Part 18 out of 19
'I will be your sister, Roger.'
'My daughter rather. You shall be all that I have in the world. I will
hurry to grow old that I may feel for you as the old feel for the
young. And if you have a child, Hetta, he must be my child.' As he
thus spoke her tears were renewed. 'I have planned it all out in my
mind, dear. There! If there be anything that I can do to add to your
happiness, I will do it. You must believe this of me,--that to make
you happy shall be the only enjoyment of my life.'
It had been hardly possible for her to tell him as yet that the man to
whom he was thus consenting to surrender her had not even condescended
to answer the letter in which she had told him to come back to her.
And now, sobbing as she was, overcome by the tenderness of her
cousin's affection, anxious to express her intense gratitude, she did
not know how first to mention the name of Paul Montague. 'Have you
seen him?' she said in a whisper.
'No;--why should I have seen him? It is not for his sake that I am
'But you will be his friend?'
'Your husband shall certainly be my friend;--or, if not, the fault
shall not be mine. It shall all be forgotten, Hetta,--as nearly as such
things may be forgotten. But I had nothing to say to him till I had
seen you.' At that moment the door was opened and Lady Carbury entered
the room, and, after her greeting with her cousin, looked first at her
daughter and then at Roger. 'I have come up,' said he, 'to signify my
adhesion to this marriage.' Lady Carbury's face fell very low. 'I need
not speak again of what were my own wishes. I have learned at last
that it could not have been so.'
'Why should you say so?' exclaimed Lady Carbury.
'Pray, pray, mamma--,' Hetta began, but was unable to find words with
which to go on with her prayer.
'I do not know that it need be so at all,' continued Lady Carbury. 'I
think it is very much in your own hands. Of course it is not for me to
press such an arrangement, if it be not in accord with your own
'I look upon her as engaged to marry Paul Montague,' said Roger.
'Not at all,' said Lady Carbury.
'Yes; mamma,--yes,' cried Hetta boldly. 'It is so. I am engaged to
'I beg to let your cousin know that it is not so with my consent,--nor,
as far as I can understand at present, with the consent of Mr Montague
'Paul Montague!' ejaculated Roger Carbury. 'The consent of Paul
Montague! I think I may take upon myself to say that there can be no
doubt as to that.'
'There has been a quarrel,' said Lady Carbury.
'Surely he has not quarrelled with you, Hetta?'
'I wrote to him,--and he has not answered me,' said Hetta piteously.
Then Lady Carbury gave a full and somewhat coloured account of what
had taken place, while Roger listened with admirable patience. 'The
marriage is on every account objectionable,' she said at last, 'His
means are precarious. His conduct with regard to that woman has been
very bad. He has been sadly mixed up with that wretched man who
destroyed himself. And now, when Henrietta has written to him without
my sanction,--in opposition to my express commands,--he takes no notice
of her. She, very properly, sent him back a present that he made her,
and no doubt he has resented her doing so. I trust that his resentment
may be continued.'
Hetta was now seated on a sofa hiding her face and weeping. Roger
stood perfectly still, listening with respectful silence till Lady
Carbury had spoken her last word. And even then he was slow to answer,
considering what he might best say. 'I think I had better see him,' he
replied. 'If, as I imagine, he has not received my cousin's letter,
that matter will be set at rest. We must not take advantage of such an
accident as that. As to his income,--that I think may be managed. His
connection with Mr Melmotte was unfortunate, but was due to no fault
of his.' At this moment he could not but remember Lady Carbury's great
anxiety to be closely connected with Melmotte, but he was too generous
to say a word on that head. 'I will see him, Lady Carbury, and then I
will come to you again.'
Lady Carbury did not dare to tell him that she did not wish him to see
Paul Montague. She knew that if he really threw himself into the scale
against her, her opposition would weigh nothing. He was too powerful
in his honesty and greatness of character,--and had been too often
admitted by herself to be the guardian angel of the family,--for her to
stand against him. But she still thought that had he persevered, Hetta
would have become his wife.
It was late that evening before Roger found Paul Montague, who had
only then returned from Liverpool with Fisker,--whose subsequent doings
have been recorded somewhat out of their turn.
'I don't know what letter you mean,' said Paul.
'You wrote to her?'
'Certainly I wrote to her. I wrote to her twice. My last letter was
one which I think she ought to have answered. She had accepted me, and
had given me a right to tell my own story when she unfortunately heard
from other sources the story of my journey to Lowestoft with Mrs
Hurtle.' Paul pleaded his own case with indignant heat, not
understanding at first that Roger had come to him on a friendly
'She did answer your letter.'
'I have not had a line from her;--not a word!'
'She did answer your letter.'
'What did she say to me?'
'Nay,--you must ask her that.'
'But if she will not see me?'
'She will see you. I can tell you that. And I will tell you this
also;--that she wrote to you as a girl writes to the lover whom she
does wish to see.'
'Is that true?' exclaimed Paul, jumping up.
'I am here especially to tell you that it is true. I should hardly
come on such a message if there were a doubt. You may go to her, and
need have nothing to fear,--unless, indeed, it be the opposition of
'She is stronger than her mother,' said Paul.
'I think she is. And now I wish you to hear what I have to say.'
'Of course,' said Paul, sitting down suddenly. Up to this moment Roger
Carbury, though he had certainly brought glad tidings, had not
communicated them as a joyous, sympathetic messenger. His face had
been severe, and the tone of his voice almost harsh; and Paul,
remembering well the words of the last letter which his old friend had
written him, did not expect personal kindness. Roger would probably
say very disagreeable things to him, which he must bear with all the
patience which he could summon to his assistance.
'You know my what feelings have been,' Roger began, 'and how deeply I
have resented what I thought to be an interference with my affections.
But no quarrel between you and me, whatever the rights of it may be--'
'I have never quarrelled with you,' Paul began.
'If you will listen to me for a moment it will be better. No anger
between you and me, let it arise as it might, should be allowed to
interfere with the happiness of her whom I suppose we both love better
than all the rest of the world put together.'
'I do,' said Paul.
'And so do I;--and so I always shall. But she is to be your wife. She
shall be my daughter. She shall have my property,--or her child shall
be my heir. My house shall be her house,--if you and she will consent
to make it so. You will not be afraid of me. You know me, I think, too
well for that. You may now count on any assistance you could have from
me were I a father giving you a daughter in marriage. I do this
because I will make the happiness of her life the chief object of
mine. Now good night. Don't say anything about it at present.
By-and-by we shall be able to talk about these things with more
equable temper.' Having so spoken he hurried out of the room, leaving
Paul Montague bewildered by the tidings which had been announced to
CHAPTER XCIV - JOHN CRUMB'S VICTORY
In the meantime great preparations were going on down in Suffolk for
the marriage of that happiest of lovers, John Crumb. John Crumb had
been up to London, had been formally reconciled to Ruby,--who had
submitted to his floury embraces, not with the best grace in the
world, but still with a submission that had satisfied her future
husband,--had been intensely grateful to Mrs Hurtle, and almost
munificent in liberality to Mrs Pipkin, to whom he presented a purple
silk dress, in addition to the cloak which he had given on a former
occasion. During this visit he had expressed no anger against Ruby,
and no indignation in reference to the baronite. When informed by Mrs
Pipkin, who hoped thereby to please him, that Sir Felix was supposed
to be still 'all one mash of gore,' he blandly smiled, remarking that
no man could be much worse for a 'few sich taps as them.' He only
stayed a few hours in London, but during these few hours he settled
everything. When Mrs Pipkin suggested that Ruby should be married from
her house, he winked his eye as he declined the suggestion with
thanks. Daniel Ruggles was old, and, under the influence of continued
gin and water, was becoming feeble. John Crumb was of opinion that the
old man should not be neglected, and hinted that with a little care
the five hundred pounds which had originally been promised as Ruby's
fortune, might at any rate be secured. He was of opinion that the
marriage should be celebrated in Suffolk,--the feast being spread at
Sheep's Acre farm, if Dan Ruggles could be talked into giving it,--and
if not, at his own house. When both the ladies explained to him that
this last proposition was not in strict accordance with the habits of
the fashionable world, John expressed an opinion that, under the
peculiar circumstances of his marriage, the ordinary laws of the world
might be suspended. 'It ain't jist like other folks, after all as
we've been through,' said,--he meaning probably to imply that having
had to fight for his wife, he was entitled to give a breakfast on the
occasion if he pleased. But whether the banquet was to be given by the
bride's grandfather or by himself he was determined that there should
be a banquet, and that he would bid the guests. He invited both Mrs
Pipkin and Mrs Hurtle, and at last succeeded in inducing Mrs Hurtle to
promise that she would bring Mrs Pipkin down to Bungay, for the
Then it was necessary to fix the day, and for this purpose it was of
course essential that Ruby should be consulted. During the discussion
as to the feast and the bridegroom's entreaties that the two ladies
would be present, she had taken no part in the matter in hand. She
was brought up to be kissed, and having been duly kissed she retired
again among the children, having only expressed one wish of her own,--
namely, that Joe Mixet might not have anything to do with the affair.
But the day could not be fixed without her, and she was summoned.
Crumb had been absurdly impatient, proposing next Tuesday,--making his
proposition on a Friday. They could cook enough meat for all Bungay to
eat by Tuesday, and he was aware of no other cause for delay. 'That's
out of the question,' Ruby had said decisively, and as the two elder
ladies had supported her Mr Crumb yielded with a good grace. He did
not himself appreciate the reasons given because, as he remarked,
gowns can be bought ready made at any shop. But Mrs Pipkin told him
with a laugh that he didn't know anything about it, and when the 14th
of August was named he only scratched his head and, muttering
something about Thetford fair, agreed that he would, yet once again,
allow love to take precedence of business. If Tuesday would have
suited the ladies as well he thought that he might have managed to
combine the marriage and the fair, but when Mrs Pipkin told him that
he must not interfere any further, he yielded with a good grace. He
merely remained in London long enough to pay a friendly visit to the
policeman who had locked him up, and then returned to Suffolk,
revolving in his mind how glorious should be the matrimonial triumph
which he had at last achieved.
Before the day arrived, old Ruggles had been constrained to forgive
his granddaughter, and to give a general assent to the marriage. When
John Crumb, with a sound of many trumpets, informed all Bungay that he
had returned victorious from London, and that after all the ups and
downs of his courtship Ruby was to become his wife on a fixed day, all
Bungay took his part, and joined in a general attack upon Mr Daniel
Ruggles. The cross-grained old man held out for a long time, alleging
that the girl was no better than she should be, and that she had run
away with the baronite. But this assertion was met by so strong a
torrent of contradiction, that the farmer was absolutely driven out of
his own convictions. It is to be feared that many lies were told on
Ruby's behalf by lips which had been quite ready a fortnight since to
take away her character. But it had become an acknowledged fact in
Bungay that John Crumb was ready at any hour to punch the head of any
man who should hint that Ruby Ruggles had, at any period of her life,
done any act or spoken any word unbecoming a young lady; and so strong
was the general belief in John Crumb, that Ruby became the subject of
general eulogy from all male lips in the town. And though perhaps some
slight suspicion of irregular behaviour up in London might be
whispered by the Bungay ladies among themselves, still the feeling in
favour of Mr Crumb was so general, and his constancy was so popular,
that the grandfather could not stand against it. 'I don't see why I
ain't to do as I likes with my own,' he said to Joe Mixet, the baker,
who went out to Sheep's Acre Farm as one of many deputations sent by
the municipality of Bungay.
