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Title: John Caldigate
Author: Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882
Language: English
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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 "John Caldigate" ***

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and revised by Joseph E. Loewenstein, M.D.


JOHN CALDIGATE

By

ANTHONY TROLLOPE



Contents

      I. Folking
     II. Puritan Grange
    III. Daniel Caldigate
     IV. The Shands
      V. The Goldfinder
     VI. Mrs. Smith
    VII. The Three Attempts
   VIII. Reaching Melbourne
     IX. Nobble
      X. Polyeuka Hall
     XI. Ahalala
    XII. Mademoiselle Cettini
   XIII. Coming Back
    XIV. Again at Home
     XV. Again at Pollington
    XVI. Again at Babington
   XVII. Again at Puritan Grange
  XVIII. Robert Bolton
    XIX. Men are so wicked
     XX. Hester's Courage
    XXI. The Wedding
   XXII. As to touching Pitch
  XXIII. The New Heir
   XXIV. News from the Gold Mines
    XXV. The Baby's Sponsors
   XXVI. A Stranger in Cambridge
  XXVII. The Christening
 XXVIII. Tom Crinkett at Folking
   XXIX. 'Just by telling me that I am'
    XXX. The Conclave at Puritan Grange
   XXXI. Hester is Lured Back
  XXXII. The Babington Wedding
 XXXIII. Persuasion
  XXXIV. Violence
   XXXV. In Prison
  XXXVI. The Escape
 XXXVII. Again at Folking
XXXVIII. Bollum
  XXXIX. Restitution
     XL. Waiting for the Trial
    XLI. The First Day
   XLII. The Second Day
  XLIII. The Last Day
   XLIV. After the Verdict
    XLV. The Boltons are much Troubled
   XLVI. Burning Words
  XLVII. Curlydown and Bagwax
 XLVIII. Sir John Jorum's Chambers
   XLIX. All the Shands
      L. Again at Sir John's Chambers
     LI. Dick Shand goes to Cambridgeshire
    LII. The Fortunes of Bagwax
   LIII. Sir John backs his Opinion
    LIV. Judge Bramber
     LV. How the Conspirators Throve.
    LVI. The Boltons are very Firm
   LVII. Squire Caldigate at the Home Office
  LVIII. Mr. Smirkie is Ill-used
    LIX. How the Big-Wigs doubted
     LX. How Mrs. Bolton was nearly conquered
    LXI. The News reaches Cambridge
   LXII. John Caldigate's Return
  LXIII. How Mrs. Bolton was quite conquered
   LXIV. Conclusion



Chapter I

Folking



Perhaps it was more the fault of Daniel Caldigate the father than of his
son John Caldigate, that they two could not live together in comfort in
the days of the young man's early youth. And yet it would have been much
for both of them that such comfortable association should have been
possible to them. Wherever the fault lay, or the chief fault--for
probably there was some on both sides--the misfortune was so great as to
bring crushing troubles upon each of them.

There were but the two of which to make a household. When John was
fifteen, and had been about a year at Harrow, he lost his mother and his
two little sisters almost at a blow. The two girls went first, and the
poor mother, who had kept herself alive to see them die, followed them
almost instantly. Then Daniel Caldigate had been alone.

And he was a man who knew how to live alone,--a just, hard,
unsympathetic man,--of whom his neighbours said, with something of
implied reproach, that he bore up strangely when he lost his wife and
girls. This they said, because he was to be seen riding about the
country, and because he was to be heard talking to the farmers and
labourers as though nothing special had happened to him. It was rumoured
of him, too, that he was as constant with his books as before; and he
had been a man always constant with his books; and also that he had
never been seen to shed a tear, or been heard to speak of those who had
been taken from him.

He was, in truth, a stout, self-constraining man, silent unless when he
had something to say. Then he could become loud enough, or perhaps it
might be said, eloquent. To his wife he had been inwardly affectionate,
but outwardly almost stern. To his daughters he had been the
same,--always anxious for every good thing on their behalf, but never
able to make the children conscious of this anxiety. When they were
taken from him, he suffered in silence, as such men do suffer; and he
suffered the more because he knew well how little of gentleness there
had been in his manners with them.

But he had hoped, as he sat alone in his desolate house, that it would
be different with him and his only son,--with his son who was now the
only thing left to him. But the son was a boy, and he had to look
forward to what years might bring him rather than to present happiness
from that source. When the boy came home for his holidays, the father
would sometimes walk with him, and discourse on certain chosen
subjects,--on the politics of the day, in regard to which Mr. Caldigate
was an advanced Liberal, on the abomination of the Game Laws, on the
folly of Protection, on the antiquated absurdity of a State Church;--as
to all which matters his son John lent him a very inattentive ear. Then
the lad would escape and kill rabbits, or rats, or even take birds'
nests, with a zest for such pursuits which was disgusting to the father,
though he would not absolutely forbid them. Then John would be allured
to go to his uncle Babington's house, where there was a pony on which he
could hunt, and fishing-rods, and a lake with a boat, and three fine
bouncing girl-cousins, who made much of him, and called him Jack; so
that he soon preferred his uncle Babington's house, and would spend much
of his holidays at Babington House.

Mr. Caldigate was a country squire with a moderate income, living in a
moderate house called Folking, in the parish of Utterden, about ten
miles from Cambridge. Here he owned nearly the entire parish, and some
portion of Netherden, which lay next to it, having the reputation of an
income of £3,000 a-year. It probably amounted to about two-thirds of
that. Early in life he had been a very poor man, owing to the
improvidence of his father; but he had soon quarrelled with his
father,--as he had with almost everyone else,--and had for some ten
years earned his own bread in the metropolis among the magazines and
newspapers. Then, when his father died, the property was his own, with
such encumbrances as the old squire had been able to impose upon it.
Daniel Caldigate had married when he was a poor man, but did not go to
Folking to live till the estate was clear, at which time he was forty
years old. When he was endeavouring to inculcate good Liberal principles
into that son of his, who was burning the while to get off to a battle
of rats among the corn-stacks, he was not yet fifty. There might
therefore be some time left to him for the promised joys of
companionship if he could only convince the boy that politics were
better than rats.

But he did not long make himself any such promise. It seemed to him that
his son's mind was of a nature very different from his own; and much
like to that of his grandfather. The lad could be awakened to no
enthusiasm in the abuse of Conservative leaders. And those Babingtons
were such fools! He despised the whole race of them,--especially those
thick-legged, romping, cherry-cheeked damsels, of whom, no doubt, his
son would marry one. They were all of the earth earthy, without an idea
among them. And yet he did not dare to forbid his son to go to the
house, lest people should say of him that his sternness was unendurable.

Folking is not a place having many attractions of its own, beyond the
rats. It lies in the middle of the Cambridgeshire fens, between St.
Ives, Cambridge, and Ely. In the two parishes of Utterden and Netherden
there is no rise of ground which can by any stretch of complaisance be
called a hill. The property is bisected by an immense straight dike,
which is called the Middle Wash, and which is so sluggish, so straight,
so ugly, and so deep, as to impress the mind of a stranger with the
ideas of suicide. And there are straight roads and straight dikes, with
ugly names on all sides, and passages through the country called droves,
also with ugly appellations of their own, which certainly are not worthy
of the name of roads. The Folking Causeway possesses a bridge across the
Wash, and is said to be the remains of an old Roman Way which ran in a
perfectly direct line from St. Neots to Ely. When you have crossed the
bridge going northward,--or north-westward,--there is a lodge at your
right hand, and a private road running, as straight as a line can be
drawn, through pollard poplars, up to Mr. Caldigate's house. Round the
house there are meadows, and a large old-fashioned kitchen garden, and a
small dark flower-garden, with clipt hedges and straight walks, quite in
the old fashion. The house itself is dark, picturesque, well-built, low,
and uncomfortable. Part of it is as old as the time of Charles II., and
part dates from Queen Anne. Something was added at a later
date,--perhaps early in the Georges; but it was all done with good
materials, and no stint of labour. Shoddy had not been received among
building materials when any portion of Folking was erected. But then
neither had modern ideas of comfort become in vogue. Just behind the
kitchen-garden a great cross ditch, called Foul-water Drain, runs, or
rather creeps, down to the Wash, looking on that side as though it had
been made to act as a moat to the house; and on the other side of the
drain there is Twopenny Drove, at the end of which Twopenny Ferry leads
to Twopenny Hall, a farmhouse across the Wash belonging to Mr.
Caldigate. The fields around are all square and all flat, all mostly
arable, and are often so deep in mud that a stranger wonders that a
plough should be able to be dragged through the soil. The farming is,
however, good of its kind, and the ploughing is mostly done by steam.

Such is and has been for some years the house at Folking in which Mr.
Caldigate has lived quite alone. For five years after his wife's death
he had only on rare occasions received visitors there. Twice his brother
had come to Folking, and had brought a son with him. The brother had
been a fellow of a college at Cambridge, and had taken a living, and
married late in life. The living was far away in Dorsetshire, and the
son, at the time of these visits, was being educated at a private
school. Twice they had both been at Folking together, and the uncle had,
in his silent way, liked the boy. The lad had preferred, or had
pretended to prefer, books to rats; had understood or seemed to
understand, something of the advantages of cheap food for the people,
and had been commended by the father for general good conduct. But when
they had last taken their departure from Folking, no one had entertained
any idea of any peculiar relations between the nephew and the uncle. It
was not till a year or two more had run by, that Mr. Daniel Caldigate
thought of making his nephew George the heir to the property.

The property indeed was entailed upon John, as it had been entailed upon
John's father. There were many institutions of his country which Mr.
Caldigate hated with almost an inhuman hatred; but there were none more
odious to him than that of entails, which institution he was wont to
prove by many arguments to be the source of all the ignorance and all
the poverty and all the troubles by which his country was inflicted. He
had got his own property by an entail, and certainly never would have
had an acre had his father been able to consume more than a
life-interest. But he had denied that the property had done him any
good, and was loud in declaring that the entail had done the property
and those who lived on it very much harm. In his hearts of hearts he did
feel a desire that when he was gone the acres should still belong to a
Caldigate. There was so much in him of the leaven of the old English
squirarchic aristocracy as to create a pride in the fact that the
Caldigates had been at Folking for three hundred years, and a wish that
they might remain there; and no doubt he knew that without repeated
entails they would not have remained there. But still he had hated the
thing, and as years rolled on he came to think that the entail now
existing would do an especial evil.

His son on leaving school spent almost the whole four months between
that time and the beginning of his first term at Cambridge with the
Babingtons. This period included the month of September, and afforded
therefore much partridge shooting,--than which nothing was meaner in the
opinion of the Squire of Folking. When a short visit was made to
Folking, the father was sarcastic and disagreeable; and then, for the
first time, John Caldigate showed himself to be possessed of a power of
reply which was peculiarly disagreeable to the old man. This had the
effect of cutting down the intended allowance of £250 to £220 per annum,
for which sum the father had been told that his son could live like a
gentleman at the University. This parsimony so disgusted uncle
Babington, who lived on the other side of the county, within the borders
of Suffolk, that he insisted on giving his nephew a hunter, and an
undertaking to bear the expense of the animal as long as John should
remain at the University. No arrangement could have been more foolish.
And that last visit made by John to Babington House for the two days
previous to his Cambridge career was in itself most indiscreet. The
angry father would not take upon himself to forbid it, but was worked up
by it to perilous jealousy. He did not scruple to declare aloud that old
Humphrey Babington was a thick-headed fool; nor did Humphrey Babington,
who, with his ten or twelve thousand a-year, was considerably involved,
scruple to say that he hated such cheese-paring ways. John Caldigate
felt more distaste to the cheese-paring ways than he did to his uncle's
want of literature.

Such was the beginning of the rupture which took place before the time
had come for John to take his degree. When that time came he had a
couple of hunters at Cambridge, played in the Cambridge eleven, and
rowed in one of the Trinity boats. He also owed something over £800 to
the regular tradesmen of the University, and a good deal more to other
creditors who were not 'regular.' During the whole of this time his
visits to Folking had been short and few. The old squire had become more
and more angry, and not the less so because he was sensible of a
non-performance of duty on his own part. Though he was close to
Cambridge he never went to see his son; nor would he even press the lad
to come out to Folking. Nor when, on rare occasions, a visit was made,
did he endeavour to make the house pleasant. He was jealous, jealous to
hot anger, at being neglected, but could not bring himself to make
advances to his own son. Then when he heard from his son's tutor that
his son could not pass his degree without the payment of £800 for
recognised debts,--then his anger boiled over, and he told John
Caldigate that he was expelled from his father's heart and his father's
house.

The money was paid and the degree was taken: and there arose the
question as to what was to be done. John, of course, took himself to
Babington House, and was condoled with by his uncle and cousins. His
troubles at this time were numerous enough. That £800 by no means summed
up his whole indebtedness;--covered indeed but a small part of it. He
had been at Newmarket; and there was a pleasant gentleman, named Davis,
who frequented that place and Cambridge, who had been very civil to him
when he lost a little money, and who now held his acceptances for, alas!
much more than £800. Even uncle Babington knew nothing of this when the
degree was taken. And then there came a terrible blow to him. Aunt
Babington,--aunt Polly as she was called,--got him into her own closet
upstairs, where she kept her linen and her jams and favourite liqueurs,
and told him that his cousin Julia was dying in love for him. After all
that had passed, of course it was expected he would engage himself to
his cousin Julia. Now Julia was the eldest, the thickest-ankled, and the
cherry-cheekedest of the lot. To him up to that time the Babington folk
had always been a unit. No one else had been so good-natured to him, had
so petted him, and so freely administered to all his wants. He would
kiss them all round whenever he went to Babington; but he had not kissed
Julia more than her sisters. There were three sons, whom he never
specially liked, and who certainly were fools. One was the heir, and, of
course, did nothing; the second was struggling for a degree at Oxford
with an eye to the family living; the third was in a fair way to become
the family gamekeeper. He certainly did not wish to marry into the
family;--and yet they had all been so kind to him!

'I should have nothing to marry on, aunt Polly,' he said.

Then he was reminded that he was his father's heir, and that his
father's house was sadly in want of a mistress. They could live at
Babington till Folking should be ready. The prospect was awful!

What is a young man to say in such a position? 'I do not love the young
lady after that fashion, and therefore I must decline.' It requires a
hero, and a cold-blooded hero, to do that. And aunt Polly was very much
in earnest, for she brought Julia into the room, and absolutely
delivered her up into the young man's arms.

'I am so much in debt,' he said, 'that I don't care to think of it.'

Aunt Polly declared that such debts did not signify in the least.
Folking was not embarrassed. Folking did not owe a shilling. Every one
knew that. And there was Julia in his arms! He never said that he would
marry her; but when he left the linen-closet the two ladies understood
that the thing was arranged.

Luckily for him aunt Polly had postponed this scene till the moment
before his departure from the house. He was at this time going to
Cambridge, where he was to be the guest, for one night, of a certain Mr.
Bolton, who was one of the very few friends to whom his father was still
attached. Mr. Bolton was a banker, living close to Cambridge, an old man
now, with four sons and one daughter; and to his house John Caldigate
was going in order that he might there discuss with Mr. Bolton certain
propositions which had been made between him and his father respecting
the Folking property. The father had now realised the idea of buying his
son out; and John himself, who had all the world and all his life before
him, and was terribly conscious of the obligations which he owed to his
friend Davis, had got into his head a notion that he would prefer to
face his fortune with a sum of ready money, than to wait in absolute
poverty for the reversion of the family estate. He had his own ideas,
and in furtherance of them he had made certain inquiries. There was gold
being found at this moment among the mountains of New South Wales, in
quantities which captivated his imagination. And this was being done in
a most lovely spot, among circumstances which were in all respects
romantic. His friend, Richard Shand, who was also a Trinity man, was
quite resolved to go out, and he was minded to accompany his friend. In
this way, and, as he thought, in this way only, could a final settlement
be made with that most assiduous of attendants, Mr. Davis. His mind was
fully set upon New South Wales, and his little interview with his
cousin Julia did not tend to bind him more closely to his own country,
or to Babington, or to Folking.



Chapter II

Puritan Grange



Perhaps there had been a little treachery on the part of Mr. Davis, for
he had, in a gently insinuating way, made known to the Squire the fact
of those acceptances, and the additional fact that he was, through
unforeseen circumstances, lamentably in want of ready money. The Squire
became eloquent, and assured Mr. Davis that he would not pay a penny to
save either Mr. Davis or his son from instant imprisonment,--or even
from absolute starvation. Then Mr. Davis shrugged his shoulders, and
whispered the word, 'Post-obits.' The Squire, thereupon threatened to
kick him out of the house, and, on the next day, paid a visit to his
friend Mr. Bolton. There had, after that, been a long correspondence
between the father, the son, and Mr. Bolton, as to which John Caldigate
said not a word to the Babingtons. Had he been more communicative, he
might have perhaps saved himself from that scene in the linen-closet. As
it was, when he started for Cambridge, nothing was known at Babington
either of Mr. Davis or of the New South Wales scheme.

Mr. Bolton lived in a large red-brick house, in the village of
Chesterton, near to Cambridge, which, with a large garden, was
surrounded by an old, high, dark-coloured brick-wall. He rarely saw any
company; and there were probably not many of the more recently imported
inhabitants of the town who had ever been inside the elaborate iron
gates by which the place was to be approached. He had been a banker all
his life, and was still reported to be the senior partner in Bolton's
bank. But the management of the concern had, in truth, been given up to
his two elder sons. His third son was a barrister in London, and a
fourth was settled in Cambridge as a solicitor. These men were all
married, and were doing well in the world, living in houses better than
their father's, and spending a great deal more money. Mr. Bolton had the
name of being a hard man, because, having begun life in small
circumstances, he had never learned to chuck his shillings about easily;
but he had, in a most liberal manner, made over the bulk of his fortune
to his sons; and though he himself could rarely be got to sit at their
tables, he took delight in hearing that they lived bounteously with
their friends. He had been twice married, and there now lived with him
his second wife and a daughter, Hester,--a girl about sixteen years of
age at the period of John Caldigate's visit to Puritan Grange, as Mr.
Bolton's house was called. At this time Puritan Grange was not badly
named; for Mrs. Bolton was a lady of stern life, and Hester Bolton was
brought up with more of seclusion and religious observances than are now
common in our houses.

Mr. Bolton was probably ten years older than the Squire of Folking; but
circumstances had, in early life, made them fast friends. The old Squire
had owed a large sum of money to the bank, and Mr. Bolton had then been
attracted by the manner in which the son had set himself to work, so
that he might not be a burden on the estate. They had been fast friends
for a quarter of a century, and now the arrangement of terms between the
present Squire and his son had been left to Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Bolton had, no doubt, received a very unfavourable account of the
young man. Men, such as was Mr. Bolton, who make their money by lending
it out at recognised rates of interest,--and who are generally very keen
in looking after their principal,--have no mercy whatsoever for the
Davises of creation, and very little for their customers. To have had
dealings with a Davis is condemnation in their eyes. Mr. Bolton would
not, therefore, have opened his gates to this spendthrift had not his
feelings for the father been very strong. He had thought much upon the
matter, and had tried hard to dissuade the Squire. He, the banker, was
not particularly attached to the theory of primogeniture. He had divided
his wealth equally between his own sons. But he had a strong idea as to
property and its rights. The young man's claim to Folking after his
father's death was as valid as the father's claim during his life. No
doubt, the severance of the entail, if made at all, would be made in
accordance with the young man's wishes, and on certain terms which
should be declared to be just by persons able to compute the value of
such rights. No doubt, also,--so Mr. Bolton thought,--the property would
be utterly squandered if left in its present condition. It would be
ruined by incumbrances in the shape of post-obits. All this had been
deeply considered, and at last Mr. Bolton had consented to act between
the father and the son.

When John Caldigate was driven up through the iron gates to Mr. Bolton's
door, his mind was not quite at ease within him. He had seen Mr. Bolton on
two or three occasions during his University career, and had called at
the house; but he had never entered it, and had never seen the ladies;
and now it was necessary that he should discuss his own follies, and own
all his faults. Of course, that which he was going to do would, in the
eyes of the British world, be considered very unwise. The British world
regards the position of heirship to acres as the most desirable which a
young man could hold. That he was about to abandon. But, as he told
himself, without abandoning it he could not rid himself from the horror
of Davis. He was quite prepared to acknowledge his own vice and
childish stupidity in regard to Davis. He had looked all round that now,
and was sure that he would do nothing of the kind again. But how could
he get rid of Davis in any other way than this? And then Folking had no
charms for him. He hated Folking. He was certain that any life would
suit him better than a life to be passed as squire of Folking. And he
was quite alive to the fact that, though there was at home the prospect
of future position and future income, for the present, there would be
nothing. Were he to submit himself humbly to his father, he might
probably be allowed to vegetate at the old family home. But there was no
career for him. No profession had as yet been even proposed. His father
was fifty-five, a very healthy man,--likely to live for the next twenty
years. And then it would be impossible that he should dwell in peace
under the same roof with his father. And Davis! Life would be miserable
to him if he could not free himself from that thraldom. The sum of money
which was to be offered to him, and which was to be raised on the
Folking property, would enable him to pay Davis, and to start upon his
career with plentiful means in his pocket. He would, too, be wise and
not risk all his capital. Shand had a couple of thousand pounds, and he
would start with a like sum of his own. Should he fail in New South
Wales, there would still be something on which to begin again. With his
mind thus fixed, he entered Mr. Bolton's gates.

He was to stay one night at Puritan Grange; and then, if the matter were
arranged, he would go over to Folking for a day or two, and endeavour to
part from his father on friendly terms. In that case he would be able to
pay Davis himself, and there need be no ground for quarrelling on that
score.

Before dinner the matter was settled at the Grange. The stern old man
bade his visitor sit down, and then explained to him at full length that
which it was proposed to do. So much money the Squire had himself put
by; so much more Mr. Bolton himself would advance; the value had been
properly computed; and, should the arrangement be completed, he, John
Caldigate, would sell his inheritance at its proper price. Over and over
again the young man endeavoured to interrupt the speaker, but was told
to postpone his words till the other should have done. Such
interruptions came from the too evident fact that Mr. Bolton thoroughly
despised his guest. Caldigate, though he had been very foolish, though
he had loved to slaughter rats and rabbits, and to romp with the girls
at Babington, was by no means a fool. He was possessed of good natural
abilities, of great activity, and of a high spirit. His appreciation was
quicker than that of the old banker, who, as he soon saw, had altogether
failed to understand him. In every word that the banker spoke, it was
evident that he thought that these thousands would be squandered
instantly. The banker spoke as though this terrible severance was to be
made because the natural heir had shown himself to be irrevocably bad.
What could be expected from a youth who was deep in the books of a Davis
before he had left his college? 'I do not recommend this,' he said at
last. 'I have never recommended it. The disruption is so great as to be
awful. But when your father has asked what better step he could take, I
have been unable to advise him.' It was as though the old man were
telling the young one that he was too bad for hope, and that, therefore,
he must be consigned for ever to perdition.

Caldigate, conscious of the mistake which the banker was making, full of
hope as to himself, intending to acknowledge the follies of which he had
been guilty, and, at the same time, not to promise,--for he would not
condescend so far,--but to profess that they were things of the past,
and impatient of the judgment expressed against him, endeavoured to stop
the old man in his severity, so that the tone in which the business was
being done might be altered. But when he found that he could not do this
without offence, he leaned back in his chair, and heard the indictment
to the end. 'Now, Mr. Bolton,' he said, when at length his time came,
'you shall hear my view of the matter.' And Mr. Bolton did hear him,
listening very patiently. Caldigate first asserted, that in coming
there, to Puritan Grange, his object had been to learn what were the
terms proposed,--as to which he was now willing to give his assent. He
had already quite made up his mind to sell what property he had on the
estate, and therefore, though he was much indebted to Mr. Bolton for his
disinterested and kind friendship, he was hardly in want of counsel on
that matter. Mr. Bolton raised his eyebrows, but still listened
patiently. Caldigate then went on to explain his views as to life,
declaring that under no circumstances--had there been no Davis--would he
have consented to remain at Folking as a deputy-squire, waiting to take
up his position some twenty years hence at his father's death. Nor, even
were Folking his own at this moment, would he live there! He must do
something; and, upon the whole, he thought that gold-mining in the
colonies was the most congenial pursuit to which he could put his hand.
Then he made a frank acknowledgment as to Davis and his gambling
follies, and ended by saying that the matter might be regarded as
settled.

He had certainly been successful in changing the old man's opinion. Mr.
Bolton did not say as much, nor was he a man likely to make such
acknowledgment; but when he led John Caldigate away to be introduced to
his wife in the drawing-room, he felt less of disdain for his guest than
he had done half an hour before. Mr. Bolton was a silent, cautious man,
even in his own family, and had said nothing of this business to his
wife, and nothing, of course, to his daughter. Mrs. Bolton asked after
the Squire, and expressed a hope that her guest would not find the
house very dull for one night. She had heard that John Caldigate was a
fast young man, and of course regarded him as a lost sinner. Hester, who
was with her mother, looked at him with all her young big eyes, but did
not speak a word. It was very seldom that she saw any young man, or
indeed young people of either sex. But when this stranger spoke freely
to her mother about this subject and the other, she listened to him and
was interested.

John Caldigate, without being absolutely handsome, was a youth sure to
find favour in a woman's eyes. He was about five feet ten in height,
strong and very active, with bright dark eyes which were full of life
and intelligence. His forehead was square and showed the angles of his
brow; his hair was dark and thick and cut somewhat short; his mouth was
large, but full of expression and generally, also, of good-humour. His
nose would have been well formed, but that it was a little snubbed at
the end. Altogether his face gave you the idea of will, intellect, and a
kindly nature; but there was in it a promise, too, of occasional anger,
and a physiognomist might perhaps have expected from it that vacillation
in conduct which had hitherto led him from better things into wretched
faults.

As he was talking to Mrs. Bolton he had observed the girl, who sat
apart, with her fingers busy on her work, and who had hardly spoken a
word since his entrance. She was, he thought, the most lovely human
being that he had ever beheld; and yet she was hardly more than a child.
But how different from those girls at Babington! Her bright brown hair
was simply brushed from off her forehead and tied in a knot behind her
head. Her dress was as plain as a child's,--as though it was intended
that she should still be regarded as a child. Her face was very fair,
with large, grey, thoughtful eyes, and a mouth which, though as
Caldigate watched her it was never opened, seemed always as if it was
just about to pour forth words. And he could see that though her eyes
were intent upon her work, from time to time she looked across at him;
and he thought that if only they two were alone together, he could teach
her to speak.

But no such opportunity was given to him now, or during his short
sojourn at the Grange. After a while the old man returned to the room
and took him up to his bed-chamber. It was then about half-past four,
and he was told that they were to dine at six. It was early in
November,--not cold enough for bedroom fires among thrifty people, and
there he was left, apparently to spend an hour with nothing to do.
Rebelling against this, declaring that even at Puritan Grange he would
be master of his own actions, he rushed down into the hall, took his
hat, and walked off into the town. He would go and take one last look at
the old college.

He went in through the great gate and across the yard, and passing by
the well-known buttery-hatches, looked into the old hall for the last
time. The men were all seated at dinner, and he could see the fellows up
at the high table. Three years ago it had been his fixed resolve to earn
for himself the right to sit upon that dais. He had then been sure of
himself,--that he would do well, and take honours, and win a fellowship.
There had been moments in which he had thought that a college life would
suit him till he came into his own property. But how had all that faded
away! Everybody had congratulated him on the ease with which he did his
work,--and the result had been Newmarket, Davis, and a long score in the
ephemeral records of a cricket match. As he stood there, with his
slouched hat over his eyes, one of the college servants recognised him,
and called him by his name. Then he passed on quickly, and made his way
out to the gravel-walk by the river-side. It was not yet closed for the
night, and he went on, that he might take one last turn up and down the
old avenue.

He had certainly made a failure of his life so far. He did acknowledge
to himself that there was something nobler in these classic shades than
in the ore-laden dirt of an Australian gold-gully. He knew as much of
the world as that. He had not hitherto chosen the better part, and now
something of regret, even as to Folking,--poor old Folking,--came upon
him. He was, as it were, being kicked out and repudiated by his own
family as worthless. And what was he to do about Julia Babington? After
that scene in the linen-closet, he could not leave his country without a
word either to Julia or to aunt Polly. But the idea of Julia was doubly
distasteful to him since that lovely vision of young female simplicity
had shone upon him from the corner of Mrs. Bolton's drawing-room.
Romping with the Babington girls was all very well; but if he could only
feel the tips of that girl's fingers come within the grasp of his hand!
Then he thought that it would lend a fine romance to his life if he
could resolve to come back, when he should be laden with gold, and make
Hester Bolton his wife. It should be his romance, and he swore that he
would cling to it.

He turned back, and came down to dinner five minutes after the time. At
ten minutes before dinner-time Mr. Bolton heard that he was gone out and
was offended,--thinking it quite possible that he would not return at
all. What might not be expected from a young man who could so easily
abandon his inheritance! But he was there, only five minutes after the
time, and the dinner was eaten almost in silence. In the evening there
was tea, and the coldest shivering attempt at conversation for half an
hour, during which he could still at moments catch the glance of
Hester's eyes, and see the moving curve of her lips. Then there was a
reading of the Bible, and prayer, and before ten he was in his bed-room.

On the next morning as he took his departure, Mr. Bolton said a word
intended to be gracious. 'I hope you may succeed in your enterprise,
Mr. Caldigate.'

'Why should I not as well as another?' said John, cheerily.

'If you are steady, sober, industrious, self-denying and honest, you
probably will,' replied the banker.

'To promise all that would be to promise too much,' said John. 'But I
mean to make an effort.'

Then at that moment he made one effort which was successful. For an
instant he held Hester's fingers within his hand.



Chapter III

Daniel Caldigate



That piece of business was done. It was one of the disagreeable things
which he had had to do before he could get away to the gold-diggings,
and it was done. Now he had to say farewell to his father, and that
would be a harder task. As the moment was coming in which he must bid
adieu to his father, perhaps for ever, and bid adieu to the old place
which, though he despised it, he still loved, his heart was heavy within
him. He felt sure that his father had no special regard for him;--in
which he was, of course, altogether wrong, and the old man was equally
wrong in supposing that his son was unnaturally deficient in filial
affection. But they had never known each other, and were so different
that neither had understood the other. The son, however, was ready to
confess to himself that the chief fault had been with himself. It was
natural, he thought, that a father's regard should be deadened by such
conduct as his had been, and natural that an old man should not believe
in the quick repentance and improvement of a young one.

He hired a gig and drove himself over from Cambridge to Folking. As he
got near to the place, and passed along the dikes, and looked to the
right and left down the droves, and trotted at last over the Folking
bridge across the Middle Wash, the country did not seem to him to be so
unattractive as of yore; and when he recognised the faces of the
neighbours, when one of the tenants spoke to him kindly, and the girls
dropped a curtsey as he passed, certain soft regrets began to crop up in
his mind. After all, there is a comfort in the feeling of property--not
simply its money comfort, but in the stability and reputation of a
recognised home. Six months ago there had seemed to him to be something
ridiculous in the idea of a permanent connection between the names of
Caldigate and Folking. It was absurd that, with so wild and beautiful a
world around him, he should be called upon to live in a washy fen
because his father and grandfather had been unfortunate enough to do so.
And then, at that time, all sympathy with bricks and mortar, any
affection for special trees or well-known home-haunts, was absurd in his
eyes. And as his father had been harsh to him, and did not like him,
would it not be better that they should be far apart? It was thus that
he had reasoned. But now all that was changed. An unwonted tenderness
had come upon his spirit. The very sallows by the brook seemed to appeal
to him. As he saw the house chimneys through the trees, he remembered
that they had carried smoke from the hearths of many generations of
Caldigates. He remembered, too, that his father would soon be old, and
would be alone. It seemed to himself that his very mind and spirit were
altered.

But all that was too late. He had agreed to the terms proposed; and even
were he now to repudiate them, what could he do with Davis, and how
could he live for the present? Not for a moment did he entertain such an
idea, but he had lost that alacrity of spirit which had been his when he
first found the way out of his difficulties.

His father did not come forth to meet him. He went in across the hall
and through the library, into a little closet beyond, in which Mr.
Caldigate was wont to sit. 'Well, John,' said the old man, 'how have you
and Mr. Bolton got on together?'

There seemed to be something terribly cold in this. It might be better
that they should part,--better even, though the parting should be for
ever. It might be right;--nay, he knew that it was right that he should
be thrust out of the inheritance. He had spent money that was not his
own, and, of course, he must pay the debt. But that his father should
sit there in his chair on his entrance, not even rising to greet him,
and should refer at once to Mr. Bolton and that business arrangement, as
though that, and that alone, need now be discussed, did seem to him to
be almost cruel. Of all that his father had suffered in constraining
himself to this conduct, he understood nothing. 'Mr. Bolton made himself
very plain, sir.'

'He would be sure to do so. He is a man of business and intelligent. But
as to the terms proposed, were they what you had expected?'

'Quite as good as I had expected.'

'Whether good or bad, of course you will understand that I have had
nothing to do with them. The matter has been referred to two gentlemen
conversant with such subjects; and, after due inquiry, they told Mr.
Bolton what was the money value of your rights. It is a question to be
settled as easily as the price of a ton of coals or a joint of beef. But
you must understand that I have not interfered.'

'I am quite aware of that, sir.'

'As for the money, something over a third of it is in my own hands. I
have not been extravagant myself, and have saved so much. The remainder
will come out of Mr. Bolton's bank, and will be lent on mortgage. I
certainly shall not have cause for extravagance now, living here alone;
and shall endeavour to free the estate from the burden by degrees. When
I die, it will, in accordance with my present purpose, go to your cousin
George.' As this was said, John thought he perceived something like a
quiver in his father's voice, which, up to that point, had been hard,
clear, and unshaken. 'As to that, however, I do not intend to pledge
myself,' he continued. 'The estate will now be my own, subject to the
claim from Messrs. Bolton's bank. I don't know that there is anything
else to be said.'

'Not about business, sir.'

'And it is business, I suppose, that has brought you here,--and to
Cambridge. I do not know what little things you have of your own in the
house.'

'Not much, sir.'

'If there be anything that you wish to take, take it. But with you now,
I suppose, money is the only possession that has any value.'

'I should like to have the small portrait of you,--the miniature.'

'The miniature of me,' said the father, almost scoffingly, looking up at
his son's face, suspiciously. And yet, though he would not show it, he
was touched. Only if this were a ruse on the part of the young man, a
mock sentiment, a little got-up theatrical pretence,--then,--then how
disgraced he would be in his own estimation at having been moved by such
mockery!

The son stood square before his father, disdaining any attempt to evince
a supplicating tenderness either by his voice or by his features. 'But,
perhaps, you have a special value for it,' he said.

'No, indeed. It is others, not oneself, that ought to have such
trifles,--that is, if they are of value at all.'

'There is none but myself that can care much for it.'

'There is no one to care at all. No one else that is,' he added, wishing
to avoid any further declaration. 'Take that or anything else you want
in the house. There will be things left, I suppose,--clothes and books
and suchlike.'

'Hardly anything, sir. Going so far, I had better give them away. A few
books I shall take.' Then the conversation was over; and in a few
minutes John Caldigate found himself roaming alone about the place.

It was so probable that he might never see it again! Indeed it seemed to
him now that were he to return to England with a fortune made, he would
hardly come to Folking. Years and years must roll by before that could
be done. If he could only come back to Cambridge and fetch that wife
away with him, then he thought it would be better for him to live far
from England, whether he were rich or whether he were poor. It was quite
evident that his father's heart was turned from him altogether. Of
course he had himself to blame,--himself only; but still it was strange
to him that a father should feel no tenderness at parting with an only
son. While he had been in the room he had constrained himself manfully;
not a drop of moisture had glittered in his eye; not a tone of feeling
had thrilled in his voice; his features had never failed him. There had
always been that look of audacity on his brow joined to a certain
manliness of good-humour in his mouth, as though he had been thoroughly
master of himself and the situation. But now, as he pushed his hat from
off his forehead, he rubbed his hand across his eyes to dash away the
tears. He felt almost inclined to rush back to the house and fall on his
knees before his father, and kiss the old man's hands, and beg the old
man's blessing. But though he was potent for much he was not potent for
that. Such expression of tenderness would have been true; but he knew
that he would so break down in the attempt as to make it seem to be
false.

