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The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

Part 9 out of 19

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'If two men have equal pluck, strength isn't much needed. One is a
brave man, and the other--a coward. Which do you think is which?'

'He's your own cousin, and I don't know why you should say everything
again him.'

'You know I'm telling you the truth. You know it as well as I do
myself;--and you're throwing yourself away, and throwing the man who
loves you over,--for such a fellow as that! Go back to him, Ruby, and
beg his pardon.'

'I never will;--never.'

'I've spoken to Mrs Pipkin, and while you're here she will see that
you don't keep such hours any longer. You tell me that you're not
disgraced, and yet you are out at midnight with a young blackguard
like that! I've said what I've got to say, and I'm going away. But
I'll let your grandfather know.'

'Grandfather don't want me no more.'

'And I'll come again. If you want money to go home, I will let you
have it. Take my advice at least in this;--do not see Sir Felix Carbury
any more.' Then he took his leave. If he had failed to impress her
with admiration for John Crumb, he had certainly been efficacious in
lessening that which she had entertained for Sir Felix.


The very greatness of Mr Melmotte's popularity, the extent of the
admiration which was accorded by the public at large to his commercial
enterprise and financial sagacity, created a peculiar bitterness in
the opposition that was organized against him at Westminster. As the
high mountains are intersected by deep valleys, as puritanism in one
age begets infidelity in the next, as in many countries the thickness
of the winter's ice will be in proportion to the number of the summer
musquitoes, so was the keenness of the hostility displayed on this
occasion in proportion to the warmth of the support which was
manifested. As the great man was praised, so also was he abused. As he
was a demi-god to some, so was he a fiend to others. And indeed there
was hardly any other way in which it was possible to carry on the
contest against him. From the moment in which Mr Melmotte had declared
his purpose of standing for Westminster in the Conservative interest,
an attempt was made to drive him down the throats of the electors by
clamorous assertions of his unprecedented commercial greatness. It
seemed that there was but one virtue in the world, commercial
enterprise,--and that Melmotte was its prophet. It seemed, too, that the
orators and writers of the day intended all Westminster to believe
that Melmotte treated his great affairs in a spirit very different
from that which animates the bosoms of merchants in general. He had
risen above feeling of personal profit. His wealth was so immense that
there was no longer place for anxiety on that score. He already
possessed,--so it was said,--enough to found a dozen families, and he had
but one daughter! But by carrying on the enormous affairs which he
held in his hands, he would be able to open up new worlds, to afford
relief to the oppressed nationalities of the over-populated old
countries. He had seen how small was the good done by the Peabodys and
the Bairds, and, resolving to lend no ear to charities and religions,
was intent on projects for enabling young nations to earn plentiful
bread by the moderate sweat of their brows. He was the head and front
of the railway which was to regenerate Mexico. It was presumed that
the contemplated line from ocean to ocean across British America would
become a fact in his hands. It was he who was to enter into terms with
the Emperor of China for farming the tea-fields of that vast country.
He was already in treaty with Russia for a railway from Moscow to
Khiva. He had a fleet,--or soon would have a fleet of emigrant ships,--
ready to carry every discontented Irishman out of Ireland to whatever
quarter of the globe the Milesian might choose for the exercise of his
political principles. It was known that he had already floated a
company for laying down a submarine wire from Penzance to Point de
Galle, round the Cape of Good Hope,--so that, in the event of general
wars, England need be dependent on no other country for its
communications with India. And then there was the philanthropic scheme
for buying the liberty of the Arabian fellahs from the Khedive of
Egypt for thirty millions sterling,--the compensation to consist of the
concession of a territory about four times as big as Great Britain in
the lately annexed country on the great African lakes. It may have
been the case that some of these things were as yet only matters of
conversation,--speculations as to which Mr Melmotte's mind and
imagination had been at work, rather than his pocket or even his
credit; but they were all sufficiently matured to find their way into
the public press, and to be used as strong arguments why Melmotte
should become member of Parliament for Westminster.

All this praise was of course gall to those who found themselves
called upon by the demands of their political position to oppose Mr
Melmotte. You can run down a demi-god only by making him out to be a
demi-devil. These very persons, the leading Liberals of the leading
borough in England as they called themselves, would perhaps have cared
little about Melmotte's antecedents had it not become their duty to
fight him as a Conservative. Had the great man found at the last
moment that his own British politics had been liberal in their nature,
these very enemies would have been on his committee. It was their
business to secure the seat. And as Melmotte's supporters began the
battle with an attempt at what the Liberals called 'bounce,'--to carry
the borough with a rush by an overwhelming assertion of their
candidate's virtues,--the other party was driven to make some enquiries
as to that candidate's antecedents. They quickly warmed to the work,
and were not less loud in exposing the Satan of speculation, than had
been the Conservatives in declaring the commercial Jove. Emissaries
were sent to Paris and Frankfort, and the wires were used to Vienna
and New York. It was not difficult to collect stories,--true or false;
and some quiet men, who merely looked on at the game, expressed an
opinion that Melmotte might have wisely abstained from the glories of

Nevertheless there was at first some difficulty in finding a proper
Liberal candidate to run against him. The nobleman who had been
elevated out of his seat by the death of his father had been a great
Whig magnate, whose family was possessed of immense wealth and of
popularity equal to its possessions. One of that family might have
contested the borough at a much less expense than any other person,--
and to them the expense would have mattered but little. But there was
no such member of it forthcoming. Lord This and Lord That,--and the
Honourable This and the Honourable That, sons of other cognate Lords,--
already had seats which they were unwilling to vacate in the present
state of affairs. There was but one other session for the existing
Parliament; and the odds were held to be very greatly in Melmotte's
favour. Many an outsider was tried, but the outsiders were either
afraid of Melmotte's purse or his influence. Lord Buntingford was
asked, and he and his family were good old Whigs. But he was nephew to
Lord Alfred Grendall, first cousin to Miles Grendall, and abstained on
behalf of his relatives. An overture was made to Sir Damask Monogram,
who certainly could afford the contest. But Sir Damask did not see his
way. Melmotte was a working bee, while he was a drone,--and he did not
wish to have the difference pointed out by Mr Melmotte's supporters.
Moreover, he preferred his yacht and his four-in-hand.

At last a candidate was selected, whose nomination and whose consent
to occupy the position created very great surprise in the London
world. The press had of course taken up the matter very strongly. The
'Morning Breakfast Table' supported Mr Melmotte with all its weight.
There were people who said that this support was given by Mr Broune
under the influence of Lady Carbury, and that Lady Carbury in this way
endeavoured to reconcile the great man to a marriage between his
daughter and Sir Felix. But it is more probable that Mr Broune saw,--or
thought that he saw,--which way the wind sat, and that he supported the
commercial hero because he felt that the hero would be supported by
the country at large. In praising a book, or putting foremost the
merits of some official or military claimant, or writing up a charity,--
in some small matter of merely personal interest,--the Editor of the
'Morning Breakfast Table' might perhaps allow himself to listen to a
lady whom he loved. But he knew his work too well to jeopardize his
paper by such influences in any matter which might probably become
interesting to the world of his readers. There was a strong belief in
Melmotte. The clubs thought that he would be returned for Westminster.
The dukes and duchesses fêted him. The city,--even the city was showing
a wavering disposition to come round. Bishops begged for his name on
the list of promoters of their pet schemes. Royalty without stint was
to dine at his table. Melmotte himself was to sit at the right hand of
the brother of the Sun and of the uncle of the Moon, and British
Royalty was to be arranged opposite, so that every one might seem to
have the place of most honour. How could a conscientious Editor of a
'Morning Breakfast Table,' seeing how things were going, do other than
support Mr Melmotte? In fair justice it may be well doubted whether
Lady Carbury had exercised any influence in the matter.

But the 'Evening Pulpit' took the other side. Now this was the more
remarkable, the more sure to attract attention, inasmuch as the
'Evening Pulpit' had never supported the Liberal interest. As was said
in the first chapter of this work, the motto of that newspaper implied
that it was to be conducted on principles of absolute independence.
Had the 'Evening Pulpit,' like some of its contemporaries, lived by
declaring from day to day that all Liberal elements were godlike, and
all their opposites satanic, as a matter of course the same line of
argument would have prevailed as to the Westminster election. But as
it had not been so, the vigour of the 'Evening Pulpit' on this
occasion was the more alarming and the more noticeable,--so that the
short articles which appeared almost daily in reference to Mr Melmotte
were read by everybody. Now they who are concerned in the manufacture
of newspapers are well aware that censure is infinitely more
attractive than eulogy,--but they are quite as well aware that it is
more dangerous. No proprietor or editor was ever brought before the
courts at the cost of ever so many hundred pounds,--which if things go
badly may rise to thousands,--because he had attributed all but divinity
to some very poor specimen of mortality. No man was ever called upon
for damages because he had attributed grand motives. It might be well
for politics and Literature and art,--and for truth in general, if it
was possible to do so, but a new law of libel must be enacted before
such salutary proceedings can take place. Censure on the other hand is
open to very grave perils. Let the Editor have been ever so
conscientious, ever so beneficent,--even ever so true,--let it be ever
so clear that what he has written has been written on behalf of virtue,
and that he has misstated no fact, exaggerated no fault, never for a
moment been allured from public to private matters,--and he may still be
in danger of ruin. A very long purse, or else a very high courage is
needed for the exposure of such conduct as the 'Evening Pulpit'
attributed to Mr Melmotte. The paper took up this line suddenly. After
the second article Mr Alf sent back to Mr Miles Grendall, who in the
matter was acting as Mr Melmotte's secretary, the ticket of invitation
for the dinner, with a note from Mr Alf stating that circumstances
connected with the forthcoming election for Westminster could not
permit him to have the great honour of dining at Mr Melmotte's table
in the presence of the Emperor of China. Miles Grendall showed the
note to the dinner committee, and, without consultation with Mr
Melmotte, it was decided that the ticket should be sent to the Editor
of a thorough-going Conservative journal. This conduct on the part of
the 'Evening Pulpit' astonished the world considerably; but the world
was more astonished when it was declared that Mr Ferdinand Alf himself
was going to stand for Westminster on the Liberal interest.

Various suggestions were made. Some said that as Mr Alf had a large
share in the newspaper, and as its success was now an established
fact, he himself intended to retire from the laborious position which
he filled, and was therefore free to go into Parliament. Others were
of opinion that this was the beginning of a new era in literature, of
a new order of things, and that from this time forward editors would
frequently be found in Parliament, if editors were employed of
sufficient influence in the world to find constituencies. Mr Broune
whispered confidentially to Lady Carbury that the man was a fool for
his pains, and that he was carried away by pride. 'Very clever,--and
dashing,' said Mr Broune, 'but he never had ballast.' Lady Carbury
shook her head. She did not want to give up Mr Alf if she could help
it. He had never said a civil word of her in his paper;--but still she
had an idea that it was well to be on good terms with so great a
power. She entertained a mysterious awe for Mr Alf,--much in excess of
any similar feeling excited by Mr Broune, in regard to whom her awe
had been much diminished since he had made her an offer of marriage.
Her sympathies as to the election of course were with Mr Melmotte. She
believed in him thoroughly. She still thought that his nod might be
the means of making Felix,--or if not his nod, then his money without
the nod.