'She's your own flesh and blood, Mr Ruggles,' said the baker.
'No; she ain't;--no more than she's a Pipkin. She's taken up with Mrs
Pipkin jist because I hate the Pipkinses. Let Mrs Pipkin give 'em a
'She is your own flesh and blood,--and your name, too, Mr Ruggles.
And she's going to be the respectable wife of a respectable man, Mr
'I won't give 'em no breakfast;--that's flat,' said the farmer.
But he had yielded in the main when he allowed himself to base his
opposition on one immaterial detail. The breakfast was to be given at
the King's Head, and, though it was acknowledged on all sides that no
authority could be found for such a practice, it was known that the
bill was to be paid by the bridegroom. Nor would Mr Ruggles pay the
five hundred pounds down as in early days he had promised to do. He
was very clear in his mind that his undertaking on that head was
altogether cancelled by Ruby's departure from Sheep's Acre. When he
was reminded that he had nearly pulled his granddaughter's hair out of
her head, and had thus justified her act of rebellion, he did not
contradict the assertion, but implied that if Ruby did not choose to
earn her fortune on such terms as those, that was her fault. It was
not to be supposed that he was to give a girl, who was after all as
much a Pipkin as a Ruggles, five hundred pounds for nothing. But, in
return for that night's somewhat harsh treatment of Ruby, he did at
last consent to have the money settled upon John Crumb at his death,--
an arrangement which both the lawyer and Joe Mixet thought to be almost
as good as a free gift, being both of them aware that the consumption
of gin and water was on the increase. And he, moreover, was persuaded
to receive Mrs Pipkin and Ruby at the farm for the night previous to
the marriage. This very necessary arrangement was made by Mr Mixet's
mother, a most respectable old lady, who went out in a fly from the
inn attired in her best black silk gown and an overpowering bonnet, an
old lady from whom her son had inherited his eloquence, who absolutely
shamed the old man into compliance,--not, however, till she had
promised to send out the tea and white sugar and box of biscuits which
were thought to be necessary for Mrs Pipkin on the evening preceding
the marriage. A private sitting-room at the inn was secured for the
special accommodation of Mrs Hurtle,--who was supposed to be a lady
of too high standing to be properly entertained at Sheep's Acre Farm.
On the day preceding the wedding one trouble for a moment clouded the
bridegroom's brow. Ruby had demanded that Joe Mixet should not be
among the performers, and John Crumb, with the urbanity of a lover,
had assented to her demand,--as far, at least, as silence can give
consent. And yet he felt himself unable to answer such interrogatories
as the parson might put to him without the assistance of his friend,
although he devoted much study to the matter. 'You could come in
behind like, Joe, just as if I knew nothin' about it,' suggested
'Don't you say a word of me, and she won't say nothing, you may be
sure. You ain't going to give in to all her cantraps that way, John?'
John shook his head and rubbed the meal about on his forehead. 'It was
only just something for her to say. What have I done that she should
object to me?'
'You didn't ever go for to--kiss her,--did you, Joe?'
'What a one'er you are! That wouldn't 'a set her again me. It is just
because I stood up and spoke for you like a man that night at Sheep's
Acre, when her mind was turned the other way. Don't you notice nothing
about it. When we're all in the church she won't go back because Joe
Mixet's there. I'll bet you a gallon, old fellow, she and I are the
best friends in Bungay before six months are gone.'
'Nay, nay; she must have a better friend than thee, Joe, or I must
know the reason why.' But John Crumb's heart was too big for jealousy,
and he agreed at last that Joe Mixet should be his best man,
undertaking to 'square it all' with Ruby, after the ceremony.
He met the ladies at the station and,--for him,--was quite eloquent in
his welcome to Mrs Hurtle and Mrs Pipkin. To Ruby he said but little.
But he looked at her in her new hat, and generally bright in subsidiary
wedding garments, with great delight. 'Ain't she bootiful now?' he
said aloud to Mrs Hurtle on the platform, to the great delight of half
Bungay, who had accompanied him on the occasion. Ruby, hearing her
praises thus sung, made a fearful grimace as she turned round to Mrs
Pipkin, and whispered to her aunt, so that those only who were within
a yard or two could hear her: 'He is such a fool!' Then he conducted
Mrs Hurtle in an omnibus up to the Inn, and afterwards himself drove
Mrs Pipkin and Ruby out to Sheep's Acre; in the performance of all
which duties he was dressed in the green cutaway coat with brass
buttons which had been expressly made for his marriage. 'Thou'rt come
back then, Ruby,' said the old man.
'I ain't going to trouble you long, grandfather,' said the girl.
'So best;--so best. And this is Mrs Pipkin?'
'Yes, Mr Ruggles; that's my name.'
'I've heard your name. I've heard your name, and I don't know as I
ever want to hear it again. But they say as you've been kind to that
girl as 'd 'a been on the town only for that.'
'Grandfather, that ain't true,' said Ruby with energy. The old man
made no rejoinder, and Ruby was allowed to take her aunt up into the
bedroom which they were both to occupy. 'Now, Mrs Pipkin, just you
say,' pleaded Ruby, 'how was it possible for any girl to live with an
old man like that?'
'But, Ruby, you might always have gone to live with the young man
instead when you pleased.'
'You mean John Crumb.'
'Of course I mean John Crumb, Ruby.'
'There ain't much to choose between 'em. What one says is all spite;
and the other man says nothing at all.'
'Oh Ruby, Ruby,' said Mrs Pipkin, with solemnly persuasive voice, 'I
hope you'll come to learn some day, that a loving heart is better nor
a fickle tongue,--specially with vittels certain.'
On the following morning the Bungay church bells rang merrily, and
half its population was present to see John Crumb made a happy man. He
himself went out to the farm and drove the bride and Mrs Pipkin into
the town, expressing an opinion that no hired charioteer would bring
them so safely as he would do himself; nor did he think it any
disgrace to be seen performing this task before his marriage. He
smiled and nodded at every one, now and then pointing back with his
whip to Ruby when he met any of his specially intimate friends, as
though he would have said, 'see, I've got her at last in spite of all
difficulties.' Poor Ruby, in her misery under this treatment, would
have escaped out of the cart had it been possible. But now she was
altogether in the man's hands and no escape was within her reach.
'What's the odds?' said Mrs Pipkin as they settled their bonnets in a
room at the Inn just before they entered the church. 'Drat it,--you
make me that angry I'm half minded to cuff you. Ain't he fond o' you?
Ain't he got a house of his own? Ain't he well to do all round?
Manners! What's manners? I don't see nothing amiss in his manners. He
means what he says, and I call that the best of good manners.'
Ruby, when she reached the church, had been too completely quelled by
outward circumstances to take any notice of Joe Mixet, who was
standing there, quite unabashed, with a splendid nosegay in his
button-hole. She certainly had no right on this occasion to complain
of her husband's silence. Whereas she could hardly bring herself to
utter the responses in a voice loud enough for the clergyman to catch
the familiar words, he made his assertions so vehemently that they
were heard throughout the whole building. 'I, John,--take thee Ruby,--
to my wedded wife,--to 'ave and to 'old,--from this day forrard,--for
better nor worser,--for richer nor poorer'; and so on to the end. And
when he came to the 'worldly goods' with which he endowed his Ruby, he
was very emphatic indeed. Since the day had been fixed he had employed
all his leisure-hours in learning the words by heart, and would now
hardly allow the clergyman to say them before him. He thoroughly
enjoyed the ceremony, and would have liked to be married over and over
again, every day for a week, had it been possible.
And then there came the breakfast, to which he marshalled the way up
the broad stairs of the inn at Bungay, with Mrs Hurtle on one arm and
Mrs Pipkin on the other. He had been told that he ought to take his
wife's arm on this occasion, but he remarked that he meant to see a
good deal of her in future, and that his opportunities of being civil
to Mrs Hurtle and Mrs Pipkin would be rare. Thus it came to pass that,
in spite of all that poor Ruby had said, she was conducted to the
marriage-feast by Joe Mixet himself. Ruby, I think, had forgotten the
order which she had given in reference to the baker. When desiring
that she might see nothing more of Joe Mixet, she had been in her
pride;--but now she was so tamed and quelled by the outward
circumstances of her position, that she was glad to have some one near
her who knew how to behave himself. 'Mrs Crumb, you have my best
wishes for your continued 'ealth and 'appiness,' said Joe Mixet in a
'It's very good of you to say so, Mr Mixet.'
'He's a good 'un; is he.'
'Oh, I dare say.'
'You just be fond of him and stroke him down, and make much of him,
and I'm blessed if you mayn't do a'most anything with him,--all's one
as a babby.'
'A man shouldn't be all's one as a babby, Mr Mixet.'
'And he don't drink hard, but he works hard, and go where he will he
can hold his own.' Ruby said no more, and soon found herself seated by
her husband's side. It certainly was wonderful to her that so many
people should pay John Crumb so much respect, and should seem to think
so little of the meal and flour which pervaded his countenance.
After the breakfast, or 'bit of dinner,' as John Crumb would call it,
Mr Mixet of course made a speech. 'He had had the pleasure of knowing
John Crumb for a great many years, and the honour of being acquainted
with Miss Ruby Ruggles,--he begged all their pardons, and should have
said Mrs John Crumb,--ever since she was a child.' 'That's a downright
story,' said Ruby in a whisper to Mrs Hurtle. 'And he'd never known
two young people more fitted by the gifts of nature to contribute to
one another's 'appinesses. He had understood that Mars and Wenus
always lived on the best of terms, and perhaps the present company
would excuse him if he likened this 'appy young couple to them two
'eathen gods and goddesses. For Miss Ruby,--Mrs Crumb he should say,--
was certainly lovely as ere a Wenus as ever was; and as for John Crumb,
he didn't believe that ever a Mars among 'em could stand again him. He
didn't remember just at present whether Mars and Wenus had any young
family, but he hoped that before long there would be any number of
young Crumbs for the Bungay birds to pick up. 'Appy is the man as 'as
his quiver full of 'em,--and the woman too, if you'll allow me to say
so, Mrs Crumb.' The speech, of which only a small sample can be given
here, was very much admired by the ladies and gentlemen present,--with
the single exception of poor Ruby, who would have run away and locked
herself in an inner chamber had she not been certain that she would be
brought back again.
