Part 3 out of 19
to get people whose judgments we can trust, and if, as in this case,
it should unfortunately happen that the judgment of our critic should
be hostile to the literary pretensions of a personal friend of my own,
I can only lament the accident, and trust that my friend may have
spirit enough to divide me as an individual from that Mr Alf who has
the misfortune to edit a newspaper.'
'It is because you have so trusted me that I am obliged to you,' said
Lady Carbury with her sweetest smile. She did not believe a word that
Mr Alf had said to her. She thought, and thought rightly, that Mr
Alf's Mr Jones had taken direct orders from his editor, as to his
treatment of the 'Criminal Queens.' But she remembered that she
intended to write another book, and that she might perhaps conquer
even Mr Alf by spirit and courage under her present infliction.
It was Lady Carbury's duty on the occasion to say pretty things to
everybody. And she did her duty. But in the midst of it all she was
ever thinking of her son and Marie Melmotte, and she did at last
venture to separate the girl from her mother. Marie herself was not
unwilling to be talked to by Sir Felix. He had never bullied her, had
never seemed to scorn her; and then he was so beautiful! She, poor
girl, bewildered among various suitors, utterly confused by the life
to which she was introduced, troubled by fitful attacks of admonition
from her father, who would again, fitfully, leave her unnoticed for a
week at a time; with no trust in her pseudo-mother--for poor Marie, had
in truth been born before her father had been a married man, and had
never known what was her own mother's fate,--with no enjoyment in her
present life, had come solely to this conclusion, that it would be
well for her to be taken away somewhere by somebody. Many a varied
phase of life had already come in her way. She could just remember the
dirty street in the German portion of New York in which she had been
born and had lived for the first four years of her life, and could
remember too the poor, hardly-treated woman who had been her mother.
She could remember being at sea, and her sickness,--but could not quite
remember whether that woman had been with her. Then she had run about
the streets of Hamburg, and had sometimes been very hungry, sometimes
in rags,--and she had a dim memory of some trouble into which her father
had fallen, and that he was away from her for a time. She had up to
the present splendid moment her own convictions about that absence,
but she had never mentioned them to a human being. Then her father had
married her present mother in Frankfort. That she could remember
distinctly, as also the rooms in which she was then taken to live, and
the fact that she was told that from henceforth she was to be a
Jewess. But there had soon come another change. They went from
Frankfort to Paris, and there they were all Christians. From that time
they had lived in various apartments in the French capital, but had
always lived well. Sometimes there had been a carriage, sometimes
there had been none. And then there came a time in which she was grown
woman enough to understand that her father was being much talked
about. Her father to her had always been alternately capricious and
indifferent rather than cross or cruel, but, just at this period he
was cruel both to her and to his wife. And Madame Melmotte would weep
at times and declare that they were all ruined. Then, at a moment,
they burst out into sudden splendour at Paris. There was an hotel,
with carriages and horses almost unnumbered;--and then there came to
their rooms a crowd of dark, swarthy, greasy men, who were entertained
sumptuously; but there were few women. At this time Marie was hardly
nineteen, and young enough in manner and appearance to be taken for
seventeen. Suddenly again she was told that she was to be taken to
London, and the migration had been effected with magnificence. She was
first taken to Brighton, where the half of an hotel had been hired,
and had then been brought to Grosvenor Square, and at once thrown into
the matrimonial market. No part of her life had been more
disagreeable to her, more frightful, than the first months in which
she had been trafficked for by the Nidderdales and Grassloughs. She
had been too frightened, too much of a coward to object to anything
proposed to her, but still had been conscious of a desire to have some
hand in her own future destiny. Luckily for her, the first attempts at
trafficking with the Nidderdales and Grassloughs had come to nothing;
and at length she was picking up a little courage, and was beginning
to feel that it might be possible to prevent a disposition of herself
which did not suit her own tastes. She was also beginning to think
that there might be a disposition of herself which would suit her own
Felix Carbury was standing leaning against a wall, and she was seated
on a chair close to him. 'I love you better than anyone in the world,'
he said, speaking plainly enough for her to hear, perhaps indifferent
as to the hearing of others.
'Oh, Sir Felix, pray do not talk like that.'
'You knew that before. Now I want you to say whether you will be my
'How can I answer that myself? Papa settles everything.'
'May I go to papa?'
'You may if you like,' she replied in a very low whisper. It was thus
that the greatest heiress of the day, the greatest heiress of any day
if people spoke truly, gave herself away to a man without a penny.
CHAPTER XII - SIR FELIX IN HIS MOTHER'S HOUSE
When all her friends were gone Lady Carbury looked about for her son,--
not expecting to find him, for she knew how punctual was his nightly
attendance at the Beargarden, but still with some faint hope that he
might have remained on this special occasion to tell her of his
fortune. She had watched the whispering, had noticed the cool
effrontery with which Felix had spoken,--for without hearing the words
she had almost known the very moment in which he was asking,--and had
seen the girl's timid face, and eyes turned to the ground, and the
nervous twitching of her hands as she replied. As a woman,
understanding such things, who had herself been wooed, who had at
least dreamed of love, she had greatly disapproved her son's manner.
But yet, if it might be successful, if the girl would put up with
love-making so slight as that, and if the great Melmotte would accept
in return for his money a title so modest as that of her son, how
glorious should her son be to her in spite of his indifference!
'I heard him leave the house before the Melmottes went,' said
Henrietta, when the mother spoke of going up to her son's bedroom.
'He might have stayed to-night. Do you think he asked her?'
'How can I say, mamma?'
'I should have thought you would have been anxious about your brother.
I feel sure he did,--and that she accepted him.'
'If so I hope he will be good to her. I hope he loves her.'
'Why shouldn't he love her as well as any one else? A girl need not be
odious because she has money. There is nothing disagreeable about
'No,--nothing disagreeable. I do not know that she is especially
'Who is? I don't see anybody specially attractive. It seems to me you
are quite indifferent about Felix.'
'Do not say that, mamma.'
'Yes you are. You don't understand all that he might be with this
girl's fortune, and what he must be unless he gets money by marriage.
He is eating us both up.'
'I wouldn't let him do that, mamma.'
'It's all very well to say that, but I have some heart. I love him. I
could not see him starve. Think what he might be with £20,000 a-year!'
'If he is to marry for that only, I cannot think that they will be
'You had better go to bed, Henrietta. You never say a word to comfort
me in all my troubles.'
Then Henrietta went to bed, and Lady Carbury absolutely sat up the
whole night waiting for her son, in order that she might hear his
tidings. She went up to her room, disembarrassed herself of her
finery, and wrapped herself in a white dressing-gown. As she sat
opposite to her glass, relieving her head from its garniture of false
hair, she acknowledged to herself that age was coming on her. She
could hide the unwelcome approach by art,--hide it more completely than
can most women of her age; but, there it was, stealing on her with
short grey hairs over her ears and around her temples, with little
wrinkles round her eyes easily concealed by objectionable cosmetics,
and a look of weariness round the mouth which could only be removed by
that self-assertion of herself which practice had made always possible
to her in company, though it now so frequently deserted her when she
But she was not a woman to be unhappy because she was growing old. Her
happiness, like that of most of us, was ever in the future,--never
reached but always coming. She, however, had not looked for happiness
to love and loveliness, and need not therefore be disappointed on that
score. She had never really determined what it was that might make her
happy,--having some hazy aspiration after social distinction and
literary fame, in which was ever commingled solicitude respecting
money. But at the present moment her great fears and her great hopes
were centred on her son. She would not care how grey might be her
hair, or how savage might be Mr Alf, if her Felix were to marry this
heiress. On the other hand, nothing that pearl-powder or the 'Morning
Breakfast Table' could do would avail anything, unless he could be
extricated from the ruin that now surrounded him. So she went down
into the dining-room, that she might be sure to hear the key in the
door, even should she sleep, and waited for him with a volume of
French memoirs in her hand.
Unfortunate woman! she might have gone to bed and have been duly
called about her usual time, for it was past eight and the full
staring daylight shone into her room when Felix's cab brought him to
the door. The night had been very wretched to her. She had slept, and
the fire had sunk nearly to nothing and had refused to become again
comfortable. She could not keep her mind to her book, and while she
was awake the time seemed to be everlasting. And then it was so
terrible to her that he should be gambling at such hours as these! Why
should he desire to gamble if this girl's fortune was ready to fall
into his hands? Fool, to risk his health, his character, his beauty,
the little money which at this moment of time might be so
indispensable to his great project, for the chance of winning
something which in comparison with Marie Melmotte's money must be
despicable! But at last he came! She waited patiently till he had
thrown aside his hat and coat, and then she appeared at the
dining-room door. She had studied her part for the occasion. She would
not say a harsh word, and now she endeavoured to meet him with a
smile. 'Mother,' he said, 'you up at this hour!' His face was flushed,
and she thought that there was some unsteadiness in his gait. She had
never seen him tipsy, and it would be doubly terrible to her if such
should be his condition.
'I could not go to bed till I had seen you.'
'Why not? why should you want to see me? I'll go to bed now. There'll
be plenty of time by-and-by.'
'Is anything the matter, Felix?'
'Matter,--what should be the matter? There's been a gentle row among the
fellows at the club;--that's all. I had to tell Grasslough a bit of my
mind, and he didn't like it. I didn't mean that he should.'
'There is not going to be any fighting, Felix?'
'What, duelling; oh no,--nothing so exciting as that. Whether somebody
may not have to kick somebody is more than I can say at present. You
must let me go to bed now, for I am about used up.'
'What did Marie Melmotte say to you?'
'Nothing particular.' And he stood with his hand on the door as he
'And what did you say to her?'
'Nothing particular. Good heavens, mother, do you think that a man is
in a condition to talk about such stuff as that at eight o'clock in
the morning, when he has been up all night?'
'If you knew all that I suffer on your behalf you would speak a word
to me,' she said, imploring him, holding him by the arm, and looking
into his purple face and bloodshot eyes. She was sure that he had been
drinking. She could smell it in his breath.
'I must go to the old fellow, of course.'
'She told you to go to her father?'
'As far as I remember, that was about it. Of course, he means to
settle it as he likes. I should say that it's ten to one against me.'
Pulling himself away with some little roughness from his mother's
hold, he made his way up to his own bedroom, occasionally stumbling
against the stairs.
