Beauchamps Career, v3 by George Meredith

This etext was produced by David Widger BEAUCHAMP’S CAREER By George Meredith 1897 BOOK 3. XIX. LORD PALMET, AND CERTAIN ELECTORS XX. A DAY AT ITCHINCOPE XXI. THE QUESTION AS TO THE EXAMINATION OF THE WHIGS, AND THE FINE BLOW STRUCK BY MR. EVERARD ROMFREY XXII. THE DRIVE INTO BEVISHAM XXIII. TOURDESTELLE XXIV. HIS HOLIDAY
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This etext was produced by David Widger

[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the file for those who may wish to sample the author’s ideas before making an entire meal of them. D.W.]

BEAUCHAMP’S CAREER

By George Meredith

1897

BOOK 3.
XIX. LORD PALMET, AND CERTAIN ELECTORS XX. A DAY AT ITCHINCOPE
XXI. THE QUESTION AS TO THE EXAMINATION OF THE WHIGS, AND THE FINE BLOW STRUCK BY MR. EVERARD ROMFREY XXII. THE DRIVE INTO BEVISHAM
XXIII. TOURDESTELLE
XXIV. HIS HOLIDAY
XXV. THE ADVENTURE OF THE BOAT

CHAPTER XIX

LORD PALMET, AND CERTAIN ELECTORS OF BEVISHAM

Meantime the candidates raised knockers, rang bells, bowed, expounded their views, praised their virtues, begged for votes, and greatly and strangely did the youngest of them enlarge his knowledge of his countrymen. But he had an insatiable appetite, and except in relation to Mr. Cougham, considerable tolerance. With Cougham, he was like a young hound in the leash. They had to run as twins; but Beauchamp’s conjunct would not run, he would walk. He imposed his experience on Beauchamp, with an assumption that it must necessarily be taken for the law of Beauchamp’s reason in electoral and in political affairs, and this was hard on Beauchamp, who had faith in his reason. Beauchamp’s early canvassing brought Cougham down to Bevisham earlier than usual in the days when he and Seymour Austin divided the borough, and he inclined to administer correction to the Radically-disposed youngster. ‘Yes, I have gone all over that,’ he said, in speech sometimes, in manner perpetually, upon the intrusion of an idea by his junior. Cougham also, Cougham had passed through his Radical phase, as one does on the road to wisdom. So the frog telleth tadpoles: he too has wriggled most preposterous of tails; and he has shoved a circular flat head into corners unadapted to its shape; and that the undeveloped one should dutifully listen to experience and accept guidance, is devoutly to be hoped. Alas! Beauchamp would not be taught that though they were yoked they stood at the opposite ends of the process of evolution.

The oddly coupled pair deplored, among their respective friends, the disastrous Siamese twinship created by a haphazard improvident Liberal camp. Look at us! they said:–Beauchamp is a young demagogue; Cougham is chrysalis Tory. Such Liberals are the ruin of Liberalism; but of such must it be composed when there is no new cry to loosen floods. It was too late to think of an operation to divide them. They held the heart of the cause between them, were bound fast together, and had to go on. Beauchamp, with a furious tug of Radicalism, spoken or performed, pulled Cougham on his beam-ends. Cougham, to right himself, defined his Liberalism sharply from the politics of the pit, pointed to France and her Revolutions, washed his hands of excesses, and entirely overset Beauchamp. Seeing that he stood in the Liberal interest, the junior could not abandon the Liberal flag; so he seized it and bore it ahead of the time, there where Radicals trip their phantom dances like shadows on a fog, and waved it as the very flag of our perfectible race. So great was the impetus that Cougham had no choice but to step out with him briskly–voluntarily as a man propelled by a hand on his coat-collar. A word saved him: the word practical. ‘Are we practical?’ he inquired, and shivered Beauchamp’s galloping frame with a violent application of the stop abrupt; for that question, ‘Are we practical?’ penetrates the bosom of an English audience, and will surely elicit a response if not. plaudits. Practical or not, the good people affectingly wish to be thought practical. It has been asked by them

If we’re not practical, what are we?–Beauchamp, talking to Cougham apart, would argue that the daring and the far-sighted course was often the most practical. Cougham extended a deprecating hand: ‘Yes, I have gone over all that.’ Occasionally he was maddening.

The melancholy position of the senior and junior Liberals was known abroad and matter of derision.

It happened that the gay and good-humoured young Lord Palmet, heir to the earldom of Elsea, walking up the High Street of Bevisham, met Beauchamp on Tuesday morning as he sallied out of his hotel to canvass. Lord Palmet was one of the numerous half-friends of Cecil Baskelett, and it may be a revelation of his character to you, that he owned to liking Beauchamp because of his having always been a favourite with the women. He began chattering, with Beauchamp’s hand in his: ‘I’ve hit on you, have I? My dear fellow, Miss Halkett was talking of you last night. I slept at Mount Laurels; went on purpose to have a peep. I’m bound for Itchincope. They’ve some grand procession in view there; Lespel wrote for my team; I suspect he’s for starting some new October races. He talks of half-a-dozen drags. He must have lots of women there. I say, what a splendid creature Cissy Halkett has shot up! She topped the season this year, and will next. You’re for the darkies, Beauchamp. So am I, when I don’t see a blonde; just as a fellow admires a girl when there’s no married woman or widow in sight. And, I say, it can’t be true you’ve gone in for that crazy Radicalism? There’s nothing to be gained by it, you know; the women hate it! A married blonde of five-and- twenty’s the Venus of them all. Mind you, I don’t forget that Mrs. Wardour-Devereux is a thorough-paced brunette; but, upon my honour, I’d bet on Cissy Halkett at forty. “A dark eye in woman,” if you like, but blue and auburn drive it into a corner.’

Lord Palmet concluded by asking Beauchamp what he was doing and whither going.

Beauchamp proposed to him maliciously, as one of our hereditary legislators, to come and see something of canvassing. Lord Palmet had no objection. ‘Capital opportunity for a review of their women,’ he remarked.

‘I map the places for pretty women in England; some parts of Norfolk, and a spot or two in Cumberland and Wales, and the island over there, I know thoroughly. Those Jutes have turned out some splendid fair women. Devonshire’s worth a tour. My man Davis is in charge of my team, and he drives to Itchincope from Washwater station. I am independent; I ‘ll have an hour with you. Do you think much of the women here?’

Beauchamp had not noticed them.

Palmet observed that he should not have noticed anything else.

‘But you are qualifying for the Upper House,’ Beauchamp said in the tone of an encomium.

Palmet accepted the statement. ‘Though I shall never care to figure before peeresses,’ he said. ‘I can’t tell you why. There’s a heavy sprinkling of the old bird among them. It isn’t that. There’s too much plumage; I think it must be that. A cloud of millinery shoots me off a mile from a woman. In my opinion, witches are the only ones for wearing jewels without chilling the feminine atmosphere about them. Fellows think differently.’ Lord Palmet waved a hand expressive of purely amiable tolerance, for this question upon the most important topic of human affairs was deep, and no judgement should be hasty in settling it. ‘I’m peculiar,’ he resumed. ‘A rose and a string of pearls: a woman who goes beyond that’s in danger of petrifying herself and her fellow man. Two women in Paris, last winter, set us on fire with pale thin gold ornaments–neck, wrists, ears, ruche, skirts, all in a flutter, and so were you. But you felt witchcraft. “The magical Orient,” Vivian Ducie called the blonde, and the dark beauty, “Young Endor.”‘

‘Her name?’ said Beauchamp.

‘A marquise; I forget her name. The other was Countess Rastaglione; you must have heard of her; a towering witch, an empress, Helen of Troy; though Ducie would have it the brunette was Queen of Paris. For French taste, if you like.’

Countess Rastaglione was a lady enamelled on the scroll of Fame. ‘Did you see them together?’ said Beauchamp. ‘They weren’t together?’

Palmet looked at him and laughed. ‘You’re yourself again, are you? Go to Paris in January, and cut out the Frenchmen.’

‘Answer me, Palmet: they weren’t in couples?’

‘I fancy not. It was luck to meet them, so they couldn’t have been.’

‘Did you dance with either of them?’

Unable to state accurately that he had, Palmet cried, ‘Oh! for dancing, the Frenchwoman beat the Italian.’

‘Did you see her often–more than once?’

‘My dear fellow, I went everywhere to see her: balls, theatres, promenades, rides, churches.’

‘And you say she dressed up to the Italian, to challenge her, rival her?’

‘Only one night; simple accident. Everybody noticed it, for they stood for Night and Day,–both hung with gold; the brunette Etruscan, and the blonde Asiatic; and every Frenchman present was epigramizing up and down the rooms like mad.’

‘Her husband ‘s Legitimist; he wouldn’t be at the Tuileries?’ Beauchamp spoke half to himself.

‘What, then, what?’ Palmet stared and chuckled. ‘Her husband must have taken the Tuileries’ bait, if we mean the same woman. My dear old Beauchamp, have I seen her, then? She’s a darling! The Rastaglione was nothing to her. When you do light on a grand smoky pearl, the milky ones may go and decorate plaster. That’s what I say of the loveliest brunettes. It must be the same: there can’t be a couple of dark beauties in Paris without a noise about them. Marquise–? I shall recollect her name presently.’

‘Here’s one of the houses I stop at,’ said Beauchamp, ‘and drop that subject.’

A scared servant-girl brought out her wizened mistress to confront the candidate, and to this representative of the sex he addressed his arts of persuasion, requesting her to repeat his words to her husband. The contrast between Beauchamp palpably canvassing and the Beauchamp who was the lover of the Marquise of the forgotten name, struck too powerfully on Palmet for his gravity he retreated.

Beauchamp found him sauntering on the pavement, and would have dismissed him but for an agreeable diversion that occurred at that moment. A suavely smiling unctuous old gentleman advanced to them, bowing, and presuming thus far, he said, under the supposition that he was accosting the junior Liberal candidate for the borough. He announced his name and his principles Tomlinson, progressive Liberal.

‘A true distinction from some Liberals I know,’ said Beauchamp.

Mr. Tomlinson hoped so. Never, he said, did he leave it to the man of his choice at an election to knock at his door for the vote.

Beauchamp looked as if he had swallowed a cordial. Votes falling into his lap are heavenly gifts to the candidate sick of the knocker and the bell. Mr. Tomlinson eulogized the manly candour of the junior Liberal candidate’s address, in which he professed to see ideas that distinguished it from the address of the sound but otherwise conventional Liberal, Mr. Cougham. He muttered of plumping for Beauchamp. ‘Don’t plump,’ Beauchamp said; and a candidate, if he would be an honourable twin, must say it. Cougham had cautioned him against the heresy of plumping.

