, and it was equally clear
that they could not pay that sum unless they were enabled to do so by
funds coming out of the Melmotte estate. Dolly, as he sat smoking upon
the stool in Mr Squercum's office, where he now passed a considerable
portion of his time, looked upon himself as a miracle of ill-usage.

'By George, you know, I shall have to go to law with the governor.
There's nothing else for it; is there, Squercum?'

Squercum suggested that they had better wait till they found what
pickings there might be out of the Melmotte estate. He had made
inquiries too about that, and had been assured that there must be
property, but property so involved and tied up as to make it
impossible to lay hands upon it suddenly. 'They say that the things in
the square, and the plate, and the carriages and horses, and all that,
ought to fetch between twenty and thirty thousand. There were a lot of
jewels, but the women have taken them,' said Squercum.

'By George, they ought to be made to give up everything. Did you ever
hear of such a thing;--the very house pulled down,--my house; and all
done without a word from me in the matter? I don't suppose such a thing
was ever known before, since properties were properties.' Then he
uttered sundry threats against the Bideawhiles, in reference to whom
he declared his intention of 'making it very hot for them.'

It was an annoyance added to the elder Mr Longestaffe that the
management of Melmotte's affairs fell at last almost exclusively into
the hands of Mr Brehgert. Now Brehgert, in spite of his many dealings
with Melmotte, was an honest man, and, which was perhaps of as much
immediate consequence, both an energetic and a patient man. But then
he was the man who had wanted to marry Georgiana Longestaffe, and he
was the man to whom Mr Longestaffe had been particularly uncivil. Then
there arose necessities for the presence of Mr Brehgert in the house
in which Melmotte had lately lived and had died. The dead man's papers
were still there,--deeds, documents, and such letters as he had not
chosen to destroy;--and these could not be moved quite at once. 'Mr
Brehgert must of course have access to my private room, as long as it
is necessary,--absolutely necessary,' said Mr Longestaffe in answer
to a message which was brought to him; 'but he will of course see the
expediency of relieving me from such intrusion as soon as possible.'
But he soon found it preferable to come to terms with the rejected
suitor, especially as the man was singularly good-natured and
forbearing after the injuries he had received.

All minor debts were to be paid at once; an arrangement to which Mr
Longestaffe cordially agreed, as it included a sum of 300 due to him
for the rent of his house in Bruton Street. Then by degrees it became
known that there would certainly be a dividend of not less than fifty
per cent. payable on debts which could be proved to have been owing by
Melmotte, and perhaps of more;--an arrangement which was very
comfortable to Dolly, as it had been already agreed between all the
parties interested that the debt due to him should be satisfied before
the father took anything. Mr Longestaffe resolved during these weeks
that he remained in town that, as regarded himself and his own family,
the house in London should not only not be kept up, but that it should
be absolutely sold, with all its belongings, and that the servants at
Caversham should be reduced in number and should cease to wear powder.
All this was communicated to Lady Pomona in a very long letter, which
she was instructed to read to her daughters. 'I have suffered great
wrongs,' said Mr Longestaffe, 'but I must submit to them, and as I
submit so must my wife and children. If our son were different from
what he is the sacrifice might probably be made lighter. His nature I
cannot alter, but from my daughters I expect cheerful obedience.' From
what incidents of his past life he was led to expect cheerfulness at
Caversham it might be difficult to say; but the obedience was there.
Georgey was for the time broken down; Sophia was satisfied with her
nuptial prospects, and Lady Pomona had certainly no spirits left for a
combat. I think the loss of the hair-powder afflicted her most; but
she said not a word even about that.

But in all this the details necessary for the telling of our story are
anticipated. Mr Longestaffe had remained in London actually over the
1st of September, which in Suffolk is the one great festival of the
year, before the letter was written to which allusion has been made.
In the meantime he saw much of Mr Brehgert, and absolutely formed a
kind of friendship for that gentleman, in spite of the abomination of
his religion,--so that on one occasion he even condescended to ask Mr
Brehgert to dine alone with him in Bruton Street. This, too, was in
the early days of the arrangement of the Melmotte affairs, when Mr
Longestaffe's heart had been softened by that arrangement with
reference to the rent. Mr Brehgert came, and there arose a somewhat
singular conversation between the two gentlemen as they sat together
over a bottle of Mr Longestaffe's old port wine. Hitherto not a word
had passed between them respecting the connection which had once been
proposed, since the day on which the young lady's father had said so
many bitter things to the expectant bridegroom. But in this evening Mr
Brehgert, who was by no means a coward in such matters and whose
feelings were not perhaps painfully fine, spoke his mind in a way that
at first startled Mr Longestaffe. The subject was introduced by a
reference which Brehgert had made to his own affairs. His loss would
be, at any rate, double that which Mr Longestaffe would have to bear;--
but he spoke of it in an easy way, as though it did not sit very near
his heart. 'Of course there's a difference between me and you,' he
said. Mr Longestaffe bowed his head graciously, as much as to say that
there was of course a very wide difference. 'In our affairs,'
continued Brehgert, 'we expect gains, and of course look for
occasional losses. When a gentleman in your position sells a property
he expects to get the purchase-money.'

'Of course he does, Mr Brehgert. That's what made it so hard.'

'I can't even yet quite understand how it was with him, or why he took
upon himself to spend such an enormous deal of money here in London.
His business was quite irregular, but there was very much of it, and
some of it immensely profitable. He took us in completely.'

'I suppose so.'

'It was old Mr Todd that first took to him;--but I was deceived as much
as Todd, and then I ventured on a speculation with him outside of our
house. The long and short of it is that I shall lose something about
sixty thousand pounds.'

'That's a large sum of money.'

'Very large;--so large as to affect my daily mode of life. In my
correspondence with your daughter, I considered it to be my duty to
point out to her that it would be so. I do not know whether she told

This reference to his daughter for the moment altogether upset Mr
Longestaffe. The reference was certainly most indelicate, most
deserving of censure; but Mr Longestaffe did not know how to pronounce
his censure on the spur of the moment, and was moreover at the present
time so very anxious for Brehgert's assistance in the arrangement of
his affairs that, so to say, he could not afford to quarrel with the
man. But he assumed something more than his normal dignity as he
asserted that his daughter had never mentioned the fact.

'It was so,' said Brehgert

'No doubt;'--and Mr Longestaffe assumed a great deal of dignity.

'Yes; it was so. I had promised your daughter when she was good enough
to listen to the proposition which I made to her, that I would
maintain a second house when we should be married.'

'It was impossible,' said Mr Longestaffe,--meaning to assert that such
hymeneals were altogether unnatural and out of the question.

'It would have been quite possible as things were when that
proposition was made. But looking forward to the loss which I
afterwards anticipated from the affairs of our deceased friend, I
found it to be prudent to relinquish my intention for the present, and
I thought myself bound to inform Miss Longestaffe.'

'There were other reasons,' muttered Mr Longestaffe, in a suppressed
voice, almost in a whisper,--in a whisper which was intended to convey
a sense of present horror and a desire for future reticence.

'There may have been; but in the last letter which Miss Longestaffe
did me the honour to write to me,--a letter with which I have not the
slightest right to find any fault,--she seemed to me to confine herself
almost exclusively to that reason.'

'Why mention this now, Mr Brehgert; why mention this now? The subject
is painful.'

'Just because it is not painful to me, Mr Longestaffe; and because I
wish that all they who have heard of the matter should know that it is
not painful. I think that throughout I behaved like a gentleman.' Mr
Longestaffe, in an agony, first shook his head twice, and then bowed
it three times, leaving the Jew to take what answer he could from so
dubious an oracle. 'I am sure.' continued Brehgert, 'that I behaved
like an honest man; and I didn't quite like that the matter should be
passed over as if I was in any way ashamed of myself.'

'Perhaps on so delicate a subject the less said the soonest mended.'

'I've nothing more to say, and I've nothing at all to mend.' Finishing
the conversation with this little speech Brehgert arose to take his
leave, making some promise at the time that he would use all the
expedition in his power to complete the arrangement of the Melmotte

As soon as he was gone Mr Longestaffe opened the door and walked about
the room and blew out long puffs of breath, as though to cleanse
himself from the impurities of his late contact. He told himself that
he could not touch pitch and not be defiled! How vulgar had the man
been, how indelicate, how regardless of all feeling, how little
grateful for the honour which Mr Longestaffe had conferred upon him by
asking him to dinner! Yes;--yes! A horrid Jew! Were not all Jews
necessarily an abomination? Yet Mr Longestaffe was aware that in the
present crisis of his fortunes he could not afford to quarrel with Mr


It was a long time now since Lady Carbury's great historical work on
the Criminal Queens of the World had been completed and given to the
world. Any reader careful as to dates will remember that it was as far
back as in February that she had solicited the assistance of certain
of her literary friends who were connected with the daily and weekly
press. These gentlemen had responded to her call with more or less
zealous aid, so that the 'Criminal Queens' had been regarded in the
trade as one of the successful books of the season. Messrs. Leadham
and Loiter had published a second, and then, very quickly, a fourth
and fifth edition; and had been able in their advertisements to give
testimony from various criticisms showing that Lady Carbury's book was
about the greatest historical work which had emanated from the press
in the present century. With this object a passage was extracted even
from the columns of the 'Evening Pulpit,'--which showed very great
ingenuity on the part of some young man connected with the
establishment of Messrs. Leadham and Loiter. Lady Carbury had suffered
something in the struggle. What efforts can mortals make as to which
there will not be some disappointment? Paper and print cannot be had
for nothing, and advertisements are very costly. An edition may be
sold with startling rapidity, but it may have been but a scanty
edition. When Lady Carbury received from Messrs. Leadham and Loiter
their second very moderate cheque, with the expression of a fear on
their part that there would not probably be a third,--unless some
unforeseen demand should arise,--she repeated to herself those
well-known lines from the satirist,--

'Oh, Amos Cottle, for a moment think
What meagre profits spread from pen and ink.'