Then the heiress herself had accepted her son! If so, surely the thing
might be done. Lady Carbury recalled to mind her old conviction that a
daughter may always succeed in beating a hard-hearted parent in a
contention about marriage, if she be well in earnest. But then the
girl must be really in earnest, and her earnestness will depend on
that of her lover. In this case, however, there was as yet no reason
for supposing that the great man would object. As far as outward signs
went, the great man had shown some partiality for her son. No doubt it
was Mr Melmotte who had made Sir Felix a director of the great
American Company. Felix had also been kindly received in Grosvenor
Square. And then Sir Felix was Sir Felix,--a real baronet. Mr Melmotte
had no doubt endeavoured to catch this and that lord; but, failing a
lord, why should he not content himself with a baronet? Lady Carbury
thought that her son wanted nothing but money to make him an
acceptable suitor to such a father-in-law as Mr Melmotte;--not money in
the funds, not a real fortune, not so many thousands a-year that could
be settled;--the man's own enormous wealth rendered this unnecessary but
such a one as Mr Melmotte would not like outward palpable signs of
immediate poverty. There should be means enough for present sleekness
and present luxury. He must have a horse to ride, and rings and coats
to wear, and bright little canes to carry, and above all the means of
making presents. He must not be seen to be poor. Fortunately, most
fortunately, Chance had befriended him lately and had given him some
ready money. But if he went on gambling Chance would certainly take it
all away again. For aught that the poor mother knew, Chance might have
done so already. And then again, it was indispensable that he should
abandon the habit of play--at any rate for the present, while his
prospects depended on the good opinions of Mr Melmotte. Of course such
a one as Mr Melmotte could not like gambling at a club, however much
he might approve of it in the City. Why, with such a preceptor to help
him, should not Felix learn to do his gambling on the Exchange, or
among the brokers, or in the purlieus of the Bank? Lady Carbury would
at any rate instigate him to be diligent in his position as director
of the Great Mexican Railway,--which position ought to be the beginning
to him of a fortune to be made on his own account. But what hope could
there be for him if he should take to drink? Would not all hopes be
over with Mr Melmotte should he ever learn that his daughter's lover
reached home and tumbled upstairs to bed between eight and nine
o'clock in the morning?
She watched for his appearance on the following day, and began at once
on the subject.
'Do you know, Felix, I think I shall go down to your cousin Roger for
'To Carbury Manor!' said he, as he eat some devilled kidneys which the
cook had been specially ordered to get for his breakfast. 'I thought
you found it so dull that you didn't mean to go there any more.'
'I never said so, Felix. And now I have a great object.'
'What will Hetta do?'
'Go too--why shouldn't she?'
'Oh; I didn't know. I thought that perhaps she mightn't like it.'
'I don't see why she shouldn't like it. Besides, everything can't give
way to her.'
'Has Roger asked you?'
'No; but I'm sure he'd be pleased to have us if I proposed that we
should all go.'
'Not me, mother!'
'Yes; you especially.'
'Not if I know it, mother. What on earth should I do at Carbury
'Madame Melmotte told me last night that they were all going down to
Caversham to stay three or four days with the Longestaffes. She spoke
of Lady Pomona as quite her particular friend.'
'Oh--h! that explains it all.'
'Explains what, Felix?' said Lady Carbury, who had heard of Dolly
Longestaffe, and was not without some fear that this projected visit
to Caversham might have some matrimonial purpose in reference to that
delightful young heir.
'They say at the club that Melmotte has taken up old Longestaffe's
affairs, and means to put them straight. There's an old property in
Sussex as well as Caversham, and they say that Melmotte is to have
that himself. There's some bother because Dolly, who would do anything
for anybody else, won't join his father in selling. So the Melmottes
are going to Caversham!'
'Madame Melmotte told me so.'
'And the Longestaffes are the proudest people in England.'
'Of course we ought to be at Carbury Manor while they are there. What
can be more natural? Everybody goes out of town at Whitsuntide; and
why shouldn't we run down to the family place?'
'All very natural if you can manage it, mother.'
'And you'll come?'
'If Marie Melmotte goes, I'll be there at any rate for one day and
night,' said Felix.
His mother thought that, for him, the promise had been graciously
CHAPTER XIII - THE LONGESTAFFES
Mr Adolphus Longestaffe, the squire of Caversham in Suffolk, and of
Pickering Park in Sussex, was closeted on a certain morning for the
best part of an hour with Mr Melmotte in Abchurch Lane, had there
discussed all his private affairs, and was about to leave the room
with a very dissatisfied air. There are men,--and old men too, who ought
to know the world,--who think that if they can only find the proper
Medea to boil the cauldron for them, they can have their ruined
fortunes so cooked that they shall come out of the pot fresh and new
and unembarrassed. These great conjurors are generally sought for in
the City; and in truth the cauldrons are kept boiling though the
result of the process is seldom absolute rejuvenescence. No greater
Medea than Mr Melmotte had ever been potent in money matters, and Mr
Longestaffe had been taught to believe that if he could get the
necromancer even to look at his affairs everything would be made right
for him. But the necromancer had explained to the squire that property
could not be created by the waving of any wand or the boiling of any
cauldron. He, Mr Melmotte, could put Mr Longestaffe in the way of
realising property without delay, of changing it from one shape into
another, or could find out the real market value of the property in
question; but he could create nothing. 'You have only a life interest,
'No; only a life interest. That is customary with family estates in
this country, Mr Melmotte.'
'Just so. And therefore you can dispose of nothing else. Your son, of
course, could join you, and then you could sell either one estate or
'There is no question of selling Caversham, sir. Lady Pomona and I
'Your son will not join you in selling the other place?'
'I have not directly asked him; but he never does do anything that I
wish. I suppose you would not take Pickering Park on a lease for my
'I think not, Mr Longestaffe. My wife would not like the uncertainty.'
Then Mr Longestaffe took his leave with a feeling of outraged
aristocratic pride. His own lawyer would almost have done as much for
him, and he need not have invited his own lawyer as a guest to
Caversham,--and certainly not his own lawyer's wife and daughter. He had
indeed succeeded in borrowing a few thousand pounds from the great man
at a rate of interest which the great man's head clerk was to arrange,
and this had been effected simply on the security of the lease of a
house in town. There had been an ease in this, an absence of that
delay which generally took place between the expression of his desire
for money and the acquisition of it,--and this had gratified him. But he
was already beginning to think that he might pay too dearly for that
gratification. At the present moment, too, Mr Melmotte was odious to
him for another reason. He had condescended to ask Mr Melmotte to make
him a director of the South Central Pacific and Mexican Railway, and
he,--Adolphus Longestaffe of Caversham,--had had his request refused! Mr
Longestaffe had condescended very low. 'You have made Lord Alfred
Grendall one!' he had said in a complaining tone. Then Mr Melmotte
explained that Lord Alfred possessed peculiar aptitudes for the
position. 'I'm sure I could do anything that he does,' said Mr
Longestaffe. Upon this Mr Melmotte, knitting his brows and speaking
with some roughness, replied that the number of directors required was
completed. Since he had had two duchesses at his house Mr Melmotte was
beginning to feel that he was entitled to bully any mere commoner,
especially a commoner who could ask him for a seat at his board.
Mr Longestaffe was a tall, heavy man, about fifty, with hair and
whiskers carefully dyed, whose clothes were made with great care,
though they always seemed to fit him too tightly, and who thought very
much of his personal appearance. It was not that he considered himself
handsome, but that he was specially proud of his aristocratic bearing.
He entertained an idea that all who understood the matter would
perceive at a single glance that he was a gentleman of the first
water, and a man of fashion. He was intensely proud of his position in
life, thinking himself to be immensely superior to all those who
earned their bread. There were no doubt gentlemen of different
degrees, but the English gentleman of gentlemen was he who had land,
and family title-deeds, and an old family place, and family portraits,
and family embarrassments, and a family absence of any usual
employment. He was beginning even to look down upon peers, since so
many men of much less consequence than himself had been made lords;
and, having stood and been beaten three or four times for his county,
he was of opinion that a seat in the House was rather a mark of bad
breeding. He was a silly man, who had no fixed idea that it behoved
him to be of use to any one; but, yet, he had compassed a certain
nobility of feeling. There was very little that his position called
upon him to do, but there was much that it forbad him to do. It was
not allowed to him to be close in money matters. He could leave his
tradesmen's bills unpaid till the men were clamorous, but he could not
question the items in their accounts. He could be tyrannical to his
servants, but he could not make inquiry as to the consumption of his
wines in the servants' hall. He had no pity for his tenants in regard
to game, but he hesitated much as to raising their rent. He had his
theory of life and endeavoured to live up to it; but the attempt had
hardly brought satisfaction to himself or to his family.
At the present moment, it was the great desire of his heart to sell
the smaller of his two properties and disembarrass the other. The debt
had not been altogether of his own making, and the arrangement would,
he believed, serve his whole family as well as himself. It would also
serve his son, who was blessed with a third property of his own which
he had already managed to burden with debt. The father could not bear
to be refused; and he feared that his son would decline. 'But Adolphus
wants money as much as any one,' Lady Pomona had said. He had shaken
his head, and pished and pshawed. Women never could understand
anything about money. Now he walked down sadly from Mr Melmotte's
office and was taken in his brougham to his lawyer's chambers in
Lincoln's Inn. Even for the accommodation of those few thousand pounds
he was forced to condescend to tell his lawyers that the title-deeds
of his house in town must be given up. Mr Longestaffe felt that the
world in general was very hard on him.
'What on earth are we to do with them?' said Sophia, the eldest Miss
Longestaffe, to her mother.
'I do think it's a shame of papa,' said Georgiana, the second
daughter. 'I certainly shan't trouble myself to entertain them.'
'Of course you will leave them all on my hands,' said Lady Pomona
'But what's the use of having them?' urged Sophia. 'I can understand
going to a crush at their house in town when everybody else goes. One
doesn't speak to them, and need not know them afterwards. As to the
girl, I'm sure I shouldn't remember her if I were to see her.'
'It would be a fine thing if Adolphus would marry her,' said Lady
'Dolly will never marry anybody,' said Georgiana. 'The idea of his
taking the trouble of asking a girl to have him! Besides, he won't
come down to Caversham; cart-ropes wouldn't bring him. If that is to
be the game, mamma, it is quite hopeless.'
'Why should Dolly marry such a creature as that?' asked Sophia.