'I suppose he is very rich,' she said, speaking to Mr Broune
respecting Mr Alf.

'I dare say he has put by something. But this election will cost him
£10,000;--and if he goes on as he is doing now, he had better allow
another £10,000 for action for libel. They've already declared that
they will indict the paper.'

'Do you believe about the Austrian Insurance Company?' This was a
matter as to which Mr Melmotte was supposed to have retired from Paris
not with clean hands.

'I don't believe the "Evening Pulpit" can prove it,--and I'm sure that
they can't attempt to prove it without an expense of three or four
thousand pounds. That's a game in which nobody wins but the lawyers. I
wonder at Alf. I should have thought that he would have known how to
get all said that he wanted to have said without running with his head
into the lion's mouth. He has been so clever up to this! God knows he
has been bitter enough, but he has always sailed within the wind.'

Mr Alf had a powerful committee. By this time an animus in regard to
the election had been created strong enough to bring out the men on
both sides, and to produce heat, when otherwise there might only have
been a warmth or, possibly, frigidity. The Whig Marquises and the Whig
Barons came forward, and with them the liberal professional men, and
the tradesmen who had found that party to answer best, and the
democratical mechanics. If Melmotte's money did not, at last, utterly
demoralise the lower class of voters, there would still be a good
fight. And there was a strong hope that, under the ballot, Melmotte's
money might be taken without a corresponding effect upon the voting.
It was found upon trial that Mr Alf was a good speaker. And though he
still conducted the 'Evening Pulpit', he made time for addressing
meetings of the constituency almost daily. And in his speeches he
never spared Melmotte. No one, he said, had a greater reverence for
mercantile grandeur than himself. But let them take care that the
grandeur was grand. How great would be the disgrace to such a borough
as that of Westminster if it should find that it had been taken in by
a false spirit of speculation and that it had surrendered itself to
gambling when it had thought to do honour to honest commerce. This,
connected, as of course it was, with the articles in the paper, was
regarded as very open speaking. And it had its effect. Some men began
to say that Melmotte had not been known long enough to deserve
confidence in his riches, and the Lord Mayor was already beginning to
think that it might be wise to escape the dinner by some excuse.

Melmotte's committee was also very grand. If Alf was supported by
Marquises and Barons, he was supported by Dukes and Earls. But his
speaking in public did not of itself inspire much confidence. He had
very little to say when he attempted to explain the political
principles on which he intended to act. After a little he confined
himself to remarks on the personal attacks made on him by the other
side, and even in doing that was reiterative rather than diffusive.
Let them prove it. He defied them to prove it. Englishmen were too
great, too generous, too honest, too noble,--the men of Westminster
especially were a great deal too highminded to pay any attention to
such charges as these till they were proved. Then he began again. Let
them prove it. Such accusations as these were mere lies till they were
proved. He did not say much himself in public as to actions for
libel,--but assurances were made on his behalf to the electors,
especially by Lord Alfred Grendall and his son, that as soon as the
election was over all speakers and writers would be indicted for libel,
who should be declared by proper legal advice to have made themselves
liable to such action. The 'Evening Pulpit' and Mr Alf would of course
be the first victims.

The dinner was fixed for Monday, July the 8th. The election for the
borough was to be held on Tuesday the 9th. It was generally thought
that the proximity of the two days had been arranged with the view of
enhancing Melmotte's expected triumph. But such in truth, was not the
case. It had been an accident, and an accident that was distressing to
some of the Melmottites. There was much to be done about the dinner,--
which could not be omitted; and much also as to the election,--which
was imperative. The two Grendalls, father and son, found themselves to
be so driven that the world seemed for them to be turned topsy-turvy.
The elder had in old days been accustomed to electioneering in the
interest of his own family, and had declared himself willing to make
himself useful on behalf of Mr Melmotte. But he found Westminster to
be almost too much for him. He was called here and sent there, till he
was very near rebellion. 'If this goes on much longer I shall cut it,'
he said to his son.

'Think of me, governor,' said the son 'I have to be in the city four
or five times a week.'

'You've a regular salary.'

'Come, governor; you've done pretty well for that. What's my salary to
the shares you've had? The thing is;--will it last?'

'How last?'

'There are a good many who say that Melmotte will burst up.'

'I don't believe it,' said Lord Alfred. 'They don't know what they're
talking about. There are too many in the same boat to let him burst
up. It would be the bursting up of half London. But I shall tell him
after this that he must make it easier. He wants to know who's to have
every ticket for the dinner, and there's nobody to tell him except me.
And I've got to arrange all the places, and nobody to help me except
that fellow from the Herald's office. I don't know about people's
rank. Which ought to come first: a director of the bank or a fellow
who writes books?' Miles suggested that the fellow from the Herald's
office would know all about that, and that his father need not trouble
himself with petty details.

'And you shall come to us for three days,--after it's over,' said Lady
Monogram to Miss Longestaffe; a proposition to which Miss Longestaffe
acceded, willingly indeed, but not by any means as though a favour had
been conferred upon her. Now the reason why Lady Monogram had changed
her mind as to inviting her old friend, and thus threw open her
hospitality for three whole days to the poor young lady who had
disgraced herself by staying with the Melmottes, was as follows. Miss
Longestaffe had the disposal of two evening tickets for Madame
Melmotte's grand reception; and so greatly had the Melmottes risen in
general appreciation that Lady Monogram had found that she was bound,
on behalf of her own position in society, to be present on that
occasion. It would not do that her name should not be in the printed
list of the guests. Therefore she had made a serviceable bargain with
her old friend Miss Longestaffe. She was to have her two tickets for
the reception, and Miss Longestaffe was to be received for three days
as a guest by Lady Monogram. It had also been conceded that at any
rate on one of these nights Lady Monogram should take Miss Longestaffe
out with her, and that she should herself receive company on another.
There was perhaps something slightly painful at the commencement of
the negotiation; but such feelings soon fade away, and Lady Monogram
was quite a woman of the world.


About this time, a fortnight or nearly so before the election, Mr
Longestaffe came up to town and saw Mr Melmotte very frequently. He
could not go into his own house, as he had let that for a month to the
great financier, nor had he any establishment in town; but he slept at
an hotel and lived at the Carlton. He was quite delighted to find that
his new friend was an honest Conservative, and he himself proposed the
honest Conservative at the club. There was some idea of electing Mr
Melmotte out of hand, but it was decided that the club could not go
beyond its rule, and could only admit Mr Melmotte out of his regular
turn as soon as he should occupy a seat in the House of Commons. Mr
Melmotte, who was becoming somewhat arrogant, was heard to declare
that if the club did not take him when he was willing to be taken, it
might do without him. If not elected at once, he should withdraw his
name. So great was his prestige at this moment with his own party that
there were some, Mr Longestaffe among the number, who pressed the
thing on the committee. Mr Melmotte was not like other men. It was a
great thing to have Mr Melmotte in the party. Mr Melmotte's financial
capabilities would in themselves be a tower of strength. Rules were
not made to control the club in a matter of such importance as this. A
noble lord, one among seven who had been named as a fit leader of the
Upper House on the Conservative side in the next session, was asked to
take the matter up; and men thought that the thing might have been
done had he complied. But he was old-fashioned, perhaps pig-headed;
and the club for the time lost the honour of entertaining Mr Melmotte.

It may be remembered that Mr Longestaffe had been anxious to become
one of the directors of the Mexican Railway, and that he was rather
snubbed than encouraged when he expressed his wish to Mr Melmotte.
Like other great men, Mr Melmotte liked to choose his own time for
bestowing favours. Since that request was made the proper time had
come, and he had now intimated to Mr Longestaffe that in a somewhat
altered condition of things there would be a place for him at the
Board, and that he and his brother directors would be delighted to
avail themselves of his assistance. The alliance between Mr Melmotte
and Mr Longestaffe had become very close. The Melmottes had visited
the Longestaffes at Caversham. Georgiana Longestaffe was staying with
Madame Melmotte in London. The Melmottes were living in Mr
Longestaffe's town house, having taken it for a month at a very high
rent. Mr Longestaffe now had a seat at Mr Melmotte's board. And Mr
Melmotte had bought Mr Longestaffe's estate at Pickering on terms very
favourable to the Longestaffes. It had been suggested to Mr
Longestaffe by Mr Melmotte that he had better qualify for his seat at
the Board by taking shares in the Company to the amount of--perhaps two
or three thousand pounds, and Mr Longestaffe had of course consented.
There would be no need of any transaction in absolute cash. The shares
could of course be paid for out of Mr Longestaffe's half of the
purchase money for Pickering Park, and could remain for the present in
Mr Melmotte's hands. To this also Mr Longestaffe had consented, not
quite understanding why the scrip should not be made over to him at

It was a part of the charm of all dealings with this great man that no
ready money seemed ever to be necessary for anything. Great purchases
were made and great transactions apparently completed without the
signing even of a cheque. Mr Longestaffe found himself to be afraid
even to give a hint to Mr Melmotte about ready money. In speaking of
all such matters Melmotte seemed to imply that everything necessary
had been done, when he had said that it was done. Pickering had been
purchased and the title-deeds made over to Mr Melmotte; but the
£80,000 had not been paid,--had not been absolutely paid, though of
course Mr Melmotte's note assenting to the terms was security
sufficient for any reasonable man. The property had been mortgaged,
though not heavily, and Mr Melmotte had no doubt satisfied the
mortgagee; but there was still a sum of £50,000 to come, of which
Dolly was to have one half and the other was to be employed in paying
off Mr Longestaffe's debts to tradesmen and debts to the bank. It
would have been very pleasant to have had this at once,--but Mr
Longestaffe felt the absurdity of pressing such a man as Mr Melmotte,
and was partly conscious of the gradual consummation of a new era in
money matters. 'If your banker is pressing you, refer him to me,' Mr
Melmotte had said. As for many years past we have exchanged paper
instead of actual money for our commodities, so now it seemed that,
under the new Melmotte regime, an exchange of words was to suffice.

