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Title: Evan Harrington — Complete
Author: Meredith, George, 1828-1909
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Evan Harrington — Complete" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



EVAN HARRINGTON

By George Meredith



CONTENTS:

BOOK 1.
I.        ABOVE BUTTONS
II.       THE HERITAGE OR THE SOY
III.      THE DAUGHTERS OR THE SHEARS
IV.       ON BOARD THE JOCASTA
V.        THE FAMILY AND THE FUNERAL
VI.       MY GENTLEMAN ON THE ROAD
VII.      MOTHER AND SON

BOOK 2.
VIII.     INTRODUCES AN ECCENTRIC
IX.       THE COUNTESS IN LOW SOCIETY
X.        MY GENTLEMAN ON THE ROAD AGAIN
XI.       DOINGS AT AN INN
XII.      IN WHICH ALE IS SHOWN TO HAVE ONE QUALITY OF WINE
XIII.     THE MATCH OF FALLOWFIELD AGAINST BECKLEY

BOOK 3.
XIV.      THE COUNTESS DESCRIBES THE FIELD OF ACTION
XV.       A CAPTURE
XVI.      LEADS TO A SMALL SKIRMISH BETWEEN ROSE AND EVAN
XVII.     IN WHICH EVAN WRITES HIMSELF TAILOR
XVIII.    IN WHICH EVAN CALLS HIMSELF GENTLEMAN

BOOK 4.
XIX.      SECOND DESPATCH OF THE COUNTESS
XX.       BREAK-NECK LEAP
XXI.      TRIBULATIONS AND TACTICS OF THE COUNTESS
XXII.     IN WHICH THE DAUGHTERS OF THE GREAT MEL HAVE TO
          DIGEST HIM AT DINNER
XXIII.    TREATS OF A HANDKERCHIEF
XXIV.     THE COUNTESS MAKES HERSELF FELT
XXV.      IN WHICH THE STREAM FLOWS MUDDY AND CLEAR

BOOK 5.
XXVI.     MRS. MEL MAKES A BED FOR HERSELF AND FAMILY
XXVII.    EXHIBITS ROSE'S GENERALSHIP; EVAN'S PERFORMANCE ON THE SECOND
          FIDDLE; AND THE WRETCHEDNESS OF THE COUNTESS
XXVIII.   TOM COGGLESBY'S PROPOSITION
XXIX.     PRELUDE TO AN ENGAGEMENT
XXX.      THE BATTLE OF THE BULL-DOGS.  PART I.
XXXI.     THE BATTLE OF THE BULL-DOGS.  PART II.

BOOK 6.
XXXII.    IN WHICH EVAN'S LIGHT BEGINS TO TWINKLE AGAIN
XXXIII.   THE HERO TAKES HIS RANK IN THE ORCHESTRA
XXXIV.    A PAGAN SACRIFICE
XXXV.     ROSE WOUNDED
XXXVI.    BEFORE BREAKFAST
XXXVII.   THE RETREAT FROM BECKLEY
XXXVIII.  IN WHICH WE HAVE TO SEE IN THE DARK

BOOK 7.
XXXIX.    IN THE DOMAIN OF TAILORDOM
XL.       IN WHICH THE COUNTESS STILL SCENTS GAME
XLI.      REVEALS AN ABOMINABLE PLOT OF THE BROTHERS COGGLESBY
XLII.     JULIANA
XLIII.    ROSE
XLIV.     CONTAINS A WARNING TO ALL CONSPIRATORS
XLV.      IN WHICH THE SHOP BECOMES THE CENTRE OF ATTRACTION
XLVI.     A LOVER'S PARTING
XLVII.    A YEAR LATER THE COUNTESS DE SALDAR DE SANCORVO TO HER
          SISTER CAROLINE



CHAPTER I

ABOVE BUTTONS

Long after the hours when tradesmen are in the habit of commencing
business, the shutters of a certain shop in the town of
Lymport-on-the-Sea remained significantly closed, and it became known
that death had taken Mr. Melchisedec Harrington, and struck one off the
list of living tailors. The demise of a respectable member of this class
does not ordinarily create a profound sensation. He dies, and his equals
debate who is to be his successor: while the rest of them who have come
in contact with him, very probably hear nothing of his great launch and
final adieu till the winding up of cash-accounts; on which occasions we
may augur that he is not often blessed by one or other of the two great
parties who subdivide this universe. In the case of Mr. Melchisedec it
was otherwise. This had been a grand man, despite his calling, and in the
teeth of opprobrious epithets against his craft. To be both generally
blamed, and generally liked, evinces a peculiar construction of mortal.
Mr. Melchisedec, whom people in private called the great Mel, had been at
once the sad dog of Lymport, and the pride of the town. He was a tailor,
and he kept horses; he was a tailor, and he had gallant adventures; he
was a tailor, and he shook hands with his customers. Finally, he was a
tradesman, and he never was known to have sent in a bill. Such a
personage comes but once in a generation, and, when he goes, men miss the
man as well as their money.

That he was dead, there could be no doubt. Kilne, the publican opposite,
had seen Sally, one of the domestic servants, come out of the house in
the early morning and rush up the street to the doctor's, tossing her
hands; and she, not disinclined to dilute her grief, had, on her return,
related that her master was then at his last gasp, and had refused, in so
many words, to swallow the doctor.

'"I won't swallow the doctor!" he says, "I won't swallow the doctor!"'
Sally moaned. '"I never touched him," he says, "and I never will."'

Kilne angrily declared, that in his opinion, a man who rejected medicine
in extremity, ought to have it forced down his throat: and considering
that the invalid was pretty deeply in Kilne's debt, it naturally assumed
the form of a dishonest act on his part; but Sally scornfully dared any
one to lay hand on her master, even for his own good. 'For,' said she,
'he's got his eyes awake, though he do lie so helpless. He marks ye!'

'Ah! ah!' Kilne sniffed the air. Sally then rushed back to her duties.

'Now, there 's a man!' Kilne stuck his hands in his pockets and began his
meditation: which, however, was cut short by the approach of his
neighbour Barnes, the butcher, to whom he confided what he had heard, and
who ejaculated professionally, 'Obstinate as a pig!' As they stood
together they beheld Sally, a figure of telegraph, at one of the windows,
implying that all was just over.

'Amen!' said Barnes, as to a matter-of-fact affair.

Some minutes after, the two were joined by Grossby, the confectioner, who
listened to the news, and observed:

'Just like him! I'd have sworn he'd never take doctor's stuff'; and,
nodding at Kilne, 'liked his medicine best, eh?'

'Had a-hem!--good lot of it,' muttered Kilne, with a suddenly serious
brow.

'How does he stand on your books?' asked Barnes.

Kilne shouldered round, crying: 'Who the deuce is to know?'

'I don't,' Grossby sighed. 'In he comes with his "Good morning, Grossby,
fine day for the hunt, Grossby," and a ten-pound note. "Have the kindness
to put that down in my favour, Grossby." And just as I am going to say,
"Look here,--this won't do," he has me by the collar, and there's one of
the regiments going to give a supper party, which he's to order; or the
Admiral's wife wants the receipt for that pie; or in comes my wife, and
there's no talking of business then, though she may have been bothering
about his account all the night beforehand. Something or other! and so we
run on.'

'What I want to know,' said Barnes, the butcher, 'is where he got his
tenners from?'

Kilne shook a sagacious head: 'No knowing!'

'I suppose we shall get something out of the fire?' Barnes suggested.

'That depends!' answered the emphatic Kilne.

'But, you know, if the widow carries on the business,' said Grossby,
'there's no reason why we shouldn't get it all, eh?'

'There ain't two that can make clothes for nothing, and make a profit out
of it,' said Kilne.

'That young chap in Portugal,' added Barnes, 'he won't take to tailoring
when he comes home. D' ye think he will?'

Kilne muttered: 'Can't say!' and Grossby, a kindly creature in his way,
albeit a creditor, reverting to the first subject of their discourse,
ejaculated, 'But what a one he was!--eh?'

'Fine!--to look on,' Kilne assented.

'Well, he was like a Marquis,' said Barnes.

Here the three regarded each other, and laughed, though not loudly. They
instantly checked that unseemliness, and Kilne, as one who rises from the
depths of a calculation with the sum in his head, spoke quite in a
different voice:

'Well, what do you say, gentlemen? shall we adjourn? No use standing
here.'

By the invitation to adjourn, it was well understood by the committee
Kilne addressed, that they were invited to pass his threshold, and
partake of a morning draught. Barnes, the butcher, had no objection
whatever, and if Grossby, a man of milder make, entertained any, the
occasion and common interests to be discussed, advised him to waive them.
In single file these mourners entered the publican's house, where Kilne,
after summoning them from behind the bar, on the important question, what
it should be? and receiving, first, perfect acquiescence in his views as
to what it should be, and then feeble suggestions of the drink best
befitting that early hour and the speaker's particular constitution,
poured out a toothful to each, and one to himself.

'Here's to him, poor fellow!' said Kilne; and was deliberately echoed
twice.

'Now, it wasn't that,' Kilne pursued, pointing to the bottle in the midst
of a smacking of lips, 'that wasn't what got him into difficulties. It
was expensive luckshries. It was being above his condition. Horses!
What's a tradesman got to do with horses? Unless he's retired! Then he's
a gentleman, and can do as he likes. It's no use trying to be a gentleman
if you can't pay for it. It always ends bad. Why, there was he,
consorting with gentlefolks--gay as a lark! Who has to pay for it?'

Kilne's fellow-victims maintained a rather doleful tributary silence.

'I'm not saying anything against him now,' the publican further observed.
'It 's too late. And there! I'm sorry he's gone, for one. He was as kind
a hearted a man as ever breathed. And there! perhaps it was just as much
my fault; I couldn't say "No" to him,--dash me, if I could!'

Lymport was a prosperous town, and in prosperity the much-despised
British tradesman is not a harsh, he is really a well-disposed, easy
soul, and requires but management, manner, occasional instalments--just
to freshen the account--and a surety that he who debits is on the spot,
to be a right royal king of credit. Only the account must never drivel.
'Stare aut crescere' appears to be his feeling on that point, and the
departed Mr. Melchisedec undoubtedly understood him there; for the
running on of the account looked deplorable and extraordinary now that
Mr. Melchisedec was no longer in a position to run on with it, and it was
precisely his doing so which had prevented it from being brought to a
summary close long before. Both Barnes, the butcher; and Grossby, the
confectioner, confessed that they, too, found it hard ever to say 'No' to
him, and, speaking broadly, never could.

'Except once,'said Barnes, 'when he wanted me to let him have a ox to
roast whole out on the common, for the Battle of Waterloo. I stood out
against him on that. "No, no," says I, "I'll joint him for ye, Mr.
Harrington. You shall have him in joints, and eat him at home";-ha! ha!'

'Just like him!' said Grossby, with true enjoyment of the princely
disposition that had dictated the patriotic order.

'Oh!--there!' Kilne emphasized, pushing out his arm across the bar, as
much as to say, that in anything of such a kind, the great Mel never had
a rival.

'That "Marquis" affair changed him a bit,' said Barnes.

'Perhaps it did, for a time,' said Kilne. 'What's in the grain, you know.
He couldn't change. He would be a gentleman, and nothing 'd stop him.'

'And I shouldn't wonder but what that young chap out in Portugal 'll want
to be one, too; though he didn't bid fair to be so fine a man as his
father.'

'More of a scholar,' remarked Kilne. 'That I call his worst
fault--shilly-shallying about that young chap. I mean his.' Kilne
stretched a finger toward the dead man's house. 'First, the young chap's
to be sent into the Navy; then it's the Army; then he's to be a judge,
and sit on criminals; then he goes out to his sister in Portugal; and now
there's nothing but a tailor open to him, as I see, if we're to get our
money.'

'Ah! and he hasn't got too much spirit to work to pay his father's
debts,' added Barnes. 'There's a business there to make any man's
fortune-properly directed, I say. But, I suppose, like father like son,
he'll becoming the Marquis, too. He went to a gentleman's school, and
he's had foreign training. I don't know what to think about it. His
sisters over there--they were fine women.'

'Oh! a fine family, every one of 'em! and married well!' exclaimed the
publican.

'I never had the exact rights of that "Marquis" affair,' said Grossby;
and, remembering that he had previously laughed knowingly when it was
alluded to, pursued: 'Of course I heard of it at the time, but how did he
behave when he was blown upon?'

Barnes undertook to explain; but Kilne, who relished the narrative quite
as well, and was readier, said: 'Look here! I 'll tell you. I had it from
his own mouth one night when he wasn't--not quite himself. He was coming
down King William Street, where he stabled his horse, you know, and I met
him. He'd been dining out-somewhere out over Fallow field, I think it
was; and he sings out to me, "Ah! Kilne, my good fellow!" and I, wishing
to be equal with him, says, "A fine night, my lord!" and he draws himself
up--he smelt of good company--says he, "Kilne! I'm not a lord, as you
know, and you have no excuse for mistaking me for one, sir!" So I
pretended I had mistaken him, and then he tucked his arm under mine, and
said, "You're no worse than your betters, Kilne. They took me for one at
Squire Uplift's to-night, but a man who wishes to pass off for more than
he is, Kilne, and impose upon people," he says, "he's contemptible,
Kilne! contemptible!" So that, you know, set me thinking about "Bath" and
the "Marquis," and I couldn't help smiling to myself, and just let slip a
question whether he had enlightened them a bit. "Kilne," said he, "you're
an honest man, and a neighbour, and I'll tell you what happened. The
Squire," he says, "likes my company, and I like his table. Now the Squire
'd never do a dirty action, but the Squire's nephew, Mr. George Uplift,
he can't forget that I earn my money, and once or twice I have had to
correct him." And I'll wager Mel did it, too! Well, he goes on: "There
was Admiral Sir Jackson Racial and his lady, at dinner, Squire Falco of
Bursted, Lady Barrington, Admiral Combleman--our admiral, that was; 'Mr.
This and That', I forget their names--and other ladies and gentlemen
whose acquaintance I was not honoured with." You know his way of talking.
"And there was a goose on the table," he says; and, looking stern at me,
"Don't laugh yet!" says he, like thunder. "Well, he goes on: Mr. George
caught my eye across the table, and said, so as not to be heard by his
uncle, 'If that bird was rampant, you would see your own arms, Marquis.'"
And Mel replied, quietly for him to hear, 'And as that bird is couchant,
Mr. George, you had better look to your sauce.' Couchant means squatting,
you know. That's heraldry! Well, that wasn't bad sparring of Mel's. But,
bless you! he was never taken aback, and the gentlefolks was glad enough
to get him to sit down amongst 'em. So, says Mr. George, "I know you're a
fire-eater, Marquis," and his dander was up, for he began marquising Mel,
and doing the mock polite at such a rate, that, by-and-by, one of the
ladies who didn't know Mel called him "my lord" and "his lordship."
"And," says Mel, "I merely bowed to her, and took no notice." So that
passed off: and there sits Mel telling his anecdotes, as grand as a king.
And, by and-by, young Mr. George, who hadn't forgiven Mel, and had been
pulling at the bottle pretty well, he sings out, "It 's Michaelmas! the
death of the goose! and I should like to drink the Marquis's health!" and
he drank it solemn. But, as far as I can make out, the women part of the
company was a little in the dark. So Mel waited till there was a sort of
a pause, and then speaks rather loud to the Admiral, "By the way, Sir
Jackson, may I ask you, has the title of Marquis anything to do with
tailoring?" Now Mel was a great favourite with the Admiral, and with his
lady, too, they say--and the Admiral played into his hands, you see, and,
says he, "I 'm not aware that it has, Mr. Harrington." And he begged for
to know why he asked the question--called him, "Mister," you understand.
So Mel said, and I can see him now, right out from his chest he spoke,
with his head up "When I was a younger man, I had the good taste to be
fond of good society, and the bad taste to wish to appear different from
what I was in it": that's Mel speaking; everybody was listening; so he
goes on: "I was in the habit of going to Bath in the season, and
consorting with the gentlemen I met there on terms of equality; and for
some reason that I am quite guiltless of," says Mel, "the hotel people
gave out that I was a Marquis in disguise; and, upon my honour, ladies
and gentlemen--I was young then, and a fool--I could not help imagining I
looked the thing. At all events, I took upon myself to act the part, and
with some success, and considerable gratification; for, in my opinion,"
says Mel, "no real Marquis ever enjoyed his title so much as I did. One
day I was in my shop--No. 193, Main Street, Lymport--and a gentleman came
in to order his outfit. I received his directions, when suddenly he
started back, stared at me, and exclaimed:

'My dear Marquis! I trust you will pardon me for having addressed you
with so much familiarity.' I recognized in him one of my Bath
acquaintances. That circumstance, ladies and gentlemen, has been a lesson
to me. Since that time I have never allowed a false impression with
regard to my position to exist. I desire," says Mel, smiling, "to have
my exact measure taken everywhere; and if the Michaelmas bird is to be
associated with me, I am sure I have no objection; all I can say is, that
I cannot justify it by letters patent of nobility." That's how Mel put
it. Do you think they thought worse of him? I warrant you he came out of
it in flying colours. Gentlefolks like straight-forwardness in their
inferiors--that's what they do. Ah!' said Kilne, meditatively, 'I see him
now, walking across the street in the moonlight, after he 'd told me
that. A fine figure of a man! and there ain't many Marquises to match
him.'

To this Barnes and Grossby, not insensible to the merits of the recital
they had just given ear to, agreed. And with a common voice of praise in
the mouths of his creditors, the dead man's requiem was sounded.



CHAPTER II

THE HERITAGE OF THE SON

Toward evening, a carriage drove up to the door of the muted house, and
the card of Lady Racial, bearing a hurried line in pencil, was handed to
the widow.

It was when you looked upon her that you began to comprehend how great
was the personal splendour of the husband who could eclipse such a woman.
Mrs. Harrington was a tall and a stately dame. Dressed in the high waists
of the matrons of that period, with a light shawl drawn close over her
shoulders and bosom, she carried her head well; and her pale firm
features, with the cast of immediate affliction on them, had much
dignity: dignity of an unrelenting physical order, which need not express
any remarkable pride of spirit. The family gossips who, on both sides,
were vain of this rare couple, and would always descant on their beauty,
even when they had occasion to slander their characters, said, to
distinguish them, that Henrietta Maria had a Port, and Melchisedec a
Presence: and that the union of a Port and a Presence, and such a Port
and such a Presence, was so uncommon, that you might search England
through and you would not find another, not even in the highest ranks of
society. There lies some subtle distinction here; due to the minute
perceptions which compel the gossips of a family to coin phrases that
shall express the nicest shades of a domestic difference. By a Port, one
may understand them to indicate something unsympathetically impressive;
whereas a Presence would seem to be a thing that directs the most affable
appeal to our poor human weaknesses. His Majesty King George IV., for
instance, possessed a Port: Beau Brummel wielded a Presence. Many, it is
true, take a Presence to mean no more than a shirt-frill, and interpret a
Port as the art of walking erect. But this is to look upon language too
narrowly.

On a more intimate acquaintance with the couple, you acknowledge the
aptness of the fine distinction. By birth Mrs. Harrington had claims to
rank as a gentlewoman. That is, her father was a lawyer of Lymport. The
lawyer, however, since we must descend the genealogical tree, was known
to have married his cook, who was the lady's mother. Now Mr. Melchisedec
was mysterious concerning his origin; and, in his cups, talked largely
and wisely of a great Welsh family, issuing from a line of princes; and
it is certain that he knew enough of their history to have instructed
them on particular points of it. He never could think that his wife had
done him any honour in espousing him; nor was she the woman to tell him
so. She had married him for love, rejecting various suitors, Squire
Uplift among them, in his favour. Subsequently she had committed the
profound connubial error of transferring her affections, or her thoughts,
from him to his business, which, indeed, was much in want of a mate; and
while he squandered the guineas, she patiently picked up the pence. They
had not lived unhappily. He was constantly courteous to her. But to see
the Port at that sordid work considerably ruffled the Presence--put, as
it were, the peculiar division between them; and to behave toward her as
the same woman who had attracted his youthful ardours was a task for his
magnificent mind, and may have ranked with him as an indemnity for his
general conduct, if his reflections ever stretched so far. The
townspeople of Lymport were correct in saying that his wife, and his wife
alone, had, as they termed it, kept him together. Nevertheless, now that
he was dead, and could no longer be kept together, they entirely forgot
their respect for her, in the outburst of their secret admiration for the
popular man. Such is the constitution of the inhabitants of this dear
Island of Britain, so falsely accused by the Great Napoleon of being a
nation of shopkeepers. Here let any one proclaim himself Above Buttons,
and act on the assumption, his fellows with one accord hoist him on their
heads, and bear him aloft, sweating, and groaning, and cursing, but proud
of him! And if he can contrive, or has any good wife at home to help him,
to die without going to the dogs, they are, one may say, unanimous in
crying out the same eulogistic funeral oration as that commenced by
Kilne, the publican, when he was interrupted by Barnes, the butcher,
'Now, there's a man!--'

Mrs. Harrington was sitting in her parlour with one of her married
nieces, Mrs. Fiske, and on reading Lady Racial's card she gave word for
her to be shown up into the drawing-room. It was customary among Mrs.
Harrington's female relatives, who one and all abused and adored the
great Mel, to attribute his shortcomings pointedly to the ladies; which
was as much as if their jealous generous hearts had said that he was
sinful, but that it was not his fault. Mrs. Fiske caught the card from
her aunt, read the superscription, and exclaimed: 'The idea! At least she
might have had the decency! She never set her foot in the house
before--and right enough too! What can she want now? I decidedly would
refuse to see her, aunt!'

The widow's reply was simply, 'Don't be a fool, Ann!'

Rising, she said: 'Here, take poor Jacko, and comfort him till I come
back.'

Jacko was a middle-sized South American monkey, and had been a pet of her
husband's. He was supposed to be mourning now with the rest of the
family. Mrs. Fiske received him on a shrinking lap, and had found time to
correct one of his indiscretions before she could sigh and say, in the
rear of her aunt's retreating figure, 'I certainly never would let
myself, down so'; but Mrs. Harrington took her own counsel, and Jacko was
of her persuasion, for he quickly released himself from Mrs. Fiske's
dispassionate embrace, and was slinging his body up the balusters after
his mistress.

'Mrs. Harrington,' said Lady Racial, very sweetly swimming to meet her as
she entered the room, 'I have intruded upon you, I fear, in venturing to
call upon you at such a time?'

The widow bowed to her, and begged her to be seated.

Lady Racial was an exquisitely silken dame, in whose face a winning smile
was cut, and she was still sufficiently youthful not to be accused of
wearing a flower too artificial.

'It was so sudden! so sad!' she continued. 'We esteemed him so much. I
thought you might be in need of sympathy, and hoped I might--Dear Mrs.
Harrington! can you bear to speak of it?'

'I can tell you anything you wish to hear, my lady,' the widow replied.
Lady Racial had expected to meet a woman much more like what she
conceived a tradesman's wife would be: and the grave reception of her
proffer of sympathy slightly confused her. She said:

'I should not have come, at least not so early, but Sir Jackson, my
husband, thought, and indeed I imagined--You have a son, Mrs. Harrington?
I think his name is--'

'Evan, my lady.'

'Evan. It was of him we have been speaking. I imagined that is, we
thought, Sir Jackson might--you will be writing to him, and will let him
know we will use our best efforts to assist him in obtaining some
position worthy of his--superior to--something that will secure him from
the harassing embarrassments of an uncongenial employment.'

The widow listened to this tender allusion to the shears without a smile
of gratitude. She replied: 'I hope my son will return in time to bury his
father, and he will thank you himself, my lady.'

'He has no taste for--a--for anything in the shape of trade, has he, Mrs.
Harrington?'

'I am afraid not, my lady.'

'Any position--a situation--that of a clerk even--would be so much better
for him!'

The widow remained impassive.

'And many young gentlemen I know, who are clerks, and are enabled to live
comfortably, and make a modest appearance in society; and your son, Mrs.
Harrington, he would find it surely an improvement upon--many would think
it a step for him.'

'I am bound to thank you for the interest you take in my son, my lady.'

'Does it not quite suit your views, Mrs. Harrington?' Lady Racial was
surprised at the widow's manner.

'If my son had only to think of himself, my lady.'

'Oh! but of course,'--the lady understood her now--'of course! You cannot
suppose, Mrs. Harrington, but that I should anticipate he would have you
to live with him, and behave to you in every way as a dutiful son,
surely?

'A clerk's income is not very large, my lady.'

'No; but enough, as I have said, and with the management you would bring,
Mrs. Harrington, to produce a modest, respectable maintenance. My respect
for your husband, Mrs. Harrington, makes me anxious to press my services
upon you.' Lady Racial could not avoid feeling hurt at the widow's want
of common gratitude.

'A clerk's income would not be more than L100 a year, my lady.'

'To begin with--no; certainly not more.' The lady was growing brief.

'If my son puts by the half of that yearly, he can hardly support himself
and his mother, my lady.'

'Half of that yearly, Mrs. Harrington?'

'He would have to do so, and be saddled till he dies, my lady.'

'I really cannot see why.'

Lady Racial had a notion of some excessive niggardly thrift in the widow,
which was arousing symptoms of disgust.

Mrs. Harrington quietly said: 'There are his father's debts to pay, my
lady.'

'His father's debts!'

'Under L5000, but above L4000, my lady.'

'Five thousand pounds! Mrs. Harrington!' The lady's delicately gloved
hand gently rose and fell. 'And this poor young man--'she pursued.

'My son will have to pay it, my lady.'

For a moment the lady had not a word to instance. Presently she remarked:
'But, Mrs. Harrington, he is surely under no legal obligation?'

'He is only under the obligation not to cast disrespect on his father's
memory, my lady; and to be honest, while he can.'

'But, Mrs. Harrington! surely! what can the poor young man do?'

'He will pay it, my lady.'

'But how, Mrs. Harrington?'

'There is his father's business, my lady.'

His father's business! Then must the young man become a tradesman in
order to show respect for his father? Preposterous! That was the lady's
natural inward exclamation. She said, rather shrewdly, for one who knew
nothing of such things: 'But a business which produces debts so enormous,
Mrs. Harrington!'

The widow replied: 'My son will have to conduct it in a different way. It
would be a very good business, conducted properly, my lady.'

'But if he has no taste for it, Mrs. Harrington? If he is altogether
superior to it?'

For the first time during the interview, the widow's inflexible
countenance was mildly moved, though not to any mild expression.

'My son will have not to consult his tastes,' she observed: and seeing
the lady, after a short silence, quit her seat, she rose likewise, and
touched the fingers of the hand held forth to her, bowing.

'You will pardon the interest I take in your son,' said Lady Racial. 'I
hope, indeed, that his relatives and friends will procure him the means
of satisfying the demands made upon him.'

'He would still have to pay them, my lady,' was the widow's answer.

'Poor young man! indeed I pity him!' sighed her visitor. 'You have
hitherto used no efforts to persuade him to take such a step,--Mrs.
Harrington?'

'I have written to Mr. Goren, who was my husband's fellow-apprentice in
London, my lady; and he is willing to instruct him in cutting, and
measuring, and keeping accounts.'

Certain words in this speech were obnoxious to the fine ear of Lady
Racial, and she relinquished the subject.

'Your husband, Mrs. Harrington--I should so much have wished!--he did not
pass away in--in pain!'

'He died very calmly, my lady.'

'It is so terrible, so disfiguring, sometimes. One dreads to see!--one
can hardly distinguish! I have known cases where death was dreadful! But
a peaceful death is very beautiful! There is nothing shocking to the
mind. It suggests heaven! It seems a fulfilment of our prayers!'

'Would your ladyship like to look upon him?' said the widow.

Lady Racial betrayed a sudden gleam at having her desire thus intuitively
fathomed.

'For one moment, Mrs. Harrington! We esteemed him so much! May I?'

The widow responded by opening the door, and leading her into the chamber
where the dead man lay.

At that period, when threats of invasion had formerly stirred up the
military fire of us Islanders, the great Mel, as if to show the great
Napoleon what character of being a British shopkeeper really was, had, by
remarkable favour, obtained a lieutenancy of militia dragoons: in the
uniform of which he had revelled, and perhaps, for the only time in his
life, felt that circumstances had suited him with a perfect fit. However
that may be, his solemn final commands to his wife, Henrietta Maria, on
whom he could count for absolute obedience in such matters, had been,
that as soon as the breath had left his body, he should be taken from his
bed, washed, perfumed, powdered, and in that uniform dressed and laid
out; with directions that he should be so buried at the expiration of
three days, that havoc in his features might be hidden from men. In this
array Lady Racial beheld him. The curtains of the bed were drawn aside.
The beams of evening fell soft through the blinds of the room, and cast a
subdued light on the figure of the vanquished warrior. The Presence, dumb
now for evermore, was sadly illumined for its last exhibition. But one
who looked closely might have seen that Time had somewhat spoiled that
perfect fit which had aforetime been his pride; and now that the lofty
spirit had departed, there had been extreme difficulty in persuading the
sullen excess of clay to conform to the dimensions of those garments. The
upper part of the chest alone would bear its buttons, and across one
portion of the lower limbs an ancient seam had started; recalling an
incident to them who had known him in his brief hour of glory. For one
night, as he was riding home from Fallow field, and just entering the
gates of the town, a mounted trooper spurred furiously past, and slashing
out at him, gashed his thigh. Mrs. Melchisedec found him lying at his
door in a not unwonted way; carried him up-stairs in her arms, as she had
done many a time before, and did not perceive his condition till she saw
the blood on her gown. The cowardly assailant was never discovered; but
Mel was both gallant and had, in his military career, the reputation of
being a martinet. Hence, divers causes were suspected. The wound failed
not to mend, the trousers were repaired: Peace about the same time was
made, and the affair passed over.

Looking on the fine head and face, Lady Racial saw nothing of this. She
had not looked long before she found covert employment for her
handkerchief. The widow standing beside her did not weep, or reply to her
whispered excuses at emotion; gazing down on his mortal length with a
sort of benignant friendliness; aloof, as one whose duties to that form
of flesh were well-nigh done. At the feet of his master, Jacko, the
monkey, had jumped up, and was there squatted, with his legs crossed,
very like a tailor! The imitative wretch had got a towel, and as often as
Lady Racial's handkerchief travelled to her eyes, Jacko's peery face was
hidden, and you saw his lithe skinny body doing grief's convulsions till,
tired of this amusement, he obtained possession of the warrior's helmet,
from a small round table on one side of the bed; a calque of the
barbarous military-Georgian form, with a huge knob of horse-hair
projecting over the peak; and under this, trying to adapt it to his
rogue's head, the tricksy image of Death extinguished himself.

All was very silent in the room. Then the widow quietly disengaged Jacko,
and taking him up, went to the door, and deposited him outside. During
her momentary absence, Lady Racial had time to touch the dead man's
forehead with her lips, unseen.



CHAPTER III

THE DAUGHTERS OF THE SHEARS

Three daughters and a son were left to the world by Mr. Melchisedec.
Love, well endowed, had already claimed to provide for the daughters:
first in the shape of a lean Marine subaltern, whose days of obscuration
had now passed, and who had come to be a major of that corps: secondly,
presenting his addresses as a brewer of distinction: thirdly, and for a
climax, as a Portuguese Count: no other than the Senor Silva Diaz, Conde
de Saldar: and this match did seem a far more resplendent one than that
of the two elder sisters with Major Strike and Mr. Andrew Cogglesby. But
the rays of neither fell visibly on Lymport. These escaped Eurydices
never reappeared, after being once fairly caught away from the gloomy
realms of Dis, otherwise Trade. All three persons of singular beauty, a
certain refinement, some Port, and some Presence, hereditarily combined,
they feared the clutch of that fell king, and performed the widest
possible circles around him. Not one of them ever approached the house of
her parents. They were dutiful and loving children, and wrote frequently;
but of course they had to consider their new position, and their
husbands, and their husbands' families, and the world, and what it would
say, if to it the dreaded rumour should penetrate! Lymport gossips, as
numerous as in other parts, declared that the foreign nobleman would rave
in an extraordinary manner, and do things after the outlandish fashion of
his country: for from him, there was no doubt, the shop had been most
successfully veiled, and he knew not of Pluto's close relationship to his
lovely spouse.

The marriages had happened in this way. Balls are given in country towns,
where the graces of tradesmen's daughters may be witnessed and admired at
leisure by other than tradesmen: by occasional country gentlemen of the
neighbourhood, with light minds: and also by small officers: subalterns
wishing to do tender execution upon man's fair enemy, and to find a
distraction for their legs. The classes of our social fabric have, here
and there, slight connecting links, and provincial public balls are one
of these. They are dangerous, for Cupid is no respecter of
class-prejudice; and if you are the son of a retired tea-merchant, or of
a village doctor, or of a half-pay captain, or of anything superior, and
visit one of them, you are as likely to receive his shot as any shopboy.
Even masquerading lords at such places, have been known to be slain
outright; and although Society allows to its highest and dearest to save
the honour of their families, and heal their anguish, by indecorous
compromise, you, if you are a trifle below that mark, must not expect it.
You must absolutely give yourself for what you hope to get. Dreadful as
it sounds to philosophic ears, you must marry. This, having danced with
Caroline Harrington, the gallant Lieutenant Strike determined to do. Nor,
when he became aware of her father's occupation, did he shrink from his
resolve. After a month's hard courtship, he married her straight out of
her father's house. That he may have all the credit due to him, it must
be admitted that he did not once compare, or possibly permit himself to
reflect on, the dissimilarity in their respective ranks, and the step he
had taken downward, till they were man and wife: and then not in any
great degree, before Fortune had given him his majority; an advance the
good soldier frankly told his wife he did not owe to her. If we may be
permitted to suppose the colonel of a regiment on friendly terms with one
of his corporals, we have an estimate of the domestic life of Major and
Mrs. Strike. Among the garrison males, his comrades, he passed for a
disgustingly jealous brute.

The ladies, in their pretty language, signalized him as a 'finick.'

Now, having achieved so capital a marriage, Caroline, worthy creature,
was anxious that her sisters should not be less happy, and would have
them to visit her, in spite of her husband's protests.

'There can be no danger,' she said, for she was in fresh quarters, far
from the nest of contagion. The lieutenant himself ungrudgingly declared
that, looking on the ladies, no one for an instant could suspect; and he
saw many young fellows ready to be as great fools as he had been another
voluntary confession he made to his wife; for the candour of which she
thanked him, and pointed out that it seemed to run in the family;
inasmuch as Mr. Andrew Cogglesby, his rich relative, had seen and had
proposed for Harriet. The lieutenant flatly said he would never allow it.
In fact he had hitherto concealed the non-presentable portion of his
folly very satisfactorily from all save the mess-room, and Mr. Andrew's
passion was a severe dilemma to him. It need scarcely be told that his
wife, fortified by the fervid brewer, defeated him utterly. What was
more, she induced him to be an accomplice in deception. For though the
lieutenant protested that he washed his hands of it, and that it was a
fraud and a snare, he certainly did not avow the condition of his wife's
parents to Mr. Andrew, but alluded to them in passing as 'the country
people.' He supposed 'the country people' must be asked, he said. The
brewer offered to go down to them. But the lieutenant drew an unpleasant
picture of the country people, and his wife became so grave at the
proposal, that Mr. Andrew said he wanted to marry the lady and not the
'country people,' and if she would have him, there he was. There he was,
behaving with a particular and sagacious kindness to the raw lieutenant
since Harriet's arrival. If the lieutenant sent her away, Mr. Andrew
would infallibly pursue her, and light on a discovery. Twice cursed by
Love, twice the victim of tailordom, our excellent Marine gave away
Harriet Harrington in marriage to Mr. Andrew Cogglesby.

Thus Joy clapped hands a second time, and Horror deepened its shadows.

From higher ground it was natural that the remaining sister should take a
bolder flight. Of the loves of the fair Louisa Harrington and the foreign
Count, and how she first encountered him in the brewer's saloons, and how
she, being a humorous person, laughed at his 'loaf' for her, and wore the
colours that pleased him, and kindled and soothed his jealousy, little is
known beyond the fact that she espoused the Count, under the auspices of
the affluent brewer, and engaged that her children should be brought up
in the faith of the Catholic Church: which Lymport gossips called, paying
the Devil for her pride.

The three sisters, gloriously rescued by their own charms, had now to
think of their one young brother. How to make him a gentleman! That was
their problem.

Preserve him from tailordom--from all contact with trade--they must;
otherwise they would be perpetually linked to the horrid thing they hoped
to outlive and bury. A cousin of Mr. Melchisedec's had risen to be an
Admiral and a knight for valiant action in the old war, when men could
rise. Him they besought to take charge of the youth, and make a
distinguished seaman of him. He courteously declined. They then attacked
the married Marine--Navy or Army being quite indifferent to them as long
as they could win for their brother the badge of one Service, 'When he is
a gentleman at once!' they said, like those who see the end of their
labours. Strike basely pretended to second them. It would have been
delightful to him, of course, to have the tailor's son messing at the
same table, and claiming him when he pleased with a familiar 'Ah,
brother!' and prating of their relationship everywhere. Strike had been a
fool: in revenge for it he laid out for himself a masterly career of
consequent wisdom. The brewer--uxorious Andrew Cogglesby--might and would
have bought the commission. Strike laughed at the idea of giving money
for what could be got for nothing. He told them to wait.

In the meantime Evan, a lad of seventeen, spent the hours not devoted to
his positive profession--that of gentleman--in the offices of the
brewery, toying with big books and balances, which he despised with the
combined zeal of the sucking soldier and emancipated tailor.

Two years passed in attendance on the astute brother-in-law, to whom
Fortune now beckoned to come to her and gather his laurels from the
pig-tails. About the same time the Countess sailed over from Lisbon on a
visit to her sister Harriet (in reality, it was whispered in the
Cogglesby saloons, on a diplomatic mission from the Court of Lisbon; but
that could not be made ostensible). The Countess narrowly examined Evan,
whose steady advance in his profession both her sisters praised.

'Yes,' said the Countess, in a languid alien accent. 'He has something of
his father's carriage--something. Something of his delivery--his
readiness.'

It was a remarkable thing that these ladies thought no man on earth like
their father, and always cited him as the example of a perfect gentleman,
and yet they buried him with one mind, and each mounted guard over his
sepulchre, to secure his ghost from an airing.

'He can walk, my dears, certainly, and talk--a little. Tete-a-tete, I do
not say. I should think there he would be--a stick! All you English are.
But what sort of a bow has he got, I ask you? How does he enter a room?
And, then his smile! his laugh! He laughs like a horse--absolutely!
There's no music in his smile. Oh! you should see a Portuguese nobleman
smile. O mio Deus! honeyed, my dears! But Evan has it not. None of you
English have. You go so.'

The Countess pressed a thumb and finger to the sides of her mouth, and
set her sisters laughing.

'I assure you, no better! not a bit! I faint in your society. I ask
myself--Where am I? Among what boors have I fallen? But Evan is no worse
than the rest of you; I acknowledge that. If he knew how to dress his
shoulders properly, and to direct his eyes--Oh! the eyes! you should see
how a Portuguese nobleman can use his eyes! Soul! my dears, soul! Can any
of you look the unutterable without being absurd! You look so.'

And the Countess hung her jaw under heavily vacuous orbits, something as
a sheep might yawn.

'But I acknowledge that Evan is no worse than the rest of you,' she
repeated. 'If he understood at all the management of his eyes and mouth!
But that's what he cannot possibly learn in England--not possibly! As for
your poor husband, Harriet! one really has to remember his excellent
qualities to forgive him, poor man! And that stiff bandbox of a man of
yours, Caroline!' addressing the wife of the Marine, 'he looks as if he
were all angles and sections, and were taken to pieces every night and
put together in the morning. He may be a good soldier--good anything you
will--but, Diacho! to be married to that! He is not civilized. None of
you English are. You have no place in the drawing-room. You are like so
many intrusive oxen--absolutely! One of your men trod on my toe the other
night, and what do you think the creature did? Jerks back, then the half
of him forward--I thought he was going to break in two--then grins, and
grunts, "Oh! 'm sure, beg pardon, 'm sure!" I don't know whether he
didn't say, MARM!'

The Countess lifted her hands, and fell away in laughing horror. When her
humour, or her feelings generally, were a little excited, she spoke her
vernacular as her sisters did, but immediately subsided into the
deliberate delicately-syllabled drawl.

'Now that happened to me once at one of our great Balls,' she pursued. 'I
had on one side of me the Duchesse Eugenia de Formosa de Fontandigua; on
the other sat the Countess de Pel, a widow. And we were talking of the
ices that evening. Eugenia, you must know, my dears, was in love with the
Count Belmarana. I was her sole confidante. The Countess de Pel--a
horrible creature! Oh! she was the Duchess's determined enemy-would have
stabbed her for Belmarana, one of the most beautiful men! Adored by every
woman! So we talked ices, Eugenic and myself, quite comfortably, and that
horrible De Pel had no idea in life! Eugenia had just said, "This ice
sickens me! I do not taste the flavour of the vanille." I answered, "It
is here! It must--it cannot but be here! You love the flavour of the
vanille?" With her exquisite smile, I see her now saying, "Too well! it
is necessary to me! I live on it!"--when up he came. In his eagerness,
his foot just effleured my robe. Oh! I never shall forget! In an instant
he was down on one knee it was so momentary that none saw it but we
three, and done with ineffable grace. "Pardon!" he said, in his sweet
Portuguese; "Pardon!" looking up--the handsomest man I ever beheld; and
when I think of that odious wretch the other night, with his "Oh! 'm
sure, beg pardon, 'm sure! 'pon my honour!" I could have kicked him--I
could, indeed!'

Here the Countess laughed out, but relapsed into:

'Alas! that Belmarana should have betrayed that beautiful trusting
creature to De Pel. Such scandal! a duel!--the Duke was wounded. For a
whole year Eugenia did not dare to appear at Court, but had to remain
immured in her country-house, where she heard that Belmarana had married
De Pel! It was for her money, of course. Rich as Croesus, and as wicked
as the black man below! as dear papa used to say. By the way, weren't we
talking of Evan? Ah,--yes!'

And so forth. The Countess was immensely admired, and though her sisters
said that she was 'foreignized' overmuch, they clung to her desperately.
She seemed so entirely to have eclipsed tailordom, or 'Demogorgon,' as
the Countess was pleased to call it. Who could suppose this
grand-mannered lady, with her coroneted anecdotes and delicious breeding,
the daughter of that thing? It was not possible to suppose it. It seemed
to defy the fact itself.

They congratulated her on her complete escape from Demogorgon. The
Countess smiled on them with a lovely sorrow.

'Safe from the whisper, my dears; the ceaseless dread? If you knew what I
have to endure! I sometimes envy you. 'Pon my honour, I sometimes wish I
had married a fishmonger! Silva, indeed, is a most excellent husband.
Polished! such polish as you know not of in England. He has a way--a
wriggle with his shoulders in company--I cannot describe it to you; so
slight! so elegant! and he is all that a woman could desire. But who
could be safe in any part of the earth, my dears, while papa will go
about so, and behave so extraordinarily? I was at dinner at your English
embassy a month ago, and there was Admiral Combleman, then on the station
off Lisbon, Sir Jackson Racial's friend, who was the Admiral at Lymport
formerly. I knew him at once, and thought, oh! what shall I do! My heart
was like a lump of lead. I would have given worlds that we might one of
us have smothered the other! I had to sit beside him--it always happens!
Thank heaven! he did not identify me. And then he told an anecdote of
Papa. It was the dreadful old "Bath" story. I thought I should have died.
I could not but fancy the Admiral suspected. Was it not natural? And what
do you think I had the audacity to do? I asked him coolly, whether the
Mr. Harrington he mentioned was not the son of Sir Abraham Harrington, of
Torquay,--the gentleman who lost his yacht in the Lisbon waters last
year? I brought it on myself. 'Gentleman, ma'am,--MA'AM!' says the horrid
old creature, laughing, 'gentleman! he's a ---- I cannot speak it: I choke!'
And then he began praising Papa. Diacho! what I suffered. But, you know,
I can keep my countenance, if I perish. I am a Harrington as much as any
of us!'

And the Countess looked superb in the pride with which she said she was
what she would have given her hand not to be. But few feelings are single
on this globe, and junction of sentiments need not imply unity in our
yeasty compositions.

'After it was over--my supplice,' continued the Countess, 'I was
questioned by all the ladies--I mean our ladies--not your English. They
wanted to know how I could be so civil to that intolerable man. I gained
a deal of credit, my dears. I laid it all on--Diplomacy.' The Countess
laughed bitterly. 'Diplomacy bears the burden of it all. I pretended that
Combleman could be useful to Silva! Oh! what hypocrites we all are, mio
Deus!'

The ladies listening could not gainsay this favourite claim of universal
brotherhood among the select who wear masks instead of faces.

With regard to Evan, the Countess had far outstripped her sisters in her
views. A gentleman she had discovered must have one of two things--a
title or money. He might have all the breeding in the world; he might be
as good as an angel; but without a title or money he was under eclipse
almost total. On a gentleman the sun must shine. Now, Evan had no title,
no money. The clouds were thick above the youth. To gain a title he would
have to scale aged mountains. There was one break in his firmament
through which the radiant luminary might be assisted to cast its beams on
him still young. That divine portal was matrimony. If he could but make a
rich marriage he would blaze transfigured; all would be well! And why
should not Evan marry an heiress, as well as another?

'I know a young creature who would exactly suit him,' said the Countess.
'She is related to the embassy, and is in Lisbon now. A charming
child--just sixteen! Dios! how the men rave about her! and she isn't a
beauty,--there's the wonder; and she is a little too gauche too English
in her habits and ways of thinking; likes to be admired, of course, but
doesn't know yet how to set about getting it. She rather scandalizes our
ladies, but when you know her!--She will have, they say, a hundred
'thousand pounds in her own right! Rose Jocelyn, the daughter of Sir
Franks, and that eccentric Lady Jocelyn. She is with her uncle, Melville,
the celebrated diplomate though, to tell you the truth, we turn him round
our fingers, and spin him as the boys used to do the cockchafers. I
cannot forget our old Fallow field school-life, you see, my dears. Well,
Rose Jocelyn would just suit Evan. She is just of an age to receive an
impression. And I would take care she did. Instance me a case where I
have failed?

'Or there is the Portuguese widow, the Rostral. She's thirty, certainly;
but she possesses millions! Estates all over the kingdom, and the
sweetest creature. But, no. Evan would be out of the way there,
certainly. But--our women are very nice: they have the dearest, sweetest
ways: but I would rather Evan did not marry one of them. And then there
's the religion!'

This was a sore of the Countess's own, and she dropped a tear in coming
across it.

'No, my dears, it shall be Rose Jocelyn!' she concluded: 'I will take
Evan over with me, and see that he has opportunities. It shall be Rose,
and then I can call her mine; for in verity I love the child.'

It is not my part to dispute the Countess's love for Miss Jocelyn; and I
have only to add that Evan, unaware of the soft training he was to
undergo, and the brilliant chance in store for him, offered no impediment
to the proposition that he should journey to Portugal with his sister
(whose subtlest flattery was to tell him that she should not be ashamed
to own him there); and ultimately, furnished with cash for the trip by
the remonstrating brewer, went.

So these Parcae, daughters of the shears, arranged and settled the young
man's fate. His task was to learn the management of his mouth, how to
dress his shoulders properly, and to direct his eyes--rare qualities in
man or woman, I assure you; the management of the mouth being especially
admirable, and correspondingly difficult. These achieved, he was to place
his battery in position, and win the heart and hand of an heiress.

Our comedy opens with his return from Portugal, in company with Miss
Rose, the heiress; the Honourable Melville Jocelyn, the diplomate; and
the Count and Countess de Saldar, refugees out of that explosive little
kingdom.



CHAPTER IV

ON BOARD THE JOCASTA

From the Tagus to the Thames the Government sloop-of-war, Jocasta, had
made a prosperous voyage, bearing that precious freight, a removed
diplomatist and his family; for whose uses let a sufficient vindication
be found in the exercise he affords our crews in the science of
seamanship. She entered our noble river somewhat early on a fine July
morning. Early as it was, two young people, who had nothing to do with
the trimming or guiding of the vessel, stood on deck, and watched the
double-shore, beginning to embrace them more and more closely as they
sailed onward. One, a young lady, very young in manner, wore a black felt
hat with a floating scarlet feather, and was clad about the shoulders in
a mantle of foreign style and pattern. The other you might have taken for
a wandering Don, were such an object ever known; so simply he assumed the
dusky sombrero and dangling cloak, of which one fold was flung across his
breast and drooped behind him. The line of an adolescent dark moustache
ran along his lip, and only at intervals could you see that his eyes were
blue and of the land he was nearing. For the youth was meditative, and
held his head much down. The young lady, on the contrary, permitted an
open inspection of her countenance, and seemed, for the moment at least,
to be neither caring nor thinking of what kind of judgement would be
passed on her. Her pretty nose was up, sniffing the still salt breeze
with vivacious delight.

'Oh!' she cried, clapping her hands, 'there goes a dear old English gull!
How I have wished to see him! I haven't seen one for two years and seven
months. When I 'm at home, I 'll leave my window open all night, just to
hear the rooks, when they wake in the morning. There goes another!'

She tossed up her nose again, exclaiming:

'I 'm sure I smell England nearer and nearer! I smell the fields, and the
cows in them. I'd have given anything to be a dairy-maid for half an
hour! I used to lie and pant in that stifling air among those stupid
people, and wonder why anybody ever left England. Aren't you glad to come
back?'

This time the fair speaker lent her eyes to the question, and shut her
lips; sweet, cold, chaste lips she had: a mouth that had not yet dreamed
of kisses, and most honest eyes.

The young man felt that they were not to be satisfied by his own, and
after seeking to fill them with a doleful look, which was immediately
succeeded by one of superhuman indifference, he answered:

'Yes! We shall soon have to part!' and commenced tapping with his foot
the cheerful martyr's march.

Speech that has to be hauled from the depths usually betrays the effort.
Listening an instant to catch the import of this cavernous gasp upon the
brink of sound, the girl said:

'Part? what do you mean?'

Apparently it required a yet vaster effort to pronounce an explanation.
The doleful look, the superhuman indifference, were repeated in due
order: sound, a little more distinct, uttered the words:

'We cannot be as we have been, in England!' and then the cheerful martyr
took a few steps farther.

'Why, you don't mean to say you're going to give me up, and not be
friends with me, because we've come back to England?' cried the girl in a
rapid breath, eyeing him seriously.

Most conscientiously he did not mean it! but he replied with the quietest
negative.

'No?' she mimicked him. 'Why do you say "No" like that? Why are you so
mysterious, Evan? Won't you promise me to come and stop with us for
weeks? Haven't you said we would ride, and hunt, and fish together, and
read books, and do all sorts of things?'

He replied with the quietest affirmative.

'Yes? What does "Yes!" mean?' She lifted her chest to shake out the
dead-alive monosyllable, as he had done. 'Why are you so singular this
morning, Evan? Have I offended you? You are so touchy!'

The slur on his reputation for sensitiveness induced the young man to
attempt being more explicit.

'I mean,' he said, hesitating; 'why, we must part. We shall not see each
other every day. Nothing more than that.' And away went the cheerful
martyr in sublimest mood.

'Oh! and that makes you, sorry?' A shade of archness was in her voice.

The girl waited as if to collect something in her mind, and was now a
patronizing woman.

'Why, you dear sentimental boy! You don't suppose we could see each other
every day for ever?'

It was perhaps the cruelest question that could have been addressed to
the sentimental boy from her mouth. But he was a cheerful martyr!

'You dear Don Doloroso!' she resumed. 'I declare if you are not just like
those young Portugals this morning; and over there you were such a dear
English fellow; and that's why I liked you so much! Do change! Do,
please, be lively, and yourself again. Or mind; I'll call you
Don Doloroso, and that shall be your name in England. See
there!--that's--that's? what's the name of that place? Hoy! Mr. Skerne!'
She hailed the boatswain, passing, 'Do tell me the name of that place.'

Mr. Skerne righted about to satisfy her minutely, and then coming up to
Evan, he touched his hat, and said:

'I mayn't have another opportunity--we shall be busy up there--of
thankin' you again, sir, for what you did for my poor drunken brother
Bill, and you may take my word I won't forget it, sir, if he does; and I
suppose he'll be drowning his memory just as he was near drowning
himself.'

Evan muttered something, grimaced civilly, and turned away. The girl's
observant brows were moved to a faintly critical frown, and nodding
intelligently to the boatswain's remark, that the young gentleman did not
seem quite himself, now that he was nearing home, she went up to Evan,
and said:

'I'm going to give you a lesson in manners, to be quits with you. Listen,
sir. Why did you turn away so ungraciously from Mr. Skerne, while he was
thanking you for having saved his brother's life? Now there's where
you're too English. Can't you bear to be thanked?'

'I don't want to be thanked because I can swim,' said Evan.

'But it is not that. Oh, how you trifle!' she cried. 'There's nothing
vexes me so much as that way you have. Wouldn't my eyes have sparkled if
anybody had come up to me to thank me for such a thing? I would let them
know how glad I was to have done such a thing! Doesn't it make them
happier, dear Evan?'

'My dear Miss Jocelyn!'

'What?'

The honest grey eyes fixed on him, narrowed their enlarged lids. She
gazed before her on the deck, saying:

'I'm sure I can't understand you. I suppose it's because I'm a girl, and
I never shall till I'm a woman. Heigho!'

A youth who is engaged in the occupation of eating his heart, cannot
shine to advantage, and is as much a burden to himself as he is an enigma
to others. Evan felt this; but he could do nothing and say nothing; so he
retired deeper into the folds of the Don, and remained picturesque and
scarcely pleasant.

They were relieved by a summons to breakfast from below.

She brightened and laughed. 'Now, what will you wager me, Evan, that the
Countess doesn't begin:

"Sweet child! how does she this morning? blooming?" when she kisses me?'

Her capital imitation of his sister's manner constrained him to join in
her laugh, and he said:

'I'll back against that, I get three fingers from your uncle, and
"Morrow, young sir!"'

Down they ran together, laughing; and, sure enough, the identical words
of the respective greetings were employed, which they had to enjoy with
all the discretion they could muster.

Rose went round the table to her little cousin Alec, aged seven, kissed
his reluctant cheek, and sat beside him, announcing a sea appetite and
great capabilities, while Evan silently broke bread. The Count de Saldar,
a diminutive tawny man, just a head and neck above the tablecloth, sat
sipping chocolate and fingering dry toast, which he would now and then
dip in jelly, and suck with placidity, in the intervals of a curt
exchange of French with the wife of the Hon. Melville, a ringleted
English lady, or of Portuguese with the Countess; who likewise sipped
chocolate and fingered dry toast, and was mournfully melodious. The Hon.
Melville, as became a tall islander, carved beef, and ate of it, like a
ruler of men. Beautiful to see was the compassionate sympathy of the
Countess's face when Rose offered her plate for a portion of the
world-subjugating viand, as who should say: 'Sweet child! thou knowest
not yet of sorrows, thou canst ballast thy stomach with beef!' In any
other than an heiress, she would probably have thought: 'This is indeed a
disgusting little animal, and most unfeminine conduct!'

Rose, unconscious of praise or blame, rivalled her uncle in enjoyment of
the fare, and talked of her delight in seeing England again, and anything
that belonged to her native land. Mrs. Melville perceived that it pained
the refugee Countess, and gave her the glance intelligible; but the
Countess never missed glances, or failed to interpret them. She said:

'Let her. I love to hear the sweet child's prattle.'

'It was fortunate' (she addressed the diplomatist) 'that we touched at
Southampton and procured fresh provision!'

'Very lucky for US!' said he, glaring shrewdly between a mouthful.

The Count heard the word 'Southampton,' and wished to know how it was
comprised. A passage of Portuguese ensued, and then the Countess said:

'Silva, you know, desired to relinquish the vessel at Southampton. He
does not comprehend the word "expense," but' (she shook a dumb Alas!) 'I
must think of that for him now!'

'Oh! always avoid expense,' said the Hon. Melville, accustomed to be paid
for by his country.

'At what time shall we arrive, may I ask, do you think?' the Countess
gently inquired.

The watch of a man who had his eye on Time was pulled out, and she was
told it might be two hours before dark. Another reckoning, keenly
balanced, informed the company that the day's papers could be expected on
board somewhere about three o'clock in the afternoon.

'And then,' said the Hon. Melville, nodding general gratulation, 'we
shall know how the world wags.'

How it had been wagging the Countess's straining eyes under closed
eyelids were eloquent of.

'Too late, I fear me, to wait upon Lord Livelyston to-night?' she
suggested.

'To-night?' The Hon. Melville gazed blank astonishment at the notion.
'Oh! certainly, too late tonight. A-hum! I think, madam, you had better
not be in too great a hurry to see him. Repose a little. Recover your
fatigue.'

'Oh!' exclaimed the Countess, with a beam of utter confidence in him, 'I
shall be too happy to place myself in your hands--believe me.'

This was scarcely more to the taste of the diplomatist. He put up his
mouth, and said, blandly:

'I fear--you know, madam, I must warn you beforehand--I, personally, am
but an insignificant unit over here, you know; I, personally, can't
guarantee much assistance to you--not positive. What I can do--of course,
very happy!' And he fell to again upon the beef.

'Not so very insignificant!' said the Countess, smiling, as at a softly
radiant conception of him.

'Have to bob and bow like the rest of them over here,' he added, proof
against the flattery.

'But that you will not forsake Silva, I am convinced,' said the Countess;
and, paying little heed to his brief 'Oh! what I can do,' continued: 'For
over here, in England, we are almost friendless. My relations--such as
are left of them--are not in high place.' She turned to Mrs. Melville,
and renewed the confession with a proud humility. 'Truly, I have not a
distant cousin in the Cabinet!'

Mrs. Melville met her sad smile, and returned it, as one who understood
its entire import.

'My brother-in-law-my sister, I think, you know--married a--a brewer! He
is rich; but, well! such was her taste! My brother-in-law is indeed in
Parliament, and he--'

'Very little use, seeing he votes with the opposite party,' the
diplomatist interrupted her.

'Ah! but he will not,' said the Countess, serenely. 'I can trust with
confidence that, if it is for Silva's interest, he will assuredly so
dispose of his influence as to suit the desiderations of his family, and
not in any way oppose his opinions to the powers that would willingly
stoop to serve us!'

It was impossible for the Hon. Melville to withhold a slight grimace at
his beef, when he heard this extremely alienized idea of the nature of a
member of the Parliament of Great Britain. He allowed her to enjoy her
delusion, as she pursued:

'No. So much we could offer in repayment. It is little! But this, in
verity, is a case. Silva's wrongs have only to be known in England, and I
am most assured that the English people will not permit it. In the days
of his prosperity, Silva was a friend to England, and England should
not--should not--forget it now. Had we money! But of that arm our enemies
have deprived us: and, I fear, without it we cannot hope to have the
justice of our cause pleaded in the English papers. Mr. Redner, you know,
the correspondent in Lisbon, is a sworn foe to Silva. And why but because
I would not procure him an invitation to Court! The man was so horridly
vulgar; his gloves were never clean; I had to hold a bouquet to my nose
when I talked to him. That, you say, was my fault! Truly so. But what
woman can be civil to a low-bred, pretentious, offensive man?'

Mrs. Melville, again appealed to, smiled perfect sympathy, and said, to
account for his character:

'Yes. He is the son of a small shopkeeper of some kind, in Southampton, I
hear.'

'A very good fellow in his way,' said her husband.

'Oh! I can't bear that class of people,' Rose exclaimed. 'I always keep
out of their way. You can always tell them.'

The Countess smiled considerate approbation of her exclusiveness and
discernment. So sweet a smile!

'You were on deck early, my dear?' she asked Evan, rather abruptly.

Master Alec answered for him: 'Yes, he was, and so was Rose. They made an
appointment, just as they used to do under the oranges.'

'Children!' the Countess smiled to Mrs. Melville.

'They always whisper when I'm by,' Alec appended.

'Children!' the Countess's sweetened visage entreated Mrs. Melville to
re-echo; but that lady thought it best for the moment to direct Rose to
look to her packing, now that she had done breakfast.

'And I will take a walk with my brother on deck,' said the Countess.
'Silva is too harassed for converse.'

The parties were thus divided. The silent Count was left to meditate on
his wrongs in the saloon; and the diplomatist, alone with his lady,
thought fit to say to her, shortly: 'Perhaps it would be as well to draw
away from these people a little. We 've done as much as we could for
them, in bringing them over here. They may be trying to compromise us.
That woman's absurd. She 's ashamed of the brewer, and yet she wants to
sell him--or wants us to buy him. Ha! I think she wants us to send a
couple of frigates, and threaten bombardment of the capital, if they
don't take her husband back, and receive him with honours.'

'Perhaps it would be as well,' said Mrs. Melville. 'Rose's invitation to
him goes for nothing.'

'Rose? inviting the Count? down to Hampshire?' The diplomatist's brows
were lifted.

'No, I mean the other,' said the diplomatist's wife.

'Oh! the young fellow! very good young fellow. Gentlemanly. No harm in
him.'

'Perhaps not,' said the diplomatist's wife.

'You don't suppose he expects us to keep him on, or provide for him over
here--eh?'

The diplomatist's wife informed him that such was not her thought, that
he did not understand, and that it did not matter; and as soon as the
Hon. Melville saw that she was brooding something essentially feminine,
and which had no relationship to the great game of public life, curiosity
was extinguished in him.

On deck the Countess paced with Evan, and was for a time pleasantly
diverted by the admiration she could, without looking, perceive that her
sorrow-subdued graces had aroused in the breast of a susceptible naval
lieutenant. At last she spoke:

'My dear! remember this. Your last word to Mr. Jocelyn will be: "I will
do myself the honour to call upon my benefactor early." To Rose you will
say: "Be assured, Miss Jocelyn 'Miss Jocelyn--' I shall not fail in
hastening to pay my respects to your family in Hampshire." You will
remember to do it, in the exact form I speak it.'

Evan laughed: 'What! call him benefactor to his face? I couldn't do it.'

'Ah! my child!'

'Besides, he isn't a benefactor at all. His private secretary died, and I
stepped in to fill the post, because nobody else was handy.'

'And tell me of her who pushed you forward, Evan?'

'My dear sister, I'm sure I'm not ungrateful.'

'No; but headstrong: opinionated. Now these people will endeavour--Oh! I
have seen it in a thousand little things--they wish to shake us off. Now,
if you will but do as I indicate! Put your faith in an older head, Evan.
It is your only chance of society in England. For your brother-in-law--I
ask you, what sort of people will you meet at the Cogglesbys? Now and
then a nobleman, very much out of his element. In short, you have fed
upon a diet which will make you to distinguish, and painfully to know the
difference! Indeed! Yes, you are looking about for Rose. It depends upon
your behaviour now, whether you are to see her at all in England. Do you
forget? You wished once to inform her of your origin. Think of her words
at the breakfast this morning!'

The Countess imagined she had produced an impression. Evan said: 'Yes,
and I should have liked to have told her this morning that I'm myself
nothing more than the son of a--'

'Stop! cried his sister, glancing about in horror. The admiring
lieutenant met her eye. Blandishingly she smiled on him: 'Most beautiful
weather for a welcome to dear England?' and passed with majesty.

'Boy!' she resumed, 'are you mad?'

'I hate being such a hypocrite, madam.'

'Then you do not love her, Evan?'

This may have been dubious logic, but it resulted from a clear sequence
of ideas in the lady's head. Evan did not contest it.

'And assuredly you will lose her, Evan. Think of my troubles! I have to
intrigue for Silva; I look to your future; I smile, Oh heaven! how do I
not smile when things are spoken that pierce my heart! This morning at
the breakfast!'

Evan took her hand, and patted it.

'What is your pity?' she sighed.

'If it had not been for you, my dear sister, I should never have held my
tongue.'

'You are not a Harrington! You are a Dawley!' she exclaimed, indignantly.

Evan received the accusation of possessing more of his mother's spirit
than his father's in silence.

'You would not have held your tongue,' she said, with fervid severity:
'and you would have betrayed yourself! and you would have said you were
that! and you in that costume! Why, goodness gracious! could you bear to
appear so ridiculous?'

The poor young man involuntarily surveyed his person. The pains of an
impostor seized him. The deplorable image of the Don making confession
became present to his mind. It was a clever stroke of this female
intriguer. She saw him redden grievously, and blink his eyes; and not
wishing to probe him so that he would feel intolerable disgust at his
imprisonment in the Don, she continued:

'But you have the sense to see your duties, Evan. You have an excellent
sense, in the main. No one would dream--to see you. You did not, I must
say, you did not make enough of your gallantry. A Portuguese who had
saved a man's life, Evan, would he have been so boorish? You behaved as
if it was a matter of course that you should go overboard after anybody,
in your clothes, on a dark night. So, then, the Jocelyns took it. I
barely heard one compliment to you. And Rose--what an effect it should
have had on her! But, owing to your manner, I do believe the girl thinks
it nothing but your ordinary business to go overboard after anybody, in
your clothes, on a dark night. 'Pon my honour, I believe she expects to
see you always dripping!' The Countess uttered a burst of hysterical
humour. 'So you miss your credit. That inebriated sailor should really
have been gold to you. Be not so young and thoughtless.'

The Countess then proceeded to tell him how foolishly he had let slip his
great opportunity. A Portuguese would have fixed the young lady long
before. By tender moonlight, in captivating language, beneath the
umbrageous orange-groves, a Portuguese would have accurately calculated
the effect of the perfume of the blossom on her sensitive nostrils, and
know the exact moment when to kneel, and declare his passion sonorously.

'Yes,' said Evan, 'one of them did. She told me.'

'She told you? And you--what did you do?'

'Laughed at him with her, to be sure.'

'Laughed at him! She told you, and you helped her to laugh at love! Have
you no perceptions? Why did she tell you?'

'Because she thought him such a fool, I suppose.'

'You never will know a woman,' said the Countess, with contempt.

Much of his worldly sister at a time was more than Evan could bear.
Accustomed to the symptoms of restiveness, she finished her discourse,
enjoyed a quiet parade up and down under the gaze of the lieutenant, and
could find leisure to note whether she at all struck the inferior seamen,
even while her mind was absorbed by the multiform troubles and anxieties
for which she took such innocent indemnification.

The appearance of the Hon. Melville Jocelyn on deck, and without his
wife, recalled her to business. It is a peculiarity of female
diplomatists that they fear none save their own sex. Men they regard as
their natural prey: in women they see rival hunters using their own
weapons. The Countess smiled a slowly-kindling smile up to him, set her
brother adrift, and delicately linked herself to Evan's benefactor.

'I have been thinking,' she said, 'knowing your kind and most considerate
attentions, that we may compromise you in England.'

He at once assured her he hoped not, he thought not at all.

'The idea is due to my brother,' she went on; 'for I--women know so
little!--and most guiltlessly should we have done so. My brother perhaps
does not think of us foremost; but his argument I can distinguish. I can
see, that were you openly to plead Silva's cause, you might bring
yourself into odium, Mr. Jocelyn; and heaven knows I would not that! May
I then ask, that in England we may be simply upon the same footing of
private friendship?'

The diplomatist looked into her uplifted visage, that had all the sugary
sparkles of a crystallized preserved fruit of the Portugal clime, and
observed, confidentially, that, with every willingness in the world to
serve her, he did think it would possibly be better, for a time, to be
upon that footing, apart from political considerations.

'I was very sure my brother would apprehend your views,' said the
Countess. 'He, poor boy! his career is closed. He must sink into a
different sphere. He will greatly miss the intercourse with you and your
sweet family.'

Further relieved, the diplomatist delivered a high opinion of the young
gentleman, his abilities, and his conduct, and trusted he should see him
frequently.

By an apparent sacrifice, the lady thus obtained what she wanted.

Near the hour speculated on by the diplomatist, the papers came on board,
and he, unaware how he had been manoeuvred for lack of a wife at his
elbow, was quickly engaged in appeasing the great British hunger for
news; second only to that for beef, it seems, and equally acceptable
salted when it cannot be had fresh.

Leaving the devotee of statecraft with his legs crossed, and his face
wearing the cognizant air of one whose head is above the waters of
events, to enjoy the mighty meal of fresh and salted at discretion, the
Countess dived below.

Meantime the Jocasta, as smoothly as before she was ignorant of how the
world wagged, slipped up the river with the tide; and the sun hung red
behind the forest of masts, burnishing a broad length of the serpentine
haven of the nations of the earth. A young Englishman returning home can
hardly look on this scene without some pride of kinship. Evan stood at
the fore part of the vessel. Rose, in quiet English attire, had escaped
from her aunt to join him, singing in his ears, to spur his senses:
'Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it beautiful? Dear old England!'

'What do you find so beautiful?' he asked.

'Oh, you dull fellow! Why the ships, and the houses, and the smoke, to be
sure.'

'The ships? Why, I thought you despised trade, mademoiselle?'

'And so I do. That is, not trade, but tradesmen. Of course, I mean
shopkeepers.'

'It's they who send the ships to and fro, and make the picture that
pleases you, nevertheless.'

'Do they?' said she, indifferently, and then with a sort of fervour, 'Why
do you always grow so cold to me whenever we get on this subject?'

'I cold?' Evan responded. The incessant fears of his diplomatic sister
had succeeded in making him painfully jealous of this subject. He turned
it off. 'Why, our feelings are just the same. Do you know what I was
thinking when you came up? I was thinking that I hoped I might never
disgrace the name of an Englishman.'

'Now, that's noble!' cried the girl. 'And I'm sure you never will. Of an
English gentleman, Evan. I like that better.'

'Would your rather be called a true English lady than a true English
woman, Rose?'

'Don't think I would, my dear,' she answered, pertly; 'but "gentleman"
always means more than "man" to me.'

'And what's a gentleman, mademoiselle?'

'Can't tell you, Don Doloroso. Something you are, sir,' she added,
surveying him.

Evan sucked the bitter and the sweet of her explanation. His sister in
her anxiety to put him on his guard, had not beguiled him to forget his
real state.

His sister, the diplomatist and his lady, the refugee Count, with ladies'
maids, servants, and luggage, were now on the main-deck, and Master Alec,
who was as good as a newspaper correspondent for private conversations,
put an end to the colloquy of the young people. They were all assembled
in a circle when the vessel came to her moorings. The diplomatist glutted
with news, and thirsting for confirmations; the Count dumb, courteous,
and quick-eyed; the honourable lady complacent in the consciousness of
boxes well packed; the Countess breathing mellifluous long-drawn adieux
that should provoke invitations. Evan and Rose regarded each other.

The boat to convey them on shore was being lowered, and they were
preparing to move forward. Just then the vessel was boarded by a
stranger.

'Is that one of the creatures of your Customs? I did imagine we were safe
from them,' exclaimed the Countess.

The diplomatist laughingly requested her to save herself anxiety on that
score, while under his wing. But she had drawn attention to the intruder,
who was seen addressing one of the midshipmen. He was a man in a long
brown coat and loose white neckcloth, spectacles on nose, which he wore
considerably below the bridge and peered over, as if their main use were
to sight his eye; a beaver hat, with broadish brim, on his head. A man of
no station, it was evident to the ladies at once, and they would have
taken no further notice of him had he not been seen stepping toward them
in the rear of the young midshipman.

The latter came to Evan, and said: 'A fellow of the name of Goren wants
you. Says there's something the matter at home.'

Evan advanced, and bowed stiffly.

Mr. Goren held out his hand. 'You don't remember me, young man? I cut out
your first suit for you when you were breeched, though! Yes-ah! Your poor
father wouldn't put his hand to it. Goren!'

Embarrassed, and not quite alive to the chapter of facts this name should
have opened to him, Evan bowed again.

'Goren!' continued the possessor of the name. He had a cracked voice,
that when he spoke a word of two syllables, commenced with a lugubrious
crow, and ended in what one might have taken for a curious question.

'It is a bad business brings me, young man. I 'm not the best messenger
for such tidings. It's a black suit, young man! It's your father!'

The diplomatist and his lady gradually edged back but Rose remained
beside the Countess, who breathed quick, and seemed to have lost her
self-command.

Thinking he was apprehended, Mr. Goren said: 'I 'm going down to-night to
take care of the shop. He 's to be buried in his old uniform. You had
better come with me by the night-coach, if you would see the last of him,
young man.'

Breaking an odd pause that had fallen, the Countess cried aloud,
suddenly:

'In his uniform!'

Mr. Goren felt his arm seized and his legs hurrying him some paces into
isolation. 'Thanks! thanks!' was murmured in his ear. 'Not a word more.
Evan cannot bear it. Oh! you are good to have come, and we are grateful.
My father! my father!'

She had to tighten her hand and wrist against her bosom to keep herself
up. She had to reckon in a glance how much Rose had heard, or divined.
She had to mark whether the Count had understood a syllable. She had to
whisper to Evan to hasten away with the horrible man.

She had to enliven his stunned senses, and calm her own. And with
mournful images of her father in her brain, the female Spartan had to
turn to Rose, and speculate on the girl's reflective brows, while she
said, as over a distant relative, sadly, but without distraction: 'A
death in the family!' and preserved herself from weeping her heart out,
that none might guess the thing who did not positively know it. Evan
touched the hand of Rose without meeting her eyes. He was soon cast off
in Mr. Goren's boat. Then the Countess murmured final adieux; twilight
under her lids, but yet a smile, stately, affectionate, almost genial.
Rose, her sweet Rose, she must kiss. She could have slapped Rose for
appearing so reserved and cold. She hugged Rose, as to hug oblivion of
the last few minutes into her. The girl leant her cheek, and bore the
embrace, looking on her with a kind of wonder.

Only when alone with the Count, in the brewer's carriage awaiting her on
shore, did the lady give a natural course to her grief; well knowing that
her Silva would attribute it to the darkness of their common exile. She
wept: but in the excess of her misery, two words of strangely opposite
signification, pronounced by Mr. Goren; two words that were at once
poison and antidote, sang in her brain; two words that painted her dead
father from head to foot, his nature and his fortune: these were the
Shop, and the Uniform.

Oh! what would she not have given to have-seen and bestowed on her
beloved father one last kiss! Oh! how she hoped that her inspired echo of
Uniform, on board the Jocasta, had drowned the memory, eclipsed the
meaning, of that fatal utterance of Shop!



CHAPTER V

THE FAMILY AND THE FUNERAL

It was the evening of the second day since the arrival of the black
letter in London from Lymport, and the wife of the brewer and the wife of
the Major sat dropping tears into one another's laps, in expectation of
their sister the Countess. Mr. Andrew Cogglesby had not yet returned from
his office. The gallant Major had gone forth to dine with General Sir
George Frebuter, the head of the Marines of his time. It would have been
difficult for the Major, he informed his wife, to send in an excuse to
the General for non-attendance, without entering into particulars; and
that he should tell the General he could not dine with him, because of
the sudden decease of a tailor, was, as he let his wife understand, and
requested her to perceive, quite out of the question. So he dressed
himself carefully, and though peremptory with his wife concerning his
linen, and requiring natural services from her in the button department,
and a casual expression of contentment as to his ultimate make-up, he
left her that day without any final injunctions to occupy her mind, and
she was at liberty to weep if she pleased, a privilege she did not enjoy
undisturbed when he was present; for the warrior hated that weakness, and
did not care to hide his contempt for it.

Of the three sisters, the wife of the Major was, oddly enough, the one
who was least inveterately solicitous of concealing the fact of her
parentage. Reticence, of course, she had to study with the rest; the
Major was a walking book of reticence and the observances; he professed,
also, in company with herself alone, to have had much trouble in drilling
her to mark and properly preserve them. She had no desire to speak of her
birthplace. But, for some reason or other, she did not share her hero's
rather petulant anxiety to keep the curtain nailed down on that part of
her life which preceded her entry into the ranks of the Royal Marines.
Some might have thought that those fair large blue eyes of hers wandered
now and then in pleasant unambitious walks behind the curtain, and toyed
with little flowers of palest memory. Utterly tasteless, totally wanting
in discernment, not to say gratitude, the Major could not presume her to
be; and yet his wits perceived that her answers and the conduct she
shaped in accordance with his repeated protests and long-reaching
apprehensions of what he called danger, betrayed acquiescent obedience
more than the connubial sympathy due to him. Danger on the field the
Major knew not of; he did not scruple to name the word in relation to his
wife. For, as he told her, should he, some day, as in the chapter of
accidents might occur, sally into the street a Knight Companion of the
Bath and become known to men as Sir Maxwell Strike, it would be decidedly
disagreeable for him to be blown upon by a wind from Lymport. Moreover
she was the mother of a son. The Major pointed out to her the duty she
owed her offspring. Certainly the protecting aegis of his rank and title
would be over the lad, but she might depend upon it any indiscretion of
hers would damage him in his future career, the Major assured her. Young
Maxwell must be considered.

For all this, the mother and wife, when the black letter found them in
the morning at breakfast, had burst into a fit of grief, and faltered
that she wept for a father. Mrs. Andrew, to whom the letter was
addressed, had simply held the letter to her in a trembling hand. The
Major compared their behaviour, with marked encomiums of Mrs. Andrew. Now
this lady and her husband were in obverse relative positions. The brewer
had no will but his Harriet's. His esteem for her combined the
constitutional feelings of an insignificantly-built little man for a
majestic woman, and those of a worthy soul for the wife of his bosom.
Possessing, or possessed by her, the good brewer was perfectly happy.
She, it might be thought, under these circumstances, would not have
minded much his hearing what he might hear. It happened, however, that
she was as jealous of the winds of Lymport as the Major himself; as
vigilant in debarring them from access to the brewery as now the Countess
could have been. We are not dissecting human nature suffice it,
therefore, from a mere glance at the surface, to say, that just as
moneyed men are careful of their coin, women who have all the advantages
in a conjunction, are miserly in keeping them, and shudder to think that
one thing remains hidden, which the world they move in might put down
pityingly in favour of their spouse, even though to the little man 'twere
naught. She assumed that a revelation would diminish her moral stature;
and certainly it would not increase that of her husband. So no good could
come of it. Besides, Andrew knew, his whole conduct was a tacit
admission, that she had condescended in giving him her hand. The features
of their union might not be changed altogether by a revelation, but it
would be a shock to her.

Consequently, Harriet tenderly rebuked Caroline, for her outcry at the
breakfast-table; and Caroline, the elder sister, who had not since
marriage grown in so free an air, excused herself humbly, and the two
were weeping when the Countess joined them and related what she had just
undergone.

Hearing of Caroline's misdemeanour, however, Louisa's eyes rolled aloft
in a paroxysm of tribulation. It was nothing to Caroline; it was
comparatively nothing to Harriet; but the Count knew not Louisa had a
father: believed that her parents had long ago been wiped out. And the
Count was by nature inquisitive: and if he once cherished a suspicion he
was restless; he was pointed in his inquiries: he was pertinacious in
following out a clue: there never would be peace with him! And then, as
they were secure in their privacy, Louisa cried aloud for her father, her
beloved father! Harriet wept silently. Caroline alone expressed regret
that she had not set eyes on him from the day she became a wife.

'How could we, dear?' the Countess pathetically asked, under drowning
lids.

'Papa did not wish it,' sobbed Mrs. Andrew.

'I never shall forgive myself!' said the wife of the Major, drying her
cheeks. Perhaps it was not herself whom she felt she never could forgive.

Ah! the man their father was! Incomparable Melchisedec! he might well be
called. So generous! so lordly! When the rain of tears would subside for
a moment, one would relate an anecdote or childish reminiscence of him,
and provoke a more violent outburst.

'Never, among the nobles of any land, never have I seen one like him!'
exclaimed the Countess, and immediately requested Harriet to tell her how
it would be possible to stop Andrew's tongue in Silva's presence.

'At present, you know, my dear, they may talk as much as they like--they
can't understand one another one bit.'

Mrs. Cogglesby comforted her by the assurance that Andrew had received an
intimation of her wish for silence everywhere and toward everybody; and
that he might be reckoned upon to respect it, without demanding a reason
for the restriction. In other days Caroline and Louisa had a little
looked down on Harriet's alliance with a dumpy man--a brewer--and had
always kind Christian compassion for him if his name were mentioned. They
seemed now, by their silence, to have a happier estimate of Andrew's
qualities.

While the three sisters sat mingling their sorrows and alarms, their
young brother was making his way to the house. As he knocked at the door
he heard his name pronounced behind him, and had no difficulty in
recognizing the worthy brewer.

'What, Van, my boy! how are you? Quite a foreigner! By George, what a
hat!'

Mr. Andrew bounced back two or three steps to regard the dusky sombrero.

'How do you do, sir?' said Evan.

'Sir to you!' Mr. Andrew briskly replied. 'Don't they teach you to give
your fist in Portugal, eh? I'll "sir" you. Wait till I'm Sir Andrew, and
then "sir" away. You do speak English still, Van, eh? Quite jolly, my
boy?'

Mr. Andrew rubbed his hands to express that state in himself. Suddenly he
stopped, blinked queerly at Evan, grew pensive, and said, 'Bless my soul!
I forgot.'

The door opened, Mr. Andrew took Evan's arm, murmured a 'hush!' and trod
gently along the passage to his library.

'We're safe here,' he said. 'There--there's something the matter
up-stairs. The women are upset about something. Harriet--' Mr. Andrew
hesitated, and branched off: 'You 've heard we 've got a new baby?'

Evan congratulated him; but another inquiry was in Mr. Andrew's aspect,
and Evan's calm, sad manner answered it.

'Yes,'--Mr. Andrew shook his head dolefully--'a splendid little chap! a
rare little chap! a we can't help these things, Van! They will happen.
Sit down, my boy.'

Mr. Andrew again interrogated Evan with his eyes.

'My father is dead,' said Evan.

'Yes!' Mr. Andrew nodded, and glanced quickly at the ceiling, as if to
make sure that none listened overhead. 'My parliamentary duties will soon
be over for the season,' he added, aloud; pursuing, in an under-breath:

'Going down to-night, Van?'

'He is to be buried to-morrow,' said Evan.

'Then, of course, you go. Yes: quite right. Love your father and mother!
always love your father and mother! Old Tom and I never knew ours. Tom's
quite well-same as ever. I'll,' he rang the bell, 'have my chop in here
with you. You must try and eat a bit, Van. Here we are, and there we go.
Old Tom's wandering for one of his weeks. You'll see him some day. He
ain't like me. No dinner to-day, I suppose, Charles?'

This was addressed to the footman. He announced:

'Dinner to-day at half-past six, as usual, sir,' bowed, and retired.

Mr. Andrew pored on the floor, and rubbed his hair back on his head. 'An
odd world!' was his remark.

Evan lifted up his face to sigh: 'I 'm almost sick of it!'

'Damn appearances!' cried Mr. Andrew, jumping on his legs.

The action cooled him.

'I 'm sorry I swore,' he said. 'Bad habit! The Major's here--you know
that?' and he assumed the Major's voice, and strutted in imitation of the
stalwart marine. 'Major--a--Strike! of the Royal Marines! returned from
China! covered with glory!--a hero, Van! We can't expect him to be much
of a mourner. And we shan't have him to dine with us to-day--that's
something.' He sank his voice: 'I hope the widow 'll bear it.'

'I hope to God my mother is well!' Evan groaned.

'That'll do,' said Mr. Andrew. 'Don't say any more.'

As he spoke, he clapped Evan kindly on the back.

A message was brought from the ladies, requiring Evan to wait on them. He
returned after some minutes.

'How do you think Harriet's looking?' asked Mr. Andrew. And, not waiting
for an answer, whispered,

'Are they going down to the funeral, my boy?'

Evan's brow was dark, as he replied: 'They are not decided.'

'Won't Harriet go?'

'She is not going--she thinks not.'

'And the Countess--Louisa's upstairs, eh?--will she go?'

'She cannot leave the Count--she thinks not.'

'Won't Caroline go? Caroline can go. She--he--I mean--Caroline can go?'

'The Major objects. She wishes to.'

Mr. Andrew struck out his arm, and uttered, 'the Major!'--a compromise
for a loud anathema. But the compromise was vain, for he sinned again in
an explosion against appearances.

'I'm a brewer, Van. Do you think I'm ashamed of it? Not while I brew good
beer, my boy!--not while I brew good beer! They don't think worse of me
in the House for it. It isn't ungentlemanly to brew good beer, Van. But
what's the use of talking?'

Mr. Andrew sat down, and murmured, 'Poor girl! poor girl!'

The allusion was to his wife; for presently he said: 'I can't see why
Harriet can't go. What's to prevent her?'

Evan gazed at him steadily. Death's levelling influence was in Evan's
mind. He was ready to say why, and fully.

Mr. Andrew arrested him with a sharp 'Never mind! Harriet does as she
likes. I'm accustomed to--hem! what she does is best, after all. She
doesn't interfere with my business, nor I with hers. Man and wife.'

Pausing a moment or so, Mr. Andrew intimated that they had better be
dressing for dinner. With his hand on the door, which he kept closed, he
said, in a businesslike way, 'You know, Van, as for me, I should be very
willing--only too happy--to go down and pay all the respect I could.' He
became confused, and shot his head from side to side, looking anywhere
but at Evan. 'Happy now and to-morrow, to do anything in my power, if
Harriet--follow the funeral--one of the family--anything I could do:
but--a--we 'd better be dressing for dinner.' And out the enigmatic
little man went.

Evan partly divined him then. But at dinner his behaviour was perplexing.
He was too cheerful. He pledged the Count. He would have the Portuguese
for this and that, and make Anglican efforts to repeat it, and laugh at
his failures. He would not see that there was a father dead. At a table
of actors, Mr. Andrew overdid his part, and was the worst. His wife could
not help thinking him a heartless little man.

The poor show had its term. The ladies fled to the boudoir sacred to
grief. Evan was whispered that he was to join them when he might, without
seeming mysterious to the Count. Before he reached them, they had talked
tearfully over the clothes he should wear at Lymport, agreeing that his
present foreign apparel, being black, would be suitable, and would serve
almost as disguise, to the inhabitants at large; and as Evan had no
English wear, and there was no time to procure any for him, that was
well. They arranged exactly how long he should stay at Lymport, whom he
should visit, the manner he should adopt toward the different
inhabitants. By all means he was to avoid the approach of the gentry. For
hours Evan, in a trance, half stupefied, had to listen to the Countess's
directions how he was to comport himself in Lymport.

'Show that you have descended among them, dear Van, but are not of them.
Our beautiful noble English poet expresses it so. You have come to pay
the last mortal duties, which they will respect, if they are not brutes,
and attempt no familiarities. Allow none: gently, but firmly. Imitate
Silva. You remember, at Dona Risbonda's ball? When he met the Comte de
Dartigues, and knew he was to be in disgrace with his Court on the
morrow? Oh! the exquisite shade of difference in Silva's behaviour
towards the Comte. So finely, delicately perceptible to the Comte, and
not a soul saw it but that wretched Frenchman! He came to me: "Madame,"
he said, "is a question permitted?" I replied, "As-many as you please, M.
le Comte, but no answers promised." He said: "May I ask if the Courier
has yet come in?"--"Nay, M. le Comte," I replied, "this is diplomacy.
Inquire of me, or better, give me an opinion on the new glace silk from
Paris."--"Madame," said he, bowing, "I hope Paris may send me aught so
good, or that I shall grace half so well." I smiled, "You shall not be
single in your hopes, M. le Comte. The gift would be base that you did
not embellish." He lifted his hands, French-fashion: "Madame, it is that
I have received the gift."--"Indeed! M. le Comte."--"Even now from the
Count de Saldar, your husband." I looked most innocently, "From my
husband, M. le Comte?"--"From him, Madame. A portrait. An Ambassador
without his coat! The portrait was a finished performance." I said: "And
may one beg the permission to inspect it?"--"Mais," said he, laughing:
"were it you alone, it would be a privilege to me." I had to check him.
"Believe me, M. le Comte, that when I look upon it, my praise of the
artist will be extinguished by my pity for the subject." He should have
stopped there; but you cannot have the last word with a Frenchman--not
even a woman. Fortunately the Queen just then made her entry into the
saloon, and his mot on the charity of our sex was lost. We bowed
mutually, and were separated.' (The Countess employed her handkerchief.)
'Yes, dear Van! that is how you should behave. Imply things. With dearest
Mama, of course, you are the dutiful son. Alas! you must stand for son
and daughters. Mama has so much sense! She will understand how sadly we
are placed. But in a week I will come to her for a day, and bring you
back.'

So much his sister Louisa. His sister Harriet offered him her house for a
home in London, thence to project his new career. His sister Caroline
sought a word with him in private, but only to weep bitterly in his arms,
and utter a faint moan of regret at marriages in general. He loved this
beautiful creature the best of his three sisters (partly, it may be,
because he despised her superior officer), and tried with a few smothered
words to induce her to accompany him: but she only shook her fair locks
and moaned afresh. Mr. Andrew, in the farewell squeeze of the hand at the
street-door, asked him if he wanted anything. He negatived the
requirement of anything whatever, with an air of careless decision,
though he was aware that his purse barely contained more than would take
him the distance, but the instincts of this amateur gentleman were very
fine and sensitive on questions of money. His family had never known him
beg for a shilling, or admit his necessity for a penny: nor could he be
made to accept money unless it was thrust into his pocket. Somehow his
sisters had forgotten this peculiarity of his. Harriet only remembered it
when too late.

'But I dare say Andrew has supplied him,' she said.

Andrew being interrogated, informed her what had passed between them.

'And you think a Harrington would confess he wanted money!' was her
scornful exclamation. 'Evan would walk--he would die rather. It was
treating him like a mendicant.'

Andrew had to shrink in his brewer's skin.

By some fatality all who were doomed to sit and listen to the Countess de
Saldar, were sure to be behindhand in an appointment.

When the young man arrived at the coach-office, he was politely informed
that the vehicle, in which a seat had been secured for him, was in close
alliance with time and tide, and being under the same rigid laws, could
not possibly have waited for him, albeit it had stretched a point to the
extent of a pair of minutes, at the urgent solicitation of a passenger.

'A gentleman who speaks so, sir,' said a volunteer mimic of the office,
crowing and questioning from his throat in Goren's manner. 'Yok! yok!
That was how he spoke, sir.'

Evan reddened, for it brought the scene on board the Jocasta vividly to
his mind. The heavier business obliterated it. He took counsel with the
clerks of the office, and eventually the volunteer mimic conducted him to
certain livery stables, where Evan, like one accustomed to command,
ordered a chariot to pursue the coach, received a touch of the hat for a
lordly fee, and was soon rolling out of London.



CHAPTER VI

MY GENTLEMAN ON THE ROAD

The postillion had every reason to believe that he carried a real
gentleman behind him; in other words, a purse long and liberal. He judged
by all the points he knew of: a firm voice, a brief commanding style, an
apparent indifference to expense, and the inexplicable minor
characteristics, such as polished boots, and a striking wristband, and so
forth, which will show a creature accustomed to step over the heads of
men. He had, therefore, no particular anxiety to part company, and jogged
easily on the white highway, beneath a moon that walked high and small
over marble clouds.

Evan reclined in the chariot, revolving his sensations. In another mood
he would have called, them thoughts, perhaps, and marvelled at their
immensity. The theme was Love and Death. One might have supposed, from
his occasional mutterings at the pace regulated by the postillion, that
he was burning with anxiety to catch the flying coach. He had forgotten
it: forgotten that he was giving chase to anything. A pair of wondering
feminine eyes pursued him, and made him fret for the miles to throw a
thicker veil between him and them. The serious level brows of Rose
haunted the poor youth; and reflecting whither he was tending, and to
what sight, he had shadowy touches of the holiness there is in death,
from which came a conflict between the imaged phantoms of his father and
of Rose, and he sided against his love with some bitterness. His sisters,
weeping for their father and holding aloof from his ashes, Evan swept
from his mind. He called up the man his father was: the kindliness, the
readiness, the gallant gaiety of the great Mel. Youths are fascinated by
the barbarian virtues; and to Evan, under present influences, his father
was a pattern of manhood. He asked himself: Was it infamous to earn one's
bread? and answered it very strongly in his father's favour. The great
Mel's creditors were not by to show him another feature of the case.

Hitherto, in passive obedience to the indoctrination of the Countess,
Evan had looked on tailors as the proscribed race of modern society. He
had pitied his father as a man superior to his fate; but despite the
fitfully honest promptings with Rose (tempting to him because of the
wondrous chivalry they argued, and at bottom false probably as the
hypocrisy they affected to combat), he had been by no means sorry that
the world saw not the spot on himself. Other sensations beset him now.
Since such a man was banned by the world, which was to be despised?

The clear result of Evan's solitary musing was to cast a sort of halo
over Tailordom. Death stood over the pale dead man, his father, and dared
the world to sneer at him. By a singular caprice of fancy, Evan had no
sooner grasped this image, than it was suggested that he might as well
inspect his purse, and see how much money he was master of.

Are you impatient with this young man? He has little character for the
moment. Most youths are like Pope's women; they have no character at all.
And indeed a character that does not wait for circumstances to shape it,
is of small worth in the race that must be run. To be set too early, is
to take the work out of the hands of the Sculptor who fashions men.
Happily a youth is always at school, and if he was shut up and without
mark two or three hours ago, he will have something to show you now: as I
have seen blooming seaflowers and other graduated organisms, when left
undisturbed to their own action. Where the Fates have designed that he
shall present his figure in a story, this is sure to happen.

To the postillion Evan was indebted for one of his first lessons.

About an hour after midnight pastoral stillness and the moon begat in the
postillion desire for a pipe. Daylight prohibits the dream of it to
mounted postillions. At night the question is more human, and allows
appeal. The moon smiles assentingly, and smokers know that she really
lends herself to the enjoyment of tobacco.

The postillion could remember gentlemen who did not object: who had even
given him cigars. Turning round to see if haply the present inmate of the
chariot might be smoking, he observed a head extended from the window.

'How far are we?' was inquired.

The postillion numbered the milestones passed.

'Do you see anything of the coach?'

'Can't say as I do, sir.'

He was commanded to stop. Evan jumped out.

'I don't think I'll take you any farther,' he said.

The postillion laughed to scorn the notion of his caring how far he went.
With a pipe in his mouth, he insinuatingly remarked, he could jog on all
night, and throw sleep to the dogs. Fresh horses at Hillford; fresh at
Fallow field: and the gentleman himself would reach Lymport fresh in the
morning.

'No, no; I won't take you any farther,' Evan repeated.

'But what do it matter, sir?' urged the postillion.

'I'd rather go on as I am. I--a--made no arrangement to take you the
whole way.'

'Oh!' cried the postillion, 'don't you go troublin' yourself about that,
sir. Master knows it 's touch-and-go about catchin' the coach. I'm all
right.'

So infatuated was the fellow in the belief that he was dealing with a
perfect gentleman--an easy pocket!

Now you would not suppose that one who presumes he has sufficient, would
find a difficulty in asking how much he has to pay. With an effort,
indifferently masked, Evan blurted:

'By the way, tell me--how much--what is the charge for the distance we've
come?'

There are gentlemen-screws: there are conscientious gentlemen. They
calculate, and remonstrating or not, they pay. The postillion would
rather have had to do with the gentleman royal, who is above base
computation; but he knew the humanity in the class he served, and with
his conception of Evan only partially dimmed, he remarked:

'Oh-h-h! that won't hurt you, sir. Jump along in,--settle that
by-and-by.'

But when my gentleman stood fast, and renewed the demand to know the
exact charge for the distance already traversed, the postillion
dismounted, glanced him over, and speculated with his fingers tipping up
his hat. Meantime Evan drew out his purse, a long one, certainly, but
limp. Out of this drowned-looking wretch the last spark of life was taken
by the sum the postillion ventured to name; and if paying your utmost
farthing without examination of the charge, and cheerfully stepping out
to walk fifty miles, penniless, constituted a postillion's gentleman,
Evan would have passed the test. The sight of poverty, however, provokes
familiar feelings in poor men, if you have not had occasion to show them
you possess particular qualities. The postillion's eye was more on the
purse than on the sum it surrendered.

'There,' said Evan, 'I shall walk. Good night.' And he flung his cloak to
step forward.

'Stop a bit, sir!' arrested him.

The postillion rallied up sideways, with an assumption of genial respect.
'I didn't calc'late myself in that there amount.'

Were these words, think you, of a character to strike a young man hard on
the breast, send the blood to his head, and set up in his heart a
derisive chorus? My gentleman could pay his money, and keep his footing
gallantly; but to be asked for a penny beyond what he possessed; to be
seen beggared, and to be claimed a debtor-aleck! Pride was the one
developed faculty of Evan's nature. The Fates who mould us, always work
from the main-spring. I will not say that the postillion stripped off the
mask for him, at that instant completely; but he gave him the first true
glimpse of his condition. From the vague sense of being an impostor, Evan
awoke to the clear fact that he was likewise a fool.

It was impossible for him to deny the man's claim, and he would not have
done it, if he could. Acceding tacitly, he squeezed the ends of his purse
in his pocket, and with a 'Let me see,' tried his waistcoat. Not too
impetuously; for he was careful of betraying the horrid emptiness till he
was certain that the powers who wait on gentlemen had utterly forsaken
him. They had not. He discovered a small coin, under ordinary
circumstances not contemptible; but he did not stay to reflect, and was
guilty of the error of offering it to the postillion.

The latter peered at it in the centre of his palm; gazed queerly in the
gentleman's face, and then lifting the spit of silver for the disdain of
his mistress, the moon, he drew a long breath of regret at the original
mistake he had committed, and said:

'That's what you're goin' to give me for my night's work?'

The powers who wait on gentlemen had only helped the pretending youth to
try him. A rejection of the demand would have been infinitely wiser and
better than this paltry compromise. The postillion would have fought it:
he would not have despised his fare.

How much it cost the poor pretender to reply, 'It 's the last farthing I
have, my man,' the postillion could not know.

'A scabby sixpence?' The postillion continued his question.

'You heard what I said,' Evan remarked.

The postillion drew another deep breath, and holding out the coin at
arm's length:

'Well, sir!' he observed, as one whom mental conflict has brought to the
philosophy of the case, 'now, was we to change places, I couldn't a' done
it! I couldn't a' done it!' he reiterated, pausing emphatically.

'Take it, sir!' he magnanimously resumed; 'take it! You rides when you
can, and you walks when you must. Lord forbid I should rob such a
gentleman as you!'

One who feels a death, is for the hour lifted above the satire of
postillions. A good genius prompted Evan to avoid the silly squabble that
might have ensued and made him ridiculous. He took the money, quietly
saying, 'Thank you.'

Not to lose his vantage, the postillion, though a little staggered by the
move, rejoined: 'Don't mention it.'

Evan then said: 'Good night, my man. I won't wish, for your sake, that we
changed places. You would have to walk fifty miles to be in time for your
father's funeral. Good night.'

'You are it to look at!' was the postillion's comment, seeing my
gentleman depart with great strides. He did not speak offensively;
rather, it seemed, to appease his conscience for the original mistake he
had committed, for subsequently came, 'My oath on it, I don't get took in
again by a squash hat in a hurry!'

Unaware of the ban he had, by a sixpenny stamp, put upon an unoffending
class, Evan went ahead, hearing the wheels of the chariot still dragging
the road in his rear. The postillion was in a dissatisfied state of mind.
He had asked and received more than his due. But in the matter of his
sweet self, he had been choused, as he termed it. And my gentleman had
baffled him, he could not quite tell how; but he had been got the better
of; his sarcasms had not stuck, and returned to rankle in the bosom of
their author. As a Jew, therefore, may eye an erewhile bondsman who has
paid the bill, but stands out against excess of interest on legal
grounds, the postillion regarded Evan, of whom he was now abreast, eager
for a controversy.

'Fine night,' said the postillion, to begin, and was answered by a short
assent. 'Lateish for a poor man to be out--don't you think sir, eh?'

'I ought to think so,' said Evan, mastering the shrewd unpleasantness he
felt in the colloquy forced on him.

'Oh, you! you're a gentleman!' the postillion ejaculated.

'You see I have no money.'

'Feel it, too, sir.'

'I am sorry you should be the victim.'

'Victim!' the postillion seized on an objectionable word. 'I ain't no
victim, unless you was up to a joke with me, sir, just now. Was that the
game?'

Evan informed him that he never played jokes with money, or on men.

'Cause it looks like it, sir, to go to offer a poor chap sixpence.' The
postillion laughed hollow from the end of his lungs. 'Sixpence for a
night's work! It is a joke, if you don't mean it for one. Why, do you
know, sir, I could go--there, I don't care where it is!--I could go
before any magistrate livin', and he'd make ye pay. It's a charge, as
custom is, and he'd make ye pay. Or p'rhaps you're a goin' on my
generosity, and 'll say, he gev back that sixpence! Well! I shouldn't a'
thought a gentleman'd make that his defence before a magistrate. But
there, my man! if it makes ye happy, keep it. But you take my advice,
sir. When you hires a chariot, see you've got the shiners. And don't you
go never again offerin' a sixpence to a poor man for a night's work. They
don't like it. It hurts their feelin's. Don't you forget that, sir. Lay
that up in your mind.'

Now the postillion having thus relieved himself, jeeringly asked
permission to smoke a pipe. To which Evan said, 'Pray, smoke, if it
pleases you.' And the postillion, hardly mollified, added, 'The baccy's
paid for,' and smoked.

As will sometimes happen, the feelings of the man who had spoken out and
behaved doubtfully, grew gentle and Christian, whereas those of the man
whose bearing under the trial had been irreproachable were much the
reverse. The postillion smoked--he was a lord on his horse; he beheld my
gentleman trudging in the dust. Awhile he enjoyed the contrast, dividing
his attention between the footfarer and moon. To have had the last word
is always a great thing; and to have given my gentleman a lecture,
because he shunned a dispute, also counts. And then there was the poor
young fellow trudging to his father's funeral! The postillion chose to
remember that now. In reality, he allowed, he had not very much to
complain of, and my gentleman's courteous avoidance of provocation (the
apparent fact that he, the postillion, had humbled him and got the better
of him, equally, it may be), acted on his fine English spirit. I should
not like to leave out the tobacco in this good change that was wrought in
him. However, he presently astonished Evan by pulling up his horses, and
crying that he was on his way to Hillford to bait, and saw no reason why
he should not take a lift that part of the road, at all events. Evan
thanked him briefly, but declined, and paced on with his head bent.

'It won't cost you nothing-not a sixpence!' the postillion sang out,
pursuing him. 'Come, sir! be a man! I ain't a hintin' at anything--jump
in.'

Evan again declined, and looked out for a side path to escape the fellow,
whose bounty was worse to him than his abuse, and whose mention of the
sixpence was unlucky.

'Dash it!' cried the postillion, 'you're going down to a funeral--I think
you said your father's, sir--you may as well try and get there
respectable--as far as I go. It's one to me whether you're in or out; the
horses won't feel it, and I do wish you'd take a lift and welcome. It's
because you're too much of a gentleman to be beholden to a poor man, I
suppose!'

Evan's young pride may have had a little of that base mixture in it, and
certainly he would have preferred that the invitation had not been made
to him; but he was capable of appreciating what the rejection of a piece
of friendliness involved, and as he saw that the man was sincere, he did
violence to himself, and said: 'Very well; then I'll jump in.'

The postillion was off his horse in a twinkling, and trotted his bandy
legs to undo the door, as to a gentleman who paid. This act of service
Evan valued.

'Suppose I were to ask you to take the sixpence now?' he said, turning
round, with one foot on the step.

'Well, sir,' the postillion sent his hat aside to answer. 'I don't want
it--I'd rather not have it; but there! I'll take it--dash the sixpence!
and we'll cry quits.'

Evan, surprised and pleased with him, dropped the bit of money in his
hand, saying: 'It will fill a pipe for you. While you 're smoking it,
think of me as in your debt. You're the only man I ever owed a penny to.'

The postillion put it in a side pocket apart, and observed: 'A sixpence
kindly meant is worth any crown-piece that's grudged--that it is! In you
jump, sir. It's a jolly night!'

Thus may one, not a conscious sage, play the right tune on this human
nature of ours: by forbearance, put it in the wrong; and then, by not
refusing the burden of an obligation, confer something better. The
instrument is simpler than we are taught to fancy. But it was doubtless
owing to a strong emotion in his soul, as well as to the stuff he was
made of, that the youth behaved as he did. We are now and then above our
own actions; seldom on a level with them. Evan, I dare say, was long in
learning to draw any gratification from the fact that he had achieved
without money the unparalleled conquest of a man. Perhaps he never knew
what immediate influence on his fortune this episode effected.

At Hillford they went their different ways. The postillion wished him
good speed, and Evan shook his hand. He did so rather abruptly, for the
postillion was fumbling at his pocket, and evidently rounding about a
proposal in his mind.

My gentleman has now the road to himself. Money is the clothing of a
gentleman: he may wear it well or ill. Some, you will mark, carry great
quantities of it gracefully: some, with a stinted supply, present a
decent appearance: very few, I imagine, will bear inspection, who are
absolutely stripped of it. All, save the shameless, are toiling to escape
that trial. My gentleman, treading the white highway across the solitary
heaths, that swell far and wide to the moon, is, by the postillion, who
has seen him, pronounced no sham. Nor do I think the opinion of any man
worthless, who has had the postillion's authority for speaking. But it
is, I am told, a finer test to embellish much gentleman-apparel, than to
walk with dignity totally unadorned. This simply tries the soundness of
our faculties: that tempts them in erratic directions. It is the
difference between active and passive excellence. As there is hardly any
situation, however, so interesting to reflect upon as that of a man
without a penny in his pocket, and a gizzard full of pride, we will leave
Mr. Evan Harrington to what fresh adventures may befall him, walking
toward the funeral plumes of the firs, under the soft midsummer flush,
westward, where his father lies.



CHAPTER VII

MOTHER AND SON

Rare as epic song is the man who is thorough in what he does. And happily
so; for in life he subjugates us, and he makes us bondsmen to his ashes.
It was in the order of things that the great Mel should be borne to his
final resting-place by a troop of creditors. You have seen (since the
occasion demands a pompous simile) clouds that all day cling about the
sun, and, in seeking to obscure him, are compelled to blaze in his livery
at fall of night they break from him illumined, hang mournfully above
him, and wear his natural glories long after he is gone. Thus, then,
these worthy fellows, faithful to him to the dust, fulfilled Mel's
triumphant passage amongst them, and closed his career.

To regale them when they returned, Mrs. Mel, whose mind was not intent on
greatness, was occupied in spreading meat and wine. Mrs. Fiske assisted
her, as well as she could, seeing that one hand was entirely engaged by
her handkerchief. She had already stumbled, and dropped a glass, which
had brought on her sharp condemnation from her aunt, who bade her sit
down, or go upstairs to have her cry out, and then return to be
serviceable.

'Oh! I can't help it!' sobbed Mrs. Fiske. 'That he should be carried
away, and none of his children to see him the last time! I can understand
Louisa--and Harriet, too, perhaps? But why could not Caroline? And that
they should be too fine ladies to let their brother come and bury his
father. Oh! it does seem----'

Mrs. Fiske fell into a chair, and surrendered to grief.

'Where is the cold tongue?' said Mrs. Mel to Sally, the maid, in a brief
under-voice.

'Please mum, Jacko----!'

'He must be whipped. You are a careless slut.'

'Please, I can't think of everybody and everything, and poor master----'

Sally plumped on a seat, and took sanctuary under her apron. Mrs. Mel
glanced at the pair, continuing her labour.

'Oh, aunt, aunt!' cried Mrs. Fiske, 'why didn't you put it off for
another day, to give Evan a chance?'

'Master 'd have kept another two days, he would!' whimpered Sally.

'Oh, aunt! to think!' cried Mrs. Fiske.

'And his coffin not bearin' of his spurs!' whimpered Sally.

Mrs. Mel interrupted them by commanding Sally to go to the drawing-room,
and ask a lady there, of the name of Mrs. Wishaw, whether she would like
to have some lunch sent up to her. Mrs. Fiske was requested to put towels
in Evan's bedroom.