He got out upon Twopenny Drove and passed over the ferry, meaning to
walk across the farm and so out on to the Causeway, and round home by
the bridge. But on the other side of the Wash he encountered Mr. Ralph
Holt, the occupier of Twopenny farm, whose father also and grandfather
had lived upon the same acres. 'And so thou be'est going away from us,
Mr. John,' said the farmer, with real tenderness, almost with solemnity,
in his voice, although there was at the same time something ridiculous
in the far-fetched sadness of his tone and gait.

'Yes, indeed, Holt, I want to travel and see the world at a distance
from here.'

'If it was no more than that, Mr. John, there would be nothing about it.
Zeeing the world! You young collegers allays does that. But be'est thou
to come back and be Squoire o'Folking?'

'I think not, Holt, I think not. My father, I hope, will be Squire for
many a year.'

'Like enough. And we all hope that, for there aren't nowhere a juster
man nor the Squoire, and he's hale and hearty. But in course of things
his time'll run out. And it be so, Mr. John, that thou be'est going for
ever and allays?'

'I rather think I am.'

'It's wrong, Mr. John. Though maybe I'm making over-free to talk of what
don't concern me. Yet I say it's wrong. Sons should come arter fathers,
specially where there's land. We don't none of us like it;--none of us!
It's worse nor going, any one of ourselves. For what's a lease? But when
a man has a freehold he should stick to it for ever and aye. It's just
as though the old place was a-tumbling about all our ears.' Caldigate
was good-natured with the man, trying to make him understand that
everything was being done for the best. And at last he bade him good-bye
affectionately, shaking hands with him, and going into the farmhouse to
perform the same ceremony with his wife and daughters. But to the last
Ralph Holt was uncomfortable and dismal, foretelling miseries. It was
clear that, to his thinking, the stability of this world was undermined
and destroyed by the very contemplation of such a proceeding as this.

Caldigate pursued his walk, and in the course of it bade farewell to
more than one old friend. None of them were so expressive as Holt, but
he could perceive that he was regarded by all of them as a person who,
by his conduct, was bringing misfortune, not only on himself, but on the
whole parishes of Utterden and Netherden.

At dinner the Squire conversed upon various subjects if not easily to
himself, at least with affected ease. Had he applied himself to subjects
altogether indifferent,--to the state of politics, or the Game Laws, or
the absurdities of a State Church, the unfitness of such matters for the
occasion would have been too apparent. Both he and his son would have
broken down in the attempt. But he could talk about Babington,--abusing
the old family,--and even about himself, and about New South Wales, and
gold, and the coming voyage, without touching points which had been, and
would be, specially painful. Not a word had ever been spoken between
them as to Davis. There had, of course, been letters, very angry
letters; but the usurer's name had never been mentioned. Nor was there
any need that it should be mentioned now. It was John's affair,--not in
any way his. So he asked and listened to much about Richard Shand, and
the mode of gold-finding practised among the diggings in New South
Wales.

When the old butler had gone he was even more free, speaking of things
that were past, not only without anger, but, as far as possible, without
chagrin,--treating his son as a person altogether free from any control
of his. 'I dare say it is all for the best,' he said.

'It is well at any rate to try to think so, sir,' replied John,
conscience-stricken as to his own faults.

'I doubt whether there would have been anything for you to do here,--or
at least anything that you would have done. You would have had too much
ambition to manage this little estate under me, and not enough of
industry, I fear, to carry you to the front in any of the professions. I
used to think of the bar.'

'And so did I.'

'But when I found that the Babingtons had got hold of you, and that you
liked horses and guns, better than words and arguments----'

'I never did, sir.'

'It seemed so.'

'Of course I have been weak.'

'Do not suppose for a moment that I am finding fault. It would be of no
avail, and I would not thus embitter our last hours together. But when I
saw how your tastes seemed to lead you, I began to fear that there could
be no career for you here. On such a property as Babington an eldest son
may vegetate like his father before him, and may succeed to it in due
time, before he has wasted everything, and may die as he had lived,
useless, but having to the end all the enjoyments of a swine.'

'You are severe upon my cousins, sir.'

'I say what I think. But you would not have done that. And though you
are not industrious, you are far too active and too clever for such a
life. Now you are probably in earnest as to the future.'

'Yes, I am certainly in earnest.'

'And though you are going to risk your capital in a precarious business,
you will only be doing what is done daily by enterprising men. I could
wish that your position were more secure;--but that now cannot be
helped.'

'My bed is as I have made it. I quite understand that, sir.'

'Thinking of all this, I have endeavoured to reconcile myself to your
going.' Then he paused a moment, considering what he should next say.
And his son was silent, knowing that something further was to come. 'Had
you remained in England we could hardly have lived together as father
and son should live. You would have been dependent on me, and would have
rebelled against that submission which a state of dependence demands.
There would have been nothing for you but to have waited,--and almost to
have wished, for my death.'

'No, sir; never; never that.'

'It would have been no more than natural. I shall hear from you
sometimes?'

'Certainly, sir.'

'It will give an interest to my life if you will write occasionally.
Whither do you go to-morrow?'

It had certainly been presumed, though never said, that this last visit
to the old home was to be only for one day. The hired gig had been kept;
and in his letter the son had asked whether he could be taken in for
Thursday night. But now the proposition that he should go so soon seemed
to imply a cold-blooded want of feeling on his part. 'I need not be in
such a hurry, sir,' he said.

'Of course, it shall be as you please, but I do not know that you will
do any good by staying. A last month may be pleasant enough, or even a
last week, but a last day is purgatory. The melancholy of the occasion
cannot be shaken off. It is only the prolonged wail of a last farewell.'
All this was said in the old man's ordinary voice, but it seemed to
betoken if not feeling itself, a recognition of feeling which the son
had not expected.

'It is very sad,' said the son.

'Therefore, why prolong it? Stand not upon the order of your going but
go at once,--seeing that it is necessary that you should go. Will you
take any more wine? No? Then let us go into the other room. As they are
making company of you and have lighted another fire, we will do as they
would have us.' Then for the rest of the evening there was some talk
about books, and the father, who was greatly given to reading, explained
to his son what kind of literature would, as he thought, fit in best
with the life of a gold-digger.

After what had passed, Caldigate, of course, took his departure on the
following morning. Good-bye said the old man, as the son grasped his
hand, 'Good-bye.' He made no overture to come even as far as the hall in
making this his final adieu.

'I trust I may return to see you in health.'

'It may be so. As to that we can say nothing. Good-bye.' Then, when the
son had turned his back, the father recalled him, by a murmur rather
than by a word,--but in that moment he had resolved to give way a little
to the demands of nature. Good-bye my son,' he said, in a low voice,
very solemnly; 'May God bless you and preserve you.' Then he turned back
at once to his own closet.



Chapter IV

The Shands



John Caldigate had promised to go direct from Folking to the house of
his friend Richard Shand, or rather, to the house in which lived Richard
Shand's father and family. The two young men had much to arrange
together, and this had been thought to be expedient. When Caldigate,
remembering how affairs were at his own home, had suggested that at so
sad a moment he might be found to be in the way, Shand had assured him
that there would be no sadness at all. 'We are not a sentimental race,'
he had said. 'There are a dozen of us, and the sooner some of us
disperse ourselves, the more room will there be in the nest for the
others.'

Shand had been Caldigate's most intimate friend at college through the
whole period of their residence, and now he was to be his companion in
a still more intimate alliance. And yet, though he liked the man, he
did not altogether approve of him. Shand had also got into debt at
Cambridge, but had not paid his debts; and had dealings also with Davis,
as to which he was now quite indifferent. He had left the University
without taking a degree, and had seemed to bear all these adversities
with perfect equanimity. There had not been hitherto much of veneration
in Caldigate's character, but even he had, on occasions, been almost
shocked at the want of respect evinced by his friend for conventional
rules. All college discipline, all college authorities, all university
traditions had been despised by Shand, who even in his dress had
departed as far from recognised customs and fashions among the men as
from the requisitions of the statutes and the milder requirements of the
dignitaries of the day. Now, though he could not pay his debts,--and
intended, indeed, to run away from them,--he was going to try his
fortune with a certain small capital which his father had agreed to give
him as his share of what there might be of the good things of the world
among the Shands generally. As Shand himself said of both of them, he
was about to go forth as a prodigal son, with a perfect assurance that,
should he come back empty-handed, no calf would be killed for him. But
he was an active man, with a dash of fun, and perhaps a sprinkling of
wit, quick and brave, to whom life was apparently a joke, and who
boasted of himself that, though he was very fond of beef and beer, he
could live on bread and water, if put to it, without complaining.
Caldigate almost feared that the man was a dangerous companion, but
still there was a certain fitness about him for the thing contemplated;
and, for such a venture, where could he find any other companion who
would be fit?

Dr. Shand, the father, was a physician enjoying a considerable amount
of provincial eminence in a small town in Essex. Here he had certainly
been a succesful man; for, with all the weight of such a family on his
back, he had managed to save some money. There had been small legacies
from other Shands, and trifles of portion had come to them from the
Potters, of whom Mrs. Shand had been one,--Shand and Potter having been
wholesale druggists in Smithfield. The young Shands had generally lived
a pleasant life; had gone to school,--the eldest son, as we have seen,
to the university also,--and had had governesses, and ponies to ride,
and had been great at dancing, and had shot arrows, and played
Badminton, and been subject to but little domestic discipline. They had
lived crowded together in a great red-brick house, plenteously, roughly,
quarrelling continually, but very fond of each other in their own way,
and were known throughout that side of the country as a happy family.
The girls had always gloves and shoes for dancing, and the boys had
enjoyed a considerable amount of shooting and hunting without owning
either guns or horses of their own. Now Dick was to go in quest of a
fortune, and all the girls were stitching shirts for him, and were as
happy as possible. Not a word was said about his debts, and no one threw
it in his teeth that he had failed to take a degree. It was known of the
Shands that they always made the best of everything.

When Caldigate got out of the railway carriage at Pollington, he was
still melancholy with the remembrance of all that he had done and all
that he had lost, and he expected to find something of the same feeling
at his friend's house. But before he had been there an hour he was
laughing with the girls as though such an enterprise as theirs was the
best joke in the world. And when a day and a night had passed, Mrs.
Shand was deep among his shirts and socks, and had already given him
much advice about flannel and soft soap. 'I know Maria would like to go
out with you,' said the youngest daughter on the third day, a girl of
twelve years old, who ought to have known better, and who, nevertheless,
knew more than she ought to have done.

'Indeed Maria would like nothing of the kind,' said the young lady in
question.

'Only, Mr. Caldigate, of course you would have to marry her.' Then the
child was cuffed, and Maria declared that the proposed arrangement would
suit neither her nor Mr. Caldigate in the least. The eldest daughter,
Harriet, was engaged to marry a young clergyman in the neighbourhood,
which event, however, was to be postponed till he had got a living; and
the second, Matilda, was under a cloud because she would persist in
being in love with Lieutenant Postlethwaite, of the Dragoons, whose
regiment was quartered in the town. Maria was the third. All these
family secrets were told to him quite openly as well as the fact that
Josh, the third son, was to become a farmer because he could not be got
to learn the multiplication table.

Between Pollington and London, Caldigate remained for six weeks, during
which time he fitted himself out, took his passage, and executed the
necessary deeds as to the estate. It might have been pleasant
enough,--this little interval before his voyage,--as the Shands, though
rough and coarse, were kind to him and good-humoured, had it not been
that a great trouble befell him through over conscientiousness as to a
certain matter. After what had passed at Babington House, it was
expedient that he should, before he started for New South Wales, give
some notice to his relatives there, so that Julia might know that
destiny did not intend her to become Mrs. Caldigate of Folking. Aunt
Polly had, no doubt, been too forward in that matter, and in wishing to
dispose of her daughter had put herself in the way of merited rebuke and
disappointment. It was, however, not the less necessary that she should
be told of the altered circumstances of her wished-for son-in-law. But,
had he been wise, he would so have written his letter that no answer
should reach him before he had left the shores of England. His
conscience, however, pinched him, and before he had even settled the day
on which he would start, he wrote to his aunt a long letter in which he
told her everything,--how he had disposed of his inheritance,--how he
had become so indebted to Davis as to have to seek a new fortune out of
England,--how he had bade farewell to Folking for ever,--and how
impossible it was under all these circumstances that he should aspire to
the hand of his cousin Julia.

It was as though a thunderbolt had fallen among them at Babington. Mr.
Babington himself was certainly not a clever man, but he knew enough of
his own position, as an owner of acres, to be very proud of it, and he
was affectionate enough towards his nephew to feel the full weight of
this terrible disruption It seemed to him that his brother-in-law,
Daniel Caldigate, was doing a very wicked thing, and he hurried across
the country, to Folking, that he might say so. 'You have not sense
enough to understand the matter,' said Daniel Caldigate. 'You have no
heart in your bowels if you can disinherit an only son,' said the big
squire. 'Never mind where I carry my heart,' said the smaller squire;
'but it is a pity you should carry so small an amount of brain.' No good
could be done by such a meeting as that, nor by the journey which aunt
Polly took to Pollington. The Caldigates, both father and son, were
gifted with too strong a will to be turned from their purpose by such
interference. But a great deal of confusion was occasioned; and aunt
Polly among the Shands was regarded as a very wonderful woman indeed.
'Oh, my son, my darling son!' she said, weeping on John Caldigate's
shoulder. Now John Caldigate was certainly not her son, in the usual
acceptation of the word, nor did Maria Shand believe that he was so
even in that limited sense in which a daughter's husband may be so
designated. It was altogether very disagreeable, and made our hero
almost resolve to get on board the ship a week before it started from
the Thames instead of going down to Plymouth and catching it at the last
moment. Of course it would have been necessary that the Babingtons
should know all about it sooner or later, but John very much regretted
that he had not delayed his letter till the day before his departure.

There is something jovial when you are young in preparing for a long
voyage and for totally altered circumstances in life, especially when
the surroundings are in themselves not melancholy. A mother weeping over
a banished child may be sad enough,--going as an exile when there is no
hope of a return, But here among the Shands, with whom sons and
daughters were plentiful, and with whom the feelings were of a useful
kind, and likely to wear well, rather than of a romantic nature, the
bustle, the purchasings, the arrangements, and the packings generally
had in them a pleasantness of activity with no disagreeable
accompaniments.

'I do hope you will wear them, Dick,' the mother said with something
like a sob in her voice; but the tenderness came not from the
approaching departure, but from her fear that the thick woollen drawers
on which she was re-sewing all the buttons, should be neglected,--after
Dick's usual fashion. 'Mr. Caldigate I hope you will see that he wears
them. He looks strong, but indeed he is not.' Our hero who had always
regarded his friend as a bull for strength of constitution generally,
promised that he would be attentive to Dick's drawers.

'You may be sure that I shall wear them,' said Dick; 'but the time will
come when I shall probably wear nothing else, so you had better make the
buttons firm.'

Everything was to be done with strict economy, but yet there was plenty
of money for purchases. There always is at such occasions. The quantity
of clothes got together seemed to be more than any two men could ever
wear; and among it all there were no dress-coats and no dress-trousers:
or, if either of them had such articles, they were smuggled. The two
young men were going out as miners, and took a delight in preparing
themselves to be rough. Caldigate was at first somewhat modest in
submitting his own belongings to the females of the establishment but
that feeling soon wore off, and the markings and mendings, and
buttonings and hemmings went on in a strictly impartial manner as though
he himself were a chick out of the same brood.

'What will you do?' said the doctor, 'if you spend your capital and make
nothing?'

'Work for wages,' said Dick. 'We shall have got, at any rate, enough
experience out of our money to be able to do that. Men are getting 10s.
a-day.'

'But you'd have to go on doing that always,' said the mother.

'Not at all. Of course it's a life of ups and downs. A man working for
wages can put half what he earns into a claim, so that when a thing does
come up trumps at last, he will have his chance. I have read a good deal
about it now. There is plenty to be got if a man only knows how to keep
it.'

'Drinking is the worst,' said the doctor.

'I think I can trust myself for that,' said Dick, whose hand at the
moment was on a bottle of whisky, and who had been by no means averse to
jollifications at Cambridge. 'A miner when he's at work should never
drink.'

'Nor when he's not at work, if he wants to keep what he earns.'

'I'm not going to take the pledge, or anything of that kind,' continued
the son, 'but I think I know enough of it all, not to fall into that
pit.' During this discussion, Caldigate sat silent, for he had already
had various conversations on this subject with his friend. He had
entertained some fears, which were not, perhaps, quite removed by Dick's
manly assurances.

A cabin had been taken for the joint use of the young men on board the
Goldfinder, a large steamer which was running at the time from London to
Melbourne, doing the voyage generally in about two months. But they were
going as second-class passengers and their accommodation therefore was
limited. Dick had insisted on this economy, which was hardly necessary
to Caldigate, and which was not absolutely pressed upon the other. But
Dick had insisted. 'Let us begin as we mean to go on,' he had said; 'of
course we've got to rough it. We shall come across something a good deal
harder than second-class fare before we have made our fortunes, and
worked probably with mates more uncouth than second-class passengers.'
It was impossible to oppose counsel such as this, and therefore
second-class tickets were taken on board the Goldfinder.

A terrible struggle was made during the last fortnight to prevent the
going of John Caldigate. Mr. Babington was so shocked that he did not
cease to stir himself. Allow a son to disinherit himself, merely because
he had fallen into the hands of a money-lending Jew before he had left
college! To have the whole condition of a property changed by such a
simple accident! It was shocking to him; and he moved himself in the
matter with much more energy than old Mr. Caldigate had expected from
him. He wrote heartrending letters to Folking, in spite of the hard
words which had been said to him there. He made a second journey to
Cambridge, and endeavoured to frighten Mr. Bolton. Descent of acres from
father to son was to him so holy a thing, that he was roused to
unexpected energies. He was so far successful that Mr. Daniel Caldigate
did write a long letter to his son, in which he offered to annul the
whole proceeding. 'Your uncle accuses me of injustice,' he said. 'I have
not been unjust. But there is no reason whatever why the arrangement
should stand. Even if the money has been paid to Davis I will bear that
loss rather than you should think that I have taken advantage of you in
your troubles.' But John Caldigate was too firm and too determined for
such retrogression. The money had been paid to Davis, and other monies
had been used in other directions. He was quite contented with the
bargain, and would certainly adhere to it.

Then came the last night before their departure; the evening before the
day on which they were to go from Pollington to London, and from London
to Plymouth. All the heavy packages, and all the clothes had, of course,
been put on board the Goldfinder in the London docks. The pleasant task
of preparation was at an end, and they were now to go forth upon their
hard labours. Caldigate had become so intimate with the family, that it
seemed as though a new life had sprung up for him, and that as he had
parted from all that he then had of a family at Folking, he was now to
break away from new ties under the doctor's roof. They had dined early,
and at ten o'clock there was what Mrs. Shand called a little bit of
supper. They were all of them high in heart, and very happy,--testifying
their affection to the departing ones by helping them to the nicest
bits, and by filling their tumblers the fullest. How it happened, no one
could have said, but it did happen that, before the evening was over,
Maria and Caldigate were together in a little room behind the front
parlour. What still remained of their luggage was collected there, and
this last visit had probably been made in order that the packages might
be once more counted.

'It does seem so odd that you should be going,' she said.

'It is so odd to me that I should ever have come.'

'We had always heard of you since Dick went to Cambridge.'

'I knew that there were so many of you, and that was all. Brothers never
talk of their sisters, I suppose. But I seem to know you now so well!
You have been so kind to me!'

'Because you are Dick's friend.'

'I didn't suppose that it was anything else.'

'That's not nice of you, Mr. Caldigate. You know that we are all very
fond of you. We shall be so anxious to hear. You will be good to him,
won't you?'

'And he to me, I hope.'

'I think you are steadier than he is, and can do more for him than he
can for you. I wonder, shall we ever see each other again, Mr.
Caldigate?'

'Why not?'

'New South Wales is so far, and you will both marry there, and then you
will not want to come back. I hope I may live to see dear Dick again
some day.'

'But only Dick?'

'And you too, if you would care about it.'

'Of course I should care about it,' he said. And as he said so, of
course he put his arm round her waist and kissed her. It did not mean
much. She did not think it meant much. But it gave a little colouring of
romance to that special moment of her life. He, when he went up to his
bed, declared to himself that it meant nothing at all. He still had
those large eyes clear before him, and was still fixed in his resolution
to come back for them when some undefined point of his life should have
passed by.

'Now,' said Dick Shand, as they were seated together in a third-class
railway carriage on the following morning, 'now I feel that I am
beginning life.'

'With proper resolutions, I hope, as to honesty, sobriety, and
industry.'

'With a fixed determination to make a fortune, and come back, and be
_facile princeps_ among all the Shands. I have already made up my mind
as to the sum I will give each of the girls, and the way I will start
the two younger boys in business. In the meantime let us light a pipe.'



Chapter V

The Goldfinder



There is no peculiar life more thoroughly apart from life in general,
more unlike our usual life, more completely a life of itself, governed
by its own rules and having its own roughnesses and amenities, than life
on board ship. What tender friendship it produces, and what bitter
enmities! How completely the society has formed itself into separate
sets after the three or four first days! How thoroughly it is
acknowledged that this is the aristocratic set, and that the plebeian!
How determined are the aristocrats to admit no intrusion, and how
anxious are the plebeians to intrude! Then there arises the great
demagogue, who heads a party, having probably been disappointed in early
life,--that is, in his first endeavours on board the ship. And the women
have to acknowledge all their weaknesses, and to exercise all their
strength. It is a bad time for them on board ship if they cannot secure
the attention of the men,--as it is in the other world; but in order
that they may secure it, they assume indifference. They assume
indifference, but are hard at work with their usual weapons. The men can
do very well by themselves. For them there is drinking, smoking, cards,
and various games; but the potency of female spells soon works upon
them, and all who are worth anything are more or less in love by the end
of the first week. Of course it must all come to an end when the port
is reached. That is understood, though there may sometimes be mistakes.
Most pathetic secrets are told with the consciousness that they will be
forgotten as soon as the ship is left. And there is the whole day for
these occupations. No work is required from any one. The lawyer does not
go to his court, nor the merchant to his desk. Pater-familias receives
no bills; mater-familias orders no dinners. The daughter has no
household linen to disturb her. The son is never recalled to his books.
There is no parliament, no municipality, no vestry. There are neither
rates nor taxes nor rents to be paid. The government is the softest
despotism under which subjects were ever allowed to do almost just as
they please. That the captain has a power is known, but hardly felt. He
smiles on all, is responsible for everything, really rules the world
submitted to him, from the setting of the sails down to the frying of
the chops, and makes one fancy that there must be something wrong with
men on shore because first-class nations cannot be governed like
first-class ships.

The Goldfinder had on board her over a hundred first-class passengers,
and nearly as many of the second class. The life among them was much of
the same kind, though in the second class there was less of idleness,
less of pleasure, and something more of an attempt to continue the
ordinary industry of life. The women worked more and the men read more
than their richer neighbours. But the love-making, and the fashion, and
the mutiny against the fashion, were the same in one set as in the
other. Our friends were at first subjected to an inconvenience which is
always felt in such a position. They were known to have had saloon
rather than second-class antecedents. Everybody had heard that they had
been at Cambridge, and therefore they were at first avoided. And as they
themselves were determined not to seek associates among their more
aristocratic neighbours, they were left to themselves and solitary for
some few days. But this was a condition not at all suited to Dick
Shand's temperament, and it was not long before he had made both male
and female acquaintances.

'Have you observed that woman in the brown straw hat?' Dick said to
Caldigate, one morning, as they were leaning together on the forepart of
the vessel against one of the pens in which the fowls were kept. They
were both dressed according to the parts they were acting, and which
they intended to act, as second-class passengers and future working
miners. Any one knowing in such matters would have seen that they were
over-dressed; for the real miner, when he is away from his work, puts on
his best clothes, and endeavours to look as little rough as possible.
And all this had no doubt been seen and felt, and discounted among our
friends' fellow-passengers.

'I have seen her every day, of course,' said Caldigate, 'and have been
looking at her for the last half hour.'

'She is looking at us now.'

'She seems to me to be very attentive to the stocking she is mending.'

'Just a woman's wiles. At this moment she can't hear us, but she knows
pretty nearly what we are saying by the way our lips are going. Have you
spoken to her?'

'I did say a word or two to her yesterday.'

'What did she say?'

'I don't recollect especially. She struck me as talking better than her
gown, if you know what I mean.'

'She talks a great deal better than her gown,' said Dick. 'I don't quite
know what to make of her. She says that she is going out to earn her
bread; but when I asked her how, she either couldn't or wouldn't answer
me. She is a mystery, and mysteries are always worth unravelling. I
shall go to work and unravel her.'

At that moment the female of whom they were speaking got up from her
seat on one of the spars which was bound upon the deck, folded up her
work, and walked away. She was a remarkable woman, and certainly looked
to be better than her gown, which was old and common enough. Caldigate
had observed her frequently, and had been much struck by the word or two
she had spoken to him on the preceding day. 'I should like ship-life
well enough,' she had said, in answer to some ordinary question, 'if it
led to nothing else.'

'You would not remain here for ever?'

'Certainly, if I could. There is plenty to eat, and a bed to sleep on,
and no one to be afraid of. And though nobody knows me, everybody knows
enough of me not to think that I ought to be taken to a police office
because I have not gloves to my hands.'

'Don't you think it wearisome?' he had asked.

'Everything is wearisome; but here I have a proud feeling of having paid
my way. To have settled in advance for your dinner for six weeks to come
is a magnificent thing. If I get too tired of it I can throw myself
overboard. You can't even do that in London without the police being
down upon you. The only horror to me here is that there will so soon be
an end to it.'

At that time he had not even heard her name, or known whether she were
alone or joined to others. Then he had inquired, and a female
fellow-passenger had informed him that she was a Mrs. Smith,--that she
had seen better days, but had been married to a ne'er-do-well husband,
who had drank himself to death within a year of their marriage, and that
she was now going out to the colony, probably,--so the old lady said who
was the informant,--in search of a second husband. She was to some
extent, the old lady said, in charge of a distant relative, who was
then on board, with a respectable husband and children, and who was very
much ashamed of her poor connection. So much John Caldigate had heard.

Though he had heard this he did not feel inclined to tell it all to Dick
Shand. Dick had professed his intention of unravelling the mystery, but
Caldigate almost thought that he would like to unravel it himself. The
woman was so constantly alone! And then, though she was ill-dressed,
untidy, almost unkempt on occasions, still, through it all, there was
something attractive about her. There was a brightness in her eye, and a
courage about her mouth, which had made him think that, in spite of her
appearance, she would be worth his attention--just for the voyage. When
he had been speaking to herself they had been on the deck together, and
it had been dusk and he had not been able to look her in the face; but
while Shand had been speaking to him he had observed that she was very
comely. And this was the more remarkable because it seemed to him to be
so evident that she made the worst rather than the best of herself. She
was quite a young woman;--probably, he thought, not more than three or
four and twenty; and she was there, with many young men round her, and
yet she made no effort to attract attention. When his eye had fallen
upon her she had generally been quite alone, doing some piece of coarse
and ordinary work.

'I have had another conversation with her,' said Shand to him that
night.

'Have you unravelled the mystery?'

'Not quite; but I have got the fact that there is a mystery. She told me
that you and I and she herself ought not to be here. When I asked her
why, she said that you and I ought to be gentlemen and that she ought to
be a lady. I told her that you and I were gentlemen, in spite of our
trousers. "Ah," she said, "there comes the difference; I'm not a lady
any longer!" When I contradicted her she snubbed me, and said that I
hadn't seen enough of the world to know anything about it. But I'll have
it all out of her before I've done.'

For some days after that Caldigate kept himself aloof from Mrs. Smith,
not at all because he had ceased to notice her or to think about her,
but from a feeling of dislike to exhibit rivalry with his friend. Shand
was making himself very particular, and he thought that Shand was a fool
for his pains. He was becoming angry with Shand, and had serious
thoughts of speaking to him with solemn severity. What could such a
woman be to him? But at the bottom of all this there was something akin
to jealousy. The woman was good-looking, and certainly clever, and was
very interesting. Shand, for two or three evenings running, related his
success; how Mrs. Smith had communicated to him the fact that she
utterly despised those Cromptons, who were distant cousins of her late
husband's, and with whom she had come on board; how she preferred to be
alone to having aught to do with them; how she had one or two books with
her, and passed some hours in reading; and how she was poor, very poor,
but still had something on which to live for a few weeks after landing.
But Caldigate fancied that there must be a betrayal of trust in these
revelations, and though he was in truth interested about the woman, did
not give much encouragement to his friend.

'Upon my word,' he said, 'I don't seem to care so very much about Mrs.
Smith's affairs.'

'I do,' said Shand, who was thick-skinned and irrepressible. 'I declared
my intention of unravelling the mystery, and I mean to do it.'

'I hope you are not too inquisitive?'

'Of course she likes to have some one to whom she can talk. And what can
people talk about on board ship except themselves? A woman who has a
mystery always likes to have it unravelled. What else is the good of a
mystery?'

He was thick-skinned and irrepressible, but Caldigate endeavoured to
show his displeasure. He felt that the poor woman was in coarse hands;
and he thought that, had matters gone otherwise, he might have accepted,
in a more delicate manner, so much confidence as she chose to vouchsafe.

So it was when they had been a fortnight at sea. They had left home in
mid-winter; but now they were in the tropics, near the line, and
everything was sultry, sleepy, and warm. Flying-fishes were jumping from
the waves on to the deck, and when the dusk of night was come, the
passengers would stand by the hour together watching the phosphorus on
the water. The Southern Cross had shown itself plainly, and possessed
the heavens in conjunction with the Bear. The thick woollen drawers
which had been so carefully prepared, were no longer in use, and men
were going about in light pantaloons and linen jackets,--those on the
quarter-deck at first beautifully clean and white, while our friends of
the second cabin were less careful. The women, too, had got quit of
their wraps, and lounged about the deck in light attire. During the
bright hours of the day the aristocrats, in the stern, were shrouded
from the sun by a delightful awning; but, forward, the passengers sought
the shade of the loose idle sails, or screened themselves from the
fierce rays as best they might among the hatchways and woodwork But it
was when the burning sun had hidden himself, when the short twilight had
disappeared, and the heavens were alive and alight with stars, that all
the world of the ship would be crowded on the upper deck. There they
would remain, long after the lamps below had been extinguished, some of
them sleeping through the whole night in the comparative coolness of the
air. But it was from eight, when tea would be over, till midnight, that
the hum of voices would be thickest, and the tread of those who walked
for their exercise the most frequent.

At such times Caldigate would be often alone; for though he had made
acquaintances, and had become indeed intimate with some of those around
him, he had never thrust himself into the life of the ship as Shand had
done. Charades were acted in the second cabin, in which Shand always
took part,--and there were penny readings, at which Shand was often the
reader. And he smoked much and drank somewhat with those who smoked and
drank. The awe at first inspired by his university superiority and
supposed rank in the world had faded almost into nothing, but by
Caldigate, unconsciously, much of this had been preserved. I am not sure
that he did not envy his friend, but at any rate he stood aloof. And, in
regard to Mrs. Smith, when he saw her walking one evening with Shand in
the sweetly dim light of the evening, with her hand upon Shand's arm, he
made up his mind that he would think no more about her.

They had been at sea just a fortnight when this happened. And in about a
quarter of an hour after this resolve had been formed Mrs. Smith was
standing by him and talking to him. A ball was being held on the
quarter-deck, or rather, as there was in truth no quarter-deck to the
Goldfinder, on that clean, large, luxurious expanse devoted to the
aristocracy in the after-part of the vessel. From among the second-class
passengers, two fiddlers and a flute player had been procured, who
formed the band. At sea you have always to look for your musicians among
the second-class passengers. And now under the awning young and old were
standing up, and making themselves happy beneath the starlight and the
glimmer of the dozen ship-lamps which had been hung around. On board
ship there are many sources of joy of which the land knows nothing. You
may flirt and dance at sixty; and if you are awkward in the turn of a
valse, you may put it down to the motion of the ship. You need wear no
gloves, and may drink your soda-and-brandy without being ashamed of it.

It was not for John Caldigate to join the mazes of that dance, though he
would have liked it well, and was well fitted by skill and taste for
such exercise. But the ground was hallowed on which they trod, and
forbidden to him; and though there was probably not a girl or a dancing
married woman there who would not have been proud to stand up with Mr.
Caldigate of Folking, there was not one who would have dared to take the
hand of a second-class passenger. So he stood, just within his own
boundary, and looked and longed. Then there was a voice in his ear. 'Do
you dance, Mr. Caldigate?'

It was a very pleasant voice, low, but distinct and silvery, infinitely
better again than the gown; a voice so distinct and well-managed that it
would have been noticed for its peculiar sweetness if coming from any
high-bred lady. He turned round and found her face close to his. Why had
she come to speak to him when she must have perceived that he had
intentionally avoided her.

'I used to be very fond of dancing,' he said, 'but it is one of the
things that have gone away.'

'I, too, was fond of dancing; but, as you say, it has gone away. It will
come back to you, in half-a-dozen years, perhaps. It can never come back
to me. Things do come back to men.'

'Why more than to women?'

'You have a resurrection;--I mean here upon earth. We never have. Though
we live as long as you, the pleasure-seeking years of our lives are much
shorter. We burst out into full flowering early in our spring, but long
before the summer is over, we are no more than huddled leaves and thick
stalks.'

'Are you a thick stalk, Mrs. Smith?'

'Unfortunately, not. My flowers are gone while my stalk is still thin
and sensitive. And then women can't recuperate.'

'I don't quite know what that means.'

'Yes, you do. It is good English enough even for Cambridge by this time.
If you had made a false step, got into debt and ran away, or mistaken
another man's wife for your own, or disappeared altogether under a cloud
for a while, you could retrieve your honour, and, sinking at twenty-five
or thirty, could come up from out of the waters at thirty-five as
capable of enjoyment and almost as fresh as ever. But a woman does not
bear submersion. She is draggled ever afterwards. She must hide
everything by a life of lies, or she will get no admittance anywhere.
The man is rather the better liked because he has sown his wild oats
broadly. Of all these ladies dancing there, which dances the best? There
is not one who really knows how to dance.'



Chapter VI

Mrs. Smith



She had changed the conversation so suddenly, rushing off from that
great question as to the condition of women generally to the very
unimportant matter of the dancing powers of the ladies who were
manoeuvring before them, that Caldigate hardly knew how to travel with
her so quickly. 'They all dance well enough for ship dancing,' he
replied; 'but as to what you were saying about women----'

'No, Mr. Caldigate; they don't dance well enough for ship dancing.
Dancing, wherever it be done, should be graceful. A woman may at any
rate move her feet in accordance with time, and she need not skip, nor
prance, nor jump, even on board ship. Look at that stout lady.'

'Mrs. Callander?'

Everybody by this time knew everybody's name.

'If she is Mrs. Callander?'

Mrs. Smith, no doubt, knew very well that it was Mrs. Callander.

'Does not your ear catch separately the thud of her footfall every time
she comes to the ground?'

'She is fat, fair, and forty.'

'Fat enough;--and what she lacks in fairness may be added on to the
forty; but if she were less ambitious and had a glimmer of taste, she
might do better than that. You see that girl with the green scarf round
her? She is young and good-looking. Why should she spring about like a
bear on a hot iron?'

'You should go and teach them.'

'It is just what I should like; only they would not be taught; and I
should be stern, and tell them the truth.'

'Why don't you go and dance with them yourself?'

'I!'

'Why not? There is one second-class lady there?' This was true. For
though none of the men would have been admitted from the inferior rank
to join the superior, the rule of demarcation had so far been broken
that a pretty girl who was known to some of the first-class passengers
had been invited to come over the line and join the amusements of the
evening. 'She dances about as well as any of them.'

'If you were among them would you dare to come out and ask me to join
them? That is a question which you won't even dare to answer.'

'It is a little personal.'

'"No," you ought to say. "I could not do that because your clothes are
so poor, and because of your ragged old hat, and I am not quite sure
that your shoes are fit to be seen." Is not that what you would say, if
you said what you thought?'

'Perhaps it is.'

'And if you said all that you thought, perhaps you would remind me that
a woman of whom nobody knows anything is always held to be disreputable.
That girl, no doubt, has her decent belongings. I have nobody.'

'You have your friends on board.'

'No, I have not. I have not a single friend on board. Those Cromptons
were very unwillingly persuaded to take a sort of interest in me, though
they really know nothing about me. And I have already lost any good
which might come from their protection. She told me yesterday, that I
ought not to walk about with Mr. Shand.'