But Dolly wanted his money. Dolly, idle as he was, foolish as he was,
dissipated as he was and generally indifferent to his debts, liked to
have what belonged to him. It had all been arranged. £5,000 would pay
off all his tradesmen's debts and leave him comfortably possessed of
money in hand, while the other £20,000 would make his own property
free. There was a charm in this which awakened even Dolly, and for the
time almost reconciled him to his father's society. But now a shade of
impatience was coming over him. He had actually gone down to Caversham
to arrange the terms with his father,--and had in fact made his own
terms. His father had been unable to move him, and had consequently
suffered much in spirit. Dolly had been almost triumphant,--thinking
that the money would come on the next day, or at any rate during the
next week. Now he came to his father early in the morning,--at about two
o'clock,--to inquire what was being done. He had not as yet been made
blessed with a single ten-pound note in his hand, as the result of the

'Are you going to see Melmotte, sir?' he asked somewhat abruptly.

'Yes;--I'm to be with him to-morrow, and he is to introduce me to the

'You're going in for that, are you, sir? Do they pay anything?'

'I believe not.'

'Nidderdale and young Carbury belong to it. It's a sort of Beargarden

'A bear-garden affair, Adolphus. How so?'

'I mean the club. We had them all there for dinner one day, and a
jolly dinner we gave them. Miles Grendall and old Alfred belong to it.
I don't think they'd go in for it, if there was no money going. I'd
make them fork out something if I took the trouble of going all that

'I think that perhaps, Adolphus, you hardly understand these things.'

'No, I don't. I don't understand much about business, I know. What I
want to understand is, when Melmotte is going to pay up this money.'

'I suppose he'll arrange it with the banks,' said the father.

'I beg that he won't arrange my money with the banks, sir. You'd
better tell him not. A cheque upon his bank which I can pay in to mine
is about the best thing going. You'll be in the city to-morrow, and
you'd better tell him. If you don't like, you know, I'll get Squercum
to do it.' Mr Squercum was a lawyer whom Dolly had employed of late
years much to the annoyance of his parent. Mr Squercum's name was
odious to Mr Longestaffe.

'I beg you'll do nothing of the kind. It will be very foolish if you
do;--perhaps ruinous.'

'Then he'd better pay up, like anybody else,' said Dolly as he left
the room. The father knew the son, and was quite sure that Squercum
would have his finger in the pie unless the money were paid quickly.
When Dolly had taken an idea into his head, no power on earth,--no
power at least of which the father could avail himself,--would turn

On that same day Melmotte received two visits in the city from two of
his fellow directors. At the time he was very busy. Though his
electioneering speeches were neither long nor pithy, still he had to
think of them beforehand. Members of his Committee were always trying
to see him. Orders as to the dinner and the preparation of the house
could not be given by Lord Alfred without some reference to him. And
then those gigantic commercial affairs which were enumerated in the
last chapter could not be adjusted without much labour on his part.
His hands were not empty, but still he saw each of these young men,--
for a few minutes. 'My dear young friend, what can I do for you?' he
said to Sir Felix, not sitting down, so that Sir Felix also should
remain standing.

'About that money, Mr Melmotte?'

'What money, my dear fellow? You see that a good many money matters
pass through my hands.'

'The thousand pounds I gave you for shares. If you don't mind, and as
the shares seem to be a bother, I'll take the money back.'

'It was only the other day you had £200,' said Melmotte, showing that
he could apply his memory to small transactions when he pleased.

'Exactly;--and you might as well let me have the £800.'

'I've ordered the shares;--gave the order to my broker the other day.'

'Then I'd better take the shares,' said Sir Felix, feeling that it
might very probably be that day fortnight before he could start for
New York. 'Could I get them, Mr Melmotte?'

'My dear fellow, I really think you hardly calculate the value of my
time when you come to me about such an affair as this.'

'I'd like to have the money or the shares,' said Sir Felix, who was
not specially averse to quarrelling with Mr Melmotte now that he had
resolved upon taking that gentleman's daughter to New York in direct
opposition to his written promise. Their quarrel would be so
thoroughly internecine when the departure should be discovered, that
any present anger could hardly increase its bitterness. What Felix
thought of now was simply his money, and the best means of getting it
out of Melmotte's hands.

'You're a spendthrift,' said Melmotte, apparently relenting, 'and I'm
afraid a gambler. I suppose I must give you £200 more on account.'

Sir Felix could not resist the touch of ready money, and consented to
take the sum offered. As he pocketed the cheque he asked for the name
of the brokers who were employed to buy the shares. But here Melmotte
demurred 'No, my friend,' said Melmotte; 'you are only entitled to
shares for £600 pounds now. I will see that the thing is put right.'
So Sir Felix departed with £200 only. Marie had said that she could
get £200. Perhaps if he bestirred himself and wrote to some of Miles's
big relations he could obtain payment of a part of that gentleman's
debt to him.

Sir Felix going down the stairs in Abchurch Lane met Paul Montague
coming up. Carbury, on the spur of the moment, thought that he would
'take a rise' as he called it out of Montague. 'What's this I hear
about a lady at Islington?' he asked.

'Who has told you anything about a lady at Islington?'

'A little bird. There are always little birds about telling of ladies.
I'm told that I'm to congratulate you on your coming marriage.'

'Then you've been told an infernal falsehood,' said Montague passing
on. He paused a moment and added, 'I don't know who can have told you,
but if you hear it again, I'll trouble you to contradict it.' As he
was waiting in Melmotte's outer room while the duke's nephew went in
to see whether it was the great man's pleasure to see him, he
remembered whence Carbury must have heard tidings of Mrs Hurtle. Of
course the rumour had come through Ruby Ruggles.

Miles Grendall brought out word that the great man would see Mr
Montague; but he added a caution. 'He's awfully full of work just
now,--you won't forget that;--will you?' Montague assured the duke's
nephew that he would be concise, and was shown in.

'I should not have troubled you,' said Paul, 'only that I understood
that I was to see you before the Board met.'

'Exactly;--of course. It was quite necessary,--only you see I am a
little busy. If this d----d dinner were over I shouldn't mind. It's a
deal easier to make a treaty with an Emperor, than to give him a dinner;
I can tell you that. Well;--let me see. Oh;--I was proposing that you
should go out to Pekin?'

'To Mexico.'

'Yes, yes;--to Mexico. I've so many things running in my head! Well;--
if you'll say when you're ready to start, we'll draw up something of
instructions. You'd know better, however, than we can tell you, what
to do. You'll see Fisker, of course. You and Fisker will manage it.
The chief thing will be a cheque for the expenses; eh? We must get
that passed at the next Board.'

Mr Melmotte had been so quick that Montague had been unable to
interrupt him. 'There need be no trouble about that, Mr Melmotte, as I
have made up my mind that it would not be fit that I should go.'

'Oh, indeed!'

There had been a shade of doubt on Montague's mind, till the tone in
which Melmotte had spoken of the embassy grated on his ears. The
reference to the expenses disgusted him altogether. 'No;--even did I see
my way to do any good in America my duties here would not be
compatible with the undertaking.'

'I don't see that at all. What duties have you got here? What good are
you doing the Company? If you do stay, I hope you'll be unanimous;
that's all;--or perhaps you intend to go out. If that's it, I'll look to
your money. I think I told you that before.'

'That, Mr Melmotte, is what I should prefer.'

'Very well,--very well. I'll arrange it. Sorry to lose you,--that's
all. Miles, isn't Mr Goldsheiner waiting to see me?'

'You're a little too quick, Mr Melmotte,' said Paul.

'A man with my business on his hands is bound to be quick, sir.'

'But I must be precise. I cannot tell you as a fact that I shall
withdraw from the Board till I receive the advice of a friend with
whom I am consulting. I hardly yet know what my duty may be.'

'I'll tell you, sir, what can not be your duty. It cannot be your duty
to make known out of that Board-room any of the affairs of the
Company which you have learned in that Board-room. It cannot be your
duty to divulge the circumstances of the Company or any differences
which may exist between Directors of the Company, to any gentleman who
is a stranger to the Company. It cannot be your duty.'

'Thank you, Mr Melmotte. On matters such as that I think that I can
see my own way. I have been in fault in coming in to the Board without
understanding what duties I should have to perform--.'

'Very much in fault, I should say,' replied Melmotte, whose arrogance
in the midst of his inflated glory was overcoming him.

'But in reference to what I may or may not say to any friend, or how
far I should be restricted by the scruples of a gentleman, I do not
want advice from you.'

'Very well;--very well. I can't ask you to stay, because a partner from
the house of Todd, Brehgert, and Goldsheiner is waiting to see me,
about matters which are rather more important than this of yours.'
Montague had said what he had to say, and departed.

On the following day, three-quarters of an hour before the meeting of
the Board of Directors, old Mr Longestaffe called in Abchurch Lane. He
was received very civilly by Miles Grendall, and asked to sit down. Mr
Melmotte quite expected him, and would walk with him over to the
offices of the railway, and introduce him to the Board. Mr
Longestaffe, with some shyness, intimated his desire to have a few
moments conversation with the chairman before the Board met. Fearing
his son, especially fearing Squercum, he had made up his mind to
suggest that the little matter about Pickering Park should be settled.
Miles assured him that the opportunity should be given him, but that
at the present moment the chief secretary of the Russian Legation was
with Mr Melmotte. Either the chief secretary was very tedious with his
business, or else other big men must have come in, for Mr Longestaffe
was not relieved till he was summoned to walk off to the Board five
minutes after the hour at which the Board should have met. He thought
that he could explain his views in the street; but on the stairs they
were joined by Mr Cohenlupe, and in three minutes they were in the
Board room. Mr Longestaffe was then presented, and took the chair
opposite to Miles Grendall. Montague was not there, but had sent a
letter to the secretary explaining that for reasons with which the
chairman was acquainted he should absent himself from the present
meeting. 'All right,' said Melmotte. 'I know all about it. Go on. I'm
not sure but that Mr Montague's retirement from among us may be an
advantage. He could not be made to understand that unanimity in such
an enterprise as this is essential. I am confident that the new
director whom I have had the pleasure of introducing to you to-day will
not sin in the same direction.' Then Mr Melmotte bowed and smiled very
sweetly on Mr Longestaffe.