'Because everybody wants money,' said Lady Pomona. 'I'm sure I don't
know what your papa is to do, or how it is that there never is any
money for anything, I don't spend it.'
'I don't think that we do anything out of the way,' said Sophia. 'I
haven't the slightest idea what papa's income is; but if we're to live
at all, I don't know how we are to make a change.'
'It's always been like this ever since I can remember,' said
Georgiana, 'and I don't mean to worry about it any more. I suppose
it's just the same with other people, only one doesn't know it.'
'But, my dears--when we are obliged to have such people as these
'As for that, if we didn't have them somebody else would. I shan't
trouble myself about them, I suppose it will only be for two days.'
'My dear, they're coming for a week!'
'Then papa must take them about the country, that's all. I never did
hear of anything so absurd. What good can they do papa by being down
'He is wonderfully rich,' said Lady Pomona.
'But I don't suppose he'll give papa his money,' continued Georgiana.
'Of course I don't pretend to understand, but I think there is more
fuss about these things than they deserve. If papa hasn't got money
to live at home, why doesn't he go abroad for a year? The Sidney
Beauchamps did that, and the girls had quite a nice time of it in
Florence. It was there that Clara Beauchamp met young Lord Liffey. I
shouldn't at all mind that kind of thing, but I think it quite
horrible to have these sort of people brought down upon us at
Caversham. No one knows who they are, or where they came from, or
what they'll turn to.' So spoke Georgiana, who among the Longestaffes
was supposed to have the strongest head, and certainly the sharpest
This conversation took place in the drawing-room of the Longestaffes'
family town-house in Bruton Street. It was not by any means a charming
house, having but few of those luxuries and elegancies which have been
added of late years to newly-built London residences. It was gloomy
and inconvenient, with large drawing-rooms, bad bedrooms, and very
little accommodation for servants. But it was the old family
town-house, having been inhabited by three or four generations of
Longestaffes, and did not savour of that radical newness which
prevails, and which was peculiarly distasteful to Mr Longestaffe.
Queen's Gate and the quarters around were, according to Mr
Longestaffe, devoted to opulent tradesmen. Even Belgrave Square,
though its aristocratic properties must be admitted, still smelt of
the mortar. Many of those living there and thereabouts had never
possessed in their families real family town-houses. The old streets
lying between Piccadilly and Oxford Street, one or two well-known
localities to the south and north of these boundaries, were the proper
sites for these habitations. When Lady Pomona, instigated by some
friend of high rank but questionable taste, had once suggested a
change to Eaton Square, Mr Longestaffe had at once snubbed his wife.
If Bruton Street wasn't good enough for her and the girls then they
might remain at Caversham. The threat of remaining at Caversham had
been often made, for Mr Longestaffe, proud as he was of his
town-house, was, from year to year, very anxious to save the expense
of the annual migration. The girls' dresses and the girls' horses, his
wife's carriage and his own brougham, his dull London dinner-parties,
and the one ball which it was always necessary that Lady Pomona should
give, made him look forward to the end of July, with more dread than
to any other period. It was then that he began to know what that
year's season would cost him. But he had never yet been able to keep
his family in the country during the entire year. The girls, who as
yet knew nothing of the Continent beyond Paris, had signified their
willingness to be taken about Germany and Italy for twelve months, but
had shown by every means in their power that they would mutiny against
any intention on their father's part to keep them at Caversham during
the London season.
Georgiana had just finished her strong-minded protest against the
Melmottes, when her brother strolled into the room. Dolly did not
often show himself in Bruton Street. He had rooms of his own, and
could seldom even be induced to dine with his family. His mother wrote
to him notes without end,--notes every day, pressing invitations of all
sorts upon him; would he come and dine; would he take them to the
theatre; would he go to this ball; would he go to that evening-party?
These Dolly barely read, and never answered. He would open them,
thrust them into some pocket, and then forget them. Consequently his
mother worshipped him; and even his sisters, who were at any rate
superior to him in intellect, treated him with a certain deference. He
could do as he liked, and they felt themselves to be slaves, bound
down by the dulness of the Longestaffe regime. His freedom was grand
to their eyes, and very enviable, although they were aware that he had
already so used it as to impoverish himself in the midst of his
'My dear Adolphus,' said the mother, 'this is so nice of you.'
'I think it is rather nice,' said Dolly, submitting himself to be
'Oh Dolly, whoever would have thought of seeing you?' said Sophia.
'Give him some tea,' said his mother. Lady Pomona was always having
tea from four o'clock till she was taken away to dress for dinner.
'I'd sooner have soda and brandy,' said Dolly.
'My darling boy!'
'I didn't ask for it, and I don't expect to get it; indeed I don't
want it. I only said I'd sooner have it than tea. Where's the
governor?' They all looked at him with wondering eyes. There must be
something going on more than they had dreamed of, when Dolly asked to
see his father.
'Papa went out in the brougham immediately after lunch,' said Sophia
'I'll wait a little for him,' said Dolly, taking out his watch.
'Do stay and dine with us,' said Lady Pomona.
'I could not do that, because I've got to go and dine with some
'Some fellow! I believe you don't know where you're going,' said
'My fellow knows. At least he's a fool if he don't.'
'Adolphus,' began Lady Pomona very seriously, 'I've got a plan and I
want you to help me.'
'I hope there isn't very much to do in it, mother.'
'We're all going to Caversham, just for Whitsuntide, and we
particularly want you to come.'
'By George! no; I couldn't do that.'
'You haven't heard half. Madame Melmotte and her daughter are coming.'
'The d---- they are!' ejaculated Dolly.
'Dolly!' said Sophia, 'do remember where you are.'
'Yes I will;--and I'll remember too where I won't be. I won't go to
Caversham to meet old mother Melmotte.'
'My dear boy,' continued the mother, 'do you know that Miss Melmotte
will have twenty thousand a year the day she marries; and that in all
probability her husband will some day be the richest man in Europe?'
'Half the fellows in London are after her,' said Dolly.
'Why shouldn't you be one of them? She isn't going to stay in the
same house with half the fellows in London,' suggested Georgiana. 'If
you've a mind to try it you'll have a chance which nobody else can
have just at present.'
'But I haven't any mind to try it. Good gracious me;--oh dear! it isn't
at all in my way, mother.'
'I knew he wouldn't,' said Georgiana.
'It would put everything so straight,' said Lady Pomona.
'They'll have to remain crooked if nothing else will put them
straight. There's the governor. I heard his voice. Now for a row.'
Then Mr Longestaffe entered the room.
'My dear,' said Lady Pomona, 'here's Adolphus come to see us.' The
father nodded his head at his son but said nothing. 'We want him to
stay and dine, but he's engaged.'
'Though he doesn't know where,' said Sophia.
'My fellow knows;--he keeps a book. I've got a letter, sir, ever so
long, from those fellows in Lincoln's Inn. They want me to come and
see you about selling something; so I've come. It's an awful bore,
because I don't understand anything about it. Perhaps there isn't
anything to be sold. If so I can go away again, you know.'
'You'd better come with me into the study,' said the father. 'We
needn't disturb your mother and sisters about business.' Then the
squire led the way out of the room, and Dolly followed, making a
woeful grimace at his sisters. The three ladies sat over their tea for
about half-an-hour, waiting,--not the result of the conference, for with
that they did not suppose that they would be made acquainted,--but
whatever signs of good or evil might be collected from the manner and
appearance of the squire when he should return to them. Dolly they did
not expect to see again,--probably for a month. He and the squire never
did come together without quarrelling, and careless as was the young
man in every other respect, he had hitherto been obdurate as to his
own rights in any dealings which he had with his father. At the end of
the half-hour Mr Longestaffe returned to the drawing-room, and at once
pronounced the doom of the family. 'My dear,' he said, 'we shall not
return from Caversham to London this year.' He struggled hard to
maintain a grand dignified tranquillity as he spoke, but his voice
quivered with emotion.
'Papa!' screamed Sophia.
'My dear, you don't mean it,' said Lady Pomona.
'Of course papa doesn't mean it,' said Georgiana, rising to her feet.
'I mean it accurately and certainly,' said Mr Longestaffe. 'We go to
Caversham in about ten days, and we shall not return from Caversham to
London this year.'
'Our ball is fixed,' said Lady Pomona.
'Then it must be unfixed.' So saying, the master of the house left the
drawing-room and descended to his study.
The three ladies, when left to deplore their fate, expressed their
opinions as to the sentence which had been pronounced very strongly.
But the daughters were louder in their anger than was their mother.
'He can't really mean it,' said Sophia.
'He does,' said Lady Pomona, with tears in her eyes.
'He must unmean it again;--that's all,' said Georgiana. 'Dolly has said
something to him very rough, and he resents it upon us. Why did he
bring us up at all if he means to take us down before the season has
'I wonder what Adolphus has said to him. Your papa is always hard upon
'Dolly can take care of himself,' said Georgiana, 'and always does do
so. Dolly does not care for us.'
'Not a bit,' said Sophia.
'I'll tell you what you must do, mamma. You mustn't stir from this at
all. You must give up going to Caversham altogether, unless he
promises to bring us back. I won't stir;--unless he has me carried out
of the house.'
'My dear, I couldn't say that to him.'
'Then I will. To go and be buried down in that place for a whole year
with no one near us but the rusty old bishop and Mr Carbury, who is
rustier still. I won't stand it. There are some sort of things that
one ought not to stand. If you go down I shall stay up with the
Primeros. Mrs Primero would have me I know. It wouldn't be nice of
course. I don't like the Primeros. I hate the Primeros. Oh yes;--it's
quite true; I know that as well as you, Sophia; they are vulgar; but
not half so vulgar, mamma, as your friend Madame Melmotte.'
'That's ill-natured, Georgiana. She is not a friend of mine.'
'But you're going to have her down at Caversham. I can't think what
made you dream of going to Caversham just now, knowing as you do how
hard papa is to manage.'
'Everybody has taken to going out of town at Whitsuntide, my dear.'
'No, mamma; everybody has not. People understand too well the trouble
of getting up and down for that. The Primeros aren't going down. I
never heard of such a thing in all my life. What does he expect is to
become of us? If he wants to save money why doesn't he shut Caversham
up altogether and go abroad? Caversham costs a great deal more than is
spent in London, and it's the dullest house, I think, in all England.'
The family party in Bruton Street that evening was not very gay.
Nothing was being done, and they sat gloomily in each other's company.