'And what did you say?'

'Of course I told her to mind her own business. I had no alternative. A
woman has to show a little spirit or she will be trodden absolutely into
the dirt. It was something to have a woman to speak to, even though I
had not a thought in common with her;--though she was to my feeling as
inferior to myself as I no doubt am thought to be by that fat prancing
woman to herself. Even Mrs. Crompton's countenance was of value. But if
I had yielded she would have taken it out in tyranny. So now we don't
speak.'

'That is a pity.'

'It is a pity. You watch them all and see how they look at me,--the
women, I mean. They know that Mr. Shand speaks to me, and that you and
Mr. Shand are the two gentlemen we have among us. There are, no doubt, a
dozen of them watching me now, somewhere, and denouncing me for the
impropriety of my behaviour.'

'Is it improper?'

'What do you think?'

'Why may we not talk as well as others?'

'Exactly. But there are people who are tabooed. Look at that Miss Green
and the ship doctor.' At that moment the ship's doctor and the young
lady in question came close to them in the dance. 'There is no harm in
Miss Green talking by the hour together with the doctor, because she is
comfortably placed. She has got an old father and mother on board who
don't look after her, and everything is respectable. But if I show any
of the same propensities I ought almost to be put into irons.'

'Has anybody else been harsh to you?'

'The Captain has been making inquiries,--no doubt with the idea that he
may at last be driven to harsh measures. Have you got a sister?'

'No.'

'Or a mother?'

'No.'

'Or a housemaid?'

'Not even a housemaid. I have no female belongings whatever.'

'Don't you know that if you had a sister, and a mother, and a housemaid,
your mother would quite expect that your sister should in time have a
lover, but that she would be horrified at the idea of the housemaid
having a follower?'

'I did not know that. I thought housemaids got married sometimes.'

'Human nature is stronger than tyranny.'

'But what does all this mean? You are not a housemaid, and you have not
got a mistress?'

'Not exactly. But at present;--if I say my outward woman you'll know
what I mean perhaps.'

'I think I shall.'

'Well; my present outward woman stands to me in lieu of the housemaid's
broom, and the united authority of the Captain and Mrs. Crompton make up
the mistress between them. And the worst of it all is, that though I
have to endure the tyranny, I have not got the follower. It is as hard
upon Mr. Shand as it is upon me.'

'Shand, I suppose, can take care of himself.'

'No doubt;--and so in real truth can I. I can stand apart and defy them
all; and as I look at them looking at me, and almost know with what
words they are maligning me, I can tell myself that they are beneath me,
and that I care nothing for them. I shall do nothing which will enable
any one to interfere with me. But it seems hard that all this should be
so because I am a widow,--and because I am alone,--and because I am
poorly clothed.'

As she said this there were tears in her eyes, true ones, and something
of the sound of a broken sob in her voice. And Caldigate was moved. The
woman's condition was to be pitied, whether it had been produced with or
without fault on her own part. To be alone is always sad,--even for a
man; but for a woman, and for a young woman, it is doubly melancholy. Of
a sudden the dancing was done and the lamps were taken away.

'If you do not want to go to bed,' he said, 'let us take a turn.'

'I never go to bed. I mean here, on board ship. I linger up on deck,
half hiding myself about the place, till I see some quartermaster eying
me suspiciously and then I creep down into the little hole which I
occupy with three of Mrs. Crompton's children and then I cry myself to
sleep. But I don't call that going to bed.'

'Take a turn now.'

'I shall feel like the housemaid talking to her follower through the
area-gate. But she is brave, and why should I be a coward?' Then she put
her hand upon his arm. 'And you,' she said, 'why are not you dancing in
the other part of the ship with Mrs. Callander and Miss Green, instead
of picking your way among the hencoops here with me?'

'This suited my pocket best,--and my future prospects.'

'You are making a delightful experiment in roughing it,--as people eat
pic-nic dinners out in the woods occasionally, so that there may be a
break in the monotony of chairs and tables.'

While Shand had been unravelling her mystery, she, perhaps, had been
more successful in unravelling his.

'We intend to be miners.'

'And to return home before long with some vast treasure. I hope you may
be successful.'

'You seem to doubt it.'

'Of course it is doubtful. If not, the thing would be common and hardly
worth the doing. Will Mr. Shand be very persistent as a working miner?'

'I hope so.'

'He seems to me to have great gifts of idleness, which on board ship are
a blessing. How I do envy men when I see them smoking! It seems to me
that nothing is wanting to them. Women have their needlework; but though
they hate it less than idleness, they do hate it. But you really like
your tobacco.'

'I don't like being idle. I read a good deal. Do you read?'

'I have but few books here. I have read more perhaps than most young
women of my age. I came away in such a hurry that I have almost nothing
with me.'

'Can I lend you books?'

'If you will. I will promise to take care of them.'

'I have "The Heartbroken One," by Spratt, you know. It is very absurd,
but full of life from beginning to end. All that Spratt writes is very
lively.'

'I don't think I care for Spratt. He may be lively, but he's not
life-like.'

'And "Michael Bamfold." It is hard work, perhaps but very thoughtful, if
you can digest that sort of thing.'

'I hate thought.'

'What do you say to Miss Bouverie's last;--"Ridden to a Standstill;" a
little loud, perhaps, but very interesting? Or "Green Grow the Rushes
O," by Mrs. Tremaine? None of Mrs. Tremaine's people do anything that
anybody would do, but they all talk well.'

'I hate novels written by women. Their girls are so unlovely, and their
men such absurdly fine fellows!'

'I have William Coxe's "Lock picked at Last," of which I will defy you
to find the secret till you have got to the end of it.'

'I am a great deal too impatient.'

'And Thompson's "Four Marquises." That won't give you any trouble,
because you will know it all from the first chapter.'

'And never have a moment of excitement from the beginning to the end. I
don't think I care very much for novels. Have you nothing else?'

Caldigate had many other books, a Shakespeare, some lighter poetry, and
sundry heavier works of which he did not wish specially to speak, lest
he should seem to be boasting of his own literary taste; but at last it
was settled that on the next morning he should supply her with what
choice he had among the poets. Then at about midnight they parted, and
Caldigate, as he found his way down to his cabin, saw the quartermaster
with his eye fixed upon Mrs. Smith. There is no so stern guardian of
morality and propriety as your old quartermaster on board a first-class
ship.

'You have been having a grand time of it with Mrs. Smith,' said Shand as
soon as Caldigate was in their cabin.

'Pretty well,--as far as fine times go on board ship. Is there anything
against it?'

'Oh, no, not that I know of. I started the hare; if you choose to run it
I have no right to complain, I suppose.'

'I don't know anything about the hare, but you certainly have no right
to complain because I have been talking to Mrs. Smith;--unless indeed
you tell me that you are going to make her Mrs. Shand.'

'You are much more likely to make her Mrs. Caldigate.'

'I don't know that I should have any objection;--that is, if I wanted
a wife. She is good-looking, clever, well-educated, and would be
well-mannered were it not that she bristles up against the ill-usage of
the world too roughly.'

'I didn't know it had gone so far as that,' said Shand, angrily.

'Nor did I, till you suggested it to me. Now I think I'll go to sleep,
if you please, and dream about it.'

He did not go to sleep, but lay awake half thinking and half dreaming.
He certainly liked Mrs. Smith; but then, as he had begun to find out of
himself he liked women's society generally. He was almost jealous of the
doctor, because the doctor was allowed to talk to Miss Green and waltz
with Miss Green, whereas he could not approach her. Then he thought of
Maria Shand and that kiss in the little back parlour,--the kiss which
had not meant much, but which had meant something; and then of Julia
Babington, to whom he was not quite sure that he ought not to feel
himself engaged. But the face that was clearest to him of all,--and
which became the dearer the nearer that he approached to a state of
dozing,--was that of Hester Bolton, whose voice he had hardly heard, who
had barely spoken to him;--the tips of whose fingers he had only just
touched. If there was any one thing fixed on his mind it was that, as
soon as he had put together a large lump of gold, he would go back to
Cambridge and win Hester Bolton to be his wife. But yet what a singular
woman was this Mrs. Smith! As to marrying her, that of course had been a
joke produced by the petulance of his snoring friend. He began to
dislike Shand, because he did snore so loudly, and drank so much bottled
ale, and smelt so strongly of cavendish tobacco. Mrs. Smith was at any
rate much too good for Shand. Surely she must have been a lady, or her
voice would not have been sweet and silvery? And though she did bristle
roughly against the ill-usage of the world, and say strong things, she
was never absolutely indelicate or even loud. And she was certainly very
interesting. How did it come to pass that she was so completely alone,
so poor, so unfriended and yet possessed of such gifts? There certainly
was a mystery, and it would certainly be his fate, and not the fate of
Dick Shand, to unravel it. The puzzle was much too delicate and too
intricate for Dick Shand's rough hands. Then, giving his last waking
thoughts for a moment to Hester Bolton, he went to sleep in spite of the
snoring.

On the next morning, as soon as he was out of bed, he opened a small
portmanteau in which he had put up some volumes the day before he left
Pollington and to which he had not yet had recourse since the beginning
of the voyage. From these he would select one or two for the use of his
new friend. So he dragged out the valise from beneath the berth, while
Shand abused him for the disturbance he made. On the top, lying on the
other volumes, which were as he had placed them, was a little book,
prettily bound, by no means new, which he was sure had never been placed
there by himself. He took it up, and, standing in the centre of the
cabin, between the light of the porthole and Dick's bed, he examined it.
It was a copy of Thomson's 'Seasons', and on the flyleaf was written in
a girl's hand the name of its late owner,--Maria Shand. The truth
flashed upon him at once. She must have gone down on that last night
after he was in bed, and thus have made her little offering in silence,
knowing that it would be hidden from him till he was far away from her.

'What book is that?' said Shand suddenly, emerging with his head and
shoulders from the low berth.

'A book of mine,' said Caldigate, disconcerted for the moment.

'What are you going to do with it?'

'I am looking for something to lend to Mrs. Smith.'

'That is Molly's Thomson's "Seasons,"' said the brother, remembering,
as we are so apt to remember the old thing that had met his eye so often
in the old house. 'Where did you get it?'

'I didn't steal it, Dick.'

'I don't suppose you did; but I'm sure it's the book I say.'

'No doubt it is. If you think it is in bad hands, shall I give it back
to you?'

'I don't want it. If she gave it you, she was a fool for her pains.'

'I don't see that.'

'I would rather, at any rate, that you would not lend a book with my
sister's name in it to Mrs. Smith.'

'I was not thinking of doing so. She wants a Shakespeare that I have got
here, and a volume of Tennyson.' Then Dick retreated back into his
berth, and snored again, while Caldigate dressed himself. When that
operation was completed,--which, including his lavations, occupied about
five minutes,--he went up on the deck with the books for Mrs. Smith in
his hand, and with Thomson's 'Seasons' in his pocket. So the poor girl
had absolutely stolen down-stairs in the middle of the cold night, and
had opened the case and re-fastened it, in order that he, when in
strange lands, might find himself in possession of something that had
been hers!

He had not been alone a minute or two, and was looking about to see if
Mrs. Smith was there, when he was accosted by the Captain. The Captain
was a pleasant-looking, handsome man, about forty-five years of age, who
had the good word of almost everybody on board, but who had not before
spoken specially to Caldigate.

'Good morning, Mr. Caldigate. I hope you find yourself fairly
comfortable where you are.'

'Pretty well, thank you, Captain.'

'If there is anything I can do.'

'We have all that we have a right to expect.'

'I wish, Mr. Caldigate, I could invite you and your friends to come
astern among us sometimes, but it would be contrary to rule.'

'I can quite understand that, Captain.'

'You are doing a bit of roughing,--no doubt for the sake of experience.
If you only knew the sort of roughing I've had in my time!'

'I dare say.'

'Salt pork and hard biscuit, and only half enough of that. You find
yourself among some queer fellow-passengers I dare say, Mr. Caldigate.'

'Everybody is very civil.'

'They're sure to be that to a gentleman. But one has to be careful. The
women are the most dangerous.' Then the Captain laughed, as though it
had only been a joke,--this allusion to the women. But Caldigate knew
that there was more than a joke in it. The Captain had intended to warn
him against Mrs. Smith.



Chapter VII

The Three Attempts



Something more than a month had gone by, and John Caldigate and Mrs.
Smith were very close companions. This had not been effected without
considerable opposition, partly on the part of Shand, and partly by the
ship's inhabitants generally. The inhabitants of the ship were inimical
to Mrs. Smith. She was a woman who had no friends; and the very female
who had first appeared as a friend was now the readiest to say hard
things of her. And Caldigate was a handsome well-mannered young man. By
this time all the ladies in the first-class knew very well who he was,
and some of them had spoken to him. On one or two occasions the stern
law of the vessel had been broken; and he had been absolutely invited
to sit on those august after-benches. He was known to be a gentleman,
and believed, on the evidence of Dick Shand, to be possessed of
considerable means. It was therefore a thing horrible to all of them,
and particularly to Miss Green, that he should allow himself to be
enticed into difficulties by such a creature as that Mrs. Smith. Miss
Green had already been a little cold to the doctor in consequence of a
pleasant half-hour spent by her in Caldigate's company, as they looked
over the side of the vessel at the flying-fish. Mrs. Callander had been
with them, and everything had been quite proper. But what a pity it was
that he should devote so much of his time to that woman! 'Fancy his
condition if he should be induced to marry her!' said Miss Green,
holding up her hands in horror. The idea was so terrible that Mrs.
Callander declared that she would speak to him. 'Nobody ever disliked
interfering so much as I do,' said Mrs. Callander; 'but sometimes a word
from a lady will go so far with a young man!' Mrs. Callander was a most
respectable woman, whose father had begun life as a cattle drover in the
colonies, but had succeeded in amassing a considerable fortune. 'Oh, I
do wish that something may be done to save him!' said Miss Green.

Among the second-class passengers the same feeling existed quite as
strongly. The woman herself had not only been able but had been foolish
enough to show that in spite of her gown she considered herself superior
to them all. When it was found that she was, in truth, handsome to look
upon,--that her words were soft and well chosen,--that she could sit
apart and read,--and that she could trample upon Mrs. Crompton in her
scorn,--then, for a while, there were some who made little efforts to
get into her good graces. She might even have made an ally of
good-natured Mrs. Bones, the wife of the butcher who was going out with
his large family to try his fortune at Melbourne. Mrs. Bones had been
injured, after some ship fashion, by Mrs. Crompton, and would have made
herself pleasant. But Mrs. Smith had despised them all, and had shown
her contempt, and was now as deeply suspected by Mrs. Bones as by Mrs.
Crompton or Mrs. Callander.

But of all the foes to this intimacy Dick Shand was for a time the most
bitter and the most determined No doubt this arose at first from
jealousy. He had declared his purpose of unravelling the mystery; but
the task had been taken out of his hands, and the unravelling was being
done by another. And the more that the woman was abused, and the more
intent were all the people in regard to her wicked determination to be
intimate with Caldigate, the more interesting she became. Dick, who was
himself the very imp of imprudence,--who had never been deterred from
doing anything he fancied by any glimmer of control,--would have been
delighted to be the hero of all the little stories that were being told.
But as that morsel of bread had been taken, as it were, from between his
very teeth by the unjustifiable interference of his friend, he had
become more alive than any one else to the danger of the whole
proceeding. He acknowledged to the Captain that his friend was making a
fool of himself; and, though he was a little afraid of Caldigate, he
resolved upon interfering.

'Don't you think you are making an ass of yourself about this woman?' he
said.

'I daresay I am.'

'Well!'

'All the wise men, from David downwards, have made asses of themselves
about women; and why should I be wiser than the rest?'

'That's nonsense, you know.'

'Very likely.'

'I am trying to talk to you in earnest.'

'You make such a failure of it, old boy, that I am compelled to talk
nonsense in return. The idea of your preaching! Here I am with nothing
special to do, and I like to amuse myself. Ought not that to be enough
for you?'

'But what is to be the end of it?' Dick Shand asked, very solemnly.

'How can I tell? But the absurdity is that such a man as you should talk
about the end of anything. Did you ever look before you leaped in your
life?'

'We are to be together, you know, and it won't do for us to be hampered
with that woman.'

'Won't it? Then let me tell you that, if I choose to hamper myself with
that woman, or with a whole harem of women, and am not deterred by any
consideration for myself, I certainly shall not be deterred by any
consideration for you. Do you understand me?'

'That is not being a true partner,' said Shand.

'I'm quite sure of this,--that I'm likely to be as true as you are. I'm
not aware that I have entered into any terms with you by which I have
bound myself to any special mode of living. I have left England, as I
fancy you have done also, because I desired more conventional freedom
than one can find among the folk at home. And now, on the first outset,
I am to be cautioned and threatened by you because I have made
acquaintance with a young woman. Of all the moral pastors and masters
that one might come across in the world, you, Dick Shand, appear to me
to be the most absurd. But you are so far right as this, that if my
conduct is shocking to you, you had better leave me to my wickedness.'

'You are always so d---- upsetting,' said Dick, 'that no one can speak
to you.' Then Dick turned away, and there was nothing more said about
Mrs. Smith on that occasion.

The next to try her hand was Mrs. Callander. By this time the passengers
had become familiar with the ship, and knew what they might and what
they might not do. The second-class passengers were not often found
intruding across the bar, but the first-class frequently made visits to
their friends amidships. In this way Mrs. Callander had become
acquainted with our two gold-seekers, and often found herself in
conversation with one or the other. Even Miss Green, as has been stated
before, would come and gaze upon the waves from the inferior part of the
deck.

'What a very nice voyage we are having, Mr. Caldigate,' Mrs. Callander
said one afternoon.

'Yes, indeed. It is getting a little cold now, but we shall enjoy that
after all the heat.'

'Quite so; only I suppose it will be very cold when we get quite south.
You still find yourself tolerably comfortable.'

'I shall be glad to have it over,' said Caldigate, who had in truth
become disgusted with Dick's snoring.

'I daresay,--I am sure we shall. My young people are getting very tired
of it. Children, when they are accustomed to every comfort on shore, of
course feel it grievously. I suppose you are rather crowded?'

'Of course we are crowded. One can't have a twenty-foot square room on
board ship.'

'No, indeed. But then you are with your friend, and that is much
pleasanter than a stranger.'

'That would depend on whether the stranger snored, Mrs. Callander.'

'Don't talk of snoring, Mr. Caldigate. If you only heard Mr. Callander!
But, as I was saying, you must have some very queer characters down
there.' She had not been saying anything of the kind, but she found a
difficulty in introducing her subject.

'Take them altogether, they are a very decent, pleasant, well-mannered
set of people, and all of them in earnest about their future lives.'

'Poor creatures! But I dare say they're very good.' Then she paused a
moment, and looked into his face. She had undertaken a duty, and she was
not the woman to shrink from it. So she told herself at that moment. And
yet she was very much afraid of him as she saw the squareness of his
forehead, and the set of his mouth. And there was a frown across his
brow, as though he were preparing himself to fight. 'You must have found
it hard to accommodate yourselves to them, Mr. Caldigate?'

'Not at all.'

'Of course we all know that you are a gentleman.'

'I am much obliged to you; but I do not know any word that requires a
definition so much as that. I am going to work hard to earn my bread;
and I suppose these people are going to do the same.'

'There always will be some danger in such society,' said Mrs. Callander.

'I hope I may escape any great evil.'

'I hope so too, Mr. Caldigate. You probably have had a long roll of
ancestors before you?'

'We all have that;--back to Adam.'

'Ah! but I mean a family roll, of which you ought to be proud;--all
ladies and gentlemen.'

'Upon my word I don't know.'

'So I hear, and I have no doubt it is true.' Then she paused, looking
again into his face. It was very square, and his lips were hard, and
there was a gleam of anger in his eyes. She wished herself back again in
her own part of the ship; but she had boasted to Miss Green that she was
not the woman to give up a duty when she had undertaken it. Though she
was frightened, still she must go on. 'I hope you will excuse me, Mr.
Caldigate.'

'I am sure you will not say anything that I cannot excuse.'

'Don't you think--' Then she paused. She had looked into his face again,
and was so little satisfied that she did not dare to go on. He would not
help her in the least, but stood there looking at her, with something
of a smile stealing over the hardness of his face, but with such an
expression that the smile was even worse than the hardness.

'Were you going to speak to me about another lady, Mrs. Callander?'

'I was. That is what I was going to speak of--'

She was anxious to remonstrate against that word lady, but her courage
failed her.

'Then don't you think that perhaps you had better leave it alone. I am
very much obliged to you, and all that kind of thing; and as to myself,
I really shouldn't care what you said. Any good advice would be taken
most gratefully,--if it didn't affect any one else. But you might say
things of the lady in question which I shouldn't bear patiently.'

'She can't be your equal.'

'I won't hear even that patiently. You know nothing about her, except
that she is a second-class passenger,--in which matter she is exactly my
equal. If you come to that, don't you think that you are degrading
yourself in coming here and talking to me? I am not your equal.'

'But you are.'

'And so is she, then. We shan't arrive at anything, Mrs. Callander, and
so you had better give it up.' Whereupon she did give it up and retreat
to her own part of the ship, but not with a very good grace.

They had certainly become very intimate,--John Caldigate and Mrs. Smith;
and there could be no doubt that, in the ordinary language of the world,
he was making a fool of himself. He did in fact know nothing about her
but what she told herself, and this amounted to little more than three
statements, which might or might not be true,--that she had gone on the
stage in opposition to her friends,--that she had married an actor, who
had treated her with great cruelty,--and that he had died of drink. And
with each of these stories there had been an accompaniment of mystery.
She had not told him her maiden name, nor what had been the condition of
her parents, nor whether they were living, nor at what theatres she and
her husband had acted, nor when he had died. She had expressed a hope
that she might get an engagement in the colonies, but she had not spoken
of any recommendation or letters of introduction. He simply knew of her
that her name was Euphemia Smith.

In that matter of her clothes there had been a great improvement, but
made very gradually. She had laughed at her own precautions, saying,
that in her poverty she had wished to save everything that could be
saved, and that she had only intended to make herself look like others
in the same class. 'And I had wanted to avoid all attention,--at first,'
she said, smiling, as she looked up at him.

'In which you have been altogether unsuccessful he replied, 'as you are
certainly more talked about than any one in the ship.'

'Has it been my fault?' she asked.

Then he comforted her, saying that it certainly had not been her fault;
that she had been reticent and reserved till she had been either
provoked or invited to come forth; and, in fact, that her conduct had
been in all respects feminine, pretty, and decorous;--as to all which
he was not perhaps the best judge in the world.

But she was certainly much pleasanter to look at, and even to talk to,
now that she had put on a small, clean, black felt hat instead of the
broken straw, and had got out from her trunks a pretty warm shawl, and
placed a ribbon or two about her in some indescribable manner, and was
no longer ashamed of showing her shoes as she sat about upon the deck.
There could be no doubt, as she was seen now, that she was the most
attractive female on board the ship; but it may be doubted whether the
anger of the Mrs. Cromptons, Mrs. Callanders, and Miss Greens was
mitigated by the change. The battle against her became stronger, and the
duty of rescuing that infatuated young man from her sorceries was more
clear than ever;--if only anything could be done to rescue him!

What could be done? Mrs. Smith could not be locked up. No one,--not even
the Captain,--could send her down to her own wretched little cabin
because she would talk with a gentleman. Talking is allowed on board
ship, and even flirting, to a certain extent. Mrs. Smith's conduct with
Mr. Caldigate was not more peculiar than that of Miss Green and the
doctor. Only it pleased certain people to think that Miss Green might be
fond of the doctor if she chose, and that Mrs. Smith had no right to be
fond of any man. There was a stubbornness about both the sinners which
resolved to set public opinion at defiance. The very fact that others
wished to interfere with him made Caldigate determined to resent all
interference; and the woman, with perhaps a deeper insight into her own
advantages, was brave enough to be able to set opposition at defiance.

They were about a week from their port when the captain,--Captain
Munday,--was induced to take the matter into his own hands. It is hardly
too much to say that he was pressed to do so by the united efforts of
the first-class passengers. It was dreadful to think that this
unfortunate young man should go on shore merely to become the prey of
such a woman as that. So Captain Munday, who at heart was not afraid of
his passenger,--but who persisted in saying that no good could be done,
and who had, as may be remembered, already made a slight attempt,--was
induced to take the matter in hand. He came up to Caldigate on the deck
one afternoon, and without any preface began his business. 'Mr.
Caldigate,' he said, 'I am afraid you are getting into a scrape with one
of your fellow-passengers.'

'What do you call a scrape, Captain Munday?'

'I should call it a scrape if a young gentleman of your position and
your prospects were to find himself engaged on board ship to marry a
woman he knew nothing about.'

'Do you know anything about my position and prospects, Captain Munday?'

'I know you are a gentleman.'

'And I think you know less about the lady.'

'I know nothing;--but I will tell you what I hear.'

'I really would rather that you did not. Of course, Captain Munday, on
board your own ship you are a despot, and I must say that you have made
everything very pleasant for us. But I don't think even your position
entitles you to talk to me about my private affairs,--or about hers. You
say you know nothing. Is it manly to repeat what one hears about a poor
forlorn woman?' Then the Captain retreated without another word, owning
to himself that he was beaten. If this foolish young man chose to make
for himself a bed of that kind he must lie upon it. Captain Munday went
away shrugging his shoulders, and spoke no further word to John
Caldigate on that or any other subject during the voyage.

Caldigate had driven off his persecutors valiantly, and had taught them
all to think that he was resolute in his purposes in regard to Mrs.
Smith, let those purposes be what they might; but nothing could be
further from the truth; for he had no purposes and was, within his own
mind, conscious of his lack of all purpose, and very conscious of his
folly. And though he could repel Mrs. Callander and the Captain,--as he
had always repelled those who had attempted to control him,--still he
knew that they had been right. Such an intimacy as this could not be
wise, and its want of wisdom became the more strongly impressed upon him
the nearer he got to shore, and the more he felt that when he had got
ashore he should not know how to act in regard to her.

The intimacy had certainly become very close. He had expressed his
great admiration, and she had replied that, 'had things not been as they
were,' she could have returned the feeling. But she did not say what the
things were which might have been otherwise. Nor did she seem to attempt
to lead him on to further and more definite proposals. And she never
spoke of any joint action between them when on shore, though she gave
herself up to his society here on board the ship. She seemed to think
that they were then to part, as though one would be going one way, and
one the other;--but he felt that after so close an intimacy they could
not part like that.



Chapter VIII

Reaching Melbourne



Things went on in the same way till the night before the morning on
which they were to enter Hobson's Bay. Hobson's Bay, as every one knows,
is the inlet of the sea into which the little river runs on which
Melbourne is built. After leaving the tropics they had gone down south,
and had encountered showers and wind, and cold weather, but now they had
come up again into warm latitudes and fine autumn weather,--for it was
the beginning of March, and the world out there is upside down. Before
that evening nothing had been said between Mrs Smith and John Caldigate
as to any future; not a word to indicate that when the journey should be
over, there would or that there would not be further intercourse between
them. She had purposely avoided any reference to a world after this world
of the ship, even refusing, in her half-sad but half-joking manner,
to discuss matters so far ahead. But he felt that he could not leave
her on board, as he would the other passengers, without a word spoken
as to some future meeting. There will arrive on occasions a certain pitch
of intimacy,--which cannot be defined as may a degree of cousinship,
but which is perfectly understood by the persons concerned;--so close
as to forbid such mere shaking of the hands. There are many men, and
perhaps more women, cautious enough and wise enough to think of this
beforehand, and, thinking of it, to guard themselves from the dangerous
attractions of casual companions by a composed manner and unenthusiastic
conversation. Who does not know the sagacious lady who, after sitting at
table with the same gentleman for a month, can say, 'Good-bye, Mr.
Jones,' just as though Mr. Jones had been a stranger under her notice
but for a day. But others gush out, and when Mr. Jones takes his
departure, hardly know how not to throw themselves into his arms. The
intercourse between our hero and Mrs. Smith had been such that, as a
gentleman, he could not leave her without some allusion to future
meetings. That was all up to the evening before their arrival. The whole
ship's company, captain, officers, quarter-masters, passengers, and all,
were quite sure that she had succeeded in getting a promise of marriage
from him. But there had been nothing of the kind.

Among others, Dick Shand was sure that there was some entanglement.
Entanglement was the word he always used in discussing the matter with
Mrs. Callander. Between Dick and his friend there had been very little
confidential communication of late. Caldigate had forbidden Shand to
talk to him about Mrs. Smith, and thus had naturally closed the man's
mouth on other matters. And then they had fallen into different sets.
Dick, at least, had fallen into a set, while Caldigate had hardly
associated with any but the one dangerous friend. Dick had lived much
with a bevy of noisy young men who had been given to games and smoking,
and to a good deal of drink. Caldigate had said not a word, even when
on one occasion Dick had stumbled down into the cabin very much the
worse for what he had taken. How could he find fault with Dick's folly
when he would not allow Dick to say a word to him as to his own? But on
this last day at sea it became necessary that they should understand
each other.

'What do you mean to do when you land?' Caldigate asked.

All that had been settled between them very exactly long since. At a
town called Nobble, about three hundred miles west of Sydney, there
lived a man, supposed to be knowing in gold, named Crinkett, with whom
they had corresponded, and to whom they intended, in the first instance,
to apply. And about twenty miles beyond Nobble were the new and now much
reputed Ahalala diggings, at which they purposed to make their first
debut. It had been decided that they would go direct from Melbourne to
Nobble,--not round by Sydney so as to see more of the world, and thus
spend more money,--but by the direct route, taking the railway to Albury
and the coaches, which they were informed were running between Albury
and Nobble. And it had also been determined that they would spend but
two nights in Melbourne,--'just to get their things washed,'--so keen
had they been in their determination to begin their work. But on all
these matters there had been no discussion now for a month, nor even an
allusion to them.

'What do you mean to do when we land?' Caldigate asked on that last day.

'I thought all that was settled. But I suppose you are going to change
everything?'

'I am going to change nothing. Only you seem to have got into such a way
of life that I didn't know whether you would be prepared for serious
work.'

'I shall be as well prepared as you are, I don't doubt,' said Dick. 'I
have no impediment of any kind.'

'I certainly have none. Then we will start by the first train on
Wednesday morning for Albury. We must have our heavy things sent round
by sea to Sydney, and get them from there as best we can. When we are a
little fixed, one of us can run down to Sydney.'

And so it was settled, without any real confidence between them, but in
conformity with their previous arrangements.

It was on the evening of the same day, after they had sighted Cape
Otway, that Mrs. Smith and Caldigate began their last conversation on
board the Goldfinder,--a conversation which lasted, with one or two
interruptions, late into the night.

'So we have come to the end of it,' she said.

'To the end of what?'

'To the end of all that is pleasant and easy and safe. Don't you
remember my telling you how I dreaded the finish? Here I have been
fairly comfortable and have in many respects enjoyed it. I have had you
to talk to; and there has been a flavour of old days about it. What
shall I be doing this time to-morrow?'

'I don't know your plans.'

'Exactly;--and I have not told you, because I would not have you
bothered with me when I land. You have enough on your own hands; and if
I were to be a burden to you now it might be a serious trouble. I am
afraid poor Mr. Shand objects to me.'

'You don't think that would stand in my way?'

'It stands in mine. Of course, with your pride and your obstinacy you
would tell Mr. Shand to go to--the devil if he ventured to object to any
little delay that might be occasioned by looking after me. Then Mr.
Shand would go--there, or elsewhere; and all your plans would be broken
up, and you would be without a companion.'

'Unless I had you.' Of all the words which he could have spoken in such
an emergency these were the most foolish; and yet, at so tender a
moment, how were they to be repressed?

'I do think that Dick Shand is dangerous,' she answered, laughing; 'but
I should be worse. I am afraid Dick Shand will--drink.'

'If so, we must part. And what would you do?'

'What would I do? What could I do?' Then there was a pause. 'Perhaps I
should want you to--marry me, which would be worse than Dick Shand's
drinking. Eh?'

There is an obligation on a man to persevere when a woman has encouraged
him in love-making. It is like riding at a fence. When once you have set
your horse at it you must go on, however impracticable it may appear as
you draw close to it. If you have never looked at the fence at all,--if
you have ridden quite the other way, making for some safe gate or
clinging to the dull lane,--then there will be no excitement, but also
there will be no danger and no disgrace. Caldigate had ridden hard at
the fence, and could not crane at it now that it was so close to him. He
could only trust to his good fortune to carry him safe over. 'I don't
suppose you would want it,' he said, 'but I might.'

'You would want me, but you would not want me for always. I should be a
burden less easy to shake off than Dick Shand.'

'Is that the way a man is always to look at a woman?'

'It is the way in which they do, I think. I often wonder that any man is
ever fool enough to marry. A poor man may want some one to serve him,
and may be able to get service in no other way; or a man, poor in
another way, may find an heiress convenient;--but otherwise I think men
only marry when they are caught. Women are prehensile things, which have
to cling to something for nourishment and support. When I come across
such a one as you I naturally put out my feelers.'

'I have not been aware of it.'

'Yes, you are; and I do not doubt that your mind is vacillating about
me. I am sure you like me.'

'Certainly, I like you.'

'And you know that I love you.'

'I did not know it.'

'Yes, you did. You are not the man to be diffident of yourself in such a
matter. You must either think that I love you, or that I have been a
great hypocrite in pretending to do so. Love you!' They were sitting
together on a large spar which was lashed on to the deck, and which had
served throughout all the voyage for a seat for second-class passengers
There were others now on the farther end of it; but there was a feeling
that when Caldigate and Mrs. Smith were together it would not be civil
to intrude upon their privacy. At this time it was dark; but their eyes
had become used to the gloom, and each could see the other's face. 'Love
you!' she repeated, looking up at him, speaking in a very low voice, but
yet, oh so clearly, so that not a fraction of a sound was lost to his
ears, with no special emotion in her face, with no contortion, no
grimace, but with her eyes fixed upon his. 'How should it be possible
that I should not love you? For two months we have been together as
people seldom are in the world,--as they never can be without hating
each other or loving each other thoroughly. You have been very good to
me who am all alone and desolate. And you are clever, educated,--and a
man. How should I not love you? And I know from the touch of your hand,
from your breath when I feel it on my face, from the fire of your eye,
and from the tenderness of your mouth, that you, too, love me.'

'I do,' he said.

'But as there may be marriage without love, so there may be love without
marriage. You cannot but feel how little you know of me, and ignorant as
you are of so much, that to marry me might be--ruin.' It was just what
he had told himself over and over again, when he had been trying to
resolve what he would do in regard to her. 'Don't you know that?'

'I know that it might have been so among the connections of home life.'

'And to you the connections of home life may all come back. That woman
talked about your "roll of ancestors." Coming from her it was absurd.
But there was some truth in it. You know that were you to marry me, say
to-morrow, in Melbourne, it would shut you out from--well, not the
possibility but the probability of return.'

'I do not want to go back.'

'Nor do I want to hinder you from doing so. If we were alike desolate,
alike alone, alike cast out, oh then, what a heaven of happiness I
should think had been opened to me by the idea of joining myself to you!
There is nothing I could not do for you. But I will not be a millstone
round your neck.'

She had taken so much the more prominent part in all this that he felt
himself compelled by his manliness to say something in contradiction to
it--something that should have the same flavour about it as had her
self-abnegation and declared passion. He also must be unselfish and
enthusiastic. 'I do not deny that there is truth in what you say.'

'It is true.'

'Of course I love you.'

'It ought to be of course,--now.'

'And of course I do not mean to part from you now, as though we were
never to see each other again.'

'I hope not quite that.'

'Certainly not. I shall therefore hold you as engaged to me, and myself
as engaged to you,--unless something should occur to separate us.' It
was a foolish thing to say, but he did not know how to speak without
being foolish. It is not usual that a gentleman should ask a lady to be
engaged to him '--unless something should occur to separate them!' 'You
will consent to that,' he said.

'What I will consent to is this, that I will be yours, all yours,
whenever you may choose to send for me. At any moment I will be your
wife for the asking. But you shall go away first, and shall think of it,
and reflect upon it,--so that I may not have to reproach myself with
having caught you.'

'Caught me?'