'Yes, aunt, if you're not infatuated!' said Mrs. Fiske, as she prepared
to obey; while Sally, seeing that her public exhibition of sorrow and
sympathy could be indulged but an instant longer, unwound herself for a
violent paroxysm, blurting between stops:

'If he'd ony've gone to his last bed comfortable! . . . If he'd ony 've
been that decent as not for to go to his last bed with his clothes on!
. . . If he'd ony've had a comfortable sheet! . . . It makes a woman feel
cold to think of him full dressed there, as if he was goin' to be a
soldier on the Day o' Judgement!'

To let people speak was a maxim of Mrs. Mel's, and a wise one for any
form of society when emotions are very much on the surface. She continued
her arrangements quietly, and, having counted the number of plates and
glasses, and told off the guests on her fingers, she, sat down to await
them.

The first one who entered the room was her son.

'You have come,' said Mrs. Mel, flushing slightly, but otherwise
outwardly calm.

'You didn't suppose I should stay away from you, mother?'

Evan kissed her cheek.

'I knew you would not.'

Mrs. Mel examined him with those eyes of hers that compassed objects in a
single glance. She drew her finger on each side of her upper lip, and
half smiled, saying:

'That won't do here.'

'What?' asked Evan, and proceeded immediately to make inquiries about her
health, which she satisfied with a nod.

'You saw him lowered, Van?'

'Yes, mother.'

'Then go and wash yourself, for you are dirty, and then come and take
your place at the head of the table.'

'Must I sit here, mother?'

'Without a doubt--you must. You know your room. Quick!'

In this manner their first interview passed.

Mrs. Fiske rushed in to exclaim:

'So, you were right, aunt--he has come. I met him on the stairs. Oh! how
like dear uncle Mel he looks, in the militia, with that moustache. I just
remember him as a child; and, oh, what a gentleman he is!'

At the end of the sentence Mrs. Mel's face suddenly darkened: she said,
in a deep voice:

'Don't dare to talk that nonsense before him, Ann.'

Mrs. Fiske looked astonished.

'What have I done, aunt?'

'He shan't be ruined by a parcel of fools,' said Mrs. Mel. 'There, go!
Women have no place here.'

'How the wretches can force themselves to touch a morsel, after this
morning!' Mrs. Fiske exclaimed, glancing at the table.

'Men must eat,' said Mrs. Mel.

The mourners were heard gathering outside the door. Mrs. Fiske escaped
into the kitchen. Mrs. Mel admitted them into the parlour, bowing much
above the level of many of the heads that passed her.

Assembled were Messrs. Barnes, Kilne, and Grossby, whom we know; Mr.
Doubleday, the ironmonger; Mr. Joyce, the grocer; Mr. Perkins, commonly
called Lawyer Perkins; Mr. Welbeck, the pier-master of Lymport;
Bartholomew Fiske; Mr. Coxwell, a Fallow field maltster, brewer, and
farmer; creditors of various dimensions, all of them. Mr. Goren coming
last, behind his spectacles.

'My son will be with you directly, to preside,' said Mrs. Mel. 'Accept my
thanks for the respect you have shown my husband. I wish you good
morning.'

'Morning, ma'am,' answered several voices, and Mrs. Mel retired.

The mourners then set to work to relieve their hats of the appendages of
crape. An undertaker's man took possession of the long black cloaks. The
gloves were generally pocketed.

'That's my second black pair this year,' said Joyce.

'They'll last a time to come. I don't need to buy gloves while neighbours
pop off.'

'Undertakers' gloves seem to me as if they're made for mutton fists,'
remarked Welbeck; upon which Kilne nudged Barnes, the butcher, with a
sharp 'Aha!' and Barnes observed:

'Oh! I never wear 'em--they does for my boys on Sundays. I smoke a pipe
at home.'

The Fallow field farmer held his length of crape aloft and inquired:
'What shall do with this?'

'Oh, you keep it,' said one or two.

Coxwell rubbed his chin. 'Don't like to rob the widder.'

'What's left goes to the undertaker?' asked Grossby.

'To be sure,' said Barnes; and Kilne added: 'It's a job': Lawyer Perkins
ejaculating confidently, 'Perquisites of office, gentlemen; perquisites
of office!' which settled the dispute and appeased every conscience.

A survey of the table ensued. The mourners felt hunger, or else thirst;
but had not, it appeared, amalgamated the two appetites as yet. Thirst
was the predominant declaration; and Grossby, after an examination of the
decanters, unctuously deduced the fact, which he announced, that port and
sherry were present.

'Try the port,' said Kilne.

'Good?' Barnes inquired.

A very intelligent 'I ought to know,' with a reserve of regret at the
extension of his intimacy with the particular vintage under that roof,
was winked by Kilne.

Lawyer Perkins touched the arm of a mourner about to be experimental on
Kilne's port--

'I think we had better wait till young Mr. Harrington takes the table,
don't you see?'

'Yes,-ah!' croaked Goren. 'The head of the family, as the saying goes!'

'I suppose we shan't go into business to-day?' Joyce carelessly observed.

Lawyer Perkins answered:

'No. You can't expect it. Mr. Harrington has led me to anticipate that he
will appoint a day. Don't you see?'

'Oh! I see,' returned Joyce. 'I ain't in such a hurry. What's he doing?'

Doubleday, whose propensities were waggish, suggested 'shaving,' but half
ashamed of it, since the joke missed, fell to as if he were soaping his
face, and had some trouble to contract his jaw.

The delay in Evan's attendance on the guests of the house was caused by
the fact that Mrs. Mel had lain in wait for him descending, to warn him
that he must treat them with no supercilious civility, and to tell him
partly the reason why. On hearing the potential relations in which they
stood toward the estate of his father, Evan hastily and with the
assurance of a son of fortune, said they should be paid.

'That's what they would like to hear,' said Mrs. Mel. 'You may just
mention it when they're going to leave. Say you will fix a day to meet
them.'

'Every farthing!' pursued Evan, on whom the tidings were beginning to
operate. 'What! debts? my poor father!'

'And a thumping sum, Van. You will open your eyes wider.'

'But it shall be paid, mother,--it shall be paid. Debts? I hate them. I'd
slave night and day to pay them.'

Mrs. Mel spoke in a more positive tense: 'And so will I, Van. Now, go.'

It mattered little to her what sort of effect on his demeanour her
revelation produced, so long as the resolve she sought to bring him to
was nailed in his mind; and she was a woman to knock and knock again,
till it was firmly fixed there. With a strong purpose, and no plans,
there were few who could resist what, in her circle, she willed; not even
a youth who would gaily have marched to the scaffold rather than stand
behind a counter. A purpose wedded to plans may easily suffer shipwreck;
but an unfettered purpose that moulds circumstances as they arise,
masters us, and is terrible. Character melts to it, like metal in the
steady furnace. The projector of plots is but a miserable gambler and
votary of chances. Of a far higher quality is the will that can subdue
itself to wait, and lay no petty traps for opportunity. Poets may fable
of such a will, that it makes the very heavens conform to it; or, I may
add, what is almost equal thereto, one who would be a gentleman, to
consent to be a tailor. The only person who ever held in his course
against Mrs. Mel, was Mel,--her husband; but, with him, she was under the
physical fascination of her youth, and it never left her. In her heart
she barely blamed him. What he did, she took among other inevitable
matters.

The door closed upon Evan, and waiting at the foot, of the stairs a
minute to hear how he was received, Mrs. Mel went to the kitchen and
called the name of Dandy, which brought out an ill-built, low-browed,
small man, in a baggy suit of black, who hopped up to her with a surly
salute. Dandy was a bird Mrs. Mel had herself brought down, and she had
for him something of a sportsman's regard for his victim. Dandy was the
cleaner of boots and runner of errands in the household of Melchisedec,
having originally entered it on a dark night by the cellar. Mrs. Mel, on
that occasion, was sleeping in her dressing-gown, to be ready to give the
gallant night-hawk, her husband, the service he might require on his
return to the nest. Hearing a suspicious noise below, she rose, and
deliberately loaded a pair of horse-pistols, weapons Mel had worn in his
holsters in the heroic days gone; and with these she stepped downstairs
straight to the cellar, carrying a lantern at her girdle. She could not
only load, but present and fire. Dandy was foremost in stating that she
called him forth steadily, three times, before the pistol was discharged.
He admitted that he was frightened, and incapable of speech, at the
apparition of the tall, terrific woman. After the third time of asking he
had the ball lodged in his leg and fell. Mrs. Mel was in the habit of
bearing heavier weights than Dandy. She made no ado about lugging him to
a chamber, where, with her own hands (for this woman had some slight
knowledge of surgery, and was great in herbs and drugs) she dressed his
wound, and put him to bed; crying contempt (ever present in Dandy's
memory) at such a poor creature undertaking the work of housebreaker.
Taught that he really was a poor creature for the work, Dandy, his
nursing over, begged to be allowed to stop and wait on Mrs. Mel; and she
who had, like many strong natures, a share of pity for the objects she
despised, did not cast him out. A jerk in his gait, owing to the bit of
lead Mrs. Mel had dropped into him, and a little, perhaps, to her
self-satisfied essay in surgical science on his person, earned him the
name he went by.

When her neighbours remonstrated with her for housing a reprobate, Mrs.
Mel would say: 'Dandy is well-fed and well-physicked: there's no harm in
Dandy'; by which she may have meant that the food won his gratitude, and
the physic reduced his humours. She had observed human nature. At any
rate, Dandy was her creature; and the great Mel himself rallied her about
her squire.

'When were you drunk last?' was Mrs. Mel's address to Dandy, as he stood
waiting for orders.

He replied to it in an altogether injured way:

'There, now; you've been and called me away from my dinner to ask me
that. Why, when I had the last chance, to be sure.'

'And you were at dinner in your new black suit?'

'Well,' growled Dandy, 'I borrowed Sally's apron. Seems I can't please
ye.'

Mrs. Mel neither enjoined nor cared for outward forms of respect, where
she was sure of complete subserviency. If Dandy went beyond the limits,
she gave him an extra dose. Up to the limits he might talk as he pleased,
in accordance with Mrs. Mel's maxim, that it was a necessary relief to
all talking creatures.

'Now, take off your apron,' she said, 'and wash your hands, dirty pig,
and go and wait at table in there'; she pointed to the parlour-door:
'Come straight to me when everybody has left.'

'Well, there I am with the bottles again,' returned Dandy. 'It 's your
fault this time, mind! I'll come as straight as I can.'

Dandy turned away to perform her bidding, and Mrs. Mel ascended to the
drawing-room to sit with Mrs. Wishaw, who was, as she told all who chose
to hear, an old flame of Mel's, and was besides, what Mrs. Mel thought
more of, the wife of Mel's principal creditor, a wholesale dealer in
cloth, resident in London.

The conviviality of the mourners did not disturb the house. Still, men
who are not accustomed to see the colour of wine every day, will sit and
enjoy it, even upon solemn occasions, and the longer they sit the more
they forget the matter that has brought them together. Pleading their
wives and shops, however, they released Evan from his miserable office
late in the afternoon.

His mother came down to him,--and saying, 'I see how you did the
journey--you walked it,' told him to follow her.

'Yes, mother,' Evan yawned, 'I walked part of the way. I met a fellow in
a gig about ten miles out of Fallow field, and he gave me a lift to
Flatsham. I just reached Lymport in time, thank Heaven! I wouldn't have
missed that! By the way, I've satisfied these men.'

'Oh!' said Mrs. Mel.

'They wanted--one or two of them--what a penance it is to have to sit
among those people an hour!--they wanted to ask me about the business,
but I silenced them. I told them to meet me here this day week.'

Mrs. Mel again said 'Oh!' and, pushing into one of the upper rooms,
'Here's your bedroom, Van, just as you left it.'

'Ah, so it is,' muttered Evan, eyeing a print. 'The Douglas and the
Percy: "he took the dead man by the hand." What an age it seems since I
last saw that. There's Sir Hugh Montgomery on horseback--he hasn't moved.
Don't you remember my father calling it the Battle of Tit-for-Tat?
Gallant Percy! I know he wished he had lived in those days of knights and
battles.'

'It does not much signify whom one has to make clothes for,' observed
Mrs. Mel. Her son happily did not mark her.

'I think we neither of us were made for the days of pence and pounds,' he
continued. 'Now, mother, sit down, and talk to me about him. Did he
mention me? Did he give me his blessing? I hope he did not suffer. I'd
have given anything to press his hand,' and looking wistfully at the
Percy lifting the hand of Douglas dead, Evan's eyes filled with big
tears.

'He suffered very little,' returned Mrs. Mel, 'and his last words were
about you.'

'What were they?' Evan burst out.

'I will tell you another time. Now undress, and go to bed. When I talk to
you, Van, I want a cool head to listen. You do nothing but yawn
yard-measures.'

The mouth of the weary youth instinctively snapped short the abhorred
emblem.

'Here, I will help you, Van.'

In spite of his remonstrances and petitions for talk, she took off his
coat and waistcoat, contemptuously criticizing the cloth of foreign
tailors and their absurd cut.

'Have you heard from Louisa?' asked Evan.

'Yes, yes--about your sisters by-and-by. Now, be good, and go to bed.'

She still treated him like a boy, whom she was going to force to the
resolution of a man.

Dandy's sleeping-room was on the same floor as Evan's. Thither, when she
had quitted her son, she directed her steps. She had heard Dandy tumble
up-stairs the moment his duties were over, and knew what to expect when
the bottles had been in his way; for drink made Dandy savage, and a
terror to himself. It was her command to him that, when he happened to
come across liquor, he should immediately seek his bedroom and bolt the
door, and Dandy had got the habit of obeying her. On this occasion he was
vindictive against her, seeing that she had delivered him over to his
enemy with malice prepense. A good deal of knocking, and summoning of
Dandy by name, was required before she was admitted, and the sight of her
did not delight him, as he testified.

'I 'm drunk!' he bawled. 'Will that do for ye?'

Mrs. Mel stood with her two hands crossed above her apron-string, noting
his sullen lurking eye with the calm of a tamer of beasts.

'You go out of the room; I'm drunk!' Dandy repeated, and pitched forward
on the bed-post, in the middle of an oath.

She understood that it was pure kindness on Dandy's part to bid her go
and be out of his reach; and therefore, on his becoming so abusive as to
be menacing, she, without a shade of anger, and in the most unruffled
manner, administered to him the remedy she had reserved, in the shape of
a smart box on the ear, which sent him flat to the floor. He rose, after
two or three efforts, quite subdued.

'Now, Dandy, sit on the edge of the bed.'

Dandy sat on the extreme edge, and Mrs. Mel pursued:

'Now, Dandy, tell me what your master said at the table.'

'Talked at 'em like a lord, he did,' said Dandy, stupidly consoling the
boxed ear.

'What were his words?'

Dandy's peculiarity was, that he never remembered anything save when
drunk, and Mrs. Mel's dose had rather sobered him. By degrees, scratching
at his head haltingly, he gave the context.

"'Gentlemen, I hear for the first time, you've claims against my poor
father. Nobody shall ever say he died, and any man was the worse for it.
I'll meet you next week, and I'll bind myself by law. Here's Lawyer
Perkins. No; Mr. Perkins. I'll pay off every penny. Gentlemen, look upon
me as your debtor, and not my father."'

Delivering this with tolerable steadiness, Dandy asked, 'Will that do?'

'That will do,' said Mrs. Mel. 'I'll send you up some tea presently. Lie
down, Dandy.'

The house was dark and silent when Evan, refreshed by his rest, descended
to seek his mother. She was sitting alone in the parlour. With a
tenderness which Mrs. Mel permitted rather than encouraged, Evan put his
arm round her neck, and kissed her many times. One of the symptoms of
heavy sorrow, a longing for the signs of love, made Evan fondle his
mother, and bend over her yearningly. Mrs. Mel said once: 'Dear Van; good
boy!' and quietly sat through his caresses.

'Sitting up for me, mother?' he whispered.

'Yes, Van; we may as well have our talk out.'

'Ah!' he took a chair close by her side, 'tell me my father's last
words.'

'He said he hoped you would never be a tailor.'

Evan's forehead wrinkled up. 'There's not much fear of that, then!'

His mother turned her face on him, and examined him with a rigorous
placidity; all her features seeming to bear down on him. Evan did not
like the look.

'You object to trade, Van?'

'Yes, decidedly, mother-hate it; but that's not what I want to talk to
you about. Didn't my father speak of me much?'

'He desired that you should wear his militia sword, if you got a
commission.'

'I have rather given up hope of the Army,' said Evan.

Mrs. Mel requested him to tell her what a colonel's full pay amounted to;
and again, the number of years it required, on a rough calculation, to
attain that grade. In reply to his statement she observed: 'A tailor
might realize twice the sum in a quarter of the time.'

'What if he does-double, or treble?' cried Evan, impetuously; and to
avoid the theme, and cast off the bad impression it produced on him, he
rubbed his hands, and said: 'I want to talk to you about my prospects,
mother.'

'What are they?' Mrs. Mel inquired.

The severity of her mien and sceptical coldness of her speech caused him
to inspect them suddenly, as if she had lent him her eyes. He put them
by, till the gold should recover its natural shine, saying: 'By the way,
mother, I 've written the half of a History of Portugal.'

'Have you?' said Mrs. Mel. 'For Louisa?'

'No, mother, of course not: to sell it. Albuquerque! what a splendid
fellow he was!'

Informing him that he knew she abominated foreign names, she said: 'And
your prospects are, writing Histories of Portugal?'

'No, mother. I was going to tell you, I expect a Government appointment.
Mr. Jocelyn likes my work--I think he likes me. You know, I was his
private secretary for ten months.'

'You write a good hand,' his mother interposed.

'And I'm certain I was born for diplomacy.'

'For an easy chair, and an ink-dish before you, and lacqueys behind.
What's to be your income, Van?'

Evan carelessly remarked that he must wait and see.

'A very proper thing to do,' said Mrs. Mel; for now that she had fixed
him to some explanation of his prospects, she could condescend in her
stiff way to banter.

Slightly touched by it, Evan pursued, half laughing, as men do who wish
to propitiate common sense on behalf of what seems tolerably absurd: 'It
's not the immediate income, you know, mother: one thinks of one's
future. In the diplomatic service, as Louisa says, you come to be known
to Ministers gradually, I mean. That is, they hear of you; and if you
show you have some capacity--Louisa wants me to throw it up in time, and
stand for Parliament. Andrew, she thinks, would be glad to help me to his
seat. Once in Parliament, and known to Ministers, you--your career is
open to you.'

In justice to Mr. Evan Harrington, it must be said, he built up this
extraordinary card-castle to dazzle his mother's mind: he had lost his
right grasp of her character for the moment, because of an undefined
suspicion of something she intended, and which sent him himself to take
refuge in those flimsy structures; while the very altitude he reached
beguiled his imagination, and made him hope to impress hers.

Mrs. Mel dealt it one fillip. 'And in the meantime how are you to live,
and pay the creditors?'

Though Evan answered cheerfully, 'Oh, they will wait, and I can live on
anything,' he was nevertheless floundering on the ground amid the ruins
of the superb edifice; and his mother, upright and rigid, continuing,
'You can live on anything, and they will wait, and call your father a
rogue,' he started, grievously bitten by one of the serpents of earth.

'Good heaven, mother! what are you saying?'

'That they will call your father a rogue, and will have a right to,' said
the relentless woman.

'Not while I live!' Evan exclaimed.

'You may stop one mouth with your fist, but you won't stop a dozen, Van.'

Evan jumped up and walked the room.

'What am I to do?' he cried. 'I will pay everything. I will bind myself
to pay every farthing. What more can I possibly do?'

'Make the money,' said Mrs. Mel's deep voice.

Evan faced her: 'My dear mother, you are very unjust and inconsiderate. I
have been working and doing my best. I promise--what do the debts amount
to?'

'Something like L5000 in all, Van.'

'Very well.' Youth is not alarmed by the sound of big sums. 'Very well--I
will pay it.'

Evan looked as proud as if he had just clapped down the full amount on
the table.

'Out of the History of Portugal, half written, and the prospect of a
Government appointment?'

Mrs. Mel raised her eyelids to him.

'In time-in time, mother!'

'Mention your proposal to the creditors when you meet them this day
week,' she said.

Neither of them spoke for several minutes. Then Evan came close to her,
saying:

'What is it you want of me, mother?'

'I want nothing, Van--I can support myself.'

'But what would you have me do, mother?'

'Be honest; do your duty, and don't be a fool about it.'

'I will try,' he rejoined. 'You tell me to make the money. Where and how
can I make it? I am perfectly willing to work.'

'In this house,' said Mrs. Mel; and, as this was pretty clear speaking,
she stood up to lend her figure to it.

'Here?' faltered Evan. 'What! be a ----'

'Tailor!' The word did not sting her tongue.

'I? Oh, that's quite impossible!' said Evan. And visions of leprosy, and
Rose shrinking her skirts from contact with him, shadowed out and away in
his mind.

'Understand your choice!' Mrs. Mel imperiously spoke. 'What are brains
given you for? To be played the fool with by idiots and women? You have
L5000 to pay to save your father from being called a rogue. You can only
make the money in one way, which is open to you. This business might
produce a thousand pounds a-year and more. In seven or eight years you
may clear your father's name, and live better all the time than many of
your bankrupt gentlemen. You have told the creditors you will pay them.
Do you think they're gaping fools, to be satisfied by a History of
Portugal? If you refuse to take the business at once, they will sell me
up, and quite right too. Understand your choice. There's Mr. Goren has
promised to have you in London a couple of months, and teach you what he
can. He is a kind friend. Would any of your gentlemen acquaintance do the
like for you? Understand your choice. You will be a beggar--the son of a
rogue--or an honest man who has cleared his father's name!'

During this strenuously uttered allocution, Mrs. Mel, though her chest
heaved but faintly against her crossed hands, showed by the dilatation of
her eyes, and the light in them, that she felt her words. There is that
in the aspect of a fine frame breathing hard facts, which, to a youth who
has been tumbled headlong from his card-castles and airy fabrics, is
masterful, and like the pressure of a Fate. Evan drooped his head.

'Now,' said Mrs. Mel, 'you shall have some supper.'

Evan told her he could not eat.

'I insist upon your eating,' said Mrs. Mel; 'empty stomachs are foul
counsellors.'

'Mother! do you want to drive me mad?' cried Evan.

She looked at him to see whether the string she held him by would bear
the slight additional strain: decided not to press a small point.

'Then go to bed and sleep on it,' she said--sure of him--and gave her
cheek for his kiss, for she never performed the operation, but kept her
mouth, as she remarked, for food and speech, and not for slobbering
mummeries.

Evan returned to his solitary room. He sat on the bed and tried to think,
oppressed by horrible sensations of self-contempt, that caused whatever
he touched to sicken him.

There were the Douglas and the Percy on the wall. It was a happy and a
glorious time, was it not, when men lent each other blows that killed
outright; when to be brave and cherish noble feelings brought honour;
when strength of arm and steadiness of heart won fortune; when the fair
stars of earth--sweet women--wakened and warmed the love of squires of
low degree. This legacy of the dead man's hand! Evan would have paid it
with his blood; but to be in bondage all his days to it; through it to
lose all that was dear to him; to wear the length of a loathed
existence!--we should pardon a young man's wretchedness at the prospect,
for it was in a time before our joyful era of universal equality. Yet he
never cast a shade of blame upon his father.

The hours moved on, and he found himself staring at his small candle,
which struggled more and more faintly with the morning light, like his
own flickering ambition against the facts of life.



CHAPTER VIII

INTRODUCES AN ECCENTRIC

At the Aurora--one of those rare antiquated taverns, smelling of
comfortable time and solid English fare, that had sprung up in the great
coffee days, when taverns were clubs, and had since subsisted on the
attachment of steady bachelor Templars there had been dismay, and even
sorrow, for a month. The most constant patron of the establishment--an
old gentleman who had dined there for seven-and-twenty years, four days
in the week, off dishes dedicated to the particular days, and had grown
grey with the landlady, the cook, and the head-waiter--this old gentleman
had abruptly withheld his presence. Though his name, his residence, his
occupation, were things only to be speculated on at the Aurora, he was
very well known there, and as men are best to be known: that is to say,
by their habits. Some affection for him also was felt. The landlady
looked on him as a part of the house. The cook and the waiter were
accustomed to receive acceptable compliments from him monthly. His
precise words, his regular ancient jokes, his pint of Madeira and
after-pint of Port, his antique bow to the landlady, passing out and in,
his method of spreading his table-napkin on his lap and looking up at the
ceiling ere he fell to, and how he talked to himself during the repast,
and indulged in short chuckles, and the one look of perfect felicity that
played over his features when he had taken his first sip of Port--these
were matters it pained them at the Aurora to have to remember.

For three weeks the resolution not to regard him as of the past was
general. The Aurora was the old gentleman's home. Men do not play truant
from home at sixty years of age. He must, therefore, be seriously
indisposed. The kind heart of the landlady fretted to think he might have
no soul to nurse and care for him; but she kept his corner near the
fire-place vacant, and took care that his pint of Madeira was there. The
belief was gaining ground that he had gone, and that nothing but his
ghost would ever sit there again. Still the melancholy ceremony
continued: for the landlady was not without a secret hope, that in spite
of his reserve and the mystery surrounding him, he would have sent her a
last word. The cook and head-waiter, interrogated as to their dealings
with the old gentleman, testified solemnly to the fact of their having
performed their duty by him. They would not go against their interests so
much as to forget one of his ways, they said-taking oath, as it were, by
their lower nature, in order to be credited: an instinct men have of one
another. The landlady could not contradict them, for the old gentleman
had made no complaint; but then she called to memory that fifteen years
back, in such and such a year, Wednesday's, dish had been, by shameful
oversight, furnished him for Tuesday's, and he had eaten it quietly, but
refused his Port; which pathetic event had caused alarm and inquiry, when
the error was discovered, and apologized for, the old gentleman merely
saying, 'Don't let it happen again.' Next day he drank his Port, as
usual, and the wheels of the Aurora went smoothly. The landlady was thus
justified in averring that something had been done by somebody, albeit
unable to point to anything specific. Women, who are almost as deeply
bound to habit as old gentlemen, possess more of its spiritual element,
and are warned by dreams, omens, creepings of the flesh, unwonted chills,
suicide of china, and other shadowing signs, when a break is to be
anticipated, or, has occurred. The landlady of the Aurora tavern was
visited by none of these, and with that beautiful trust which habit
gives, and which boastful love or vainer earthly qualities would fail in
effecting, she ordered that the pint of Madeira should stand from six
o'clock in the evening till seven--a small monument of confidence in him
who was at one instant the 'poor old dear'; at another, the 'naughty old
gad-about'; further, the 'faithless old-good-for-nothing'; and again, the
'blessed pet' of the landlady's parlour, alternately and indiscriminately
apostrophized by herself, her sister, and daughter.

On the last day of the month a step was heard coming up the long alley
which led from the riotous scrambling street to the plentiful cheerful
heart of the Aurora. The landlady knew the step. She checked the natural
flutterings of her ribbons, toned down the strong simper that was on her
lips, rose, pushed aside her daughter, and, as the step approached,
curtsied composedly. Old Habit lifted his hat, and passed. With the same
touching confidence in the Aurora that the Aurora had in him, he went
straight to his corner, expressed no surprise at his welcome by the
Madeira, and thereby apparently indicated that his appearance should
enjoy a similar immunity.

As of old, he called 'Jonathan!' and was not to be disturbed till he did
so. Seeing that Jonathan smirked and twiddled his napkin, the old
gentleman added, 'Thursday!'

But Jonathan, a man, had not his mistress's keen intuition of the
deportment necessitated by the case, or was incapable of putting the
screw upon weak excited nature, for he continued to smirk, and was
remarking how glad he was, he was sure, and something he had dared to
think and almost to fear, when the old gentleman called to him, as if he
were at the other end of the room, 'Will you order Thursday, or not,
sir?' Whereat Jonathan flew, and two or three cosy diners glanced up from
their plates, or the paper, smiled, and pursued their capital occupation.

'Glad to see me!' the old gentleman muttered, querulously. 'Of course,
glad to see a customer! Why do you tell me that? Talk! tattle! might as
well have a woman to wait--just!'

He wiped his forehead largely with his handkerchief; as one whom Calamity
hunted a little too hard in summer weather.

'No tumbling-room for the wine, too!'

That was his next grievance. He changed the pint of Madeira from his left
side to his right, and went under his handkerchief again, feverishly. The
world was severe with this old gentleman.

'Ah! clock wrong now!'

He leaned back like a man who can no longer carry his burdens, informing
Jonathan, on his coming up to place the roll of bread and firm butter,
that he was forty seconds too fast, as if it were a capital offence, and
he deserved to step into Eternity for outstripping Time.

'But, I daresay, you don't understand the importance of a minute,' said
the old gentleman, bitterly. 'Not you, or any of you. Better if we had
run a little ahead of your minute, perhaps--and the rest of you! Do you
think you can cancel the mischief that's done in the world in that
minute, sir, by hurrying ahead like that? Tell me!'

Rather at a loss, Jonathan scanned the clock seriously, and observed that
it was not quite a minute too fast.

The old gentleman pulled out his watch. He grunted that a lying clock was
hateful to him; subsequently sinking into contemplation of his thumbs,--a
sign known to Jonathan as indicative of the old gentleman's system having
resolved, in spite of external outrages, to be fortified with calm to
meet the repast.

It is not fair to go behind an eccentric; but the fact was, this old
gentleman was slightly ashamed of his month's vagrancy and cruel conduct,
and cloaked his behaviour toward the Aurora, in all the charges he could
muster against it. He was very human, albeit an odd form of the race.

Happily for his digestion of Thursday, the cook, warned by Jonathan, kept
the old gentleman's time, not the Aurora's: and the dinner was correct;
the dinner was eaten in peace; he began to address his plate vigorously,
poured out his Madeira, and chuckled, as the familiar ideas engendered by
good wine were revived in him. Jonathan reported at the bar that the old
gentleman was all right again.

One would like here to pause, while our worthy ancient feeds, and indulge
in a short essay on Habit, to show what a sacred and admirable thing it
is that makes flimsy Time substantial, and consolidates his triple life.
It is proof that we have come to the end of dreams and Time's delusions,
and are determined to sit down at Life's feast and carve for ourselves.
Its day is the child of yesterday, and has a claim on to-morrow. Whereas
those who have no such plan of existence and sum of their wisdom to show,
the winds blow them as they list. Consider, then, mercifully the wrath of
him on whom carelessness or forgetfulness has brought a snap in the links
of Habit. You incline to scorn him because, his slippers misplaced, or
asparagus not on his table the first day of a particular Spring month, he
gazes blankly and sighs as one who saw the End. To you it may appear
small. You call to him to be a man. He is: but he is also an immortal,
and his confidence in unceasing orderly progression is rudely dashed.

But the old gentleman has finished his dinner and his Madeira, and says:
'Now, Jonathan, "thock" the Port!'--his joke when matters have gone well:
meant to express the sound of the uncorking, probably. The habit of
making good jokes is rare, as you know: old gentlemen have not yet
attained to it: nevertheless Jonathan enjoys this one, which has seen a
generation in and out, for he knows its purport to be, 'My heart is
open.'

And now is a great time with this old gentleman. He sips, and in his eyes
the world grows rosy, and he exchanges mute or monosyllable salutes here
and there. His habit is to avoid converse; but he will let a light remark
season meditation.

He says to Jonathan: 'The bill for the month.'

'Yes, sir,' Jonathan replies. 'Would you not prefer, sir, to have the
items added on to the month ensuing?'

'I asked you for the bill of the month,' said the old gentleman, with an
irritated voice and a twinkle in his eye.

Jonathan bowed; but his aspect betrayed perplexity, and that perplexity
was soon shared by the landlady for Jonathan said, he was convinced the
old gentleman intended to pay for sixteen days, and the landlady could
not bring her hand to charge him for more than two. Here was the dilemma
foreseen by the old gentleman, and it added vastly to the flavour of the
Port.

Pleasantly tickled, he sat gazing at his glass, and let the minutes fly.
He knew the part he would act in his little farce. If charged for the
whole month, he would peruse the bill deliberately, and perhaps cry out
'Hulloa?' and then snap at Jonathan for the interposition of a remark.
But if charged for two days, he would wish to be told whether they were
demented, those people outside, and scornfully return the bill to
Jonathan.

A slap on the shoulder, and a voice: 'Found you at last, Tom!' violently
shattered the excellent plot, and made the old gentleman start. He beheld
Mr. Andrew Cogglesby.

'Drinking Port, Tom?' said Mr. Andrew. 'I 'll join you': and he sat down
opposite to him, rubbing his hands and pushing back his hair.

Jonathan entering briskly with the bill, fell back a step, in alarm. The
old gentleman, whose inviolacy was thus rudely assailed, sat staring at
the intruder, his mouth compressed, and three fingers round his glass,
which it' was doubtful whether he was not going to hurl at him.

'Waiter!' Mr. Andrew carelessly hailed, 'a pint of this Port, if you
please.'

Jonathan sought the countenance of the old gentleman.

'Do you hear, sir?' cried the latter, turning his wrath on him. 'Another
pint!' He added: 'Take back the bill'; and away went Jonathan to relate
fresh marvels to his mistress.

Mr. Andrew then addressed the old gentleman in the most audacious manner.

'Astonished to see me here, Tom? Dare say you are. I knew you came
somewhere in this neighbourhood, and, as I wanted to speak to you very
particularly, and you wouldn't be visible till Monday, why, I spied into
two or three places, and here I am.'

You might see they were brothers. They had the same bushy eyebrows, the
same healthy colour in their cheeks, the same thick shoulders, and brisk
way of speaking, and clear, sharp, though kindly, eyes; only Tom was cast
in larger proportions than Andrew, and had gotten the grey furniture of
Time for his natural wear. Perhaps, too, a cross in early life had a
little twisted him, and set his mouth in a rueful bunch, out of which
occasionally came biting things. Mr. Andrew carried his head up, and eyed
every man living with the benevolence of a patriarch, dashed with the
impudence of a London sparrow. Tom had a nagging air, and a trifle of
acridity on his broad features. Still, any one at a glance could have
sworn they were brothers, and Jonathan unhesitatingly proclaimed it at
the Aurora bar.

Mr. Andrew's hands were working together, and at them, and at his face,
the old gentleman continued to look with a firmly interrogating air.

'Want to know what brings me, Tom? I'll tell you presently. Hot,--isn't
it?'

'What the deuce are you taking exercise for?' the old gentleman burst
out, and having unlocked his mouth, he began to puff and alter his
posture.

'There you are, thawed in a minute!' said Mr. Andrew. 'What's an
eccentric? a child grown grey. It isn't mine; I read it somewhere. Ah,
here's the Port! good, I'll warrant.'

Jonathan deferentially uncorked, excessive composure on his visage. He
arranged the table-cloth to a nicety, fixed the bottle with exactness,
and was only sent scudding by the old gentleman's muttering of:
'Eavesdropping pie!' followed by a short, 'Go!' and even then he must
delay to sweep off a particular crumb.

'Good it is!' said Mr. Andrew, rolling the flavour on his lips, as he put
down his glass. 'I follow you in Port, Tom. Elder brother!'

The old gentleman also drank, and was mollified enough to reply: 'Shan't
follow you in Parliament.'

'Haven't forgiven that yet, Tom?'

'No great harm done when you're silent.'

'Capital Port!' said Mr. Andrew, replenishing the glasses. 'I ought to
have inquired where they kept the best Port. I might have known you'd
stick by it. By the way, talking of Parliament, there's talk of a new
election for Fallow field. You have a vote there. Will you give it to
Jocelyn? There's talk of his standing.

'If he'll wear petticoats, I'll give him my vote.'

'There you go, Tom!'

'I hate masquerades. You're penny trumpets of the women. That tattle
comes from the bed-curtains. When a petticoat steps forward I give it my
vote, or else I button it up in my pocket.'

This was probably one of the longest speeches he had ever delivered at
the Aurora. There was extra Port in it. Jonathan, who from his place of
observation noted the length of time it occupied, though he was unable to
gather the context, glanced at Mr. Andrew with a sly satisfaction. Mr.
Andrew, laughing, signalled for another pint.

'So you've come here for my vote, have you?' said Mr. Tom.

'Why, no; not exactly that,' Mr. Andrew answered, blinking and passing it
by.

Jonathan brought the fresh pint, and Tom filled for himself, drank, and
said emphatically, and with a confounding voice:

'Your women have been setting you on me, sir!'

Andrew protested that he was entirely mistaken.

'You're the puppet of your women!'

'Well, Tom, not in this instance. Here's to the bachelors, and brother
Tom at their head!'

It seemed to be Andrew's object to help his companion to carry a certain
quantity of Port, as if he knew a virtue it had to subdue him, and to
have fixed on a particular measure that he should hold before he
addressed him specially. Arrived at this, he said:

'Look here, Tom. I know your ways. I shouldn't have bothered you here; I
never have before; but we couldn't very well talk it over in business
hours; and besides you're never at the Brewery till Monday, and the
matter's rather urgent.'

'Why don't you speak like that in Parliament?' the old man interposed.

'Because Parliament isn't my brother,' replied Mr. Andrew. 'You know,
Tom, you never quite took to my wife's family.'

'I'm not a match for fine ladies, Nan.'

'Well, Harriet would have taken to you, Tom, and will now, if you 'll let
her. Of course, it 's a pity if she 's ashamed of--hem! You found it out
about the Lymport people, Tom, and, you've kept the secret and respected
her feelings, and I thank you for it. Women are odd in those things, you
know. She mustn't imagine I 've heard a whisper. I believe it would kill
her.'

The old gentleman shook silently.

'Do you want me to travel over the kingdom, hawking her for the daughter
of a marquis?'

'Now, don't joke, Tom. I'm serious. Are you not a Radical at heart? Why
do you make such a set against the poor women? What do we spring from?'

'I take off my hat, Nan, when I see a cobbler's stall.'

'And I, Tom, don't care a rush who knows it. Homo--something; but we
never had much schooling. We 've thriven, and should help those we can.
We've got on in the world . . .'

'Wife come back from Lymport?' sneered Tom.

Andrew hurriedly, and with some confusion, explained that she had not
been able to go, on account of the child.

'Account of the child!' his brother repeated, working his chin
contemptuously. 'Sisters gone?'

'They're stopping with us,' said Andrew, reddening.

'So the tailor was left to the kites and the crows. Ah! hum!' and Tom
chuckled.

'You're angry with me, Tom, for coming here,' said Andrew. 'I see what it
is. Thought how it would be! You're offended, old Tom.'

'Come where you like,' returned Tom, 'the place is open. It's a fool that
hopes for peace anywhere. They sent a woman here to wait on me, this day
month.'

'That's a shame!' said Mr. Andrew, propitiatingly. 'Well, never mind,
Tom: the women are sometimes in the way.--Evan went down to bury his
father. He's there now. You wouldn't see him when he was at the Brewery,
Tom. He's--upon my honour! he's a good young fellow.'

'A fine young gentleman, I've no doubt, Nan.'

'A really good lad, Tom. No nonsense. I've come here to speak to you
about him.'

Mr. Andrew drew a letter from his pocket, pursuing: 'Just throw aside
your prejudices, and read this. It's a letter I had from him this
morning. But first I must tell you how the case stands.'

'Know more than you can tell me, Nan,' said Tom, turning over the flavour
of a gulp of his wine.

'Well, then, just let me repeat it. He has been capitally educated; he
has always been used to good society: well, we mustn't sneer at it: good
society's better than bad, you'll allow. He has refined tastes: well, you
wouldn't like to live among crossing-sweepers, Tom. He 's clever and
accomplished, can speak and write in three languages: I wish I had his
abilities. He has good manners: well, Tom, you know you like them as well
as anybody. And now--but read for yourself.'

'Yah!' went old Tom. 'The women have been playing the fool with him since
he was a baby. I read his rigmarole? No.'

Mr. Andrew shrugged his shoulders, and opened the letter, saying: 'Well,
listen'; and then he coughed, and rapidly skimmed the introductory part.
'Excuses himself for addressing me formally--poor boy! Circumstances have
altered his position towards the world found his father's affairs in a
bad state: only chance of paying off father's debts to undertake
management of business, and bind himself to so much a year. But there,
Tom, if you won't read it, you miss the poor young fellow's character. He
says that he has forgotten his station: fancied he was superior to trade,
but hates debt; and will not allow anybody to throw dirt at his father's
name, while he can work to clear it; and will sacrifice his pride. Come,
Tom, that's manly, isn't it? I call it touching, poor lad!'

Manly it may have been, but the touching part of it was a feature missed
in Mr. Andrew's hands. At any rate, it did not appear favourably to
impress Tom, whose chin had gathered its ominous puckers, as he inquired:

'What's the trade? he don't say.'

Andrew added, with a wave of the hand: 'Out of a sort of feeling for his
sisters--I like him for it. Now what I want to ask you, Tom, is, whether
we can't assist him in some way! Why couldn't we take him into our
office, and fix him there, eh? If he works well--we're both getting old,
and my brats are chicks--we might, by-and-by, give him a share.'

'Make a brewer of him? Ha! there'd be another mighty sacrifice for his
pride!'

'Come, come, Tom,' said Andrew, 'he's my wife's brother, and I'm yours;
and--there, you know what women are. They like to preserve appearances:
we ought to consider them.'

'Preserve appearances!' echoed Tom: 'ha! who'll do that for them better
than a tailor?'

Andrew was an impatient little man, fitter for a kind action than to
plead a cause. Jeering jarred on him; and from the moment his brother
began it, he was of small service to Evan. He flung back against the
partition of the compound, rattling it to the disturbance of many a quiet
digestion.

'Tom,' he cried, 'I believe you're a screw!'

'Never said I wasn't,' rejoined Tom, as he finished his glass. 'I 'm a
bachelor, and a person--you're married, and an object. I won't have the
tailor's family at my coat-tails.'

Do you mean to say, Tom, you don't like the young fellow? The Countess
says he's half engaged to an heiress; and he has a chance of
appointments--of course, nothing may come of them. But do you mean to
say, you don't like him for what he has done?'

Tom made his jaw disagreeably prominent. ''Fraid I'm guilty of that
crime.'

'And you that swear at people pretending to be above their station!'
exclaimed Andrew. 'I shall get in a passion. I can't stand this. Here,
waiter! what have I to pay?'

'Go,' cried the time-honoured guest of the Aurora to Jonathan advancing.

Andrew pressed the very roots of his hair back from his red forehead, and
sat upright and resolute, glancing at Tom. And now ensued a curious scene
of family blood. For no sooner did elderly Tom observe this bantam-like
demeanour of his brother, than he ruffled his feathers likewise, and
looked down on him, agitating his wig over a prodigious frown. Whereof
came the following sharp colloquy; Andrew beginning:

I 'll pay off the debts out of my own pocket.'

'You can make a greater fool of yourself, then?'

'He shan't be a tailor!'

'He shan't be a brewer!'

'I say he shall live like a gentleman!'

'I say he shall squat like a Turk!'

Bang went Andrew's hand on the table: 'I 've pledged my word, mind!'

Tom made a counter demonstration: 'And I'll have my way!'

'Hang it! I can be as eccentric as you,' said Andrew.

'And I as much a donkey as you, if I try hard,' said Tom.

Something of the cobbler's stall followed this; till waxing furious, Tom
sung out to Jonathan, hovering around them in watchful timidity, 'More
Port!' and the words immediately fell oily on the wrath of the brothers;
both commenced wiping their heads with their handkerchiefs the faces of
both emerged and met, with a half-laugh: and, severally determined to
keep to what they had spoken, there was a tacit accord between them to
drop the subject.

Like sunshine after smart rain, the Port shone on these brothers. Like a
voice from the pastures after the bellowing of the thunder, Andrew's
voice asked: 'Got rid of that twinge of the gout, Tom? Did you rub in
that ointment?' while Tom replied: 'Ay. How about that rheumatism of
yours? Have you tried that Indy oil?' receiving a like assurance.

The remainder of the Port ebbed in meditation and chance remarks. The bit
of storm had done them both good; and Tom especially--the cynical,
carping, grim old gentleman--was much improved by the nearer resemblance
of his manner to Andrew's.

Behind this unaffected fraternal concord, however, the fact that they
were pledged to a race in eccentricity, was present. They had been rivals
before; and anterior to the date of his marriage, Andrew had done odd
eclipsing things. But Andrew required prompting to it; he required to be
put upon his mettle. Whereas, it was more nature with Tom: nature and the
absence of a wife, gave him advantages over Andrew. Besides, he had his
character to maintain. He had said the word: and the first vanity of your
born eccentric is, that he shall be taken for infallible.

Presently Andrew ducked his head to mark the evening clouds flushing over
the court-yard of the Aurora.

'Time to be off, Tom,' he said: 'wife at home.'

'Ah!' Tom answered. 'Well, I haven't got to go to bed so early.'

'What an old rogue you are, Tom!' Andrew pushed his elbows forward on the
table amiably. 'Gad, we haven't drunk wine together since--by George!
we'll have another pint.'

'Many as you like,' said Tom.

Over the succeeding pint, Andrew, in whose veins the Port was merry,
favoured his brother with an imitation of Major Strike, and indicated his
dislike to that officer. Tom informed him that Major Strike was
speculating.

'The ass eats at my table, and treats me with contempt.'

'Just tell him that you're putting by the bones for him. He 'll want
'em.'

Then Andrew with another glance at the clouds, now violet on a grey sky,
said he must really be off. Upon which Tom observed: 'Don't come here
again.'

'You old rascal, Tom!' cried Andrew, swinging over the table: 'it's
quite jolly for us to be hob-a-nobbing together once more. 'Gad!--no, we
won't though! I promised--Harriet. Eh? What say, Tom?'

'Nother pint, Nan?'

Tom shook his head in a roguishly-cosy, irresistible way. Andrew, from a
shake of denial and resolve, fell into the same; and there sat the two
brothers--a jolly picture.

The hour was ten, when Andrew Cogglesby, comforted by Tom's remark, that
he, Tom, had a wig, and that he, Andrew, would have a wigging, left the
Aurora; and he left it singing a song. Tom Cogglesby still sat at his
table, holding before him Evan's letter, of which he had got possession;
and knocking it round and round with a stroke of the forefinger, to the
tune of, 'Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, 'pothecary, ploughboy, thief';
each profession being sounded as a corner presented itself to the point
of his nail. After indulging in this species of incantation for some
length of time, Tom Cogglesby read the letter from beginning to end, and
called peremptorily for pen, ink, and paper.



CHAPTER IX

THE COUNTESS IN LOW SOCIETY

By dint of stratagems worthy of a Court intrigue, the Countess de Saldar
contrived to traverse the streets of Lymport, and enter the house where
she was born, unsuspected and unseen, under cover of a profusion of lace
and veil and mantilla, which only her heroic resolve to keep her beauties
hidden from the profane townspeople could have rendered endurable beneath
the fervid summer sun. Dress in a foreign style she must, as without it
she lost that sense of superiority, which was the only comfort to her in
her tribulations. The period of her arrival was ten days subsequent to
the burial of her father. She had come in the coach, like any common
mortal, and the coachman, upon her request, had put her down at the
Governor's house, and the guard had knocked at the door, and the servant
had informed her that General Hucklebridge was not the governor of
Lymport, nor did Admiral Combleman then reside in the town; which
tidings, the coach then being out of sight, it did not disconcert the
Countess to hear; and she reached her mother, having, at least, cut off
communication with the object of conveyance.

The Countess kissed her mother, kissed Mrs. Fiske, and asked sharply for
Evan. Mrs. Fiske let her know that Evan was in the house.

'Where?' inquired the Countess. 'I have news of the utmost importance for
him. I must see him.'

'Where is he, aunt?' said Mrs. Fiske. 'In the shop, I think; I wonder he
did not see you passing, Louisa.'

The Countess went bolt down into a chair.

'Go to him, Jane,' said Mrs. Mel. 'Tell him Louisa is here, and don't
return.'

Mrs. Fiske departed, and the Countess smiled.

'Thank you, Mama! you know I never could bear that odious, vulgar little
woman. Oh, the heat! You talk of Portugal! And, oh! poor dear Papa! what
I have suffered!'

Flapping her laces for air, and wiping her eyes for sorrow, the Countess
poured a flood of sympathy into her mother's ears and then said:

'But you have made a great mistake, Mama, in allowing Evan to put his
foot into that place. He--beloved of an heiress! Why, if an enemy should
hear of it, it would ruin him--positively blast him--for ever. And that
she loves him I have proof positive. Yes; with all her frankness, the
little thing cannot conceal that from me now. She loves him! And I desire
you to guess, Mama, whether rivals will not abound? And what enemy so
much to be dreaded as a rival? And what revelation so awful as that he
has stood in a--in a--boutique?'

Mrs. Mel maintained her usual attitude for listening. It had occurred to
her that it might do no good to tell the grand lady, her daughter; of
Evan's resolution, so she simply said, 'It is discipline for him,' and
left her to speak a private word with the youth.

Timidly the Countess inspected the furniture of the apartment, taking
chills at the dingy articles she saw, in the midst of her heat. That she
should have sprung from this! The thought was painful; still she could
forgive Providence so much. But should it ever be known she had sprung
from this! Alas! she felt she never could pardon such a dire betrayal.
She had come in good spirits, but the mention of Evan's backsliding had
troubled her extremely, and though she did not say to herself, What was
the benefit resulting from her father's dying, if Evan would be so
base-minded? she thought the thing indefinitely, and was forming the
words on her mouth, One Harrington in a shop is equal to all! when Evan
appeared alone.

'Why, goodness gracious! where's your moustache?' cried the Countess.

'Gone the way of hair!' said Evan, coldly stooping to her forehead.

'Such a distinction!' the Countess continued, reproachfully. 'Why, mon
Dieu! one could hardly tell you; as you look now, from the very commonest
tradesman--if you were not rather handsome and something of a figure.
It's a disguise, Evan--do you know that?'

'And I 've parted with it--that 's all,' said Evan. 'No more disguises
for me!'

The Countess immediately took his arm, and walked with him to a window.
His face was certainly changed. Murmuring that the air of Lymport was bad
for him, and that he must leave it instantly, she bade him sit and attend
to what she was about to say.

While you have been here, degenerating, Evan, day by day--as you always
do out of my sight--degenerating! no less a word!--I have been slaving in
your interests. Yes; I have forced the Jocelyns socially to acknowledge
us. I have not slept; I have eaten bare morsels. Do abstinence and vigils
clear the wits? I know not! but indeed they have enabled me to do more in
a week than would suffice for a lifetime. Hark to me. I have discovered
Rose's secret. Si! It is so! Rose loves you. You blush; you blush like a
girl. She loves you, and you have let yourself be seen in a shop!
Contrast me the two things. Oh! in verity, dreadful as it is, one could
almost laugh. But the moment I lose sight of you, my instructions vanish
as quickly as that hair on your superior lip, which took such time to
perfect. Alas! you must grow it again immediately. Use any perfumer's
contrivance. Rowland! I have great faith in Rowland. Without him, I
believe, there would have been many bald women committing suicide! You
remember the bottle I gave to the Count de Villa Flor? "Countess," he
said to me, "you have saved this egg-shell from a crack by helping to
cover it"--for so he called his head--the top, you know, was beginning to
shine like an egg. And I do fear me he would have done it. Ah! you do not
conceive what the dread of baldness is! To a woman death--death is
preferable to baldness! Baldness is death! And a wig--a wig! Oh, horror!
total extinction is better than to rise again in a wig! But you are
young, and play with hair. But I was saying, I went to see the Jocelyns.
I was introduced to Sir Franks and his lady and the wealthy grandmother.
And I have an invitation for you, Evan--you unmannered boy, that you do
not bow! A gentle incline forward of the shoulders, and the eyes fixed
softly, your upper lids drooping triflingly, as if you thanked with
gentle sincerity, but were indifferent. Well, well, if you will not! An
invitation for you to spend part of the autumn at Beckley Court, the
ancestral domain, where there will be company the nobles of the land!
Consider that. You say it was bold in me to face them after that horrible
man committed us on board the vessel? A Harrington is anything but a
coward. I did go and because I am devoted to your interests. That very
morning, I saw announced in the paper, just beneath poor Andrew's hand,
as he held it up at the breakfast-table, reading it, I saw among the
deaths, Sir Abraham Harrington, of Torquay, Baronet, of quinsy! Twice
that good man has come to my rescue! Oh! I welcomed him as a piece of
Providence! I turned and said to Harriet, "I see they have put poor Papa
in the paper." Harriet was staggered. I took the paper from Andrew, and
pointed it to her. She has no readiness. She has had no foreign training.
She could not comprehend, and Andrew stood on tiptoe, and peeped. He has
a bad cough, and coughed himself black in the face. I attribute it to
excessive bad manners and his cold feelings. He left the room. I
reproached Harriet. But, oh! the singularity of the excellent fortune of
such an event at such a time! It showed that our Harrington-luck had not
forsaken us. I hurried to the Jocelyns instantly. Of course, it cleared
away any suspicions aroused in them by that horrible man on board the
vessel. And the tears I wept for Sir Abraham, Evan, in verity they were
tears of deep and sincere gratitude! What is your mouth knitting the
corners at? Are you laughing?'

Evan hastily composed his visage to the melancholy that was no
counterfeit in him just then.

'Yes,' continued the Countess, easily reassured, 'I shall ever feel a
debt to Sir Abraham Harrington, of Torquay. I dare say we are related to
him. At least he has done us more service than many a rich and titled
relative. No one supposes he would acknowledge poor Papa. I can forgive
him that, Evan!' The Countess pointed out her finger with mournful and
impressive majesty, 'As we look down on that monkey, people of rank and
consideration in society look on what poor dear Papa was.'

This was partly true, for Jacko sat on a chair, in his favourite
attitude, copied accurately from the workmen of the establishment at
their labour with needle and thread. Growing cognizant of the infamy of
his posture, the Countess begged Evan to drive him out of her sight, and
took a sniff at her smelling-bottle.

She went on: 'Now, dear Van, you would hear of your sweet Rose?'

'Not a word!' Evan hastily answered.

'Why, what does this indicate? Whims! Then you do love?'

'I tell you, Louisa, I don't want to hear a word of any of them,' said
Evan, with an angry gleam in his eyes. 'They are nothing to me, nor I to
them. I--my walk in life is not theirs.'

'Faint heart! faint heart!' the Countess lifted a proverbial forefinger.

'Thank heaven, I shall have the consolation of not going about, and
bowing and smirking like an impostor!' Evan exclaimed.

There was a wider intelligence in the Countess's arrested gaze than she
chose to fashion into speech.

'I knew,' she said, 'I knew how the air of this horrible Lymport would
act on you. But while I live, Evan, you shall not sink in the sludge.
You, with all the pains I have lavished on you! and with your
presence!--for you have a presence, so rare among young men in this
England! You, who have been to a Court, and interchanged bows with
duchesses, and I know not what besides--nay, I do not accuse you; but if
you had not been a mere boy, and an English boy-poor Eugenia herself
confessed to me that you had a look--a tender cleaving of the
underlids--that made her catch her hand to her heart sometimes: it
reminded her so acutely of false Belmarafa. Could you have had a greater
compliment than that? You shall not stop here another day!'

'True,' said Evan, 'for I'm going to London to-night.'

'Not to London,' the Countess returned, with a conquering glance, 'but to
Beckley Court-and with me.'

'To London, Louisa, with Mr. Goren.'

Again the Countess eyed him largely; but took, as it were, a side-path
from her broad thought, saying: 'Yes, fortunes are made in London, if you
would they should be rapid.'

She meditated. At that moment Dandy knocked at the door, and called
outside: 'Please, master, Mr. Goren says there's a gentleman in the
shop-wants to see you.'

'Very well,' replied Evan, moving. He was swung violently round.

The Countess had clutched him by the arm. A fearful expression was on her
face.

'Whither do you go?' she said.

'To the shop, Louisa.'

Too late to arrest the villanous word, she pulled at him. 'Are you quite
insane? Consent to be seen by a gentleman there? What has come to you?
You must be lunatic! Are we all to be utterly ruined--disgraced?'

'Is my mother to starve?' said Evan.

'Absurd rejoinder! No! You should have sold everything here before this.
She can live with Harriet--she--once out of this horrible element--she
would not show it. But, Evan, you are getting away from me: you are not
going?--speak!'

'I am going,' said Evan.

The Countess clung to him, exclaiming: 'Never, while I have the power to
detain you!' but as he was firm and strong, she had recourse to her
woman's aids, and burst into a storm of sobs on his shoulder--a scene of
which Mrs. Mel was, for some seconds, a composed spectator.

'What 's the matter now?' said Mrs. Mel.

Evan impatiently explained the case. Mrs. Mel desired her daughter to
avoid being ridiculous, and making two fools in her family; and at the
same time that she told Evan there was no occasion for him to go,
contrived, with a look, to make the advice a command. He, in that state
of mind when one takes bitter delight in doing an abhorred duty, was
hardly willing to be submissive; but the despair of the Countess reduced
him, and for her sake he consented to forego the sacrifice of his pride
which was now his sad, sole pleasure. Feeling him linger, the Countess
relaxed her grasp. Hers were tears that dried as soon as they had served
their end; and, to give him the full benefit of his conduct, she said: 'I
knew Evan would be persuaded by me.'

Evan pitifully pressed her hand, and sighed.

'Tea is on the table down-stairs,' said Mrs. Mel. 'I have cooked
something for you, Louisa. Do you sleep here to-night?'

'Can I tell you, Mama?' murmured the Countess. 'I am dependent on our
Evan.'

'Oh! well, we will eat first,' said Mrs. Mel, and they went to the table
below, the Countess begging her mother to drop titles in designating her
to the servants, which caused Mrs. Mel to say:

'There is but one. I do the cooking'; and the Countess, ever disposed to
flatter and be suave, even when stung by a fact or a phrase, added:

'And a beautiful cook you used to be, dear Mama!'

At the table, awaiting them, sat Mrs. Wishaw, Mrs. Fiske, and Mr. Goren,
who soon found themselves enveloped in the Countess's graciousness. Mr.
Goren would talk of trade, and compare Lymport business with London, and
the Countess, loftily interested in his remarks, drew him out to disgust
her brother. Mrs. Wishaw, in whom the Countess at once discovered a
frivolous pretentious woman of the moneyed trading class, she treated as
one who was alive to society, and surveyed matters from a station in the
world, leading her to think that she tolerated Mr. Goren, as a
lady-Christian of the highest rank should tolerate the insects that toil
for us. Mrs. Fiske was not so tractable, for Mrs. Fiske was hostile and
armed. Mrs. Fiske adored the great Mel, and she had never loved Louisa.
Hence, she scorned Louisa on account of her late behaviour toward her
dead parent. The Countess saw through her, and laboured to be friendly
with her, while she rendered her disagreeable in the eyes of Mrs. Wishaw,
and let Mrs. Wishaw perceive that sympathy was possible between them;
manoeuvring a trifle too delicate, perhaps, for the people present, but
sufficient to blind its keen-witted author to the something that was
being concealed from herself, of which something, nevertheless, her
senses apprehensively warned her: and they might have spoken to her wits,
but that mortals cannot, unaided, guess, or will not, unless struck in
the face by the fact, credit, what is to their minds the last horror.

'I came down in the coach, quite accidental, with this gentleman,' said
Mrs. Wishaw, fanning a cheek and nodding at Mr. Goren. 'I'm an old flame
of dear Mel's. I knew him when he was an apprentice in London. Now,
wasn't it odd? Your mother--I suppose I must call you "my lady"?'

The Countess breathed a tender 'Spare me,' with a smile that added,
'among friends!'

Mrs. Wishaw resumed: 'Your mother was an old flame of this gentleman's, I
found out. So there were two old flames, and I couldn't help thinking!
But I was so glad to have seen dear Mel once more:

'Ah!' sighed the Countess.

'He was always a martial-looking man, and laid out, he was quite
imposing. I declare, I cried so, as it reminded me of when I couldn't
have him, for he had nothing but his legs and arms--and I married Wishaw.
But it's a comfort to think I have been of some service to dear, dear
Mel! for Wishaw 's a man of accounts and payments; and I knew Mel had
cloth from him, and, the lady suggested bills delayed, with two or three
nods, 'you know! and I'll do my best for his son.'

'You are kind,' said the Countess, smiling internally at the vulgar
creature's misconception of Evan's requirements.

'Did he ever talk much about Mary Fence?' asked Mrs. Wishaw. '"Polly
Fence," he used to say, "sweet Polly Fence!"'

'Oh! I think so. Frequently,' observed the Countess.

Mrs. Fiske primmed her mouth. She had never heard the great Mel allude to
the name of Fence.

The Goren-croak was heard

'Painters have painted out "Melchisedec" this afternoon. Yes,--ah! In and
out-as the saying goes.'

Here was an opportunity to mortify the Countess.

Mrs. Fiske placidly remarked: 'Have we the other put up in its stead? It
's shorter.'

A twinge of weakness had made Evan request that the name of Evan
Harrington should not decorate the shopfront till he had turned his back
on it, for a time. Mrs. Mel crushed her venomous niece.

'What have you to do with such things? Shine in your own affairs first,
Ann, before you meddle with others.'

Relieved at hearing that 'Melchisedec' was painted out, and unsuspicious
of the announcement that should replace it, the Countess asked Mrs.
Wishaw if she thought Evan like her dear Papa.

'So like,' returned the lady, 'that I would not be alone with him yet,
for worlds. I should expect him to be making love to me: for, you know,
my dear--I must be familiar--Mel never could be alone with you, without!
It was his nature. I speak of him before marriage. But, if I can trust
myself with him, I shall take charge of Mr. Evan, and show him some
London society.'

'That is indeed kind,' said the Countess, glad of a thick veil for the
utterance of her contempt. 'Evan, though--I fear--will be rather engaged.
His friends, the Jocelyns of Beckley Court, will--I fear--hardly dispense
with him and Lady Splenders--you know her? the Marchioness of Splenders?
No?--by repute, at least: a most beautiful and most fascinating woman;
report of him alone has induced her to say that Evan must and shall form
a part of her autumnal gathering at Splenders Castle. And how he is to
get out of it, I cannot tell. But I am sure his multitudinous engagements
will not prevent his paying due court to Mistress Wishaw.'

As the Countess intended, Mistress Wishaw's vanity was reproved, and her
ambition excited: a pretty doublestroke, only possible to dexterous
players.

The lady rejoined that she hoped so, she was sure; and forthwith (because
she suddenly seemed to possess him more than his son), launched upon
Mel's incomparable personal attractions. This caused the Countess to
enlarge upon Evan's vast personal prospects. They talked across each
other a little, till the Countess remembered her breeding, allowed Mrs.
Wishaw to run to an end in hollow exclamations, and put a finish to the
undeclared controversy, by a traverse of speech, as if she were taking up
the most important subject of their late colloquy. 'But Evan is not in
his own hands--he is in the hands of a lovely young woman, I must tell
you. He belongs to her, and not to us. You have heard of Rose Jocelyn,
the celebrated heiress?'

'Engaged?' Mrs. Wishaw whispered aloud.

The Countess, an adept in the lie implied--practised by her, that she
might not subject herself to future punishment (in which she was so
devout a believer, that she condemned whole hosts to it)--deeply smiled.

'Really!' said Mrs. Wishaw, and was about to inquire why Evan, with
these brilliant expectations, could think of trade and tailoring, when
the young man, whose forehead had been growing black, jumped up, and
quitted them; thus breaking the harmony of the table; and as the Countess
had said enough, she turned the conversation to the always welcome theme
of low society. She broached death and corpses; and became extremely
interesting, and very sympathetic: the only difference between the
ghostly anecdotes she related, and those of the other ladies, being that
her ghosts were all of them titled, and walked mostly under the burden of
a coronet. For instance, there was the Portuguese Marquis de Col. He had
married a Spanish wife, whose end was mysterious. Undressing, on the
night of the anniversary of her death, and on the point of getting into
bed, he beheld the dead woman lying on her back before him. All night
long he had to sleep with this freezing phantom! Regularly, every fresh
anniversary, he had to endure the same penance, no matter where he might
be, or in what strange bed. On one occasion, when he took the live for
the dead, a curious thing occurred, which the Countess scrupled less to
relate than would men to hint at. Ghosts were the one childish enjoyment
Mrs. Mel allowed herself, and she listened to her daughter intently,
ready to cap any narrative; but Mrs. Fiske stopped the flood.

'You have improved on Peter Smithers, Louisa,' she said.

The Countess turned to her mildly.

'You are certainly thinking of Peter Smithers,' Mrs. Fiske continued,
bracing her shoulders. 'Surely, you remember poor Peter, Louisa? An old
flame of your own! He was going to kill himself, but married a Devonshire
woman, and they had disagreeables, and SHE died, and he was undressing,
and saw her there in the bed, and wouldn't get into it, and had the
mattress, and the curtains, and the counterpanes, and everything burnt.
He told us it himself. You must remember it, Louisa?'

The Countess remembered nothing of the sort. No doubt could exist of its
having been the Portuguese Marquis de Col, because he had confided to her
the whole affair, and indeed come to her, as his habit was, to ask her
what he could possibly do, under the circumstances. If Mrs. Fiske's
friend, who married the Devonshire person, had seen the same thing, the
coincidence was yet more extraordinary than the case. Mrs. Fiske said it
assuredly was, and glanced at her aunt, who, as the Countess now rose,
declaring she must speak to Evan, chid Mrs. Fiske, and wished her and
Peter Smithers at the bottom of the sea.

'No, no, Mama,' said the Countess, laughing, 'that would hardly be
proper,' and before Mrs. Fiske could reply, escaped to complain to Evan
of the vulgarity of those women.

She was not prepared for the burst of wrath with which Evan met her.
'Louisa,' said he, taking her wrist sternly, 'you have done a thing I
can't forgive. I find it hard to bear disgrace myself: I will not consent
to bring it upon others. Why did you dare to couple Miss Jocelyn's name
with mine?'

The Countess gave him out her arm's length. 'Speak on, Van,' she said,
admiring him with a bright gaze.

'Answer me, Louisa; and don't take me for a fool any more,' he pursued.
'You have coupled Miss Jocelyn's name with mine, in company, and I insist
now upon your giving me your promise to abstain from doing it anywhere,
before anybody.'

'If she saw you at this instant, Van,' returned the incorrigible
Countess, 'would she desire it, think you? Oh! I must make you angry
before her, I see that! You have your father's frown. You surpass him,
for your delivery is more correct, and equally fluent. And if a woman is
momentarily melted by softness in a man, she is for ever subdued by
boldness and bravery of mien.'

Evan dropped her hand. 'Miss Jocelyn has done me the honour to call me
her friend. That was in other days.' His lip quivered. 'I shall not see
Miss Jocelyn again. Yes; I would lay down my life for her; but that's
idle talk. No such chance will ever come to me. But I can save her from
being spoken of in alliance with me, and what I am, and I tell you,
Louisa, I will not have it.' Saying which, and while he looked harshly at
her, wounded pride bled through his eyes.

She was touched. 'Sit down, dear; I must explain to you, and make you
happy against your will,' she said, in another voice, and an English
accent. 'The mischief is done, Van. If you do not want Rose Jocelyn to
love you, you must undo it in your own way. I am not easily deceived. On
the morning I went to her house in town, she took me aside, and spoke to
me. Not a confession in words. The blood in her cheeks, when I mentioned
you, did that for her. Everything about you she must know--how you bore
your grief, and all. And not in her usual free manner, but timidly, as if
she feared a surprise, or feared to be wakened to the secret in her bosom
she half suspects--"Tell him!" she said, "I hope he will not forget me."'

The Countess was interrupted by a great sob; for the picture of frank
Rose Jocelyn changed, and soft, and, as it were, shadowed under a veil of
bashful regard for him, so filled the young man with sorrowful
tenderness, that he trembled, and was as a child.

Marking the impression she had produced on him, and having worn off that
which he had produced on her, the Countess resumed the art in her style
of speech, easier to her than nature.

'So the sweetest of Roses may be yours, dear Van; and you have her in a
gold setting, to wear on your heart. Are you not enviable? I will
not--no, I will not tell you she is perfect. I must fashion the sweet
young creature. Though I am very ready to admit that she is much improved
by this--shall I call it, desired consummation?'

Evan could listen no more. Such a struggle was rising in his breast: the
effort to quench what the Countess had so shrewdly kindled; passionate
desire to look on Rose but for one lightning flash: desire to look on
her, and muffled sense of shame twin-born with it: wild love and leaden
misery mixed: dead hopelessness and vivid hope. Up to the neck in
Purgatory, but his soul saturated with visions of Bliss! The fair orb of
Love was all that was wanted to complete his planetary state, and aloft
it sprang, showing many faint, fair tracts to him, and piling huge
darknesses.

As if in search of something, he suddenly went from the room.

'I have intoxicated the poor boy,' said the Countess, and consulted an
attitude by the evening light in a mirror. Approving the result, she rang
for her mother, and sat with her till dark; telling her she could not and
would not leave her dear Mama that night. At the supper-table Evan did
not appear, and Mr. Goren, after taking counsel of Mrs. Mel, dispersed
the news that Evan was off to London. On the road again, with a purse
just as ill-furnished, and in his breast the light that sometimes leads
gentlemen, as well as ladies, astray.



CHAPTER X

MY GENTLEMAN ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Near a milestone, under the moonlight, crouched the figure of a woman,
huddled with her head against her knees, and careless hair falling to the
summer's dust. Evan came upon this sight within a few miles of
Fallowfield. At first he was rather startled, for he had inherited
superstitious emotions from his mother, and the road was lone, the moon
full. He went up to her and spoke a gentle word, which provoked no reply.
He ventured to put his hand on her shoulder, continuing softly to address
her. She was flesh and blood. Evan stooped his head to catch a whisper
from her mouth, but nothing save a heavier fall of the breath she took,
as of one painfully waking, was heard.

A misery beyond our own is a wholesome picture for youth, and though we
may not for the moment compare the deep with the lower deep, we, if we
have a heart for outer sorrows, can forget ourselves in it. Evan had just
been accusing the heavens of conspiracy to disgrace him. Those patient
heavens had listened, as is their wont. They had viewed and had not been
disordered by his mental frenzies. It is certainly hard that they do not
come down to us, and condescend to tell us what they mean, and be
dumb-foundered by the perspicuity of our arguments the argument, for
instance, that they have not fashioned us for the science of the shears,
and do yet impel us to wield them. Nevertheless, they to whom mortal life
has ceased to be a long matter perceive that our appeals for conviction
are answered, now and then very closely upon the call. When we have cast
off the scales of hope and fancy, and surrender our claims on mad chance,
it is given us to see that some plan is working out: that the heavens,
icy as they are to the pangs of our blood, have been throughout speaking
to our souls; and, according to the strength there existing, we learn to
comprehend them. But their language is an element of Time, whom primarily
we have to know.

Evan Harrington was young. He wished not to clothe the generation. What
was to the remainder of the exiled sons of Adam simply the brand of
expulsion from Paradise, was to him hell. In his agony, anything less
than an angel, soft-voiced in his path, would not have satisfied the poor
boy, and here was this wretched outcast, and instead of being relieved,
he was to act the reliever!

Striving to rouse the desolate creature, he shook her slightly. She now
raised her head with a slow, gradual motion, like that of a wax-work,
showing a white young face, tearless,-dreadfully drawn at the lips. After
gazing at him, she turned her head mechanically to her shoulder, as to
ask him why he touched her. He withdrew his hand, saying:

'Why are you here? Pardon me; I want, if possible, to help you.'

A light sprang in her eyes. She jumped from the stone, and ran forward a
step or two, with a gasp:

'Oh, my God! I want to go and drown myself.'

Evan lingered behind her till he saw her body sway, and in a fit of
trembling she half fell on his outstretched arm. He led her to the stone,
not knowing what on earth to do with her. There was no sign of a house
near; they were quite solitary; to all his questions she gave an
unintelligible moan. He had not the heart to leave her, so, taking a
sharp seat on a heap of flints, thus possibly furnishing future
occupation for one of his craftsmen, he waited, and amused himself by
marking out diagrams with his stick in the thick dust.

His thoughts were far away, when he heard, faintly uttered:

'Why do you stop here?'

'To help you.'

'Please don't. Let me be. I can't be helped.'

'My good creature,' said Evan, 'it 's quite impossible that I should
leave you in this state. Tell me where you were going when your illness
seized you?'

'I was going,' she commenced vacantly, 'to the sea--the water,' she
added, with a shivering lip.

The foolish youth asked her if she could be cold on such a night.

'No, I'm not cold,' she replied, drawing closer over her lap the ends of
a shawl which would in that period have been thought rather gaudy for her
station.

'You were going to Lymport?'

'Yes,--Lymport's nearest, I think.'

'And why were you out travelling at this hour?'

She dropped her head, and began rocking to right and left.

While they talked the noise of waggon-wheels was heard approaching. Evan
went into the middle of the road, and beheld a covered waggon, and a
fellow whom he advanced to meet, plodding a little to the rear of the
horses. He proved kindly. He was a farmer's man, he said, and was at that
moment employed in removing the furniture of the farmer's son, who had
failed as a corn-chandler in Lymport, to Hillford, which he expected to
reach about morn. He answered Evan's request that he would afford the
young woman conveyance as far as Fallowfield:

'Tak' her in? That I will.

'She won't hurt the harses,' he pursued, pointing his whip at the
vehicle: 'there's my mate, Gearge Stoakes, he's in there, snorin' his
turn. Can't you hear 'n asnorin' thraugh the wheels? I can; I've been
laughin'! He do snore that loud-Gearge do!'

Proceeding to inform Evan how George Stokes had snored in that
characteristic manner from boyhood, ever since he and George had slept in
a hayloft together; and how he, kept wakeful and driven to distraction by
George Stokes' nose, had been occasionally compelled, in sheer
self-defence, madly to start up and hold that pertinacious alarum in
tight compression between thumb and forefinger; and how George Stokes,
thus severely handled, had burst his hold with a tremendous snort, as big
as a bull, and had invariably uttered the exclamation, 'Hulloa!--same to
you, my lad!' and rolled over to snore as fresh as ever;--all this with
singular rustic comparisons, racy of the soil, and in raw Hampshire
dialect, the waggoner came to a halt opposite the stone, and, while Evan
strode to assist the girl, addressed himself to the great task of
arousing the sturdy sleeper and quieting his trumpet, heard by all ears
now that the accompaniment of the wheels was at an end.

George, violently awakened, complained that it was before his time, to
which he was true; and was for going off again with exalted contentment,
though his heels had been tugged, and were dangling some length out of
the machine; but his comrade, with a determined blow of the lungs, gave
another valiant pull, and George Stokes was on his legs, marvelling at
the world and man. Evan had less difficulty with the girl. She rose to
meet him, put up her arms for him to clasp her waist, whispering sharply
in an inward breath: 'What are you going to do with me?' and indifferent
to his verbal response, trustingly yielded her limbs to his guidance. He
could see blood on her bitten underlip; as, with the help of the
waggoner, he lifted her on the mattress, backed by a portly bundle, which
the sagacity of Mr. Stokes had selected for his couch.

The waggoner cracked his whip, laughing at George Stokes, who yawned and
settled into a composed ploughswing, without asking questions; apparently
resolved to finish his nap on his legs.

'Warn't he like that Myzepper chap, I see at the circus, bound athert
gray mare!' chuckled the waggoner. 'So he 'd 'a gone on, had ye 'a let
'n. No wulves waddn't wake Gearge till he 'd slept it out. Then he 'd
say, "marnin'!" to 'm. Are ye 'wake now, Gearge?'

The admirable sleeper preferred to be a quiet butt, and the waggoner
leisurely exhausted the fun that was to be had out of him; returning to
it with a persistency that evinced more concentration than variety in his
mind. At last Evan said: 'Your pace is rather slow. They'll be shut up in
Fallowfield. I 'll go on ahead. You'll find me at one of the inns-the
Green Dragon.'

In return for this speech, the waggoner favoured him with a stare,
followed by the exclamation:

'Oh, no! dang that!'

'Why, what's the matter?' quoth Evan.

'You en't goin' to be off, for to leave me and Gearge in the lurch there,
with that ther' young woman, in that ther' pickle!' returned the
waggoner.

Evan made an appeal to his reason, but finding that impregnable, he
pulled out his scanty purse to guarantee his sincerity with an offer of
pledgemoney. The waggoner waved it aside. He wanted no money, he said.

'Look heer,' he went on; 'if you're for a start, I tells ye plain, I
chucks that ther' young woman int' the road.'

Evan bade him not to be a brute.

'Nark and crop!' the waggoner doggedly ejaculated.

Very much surprised that a fellow who appeared sound at heart, should
threaten to behave so basely, Evan asked an explanation: upon which the
waggoner demanded to know what he had eyes for: and as this query failed
to enlighten the youth, he let him understand that he was a man of family
experience, and that it was easy to tell at a glance that the complaint
the young woman laboured under was one common to the daughters of Eve. He
added that, should an emergency arise, he, though a family man, would be
useless: that he always vacated the premises while those incidental
scenes were being enacted at home; and that for him and George Stokes to
be left alone with the young woman, why they would be of no more service
to her than a couple of babies newborn themselves. He, for his part, he
assured Evan, should take to his heels, and relinquish waggon, and
horses, and all; while George probably would stand and gape; and the end
of it would be, they would all be had up for murder. He diverged from the
alarming prospect, by a renewal of the foregoing alternative to the
gentleman who had constituted himself the young woman's protector. If he
parted company with them, they would immediately part company with the
young woman, whose condition was evident.

'Why, couldn't you tall that?' said the waggoner, as Evan, tingling at
the ears, remained silent.

'I know nothing of such things,' he answered, hastily, like one hurt.

I have to repeat the statement, that he was a youth, and a modest one. He
felt unaccountably, unreasonably, but horridly, ashamed. The thought of
his actual position swamped the sickening disgust at tailordom. Worse,
then, might happen to us in this extraordinary world! There was something
more abhorrent than sitting with one's legs crossed, publicly stitching,
and scoffed at! He called vehemently to the waggoner to whip the horses,
and hurry ahead into Fallowfield; but that worthy, whatever might be his
dire alarms, had a regular pace, that was conscious of no spur: the reply
of 'All right!' satisfied him at least; and Evan's chaste sighs for the
appearance of an assistant petticoat round a turn of the road, were
offered up duly, to the measure of the waggoner's steps.

Suddenly the waggoner came to a halt, and said 'Blest if that Gearge
bain't a snorin' on his pins!'

Evan lingered by him with some curiosity, while the waggoner thumped his
thigh to, 'Yes he be! no he bain't!' several times, in eager hesitation.

'It's a fellow calling from the downs,' said Evan.

'Ay, so!' responded the waggoner. 'Dang'd if I didn't think 'twere that
Gearge of our'n. Hark awhile.'

At a repetition of the call, the waggoner stopped his team. After a few
minutes, a man appeared panting on the bank above them, down which he ran
precipitately, knocked against Evan, apologized with the little breath
that remained to him, and then held his hand as to entreat a hearing.
Evan thought him half-mad; the waggoner was about to imagine him the
victim of a midnight assault. He undeceived them by requesting, in rather
flowery terms, conveyance on the road and rest for his limbs. It being
explained to him that the waggon was already occupied, he comforted
himself aloud with the reflection that it was something to be on the road
again for one who had been belated, lost, and wandering over the downs
for the last six hours.

'Walcome to git in, when young woman gits out,' said the waggoner. 'I'll
gi' ye my sleep on t' Hillford.'

'Thanks, worthy friend,' returned the new comer. 'The state of the case
is this--I'm happy to take from humankind whatsoever I can get. If this
gentleman will accept of my company, and my legs hold out, all will yet
be well.'

Though he did not wear a petticoat, Evan was not sorry to have him. Next
to the interposition of the Gods, we pray for human fellowship when we
are in a mess. So he mumbled politely, dropped with him a little to the
rear, and they all stepped out to the crack of the waggoner's whip.

'Rather a slow pace,' said Evan, feeling bound to converse.

'Six hours on the downs makes it extremely suitable to me,' rejoined the
stranger,

'You lost your way?'

'I did, sir. Yes; one does not court those desolate regions wittingly. I
am for life and society. The embraces of Diana do not agree with my
constitution. If classics there be who differ from me, I beg them to take
six hours on the downs alone with the moon, and the last prospect of
bread and cheese, and a chaste bed, seemingly utterly extinguished. I am
cured of my romance. Of course, when I say bread and cheese, I speak
figuratively. Food is implied.'

Evan stole a glance at his companion.

'Besides,' the other continued, with an inflexion of grandeur, 'for a man
accustomed to his hunters, it is, you will confess, unpleasant--I speak'
hypothetically--to be reduced to his legs to that extent that it strikes
him shrewdly he will run them into stumps.'

The stranger laughed.

The fair lady of the night illumined his face, like one who recognized a
subject. Evan thought he knew the voice. A curious struggle therein
between native facetiousness and an attempt at dignity, appeared to Evan
not unfamiliar; and the egregious failure of ambition and triumph of the
instinct, helped him to join, the stranger in his mirth.

'Jack Raikes?' he said: 'surely?'

'The man!' it was answered to him. 'But you? and near our old
school--Viscount Harrington? These marvels occur, you see--we meet again
by night.'

Evan, with little gratification at the meeting, fell into their former
comradeship; tickled by a recollection of his old schoolfellow's
India-rubber mind.

Mr. Raikes stood about a head under him. He had extremely mobile
features; thick, flexible eyebrows; a loose, voluble mouth; a ridiculous
figure on a dandified foot. He represented to you one who was rehearsing
a part he wished to act before the world, and was not aware that he took
the world into his confidence.

How he had come there his elastic tongue explained in tropes and puns and
lines of dramatic verse. His patrimony spent, he at once believed himself
an actor, and he was hissed off the stage of a provincial theatre.

'Ruined, the last ignominy endured, I fled from the gay vistas of the
Bench--for they live who would thither lead me! and determined, the day
before the yesterday--what think'st thou? why to go boldly, and offer
myself as Adlatus to blessed old Cudford! Yes! a little Latin is all that
remains to me, and I resolved, like the man I am, to turn, hic, hac, hoc,
into bread and cheese, and beer: Impute nought foreign to me, in the
matter of pride.'

'Usher in our old school--poor old Jack!' exclaimed Evan.

'Lieutenant in the Cudford Academy!' the latter rejoined. 'I walked the
distance from London. I had my interview with the respected principal. He
gave me of mutton nearest the bone, which, they say, is sweetest; and on
sweet things you should not regale in excess. Endymion watched the sheep
that bred that mutton! He gave me the thin beer of our boyhood, that I
might the more soberly state my mission. That beer, my friend, was brewed
by one who wished to form a study for pantomimic masks. He listened with
the gravity which is all his own to the recital of my career; he
pleasantly compared me to Phaethon, congratulated the river Thames at my
not setting it on fire in my rapid descent, and extended to me the three
fingers of affectionate farewell. "You an usher, a rearer of youth, Mr.
Raikes? Oh, no! Oh, no!" That was all I could get out of him. 'Gad! he
might have seen that I didn't joke with the mutton-bone. If I winced at
the beer it was imperceptible. Now a man who can do that is what I call a
man in earnest.'

'You've just come from Cudford?' said Evan.

'Short is the tale, though long the way, friend Harrington. From Bodley
is ten miles to Beckley. I walked them. From Beckley is fifteen miles to
Fallowfield. Them I was traversing, when, lo! near sweet eventide a fair
horsewoman riding with her groom at her horse's heels. "Lady," says I,
addressing her, as much out of the style of the needy as possible, "will
you condescend to direct me to Fallowfield?"--"Are you going to the
match?" says she. I answered boldly that I was. "Beckley's in," says she,
"and you'll be in time to see them out, if you cut across the downs
there." I lifted my hat--a desperate measure, for the brim won't bear
much--but honour to women though we perish. She bowed: I cut across the
downs. In fine, Harrington, old boy, I've been wandering among those
downs for the last seven or eight hours. I was on the point of turning my
back on the road for the twentieth time, I believe when I heard your
welcome vehicular music, and hailed you; and I ask you, isn't it luck for
a fellow who hasn't got a penny in his pocket, and is as hungry as five
hundred hunters, to drop on an old friend like this?'

Evan answered with the question:

'Where was it you said you met the young lady?'

'In the first place, O Amadis! I never said she was young. You're on the
scent, I see.'

Nursing the fresh image of his darling in his heart's recesses, Evan, as
they entered Fallowfield, laid the state of his purse before Jack, and
earned anew the epithet of Amadis, when it came to be told that the
occupant of the waggon was likewise one of its pensioners.

Sleep had long held its reign in Fallowfield. Nevertheless, Mr. Raikes,
though blind windows alone looked on him, and nought foreign was to be
imputed to him in the matter of pride, had become exceedingly solicitous
concerning his presentation to the inhabitants of that quiet little
country town; and while Evan and--the waggoner consulted the former with
regard to the chances of procuring beds and supper, the latter as to his
prospect of beer and a comfortable riddance of the feminine burden
weighing on them all--Mr. Raikes was engaged in persuading his hat to
assume something of the gentlemanly polish of its youth, and might have
been observed now and then furtively catching up a leg to be dusted. Ere
the wheels of the waggon stopped he had gained that ease of mind which
the knowledge that you have done all a man may do and circumstances
warrant, establishes. Capacities conscious of their limits may repose
even proudly when they reach them; and, if Mr. Raikes had not quite the
air of one come out of a bandbox, he at least proved to the discerning
intelligence that he knew what sort of manner befitted that happy
occasion, and was enabled by the pains he had taken to glance with a
challenge at the sign of the hostelry, under which they were now ranked,
and from which, though the hour was late, and Fallowfield a singularly
somnolent little town, there issued signs of life approaching to
festivity.



CHAPTER XI

DOINGS AT AN INN

What every traveller sighs to find, was palatably furnished by the Green
Dragon of Fallowfield--a famous inn, and a constellation for wandering
coachmen. There pleasant smiles seasoned plenty, and the bill was gilded
in a manner unknown to our days. Whoso drank of the ale of the Green
Dragon kept in his memory a place apart for it. The secret, that to give
a warm welcome is the breath of life to an inn, was one the Green Dragon
boasted, even then, not to share with many Red Lions, or Cocks of the
Morning, or Kings' Heads, or other fabulous monsters; and as if to show
that when you are in the right track you are sure to be seconded, there
was a friend of the Green Dragon, who, on a particular night of the year,
caused its renown to enlarge to the dimensions of a miracle. But that,
for the moment, is my secret.

Evan and Jack were met in the passage by a chambermaid. Before either of
them could speak, she had turned and fled, with the words:

'More coming!' which, with the addition of 'My goodness me!' were echoed
by the hostess in her recess. Hurried directions seemed to be consequent,
and then the hostess sallied out, and said, with a curtsey:

'Please to step in, gentlemen. This is the room, tonight.'

Evan lifted his hat; and bowing, requested to know whether they could
have a supper and beds.

'Beds, Sir!' cried the hostess. 'What am I to do for beds! Yes, beds
indeed you may have, but bed-rooms--if you ask for them, it really is
more than I can supply you with. I have given up my own. I sleep with my
maid Jane to-night.'

'Anything will do for us, madam,' replied Evan, renewing his foreign
courtesy. 'But there is a poor young woman outside.'

'Another!' The hostess instantly smiled down her inhospitable outcry.

'She,' said Evan, 'must have a room to herself. She is ill.'

'Must is must, sir,' returned the gracious hostess. 'But I really haven't
the means.'

'You have bed-rooms, madam?'

'Every one of them engaged, sir.'

'By ladies, madam?'

'Lord forbid, Sir!' she exclaimed with the honest energy of a woman who
knew her sex.

Evan bade Jack go and assist the waggoner to bring in the girl. Jack, who
had been all the time pulling at his wristbands, and settling his
coat-collar by the dim reflection of a window of the bar, departed,
after, on his own authority, assuring the hostess that fever was not the
young woman's malady, as she protested against admitting fever into her
house, seeing that she had to consider her guests.

'We're open to all the world to-night, except fever,' said the hostess.
'Yes,' she rejoined to Evan's order that the waggoner and his mate should
be supplied with ale, 'they shall have as much as they can drink,' which
is not a speech usual at inns, when one man gives an order for others,
but Evan passed it by, and politely begged to be shown in to one of the
gentlemen who had engaged bedrooms.

'Oh! if you can persuade any of them, sir, I'm sure I've nothing to say,'
observed the hostess. 'Pray, don't ask me to stand by and back it, that's
all.'

Had Evan been familiar with the Green Dragon, he would have noticed that
the landlady, its presiding genius, was stiffer than usual; the rosy
smile was more constrained, as if a great host had to be embraced, and
were trying it to the utmost stretch. There was, however, no asperity
about her, and when she had led him to the door he was to enter to prefer
his suit, and she had asked whether the young woman was quite common, and
he had replied that he had picked her up on the road, and that she was
certainly poor, the hostess said:

'I 'm sure you're a very good gentleman, sir, and if I could spare your
asking at all, I would.'

With that she went back to encounter Mr. Raikes and his charge, and prime
the waggoner and his mate.

A noise of laughter and talk was stilled gradually, as Evan made his bow
into a spacious room, wherein, as the tops of pines are seen swimming on
the morning mist, about a couple of dozen guests of divers conditions sat
partially revealed through wavy clouds of tobacco-smoke. By their
postures, which Evan's appearance by no means disconcerted, you read in a
glance men who had been at ease for so many hours that they had no
troubles in the world save the two ultimate perplexities of the British
Sybarite, whose bed of roses is harassed by the pair of problems: first,
what to do with his legs; secondly, how to imbibe liquor with the
slightest possible derangement of those members subordinate to his upper
structure. Of old the Sybarite complained. Not so our self-helpful
islanders. Since they could not, now that work was done and jollity the
game, take off their legs, they got away from them as far as they might,
in fashions original or imitative: some by thrusting them out at full
length; some by cramping them under their chairs: while some, taking
refuge in a mental effort, forgot them, a process to be recommended if it
did not involve occasional pangs of consciousness to the legs of their
neighbours. We see in our cousins West of the great water, who are said
to exaggerate our peculiarities, beings labouring under the same
difficulty, and intent on its solution. As to the second problem: that of
drinking without discomposure to the subservient limbs: the company
present worked out this republican principle ingeniously, but in a manner
beneath the attention of the Muse. Let Clio record that mugs and glasses,
tobacco and pipes, were strewn upon the table. But if the guests had
arrived at that stage when to reach the arm, or arrange the person, for a
sip of good stuff, causes moral debates, and presents to the mind
impediments equal to what would be raised in active men by the prospect
of a great excursion, it is not to be wondered at that the presence of a
stranger produced no immediate commotion. Two or three heads were half
turned; such as faced him imperceptibly lifted their eyelids.

'Good evening, sir,' said one who sat as chairman, with a decisive nod.

'Good night, ain't it?' a jolly-looking old fellow queried of the
speaker, in an under-voice.

'Gad, you don't expect me to be wishing the gentleman good-bye, do you?'
retorted the former.

'Ha! ha! No, to be sure,' answered the old boy; and the remark was
variously uttered, that 'Good night,' by a caprice of our language, did
sound like it.

'Good evening's "How d' ye do?"--"How are ye?" Good night's "Be off, and
be blowed to you,"' observed an interpreter with a positive mind; and
another, whose intelligence was not so clear, but whose perceptions had
seized the point, exclaimed: 'I never says it when I hails a chap; but,
dash my buttons, if I mightn't 'a done, one day or another! Queer!'

The chairman, warmed by his joke, added, with a sharp wink: 'Ay; it would
be queer, if you hailed "Good night" in the middle of the day!' and this
among a company soaked in ripe ale, could not fail to run the electric
circle, and persuaded several to change their positions; in the rumble of
which, Evan's reply, if he had made any, was lost. Few, however, were
there who could think of him, and ponder on that glimpse of fun, at the
same time; and he would have been passed over, had not the chairman said:
'Take a seat, sir; make yourself comfortable.'

'Before I have that pleasure,' replied Evan, 'I--'

'I see where 'tis,' burst out the old boy who had previously superinduced
a diversion: 'he's going to ax if he can't have a bed!'

A roar of laughter, and 'Don't you remember this day last year?' followed
the cunning guess. For awhile explication was impossible; and Evan
coloured, and smiled, and waited for them.

'I was going to ask--'

'Said so!' shouted the old boy, gleefully.

'--one of the gentlemen who has engaged a bed-room to do me the extreme
favour to step aside with me, and allow me a moment's speech with him.'

Long faces were drawn, and odd stares were directed toward him, in reply.

'I see where 'tis'; the old boy thumped his knee. 'Ain't it now? Speak
up, sir! There's a lady in the case?'

'I may tell you thus much,' answered Evan, 'that it is an unfortunate
young woman, very ill, who needs rest and quiet.'

'Didn't I say so?' shouted the old boy.

But this time, though his jolly red jowl turned all round to demand a
confirmation, it was not generally considered that he had divined so
correctly. Between a lady and an unfortunate young woman, there seemed to
be a strong distinction, in the minds of the company.

The chairman was the most affected by the communication. His bushy
eyebrows frowned at Evan, and he began tugging at the brass buttons of
his coat, like one preparing to arm for a conflict.

'Speak out, sir, if you please,' he said. 'Above board--no asides--no
taking advantages. You want me to give up my bed-room for the use of your
young woman, sir?'

Evan replied quietly: 'She is a stranger to me; and if you could see her,
sir, and know her situation, I think she would move your pity.'

'I don't doubt it, sir--I don't doubt it,' returned the chairman. 'They
all move our pity. That's how they get over us. She has diddled you, and
she would diddle me, and diddle us all-diddle the devil, I dare say, when
her time comes. I don't doubt it, sir.'

To confront a vehement old gentleman, sitting as president in an assembly
of satellites, requires command of countenance, and Evan was not
browbeaten: he held him, and the whole room, from where he stood, under a
serene and serious eye, for his feelings were too deeply stirred on
behalf of the girl to let him think of himself. That question of hers,
'What are you going to do with me?' implying such helplessness and trust,
was still sharp on his nerves.

'Gentlemen,' he said, 'I humbly beg your pardon for disturbing you as I
do.'

But with a sudden idea that a general address on behalf of a particular
demand must necessarily fail, he let his eyes rest on one there, whose
face was neither stupid nor repellent, and who, though he did not look
up, had an attentive, thoughtful cast about the mouth.

'May I entreat a word apart with you, sir?'

Evan was not mistaken in the index he had perused. The gentleman seemed
to feel that he was selected from the company, and slightly raising his
head, carelessly replied: 'My bed is entirely at your disposal,' resuming
his contemplative pose.

On the point of thanking him, Evan advanced a step, when up started the
irascible chairman.

'I don't permit it! I won't allow it!' And before Evan could ask his
reasons, he had rung the bell, muttering: 'They follow us to our inns,
now, the baggages! They must harry us at our inns! We can't have peace
and quiet at our inns!--'

In a state of combustion, he cried out to the waiter:

'Here, Mark, this gentleman has brought in a dirty wench: pack her up to
my bed-room, and lock her in lock her in, and bring down the key.'

Agreeably deceived in the old gentleman's intentions, Evan could not
refrain from joining the murmured hilarity created by the conclusion of
his order. The latter glared at him, and added: 'Now, sir, you've done
your worst. Sit down, and be merry.'

Replying that he had a friend outside, and would not fail to accept the
invitation, Evan retired. He was met by the hostess with the reproachful
declaration on her lips, that she was a widow woman, wise in appearances,
and that he had brought into her house that night work she did not
expect, or bargain for. Rather (since I must speak truth of my gentleman)
to silence her on the subject, and save his ears, than to propitiate her
favour towards the girl, Evan drew out his constitutionally lean purse,
and dropped it in her hand, praying her to put every expense incurred to
his charge. She exclaimed:

'If Dr. Pillie has his full sleep this night, I shall be astonished'; and
Evan hastily led Jack into the passage to impart to him, that the extent
of his resources was reduced to the smallest of sums in shillings.

'I can beat my friend at that reckoning,' said Mr. Raikes; and they
entered the room.

Eyes were on him. This had ever the effect of causing him to swell to
monstrous proportions in the histrionic line. Asking the waiter
carelessly for some light supper dish, he suggested the various French,
with 'not that?' and the affable naming of another. 'Nor that? Dear me,
we shall have to sup on chops, I believe!'

Evan saw the chairman scrutinizing Raikes, much as he himself might have
done, and he said: 'Bread and cheese for me.'

Raikes exclaimed: 'Really? Well, my lord, you lead, and your taste is
mine!'

A second waiter scudded past, and stopped before the chairman to say: 'If
you please, sir, the gentlemen upstairs send their compliments, and will
be happy to accept.'

'Ha!' was the answer. 'Thought better of it, have they! Lay for three
more, then. Five more, I guess.' He glanced at the pair of intruders.

Among a portion of the guests there had been a return to common talk, and
one had observed that he could not get that 'Good Evening,' and 'Good
Night,' out of his head which had caused a friend to explain the meaning
of these terms of salutation to him: while another, of a philosophic
turn, pursued the theme: 'You see, when we meets, we makes a night of it.
So, when we parts, it's Good Night--natural! ain't it?' A proposition
assented to, and considerably dilated on; but whether he was laughing at
that, or what had aroused the fit, the chairman did not say.

Gentle chuckles had succeeded his laughter by the time the bread and
cheese appeared.

In the rear of the provision came three young gentlemen, of whom the
foremost lumped in, singing to one behind him, 'And you shall have little
Rosey!'

They were clad in cricketing costume, and exhibited the health and
manners of youthful Englishmen of station. Frolicsome young bulls
bursting on an assemblage of sheep, they might be compared to. The
chairman welcomed them a trifle snubbingly. The colour mounted to the
cheeks of Mr. Raikes as he made incision in the cheese, under their eyes,
knitting his brows fearfully, as if at hard work.

The chairman entreated Evan to desist from the cheese; and, pulling out
his watch, thundered: 'Time!'

The company generally jumped on their legs; and, in the midst of a hum of
talk and laughter, he informed Evan and Jack, that he invited them
cordially to a supper up-stairs, and would be pleased if they would
partake of it, and in a great rage if they would not.

Raikes was for condescending to accept.

Evan sprang up and cried: 'Gladly, sir,' and gladly would he have cast
his cockney schoolmate to the winds, in the presence of these young
cricketers; for he had a prognostication.

The door was open, and the company of jolly yeomen, tradesmen, farmers,
and the like, had become intent on observing all the ceremonies of
precedence: not one would broaden his back on the other; and there was
bowing, and scraping, and grimacing, till Farmer Broadmead was hailed
aloud, and the old boy stepped forth, and was summarily pushed through:
the chairman calling from the rear, 'Hulloa! no names to-night!' to which
was answered lustily: 'All right, Mr. Tom!' and the speaker was reproved
with, 'There you go! at it again!' and out and up they hustled.

The chairman said quietly to Evan, as they were ascending the stairs: 'We
don't have names to-night; may as well drop titles.' Which presented no
peculiar meaning to Evan's mind, and he smiled the usual smile.

To Raikes, at the door of the supper-room, the chairman repeated the
same; and with extreme affability and alacrity of abnegation, the other
rejoined, 'Oh, certainly!'

No wonder that he rubbed his hands with more delight than aristocrats and
people with gentlemanly connections are in the habit of betraying at the
prospect of refection, for the release from bread and cheese was rendered
overpoweringly glorious, in his eyes, by the bountiful contrast exhibited
on the board before him.



CHAPTER XII

IN WHICH ALE IS SHOWN TO HAVE ONE QUALITY OF WINE

To proclaim that yon ribs of beef and yonder ruddy Britons have met, is
to furnish matter for an hour's comfortable meditation.

Digest the fact. Here the Fates have put their seal to something Nature
clearly devised. It was intended; and it has come to pass. A thing has
come to pass which we feel to be right! The machinery of the world, then,
is not entirely dislocated: there is harmony, on one point, among the
mysterious powers who have to do with us.

Apart from its eloquent and consoling philosophy, the picture is
pleasant. You see two rows of shoulders resolutely set for action: heads
in divers degrees of proximity to their plates: eyes variously twinkling,
or hypocritically composed: chaps in vigorous exercise. Now leans a
fellow right back with his whole face to the firmament: Ale is his
adoration. He sighs not till he sees the end of the mug. Now from one a
laugh is sprung; but, as if too early tapped, he turns off the cock, and
primes himself anew. Occupied by their own requirements, these Britons
allow that their neighbours have rights: no cursing at waste of time is
heard when plates have to be passed: disagreeable, it is still duty.
Field-Marshal Duty, the Briton's chief star, shines here. If one usurps
more than his allowance of elbow-room, bring your charge against them
that fashioned him: work away to arrive at some compass yourself.

Now the mustard ceases to travel, and the salt: the guests have leisure
to contemplate their achievements. Laughs are more prolonged, and come
from the depths.

Now Ale, which is to Beef what Eve was to Adam, threatens to take
possession of the field. Happy they who, following Nature's direction,
admitted not bright ale into their Paradise till their manhood was
strengthened with beef. Some, impatient, had thirsted; had satisfied
their thirst; and the ale, the light though lovely spirit, with nothing
to hold it down, had mounted to their heads; just as Eve will do when
Adam is not mature: just as she did--Alas!

Now, the ruins of the feast being removed, and a clear course left for
the flow of ale, Farmer Broadmead, facing the chairman, rises. He stands
in an attitude of midway. He speaks:

'Gentlemen! 'Taint fust time you and I be met here, to salbrate this here
occasion. I say, not fust time, not by many a time, 'taint. Well,
gentlemen, I ain't much of a speaker, gentlemen, as you know. Howsever,
here I be. No denyin' that. I'm on my legs. This here's a strange enough
world, and a man 's a gentleman, I say, we ought for to be glad when we
got 'm. You know: I'm coming to it shortly. I ain't much of a speaker,
and if you wants somethin' new, you must ax elsewhere: but what I say
is--Bang it! here's good health and long life to Mr. Tom, up there!'

'No names!' shouts the chairman, in the midst of a tremendous clatter.

Farmer Broadmead moderately disengages his breadth from the seat. He
humbly axes pardon, which is accorded him with a blunt nod.

Ale (to Beef what Eve was to Adam) circulates beneath a dazzling foam,
fair as the first woman.

Mr. Tom (for the breach of the rules in mentioning whose name on a night
when identities are merged, we offer sincere apologies every other
minute), Mr. Tom is toasted. His parents, who selected that day sixty
years ago, for his bow to be made to the world, are alluded to with
encomiums, and float down to posterity on floods of liquid amber.

But to see all the subtle merits that now begin to bud out from Mr. Tom,
the chairman and giver of the feast; and also rightly to appreciate the
speeches, we require to be enormously charged with Ale. Mr. Raikes did
his best to keep his head above the surface of the rapid flood. He
conceived the chairman in brilliant colours, and probably owing to the
energy called for by his brain, the legs of the young man failed him
twice, as he tried them. Attention was demanded. Mr. Raikes addressed the
meeting.

The three young gentlemen-cricketers had hitherto behaved with a certain
propriety. It did not offend Mr. Raikes to see them conduct themselves as
if they were at a play, and the rest of the company paid actors. He had
likewise taken a position, and had been the first to laugh aloud at a
particular slip of grammar; while his shrugs at the aspirates transposed
and the pronunciation prevalent, had almost established a free-masonry
between him and one of the three young gentlemen-cricketers-a fair-haired
youth, with a handsome, reckless face, who leaned on the table,
humorously eyeing the several speakers, and exchanging by-words and
laughs with his friends on each side of him.

But Mr. Raikes had the disadvantage of having come to the table empty in
stomach--thirsty exceedingly; and, I repeat, that as, without experience,
you are the victim of divinely given Eve, so, with no foundation to
receive it upon, are you the victim of good sound Ale. He very soon lost
his head. He would otherwise have seen that he must produce a
wonderfully-telling speech if he was to keep the position he had taken,
and had better not attempt one. The three young cricketers were hostile
from the beginning. All of them leant forward, calling attention loudly
laughing for the fun to come.

'Gentlemen!' he said: and said it twice. The gap was wide, and he said,
'Gentlemen!' again.

This commencement of a speech proves that you have made the plunge, but
not that you can swim. At a repetition of 'Gentlemen!' expectancy
resolved into cynicism.

'Gie'n a help,' sang out a son of the plough to a neighbour of the
orator.

'Hang it!' murmured another, 'we ain't such gentlemen as that comes to.'

Mr. Raikes was politely requested to 'tune his pipe.'

With a gloomy curiosity as to the results of Jack's adventurous
undertaking, and a touch of anger at the three whose bearing throughout
had displeased him, Evan regarded his friend. He, too, had drunk, and
upon emptiness. Bright ale had mounted to his brain. A hero should be
held as sacred as the Grand Llama: so let no more be said than that he
drank still, nor marked the replenishing of his glass.

Raikes cleared his throat for a final assault: he had got an image, and
was dashing off; but, unhappily, as if to make the start seem fair, he
was guilty of his reiteration, 'Gentlemen.'

Everybody knew that it was a real start this time, and indeed he had made
an advance, and had run straight through half a sentence. It was
therefore manifestly unfair, inimical, contemptuous, overbearing, and
base, for one of the three young cricketers at this period to fling back
weariedly and exclaim: 'By the Lord; too many gentlemen here!'

Evan heard him across the table. Lacking the key of the speaker's
previous conduct, the words might have passed. As it was, they, to the
ale-invaded head of a young hero, feeling himself the world's equal, and
condemned nevertheless to bear through life the insignia of Tailordom,
not unnaturally struck with peculiar offence. There was arrogance, too,
in the young man who had interposed. He was long in the body, and, when
he was not refreshing his sight by a careless contemplation of his
finger-nails, looked down on his company at table, as one may do who
comes from loftier studies. He had what is popularly known as the nose of
our aristocracy: a nose that much culture of the external graces, and
affectation of suavity, are required to soften. Thereto were joined thin
lips and arched brows. Birth it was possible he could boast, hardly
brains. He sat to the right of the fair-haired youth, who, with his
remaining comrade, a quiet smiling fellow, appeared to be better liked by
the guests, and had been hailed once or twice, under correction of the
chairman, as Mr. Harry. The three had distinguished one there by a few
friendly passages; and this was he who had offered his bed to Evan for
the service of the girl. The recognition they extended to him did not
affect him deeply. He was called Drummond, and had his place near the
chairmen, whose humours he seemed to relish.

The ears of Mr. Raikes were less keen at the moment than Evan's, but his
openness to ridicule was that of a man on his legs solus, amid a company
sitting, and his sense of the same--when he saw himself the victim of
it--acute. His face was rather comic, and, under the shadow of
embarrassment, twitching and working for ideas--might excuse a want of
steadiness and absolute gravity in the countenances of others.

The chairman's neighbour, Drummond, whispered him 'Laxley will get up a
row with that fellow.'

'It 's young Jocelyn egging him on,' said the chairman.

'Um!' added Drummond: 'it's the friend of that talkative rascal that 's
dangerous, if it comes to anything.'

Mr. Raikes perceived that his host desired him to conclude. So, lifting
his voice and swinging his arm, he ended: 'Allow me to propose to you the
Fly in Amber. In other words, our excellent host embalmed in brilliant
ale! Drink him! and so let him live in our memories for ever!'

He sat down very well contented with himself, very little comprehended,
and applauded loudly.

'The Flyin' Number!' echoed Farmer Broadmead, confidently and with
clamour; adding to a friend, when both had drunk the toast to the dregs,
'But what number that be, or how many 'tis of 'em, dishes me! But that 's
ne'ther here nor there.'

The chairman and host of the evening stood up to reply, welcomed by
thunders--'There ye be, Mr. Tom! glad I lives to see ye!' and 'No
names!' and 'Long life to him!'

This having subsided, the chairman spoke, first nodding. 'You don't want
many words, and if you do, you won't get 'em from me.'

Cries of 'Got something better!' took up the blunt address.