But not on that account did she for a moment hesitate as to further
attempts. Indeed she had hardly completed the last chapter of her
'Criminal Queens' before she was busy on another work; and although
the last six months had been to her a period of incessant trouble, and
sometimes of torture, though the conduct of her son had more than once
forced her to declare to herself that her mind would fail her, still
she had persevered. From day to day, with all her cares heavy upon
her, she had sat at her work, with a firm resolve that so many lines
should be always forthcoming, let the difficulty of making them be
what it might. Messrs. Leadham and Loiter had thought that they might
be justified in offering her certain terms for a novel,--terms not very
high indeed, and those contingent on the approval of the manuscript by
their reader. The smallness of the sum offered, and the want of
certainty, and the pain of the work in her present circumstances, had
all been felt by her to be very hard. But she had persevered, and the
novel was now complete.

It cannot with truth be said of her that she had had any special tale
to tell. She had taken to the writing of a novel because Mr Loiter had
told her that upon the whole novels did better than anything else. She
would have written a volume of sermons on the same encouragement, and
have gone about the work exactly after the same fashion. The length of
her novel had been her first question. It must be in three volumes,
and each volume must have three hundred pages. But what fewest number
of words might be supposed sufficient to fill a page? The money
offered was too trifling to allow of very liberal measure on her part.
She had to live, and if possible to write another novel,--and, as she
hoped, upon better terms,--when this should be finished. Then what
should be the name of her novel; what the name of her hero; and above
all what the name of her heroine? It must be a love story of course;
but she thought that she would leave the complications of the plot to
come by chance,--and they did come. 'Don't let it end unhappily, Lady
Carbury,' Mr Loiter had said, 'because though people like it in a
play, they hate it in a book. And whatever you do, Lady Carbury, don't
be historical. Your historical novel, Lady Carbury, isn't worth a--'
Mr Loiter stopping himself suddenly, and remembering that he was
addressing himself to a lady, satisfied his energy at last by the use
of the word 'straw.' Lady Carbury had followed these instructions with

The name for the story had been the great thing. It did not occur to
the authoress that, as the plot was to be allowed to develop itself
and was, at this moment when she was perplexed as to the title,
altogether uncreated, she might as well wait to see what appellation
might best suit her work when its purpose should have declared itself.
A novel, she knew well, was most unlike a rose, which by any other
name will smell as sweet. 'The Faultless Father,' 'The Mysterious
Mother,' 'The Lame Lover,'--such names as that she was aware would be
useless now. 'Mary Jane Walker,' if she could be very simple, would
do, or 'Blanche De Veau,' if she were able to maintain throughout a
somewhat high-stilted style of feminine rapture. But as she considered
that she could best deal with rapid action and strange coincidences,
she thought that something more startling and descriptive would better
suit her purpose. After an hour's thought a name did occur to her, and
she wrote it down, and with considerable energy of purpose framed her
work in accordance with her chosen title, 'The Wheel of Fortune!' She
had no particular fortune in her mind when she chose it, and no
particular wheel;--but the very idea conveyed by the words gave her the
plot which she wanted. A young lady was blessed with great wealth, and
lost it all by an uncle, and got it all back by an honest lawyer, and
gave it all up to a distressed lover, and found it all again in a
third volume. And the lady's name was Cordinga, selected by Lady
Carbury as never having been heard before either in the world of fact
or in that of fiction.

And now with all her troubles thick about her,--while her son was still
hanging about the house in a condition that would break any mother's
heart, while her daughter was so wretched and sore that she regarded
all those around her as her enemies, Lady Carbury finished her work,
and having just written the last words in which the final glow of
enduring happiness was given to the young married heroine whose wheel
had now come full round, sat with the sheets piled at her right hand.
She had allowed herself a certain number of weeks for the task, and
had completed it exactly in the time fixed. As she sat with her hand
near the pile, she did give herself credit for her diligence. Whether
the work might have been better done she never asked herself. I do not
think that she prided herself much on the literary merit of the tale.
But if she could bring the papers to praise it, if she could induce
Mudie to circulate it, if she could manage that the air for a month
should be so loaded with 'The Wheel of Fortune,' as to make it
necessary for the reading world to have read or to have said that it
had read the book,--then she would pride herself very much upon her

As she was so sitting on a Sunday afternoon, in her own room, Mr Alf
was announced. According to her habit, she expressed warm delight at
seeing him. Nothing could be kinder than such a visit just at such a
time,--when there was so very much to occupy such a one as Mr Alf!
Mr Alf, in his usual mildly satirical way, declared that he was not
peculiarly occupied just at present. 'The Emperor has left Europe at
last,' he said. 'Poor Melmotte poisoned himself on Friday, and the
inquest sat yesterday. I don't know that there is anything of interest
to-day.' Of course Lady Carbury was intent upon her book, rather even
than on the exciting death of a man whom she had herself known. Oh, if
she could only get Mr Alf! She had tried it before, and had failed
lamentably. She was well aware of that; and she had a deep-seated
conviction that it would be almost impossible to get Mr Alf. But then
she had another deep-seated conviction, that that which is almost
impossible may possibly be done. How great would be the glory, how
infinite the service! And did it not seem as though Providence had
blessed her with this special opportunity, sending Mr Alf to her just
at the one moment at which she might introduce the subject of her
novel without seeming premeditation?

'I am so tired,' she said, affecting to throw herself back as though
stretching her arms out for ease.

'I hope I am not adding to your fatigue,' said Mr Alf. 'Oh dear no. It
is not the fatigue of the moment, but of the last six months. Just as
you knocked at the door, I had finished the novel at which I have been
working, oh, with such diligence!'

'Oh;--a novel! When is it to appear, Lady Carbury?'

'You must ask Leadham and Loiter that question. I have done my part of
the work. I suppose you never wrote a novel, Mr Alf?'

'I? Oh dear no; I never write anything.'

'I have sometimes wondered whether I have hated or loved it the most.
One becomes so absorbed in one's plot and one's characters! One loves
the loveable so intensely, and hates with such fixed aversion those
who are intended to be hated. When the mind is attuned to it, one is
tempted to think that it is all so good. One cries at one's own
pathos, laughs at one's own humour, and is lost in admiration at one's
own sagacity and knowledge.'

'How very nice!'

'But then there comes the reversed picture, the other side of the
coin. On a sudden everything becomes flat, tedious, and unnatural. The
heroine who was yesterday alive with the celestial spark is found
to-day to be a lump of motionless clay. The dialogue that was so cheery
on the first perusal is utterly uninteresting at a second reading.
Yesterday I was sure that there was my monument,' and she put her hand
upon the manuscript; 'to-day I feel it to be only too heavy for a

'One's judgement about one's self always does vacillate,' said Mr Alf
in a tone as phlegmatic as were the words.

'And yet it is so important that one should be able to judge correctly
of one's own work! I can at any rate trust myself to be honest, which
is more perhaps than can be said of all the critics.'

'Dishonesty is not the general fault of the critics, Lady Carbury,--at
least not as far as I have observed the business. It is incapacity. In
what little I have done in the matter, that is the sin which I have
striven to conquer. When we want shoes we go to a professed shoemaker;
but for criticism we have certainly not gone to professed critics. I
think that when I gave up the "Evening Pulpit," I left upon it a staff
of writers who are entitled to be regarded as knowing their business.'

'You given up the "Pulpit"?' asked Lady Carbury with astonishment,
readjusting her mind at once, so that she might perceive whether any
and if so what advantage might be taken of Mr Alf's new position. He
was no longer editor, and therefore his heavy sense of responsibility
would no longer exist;--but he must still have influence. Might he not
be persuaded to do one act of real friendship? Might she not succeed
if she would come down from her high seat, sink on the ground before
him, tell him the plain truth, and beg for a favour as a poor
struggling woman?

'Yes, Lady Carbury, I have given it up. It was a matter of course that
I should do so when I stood for Parliament. Now that the new member
has so suddenly vacated his seat, I shall probably stand again.'

'And you are no longer an editor?'

'I have given it up, and I suppose I have now satisfied the scruples
of those gentlemen who seemed to think that I was committing a crime
against the Constitution in attempting to get into Parliament while I
was managing a newspaper. I never heard such nonsense. Of course I
know where it came from.'

'Where did it come from?'

'Where should it come from but the "Breakfast Table"? Broune and I
have been very good friends, but I do think that of all the men I know
he is the most jealous.'

'That is so little,' said Lady Carbury. She was really very fond of Mr
Broune, but at the present moment she was obliged to humour Mr Alf.

'It seems to me that no man can be better qualified to sit in
Parliament than an editor of a newspaper,--that is if he is capable
as an editor.'

'No one, I think, has ever doubted that of you.'

'The only question is whether he be strong enough for the double work.
I have doubted about myself, and have therefore given up the paper. I
almost regret it.'

'I dare say you do,' said Lady Carbury, feeling intensely anxious to
talk about her own affairs instead of his. 'I suppose you still retain
an interest in the paper?'

'Some pecuniary interest;--nothing more.'

'Oh, Mr Alf,--you could do me such a favour!'

'Can I? If I can, you may be sure I will.' False-hearted, false-tongued
man! Of course he knew at the moment what was the favour Lady Carbury
intended to ask, and of course he had made up his mind that he would
not do as he was asked.

'Will you?' And Lady Carbury clasped her hands together as she poured
forth the words of her prayer. 'I never asked you to do anything for
me as long as you were editing the paper. Did I? I did not think it
right, and I would not do it. I took my chance like others, and I am
sure you must own that I bore what was said of me with a good grace. I
never complained. Did I?'

'Certainly not.'

'But now that you have left it yourself,--if you would have the "Wheel
of Fortune" done for me,--really well done!'

'The "Wheel of Fortune"!'

'That is the name of my novel,' said Lady Carbury, putting her hand
softly upon the manuscript. 'Just at this moment it would be the
making of a fortune for me! And oh, Mr Alf, if you could but know how
I want such assistance!'

'I have nothing further to do with the editorial management, Lady

'Of course you could get it done. A word from you would make it
certain. A novel is different from an historical work, you know. I
have taken so much pains with it.'

'Then no doubt it will be praised on its own merits.'

'Don't say that, Mr Alf. The "Evening Pulpit" is like,--oh, it is
like,--like,--like the throne of heaven! Who can be justified before
it? Don't talk about its own merits, but say that you will have it
done. It couldn't do any man any harm, and it would sell five hundred
copies at once,--that is if it were done really con amore.' Mr Alf
looked at her almost piteously, and shook his head. 'The paper stands
so high, it can't hurt it to do that kind of thing once. A woman is
asking you, Mr Alf. It is for my children that I am struggling. The
thing is done every day of the week, with much less noble motives.'