'Well, yes, caught you. I do feel that I have caught you,--almost. I do
feel,--almost,--that I ought to have had nothing to do with you. From
the beginning of it all I knew that I ought to have nothing to say to
you. You are too good for me.' Then she rose from her place as though to
leave him. 'I will go down now,' she said, 'because I know you will have
many things to do. To-morrow, when we get up, we shall be in the
harbour, and you will be on shore quite early. There will be no time for
a word of farewell then. I will meet you again here just before we go to
bed,--say at half-past ten. Then we will arrange, if we can arrange, how
we may meet again.'

And so she glided away from him, and he was left alone, sitting on the
spar. Now, at any rate, he had engaged himself. There could not be any
doubt about that. He certainly could not be justified in regarding
himself as free because she had told him that she would give him time to
think of it. Of course he was engaged to marry her. When a man has been
successful in his wooing he is supposed to be happy. He asked himself
whether he was proud of the result of this intimacy. She had told
him,--she herself,--that she had 'caught him', meaning thereby that he
had been taken as a rabbit with a snare or a fish with a baited hook. If
it had been so, surely she would not herself have said so. And yet he
was aware how common it is for a delinquent to cover his own delinquency
by declaring it. 'Of course I am idle,' says the idle one, escaping the
disgrace of his idleness by his honesty. 'I have caught you!' There is
something soothing to the vanity in such a declaration from a pretty
woman. That she should have wished to catch you is something;--something
that the net should itself be so pleasant, with its silken meshes! But
the declaration may not the less be true and the fact unpleasant. In the
matter of matrimony a man does not wish to be caught; and Caldigate,
fond as he was of her, acknowledged that what she said was true.

He leant back in a corner that was made by the hatchway, and endeavoured
to think over his life and prospects. If this were a true engagement,
then must he cease altogether to think of Hester Bolton. Then must that
dream be abandoned. It is of no use to the most fervid imagination to
have a castle projected in Spain from which all possible foundation has
been taken away. In his dreams of life a man should never dream that
which is altogether impossible. There had been something in the thought
of Hester Bolton which had taken him back from the roughnesses of his
new life, from the doubtful respectability of Mrs. Smith, from the
squalor of the second-class from the whisky-laden snores of Dick Shand,
to a sweeter, brighter, cleaner world. Till this engagement had been
absolutely spoken he could still indulge in that romance, distant and
unreal as it was. But now,--now it seemed to be brought in upon him very
forcibly that he must rid his thoughts of Hester Bolton,--or else rid
his life of Mrs. Smith.

But he was engaged to marry Mrs. Smith. Then he got up, and walked
backwards and forwards along the deck, asking himself whether this could
really be the truth. Was he bound to this woman for his life? And if so,
had he done a thing of which he already repented himself? He tried to
persuade himself that she was admirably fitted for the life which he was
fated to lead. She was handsome, intellectual, a most delightful
companion, and yet capable of enduring the hardships of an adventurous
uncertain career. Ought he not to think himself peculiarly lucky in
having found for himself so eligible a companion? But there is something
so solemn, so sacred, in the name of wife. A man brought up among soft
things is so imbued with the feeling that his wife should be something
better, cleaner, sweeter, holier than himself that he could not but be
awe-struck when he thought that he was bound to marry this all but
nameless widow of some drunken player,--this woman who, among other
women, had been thought unfit for all companionship!

But things arrange themselves. How probable it was that he would never
be married to her. After all, this might be but an incident, and not an
unpleasant incident, in his life. He had had his amusement out of it,
and she had had hers. Perhaps they would part to meet no more. But when
he thought that there might be comfort in this direction, he felt that
he was a scoundrel for thinking so.

'And this is to say good-bye?' 'Twas thus she greeted him again that
night. 'Good-bye--'

'Good-bye, my love.'

'My love! my love! And now remember this; my address will be,
Post-office, Melbourne. It will be for you to write to me. You will not
hear from me unless you do. Indeed I shall know nothing of you. Let me
have a line before a month is over.' This he promised, and then they
parted.

At break of day on the following morning the Goldfinder rode over the
Rip into Hobson's Bay. There were still four hours before the ship lay
at her moorings; but during all that time Mrs. Smith was not seen by
Caldigate. As he got into the boat which took him and Shand from the
ship to the pier at Sandridge she kissed her hand to him over the side
of the vessel. Before eleven o'clock Dick Shand and his companion were
comfortably put up at the Miners' Home in Flinders Lane.



Chapter IX

Nobble



During the two days which Dick and Caldigate spent together in Melbourne
Mrs. Smith's name was not mentioned between them. They were particularly
civil each to the other and went to work together, making arrangements
at a bank as to their money, taking their places, despatching their
luggage, and sorting their belongings as though there had been no such
woman as Mrs. Smith on board the Goldfinder. Dick, though he had been
inclined to grumble when his mystery had been taken out of his
hands,--who had, of course, been jealous when he saw that the lady had
discarded her old hat and put on new ribbons, not for him, but for
another,--was too conscious of the desolation to which he would be
subjected by quarrelling with his friend. He felt himself unable to go
alone, and was therefore willing that the bygones of the ship should be
bygones. Caldigate, on the other hand, acknowledged to himself that he
owed some reparation to his companion. Of course he had not bound
himself to any special mode of life;--but had he, in his present
condition, allied himself more closely to Mrs. Smith, he would, to some
extent, have thrown Dick over. And then, as soon as he was on shore, he
did feel somewhat ashamed of himself in regard to Mrs. Smith. Was it not
manifest that any closer alliance, let the alliance be what it might,
must be ruinous to him? As it was, had he not made an absolute fool of
himself with Mrs. Smith? Had he not got himself already into a mess from
which there was no escape? Of course he must write to her when the month
was over. The very weight of his thoughts on this matter made him tamer
with Dick and more observant than he would otherwise have been.

They were during those two days frequently about the town, looking at
the various streets and buildings, at the banks and churches and
gardens,--as is usual with young men when they visit a new town; but,
during it all, Caldigate's mind was more intent on Mrs. Smith than he
was on the sights of the place. Melbourne is not so big but that she
might easily have thrown herself in his way had she pleased. Strangers
residing in such a town are almost sure to see each other before
twenty-four hours are gone. But Mrs. Smith was not seen. Two or three
times he went up and down Collins Street alone, without his friend, not
wishing to see her,--aware that he had better not see her,--but made
restless by a nervous feeling that he ought to wish to see her, that he
should, at any rate, not keep out of her way. But Mrs. Smith did not
show herself. Whatever might be her future views, she did not now take
steps to present herself to him. 'I shall be so much the more bound to
present myself to her,' he said to himself. 'But perhaps she knows all
that,' he added in the same soliloquy.

On the Wednesday morning they left Melbourne by the 6 A.M. train for
Albury, which latter place they reached the same day, about 2 P.M.,
having then crossed the Murray river, and passed into the colony of New
South Wales. Here they stayed but a few hours and then went on by coach
on their journey to Nobble. From one wretched vehicle they were handed
on to another, never stopping anywhere long enough to go to bed,--three
hours at one wretched place and five at another,--travelling at the rate
of six miles an hour, bumping through the mud and slush of the bush
roads, and still going on for three days and three nights. This was
roughing it indeed. Even Dick complained, and said that, of all the
torments prepared for wicked mortals on earth, this Australian coaching
was the worst. They went through Wagga-Wagga and Murrumburra, and other
places with similar names, till at last they were told that they had
reached Nobble. Nobble they thought was the foulest place which they had
ever seen. It was a gold-digging town, as such places are called, and
had been built with great rapidity to supply the necessities of adjacent
miners. It was constructed altogether of wood, but no two houses had
been constructed alike. They generally had gable ends opening on to the
street, but were so different in breadth, altitude, and form, that it
was easy to see that each enterprising proprietor had been his own
architect. But they were all alike in having enormous advertisement-boards,
some high, some broad, some sloping, on which were declared the merits of
the tradesmen who administered within to the wants of mining humanity. And
they had generally assumed most singular names for themselves: 'The Old
Stick-in-the-Mud Soft Goods Store,' 'The Polyeuka Stout Depot,' 'Number
Nine Flour Mills,' and so on,--all of which were very unintelligible to
our friends till they learned that these were the names belonging to
certain gold-mining claims which had been opened in the neighbourhood
of Nobble. The street itself was almost more perilous to vehicles than
the slush of the forest-tracks, so deep were the holes and so uncertain
the surface. When Caldigate informed the driver that they wanted to be
taken as far as Henniker's hotel, the man said that he had given up
going so far as that for the last two months, the journey being too
perilous. So they shouldered their portmanteaus and struggled forth
down the street. Here and there a short bit of wooden causeway, perhaps
for the length of three houses, would assist them; and then, again, they
would have to descend into the roadway and plunge along through the mud.

'It is not quite as nice walking as the old Quad at Trinity,' said
Caldigate.

'It is the beastliest hole I ever put my foot in since I was born,' said
Dick, who had just stumbled and nearly came to the ground with his
burden. 'They told us that Nobble was a fine town.'

Henniker's hotel was a long, low wooden shanty, divided into various
very small partitions by thin planks, in most of which two or more
dirty-looking beds had been packed very closely. But between these
little compartments there was a long chamber containing a long and very
dirty table, and two long benches. Here were sitting a crowd of miners,
drinking, when our friends were ushered in through the bar or counter
which faced to the street. At the bar they were received by a dirty old
woman who said that she was Mrs. Henniker. Then they were told, while
the convivial crowd were looking on and listening, that they could have
the use of one of the partitions and their 'grub' for 7s. 6d. a-day
each. When they asked for a partition apiece, they were told that if
they didn't like what was offered to them they might go elsewhere. Upon
that they agreed to Mrs. Henniker's terms, and sitting down on one of
the benches looked desolately into each others faces.

Yes;--it was different from Trinity College, different from Babington,
very different even from the less luxurious comfort of the house at
Pollington. The deck, even the second-class cabin, of the Goldfinder had
been better than this. And then they had no friend, not even an
acquaintance, within some hundred miles. The men around them were not
uncivil. Australian miners never are so. But they were inquisitive,
familiar, and with their half-drunken good-humour, almost repulsive. It
was about noon when our friends reached Henniker's, and they were told
that there would be dinner at one. There was always 'grub' at one, and
'grub' at seven, and 'grub' at eight in the morning. So one of the men
informed them. The same gentleman hoped that the strangers were not very
particular, as the 'grub,' though plentiful was apt to be rough of its
kind.

'You'll have it a deal worse before you've done if you're going on to
Ahalala,' said another. Then Caldigate said that they did intend to go
on to Ahalala. 'We're going to have a spell at gold-digging,' said he.
What was the use of making any secret of the matter? 'We knowed that
ready enough,' said one of the men. 'Chaps like you don't come much to
Nobble for nothing else. Have you got any money to start with?'

'A few half-crowns,' said Dick, cautiously.

'Half-crowns don't go very far here, my mate. If you can spend four or
five pounds a-week each for the next month, so as to get help till you
know where you are, it may be you'll turn up gold at Ahalala;--but if
not, you'd better go elsewhere. You needn't be afraid. We ain't a-going
to rob you of nothing.'

'Nor yet we don't want nothing to drink,' said another.

'Speak for yourself, Jack,' said a third. 'But come;--as these are
regular new chums, I don't care if I shout for the lot myself.' Then the
dirty old woman was summoned, and everybody had whisky all round. When
that was done, another generous man came to the front, and there was
more whisky, till Caldigate was frightened as to the result.

Evil might have come from it, had not the old woman opportunely brought
the 'grub' into the room. This she chucked down on the table in such a
way that the grease out of the dish spattered itself all around. There
was no tablecloth, nor had any preparation been made; but in the middle
of the table there was a heap of dirty knives and forks, with which the
men at once armed themselves; and each took a plate out of a heap that
had been placed on a shelf against the wall. Caldigate and Shand, when
they saw how the matter was to be arranged, did as the other men. The
'grub' consisted of an enormous lump of boiled beef, and a bowl of
potatoes, which was moderate enough in size considering that there were
in all about a dozen men to be fed. But there was meat enough for
double the number, and bread in plenty, but so ill-made as to be
rejected by most of the men. The potatoes were evidently the luxury;
and, guided by that feeling, the man who had told the strangers that
they need not be afraid of being robbed, at once selected six out of the
bowl, and deposited three each before Dick and Caldigate. He helped the
others all round to one each, and then was left without any for himself.
'I don't care a damn for that sort of tucker,' he said, as though he
despised potatoes from the bottom of his heart. Of all the crew he was
the dirtiest, and was certainly half drunk. Another man holloaed to
'Mother Henniker' for pickles; but Mother Henniker, without leaving her
seat at the bar, told them to 'pickle themselves.' Whereupon one of the
party, making some allusion to Jack Brien's swag,--Jack Brien being
absent at the moment,--rose from his seat and undid a great roll lying
in one of the corners. Every miner has his swag,--consisting of a large
blanket which is rolled up, and contains all his personal luggage. Out
of Jack Brien's swag were extracted two large square bottles of pickles.
These were straightway divided among the men, care being taken that Dick
and Caldigate should have ample shares. Then every man helped himself to
beef, as much as he would, passing the dish round from one to the other.
When the meal was half finished, Mrs. Henniker brought in an enormous
jorum of tea, which she served out to all the guests in tin pannikins,
giving to every man a fixed and ample allowance of brown sugar, without
at all consulting his taste. Milk there was none. In the midst of this
Jack Brien came in, and with a clamour of mirth the empty pickle jars
were shown him. Jack, who was a silent man, and somewhat melancholy,
merely shook his head and ate his beef. It may be presumed that he was
fond of pickles, having taken so much trouble to provide them; but he
said not a word of the injury to which he had been subjected.

'Them's a-going to Ahalala, Jack,' said the distributor of the
potatoes, nodding his head to indicate the two new adventurers.

'Then they're a-going to the most infernal, mean, ----, ----
break-heartedest place as God Almighty ever put on this 'arth for the
perplexment of poor unfortunate ---- ---- miners.' This was Jack Brien's
eloquence, and his description of Ahalala. Before this he had not spoken
a word, nor did he speak again till he had consumed three or four pounds
of beef, and had swallowed two pannikins of tea. Then he repeated his
speech: 'There isn't so ---- ---- an infernal, mean, break-hearted a
place as Ahalala,--not nowhere; no, not nowhere. And so them chums'll
find for theirselves if they go there.' Then his neighbour whispered
into Caldigate's ear that Jack had gone to Ahalala with fifty sovereigns
in his pocket, and that he wasn't now worth a red cent.

'But there is gold there?' asked Caldigate.

'It's my belief there's gold pretty much everywhere, and you may find it,
or you mayn't. That's where it is;--and the mayn'ts are a deal oftener
turning up than the mays.'

'A man can get work for wages,' suggested Dick.

'Wages! What's the use of that? A man as knows mining can earn wages.
But Ahalala aint a place for wages. If you want wages, go to one of the
old-fashioned places,--Bendigo, or the like of that. I've worked for
wages, but what comes of it? A man goes to Ahalala because he wants to
run his chance, and get a big haul. It's every one on his own bottom
pretty much at Ahalala.'

'Wages be ----!' said Jack Brien, rising from the seat and hitching up
his trousers as he left the room. It was very evident that Jack Brien
was a gambler.

After dinner there was a smoke, and after the smoke Dick Shand 'shouted'
for the company. Dick had quite learned by this time the mystery of
shouting. When one man 'stands' drinks all round, he shouts; and then
it is no more than reciprocal that another man should do the same. And,
in this way, when the reciprocal feeling is spread over a good many
drinkers, a good deal of liquor is consumed.

While Dick Shand's 'shout' was being consumed, Caldigate asked one of
his new friends where Mr. Crinkett lived. Was Mr. Crinkett known in
Nobble? It seemed that Crinkett was very well known in Nobble indeed. If
anybody had done well at Nobble, Mr. Crinkett had done well. He was the
'swell' of the place. This informant did not think that Mr. Crinkett had
himself gone very deep at Ahalala. Mr. Crinkett had risen high enough in
his profession to be able to achieve more certainty than could be found
at such a place as Ahalala. By this time they were on the road to Mr.
Crinkett's house, this new friend having undertaken to show them the
way.

'He can put you up to a thing or two, if he likes,' said the new friend.
'Perhaps he's a pal of yourn?'

Caldigate explained that he had never seen Mr. Crinkett, but that he had
come to Nobble armed with a letter from a gentleman in England who had
once been concerned in gold-digging.

'He's a civil enough gent, is Crinkett,' said the miner;--'but he do
like making money. They say of him there's nothing he wouldn't
sell,--not even his grandmother's bones. I like trade, myself,' added
the miner; 'but some of 'em's too sharp. That's where Crinkett lives.
He's a swell; ain't he?'

They had walked about half a mile from the town, turning down a lane at
the back of the house, and had made their way through yawning pit-holes
and heaps of dirt and pools of yellow water,--where everything was
disorderly and apparently deserted,--till they came to a cluster of
heaps so large as to look like little hills; and here there were signs
of mining vitality. On their way they had not come across a single shred
of vegetation, though here and there stood the bare trunks of a few
dead and headless trees, the ghosts of the forest which had occupied the
place six or seven years previously. On the tops of these artificial
hills there were sundry rickety-looking erections, and around them were
troughs and sheds and rude water-works. These, as the miner explained
were the outward and visible signs of the world-famous 'Old
Stick-in-the-Mud' claim, which was now giving two ounces of gold to the
ton of quartz, and which was at present the exclusive property of Mr.
Crinkett, who had bought out the tribute shareholders and was working
the thing altogether on his own bottom. As they ascended one of those
mounds of upcast stones and rubble, they could see on the other side the
crushing-mills, and the engine-house, and could hear the thud, thud,
thud of the great iron hammers as they fell on the quartz,--and then,
close beyond, but still among the hillocks, and surrounded on all sides
by the dirt and filth of the mining operations, was Mr. Crinkett's
mansion. 'And there's his very self a-standing at the gate a-counting
how many times the hammer falls a minute, and how much gold is a-coming
from every blow as it falls.' With this little observation as to Mr.
Crinkett's personal character, the miner made his way back to his
companions.



Chapter X

Polyeuka Hall



The house which they saw certainly surprised them much, and seemed to
justify the assertion just before made to them that Mr. Crinkett was a
swell. It was marvellous that any man should have contemplated the
building of such a mansion in a place so little attractive, with so many
houses within view. The house and little attempted garden, together with
the stables and appurtenances, may have occupied half an acre. All
around it were those hideous signs of mining operations which make a
country rich in metals look as though the devil had walked over it,
dragging behind him an enormous rake. There was not a blade of grass to
be seen. As far as the eye could reach there stood those ghost-like
skeletons of trees in all spots where the soil had not been turned up;
but on none of them was there a leaf left, or even a branch. Everywhere
the ground was thrown about in hideous uncovered hillocks, all of which
seemed to have been deserted except those in the immediate neighbourhood
of Mr. Crinkett's house. But close around him one could see wheels
turning and long ropes moving, and water running in little wooden
conduits, all of which were signs of the activity going on under ground.
And then there was the never-ceasing thud, thud, thud of the
crushing-mill, which from twelve o'clock on Sunday night to twelve
o'clock on Saturday night, never paused for a moment, having the effect,
on that vacant day, of creating a painful strain of silence upon the
ears of those who were compelled to remain on the spot during the
unoccupied time. It was said that in Mr. Crinkett's mansion every
sleeper would wake from his sleep as soon as the engine was stopped,
disturbed by the unwonted quiescence.

But the house which had been built in this unpromising spot was quite
entitled to be called a mansion. It was of red brick, three storeys
high, with white stone facings to all the windows and all the corners,
which glittered uncomfortably in the hot sun. There was a sweep up to
it, the road having been made from the débris of the stone out of which
the gold had been crushed; but though there was the sweep up to the door
carefully made for the length of a few dozen yards, there was nothing
that could be called a road outside, though there were tracks here and
there through the hillocks, along which the waggons employed about the
place struggled through the mud. The house itself was built with a large
hall in the middle, and three large windows on each side. On the floor
there were four large rooms, with kitchens opening out behind, and above
there were, of course, chambers in proportion and in the little garden
there was a pond and a big bath-house, and there were coach-houses and
stables;--so that it was quite a mansion. It was called Polyeuka Hall,
because while it was being built Mr. Crinkett was drawing large gains
from the Polyeuka mine, about three miles distant on the other side of
Nobble. For the building of his mansion on this special site, no one
could imagine any other reason than that love which a brave man has of
overcoming difficulties. To endeavour to create a paradise in such a
Pandemonium required all the energies of a Crinkett. Whether or not he
had been successful depended of course on his own idiosyncrasies. He
had a wife who, it is to be hoped, liked her residence. They had no
children, and he spent the greater part of his time away in other mining
districts in which he had ventures. When thus absent, he would live as
Jack Brien and his friends were living at Mrs. Henniker's, and was
supposed to enjoy the ease of his inn more thoroughly than he did the
constraint of his grand establishment.

At the present moment he was at home, and was standing at the gate of
his domain all alone, with a pipe in his mouth,--perhaps listening, as
the man had said, to the noise of his own crushing-machine. He was
dressed in black, with a chimney-pot on his head,--and certainly did not
look like a miner, though he looked as little like a gentleman. Our
friends were in what they conceived to be proper miners' costume, but
Mr. Crinkett knew at a glance that there was something uncommon about
them. As they approached he did not attempt to open the gate, but
awaited them, looking over the top of it from the inside. 'Well, my
mates, what can I do for you?' he said, still remaining on his side, and
apparently intending that they should remain on theirs. Then Caldigate
brought forth his letter, and handed it to the owner of the place across
the top of the gate. 'I think Mr. Jones wrote to you about us before,'
said Caldigate.

Crinkett read the letter very deliberately. Perhaps he required time to
meditate what his conduct should be. Perhaps he was not quick at reading
written letters. But at last he got to the end of the very few words
which the note contained. 'Jones!' he said, 'Jones wasn't much account
when he was out here.'

'We don't know a great deal about him,' said Dick.

'But when he heard that we were coming, he offered us a letter to you,'
said Caldigate. 'I believe him to be an honest man.'

'Honest! Well, yes; I daresay he's honest enough. He never robbed me of
nothing. And shall I tell you why? Because I know how to take care that
he don't, nor yet nobody else.' As he said this, he looked at them as
though he intended that they were included among the numbers against
whom he was perfectly on his guard.

'That's the way to live,' said Dick.

'That's the way I live, my friend. He did write before. I remember
saying to myself what a pair of simpletons you must be if you was
thinking of going to Ahalala.'

'We do think of going there,' said Caldigate.

'The road's open to you. Nobody won't prevent you. You can get beef and
mutton there, and damper, and tea no doubt, and what they call brandy,
as long as you've got the money to pay for it. One won't say anything
about what price they'll charge you. Have you got any money?' Then
Caldigate made a lengthened speech, in which he explained so much of
their circumstances as seemed necessary. He did not name the exact sum
which had been left at the bank in Melbourne, but he did make Mr.
Crinkett understand that they were not paupers. They were anxious to do
something in the way of mining, and particularly anxious to make money.
But they did not quite know how to begin. Could he give them a hint?
They meant to work with their own hands, but perhaps it might be well
for them at first to hire the services of some one to set them a-going.

Crinkett listened very patiently, still maintaining his position on his
own side of the gate. Then he spoke words of such wisdom as was in him.
'Ahalala is just the place to ease you of a little money. Mind I tell
you. Gold! of course there's been gold to be got there. But what's been
the cost of it? What's been the return? If sixteen hundred men, among
'em, can sell fifteen hundred pounds' worth of gold a week, how is each
man to have twenty shillings on Saturday night? That's about what it is
at Ahalala. Of course there's gold. And where there's gold chucked about
in that way, just on the surface, one gets it and ten don't. Who is to
say you mayn't be the one. As to hiring a man to show you the way,--you
can hire a dozen. As long as you'll pay 'em ten shillings a-day to loaf
about, you may have men enough. But whether they'll show you the way to
anything except the liquor store, that's another thing. Now shall I tell
you what you two gents had better do?' Dick declared that the two gents
would be very much obliged to him if he would take that trouble. 'Of
course you've heard of the "Old Stick-in-the-Mud"?' Dick told him that
they had heard of that very successful mining enterprise since their
arrival at Nobble. 'You ask on the veranda at Melbourne, or at Ballarat,
or at Sydney. If they don't tell you about it, my name's not Crinkett.
You put your money, what you've got, into ten-shilling shares. I'll
accommodate you, as you're friends of Jones, with any reasonable number.
We're getting two ounces to the ton. The books'll show you that.'

'We thought you'd purchased out all the shareholders said Caldigate.

'So I did, and now I'm redividing it. I'd rather have a company. It's
pleasanter. If you can put in a couple of thousand pounds or so between
you, you can travel about and see the country, and your money'll be
working for you all the time. Did you ever see a gold mine?'

They owned that they never yet had been a yard below ground. Then he
opened his gate preparatory to taking them down the 'Old
Stick-in-the-Mud,' and brought them with him into one of the front
rooms. It was a large parlour, only half furnished, not yet papered,
without a carpet, in which it appeared that Mr. Crinkett kept his own
belongings. Here he divested himself of his black clothes and put on a
suit of miner's garments,--real miner's garments, very dirty, with a
slouch hat, on the top of which there was a lump of mud in which to
stick a candle-end. Any one learned in the matter would immediately have
known the real miner. 'Now if you like to see a mine we will go down,
and then you can do as you like about your money.'

They started forth, Crinkett leading the way, and entered the
engine-house. As they went he said not a word, being aware that gold,
gold that they could see with their eyes in its raw condition, would
tempt them more surely than all his eloquence. In the engine-house the
three of them got into a box or truck that was suspended over the mouth
of a deep shaft, and soon found themselves descending through the bowels
of the earth. They went down about four hundred feet, and as they were
reaching the bottom Crinkett remarked that it was 'a goodish deep hole
all to belong to one man.' 'Yes,' he added as Caldigate extricated
himself from the truck, 'and there's a precious lot more gold to come
out of it yet, I can tell you.'

In all the sights to be seen about the world there is no sight in which
there is less to be seen than in a gold-mine. The two young men were
made to follow their conductor along a very dirty underground gallery
for about a quarter of a mile, and then they came to four men working
with picks in a rough sort of chamber, and four others driving holes in
the walls. They were simply picking down the rock, in doing which they
were assisted by gunpowder. With keen eyes Crinkett searched along the
roof and sides, and at last showed to his companions one or two little
specks which he pronounced to be gold. 'When it shows itself like that
all about, you may guess whether it's a paying concern! Two ounces to
the ton, my boys!' As Dick and Caldigate hitherto knew nothing about
ounces and tons in reference to gold, and as they had heard of nuggets,
and lumps of gold nearly as big as their fist, they were not much
exalted by what they saw down the 'Old Stick-in-the-Mud.' Nor did they
like the darkness and dampness and dirt and dreariness of the place.
They had both resolved to work, as they had often said, with their own
hands;--but in thinking over it their imagination had not pictured to
them so uncomfortable a workshop as this. When they had returned to the
light, the owner of the place took them through the crushing-mill
attached, showed them the stone or mulloch, as it was thrust into the
jaws of the devouring animal, and then brought them in triumph round to
the place where the gold was eliminated from the débris of mud and
water. The gold did not seem to them to be very much; but still there it
was. 'Two ounces to the ton, my boys!' said Crinkett, as he brought them
back to his house. 'You'll find that a 10s. share'll give you about 6d.
a month. That's about 60 per cent, I guess. You can have your money
monthly. What comes out of that there mine in a March, you can have in
a April, and so on. There ain't nothing like it anywhere else,--not as I
knows on. And instead of working your hearts out, you can be just
amusing yourselves about the country. Don't go to Ahalala;--unless it is
for dropping your money. If that's what you want, I won't say but
Ahalala is as good a place as you'll find in the colony.' Then he
brought a bottle of whisky out of a cupboard, and treated them to a
glass of grog apiece. Beyond that his hospitality did not go.

Dick looked as though he liked the idea of having a venture in the 'Old
Stick-in-the-Mud.' Caldigate, without actually disbelieving all that had
been said to him, did not relish the proposal. It was not the kind of
thing which they had intended. After they had learned their trade as
miners it might be very well for them to have shares in some established
concern;--but in that case he would wish to be one of the managers
himself, and not to trust everything to any Crinkett, however honest.
That suggestion of travelling about and amusing themselves, did not
commend itself to him. New South Wales might, he thought, be a good
country for work, but did not seem to offer much amusement beyond sheer
idleness, and brandy-and-water.

'I rather think we should like to do a little in the rough first,' he
said.

'A very little'll go a long way with you, I'm thinking.'

'I don't see that at all,' said Dick, stoutly.

'You go down there and take one of them picks in your hand for a
week,--eight hours at a time, with five minutes' spell allowed for a
smoke, and see how you'll feel at the end of the week.'

'We'll try it on, if you'll give us 10s. a-day for the week,' said
Caldigate, rubbing his hands together.

'I wouldn't give you half-a-crown for the whole time between you, and
you wouldn't earn it. Ten shillings a day! I suppose you think a man has
only just to say the word and become a miner out of hand. You've a deal
to learn before you'll be worth half the money. I never knew chaps like
you come to any good at working. If you've got a little money, you know,
I've shown you what you can do with it. But perhaps you haven't.'

The conversation was ended by a declaration on the part of Caldigate
that they would take a week to think over Mr. Crinkett's kind
proposition, and that they might as well occupy the time by taking a
look at Ahalala. A place that had been so much praised and so much
abused must be worth seeing. 'Who's been a-praising it,' asked Crinkett,
angrily, 'unless it's that fool Jones? And as for waiting, I don't say
that you'll have the shares at that price next week.' In this way he
waxed angry; but, nevertheless, he condescended to recommend a man to
them, when Caldigate declared that they would like to hire some
practical miner to accompany them. 'There's Mick Maggott,' said he,
'knows mining a'most as well as anybody. You'll hear of him, may be, up
at Henniker's. He's honest; and if you can keep him off the drink he'll
do as well as anybody. But neither Mick nor nobody else can do you no
good at Ahalala.' With that he led them out of the gate, and nodding his
head at them by way of farewell, left them to go back to Mrs.
Henniker's.

To Mrs. Henniker's they went, and there, stretched out at length on the
wooden veranda before the house, they found the hero of the
potatoes,--the man who had taken them down to Crinkett's house. He
seemed to be fast asleep, but as they came up on the boards, he turned
himself on his elbow, and looked at them. 'Well, mates,' he said, 'what
do you think of Tom Crinkett now you've seen him?'

'He doesn't seem to approve of Ahalala,' said Dick.

'In course he don't. When a new rush is opened like that, and takes
away half the hands a man has about him, and raises the wages of them
who remain, in course he don't like it. You see the difference. The Old
Stick-in-the-Mud is an established kind of thing.'

'It's a paying concern, I suppose,' said Caldigate.

'It has paid;--not a doubt about it. Whether it's played out or not, I'm
not so sure. But Ahalala is a working-man's diggings, not a master's,
such as Crinkett is now. Of course Crinkett has a down on Ahalala.'

'Your friend Jack Brien didn't seem to think much of the place,' said
Dick.

'Poor Jack is one of them who never has a stroke of luck. He's a sort of
chum who, when he has a bottle of pickles, somebody else is sure to eat
'em. Ahalala isn't so bad. It's one of them chancy places, of course.
You may and you mayn't, as I was a-saying before. When the great rush
was on, I did uncommon well at Ahalala. I never was the man I was then.'

'What became of it?' asked Caldigate with a smile.

'Mother Henniker can tell you that, or any other publican round the
country. It never will stick to me. I don't know why, but it never will.
I've had my luck, too. Oh, laws! I might have had my house, just as
grand as Polly Hooker this moment, only I never could stick to it like
Tom Crinkett. I've drank cham--paign out of buckets;--I have.'

'I'd rather have a pot of beer out of the pewter,' said Caldigate.

'Very like. One doesn't drink cham--paign because it's better nor
anything else. A nobbler of brandy's worth ten of it. It's the glory of
out-facing the swells at their own game. There was a chap over in the
other colony shod his horse with gold,--and he had to go shepherding
afterwards for thirty pounds a-year and his grub. But it's something for
him to have ridden a horse with gold shoes. You've never seen a
bucketful of cham--paign in the old country?'

When both Dick and Caldigate had owned that they had never encountered
luxury so superabundant, and had discussed the matter in various
shapes,--asking whether the bucket had been emptied, and other questions
of the same nature,--Caldigate inquired of his friend whether he knew
Mick Maggott?

'Mick Maggott!' said the man, jumping up to his feet. 'Who wants Mick
Maggott?' Then Caldigate explained the recommendation which Mr. Crinkett
had made. 'Well;--I'm darned;--Mick Maggott? I'm Mick Maggott, myself.'

Before the evening was over an arrangement had been made between the
parties, and had even been written on paper and signed by all the three.
Mick on the morrow was to proceed to Ahalala with his new comrades, and
was to remain with them for a month, assisting them in all their views;
and for this he was to receive ten shillings a-day. But, in the event of
his getting drunk, he was to be liable to dismissal at once. Mick
pleaded hard for one bout of drinking during the month;--but when Dick
explained that one bout might last for the entire time, he acknowledged
that the objection was reasonable and assented to the terms proposed.



Chapter XI

Ahalala



It was all settled that night, and some necessary purchases made.
Ahalala was twenty-three miles from Nobble, and a coach had been
established through the bush for the benefit of miners going to the
diggings;--but Mick was of opinion that miners ought to walk, with their
swag on their backs, when the distance was not more than forty miles.
'You look so foolish getting out of one of them rattletrap coaches,' he
said, 'and everybody axing whether you're going to pick for yourself or
buy a share in a claim. I'm all for walking,--if it ain't beneath you.'
They declared themselves quite ready to walk, and under Mick's guidance
they went out and bought two large red blankets and two pannikins. Mick
declared that if they went without swags on their backs and pannikins
attached to their swags, they would be regarded with evil eyes by all
who saw them. There were some words about the portmanteaus. Mick
proposed that they should be left for the entire month in the charge of
Mrs. Henniker, and, when this was pronounced impossible, he was for a
while disposed to be off the bargain. Caldigate declared that, with all
his ambition to be a miner, he must have a change of shirts. Then Mick
pointed to the swag. Couldn't he put another shirt into the swag? It was
at last settled that one portmanteau should be sent by the coach, and
one left in the charge of Mrs. Henniker. 'Them sort of traps ain't never
any good, in my mind,' said Mick. 'It's unmanly, having all them togs. I
like a wash as well as any man,--trousers, jersey, drawers, and all. I'm
always at 'em when I get a place for a rinse by the side of a creek. But
when my things are so gone that they won't hang on comfortable any
longer, I chucks 'em away and buys more. Two jerseys is good, and two
drawers is good, because of wet. Boots is awkward, and I allays does
with one pair. Some have two, and ties 'em on with the pannikin. But it
ain't ship-shape. Them's my ideas, and I've been at it these nine years.
You'll come to the same.'

The three started the next morning at six, duly invested with their
swags. Before they went they found Mrs. Henniker up, with hot tea,
boiled beef, and damper. 'Just one drop at starting,--for the good of
the house,' said Mick, apologetically. Whereupon the whisky was
brought, and Mick insisted on shouting for it out of his own pocket.

They had hardly gone a mile out of Nobble before Maggott started a
little difficulty,--merely for the purpose of solving it with a master's
hand. 'There ain't to be no misters among us, you know.'

'Certainly not,' said Caldigate.

'My name's Mick. This chap's name's Dick. I didn't exactly catch your'n.
I suppose you've been kursened.'

'Yes;--they christened me John.'

'Ain't it never been Jack with you?'

'I don't think it ever was.'

'John! It do sound lackadaisical. What I call womanish. But perhaps it's
for the better. We have such a lot of Jacks. There's dirty Jack, and
Jack the nigger, and Jack Misery,--that's poor Jack Brien;--and a lot
more. Perhaps you wouldn't like not another name of that sort.'

'Well; no,--unless it's necessary.'

'There ain't another John about the place, as I know. I never knew a
John down a mine,--never. We'll try it, anyhow.'

And so that was settled. As it happened, though Dick Shand had always
been Dick to his friend, Caldigate had never, as yet, been either John
or Jack to Dick Shand. There are men who fall into the way of being
called by their Christian names, and others who never hear them except
from their own family. But before the day was out, Caldigate had become
John to both his companions. 'It don't sound as it ought to do;--not
yet,' said Mick, after he had tried it about a dozen times in five
minutes.