They discoursed of the poor and their beverages, of pothouses, of the anti-liquorites, and of the duties of parsons, and the value of a robust and right-minded body of the poor to the country. Palmet found himself following them into a tolerably spacious house that he took to be the old gentleman’s until some of the apparatus of an Institute for literary and scientific instruction revealed itself to him, and he heard Mr. Tomlinson exalt the memory of one Wingham for the blessing bequeathed by him to the town of Bevisham. ‘For,’ said Mr. Tomlinson, ‘it is open to both sexes, to all respectable classes, from ten in the morning up to ten at night. Such a place affords us, I would venture to say, the advantages without the seductions of a Club. I rank it next–at a far remove, but next-the church.’

Lord Palmet brought his eyes down from the busts of certain worthies ranged along the top of the book-shelves to the cushioned chairs, and murmured, ‘Capital place for an appointment with a woman.’

Mr. Tomlinson gazed up at him mildly, with a fallen countenance. He turned sadly agape in silence to the busts, the books, and the range of scientific instruments, and directed a gaze under his eyebrows at Beauchamp. ‘Does your friend canvass with you?’ he inquired.

‘I want him to taste it,’ Beauchamp replied, and immediately introduced the affable young lord–a proceeding marked by some of the dexterity he had once been famous for, as was shown by a subsequent observation of Mr. Tomlinson’s:

‘Yes,’ he said, on the question of classes, ‘yes, I fear we have classes in this country whose habitual levity sharp experience will have to correct. I very much fear it.’

‘But if you have classes that are not to face realities classes that look on them from the box-seats of a theatre,’ said Beauchamp, ‘how can you expect perfect seriousness, or any good service whatever?’

‘Gently, sir, gently. No; we can, I feel confident, expand within the limits of our most excellent and approved Constitution. I could wish that socially . . . that is all.’

‘Socially and politically mean one thing in the end,’ said Beauchamp. ‘If you have a nation politically corrupt, you won’t have a good state of morals in it, and the laws that keep society together bear upon the politics of a country.’

‘True; yes,’ Mr. Tomlinson hesitated assent. He dissociated Beauchamp from Lord Palmet, but felt keenly that the latter’s presence desecrated Wingham’s Institute, and he informed the candidate that he thought he would no longer detain him from his labours.

‘Just the sort of place wanted in every provincial town,’ Palmet remarked by way of a parting compliment.

Mr. Tomlinson bowed a civil acknowledgement of his having again spoken.

No further mention was made of the miraculous vote which had risen responsive to the candidate’s address of its own inspired motion; so Beauchamp said, ‘I beg you to bear in mind that I request you not to plump.’

‘You may be right, Captain Beauchamp. Good day, sir.’

Palmet strode after Beauchamp into the street.

‘Why did you set me bowing to that old boy?’ he asked.

‘Why did you talk about women?’ was the rejoinder.

‘Oh, aha!’ Palmet sang to himself. ‘You’re a Romfrey, Beauchamp. A blow for a blow! But I only said what would strike every fellow first off. It is the place; the very place. Pastry-cooks’ shops won’t stand comparison with it. Don’t tell me you ‘re the man not to see how much a woman prefers to be under the wing of science and literature, in a good- sized, well-warmed room, with a book, instead of making believe, with a red face, over a tart.’

He received a smart lecture from Beauchamp, and began to think he had enough of canvassing. But he was not suffered to escape. For his instruction, for his positive and extreme good, Beauchamp determined that the heir to an earldom should have a day’s lesson. We will hope there was no intention to punish him for having frozen the genial current of Mr. Tomlinson’s vote and interest; and it may be that he clung to one who had, as he imagined, seen Renee. Accompanied by a Mr. Oggler, a tradesman of the town, on the Liberal committee, dressed in a pea-jacket and proudly nautical, they applied for the vote, and found it oftener than beauty. Palmet contrasted his repeated disappointments with the scoring of two, three, four and more in the candidate’s list, and informed him that he would certainly get the Election. ‘I think you’re sure of it,’ he said. ‘There’s not a pretty woman to be seen; not one.’

One came up to them, the sight of whom counselled Lord Palmet to reconsider his verdict. She was addressed by Beauchamp as Miss Denham, and soon passed on.

Palmet was guilty of staring at her, and of lingering behind the others for a last look at her.

They were on the steps of a voter’s house, calmly enduring a rebuff from him in person, when Palmet returned to them, exclaiming effusively, ‘What luck you have, Beauchamp!’ He stopped till the applicants descended the steps, with the voice of the voter ringing contempt as well as refusal in their ears; then continued: ‘You introduced me neck and heels to that undertakerly old Tomlinson, of Wingham’s Institute; you might have given me a chance with that Miss–Miss Denham, was it? She has a bit of a style!’

‘She has a head,’ said Beauchamp.

‘A girl like that may have what she likes. I don’t care what she has– there’s woman in her. You might take her for a younger sister of Mrs. Wardour-Devereux. Who ‘s the uncle she speaks of? She ought not to be allowed to walk out by herself.’

‘She can take care of herself,’ said Beauchamp.

Palmet denied it. ‘No woman can. Upon my honour, it’s a shame that she should be out alone. What are her people? I’ll run–from you, you know –and see her safe home. There’s such an infernal lot of fellows about; and a girl simply bewitching and unprotected! I ought to be after her.’

Beauchamp held him firmly to the task of canvassing.

‘Then will you tell me where she lives?’ Palmet stipulated. He reproached Beauchamp for a notorious Grand Turk exclusiveness and greediness in regard to women, as well as a disposition to run hard races for them out of a spirit of pure rivalry.

‘It’s no use contradicting, it’s universally known of you,’ reiterated Palmet. ‘I could name a dozen women, and dozens of fellows you deliberately set yourself to cut out, for the honour of it. What’s that story they tell of you in one of the American cities or watering-places, North or South? You would dance at a ball a dozen times with a girl engaged to a man–who drenched you with a tumbler at the hotel bar, and off you all marched to the sands and exchanged shots from revolvers; and both of you, they say, saw the body of a drowned sailor in the water, in the moonlight, heaving nearer and nearer, and you stretched your man just as the body was flung up by a wave between you. Picturesque, if you like!’

‘Dramatic, certainly. And I ran away with the bride next morning?’

‘No!’ roared Palmet; ‘you didn’t. There’s the cruelty of the whole affair.’

Beauchamp laughed. ‘An old messmate of mine, Lieutenant Jack Wilmore, can give you a different version of the story. I never have fought a duel, and never will. Here we are at the shop of a tough voter, Mr. Oggler. So it says in my note-book. Shall we put Lord Palmet to speak to him first?’

‘If his lordship will put his heart into what he says,’ Mr. Oggler bowed. ‘Are you for giving the people recreation on a Sunday, my lord?’

‘Trap-bat and ball, cricket, dancing, military bands, puppet-shows, theatres, merry-go-rounds, bosky dells–anything to make them happy,’ said Palmet.

‘Oh, dear! then I ‘m afraid we cannot ask you to speak to this Mr. Carpendike.’ Oggler shook his head.

‘Does the fellow want the people to be miserable?’

‘I’m afraid, my lord, he would rather see them miserable.’

They introduced themselves to Mr. Carpendike in his shop. He was a flat- chested, sallow young shoemaker, with a shelving forehead, who seeing three gentlemen enter to him recognized at once with a practised resignation that they had not come to order shoe-leather, though he would fain have shod them, being needy; but it was not the design of Providence that they should so come as he in his blindness would have had them. Admitting this he wished for nothing.

The battle with Carpendike lasted three-quarters of an hour, during which he was chiefly and most effectively silent. Carpendike would not vote for a man that proposed to open museums on the Sabbath day. The striking simile of the thin end of the wedge was recurred to by him for a damning illustration. Captain Beauchamp might be honest in putting his mind on most questions in his address, when there was no demand upon him to do it; but honesty was no antidote to impiety. Thus Carpendike.

As to Sunday museuming being an antidote to the pothouse–no. For the people knew the frequenting of the pothouse to be a vice; it was a temptation of Satan that often in overcoming them was the cause of their flying back to grace: whereas museums and picture galleries were insidious attractions cloaked by the name of virtue, whereby they were allured to abandon worship.

Beauchamp flew at this young monster of unreason: ‘But the people are not worshipping; they are idling and sotting, and if you carry your despotism farther still, and shut them out of every shop on Sundays, do you suppose you promote the spirit of worship? If you don’t revolt them you unman them, and I warn you we can’t afford to destroy what manhood remains to us in England. Look at the facts.’

He flung the facts at Carpendike with the natural exaggeration of them which eloquence produces, rather, as a rule, to assure itself in passing of the overwhelming justice of the cause it pleads than to deceive the adversary. Brewers’ beer and publicans’ beer, wife-beatings, the homes and the blood of the people, were matters reviewed to the confusion of Sabbatarians.

Carpendike listened with a bent head, upraised eyes, and brows wrinkling far on to his poll: a picture of a mind entrenched beyond the potentialities of mortal assault. He signified that he had spoken. Indeed Beauchamp’s reply was vain to one whose argument was that he considered the people nearer to holiness in the: indulging of an evil propensity than in satisfying a harmless curiosity and getting a recreation. The Sabbath claimed them; if they were disobedient, Sin ultimately might scourge them back to the fold, but never if they were permitted to regard themselves as innocent in their backsliding and rebelliousness.

Such language was quite new to Beauchamp. The parsons he had spoken to were of one voice in objecting to the pothouse. He appealed to Carpendike’s humanity. Carpendike smote him with a text from Scripture.

‘Devilish cold in this shop,’ muttered Palmet.

Two not flourishing little children of the emaciated Puritan burst into the shop, followed by their mother, carrying a child in her arms. She had a sad look, upon traces of a past fairness, vaguely like a snow landscape in the thaw. Palmet stooped to toss shillings with her young ones, that he might avoid the woman’s face. It cramped his heart.

‘Don’t you see, Mr. Carpendike,’ said fat Mr. Oggler, ‘it’s the happiness of the people we want; that’s what Captain Beauchamp works for–their happiness; that’s the aim of life for all of us. Look at me! I’m as happy as the day. I pray every night, and I go to church every Sunday, and I never know what it is to be unhappy. The Lord has blessed me with a good digestion, healthy pious children, and a prosperous shop that’s a competency–a modest one, but I make it satisfy me, because I know it’s the Lord’s gift. Well, now, and I hate Sabbath-breakers; I would punish them; and I’m against the public-houses on a Sunday; but aboard my little yacht, say on a Sunday morning in the Channel, I don’t forget I owe it to the Lord that he has been good enough to put me in the way of keeping a yacht; no; I read prayers to my crew, and a chapter in the Bible-Genesis, Deuteronomy, Kings, Acts, Paul, just as it comes. All’s good that’s there. Then we’re free for the day! man, boy, and me; we cook our victuals, and we must look to the yacht, do you see. But we’ve made our peace with the Almighty. We know that. He don’t mind the working of the vessel so long as we’ve remembered him. He put us in that situation, exactly there, latitude and longitude, do you see, and work the vessel we must. And a glass of grog and a pipe after dinner, can’t be any offence. And I tell you, honestly and sincerely, I’m sure my conscience is good, and I really and truly don’t know what it is not to know happiness.’