In the afternoon John took his bride to Lowestoft, and brought her
back to all the glories of his own house on the following day. His
honeymoon was short, but its influence on Ruby was beneficent. When
she was alone with the man, knowing that he was her husband, and
thinking something of all that he had done to win her to be his wife,
she did learn to respect him. 'Now, Ruby, give a fellow a buss,--as
though you meant it,' he said, when the first fitting occasion
'Oh, John,--what nonsense!'
'It ain't nonsense to me, I can tell you. I'd sooner have a kiss from
you than all the wine as ever was swallowed.' Then she did kiss him,
'as though she meant it;' and when she returned with him to Bungay the
next day, she had made up her mind that she would endeavour to do her
duty by him as his wife.
CHAPTER XCV - THE LONGESTAFFE MARRIAGES
In another part of Suffolk, not very far from Bungay, there was a lady
whose friends had not managed her affairs as well as Ruby's friends
had done for Ruby. Miss Georgiana Longestaffe in the early days of
August was in a very miserable plight. Her sister's marriage with Mr
George Whitstable was fixed for the first of September, a day which in
Suffolk is of all days the most sacred; and the combined energies of
the houses of Caversham and Toodlam were being devoted to that happy
event. Poor Georgey's position was in every respect wretched, but its
misery was infinitely increased by the triumph of those hymeneals. It
was but the other day that she had looked down from a very great
height on her elder sister, and had utterly despised the squire of
Toodlam. And at that time, still so recent, this contempt from her had
been accepted as being almost reasonable. Sophia had hardly ventured
to rebel against it, and Mr Whitstable himself had been always afraid
to encounter the shafts of irony with which his fashionable future
sister-in-law attacked him. But all that was now changed. Sophia in
her pride of place had become a tyrant, and George Whitstable, petted
in the house with those sweetmeats which are always showered on embryo
bridegrooms, absolutely gave himself airs. At this time Mr Longestaffe
was never at home. Having assured himself that there was no longer any
danger of the Brehgert alliance he had remained in London, thinking
his presence to be necessary for the winding up of Melmotte's affairs,
and leaving poor Lady Pomona to bear her daughter's ill humour. The
family at Caversham consisted therefore of the three ladies, and was
enlivened by daily visits from Toodlam. It will be owned that in this
state of things there was very little consolation for Georgiana.
It was not long before she quarrelled altogether with her sister,--to
the point of absolutely refusing to act as bridesmaid. The reader may
remember that there had been a watch and chain, and that two of the
ladies of the family had expressed an opinion that these trinkets
should be returned to Mr Brehgert who had bestowed them. But Georgiana
had not sent them back when a week had elapsed since the receipt of Mr
Brehgert's last letter. The matter had perhaps escaped Lady Pomona's
memory, but Sophia was happily alive to the honour of her family.
'Georgey,' she said one morning in their mother's presence, 'don't you
think Mr Brehgert's watch ought to go back to him without any more
'What have you got to do with anybody's watch? The watch wasn't given
'I think it ought to go back. When papa finds that it has been kept
I'm sure he'll be very angry.'
'It's no business of yours whether he's angry or not.'
'If it isn't sent, George will tell Dolly. You know what would happen
This was unbearable! That George Whitstable should interfere in her
affairs,--that he should talk about her watch and chain. 'I never will
speak to George Whitstable again the longest day that ever I live,'
she said, getting up from her chair.
'My dear, don't say anything so horrible as that,' exclaimed the
'I do say it. What has George Whitstable to do with me? A miserably
stupid fellow! Because you've landed him, you think he's to ride over
the whole family.'
'I think Mr Brehgert ought to have his watch and chain back,' said
'Certainly he ought,' said Lady Pomona. 'Georgiana, it must be sent
back. It really must,--or I shall tell your papa.'
Subsequently, on the same day, Georgiana brought the watch and chain
to her mother, protesting that she had never thought of keeping them,
and explaining that she had intended to hand them over to her papa as
soon as he should have returned to Caversham. Lady Pomona was now
empowered to return them, and they were absolutely confided to the
hands of the odious George Whitstable, who about this time made a
journey to London in reference to certain garments which he required.
But Georgiana, though she was so far beaten, kept up her quarrel with
her sister. She would not be bridesmaid. She would never speak to
George Whitstable. And she would shut herself up on the day of the
She did think herself to be very hardly used. What was there left in
the world that she could do in furtherance of her future cause? And
what did her father and mother expect would become of her? Marriage
had ever been so clearly placed before her eyes as a condition of
things to be achieved by her own efforts, that she could not endure
the idea of remaining tranquil in her father's house and waiting till
some fitting suitor might find her out. She had struggled and
struggled, struggling still in vain,--till every effort of her mind,
every thought of her daily life, was pervaded by a conviction that as
she grew older from year to year, the struggle should be more intense.
The swimmer when first he finds himself in the water, conscious of his
skill and confident in his strength, can make his way through the
water with the full command of all his powers. But when he begins to
feel that the shore is receding from him, that his strength is going,
that the footing for which he pants is still far beneath his feet,--
that there is peril where before he had contemplated no danger,--then
he begins to beat the water with strokes rapid but impotent, and to
waste in anxious gaspings the breath on which his very life must
depend. So it was with poor Georgey Longestaffe. Something must be done
at once, or it would be of no avail. Twelve years had been passed by
her since first she plunged into the stream,--the twelve years of her
youth,--and she was as far as ever from the bank; nay, farther, if she
believed her eyes. She too must strike out with rapid efforts, unless,
indeed, she would abandon herself and let the waters close over her
head. But immersed as she was here at Caversham, how could she strike
at all? Even now the waters were closing upon her. The sound of them
was in her ears. The ripple of the wave was already round her lips;
robbing her of breath. Ah!--might not there be some last great
convulsive effort which might dash her on shore, even if it were upon
That ultimate failure in her matrimonial projects would be the same as
drowning she never for a moment doubted. It had never occurred to her
to consider with equanimity the prospect of living as an old maid. It
was beyond the scope of her mind to contemplate the chances of a life
in which marriage might be well if it came, but in which unmarried
tranquillity might also be well should that be her lot. Nor could she
understand that others should contemplate it for her. No doubt the
battle had been carried on for many years so much under the auspices
of her father and mother as to justify her in thinking that their
theory of life was the same as her own. Lady Pomona had been very open
in her teaching, and Mr Longestaffe had always given a silent
adherence to the idea that the house in London was to be kept open in
order that husbands might be caught. And now when they deserted her in
her real difficulty,--when they first told her to live at Caversham
all the summer, and then sent her up to the Melmottes, and after that
forbade her marriage with Mr Brehgert,--it seemed to her that they
were unnatural parents who gave her a stone when she wanted bread, a
serpent when she asked for a fish. She had no friend left. There was
no one living who seemed to care whether she had a husband or not. She
took to walking in solitude about the park, and thought of many things
with a grim earnestness which had not hitherto belonged to her
'Mamma,' she said one morning when all the care of the household was
being devoted to the future comforts,--chiefly in regard to linen,--of
Mrs George Whitstable, 'I wonder whether papa has any intention at all
'In what sort of way, my dear?'
'In any way. Does he mean me to live here for ever and ever?'
'I don't think he intends to have a house in town again.'
'And what am I to do?'
'I suppose we shall stay here at Caversham.'
'And I'm to be buried just like a nun in a convent,--only that the nun
does it by her own consent and I don't! Mamma, I won't stand it. I
'I think, my dear, that that is nonsense. You see company here, just
as other people do in the country;--and as for not standing it, I don't
know what you mean. As long as you are one of your papa's family of
course you must live where he lives.'
'Oh, mamma, to hear you talk like that!--It is horrible--horrible! As
if you didn't know! As if you couldn't understand! Sometimes I almost
doubt whether papa does know, and then I think that if he did he would
not be so cruel. But you understand it all as well as I do myself.
What is to become of me? Is it not enough to drive me mad to be going
about here by myself, without any prospect of anything? Should you
have liked at my age to have felt that you had no chance of having a
house of your own to live in? Why didn't you, among you, let me marry
Mr Breghert?' As she said this she was almost eloquent with passion.
'You know, my dear,' said Lady Pomona, 'that your papa wouldn't hear
'I know that if you would have helped me I would have done it in spite
of papa. What right has he to domineer over me in that way? Why
shouldn't I have married the man if I chose? I am old enough to know
surely. You talk now of shutting up girls in convents as being a
thing quite impossible. This is much worse. Papa won't do anything to
help me. Why shouldn't he let me do something for myself?'
'You can't regret Mr Brehgert!'
'Why can't I regret him? I do regret him. I'd have him to-morrow if he
came. Bad as it might be, it couldn't be so bad as Caversham.'
'You couldn't have loved him, Georgiana.'
'Loved him! Who thinks about love nowadays? I don't know any one who
loves any one else. You won't tell me that Sophy is going to marry
that idiot because she loves him. Did Julia Triplex love that man with
the large fortune? When you wanted Dolly to marry Marie Melmotte you
never thought of his loving her. I had got the better of all that kind
of thing before I was twenty.'
'I think a young woman should love her husband.'
'It makes me sick, mamma, to hear you talk in that way. It does
indeed. When one has been going on for a dozen years trying to do
something,--and I have never had any secrets from you,--then that you
should turn round upon me and talk about love! Mamma, if you would
help me I think I could still manage with Mr Brehgert.' Lady Pomona
shuddered. 'You have not got to marry him.'
'It is too horrid.'
'Who would have to put up with it? Not you, or papa, or Dolly. I
should have a house of my own at least, and I should know what I had
to expect for the rest of my life. If I stay here I shall go mad or
'It is impossible.'
'If you will stand to me, mamma, I am sure it may be done. I would
write to him, and say that you would see him.'
'Georgiana, I will never see him.'
'He is a Jew!'
'What abominable prejudice,--what wicked prejudice! As if you didn't
know that all that is changed now! What possible difference can it
make about a man's religion? Of course I know that he is vulgar, and
old, and has a lot of children. But if I can put up with that, I don't
think that you and papa have a right to interfere. As to his religion
it cannot signify.'
'Georgiana, you make me very unhappy. I am wretched to see you so
discontented. If I could do anything for you, I would. But I will not
meddle about Mr Brehgert. I shouldn't dare to do so. I don't think you
know how angry your papa can be.'
'I'm not going to let papa be a bugbear to frighten me. What can he
do? I don't suppose he'll beat me. And I'd rather he would than shut
me up here. As for you, mamma, I don't think you care for me a bit.
Because Sophy is going to be married to that oaf, you are become so
proud of her that you haven't half a thought for anybody else.'
'That's very unjust, Georgiana.'
'I know what's unjust,--and I know who's ill-treated. I tell you
fairly, mamma, that I shall write to Mr Brehgert and tell him that I am
quite ready to marry him. I don't know why he should be afraid of papa.