Before the day was over it was clear that Mick Maggott had assumed the
mastery. When three men start on an enterprise together, one man must be
'boss.' Let the republic be as few as it may one man must be president.
And as Mick knew what he was about, he assumed the situation easily. The
fact that he was to receive wages from the others had no bearing on the
subject at all. Before they got to Ahalala, Caldigate had begun to
appreciate all this, and to understand in part what they would have to
do during this month, and how they would have to live. It was proposed
that they should at once fix on a spot,--'peg out a claim,' on some
unoccupied piece of ground, buy for themselves a small tent,--of which
they were assured that they would find many for sale,--and then begin to
sink a hole. When they entered Ahalala, Caldigate was surprised to find
that Mick was the most tired of the three. It is always so. The man who
has laboured from his youth upwards can endure with his arms. It is he
who has had leisure to shoot, to play cricket, to climb up mountains and
to handle a racket, that can walk. 'Darned if you ain't better stuff
than I took you for,' said Mick, as the three let the swags down from
their backs on the veranda of Ridley's hotel at Ahalala.

Ahalala was a very different place from Nobble,--made Nobble seem to be
almost a compact and prosperous city. At Nobble there was at any rate a
street. But at Ahalala everything was straggling. The houses, such as
they were, stood here and there about the place, while a great part of
the population lived under canvas. And then Ahalala was decidedly in the
forest. The trees around had not yet been altogether killed, nor had
they been cut down in sufficient numbers to divest the place of its
forest appearance. Ahalala was leafy, and therefore, though much less
regular, also less hideous than Nobble. When Dick first made tender
inquiry as to the comforts of an hotel, he was assured that there were
at least a couple of dozen. But the place was bewildering. There seemed
to be no beginning to it and no end. There were many tracks about here
and there,--but nothing which could be called a road. The number of
holes was infinite,--each hole covered by a rough windlass used for
taking out the dirt, which was thrown loosely anywhere round the
aperture. Here and there were to be seen little red flags stuck upon the
end of poles. These indicated, as Mick informed them, those fortunate
adventures in which gold had been found. At those very much more
numerous hillocks which showed no red flag, the labourers were hitherto
labouring in vain. There was a little tent generally near to each
hillock in which the miners slept, packed nearly as close as sheep in a
fold. As our party made its way through the midst of this new world to
Ridley's hotel, our friend observed many a miner sitting at his evening
meal. Each generally had a frying-pan between his legs, out of which he
was helping himself to meat which he had cooked on the ashes just behind
him. Sometimes two or three were sharing their provisions out of the
same frying-pan; but as a rule each miner had his own, and each had it
between his legs.

Before they had been at Ahalala twenty-four hours they also had their
tent and their frying-pan and their fire, and had pegged out their
claim, and were ready to commence operations on the morrow. It was soon
manifest to Caldigate and Dick Shand that they would have been very much
astray without a 'boss' to direct them. Three or four hours had been
passed in forming a judgment as to the spot on which they should
commence to dig. And in making his choice Mick had been guided by many
matters as to which our two adventurers were altogether ignorant. It
might be that Mick was equally so; but he at any rate assumed some
knowledge. He looked to the fall of the ground, the line in which the
red flags were to be traced,--if any such line could be found,--and was
possessed of a considerable amount of jargon as to topographical mining
secrets. At last they found a spot, near a creek, surrounded by
forest-trees, perhaps three hundred yards from the nearest adjacent
claim, and, as Mick declared, in a direct line with three red flags.
Here they determined to commence their operations. 'I don't suppose we
shall do any good,' said Caldigate to Dick, 'but we must make a
beginning, if only for the sake of hardening our hands. We shall be
learning something at the time even though we only shovel up so much
mud.'

For a fortnight they shovelled up the soil continuously without any
golden effects, and, so far, without any feeling of disappointment. Mick
had told them that if they found a speck at the end of three weeks they
would be very fortunate. They had their windlass, and they worked in
relays; one man at the bottom, one man at the wheel, and one man idle.
In this way they kept up their work during eighteen hours of the day.
Each man in this way worked twelve hours, and had twelve for sleeping,
and cooking, and eating. Other occupation they had none. During the
fortnight neither of them went any further distance from their claim
than to the neighbouring shop. Mick often expressed his admiration at
their continued industry, not understanding the spirit which will induce
such young men as them to work, even when the work is agonising. And
they were equally charmed with Mick's sobriety and loyalty. Not a word
had been said as to hours of work,--and yet he was as constant to their
long hours as though the venture was his own,--as though there was no
question of wages.

'We ain't had a drop o' drink yet,' said Mick one night. 'Ain't we a
holding off like Britons?' There was great triumph in his voice as he
said this;--very great triumph, but, also, as Caldigate thought, a sound
of longing also. They were now in their third week, and the word whisky
had never been pronounced between them. At this moment, when Mick's
triumphant ejaculation was uttered, they were all lying--in bed. It
shall be called bed by way of compliment. They had bought a truss of
straw, which Mick had declared to be altogether unnecessary and
womanish, and over that was laid a white india-rubber sheet which
Caldigate had brought with him from England. This, too, had roused the
miner's wrath. Nevertheless he condescended to lie upon it. This was
their bed; and here they lay, each wrapped up in his blanket, Mick in
the middle, with our two friends at the sides. Now it was not only on
Mick's account, but quite as much in reference to Dick Shand, that
Caldigate deprecated any reference to drink. The abstention hitherto had
been marvellous. He himself would have gone daily to the store for a
bottle of beer, but that he recognised the expediency of keeping them
away from the place. He had heard that it was a peculiarity of the
country that all labour was done without drink, even when it was done by
determined drunkards. The drunkard would work for a month, and then
drink for a month,--and then, after a time, would die. The drink almost
always consisted of spirits of the worst description. It seemed to be
recognised by the men that work and drink must be kept separate. But
Mick's mind travelled away on this occasion from the little tent to the
delights of Ridley's bar. 'We haven't had a drop of drink yet,' he said.

'We'll push through the month without it;--eh, old boy?' said Caldigate.

'What wouldn't I give for a pint of bitter beer?' said Shand.

'Or a bottle of Battleaxe between the three of us!' said
Mick;--Battleaxe being the name for a certain brand of brandy.

'Not a drop till the month is over,' said Caldigate turning himself
round in his blanket. Then there were whisperings between the other two
men, of which he could only hear the hum.

On the next morning at six Caldigate and Dick Shand were at the hole
together. It was Caldigate's turn to work till noon, whereas Dick went
off at nine, and Mick would come on from nine till three. At nine Mick
did not make his appearance, and Dick declared his purpose of looking
after him. Caldigate also threw down his tools, as he could not work
alone, and went in search. The upshot of it was, that he did not see
either of his companions again till he found them both very drunk at a
drinking-shop about two miles away from their claim, just before dusk!

This was terrible. He did at last succeed in bringing back his own
friend to the tent, having, however, a sad task in doing so. But Mick
Maggott would not be moved. He had his wits about him enough to swear
that he cared for nothing. He was going to have a spree. Nobody had ever
known him to be talked out of it when he had once set his mind upon it.
He had set his mind upon it now, and he meant to have his whack. This
was what he said of himself: 'It ain't no good, John. It ain't no good
at all, John. Don't you trouble yourself, John. I'm going to have it
out, John, so I tell you.' This he said, nodding his head about in a
maudlin sort of way, and refusing to allow himself to be moved.

On the next day Dick Shand was sick, repentant, and idle. On the third,
he returned to his work,--working however, with difficulty. After that,
he fairly recovered himself, and the two Cambridge men went on
resolutely at their hole. They soon found how hard it was not to go
astray without their instructed mate. The sides of the shaft became
crooked and uneven, and the windlass sometimes could not be made to
work. But still they persevered, and went on by themselves for an entire
week without a sign of gold. During this time various fruitless
expeditions were made by both the men in search of Maggott. He was still
at the same drinking-shop, but could not be induced to leave it. At last
they found him with the incipient horrors of delirium tremens, and yet
they could not get him away. The man who kept the place was quite used
to delirium tremens, and thought nothing about it. When Caldigate tried
a high moral tone everybody around him laughed at him.

They had been digging for a month, and still without a speck of gold,
when, one morning early, Mick appeared in front of the tent. It was then
about eight, and our friends had stopped their work to eat their
breakfast. The poor man, without saying a word, came and crouched down
before them;--not in shame,--not at all that; but apparently in an agony
of sickness,--'I've had my bout,' he said.

'I don't suppose you're much the better for it,' replied Caldigate.

'No; I ain't none the better. I thought it was all up with me yesterday.
Oh, laws! I've had it heavy this time.'

'Why are you such a fool?'

'Well;--you see, John, some of us is born fools. I'm one of 'em. You
needn't tell me, 'cause I know all about it without any sermoning.
Nobody don't know it so well as I do! How should they? If you had my
inside now,--and my head! Oh, laws!'

'Give it up, man.'

'That's easy said;--as if I wouldn't if I could. I haven't got a blessed
coin left to buy a bite of bread with,--and I couldn't touch a morsel if
I had ever so much. I'll take my blanket and be off as soon as I can
move.' All this time he had been crouching, but now he threw himself at
length upon the ground.

Of course they did what they could for the poor wretch. They got him
into the tent, and they made him swallow some tea. Then he slept; and in
the course of the afternoon he had so far recovered as to be able to eat
a bit of meat. Then, when his companions were at their work, he
carefully packed up his swag, and fastening it on to his back, appeared
by the side of the hole. 'I'm come to bid you good-bye he said.

'Where are you going, Mick?' asked Caldigate, climbing up out of the
hole by the rope.

'I'm blessed if I know, but I'm off. You are getting that hole
tarnation crooked.'

The man was going without any allusion to the wages he had earned, or to
the work that he had done. But then, in truth, he had not earned his
wages, as he had broken his contract. He made no complaint, however, and
no apology, but was prepared to start.

'That's all nonsense,' said Dick, catching hold of him.

'You put your swag down,' said Caldigate, also catching hold of the
other shoulder.

'What am I to put my swag down for? I'm a-going back to Nobble.
Crinkett'll give me work.'

'You're not going to leave us in that way,' said Dick.

'Stop and make the shaft straight,' said Caldigate. The man looked
irresolute. 'Friends are not to part like that.'

'Friends!' said the poor fellow. 'Who'll be friends to such a beast as I
be? But I'll stay out the month if you'll find me my grub.'

'You shall have your grub and your money, too. Do you think we've
forgotten the potatoes?'

'---- the potatoes,' said the man, bursting into tears. Then he chucked
away his swag, and threw himself under the tent upon the straw. The next
day he was making things as straight as he could down the shaft.

When they had been at work about five weeks there was a pole stuck into
their heap of dirt, and on the top of the pole there was a little red
flag flying. At about thirty feet from the surface, when they had
already been obliged to insert transverse logs in the shaft to prevent
the sides from falling in, they had come upon a kind of soil altogether
different from the ordinary clay through which they had been working.
There was a stratum of loose shingle or gravelly earth, running
apparently in a sloping direction, taking the decline of the very
slight hill on which their claim was situated. Mick, as soon as this was
brought to light, became an altered man. The first bucket of this stuff
that was pulled up was deposited by him separately, and he at once sat
down to wash it. This he did in an open tin pan. Handful after handful
he washed, shifting and teasing it about in the pan, and then he cast it
out, always leaving some very small residuum. He was intent upon his
business to a degree that Caldigate would have thought to be beyond the
man's nature. With extreme patience he went on washing handful after
handful all the day, while the other two pulled up fresh buckets of the
same stuff. He would not pause to eat, or hardly to talk. At last there
came a loud exclamation. 'By------, we've got it!' Then Dick and
Caldigate, stooping down, were shown four or five little specks in the
angle of the pan's bottom. Before the sun had set they had stuck up
their little red flag, and a crowd of neighbours was standing round them
asking questions as to their success.



Chapter XII

Mademoiselle Cettini



After three days of successful washing, when it became apparent that a
shed must be built, and that, if possible, some further labour must be
hired, Mick said that he must go. 'I ain't earned nothing,' he said,
'because of that bout, and I ain't going to ask for nothing, but I can't
stand this any longer. I hope you'll make your fortins.' Then came the
explanation. It was not possible, he said, that a regular miner, such as
he was, should be a party to such a grand success without owning a share
in it. He was quite aware that nothing belonged to him. He was working
for wages and he had forfeited them. But he couldn't see the gold
coming out under his hands in pailfuls and feel that none of it belonged
to him. Then it was agreed that there should be no more talk of wages,
and that each should have a third share in the concern. Very much was
said on the matter of drink, in all of which Caldigate was clever enough
to impose on his friend Dick the heavy responsibility of a mentor. A man
who has once been induced to preach to another against a fault will feel
himself somewhat constrained by his own sermons. Mick would make no
promises; but declared his intention of trying very hard. 'If anybody'd
knock me down as soon as I goes a yard off the claim, that'd be best.'
And so they renewed their work, and at the end of six weeks from the
commencement of their operations sold nine ounces of gold to the manager
of the little branch bank which had already established itself at
Ahalala. These were hardly 'pailfuls'; but gold is an article which adds
fervour to the imagination and almost creates a power for romance.

Other matters, however, were not running smoothly with John Caldigate at
this eventful time. To have found gold so soon after their arrival was
no doubt a great triumph, and justified him in writing a long letter to
his father, in which he explained what he had done, and declared that he
looked forward to success with confidence. But still he was far from
being at ease. He could not suffer himself to remain hidden at Ahalala
without saying something of his whereabouts to Mrs. Smith. After what
had happened between them he would be odious to himself if he omitted to
keep the promise which he had made to her. And yet he would so fain have
forgotten her,--or rather have wiped away from the reality of his past
life that one episode, had it been possible. A month's separation had
taught him to see how very silly he had been in regard to this
woman,--and had also detracted much from those charms which had
delighted him on board ship. She was pretty, she was clever, she had
the knack of being a pleasant companion. But how much more than all
these was wanted in a wife? And then he knew nothing about her. She
might be, or have been, all that was disreputable. If he could not shake
himself free from her, she would be a millstone round his neck. He was
aware of all that, and as he thought of it he would think also of the
face of Hester Bolton, and remember her form as she sat silent in the
big house at Chesterton. But nevertheless it was necessary that he
should write to Mrs. Smith. He had promised that he would do so, and he
must keep his word.

The name of the woman had not been mentioned between him and Dick Shand
since they left the ship. Dick had been curious, but had been afraid to
inquire, and had in his heart applauded the courage of the man who had
thus been able to shake off at once a woman with whom he had amused
himself. Caldigate himself was continually meditating as he worked with
the windlass in his hand, or with his pick at the bottom of the hole,
whether in conformity with the usages of the world he could not
simply--drop her. Then he remembered the words which had passed between
them on the subject, and he could not do it. He was as yet too young to
be at the same time so wise and so hard. 'I shall hold you as engaged to
me,' he had said, 'and myself as engaged to you.' And he remembered the
tones of her voice as, with her last words, she had said to him, 'My
love, my love!' They had been very pleasant to him then, but now they
were most unfortunate. They were unfortunate because there had been a
power in them from which he was now unable to extricate himself.

Therefore, during one of those leisure periods in which Mick and Dick
were at work, he wrote his letter, with the paper on his knees,
squatting down just within his tent on a deal case which had contained
boxes of sardines, bottles of pickles, and cans of jam. For now, in
their prosperity, they had advanced somewhat beyond the simple plenty of
the frying-pan. It was a difficult letter to write. Should it be
ecstatic and loving, or cold and severe,--or light, and therefore false?
'My own one, here I am. I have struck gold. Come to me and share it.'
That would have been ecstatic and loving.' 'Tis a hard life this, and
not fit for a woman's weakness. But it must be my life--and therefore
let there be an end of all between us.' That would have been cold and
severe. 'How are you, and what are you doing? Dick and I are shoving
along. It isn't half as nice as on board ship. Hope to see you before
long, and am yours,--just the same as ever.' That would have been light
and false,--keeping the word of promise to the ear but breaking it to
the heart. He could not write either of these. He began by describing
what they had done, and had completed two pages before he had said a
word of their peculiar circumstances in regard to each other. He felt
that his letter was running into mere gossip, and was not such as she
would have a right to expect. If any letter were sent at all, there must
be something more in it than all this. And so, after much thinking of
it, he at last rushed, as it were, into hot words, and ended it as
follows: 'I have put off to the last what I have really got to say. Let
me know what you are doing and what you wish,--and whether you love me.
I have not as yet the power of offering you a home, but I trust that the
time may come.' These last words were false. He knew that they were
false. But the falseness was not of a nature to cause him to be ashamed.
It shames no man to swear that he loves a woman when he has ceased to
love her;--but it does shame him to drop off from the love which he has
promised. He balanced the matter in his mind for a while before he would
send his letter. Then, getting up quickly, he rushed forth, and dropped
it into the post-office box.

The very next day chance brought to Ahalala one who had been a
passenger on board the Goldfinder; and the man, hearing of the success
of Shand and Caldigate came to see them. 'Of course you know,' said the
man, 'what your fellow-passenger is doing down at Sydney?' Dick Shand,
who was present, replied that they had heard nothing of any
fellow-passenger. Caldigate understood at once to whom the allusion was
made, and was silent. 'Look here,' said the man, bringing a newspaper
out of his pocket, and pointing to a special advertisement. 'Who do you
think that is?' The advertisement declared that Mademoiselle Cettini
would, on such and such a night, sing a certain number of songs, and
dance a certain number of dances, and perform a certain number of
tableaux, at a certain theatre in Sydney. 'That's your Mrs. Smith,' said
the man, turning to Caldigate.

'I am very glad she has got employment,' said Caldigate; 'but she is not
my Mrs. Smith.'

'We all thought that you and she were very thick.'

'All the same I beg you to understand that she is not my Mrs. Smith,'
repeated Caldigate, endeavouring to appear unconcerned, but hardly able
to conceal his anger.

Dancing dances, singing songs, and acting tableaux;--and all under the
name of Mademoiselle Cettini! Nothing could be worse,--unless, indeed,
it might be of service to him to know that she was earning her bread,
and therefore not in distress, and earning it after a fashion of which
he would be at liberty to express his disapproval. Nothing more was said
at the time about Mrs. Smith, and the man went his way.

Ten days afterwards Caldigate, in the presence both of Mick and Dick,
declared his purpose of going down to Sydney. 'Our luggage must be
looked after,' said he;--'and I have a friend whom I want to see,' he
added, not choosing to lie. At this time all was going successfully with
them. Mick Maggott lived in such a manner that no one near him would
have thought that he knew what whisky meant. His self-respect had
returned to him, and he was manifestly 'boss.' There had come to be
necessity for complicated woodwork below the surface, and he had shown
himself to be a skilled miner. And it had come to pass that our two
friends were as well assured of his honesty as of their own. He had been
a veritable godsend to them,--and would remain so, could he be kept away
from the drinking-shops.

'If you go away don't you think he'll break out?' Dick asked when they
were alone together.

'I hope not. He seems to have been steadied by success. At any rate I
must go.'

'Is it to see--Mrs. Smith?' Dick as he asked the question put on his
most serious face. He did not utter the name as though he were finding
fault. The time that had passed had been sufficient to quench the
unpleasantness of their difference on board ship. He was justified in
asking his friend such a question, and Caldigate felt that it was so.

'I am.'

'Don't you think, upon the whole,----. I don't like to interfere, but
upon my word the thing is so important.'

'You think I had better not see her?'

'I do.'

'And lie to her?'

'All is fair in love and war.'

'That means that no faith is due to a woman. I cannot live by such a
doctrine. I do not mind owning to you that I wish I could do as you bid
me. I can't. I cannot be so false. I must go, old fellow; but I know all
that you would say to me, and I will endeavour to escape honestly from
this trouble.' And so he went.

Yes;--to escape honestly from that trouble! But how? It is just that
trouble from which there is no honest escape,--unless a man may honestly
break his word. He had engaged himself to her so much that, simply to
ignore her would be cowardly as well as false. There was but one thing
that he could do, but one step that he could take, by which his security
and his self-respect might both be maintained. He would tell her the
exact truth, and put it to her whether, looking at their joint
circumstances, it would not be better that they should--part. Reflecting
on this during his three days' journey down to Sydney, it was thus that
he resolved,--forgetting altogether in his meditations the renewed force
of the woman's charms upon himself.

As he went from the railway station at Sydney to the third-class inn at
which he located himself, he saw the hoardings on all sides placarded
with the name of Mademoiselle Cettini. And there was a picture on some
of these placards of a wonderful female, without much clothes, which was
supposed to represent some tragic figure in a tableau. There was the
woman whom he was to make his wife. He had travelled all night, and had
intended to seek Mrs. Smith immediately after his breakfast. But so
unhappy was he, so much disgusted by the tragic figure in the picture,
that he postponed his visit and went after his luggage. His luggage was
all right in the warehouse, and he arranged that it should be sent down
to Nobble. Waggons with stores did make their way to Nobble from the
nearest railway station, and hopes were held out that the packages might
be there in six weeks' time. He would have been willing to postpone
their arrival for twelve months, for twenty-four months, could he, as
compensation have been enabled to postpone, with honour, his visit to
Mrs. Smith for the same time.

Soon after noon, however, his time was vacant, and he rushed to his
fate. She had sent him her address, and he found her living in very
decent lodgings overlooking the public park. He was at once shown up to
her room, where he found her at breakfast. 'So you have come,' she
said. Then, when the door was shut, she flung herself into his arms.

He was dressed as a miner might be dressed who was off work and out for
a holiday;--clean, rough, and arranged with a studied intention to look
as little like a gentleman as possible. The main figure and manner were
so completely those of a gentleman that the disguise was not perfect;
but yet he was rough. She was dressed with all the pretty care which a
woman can use when she expects her lover to see her in morning costume.
Anything more unlike the Mrs. Smith of the ship could not be imagined.
If she had been attractive then, what was she now? If her woman's charms
sufficed to overcome his prudence while they were so clouded, what
effect would they have upon him now? And she was in his arms! Here there
was no quartermaster to look after the proprieties;--no Mrs. Crompton,
no Mrs. Callander, no Miss Green to watch with a hundred eyes for the
exchange of a chance kiss in some moment of bliss. 'So you have come!
Oh, my darling oh, my love!' No doubt it was all just as it should be.
If a lady may not call the man to whom she is engaged her love and her
darling, what proper use can there be for such words? And into whose
arms is she to jump, if not into his? As he pressed her to his heart,
and pressed his lips to hers, he told himself that he ought to have
arranged it all by letter.

'Why Cettini?' he asked. But he smiled as he put the question. It was
intended to be serious, but still he could not be hard upon her all at
once.

'Why fifty thousand fools?'

'I don't understand.'

'Supposing there to be fifty thousand people in Sydney,--as to which I
know nothing. Or why ever so many million fools in London? If I called
myself Mrs. Smith nobody would come and see me. If I called myself
Madame Cettini, not nearly so many would come. You have got to
inculcate into the minds of the people an idea that a pure young girl is
going to jump about for their diversion. They know it isn't so. But
there must be a flavour of the idea. It isn't nice, but one has to
live.'

'Were you ever Cettini before?'

'Yes,--when I was on the stage as a girl.' Then he thought he remembered
that she had once told him some particular in regard to her early life,
which was incompatible with this, unless indeed she had gone under more
than one name before she was married. 'I used as a child to dance and
sing under that name.'

'Was it your father's name?'

She smiled as she answered, 'You want to discover all the little mean
secrets of my life at once, and do not reflect that, in so far as they
were mean, they are disagreeable as subjects of conversation. I was not
mean myself.'

'I am sure of that.'

'If you are sure of it, is not that enough? Of course I have been among
low people. If not, why should I have been a singer on the stage at so
early an age, why a dancer, why should I have married such a one as Mr.
Smith?'

'I do not know of what sort he was,' said Caldigate.

'This is not the time to ask, when you have just come to see me;--when I
am so delighted to see you! Oh, it is such a pleasure! I have not had a
nice word spoken to me since I left the Goldfinder. Come and take a walk
in the gardens? Nobody knows me off the stage yet, and nobody knows you.
So we can do just as we like. Come and tell me about the gold.'

He did go, and did tell her about the gold, and before he had been with
her an hour, sitting about on the benches in that loveliest of all
places, the public gardens at Sydney, he was almost happy with her. It
was now late in the autumn, in May; but the end of the autumn in Sydney
is the most charming time of the year. He spent the whole day with her,
dining with her in her lodgings at five in order that he might take her
to the theatre at seven. She had said a great deal to him about her
performances, declaring that he would find them to be neither vulgar nor
disagreeable. She told him that she had no friend in Sydney, but that
she had been able to get an engagement for a fortnight at Melbourne, and
had been very shortly afterwards pressed to come on to Sydney. She
listened not only with patience, but apparently with the greatest
pleasure, to all that he could tell her of Dick Shand, and Mr. Crinkett,
and Mick Maggott, arousing herself quite to enthusiasm when he came to
the finding of the gold. But there was not a word said the whole day as
to their future combined prospects. Nor was there any more outspoken
allusion to loves and darlings, or any repetition of that throwing
herself into his arms. For once it was natural. If she were wanted thus
again, the action must be his,--not hers. She was clever enough to know
that.

'What do you think of it?' she said, when he waited to take her home.

'It is the only good dancing I ever saw in my life. But----'

'Well!'

'I will tell you to-morrow.'

'Tell me whatever you think and you will see that I will attend to you.
Come about eleven,--not sooner, as I shall not be dressed. Now
good-night.'



Chapter XIII

Coming Back



The letter which Caldigate wrote to his father from Ahalala, telling him
of the discovery of gold upon their claim, contained the first tidings
which reached Folking of the wanderer, and that was not received till
seven or eight months had passed by since he left the place. The old
Squire, during that time, had lived a very solitary life. In regard to
his nephew, whom he had declared his purpose of partially adopting, he
had expressed himself willing to pay for his education, but had not
proposed to receive him at Folking. And as to that matter of heirship,
he gave his brother to understand that it was not to be regarded as a
settled thing. Folking was now his own to do what he liked with it, and
as such it was to remain. But he would treat his nephew as a son while
the nephew seemed to him to merit such treatment. As for the estate, he
was not at all sure whether it would not be better for the community at
large, and for the Caldigate family in particular, that it should be cut
up and sold in small parcels. There was a long correspondence between
him and his brother, which was ended by his declaring that he did not
wish to see any of the family just at present at Folking. He was low in
spirits, and would prefer to be alone.

He was very low in spirits and completely alone. All those who knew
anything about him,--and they were very few, the tenants, perhaps, and
servants, and old Mr. Bolton,--were of opinion that he had torn his son
out from all place in his heart, had so thoroughly disinherited the
sinner, not only from his house and acres, but from his love, that they
did not believe him capable of suffering from regret. But even they knew
very little of the man. As he wandered about alone among the dikes, as
he sat alone among his books, even as he pored over the volumes which
were always in his hand, he was ever mourning and moaning over his
desolation. His wife and daughters had been taken from him by the hand
of God;--but how had it come to pass that he had also lost his son, that
son who was all that was left to him? When he had first heard of those
dealings with Davis, while John was amusing himself with the frivolities
of Babington, he had been full of wrath, and had declared to himself
that the young man must be expelled, if not from all affection, yet from
all esteem. And he had gone on to tell himself that it would be
unprofitable for him to live with a son whom he did not esteem. Then it
had come to pass that, arguing it out in his own mind, rationally, as he
had thought, but still under the impulse of hot anger, he had determined
that it was better that they should part, even though the parting should
be for ever. But now he had almost forgotten Davis,--had turned the
matter over in his mind till he had taught himself to think that the
disruption had been altogether his son's work, and in no degree his own.
His son had not loved him. He had not been able to inspire his son with
love. He was solitary and wretched because he had been harsh and
unforgiving. That was his own judgment as to himself. But he never said a
word of his feelings to any human being.

John had promised to write. The promise had not been very
enthusiastically given; but still, as the months went by it was
constantly remembered. The young man, after leaving Cambridgeshire, had
remained some weeks at the Shands' house before he had started;--and
from thence he had not written. The request had been that he should
write from Australia, and the correspondence between him and his father
had always been so slight, that it had not occurred to him to write from
Pollington. But Mr. Caldigate had,--not expected, but hoped that a
letter might come at the last moment. He knew to a day, to an hour, when
the vessel would sail from Plymouth. There might have been a letter from
Plymouth, but no letter came. And then the months went by slowly. The
son did not write from Melbourne, nor from Nobble,--nor from Ahalala
till gold had been found. So it came to pass that nearly eight months
had passed, and that the father had told himself again and again that
his son had torn himself altogether away from all remembrance of his
home, before the letter came.

It was not a long letter, but it was very satisfactory The finding of
the gold was in itself, of course, a great thing; but the manner in
which it was told, without triumph or exultation, but with an air of
sober, industrious determination, was much more; and then there was a
word or two at the end: 'Dear father,--I think of you every day, and am
already looking forward to the time when I may return and see you
again.' As he read it, the tears rolled down his cheeks, and unluckily
the old housekeeper came into the room at the same time.

'Is it from Mr. John, sir?'

He had to recover himself, and to get rid of his tears, and to answer
the old woman in an unconcerned tone, all in a moment, and it
disconcerted him.

'Yes,--yes;' he said. 'I'll tell you all about it another time.'

'Is he well, sir?'

'I daresay he is. He doesn't say. It's about business. Didn't you hear
me say that I'd tell you another time?' And so the old woman was turned
out of the room, having seen the tear and heard the little gurgle in the
throat.

'He seems to be doing well,' the Squire said to Mr. Holt. 'He has got a
couple of partners, and they have succeeded in finding gold. He may
probably come back some day; but I don't suppose it will be for the
next twenty years.'

After that he marked the posts, which he knew came from that part of the
world by San Francisco, and had resolved not to expect anything by that
of the next month,--when there came, a day before its time, a much
longer letter than the last. In this there was given a detailed
description of the 'claim' at Ahalala, which had already been named
Folking. Much was said of Mick, and much was said of Dick, both of whom
were working 'as steady as rocks.' The number of ounces extracted were
stated, with the amount of profits which had been divided. And something
was said as to the nature of their life at Ahalala. They were still
living under their original tent, but were meditating the erection of a
wooden shanty. Ahalala, the writer said, was not a place at which a
prosperous miner could expect to locate himself for many years; but the
prospects were good enough to justify some present attention to personal
comforts. All this was rational, pleasant, and straightforward. And in
the letter there was no tone or touch of the old quarrel. It was full
and cordial,--such as any son might write to any father. It need hardly
be said that there was no mention made in it of Mrs. Smith. It was
written after the return of John Caldigate from Sydney to Ahalala, but
contained no reference to any matrimonial projects.

Letters then came regularly, month by month, and were always regularly
answered,--till a chance reader would have thought that no father and no
son stood on better terms with each other. There had been misfortunes;
but the misfortunes did not seem to touch John Caldigate himself. After
three months of hard work and steady conduct Mick Maggott had broken out
and had again taken to drinking champagne out of buckets. Efforts were
made, with infinite trouble, to reclaim him, which would be successful
for a time,--and then again he would slip away into the mud. And then
Shand would sometimes go into the mud with him; and Shand, when drunk,
would be more unmanageable even than Mick. And this went on till Mick
had--killed himself, and Dick Shand had disappeared. 'I grieve for the
man as for a dear friend,' he said in one of his father's letters; 'for
he has been as true to me as steel in all things, save drink; and I feel
that I have learned under him the practical work of a gold-miner as it
cannot be learned except by the unwearied attention of the teacher.
Could he have kept from spirits, this man would have made a large
fortune and would have deserved it; for he was indefatigable and
never-ending in resources.' Such was the history of poor Mick Maggott.

And Shand's history was told also. Shand strayed away to Queensland, and
then returning was again admitted to a certain degree of partnership,
and then again fell into drink, and at last, deserting the trade of a
miner, tried his hand at various kinds of work, till at last he became a
simple shepherd. From time to time Caldigate sent him money when he was
in want of it, but they had not again come together as associates in
their work.

All this was told in his monthly letters which came to be expected at
Folking, till each letter was regarded as the rising of a new sun. There
is a style of letter-writing which seems to indicate strength of purpose
and a general healthy condition on the part of the writer. In all his
letters, the son spoke of himself and his doings with confidence and
serenity, somewhat surprising his father after a while by always
desiring to be remembered to Mr., Mrs., and Miss Bolton. This went on
not only from month to month, but from year to year, till at the end of
three years from the date at which the son had left Folking, there had
come to be a complete confidence between him and his father. John
Caldigate had gone into partnership with Crinkett,--who had indeed
tried to cheat him wretchedly but had failed,--and at that time was the
manager of the Polyeuka mine. The claim at Ahalala had been sold, and he
had deserted the flashy insecurity of alluvial searchings for the
fundamental security of rock-gold. He was deep in the crushing of
quartz, and understood well the meaning of two ounces to the ton,--that
glittering boast by which Crinkett had at first thought to allure him.
From time to time he sent money home, paying back to his father and to
Bolton's bank what had been borrowed on the estate. For there had passed
between them many communications respecting Folking. The extravagances
of the son became almost the delight of the father, when the father had
become certain of the son's reform. There had been even jocular
reference to Davis, and a complete understanding as to the amount of
money to be given to the nephew in compensation for the blighted hopes
as to the reversion of the property.

Why it should have been that these years of absence should have endeared
to John Caldigate a place which, while it was his home, had always been
distasteful to him, I cannot perhaps explain to those readers who have
never strayed far from their original nests;--and to those who have been
wanderers I certainly need not explain it. As soon as he felt that he
could base the expression of his desires as to Folking on the foundation
of substantial remittances, he was not slow to say that he should like
to keep the place. He knew that he had no right to the reversion, but
perhaps his father would sympathise with his desire to buy back his
right. His father, with all his political tenets as to land, with his
often-expressed admiration as to the French system, with his loud
denunciations of the absurdity of binding a special family to a special
fraction of the earth's surface, did sympathise with him so strongly,
that he at once accepted the arrangement. 'I think that his conduct has
given him a right to demand it,' he said to Mr. Bolton.

'I don't quite see that. Money certainly gives a man great powers. If he
has money enough he can buy the succession to Folking if you choose to
sell it to him.'

'I mean as my son,' said the father somewhat proudly. 'He was the heir.'

'But he ceased to be so,--by his own doing. I advised you to think
longer over it before you allowed him to dispossess himself.'

'It certainly has been all for the best.'

'I hope so. But when you talk of his right, I am bound to say that he
has none. Folking is now yours, without encumbrance, and you can give it
to whom you please.'

'It was he who paid off the mortgage.'

'You have told me that he sent you part of the money;--but that's
between you and him. I am very glad, Caldigate, that your son has done
so well;--and the more so perhaps because the early promise was not
good. But it may be doubted whether a successful gold-digger will settle
down quietly as an English country gentleman.'

There can be no doubt that old Mr. Bolton was a little jealous, and,
perhaps, in some degree incredulous, as to the success of John Caldigate.
His sons had worked hard from the very beginning of their lives. With
them there had been no period of Newmarket, Davis, and disreputation. On
the basis of capital, combined with conduct, they had gradually risen to
high success. But here was a young man, who, having by his
self-indulgence thrown away all the prospects of his youth, had
rehabilitated himself by the luck of finding gold in a gully. To Mr.
Bolton it was no better than had he found a box of treasure at the
bottom of a well. Mr. Bolton had himself been a seeker of money all his
life, but he had his prejudices as to the way in which money was to be
sought. It should be done in a gradual, industrious manner, and in
accordance with recognised forms. A digger who might by chance find a
lump of gold as big as his head, or might work for three months without
finding any, was to him only one degree better than Davis, and therefore
he did not receive his old friend's statements as to the young man's
success with all the encouragement which his old friend would have
liked.

But his father was very enthusiastic in his return letter to the miner.
The matter as to the estate had been arranged. The nephew, who, after
all, had not shown himself to be very praiseworthy, had already
been--compensated. His own will had already been made,--of course in his
son's favour. As there had been so much success,--and as continued
success must always be doubtful,--would it not be well that he should
come back as soon as possible? There would be enough now for them all.
Then he expressed an opinion that such a place as Nobble could not be
very nice for a permanent residence.