Mr Longestaffe was astonished to find how soon the business was done,
and how very little he had been called on to do. Miles Grendall had
read something out of a book which he had been unable to follow. Then
the chairman had read some figures. Mr Cohenlupe had declared that
their prosperity was unprecedented;--and the Board was over. When Mr
Longestaffe explained to Miles Grendall that he still wished to speak
to Mr Melmotte, Miles explained to him that the chairman had been
obliged to run off to a meeting of gentlemen connected with the
interior of Africa, which was now being held at the Cannon Street


Roger Carbury, having found Ruby Ruggles, and having ascertained that
she was at any rate living in a respectable house with her aunt,
returned to Carbury. He had given the girl his advice, and had done
so in a manner that was not altogether ineffectual. He had frightened
her, and had also frightened Mrs Pipkin. He had taught Mrs Pipkin to
believe that the new dispensation was not yet so completely
established as to clear her from all responsibility as to her niece's
conduct. Having done so much, and feeling that there was no more to
be done, he returned home. It was out of the question that he should
take Ruby with him. In the first place she would not have gone. And
then,--had she gone,--he would not have known where to bestow her.
For it was now understood throughout Bungay,--and the news had spread
to Beccles,--that old Farmer Ruggles had sworn that his
granddaughter should never again be received at Sheep's Acre Farm.
The squire on his return home heard all the news from his own
housekeeper. John Crumb had been at the farm and there had been a
fierce quarrel between him and the old man. The old man had called
Ruby by every name that is most distasteful to a woman, and John had
stormed and had sworn that he would have punched the old man's head
but for his age. He wouldn't believe any harm of Ruby,--or if he did
he was ready to forgive that harm. But as for the Baro-nite;--the
Baro-nite had better look to himself! Old Ruggles had declared that
Ruby should never have a shilling of his money;-hereupon Crumb had
anathematised old Ruggles and his money too, telling him that he was
an old hunx, and that he had driven the girl away by his cruelty.
Roger at once sent over to Bungay for the dealer in meal, who was
with him early on the following morning.

'Did ye find her, squoire?'

'Oh, yes, Mr Crumb, I found her. She's living with her aunt, Mrs
Pipkin, at Islington.'

'Eh, now;--look at that.'

'You knew she had an aunt of that name up in London.'

'Ye-es; I knew'd it, squoire. I a' heard tell of Mrs Pipkin, but I
never see'd her.'

'I wonder it did not occur to you that Ruby would go there.' John
Crumb scratched his head, as though acknowledging the shortcoming of
his own intellect. 'Of course if she was to go to London it was the
proper thing for her to do.'

'I knew she'd do the thing as was right. I said that all along. Darned
if I didn't. You ask Mixet, squoire,--him as is baker down Bardsey Lane.
I allays guy' it her that she'd do the thing as was right. But how
about she and the Baro-nite?'

Roger did not wish to speak of the Baronet just at present. 'I suppose
the old man down here did ill-use her?'

'Oh, dreadful;--there ain't no manner of doubt o' that. Dragged her
about awful;--as he ought to be took up, only for the rumpus like. D'ye
think she's see'd the Baro-nite since she's been in Lon'on, Muster

'I think she's a good girl, if you mean that.'

'I'm sure she be. I don't want none to tell me that, squoire. Tho',
squoire, it's better to me nor a ten pun' note to hear you say so. I
allays had a leaning to you, squoire; but I'll more nor lean to you,
now. I've said all through she was good, and if e'er a man in Bungay
said she warn't--; well, I was there and ready.'

'I hope nobody has said so.'

'You can't stop them women, squoire. There ain't no dropping into
them. But, Lord love 'ee, she shall come and be missus of my house
to-morrow, and what'll it matter her then what they say? But, squoire
did ye hear if the Baro-nite had been a' hanging about that place?'

'About Islington, you mean.'

'He goes a hanging about; he do. He don't come out straight forrard,
and tell a girl as he loves her afore all the parish. There ain't one
in Bungay, nor yet in Mettingham, nor yet in all the Ilketsals and all
the Elmhams, as don't know as I'm set on Ruby Ruggles. Huggery-Muggery
is pi'son to me, squoire.'

'We all know that when you've made up your mind, you have made up your

'I hove. It's made up ever so as to Ruby. What sort of a one is her
aunt now, squoire?'

'She keeps lodgings;--a very decent sort of a woman I should say.'

'She won't let the Baro-nite come there?'

'Certainly not,' said Roger, who felt that he was hardly dealing
sincerely with this most sincere of meal-men. Hitherto he had shuffled
off every question that had been asked him about Felix, though he knew
that Ruby had spent many hours with her fashionable lover. 'Mrs Pipkin
won't let him come there.'

'If I was to give her a ge'own now,--or a blue cloak;--them
lodging-house women is mostly hard put to it;--or a chest of drawers
like, for her best bedroom, wouldn't that make her more o' my side,

'I think she'll try to do her duty without that.'

'They do like things the like o' that; any ways I'll go up, squoire,
arter Sax'nam market, and see how things is lying.'

'I wouldn't go just yet, Mr Crumb, if I were you. She hasn't forgotten
the scene at the farm yet.'

'I said nothing as wasn't as kind as kind.'

'But her own perversity runs in her own head. If you had been unkind
she could have forgiven that; but as you were good-natured and she was
cross, she can't forgive that.' John Crumb again scratched his head,
and felt that the depths of a woman's character required more gauging
than he had yet given to it. 'And to tell you the truth, my friend, I
think that a little hardship up at Mrs Pipkin's will do her good.'

'Don't she have a bellyful o' vittels?' asked John Crumb, with intense

'I don't quite mean that. I dare say she has enough to eat. But of
course she has to work for it with her aunt. She has three or four
children to look after.'

'That moight come in handy by-and-by;--moightn't it, squoire?' said John
Crumb grinning.

'As you say, she'll be learning something that may be useful to her in
another sphere. Of course there is a good deal to do, and I should not
be surprised if she were to think after a bit that your house in
Bungay was more comfortable than Mrs Pipkin's kitchen in London.'

'My little back parlour;--eh, squoire! And I've got a four-poster, most
as big as any in Bungay.'

'I am sure you have everything comfortable for her, and she knows it
herself. Let her think about all that,--and do you go and tell her again
in a month's time. She'll be more willing to settle matters then than
she is now.'

'But the Baro-nite!'

'Mrs Pipkin will allow nothing of that.'

'Girls is so 'cute. Ruby is awful 'cute. It makes me feel as though I
had two hun'erdweight o' meal on my stomach, lying awake o' nights and
thinking as how he is, may be,--pulling of her about! If I thought that
she'd let him--; oh! I'd swing for it, Muster Carbury. They'd have to
make an eend o' me at Bury, if it was that way. They would then.'

Roger assured him again and again that he believed Ruby to be a good
girl, and promised that further steps should be taken to induce Mrs
Pipkin to keep a close watch upon her niece. John Crumb made no
promise that he would abstain from his journey to London after
Saxmundham fair; but left the squire with a conviction that his
purpose of doing so was shaken. He was still however resolved to send
Mrs Pipkin the price of a new blue cloak, and declared his purpose of
getting Mixet to write the letter and enclose the money order. John
Crumb had no delicacy as to declaring his own deficiency in literary
acquirements. He was able to make out a bill for meal or pollards, but
did little beyond that in the way of writing letters.

This happened on a Saturday morning, and on that afternoon Roger
Carbury rode over to Lowestoft, to a meeting there on church matters
at which his friend the bishop presided. After the meeting was over he
dined at the inn with half a dozen clergymen and two or three
neighbouring gentlemen, and then walked down by himself on to the long
strand which has made Lowestoft what it is. It was now just the end
of June, and the weather was delightful;--but people were not as yet
flocking to the sea-shore. Every shopkeeper in every little town
through the country now follows the fashion set by Parliament and
abstains from his annual holiday till August or September. The place
therefore was by no means full. Here and there a few of the
townspeople, who at a bathing place are generally indifferent to the
sea, were strolling about; and another few, indifferent to fashion,
had come out from the lodging-houses and from the hotel, which had
been described as being small and insignificant,--and making up only a
hundred beds. Roger Carbury, whose house was not many miles distant
from Lowestoft, was fond of the sea-shore, and always came to loiter
there for a while when any cause brought him into the town. Now he was
walking close down upon the marge of the tide,--so that the last little
roll of the rising water should touch his feet,--with his hands joined
behind his back, and his face turned down towards the shore, when he
came upon a couple who were standing with their backs to the land,
looking forth together upon the waves. He was close to them before he
saw them, and before they had seen him. Then he perceived that the man
was his friend Paul Montague. Leaning on Paul's arm a lady stood,
dressed very simply in black, with a dark straw hat on her head;--
very simple in her attire, but yet a woman whom it would be impossible
to pass without notice. The lady of course was Mrs Hurtle.

Paul Montague had been a fool to suggest Lowestoft, but his folly had
been natural. It was not the first place he had named; but when fault
had been found with others, he had fallen back upon the sea sands
which were best known to himself. Lowestoft was just the spot which
Mrs Hurtle required. When she had been shown her room, and taken down
out of the hotel on to the strand, she had declared herself to be
charmed. She acknowledged with many smiles that of course she had had
no right to expect that Mrs Pipkin should understand what sort of
place she needed. But Paul would understand,--and had understood. 'I
think the hotel charming,' she said. 'I don't know what you mean by
your fun about the American hotels, but I think this quite gorgeous,
and the people so civil!' Hotel people always are civil before the
crowds come. Of course it was impossible that Paul should return to
London by the mail train which started about an hour after his
arrival. He would have reached London at four or five in the morning,
and have been very uncomfortable. The following day was Sunday, and of
course he promised to stay till Monday. Of course he had said nothing
in the train of those stern things which he had resolved to say. Of
course he was not saying them when Roger Carbury came upon him; but
was indulging in some poetical nonsense, some probably very trite
raptures as to the expanse of the ocean, and the endless ripples which
connected shore with shore. Mrs Hurtle, too, as she leaned with
friendly weight upon his arm, indulged also in moonshine and romance.
Though at the back of the heart of each of them there was a devouring
care, still they enjoyed the hour. We know that the man who is to be
hung likes to have his breakfast well cooked. And so did Paul like the
companionship of Mrs Hurtle because her attire, though simple, was
becoming; because the colour glowed in her dark face; because of the
brightness of her eyes, and the happy sharpness of her words, and the
dangerous smile which played upon her lips. He liked the warmth of her
close vicinity, and the softness of her arm, and the perfume from her
hair,--though he would have given all that he possessed that she had
been removed from him by some impassable gulf. As he had to be hanged,--
and this woman's continued presence would be as bad as death to him,--
he liked to have his meal well dressed.

He certainly had been foolish to bring her to Lowestoft, and the
close neighbourhood of Carbury Manor;--and now he felt his folly. As
soon as he saw Roger Carbury he blushed up to his forehead, and then
leaving Mrs Hurtle's arm he came forward, and shook hands with his
friend. 'It is Mrs Hurtle,' he said, 'I must introduce you,' and the
introduction was made. Roger took off his hat and bowed, but he did so
with the coldest ceremony. Mrs Hurtle, who was quick enough at
gathering the minds of people from their looks, was just as cold in
her acknowledgment of the courtesy. In former days she had heard much
of Roger Carbury, and surmised that he was no friend to her. 'I did
not know that you were thinking of coming to Lowestoft,' said Roger
in a voice that was needlessly severe. But his mind at the present
moment was severe, and he could not hide his mind.