I don't mean to be afraid of him any more, and you may tell him just
what I say.'
All this made Lady Pomona very miserable. She did not communicate her
daughter's threat to Mr Longestaffe, but she did discuss it with
Sophia. Sophia was of opinion that Georgiana did not mean it, and gave
two or three reasons for thinking so. In the first place had she
intended it she would have written her letter without saying a word
about it to Lady Pomona. And she certainly would not have declared her
purpose of writing such letter after Lady Pomona had refused her
assistance. And moreover,--Lady Pomona had received no former hint of
the information which was now conveyed to her,--Georgiana was in the
habit of meeting the curate of the next parish almost every day in the
'Mr Batherbolt!' exclaimed Lady Pomona.
'She is walking with Mr Batherbolt almost every day.'
'But he is so very strict.'
'It is true, mamma.'
'And he's five years younger than she! And he's got nothing but his
curacy! And he's a celibate! I heard the bishop laughing at him
because he called himself a celibate.'
'It doesn't signify, mamma. I know she is with him constantly. Wilson
has seen them,--and I know it. Perhaps papa could get him a living.
Dolly has a living of his own that came to him with his property.'
'Dolly would be sure to sell the presentation,' said Lady Pomona.
'Perhaps the bishop would do something,' said the anxious sister,
'when he found that the man wasn't a celibate. Anything, mamma, would
be better than the Jew.' To this latter proposition Lady Pomona gave a
cordial assent. 'Of course it is a come-down to marry a curate,--but a
clergyman is always considered to be decent.'
The preparations for the Whitstable marriage went on without any
apparent attention to the intimacy which was growing up between Mr
Batherbolt and Georgiana. There was no room to apprehend anything
wrong on that side. Mr Batherbolt was so excellent a young man, and so
exclusively given to religion, that, even should Sophy's suspicion be
correct, he might be trusted to walk about the park with Georgiana.
Should he at any time come forward and ask to be allowed to make the
lady his wife, there would be no disgrace in the matter. He was a
clergyman and a gentleman,--and the poverty would be Georgiana's own
Mr Longestaffe returned home only on the eve of his eldest daughter's
marriage, and with him came Dolly. Great trouble had been taken to
teach him that duty absolutely required his presence at his sister's
marriage, and he had at last consented to be there. It is not
generally considered a hardship by a young man that he should have to
go into a good partridge country on the 1st of September, and Dolly
was an acknowledged sportsman. Nevertheless, he considered that he had
made a great sacrifice to his family, and he was received by Lady
Pomona as though he were a bright example to other sons. He found the
house not in a very comfortable position, for Georgiana still
persisted in her refusal either to be a bridesmaid or to speak to Mr
Whitstable; but still his presence, which was very rare at Caversham,
gave some assistance: and, as at this moment his money affairs had
been comfortably arranged, he was not called upon to squabble with his
father. It was a great thing that one of the girls should be married,
and Dolly had brought down an enormous china dog, about five feet
high, as a wedding present, which added materially to the happiness of
the meeting. Lady Pomona had determined that she would tell her
husband of those walks in the park, and of other signs of growing
intimacy which had reached her ears;--but this she would postpone until
after the Whitstable marriage.
But at nine o'clock on the morning set apart for that marriage, they
were all astounded by the news that Georgiana had run away with Mr
Batherbolt. She had been up before six. He had met her at the park
gate, and had driven her over to catch the early train at Stowmarket.
Then it appeared, too, that, by degrees, various articles of her
property had been conveyed to Mr Batherbolt's lodgings in the adjacent
village, so that Lady Pomona's fear that Georgiana would not have a
thing to wear was needless. When the fact was first known it was
almost felt, in the consternation of the moment, that the Whitstable
marriage must be postponed. But Sophia had a word to say to her mother
on that head, and she said it. The marriage was not postponed. At
first Dolly talked of going after his younger sister, and the father
did dispatch various telegrams. But the fugitives could not be brought
back, and with some little delay,--which made the marriage perhaps
uncanonical but not illegal,--Mr George Whitstable was made a happy
It need only he added that in about a month's time Georgiana returned
to Caversham as Mrs Batherbolt, and that she resided there with her
husband in much connubial bliss for the next six months. At the end of
that time they removed to a small living, for the purchase of which Mr
Longestaffe had managed to raise the necessary money.
CHAPTER XCVI - WHERE 'THE WILD ASSES QUENCH THEIR THIRST'
We must now go back a little in our story,--about three weeks,--in
order that the reader may be told how affairs were progressing at the
Beargarden. That establishment had received a terrible blow in the
defection of Herr Vossner. It was not only that he had robbed the
club, and robbed every member of the club who had ventured to have
personal dealings with him. Although a bad feeling in regard to him
was no doubt engendered in the minds of those who had suffered deeply,
it was not that alone which cast an almost funereal gloom over the
club. The sorrow was in this,--that with Herr Vossner all their
comforts had gone. Of course Herr Vossner had been a thief. That no
doubt had been known to them from the beginning. A man does not consent
to be called out of bed at all hours in the morning to arrange the
gambling accounts of young gentlemen without being a thief. No one
concerned with Herr Vossner had supposed him to be an honest man. But
then as a thief he had been so comfortable that his absence was
regretted with a tenderness almost amounting to love even by those who
had suffered most severely from his rapacity. Dolly Longestaffe had
been robbed more outrageously than any other member of the club, and
yet Dolly Longestaffe had said since the departure of the purveyor that
London was not worth living in now that Herr Vossner was gone. In a
week the Beargarden collapsed,--as Germany would collapse for a period
if Herr Vossner's great compatriot were suddenly to remove himself from
the scene; but as Germany would strive to live even without Bismarck,
so did the club make its new efforts. But here the parallel must cease.
Germany no doubt would at last succeed, but the Beargarden had
received a blow from which it seemed that there was no recovery. At
first it was proposed that three men should be appointed as trustees,--
trustees for paying Vossner's debts, trustees for borrowing more
money, trustees for the satisfaction of the landlord who was beginning
to be anxious as to his future rent. At a certain very triumphant
general meeting of the club it was determined that such a plan should
be arranged, and the members assembled were unanimous. It was at first
thought that there might be a little jealousy as to the trusteeship.
The club was so popular and the authority conveyed by the position
would be so great, that A, B, and C might feel aggrieved at seeing so
much power conferred on D, E, and F. When at the meeting above
mentioned one or two names were suggested, the final choice was
postponed, as a matter of detail to be arranged privately, rather from
this consideration than with any idea that there might be a difficulty
in finding adequate persons. But even the leading members of the
Beargarden hesitated when the proposition was submitted to them with
all its honours and all its responsibilities. Lord Nidderdale declared
from the beginning that he would have nothing to do with it,--pleading
his poverty openly. Beauchamp Beauclerk was of opinion that he himself
did not frequent the club often enough. Mr Lupton professed his
inability as a man of business. Lord Grasslough pleaded his father.
The club from the first had been sure of Dolly Longestaffe's
services;--for were not Dolly's pecuniary affairs now in process of
satisfactory arrangement, and was it not known by all men that his
courage never failed him in regard to money? But even he declined. 'I
have spoken to Squercum,' he said to the Committee, 'and Squercum won't
hear of it. Squercum has made inquiries and he thinks the club very
shaky.' When one of the Committee made a remark as to Mr Squercum which
was not complimentary,--insinuated indeed that Squercum without
injustice might be consigned to the infernal deities Dolly took the
matter up warmly. 'That's all very well for you, Grasslough; but if you
knew the comfort of having a fellow who could keep you straight without
preaching sermons at you you wouldn't despise Squercum. I've tried to
go alone and I find that does not answer. Squercum's my coach, and I
mean to stick pretty close to him.' Then it came to pass that the
triumphant project as to the trustees fell to the ground, although
Squercum himself advised that the difficulty might be lessened if three
gentlemen could be selected who lived well before the world and yet
had nothing to lose. Whereupon Dolly suggested Miles Grendall. But the
committee shook its heads, not thinking it possible that the club
could be re-established on a basis of three Miles Grendalls.
Then dreadful rumours were heard. The Beargarden must surely be
abandoned. 'It is such a pity,' said Nidderdale, 'because there never
has been anything like it.'
'Smoke all over the house!' said Dolly.
'No horrid nonsense about closing,' said Grasslough, 'and no infernal
old fogies wearing out the carpets and paying for nothing.'
'Not a vestige of propriety, or any beastly rules to be kept! That's
what I liked,' said Nidderdale.
'It's an old story,' said Mr Lupton, 'that if you put a man into
Paradise he'll make it too hot to hold him. That's what you've done
'What we ought to do,' said Dolly, who was pervaded by a sense of his
own good fortune in regard to Squercum, 'is to get some fellow like
Vossner, and make him tell us how much he wants to steal above his
regular pay. Then we could subscribe that among us. I really think
that might be done. Squercum would find a fellow, no doubt.' But Mr
Lupton was of opinion that the new Vossner might perhaps not know,
when thus consulted, the extent of his own cupidity.
One day, before the Whitstable marriage, when it was understood that
the club would actually be closed on the 12th August unless some new
heaven-inspired idea might be forthcoming for its salvation,
Nidderdale, Grasslough, and Dolly were hanging about the hall and the
steps, and drinking sherry and bitters preparatory to dinner, when Sir
Felix Carbury came round the neighbouring corner and, in a creeping,
hesitating fashion, entered the hall door. He had nearly recovered
from his wounds, though be still wore a bit of court plaster on his
upper lip, and had not yet learned to look or to speak as though he
had not had two of his front teeth knocked out. He had heard little or
nothing of what had been done at the Beargarden since Vossner's
defection, It was now a month since he had been seen at the club. His
thrashing had been the wonder of perhaps half nine days, but latterly
his existence had been almost forgotten. Now, with difficulty, he had
summoned courage to go down to his old haunt, so completely had he
been cowed by the latter circumstances of his life; but he had
determined that he would pluck up his courage, and talk to his old
associates as though no evil thing had befallen him. He had still
money enough to pay for his dinner and to begin a small rubber of
whist. If fortune should go against him he might glide into I.O.U.'s,--
as others had done before, so much to his cost. 'By George, here's
Carbury!' said Dolly. Lord Grasslough whistled, turned his back, and
walked upstairs; but Nidderdale and Dolly consented to have their
hands shaken by the stranger.
'Thought you were out of town,' said Nidderdale, 'Haven't seen you for
the last ever so long.'
'I have been out of town,' said Felix,--lying; 'down in Suffolk. But
I'm back now. How are things going on here?'
'They're not going at all;--they're gone,' said Dolly. 'Everything is
smashed,' said Nidderdale.
'We shall all have to pay, I don't know how much.'
'Wasn't Vossner ever caught?' asked the baronet.