'You've been true to it, most of you. I like men not to forget a custom.'

'Good reason so to be,' and 'A jolly good custom,' replied to both
sentences.

'As to the beef, I hope you didn't find it tough: as to the ale--I know
all about THAT!'

'Aha! good!' rang the verdict.

'All I can say is, that this day next year it will be on the table, and I
hope that every one of you will meet Tom--will meet me here punctually.
I'm not a Parliament man, so that 'll do.'

The chairman's breach of his own rules drowned the termination of his
speech in an uproar.

Re-seating himself, he lifted his glass, and proposed: 'The
Antediluvians!'

Farmer Broadmead echoed: 'The Antediloovians!' appending, as a private
sentiment, 'And dam rum chaps they were!'

The Antediluvians, undoubtedly the toast of the evening, were
enthusiastically drunk, and in an ale of treble brew.

When they had quite gone down, Mr. Raikes ventured to ask for the reason
of their receiving such honour from a posterity they had so little to do
with. He put the question mildly, but was impetuously snapped at by the
chairman.

'You respect men for their luck, sir, don't you? Don't be a hypocrite,
and say you don't--you do. Very well: so do I. That's why I drink "The
Antediluvians"!'

'Our worthy host here' (Drummond, gravely smiling, undertook to elucidate
the case) 'has a theory that the constitutions of the Postdiluvians have
been deranged, and their lives shortened, by the miasmas of the Deluge. I
believe he carries it so far as to say that Noah, in the light of a
progenitor, is inferior to Adam, owing to the shaking he had to endure in
the ark, and which he conceives to have damaged the patriarch and the
nervous systems of his sons. It's a theory, you know.'

'They lived close on a thousand years, hale, hearty--and no water!' said
the chairman.

'Well!' exclaimed one, some way down the table, a young farmer, red as a
cock's comb: 'no fools they, eh, master? Where there's ale, would you
drink water, my hearty?' and back he leaned to enjoy the tribute to his
wit; a wit not remarkable, but nevertheless sufficient in the noise it
created to excite the envy of Mr. Raikes, who, inveterately silly when
not engaged in a contest, now began to play on the names of the sons of
Noah.

The chairman lanced a keen light at him from beneath his bushy eyebrows.

Before long he had again to call two parties to order. To Raikes, Laxley
was a puppy: to Laxley, Mr. Raikes was a snob. The antagonism was
natural: ale did but put the match to the magazine. But previous to an
explosion, Laxley, who had observed Evan's disgust at Jack's exhibition
of himself, and had been led to think, by his conduct and clothes in
conjunction, that Evan was his own equal; a gentleman condescending to
the society of a low-born acquaintance;--had sought with sundry
propitiations, intelligent glances, light shrugs, and such like, to
divide Evan from Jack. He did this, doubtless, because he partly
sympathized with Evan, and to assure him that he took a separate view of
him. Probably Evan was already offended, or he held to Jack, as a comrade
should, or else it was that Tailordom and the pride of his accepted
humiliation bellowed in his ears, every fresh minute: 'Nothing assume!' I
incline to think that the more ale he drank the fiercer rebel he grew
against conventional ideas of rank, and those class-barriers which we
scorn so vehemently when we find ourselves kicking at them. Whatsoever
the reason that prompted him, he did not respond to Laxley's advances;
and Laxley, disregarding him, dealt with Raikes alone.

In a tone plainly directed at him, he said: 'Well, Harry, tired of this?
The agriculturals are good fun, but I can't stand much of the small
cockney. A blackguard who tries to make jokes out of the Scriptures ought
to be kicked!'

Harry rejoined, with wet lips: 'Wopping stuff, this ale! Who's that you
want to kick?'

'Somebody who objects to his bray, I suppose,' Mr. Raikes struck in,
across the table, negligently thrusting out his elbow to support his
head.

'Did you allude to me, sir?' Laxley inquired.

'I alluded to a donkey, sir.' Raikes lifted his eyelids to the same level
as Laxley's: 'a passing remark on that interesting animal.'

His friend Harry now came into the ring to try a fall.

'Are you an usher in a school?' he asked, meaning by his looks what men
of science in fisticuffs call business.

Mr. Raikes started in amazement. He recovered as quickly.

'No, sir, not quite; but I have no doubt I should be able to instruct you
upon a point or two.'

'Good manners, for instance?' remarked the third young cricketer, without
disturbing his habitual smile.

'Or what comes from not observing them,' said Evan, unwilling to have
Jack over-matched.

'Perhaps you'll give me a lesson now?' Harry indicated a readiness to
rise for either of them.

At this juncture the chairman interposed.

'Harmony, my lads!--harmony to-night.'

Farmer Broadmead, imagining it to be the signal for a song, returned:

'All right, Mr.--- Mr. Chair! but we an't got pipes in yet. Pipes before
harmony, you know, to-night.'

The pipes were summoned forthwith. System appeared to regulate the
proceedings of this particular night at the Green Dragon. The pipes
charged, and those of the guests who smoked, well fixed behind them,
celestial Harmony was invoked through the slowly curling clouds. In
Britain the Goddess is coy. She demands pressure to appear, and great
gulps of ale. Vastly does she swell the chests of her island children,
but with the modesty of a maid at the commencement. Precedence again
disturbed the minds of the company. At last the red-faced young farmer
led off with 'The Rose and the Thorn.' In that day Chloe still lived; nor
were the amorous transports of Strephon quenched. Mountainous
inflation--mouse-like issue characterized the young farmer's first verse.
Encouraged by manifest approbation he now told Chloe that he 'by Heaven!
never would plant in that bosom a thorn,' with such a volume of sound as
did indeed show how a lover's oath should be uttered in the ear of a
British damsel to subdue her.

'Good!' cried Mr. Raikes, anxious to be convivial.

Subsiding into impertinence, he asked Laxley, 'Could you tip us a
Strephonade, sir? Rejoiced to listen to you, I'm sure! Promise you my
applause beforehand.'

Harry replied hotly: 'Will you step out of the room with me a minute?'

'Have you a confession to make?' quoth Jack, unmoved. 'Have you planted a
thorn in the feminine flower-garden? Make a clean breast of it at the
table. Confess openly and be absolved.'

While Evan spoke a word of angry reproof to Raikes, Harry had to be
restrained by his two friends. The rest of the company looked on with
curiosity; the mouth of the chairman was bunched. Drummond had his eyes
on Evan, who was gazing steadily at the three. Suddenly 'The fellow isn't
a gentleman!' struck the attention of Mr. Raikes with alarming force.

Raikes--and it may be because he knew he could do more than Evan in this
respect--vociferated: 'I'm the son of a gentleman!'

Drummond, from the head of the table, saw that a diversion was
imperative. He leaned forward, and with a look of great interest said:

'Are you? Pray, never disgrace your origin, then.'

'If the choice were offered me, I think I would rather have known his
father,' said the smiling fellow, yawning, and rocking on his chair.

'You would, possibly, have been exceedingly intimate--with his right
foot,' said Raikes.

The other merely remarked: 'Oh! that is the language of the son of a
gentleman.'

The tumult of irony, abuse, and retort, went on despite the efforts of
Drummond and the chairman. It was odd; for at Farmer Broadmead's end of
the table, friendship had grown maudlin: two were seen in a drowsy
embrace, with crossed pipes; and others were vowing deep amity, and
offering to fight the man that might desire it.

'Are ye a friend? or are ye a foe?' was heard repeatedly, and
consequences to the career of the respondent, on his choice of
affirmatives to either of these two interrogations, emphatically
detailed.

It was likewise asked, in reference to the row at the gentlemen's end:
'Why doan' they stand up and have 't out?'

'They talks, they speechifies--why doan' they fight for 't, and then be
friendly?'

'Where's the yarmony, Mr. Chair, I axes--so please ye?' sang out Farmer
Broadmead.

'Ay, ay! Silence!' the chairman called.

Mr. Raikes begged permission to pronounce his excuses, but lapsed into a
lamentation for the squandering of property bequeathed to him by his
respected uncle, and for which--as far as he was intelligible--he
persisted in calling the three offensive young cricketers opposite to
account.

Before he could desist, Harmony, no longer coy, burst on the assembly
from three different sources. 'A Man who is given to Liquor,' soared
aloft with 'The Maid of sweet Seventeen,' who participated in the
adventures of 'Young Molly and the Kicking Cow'; while the guests
selected the chorus of the song that first demanded it.

Evan probably thought that Harmony was herself only when she came single,
or he was wearied of his fellows, and wished to gaze a moment on the
skies whose arms were over and around his young beloved. He went to the
window and threw it up, and feasted his sight on the moon standing on the
downs. He could have wept at the bitter ignominy that severed him from
Rose. And again he gathered his pride as a cloak, and defied the world,
and gloried in the sacrifice that degraded him. The beauty of the night
touched him, and mixed these feelings with mournfulness. He quite forgot
the bellow and clatter behind. The beauty of the night, and heaven knows
what treacherous hope in the depths of his soul, coloured existence
warmly.

He was roused from his reverie by an altercation unmistakeably fierce.

Raikes had been touched on a tender point. In reply to a bantering remark
of his, Laxley had hummed over bits of his oration, amid the chuckles of
his comrades. Unfortunately at a loss for a biting retort, Raikes was
reduced to that plain confession of a lack of wit; he offered combat.

'I 'll tell you what,' said Laxley, 'I never soil my hands with a
blackguard; and a fellow who tries to make fun of Scripture, in my
opinion is one. A blackguard--do you hear? But, if you'll give me
satisfactory proofs that you really are what I have some difficulty in
believing the son of a gentleman--I 'll meet you when and where you
please.'

'Fight him, anyhow,' said Harry. 'I 'll take him myself after we finish
the match to-morrow.'

Laxley rejoined that Mr. Raikes must be left to him.

'Then I'll take the other,' said Harry. 'Where is he?'

Evan walked round to his place.

'I am here,' he answered, 'and at your service.'

'Will you fight?' cried Harry.

There was a disdainful smile on Evan's mouth, as he replied: 'I must
first enlighten you. I have no pretensions to your blue blood, or yellow.
If, sir, you will deign to challenge a man who is not the son of a
gentleman, and consider the expression of his thorough contempt for your
conduct sufficient to enable you to overlook that fact, you may dispose
of me. My friend here has, it seems, reason to be proud of his
connections. That you may not subsequently bring the charge against me of
having led you to "soil your hands"--as your friend there terms it--I,
with all the willingness in the world to chastise you or him for your
impertinence, must first give you a fair chance of escape, by telling you
that my father was a tailor.'

The countenance of Mr. Raikes at the conclusion of this speech was a
painful picture. He knocked the table passionately, exclaiming:

'Who'd have thought it?'

Yet he had known it. But he could not have thought it possible for a man
to own it publicly.

Indeed, Evan could not have mentioned it, but for hot fury and the ale.
It was the ale in him expelling truth; and certainly, to look at him,
none would have thought it.

'That will do,' said Laxley, lacking the magnanimity to despise the
advantage given him, 'you have chosen the very best means of saving your
skins.'

'We 'll come to you when our supply of clothes runs short,' added Harry.
'A snip!'

'Pardon me!' said Evan, with his eyes slightly widening, 'but if you
come to me, I shall no longer give you a choice of behaviour. I wish you
good-night, gentlemen. I shall be in this house, and am to be found here,
till ten o'clock to-morrow morning. Sir,' he addressed the chairman, 'I
must apologize to you for this interruption to your kindness, for which I
thank you very sincerely. It 's "good-night," now, sir,' he pursued,
bowing, and holding out his hand, with a smile.

The chairman grasped it: 'You're a hot-headed young fool, sir: you're an
ill-tempered ferocious young ass. Can't you see another young donkey
without joining company in kicks-eh? Sit down, and don't dare to spoil
the fun any more. You a tailor! Who'll believe it? You're a nobleman in
disguise. Didn't your friend say so?--ha! ha! Sit down.' He pulled out
his watch, and proclaiming that he was born into this world at the hour
about to strike, called for a bumper all round.

While such of the company as had yet legs and eyes unvanquished by the
potency of the ale, stood up to drink and cheer, Mark, the waiter,
scurried into the room, and, to the immense stupefaction of the chairman,
and amusement of his guests, spread the news of the immediate birth of a
little stranger on the premises, who was declared by Dr. Pillie to be a
lusty boy, and for whom the kindly landlady solicited good luck to be
drunk.



CHAPTER XIII

THE MATCH OF FALLOW FIELD AGAINST BECKLEY

The dramatic proportions to which ale will exalt the sentiments within
us, and our delivery of them, are apt to dwindle and shrink even below
the natural elevation when we look back on them from the hither shore of
the river of sleep--in other words, wake in the morning: and it was with
no very self-satisfied emotions that Evan, dressing by the full light of
day, reviewed his share in the events of the preceding night. Why, since
he had accepted his fate, should he pretend to judge the conduct of
people his superiors in rank? And where was the necessity for him to
thrust the fact of his being that abhorred social pariah down the throats
of an assembly of worthy good fellows? The answer was, that he had not
accepted his fate: that he considered himself as good a gentleman as any
man living, and was in absolute hostility with the prejudices of society.
That was the state of the case: but the evaporation of ale in his brain
caused him to view his actions from the humble extreme of that delightful
liquor, of which the spirit had flown and the corpse remained.

Having revived his system with soda-water, and finding no sign of his
antagonist below, Mr. Raikes, to disperse the sceptical dimples on his
friend's face, alluded during breakfast to a determination he had formed
to go forth and show on the cricket-field.

'For, you know,' he observed, 'they can't have any objection to fight
one.'

Evan, slightly colouring, answered: 'Why, you said up-stairs, you thought
fighting duels disgraceful folly.'

'So it is, so it is; everybody knows that,' returned Jack; 'but what can
a gentleman do?'

'Be a disgraceful fool, I suppose,' said Evan: and Raikes went on with
his breakfast, as if to be such occasionally was the distinguished fate
of a gentleman, of which others, not so happy in their birth, might well
be envious.

He could not help betraying that he bore in mind the main incidents of
the festival over-night; for when he had inquired who it might be that
had reduced his friend to wear mourning, and heard that it was his father
(spoken by Evan with a quiet sigh), Mr. Raikes tapped an egg, and his
flexible brows exhibited a whole Bar of contending arguments within. More
than for the love of pleasure, he had spent his money to be taken for a
gentleman. He naturally thought highly of the position, having bought it.
But Raikes appreciated a capital fellow, and felt warmly to Evan, who,
moreover, was feeding him.

If not born a gentleman, this Harrington had the look of one, and was
pleasing in female eyes, as the landlady, now present, bore witness,
wishing them good morning, and hoping they had slept well. She handed to
Evan his purse, telling him she had taken it last night, thinking it
safer for the time being in her pocket; and that the chairman of the
feast paid for all in the Green Dragon up to twelve that day, he having
been born between the hours, and liking to make certain: and that every
year he did the same; and was a seemingly rough old gentleman, but as
soft-hearted as a chicken. His name must positively not be inquired, she
said; to be thankful to him was to depart, asking no questions.

'And with a dart in the bosom from those eyes--those eyes!' cried Jack,
shaking his head at the landlady's resistless charms.

'I hope you was not one of the gentlemen who came and disturbed us last
night, Sir?' she turned on him sharply.

Jack dallied with the imputation, but denied his guilt.

'No; it wasn't your voice,' continued the landlady. 'A parcel of young
puppies calling themselves gentlemen! I know him. It's that young Mr.
Laxley: and he the nephew of a Bishop, and one of the Honourables! and
then the poor gals get the blame. I call it a shame, I do. There's that
poor young creature up-stairs-somebody's victim she is: and nobody's to
suffer but herself, the little fool!'

'Yes,' said Raikes. 'Ah! we regret these things in after life!' and he
looked as if he had many gentlemanly burdens of the kind on his
conscience.

'It 's a wonder, to my mind,' remarked the landlady, when she had
placidly surveyed Mr. Raikes, 'how young gals can let some of you
men-folk mislead 'em.'

She turned from him huffily, and addressed Evan:

'The old gentleman is gone, sir. He slept on a chair, breakfasted, and
was off before eight. He left word, as the child was born on his
birthright, he'd provide for it, and pay the mother's bill, unless you
claimed the right. I'm afraid he suspected--what I never, never-no! but
by what I've seen of you--never will believe. For you, I'd say, must be a
gentleman, whatever your company. She asks one favour of you, sir:--for
you to go and let her speak to you once before you go away for good.
She's asleep now, and mustn't be disturbed. Will you do it, by-and-by?
Please to comfort the poor creature, sir.'

Evan consented. I am afraid also it was the landlady's flattering speech
made him, without reckoning his means, add that the young mother and her
child must be considered under his care, and their expenses charged to
him. The landlady was obliged to think him a wealthy as well as a noble
youth, and admiringly curtsied.

Mr. John Raikes and Mr. Evan Harrington then strolled into the air, and
through a long courtyard, with brewhouse and dairy on each side, and a
pleasant smell of baking bread, and dogs winking in the sun, cats at the
corners of doors, satisfied with life, and turkeys parading, and fowls,
strutting cocks, that overset the dignity of Mr. Raikes by awakening his
imitative propensities. Certain white-capped women, who were washing in a
tub, laughed, and one observed: 'He's for all the world like the little
bantam cock stickin' 'self up in a crow against the Spaniar'.' And this,
and the landlady's marked deference to Evan, induced Mr. Raikes
contemptuously to glance at our national blindness to the true diamond,
and worship of the mere plumes in which a person is dressed.

They passed a pretty flower-garden, and entering a smooth-shorn meadow,
beheld the downs beautifully clear under sunlight and slowly-sailing
images of cloud. At the foot of the downs, on a plain of grass, stood a
white booth topped by a flag, which signalled that on that spot Fallow
field and Beckley were contending.

'A singular old gentleman! A very singular old gentleman, that!' Raikes
observed, following an idea that had been occupying him. 'We did wrong to
miss him. We ought to have waylaid him in the morning. Never miss a
chance, Harrington.'

'What chance?' Evan inquired.

'Those old gentlemen are very odd,' Jack pursued, 'very strange. He
wouldn't have judged me by my attire. Admetus' flocks I guard, yet am a
God! Dress is nothing to those old cocks. He's an eccentric. I know it; I
can see it. He 's a corrective of Cudford, who is abhorrent to my soul.
To give you an instance, now, of what those old boys will do--I remember
my father taking me, when I was quite a youngster, to a tavern he
frequented, and we met one night just such an old fellow as this; and the
waiter told us afterwards that he noticed me particularly. He thought me
a very remarkable boy--predicted great things. For some reason or other
my father never took me there again. I remember our having a Welsh
rarebit there for supper, and when the waiter last night mentioned a
rarebit, 'gad he started up before me. I gave chase into my early youth.
However, my father never took me to meet the old fellow again. I believe
it lost me a fortune.'

Evan's thoughts were leaping to the cricket-field, or he would have
condoled with Mr. Raikes for a loss that evidently afflicted him still.

Now, it must be told that the lady's-maid of Mrs. Andrew Cogglesby,
borrowed temporarily by the Countess de Saldar for service at Beckley
Court, had slept in charge of the Countess's boxes at the Green Dragon:
the Countess having told her, with the candour of high-born dames to
their attendants, that it would save expense; and that, besides, Admiral
Combleman, whom she was going to see, or Sir Perkins Ripley (her father's
old friend), whom she should visit if Admiral Combleman was not at his
mansion-both were likely to have full houses, and she could not take them
by storm. An arrangement which left her upwards of twelve hours' liberty,
seemed highly proper to Maria Conning, this lady's-maid, a very demure
young person. She was at her bed-room window, as Evan passed up the
courtyard of the inn, and recognized him immediately. 'Can it be him they
mean that's the low tradesman?' was Maria's mysterious exclamation. She
examined the pair, and added: 'Oh, no. It must be the tall one they
mistook for the small one. But Mr. Harrington ought not to demean himself
by keeping company with such, and my lady should know of it.'

My lady, alighting from the Lymport coach, did know of it, within a few
minutes after Evan had quitted the Green Dragon, and turned pale, as
high-born dames naturally do when they hear of a relative's disregard of
the company he keeps.

'A tailor, my lady!' said scornful Maria; and the Countess jumped and
complained of a pin.

'How did you hear of this, Conning?' she presently asked with composure.

'Oh, my lady, he was tipsy last night, and kept swearing out loud he was
a gentleman.'

'Tipsy!' the Countess murmured in terror. She had heard of inaccessible
truths brought to light by the magic wand of alcohol. Was Evan
intoxicated, and his dreadful secret unlocked last night?

'And who may have told you of this, Conning?' she asked.

Maria plunged into one of the boxes, and was understood to say that
nobody in particular had told her, but that among other flying matters it
had come to her ears.

'My brother is Charity itself,' sighed the Countess. 'He welcomes high or
low.'

'Yes, but, my lady, a tailor!' Maria repeated, and the Countess,
agreeing with her scorn as she did, could have killed her. At least she
would have liked to run a bodkin into her, and make her scream. In her
position she could not always be Charity itself: nor is this the required
character for a high-born dame: so she rarely affected it.

'Order a fly: discover the direction Mr. Harrington has taken; spare me
further remarks,' she said; and Maria humbly flitted from her presence.

When she was gone, the Countess covered her face with her hands. 'Even
this creature would despise us!' she exclaimed.

The young lady encountered by Mr. Raikes on the road to Fallow field, was
wrong in saying that Beckley would be seen out before the shades of
evening caught up the ball. Not one, but two men of Beckley--the last
two--carried out their bats, cheered handsomely by both parties. The
wickets pitched in the morning, they carried them in again, and plaudits
renewed proved that their fame had not slumbered. To stand before a
field, thoroughly aware that every successful stroke you make is adding
to the hoards of applause in store for you is a joy to your friends, an
exasperation to your foes; I call this an exciting situation, and one as
proud as a man may desire. Then, again, the two last men of an eleven are
twins: they hold one life between them; so that he who dies extinguishes
the other. Your faculties are stirred to their depths. You become engaged
in the noblest of rivalries: in defending your own, you fight for your
comrade's existence. You are assured that the dread of shame, if not
emulation, is making him equally wary and alert.

Behold, then, the two bold men of Beckley fighting to preserve one life.
Under the shadow of the downs they stand, beneath a glorious day, and
before a gallant company. For there are ladies in carriages here, there
are cavaliers; good county names may be pointed out. The sons of
first-rate families are in the two elevens, mingled with the yeomen and
whoever can best do the business. Fallow field and Beckley, without
regard to rank, have drawn upon their muscle and science. One of the bold
men of Beckley at the wickets is Nick Frim, son of the gamekeeper at
Beckley Court; the other is young Tom Copping, son of Squire Copping, of
Dox Hall, in the parish of Beckley. Last year, you must know, Fallow
field beat. That is why Nick Frim, a renowned out-hitter, good to finish
a score brilliantly with a pair of threes, has taken to blocking, and Mr.
Tom cuts with caution, though he loves to steal his runs, and is usually
dismissed by his remarkable cunning.

The field was ringing at a stroke of Nick Frim's, who had lashed out in
his old familiar style at last, and the heavens heard of it, when Evan
came into the circle of spectators. Nick and Tom were stretching from
post to post, might and main. A splendid four was scored. The field took
breath with the heroes; and presume not to doubt that heroes they are. It
is good to win glory for your country; it is also good to win glory for
your village. A Member of Parliament, Sir George Lowton, notes this
emphatically, from the statesman's eminence, to a group of gentlemen on
horseback round a carriage wherein a couple of fair ladies reclined.

'They didn't shout more at the news of the Battle of Waterloo. Now this
is our peculiarity, this absence of extreme centralization. It must be
encouraged. Local jealousies, local rivalries, local triumphs--these are
the strength of the kingdom.'

'If you mean to say that cricket's a ----' the old squire speaking
(Squire Uplift of Fallow field) remembered the saving presences, and
coughed--'good thing, I'm one with ye, Sir George. Encouraged, egad! They
don't want much of that here. Give some of your lean London straws a
strip o' clean grass and a bit o' liberty, and you'll do 'em a service.'

'What a beautiful hit!' exclaimed one of the ladies, languidly watching
the ascent of the ball.

'Beautiful, d' ye call it?' muttered the squire.

The ball, indeed, was dropping straight into the hands of the
long-hit-off. Instantly a thunder rolled. But it was Beckley that took
the joyful treble--Fallow field the deeply--cursing bass. The
long-hit-off, he who never was known to miss a catch-butter-fingered
beast!--he has let the ball slip through his fingers.

Are there Gods in the air? Fred Linnington, the unfortunate of Fallow
field, with a whole year of unhappy recollection haunting him in
prospect, ere he can retrieve his character--Fred, if he does not accuse
the powers of the sky, protests that he cannot understand it, which means
the same.

Fallow field's defeat--should such be the result of the contest--he knows
now will be laid at his door. Five men who have bowled at the indomitable
Beckleyans think the same. Albeit they are Britons, it abashes them. They
are not the men they were. Their bowling is as the bowling of babies; and
see! Nick, who gave the catch, and pretends he did it out of
commiseration for Fallow field, the ball has flown from his bat sheer
over the booth. If they don't add six to the score, it will be the fault
of their legs. But no: they rest content with a fiver and cherish their
wind.

Yet more they mean to do, Success does not turn the heads of these
Britons, as it would of your frivolous foreigners.

And now small boys (who represent the Press here) spread out from the
marking-booth, announcing foremost, and in larger type, as it were, quite
in Press style, their opinion--which is, that Fallow field will get a
jolly good hiding; and vociferating that Beckley is seventy-nine ahead,
and that Nick Frim, the favourite of the field, has scored fifty-one to
his own cheek. The boys are boys of both villages: but they are British
boys--they adore prowess. The Fallow field boys wish that Nick Frim would
come and live on their side; the boys of Beckley rejoice in possessing
him. Nick is the wicketkeeper of the Beckley eleven; long-limbed, wiry,
keen of eye. His fault as a batsman is, that he will be a slashing
hitter. He is too sensible of the joys of a grand spanking hit. A short
life and a merry one, has hitherto been his motto.

But there were reasons for Nick's rare display of skill. That woman may
have the credit due to her (and, as there never was a contest of which
she did not sit at the springs, so is she the source of all superhuman
efforts exhibited by men), be it told that Polly Wheedle is on the field;
Polly, one of the upper housemaids of Beckley Court; Polly, eagerly
courted by Fred Linnington, humbly desired by Nick Frim--a pert and
blooming maiden--who, while her suitors combat hotly for an undivided
smile, improves her holiday by instilling similar unselfish aspirations
into the breasts of others.

Between his enjoyment of society and the melancholy it engendered in his
mind by reflecting on him the age and decrepitude of his hat, Mr. John
Raikes was doubtful of his happiness for some time. But as his taste for
happiness was sharp, he, with a great instinct amounting almost to genius
in its pursuit, resolved to extinguish his suspicion by acting the
perfectly happy man. To do this, it was necessary that he should have
listeners: Evan was not enough, and was besides unsympathetic; he had not
responded to Jack's cordial assurances of his friendship 'in spite of
anything,' uttered before they came into the field.

Heat and lustre were now poured from the sky, on whose soft blue a fleet
of clouds sailed heavily. Nick Frim was very wonderful, no doubt. He
deserved that the Gods should recline on those gold-edged cushions above,
and lean over to observe him. Nevertheless, the ladies were beginning to
ask when Nick Frim would be out. The small boys alone preserved their
enthusiasm for Nick. As usual, the men took a middle position. Theirs was
the pleasure of critics, which, being founded on the judgement, lasts
long, and is without disappointment at the close. It was sufficient that
the ladies should lend the inspiration of their bonnets to this fine
match. Their presence on the field is another beautiful instance of the
generous yielding of the sex simply to grace our amusement, and their
acute perception of the part they have to play.

Mr. Raikes was rather shy of them at first. But his acting rarely failing
to deceive himself, he began to feel himself the perfectly happy man he
impersonated, and where there were ladies he went, and talked of days
when he had creditably handled a bat, and of a renown in the annals of
Cricket cut short by mysterious calamity. The foolish fellow did not know
that they care not a straw for cricketing fame. His gaiety presently
forsook him as quickly as it had come. Instead of remonstrating at Evan's
restlessness, it was he who now dragged Evan from spot to spot. He spoke
low and nervously.

'We're watched!'

There was indeed a man lurking near and moving as they moved, with a
speculative air. Writs were out against Raikes. He slipped from his
friend, saying:

'Never mind me. That old amphitryon's birthday hangs on till the
meridian; you understand. His table invites. He is not unlikely to enjoy
my conversation. What mayn't that lead to? Seek me there.'

Evan strolled on, relieved by the voluntary departure of the weariful
funny friend he would not shake off, but could not well link with.

A long success is better when seen at a distance of time, and Nick Frim
was beginning to suffer from the monotony of his luck. Fallow field could
do nothing with him. He no longer blocked. He lashed out at every ball,
and far flew every ball that was bowled. The critics saw, in this return
to his old practices, promise of Nick's approaching extinction. The
ladies were growing hot and weary. The little boys gasped on the grass,
but like cunning circulators of excitement, spread a report to keep it
up, that Nick, on going to his wickets the previous day, had sworn an
oath that he would not lay down his bat till he had scored a hundred.

So they had still matter to agitate their youthful breasts, and Nick's
gradual building up of tens, and prophecies and speculations as to his
chances of completing the hundred, were still vehemently confided to the
field, amid a general mopping of faces.

Evan did become aware that a man was following him. The man had not the
look of a dreaded official. His countenance was sun-burnt and open, and
he was dressed in a countryman's holiday suit. When Evan met his eyes,
they showed perplexity. Evan felt he was being examined from head to
heel, but by one unaccustomed to his part, and without the courage to
decide what he ought consequently to do while a doubt remained, though
his inspection was verging towards a certainty in his mind.

At last, somewhat annoyed that the man should continue to dog him
wherever he moved, he turned on him and asked him what he wanted?

'Be you a Muster Eav'n Harrington, Esquire?' the man drawled out in the
rustic music of inquiry.

'That is my name,' said Evan.

'Ay,' returned the man, 'it's somebody lookin' like a lord, and has a
small friend wi' shockin' old hat, and I see ye come out o' the Green
Drag'n this mornin'--I don't reck'n there's e'er a mistaak, but I likes
to make cock sure. Be you been to Poortigal, sir?'

'Yes,' answered Evan, 'I have been to Poortigal.'

'What's the name o' the capital o' Portugal, sir?' The man looked
immensely shrewd, and nodding his consent at the laughing reply, added:

'And there you was born, sir? You'll excuse my boldness, but I only does
what's necessary.'

Evan said he was not born there.

'No, not born there. That's good. Now, sir, did you happen to be born
anywheres within smell o' salt water?'

'Yes,' answered Evan, 'I was born by the sea.'

'Not far beyond fifty mile from Fall'field here, sir?'

'Something less.'

'All right. Now I'm cock sure,' said the man. 'Now, if you'll have the
kindness just to oblige me by--'he sped the words and the instrument
jointly at Evan, takin' that there letter, I'll say good-bye, sir, and my
work's done for the day.'

Saying which, he left Evan with the letter in his hands. Evan turned it
over curiously. It was addressed to 'Evan Harrington, Esquire, T---- of
Lymport.'

A voice paralyzed his fingers: the clear ringing voice of a young
horsewoman, accompanied by a little maid on a pony, who galloped up to
the carriage upon which Squire Uplift, Sir George Lowton, Hamilton
Jocelyn, and other cavaliers, were in attendance.

'Here I am at last, and Beckley's in still! How d' ye do, Lady Racial?
How d' ye do, Sir George. How d' ye do, everybody. Your servant, Squire!
We shall beat you. Harry says we shall soon be a hundred a-head of you.
Fancy those boys! they would sleep at Fallow field last night. How I wish
you had made a bet with me, Squire.'

'Well, my lass, it's not too late,' said the Squire, detaining her hand.

'Oh, but it wouldn't be fair now. And I'm not going to be kissed on the
field, if you please, Squire. Here, Dorry will do instead. Dorry! come
and be kissed by the Squire.'

It was Rose, living and glowing; Rose, who was the brilliant young
Amazon, smoothing the neck of a mettlesome gray cob. Evan's heart bounded
up to her, but his limbs were motionless.

The Squire caught her smaller companion in his arms, and sounded a kiss
upon both her cheeks; then settled her in the saddle, and she went to
answer some questions of the ladies. She had the same lively eyes as
Rose; quick saucy lips, red, and open for prattle. Rolls of auburn hair
fell down her back, for being a child she was allowed privileges. To talk
as her thoughts came, as well as to wear her hair as it grew, was a
special privilege of this young person, on horseback or elsewhere.

'Now, I know what you want to ask me, Aunt Shorne. Isn't it about my
Papa? He's not come, and he won't be able to come for a week.--Glad to be
with Cousin Rosey? I should think I am! She's the nicest girl I ever
could suppose. She isn't a bit spoiled by Portugal; only browned; and she
doesn't care for that; no more do I. I rather like the sun when it
doesn't freckle you. I can't bear freckles, and I don't believe in milk
for them. People who have them are such a figure. Drummond Forth has
them, but he's a man, and it doesn't matter for a man to have freckles.
How's my uncle Mel? Oh, he's quite well. I mean he has the gout in one of
his fingers, and it's swollen so, it's just like a great fat fir cone! He
can't write a bit, and rests his hand on a table. He wants to have me
made to write with my left hand as well as my right. As if I was ever
going to have the gout in one of my fingers!'

Sir George Lowton observed to Hamilton Jocelyn, that Melville must take
to his tongue now.

'I fancy he will,' said Hamilton. 'My father won't give up his nominee;
so I fancy he'll try Fallow field. Of course, we go in for the
agricultural interest; but there's a cantankerous old ruffian down
here--a brewer, or something--he's got half the votes at his bidding. We
shall see.'

'Dorothy, my dear child, are you not tired?' said Lady Racial. 'You are
very hot.'

'Yes, that's because Rose would tear along the road to get here in time,
after we had left those tiresome Copping people, where she had to make a
call. "What a slow little beast your pony is, Dorry!"--she said that at
least twenty times.'

'Oh, you naughty puss!' cried Rose. 'Wasn't it, "Rosey, Rosey, I'm sure
we shall be too late, and shan't see a thing: do come along as hard as
you can"?'

'I 'm sure it was not,' Miss Dorothy retorted, with the large eyes of
innocence. 'You said you wanted to see Nick Frim keeping the wicket, and
Ferdinand Laxley bowl. And, oh! you know something you said about
Drummond Forth.'

'Now, shall I tell upon you?' said Rose.

'No, don't!' hastily replied the little woman, blushing. And the
cavaliers laughed out, and the ladies smiled, and Dorothy added: 'It
isn't much, after all.'

'Then, come; let's have it, or I shall be jealous,' said the Squire.

'Shall I tell?' Rose asked slily.

'It 's unfair to betray one of your sex, Rose,' remarked the
sweetly-smiling lady.

'Yes, Lady Racial--mayn't a woman have secrets?' Dorothy put it with
great natural earnestness, and they all laughed aloud. 'But I know a
secret of Rosey's,' continued Miss Dorothy, 'and if she tells upon me, I
shall tell upon her.'

'They're out!' cried Rose, pointing her whip at the wickets. 'Good night
to Beckley! Tom Copping 's run out.'

Questions as to how it was done passed from mouth to mouth. Questions as
to whether it was fair sprang from Tom's friends, and that a doubt
existed was certain: the whole field was seen converging toward the two
umpires.

Farmer Broadmead for Fallow field, Master Nat Hodges for Beckley.

It really is a mercy there's some change in the game,' said Mrs. Shorne,
waving her parasol. 'It 's a charming game, but it wants variety a
little. When do you return, Rose?'

'Not for some time,' said Rose, primly. 'I like variety very well, but I
don't seek it by running away the moment I've come.'

'No, but, my dear,' Mrs. Shorne negligently fanned her face, 'you will
have to come with us, I fear, when we go. Your uncle accompanies us. I
really think the Squire will, too; and Mr. Forth is no chaperon. Even you
understand that.'

'Oh, I can get an old man--don't be afraid, said Rose. 'Or must I have
and old woman, aunt?'

The lady raised her eyelids slowly on Rose, and thought: 'If you were
soundly whipped, my little madam, what a good thing it would be for you.'
And that good thing Mrs. Shorne was willing to do for Rose. She turned
aside, and received the salute of an unmistakable curate on foot.

'Ah, Mr. Parsley, you lend your countenance to the game, then?'

The curate observed that sound Churchmen unanimously supported the game.

'Bravo!' cried Rose. 'How I like to hear you talk like that, Mr. Parsley.
I didn't think you had so much sense. You and I will have a game
together--single wicket. We must play for something--what shall it be?'

'Oh--for nothing,' the curate vacuously remarked.

'That's for love, you rogue!' exclaimed the Squire. 'Come, come, none o'
that, sir--ha! ha!'

'Oh, very well; we'll play for love,' said Rose.

'And I'll hold the stakes, my dear--eh?'

'You dear old naughty Squire!--what do you mean?'

Rose laughed. But she had all the men surrounding her, and Mrs. Shorne
talked of departing.

Why did not Evan bravely march away? Why, he asked himself, had he come
on this cricket-field to be made thus miserable? What right had such as
he to look on Rose? Consider, however, the young man's excuses. He could
not possibly imagine that a damsel who rode one day to a match, would
return on the following day to see it finished: or absolutely know that
unseen damsel to be Rose Jocelyn. And if he waited, it was only to hear
her sweet voice once again, and go for ever. As far as he could fathom
his hopes, they were that Rose would not see him: but the hopes of youth
are deep.

Just then a toddling small rustic stopped in front of Evan, and set up a
howl for his 'fayther.' Evan lifted him high to look over people's heads,
and discover his wandering parent. The urchin, when he had settled to his
novel position, surveyed the field, and shouting, 'Fayther, fayther!
here I bes on top of a gentleman!' made lusty signs, which attracted not
his father alone. Rose sang out, 'Who can lend me a penny?' Instantly the
curate and the squire had a race in their pockets. The curate was first,
but Rose favoured the squire, took his money with a nod and a smile, and
rode at the little lad, to whom she was saying: 'Here, bonny boy, this
will buy you--'

She stopped and coloured.

'Evan!'

The child descended rapidly to the ground.

A bow and a few murmured words replied to her.

'Isn't this just like you, my dear Evan? Shouldn't I know that whenever I
met you, you would be doing something kind? How did you come here? You
were on your way to Beckley!'

'To London,' said Evan.

'To London! and not coming over to see me--us?'

Here the little fellow's father intervened to claim his offspring, and
thank the lady and the gentleman: and, with his penny firmly grasped, he
who had brought the lady and the gentleman together, was borne off a
wealthy human creature.

Before much further could be said between them, the Countess de Saldar
drove up.

'My dearest Rose!' and 'My dear Countess!' and 'Not Louisa, then?' and,
'I am very glad to see you!' without attempting the endearing
'Louisa'--passed.

The Countess de Saldar then admitted the presence of her brother.

'Think!' said Rose. 'He talks of going on straight from here to London.'

'That pretty pout will alone suffice to make him deviate, then,' said the
Countess, with her sweetest open slyness. 'I am now on the point of
accepting your most kind invitation. Our foreign habits allow us to visit
thus early! He will come with me.'

Evan tried to look firm, and speak as he was trying to look. Rose fell to
entreaty, and from entreaty rose to command; and in both was utterly
fascinating to the poor youth. Luxuriously--while he hesitated and dwelt
on this and that faint objection--his spirit drank the delicious changes
of her face. To have her face before him but one day seemed so rich a
boon to deny himself, that he was beginning to wonder at his constancy in
refusal; and now that she spoke to him so pressingly, devoting her
guileless eyes to him alone, he forgot a certain envious feeling that had
possessed him while she was rattling among the other males--a doubt
whether she ever cast a thought on Mr. Evan Harrington.

'Yes; he will come,' cried Rose; 'and he shall ride home with me and my
friend Drummond; and he shall have my groom's horse, if he doesn't mind.
Bob can ride home in the cart with Polly, my maid; and he'll like that,
because Polly's always good fun--when they're not in love with her. Then,
of course, she torments them.'

'Naturally,' said the Countess.

Mr. Evan Harrington's final objection, based on his not having clothes,
and so forth, was met by his foreseeing sister.

'I have your portmanteau packed, in with me, my dear brother; Conning has
her feet on it. I divined that I should overtake you.'

Evan felt he was in the toils. After a struggle or two he yielded; and,
having yielded, did it with grace. In a moment, and with a power of
self-compression equal to that of the adept Countess, he threw off his
moodiness as easily as if it had been his Spanish mantle, and assumed a
gaiety that made the Countess's eyes beam rapturously upon him, and was
pleasing to Rose, apart from the lead in admiration the Countess had
given her--not for the first time. We mortals, the best of us, may be
silly sheep in our likes and dislikes: where there is no premeditated or
instinctive antagonism, we can be led into warm acknowledgement of merits
we have not sounded. This the Countess de Saldar knew right well.

Rose now intimated her wish to perform the ceremony of introduction
between her aunt and uncle present, and the visitors to Beckley Court.
The Countess smiled, and in the few paces that separated the two groups,
whispered to her brother: 'Miss Jocelyn, my dear.'

The eye-glasses of the Beckley group were dropped with one accord. The
ceremony was gone through. The softly-shadowed differences of a grand
manner addressed to ladies, and to males, were exquisitely accomplished
by the Countess de Saldar.

'Harrington? Harrington?' her quick ear caught on the mouth of Squire
Uplift, scanning Evan.

Her accent was very foreign, as she said aloud: 'We are entirely
strangers to your game--your creecket. My brother and myself are scarcely
English. Nothing save diplomacy are we adepts in!'

'You must be excessively dangerous, madam,' said Sir George, hat in air.

'Even in that, I fear, we are babes and sucklings, and might take many a
lesson from you. Will you instruct me in your creecket? What are they
doing now? It seems very unintelligible--indistinct--is it not?'

Inasmuch as Farmer Broadmead and Master Nat Hodges were surrounded by a
clamorous mob, shouting both sides of the case, as if the loudest and
longest-winded were sure to wrest a favourable judgement from those two
infallible authorities on the laws of cricket, the noble game was
certainly in a state of indistinctness.

The squire came forward to explain, piteously entreated not to expect too
much from a woman's inapprehensive wits, which he plainly promised (under
eyes that had melted harder men) he would not. His forbearance and
bucolic gallantry were needed, for he had the Countess's radiant full
visage alone. Her senses were dancing in her right ear, which had heard
the name of Lady Racial pronounced, and a voice respond to it from the
carriage.

Into what a pit had she suddenly plunged! You ask why she did not drive
away as fast as the horses would carry her, and fly the veiled head of
Demogorgon obscuring valley and hill and the shining firmament, and
threatening to glare destruction on her? You do not know an intriguer.
She relinquishes the joys of life for the joys of intrigue. This is her
element. The Countess did feel that the heavens were hard on her. She
resolved none the less to fight her way to her object; for where so much
had conspired to favour her--the decease of the generous Sir Abraham
Harrington, of Torquay, and the invitation to Beckley Court--could she
believe the heavens in league against her? Did she not nightly pray to
them, in all humbleness of body, for the safe issue of her cherished
schemes? And in this, how unlike she was to the rest of mankind! She
thought so; she relied on her devout observances; they gave her sweet
confidence, and the sense of being specially shielded even when specially
menaced. Moreover, tell a woman to put back, when she is once clearly
launched! Timid as she may be, her light bark bounds to meet the tempest.
I speak of women who do launch: they are not numerous, but, to the wise,
the minorities are the representatives.

'Indeed, it is an intricate game!' said the Countess, at the conclusion
of the squire's explanation, and leaned over to Mrs. Shorne to ask her if
she thoroughly understood it.

'Yes, I suppose I do,' was the reply; 'it--rather than the amusement they
find in it.' This lady had recovered Mr. Parsley from Rose, but had only
succeeded in making the curate unhappy, without satisfying herself.

The Countess gave her the shrug of secret sympathy.

'We must not say so,' she observed aloud--most artlessly, and fixed the
squire with a bewitching smile, under which her heart beat thickly. As
her eyes travelled from Mrs. Shorne to the squire, she had marked Lady
Racial looking singularly at Evan, who was mounting the horse of Bob the
groom.

'Fine young fellow, that,' said the squire to Lady Racial, as Evan rode
off with Rose.

'An extremely handsome, well-bred young man,' she answered. Her eyes met
the Countess's, and the Countess, after resting on their surface with an
ephemeral pause, murmured: 'I must not praise my brother,' and smiled a
smile which was meant to mean: 'I think with you, and thank you, and love
you for admiring him.'

Had Lady Racial joined the smile and spoken with animation afterwards,
the Countess would have shuddered and had chills of dread. As it was, she
was passably content. Lady Racial slightly dimpled her cheek, for
courtesy's sake, and then looked gravely on the ground. This was no
promise; it was even an indication (as the Countess read her), of
something beyond suspicion in the lady's mind; but it was a sign of
delicacy, and a sign that her feelings had been touched, from which a
truce might be reckoned on, and no betrayal feared.

She heard it said that the match was for honour and glory. A match of two
days' duration under a broiling sun, all for honour and glory! Was it not
enough to make her despise the games of men? For something better she
played. Her game was for one hundred thousand pounds, the happiness of
her brother, and the concealment of a horror. To win a game like that was
worth the trouble. Whether she would have continued her efforts, had she
known that the name of Evan Harrington was then blazing on a shop-front
in Lymport, I cannot tell. The possessor of the name was in love, and did
not reflect.

Smiling adieu to the ladies, bowing to the gentlemen, and apprehending
all the homage they would pour out to her condescending beauty when she
had left them, the Countess's graceful hand gave the signal for Beckley.

She stopped the coachman ere the wheels had rolled off the muffling turf,
to enjoy one glimpse of Evan and Rose riding together, with the little
maid on her pony in the rear. How suitable they seemed! how happy! She
had brought them together after many difficulties--might it not be? It
was surely a thing to be hoped for!

Rose, galloping freshly, was saying to Evan: 'Why did you cut off your
moustache?'

He, neck and neck with her, replied: 'You complained of it in Portugal.'

And she: 'Portugal's old times now to me--and I always love old times.
I'm sorry! And, oh, Evan! did you really do it for me?'

And really, just then, flying through the air, close to the darling of
his heart, he had not the courage to spoil that delicious question, but
dallying with the lie, he looked in her eyes lingeringly.

This picture the Countess contemplated. Close to her carriage two young
gentlemen-cricketers were strolling, while Fallow field gained breath to
decide which men to send in first to the wickets.

One of these stood suddenly on tiptoe, and pointing to the pair on
horseback, cried, with the vivacity of astonishment:

'Look there! do you see that? What the deuce is little Rosey doing with
the tailor-fellow?'

The Countess, though her cheeks were blanched, gazed calmly in
Demogorgon's face, took a mental impression of the speaker, and again
signalled for Beckley.



CHAPTER XIV

THE COUNTESS DESCRIBES THE FIELD OF ACTION

Now, to clear up a point or two: You may think the Comic Muse is
straining human nature rather toughly in making the Countess de Saldar
rush open-eyed into the jaws of Demogorgon, dreadful to her. She has seen
her brother pointed out unmistakeably as the tailor-fellow. There is yet
time to cast him off or fly with him. Is it her extraordinary heroism
impelling her onward, or infatuated rashness? or is it her mere animal
love of conflict?

The Countess de Saldar, like other adventurers, has her star. They who
possess nothing on earth, have a right to claim a portion of the heavens.
In resolute hands, much may be done with a star. As it has empires in its
gift, so may it have heiresses. The Countess's star had not blinked
balefully at her. That was one reason why she went straight on to
Beckley.

Again: the Countess was a born general. With her star above, with certain
advantages secured, with battalions of lies disciplined and zealous, and
with one clear prize in view, besides other undeveloped benefits dimly
shadowing forth, the Countess threw herself headlong into the enemy's
country.

But, that you may not think too highly of this lady, I must add that the
trivial reason was the exciting cause--as in many great enterprises. This
was nothing more than the simple desire to be located, if but for a day
or two, on the footing of her present rank, in the English country-house
of an offshoot of our aristocracy. She who had moved in the first society
of a foreign capital--who had married a Count, a minister of his
sovereign, had enjoyed delicious high-bred badinage with refulgent
ambassadors, could boast the friendship of duchesses, and had been the
amiable receptacle of their pardonable follies; she who, moreover,
heartily despised things English:--this lady experienced thrills of proud
pleasure at the prospect of being welcomed at a third-rate English
mansion. But then, that mansion was Beckley Court. We return to our first
ambitions, as to our first loves not that they are dearer to us,--quit
that delusion: our ripened loves and mature ambitions are probably
closest to our hearts, as they deserve to be--but we return to them
because our youth has a hold on us which it asserts whenever a
disappointment knocks us down. Our old loves (with the bad natures I know
in them) are always lurking to avenge themselves on the new by tempting
us to a little retrograde infidelity. A schoolgirl in Fallow field, the
tailor's daughter, had sighed for the bliss of Beckley Court. Beckley
Court was her Elysium ere the ardent feminine brain conceived a loftier
summit. Fallen from that attained eminence, she sighed anew for Beckley
Court. Nor was this mere spiritual longing; it had its material side. At
Beckley Court she could feel her foreign rank. Moving with our nobility
as an equal, she could feel that the short dazzling glitter of her career
was not illusory, and had left her something solid; not coin of the realm
exactly, but yet gold. She could not feel this in the Cogglesby saloons,
among pitiable bourgeoises--middle-class people daily soiled by the touch
of tradesmen. They dragged her down. Their very homage was a mockery.

Let the Countess have due credit for still allowing Evan to visit Beckley
Court to follow up his chance. If Demogorgon betrayed her there, the
Count was her protector: a woman rises to her husband. But a man is what
he is, and must stand upon that. She was positive Evan had committed
himself in some manner. As it did not suit her to think so, she at once
encouraged an imaginary conversation, in which she took the argument that
it was quite impossible Evan could have been so mad, and others instanced
his youth, his wrongheaded perversity, his ungenerous disregard for his
devoted sister, and his known weakness: she replying, that undoubtedly
they were right so far: but that he could not have said he himself was
that horrible thing, because he was nothing of the sort: which faith in
Evan's stedfast adherence to facts, ultimately silenced the phantom
opposition, and gained the day.

With admiration let us behold the Countess de Saldar alighting on the
gravel sweep of Beckley Court, the footman and butler of the enemy bowing
obsequious welcome to the most potent visitor Beckley Court has ever yet
embraced.

The despatches of a general being usually acknowledged to be the safest
sources from which the historian of a campaign can draw, I proceed to set
forth a letter of the Countess de Saldar, forwarded to her sister,
Harriet Cogglesby, three mornings after her arrival at Beckley Court; and
which, if it should prove false in a few particulars, does nevertheless
let us into the state of the Countess's mind, and gives the result of
that general's first inspection of the field of action. The Countess's
epistolary English does small credit to her Fallow field education; but
it is feminine, and flows more than her ordinary speech. Besides, leaders
of men have always notoriously been above the honours of grammar.
'MY DEAREST HARRIET,

'Your note awaited me. No sooner my name announced, than servitors in
yellow livery, with powder and buckles started before me, and bowing one
presented it on a salver. A venerable butler--most impressive! led the
way. In future, my dear, let it be de Saldar de Sancorvo. That is our
title by rights, and it may as well be so in England. English Countess is
certainly best. Always put the de. But let us be systematic, as my poor
Silva says. He would be in the way here, and had better not come till I
see something he can do. Silva has great reliance upon me. The farther he
is from Lymport, my dear!--and imagine me, Harriet, driving through
Fallow field to Beckley Court! I gave one peep at Dubbins's, as I passed.
The school still goes on. I saw three little girls skipping, and the old
swing-pole. SEMINARY FOR YOUNG LADIES as bright as ever! I should have
liked to have kissed the children and given them bonbons and a holiday.

'How sparing you English are of your crests and arms! I fully expected to
see the Jocelyns' over my bed; but no--four posts totally without
ornament! Sleep, indeed, must be the result of dire fatigue in such a
bed. The Jocelyn crest is a hawk in jesses. The Elburne arms are, Or,
three falcons on a field, vert. How heraldry reminds me of poor Papa! the
evenings we used to spend with him, when he stayed at home, studying it
so diligently under his directions! We never shall again! Sir Franks
Jocelyn is the third son of Lord Elburne, made a Baronet for his
patriotic support of the Ministry in a time of great trouble. The people
are sometimes grateful, my dear. Lord Elburne is the fourteenth of his
line--originally simple country squires. They talk of the Roses, but we
need not go so very far back as that. I do not quite understand why a
Lord's son should condescend to a Baronetcy. Precedence of some sort for
his lady, I suppose. I have yet to learn whether she ranks by his birth,
or his present title. If so, a young Baronetcy cannot possibly be a gain.
One thing is certain. She cares very little about it. She is most
eccentric. But remember what I have told you. It will be serviceable when
you are speaking of the family.

'The dinner-hour, six. It would no doubt be full seven in Town. I am
convinced you are half-an-hour too early. I had the post of honour to the
right of Sir Franks. Evan to the right of Lady Jocelyn. Most fortunately
he was in the best of spirits--quite brilliant. I saw the eyes of that
sweet Rose glisten. On the other side of me sat my pet diplomatist, and I
gave him one or two political secrets which astonished him. Of course, my
dear, I was wheedled out of them. His contempt for our weak intellects is
ineffable. But a woman must now and then ingratiate herself at the
expense of her sex. This is perfectly legitimate. Tory policy at the
table. The Opposition, as Andrew says, not represented. So to show that
we were human beings, we differed among ourselves, and it soon became
clear to me that Lady Jocelyn is the rankest of Radicals. My secret
suspicion is, that she is a person of no birth whatever, wherever her
money came from. A fine woman--yes; still to be admired, I suppose, by
some kind of men; but totally wanting in the essentially feminine
attractions.

'There was no party, so to say. I will describe the people present,
beginning with the insignifacants.

'First, Mr. Parsley, the curate of Beckley. He eats everything at table,
and agrees with everything. A most excellent orthodox young clergyman.
Except that he was nearly choked by a fish-bone, and could not quite
conceal his distress--and really Rose should have repressed her desire to
laugh till the time for our retirement--he made no sensation. I saw her
eyes watering, and she is not clever in turning it off. In that nobody
ever equalled dear Papa. I attribute the attack almost entirely to the
tightness of the white neck-cloths the young clergymen of the Established
Church wear. But, my dear, I have lived too long away from them to wish
for an instant the slightest change in anything they think, say, or do.
The mere sight of this young man was most refreshing to my spirit. He may
be the shepherd of a flock, this poor Mr. Parsley, but he is a sheep to
one young person.

'Mr. Drummond Forth. A great favourite of Lady Jocelyn's; an old friend.
He went with them to the East. Nothing improper. She is too cold for
that. He is fair, with regular features, very self-possessed, and
ready--your English notions of gentlemanly. But none of your men treat a
woman as a woman. We are either angels, or good fellows, or heaven knows
what that is bad. No exquisite delicacy, no insinuating softness, mixed
with respect, none of that hovering over the border, as Papa used to say,
none of that happy indefiniteness of manner which seems to declare "I
would love you if I might," or "I do, but I dare not tell," even when
engaged in the most trivial attentions--handing a footstool, remarking on
the soup, etc. You none of you know how to meet a woman's smile, or to
engage her eyes without boldness--to slide off them, as it were,
gracefully. Evan alone can look between the eyelids of a woman. I have
had to correct him, for to me he quite exposes the state of his heart
towards dearest Rose. She listens to Mr. Forth with evident esteem. In
Portugal we do not understand young ladies having male friends.

'Hamilton Jocelyn--all politics. The stiff Englishman. Not a shade of
manners. He invited me to drink wine. Before I had finished my bow his
glass was empty--the man was telling an anecdote of Lord Livelyston! You
may be sure, my dear, I did not say I had seen his lordship.

'Seymour Jocelyn, Colonel of Hussars. He did nothing but sigh for the
cold weather, and hunting. All I envied him was his moustache for Evan.
Will you believe that the ridiculous boy has shaved!

'Then there is Melville, my dear diplomatist; and here is another
instance of our Harrington luck. He has the gout in his right hand; he
can only just hold knife and fork, and is interdicted Port-wine and
penmanship. The dinner was not concluded before I had arranged that Evan
should resume (gratuitously, you know) his post of secretary to him. So
here is Evan fixed at Beckley Court as long as Melville stays. Talking of
him, I am horrified suddenly. They call him the great Mel! 'Sir Franks is
most estimable, I am sure, as a man, and redolent of excellent
qualities--a beautiful disposition, very handsome. He has just as much
and no more of the English polish one ordinarily meets. When he has given
me soup or fish, bowed to me over wine, and asked a conventional
question, he has done with me. I should imagine his opinions to be
extremely good, for they are not a multitude.

'Then his lady-but I have not grappled with her yet. Now for the women,
for I quite class her with the opposite sex.

'You must know that before I retired for the night, I induced Conning to
think she had a bad head-ache, and Rose lent me her lady's-maid--they
call the creature Polly. A terrible talker. She would tell all about the
family. Rose has been speaking of Evan. It would have looked better had
she been quiet--but then she is so English!'

Here the Countess breaks off to say, that from where she is writing, she
can see Rose and Evan walking out to the cypress avenue, and that no eyes
are on them; great praise being given to the absence of suspicion in the
Jocelyn nature.

The communication is resumed the night of the same day.

'Two days at Beckley Court are over, and that strange sensation I had of
being an intruder escaped from Dubbins's, and expecting every instant the
old schoolmistress to call for me, and expose me, and take me to the dark
room, is quite vanished, and I feel quite at home, quite happy. Evan is
behaving well. Quite the young nobleman. With the women I had no fear of
him; he is really admirable with the men--easy, and talks of sport and
politics, and makes the proper use of Portugal. He has quite won the
heart of his sister. Heaven smiles on us, dearest Harriet!

'We must be favoured, my dear, for Evan is very
troublesome--distressingly inconsiderate! I left him for a day-remaining
to comfort poor Mama--and on the road he picked up an object he had known
at school, and this creature, in shameful garments, is seen in the field
where Rose and Evan are riding--in a dreadful hat--Rose might well laugh
at it!--he is seen running away from an old apple woman, whose fruit he
had consumed without means to liquidate; but, of course, he rushes bolt
up to Evan before all his grand company, and claims acquaintance, and
Evan was base enough to acknowledge him! He disengaged himself so far
well by tossing his purse to the wretch, but if he knows not how to--cut,
I assure him it will be his ruin. Resolutely he must cast the dust off
his shoes, or he will be dragged down to their level. By the way, as to
hands and feet, comparing him with the Jocelyn men, he has every mark of
better blood. Not a question about it. As Papa would say--We have
Nature's proof.

'Looking out on a beautiful lawn, and the moon, and all sorts of trees, I
must now tell you about the ladies here.

'Conning undid me to-night. While Conning remains unattached, Conning is
likely to be serviceable. If Evan, would only give her a crumb, she would
be his most faithful dog. I fear he cannot be induced, and Conning will
be snapped up by somebody else. You know how susceptible she is behind
her primness--she will be of no use on earth, and I shall find excuse to
send her back immediately. After all, her appearance here was all that
was wanted.

'Mrs. Melville and her dreadful juvenile are here, as you may
imagine--the complete Englishwoman. I smile on her, but I could laugh. To
see the crow's-feet under her eyes on her white skin, and those ringlets,
is really too ridiculous. Then there is a Miss Carrington, Lady Jocelyn's
cousin, aged thirty-two--if she has not tampered with the register of her
birth. I should think her equal to it. Between dark and fair. Always in
love with some man, Conning tells me she hears. Rose's maid, Polly,
hinted the same. She has a little money.

'But my sympathies have been excited by a little cripple--a niece of Lady
Jocelyn's and the favourite grand-daughter of the rich old Mrs.
Bonner--also here--Juliana Bonner. Her age must be twenty. You would take
her for ten. In spite of her immense expectations, the Jocelyns hate her.
They can hardly be civil to her. It is the poor child's temper. She has
already begun to watch dear Evan--certainly the handsomest of the men
here as yet, though I grant you, they are well-grown men, these Jocelyns,
for an untravelled Englishwoman. I fear, dear Harriet, we have been
dreadfully deceived about Rose. The poor child has not, in her own right,
much more than a tenth part of what we supposed, I fear. It was that Mrs.
Melville. I have had occasion to notice her quiet boasts here. She said
this morning, "when Mel is in the Ministry"--he is not yet in Parliament!
I feel quite angry with the woman, and she is not so cordial as she might
be. I have her profile very frequently while I am conversing with her.

'With Grandmama Bonner I am excellent good friends,--venerable silver
hair, high caps, etc. More of this most interesting Juliana Bonner
by-and-by. It is clear to me that Rose's fortune is calculated upon the
dear invalid's death! Is not that harrowing? It shocks me to think of it.

'Then there is Mrs. Shorne. She is a Jocelyn--and such a history! She
married a wealthy manufacturer--bartered her blood for his money, and he
failed, and here she resides, a bankrupt widow, petitioning any man that
may be willing for his love AND a decent home. AND--I say in charity.

'Mrs. Shorne comes here to-morrow. She is at present with--guess, my
dear!--with Lady Racial. Do not be alarmed. I have met Lady Racial. She
heard Evan's name, and by that and the likeness I saw she knew at once,
and I saw a truce in her eyes. She gave me a tacit assurance of it--she
was engaged to dine here yesterday, and put it off--probably to grant us
time for composure. If she comes I do not fear her. Besides, has she not
reasons? Providence may have designed her for a staunch ally--I will not
say, confederate.

'Would that Providence had fixed this beautiful mansion five hundred
miles from L-----, though it were in a desolate region! And that reminds
me of the Madre. She is in health. She always will be overbearingly
robust till the day we are bereft of her. There was some secret in the
house when I was there, which I did not trouble to penetrate. That little
Jane F----was there--not improved.

'Pray, be firm about Torquay. Estates mortgaged, but hopes of saving a
remnant of the property. Third son! Don't commit yourself there. We dare
not baronetize him. You need not speak it--imply. More can be done that
way.

'And remember, dear Harriet, that you must manage Andrew so that we may
positively promise his vote to the Ministry on all questions when
Parliament next assembles. I understood from Lord Livelyston, that
Andrew's vote would be thought much of. A most amusing nobleman! He
pledged himself to nothing! But we are above such a thing as a commercial
transaction. He must countenance Silva. Women, my dear, have sent out
armies--why not fleets? Do not spare me your utmost aid in my extremity,
my dearest sister.

'As for Strike, I refuse to speak of him. He is insufferable and next to
useless. How can one talk with any confidence of relationship with a
Major of Marines? When I reflect on what he is, and his conduct to
Caroline, I have inscrutable longings to slap his face. Tell dear Carry
her husband's friend--the chairman or something of that wonderful company
of Strike's--you know--the Duke of Belfield is coming here. He is a
blood-relation of the Elburnes, therefore of the Jocelyns. It will not
matter at all. Breweries, I find, are quite in esteem in your England. It
was highly commendable in his Grace to visit you. Did he come to see the
Major of Marines? Caroline is certainly the loveliest woman I ever
beheld, and I forgive her now the pangs of jealousy she used to make me
feel.

'Andrew, I hope, has received the most kind invitations of the Jocelyns.
He must come. Melville must talk with him about the votes of his
abominable brother in Fallow field. We must elect Melville and have the
family indebted to us. But pray be careful that Andrew speaks not a word
to his odious brother about our location here. It would set him dead
against these hospitable Jocelyns. It will perhaps be as well, dear
Harriet, if you do not accompany Andrew. You would not be able to account
for him quite thoroughly. Do as you like--I do but advise, and you know I
may be trusted--for our sakes, dear one! I am working for Carry to come
with Andrew. Beautiful women always welcome. A prodigy!--if they wish to
astonish the Duke. Adieu! Heaven bless your babes!'

The night passes, and the Countess pursues:

'Awakened by your fresh note from a dream of Evan on horseback, and a
multitude hailing him Count Jocelyn for Fallow field! A morning dream.
They might desire that he should change his name; but "Count" is
preposterous, though it may conceal something.

'You say Andrew will come, and talk of his bringing Caroline. Anything to
give our poor darling a respite from her brute. You deserve great credit
for your managing of that dear little good-natured piece of obstinate
man. I will at once see to prepare dear Caroline's welcome, and trust her
stay may be prolonged in the interest of common humanity. They have her
story here already.

'Conning has come in, and says that young Mr. Harry Jocelyn will be here
this morning from Fallow field, where he has been cricketing. The family
have not spoken of him in my hearing. He is not, I think, in good odour
at home--a scapegrace. Rose's maid, Polly, quite flew out when I happened
to mention him, and broke one of my laces. These English maids are
domesticated savage animals.

'My chocolate is sent up, exquisitely concocted, in plate of the purest
quality--lovely little silver cups! I have already quite set the fashion
for the ladies to have chocolate in bed. The men, I hear, complain that
there is no lady at the breakfast-table. They have Miss Carrington to
superintend. I read, in the subdued satisfaction of her eyes (completely
without colour), how much she thanks me and the institution of chocolate
in bed. Poor Miss Carrington is no match for her opportunities. One may
give them to her without dread.

'It is ten on the Sabbath morn. The sweet churchbells are ringing. It
seems like a dream. There is nothing but the religion attaches me to
England; but that--is not that everything? How I used to sigh on Sundays
to hear them in Portugal!

'I have an idea of instituting toilette-receptions. They will not please
Miss Carrington so well.

'Now to the peaceful village church, and divine worship. Adieu, my dear.
I kiss my fingers to Silva. Make no effort to amuse him. He is always
occupied. Bread!--he asks no more. Adieu! Carry will be invited with your
little man .... You unhappily unable .... She, the sister I pine to see,
to show her worthy of my praises. Expectation and excitement! Adieu!'

Filled with pleasing emotions at the thought of the service in the quiet
village church, and worshipping in the principal pew, under the blazonry
of the Jocelyn arms, the Countess sealed her letter and addressed it, and
then examined the name of Cogglesby; which plebeian name, it struck her,
would not sound well to the menials of Beckley Court. While she was
deliberating what to do to conceal it, she heard, through her open
window, the voices of some young men laughing. She beheld her brother
pass these young men, and bow to them. She beheld them stare at him
without at all returning his salute, and then one of them--the same who
had filled her ears with venom at Fallow field--turned to the others and
laughed outrageously, crying--

'By Jove! this comes it strong. Fancy the snipocracy here--eh?'

What the others said the Countess did not wait to hear. She put on her
bonnet hastily, tried the effect of a peculiar smile in the mirror, and
lightly ran down-stairs.



CHAPTER XV

A CAPTURE

The three youths were standing in the portico when the Countess appeared
among them. She singled out him who was specially obnoxious to her, and
sweetly inquired the direction to the village post. With the renowned
gallantry of his nation, he offered to accompany her, but presently, with
a different exhibition of the same, proposed that they should spare
themselves the trouble by dropping the letter she held prominently, in
the bag.

'Thanks,' murmured the Countess, 'I will go.' Upon which his eager air
subsided, and he fell into an awkward silent march at her side, looking
so like the victim he was to be, that the Countess could have emulated
his power of laughter.

'And you are Mr. Harry Jocelyn, the very famous cricketer?'

He answered, glancing back at his friends, that he was, but did not know
about the 'famous.'

'Oh! but I saw you--I saw you hit the ball most beautifully, and dearly
wished my brother had an equal ability. Brought up in the Court of
Portugal, he is barely English. There they have no manly sports. You saw
him pass you?'

'Him! Who?' asked Harry.

'My brother, on the lawn, this moment. Your sweet sister's friend. Your
uncle Melville's secretary.'

'What's his name?' said Harry, in blunt perplexity.

The Countess repeated his name, which in her pronunciation was
'Hawington,' adding, 'That was my brother. I am his sister. Have you
heard of the Countess de Saldar?'

'Countess!' muttered Harry. 'Dash it! here's a mistake.'

She continued, with elegant fan-like motion of her gloved fingers: 'They
say there is a likeness between us. The dear Queen of Portugal often
remarked it, and in her it was a compliment to me, for she thought my
brother a model! You I should have known from your extreme resemblance to
your lovely young sister.'

Coarse food, but then Harry was a youthful Englishman; and the Countess
dieted the vanity according to the nationality. With good wine to wash it
down, one can swallow anything. The Countess lent him her eyes for that
purpose; eyes that had a liquid glow under the dove--like drooping lids.
It was a principle of hers, pampering our poor sex with swinish solids or
the lightest ambrosia, never to let the accompanying cordial be other
than of the finest quality. She knew that clowns, even more than
aristocrats, are flattered by the inebriation of delicate celestial
liquors.

'Now,' she said, after Harry had gulped as much of the dose as she chose
to administer direct from the founts, 'you must accord me the favour to
tell me all about yourself, for I have heard much of you, Mr. Harry
Jocelyn, and you have excited my woman's interest. Of me you know
nothing.'

'Haven't I?' cried Harry, speaking to the pitch of his new warmth. 'My
uncle Melville goes on about you tremendously--makes his wife as jealous
as fire. How could I tell that was your brother?'

'Your uncle has deigned to allude to me?' said the Countess,
meditatively. 'But not of him--of you, Mr. Harry! What does he say?'

'Says you're so clever you ought to be a man.'

'Ah! generous!' exclaimed the Countess. 'The idea, I think, is novel to
him. Is it not?'

'Well, I believe, from what I hear, he didn't back you for much over in
Lisbon,' said veracious Harry.

'I fear he is deceived in me now. I fear I am but a woman--I am not to be
"backed." But you are not talking of yourself.'

'Oh! never mind me,' was Harry's modest answer.

'But I do. Try to imagine me as clever as a man, and talk to me of your
doings. Indeed I will endeavour to comprehend you.'

Thus humble, the Countess bade him give her his arm. He stuck it out with
abrupt eagerness.

'Not against my cheek.' She laughed forgivingly. 'And you need not start
back half-a-mile,' she pursued with plain humour: 'and please do not look
irresolute and awkward--It is not necessary,' she added. 'There!'; and
she settled her fingers on him, 'I am glad I can find one or two things
to instruct you in. Begin. You are a great cricketer. What else?'

Ay! what else? Harry might well say he had no wish to talk of himself. He
did not know even how to give his arm to a lady! The first flattery and
the subsequent chiding clashed in his elated soul, and caused him to deem
himself one of the blest suddenly overhauled by an inspecting angel and
found wanting: or, in his own more accurate style of reflection, 'What a
rattling fine woman this is, and what a deuce of a fool she must think
me!'

The Countess leaned on his arm with dainty languor.

'You walk well,' she said.

Harry's backbone straightened immediately.

'No, no; I do not want you to be a drill-sergeant. Can you not be told
you are perfect without seeking to improve, vain boy? You can cricket,
and you can walk, and will very soon learn how to give your arm to a
lady. I have hopes of you. Of your friends, from whom I have ruthlessly
dragged you, I have not much. Am I personally offensive to them, Mr.
Harry? I saw them let my brother pass without returning his bow, and they
in no way acknowledged my presence as I passed. Are they gentlemen?'

'Yes,' said Harry, stupefied by the question. 'One 's Ferdinand Laxley,
Lord Laxley's son, heir to the title; the other's William Harvey, son of
the Chief Justice--both friends of mine.'

'But not of your manners,' interposed the Countess. 'I have not so much
compunction as I ought to have in divorcing you from your associates for
a few minutes. I think I shall make a scholar of you in one or two
essentials. You do want polish. Have I not a right to take you in hand? I
have defended you already.'

'Me?' cried Harry.

'None other than Mr. Harry Jocelyn. Will he vouchsafe to me his pardon?
It has been whispered in my ears that his ambition is to be the Don Juan
of a country district, and I have said for him, that however grovelling
his undirected tastes, he is too truly noble to plume himself upon the
reputation they have procured him. Why did I defend you? Women, you know,
do not shrink from Don Juans--even provincial Don Juans--as they should,
perhaps, for their own sakes! You are all of you dangerous, if a woman is
not strictly on her guard. But you will respect your champion, will you
not?'

Harry was about to reply with wonderful briskness. He stopped, and
murmured boorishly that he was sure he was very much obliged.

Command of countenance the Countess possessed in common with her sex.
Those faces on which we make them depend entirely, women can entirely
control. Keenly sensible to humour as the Countess was, her face sidled
up to his immovably sweet. Harry looked, and looked away, and looked
again. The poor fellow was so profoundly aware of his foolishness that he
even doubted whether he was admired.

The Countess trifled with his English nature; quietly watched him bob
between tugging humility and airy conceit, and went on:

'Yes! I will trust you, and that is saying very much, for what protection
is a brother? I am alone here--defenceless!'

Men, of course, grow virtuously zealous in an instant on behalf of the
lovely dame who tells them bewitchingly, she is alone and defenceless,
with pitiful dimples round the dewy mouth that entreats their
guardianship and mercy!

The provincial Don Juan found words--a sign of clearer sensations within.
He said:

'Upon my honour, I'd look after you better than fifty brothers!'

The Countess eyed him softly, and then allowed herself the luxury of a
laugh.

'No, no! it is not the sheep, it is the wolf I fear.'

And she went through a bit of the concluding portion of the drama of
Little Red Riding Hood very prettily, and tickled him so that he became
somewhat less afraid of her.

'Are you truly so bad as report would have you to be, Mr. Harry?' she
asked, not at all in the voice of a censor.

'Pray don't think me--a--anything you wouldn't have me,' the youth
stumbled into an apt response.

'We shall see,' said the Countess, and varied her admiration for the
noble creature beside her with gentle ejaculations on the beauty of the
deer that ranged the park of Beckley Court, the grand old oaks and
beeches, the clumps of flowering laurel, and the rich air swarming
Summer.

She swept out her arm. 'And this most magnificent estate will be yours?
How happy will she be who is led hither to reside by you, Mr. Harry!'

'Mine? No; there's the bother,' he answered, with unfeigned chagrin.
'Beckley isn't Elburne property, you know. It belongs to old Mrs. Bonner,
Rose's grandmama.'

'Oh!' interjected the Countess, indifferently.

'I shall never get it--no chance,' Harry pursued. 'Lost my luck with the
old lady long ago.' He waxed excited on a subject that drew him from his
shamefacedness. 'It goes to Juley Bonner, or to Rosey; it's a toss-up
which. If I'd stuck up to Juley, I might have had a pretty fair chance.
They wanted me to, that's why I scout the premises. But fancy Juley
Bonner!'

'You couldn't, upon your honour!' rhymed the Countess. (And Harry let
loose a delighted 'Ha! ha!' as at a fine stroke of wit.) 'Are we
enamoured of a beautiful maiden, Senor Harry?'

'Not a bit,' he assured her eagerly. 'I don't know any girl. I don't care
for 'em. I don't, really.'

The Countess impressively declared to him that he must be guided by her;
and that she might the better act his monitress, she desired to hear the
pedigree of the estate, and the exact relations in which it at present
stood toward the Elburne family.

Glad of any theme he could speak on, Harry informed her that Beckley
Court was bought by his grandfather Bonner from the proceeds of a
successful oil speculation.

'So we ain't much on that side,' he said.

'Oil!' was the Countess's weary exclamation. 'I imagined Beckley Court to
be your ancestral mansion. Oil!'

Harry deprecatingly remarked that oil was money.

'Yes,' she replied; 'but you are not one to mix oil with your Elburne
blood. Let me see--oil! That, I conceive, is grocery. So, you are grocers
on one side!'

'Oh, come! hang it!' cried Harry, turning red.

'Am I leaning on the grocer's side, or on the lord's?'

Harry felt dreadfully taken down. 'One ranks with one's father,' he said.

'Yes,' observed the Countess; 'but you should ever be careful not to
expose the grocer. When I beheld my brother bow to you, and that your
only return was to stare at him in that singular way, I was not aware of
this, and could not account for it.'

I declare I'm very sorry,' said Harry, with a nettled air. 'Do just let
me tell you how it happened. We were at an inn, where there was an odd
old fellow gave a supper; and there was your brother, and another
fellow--as thorough an upstart as I ever met, and infernally impudent. He
got drinking, and wanted to fight us. Now I see it! Your brother, to save
his friend's bones, said he was a tailor! Of course no gentleman could
fight a tailor; and it blew over with my saying we'd order our clothes of
him.'

'Said he was a--!' exclaimed the Countess, gazing blankly.

'I don't wonder at your feeling annoyed,' returned Harry. 'I saw him with
Rosey next day, and began to smell a rat then, but Laxley won't give up
the tailor. He's as proud as Lucifer. He wanted to order a suit of your
brother to-day; but I said--not while he's in the house, however he came
here.'

The Countess had partially recovered. They were now in the village
street, and Harry pointed out the post-office.

'Your divination with regard to my brother's most eccentric behaviour was
doubtless correct,' she said. 'He wished to succour his wretched
companion. Anywhere--it matters not to him what!--he allies himself with
miserable mortals. He is the modern Samaritan. You should thank him for
saving you an encounter with some low creature.'

Swaying the letter to and fro, she pursued archly: 'I can read your
thoughts. You are dying to know to whom this dear letter is addressed!'

Instantly Harry, whose eyes had previously been quite empty of
expression, glanced at the letter wistfully.

Shall I tell you?'

'Yes, do.'

'It's to somebody I love.'

'Are you in love then?' was his disconcerted rejoinder.

'Am I not married?'

'Yes; but every woman that's married isn't in love with her husband, you
know.'

'Oh! Don Juan of the provinces!' she cried, holding the seal of the
letter before him in playful reproof. 'Fie!'

'Come! who is it?' Harry burst out.

'I am not, surely, obliged to confess my correspondence to you?
Remember!' she laughed lightly. 'He already assumes the airs of a lord
and master! You are rapid, Mr. Harry.'

'Won't you really tell me?' he pleaded.

She put a corner of the letter in the box. 'Must I?'

All was done with the archest elegance: the bewildering condescension of
a Goddess to a boor.

'I don't say you must, you know: but I should like to see it,' returned
Harry.

'There!' She showed him a glimpse of 'Mrs.,' cleverly concealing plebeian
'Cogglesby,' and the letter slid into darkness. 'Are you satisfied?'

'Yes,' said Harry, wondering why he felt a relief at the sight of 'Mrs.'
written on a letter by a lady he had only known half an hour.

'And now,' said she, 'I shall demand a boon of you, Mr. Harry. Will it be
accorded?'

She was hurriedly told that she might count upon him for whatever she
chose to ask; and after much trifling and many exaggerations of the boon
in question, he heard that she had selected him as her cavalier for the
day, and that he was to consent to accompany her to the village church.

'Is it so great a request, the desire that you should sit beside a
solitary lady for so short a space?' she asked, noting his rueful visage.

Harry assured her he would be very happy, but hinted at the bother of
having to sit and listen to that fool of a Parsley: again assuring her,
and with real earnestness, which the lady now affected to doubt, that he
would be extremely happy.

'You know, I haven't been there for ages,' he explained.

'I hear it!' she sighed, aware of the credit his escort would bring her
in Beckley, and especially with Harry's grandmama Bonner.

They went together to the village church. The Countess took care to be
late, so that all eyes beheld her stately march up the aisle, with her
captive beside her.

Nor was her captive less happy than he professed he would be. Charming
comic side-play, at the expense of Mr. Parsley, she mingled with
exceeding devoutness, and a serious attention to Mr. Parsley's discourse.
In her heart this lady really thought her confessed daily sins forgiven
her by the recovery of the lost sheep to Mr. Parsley's fold. The results
of this small passage of arms were, that Evan's disclosure at Fallow
field was annulled in the mind of Harry Jocelyn, and the latter gentleman
became the happy slave of the Countess de Saldar.



CHAPTER XVI

LEADS TO A SMALL SKIRMISH BETWEEN ROSE AND EVAN

Lady Jocelyn belonged properly to that order which the Sultans and the
Roxalanas of earth combine to exclude from their little games, under the
designation of blues, or strong-minded women: a kind, if genuine, the
least dangerous and staunchest of the sex, as poor fellows learn when the
flippant and the frail fair have made mummies of them. She had the
frankness of her daughter, the same direct eyes and firm step: a face
without shadows, though no longer bright with youth. It may be charged to
her as one of the errors of her strong mind, that she believed friendship
practicable between men and women, young or old. She knew the world
pretty well, and was not amazed by extraordinary accidents; but as she
herself continued to be an example of her faith: we must presume it
natural that her delusion should cling to her. She welcomed Evan as her
daughter's friend, walked half-way across the room to meet him on his
introduction to her, and with the simple words, 'I have heard of you,'
let him see that he stood upon his merits in her house. The young man's
spirit caught something of hers even in their first interview, and at
once mounted to that level. Unconsciously he felt that she took, and
would take him, for what he was, and he rose to his worth in the society
she presided over. A youth like Evan could not perceive, that in loving
this lady's daughter, and accepting the place she offered him, he was
guilty of a breach of confidence; or reflect, that her entire absence of
suspicion imposed upon him a corresponding honesty toward her. He fell
into a blindness. Without dreaming for a moment that she designed to
encourage his passion for Rose, he yet beheld himself in the light she
had cast on him; and, received as her daughter's friend, it seemed to him
not so utterly monstrous that he might be her daughter's lover. A
haughty, a grand, or a too familiar manner, would have kept his eyes
clearer on his true condition. Lady Jocelyn spoke to his secret nature,
and eclipsed in his mind the outward aspects with which it was warring.
To her he was a gallant young man, a fit companion for Rose, and when she
and Sir Franks said, and showed him, that they were glad to know him, his
heart swam in a flood of happiness they little suspected.

This was another of the many forms of intoxication to which circumstances
subjected the poor lover. In Fallow field, among impertinent young men,
Evan's pride proclaimed him a tailor. At Beckley Court, acted on by one
genuine soul, he forgot it, and felt elate in his manhood. The shades of
Tailordom dispersed like fog before the full South-west breeze. When I
say he forgot it, the fact was present enough to him, but it became an
outward fact: he had ceased to feel it within him. It was not a portion
of his being, hard as Mrs. Mel had struck to fix it. Consequently, though
he was in a far worse plight than when he parted with Rose on board the
Jocasta, he felt much less of an impostor now. This may have been partly
because he had endured his struggle with the Demogorgon the Countess
painted to him in such frightful colours, and found him human after all;
but it was mainly owing to the hearty welcome Lady Jocelyn had extended
to him as the friend of Rose.

Loving Rose, he nevertheless allowed his love no tender liberties. The
eyes of a lover are not his own; but his hands and lips are, till such
time as they are claimed. The sun must smile on us with peculiar warmth
to woo us forth utterly-pluck our hearts out. Rose smiled on many. She
smiled on Drummond Forth, Ferdinand Laxley, William Harvey, and her
brother Harry; and she had the same eyes for all ages. Once, previous to
the arrival of the latter three, there was a change in her look, or Evan
fancied it. They were going to ride out together, and Evan, coming to his
horse on the gravel walk, saw her talking with Drummond Forth. He
mounted, awaiting her, and either from a slight twinge of jealousy, or to
mark her dainty tread with her riding-habit drawn above her heels, he
could not help turning his head occasionally. She listened to Drummond
with attention, but presently broke from him, crying: 'It's an absurdity.
Speak to them yourself--I shall not.'

On the ride that day, she began prattling of this and that with the
careless glee that became her well, and then sank into a reverie.
Between-whiles her eyes had raised tumults in Evan's breast by dropping
on him in a sort of questioning way, as if she wished him to speak, or
wished to fathom something she would rather have unspoken. Ere they had
finished their ride, she tossed off what burden may have been on her mind
as lightly as a stray lock from her shoulders. He thought that the
singular look recurred. It charmed him too much for him to speculate on
it.

The Countess's opportune ally, the gout, which had reduced the Hon.
Melville Jocelyn's right hand to a state of uselessness, served her with
her brother equally: for, having volunteered his services to the
invalided diplomatist, it excused his stay at Beckley Court to himself,
and was a mask to his intimacy with Rose, besides earning him the thanks
of the family. Harry Jocelyn, released from the wing of the Countess,
came straight to him, and in a rough kind of way begged Evan to overlook
his rudeness.

'You took us all in at Fallow field, except Drummond,' he said. 'Drummond
would have it you were joking. I see it now. And you're a confoundedly
clever fellow into the bargain, or you wouldn't be quill-driving for
Uncle Mel. Don't be uppish about it--will you?'

'You have nothing to fear on that point,' said Evan. With which promise
the peace was signed between them. Drummond and William Harvey were
cordial, and just laughed over the incident. Laxley, however, held aloof.
His retention of ideas once formed befitted his rank and station. Some
trifling qualms attended Evan's labours with the diplomatist; but these
were merely occasioned by the iteration of a particular phrase. Mr.
Goren, an enthusiastic tailor, had now and then thrown out to Evan
stirring hints of an invention he claimed: the discovery of a Balance in
Breeches: apparently the philosopher's stone of the tailor craft, a
secret that should ensure harmony of outline to the person and an
indubitable accommodation to the most difficult legs.

Since Adam's expulsion, it seemed, the tailors of this wilderness had
been in search of it. But like the doctors of this wilderness, their
science knew no specific: like the Babylonian workmen smitten with
confusion of tongues, they had but one word in common, and that word was
'cut.' Mr. Goren contended that to cut was not the key of the science:
but to find a Balance was. An artistic admirer of the frame of man, Mr.
Goren was not wanting in veneration for the individual who had arisen to
do it justice. He spoke of his Balance with supreme self-appreciation.
Nor less so the Honourable Melville, who professed to have discovered the
Balance of Power, at home and abroad. It was a capital Balance, but
inferior to Mr. Goren's. The latter gentleman guaranteed a Balance with
motion: whereas one step not only upset the Honourable Melville's, but
shattered the limbs of Europe. Let us admit, that it is easier to fit a
man's legs than to compress expansive empires.

Evan enjoyed the doctoring of kingdoms quite as well as the diplomatist.
It suited the latent grandeur of soul inherited by him from the great
Mel. He liked to prop Austria and arrest the Czar, and keep a watchful
eye on France; but the Honourable Melville's deep-mouthed phrase conjured
up to him a pair of colossal legs imperiously demanding their Balance
likewise. At first the image scared him. In time he was enabled to smile
it into phantom vagueness. The diplomatist diplomatically informed him,
it might happen that the labours he had undertaken might be neither more
nor less than education for a profession he might have to follow. Out of
this, an ardent imagination, with the Countess de Saldar for an
interpreter, might construe a promise of some sort. Evan soon had high
hopes. What though his name blazed on a shop-front? The sun might yet
illumine him to honour!

Where a young man is getting into delicate relations with a young woman,
the more of his sex the better--they serve as a blind; and the Countess
hailed fresh arrivals warmly. There was Sir John Loring, Dorothy's
father, who had married the eldest of the daughters of Lord Elburne. A
widower, handsome, and a flirt, he capitulated to the Countess instantly,
and was played off against the provincial Don Juan, who had reached that
point with her when youths of his description make bashful confidences of
their successes, and receive delicious chidings for their
naughtiness--rebukes which give immeasurable rebounds. Then came Mr.
Gordon Graine, with his daughter, Miss Jenny Graine, an early friend of
Rose's, and numerous others. For the present, Miss Isabella Current need
only be chronicled among the visitors--a sprightly maid fifty years old,
without a wrinkle to show for it--the Aunt Bel of fifty houses where
there were young women and little boys. Aunt Bel had quick wit and
capital anecdotes, and tripped them out aptly on a sparkling tongue with
exquisite instinct for climax and when to strike for a laugh. No sooner
had she entered the hall than she announced the proximate arrival of the
Duke of Belfield at her heels, and it was known that his Grace was as
sure to follow as her little dog, who was far better paid for his
devotion.

The dinners at Beckley Court had hitherto been rather languid to those
who were not intriguing or mixing young love with the repast. Miss
Current was an admirable neutral, sent, as the Countess fervently
believed, by Providence. Till now the Countess had drawn upon her own
resources to amuse the company, and she had been obliged to restrain
herself from doing it with that unctuous feeling for rank which warmed
her Portuguese sketches in low society and among her sisters. She retired
before Miss Current and formed audience, glad of a relief to her
inventive labour. While Miss Current and her ephemerals lightly skimmed
the surface of human life, the Countess worked in the depths. Vanities,
passions, prejudices beneath the surface, gave her full employment. How
naturally poor Juliana Bonner was moved to mistake Evan's compassion for
a stronger sentiment! The Countess eagerly assisted Providence to shuffle
the company into their proper places. Harry Jocelyn was moodily happy,
but good; greatly improved in the eyes of his grandmama Bonner, who
attributed the change to the Countess, and partly forgave her the sinful
consent to the conditions of her love-match with the foreign Count, which
his penitent wife had privately confessed to that strict Churchwoman.

'Thank Heaven that you have no children,' Mrs. Bonner had said; and the
Countess humbly replied:

'It is indeed my remorseful consolation!'

'Who knows that it is not your punishment?' added Mrs. Bonner; the
Countess weeping.

She went and attended morning prayers in Mrs. Bonner's apartments, alone
with the old lady. 'To make up for lost time in Catholic Portugal!' she
explained it to the household.

On the morning after Miss Current had come to shape the party, most of
the inmates of Beckley Court being at breakfast, Rose gave a lead to the
conversation.

'Aunt Bel! I want to ask you something. We've been making bets about you.
Now, answer honestly, we're all friends. Why did you refuse all your
offers?'

'Quite simple, child,' replied the unabashed ex-beauty.

'A matter of taste. I liked twenty shillings better than a sovereign.'

Rose looked puzzled, but the men laughed, and Rose exclaimed:

'Now I see! How stupid I am! You mean, you may have friends when you are
not married. Well, I think that's the wisest, after all. You don't lose
them, do you? Pray, Mr. Evan, are you thinking Aunt Bel might still alter
her mind for somebody, if she knew his value?'

'I was presuming to hope there might be a place vacant among the twenty,'
said Evan, slightly bowing to both. 'Am I pardoned?'

'I like you!' returned Aunt Bel, nodding at him. 'Where do you come from?
A young man who'll let himself go for small coin's a jewel worth
knowing.'

'Where do I come from?' drawled Laxley, who had been tapping an egg with
a dreary expression.

'Aunt Bel spoke to Mr. Harrington,' said Rose, pettishly.

'Asked him where he came from,' Laxley continued his drawl. 'He didn't
answer, so I thought it polite for another of the twenty to strike in.'

'I must thank you expressly,' said Evan, and achieved a cordial bow.

Rose gave Evan one of her bright looks, and then called the attention of
Ferdinand Laxley to the fact that he had lost a particular bet made among
them.

'What bet?' asked Laxley. 'About the profession?'

A stream of colour shot over Rose's face. Her eyes flew nervously from
Laxley to Evan, and then to Drummond. Laxley appeared pleased as a man
who has made a witty sally: Evan was outwardly calm, while Drummond
replied to the mute appeal of Rose, by saying:

'Yes; we've all lost. But who could hit it? The lady admits no sovereign
in our sex.'

'So you've been betting about me?' said Aunt Bel. 'I 'll settle the
dispute. Let him who guessed "Latin" pocket the stakes, and, if I guess
him, let him hand them over to me.'

'Excellent!' cried Rose. 'One did guess "Latin," Aunt Bel! Now, tell us
which one it was.'

'Not you, my dear. You guessed "temper."'

'No! you dreadful Aunt Bel!'

'Let me see,' said Aunt Bel, seriously. 'A young man would not marry a
woman with Latin, but would not guess it the impediment. Gentlemen
moderately aged are mad enough to slip their heads under any yoke, but
see the obstruction. It was a man of forty guessed "Latin." I request the
Hon. Hamilton Everard Jocelyn to confirm it.'

Amid laughter and exclamations Hamilton confessed himself the man who had
guessed Latin to be the cause of Miss Current's remaining an old maid;
Rose, crying:

'You really are too clever, Aunt Bel!'

A divergence to other themes ensued, and then Miss Jenny Graine said:
'Isn't Juley learning Latin? I should like to join her while I'm here.'

'And so should I,' responded Rose. 'My friend Evan is teaching her during
the intervals of his arduous diplomatic labours. Will you take us into
your class, Evan?'

'Don't be silly, girls,' interposed Aunt Bel. 'Do you want to graduate
for my state with your eyes open?'

Evan objected his poor qualifications as a tutor, and Aunt Bel remarked,
that if Juley learnt Latin at all, she should have regular instruction.

'I am quite satisfied,' said Juley, quietly.

'Of course you are,' Rose snubbed her cousin. 'So would anybody be. But
Mama really was talking of a tutor for Juley, if she could find one.
There's a school at Bodley; but that's too far for one of the men to come
over.'

A school at Bodley! thought Evan, and his probationary years at the
Cudford Establishment rose before him; and therewith, for the first time
since his residence at Beckley, the figure of John Raikes.

'There's a friend of mine,' he said, aloud, 'I think if Lady Jocelyn does
wish Miss Bonner to learn Latin thoroughly, he would do very well for the
groundwork and would be glad of the employment. He is very poor.'

'If he's poor, and a friend of yours, Evan, we'll have him,' said Rose:
'we'll ride and fetch him.'

'Yes,' added Miss Carrington, 'that must be quite sufficient
qualification.'

Juliana was not gazing gratefully at Evan for his proposal.

Rose asked the name of Evan's friend. 'His name is Raikes,' answered
Evan. 'I don't know where he is now. He may be at Fallow field. If Lady
Jocelyn pleases, I will ride over to-day and see.'

'My dear Evan!' cried Rose, 'you don't mean that absurd figure we saw on
the cricket-field?' She burst out laughing. 'Oh! what fun it will be! Let
us have him here by all means.'

'I shall not bring him to be laughed at,' said Evan.

'I will remember he is your friend,' Rose returned demurely; and again
laughed, as she related to Jenny Graine the comic appearance Mr. Raikes
had presented.

Laxley waited for a pause, and then said: 'I have met this Mr. Raikes. As
a friend of the family, I should protest against his admission here in
any office whatever into the upper part of the house, at least. He is not
a gentleman.'

We don't want teachers to be gentlemen,' observed Rose.

'This fellow is the reverse,' Laxley pronounced, and desired Harry to
confirm it; but Harry took a gulp of coffee.

'Oblige me by recollecting that I have called him a friend of mine,' said
Evan.

Rose murmured to him: 'Pray forgive me! I forgot.' Laxley hummed
something about 'taste.' Aunt Bel led from the theme by a lively
anecdote.

After breakfast the party broke into knots, and canvassed Laxley's
behaviour to Evan, which was generally condemned. Rose met the young men
strolling on the lawn; and, with her usual bluntness, accused Laxley of
wishing to insult her friend.

'I speak to him--do I not?' said Laxley. 'What would you have more? I
admit the obligation of speaking to him when I meet him in your house.
Out of it--that 's another matter.'

'But what is the cause for your conduct to him, Ferdinand?'

'By Jove!' cried Harry, 'I wonder he puts up with it I wouldn't. I'd
have a shot with you, my boy.'

'Extremely honoured,' said Laxley. 'But neither you nor I care to fight
tailors.'

'Tailors!' exclaimed Rose. There was a sharp twitch in her body, as if
she had been stung or struck.

'Look here, Rose,' said Laxley; 'I meet him, he insults me, and to get
out of the consequences tells me he's the son of a tailor, and a tailor
himself; knowing that it ties my hands. Very well, he puts himself hors
de combat to save his bones. Let him unsay it, and choose whether he 'll
apologize or not, and I'll treat him accordingly. At present I'm not
bound to do more than respect the house I find he has somehow got
admission to.'

'It's clear it was that other fellow,' said Harry, casting a side-glance
up at the Countess's window.

Rose looked straight at Laxley, and abruptly turned on her heel.

In the afternoon, Lady Jocelyn sent a message to Evan that she wished to
see him. Rose was with her mother. Lady Jocelyn had only to say, that if
he thought his friend a suitable tutor for Miss Bonner, they would be
happy to give him the office at Beckley Court. Glad to befriend poor
Jack, Evan gave the needful assurances, and was requested to go and fetch
him forthwith. When he left the room, Rose marched out silently beside
him.

'Will you ride over with me, Rose?' he said, though scarcely anxious that
she should see Mr. Raikes immediately.

The singular sharpness of her refusal astonished him none the less.

'Thank you, no; I would rather not.'

A lover is ever ready to suspect that water has been thrown on the fire
that burns for him in the bosom of his darling. Sudden as the change was,
it was very decided. His sensitive ears were pained by the absence of his
Christian name, which her lips had lavishly made sweet to him. He stopped
in his walk.

'You spoke of riding to Fallow field. Is it possible you don't want me to
bring my friend here? There's time to prevent it.'

Judged by the Countess de Saldar, the behaviour of this well-born English
maid was anything but well-bred. She absolutely shrugged her shoulders
and marched a-head of him into the conservatory, where she began smelling
at flowers and plucking off sere leaves.

In such cases a young man always follows; as her womanly instinct must
have told her, for she expressed no surprise when she heard his voice two
minutes after.

'Rose! what have I done?'

'Nothing at all,' she said, sweeping her eyes over his a moment, and
resting them on the plants.

'I must have uttered something that has displeased you.'

'No.'

Brief negatives are not re-assuring to a lover's uneasy mind.

'I beg you--Be frank with me, Rose!'

A flame of the vanished fire shone in her face, but subsided, and she
shook her head darkly.

'Have you any objection to my friend?'

Her fingers grew petulant with an orange leaf. Eyeing a spot on it, she
said, hesitatingly:

'Any friend of yours I am sure I should like to help. But--but I wish you
wouldn't associate with that--that kind of friend. It gives people all
sorts of suspicions.'

Evan drew a sharp breath.

The voices of Master Alec and Miss Dorothy were heard shouting on the
lawn. Alec gave Dorothy the slip and approached the conservatory on
tip-toe, holding his hand out behind him to enjoin silence and secrecy.
The pair could witness the scene through the glass before Evan spoke.

'What suspicions?' he asked.

Rose looked up, as if the harshness of his tone pleased her.

'Do you like red roses best, or white?' was her answer, moving to a
couple of trees in pots.

'Can't make up your mind?' she continued, and plucked both a white and
red rose, saying: 'There! choose your colour by-and-by,' and ask Juley to
sew the one you choose in your button-hole.'

She laid the roses in his hand, and walked away. She must have known that
there was a burden of speech on his tongue. She saw him move to follow
her, but this time she did not linger, and it may be inferred that she
wished to hear no more.



CHAPTER XVII

IN WHICH EVAN WRITES HIMSELF TAILOR

The only philosophic method of discovering what a young woman means, and
what is in her mind, is that zigzag process of inquiry conducted by
following her actions, for she can tell you nothing, and if she does not
want to know a particular matter, it must be a strong beam from the
central system of facts that shall penetrate her. Clearly there was a
disturbance in the bosom of Rose Jocelyn, and one might fancy that
amiable mirror as being wilfully ruffled to confuse a thing it was asked
by the heavens to reflect: a good fight fought by all young people at a
certain period, and now and then by an old fool or two. The young it
seasons and strengthens; the old it happily kills off; and thus, what is,
is made to work harmoniously with what we would have be.

After quitting Evan, Rose hied to her friend Jenny Graine, and in the
midst of sweet millinery talk, darted the odd question, whether baronets
or knights ever were tradesmen: to which Scottish Jenny, entirely putting
aside the shades of beatified aldermen and the illustrious list of mayors
that have welcomed royalty, replied that it was a thing quite impossible.
Rose then wished to know if tailors were thought worse of than other
tradesmen. Jenny, premising that she was no authority, stated she
imagined she had heard that they were.

'Why?' said Rose, no doubt because she was desirous of seeing justice
dealt to that class. But Jenny's bosom was a smooth reflector of facts
alone.

Rose pondered, and said with compressed eagerness, 'Jenny, do you think
you could ever bring yourself to consent to care at all for anybody ever
talked of as belonging to them? Tell me.'

Now Jenny had come to Beckley Court to meet William Harvey: she was
therefore sufficiently soft to think she could care for him whatever his
origin were, and composed in the knowledge that no natal stigma was upon
him to try the strength of her affection. Designing to generalize, as
women do (and seem tempted to do most when they are secretly speaking
from their own emotions), she said, shyly moving her shoulders, with a
forefinger laying down the principle:

'You know, my dear, if one esteemed such a person very very much, and
were quite sure, without any doubt, that he liked you in return--that is,
completely liked you, and was quite devoted, and made no concealment--I
mean, if he was very superior, and like other men--you know what I
mean--and had none of the cringing ways some of them have--I mean;
supposing him gay and handsome, taking--'

'Just like William,' Rose cut her short; and we may guess her to have had
some one in her head for her to conceive that Jenny must be speaking of
any one in particular.

A young lady who can have male friends, as well as friends of her own
sex, is not usually pressing and secret in her confidences, possibly
because such a young lady is not always nursing baby-passions, and does
not require her sex's coddling and posseting to keep them alive. With
Rose love will be full grown when it is once avowed, and will know where
to go to be nourished.

'Merely an idea I had,' she said to Jenny, who betrayed her mental
pre-occupation by putting the question for the questions last.

Her Uncle Melville next received a visit from the restless young woman.
To him she spoke not a word of the inferior classes, but as a special
favourite of the diplomatist's, begged a gift of him for her proximate
birthday. Pushed to explain what it was, she said, 'It's something I want
you to do for a friend of mine, Uncle Mel.'

The diplomatist instanced a few of the modest requests little maids
prefer to people they presume to have power to grant.

'No, it's nothing nonsensical,' said Rose; 'I want you to get my friend
Evan an appointment. You can if you like, you know, Uncle Mel, and it's a
shame to make him lose his time when he's young and does his work so
well--that you can't deny! Now, please, be positive, Uncle Mel. You know
I hate--I have no faith in your 'nous verrons'. Say you will, and at
once.'

The diplomatist pretended to have his weather-eye awakened.

'You seem very anxious about feathering the young fellow's nest, Rosey?'

'There,' cried Rose, with the maiden's mature experience of us, 'isn't
that just like men? They never can believe you can be entirely
disinterested!'

'Hulloa!' the diplomatist sung out, 'I didn't say anything, Rosey.'

She reddened at her hastiness, but retrieved it by saying:

'No, but you listen to your wife; you know you do, Uncle Mel; and now
there's Aunt Shorne and the other women, who make you think just what
they like about me, because they hate Mama.'

'Don't use strong words, my dear.'

'But it's abominable!' cried Rose. 'They asked Mama yesterday what Evan's
being here meant? Why, of course, he's your secretary, and my friend, and
Mama very properly stopped them, and so will I! As for me, I intend to
stay at Beckley, I can tell you, dear old boy.' Uncle Mel had a soft arm
round his neck, and was being fondled. 'And I 'm not going to be bred up
to go into a harem, you may be sure.'

The diplomatist whistled, 'You talk your mother with a vengeance, Rosey.'

'And she's the only sensible woman I know,' said Rose. 'Now promise
me--in earnest. Don't let them mislead you, for you know you're quite a
child, out of your politics, and I shall take you in hand myself. Why,
now, think, Uncle Mel! wouldn't any girl, as silly as they make me out,
hold her tongue--not talk of him, as I do; and because I really do feel
for him as a friend. See the difference between me and Juley!'

It was a sad sign if Rose was growing a bit of a hypocrite, but this
instance of Juliana's different manner of showing her feelings toward
Evan would have quieted suspicion in shrewder men, for Juliana watched
Evan's shadow, and it was thought by two or three at Beckley Court, that
Evan would be conferring a benefit on all by carrying off the
romantically-inclined but little presentable young lady.

The diplomatist, with a placid 'Well, well!' ultimately promised to do
his best for Rose's friend, and then Rose said, 'Now I leave you to the
Countess,' and went and sat with her mother and Drummond Forth. The
latter was strange in his conduct to Evan. While blaming Laxley's
unmannered behaviour, he seemed to think Laxley had grounds for it, and
treated Evan with a sort of cynical deference that had, for the last
couple of days, exasperated Rose.

'Mama, you must speak to Ferdinand,' she burst upon the conversation,
'Drummond is afraid to--he can stand by and see my friend insulted.
Ferdinand is insufferable with his pride--he's jealous of everybody who
has manners, and Drummond approves him, and I will not bear it.'

Lady Jocelyn hated household worries, and quietly remarked that the young
men must fight it out together.

'No, but it's your duty to interfere, Mama,' said Rose; 'and I know you
will when I tell you that Ferdinand declares my friend Evan is a
tradesman--beneath his notice. Why, it insults me!'

Lady Jocelyn looked out from a lofty window on such veritable squabbles
of boys and girls as Rose revealed.

'Can't you help them to run on smoothly while they're here?' she said to
Drummond, and he related the scene at the Green Dragon.

'I think I heard he was the son of Sir Something Harrington, Devonshire
people,' said Lady Jocelyn.

'Yes, he is,' cried Rose, 'or closely related. I'm sure I understood the
Countess that it was so. She brought the paper with the death in it to us
in London, and shed tears over it.'

'She showed it in the paper, and shed tears over it?' said Drummond,
repressing an inclination to laugh. 'Was her father's title given in
full?'

'Sir Abraham Harrington, replied Rose. 'I think she said father, if the
word wasn't too common-place for her.'

'You can ask old Tom when he comes, if you are anxious to know,' said
Drummond to her ladyship. 'His brother married one of the sisters. By the
way, he's coming, too. He ought to clear up the mystery.'

'Now you're sneering, Drummond,' said Rose: 'for you know there 's no
mystery to clear up.'

Drummond and Lady Jocelyn began talking of old Tom Cogglesby, whom, it
appeared, the former knew intimately, and the latter had known.

'The Cogglesbys are sons of a cobbler, Rose,' said Lady Jocelyn. 'You
must try and be civil to them.'

'Of course I shall, Mama,' Rose answered seriously.

'And help the poor Countess to bear their presence as well as possible,'
said Drummond. 'The Harringtons have had to mourn a dreadful mesalliance.
Pity the Countess!'

'Oh! the Countess! the Countess!' exclaimed Rose to Drummond's pathetic
shake of the head. She and Drummond were fully agreed about the Countess;
Drummond mimicking the lady: 'In verity, she is most mellifluous!' while
Rose sugared her lips and leaned gracefully forward with 'De Saldar, let
me petition you--since we must endure our title--since it is not to be
your Louisa?' and her eyes sought the ceiling, and her hand slowly melted
into her drapery, as the Countess was wont to effect it.

Lady Jocelyn laughed, but said: 'You're too hard upon the Countess. The
female euphuist is not to be met with every day. It's a different kind
from the Precieuse. She is not a Precieuse. She has made a capital
selection of her vocabulary from Johnson, and does not work it badly, if
we may judge by Harry and Melville. Euphuism--[affectation D.W.]--in
"woman" is the popular ideal of a Duchess. She has it by nature, or she
has studied it: and if so, you must respect her abilities.'

'Yes--Harry!' said Rose, who was angry at a loss of influence over her
rough brother, 'any one could manage Harry! and Uncle Mel 's a goose. You
should see what a "female euphuist" Dorry is getting. She says in the
Countess's hearing: "Rose! I should in verity wish to play, if it were
pleasing to my sweet cousin?" I'm ready to die with laughing. I don't do
it, Mama.'

The Countess, thus being discussed, was closeted with old Mrs. Bonner:
not idle. Like Hannibal in Italy, she had crossed her Alps in attaining
Beckley Court, and here in the enemy's country the wary general found
herself under the necessity of throwing up entrenchments to fly to in
case of defeat. Sir Abraham Harrington of Torquay, who had helped her to
cross the Alps, became a formidable barrier against her return.

Meantime Evan was riding over to Fallow field, and as he rode under black
visions between the hedgeways crowned with their hop-garlands, a
fragrance of roses saluted his nostril, and he called to mind the red and
the white the peerless representative of the two had given him, and which
he had thrust sullenly in his breast-pocket and he drew them out to look
at them reproachfully and sigh farewell to all the roses of life, when in
company with them he found in his hand the forgotten letter delivered to
him on the cricket-field the day of the memorable match. He smelt at the
roses, and turned the letter this way and that. His name was correctly
worded on the outside. With an odd reluctance to open it, he kept
trifling over the flowers, and then broke the broad seal, and these are
the words that met his eyes:

'Mr. EVAN HARRINGTON.