‘Then you don’t know God,’ said Carpendike, like a voice from a cave.

‘Or nature: or the state of the world,’ said Beauchamp, singularly impressed to find himself between two men, of whom–each perforce of his tenuity and the evident leaning of his appetites–one was for the barren black view of existence, the other for the fantastically bright. As to the men personally, he chose Carpendike, for all his obstinacy and sourness. Oggler’s genial piety made him shrink with nausea.

But Lord Palmet paid Mr. Oggler a memorable compliment, by assuring him that he was altogether of his way of thinking about happiness.

The frank young nobleman did not withhold a reference to the two or three things essential to his happiness; otherwise Mr. Oggler might have been pleased and flattered.

Before quitting the shop, Beauchamp warned Carpendike that he should come again. ‘Vote or no vote, you’re worth the trial. Texts as many as you like. I’ll make your faith active, if it’s alive at all. You speak of the Lord loving his own; you make out the Lord to be your own, and use your religion like a drug. So it appears to me. That Sunday tyranny of yours has to be defended.

Remember that; for I for one shall combat it and expose it. Good day.’

Beauchamp continued, in the street: ‘Tyrannies like this fellow’s have made the English the dullest and wretchedest people in Europe.’

Palmet animadverted on Carpendike: ‘The dog looks like a deadly fungus that has poisoned the woman.’

‘I’d trust him with a post of danger, though,’ said Beauchamp.

Before the candidate had opened his mouth to the next elector he was beamed on. M’Gilliper, baker, a floured brick face, leaned on folded arms across his counter and said, in Scotch: ‘My vote? and he that asks me for my vote is the man who, when he was midshipman, saved the life of a relation of mine from death by drowning! my wife’s first cousin, Johnny Brownson–and held him up four to five minutes in the water, and never left him till he was out of danger! There ‘s my hand on it, I will, and a score of householders in Bevisham the same.’ He dictated precious names and addresses to Beauchamp, and was curtly thanked for his pains.

Such treatment of a favourable voter seemed odd to Palmet.

‘Oh, a vote given for reasons of sentiment!’ Beauchamp interjected.

Palmet reflected and said: ‘Well, perhaps that’s how it is women don’t care uncommonly for the men who love them, though they like precious well to be loved. Opposition does it.’

‘You have discovered my likeness to women,’ said Beauchamp, eyeing him critically, and then thinking, with a sudden warmth, that he had seen Renee: ‘Look here, Palmet, you’re too late for Itchincope, to-day; come and eat fish and meat with me at my hotel, and come to a meeting after it. You can run by rail to Itchincope to breakfast in the morning, and I may come with you. You’ll hear one or two men speak well to-night.’

‘I suppose I shall have to be at this business myself some day,’ sighed Palmet. ‘Any women on the platform? Oh, but political women! And the Tories get the pick of the women. No, I don’t think I ‘ll stay. Yes, I will; I’ll go through with it. I like to be learning something. You wouldn’t think it of me, Beauchamp, but I envy fellows at work.’

‘You might make a speech for me, Palmet.’

‘No man better, my dear fellow, if it were proposing a toast to the poor devils and asking them to drink it. But a dry speech, like leading them over the desert without a well to cheer them–no oasis, as we used to call a five-pound note and a holiday–I haven’t the heart for that. Is your Miss Denham a Radical?’

Beauchamp asserted that he had not yet met a woman at all inclining in the direction of Radicalism. ‘I don’t call furies Radicals. There may be women who think as well as feel; I don’t know them.’

‘Lots of them, Beauchamp. Take my word for it. I do know women. They haven’t a shift, nor a trick, I don’t know. They’re as clear to me as glass. I’ll wager your Miss Denham goes to the meetings. Now, doesn’t she? Of course she does. And there couldn’t be a gallanter way of spending an evening, so I’ll try it. Nothing to repent of next morning! That’s to be said for politics, Beauchamp, and I confess I’m rather jealous of you. A thoroughly good-looking girl who takes to a fellow for what he’s doing in the world, must have ideas of him precious different from the adoration of six feet three and a fine seat in the saddle. I see that. There’s Baskelett in the Blues; and if I were he I should detest my cuirass and helmet, for if he’s half as successful as he boasts–it’s the uniform.’

Two notorious Radicals, Peter Molyneux and Samuel Killick, were called on. The first saw Beauchamp and refused him; the second declined to see him. He was amazed and staggered, but said little.

Among the remainder of the electors of Bevisham, roused that day to a sense of their independence by the summons of the candidates, only one man made himself conspicuous, by premising that he had two important questions to ask, and he trusted Commander Beauchamp to answer them unreservedly. They were: first, What is a FRENCH MARQUEES? arid second: Who was EURYDICEY?

Beauchamp referred him to the Tory camp, whence the placard alluding to those ladies had issued.

‘Both of them ‘s ladies! I guessed it,’ said the elector.

‘Did you guess that one of them is a mythological lady?’

‘I’m not far wrong in guessing t’other’s not much better, I reckon. Now, sir, may I ask you, is there any tale concerning your morals?’

‘No: you may not ask; you take a liberty.’

‘Then I’ll take the liberty to postpone talking about my vote. Look here, Mr. Commander; if the upper classes want anything of me and come to me for it, I’ll know what sort of an example they’re setting; now that’s me.’

‘You pay attention to a stupid Tory squib?’

‘Where there’s smoke there’s fire, sir.’

Beauchamp glanced at his note-book for the name of this man, who was a ragman and dustman.

‘My private character has nothing whatever to do with my politics,’ he said, and had barely said it when he remembered having spoken somewhat differently, upon the abstract consideration of the case, to Mr. Tomlinson.

‘You’re quite welcome to examine my character for yourself, only I don’t consent to be catechized. Understand that.’

‘You quite understand that, Mr. Tripehallow,’ said Oggler, bolder in taking up the strange name than Beauchamp had been.

‘I understand that. But you understand, there’s never been a word against the morals of Mr. Cougham. Here’s the point: Do we mean to be a moral country? Very well, then so let our representatives be, I say. And if I hear nothing against your morals, Mr. Commander, I don’t say you shan’t have my vote. I mean to deliberate. You young nobs capering over our heads–I nail you down to morals. Politics secondary. Adew, as the dying spirit remarked to weeping friends.’

‘Au revoir–would have been kinder,’ said Palmet.

Mr. Tripehallow smiled roguishly, to betoken comprehension.

Beauchamp asked Mr. Oggler whether that fellow was to be taken for a humourist or a five-pound-note man.

‘It may be both, sir. I know he’s called Morality Joseph.’

An all but acknowledged five-pound-note man was the last they visited. He cut short the preliminaries of the interview by saying that he was a four-o’clock man; i.e. the man who waited for the final bids to him upon the closing hour of the election day.

‘Not one farthing!’ said Beauchamp, having been warned beforehand of the signification of the phrase by his canvassing lieutenant.

‘Then you’re nowhere,’ the honest fellow replied in the mystic tongue of prophecy.

Palmet and Beauchamp went to their fish and meat; smoked a cigarette or two afterward, conjured away the smell of tobacco from their persons as well as they could, and betook themselves to the assembly-room of the Liberal party, where the young lord had an opportunity of beholding Mr. Cougham, and of listening to him for an hour and forty minutes. He heard Mr. Timothy Turbot likewise. And Miss Denham was present. Lord Palmet applauded when she smiled. When she looked attentive he was deeply studious. Her expression of fatigue under the sonorous ring of statistics poured out from Cougham was translated by Palmet into yawns and sighs of a profoundly fraternal sympathy. Her face quickened on the rising of Beauchamp to speak. She kept eye on him all the while, as Palmet, with the skill of an adept in disguising his petty larceny of the optics, did on her. Twice or thrice she looked pained: Beauchamp was hesitating for the word. Once she looked startled and shut her eyes: a hiss had sounded; Beauchamp sprang on it as if enlivened by hostility, and dominated the factious note. Thereat she turned to a gentleman sitting beside her; apparently they agreed that some incident had occurred characteristic of Nevil Beauchamp; for whom, however, it was not a brilliant evening. He was very well able to account for it, and did so, after he had walked a few steps with Miss Denham on her homeward way.

‘You heard Cougham, Palmet! He’s my senior, and I’m obliged to come second to him, and how am I to have a chance when he has drenched the audience for close upon a couple of hours!’

Palmet mimicked the manner of Cougham.

‘They cry for Turbot naturally; they want a relief,’ Beauchamp groaned.

Palmet gave an imitation of Timothy Turbot.

He was an admirable mimic, perfectly spontaneous, without stressing any points, and Beauchamp was provoked to laugh his discontentment with the evening out of recollection.

But a grave matter troubled Palmet’s head.

‘Who was that fellow who walked off with Miss Denham?’

‘A married man,’ said Beauchamp: ‘badly married; more ‘s the pity; he has a wife in the madhouse. His name is Lydiard.’

‘Not her brother! Where’s her uncle?’

‘She won’t let him come to these meetings. It’s her idea; well- intended, but wrong, I think. She’s afraid that Dr. Shrapnel will alarm the moderate Liberals and damage Radical me.’

Palmet muttered between his teeth, ‘What queer things they let their women do!’ He felt compelled to say, ‘Odd for her to be walking home at night with a fellow like that.’

It chimed too consonantly with a feeling of Beauchamp’s, to repress which he replied: ‘Your ideas about women are simply barbarous, Palmet. Why shouldn’t she? Her uncle places his confidence in the man, and in her. Isn’t that better–ten times more likely to call out the sense of honour and loyalty, than the distrust and the scandal going on in your class?’

‘Please to say yours too.’

‘I’ve no class. I say that the education for women is to teach them to rely on themselves.’

‘Ah! well, I don’t object, if I’m the man.’

‘Because you and your set are absolutely uncivilized in your views of women.’

‘Common sense, Beauchamp!’

‘Prey. You eye them as prey. And it comes of an idle aristocracy. You have no faith in them, and they repay you for your suspicion.’

‘All the same, Beauchamp, she ought not to be allowed to go about at night with that fellow. “Rich and rare were the gems she wore”: but that was in Erin’s isle, and if we knew the whole history, she’d better have stopped at home. She’s marvellously pretty, to my mind. She looks a high-bred wench. Odd it is, Beauchamp, to see a lady’s-maid now and then catch the style of my lady. No, by Jove! I’ve known one or two–you couldn’t tell the difference! Not till you were intimate. I know one would walk a minuet with a duchess. Of course–all the worse for her. If you see that uncle of Miss Denham’s–upon my honour, I should advise him: I mean, counsel him not to trust her with any fellow but you.’