'Caught!' ejaculated Dolly. 'No;--but he has caught us. I don't know
that there has ever been much idea of catching Vossner. We close
altogether next Monday, and the furniture is to be gone to law for.
Flatfleece says it belongs to him under what he calls a deed of sale.
Indeed, everything that everybody has seems to belong to Flatfleece.
He's always in and out of the club, and has got the key of the
'That don't matter,' said Nidderdale, 'as Vossner took care that there
shouldn't be any wine.'
'He's got most of the forks and spoons, and only lets us use what we
have as a favour.'
'I suppose one can get a dinner here?'
'Yes; to-day you can, and perhaps to-morrow,'
'Isn't there any playing?' asked Felix with dismay.
'I haven't seen a card this fortnight,' said Dolly. 'There hasn't been
anybody to play. Everything has gone to the dogs. There has been the
affair of Melmotte, you know;--though, I suppose, you do know all about
'Of course I know he poisoned himself.'
'Of course that had effect,' said Dolly, continuing his history.
'Though why fellows shouldn't play cards because another fellow like
that takes poison, I can't understand. Last year the only day I
managed to get down in February, the hounds didn't come because some
old cove had died. What harm could our hunting have done him? I call
'Melmotte's death was rather awful,' said Nidderdale.
'Not half so awful as having nothing to amuse one. And now they say
the girl is going to be married to Fisker. I don't know how you and
Nidderdale like that. I never went in for her myself. Squercum never
seemed to see it.'
'Poor dear!' said Nidderdale. 'She's welcome for me, and I dare say she
couldn't do better with herself. I was very fond of her;--I'll be shot
if I wasn't.'
'And Carbury too, I suppose,' said Dolly.
'No; I wasn't. If I'd really been fond of her I suppose it would have
come off. I should have had her safe enough to America, if I'd cared
about it.' This was Sir Felix's view of the matter.
'Come into the smoking-room, Dolly,' said Nidderdale. 'I can stand
most things, and I try to stand everything; but, by George, that
fellow is such a cad that I cannot stand him. You and I are bad
enough,--but I don't think we're so heartless as Carbury.'
'I don't think I'm heartless at all,' said Dolly. 'I'm good-natured to
everybody that is good-natured to me,--and to a great many people who
ain't. I'm going all the way down to Caversham next week to see my
sister married, though I hate the place and hate marriages, and if I
was to be hung for it I couldn't say a word to the fellow who is going
to be my brother-in-law. But I do agree about Carbury. It's very hard
to be good-natured to him.'
But, in the teeth of these adverse opinions Sir Felix managed to get
his dinner-table close to theirs and to tell them at dinner something
of his future prospects. He was going to travel and see the world. He
had, according to his own account, completely run through London life
and found that it was all barren.
'In life I've rung all changes through,
Run every pleasure down,
'Midst each excess of folly too,
And lived with half the town.'
Sir Felix did not exactly quote the old song, probably having never
heard the words. But that was the burden of his present story. It was
his determination to seek new scenes, and in search of them to travel
over the greater part of the known world.
'How jolly for you!' said Dolly.
'It will be a change, you know.'
'No end of a change. Is any one going with you?'
'Well;--yes. I've got a travelling companion;--a very pleasant fellow,
who knows a lot, and will be able to coach me up in things. There's a
deal to be learned by going abroad, you know.'
'A sort of a tutor,' said Nidderdale.
'A parson, I suppose,' said Dolly.
'Well;--he is a clergyman. Who told you?'
'It's only my inventive genius. Well;--yes; I should say that would be
nice,--travelling about Europe with a clergyman. I shouldn't get enough
advantage out of it to make it pay, but I fancy it will just suit
'It's an expensive sort of thing;--isn't it?' asked Nidderdale.
'Well;--it does cost something. But I've got so sick of this kind of
life;--and then that railway Board coming to an end, and the club
smashing up, and--'
'Marie Melmotte marrying Fisker,' suggested Dolly.
'That too, if you will. But I want a change, and a change I mean to
have. I've seen this side of things, and now I'll have a look at the
'Didn't you have a row in the street with some one the other day?'
This question was asked very abruptly by Lord Grasslough, who, though
he was sitting near them, had not yet joined in the conversation, and
who had not before addressed a word to Sir Felix. 'We heard something
about it, but we never got the right story.' Nidderdale glanced across
the table at Dolly, and Dolly whistled. Grasslough looked at the man
he addressed as one does look when one expects an answer. Mr Lupton,
with whom Grasslough was dining, also sat expectant. Dolly and
Nidderdale were both silent.
It was the fear of this that had kept Sir Felix away from the club.
Grasslough, as he had told himself, was just the fellow to ask such a
question,--ill-natured, insolent, and obtrusive. But the question
demanded an answer of some kind. 'Yes,' said he; 'a fellow attacked me
in the street, coming behind me when I had a girl with me. He didn't
get much the best of it though.'
'Oh;--didn't he?' said Grasslough. 'I think, upon the whole, you know,
you're right about going abroad.'
'What business is it of yours?' asked the baronet.
'Well;--as the club is being broken up, I don't know that it is very
much the business of any of us.'
'I was speaking to my friends, Lord Nidderdale and Mr Longestaffe, and
not to you.'
'I quite appreciate the advantage of the distinction,' said Lord
Grasslough, 'and am sorry for Lord Nidderdale and Mr Longestaffe.'
'What do you mean by that?' said Sir Felix, rising from his chair. His
present opponent was not horrible to him as had been John Crumb, as
men in clubs do not now often knock each others' heads or draw swords
one upon another.
'Don't let's have a quarrel here,' said Mr Lupton. 'I shall leave the
room if you do.'
'If we must break up, let us break up in peace and quietness,' said
'Of course, if there is to be a fight, I'm good to go out with
anybody,' said Dolly. 'When there's any beastly thing to be done, I've
always got to do it. But don't you think that kind of thing is a
'Who began it?' said Sir Felix, sitting down again. Whereupon Lord
Grasslough, who had finished his dinner, walked out of the room. 'That
fellow is always wanting to quarrel.'
'There's one comfort, you know,' said Dolly. 'It wants two men to make
'Yes; it does,' said Sir Felix, taking this as a friendly observation;
'and I'm not going to be fool enough to be one of them.'
'Oh, yes, I meant it fast enough,' said Grasslough afterwards up in
the card-room. The other men who had been together had quickly
followed him, leaving Sir Felix alone, and they had collected
themselves there not with the hope of play, but thinking that they
would be less interrupted than in the smoking-room. 'I don't suppose
we shall ever any of us be here again, and as he did come in I thought
I would tell him my mind.'
'What's the use of taking such a lot of trouble?' said Dolly. 'Of
course he's a bad fellow. Most fellows are bad fellows in one way or
'But he's bad all round,' said the bitter enemy.
'And so this is to be the end of the Beargarden,' said Lord Nidderdale
with a peculiar melancholy. 'Dear old place! I always felt it was too
good to last. I fancy it doesn't do to make things too easy;--one has
to pay so uncommon dear for them. And then, you know, when you've got
things easy, then they get rowdy;--and, by George, before you know
where you are, you find yourself among a lot of blackguards. If one
wants to keep one's self straight, one has to work hard at it, one way
or the other. I suppose it all comes from the fall of Adam.'
'If Solomon, Solon, and the Archbishop of Canterbury were rolled into
one, they couldn't have spoken with more wisdom,' said Mr Lupton.
'Live and learn,' continued the young lord. 'I don't think anybody has
liked the Beargarden so much as I have, but I shall never try this
kind of thing again. I shall begin reading blue books to-morrow, and
shall dine at the Carlton. Next session I shan't miss a day in the
House, and I'll bet anybody a flyer that I make a speech before
Easter. I shall take to claret at 20s. a dozen, and shall go about
London on the top of an omnibus.'
'How about getting married?' asked Dolly.
'Oh;--that must be as it comes. That's the governor's affair. None of
you fellows will believe me, but, upon my word, I liked that girl; and
I'd've stuck to her at last,--only there are some things a fellow can't
do. He was such a thundering scoundrel!'
After a while Sir Felix followed them upstairs, and entered the room
as though nothing unpleasant had happened below. 'We can make up a
rubber can't we?' said he.
'I should say not,' said Nidderdale.
'I shall not play,' said Mr Lupton.
'There isn't a pack of cards in the house,' said Dolly. Lord
Grasslough didn't condescend to say a word. Sir Felix sat down with
his cigar in his mouth, and the others continued to smoke in silence.
'I wonder what has become of Miles Grendall,' asked Sir Felix. But no
one made any answer, and they smoked on in silence. 'He hasn't paid me
a shilling yet of the money he owes me.' Still there was not a word.
'And I don't suppose he ever will.' There was another pause. 'He is
the biggest scoundrel I ever met,' said Sir Felix.
'I know one as big,' said Lord Grasslough,--'or, at any rate, as
There was another pause of a minute, and then Sir Felix left the room
muttering something as to the stupidity of having no cards;--and so
brought to an end his connection with his associates of the
Beargarden. From that time forth he was never more seen by them,--or,
if seen, was never known.
The other men remained there till well on into the night, although
there was not the excitement of any special amusement to attract them.
It was felt by them all that this was the end of the Beargarden, and,
with a melancholy seriousness befitting the occasion, they whispered
sad things in low voices, consoling themselves simply with tobacco. 'I
never felt so much like crying in my life,' said Dolly, as he asked
for a glass of brandy-and-water at about midnight. 'Good-night, old
fellows; good-bye. I'm going down to Caversham, and I shouldn't wonder
if I didn't drown myself.'
How Mr Flatfleece went to law, and tried to sell the furniture, and
threatened everybody, and at last singled out poor Dolly Longestaffe
as his special victim; and how Dolly Longestaffe, by the aid of Mr
Squercum, utterly confounded Mr Flatfleece, and brought that ingenious
but unfortunate man, with his wife and small family, to absolute ruin,
the reader will hardly expect to have told to him in detail in this
CHAPTER XCVII - MRS HURTLE'S FATE
Mrs Hurtle had consented at the joint request of Mrs Pipkin and John
Crumb to postpone her journey to New York and to go down to Bungay and
grace the marriage of Ruby Ruggles, not so much from any love for the
persons concerned, not so much even from any desire to witness a phase
of English life, as from an irresistible tenderness towards Paul
Montague. She not only longed to see him once again, but she could
with difficulty bring herself to leave the land in which he was
living. There was no hope for her. She was sure of that. She had
consented to relinquish him. She had condoned his treachery to her,--
and for his sake had even been kind to the rival who had taken her
place. But still she lingered near him. And then, though, in all her
very restricted intercourse with such English people as she met, she
never ceased to ridicule things English, yet she dreaded a return to
her own country. In her heart of hearts she liked the somewhat stupid
tranquillity of the life she saw, comparing it with the rough tempests
of her past days. Mrs Pipkin, she thought, was less intellectual than
any American woman she had ever known; and she was quite sure that no
human being so heavy, so slow, and so incapable of two concurrent
ideas as John Crumb had ever been produced in the United States;--but,
nevertheless, she liked Mrs Pipkin, and almost loved John Crumb. How
different would her life have been could she have met a man who would
have been as true to her as John Crumb was to his Ruby!