'You have made up your mind to be a tailor, instead of a Tomnoddy. You're
right. Not too many men in the world--plenty of nincompoops.

'Don't be made a weathercock of by a parcel of women. I want to find a
man worth something. If you go on with it, you shall end by riding in
your carriage, and cutting it as fine as any of them. I 'll take care
your belly is not punished while you're about it.

'From the time your name is over your shop, I give you L300 per annum.

'Or stop. There's nine of you. They shall have L40. per annum apiece, 9
times 40, eh? That's better than L300., if you know how to reckon. Don't
you wish it was ninety-nine tailors to a man! I could do that too, and it
would not break me; so don't be a proud young ass, or I 'll throw my
money to the geese. Lots of them in the world. How many geese to a
tailor?

'Go on for five years, and I double it.

'Give it up, and I give you up.

'No question about me. The first tailor can be paid his L40 in advance,
by applying at the offices of Messrs. Grist, Gray's Inn Square, Gray's
Inn. Let him say he is tailor No. 1, and show this letter, signed Agreed,
with your name in full at bottom. This will do--money will be paid--no
questions one side or other. So on--the whole nine. The end of the year
they can give a dinner to their acquaintance. Send in bill to Messrs.
Grist.

'The advice to you to take the cash according to terms mentioned is
advice of

'A FRIEND.

'P.S. You shall have your wine. Consult among yourselves, and carry it by
majority what wine it's to be. Five carries it. Dozen and half per
tailor, per annum--that's the limit.'

It was certainly a very hot day. The pores of his skin were prickling,
and his face was fiery; and yet he increased his pace, and broke into a
wild gallop for a mile or so; then suddenly turned his horse's head back
for Beckley. The secret of which evolution was, that he had caught the
idea of a plotted insult of Laxley's in the letter, for when the blood is
up we are drawn the way the tide sets strongest, and Evan was prepared to
swear that Laxley had written the letter, because he was burning to
chastise the man who had injured him with Rose.

Sure that he was about to confirm his suspicion, he read it again, gazed
upon Beckley Court in the sultry light, and turned for Fallow field once
more, devising to consult Mr. John Raikes on the subject.

The letter had a smack of crabbed age hardly counterfeit. The savour of
an old eccentric's sour generosity was there. Evan fell into bitter
laughter at the idea of Rose glancing over his shoulder and asking him
what nine of him to a man meant. He heard her clear voice pursuing him.
He could not get away from the mocking sound of Rose beseeching him to
instruct her on that point. How if the letter were genuine? He began to
abhor the sight and touch of the paper, for it struck division cold as
death between him and his darling. He saw now the immeasurable hopes his
residence at Beckley had lured him to. Rose had slightly awakened him:
this letter was blank day to his soul. He saw the squalid shop, the good,
stern, barren-spirited mother, the changeless drudgery, the existence
which seemed indeed no better than what the ninth of a man was fit for.
The influence of his mother came on him once more. Dared he reject the
gift if true? No spark of gratitude could he feel, but chained, dragged
at the heels of his fate, he submitted to think it true; resolving the
next moment that it was a fabrication and a trap: but he flung away the
roses.

As idle as a painted cavalier upon a painted drop-scene, the figure of
Mr. John Raikes was to be observed leaning with crossed legs against a
shady pillar of the Green Dragon; eyeing alternately, with an
indifference he did not care to conceal, the assiduous pecking in the
dust of some cocks and hens that had strayed from the yard of the inn,
and the sleepy blinking in the sun of an old dog at his feet: nor did
Evan's appearance discompose the sad sedateness of his demeanour.

'Yes; I am here still,' he answered Evan's greeting, with a flaccid
gesture. 'Don't excite me too much. A little at a time. I can't bear it!'

'How now? What is it now, Jack?' said Evan.

Mr. Raikes pointed at the dog. 'I've made a bet with myself he won't wag
his tail within the next ten minutes. I beg of you, Harrington, to remain
silent for both our sakes.'

Evan was induced to look at the dog, and the dog looked at him, and
gently moved his tail.

'I 've lost!' cried Raikes, in languid anguish. 'He 's getting excited.
He'll go mad. We're not accustomed to this in Fallow field.'

Evan dismounted, and was going to tell him the news he had for him, when
his attention was distracted by the sight of Rose's maid, Polly Wheedle,
splendidly bonneted, who slipped past them into the inn, after repulsing
Jack's careless attempt to caress her chin; which caused him to tell Evan
that he could not get on without the society of intellectual women.

Evan called a boy to hold the horse.

'Have you seen her before, Jack?'

Jack replied: 'Once. Your pensioner up-stairs she comes to visit. I do
suspect there kinship is betwixt them. Ay! one might swear them sisters.
She's a relief to the monotony of the petrified street--the old man with
the brown-gaitered legs and the doubled-up old woman with the crutch. I
heard the London horn this morning.'

Evan thrust the letter in his hands, telling him to read and form an
opinion on it, and went in the track of Miss Wheedle.

Mr. Raikes resumed his station against the pillar, and held the letter
out on a level with his thigh. Acting (as it was his nature to do off the
stage), he had not exaggerated his profound melancholy. Of a light soil
and with a tropical temperament, he had exhausted all lively recollection
of his brilliant career, and, in the short time since Evan had parted
with him, sunk abjectly down into the belief that he was fixed in Fallow
field for life. His spirit pitied for agitation and events. The horn of
the London coach had sounded distant metropolitan glories in the ears of
the exile in rustic parts.

Sighing heavily, Raikes opened the letter, in simple obedience to the
wishes of his friend; for he would have preferred to stand contemplating
his own state of hopeless stagnation. The sceptical expression he put on
when he had read the letter through must not deceive us. John Raikes had
dreamed of a beneficent eccentric old gentleman for many years: one
against whom, haply, he had bumped in a crowded thoroughfare, and had
with cordial politeness begged pardon of; had then picked up his
walking-stick; restored it, venturing a witty remark; retired,
accidentally dropping his card-case; subsequently, to his astonishment
and gratification, receiving a pregnant missive from that old gentleman's
lawyer. Or it so happened that Mr. Raikes met the old gentleman at a
tavern, and, by the exercise of a signal dexterity, relieved him from a
bone in his throat, and reluctantly imparted his address on issuing from
the said tavern. Or perhaps it was a lonely highway where the old
gentleman walked, and John Raikes had his name in the papers for a deed
of heroism, nor was man ungrateful. Since he had eaten up his uncle, this
old gentleman of his dreams walked in town and country-only, and alas!
Mr. Raikes could never encounter him in the flesh. The muscles of his
face, therefore, are no index to the real feelings of the youth when he
had thoroughly mastered the contents of the letter, and reflected that
the dream of his luck--his angelic old gentleman--had gone and wantonly
bestowed himself upon Evan Harrington, instead of the expectant and far
worthier John Raikes. Worthier inasmuch as he gave him credence for
existing long ere he knew of him and beheld him manifest.

Raikes retreated to the vacant parlour of the Green Dragon, and there
Evan found him staring at the unfolded letter, his head between his
cramped fists, with a contraction of his mouth. Evan was troubled by what
he had seen up-stairs, and did not speak till Jack looked up and said,
'Oh, there you are.'

'Well, what do you think, Jack?'

'Yes--it's all right,' Raikes rejoined in most matter-of-course tone, and
then he stepped to the window, and puffed a very deep breath indeed, and
glanced from the straight line of the street to the heavens, with whom,
injured as he was, he felt more at home now that he knew them capable of
miracles.

'Is it a bad joke played upon me?' said Evan.

Raikes upset a chair. 'It's quite childish. You're made a gentleman for
life, and you ask if it's a joke played upon you! It's maddening!
There--there goes my hat!'

With a vehement kick, Mr. Raikes despatched his ancient head-gear to the
other end of the room, saying that he must have some wine, and would; and
disdainful was his look at Evan, when the latter attempted to reason him
into economy. He ordered the wine; drank a glass, which coloured a new
mood in him; and affecting a practical manner, said:

'I confess I have been a little hurt with you, Harrington. You left me
stranded on the desert isle. I thought myself abandoned. I thought I
should never see anything but the lengthening of an endless bill on my
landlady's face--my sole planet. I was resigned till I heard my friend
"to-lool!" this morning. He kindled recollection. But, this is a tidy
Port, and that was a delectable sort of young lady that you were riding
with when we parted last! She laughs like the true metal. I suppose you
know it 's the identical damsel I met the day before, and owe it to for
my run on the downs--I 've a compliment ready made for her.'

'You think that letter written in good faith?' said Evan.

'Look here.' Mr. Raikes put on a calmness. 'You got up the other night,
and said you were a tailor--a devotee of the cabbage and the goose. Why
the notion didn't strike me is extraordinary--I ought to have known my
man. However, the old gentleman who gave the supper--he's evidently one
of your beastly rich old ruffianly republicans--spent part of his time in
America, I dare say. Put two and two together.'

But as Harrington desired plain, prose, Mr. Raikes tamed his imagination
to deliver it. He pointed distinctly at the old gentleman who gave the
supper as the writer of the letter. Evan, in return, confided to him his
history and present position, and Mr. Raikes, without cooling to his
fortunate friend, became a trifle patronizing.

'You said your father--I think I remember at old Cudford's--was a cavalry
officer, a bold dragoon?'

'I did,' replied Evan. 'I told a lie.'

'We knew it; but we feared your prowess, Harrington.'

Then they talked over the singular letter uninterruptedly, and Evan, weak
among his perplexities of position and sentiment: wanting money for the
girl up-stairs, for this distasteful comrade's bill at the Green Dragon,
and for his own immediate requirements, and with the bee buzzing of Rose
in his ears: 'She despises you,' consented in a desperation ultimately to
sign his name to it, and despatch Jack forthwith to Messrs. Grist.

'You'll find it's an imposition,' he said, beginning less to think it so,
now that his name was put to the hated monstrous thing; which also now
fell to pricking at curiosity. For he was in the early steps of his
career, and if his lady, holding to pride, despised him--as, he was
tortured into the hypocrisy of confessing, she justly might, why, then,
unless he was the sport of a farceur, here seemed a gilding of the path
of duty: he could be serviceable to friends. His claim on fair young
Rose's love had grown in the short while so prodigiously asinine that it
was a minor matter to constitute himself an old eccentric's puppet.

'No more an imposition than it's 50 of Virgil,' quoth the rejected usher.

'It smells of a plot,' said Evan.

'It 's the best joke that will be made in my time,' said Mr. Raikes,
rubbing his hands.

'And now listen to your luck,' said Evan; 'I wish mine were like it!' and
Jack heard of Lady Jocelyn's offer. He heard also that the young lady he
was to instruct was an heiress, and immediately inspected his garments,
and showed the sacred necessity there was for him to refit in London,
under the hands of scientific tailors. Evan wrote him an introduction to
Mr. Goren, counted out the contents of his purse (which Jack had reduced
in his study of the pastoral game of skittles, he confessed), and
calculated in a niggardly way, how far it would go to supply the fellow's
wants; sighing, as he did it, to think of Jack installed at Beckley
Court, while Jack, comparing his luck with Evan's, had discovered it to
be dismally inferior.

'Oh, confound those bellows you keep blowing!' he exclaimed. 'I wish to
be decently polite, Harrington, but you annoy me. Excuse me, pray, but
the most unexampled case of a lucky beggar that ever was known--and to
hear him panting and ready to whimper!--it's outrageous. You've only to
put up your name, and there you are--an independent gentleman! By Jove!
this isn't such a dull world. John Raikes! thou livest in times. I feel
warm in the sun of your prosperity, Harrington. Now listen to me.
Propound thou no inquiries anywhere about the old fellow who gave the
supper. Humour his whim--he won't have it. All Fallow field is paid to
keep him secret; I know it for a fact. I plied my rustic friends every
night. "Eat you yer victuals, and drink yer beer, and none o' yer pryin's
and peerin's among we!" That's my rebuff from Farmer Broadmead. And that
old boy knows more than he will tell. I saw his cunning old eye on-cock.
Be silent, Harrington. Let discretion be the seal of thy luck.'

'You can reckon on my silence,' said Evan. 'I believe in no such folly.
Men don't do these things.'

'Ha!' went Mr. Raikes contemptuously.

Of the two he was the foolisher fellow; but quacks have cured
incomprehensible maladies, and foolish fellows have an instinct for
eccentric actions.

Telling Jack to finish the wine, Evan rose to go.

'Did you order the horse to be fed?'

'Did I order the feeding of the horse?' said Jack, rising and yawning.
'No, I forgot him. Who can think of horses now?'

'Poor brute!' muttered Evan, and went out to see to him.

The ostler had required no instructions to give the horse a feed of corn.
Evan mounted, and rode out of the yard to where Jack was standing,
bare-headed, in his old posture against the pillar, of which the shade
had rounded, and the evening sun shone full on him over a black cloud. He
now looked calmly gay.

'I 'm laughing at the agricultural Broadmead!' he said: "'None o' yer
pryin's and peerin's!" He thought my powers of amusing prodigious. "Dang
'un, he do maak a chap laugh!" Well, Harrington, that sort of homage
isn't much, I admit.'

Raikes pursued: 'There's something in a pastoral life, after all.'

'Pastoral!' muttered Evan. 'I was speaking of you at Beckley, and hope
when you're there you won't make me regret my introduction of you. Keep
your mind on old Cudford's mutton-bone.'

'I perfectly understood you,' said Jack. 'I 'm Presumed to be in luck.
Ingratitude is not my fault--I'm afraid ambition is!'

'Console yourself with it or what you can get till we meet--here or in
London. But the Dragon shall be the address for both of us,' Evan said,
and nodded, trotting off.



CHAPTER XVIII

IN WHICH EVAN CALLS HIMSELF GENTLEMAN

The young cavalier perused that letter again in memory. Genuine, or a
joke of the enemy, it spoke wakening facts to him. He leapt from the
spell Rose had encircled him with. Strange that he should have rushed
into his dream with eyes open! But he was fully awake now. He would speak
his last farewell to her, and so end the earthly happiness he paid for in
deep humiliation, and depart into that gray cold mist where his duty lay.
It is thus that young men occasionally design to burst from the circle of
the passions, and think that they have done it, when indeed they are but
making the circle more swiftly. Here was Evan mouthing his farewell to
Rose, using phrases so profoundly humble, that a listener would have
taken them for bitter irony. He said adieu to her,--pronouncing it with a
pathos to melt scornful princesses. He tried to be honest, and was as
much so as his disease permitted.

The black cloud had swallowed the sun; and turning off to the short cut
across the downs, Evan soon rode between the wind and the storm. He could
see the heavy burden breasting the beacon-point, round which curled
leaden arms, and a low internal growl saluted him advancing. The horse
laid back his ears. A last gust from the opposing quarter shook the
furzes and the clumps of long pale grass, and straight fell columns of
rattling white rain, and in a minute he was closed in by a hissing ring.
Men thus pelted abandon without protest the hope of retaining a dry
particle of clothing on their persons. Completely drenched, the track
lost, everything in dense gloom beyond the white enclosure that moved
with him, Evan flung the reins to the horse, and curiously watched him
footing on; for physical discomfort balanced his mental perturbation, and
he who had just been chafing was now quite calm.

Was that a shepherd crouched under the thorn? The place betokened a
shepherd, but it really looked like a bundle of the opposite sex; and it
proved to be a woman gathered up with her gown over her head. Apparently,
Mr. Evan Harrington was destined for these encounters. The thunder rolled
as he stopped by her side and called out to her. She heard him, for she
made a movement, but without sufficiently disengaging her head of its
covering to show him a part of her face.

Bellowing against the thunder, Evan bade her throw back her garment, and
stand and give him up her arms, that he might lift her on the horse
behind him.

There came a muffled answer, on a big sob, as it seemed. And as if heaven
paused to hear, the storm was mute.

Could he have heard correctly? The words he fancied he had heard sobbed
were:

'Best bonnet.'

The elements hereupon crashed deep and long from end to end, like a table
of Titans passing a jest.

Rain-drops, hard as hail, were spattering a pool on her head. Evan
stooped his shoulder, seized the soaked garment, and pulled it back,
revealing the features of Polly Wheedle, and the splendid bonnet in
ruins--all limp and stained.

Polly blinked at him penitentially.

'Oh, Mr. Harrington; oh, ain't I punished!' she whimpered.

In truth, the maid resembled a well-watered poppy.

Evan told her to stand up close to the horse, and Polly stood up close,
looking like a creature that expected a whipping. She was suffering, poor
thing, from that abject sense of the lack of a circumference, which takes
the pride out of women more than anything. Note, that in all material
fashions, as in all moral observances, women demand a circumference, and
enlarge it more and more as civilization advances. Respect the mighty
instinct, however mysterious it seem.

'Oh, Mr. Harrington, don't laugh at me,' said Polly.

Evan assured her that he was seriously examining her bonnet.

'It 's the bonnet of a draggletail,' said Polly, giving up her arms, and
biting her under-lip for the lift.

With some display of strength, Evan got the lean creature up behind him,
and Polly settled there, and squeezed him tightly with her arms, excusing
the liberty she took.

They mounted the beacon, and rode along the ridge whence the West became
visible, and a washed edge of red over Beckley Church spire and the woods
of Beckley Court.

'And what have you been doing to be punished? What brought you here?'
said Evan.

'Somebody drove me to Fallow field to see my poor sister Susan,' returned
Polly, half crying.

'Well, did he bring you here and leave you?

'No: he wasn't true to his appointment the moment I wanted to go back;
and I, to pay him out, I determined I'd walk it where he shouldn't
overtake me, and on came the storm . . . And my gown spoilt, and such a
bonnet!'

'Who was the somebody?'

'He's a Mr. Nicholas Frim, sir.'

'Mr. Nicholas Frim will be very unhappy, I should think.'

'Yes, that's one comfort,' said Polly ruefully, drying her eyes.

Closely surrounding a young man as a young woman must be when both are on
the same horse, they, as a rule, talk confidentially together in a very
short time. His 'Are you cold?' when Polly shivered, and her 'Oh, no; not
very,' and a slight screwing of her body up to him, as she spoke, to
assure him and herself of it, soon made them intimate.

'I think Mr. Nicholas Frim mustn't see us riding into Beckley,' said
Evan.

'Oh, my gracious! Ought I to get down, sir?' Polly made no move, however.

'Is he jealous?'

'Only when I make him, he is.'

'That's very naughty of you.'

'Yes, I know it is--all the Wheedles are. Mother says, we never go right
till we 've once got in a pickle.'

'You ought to go right from this hour,' said Evan.

'It's 'dizenzy--[?? D.W.]--does it,' said Polly. 'And then we're ashamed
to show it. My poor Susan went to stay with her aunt at Bodley, and then
at our cousin's at Hillford, and then she was off to Lymport to drown her
poor self, I do believe, when you met her. And all because we can't bear
to be seen when we 're in any of our pickles. I wish you wouldn't look at
me, Mr. Harrington.'

'You look very pretty.'

'It 's quite impossible I can now,' said Polly, with a wretched effort to
spread open her collar. 'I can see myself a fright, like my Miss Rose
did, making a face in the looking-glass when I was undressing her last
night. But, do you know, I would much rather Nicholas saw us than
somebody!

'Who's that?'

'Miss Bonner. She'd never forgive me.'

'Is she so strict?'

'She only uses servants for spies,' said Polly. 'And since my Miss Rose
come--though I'm up a step--I'm still a servant, and Miss Bonner 'd be in
a fury to see my--though I'm sure we're quite respectable, Mr.
Harrington--my having hold of you as I'm obliged to, and can't help
myself. But she'd say I ought to tumble off rather than touch her engaged
with a little finger.'

'Her engaged?' cried Evan.

'Ain't you, sir?' quoth Polly. 'I understand you were going to be, from
my lady, the Countess. We all think so at Beckley. Why, look how Miss
Bonner looks at you, and she's sure to have plenty of money.'

This was Polly's innocent way of bringing out a word about her own young
mistress.

Evan controlled any denial of his pretensions to the hand of Miss Bonner.
He said: 'Is it your mistress's habit to make faces in the
looking-glass?'

'I'll tell you how it happened,' said Polly. 'But I'm afraid I'm in your
way, sir. Shall I get off now?'

'Not by any means,' said Evan. 'Make your arm tighter.'

'Will that do?' asked Polly.

Evan looked round and met her appealing face, over which the damp locks
of hair straggled. The maid was fair: it was fortunate that he was
thinking of the mistress.

'Speak on,' said Evan, but Polly put the question whether her face did
not want washing, and so earnestly that he had to regard it again, and
compromised the case by saying that it wanted kissing by Nicholas Frim,
which set Polly's lips in a pout.

'I 'm sure it wants kissing by nobody,' she said, adding with a spasm of
passion: 'Oh! I know the colours of my bonnet are all smeared over it,
and I'm a dreadful fright.'

Evan failed to adopt the proper measures to make Miss Wheedle's mind easy
with regard to her appearance, and she commenced her story rather
languidly.

'My Miss Rose--what was it I was going to tell? Oh!--my Miss Rose. You
must know, Mr. Harrington, she's very fond of managing; I can see that,
though I haven't known her long before she gave up short frocks; and she
said to Mr. Laxley, who's going to marry her some day, "She didn't like
my lady, the Countess, taking Mr. Harry to herself like that." I can't
a-bear to speak his name, but I suppose he's not a bit more selfish than
the rest of men. So Mr. Laxley said--just like the jealousy of men--they
needn't talk of women! I'm sure nobody can tell what we have to put up
with. We mustn't look out of this eye, or out of the other, but they're
up and--oh, dear me! there's such a to-do as never was known--all for
nothing!'

'My good girl!' said Evan, recalling her to the subject-matter with all
the patience he could command.

'Where was I?' Polly travelled meditatively back. 'I do feel a little
cold.'

'Come closer,' said Evan. 'Take this handkerchief--it 's the only dry
thing I have--cover your chest with it.'

'The shoulders feel wettest,' Polly replied, 'and they can't be helped.
I'll tie it round my neck, if you'll stop, sir. There, now I'm warmer.'

To show how concisely women can narrate when they feel warmer, Polly
started off:

'So, you know, Mr. Harrington, Mr. Laxley said--he said to Miss Rose,
"You have taken her brother, and she has taken yours." And Miss Rose
said, "That was her own business, and nobody else's." And Mr. Laxley
said, "He was glad she thought it a fair exchange." I heard it all! And
then Miss Rose said--for she can be in a passion about some things"--What
do you mean, Ferdinand," was her words, "I insist upon your speaking
out." Miss Rose always will call gentlemen by their Christian names when
she likes them; that's always a sign with her. And he wouldn't tell her.
And Miss Rose got awful angry, and she's clever, is my Miss Rose, for
what does she do, Mr. Harrington, but begins praising you up so that she
knew it must make him mad, only because men can't abide praise of another
man when it's a woman that says it--meaning, young lady; for my Miss Rose
has my respect, however familiar she lets herself be to us that she
likes. The others may go and drown themselves. Are you took ill, sir?'

'No,' said Evan, 'I was only breathing.'

'The doctors say it's bad to take such long breaths,' remarked artless
Polly. 'Perhaps my arms are pressing you?'

It 's the best thing they can do,' murmured Evan, dejectedly.

'What, sir?'

'Go and drown themselves.'

Polly screwed her lips, as if she had a pin between them, and continued:
'Miss Rose was quite sensible when she praised you as her friend; she
meant it--every word; and then sudden what does Mr. Laxley do, but say
you was something else besides friend--worse or better; and she was
silent, which made him savage, I could hear by his voice. And he said,
Mr. Harrington, "You meant it if she did not." "No," says she, "I know
better; he's as honest as the day." Out he flew and said such things: he
said, Mr. Harrington, you wasn't fit to be Miss Rose's friend, even. Then
she said, she heard he had told lies about you to her Mama, and her
aunts; but her Mama, my lady, laughed at him, and she at her aunts. Then
he said you--oh, abominable of him!'

'What did he say?' asked Evan, waking up.

'Why, if I were to tell my Miss Rose some things of him,' Polly went on,
'she'd never so much as speak to him another instant.'

'What did he say?' Evan repeated.

'I hate him!' cried Polly. 'It's Mr. Laxley that misleads Mr. Harry, who
has got his good nature, and means no more harm than he can help. Oh, I
didn't hear what he said of you, sir. Only I know it was abominable,
because Miss Rose was so vexed, and you were her dearest friend.'

'Well, and about the looking-glass?'

'That was at night, Mr. Harrington, when I was undressing of her. Miss
Rose has a beautiful figure, and no need of lacing. But I'd better get
down now.'

'For heaven's sake, stay where you are.'

'I tell her she stands as if she'd been drilled for a soldier,' Polly
quietly continued. 'You're squeezing my arm with your elbow, Mr.
Harrington. It didn't hurt me. So when I had her nearly undressed, we
were talking about this and that, and you amongst 'em--and I, you know,
rather like you, sir, if you'll not think me too bold--she started off by
asking me what was the nickname people gave to tailors. It was one of her
whims. I told her they were called snips--I'm off!'

Polly gave a shriek. The horse had reared as if violently stung.

'Go on,' said Evan. 'Hold hard, and go on.'

'Snips--Oh! and I told her they were called snips. It is a word that
seems to make you hate the idea. I shouldn't like to hear my intended
called snip. Oh, he's going to gallop!'

And off in a gallop Polly was borne.

'Well,' said Evan, 'well?'

'I can't, Mr. Harrington; I have to press you so,' cried Polly; 'and I'm
bounced so--I shall bite my tongue.'

After a sharp stretch, the horse fell to a canter, and then trotted
slowly, and allowed Polly to finish.

'So Miss Rose was standing sideways to the glass, and she turned her
neck, and just as I'd said "snip," I saw her saying it in the glass; and
you never saw anything so funny. It was enough to make anybody laugh; but
Miss Rose, she seemed as if she couldn't forget how ugly it had made her
look. She covered her face with her hands, and she shuddered! It is a
word-snip! that makes you seem to despise yourself.'

Beckley was now in sight from the edge of the downs, lying in its foliage
dark under the grey sky backed by motionless mounds of vapour. Miss
Wheedle to her great surprise was suddenly though safely dropped; and on
her return to the ground the damsel instantly 'knew her place,' and
curtseyed becoming gratitude for his kindness; but he was off in a fiery
gallop, the gall of Demogorgon in his soul.

What 's that the leaves of the proud old trees of Beckley Court hiss as
he sweeps beneath them? What has suddenly cut him short? Is he diminished
in stature? Are the lackeys sneering? The storm that has passed has
marvellously chilled the air.

His sister, the Countess, once explained to him what Demogorgon was, in
the sensation it entailed. 'You are skinned alive!' said the Countess.
Evan was skinned alive. Fly, wretched young man! Summon your pride, and
fly! Fly, noble youth, for whom storms specially travel to tell you that
your mistress makes faces in the looking-glass! Fly where human lips and
noses are not scornfully distorted, and get thee a new skin, and grow and
attain to thy natural height in a more genial sphere! You, ladies and
gentlemen, who may have had a matter to conceal, and find that it is
oozing out: you, whose skeleton is seen stalking beside you, you know
what it is to be breathed upon: you, too, are skinned alive: but this
miserable youth is not only flayed, he is doomed calmly to contemplate
the hideous image of himself burning on the face of her he loves; making
beauty ghastly. In vain--for he is two hours behind the dinner-bell--Mr.
Burley, the butler, bows and offers him viands and wine. How can he eat,
with the phantom of Rose there, covering her head, shuddering, loathing
him? But he must appear in company: he has a coat, if he has not a skin.
Let him button it, and march boldly. Our comedies are frequently youth's
tragedies. We will smile reservedly as we mark Mr. Evan Harrington step
into the midst of the fair society of the drawing-room. Rose is at the
piano. Near her reclines the Countess de Saldar, fanning the languors
from her cheeks, with a word for the diplomatist on one side, a whisper
for Sir John Loring on the other, and a very quiet pair of eyes for
everybody. Providence, she is sure, is keeping watch to shield her
sensitive cuticle; and she is besides exquisitely happy, albeit outwardly
composed: for, in the room sits his Grace the Duke of Belfield, newly
arrived. He is talking to her sister, Mrs. Strike, masked by Miss
Current. The wife of the Major has come this afternoon, and Andrew
Cogglesby, who brought her, chats with Lady Jocelyn like an old
acquaintance.

Evan shakes the hands of his relatives. Who shall turn over the leaves of
the fair singer's music-book? The young men are in the billiard-room:
Drummond is engaged in converse with a lovely person with Giorgione hair,
which the Countess intensely admires, and asks the diplomatist whether he
can see a soupcon of red in it. The diplomatist's taste is for dark
beauties: the Countess is dark.

Evan must do duty by Rose. And now occurred a phenomenon in him. Instead
of shunning her, as he had rejoiced in doing after the Jocasta scene, ere
she had wounded him, he had a curious desire to compare her with the
phantom that had dispossessed her in his fancy. Unconsciously when he saw
her, he transferred the shame that devoured him, from him to her, and
gazed coldly at the face that could twist to that despicable contortion.

He was in love, and subtle love will not be shamed and smothered. Love
sits, we must remember, mostly in two hearts at the same time, and the
one that is first stirred by any of the passions to wakefulness, may know
more of the other than its owner. Why had Rose covered her head and
shuddered? Would the girl feel that for a friend? If his pride suffered,
love was not so downcast; but to avenge him for the cold she had cast on
him, it could be critical, and Evan made his bearing to her a blank.

This somehow favoured him with Rose. Sheep's eyes are a dainty dish for
little maids, and we know how largely they indulge in it; but when they
are just a bit doubtful of the quality of the sheep, let the good animal
shut his lids forthwith, for a time. Had she not been a little unkind to
him in the morning? She had since tried to help him, and that had
appeased her conscience, for in truth he was a good young man. Those very
words she mentally pronounced, while he was thinking, 'Would she feel it
for a friend?' We dare but guess at the puzzle young women present now
and then, but I should say that Evan was nearer the mark, and that the
'good young man' was a sop she threw to that within her which wanted
quieting, and was thereby passably quieted. Perhaps the good young man is
offended? Let us assure him of our disinterested graciousness.

'Is your friend coming?' she asked, and to his reply said, 'I'm glad';
and pitched upon a new song-one that, by hazard, did not demand his
attentions, and he surveyed the company to find a vacant seat with a
neighbour. Juley Bonner was curled up on the sofa, looking like a damsel
who has lost the third volume of an exciting novel, and is divining the
climax. He chose to avoid Miss Bonner. Drummond was leaving the side of
the Giorgione lady. Evan passed leisurely, and Drummond said 'You know
Mrs. Evremonde? Let me introduce you.'

He was soon in conversation with the glorious-haired dame.

'Excellently done, my brother!' thinks the Countess de Saldar.

Rose sees the matter coolly. What is it to her? But she had finished with
song. Jenny takes her place at the piano; and, as Rose does not care for
instrumental music, she naturally talks and laughs with Drummond, and
Jenny does not altogether like it, even though she is not playing to the
ear of William Harvey, for whom billiards have such attractions; but, at
the close of the performance, Rose is quiet enough, and the Countess
observes her sitting, alone, pulling the petals of a flower in her lap,
on which her eyes are fixed. Is the doe wounded? The damsel of the
disinterested graciousness is assuredly restless. She starts up and goes
out upon the balcony to breathe the night-air, mayhap regard the moon,
and no one follows her.

Had Rose been guiltless of offence, Evan might have left Beckley Court
the next day, to cherish his outraged self-love. Love of woman is
strongly distinguished from pure egoism when it has got a wound: for it
will not go into a corner complaining, it will fight its duel on the
field or die. Did the young lady know his origin, and scorn him? He
resolved to stay and teach her that the presumption she had imputed to
him was her own mistake. And from this Evan graduated naturally enough
the finer stages of self-deception downward.

A lover must have his delusions, just as a man must have a skin. But here
was another singular change in Evan. After his ale-prompted speech in
Fallow field, he was nerved to face the truth in the eyes of all save
Rose. Now that the truth had enmeshed his beloved, he turned to battle
with it; he was prepared to deny it at any moment; his burnt flesh was as
sensitive as the Countess's.

Let Rose accuse him, and he would say, 'This is true, Miss Jocelyn--what
then?' and behold Rose confused and dumb! Let not another dare suspect
it. For the fire that had scorched him was in some sort healing, though
horribly painful; but contact with the general air was not to be
endured--was death! This, I believe, is common in cases of injury by
fire. So it befell that Evan, meeting Rose the next morning was playfully
asked by her what choice he had made between the white and the red; and
he, dropping on her the shallow eyes of a conventional smile, replied,
that unable to decide and form a choice, he had thrown both away; at
which Miss Jocelyn gave him a look in the centre of his brows, let her
head slightly droop, and walked off.

'She can look serious as well as grimace,' was all that Evan allowed
himself to think, and he strolled out on the lawn with the careless
serenity of lovers when they fancy themselves heart-free.

Rose, whipping the piano in the drawing-room, could see him go to sit by
Mrs. Evremonde, till they were joined by Drummond, when he left her and
walked with Harry, and apparently shadowed the young gentleman's
unreflective face; after which Harry was drawn away by the appearance of
that dark star, the Countess de Saldar, whom Rose was beginning to
detest. Jenny glided by William Harvey's side, far off. Rose, the young
Queen of Friendship, was left deserted on her music-stool for a throne,
and when she ceased to hammer the notes she was insulted by a voice that
cried from below:

'Go on, Rose, it's nice in the sun to hear you,' causing her to close her
performances and the instrument vigorously.

Rose was much behind her age: she could not tell what was the matter with
her. In these little torments young people have to pass through they gain
a rapid maturity. Let a girl talk with her own heart an hour, and she is
almost a woman. Rose came down-stairs dressed for riding. Laxley was
doing her the service of smoking one of her rose-trees. Evan stood
disengaged, prepared for her summons. She did not notice him, but
beckoned to Laxley drooping over a bud, while the curled smoke floated
from his lips.

'The very gracefullest of chimney-pots-is he not?' says the Countess to
Harry, whose immense guffaw fails not to apprise Laxley that something
has been said of him, for in his dim state of consciousness absence of
the power of retort is the prominent feature, and when he has the
suspicion of malicious tongues at their work, all he can do is silently
to resent it. Probably this explains his conduct to Evan. Some youths
have an acute memory for things that have shut their mouths.

The Countess observed to Harry that his dear friend Mr. Laxley appeared,
by the cast of his face, to be biting a sour apple.

'Grapes, you mean?' laughed Harry. 'Never mind! she'll bite at him when
he comes in for the title.'

'Anything crude will do,' rejoined the Countess. 'Why are you not
courting Mrs. Evremonde, naughty Don?'

'Oh! she's occupied--castle's in possession. Besides--!' and Harry tried
hard to look sly.

'Come and tell me about her,' said the Countess.

Rose, Laxley, and Evan were standing close together.

'You really are going alone, Rose?' said Laxley.

'Didn't I say so?--unless you wish to join us?' She turned upon Evan.

'I am at your disposal,' said Evan.

Rose nodded briefly.

'I think I'll smoke the trees,' said Laxley, perceptibly huffing.

'You won't come, Ferdinand?'

'I only offered to fill up the gap. One does as well as another.'

Rose flicked her whip, and then declared she would not ride at all, and,
gathering up her skirts, hurried back to the house.

As Laxley turned away, Evan stood before him.

The unhappy fellow was precipitated by the devil of his false position.

'I think one of us two must quit the field; if I go I will wait for you,'
he said.

'Oh; I understand,' said Laxley. 'But if it 's what I suppose you to
mean, I must decline.'

'I beg to know your grounds.'

'You have tied my hands.'

'You would escape under cover of superior station?'

'Escape! You have only to unsay--tell me you have a right to demand it.'

The battle of the sophist victorious within him was done in a flash, as
Evan measured his qualities beside this young man's, and without a sense
of lying, said: 'I have.'

He spoke firmly. He looked the thing he called himself now. The Countess,
too, was a dazzling shield to her brother. The beautiful Mrs. Strike was
a completer vindicator of him; though he had queer associates, and talked
oddly of his family that night in Fallow field.

'Very well, sir: I admit you manage to annoy me,' said Laxley. 'I can
give you a lesson as well as another, if you want it.'

Presently the two youths were seen bowing in the stiff curt style of
those cavaliers who defer a passage of temper for an appointed
settlement. Harry rushed off to them with a shout, and they separated;
Laxley speaking a word to Drummond, Evan--most judiciously, the Countess
thought--joining his fair sister Caroline, whom the Duke held in
converse.

Drummond returned laughing to the side of Mrs. Evremonde, nearing whom,
the Countess, while one ear was being filled by Harry's eulogy of her
brother's recent handling of Laxley, and while her intense gratification
at the success of her patient management of her most difficult subject
made her smiles no mask, heard, 'Is it not impossible to suppose such a
thing?' A hush ensued--the Countess passed.

In the afternoon, the Jocelyns, William Harvey, and Drummond met together
to consult about arranging the dispute; and deputations went to Laxley
and to Evan. The former demanded an apology for certain expressions that
day; and an equivalent to an admission that Mr. Harrington had said, in
Fallow field, that he was not a gentleman, in order to escape the
consequences. All the Jocelyns laughed at his tenacity, and 'gentleman'
began to be bandied about in ridicule of the arrogant lean-headed
adolescent. Evan was placable enough, but dogged; he declined to make any
admission, though within himself he admitted that his antagonist was not
in the position of an impostor; which he for one honest word among them
would be exposed as being, and which a simple exercise of resolution to
fly the place would save him from being further.

Lady Jocelyn enjoyed the fun, and still more the serious way in which her
relatives regarded it.

'This comes of Rose having friends, Emily,' said Mrs. Shorne.

There would have been a dispute to arrange between Lady Jocelyn and Mrs.
Shorne, had not her ladyship been so firmly established in her phlegmatic
philosophy. She said: 'Quelle enfantillage! I dare say Rose was at the
bottom of it: she can settle it best. Defer the encounter between the
boys until they see they are in the form of donkeys. They will; and then
they'll run on together, as long as their goddess permits.'

'Indeed, Emily,' said Mrs. Shorne, 'I desire you, by all possible means,
to keep the occurrence secret from Rose. She ought not to hear of it.'

'No; I dare say she ought not,' returned Lady Jocelyn; 'but I wager you
she does. You can teach her to pretend not to, if you like. Ecce signum.'

Her ladyship pointed through the library window at Rose, who was walking
with Laxley, and showing him her pearly teeth in return for one of his
jokes: an exchange so manifestly unfair, that Lady Jocelyn's womanhood,
indifferent as she was, could not but feel that Rose had an object in
view; which was true, for she was flattering Laxley into a consent to
meet Evan half way.

The ladies murmured and hummed of these proceedings, and of Rose's
familiarity with Mr. Harrington; and the Countess in trepidation took
Evan to herself, and spoke to him seriously; a thing she had not done
since her residence in Beckley. She let him see that he must be on a
friendly footing with everybody in the house, or go which latter
alternative Evan told her he had decided on. 'Yes,' said the Countess,
'and then you give people full warrant to say it was jealousy drove you
hence; and you do but extinguish yourself to implicate dear Rose. In
love, Evan, when you run away, you don't live to fight another day.'

She was commanded not to speak of love.

'Whatever it may be, my dear,' said the Countess, 'Mr. Laxley has used
you ill. It may be that you put yourself at his feet'; and his sister
looked at him, sighing a great sigh. She had, with violence, stayed her
mouth concerning what she knew of the Fallow field business, dreading to
alarm his sensitiveness; but she could not avoid giving him a little
slap. It was only to make him remember by the smart that he must always
suffer when he would not be guided by her.

Evan professed to the Jocelyns that he was willing to apologize to Laxley
for certain expressions; determining to leave the house when he had done
it. The Countess heard and nodded. The young men, sounded on both sides,
were accordingly lured to the billiard-room, and pushed together: and
when he had succeeded in thrusting the idea of Rose from the dispute, it
did seem such folly to Evan's common sense, that he spoke with pleasant
bonhommie about it. That done, he entered into his acted part, and
towered in his conceit considerably above these aristocratic boors, who
were speechless and graceless, but tigers for their privileges and
advantages.

It will not be thought that the Countess intended to permit her brother's
departure. To have toiled, and yet more, to have lied and fretted her
conscience, for nothing, was as little her principle, as to quit the
field of action till she is forcibly driven from it is that of any woman.

'Going, my dear,' she said coolly. 'To-morrow? Oh! very well. You are the
judge. And this creature--the insolvent to the apple-woman, who is
coming, whom you would push here--will expose us, without a soul to guide
his conduct, for I shall not remain. And Carry will not remain.
Carry---!' The Countess gave a semisob. 'Carry must return to her
brute--' meaning the gallant Marine, her possessor.

And the Countess, knowing that Evan loved his sister Caroline,
incidentally related to him an episode in the domestic life of Major and
Mrs. Strike.

'Greatly redounding to the credit of the noble martinet for the
discipline he upholds,' the Countess said, smiling at the stunned youth.

'I would advise you to give her time to recover from one bruise,' she
added. 'You will do as it pleases you.'

Evan was sent rushing from the Countess to Caroline, with whom the
Countess was content to leave him.

The young man was daintily managed. Caroline asked him to stay, as she
did not see him often, and (she brought it in at the close) her home was
not very happy. She did not entreat him, but looking resigned, her lovely
face conjured up the Major to Evan, and he thought, 'Can I drive her back
to her tyrant?' For so he juggled with himself to have but another day in
the sunshine of Rose.

Andrew, too, threw out genial hints about the Brewery. Old Tom intended
to retire, he said, and then they would see what they would see! He
silenced every word about Lymport; called him a brewer already, and made
absurd jokes, that were serviceable stuff nevertheless to the Countess,
who deplored to this one and to that the chance existing that Evan might,
by the urgent solicitations of his brother-in-law, give up diplomacy and
its honours for a brewery and lucre!

Of course Evan knew that he was managed. The memoirs of a managed man
have yet to be written; but if he be sincere he will tell you that he
knew it all the time. He longed for the sugar-plum; he knew it was
naughty to take it: he dared not for fear of the devil, and he shut his
eyes while somebody else popped it into his mouth, and assumed his
responsibility. Being man-driven or chicaned, is different from being
managed. Being managed implies being led the way this other person thinks
you should go: altogether for your own benefit, mind: you are to see with
her eyes, that you may not disappoint your own appetites: which does not
hurt the flesh, certainly; but does damage the conscience; and from the
moment you have once succumbed, that function ceases to perform its
office of moral strainer so well.

After all, was he not happier when he wrote himself tailor, than when he
declared himself gentleman?

So he now imagined, till Rose, wishing him 'Good night' on the balcony,
and abandoning her hand with a steady sweet voice and gaze, said: 'How
generous of you to forgive my friend, dear Evan!' And the ravishing
little glimpse of womanly softness in her, set his heart beating. If he
thought at all, it was that he would have sacrificed body and soul for
her.



CHAPTER XIX

SECOND DESPATCH OF THE COUNTESS

We do not advance very far in this second despatch, and it will be found
chiefly serviceable for the indications it affords of our General's skill
in mining, and addiction to that branch of military science. For the
moment I must beg that a little indulgence be granted to her.

'Purely business. Great haste. Something has happened. An event? I know
not; but events may flow from it.

'A lady is here who has run away from the conjugal abode, and Lady
Jocelyn shelters her, and is hospitable to another, who is more concerned
in this lady's sad fate than he should be. This may be morals, my dear:
but please do not talk of Portugal now. A fine-ish woman with a great
deal of hair worn as if her maid had given it one comb straight down and
then rolled it up in a hurry round one finger. Malice would say carrots.
It is called gold. Mr. Forth is in a glass house, and is wrong to cast
his sneers at perfectly inoffensive people.

'Perfectly impossible we can remain at Beckley Court together--if not
dangerous. Any means that Providence may designate, I would employ. It
will be like exorcising a demon. Always excuseable. I only ask a little
more time for stupid Evan. He might have little Bonner now. I should not
object; but her family is not so good.

'Now, do attend. At once obtain a copy of Strike's Company people. You
understand--prospectuses. Tell me instantly if the Captain Evremonde in
it is Captain Lawson Evremonde. Pump Strike. Excuse vulgar words. Whether
he is not Lord Laxley's half-brother. Strike shall be of use to us.
Whether he is not mad. Captain E----'s address. Oh! when I think of
Strike--brute! and poor beautiful uncomplaining Carry and her shoulder!
But let us indeed most fervently hope that his Grace may be balm to it.
We must not pray for vengeance. It is sinful. Providence will inflict
that. Always know that Providence is quite sure to. It comforts
exceedingly.

'Oh, that Strike were altogether in the past tense! No knowing what the
Duke might do--a widower and completely subjugated. It makes my bosom
bound. The man tempts me to the wickedest Frenchy ideas. There!

We progress with dear venerable Mrs. Bonner. Truly pious--interested in
your Louisa. She dreads that my husband will try to convert me to his
creed. I can but weep and say--never!

'I need not say I have my circle. To hear this ridiculous boy Harry
Jocelyn grunt under my nose when he has led me unsuspectingly away from
company--Harriet! dearest! He thinks it a sigh! But there is no time for
laughing.

'My maxim in any house is--never to despise the good opinion of the
nonentities. They are the majority. I think they all look up to me. But
then of course you must fix that by seducing the stars. My diplomatist
praises my abilities--Sir John Loring my style--the rest follow and I do
not withhold my smiles, and they are happy, and I should be but that for
ungrateful Evan's sake I sacrificed my peace by binding myself to a
dreadful sort of half-story. I know I did not quite say it. It seems as
if Sir A.'s ghost were going to haunt me. And then I have the most
dreadful fears that what I have done has disturbed him in the other
world. Can it be so? It is not money or estates we took at all, dearest!
And these excellent young curates--I almost wish it was Protestant to
speak a word behind a board to them and imbibe comfort. For after all it
is nothing: and a word even from this poor thin mopy Mr. Parsley might be
relief to a poor soul in trouble. Catholics tell you that what you do in
a good cause is redeemable if not exactly right. And you know the
Catholic is the oldest Religion of the two. I would listen to the Pope,
staunch Protestant as I am, in preference to King Henry the Eighth.
Though, as a woman, I bear him no rancour, for his wives were--fools,
point blank. No man was ever so manageable. My diplomatist is getting
liker and liker to him every day. Leaner, of course, and does not
habitually straddle. Whiskers and morals, I mean. We must be silent
before our prudish sister. Not a prude? We talk diplomacy, dearest. He
complains of the exclusiveness of the port of Oporto, and would have
strict alliance between Portugal and England, with mutual privileges. I
wish the alliance, and think it better to maintain the exclusiveness.
Very trifling; but what is life!

'Adieu. One word to leave you laughing. Imagine her situation! This
stupid Miss Carrington has offended me. She has tried to pump Conning,
who, I do not doubt, gave her as much truth as I chose she should have in
her well. But the quandary of the wretched creature! She takes Conning
into her confidence--a horrible malady just covered by high-neck dress!
Skin! and impossible that she can tell her engaged--who is--guess--Mr.
George Up------! Her name is Louisa Carrington. There was a Louisa
Harrington once. Similarity of names perhaps. Of course I could not let
her come to the house; and of course Miss C. is in a state of wonderment
and bad passions, I fear. I went straight to Lady Racial, my dear. There
was nothing else for it but to go and speak. She is truly a noble
woman--serves us in every way. As she should!--much affected by sight of
Evan, and keeps aloof from Beckley Court. The finger of Providence is in
all. Adieu! but do pray think of Miss Carrington! It was foolish of her
to offend me. Drives and walks-the Duke attentive. Description of him
when I embrace you. I give amiable Sir Franks Portuguese dishes. Ah, my
dear, if we had none but men to contend against, and only women for our
tools! But this is asking for the world, and nothing less.

'Open again,' she pursues. 'Dear Carry just come in. There are fairies, I
think, where there are dukes! Where could it have come from? Could any
human being have sent messengers post to London, ordered, and had it
despatched here within this short time? You shall not be mystified! I do
not think I even hinted; but the afternoon walk I had with his Grace, on
the first day of his arrival, I did shadow it very delicately how much it
was to be feared our poor Carry could not, that she dared not, betray her
liege lord in an evening dress. Nothing more, upon my veracity! And Carry
has this moment received the most beautiful green box, containing two of
the most heavenly old lace shawls that you ever beheld. We divine it is
to hide poor Carry's matrimonial blue mark! We know nothing. Will you
imagine Carry is for not accepting it! Priority of birth does not imply
superior wits, dear--no allusion to you. I have undertaken all. Arch
looks, but nothing pointed. His Grace will understand the exquisite
expression of feminine gratitude. It is so sweet to deal with true
nobility. Carry has only to look as she always does. One sees Strike
sitting on her. Her very pliability has rescued her from being utterly
squashed long ere this! The man makes one vulgar. It would have been not
the slightest use asking me to be a Christian had I wedded Strike. But
think of the fairy presents! It has determined me not to be expelled by
Mr. Forth--quite. Tell Silva he is not forgotten. But, my dear, between
us alone, men are so selfish, that it is too evident they do not care for
private conversations to turn upon a lady's husband: not to be risked,
only now and then.

'I hear that the young ladies and the young gentlemen have been out
riding a race. The poor little Bonner girl cannot ride, and she says to
Carry that Rose wishes to break our brother's neck. The child hardly
wishes that, but she is feelingless. If Evan could care for Miss Bonner,
he might have B. C.! Oh, it is not so very long a shot, my dear. I am on
the spot, remember. Old Mrs. Bonner is a most just-minded spirit. Juliana
is a cripple, and her grandmother wishes to be sure that when she departs
to her Lord the poor cripple may not be chased from this home of hers.
Rose cannot calculate--Harry is in disgrace--there is really no knowing.
This is how I have reckoned; L10,000 extra to Rose; perhaps L1000 or
nothing to H.; all the rest of ready-money--a large sum--no use
guessing--to Lady Jocelyn; and B. C. to little Bonner--it is worth
L40,000 Then she sells, or stops--permanent resident. It might be so
soon, for I can see worthy Mrs. Bonner to be breaking visibly. But young
men will not see with wiser eyes than their own. Here is Evan risking his
neck for an indifferent--there's some word for "not soft." In short, Rose
is the cold-blooded novice, as I have always said, the most selfish of
the creatures on two legs.

'Adieu! Would you have dreamed that Major Nightmare's gallantry to his
wife would have called forth a gallantry so truly touching and delicate?
Can you not see Providence there? Out of Evil--the Catholics again!

'Address. If Lord Lax---'s half-brother. If wrong in noddle. This I know
you will attend to scrupulously. Ridiculous words are sometimes the most
expressive. Once more, may Heaven bless you all! I thought of you in
church last Sunday.

'I may tell you this: young Mr. Laxley is here. He--but it was Evan's
utter madness was the cause, and I have not ventured a word to him. He
compelled Evan to assert his rank, and Mr. Forth's face has been one
concentrated sneer since THEN. He must know the origin of the Cogglesbys,
or something. Now you will understand the importance. I cannot be more
explicit. Only--the man must go.

'P.S. I have just ascertained that Lady Jocelyn is quite familiar with
Andrew's origin!! She must think my poor Harriet an eccentric woman. Of
course I have not pretended to rank here, merely gentry. It is gentry in
reality, for had poor Papa been legitimized, he would have been a
nobleman. You know that; and between the two we may certainly claim
gentry. I twiddle your little good Andrew to assert it for us twenty
times a day. Of all the dear little manageable men! It does you infinite
credit that you respect him as you do. What would have become of me I do
not know.

'P.S. I said two shawls--a black and a white. The black not so
costly--very well. And so delicate of him to think of the mourning! But
the white, my dear, must be family--must! Old English point. Exquisitely
chaste. So different from that Brussels poor Andrew surprised you with. I
know it cost money, but this is a question of taste. The Duke reconciles
me to England and all my troubles! He is more like poor Papa than any one
of the men I have yet seen. The perfect gentleman! I do praise myself for
managing an invitation to our Carry. She has been a triumph.'

Admire the concluding stroke. The Countess calls this letter a purely
business communication. Commercial men might hardly think so; but perhaps
ladies will perceive it. She rambles concentrically, if I may so expound
her. Full of luxurious enjoyment of her position, her mind is active, and
you see her at one moment marking a plot, the next, with a light
exclamation, appeasing her conscience, proud that she has one; again she
calls up rival forms of faith, that she may show the Protestant its
little shortcomings, and that it is slightly in debt to her (like
Providence) for her constancy, notwithstanding. The Protestant you see,
does not confess, and she has to absolve herself, and must be doing it
internally while she is directing outer matters. Hence her slap at King
Henry VIII. In fact, there is much more business in this letter than I
dare to indicate; but as it is both impertinent and unpopular to dive for
any length of time beneath the surface (especially when there are few
pearls to show for it), we will discontinue our examination.

The Countess, when she had dropped the letter in the bag, returned to her
chamber, and deputed Dorothy Loring, whom she met on the stairs, to run
and request Rose to lend her her album to beguile the afternoon with; and
Dorothy dances to Rose, saying, 'The Countess de Lispy-Lispy would be
delighted to look at your album all the afternoon.'

'Oh what a woman that is!' says Rose. 'Countess de Lazy-Lazy, I think.'

The Countess, had she been listening, would have cared little for
accusations on that head. Idlesse was fashionable: exquisite languors
were a sign of breeding; and she always had an idea that she looked more
interesting at dinner after reclining on a couch the whole of the
afternoon. The great Mel and his mate had given her robust health, and
she was able to play the high-born invalid without damage to her
constitution. Anything amused her; Rose's album even, and the
compositions of W. H., E. H., D. F., and F. L. The initials F. L. were
diminutive, and not unlike her own hand, she thought. They were appended
to a piece of facetiousness that would not have disgraced the abilities
of Mr. John Raikes; but we know that very stiff young gentlemen betray
monkey-minds when sweet young ladies compel them to disport. On the
whole, it was not a lazy afternoon that the Countess passed, and it was
not against her wish that others should think it was.



CHAPTER XX

BREAK-NECK LEAP

The August sun was in mid-sky, when a troop of ladies and cavaliers
issued from the gates of Beckley Court, and winding through the
hopgardens, emerged on the cultivated slopes bordering the downs.
Foremost, on her grey cob, was Rose, having on her right her uncle
Seymour, and on her left Ferdinand Laxley. Behind came Mrs. Evremonde,
flanked by Drummond and Evan. Then followed Jenny Graine, supported by
Harry and William Harvey. In the rear came an open carriage, in which
Miss Carrington and the Countess de Saldar were borne, attended by Lady
Jocelyn and Andrew Cogglesby on horseback. The expedition had for its
object the selection of a run of ground for an amateur steeple-chase: the
idea of which had sprung from Laxley's boasts of his horsemanship: and
Rose, quick as fire, had backed herself, and Drummond and Evan, to beat
him. The mention of the latter was quite enough for Laxley.

'If he follows me, let him take care of his neck,' said that youth.

'Why, Ferdinand, he can beat you in anything!' exclaimed Rose,
imprudently.

But the truth was, she was now more restless than ever. She was not
distant with Evan, but she had a feverish manner, and seemed to thirst to
make him show his qualities, and excel, and shine. Billiards, or jumping,
or classical acquirements, it mattered not--Evan must come first. He had
crossed the foils with Laxley, and disarmed him; for Mel his father had
seen him trained for a military career. Rose made a noise about the
encounter, and Laxley was eager for his opportunity, which he saw in the
proposed mad gallop.

Now Mr. George Uplift, who usually rode in buckskins whether he was after
the fox or fresh air, was out on this particular morning; and it happened
that, as the cavalcade wound beneath the down, Mr. George trotted along
the ridge. He was a fat-faced, rotund young squire--a bully where he
might be, and an obedient creature enough where he must be--good-humoured
when not interfered with; fond of the table, and brimful of all the jokes
of the county, the accent of which just seasoned his speech. He had
somehow plunged into a sort of half-engagement with Miss Carrington. At
his age, and to ladies of Miss Carrington's age, men unhappily do not
plunge head-foremost, or Miss Carrington would have had him long before.
But he was at least in for it half a leg; and a desperate maiden, on the
criminal side of thirty, may make much of that. Previous to the visit of
the Countess de Saldar, Mr. George had been in the habit of trotting over
to Beckley three or four times a week. Miss Carrington had a little
money: Mr. George was heir to his uncle. Miss Carrington was lean and
blue-eyed.

Mr. George was black-eyed and obese. By everybody, except Mr. George, the
match was made: but that exception goes for little in the country, where
half the population are talked into marriage, and gossips entirely devote
themselves to continuing the species. Mr. George was certain that he had
not been fighting shy of the fair Carrington of late, nor had he been
unfaithful. He had only been in an extraordinary state of occupation.
Messages for Lady Racial had to be delivered, and he had become her
cavalier and escort suddenly. The young squire was bewildered; but as he
was only one leg in love--if the sentiment may be thus spoken of
figuratively--his vanity in his present office kept him from remorse or
uneasiness.

He rode at an easy pace within sight of the home of his treasure, and his
back turned to it. Presently there rose a cry from below. Mr. George
looked about. The party of horsemen hallooed: Mr. George yoicked. Rose
set her horse to gallop up; Seymour Jocelyn cried 'fox,' and gave the
view; hearing which Mr. George shouted, and seemed inclined to surrender;
but the fun seized him, and, standing up in his stirrups, he gathered his
coat-tails in a bunch, and waggled them with a jolly laugh, which was
taken up below, and the clamp of hoofs resounded on the turf as Mr.
George led off, after once more, with a jocose twist in his seat, showing
them the brush mockingly. Away went fox, and a mad chase began. Seymour
acted as master of the hunt. Rose, Evan, Drummond, and Mrs. Evremonde and
Dorothy, skirted to the right, all laughing, and full of excitement.
Harry bellowed the direction from above. The ladies in the carriage, with
Lady Jocelyn and Andrew, watched them till they flowed one and all over
the shoulder of the down.

'And who may the poor hunted animal be?' inquired the Countess.

'George Uplift,' said Lady Jocelyn, pulling out her watch. 'I give him
twenty minutes.'

'Providence speed him!' breathed the Countess, with secret fervour.

'Oh, he hasn't a chance,' said Lady Jocelyn. 'The squire keeps wretched
beasts.'

'Is there not an attraction that will account for his hasty capture?'
said the Countess, looking tenderly at Miss Carrington, who sat a little
straighter, and the Countess, hating manifestations of stiff-backedness,
could not forbear adding: 'I am at war with my sympathies, which should
be with the poor brute flying from his persecutors.'

She was in a bitter state of trepidation, or she would have thought twice
before she touched a nerve of the enamoured lady, as she knew she did in
calling her swain a poor brute, and did again by pertinaciously pursuing:

'Does he then shun his captivity?'

'Touching a nerve' is one of those unforgivable small offences which, in
our civilized state, produce the social vendettas and dramas that, with
savage nations, spring from the spilling of blood. Instead of an eye for
an eye, a tooth for a tooth, we demand a nerve for a nerve. 'Thou hast
touched me where I am tender thee, too, will I touch.'

Miss Carrington had been alarmed and hurt at the strange evasion of Mr.
George; nor could she see the fun of his mimicry of the fox and his
flight away from instead of into her neighbourhood. She had also, or she
now thought it, remarked that when Mr. George had been spoken of
casually, the Countess had not looked a natural look. Perhaps it was her
present inflamed fancy. At any rate the Countess was offensive now. She
was positively vulgar, in consequence, to the mind of Miss Carrington,
and Miss Carrington was drawn to think of a certain thing Ferdinand
Laxley had said he had heard from the mouth of this lady's brother when
ale was in him. Alas! how one seed of a piece of folly will lurk and
sprout to confound us; though, like the cock in the eastern tale, we peck
up zealously all but that one!

The carriage rolled over the turf, attended by Andrew, and Lady Jocelyn,
and the hunt was seen; Mr. George some forty paces a-head; Seymour
gaining on him, Rose next.

'Who's that breasting Rose?' said Lady Jocelyn, lifting her glass.

'My brother-in-law, Harrington,' returned Andrew.

'He doesn't ride badly,' said Lady Jocelyn. 'A little too military. He
must have been set up in England.'

'Oh, Evan can do anything,' said Andrew enthusiastically. 'His father was
a capital horseman, and taught him fencing, riding, and every
accomplishment. You won't find such a young fellow, my lady--'

'The brother like him at all?' asked Lady Jocelyn, still eyeing the
chase.

'Brother? He hasn't got a brother,' said Andrew.

Lady Jocelyn continued: 'I mean the present baronet.'

She was occupied with her glass, and did not observe the flush that took
hold of Andrew's ingenuous cheeks, and his hurried glance at and off the
quiet eye of the Countess. Miss Carrington did observe it.

Mr. Andrew dashed his face under the palm of his hand, and murmured:

'Oh-yes! His brother-in-law isn't much like him--ha! ha!'

And then the poor little man rubbed his hands, unconscious of the
indignant pity for his wretched abilities in the gaze of the Countess;
and he must have been exposed--there was a fear that the ghost of Sir
Abraham would have darkened this day, for Miss Carrington was about to
speak, when Lady Jocelyn cried: 'There's a purl! Somebody's down.'

The Countess was unaware of the nature of a purl, but she could have
sworn it to be a piece of Providence.

'Just by old Nat Hodges' farm, on Squire Copping's ground,' cried Andrew,
much relieved by the particular individual's misfortune. 'Dear me, my
lady! how old Tom and I used to jump the brook there, to be sure! and
when you were no bigger than little Miss Loring--do you remember old Tom?
We're all fools one time in our lives!'

'Who can it be?' said Lady Jocelyn, spying at the discomfited horseman.
'I'm afraid it's poor Ferdinand.'

They drove on to an eminence from which the plain was entirely laid open.

'I hope my brother will enjoy his ride this day,' sighed the Countess.
'It will be his limit of enjoyment for a lengthened period!'

She perceived that Mr. George's capture was inevitable, and her heart
sank; for she was sure he would recognize her, and at the moment she
misdoubted her powers. She dreamed of flight.

'You're not going to leave us?' said Lady Jocelyn. 'My dear Countess,
what will the future member do without you? We have your promise to stay
till the election is over.'

'Thanks for your extreme kind courtesy, Lady Jocelyn,' murmured the
Countess: 'but my husband--the Count.'

'The favour is yours,' returned her ladyship. 'And if the Count cannot
come, you at least are at liberty?'

'You are most kind,' said the Countess.

'Andrew and his wife I should not dare to separate for more than a week,'
said Lady Jocelyn. 'He is the great British husband. The proprietor! "My
wife" is his unanswerable excuse.'

'Yes,' Andrew replied cheerily. 'I don't like division between man and
wife, I must say.'

The Countess dared no longer instance the Count, her husband. She was
heard to murmur that citizen feelings were not hers:

'You suggested Fallow field to Melville, did you not?' asked Lady
Jocelyn.

'It was the merest suggestion,' said the Countess, smiling.

'Then you must really stay to see us through it,' said her ladyship.
'Where are they now? They must be making straight for break-neck fence.
They'll have him there. George hasn't pluck for that.'

'Hasn't what?'

It was the Countess who requested to know the name of this other piece of
Providence Mr. George Uplift was deficient in.

'Pluck-go,' said her ladyship hastily, and telling the coachman to drive
to a certain spot, trotted on with Andrew, saying to him: 'I'm afraid we
are thought vulgar by the Countess.'

Andrew considered it best to reassure her gravely.

'The young man, her brother, is well-bred,' said Lady Jocelyn, and Andrew
was very ready to praise Evan.

Lady Jocelyn, herself in slimmer days a spirited horsewoman, had
correctly estimated Mr. George's pluck. He was captured by Harry and Evan
close on the leap, in the act of shaking his head at it; and many who
inspected the leap would have deemed it a sign that wisdom weighted the
head that would shake long at it; for it consisted of a post and rails,
with a double ditch.

Seymour Jocelyn, Mrs. Evremonde, Drummond, Jenny Graine, and William
Harvey, rode with Mr. George in quest of the carriage, and the captive
was duly delivered over.

'But where's the brush?' said Lady Jocelyn, laughing, and introducing him
to the Countess, who dropped her head, and with it her veil.

'Oh! they leave that on for my next run,' said Mr. George, bowing
civilly.

'You are going to run again?'

Miss Carrington severely asked this question; and Mr. George protested.

'Secure him, Louisa,' said Lady Jocelyn. 'See here: what's the matter
with poor Dorothy?'

Dorothy came slowly trotting up to them along the green lane, and thus
expressed her grief, between sobs:

'Isn't it a shame? Rose is such a tyrant. They're going to ride a race
and a jump down in the field, and it's break-neck leap, and Rose won't
allow me to stop and see it, though she knows I'm just as fond of Evan as
she is; and if he's killed I declare it will be her fault; and it's all
for her stupid, dirty old pocket handkerchief!'

'Break-neck fence!' said Lady Jocelyn; 'that's rather mad.'

'Do let's go and see it, darling Aunty Joey,' pleaded the little maid.
Lady Jocelyn rode on, saying to herself: 'That girl has a great deal of
devil in her.' The lady's thoughts were of Rose.

'Black Lymport'd take the leap,' said Mr. George, following her with the
rest of the troop. 'Who's that fellow on him?'

'His name's Harrington,' quoth Drummond.

'Oh, Harrington!' Mr. George responded; but immediately
laughed--'Harrington? 'Gad, if he takes the leap it'll be odd--another of
the name. That's where old Mel had his spill.'

'Who?' Drummond inquired.

'Old Mel Harrington--the Lymport wonder. Old Marquis Mel,' said Mr.
George. 'Haven't ye heard of him?'

'What! the gorgeous tailor!' exclaimed Lady Jocelyn. 'How I regret never
meeting that magnificent snob! that efflorescence of sublime imposture!
I've seen the Regent; but one's life doesn't seem complete without having
seen his twin-brother. You must give us warning when you have him down at
Croftlands again, Mr. George.'

'Gad, he'll have to come a long distance--poor old Mel!' said Mr. George;
and was going on, when Seymour Jocelyn stroked his moustache to cry,
'Look! Rosey 's starting 'em, by Jove!'

The leap, which did not appear formidable from where they stood, was four
fields distant from the point where Rose, with a handkerchief in her
hand, was at that moment giving the signal to Laxley and Evan.

Miss Carrington and the Countess begged Lady Jocelyn to order a shout to
be raised to arrest them, but her ladyship marked her good sense by
saying: 'Let them go, now they're about it'; for she saw that to make a
fuss now matters had proceeded so far, was to be uncivil to the
inevitable.

The start was given, and off they flew. Harry Jocelyn, behind them, was
evidently caught by the demon, and clapped spurs to his horse to have his
fling as well, for the fun of the thing; but Rose, farther down the
field, rode from her post straight across him, to the imminent peril of a
mutual overset; and the party on the height could see Harry fuming, and
Rose coolly looking him down, and letting him understand what her will
was; and her mother, and Drummond, and Seymour who beheld this, had a
common sentiment of admiration for the gallant girl. But away went the
rivals. Black Lymport was the favourite, though none of the men thought
he would be put at the fence. The excitement became contagious. The
Countess threw up her veil. Lady Jocelyn, and Seymour, and Drummond,
galloped down the lane, and Mr. George was for accompanying them, till
the line of Miss Carrington's back gave him her unmistakeable opinion of
such a course of conduct, and he had to dally and fret by her side.
Andrew's arm was tightly grasped by the Countess. The rivals were
crossing the second field, Laxley a little a-head.

'He 's holding in the black mare--that fellow!' said Mr. George. 'Gad, it
looks like going at the fence. Fancy Harrington!'

They were now in the fourth field, a smooth shorn meadow. Laxley was two
clear lengths in advance, but seemed riding, as Mr. George remarked, more
for pace than to take the jump. The ladies kept plying random queries and
suggestions: the Countess wishing to know whether they could not be
stopped by a countryman before they encountered any danger. In the midst
of their chatter, Mr. George rose in his stirrups, crying:

'Bravo, the black mare!'

'Has he done it?' said Andrew, wiping his poll.

'He? No, the mare!' shouted Mr. George, and bolted off, no longer to be
restrained.

The Countess, doubly relieved, threw herself back in the carriage, and
Andrew drew a breath, saying: 'Evan has beat him--I saw that! The other's
horse swerved right round.'

'I fear,' said Mrs. Evremonde, 'Mr. Harrington has had a fall. Don't be
alarmed--it may not be much.'

'A fall!' exclaimed the Countess, equally divided between alarms of
sisterly affection and a keen sense of the romance of the thing.

Miss Carrington ordered the carriage to be driven round. They had not
gone far when they were met by Harry Jocelyn riding in hot haste, and he
bellowed to the coachman to drive as hard as he could, and stop opposite
Brook's farm.

The scene on the other side of the fence would have been a sweet one to
the central figure in it had his eyes then been open. Surrounded by Lady
Jocelyn, Drummond, Seymour, and the rest, Evan's dust-stained body was
stretched along the road, and his head was lying in the lap of Rose, who,
pale, heedless of anything spoken by those around her, and with her lips
set and her eyes turning wildly from one to the other, held a gory
handkerchief to his temple with one hand, and with the other felt for the
motion of his heart.

But heroes don't die, you know.



CHAPTER XXI

TRIBULATIONS AND TACTICS OF THE COUNTESS

'You have murdered my brother, Rose Jocelyn!'

'Don't say so now.'

Such was the interchange between the two that loved the senseless youth,
as he was being lifted into the carriage.

Lady Jocelyn sat upright in her saddle, giving directions about what was
to be done with Evan and the mare, impartially.

'Stunned, and a good deal shaken, I suppose; Lymport's knees are terribly
cut,' she said to Drummond, who merely nodded. And Seymour remarked,
'Fifty guineas knocked off her value!' One added, 'Nothing worse, I
should think'; and another, 'A little damage inside, perhaps.' Difficult
to say whether they spoke of Evan or the brute.

No violent outcries; no reproaches cast on the cold-blooded coquette; no
exclamations on the heroism of her brother! They could absolutely spare a
thought for the animal! And Evan had risked his life for this, and might
die unpitied. The Countess diversified her grief with a deadly bitterness
against the heartless Jocelyns.

Oh, if Evan dies! will it punish Rose sufficiently?

Andrew expressed emotion, but not of a kind the Countess liked a relative
to be seen exhibiting; for in emotion worthy Andrew betrayed to her his
origin offensively.

'Go away and puke, if you must,' she said, clipping poor Andrew's word
about his 'dear boy.' She could not help speaking in that way--he was so
vulgar. A word of sympathy from Lady Jocelyn might have saved her from
the sourness into which her many conflicting passions were resolving; and
might also have saved her ladyship from the rancour she had sown in the
daughter of the great Mel by her selection of epithets to characterize
him.

Will it punish Rose at all, if Evan dies?

Rose saw that she was looked at. How could the Countess tell that Rose
envied her the joy of holding Evan in the carriage there? Rose, to judge
by her face, was as calm as glass. Not so well seen through, however.
Mrs. Evremonde rode beside her, whose fingers she caught, and twined her
own with them tightly once for a fleeting instant. Mrs. Evremonde wanted
no further confession of her state.

Then Rose said to her mother, 'Mama, may I ride to have the doctor
ready?'

Ordinarily, Rose would have clapped heel to horse the moment the thought
came. She waited for the permission, and flew off at a gallop, waving
back Laxley, who was for joining her.

'Franks will be a little rusty about the mare,' the Countess heard Lady
Jocelyn say; and Harry just then stooped his head to the carriage, and
said, in his blunt fashion, 'After all, it won't show much.'

'We are not cattle!' exclaimed the frenzied Countess, within her bosom.
Alas! it was almost a democratic outcry they made her guilty of; but she
was driven past patience. And as a further provocation, Evan would open
his eyes. She laid her handkerchief over them with loving delicacy,
remembering in a flash that her own face had been all the while exposed
to Mr. George Uplift; and then the terrors of his presence at Beckley
Court came upon her, and the fact that she had not for the last ten
minutes been the serene Countess de Saldar; and she quite hated Andrew,
for vulgarity in others evoked vulgarity in her, which was the reason why
she ranked vulgarity as the chief of the deadly sins. Her countenance for
Harry and all the others save poor Andrew was soon the placid
heaven-confiding sister's again; not before Lady Jocelyn had found cause
to observe to Drummond:

'Your Countess doesn't ruffle well.'

But a lady who is at war with two or three of the facts of Providence,
and yet will have Providence for her ally, can hardly ruffle well. Do not
imagine that the Countess's love for her brother was hollow. She was
assured when she came up to the spot where he fell, that there was no
danger; he had but dislocated his shoulder, and bruised his head a
little. Hearing this, she rose out of her clamorous heart, and seized the
opportunity for a small burst of melodrama. Unhappily, Lady Jocelyn, who
gave the tone to the rest, was a Spartan in matters of this sort; and as
she would have seen those dearest to her bear the luck of the field, she
could see others. When the call for active help reached her, you beheld a
different woman.

The demonstrativeness the Countess thirsted for was afforded her by Juley
Bonner, and in a measure by her sister Caroline, who loved Evan
passionately. The latter was in riding attire, about to mount to ride and
meet them, accompanied by the Duke. Caroline had hastily tied up her
hair; a rich golden brown lump of it hung round her cheek; her limpid
eyes and anxiously-nerved brows impressed the Countess wonderfully as she
ran down the steps and bent her fine well-filled bust forward to ask the
first hurried question.

The Countess patted her shoulder. 'Safe, dear,' she said aloud, as one
who would not make much of it. And in a whisper, 'You look superb.'

I must charge it to Caroline's beauty under the ducal radiance, that a
stream of sweet feelings entering into the Countess made her forget to
tell her sister that George Uplift was by. Caroline had not been abroad,
and her skin was not olive-hued; she was a beauty, and a majestic figure,
little altered since the day when the wooden marine marched her out of
Lymport.

The Countess stepped from the carriage to go and cherish Juliana's
petulant distress; for that unhealthy little body was stamping with
impatience to have the story told to her, to burst into fits of pathos;
and while Seymour and Harry assisted Evan to descend, trying to laugh off
the pain he endured, Caroline stood by, soothing him with words and
tender looks.

Lady Jocelyn passed him, and took his hand, saying, 'Not killed this
time!'

'At your ladyship's service to-morrow,' he replied, and his hand was
kindly squeezed.

'My darling Evan, you will not ride again?' Caroline cried, kissing him
on the steps; and the Duke watched the operation, and the Countess
observed the Duke.

That Providence should select her sweetest moments to deal her wounds,
was cruel; but the Countess just then distinctly heard Mr. George Uplift
ask Miss Carrington.

'Is that lady a Harrington?'

'You perceive a likeness?' was the answer.

Mr. George went 'Whew!--tit-tit-tit!' with the profound expression of a
very slow mind.

The scene was quickly over. There was barely an hour for the ladies to
dress for dinner. Leaving Evan in the doctor's hand, and telling Caroline
to dress in her room, the Countess met Rose, and gratified her
vindictiveness, while she furthered her projects, by saying:

'Not till my brother is quite convalescent will it be adviseable that you
should visit him. I am compelled to think of him entirely now. In his
present state he is not fit to be, played with.'

Rose, stedfastly eyeing her, seemed to swallow down something in her
throat, and said:

'I will obey you, Countess. I hoped you would allow me to nurse him.'

'Quiet above all things, Rose Jocelyn!' returned the Countess, with the
suavity of a governess, who must be civil in her sourness. 'If you would
not complete this morning's achievement--stay away.'

The Countess declined to see that Rose's lip quivered. She saw an
unpleasantness in the bottom of her eyes; and now that her brother's
decease was not even remotely to be apprehended, she herself determined
to punish the cold, unimpressionable coquette of a girl. Before returning
to Caroline, she had five minutes' conversation with. Juliana, which
fully determined her to continue the campaign at Beckley Court, commence
decisive movements, and not to retreat, though fifty George Uplofts
menaced her. Consequently, having dismissed Conning on a message to Harry
Jocelyn, to ask him for a list of the names of the new people they were
to meet that day at dinner, she said to Caroline:

'My dear, I think it will be incumbent on us to depart very quickly.'

Much to the Countess's chagrin and astonishment, Caroline replied:

'I shall hardly be sorry.'

'Not sorry? Why, what now, dear one? Is it true, then, that a flagellated
female kisses the rod? Are you so eager for a repetition of Strike?'

Caroline, with some hesitation, related to her more than the Countess had
ventured to petition for in her prayers.

'Oh! how exceedingly generous!' the latter exclaimed. How very refreshing
to think that there are nobles in your England as romantic, as courteous,
as delicate as our own foreign ones! But his Grace is quite an
exceptional nobleman. Are you not touched, dearest Carry?'

Caroline pensively glanced at the reflection of her beautiful arm in the
glass, and sighed, pushing back the hair from her temples.

'But, for mercy's sake!' resumed the Countess, in alarm at the sigh, 'do
not be too--too touched. Do, pray, preserve your wits. You weep!
Caroline, Caroline! O my goodness; it is just five-and-twenty minutes to
the first dinner-bell, and you are crying! For God's sake, think of your
face! Are you going to be a Gorgon? And you show the marks twice as long
as any other, you fair women. Squinnying like this! Caroline, for your
Louisa's sake, do not!'

Hissing which, half angrily and half with entreaty, the Countess dropped
on her knees. Caroline's fit of tears subsided. The eldest of the
sisters, she was the kindest, the fairest, the weakest.

'Not,' said the blandishing Countess, when Caroline's face was clearer,
'not that my best of Carrys does not look delicious in her shower. Cry,
with your hair down, and you would subdue any male creature on two legs.
And that reminds me of that most audacious Marquis de Remilla. He saw a
dirty drab of a fruit-girl crying in Lisbon streets one day, as he was
riding in the carriage of the Duchesse de Col da Rosta, and her husband
and duena, and he had a letter for her--the Duchesse. They loved! How
deliver the letter? "Save me!" he cried to the Duchesse, catching her
hand, and pressing his heart, as if very sick. The Duchesse felt the
paper--turned her hand over on her knee, and he withdrew his. What does
my Carry think was the excuse he tendered the Duke? This--and this gives
you some idea of the wonderful audacity of those dear Portuguese--that
he--he must precipitate himself and marry any woman he saw weep, and be
her slave for the term of his natural life, unless another woman's hand
at the same moment restrained him! There!' and the Countess's eyes shone
brightly.

'How excessively imbecile!' Caroline remarked, hitherto a passive
listener to these Lusitanian contes.

It was the first sign she had yet given of her late intercourse with a
positive Duke, and the Countess felt it, and drew back. No more anecdotes
for Caroline, to whom she quietly said:

'You are very English, dear!'

'But now, the Duke--his Grace,' she went on, 'how did he inaugurate?'

'I spoke to him of Evan's position. God forgive me!--I said that was the
cause of my looks being sad.'

'You could have thought of nothing better,' interposed the Countess.
'Yes?'

'He said, if he might clear them he should be happy!

'In exquisite language, Carry, of course.'

'No; just as others talk.'

'Hum!' went the Countess, and issued again brightly from a cloud of
reflection, with the remark: 'It was to seem business-like--the
commerciality of the English mind. To the point--I know. Well, you
perceive, my sweetest, that Evan's interests are in your hands. You dare
not quit the field. In one week, I fondly trust, he will be secure. What
more did his Grace say? May we not be the repository of such delicious
secresies?'

Caroline gave tremulous indications about the lips, and the Countess
jumped to the bell and rang it, for they were too near dinner for the
trace of a single tear to be permitted. The bell and the appearance of
Conning effectually checked the flood.

While speaking to her sister, the Countess had hesitated to mention
George Uplift's name, hoping that, as he had no dinner-suit, he would not
stop to dinner that day, and would fall to the charge of Lady Racial once
more. Conning, however, brought in a sheet of paper on which the names of
the guests were written out by Harry, a daily piece of service he
performed for the captivating dame, and George Uplift's name was in the
list.

'We will do the rest, Conning-retire,' she said, and then folding
Caroline in her arms, murmured, the moment they were alone, 'Will my
Carry dress her hair plain to-day, for the love of her Louisa?'

'Goodness! what a request!' exclaimed Caroline, throwing back her head to
see if her Louisa could be serious.

'Most inexplicable--is it not? Will she do it?'

'Flat, dear? It makes a fright of me.'

'Possibly. May I beg it?'

'But why, dearest, why? If I only knew why!'

'For the love of your Louy.'

'Plain along the temples?'

'And a knot behind.'

'And a band along the forehead?'

'Gems, if they meet your favour.'

'But my cheek-bones, Louisa?'

'They are not too prominent, Carry.'

'Curls relieve them.'

'The change will relieve the curls, dear one.'

Caroline looked in the glass, at the Countess, as polished a reflector,
and fell into a chair. Her hair was accustomed to roll across her
shoulders in heavy curls. The Duke would find a change of the sort
singular. She should not at all know herself with her hair done
differently: and for a lovely woman to be transformed to a fright is hard
to bear in solitude, or in imagination.

'Really!' she petitioned.

'Really--yes, or no?' added the Countess.

'So unaccountable a whim!' Caroline looked in the glass dolefully, and
pulled up her thick locks from one cheek, letting them fall on the
instant.

'She will?' breathed the Countess.

'I really cannot,' said Caroline, with vehemence.

The Countess burst into laughter, replying: 'My poor child! it is not my
whim--it is your obligation. George Uplift dines here to-day. Now do you
divine it? Disguise is imperative for you.'

Mrs. Strike, gazing in her sister's face, answered slowly, 'George? But
how will you meet him?' she hurriedly asked.

'I have met him,' rejoined the Countess, boldly. 'I defy him to know me.
I brazen him! You with your hair in my style are equally safe. You see
there is no choice. Pooh! contemptible puppy!'

'But I never,'--Caroline was going to say she never could face him. 'I
will not dine. I will nurse Evan.'

'You have faced him, my dear,' said the Countess, 'and you are to change
your head-dress simply to throw him off his scent.'

As she spoke the Countess tripped about, nodding her head like a girl.
Triumph in the sense of her power over all she came in contact with,
rather elated the lady.

Do you see why she worked her sister in this roundabout fashion? She
would not tell her George Uplift was in the house till she was sure he
intended to stay, for fear of frightening her. When the necessity became
apparent, she put it under the pretext of a whim in order to see how far
Caroline, whose weak compliance she could count on, and whose reticence
concerning the Duke annoyed her, would submit to it to please her sister;
and if she rebelled positively, why to be sure it was the Duke she
dreaded to shock: and, therefore, the Duke had a peculiar hold on her:
and, therefore, the Countess might reckon that she would do more than she
pleased to confess to remain with the Duke, and was manageable in that
quarter. All this she learnt without asking. I need not add, that
Caroline sighingly did her bidding.

'We must all be victims in our turn, Carry,' said the Countess. 'Evan's
prospects--it may be, Silva's restoration--depend upon your hair being
dressed plain to-day. Reflect on that!'

Poor Caroline obeyed; but she was capable of reflecting only that her
face was unnaturally lean and strange to her.

The sisters tended and arranged one another, taking care to push their
mourning a month or two ahead and the Countess animadverted on the vulgar
mind of Lady Jocelyn, who would allow a 'gentleman to sit down at a
gentlewoman's table, in full company, in pronounced undress': and
Caroline, utterly miserable, would pretend that she wore a mask and kept
grimacing as they do who are not accustomed to paint on the cheeks, till
the Countess checked her by telling her she should ask her for that
before the Duke.

After a visit to Evan, the sisters sailed together into the drawing-room.

'Uniformity is sometimes a gain,' murmured the Countess, as they were
parting in the middle of the room. She saw that their fine figures, and
profiles, and resemblance in contrast, produced an effect. The Duke wore
one of those calmly intent looks by which men show they are aware of
change in the heavens they study, and are too devout worshippers to
presume to disapprove. Mr. George was standing by Miss Carrington, and he
also watched Mrs. Strike. To bewilder him yet more the Countess persisted
in fixing her eyes upon his heterodox apparel, and Mr. George became
conscious and uneasy. Miss Carrington had to address her question to him
twice before he heard. Melville Jocelyn, Sir John Loring, Sir Franks, and
Hamilton surrounded the Countess, and told her what they had decided on
with regard to the election during the day; for Melville was warm in his
assertion that they would not talk to the Countess five minutes without
getting a hint worth having.

'Call to us that man who is habited like a groom,' said the Countess,
indicating Mr. George. 'I presume he is in his right place up here?'

'Whew--take care, Countess--our best man. He's good for a dozen,' said
Hamilton.

Mr. George was brought over and introduced to the Countess de Saldar.

'So the oldest Tory in the county is a fox?' she said, in allusion to the
hunt. Never did Caroline Strike admire her sister's fearful genius more
than at that moment.

Mr. George ducked and rolled his hand over his chin, with 'ah-um!' and
the like, ended by a dry laugh.

'Are you our supporter, Mr. Uplift?'

'Tory interest, ma--um--my lady.'

'And are you staunch and may be trusted?'

''Pon my honour, I think I have that reputation.'

'And you would not betray us if we give you any secrets? Say "'Pon my
honour," again. You launch it out so courageously.'

The men laughed, though they could not see what the Countess was driving
at. She had for two minutes spoken as she spoke when a girl, and
George--entirely off his guard and unsuspicious--looked unenlightened. If
he knew, there were hints enough for him in her words.

If he remained blind, they might pass as air. The appearance of the
butler cut short his protestation as to his powers of secresy.

The Countess dismissed him.

'You will be taken into our confidence when we require you.' And she
resumed her foreign air in a most elaborate and overwhelming bow.

She was now perfectly satisfied that she was safe from Mr. George, and,
as she thoroughly detested the youthful squire, she chose to propagate a
laugh at him by saying with the utmost languor and clearness of voice, as
they descended the stairs:

'After all, a very clever fox may be a very dull dog--don't you think?'

Gentlemen in front of her, and behind, heard it, and at Mr. George's
expense her reputation rose.

Thus the genius of this born general prompted her to adopt the principle
in tactics--boldly to strike when you are in the dark as to your enemy's
movements.



CHAPTER XXII

IN WHICH THE DAUGHTERS OF THE GREAT MEL HAVE TO DIGEST HIM AT DINNER

You must know, if you would form an estimate of the Countess's heroic
impudence, that a rumour was current in Lymport that the fair and
well-developed Louisa Harrington, in her sixteenth year, did advisedly,
and with the intention of rendering the term indefinite, entrust her
guileless person to Mr. George Uplift's honourable charge. The rumour,
unflavoured by absolute malignity, was such; and it went on to say, that
the sublime Mel, alive to the honour of his family, followed the
fugitives with a pistol, and with a horsewhip, that he might chastise the
offender according to the degree of his offence. It was certain that he
had not used the pistol: it was said that he had used the whip. The
details of the interview between Mel and Mr. George were numerous, but at
the same time various. Some declared that he put a pistol to Mr. George's
ear, and under pressure of that persuader got him into the presence of a
clergyman, when he turned sulky; and when the pistol was again produced,
the ceremony would have been performed, had not the outraged Church cried
out for help. Some vowed that Mr. George had referred all questions
implying a difference between himself and Mel to their mutual fists for
decision. At any rate, Mr. George turned up in Fallow field subsequently;
the fair Louisa, unhurt and with a quiet mind, in Lymport; and this
amount of truth the rumours can be reduced to--that Louisa and Mr. George
had been acquainted. Rumour and gossip know how to build: they always
have some solid foundation, however small. Upwards of twelve years had
run since Louisa went to the wife of the brewer--a period quite long
enough for Mr. George to forget any one in; and she was altogether a
different creature; and, as it was true that Mr. George was a dull one,
she was, after the test she had put him to, justified in hoping that
Mel's progeny might pass unchallenged anywhere out of Lymport. So, with
Mr. George facing her at table, the Countess sat down, determined to eat
and be happy.

A man with the education and tastes of a young country squire is not
likely to know much of the character of women; and of the marvellous
power they have of throwing a veil of oblivion between themselves and
what they don't want to remember, few men know much. Mr. George had
thought, when he saw Mrs. Strike leaning to Evan, and heard she was a
Harrington, that she was rather like the Lymport family; but the
reappearance of Mrs. Strike, the attention of the Duke of Belfield to
her, and the splendid tactics of the Countess, which had extinguished
every thought in the thought of himself, drove Lymport out of his mind.

There were some dinner guests at the table-people of Fallow field,
Beckley, and Bodley. The Countess had the diplomatist on one side, the
Duke on the other. Caroline was under the charge of Sir Franks. The
Countess, almost revelling in her position opposite Mr. George, was
ambitious to lead the conversation, and commenced, smiling at Melville:

'We are to be spared politics to-day? I think politics and cookery do not
assimilate.'

'I'm afraid you won't teach the true Briton to agree with you,' said
Melville, shaking his head over the sums involved by this British
propensity.

'No,' said Seymour. 'Election dinners are a part of the Constitution':
and Andrew laughed: 'They make Radicals pay as well as Tories, so it's
pretty square.'

The topic was taken up, flagged, fell, and was taken up again. And then
Harry Jocelyn said:

'I say, have you worked the flags yet? The great Mel must have his
flags.'

The flags were in the hands of ladies, and ladies would look to the
rosettes, he was told.

Then a lady of the name of Barrington laughed lightly, and said:

'Only, pray, my dear Harry, don't call your uncle the "Great Mel" at the
election.'

'Oh! very well,' quoth Harry: 'why not?'

'You 'll get him laughed at--that 's all.'

'Oh! well, then, I won't,' said Harry, whose wits were attracted by the
Countess's visage.

Mrs. Barrington turned to Seymour, her neighbour, and resumed:

'He really would be laughed at. There was a tailor--he was called the
Great Mel--and he tried to stand for Fallow field once. I believe he had
the support of Squire Uplift--George's uncle--and others. They must have
done it for fun! Of course he did not get so far as the hustings; but I
believe he had flags, and principles, and all sorts of things worked
ready. He certainly canvassed.'

'A tailor--canvassed--for Parliament?' remarked an old Dowager, the
mother of Squire Copping. 'My what are we coming to next?'

'He deserved to get in,' quoth Aunt Bel: 'After having his principles
worked ready, to eject the man was infamous.'

Amazed at the mine she had sprung, the Countess sat through it, lamenting
the misery of owning a notorious father. Happily Evan was absent, on his
peaceful blessed bed!

Bowing over wine with the Duke, she tried another theme, while still,
like a pertinacious cracker, the Great Mel kept banging up and down the
table.

'We are to have a feast in the open air, I hear. What you call pic-nic.'

The Duke believed there was a project of the sort.

'How exquisitely they do those things in Portugal! I suppose there would
be no scandal in my telling something now. At least we are out of
Court-jurisdiction.'

'Scandal of the Court!' exclaimed his Grace, in mock horror.

'The option is yours to listen. The Queen, when young, was sweetly
pretty; a divine complexion; and a habit of smiling on everybody. I
presume that the young Habral, son of the first magistrate of Lisbon, was
also smiled on. Most innocently, I would swear! But it operated on the
wretched youth! He spent all his fortune in the purchase and decoration
of a fairy villa, bordering on the Val das Rosas, where the Court enjoyed
its rustic festivities, and one day a storm! all the ladies hurried their
young mistress to the house where the young Habral had been awaiting her
for ages. None so polished as he! Musicians started up, the floors were
ready, and torches beneath them!--there was a feast of exquisite wines
and viands sparkling. Quite enchantment. The girl-Queen was in ecstasies.
She deigned a dance with the young Habral, and then all sat down to
supper; and in the middle of it came the cry of Fire! The Queen shrieked;
the flames were seen all around; and if the arms of the young Habral were
opened to save her, or perish, could she cast a thought on Royalty, and
refuse? The Queen was saved the villa was burnt; the young Habral was
ruined, but, if I know a Portuguese, he was happy till he died, and well
remunerated! For he had held a Queen to his heart! So that was a
pic-nic!'

The Duke slightly inclined his head.

'Vrai Portughez derrendo,' he said. 'They tell a similar story in Spain,
of one of the Queens--I forget her name. The difference between us and
your Peninsular cavaliers is, that we would do as much for uncrowned
ladies.'

'Ah! your Grace!' The Countess swam in the pleasure of a nobleman's
compliment.

'What's the story?' interposed Aunt Bel.

An outline of it was given her. Thank heaven, the table was now rid of
the Great Mel. For how could he have any, the remotest relation with
Queens and Peninsular pic-nics? You shall hear.

Lady Jocelyn happened to catch a word or two of the story.

'Why,' said she, 'that's English! Franks, you remember the ballet
divertissement they improvised at the Bodley race-ball, when the
magnificent footman fired a curtain and caught up Lady Racial, and
carried her--'

'Heaven knows where!' cried Sir Franks. 'I remember it perfectly. It was
said that the magnificent footman did it on purpose to have that
pleasure.'

'Ay, of course,' Hamilton took him up. 'They talked of prosecuting the
magnificent footman.'

'Ay,' followed Seymour, 'and nobody could tell where the magnificent
footman bolted. He vanished into thin air.'

'Ay, of course,' Melville struck in; 'and the magic enveloped the lady
for some time.'

At this point Mr. George Uplift gave a horse-laugh. He jerked in his seat
excitedly.

'Bodley race-ball!' he cried; and looking at Lady Jocelyn: 'Was your
ladyship there, then? Why--ha! ha! why, you have seen the Great Mel,
then! That tremendous footman was old Mel himself!'

Lady Jocelyn struck both her hands on the table, and rested her large
grey eyes, full of humorous surprise, on Mr. George.

There was a pause, and then the ladies and gentlemen laughed.

'Yes,' Mr. George went on, 'that was old Mel. I'll swear to him.'

'And that's how it began?' murmured Lady Jocelyn.

Mr. George nodded at his plate discreetly.

'Well,' said Lady Jocelyn, leaning back, and lifting her face upward in
the discursive fulness of her fancy, 'I feel I am not robbed. 'Il y a des
miracles, et j'en ai vu'. One's life seems more perfect when one has seen
what nature can do. The fellow was stupendous! I conceive him present.
Who'll fire a house for me? Is it my deficiency of attraction, or a total
dearth of gallant snobs?'

The Countess was drowned. The muscles of her smiles were horribly stiff
and painful. Caroline was getting pale. Could it be accident that thus
resuscitated Mel, their father, and would not let the dead man die? Was
not malice at the bottom of it? The Countess, though she hated Mr. George
infinitely, was clear-headed enough to see that Providence alone was
trying her. No glances were exchanged between him and Laxley, or
Drummond.

Again Mel returned to his peace, and again he had to come forth.

'Who was this singular man you were speaking about just now?' Mrs.
Evremonde asked.

Lady Jocelyn answered her: 'The light of his age. The embodied protest
against our social prejudice. Combine--say, Mirabeau and Alcibiades, and
the result is the Lymport Tailor:--he measures your husband in the
morning: in the evening he makes love to you, through a series of
pantomimic transformations. He was a colossal Adonis, and I'm sorry he's
dead!'

'But did the man get into society?' said Mrs. Evremonde. 'How did he
manage that?'

'Yes, indeed! and what sort of a society!' the dowager Copping
interjected. 'None but bachelor-tables, I can assure you. Oh! I remember
him. They talked of fetching him to Dox Hall. I said, No, thank you, Tom;
this isn't your Vauxhall.'

'A sharp retort,' said Lady Jocelyn, 'a most conclusive rhyme; but you're
mistaken. Many families were glad to see him, I hear. And he only
consented to be treated like a footman when he dressed like one. The
fellow had some capital points. He fought two or three duels, and behaved
like a man. Franks wouldn't have him here, or I would have received him.
I hear that, as a conteur, he was inimitable. In short, he was a robust
Brummel, and the Regent of low life.'

This should have been Mel's final epitaph.

Unhappily, Mrs. Melville would remark, in her mincing manner, that the
idea of the admission of a tailor into society seemed very unnatural; and
Aunt Bel confessed that her experience did not comprehend it.

'As to that,' said Lady Jocelyn, 'phenomena are unnatural. The rules of
society are lightened by the exceptions. What I like in this Mel is, that
though he was a snob, and an impostor, he could still make himself
respected by his betters. He was honest, so far; he acknowledged his
tastes, which were those of Franks, Melville, Seymour, and George--the
tastes of a gentleman. I prefer him infinitely to your cowardly democrat,
who barks for what he can't get, and is generally beastly. In fact, I'm
not sure that I haven't a secret passion for the great tailor.'

'After all, old Mel wasn't so bad,' Mr. George Uplift chimed in.

'Granted a tailor--you didn't see a bit of it at table. I've known him
taken for a lord. And when he once got hold of you, you couldn't give him
up. The squire met him first in the coach, one winter. He took him for a
Russian nobleman--didn't find out what he was for a month or so. Says
Mel, "Yes, I make clothes. You find the notion unpleasant; guess how
disagreeable it is to me." The old squire laughed, and was glad to have
him at Croftlands as often as he chose to come. Old Mel and I used to
spar sometimes; but he's gone, and I should like to shake his fist
again.'

Then Mr. George told the 'Bath' story, and episodes in Mel's career as
Marquis; and while he held the ear of the table, Rose, who had not spoken
a word, and had scarcely eaten a morsel during dinner, studied the
sisters with serious eyes. Only when she turned them from the Countess to
Mrs. Strike, they were softened by a shadowy drooping of the eyelids, as
if for some reason she deeply pitied that lady.

Next to Rose sat Drummond, with a face expressive of cynical enjoyment.
He devoted uncommon attention to the Countess, whom he usually shunned
and overlooked. He invited her to exchange bows over wine, in the fashion
of that day, and the Countess went through the performance with finished
grace and ease. Poor Andrew had all the time been brushing back his hair,
and making strange deprecatory sounds in his throat, like a man who felt
bound to assure everybody at table he was perfectly happy and
comfortable.

'Material enough for a Sartoriad,' said Drummond to Lady Jocelyn.

'Excellent. Pray write it forthwith, Drummond', replied her ladyship; and
as they exchanged talk unintelligible to the Countess, this lady observed
to the Duke:

'It is a relief to have buried that subject.'

The Duke smiled, raising an eyebrow; but the persecuted Countess
perceived she had been much too hasty when Drummond added,

'I'll make a journey to Lymport in a day or two, and master his history.'

'Do,' said her ladyship; and flourishing her hand, '"I sing the Prince of
Snobs!"'

'Oh, if it's about old Mel, I 'll sing you material enough,' said Mr.
George. 'There! you talk of it's being unnatural, his dining out at
respectable tables. Why, I believe--upon my honour, I believe it's a
fact--he's supped and thrown dice with the Regent.'

Lady Jocelyn clapped her hands. 'A noble culmination, Drummond! The man's
an Epic!'

'Well, I think old Mel was equal to it,' Mr. George pursued. 'He gave me
pretty broad hints; and this is how it was, if it really happened, you
know. Old Mel had a friend; some say he was more. Well, that was a
fellow, a great gambler. I dare say you 've heard of him--Burley
Bennet--him that won Ryelands Park of one of the royal dukes--died worth
upwards of L100,000; and old Mel swore he ought to have had it, and would
if he hadn't somehow offended him. He left the money to Admiral
Harrington, and he was a relation of Mel's.'

'But are we then utterly mixed up with tailors?' exclaimed Mrs.
Barrington.

'Well, those are the facts,' said Mr. George.

The wine made the young squire talkative. It is my belief that his
suspicions were not awake at that moment, and that, like any other young
country squire, having got a subject he could talk on, he did not care to
discontinue it. The Countess was past the effort to attempt to stop him.
She had work enough to keep her smile in the right place.

Every dinner may be said to have its special topic, just as every age has
its marked reputation. They are put up twice or thrice, and have to
contend with minor lights, and to swallow them, and then they command the
tongues of men and flow uninterruptedly. So it was with the great Mel
upon this occasion. Curiosity was aroused about him. Aunt Bel agreed with
Lady Jocelyn that she would have liked to know the mighty tailor. Mrs.
Shorne but very imperceptibly protested against the notion, and from one
to another it ran. His Grace of Belfield expressed positive approval of
Mel as one of the old school.

'Si ce n'est pas le gentilhomme, au moins, c'est le gentilhomme manque,'
said Lady Jocelyn. 'He is to be regretted, Duke. You are right. The stuff
was in him, but the Fates were unkind. I stretch out my hand to the
pauvre diable.'

'I think one learns more from the mock magnifico than from anything
else,' observed his Grace.

'When the lion saw the donkey in his own royal skin, said Aunt Bel, 'add
the rhyme at your discretion--he was a wiser lion, that's all.'

'And the ape that strives to copy one--he's an animal of judgement,' said
Lady Jocelyn. 'We will be tolerant to the tailor, and the Countess must
not set us down as a nation of shopkeepers: philosophically tolerant.'

The Countess started, and ran a little broken 'Oh!' affably out of her
throat, dipped her lips to her tablenapkin, and resumed her smile.

'Yes,' pursued her ladyship; 'old Mel stamps the age gone by. The gallant
adventurer tied to his shop! Alternate footman and marquis, out of
intermediate tailor! Isn't there something fine in his buffoon imitation
of the real thing? I feel already that old Mel belongs to me. Where is
the great man buried? Where have they, set the funeral brass that holds
his mighty ashes?'

Lady Jocelyn's humour was fully entered into by the men. The women smiled
vacantly, and had a common thought that it was ill-bred of her to hold
forth in that way at table, and unfeminine of any woman to speak
continuously anywhere.

'Oh, come!' cried Mr. George, who saw his own subject snapped away from
him by sheer cleverness; 'old Mel wasn't only a buffoon, my lady, you
know. Old Mel had his qualities. He was as much a "no-nonsense" fellow,
in his way, as a magistrate, or a minister.'

'Or a king, or a constable,' Aunt Bel helped his illustration.

'Or a prince, a poll-parrot, a Perigord-pie,' added Drummond, whose
gravity did not prevent Mr. George from seeing that he was laughed at.

'Well, then, now, listen to this,' said Mr. George, leaning his two hands
on the table resolutely. Dessert was laid, and, with a full glass beside
him, and a pear to peel, he determined to be heard.

The Countess's eyes went mentally up to the vindictive heavens. She stole
a glance at Caroline, and was alarmed at her excessive pallor. Providence
had rescued Evan from this!

'Now, I know this to be true,' Mr. George began. 'When old Mel was alive,
he and I had plenty of sparring, and that--but he's dead, and I'll do him
justice. I spoke of Burley Bennet just now. Now, my lady, old Burley was,
I think, Mel's half-brother, and he came, I know, somewhere out of Drury
Lane-one of the courts near the theatre--I don't know much of London.
However, old Mel wouldn't have that. Nothing less than being born in St.
James's Square would content old Mel, and he must have a Marquis for his
father. I needn't be more particular. Before ladies--ahem! But Burley was
the shrewd hand of the two. Oh-h-h! such a card! He knew the way to get
into company without false pretences. Well, I told you, he had lots more
than L100,000--some said two--and he gave up Ryelands; never asked for
it, though he won it. Consequence was, he commanded the services of
somebody pretty high. And it was he got Admiral Harrington made a
captain, posted, commodore, admiral, and K.C.B., all in seven years! In
the Army it 'd have been half the time, for the H.R.H. was stronger in
that department. Now, I know old Burley promised Mel to leave him his
money, and called the Admiral an ungrateful dog. He didn't give Mel much
at a time--now and then a twenty-pounder or so--I saw the cheques. And
old Mel expected the money, and looked over his daughters like a
turkey-cock. Nobody good enough for them. Whacking handsome gals--three!
used to be called the Three Graces of Lymport. And one day Burley comes
and visits Mel, and sees the girls. And he puts his finger on the eldest,
I can tell you. She was a spanker! She was the handsomest gal, I think,
ever I saw. For the mother's a fine woman, and what with the mother, and
what with old Mel--'

'We won't enter into the mysteries of origin,' quoth Lady Jocelyn.

'Exactly, my lady. Oh, your servant, of course. Before ladies. A Burley
Bennet, I said. Long and short was, he wanted to take her up to London.
Says old Mel: "London 's a sad place."--"Place to make money," says
Burley. "That's not work for a young gal," says Mel. Long and short was,
Burley wanted to take her, and Mel wouldn't let her go.' Mr. George
lowered his tone, and mumbled, 'Don't know how to explain it very well
before ladies. What Burley wanted was--it wasn't quite honourable, you
know, though there was a good deal of spangles on it, and whether a real
H.R.H., or a Marquis, or a Viscount, I can't say, but--the offer was
tempting to a tradesman. "No," says Mel; like a chap planting his
flagstaff and sticking to it. I believe that to get her to go with him,
Burley offered to make a will on the spot, and to leave every farthing of
his money and property--upon my soul, I believe it to be true--to Mel and
his family, if he'd let the gal go. "No," says Mel. I like the old bird!
And Burley got in a rage, and said he'd leave every farthing to the
sailor. Says Mel: "I'm a poor tradesman; but I have and I always will
have the feelings of a gentleman, and they're more to me than hard cash,
and the honour of my daughter, sir, is dearer to me than my blood. Out of
the house!" cries Mel. And away old Burley went, and left every penny to
the sailor, Admiral Harrington, who never noticed 'em an inch. Now,
there!'

All had listened to Mr. George attentively, and he had slurred the
apologetic passages, and emphasized the propitiatory 'before ladies' in a
way to make himself well understood a generation back.

'Bravo, old Mel!' rang the voice of Lady Jocelyn, and a murmur ensued, in
the midst of which Rose stood up and hurried round the table to Mrs.
Strike, who was seen to rise from her chair; and as she did so, the
ill-arranged locks fell from their unnatural restraint down over her
shoulders; one great curl half forward to the bosom, and one behind her
right ear. Her eyes were wide, her whole face, neck, and fingers, white
as marble. The faintest tremor of a frown on her brows, and her shut
lips, marked the continuation of some internal struggle, as if with her
last conscious force she kept down a flood of tears and a wild outcry
which it was death to hold. Sir Franks felt his arm touched, and looked
up, and caught her, as Rose approached. The Duke and other gentlemen went
to his aid, and as the beautiful woman was borne out white and still as a
corpse, the Countess had this dagger plunged in her heart from the mouth
of Mr. George, addressing Miss Carrington:

'I swear I didn't do it on purpose. She 's Carry Harrington, old Mel's
daughter, as sure as she 's flesh and blood!'



CHAPTER XXIII

TREATS OF A HANDKERCHIEF

Running through Beckley Park, clear from the chalk, a little stream gave
light and freshness to its pasturage. Near where it entered, a
bathing-house of white marble had been built, under which the water
flowed, and the dive could be taken to a paved depth, and you swam out
over a pebbly bottom into sun-light, screened by the thick-weeded banks,
loose-strife and willow-herb, and mint, nodding over you, and in the
later season long-plumed yellow grasses. Here at sunrise the young men
washed their limbs, and here since her return home English Rose loved to
walk by night. She had often spoken of the little happy stream to Evan in
Portugal, and when he came to Beckley Court, she arranged that he should
sleep in a bed-room overlooking it. The view was sweet and pleasant to
him, for all the babbling of the water was of Rose, and winding in and
out, to East, to North, it wound to embowered hopes in the lover's mind,
to tender dreams; and often at dawn, when dressing, his restless heart
embarked on it, and sailed into havens, the phantom joys of which
coloured his life for him all the day. But most he loved to look across
it when the light fell. The palest solitary gleam along its course spoke
to him rich promise. The faint blue beam of a star chained all his
longings, charmed his sorrows to sleep. Rose like a fairy had breathed
her spirit here, and it was a delight to the silly luxurious youth to lie
down, and fix some image of a flower bending to the stream on his brain,
and in the cradle of fancies that grew round it, slide down the tide of
sleep.