'I do not think that it has ever been done by the "Evening Pulpit."'

'I have seen books praised.'

'Of course you have.'

'I think I saw a novel spoken highly of.'

Mr Alf laughed. 'Why not? You do not suppose that it is the object of
the "Pulpit" to cry down novels?'

'I thought it was; but I thought you might make an exception here. I
would be so thankful;--so grateful.'

'My dear Lady Carbury, pray believe me when I say that I have nothing
to do with it. I need not preach to you sermons about literary virtue.'

'Oh, no,' she said, not quite understanding what he meant.

'The sceptre has passed from my hands, and I need not vindicate the
justice of my successor.'

'I shall never know your successor.'

'But I must assure you that on no account should I think of meddling
with the literary arrangement of the paper. I would not do it for my
sister.' Lady Carbury looked greatly pained. 'Send the book out, and
let it take its chance. How much prouder you will be to have it
praised because it deserves praise, than to know that it has been
eulogized as a mark of friendship.'

'No, I shan't,' said Lady Carbury. 'I don't believe that anything like
real selling praise is ever given to anybody, except to friends. I
don't know how they manage it, but they do.' Mr Alf shook his head.
'Oh yes; that is all very well from you. Of course you have been a
dragon of virtue; but they tell me that the authoress of the "New
Cleopatra" is a very handsome woman.' Lady Carbury must have been
worried much beyond her wont, when she allowed herself so far to lose
her temper as to bring against Mr Alf the double charge of being too
fond of the authoress in question, and of having sacrificed the
justice of his columns to that improper affection.

'At this moment I do not remember the name of the lady to whom you
allude,' said Mr Alf, getting up to take his leave; 'and I am quite
sure that the gentleman who reviewed the book,--if there be any such
lady and any such book,--had never seen her!' And so Mr Alf departed.

Lady Carbury was very angry with herself, and very angry also with Mr
Alf. She had not only meant to be piteous, but had made the attempt
and then had allowed herself to be carried away into anger. She had
degraded herself to humility, and had then wasted any possible good
result by a foolish fit of chagrin. The world in which she had to live
was almost too hard for her. When left alone she sat weeping over her
sorrows; but when from time to time she thought of Mr Alf and his
conduct, she could hardly repress her scorn. What lies he had told
her! Of course he could have done it had he chosen. But the assumed
honesty of the man was infinitely worse to her than his lies. No doubt
the 'Pulpit' had two objects in its criticisms. Other papers probably
had but one. The object common to all papers, that of helping friends
and destroying enemies, of course prevailed with the 'Pulpit.' There
was the second purpose of enticing readers by crushing authors,--as
crowds used to be enticed to see men hanged when executions were done
in public. But neither the one object nor the other was compatible
with that Aristidean justice which Mr Alf arrogated to himself and to
his paper. She hoped with all her heart that Mr Alf would spend a
great deal of money at Westminster, and then lose his seat.

On the following morning she herself took the manuscript to Messrs
Leadham and Loiter, and was hurt again by the small amount of respect
which seemed to be paid to the collected sheets. There was the work of
six months; her very blood and brains,--the concentrated essence of
her mind,--as she would say herself when talking with energy of her own
performances; and Mr Leadham pitched it across to a clerk, apparently
perhaps sixteen years of age, and the lad chucked the parcel
unceremoniously under the counter. An author feels that his work
should be taken from him with fast-clutching but reverential hands,
and held thoughtfully, out of harm's way, till it be deposited within
the very sanctum of an absolutely fireproof safe. Oh, heavens, if it
should be lost!--or burned!--or stolen! Those scraps of paper, so
easily destroyed, apparently so little respected, may hereafter be
acknowledged to have had a value greater, so far greater, than their
weight in gold! If 'Robinson Crusoe' had been lost! If 'Tom Jones' had
been consumed by flames! And who knows but that this may be another
'Robinson Crusoe,'--a better than 'Tom Jones'? 'Will it be safe there?'
asked Lady Carbury.

'Quite safe,--quite safe,' said Mr Leadham, who was rather busy, and
perhaps saw Lady Carbury more frequently than the nature and amount of
her authorship seemed to him to require.

'It seemed to be,--put down there,--under the counter!'

'That's quite right, Lady Carbury. They're left there till they're


'There are two or three dozen going to our reader this week. He's down
in Skye, and we keep them till there's enough to fill the sack.'

'Do they go by post, Mr Leadham?'

'Not by post, Lady Carbury. There are not many of them would pay the
expense. We send them by long sea to Glasgow, because just at this
time of the year there is not much hurry. We can't publish before the
winter.' Oh, heavens! If that ship should be lost on its journey by
long sea to Glasgow!

That evening, as was now almost his daily habit, Mr Browne came to
her. There was something in the absolute friendship which now existed
between Lady Carbury and the editor of the 'Morning Breakfast Table,'
which almost made her scrupulous as to asking from him any further
literary favour. She fully recognized,--no woman perhaps more fully,--
the necessity of making use of all aid and furtherance which might come
within reach. With such a son, with such need for struggling before
her, would she not be wicked not to catch even at every straw? But
this man had now become so true to her, that she hardly knew how to
beg him to do that which she, with all her mistaken feelings, did in
truth know that he ought not to do. He had asked her to marry him, for
which,--though she had refused him,--she felt infinitely grateful. And
though she had refused him, he had lent her money, and had supported
her in her misery by his continued counsel. If he would offer to do
this thing for her she would accept his kindness on her knees,--but
even she could not bring herself to ask to have this added to his other
favours. Her first word to him was about Mr Alf. 'So he has given up
the paper?'

'Well, yes;--nominally.'

'Is that all?'

'I don't suppose he'll really let it go out of his own hands. Nobody
likes to lose power. He'll share the work, and keep the authority. As
for Westminster, I don't believe he has a chance. If that poor wretch
Melmotte could beat him when everybody was already talking about the
forgeries, how is it likely that he should stand against such a
candidate as they'll get now?'

'He was here yesterday.'

'And full of triumph, I suppose?'

'He never talks to me much of himself. We were speaking of my new
book,--my novel. He assured me most positively that he had nothing
further to do with the paper.'

'He did not care to make you a promise, I dare say.'

'That was just it. Of course I did not believe him.'

'Neither will I make a promise, but we'll see what we can do. If we
can't be good-natured, at any rate we will say nothing ill-natured.
Let me see,--what is the name?'

'"The Wheel of Fortune."' Lady Carbury as she told the title of her
new book to her old friend seemed to be almost ashamed of it.

'Let them send it early,--a day or two before it's out, if they can. I
can't answer, of course, for the opinion of the gentleman it will go
to, but nothing shall go in that you would dislike. Good-bye. God
bless you.' And as he took her hand, he looked at her almost as though
the old susceptibility were returning to him.

As she sat alone after he had gone, thinking over it all,--thinking of
her own circumstances and of his kindness,--it did not occur to her to
call him an old goose again. She felt now that she had mistaken her
man when she had so regarded him. That first and only kiss which he
had given her, which she had treated with so much derision, for which
she had rebuked him so mildly and yet so haughtily, had now a somewhat
sacred spot in her memory. Through it all the man must have really
loved her! Was it not marvellous that such a thing should be? And how
had it come to pass that she in all her tenderness had rejected him
when he had given her the chance of becoming his wife?


When Hetta Carbury received that letter from her lover which was given
to the reader some chapters back, it certainly did not tend in any way
to alleviate her misery. Even when she had read it over half-a-dozen
times, she could not bring herself to think it possible that she could
be reconciled to the man. It was not only that he had sinned against
her by giving his society to another woman to whom he had at any rate
been engaged not long since, at the very time at which he was becoming
engaged to her,--but also that he had done this in such a manner as to
make his offence known to all her friends. Perhaps she had been too
quick;--but there was the fact that with her own consent she had acceded
to her mother's demand that the man should be rejected. The man had
been rejected, and even Roger Carbury knew that it was so. After this
it was, she thought, impossible that she should recall him. But they
should all know that her heart was unchanged. Roger Carbury should
certainly know that, if he ever asked her further question on the
matter. She would never deny it; and though she knew that the man had
behaved badly,--having entangled himself with a nasty American woman,--
yet she would be true to him as far as her own heart was concerned.

And now he told her that she had been most unjust to him. He said that
he could not understand her injustice. He did not fill his letter with
entreaties, but with reproaches. And certainly his reproaches moved her
more than any prayer would have done. It was too late now to remedy
the evil; but she was not quite sure within her own bosom that she had
not been unjust to him. The more she thought of it the more puzzled
her mind became. Had she quarrelled with him because he had once been
in love with Mrs Hurtle, or because she had grounds for regarding Mrs
Hurtle as her present rival? She hated Mrs Hurtle, and she was very
angry with him in that he had ever been on affectionate terms with a
woman she hated;--but that had not been the reason put forward by her
for quarrelling with him. Perhaps it was true that he, too, had of
late loved Mrs Hurtle hardly better than she did herself. It might be
that he had been indeed constrained by hard circumstances to go with
the woman to Lowestoft. Having so gone with her, it was no doubt right
that he should be rejected;--for how can it be that a man who is
engaged shall be allowed to travel about the country with another woman
to whom also he was engaged a few months back? But still there might be
hardship in it. To her, to Hetta herself, the circumstances were very
hard. She loved the man with all her heart. She could look forward to
no happiness in life without him. But yet it must be so.