Nobble was not very nice. Over and beside his professional success,
there was not much in his present life which endeared itself to John
Caldigate. But the acquisition of gold is a difficult thing to leave.
There is a curse about it, or a blessing,--it is hard to decide
which,--that makes it almost impossible for a man to tear himself away
from its pursuit when it is coming in freely. And the absolute
gold,--not the money, not the balance at one's banker's, not the
plentiful so much per annum,--but the absolute metal clinging about the
palm of one's hands like small gravel, or welded together in a lump too
heavy to be lifted, has a peculiar charm of its own. I have heard of a
man who, having his pocket full of diamonds, declared, as he let them
run through his fingers, that human bliss could not go beyond that
sensation. John Caldigate did not shoe his horse with gold; but he liked
to feel that he had enough gold by him to shoe a whole team. He could
not return home quite as yet. His affairs were too complicated to be
left quite at a moment's notice. If, as he hoped, he should find himself
able to leave the colony within four years of the day on which he had
begun work, and could then do so with an adequate fortune, he believed
that he should have done better than any other Englishman who had set
himself to the task of gold-finding. In none of his letters did he say
anything special about Hester Bolton; but his inquiries about the family
generally were so frequent as to make his father wonder why such
questions should be asked. The squire himself, who was living hardly a
dozen miles from Mr. Bolton's house, did not see the old banker above
once a quarter perhaps and the ladies of the family certainly not
oftener than once a year. Very little was said in answer to any of
John's inquiries. 'Mr. and Mrs. and Miss Bolton are, I believe, quite
well.' So much was declared in one of the old squire's letters; and even
that little served to make known that at any rate, so far, no tidings as
to marriage on the part of Hester had reached the ear of her father's
old friend. Perhaps this was all that John Caldigate wanted to learn.

At last there came word that John intended to come home with the next
month's mail. This letter arrived about midsummer, when the miner had
been absent three years and a half. He had not settled all his affairs
so completely but that it might be necessary that he should return; but
he thought that he would be able to remain at least twelve months in
England. And in England he intended to make his home. Gold, he said, was
certainly very attractive; but he did not like New South Wales as a
country in which to live. He had now contracted his ventures to the one
enterprise of the Polyeuka mine, from which he was receiving large
monthly dividends. If that went on prosperously, perhaps he need not
return to the colony at all. 'Poor Dick Shand!' he said. 'He is a
shepherd far away in the west, hardly earning better wages than an
English ploughman, and I am coming home with a pocket full of money! A
few glasses of whisky have made all the difference!'

The squire when he received this felt more of exultation than he had
ever known in his life. It seemed as though something of those
throbbings of delight which are common to most of us when we are young,
had come to him for the first time in his old age. He could not bring
himself to care in the least for Dick Shand. At last,--at last,--he was
going to have near him a companion that he could love.

'Well, yes; I suppose he has put together a little money,' he said to
Farmer Holt, when that worthy tenant asked enthusiastically as to the
truth of the rumours which were spread about as to the young squire's
success. 'I rather think he'll settle down and live in the old place
after all.'

'That's what he ought to do, squoire--that's what he ought to do,' said
Mr. Holt, almost choked by the energy of his own utterances.



Chapter XIV

Again at Home



On his arrival in England John Caldigate went instantly down to Folking.
He had come back quite fortified in his resolution of making Hester
Bolton his wife, if he should find Hester Bolton willing and if she
should have grown at all into that form and manner, into those ways of
look, of speech, and of gait, which he had pictured to himself when
thinking of her. Away at Nobble the females by whom he had been
surrounded had not been attractive to him. In all our colonies the women
are beautiful and in the large towns a society is soon created, of which
the fastidious traveller has very little ground to complain; but in the
small distant bush-towns, as they are called, the rougher elements must
predominate Our hero, though he had worn moleskin trousers and jersey
shirts, and had worked down a pit twelve hours a-day with a pickaxe, had
never reconciled himself to female roughnesses. He had condescended to
do so occasionally,--telling himself that it was his destiny to pass his
life among such surroundings; but his imagination had ever been at work
with him, and he possessed a certain aptitude for romance which told him
continually that Hester Bolton was the dream of his life, and ought to
become, if possible, the reality; and now he came back resolved to
attempt the reality,--unless he should find that the Hester Bolton of
Chesterton was altogether different from the Hester Bolton of his
dreams.

The fatted calf was killed for him in a very simple but full-hearted
way. There was no other guest to witness the meeting. 'And here you
are,' said the father.

'Yes, sir, here I am;--all that's left of me.'

'There is quite plenty,' said the father, looking at the large
proportions of his son. 'It seems but a day or two since you went;--and
yet they have been long days. I hardly expected to see you again,
John,--certainly not so soon as this; certainly not in such
circumstances. If ever a man was welcome to a house, you are welcome to
this. And now,--what do you mean to do with yourself?'

'By nine o'clock to-morrow morning you will probably find a pit opened
on the lawn, and I shall be down to the middle, looking for gold. Ah,
sir, I wish you could have known poor Mick Maggott.'

'If he would have made holes in my lawn I am glad he did not come home
with you.' This was the first conversation, but both the father and son
felt that there was a tone about it which had never before been heard
between them.

John Caldigate at this time was so altered in appearance, that they who
had not known him well might possibly have mistaken him. He was now
nearly thirty, but looked older than his age. The squareness of his brow
was squarer, and here and there through his dark brown hair there was to
be seen an early tinge of coming grey; and about his mouth was all the
decision of purpose which comes to a man when he is called upon to act
quickly on his own judgment in matters of importance; and there was that
look of self-confidence which success gives. He had thriven in all that
he had undertaken. In that gold-finding business of his he had made no
mistakes. Men who had been at it when a boy had tried to cheat him, but
had failed. He had seen into such mysteries as the business possessed
with quick glances, and had soon learned to know his way. And he had
neither gambled nor drank,--which are the two rocks on which gold-miners
are apt to wreck their vessels. All this gave him an air of power and
self-assertion which might, perhaps, have been distasteful to an
indifferent acquaintance, but which at this first meeting was very
pleasing to the father. His son was somebody,--had done something, that
son of whom he had been so thoroughly ashamed when the dealings with
Davis had first been brought to light. He had kept up his reading too;
had strong opinions of his own respecting politics; regarded the
colonies generally from a politico-economical point of view; had ideas
on social, religious, and literary subjects sufficiently alike to his
father's not to be made disagreeable by the obstinacy with which he
maintained them. He had become much darker in colour, having been, as it
seemed, bronzed through and through by colonial suns and colonial
labour. Altogether he was a son of whom any father might be proud, as
long as the father managed not to quarrel with him. Mr. Caldigate, who
during the last four years had thought very much on the subject, was
determined not to quarrel with his son.

'You asked, sir, the other day what I meant to do?'

'What are we to find to amuse you?'

'As for amusement, I could kill rats as I used to do; or slaughter a
hecatomb of pheasants at Babington,'--here the old man winced, though
the word hecatomb reconciled him a little to the disagreeable allusion.
'But it has come to me now that I want so much more than amusement. What
do you say to a farm?'

'On the estate?'--and the landlord at once began to think whether there
was any tenant who could be induced to go without injustice.

'About three times as big as the estate if I could find it. A man can
farm five thousand acres as well as fifty, I take it, if he have the
capital. I should like to cut a broad sward, or, better still, to roam
among many herds. I suppose a man should have ten pounds an acre to
begin with. The difficulty would be in getting the land.' But all this
was said half in joke; for he was still of opinion that he would, after
his year's holiday, be forced to return for a time to New South Wales.
He had fixed a price for which, up to a certain date, he would sell his
interest in the Polyeuka mine. But the price was high, and he doubted
whether he would get it; and, if not, then he must return.

He had not been long at Folking,--not as yet long enough to have made
his way into the house at Chesterton,--before annoyance arose. Mrs.
Shand was most anxious that he should go to Pollington and 'tell them
anything about poor Dick.' They did, in truth, know everything about
poor Dick; that poor Dick's money was all gone, and that poor Dick was
earning his bread, or rather his damper, mutton, and tea, wretchedly, in
the wilderness of a sheep-run in Queensland. The mother's letter was not
very piteous, did not contain much of complaint,--alluded to poor Dick
as one whose poverty was almost natural, but still it was very pressing.
The girls were so anxious to hear all the details,--particularly Maria!
The details of the life of a drunken sot are not pleasant tidings to be
poured into a mother's ear, or a sister's. And then, as they two had
gone away equal, and as he, John Caldigate, had returned rich, whereas
poor Dick was a wretched menial creature, he felt that his very presence
in England would carry with it some reproach against himself. He had in
truth been both loyal and generous to Dick; but still,--there was the
truth. He had come back as a rich man to his own country, while Dick was
a miserable Queensland shepherd. It was very well for him to tell his
father that a few glasses of whisky had made the difference; but it
would be difficult to explain this to the large circle at Pollington, and
very disagreeable even to him to allude to it. And he did not feel
disposed to discuss the subject with Maria, with that closer confidence
of which full sympathy is capable. And yet he did not know how to refuse
to pay the visit. He wrote a line to say that as soon as he was at
liberty he would run up to Pollington, but that at present business
incidental to his return made such a journey impossible.

But the letter, or letters, which he received from Babington were more
difficult to answer even than the Shand despatch. There were three of
them,--from his uncle, from Aunt Polly, and from--not Julia--but Julia's
second sister; whereby it was signified that Julia's heart was much too
heavily laden to allow her to write a simple, cousinly note. The
Babington girls were still Babington girls,--would still romp, row
boats, and play cricket; but their condition was becoming a care to
their parents. Here was this cousin come back, unmarried, with gold at
command,--not only once again his father's heir, but with means at
command which were not at all diminished by the Babington imagination.
After all that had passed in the linen-closet, what escape would there
be for him? That he should come to Babington would be a matter of
course. The real kindness which had been shown to him there as a child
would make it impossible that he should refuse.

Caldigate did feel it to be impossible to refuse. Though Aunt Polly had
on that last occasion been somewhat hard upon him, had laid snares for
him, and endeavoured to catch him as a fowler catches a bird, still
there had been the fact that she had been as a mother to him when he had
no other mother. His uncle, too, had supplied him with hunting and
shooting and fishing, when hunting and shooting and fishing were the
great joys of his life. It was incumbent on him to go to Babington,---
probably would be incumbent on him to pay a prolonged visit there. But
he certainly would not marry Julia. As to that his mind was so fixed
that even though he should have to declare his purpose with some
rudeness, still he would declare it. 'My aunt wants me to go over to
Babington,' he said to his father.

'Of course she does.'

'And I must go?'

'You know best what your own feelings are as to that. After you went,
they made all manner of absurd accusations against me. But I don't wish
to force a quarrel upon you on that account.'

'I should be sorry to quarrel with them, because they were kind to me
when I was a boy. They are not very wise.'

'I don't think I ever knew such a houseful of fools.' There was no
relationship by blood between the Squire of Folking and the Squire of
Babington; but they had married two sisters, and therefore Mrs.
Babington was Aunt Polly to John Caldigate.

'But fools may be very worthy, sir. I should say that a great many
people are fools to you.'

'Not to me especially,' said the squire, almost angrily.

'People who read no books are always fools to those who do read.'

'I deny it. Our neighbour over the water'--the middle wash was always
called the water at Folking--'never looks at a book, as far as I know,
and he is not a fool. He thoroughly understands his own business But
your uncle Babington doesn't know how to manage his own property,--and
yet he knows nothing else. That's what I call being a fool.'

'Now, I'm going to tell you a secret, sir.'

'A secret!'

'You must promise to keep it.'

'Of course I will keep it, if it ought to be kept.'

'They want me to marry Julia.'

'What!'

'My cousin Julia. It's an old affair. Perhaps it was not Davis only that
made me run away five years ago.'

'Do you mean they asked you;--or did you ask her?'

'Well; I did not ask her. I do not know that I can be more explicit.
Nevertheless it is expected; and as I do not mean to do it, you can see
that there is a difficulty.'

'I would not go near the place, John.'

'I must.'

'Then you'll have to marry her.'

'I won't.'

'Then there'll be a quarrel.'

'It may be so, but I will avoid it if possible. I must go. I could not
stay away without laying myself open to a charge of ingratitude. They
were very kind to me in the old days.' Then the subject was dropped; and
on the next morning, John wrote to his aunt saying that he would go over
to Babington after his return from London. He was going to London on
business, and would come back from London to Babington on a day which he
named. Then he resolved that he would take Pollington on his way down,
knowing that a disagreeable thing to be done is a lion in one's path
which should be encountered and conquered as soon as possible.

But there was one visit which he must pay before he went up to London.
'I think I shall ride over to-morrow and call on the Boltons,' he said
to his father.

'Of course; you can do that if you please.'

'He was a little rough to me, but he was kind. I stayed a night at his
house, and he advanced me the money.'

'As for the money, that was a matter of business. He had his security,
and, in truth, his interest. He is an honest man, and a very old friend
of mine. But perhaps I may as well tell you that he has always been a
little hard about you.'

'He didn't approve of Davis,' said the son, laughing.

'He is too prejudiced a man to forget Davis.'

'The more he thinks of Davis, the better he'll think of me if I can make
him believe that I am not likely to want a Davis again.'

'You'll find him probably at the bank about half-past two.'

'I shall go to the house. It wouldn't be civil if I didn't call on Mrs.
Bolton.'

As the squire was never in the habit of going to the house at Chesterton
himself, and as Mrs. Bolton was a lady who kept up none of the outward
ceremonies of social life, he did not quite understand this; but he made
no further objection.

On the following day, about five in the afternoon, he rode through the
iron gates, which he with difficulty caused to be opened for him, and
asked for Mrs. Bolton. When he had been here before, the winter had
commenced, and everything around had been dull and ugly; but now it was
July, and the patch before the house was bright with flowers. The roses
were in full bloom, and every morsel of available soil was bedded out
with geraniums. As he stood holding his horse by the rein while he rang
the bell, a side-door leading through the high brick wall from the
garden, which stretched away behind the house, was suddenly opened, and
a lady came through with a garden hat on, and garden gloves, and a
basket full of rose leaves in her hand. It was the lady of whom he had
never ceased to think from the day on which he had been allowed just to
touch her fingers, now five years ago.

It was she, of course, whom he had come to see, and there she was to be
seen. It was of her that he had come to form a judgment,--to tell
himself whether she was or was not such as he had dreamed her to be. He
had not been so foolishly romantic as to have been unaware that in all
probability she might have grown up to be something very different from
that which his fancy had depicted. It might or it might not come to pass
that that promise of loveliness,--of loveliness combined with innocence
and full intelligence,--should be kept. How often it is that Nature is
unkind to a girl as she grows into womanhood, and robs the attractive
child of her charms! How often will the sparkle of early youth get
itself quenched utterly by the dampness and clouds of the opening world.
He knew all that,--and knew too that he had only just seen her, had
barely heard the voice which had sounded so silvery sweet in his ears.

But there she was,--to be seen again, to be heard, if possible, and to
receive his judgment. 'Miss Bolton,' he said, coming down the stone
steps which he had ascended, that he might ring the bell, and offering
her his hand.

'Mr. Caldigate!'

'You remember me, then?'

'Oh yes, I remember you very well. I do not see people often enough to
forget them. And papa said that you were coming home.'

'I have come at once to call upon your mother and your father,--and upon
you. I have to thank him for great kindness to me before I went.'

'Poor mamma is not quite well,' said the daughter. 'She has headaches so
often, and she has one now. And papa has not come back from the bank. I
have been gardening and am all----.' Then she stopped and blushed, as
though ashamed of herself for saying so much.

'I am sorry Mrs. Bolton is unwell. I will not go the ceremony of leaving
a card, as I hope to able to come again to thank her for her kindness
before I went on my travels. Will you tell your father that I called?'
Then he mounted his horse, feeling, as he did so, that he was throwing
away an opportunity which kind fortune had given him. There they were
together, he and this girl of whom he had dreamed;--and now he was
leaving her, because he did not know how to hold her in conversation for
ten minutes! But it was true, and he had to leave her. He could not
instantly tell her how he admired her, how he loved her, how he had
thought of her, and how completely she had realised all his fondest
dreams. When on his horse, he turned round, and, lifting his hat to her,
took a last glance. It could not have been otherwise, he said to
himself. He had been sure that she would grow up to be exactly that
which he had found her. To have supposed that Nature could have been
untrue to such promises as had been made then, would have been to
suppose Nature a liar.

Just outside the gate he met the old banker, who, according to his daily
custom, had walked back from the town. 'Yes,' said Mr. Bolton, 'I
remember you,--I remember you very well. So you found a lot of gold?'

'I got some.'

'You have been one of the few fortunate, I hear. I hope you will be able
to keep it, and to make a good use of it. My compliments to your father.
Good evening.'

'I shall take an early opportunity of paying my respects again to Mrs.
Bolton, who, I am sorry to hear, is not well enough to see me,' said
Caldigate, preventing the old curmudgeon from escaping with his intended
rapidity.

'She is unfortunately often an invalid, sir,--and feels therefore that
she has no right to exact from any one the ceremony of morning visits.
Good evening sir.'

But he cared not much for this coldness. Having found where the gold lay
at this second Ahalala,--that the gold was real gold,--he did not doubt
but that he would be able to make good his mining operations.



Chapter XV

Again At Pollington



On his arrival at Pollington, all the Shands welcomed him as though he
had been the successful son or successful brother who had gone out from
among them; and spoke of 'Poor Dick' as being the unsuccessful son or
unsuccessful brother,--as indeed he was. There did not seem to be the
slightest anger against him, in that he had thriven and had left Dick
behind him in such wretched poverty. There was no just ground for anger,
indeed. He was well aware of that. He had done his duty by Dick to the
best of his ability. But fathers and mothers are sometimes apt to think
that more should be done for their own children than a friend's best
ability can afford. These people, however, were reasonable. 'Poor Dick!'
'Isn't it sad?' 'I suppose when he's quite far away in the bush like
that he can't get it,'--by which last miserable shred of security the
poor mother allowed herself to be in some degree comforted.

'Now I want you to tell me,' said the father, when they were alone
together on the first evening, 'what is really his condition?'

'He was a shepherd when I last heard about him.'

'He wrote to his mother by the last mail, asking whether something
cannot be done for him. He was a shepherd then. What is a shepherd?'

'A man who goes about with the sheep all day, and brings them up to a
camp at night. He may probably be a week without seeing a human being,
That is the worst of it.'

'How is he fed?'

'Food is brought out to his hut,--perhaps once a week, perhaps once a
fortnight,--so much meat, so much flour, so much tea, and so much sugar.
And he has thirty or thirty-five pounds a-year besides.'

'Paid weekly?'

'No;--perhaps quarterly, perhaps half-yearly. He can do nothing with his
money as long as he is there. If he wants a pair of boots or a new
shirt, they send it out to him from the store, and his employer charges
him with the price. It is a poor life, sir.'

'Very poor. Now tell me, what can we do for him?'

'It is an affair of money.'

'But is it an affair of money, Mr. Caldigate? Is it not rather an affair
of drink? He has had his money,--more than his share; more than he ought
to have had. But even though I were able to send him more, what good
would it do him?'

This was a question very difficult to answer. Caldigate had been forced
to answer it to himself in reference to his own conduct. He had sent
money to his former friend, and could without much damage to himself
have sent more. Latterly he had been in that condition as to money in
which a man thinks nothing of fifty pounds,--that condition which
induces one man to shoe his horse with gold, and another to chuck his
bank-notes about like half-crowns. The condition is altogether opposed
to the regulated prudence of confirmed wealth. Caldigate had stayed his
hand in regard to Dick Shand simply because the affair had been one not
of money but of drink. 'I suppose a man may be cured by the absence of
liquor?'

'By the enforced absence?'

'No doubt they often break out again. I hardly know what to say, sir. If
you think that money will do good,--money, that is, in moderation,--I
will advance it. He and I started together, and I am sometimes aghast
with myself when I think of the small matter which, like the point on a
railway, sent me running rapidly on to prosperity,--while the same
point, turned wrong, hurried him to ruin. I have taken my glass of grog,
too, my two glasses,--or perhaps more. But that which would elate him
into some fury of action would not move me. It was something nature did
for me rather than virtue. I am a rich man, and he is a shepherd,
because something was put into my stomach capable of digesting bad
brandy, which was not put into his.'

'A man has more than one chance. When he found how it was with him, he
should have abstained. A man must pay the fine of his own weakness.'

'Oh, yes. It is all understood somewhere, I suppose, though we don't
understand it. I tell you what it is, Dr. Shand. If you think that five
hundred pounds left with you can be of any assistance, you can have it.'

But the doctor seemed to doubt whether the money would do any good, and
refused to take it, at any rate for the present. What could he do with
it, if he did take it? 'I fear that he must lie upon his bed as he has
made it,' said the doctor sorrowfully. 'It is a complaint which money
cannot cure, but can always exaggerate. If, without costing myself or my
family a shilling, I could put a thousand pounds into his hands
to-morrow, I do not know whether I ought to do it.'

'You will remember my offer.'

The doctor thanked him, and said that he would remember. So the
conversation was ended, and the doctor went about the ordinary
occupation of his life, apparently without any settled grief at his
heart. He had done his duty by his son, and that sufficed,--or almost
sufficed, for him.

Then came the mother's turn. Could anything be sent to the poor lost
one,--to poor Dick? Clothes ran chiefly in her mind. If among them they
could make up a dozen of shirts, would there be any assured means of
getting them conveyed safely to Dick's shepherd-hut out in the
Queensland bush? In answer to this Caldigate would fain have explained,
had it been possible, that Dick would not care much for a dozen new
shirts,--that they would be to him, even if received, almost as little a
source of comfort as would be a ton of Newcastle coals. He had sunk
below shirts by the dozen; almost below single shirts, such as Mrs.
Shand and her daughters would be able to fabricate. Some upper flannel
garment, and something in the nature of trousers, with a belt round his
middle, and an old straw-hat would be all the wardrobe required by him.
Men by dint of misery rise above the need of superfluities. The poor
wretch whom you see rolling himself, as it were, at the corner of the
street within his old tattered filthy coat, trying to extract something
more of life and warmth out of the last glass of gin which he has
swallowed, is by no means discomposed because he has no clean linen for
the morrow. All this Caldigate understood thoroughly;--but there was a
difficulty in explaining it to Dick Shand's mother. 'I think there would
be some trouble about the address,' he said.

'But you must know so many people out there.'

'I have never been in Queensland myself, and have no acquaintance with
squatters. But that is not all, Mrs. Shand.'

'What else? You can tell me. Of course I know what it is that he has
come to. I don't blind myself to it, Mr. Caldigate, even though I am his
mother. But I am his mother; and if I could comfort him, just a
little----'

'Clothes are not what he wants;--of clothes he can get what is
necessary, poor as he is.'

'What is it he wants most?'

'Somebody to speak to;--some one to be kind to him.'

'My poor boy!'

'As he has fallen to what he is now, so can he rise again if he can find
courage to give his mind to it. I think that if you write to him and
tell him so, that will be better than sending him shirts. The doctor has
been talking to me about money for him.'

'But, Mr. Caldigate, he couldn't drink the shirts out there in the bush.
Here, where there is a pawn-broker at all the corners, they drink
everything.'

He had promised to stay two days at Pollington and was of course aware
of the dangers among which he walked. Maria had been by no means the
first to welcome him. All the other girls had presented themselves
before her. And when at last she did come forward she was very shy. The
eldest daughter had married her clergyman though he was still only a
curate; and the second had been equally successful with Lieutenant
Postlethwaite though the lieutenant had been obliged in consequence to
leave the army and to earn his bread by becoming agent to a soap-making
company. Maria Shand was still Maria Shand, and was it not too probable
that she had remained so for the sake of that companion who had gone
away with her darling brother Dick? 'Maria has been thinking so much
about your coming,' said the youngest,--not the girl who had been
impertinent and ill-behaved before, for she had since become a grown-up
Miss Shand, and had a young attorney of her own on hand, and was
supposed to be the one of the family most likely to carry her pigs to a
good market,--but the youngest of them all who had been no more than a
child when he had been at Pollington before. 'I hope she is at home,'
said Caldigate 'At home! Of course she's at home. She wouldn't be away
when you're coming!'

The Shands were demonstrative, always;--and never hypocritical. Here it
was; told at once,--the whole story. He was to atone for having left
Dick in the lurch by marrying Maria. There did seem to him to be a
certain amount of justice in the idea; but then, unfortunately, it could
not be carried out. If there were nothing else against it but the
existence of the young lady at Chesterton, that alone would have been
sufficient. And then, though Maria Shand was very well, though, no
doubt, she would make a true and loving wife to any husband, though
there had been a pretty touch of feeling about the Thomson's
'Seasons,'--still, still, she was not all that he fancied that a wife
should be. He was quite willing to give £500 for Dick; but after that he
thought that he would have had almost enough of the Shands. He could not
marry Maria, and so he must say plainly if called upon to declare
himself in the matter. There was an easiness about the family generally
which enabled him to hope that the difficulty would be light. It would
be as nothing compared with that coming scene between himself and aunt
Polly, perhaps between himself and his uncle Babington, or
perhaps,--worse again,--between himself and Julia!

When he found himself alone with Maria in the drawing-room on the
following morning, he almost thought that it must have been arranged by
the family. 'Doesn't it seem almost no time since you went away,' said
the young lady.

'It has gone quickly;--but a great deal has been done.'

'I suppose so. Poor Dick!'

'Yes, indeed! Poor fellow! We can only hope about Dick. I have been
speaking to your father about him.'

'Of course we all know that you did your very best for him. He has said
so himself when he has written. But you;--you have been fortunate.'

'Yes, I have done very well. There is so much chance at it that there is
nothing to be proud of.'

'I am sure there is a great deal;--cleverness, and steadiness, and
courage, and all that. We were delighted to hear it, though poor Dick
could not share it with you. You have made an immense fortune.'

'Oh dear no,--not that. I have been able to get over the little
difficulties which I left behind me when I went away, and have got
something in hand to live upon.'

'And now----?'

'I suppose I shall go back again,' said Caldigate, with an air of
indifference.

'Go back again!' said Maria, who had not imagined this. But still a man
going back to Australia might take a wife with him. She would not object
to the voyage. Her remembrance of the evening on which she had crept
down and put the little book into his valise was so strong that she felt
herself to be justified in being in love with him. 'But not for always?'

'Certainly not;--but just to wind up affairs.'

It would be no more than a pleasant wedding-tour,--and, perhaps, she
could do something for poor Dick. She could take the shirts so far on
their destination.

'Oh, Mr. Caldigate, how well I remember that last night!'

'So indeed, do I,--and the book.' The hardship upon the moth is that
though he has already scorched himself terribly in the flame, and burned
up all the tender fibre of his wings, yet he can't help returning to the
seductions of the tallow-candle till his whole body has become a
wretched cinder. Why should he have been the first to speak of the book?

Of course she blushed, and of course she stammered But in spite of her
stammering she could say a word. 'I dare say you never looked at it.'

'Indeed I did,--very often. Once when Dick saw it in my hands, he wanted
to take it away from me.'

'Poor Dick!'

'But I have never parted with it for an hour!'

'Where is it now?' she asked.

'Here,' said Caldigate, pulling it out of the breast-pocket of his
coat. If he had had the presence of mind to say that he had lent the
book to another young lady, and that she had never returned it, there
might probably have been an end of this little trouble at once. But when
the little volume appeared, just as though it had been kept close to his
heart during all these four years, of course she was entitled to hope.
He had never opened the book since that morning in his cabin, not caring
for the academic beauties of Thomson's 'Seasons;'--had never looked at
it till it had occurred to him as proper that he should take it with him
to Pollington. Now he brought it out of his pocket, and she put out her
hand to receive it from him. 'You are not going to take it back again?'

'Certainly not if it be of any value to you?'

'Do you not value the presents which your friends make you?'

'If I care for the friends, I do.'

'As I care very much for this friend I shall keep the book.'

'I don't think that can be true, Mr. Caldigate?'

He was painfully near the blaze;--determined not to be burned, and yet
with no powers of flying away from the candle into the farthest corner
of the room. 'Why not true? I have kept it hitherto. It has been with me
in many very strange places.'

Then there was a pause,--while he thought of escaping, and she of
utilising the occasion. And yet it was not in her nature to be
unmaidenly or aggressive Only if he did like her it would be so very
nice, and it is so often the case that men want a little encouragement!
'I dare say you thought more of the book than the donor.'

'That is intended to be unkind.'

'No;--certainly not. I can never be unkind to a friend who has been so
very good as you were to poor Dick. Whatever else may happen, I
shall,--never,--forget--that.' By this time there was a faint sound of
sobbing to be heard, and then she turned away her face that she might
wipe a tear from her eyes. It was a real tear, and a real sob, and she
really thought that she was in love with him.

'I know I ought not to have come here,' he said.

'Why not?' she asked energetically.

'Because my coming would give rise to so much sadness about your
brother.'

'I am so glad you have come,--so very glad. Of course we wanted to hear.
And besides----'

'What besides?'

'Papa and mamma, and all of them, are so glad to see you. We never
forget old friends.' Then again there was silence. 'Never,' she
repeated, as she rose from her chair slowly and went out of the room.
Though he had fluttered flamewards now and again, though he had shown
some moth-like aptitudes, he had not shown himself to be a downright,
foolish, blind-eyed moth, determined to burn himself to a cinder as a
moth should do. And she;--she was weak. Having her opportunity at
command, she went away and left him, because she did not know what more
to say. She went away to her own bedroom, and cried, and had a headache,
during the remainder of the day. And yet there was no other day!

Late that evening, just at the hour when, on the previous night, he was
closeted with the father, he found himself closeted with the mother.
'She has never forgotten you for one moment since you left us,' said the
mother. Mrs. Shand had rushed into the subject so quickly that these
were almost the first words she said to him. He remained quite quiet,
looking out from the open window into the moonlight. When a distinct
proposition was made to him like this, he certainly would not be a moth.
'I don't know whether you have thought of her too, Mr. Caldigate.' He
only shook his head. 'That is so?'

'I hope you do not think that I have been to blame in any way,' he said,
with a conscience somewhat stricken;--for he remembered well that he
had kissed the young lady on that evening four years ago.

'Oh no. I have no complaint to make. My poor child! It is a pity. But I
have nothing more to say. It must be so then?'

'I am the least settled man in all the world, Mrs. Shand.'

'But at some future time?'

'I fear not. My mind is intent on other things.' So it was;--intent on
Hester Bolton! But the statement as he made it, was certainly false, for
it was intended to deceive. Mrs. Shand shook hands with him kindly,
however, as she sent him away to bed, telling him that breakfast should
be ready for him at eight the next morning.

His train left Pollington at nine, and at eight the doctor with all his
family were there to greet him at the breakfast-table,--with all the
family except Maria. The mother, in the most natural tone in the world,
said that poor Maria had a headache and could not come down. They filled
his plate with eggs and bacon and toast, and were as good to him as
though he had blighted no hopes and broken no heart. He whispered one
word at going to the doctor. 'Pray remember that whenever you think the
money can be of use, it is there. I consider that I owe him quite as
much as that.' The father grasped his hand, and all of them blessed him
as he went.

'If I can only get away from Babington as easily!' he said to himself,
as he took his place in the railway carriage.



Chapter XVI

Again at Babington



The affair of Julia Babington had been made to him in set terms, and
had, if not accepted, not been at once refused. No doubt this had
occurred four years ago, and, if either of them had married since, they
would have met each other without an unpleasant reminiscence. But they
had not done so, and there was no reason why the original proposition
should not hold good. After escaping from Babington he had, indeed,
given various reasons why such a marriage was impossible. He had sold
his inheritance. He was a ruined man. He was going out to Australia as a
simple miner. It was only necessary for him to state all this, and it
became at once evident that he was below the notice of Julia Babington.
But everything had been altered since that. He had regained his
inheritance, he had come back a rich man, and he was more than ever
indebted to the family because of the violent fight they had made on his
behalf, just as he was going. As he journeyed to Babington all this was
clear to him; and it was clear to him also that, from his first entrance
into the house, he must put on an air of settled purpose, he must gird
up his loins seriously, he must let it be understood that he was not as
he used to be, ready for worldly lectures from his aunt, or for romping
with his female cousins, or for rats, or rabbits, or partridges, with
the male members of the family. The cares of the world must be seen to
sit heavy on him, and at the very first mention of a British wife he
must declare himself to be wedded to Polyeuka.

At Babington he was received with many fatted calves. The whole family
were there to welcome him, springing out upon him and dragging him out
of the fly as soon as he had entered the park gates. Aunt Polly almost
fainted as she was embracing him under an oak tree; and tears, real
tears, ran down the squire's face as he shook both his nephew's hands at
once. 'By George,' said the Babington heir, 'you're the luckiest fellow
I ever heard of! We all thought Folking was gone for good.' As though
the possessions of Folking were the summit of human bliss! Caldigate
with all the girls around him could not remonstrate with words, but his
spirit did remonstrate. 'Oh, John, we are so very, very, very, very glad
to have you back again,' said Julia, sobbing and laughing at the same
time. He had kissed them all of course, and now Julia was close to his
elbow as he walked up to the house.

In the midst of all this there was hardly opportunity for that
deportment which he meant to exercise. When fatted calves are being
killed for you by the dozen, it is very difficult to repudiate the good
nature of the slaughterers. Little efforts he did make even before he
got to the house. 'I hardly know how I stand just yet,' he had said, in
answer to his uncle's congratulations as to his wealth. 'I must go out
again at any rate.'

'Back to Australia?' asked his aunt.

'I fear so. It is a kind of business,--gold-mining,--in which it is very
hard for a man to know what he's worth. A claim that has been giving you
a thousand pounds net every month for two years past, comes all of
sudden a great deal worse than valueless. You can't give it up, and you
have to throw back your thousands in profitless work.'

'I wouldn't do that,' said the squire.

'I'd stick to what I'd got,' said the Babington heir.

'It is a very difficult business,' said Caldigate, with a considerable
amount of deportment, and an assumed look of age,--as though the cares
of gold-seeking had made him indifferent to all the lighter joys of
existence.

'But you mean to live at Folking?' asked Aunt Polly.

'I should think probably not. But a man situated as I am, never can say
where he means to live.'

'But you are to have Folking?' whispered the squire,--whispered it so
that all the party heard the words;--whispering not from reticence but
excitement.

'That's the idea at present,' said the Folking heir. 'But Polyeuka is so
much more to me than Folking. A gold mine with fifty or sixty thousand
pounds worth of plant about it, Aunt Polly, is an imperious mistress.'
In all this our hero was calumniating himself. Polyeuka and the plant he
was willing to abandon on very moderate terms, and had arranged to wipe
his hands of the whole concern if those moderate terms were accepted.
But cousin Julia and aunt Polly were enemies against whom it was
necessary to assume whatever weapons might come to his hand.

He had arranged to stay a week at Babington. He had considered it all
very deeply, and had felt that as two days was the least fraction of
time which he could with propriety devote to the Shands, so must he give
at least a week to Babington. There was, therefore, no necessity for any
immediate violence on the part of the ladies. The whole week might
probably have been allowed to pass without absolute violence, had he not
shown by various ways that he did not intend to make many visits to the
old haunts of his childhood before his return to Australia. When he said
that he should not hunt in the coming winter; that he feared his hand
was out for shooting; that he had an idea of travelling on the Continent
during the autumn; and that there was no knowing when he might be
summoned back to Polyeuka, of course there came across Aunt Polly's
mind,--and probably also across Julia's mind,--an idea that he meant to
give them the slip again. On the former occasion he had behaved badly.
This was their opinion. But, as it had turned out, his circumstances at
the moment were such as to make his conduct pardonable. He had been
harassed by the importunities both of his father and of Davis; and
that, under such circumstances, he should have run away from his
affianced bride, was almost excusable, But now----! It was very
different now. Something must be settled. It was very well to talk about
Polyeuka. A man who has engaged himself in business must, no doubt,
attend to it. But married men can attend to business quite as well as
they who are single. At any rate, there could be no reason why the
previous engagement should not be consolidated and made a family affair.
There was felt to be something almost approaching to resistance in what
he had said and done already. Therefore Aunt Polly flew to her weapons,
and summoned Julia also to take up arms. He must be bound at once with
chains, but the chains were made as soft as love and flattery could make
them. Aunt Polly was almost angry,--was prepared to be very angry;--but
not the less did she go on killing fatted calves.

There were archery meetings at this time through the country, the period
of the year being unfitted for other sports. It seemed to Caldigate as
though all the bows and all the arrows had been kept specially for
him,--as though he was the great toxophilite of the age,--whereas no man
could have cared less for the amusement than he. He was carried here and
was carried there; and then there was a great gathering in their own
park at home. But it always came to pass that he and Julia were shooting
together,--as though it were necessary that she should teach him,--that
she should make up by her dexterity for what was lost by his
awkwardness,--that she by her peculiar sweetness should reconcile him to
his new employment. Before the week was over, there was a feeling among
all the dependants at Babington, and among many of the neighbours, that
everything was settled, and that Miss Julia was to be the new mistress
of Folking.