Beauchamp asked Lord Palmet how old he was.

Palmet gave his age; correcting the figures from six-and-twenty to one year more. ‘And never did a stroke of work in my life,’ he said, speaking genially out of an acute guess at the sentiments of the man he walked with.

It seemed a farcical state of things.

There was a kind of contrition in Palmet’s voice, and to put him at his ease, as well as to stamp something in his own mind, Beauchamp said: ‘It’s common enough.’

CHAPTER XX

A DAY AT ITCHINCOPE

An election in Bevisham was always an exciting period at Itchincope, the large and influential old estate of the Lespels, which at one time, with but a ceremonious drive through the town, sent you two good Whig men to Parliament to sit at Reform banquets; two unswerving party men, blest subscribers to the right Review, and personally proud of its trenchancy. Mr. Grancey Lespel was the survivor of them, and well could he remember the happier day of his grandfather, his father, and his own hot youth. He could be carried so far by affectionate regrets as to think of the Tories of that day benignly:–when his champion Review of the orange and blue livery waved a wondrous sharp knife, and stuck and bled them, proving to his party, by trenchancy alone, that the Whig was the cause of Providence. Then politics presented you a table whereat two parties feasted, with no fear of the intrusion of a third, and your backs were turned on the noisy lower world, your ears were deaf to it.

Apply we now the knocker to the door of venerable Quotation, and call the aged creature forth, that he, half choked by his eheu!–

‘A sound between a sigh and bray,’

may pronounce the familiar but respectable words, the burial-service of a time so happy!

Mr. Grancey Lespel would still have been sitting for Bevisham (or politely at this elective moment bowing to resume the seat) had not those Manchester jugglers caught up his cry, appropriated his colours, displaced and impersonated him, acting beneficent Whig on a scale approaching treason to the Constitution; leaning on the people in earnest, instead of taking the popular shoulder for a temporary lift, all in high party policy, for the clever manoeuvre, to oust the Tory and sway the realm. See the consequences. For power, for no other consideration, those manufacturing rascals have raised Radicalism from its primaeval mire–from its petty backslum bookseller’s shop and public-house back- parlour effluvia of oratory–to issue dictates in England, and we, England, formerly the oak, are topsy-turvy, like onions, our heels in the air!

The language of party is eloquent, and famous for being grand at illustration; but it is equally well known that much of it gives us humble ideas of the speaker, probably because of the naughty temper party is prone to; which, while endowing it with vehemence, lessens the stout circumferential view that should be taken, at least historically. Indeed, though we admit party to be the soundest method for conducting us, party talk soon expends its attractiveness, as would a summer’s afternoon given up to the contemplation of an encounter of rams’ heads. Let us be quit of Mr. Grancey Lespel’s lamentations. The Whig gentleman had some reason to complain. He had been trained to expect no other attack than that of his hereditary adversary-ram in front, and a sham ram–no honest animal, but a ramming engine rather–had attacked him in the rear. Like Mr. Everard Romfrey and other Whigs, he was profoundly chagrined by popular ingratitude: ‘not the same man,’ his wife said of him. It nipped him early. He took to proverbs; sure sign of the sere leaf in a man’s mind.

His wife reproached the people for their behaviour to him bitterly. The lady regarded politics as a business that helped hunting-men a stage above sportsmen, for numbers of the politicians she was acquainted with were hunting-men, yet something more by virtue of the variety they could introduce into a conversation ordinarily treating of sport and the qualities of wines. Her husband seemed to have lost in that Parliamentary seat the talisman which gave him notions distinguishing him from country squires; he had sunk, and he no longer cared for the months in London, nor for the speeches she read to him to re-awaken his mind and make him look out of himself, as he had done when he was a younger man and not a suspended Whig. Her own favourite reading was of love- adventures written in the French tongue. She had once been in love, and could be so sympathetic with that passion as to avow to Cecilia Halkett a tenderness for Nevil Beauchamp, on account of his relations with the Marquise de Rouaillout, and notwithstanding the demoniacal flame-halo of the Radical encircling him.

The allusion to Beauchamp occurred a few hours after Cecilia’s arrival at Itchincope.

Cecilia begged for the French lady’s name to be repeated; she had not heard it before, and she tasted the strange bitter relish of realization when it struck her ear to confirm a story that she believed indeed, but had not quite sensibly felt.

‘And it is not over yet, they say,’ Mrs. Grancey Lespel added, while softly flipping some spots of the colour proper to radicals in morals on the fame of the French lady. She possessed fully the grave judicial spirit of her countrywomen, and could sit in judgement on the personages of tales which had entranced her, to condemn the heroines: it was impolitic in her sex to pity females. As for the men–poor weak things! As for Nevil Beauchamp, in particular, his case, this penetrating lady said, was clear: he ought to be married. ‘Could you make a sacrifice?’ she asked Cecilia playfully.

‘Nevil Beauchamp and I are old friends, but we have agreed that we are deadly political enemies,’ Miss Halkett replied.

‘It is not so bad for a beginning,’ said Mrs. Lespel.

‘If one were disposed to martyrdom.’

The older woman nodded. ‘Without that.’

‘My dear Mrs. Lespel, wait till you have heard him. He is at war with everything we venerate and build on. The wife you would give him should be a creature rooted in nothing–in sea-water. Simply two or three conversations with him have made me uncomfortable ever since; I can see nothing durable; I dream of surprises, outbreaks, dreadful events. At least it is perfectly true that I do not look with the same eyes on my country. He seems to delight in destroying one’s peaceful contemplation of life. The truth is that he blows a perpetual gale, and is all agitation,’ Cecilia concluded, affecting with a smile a slight shiver.

‘Yes, one tires of that,’ said Mrs. Lespel. ‘I was determined I would have him here if we could get him to come. Grancey objected. We shall have to manage Captain Beauchamp and the rest as well. He is sure to come late to-morrow, and will leave early on Thursday morning for his canvass; our driving into Bevisham is for Friday or Saturday. I do not see that he need have any suspicions. Those verses you are so angry about cannot be traced to Itchincope. My dear, they are a childish trifle. When my husband stood first for Bevisham, the whole of his University life appeared in print. What we have to do is to forewarn the gentlemen to be guarded, and especially in what they say to my nephew Lord Palmet, for that boy cannot keep a secret; he is as open as a plate.’

‘The smoking-room at night?’ Cecilia suggested, remembering her father’s words about Itchincope’s tobacco-hall.

‘They have Captain Beauchamp’s address hung up there, I have heard,’ said Mrs. Lespel. ‘There may be other things–another address, though it is not yet, placarded. Come with me. For fifteen years I have never once put my head into that room, and now I ‘ve a superstitious fear about it.’

Mrs. Lespel led the way to the deserted smoking-room, where the stale reek of tobacco assailed the ladies, as does that dire place of Customs the stranger visiting savage (or too natural) potentates.

In silence they tore down from the wall Beauchamp’s electoral Address– flanked all its length with satirical pen and pencil comments and sketches; and they consigned to flames the vast sheet of animated verses relating to the FRENCH MARQUEES. A quarter-size chalk-drawing of a slippered pantaloon having a duck on his shoulder, labelled to say ‘Quack-quack,’ and offering our nauseated Dame Britannia (or else it was the widow Bevisham) a globe of a pill to swallow, crossed with the consolatory and reassuring name of Shrapnel, they disposed of likewise. And then they fled, chased forth either by the brilliancy of the politically allusive epigrams profusely inscribed around them on the walls, or by the atmosphere. Mrs. Lespel gave her orders for the walls to be scraped, and said to Cecilia: ‘A strange air to breathe, was it not? The less men and women know of one another, the happier for them. I knew my superstition was correct as a guide to me. I do so much wish to respect men, and all my experience tells me the Turks know best how to preserve it for us. Two men in this house would give their wives for pipes, if it came to the choice. We might all go for a cellar of old wine. After forty, men have married their habits, and wives are only an item in the list, and not the most important.’

With the assistance of Mr. Stukely Culbrett, Mrs. Lespel prepared the house and those of the company who were in the secret of affairs for the arrival of Beauchamp. The ladies were curious to see him. The gentlemen, not anticipating extreme amusement, were calm: for it is an axiom in the world of buckskins and billiard-cues, that one man is very like another; and so true is it with them, that they can in time teach it to the fair sex. Friends of Cecil Baskelett predominated, and the absence of so sprightly a fellow was regretted seriously; but he was shooting with his uncle at Holdesbury, and they did not expect him before Thursday.

On Wednesday morning Lord Palmet presented himself at a remarkably well- attended breakfast-table at Itchincope. He passed from Mrs. Lespel to Mrs. Wardour-Devsreux and Miss Halkett, bowed to other ladies, shook hands with two or three men, and nodded over the heads of half-a-dozen, accounting rather mysteriously for his delay in coming, it was thought, until he sat down before a plate of Yorkshire pie, and said:

‘The fact is I’ve been canvassing hard. With Beauchamp!’

Astonishment and laughter surrounded him, and Palmet looked from face to face, equally astonished, and desirous to laugh too.

‘Ernest! how could you do that?’ said Mrs. Lespel; and her husband cried in stupefaction, ‘With Beauchamp?’

‘Oh! it’s because of the Radicalism,’ Palmet murmured to himself. ‘I didn’t mind that.’

‘What sort of a day did you have?’ Mr. Culbrett asked him; and several gentlemen fell upon him for an account of the day.

Palmet grimaced over a mouthful of his pie.

‘Bad!’ quoth Mr. Lespel; ‘I knew it. I know Bevisham. The only chance there is for five thousand pounds in a sack with a hole in it.’

‘Bad for Beauchamp? Dear me, no’; Palmet corrected the error. ‘He is carrying all before him. And he tells them,’ Palmet mimicked Beauchamp, ‘they shall not have one penny: not a farthing. I gave a couple of young ones a shilling apiece, and he rowed me for bribery; somehow I did wrong.’

Lord Palmet described the various unearthly characters he had inspected in their dens: Carpendike, Tripehallow, and the radicals Peter Molyneux and Samuel Killick, and the ex-member for the borough, Cougham, posing to suit sign-boards of Liberal inns, with a hand thrust in his waistcoat, and his head well up, the eyes running over the under-lids, after the traditional style of our aristocracy; but perhaps more closely resembling an urchin on tiptoe peering above park-palings. Cougham’s remark to Beauchamp, heard and repeated by Palmet with the object of giving an example of the senior Liberal’s phraseology: ‘I was necessitated to vacate my town mansion, to my material discomfort and that of my wife, whose equipage I have been compelled to take, by your premature canvass of the borough, Captain Beauchamp: and now, I hear, on undeniable authority, that no second opponent to us will be forthcoming’—this produced the greatest effect on the company.