At the end of his letter he had told her to go to Mrs Hurtle herself
if she wanted corroboration of the story as told by him. Of course he
had known when he wrote it that she could not and would not go to Mrs
Hurtle. But when the letter had been in her possession three or four
days,--unanswered, for, as a matter of course, no answer to it from
herself was possible,--and had been read and re-read till she knew
every word of it by heart, she began to think that if she could hear
the story as it might be told by Mrs Hurtle, a good deal that was now
dark might become light to her. As she continued to read the letter,
and to brood over it all, by degrees her anger was turned from her
lover to her mother, her brother, and to her cousin Roger. Paul had of
course behaved badly, very badly,--but had it not been for them she
might have had an opportunity of forgiving him. They had driven her on
to the declaration of a purpose from which she could now see no escape.
There had been a plot against her, and she was a victim. In the first
dismay and agony occasioned by that awful story of the American
woman,--which had, at the moment, struck her with a horror which was now
becoming less and less every hour,--she had fallen head foremost into
the trap laid for her. She acknowledged to herself that it was too late
to recover her ground. She was, at any rate, almost sure that it must
be too late. But yet she was disposed to do battle with her mother and
her cousin in the matter--if only with the object of showing that she
would not submit her own feelings to their control. She was savage to
the point of rebellion against all authority. Roger Carbury would of
course think that any communication between herself and Mrs Hurtle
must be improper,--altogether indelicate. Two or three days ago she
thought so herself. But the world was going so hard with her, that she
was beginning to feel herself capable of throwing propriety and
delicacy to the winds. This man whom she had once accepted, whom she
altogether loved, and who, in spite of all his faults, certainly still
loved her,--of that she was beginning to have no further doubt,--accused
her of dishonesty, and referred her to her rival for a corroboration
of his story. She would appeal to Mrs Hurtle. The woman was odious,
abominable, a nasty intriguing American female. But her lover desired
that she should hear the woman's story; and she would hear the story,--
if the woman would tell it.

So resolving, she wrote as follows to Mrs Hurtle, finding great
difficulty in the composition of a letter which should tell neither
too little nor too much, and determined that she would be restrained
by no mock modesty, by no girlish fear of declaring the truth about
herself. The letter at last was stiff and hard, but it sufficed for
its purpose.


Mr Paul Montague has referred me to you as to certain
circumstances which have taken place between him and you. It is
right that I should tell you that I was a short time since
engaged to marry him, but that I have found myself obliged to
break off that engagement in consequence of what I have been
told as to his acquaintance with you. I make this proposition to
you, not thinking that anything you will say to me can change my
mind, but because he has asked me to do so, and has, at the same
time, accused me of injustice towards him. I do not wish to rest
under an accusation of injustice from one to whom I was once
warmly attached. If you will receive me, I will make it my
business to call any afternoon you may name.

Yours truly,


When the letter was written she was not only ashamed of it, but very
much afraid of it also. What if the American woman should put it in a
newspaper! She had heard that everything was put into newspapers in
America. What if this Mrs Hurtle should send back to her some horribly
insolent answer;--or should send such answer to her mother, instead of
herself! And then, again, if the American woman consented to receive
her, would not the American woman, as a matter of course, trample upon
her with rough words? Once or twice she put the letter aside, and
almost determined that it should not be sent;--but at last, with
desperate fortitude, she took it out with her and posted it herself.
She told no word of it to any one. Her mother, she thought, had been
cruel to her, had disregarded her feelings, and made her wretched for
ever. She could not ask her mother for sympathy in her present
distress. There was no friend who would sympathize with her. She must
do everything alone.

Mrs Hurtle, it will be remembered, had at last determined that she
would retire from the contest and own herself to have been worsted. It
is, I fear, impossible to describe adequately the various half
resolutions which she formed, and the changing phases of her mind
before she brought herself to this conclusion. And soon after she had
assured herself that this should be the conclusion,--after she had told
Paul Montague that it should be so,--there came back upon her at times
other half resolutions to a contrary effect. She had written a letter
to the man threatening desperate revenge, and had then abstained from
sending it, and had then shown it to the man,--not intending to give it
to him as a letter upon which he would have to act, but only that she
might ask him whether, had he received it, he would have said that he
had not deserved it. Then she had parted with him, refusing either to
hear or to say a word of farewell, and had told Mrs Pipkin that she
was no longer engaged to be married. At that moment everything was done
that could be done. The game had been played and the stakes lost,--
and she had schooled herself into such restraint as to have abandoned
all idea of vengeance. But from time to time there arose in her heart
a feeling that such softness was unworthy of her. Who had ever been
soft to her? Who had spared her? Had she not long since found out that
she must fight with her very nails and teeth for every inch of ground,
if she did not mean to be trodden into the dust? Had she not held her
own among rough people after a very rough fashion, and should she now
simply retire that she might weep in a corner like a love-sick
schoolgirl? And she had been so stoutly determined that she would at
any rate avenge her own wrongs, if she could not turn those wrongs
into triumph! There were moments in which she thought that she could
still seize the man by the throat, where all the world might see her,
and dare him to deny that he was false, perjured, and mean.

Then she received a long passionate letter from Paul Montague, written
at the same time as those other letters to Roger Carbury and Hetta, in
which he told her all the circumstances of his engagement to Hetta
Carbury, and implored her to substantiate the truth of his own story.
It was certainly marvellous to her that the man who had so long been
her own lover and who had parted with her after such a fashion should
write such a letter to her. But it had no tendency to increase either
her anger or her sorrow. Of course she had known that it was so, and
at certain times she had told herself that it was only natural,--had
almost told herself that it was right. She and this young Englishman
were not fit to be mated. He was to her thinking a tame, sleek
household animal, whereas she knew herself to be wild,--fitter for the
woods than for polished cities. It had been one of the faults of her
life that she had allowed herself to be bound by tenderness of feeling
to this soft over-civilised man. The result had been disastrous, as
might have been expected. She was angry with him,--almost to the extent
of tearing him to pieces,--but she did not become more angry because he
wrote to her of her rival.

Her only present friend was Mrs Pipkin, who treated her with the
greatest deference, but who was never tired of asking questions about
the lost lover. 'That letter was from Mr Montague?' said Mrs Pipkin on
the morning after it had been received.

'How can you know that?'

'I'm sure it was. One does get to know handwritings when letters come

'It was from him. And why not?'

'Oh dear no;--why not certainly? I wish he'd write every day of his
life, so that things would come round again. Nothing ever troubles me
so much as broken love. Why don't he come again himself, Mrs Hurtle?'

'It is not at all likely that he should come again. It is all over, and
there is no good in talking of it. I shall return to New York on
Saturday week.'

'Oh, Mrs Hurtle!'

'I can't remain here, you know, all my life doing nothing. I came over
here for a certain purpose and that has--gone by. Now I may just go
back again.'

'I know he has ill-treated you. I know he has.'

'I am not disposed to talk about it, Mrs Pipkin.'

'I should have thought it would have done you good to speak your mind
out free. I knew it would me if I'd been served in that way.'

'If I had anything to say at all after that fashion it would be to the
gentleman, and not to any other else. As it is I shall never speak of
it again to any one. You have been very kind to me, Mrs Pipkin, and I
shall be sorry to leave you.'

'Oh, Mrs Hurtle, you can't understand what it is to me. It isn't only
my feelings. The likes of me can't stand by their feelings only, as
their betters do. I've never been above telling you what a godsend
you've been to me this summer;--have I? I've paid everything, butcher,
baker, rates and all, just like clockwork. And now you're going away!'
Then Mrs Pipkin began to sob.

'I suppose I shall see Mr Crumb before I go,' said Mrs Hurtle.

'She don't deserve it; do she? And even now she never says a word
about him that I call respectful. She looks on him as just being
better than Mrs Buggins's children. That's all.'

'She'll be all right when he has once got her home.'

'And I shall be all alone by myself,' said Mrs Pipkin, with her apron
up to her eyes.

It was after this that Mrs Hurtle received Hetta's letter. She had as
yet returned no answer to Paul Montague,--nor had she intended to send
any written answer. Were she to comply with his request she could do
so best by writing to the girl who was concerned rather than to him.
And though she wrote no such letter she thought of it,--of the words
she would use were she to write it, and of the tale which she would
have to tell. She sat for hours thinking of it, trying to resolve
whether she would tell the tale,--if she told it at all,--in a manner
to suit Paul's purpose, or so as to bring that purpose utterly to
shipwreck. She did not doubt that she could cause the shipwreck were
she so minded. She could certainly have her revenge after that fashion.
But it was a woman's fashion, and, as such, did not recommend itself to
Mrs Hurdle's feelings. A pistol or a horsewhip, a violent seizing by
the neck, with sharp taunts and bitter-ringing words, would have made
the fitting revenge. If she abandoned that she could do herself no
good by telling a story of her wrongs to another woman.

Then came Hetta's note, so stiff, so cold, so true,--so like the letter
of an Englishwoman, as Mrs Hurtle said to herself. Mrs Hurtle smiled
as she read the letter. 'I make this proposition not thinking that
anything you can say to me can change my mind.' Of course the girl's
mind would be changed. The girl's mind, indeed, required no change.
Mrs Hurtle could see well enough that the girl's heart was set upon
the man. Nevertheless she did not doubt but that she could tell the
story after such a fashion as to make it impossible that the girl
should marry him,--if she chose to do so.

At first she thought that she would not answer the letter at all. What
was it to her? Let them fight their own lovers' battles out after
their own childish fashion. If the man meant at last to be honest,
there could be no doubt, Mrs Hurtle thought, that the girl would go to
him. It would require no interference of hers. But after a while she
thought that she might as well see this English chit who had
superseded herself in the affections of the Englishman she had
condescended to love. And if it were the case that all revenge was to
be abandoned, that no punishment was to be exacted in return for all
the injury that had been done, why should she not say a kind word so
as to smooth away the existing difficulties? Wild cat as she was,
kindness was more congenial to her nature than cruelty. So she wrote
to Hetta making an appointment.


If you could make it convenient to yourself to call here either
Thursday or Friday at any hour between two and four, I shall be very
happy to see you.