From the image of a flower bending to the stream, like his own soul to
the bosom of Rose, Evan built sweet fables. It was she that exalted him,
that led him through glittering chapters of adventure. In his dream of
deeds achieved for her sake, you may be sure the young man behaved
worthily, though he was modest when she praised him, and his limbs
trembled when the land whispered of his great reward to come. The longer
he stayed at Beckley the more he lived in this world within world, and if
now and then the harsh outer life smote him, a look or a word from Rose
encompassed him again, and he became sensible only of a distant pain.

At first his hope sprang wildly to possess her, to believe, that after he
had done deeds that would have sent ordinary men in the condition of
shattered hulks to the hospital, she might be his. Then blow upon blow
was struck, and he prayed to be near her till he died: no more. Then she,
herself, struck him to the ground, and sitting in his chamber, sick and
weary, on the evening of his mishap, Evan's sole desire was to obtain the
handkerchief he had risked his neck for. To have that, and hold it to his
heart, and feel it as a part of her, seemed much.

Over a length of the stream the red round harvest-moon was rising, and
the weakened youth was this evening at the mercy of the charm that
encircled him. The water curved, and dimpled, and flowed flat, and the
whole body of it rushed into the spaces of sad splendour. The clustered
trees stood like temples of darkness; their shadows lengthened
supernaturally; and a pale gloom crept between them on the sward. He had
been thinking for some time that Rose would knock at his door, and give
him her voice, at least; but she did not come; and when he had gazed out
on the stream till his eyes ached, he felt that he must go and walk by
it. Those little flashes of the hurrying tide spoke to him of a secret
rapture and of a joy-seeking impulse; the pouring onward of all the blood
of life to one illumined heart, mournful from excess of love.

Pardon me, I beg. Enamoured young men have these notions. Ordinarily Evan
had sufficient common sense and was as prosaic as mankind could wish him;
but he has had a terrible fall in the morning, and a young woman rages in
his brain. Better, indeed, and 'more manly,' were he to strike and raise
huge bosses on his forehead, groan, and so have done with it. We must let
him go his own way.

At the door he was met by the Countess. She came into the room without a
word or a kiss, and when she did speak, the total absence of any euphuism
gave token of repressed excitement yet more than her angry eyes and eager
step. Evan had grown accustomed to her moods, and if one moment she was
the halcyon, and another the petrel, it no longer disturbed him, seeing
that he was a stranger to the influences by which she was affected. The
Countess rated him severely for not seeking repose and inviting sympathy.
She told him that the Jocelyns had one and all combined in an infamous
plot to destroy the race of Harrington, and that Caroline had already
succumbed to their assaults; that the Jocelyns would repent it, and
sooner than they thought for; and that the only friend the Harringtons
had in the house was Miss Bonner, whom Providence would liberally reward.

Then the Countess changed to a dramatic posture, and whispered aloud,
'Hush: she is here. She is so anxious. Be generous, my brother, and let
her see you!'

'She?' said Evan, faintly. 'May she come, Louisa?' He hoped for Rose.

'I have consented to mask it,' returned the Countess. 'Oh, what do I not
sacrifice for you!'

She turned from him, and to Evan's chagrin introduced Juliana Bonner.

'Five minutes, remember!' said the Countess. 'I must not hear of more.'
And then Evan found himself alone with Miss Bonner, and very uneasy. This
young lady had restless brilliant eyes, and a contraction about the
forehead which gave one the idea of a creature suffering perpetual
headache. She said nothing, and when their eyes met she dropped hers in a
manner that made silence too expressive. Feeling which, Evan began:

'May I tell you that I think it is I who ought to be nursing you, not you
me?'

Miss Bonner replied by lifting her eyes and dropping them as before,
murmuring subsequently, 'Would you do so?'

'Most certainly, if you did me the honour to select me.'

The fingers of the young lady commenced twisting and intertwining on her
lap. Suddenly she laughed:

'It would not do at all. You won't be dismissed from your present service
till you 're unfit for any other.'

'What do you mean?' said Evan, thinking more of the unmusical laugh than
of the words.

He received no explanation, and the irksome silence caused him to look
through the window, as an escape for his mind, at least. The waters
streamed on endlessly into the golden arms awaiting them. The low moon
burnt through the foliage. In the distance, over a reach of the flood,
one tall aspen shook against the lighted sky.

'Are you in pain?' Miss Bonner asked, and broke his reverie.

'No; I am going away, and perhaps I sigh involuntarily.'

'You like these grounds?'

'I have never been so happy in any place.'

'With those cruel young men about you?'

Evan now laughed. 'We don't call young men cruel, Miss Bonner.'

'But were they not? To take advantage of what Rose told them--it was
base!'

She had said more than she intended, possibly, for she coloured under his
inquiring look, and added: 'I wish I could say the same as you of
Beckley. Do you know, I am called Rose's thorn?'

'Not by Miss Jocelyn herself, certainly!'

'How eager you are to defend her. But am I not--tell me--do I not look
like a thorn in company with her?'

'There is but the difference that ill health would make.'

'Ill health? Oh, yes! And Rose is so much better born.'

'To that, I am sure, she does not give a thought.'

'Not Rose? Oh!'

An exclamation, properly lengthened, convinces the feelings more
satisfactorily than much logic. Though Evan claimed only the
hand-kerchief he had won, his heart sank at the sound. Miss Bonner
watched him, and springing forward, said sharply:

'May I tell you something?'

'You may tell me what you please.'

'Then, whether I offend you or not, you had better leave this.'

'I am going,' said Evan. 'I am only waiting to introduce your tutor to
you.'

She kept her eyes on him, and in her voice as well there was a depth, as
she returned:

'Mr. Laxley, Mr. Forth, and Harry, are going to Lymport to-morrow.'

Evan was looking at a figure, whose shadow was thrown towards the house
from the margin of the stream.

He stood up, and taking the hand of Miss Bonner, said:

'I thank you. I may, perhaps, start with them. At any rate, you have done
me a great service, which I shall not forget.'

The figure by the stream he knew to be that of Rose. He released Miss
Bonner's trembling moist hand, and as he continued standing, she moved to
the door, after once following the line of his eyes into the moonlight.

Outside the door a noise was audible. Andrew had come to sit with his
dear boy, and the Countess had met and engaged and driven him to the
other end of the passage, where he hung remonstrating with her.

'Why, Van,' he said, as Evan came up to him, 'I thought you were in a
profound sleep. Louisa said--'

'Silly Andrew!' interposed the Countess, 'do you not observe he is
sleep-walking now?' and she left them with a light laugh to go to
Juliana, whom she found in tears. The Countess was quite aware of the
efficacy of a little bit of burlesque lying to cover her retreat from any
petty exposure.

Evan soon got free from Andrew. He was under the dim stars, walking to
the great fire in the East. The cool air refreshed him. He was simply
going to ask for his own, before he went, and had no cause to fear what
would be thought by any one. A handkerchief! A man might fairly win that,
and carry it out of a very noble family, without having to blush for
himself.

I cannot say whether he inherited his feeling for rank from Mel, his
father, or that the Countess had succeeded in instilling it, but Evan
never took Republican ground in opposition to those who insulted him, and
never lashed his 'manhood' to assert itself, nor compared the fineness of
his instincts with the behaviour of titled gentlemen. Rather he seemed to
admit the distinction between his birth and that of a gentleman,
admitting it to his own soul, as it were, and struggled simply as men
struggle against a destiny. The news Miss Bonner had given him sufficed
to break a spell which could not have endured another week; and Andrew,
besides, had told him of Caroline's illness. He walked to meet Rose,
honestly intending to ask for his own, and wish her good-bye.

Rose saw him approach, and knew him in the distance. She was sitting on a
lower branch of the aspen, that shot out almost from the root, and
stretched over the intervolving rays of light on the tremulous water. She
could not move to meet him. She was not the Rose whom we have hitherto
known. Love may spring in the bosom of a young girl, like Helper in the
evening sky, a grey speck in a field of grey, and not be seen or known,
till surely as the circle advances the faint planet gathers fire, and,
coming nearer earth, dilates, and will and must be seen and known. When
Evan lay like a dead man on the ground, Rose turned upon herself as the
author of his death, and then she felt this presence within her, and her
heart all day had talked to her of it, and was throbbing now, and would
not be quieted. She could only lift her eyes and give him her hand; she
could not speak. She thought him cold, and he was; cold enough to think
that she and her cousin were not unlike in their manner, though not deep
enough to reflect that it was from the same cause.

She was the first to find her wits: but not before she spoke did she
feel, and start to feel, how long had been the silence, and that her hand
was still in his.

'Why did you come out, Evan? It was not right.'

'I came to speak to you. I shall leave early to-morrow, and may not see
you alone.'

'You are going----?'

She checked her voice, and left the thrill of it wavering in him.

'Yes, Rose, I am going; I should have gone before.'

'Evan!' she grasped his hand, and then timidly retained it. 'You have not
forgiven me? I see now. I did not think of any risk to you. I only wanted
you to beat. I wanted you to be first and best. If you knew how I thank
God for saving you! What my punishment would have been!'

Till her eyes were full she kept them on him, too deep in emotion to be
conscious of it.

He could gaze on her tears coldly.

'I should be happy to take the leap any day for the prize you offered. I
have come for that.'

'For what, Evan?' But while she was speaking the colour mounted in her
cheeks, and she went on rapidly:

'Did you think it unkind of me not to come to nurse you. I must tell you,
to defend myself. It was the Countess, Evan. She is offended with
me--very justly, I dare say. She would not let me come. What could I do?
I had no claim to come.'

Rose was not aware of the import of her speech. Evan, though he felt more
in it, and had some secret nerves set tingling and dancing, was not to be
moved from his demand.

'Do you intend to withhold it, Rose?'

'Withhold what, Evan? Anything that you wish for is yours.'

'The handkerchief. Is not that mine?'

Rose faltered a word. Why did he ask for it? Because he asked for nothing
else, and wanted no other thing save that.

Why did she hesitate? Because it was so poor a gift, and so unworthy of
him.

And why did he insist? Because in honour she was bound to surrender it.

And why did she hesitate still? Let her answer.

'Oh, Evan! I would give you anything but that; and if you are going away,
I should beg so much to keep it.'

He must have been in a singular state not to see her heart in the
refusal, as was she not to see his in the request. But Love is blindest
just when the bandage is being removed from his forehead.

'Then you will not give it me, Rose? Do you think I shall go about
boasting "This is Miss Jocelyn's handkerchief, and I, poor as I am, have
won it"?'

The taunt struck aslant in Rose's breast with a peculiar sting. She stood
up.

'I will give it you, Evan.'

Turning from him she drew it forth, and handed it to him hurriedly. It
was warm. It was stained with his blood. He guessed where it had been
nestling, and, now, as if by revelation, he saw that large sole star in
the bosom of his darling, and was blinded by it and lost his senses.

'Rose! beloved!'

Like the flower of his nightly phantasy bending over the stream, he
looked and saw in her sweet face the living wonders that encircled his
image; she murmuring: 'No, you must hate me.'

'I love you, Rose, and dare to say it--and it 's unpardonable. Can you
forgive me?'

She raised her face to him.

'Forgive you for loving me?' she said.

Holy to them grew the stillness: the ripple suffused in golden moonlight:
the dark edges of the leaves against superlative brightness. Not a chirp
was heard, nor anything save the cool and endless carol of the happy
waters, whose voices are the spirits of silence. Nature seemed consenting
that their hands should be joined, their eyes intermingling. And when
Evan, with a lover's craving, wished her lips to say what her eyes said
so well, Rose drew his fingers up, and, with an arch smile and a blush,
kissed them. The simple act set his heart thumping, and from the look of
love, she saw an expression of pain pass through him. Her fealty--her
guileless, fearless truth--which the kissing of his hand brought vividly
before him, conjured its contrast as well in this that was hidden from
her, or but half suspected. Did she know--know and love him still? He
thought it might be: but that fell dead on her asking:

'Shall I speak to Mama to-night?'

A load of lead crushed him.

'Rose!' he said; but could get no farther.

Innocently, or with well-masked design, Rose branched off into little
sweet words about his bruised shoulder, touching it softly, as if she
knew the virtue that was in her touch, and accusing her selfish self as
she caressed it:

'Dearest Evan! you must have been sure I thought no one like you. Why did
you not tell me before? I can hardly believe it now! Do you know,' she
hurried on, 'they think me cold and heartless,--am I? I must be, to have
made you run such risk; but yet I'm sure I could not have survived you.'

Dropping her voice, Rose quoted Ruth. As Evan listened, the words were
like food from heaven poured into his spirit.

'To-morrow,' he kept saying to himself, 'to-morrow I will tell her all.
Let her think well of me a few short hours.'

But the passing minutes locked them closer; each had a new link--in a
word, or a speechless breath, or a touch: and to break the marriage of
their eyes there must be infinite baseness on one side, or on the other
disloyalty to love.

The moon was a silver ball, high up through the aspen-leaves. Evan kissed
the hand of Rose, and led her back to the house. He had appeased his
conscience by restraining his wild desire to kiss her lips.

In the hall they parted. Rose whispered, 'Till death!' giving him her
hands.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE COUNTESS MAKES HERSELF FELT

There is a peculiar reptile whose stroke is said to deprive men of
motion. On the day after the great Mel had stalked the dinner-table of
Beckley Court, several of the guests were sensible of the effect of this
creature's mysterious touch, without knowing what it was that paralyzed
them. Drummond Forth had fully planned to go to Lymport. He had special
reasons for making investigations with regard to the great Mel. Harry,
who was fond of Drummond, offered to accompany him, and Laxley, for the
sake of a diversion, fell into the scheme. Mr. George Uplift was also to
be of the party, and promised them fun. But when the time came to start,
not one could be induced to move: Laxley was pressingly engaged by Rose:
Harry showed the rope the Countess held him by; Mr. George made a
singular face, and seriously advised Drummond to give up the project.

'Don't rub that woman the wrong way,' he said, in a private colloquy they
had. 'By Jingo, she's a Tartar. She was as a gal, and she isn't changed,
Lou Harrington. Fancy now: she knew me, and she faced me out, and made me
think her a stranger! Gad, I'm glad I didn't speak to the others. Lord's
sake, keep it quiet. Don't rouse that woman, now, if you want to keep a
whole skin.'

Drummond laughed at his extreme earnestness in cautioning him, and
appeared to enjoy his dread of the Countess. Mr. George would not tell
how he had been induced to change his mind. He repeated his advice with a
very emphatic shrug of the shoulder.

'You seem afraid of her,' said Drummond.

'I am. I ain't ashamed to confess it. She's a regular viper, my boy!'
said Mr. George. 'She and I once were pretty thick--least said soonest
mended, you know. I offended her. Wasn't quite up to her mark--a tailor's
daughter, you know. Gad, if she didn't set an Irish Dragoon Captain on
me!--I went about in danger of my life. The fellow began to twist his
damned black moustaches the moment he clapped eyes on me--bullied me
till, upon my soul, I was almost ready to fight him! Oh, she was a little
tripping Tartar of a bantam hen then. She's grown since she's been
countessed, and does it peacocky. Now, I give you fair warning, you know.
She's more than any man's match.'

'I dare say I shall think the same when she has beaten me,' quoth cynical
Drummond, and immediately went and gave orders for his horse to be
saddled, thinking that he would tread on the head of the viper.

But shortly before the hour of his departure, Mrs. Evremonde summoned him
to her, and showed him a slip of paper, on which was written, in an
uncouth small hand:

'Madam: a friend warns you that your husband is coming here. Deep
interest in your welfare is the cause of an anonymous communication. The
writer wishes only to warn you in time.'

Mrs. Evremonde told Drummond that she had received it from one of the
servants when leaving the breakfast-room. Beyond the fact that a man on
horseback had handed it to a little boy, who had delivered it over to the
footman, Drummond could learn nothing. Of course, all thought of the
journey to Lymport was abandoned. If but to excogitate a motive for the
origin of the document, Drummond was forced to remain; and now he had it,
and now he lost it again; and as he was wandering about in his maze, the
Countess met him with a 'Good morning, Mr., Forth. Have I impeded your
expedition by taking my friend Mr. Harry to cavalier me to-day?'

Drummond smilingly assured her that she had not in any way disarranged
his projects, and passed with so absorbed a brow that the Countess could
afford to turn her head and inspect him, without fear that he would
surprise her in the act. Knocking the pearly edge of her fan on her
teeth, she eyed him under her joined black lashes, and deliberately read
his thoughts in the mere shape of his back and shoulders. She read him
through and through, and was unconscious of the effective attitude she
stood in for the space of two full minutes, and even then it required one
of our unhappy sex to recall her. This was Harry Jocelyn.

'My friend,' she said to him, with a melancholy smile, 'my one friend
here!'

Harry went through the form of kissing her hand, which he had been
taught, and practised cunningly as the first step of the ladder.

'I say, you looked so handsome, standing as you did just now,' he
remarked; and she could see how far beneath her that effective attitude
had precipitated the youth.

'Ah!' she sighed, walking on, with the step of majesty in exile.

'What the deuce is the matter with everybody to-day?' cried Harry. 'I 'm
hanged if I can make it out. There's the Carrington, as you call her, I
met her with such a pair of eyes, and old George looking as if he'd been
licked, at her heels; and there's Drummond and his lady fair moping about
the lawn, and my mother positively getting excited--there's a miracle!
and Juley 's sharpening her nails for somebody, and if Ferdinand don't
look out, your brother 'll be walking off with Rosey--that 's my
opinion.'

'Indeed,' said the Countess. 'You really think so?'

'Well, they come it pretty strong together.'

'And what constitutes the "come it strong," Mr. Harry?'

'Hold of hands; you know,' the young gentleman indicated.

'Alas, then! must not we be more discreet?'

'Oh! but it's different. With young people one knows what that means.'

'Deus!' exclaimed the Countess, tossing her head weariedly, and Harry
perceived his slip, and down he went again.

What wonder that a youth in such training should consent to fetch and
carry, to listen and relate, to play the spy and know no more of his
office than that it gave him astonishing thrills of satisfaction, and now
and then a secret sweet reward?

The Countess had sealed Miss Carrington's mouth by one of her most
dexterous strokes. On leaving the dinner-table over-night, and seeing
that Caroline's attack would preclude their instant retreat, the gallant
Countess turned at bay. A word aside to Mr. George Uplift, and then the
Countess took a chair by Miss Carrington. She did all the conversation,
and supplied all the smiles to it, and when a lady has to do that she is
justified in striking, and striking hard, for to abandon the pretence of
sweetness is a gross insult from one woman to another.

The Countess then led circuitously, but with all the ease in the world,
to the story of a Portuguese lady, of a marvellous beauty, and who was
deeply enamoured of the Chevalier Miguel de Rasadio, and engaged to be
married to him: but, alas for her! in the insolence of her happiness she
wantonly made an enemy in the person of a most unoffending lady, and she
repented it. While sketching the admirable Chevalier, the Countess drew a
telling portrait of Mr. George Uplift, and gratified her humour and her
wrath at once by strong truth to nature in the description and animated
encomiums on the individual. The Portuguese lady, too, a little resembled
Miss Carrington, in spite of her marvellous beauty. And it was odd that
Miss Carrington should give a sudden start and a horrified glance at the
Countess just when the Countess was pathetically relating the proceeding
taken by the revengeful lady on the beautiful betrothed of the Chevalier
Miguel de Rasadio: which proceeding was nothing other than to bring to
the Chevalier's knowledge that his beauty had a defect concealed by her
apparel, and that the specks in his fruit were not one, or two, but, Oh!
And the dreadful sequel to the story the Countess could not tell:
preferring ingeniously to throw a tragic veil over it. Miss Carrington
went early to bed that night.

The courage that mounteth with occasion was eminently the attribute of
the Countess de Saldar. After that dreadful dinner she (since the
weaknesses of great generals should not be altogether ignored), did pray
for flight and total obscurity, but Caroline could not be left in her
hysteric state, and now that she really perceived that Evan was
progressing and on the point of sealing his chance, the devoted lady
resolved to hold her ground. Besides, there was the pic-nic. The Countess
had one dress she had not yet appeared in, and it was for the picnic she
kept it. That small motives are at the bottom of many illustrious actions
is a modern discovery; but I shall not adopt the modern principle of
magnifying the small motive till it overshadows my noble heroine. I
remember that the small motive is only to be seen by being borne into the
range of my vision by a powerful microscope; and if I do more than
see--if I carry on my reflections by the aid of the glass, I arrive at
conclusions that must be false. Men who dwarf human nature do this. The
gods are juster. The Countess, though she wished to remain for the
pic-nic, and felt warm in anticipation of the homage to her new dress,
was still a gallant general and a devoted sister, and if she said to
herself, 'Come what may, I will stay for that pic-nic, and they shall not
brow-beat me out of it,' it is that trifling pleasures are noisiest about
the heart of human nature: not that they govern us absolutely. There is
mob-rule in minds as in communities, but the Countess had her appetites
in excellent drill. This pic-nic surrendered, represented to her defeat
in all its ignominy. The largest longest-headed of schemes ask
occasionally for something substantial and immediate. So the Countess
stipulated with Providence for the pic-nic. It was a point to be passed:
'Thorough flood, thorough fire.'

In vain poor Andrew Cogglesby, to whom the dinner had been torture, and
who was beginning to see the position they stood in at Beckley, begged to
be allowed to take them away, or to go alone. The Countess laughed him
into submission. As a consequence of her audacious spirits she grew more
charming and more natural, and the humour that she possessed, but which,
like her other faculties, was usually subordinate to her plans, gave
spontaneous bursts throughout the day, and delighted her courtiers. Nor
did the men at all dislike the difference of her manner with them, and
with the ladies. I may observe that a woman who shows a marked depression
in the presence of her own sex will be thought very superior by ours;
that is, supposing she is clever and agreeable. Manhood distinguishes
what flatters it. A lady approaches. 'We must be proper,' says the
Countess, and her hearty laugh dies with suddenness and is succeeded by
the maturest gravity. And the Countess can look a profound merriment with
perfect sedateness when there appears to be an equivoque in company.
Finely secret are her glances, as if under every eye-lash there lurked
the shade of a meaning. What she meant was not so clear. All this was
going on, and Lady Jocelyn was simply amused, and sat as at a play.

'She seems to have stepped out of a book of French memoirs,' said her
ladyship. 'La vie galante et devote--voila la Comtesse.'

In contradistinction to the other ladies, she did not detest the Countess
because she could not like her.

'Where 's the harm in her?' she asked. 'She doesn't damage the men, that
I can see. And a person you can laugh at and with, is inexhaustible.'

'And how long is she to stay here?' Mrs. Shorne inquired. Mrs. Melville
remarking: 'Her visit appears to be inexhaustible.'

'I suppose she'll stay till the Election business is over,' said Lady
Jocelyn.

The Countess had just driven with Melville to Fallow field in Caroline's
black lace shawl.

'Upwards of four weeks longer!' Mrs. Melville interjected.

Lady Jocelyn chuckled.

Miss Carrington was present. She had been formerly sharp in her
condemnation of the Countess--her affectedness, her euphuism, and her
vulgarity. Now she did not say a word, though she might have done it with
impunity.

'I suppose, Emily, you see what Rose is about?' said Mrs. Melville. 'I
should not have thought it adviseable to have that young man here,
myself. I think I let you know that.'

'One young man's as good as another,' responded her ladyship. 'I 've my
doubts of the one that's much better. I fancy Rose is as good a judge by
this time as you or I.'

Mrs. Melville made an effort or two to open Lady Jocelyn's eyes, and then
relapsed into the confident serenity inspired by evil prognostications.

'But there really does seem some infatuation about these people!'
exclaimed Mrs. Shorne, turning to Miss Current. 'Can you understand it?
The Duke, my dear! Things seem to be going on in the house, that
really--and so openly.'

'That's one virtue,' said Miss Current, with her imperturbable metallic
voice, and face like a cold clear northern sky. 'Things done in secret
throw on the outsiders the onus of raising a scandal.'

'You don't believe, then?' suggested Mrs. Shorne.

Miss Current replied: 'I always wait for a thing to happen first.'

'But haven't you seen, my dear?'

'I never see anything, my dear.'

'Then you must be blind, my dear.'

'On the contrary, that 's how I keep my sight, my dear.'

'I don't understand you,' said Mrs. Shorne.

'It's a part of the science of optics, and requires study,' said Miss
Current.

Neither with the worldly nor the unworldly woman could the ladies do
anything. But they were soon to have their triumph.

A delicious morning had followed the lovely night. The stream flowed
under Evan's eyes, like something in a lower sphere, now. His passion
took him up, as if a genie had lifted him into mid-air, and showed him
the world on a palm of a hand; and yet, as he dressed by the window,
little chinks in the garden wall, and nectarines under their shiny
leaves, and the white walks of the garden, were stamped on his hot brain
accurately and lastingly. Ruth upon the lips of Rose: that voice of
living constancy made music to him everywhere. 'Thy God shall be my God.'
He had heard it all through the night. He had not yet broken the tender
charm sufficiently to think that he must tell her the sacrifice she would
have to make. When partly he did, the first excuse he clutched at was,
that he had not even kissed her on the forehead. Surely he had been
splendidly chivalrous? Just as surely he would have brought on himself
the scorn of the chivalrous or of the commonly balanced if he had been
otherwise. The grandeur of this or of any of his proceedings, then, was
forfeited, as it must needs be when we are in the false position: we can
have no glory though martyred. The youth felt it, even to the seeing of
why it was; and he resolved, in justice to the dear girl, that he would
break loose from his fetters, as we call our weakness. Behold, Rose met
him descending the stairs, and, taking his hand, sang, unabashed, by the
tell-tale colour coming over her face, a stave of a little Portuguese air
that they had both been fond of in Portugal; and he, listening to it, and
looking in her eyes, saw that his feelings in--the old time had been
hers. Instantly the old time gave him its breath, the present drew back.

Rose, now that she had given her heart out, had no idea of concealment.
She would have denied nothing to her aunts: she was ready to confide it
to her mother. Was she not proud of the man she loved? When Evan's hand
touched hers she retained it, and smiled up at him frankly, as it were to
make him glad in her gladness. If before others his eyes brought the
blood to her cheeks, she would perhaps drop her eye-lids an instant, and
then glance quickly level again to reassure him. And who would have
thought that this boisterous, boyish creature had such depths of eye!
Cold, did they call her? Let others think her cold. The tender knowledge
of her--the throbbing secret they held in common sang at his heart. Rose
made no confidante, but she attempted no mystery. Evan should have risen
to the height of the noble girl. But the dearer and sweeter her bearing
became, the more conscious he was of the dead weight he was dragging: in
truth her behaviour stamped his false position to hard print the more he
admired her for it, and he had shrinkings from the feminine part it
imposed on him to play.



CHAPTER XXV

IN WHICH THE STREAM FLOWS MUDDY AND CLEAR

An Irish retriever-pup of the Shannon breed, Pat by name, was undergoing
tuition on the sward close by the kennels, Rose's hunting-whip being
passed through his collar to restrain erratic propensities. The
particular point of instruction which now made poor Pat hang out his
tongue, and agitate his crisp brown curls, was the performance of the
'down-charge'; a ceremony demanding implicit obedience from the animal in
the midst of volatile gambadoes, and a simulation of profound repose when
his desire to be up and bounding was mighty. Pat's Irish eyes were
watching Rose, as he lay with his head couched between his forepaws in
the required attitude. He had but half learnt his lesson; and something
in his half-humorous, half-melancholy look talked to Rose more eloquently
than her friend Ferdinand at her elbow. Laxley was her assistant
dog-breaker. Rose would not abandon her friends because she had accepted
a lover. On the contrary, Rose was very kind to Ferdinand, and perhaps
felt bound to be so to-day. To-day, also, her face was lighted; a
readiness to colour, and an expression of deeper knowledge, which she now
had, made the girl dangerous to friends. This was not Rose's fault but
there is no doubt among the faculty that love is a contagious disease,
and we ought not to come within miles of the creatures in whom it lodges.

Pat's tail kept hinting to his mistress that a change would afford him
satisfaction. After a time she withdrew her wistful gaze from him, and
listened entirely to Ferdinand: and it struck her that he spoke
particularly well to-day, though she did not see so much in his eyes as
in Pat's. The subject concerned his departure, and he asked Rose if she
should be sorry. Rose, to make him sure of it, threw a music into her
voice dangerous to friends. For she had given heart and soul to Evan, and
had a sense, therefore, of being irredeemably in debt to her old
associates, and wished to be doubly kind to them.

Pat took advantage of the diversion to stand up quietly and have a shake.
He then began to kiss his mistress's hand, to show that all was right on
both sides; and followed this with a playful pretence at a bite, that
there might be no subsequent misunderstanding, and then a bark and a
whine. As no attention was paid to this amount of plain-speaking, Pat
made a bolt. He got no farther than the length of the whip, and all he
gained was to bring on himself the terrible word of drill once more. But
Pat had tasted liberty. Irish rebellion against constituted authority was
exhibited. Pat would not: his ears tossed over his head, and he jumped to
right and left, and looked the raggedest rapparee that ever his ancestry
trotted after. Rose laughed at his fruitless efforts to get free; but
Ferdinand meditatively appeared to catch a sentiment in them.

'Down-charge, Sir, will you? Ah, Pat! Pat! You'll have to obey me, my
boy. Now, down-charge!'

While Rose addressed the language of reason to Pat, Ferdinand slipped in
a soft word or two. Presently she saw him on one knee.

'Pat won't, and I will,' said he.

'But Pat shall, and you had better not,' said she. 'Besides, my dear
Ferdinand,' she added, laughing, 'you don't know how to do it.'

'Do you want me to prostrate on all fours, Rose?'

'No. I hope not. Do get up, Ferdinand. You'll be seen from the windows.'

Instead of quitting his posture, he caught her hand, and scared her with
a declaration.

'Of all men, you to be on your knees! and to me, Ferdinand!' she cried,
in discomfort.

'Why shouldn't I, Rose?' was this youth's answer.

He had got the idea that foreign cavalier manners would take with her;
but it was not so easy to make his speech correspond with his posture,
and he lost his opportunity, which was pretty. However, he spoke plain
English. The interview ended by Rose releasing Pat from drill, and
running off in a hurry. Where was Evan? She must have his consent to
speak to her mother, and prevent a recurrence of these silly scenes.

Evan was with Caroline, his sister.

It was contrary to the double injunction of the Countess that Caroline
should receive Evan during her absence, or that he should disturb the
dear invalid with a visit. These two were not unlike both in organization
and character, and they had not sat together long before they found each
other out. Now, to further Evan's love-suit, the Countess had induced
Caroline to continue yet awhile in the Purgatory Beckley Court had become
to her; but Evan, in speaking of Rose, expressed a determination to leave
her, and Caroline caught at it.

'Can you?--will you? Oh, dear Van! have you the courage? I--look at
me--you know the home I go to, and--and I think of it here as a place to
be happy in. What have our marriages done for us? Better that we had
married simple stupid men who earn their bread, and would not have been
ashamed of us! And, my dearest, it is not only that. None can tell what
our temptations are. Louisa has strength, but I feel I have none; and
though, dear, for your true interest, I would indeed sacrifice myself--I
would, Van! I would!--it is not good for you to stay,--I know it is not.
For you have Papa's sense of honour--and oh! if you should learn to
despise me, my dear brother!'

She kissed him; her nerves were agitated by strong mental excitement. He
attributed it to her recent attack of illness, but could not help asking,
while he caressed her:

'What's that? Despise you?'

It may have been that Caroline felt then, that to speak of something was
to forfeit something. A light glimmered across the dewy blue of her
beautiful eyes. Desire to breathe it to him, and have his loving aid: the
fear of forfeiting it, evil as it was to her, and at the bottom of all,
that doubt we choose to encourage of the harm in a pleasant sin
unaccomplished; these might be read in the rich dim gleam that swept like
sunlight over sea-water between breaks of clouds.

'Dear Van! do you love her so much?'

Caroline knew too well that she was shutting her own theme with iron
clasps when she once touched on Evan's.

Love her? Love Rose? It became an endless carol with Evan. Caroline
sighed for him from her heart.

'You know--you understand me; don't you?' he said, after a breathless
excursion of his fancy.

'I believe you love her, dear. I think I have never loved any one but my
one brother.'

His love for Rose he could pour out to Caroline; when it came to Rose's
love for him his blood thickened, and his tongue felt guilty. He must
speak to her, he said,--tell her all.

'Yes, tell her all,' echoed Caroline. 'Do, do tell her. Trust a woman
utterly if she loves you, dear. Go to her instantly.'

'Could you bear it?' said Evan. He began to think it was for the sake of
his sisters that he had hesitated.

'Bear it? bear anything rather than perpetual imposture. What have I not
borne? Tell her, and then, if she is cold to you, let us go. Let us go. I
shall be glad to. Ah, Van! I love you so.' Caroline's voice deepened. 'I
love you so, my dear. You won't let your new love drive me out? Shall you
always love me?'

Of that she might be sure, whatever happened.

'Should you love me, Van, if evil befel me?'

Thrice as well, he swore to her.

'But if I--if I, Van Oh! my life is intolerable! Supposing I should ever
disgrace you in any way, and not turn out all you fancied me. I am very
weak and unhappy.'

Evan kissed her confidently, with a warm smile. He said a few words of
the great faith he had in her: words that were bitter comfort to
Caroline. This brother, who might save her, to him she dared not speak.
Did she wish to be saved? She only knew that to wound Evan's sense of
honour and the high and chivalrous veneration for her sex and pride in
himself and those of his blood, would be wicked and unpardonable, and
that no earthly pleasure could drown it. Thinking this, with her hands
joined in pale dejection, Caroline sat silent, and Evan left her to lay
bare his heart to Rose. On his way to find Rose he was stopped by the
announcement of the arrival of Mr. Raikes, who thrust a bundle of notes
into his hand, and after speaking loudly of 'his curricle,' retired on
important business, as he said, with a mysterious air. 'I 'm beaten in
many things, but not in the article Luck,' he remarked; 'you will hear of
me, though hardly as a tutor in this academy.'

Scanning the bundle of notes, without a reflection beyond the thought
that money was in his hand; and wondering at the apparition of the
curricle, Evan was joined by Harry Jocelyn, and Harry linked his arm in
Evan's and plunged with extraordinary spontaneity and candour into the
state of his money affairs. What the deuce he was to do for money he did
not know. From the impressive manner in which he put it, it appeared to
be one of Nature's great problems that the whole human race were bound to
set their heads together to solve. A hundred pounds--Harry wanted no
more, and he could not get it. His uncles? they were as poor as rats; and
all the spare money they could club was going for Mel's Election
expenses. A hundred and fifty was what Harry really wanted; but he could
do with a hundred. Ferdinand, who had plenty, would not even lend him
fifty. Ferdinand had dared to hint at a debt already unsettled, and he
called himself a gentleman!

'You wouldn't speak of money-matters now, would you, Harrington?'

'I dislike the subject, I confess,' said Evan.

'And so do I' Harry jumped at the perfect similarity between them. 'You
can't think how it bothers one to have to talk about it. You and I are
tremendously alike.'

Evan might naturally suppose that a subject Harry detested, he would not
continue, but for a whole hour Harry turned it over and over with grim
glances at Jewry.

'You see,' he wound up, 'I'm in a fix. I want to help that poor girl, and
one or two things--'

'It 's for that you want it?' cried Evan, brightening to him. 'Accept it
from me.'

It is a thing familiar to the experience of money-borrowers, that your
'last chance' is the man who is to accommodate you; but we are always
astonished, nevertheless; and Harry was, when notes to the amount of the
largest sum named by him were placed in his hand by one whom he looked
upon as the last to lend.

'What a trump you are, Harrington!' was all he could say; and then he was
for hurrying Evan into the house, to find pen and paper, and write down a
memorandum of the loan: but Evan insisted upon sparing him the trouble,
though Harry, with the admirable scruples of an inveterate borrower,
begged hard to be allowed to bind himself legally to repay the money.

''Pon my soul, Harrington, you make me remember I once doubted whether
you were one of us--rather your own fault, you know!' said Harry. 'Bury
that, won't you?'

''Till your doubts recur,' Evan observed; and Harry burst out, 'Gad, if
you weren't such a melancholy beggar, you'd be the jolliest fellow I
know! There, go after Rosey. Dashed if I don't think you're ahead of
Ferdinand, long chalks. Your style does for girls. I like women.'

With a chuckle and a wink, Harry swung-off. Evan had now to reflect that
he had just thrown away part of the price of his bondage to Tailordom;
the mention of Rose filled his mind. Where was she? Both were seeking one
another. Rose was in the cypress walk. He saw the star-like figure up the
length of it, between the swelling tall dark pillars, and was hurrying to
her, resolute not to let one minute of deception blacken further the soul
that loved so true a soul. She saw him, and stood smiling, when the
Countess issued, shadow-like, from a side path, and declared that she
must claim her brother for a few instants. Would her sweet Rose pardon
her? Rose bowed coolly. The hearts of the lovers were chilled, not that
they perceived any malice in the Countess, but their keen instincts felt
an evil fate.

The Countess had but to tell Evan that she had met the insolvent in
apples, and recognized him under his change of fortune, and had no doubt
that at least he would amuse the company. Then she asked her brother the
superfluous question, whether he loved her, which Evan answered
satisfactorily enough, as he thought; but practical ladies require
proofs.

'Quick,' said Evan, seeing Rose vanish, 'what do you want? I'll do
anything.'

'Anything? Ah, but this will be disagreeable to you.'

'Name it at once. I promise beforehand.'

The Countess wanted Evan to ask Andrew to be the very best brother-in-law
in the world, and win, unknown to himself, her cheerful thanks, by
lending Evan to lend to her the sum of one hundred pounds, as she was in
absolute distress for money.

'Really, Louisa, this is a thing you might ask him yourself,' Evan
remonstrated.

'It would not become me to do so, dear,' said the Countess, demurely; and
inasmuch as she had already drawn on Andrew in her own person pretty
largely, her views of propriety were correct in this instance.

Evan had to consent before he could be released. He ran to the end of the
walk through the portal, into the park. Rose was not to be seen. She had
gone in to dress for dinner. The opportunity might recur, but would his
courage come with it? His courage had sunk on a sudden; or it may have
been that it was worst for this young man to ask for a loan of money,
than to tell his beloved that he was basely born, vile, and unworthy, and
had snared her into loving him; for when he and Andrew were together,
money was not alluded to. Andrew, however, betrayed remarkable
discomposure. He said plainly that he wanted to leave Beckley Court, and
wondered why he didn't leave, and whether he was on his head or his feet,
and how he had been such a fool as to come.

'Do you mean that for me?' said sensitive Evan.

'Oh, you! You're a young buck,' returned Andrew, evasively. 'We
common-place business men-we 're out of our element; and there's poor
Carry can't sit down to their dinners without an upset. I thank God I'm a
Radical, Van; one man's the same as another to me, how he's born, as long
as he's honest and agreeable. But a chap like that George Uplift to look
down on anybody! 'Gad, I've a good mind to bring in a Bill for the
Abolition of the Squirearchy.'

Ultimately, Andrew somehow contrived to stick a hint or two about the
terrible dinner in Evan's quivering flesh. He did it as delicately as
possible, half begging pardon, and perspiring profusely. Evan grasped his
hand, and thanked him. Caroline's illness was now explained to him.

'I'll take Caroline with me to-morrow,' he said. 'Louisa wishes to
stay--there 's a pic-nic. Will you look to her, and bring her with you?'

'My dear Van,' replied Andrew, 'stop with Louisa? Now, in confidence,
it's as bad as a couple of wives; no disrespect to my excellent good
Harry at home; but Louisa--I don't know how it is--but Louisa, you lose
your head, you're in a whirl, you're an automaton, a teetotum! I haven't
a notion of what I've been doing or saying since I came here. My belief
is, I 've been lying right and left. I shall be found out to a certainty:
Oh! if she's made her mind up for the pic-nic, somebody must stop. I can
only tell you, Van, it's one perpetual vapour-bath to me. There 'll be
room for two in my trousers when I get back. I shall have to get the
tailor to take them in a full half.'

Here occurred an opening for one of those acrid pleasantries which
console us when there is horrid warfare within.

'You must give me the work,' said Evan, partly pleased with his hated
self for being able to jest on the subject, as a piece of preliminary
self-conquest.

'Aha!' went Andrew, as if the joke were too good to be dwelt on; 'Hem';
and by way of diverting from it cleverly and naturally, he remarked that
the weather was fine. This made Evan allude to his letter written from
Lymport, upon which Andrew said: 'tush! pish! humbug! nonsense! won't
hear a word. Don't know anything about it. Van, you're going to be a
brewer. I say you are. You're afraid you can't? I tell you, sir, I've got
a bet on it. You're not going to make me lose, are you--eh? I have, and a
stiff bet, too. You must and shall, so there's an end. Only we can't make
arrangements just yet, my boy. Old Tom--very good old fellow--but, you
know--must get old Tom out of the way, first. Now go and dress for
dinner. And Lord preserve us from the Great Mel to-day!' Andrew mumbled
as he turned away.

Evan could not reach his chamber without being waylaid by the Countess.
Had he remembered the sister who sacrificed so much for him? 'There,
there!' cried Evan, and her hand closed on the delicious golden whispers
of bank-notes. And, 'Oh, generous Andrew! dear good Evan!' were the
exclamations of the gratified lady.

There remained nearly another hundred. Evan laid out the notes, and eyed
them while dressing. They seemed to say to him, 'We have you now.' He was
clutched by a beneficent or a most malignant magician. The former seemed
due to him, considering the cloud on his fortunes. This enigma might
mean, that by submitting to a temporary humiliation, for a trial of
him--in fact, by his acknowledgement of the fact, loathed though it
was,--he won a secret overlooker's esteem, gained a powerful ally. Here
was the proof, he held the proof. He had read Arabian Tales and could
believe in marvels; especially could he believe in the friendliness of a
magical thing that astounded without hurting him.

He, sat down in his room at night and wrote a fairly manful letter to
Rose; and it is to be said of the wretch he then saw himself, that he
pardoned her for turning from so vile a pretender. He heard a step in the
passage. It was Polly Wheedle. Polly had put her young mistress to bed,
and was retiring to her own slumbers. He made her take the letter and
promise to deliver it immediately. Would not to-morrow morning do, she
asked, as Miss Rose was very sleepy. He seemed to hesitate--he was
picturing how Rose looked when very sleepy. Why should he surrender this
darling? And subtler question--why should he make her unhappy? Why
disturb her at all in her sweet sleep?

'Well,' said Evan. 'To-morrow will do.--No, take it to-night, for God's
sake!' he cried, as one who bursts the spell of an opiate. 'Go at once.'
The temptation had almost overcome him.

Polly thought his proceedings queer. And what could the letter contain? A
declaration, of course. She walked slowly along the passage, meditating
on love, and remotely on its slave, Mr. Nicholas Frim. Nicholas had never
written her a letter; but she was determined that he should, some day.
She wondered what love-letters were like? Like valentines without the
Cupids. Practical valentines, one might say. Not vapoury and wild, but
hot and to the point. Delightful things! No harm in peeping at a
love-letter, if you do it with the eye of a friend.

Polly spelt just a word when a door opened at her elbow. She dropped her
candle and curtsied to the Countess's voice. The Countess desired her to
enter, and all in a tremble Polly crept in. Her air of guilt made the
Countess thrill. She had merely called her in to extract daily gossip.
The corner of the letter sticking up under Polly's neck attracted her
strangely, and beginning with the familiar, 'Well, child,' she talked of
things interesting to Polly, and then exhibited the pic-nic dress. It was
a lovely half-mourning; airy sorrows, gauzy griefs, you might imagine to
constitute the wearer. White delicately striped, exquisitely trimmed, and
of a stuff to make the feminine mouth water!

Could Polly refuse to try it on, when the flattering proposal met her
ears? Blushing, shame-faced, adoring the lady who made her look adorable,
Polly tried it on, and the Countess complimented her, and made a doll of
her, and turned her this way and that way, and intoxicated her.

'A rich husband, Polly, child! and you are a lady ready made.'

Infamous poison to poor Polly; but as the thunder destroys small insects,
exalted schemers are to be excused for riding down their few thousands.
Moreover, the Countess really looked upon domestics as being only
half-souls.

Dressed in her own attire again, Polly felt in her pockets, and at her
bosom, and sang out: 'Oh, my--Oh, where! Oh!'

The letter was lost. The letter could not be found. The Countess grew
extremely fatigued, and had to dismiss Polly, in spite of her eager
petitions to be allowed to search under the carpets and inside the bed.

In the morning came Evan's great trial. There stood Rose. She turned to
him, and her eyes were happy and unclouded.

'You are not changed?' he said.

'Changed? what could change me?'

The God of true hearts bless her! He could hardly believe it.

'You are the Rose I knew yesterday?'

'Yes, Evan. But you--you look as if you had not slept.'

'You will not leave me this morning, before I go, Rose? Oh, my darling!
this that you do for me is the work of an angel-nothing less! I have been
a coward. And my beloved! to feel vile is agony to me--it makes me feel
unworthy of the hand I press. Now all is clear between us. I go: I am
forgiven.'

Rose repeated his last words, and then added hurriedly:

'All is clear between us? Shall I speak to Mama this morning? Dear Evan!
it will be right that I should.'

For the moment he could not understand why, but supposing a scrupulous
honesty in her, said: 'Yes, tell Lady Jocelyn all.'

'And then, Evan, you will never need to go.'

They separated. The deep-toned sentence sang in Evan's heart. Rose and
her mother were of one stamp. And Rose might speak for her mother. To
take the hands of such a pair and be lifted out of the slough, he thought
no shame: and all through the hours of the morning the image of two
angels stooping to touch a leper, pressed on his brain like a reality,
and went divinely through his blood.

Toward mid-day Rose beckoned to him, and led him out across the lawn into
the park, and along the borders of the stream.

'Evan,' she said, 'shall I really speak to Mama?'

'You have not yet?' he answered.

'No. I have been with Juliana and with Drummond. Look at this, Evan.' She
showed a small black speck in the palm of her hand, which turned out, on
your viewing it closely, to be a brand of the letter L. 'Mama did that
when I was a little girl, because I told lies. I never could distinguish
between truth and falsehood; and Mama set that mark on me, and I have
never told a lie since. She forgives anything but that. She will be our
friend; she will never forsake us, Evan, if we do not deceive her. Oh,
Evan! it never is of any use. But deceive her, and she cannot forgive
you. It is not in her nature.'

Evan paused before he replied: 'You have only to tell her what I have
told you. You know everything.'

Rose gave him a flying look of pain: 'Everything, Evan? What do I know?'

'Ah, Rose! do you compel me to repeat it?'

Bewildered, Rose thought: 'Have I slept and forgotten it?'

He saw the persistent grieved interrogation of her eyebrows.

'Well!' she sighed resignedly: 'I am yours; you know that, Evan.'

But he was a lover, and quarrelled with her sigh.

'It may well make you sad now, Rose.'

'Sad? no, that does not make me sad. No; but my hands are tied. I cannot
defend you or justify myself; and induce Mama to stand by us. Oh, Evan!
you love me! why can you not open your heart to me entirely, and trust
me?'

'More?' cried Evan: 'Can I trust you more?' He spoke of the letter: Rose
caught his hand.

'I never had it, Evan. You wrote it last night? and all was written in
it? I never saw it--but I know all.'

Their eyes fronted. The gates of Rose's were wide open, and he saw no
hurtful beasts or lurking snakes in the happy garden within, but Love,
like a fixed star.

'Then you know why I must leave, Rose.'

'Leave? Leave me? On the contrary, you must stay by me, and support me.
Why, Evan, we have to fight a battle.'

Much as he worshipped her, this intrepid directness of soul startled
him-almost humbled him. And her eyes shone with a firm cheerful light, as
she exclaimed: 'It makes me so happy to think you were the first to
mention this. You meant to be, and that's the same thing. I heard it this
morning: you wrote it last night. It's you I love, Evan. Your birth, and
what you were obliged to do--that's nothing. Of course I'm sorry for it,
dear. But I'm more sorry for the pain I must have sometimes put you to.
It happened through my mother's father being a merchant; and that side of
the family the men and women are quite sordid and unendurable; and that's
how it came that I spoke of disliking tradesmen. I little thought I
should ever love one sprung from that class.'

She turned to him tenderly.

'And in spite of what my birth is, you love me, Rose?'

'There's no spite in it, Evan. I do.'

Hard for him, while his heart was melting to caress her, the thought that
he had snared this bird of heaven in a net! Rose gave him no time for
reflection, or the moony imagining of their raptures lovers love to dwell
upon.

'You gave the letter to Polly, of course?'

'Yes.'

'Oh, naughty Polly! I must punish you,' Rose apostrophized her. 'You
might have divided us for ever. Well, we shall have to fight a battle,
you understand that. Will you stand by me?'

Would he not risk his soul for her?

'Very well, Evan. Then--but don't be sensitive. Oh, how sensitive you
are! I see it all now. This is what we shall have to do. We shall have to
speak to Mama to-day--this morning. Drummond has told me he is going to
speak to her, and we must be first. That 's decided. I begged a couple of
hours. You must not be offended with Drummond. He does it out of pure
affection for us, and I can see he's right--or, at least, not quite
wrong. He ought, I think, to know that he cannot change me. Very well, we
shall win Mama by what we do. My mother has ten times my wits, and yet I
manage her like a feather. I have only to be honest and straightforward.
Then Mama will gain over Papa. Papa, of course, won't like it. He's quiet
and easy, but he likes blood, but he also likes peace better; and I think
he loves Rosey--as well as somebody--almost? Look, dear, there is our
seat where we--where you would rob me of my handkerchief. I can't talk
any more.'

Rose had suddenly fallen from her prattle, soft and short-breathed.

'Then, dear,' she went on, 'we shall have to fight the family. Aunt
Shorne will be terrible. My poor uncles! I pity them. But they will come
round. They always have thought what I did was right, and why should they
change their minds now? I shall tell them that at their time of life a
change of any kind is very unwise and bad for them. Then there is
Grandmama Bonner. She can hurt us really, if she pleases. Oh, my dear
Evan! if you had only been a curate! Why isn't your name Parsley? Then my
Grandmama the Countess of Elburne. Well, we have a Countess on our side,
haven't we? And that reminds me, Evan, if we're to be happy and succeed,
you must promise one thing: you will not tell the Countess, your sister.
Don't confide this to her. Will you promise?'

Evan assured her he was not in the habit of pouring secrets into any
bosom, the Countess's as little as another's.

'Very well, then, Evan, it's unpleasant while it lasts, but we shall gain
the day. Uncle Melville will give you an appointment, and then?'

'Yes, Rose,' he said, 'I will do this, though I don't think you can know
what I shall have to endure-not in confessing what I am, but in feeling
that I have brought you to my level.'

'Does it not raise me?' she cried.

He shook his head.

'But in reality, Evan--apart from mere appearances--in reality it does!
it does!'

'Men will not think so, Rose, nor can I. Oh, my Rose! how different you
make me. Up to this hour I have been so weak! torn two ways! You give me
double strength.'

Then these lovers talked of distant days--compared their feelings on this
and that occasion with mutual wonder and delight. Then the old hours
lived anew. And--did you really think that, Evan? And--Oh, Rose! was that
your dream? And the meaning of that by-gone look: was it what they
fancied? And such and such a tone of voice; would it bear the wished
interpretation? Thus does Love avenge himself on the unsatisfactory Past
and call out its essence.

Could Evan do less than adore her? She knew all, and she loved him! Since
he was too shy to allude more than once to his letter, it was natural
that he should not ask her how she came to know, and how much the 'all'
that she knew comprised. In his letter he had told all; the condition of
his parents, and his own. Honestly, now, what with his dazzled state of
mind, his deep inward happiness, and love's endless delusions, he
abstained from touching the subject further. Honestly, therefore, as far
as a lover can be honest.

So they toyed, and then Rose, setting her fingers loose, whispered: 'Are
you ready?' And Evan nodded; and Rose, to make him think light of the
matter in hand, laughed: 'Pluck not quite up yet?'

'Quite, my Rose!' said Evan, and they walked to the house, not quite
knowing what they were going to do.

On the steps they met Drummond with Mrs. Evremonde. Little imagining how
heart and heart the two had grown, and that Evan would understand him,
Drummond called to Rose playfully: 'Time's up.'

'Is it?' Rose answered, and to Mrs. Evremonde

'Give Drummond a walk. Poor Drummond is going silly.'

Evan looked into his eyes calmly as he passed.

'Where are you going, Rose?' said Mrs. Evremonde.

'Going to give my maid Polly a whipping for losing a letter she ought to
have delivered to me last night,' said Rose, in a loud voice, looking at
Drummond. 'And then going to Mama. Pleasure first--duty after. Isn't that
the proverb, Drummond?'

She kissed her fingers rather scornfully to her old friend.



CHAPTER XXVI

MRS. MEL MAKES A BED FOR HERSELF AND FAMILY

The last person thought of by her children at this period was Mrs. Mel:
nor had she been thinking much of them till a letter from Mr. Goren
arrived one day, which caused her to pass them seriously in review.
Always an early bird, and with maxims of her own on the subject of rising
and getting the worm, she was standing in a small perch in the corner of
the shop, dictating accounts to Mrs. Fiske, who was copying hurriedly,
that she might earn sweet intervals for gossip, when Dandy limped up and
delivered the letter. Mrs. Fiske worked hard while her aunt was occupied
in reading it, for a great deal of fresh talk follows the advent of the
post, and may be reckoned on. Without looking up, however, she could tell
presently that the letter had been read through. Such being the case, and
no conversation coming of it, her curiosity was violent. Her aunt's face,
too, was an index of something extraordinary. That inflexible woman,
instead of alluding to the letter in any way, folded it up, and renewed
her dictation. It became a contest between them which should show her
human nature first. Mrs. Mel had to repress what she knew; Mrs. Fiske to
control the passion for intelligence. The close neighbourhood of one
anxious to receive, and one capable of giving, waxed too much for both.

'I think, Anne, you are stupid this morning,' said Mrs. Mel.

'Well, I am, aunt,' said Mrs. Fiske, pretending not to see which was the
first to unbend, 'I don't know what it is. The figures seem all dazzled
like. I shall really be glad when Evan comes to take his proper place.'

'Ah!' went Mrs. Mel, and Mrs. Fiske heard her muttering. Then she cried
out: 'Are Harriet and Caroline as great liars as Louisa?'

Mrs. Fiske grimaced. 'That would be difficult, would it not, aunt?'

'And I have been telling everybody that my son is in town learning his
business, when he's idling at a country house, and trying to play his
father over again! Upon my word, what with liars and fools, if you go to
sleep a minute you have a month's work on your back.'

'What is it, aunt?' Mrs. Fiske feebly inquired.

'A gentleman, I suppose! He wouldn't take an order if it was offered.
Upon my word, when tailors think of winning heiresses it's time we went
back to Adam and Eve.'

'Do you mean Evan, aunt?' interposed Mrs. Fiske, who probably did not see
the turns in her aunt's mind.

'There--read for yourself,' said Mrs. Mel, and left her with the letter.

Mrs. Fiske read that Mr. Goren had been astonished at Evan's
non-appearance, and at his total silence; which he did not consider
altogether gentlemanly behaviour, and certainly not such as his father
would have practised. Mr. Goren regretted his absence the more as he
would have found him useful in a remarkable invention he was about to
patent, being a peculiar red cross upon shirts--a fortune to the
patentee; but as Mr. Goren had no natural heirs of his body, he did not
care for that. What affected him painfully was the news of Evan's doings
at a noble house, Beckley Court, to wit, where, according to the report
of a rich young gentleman friend, Mr. Raikes (for whose custom Mr. Goren
was bound to thank Evan), the youth who should have been learning the
science of Tailoring, had actually passed himself off as a lord, or the
son of one, or something of the kind, and had got engaged to a wealthy
heiress, and would, no doubt, marry her if not found out. Where the
chances of detection were so numerous, Mr. Goren saw much to condemn in
the idea of such a marriage. But 'like father like son,' said Mr. Goren.
He thanked the Lord that an honest tradesman was not looked down upon in
this country; and, in fact, gave Mrs. Mel a few quiet digs to waken her
remorse in having missed the man that he was.

When Mrs. Fiske met her aunt again she returned her the letter, and
simply remarked: 'Louisa.'

Mrs. Mel nodded. She understood the implication.

The General who had schemed so successfully to gain Evan time at Beckley
Court in his own despite and against a hundred obstructions, had now
another enemy in the field, and one who, if she could not undo her work,
could punish her. By the afternoon coach, Mrs. Mel, accompanied by Dandy
her squire, was journeying to Fallow field, bent upon things. The
faithful squire was kept by her side rather as a security for others than
for, his particular services. Dandy's arms were crossed, and his
countenance was gloomy. He had been promised a holiday that afternoon to
give his mistress, Sally, Kilne's cook, an airing, and Dandy knew in his
soul that Sally, when she once made up her mind to an excursion, would
go, and would not go alone, and that her very force of will endangered
her constancy. He had begged humbly to be allowed to stay, but Mrs. Mel
could not trust him. She ought to have told him so, perhaps. Explanations
were not approved of by this well-intended despot, and however beneficial
her resolves might turn out for all parties, it was natural that in the
interim the children of her rule should revolt, and Dandy, picturing his
Sally flaunting on the arm of some accursed low marine, haply, kicked
against Mrs. Mel's sovereignty, though all that he did was to shoot out
his fist from time to time, and grunt through his set teeth: 'Iron!' to
express the character of her awful rule.

Mrs. Mel alighted at the Dolphin, the landlady of which was a Mrs.
Hawkshaw, a rival of Mrs. Sockley of the Green Dragon. She was welcomed
by Mrs. Hawkshaw with considerable respect. The great Mel had sometimes
slept at the Dolphin.

'Ah, that black!' she sighed, indicating Mrs. Mel's dress and the story
it told.

'I can't give you his room, my dear Mrs. Harrington, wishing I could! I'm
sorry to say it's occupied, for all I ought to be glad, I dare say, for
he's an old gentleman who does you a good turn, if you study him. But
there! I'd rather have had poor dear Mr. Harrington in my best bed than
old or young--Princes or nobodies, I would--he was that grand and
pleasant.'

Mrs. Mel had her tea in Mrs. Hawkshaw's parlour, and was entertained
about her husband up to the hour of supper, when a short step and a
querulous voice were heard in the passage, and an old gentleman appeared
before them.

'Who's to carry up my trunk, ma'am? No man here?'

Mrs. Hawkshaw bustled out and tried to lay her hand on a man. Failing to
find the growth spontaneous, she returned and begged the old gentleman to
wait a few moments and the trunk would be sent up.

'Parcel o' women!' was his reply. 'Regularly bedevilled. Gets worse and
worse. I 'll carry it up myself.'

With a wheezy effort he persuaded the trunk to stand on one end, and then
looked at it. The exertion made him hot, which may account for the rage
he burst into when Mrs. Hawkshaw began flutteringly to apologize.

'You're sure, ma'am, sure--what are you sure of? I'll tell you what I am
sure of--eh? This keeping clear of men's a damned pretence. You don't
impose upon me. Don't believe in your pothouse nunneries--not a bit. Just
like you! when you are virtuous it's deuced inconvenient. Let one of the
maids try? No. Don't believe in 'em.'

Having thus relieved his spleen the old gentleman addressed himself to
further efforts and waxed hotter. He managed to tilt the trunk over, and
thus gained a length, and by this method of progression arrived at the
foot of the stairs, where he halted, and wiped his face, blowing lustily.

Mrs. Mel had been watching him with calm scorn all the while. She saw him
attempt most ridiculously to impel the trunk upwards by a similar
process, and thought it time to interfere.

'Don't you see you must either take it on your shoulders, or have a
help?'

The old gentleman sprang up from his peculiarly tight posture to blaze
round at her. He had the words well-peppered on his mouth, but somehow he
stopped, and was subsequently content to growl: 'Where 's the help in a
parcel of petticoats?'

Mrs. Mel did not consider it necessary to give him an answer. She went up
two or three steps, and took hold of one handle of the trunk, saying:
'There; I think it can be managed this way,' and she pointed for him to
seize the other end with his hand.

He was now in that unpleasant state of prickly heat when testy old
gentlemen could commit slaughter with ecstasy. Had it been the maid
holding a candle who had dared to advise, he would have overturned her
undoubtedly, and established a fresh instance of the impertinence, the
uselessness and weakness of women. Mrs. Mel topped him by half a head,
and in addition stood three steps above him; towering like a giantess.
The extreme gravity of her large face dispersed all idea of an assault.
The old gentleman showed signs of being horribly injured: nevertheless,
he put his hand to the trunk; it was lifted, and the procession ascended
the stairs in silence.

The landlady waited for Mrs. Mel to return, and then said:

'Really, Mrs. Harrington, you are clever. That lifting that trunk's as
good as a lock and bolt on him. You've as good as made him a Dolphin--him
that was one o' the oldest Green Dragons in Fallifield. My thanks to you
most sincere.'

Mrs. Mel sent out to hear where Dandy had got to after which, she said:
'Who is the man?'

'I told you, Mrs. Harrington--the oldest Green Dragon. His name, you
mean? Do you know, if I was to breathe it out, I believe he'd jump out of
the window. He 'd be off, that you might swear to. Oh, such a whimsical!
not ill-meaning--quite the contrary. Study his whims, and you'll never
want. There's Mrs. Sockley--she 's took ill. He won't go there--that 's
how I've caught him, my dear--but he pays her medicine, and she looks to
him the same. He hate a sick house: but he pity a sick woman. Now, if I
can only please him, I can always look on him as half a Dolphin, to say
the least; and perhaps to-morrow I'll tell you who he is, and what, but
not to-night; for there's his supper to get over, and that, they say, can
be as bad as the busting of one of his own vats. Awful!'

'What does he eat?' said Mrs. Mel.

'A pair o' chops. That seem simple, now, don't it? And yet they chops
make my heart go pitty-pat.'

'The commonest things are the worst done,' said Mrs. Mel.

'It ain't that; but they must be done his particular way, do you see,
Mrs. Harrington. Laid close on the fire, he say, so as to keep in the
juice. But he ups and bounces in a minute at a speck o' black. So, one
thing or the other, there you are: no blacks, no juices, I say.'

'Toast the chops,' said Mrs. Mel.

The landlady of the Dolphin accepted this new idea with much
enlightenment, but ruefully declared that she was afraid to go against
his precise instructions. Mrs. Mel then folded her hands, and sat in
quiet reserve. She was one of those numerous women who always know
themselves to be right. She was also one of those very few whom
Providence favours by confounding dissentients. She was positive the
chops would be ill-cooked: but what could she do? She was not in command
here; so she waited serenely for the certain disasters to enthrone her.
Not that the matter of the chops occupied her mind particularly: nor
could she dream that the pair in question were destined to form a part of
her history, and divert the channel of her fortunes. Her thoughts were
about her own immediate work; and when the landlady rushed in with the
chops under a cover, and said: 'Look at 'em, dear Mrs. Harrington!' she
had forgotten that she was again to be proved right by the turn of
events.

'Oh, the chops!' she responded. 'Send them while they are hot.'

'Send 'em! Why you don't think I'd have risked their cooling? I have sent
'em; and what do he do but send 'em travelling back, and here they be;
and what objections his is I might study till I was blind, and I
shouldn't see 'em.'

'No; I suppose not,' said Mrs. Mel. 'He won't eat 'em?'

'Won't eat anything: but his bed-room candle immediately. And whether his
sheets are aired. And Mary says he sniffed at the chops; and that gal
really did expect he 'd fling them at her. I told you what he was. Oh,
dear!'

The bell was heard ringing in the midst of the landlady's lamentations.

'Go to him yourself,' said Mrs. Mel. 'No Christian man should go to sleep
without his supper.'

'Ah! but he ain't a common Christian,' returned Mrs. Hawkshaw.

The old gentleman was in a hurry to know when his bed-room candle was
coming up, or whether they intended to give him one at all that night; if
not, let them say so, as he liked plain-speaking. The moment Mrs.
Hawkshaw touched upon the chops, he stopped her mouth.

'Go about your business, ma'am. You can't cook 'em. I never expected you
could: I was a fool to try you. It requires at least ten years'
instruction before a man can get a woman to cook his chop as he likes
it.'

'But what was your complaint, sir?' said Mrs. Hawkshaw, imploringly.

'That's right!' and he rubbed his hands, and brightened his eyes
savagely. 'That's the way. Opportunity for gossip! Thing's well
done--down it goes: you know that. You can't have a word over it--eh?
Thing's done fit to toss on a dungheap, aha! Then there's a cackle! My
belief is, you do it on purpose. Can't be such rank idiots. You do it on
purpose. All done for gossip!'

'Oh, sir, no!' The landlady half curtsied.

'Oh, ma'am, yes!' The old gentleman bobbed his head.

'No, indeed, sir!' The landlady shook hers.

'Damn it, ma'am, I swear you do.'

Symptoms of wrath here accompanied the declaration; and, with a sigh and
a very bitter feeling, Mrs. Hawkshaw allowed him to have the last word.
Apparently this--which I must beg to call the lady's morsel--comforted
his irascible system somewhat; for he remained in a state of composure
eight minutes by the clock. And mark how little things hang together.
Another word from the landlady, precipitating a retort from him, and a
gesture or muttering from her; and from him a snapping outburst, and from
her a sign that she held out still; in fact, had she chosen to battle for
that last word, as in other cases she might have done, then would he have
exploded, gone to bed in the dark, and insisted upon sleeping: the
consequence of which would have been to change this history. Now while
Mrs. Hawkshaw was upstairs, Mrs. Mel called the servant, who took her to
the kitchen, where she saw a prime loin of mutton; off which she cut two
chops with a cunning hand: and these she toasted at a gradual distance,
putting a plate beneath them, and a tin behind, and hanging the chops so
that they would turn without having to be pierced. The bell rang twice
before she could say the chops were ready. The first time, the maid had
to tell the old gentleman she was taking up his water. Her next excuse
was, that she had dropped her candle. The chops ready--who was to take
them?

'Really, Mrs. Harrington, you are so clever, you ought, if I might be so
bold as say so; you ought to end it yourself,' said the landlady. 'I
can't ask him to eat them: he was all but on the busting point when I
left him.'

'And that there candle did for him quite,' said Mary, the maid.

'I'm afraid it's chops cooked for nothing,' added the landlady.

Mrs. Mel saw them endangered. The maid held back: the landlady feared.

'We can but try,' she said.

'Oh! I wish, mum, you'd face him, 'stead o' me,' said Mary; 'I do dread
that old bear's den.'

'Here, I will go,' said Mrs. Mel. 'Has he got his ale? Better draw it
fresh, if he drinks any.'

And upstairs she marched, the landlady remaining below to listen for the
commencement of the disturbance. An utterance of something certainly
followed Mrs. Mel's entrance into the old bear's den. Then silence. Then
what might have been question and answer. Then--was Mrs. Mel assaulted?
and which was knocked down? It really was a chair being moved to the
table. The door opened.

'Yes, ma'am; do what you like,' the landlady heard. Mrs. Mel descended,
saying: 'Send him up some fresh ale.'

'And you have made him sit down obedient to those chops?' cried the
landlady. 'Well might poor dear Mr. Harrington--pleasant man as he
was!--say, as he used to say, "There's lovely women in the world, Mrs.
Hawkshaw," he'd say, "and there's Duchesses," he'd say, "and there's they
that can sing, and can dance, and some," he says, "that can cook." But
he'd look sly as he'd stoop his head and shake it. "Roll 'em into one,"
he says, "and not any of your grand ladies can match my wife at home."

And, indeed, Mrs. Harrington, he told me he thought so many a time in the
great company he frequented.'

Perfect peace reigning above, Mrs. Hawkshaw and Mrs. Mel sat down to
supper below; and Mrs. Hawkshaw talked much of the great one gone. His
relict did not care to converse about the dead, save in their practical
aspect as ghosts; but she listened, and that passed the time. By-and-by,
the old gentleman rang, and sent a civil message to know if the landlady
had ship's rum in the house.

'Dear! here's another trouble,' cried the poor woman. 'No--none!'

'Say, yes,' said Mrs. Mel, and called Dandy, and charged him to run down
the street to the square, and ask for the house of Mr. Coxwell, the
maltster, and beg of him, in her name, a bottle of his ship's rum.

'And don't you tumble down and break the bottle, Dandy. Accidents with
spirit-bottles are not excused.'

Dandy went on the errand, after an energetic grunt.

In due time he returned with the bottle, whole and sound, and Mr.
Coxwell's compliments. Mrs. Mel examined the cork to see that no process
of suction had been attempted, and then said:

'Carry it up to him, Dandy. Let him see there's a man in the house
besides himself.'

'Why, my dear,' the landlady turned to her, 'it seems natural to you to
be mistress where you go. I don't at all mind, for ain't it my profit?
But you do take us off our legs.'

Then the landlady, warmed by gratitude, told her that the old gentleman
was the great London brewer, who brewed there with his brother, and
brewed for himself five miles out of Fallow field, half of which and a
good part of the neighbourhood he owned, and his name was Mr. Tom
Cogglesby.

'Oh!' said Mrs. Mel. 'And his brother is Mr. Andrew.'

'That 's it,' said the landlady. 'And because he took it into his head to
go and to choose for himself, and be married, no getting his brother, Mr.
Tom, to speak to him. Why not, indeed? If there's to be no marrying, the
sooner we lay down and give up, the better, I think. But that 's his way.
He do hate us women, Mrs. Harrington. I have heard he was crossed. Some
say it was the lady of Beckley Court, who was a Beauty, when he was only
a poor cobbler's son.'

Mrs. Mel breathed nothing of her relationship to Mr. Tom, but continued
from time to time to express solicitude about Dandy. They heard the door
open, and old Tom laughing in a capital good temper, and then Dandy came
down, evidently full of ship's rum.

'He's pumped me!' said Dandy, nodding heavily at his mistress.

Mrs. Mel took him up to his bed-room, and locked the door. On her way
back she passed old Tom's chamber, and his chuckles were audible to her.

'They finished the rum,' said Mrs. Hawkshaw.

'I shall rate him for that to-morrow,' said Mrs. Mel. 'Giving that poor
beast liquor!'

'Rate Mr. Tom! Oh! Mrs. Harrington! Why, he'll snap your head off for a
word.'

Mrs. Mel replied that her head would require a great deal of snapping to
come off.

During this conversation they had both heard a singular intermittent
noise above. Mrs. Hawkshaw was the first to ask:

'What can it be? More trouble with him? He's in his bed-room now.'

'Mad with drink, like Dandy, perhaps,' said Mrs. Mel.

'Hark!' cried the landlady. 'Oh!'

It seemed that Old Tom was bouncing about in an extraordinary manner. Now
came a pause, as if he had sworn to take his rest: now the room shook and
the windows rattled.

'One 'd think, really, his bed was a frying-pan, and him a live fish in
it,' said the landlady. 'Oh--there, again! My goodness! have he got a
flea?'

The thought was alarming. Mrs. Mel joined in:

'Or a ------'

'Don't! don't, my dear!' she was cut short. 'Oh! one o' them little
things 'd be ruin to me. To think o' that! Hark at him! It must be. And
what's to do? I 've sent the maids to bed. We haven't a man. If I was to
go and knock at his door, and ask?'

'Better try and get him to be quiet somehow.'

'Ah! I dare say I shall make him fire out fifty times worse.'

Mrs. Hawkshaw stipulated that Mrs. Mel should stand by her, and the two
women went up-stairs and stood at Old Tom's door. There they could hear
him fuming and muttering imprecations, and anon there was an interval of
silence, and then the room was shaken, and the cursings recommenced.

'It must be a fight he 's having with a flea,' said the landlady. 'Oh!
pray heaven, it is a flea. For a flea, my dear-gentlemen may bring that
theirselves; but a b-----, that's a stationary, and born of a bed. Don't
you hear? The other thing 'd give him a minute's rest; but a flea's
hop-hop-off and on. And he sound like an old gentleman worried by a flea.
What are you doing?'

Mrs. Mel had knocked at the door. The landlady waited breathlessly for
the result. It appeared to have quieted Old Tom.

'What's the matter?' said Mrs. Mel, severely.

The landlady implored her to speak him fair, and reflect on the desperate
things he might attempt.

'What's the matter? Can anything be done for you?'

Mr. Tom Cogglesby's reply comprised an insinuation so infamous regarding
women when they have a solitary man in their power, that it cannot be
placed on record.

'Is anything the matter with your bed?'

'Anything? Yes; anything is the matter, ma'am. Hope twenty live geese
inside it's enough-eh? Bed, do you call it? It's the rack! It's
damnation! Bed? Ha!'

After delivering this, he was heard stamping up and down the room.

'My very best bed!' whispered the landlady. 'Would it please you, sir, to
change--I can give you another?'

'I'm not a man of experiments, ma'am-'specially in strange houses.'

'So very, very sorry!'

'What the deuce!' Old Tom came close to the door. 'You whimpering! You
put a man in a beast of a bed--you drive him half mad--and then begin to
blubber! Go away.'

'I am so sorry, sir!'

'If you don't go away, ma'am, I shall think your intentions are
improper.'

'Oh, my goodness!' cried poor Mrs. Hawkshaw. 'What can one do with him?'
Mrs. Mel put Mrs. Hawkshaw behind her.

'Are you dressed?' she called out.

In this way Mrs. Mel tackled Old Tom. He was told that should he consent
to cover himself decently, she would come into his room and make his bed
comfortable. And in a voice that dispersed armies of innuendoes, she bade
him take his choice, either to rest quiet or do her bidding. Had Old Tom
found his master at last, and in one of the hated sex? Breathlessly Mrs.
Hawkshaw waited his answer, and she was an astonished woman when it came.

'Very well, ma'am. Wait a couple of minutes. Do as you like.'

On their admission to the interior of the chamber, Old Tom was exhibited
in his daily garb, sufficiently subdued to be civil and explain the cause
of his discomfort. Lumps in his bed: he was bruised by them. He supposed
he couldn't ask women to judge for themselves--they'd be shrieking--but
he could assure them he was blue all down his back. Mrs. Mel and Mrs.
Hawkshaw turned the bed about, and punched it, and rolled it.

'Ha!' went Old Tom, 'what's the good of that? That's just how I found it.
Moment I got into bed geese began to put up their backs.'

Mrs. Mel seldom indulged in a joke, and then only when it had a
proverbial cast. On the present occasion, the truth struck her forcibly,
and she said:

'One fool makes many, and so, no doubt, does one goose.'

Accompanied by a smile the words would have seemed impudent; but spoken
as a plain fact, and with a grave face, it set Old Tom blinking like a
small boy ten minutes after the whip.

'Now,' she pursued, speaking to him as to an old child, 'look here. This
is how you manage. Knead down in the middle of the bed. Then jump into
the hollow. Lie there, and you needn't wake till morning.'

Old Tom came to the side of the bed. He had prepared himself for a
wretched night, an uproar, and eternal complaints against the house, its
inhabitants, and its foundations; but a woman stood there who as much as
told him that digging his fist into the flock and jumping into the
hole--into that hole under his, eyes--was all that was wanted! that he
had been making a noise for nothing, and because he had not the wit to
hit on a simple contrivance! Then, too, his jest about the geese--this
woman had put a stop to that! He inspected the hollow cynically. A man
might instruct him on a point or two: Old Tom was not going to admit that
a woman could.

'Oh, very well; thank you, ma'am; that's your idea. I'll try it. Good
night.'

'Good night,' returned Mrs. Mel. 'Don't forget to jump into the middle.'

'Head foremost, ma'am?'

'As you weigh,' said Mrs. Mel, and Old Tom trumped his lips, silenced if
not beaten. Beaten, one might almost say, for nothing more was heard of
him that night.

He presented himself to Mrs. Mel after breakfast next morning.

'Slept well, ma'am.'

'Oh! then you did as I directed you,' said Mrs. Mel.

'Those chops, too, very good. I got through 'em.'

'Eating, like scratching, only wants a beginning,' said Mrs. Mel.

'Ha! you've got your word, then, as well as everybody else. Where's your
Dandy this morning, ma'am?'

'Locked up. You ought to be ashamed to give that poor beast liquor. He
won't get fresh air to-day.'

'Ha! May I ask you where you're going to-day, ma'am?'

'I am going to Beckley.'

'So am I, ma'am. What d' ye say, if we join company. Care for
insinuations?'

'I want a conveyance of some sort,' returned Mrs. Mel.

'Object to a donkey, ma'am?'

'Not if he's strong and will go.'

'Good,' said Old Tom; and while he spoke a donkey-cart stopped in front
of the Dolphin, and a well-dressed man touched his hat.

'Get out of that damned bad habit, will you?' growled Old Tom. What do
you mean by wearing out the brim o' your hat in that way? Help this woman
in.'

Mrs. Mel helped herself to a part of the seat.

'We are too much for the donkey,' she said.

'Ha, that's right. What I have, ma'am, is good. I can't pretend to
horses, but my donkey's the best. Are you going to cry about him?'

'No. When he's tired I shall either walk or harness you,' said Mrs. Mel.

This was spoken half-way down the High Street of Fallow field. Old Tom
looked full in her face, and bawled out:

'Deuce take it. Are you a woman?'

'I have borne three girls and one boy,' said Mrs. Mel.

'What sort of a husband?'

'He is dead.'

'Ha! that's an opening, but 'tain't an answer. I'm off to Beckley on a
marriage business. I 'm the son of a cobbler, so I go in a donkey-cart.
No damned pretences for me. I'm going to marry off a young tailor to a
gal he's been playing the lord to. If she cares for him she'll take him:
if not, they're all the luckier, both of 'em.'

'What's the tailor's name?' said Mrs. Mel.

'You are a woman,' returned Old Tom. 'Now, come, ma'am, don't you feel
ashamed of being in a donkeycart?'

'I 'm ashamed of men, sometimes,' said Mrs. Mel; 'never of animals.'

''Shamed o' me, perhaps.'

'I don't know you.'

'Ha! well! I'm a man with no pretences. Do you like 'em? How have you
brought up your three girls and one boy? No pretences--eh?'

Mrs. Mel did not answer, and Old Tom jogged the reins and chuckled, and
asked his donkey if he wanted to be a racer.

'Should you take me for a gentleman, ma'am?'

'I dare say you are, sir, at heart. Not from your manner of speech.'

'I mean appearances, ma'am.'

'I judge by the disposition.'

'You do, ma'am? Then, deuce take it, if you are a woman, you 're -----'
Old Tom had no time to conclude.

A great noise of wheels, and a horn blown, caused them both to turn their
heads, and they beheld a curricle descending upon them vehemently, and a
fashionably attired young gentleman straining with all his might at the
reins. The next instant they were rolling on the bank. About twenty yards
ahead the curricle was halted and turned about to see the extent of the
mischief done.

'Pardon, a thousand times, my worthy couple,' cried the sonorous Mr.
Raikes. 'What we have seen we swear not to divulge. Franco and Fred--your
pledge!'

'We swear!' exclaimed this couple.

But suddenly the cheeks of Mr. John Raikes flushed. He alighted from the
box, and rushing up to Old Tom, was shouting, 'My bene--'

'Do you want my toe on your plate?' Old Tom stopped him with.

The mysterious words completely changed the aspect of Mr. John Raikes. He
bowed obsequiously and made his friend Franco step down and assist in the
task of reestablishing the donkey, who fortunately had received no
damage.



CHAPTER XXVII

EXHIBITS ROSE'S GENERALSHIP; EVAN'S PERFORMANCE ON THE SECOND FIDDLE; AND
THE WRETCHEDNESS OF THE COUNTESS

We left Rose and Evan on their way to Lady Jocelyn. At the library-door
Rose turned to him, and with her chin archly lifted sideways, said:

'I know what you feel; you feel foolish.'

Now the sense of honour, and of the necessity of acting the part it
imposes on him, may be very strong in a young man; but certainly, as a
rule, the sense of ridicule is more poignant, and Evan was suffering
horrid pangs. We none of us like to play second fiddle. To play second
fiddle to a young woman is an abomination to us all. But to have to
perform upon that instrument to the darling of our hearts--would we not
rather die? nay, almost rather end the duet precipitately and with
violence. Evan, when he passed Drummond into the house, and quietly
returned his gaze, endured the first shock of this strange feeling. There
could be no doubt that he was playing second fiddle to Rose. And what was
he about to do? Oh, horror! to stand like a criminal, and say, or worse,
have said for him, things to tip the ears with fire! To tell the young
lady's mother that he had won her daughter's love, and meant--what did he
mean? He knew not. Alas! he was second fiddle; he could only mean what
she meant. Evan loved Rose deeply and completely, but noble manhood was
strong in him. You may sneer at us, if you please, ladies. We have been
educated in a theory, that when you lead off with the bow, the order of
Nature is reversed, and it is no wonder therefore, that, having stript us
of one attribute, our fine feathers moult, and the majestic cock-like
march which distinguishes us degenerates. You unsex us, if I may dare to
say so. Ceasing to be men, what are we? If we are to please you rightly,
always allow us to play First.

Poor Evan did feel foolish. Whether Rose saw it in his walk, or had a
loving feminine intuition of it, and was aware of the golden rule I have
just laid down, we need not inquire. She hit the fact, and he could only
stammer, and bid her open the door.

'No,' she said, after a slight hesitation, 'it will be better that I
should speak to Mama alone, I see. Walk out on the lawn, dear, and wait
for me. And if you meet Drummond, don't be angry with him. Drummond is
very fond of me, and of course I shall teach him to be fond of you. He
only thinks . . . what is not true, because he does not know you. I do
thoroughly, and there, you see, I give you my hand.'

Evan drew the dear hand humbly to his lips. Rose then nodded meaningly,
and let her eyes dwell on him, and went in to her mother to open the
battle.

Could it be that a flame had sprung up in those grey eyes latterly? Once
they were like morning before sunrise. How soft and' warm and tenderly
transparent they could now be! Assuredly she loved him. And he, beloved
by the noblest girl ever fashioned, why should he hang his head, and
shrink at the thought of human faces, like a wretch doomed to the
pillory? He visioned her last glance, and lightning emotions of pride and
happiness flashed through his veins. The generous, brave heart! Yes, with
her hand in his, he could stand at bay--meet any fate. Evan accepted Rose
because he believed in her love, and judged it by the strength of his
own; her sacrifice of her position he accepted, because in his soul he
knew he should have done no less. He mounted to the level of her
nobleness, and losing nothing of the beauty of what she did, it was not
so strange to him.

Still there was the baleful reflection that he was second fiddle to his
beloved. No harmony came of it in his mind. How could he take an
initiative? He walked forth on the lawn, where a group had gathered under
the shade of a maple, consisting of Drummond Forth, Mrs. Evremonde, Mrs.
Shorne, Mr. George Uplift, Seymour Jocelyn, and Ferdinand Laxley. A
little apart Juliana Bonner was walking with Miss Carrington. Juliana,
when she saw him, left her companion, and passing him swiftly, said,
'Follow me presently into the conservatory.'

Evan strolled near the group, and bowed to Mrs. Shorne, whom he had not
seen that morning.

The lady's acknowledgement of his salute was constrained, and but a shade
on the side of recognition. They were silent till he was out of earshot.
He noticed that his second approach produced the same effect. In the
conservatory Juliana was awaiting him.

'It is not to give you roses I called you here, Mr. Harrington,' she
said.

'Not if I beg one?' he responded.

'Ah! but you do not want them from . . . It depends on the person.'

'Pluck this,' said Evan, pointing to a white rose.

She put her fingers to the stem.

What folly!' she cried, and turned from it.

'Are you afraid that I shall compromise you?' asked Evan.

'You care for me too little for that.'

'My dear Miss Bonner!'

'How long did you know Rose before you called her by her Christian name?'

Evan really could not remember, and was beginning to wonder what he had
been called there for. The little lady had feverish eyes and fingers, and
seemed to be burning to speak, but afraid.

'I thought you had gone,' she dropped her voice, 'without wishing me
good-bye.'

'I certainly should not do that, Miss Bonner.'

'Formal!' she exclaimed, half to herself. 'Miss Bonner thanks you. Do you
think I wish you to stay? No friend of yours would wish it. You do not
know the selfishness--brutal!--of these people of birth, as they call
it.'

'I have met with nothing but kindness here,' said Evan.

'Then go while you can feel that,' she answered; 'for it cannot last
another hour. Here is the rose.' She broke it from the stem and handed it
to him. 'You may wear that, and they are not so likely to call you an
adventurer, and names of that sort. I am hardly considered a lady by
them.'

An adventurer! The full meaning of the phrase struck Evan's senses when
he was alone. Miss Bonner knew something of his condition, evidently.
Perhaps it was generally known, and perhaps it was thought that he had
come to win Rose for his worldly advantage! The idea was overwhelmingly
new to him. Up started self-love in arms. He would renounce her.

It is no insignificant contest when love has to crush self-love utterly.
At moments it can be done. Love has divine moments. There are times also
when Love draws part of his being from self-love, and can find no support
without it.

But how could he renounce her, when she came forth to him,--smiling,
speaking freshly and lightly, and with the colour on her cheeks which
showed that she had done her part? How could he retract a step?

'I have told Mama, Evan. That's over. She heard it first from me.'

'And she?'

'Dear Evan, if you are going to be sensitive, I'll run away. You that
fear no danger, and are the bravest man I ever knew! I think you are
really trembling. She will speak to Papa, and then--and then, I suppose,
they will both ask you whether you intend to give me up, or no. I'm
afraid you'll do the former.'

'Your mother--Lady Jocelyn listened to you, Rose? You told her all?'

'Every bit.'

'And what does she think of me?'

'Thinks you very handsome and astonishing, and me very idiotic and
natural, and that there is a great deal of bother in the world, and that
my noble relatives will lay the blame of it on her. No, dear, not all
that; but she talked very sensibly to me, and kindly. You know she is
called a philosopher: nobody knows how deep-hearted she is, though. My
mother is true as steel. I can't separate the kindness from the sense, or
I would tell you all she said. When I say kindness, I don't mean any "Oh,
my child," and tears, and kisses, and maundering, you know. You mustn't
mind her thinking me a little fool. You want to know what she thinks of
you. She said nothing to hurt you, Evan, and we have gained ground so
far, and now we'll go and face our enemies. Uncle Mel expects to hear
about your appointment, in a day or two, and----'

'Oh, Rose!' Evan burst out.

'What is it?'

'Why must I owe everything to you?'

'Why, dear? Why, because, if you do, it's very much better than your
owing it to anybody else. Proud again?'

Not proud: only second fiddle.

'You know, dear Evan, when two people love, there is no such thing as
owing between them.'

'Rose, I have been thinking. It is not too late. I love you, God knows! I
did in Portugal: I do now--more and more. But Oh, my bright angel!' he
ended the sentence in his breast.

'Well? but--what?'

Evan sounded down the meaning of his 'but.' Stripped of the usual
heroics, it was, 'what will be thought of me?' not a small matter to any
of us. He caught a distant glimpse of the little bit of bare selfishness,
and shrank from it.

'Too late,' cried Rose. 'The battle has commenced now, and, Mr.
Harrington, I will lean on your arm, and be led to my dear friends
yonder. Do they think that I am going to put on a mask to please them?
Not for anybody! What they are to know they may as well know at once.'

She looked in Evan's face.

'Do you hesitate?'

He felt the contrast between his own and hers; between the niggard spirit
of the beggarly receiver, and the high bloom of the exalted giver.
Nevertheless, he loved her too well not to share much of her nature, and
wedding it suddenly, he said:

'Rose; tell me, now. If you were to see the place where I was born, could
you love me still?'

'Yes, Evan.'

'If you were to hear me spoken of with contempt--'

'Who dares?' cried Rose. 'Never to me!'

'Contempt of what I spring from, Rose. Names used . . . Names are used
. . .'

'Tush!--names!' said Rose, reddening. 'How cowardly that is! Have you
finished? Oh, faint heart! I suppose I'm not a fair lady, or you wouldn't
have won me. Now, come. Remember, Evan, I conceal nothing; and if
anything makes you wretched here, do think how I love you.'

In his own firm belief he had said everything to arrest her in her
course, and been silenced by transcendent logic. She thought the same.

Rose made up to the conclave under the maple.

The voices hushed as they approached.

'Capital weather,' said Rose. 'Does Harry come back from London
to-morrow--does anybody know?'

'Not aware,' Laxley was heard to reply.

'I want to speak a word to you, Rose,' said Mrs. Shorne.

'With the greatest pleasure, my dear aunt': and Rose walked after her.

'My dear Rose,' Mrs. Shorne commenced, 'your conduct requires that I
should really talk to you most seriously. You are probably not aware of
what you are doing: Nobody likes ease and natural familiarity more than I
do. I am persuaded it is nothing but your innocence. You are young to the
world's ways, and perhaps a little too headstrong, and vain.'

'Conceited and wilful,' added Rose.

'If you like the words better. But I must say--I do not wish to trouble
your father--you know he cannot bear worry--but I must say, that if you
do not listen to me, he must be spoken to.'

'Why not Mama?'

'I should naturally select my brother first. No doubt you understand me.'

'Any distant allusion to Mr. Harrington?'

'Pertness will not avail you, Rose.'

'So you want me to do secretly what I am doing openly?'

'You must and shall remember you are a Jocelyn, Rose.'

'Only half, my dear aunt!'

'And by birth a lady, Rose.'

'And I ought to look under my eyes, and blush, and shrink, whenever I
come near a gentleman, aunt!'

'Ah! my dear. No doubt you will do what is most telling. Since you have
spoken of this Mr. Harrington, I must inform you that I have it on
certain authority from two or three sources, that he is the son of a
small shopkeeper at Lymport.'

Mrs. Shorne watched the effect she had produced.

'Indeed, aunt?' cried Rose. 'And do you know this to be true?'

'So when you talk of gentlemen, Rose, please be careful whom you
include.'

'I mustn't include poor Mr. Harrington? Then my Grandpapa Bonner is out
of the list, and such numbers of good worthy men?'

Mrs. Shorne understood the hit at the defunct manufacturer. She said:
'You must most distinctly give me your promise, while this young
adventurer remains here--I think it will not be long--not to be
compromising yourself further, as you now do. Or--indeed I must--I shall
let your parents perceive that such conduct is ruin to a young girl in
your position, and certainly you will be sent to Elburne House for the
winter.'

Rose lifted her hands, crying: 'Ye Gods!--as Harry says. But I'm very
much obliged to you, my dear aunt. Concerning Mr. Harrington, wonderfully
obliged. Son of a small-----! Is it a t-t-tailor, aunt?'

'It is--I have heard.'

'And that is much worse. Cloth is viler than cotton! And don't they call
these creatures sn-snips? Some word of that sort?'

'It makes little difference what they are called.'

'Well, aunt, I sincerely thank you. As this subject seems to interest
you, go and see Mama, now. She can tell you a great deal more: and, if
you want her authority, come back to me.'

Rose then left her aunt in a state of extreme indignation. It was a
clever move to send Mrs. Shorne to Lady Jocelyn. They were antagonistic,
and, rational as Lady Jocelyn was, and with her passions under control,
she was unlikely to side with Mrs. Shorne.

Now Rose had fought against herself, and had, as she thought, conquered.
In Portugal Evan's half insinuations had given her small suspicions,
which the scene on board the Jocasta had half confirmed: and since she
came to communicate with her own mind, she bore the attack of all that
rose against him, bit by bit. She had not been too blind to see the
unpleasantness of the fresh facts revealed to her. They did not change
her; on the contrary, drew her to him faster--and she thought she had
completely conquered whatever could rise against him. But when Juliana
Bonner told her that day that Evan was not only the son of the thing, but
the thing himself, and that his name could be seen any day in Lymport,
and that he had come from the shop to Beckley, poor Rosey had a sick
feeling that almost sank her. For a moment she looked back wildly to the
doors of retreat. Her eyes had to feed on Evan, she had to taste some of
the luxury of love, before she could gain composure, and then her
arrogance towards those she called her enemies did not quite return.

'In that letter you told me all--all--all, Evan?'

'Yes, all-religiously.'

'Oh, why did I miss it!'

'Would it give you pleasure?'

She feared to speak, being tender as a mother to his sensitiveness. The
expressive action of her eyebrows sufficed. She could not bear
concealment, or doubt, or a shadow of dishonesty; and he, gaining force
of soul to join with hers, took her hands and related the contents of the
letter fully. She was pale when he had finished. It was some time before
she was able to get free from the trammels of prejudice, but when she
did, she did without reserve, saying: 'Evan, there is no man who would
have done so much.' These little exaltations and generosities bind lovers
tightly. He accepted the credit she gave him, and at that we need not
wonder. It helped him further to accept herself, otherwise could he--his
name known to be on a shop-front--have aspired to her still? But, as an
unexampled man, princely in soul, as he felt, why, he might kneel to Rose
Jocelyn. So they listened to one another, and blinded the world by
putting bandages on their eyes, after the fashion of little boys and
girls.

Meantime the fair being who had brought these two from the ends of the
social scale into this happy tangle, the beneficent Countess, was
wretched. When you are in the enemy's country you are dependent on the
activity and zeal of your spies and scouts, and the best of these--Polly
Wheedle, to wit--had proved defective, recalcitrant even. And because a
letter had been lost in her room! as the Countess exclaimed to herself,
though Polly gave her no reasons. The Countess had, therefore, to rely
chiefly upon personal observation, upon her intuitions, upon her
sensations in the proximity of the people to whom she was opposed; and
from these she gathered that she was, to use the word which seemed
fitting to her, betrayed. Still to be sweet, still to smile and to
amuse,--still to give her zealous attention to the business of the
diplomatist's Election, still to go through her church-services devoutly,
required heroism; she was equal to it, for she had remarkable courage;
but it was hard to feel no longer at one with Providence. Had not
Providence suggested Sir Abraham to her? killed him off at the right
moment in aid of her? And now Providence had turned, and the assistance
she had formerly received from that Power, and given thanks for so
profusely, was the cause of her terror. It was absolutely as if she had
been borrowing from a Jew, and were called upon to pay fifty-fold
interest.

'Evan!' she writes in a gasp to Harriet. 'We must pack up and depart.
Abandon everything. He has disgraced us all, and ruined himself.
Impossible that we can stay for the pic-nic. We are known, dear. Think of
my position one day in this house! Particulars when I embrace you. I dare
not trust a letter here. If Evan had confided in me! He is impenetrable.
He will be low all his life, and I refuse any more to sully myself in
attempting to lift him. For Silva's sake I must positively break the
connection. Heaven knows what I have done for this boy, and will support
me in the feeling that I have done enough. My conscience at least is
safe.'

Like many illustrious Generals, the Countess had, for the hour, lost
heart. We find her, however, the next day, writing:

'Oh! Harriet! what trials for sisterly affection! Can I possibly--weather
the gale, as the old L---- sailors used to say? It is dreadful. I fear I
am by duty bound to stop on. Little Bonner thinks Evan quite a duke's
son, has been speaking to her Grandmama, and to-day, this morning, the
venerable old lady quite as much as gave me to understand that an union
between our brother and her son's child would sweetly gratify her, and
help her to go to her rest in peace. Can I chase that spark of comfort
from one so truly pious? Dearest Juliana! I have anticipated Evan's
feeling for her, and so she thinks his conduct cold. Indeed, I told her,
point blank, he loved her. That, you know, is different from saying,
dying of love, which would have been an untruth. But, Evan, of course! No
getting him! Should Juliana ever reproach me, I can assure the child that
any man is in love with any woman--which is really the case. It is, you
dear humdrum! what the dictionary calls "nascent." I never liked the
word, but it stands for a fact.'

The Countess here exhibits the weakness of a self-educated intelligence.
She does not comprehend the joys of scholarship in her employment of
Latinisms. It will be pardoned to her by those who perceive the profound
piece of feminine discernment which precedes it.

'I do think I shall now have courage to stay out the pic-nic,' she
continues. 'I really do not think all is known. Very little can be known,
or I am sure I could not feel as I do. It would burn me up. George Up---
does not dare; and his most beautiful lady-love had far better not. Mr.
Forth may repent his whispers. But, Oh! what Evan may do! Rose is almost
detestable. Manners, my dear? Totally deficient!

'An ally has just come. Evan's good fortune is most miraculous. His low
friend turns out to be a young Fortunatus; very original, sparkling, and
in my hands to be made much of. I do think he will--for he is most
zealous--he will counteract that hateful Mr. Forth, who may soon have
work enough. Mr. Raikes (Evan's friend) met a mad captain in Fallow
field! Dear Mr. Raikes is ready to say anything; not from love of
falsehood, but because he is ready to think it. He has confessed to me
that Evan told him! Louisa de Saldar has changed his opinion, and much
impressed this eccentric young gentleman. Do you know any young girl who
wants a fortune, and would be grateful?

'Dearest! I have decided on the pic-nic. Let your conscience be clear,
and Providence cannot be against you. So I feel. Mr. Parsley spoke very
beautifully to that purpose last Sunday in the morning service. A little
too much through his nose, perhaps; but the poor young man's nose is a
great organ, and we will not cast it in his teeth more than nature has
done. I said so to my diplomatist, who was amused. If you are sparklingly
vulgar with the English, you are aristocratic. Oh! what principle we
women require in the thorny walk of life. I can show you a letter when we
meet that will astonish humdrum. Not so diplomatic as the writer thought!
Mrs. Melville (sweet woman!) must continue to practise civility; for a
woman who is a wife, my dear, in verity she lives in a glass house, and
let her fling no stones. "Let him who is without sin." How beautiful that
Christian sentiment! I hope I shall be pardoned, but it always seems to
me that what we have to endure is infinitely worse than any other
suffering, for you find no comfort for the children of T----s in
Scripture, nor any defence of their dreadful position. Robbers, thieves,
Magdalens! but, no! the unfortunate offspring of that class are not even
mentioned: at least, in my most diligent perusal of the Scriptures, I
never lighted upon any remote allusion; and we know the Jews did wear
clothing. Outcasts, verily! And Evan could go, and write--but I have no
patience with him. He is the blind tool of his mother, and anybody's
puppet.'

The letter concludes, with horrid emphasis:

'The Madre in Beckley! Has sent for Evan from a low public-house! I have
intercepted the messenger. Evan closeted with Sir Franks. Andrew's
horrible old brother with Lady Jocelyn. The whole house, from garret to
kitchen, full of whispers!'

A prayer to Providence closes the communication.



CHAPTER XXVIII

TOM COGGLESEY'S PROPOSITION

The appearance of a curricle and a donkey-cart within the gates of
Beckley Court, produced a sensation among the men of the lower halls, and
a couple of them rushed out, with the left calf considerably in advance,
to defend the house from violation. Toward the curricle they directed
what should have been a bow, but was a nod. Their joint attention was
then given to the donkey-cart, in which old Tom Cogglesby sat alone,
bunchy in figure, bunched in face, his shrewd grey eyes twinkling under
the bush of his eyebrows.

'Oy, sir--you! my man!' exclaimed the tallest of the pair, resolutely.
'This won't do. Don't you know driving this sort of conveyance slap along
the gravel 'ere, up to the pillars, 's unparliamentary? Can't be allowed.
Now, right about!'

This address, accompanied by a commanding elevation of the dexter hand,
seemed to excite Mr. Raikes far more than Old Tom. He alighted from his
perch in haste, and was running up to the stalwart figure, crying,
'Fellow!' when, as you tell a dog to lie down, Old Tom called out, 'Be
quiet, Sir!' and Raikes halted with prompt military obedience.

The sight of the curricle acting satellite to the donkey-cart staggered
the two footmen.

'Are you lords?' sang out Old Tom.

A burst of laughter from the friends of Mr. Raikes, in the curricle,
helped to make the powdered gentlemen aware of a sarcasm, and one with no
little dignity replied that they were not lords.

'Oh! Then come and hold my donkey.'

Great irresolution was displayed at the injunction, but having consulted
the face of Mr. Raikes, one fellow, evidently half overcome by what was
put upon him, with the steps of Adam into exile, descended to the gravel,
and laid his hand on the donkey's head.

'Hold hard!' cried Old Tom. 'Whisper in his ear. He'll know your
language.'

'May I have the felicity of assisting you to terra firma?' interposed Mr.
Raikes, with the bow of deferential familiarity.

'Done that once too often,' returned Old Tom, jumping out. 'There. What's
the fee? There's a crown for you that ain't afraid of a live donkey; and
there 's a sixpenny bit for you that are--to keep up your courage; and
when he's dead you shall have his skin--to shave by.'

'Excellent!' shouted Raikes.

'Thomas!' he addressed a footman, 'hand in my card. Mr. John Feversham
Raikes.'

'And tell my lady, Tom Cogglesby's come,' added the owner of that name.

We will follow Tom Cogglesby, as he chooses to be called.

Lady Jocelyn rose on his entering the library, and walking up to him,
encountered him with a kindly full face.

'So I see you at last, Tom?' she said, without releasing his hand; and
Old Tom mounted patches of red in his wrinkled cheeks, and blinked, and
betrayed a singular antiquated bashfulness, which ended, after a mumble
of 'Yes, there he was, and he hoped her ladyship was well,' by his
seeking refuge in a chair, where he sat hard, and fixed his attention on
the leg of a table.

'Well, Tom, do you find much change in me?' she was woman enough to
continue.

He was obliged to look up.

'Can't say I do, my lady.'

'Don't you see the grey hairs, Tom?'

'Better than a wig,' rejoined he.

Was it true that her ladyship had behaved rather ill to Old Tom in her
youth? Excellent women have been naughty girls, and young Beauties will
have their train. It is also very possible that Old Tom had presumed upon
trifles, and found it difficult to forgive her his own folly.

'Preferable to a wig? Well, I would rather see you with your natural
thatch. You're bent, too. You look as if you had kept away from Beckley a
little too long.'

'Told you, my lady, I should come when your daughter was marriageable.'

'Oho! that's it? I thought it was the Election!

'Election be ------ hem!--beg pardon, my lady.'

'Swear, Tom, if it relieves you. I think it bad to check an oath or a
sneeze.'

'I 'm come to see you on business, my lady, or I shouldn't have troubled
you.'

'Malice?'

'You 'll see I don't bear any, my lady.'

'Ah! if you had only sworn roundly twenty-five years ago, what a much
younger man you would have been! and a brave capital old friend whom I
should not have missed all that time.'

'Come!' cried Old Tom, varying his eyes rapidly between her ladyship's
face and the floor, 'you acknowledge I had reason to.'

'Mais, cela va sans dire.'

'Cobblers' sons ain't scholars, my lady.'

'And are not all in the habit of throwing their fathers in our teeth, I
hope!'

Old Tom wriggled in his chair. 'Well, my lady, I'm not going to make a
fool of myself at my time o' life. Needn't be alarmed now. You've got the
bell-rope handy and a husband on the premises.'

Lady Jocelyn smiled, stood up, and went to him. 'I like an honest fist,'
she said, taking his. 'We 're not going to be doubtful friends, and we
won't snap and snarl. That's for people who're independent of wigs, Tom.
I find, for my part, that a little grey on the top of any head cools the
temper amazingly. I used to be rather hot once.'

'You could be peppery, my lady.'

'Now I'm cool, Tom, and so must you be; or, if you fight, it must be in
my cause, as you did when you thrashed that saucy young carter. Do you
remember?'

'If you'll sit ye down, my lady, I'll just tell you what I'm come for,'
said Old Tom, who plainly showed that he did remember, and was alarmingly
softened by her ladyship's retention of the incident.

Lady Jocelyn returned to her place.

'You've got a marriageable daughter, my lady?'

'I suppose we may call her so,' said Lady Jocelyn, with a composed glance
at the ceiling.

''Gaged to be married to any young chap?'

'You must put the question to her, Tom.'

'Ha! I don't want to see her.'

At this Lady Jocelyn looked slightly relieved. Old Tom continued.

'Happen to have got a little money--not so much as many a lord's got, I
dare say; such as 'tis, there 'tis. Young fellow I know wants a wife, and
he shall have best part of it. Will that suit ye, my lady?'

Lady Jocelyn folded her hands. 'Certainly; I've no objection. What it has
to do with me I can't perceive.'

'Ahem!' went Old Tom. 'It won't hurt your daughter to be married now,
will it?'

'Oh! my daughter is the destined bride of your "young fellow,"' said Lady
Jocelyn. 'Is that how it's to be?'

'She'--Old Tom cleared his throat 'she won't marry a lord, my lady; but
she--'hem--if she don't mind that--'ll have a deuced sight more hard cash
than many lord's son 'd give her, and a young fellow for a husband, sound
in wind and limb, good bone and muscle, speaks grammar and two or three
languages, and--'

'Stop!' cried Lady Jocelyn. 'I hope this is not a prize young man? If he
belongs, at his age, to the unco quid, I refuse to take him for a
son-in-law, and I think Rose will, too.'

Old Tom burst out vehemently: 'He's a damned good young fellow, though he
isn't a lord.'

'Well,' said Lady Jocelyn, 'I 've no doubt you're in earnest, Tom. It 's
curious, for this morning Rose has come to me and given me the first
chapter of a botheration, which she declares is to end in the common rash
experiment. What is your "young fellow's" name? Who is he? What is he?'

'Won't take my guarantee, my lady?'

'Rose--if she marries--must have a name, you know?'

Old Tom hit his knee. 'Then there's a pill for ye to swallow, for he
ain't the son of a lord.'

'That's swallowed, Tom. What is he?'

'He's the son of a tradesman, then, my lady.' And Old Tom watched her to
note the effect he had produced.

'More 's the pity,' was all she remarked.

'And he 'll have his thousand a year to start with; and he's a tailor, my
lady.'

Her ladyship opened her eyes.

'Harrington's his name, my lady. Don't know whether you ever heard of
it.'

Lady Jocelyn flung herself back in her chair. 'The queerest thing I ever
met!' said she.

'Thousand a year to start with,' Old Tom went on, 'and if she marries--I
mean if he marries her, I'll settle a thousand per ann. on the first
baby-boy or gal.'

'Hum! Is this gross collusion, Mr. Tom?' Lady Jocelyn inquired.

'What does that mean?'

'Have you spoken of this before to any one?'

'I haven't, my lady. Decided on it this morning. Hem! you got a son, too.
He's fond of a young gal, or he ought to be. I'll settle him when I've
settled the daughter.'

'Harry is strongly attached to a dozen, I believe,' said his mother.
'Well, Tom, we'll think of it. I may as well tell you: Rose has just been
here to inform me that this Mr. Harrington has turned her head, and that
she has given her troth, and all that sort of thing. I believe such was
not to be laid to my charge in my day.'

'You were open enough, my lady,' said Old Tom. 'She's fond of the young
fellow? She'll have a pill to swallow! poor young woman!'

Old Tom visibly chuckled. Lady Jocelyn had a momentary temptation to lead
him out, but she did not like the subject well enough to play with it.

'Apparently Rose has swallowed it,' she said.

'Goose, shears, cabbage, and all!' muttered Old Tom. 'Got a stomach!--she
knows he's a tailor, then? The young fellow told her? He hasn't been
playing the lord to her?'

'As far as he's concerned, I think he has been tolerably honest, Tom, for
a man and a lover.'

'And told her he was born and bound a tailor?'

'Rose certainly heard it from him.'

Slapping his knee, Old Tom cried: 'Bravo!' For though one part of his
nature was disappointed, and the best part of his plot disarranged, he
liked Evan's proceeding and felt warm at what seemed to him Rose's scorn
of rank.

'She must be a good gal, my lady. She couldn't have got it from t' other
side. Got it from you. Not that you--'

'No,' said Lady Jocelyn, apprehending him. 'I'm afraid I have no
Republican virtues. I 'm afraid I should have rejected the pill. Don't be
angry with me,' for Old Tom looked sour again; 'I like birth and
position, and worldly advantages, and, notwithstanding Rose's pledge of
the instrument she calls her heart, and in spite of your offer, I shall,
I tell you honestly, counsel her to have nothing to do with--'

'Anything less than lords,' Old Tom struck in. 'Very well. Are you going
to lock her up, my lady?'

'No. Nor shall I whip her with rods.'

'Leave her free to her choice?'