Whatever mutinous resolutions might be formed and carried out by the
ladies of the family, they were not brought forward on that occasion.
The two girls were quite silent, and would not speak to their father,
and when he addressed them they answered simply by monosyllables. Lady
Pomona was ill, and sat in a corner of a sofa, wiping her eyes. To her
had been imparted upstairs the purport of the conversation between
Dolly and his father. Dolly had refused to consent to the sale of
Pickering unless half the produce of the sale were to be given to him
at once. When it had been explained to him that the sale would be
desirable in order that the Caversham property might be freed from
debt, which Caversham property would eventually be his, he replied
that he also had an estate of his own which was a little mortgaged and
would be the better for money. The result seemed to be that Pickering
could not be sold;--and, as a consequence of that, Mr Longestaffe had
determined that there should be no more London expenses that year.
The girls, when they got up to go to bed, bent over him and kissed his
head, as was their custom. There was very little show of affection in
the kiss. 'You had better remember that what you have to do in town
must be done this week,' he said. They heard the words, but marched in
stately silence out of the room without deigning to notice them.
CHAPTER XIV - CARBURY MANOR
'I don't think it quite nice, mamma; that's all. Of course if you have
made up your mind to go, I must go with you.'
'What on earth can be more natural than that you should go to your own
'You know what I mean, mamma.'
'It's done now, my dear, and I don't think there is anything at all in
what you say.' This little conversation arose from Lady Carbury's
announcement to her daughter of her intention of soliciting the
hospitality of Carbury Manor for the Whitsun week. It was very
grievous to Henrietta that she should be taken to the house of a man
who was in love with her, even though he was her cousin. But she had
no escape. She could not remain in town by herself, nor could she even
allude to her grievance to any one but her mother. Lady Carbury, in
order that she might be quite safe from opposition, had posted the
following letter to her cousin before she spoke to her daughter:--
Welbeck Street, 24th April, 18--.
My dear Roger,
We know how kind you are and how sincere, and that if what I am
going to propose doesn't suit you'll say so at once. I have been
working very hard too hard indeed, and I feel that nothing will do
me so much real good as getting into the country for a day or two.
Would you take us for a part of Whitsun week? We would come down
on the 20th May and stay over the Sunday if you would keep us.
Felix says he would run down though he would not trouble you for
so long a time as we talk of staying.
I'm sure you must have been glad to hear of his being put upon
that Great American Railway Board as a Director. It opens a new
sphere of life to him, and will enable him to prove that he can
make himself useful. I think it was a great confidence to place in
one so young.
Of course you will say so at once if my little proposal interferes
with any of your plans, but you have been so very very kind to us
that I have no scruple in making it.
Henrietta joins with me in kind love.
Your affectionate cousin,
There was much in this letter that disturbed and even annoyed Roger
Carbury. In the first place he felt that Henrietta should not be
brought to his house. Much as he loved her, dear as her presence to
him always was, he hardly wished to have her at Carbury unless she
would come with a resolution to be its future mistress. In one respect
he did Lady Carbury an injustice. He knew that she was anxious to
forward his suit, and he thought that Henrietta was being brought to
his house with that object. He had not heard that the great heiress
was coming into his neighbourhood, and therefore knew nothing of Lady
Carbury's scheme in that direction. He was, too, disgusted by the
ill-founded pride which the mother expressed at her son's position as
a director. Roger Carbury did not believe in the Railway. He did not
believe in Fisker, nor in Melmotte, and certainly not in the Board
generally. Paul Montague had acted in opposition to his advice in
yielding to the seductions of Fisker. The whole thing was to his mind
false, fraudulent, and ruinous. Of what nature could be a Company
which should have itself directed by such men as Lord Alfred Grendall
and Sir Felix Carbury? And then as to their great Chairman, did not
everybody know, in spite of all the duchesses, that Mr Melmotte was a
gigantic swindler? Although there was more than one immediate cause
for bitterness between them, Roger loved Paul Montague well and could
not bear with patience the appearance of his friend's name on such a
list. And now he was asked for warm congratulations because Sir Felix
Carbury was one of the Board! He did not know which to despise most,
Sir Felix for belonging to such a Board, or the Board for having such
a director. 'New sphere of life!' he said to himself. 'The only proper
sphere for them all would be Newgate!'
And there was another trouble. He had asked Paul Montague to come to
Carbury for this special week, and Paul had accepted the invitation.
With the constancy, which was perhaps his strongest characteristic, he
clung to his old affection for the man. He could not bear the idea of
a permanent quarrel, though he knew that there must be a quarrel if
the man interfered with his dearest hopes. He had asked him down to
Carbury intending that the name of Henrietta Carbury should not be
mentioned between them;--and now it was proposed to him that Henrietta
Carbury should be at the Manor House at the very time of Paul's visit!
He made up his mind at once that he must tell Paul not to come.
He wrote his two letters at once. That to Lady Carbury was very short.
He would be delighted to see her and Henrietta at the time named,--and
would be very glad should it suit Felix to come also. He did not say a
word about the Board, or the young man's probable usefulness in his
new sphere of life. To Montague his letter was longer. 'It is always
best to be open and true,' he said. 'Since you were kind enough to say
that you would come to me, Lady Carbury has proposed to visit me just
at the same time and to bring her daughter. After what has passed
between us I need hardly say that I could not make you both welcome
here together. It is not pleasant to me to have to ask you to postpone
your visit, but I think you will not accuse me of a want of
hospitality towards you.' Paul wrote back to say that he was sure that
there was no want of hospitality, and that he would remain in town.
Suffolk is not especially a picturesque county, nor can it be said
that the scenery round Carbury was either grand or beautiful; but
there were little prettinesses attached to the house itself and the
grounds around it which gave it a charm of its own. The Carbury River,--
so called, though at no place is it so wide but that an active
schoolboy might jump across it,--runs, or rather creeps into the
Waveney, and in its course is robbed by a moat which surrounds Carbury
Manor House. The moat has been rather a trouble to the proprietors,
and especially so to Roger, as in these days of sanitary
considerations it has been felt necessary either to keep it clean with
at any rate moving water in it, or else to fill it up and abolish it
altogether. That plan of abolishing it had to be thought of and was
seriously discussed about ten years since; but then it was decided
that such a proceeding would altogether alter the character of the
house, would destroy the gardens, and would create a waste of mud all
round the place which it would take years to beautify, or even to make
endurable. And then an important question had been asked by an
intelligent farmer who had long been a tenant on the property; 'Fill
un oop;--eh, eh; sooner said than doone, squoire. Where be the stoof to
come from?' The squire, therefore, had given up that idea, and instead
of abolishing his moat had made it prettier than ever. The high road
from Bungay to Beccles ran close to the house,--so close that the gable
ends of the building were separated from it only by the breadth of the
moat. A short, private road, not above a hundred yards in length, led
to the bridge which faced the front door. The bridge was old, and
high, with sundry architectural pretensions, and guarded by iron gates
in the centre, which, however, were very rarely closed. Between the
bridge and the front door there was a sweep of ground just sufficient
for the turning of a carriage, and on either side of this the house
was brought close to the water, so that the entrance was in a recess,
or irregular quadrangle, of which the bridge and moat formed one side.
At the back of the house there were large gardens screened from the
road by a wall ten feet high, in which there were yew trees and
cypresses said to be of wonderful antiquity. The gardens were partly
inside the moat, but chiefly beyond them, and were joined by two
bridges a foot bridge and one with a carriage way,--and there was
another bridge at the end of the house furthest from the road, leading
from the back door to the stables and farmyard.
The house itself had been built in the time of Charles II., when that
which we call Tudor architecture was giving way to a cheaper, less
picturesque, though perhaps more useful form. But Carbury Manor House,
through the whole county, had the reputation of being a Tudor
building. The windows were long, and for the most part low, made with
strong mullions, and still contained small, old-fashioned panes; for
the squire had not as yet gone to the expense of plate glass. There
was one high bow window, which belonged to the library, and which
looked out on to the gravel sweep, at the left of the front door as
you entered it. All the other chief rooms faced upon the garden. The
house itself was built of a stone that had become buff, or almost
yellow, with years, and was very pretty. It was still covered with
tiles, as were all the attached buildings. It was only two stories
high, except at the end, where the kitchens were placed and the
offices, which thus rose above the other part of the edifice. The
rooms throughout were low, and for the most part long and narrow, with
large wide fireplaces and deep wainscotings. Taking it altogether, one
would be inclined to say, that it was picturesque rather than
comfortable. Such as it was its owner was very proud of it,--with a
pride of which he never spoke to any one, which he endeavoured
studiously to conceal, but which had made itself known to all who knew
him well. The houses of the gentry around him were superior to his in
material comfort and general accommodation, but to none of them
belonged that thoroughly established look of old county position which
belonged to Carbury. Bundlesham, where the Primeros lived, was the
finest house in that part of the county, but it looked as if it had
been built within the last twenty years. It was surrounded by new
shrubs and new lawns, by new walls and new out-houses, and savoured of
trade;--so at least thought Roger Carbury, though he never said the
words. Caversham was a very large mansion, built in the early part of
George III's reign, when men did care that things about them should be
comfortable, but did not care that they should be picturesque. There
was nothing at all to recommend Caversham but its size. Eardly Park,
the seat of the Hepworths, had, as a park, some pretensions. Carbury
possessed nothing that could be called a park, the enclosures beyond
the gardens being merely so many home paddocks. But the house of
Eardly was ugly and bad. The Bishop's palace was an excellent
gentleman's residence, but then that too was comparatively modern, and
had no peculiar features of its own. Now Carbury Manor House was
peculiar, and in the eyes of its owner was pre-eminently beautiful.
It often troubled him to think what would come of the place when he
was gone. He was at present forty years old, and was perhaps as
healthy a man as you could find in the whole county. Those around who
had known him as he grew into manhood among them, especially the
farmers of the neighbourhood, still regarded him as a young man. They
spoke of him at the county fairs as the young squire. When in his
happiest moods he could be almost a boy, and he still had something of
old-fashioned boyish reverence for his elders. But of late there had
grown up a great care within his breast,--a care which does not often,
perhaps in these days bear so heavily on men's hearts as it used to
do. He had asked his cousin to marry him,--having assured himself with
certainty that he did love her better than any other woman,--and she had
declined. She had refused him more than once, and he believed her
implicitly when she told him that she could not love him. He had a way
of believing people, especially when such belief was opposed to his
own interests, and had none of that self-confidence which makes a man
think that if opportunity be allowed him he can win a woman even in
spite of herself. But if it were fated that he should not succeed with
Henrietta, then,--so he felt assured,--no marriage would now be possible
to him. In that case he must look out for an heir, and could regard
himself simply as a stop-gap among the Carburys. In that case he could
never enjoy the luxury of doing the best he could with the property in
order that a son of his own might enjoy it.