'I was not thinking of it. Mrs Hurtle wished to get to the sea, and as
she knew no one else here in England, I brought her.'

'Mr Montague and I have travelled so many miles together before now,'
she said, 'that a few additional will not make much difference.'

'Do you stay long?' asked Roger in the same voice.

'I go back probably on Monday,' said Montague.

'As I shall be here a whole week, and shall not speak a word to any
one after he has left me, he has consented to bestow his company on me
for two days. Will you join us at dinner, Mr Carbury, this evening?'

'Thank you, madam;--I have dined.'

'Then, Mr Montague, I will leave you with your friend. My toilet,
though it will be very slight, will take longer than yours. We dine
you know in twenty minutes. I wish you could get your friend to join
us.' So saying, Mrs Hurtle tripped back across the sand towards the

'Is this wise?' demanded Roger in a voice that was almost sepulchral,
as soon as the lady was out of hearing.

'You may well ask that, Carbury. Nobody knows the folly of it so
thoroughly as I do.'

'Then why do you do it? Do you mean to marry her?'

'No; certainly not.'

'Is it honest then, or like a gentleman, that you should be with her
in this way? Does she think that you intend to marry her?'

'I have told her that I would not. I have told her--.' Then he stopped.
He was going on to declare that he had told her that he loved another
woman, but he felt that he could hardly touch that matter in speaking
to Roger Carbury.

'What does she mean then? Has she no regard for her own character?'

'I would explain it to you all, Carbury, if I could. But you would
never have the patience to hear me.'

'I am not naturally impatient.'

'But this would drive you mad. I wrote to her assuring her that it
must be all over. Then she came here and sent for me. Was I not bound
to go to her?'

'Yes;--to go to her and repeat what you had said in your letter.'

'I did do so. I went with that very purpose, and did repeat it.'

'Then you should have left her.'

'Ah; but you do not understand. She begged that I would not desert her
in her loneliness. We have been so much together that I could not
desert her.'

'I certainly do not understand that, Paul. You have allowed yourself
to be entrapped into a promise of marriage; and then, for reasons
which we will not go into now but which we both thought to be
adequate, you resolved to break your promise, thinking that you would
be justified in doing so. But nothing can justify you in living with
the lady afterwards on such terms as to induce her to suppose that
your old promise holds good.'

'She does not think so. She cannot think so.'

'Then what must she be, to be here with you? And what must you be, to
be here, in public, with such a one as she is? I don't know why I
should trouble you or myself about it. People live now in a way that I
don't comprehend. If this be your way of living, I have no right to

'For God's sake, Carbury, do not speak in that way. It sounds as
though you meant to throw me over.'

'I should have said that you had thrown me over. You come down here to
this hotel, where we are both known, with this lady whom you are not
going to marry;--and I meet you, just by chance. Had I known it, of
course I could have turned the other way. But coming on you by
accident, as I did, how am I not to speak to you? And if I speak, what
am I to say? Of course I think that the lady will succeed in marrying


'And that such a marriage will be your destruction. Doubtless she is

'Yes, and clever. And you must remember that the manners of her
country are not as the manners of this country.'

'Then if I marry at all,' said Roger, with all his prejudice expressed
strongly in his voice, 'I trust I may not marry a lady of her country.
She does not think that she is to marry you, and yet she comes down
here and stays with you. Paul, I don't believe it. I believe you, but
I don't believe her. She is here with you in order that she may marry
you. She is cunning and strong. You are foolish and weak. Believing as
I do that marriage with her would be destruction, I should tell her my
mind,--and leave her.' Paul at the moment thought of the gentleman in
Oregon, and of certain difficulties in leaving. 'That's what I should
do. You must go in now, I suppose, and eat your dinner.'

'I may come to the hall as I go back home?'

'Certainly you may come if you please,' said Roger. Then he bethought
himself that his welcome had not been cordial. 'I mean that I shall be
delighted to see you,' he added, marching away along the strand. Paul
did go into the hotel, and did eat his dinner. In the meantime Roger
Carbury marched far away along the strand. In all that he had said to
Montague he had spoken the truth, or that which appeared to him to be
the truth. He had not been influenced for a moment by any reference to
his own affairs. And yet he feared, he almost knew, that this man,--
who had promised to marry a strange American woman and who was at this
very moment living in close intercourse with the woman after he had
told her that he would not keep his promise,--was the chief barrier
between himself and the girl that he loved. As he had listened to John
Crumb while John spoke of Ruby Ruggles, he had told himself that he
and John Crumb were alike. With an honest, true, heartfelt desire
they both panted for the companionship of a fellow-creature whom each
had chosen. And each was to be thwarted by the make-believe regard of
unworthy youth and fatuous good looks! Crumb, by dogged perseverance
and indifference to many things, would probably be successful at last.
But what chance was there of success for him? Ruby, as soon as want or
hardship told upon her, would return to the strong arm that could be
trusted to provide her with plenty and comparative ease. But Hetta
Carbury, if once her heart had passed from her own dominion into the
possession of another, would never change her love. It was possible,
no doubt,--nay, how probable,--that her heart was still vacillating. Roger
thought that he knew that at any rate she had not as yet declared her
love. If she were now to know,--if she could now learn,--of what nature
was the love of this other man; if she could be instructed that he was
living alone with a lady whom not long since he had promised to marry,--
if she could be made to understand this whole story of Mrs Hurtle,
would not that open her eyes? Would she not then see where she could
trust her happiness, and where, by so trusting it, she would certainly
be shipwrecked!

'Never,' said Roger to himself, hitting at the stones on the beach
with his stick. 'Never.' Then he got his horse and rode back to
Carbury Manor.


When Paul got down into the dining-room Mrs Hurtle was already there,
and the waiter was standing by the side of the table ready to take the
cover off the soup. She was radiant with smiles and made herself
especially pleasant during dinner, but Paul felt sure that everything
was not well with her. Though she smiled, and talked and laughed,
there was something forced in her manner. He almost knew that she was
only waiting till the man should have left the room to speak in a
different strain. And so it was. As soon as the last lingering dish
had been removed, and when the door was finally shut behind the
retreating waiter, she asked the question which no doubt had been on
her mind since she had walked across the strand to the hotel. 'Your
friend was hardly civil; was he, Paul?'

'Do you mean that he should have come in? I have no doubt it was true
that he had dined.'

'I am quite indifferent about his dinner,--but there are two ways of
declining as there are of accepting. I suppose he is on very intimate
terms with you?'

'Oh, yes.'

'Then his want of courtesy was the more evidently intended for me. In
point of fact he disapproves of me. Is not that it?' To this question
Montague did not feel himself called upon to make any immediate
answer. 'I can well understand that it should be so. An intimate
friend may like or dislike the friend of his friend, without offence.
But unless there be strong reason he is bound to be civil to his
friend's friend, when accident brings them together. You have told me
that Mr Carbury was your beau ideal of an English gentleman.'

'So he is.'

'Then why didn't he behave as such?' and Mrs Hurtle again smiled. 'Did
not you yourself feel that you were rebuked for coming here with me,
when he expressed surprise at your journey? Has he authority over

'Of course he has not. What authority could he have?'

'Nay, I do not know. He may be your guardian. In this safe-going
country young men perhaps are not their own masters till they are past
thirty. I should have said that he was your guardian, and that he
intended to rebuke you for being in bad company. I dare say he did
after I had gone.'

This was so true that Montague did not know how to deny it. Nor was he
sure that it would be well that he should deny it. The time must come,
and why not now as well as at any future moment? He had to make her
understand that he could not join his lot with her,--chiefly indeed
because his heart was elsewhere, a reason on which he could hardly
insist because she could allege that she had a prior right to his
heart;--but also because her antecedents had been such as to cause all
his friends to warn him against such a marriage. So he plucked up
courage for the battle. 'It was nearly that,' he said.

There are many--and probably the greater portion of my readers will be
among the number,--who will declare to themselves that Paul Montague was
a poor creature, in that he felt so great a repugnance to face this
woman with the truth. His folly in falling at first under the battery
of her charms will be forgiven him. His engagement, unwise as it was,
and his subsequent determination to break his engagement, will be
pardoned. Women, and perhaps some men also, will feel that it was
natural that he should have been charmed, natural that he should have
expressed his admiration in the form which unmarried ladies expect
from unmarried men when any such expression is to be made at all;--
natural also that he should endeavour to escape from the dilemma when
he found the manifold dangers of the step which he had proposed to
take. No woman, I think, will be hard upon him because of his breach
of faith to Mrs Hurtle. But they will be very hard on him on the score
of his cowardice,--as, I think, unjustly. In social life we hardly stop
to consider how much of that daring spirit which gives mastery comes
from hardness of heart rather than from high purpose, or true courage.
The man who succumbs to his wife, the mother who succumbs to her
daughter, the master who succumbs to his servant, is as often brought
to servility by a continual aversion to the giving of pain, by a
softness which causes the fretfulness of others to be an agony to
himself,--as by any actual fear which the firmness of the imperious one
may have produced. There is an inner softness, a thinness of the
mind's skin, an incapability of seeing or even thinking of the
troubles of others with equanimity, which produces a feeling akin to
fear; but which is compatible not only with courage, but with absolute
firmness of purpose, when the demand for firmness arises so strongly
as to assert itself. With this man it was not really that. He feared
the woman;--or at least such fears did not prevail upon him to be
silent; but he shrank from subjecting her to the blank misery of utter
desertion. After what had passed between them he could hardly bring
himself to tell her that he wanted her no further and to bid her go.
But that was what he had to do. And for that his answer to her last
question prepared the way. 'It was nearly that,' he said.

'Mr Carbury did take it upon himself to rebuke you for showing
yourself on the sands at Lowestoft with such a one as I am?'

'He knew of the letter which I wrote to you.'

'You have canvassed me between you?'

'Of course we have. Is that unnatural? Would you have had me be silent
about you to the oldest and the best friend I have in the world?'

'No, I would not have had you be silent to your oldest and best
friend. I presume you would declare your purpose. But I should not
have supposed you would have asked his leave. When I was travelling
with you, I thought you were a man capable of managing your own
actions. I had heard that in your country girls sometimes hold
themselves at the disposal of their friends,--but I did not dream that
such could be the case with a man who had gone out into the world to
make his fortune.'

Paul Montague did not like it. The punishment to be endured was being
commenced. 'Of course you can say bitter things,' he replied.

'Is it my nature to say bitter things? Have I usually said bitter
things to you? When I have hung round your neck and have sworn that
you should be my God upon earth, was that bitter? I am alone and I
have to fight my own battles. A woman's weapon is her tongue. Say but
one word to me, Paul, as you know how to say it, and there will be
soon an end to that bitterness. What shall I care for Mr Carbury,
except to make him the cause of some innocent joke, if you will speak
but that one word? And think what it is I am asking. Do you remember
how urgent were once your own prayers to me;--how you swore that your
happiness could only be secured by one word of mine? Though I loved
you, I doubted. There were considerations of money, which have now
vanished. But I spoke it,--because I loved you, and because I believed
you. Give me that which you swore you had given before I made my gift
to you.'