Yours sincerely,



During these days the intercourse between Lady Carbury and her
daughter was constrained and far from pleasant. Hetta, thinking that
she was ill-used, kept herself aloof, and would not speak to her
mother of herself or of her troubles. Lady Carbury watching her, but
not daring to say much, was at last almost frightened at her girl's
silence. She had assured herself, when she found that Hetta was
disposed to quarrel with her lover and to send him back his brooch,
that 'things would come round,' that Paul would be forgotten quickly,--
or laid aside as though he were forgotten,--and that Hetta would soon
perceive it to be her interest to marry her cousin. With such a
prospect before her, Lady Carbury thought it to be her duty as a
mother to show no tendency to sympathize with her girl's sorrow. Such
heart-breakings were occurring daily in the world around them. Who
were the happy people that were driven neither by ambition, nor
poverty, nor greed, nor the cross purposes of unhappy love, to stifle
and trample upon their feelings? She had known no one so blessed. She
had never been happy after that fashion. She herself had within the
last few weeks refused to join her lot with that of a man she really
liked, because her wicked son was so grievous a burden on her
shoulders. A woman, she thought, if she were unfortunate enough to be
a lady without wealth of her own, must give up everything, her body,
her heart,--her very soul if she were that way troubled,--to the
procuring of a fitting maintenance for herself. Why should Hetta hope
to be more fortunate than others? And then the position which chance
now offered to her was fortunate. This cousin of hers, who was so
devoted to her, was in all respects good. He would not torture her by
harsh restraint and cruel temper. He would not drink. He would not
spend his money foolishly. He would allow her all the belongings of a
fair, free life. Lady Carbury reiterated to herself the assertion that
she was manifestly doing a mother's duty by her endeavours to constrain
her girl to marry such a man. With a settled purpose she was severe and
hard. But when she found how harsh her daughter could be in response
to this,--how gloomy, how silent, and how severe in retaliation,--she
was almost frightened at what she herself was doing. She had not known
how stern and how enduring her daughter could be. 'Hetta,' she said,
'why don't you speak to me?' On this very day it was Hetta's purpose to
visit Mrs Hurtle at Islington. She had said no word of her intention
to any one. She had chosen the Friday because on that day she knew her
mother would go in the afternoon to her publisher. There should be no
deceit. Immediately on her return she would tell her mother what she
had done. But she considered herself to be emancipated from control.
Among them they had robbed her of her lover. She had submitted to the
robbery, but she would submit to nothing else. 'Hetta, why don't you
speak to me?' said Lady Carbury.

'Because, mamma, there is nothing we can talk about without making
each other unhappy.'

'What a dreadful thing to say! Is there no subject in the world to
interest you except that wretched young man?'

'None other at all,' said Hetta obstinately.

'What folly it is,--I will not say only to speak like that, but to
allow yourself to entertain such thoughts!'

'How am I to control my thoughts? Do you think, mamma, that after I
had owned to you that I loved a man,--after I had owned it to him and,
worst of all, to myself,--I could have myself separated from him, and
then not think about it? It is a cloud upon everything. It is as
though I had lost my eyesight and my speech. It is as it would be to
you if Felix were to die. It crushes me.'

There was an accusation in this allusion to her brother which the
mother felt,--as she was intended to feel it,--but to which she could
make no reply. It accused her of being too much concerned for her son
to feel any real affection for her daughter. 'You are ignorant of the
world, Hetta,' she said.

'I am having a lesson in it now, at any rate,'

'Do you think it is worse than others have suffered before you? In
what little you see around you do you think that girls are generally
able to marry the men upon whom they set their hearts?' She paused,
but Hetta made no answer to this. 'Marie Melmotte was as warmly
attached to your brother as you can be to Mr Montague.'

'Marie Melmotte!'

'She thinks as much of her feelings as you do of yours. The truth is
you are indulging a dream. You must wake from it, and shake yourself,
and find out that you, like others, have got to do the best you can for
yourself in order that you may live. The world at large has to eat dry
bread, and cannot get cakes and sweetmeats. A girl, when she thinks of
giving herself to a husband, has to remember this. If she has a
fortune of her own she can pick and choose, but if she have none she
must allow herself to be chosen.'

'Then a girl is to marry without stopping even to think whether she
likes the man or not?'

'She should teach herself to like the man, if the marriage be
suitable. I would not have you take a vicious man because he was rich,
or one known to be cruel and imperious. Your cousin Roger, you know--'

'Mamma,' said Hetta, getting up from her seat, 'you may as well believe
me. No earthly inducement shall ever make me marry my cousin Roger. It
is to me horrible that you should propose it to me when you know that
I love that other man with my whole heart.'

'How can you speak so of one who has treated you with the utmost

'I know nothing of any contumely. What reasons have I to be offended
because he has liked a woman whom he knew before he ever saw me? It
has been unfortunate, wretched, miserable; but I do not know that I
have any right whatever to be angry with Mr Paul Montague.' Having so
spoken she walked out of the room without waiting for a further reply.

It was all very sad to Lady Carbury. She perceived now that she had
driven her daughter to pronounce an absolution of Paul Montague's
sins, and that in this way she had lessened and loosened the barrier
which she had striven to construct between them. But that which pained
her most was the unrealistic, romantic view of life which pervaded all
Hetta's thoughts. How was any girl to live in this world who could not
be taught the folly of such idle dreams?

That afternoon Hetta trusted herself all alone to the mysteries of the
Marylebone underground railway, and emerged with accuracy at King's
Cross. She had studied her geography, and she walked from thence to
Islington. She knew well the name of the street and the number at
which Mrs Hurtle lived. But when she reached the door she did not at
first dare to stand and raise the knocker. She passed on to the end of
the silent, vacant street, endeavouring to collect her thoughts,
striving to find and to arrange the words with which she would
commence her strange petition. And she endeavoured to dictate to
herself some defined conduct should the woman be insolent to her.
Personally she was not a coward, but she doubted her power of replying
to a rough speech. She could at any rate escape. Should the worst come
to the worst, the woman would hardly venture to impede her departure.
Having gone to the end of the street, she returned with a very quick
step and knocked at the door. It was opened almost immediately by Ruby
Ruggles, to whom she gave her name.

'Oh laws,--Miss Carbury!' said Ruby, looking up into the stranger's
face. Yes,--sure enough she must be Felix's sister. But Ruby did not
dare to ask any question. She had admitted to all around her that Sir
Felix should not be her lover any more, and that John Crumb should be
allowed to return. But, nevertheless, her heart twittered as she
showed Miss Carbury up to the lodger's sitting-room.

Though it was midsummer Hetta entered the room with her veil down. She
adjusted it as she followed Ruby up the stairs, moved by a sudden fear
of her rival's scrutiny. Mrs Hurtle rose from her chair and came
forward to greet her visitor, putting out both her hands to do so. She
was dressed with the most scrupulous care,--simply, and in black,
without an ornament of any kind, without a ribbon or a chain or a
flower. But with some woman's purpose at her heart she had so attired
herself as to look her very best. Was it that she thought that she
would vindicate to her rival their joint lover's first choice, or that
she was minded to teach the English girl that an American woman might
have graces of her own? As she came forward she was gentle and soft in
her movements, and a pleasant smile played round her mouth. Hetta, at
the first moment, was almost dumbfounded by her beauty,--by that and by
her ease and exquisite self-possession. 'Miss Carbury,' she said with
that low, rich voice which in old days had charmed Paul almost as much
as her loveliness, 'I need not tell you how interested I am in seeing
you. May I not ask you to lay aside your veil, so that we may look at
each other fairly?' Hetta, dumbfounded, not knowing how to speak a
word, stood gazing at the woman when she had removed her veil. She had
had no personal description of Mrs Hurtle, but had expected something
very different from this! She had thought that the woman would be
coarse and big, with fine eyes and a bright colour. As it was they
were both of the same complexion, both dark, with hair nearly black,
with eyes of the same colour. Hetta thought of all that at the
moment,--but acknowledged to herself that she had no pretension to
beauty such as that which this woman owned. 'And so you have come to
see me,' said Mrs Hurtle. 'Sit down so that I may look at you. I am
glad that you have come to see me, Miss Carbury.'

'I am glad at any rate that you are not angry.'

'Why should I be angry? Had the idea been distasteful to me I should
have declined. I know not why, but it is a sort of pleasure to me to
see you. It is a poor time we women have,--is it not,--in becoming
playthings to men? So this Lothario that was once mine, is behaving
badly to you also. Is it so? He is no longer mine, and you may ask me
freely for aid, if there be any that I can give you. If he were an
American I should say that he had behaved badly to me;--but as he is an
Englishman perhaps it is different. Now tell me;--what can I do, or
what can I say?'

'He told me that you could tell me the truth.'

'What truth? I will certainly tell you nothing that is not true. You
have quarrelled with him too. It is not so?'

'Certainly I have quarrelled with him.'

'I am not curious;--but perhaps you had better tell me of that. I know
him so well that I can guess that he should give offence. He can be
full of youthful ardour one day, and cautious as old age itself the
next. But I do not suppose that there has been need for such caution
with you. What is it, Miss Carbury?'

Hetta found the telling of her story to be very difficult.

'Mrs Hurtle,' she said, 'I had never heard your name when he first
asked me to be his wife.'

'I dare say not. Why should he have told you anything of me?'

'Because,--oh, because--. Surely he ought, if it is true that he had
once promised to marry you.'

'That is certainly true.'

'And you were here, and I knew nothing of it. Of course I should have
been very different to him had I known that,--that,--that--'

'That there was such a woman as Winifred Hurtle interfering with him.
Then you heard it by chance, and you were offended. Was it not so?'

'And now he tells me that I have been unjust to him and he bids me ask
you. I have not been unjust.'

'I am not so sure of that. Shall I tell you what I think? I think that
he has been unjust to me, and that therefore your injustice to him is
no more than his due. I cannot plead for him, Miss Carbury. To me he
has been the last and worst of a long series of, I think, undeserved
misfortune. But whether you will avenge my wrongs must be for you to

'Why did he go with you to Lowestoft?'

'Because I asked him,--and because, like many men, he cannot be
ill-natured although he can be cruel. He would have given a hand not
to have gone, but he could not say me nay. As you have come here, Miss
Carbury, you may as well know the truth. He did love me, but he had
been talked out of his love by my enemies and his own friends long
before he had ever seen you. I am almost ashamed to tell you my own
part of the story, and yet I know not why I should be ashamed. I
followed him here to England--because I loved him. I came after him,
as perhaps a woman should not do, because I was true of heart. He had
told me that he did not want me;--but I wanted to be wanted, and I
hoped that I might lure him back to his troth. I have utterly failed,
and I must return to my own country,--I will not say a broken-hearted
woman, for I will not admit of such a condition,--but a creature with
a broken spirit. He has misused me foully, and I have simply forgiven
him; not because I am a Christian, but because I am not strong enough
to punish one that I still love. I could not put a dagger into him,--or
I would; or a bullet,--or I would. He has reduced me to a nothing by
his falseness, and yet I cannot injure him! I, who have sworn to myself
that no man should ever lay a finger on me in scorn without feeling my
wrath in return, I cannot punish him. But if you choose to do so it is
not for me to set you against such an act of justice.' Then she paused
and looked up to Hetta as though expecting a reply.