She loved Paul Montague with all her heart, and she despised herself
for loving him. How weak he was;--how inefficient; how unable to seize
glorious opportunities; how swathed and swaddled by scruples and
prejudices;--how unlike her own countrymen in quickness of apprehension
and readiness of action! But yet she loved him for his very faults,
telling herself that there was something sweeter in his English
manners than in all the smart intelligence of her own land. The man
had been false to her,--false as hell; had sworn to her and had broken
his oath; had ruined her whole life; had made everything blank before
her by his treachery! But then she also had not been quite true with
him. She had not at first meant to deceive;--nor had he. They had
played a game against each other; and he, with all the inferiority of
his intellect to weigh him down, had won,--because he was a man. She
had much time for thinking, and she thought much about these things. He
could change his love as often as he pleased, and be as good a lover
at the end as ever;--whereas she was ruined by his defection. He could
look about for a fresh flower and boldly seek his honey; whereas she
could only sit and mourn for the sweets of which she had been rifled.
She was not quite sure that such mourning would not be more bitter to
her in California than in Mrs Pipkin's solitary lodgings at Islington.
'So he was Mr Montague's partner,--was he now?' asked Mrs Pipkin a day
or two after their return from the Crumb marriage. For Mr Fisker had
called on Mrs Hurtle, and Mrs Hurtle had told Mrs Pipkin so much. 'To
my thinking now he's a nicer man than Mr Montague.' Mrs Pipkin
perhaps thought that as her lodger had lost one partner she might be
anxious to secure the other;--perhaps felt, too, that it might be well
to praise an American at the expense of an Englishman.
'There's no accounting for tastes, Mrs Pipkin.'
'And that's true, too, Mrs Hurtle.'
'Mr Montague is a gentleman.'
'I always did say that of him, Mrs Hurtle.'
'And Mr Fisker is--an American citizen.' Mrs Hurtle when she said this
was very far gone in tenderness.
'Indeed now!' said Mrs Pipkin, who did not in the least understand the
meaning of her friend's last remark.
'Mr Fisker came to me with tidings from San Francisco which I had not
heard before, and has offered to take me back with him.' Mrs Pipkin's
apron was immediately at her eyes. 'I must go some day, you knew.'
'I suppose you must. I couldn't hope as you'd stay here always. I wish
I could. I never shall forget the comfort it's been. There hasn't been
a week without everything settled; and most ladylike,--most ladylike!
You seem to me, Mrs Hurtle, just as though you had the bank in your
pocket.' All this the poor woman said, moved by her sorrow to speak
the absolute truth.
'Mr Fisker isn't in any way a special friend of mine, but I hear that
he will be taking other ladies with him, and I fancy I might as well
join the party. It will be less dull for me, and I shall prefer
company just at present for many reasons. We shall start on the first
of September.' As this was said about the middle of August there was
still some remnant of comfort for poor Mrs Pipkin. A fortnight gained
was something; and as Mr Fisker had come to England on business, and
as business is always uncertain, there might possibly be further
delay. Then Mrs Hurtle made a further communication to Mrs Pipkin,
which, though not spoken till the latter lady had her hand on the
door, was, perhaps, the one thing which Mrs Hurtle had desired to say.
'By-the-bye, Mrs Pipkin I expect Mr Montague to call to-morrow at
eleven. Just show him up when he comes.' She had feared that unless
some such instructions were given, there might be a little scene at
the door when the gentleman came.
'Mr Montague;--oh! Of course, Mrs Hurtle,--of course. I'll see to it
myself.' Then Mrs Pipkin went away abashed,--feeling that she had made
a great mistake in preferring any other man to Mr Montague, if, after
all, recent difficulties were to be adjusted.
On the following morning Mrs Hurtle dressed herself with almost more
than her usual simplicity, but certainly with not less than her usual
care, and immediately after breakfast seated herself at her desk,
nursing an idea that she would work as steadily for the next hour as
though she expected no special visitor. Of course she did not write a
word of the task which she had prescribed to herself. Of course she
was disturbed in her mind, though she had dictated to herself absolute
She almost knew that she had been wrong even to desire to see him. She
had forgiven him, and what more was there to be said? She had seen the
girl, and had in some fashion approved of her. Her curiosity had been
satisfied, and her love of revenge had been sacrificed. She had no plan
arranged as to what she would now say to him, nor did she at this
moment attempt to make a plan. She could tell him that she was about
to return to San Francisco with Fisker, but she did not know that she
had anything else to say. Then came the knock at the door. Her heart
leaped within her, and she made a last great effort to be tranquil.
She heard the steps on the stairs, and then the door was opened and Mr
Montague was announced by Mrs Pipkin herself. Mrs Pipkin, however,
quite conquered by a feeling of gratitude to her lodger, did not once
look in through the door, nor did she pause a moment to listen at the
keyhole. 'I thought you would come and see me once again before I
went,' said Mrs Hurtle, not rising from her sofa, but putting out her
hand to greet him. 'Sit there opposite, so that we can look at one
another. I hope it has not been a trouble to you.'
'Of course I came when you left word for me to do so.'
'I certainly should not have expected it from any wish of your own.'
'I should not have dared to come, had you not bade me. You know that.'
'I know nothing of the kind;--but as you are here we will not quarrel
as to your motives. Has Miss Carbury pardoned you as yet? Has she
forgiven your sins?'
'We are friends,--if you mean that.'
'Of course you are friends. She only wanted to have somebody to tell
her that somebody had maligned you. It mattered not much who it was.
She was ready to believe any one who would say a good word for you.
Perhaps I wasn't just the person to do it, but I believe even I was
sufficient to serve the turn.'
'Did you say a good word for me?'
'Well; no;' replied Mrs Hurtle. 'I will not boast that I did. I do not
want to tell you fibs at our last meeting. I said nothing good of you.
What could I say of good? But I told her what was quite as serviceable
to you as though I had sung your virtues by the hour without ceasing.
I explained to her how very badly you had behaved to me. I let her
know that from the moment you had seen her, you had thrown me to the
'It was not so, my friend.'
'What did that matter? One does not scruple a lie for a friend, you
know! I could not go into all the little details of your perfidies. I
could not make her understand during one short and rather agonizing
interview how you had allowed yourself to be talked out of your love
for me by English propriety even before you had seen her beautiful
eyes. There was no reason why I should tell her all my disgrace,--
anxious as I was to be of service. Besides, as I put it, she was sure
to be better pleased. But I did tell her how unwillingly you had
spared me an hour of your company;--what a trouble I had been to you;--
how you would have shirked me if you could!'
'Winifred, that is untrue.'
'That wretched journey to Lowestoft was the great crime. Mr Roger
Carbury, who I own is poison to me--'
'You do not know him.'
'Knowing him or not I choose to have my own opinion, sir. I say that
he is poison to me, and I say that he had so stuffed her mind with the
flagrant sin of that journey, with the peculiar wickedness of our
having lived for two nights under the same roof, with the awful fact
that we had travelled together in the same carriage, till that had
become the one stumbling-block on your path to happiness.'
'He never said a word to her of our being there.'
'Who did then? But what matters? She knew it;--and, as the only means
of whitewashing you in her eyes, I did tell her how cruel and how
heartless you had been to me. I did explain how the return of
friendship which you had begun to show me, had been frozen, harder
than Wenham ice, by the appearance of Mr Carbury on the sands. Perhaps
I went a little farther and hinted that the meeting had been arranged
as affording you the easiest means of escape from me.'
'You do not believe that.'
'You see I had your welfare to look after; and the baser your conduct
had been to me, the truer you were in her eyes. Do I not deserve some
thanks for what I did? Surely you would not have had me tell her that
your conduct to me had been that of a loyal, loving gentleman. I
confessed to her my utter despair;--I abased myself in the dust, as a
woman is abased who has been treacherously ill-used, and has failed to
avenge herself. I knew that when she was sure that I was prostrate and
hopeless she would be triumphant and contented. I told her on your
behalf how I had been ground to pieces under your chariot wheels. And
now you have not a word of thanks to give me!'
'Every word you say is a dagger.'
'You know where to go for salve for such skin-deep scratches as I
make. Where am I to find a surgeon who can put together my crushed
bones? Daggers, indeed! Do you not suppose that in thinking of you I
have often thought of daggers? Why have I not thrust one into your
heart, so that I might rescue you from the arms of this puny,
spiritless English girl?' All this time she was still seated, looking
at him, leaning forward towards him with her hands upon her brow.
'But, Paul, I spit out my words to you, like any common woman, not
because they will hurt you, but because I know I may take that
comfort, such as it is, without hurting you. You are uneasy for a
moment while you are here, and I have a cruel pleasure in thinking
that you cannot answer me. But you will go from me to her, and then
will you not be happy? When you are sitting with your arm round her
waist, and when she is playing with your smiles, will the memory of my
words interfere with your joy then? Ask yourself whether the prick
will last longer than the moment. But where am I to go for happiness
and joy? Can you understand what it is to have to live only on
'I wish I could say a word to comfort you.'
'You cannot say a word to comfort me, unless you will unsay all that
you have said since I have been in England. I never expect comfort
again. But, Paul, I will not be cruel to the end. I will tell you all
that I know of my concerns, even though my doing so should justify
your treatment of me. He is not dead.'
'You mean Mr Hurtle.'
'Whom else should I mean? And he himself says that the divorce which
was declared between us was no divorce. Mr Fisker came here to me with
tidings. Though he is not a man whom I specially love,--though I know
that he has been my enemy with you,--I shall return with him to San
'I am told that he is taking Madame Melmotte with him, and Melmotte's
'So I understand. They are adventurers,--as I am, and I do not see why
we should not suit each other.'
'They say also that Fisker will marry Miss Melmotte.'
'Why should I object to that? I shall not be jealous of Mr Fisker's
attentions to the young lady. But it will suit me to have some one to
whom I can speak on friendly terms when I am back in California. I may
have a job of work to do there which will require the backing of some
friends. I shall be hand-and-glove with these people before I have
travelled half across the ocean with them.'
'I hope they will be kind to you,' said Paul.