'I cannot say that word.'

'Do you mean that, after all, I am to be thrown off like an old glove?
I have had many dealings with men and have found them to be false,
cruel, unworthy, and selfish. But I have met nothing like that. No man
has ever dared to treat me like that. No man shall dare.'

'I wrote to you.'

'Wrote to me;--yes! And I was to take that as sufficient! No. I think
but little of my life and have but little for which to live. But while
I do live I will travel over the world's surface to face injustice and
to expose it, before I will put up with it. You wrote to me! Heaven
and earth;--I can hardly control myself when I hear such impudence!' She
clenched her fist upon the knife that lay on the table as she looked
at him, and raising it, dropped it again at a further distance. 'Wrote
to me! Could any mere letter of your writing break the bond by which
we were bound together? Had not the distance between us seemed to have
made you safe would you have dared to write that letter? The letter
must be unwritten. It has already been contradicted by your conduct to
me since I have been in this country.'

'I am sorry to hear you say that.'

'Am I not justified in saying it?'

'I hope not. When I first saw you I told you everything. If I have
been wrong in attending to your wishes since, I regret it.'

'This comes from your seeing your master for two minutes on the beach.
You are acting now under his orders. No doubt he came with the
purpose. Had you told him you were to be here?'

'His coming was an accident.'

'It was very opportune at any rate. Well;--what have you to say to me?
Or am I to understand that you suppose yourself to have said all that
is required of you? Perhaps you would prefer that I should argue the
matter out with your--friend, Mr Carbury.'

'What has to be said, I believe I can say myself.'

'Say it then. Or are you so ashamed of it that the words stick in your

'There is some truth in that. I am ashamed of it. I must say that
which will be painful, and which would not have been to be said, had I
been fairly careful.'

Then he paused. 'Don't spare me,' she said. 'I know what it all is as
well as though it were already told. I know the lies with which they
have crammed you at San Francisco. You have heard that up in Oregon--
I shot a man. That is no lie. I did. I brought him down dead at my
feet.' Then she paused, and rose from her chair, and looked at him.
'Do you wonder that that is a story that a woman should hesitate to
tell? But not from shame. Do you suppose that the sight of that dying
wretch does not haunt me? that I do not daily hear his drunken
screech, and see him bound from the earth, and then fall in a heap
just below my hand? But did they tell you also that it was thus alone
that I could save myself,--and that had I spared him, I must afterwards
have destroyed myself? If I were wrong, why did they not try me for
his murder? Why did the women flock around me and kiss the very hems
of my garments? In this soft civilization of yours you know nothing of
such necessity. A woman here is protected,--unless it be from lies.'

'It was not that only,' he whispered.

'No; they told you other things,' she continued, still standing over
him. 'They told you of quarrels with my husband. I know the lies, and
who made them, and why. Did I conceal from you the character of my
former husband? Did I not tell you that he was a drunkard and a
scoundrel? How should I not quarrel with such a one? Ah, Paul; you can
hardly know what my life has been.'

'They told me that--you fought him.'

'Psha;--fought him! Yes;--I was always fighting him. What are you
to do but to fight cruelty, and fight falsehood, and fight fraud and
treachery,--when they come upon you and would overwhelm you but for
fighting? You have not been fool enough to believe that fable about a
duel? I did stand once, armed, and guarded my bedroom door from him,
and told him that he should only enter it over my body. He went away
to the tavern and I did not see him for a week afterwards. That was
the duel. And they have told you that he is not dead.'

'Yes;--they have told me that.'

'Who has seen him alive? I never said to you that I had seen him dead.
How should I?'

'There would be a certificate.'

'Certificate;--in the back of Texas;--five hundred miles from Galveston!
And what would it matter to you? I was divorced from him according to
the law of the State of Kansas. Does not the law make a woman free
here to marry again,--and why not with us? I sued for a divorce on the
score of cruelty and drunkenness. He made no appearance, and the Court
granted it me. Am I disgraced by that?'

'I heard nothing of the divorce.'

'I do not remember. When we were talking of these old days before, you
did not care how short I was in telling my story. You wanted to hear
little or nothing then of Caradoc Hurtle. Now you have become more
particular. I told you that he was dead,--as I believed myself, and do
believe. Whether the other story was told or not I do not know.'

'It was not told.'

'Then it was your own fault,--because you would not listen. And they
have made you believe I suppose that I have failed in getting back my

'I have heard nothing about your property but what you yourself have
said unasked. I have asked no question about your property.'

'You are welcome. At last I have made it again my own. And now, sir,
what else is there? I think I have been open with you. Is it because
I protected myself from drunken violence that I am to be rejected? Am
I to be cast aside because I saved my life while in the hands of a
reprobate husband, and escaped from him by means provided by law;--or
because by my own energy I have secured my own property? If I am not
to be condemned for these things, then say why am I condemned.'

She had at any rate saved him the trouble of telling the story, but in
doing so had left him without a word to say. She had owned to shooting
the man. Well; it certainly may be necessary that a woman should shoot
a man--especially in Oregon. As to the duel with her husband,--she had
half denied and half confessed it. He presumed that she had been armed
with a pistol when she refused Mr Hurtle admittance into the nuptial
chamber. As to the question of Hurtle's death,--she had confessed that
perhaps he was not dead. But then,--as she had asked,--why should not a
divorce for the purpose in hand be considered as good as a death? He
could not say that she had not washed herself clean;--and yet, from the
story as told by herself, what man would wish to marry her? She had
seen so much of drunkenness, had become so handy with pistols, and had
done so much of a man's work, that any ordinary man might well
hesitate before he assumed to be her master. 'I do not condemn you,'
he replied.

'At any rate, Paul, do not lie,' she answered. 'If you tell me that
you will not be my husband, you do condemn me. Is it not so?'

'I will not lie if I can help it. I did ask you to be my wife--'

'Well--rather. How often before I consented?'

'It matters little; at any rate, till you did consent. I have since
satisfied myself that such a marriage would be miserable for both of

'You have.'

'I have. Of course, you can speak of me as you please and think of me
as you please. I can hardly defend myself.'

'Hardly, I think.'

'But, with whatever result, I know that I shall now be acting for the
best in declaring that I will not become--your husband.'

'You will not?' She was still standing, and stretched out her right
hand as though again to grasp something.

He also now rose from his chair. 'If I speak with abruptness it is
only to avoid a show of indecision. I will not.'

'Oh, God! what have I done that it should be my lot to meet man after
man false and cruel as this! You tell me to my face that I am to bear
it! Who is the jade that has done it? Has she money?--or rank? Or is it
that you are afraid to have by your side a woman who can speak for
herself,--and even act for herself if some action be necessary? Perhaps
you think that I am--old.' He was looking at her intently as she spoke,
and it did seem to him that many years had been added to her face. It
was full of lines round the mouth, and the light play of drollery was
gone, and the colour was fixed and her eyes seemed to be deep in her
head. 'Speak, man,--is it that you want a younger wife?'

'You know it is not.'

'Know! How should any one know anything from a liar? From what you
tell me I know nothing. I have to gather what I can from your
character. I see that you are a coward. It is that man that came to
you, and who is your master, that has forced you to this. Between me
and him you tremble, and are a thing to be pitied. As for knowing what
you would be at, from anything that you would say,--that is impossible.
Once again I have come across a mean wretch. Oh, fool!--that men should
be so vile, and think themselves masters of the world! My last word to
you is, that you are--a liar. Now for the present you can go. Ten
minutes since, had I had a weapon in my hand I should have shot
another man.'

Paul Montague, as he looked round the room for his hat, could not but
think that perhaps Mrs Hurtle might have had some excuse. It seemed at
any rate to be her custom to have a pistol with her,--though luckily,
for his comfort, she had left it in her bedroom on the present
occasion. 'I will say good-bye to you,' he said, when he had found his

'Say no such thing. Tell me that you have triumphed and got rid of me.
Pluck up your spirits, if you have any, and show me your joy. Tell me
that an Englishman has dared to ill-treat an American woman. You
would,--were you not afraid to indulge yourself.' He was now standing
in the doorway, and before he escaped she gave him an imperative
command. 'I shall not stay here now,' she said--'I shall return on
Monday. I must think of what you have said, and must resolve what I
myself will do. I shall not bear this without seeking a means of
punishing you for your treachery. I shall expect you to come to me on

He closed the door as he answered her. 'I do not see that it will
serve any purpose.'

'It is for me, sir, to judge of that. I suppose you are not so much a
coward that you are afraid to come to me. If so, I shall come to you;
and you may be assured that I shall not be too timid to show myself
and to tell my story.' He ended by saying that if she desired it he
would wait upon her, but that he would not at present fix a day. On
his return to town he would write to her.

When he was gone she went to the door and listened awhile. Then she
closed it, and turning the lock, stood with her back against the door
and with her hands clasped. After a few moments she ran forward, and
falling on her knees, buried her face in her hands upon the table.
Then she gave way to a flood of tears, and at last lay rolling upon
the floor.

Was this to be the end of it? Should she never know rest;--never have
one draught of cool water between her lips? Was there to be no end to
the storms and turmoils and misery of her life? In almost all that she
had said she had spoken the truth, though doubtless not all the truth,--
as which among us would in giving the story of his life? She had
endured violence, and had been violent. She had been schemed against,
and had schemed. She had fitted herself to the life which had befallen
her. But in regard to money, she had been honest and she had been
loving of heart. With her heart of hearts she had loved this young
Englishman;--and now, after all her scheming, all her daring, with all
her charms, this was to be the end of it! Oh, what a journey would
this be which she must now make back to her own country, all alone!

But the strongest feeling which raged within her bosom was that of
disappointed love. Full as had been the vials of wrath which she had
poured forth over Montague's head, violent as had been the storm of
abuse with which she had assailed him, there had been after all
something counterfeited in her indignation. But her love was no
counterfeit. At any moment if he would have returned to her and taken
her in his arms, she would not only have forgiven him but have blessed
him also for his kindness. She was in truth sick at heart of violence
and rough living and unfeminine words. When driven by wrongs the old
habit came back upon her. But if she could only escape the wrongs, if
she could find some niche in the world which would be bearable to her,
in which, free from harsh treatment, she could pour forth all the
genuine kindness of her woman's nature,--then, she thought she could put
away violence and be gentle as a young girl. When she first met this
Englishman and found that he took delight in being near her, she had
ventured to hope that a haven would at last be open to her. But the
reek of the gunpowder from that first pistol shot still clung to her,
and she now told herself again, as she had often told herself before,
that it would have been better for her to have turned the muzzle
against her own bosom.