Now Sir Felix was the next heir. Roger was hampered by no entail, and
could leave every acre of the property as he pleased. In one respect
the natural succession to it by Sir Felix would generally be
considered fortunate. It had happened that a title had been won in a
lower branch of the family, and were this succession to take place the
family title and the family property would go together. No doubt to
Sir Felix himself such an arrangement would seem to be the most proper
thing in the world,--as it would also to Lady Carbury were it not that
she looked to Carbury Manor as the future home of another child. But
to all this the present owner of the property had very strong
objections. It was not only that he thought ill of the baronet himself,--
so ill as to feel thoroughly convinced that no good could come from
that quarter,--but he thought ill also of the baronetcy itself. Sir
Patrick, to his thinking, had been altogether unjustifiable in
accepting an enduring title, knowing that he would leave behind him no
property adequate for its support. A baronet, so thought Roger
Carbury, should be a rich man, rich enough to grace the rank which he
assumed to wear. A title, according to Roger's doctrine on such
subjects, could make no man a gentleman, but, if improperly worn,
might degrade a man who would otherwise be a gentleman. He thought
that a gentleman, born and bred, acknowledged as such without doubt,
could not be made more than a gentleman by all the titles which the
Queen could give. With these old-fashioned notions Roger hated the
title which had fallen upon a branch of his family. He certainly would
not leave his property to support the title which Sir Felix
unfortunately possessed. But Sir Felix was the natural heir, and this
man felt himself constrained, almost as by some divine law, to see
that his land went by natural descent. Though he was in no degree
fettered as to its disposition, he did not presume himself to have
more than a life interest in the estate. It was his duty to see that
it went from Carbury to Carbury as long as there was a Carbury to hold
it, and especially his duty to see that it should go from his hands,
at his death, unimpaired in extent or value. There was no reason why
he should himself die for the next twenty or thirty years,--but were he
to die Sir Felix would undoubtedly dissipate the acres, and then there
would be an end of Carbury. But in such case he, Roger Carbury, would
at any rate have done his duty. He knew that no human arrangements can
be fixed, let the care in making them be ever so great. To his
thinking it would be better that the estate should be dissipated by a
Carbury than held together by a stranger. He would stick to the old
name while there was one to bear it, and to the old family while a
member of it was left. So thinking, he had already made his will,
leaving the entire property to the man whom of all others he most
despised, should he himself die without child.
In the afternoon of the day on which Lady Carbury was expected, he
wandered about the place thinking of all this. How infinitely better
it would be that he should have an heir of his own! How wonderfully
beautiful would the world be to him if at last his cousin would
consent to be his wife! How wearily insipid must it be if no such
consent could be obtained from her! And then he thought much of her
welfare too. In very truth he did not like Lady Carbury. He saw
through her character, judging her with almost absolute accuracy. The
woman was affectionate, seeking good things for others rather than for
herself; but she was essentially worldly, believing that good could
come out of evil, that falsehood might in certain conditions be better
than truth, that shams and pretences might do the work of true
service, that a strong house might be built upon the sand! It was
lamentable to him that the girl he loved should be subjected to this
teaching, and live in an atmosphere so burdened with falsehood. Would
not the touch of pitch at last defile her? In his heart of hearts he
believed that she loved Paul Montague; and of Paul himself he was
beginning to fear evil. What but a sham could be a man who consented
to pretend to sit as one of a Board of Directors to manage an enormous
enterprise with such colleagues as Lord Alfred Grendall and Sir Felix
Carbury, under the absolute control of such a one as Mr Augustus
Melmotte? Was not this building a house upon the sand with a
vengeance? What a life it would be for Henrietta Carbury were she to
marry a man striving to become rich without labour and without
capital, and who might one day be wealthy and the next a beggar,--a city
adventurer, who of all men was to him the vilest and most dishonest?
He strove to think well of Paul Montague, but such was the life which
he feared the young man was preparing for himself.
Then he went into the house and wandered up through the rooms which
the two ladies were to occupy. As their host, a host without a wife or
mother or sister, it was his duty to see that things were comfortable,
but it may be doubted whether he would have been so careful had the
mother been coming alone. In the smaller room of the two the hangings
were all white, and the room was sweet with May flowers; and he
brought a white rose from the hot-house, and placed it in a glass on
the dressing table. Surely she would know who put it there. Then he
stood at the open window, looking down upon the lawn, gazing vacantly
for half an hour, till he heard the wheels of the carriage before the
front door. During that half-hour he resolved that he would try again
as though there had as yet been no repulse.
CHAPTER XV 'YOU SHOULD REMEMBER THAT I AM HIS MOTHER'
'This is so kind of you,' said Lady Carbury, grasping her cousin's
hand as she got out of the carriage.
'The kindness is on your part,' said Roger.
'I felt so much before I dared to ask you to take us. But I did so
long to get into the country, and I do so love Carbury. And--and--'
'Where should a Carbury go to escape from London smoke, but to the
old house? I am afraid Henrietta will find it dull.'
'Oh no,' said Hetta smiling. 'You ought to remember that I am never
dull in the country.'
'The bishop and Mrs Yeld are coming here to dine to-morrow,--and the
'I shall be so glad to meet the bishop once more,' said Lady Carbury.
'I think everybody must be glad to meet him, he is such a dear, good
fellow, and his wife is just as good. And there is another gentleman
coming whom you have never seen.'
'A new neighbour?'
'Yes,--a new neighbour;--Father John Barham, who has come to Beccles as
priest. He has got a little cottage about a mile from here, in this
parish, and does duty both at Beccles and Bungay. I used to know
something of his family.'
'He is a gentleman then?'
'Certainly he is a gentleman. He took his degree at Oxford, and then
became what we call a pervert, and what I suppose they call a convert.
He has not got a shilling in the world beyond what they pay him as a
priest, which I take it amounts to about as much as the wages of a day
labourer. He told me the other day that he was absolutely forced to
buy second-hand clothes.'
'How shocking!' said Lady Carbury, holding up her hands.
'He didn't seem to be at all shocked at telling it. We have got to be
'Will the bishop like to meet him?'
'Why should not the bishop like to meet him? I've told the bishop all
about him, and the bishop particularly wishes to know him. He won't
hurt the bishop. But you and Hetta will find it very dull.'
'I shan't find it dull, Mr Carbury,' said Henrietta.
'It was to escape from the eternal parties that we came down here,'
said Lady Carbury.
She had nevertheless been anxious to hear what guests were expected at
the Manor House. Sir Felix had promised to come down on Saturday, with
the intention of returning on Monday, and Lady Carbury had hoped that
some visiting might be arranged between Caversham and the Manor House,
so that her son might have the full advantage of his closeness to
'I have asked the Longestaffes for Monday,' said Roger.
'They are down here then?'
'I think they arrived yesterday. There is always a flustering breeze
in the air and a perturbation generally through the county when they
come or go, and I think I perceived the effects about four in the
afternoon. They won't come, I dare say.'
'They never do. They have probably a house full of guests, and they
know that my accommodation is limited. I've no doubt they'll ask us on
Tuesday or Wednesday, and if you like we will go.'
'I know they are to have guests,' said Lady Carbury.
'The Melmottes are coming to them.' Lady Carbury, as she made the
announcement, felt that her voice and countenance and self-possession
were failing her, and that she could not mention the thing as she
would any matter that was indifferent to her.
'The Melmottes coming to Caversham!' said Roger, looking at Henrietta,
who blushed with shame as she remembered that she had been brought
into her lover's house solely in order that her brother might have an
opportunity of seeing Marie Melmotte in the country.
'Oh yes,--Madame Melmotte told me. I take it they are very intimate.'
'Mr Longestaffe ask the Melmottes to visit him at Caversham!'
'I should almost as soon have believed that I myself might have been
induced to ask them here.'
'I fancy, Roger, that Mr Longestaffe does want a little pecuniary
'And he condescends to get it in this way! I suppose it will make no
difference soon whom one knows, and whom one doesn't. Things aren't as
they were, of course, and never will be again. Perhaps it's all for
the better;--I won't say it isn't. But I should have thought that such a
man as Mr Longestaffe might have kept such another man as Mr Melmotte
out of his wife's drawing-room.' Henrietta became redder than ever.
Even Lady Carbury flushed up, as she remembered that Roger Carbury
knew that she had taken her daughter to Madame Melmotte's ball. He
thought of this himself as soon as the words were spoken, and then
tried to make some half apology. 'I don't approve of them in London,
you know; but I think they are very much worse in the country.'
Then there was a movement. The ladies were shown into their rooms, and
Roger again went out into the garden. He began to feel that he
understood it all. Lady Carbury had come down to his house in order
that she might be near the Melmottes! There was something in this
which he felt it difficult not to resent. It was for no love of him
that she was there. He had felt that Henrietta ought not to have been
brought to his house; but he could have forgiven that, because her
presence there was a charm to him. He could have forgiven that, even
while he was thinking that her mother had brought her there with the
object of disposing of her. If it were so, the mother's object would
be the same as his own, and such a manoeuvre he could pardon, though
he could not approve. His self-love had to some extent been gratified.
But now he saw that he and his house had been simply used in order
that a vile project of marrying two vile people to each other might be
As he was thinking of all this, Lady Carbury came out to him in the
garden. She had changed her travelling dress, and made herself pretty,
as she well knew how to do. And now she dressed her face in her
sweetest smiles. Her mind, also, was full of the Melmottes, and she
wished to explain to her stern, unbending cousin all the good that
might come to her and hers by an alliance with the heiress. 'I can
understand, Roger,' she said, taking his arm, 'that you should not
like those people.'
'I don't dislike them. How should I dislike people that I never saw? I
dislike those who seek their society simply because they have the
reputation of being rich.'
'No; not meaning you. I don't dislike you, as you know very well,
though I do dislike the fact that you should run after these people. I
was thinking of the Longestaffes then.'