But Hetta had no reply to make. All had been said that she had come to
hear. Every word that the woman had spoken had in truth been a comfort
to her. She had told herself that her visit was to be made in order
that she might be justified in her condemnation of her lover. She had
believed that it was her intention to arm herself with proof that she
had done right in rejecting him. Now she was told that however false
her lover might have been to this other woman he had been absolutely
true to her. The woman had not spoken kindly of Paul,--had seemed to
intend to speak of him with the utmost severity; but she had so spoken
as to acquit him of all sin against Hetta. What was it to Hetta that her
lover had been false to this American stranger? It did not seem to her
to be at all necessary that she should be angry with her lover on that
bead. Mrs Hurtle had told her that she herself must decide whether she
would take upon herself to avenge her rival's wrongs. In saying that,
Mrs Hurtle had taught her to feel that there were no other wrongs
which she need avenge. It was all done now. If she could only thank
the woman for the pleasantness of her demeanour, and then go, she
could, when alone, make up her mind as to what she would do next. She
had not yet told herself she would submit herself again to Paul
Montague. She had only told herself that, within her own breast, she
was bound to forgive him. 'You have been very kind,' she said at
last,--speaking only because it was necessary that she should say

'It is well that there should be some kindness where there has been so
much that is unkind. Forgive me, Miss Carbury, if I speak plainly to
you. Of course you will go back to him. Of course you will be his
wife. You have told me that you love him dearly, as plainly as I have
told you the same story of myself. Your coming here would of itself
have declared it, even if I did not see your satisfaction at my
account of his treachery to me.'

'Oh, Mrs Hurtle, do not say that of me!'

'But it is true, and I do not in the least quarrel with you on that
account. He has preferred you to me, and as far as I am concerned
there is an end of it. You are a girl, whereas I am a woman,--and he
likes your youth. I have undergone the cruel roughness of the world,
which has not as yet touched you; and therefore you are softer to the
touch. I do not know that you are very superior in other attractions;
but that has sufficed, and you are the victor. I am strong enough to
acknowledge that I have nothing to forgive in you;--and am weak enough
to forgive all his treachery.' Hetta was now holding the woman by the
hand, and was weeping, she knew not why. 'I am so glad to have seen
you,' continued Mrs Hurtle, 'so that I may know what his wife was like.
In a few days I shall return to the States, and then neither of you
will ever be troubled further by Winifred Hurtle. Tell him that if he
will come and see me once before I go, I will not be more unkind to
him than I can help.'

When Hetta did not decline to be the bearer of this message she must
have at any rate resolved that she would see Paul Montague again,--and
to see him would be to tell him that she was again his own. She now
got herself quickly out of the room, absolutely kissing the woman whom
she had both dreaded and despised. As soon as she was alone in the
street she tried to think of it all. How full of beauty was the face
of that American female,--how rich and glorious her voice in spite of a
slight taint of the well-known nasal twang;--and above all how powerful
and at the same time how easy and how gracious was her manner! That
she would be an unfit wife for Paul Montague was certain to Hetta, but
that he or any man should have loved her and have been loved by her,
and then have been willing to part from her, was wonderful. And yet
Paul Montague had preferred herself, Hetta Carbury, to this woman! Paul
had certainly done well for his own cause when he had referred the
younger lady to the elder.

Of her own quarrel of course there must be an end. She had been unjust
to the man, and injustice must of course be remedied by repentance and
confession. As she walked quickly back to the railway station she
brought herself to love her lover more fondly than she had ever done.
He had been true to her from the first hour of their acquaintance.
What truth higher than that has any woman a right to desire? No doubt
she gave to him a virgin heart. No other man had ever touched her
lips, or been allowed to press her hand, or to look into her eyes with
unrebuked admiration. It was her pride to give herself to the man she
loved after this fashion, pure and white as snow on which no foot has
trodden. But, in taking him, all that she wanted was that he should be
true to her now and henceforward. The future must be her own work. As
to the 'now,' she felt that Mrs Hurtle had given her sufficient

She must at once let her mother know this change in her mind. When she
re-entered the house she was no longer sullen, no longer anxious to be
silent, very willing to be gracious if she might be received with
favour,--but quite determined that nothing should shake her purpose.
She went at once into her mother's room, having heard from the boy at
the door that Lady Carbury had returned.

'Hetta, wherever have you been?' asked Lady Carbury.

'Mamma,' she said, 'I mean to write to Mr Montague and tell him that I
have been unjust to him.'

'Hetta, you must do nothing of the kind,' said Lady Carbury, rising
from her seat.

'Yes, mamma. I have been unjust, and I must do so.'

'It will be asking him to come back to you.'

'Yes, mamma:--that is what I mean. I shall tell him that if he will
come, I will receive him. I know he will come. Oh, mamma, let us be
friends, and I will tell you everything. Why should you grudge me my

'You have sent him back his brooch,' said Lady Carbury hoarsely.

'He shall give it me again. Hear what I have done. I have seen that
American lady.'

'Mrs Hurtle!'

'Yes;--I have been to her. She is a wonderful woman.'

'And she has told you wonderful lies.'

'Why should she lie to me? She has told me no lies. She said nothing
in his favour.'

'I can well believe that. What can any one say in his favour?'

'But she told me that which has assured me that Mr Montague has never
behaved badly to me. I shall write to him at once. If you like I will
show you the letter.'

'Any letter to him, I will tear,' said Lady Carbury, full of anger.

'Mamma, I have told you everything, but in this I must judge for
myself.' Then Hetta, seeing that her mother would not relent, left the
room without further speech, and immediately opened her desk that the
letter might be written.


Ten days had passed since the meeting narrated in the last chapter,--
ten days, during which Hetta's letter had been sent to her lover, but
in which she had received no reply,--when two gentlemen met each other
in a certain room in Liverpool, who were seen together in the same room
in the early part of this chronicle. These were our young friend Paul
Montague, and our not much older friend Hamilton K. Fisker. Melmotte
had died on the 18th of July, and tidings of the event had been at
once sent by telegraph to San Francisco. Some weeks before this
Montague had written to his partner, giving his account of the South
Central Pacific and Mexican Railway Company,--describing its condition
in England as he then believed it to be,--and urging Fisker to come
over to London. On receipt of a message from his American correspondent
he had gone down to Liverpool, and had there awaited Fisker's arrival,
taking counsel with his friend Mr Ramsbottom. In the meantime Hetta's
letter was lying at the Beargarden, Paul having written from his club
and having omitted to desire that the answer should be sent to his
lodgings. Just at this moment things at the Beargarden were not well
managed. They were indeed so ill managed that Paul never received that
letter,--which would have had for him charms greater than those of any
letter ever before written.

'This is a terrible business,' said Fisker, immediately on entering
the room in which Montague was waiting him. 'He was the last man I'd
have thought would be cut up in that way.'

'He was utterly ruined.'

'He wouldn't have been ruined,--and couldn't have thought so if he'd
known all be ought to have known. The South Central would have pulled
him through almost anything if he'd have understood how to play it.'

'We don't think much of the South Central here now,' said Paul.

'Ah;--that's because you've never above half spirit enough for a big
thing. You nibble at it instead of swallowing it whole,--and then, of
course, folks see that you're only nibbling. I thought that Melmotte
would have had spirit.'

'There is, I fear, no doubt that he had committed forgery. It was the
dread of detection as to that which drove him to destroy himself.'

'I call it dam clumsy from beginning to end;--dam clumsy. I took him
to be a different man, and I feel more than half ashamed of myself
because I trusted such a fellow. That chap Cohenlupe has got off with
a lot of swag. Only think of Melmotte allowing Cohenlupe to get the
better of him!'

'I suppose the thing will be broken up now at San Francisco,'
suggested Paul.

'Bu'st up at Frisco! Not if I know it. Why should it be bu'st up?
D'you think we're all going to smash there because a fool like
Melmotte blows his brains out in London?'

'He took poison.'

'Or p'ison either. That's not just our way. I'll tell you what I'm
going to do; and why I'm over here so uncommon sharp. These shares are
at a'most nothing now in London. I'll buy every share in the market. I
wired for as many as I dar'd, so as not to spoil our own game, and
I'll make a clean sweep of every one of them. Bu'st up! I'm sorry for
him because I thought him a biggish man;--but what he's done'll just be
the making of us over there. Will you get out of it, or will you come
back to Frisco with me?'

In answer to this Paul asserted most strenuously that he would not
return to San Francisco, and, perhaps too ingenuously, gave his
partner to understand that he was altogether sick of the great
railway, and would under no circumstances have anything more to do
with it. Fisker shrugged his shoulders, and was not displeased at the
proposed rupture. He was prepared to deal fairly,--nay, generously,--by
his partner, having recognized the wisdom of that great commercial
rule which teaches us that honour should prevail among associates of a
certain class; but he had fully convinced himself that Paul Montague
was not a fit partner for Hamilton K. Fisker. Fisker was not only
unscrupulous himself, but he had a thorough contempt for scruples in
others. According to his theory of life, nine hundred and ninety-nine
men were obscure because of their scruples, whilst the thousandth man
predominated and cropped up into the splendour of commercial wealth
because he was free from such bondage. He had his own theories, too,
as to commercial honesty. That which he had promised to do he would
do, if it was within his power. He was anxious that his bond should be
good, and his word equally so. But the work of robbing mankind in
gross by magnificently false representations, was not only the duty,
but also the delight and the ambition of his life. How could a man so
great endure a partnership with one so small as Paul Montague? 'And
now what about Winifred Hurtle?' asked Fisker.

'What makes you ask? She's in London.'

'Oh yes, I know she's in London, and Hurdle's at Frisco, swearing that
he'll come after her. He would, only he hasn't got the dollars.'

'He's not dead then?' muttered Paul.

'Dead!--no, nor likely to die. She'll have a bad time of it with him

'But she divorced him.'

'She got a Kansas lawyer to say so, and he's got a Frisco lawyer to
say that there's nothing of the kind. She hasn't played her game badly
neither, for she's had the handling of her own money, and has put it
so that he can't get hold of a dollar. Even if it suited other ways,
you know, I wouldn't marry her myself till I saw my way clearer out of
the wood.'

'I'm not thinking of marrying her,--if you mean that.'