'She will have my advice. That I shall give her. And I shall take care
that before she makes a step she shall know exactly what it leads to. Her
father, of course, will exercise his judgement.' (Lady Jocelyn said this
to uphold the honour of Sir Franks, knowing at the same time perfectly
well that he would be wheedled by Rose.) 'I confess I like this Mr.
Harrington. But it's a great misfortune for him to have had a notorious
father. A tailor should certainly avoid fame, and this young man will
have to carry his father on his back. He 'll never throw the great Mel
off.'

Tom Cogglesby listened, and was really astonished at her ladyship's calm
reception of his proposal.

'Shameful of him! shameful!' he muttered perversely: for it would have
made him desolate to have had to change his opinion of her ladyship after
cherishing it, and consoling himself with it, five-and-twenty years.
Fearing the approach of softness, he prepared to take his leave.

'Now--your servant, my lady. I stick to my word, mind: and if your people
here are willing, I--I 've got a candidate up for Fall'field--I'll knock
him down, and you shall sneak in your Tory. Servant, my lady.'

Old Tom rose to go. Lady Jocelyn took his hand cordially, though she
could not help smiling at the humility of the cobbler's son in his manner
of speaking of the Tory candidate.

'Won't you stop with us a few days?'

'I 'd rather not, I thank ye.'

'Won't you see Rose?'

'I won't. Not till she's married.'

'Well, Tom, we're friends now?'

'Not aware I've ever done you any harm, my lady.'

'Look me in the face.'

The trial was hard for him. Though she had been five-and-twenty years a
wife, she was still very handsome: but he was not going to be melted, and
when the perverse old fellow obeyed her, it was with an aspect of
resolute disgust that would have made any other woman indignant. Lady
Jocelyn laughed.

'Why, Tom, your brother Andrew's here, and makes himself comfortable with
us. We rode by Brook's farm the other day. Do you remember Copping's
pond--how we dragged it that night? What days we had!'

Old Tom tugged once or twice at his imprisoned fist, while these youthful
frolics of his too stupid self and the wild and beautiful Miss Bonner
were being recalled.

'I remember!' he said savagely, and reaching the door hurled out: 'And I
remember the Bull-dogs, too! servant, my lady.' With which he effected a
retreat, to avoid a ringing laugh he heard in his ears.

Lady Jocelyn had not laughed. She had done no more than look and smile
kindly on the old boy. It was at the Bull-dogs, a fall of water on the
borders of the park, that Tom Cogglesby, then a hearty young man, had
been guilty of his folly: had mistaken her frank friendliness for a
return of his passion, and his stubborn vanity still attributed her
rejection of his suit to the fact of his descent from a cobbler, or, as
he put it, to her infernal worship of rank.

'Poor old Tom!' said her ladyship, when alone. 'He 's rough at the rind,
but sound at the core.' She had no idea of the long revenge Old Tom
cherished, and had just shaped into a plot to be equal with her for the
Bull-dogs.



CHAPTER XXIX

PRELUDE TO AN ENGAGEMENT

Money was a strong point with the Elburne brood. The Jocelyns very
properly respected blood; but being, as Harry, their youngest
representative, termed them, poor as rats, they were justified in
considering it a marketable stuff; and when they married they married for
money. The Hon. Miss Jocelyn had espoused a manufacturer, who failed in
his contract, and deserved his death. The diplomatist, Melville, had not
stepped aside from the family traditions in his alliance with Miss Black,
the daughter of a bold bankrupt, educated in affluence; and if he touched
nothing but L5000 and some very pretty ringlets, that was not his fault.
Sir Franks, too, mixed his pure stream with gold. As yet, however, the
gold had done little more than shine on him; and, belonging to
expectancy, it might be thought unsubstantial. Beckley Court was in the
hands of Mrs. Bonner, who, with the highest sense of duty toward her only
living child, was the last to appreciate Lady Jocelyn's entire absence of
demonstrative affection, and severely reprobated her daughter's
philosophic handling of certain serious subjects. Sir Franks, no doubt,
came better off than the others; her ladyship brought him twenty thousand
pounds, and Harry had ten in the past tense, and Rose ten in the future;
but living, as he had done, a score of years anticipating the demise of
an incurable invalid, he, though an excellent husband and father, could
scarcely be taught to imagine that the Jocelyn object of his bargain was
attained. He had the semblance of wealth, without the personal glow which
absolute possession brings. It was his habit to call himself a poor man,
and it was his dream that Rose should marry a rich one. Harry was
hopeless. He had been his Grandmother's pet up to the years of
adolescence: he was getting too old for any prospect of a military career
he had no turn for diplomacy, no taste for any of the walks open to blood
and birth, and was in headlong disgrace with the fountain of goodness at
Beckley Court, where he was still kept in the tacit understanding that,
should Juliana inherit the place, he must be at hand to marry her
instantly, after the fashion of the Jocelyns. They were an injured
family; for what they gave was good, and the commercial world had not
behaved honourably to them. Now, Ferdinand Laxley was just the match for
Rose. Born to a title and fine estate, he was evidently fond of her, and
there had been a gentle hope in the bosom of Sir Franks that the family
fatality would cease, and that Rose would marry both money and blood.

From this happy delusion poor Sir Franks was awakened to hear that his
daughter had plighted herself to the son of a tradesman: that, as the
climax to their evil fate, she who had some blood and some money of her
own--the only Jocelyn who had ever united the two--was desirous of
wasting herself on one who had neither. The idea was so utterly opposed
to the principles Sir Franks had been trained in, that his intellect
could not grasp it. He listened to his sister, Mrs. Shorne: he listened
to his wife; he agreed with all they said, though what they said was
widely diverse: he consented to see and speak to Evan, and he did so, and
was much the most distressed. For Sir Franks liked many things in life,
and hated one thing alone--which was 'bother.' A smooth world was his
delight. Rose knew this, and her instruction to Evan was: 'You cannot
give me up--you will go, but you cannot give me up while I am faithful to
you: tell him that.' She knew that to impress this fact at once on the
mind of Sir Franks would be a great gain; for in his detestation of
bother he would soon grow reconciled to things monstrous: and hearing the
same on both sides, the matter would assume an inevitable shape to him.
Mr. Second Fiddle had no difficulty in declaring the eternity of his
sentiments; but he toned them with a despair Rose did not contemplate,
and added also his readiness to repair, in any way possible, the evil
done. He spoke of his birth and position. Sir Franks, with a gentlemanly
delicacy natural to all lovers of a smooth world, begged him to see the
main and the insurmountable objection. Birth was to be desired, of
course, and position, and so forth: but without money how can two young
people marry? Evan's heart melted at this generous way of putting it. He
said he saw it, he had no hope: he would go and be forgotten: and begged
that for any annoyance his visit might have caused Sir Franks and Lady
Jocelyn, they would pardon him. Sir Franks shook him by the hand, and the
interview ended in a dialogue on the condition of the knees of Black
Lymport, and on horseflesh in Portugal and Spain.

Following Evan, Rose went to her father and gave him a good hour's
excitement, after which the worthy gentleman hurried for consolation to
Lady Jocelyn, whom he found reading a book of French memoirs, in her
usual attitude, with her feet stretched out and her head thrown back, as
in a distant survey of the lively people screening her from a troubled
world. Her ladyship read him a piquant story, and Sir Franks capped it
with another from memory; whereupon her ladyship held him wrong in one
turn of the story, and Sir Franks rose to get the volume to verify, and
while he was turning over the leaves, Lady Jocelyn told him incidentally
of old Tom Cogglesby's visit and proposal. Sir Franks found the passage,
and that her ladyship was right, which it did not move her countenance to
hear.

'Ah!' said he, finding it no use to pretend there was no bother in the
world, 'here's a pretty pickle! Rose says she will have that fellow.'

'Hum!' replied her ladyship. 'And if she keeps her mind a couple of
years, it will be a wonder.'

'Very bad for her this sort of thing--talked about,' muttered Sir Franks.
'Ferdinand was just the man.'

'Well, yes; I suppose it's her mistake to think brains an absolute
requisite,' said Lady Jocelyn, opening her book again, and scanning down
a column.

Sir Franks, being imitative, adopted a similar refuge, and the talk
between them was varied by quotations and choice bits from the authors
they had recourse to. Both leaned back in their chairs, and spoke with
their eyes on their books.

'Julia's going to write to her mother,' said he.

'Very filial and proper,' said she.

'There'll be a horrible hubbub, you know, Emily.'

'Most probably. I shall get the blame; 'cela se concoit'.'

'Young Harrington goes the day after to-morrow. Thought it better not to
pack him off in a hurry.'

'And just before the pic-nic; no, certainly. I suppose it would look
odd.'

'How are we to get rid of the Countess?'

'Eh? This Bautru is amusing, Franks; but he's nothing to Vandy. 'Homme
incomparable!' On the whole I find Menage rather dull. The Countess? what
an accomplished liar that woman is! She seems to have stepped out of
Tallemant's Gallery. Concerning the Countess, I suppose you had better
apply to Melville.'

'Where the deuce did this young Harrington get his breeding from?'

'He comes of a notable sire.'

'Yes, but there's no sign of the snob in him.'

'And I exonerate him from the charge of "adventuring" after Rose. George
Uplift tells me--I had him in just now--that the mother is a woman of
mark and strong principle. She has probably corrected the too luxuriant
nature of Mel in her offspring. That is to say in this one. 'Pour les
autres, je ne dis pas'. Well, the young man will go; and if Rose chooses
to become a monument of constancy, we can do nothing. I shall give my
advice; but as she has not deceived me, and she is a reasonable being, I
shan't interfere. Putting the case at the worst, they will not want
money. I have no doubt Tom Cogglesby means what he says, and will do it.
So there we will leave the matter till we hear from Elburne House.'

Sir Franks groaned at the thought.

'How much does he offer to settle on them?' he asked.

'A thousand a year on the marriage, and the same amount to the first
child. I daresay the end would be that they would get all.'

Sir Franks nodded, and remained with one eye-brow pitiably elevated above
the level of the other.

'Anything but a tailor!' he exclaimed presently, half to himself.

'There is a prejudice against that craft,' her ladyship acquiesced.
'Beranger--let me see--your favourite Frenchman, Franks, wasn't it his
father?--no, his grandfather. "Mon pauvre et humble grand-pyre," I think,
was a tailor. Hum! the degrees of the thing, I confess, don't affect me.
One trade I imagine to be no worse than another.'

'Ferdinand's allowance is about a thousand,' said Sir Franks,
meditatively.

'And won't be a farthing more till he comes to the title,' added her
ladyship.

'Well,' resumed Sir Franks, 'it's a horrible bother!'

His wife philosophically agreed with him, and the subject was dropped.

Lady Jocelyn felt with her husband, more than she chose to let him know,
and Sir Franks could have burst into anathemas against fate and
circumstances, more than his love of a smooth world permitted. He,
however, was subdued by her calmness; and she, with ten times the weight
of brain, was manoeuvred by the wonderful dash of General Rose Jocelyn.
For her ladyship, thinking, 'I shall get the blame of all this,' rather
sided insensibly with the offenders against those who condemned them
jointly; and seeing that Rose had been scrupulously honest and
straightforward in a very delicate matter, this lady was so constituted
that she could not but applaud her daughter in her heart. A worldly woman
would have acted, if she had not thought, differently; but her ladyship
was not a worldly woman.

Evan's bearing and character had, during his residence at Beckley Court,
become so thoroughly accepted as those of a gentleman, and one of their
own rank, that, after an allusion to the origin of his breeding, not a
word more was said by either of them on that topic. Besides, Rose had
dignified him by her decided conduct.

By the time poor Sir Franks had read himself into tranquillity, Mrs.
Shorne, who knew him well, and was determined that he should not enter
upon his usual negociations with an unpleasantness: that is to say, to
forget it, joined them in the library, bringing with her Sir John Loring
and Hamilton Jocelyn. Her first measure was to compel Sir Franks to put
down his book. Lady Jocelyn subsequently had to do the same.

'Well, what have you done, Franks?' said Mrs. Shorne.

'Done?' answered the poor gentleman. 'What is there to be done? I've
spoken to young Harrington.'

'Spoken to him! He deserves horsewhipping! Have you not told him to quit
the house instantly?'

Lady Jocelyn came to her husband's aid: 'It wouldn't do, I think, to kick
him out. In the first place, he hasn't deserved it.'

'Not deserved it, Emily!--the commonest, low, vile, adventuring
tradesman!'

'In the second place,' pursued her ladyship, 'it's not adviseable to do
anything that will make Rose enter into the young woman's sublimities. It
's better not to let a lunatic see that you think him stark mad, and the
same holds with young women afflicted with the love-mania. The sound of
sense, even if they can't understand it, flatters them so as to keep them
within bounds. Otherwise you drive them into excesses best avoided.'

'Really, Emily,' said Mrs. Shorne, 'you speak almost, one would say, as
an advocate of such unions.'

'You must know perfectly well that I entirely condemn them,' replied her
ladyship, who had once, and once only, delivered her opinion of the
nuptials of Mr. and Mrs. Shorne.

In self-defence, and to show the total difference between the cases, Mrs.
Shorne interjected: 'An utterly penniless young adventurer!'

'Oh, no; there's money,' remarked Sir Franks.

'Money is there?' quoth Hamilton, respectfully.

'And there's wit,' added Sir John, 'if he has half his sister's talent.'

'Astonishing woman!' Hamilton chimed in; adding, with a shrug, 'But,
egad!'

'Well, we don't want him to resemble his sister,' said Lady Jocelyn. 'I
acknowledge she's amusing.'

'Amusing, Emily!' Mrs. Shorne never encountered her sister-in-law's
calmness without indignation. 'I could not rest in the house with such a
person, knowing her what she is. A vile adventuress, as I firmly believe.
What does she do all day with your mother? Depend upon it, you will
repent her visit in more ways than one.'

'A prophecy?' asked Lady Jocelyn, smiling.

On the grounds of common sense, on the grounds of propriety, and
consideration of what was due to themselves, all agreed to condemn the
notion of Rose casting herself away on Evan. Lady Jocelyn agreed with
Mrs. Shorne; Sir Franks with his brother, and Sir John. But as to what
they were to do, they were divided. Lady Jocelyn said she should not
prevent Rose from writing to Evan, if she had the wish to do so.

'Folly must come out,' said her ladyship. 'It's a combustible material. I
won't have her health injured. She shall go into the world more. She will
be presented at Court, and if it's necessary to give her a dose or two to
counteract her vanity, I don't object. This will wear off, or, 'si c'est
veritablement une grande passion, eh bien' we must take what Providence
sends us.'

'And which we might have prevented if we had condescended to listen to
the plainest worldly wisdom,' added Mrs. Shorne.

'Yes,' said Lady Jocelyn, equably, 'you know, you and I, Julia, argue
from two distinct points. Girls may be shut up, as you propose. I don't
think nature intended to have them the obverse of men. I 'm sure their
mothers never designed that they should run away with footmen,
riding-masters, chance curates, as they occasionally do, and wouldn't if
they had points of comparison. My opinion is that Prospero was just saved
by the Prince of Naples being wrecked on his island, from a shocking
mis-alliance between his daughter and the son of Sycorax. I see it
clearly. Poetry conceals the extreme probability, but from what I know of
my sex, I should have no hesitation in turning prophet also, as to that.'

What could Mrs. Shorne do with a mother who talked in this manner? Mrs.
Melville, when she arrived to take part in the conference, which
gradually swelled to a family one, was equally unable to make Lady
Jocelyn perceive that her plan of bringing up Rose was, in the present
result of it, other than unlucky.

Now the two Generals--Rose Jocelyn and the Countess de Saldar--had
brought matters to this pass; and from the two tactical extremes: the
former by openness and dash; the latter by subtlety, and her own
interpretations of the means extended to her by Providence. I will not be
so bold as to state which of the two I think right. Good and evil work
together in this world. If the Countess had not woven the tangle, and
gained Evan time, Rose would never have seen his blood,--never have had
her spirit hurried out of all shows and forms and habits of thought, up
to the gates of existence, as it were, where she took him simply as God
created him and her, and clave to him. Again, had Rose been secret, when
this turn in her nature came, she would have forfeited the strange power
she received from it, and which endowed her with decision to say what was
in her heart, and stamp it lastingly there. The two Generals were quite
antagonistic, but no two, in perfect ignorance of one another's
proceedings, ever worked so harmoniously toward the main result. The
Countess was the skilful engineer: Rose the General of cavalry. And it
did really seem that, with Tom Cogglesby and his thousands in reserve,
the victory was about to be gained. The male Jocelyns, an easy race,
decided that, if the worst came to the worst, and Rose proved a wonder,
there was money, which was something.

But social prejudice was about to claim its champion. Hitherto there had
been no General on the opposite side. Love, aided by the Countess, had
engaged an inert mass. The champion was discovered in the person of the
provincial Don Juan, Mr. Harry Jocelyn. Harry had gone on a mysterious
business of his own to London. He returned with a green box under his
arm, which, five minutes after his arrival, was entrusted to Conning, in
company with a genial present for herself, of a kind not perhaps so fit
for exhibition; at least they both thought so, for it was given in the
shades. Harry then went to pay his respects to his mother, who received
him with her customary ironical tolerance. His father, to whom he was an
incarnation of bother, likewise nodded to him and gave him a finger. Duty
done, Harry looked round him for pleasure, and observed nothing but glum
faces. Even the face of John Raikes was, heavy. He had been hovering
about the Duke and Miss Current for an hour, hoping the Countess would
come and give him a promised introduction. The Countess stirred not from
above, and Jack drifted from group to group on the lawn, and grew
conscious that wherever he went he brought silence with him. His
isolation made him humble, and when Harry shook his hand, and said he
remembered Fallow field and the fun there, Mr. Raikes thanked him.

Harry made his way to join his friend Ferdinand, and furnished him with
the latest London news not likely to appear in the papers. Laxley was
distant and unamused. From the fact, too, that Harry was known to be the
Countess's slave, his presence produced the same effect in the different
circles about the grounds, as did that of John Raikes. Harry began to
yawn and wish very ardently for his sweet lady. She, however, had too
fine an instinct to descend.

An hour before dinner, Juliana sent him a message that she desired to see
him.

'Jove! I hope that girl's not going to be blowing hot again,' sighed the
conqueror.

He had nothing to fear from Juliana. The moment they were alone she asked
him, 'Have you heard of it?'

Harry shook his head and shrugged.

'They haven't told you? Rose has engaged herself to Mr. Harrington, a
tradesman, a tailor!'

'Pooh! have you got hold of that story?' said Harry. 'But I'm sorry for
old Ferdy. He was fond of Rosey. Here's another bother!'

'You don't believe me, Harry?'

Harry was mentally debating whether, in this new posture of affairs, his
friend Ferdinand would press his claim for certain moneys lent.

'Oh, I believe you,' he said. 'Harrington has the knack with you women.
Why, you made eyes at him. It was a toss-up between you and Rosey once.'

Juliana let this accusation pass.

'He is a tradesman. He has a shop in Lymport, I tell you, Harry, and his
name on it. And he came here on purpose to catch Rose. And now he has
caught her, he tells her. And his mother is now at one of the village
inns, waiting to see him. Go to Mr. George Uplift; he knows the family.
Yes, the Countess has turned your head, of course; but she has schemed,
and schemed, and told such stories--God forgive her!'

The girl had to veil her eyes in a spasm of angry weeping.

'Oh, come! Juley!' murmured her killing cousin. Harry boasted an
extraordinary weakness at the sight of feminine tears. 'I say! Juley! you
know if you begin crying I'm done for, and it isn't fair.'

He dropped his arm on her waist to console her, and generously declared
to her that he always had been, very fond of her. These scenes were not
foreign to the youth. Her fits of crying, from which she would burst in a
frenzy of contempt at him, had made Harry say stronger things; and the
assurances of profound affection uttered in a most languid voice will
sting the hearts of women.

Harry still went on with his declarations, heating them rapidly, so as to
bring on himself the usual outburst and check. She was longer in coming
to it this time, and he had a horrid fear, that instead of dismissing him
fiercely, and so annulling his words, the strange little person was going
to be soft and hold him to them. There were her tears, however, which she
could not stop.

'Well, then, Juley, look. I do, upon my honour, yes--there, don't cry any
more--I do love you.'

Harry held his breath in awful suspense. Juliana quietly disengaged her
waist, and looking at him, said, 'Poor Harry! You need not lie any more
to please me.'

Such was Harry's astonishment, that he exclaimed,

'It isn't a lie! I say, I do love you.' And for an instant he thought and
hoped that he did love her.

'Well, then, Harry, I don't love you,' said Juliana; which revealed to
our friend that he had been mistaken in his own emotions. Nevertheless,
his vanity was hurt when he saw she was sincere, and he listened to her,
a moody being. This may account for his excessive wrath at Evan
Harrington after Juliana had given him proofs of the truth of what she
said.

But the Countess was Harrington's sister! The image of the Countess swam
before him. Was it possible? Harry went about asking everybody he met.
The initiated were discreet; those who had the whispers were open. A bare
truth is not so convincing as one that discretion confirms. Harry found
the detestable news perfectly true.

'Stop it by all means if you can,' said his father.

'Yes, try a fall with Rose,' said his mother.

'And I must sit down to dinner to-day with a confounded fellow, the son
of a tailor, who's had the impudence to make love to my sister!' cried
Harry. 'I'm determined to kick him out of the house!--half.'

'To what is the modification of your determination due?' Lady Jocelyn
inquired, probably suspecting the sweet and gracious person who divided
Harry's mind.

Her ladyship treated her children as she did mankind generally, from her
intellectual eminence. Harry was compelled to fly from her cruel shafts.
He found comfort with his Aunt Shorne, and she as much as told Harry that
he was the head of the house, and must take up the matter summarily. It
was expected of him. Now was the time for him to show his manhood.

Harry could think of but one way to do that.

'Yes, and if I do--all up with the old lady,' he said, and had to explain
that his Grandmama Bonner would never leave a penny to a fellow who had
fought a duel.

'A duel!' said Mrs. Shorne. 'No, there are other ways. Insist upon his
renouncing her. And Rose--treat her with a high hand, as becomes you.
Your mother is incorrigible, and as for your father, one knows him of
old. This devolves upon you. Our family honour is in your hands, Harry.'

Considering Harry's reputation, the family honour must have got low:
Harry, of course, was not disposed to think so. He discovered a great
deal of unused pride within him, for which he had hitherto not found an
agreeable vent. He vowed to his aunt that he would not suffer the
disgrace, and while still that blandishing olive-hued visage swam before
his eyes, he pledged his word to Mrs. Shorne that he would come to an
understanding with Harrington that night.

'Quietly,' said she. 'No scandal, pray.'

'Oh, never mind how I do it,' returned Harry, manfully. 'How am I to do
it, then?' he added, suddenly remembering his debt to Evan.

Mrs. Shorne instructed him how to do it quietly, and without fear of
scandal. The miserable champion replied that it was very well for her to
tell him to say this and that, but--and she thought him demented--he
must, previous to addressing Harrington in those terms, have money.

'Money!' echoed the lady. 'Money!'

'Yes, money!' he iterated doggedly, and she learnt that he had borrowed a
sum of Harrington, and the amount of the sum.

It was a disastrous plight, for Mrs. Shorne was penniless.

She cited Ferdinand Laxley as a likely lender.

'Oh, I'm deep with him already,' said Harry, in apparent dejection.

'How dreadful are these everlasting borrowings of yours!' exclaimed his
aunt, unaware of a trifling incongruity in her sentiments. 'You must
speak to him without--pay him by-and-by. We must scrape the money
together. I will write to your grandfather.'

'Yes; speak to him! How can I when I owe him? I can't tell a fellow he's
a blackguard when I owe him, and I can't speak any other way. I ain't a
diplomatist. Dashed if I know what to do!'

'Juliana,' murmured his aunt.

'Can't ask her, you know.'

Mrs. Shorne combated the one prominent reason for the objection: but
there were two. Harry believed that he had exhausted Juliana's treasury.
Reproaching him further for his wastefulness, Mrs. Shorne promised him
the money should be got, by hook or by crook, next day.

'And you will speak to this Mr. Harrington to-night, Harry? No allusion
to the loan till you return it. Appeal to his sense of honour.'

The dinner-bell assembled the inmates of the house. Evan was not among
them. He had gone, as the Countess said aloud, on a diplomatic mission to
Fallow field, with Andrew Cogglesby. The truth being that he had finally
taken Andrew into his confidence concerning the letter, the annuity, and
the bond. Upon which occasion Andrew had burst into a laugh, and said he
could lay his hand on the writer of the letter.

'Trust Old Tom for plots, Van! He'll blow you up in a twinkling, the
cunning old dog! He pretends to be hard--he 's as soft as I am, if it
wasn't for his crotchets. We'll hand him back the cash, and that's ended.
And--eh? what a dear girl she is! Not that I'm astonished. My Harry might
have married a lord--sit at top of any table in the land! And you're as
good as any man.

That's my opinion. But I say she's a wonderful girl to see it.'

Chattering thus, Andrew drove with the dear boy into Fallow field. Evan
was still in his dream. To him the generous love and valiant openness of
Rose, though they were matched in his own bosom, seemed scarcely human.
Almost as noble to him were the gentlemanly plainspeaking of Sir Franks
and Lady Jocelyn's kind commonsense. But the more he esteemed them, the
more unbounded and miraculous appeared the prospect of his calling their
daughter by the sacred name, and kneeling with her at their feet. Did the
dear heavens have that in store for him? The horizon edges were dimly
lighted.

Harry looked about under his eye-lids for Evan, trying at the same time
to compose himself for the martyrdom he had to endure in sitting at table
with the presumptuous fellow. The Countess signalled him to come within
the presence. As he was crossing the room, Rose entered, and moved to
meet him, with: 'Ah, Harry! back again! Glad to see you.'

Harry gave her a blunt nod, to which she was inattentive.

'What!' whispered the Countess, after he pressed the tips of her fingers.
'Have you brought back the grocer?'

Now this was hard to stand. Harry could forgive her her birth, and pass
it utterly by if she chose to fall in love with him; but to hear the
grocer mentioned, when he knew of the tailor, was a little too much, and
what Harry felt his ingenuous countenance was accustomed to exhibit. The
Countess saw it. She turned her head from him to the diplomatist, and he
had to remain like a sentinel at her feet. He did not want to be thanked
for the green box: still he thought she might have favoured him with one
of her much-embracing smiles:

In the evening, after wine, when he was warm, and had almost forgotten
the insult to his family and himself, the Countess snubbed him. It was
unwise on her part, but she had the ghastly thought that facts were
oozing out, and were already half known. She was therefore sensitive
tenfold to appearances; savage if one failed to keep up her lie to her,
and was guilty of a shadow of difference of behaviour. The pic-nic over,
our General would evacuate Beckley Court, and shake the dust off her
shoes, and leave the harvest of what she had sown to Providence. Till
then, respect, and the honours of war! So the Countess snubbed him, and
he being full of wine, fell into the hands of Juliana, who had witnessed
the little scene.

'She has made a fool of others as well as of you,' said Juliana.

'How has she?' he inquired.

'Never mind. Do you want to make her humble and crouch to you?'

'I want to see Harrington,' said Harry.

'He will not return to-night from Fallow field. He has gone there to get
Mr. Andrew Cogglesby's brother to do something for him. You won't have
such another chance of humbling them both--both! I told you his mother is
at an inn here. The Countess has sent Mr. Harrington to Fallow field to
be out of the way, and she has told her mother all sorts of falsehoods.'

'How do you know all that?' quoth Harry. 'By Jove, Juley! talk about
plotters! No keeping anything from you, ever!'

'Never mind. The mother is here. She must be a vulgar woman. Oh! if you
could manage, Harry, to get this woman to come--you could do it so
easily! while they are at the pie-nic tomorrow. It would have the best
effect on Rose. She would then understand! And the Countess!'

'I could send the old woman a message!' cried Harry, rushing into the
scheme, inspired by Juliana's fiery eyes. 'Send her a sort of message to
say where we all were.'

'Let her know that her son is here, in some way,' Juley resumed.

'And, egad! what an explosion!' pursued Harry. 'But, suppose--'

'No one shall know, if you leave it to me-if you do just as I tell you,
Harry. You won't be treated as you were this evening after that, if you
bring down her pride. And, Harry, I hear you want money--I can give you
some.'

'You're a perfect trump, Juley!' exclaimed her enthusiastic cousin.

'But, no; I can't take it. I must kiss you, though.'

He put a kiss upon her cheek. Once his kisses had left a red waxen stamp;
she was callous to these compliments now.

'Will you do what I advise you to-morrow?' she asked.

After a slight hesitation, during which the olive-hued visage flitted
faintly in the distances of his brain, Harry said:

'It 'll do Rose good, and make Harrington cut. Yes! I declare I will.'

Then they parted. Juliana went to her bed-room, and flung herself upon
the bed hysterically. As the tears came thick and fast, she jumped up to
lock the door, for this outrageous habit of crying had made her
contemptible in the eyes of Lady Jocelyn, and an object of pity to Rose.
Some excellent and noble natures cannot tolerate disease, and are
mystified by its ebullitions. It was very sad to see the slight thin
frame grasped by those wan hands to contain the violence of the frenzy
that possessed her! the pale, hapless face rigid above the torment in her
bosom! She had prayed to be loved like other girls, and her readiness to
give her heart in return had made her a by-word in the house. She went to
the window and leaned out on the casement, looking towards Fallowfield
over the downs, weeping bitterly, with a hard shut mouth. One brilliant
star hung above the ridge, and danced on her tears.

'Will he forgive me?' she murmured. 'Oh, my God! I wish we were dead
together!'

Her weeping ceased, and she closed the window, and undressed as far away
from the mirror as she could get; but its force was too much for her, and
drew her to it. Some undefined hope had sprung in her suddenly. With
nervous slow steps she approached the glass, and first brushing back the
masses of black hair from her brow, looked as for some new revelation.
Long and anxiously she perused her features: the wide bony forehead; the
eyes deep-set and rounded with the scarlet of recent tears, the thin
nose-sharp as the dead; the weak irritable mouth and sunken cheeks. She
gazed like a spirit disconnected from what she saw. Presently a sort of
forlorn negative was indicated by the motion of her head.

'I can pardon him,' she said, and sighed. 'How could he love such a
face!'



CHAPTER XXX

THE BATTLE OF THE BULL-DOGS. PART I

At the South-western extremity of the park, with a view extending over
wide meadows and troubled mill waters, yellow barn-roofs and weather-gray
old farm-walls, two grassy mounds threw their slopes to the margin of the
stream. Here the bull-dogs held revel. The hollow between the slopes was
crowned by a bending birch, which rose three-stemmed from the root, and
hung a noiseless green shower over the basin of green it shadowed.
Beneath it the interminable growl sounded pleasantly; softly shot the
sparkle of the twisting water, and you might dream things half-fulfilled.
Knots of fern were about, but the tops of the mounds were firm grass,
evidently well rolled, and with an eye to airy feet. Olympus one eminence
was called, Parnassus the other. Olympus a little overlooked Parnassus,
but Parnassus was broader and altogether better adapted for the games of
the Muses. Round the edges of both there was a well-trimmed bush of
laurel, obscuring only the feet of the dancers from the observing gods.
For on Olympus the elders reclined. Great efforts had occasionally been
made to dispossess and unseat them, and their security depended mainly on
a hump in the middle of the mound which defied the dance.

Watteau-like groups were already couched in the shade. There were ladies
of all sorts: town-bred and country-bred: farmers' daughters and
daughters of peers: for this pic-nic, as Lady Jocelyn, disgusting the
Countess, would call it, was in reality a 'fete champetre', given
annually, to which the fair offspring of the superior tenants were
invited the brothers and fathers coming to fetch them in the evening. It
struck the eye of the Countess de Saldar that Olympus would be a fitting
throne for her, and a point whence her shafts might fly without fear of a
return. Like another illustrious General at Salamanca, she directed a
detachment to take possession of the height. Courtly Sir John Loring ran
up at once, and gave the diplomatist an opportunity to thank her
flatteringly for gaining them two minutes to themselves. Sir John waved
his handkerchief in triumph, welcoming them under an awning where carpets
and cushions were spread, and whence the Countess could eye the field.
She was dressed ravishingly; slightly in a foreign style, the bodice
being peaked at the waist, as was then the Portuguese persuasion. The
neck, too, was deliciously veiled with fine lace--and thoroughly veiled,
for it was a feature the Countess did not care to expose to the vulgar
daylight. Off her gentle shoulders, as it were some fringe of cloud blown
by the breeze this sweet lady opened her bosom to, curled a lovely black
lace scarf: not Caroline's. If she laughed, the tinge of mourning lent
her laughter new charms. If she sighed, the exuberant array of her
apparel bade the spectator be of good cheer. Was she witty, men
surrendered reason and adored her. Only when she entered the majestic
mood, and assumed the languors of greatness, and recited musky anecdotes
of her intimacy with it, only then did mankind, as represented at Beckley
Court, open an internal eye and reflect that it was wonderful in a
tailor's daughter. And she felt that mankind did so reflect. Her
instincts did not deceive her. She knew not how much was known; in the
depths of her heart she kept low the fear that possibly all might be
known; and succeeding in this, she said to herself that probably nothing
was known after all. George Uplift, Miss Carrington, and Rose, were the
three she abhorred. Partly to be out of their way, and to be out of the
way of chance shots (for she had heard names of people coming that
reminded her of Dubbins's, where, in past days, there had been on one
awful occasion a terrific discovery made), the Countess selected Olympus
for her station. It was her last day, and she determined to be happy.
Doubtless, she was making a retreat, but have not illustrious Generals
snatched victory from their pursuers? Fair, then, sweet, and full of
grace, the Countess moved. As the restless shifting of colours to her
motions was the constant interchange of her semisorrowful manner and
ready archness. Sir John almost capered to please her, and the
diplomatist in talking to her forgot his diplomacy and the craft of his
tongue.

It was the last day also of Caroline and the Duke. The Countess clung to
Caroline and the Duke more than to Evan and Rose. She could see the first
couple walking under an avenue of limes, and near them that young man or
monkey, Raikes, as if in ambush. Twice they passed him, and twice he
doffed his hat and did homage.

'A most singular creature!' exclaimed the Countess. 'It is my constant
marvel where my brother discovered such a curiosity. Do notice him.'

'That man? Raikes?' said the diplomatist. 'Do you know he is our rival?
Harry wanted an excuse for another bottle last night, and proposed the
"Member" for Fallowfield. Up got this Mr. Raikes and returned thanks.'

'Yes?' the Countess negligently interjected in a way she had caught from
Lady Jocelyn.

'Cogglesby's nominee, apparently.'

'I know it all,' said the Countess. 'We need have no apprehension. He is
docile. My brother-in-law's brother, you see, is most eccentric. We can
manage him best through this Mr. Raikes, for a personal application would
be ruin. He quite detests our family, and indeed all the aristocracy.'

Melville's mouth pursed, and he looked very grave.

Sir John remarked: 'He seems like a monkey just turned into a man.'

'And doubtful about the tail,' added the Countess.

The image was tolerably correct, but other causes were at the bottom of
the air worn by John Raikes. The Countess had obtained an invitation for
him, with instructions that he should come early, and he had followed
them so implicitly that the curricle was flinging dust on the hedges
between Fallow field and Beckley but an hour or two after the chariot of
Apollo had mounted the heavens, and Mr. Raikes presented himself at the
breakfast table. Fortunately for him the Countess was there. After the
repast she introduced him to the Duke: and he bowed to the Duke, and the
Duke bowed to him: and now, to instance the peculiar justness in the mind
of Mr. Raikes, he, though he worshipped a coronet and would gladly have
recalled the feudal times to a corrupt land, could not help thinking that
his bow had beaten the Duke's and was better. He would rather not have
thought so, for it upset his preconceptions and threatened a revolution
in his ideas. For this reason he followed the Duke, and tried, if
possible, to correct, or at least chasten the impressions he had of
possessing a glaring advantage over the nobleman. The Duke's second
notice of him was hardly a nod. 'Well!' Mr. Raikes reflected, 'if this is
your Duke, why, egad! for figure and style my friend Harrington beats him
hollow.' And Raikes thought he knew who could conduct a conversation with
superior dignity and neatness. The torchlight of a delusion was
extinguished in him, but he did not wander long in that gloomy cavernous
darkness of the disenchanted, as many of us do, and as Evan had done,
when after a week at Beckley Court he began to examine of what stuff his
brilliant father, the great Mel, was composed. On the contrary, as the
light of the Duke dwindled, Raikes gained in lustre. 'In fact,' he said,
'there's nothing but the title wanting.' He was by this time on a level
with the Duke in his elastic mind.

Olympus had been held in possession by the Countess about half an hour,
when Lady Jocelyn mounted it, quite unconscious that she was scaling a
fortified point. The Countess herself fired off the first gun at her.

'It has been so extremely delightful up alone here, Lady Jocelyn: to look
at everybody below! I hope many will not intrude on us!'

'None but the dowagers who have breath to get up,' replied her ladyship,
panting. 'By the way, Countess, you hardly belong to us yet. You dance?'

'Indeed, I do not.'

'Oh, then you are in your right place. A dowager is a woman who doesn't
dance: and her male attendant is--what is he? We will call him a fogy.'

Lady Jocelyn directed a smile at Melville and Sir John, who both
protested that it was an honour to be the Countess's fogy.

Rose now joined them, with Laxley morally dragged in her wake.

'Another dowager and fogy!' cried the Countess, musically. 'Do you not
dance, my child?'

'Not till the music strikes up,' rejoined Rose. 'I suppose we shall have
to eat first.'

'That is the Hamlet of the pic-nic play, I believe,' said her mother.

'Of course you dance, don't you, Countess?' Rose inquired, for the sake
of amiable conversation.

The Countess's head signified: 'Oh, no! quite out of the question': she
held up a little bit of her mournful draperies, adding: 'Besides, you,
dear child, know your company, and can select; I do not, and cannot do
so. I understand we have a most varied assembly!'

Rose shut her eyes, and then looked at her mother. Lady Jocelyn's face
was undisturbed; but while her eyes were still upon the Countess, she
drew her head gently back, imperceptibly. If anything, she was admiring
the lady; but Rose could be no placid philosophic spectator of what was
to her a horrible assumption and hypocrisy. For the sake of him she
loved, she had swallowed a nauseous cup bravely. The Countess was too
much for her. She felt sick to think of being allied to this person. She
had a shuddering desire to run into the ranks of the world, and hide her
head from multitudinous hootings. With a pang of envy she saw her friend
Jenny walking by the side of William Harvey, happy, untried, unoffending:
full of hope, and without any bitter draughts to swallow!

Aunt Bel now came tripping up gaily.

'Take the alternative, 'douairiere or demoiselle'?' cried Lady Jocelyn.
'We must have a sharp distinction, or Olympus will be mobbed.'

'Entre les deux, s'il vous plait,' responded Aunt Bel. 'Rose, hurry down,
and leaven the mass. I see ten girls in a bunch. It's shocking.
Ferdinand, pray disperse yourself. Why is it, Emily, that we are always
in excess at pic-nics? Is man dying out?'

'From what I can see,' remarked Lady Jocelyn, 'Harry will be lost to his
species unless some one quickly relieves him. He's already half eaten up
by the Conley girls. Countess, isn't it your duty to rescue him?'

The Countess bowed, and murmured to Sir John:

'A dismissal!'

'I fear my fascinations, Lady Jocelyn, may not compete with those fresh
young persons.'

'Ha! ha! "fresh young persons,"' laughed Sir John for the ladies in
question were romping boisterously with Mr. Harry.

The Countess inquired for the names and condition of the ladies, and was
told that they sprang from Farmer Conley, a well-to-do son of the soil,
who farmed about a couple of thousand acres between Fallow field and
Beckley, and bore a good reputation at the county bank.

'But I do think,' observed the Countess, 'it must indeed be pernicious
for any youth to associate with that class of woman. A deterioration of
manners!'

Rose looked at her mother again. She thought 'Those girls would scorn to
marry a tradesman's son!'

The feeling grew in Rose that the Countess lowered and degraded her. Her
mother's calm contemplation of the lady was more distressing than if she
had expressed the contempt Rose was certain, according to her young
ideas, Lady Jocelyn must hold.

Now the Countess had been considering that she would like to have a word
or two with Mr. Harry, and kissing her fingers to the occupants of
Olympus, and fixing her fancy on the diverse thoughts of the ladies and
gentlemen, deduced from a rapturous or critical contemplation of her
figure from behind, she descended the slope.

Was it going to be a happy day? The well-imagined opinions of the
gentleman on her attire and style, made her lean to the affirmative; but
Rose's demure behaviour, and something--something would come across her
hopes. She had, as she now said to herself, stopped for the pic-nic,
mainly to give Caroline a last opportunity of binding the Duke to visit
the Cogglesby saloons in London. Let Caroline cleverly contrive this, as
she might, without any compromise, and the stay at Beckley Court would be
a great gain. Yes, Caroline was still with the Duke; they were talking
earnestly. The Countess breathed a short appeal to Providence that
Caroline might not prove a fool. Overnight she had said to Caroline: 'Do
not be so English. Can one not enjoy friendship with a nobleman without
wounding one's conscience or breaking with the world? My dear, the Duke
visiting you, you cow that infamous Strike of yours. He will be utterly
obsequious! I am not telling you to pass the line. The contrary. But we
continentals have our grievous reputation because we dare to meet as
intellectual beings, and defy the imputation that ladies and gentlemen
are no better than animals.'

It sounded very lofty to Caroline, who, accepting its sincerity, replied:

'I cannot do things by halves. I cannot live a life of deceit. A life of
misery--not deceit.'

Whereupon, pitying her poor English nature, the Countess gave her advice,
and this advice she now implored her familiars to instruct or compel
Caroline to follow.

The Countess's garment was plucked at. She beheld little Dorothy Loring
glancing up at her with the roguish timidity of her years.

'May I come with you?' asked the little maid, and went off into a
prattle: 'I spent that five shillings--I bought a shilling's worth of
sweet stuff, and nine penn'orth of twine, and a shilling for small wax
candles to light in my room when I'm going to bed, because I like plenty
of light by the looking-glass always, and they do make the room so hot!
My Jane declared she almost fainted, but I burnt them out! Then I only
had very little left for a horse to mount my doll on; and I wasn't going
to get a screw, so I went to Papa, and he gave me five shillings. And,
oh, do you know, Rose can't bear me to be with you. Jealousy, I suppose,
for you're very agreeable. And, do you know, your Mama is coming to-day?
I've got a Papa and no Mama, and you've got a Mama and no Papa. Isn't it
funny? But I don't think so much of it, as you 're grown up. Oh, I'm
quite sure she is coming, because I heard Harry telling Juley she was,
and Juley said it would be so gratifying to you.'

A bribe and a message relieved the Countess of Dorothy's attendance on
her.

What did this mean? Were people so base as to be guilty of hideous plots
in this house? Her mother coming! The Countess's blood turned deadly
chill. Had it been her father she would not have feared, but her mother
was so vilely plain of speech; she never opened her mouth save to deliver
facts: which was to the Countess the sign of atrocious vulgarity.

But her mother had written to say she would wait for Evan in Fallow
field! The Countess grasped at straws. Did Dorothy hear that? And if
Harry and Juliana spoke of her mother, what did that mean? That she was
hunted, and must stand at bay!

'Oh, Papa! Papa! why did you marry a Dawley?' she exclaimed, plunging to
what was, in her idea, the root of the evil.

She had no time for outcries and lamentations. It dawned on her that this
was to be a day of battle. Where was Harry? Still in the midst of the
Conley throng, apparently pooh-poohing something, to judge by the twist
of his mouth.

The Countess delicately signed for him to approach her. The extreme
delicacy of the signal was at least an excuse for Harry to perceive
nothing. It was renewed, and Harry burst into a fit of laughter at some
fun of one of the Conley girls. The Countess passed on, and met Juliana
pacing by herself near the lower gates of the park. She wished only to
see how Juliana behaved. The girl looked perfectly trustful, as much so
as when the Countess was pouring in her ears the tales of Evan's growing
but bashful affection for her.

'He will soon be here,' whispered the Countess. 'Has he told you he will
come by this entrance?'

'No,' replied Juliana.

'You do not look well, sweet child.'

'I was thinking that you did not, Countess?'

'Oh, indeed, yes! With reason, alas! All our visitors have by this time
arrived, I presume?'

'They come all day.'

The Countess hastened away from one who, when roused, could be almost as
clever as herself, and again stood in meditation near the joyful Harry.
This time she did not signal so discreetly. Harry could not but see it,
and the Conley girls accused him of cruelty to the beautiful dame, which
novel idea stung Harry with delight, and he held out to indulge in it a
little longer. His back was half turned, and as he talked noisily, he
could not observe the serene and resolute march of the Countess toward
him. The youth gaped when he found his arm taken prisoner by the
insertion of a small deliciously-gloved and perfumed hand through it. 'I
must claim you for a few moments,' said the Countess, and took the
startled Conley girls one and all in her beautiful smile of excuse.

'Why do you compromise me thus, sir?'

These astounding words were spoken out of the hearing of the Conley
girls.

'Compromise you!' muttered Harry.

Masterly was the skill with which the Countess contrived to speak angrily
and as an injured woman, while she wore an indifferent social
countenance.

'I repeat, compromise me. No, Mr. Harry Jocelyn, you are not the
jackanapes you try to make people think you: you understand me.'

The Countess might accuse him, but Harry never had the ambition to make
people think him that: his natural tendency was the reverse: and he
objected to the application of the word jackanapes to himself, and was
ready to contest the fact of people having that opinion at all. However,
all he did was to repeat: 'Compromise!'

'Is not open unkindness to me compromising me?'

'How?' asked Harry.

'Would you dare to do it to a strange lady? Would you have the impudence
to attempt it with any woman here but me? No, I am innocent; it is my
consolation; I have resisted you, but you by this cowardly behaviour
place me--and my reputation, which is more--at your mercy. Noble
behaviour, Mr. Harry Jocelyn! I shall remember my young English
gentleman.'

The view was totally new to Harry.

'I really had no idea of compromising you,' he said. 'Upon my honour, I
can't see how I did it now!'

'Oblige me by walking less in the neighbourhood of those fat-faced
glaring farm-girls,' the Countess spoke under her breath; 'and don't look
as if you were being whipped. The art of it is evident--you are but
carrying on the game.--Listen. If you permit yourself to exhibit an
unkindness to me, you show to any man who is a judge, and to every woman,
that there has been something between us. You know my innocence--yes! but
you must punish me for having resisted you thus long.'

Harry swore he never had such an idea, and was much too much of a man and
a gentleman to behave in that way.--And yet it seemed wonderfully clever!
And here was the Countess saying:

'Take your reward, Mr. Harry Jocelyn. You have succeeded; I am your
humble slave. I come to you and sue for peace. To save my reputation I
endanger myself. This is generous of you.'

'Am I such a clever fellow?' thought the young gentleman. 'Deuced lucky
with women': he knew that: still a fellow must be wonderfully,
miraculously, clever to be able to twist and spin about such a woman as
this in that way. He did not object to conceive that he was the fellow to
do it. Besides, here was the Countess de Saldar-worth five hundred of the
Conley girls--almost at his feet!

Mollified, he said: 'Now, didn't you begin it?'

'Evasion!' was the answer. 'It would be such pleasure to you so see a
proud woman weep! And if yesterday, persecuted as I am, with dreadful
falsehoods abroad respecting me and mine, if yesterday I did seem cold to
your great merits, is it generous of you to take this revenge?'

Harry began to scent the double meaning in her words. She gave him no
time to grow cool over it. She leaned, half abandoned, on his arm. Arts
feminine and irresistible encompassed him. It was a fatal mistake of
Juliana's to enlist Harry Jocelyn against the Countess de Saldar. He
engaged, still without any direct allusion to the real business, to move
heaven and earth to undo all that he had done, and the Countess implied
an engagement to do--what? more than she intended to fulfil.

Ten minutes later she was alone with Caroline.

'Tie yourself to the Duke at the dinner,' she said, in the forcible
phrase she could use when necessary. 'Don't let them scheme to separate
you. Never mind looks--do it!'

Caroline, however, had her reasons for desiring to maintain appearances.
The Countess dashed at her hesitation.

'There is a plot to humiliate us in the most abominable way. The whole
family have sworn to make us blush publicly. Publicly blush! They have
written to Mama to come and speak out. Now will you attend to me,
Caroline? You do not credit such atrocity? I know it to be true.'

'I never can believe that Rose would do such a thing,' said Caroline.' We
can hardly have to endure more than has befallen us already.'

Her speech was pensive, as of one who had matter of her own to ponder
over. A swift illumination burst in the Countess's mind.

'No? Have you, dear, darling Carry? not that I intend that you should!
but to-day the Duke would be such ineffable support to us. May I deem you
have not been too cruel to-day? You dear silly English creature, "Duck,"
I used to call you when I was your little Louy. All is not yet lost, but
I will save you from the ignominy if I can. I will!'

Caroline denied nothing--confirmed nothing, just as the Countess had
stated nothing. Yet they understood one another perfectly. Women have a
subtler language than ours: the veil pertains to them morally as bodily,
and they see clearer through it.

The Countess had no time to lose. Wrath was in her heart. She did not
lend all her thoughts to self-defence.

Without phrasing a word, or absolutely shaping a thought in her head, she
slanted across the sun to Mr. Raikes, who had taken refreshment, and in
obedience to his instinct, notwithstanding his enormous pretensions, had
commenced a few preliminary antics.

'Dear Mr. Raikes!' she said, drawing him aside, 'not before dinner!'

'I really can't contain the exuberant flow!' returned that gentleman. 'My
animal spirits always get the better of me,' he added confidentially.

'Suppose you devote your animal spirits to my service for half an hour.'

'Yours, Countess, from the 'os frontis' to the chine!' was the exuberant
rejoinder.

The Countess made a wry mouth.

'Your curricle is in Beckley?'

'Behold!' said Jack. 'Two juveniles, not half so blest as I, do from the
seat regard the festive scene o'er yon park palings. They are there, even
Franko and Fred. I 'm afraid I promised to get them in at a later period
of the day. Which sadly sore my conscience doth disturb! But what is to
be done about the curricle, my Countess?'

'Mr. Raikes,' said the Countess, smiling on him fixedly, 'you are
amusing; but in addressing me, you must be precise, and above all things
accurate. I am not your Countess!'

He bowed profoundly. 'Oh, that I might say my Queen!'

The Countess replied: 'A conviction of your lunacy would prevent my
taking offence, though I might wish you enclosed and guarded.'

Without any further exclamations, Raikes acknowledged a superior.

'And, now, attend to me,' said the Countess. 'Listen:

You go yourself, or send your friends instantly to Fallow field. Bring
with you that girl and her child. Stop: there is such a person. Tell her
she is to be spoken to about the prospects of the poor infant. I leave
that to your inventive genius. Evan wishes her here. Bring her, and
should you see the mad captain who behaves so oddly, favour him with a
ride. He says he dreams his wife is here, and he will not reveal his
name! Suppose it should be my own beloved husband! I am quite anxious.'

The Countess saw him go up to the palings and hold a communication with
his friends Franko and Fred. One took the whip, and after mutual
flourishes, drove away.

'Now!' mused the Countess, 'if Captain Evremonde should come!' It would
break up the pic-nic. Alas! the Countess had surrendered her humble hopes
of a day's pleasure. But if her mother came as well, what a diversion
that would be! If her mother came before the Captain, his arrival would
cover the retreat; if the Captain preceded her, she would not be noticed.
Suppose her mother refrained from coming? In that case it was a pity, but
the Jocelyns had brought it on themselves.

This mapping out of consequences followed the Countess's deeds, and did
not inspire them. Her passions sharpened her instincts, which produced
her actions. The reflections ensued: as in nature, the consequences were
all seen subsequently! Observe the difference between your male and
female Generals.

On reflection, too, the Countess praised herself for having done all that
could be done. She might have written to her mother: but her absence
would have been remarked: her messenger might have been overhauled and,
lastly, Mrs. Mel--'Gorgon of a mother!' the Countess cried out: for Mrs.
Mel was like a Fate to her. She could remember only two occasions in her
whole life when she had been able to manage her mother, and then by lying
in such a way as to distress her conscience severely.

'If Mama has conceived this idea of coming, nothing will impede her. My
prayers will infuriate her!' said the Countess, and she was sure that she
had acted both rightly and with wisdom.

She put on her armour of smiles: she plunged into the thick of the enemy.
Since they would not allow her to taste human happiness--she had asked
but for the pic-nic! a small truce! since they denied her that, rather
than let them triumph by seeing her wretched, she took into her bosom the
joy of demons. She lured Mr. George Uplift away from Miss Carrington, and
spoke to him strange hints of matrimonial disappointments, looking from
time to time at that apprehensive lady, doating on her terrors. And Mr.
George seconded her by his clouded face, for he was ashamed not to show
that he did not know Louisa Harrington in the Countess de Saldar, and had
not the courage to declare that he did. The Countess spoke familiarly,
but without any hint of an ancient acquaintance between them. 'What a
post her husband's got!' thought Mr. George, not envying the Count. He
was wrong: she was an admirable ally. All over the field the Countess
went, watching for her mother, praying that if she did come, Providence
might prevent her from coming while they were at dinner. How clearly Mrs.
Shorne and Mrs. Melville saw her vulgarity now! By the new light of
knowledge, how certain they were that they had seen her ungentle training
in a dozen little instances.

'She is not well-bred, 'cela se voit',' said Lady Jocelyn.

'Bred! it's the stage! How could such a person be bred?' said Mrs.
Shorne.

Accept in the Countess the heroine who is combating class-prejudices, and
surely she is pre-eminently noteworthy. True, she fights only for her
family, and is virtually the champion of the opposing institution
misplaced. That does not matter: the Fates may have done it purposely: by
conquering she establishes a principle. A Duke adores her sister, the
daughter of the house her brother, and for herself she has many
protestations in honour of her charms: nor are they empty ones. She can
confound Mrs. Melville, if she pleases to, by exposing an adorer to lose
a friend. Issuing out of Tailordom, she, a Countess, has done all this;
and it were enough to make her glow, did not little evils, and angers,
and spites, and alarms so frightfully beset her.

The sun of the pic-nic system is dinner. Hence philosophers may deduce
that the pic-nic is a British invention. There is no doubt that we do not
shine at the pic-nic until we reflect the face of dinner. To this, then,
all who were not lovers began seriously to look forward, and the advance
of an excellent county band, specially hired to play during the
entertainment, gave many of the guests quite a new taste for sweet music;
and indeed we all enjoy a thing infinitely more when we see its meaning.

About this time Evan entered the lower park-gates with Andrew. The first
object he encountered was John Raikes in a state of great depression. He
explained his case:

'Just look at my frill! Now, upon my honour, you know, I'm good-tempered;
I pass their bucolic habits, but this is beyond bearing. I was near the
palings there, and a fellow calls out, "Hi! will you help the lady over?"
Holloa! thinks I, an adventure! However, I advised him to take her round
to the gates. The beast burst out laughing. "Now, then," says he, and I
heard a scrambling at the pales, and up came the head of a dog. "Oh! the
dog first," says I. "Catch by the ears," says he. I did so. "Pull," says
he. "'Gad, pull indeed!", The beast gave a spring and came slap on my
chest, with his dirty wet muzzle on my neck! I felt instantly it was the
death of my frill, but gallant as you know me, I still asked for the
lady. "If you will please, or an it meet your favour, to extend your hand
to me!" I confess I did think it rather odd, the idea of a lady coming in
that way over the palings! but my curst love of adventure always blinds
me. It always misleads my better sense, Harrington. Well, instead of a
lady, I see a fellow--he may have been a lineal descendant of Cedric the
Saxon. "Where's the lady?" says I. "Lady?" says he, and stares, and then
laughs: "Lady! why," he jumps over, and points at his beast of a dog,
"don't you know a bitch when you see one?" I was in the most ferocious
rage! If he hadn't been a big burly bully, down he'd have gone. "Why
didn't you say what it was?" I roared. "Why," says he, "the word isn't
considered polite!" I gave him a cut there. I said, "I rejoice to be
positively assured that you uphold the laws and forms of civilization,
sir." My belief is he didn't feel it.'

'The thrust sinned in its shrewdness,' remarked Evan, ending a laugh.

'Hem!' went Mr. Raikes, more contentedly: 'after all, what are
appearances to the man of wit and intellect? Dress, and women will
approve you: but I assure you they much prefer the man of wit in his
slouched hat and stockings down. I was introduced to the Duke this
morning. It is a curious thing that the seduction of a Duchess has always
been one of my dreams.'

At this Andrew Cogglesby fell into a fit of laughter.

'Your servant,' said Mr. Raikes, turning to him. And then he muttered
'Extraordinary likeness! Good Heavens! Powers!'

From a state of depression, Mr. Raikes--changed into one of bewilderment.
Evan paid no attention to him, and answered none of his hasty undertoned
questions. Just then, as they were on the skirts of the company, the band
struck up a lively tune, and quite unconsciously, the legs of Raikes,
affected, it may be, by supernatural reminiscences, loosely hornpiped. It
was but a moment: he remembered himself the next: but in that fatal
moment eyes were on him. He never recovered his dignity in Beckley Court:
he was fatally mercurial.

'What is the joke against this poor fellow?' asked Evan of Andrew.

'Never mind, Van. You'll roar. Old Tom again. We 'll see by-and-by, after
the champagne. He--this young Raikes-ha! ha!--but I can't tell you.' And
Andrew went away to Drummond, to whom he was more communicative. Then he
went to Melville, and one or two others, and the eyes of many became
concentrated on Raikes, and it was observed as a singular sign that he
was constantly facing about, and flushing the fiercest red. Once he made
an effort to get hold of Evan's arm and drag him away, as one who had an
urgent confession to be delivered of, but Evan was talking to Lady
Jocelyn, and other ladies, and quietly disengaged his arm without even
turning to notice the face of his friend. Then the dinner was announced,
and men saw the dinner. The Countess went to shake her brother's hand,
and with a very gratulatory visage, said through her half-shut teeth.

'If Mama appears, rise up and go away with her, before she has time to
speak a word.' An instant after Evan found himself seated between Mrs.
Evremonde and one of the Conley girls. The dinner had commenced. The
first half of the Battle of the Bull-dogs was as peaceful as any ordinary
pic-nic, and promised to the general company as calm a conclusion.



CHAPTER XXXI

THE BATTLE OF THE BULL-DOGS. PART II.

If it be a distinct point of wisdom to hug the hour that is, then does
dinner amount to a highly intellectual invitation to man, for it
furnishes the occasion; and Britons are the wisest of their race, for
more than all others they take advantage of it. In this Nature is
undoubtedly our guide, seeing that he who, while feasting his body allows
to his soul a thought for the morrow, is in his digestion curst, and
becomes a house of evil humours. Now, though the epicure may complain of
the cold meats, a dazzling table, a buzzing company, blue sky, and a band
of music, are incentives to the forgetfulness of troubles past and
imminent, and produce a concentration of the faculties. They may not
exactly prove that peace is established between yourself and those who
object to your carving of the world, but they testify to an armistice.

Aided by these observations, you will understand how it was that the
Countess de Saldar, afflicted and menaced, was inspired, on taking her
seat, to give so graceful and stately a sweep to her dress that she was
enabled to conceive woman and man alike to be secretly overcome by it.
You will not refuse to credit the fact that Mr. Raikes threw care to the
dogs, heavy as was that mysterious lump suddenly precipitated on his
bosom; and you will think it not impossible that even the springers of
the mine about to explode should lose their subterranean countenances. A
generous abandonment to one idea prevailed. As for Evan, the first glass
of champagne rushed into reckless nuptials with the music in his head,
bringing Rose, warm almost as life, on his heart. Sublime are the visions
of lovers! He knew he must leave her on the morrow; he feared he might
never behold her again; and yet he tasted bliss, for it seemed within the
contemplation of the Gods that he should dance with his darling before
dark-haply waltz with her! Oh, heaven! he shuts his eyes, blinded. The
band wheels off meltingly in a tune all cadences, and twirls, and risings
and sinkings, and passionate outbursts trippingly consoled. Ah! how sweet
to waltz through life with the right partner. And what a singular thing
it is to look back on the day when we thought something like it! Never
mind: there may be spheres where it is so managed--doubtless the planets
have their Hanwell and Bedlam.

I confess that the hand here writing is not insensible to the effects of
that first glass of champagne. The poetry of our Countess's achievements
waxes rich in manifold colours: I see her by the light of her own pleas
to Providence. I doubt almost if the hand be mine which dared to make a
hero play second fiddle, and to his beloved. I have placed a bushel over
his light, certainly. Poor boy! it was enough that he should have
tailordom on his shoulders: I ought to have allowed him to conquer
Nature, and so come out of his eclipse. This shall be said of him: that
he can play second fiddle without looking foolish, which, for my part, I
call a greater triumph than if he were performing the heroics we are more
accustomed to. He has steady eyes, can gaze at the right level into the
eyes of others, and commands a tongue which is neither struck dumb nor
set in a flutter by any startling question. The best instances to be
given that he does not lack merit are that the Jocelyns, whom he has
offended by his birth, cannot change their treatment of him, and that the
hostile women, whatever they may say, do not think Rose utterly insane.
At any rate, Rose is satisfied, and her self-love makes her a keen
critic. The moment Evan appeared, the sickness produced in her by the
Countess passed, and she was ready to brave her situation. With no mock
humility she permitted Mrs. Shorne to place her in a seat where glances
could not be interchanged. She was quite composed, calmly prepared for
conversation with any one. Indeed, her behaviour since the hour of
general explanation had been so perfectly well-contained, that Mrs.
Melville said to Lady Jocelyn:

'I am only thinking of the damage to her. It will pass over--this fancy.
You can see she is not serious. It is mere spirit of opposition. She eats
and drinks just like other girls. You can see that the fancy has not
taken such very strong hold of her.'

'I can't agree with you,' replied her ladyship. 'I would rather have her
sit and sigh by the hour, and loathe roast beef. That would look nearer a
cure.'

'She has the notions of a silly country girl,' said Mrs. Shorne.

'Exactly,' Lady Jocelyn replied. 'A season in London will give her
balance.'

So the guests were tolerably happy, or at least, with scarce an
exception, open to the influences of champagne and music. Perhaps Juliana
was the wretchedest creature present. She was about to smite on both
cheeks him she loved, as well as the woman she despised and had been
foiled by. Still she had the consolation that Rose, seeing the vulgar
mother, might turn from Evan: a poor distant hope, meagre and shapeless
like herself. Her most anxious thoughts concerned the means of getting
money to lockup Harry's tongue. She could bear to meet the Countess's
wrath, but not Evan's offended look. Hark to that Countess!

'Why do you denominate this a pic-nic, Lady Jocelyn? It is in verity a
fete!'

'I suppose we ought to lie down 'A la Grecque' to come within the term,'
was the reply. 'On the whole, I prefer plain English for such matters.'

'But this is assuredly too sumptuous for a pic-nic, Lady Jocelyn. From
what I can remember, pic-nic implies contribution from all the guests. It
is true I left England a child!'

Mr. George Uplift could not withhold a sharp grimace: The Countess had
throttled the inward monitor that tells us when we are lying, so
grievously had she practised the habit in the service of her family.

'Yes,' said Mrs. Melville, 'I have heard of that fashion, and very stupid
it is.'

'Extremely vulgar,' murmured Miss Carrington.

'Possibly,' Lady Jocelyn observed; 'but good fun. I have been to
pic-nics, in my day. I invariably took cold pie and claret. I clashed
with half-a-dozen, but all the harm we did was to upset the dictum that
there can be too much of a good thing. I know for certain that the
bottles were left empty.'

'And this woman,' thought the Countess, 'this woman, with a soul so
essentially vulgar, claims rank above me!' The reflection generated
contempt of English society, in the first place, and then a passionate
desire for self-assertion.

She was startled by a direct attack which aroused her momentarily lulled
energies.

A lady, quite a stranger, a dry simpering lady, caught the Countess's
benevolent passing gaze, and leaning forward, said: 'I hope her ladyship
bears her affliction as well as can be expected?'

In military parlance, the Countess was taken in flank. Another would have
asked--What ladyship? To whom do you allude, may I beg to inquire? The
Countess knew better. Rapid as light it shot through her that the relict
of Sir Abraham was meant, and this she divined because she was aware that
devilish malignity was watching to trip her.

A little conversation happening to buzz at the instant, the Countess
merely turned her chin to an angle, agitated her brows very gently, and
crowned the performance with a mournful smile. All that a woman must feel
at the demise of so precious a thing as a husband, was therein eloquently
expressed: and at the same time, if explanations ensued, there were
numerous ladyships in the world, whom the Countess did not mind
afflicting, should she be hard pressed.

'I knew him so well!' resumed the horrid woman, addressing anybody. 'It
was so sad! so unexpected! but he was so subject to affection of the
throat. And I was so sorry I could not get down to him in time. I had not
seen him since his marriage, when I was a girl!--and to meet one of his
children!--But, my dear, in quinsey, I have heard that there is nothing
on earth like a good hearty laugh.'

Mr. Raikes hearing this, sucked down the flavour of a glass of champagne,
and with a look of fierce jollity, interposed, as if specially charged by
Providence to make plain to the persecuted Countess his mission and
business there: 'Then our vocation is at last revealed to us!
Quinsey-doctor! I remember when a boy, wandering over the paternal
mansion, and envying the life of a tinker, which my mother did not think
a good omen in me. But the traps of a Quinsey-doctor are even lighter.
Say twenty good jokes, and two or three of a practical kind. A man most
enviable!'

'It appears,' he remarked aloud to one of the Conley girls, 'that quinsey
is needed before a joke is properly appreciated.'

'I like fun,' said she, but had not apparently discovered it.

What did that odious woman mean by perpetually talking about Sir Abraham?
The Countess intercepted a glance between her and the hated Juliana. She
felt it was a malignant conspiracy: still the vacuous vulgar air of the
woman told her that most probably she was but an instrument, not a
confederate, and was only trying to push herself into acquaintance with
the great: a proceeding scorned and abominated by the Countess, who
longed to punish her for her insolent presumption. The bitterness of her
situation stung her tenfold when she considered that she dared not.

Meantime the champagne became as regular in its flow as the Bull-dogs,
and the monotonous bass of these latter sounded through the music, like
life behind the murmur of pleasure, if you will. The Countess had a not
unfeminine weakness for champagne, and old Mr. Bonner's cellar was well
and choicely stocked. But was this enjoyment to the Countess?--this
dreary station in the background! 'May I emerge?' she as much as implored
Providence.

The petition was infinitely tender. She thought she might, or it may be
that nature was strong, and she could not restrain herself.

Taking wine with Sir John, she said:

'This bowing! Do you know how amusing it is deemed by us Portuguese? Why
not embrace? as the dear Queen used to say to me.'

'I am decidedly of Her Majesty's opinion,' observed Sir John, with
emphasis, and the Countess drew back into a mingled laugh and blush.

Her fiendish persecutor gave two or three nods. 'And you know the Queen!'
she said.

She had to repeat the remark: whereupon the Countess murmured,
'Intimately.'

'Ah, we have lost a staunch old Tory in Sir Abraham,' said the lady,
performing lamentation.

What did it mean? Could design lodge in that empty-looking head with its
crisp curls, button nose, and diminishing simper? Was this pic-nic to be
made as terrible to the Countess by her putative father as the dinner had
been by the great Mel? The deep, hard, level look of Juliana met the
Countess's smile from time to time, and like flimsy light horse before a
solid array of infantry, the Countess fell back, only to be worried
afresh by her perfectly unwitting tormentor.

'His last days?--without pain? Oh, I hope so!' came after a lapse of
general talk.

'Aren't we getting a little funereal, Mrs. Perkins?' Lady Jocelyn asked,
and then rallied her neighbours.

Miss Carrington looked at her vexedly, for the fiendish Perkins was
checked, and the Countess in alarm, about to commit herself, was a
pleasant sight to Miss Carrington.

'The worst of these indiscriminate meetings is that there is no
conversation,' whispered the Countess, thanking Providence for the
relief.

Just then she saw Juliana bend her brows at another person. This was
George Uplift, who shook his head, and indicated a shrewd-eyed, thin,
middle-aged man, of a lawyer-like cast; and then Juliana nodded, and
George Uplift touched his arm, and glanced hurriedly behind for
champagne. The Countess's eyes dwelt on the timid young squire most
affectionately. You never saw a fortress more unprepared for dread
assault.

'Hem!' was heard, terrific. But the proper pause had evidently not yet
come, and now to prevent it the Countess strained her energies and tasked
her genius intensely. Have you an idea of the difficulty of keeping up
the ball among a host of ill-assorted, stupid country people, who have no
open topics, and can talk of nothing continuously but scandal of their
neighbours, and who, moreover, feel they are not up to the people they
are mixing with? Darting upon Seymour Jocelyn, the Countess asked
touchingly for news of the partridges. It was like the unlocking of a
machine. Seymour was not blythe in his reply, but he was loud and
forcible; and when he came to the statistics--oh, then you would have
admired the Countess!--for comparisons ensued, braces were enumerated,
numbers given were contested, and the shooting of this one jeered at, and
another's sure mark respectfully admitted. And how lay the coveys? And
what about the damage done by last winter's floods? And was there good
hope of the pheasants? Outside this latter the Countess hovered. Twice
the awful 'Hem!' was heard. She fought on. She kept them at it. If it
flagged she wished to know this or that, and finally thought that,
really, she should like herself to try one shot. The women had previously
been left behind. This brought in the women. Lady Jocelyn proposed a
female expedition for the morrow.

'I believe I used to be something of a shot, formerly,' she said.

'You peppered old Tom once, my lady,' remarked Andrew, and her ladyship
laughed, and that foolish Andrew told the story, and the Countess, to
revive her subject, had to say: 'May I be enrolled to shoot?' though she
detested and shrank from fire-arms.

'Here are two!' said the hearty presiding dame. 'Ladies, apply
immediately to have your names put down.'

The possibility of an expedition of ladies now struck Seymour vividly,
and said he: 'I 'll be secretary'; and began applying to the ladies for
permission to put down their names. Many declined, with brevity,
muttering, either aloud or to themselves, 'unwomanly'; varied by
'unladylike': some confessed cowardice; some a horror of the noise close
to their ears; and there was the plea of nerves. But the names of
half-a-dozen ladies were collected, and then followed much laughter, and
musical hubbub, and delicate banter. So the ladies and gentlemen fell one
and all into the partridge pit dug for them by the Countess: and that
horrible 'Hem!' equal in force and terror to the roar of artillery
preceding the charge of ten thousand dragoons, was silenced--the pit
appeared impassable. Did the Countess crow over her advantage? Mark her:
the lady's face is entirely given up to partridges. 'English sports are
so much envied abroad,' she says: but what she dreads is a reflection,
for that leads off from the point. A portion of her mind she keeps to
combat them in Lady Jocelyn and others who have the tendency: the rest
she divides between internal-prayers for succour, and casting about for
another popular subject to follow partridges. Now, mere talent, as
critics say when they are lighting candles round a genius, mere talent
would have hit upon pheasants as the natural sequitur, and then diverged
to sports--a great theme, for it ensures a chorus of sneers at
foreigners, and so on probably to a discussion of birds and beasts best
adapted to enrapture the palate of man. Stories may succeed, but they are
doubtful, and not to be trusted, coming after cookery. After an exciting
subject which has made the general tongue to wag, and just enough heated
the brain to cause it to cry out for spiced food--then start your story:
taking care that it be mild; for one too marvellous stops the tide, the
sense of climax being strongly implanted in all bosoms. So the Countess
told an anecdote--one of Mel's. Mr. George Uplift was quite familiar with
it, and knew of one passage that would have abashed him to relate 'before
ladies.' The sylph-like ease with which the Countess floated over this
foul abysm was miraculous. Mr. George screwed his eye-lids queerly, and
closed his jaws with a report, completely beaten. The anecdote was of the
character of an apologue, and pertained to game. This was, as it
happened, a misfortune; for Mr. Raikes had felt himself left behind by
the subject; and the stuff that was in this young man being naturally
ebullient, he lay by to trip it, and take a lead. His remarks brought on
him a shrewd cut from the Countess, which made matters worse; for a pun
may also breed puns, as doth an anecdote. The Countess's stroke was so
neat and perfect that it was something for the gentlemen to think over;
and to punish her for giving way to her cleverness and to petty vexation,
'Hem!' sounded once more, and then: 'May I ask you if the present Baronet
is in England?'

Now Lady Jocelyn perceived that some attack was directed against her
guest. She allowed the Countess to answer:

'The eldest was drowned in the Lisbon waters'

And then said: 'But who is it that persists in serving up the funeral
baked meats to us?'

Mrs. Shorne spoke for her neighbour: 'Mr. Farnley's cousin was the
steward of Sir Abraham Harrington's estates.'

The Countess held up her head boldly. There is a courageous exaltation of
the nerves known to heroes and great generals in action when they feel
sure that resources within themselves will spring up to the emergency,
and that over simple mortals success is positive.

'I had a great respect for Sir Abraham,' Mr. Farnley explained, 'very
great. I heard that this lady' (bowing to the Countess) 'was his
daughter.'

Lady Jocelyn's face wore an angry look, and Mrs. Shorne gave her the
shade of a shrug and an expression implying, 'I didn't!'

Evan was talking to Miss Jenny Graine at the moment rather earnestly.
With a rapid glance at him, to see that his ears were closed, the
Countess breathed:

'Not the elder branch!--Cadet!'

The sort of noisy silence produced by half-a-dozen people respirating
deeply and moving in their seats was heard. The Countess watched Mr.
Farnley's mystified look, and whispered to Sir John: 'Est-ce qu'il
comprenne le Francais, lui?'

It was the final feather-like touch to her triumph. She saw safety and a
clear escape, and much joyful gain, and the pleasure of relating her
sufferings in days to come. This vista was before her when, harsh as an
execution bell, telling her that she had vanquished man, but that
Providence opposed her, 'Mrs. Melchisedec Harrington!' was announced to
Lady Jocelyn.

Perfect stillness reigned immediately, as if the pic-nic had heard its
doom.

'Oh! I will go to her,' said her ladyship, whose first thought was to
spare the family. 'Andrew, come and give me your arm.'

But when she rose Mrs. Mel was no more than the length of an arm from her
elbow.

In the midst of the horrible anguish she was enduring, the Countess could
not help criticizing her mother's curtsey to Lady Jocelyn. Fine, but a
shade too humble. Still it was fine; all might not yet be lost.

'Mama!' she softly exclaimed, and thanked heaven that she had not denied
her parent.

Mrs. Mel did not notice her or any of her children. There was in her
bosom a terrible determination to cast a devil out of the one she best
loved. For this purpose, heedless of all pain to be given, or of
impropriety, she had come to speak publicly, and disgrace and humiliate,
that she might save him from the devils that had ruined his father.

'My lady,' said the terrible woman, thanking her in reply to an
invitation that she should be seated, 'I have come for my son. I hear he
has been playing the lord in your house, my lady. I humbly thank your
ladyship for your kindness to him, but he is nothing more than a tailor's
son, and is bound a tailor himself that his father may be called an
honest man. I am come to take him away.'

Mrs. Mel seemed to speak without much effort, though the pale flush of
her cheeks showed that she felt what she was doing. Juliana was pale as
death, watching Rose. Intensely bright with the gem-like light of her
gallant spirit, Rose's eyes fixed on Evan. He met them. The words of Ruth
passed through his heart. But the Countess, who had given Rose to Evan,
and the Duke to Caroline, where was her supporter? The Duke was
entertaining Caroline with no less dexterity, and Rose's eyes said to
Evan: 'Feel no shame that I do not feel!' but the Countess stood alone.
It is ever thus with genius! to quote the numerous illustrious authors
who have written of it.

What mattered it now that in the dead hush Lady Jocelyn should assure her
mother that she had been misinformed, and that Mrs. Mel was presently
quieted, and made to sit with others before the fruits and wines? All
eyes were hateful--the very thought of Providence confused her brain.
Almost reduced to imbecility, the Countess imagined, as a reality, that
Sir Abraham had borne with her till her public announcement of
relationship, and that then the outraged ghost would no longer be
restrained, and had struck this blow.

The crushed pic-nic tried to get a little air, and made attempts at
conversation. Mrs. Mel sat upon the company with the weight of all
tailordom.

And now a messenger came for Harry. Everybody was so zealously employed
in the struggle to appear comfortable under Mrs. Mel, that his departure
was hardly observed. The general feeling for Evan and his sisters, by
their superiors in rank, was one of kindly pity. Laxley, however, did not
behave well. He put up his glass and scrutinized Mrs. Mel, and then
examined Evan, and Rose thought that in his interchange of glances with
any one there was a lurking revival of the scene gone by. She signalled
with her eyebrows for Drummond to correct him, but Drummond had another
occupation. Andrew made the diversion. He whispered to his neighbour, and
the whisper went round, and the laugh; and Mr. Raikes grew extremely
uneasy in his seat, and betrayed an extraordinary alarm. But he also was
soon relieved. A messenger had come from Harry to Mrs. Evremonde, bearing
a slip of paper. This the lady glanced at, and handed it to Drummond. A
straggling pencil had traced these words:

'Just running by S.W. gates--saw the Captain coming in--couldn't stop to
stop him--tremendous hurry--important. Harry J.'

Drummond sent the paper to Lady Jocelyn. After her perusal of it a scout
was despatched to the summit of Olympus, and his report proclaimed the
advance in the direction of the Bull-dogs of a smart little figure of a
man in white hat and white trousers, who kept flicking his legs with a
cane.

Mrs. Evremonde rose and conferred with her ladyship an instant, and then
Drummond took her arm quietly, and passed round Olympus to the East, and
Lady Jocelyn broke up the sitting.

Juliana saw Rose go up to Evan, and make him introduce her to his mother.
She turned lividly white, and went to a corner of the park by herself,
and cried bitterly.

Lady Jocelyn, Sir Franks, and Sir John, remained by the tables, but
before the guests were out of ear-shot, the individual signalled from
Olympus presented himself.

'There are times when one can't see what else to do but to lie,' said her
ladyship to Sir Franks, 'and when we do lie the only way is to lie
intrepidly.'

Turning from her perplexed husband, she exclaimed:

'Ah! Lawson?'

Captain Evremonde lifted his hat, declining an intimacy.

'Where is my wife, madam?'

'Have you just come from the Arctic Regions?'

'I have come for my wife, madam!'

His unsettled grey eyes wandered restlessly on Lady Jocelyn's face. The
Countess standing near the Duke, felt some pity for the wife of that
cropped-headed, tight-skinned lunatic at large, but deeper was the
Countess's pity for Lady Jocelyn, in thinking of the account she would
have to render on the Day of Judgement, when she heard her ladyship
reply--

'Evelyn is not here.'

Captain Evremonde bowed profoundly, trailing his broad white hat along
the sward.

'Do me the favour to read this, madam,' he said, and handed a letter to
her.

Lady Jocelyn raised her brows as she gathered the contents of the letter.

'Ferdinand's handwriting!' she exclaimed.

'I accuse no one, madam,--I make no accusation. I have every respect for
you, madam,--you have my esteem. I am sorry to intrude, madam, an
intrusion is regretted. My wife runs away from her bed, madam, and I have
the law, madam, the law is with the husband. No force!' He lashed his
cane sharply against his white legs. 'The law, madam. No brute force!'
His cane made a furious whirl, cracking again on his legs, as he
reiterated, 'The law!'

'Does the law advise you to strike at a tangent all over the country in
search for her?' inquired Lady Jocelyn.

Captain Evremonde became ten times more voluble and excited.

Mrs. Mel was heard by the Countess to say: 'Her ladyship does not know
how to treat madmen.'

Nor did Sir Franks and Sir John. They began expostulating with him.

'A madman gets madder when you talk reason to him,' said Mrs. Mel.

And now the Countess stepped forward to Lady Jocelyn, and hoped she would
not be thought impertinent in offering her opinion as to how this frantic
person should be treated. The case indeed looked urgent. Many gentlemen
considered themselves bound to approach and be ready in case of need.
Presently the Countess passed between Sir Franks and Sir John, and with
her hand put up, as if she feared the furious cane, said:

'You will not strike me?'

'Strike a lady, madam?' The cane and hat were simultaneously lowered.

'Lady Jocelyn permits me to fetch for you a gentleman of the law. Or will
you accompany me to him?'

In a moment, Captain Evremonde's manners were subdued and civilized, and
in perfectly sane speech he thanked the Countess and offered her his arm.
The Countess smilingly waved back Sir John, who motioned to attend on
her, and away she went with the Captain, with all the glow of a woman who
feels that she is heaping coals of fire on the heads of her enemies.

Was she not admired now?

'Upon my honour,' said Lady Jocelyn, 'they are a remarkable family,'
meaning the Harringtons.

What farther she thought she did not say, but she was a woman who looked
to natural gifts more than the gifts of accidents; and Evan's chance
stood high with her then. So the battle of the Bull-dogs was fought, and
cruelly as the Countess had been assailed and wounded, she gained a
victory; yea, though Demogorgon, aided by the vindictive ghost of Sir
Abraham, took tangible shape in the ranks opposed to her. True, Lady
Jocelyn, forgetting her own recent intrepidity, condemned her as a liar;
but the fruits of the Countess's victory were plentiful. Drummond Forth,
fearful perhaps of exciting unjust suspicions in the mind of Captain
Evremonde, disappeared altogether. Harry was in a mess which threw him
almost upon Evan's mercy, as will be related. And, lastly, Ferdinand
Laxley, that insufferable young aristocrat, was thus spoken to by Lady
Jocelyn.

'This 'letter addressed to Lawson, telling him that his wife is here, is
in your handwriting, Ferdinand. I don't say you wrote it--I don't think
you could have written it. But, to tell you the truth, I have an
unpleasant impression about it, and I think we had better shake hands and
not see each other for some time.'

Laxley, after one denial of his guilt, disdained to repeat it. He met her
ladyship's hand haughtily, and, bowing to Sir Franks, turned on his heel.

So, then, in glorious complete victory, the battle of the Bull-dogs
ended!

Of the close of the pic-nic more remains to be told.

For the present I pause, in observance of those rules which demand that
after an exhibition of consummate deeds, time be given to the spectator
to digest what has passed before him.



CHAPTER XXXII

IN WHICH EVANS LIGHT BEGINS TO TWINKLE AGAIN

The dowagers were now firmly planted on Olympus. Along the grass lay the
warm strong colours of the evening sun, reddening the pine-stems and
yellowing the idle aspen-leaves. For a moment it had hung in doubt
whether the pic-nic could survive the two rude shocks it had received.
Happily the youthful element was large, and when the band, refreshed by
chicken and sherry, threw off half-a-dozen bars of one of those
irresistible waltzes that first catch the ear, and then curl round the
heart, till on a sudden they invade and will have the legs, a rush up
Parnassus was seen, and there were shouts and laughter and commotion, as
over other great fields of battle the corn will wave gaily and mark the
reestablishment of nature's reign.

How fair the sight! Approach the twirling couples. They talk as they
whirl. 'Fancy the run-away tailor!' is the male's remark, and he expects
to be admired for it, and is.

'That make-up Countess--his sister, you know--didn't you see her? she
turned green,' says Creation's second effort, almost occupying the place
of a rib.

'Isn't there a run-away wife, too?'

'Now, you mustn't be naughty!'

They laugh and flatter one another. The power to give and take flattery
to any amount is the rare treasure of youth.

Undoubtedly they are a poetical picture; but some poetical pictures talk
dreary prose; so we will retire.

Now, while the dancers carried on their business, and distance lent them
enchantment, Rose stood by Juliana, near an alder which hid them from the
rest.

'I don't accuse you,' she was saying; 'but who could have done this but
you? Ah, Juley! you will never get what you want if you plot for it. I
thought once you cared for Evan. If he had loved you, would I not have
done all that I could for you both? I pardon you with all my heart.'

'Keep your pardon!' was the angry answer. 'I have done more for you,
Rose. He is an adventurer, and I have tried to open your eyes and make
you respect your family. You may accuse me of what you like, I have my
conscience.'

'And the friendship of the Countess,' added Rose.

Juliana's figure shook as if she had been stung.

'Go and be happy--don't stay here and taunt me,' she said, with a ghastly
look. 'I suppose he can lie like his sister, and has told you all sorts
of tales.'

'Not a word--not a word!' cried Rose. 'Do you think my lover could tell a
lie?'

The superb assumption of the girl, and the true portrait of Evan's
character which it flashed upon Juliana, were to the latter such intense
pain, that she turned like one on the rack, exclaiming:

'You think so much of him? You are so proud of him? Then, yes! I love him
too, ugly, beastly as I am to look at! Oh, I know what you think! I loved
him from the first, and I knew all about him, and spared him pain. I did
not wait for him to fall from a horse. I watched every chance of his
being exposed. I let them imagine he cared for me. Drummond would have
told what he knew long before--only he knew there would not be much harm
in a tradesman's son marrying me. And I have played into your hands, and
now you taunt me!'

Rose remembered her fretful unkindness to Evan on the subject of his
birth, when her feelings toward him were less warm. Dwelling on that
alone, she put her arms round Juliana's stiffening figure, and said: 'I
dare say I am much more selfish than you. Forgive me, dear.'

Staring at her, Juliana replied, 'Now you are acting.'

'No,' said Rose, with a little effort to fondle her; 'I only feel that I
love you better for loving him.'

Generous as her words sounded, and were, Juliana intuitively struck to
the root of them, which was comfortless. For how calm in its fortune, how
strong in its love, must Rose's heart be, when she could speak in this
unwonted way!

'Go, and leave me, pray,' she said.

Rose kissed her burning cheek. 'I will do as you wish, dear. Try and know
me better, and be sister Juley as you used to be. I know I am
thoughtless, and horribly vain and disagreeable sometimes. Do forgive me.
I will love you truly.'

Half melting, Juliana pressed her hand.

'We are friends?' said Rose. 'Good-bye'; and her countenance lighted, and
she moved away, so changed by her happiness! Juliana was jealous of a
love strong as she deemed her own to overcome obstacles. She called to
her: 'Rose! Rose, you will not take advantage of what I have told you,
and repeat it to any one?'

Instantly Rose turned with a glance of full contempt over her shoulder.

'To whom?' she asked.

'To any one.'

'To him? He would not love me long if I did!'

Juliana burst into fresh tears, but Rose walked into the sunbeams and the
circle of the music.

Mounting Olympus, she inquired whether Ferdinand was within hail, as they
were pledged to dance the first dance together. A few hints were given,
and then Rose learnt that Ferdinand had been dismissed.

'And where is he?' she cried with her accustomed impetuosity. 'Mama!--of
course you did not accuse him--but, Mama! could you possibly let him go
with the suspicion that you thought him guilty of writing an anonymous
letter?'

'Not at all,' Lady Jocelyn replied. 'Only the handwriting was so
extremely like, and he was the only person who knew the address and the
circumstances, and who could have a motive--though I don't quite see what
it is--I thought it as well to part for a time.'

'But that's sophistry!' said Rose. 'You accuse or you exonerate. Nobody
can be half guilty. If you do not hold him innocent you are unjust!' Lady
Jocelyn rejoined: 'Yes? It's singular what a stock of axioms young people
have handy for their occasions.'

Rose loudly announced that she would right this matter.

'I can't think where Rose gets her passion for hot water,' said her
mother, as Rose ran down the ledge.

Two or three young gentlemen tried to engage her for a dance. She gave
them plenty of promises, and hurried on till she met Evan, and, almost
out of breath, told him the shameful injustice that had been done to her
friend.

'Mama is such an Epicurean! I really think she is worse than Papa. This
disgraceful letter looks like Ferdinand's writing, and she tells him so;
and, Evan! will you believe that instead of being certain it's impossible
any gentleman could do such a thing, she tells Ferdinand she shall feel
more comfortable if she doesn't see him for some time? Poor Ferdinand! He
has had so much to bear!'

Too sure of his darling to be envious now of any man she pitied, Evan
said, 'I would forfeit my hand on his innocence!'

'And so would I,' echoed Rose. 'Come to him with me, dear. Or no,' she
added, with a little womanly discretion, 'perhaps it would not be so
well--you're not very much cast down by what happened at dinner?'

'My darling! I think of you.'

'Of me, dear? Concealment is never of any service. What there is to be
known people may as well know at once. They'll gossip for a month, and
then forget it. Your mother is dreadfully outspoken, certainly; but she
has better manners than many ladies--I mean people in a position: you
understand me? But suppose, dear, this had happened, and I had said
nothing to Mama, and then we had to confess? Ah, you'll find I'm wiser
than you imagine, Mr. Evan.'

'Haven't I submitted to somebody's lead?'

'Yes, but with a sort of "under protest." I saw it by the mouth. Not
quite natural. You have been moody ever since--just a little. I suppose
it's our manly pride. But I'm losing time. Will you promise me not to
brood over that occurrence? Think of me. Think everything of me. I am
yours; and, dearest, if I love you, need you care what anybody else
thinks? We will soon change their opinion.'

'I care so little,' said Evan, somewhat untruthfully, 'that till you
return I shall go and sit with my mother.'

'Oh, she has gone. She made her dear old antiquated curtsey to Mama and
the company. "If my son has not been guilty of deception, I will leave
him to your good pleasure, my lady." That's what she said. Mama likes
her, I know. But I wish she didn't mouth her words so precisely: it
reminds me of--' the Countess, Rose checked herself from saying.
'Good-bye. Thank heaven! the worst has happened. Do you know what I
should do if I were you, and felt at all distressed? I should keep
repeating,' Rose looked archly and deeply up under his eyelids, "'I am
the son of a tradesman, and Rose loves me," over and over, and then, if
you feel ashamed, what is it of?'

She nodded adieu, laughing at her own idea of her great worth; an idea
very firmly fixed in her fair bosom, notwithstanding. Mrs. Melville said
of her, 'I used to think she had pride.' Lady Jocelyn answered, 'So she
has. The misfortune is that it has taken the wrong turning.'

Evan watched the figure that was to him as that of an angel--no less! She
spoke so frankly to them as she passed: or here and there went on with a
light laugh. It seemed an act of graciousness that she should open her
mouth to one! And, indeed, by virtue of a pride which raised her to the
level of what she thought it well to do, Rose was veritably on higher
ground than any present. She no longer envied her friend Jenny, who,
emerging from the shades, allured by the waltz, dislinked herself from
William's arm, and whispered exclamations of sorrow at the scene created
by Mr. Harrington's mother. Rose patted her hand, and said: 'Thank you,
Jenny dear but don't be sorry. I'm glad. It prevents a number of private
explanations.'

'Still, dear!' Jenny suggested.

'Oh! of course, I should like to lay my whip across the shoulders of the
person who arranged the conspiracy,' said Rose. 'And afterwards I don't
mind returning thanks to him, or her, or them.'

William cried out, 'I 'm always on your side, Rose.'

'And I'll be Jenny's bridesmaid,' rejoined Rose, stepping blithely away
from them.

Evan debated whither to turn when Rose was lost to his eyes. He had no
heart for dancing. Presently a servant approached, and said that Mr.
Harry particularly desired to see him. From Harry's looks at table, Evan
judged that the interview was not likely to be amicable. He asked the
direction he was to take, and setting out with long strides, came in
sight of Raikes, who walked in gloom, and was evidently labouring under
one of his mountains of melancholy. He affected to be quite out of the
world; but finding that Evan took the hint in his usual prosy manner, was
reduced to call after him, and finally to run and catch him.

'Haven't you one single spark of curiosity?' he began.

'What about?' said Evan.

'Why, about my amazing luck! You haven't asked a question. A matter of
course.'

Evan complimented him by asking a question: saying that Jack's luck
certainly was wonderful.

'Wonderful, you call it,' said Jack, witheringly. 'And what's more
wonderful is, that I'd give up all for quiet quarters in the Green
Dragon. I knew I was prophetic. I knew I should regret that peaceful
hostelry. Diocletian, if you like. I beg you to listen. I can't walk so
fast without danger.'

'Well, speak out, man. What's the matter with you?' cried Evan,
impatiently.

Jack shook his head: 'I see a total absence of sympathy,' he remarked. 'I
can't.'

'Then stand out of the way.'

Jack let him pass, exclaiming, with cold irony, 'I will pay homage to a
loftier Nine!'

Mr. Raikes could not in his soul imagine that Evan was really so little
inquisitive concerning a business of such importance as the trouble that
possessed him. He watched his friend striding off, incredulously, and
then commenced running in pursuit.

'Harrington, I give in; I surrender; you reduce me to prose. Thy nine
have conquered my nine!--pardon me, old fellow. I'm immensely upset. This
is the first day in my life that I ever felt what indigestion is. Egad,
I've got something to derange the best digestion going!

'Look here, Harrington. What happened to you today, I declare I think
nothing of. You owe me your assistance, you do, indeed; for if it hadn't
been for the fearful fascinations of your sister--that divine Countess--I
should have been engaged to somebody by this time, and profited by the
opportunity held out to me, and which is now gone. I 'm disgraced. I 'm
known. And the worst of it is, I must face people. I daren't turn tail.
Did you ever hear of such a dilemma?'

'Ay,' quoth Evan, 'what is it?'

Raikes turned pale. 'Then you haven't heard of it?' 'Not a word.'

'Then it's all for me to tell. I called on Messrs. Grist. I dined at the
Aurora afterwards. Depend upon it, Harrington, we're led by a star. I
mean, fellows with anything in them are. I recognized our Fallow field
host, and thinking to draw him out, I told our mutual histories. Next day
I went to these Messrs. Grist. They proposed the membership for Fallow
field, five hundred a year, and the loan of a curricle, on condition. It
's singular, Harrington; before anybody knew of the condition I didn't
care about it a bit. It seemed to me childish. Who would think of minding
wearing a tin plate? But now!--the sufferings of Orestes--what are they
to mine? He wasn't tied to his Furies. They did hover a little above him;
but as for me, I'm scorched; and I mustn't say where: my mouth is locked;
the social laws which forbid the employment of obsolete words arrest my
exclamations of despair. What do you advise?'

Evan stared a moment at the wretched object, whose dream of meeting a
beneficent old gentleman had brought him to be the sport of a cynical
farceur. He had shivers on his own account, seeing something of himself
magnified, and he loathed the fellow, only to feel more acutely what a
stigma may be.

'It 's a case I can't advise in,' he said, as gently as he could. 'I
should be off the grounds in a hurry.'

'And then I'm where I was before I met the horrid old brute!' Raikes
moaned.

'I told him over a pint of port-and noble stuff is that Aurora port!--I
told him--I amused him till he was on the point of bursting--I told him I
was such a gentleman as the world hadn't seen--minus money. So he
determined to launch me. He said I should lead the life of such a
gentleman as the world had not yet seen--on that simple condition, which
appeared to me childish, a senile whim; rather an indulgence of his.'

Evan listened to the tribulations of his friend as he would to those of a
doll--the sport of some experimental child. By this time he knew
something of old Tom Cogglesby, and was not astonished that he should
have chosen John Raikes to play one of his farces on. Jack turned off
abruptly the moment he saw they were nearing human figures, but soon
returned to Evan's side, as if for protection.

'Hoy! Harrington!' shouted Harry, beckoning to him. 'Come, make haste!
I'm in a deuce of a mess.'

The two Wheedles--Susan and Polly--were standing in front of him, and
after his call to Evan, he turned to continue some exhortation or appeal
to the common sense of women, largely indulged in by young men when the
mischief is done.

'Harrington, do speak to her. She looks upon you as a sort of parson. I
can't make her believe I didn't send for her. Of course, she knows I 'm
fond of her. My dear fellow,' he whispered, 'I shall be ruined if my
grandmother hears of it. Get her away, please. Promise anything.'

Evan took her hand and asked for the child.

'Quite well, sir,' faltered Susan.

'You should not have come here.'

Susan stared, and commenced whimpering: 'Didn't you wish it, sir?'

'Oh, she's always thinking of being made a lady of,' cried Polly. 'As if
Mr. Harry was going to do that. It wants a gentleman to do that.'

'The carriage came for me, sir, in the afternoon,' said Susan,
plaintively, 'with your compliments, and would I come. I thought--'

'What carriage?' asked Evan.

Raikes, who was ogling Polly, interposed grandly, 'Mine!'

'And you sent in my name for this girl to come here?' Evan turned
wrathfully on him.

'My dear Harrington, when you hit you knock down. The wise require but
one dose of experience. The Countess wished it, and I did dispatch.'

'The Countess!' Harry exclaimed; 'Jove! do you mean to say that the
Countess--'

'De Saldar,' added Jack. 'In Britain none were worthy found.'

Harry gave a long whistle.

'Leave at once,' said Evan to Susan. 'Whatever you may want send to me
for. And when you think you can meet your parents, I will take you to
them. Remember that is what you must do.'

'Make her give up that stupidness of hers, about being made a lady of,
Mr. Harrington,' said the inveterate Polly.

Susan here fell a-weeping.

'I would go, sir,' she said. 'I 'm sure I would obey you: but I can't. I
can't go back to the inn. They 're beginning to talk about me,
because--because I can't--can't pay them, and I'm ashamed.'

Evan looked at Harry.

'I forgot,' the latter mumbled, but his face was crimson. He put his
hands in his pockets. 'Do you happen to have a note or so?' he asked.

Evan took him aside and gave him what he had; and this amount, without
inspection or reserve, Harry offered to Susan. She dashed his hand
impetuously from her sight.

'There, give it to me,' said Polly. 'Oh, Mr. Harry! what a young man you
are!'

Whether from the rebuff, or the reproach, or old feelings reviving, Harry
was moved to go forward, and lay his hand on Susan's shoulder and mutter
something in her ear that softened her.

Polly thrust the notes into her bosom, and with a toss of her nose, as
who should say, 'Here 's nonsense they 're at again,' tapped Susan on the
other shoulder, and said imperiously: 'Come, Miss!'

Hurrying out a dozen sentences in one, Harry ended by suddenly kissing
Susan's cheek, and then Polly bore her away; and Harry, with great
solemnity, said to Evan:

''Pon my honour, I think I ought to! I declare I think I love that girl.
What's one's family? Why shouldn't you button to the one that just suits
you? That girl, when she's dressed, and in good trim, by Jove! nobody 'd
know her from a born lady. And as for grammar, I'd soon teach her that.'

Harry began to whistle: a sign in him that he was thinking his hardest.

'I confess to being considerably impressed by the maid Wheedle,' said
Raikes.

'Would you throw yourself away on her?' Evan inquired.

Apparently forgetting how he stood, Mr. Raikes replied:

'You ask, perhaps, a little too much of me. One owes consideration to
one's position. In the world's eyes a matrimonial slip outweighs a
peccadillo. No. To much the maid might wheedle me, but to Hymen! She's
decidedly fresh and pert--the most delicious little fat lips and cocky
nose; but cease we to dwell on her, or of us two, to! one will be
undone.'

Harry burst into a laugh: 'Is this the T.P. for Fallow field?'

'M.P. I think you mean,' quoth Raikes, serenely; but a curious glance
being directed on him, and pursuing him pertinaciously, it was as if the
pediment of the lofty monument he topped were smitten with violence. He
stammered an excuse, and retreated somewhat as it is the fashion to do
from the presence of royalty, followed by Harry's roar of laughter, in
which Evan cruelly joined.

'Gracious powers!' exclaimed the victim of ambition, 'I'm laughed at by
the son of a tailor!' and he edged once more into the shade of trees.

It was a strange sight for Harry's relatives to see him arm-in-arm with
the man he should have been kicking, challenging, denouncing, or whatever
the code prescribes: to see him talking to this young man earnestly,
clinging to him affectionately, and when he separated from him, heartily
wringing his hand. Well might they think that there was something
extraordinary in these Harringtons. Convicted of Tailordom, these
Harringtons appeared to shine with double lustre. How was it? They were
at a loss to say. They certainly could say that the Countess was
egregiously affected and vulgar; but who could be altogether complacent
and sincere that had to fight so hard a fight? In this struggle with
society I see one of the instances where success is entirely to be
honoured and remains a proof of merit. For however boldly antagonism may
storm the ranks of society, it will certainly be repelled, whereas
affinity cannot be resisted; and they who, against obstacles of birth,
claim and keep their position among the educated and refined, have that
affinity. It is, on the whole, rare, so that society is not often
invaded. I think it will have to front Jack Cade again before another Old
Mel and his progeny shall appear. You refuse to believe in Old Mel? You
know not nature's cunning.

Mrs. Shorne, Mrs. Melville, Miss Carrington, and many of the guests who
observed Evan moving from place to place, after the exposure, as they
called it, were amazed at his audacity. There seemed such a quietly
superb air about him. He would not look out of his element; and this,
knowing what they knew, was his offence. He deserved some commendation
for still holding up his head, but it was love and Rose who kept the
fires of his heart alive.

The sun had sunk. The figures on the summit of Parnassus were seen
bobbing in happy placidity against the twilight sky. The sun had sunk,
and many of Mr. Raikes' best things were unspoken. Wandering about in his
gloom, he heard a feminine voice:

'Yes, I will trust you.'

'You will not repent it,' was answered.

Recognizing the Duke, Mr. Raikes cleared his throat.

'A-hem, your Grace! This is how the days should pass. I think we should
diurnally station a good London band on high, and play his Majesty to
bed--the sun. My opinion is, it would improve the crops. I'm not, as yet,
a landed proprietor--'

The Duke stepped aside with him, and Raikes addressed no one for the next
twenty minutes. When he next came forth Parnassus was half deserted. It
was known that old Mrs. Bonner had been taken with a dangerous attack,
and under this third blow the pic-nic succumbed. Simultaneously with the
messenger that brought the news to Lady Jocelyn, one approached Evan, and
informed him that the Countess de Saldar urgently entreated him to come
to the house without delay. He also wished to speak a few words to her,
and stepped forward briskly. He had no prophetic intimations of the
change this interview would bring upon him.



CHAPTER XXXIII

THE HERO TAKES HIS RANK IN THE ORCHESTRA

The Countess was not in her dressing-room when Evan presented himself.
She was in attendance on Mrs. Bonner, Conning said; and the primness of
Conning was a thing to have been noticed by any one save a dreamy youth
in love. Conning remained in the room, keeping distinctly aloof. Her
duties absorbed her, but a presiding thought mechanically jerked back her
head from time to time: being the mute form of, 'Well, I never!' in
Conning's rank of life and intellectual capacity. Evan remained quite
still in a chair, and Conning was certainly a number of paces beyond
suspicion, when the Countess appeared, and hurling at the maid one of
those feminine looks which contain huge quartos of meaning, vented the
cold query:

'Pray, why did you not come to me, as you were commanded?'

'I was not aware, my lady,' Conning drew up to reply, and performed with
her eyes a lofty rejection of the volume cast at her, and a threat of
several for offensive operations, if need were.

The Countess spoke nearer to what she was implying 'You know I object to
this: it is not the first time.'

'Would your ladyship please to say what your ladyship means?'

In return for this insolent challenge to throw off the mask, the Countess
felt justified in punishing her by being explicit. 'Your irregularities
are not of yesterday,' she said, kindly making use of a word of double
signification still.

'Thank you, my lady.' Conning accepted the word in its blackest meaning.
'I am obliged to you. If your ladyship is to be believed, my character is
not worth much. But I can make distinctions, my lady.'

Something very like an altercation was continued in a sharp, brief
undertone; and then Evan, waking up to the affairs of the hour, heard
Conning say:

'I shall not ask your ladyship to give me a character.'

The Countess answering with pathos: 'It would, indeed, be to give you
one.'

He was astonished that the Countess should burst into tears when Conning
had departed, and yet more so that his effort to console her should bring
a bolt of wrath upon himself.

'Now, Evan, now see what you have done for us-do, and rejoice at it. The
very menials insult us. You heard what that creature said? She can make
distinctions. Oh! I could beat her. They know it: all the servants know
it: I can see it in their faces. I feel it when I pass them. The insolent
wretches treat us as impostors; and this Conning--to defy me! Oh! it
comes of my devotion to you. I am properly chastized. I passed Rose's
maid on the stairs, and her reverence was barely perceptible.'

Evan murmured that he was very sorry, adding, foolishly: 'Do you really
care, Louisa, for what servants think and say?'

The Countess sighed deeply: 'Oh! you are too thickskinned! Your mother
from top to toe! It is too dreadful! What have I done to deserve it? Oh,
Evan, Evan!'

Her head dropped in her lap. There was something ludicrous to Evan in
this excess of grief on account of such a business; but he was
tender-hearted and wrought upon to declare that, whether or not he was to
blame for his mother's intrusion that afternoon, he was ready to do what
he could to make up to the Countess for her sufferings: whereat the
Countess sighed again: asked him what he possibly could do, and doubted
his willingness to accede to the most trifling request.

'No; I do in verity believe that were I to desire you to do aught for
your own good alone, you would demur, Van.'

He assured her that she was mistaken.

'We shall see,' she said.

'And if once or twice, I have run counter to you, Louisa--'

'Abominable language!' cried the Countess, stopping her ears like a
child. 'Do not excruciate me so. You laugh! My goodness! what will you
come to!'

Evan checked his smile, and, taking her hand, said:

'I must tell you; that, on the whole, I see nothing to regret in what has
happened to-day. You may notice a change in the manners of the servants
and some of the country squiresses, but I find none in the bearing of the
real ladies, the true gentlemen, to me.'

'Because the change is too fine for you to perceive it,' interposed the
Countess.

'Rose, then, and her mother, and her father!' Evan cried impetuously.

'As for Lady Jocelyn!' the Countess shrugged:

'And Sir Franks!' her head shook: 'and Rose, Rose is, simply self-willed;
a "she will" or "she won't" sort of little person. No criterion!
Henceforth the world is against us. We have to struggle with it: it does
not rank us of it!'

'Your feeling on the point is so exaggerated, my dear Louisa', said Evan,
'one can't bring reason to your ears. The tattle we shall hear we shall
outlive. I care extremely for the good opinion of men, but I prefer my
own; and I do not lose it because my father was in trade.'

'And your own name, Evan Harrington, is on a shop,' the Countess struck
in, and watched him severely from under her brow, glad to mark that he
could still blush.

'Oh, heaven!' she wailed to increase the effect, 'on a shop! a brother of
mine!'

'Yes, Louisa. It may not last . . . I did it--is it not better that a son
should blush, than cast dishonour on his father's memory?'

'Ridiculous boy-notion!'

'Rose has pardoned it, Louisa--cannot you? I find that the naturally
vulgar and narrow-headed people, and cowards who never forego mean
advantages, are those only who would condemn me and my conduct in that.'

'And you have joy in your fraction of the world left to you!' exclaimed
his female-elder.

Changeing her manner to a winning softness, she said:

'Let me also belong to the very small party! You have been really
romantic, and most generous and noble; only the shop smells! But, never
mind, promise me you will not enter it.'

'I hope not,' said Evan.

'You do hope that you will not officiate? Oh, Evan the eternal
contemplation of gentlemen's legs! think of that! Think of yourself
sculptured in that attitude!' Innumerable little prickles and stings shot
over Evan's skin.

'There--there, Louisa!' he said, impatiently; 'spare your ridicule. We go
to London to-morrow, and when there I expect to hear that I have an
appointment, and that this engagement is over.' He rose and walked up and
down the room.

'I shall not be prepared to go to-morrow,' remarked the Countess, drawing
her figure up stiffly.

'Oh! well, if you can stay, Andrew will take charge of you, I dare say.'

'No, my dear, Andrew will not--a nonentity cannot--you must.'

'Impossible, Louisa,' said Evan, as one who imagines he is uttering a
thing of little consequence. 'I promised Rose.'

'You promised Rose that you would abdicate and retire? Sweet, loving
girl!'

Evan made no answer.

'You will stay with me, Evan.'

'I really can't,' he said in his previous careless tone.

'Come and sit down,' cried the Countess, imperiously.