'Do you suppose, my friend, that I run after them for my own
gratification? Do you think that I go to their house because I find
pleasure in their magnificence; or that I follow them down here for
any good that they will do me?'
'I would not follow them at all.'
'I will go back if you bid me, but I must first explain what I mean.
You know my son's condition,--better, I fear, than he does himself.'
Roger nodded assent to this, but said nothing. 'What is he to do? The
only chance for a young man in his position is that he should marry a
girl with money. He is good-looking; you can't deny that.'
'Nature has done enough for him.'
'We must take him as he is. He was put into the army very young, and
was very young when he came into possession of his own small fortune.
He might have done better; but how many young men placed in such
temptations do well? As it is, he has nothing left.'
'I fear not.'
'And therefore is it not imperative that he should marry a girl with
'I call that stealing a girl's money, Lady Carbury.'
'Oh, Roger, how hard you are!'
'A man must be hard or soft,--which is best?'
'With women I think that a little softness has the most effect. I want
to make you understand this about the Melmottes. It stands to reason
that the girl will not marry Felix unless she loves him.'
'But does he love her?'
'Why should he not? Is a girl to be debarred from being loved because
she has money? Of course she looks to be married, and why should she
not have Felix if she likes him best? Cannot you sympathise with my
anxiety so to place him that he shall not be a disgrace to the name
and to the family?'
'We had better not talk about the family, Lady Carbury.'
'But I think so much about it.'
'You will never get me to say that I think the family will be
benefited by a marriage with the daughter of Mr Melmotte. I look upon
him as dirt in the gutter. To me, in my old-fashioned way, all his
money, if he has it, can make no difference. When there is a question
of marriage, people at any rate should know something of each other.
Who knows anything of this man? Who can be sure that she is his
'He would give her her fortune when she married.'
'Yes; it all comes to that. Men say openly that he is an adventurer
and a swindler. No one pretends to think that he is a gentleman. There
is a consciousness among all who speak of him that he amasses his
money not by honest trade, but by unknown tricks as does a
card-sharper. He is one whom we would not admit into our kitchens,
much less to our tables, on the score of his own merits. But because
he has learned the art of making money, we not only put up with him,
but settle upon his carcase as so many birds of prey.'
'Do you mean that Felix should not marry the girl, even if they love
He shook his head in disgust, feeling sure that any idea of love on
the part of the young man was a sham and a pretence, not only as
regarded him, but also his mother. He could not quite declare this,
and yet he desired that she should understand that he thought so. 'I
have nothing more to say about it,' he continued. 'Had it gone on in
London I should have said nothing. It is no affair of mine. When I am
told that the girl is in the neighbourhood, at such a house as
Caversham, and that Felix is coming here in order that he may be near
to his prey, and when I am asked to be a party to the thing, I can
only say what I think. Your son would be welcome to my house, because
he is your son and my cousin, little as I approve his mode of life;
but I could have wished that he had chosen some other place for the
work that he has on hand.'
'If you wish it, Roger, we will return to London. I shall find it hard
to explain to Hetta;--but we will go.'
'No; I certainly do not wish that.'
'But you have said such hard things! How are we to stay? You speak of
Felix as though he were all bad.' She looked at him hoping to get from
him some contradiction of this, some retractation, some kindly word;
but it was what he did think, and he had nothing to say. She could
bear much. She was not delicate as to censure implied, or even
expressed. She had endured rough usage before, and was prepared to
endure more. Had he found fault with herself, or with Henrietta, she
would have put up with it, for the sake of benefits to come,--would have
forgiven it the more easily because perhaps it might not have been
deserved. But for her son she was prepared to fight. If she did not
defend him, who would? 'I am grieved, Roger, that we should have
troubled you with our visit, but I think that we had better go. You
are very harsh, and it crushes me.'
'I have not meant to be harsh.'
'You say that Felix is seeking for his--prey, and that he is to be
brought here to be near--his prey. What can be more harsh than that? At
any rate, you should remember that I am his mother.'
She expressed her sense of injury very well. Roger began to be ashamed
of himself, and to think that he had spoken unkind words. And yet he
did not know how to recall them. 'If I have hurt you, I regret it
'Of course you have hurt me. I think I will go in now. How very hard
the world is! I came here thinking to find peace and sunshine, and
there has come a storm at once.'
'You asked me about the Melmottes, and I was obliged to speak. You
cannot think that I meant to offend you.' They walked on in silence
till they had reached the door leading from the garden into the house,
and here he stopped her. 'If I have been over hot with you, let me beg
your pardon,' She smiled and bowed; but her smile was not one of
forgiveness; and then she essayed to pass on into the house. 'Pray do
not speak of going, Lady Carbury.'
'I think I will go to my room now. My head aches so that I can hardly
It was late in the afternoon,--about six,--and according to his daily
custom he should have gone round to the offices to see his men as they
came from their work, but he stood still for a few moments on the spot
where Lady Carbury had left him and went slowly across the lawn to the
bridge and there seated himself on the parapet. Could it really be
that she meant to leave his house in anger and to take her daughter
with her? Was it thus that he was to part with the one human being in
the world that he loved? He was a man who thought much of the duties
of hospitality, feeling that a man in his own house was bound to
exercise a courtesy towards his guests sweeter, softer, more gracious
than the world required elsewhere. And of all guests those of his own
name were the best entitled to such courtesy at Carbury. He held the
place in trust for the use of others. But if there were one among all
others to whom the house should be a house of refuge from care, not an
abode of trouble, on whose behalf, were it possible, he would make the
very air softer, and the flowers sweeter than their wont, to whom he
would declare, were such words possible to his tongue, that of him and
of his house, and of all things there, she was the mistress, whether
she would condescend to love him or no,--that one was his cousin Hetta.
And now he had been told by his guest that he had been so rough to her
that she and her daughter must return to London!
And he could not acquit himself. He knew that he had been rough. He had
said very hard words. It was true that he could not have expressed his
meaning without hard words, nor have repressed his meaning without
self-reproach. But in his present mood he could not comfort himself by
justifying himself. She had told him that he ought to have remembered
that Felix was her son; and as she spoke she had acted well the part
of an outraged mother. His heart was so soft that though he knew the
woman to be false and the son to be worthless, he utterly condemned
himself. Look where he would there was no comfort. When he had sat
half an hour upon the bridge he turned towards the house to dress for
dinner,--and to prepare himself for an apology, if any apology might be
accepted. At the door, standing in the doorway as though waiting for
him, he met his cousin Hetta. She had on her bosom the rose he had
placed in her room, and as he approached her he thought that there was
more in her eyes of graciousness towards him than he had ever seen
'Mr Carbury,' she said, 'mamma is so unhappy!'
'I fear that I have offended her.'
'It is not that, but that you should be so--so angry about Felix.'
'I am vexed with myself that I have vexed her,--more vexed than I can
'She knows how good you are.'
'No, I'm not. I was very bad just now. She was so offended with me
that she talked of going back to London.' He paused for her to speak,
but Hetta had no words ready for the moment. 'I should be wretched
indeed if you and she were to leave my house in anger.'
'I do not think she will do that.'
'I am not angry. I should never dare to be angry with you. I only wish
that Felix would be better. They say that young men have to be bad,
and that they do get to be better as they grow older. He is something
in the city now, a director they call him, and mamma thinks that the
work will be of service to him.' Roger could express no hope in this
direction or even look as though he approved of the directorship. 'I
don't see why he should not try at any rate.'
'Dear Hetta, I only wish he were like you.'
'Girls are so different, you know.'
It was not till late in the evening, long after dinner, that he made
his apology in form to Lady Carbury; but he did make it, and at last
it was accepted. 'I think I was rough to you, talking about Felix,' he
said,--'and I beg your pardon.'
'You were energetic, that was all.'
'A gentleman should never be rough to a lady, and a man should never
be rough to his own guests. I hope you will forgive me.' She answered
him by putting out her hand and smiling on him; and so the quarrel was
Lady Carbury understood the full extent of her triumph, and was
enabled by her disposition to use it thoroughly. Felix might now come
down to Carbury, and go over from thence to Caversham, and prosecute
his wooing, and the master of Carbury could make no further objection.
And Felix, if he would come, would not now be snubbed. Roger would
understand that he was constrained to courtesy by the former severity
of his language. Such points as these Lady Carbury never missed. He
understood it too, and though he was soft and gracious in his bearing,
endeavouring to make his house as pleasant as he could to his two
guests, he felt that he had been cheated out of his undoubted right to
disapprove of all connection with the Melmottes. In the course of the
evening there came a note,--or rather a bundle of notes,--from Caversham.
That addressed to Roger was in the form of a letter. Lady Pomona was
sorry to say that the Longestaffe party were prevented from having the
pleasure of dining at Carbury Hall by the fact that they had a house
full of guests. Lady Pomona hoped that Mr Carbury and his relatives,
who, Lady Pomona heard, were with him at the Hall, would do the
Longestaffes the pleasure of dining at Caversham either on the Monday
or Tuesday following, as might best suit the Carbury plans. That was
the purport of Lady Pomona's letter to Roger Carbury. Then there were
cards of invitation for Lady Carbury and her daughter, and also for
Roger, as he read his own note, handed the others over to Lady
Carbury, and then asked her what she would wish to have done. The tone
of his, voice, as he spoke, grated on her ear, as there was something
in it of his former harshness. But she knew how to use her triumph. 'I
should like to go,' she said.
'I certainly shall not go,' he replied; 'but there will be no
difficulty whatever in sending you over. You must answer at once,
because their servant is waiting.'
'Monday will be best,' she said; '--that is, if nobody is coming here.'
'There will be nobody here.'
'I suppose I had better say that I, and Hetta,--and Felix will accept
'I can make no suggestion,' said Roger, thinking how delightful it
would be if Henrietta could remain with him; how objectionable it was
that Henrietta should be taken to Caversham to meet the Melmottes.
Poor Hetta herself could say nothing. She certainly did not wish to
meet the Melmottes, nor did she wish to dine, alone, with her cousin
'That will be best,' said Lady Carbury after a moment's thought. 'It
is very good of you to let us go, and to send us.'
'Of course you will do here just as you please,' he replied. But there
was still that tone in his voice which Lady Carbury feared. A quarter
of an hour later the Caversham servant was on his way home with two
letters,--the one from Roger expressing his regret that he could not
accept Lady Pomona's invitation, and the other from Lady Carbury
declaring that she and her son and daughter would have great pleasure
in dining at Caversham on the Monday.