'There was a talk about it in Frisco;--that's all. And I have heard
Hurtle say when he was a little farther gone than usual that she was
here with you, and that he meant to drop in on you some of these
days.' To this Paul made no answer, thinking that he had now both
heard enough and said enough about Mrs Hurtle.

On the following day the two men, who were still partners, went
together to London, and Fisker immediately became immersed in the
arrangement of Melmotte's affairs. He put himself into communication
with Mr Brehgert, went in and out of the offices in Abchurch Lane and
the rooms which had belonged to the Railway Company, cross-examined
Croll, mastered the books of the Company as far as they were to be
mastered, and actually summoned both the Grendalls, father and son, up
to London. Lord Alfred, and Miles with him, had left London a day or
two before Melmotte's death,--having probably perceived that there was
no further occasion for their services. To Fisker's appeal Lord Alfred
was proudly indifferent. Who was this American that he should call
upon a director of the London Company to appear? Does not every one
know that a director of a company need not direct unless he pleases?
Lord Alfred, therefore, did not even condescend to answer Fisker's
letter;--but he advised his son to run up to town. 'I should just go,
because I'd taken a salary from the d---- Company,' said the careful
father, 'but when there I wouldn't say a word.' So Miles Grendall,
obeying his parent, reappeared upon the scene.

But Fisker's attention was perhaps most usefully and most sedulously
paid to Madame Melmotte and her daughter. Till Fisker arrived no one
had visited them in their solitude at Hampstead, except Croll, the
clerk. Mr Brehgert had abstained, thinking that a widow, who had
become a widow under such terrible circumstances, would prefer to be
alone. Lord Nidderdale had made his adieux, and felt that he could do
no more. It need hardly be said that Lord Alfred had too much good
taste to interfere at such a time, although for some months he had
been domestically intimate with the poor woman, or that Sir Felix
would not be prompted by the father's death to renew his suit to the
daughter. But Fisker had not been two days in London before he went
out to Hampstead, and was admitted to Madame Melmotte's presence,--and
he had not been there four days before he was aware that in spite of
all misfortunes, Marie Melmotte was still the undoubted possessor of a
large fortune.

In regard to Melmotte's effects generally the Crown had been induced
to abstain from interfering,--giving up the right to all the man's
plate and chairs and tables which it had acquired by the finding of the
coroner's verdict,--not from tenderness to Madame Melmotte, for whom no
great commiseration was felt, but on behalf of such creditors as poor
Mr Longestaffe and his son. But Marie's money was quite distinct from
this. She had been right in her own belief as to this property, and
had been right, too, in refusing to sign those papers,--unless it may
be that that refusal led to her father's act. She herself was sure that
it was not so, because she had withdrawn her refusal, and had offered
to sign the papers before her father's death. What might have been the
ultimate result had she done so when he first made the request, no one
could now say. That the money would have gone there could be no doubt.
The money was now hers,--a fact which Fisker soon learned with that
peculiar cleverness which belonged to him.

Poor Madame Melmotte felt the visits of the American to be a relief to
her in her misery. The world makes great mistakes as to that which is
and is not beneficial to those whom Death has bereaved of a companion.
It may be, no doubt sometimes it is the case, that grief shall be so
heavy, so absolutely crushing, as to make any interference with it an
additional trouble, and this is felt also in acute bodily pain, and in
periods of terrible mental suffering. It may also be, and, no doubt,
often is the case, that the bereaved one chooses to affect such
overbearing sorrow, and that friends abstain, because even such
affectation has its own rights and privileges. But Madame Melmotte was
neither crushed by grief nor did she affect to be so crushed. She had
been numbed by the suddenness and by the awe of the catastrophe. The
man who had been her merciless tyrant for years, who had seemed to
her to be a very incarnation of cruel power, had succumbed, and shown
himself to be powerless against his own misfortunes. She was a woman
of very few words, and had spoken almost none on this occasion even
to her own daughter; but when Fisker came to her, and told her more
than she had ever known before of her husband's affairs, and spoke
to her of her future life, and mixed for her a small glass of
brandy-and-water warm, and told her that Frisco would be the fittest
place for her future residence, she certainly did not find him to be

And even Marie liked Fisker, though she had been wooed and almost won
both by a lord and a baronet, and had understood, if not much, at
least more than her mother, of the life to which she had been
introduced. There was something of real sorrow in her heart for her
father. She was prone to love,--though, perhaps, not prone to deep
affection. Melmotte had certainly been often cruel to her, but he had
also been very indulgent. And as she had never been specially grateful
for the one, so neither had she ever specially resented the other.
Tenderness, care, real solicitude for her well-being, she had never
known, and had come to regard the unevenness of her life, vacillating
between knocks and knick-knacks, with a blow one day and a jewel the
next, as the condition of things which was natural to her. When her
father was dead she remembered for a while the jewels and the
knickknacks, and forgot the knocks and blows. But she was not beyond
consolation, and she also found consolation in Mr Fisker's visits.

'I used to sign a paper every quarter,' she said to Fisker, as they
were walking together one evening in the lanes round Hampstead.

'You'll have to do the same now, only instead of giving the paper to
any one you'll have to leave it in a banker's hands to draw the money
for yourself.'

'And can that be done over in California?'

'Just the same as here. Your bankers will manage it all for you
without the slightest trouble. For the matter of that I'll do it, if
you'll trust me. There's only one thing against it all, Miss

'And what's that?'

'After the sort of society you've been used to here, I don't know how
you'll get on among us Americans. We're a pretty rough lot, I guess.
Though, perhaps, what you lose in the look of the fruit, you'll make
up in the flavour.' This Fisker said in a somewhat plaintive tone, as
though fearing that the manifest substantial advantages of Frisco
would not suffice to atone for the loss of that fashion to which Miss
Melmotte had been used.

'I hate swells,' said Marie, flashing round upon him.

'Do you now?'

'Like poison. What's the use of 'em? They never mean a word that they
say,--and they don't say so many words either. They're never more than
half awake, and don't care the least about anybody. I hate London.'

'Do you now?'

'Oh, don't I?'

'I wonder whether you'd hate Frisco?'

'I rather think it would be a jolly sort of place.'

'Very jolly I find it. And I wonder whether you'd hate--me?'

'Mr Fisker, that's nonsense. Why should I hate anybody?'

'But you do. I've found out one or two that you don't love. If you do
come to Frisco, I hope you won't just hate me, you know.' Then he took
her gently by the arm;--but she, whisking herself away rapidly, bade
him behave himself. Then they returned to their lodgings, and Mr
Fisker, before he went back to London, mixed a little warm
brandy-and-water for Madame Melmotte. I think that upon the whole
Madame Melmotte was more comfortable at Hampstead than she had been
either in Grosvenor Square or Bruton Street, although she was certainly
not a thing beautiful to look at in her widow's weeds.

'I don't think much of you as a book-keeper, you know,' Fisker said to
Miles Grendall in the now almost deserted Board-room of the South
Central Pacific and Mexican Railway. Miles, remembering his father's
advice, answered not a word, but merely looked with assumed amazement
at the impertinent stranger who dared thus to censure his
performances. Fisker had made three or four remarks previous to this,
and had appealed both to Paul Montague and to Croll, who were present.
He had invited also the attendance of Sir Felix Carbury, Lord
Nidderdale, and Mr Longestaffe, who were all Directors;--but none of
them had come. Sir Felix had paid no attention to Fisker's letter.
Lord Nidderdale had written a short but characteristic reply. 'Dear Mr
Fisker,--I really don't know anything about it. Yours, Nidderdale.' Mr
Longestaffe, with laborious zeal, had closely covered four pages with
his reasons for non-attendance, with which the reader shall not be
troubled, and which it may be doubted whether even Fisker perused to
the end. 'Upon my word,' continued Fisker, 'it's astonishing to me
that Melmotte should have put up with this kind of thing. I suppose
you understand something of business, Mr Croll?'

'It vas not my department, Mr Fisker,' said the German.

'Nor anybody else's either,' said the domineering American. 'Of course
it's on the cards, Mr Grendall, that we shall have to put you into a
witness-box, because there are certain things we must get at.' Miles
was silent as the grave, but at once made up his mind that he would
pass his autumn at some pleasant but economical German retreat, and
that his autumnal retirement should be commenced within a very few
days;--or perhaps hours might suffice.

But Fisker was not in earnest in his threat. In truth the greater the
confusion in the London office, the better, he thought, were the
prospects of the Company at San Francisco. Miles underwent purgatory
on this occasion for three or four hours, and when dismissed had
certainly revealed none of Melmotte's secrets. He did, however, go to
Germany, finding that a temporary absence from England would be
comfortable to him in more respects than one,--and need not be heard
of again in these pages.

When Melmotte's affairs were ultimately wound up there was found to be
nearly enough of property to satisfy all his proved liabilities. Very
many men started up with huge claims, asserting that they had been
robbed, and in the confusion it was hard to ascertain who had been
robbed, or who had simply been unsuccessful in their attempts to rob
others. Some, no doubt, as was the case with poor Mr Brehgert, had
speculated in dependence on Melmotte's sagacity, and had lost heavily
without dishonesty. But of those who, like the Longestaffes, were able
to prove direct debts, the condition at last was not very sad. Our
excellent friend Dolly got his money early in the day, and was able,
under Mr Squercum's guidance, to start himself on a new career. Having
paid his debts, and with still a large balance at his bankers, he
assured his friend Nidderdale that he meant to turn over an entirely
new leaf. 'I shall just make Squercum allow me so much a month, and I
shall have all the bills and that kind of thing sent to him, and he
will do everything, and pull me up if I'm getting wrong. I like

'Won't he rob you, old fellow?' suggested Nidderdale,

'Of course he will;--but be won't let any one else do it. One has to
be plucked, but it's everything to have it done on a system. If he'll
only let me have ten shillings out of every sovereign I think I can
get along.' Let us hope that Mr Squercum was merciful, and that Dolly
was enabled to live in accordance with his virtuous resolutions,

But these things did not arrange themselves till late in the winter,--
long after Mr Fisker's departure for California. That, however, was
protracted till a day much later than he anticipated before he had
become intimate with Madame Melmotte and Marie. Madame Melmotte's
affairs occupied him for a while almost exclusively. The furniture and
plate were of course sold for the creditors, but Madame Melmotte was
allowed to take whatever she declared to be specially her own
property;--and, though much was said about the jewels, no attempt was
made to recover them. Marie advised Madame Melmotte to give them up,
assuring the old woman that she should have whatever she wanted for
her maintenance. But it was not likely that Melmotte's widow would
willingly abandon any property, and she did not abandon her jewels. It
was agreed between her and Fisker that they were to be taken to New
York. 'You'll get as much there as in London, if you like to part with
them; and nobody'll say anything about it there. You couldn't sell a
locket or chain here without all the world talking about it.'