After receiving his letter she had run over on what she had told
herself was a vain chance. Though angry enough when that letter first
reached her, she had, with that force of character which marked her,
declared to herself that such a resolution on his part was natural. In
marrying her he must give up all his old allies, all his old haunts.
The whole world must be changed to him. She knew enough of herself,
and enough of Englishwomen, to be sure that when her past life should
be known, as it would be known, she would be avoided in England. With
all the little ridicule she was wont to exercise in speaking of the
old country there was ever mixed, as is so often the case in the minds
of American men and women, an almost envious admiration of English
excellence. To have been allowed to forget the past and to live the
life of an English lady would have been heaven to her. But she, who
was sometimes scorned and sometimes feared in the eastern cities of
her own country, whose name had become almost a proverb for violence
out in the far West,--how could she dare to hope that her lot should be
so changed for her?

She had reminded Paul that she had required to be asked often before
she had consented to be his wife; but she did not tell him that that
hesitation had arisen from her own conviction of her own unfitness.
But it had been so. Circumstances had made her what she was.
Circumstances had been cruel to her. But she could not now alter them.
Then gradually, as she came to believe in his love, as she lost
herself in love for him, she told herself that she would be changed.
She had, however, almost known that it could not be so. But this man
had relatives, had business, had property in her own country. Though
she could not be made happy in England, might not a prosperous life
be opened for him in the far West? Then had risen the offer of that
journey to Mexico with much probability that work of no ordinary
kind might detain him there for years. With what joy would she have
accompanied him as his wife! For that at any rate she would have been

She was conscious, perhaps too conscious, of her own beauty. That at
any rate, she felt, had not deserted her. She was hardly aware that
time was touching it. And she knew herself to be clever, capable of
causing happiness, and mirth and comfort. She had the qualities of a
good comrade--which are so much in a woman. She knew all this of
herself. If he and she could be together in some country in which
those stories of her past life would be matter of indifference, could
she not make him happy? But what was she that a man should give up
everything and go away and spend his days in some half-barbarous
country for her alone? She knew it all and was hardly angry with him
in that he had decided against her. But treated as she had been she
must play her game with such weapons as she possessed. It was
consonant with her old character, it was consonant with her present
plans that she should at any rate seem to be angry.

Sitting there alone late into the night she made many plans, but the
plan that seemed best to suit the present frame of her mind was the
writing of a letter to Paul bidding him adieu, sending him her fondest
love, and telling him that he was right. She did write the letter, but
wrote it with a conviction that she would not have the strength to
send it to him. The reader may judge with what feeling she wrote the
following words:--


You are right and I am wrong. Our marriage would not have been
fitting. I do not blame you. I attracted you when we were
together; but you have learned and have learned truly that you
should not give up your life for such attractions. If I have
been violent with you, forgive me. You will acknowledge that I
have suffered.

Always know that there is one woman who will love you better
than any one else. I think too that you will love me even when
some other woman is by your side. God bless you, and make you
happy. Write me the shortest, shortest word of adieu. Not to do
so would make you think yourself heartless. But do not come to

For ever

W. H.

This she wrote on a small slip of paper, and then having read it
twice, she put it into her pocket-book. She told herself that she
ought to send it; but told herself as plainly that she could not bring
herself to do so. It was early in the morning before she went to bed
but she had admitted no one into the room after Montague had left her.

Paul, when he escaped from her presence, roamed out on to the
sea-shore, and then took himself to bed, having ordered a conveyance
to take him to Carbury Manor early in the morning. At breakfast he
presented himself to the squire. 'I have come earlier than you
expected,' he said.

'Yes, indeed;--much earlier. Are you going back to Lowestoft?'

Then he told the whole story. Roger expressed his satisfaction,
recalling however the pledge which he had given as to his return. 'Let
her follow you, and bear it,' he said. 'Of course you must suffer the
effects of your own imprudence.' On that evening Paul Montague
returned to London by the mail train, being sure that he would thus
avoid a meeting with Mrs Hurtle in the railway-carriage.


Ruby had run away from her lover in great dudgeon after the dance at
the Music Hall, and had declared that she never wanted to see him
again. But when reflection came with the morning her misery was
stronger than her wrath. What would life be to her now without her
lover? When she escaped from her grandfather's house she certainly had
not intended to become nurse and assistant maid-of-all-work at a
London lodging-house. The daily toil she could endure, and the hard
life, as long as she was supported by the prospect of some coming
delight. A dance with Felix at the Music Hall, though it were three
days distant from her, would so occupy her mind that she could wash
and dress all the children without complaint. Mrs Pipkin was forced to
own to herself that Ruby did earn her bread. But when she had parted
with her lover almost on an understanding that they were never to meet
again, things were very different with her. And perhaps she had been
wrong. A gentleman like Sir Felix did not of course like to be told
about marriage. If she gave him another chance, perhaps he would
speak. At any rate she could not live without another dance. And so
she wrote him a letter.

Ruby was glib enough with her pen, though what she wrote will hardly
bear repeating. She underscored all her loves to him. She underscored
the expression of her regret if she had vexed him. She did not want to
hurry a gentleman. But she did want to have another dance at the Music
Hall. Would he be there next Saturday? Sir Felix sent her a very short
reply to say that he would be at the Music Hall on the Tuesday. As at
this time he proposed to leave London on the Wednesday on his way to
New York, he was proposing to devote his very last night to the
companionship of Ruby Ruggles.

Mrs Pipkin had never interfered with her niece's letters. It is
certainly a part of the new dispensation that young women shall send
and receive letters without inspection. But since Roger Carbury's
visit Mrs Pipkin had watched the postman, and had also watched her
niece. For nearly a week Ruby said not a word of going out at night.
She took the children for an airing in a broken perambulator, nearly
as far as Holloway, with exemplary care, and washed up the cups and
saucers as though her mind was intent upon them. But Mrs Pipkin's mind
was intent on obeying Mr Carbury's behests. She had already hinted
something as to which Ruby had made no answer. It was her purpose to
tell her and to swear to her most,--solemnly should she find her
preparing herself to leave the house after six in the evening,--that she
should be kept out the whole night, having a purpose equally clear in
her own mind that she would break her oath should she be unsuccessful
in her effort to keep Ruby at home. But on the Tuesday, when Ruby went
up to her room to deck herself, a bright idea as to a better
precaution struck Mrs Pipkin's mind. Ruby had been careless,--had left
her lover's scrap of a note in an old pocket when she went out with
the children, and Mrs Pipkin knew all about it. It was nine o'clock
when Ruby went upstairs,--and then Mrs Pipkin locked both the front door
and the area gate. Mrs Hurtle had come home on the previous day. 'You
won't be wanting to go out to-night;--will you, Mrs Hurtle?' said Mrs
Pipkin, knocking at her lodger's door. Mrs Hurtle declared her purpose
of remaining at home all the evening. 'If you should hear words
between me and my niece, don't you mind, ma'am.'

'I hope there's nothing wrong, Mrs Pipkin?'

'She'll be wanting to go out, and I won't have it. It isn't right; is
it, ma'am? She's a good girl; but they've got such a way nowadays of
doing just as they pleases, that one doesn't know what's going to come
next.' Mrs Pipkin must have feared downright rebellion when she thus
took her lodger into her confidence.

Ruby came down in her silk frock, as she had done before, and made her
usual little speech. 'I'm just going to step out, aunt, for a little
time to-night. I've got the key, and I'll let myself in quite quiet.'

'Indeed, Ruby, you won't,' said Mrs Pipkin.

'Won't what, aunt?'

'Won't let yourself in, if you go out. If you go out to-night you'll
stay out. That's all about it. If you go out to-night you won't come
back here any more. I won't have it, and it isn't right that I should.
You're going after that young man that they tell me is the greatest
scamp in all England.'

'They tell you lies then, Aunt Pipkin.'

'Very well. No girl is going out any more at nights out of my house;
so that's all about it. If you had told me you was going before, you
needn't have gone up and bedizened yourself. For now it's all to take
off again.'

Ruby could hardly believe it. She had expected some opposition,--what
she would have called a few words; but she had never imagined that her
aunt would threaten to keep her in the streets all night. It seemed to
her that she had bought the privilege of amusing herself by hard work.
Nor did she believe now that her aunt would be as hard as her threat.
'I've a right to go if I like,' she said.

'That's as you think. You haven't a right to come back again, any

'Yes, I have. I've worked for you a deal harder than the girl
downstairs, and I don't want no wages. I've a right to go out, and a
right to come back;--and go I shall.'

'You'll be no better than you should be, if you do.'

'Am I to work my very nails off, and push that perambulator about all
day till my legs won't carry me,--and then I ain't to go out, not once
in a week?'

'Not unless I know more about it, Ruby. I won't have you go and throw
yourself into the gutter;--not while you're with me.'

'Who's throwing themselves into the gutter? I've thrown myself into no
gutter. I know what I'm about.'

'There's two of us that way, Ruby;--for I know what I'm about.'

'I shall just go then.' And Ruby walked off towards the door.

'You won't get out that way, any way, for the door's locked;--and the
area gate. You'd better be said, Ruby, and just take your things off.'

Poor Ruby for the moment was struck dumb with mortification. Mrs
Pipkin had given her credit for more outrageous perseverance than she
possessed, and had feared that she would rattle at the front door, or
attempt to climb over the area gate. She was a little afraid of Ruby,
not feeling herself justified in holding absolute dominion over her as
over a servant. And though she was now determined in her conduct,--being
fully resolved to surrender neither of the keys which she held in her
pocket,--still she feared that she might so far collapse as to fall away
into tears, should Ruby be violent. But Ruby was crushed. Her lover
would be there to meet her, and the appointment would be broken by
her! 'Aunt Pipkin,' she said, 'let me go just this once.'

'No, Ruby;--it ain't proper.'

'You don't know what you're a doing of, aunt; you don't. You'll ruin
me,--you will. Dear Aunt Pipkin, do, do! I'll never ask again, if you
don't like.'

Mrs Pipkin had not expected this, and was almost willing to yield. But
Mr Carbury had spoken so very plainly! 'It ain't the thing, Ruby; and
I won't do it.'

'And I'm to be--a prisoner! What have I done to be--a prisoner? I
don't believe as you've any right to lock me up.'

'I've a right to lock my own doors.'

'Then I shall go away to-morrow.'

'I can't help that, my dear. The door will be open to-morrow, if you
choose to go out.'

'Then why not open it to-night? Where's the difference?' But Mrs Pipkin
was stern, and Ruby, in a flood of tears, took herself up to her

Mrs Pipkin knocked at Mrs Hurtle's door again. 'She's gone to bed,' she

'I'm glad to hear it. There wasn't any noise about it;--was there?'