Caldigate knew that it was so. He perceived the growth of the feeling
from day to day. He could not say that he would not go to the meetings,
all of which had been arranged beforehand. Nor could he refuse to stand
up beside his cousin Julia and shoot his arrows directly after she had
shot hers. Nor could he refrain from acknowledging that though she was
awkward in a drawing-room, she was a buxom young woman dressed in green
with a feather in her hat and a bow in her hand; and then she could
always shoot her arrows straight into the bull's-eye. But he was well
aware that the new hat had been bought specially for him, and that the
sharpest arrow from her quiver was intended to be lodged in his heart.
He was quite determined that any such shooting as that should be
unsuccessful.

'Has he said anything?' the mother asked the daughter. 'Not a word.'
This occurred on the Sunday night. He had reached Babington on the
previous Tuesday, and was to go to Folking on next Tuesday. 'Not a
word.' The reply was made in a tone almost of anger. Julia did believe
that her cousin had been engaged to her, and that she actually had a
right to him, now that he had come back, no longer ruined.

'Some men never do,' said Aunt Polly, not wishing to encourage her
daughter's anger just at present. 'Some men are never left alone with a
girl for half a moment, but what they are talking stuff and nonsense.
Others never seem to think about it in the least. But whether it's the
one or whether it's the other, it makes no difference afterwards. He
never had much talk of that kind. I'll just say a word to him, Julia.'

The saying of the word was put off till late on Sunday evening. Sunday
was rather a trying day at Babington. If hunting, shooting, fishing,
croquet, lawn-billiards, bow and arrows, battledore and shuttle-cock,
with every other game, as games come up and go, constitute a worldly
kind of life, the Babingtons were worldly. There surely never was a
family in which any kind of work was so wholly out of the question, and
every amusement so much a matter of course. But if worldliness and
religion are terms opposed to each other, then they were not worldly.
There were always prayers for the whole household morning and evening.
There were two services on Sunday, at the first of which the males, and
at both of which the females, were expected to attend. But the great
struggle came after dinner at nine o'clock, when Aunt Polly always read
a sermon out loud to the assembled household. Aunt Polly had a certain
power of her own, and no one dared to be absent except the single
servant who was left in the kitchen to look after the fire.

The squire himself was always there, but a peculiar chair was placed for
him, supposed to be invisible to the reader, in which he slept during
the whole time, subject to correction from a neighbouring daughter in
the event of his snoring. An extra bottle of port after dinner was
another Sunday observance which added to the irritability of the
occasion,--so that the squire, when the reading and prayers were over,
would generally be very cross, and would take himself up to bed almost
without a word, and the brothers would rush away almost with indecent
haste to their smoking. As the novels had all been put away into a
cupboard, and the good books which were kept for the purpose strewed
about in place of them, and as knitting, and even music, were tabooed,
the girls, having nothing to do, would also go away at an early hour.

'John, would you mind staying a few moments with me?' said Aunt Polly,
in her softest voice when Caldigate was hurrying after his male cousins.
He knew that the hour had come, and he girded up his loins.

'Come nearer, John,' she said,--and he came nearer, so that she could
put her hand upon his. 'Do you remember, John, when you and I and Julia
were together in that little room up-stairs?' There was so much pathos
in her voice, she did her acting so well, that his respect for her was
greatly augmented,--as was also his fear. 'She remembers it very well.'

'Of course I remember it, Aunt Polly. It's one of those things that a
man doesn't forget.'

'A man ought not to forget such a scene as that,' she said, shaking her
head. 'A man would be very hard of heart if he could forget it.'

Now must be the moment for his exertion! She had spoken so plainly as to
leave no doubt of her meaning, and she was pausing for an answer; yet he
hesitated,--not in his purpose, but doubting as to his own manner of
declaring it. He must be very decided. Upon that he was resolved. He
would be decided, though they should drag him in pieces with wild horses
for it afterwards. But he would fain be gentle with his aunt if it were
possible. 'My dear Aunt Polly, it won't do; I'm not going to be caught,
and so you may as well give it over.' That was what he wished her to
understand;--but he would not say it in such language. Much was due to
her, though she was struggling to catch him in a trap. 'When I had made
such a fool of myself before I went--about money,' he said, 'I thought
that was all over.'

'But you have made anything but a fool of yourself since,' she replied
triumphantly; 'you have gone out into the world like a man, and have
made your fortune, and have so returned that everybody is proud of you.
Now you can take a wife to yourself and settle down, and be a happy
goodman.'

It was exactly his view of life;--only there was a difference about the
wife to be taken. He certainly had never said a word to his cousin which
could justify this attack upon him. The girl had been brought to him in
a cupboard, and he had been told that he was to marry her! And that when
he had been young and drowned with difficulties. How is a man ever to
escape if he must submit under such circumstances as these? 'My dear
Aunt Polly, I had better tell you at once that I cannot marry my cousin
Julia.' Those were the words which he did speak, and as he spoke there
was a look about his eyes and his mouth which ought to have made her
know that there was no hope.

'And why not? John Caldigate, is this you that I hear?'

'Why should I?'

'Because you promised it.'

'I never did, Aunt Polly.'

'And because she loves you.'

'Even if it were so, am I to be bound by that? But, indeed, indeed, I
never even suggested it,--never thought of it. I am very fond of my
cousin, very fond of all my cousins. But marriage is a different thing.
I am inclined to think that cousins had better not marry.'

'You should have said that before. But it is nonsense. Cousins marry
every day. There is nothing about it either in the Bible or the
Prayer-book. She will die.'

Aunt Polly said this in a tone of voice which made it a matter of regret
that she should not have been educated for Drury Lane. But as she said
it, he could not avoid thinking of Julia's large ankles, and red cheeks,
and of the new green hat and feather. A girl with large ankles is, one
may suppose, as liable to die for love as though she were as fine about
her feet as a thorough-bred filly; and there is surely no reason why a
true heart and a pair of cherry cheeks should not go together. But our
imagination has created ideas in such matters so fixed, that it is
useless to contend against them. In our endeavours to produce effects,
these ideas should be remembered and obeyed. 'I hope not on that
account,' said Caldigate, and as he uttered the words some slightest
suspicion of a smile crossed his face.

Then Aunt Polly blazed forth in wrath. 'And at such a moment as this
you can laugh!'

'Indeed, I did not laugh;--I am very far from laughing, Aunt Polly.'

'Because I am anxious for my child, my child whom you have deceived, you
make yourself merry with me!'

'I am not merry. I am miserably unhappy because of all this. But I
cannot admit that I have deceived my cousin. All that was settled, I
thought, when I went away. But coming back at the end of four years, of
four such long years, with very different ideas of life----'

'What ideas?'

'Well,--at any rate, with ideas of having my own way,--I cannot submit
myself to this plan of yours, which, though it would have given me so
much----'

'It would give you everything, sir.'

'Granted! But I cannot take everything. It is better that we should
understand each other, so that my cousin, for whom I have the most
sincere regard, should not be annoyed.'

'Much you care!'

'What shall I say?'

'It signifies nothing what you say. You are a false man. You have
inveigled your cousin's affections, and now you say that you can do
nothing for her. This comes from the sort of society you have kept out
at Botany Bay! I suppose a man's word there is worth nothing, and that
the women are of such a kind they don't mind it. It is not the way with
gentlemen here in England; let me tell you that!' Then she stalked out
of the room, leaving him either to go to bed, or join the smokers or to
sit still and repent at his leisure, as he might please. His mind,
however, was chiefly occupied for the next half-hour with thinking
whether it would be possible for him to escape from Babington on the
following morning.

Before the morning he had resolved that, let the torment of the day be
what it might, he would bear it,--unless by chance he might be turned
out of the house. But no tragedy such as that came to relieve him. Aunt
Polly gave him his tea at breakfast with a sternly forbidding look,--and
Julia was as cherry-cheeked as ever, though very silent. The killing of
calves was over, and he was left to do what he pleased during the whole
day. One spark of comfort came to him. 'John, my boy,' said his uncle in
a whisper, 'what's the matter between you and Madame?' Mr. Babington
would sometimes call his wife Madame when he was half inclined to laugh
at her. Caldigate of course declared that there was nothing wrong. The
squire shook his head and went away. But from this it appeared to
Caldigate that the young lady's father was not one of the
conspirators,--by ascertaining which his mind was somewhat relieved.

On the next morning the fly came for him, and he went away without any
kisses. Upon the whole he was contented with both his visits, and was
inclined to assure himself that a man has only to look a difficulty in
the face, and that the difficulty will be difficult no longer.



Chapter XVII

Again at Puritan Grange



As Caldigate travelled home to Folking he turned many things in his
mind. In the first place he had escaped, and that to him was a matter of
self-congratulation. He had declared his purpose in reference to his
cousin Julia very clearly;--and though he had done so he had not
quarrelled utterly with the family. As far as the young lady's father
was concerned or her brothers, there had been no quarrel at all. The
ill-will against him was confined to the women. But as he thought of it
all, he was not proud of himself. He had received great kindness from
their hands, and certainly owed them much in return. When he had been a
boy he had been treated almost as one of the family;--but as he had not
been quite one of them, would it not have been natural that he should be
absorbed in the manner proposed? And then he could not but admit to
himself that he had been deficient in proper courage when he had been
first caught and taken into the cupboard. On that occasion he had
neither accepted nor rejected the young lady; and in such a matter as
this silence certainly may be supposed to give consent. Though he
rejoiced in his escape he was not altogether proud of his conduct in
reference to his friends at Babington.

Would it not have been better that he should have told his aunt frankly
that his heart was engaged elsewhere? The lady's name would have been
asked, and the lady's name could not have been given. But he might in
this way have prepared the way for the tidings which would have to be
communicated should he finally be successful with Hester Bolton. Now
such news would reach them as an aggravation of the injury. For that,
however, there could be no remedy. The task at present before him was
that of obtaining a footing in the house at Chesterton, and the more he
thought of it the more he was at a loss to know how to set about it.
They could not intend to shut such a girl up, through all her young
years, as in a convent. There must be present to the minds of both of
them an idea that marriage would be good for her, or, at any rate, that
she should herself have some choice in the matter. And if there were to
be any son-in-law why should not he have as good a chance as any other?
When they should learn how constantly the girl's image had been present
to his mind, so far away, during so many years, under such hard
circumstances would not that recommend him to them? Had he not proved
himself to be steady, industrious, and a good man of business? In regard
to position and fortune was he not such as a father would desire for
his daughter? Having lost his claim to Folking, had he not regained
it;--and in doing so had he not shown himself to be something much more
than merely the heir to Folking? An immediate income would, of course,
be necessary;--but there was money enough. He would ask the old man for
nothing. Reports said that though the old man had been generous to his
own sons, still he was fond of money. He should have the opportunity of
bestowing his daughter in marriage without being asked for a shilling.
And then John Caldigate bethought himself with some pride that he could
make a proper settlement on his wife without burdening the estate at
Folking with any dowers. But of what use would be all this if he could
not get at the girl to tell her that he loved her?

He might, indeed, get at the father and tell his purpose plainly and
honestly. But he thought that his chance of prevailing with the girl
might be better than with the father. In such cases it is so often the
daughter who prevails with her own parents after she has surrendered her
own heart. The old man had looked at him sternly, had seemed even in
that moment of time to disapprove of him. But the girl----. Well; in
such an interview as that there had not been much scope for approval.
Nor was he a man likely to flatter himself that any girl could fall in
love with him at first sight. But she had not looked sternly at him. In
the few words which she had spoken her voice had been very sweet. Both
of them had said they remembered him after the long interval that had
passed;--but the manner of saying so had been very different. He was
almost sure that the old man would be averse to him, though he could
tell himself personally that there was no just cause for such aversion.
But if this were so, he could not forward his cause by making his offer
through the father.

'Well, John, how has it gone with you at Babington?' his father asked
almost as soon as they were together.

It had not been difficult to tell his father of the danger before he
made his visit, but now he hesitated before he could avow that the young
lady's hand had again been offered to him. 'Pretty well, sir. We had a
good deal of archery and that kind of thing. It was rather slow.'

'I should think so. Was there nothing besides the archery?'

'Not much.'

'The young lady was not troublesome?'

'Perhaps the less we say about it the better, sir. They were very kind
to me when I was a boy.'

'I have nothing to say at all, unless I am to be called on to welcome
her as a daughter-in-law.'

'You will not have to do that, sir.'

'I suppose, John, you mean to marry some day,' said the father after a
pause. Then it occurred to the son that he must have some one whom he
could trust in this matter which now occupied his mind, and that no one
probably might be so able to assist him as his father. 'I wish I knew
what your idea of life is,' continued Mr. Caldigate. 'I fear you will be
growing tired of this place, and that when you get back to your
gold-mines you will stay there.'

'There is no fear of that. I do not love the place well enough.'

'If you were settled here, I should feel more comfortable. I sometimes
think, John, that if you would fix yourself I would give the property up
to you altogether and go away with my books into some town. Cambridge,
perhaps, would do as well as any other.'

'You must never do that, sir. You must not leave Folking. But as for
myself,--I have ideas about my own life.'

'Are they such that you can tell them?'

'Yes;--you shall hear them all. But I shall expect you to help me;--or
at least not turn against me?'

'Turn against you, John! I hope I may never have to do that again. What
is that you mean?' This he said very seriously. There was usually in his
voice something of a tone of banter,--a subdued cynicism,--which had
caused everybody near him to be afraid of him, and which even yet was
habitual to him. But now that was all gone. Was there to be any new
source of trouble betwixt him and his son?

'I intend to ask Hester Bolton to be my wife,' said John Caldigate.

The father, who was standing in the library, slapped both his hands down
upon the table. 'Hester Bolton!'

'Is there any objection?'

'What do you know about her? Why;--she's a child.'

'She is nearly twenty, sir.'

'Have you ever seen her?'

'Yes, I have seen her,--twice. I daresay you'll think it very absurd,
but I have made up my mind about it. If I say that I was thinking about
it all the time I was in Australia, of course you will laugh at me.'

'I will not laugh at you at all, John.'

'If any one else were to say so to me, I should laugh at them. But yet
it was so. Have you ever seen her?'

'I suppose I have. I think I remember a little girl.'

'For beauty I have never seen anybody equal to her,' said the lover. 'I
wish you'd go over to Chesterton and judge for yourself.'

'They wouldn't know what such a thing meant. It is years since I have
been in the house. I believe that Mrs. Bolton devotes herself to
religious exercises and that she regards me as a pagan.'

'That's just the difficulty, sir. How am I to get at her? But you may be
sure of this, I mean to do it. If I were beat I do think that then I
should go back and bury myself in the gold-mines. You asked me what I
meant to do about my future life. That is my purpose. If she were my
wife I should consult her. We might travel part of the time, and I might
have a farm. I should always look upon Folking as home. But till that
is settled, when you ask me what I mean to do with my life, I can only
say that I mean to marry Hester Bolton.'

'Did you tell them at Babington?'

'I have told nobody but you. How am I to set about it?'

Then Mr. Caldigate sat down and began to scratch his head and to
consider. 'I don't suppose they ever go out anywhere.'

'I don't think they do;--except to church.'

'You can't very well ask her there. You can always knock at the
house-door.'

'I can call again once;--but what if I am refused then? It is of no use
knocking if a man does not get in.' After a little more conversation the
squire was so far persuaded that he assented to the proposed marriage as
far as his assent was required; but he did not see his way to give any
assistance. He could only suggest that his son should go direct to the
father and make his proposition in the old-fashioned legitimate fashion.
But when it was put to him whether Mr. Bolton would not certainly reject
the offer unless it were supported by some goodwill on the part of his
own daughter, he acknowledged that it might probably be so. 'You see,'
said the squire, 'he believes in gold, but he doesn't believe in
gold-mines.'

'It is that accursed Davis that stands against me,' said the son.

John Caldigate, no doubt, had many things to trouble him. Before he had
resolved on making his second visit to Chesterton, he received a most
heartrending epistle from Aunt Polly in which he was assured that he was
quite as dear to her as ever, quite as dear as her own children, and in
which he was implored to return to the haunts of his childhood where
everybody loved him and admired him. After what had passed, he was
determined not to revisit the haunts till he was married, or, at any
rate, engaged to be married. But there was a difficulty in explaining
this to Aunt Polly without an appearance of ingratitude. And then there
were affairs in Australia which annoyed him. Tom Crinkett was taking
advantage of his absence in reference to Polyeuka,--that his presence
would soon be required there;--and other things were not going quite
smoothly. He had much to trouble him;--but still he was determined to
carry out his purpose with Hester Bolton. Since the day on which he had
roused himself to the necessity of an active life he had ever called
upon himself 'not to let the grass grow under his feet.' And he had
taught himself to think that there were few things a man could not
achieve if he would only live up to that motto. Therefore, though he was
perplexed by letters from Australia, and though his Aunt Polly was a
great nuisance, he determined to persevere at once. If he allowed
himself to revisit Nobble before he had settled this matter with Hester
Bolton, would it not be natural that Hester Bolton should be the wife of
some other man before he returned?

With all this on his mind he started off one day on horseback to
Cambridge. When he left Folking he had not quite made up his mind
whether he would go direct to the bank and ask for old Mr. Bolton, or
make a first attempt at that fortified castle at Chesterton. But on
entering the town he put his horse up at an inn just where the road
turns off to Chesterton, and proceeded on foot to the house. This was
about a mile distant from the stable, and as he walked that mile he
resolved that if he could get into the house at all he would declare his
purpose to some one before he left it. What was the use of
shilly-shallying? 'Who ever did anything by letting the grass grow under
his feet?' So he knocked boldly at the door and asked for Mrs. Bolton.
After a considerable time, the maid came and told him, apparently with
much hesitation, that Mrs. Bolton was at home. He was quite determined
to ask for Miss Bolton if Mrs. Bolton were denied to him. But the girl
said that Mrs. Bolton was at home, seeming by her manner to say at the
same time, 'I cannot tell a lie about it, because of the sin; but I
don't know what business you can have here, and I'm sure that my
mistress does not want to see any such a one as you.' Nevertheless she
showed him into the big sitting-room on the left hand of the hall, and
as he entered he saw the skirts of a lady's dress vanishing through
another door. Had there been a moment allowed him he would boldly have
called the lady back, for he was sure that the lady was Hester;--but the
lady was gone and the door closed before he could open his mouth.

Then he waited for full ten minutes, which, of course, seemed to him to
be very much more than an hour. At last the door was opened and Mrs.
Bolton appeared. The reader is not to suppose that she was an ugly,
cross-looking old woman. She was neither ugly, nor old, nor cross. When
she had married Mr. Bolton, she had been quite young, and now she was
not much past forty. And she was handsome too, with a fine oval face
which suited well with the peculiar simplicity of her dress and the
sober seriousness of her gait and manner. It might, perhaps, be said of
her that she tried to look old and ugly,--and cross too, but that she
did not succeed. She now greeted her visitor very coldly, and having
asked after old Mr. Caldigate, sat silent looking at John Caldigate as
though there were nothing more possible for her to say.

'I could not but come to see you and thank you for your kindness before
I went,' said John.

'I remember your coming about some business. We have very few visitors
here.'

'I went out, you know, as a miner.'

'I think I heard Mr. Bolton say so.'

'And I have succeeded very well.'

'Oh, indeed!'

'So well that I have been able to come back; and though I may perhaps
be obliged to revisit the colony to settle my affairs there, I am going
to live here at home.'

'I hope that will be comfortable to you.' At every word she spoke, her
voice took more and more plainly that tone of wonder which we are all of
us apt to express when called on to speak on matters which we are at the
moment astonished to have introduced to us.

'Yes; Mrs. Bolton, I hope it will. And now I have got something
particular to say.'

'Perhaps you had better see--Mr. Bolton--at the bank.'

'I hope I may be able to do so. I quite intend it. But as I am here, if
you will allow me, I will say a word to you first. In all matters there
is nothing so good as being explicit.' She looked at him as though she
was altogether afraid of him. And indeed she was. Her husband's opinion
of the young man had been very bad five years ago,--and she had not
heard that it had been altered since. Young men who went out to the
colonies because they were ruined, were, to her thinking, the worst
among the bad,--men who drank and gambled and indulged in strange lives,
mere castaways, the adopted of Satan. And, to her thinking, among men,
none were so rough as miners,--and among miners none were so godless, so
unrestrained so wild as the seekers after gold. She had read, perhaps,
something of the Spaniards in Central America, and regarded such
adventurers as she would pirates and freebooters generally. And then
with regard to the Caldigates generally,--the elder of whom she knew to
have been one of her husband's intimate friends in his less regenerated
days,--she believed them to be infidel freethinkers. She was not,
therefore, by any means predisposed in favour of this young man; and
when he spoke of his desire to be explicit, she thought that he had
better be explicit anywhere rather than in her drawing-room. 'You may
remember,' he said, 'that I had the pleasure of meeting your daughter
here before I left the country five years ago.' Then she listened with
all her ears. There were not many things in this empty, vain, hard
unattractive world which excited her. But the one thing in regard to
which she had hopes and fears, doubts and resolutions,--the one matter
as to which she knew that she must ever be on her guard, and yet as to
which she hardly knew how she was to exercise her care,--was her child.
'And once I have seen her since I have been back, though only for a
moment.' Then he paused as though expecting that she should say
something;--but what was it possible that she should say? She only
looked at him with all her eyes, and retreated a little from him with
her body, as anxious to get away from a man of his class who should dare
even to speak to her of her girl. 'The truth is, Mrs. Bolton, that her
image has been present to me through all my wanderings, and I am here to
ask her to be my wife.' She rose from her chair as though to fly from
him,--and then sitting down again stared at him with her mouth open and
her eyes fixed upon him. His wife! Her Hester to become the wife of such
a one as that! Her girl, as to whom, when thinking of the future life of
her darling, she had come to tell herself that there could be no man
good enough, pure enough, true enough, firm enough in his faith and
life, to have so tender, so inestimable a treasure committed to his
charge!



Chapter XVIII

Robert Bolton



Caldigate felt at the moment that he had been very abrupt,--so abrupt as
to have caused infinite dismay. But then it had been necessary that he
should be abrupt in order that he might get the matter understood. The
ordinary approaches were not open to him, and unless he had taken a
more than usually rapid advantage of the occasion which he had made for
himself, he would have had to leave the house without having been able
to give any of its inmates the least idea of his purpose. And then,--as
he said to himself,--matrimony is honest. He was in all worldly respects
a fit match for the young lady. To his own thinking there was nothing
preposterous in the nature of his request, though it might have been
made with some precipitate informality. He did not regard himself
exactly as the lady regarded him, and therefore, though he saw her
surprise, he still hoped that he might be able to convince her that in
all that he was doing he was as anxious for the welfare of her child as
she could be herself.

She sat there so long without saying a word that he found himself
obliged to renew his suit. 'Of course, Mrs. Bolton, I am aware how very
little you know of me.'

'Nothing at all,' she answered, hurriedly;--'or rather too much.'

He blushed up to his eyes, perfectly understanding the meaning of her
words; and, knowing that he had not deserved them, he was almost angry.
'If you will make inquiry I think you will find that I have so far
succeeded as to justify you in hoping that I may be able to marry and
settle myself in my own country.'

'You don't know my daughter at all.'

'Very little.'

'It is quite out of the question. She is very young, and such a thing
has never occurred to her. And we are not the same sort of people.'

'Why not, Mrs. Bolton? Your husband and my father have been intimate
friends for a great many years. It is not as though I had taken up the
idea only yesterday. It has been present with me, comforting me, during
all my work, for the last five years. I know all your daughter's
features as though she had been my constant companion.' The lady
shivered and almost trembled at this profanation of her child's name.
It was trouble to her that one so holy should ever have been thought
about by one so unholy. 'Of course I do not ask for anything at
present;--but will you not consult your husband as to the propriety of
allowing her to make my acquaintance?'

'I shall tell my husband, of course.'

'And will repeat to him what I say?'

'I shall tell him,--as I should any other most wild proposition that
might be made to me. But I am quite sure that he will be very angry.'

'Angry! why should he be angry?'

'Because----' Then she stopped.

'I do not think, Mrs. Bolton, that there can be any cause for anger. If
I were a beggar, if I were below her in position, if I had not means to
keep a wife,--even if I were a stranger to his name, he might be angry.
But I do not think he can be angry with me, now, because, in the most
straightforward way, I come to the young lady's parents and tell them
that I love their child. Is it a disgrace to me that of all whom I have
seen I think her to be the loveliest and best? Her father may reject me;
but he will be very unreasonable if he is angry with me.'

She could not tell him about the dove and the kite, or the lamb and the
wolf. She could not explain to him that he was a sinner, unregenerated,
a wild man in her estimation, a being of quite another kind than
herself, and therefore altogether unfitted to be the husband of her
girl! Her husband, no doubt, could do all this--if he would. But then
she too had her own skeleton in her own cupboard. She was not quite
assured of her own husband's regeneration. He went to church regularly,
and read his Bible, and said his prayers. But she feared,--she was
almost sure,--that he liked the bank-books better than his Bible. That
he would reject this offer from John Caldigate, she did not doubt. She
had always heard her husband speak of the man with disapprobation and
scorn. She had heard the whole story of Davis and the Newmarket debts.
She had heard, too, the man's subsequent prosperity spoken of as a thing
of chance,--as having come from gambling on an extensive scale. She
herself regarded money acquired in so unholy a way as likely to turn to
slate-stones, or to fly away and become worse than nothing. She knew
that Mr. Bolton, whether regenerate or not, regarded young Caldigate as
an adventurer, and that therefore, the idea of such a marriage would be
as unpalatable to him as to herself. But she did not dare to tell her
visitor that he was an unregenerate kite, lest her husband would not
support her.

'Whatever more you have got to say, you had better say it to him,' she
replied to the lover when he had come to the end of his defence. At that
moment the door opened, and a gentleman entered the room. This was Mr.
Robert Bolton, the attorney. Now of all her husband's sons,--who were,
of course, not her sons,--Mrs. Bolton saw this one the most frequently
and perhaps liked him the least. Or it might be juster to say that she
was more afraid of him than of the others. The two eldest, who were both
in the bank, were quiet, sober men, who lived affluently and were
married to religious wives, and brought up their children plentifully
and piously. She did not see very much of them, because her life was not
a social life. But among her friends they were the most intimate. But
Robert's wife was given to gaiety and dinner-parties and had been seen
even at balls. And Robert himself was much oftener at the Grange than
either of the other brothers. He managed his father's private affairs,
and was, perhaps, of all his sons the best liked by the father. He was
prosperous in his business and was reported to be the leading lawyer in
the town. In the old Cambridge days he had entertained John Caldigate at
his house; and though they had not met since the miner's return from
Australia, each at once knew the other, and their greeting was friendly
'Where's Hess?' said Robert, asking at once after his sister.

'She is engaged, Robert,' said Mrs. Bolton, very seriously, and very
firmly.

'She gave me a commission about some silk, and Margaret says that it
can't be executed in Cambridge. She must write to Fanny.' Margaret was
Mrs. Robert Bolton, and Fanny was the wife of the barrister brother who
lived in London.

'I will tell her, Robert.'

'All the same I should have liked to have seen her.'

'She is engaged, Robert.' This was said almost more seriously and more
firmly than before.

'Well, Caldigate,' said the attorney, turning to the visitor, 'so you
are the one man who has not only gone to the gold country and found
gold, but has brought his gold home with him.'

'I have brought a little home;--but I hope others have done so before.'

'I have never heard of any. You seem to have been uncommonly lucky. Hard
work, wasn't it?'

'Hard enough at first.'

'And a good deal of chance?'

'If a man will work steadily, and has backbone enough to stand up
against reverses without consoling himself with drink; and if, when the
gold comes, he can refrain from throwing it about as though it were
endless, I think a man may be tolerably sure to earn something.' Then he
told the story of the horse with the golden shoes.

'Shoes of gold upon a horse!' said Mrs. Bolton, holding up both her
hands. The man who could even tell such a story must be an adventurer.
But, nevertheless the story had interested her so that she had been
enticed into taking some part in the conversation.

When Caldigate got up to take his leave, Robert Bolton offered to walk
back to the town with him. He had expected to find his father, but
would now look for him at the bank. They started together; and as they
went Caldigate told his story to the young lady's half-brother. It
occurred to him that of all the family Robert Bolton would be the most
reasonable in such a matter; and that of all the family he might perhaps
be the best able to give assistance. When Robert Bolton had heard it
all, at first he whistled. Then he asked the following question. 'What
did she say to you?'

'She did not give me much encouragement.'

'I should think not. Though I say it who shouldn't, Hester is the
sweetest girl in Cambridgeshire. But her mother thinks her much too good
to be given in marriage to any man. This kind of thing was bound to come
about some day.'

'But Mrs. Bolton seems to have some personal objection to me.'

'That's probable.'

'I don't know why she should.'

'She has got one treasure of her own, in enjoying which she is shut out
from all the rest of the world. Is it unnatural that she should be a
little suspicious about a man who proposes to take her treasure away
from her?'

'She must surrender her treasure to some one,--some day.'

'If it be so, she will hope to do so to a man of whose antecedents she
may know more than she does of yours. What she does know of you is of a
nature to frighten her. You will excuse me.'

'Oh, of course.'

'She has heard that you went away under a cloud, having surrendered your
estate. That was against you. Well;--you have come back, and she hears
that you have brought some money with you. She does not care very much
about money; but she does care about regularity and fixed habits. If
Hess is to be married at all she would especially wish that her husband
should be a religious man. Perhaps you are.'

'I am neither the one thing nor the other,--especially.'

'And therefore peculiarly dangerous in her eyes It is natural that she
should oppose you.'

'What am I to do, then?'

'Ah! How am I to answer that? The whole story is very romantic, and I do
not know that we are a romantic family. My father is autocratic in his
own house.'

This last assurance seemed to contain some comfort As Mrs. Bolton would
be his enemy in the matter, it was well that the power of deciding
should be in other hands. 'I do not mean to give it up,' said he.

'I suppose you must if they won't open their doors to you.'

'I think they ought to allow me to have the chance of seeing her.'

'I don't see why they should. Mind I am not saying anything of this for
myself. If I were my sister's guardian, I should take the trouble to
make many inquiries before I either asked you into my house or declined
to do so. I should not give access to you, or to any other gentleman
merely because he asked it.'

'Let them make inquiry.'

'Mrs. Bolton probably thinks that she already knows enough. What my
father may say I cannot even surmise.'

'Will you tell him?'

'If you wish it.'

'Tell him also that I will wait upon him at once if he desires it. He
shall know everything about my affairs,--which indeed require no
concealment. I can settle enough upon her for her comfort. If she is to
have anything of her own, that will be over and above. As far as I am
concerned myself, I ask no question about that. I think that a man ought
to earn enough for himself and for his wife too. As to religion----'

'If I were you, I would leave that alone,' said the lawyer.

'Perhaps so.'

'I will tell my father. That is all I can say. Good-bye.'

So they parted; and Caldigate, getting on his horse, rode back to
Folking. Looking back at what he had done that day, he was almost
disposed to be contented with it. The lady's too evident hostility was,
of course, to be deprecated;--but then he had expected it. As Robert
Bolton had explained to him very clearly, it was almost impossible that
he should, at the first, be regarded by her with favourable eyes. But he
thought that the brother had been quite as favourable to him as he could
have expected, and the ice was broken. The Bolton family generally would
know what he was about. Hester would not be told, of course;--at any
rate, not at once. But the first steps had been taken, and it must be
for him now so to press the matter that the ultimate decision should be
made to rest in her hands as soon as possible.

'What did Mr. Bolton say to you?' asked the squire.

'I did not see him.'

'And what did the young lady say?'

'I did not see her.'

'Or the mamma?'

'I did see her, and told her my project.'

'I should think she would be startled?'

'She was not very propitious, sir; but that was not to be expected.'

'She is a poor melancholy half-crazed creature, I take it,' said the
squire; 'at least, that is what I hear. The girl, I should think, would
be glad to get away from such a home. But I am afraid you will find a
good many obstacles.' After that nothing more was said about the matter
at Folking for some days.

But there was a great deal said upon the matter both in Cambridge and at
Chesterton. Robert Bolton found his father at the bank on the same
afternoon, and performed his promise. 'Did he see your step-mother?'
asked the old man.

'Oh yes; and as far as I can understand, did not receive very much
favour at her hands.'

'But he did not see Hester?'

'Certainly not to-day.'

Then the old man looked up into his son's face, as though seeking some
expression there from which he might take some counsel. His own nature
had ever been imperious; but he was old now, and, in certain
difficulties which environed him, he was apt to lean on his son Robert.
It was Robert who encouraged him still to keep in his hands some share
of the management of the bank; and it was to Robert that he could look
for counsel when the ceremonious strictness of his wife at home became
almost too hard even for him.

'It is natural to suppose that Hester should be married some day,' said
the lawyer.

'Her mother will never wish it.'

'She will never wish it at any given moment, but she would probably
assent to the proposition generally. Why not Hester as well as another
girl? It is the happiest life for women.'

'I am not sure. I am not sure.'

'Women think so themselves, and Hester will probably be the same as
others. She will, of course, have an opinion of her own.'

'She will be guided by her mother.'

'Not altogether. It will only be fair that she should be consulted on a
matter of such importance to herself.'

'You would not tell her what this man has been saying?'

'Not necessarily. I say that she should be consulted generally as to her
future life. In regard to this man, I see no objection to him if he be a
good man.'

'He was here at college. You know what he did then?'

'Yes; and I know, too, something of what he has done since. He went away
disinherited and almost degraded. He has come back, as I hear,
comparatively a rich man. He has got back his inheritance, which might
probably be settled on his children if he were to be married. And all
this he has done off his own bat. Where other men stumble so frequently,
he has stood on his legs. No doubt, he has lived with rough people, but
still he seems to be a gentleman. Hester will be well off, no doubt,
some day.'

'She will have something,--something,' said the old man.

'But this suitor asks for nothing. It is not as though he were coming to
you to prop him up in the world. It does not look like that at least. Of
course, we ought to make inquiry as to his means.'

'The mortgage has been paid off.'

'So much we know, and the rest may be found out. I do not mean at all to
say that he should be allowed to have his own way. I think too much of
my sister for that. But, in this matter, we ought to regard simply her
happiness and her welfare;--and in considering that you ought to be
prepared for her coming marriage. You may take it for granted that she
will choose to give herself, sooner or later, to some man. Give a girl
good looks, and good sense, and good health, and she is sure to wish to
be some man's wife,--unless she be deterred by some conventual
superstition.'

If there were any words capable of conveying horror to the mind of the
old banker, they were convents, priests, and papacy,--of which the
lawyer was well aware when speaking thus of his sister. Mrs. Bolton was
certainly not addicted to papistical observances, nor was she at all
likely to recommend the seclusion of her daughter in a convent. All her
religious doctrines were those of the Low Church. But she had a
tendency to arrive at similar results by other means. She was so afraid
of the world, the flesh, and the devil, that she would fain shut up her
child so as to keep her from the reach of all evil. Vowed celibacy was
abominable to her, because it was the resource of the Roman Catholics;
and because she had been taught to believe that convent-walls were
screens for hiding unheard-of wickedness. But yet, on behalf of her
child, she desired seclusion from the world, fancying that so and so
only might security be ensured. Superstition was as strong with her as
with any self-flagellated nun. Fasting, under that name, she held in
abhorrence. But all sensual gratifications were wicked in her sight. She
would allow all home indulgences to her daughter, each under some
separate plea,--constrained to do so by excessive love; but she did so
always in fear and trembling, lest she was giving some foothold to
Satan. All of which Robert Bolton understood better even than did his
father when he gave the above advice in reference to this lover.



Chapter XIX

Men Are So Wicked



A month had passed by since Caldigate's interview with Mrs. Bolton, and
nothing had as yet been decided either for him or against him at
Chesterton And the fact that no absolute decision had been made against
him may be taken as having been very much in his favour. But of those
who doubted, and doubting, had come to no decision, Mrs. Bolton herself
was by no means one. She was as firm as ever in her intention that the
idea should not even be suggested to her daughter. Nor, up to this time,
had our hero's name been even mentioned to Hester Bolton.