‘But do you tell me,’ said Mr. Lespel, when the shouts of the gentlemen were subsiding, ‘do you tell me that young Beauchamp is going ahead?’

‘That he is. They flock to him in the street.’

‘He stands there, then, and jingles a money-bag.’

Palmet resumed his mimicry of Beauchamp: ‘Not a stiver; purity of election is the first condition of instruction to the people! Principles! Then they’ve got a capital orator: Turbot, an Irishman. I went to a meeting last night, and heard him; never heard anything finer in my life. You may laugh he whipped me off my legs; fellow spun me like a top; and while he was orationing, a donkey calls, “Turbot! ain’t you a flat fish?” and he swings round, “Not for a fool’s hook!” and out they hustled the villain for a Tory. I never saw anything like it.’

‘That repartee wouldn’t have done with a Dutchman or a Torbay trawler,’ said Stukely Culbrett. ‘But let us hear more.’

‘Is it fair?’ Miss Halkett murmured anxiously to Mrs. Lespel, who returned a flitting shrug.

‘Charming women follow Beauchamp, you know,’ Palmet proceeded, as he conceived, to confirm and heighten the tale of success. ‘There’s a Miss Denham, niece of a doctor, a Dr . . . . Shot–Shrapnel! a wonderfully good-looking, clever-looking girl, comes across him in half- a-dozen streets to ask how he’s getting on, and goes every night to his meetings, with a man who ‘s a writer and has a mad wife; a man named Lydia-no, that’s a woman–Lydiard. It’s rather a jumble; but you should see her when Beauchamp’s on his legs and speaking.’

‘Mr. Lydiard is in Bevisham?’ Mrs. Wardour-Devereux remarked.

‘I know the girl,’ growled Mr. Lespel. ‘She comes with that rascally doctor and a bobtail of tea-drinking men and women and their brats to Northeden Heath–my ground. There they stand and sing.’

‘Hymns?’inquired Mr. Culbrett.

‘I don’t know what they sing. And when it rains they take the liberty to step over my bank into my plantation. Some day I shall have them stepping into my house.’

‘Yes, it’s Mr. Lydiard; I’m sure of the man’s name,’ Palmet replied to Mrs. Wardour-Devereux.

‘We met him in Spain the year before last,’ she observed to Cecilia.

The ‘we’ reminded Palmet that her husband was present.

‘Ah, Devereux, I didn’t see you,’ he nodded obliquely down the table. ‘By the way, what’s the grand procession? I hear my man Davis has come all right, and I caught sight of the top of your coach-box in the stableyard as I came in. What are we up to?’

‘Baskelett writes, it’s to be for to-morrow morning at ten-the start.’ Mr. Wardour-Devereux addressed the table generally. He was a fair, huge, bush-bearded man, with a voice of unvarying bass: a squire in his county, and energetic in his pursuit of the pleasures of hunting, driving, travelling, and tobacco.

‘Old Bask’s the captain of us? Very well, but where do we drive the teams? How many are we? What’s in hand?’

Cecilia threw a hurried glance at her hostess.

Luckily some witling said, ‘Fours-in-hand!’ and so dryly that it passed for humour, and gave Mrs. Lespel time to interpose. ‘You are not to know till to-morrow, Ernest.’

Palmet had traced the authorship of the sally to Mr. Algy Borolick, and crowned him with praise for it. He asked, ‘Why not know till to-morrow?’ A word in a murmur from Mr. Culbrett, ‘Don’t frighten the women,’ satisfied him, though why it should he could not have imagined.

Mrs. Lespel quitted the breakfast-table before the setting in of the dangerous five minutes of conversation over its ruins, and spoke to her husband, who contested the necessity for secresy, but yielded to her judgement when it was backed by Stukely Culbrett. Soon after Lord Palmet found himself encountered by evasions and witticisms, in spite of the absence of the ladies, upon every attempt he made to get some light regarding the destination of the four-in-hands next day.

‘What are you going to do?’ he said to Mr. Devereux, thinking him the likeliest one to grow confidential in private.

‘Smoke,’ resounded from the depths of that gentleman.

Palmet recollected the ground of division between the beautiful brunette and her lord–his addiction to the pipe in perpetuity, and deemed it sweeter to be with the lady.

She and Miss Halkett were walking in the garden.

Miss Halkett said to him: ‘How wrong of you to betray the secrets of your friend! Is he really making way?’

‘Beauchamp will head the poll to a certainty,’ Palmet replied.

‘Still,’ said Miss Halkett, ‘you should not forget that you are not in the house of a Liberal. Did you canvass in the town or the suburbs?’

‘Everywhere. I assure you, Miss Halkett, there’s a feeling for Beauchamp–they’re in love with him!’

‘He promises them everything, I suppose?’

‘Not he. And the odd thing is, it isn’t the Radicals he catches. He won’t go against the game laws for them, and he won’t cut down army and navy. So the Radicals yell at him. One confessed he had sold his vote for five pounds last election: “you shall have it for the same,” says he, “for you’re all humbugs.” Beauchamp took him by the throat and shook him–metaphorically, you know. But as for the tradesmen, he’s their hero; bakers especially.’

‘Mr. Austin may be right, then!’ Cecilia reflected aloud.

She went to Mrs. Lespel to repeat what she had extracted from Palmet, after warning the latter not, in common loyalty, to converse about his canvass with Beauchamp.

‘Did you speak of Mr. Lydiard as Captain Beauchamp’s friend?’ Mrs. Devereux inquired of him.

‘Lydiard? why, he was the man who made off with that pretty Miss Denham,’ said Palmet. ‘I have the greatest trouble to remember them all; but it was not a day wasted. Now I know politics. Shall we ride or walk? You will let me have the happiness? I’m so unlucky; I rarely meet you!’

‘You will bring Captain Beauchamp to me the moment he comes?’

‘I’ll bring him. Bring him? Nevil Beauchamp won’t want bringing.’

Mrs. Devereux smiled with some pleasure.

Grancey Lespel, followed at some distance by Mr. Ferbrass, the Tory lawyer, stepped quickly up to Palmet, and asked whether Beauchamp had seen Dollikins, the brewer.

Palmet could recollect the name of one Tomlinson, and also the calling at a brewery. Moreover, Beauchamp had uttered contempt of the brewer’s business, and of the social rule to accept rich brewers for gentlemen. The man’s name might be Dollikins and not Tomlinson, and if so, it was Dollikins who would not see Beauchamp. To preserve his political importance, Palmet said, ‘Dollikins! to be sure, that was the man.’

‘Treats him as he does you,’ Mr. Lespel turned to Ferbrass. ‘I’ve sent to Dollikins to come to me this morning, if he’s not driving into the town. I’ll have him before Beauchamp sees him. I’ve asked half-a-dozen of these country gentlemen-tradesmen to lunch at my table to-day.’

‘Then, sir,’ observed Ferbrass, ‘if they are men to be persuaded, they had better not see me.’

‘True; they’re my old supporters, and mightn’t like your Tory face,’ Mr. Lespel assented.

Mr. Ferbrass congratulated him on the heartiness of his espousal of the Tory cause.

Mr. Lespel winced a little, and told him not to put his trust in that.

‘Turned Tory?’ said Palmet.

Mr. Lespel declined to answer.

Palmet said to Mrs. Devereux, ‘He thinks I’m not worth speaking to upon politics. Now I’ll give him some Beauchamp; I learned lots yesterday.’

‘Then let it be in Captain Beauchamp’s manner,’ said she softly.

Palmet obeyed her commands with the liveliest exhibition of his peculiar faculty: Cecilia, rejoining them, seemed to hear Nevil himself in his emphatic political mood. ‘Because the Whigs are defunct! They had no root in the people! Whig is the name of a tribe that was! You have Tory, Liberal, and Radical. There is no place for Whig. He is played out.’

‘Who has been putting that nonsense into your head?’ Mr. Lespel retorted. ‘Go shooting, go shooting!’

Shots were heard in the woods. Palmet pricked up his ears; but he was taken out riding to act cavalier to Mrs. Devereux and Miss Halkett.

Cecilia corrected his enthusiasm with the situation. ‘No flatteries to-day. There are hours when women feel their insignificance and helplessness. I begin to fear for Mr. Austin; and I find I can do nothing to aid him. My hands are tied. And yet I know I could win voters if only it were permissible for me to go and speak to them.’

‘Win them!’ cried Palmet, imagining the alacrity of men’s votes to be won by her. He recommended a gallop for the chasing away of melancholy, and as they were on the Bevisham high road, which was bordered by strips of turf and heath, a few good stretches brought them on the fir-heights, commanding views of the town and broad water.

‘No, I cannot enjoy it,’ Cecilia said to Mrs. Devereux; ‘I don’t mind the grey light; cloud and water, and halftones of colour, are homely English and pleasant, and that opal where the sun should be has a suggestiveness richer than sunlight. I’m quite northern enough to understand it; but with me it must be either peace or strife, and that Election down there destroys my chance of peace. I never could mix reverie with excitement; the battle must be over first, and the dead buried. Can you?’

Mrs. Devereux answered: ‘Excitement? I am not sure that I know what it is. An Election does not excite me.’

‘There’s Nevil Beauchamp himself!’ Palmet sang out, and the ladies discerned Beauchamp under a fir-tree, down by the road, not alone. A man, increasing in length like a telescope gradually reaching its end for observation, and coming to the height of a landmark, as if raised by ropes, was rising from the ground beside him. ‘Shall we trot on, Miss Halkett?’

Cecilia said, ‘No.’

‘Now I see a third fellow,’ said Palmet. ‘It’s the other fellow, the Denham-Shrapnel-Radical meeting . . . Lydiard’s his name: writes books.!

‘We may as well ride on,’ Mrs. Devereux remarked, and her horse fretted singularly.

Beauchamp perceived them, and lifted his hat. Palmet made demonstrations for the ladies. Still neither party moved nearer.

After some waiting, Cecilia proposed to turn back.

Mrs. Devereux looked into her eyes. ‘I’ll take the lead,’ she said, and started forward, pursued by Palmet. Cecilia followed at a sullen canter.

Before they came up to Beauchamp, the long-shanked man had stalked away townward. Lydiard held Beauchamp by the hand. Some last words, after the manner of instructions, passed between them, and then Lydiard also turned away.

‘I say, Beauchamp, Mrs. Devereux wants to hear who that man is,’ Palmet said, drawing up.

‘That man is Dr. Shrapnel,’ said Beauchamp, convinced that Cecilia had checked her horse at the sight of the doctor.

‘Dr. Shrapnel,’ Palmet informed Mrs. Devereux.

She looked at him to seek his wits, and returning Beauchamp’s admiring salutation with a little bow and smile, said, ‘I fancied it was a gentleman we met in Spain.’