'No;--but I will be kind to them. I have conquered others by being
kind, but I have never had much kindness myself. Did I not conquer you,
sir, by being gentle and gracious to you? Ah, how kind I was to that
poor wretch, till he lost himself in drink! And then, Paul, I used to
think of better people, perhaps of softer people, of things that should
be clean and sweet and gentle,--of things that should smell of lavender
instead of wild garlic. I would dream of fair, feminine women,--of
women who would be scared by seeing what I saw, who would die rather
than do what I did. And then I met you, Paul, and I said that my dreams
should come true. I ought to have known that it could not be so. I did
not dare quite to tell you all the truth. I know I was wrong, and now
the punishment has come upon me. Well;--I suppose you had better say
good-bye to me. What is the good of putting it off?' Then she rose
from her chair and stood before him with her arms hanging listlessly
by her side.
'God bless you, Winifred!' he said, putting out his hand to her.
'But he won't. Why should he,--if we are right in supposing that they
who do good will be blessed for their good, and those who do evil
cursed for their evil? I cannot do good. I cannot bring myself now not
to wish that you would return to me. If you would come I should care
nothing for the misery of that girl,--nothing, at least nothing now,
for the misery I should certainly bring upon you. Look here;--will you
have this back?' As she asked this she took from out her bosom a small
miniature portrait of himself which he had given her in New York, and
held it towards him.
'If you wish it I will,--of course,' he said.
'I would not part with it for all the gold in California. Nothing on
earth shall ever part me from it. Should I ever marry another man,--as
I may do,--he must take me and this together. While I live it shall be
next my heart. As you know, I have little respect for the proprieties
of life. I do not see why I am to abandon the picture of the man I
love because he becomes the husband of another woman. Having once said
that I love you I shall not contradict myself because you have
deserted me. Paul, I have loved you, and do love you,--oh, with my very
heart of hearts.' So speaking she threw herself into his arms and
covered his face with kisses. 'For one moment you shall not banish me.
For one short minute I will be here. Oh, Paul, my love;--my love!'
All this to him was simply agony--though as she had truly said it was
an agony he would soon forget. But to be told by a woman of her love,--
without being able even to promise love in return,--to be so told while
you are in the very act of acknowledging your love for another woman,--
carries with it but little of the joy of triumph. He did not want to
see her raging like a tigress, as he had once thought might be his
fate; but he would have preferred the continuance of moderate
resentment to this flood of tenderness. Of course he stood with his
arm round her waist, and of course he returned her caresses; but he
did it with such stiff constraint that she at once felt how chill they
were. 'There,' she said, smiling through her bitter tears,--'there; you
are released now, and not even my fingers shall ever be laid upon you
again. If I have annoyed you, at this our last meeting, you must
'No;--but you cut me to the heart.'
'That we can hardly help;--can we? When two persons have made fools of
themselves as we have, there must I suppose be some punishment. Yours
will never be heavy after I am gone. I do not start till the first of
next month because that is the day fixed by our friend, Mr Fisker, and
I shall remain here till then because my presence is convenient to Mrs
Pipkin; but I need not trouble you to come to me again. Indeed it will
be better that you should not. Good-bye.'
He took her by the hand, and stood for a moment looking at her, while
she smiled and gently nodded her head at him. Then he essayed to pull
her towards him as though he would again kiss her. But she repulsed
him, still smiling the while. 'No, sir; no; not again; never again,
never,--never,--never again.' By that time she had recovered her hand
and stood apart from him. 'Good-bye, Paul;--and now go.' Then he turned
round and left the room without uttering a word.
She stood still, without moving a limb, as she listened to his step
down the stairs and to the opening and the closing of the door. Then
hiding herself at the window with the scanty drapery of the curtain
she watched him as he went along the street. When he had turned the
corner she came back to the centre of the room, stood for a moment
with her arms stretched out towards the walls, and then fell prone
upon the floor. She had spoken the very truth when she said that she
had loved him with all her heart.
But that evening she bade Mrs Pipkin drink tea with her and was more
gracious to the poor woman than ever. When the obsequious but still
curious landlady asked some question about Mr Montague, Mrs Hurtle
seemed to speak very freely on the subject of her late lover,--and to
speak without any great pain. They had put their heads together, she
said, and had found that the marriage would not be suitable. Each of
them preferred their own country, and so they had agreed to part. On
that evening Mrs Hurtle made herself more than usually pleasant,
having the children up into her room, and giving them jam and
bread-and-butter. During the whole of the next fortnight she seemed to
take a delight in doing all in her power for Mrs Pipkin and her
family. She gave toys to the children, and absolutely bestowed upon
Mrs Pipkin a new carpet for the drawing-room. Then Mr Fisker came and
took her away with him to America; and Mrs Pipkin was left,--a desolate
but grateful woman.
'They do tell bad things about them Americans,' she said to a friend
in the street, 'and I don't pretend to know. But for a lodger, I only
wish Providence would send me another just like the one I have lost.
She had that good nature about her she liked to see the bairns eating
pudding just as if they was her own.'
I think Mrs Pipkin was right, and that Mrs Hurtle, with all her
faults, was a good-natured woman.
CHAPTER XCVIII - MARIE MELMOTTE'S FATE
In the meantime Marie Melmotte was living with Madame Melmotte in
their lodgings up at Hampstead, and was taking quite a new look out
into the world. Fisker had become her devoted servant,--not with that
old-fashioned service which meant making love, but with perhaps a
truer devotion to her material interests. He had ascertained on her
behalf that she was the undoubted owner of the money which her father
had made over to her on his first arrival in England,--and she also had
made herself mistress of that fact with equal precision. It would have
astonished those who had known her six months since could they now
have seen how excellent a woman of business she had become, and how
capable she was of making the fullest use of Mr Fisker's services. In
doing him justice it must be owned that he kept nothing back from her
of that which he learned, probably feeling that he might best achieve
success in his present project by such honesty,--feeling also, no doubt,
the girl's own strength in discovering truth and falsehood. 'She's her
father's own daughter,' he said one day to Croll in Abchurch Lane;--for
Croll, though he had left Melmotte's employment when he found that his
name had been forged, had now returned to the service of the daughter
in some undefined position, and had been engaged to go with her and
Madame Melmotte to New York.
'Ah; yees,' said Croll, 'but bigger. He vas passionate, and did lose
his 'ead; and vas blow'd up vid bigness.' Whereupon Croll made an
action as though he were a frog swelling himself to the dimensions of
an ox. ''E bursted himself, Mr Fisker. 'E vas a great man; but the
greater he grew he vas always less and less vise. 'E ate so much that
he became too fat to see to eat his vittels.' It was thus that Herr
Croll analysed the character of his late master. 'But Ma'me'selle,--
ah, she is different. She vill never eat too moch, but vill see to eat
alvays.' Thus too he analysed the character of his young mistress.
At first things did not arrange themselves pleasantly between Madame
Melmotte and Marie. The reader will perhaps remember that they were in
no way connected by blood. Madame Melmotte was not Marie's mother,
nor, in the eye of the law, could Marie claim Melmotte as her father.
She was alone in the world, absolutely without a relation, not knowing
even what had been her mother's name,--not even knowing what was her
father's true name, as in the various biographies of the great man
which were, as a matter of course, published within a fortnight of his
death, various accounts were given as to his birth, parentage, and
early history. The general opinion seemed to be that his father had
been a noted coiner in New York,--an Irishman of the name of Melmody,--
and, in one memoir, the probability of the descent was argued from
Melmotte's skill in forgery. But Marie, though she was thus isolated,
and now altogether separated from the lords and duchesses who a few
weeks since had been interested in her career, was the undoubted owner
of the money,--a fact which was beyond the comprehension of Madame
Melmotte. She could understand,--and was delighted to understand,--that
a very large sum of money had been saved from the wreck, and that she
might therefore look forward to prosperous tranquillity for the rest
of her life. Though she never acknowledged so much to herself, she
soon learned to regard the removal of her husband as the end of her
troubles. But she could not comprehend why Marie should claim all the
money as her own. She declared herself to be quite willing to divide
the spoil,--and suggested such an arrangement both to Marie and to
Croll. Of Fisker she was afraid, thinking that the iniquity of giving
all the money to Marie originated with him, in order that he might
obtain it by marrying the girl. Croll, who understood it all
perfectly, told her the story a dozen times,--but quite in vain. She
made a timid suggestion of employing a lawyer on her own behalf, and
was only deterred from doing so by Marie's ready assent to such an
arrangement. Marie's equally ready surrender of any right she might
have to a portion of the jewels which had been saved had perhaps some
effect in softening the elder lady's heart. She thus was in possession
of a treasure of her own,--though a treasure small in comparison with
that of the younger woman; and the younger woman had promised that
in the event of her marriage she would be liberal.
It was distinctly understood that they were both to go to New York
under Mr Fisker's guidance as soon as things should be sufficiently
settled to allow of their departure; and Madame Melmotte was told,
about the middle of August, that their places had been taken for the
3rd of September. But nothing more was told her. She did not as yet
know whether Marie was to go out free or as the affianced bride of
Hamilton Fisker. And she felt herself injured by being left so much in
the dark. She herself was inimical to Fisker, regarding him as a dark,
designing man, who would ultimately swallow up all that her husband
had left behind him,--and trusted herself entirely to Croll, who was
personally attentive to her. Fisker was, of course, going on to San
Francisco. Marie also had talked of crossing the American continent.
But Madame Melmotte was disposed to think that for her, with her
jewels, and such share of the money as Marie might be induced to give
her, New York would be the most fitting residence. Why should she drag
herself across the continent to California? Herr Croll had declared
his purpose of remaining in New York. Then it occurred to the lady
that as Melmotte was a name which might be too well known in New York,
and which it therefore might be wise to change, Croll would do as well
as any other. She and Herr Croll had known each other for a great many
years, and were, she thought, of about the same age. Croll had some
money saved. She had, at any rate, her jewels,--and Croll would probably
be able to get some portion of all that money, which ought to be hers,
if his affairs were made to be identical with her own. So she smiled
upon Croll, and whispered to him; and when she had given Croll two
glasses of Curaçao,--which comforter she kept in her own hands, as
safeguarded almost as the jewels,--then Croll understood her.
But it was essential that she should know what Marie intended to do.
Marie was anything but communicative, and certainly was not in any way
submissive. 'My dear,' she said one day, asking the question in
French, without any preface or apology, 'are you going to be married
to Mr Fisker?'
'What makes you ask that?'
'It is so important I should know. Where am I to live? What am I to
do? What money shall I have? Who will be a friend to me? A woman ought
to know. You will marry Fisker if you like him. Why cannot you tell
'Because I do not know. When I know I will tell you. If you go on
asking me till to-morrow morning I can say no more.'