'The first trifle is refused. It does not astonish me. I will honour you
now by talking seriously to you. I have treated you hitherto as a child.
Or, no--' she stopped her mouth; 'it is enough if I tell you, dear, that
poor Mrs. Bonner is dying, and that she desires my attendance on her to
refresh her spirit with readings on the Prophecies, and Scriptural
converse. No other soul in the house can so soothe her.'

'Then, stay,' said Evan.

'Unprotected in the midst of enemies! Truly!'

'I think, Louisa, if you can call Lady Jocelyn an enemy, you must read
the Scriptures by a false light.'

'The woman is an utter heathen!' interjected the Countess. 'An infidel
can be no friend. She is therefore the reverse. Her opinions embitter her
mother's last days. But now you will consent to remain with me, dear
Van!'

An implacable negative responded to the urgent appeal of her eyes.

'By the way,' he said, for a diversion, 'did you know of a girl stopping
at an inn in Fallow field?'

'Know a barmaid?' the Countess's eyes and mouth were wide at the
question.

'Did you send Raikes for her to-day?'

'Did Mr. Raikes--ah, Evan! that creature reminds me, you have no sense of
contrast. For a Brazilian ape--he resembles, if he is not truly one--what
contrast is he to an English gentleman! His proximity and
acquaintance--rich as he may be--disfigure you. Study contrast!'

Evan had to remind her that she had not answered him: whereat she
exclaimed: 'One would really think you had never been abroad. Have you
not evaded me, rather?'

The Countess commenced fanning her languid brows, and then pursued: 'Now,
my dear brother, I may conclude that you will acquiesce in my moderate
wishes. You remain. My venerable friend cannot last three days. She is
on the brink of a better world! I will confide to you that it is of the
utmost importance we should be here, on the spot, until the sad
termination! That is what I summoned you for. You are now at liberty.
Ta-ta, as soon as you please.'

She had baffled his little cross-examination with regard to Raikes, but
on the other point he was firm. She would listen to nothing: she affected
that her mandate had gone forth, and must be obeyed; tapped with her
foot, fanned deliberately, and was a consummate queen, till he turned the
handle of the door, when her complexion deadened, she started up,
trembling, and tripping towards him, caught him by the arm, and said:
'Stop! After all that I have sacrificed for you! As well try to raise the
dead as a Dawley from the dust he grovels in! Why did I consent to visit
this place? It was for you. I came, I heard that you had disgraced
yourself in drunkenness at Fallow field, and I toiled to eclipse that,
and I did. Young Jocelyn thought you were what you are I could spit the
word at you! and I dazzled him to give you time to win this minx, who
will spin you like a top if you get her. That Mr. Forth knew it as well,
and that vile young Laxley. They are gone! Why are they gone? Because
they thwarted me--they crossed your interests--I said they should go.
George Uplift is going to-day. The house is left to us; and I believe
firmly that Mrs. Bonner's will contains a memento of the effect of our
frequent religious conversations. So you would leave now? I suspect
nobody, but we are all human, and Wills would not have been tampered with
for the first time. Besides, and the Countess's imagination warmed till
she addressed her brother as a confederate, 'we shall then see to whom
Beckley Court is bequeathed. Either way it may be yours. Yours! and you
suffer their plots to drive you forth. Do you not perceive that Mama was
brought here to-day on purpose to shame us and cast us out? We are
surrounded by conspiracies, but if our faith is pure who can hurt us? If
I had not that consolation--would that you had it, too!--would it be
endurable to me to see those menials whispering and showing their forced
respect? As it is, I am fortified to forgive them. I breathe another
atmosphere. Oh, Evan! you did not attend to Mr. Parsley's beautiful last
sermon. The Church should have been your vocation.'

From vehemence the Countess had subsided to a mournful gentleness. She
had been too excited to notice any changes in her brother's face during
her speech, and when he turned from the door, and still eyeing her
fixedly, led her to a chair, she fancied from his silence that she had
subdued and convinced him. A delicious sense of her power, succeeded by a
weary reflection that she had constantly to employ it, occupied her mind,
and when presently she looked up from the shade of her hand, it was to
agitate her head pitifully at her brother.

'All this you have done for me, Louisa,' he said.

'Yes, Evan,--all!' she fell into his tone.

'And you are the cause of Laxley's going? Did you know anything of that
anonymous letter?'

He was squeezing her hand-with grateful affection, as she was deluded to
imagine.

'Perhaps, dear,--a little,' her conceit prompted her to admit.

'Did you write it?'

He gazed intently into her eyes, and as the question shot like a javelin,
she tried ineffectually to disengage her fingers; her delusion waned; she
took fright, but it was too late; he had struck the truth out of her
before she could speak. Her spirit writhed like a snake in his hold.
Innumerable things she was ready to say, and strove to; the words would
not form on her lips.

'I will be answered, Louisa.'

The stern manner he had assumed gave her no hope of eluding him. With an
inward gasp, and a sensation of nakedness altogether new to her, dismal,
and alarming, she felt that she could not lie. Like a creature forsaken
of her staunchest friend, she could have flung herself to the floor. The
next instant her natural courage restored her. She jumped up and stood at
bay.

'Yes. I did.'

And now he was weak, and she was strong, and used her strength.

'I wrote it to save you. Yes. Call on your Creator, and be my judge, if
you dare. Never, never will you meet a soul more utterly devoted to you,
Evan. This Mr. Forth, this Laxley, I said, should go, because they were
resolved to ruin you, and make you base. They are gone. The
responsibility I take on myself. Nightly--during the remainder of my
days--I will pray for pardon.'

He raised his head to ask sombrely: 'Is your handwriting like Laxley's?'

'It seems so,' she answered, with a pitiful sneer for one who could
arrest her exaltation to inquire about minutiae. 'Right or wrong, it is
done, and if you choose to be my judge, think whether your own conscience
is clear. Why did you come here? Why did you stay? You have your free
will,--do you deny that? Oh, I will take the entire blame, but you must
not be a hypocrite, Van. You know you were aware. We had no confidences.
I was obliged to treat you like a child; but for you to pretend to
suppose that roses grow in your path--oh, that is paltry! You are a
hypocrite or an imbecile, if that is your course.'

Was he not something of the former? The luxurious mist in which he had
been living, dispersed before his sister's bitter words, and, as she
designed he should, he felt himself her accomplice. But, again, reason
struggled to enlighten him; for surely he would never have done a thing
so disproportionate to the end to be gamed! It was the unconnected action
of his brain that thus advised him. No thoroughly-fashioned,
clear-spirited man conceives wickedness impossible to him: but wickedness
so largely mixed with folly, the best of us may reject as not among our
temptations. Evan, since his love had dawned, had begun to talk with his
own nature, and though he knew not yet how much it would stretch or
contract, he knew that he was weak and could not perform moral wonders
without severe struggles. The cynic may add, if he likes--or without
potent liquors.

Could he be his sister's judge? It is dangerous for young men to be too
good. They are so sweeping in their condemnations, so sublime in their
conceptions of excellence, and the most finished Puritan cannot out-do
their demands upon frail humanity. Evan's momentary self-examination
saved him from this, and he told the Countess, with a sort of cold
compassion, that he himself dared not blame her.

His tone was distinctly wanting in admiration of her, but she was
somewhat over-wrought, and leaned her shoulder against him, and became
immediately his affectionate, only too-zealous, sister; dearly to be
loved, to be forgiven, to be prized: and on condition of inserting a
special petition for pardon in her orisons, to live with a calm
conscience, and to be allowed to have her own way with him during the
rest of her days.

It was a happy union--a picture that the Countess was lured to admire in
the glass.

Sad that so small a murmur should destroy it for ever!

'What?' cried the Countess, bursting from his arm.

'Go?' she emphasized with the hardness of determined unbelief, as if
plucking the words, one by one, out of her reluctant ears. 'Go to Lady
Jocelyn, and tell her I wrote the letter?'

'You can do no less, I fear,' said Evan, eyeing the floor and breathing a
deep breath.

'Then I did hear you correctly? Oh, you must be mad-idiotic! There, pray
go away, Evan. Come in the morning. You are too much for my nerves.'

Evan rose, putting out his hand as if to take hers and plead with her.
She rejected the first motion, and repeated her desire for him to leave
her; saying, cheerfully--

'Good night, dear; I dare say we shan't meet till the morning.'

'You can't let this injustice continue a single night, Louisa?' said he.

She was deep in the business of arrangeing a portion of her attire.

'Go-go; please,' she responded.

Lingering, he said: 'If I go, it will be straight to Lady Jocelyn.'

She stamped angrily.

'Only go!' and then she found him gone, and she stooped lower to the
glass, to mark if the recent agitation were observable under her eyes.
There, looking at herself, her heart dropped heavily in her bosom. She
ran to the door and hurried swiftly after Evan, pulling him back
speechlessly.

'Where are you going, Evan?'

'To Lady Jocelyn.'

The unhappy victim of her devotion stood panting.

'If you go, I--I take poison!' It was for him now to be struck; but he
was suffering too strong an anguish to be susceptible to mock tragedy.
The Countess paused to study him. She began to fear her brother. 'I
will!' she reiterated wildly, without moving him at all. And the quiet
inflexibility of his face forbade the ultimate hope which lies in giving
men a dose of hysterics when they are obstinate. She tried by taunts and
angry vituperations to make him look fierce, if but an instant, to
precipitate her into an exhibition she was so well prepared for.

'Evan! what! after all my love, my confidence in you--I need not have
told you--to expose us! Brother? would you? Oh!'

'I will not let this last another hour,' said Evan, firmly, at the same
time seeking to caress her. She spurned his fruitless affection, feeling,
nevertheless, how cruel was her fate; for, with any other save a brother,
she had arts at her disposal to melt the manliest resolutions. The glass
showed her that her face was pathetically pale; the tones of her voice
were rich and harrowing. What did they avail with a brother? 'Promise
me,' she cried eagerly, 'promise me to stop here--on this spot-till I
return.'

The promise was extracted. The Countess went to fetch Caroline. Evan did
not count the minutes. One thought was mounting in his brain-the scorn of
Rose. He felt that he had lost her. Lost her when he had just won her! He
felt it, without realizing it. The first blows of an immense grief are
dull, and strike the heart through wool, as it were. The belief of the
young in their sorrow has to be flogged into them, on the good old
educational principle. Could he do less than this he was about to do?
Rose had wedded her noble nature to him, and it was as much her spirit as
his own that urged him thus to forfeit her, to be worthy of her by
assuming unworthiness.

There he sat neither conning over his determination nor the cause for it,
revolving Rose's words about Laxley, and nothing else. The words were so
sweet and so bitter; every now and then the heavy smiting on his heart
set it quivering and leaping, as the whip starts a jaded horse.

Meantime the Countess was participating in a witty conversation in the
drawing-room with Sir John and the Duke, Miss Current, and others; and it
was not till after she had displayed many graces, and, as one or two
ladies presumed to consider, marked effrontery, that she rose and drew
Caroline away with her. Returning to her dressing-room, she found that
Evan had faithfully kept his engagement; he was on the exact spot where
she had left him.

Caroline came to him swiftly, and put her hand to his forehead that she
might the better peruse his features, saying, in her mellow caressing
voice: 'What is this, dear Van, that you will do? Why do you look so
wretched?'

'Has not Louisa told you?'

'She has told me something, dear, but I don't know what it is. That you
are going to expose us? What further exposure do we need? I'm sure, Van,
my pride--what I had--is gone. I have none left!'

Evan kissed her brows warmly. An explanation, full of the Countess's
passionate outcries of justification, necessity, and innocence in higher
than fleshly eyes, was given, and then the three were silent.

'But, Van,' Caroline commenced, deprecatingly, 'my darling! of what
use--now! Whether right or wrong, why should you, why should you, when
the thing is done, dear?--think!'

'And you, too, would let another suffer under an unjust accusation?' said
Evan.

'But, dearest, it is surely your duty to think of your family first. Have
we not been afflicted enough? Why should you lay us under this fresh
burden?'

'Because it 's better to bear all now than a life of remorse,' answered
Evan.

'But this Mr. Laxley--I cannot pity him; he has behaved so insolently to
you throughout! Let him suffer.'

'Lady Jocelyn,' said Evan, 'has been unintentionally unjust to him, and
after her kindness--apart from the right or wrong--I will not--I can't
allow her to continue so.'

'After her kindness!' echoed the Countess, who had been fuming at
Caroline's weak expostulations. 'Kindness! Have I not done ten times for
these Jocelyns what they have done for us? O mio Deus! why, I have
bestowed on them the membership for Fallow field: I have saved her from
being a convicted liar this very day. Worse! for what would have been
talked of the morals of the house, supposing the scandal. Oh! indeed I
was tempted to bring that horrid mad Captain into the house face to face
with his flighty doll of a wife, as I, perhaps, should have done, acting
by the dictates of my conscience. I lied for Lady Jocelyn, and handed the
man to a lawyer, who withdrew him. And this they owe to me! Kindness?
They have given us bed and board, as the people say. I have repaid them
for that.'

'Pray be silent, Louisa,' said Evan, getting up hastily, for the sick
sensation Rose had experienced came over him. His sister's plots, her
untruth, her coarseness, clung to him and seemed part of his blood. He
now had a personal desire to cut himself loose from the wretched
entanglement revealed to him, whatever it cost.

'Are you really, truly going?' Caroline exclaimed, for he was near the
door.

'At a quarter to twelve at night!' sneered the Countess, still imagining
that he, like herself, must be partly acting.

'But, Van, is it--dearest, think! is it manly for a brother to go and
tell of his sister? And how would it look?'

Evan smiled. 'Is it that that makes you unhappy? Louisa's name will not
be mentioned--be sure of that.'

Caroline was stooping forward to him. Her figure straightened: 'Good
Heaven, Evan! you are not going to take it on yourself? Rose!--she will
hate you.'

'God help me!' he cried internally.

'Oh, Evan, darling! consider, reflect!' She fell on her knees, catching
his hand. 'It is worse for us that you should suffer, dearest! Think of
the dreadful meanness and baseness of what you will have to acknowledge.'

'Yes!' sighed the youth, and his eyes, in his extreme pain, turned to the
Countess reproachfully.

'Think, dear,' Caroline hurried on, 'he gains nothing for whom you do
this--you lose all. It is not your deed. You will have to speak an
untruth. Your ideas are wrong--wrong, I know they are. You will have to
lie. But if you are silent, the little, little blame that may attach to
us will pass away, and we shall be happy in seeing our brother happy.'

'You are talking to Evan as if he had religion,' said the Countess, with
steady sedateness. And at that moment, from the sublimity of his pagan
virtue, the young man groaned for some pure certain light to guide him:
the question whether he was about to do right made him weak. He took
Caroline's head between his two hands, and kissed her mouth. The act
brought Rose to his senses insufferably, and she--his Goddess of truth
and his sole guiding light-spurred him afresh.

'My family's dishonour is mine, Caroline. Say nothing more--don't think
of me. I go to Lady Jocelyn tonight. To-morrow we leave, and there's the
end. Louisa, if you have any new schemes for my welfare, I beg you to
renounce them.'

'Gratitude I never expected from a Dawley!' the Countess retorted.

'Oh, Louisa! he is going!' cried Caroline; 'kneel to him with me: stop
him: Rose loves him, and he is going to make her hate him.'

'You can't talk reason to one who's mad,' said the Countess, more like
the Dawley she sprang from than it would have pleased her to know.

'My darling! My own Evan! it will kill me,' Caroline exclaimed, and
passionately imploring him, she looked so hopelessly beautiful, that Evan
was agitated, and caressed her, while he said, softly: 'Where our honour
is not involved I would submit to your smallest wish.'

'It involves my life--my destiny!' murmured Caroline.

Could he have known the double meaning in her words, and what a saving
this sacrifice of his was to accomplish, he would not have turned to do
it feeling abandoned of heaven and earth.

The Countess stood rigidly as he went forth. Caroline was on her knees,
sobbing.



CHAPTER XXXIV

A PAGAN SACRIFICE

Three steps from the Countess's chamber door, the knot of Evan's
resolution began to slacken. The clear light of his simple duty grew
cloudy and complex. His pride would not let him think that he was
shrinking, but cried out in him, 'Will you be believed?' and whispered
that few would believe him guilty of such an act. Yet, while something
said that full surely Lady Jocelyn would not, a vague dread that Rose
might, threw him back on the luxury of her love and faith in him. He
found himself hoping that his statement would be laughed at. Then why
make it?

No: that was too blind a hope. Many would take him at his word; all--all
save Lady Jocelyn! Rose the first! Because he stood so high with her now
he feared the fall. Ah, dazzling pinnacle! our darlings shoot us up on a
wondrous juggler's pole, and we talk familiarly to the stars, and are so
much above everybody, and try to walk like creatures with two legs,
forgetting that we have but a pin's point to stand on up there. Probably
the absence of natural motion inspires the prophecy that we must
ultimately come down: our unused legs wax morbidly restless. Evan thought
it good that Rose should lift her head to look at him; nevertheless, he
knew that Rose would turn from him the moment he descended from his
superior station. Nature is wise in her young children, though they wot
not of it, and are always trying to rush away from her. They escape their
wits sooner than their instincts.

But was not Rose involved in him, and part of him? Had he not sworn never
to renounce her? What was this but a betrayal?

Go on, young man: fight your fight. The little imps pluck at you: the big
giant assails you: the seductions of the soft-mouthed siren are not
wanting. Slacken the knot an instant, and they will all have play. And
the worst is, that you may be wrong, and they may be right! For is it,
can it be proper for you to stain the silvery whiteness of your skin by
plunging headlong into yonder pitch-bath? Consider the defilement!
Contemplate your hideous aspect on issuing from that black baptism!

As to the honour of your family, Mr. Evan Harrington, pray, of what sort
of metal consists the honour of a tailor's family?

One little impertinent imp ventured upon that question on his own
account. The clever beast was torn back and strangled instantaneously by
his experienced elders, but not before Evan's pride had answered him.
Exalted by Love, he could dread to abase himself and strip off his
glittering garments; lowered by the world, he fell back upon his innate
worth.

Yes, he was called on to prove it; he was on his way to prove it.
Surrendering his dearest and his best, casting aside his dreams, his
desires, his aspirations, for this stern duty, he at least would know
that he made himself doubly worthy of her who abandoned him, and the
world would scorn him by reason of his absolute merit. Coming to this
point, the knot of his resolve tightened again; he hugged it with the
furious zeal of a martyr.

Religion, the lack of which in him the Countess deplored, would have
guided him and silenced the internal strife. But do not despise a virtue
purely Pagan. The young who can act readily up to the Christian light are
happier, doubtless: but they are led, they are passive: I think they do
not make such capital Christians subsequently. They are never in such
danger, we know; but some in the flock are more than sheep. The heathen
ideal it is not so very easy to attain, and those who mount from it to
the Christian have, in my humble thought, a firmer footing.

So Evan fought his hard fight from the top of the stairs to the bottom. A
Pagan, which means our poor unsupported flesh, is never certain of his
victory. Now you will see him kneeling to his Gods, and anon drubbing
them; or he makes them fight for him, and is complacent at the issue.
Evan had ceased to pick his knot with one hand and pull it with the
other: but not finding Lady Jocelyn below, and hearing that she had
retired for the night, he mounted the stairs, and the strife recommenced
from the bottom to the top. Strange to say, he was almost unaware of any
struggle going on within him. The suggestion of the foolish little imp
alone was loud in the heart of his consciousness; the rest hung more in
his nerves than in his brain. He thought: 'Well, I will speak it out to
her in the morning'; and thought so sincerely, while an ominous sigh of
relief at the reprieve rose from his over-burdened bosom.

Hardly had the weary deep breath taken flight, when the figure of Lady
Jocelyn was seen advancing along the corridor, with a lamp in her hand.
She trod heavily, in a kind of march, as her habit was; her large
fully-open grey eyes looking straight ahead. She would have passed him,
and he would have let her pass, but seeing the unusual pallor on her
face, his love for this lady moved him to step forward and express a hope
that she had no present cause for sorrow.

Hearing her mother's name, Lady Jocelyn was about to return a
conventional answer. Recognizing Evan, she said:

'Ah! Mr. Harrington! Yes, I fear it's as bad as it can be. She can
scarcely outlive the night.'

Again he stood alone: his chance was gone. How could he speak to her in
her affliction? Her calm sedate visage had the beauty of its youth, when
lighted by the animation that attends meetings or farewells. In her bow
to Evan, he beheld a lovely kindness more unique, if less precious, than
anything he had ever seen on the face of Rose. Half exultingly, he
reflected that no opportunity would be allowed him now to teach that
noble head and truest of human hearts to turn from him: the clear-eyed
morrow would come: the days of the future would be bright as other days!

Wrapped in the comfort of his cowardice, he started to see Lady Jocelyn
advancing to him again.

'Mr. Harrington,' she said, 'Rose tells me you leave us early in the
morning. I may as well shake your hand now. We part very good friends. I
shall always be glad to hear of you.'

Evan pressed her hand, and bowed. 'I thank you, madam,' was all he could
answer.

'It will be better if you don't write to Rose.'

Her tone was rather that of a request than an injunction.

'I have no right to do so, my lady.'

'She considers that you have: I wish her to have, a fair trial.'

His voice quavered. The philosophic lady thought it time to leave him.

'So good-bye. I can trust you without extracting a promise. If you ever
have need of a friend, you know you are at liberty to write to me.'

'You are tired, my lady?' He put this question more to dally with what he
ought to be saying.

'Tolerably. Your sister, the Countess, relieves me in the night. I fancy
my mother finds her the better nurse of the two.'

Lady Jocelyn's face lighted in its gracious pleasant way, as she just
inclined her head: but the mention of the Countess and her attendance on
Mrs. Bonner had nerved Evan: the contrast of her hypocrisy and vile
scheming with this most open, noble nature, acted like a new force within
him. He begged Lady Jocelyn's permission to speak with her in private.
Marking his fervid appearance, she looked at him seriously.

'Is it really important?'

'I cannot rest, madam, till it is spoken.'

'I mean, it doesn't pertain to the delirium? We may sleep upon that.'

He divined her sufficiently to answer: 'It concerns a piece of injustice
done by you, madam, and which I can help you to set right.'

Lady Jocelyn stared somewhat. 'Follow me into my dressing-room,' she
said, and led the way.

Escape was no longer possible. He was on the march to execution, and into
the darkness of his brain danced John Raikes, with his grotesque
tribulations. It was the harsh savour of reality that conjured up this
flighty being, who probably never felt a sorrow or a duty. The farce Jack
lived was all that Evan's tragic bitterness could revolve, and seemed to
be the only light in his mind. You might have seen a smile on his mouth
when he was ready to ask for a bolt from heaven to crush him.

'Now,' said her ladyship, and he found that the four walls enclosed them,
'what have I been doing?'

She did not bid him be seated. Her brevity influenced him to speak to the
point.

'You have dismissed Mr. Laxley, my lady: he is innocent.'

'How do you know that?'

'Because,'--a whirl of sensations beset the wretched youth, 'because I am
guilty.'

His words had run ahead of his wits; and in answer to Lady Jocelyn's
singular exclamation he could but simply repeat them.

Her head drew back; her face was slightly raised; she looked, as he had
seen her sometimes look at the Countess, with a sort of speculative
amazement.

'And why do you come to tell me?'

'For the reason that I cannot allow you to be unjust, madam.'

'What on earth was your motive?'

Evan stood silent, flinching from her frank eyes.

'Well, well, well!' Her ladyship dropped into a chair, and thumped her
knees.

There was lawyer's blood in Lady Jocelyn's veins she had the judicial
mind. A confession was to her a confession. She tracked actions up to a
motive; but one who came voluntarily to confess needed no sifting. She
had the habit of treating things spoken as facts.

'You absolutely wrote that letter to Mrs. Evremonde's husband!'

Evan bowed, to avoid hearing his own lie.

'You discovered his address and wrote to him, and imitated Mr. Laxley's
handwriting, to effect the purpose you may have had?'

Her credulity did require his confirmation of it, and he repeated: 'It
is my deed.'

'Hum! And you sent that premonitory slip of paper to her?'

'To Mrs. Evremonde?'

'Somebody else was the author of that, perhaps?'

'It is all on me.'

'In that case, Mr. Harrington, I can only say that it's quite right you
should quit this house to-morrow morning.'

Her ladyship commenced rocking in her chair, and then added: 'May I ask,
have you madness in your family? No? Because when one can't discern a
motive, it's natural to ascribe certain acts to madness. Had Mrs.
Evremonde offended you? or Ferdinand--but one only hears of such
practices towards fortunate rivals, and now you have come to undo what
you did! I must admit, that taking the monstrousness of the act and the
inconsequence of your proceedings together, the whole affair becomes more
incomprehensible to me than it was before. Would it be unpleasant to you
to favour me with explanations?'

She saw the pain her question gave him, and, passing it, said:

'Of course you need not be told that Rose must hear of this?'

'Yes,' said Evan, 'she must hear it.'

'You know what that 's equivalent to? But, if you like, I will not speak
to her till you, have left us.'

'Instantly,' cried Evan. 'Now-to-night! I would not have her live a
minute in a false estimate of me.'

Had Lady Jocelyn's intellect been as penetrating as it was masculine, she
would have taken him and turned him inside out in a very short time; for
one who would bear to see his love look coldly on him rather than endure
a minute's false estimate of his character, and who could yet stoop to
concoct a vile plot, must either be mad or simulating the baseness for
some reason or other. She perceived no motive for the latter, and she
held him to be sound in the head, and what was spoken from the mouth she
accepted. Perhaps, also, she saw in the complication thus offered an
escape for Rose, and was the less inclined to elucidate it herself. But
if her intellect was baffled, her heart was unerring. A man proved guilty
of writing an anonymous letter would not have been allowed to stand long
in her room. She would have shown him to the door of the house speedily;
and Evan was aware in his soul that he had not fallen materially in her
esteem. He had puzzled and confused her, and partly because she had the
feeling that this young man was entirely trustworthy, and because she
never relied on her feelings, she let his own words condemn him, and did
not personally discard him. In fact, she was a veritable philosopher. She
permitted her fellows to move the world on as they would, and had no
other passions in the contemplation of the show than a cultured audience
will usually exhibit.

'Strange,--most strange! I thought I was getting old!' she said, and eyed
the culprit as judges generally are not wont to do. 'It will be a shock
to Rose. I must tell you that I can't regret it. I would not have
employed force with her, but I should have given her as strong a taste of
the world as it was in my power to give. Girls get their reason from
society. But, come! if you think you can make your case out better to
her, you shall speak to her first yourself.'

'No, my lady,' said Evan, softly.

'You would rather not?'

'I could not.'

'But, I suppose, she'll want to speak to you when she knows it.'

'I can take death from her hands, but I cannot slay myself.'

The language was natural to his condition, though the note was pitched
high. Lady Jocelyn hummed till the sound of it was over, and an idea
striking her, she said:

'Ah, by the way, have you any tremendous moral notions?'

'I don't think I have, madam.'

'People act on that mania sometimes, I believe. Do you think it an
outrage on decency for a wife to run away from a mad husband whom they
won't shut up, and take shelter with a friend? Is that the cause? Mr.
Forth is an old friend of mine. I would trust my daughter with him in a
desert, and stake my hand on his honour.'

'Oh, Lady Jocelyn!' cried Evan. 'Would to God you might ever have said
that of me! Madam, I love you. I shall never see you again. I shall never
meet one to treat me so generously. I leave you, blackened in
character--you cannot think of me without contempt. I can never hope that
this will change. But, for your kindness let me thank you.'

And as speech is poor where emotion is extreme--and he knew his own to be
especially so--he took her hand with petitioning eyes, and dropping on
one knee, reverentially kissed it.

Lady Jocelyn was human enough to like to be appreciated. She was a
veteran Pagan, and may have had the instinct that a peculiar virtue in
this young one was the spring of his conduct. She stood up and said:
'Don't forget that you have a friend here.'

The poor youth had to turn his head from her.

'You wish that I should tell Rose what you have told me at once, Mr.
Harrington?'

'Yes, my lady; I beg that you will do so.'

'Well!'

And the queer look Lady Jocelyn had been wearing dimpled into absolute
wonder. A stranger to Love's cunning, she marvelled why he should desire
to witness the scorn Rose would feel for him.

'If she's not asleep, then, she shall hear it now,' said her ladyship.
'You understand that it will be mentioned to no other person.'

'Except to Mr. Laxley, madam, to whom I shall offer the satisfaction he
may require. But I will undertake that.'

'Just as you think proper on that matter,' remarked her philosophical
ladyship, who held that man was a fighting animal, and must not have his
nature repressed.

She lighted him part of the way, and then turned off to Rose's chamber.

Would Rose believe it of him? Love combated his dismal foreboding.
Strangely, too, now that he had plunged into his pitch-bath, the guilt
seemed to cling to him, and instead of hoping serenely, or fearing
steadily, his spirit fell in a kind of abject supplication to Rose, and
blindly trusted that she would still love even if she believed him base.
In his weakness he fell so low as to pray that she might love that
crawling reptile who could creep into a house and shrink from no vileness
to win her.



CHAPTER XXXV

ROSE WOUNDED

The light of morning was yet cold along the passages of the house when
Polly Wheedle, hurrying to her young mistress, met her loosely dressed
and with a troubled face.

'What 's the matter, Polly? I was coming to you.'

'O, Miss Rose! and I was coming to you. Miss Bonner's gone back to her
convulsions again. She's had them all night. Her hair won't last till
thirty, if she keeps on giving way to temper, as I tell her: and I know
that from a barber.'

'Tush, you stupid Polly! Does she want to see me?'

'You needn't suspect that, Miss. But you quiet her best, and I thought
I'd come to you. But, gracious!'

Rose pushed past her without vouchsafing any answer to the look in her
face, and turned off to Juliana's chamber, where she was neither welcomed
nor repelled. Juliana said she was perfectly well, and that Polly was
foolishly officious: whereupon Rose ordered Polly out of the room, and
said to Juliana, kindly: 'You have not slept, dear, and I have not
either. I am so unhappy.'

Whether Rose intended by this communication to make Juliana eagerly
attentive, and to distract her from her own affair, cannot be said, but
something of the effect was produced.

'You care for him, too,' cried Rose, impetuously. 'Tell me, Juley: do you
think him capable of any base action? Do you think he would do what any
gentleman would be ashamed to own? Tell me.'

Juliana looked at Rose intently, but did not reply.

Rose jumped up from the bed. 'You hesitate, Juley? What? Could you think
so?'

Young women after a common game are shrewd. Juliana may have seen that
Rose was not steady on the plank she walked, and required support.

'I don't know,' she said, turning her cheek to her pillow.

'What an answer!' Rose exclaimed. 'Have you no opinion? What did you say
yesterday? It's silent as the grave with me: but if you do care for him,
you must think one thing or the other.'

'I suppose not, then--no,' said Juliana.

Repeating the languid words bitterly, Rose continued:

'What is it to love without having faith in him you love? You make my
mind easier.'

Juliana caught the implied taunt, and said, fretfully:

'I'm ill. You're so passionate. You don't tell me what it is. How can I
answer you?'

'Never mind,' said Rose, moving to the door, wondering why she had spoken
at all: but when Juliana sprang forward, and caught her by the dress to
stop her, and with a most unwonted outburst of affection, begged of her
to tell her all, the wound in Rose's breast began to bleed, and she was
glad to speak.

'Juley, do you-can you believe that he wrote that letter which poor
Ferdinand was--accused of writing?'

Juliana appeared to muse, and then responded: 'Why should he do such a
thing?'

'O my goodness, what a girl!' Rose interjected.

'Well, then, to please you, Rose, of course I think he is too
honourable.'

'You do think so, Juley? But if he himself confessed it--what then? You
would not believe him, would you?'

'Oh, then I can't say. Why should he condemn himself?'

'But you would know--you would know that he was a man to suffer death
rather than be guilty of the smallest baseness. His birth--what is that!'
Rose filliped her fingers: 'But his acts--what he is himself you would be
sure of, would you not? Dear Juley! Oh, for heaven's sake, speak out
plainly to me.'

A wily look had crept over Juliana's features.

'Certainly,' she said, in a tone that belied it, and drawing Rose to her
bosom, the groan she heard there was passing sweet to her.

'He has confessed it to Mama,' sobbed Rose. 'Why did he not come to me
first? He has confessed it--the abominable thing has come out of his own
mouth. He went to her last night . . .'

Juliana patted her shoulders regularly as they heaved. When words were
intelligible between them, Juliana said:

'At least, dear, you must admit that he has redeemed it.'

'Redeemed it? Could he do less?' Rose dried her eyes vehemently, as if
the tears shamed her. 'A man who could have let another suffer for his
crime--I could never have lifted my head again. I think I would have cut
off this hand that plighted itself to him! As it is, I hardly dare look
at myself. But you don't think it, dear? You know it to be false! false!
false!'

'Why should Mr. Harrington confess it?' said Juliana.

'Oh, don't speak his name!' cried Rose.

Her cousin smiled. 'So many strange things happen,' she said, and sighed.

'Don't sigh: I shall think you believe it!' cried Rose. An appearance of
constrained repose was assumed. Rose glanced up, studied for an instant,
and breathlessly uttered: 'You do, you do believe it, Juley?'

For answer, Juliana hugged her with much warmth, and recommenced the
patting.

'I dare say it's a mistake,' she remarked. 'He may have been jealous of
Ferdinand. You know I have not seen the letter. I have only heard of it.
In love, they say, you ought to excuse . . . And the want of religious
education! His sister . . .'

Rose interrupted her with a sharp shudder. Might it not be possible that
one who had the same blood as the Countess would stoop to a momentary
vileness.

How changed was Rose from the haughty damsel of yesterday!

'Do you think my lover could tell a lie?' 'He--would not love me long if
I did!'

These phrases arose and rang in Juliana's ears while she pursued the task
of comforting the broken spirit that now lay prone on the bed, and now
impetuously paced the room. Rose had come thinking the moment Juliana's
name was mentioned, that here was the one to fortify her faith in Evan:
one who, because she loved, could not doubt him. She moaned in a terror
of distrust, loathing her cousin: not asking herself why she needed
support. And indeed she was too young for much clear self-questioning,
and her blood was flowing too quickly for her brain to perceive more than
one thing at a time.

'Does your mother believe it?' said Juliana, evading a direct assault.

'Mama? She never doubts what you speak,' answered Rose, disconsolately.

'She does?'

'Yes.'

Whereat Juliana looked most grave, and Rose felt that it was hard to
breathe.

She had grown very cold and calm, and Juliana had to be expansive
unprovoked.

'Believe nothing, dear, till you hear it from his own lips. If he can
look in your face and say that he did it . . . well, then! But of course
he cannot. It must be some wonderful piece of generosity to his rival.'

'So I thought, Juley! so I thought,' cried Rose, at the new light, and
Juliana smiled contemptuously, and the light flickered and died, and all
was darker than before in the bosom of Rose. She had borne so much that
this new drop was poison.

'Of course it must be that, if it is anything,' Juliana pursued. 'You
were made to be happy, Rose. And consider, if it is true, people of very
low birth, till they have lived long with other people, and if they have
no religion, are so very likely to do things. You do not judge them as
you do real gentlemen, and one must not be too harsh--I only wish to
prepare you for the worst.'

A dim form of that very idea had passed through Rose, giving her small
comfort.

'Let him tell you with his own lips that what he has told your mother is
true, and then, and not till then, believe him,' Juliana concluded, and
they kissed kindly, and separated. Rose had suddenly lost her firm step,
but no sooner was Juliana alone than she left the bed, and addressed her
visage to the glass with brightening eyes, as one who saw the glimmer of
young hope therein.

'She love him! Not if he told me so ten thousand times would I believe
it! and before he has said a syllable she doubts him. Asking me in that
frantic way! as if I couldn't see that she wanted me to help her to her
faith in him, as she calls it. Not name his name? Mr. Harrington! I may
call him Evan: some day!'

Half-uttered, half-mused, the unconscious exclamations issued from her,
and for many a weary day since she had dreamed of love, and studied that
which is said to attract the creature, she had not been so glowingly
elated or looked so much farther in the glass than its pale reflection.



CHAPTER XXXVI

BEFORE BREAKFAST

Cold through the night the dark-fringed stream had whispered under Evan's
eyes, and the night breeze voiced 'Fool, fool!' to him, not without a
distant echo in his heart. By symbols and sensations he knew that Rose
was lost to him. There was no moon: the water seemed aimless, passing on
carelessly to oblivion. Now and then, the trees stirred and talked, or a
noise was heard from the pastures. He had slain the life that lived in
them, and the great glory they were to bring forth, and the end to which
all things moved. Had less than the loss of Rose been involved, the young
man might have found himself looking out on a world beneath notice, and
have been sighing for one more worthy of his clouded excellence but the
immense misery present to him in the contemplation of Rose's sad
restrained contempt, saved him from the silly elation which is the last,
and generally successful, struggle of human nature in those who can so
far master it to commit a sacrifice. The loss of that brave high young
soul-Rose, who had lifted him out of the mire with her own white hands:
Rose, the image of all that he worshipped: Rose, so closely wedded to him
that to be cut away from her was to fall like pallid clay from the
soaring spirit: surely he was stunned and senseless when he went to utter
the words to her mother! Now that he was awake, and could feel his
self-inflicted pain, he marvelled at his rashness and foolishness, as
perhaps numerous mangled warriors have done for a time, when the
battle-field was cool, and they were weak, and the uproar of their jarred
nerves has beset them, lying uncherished.

By degrees he grew aware of a little consolatory touch, like the point of
a needle, in his consciousness. Laxley would certainly insult him! In
that case he would not refuse to fight him. The darkness broke and
revealed this happy prospect, and Evan held to it an hour, and could
hardly reject it when better thoughts conquered. For would it not be
sweet to make the strength of his arm respected? He took a stick, and ran
his eye musingly along the length, trifling with it grimly. The great Mel
had been his son's instructor in the chivalrous science of fence, and a
maitre d'armes in Portugal had given him polish. In Mel's time duels with
swords had been occasionally fought, and Evan looked on the sword as the
weapon of combat. Face to face with his adversary--what then were birth
or position? Action!--action! he sighed for it, as I have done since I
came to know that his history must be morally developed. A glow of bitter
pleasure exalted him when, after hot passages, and parryings and thrusts,
he had disarmed Ferdinand Laxley, and bestowing on him his life, said:
'Accept this worthy gift of the son of a tailor!' and he wiped his sword,
haply bound up his wrist, and stalked off the ground, the vindicator of
man's natural dignity. And then he turned upon himself with laughter,
discovering a most wholesome power, barely to be suspected in him yet;
but of all the children of glittering Mel and his solid mate, Evan was
the best mixed compound of his parents.

He put the stick back in its corner and eyed his wrist, as if he had
really just gone through the pretty scene he had just laughed at. It was
nigh upon reality, for it suggested the employment of a handkerchief, and
he went to a place and drew forth one that had the stain of his blood on
it, and the name of Rose at one end. The beloved name was half-blotted by
the dull-red mark, and at that sight a strange tenderness took hold of
Evan. His passions became dead and of old date. This, then, would be his
for ever! Love, for whom earth had been too small, crept exultingly into
a nut-shell. He clasped the treasure on his breast, and saw a life beyond
his parting with her.

Strengthened thus, he wrote by the morning light to Laxley. The letter
was brief, and said simply that the act of which Laxley had been accused,
Evan Harrington was responsible for. The latter expressed regret that
Laxley should have fallen under a false charge, and, at the same time,
indicated that if Laxley considered himself personally aggrieved, the
writer was at his disposal.

A messenger had now to be found to convey it to the village-inn. Footmen
were stirring about the house, and one meeting Evan close by his door,
observed with demure grin, that he could not find the gentleman's
nether-garments. The gentleman, it appeared, was Mr. John Raikes, who
according to report, had been furnished with a bed at the house, because
of a discovery, made at a late period over-night, that farther the
gentleman could not go. Evan found him sleeping soundly. How much the
poor youth wanted a friend! Fortune had given him instead a born buffoon;
and it is perhaps the greatest evil of a position like Evan's, that, with
cultured feelings, you are likely to meet with none to know you. Society
does not mix well in money-pecking spheres. Here, however, was John
Raikes, and Evan had to make the best of him.

'Eh?' yawned Jack, awakened; 'I was dreaming I was Napoleon Bonaparte's
right-hand man.'

'I want you to be mine for half-an-hour,' said Evan.

Without replying, the distinguished officer jumped out of bed at a bound,
mounted a chair, and peered on tip-toe over the top, from which, with a
glance of self-congratulation, he pulled the missing piece of apparel,
sighed dejectedly as he descended, while he exclaimed:

'Safe! but no distinction can compensate a man for this state of
intolerable suspicion of everybody. I assure you, Harrington, I wouldn't
be Napoleon himself--and I have always been his peculiar admirer--to live
and be afraid of my valet! I believe it will develop cancer sooner or
later in me. I feel singular pains already. Last night, after crowning
champagne with ale, which produced a sort of French Revolution in my
interior--by the way, that must have made me dream of Napoleon last
night, with my lower members in revolt against my head, I had to sit and
cogitate for hours on a hiding-place for these-call them what you will.
Depend upon it, Harrington, this world is no such funny affair as we
fancy.'

'Then it is true, that you could let a man play pranks on you,' said
Evan. 'I took it for one of your jokes.'

'Just as I can't believe that you're a tailor,' returned Jack. 'It 's not
a bit more extraordinary.'

'But, Jack, if you cause yourself to be contemptible----'

'Contemptible!' cried Jack. 'This is not the tone I like. Contemptible!
why it's my eccentricity among my equals. If I dread the profane vulgar,
that only proves that I'm above them. Odi, etc. Besides, Achilles had his
weak point, and egad, it was when he faced about! By Jingo! I wish I'd
had that idea yesterday. I should have behaved better.'

Evan could see that the creature was beginning to rely desperately on his
humour.

'Come,' he said, 'be a man to-day. Throw off your motley. When I met you
that night so oddly, you had been acting like a worthy fellow, trying to
earn your bread in the best way you could--'

'And precisely because I met you, of all men, I've been going round and
round ever since,' said Jack. 'A clown or pantaloon would have given me
balance. Say no more. You couldn't help it. We met because we were the
two extremes.'

Sighing, 'What a jolly old inn!' Raikes rolled himself over in the
sheets, and gave two or three snug jolts indicative of his determination
to be comfortable while he could.

'Do you intend to carry on this folly, Jack?'

'Say, sacrifice,' was the answer. 'I feel it as much as you possibly
could, Mr. Harrington. Hear the facts,' Jack turned round again. 'Why did
I consent to this absurdity? Because of my ambition. That old fellow,
whom I took to be a clerk of Messrs. Grist, said: "You want to cut a
figure in the world--you're armed now." A sort of Fortunatus's joke. It
was his way of launching me. But did he think I intended this for more
than a lift? I his puppet? He, sir, was my tool! Well, I came. All my
efforts were strained to shorten the period of penance. I had the best
linen, and put on captivating manners. I should undoubtedly have won some
girl of station, and cast off my engagement like an old suit, but just
mark!--now mark how Fortune tricks us! After the pic-nic yesterday, the
domestics of the house came to clear away, and the band being there, I
stopped them and bade them tune up, and at the same time seizing the maid
Wheedle, away we flew. We danced, we whirled, we twirled. Ale upon this!
My head was lost. "Why don't it last for ever?" says I. "I wish it did,"
says she. The naivete enraptured me. "Oooo!" I cried, hugging her, and
then, you know, there was no course open to a man of honour but to offer
marriage and make a lady of her. I proposed: she accepted me, and here I
am, eternally tied to this accurst insignia, if I'm to keep my promise!
Isn't that a sacrifice, friend H.? There's no course open to me. The poor
girl is madly in love. She called me a "rattle!" As a gentleman, I cannot
recede.'

Evan got up and burst into damnable laughter at this burlesque of
himself. Telling the fellow the service he required, and receiving a
groaning assurance that the letter should, without loss of time, be
delivered in proper style, the egoist, as Jack heartily thought him, fell
behind his; knitted brows, and, after musing abstractedly, went forth to
light upon his fate.

But a dread of meeting had seized both Rose and Evan. She had exhausted
her first sincerity of unbelief in her interview with Juliana: and he had
begun to consider what he could say to her. More than the three words 'I
did it,' would not be possible; and if she made him repeat them, facing
her truthful eyes, would he be man enough to strike her bared heart
twice? And, ah! the sullen brute he must seem, standing before her dumb,
hearing her sigh, seeing her wretched effort not to show how unwillingly
her kind spirit despised him. The reason for the act--she would ask for
that! Rose would not be so philosophic as her mother. She would grasp at
every chance to excuse the deed. He cried out against his scheming sister
in an agony, and while he did so, encountered Miss Carrington and Miss.
Bonner in deep converse. Juliana pinched her arm, whereupon Miss
Carrington said: 'You look merry this morning, Mr. Harrington': for he
was unawares smiling at the image of himself in the mirror of John
Raikes. That smile, transformed to a chuckling grimace, travelled to Rose
before they met.

Why did she not come to him?

A soft voice at his elbow made his blood stop. It was Caroline. She
kissed him, answering his greeting: 'Is it good morning?'

'Certainly,' said he. 'By the way, don't forget that the coach leaves
early.'

'My darling Evan! you make me so happy. For it was really a mistaken
sense of honour. For what can at all excuse a falsehood, you know, Evan!'

Caroline took his arm, and led him into the sun, watching his face at
times. Presently she said: 'I want just to be assured that you thought
more wisely than when you left us last night.'

'More wisely?' Evan turned to her with a playful smile.

'My dear brother! you did not do what you said you would do?'

'Have you ever known me not to do what I said I would do?'

'Evan! Good heaven! you did it? Then how can you remain here an instant?
Oh, no, no!--say no, darling!'

'Where is Louisa?' he inquired.

'She is in her room. She will never appear at breakfast, if she knows
this.'

'Perhaps more solitude would do her good,' said Evan.

'Remember, if this should prove true, think how you punish her!'

On that point Evan had his own opinion.

'Well, I shall never have to punish you in this way, my love, he said
fondly, and Caroline dropped her eyelids.

'Don't think that I am blaming her,' he added, trying to feel as honestly
as he spoke. 'I was mad to come here. I see it all now. Let us keep to
our place. We are all the same before God till we disgrace ourselves.'
Possibly with that sense of shame which some young people have who are
not professors of sounding sentences, or affected by missionary zeal,
when they venture to breathe the holy name, Evan blushed, and walked on
humbly silent. Caroline murmured: 'Yes, yes! oh, brother!' and her figure
drew to him as if for protection. Pale, she looked up.

'Shall you always love me, Evan?'

'Whom else have I to love?'

'But always--always? Under any circumstances?'

'More and more, dear. I always have, and shall. I look to you now. I have
no home but in your heart now.'

She was agitated, and he spoke warmly to calm her.

The throb of deep emotion rang in her rich voice. 'I will live any life
to be worthy of your love, Evan,' and she wept.

To him they were words and tears without a history.

Nothing further passed between them. Caroline went to the Countess: Evan
waited for Rose. The sun was getting high. The face of the stream glowed
like metal. Why did she not come? She believed him guilty from the mouth
of another? If so, there was something less for him to lose. And now the
sacrifice he had made did whisper a tale of mortal magnificence in his
ears: feelings that were not his noblest stood up exalted. He waited till
the warm meadow-breath floating past told that the day had settled into
heat, and then he waited no more, but quietly walked into the house with
the strength of one who has conquered more than human scorn.



CHAPTER XXXVII

THE RETREAT FROM BECKLEY

Never would the Countess believe that brother of hers, idiot as by nature
he might be, and heir to unnumbered epithets, would so far forget what
she had done for him, as to drag her through the mud for nothing: and so
she told Caroline again and again, vehemently.

It was about ten minutes before the time for descending to the
breakfast-table. She was dressed, and sat before the glass, smoothing her
hair, and applying the contents of a pot of cold cream to her forehead
between-whiles. With perfect sincerity she repeated that she could not
believe it. She had only trusted Evan once since their visit to Beckley;
and that this once he should, when treated as a man, turn traitor to
their common interests, and prove himself an utter baby, was a piece of
nonsense her great intelligence indignantly rejected.

'Then, if true,' she answered Caroline's assurances finally, 'if true, he
is not his father's son!'

By which it may be seen that she had indeed taken refuge in the Castle of
Negation against the whole army of facts.

'He is acting, Carry. He is acting the ideas of his ridiculous empty
noddle!'

'No,' said Caroline, mournfully, 'he is not. I have never known Evan to
lie.'

'Then you must forget the whipping he once had from his mother--little
dolt! little selfish pig! He obtains his reputation entirely from his
abominable selfishness, and then stands tall, and asks us to admire him.
He bursts with vanity. But if you lend your credence to it, Carry, how,
in the name of goodness, are you to appear at the breakfast?

'I was going to ask you whether you would come,' said Caroline, coldly.

'If I can get my hair to lie flat by any means at all, of course!'
returned the Countess. 'This dreadful horrid country pomade! Why did we
not bring a larger stock of the Andalugian Regenerator? Upon my honour,
my dear, you use a most enormous quantity; I must really tell you that.'

Conning here entered to say that Mr. Evan had given orders for the boxes
to be packed and everything got ready to depart by half-past eleven
o'clock, when the fly would call for them and convey them to Fallow field
in time to meet the coach for London.

The Countess turned her head round to Caroline like an astonished
automaton.

'Given orders!' she interjected.

'I have very little to get ready,' remarked Caroline.

'Be so good as to wait outside the door one instant,' said the Countess
to Conning, with particular urbanity.

Conning heard a great deal of vigorous whispering within, and when
summoned to re-appear, a note was handed to her to convey to Mr.
Harrington immediately. He was on the lawn; read it, and wrote back three
hasty lines in pencil.

'Louisa. You have my commands to quit this house, at the hour named, this
day. You will go with me. E. H.'

Conning was again requested to wait outside the Countess's door. She was
the bearer of another note. Evan read it likewise; tore it up, and said
that there was no answer.

The Castle of Negation held out no longer. Ruthless battalions poured
over the walls, blew up the Countess's propriety, made frightful ravages
in her complexion. Down fell her hair.

'You cannot possibly go to breakfast,' said Caroline.

'I must! I must!' cried the Countess. 'Why, my dear, if he has done
it-wretched creature! don't you perceive that, by withholding our
presences, we become implicated with him?' And the Countess, from a burst
of frenzy, put this practical question so shrewdly, that Caroline's wits
succumbed to her.

'But he has not done it; he is acting!' she pursued, restraining her
precious tears for higher purposes, as only true heroines can. 'Thinks to
frighten me into submission!'

'Do you not think Evan is right in wishing us to leave, after--after--'
Caroline humbly suggested.

'Say, before my venerable friend has departed this life,' the Countess
took her up. 'No, I do not. If he is a fool, I am not. No, Carry: I do
not jump into ditches for nothing. I will have something tangible for all
that I have endured. We are now tailors in this place, remember. If that
stigma is affixed to us, let us at least be remunerated for it. Come.'

Caroline's own hard struggle demanded all her strength yet she appeared
to hesitate. 'You will surely not disobey Evan, Louisa?'

'Disobey?' The Countess amazedly dislocated the syllables. 'Why, the boy
will be telling you next that he will not permit the Duke to visit you!
Just your English order of mind, that cannot--brutes!--conceive of
friendship between high-born men and beautiful women. Beautiful as you
truly are, Carry, five years more will tell on you. But perhaps my
dearest is in a hurry to return to her Maxwell? At least he thwacks
well!'

Caroline's arm was taken. The Countess loved an occasional rhyme when a
point was to be made, and went off nodding and tripping till the time for
stateliness arrived, near the breakfast-room door. She indeed was acting.
At the bottom of her heart there was a dismal rage of passions: hatred of
those who would or might look tailor in her face: terrors concerning the
possible re-visitation of the vengeful Sir Abraham: dread of Evan and the
efforts to despise him: the shocks of many conflicting elements. Above it
all her countenance was calmly, sadly sweet: even as you may behold some
majestic lighthouse glimmering over the tumult of a midnight sea.

An unusual assemblage honoured the breakfast that morning. The news of
Mrs. Bonner's health was more favourable. How delighted was the Countess
to hear that! Mrs. Bonner was the only firm ground she stood on there,
and after receiving and giving gentle salutes, she talked of Mrs. Bonner,
and her night-watch by the sick bed, in a spirit of doleful hope. This
passed off the moments till she could settle herself to study faces.
Decidedly, every lady present looked glum, with the single exception of
Miss Current. Evan was by Lady Jocelyn's side. Her ladyship spoke to him;
but the Countess observed that no one else did. To herself, however, the
gentlemen were as attentive as ever. Evan sat three chairs distant from
her.

If the traitor expected his sister to share in his disgrace, by noticing
him, he was in error. On the contrary, the Countess joined the conspiracy
to exclude him, and would stop a mild laugh if perchance he looked up.
Presently Rose entered. She said 'Good morning' to one or two, and glided
into a seat.

That Evan was under Lady Jocelyn's protection soon became generally
apparent, and also that her ladyship was angry: an exhibition so rare
with her that it was the more remarked. Rose could see that she was a
culprit in her mother's eyes. She glanced from Evan to her. Lady
Jocelyn's mouth shut hard. The girl's senses then perceived the something
that was afloat at the table; she thought with a pang of horror: 'Has
Juliana told?' Juliana smiled on her; but the aspect of Mrs. Shorne, and
of Miss Carrington, spoke for their knowledge of that which must
henceforth be the perpetual reproof to her headstrong youth.

'At what hour do you leave us?' said Lady Jocelyn to Evan.

'When I leave the table, my lady. The fly will call for my sisters at
half-past eleven.'

'There is no necessity for you to start in advance?'

'I am going over to see my mother.'

Rose burned to speak to him now. Oh! why had she delayed! Why had she
swerved from her good rule of open, instant explanations? But Evan's
heart was stern to his love. Not only had she, by not coming, shown her
doubt of him,--she had betrayed him!

Between the Countess, Melville, Sir John, and the Duke, an animated
dialogue was going on, over which Miss Current played like a lively iris.
They could not part with the Countess. Melville said he should be left
stranded, and numerous pretty things were uttered by other gentlemen: by
the women not a word. Glancing from certain of them lingeringly to her
admirers, the Countess smiled her thanks, and then Andrew, pressed to
remain, said he was willing and happy, and so forth; and it seemed that
her admirers had prevailed over her reluctance, for the Countess ended
her little protests with a vanquished bow. Then there was a gradual
rising from table. Evan pressed Lady Jocelyn's hand, and turning from her
bent his head to Sir Franks, who, without offering an exchange of
cordialities, said, at arm's length: 'Good-bye, sir.' Melville also gave
him that greeting stiffly. Harry was perceived to rush to the other end
of the room, in quest of a fly apparently. Poor Caroline's heart ached
for her brother, to see him standing there in the shadow of many faces.
But he was not left to stand alone. Andrew quitted the circle of Sir
John, Seymour Jocelyn, Mr. George Uplift, and others, and linked his arm
to Evan's. Rose had gone. While Evan looked for her despairingly to say
his last word and hear her voice once more, Sir Franks said to his wife:

'See that Rose keeps up-stairs.'

'I want to speak to her,' was her ladyship's answer, and she moved to the
door.

Evan made way for her, bowing.

'You will be ready at half-past eleven, Louisa,' he said, with calm
distinctness, and passed from that purgatory.

Now honest Andrew attributed the treatment Evan met with to the exposure
of yesterday. He was frantic with democratic disgust.

'Why the devil don't they serve me like that; eh? 'Cause I got a few
coppers! There, Van! I'm a man of peace; but if you'll call any man of
'em out I'll stand your second--'pon my soul, I will. They must be
cowards, so there isn't much to fear. Confound the fellows, I tell 'em
every day I'm the son of a cobbler, and egad, they grow civiller. What do
they mean? Are cobblers ranked over tailors?'

'Perhaps that's it,' said Evan.

'Hang your gentlemen!' Andrew cried.

'Let us have breakfast first,' uttered a melancholy voice near them in
the passage.

'Jack!' said Evan. 'Where have you been?'

'I didn't know the breakfast-room,' Jack returned, 'and the fact is, my
spirits are so down, I couldn't muster up courage to ask one of the
footmen. I delivered your letter. Nothing hostile took place. I bowed
fiercely to let him know what he might expect. That generally stops it.
You see, I talk prose. I shall never talk anything else!'

Andrew recommenced his jests of yesterday with Jack. The latter bore them
patiently, as one who had endured worse.

'She has rejected me!' he whispered to Evan. 'Talk of the ingratitude of
women! Ten minutes ago I met her. She perked her eyebrows at me!--tried
to run away. "Miss Wheedle": I said. "If you please, I 'd rather not,"
says she. To cut it short, the sacrifice I made to her was the cause.
It's all over the house. She gave the most excruciating hint. Those
low-born females are so horribly indelicate. I stood confounded.
Commending his new humour, Evan persuaded him to breakfast immediately,
and hunger being one of Jack's solitary incitements to a sensible course
of conduct, the disconsolate gentleman followed its dictates. 'Go with
him, Andrew,' said Evan. 'He is here as my friend, and may be made
uncomfortable.'

'Yes, yes,--ha! ha! I'll follow the poor chap,' said Andrew. 'But what is
it all about? Louisa won't go, you know. Has the girl given you up
because she saw your mother, Van? I thought it was all right. Why the
deuce are you running away?'

'Because I've just seen that I ought never to have come, I suppose,' Evan
replied, controlling the wretched heaving of his chest.

'But Louisa won't go, Van.'

'Understand, my dear Andrew, that I know it to be quite imperative. Be
ready yourself with Caroline. Louisa will then make her choice. Pray help
me in this. We must not stay a minute more than is necessary in this
house.'

'It's an awful duty,' breathed Andrew, after a pause. 'I see nothing but
hot water at home. Why--but it's no use asking questions. My love to your
mother. I say, Van,--now isn't Lady Jocelyn a trump?'

'God bless her!' said Evan. And the moisture in Andrew's eyes affected
his own.

'She's the staunchest piece of woman-goods I ever--I know a hundred cases
of her!'

'I know one, and that 's enough,' said Evan.

Not a sign of Rose! Can Love die without its dear farewell on which it
feeds, away from the light, dying by bits? In Evan's heart Love seemed to
die, and all the pangs of a death were there as he trod along the gravel
and stepped beneath the gates of Beckley Court.

Meantime the gallant Countess was not in any way disposed to retreat on
account of Evan's defection. The behaviour toward him at the
breakfast-table proved to her that he had absolutely committed his
egregious folly, and as no General can have concert with a fool, she cut
him off from her affections resolutely. Her manifest disdain at his last
speech, said as much to everybody present. Besides, the lady was in her
element here, and compulsion is required to make us relinquish our
element. Lady Jocelyn certainly had not expressly begged of her to
remain: the Countess told Melville so, who said that if she required such
an invitation she should have it, but that a guest to whom they were so
much indebted, was bound to spare them these formalities.

'What am I to do?'

The Countess turned piteously to the diplomatist's wife.

She answered, retiringly: 'Indeed I cannot say.'

Upon this, the Countess accepted Melville's arm, and had some thoughts of
punishing the woman.

They were seen parading the lawn. Mr. George Uplift chuckled singularly.

'Just the old style,' he remarked, but corrected the inadvertence with a
'hem!' committing himself more shamefully the instant after. 'I'll wager
she has the old Dip. down on his knee before she cuts.'

'Bet can't be taken,' observed Sir John Loring. 'It requires a spy.'

Harry, however, had heard the remark, and because he wished to speak to
her, let us hope, and reproach her for certain things when she chose to
be disengaged, he likewise sallied out, being forlorn as a youth whose
sweet vanity is much hurt.

The Duke had paired off with Mrs. Strike. The lawn was fair in sunlight
where they walked. The air was rich with harvest smells, and the scent of
autumnal roses. Caroline was by nature luxurious and soft. The thought of
that drilled figure to which she was returning in bondage, may have
thrown into bright relief the polished and gracious nobleman who walked
by her side, shadowing forth the chances of a splendid freedom. Two
lovely tears fell from her eyes. The Duke watched them quietly.

'Do you know, they make me jealous?' he said.

Caroline answered him with a faint smile.

'Reassure me, my dear lady; you are not going with your brother this
morning?'

'Your Grace, I have no choice!'

'May I speak to you as your warmest friend? From what I hear, it appears
to be right that your brother should not stay. To the best of my ability
I will provide for him: but I sincerely desire to disconnect you from
those who are unworthy of you. Have you not promised to trust in me?
Pray, let me be your guide.'

Caroline replied to the heart of his words: 'I dare not.'

'What has changed you?'

'I am not changed, but awakened,' said Caroline.

The Duke paced on in silence.

'Pardon me if I comprehend nothing of such a change,' he resumed. 'I
asked you to sacrifice much; all that I could give in return I offered.
Is it the world you fear?'

'What is the world to such as I am?'

'Can you consider it a duty to deliver yourself bound to that man again?'

'Heaven pardon me, my lord, I think of that too little!'

The Duke's next question: 'Then what can it be?' stood in his eyes.

'Oh!' Caroline's touch quivered on his arm, 'Do not suppose me frivolous,
ungrateful, or--or cowardly. For myself you have offered more happiness
than I could have hoped for. To be allied to one so generous, I could
bear anything. Yesterday you had my word: give it me back to-day!'

Very curiously the Duke gazed on her, for there was evidence of internal
torture across her forehead.

'I may at least beg to know the cause for this request?'

She quelled some throbbing in her bosom. 'Yes.'

He waited, and she said: 'There is one--if I offended him, I could not
live. If now I followed my wishes, he would lose his faith in the last
creature that loves him. He is unhappy. I could bear what is called
disgrace, my lord--I shudder to say it--I could sin against heaven; but I
dare not do what would make him despise me.'

She was trembling violently; yet the nobleman, in his surprise, could not
forbear from asking who this person might be, whose influence on her
righteous actions was so strong.

'It is my brother, my lord,' she said.

Still more astonished, 'Your brother!' the Duke exclaimed. 'My dearest
lady, I would not wound you; but is not this a delusion? We are so placed
that we must speak plainly. Your brother I have reason to feel sure is
quite unworthy of you.'

'Unworthy? My brother Evan? Oh! he is noble, he is the best of men!'

'And how, between yesterday and to-day, has he changed you?'

'It is that yesterday I did not know him, and to-day I do.'

Her brother, a common tradesman, a man guilty of forgery and the utmost
baseness--all but kicked out of the house! The Duke was too delicate to
press her further. Moreover, Caroline had emphasized the 'yesterday' and
'to-day,' showing that the interval which had darkened Evan to everybody
else, had illumined him to her. He employed some courtly eloquence,
better unrecorded; but if her firm resolution perplexed him, it threw a
strange halo round the youth from whom it sprang.

The hour was now eleven, and the Countess thought it full time to retire
to her entrenchment in Mrs. Bonner's chamber. She had great things still
to do: vast designs were in her hand awaiting the sanction of Providence.
Alas! that little idle promenade was soon to be repented. She had joined
her sister, thinking it safer to have her upstairs till they were quit of
Evan. The Duke and the diplomatist loitering in the rear, these two fair
women sailed across the lawn, conscious, doubtless, over all their
sorrows and schemes, of the freight of beauty they carried.

What meant that gathering on the steps? It was fortuitous, like
everything destined to confound us. There stood Lady Jocelyn with Andrew,
fretting his pate. Harry leant against a pillar, Miss Carrington, Mrs.
Shorne, and Mrs. Melville, supported by Mr. George Uplift, held
watchfully by. Juliana, with Master Alec and Miss Dorothy, were in the
background.

Why did our General see herself cut off from her stronghold, as by a
hostile band? She saw it by that sombre light in Juliana's eyes, which
had shown its ominous gleam whenever disasters were on the point of
unfolding.

Turning to Caroline, she said: 'Is there a back way?'

Too late! Andrew called.

'Come along, Louisa, Just time, and no more. Carry, are you packed?'

This in reality was the first note of the retreat from Beckley; and
having blown it, the hideous little trumpeter burst into scarlet
perspirations, mumbling to Lady Jocelyn: 'Now, my lady, mind you stand by
me.'

The Countess walked straight up to him.

'Dear Andrew! this sun is too powerful for you. I beg you, withdraw into
the shade of the house.'

She was about to help him with all her gentleness.

'Yes, yes. All right, Louisa rejoined Andrew. 'Come, go and pack. The fly
'll be here, you know--too late for the coach, if you don't mind, my
lass. Ain't you packed yet?'

The horrible fascination of vulgarity impelled the wretched lady to
answer: 'Are we herrings?' And then she laughed, but without any
accompaniment.

'I am now going to dear Mrs. Bonner,' she said, with a tender glance at
Lady Jocelyn.

'My mother is sleeping,' her ladyship remarked.

'Come, Carry, my darling!' cried Andrew.

Caroline looked at her sister. The Countess divined Andrew's shameful
trap.

'I was under an engagement to go and canvass this afternoon,' she said.

'Why, my dear Louisa, we've settled that in here this morning,' said
Andrew. 'Old Tom only stuck up a puppet to play with. We've knocked him
over, and march in victorious--eh, my lady?'

'Oh!' exclaimed the Countess, 'if Mr. Raikes shall indeed have listened
to my inducements!'

'Deuce a bit of inducements!' returned Andrew. 'The fellow's ashamed of
himself-ha! ha! Now then, Louisa.'

While they talked, Juliana had loosed Dorothy and Alec, and these imps
were seen rehearsing a remarkable play, in which the damsel held forth a
hand and the cavalier advanced and kissed it with a loud smack, being at
the same time reproached for his lack of grace.

'You are so English!' cried Dorothy, with perfect languor, and a
malicious twitter passed between two or three. Mr. George spluttered
indiscreetly.

The Countess observed the performance. Not to convert the retreat into a
total rout, she, with that dark flush which was her manner of blushing,
took formal leave of Lady Jocelyn, who, in return, simply said:
'Good-bye, Countess.' Mrs. Strike's hand she kindly shook.

The few digs and slaps and thrusts at gloomy Harry and prim Miss
Carrington and boorish Mr. George, wherewith the Countess, torn with
wrath, thought it necessary to cover her retreat, need not be told. She
struck the weak alone: Juliana she respected. Masterly tactics, for they
showed her power, gratified her vengeance, and left her unassailed. On
the road she had Andrew to tear to pieces. O delicious operation! And O
shameful brother to reduce her to such joys! And, O Providence! may a
poor desperate soul, betrayed through her devotion, unremunerated for her
humiliation and absolute hard work, accuse thee? The Countess would have
liked to. She felt it to be the instigation of the devil, and decided to
remain on the safe side still.

Happily for Evan, she was not ready with her packing by half-past eleven.
It was near twelve when he, pacing in front of the inn, observed Polly
Wheedle, followed some yards in the rear by John Raikes, advancing
towards him. Now Polly had been somewhat delayed by Jack's persecutions,
and Evan declining to attend to the masked speech of her mission, which
directed him to go at once down a certain lane in the neighbourhood of
the park, some minutes were lost.

'Why, Mr. Harrington,' said Polly, 'it's Miss Rose: she's had leave from
her Ma. Can you stop away, when it's quite proper?'

Evan hesitated. Before he could conquer the dark spirit, lo, Rose
appeared, walking up the village street. Polly and her adorer fell back.

Timidly, unlike herself, Rose neared him.

'I have offended you, Evan. You would not come to me: I have come to
you.'

'I am glad to be able to say good-bye to you, Rose,' was his pretty
response.

Could she have touched his hand then, the blood of these lovers rushing
to one channel must have made all clear. At least he could hardly have
struck her true heart with his miserable lie. But that chance was lost
they were in the street, where passions have no play.

'Tell me, Evan,--it is not true.'

He, refining on his misery, thought, She would not ask it if she trusted
me: and answered her: 'You have heard it from your mother, Rose.'

'But I will not believe it from any lips but yours, Evan. Oh, speak,
speak!'

It pleased him to think: How could one who loved me believe it even then?

He said: 'It can scarcely do good to make me repeat it, Rose.'

And then, seeing her dear bosom heave quickly, he was tempted to fall on
his knees to her with a wild outcry of love. The chance was lost. The
inexorable street forbade it.

There they stood in silence, gasping at the barrier that divided them.

Suddenly a noise was heard. 'Stop! stop!' cried the voice of John Raikes.
'When a lady and gentleman are talking together, sir, do you lean your
long ears over them--ha?'

Looking round, Evan beheld Laxley a step behind, and Jack rushing up to
him, seizing his collar, and instantly undergoing ignominious prostration
for his heroic defence of the privacy of lovers.

'Stand aside'; said Laxley, imperiously. 'Rosey so you've come for me.
Take my arm. You are under my protection.'

Another forlorn 'Is it true?' Rose cast toward Evan with her eyes. He
wavered under them.

'Did you receive my letter?' he demanded of Laxley.

'I decline to hold converse with you,' said Laxley, drawing Rose's hand
on his arm.

'You will meet me to-day or to-morrow?'

'I am in the habit of selecting my own company.'

Rose disengaged her hand. Evan grasped it. No word of farewell was
uttered. Her mouth moved, but her eyes were hard shut, and nothing save
her hand's strenuous pressure, equalling his own, told that their parting
had been spoken, the link violently snapped.

Mr. John Raikes had been picked up and pulled away by Polly. She now
rushed to Evan: 'Good-bye, and God bless you, dear Mr. Harrington. I'll
find means of letting you know how she is. And he shan't have her, mind!'

Rose was walking by Laxley's side, but not leaning on his arm. Evan
blessed her for this. Ere she was out of sight the fly rolled down the
street. She did not heed it, did not once turn her head. Ah, bitter
unkindness!

When Love is hurt, it is self-love that requires the opiate. Conning gave
it him in the form of a note in a handwriting not known to him. It said:

     'I do not believe it, and nothing will ever make me.
                    'JULIANA.'

Evan could not forget these words. They coloured his farewell to Beckley:
the dear old downs, the hopgardens, the long grey farms walled with
clipped yew, the home of his lost love! He thought of them through weary
nights when the ghostly image with the hard shut eyelids and the
quivering lips would rise and sway irresolutely in air till a shape out
of the darkness extinguished it. Pride is the God of Pagans. Juliana had
honoured his God. The spirit of Juliana seemed to pass into the body of
Rose, and suffer for him as that ghostly image visibly suffered.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

IN WHICH WE HAVE TO SEE IN THE DARK

So ends the fourth act of our comedy.

After all her heroism and extraordinary efforts, after, as she feared,
offending Providence--after facing Tailordom--the Countess was rolled
away in a dingy fly unrewarded even by a penny, for what she had gone
through. For she possessed eminently the practical nature of her sex; and
though she would have scorned, and would have declined to handle coin so
base, its absence was upbraidingly mentioned in her spiritual outcries.
Not a penny!

Nor was there, as in the miseries of retreat she affected indifferently
to imagine, a Duke fished out of the ruins of her enterprise, to wash the
mud off her garments and edge them with radiance. Caroline, it became
clear to her, had been infected by Evan's folly. Caroline, she
subsequently learnt, had likewise been a fool. Instead of marvelling at
the genius that had done so much in spite of the pair of fools that were
the right and left wing of her battle array, the simple-minded lady wept.
She wanted success, not genius. Admiration she was ever ready to forfeit
for success.

Nor did she say to the tailors of earth: 'Weep, for I sought to
emancipate you from opprobrium by making one of you a gentleman; I fought
for a great principle and have failed.' Heroic to the end, she herself
shed all the tears; took all the sorrow.

Where was consolation? Would any Protestant clergyman administer comfort
to her? Could he? might he do so? He might listen, and quote texts; but
he would demand the harsh rude English for everything; and the Countess's
confessional thoughts were all innuendoish, aerial; too delicate to live
in our shameless tongue. Confession by implication, and absolution; she
could know this to be what she wished for, and yet not think it. She
could see a haven of peace in that picture of the little brown box with
the sleekly reverend figure bending his ear to the kneeling Beauty
outside, thrice ravishing as she half-lifts the veil of her sins and her
visage!--yet she started alarmed to hear it whispered that the fair
penitent was the Countess de Saldar; urgently she prayed that no
disgraceful brother might ever drive her to that!

Never let it be a Catholic priest!--she almost fashioned her petition
into words. Who was to save her? Alas! alas! in her dire distress--in her
sense of miserable pennilessness, she clung to Mr. John Raikes, of the
curricle, the mysteriously rich young gentleman; and on that picture,
with Andrew roguishly contemplating it, and Evan, with feelings regarding
his sister that he liked not to own, the curtain commiseratingly drops.

As in the course of a stream you come upon certain dips, where, but here
and there, a sparkle or a gloom of the full flowing water is caught
through deepening foliage, so the history that concerns us wanders out of
day for a time, and we must violate the post and open written leaves to
mark the turn it takes.

First we have a letter from Mr. Goren to Mrs. Mel, to inform her that her
son has arrived and paid his respects to his future instructor in the
branch of science practised by Mr. Goren.

'He has arrived at last,' says the worthy tradesman. 'His appearance in
the shop will be highly gentlemanly, and when he looks a little more
pleasing, and grows fond of it, nothing will be left to be desired. The
ladies, his sisters, have not thought proper to call. I had hopes of the
custom of Mr. Andrew Cogglesby. Of course you wish him to learn tailoring
thoroughly?'

Mrs. Mel writes back, thanking Mr. Goren, and saying that 'she had shown
the letter to inquiring creditors, and that she does wish her son to
learn his business from the root. This produces a second letter from Mr.
Goren, which imparts to her that at the root of the tree, of tailoring
the novitiate must sit no less than six hours a day with his legs crossed
and doubled under him, cheerfully plying needle and thread; and that,
without this probation, to undergo which the son resolutely objects, all
hope of his climbing to the top of the lofty tree, and viewing mankind
from an eminence, must be surrendered.

'If you do not insist, my dear Mrs. Harrington, I tell you candidly, your
son may have a shop, but he will be no tailor.'

Mrs. Mel understands her son and his state of mind well enough not to
insist, and is resigned to the melancholy consequence.

Then Mr. Goren discovers an extraordinary resemblance between Evan and
his father: remarking merely that the youth is not the gentleman his
father was in a shop, while he admits, that had it been conjoined to
business habits, he should have envied his departed friend.

He has soon something fresh to tell; and it is that young Mr. Harrington
is treating him cavalierly. That he should penetrate the idea or
appreciate the merits of Mr. Goren's Balance was hardly to be expected at
present: the world did not, and Mr. Goren blamed no young man for his
ignorance. Still a proper attendance was requisite. Mr. Goren thought it
very singular that young Mr. Harrington should demand all the hours of
the day for his own purposes, up to half-past four. He found it difficult
to speak to him as a master, and begged that Mrs. Harrington would, as a
mother.

The reply of Mrs. Mel is dashed with a trifle of cajolery. She has heard
from her son, and seeing that her son takes all that time from his right
studies, to earn money wherewith to pay debts of which Mr. Goren is
cognizant, she trusts that their oldest friend will overlook it.

Mr. Goren rejoins that he considers that he need not have been excluded
from young Mr. Harrington's confidence. Moreover, it is a grief to him
that the young gentleman should refrain from accepting any of his
suggestions as to the propriety of requesting some, at least, of his rich
and titled acquaintance to confer on him the favour of their patronage.
'Which they would not repent,' adds Mr. Goren, 'and might learn to be
very much obliged to him for, in return for kindnesses extended to him.'

Notwithstanding all my efforts, you see, the poor boy is thrust into the
shop. There he is, without a doubt. He sleeps under Mr. Goren's roof: he
(since one cannot be too positive in citing the punishment of such a
Pagan) stands behind a counter: he (and, oh! choke, young loves, that
have hovered around him! shrink from him in natural horror, gentle
ladies!) handles the shears. It is not my fault. He would be a Pagan. If
you can think him human enough still to care to know how he feels it, I
must tell you that he feels it hardly-at all. After a big blow, a very
little one scarcely counts. What are outward forms and social ignominies
to him whose heart has been struck to the dust? His Gods have fought for
him, and there he is! He deserves no pity.

But he does not ask it of you, the callous Pagan! Despise him, if you
please, and rank with the Countess, who despises him most heartily.
Dipping further into the secrets of the post, we discover a brisk
correspondence between Juliana Bonner and Mrs. Strike.

'A thousand thanks to you, my dear Miss Bonner,' writes the latter lady.
'The unaffected interest you take in my brother touches me deeply. I know
him to be worthy of your good opinion. Yes, I will open my heart to you,
dearest Juliana; and it shall, as you wish, be quite secret between us.
Not to a soul!

'He is quite alone. My sisters Harriet and Louisa will not see him, and I
can only do so by stealth. His odd other little friend sometimes drives
me out on Sundays, to a place where I meet him; and the Duke of Belfield
kindly lends me his carriage. Oh, that we might never part! I am only
happy with him!

'Ah, do not doubt him, Juliana, for anything he does! You say, that now
the Duke has obtained for him the Secretaryship to my husband's Company,
he should not thing, and you do not understand why. I will tell you. Our
poor father died in debt, and Evan receives money which enables him by
degrees to liquidate these debts, on condition that he consents to be
what I dislike as much as you can. He bears it; you can have no idea of
his pride! He is too proud to own to himself that it debases him--too
proud to complain. It is a tangle--a net that drags him down to it but
whatever he is outwardly, he is the noblest human being in the world to
me, and but for him, oh, what should I be? Let me beg you to forgive it,
if you can. My darling has no friends. Is his temper as sweet as ever? I
can answer that. Yes, only he is silent, and looks--when you look into
his eyes--colder, as men look when they will not bear much from other
men.

'He has not mentioned her name. I am sure she has not written.

'Pity him, and pray for him.'

Juliana then makes a communication, which draws forth the following:--

'Mistress of all the Beckley property-dearest, dearest Juliana! Oh! how
sincerely I congratulate you! The black on the letter alarmed me so, I
could hardly open it, my fingers trembled so; for I esteem you all at
Beckley; but when I had opened and read it, I was recompensed. You say
you are sorry for Rose. But surely what your Grandmama has done is quite
right. It is just, in every sense. But why am I not to tell Evan? I am
certain it would make him very happy, and happiness of any kind he needs
so much! I will obey you, of course, but I cannot see why. Do you know,
my dear child, you are extremely mysterious, and puzzle me. Evan takes a
pleasure in speaking of you. You and Lady Jocelyn are his great themes.
Why is he to be kept ignorant of your good fortune? The spitting of blood
is bad. You must winter in a warm climate. I do think that London is far
better for you in the late Autumn than Hampshire. May I ask my sister
Harriet to invite you to reside with her for some weeks? Nothing, I know,
would give her greater pleasure.'

Juliana answers this--

'If you love me--I sometimes hope that you do--but the feeling of being
loved is so strange to me that I can only believe it at times--but,
Caroline--there, I have mustered up courage to call you by your Christian
name at last--Oh, dear Caroline! if you do love me, do not tell Mr.
Harrington. I go on my knees to you to beg you not to tell him a word. I
have no reasons indeed not any; but I implore you again never even to
hint that I am anything but the person he knew at Beckley.

'Rose has gone to Elburne House, where Ferdinand, her friend, is to meet
her. She rides and sings the same, and keeps all her colour.

'She may not, as you imagine, have much sensibility. Perhaps not enough.
I am afraid that Rose is turning into a very worldly woman!

'As to what you kindly say about inviting me to London, I should like it,
and I am my own mistress. Do you know, I think I am older than your
brother! I am twenty-three. Pray, when you write, tell me if he is older
than that. But should I not be a dreadful burden to you? Sometimes I have
to keep to my chamber whole days and days. When that happens now, I think
of you entirely. See how I open my heart to you. You say that you do to
me. I wish I could really think it.'

A postscript begs Caroline 'not to forget about the ages.'

In this fashion the two ladies open their hearts, and contrive to read
one another perfectly in their mutual hypocrisies.

Some letters bearing the signatures of Mr. John Raikes, and Miss Polly
Wheedle, likewise pass. Polly inquires for detailed accounts of the
health and doings of Mr. Harrington. Jack replies with full particulars
of her own proceedings, and mild corrections of her grammar. It is to be
noted that Polly grows much humbler to him on paper, which being
instantly perceived by the mercurial one, his caressing condescension to
her is very beautiful. She is taunted with Mr. Nicholas Frim, and
answers, after the lapse of a week, that the aforesaid can be nothing to
her, as he 'went in a passion to church last Sunday and got married.' It
appears that they had quarrelled, 'because I danced with you that night.'
To this Mr. Raikes rejoins in a style that would be signified by 'ahem!'
in language, and an arrangement of the shirt collar before the
looking-glass, in action.



CHAPTER XXXIX

IN THE DOMAIN OF TAILORDOM

There was peace in Mr. Goren's shop. Badgered Ministers, bankrupt
merchants, diplomatists with a headache--any of our modern grandees under
difficulties, might have envied that peace over which Mr. Goren presided:
and he was an enviable man. He loved his craft, he believed that he had
not succeeded the millions of antecedent tailors in vain; and, excepting
that trifling coquetry with shirt-fronts, viz., the red crosses, which a
shrewd rival had very soon eclipsed by representing nymphs triangularly
posed, he devoted himself to his business from morning to night; as rigid
in demanding respect from those beneath him, as he was profuse in
lavishing it on his patrons. His public boast was, that he owed no man a
farthing; his secret comfort, that he possessed two thousand pounds in
the Funds. But Mr. Goren did not stop here. Behind these external
characteristics he nursed a passion. Evan was astonished and pleased to
find in him an enthusiastic fern-collector. Not that Mr. Harrington
shared the passion, but the sight of these brown roots spread out,
ticketed, on the stained paper, after supper, when the shutters were up
and the house defended from the hostile outer world; the old man poring
over them, and naming this and that spot where, during his solitary
Saturday afternoon and Sunday excursions, he had lighted on the rare
samples exhibited this contrast of the quiet evening with the sordid day
humanized Mr. Goren to him. He began to see a spirit in the rigid
tradesman not so utterly dissimilar to his own, and he fancied that he,
too, had a taste for ferns. Round Beckley how they abounded!

He told Mr. Goren so, and Mr. Goren said:

'Some day we'll jog down there together, as the saying goes.'

Mr. Goren spoke of it as an ordinary event, likely to happen in the days
to come: not as an incident the mere mention of which, as being probable,
stopped the breath and made the pulses leap.

For now Evan's education taught him to feel that he was at his lowest
degree. Never now could Rose stoop to him. He carried the shop on his
back. She saw the brand of it on his forehead. Well! and what was Rose to
him, beyond a blissful memory, a star that he had once touched? Self-love
kept him strong by day, but in the darkness of night came his misery;
wakening from tender dreams, he would find his heart sinking under a
horrible pressure, and then the fair fresh face of Rose swam over him;
the hours of Beckley were revived; with intolerable anguish he saw that
she was blameless--that he alone was to blame. Yet worse was it when his
closed eyelids refused to conjure up the sorrowful lovely nightmare, and
he lay like one in a trance, entombed-wretched Pagan! feeling all that
had been blindly; when the Past lay beside him like a corpse that he had
slain.

These nightly torments helped him to brave what the morning brought.
Insensibly also, as Time hardened his sufferings, Evan asked himself what
the shame of his position consisted in. He grew stiff-necked. His Pagan
virtues stood up one by one to support him. Andrew, courageously evading
the interdict that forbade him to visit Evan, would meet him by
appointment at City taverns, and flatly offered him a place in the
Brewery. Evan declined it, on the pretext that, having received Old Tom's
money for the year, he must at least work out that term according to the
conditions. Andrew fumed and sneered at Tailordom. Evan said that there
was peace in Mr. Goren's shop. His sharp senses discerned in Andrew's
sneer a certain sincerity, and he revolted against it. Mr John Raikes,
too, burlesqued Society so well, that he had the satisfaction of laughing
at his enemy occasionally. The latter gentleman was still a pensioner,
flying about town with the Countess de Saldar, in deadly fear lest that
fascinating lady should discover the seat of his fortune; happy,
notwithstanding. In the mirror of Evan's little world, he beheld the
great one from which he was banished.

Now the dusk of a winter's afternoon was closing over London, when a
carriage drew up in front of Mr. Goren's shop, out of which, to Mr.
Goren's chagrin, a lady stepped, with her veil down. The lady entered,
and said that she wished to speak to Mr. Harrington. Mr. Goren made way
for her to his pupil; and was amazed to see her fall into his arms, and
hardly gratified to hear her say: 'Pardon me, darling, for coming to you
in this place.'

Evan asked permission to occupy the parlour.

'My place,' said Mr. Goren, with humble severity, over his spectacles,
'is very poor. Such as it is, it is at the lady's service.'

Alone with her, Evan was about to ease his own feelings by remarking to
the effect that Mr. Goren was human like the rest of us, but Caroline
cried, with unwonted vivacity:

'Yes, yes, I know; but I thought only of you. I have such news for you!
You will and must pardon my coming--that's my first thought, sensitive
darling that you are!' She kissed him fondly. 'Juliana Bonner is in town,
staying with us!'

'Is that your news?' asked Evan, pressing her against his breast.

'No, dear love--but still! You have no idea what her fortune--Mrs. Bonner
has died and left her--but I mustn't tell you. Oh, my darling! how she
admires you! She--she could recompense you; if you would! We will put
that by, for the present. Dear! the Duke has begged you, through me, to
accept--I think it 's to be a sort of bailiff to his estates--I don't
know rightly. It's a very honourable post, that gentlemen take: and the
income you are to have, Evan, will be near a thousand a year. Now, what
do I deserve for my news?'

She put up her mouth for another kiss, out of breath.

'True?' looked Evan's eyes.

'True!' she said, smiling, and feasting on his bewilderment.

After the bubbling in his brain had a little subsided, Evan breathed as a
man on whom fresh air is blown. Were not these tidings of release? His
ridiculous pride must nevertheless inquire whether Caroline had been
begging this for him.

'No, dear--indeed!' Caroline asserted with more than natural vehemence.
'It's something that you yourself have done that has pleased him. I don't
know what. Only he says, he believes you are a man to be trusted with the
keys of anything--and so you are. You are to call on him to-morrow. Will
you?'

While Evan was replying, her face became white. She had heard the Major's
voice in the shop. His military step advanced, and Caroline, exclaiming,
'Don't let me see him!' bustled to a door. Evan nodded, and she slipped
through. The next moment he was facing the stiff marine.

'Well, young man,' the Major commenced, and, seating himself, added, 'be
seated. I want to talk to you seriously, sir. You didn't think fit to
wait till I had done with the Directors today. You're devilishly out in
your discipline, whatever you are at two and two. I suppose there's no
fear of being intruded on here? None of your acquaintances likely to be
introducing themselves to me?'

'There is not one that I would introduce to you,' said Evan.

The Major nodded a brief recognition of the compliment, and then,
throwing his back against the chair, fired out: 'Come, sir, is this your
doing?'

In military phrase, Evan now changed front. His first thought had been
that the Major had come for his wife. He perceived that he himself was
the special object of his visitation.

'I must ask you what you allude to,' he answered.

'You are not at your office, but you will speak to me as if there was
some distinction between us,' said the Major. 'My having married your
sister does not reduce me to the ranks, I hope.'

The Major drummed his knuckles on the table, after this impressive
delivery.

'Hem!' he resumed. 'Now, sir, understand, before you speak a word, that I
can see through any number of infernal lies. I see that you're prepared
for prevarication. By George! it shall come out of you, if I get it by
main force. The Duke compelled me to give you that appointment in my
Company. Now, sir, did you, or did you not, go to him and deliberately
state to him that you believed the affairs of the Company to be in a bad
condition--infamously handled, likely to involve his honour as a
gentleman? I ask you, sir, did you do this, or did you not do it?'

Evan waited till the sharp rattle of the Major's close had quieted.

'If I am to answer the wording of your statement, I may say that I did
not.'

'Very good; very good; that will do. Are you aware that the Duke has sent
in his resignation as a Director of our Company?'

'I hear of it first from you.'

'Confound your familiarity!' cried the irritable officer, rising. 'Am I
always to be told that I married your sister? Address me, sir, as becomes
your duty.'

Evan heard the words 'beggarly tailor' mumbled 'out of the gutters,' and
'cursed connection.' He stood in the attitude of attention, while the
Major continued:

'Now, young man, listen to these facts. You came to me this day last
week, and complained that you did not comprehend some of our transactions
and affairs. I explained them to your damned stupidity. You went away.
Three days after that, you had an interview with the Duke. Stop, sir!
What the devil do you mean by daring to speak while I am speaking? You
saw the Duke, I say. Now, what took place at that interview?'

The Major tried to tower over Evan powerfully, as he put this query. They
were of a common height, and to do so, he had to rise on his toes, so
that the effect was but momentary.

'I think I am not bound to reply,' said Evan.

'Very well, sir; that will do.' The Major's fingers were evidently
itching for an absent rattan. 'Confess it or not, you are dismissed from
your post. Do you hear? You are kicked in the street. A beggarly tailor
you were born, and a beggarly tailor you will die.'

'I must beg you to stop, now,' said Evan. 'I told you that I was not
bound to reply: but I will. If you will sit down, Major Strike, you shall
hear what you wish to know.'

This being presently complied with, though not before a glare of the
Major's eyes had shown his doubt whether it might not be construed into
insolence, Evan pursued:

'I came to you and informed you that I could not reconcile the
cash-accounts of the Company, and that certain of the later proceedings
appeared to me to jeopardize its prosperity. Your explanations did not
satisfy me. I admit that you enjoined me to be silent. But the Duke, as a
Director, had as strong a right to claim me as his servant, and when he
questioned me as to the position of the Company, I told him what I
thought, just as I had told you.'

'You told him we were jobbers and swindlers, sir!'

'The Duke inquired of me whether I would, under the circumstances, while
proceedings were going on which I did not approve of, take the
responsibility of allowing my name to remain--'

'Ha! ha! ha!' the Major burst out. This was too good a joke. The name of
a miserable young tailor!' Go on, sir, go on!' He swallowed his laughter
like oil on his rage.

'I have said sufficient.'

Jumping up, the Major swore by the Lord, that he had said sufficient.

'Now, look you here, young man.' He squared his finger before Evan,
eyeing him under a hard frown, 'You have been playing your game again, as
you did down at that place in Hampshire. I heard of it--deserved to be
shot, by heaven! You think you have got hold of the Duke, and you throw
me over. You imagine, I dare say, that I will allow my wife to be talked
about to further your interests--you self-seeking young dog! As long as
he lent the Company his name, I permitted a great many things. Do you
think me a blind idiot, sir? But now she must learn to be satisfied with
people who 've got no titles, or carriages, and who can't give hundred
guinea compliments. You're all of a piece-a set of . . .'

The Major paused, for half a word was on his mouth which had drawn
lightning to Evan's eyes.

Not to be baffled, he added: 'But look you, sir. I may be ruined. I dare
say the Company will go to the dogs--every ass will follow a Duke. But,
mark, this goes on no more. I will be no woman's tally. Mind, sir, I take
excellent care that you don't traffic in your sister!'

The Major delivered this culminating remark with a well-timed deflection
of his forefinger, and slightly turned aside when he had done.

You might have seen Evan's figure rocking, as he stood with his eyes
steadily levelled on his sister's husband.

The Major, who, whatever he was, was physically no coward, did not fail
to interpret the look, and challenge it.

Evan walked to the door, opened it, and said, between his teeth, 'You
must go at once.'

'Eh, sir, eh? what's this?' exclaimed the warrior but the door was open,
Mr. Goren was in the shop; the scandal of an assault in such a house, and
the consequent possibility of his matrimonial alliance becoming bruited
in the newspapers, held his arm after it had given an involuntary jerk.
He marched through with becoming dignity, and marched out into the
street; and if necks unelastic and heads erect may be taken as the sign
of a proud soul and of nobility of mind, my artist has the Major for his
model.

Evan displayed no such a presence. He returned to the little parlour,
shut and locked the door to the shop, and forgetting that one was near,
sat down, covered his eyes, and gave way to a fit of tearless sobbing.
With one foot in the room Caroline hung watching him. A pain that she had
never known wrung her nerves. His whole manhood seemed to be shaken, as
if by regular pulsations of intensest misery. She stood in awe of the
sight till her limbs failed her, and then staggering to him she fell on
her knees, clasping his, passionately kissing them.



CHAPTER XL.

IN WHICH THE COUNTESS STILL SCENTS GAME

Mr. Raikes and his friend Frank Remand, surnamed Franko, to suit the
requirements of metre, in which they habitually conversed, were walking
arm-in-arm along the drive in Society's Park on a fine frosty Sunday
afternoon of midwinter. The quips and jokes of Franko were lively, and he
looked into the carriages passing, as if he knew that a cheerful
countenance is not without charms for their inmates. Raikes' face, on the
contrary, was barren and bleak. Being of that nature that when a pun was
made he must perforce outstrip it, he fell into Franko's humour from time
to time, but albeit aware that what he uttered was good, and by
comparison transcendent, he refused to enjoy it. Nor when Franko started
from his arm to declaim a passage, did he do other than make limp efforts
to unite himself to Franko again. A further sign of immense depression in
him was that instead of the creative, it was the critical faculty he
exercised, and rather than reply to Franko in his form of speech, he
scanned occasional lines and objected to particular phrases. He had
clearly exchanged the sanguine for the bilious temperament, and was fast
stranding on the rocky shores of prose. Franko bore this very well, for
he, like Raikes in happier days, claimed all the glances of lovely woman
as his own, and on his right there flowed a stream of Beauties. At last
he was compelled to observe: 'This change is sudden: wherefore so
downcast? With tigrine claw thou mangiest my speech, thy cheeks are like
December's pippin, and thy tongue most sour!'

'Then of it make a farce!' said Raikes, for the making of farces was
Franko's profession. 'Wherefore so downcast! What a line! There! let's
walk on. Let us the left foot forward stout advance. I care not for the
herd.'

''Tis love!' cried Franko.

'Ay, an' it be!' Jack gloomily returned.

'For ever cruel is the sweet Saldar?'

Raikes winced at this name.

'A truce to banter, Franko!' he said sternly: but the subject was opened,
and the wound.

'Love!' he pursued, mildly groaning. 'Suppose you adored a fascinating
woman, and she knew--positively knew--your manly weakness, and you saw
her smiling upon everybody, and she told you to be happy, and egad, when
you came to reflect, you found that after three months' suit you were
nothing better than her errand-boy? A thing to boast of, is it not,
quotha?'

'Love's yellow-fever, jealousy, methinks,' Franko commenced in reply; but
Raikes spat at the emphasized word.

'Jealousy!--who's jealous of clergymen and that crew? Not I, by Pluto! I
carried five messages to one fellow with a coat-tail straight to his
heels, last week. She thought I should drive my curricle--I couldn't
afford an omnibus! I had to run. When I returned to her I was dirty. She
made remarks!'

'Thy sufferings are severe--but such is woman!' said Franko. 'Gad, it's a
good idea, though.' He took out a note-book and pencilled down a point or
two. Raikes watched the process sardonically.

'My tragedy is, then, thy farce!' he exclaimed. 'Well, be it so! I
believe I shall come to song-writing again myself shortly-beneath the
shield of Catnach I'll a nation's ballads frame. I've spent my income in
four months, and now I 'm living on my curricle. I underlet it. It 's
like trade--it 's as bad as poor old Harrington, by Jove! But that isn't
the worst, Franko!' Jack dropped his voice: 'I believe I'm furiously
loved by a poor country wench.'

'Morals!' was Franko's most encouraging reproof.

'Oh, I don't think I've even kissed her,' rejoined Raikes, who doubted
because his imagination was vivid. 'It 's my intellect that dazzles her.
I 've got letters--she calls me clever. By Jove! since I gave up driving
I've had thoughts of rushing down to her and making her mine in spite of
home, family, fortune, friends, name, position--everything! I have,
indeed.'

Franko looked naturally astonished at this amount of self-sacrifice. 'The
Countess?' he shrewdly suggested.

       'I'd rather be my Polly's prince,
        Than yon great lady's errand-boy!'

Raikes burst into song.

He stretched out his hand, as if to discard all the great ladies who were
passing. By the strangest misfortune ever known, the direction taken by
his fingers was toward a carriage wherein, beautifully smiling opposite
an elaborately reverend gentleman of middle age, the Countess de Saldar
was sitting. This great lady is not to be blamed for deeming that her
errand-boy was pointing her out vulgarly on a public promenade. Ineffable
disdain curled off her sweet olive visage. She turned her head.

'I 'll go down to that girl to-night,' said Raikes, with compressed
passion. And then he hurried Franko along to the bridge, where, behold,
the Countess alighted with the gentleman, and walked beside him into the
gardens.

'Follow her,' said Raikes, in agitation. 'Do you see her? by yon
long-tailed raven's side? Follow her, Franko! See if he kisses her
hand-anything! and meet me here in half an hour. I'll have evidence!'

Franko did not altogether like the office, but Raikes' dinners, singular
luck, and superiority in the encounter of puns, gave him the upper hand
with his friend, and so Franko went.

Turning away from the last glimpse of his Countess, Raikes crossed the
bridge, and had not strolled far beneath the bare branches of one of the
long green walks, when he perceived a gentleman with two ladies leaning
on him.

'Now, there,' moralized this youth; 'now, what do you say to that? Do you
call that fair? He can't be happy, and it's not in nature for them to be
satisfied. And yet, if I went up and attempted to please them all by
taking one away, the probabilities are that he would knock me down. Such
is life! We won't be made comfortable!'

Nevertheless, he passed them with indifference, for it was merely the
principle he objected to; and, indeed, he was so wrapped in his own
conceptions, that his name had to be called behind him twice before he
recognized Evan Harrington, Mrs. Strike, and Miss Bonner. The arrangement
he had previously thought good, was then spontaneously adopted. Mrs.
Strike reposed her fair hand upon his arm, and Juliana, with a timid
glance of pleasure, walked ahead in Evan's charge. Close neighbourhood
between the couples was not kept. The genius of Mr. Raikes was wasted in
manoeuvres to lead his beautiful companion into places where he could be
seen with her, and envied. It was, perhaps, more flattering that she
should betray a marked disposition to prefer solitude in his society. But
this idea illumined him only near the moment of parting. Then he saw it;
then he groaned in soul, and besought Evan to have one more promenade,
saying, with characteristic cleverness in the masking of his real
thoughts: 'It gives us an appetite, you know.'

In Evan's face and Juliana's there was not much sign that any protraction
of their walk together would aid this beneficent process of nature. He
took her hand gently, and when he quitted it, it dropped.

'The Rose, the Rose of Beckley Court!' Raikes sang aloud. 'Why, this is a
day of meetings. Behold John Thomas in the rear-a tower of plush and
powder! Shall I rush-shall I pluck her from the aged stem?'

On the gravel-walk above them Rose passed with her aristocratic
grandmother, muffled in furs. She marched deliberately, looking coldly
before her. Evan's face was white, and Juliana, whose eyes were fixed on
him, shuddered.

'I'm chilled,' she murmured to Caroline. 'Let us go.' Caroline eyed Evan
with a meaning sadness.

'We will hurry to our carriage,' she said.

They were seen to make a little circuit so as not to approach Rose; after
whom, thoughtless of his cruelty, Evan bent his steps slowly, halting
when she reached her carriage. He believed--rather, he knew that she had
seen him. There was a consciousness in the composed outlines of her face
as she passed: the indifference was too perfect. Let her hate him if she
pleased. It recompensed him that the air she wore should make her
appearance more womanly; and that black dress and crape-bonnet, in some
way, touched him to mournful thoughts of her that helped a partial
forgetfulness of wounded self.

Rose had driven off. He was looking at the same spot, where Caroline's
hand waved from her carriage. Juliana was not seen. Caroline requested
her to nod to him once, but she would not. She leaned back hiding her
eyes, and moving a petulant shoulder at Caroline's hand.

'Has he offended you, my child?'

Juliana answered harshly:

'No-no.'

The wheels rolled on, and Caroline tried other subjects, knowing possibly
that they would lead Juliana back to this of her own accord.

'You saw how she treated him?' the latter presently said, without moving
her hand from before her eyes.

'Yes, dear. He forgives her, and will forget it.'

'Oh!' she clenched her long thin hand, 'I pray that I may not die before
I have made her repent it. She shall!'

Juliana looked glitteringly in Caroline's face, and then fell a-weeping,
and suffered herself to be folded and caressed. The storm was long
subsiding.

'Dearest! you are better now?' said Caroline.

She whispered: 'Yes.'

'My brother has only to know you, dear--'

'Hush! That's past.' Juliana stopped her; and, on a deep breath that
threatened to break to sobs, she added in a sweeter voice than was common
to her, 'Ah, why--why did you tell him about the Beckley property?'

Caroline vainly strove to deny that she had told him. Juliana's head
shook mournfully at her; and now Caroline knew what Juliana meant when
she begged so earnestly that Evan should be kept ignorant of her change
of fortune.

Some days after this the cold struck Juliana's chest, and she sickened.
The three sisters held a sitting to consider what it was best to do with
her. Caroline proposed to take her to Beckley without delay. Harriet was
of opinion that the least they could do was to write to her relatives and
make them instantly aware of her condition.

But the Countess said 'No,' to both. Her argument was, that Juliana being
independent, they were by no means bound to 'bundle' her, in her state,
back to a place where she had been so shamefully maltreated: that here
she would live, while there she would certainly die: that absence of
excitement was her medicine, and that here she had it. Mrs. Andrew,
feeling herself responsible as the young lady's hostess, did not
acquiesce in the Countess's views till she had consulted Juliana; and
then apologies for giving trouble were breathed on the one hand;
sympathy, condolences, and professions of esteem, on the other. Juliana
said, she was but slightly ill, would soon recover. Entreated not to
leave them before she was thoroughly re-established, and to consent to be
looked on as one of the family, she sighed, and said it was the utmost
she could hope. Of course the ladies took this compliment to themselves,
but Evan began to wax in importance. The Countess thought it nearly time
to acknowledge him, and supported the idea by a citation of the doctrine,
that to forgive is Christian. It happened, however, that Harriet, who had
less art and more will than her sisters, was inflexible. She, living in a
society but a few steps above Tailordom, however magnificent in
expenditure and resources, abhorred it solemnly. From motives of
prudence, as well as personal disgust, she continued firm in declining to
receive her brother. She would not relent when the Countess pointed out a
dim, a dazzling prospect, growing out of Evan's proximity to the heiress
of Beckley Court; she was not to be moved when Caroline suggested that
the specific for the frail invalid was Evan's presence. As to this,
Juliana was sufficiently open, though, as she conceived, her art was
extreme.

'Do you know why I stay to vex and trouble you?' she asked Caroline.
'Well, then, it is that I may see your brother united to you all: and
then I shall go, happy.'

The pretext served also to make him the subject of many conversations.
Twice a week a bunch of the best flowers that could be got were sorted
and arranged by her, and sent namelessly to brighten Evan's chamber.

'I may do such a thing as this, you know, without incurring blame,' she
said.

The sight of a love so humble in its strength and affluence, sent
Caroline to Evan on a fruitless errand. What availed it, that accused of
giving lead to his pride in refusing the heiress, Evan should declare
that he did not love her? He did not, Caroline admitted as possible, but
he might. He might learn to love her, and therefore he was wrong in
wounding her heart. She related flattering anecdotes. She drew tearful
pictures of Juliana's love for him: and noticing how he seemed to prize
his bouquet of flowers, said:

'Do you love them for themselves, or the hand that sent them?'

Evan blushed, for it had been a struggle for him to receive them, as he
thought, from Rose in secret. The flowers lost their value; the song that
had arisen out of them, 'Thou livest in my memory,' ceased. But they came
still. How many degrees from love gratitude may be, I have not reckoned.
I rather fear it lies on the opposite shore. From a youth to a girl, it
may yet be very tender; the more so, because their ages commonly exclude
such a sentiment, and nature seems willing to make a transition stage of
it. Evan wrote to Juliana. Incidentally he expressed a wish to see her.
Juliana was under doctor's interdict: but she was not to be prevented
from going when Evan wished her to go. They met in the park, as before,
and he talked to her five minutes through the carriage window.

'Was it worth the risk, my poor child?' said Caroline, pityingly.

Juliana cried: 'Oh! I would give anything to live!'

A man might have thought that she made no direct answer.

'Don't you think I am patient? Don't you think I am very patient?'she
asked Caroline, winningly, on their way home.

Caroline could scarcely forbear from smiling at the feverish anxiety she
showed for a reply that should confirm her words and hopes.

'So we must all be!'she said, tend that common-place remark caused
Juliana to exclaim: 'Prisoners have lived in a dungeon, on bread and
water, for years!'

Whereat Caroline kissed her so tenderly that Juliana tried to look
surprised, and failing, her thin lips quivered; she breathed a soft
'hush,' and fell on Caroline's bosom.

She was transparent enough in one thing; but the flame which burned
within her did not light her through.

Others, on other matters, were quite as transparent to her.

Caroline never knew that she had as much as told her the moral suicide
Evan had committed at Beckley; so cunningly had she been probed at
intervals with little casual questions; random interjections, that one
who loved him could not fail to meet; petty doubts requiring
elucidations. And the Countess, kind as her sentiments had grown toward
the afflicted creature, was compelled to proclaim her densely stupid in
material affairs. For the Countess had an itch of the simplest feminine
curiosity to know whether the dear child had any notion of accomplishing
a certain holy duty of the perishable on this earth, who might possess
worldly goods; and no hints--not even plain speaking, would do. Juliana
did not understand her at all.

The Countess exhibited a mourning-ring on her finger, Mrs. Bonner's
bequest to her.

'How fervent is my gratitude to my excellent departed friend for this! A
legacy, however trifling, embalms our dear lost ones in the memory!'

It was of no avail. Juliana continued densely stupid. Was she not worse?
The Countess could not, 'in decency,' as she observed, reveal to her who
had prompted Mrs. Bonner so to bequeath the Beckley estates as to 'ensure
sweet Juliana's future'; but ought not Juliana to divine it?--Juliana at
least had hints sufficient.

Cold Spring winds were now blowing. Juliana had resided no less than two
months with the Cogglesbys. She was entreated still to remain, and she
did. From Lady Jocelyn she heard not a word of remonstrance; but from
Miss Carrington and Mrs. Shorne she received admonishing letters.
Finally, Mr. Harry Jocelyn presented himself. In London, and without any
of that needful subsistence which a young gentleman feels the want of in
London more than elsewhere, Harry began to have thoughts of his own,
without any instigation from his aunts, about devoting himself to
business. So he sent his card up to his cousin, and was graciously met in
the drawing-room by the Countess, who ruffled him and smoothed him, and
would possibly have distracted his soul from business had his
circumstances been less straitened. Juliana was declared to be too unwell
to see him that day. He called a second time, and enjoyed a similar
greeting. His third visit procured him an audience alone with Juliana,
when, at once, despite the warnings of his aunts, the frank fellow
plunged, 'medias res'. Mrs. Bonner had left him totally dependent on his
parents and his chances.

'A desperate state of things, isn't it, Juley? I think I shall go for a
soldier--common, you know.'

Instead of shrieking out against such a debasement of his worth and
gentility, as was to be expected, Juliana said:

'That's what Mr. Harrington thought of doing.'

'He! If he'd had the pluck he would.'

'His duty forbade it, and he did not.'

'Duty! a confounded tailor! What fools we were to have him at Beckley!'

'Has the Countess been unkind to you Harry?'

'I haven't seen her to-day, and don't want to. It's my little dear old
Juley I came for.'

'Dear Harry!' she thanked him with eyes and hands. 'Come often, won't
you?'

'Why, ain't you coming back to us, Juley?'

'Not yet. They are very kind to me here. How is Rose?'

'Oh, quite jolly. She and Ferdinand are thick again. Balls every night.
She dances like the deuce. They want me to go; but I ain't the sort of
figure for those places, and besides, I shan't dance till I can lead you
out.'

A spur of laughter at Harry's generous nod brought on Juliana's cough.
Harry watched her little body shaken and her reddened eyes. Some real
emotion--perhaps the fear which healthy young people experience at the
sight of deadly disease--made Harry touch her arm with the softness of a
child's touch.