‘He writes books,’ observed Palmet, to jog a slow intelligence.

‘Pamphlets, you mean.’

‘I think he is not a pamphleteer’, Mrs. Devereux said.

‘Mr. Lydiard, then, of course; how silly I am! How can you pardon me!’ Beauchamp was contrite; he could not explain that a long guess he had made at Miss Halkett’s reluctance to come up to him when Dr. Shrapnel was with him had preoccupied his mind. He sent off Palmet the bearer of a pretext for bringing Lydiard back, and then said to Cecilia, ‘You recognized Dr. Shrapnel?’

‘I thought it might be Dr. Shrapnel’, she was candid enough to reply. ‘I could not well recognize him, not knowing him.’

‘Here comes Mr. Lydiard; and let me assure you, if I may take the liberty of introducing him, he is no true Radical. He is a philosopher–one of the flirts, the butterflies of politics, as Dr. Shrapnel calls them.’

Beauchamp hummed over some improvized trifles to Lydiard, then introduced him cursorily, and all walked in the direction of Itchincope. It was really the Mr. Lydiard Mrs. Devereux had met in Spain, so they were left in the rear to discuss their travels. Much conversation did not go on in front. Cecilia was very reserved. By-and-by she said, ‘I am glad you have come into the country early to-day.’

He spoke rapturously of the fresh air, and not too mildly of his pleasure in meeting her. Quite off her guard, she began to hope he was getting to be one of them again, until she heard him tell Lord Palmet that he had come early out of Bevisham for the walk with Dr. Shrapnel, and to call on certain rich tradesmen living near Itchincope. He mentioned the name of Dollikins.

‘Dollikins?’ Palmet consulted a perturbed recollection. Among the entangled list of new names he had gathered recently from the study of politics, Dollikins rang in his head. He shouted, ‘Yes, Dollikins! to be sure. Lespel has him to lunch to-day;–calls him a gentleman- tradesman; odd fish! and told a fellow called–where is it now?–a name like brass or copper . . . Copperstone? Brasspot? . . . told him he’d do well to keep his Tory cheek out of sight. It ‘s the names of those fellows bother one so! All the rest’s easy.’

‘You are evidently in a state of confusion, Lord Palmet,’ said Cecilia.

The tone of rebuke and admonishment was unperceived. ‘Not about the facts,’ he rejoined. ‘I ‘m for fair play all round; no trickery. I tell Beauchamp all I know, just as I told you this morning, Miss Halkett. What I don’t like is Lespel turning Tory.’

Cecilia put a stop to his indiscretions by halting for Mrs. Devereux, and saying to Beauchamp, ‘If your friend would return to Bevisham by rail, this is the nearest point to the station.’

Palmet, best-natured of men, though generally prompted by some of his peculiar motives, dismounted from his horse, leaving him to Beauchamp, that he might conduct Mr. Lydiard to the station, and perhaps hear a word of Miss Denham: at any rate be able to form a guess as to the secret of that art of his, which had in the space of an hour restored a happy and luminous vivacity to the languid Mrs. Wardour-Devereux.

CHAPTER XXI

THE QUESTION AS TO THE EXAMINATION OF THE WHIGS, AND THE FINE BLOW STRUCK BY MR. EVERARD ROMFREY

Itchincope was famous for its hospitality. Yet Beauchamp, when in the presence of his hostess, could see that he was both unexpected and unwelcome. Mrs. Lespel was unable to conceal it; she looked meaningly at Cecilia, talked of the house being very full, and her husband engaged till late in the afternoon. And Captain Baskelett had arrived on a sudden, she said. And the luncheon-table in the dining-room could not possibly hold more.

‘We three will sit in the library, anywhere,’ said Cecilia.

So they sat and lunched in the library, where Mrs. Devereux served unconsciously for an excellent ally to Cecilia in chatting to Beauchamp, principally of the writings of Mr. Lydiard.

Had the blinds of the windows been drawn down and candles lighted, Beauchamp would have been well contented to remain with these two ladies, and forget the outer world; sweeter society could not have been offered him: but glancing carelessly on to the lawn, he exclaimed in some wonderment that the man he particularly wished to see was there. ‘It must be Dollikins, the brewer. I’ve had him pointed out to me in Bevisham, and I never can light on him at his brewery.’

No excuse for detaining the impetuous candidate struck Cecilia. She betook herself to Mrs. Lespel, to give and receive counsel in the emergency, while Beauchamp struck across the lawn to Mr. Dollikins, who had the squire of Itchincope on the other side of him.

Late in the afternoon a report reached the ladies of a furious contest going on over Dollikins. Mr. Algy Borolick was the first to give them intelligence of it, and he declared that Beauchamp had wrested Dollikins from Grancey Lespel. This was contradicted subsequently by Mr. Stukely Culbrett. ‘But there’s heavy pulling between them,’ he said.

‘It will do all the good in the world to Grancey,’ said Mrs. Lespel.

She sat in her little blue-room, with gentlemen congregating at the open window.

Presently Grancey Lespel rounded a projection of the house where the drawing-room stood out: ‘The maddest folly ever talked!’ he delivered himself in wrath. ‘The Whigs dead? You may as well say I’m dead.’

It was Beauchamp answering: ‘Politically, you’re dead, if you call yourself a Whig. You couldn’t be a live one, for the party’s in pieces, blown to the winds. The country was once a chess-board for Whig and Tory: but that game’s at an end. There’s no doubt on earth that the Whigs are dead.’

‘But if there’s no doubt about it, how is it I have a doubt about it?’

‘You know you’re a Tory. You tried to get that man Dollikins from me in the Tory interest.’

‘I mean to keep him out of Radical clutches. Now that ‘s the truth.’

They came up to the group by the open window, still conversing hotly, indifferent to listeners.

‘You won’t keep him from me; I have him,’ said Beauchamp.

‘You delude yourself; I have his promise, his pledged word,’ said Grancey Lespel.

‘The man himself told you his opinion of renegade Whigs.’

‘Renegade!’

‘Renegade Whig is an actionable phrase,’ Mr. Culbrett observed.

He was unnoticed.

‘If you don’t like “renegade,” take “dead,”‘ said Beauchamp. ‘Dead Whig resurgent in the Tory. You are dead.’

‘It’s the stupid conceit of your party thinks that.’

‘Dead, my dear Mr. Lespel. I’ll say for the Whigs, they would not be seen touting for Tories if they were not ghosts of Whigs. You are dead. There is no doubt of it.’

‘But,’ Grancey Lespel repeated, ‘if there’s no doubt about it, how is it I have a doubt about it?’

‘The Whigs preached finality in Reform. It was their own funeral sermon.’

‘Nonsensical talk!’

‘I don’t dispute your liberty of action to go over to the Tories, but you have no right to attempt to take an honest Liberal with you. And that I’ve stopped.’

‘Aha! Beauchamp; the man’s mine. Come, you’ll own he swore he wouldn’t vote for a Shrapnelite.’

‘Don’t you remember?–that’s how the Tories used to fight you; they stuck an epithet to you, and hooted to set the mob an example; you hit them off to the life,’ said Beauchamp, brightening with the fine ire of strife, and affecting a sadder indignation. ‘You traded on the ignorance of a man prejudiced by lying reports of one of the noblest of human creatures.’

‘Shrapnel? There! I’ve had enough.’ Grancey Lespel bounced away with both hands outspread on the level of his ears.

‘Dead!’ Beauchamp sent the ghastly accusation after him.

Grancey faced round and said, ‘Bo!’ which was applauded for a smart retort. And let none of us be so exalted above the wit of daily life as to sneer at it. Mrs. Lespel remarked to Mr. Culbrett, ‘Do you not see how much he is refreshed by the interest he takes in this election? He is ten years younger.’

Beauchamp bent to her, saying mock-dolefully, ‘I’m sorry to tell you that if ever he was a sincere Whig, he has years of remorse before him.’

‘Promise me, Captain Beauchamp,’ she answered, ‘promise you will give us no more politics to-day.’

‘If none provoke me.’

‘None shall.’

‘And as to Bevisham,’ said Mr. Culbrett, ‘it’s the identical borough for a Radical candidate, for every voter there demands a division of his property, and he should be the last to complain of an adoption of his principles.’

‘Clever,’ rejoined Beauchamp; ‘but I am under government’; and he swept a bow to Mrs. Lespel.

As they were breaking up the group, Captain Baskelett appeared.

‘Ah! Nevil,’ said he, passed him, saluted Miss Halkett through the window, then cordially squeezed his cousin’s hand. ‘Having a holiday out of Bevisham? The baron expects to meet you at Mount Laurels to-morrow. He particularly wishes me to ask you whether you think all is fair in war.’

‘I don’t,’ said Nevil.

‘Not? The canvass goes on swimmingly.’

‘Ask Palmet!

‘Palmet gives you two-thirds of the borough. The poor old Tory tortoise is nowhere. They’ve been writing about you, Nevil.’

‘They have. And if there ‘s a man of honour in the party I shall hold him responsible for it.’

‘I allude to an article in the Bevisham Liberal paper; a magnificent eulogy, upon my honour. I give you my word, I have rarely read an article so eloquent. And what is the Conservative misdemeanour which the man of honour in the party is to pay for?’

‘I’ll talk to you about it by-and-by,’ said Nevil.

He seemed to Cecilia too trusting, too simple, considering his cousin’s undisguised tone of banter. Yet she could not put him on his guard. She would have had Mr. Culbrett do so. She walked on the terrace with him near upon sunset, and said, ‘The position Captain Beauchamp is in here is most unfair to him.’

‘There’s nothing unfair in the lion’s den,’ said Stukely Culbrett; adding, ‘Now, observe, Miss Halkett; he talks for effect. He discovers that Lespel is a Torified Whig; but that does not make him a bit more alert. It’s to say smart things. He speaks, but won’t act, as if he were among enemies. He’s getting too fond of his bow-wow. Here he is, and he knows the den, and he chooses to act the innocent. You see how ridiculous? That trick of the ingenu, or peculiarly heavenly messenger, who pretends that he ought never to have any harm done to him, though he carries the lighted match, is the way of young Radicals. Otherwise Beauchamp would be a dear boy. We shall see how he takes his thrashing.’

‘You feel sure he will be beaten?’

‘He has too strong a dose of fool’s honesty to succeed–stands for the game laws with Radicals, for example. He’s loaded with scruples and crotchets, and thinks more of them than of his winds and his tides. No public man is to be made out of that. His idea of the Whigs being dead shows a head that can’t read the country. He means himself for mankind, and is preparing to be the benefactor of a country parish.’

‘But as a naval officer?’

‘Excellent.’