CHAPTER XVI - THE BISHOP AND THE PRIEST
The afternoon on which Lady Carbury arrived at her cousin's house had
been very stormy. Roger Carbury had been severe, and Lady Carbury had
suffered under his severity,--or had at least so well pretended to
suffer as to leave on Roger's mind a strong impression that he had
been cruel to her. She had then talked of going back at once to
London, and when consenting to remain, had remained with a very bad
feminine headache. She had altogether carried her point, but had done
so in a storm. The next morning was very calm. That question of
meeting the Melmottes had been settled, and there was no need for
speaking of them again. Roger went out by himself about the farm,
immediately after breakfast, having told the ladies that they could
have the waggonette when they pleased. 'I'm afraid you'll find it
tiresome driving about our lanes,' he said. Lady Carbury assured him
that she was never dull when left alone with books. Just as he was
starting he went into the garden and plucked a rose which he brought
to Henrietta. He only smiled as he gave it her, and then went his way.
He had resolved that he would say nothing to her of his suit till
Monday. If he could prevail with her then he would ask her to remain
with him when her mother and brother would be going out to dine at
Caversham. She looked up into his face as she took the rose and
thanked him in a whisper. She fully appreciated the truth, and honour,
and honesty of his character, and could have loved him so dearly as
her cousin if he would have contented himself with such cousinly love!
She was beginning, within her heart, to take his side against her
mother and brother, and to feel that he was the safest guide that she
could have. But how could she be guided by a lover whom she did not
'I am afraid, my dear, we shall have a bad time of it here,' said Lady
'Why so, mamma?'
'It will be so dull. Your cousin is the best friend in all the world,
and would make as good a husband as could be picked out of all the
gentlemen of England; but in his present mood with me he is not a
comfortable host. What nonsense he did talk about the Melmottes!'
'I don't suppose, mamma, that Mr and Mrs Melmotte can be nice
'Why shouldn't they be as nice as anybody else? Pray, Henrietta, don't
let us have any of that nonsense from you. When it comes from the
superhuman virtue of poor dear Roger it has to be borne, but I beg
that you will not copy him.'
'Mamma, I think that is unkind.'
'And I shall think it very unkind if you take upon yourself to abuse
people who are able and willing to set poor Felix on his legs. A word
from you might undo all that we are doing.'
'What word? Any word! If you have any influence with your brother you
should use it in inducing him to hurry this on. I am sure the girl is
willing enough. She did refer him to her father.'
'Then why does he not go to Mr Melmotte?'
'I suppose he is delicate about it on the score of money. If Roger
could only let it be understood that Felix is the heir to this place,
and that some day he will be Sir Felix Carbury of Carbury, I don't
think there would be any difficulty even with old Melmotte.'
'How could he do that, mamma?'
'If your cousin were to die as he is now, it would be so. Your brother
would be his heir.'
'You should not think of such a thing, mamma.'
'Why do you dare to tell me what I am to think? Am I not to think of
my own son? Is he not to be dearer to me than any one? And what I say,
is so. If Roger were to die to-morrow he would be Sir Felix Carbury of
'But, mamma, he will live and have a family. Why should he not?'
'You say he is so old that you will not look at him.'
'I never said so. When we were joking, I said he was old. You know I
did not mean that he was too old to get married. Men a great deal
older get married every day.'
'If you don't accept him he will never marry. He is a man of that kind,
--so stiff and stubborn and old-fashioned that nothing will change him.
He will go on boodying over it, till he will become an old
misanthrope. If you would take him I would be quite contented. You are
my child as well as Felix. But if you mean to be obstinate I do wish
that the Melmottes should be made to understand that the property and
title and name of the place will all go together. It will be so, and
why should not Felix have the advantage?'
'Who is to say it?'
'Ah,--that's where it is. Roger is so violent and prejudiced that one
cannot get him to speak rationally.'
'Oh, mamma,--you wouldn't suggest it to him;--that this place is to go to
--Felix, when he--is dead!'
'It would not kill him a day sooner.'
'You would not dare to do it, mamma.'
'I would dare to do anything for my children. But you need not look
like that, Henrietta. I am not going to say anything to him of the
kind. He is not quick enough to understand of what infinite service he
might be to us without in any way hurting himself.' Henrietta would
fain have answered that their cousin was quick enough for anything,
but was by far too honest to take part in such a scheme as that
proposed. She refrained, however, and was silent. There was no
sympathy on the matter between her and her mother. She was beginning
to understand the tortuous mazes of manoeuvres in which her mother's
mind had learned to work, and to dislike and almost to despise them.
But she felt it to be her duty to abstain from rebukes.
In the afternoon Lady Carbury, alone, had herself driven into Beccles
that she might telegraph to her son. 'You are to dine at Caversham on
Monday. Come on Saturday if you can. She is there.' Lady Carbury had
many doubts as to the wording of this message. The female in the
office might too probably understand who was the 'she' who was spoken
of as being at Caversham, and might understand also the project, and
speak of it publicly. But then it was essential that Felix should know
how great and certain was the opportunity afforded to him. He had
promised to come on Saturday and return on Monday,--and, unless warned,
would too probably stick to his plan and throw over the Longestaffes
and their dinner-party. Again if he were told to come simply for the
Monday, he would throw over the chance of wooing her on the Sunday. It
was Lady Carbury's desire to get him down for as long a period as was
possible, and nothing surely would so tend to bring him and to keep
him, as a knowledge that the heiress was already in the neighbourhood.
Then she returned, and shut herself up in her bedroom, and worked for
an hour or two at a paper which she was writing for the 'Breakfast
Table.' Nobody should ever accuse her justly of idleness. And
afterwards, as she walked by herself round and round the garden, she
revolved in her mind the scheme of a new book. Whatever might happen
she would persevere. If the Carburys were unfortunate their
misfortunes should come from no fault of hers. Henrietta passed the
whole day alone. She did not see her cousin from breakfast till he
appeared in the drawing-room before dinner. But she was thinking of
him during every minute of the day,--how good he was, how honest, how
thoroughly entitled to demand at any rate kindness at her hand! Her
mother had spoken of him as of one who might be regarded as all but
dead and buried, simply because of his love for her. Could it be true
that his constancy was such that he would never marry unless she would
take his hand? She came to think of him with more tenderness than she
had ever felt before, but, yet, she would not tell herself she loved
him. It might, perhaps, be her duty to give herself to him without
loving him,--because he was so good; but she was sure that she did not
In the evening the bishop came, and his wife, Mrs Yeld, and the
Hepworths of Eardly, and Father John Barham, the Beccles priest. The
party consisted of eight, which is, perhaps, the best number for a
mixed gathering of men and women at a dinner-table,--especially if there
be no mistress whose prerogative and duty it is to sit opposite to the
master. In this case Mr Hepworth faced the giver of the feast, the
bishop and the priest were opposite to each other, and the ladies
graced the four corners. Roger, though he spoke of such things to no
one, turned them over much in his mind, believing it to be the duty of
a host to administer in all things to the comfort of his guests. In
the drawing-room he had been especially courteous to the young priest,
introducing him first to the bishop and his wife, and then to his
cousins. Henrietta watched him through the whole evening, and told
herself that he was a very mirror of courtesy in his own house. She
had seen it all before, no doubt; but she had never watched him as she
now watched him since her mother had told her that he would die
wifeless and childless because she would not be his wife and the
mother of his children.
The bishop was a man sixty years of age, very healthy and handsome,
with hair just becoming grey, clear eyes, a kindly mouth, and
something of a double chin. He was all but six feet high, with a broad
chest, large hands, and legs which seemed to have been made for
clerical breeches and clerical stockings. He was a man of fortune
outside his bishopric; and, as he never went up to London, and had no
children on whom to spend his money, he was able to live as a nobleman
in the country. He did live as a nobleman, and was very popular. Among
the poor around him he was idolized, and by such clergy of his diocese
as were not enthusiastic in their theology either on the one side or
on the other, he was regarded as a model bishop. By the very high and
the very low,--by those rather who regarded ritualism as being either
heavenly or devilish,--he was looked upon as a timeserver, because he
would not put to sea in either of those boats. He was an unselfish
man, who loved his neighbour as himself, and forgave all trespasses,
and thanked God for his daily bread from his heart, and prayed
heartily to be delivered from temptation. But I doubt whether he was
competent to teach a creed,--or even to hold one, if it be necessary
that a man should understand and define his creed before he can hold
it. Whether he was free from, or whether he was scared by, any inward
misgivings, who shall say? If there were such he never whispered a
word of them even to the wife of his bosom. From the tone of his voice
and the look of his eye, you would say that he was unscathed by that
agony which doubt on such a matter would surely bring to a man so
placed. And yet it was observed of him that he never spoke of his
faith, or entered into arguments with men as to the reasons on which
he had based it. He was diligent in preaching,--moral sermons that were
short, pithy, and useful. He was never weary in furthering the welfare
of his clergymen. His house was open to them and to their wives. The
edifice of every church in his diocese was a care to him. He laboured
at schools, and was zealous in improving the social comforts of the
poor; but he was never known to declare to man or woman that the human
soul must live or die for ever according to its faith. Perhaps there
was no bishop in England more loved or more useful in his diocese than
the Bishop of Elmham.
A man more antagonistic to the bishop than Father John Barham, the
lately appointed Roman Catholic priest at Beccles, it would be
impossible to conceive;--and yet they were both eminently good men.
Father John was not above five feet nine in height, but so thin, so
meagre, so wasted in appearance, that, unless when he stooped, he was
taken to be tall. He had thick dark brown hair, which was cut short in
accordance with the usage of his Church; but which he so constantly
ruffled by the action of his hands, that, though short, it seemed to
be wild and uncombed. In his younger days, when long locks straggled
over his forehead, he had acquired a habit, while talking
energetically, of rubbing them back with his finger, which he had not
since dropped. In discussions he would constantly push back his hair,
and then sit with his hand fixed on the top of his head. He had a
high, broad forehead, enormous blue eyes, a thin, long nose, cheeks
very thin and hollow, a handsome large mouth, and a strong square
chin. He was utterly without worldly means, except those which came to
him from the ministry of his church, and which did not suffice to find
him food and raiment; but no man ever lived more indifferent to such
matters than Father John Barham. He had been the younger son of an
English country gentleman of small fortune, had been sent to Oxford
that he might hold a family living, and on the eve of his ordination
had declared himself a Roman Catholic. His family had resented this
bitterly, but had not quarrelled with him till he had drawn a sister
with him. When banished from the house he had still striven to achieve
the conversion of other sisters by his letters, and was now absolutely
an alien from his father's heart and care. But of this he never
complained. It was a part of the plan of his life that he should
suffer for his faith. Had he been able to change his creed without
incurring persecution, worldly degradation, and poverty, his own
conversion would not have been to him comfortable and satisfactory as
it was. He considered that his father, as a Protestant,--and in his mind
Protestant and heathen were all the same,--had been right to quarrel
with him. But he loved his father, and was endless in prayer, wearying
his saints with supplications, that his father might see the truth and
be as he was.