In all these things Madame Melmotte put herself into Fisker's hands
with the most absolute confidence,--and, indeed, with a confidence that
was justified by its results. It was not by robbing an old woman that
Fisker intended to make himself great. To Madame Melmotte's thinking,
Fisker was the finest gentleman she had ever met,--so infinitely
pleasanter in his manner than Lord Alfred even when Lord Alfred had
been most gracious, with so much more to say for himself than Miles
Grendall, understanding her so much better than any man had ever
done,--especially when he supplied her with those small warm beakers of
sweet brandy-and-water. 'I shall do whatever he tells me,' she said to
Marie. 'I'm sure I've nothing to keep me here in this country.'

'I'm willing to go,' said Marie. 'I don't want to stay in London.'

'I suppose you'll take him if he asks you?'

'I don't know anything about that,' said Marie. 'A man may be very
well without one's wanting to marry him. I don't think I'll marry
anybody. What's the use? It's only money. Nobody cares for anything
else. Fisker's all very well; but he only wants the money. Do you
think Fisker'd ask me to marry him if I hadn't got anything? Not he!
He ain't slow enough for that.'

'I think he's a very nice young man,' said Madame Melmotte.


Hetta Carbury, out of the fullness of her heart, having made up her
mind that she had been unjust to her lover, wrote to him a letter full
of penitence, full of love, telling him at great length all the
details of her meeting with Mrs Hurtle, and bidding him come back to
her, and bring the brooch with him. But this letter she had
unfortunately addressed to the Beargarden, as he had written to her
from that club; and partly through his own fault, and partly through
the demoralization of that once perfect establishment, the letter
never reached his hands. When, therefore, he returned to London he was
justified in supposing that she had refused even to notice his appeal.
He was, however, determined that he would still make further
struggles. He had, he felt, to contend with many difficulties. Mrs
Hurtle, Roger Carbury, and Hetta's mother were, he thought, all
inimical to him. Mrs Hurtle, though she had declared that she would
not rage as a lioness, could hardly be his friend in the matter. Roger
had repeatedly declared his determination to regard him as a traitor.
And Lady Carbury, as he well knew, had always been and always would be
opposed to the match. But Hetta had owned that she loved him, had
submitted to his caresses, and had been proud of his admiration. And
Paul, though he did not probably analyse very carefully the character
of his beloved, still felt instinctively that, having so far prevailed
with such a girl, his prospects could not be altogether hopeless. And
yet how should he continue the struggle? With what weapons should he
carry on the fight? The writing of letters is but a one-sided,
troublesome proceeding, when the person to whom they are written will
not answer them; and the calling at a door at which the servant has
been instructed to refuse a visitor admission, becomes disagreeable,--
if not degrading,--after a time.

But Hetta had written a second epistle,--not to her lover, but to one
who received his letters with more regularity. When she rashly and
with precipitate wrath quarrelled with Paul Montague, she at once
communicated the fact to her mother, and through her mother to her
cousin Roger. Though she would not recognize Roger as a lover, she did
acknowledge him to be the head of her family, and her own special
friend, and entitled in some special way to know all that she herself
did, and all that was done in regard to her. She therefore wrote to
her cousin, telling him that she had made a mistake about Paul, that
she was convinced that Paul had always behaved to her with absolute
sincerity, and, in short, that Paul was the best, and dearest, and
most ill-used of human beings. In her enthusiasm she went on to
declare that there could be no other chance of happiness for her in
this world than that of becoming Paul's wife, and to beseech her
dearest friend and cousin Roger not to turn against her, but to lend
her an aiding hand. There are those whom strong words in letters never
affect at all,--who, perhaps, hardly read them, and take what they do
read as meaning no more than half what is said. But Roger Carbury was
certainly not one of these. As he sat on the garden wall at Carbury,
with his cousin's letter in his hand, her words had their full weight
with him. He did not try to convince himself that all this was the
verbiage of an enthusiastic girl, who might soon be turned and trained
to another mode of thinking by fitting admonitions. To him now, as
he read and re-read Hetta's letter sitting on the wall, there was not
at any rate further hope for himself. Though he was altogether
unchanged himself, though he was altogether incapable of change,--
though he could not rally himself sufficiently to look forward to even
a passive enjoyment of life without the girl whom he had loved,--yet
he told himself what he believed to be the truth. At last he owned
directly and plainly that, whether happy or unhappy, he must do
without her. He had let time slip by with him too fast and too far
before he had ventured to love. He must now stomach his
disappointment, and make the best he could of such a broken,
ill-conditioned life as was left to him. But, if he acknowledged
this,--and he did acknowledge it,--in what fashion should he in future
treat the man and woman who had reduced him so low?

At this moment his mind was tuned to high thoughts. If it were
possible he would be unselfish. He could not, indeed, bring himself to
think with kindness of Paul Montague. He could not say to himself that
the man had not been treacherous to him, nor could he forgive the
man's supposed treason. But he did tell himself very plainly that in
comparison with Hetta the man was nothing to him. It could hardly be
worth his while to maintain a quarrel with the man if he were once
able to assure Hetta that she, as the wife of another man, should
still be dear to him as a friend might be dear. He was well aware that
such assurance, such forgiveness, must contain very much. If it were
to be so, Hetta's child must take the name of Carbury, and must be to
him as his heir,--as near as possible his own child. In her favour he
must throw aside that law of primogeniture which to him was so sacred
that he had been hitherto minded to make Sir Felix his heir in spite
of the absolute unfitness of the wretched young man. All this must be
changed, should he be able to persuade himself to give his consent to
the marriage. In such case Carbury must be the home of the married
couple, as far as he could induce them to make it so. There must be
born the future infant to whose existence he was already looking
forward with some idea that in his old age he might there find
comfort. In such case, though he should never again be able to love
Paul Montague in his heart of hearts, he must live with him for her
sake on affectionate terms. He must forgive Hetta altogether,--as
though there had been no fault; and he must strive to forgive the
man's fault as best he might. Struggling as he was to be generous,
passionately fond as he was of justice, yet he did not know how to be
just himself. He could not see that he in truth had been to no extent
ill-used. And ever and again, as he thought of the great prayer as to
the forgiveness of trespasses, he could not refrain from asking himself
whether it could really be intended that he should forgive such
trespass as that committed against him by Paul Montague! Nevertheless,
when he rose from the wall he had resolved that Hetta should be
pardoned entirely, and that Paul Montague should be treated as though
he were pardoned. As for himself,--the chances of the world had been
unkind to him, and he would submit to them!

Nevertheless he wrote no answer to Hetta's letter. Perhaps he felt,
with some undefined but still existing hope, that the writing of such
a letter would deprive him of his last chance. Hetta's letter to
himself hardly required an immediate answer,--did not, indeed, demand
any answer. She had simply told him that, whereas she had for certain
reasons quarrelled with the man she had loved, she had now come to the
conclusion that she would quarrel with him no longer. She had asked
for her cousin's assent to her own views, but that, as Roger felt, was
to be given rather by the discontinuance of opposition than by any
positive action, Roger's influence with her mother was the assistance
which Hetta really wanted from him, and that influence could hardly be
given by the writing of any letter. Thinking of all this, Roger
determined that he would again go up to London. He would have the
vacant hours of the journey in which to think of it all again, and
tell himself whether it was possible for him to bring his heart to
agree to the marriage;--and then he would see the people, and perhaps
learn something further from their manner and their words, before he
finally committed himself to the abandonment of his own hopes and the
completion of theirs.

He went up to town, and I do not know that those vacant hours served
him much. To a man not accustomed to thinking there is nothing in the
world so difficult as to think. After some loose fashion we turn over
things in our mind and ultimately reach some decision, guided probably
by our feelings at the last moment rather than by any process of
ratiocination;--and then we think that we have thought. But to follow
out one argument to an end, and then to found on the base so reached
the commencement of another, is not common to us. Such a process was
hardly within the compass of Roger's mind,--who when he was made
wretched by the dust, and by a female who had a basket of
objectionable provisions opposite to him, almost forswore his
charitable resolutions of the day before; but who again, as he walked
lonely at night round the square which was near to his hotel, looking
up at the bright moon with a full appreciation of the beauty of the
heavens, asked himself what was he that he should wish to interfere
with the happiness of two human beings much younger than himself and
much fitter to enjoy the world. But he had had a bath, and had got rid
of the dust, and had eaten his dinner.

The next morning he was in Welbeck Street at an early hour. When he
knocked he had not made up his mind whether he would ask for Lady
Carbury or her daughter, and did at last inquire whether 'the ladies'
were at home. The ladies were reported as being at home, and he was at
once shown into the drawing-room, where Hetta was sitting. She hurried
up to him, and he at once took her in his arms and kissed her. He had
never done such a thing before. He had never even kissed her hand.
Though they were cousins and dear friends, he had never treated her
after that fashion. Her instinct told her immediately that such a
greeting from him was a sign of affectionate compliance with her
wishes. That this man should kiss her as her best and dearest
relation, as her most trusted friend, as almost her brother, was
certainly to her no offence. She could cling to him in fondest love,--
if he would only consent not to be her lover. 'Oh, Roger, I am so glad
to see you,' she said, escaping gently from his arms.

'I could not write an answer, and so I came.'

'You always do the kindest thing that can be done.'

'I don't know. I don't know that I can do anything now,--kind or
unkind. It is all done without any aid from me. Hetta, you have been
all the world to me.'

'Do not reproach me,' she said.

'No;--no. Why should I reproach you? You have committed no fault. I
should not have come had I intended to reproach any one.'

'I love you so much for saying that.'

'Let it be as you wish it,--if it must. I have made up my mind to bear
it, and there shall be an end of it.' As he said this he took her by
the hand, and she put her head upon his shoulder and began to weep.
'And still you will be all the world to me,' he continued, with his
arm round her waist. 'As you will not be my wife, you shall be my

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