Cecilia was convinced that Mr. Culbrett underestimated Beauchamp. Nevertheless the confidence expressed in Beauchamp’s defeat reassured and pleased her. At midnight she was dancing with him in the midst of great matronly country vessels that raised a wind when they launched on the waltz, and exacted an anxious pilotage on the part of gentlemen careful of their partners; and why I cannot say, but contrasts produce quaint ideas in excited spirits, and a dancing politician appeared to her so absurd that at one moment she had to bite her lips not to laugh. It will hardly be credited that the waltz with Nevil was delightful to Cecilia all the while, and dancing with others a penance. He danced with none other. He led her to a three o’clock morning supper: one of those triumphant subversions of the laws and customs of earth which have the charm of a form of present deification for all young people; and she, while noting how the poor man’s advocate dealt with costly pasties and sparkling wines, was overjoyed at his hearty comrade’s manner with the gentlemen, and a leadership in fun that he seemed to have established. Cecil Baskelett acknowledged it, and complimented him on it. ‘I give you my word, Nevil, I never heard you in finer trim. Here’s to our drive into Bevisham to-morrow! Do you drink it? I beg; I entreat.’

‘Oh, certainly,’ said Nevil.

‘Will you take a whip down there?’

‘If you’re all insured.’

‘On my honour, old Nevil, driving a four-in-hand is easier than governing the country.’

‘I’ll accept your authority for what you know best,’ said Nevil.

The toast of the Drive into Bevisham was drunk.

Cecilia left the supper-table, mortified, and feeling disgraced by her participation in a secret that was being wantonly abused to humiliate Nevil, as she was made to think by her sensitiveness. All the gentlemen were against him, excepting perhaps that chattering pie Lord Palmet, who did him more mischief than his enemies. She could not sleep. She walked out on the terrace with Mrs. Wardour-Devereux, in a dream, hearing that lady breathe remarks hardly less than sentimental, and an unwearied succession of shouts from the smoking-room.

‘They are not going to bed to-night,’ said Mrs. Devereux.

‘They are mystifying Captain Beauchamp,’ said Cecilia.

‘My husband tells me they are going to drive him into the town to- morrow.’

Cecilia flushed: she could scarcely get her breath.

‘Is that their plot?’ she murmured.

Sleep was rejected by her, bed itself. The drive into Bevisham had been fixed for nine A.M. She wrote two lines on note-paper in her room: but found them overfervid and mysterious. Besides, how were they to be conveyed to Nevil’s chamber

She walked in the passage for half an hour, thinking it possible she might meet him; not the most lady-like of proceedings, but her head was bewildered. An arm-chair in her room invited her to rest and think–the mask of a natural desire for sleep. At eight in the morning she was awakened by her maid, and at a touch exclaimed, ‘Have they gone?’ and her heart still throbbed after hearing that most of the gentlemen were in and about the stables. Cecilia was down-stairs at a quarter to nine. The breakfast-room was empty of all but Lord Palmet and Mr. Wardour- Devereux; one selecting a cigar to light out of doors, the other debating between two pipes. She beckoned to Palmet, and commissioned him to inform Beauchamp that she wished him to drive her down to Bevisham in her pony-carriage. Palmet brought back word from Beauchamp that he had an appointment at ten o’clock in the town. ‘I want to see him,’ she said; so Palmet ran out with the order. Cecilia met Beauchamp in the entrance- hall.

‘You must not go,’ she said bluntly.

‘I can’t break an appointment,’ said he–‘for the sake of my own pleasure,’ was implied.

‘Will you not listen to me, Nevil, when I say you cannot go?’

A coachman’s trumpet blew.

‘I shall be late. That’s Colonel Millington’s team. He starts first, then Wardour-Devereux, then Cecil, and I mount beside him; Palmet’s at our heels.’

‘But can’t you even imagine a purpose for their driving into Bevisham so pompously?’

‘Well, men with drags haven’t commonly much purpose,’ he said.

‘But on this occasion! At an Election time! Surely, Nevil, you can guess at a reason.’

A second trumpet blew very martially. Footmen came in search of Captain Beauchamp. The alternative of breaking her pledged word to her father, or of letting Nevil be burlesqued in the sight of the town, could no longer be dallied with.

Cecilia said, ‘Well, Nevil, then you shall hear it.’

Hereupon Captain Baskelett’s groom informed Captain Beauchamp that he was off.

‘Yes,’ Nevil said to Cecilia, ‘tell me on board the yacht.’

‘Nevil, you will be driving into the town with the second Tory candidate of the borough.’

‘Which? who?’ Nevil ‘asked.

‘Your cousin Cecil.’

‘Tell Captain Baskelett that I don’t drive down till an hour later,’ Nevil said to the groom. ‘Cecilia, you’re my friend; I wish you were more. I wish we didn’t differ. I shall hope to change you–make you come half-way out of that citadel of yours. This is my uncle Everard! I might have made sure there’d be a blow from him! And Cecil! of all men for a politician! Cecilia, think of it! Cecil Baskelett! I beg Seymour Austin’s pardon for having suspected him . . .’

Now sounded Captain Baskelett’s trumpet.

Angry though he was, Beauchamp laughed. ‘Isn’t it exactly like the baron to spring a mine of this kind?’

There was decidedly humour in the plot, and it was a lusty quarterstaff blow into the bargain. Beauchamp’s head rang with it. He could not conceal the stunning effect it had on him. Gratitude and tenderness toward Cecilia for saving him, at the cost of a partial breach of faith that he quite understood, from the scandal of the public entry into Bevisham on the Tory coach-box, alternated with his interjections regarding his uncle Everard.

At eleven, Cecilia sat in her pony-carriage giving final directions to Mrs. Devereux where to look out for the Esperanza and the schooner’s boat. ‘Then I drive down alone,’ Mrs. Devereux said.

The gentlemen were all off, and every available maid with them on the coach-boxes, a brilliant sight that had been missed by Nevil and Cecilia.

‘Why, here’s Lydiard!’ said Nevil, supposing that Lydiard must be approaching him with tidings of the second Tory candidate. But Lydiard knew nothing of it. He was the bearer of a letter on foreign paper– marked urgent, in Rosamund’s hand–and similarly worded in the well-known hand which had inscribed the original address of the letter to Steynham.

Beauchamp opened it and read:

Chateau Tourdestelle
‘(Eure).

‘Come. I give you three days–no more.

‘RENEE.’

The brevity was horrible. Did it spring from childish imperiousness or tragic peril?

Beauchamp could imagine it to be this or that. In moments of excited speculation we do not dwell on the possibility that there may be a mixture of motives.

‘I fear I must cross over to France this evening,’ he said to Cecilia.

She replied, ‘It is likely to be stormy to-night. The steamboat may not run.’

‘If there’s a doubt of it, I shall find a French lugger. You are tired, from not sleeping last night.’

‘No,’ she answered, and nodded to Mrs. Devereux, beside whom Mr. Lydiard stood: ‘You will not drive down alone, you see.’

For a young lady threatened with a tempest in her heart, as disturbing to her as the one gathering in the West for ships at sea, Miss Halkett bore herself well.

CHAPTER XXII

THE DRIVE INTO BEVISHAM

Beauchamp was requested by Cecilia to hold the reins. His fair companion in the pony-carriage preferred to lean back musing, and he had leisure to think over the blow dealt him by his uncle Everard with so sure an aim so ringingly on the head. And in the first place he made no attempt to disdain it because it was nothing but artful and heavy-handed, after the mediaeval pattern. Of old he himself had delighted in artfulness as well as boldness and the unmistakeable hit. Highly to prize generalship was in his blood, though latterly the very forces propelling him to his political warfare had forbidden the use of it to him. He saw the patient veteran laying his gun for a long shot–to give as good as he had received; and in realizing Everard Romfrey’s perfectly placid bearing under provocation, such as he certainly would have maintained while preparing his reply to it, the raw fighting humour of the plot touched the sense of justice in Beauchamp enough to make him own that he had been the first to offend.

He could reflect also on the likelihood that other offended men of his uncle’s age and position would have sulked or stormed, threatening the Parthian shot of the vindictive testator. If there was godlessness in turning to politics for a weapon to strike a domestic blow, manfulness in some degree signalized it. Beauchamp could fancy his uncle crying out, Who set the example? and he was not at that instant inclined to dwell on the occult virtues of the example he had set. To be honest, this elevation of a political puppet like Cecil Baskelett, and the starting him, out of the same family which Turbot, the journalist, had magnified, into Bevisham with such pomp and flourish in opposition to the serious young champion of popular rights and the Puritan style, was ludicrously effective. Conscienceless of course. But that was the way of the Old School.

Beauchamp broke the silence by thanking Cecilia once more for saving him from the absurd exhibition of the Radical candidate on the Tory coach- box, and laughing at the grimmish slyness of his uncle Everard’s conspiracy a something in it that was half-smile half-sneer; not exactly malignant, and by no means innocent; something made up of the simplicity of a lighted match, and its proximity to powder, yet neither deadly, in spite of a wicked twinkle, nor at all pretending to be harmless: in short, a specimen of old English practical humour.

He laboured to express these or corresponding views of it, with tolerably natural laughter, and Cecilia rallied her spirits at his pleasant manner of taking his blow.

‘I shall compliment the baron when I meet him tonight,’ he said. ‘What can we compare him to?’

She suggested the Commander of the Faithful, the Lord Haroun, who likewise had a turn for buffooneries to serve a purpose, and could direct them loftily and sovereignty.

‘No: Everard Romfrey’s a Northerner from the feet up,’ said Beauchamp.

Cecilia compliantly offered him a sketch of the Scandinavian Troll: much nearer the mark, he thought, and exclaimed: ‘Baron Troll! I’m afraid, Cecilia, you have robbed him of the best part of his fun. And you will owe it entirely to him if you should be represented in Parliament by my cousin Basketett.’

‘Promise me, Nevit, that you will, when you meet Captain Baskelett, not forget I did you some service, and that I wish, I shall be so glad if you do not resent certain things . . . .Very objectionable, we all think.’

He released her from the embarrassing petition: ‘Oh! now I know my man, you may be sure I won’t waste a word on him. The fact is, he would not understand a word, and would require more–and that I don’t do. When I fancied Mr. Austin was the responsible person, I meant to speak to him.’

Cecilia smiled gratefully.

The sweetness of a love-speech would not have been sweeter to her than this proof of civilized chivalry in Nevil.

They came to the fir-heights overlooking Bevisham. Here the breezy beginning of a South-western autumnal gale tossed the ponies’ manes and made threads of Cecilia’s shorter locks of beautiful auburn by the temples and the neck, blustering the curls that streamed in a thick involution from the silken band gathering them off her uncovered clear- swept ears.