And this was true. She did not know. It certainly was not Fisker's
fault that she should still be in the dark as to her own destiny, for
he had asked her often enough, and had pressed his suit with all his
eloquence. But Marie had now been wooed so often that she felt the
importance of the step which was suggested to her. The romance of the
thing was with her a good deal worn, and the material view of
matrimony had also been damaged in her sight. She had fallen in love
with Sir Felix Carbury, and had assured herself over and over again
that she worshipped the very ground on which he stood. But she had
taught herself this business of falling in love as a lesson, rather
than felt it. After her father's first attempts to marry her to this
and that suitor because of her wealth,--attempts which she had hardly
opposed amidst the consternation and glitter of the world to which she
was suddenly introduced,--she had learned from novels that it would be
right that she should be in love, and she had chosen Sir Felix as her
idol. The reader knows what had been the end of that episode in her
life. She certainly was not now in love with Sir Felix Carbury. Then
she had as it were relapsed into the hands of Lord Nidderdale,--one of
her early suitors,--and had felt that as love was not to prevail, and
as it would be well that she should marry some one, he might probably
be as good as any other, and certainly better than many others. She
had almost learned to like Lord Nidderdale and to believe that he
liked her, when the tragedy came. Lord Nidderdale had been very
good-natured,--but he had deserted her at last. She had never allowed
herself to be angry with him for a moment. It had been a matter of
course that he should do so. Her fortune was still large, but not
so large as the sum named in the bargain made. And it was moreover
weighted with her father's blood. From the moment of her father's death
she had never dreamed that he would marry her. Why should he? Her
thoughts in reference to Sir Felix were bitter enough;--but as against
Nidderdale they were not at all bitter. Should she ever meet him again
she would shake hands with him and smile,--if not pleasantly as she
thought of the things which were past,--at any rate with good humour.
But all this had not made her much in love with matrimony generally. She
had over a hundred thousand pounds of her own, and, feeling conscious
of her own power in regard to her own money, knowing that she could do
as she pleased with her wealth, she began to look out into life
What could she do with her money, and in what way would she shape her
life, should she determine to remain her own mistress? Were she to
refuse Fisker how should she begin? He would then be banished, and her
only remaining friends, the only persons whose names she would even
know in her own country, would be her father's widow and Herr Croll.
She already began to see Madame Melmotte's purport in reference to
Croll, and could not reconcile herself to the idea of opening an
establishment with them on a scale commensurate with her fortune. Nor
could she settle in her own mind any pleasant position for herself as
a single woman, living alone in perfect independence. She had opinions
of women's rights,--especially in regard to money; and she entertained
also a vague notion that in America a young woman would not need
support so essentially as in England. Nevertheless, the idea of a fine
house for herself in Boston, or Philadelphia,--for in that case she
would have to avoid New York as the chosen residence of Madame
Melmotte,--did not recommend itself to her. As to Fisker himself,--she
certainly liked him. He was not beautiful like Felix Carbury, nor had
he the easy good-humour of Lord Nidderdale. She had seen enough of
English gentlemen to know that Fisker was very unlike them. But she
had not seen enough of English gentlemen to make Fisker distasteful to
her. He told her that he had a big house at San Francisco, and she
certainly desired to live in a big house. He represented himself to be
a thriving man, and she calculated that he certainly would not be
here, in London, arranging her father's affairs, were he not possessed
of commercial importance. She had contrived to learn that, in the
United States, a married woman has greater power over her own money
than in England, and this information acted strongly in Fisker's
favour. On consideration of the whole subject she was inclined to
think that she would do better in the world as Mrs Fisker than as
Marie Melmotte,--if she could see her way clearly in the matter of
her own money.
'I have got excellent berths,' Fisker said to her one morning at
Hampstead. At these interviews, which were devoted first to business
and then to love, Madame Melmotte was never allowed to be present.
'I am to be alone?'
'Oh, yes. There is a cabin for Madame Melmotte and the maid, and a
cabin for you. Everything will be comfortable. And there is another
lady going,--Mrs Hurtle,--whom I think you will like.'
'Has she a husband?'
'Not going with us,' said Mr Fisker evasively.
'But she has one?'
'Well, yes;--but you had better not mention him. He is not exactly all
that a husband should be.'
'Did she not come over here to marry some one else?'--For Marie in the
days of her sweet intimacy with Sir Felix Carbury had heard something
of Mrs Hurtle's story.
'There is a story, and I dare say I shall tell you all about it some
day. But you may be sure I should not ask you to associate with any
one you ought not to know.'
'Oh,--I can take care of myself.'
'No doubt, Miss Melmotte,--no doubt. I feel that quite strongly. But
what I meant to observe was this,--that I certainly should not
introduce a lady whom I aspire to make my own lady to any lady whom a
lady oughtn't to know. I hope I make myself understood, Miss Melmotte.'
'And perhaps I may go on to say that if I could go on board that ship
as your accepted lover, I could do a deal more to make you
comfortable, particularly when you land, than just as a mere friend,
Miss Melmotte. You can't doubt my heart.'
'I don't see why I shouldn't. Gentlemen's hearts are things very much
to be doubted as far as I've seen 'em. I don't think many of 'em have
'em at all.'
'Miss Melmotte, you do not know the glorious west. Your past
experiences have been drawn from this effete and stone-cold country in
which passion is no longer allowed to sway. On those golden shores
which the Pacific washes man is still true,--and woman is still
'Perhaps I'd better wait and see, Mr Fisker.'
But this was not Mr Fisker's view of the case. There might be other
men desirous of being true on those golden shores. 'And then,' said
he, pleading his cause not without skill, 'the laws regulating woman's
property there are just the reverse of those which the greediness of
man has established here. The wife there can claim her share of her
husband's property, but hers is exclusively her own. America is
certainly the country for women,--and especially California.'
'Ah;--I shall find out all about it, I suppose, when I've been there a
'But you would enter San Francisco, Miss Melmotte, under such much
better auspices,--if I may be allowed to say so,--as a married lady or
as a lady just going to be married.'
'Ain't single ladies much thought of in California?'
'It isn't that. Come, Miss Melmotte, you know what I mean.'
'Yes, I do.'
'Let us go in for life together. We've both done uncommon well. I'm
spending 30,000 dollars a year,--at that rate,--in my own house. You'll
see it all. If we put them both together,--what's yours and what's
mine,--we can put our foot out as far as about any one there, I guess.'
'I don't know that I care about putting my foot out. I've seen
something of that already, Mr Fisker. You shouldn't put your foot out
farther than you can draw it in again.'
'You needn't fear me as to that, Miss Melmotte. I shouldn't be able to
touch a dollar of your money. It would be such a triumph to go into
Francisco as man and wife.'
'I shouldn't think of being married till I had been there a while and
looked about me.'
'And seen the house! Well;--there's something in that. The house is all
there, I can tell you. I'm not a bit afraid but what you'll like the
house. But if we were engaged, I could do everything for you. Where
would you be, going into San Francisco all alone? Oh, Miss Melmotte, I
do admire you so much!'
I doubt whether this last assurance had much efficacy. But the
arguments with which it was introduced did prevail to a certain
extent. 'I'll tell you how it must be then,' she said.
'How shall it be?' and as be asked the question he jumped up and put
his arm round her waist.
'Not like that, Mr Fisker,' she said, withdrawing herself. 'It shall
be in this way. You may consider yourself engaged to me.'
'I'm the happiest man on this continent,' he said, forgetting in his
ecstasy that he was not in the United States.
'But if I find when I get to Francisco anything to induce me to change
my mind, I shall change it. I like you very well, but I'm not going to
take a leap in the dark, and I'm not going to marry a pig in a poke.'
'There you're quite right,' he said,--'quite right.'
'You may give it out on board the ship that we're engaged, and I'll
tell Madame Melmotte the same. She and Croll don't mean going any
farther than New York.'
'We needn't break our hearts about that;--need we?'
'It don't much signify. Well;--I'll go on with Mrs Hurtle, if she'll
'Too much delighted she'll be.'
'And she shall be told we're engaged.'
'But if I don't like it when I get to Frisco, as you call it, all the
ropes in California shan't make me do it. Well--yes; you may give me a
kiss I suppose now if you care about it.' And so,--or rather so far,--
Mr Fisker and Marie Melmotte became engaged to each other as man and
After that Mr Fisker's remaining business in England went very
smoothly with him. It was understood up at Hampstead that he was
engaged to Marie Melmotte,--and it soon came to be understood also that
Madame Melmotte was to be married to Herr Croll. No doubt the father
of the one lady and the husband of the other had died so recently as
to make these arrangements subject to certain censorious objections.
But there was a feeling that Melmotte had been so unlike other men,
both in his life and in his death, that they who had been concerned
with him were not to be weighed by ordinary scales. Nor did it much
matter, for the persons concerned took their departure soon after the
arrangement was made, and Hampstead knew them no more.
On the 3rd of September Madame Melmotte, Marie, Mrs Hurtle, Hamilton
K. Fisker, and Herr Croll left Liverpool for New York; and the three
ladies were determined that they never would revisit a country of
which their reminiscences certainly were not happy. The writer of the
present chronicle may so far look forward,--carrying his reader with
him,--as to declare that Marie Melmotte did become Mrs Fisker very
soon after her arrival at San Francisco.
CHAPTER XCIX - LADY CARBURY AND MR BROUNE
When Sir Felix Carbury declared to his friends at the Beargarden that
he intended to devote the next few months of his life to foreign
travel, and that it was his purpose to take with him a Protestant
divine,--as was much the habit with young men of rank and fortune some
years since,--he was not altogether lying. There was indeed a sounder
basis of truth than was usually to be found attached to his
statements. That he should have intended to produce a false impression
was a matter of course,--and nearly equally so that he should have made
his attempt by asserting things which he must have known that no one
would believe. He was going to Germany, and he was going in company
with a clergyman, and it had been decided that he should remain there
for the next twelve months. A representation had lately been made to
the Bishop of London that the English Protestants settled in a certain
commercial town in the north-eastern district of Prussia were without
pastoral aid, and the bishop had stirred himself in the matter. A
clergyman was found willing to expatriate himself, but the income
suggested was very small. The Protestant English population of the
commercial town in question, though pious, was not liberal. It had
come to pass that the 'Morning Breakfast Table' had interested itself
in the matter, having appealed for subscriptions after a manner not
unusual with that paper. The bishop and all those concerned in the
matter had fully understood that if the 'Morning Breakfast Table'
could be got to take the matter up heartily, the thing would be done.
The heartiness had been so complete that it had at last devolved upon
Mr Broune to appoint the clergyman; and, as with all the aid that
could be found, the income was still small, the Rev. Septimus Blake,--a
brand snatched from the burning of Rome,--had been induced to undertake
the maintenance and total charge of Sir Felix Carbury for a
consideration. Mr Broune imparted to Mr Blake all that there was to
know about the baronet, giving much counsel as to the management of
the young man, and specially enjoining on the clergyman that he should
on no account give Sir Felix the means of returning home. It was
evidently Mr Broune's anxious wish that Sir Felix should see as much
as possible of German life, at a comparatively moderate expenditure,
and under circumstances that should be externally respectable if not
absolutely those which a young gentleman might choose for his own
comfort or profit;--but especially that those circumstances should not
admit of the speedy return to England of the young gentleman himself.