To him it was everything that a man should believe and obey,--that he
should abandon his own reason to the care of another or of others, and
allow himself to be guided in all things by authority. Faith being
sufficient and of itself all in all, moral conduct could be nothing to
a man, except as a testimony of faith; for to him, whose belief was
true enough to produce obedience, moral conduct would certainly be
added. The dogmas of his Church were to Father Barham a real religion,
and he would teach them in season and out of season, always ready to
commit himself to the task of proving their truth, afraid of no enemy,
not even fearing the hostility which his perseverance would create. He
had but one duty before him--to do his part towards bringing over the
world to his faith. It might be that with the toil of his whole life
he should convert but one; that he should but half convert one; that
he should do no more than disturb the thoughts of one so that future
conversion might be possible. But even that would be work done. He
would sow the seed if it might be so; but if it were not given to him
to do that, he would at any rate plough the ground.
He had come to Beccles lately, and Roger Carbury had found out that he
was a gentleman by birth and education. Roger had found out also that
he was very poor, and had consequently taken him by the hand. The
young priest had not hesitated to accept his neighbour's hospitality,
having on one occasion laughingly protested that he should be
delighted to dine at Carbury, as he was much in want of a dinner. He
had accepted presents from the garden and the poultry yard, declaring
that he was too poor to refuse anything. The apparent frankness of the
man about himself had charmed Roger, and the charm had not been
seriously disturbed when Father Barham, on one winter evening in the
parlour at Carbury, had tried his hand at converting his host. 'I have
the most thorough respect for your religion,' Roger had said; 'but it
would not suit me.' The priest had gone on with his logic; if he could
not sow the seed he might plough the ground. This had been repeated
two or three times, and Roger had begun to feel it to be disagreeable.
But the man was in earnest, and such earnestness commanded respect.
And Roger was quite sure that though he might be bored, he could not
be injured by such teaching. Then it occurred to him one day that he
had known the Bishop of Elmham intimately for a dozen years, and had
never heard from the bishop's mouth,--except when in the pulpit,--a single
word of religious teaching; whereas this man, who was a stranger to
him, divided from him by the very fact of his creed, was always
talking to him about his faith. Roger Carbury was not a man given to
much deep thinking, but he felt that the bishop's manner was the
pleasanter of the two.
Lady Carbury at dinner was all smiles and pleasantness. No one looking
at her, or listening to her, could think that her heart was sore with
many troubles. She sat between the bishop and her cousin, and was
skilful enough to talk to each without neglecting the other. She had
known the bishop before, and had on one occasion spoken to him of her
soul. The first tone of the good man's reply had convinced her of her
error, and she never repeated it. To Mr Alf she commonly talked of her
mind; to Mr Broune, of her heart; to Mr Booker of her body--and its
wants. She was quite ready to talk of her soul on a proper occasion,
but she was much too wise to thrust the subject even on a bishop. Now
she was full of the charms of Carbury and its neighbourhood. 'Yes,
indeed,' said the bishop, 'I think Suffolk is a very nice county; and
as we are only a mile or two from Norfolk, I'll say as much for
Norfolk too. "It's an ill bird that fouls its own, nest."'.
'I like a county in which there is something left of county feeling,'
said Lady Carbury. 'Staffordshire and Warwickshire, Cheshire and
Lancashire have become great towns, and have lost all local
'We still keep our name and reputation,' said the bishop; 'silly
'But that was never deserved.'
'As much, perhaps, as other general epithets. I think we are a sleepy
people. We've got no coal, you see, and no iron. We have no beautiful
scenery, like the lake country,--no rivers great for fishing, like
Scotland,--no hunting grounds, like the shires.'
'Partridges!' pleaded Lady Carbury, with pretty energy.
'Yes; we have partridges, fine churches, and the herring fishery. We
shall do very well if too much is not expected of us. We can't
increase and multiply as they do in the great cities.'
'I like this part of England so much the best for that very reason.
What is the use of a crowded population?'
'The earth has to be peopled, Lady Carbury.'
'Oh, yes,' said her ladyship, with some little reverence added to her
voice, feeling that the bishop was probably adverting to a divine
arrangement. 'The world must be peopled; but for myself I like the
country better than the town.'
'So do I,' said Roger; 'and I like Suffolk. The people are hearty, and
radicalism is not quite so rampant as it is elsewhere. The poor people
touch their hats, and the rich people think of the poor. There is
something left among us of old English habits.'
'That is so nice,' said Lady Carbury.
'Something left of old English ignorance,' said the bishop. 'All the
same I dare say we're improving, like the rest of the world. What
beautiful flowers you have here, Mr Carbury! At any rate, we can grow
flowers in Suffolk.'
Mrs Yeld, the bishop's wife, was sitting next to the priest, and was
in truth somewhat afraid of her neighbour. She was, perhaps, a little
stauncher than her husband in Protestantism; and though she was
willing to admit that Mr Barham might not have ceased to be a
gentleman when he became a Roman Catholic priest, she was not quite
sure that it was expedient for her or her husband to have much to do
with him. Mr Carbury had not taken them unawares. Notice had been
given that the priest was to be there, and the bishop had declared
that he would be very happy to meet the priest. But Mrs Yeld had had
her misgivings. She never ventured to insist on her opinion after the
bishop had expressed his; but she had an idea that right was right,
and wrong wrong,--and that Roman Catholics were wrong, and therefore
ought to be put down. And she thought also that if there were no
priests there would be no Roman Catholics. Mr Barham was, no doubt, a
man of good family, which did make a difference.
Mr Barham always made his approaches very gradually. The taciturn
humility with which he commenced his operations was in exact
proportion to the enthusiastic volubility of his advanced intimacy.
Mrs Yeld thought that it became her to address to him a few civil
words, and he replied to her with a shame-faced modesty that almost
overcame her dislike to his profession. She spoke of the poor of
Beccles, being very careful to allude only to their material position.
There was too much beer drunk, no doubt, and the young women would
have finery. Where did they get the money to buy those wonderful
bonnets which appeared every Sunday? Mr Barham was very meek, and
agreed to everything that was said. No doubt he had a plan ready
formed for inducing Mrs Yeld to have mass said regularly within her
husband's palace, but he did not even begin to bring it about on this
occasion. It was not till he made some apparently chance allusion to
the superior church-attending qualities of 'our people,' that Mrs Yeld
drew herself up and changed the conversation by observing that there
had been a great deal of rain lately.
When the ladies were gone the bishop at once put himself in the way of
conversation with the priest, and asked questions as to the morality
of Beccles. It was evidently Mr Barham's opinion that 'his people'
were more moral than other people, though very much poorer. 'But the
Irish always drink,' said Mr Hepworth.
'Not so much as the English, I think,' said the priest. 'And you are
not to suppose that we are all Irish. Of my flock the greater
proportion are English.'
'It is astonishing how little we know of our neighbours,' said the
bishop. 'Of course I am aware that there are a certain number of
persons of your persuasion round about us. Indeed, I could give the
exact number in this diocese. But in my own immediate neighbourhood I
could not put my hand upon any families which I know to be Roman
'It is not, my lord, because there are none.'
'Of course not. It is because, as I say, I do not know my neighbours.'
'I think, here in Suffolk, they must be chiefly the poor,' said Mr
'They were chiefly the poor who at first put their faith in our
Saviour,' said the priest.
'I think the analogy is hardly correctly drawn,' said the bishop, with
a curious smile. 'We were speaking of those who are still attached to
an old creed. Our Saviour was the teacher of a new religion. That the
poor in the simplicity of their hearts should be the first to
acknowledge the truth of a new religion is in accordance with our idea
of human nature. But that an old faith should remain with the poor
after it has been abandoned by the rich is not so easily
'The Roman population still believed,' said Carbury, 'when the
patricians had learned to regard their gods as simply useful
'The patricians had not ostensibly abandoned their religion. The
people clung to it thinking that their masters and rulers clung to it
'The poor have ever been the salt of the earth, my lord,' said the
'That begs the whole question,' said the bishop, turning to his host,
and, beginning to talk about a breed of pigs which had lately been
imported into the palace sties. Father Barham turned to Mr Hepworth
and went on with his argument, or rather began another. It was a
mistake to suppose that the Catholics in the county were all poor.
There were the A s and the B s, and the C s and the D s. He knew all
their names and was proud of their fidelity. To him these faithful
ones were really the salt of the earth, who would some day be enabled
by their fidelity to restore England to her pristine condition. The
bishop had truly said that of many of his neighbours he did not know
to what Church they belonged; but Father Barham, though he had not as
yet been twelve months in the county, knew the name of nearly every
Roman Catholic within its borders.
'Your priest is a very zealous man,' said the bishop afterwards to
Roger Carbury, 'and I do not doubt but that he is an excellent
gentleman; but he is perhaps a little indiscreet.'
'I like him because he is doing the best he can according to his
lights; without any reference to his own worldly welfare.'
'That is all very grand, and I am perfectly willing to respect him.
But I do not know that I should care to talk very freely in his
'I am sure he would repeat nothing.'
'Perhaps not; but he would always be thinking that he was going to get
the best of me.'
'I don't think it answers,' said Mrs Yeld to her husband as they went
home. 'Of course I don't want to be prejudiced; but Protestants are
Protestants, and Roman Catholics are Roman Catholics.'
'You may say the same of Liberals and Conservatives, but you wouldn't
have them decline to meet each other.'
'It isn't quite the same, my dear. After all religion is religion.'
'It ought to be,' said the bishop.
'Of course I don't mean to put myself up against you, my dear; but I
don't know that I want to meet Mr Barham again.'
'I don't know that I do, either,' said the bishop; 'but if he comes in
my way I hope I shall treat him civilly.'