Beauchamp took an impression of her side face. It seemed to offer him everything the world could offer of cultivated purity, intelligent beauty and attractiveness; and ‘Wilt thou?’ said the winged minute. Peace, a good repute in the mouths of men, home, and a trustworthy woman for mate, an ideal English lady, the rarest growth of our country, and friends and fair esteem, were offered. Last night he had waltzed with her, and the manner of this tall graceful girl in submitting to the union of the measure and reserving her individual distinction, had exquisitely flattered his taste, giving him an auspicious image of her in partnership, through the uses of life.

He looked ahead at the low dead-blue cloud swinging from across channel. What could be the riddle of Renee’s letter! It chained him completely.

‘At all events, I shall not be away longer than three days,’ he said; paused, eyed Cecilia’s profile, and added, ‘Do we differ so much?’

‘It may not be so much as we think,’ said she.

‘But if we do!’

‘Then, Nevil, there is a difference between us.’

‘But if we keep our lips closed?’

‘We should have to shut our eyes as well!’

A lovely melting image of her stole over him; all the warmer for her unwittingness in producing it: and it awakened a tenderness toward the simple speaker.

Cecilia’s delicate breeding saved her from running on figuratively. She continued: ‘Intellectual differences do not cause wounds, except when very unintellectual sentiments are behind them:–my conceit, or your impatience, Nevil? “Noi veggiam come quei, che ha mala luce.” . . . I can confess my sight to be imperfect: but will you ever do so?’

Her musical voice in Italian charmed his hearing.

‘What poet was that you quoted?’

‘The wisest: Dante.’

‘Dr. Shrapnel’s favourite! I must try to read him.’

‘He reads Dante?’ Cecilia threw a stress on the august name; and it was manifest that she cared not for the answer.

Contemptuous exclusiveness could not go farther.

‘He is a man of cultivation,’ Beauchamp said cursorily, trying to avoid dissension, but in vain. ‘I wish I were half as well instructed, and the world half as charitable as he!–You ask me if I shall admit my sight to be imperfect. Yes; when you prove to me that priests and landlords are willing to do their duty by the people in preference to their churches and their property: but will you ever shake off prejudice?’

Here was opposition sounding again. Cecilia mentally reproached Dr. Shrapnel for it.

‘Indeed, Nevil, really, must not–may I not ask you this?–must not every one feel the evil spell of some associations? And Dante and Dr. Shrapnel!’

‘You don’t know him, Cecilia.’

‘I saw him yesterday.’

‘You thought him too tall?’

‘I thought of his character.’

‘How angry I should be with you if you were not so beautiful!’

‘I am immensely indebted to my unconscious advocate.’

‘You are clad in steel; you flash back; you won’t answer me out of the heart. I ‘m convinced it is pure wilfulness that makes you oppose me.’

‘I fancy you must be convinced because you cannot imagine women to have any share of public spirit, Nevil.’

A grain of truth in that remark set Nevil reflecting.

‘I want them to have it,’ he remarked, and glanced at a Tory placard, probably the puppet’s fresh-printed address to the electors, on one of the wayside fir-trees. ‘Bevisham looks well from here. We might make a North-western Venice of it, if we liked.’

‘Papa told you it would be money sunk in mud.’

‘Did I mention it to him?–Thoroughly Conservative!–So he would leave the mud as it is. They insist on our not venturing anything–those Tories! exactly as though we had gained the best of human conditions, instead of counting crops of rogues, malefactors, egoists, noxious and lumbersome creatures that deaden the country. Your town down there is one of the ugliest and dirtiest in the kingdom: it might be the fairest.’

‘I have often thought that of Bevisham, Nevil.’

He drew a visionary sketch of quays, embankments, bridged islands, public buildings, magical emanations of patriotic architecture, with a practical air, an absence of that enthusiasm which struck her with suspicion when it was not applied to landscape or the Arts; and she accepted it, and warmed, and even allowed herself to appear hesitating when he returned to the similarity of the state of mud-begirt Bevisham and our great sluggish England.

Was he not perhaps to be pitied in his bondage to the Frenchwoman, who could have no ideas in common with him?

The rare circumstance that she and Nevil Beauchamp had found a subject of agreement, partially overcame the sentiment Cecilia entertained for the foreign lady; and having now one idea in common with him, she conceived the possibility that there might be more. There must be many, for he loved England, and she no less. She clung, however, to the topic of Bevisham, preferring to dream of the many more, rather than run risks. Undoubtedly the town was of an ignoble aspect; and it was declining in prosperity; and it was consequently over-populated. And undoubtedly (so she was induced to coincide for the moment) a Government, acting to any extent like a supervising head, should aid and direct the energies of towns and ports and trades, and not leave everything everywhere to chance: schools for the people, public morality, should be the charge of Government. Cecilia had surrendered the lead to him, and was forced to subscribe to an equivalent of ‘undoubtedly’ the Tories just as little as the Liberals had done these good offices. Party against party, neither of them had a forethoughtful head for the land at large. They waited for the Press to spur a great imperial country to be but defensively armed, and they accepted the so-called volunteers, with a nominal one-month’s drill per annum, as a guarantee of defence!

Beauchamp startled her, actually kindled her mind to an activity of wonder and regret, with the statement of how much Government, acting with some degree of farsightedness, might have won to pay the public debt and remit taxation, by originally retaining the lines of railway, and fastening on the valuable land adjoining stations. Hundreds of millions of pounds!

She dropped a sigh at the prodigious amount, but inquired, ‘Who has calculated it?’

For though perfectly aware that this kind of conversation was a special compliment paid to her by her friend Nevil, and dimly perceiving that it implied something beyond a compliment-in fact, that it was his manner of probing her for sympathy, as other men would have conducted the process preliminary to deadly flattery or to wooing, her wits fenced her heart about; the exercise of shrewdness was an instinct of self-preservation. She had nothing but her poor wits, daily growing fainter, to resist him with. And he seemed to know it, and therefore assailed them, never trying at the heart.

That vast army of figures might be but a phantom army conjured out of the Radical mists, might it not? she hinted. And besides, we cannot surely require a Government to speculate in the future, can we?

Possibly not, as Governments go, Beauchamp said.

But what think you of a Government of landowners decreeing the enclosure of millions of acres of common land amongst themselves; taking the property of the people to add to their own! Say, is not that plunder? Public property, observe; decreed to them by their own law-making, under the pretence that it was being reclaimed for cultivation, when in reality it has been but an addition to their pleasure-grounds: a flat robbery of pasture from the poor man’s cow and goose, and his right of cutting furze for firing. Consider that! Beauchamp’s eyes flashed democratic in reciting this injury to the objects of his warm solicitude–the man, the cow, and the goose. But so must he have looked when fronting England’s enemies, and his aspect of fervour subdued Cecilia. She confessed her inability to form an estimate of such conduct.

‘Are they doing it still?’ she asked.

‘We owe it to Dr. Shrapnel foremost that there is now a watch over them to stop them. But for him, Grancey Lespel would have enclosed half of Northeden Heath. As it is, he has filched bits here and there, and he will have to put back his palings.’

However, now let Cecilia understand that we English, calling ourselves free, are under morally lawless rule. Government is what we require, and our means of getting it must be through universal suffrage. At present we have no Government; only shifting Party Ministries, which are the tools of divers interests, wealthy factions, to the sacrifice of the Commonwealth.

She listened, like Rosamund Culling overborne by Dr. Shrapnel, inwardly praying that she might discover a man to reply to him.

‘A Despotism, Nevil?’

He hoped not, declined the despot, was English enough to stand against the best of men in that character; but he cast it on Tory, Whig, and Liberal, otherwise the Constitutionalists, if we were to come upon the despot.

‘They see we are close on universal suffrage; they’ve been bidding each in turn for “the people,” and that has brought them to it, and now they’re alarmed, and accuse one another of treason to the Constitution, and they don’t accept the situation: and there’s a fear, that to carry on their present system, they will be thwarting the people or corrupting them: and in that case we shall have our despot in some shape or other, and we shall suffer.’

‘Nevil,’ said Cecilia, ‘I am out of my depth.’

‘I’ll support you; I can swim for two,’ said he.

‘You are very self-confident, but I find I am not fit for battle; at least not in the front ranks.’

‘Nerve me, then: will you? Try to comprehend once for all what the battle is.’

‘I am afraid I am too indifferent; I am too luxurious. That reminds me: you want to meet your uncle Everard and if you will sleep at Mount Laurels to-night, the Esperanza shall take you to France to-morrow morning, and can wait to bring you back.’

As she spoke she perceived a flush mounting over Nevil’s face. Soon it was communicated to hers.

The strange secret of the blood electrified them both, and revealed the burning undercurrent running between them from the hearts of each. The light that showed how near they were to one another was kindled at the barrier dividing them. It remained as good as a secret, unchallenged until they had separated, and after midnight Cecilia looked through her. chamber windows at the driving moon of a hurricane scud, and read clearly his honourable reluctance to be wafted over to his French love by her assistance; and Beauchamp on board the tossing steamboat perceived in her sympathetic reddening that she had divined him.

This auroral light eclipsed the other events of the day. He drove into a town royally decorated, and still humming with the ravishment of the Tory entrance. He sailed in the schooner to Mount Laurels, in the society of Captain Baskelett and his friends, who, finding him tamer than they expected, bantered him in the cheerfullest fashion. He waited for his uncle Everard several hours at Mount Laurels, perused the junior Tory’s address to the Electors, throughout which there was not an idea–safest of addresses to canvass upon! perused likewise, at Captain Baskelett’s request, a broad sheet of an article introducing the new candidate to Bevisham with the battle-axe Romfreys to back him, in high burlesque of Timothy Turbot upon Beauchamp: and Cecil hoped his cousin would not object to his borrowing a Romfrey or two for so pressing an occasion. All very funny, and no doubt the presence of Mr. Everard Romfrey would have heightened the fun from the fountain-head; but he happened to be delayed, and Beauchamp had to leave directions behind him in the town, besides the discussion of a whole plan of conduct with Dr. Shrapnel, so he was under the necessity of departing without seeing his uncle, really to his regret. He left word to that effect.

Taking leave of Cecilia, he talked of his return ‘home’ within three or four days as a certainty.

She said: ‘Canvassing should not be neglected now.’

Her hostility was confused by what she had done to save him from annoyance, while his behaviour to his cousin Cecil increased her respect for him. She detected a pathetic meaning in his mention of the word home; she mused on his having called her beautiful: whither was she hurrying? Forgetful of her horror of his revolutionary ideas, forgetful of the elevation of her own, she thrilled secretly on hearing it stated by the jubilant young Tories at Mount Laurels, as a characteristic of Beauchamp, that he was clever in parrying political thrusts, and slipping from the theme; he who with her gave out unguardedly the thoughts deepest in him. And the thoughts!–were they not of generous origin? Where so true a helpmate for him as the one to whom his mind appealed? It could not be so with the Frenchwoman. Cecilia divined a generous nature by generosity, and set herself to believe that in honour he had not yet dared to speak to her from the heart, not being at heart quite free. She