'Not as I expected, Mrs Hurtle, certainly. But she was put out a bit.
Poor girl! I've been a girl too, and used to like a bit of outing as
well as any one,--and a dance too; only it was always when mother knew.
She ain't got a mother, poor dear! and as good as no father. And she's
got it into her head that she's that pretty that a great gentleman
will marry her.'

'She is pretty!'

'But what's beauty, Mrs Hurtle? It's no more nor skin deep, as the
scriptures tell us. And what'd a grand gentleman see in Ruby to marry
her? She says she'll leave to-morrow.'

'And where will she go?'

'Just nowhere. After this gentleman,--and you know what that means!
You're going to be married yourself, Mrs Hurtle.'

'We won't mind about that now, Mrs Pipkin.'

'And this'll be your second, and you know how these things are
managed. No gentleman'll marry her because she runs after him. Girls
as knows what they're about should let the gentlemen run after them.
That's my way of looking at it.'

'Don't you think they should be equal in that respect?'

'Anyways the girls shouldn't let on as they are running after the
gentlemen. A gentlemen goes here and he goes there, and he speaks up
free, of course. In my time, girls usen't to do that. But then, maybe,
I'm old-fashioned,' added Mrs Pipkin, thinking of the new

'I suppose girls do speak for themselves more than they did formerly.'

'A deal more, Mrs Hurtle; quite different. You hear them talk of
spooning with this fellow, and spooning with that fellow,--and that
before their very fathers and mothers! When I was young we used to do
it, I suppose,--only not like that.'

'You did it on the sly.'

'I think we got married quicker than they do, anyway. When the
gentlemen had to take more trouble they thought more about it. But if
you wouldn't mind speaking to Ruby to-morrow, Mrs Hurtle, she'd listen
to you when she wouldn't mind a word I said to her. I don't want her
to go away from this, out into the Street, till she knows where she's
to go to, decent. As for going to her young man,--that's just walking
the streets.'

Mrs Hurtle promised that she would speak to Ruby, though when making
the promise she could not but think of her unfitness for the task. She
knew nothing of the country. She had not a single friend in it, but
Paul Montague;--and she had run after him with as little discretion as
Ruby Ruggles was showing in running after her lover. Who was she that
she should take upon herself to give advice to any female?

She had not sent her letter to Paul, but she still kept it in her
pocket-book. At some moments she thought that she would send it; and
at others she told herself that she would never surrender this last
hope till every stone had been turned. It might still be possible to
shame him into a marriage. She had returned from Lowestoft on the
Monday, and had made some trivial excuse to Mrs Pipkin in her mildest
voice. The place had been windy, and too cold for her;--and she had not
liked the hotel. Mrs Pipkin was very glad to see her back again.


Sir Felix, when he promised to meet Ruby at the Music Hall on the
Tuesday, was under an engagement to start with Marie Melmotte for New
York on the Thursday following, and to go down to Liverpool on the
Wednesday. There was no reason, he thought, why he should not enjoy
himself to the last, and he would say a parting word to poor little
Ruby. The details of his journey were settled between him and Marie,
with no inconsiderable assistance from Didon, in the garden of Grosvenor
Square, on the previous Sunday,--where the lovers had again met during
the hours of morning service. Sir Felix had been astonished at the
completion of the preparations which had been made. 'Mind you go by
the 5 p.m. train,' Marie said. 'That will take you into Liverpool at
10:15. There's an hotel at the railway station. Didon has got our
tickets under the names of Madame and Mademoiselle Racine. We are to
have one cabin between us. You must get yours to-morrow. She has found
out that there is plenty of room.'

'I'll be all right.'

'Pray don't miss the train that afternoon. Somebody would be sure to
suspect something if we were seen together in the same train. We leave
at 7 a.m. I shan't go to bed all night, so as to be sure to be in
time. Robert,--he's the man,--will start a little earlier in the cab
with my heavy box. What do you think is in it?'

'Clothes,' suggested Felix.

'Yes, but what clothes?--my wedding dresses. Think of that! What a job
to get them and nobody to know anything about it except Didon and
Madame Craik at the shop in Mount Street! They haven't come yet, but I
shall be there whether they come or not. And I shall have all my
jewels. I'm not going to leave them behind. They'll go off in our cab.
We can get the things out behind the house into the mews. Then Didon
and I follow in another cab. Nobody ever is up before near nine, and I
don't think we shall be interrupted.'

'If the servants were to hear.'

'I don't think they'd tell. But if I was to be brought back again, I
should only tell papa that it was no good. He can't prevent me

'Won't your mother find out?'

'She never looks after anything. I don't think she'd tell if she
knew. Papa leads her such a life! Felix! I hope you won't be like
that.'--And she looked up into his face, and thought that it would be
impossible that he should be.

'I'm all right,' said Felix, feeling very uncomfortable at the time.
This great effort of his life was drawing very near. There had been a
pleasurable excitement in talking of running away with the great
heiress of the day, but now that the deed had to be executed,--and
executed after so novel and stupendous a fashion, he almost wished
that he had not undertaken it. It must have been much nicer when men
ran away with their heiresses only as far as Gretna Green. And even
Goldsheiner with Lady Julia had nothing of a job in comparison with
this which he was expected to perform. And then if they should be
wrong about the girl's fortune! He almost repented. He did repent, but
he had not the courage to recede. 'How about money though?' he said

'You have got some?'

'I have just the two hundred pounds which your father paid me, and not
a shilling more. I don't see why he should keep my money, and not let
me have it back.'

'Look here,' said Marie, and she put her hand into her pocket. 'I told
you I thought I could get some. There is a cheque for two hundred and
fifty pounds. I had money of my own enough for the tickets.'

'And whose is this?' said Felix, taking the bit of paper with much

'It is papa's cheque. Mamma gets ever so many of them to carry on the
house and pay for things. But she gets so muddled about it that she
doesn't know what she pays and what she doesn't.' Felix looked at the
cheque and saw that it was payable to House or Bearer, and that it was
signed by Augustus Melmotte. 'If you take it to the bank you'll get
the money,' said Marie. 'Or shall I send Didon, and give you the money
on board the ship?'

Felix thought over the matter very anxiously. If he did go on the
journey he would much prefer to have the money in his own pocket. He
liked the feeling of having money in his pocket. Perhaps if Didon were
entrusted with the cheque she also would like the feeling. But then
might it not be possible that if he presented the cheque himself he
might be arrested for stealing Melmotte's money? 'I think Didon had
better get the money,' he said, 'and bring it to me to-morrow, at four
o'clock in the afternoon, to the club.' If the money did not come he
would not go down to Liverpool, nor would he be at the expense of his
ticket for New York. 'You see,' he said, 'I'm so much in the City that
they might know me at the bank.' To this arrangement Marie assented
and took back the cheque. 'And then I'll come on board on Thursday
morning,' he said, 'without looking for you.'

'Oh dear, yes;--without looking for us. And don't know us even till we
are out at sea. Won't it be fun when we shall be walking about on the
deck and not speaking to one another! And, Felix;--what do you think?
Didon has found out that there is to be an American clergyman on
board. I wonder whether he'd marry us.'

'Of course he will.'

'Won't that be jolly? I wish it was all done. Then, directly it's
done, and when we get to New York, we'll telegraph and write to papa,
and we'll be ever so penitent and good; won't we? Of course he'll make
the best of it.'

'But he's so savage; isn't he?'

'When there's anything to get;--or just at the moment. But I don't think
he minds afterwards. He's always for making the best of everything;--
misfortunes and all. Things go wrong so often that if he was to go on
thinking of them always they'd be too many for anybody. It'll be all
right in a month's time. I wonder how Lord Nidderdale will look when
he hears that we've gone off. I should so like to see him. He never
can say that I've behaved bad to him. We were engaged, but it was he
broke it. Do you know, Felix, that though we were engaged to be
married, and everybody knew it, he never once kissed me!' Felix at
this moment almost wished that he had never done so. As to what the
other man had done, he cared nothing at all.

Then they parted with the understanding that they were not to see each
other again till they met on board the boat. All arrangements were
made. But Felix was determined that he would not stir in the matter
unless Didon brought him the full sum of £250; and he almost thought,
and indeed hoped, that she would not. Either she would be suspected at
the bank and apprehended, or she would run off with the money on her
own account when she got it;--or the cheque would have been missed and
the payment stopped. Some accident would occur, and then he would be
able to recede from his undertaking. He would do nothing till after
Monday afternoon.

Should he tell his mother that he was going? His mother had clearly
recommended him to run away with the girl, and must therefore approve
of the measure. His mother would understand how great would be the
expense of such a trip, and might perhaps add something to his stock
of money. He determined that he could tell his mother;--that is, if
Didon should bring him full change for the cheque.

He walked into the Beargarden exactly at four o'clock on the Monday,
and there he found Didon standing in the hall. His heart sank within
him as he saw her. Now must he certainly go to New York. She made him
a little curtsey, and without a word handed him an envelope, soft and
fat with rich enclosures. He bade her wait a moment, and going into a
little waiting-room counted the notes. The money was all there;--the
full sum of £250. He must certainly go to New York. 'C'est tout èn
regle?' said Didon in a whisper as he returned to the hall. Sir Felix
nodded his head, and Didon took her departure.

Yes; he must go now. He had Melmotte's money in his pocket, and was
therefore bound to run away with Melmotte's daughter. It was a great
trouble to him as he reflected that Melmotte had more of his money
than he had of Melmotte's. And now how should he dispose of his time
before he went? Gambling was too dangerous. Even he felt that. Where
would he be were he to lose his ready money? He would dine that night
at the club, and in the evening go up to his mother. On the Tuesday he
would take his place for New York in the City, and would spend the
evening with Ruby at the Music Hall. On the Wednesday, he would start
for Liverpool,--according to his instructions. He felt annoyed that
he had been so fully instructed. But should the affair turn out well
nobody would know that. All the fellows would give him credit for the
audacity with which he had carried off the heiress to America.

At ten o'clock he found his mother and Hetta in Welbeck Street--
'What; Felix?' exclaimed Lady Carbury.

'You're surprised; are you not?' Then he threw himself into a chair.
'Mother,' he said, 'would you mind coming into the other room?' Lady
Carbury of course went with him. 'I've got something to tell you,' he

'Good news?' she asked, clasping her hands together. From his manner
she thought that it was good news. Money had in some way come into his
hands,--or at any rate a prospect of money.

'That's as may be,' he said, and then he paused.

'Don't keep me in suspense, Felix.'

'The long and the short of it is that I'm going to take Marie off.'

'Oh, Felix.'

'You said you thought it was the right thing to do;--and therefore I'm
going to do it. The worst of it is that one wants such a lot of money

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