'Don't be alarmed, Harry,' she said. 'It's nothing--only Winter. I'm
determined to get well.'

'That's right,' quoth he, recovering. 'I know you've got pluck, or you
wouldn't have stood that operation.'

'Let me see: when was that?' she asked slyly.

Harry coloured, for it related to a time when he had not behaved prettily
to her.

'There, Juley, that 's all forgotten. I was a fool-a scoundrel, if you
like. I 'm sorry for it now.'

'Do you want money, Harry?'

'Oh, money!'

'Have you repaid Mr. Harrington yet?'

'There--no, I haven't. Bother it! that fellow's name's always on your
tongue. I'll tell you what, Juley--but it's no use. He's a low, vulgar
adventurer.'

'Dear Harry,' said Juliana, softly; 'don't bring your aunts with you when
you come to see me.'

'Well, then I'll tell you, Juley. It's enough that he's a beastly
tailor.'

'Quite enough,' she responded; 'and he is neither a fool nor a
scoundrel.'

Harry's memory for his own speech was not quick. When Juliana's calm
glance at him called it up, he jumped from his chair, crying: 'Upon my
honour, I'll tell you what, Juley! If I had money to pay him to-morrow,
I'd insult him on the spot.'

Juliana meditated, and said: 'Then all your friends must wish you to
continue poor.'

This girl had once been on her knees to him. She had looked up to him
with admiring love, and he had given her a crumb or so occasionally,
thinking her something of a fool, and more of a pest; but now he could
not say a word to her without being baffled in an elderly-sisterly tone
exasperating him so far that he positively wished to marry her, and
coming to the point, offered himself with downright sincerity, and was
rejected. Harry left in a passion. Juliana confided the secret to
Caroline, who suggested interested motives, which Juliana would not hear
of.

'Ah,' said the Countess, when Caroline mentioned the case to her, 'of
course the poor thing cherishes her first offer. She would believe a
curate to be disinterested! But mind that Evan has due warning when she
is to meet him. Mind that he is dressed becomingly.'

Caroline asked why.

'Because, my dear, she is enamoured of his person. These little unhealthy
creatures are always attracted by the person. She thinks it to be Evan's
qualities. I know better: it is his person. Beckley Court may be lost by
a shabby coat!'

The Countess had recovered from certain spiritual languors into which she
had fallen after her retreat. Ultimate victory hung still in the balance.
Oh! if Evan would only marry this little sufferer, who was so sure to die
within a year! or, if she lived (for marriage has often been as a
resurrection to some poor female invalids), there was Beckley Court, a
splendid basis for future achievements. Reflecting in this fashion, the
Countess pardoned her brother. Glowing hopes hung fresh lamps in her
charitable breast. She stepped across the threshold of Tailordom, won Mr.
Goren's heart by her condescension, and worked Evan into a sorrowful mood
concerning the invalid. Was not Juliana his only active friend? In
return, he said things which only required a little colouring to be very
acceptable to her.

The game waxed exciting again. The enemy (the Jocelyn party) was alert,
but powerless. The three sisters were almost wrought to perform a
sacrifice far exceeding Evan's. They nearly decided to summon him to the
house: but the matter being broached at table one evening, Major Strike
objected to it so angrily that they abandoned it, with the satisfactory
conclusion that if they did wrong it was the Major's fault.

Meantime Juliana had much on her conscience. She knew Evan to be
innocent, and she allowed Rose to think him guilty. Could she bring her
heart to join them? That was not in her power: but desiring to be lulled
by a compromise, she devoted herself to make his relatives receive him;
and on days of bitter winds she would drive out to meet him, answering
all expostulations with--'I should not go if he were here.'

The game waxed hot. It became a question whether Evan should be admitted
to the house in spite of the Major. Juliana now made an extraordinary
move. Having the Count with her in the carriage one day, she stopped in
front of Mr. Goren's shop, and Evan had to come out. The Count returned
home extremely mystified. Once more the unhappy Countess was obliged to
draw bills on the fabulous; and as she had recommenced the system, which
was not without its fascinations to her, Juliana, who had touched the
spring, had the full benefit of it. The Countess had deceived her
before--what of that? She spoke things sweet to hear. Who could be false
that gave her heart food on which it lived?

One night Juliana returned from her drive alarmingly ill. She was watched
through the night by Caroline and the Countess alternately. In the
morning the sisters met.

'She has consented to let us send for a doctor,' said Caroline.

'Her chief desire seems to be a lawyer,' said the Countess.

'Yes, but the doctor must be sent for first.'

'Yes, indeed! But it behoves us to previse that the doctor does not kill
her before the lawyer comes.'

Caroline looked at Louisa, and said: 'Are you ignorant?'

'No--what?' cried the Countess eagerly.

'Evan has written to tell Lady Jocelyn the state of her health, and--'

'And that naturally has aggravated her malady!' The Countess cramped her
long fingers. 'The child heard it from him yesterday! Oh, I could swear
at that brother!'

She dropped into a chair and sat rigid and square-jawed, a sculpture of
unutterable rage.

In the afternoon Lady Jocelyn arrived. The doctor was there--the lawyer
had gone. Without a word of protest Juliana accompanied her ladyship to
Beckley Court. Here was a blow!

But Andrew was preparing one more mighty still. What if the Cogglesby
Brewery proved a basis most unsound? Where must they fall then? Alas! on
that point whence they sprang. If not to Perdition--Tailordom!



CHAPTER XLI

REVEALS AN ABOMINABLE PLOT OF THE BROTHERS COGGLESBY

A lively April day, with strong gusts from the Southwest, and long
sweeping clouds, saluted the morning coach from London to Lymport.
Thither Tailordom triumphant was bearing its victim at a rattling pace,
to settle him, and seal him for ever out of the ranks of gentlemen:
Society, meantime, howling exclusion to him in the background: 'Out of
our halls, degraded youth: The smiles of turbaned matrons: the sighs of
delicate maids; genial wit, educated talk, refined scandal, vice in
harness, dinners sentineled by stately plush: these, the flavour of life,
are not for you, though you stole a taste of them, wretched impostor! Pay
for it with years of remorse!'

The coach went rushing against the glorious high wind. It stirred his
blood, freshened his cheeks, gave a bright tone of zest to his eyes, as
he cast them on the young green country. Not banished from the breath of
heaven, or from self-respect, or from the appetite for the rewards that
are to follow duties done! Not banished from the help that is always
reached to us when we have fairly taken the right road: and that for him
is the road to Lymport. Let the kingdom of Gilt Gingerbread howl as it
will! We are no longer children, but men: men who have bitten hard at
experience, and know the value of a tooth: who have had our hearts
bruised, and cover them with armour: who live not to feed, but look to
food that we may live! What matters it that yonder high-spiced kingdom
should excommunicate such as we are? We have rubbed off the gilt, and
have assumed the command of our stomachs. We are men from this day!

Now, you would have thought Evan's companions, right and left of him,
were the wretches under sentence, to judge from appearances. In contrast
with his look of insolent pleasure, Andrew, the moment an eye was on him,
exhibited the cleverest impersonation of the dumps ever seen: while Mr.
Raikes was from head to foot nothing better than a moan made visible.
Nevertheless, they both agreed to rally Evan, and bid him be of good
cheer.

'Don't be down, Van; don't be down, my boy,' said Andrew, rubbing his
hands gloomily.

'I? do I look it?' Evan answered, laughing.

'Capital acting!' exclaimed Raikes. 'Try and keep it up.'

'Well, I hope you're acting too,' said Evan.

Raikes let his chest fall like a collapsing bellows.

At the end of five minutes, he remarked: 'I've been sitting on it the
whole morning! There's violent inflammation, I'm persuaded. Another hour,
and I jump slap from the summit of the coach!'

Evan turned to Andrew.

'Do you think he'll be let off?'

'Mr. Raikes? Can't say. You see, Van, it depends upon how Old Tom has
taken his bad luck. Ahem! Perhaps he'll be all the stricter; and as a man
of honour, Mr. Raikes, you see, can't very well--'

'By Jove! I wish I wasn't a man of honour!' Raikes interposed, heavily.

'You see, Van, Old Tom's circumstances'--Andrew ducked, to smother a sort
of laughter--'are now such that he'd be glad of the money to let him off,
no doubt; but Mr. Raikes has spent it, I can't lend it, and you haven't
got it, and there we all are. At the end of the year he's free, and
he--ha! ha! I'm not a bit the merrier for laughing, I can tell you.'

Catching another glimpse of Evan's serious face, Andrew fell into louder
laughter; checking it with doleful solemnity.

Up hill and down hill, and past little homesteads shining with yellow
crocuses; across wide brown heaths, whose outlines raised in Evan's mind
the night of his funeral walk, and tossed up old feelings dead as the
whirling dust. At last Raikes called out:

'The towers of Fallow field; heigho!'

And Andrew said:

'Now then, Van: if Old Tom's anywhere, he's here. You get down at the
Dragon, and don't you talk to me, but let me go in. It'll be just the
hour he dines in the country. Isn't it a shame of him to make me face
every man of the creditors--eh?'

Evan gave Andrew's hand an affectionate squeeze, at which Andrew had to
gulp down something--reciprocal emotion, doubtless.

'Hark,' said Raikes, as the horn of the guard was heard. 'Once that sound
used to set me caracoling before an abject multitude. I did wonders. All
London looked on me! It had more effect on me than champagne. Now I hear
it--the whole charm has vanished! I can't see a single old castle. Would
you have thought it possible that a small circular bit of tin on a man's
person could produce such changes in him?'

'You are a donkey to wear it,' said Evan.

'I pledged my word as a gentleman, and thought it small, for the money!'
said Raikes. 'This is the first coach I ever travelled on, without making
the old whip burst with laughing. I'm not myself. I'm haunted. I'm
somebody else.'

The three passengers having descended, a controversy commenced between
Evan and Andrew as to which should pay. Evan had his money out; Andrew
dashed it behind him; Evan remonstrated.

'Well, you mustn't pay for us two, Andrew. I would have let you do it
once, but--'

'Stuff!' cried Andrew. 'I ain't paying--it 's the creditors of the
estate, my boy!'

Evan looked so ingenuously surprised and hurt at his lack of principle,
that Andrew chucked a sixpence at a small boy, saying,

'If you don't let me have my own way, Van, I 'll shy my purse after it.
What do you mean, sir, by treating me like a beggar?'

'Our friend Harrington can't humour us,' quoth Raikes. 'For myself, I
candidly confess I prefer being paid for'; and he leaned contentedly
against one of the posts of the inn till the filthy dispute was arranged
to the satisfaction of the ignobler mind. There Andrew left them, and
went to Mrs. Sockley, who, recovered from her illness, smiled her usual
placid welcome to a guest.

'You know me, ma'am?'

'Oh, yes! The London Mr. Cogglesby!'

'Now, ma'am, look here. I've come for my brother. Don't be alarmed. No
danger as yet. But, mind! if you attempt to conceal him from his lawful
brother, I'll summon here the myrmidons of the law.'

Mrs. Sockley showed a serious face.

'You know his habits, Mr. Cogglesby; and one doesn't go against any one
of his whimsies, or there's consequences: but the house is open to you,
sir. I don't wish to hide him.'

Andrew accepted this intelligent evasion of Tom Cogglesby's orders as
sufficient, and immediately proceeded upstairs. A door shut on the first
landing. Andrew went to this door and knocked. No answer. He tried to
open it, but found that he had been forestalled. After threatening to
talk business through the key-hole, the door was unlocked, and Old Tom
appeared.

'So! now you're dogging me into the country. Be off; make an appointment.
Saturday's my holiday. You know that.'

Andrew pushed through the doorway, and, by way of an emphatic reply and a
silencing one, delivered a punch slap into Old Tom's belt.

'Confound you, Nan!' said Old Tom, grimacing, but friendly, as if his
sympathies had been irresistibly assailed.

'It 's done, Tom! I've done it. Won my bet, now,' Andrew exclaimed. 'The
women-poor creatures! What a state they're in. I pity 'em.'

Old Tom pursed his lips, and eyed his brother incredulously, but with
curious eagerness.

'Oh, Lord! what a face I've had to wear!' Andrew continued, and while he
sank into a chair and rubbed his handkerchief over his crisp hair, Old
Tom let loose a convinced and exulting, 'ha! ha!'

'Yes, you may laugh. I've had all the bother,' said Andrew.

'Serve ye right--marrying such cattle,' Old Tom snapped at him.

'They believe we're bankrupt--owe fifty thousand clear, Tom!'

'Ha! ha!'

'Brewery stock and household furniture to be sold by general auction,
Friday week.'

'Ha! ha!'

'Not a place for any of us to poke our heads into. I talked about
"pitiless storms" to my poor Harry--no shelter to be had unless we go
down to Lymport, and stop with their brother in shop!'

Old Tom did enjoy this. He took a great gulp of air for a tremendous
burst of laughter, and when this was expended and reflection came, his
features screwed, as if the acidest of flavours had ravished his palate.

'Bravo, Nan! Didn't think you were man enough. Ha! ha! Nan--I say--eh?
how did ye get on behind the curtains?'

The tale, to guess by Andrew's face, appeared to be too strongly infused
with pathos for revelation.

'Will they go, Nan, eh? d' ye think they 'll go?'

'Where else can they go, Tom? They must go there, or on the parish, you
know.'

'They'll all troop down to the young tailor--eh?'

'They can't sleep in the parks, Tom.'

'No. They can't get into Buckingham Palace, neither--'cept as housemaids.
'Gad, they're howling like cats, I'd swear--nuisance to the
neighbourhood--ha! ha!'

Old Tom's cruel laughter made Andrew feel for the unhappy ladies. He
stuck his forehead, and leaned forward, saying: 'I don't know--'pon my
honour, I don't know--can't think we've--quite done right to punish 'em
so.'

This acted like cold water on Old Tom's delight. He pitched it back in
the shape of a doubt of what Andrew had told him. Whereupon Andrew defied
him to face three miserable women on the verge of hysterics; and Old Tom,
beginning to chuckle again, rejoined that it would bring them to their
senses, and emancipate him.

'You may laugh, Mr. Tom,' said Andrew; 'but if poor Harry should find me
out, deuce a bit more home for me.'

Old Tom looked at him keenly, and rapped the table. 'Swear you did it,
Nan.'

'You promise you'll keep the secret,' said Andrew.

'Never make promises.'

'Then there's a pretty life for me! I did it for that poor dear boy. You
were only up to one of your jokes--I see that. Confound you, Old Tom,
you've been making a fool of me.'

The flattering charge was not rejected by Old Tom, who now had his
brother to laugh at as well. Andrew affected to be indignant and
desperate.

'If you'd had a heart, Tom, you'd have saved the poor fellow without any
bother at all. What do you think? When I told him of our smash--ha! ha!
it isn't such a bad joke-well, I went to him, hanging my head, and he
offered to arrange our affairs--that is--'

'Damned meddlesome young dog!' cried Old Tom, quite in a rage.

'There--you're up in a twinkling,' said Andrew. 'Don't you see he
believed it, you stupid Old Tom? Lord! to hear him say how sorry he was,
and to see how glad he looked at the chance of serving us!'

'Serving us!' Tom sneered.

'Ha!' went Andrew. 'Yes. There. You're a deuced deal prouder than fifty
peers. You're an upside-down old despot!'

No sharper retort rising to Old Tom's lips, he permitted his brother's
abuse of him to pass, declaring that bandying words was not his business,
he not being a Parliament man.

'How about the Major, Nan? He coming down, too?'

'Major!' cried Andrew. 'Lucky if he keeps his commission. Coming down?
No. He's off to the Continent.'

'Find plenty of scamps there to keep him company,' added Tom. 'So he's
broke--eh? ha! ha!'

'Tom,' said Andrew, seriously, 'I'll tell you all about it, if you 'll
swear not to split on me, because it would really upset poor Harry so.
She 'd think me such a beastly hypocrite, I couldn't face her
afterwards.'

'Lose what pluck you have--eh?' Tom jerked out his hand, and bade his
brother continue.

Compelled to trust in him without a promise, Andrew said: 'Well, then,
after we'd arranged it, I went back to Harry, and begged her to have poor
Van at the house told her what I hoped you'd do for him about getting him
into the Brewery. She's very kind, Tom, 'pon my honour she is. She was
willing, only--'

'Only--eh?'

'Well, she was so afraid it'd hurt her sisters to see him there.'

Old Tom saw he was in for excellent fun, and wouldn't spoil it for the
world.

'Yes, Nan?'

'So I went to Caroline. She was easy enough; and she went to the
Countess.'

'Well, and she--?'

'She was willing, too, till Lady Jocelyn came and took Miss Bonner home
to Beckley, and because Evan had written to my lady to fetch her, the
Countess--she was angry. That was all. Because of that, you know. But yet
she agreed. But when Miss Bonner had gone, it turned out that the Major
was the obstacle. They were all willing enough to have Evan there, but
the Major refused. I didn't hear him. I wasn't going to ask him. I mayn't
be a match for three women, but man to man, eh, Tom? You'd back me there?
So Harry said the Major 'd make Caroline miserable, if his wishes were
disrespected. By George, I wish I'd know, then. Don't you think it odd,
Tom, now? There's a Duke of Belfield the fellow had hooked into his
Company; and--through Evan I heard--the Duke had his name struck off.
After that, the Major swore at the Duke once or twice, and said Caroline
wasn't to go out with him. Suddenly, he insists that she shall go. Days
the poor thing kept crying! One day, he makes her go. She hasn't the
spirit of my Harry or the Countess. By good luck, Van, who was hunting
ferns for some friends of his, met them on Sunday in Richmond Park, and
Van took her away from the Duke. But, Tom, think of Van seeing a fellow
watching her wherever she went, and hearing the Duke's coachman tell that
fellow he had orders to drive his master and a lady hard on to the sea
that night. I don't believe it--it wasn't Caroline! But what do you think
of our finding out that beast of a spy to be in the Major's pay? We did.
Van put a constable on his track; we found him out, and he confessed it.
A fact, Tom! That decided me. If it was only to get rid of a brute, I
determined I 'd do it, and I did. Strike came to me to get my name for a
bill that night. 'Gad, he looked blanker than his bill when he heard of
us two bankrupt. I showed him one or two documents I'd got ready. Says
he: "Never mind; it'll only be a couple of hundred more in the schedule."
Stop, Tom! he's got some of our blood. I don't think he meant it. He is
hard pushed. Well, I gave him a twentier, and he was off the next night.
You 'll soon see all about the Company in the papers.'

At the conclusion of Andrew's recital, Old Tom thrummed and looked on the
floor under a heavy frown. His mouth worked dubiously, and, from moment
to moment, he plucked at his waistcoat and pulled it down, throwing back
his head and glaring.

'I 've knocked that fellow over once,' he said. 'Wish he hadn't got up
again.'

Andrew nodded.

'One good thing, Nan. He never boasted of our connection. Much obliged to
him.'

'Yes,' said Andrew, who was gladly watching Old Tom's change of mood with
a quiescent aspect.

'Um!--must keep it quiet from his poor old mother.'

Andrew again affirmatived his senior's remarks. That his treatment of Old
Tom was sound, he presently had proof of. The latter stood up, and after
sniffing in an injured way for about a minute, launched out his right
leg, and vociferated that he would like to have it in his power to kick
all the villains out of the world: a modest demand Andrew at once chimed
in with; adding that, were such a faculty extended to him, he would not
object to lose the leg that could benefit mankind so infinitely, and
consented to its following them. Then, Old Tom, who was of a practical
turn, meditated, swung his foot, and gave one grim kick at the imaginary
bundle of villains, discharged them headlong straight into space. Andrew,
naturally imitative, and seeing that he had now to kick them flying,
attempted to excel Old Tom in the vigour of his delivery. No wonder that
the efforts of both were heating: they were engaged in the task of
ridding the globe of the larger half of its inhabitants. Tom perceived
Andrew's useless emulation, and with a sound translated by 'yack,' sent
his leg out a long way. Not to be outdone, Andrew immediately, with a
still louder 'yack,' committed himself to an effort so violent that the
alternative between his leg coming off, or his being taken off his leg,
was propounded by nature, and decided by the laws of gravity in a trice.
Joyful grunts were emitted by Old Tom at the sight of Andrew prostrate,
rubbing his pate. But Mrs. Sockley, to whom the noise of Andrew's fall
had suggested awful fears of a fratricidal conflict upstairs, hurried
forthwith to announce to them that the sovereign remedy for human ills,
the promoter of concord, the healer of feuds, the central point of man's
destiny in the flesh--Dinner, was awaiting them.

To the dinner they marched.

Of this great festival be it simply told that the supply was copious and
of good quality--much too good and copious for a bankrupt host: that Evan
and Mr. John Raikes were formally introduced to Old Tom before the repast
commenced, and welcomed some three minutes after he had decided the
flavour of his first glass; that Mr. Raikes in due time preferred his
petition for release from a dreadful engagement, and furnished vast
amusement to the company under Old Tom's hand, until, by chance, he
quoted a scrap of Latin, at which the brothers Cogglesby, who would have
faced peers and princes without being disconcerted, or performing mental
genuflexions, shut their mouths and looked injured, unhappy, and in the
presence of a superior: Mr. Raikes not being the man to spare them.
Moreover, a surprise was afforded to Evan. Andrew stated to Old Tom that
the hospitality of Main Street, Lymport,--was open to him. Strange to
say, Old Tom accepted it on the spot, observing, 'You're master of the
house--can do what you like, if you 're man enough,' and adding that he
thanked him, and would come in a day or two. The case of Mr. Raikes was
still left uncertain, for as the bottle circulated, he exhibited such a
faculty for apt, but to the brothers, totally incomprehensible quotation,
that they fled from him without leaving him time to remember what special
calamity was on his mind, or whether this earth was other than an abode
conceived in great jollity for his life-long entertainment.



CHAPTER XLII

JULIANA

The sick night-light burned steadily in Juliana's chamber. On a couch,
beside her bed, Caroline lay sleeping, tired with a long watch. Two
sentences had been passed on Juliana: one on her heart: one on her body:
'Thou art not loved'; and, 'Thou must die.' The frail passion of her
struggle against her destiny was over with her. Quiet as that quiet which
Nature was taking her to, her body reposed. Calm as the solitary
night-light before her open eyes, her spirit was wasting away. 'If I am
not loved, then let me die!' In such a sense she bowed to her fate.

At an hour like this, watching the round of light on the ceiling, with
its narrowing inner rings, a sufferer from whom pain has fled looks back
to the shores she is leaving, and would be well with them who walk there.
It is false to imagine that schemers and workers in the dark are
destitute of the saving gift of conscience. They have it, and it is
perhaps made livelier in them than with easy people; and therefore, they
are imperatively spurred to hoodwink it. Hence, their self-delusion is
deep and endures. They march to their object, and gaining or losing it,
the voice that calls to them is the voice of a blind creature, whom any
answer, provided that the answer is ready, will silence. And at an hour
like this, when finally they snatch their minute of sight on the
threshold of black night, their souls may compare with yonder shining
circle on the ceiling, which, as the light below gasps for air,
contracts, and extends but to mingle with the darkness. They would be
nobler, better, boundlessly good to all;--to those who have injured them
to those whom they have injured. Alas! for any definite deed the limit of
their circle is immoveable, and they must act within it. The trick they
have played themselves imprisons them. Beyond it, they cease to be.

Lying in this utter stillness, Juliana thought of Rose; of her beloved by
Evan. The fever that had left her blood, had left it stagnant, and her
thoughts were quite emotionless. She looked faintly on a far picture. She
saw Rose blooming with pleasures in Elburne House, sliding as a boat
borne by the river's tide to sea, away from her living joy. The breast of
Rose was lucid to her, and in that hour of insight she had clear
knowledge of her cousin's heart; how it scoffed at its base love, and
unwittingly betrayed the power on her still, by clinging to the world and
what it would give her to fill the void; how externally the lake was
untroubled, and a mirror to the passing day; and how within there pressed
a flood against an iron dam. Evan, too, she saw. The Countess was right
in her judgement of Juliana's love. Juliana looked very little to his
qualities. She loved him when she thought him guilty, which made her
conceive that her love was of a diviner cast than Rose was capable of.
Guilt did not spoil his beauty to her; his gentleness and glowing manhood
were unchanged; and when she knew him as he was, the revelation of his
high nature simply confirmed her impression of his physical perfections.
She had done him a wrong; at her death news would come to him, and it
might be that he would bless her name. Because she sighed no longer for
those dear lips and strong arms to close about her tremulous frame, it
seemed to her that she had quite surrendered him. Generous to Evan, she
would be just to Rose. Beneath her pillow she found pencil and paper, and
with difficulty, scarce seeing her letters in the brown light, she began
to trace lines of farewell to Rose. Her conscience dictated to her thus,
'Tell Rose that she was too ready to accept his guilt; and that in this
as in all things, she acted with the precipitation of her character. Tell
her that you always trusted, and that now you know him innocent. Give her
the proofs you have. Show that he did it to shield his intriguing sister.
Tell her that you write this only to make her just to him. End with a
prayer that Rose may be happy.'

Ere Juliana had finished one sentence, she resigned the pencil. Was it
not much, even at the gates of death, to be the instrument to send Rose
into his arms? The picture swayed before her, helping her weakness. She
found herself dreaming that he had kissed her once. Dorothy, she
remembered, had danced up to her one day, to relate what the maids of the
house said of the gentleman--(at whom, it is known, they look with the
licence of cats toward kings); and Dorothy's fresh careless mouth had
told how one observant maid, amorously minded, proclaimed of Evan, to a
companion of her sex, that, 'he was the only gentleman who gave you an
idea of how he would look when he was kissing you.' Juliana cherished
that vision likewise. Young ladies are not supposed to do so, if menial
maids are; but Juliana did cherish it, and it possessed her fancy. Bear
in your recollection that she was not a healthy person. Diseased little
heroines may be made attractive, and are now popular; but strip off the
cleverly woven robe which is fashioned to cover them, and you will find
them in certain matters bearing a resemblance to menial maids.

While the thoughts of his kiss lasted, she could do nothing; but lay with
her two hands out on the bed, and her eyelids closed. Then waking, she
took the pencil again. It would not move: her bloodless fingers fell from
it.

'If they do not meet, and he never marries, I may claim him in the next
world,' she mused.

But conscience continued uneasy. She turned her wrist and trailed a
letter from beneath the pillow. It was from Mrs. Shorne. Juliana knew the
contents. She raised it unopened as high as her faltering hands
permitted, and read like one whose shut eyes read syllables of fire on
the darkness.

'Rose has at last definitely engaged herself to Ferdinand, you will be
glad to hear, and we may now treat her as a woman.'

Having absorbed these words, Juliana's hand found strength to write, with
little difficulty, what she had to say to Rose. She conceived it to be
neither sublime nor generous: not even good; merely her peculiar duty.
When it was done, she gave a long, low sigh of relief.

Caroline whispered, 'Dearest child, are you awake?'

'Yes,' she answered.

'Sorrowful, dear?'

'Very quiet.'

Caroline reached her hand over to her, and felt the paper. 'What is
this?'

'My good-bye to Rose. I want it folded now.'

Caroline slipped from the couch to fulfil her wish. She enclosed the
pencilled scrap of paper, sealed it, and asked, 'Is that right?'

'Now unlock my desk,' Juliana uttered, feebly. 'Put it beside a letter
addressed to a law-gentleman. Post both the morning I am gone.'

Caroline promised to obey, and coming to Juliana to mark her looks,
observed a faint pleased smile dying away, and had her hand gently
squeezed. Juliana's conscience had preceded her contentedly to its last
sleep; and she, beneath that round of light on the ceiling, drew on her
counted breaths in peace till dawn.



CHAPTER XLIII

ROSE

Have you seen a young audacious spirit smitten to the earth? It is a
singular study; and, in the case of young women, a trap for inexperienced
men. Rose, who had commanded and managed every one surrounding her since
infancy, how humble had she now become!--how much more womanly in
appearance, and more child-like at heart! She was as wax in Lady
Elburne's hands. A hint of that veiled episode, the Beckley campaign,
made Rose pliant, as if she had woven for herself a rod of scorpions. The
high ground she had taken; the perfect trust in one; the scorn of any
judgement, save her own; these had vanished from her. Rose, the tameless
heroine who had once put her mother's philosophy in action, was the
easiest filly that turbaned matron ever yet drove into the straight road
of the world. It even surprised Lady Jocelyn to see how wonderfully she
had been broken in by her grandmother. Her ladyship wrote to Drummond to
tell him of it, and Drummond congratulated her, saying, however: 'Changes
of this sort don't come of conviction. Wait till you see her at home. I
think they have been sticking pins into the sore part.'

Drummond knew Rose well. In reality there was no change in her. She was
only a suppliant to be spared from ridicule: spared from the application
of the scourge she had woven for herself.

And, ah! to one who deigned to think warmly still of such a disgraced
silly creature, with what gratitude she turned! He might well suppose
love alone could pour that profusion of jewels at his feet.

Ferdinand, now Lord Laxley, understood the merits of his finger-nails
better than the nature of young women; but he is not to be blamed for
presuming that Rose had learnt to adore him. Else why did she like his
company so much? He was not mistaken in thinking she looked up to him.
She seemed to beg to be taken into his noble serenity. In truth she
sighed to feel as he did, above everybody!--she that had fallen so low!
Above everybody!--born above them, and therefore superior by grace
divine! To this Rose Jocelyn had come--she envied the mind of Ferdinand.

He, you may be sure, was quite prepared to accept her homage. Rose he had
always known to be just the girl for him; spirited, fresh, and with fine
teeth; and once tied to you safe to be staunch. They walked together,
rode together, danced together. Her soft humility touched him to
eloquence. Say she was a little hypocrite, if you like, when the blood
came to her cheeks under his eyes. Say she was a heartless minx for
allowing it to be bruited that she and Ferdinand were betrothed. I can
but tell you that her blushes were blushes of gratitude to one who could
devote his time to such a disgraced silly creature, and that she, in her
abject state, felt a secret pleasure in the protection Ferdinand's name
appeared to extend over her, and was hardly willing to lose it.

So far Lady Elburne's tact and discipline had been highly successful. One
morning, in May, Ferdinand, strolling with Rose down the garden made a
positive appeal to her common sense and friendly feeling; by which she
understood that he wanted her consent to his marriage with her.

Rose answered:

'Who would have me?'

Ferdinand spoke pretty well, and ultimately got possession of her hand.
She let him keep it, thinking him noble for forgetting that another had
pressed it before him.

Some minutes later the letters were delivered. One of them contained
Juliana's dark-winged missive.

'Poor, poor Juley!' said Rose, dropping her head, after reading all that
was on the crumpled leaf with an inflexible face. And then, talking on,
long low sighs lifted her bosom at intervals. She gazed from time to time
with a wistful conciliatory air on Ferdinand. Rushing to her chamber, the
first cry her soul framed was:

'He did not kiss me!'

The young have a superstitious sense of something incontestably true in
the final protestations of the dead. Evan guiltless! she could not quite
take the meaning this revelation involved. That which had been dead was
beginning to move within her; but blindly: and now it stirred and
troubled; now sank. Guiltless all she had thought him! Oh! she knew she
could not have been deceived. But why, why had he hidden his sacrifice
from her?

'It is better for us both, of course,' said Rose, speaking the world's
wisdom, parrot-like, and bursting into tears the next minute. Guiltless,
and gloriously guiltless! but nothing--nothing to her!

She tried to blame him. It would not do. She tried to think of that
grovelling loathsome position painted to her by Lady Elburne's graphic
hand. Evan dispersed the gloomy shades like sunshine. Then in a sort of
terror she rejoiced to think she was partially engaged to Ferdinand, and
found herself crying again with exultation, that he had not kissed her:
for a kiss on her mouth was to Rose a pledge and a bond.

The struggle searched her through: bared her weakness, probed her
strength; and she, seeing herself, suffered grievously in her self-love.
Am I such a coward, inconstant, cold? she asked. Confirmatory answers
coming, flung her back under the shield of Ferdinand if for a moment her
soul stood up armed and defiant, it was Evan's hand she took.

To whom do I belong? was another terrible question. In her ideas, if Evan
was not chargeable with that baseness which had sundered them he might
claim her yet, if he would. If he did, what then? Must she go to him?

Impossible: she was in chains. Besides, what a din of laughter there
would be to see her led away by him. Twisting her joined hands: weeping
for her cousin, as she thought, Rose passed hours of torment over
Juliana's legacy to her.

'Why did I doubt him?' she cried, jealous that any soul should have known
and trusted him better. Jealous and I am afraid that the kindling of that
one feature of love relighted the fire of her passion thus fervidly. To
be outstripped in generosity was hateful to her. Rose, naturally, could
not reflect that a young creature like herself, fighting against the
world, as we call it, has all her faculties at the utmost stretch, and is
often betrayed by failing nature when the will is still valiant.

And here she sat-in chains! 'Yes! I am fit only to be the wife of an idle
brainless man, with money and a title,' she said, in extreme
self-contempt. She caught a glimpse of her whole life in the horrid tomb
of his embrace, and questions whether she could yield her hand to
him--whether it was right in the eyes of heaven, rushed impetuously to
console her, and defied anything in the shape of satisfactory
affirmations. Nevertheless, the end of the struggle was, that she felt
that she was bound to Ferdinand.

'But this I will do,' said Rose, standing with heat-bright eyes and
deep-coloured cheeks before the glass. 'I will clear his character at
Beckley. I will help him. I will be his friend. I will wipe out the
injustice I did him.' And this bride-elect of a lord absolutely added
that she was unworthy to be the wife of a tailor!

'He! how unequalled he is! There is nothing he fears except shame. Oh!
how sad it will be for him to find no woman in his class to understand
him and be his helpmate!'

Over, this sad subject, of which we must presume her to be accurately
cognizant, Rose brooded heavily. By mid-day she gave her Grandmother
notice that she was going home to Juliana's funeral.

'Well, Rose, if you think it necessary to join the ceremony,' said Lady
Elburne. 'Beckley is bad quarters for you, as you have learnt. There was
never much love between you cousins.'

'No, and I don't pretend to it,' Rose answered. 'I am sorry poor Juley's
gone.'

'She's better gone for many reasons--she appears to have been a little
venomous toad,' said Lady Elburne; and Rose, thinking of a snakelike
death-bite working through her blood, rejoined: 'Yes, she isn't to be
pitied she 's better off than most people.'

So it was arranged that Rose should go. Ferdinand and her aunt, Mrs.
Shorne, accompanied her. Mrs. Shorne gave them their opportunities,
albeit they were all stowed together in a carriage, and Ferdinand seemed
willing to profit by them; but Rose's hand was dead, and she sat by her
future lord forming the vow on her lips that they should never be touched
by him.

Arrived at Beckley, she, to her great delight, found Caroline there,
waiting for the funeral. In a few minutes she got her alone, and after
kisses, looked penetratingly into her lovely eyes, shook her head, and
said: 'Why were you false to me?'

'False?' echoed Caroline.

'You knew him. You knew why he did that. Why did you not save me?'

Caroline fell upon her neck, asking pardon. She spared her the recital of
facts further than the broad avowal. Evan's present condition she plainly
stated: and Rose, when the bitter pangs had ceased, made oath to her soul
she would rescue him from it.

In addition to the task of clearing Evan's character, and rescuing him,
Rose now conceived that her engagement to Ferdinand must stand ice-bound
till Evan had given her back her troth. How could she obtain it from him?
How could she take anything from one so noble and so poor! Happily there
was no hurry; though before any bond was ratified, she decided
conscientiously that it must be done.

You see that like a lithe snake she turns on herself, and must be tracked
in and out. Not being a girl to solve the problem with tears, or outright
perfidy, she had to ease her heart to the great shock little by
little--sincere as far as she knew: as far as one who loves may be. The
day of the funeral came and went. The Jocelyns were of their mother's
opinion: that for many reasons Juliana was better out of the way. Mrs.
Bonner's bequest had been a severe blow to Sir Franks. However, all was
now well. The estate naturally lapsed to Lady Jocelyn. No one in the
house dreamed of a will, signed with Juliana's name, attested, under due
legal forms, being in existence. None of the members of the family
imagined that at Beckley Court they were then residing on somebody else's
ground.

Want of hospitable sentiments was not the cause that led to an intimation
from Sir Franks to his wife, that Mrs. Strike must not be pressed to
remain, and that Rose must not be permitted to have her own way in this.
Knowing very well that Mrs. Shorne spoke through her husband's mouth,
Lady Jocelyn still acquiesced, and Rose, who had pressed Caroline
publicly to stay, had to be silent when the latter renewed her faint
objections; so Caroline said she would leave on the morrow morning.

Juliana, with her fretfulness, her hand bounties, her petty egoisms, and
sudden far-leaping generosities, and all the contradictory impulses of
her malady, had now departed utterly. The joys of a landed proprietor
mounted into the head of Sir Franks. He was up early the next morning,
and he and Harry walked over a good bit of the ground before breakfast.
Sir Franks meditated making it entail, and favoured Harry with a lecture
on the duty of his shaping the course of his conduct at once after the
model of the landed gentry generally.

'And you may think yourself lucky to come into that catalogue--the son of
a younger son!' said Sir Franks, tapping Mr. Harry's shoulder. Harry also
began to enjoy the look and smell of land. At the breakfast, which,
though early, was well attended, Harry spoke of the adviseability of
felling timber here, planting there, and so forth, after the model his
father held up. Sir Franks nodded approval of his interest in the estate,
but reserved his opinion on matters of detail.

'All I beg of you is,' said Lady Jocelyn, 'that you won't let us have
turnips within the circuit of a mile'; which was obligingly promised.

The morning letters were delivered and opened with the customary
calmness.

'Letter from old George,' Harry sings out, and buzzes over a few lines.
'Halloa!--Hum!' He was going to make a communication, but catching sight
of Caroline, tossed the letter over to Ferdinand, who read it and tossed
it back with the comment of a careless face.

'Read it, Rosey?' says Harry, smiling bluntly.

Rather to his surprise, Rose took the letter. Study her eyes if you wish
to gauge the potency of one strong dose of ridicule on an ingenuous young
heart. She read that Mr. George Uplift had met 'our friend Mr. Snip'
riding, by moonlight, on the road to Beckley. That great orbed night of
their deep tender love flashed luminously through her frame, storming at
the base epithet by which her lover was mentioned, flooding grandly over
the ignominies cast on him by the world. She met the world, as it were,
in a death-grapple; she matched the living heroic youth she felt him to
be, with that dead wooden image of him which it thrust before her. Her
heart stood up singing like a craven who sees the tide of victory setting
toward him. But this passed beneath her eyelids. When her eyes were
lifted, Ferdinand could have discovered nothing in them to complain of,
had his suspicions been light to raise: nor could Mrs. Shorne perceive
that there was the opening for a shrewd bodkin-thrust. Rose had got a
mask at last: her colour, voice, expression, were perfectly at command.
She knew it to be a cowardice to wear any mask: but she had been burnt,
horribly burnt: how much so you may guess from the supple dissimulation
of such a bold clear-visaged girl. She conquered the sneers of the world
in her soul: but her sensitive skin was yet alive to the pangs of the
scorching it had been subjected to when weak, helpless, and betrayed by
Evan, she stood with no philosophic parent to cry fair play for her,
among the skilful torturers of Elburne House.

Sir Franks had risen and walked to the window.

'News?' said Lady Jocelyn, wheeling round in her chair.

The one eyebrow up of the easy-going baronet signified trouble of mind.
He finished his third perusal of a letter that appeared to be written in
a remarkably plain legal hand, and looking as men do when their
intelligences are just equal to the comprehension or expression of an
oath, handed the letter to his wife, and observed that he should be found
in the library. Nevertheless he waited first to mark its effect on Lady
Jocelyn. At one part of the document her forehead wrinkled slightly.

'Doesn't sound like a joke!' he said.

She answered:

'No.'

Sir Franks, apparently quite satisfied by her ready response, turned on
his heel and left the room quickly.

An hour afterward it was rumoured and confirmed that Juliana Bonner had
willed all the worldly property she held in her own right, comprising
Beckley Court, to Mr. Evan Harrington, of Lymport, tailor. An abstract of
the will was forwarded. The lawyer went on to say, that he had conformed
to the desire of the testatrix in communicating the existence of the
aforesaid will six days subsequent to her death, being the day after her
funeral.

There had been railing and jeering at the Countess de Saldar, the clever
outwitted exposed adventuress, at Elburne House and Beckley Court. What
did the crowing cleverer aristocrats think of her now?

On Rose the blow fell bitterly. Was Evan also a foul schemer? Was he of a
piece with his intriguing sister? His close kinship with the Countess had
led her to think baseness possible to him when it was confessed by his
own mouth once. She heard black names cast at him and the whole of the
great Mel's brood, and incapable of quite disbelieving them merited,
unable to challenge and rebut them, she dropped into her recent state of
self-contempt: into her lately-instilled doubt whether it really was in
Nature's power, unaided by family-portraits, coats-of-arms, ball-room
practice, and at least one small phial of Essence of Society, to make a
Gentleman.



CHAPTER XLIV

CONTAINS A WARNING TO ALL CONSPIRATORS

This, if you have done me the favour to read it aright, has been a
chronicle of desperate heroism on the part of almost all the principal
personages represented. But not the Countess de Saldar, scaling the
embattled fortress of Society; nor Rose, tossing its keys to her lover
from the shining turret-tops; nor Evan, keeping bright the lamp of
self-respect in his bosom against South wind and East; none excel friend
Andrew Cogglesby, who, having fallen into Old Tom's plot to humiliate his
wife and her sisters, simply for Evan's sake, and without any distinct
notion of the terror, confusion, and universal upset he was bringing on
his home, could yet, after a scared contemplation of the scene when he
returned from his expedition to Fallow field, continue to wear his rueful
mask; and persevere in treacherously outraging his lofty wife.

He did it to vindicate the ties of blood against accidents of position.
Was he justified? I am sufficiently wise to ask my own sex alone.

On the other side, be it said (since in our modern days every hero must
have his weak heel), that now he had gone this distance it was difficult
to recede. It would be no laughing matter to tell his solemn Harriet that
he had been playing her a little practical joke. His temptations to give
it up were incessant and most agitating; but if to advance seemed
terrific, there was, in stopping short, an awfulness so overwhelming that
Andrew abandoned himself to the current, his real dismay adding to his
acting powers.

The worst was, that the joke was no longer his: it was Old Tom's. He
discovered that he was in Old Tom's hands completely. Andrew had thought
that he would just frighten the women a bit, get them down to Lymport for
a week or so, and then announce that matters were not so bad with the
Brewery as he had feared; concluding the farce with a few domestic
fireworks. Conceive his dismay when he entered the house, to find there a
man in possession.

Andrew flew into such a rage that he committed an assault on the man. So
ungovernable was his passion, that for some minutes Harriet's measured
voice summoned him from over the banisters above, quite in vain. The
miserable Englishman refused to be taught that his house had ceased to be
his castle. It was something beyond a joke, this! The intruder, perfectly
docile, seeing that by accurate calculation every shake he got involved a
bottle of wine for him, and ultimate compensation probably to the amount
of a couple of sovereigns, allowed himself to be lugged up stairs, in
default of summary ejection on the point of Andrew's toe into the street.
There he was faced to the lady of the house, who apologized to him, and
requested her husband to state what had made him guilty of this indecent
behaviour. The man showed his papers. They were quite in order. 'At the
suit of Messrs. Grist.'

'My own lawyers!' cried Andrew, smacking his forehead; and Old Tom's
devilry flashed on him at once. He sank into a chair.

'Why did you bring this person up here?' said Harriet, like a speaking
statue.

'My dear!' Andrew answered, and spread out his hand, and waggled his
head; 'My--please!--I--I don't know. We all want exercise.'

The man laughed, which was kindly of him, but offensive to Mrs.
Cogglesby, who gave Andrew a glance which was full payment for his
imbecile pleasantry, and promised more.

With a hospitable inquiry as to the condition of his appetite, and a
request that he would be pleased to satisfy it to the full, the man was
dismissed: whereat, as one delivered of noxious presences, the Countess
rustled into sight. Not noticing Andrew, she lisped to Harriet:
'Misfortunes are sometimes no curses! I bless the catarrh that has
confined Silva to his chamber, and saved him from a bestial exhibition.'

The two ladies then swept from the room, and left Andrew to perspire at
leisure.

Fresh tribulations awaited him when he sat down to dinner. Andrew liked
his dinner to be comfortable, good, and in plenty. This may not seem
strange. The fact is stated that I may win for him the warm sympathies of
the body of his countrymen. He was greeted by a piece of cold boiled neck
of mutton and a solitary dish of steaming potatoes. The blank expanse of
table-cloth returned his desolate stare.

'Why, what's the meaning of this?' Andrew brutally exclaimed, as he
thumped the table.

The Countess gave a start, and rolled a look as of piteous supplication
to spare a lady's nerves, addressed to a ferocious brigand. Harriet
answered: 'It means that I will have no butcher's bills.'

'Butcher's bills! butcher's bills!' echoed Andrew; 'why, you must have
butcher's bills; why, confound! why, you'll have a bill for this, won't
you, Harry? eh? of course!'

'There will be no more bills dating from yesterday,' said his wife.

'What! this is paid for, then?'

'Yes, Mr. Cogglesby; and so will all household expenses be, while my
pocket-money lasts.'

Resting his eyes full on Harriet a minute, Andrew dropped them on the
savourless white-rimmed chop, which looked as lonely in his plate as its
parent dish on the table. The poor dear creature's pocket-money had paid
for it! The thought, mingling with a rush of emotion, made his ideas
spin. His imagination surged deliriously. He fancied himself at the
Zoological Gardens, exchanging pathetic glances with a melancholy
marmoset. Wonderfully like one the chop looked! There was no use in his
trying to eat it. He seemed to be fixing his teeth in solid tears. He
choked. Twice he took up knife and fork, put them down again, and
plucking forth his handkerchief, blew a tremendous trumpet, that sent the
Countess's eyes rolling to the ceiling, as if heaven were her sole refuge
from such vulgarity.

'Damn that Old Tom!' he shouted at last, and pitched back in his chair.

'Mr. Cogglesby!' and 'In the presence of ladies!' were the admonishing
interjections of the sisters, at whom the little man frowned in turns.

'Do you wish us to quit the room, sir?' inquired his wife.

'God bless your soul, you little darling!' he apostrophized that stately
person. 'Here, come along with me, Harry. A wife's a wife, I say--hang
it! Just outside the room--just a second! or up in a corner will do.'

Mrs. Cogglesby was amazed to see him jump up and run round to her. She
was prepared to defend her neck from his caress, and refused to go: but
the words, 'Something particular to tell you,' awakened her curiosity,
which urged her to compliance. She rose and went with him to the door.

'Well, sir; what is it?'

No doubt he was acting under a momentary weakness he was about to betray
the plot and take his chance of forgiveness; but her towering port, her
commanding aspect, restored his courage. (There may be a contrary view of
the case.) He enclosed her briskly in a connubial hug, and remarked with
mad ecstasy: 'What a duck you are, Harry! What a likeness between you and
your mother.'

Mrs. Cogglesby disengaged herself imperiously. Had he called her aside
for this gratuitous insult? Contrite, he saw his dreadful error.

'Harry! I declare!' was all he was allowed to say. Mrs. Cogglesby marched
back to her chair, and recommenced the repast in majestic silence.

Andrew sighed; he attempted to do the same. He stuck his fork in the
blanched whiskerage of his marmoset, and exclaimed: 'I can't!'

He was unnoticed.

'You do not object to plain diet?' said Harriet to Louisa.

'Oh, no, in verity!' murmured the Countess. 'However plain it be! Absence
of appetite, dearest. You are aware I partook of luncheon at mid-day with
the Honourable and Reverend Mr. Duffian. You must not look condemnation
at your Louy for that. Luncheon is not conversion!'

Harriet observed that this might be true; but still, to her mind, it was
a mistake to be too intimate with dangerous people. 'And besides,' she
added, 'Mr. Duffian is no longer "the Reverend." We deprive all renegades
of their spiritual titles. His worldly ones let him keep.'

Her superb disdain nettled the Countess.

'Dear Harriet!' she said, with less languor, 'You are utterly and totally
and entirely mistaken. I tell you so positively. Renegade! The
application of such a word to such a man! Oh! and it is false, Harriet
quite! Renegade means one who has gone over to the Turks, my dear. I am
almost certain I saw it in Johnson's Dictionary, or an improvement upon
Johnson, by a more learned author. But there is the fact, if Harriet can
only bring her--shall I say stiff-necked prejudices to envisage it?'

Harriet granted her sister permission to apply the phrases she stood in
need of, without impeaching her intimacy with the most learned among
lexicographers.

'And is there no such thing as being too severe?' the Countess resumed.
'What our enemies call unchristian!'

'Mr. Duffian has no cause to complain of us,' said Harriet.

'Nor does he do so, dearest. Calumny may assail him; you may utterly
denude him--'

'Adam!' interposed Andrew, distractedly listening. He did not disturb the
Countess's flow.

'You may vilify and victimize Mr. Duffian, and strip him of the honours
of his birth, but, like the Martyrs, he will still continue the perfect
nobleman. Stoned, I assure you that Mr. Duffian would preserve his
breeding. In character he is exquisite; a polish to defy misfortune.'

'I suppose his table is good?' said Harriet, almost ruffled by the
Countess's lecture.

'Plate,' was remarked in the cold tone of supreme indifference.

'Hem! good wines?' Andrew asked, waking up a little and not wishing to be
excluded altogether.

'All is of the very best,' the Countess pursued her eulogy, not looking
at him.

'Don't you think you could--eh, Harry?--manage a pint for me, my dear?'
Andrew humbly petitioned. 'This cold water--ha! ha! my stomach don't like
cold bathing.'

His wretched joke rebounded from the impenetrable armour of the ladies.

'The wine-cellar is locked,' said his wife. 'I have sealed up the key
till an inventory can be taken by some agent of the creditors.'

'What creditors?' roared Andrew.

'You can have some of the servants' beer,' Mrs. Cogglesby appended.

Andrew studied her face to see whether she really was not hoisting him
with his own petard. Perceiving that she was sincerely acting according
to her sense of principle, he fumed, and departed to his privacy, unable
to stand it any longer.

Then like a kite the Countess pounced upon his character. Would the
Honourable and Reverend Mr. Duflian decline to participate in the sparest
provender? Would he be guilty of the discourtesy of leaving table without
a bow or an apology, even if reduced to extremest poverty? No, indeed!
which showed that, under all circumstances, a gentleman was a gentleman.
And, oh! how she pitied her poor Harriet--eternally tied to a most vulgar
little man, without the gilding of wealth.

'And a fool in his business to boot, dear!'

'These comparisons do no good,' said Harriet. 'Andrew at least is not a
renegade, and never shall be while I live. I will do my duty by him,
however poor we are. And now, Louisa, putting my husband out of the
question, what are your intentions? I don't understand bankruptcy, but I
imagine they can do nothing to wife and children. My little ones must
have a roof over their heads; and, besides, there is little Maxwell. You
decline to go down to Lymport, of course.'

'Decline!' cried the Countess, melodiously; 'and do not you?'

'As far as I am concerned--yes. But I am not to think of myself.'

The Countess meditated, and said: 'Dear Mr. Duflian has offered me
his hospitality. Renegades are not absolutely inhuman. They may be
generous. I have no moral doubt that Mr. Duflian would, upon my
representation--dare I venture?'

'Sleep in his house! break bread with him!' exclaimed Harriet. 'What do
you think I am made of? I would perish--go to the workhouse, rather!'

'I see you trooping there,' said the Countess, intent on the vision.

'And have you accepted his invitation for yourself, Louisa?'

The Countess was never to be daunted by threatening aspects. She gave her
affirmative with calmness and a deliberate smile.

'You are going to live with him?'

'Live with him! What expressions! My husband accompanies me.'

Harriet drew up.

'I know nothing, Louisa, that could give me more pain.'

The Countess patted Harriet's knee. 'It succeeds to bankruptcy,
assuredly. But would you have me drag Silva to the--the shop, Harriet,
love? Alternatives!'

Mrs. Andrew got up and rang the bell to have the remains of their dinner
removed. When this was done, she said,

'Louisa, I don't know whether I am justified: you told me to-day I might
keep my jewels, trinkets, and lace, and such like. To me, I know they do
not belong now: but I will dispose of them to procure you an asylum
somewhere--they will fetch, I should think, L400,--to prevent your going
to Mr. Duffian.'

No exhibition of great-mindedness which the Countess could perceive, ever
found her below it.

'Never, love, never!' she said.

'Then, will you go to Evan?'

'Evan? I hate him!' The olive-hued visage was dark. It brightened as she
added, 'At least as much as my religious sentiments permit me to. A boy
who has thwarted me at every turn!--disgraced us! Indeed, I find it
difficult to pardon you the supposition of such a possibility as your own
consent to look on him ever again, Harriet.'

'You have no children,' said Mrs. Andrew.

The Countess mournfully admitted it.

'There lies your danger with Mr. Duffian, Louisa!'

'What! do you doubt my virtue?' asked the Countess.

'Pish! I fear something different. You understand me. Mr. Duflian's moral
reputation is none of the best, perhaps.'

'That was before he renegaded,' said the Countess.

Harriet bluntly rejoined: 'You will leave that house a Roman Catholic.'

'Now you have spoken,' said the Countess, pluming. 'Now let me explain
myself. My dear, I have fought worldly battles too long and too
earnestly. I am rightly punished. I do but quote Herbert Duffian's own
words: he is no flatterer though you say he has such soft fingers. I am
now engaged in a spiritual contest. He is very wealthy! I have resolved
to rescue back to our Church what can benefit the flock of which we form
a portion, so exceedingly!'

At this revelation of the Countess's spiritual contest, Mrs. Andrew shook
a worldly head.

'You have no chance with men there, Louisa.'

'My Harriet complains of female weakness!'

'Yes. We are strong in our own element, Louisa. Don't be tempted out of
it.'

Sublime, the Countess rose:

'Element! am I to be confined to one? What but spiritual solaces could
assist me to live, after the degradations I have had heaped on me? I
renounce the world. I turn my sight to realms where caste is unknown. I
feel no shame there of being a tailor's daughter. You see, I can bring my
tongue to name the thing in its actuality. Once, that member would have
blistered. Confess to me that, in spite of your children, you are tempted
to howl at the idea of Lymport--'

The Countess paused, and like a lady about to fire off a gun, appeared to
tighten her nerves, crying out rapidly:

'Shop! Shears! Geese! Cabbage! Snip! Nine to a man!'

Even as the silence after explosions of cannon, that which reigned in the
room was deep and dreadful.

'See,' the Countess continued, 'you are horrified you shudder. I name all
our titles, and if I wish to be red in my cheeks, I must rouge. It is, in
verity, as if my senseless clay were pelted, as we heard of Evan at his
first Lymport boys' school. You remember when he told us the story? He
lisped a trifle then. "I'm the thon of a thnip." Oh! it was hell-fire to
us, then; but now, what do I feel? Why, I avowed it to Herbert Duffian
openly, and he said, that the misfortune of dear Papa's birth did not the
less enable him to proclaim himself in conduct a nobleman's offspring--'

'Which he never was.' Harriet broke the rhapsody in a monotonous low
tone: the Countess was not compelled to hear:

'--and that a large outfitter--one of the very largest, was in reality a
merchant, whose daughters have often wedded nobles of the land, and
become ancestresses! Now, Harriet, do you see what a truly religious mind
can do for us in the way of comfort? Oh! I bow in gratitude to Herbert
Duffian. I will not rest till I have led him back to our fold, recovered
from his error. He was our own preacher and pastor. He quitted us from
conviction. He shall return to us from conviction.'

The Countess quoted texts, which I respect, and will not repeat. She
descanted further on spiritualism, and on the balm that it was to tailors
and their offspring; to all outcasts from Society.

Overpowered by her, Harriet thus summed up her opinions: 'You were always
self-willed, Louisa.'

'Say, full of sacrifice, if you would be just,' added the Countess; 'and
the victim of basest ingratitude.'

'Well, you are in a dangerous path, Louisa.'

Harriet had the last word, which usually the Countess was not disposed to
accord; but now she knew herself strengthened to do so, and was content
to smile pityingly on her sister.

Full upon them in this frame of mind, arrived Caroline's great news from
Beckley.

It was then that the Countess's conduct proved a memorable refutation of
cynical philosophy: she rejoiced in the good fortune of him who had
offended her! Though he was not crushed and annihilated (as he deserved
to be) by the wrong he had done, the great-hearted woman pardoned him!

Her first remark was: 'Let him thank me for it or not, I will lose no
moment in hastening to load him with my congratulations.'

Pleasantly she joked Andrew, and defended him from Harriet now.

'So we are not all bankrupts, you see, dear brother-in-law.'

Andrew had become so demoralized by his own plot, that in every turn of
events he scented a similar piece of human ingenuity. Harriet was angry
with his disbelief, or say, the grudging credit he gave to the glorious
news. Notwithstanding her calmness, the thoughts of Lymport had sickened
her soul, and it was only for the sake of her children, and from a sense
of the dishonesty of spending a farthing of the money belonging, as she
conceived, to the creditors, that she had consented to go.

'I see your motive, Mr. Cogglesby,' she observed. 'Your measures are
disconcerted. I will remain here till my brother gives me shelter.'

'Oh, that'll do, my love; that's all I want,' said Andrew, sincerely.

'Both of you, fools!' the Countess interjected. 'Know you Evan so little?
He will receive us anywhere: his arms are open to his kindred: but to his
heart the road is through humiliation, and it is to his heart we seek
admittance.'

'What do you mean?' Harriet inquired.

'Just this,' the Countess answered in bold English and her eyes were
lively, her figure elastic: 'We must all of us go down to the old shop
and shake his hand there--every man Jack of us!--I'm only quoting the
sailors, Harriet--and that's the way to win him.'

She snapped her fingers, laughing. Harriet stared at her, and so did
Andrew, though for a different reason. She seemed to be transformed.
Seeing him inclined to gape, she ran up to him, caught up his chin
between her ten fingers, and kissed him on both cheeks, saying:

'You needn't come, if you're too proud, you know, little man!'

And to Harriet's look of disgust, the cause for which she divined with
her native rapidity, she said: 'What does it matter? They will talk, but
they can't look down on us now. Why, this is my doing!'

She came tripping to her tall sister, to ask plaintively 'Mayn't I be
glad?' and bobbed a curtsey.

Harriet desired Andrew to leave them. Flushed and indignant she then
faced the Countess.

'So unnecessary!' she began. 'What can excuse your indiscretion, Louisa?'

The Countess smiled to hear her talking to her younger sister once more.
She shrugged.

'Oh, if you will keep up the fiction, do. Andrew knows--he isn't an
idiot--and to him we can make light of it now. What does anybody's birth
matter, who's well off!'

It was impossible for Harriet to take that view. The shop, if not the
thing, might still have been concealed from her husband, she thought.

'It mattered to me when I was well off,' she said, sternly.

'Yes; and to me when I was; but we've had a fall and a lesson since that,
my dear. Half the aristocracy of England spring from shops!--Shall I
measure you?'

Harriet never felt such a desire to inflict a slap upon mortal cheek. She
marched away from her in a tiff. On the other hand, Andrew was half
fascinated by the Countess's sudden re-assumption of girlhood, and
returned--silly fellow! to have another look at her. She had ceased, on
reflection, to be altogether so vivacious: her stronger second nature had
somewhat resumed its empire: still she was fresh, and could at times be
roguishly affectionate and she patted him, and petted him, and made much
of him; slightly railed at him for his uxoriousness and domestic
subjection, and proffered him her fingers to try the taste of. The truth
must be told: Mr. Duflian not being handy, she in her renewed earthly
happiness wanted to see her charms in a woman's natural mirror: namely,
the face of man: if of man on his knees, all the better and though a
little man is not much of a man, and a sister's husband is, or should be,
hardly one at all, still some sort of a reflector he must be. Two or
three jests adapted to Andrew's palate achieved his momentary
captivation.

He said: 'Gad, I never kissed you in my life, Louy.'

And she, with a flavour of delicate Irish brogue, 'Why don't ye catch
opportunity by the tail, then?'

Perfect innocence, I assure you, on both sides.

But mark how stupidity betrays. Andrew failed to understand her, and act
on the hint immediately. Had he done so, the affair would have been over
without a witness. As it happened, delay permitted Harriet to assist at
the ceremony.

'It wasn't your mouth, Louy,' said Andrew.

'Oh, my mouth!--that I keep for, my chosen,' was answered.

'Gad, you make a fellow almost wish--' Andrew's fingers worked over his
poll, and then the spectre of righteous wrath flashed on him--naughty
little man that he was! He knew himself naughty, for it was the only time
since his marriage that he had ever been sorry to see his wife. This is a
comedy, and I must not preach lessons of life here: but I am obliged to
remark that the husband must be proof, the sister-in-law perfect, where
arrangements exist that keep them under one roof. She may be so like his
wife! Or, from the knowledge she has of his circumstances, she may talk
to him almost as his wife. He may forget that she is not his wife! And
then again, the small beginnings, which are in reality the mighty
barriers, are so easily slid over. But what is the use of telling this to
a pure generation? My constant error is in supposing that I write for the
wicked people who begat us.

Note, however, the difference between the woman and the man! Shame
confessed Andrew's naughtiness; he sniggered pitiably: whereas the
Countess jumped up, and pointing at him, asked her sister what she
thought of that. Her next sentence, coolly delivered, related to some
millinery matter. If this was not innocence, what is?

Nevertheless, I must here state that the scene related, innocent as it
was, and, as one would naturally imagine, of puny consequence, if any,
did no less a thing than, subsequently, to precipitate the Protestant
Countess de Saldar into the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church. A little
bit of play!

It seems barely just. But if, as I have heard, a lady has trod on a
pebble and broken her nose, tremendous results like these warn us to be
careful how we walk. As for play, it was never intended that we should
play with flesh and blood.

And, oh, be charitable, matrons of Britain! See here, Andrew Cogglesby,
who loved his wife as his very soul, and who almost disliked her sister;
in ten minutes the latter had set his head spinning! The whole of the day
he went about the house meditating frantically on the possibility of his
Harriet demanding a divorce.

She was not the sort of woman to do that. But one thing she resolved to
do; and it was, to go to Lymport with Louisa, and having once got her out
of her dwelling-place, never to allow her to enter it, wherever it might
be, in the light of a resident again. Whether anything but the menace of
a participation in her conjugal possessions could have despatched her to
that hateful place, I doubt. She went: she would not let Andrew be out of
her sight. Growing haughtier toward him at every step, she advanced to
the strange old shop. EVAN HARRINGTON over the door! There the Countess,
having meantime returned to her state of womanhood, shared her shudders.
They entered, and passed in to Mrs. Mel, leaving their footman,
apparently, in the rear. Evan was not visible. A man in the shop, with a
yard measure negligently adorning his shoulders, said that Mr. Harrington
was in the habit of quitting the shop at five.

'Deuced good habit, too,' said Andrew.

'Why, sir,' observed another, stepping forward, 'as you truly say--yes.
But--ah! Mr. Andrew Cogglesby? Pleasure of meeting you once in Fallow
field! Remember Mr. Perkins?--the lawyer, not the maltster. Will you do
me the favour to step out with me?'

Andrew followed him into the street.

'Are you aware of our young friend's good fortune?' said Lawyer Perkins.
'Yes. Ah! Well!--Would you believe that any sane person in his condition,
now--nonsense apart--could bring his mind wilfully to continue a beggar?
No. Um! Well; Mr. Cogglesby, I may tell you that I hold here in my hands
a document by which Mr. Evan Harrington transfers the whole of the
property bequeathed to him to Lady Jocelyn, and that I have his orders to
execute it instantly, and deliver it over to her ladyship, after the will
is settled, probate, and so forth: I presume there will be an arrangement
about his father's debts. Now what do you think of that?'

'Think, sir,--think!' cried Andrew, cocking his head at him like an
indignant bird, 'I think he's a damned young idiot to do so, and you're a
confounded old rascal to help him.'

Leaving Mr. Perkins to digest his judgement, which he had solicited,
Andrew bounced back into the shop.



CHAPTER XLV

IN WHICH THE SHOP BECOMES THE CENTRE OF ATTRACTION

Under the first lustre of a May-night, Evan was galloping over the
moon-shadowed downs toward Beckley. At the ridge commanding the woods,
the park, and the stream, his horse stopped, as if from habit, snorted,
and puffed its sides, while he gazed steadily across the long lighted
vale. Soon he began to wind down the glaring chalk-track, and reached
grass levels. Here he broke into a round pace, till, gaining the first
straggling cottages of the village, he knocked the head of his whip
against the garden-gate of one, and a man came out, who saluted him, and
held the reins.

'Animal does work, sir,' said the man.

Evan gave directions for it to be looked to, and went on to the doorway,
where he was met by a young woman. She uttered a respectful greeting, and
begged him to enter.

The door closed, he flung himself into a chair, and said:

'Well, Susan, how is the child?'

'Oh! he's always well, Mr. Harrington; he don't know the tricks o'
trouble yet.'

'Will Polly be here soon?'

'At a quarter after nine, she said, sir.'

Evan bade her sit down. After examining her features quietly, he said:

'I 'm glad to see you here, Susan. You don't regret that you followed my
advice?'

'No, sir; now it's over, I don't. Mother's kind enough, and father
doesn't mention anything. She's a-bed with bile--father's out.'

'But what? There's something on your mind.'

'I shall cry, if I begin, Mr. Harrington.'

'See how far you can get without.'

'Oh! Sir, then,' said Susan, on a sharp rise of her bosom, 'it ain't my
fault. I wouldn't cause trouble to Mr. Harry, or any friend of yours;
but, sir, father have got hold of his letters to me, and he says, there
's a promise in 'em--least, one of 'em; and it's as good as law, he
says--he heard it in a public-house; and he's gone over to Fall'field to
a law-gentleman there.' Susan was compelled to give way to some sobs. 'It
ain't for me--father does it, sir,' she pleaded. 'I tried to stop him,
knowing how it'd vex you, Mr. Harrington; but he's heady about points,
though a quiet man ordinary; and he says he don't expect--and I know now
no gentleman 'd marry such as me--I ain't such a stupid gaper at words as
I used to be; but father says it's for the child's sake, and he does it
to have him provided for. Please, don't ye be angry with me, sir.'

Susan's half-controlled spasms here got the better of her.

While Evan was awaiting the return of her calmer senses, the latch was
lifted, and Polly appeared.

'At it again!' was her sneering comment, after a short survey of her
apron-screened sister; and then she bobbed to Evan.

'It's whimper, whimper, and squeak, squeak, half their lives with some
girls. After that they go wondering they can't see to thread a needle!
The neighbours, I suppose. I should like to lift the top off some o'
their houses. I hope I haven't kept you, sir.'

'No, Polly,' said Evan; 'but you must be charitable, or I shall think you
want a lesson yourself. Mr. Raikes tells me you want to see me. What is
it? You seem to be correspondents.'

Polly replied: 'Oh, no, Mr. Harrington: only accidental ones--when
something particular's to be said. And he dances-like on the paper, so
that you can't help laughing. Isn't he a very eccentric gentleman, sir?'

'Very,' said Evan. 'I 've no time to lose, Polly.'

'Here, you must go,' the latter called to her sister. 'Now pack at once,
Sue. Do rout out, and do leave off thinking you've got a candle at your
eyes, for Goodness' sake!'

Susan was too well accustomed to Polly's usage to complain. She murmured
a gentle 'Good night, sir,' and retired. Whereupon Polly exclaimed:
'Bless her poor dear soft heart! It 's us hard ones that get on best in
the world. I'm treated better than her, Mr. Harrington, and I know I
ain't worth half of her. It goes nigh to make one religious, only to see
how exactly like Scripture is the way Beckley treats her, whose only sin
is her being so soft as to believe in a man! Oh, dear! Mr. Harrington! I
wish I had good news for you.'

In spite of all his self-control, Evan breathed quickly and looked
eagerly.

'Speak it out, Polly.'

'Oh, dear! I must, I suppose,' Polly answered. 'Mr. Laxley's become a
lord now, Mr. Harrington.'

Evan tasted in his soul the sweets of contrast. 'Well?'

'And my Miss Rose--she--'

'What?'

Moved by the keen hunger of his eyes, Polly hesitated. Her face betrayed
a sudden change of mind.

'Wants to see you, sir,' she said, resolutely.

'To see me?'

Evan stood up, so pale that Polly was frightened.

'Where is she? Where can I meet her?'

'Please don't take it so, Mr. Harrington.'

Evan commanded her to tell him what her mistress had said.

Now up to this point Polly had spoken truth. She was positive her
mistress did want to see him. Polly, also, with a maiden's tender guile,
desired to bring them together for once, though it were for the last
time, and for no good on earth. She had been about to confide to him her
young mistress's position toward Lord Laxley, when his sharp
interrogation stopped her. Shrinking from absolute invention, she
remarked that of course she could not exactly remember Miss Rose's words;
which seemed indeed too much to expect of her.

'She will see me to-night?' said Evan.

'I don't know about to-night,' Polly replied.

'Go to her instantly. Tell her I am ready. I will be at the West
park-gates. This is why you wrote, Polly? Why did you lose time? Don't
delay, my good girl! Come!'

Evan had opened the door. He would not allow Polly an instant for
expostulation; but drew her out, saying, 'You will attend to the gates
yourself. Or come and tell me the day, if she appoints another.'

Polly made a final effort to escape from the pit she was being pushed
into.

'Mr. Harrington! it wasn't to tell you this I wrote.

Miss Rose is engaged, sir.'

'I understand,' said Evan, hoarsely, scarcely feeling it, as is the case
with men who are shot through the heart.

Ten minutes later he was on horseback by the Fallow field gates, with the
tidings shrieking through his frame. The night was still, and stiller in
the pauses of the nightingales. He sat there, neither thinking of them
nor reproached in his manhood for the tears that rolled down his cheeks.
Presently his horse's ears pricked, and the animal gave a low neigh.
Evan's eyes fixed harder on the length of gravel leading to the house.
There was no sign, no figure. Out from the smooth grass of the lane a
couple of horsemen issued, and came straight to the gates. He heard
nothing till one spoke. It was a familiar voice.

'By Jove, Ferdy, here is the fellow, and we've been all the way to
Lymport!'

Evan started from his trance.

'It 's you, Harrington?'

'Yes, Harry.'

'Sir!' exclaimed that youth, evidently flushed with wine, 'what the devil
do you mean by addressing me by my Christian name?'

Laxley pushed his horse's head in front of Harry. In a manner apparently
somewhat improved by his new dignity, he said: 'We have ridden to Lymport
to speak to you, sir. Favour me by moving a little ahead of the lodge.'

Evan bowed, and moved beside him a short way down the lane, Harry
following.

'The purport of my visit, sir,' Laxley began, 'was to make known to you
that Miss Jocelyn has done me the honour to accept me as her husband. I
learn from her that during the term of your residence in the house, you
contrived to extract from her a promise to which she attaches certain
scruples. She pleases to consider herself bound to you till you release
her. My object is to demand that you will do so immediately.'

There was no reply.

'Should you refuse to make this reparation for the harm you have done to
her and her family,' Laxley pursued, 'I must let you know that there are
means of compelling you to it, and that those means will be employed.'

Harry, fuming at these postured sentences, burst out:

'What do you talk to the fellow in that way for? A fellow who makes a
fool of my cousin, and then wants to get us to buy off my sister! What's
he spying after here? The place is ours till we troop. I tell you there's
only one way of dealing with him, and if you don't do it, I will.'

Laxley pulled his reins with a jerk that brought him to the rear.

'Miss Jocelyn has commissioned you to make this demand on me in her
name?' said Evan.

'I make it in my own right,' returned--Laxley. 'I demand a prompt reply.'

'My lord, you shall have it. Miss Jocelyn is not bound to me by any
engagement. Should she entertain scruples which I may have it in my power
to obliterate, I shall not hesitate to do so--but only to her. What has
passed between us I hold sacred.'

'Hark at that!' shouted Harry. 'The damned tradesman means money! You
ass, Ferdinand! What did we go to Lymport for? Not to bandy words. Here!
I've got my own quarrel with you, Harrington. You've been setting that
girl's father on me. Can you deny that?'

It was enough for Harry that Evan did not deny it. The calm disdain which
he read on Evan's face acted on his fury, and digging his heels into his
horse's flanks he rushed full at him and dealt him a sharp flick with his
whip. Evan's beast reared.

'Accept my conditions, sir, or afford me satisfaction,' cried Laxley.

'You do me great honour, my lord; but I have told you I cannot,' said
Evan, curbing his horse.

At that moment Rose came among them. Evan raised his hat, as did Laxley.
Harry, a little behind the others, performed a laborious mock salute, and
then ordered her back to the house. A quick altercation ensued; the end
being that Harry managed to give his sister the context of the previous
conversation.

'Now go back, Rose,' said Laxley. 'I have particular business with Mr.
Harrington.'

'I came to see him,' said Rose, in a clear voice.

Laxley reddened angrily.

'Then tell him at once you want to be rid of him,' her brother called to
her.

Rose looked at Evan. Could he not see that she had no word in her soul
for him of that kind? Yes: but love is not always to be touched to
tenderness even at the sight of love.

'Rose,' he said, 'I hear from Lord Laxley, that you fancy yourself not at
liberty; and that you require me to disengage you.'

He paused. Did he expect her to say there that she wished nothing of the
sort? Her stedfast eyes spoke as much: but misery is wanton, and will
pull all down to it. Even Harry was checked by his tone, and Laxley sat
silent. The fact that something more than a tailor was speaking seemed to
impress them.

'Since I have to say it, Rose, I hold you in no way bound to me. The
presumption is forced upon me. May you have all the happiness I pray God
to give you.

Gentlemen, good night!'

He bowed and was gone. How keenly she could have retorted on that false
prayer for her happiness! Her limbs were nerveless, her tongue
speechless. He had thrown her off--there was no barrier now between
herself and Ferdinand. Why did Ferdinand speak to her with that air of
gentle authority, bidding her return to the house? She was incapable of
seeing, what the young lord acutely felt, that he had stooped very much
in helping to bring about such a scene. She had no idea of having trifled
with him and her own heart, when she talked feebly of her bondage to
another, as one who would be warmer to him were she free. Swiftly she
compared the two that loved her, and shivered as if she had been tossed
to the embrace of a block of ice.

'You are cold, Rose,' said Laxley, bending to lay his hand on her
shoulder.

'Pray, never touch me,' she answered, and walked on hastily to the house.

Entering it, she remembered that Evan had dwelt there. A sense of
desolation came over her. She turned to Ferdinand remorsefully, saying:
'Dear Ferdinand!' and allowed herself to be touched and taken close to
him. When she reached her bed-room, she had time to reflect that he had
kissed her on the lips, and then she fell down and shed such tears as had
never been drawn from her before.

Next day she rose with an undivided mind. Belonging henceforth to
Ferdinand, it was necessary that she should invest him immediately with
transcendent qualities. The absence of character in him rendered this
easy. What she had done for Evan, she did for him. But now, as if the
Fates had been lying in watch to entrap her and chain her, that they
might have her at their mercy, her dreams of Evan's high nature--hitherto
dreams only--were to be realized. With the purposeless waywardness of her
sex, Pony Wheedle, while dressing her young mistress, and though quite
aware that the parting had been spoken, must needs relate her sister's
story and Evan's share in it. Rose praised him like one forever aloof
from him. Nay, she could secretly congratulate herself on not being
deceived. Upon that came a letter from Caroline:

'Do not misjudge my brother. He knew Juliana's love for him and rejected
it. You will soon have proofs of his disinterestedness. Then do not
forget that he works to support us all. I write this with no hope save to
make you just to him. That is the utmost he will ever anticipate.'

It gave no beating of the heart to Rose to hear good of Evan now: but an
increased serenity of confidence in the accuracy of her judgement of
persons.

The arrival of Lawyer Perkins supplied the key to Caroline's
communication. No one was less astonished than Rose at the news that Evan
renounced the estate. She smiled at Harry's contrite stupefaction, and
her father's incapacity of belief in conduct so singular, caused her to
lift her head and look down on her parent.

'Shows he knows nothing of the world, poor young fellow!' said Sir
Franks.

'Nothing more clearly,' observed Lady Jocelyn. 'I presume I shall cease
to be blamed for having had him here?'

'Upon my honour, he must have the soul of a gentleman!' said the baronet.
'There's nothing he can expect in return, you know!'

'One would think, Papa, you had always been dealing with tradesmen!'
remarked Rose, to whom her father now accorded the treatment due to a
sensible girl.

Laxley was present at the family consultation. What was his opinion? Rose
manifested a slight anxiety to hear it.

'What those sort of fellows do never surprises me,' he said, with a
semi-yawn.

Rose felt fire on her cheeks.

'It's only what the young man is bound to do,' said Mrs. Shorne.

'His duty, aunt? I hope we may all do it!' Rose interjected.

'Championing him again?'

Rose quietly turned her face, too sure of her cold appreciation of him to
retort. But yesterday night a word from him might have made her his; and
here she sat advocating the nobility of his nature with the zeal of a
barrister in full swing of practice. Remember, however, that a kiss
separates them: and how many millions of leagues that counts for in love,
in a pure girl's thought, I leave you to guess.

Now, in what way was Evan to be thanked? how was he to be treated? Sir
Franks proposed to go down to him in person, accompanied by Harry. Lady
Jocelyn acquiesced. But Rose said to her mother:

'Will not you wound his sensitiveness by going to him there?'

'Possibly,' said her ladyship. 'Shall we write and ask him to come to
us?'

'No, Mama. Could we ask him to make a journey to receive our thanks?'

'Not till we have solid ones to offer, perhaps.'

'He will not let us help him, Mama, unless we have all given him our
hands.'

'Probably not. There's always a fund of nonsense in those who are capable
of great things, I observe. It shall be a family expedition, if you
like.'

'What!' exclaimed Mrs. Shorne. 'Do you mean that you intend to allow Rose
to make one of the party? Franks! is that your idea?'

Sir Franks looked at his wife.

'What harm?' Lady Jocelyn asked; for Rose's absence of conscious guile in
appealing to her reason had subjugated that great faculty.

'Simply a sense of propriety, Emily,' said Mrs. Shorne, with a glance at
Ferdinand.

'You have no objection, I suppose!' Lady Jocelyn addressed him.

'Ferdinand will join us,' said Rose.

'Thank you, Rose, I'd rather not,' he replied. 'I thought we had done
with the fellow for good last night.'

'Last night?' quoth Lady Jocelyn.

No one spoke. The interrogation was renewed. Was it Rose's swift instinct
which directed her the shortest way to gain her point? or that she was
glad to announce that her degrading engagement was at an end? She said:

'Ferdinand and Mr. Harrington came to an understanding last night, in my
presence.'

That, strange as it struck on their ears, appeared to be quite sufficient
to all, albeit the necessity for it was not so very clear. The carriage
was ordered forthwith; Lady Jocelyn went to dress; Rose drew Ferdinand
away into the garden. Then, with all her powers, she entreated him to
join her.

'Thank you, Rose,' he said; 'I have no taste for the genus.'

'For my sake, I beg it, Ferdinand.'

'It's really too much to ask of me, Rose.'

'If you care for me, you will.'

''Pon my honour, quite impossible!'

'You refuse, Ferdinand?'

'My London tailor 'd find me out, and never forgive me.'

This pleasantry stopped her soft looks. Why she wished him to be with
her, she could not have said. For a thousand reasons: which implies no
distinct one something prophetically pressing in her blood.



CHAPTER XLVI

A LOVERS' PARTING

Now, to suppose oneself the fashioner of such a chain of events as this
which brought the whole of the Harrington family in tender unity together
once more, would have elated an ordinary mind. But to the Countess de
Saldar, it was simply an occasion for reflecting that she had
misunderstood--and could most sincerely forgive--Providence. She admitted
to herself that it was not entirely her work; for she never would have
had their place of meeting to be the Shop. Seeing, however, that her end
was gained, she was entitled to the credit of it, and could pardon the
means adopted. Her brother lord of Beckley Court, and all of them
assembled in the old 193, Main Street, Lymport! What matter for proud
humility! Providence had answered her numerous petitions, but in its own
way. Stipulating that she must swallow this pill, Providence consented to
serve her. She swallowed it with her wonted courage. In half an hour
subsequent to her arrival at Lymport, she laid siege to the heart of Old
Tom Cogglesby, whom she found installed in the parlour, comfortably
sipping at a tumbler of rum-and-water. Old Tom was astonished to meet
such an agreeable unpretentious woman, who talked of tailors and lords
with equal ease, appeared to comprehend a man's habits instinctively, and
could amuse him while she ministered to them.

'Can you cook, ma'am?' asked Old Tom.

'All but that,' said the Countess, with a smile of sweet meaning.

'Ha! then you won't suit me as well as your mother.'

'Take care you do not excite my emulation,' she returned, graciously,
albeit disgusted at his tone.

To Harriet, Old Tom had merely nodded. There he sat, in the arm-chair,
sucking the liquor, with the glimpse of a sour chuckle on his cheeks. Now
and then, during the evening, he rubbed his hands sharply, but spoke
little. The unbending Harriet did not conceal her disdain of him. When he
ventured to allude to the bankruptcy, she cut him short.

'Pray, excuse me--I am unacquainted with affairs of business--I cannot
even understand my husband.'

'Lord bless my soul!' Old Tom exclaimed, rolling his eyes.

Caroline had informed her sisters up-stairs that their mother was
ignorant of Evan's change of fortune, and that Evan desired her to
continue so for the present. Caroline appeared to be pained by the
subject, and was glad when Louisa sounded his mysterious behaviour by
saying:

'Evan has a native love of concealment--he must be humoured.'

At the supper, Mr. Raikes made his bow. He was modest and reserved. It
was known that this young gentleman acted as shopman there. With a
tenderness for his position worthy of all respect, the Countess spared
his feelings by totally ignoring his presence; whereat he, unaccustomed
to such great-minded treatment, retired to bed, a hater of his kind.
Harriet and Caroline went next. The Countess said she would wait up for
Evan, but hearing that his hours of return were about the chimes of
matins, she cried exultingly: 'Darling Papa all over!' and departed
likewise. Mrs. Mel, when she had mixed Old Tom's third glass, wished the
brothers good night, and they were left to exchange what sentiments they
thought proper for the occasion. The Countess had certainly, disappointed
Old Tom's farce, in a measure; and he expressed himself puzzled by her.
'You ain't the only one,' said his brother. Andrew, with some effort,
held his tongue concerning the news of Evan--his fortune and his folly,
till he could talk to the youth in person.

All took their seats at the early breakfast next morning.

'Has Evan not come--home yet?' was the Countess's first question.

Mrs. Mel replied, 'No.'

'Do you know where he has gone, dear Mama?'

'He chooses his own way.'

'And you fear that it leads somewhere?' added the Countess.

'I fear that it leads to knocking up the horse he rides.'

'The horse, Mama! He is out on a horse all night! But don't you see, dear
old pet! his morals, at least, are safe on horseback.'

'The horse has to be paid for, Louisa,' said her mother, sternly; and
then, for she had a lesson to read to the guests of her son, 'Ready money
doesn't come by joking. What will the creditors think? If he intends to
be honest in earnest, he must give up four-feet mouths.'

'Fourteen-feet, ma'am, you mean,' said Old Tom, counting the heads at
table.

'Bravo, Mama!' cried the Countess, and as she was sitting near her
mother, she must show how prettily she kissed, by pouting out her playful
lips to her parent. 'Do be economical always! And mind! for the sake of
the wretched animals, I will intercede for you to be his inspector of
stables.'

This, with a glance of intelligence at her sisters.

'Well, Mr. Raikes,' said Andrew, 'you keep good hours, at all
events--eh?'

'Up with the lark,' said Old Tom. 'Ha! 'fraid he won't be so early when
he gets rid of his present habits--eh?'

'Nec dierum numerum, ut nos, sed noctium computant,' said Mr. Raikes, and
both the brothers sniffed like dogs that have put their noses to a hot
coal, and the Countess, who was less insensible to the aristocracy of the
dead languages than are women generally, gave him the recognition that is
occasionally afforded the family tutor.

About the hour of ten Evan arrived. He was subjected to the hottest
embrace he had ever yet received from his sister Louisa.

'Darling!' she called him before them all. 'Oh! how I suffer for this
ignominy I see you compelled for a moment to endure. But it is but for a
moment. They must vacate; and you will soon be out of this horrid hole.'

'Where he just said he was glad to give us a welcome,' muttered Old Tom.

Evan heard him, and laughed. The Countess laughed too.

'No, we will not be impatient. We are poor insignificant people!' she
said; and turning to her mother, added: 'And yet I doubt not you think
the smallest of our landed gentry equal to great continental seigneurs. I
do not say the contrary.'

'You will fill Evan's head with nonsense till you make him knock up a
horse a week, and never go to his natural bed,' said Mrs. Mel, angrily.
'Look at him! Is a face like that fit for business?'

'Certainly, certainly not!' said the Countess.

'Well, Mother, the horse is dismissed,--you won't have to complain any
more,' said Evan, touching her hand. 'Another history commences from
to-day.'

The Countess watched him admiringly. Such powers of acting she could not
have ascribed to him.

'Another history, indeed!' she said. 'By the way, Van, love! was it out
of Glamorganshire--were we Tudors, according to Papa? or only Powys
chieftains? It's of no moment, but it helps one in conversation.'

'Not half so much as good ale, though!' was Old Tom's comment.

The Countess did not perceive its fitness, till Evan burst into a laugh,
and then she said:

'Oh! we shall never be ashamed of the Brewery. Do not fear that, Mr.
Cogglesby.'

Old Tom saw his farce reviving, and encouraged the Countess to patronize
him. She did so to an extent that called on her Mrs. Mel's reprobation,
which was so cutting and pertinent, that Harriet was compelled to defend
her sister, remarking that perhaps her mother would soon learn that
Louisa was justified in not permitting herself and family to be classed
too low. At this Andrew, coming from a private interview with Evan, threw
up his hands and eyes as one who foretold astonishment but counselled
humility. What with the effort of those who knew a little to imply a
great deal; of those who knew all to betray nothing; and of those who
were kept in ignorance to strain a fact out of the conflicting innuendos
the general mystification waxed apace, and was at its height, when a name
struck on Evan's ear that went through his blood like a touch of the
torpedo.

He had been called into the parlour to assist at a consultation over the
Brewery affairs. Raikes opened the door, and announced, 'Sir Franks and
Lady Jocelyn.'

Them he could meet, though it was hard for his pride to pardon their
visit to him there. But when his eyes discerned Rose behind them, the
passions of his lower nature stood up armed. What could she have come for
but to humiliate, or play with him?

A very few words enabled the Countess to guess the cause for this visit.
Of course, it was to beg time! But they thanked Evan. For something
generous, no doubt.

Sir Franks took him aside, and returning remarked to his wife that she
perhaps would have greater influence with him. All this while Rose sat
talking to Mrs. Andrew Cogglesby, Mrs. Strike, and Evan's mother. She saw
by his face the offence she had committed, and acted on by one of her
impulses, said: 'Mama, I think if I were to speak to Mr. Harrington--'

Ere her mother could make light of the suggestion, Old Tom had jumped up,
and bowed out his arm.

'Allow me to conduct ye to the drawing room, upstairs, young lady. He'll
follow, safe enough!'

Rose had not stipulated for that. Nevertheless, seeing no cloud on her
mother's face, or her father's, she gave Old Tom her hand, and awaited a
movement from Evan. It was too late to object to it on either side. Old
Tom had caught the tide at the right instant. Much as if a grim old genie
had planted them together, the lovers found themselves alone.

'Evan, you forgive me?' she began, looking up at him timidly.

'With all my heart, Rose,' he answered, with great cheerfulness.

'No. I know your heart better. Oh, Evan! you must be sure that we respect
you too much to wound you. We came to thank you for your generosity. Do
you refuse to accept anything from us? How can we take this that you
thrust on us, unless in some way--'

'Say no more,' he interposed. 'You see me here. You know me as I am,
now.'

'Yes, yes!' the tears stood in her eyes. 'Why did I come, you would ask?
That is what you cannot forgive! I see now how useless it was. Evan! why
did you betray me?'

'Betray you, Rose?'

'You said that you loved me once.'

She was weeping, and all his spirit melted, and his love cried out: 'I
said "till death," and till death it will be, Rose.'

'Then why, why did you betray me, Evan? I know it all. But if you
blackened yourself to me, was it not because you loved something better
than me? And now you think me false! Which of us two has been false? It
's silly to talk of these things now too late! But be just. I wish that
we may be friends. Can we, unless you bend a little?'

The tears streamed down her cheeks, and in her lovely humility he saw the
baseness of that pride of his which had hitherto held him up.

'Now that you are in this house where I was born and am to live, can you
regret what has come between us, Rose?'

Her lips quivered in pain.

'Can I do anything else but regret it all my life, Evan?'

How was it possible for him to keep his strength?

'Rose!' he spoke with a passion that made her shrink, 'are you bound to
this man?' and to the drooping of her eyes, 'No. Impossible, for you do
not love him. Break it. Break the engagement you cannot fulfil. Break it
and belong to me. It sounds ill for me to say that in such a place. But
Rose, I will leave it. I will accept any assistance that your
father--that any man will give me. Beloved--noble girl! I see my
falseness to you, though I little thought it at the time--fool that I
was! Be my help, my guide-as the soul of my body! Be mine!'

'Oh, Evan!' she clasped her hands in terror at the change in him, that
was hurrying her she knew not whither, and trembling, held them
supplicatingly.

'Yes, Rose: you have taught me what love can be. You cannot marry that
man.'

'But, my honour, Evan! No. I do not love him; for I can love but one. He
has my pledge. Can I break it?'

The stress on the question choked him, just as his heart sprang to her.

'Can you face the world with me, Rose?'

'Oh, Evan! is there an escape for me? Think Decide!--No--no! there is
not. My mother, I know, looks on it so. Why did she trust me to be with
you here, but that she thinks me engaged to him, and has such faith in
me? Oh, help me!--be my guide. Think whether you would trust me
hereafter! I should despise myself.'

Not if you marry him!' said Evan, bitterly. And then thinking as men will
think when they look on the figure of a fair girl marching serenely to a
sacrifice, the horrors of which they insist that she ought to know:
half-hating her for her calmness--adoring her for her innocence: he said:
'It rests with you, Rose. The world will approve you, and if your
conscience does, why--farewell, and may heaven be your help.'

She murmured, 'Farewell.'

Did she expect more to be said by him? What did she want or hope for now?
And yet a light of hunger grew in her eyes, brighter and brighter, as it
were on a wave of yearning.

'Take my hand once,' she faltered.

Her hand and her whole shape he took, and she with closed eyes let him
strain her to his breast.

Their swoon was broken by the opening of the door, where Old Tom
Cogglesby and Lady Jocelyn appeared.

'Gad! he seems to have got his recompense--eh, my lady?' cried Old Tom.
However satisfactorily they might have explained the case, it certainly
did seem so.

Lady Jocelyn looked not absolutely displeased. Old Tom was chuckling at
her elbow. The two principal actors remained dumb.

'I suppose, if we leave young people to settle a thing, this is how they
do it,' her ladyship remarked.

'Gad, and they do it well!' cried Old Tom.

Rose, with a deep blush on her cheeks, stepped from Evan to her mother.
Not in effrontery, but earnestly, and as the only way of escaping from
the position, she said: 'I have succeeded, Mama. He will take what I
offer.'

'And what's that, now?' Old Tom inquired.

Rose turned to Evan. He bent and kissed her hand.

'Call it "recompense" for the nonce,' said Lady Jocelyn. 'Do you still
hold to your original proposition, Tom?'

'Every penny, my lady. I like the young fellow, and she's a jolly little
lass--if she means it:--she's a woman.'

'True,' said Lady Jocelyn. 'Considering that fact, you will oblige me by
keeping the matter quiet.'

'Does she want to try whether the tailor's a gentleman still, my
lady-eh?'

'No. I fancy she will have to see whether a certain nobleman may be one.'

The Countess now joined them. Sir Franks had informed her of her
brother's last fine performance. After a short, uneasy pause, she said,
glancing at Evan:--

'You know his romantic nature. I can assure you he was sincere; and even
if you could not accept, at least--'

'But we have accepted, Countess,' said Rose.

'The estate!'

'The estate, Countess. And what is more, to increase the effect of his
generosity, he has consented to take a recompense.'

'Indeed!' exclaimed the Countess, directing a stony look at her brother.

'May I presume to ask what recompense?'

Rose shook her head. 'Such a very poor one, Countess! He has no idea of
relative value.'

The Countess's great mind was just then running hot on estates, and
thousands, or she would not have played goose to them, you may be sure.
She believed that Evan had been wheedled by Rose into the acceptance of a
small sum of money, in return for his egregious gift.

With an internal groan, the outward aspect of which she had vast
difficulty in masking, she said: 'You are right--he has no head. Easily
cajoled!'

Old Tom sat down in a chair, and laughed outright. Lady Jocelyn, in pity
for the poor lady, who always amused her, thought it time to put an end
to the scene.

'I hope your brother will come to us in about a week,' she said. 'May I
expect the favour of your company as well?'

The Countess felt her dignity to be far superior as she responded: 'Lady
Jocelyn, when next I enjoy the gratification of a visit to your
hospitable mansion, I must know that I am not at a disadvantage. I cannot
consent to be twice pulled down to my brother's level.'

Evan's heart was too full of its dim young happiness to speak, or care
for words. The cold elegance of the Countess's curtsey to Lady Jocelyn:
her ladyship's kindly pressure of his hand: Rose's stedfast look into his
eyes: Old Tom's smothered exclamation that he was not such a fool as he
seemed: all passed dream-like, and when he was left to the fury of the
Countess, he did not ask her to spare him, nor did he defend himself. She
bade adieu to him and their mutual relationship that very day. But her
star had not forsaken her yet. Chancing to peep into the shop, to intrust
a commission to Mr. John Raikes, who was there doing penance for his
career as a gentleman, she heard Old Tom and Andrew laughing, utterly
unlike bankrupts.

'Who 'd have thought the women such fools! and the Countess, too!'

This was Andrew's voice. He chuckled as one emancipated. The Countess had
a short interview with him (before she took her departure to join her
husband, under the roof of the Honourable Herbert Duffian), and Andrew
chuckled no more.



CHAPTER XLVII

A YEAR LATER, THE COUNTESS DE SALDAR DE SANCORVO TO HER SISTER CAROLINE

                       'Rome.
'Let the post-mark be my reply to your letter received through the
Consulate, and most courteously delivered with the Consul's compliments.
We shall yet have an ambassador at Rome--mark your Louisa's words. Yes,
dearest! I am here, body and spirit! I have at last found a haven, a
refuge, and let those who condemn me compare the peace of their spirits
with mine. You think that you have quite conquered the dreadfulness of
our origin. My love, I smile at you! I know it to be impossible for the
Protestant heresy to offer a shade of consolation. Earthly-born, it
rather encourages earthly distinctions. It is the sweet sovereign
Pontiff alone who gathers all in his arms, not excepting tailors. Here,
if they could know it, is their blessed comfort!

'Thank Harriet for her message. She need say nothing. By refusing me her
hospitality, when she must have known that the house was as free of
creditors as any foreigner under the rank of Count is of soap, she drove
me to Mr. Duflian. Oh! how I rejoice at her exceeding unkindness! How
warmly I forgive her the unsisterly--to say the least--vindictiveness of
her unaccountable conduct! Her sufferings will one day be terrible. Good
little Andrew supplies her place to me. Why do you refuse his easily
afforded bounty? No one need know of it. I tell you candidly, I take
double, and the small good punch of a body is only too delighted. But
then, I can be discreet.

'Oh! the gentlemanliness of these infinitely maligned Jesuits! They
remind me immensely of Sir Charles Grandison, and those frontispiece
pictures to the novels we read when girls--I mean in manners and the
ideas they impose--not in dress or length of leg, of course. The same
winning softness; the same irresistible ascendancy over the female mind!
They require virtue for two, I assure you, and so I told Silva, who
laughed.

'But the charms of confession, my dear! I will talk of Evan first. I have
totally forgiven him. Attache to the Naples embassy, sounds tol-lol. In
such a position I can rejoice to see him, for it permits me to
acknowledge him. I am not sure that, spiritually, Rose will be his most
fitting helpmate. However, it is done, and I did it, and there is no more
to be said. The behaviour of Lord Laxley in refusing to surrender a young
lady who declared that her heart was with another, exceeds all I could
have supposed. One of the noble peers among his ancestors must have been
a pig! Oh! the Roman nobility! Grace, refinement, intrigue, perfect
comprehension of your ideas, wishes--the meanest trifles! Here you have
every worldly charm, and all crowned by Religion! This is my true
delight. I feel at last that whatsoever I do, I cannot go far wrong while
I am within hail of my gentle priest. I never could feel so before.

'The idea of Mr. Parsley proposing for the beautiful widow Strike! It was
indecent to do so so soon--widowed under such circumstances! But I dare
say he was as disinterested as a Protestant curate ever can be. Beauty is
a good dowry to bring a poor, lean, worldly curate of your Church, and he
knows that. Your bishops and arches are quite susceptible to beautiful
petitioners, and we know here how your livings and benefices are
dispensed. What do you intend to do? Come to me; come to the bosom of the
old and the only true Church, and I engage to marry you to a Roman prince
the very next morning or two. That is, if you have no ideas about
prosecuting a certain enterprise which I should not abandon. In that
case, stay. As Duchess of B., Mr. Duffian says you would be cordially
welcome to his Holiness, who may see women. That absurd report is all
nonsense. We do not kiss his toe, certainly, but we have privileges
equally enviable. Herbert is all charm. I confess he is a little
wearisome with his old ruins, and his Dante, the poet. He is quite of my
opinion, that Evan will never wash out the trade stain on him until he
comes over to the Church of Rome. I adjure you, Caroline, to lay this
clearly before our dear brother. In fact, while he continues a
Protestant, to me he is a tailor. But here Rose is the impediment. I know
her to be just one of those little dogged minds that are incapable of
receiving new impressions. Was it not evident in the way she stuck to
Evan after I had once brought them together? I am not at all astonished
that Mr. Raikes should have married her maid. It is a case of natural
selection. But it is amusing to think of him carrying on the old business
in 193, and with credit! I suppose his parents are to be pitied; but what
better is the creature fit for? Mama displeases me in consenting to act
as housekeeper to old Grumpus. I do not object to the fact, for it is
prospective; but she should have insisted on another place of resort than
Fallow field. I do not agree with you in thinking her right in refusing a
second marriage. Her age does not shelter her from scandal in your
Protestant communities.

'I am every day expecting Harry Jocelyn to turn up.

He was rightly sent away, for to think of the folly Evan put into his
empty head! No; he shall have another wife, and Protestantism shall be
his forsaken mistress!

'See how your Louy has given up the world and its vanities! You expected
me to creep up to you contrite and whimpering? On the contrary, I never
felt prouder. And I am not going to live a lazy life, I can assure you.
The Church hath need of me! If only for the peace it hath given me on one
point, I am eternally bound to serve it.

'Postscript: I am persuaded of this; that it is utterly impossible for a
man to be a true gentleman who is not of the true Church. What it is I
cannot say; but it is as a convert that I appreciate my husband. Love is
made to me, dear, for Catholics are human. The other day it was a
question whether a lady or a gentleman should be compromised. It required
the grossest fib. The gentleman did not hesitate. And why? His priest was
handy. Fancy Lord Laxley in such a case. I shudder. This shows that your
religion precludes any possibility of the being the real gentleman, and
whatever Evan may think of himself, or Rose think of him, I KNOW THE
THING.'

     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS

     A woman rises to her husband. But a man is what he is
     A share of pity for the objects she despised
     A sixpence kindly meant is worth any crown-piece that's grudged
     A youth who is engaged in the occupation of eating his heart
     A man who rejected medicine in extremity
     A lover must have his delusions, just as a man must have a skin
     A madman gets madder when you talk reason to him
     A man to be trusted with the keys of anything
     Abject sense of the lack of a circumference
     Accustomed to be paid for by his country
     Adept in the lie implied
     Admirable scruples of an inveterate borrower
     After a big blow, a very little one scarcely counts
     Ah! how sweet to waltz through life with the right partner
     Amiable mirror as being wilfully ruffled to confuse
     An obedient creature enough where he must be
     And not any of your grand ladies can match my wife at home
     Any man is in love with any woman
     Because you loved something better than me
     Because men can't abide praise of another man
     Because he stood so high with her now he feared the fall
     Believed in her love, and judged it by the strength of his own
     Bitten hard at experience, and know the value of a tooth
     Bound to assure everybody at table he was perfectly happy
     Brief negatives are not re-assuring to a lover's uneasy mind
     British hunger for news; second only to that for beef
     Brotherhood among the select who wear masks instead of faces
     But a woman must now and then ingratiate herself
     By forbearance, put it in the wrong
     Can you not be told you are perfect without seeking to improve
     Cheerful martyr
     Command of countenance the Countess possessed
     Commencement of a speech proves that you have made the plunge
     Common voice of praise in the mouths of his creditors
     Confident serenity inspired by evil prognostications
     Damsel who has lost the third volume of an exciting novel
     Eating, like scratching, only wants a beginning
     Embarrassments of an uncongenial employment
     Empty stomachs are foul counsellors
     Enamoured young men have these notions
     English maids are domesticated savage animals
     Equally acceptable salted when it cannot be had fresh
     Every woman that's married isn't in love with her husband
     Eyes of a lover are not his own; but his hands and lips are
     Far higher quality is the will that can subdue itself to wait
     Feel no shame that I do not feel!
     Feel they are not up to the people they are mixing with
     Few feelings are single on this globe
     Forty seconds too fast, as if it were a capital offence
     Found it difficult to forgive her his own folly
     Friend he would not shake off, but could not well link with
     From head to foot nothing better than a moan made visible
     Gentlefolks like straight-forwardness in their inferiors
     Glimpse of her whole life in the horrid tomb of his embrace
     Good nature, and means no more harm than he can help
     Good and evil work together in this world
     Gossip always has some solid foundation, however small
     Graduated naturally enough the finer stages of self-deception
     Gratuitous insult
     Habit, what a sacred and admirable thing it is
     Hated one thing alone--which was 'bother'
     Have her profile very frequently while I am conversing with her
     He has been tolerably honest, Tom, for a man and a lover
     He grunted that a lying clock was hateful to him
     He was in love, and subtle love will not be shamed and smothered
     He kept saying to himself, 'to-morrow I will tell'
     He had his character to maintain
     He squandered the guineas, she patiently picked up the pence
     His wife alone, had, as they termed it, kept him together
     Hope which lies in giving men a dose of hysterics
     How many degrees from love gratitude may be
     I 'm a bachelor, and a person--you're married, and an object
     I cannot live a life of deceit. A life of misery--not deceit
     I take off my hat, Nan, when I see a cobbler's stall
     I always wait for a thing to happen first
     I never see anything, my dear
     I did, replied Evan. 'I told a lie.'
     I'll come as straight as I can
     If we are to please you rightly, always allow us to play First
     If I love you, need you care what anybody else thinks
     In truth she sighed to feel as he did, above everybody
     Incapable of putting the screw upon weak excited nature
     Informed him that he never played jokes with money, or on men
     Is he jealous? 'Only when I make him, he is.'
     It 's us hard ones that get on best in the world
     It is better for us both, of course
     It was in a time before our joyful era of universal equality
     It is no insignificant contest when love has to crush self-love
     It's no use trying to be a gentleman if you can't pay for it
     It's a fool that hopes for peace anywhere
     Lay no petty traps for opportunity
     Listened to one another, and blinded the world
     Looked as proud as if he had just clapped down the full amount
     Love is a contagious disease
     Make no effort to amuse him. He is always occupied
     Man without a penny in his pocket, and a gizzard full of pride
     Married a wealthy manufacturer--bartered her blood for his money
     Maxims of her own on the subject of rising and getting the worm
     Men they regard as their natural prey
     Men do not play truant from home at sixty years of age
     Most youths are like Pope's women; they have no character
     My belief is, you do it on purpose. Can't be such rank idiots
     Never intended that we should play with flesh and blood
     Never to despise the good opinion of the nonentities
     No great harm done when you're silent
     No conversation coming of it, her curiosity was violent
     Notoriously been above the honours of grammar
     Occasional instalments--just to freshen the account
     Oh! I can't bear that class of people
     One fool makes many, and so, no doubt, does one goose
     One seed of a piece of folly will lurk and sprout to confound us
     Our comedies are frequently youth's tragedies
     Partake of a morning draught
     Patronizing woman
     Play second fiddle without looking foolish
     Pride is the God of Pagans
     Propitiate common sense on behalf of what seems tolerably absurd
     Rare as epic song is the man who is thorough in what he does
     Read one another perfectly in their mutual hypocrisies
     Rebukes which give immeasurable rebounds
     Recalling her to the subject-matter with all the patience
     Refuge in the Castle of Negation against the whole army of facts
     Remarked that the young men must fight it out together
     Requiring natural services from her in the button department
     Rose was much behind her age
     Rose! what have I done? 'Nothing at all,' she said
     Said she was what she would have given her hand not to be
     Says you're so clever you ought to be a man
     Second fiddle; he could only mean what she meant
     Secrets throw on the outsiders the onus of raising a scandal
     Sense, even if they can't understand it, flatters them so
     She did not detest the Countess because she could not like her
     She was unworthy to be the wife of a tailor
     She, not disinclined to dilute her grief
     She believed friendship practicable between men and women
     She was at liberty to weep if she pleased
     Sincere as far as she knew: as far as one who loves may be
     Small beginnings, which are in reality the mighty barriers
     Speech is poor where emotion is extreme
     Speech that has to be hauled from the depths usually betrays
     Spiritualism, and on the balm that it was
     Such a man was banned by the world, which was to be despised?
     Taking oath, as it were, by their lower nature
     Tears that dried as soon as they had served their end
     Tenderness which Mrs. Mel permitted rather than encouraged
     That plain confession of a lack of wit; he offered combat
     That beautiful trust which habit gives
     The ass eats at my table, and treats me with contempt
     The Countess dieted the vanity according to the nationality
     The letter had a smack of crabbed age hardly counterfeit
     The commonest things are the worst done
     The thrust sinned in its shrewdness
     The power to give and take flattery to any amount
     The grey furniture of Time for his natural wear
     Those numerous women who always know themselves to be right
     Thus does Love avenge himself on the unsatisfactory Past
     To be both generally blamed, and generally liked
     To let people speak was a maxim of Mrs. Mel's, and a wise one
     Took care to be late, so that all eyes beheld her
     Touching a nerve
     Toyed with little flowers of palest memory
     Tradesman, and he never was known to have sent in a bill
     Tried to be honest, and was as much so as his disease permitted
     True enjoyment of the princely disposition
     Two people love, there is no such thing as owing between them
     Unfeminine of any woman to speak continuously anywhere
     Virtuously zealous in an instant on behalf of the lovely dame
     Vulgarity in others evoked vulgarity in her
     Waited serenely for the certain disasters to enthrone her
     We deprive all renegades of their spiritual titles
     What a stock of axioms young people have handy
     What will be thought of me? not a small matter to any of us
     What he did, she took among other inevitable matters
     What's an eccentric? a child grown grey!
     When testy old gentlemen could commit slaughter with ecstasy
     When you run away, you don't live to fight another day
     When Love is hurt, it is self-love that requires the opiate
     Whose bounty was worse to him than his abuse
     Why, he'll snap your head off for a word
     With good wine to wash it down, one can swallow anything
     With a proud humility
     Wrapped in the comfort of his cowardice
     You do want polish
     You talk your mother with a vengeance
     You accuse or you exonerate--Nobody can be half guilty
     You rides when you can, and you walks when you must
     You're the puppet of your women!
     Youth is not alarmed by the sound of big sums





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