About a week after Caldigate's visit to Chesterton in the early days of
August, he wrote to Robert Bolton saying that he was going into Scotland
for a month, and that he trusted that during that time his proposition
might be considered. On his return he would take the liberty of calling
on Mr. Bolton at the bank. In the meantime he hoped that inquiries might
be made as to his position in the world, and in order that such
inquiries might be effectual he gave a reference to his man of business
in London. To this letter Robert Bolton sent no answer; but he went up
to London, and did make the inquiries as suggested, and consulted his
brother the barrister, and his sister-in-law the barrister's wife. They
were both of opinion that John Caldigate was behaving well, and were of
opinion also that something should be done to liberate Hester from the
thraldom of her mother. 'I knew how it would be when she grew up and
became a woman,' said Mrs. William Bolton. 'Nobody will be allowed to
see her, and she won't have a chance of settling herself. When we asked
her to come up here for a couple of months in the season, Mrs. Bolton
sent me word that London is a terrible place for young girls,--though,
of course, she knew that our own girls were being brought up here.' Then
the ways of Mrs. Bolton at Chesterton and Hester's future life generally
were discussed in a spirit that was by no means unfriendly to our hero.

The suggested inquiries were made in the city, and were all favourable.
Everyone connected with the mining interests of the Australian colonies
knew the name of John Caldigate. All of that class of people were well
aware of his prosperity and confirmed good-fortune. He had brought with
him or sent home nobody quite knew how much money. But it was very well
known that he had left his interest in the Polyeuka mine to be sold for
£60,000, and now there had come word that a company had created itself
for the sake of making the purchase, and that the money would be
forthcoming. The gentleman in the city connected with mining matters did
not think that Mr. Caldigate would be called upon to go out to the
colony again, unless he chose to do so for his own pleasure. All this
Robert Bolton learned in the City, and he learned also that the man as
to whom he was making inquiry was held in high esteem for honesty,
perseverance, and capacity. The result of all this was that he returned
to Cambridge with a feeling that his sister ought to be allowed to make
the man's acquaintance. He and his brother had agreed that something
should be done to liberate their sister from her present condition. Love
on the part of a mother may be as injurious as cruelty, if the mother be
both tyrannical and superstitious. While Hester had been a child, no
interference had been possible or perhaps expedient,--but the time had
now come when something ought to be done. Such having been the decision
in Harley Street, where the William Boltons lived, Robert Bolton went
back home with the intention of carrying it out.

This could only be done through the old man, and even with him not
without great care. He was devotedly attached to his young wife;--but
was very averse to having it thought that he was ruled by her. Indeed,
in all matters affecting his establishment, his means, and his business,
he would hardly admit of interference from her at all. His worldly
matters he kept between himself and his sons. But in regard to his soul
he could not restrain her, and sometimes would hardly oppose her. The
prolonged evening prayers, the sermons twice a-week, the two long church
services on Sundays,--indulgence as to the third being allowed to him
only on the score of his age,--he endured at her command. And in regard
to Hester, he had hitherto been ruled by his wife, thinking it proper
that a daughter should be left in the hands of her mother. But now, when
he was told that if he did not interfere, his girl would be constrained
by the harsh bonds of an unnatural life, stern as he was himself and
inclined to be gloomy, little as he was disposed to admit ideas of
recreation and delight, he did acknowledge that something should be done
to relieve her. 'But when I die she must be left in her mother's hands,'
said the old banker.

'It is to be hoped that she may be in other hands before that,' replied
his son. 'I do not mean to say anything against my step-mother;--but for
a young woman it is generally best that she should be married. And in
Hester's peculiar position, she ought to have the chance of choosing for
herself.'

In this way something almost like a conspiracy was made on behalf of
Caldigate. And yet the old man did not as yet abandon his prejudices
against the miner. A man who had at so early an age done so much to ruin
himself, and had then sprung so suddenly from ruin to prosperity, could
not, he thought, be regarded as a steady well-to-do man of business. He
did agree that, as regarded Hester, the prison-bars should be removed;
but he did not think that she should be invited to walk forth with Mr.
John Caldigate. Robert declared that his sister was quite able to form
an opinion of her own, and boldly suggested that Hester should be
allowed to come and dine at his house. 'To meet the man?' asked the
banker in dismay. 'Yes,' said Robert. 'He isn't an ogre. You needn't be
afraid of him. I shall be there,--and Margaret. Bring her yourself if
you are afraid of anything. No plant ever becomes strong by being kept
always away from the winds of heaven.' To this he could not assent at
the time. He knew that it was impossible to assent without consulting
his wife. But he was brought so far round as to think that if nothing
but his own consent were wanting, his girl would be allowed to go and
meet the ogre.

'I suppose we ought to wish that Hester should be married some day,' he
said to his wife about this time. She shuddered and dashed her hands
together as though deprecating some evil,--some event which she could
hardly hope to avoid but which was certainly an evil. 'Do you not wish
that yourself?' She shook her head. 'Is it not the safest condition in
which a woman can live?'

'How shall any one be safe among the dangers of this world, Nicholas?'
She habitually called her husband by his Christian name, but she was the
only living being who did so.

'More safe then?' said he. 'It is the natural condition of a woman.'

'I do not know. Sin is natural.'

'Very likely. No doubt. But marriage is not sinful.'

'Men are so wicked.'

'Some of them are.'

'Where is there one that is not steeped in sin over his head?'

'That applies to women also; doesn't it?' said the banker petulantly. He
was almost angry because she was introducing a commonplace as to the
world's condition into a particular argument as to their daughter's
future life,--which he felt to be unfair and illogical.

'Of course it does, Nicholas. We are all black and grimed with sin, men
and women too; and perhaps something more may be forgiven to men because
they have to go out into the world and do their work. But neither one
nor the other can be anything but foul with sin;--except,--except--'

He was quite accustomed to the religious truth which was coming, and, in
an ordinary way, did not object to the doctrine which she was apt to
preach to him often. But it had no reference whatever to the matter now
under discussion. The general condition of things produced by the fall
of Adam could not be used as an argument against matrimony generally.
Wicked as men and women are it is so evidently intended that they should
marry and multiply, that even she would not deny the general propriety of
such an arrangement. Therefore when he was talking to her about their
daughter, she was ill-treating him when on that occasion she flew away
to her much-accustomed discourse.

'What's the use, then, of saying that men are wicked?'

'They are. They are!'

'Not a doubt about it. And so are the women, but they've got to have
husbands and wives. They wouldn't be any the better if there were no
marrying. We have to suppose that Hester will do the same as other
girls.'

'I hope not, Nicholas.'

'But why not?'

'They are vain, and they adorn themselves, not in modest apparel, as St.
Paul says in First Timothy, chapter second, nor with shame-facedness and
sobriety; but with braided hair and gold and pearls and costly array.'

'What has that to do with it?'

'Oh, Nicholas!'

'She might be married without all those things.'

'You said you wanted her to be like other girls.'

'No, I didn't. I said she would have to get married like other girls.
You don't want to make a nun of her.'

'A nun! I would sooner sit by her bedside and watch her die! My Hester a
nun!'

'Very well, then. Let her go out into the world----'

'The world, Nicholas! The world, the flesh, and the devil! Do they not
always go together?'

He was much harassed and very angry. He knew how unreasonable she was,
and yet he did not know how to answer her. And she was dishonest with
him. Because she felt herself unable to advocate in plain terms a
thorough shutting up of her daughter,--a protecting of her from the
temptation of sin by absolute and prolonged sequestration,--therefore
she equivocated with him, pretending to think that he was desirous of
sending his girl out to have her hair braided and herself arrayed in
gold and pearls. It was thoroughly dishonest, and he understood the
dishonesty. 'She must go somewhere,' he said, rising from his chair and
closing the conversation. At this time a month had passed since
Caldigate had been at Chesterton, and he had now returned from Scotland
to Folking.

On the following day Hester was taken out to dinner at The Nurseries, as
Robert Bolton's house was called,--was taken out by her father. This was
quite a new experiment, as she had never dined with any of her aunts and
cousins except at an early dinner almost as a child,--and even as a
child not at her brother Robert's. But the banker, after having declared
that she must go somewhere, had persisted. It is not to be supposed that
Caldigate was on this occasion invited to meet her;--nor that the father
had as yet agreed that any such meeting should be allowed. But as
William Bolton,--the London brother,--and Mrs. William and one of their
girls were down at Cambridge, it was arranged that Hester should meet
her relatives. Even so much as this was not settled without much
opposition on the part of Hester's mother.

There was nobody at the house but members of the family. The old
banker's oldest son Nicholas was not there as his wife and Mrs. Robert
did not get on well together. Mrs. Nicholas was almost as strict as Mrs.
Bolton herself, and, having no children of her own, would not have
sympathised at all in any desire to procure for Hester the wicked luxury
of a lover. The second son Daniel joined the party with his wife, but he
had married too late to have grown-up children. His wife was strict
too,--but of a medium strictness. Teas, concerts, and occasional dinner
parties were with her permissible;--as were also ribbons and a certain
amount of costly array. Mrs. Nicholas was in the habit of telling Mrs.
Daniel that you cannot touch pitch and not be defiled,--generally
intending to imply that Mrs. Robert was the pitch; and would harp on the
impossibility of serving both God and mammon, thinking perhaps that her
brother-in-law Robert and mammon were one and the same. But Daniel, who
could go to church as often as any man on Sundays, and had thoroughly
acquired for himself the reputation of a religious man of business, had
his own ideas as to proprieties and expediencies, and would neither
quarrel with his brother Robert, or allow his wife to quarrel with Mrs.
Robert. So that the Nicholases lived very much alone. Mrs. Nicholas and
Mrs. Bolton might have suited each other, might have been congenial and
a comfort each to the other, but the elder son and the elder son's wife
had endeavoured to prevent the old man's second marriage, and there had
never been a thorough reconciliation since. There are people who can
never forgive. Mrs. Nicholas had never forgiven the young girl for
marrying the old man, and the young girl had never forgiven the
opposition of her elder step-daughter-in-law to her own marriage. Hence
it had come to pass that the Nicholases were extruded from the family
conclaves, which generally consisted of the Daniels and the Roberts. The
Williams were away in London, not often having much to do with these
matters. But they too allied themselves with the dominant party, it
being quite understood that as long as the old man lived Robert was and
would be the most potent member of the family.

When the father and the three sons were in the dining-room together,
after the six or seven ladies had left them, the propriety of allowing
John Caldigate to make Hester's acquaintance was fully discussed. 'I
would not for the world interfere,' said Robert, 'if I did not think it
unfair to the dear girl that she should be shut up there altogether.'

'Do you suppose that the young man is in earnest?' asked Daniel.

As to this they all agreed that there could be no doubt. He was, too, an
old family friend, well-to-do in the world, able to make proper
settlements, and not at all greedy as to a fortune with his wife. Even
Daniel Bolton thought that the young man should have a chance,--by
saying which he was supposed to declare that the question ought to be
left to the arbitrament of the young lady. The old banker was unhappy
and ill at ease. He could not reconcile himself at once to so great a
change. Though he felt that the excessive fears of his wife, if
indulged, would be prejudicial to their girl, still he did not wish to
thrust her out into the world all at once. Could there not be some
middle course? Could there not be a day named, some four years hence, at
which she might be allowed to begin to judge for herself? But his three
sons were against him, and he could not resist their joint influence. It
was therefore absolutely decided that steps should be taken for enabling
John Caldigate to meet Hester at Robert Bolton's house.

'I suppose it will end in a marriage,' William Bolton said to his
brother Robert when they were alone.

'Of course it will. She is the dearest creature in the world;--so good
to her mother; but no fool, and quite aware that the kind of restraint
to which she has been subjected is an injustice. Of course she will be
gratified when a man like that tells her that he loves her. He is a
good-looking fellow, with a fine spirit and plenty of means. How on
earth can she do better?'

'But Mrs. B.?' said William, who would sometimes thus disrespectfully
allude to his step-mother.

'Mrs. B. will do all she can to prevent it,' said Robert; 'but I think
we shall find that Hester has a will of her own.'

On the following day John Caldigate called at the bank, where the banker
had a small wainscoted back-parlour appropriated to himself. He had
already promised that he would see the young man, and Caldigate was
shown into the little room. He soon told his story, and was soon clever
enough to perceive that the telling of his story was at any rate
permitted. The old father did not receive him with astonishment and
displeasure combined, as the young mother had done. Of course he made
difficulties, and spoke of the thing as being beyond the bounds of
probability. But objection no stronger than that may be taken as
amounting almost to encouragement in such circumstances. And he paid
evident attention to all that Caldigate said about his own pecuniary
affairs,--going so far as to say that he was not in a condition to
declare whether he would give his daughter any fortune at all on her
marriage.

'It is quite unnecessary,' said Caldigate.

'She will probably have something at my death,' rejoined the old man.

'And when may I see her?' asked Caldigate.

In answer to that Mr. Bolton would not at first make any suggestion
whatsoever,--falling back upon his old fears, and declaring that there
could be no such meetings at all, but at last allowing that the lover
should discuss the matter with his son Robert.

'Perhaps I may have been mistaken about the young man Caldigate,' the
banker said to his wife that night.

'Oh, Nicholas!'

'I only say that perhaps I may have been mistaken.'

'You are not thinking of Hester?'

'I said nothing about Hester then;--but perhaps I may have been
mistaken in my opinion about that young man John Caldigate.'

John Caldigate, as he rode home after his interview at the bank, almost
felt that he had cleared away many difficulties, and that, by his
perseverance, he might probably be enabled to carry out the dream of his
earlier youth.



Chapter XX

Hester's Courage



After that Caldigate did not allow the grass to grow under his feet, and
before the end of November the two young people were engaged. As Robert
Bolton had said, Hester was of course flattered and of course delighted
with this new joy. John Caldigate was just the man to recommend himself
to such a girl, not too light, not too prone to pleasure, not contenting
himself with bicycles, cricket matches, or billiards, and yet not wholly
given to serious matters as had been those among whom she had hitherto
passed her days. And he was one who could speak of his love with soft
winning words, neither roughly nor yet with too much of shame-faced
diffidence. And when he told her how he had sworn to himself after
seeing her that once,--that once when all before him in life was
enveloped in doubt and difficulty,--that he would come home and make her
his wife, she thought that the manly constancy of his heart was almost
divine. Of course she loved him with all her heart. He was in all
respects one made to be loved by a woman;--and then what else had she
ever had to love? When once it was arranged that he should be allowed to
speak to her, the thing was done. She did not at once tell him that it
was done. She took some few short halcyon weeks to dally with the vow
which her heart was ready to make; but those around her knew that the
vow had been inwardly made; and those who were anxious on her behalf
with a new anxiety, with a new responsibility, redoubled their inquiries
as to John Caldigate. How would Robert Bolton or Mrs. Robert excuse
themselves to that frightened miserable mother if at last it should turn
out that John Caldigate was not such as they had represented him to be?

But no one could pick a hole in him although many attempts to pick holes
were made. The question of his money was put quite at rest by the
transference of all his securities, balances, and documents to the
Boltons' bank, and the £60,000 for Polyeuka was accepted, so that there
was no longer any need that he should go again to the colony. This was
sweet news to Hester when she first heard it;--for it had come to pass
that it had been agreed that the marriage should be postponed till his
return, that having been the one concession made to Mrs. Bolton. There
had been many arguments about it;--but Hester at last told him that she
had promised so much to her mother and that she would of course keep her
promise. Then the arrangement took such a form that the journey was not
necessary,--or perhaps the objection to the journey became so strong in
Caldigate's mind that he determined to dispense with it at any price.
And thus, very greatly to the dismay of Mrs. Bolton, suddenly there came
to be no reason why they should not be married almost at once.

But there was an attempt made at the picking of holes,--or rather many
attempts. It would be unfair to say that this was carried on by Mrs.
Bolton herself;--but she was always ready to listen to what evil things
were said to her. Mrs. Nicholas, in her horror at the general wickedness
of the Caldigates almost reconciled herself to her step-mother, and
even Mrs. Daniel began to fear that a rash thing was being done. In
the first place there was the old story of Davis and Newmarket. Robert
Bolton, who had necessarily become the advocate and defender of our
hero generally, did not care much for Davis and Newmarket. All young
men sow their wild oats. Of course he had been extravagant. Since his
extravagance he had shown himself to be an industrious, sensible, steady
member of society;--and there was the money that he had earned! What
young man had earned more in a shorter time, or had ever been more
prudent in keeping it? Davis and Newmarket were easily answered by a
reference to the bank account. Did he ever go to Newmarket now, though
he was living so close to it? On that matter Robert Bolton was very
strong.

But Mrs. Nicholas had found out that Caldigate had spent certainly two
Sundays running at Folking without going to church at all; and, as far
as she could learn, he was altogether indifferent about public worship.
Mrs. Bolton, who could never bring herself to treat him as a son-in-law,
but who was still obliged to receive him, taxed him to his face with his
paganism. 'Have you no religion, Mr. Caldigate?' He assured her that he
had, and fell into a long discussion in which he thoroughly confused
her, though he by no means convinced her that he was what he ought to
be. But he went with her to church twice on one Sunday, and showed her
that he was perfectly familiar with the ways of the place.

But perhaps the loudest complaint came from the side of Babington; and
here two sets of enemies joined their forces together who were
thoroughly hostile to each other. Mrs. Babington declared loudly that
old Bolton had been an errand-boy in his youth, and that his father had
been a porter and his mother a washerwoman. This could do no real harm,
as Caldigate would not have been deterred by any such rumours, even had
they been true; but they tended to show animosity, and enabled Mrs.
Nicholas to find out the cause of the Babington opposition. When she
learned that John Caldigate had been engaged to his cousin Julia, of
course she made the most of it; and so did Mrs. Bolton. And in this way
it came to be reported not only that the young man had been engaged to
Miss Babington before he went to Australia,--but also that he had
renewed his engagement since his return. 'You do not love her, do you?'
Hester asked him. Then he told her the whole story, as nearly as he
could tell it with some respect for his cousin, laughing the while at
his aunt's solicitude, and saying, perhaps something not quite
respectful as to Julia's red cheeks and green hat, all of which
certainly had not the effect of hardening Hester's heart against him.
'The poor young lady can't help it if her feet are big,' said Hester,
who was quite alive to the grace of a well-made pair of boots, although
she had been taught to eschew braided hair and pearls and gold.

Mrs. Babington, however, pushed her remonstrances so far that she boldly
declared that the man was engaged to her daughter, and wrote to him more
than once declaring that it was so. She wrote, indeed, very often,
sometimes abusing him for his perfidy, and then, again, imploring him to
return to them, and not to defile the true old English blood of the
Caldigates with the suds of a washerwoman and the swept-up refuse of a
porter's shovel. She became quite eloquent in her denunciation, but
always saying that if he would only come back to Babington all would be
forgiven him. But in these days he made no visits to Babington.

Then there came a plaintive little note from Mrs. Shand. Of course they
wished him joy if it were true. But could it be true? Men were very
fickle, certainly; but this change seemed to have been very, very
sudden! And there was a word or two, prettily written in another hand,
on a small slip of paper--'Perhaps you had better send back the book';
and Caldigate, as he read it, thought that he could discern the
almost-obliterated smudge of a wiped-up tear. He wrote a cheerful letter
to Mrs. Shand, in which he told her that though he had not been
absolutely engaged to marry Hester Bolton before he started for
Australia,--and consequently before he had ever been at Pollington,--yet
his mind had been quite made up to do so; and that therefore he regarded
himself as being abnormally constant rather than fickle. 'And tell your
daughter, with my kindest regards,' he added, 'that I hope I may be
allowed to keep the book.'

The Babington objections certainly made their way in Cambridge and out
at Chesterton further than any others, and for a time did give a hope to
Mrs. Bolton and Mrs. Nicholas,--and made Robert Bolton shrug his
shoulders uneasily when he heard all the details of the engagement in
the linen-closet. But there came at one moment a rumour, which did not
count for much among the Boltons, but which disturbed Caldigate himself
more than any of the other causes adduced for breaking off his intended
marriage. Word came that he had been very intimate with a certain woman
on his way out to Melbourne;--a woman supposed to be a foreigner and an
actress; and the name of Cettini was whispered. He did not know whence
the rumour came;--but on one morning Robert Bolton, half-laughing, but
still with a tone of voice that was half-earnest, taxed him with having
as many loves as Lothario. 'Who is Cettini?' asked Robert Bolton.

'Cettini?' said Caldigate, with a struggle to prevent a blush.

'Did you travel with such a woman?'

'Yes;--at least, if that was her name. I did not hear it till
afterwards. A very agreeable woman she was.'

'They say that you promised to marry her when on board.'

'Then they lie. But that is a matter of course. There are so many lies
going about that I almost feel myself to be famous.'

'You did not see her after the journey?'

'Yes, I did. I saw her act at Sydney; and very well she acted. Have you
anything else to ask?' Robert Bolton said that he had nothing else to
ask,--and seemed, at the moment, to turn his half-serious mood into one
that was altogether jocular. But the mention of the name had been a
wound; and when an anonymous letter a few days afterwards reached Hester
herself he was really unhappy. Hester made nothing of the letter--did
not even show it to her mother. At that time a day had been fixed for
their marriage; and she already regarded her lover as nearer to her than
either father or mother. The letter purported to be from some one who
had travelled with her lover and this woman on board ship, and declared
that everybody on board the ship had thought that Caldigate meant to
marry the woman,--who then, so said the letter, called herself Mrs.
Smith. Hester showed the letter to Caldigate, and then Caldigate told
his story. There had been such a woman, who had been much ill-treated
because of her poverty. He had certainly taken the woman's part. She had
been clever and, as he had thought, well-behaved. And, no doubt, there
had been a certain amount of friendship. He had seen her again in
Sydney, where he had found her exercising her profession as an actress.
That had been all. 'I cannot imagine, dear,' he said, 'that you should
be jealous of any woman; but certainly not of such a one as she.' 'Nor
can I imagine,' said Hester, stoutly, 'that I could possibly be jealous
of any woman.' And then there was nothing more said about the woman
Smith-Cettini.

During all this time there were many family meetings. Those between Mr.
Caldigate, the father, and old Mr. Bolton were pleasant enough, though
not peculiarly cordial. The banker, though he had been brought to agree
to the marriage had not been quite reconciled to it. His younger son had
been able to convince him that it was his duty to liberate his daughter
from the oppression of her mother's over-vigilance, and all the rest had
followed very quickly,--overwhelming him, as it were, by stern
necessity. When once the girl had come to understand that she could have
her own way, if she chose to have a way of her own, she very quickly
took the matter into her own management. And in this way the engagement
became a thing settled before the banker had realised the facts of the
position. Though he could not be cordial he endeavoured to be gracious
to his old friend. But Mrs. Bolton spoke words which made all friendship
impossible. She asked old Mr. Caldigate after his soul, and when he
replied to her less seriously than she thought becoming, she told him
that he was in the bad way. And then she said things about the marriage
which implied that she would sooner see her daughter in her grave than
married to a man who was no more than a professing Christian. The
conversation ended in a quarrel, after which the squire would not go
again to Puritan Grange.

There was indeed a time, an entire week, during which the mother and
daughter hardly spoke to each other. In these days Mrs. Bolton
continually demanded of her husband that he should break off the match,
always giving as a reason the alleged fact that John Caldigate was not a
true believer. It had been acknowledged between them that if such were
the fact the man would be an unfit husband for their daughter. But they
differed as to the fact. The son had over and over again declared
himself to be a faithful member of the Church of England,--not very
scrupulous perhaps in the performance of her ceremonies,--but still a
believing member. That his father was not so every one knew, but he was
not responsible for his father. Mr. Bolton seemed to think that the
argument was good;--but Mrs. Bolton was of opinion that to become
willingly the daughter-in-law of an infidel, would be to throw oneself
with one's eyes open in the way of perdition. Hester through all this
declared that nothing should now turn her from the man she loved, 'Not
though he were an infidel himself?' said the terror-stricken mother.
'Nothing!' said Hester, bravely. 'Of course I should try to change him.'
A more wretched woman than Mrs. Bolton might not probably then have been
found. She suddenly perceived herself to be quite powerless with the
child over whom her dominion had hitherto been supreme. And she felt
herself compelled to give way to people whom, with all her heart, she
hated. She determined that nothing,--nothing should induce her to soften
her feelings to this son-in-law who was forced upon her. The man had
come and had stolen from her her treasure, her one treasure. And that
other man whom she had always feared and always hated, Robert Bolton,
the man whose craft and worldliness had ever prevented her from
emancipating her husband from the flesh and the devil, had brought all
this about. Then she reconciled herself to her child, and wept over her,
and implored heaven to save her. Hester tried to argue with her,--spoke
of her own love,--appealed to her mother, asking whether, as she had now
declared her love, it could be right that she should abandon a man who
was so good and so fondly attached to her. Then Mrs. Bolton would hide
her face, and sob, and put up renewed prayers to heaven that her
daughter might not by means of this unhappy marriage become lost to all
sense of grace.

It was very miserable, but still the prospect of the marriage was never
abandoned nor postponed. A day had been settled a little before
Christmas, and the Robert Boltons would allow of no postponement. The
old man was so tormented by the misery of his own home that he himself
was averse to delay. There could be no comfort for him till the thing
should have been done. Mrs. Bolton had suggested that it should be put
off till the spring;--but he had gloomily replied that as the thing had
to be done, the sooner it was done the better.

It had been settled almost from the first that the marriage festival
should be held, not at Puritan Grange, but at The Nurseries; and
gradually it came to be understood that Mrs. Bolton herself would not be
present, either at the church or at the breakfast. It was in vain that
Hester implored her mother to yield to her in something, to stand with
her at any rate on the steps before the altar. 'Would you wish me to go
and lie before my God?' said the unhappy woman. 'When I would give all
that I have in the world except my soul,--my life, my name, even my
child herself, to prevent this, am I to go and smile and be
congratulated, and to look as though I were happy?' There was,
therefore, very much unhappiness at the Grange, and an absence of all
triumph even at The Nurseries. At the old bank-house in the town where
the Nicholases lived, the marriage was openly denounced; and even the
Daniels, though they were pledged to be present, were in doubt.

'I suppose it is all right,' said Mrs. Robert to her husband.

'Of course it is all right. Why not?'

'It seems sad that such an event as a marriage should give rise to so
much ill-feeling. I almost wish we had not meddled, Robert.'

'I don't think there is anything to regret. Remember what Hester's
position would have been if my father had died, leaving her simply to
her mother's guardianship! We were bound to free her from that, and we
have done it.' This was all very well;--but still there was no triumph,
no ringing of those inward marriage bells the sound of whose music ought
to be so pleasant to both the families concerned.

There were, however, two persons quite firm to their purpose, and these
were the bride and bridegroom. With him firmness was comparatively easy.
When his father suggested that the whole Bolton family was making itself
disagreeable, he could with much satisfaction reply that he did not
intend to marry the whole Bolton family. Having answered the first
letter or two he could ignore the Babington remonstrances. And when he
was cross-examined as to points of doctrine, he could with sincerity
profess himself to be of the same creed with his examiners. If he went
to church less often than old Mr. Bolton, so did old Mr. Bolton go less
often than his wife. It was a matter as to which there was no rule. Thus
his troubles were comparatively light, and his firmness might be
regarded as a thing of course. But she was firm too, and firm amidst
very different circumstances. Though her mother prayed and sobbed,
implored her, and almost cursed her, still she was firm. She had given
her word to the man, and her heart, and she would not go back. 'Yes,
papa. It is too late now,' she said, when her father coming from his
wife, once suggested to her that even yet it was not too late. 'Of
course I shall marry him,' she said to Mrs. Robert, almost with
indignation, when Mrs. Robert on one occasion almost broke down in her
purpose.

'Dear aunt, indeed, indeed, you need not interfere,' she said to Mrs.
Nicholas. 'If he were all that they have called him, still I would marry
him,' she said to her other aunt,--'because I love him.' And so they all
became astonished at the young girl whom they had reared up among them,
and to understand that whatever might now be their opinions, she would
have her way.

And so it was decided that they should be married on a certain Tuesday
in the middle of December. Early in the morning she was to be brought
down to her aunt's house, there to be decked in her bridal robes, thence
to be taken to the church, then to return for the bridal feast, and from
thence to be taken off by her husband,--to go whither they might list.



Chapter XXI

The Wedding



It was a sad wedding, though everything within the power of Mr. Robert
Bolton was done to make it gay. There was a great breakfast, and all the
Boltons were at last persuaded to be present except Mrs. Bolton and Mrs.
Nicholas. As to Mrs. Nicholas she was hardly even asked. 'Of course we
would be delighted to see Mrs. Nicholas, if she would come,' Mrs. Robert
said to Nicholas himself. But there had been such long-continued and
absolute hostility between the ladies that this was known to be
impossible. In regard to Mrs. Bolton herself, great efforts were made.
Her husband condescended to beg her to consent on this one occasion to
appear among the Philistines. But as the time came nearer she became
more and more firm in her resolution. 'You shall not touch pitch and not
be defiled,' she said. 'You cannot serve God and Mammon.' When the old
man tried to show her that there was no question of Mammon here, she
evaded him, as she always did on such occasions, either by a real or
simulated deficiency of consequent intelligence. She regarded John
Caldigate as being altogether unregenerate, and therefore a man of the
world,--and therefore a disciple of Mammon. She asked him whether he
wanted her to do what she thought to be sinful. 'It is very sinful
hating people as you hate my sons' families,' he said in his wrath. 'No,
Nicholas, I do not hate their families. I certainly do not hate
Margaret, nor yet Fanny;--but I think that they live in opposition to
the Gospel. Am I to belie my own belief?' Now the old man was quite
certain that his wife did hate both Robert's wife and William's and
would not admit in her own mind this distinction between the conduct of
persons and the persons themselves. But he altogether failed in his
attempts to induce her to go to the breakfast.

The great contest was between the mother and the daughter; but in all
that passed between them no reference was even made to the banquet. As
to that Hester was indifferent. She thought, on the whole, that her
mother would do best to be absent. After all, what is a breakfast;--or
what the significance of any merry-meeting, even for a wedding? There
would no doubt be much said and much done on such an occasion at
variance with her mother's feelings. Even the enforced gaiety of the
dresses would be distasteful to her, and there would hardly be
sufficient cause for pressing her to be present on such an occasion. But
in reference to the church, the question, to Hester's thinking, was very
different, 'Mamma,' she said, 'if you are not there, it will be a
lasting misery to me.'

'How can I go there when I would give so much to save you from going
there yourself?' This was a terrible thing for a mother to say to her
own child on the eve of her wedding, but it had been now said so often
as to have lost something of its sting. It had come to be understood
that Mrs. Bolton would not allow herself to give any assent to the
marriage, but that the marriage was to go on without such assent. All
that had been settled. But still she might go to the church with them
and pray for good results. She feared that evil would come, but still
she might wish for good,--wish for it and pray for it.

'You don't want me to be unhappy, mamma?'

'Want!' said the mother. 'Who can want her child to be unhappy? But
there is an unhappiness harder to be borne, more to be dreaded, enduring
so much longer than that which we may suffer here.'

'Will you not come and pray that I may be delivered also from that? As I
am going from you, will you not let me know that you are there with me
at the last moment. Though you do not love him, you do not wish to
quarrel with me. Oh, mamma, let me feel at any rate that you are there.'
Then the mother promised that she would be there, in the church, though
unknown to or at least unrecognised by any one else. When the morning
came, and when Hester was dropped at The Nurseries, in order that she
might go up and be invested in her finery amidst her bridesmaids, who
were all her cousins, the carriage went on and took Mrs. Bolton to the
church. It was represented to her that, by this arrangement, she would
be forced to remain an hour alone in the cold building. But she was one
of those who regarded all discomfort as meritorious, as in some way
adding something to her claim for heaven. Self-scourging with rods as a
penance, was to her thinking a papistical ordinance most abominable and
damnatory; but the essence of the self-scourging was as comfortable to
her as ever was a hair-shirt to a Roman Catholic enthusiast. So she went
and sat apart in a dark distant pew, dressed in black and deeply veiled,
praying, not it is to be feared, that John Caldigate might be a good
husband to her girl, but that he, as he made his way downward to things
below, might not drag her darling with him. That only a few can be saved
was the fact in all her religion with which she was most thoroughly
conversant. The strait way and the narrow gate, through which only a few
can pass! Were they not known to all believers, to all who had a
glimmering of belief, as an established part of the Christian faith, as
a part so established that to dream even that the gate would be made
broad and the way open would be to dream against the Gospel, against the
very plainest of God's words? If so,--and she would tell herself at all
hours that certainly, certainly, certainly so it was,--then why should
she trouble herself for one so little likely to come in the way of
salvation as this man who was now robbing her of her daughter? If it was
the will of the Almighty,--as it clearly was the will of the
Almighty,--that, out of every hundred, ninety and nine should perish,
could she dare now to pray more than for one? Or if her prayers were
wider must they not be inefficacious? Yes;--there had been the thief
upon the cross! It was all possible. But this man was a thief, not upon
the cross. And, therefore, as she prayed that morning she said not a
prayer for him.

In the meantime the carriage had gone back for the bride, who in very
simple raiment, but yet in bridal-white array, was taken up to the
church. These Boltons were prosperous people, who had all their
carriages, so that there was no lack of vehicles. Two of the girls from
London and two from The Nurseries made up the bevy of bridesmaids who
were as bright and fair as though the bride had come from some worldlier
stock. Mrs. Robert, indeed, had done all she could to give to the whole
concern a becoming bridal brightness, till even Mrs. Daniel had been
tempted to remonstrate. 'I don't see why you shouldn't wear pretty
things if you've got the money to pay for them,' said Mrs. Robert. Mrs.
Daniel shook her head, but on the afternoon before the wedding she
bought an additional ribbon.

Caldigate came over from Folking that morning attended by one John
Jones, an old college friend, as his best man. The squire was not at the
wedding, but on the day before he was with Hester at The Nurseries,
telling her that she should be his dear daughter, and at the same time
giving her a whole set of wicked but very pretty worldly gauds. 'Upon my
word, my dear, he has been very gracious,' said Mrs. Robert, when she
saw them. 'I quite envy the girls being married nowadays, because they
get such pretty things.'

'They are very pretty,' said Hester.

'And must have cost, I'm afraid to say how much money.'

'I suppose it means to say that he will love me, and therefore I am so
glad to have them!' But the squire, though he did mean to say that he
would love her, did not come to the wedding. He was, he said,
unaccustomed to such things, and hoped that he might be excused.

Therefore, from the Folking side there was no one but John Caldigate
himself and John Jones. Of the Babingtons, of course, there was not one.
As long as there was a possibility of success Mrs. Babington had kept up
her remonstrances;--but when there was no longer a possibility she
announced that there was to be an everlasting quarrel between the
houses. Babington and Folking were for the future to know nothing of
each other. Caldigate had hoped that though the ladies would for a time
be unforgiving, his uncle and his male cousins would not take up the
quarrel. But aunt Polly was too strong for that; and he was declared to
be a viper who had been warmed in all their bosoms and had then stung
them all round. 'If you will nurse a viper in your bosom of course he
will sting you,' said Aunt Polly in a letter which she took the trouble
to write to the squire. In reply to which the squire wrote back thus;
'My dear sister, if you will look into your dictionary of natural
history you will see that vipers have no stings. Yours truly, D.
Caldigate.' This letter was supposed to add much to the already existing
offence.

But the marriage ceremony was performed in spite of all this
quarrelling, and the mother standing up in the dark corner of her pew
heard her daughter's silver-clear voice as she vowed to devote herself
to her husband. As she heard it, she also devoted herself. When sorrow
should come as sorrow certainly would come, then she would be ready once
again to be a mother to her child. But till that time should come the
wife of John Caldigate would be nothing to her.

She was not content with thinking and resolving that it should be so,
but she declared her intention in so many words to her daughter. For
poor Hester, though she was proud of her husband, this was in truth a
miserable day. Could she have been induced to separate herself
altogether from her mother on the previous night, or even on that
morning, it would have been better, but there was with her that
customary longing for a last word of farewell which has often made so
many of us wretched. And then there was a feeling that, as she was
giving herself away in marriage altogether in opposition to her mother's
counsels, on that very account she owed to her more attached and
increased observance. Therefore, she had arranged with her husband that
when she returned from the banquet to prepare herself for her journey, a
longer absence than usual should be allowed to her;--so that she might
be taken back to Chesterton, and might thus see her mother the last
after saying farewell to all the others. Then the carriage should return
to The Nurseries and he would be ready to step in, and she need not show
herself again, worn out as she would be with the tears and sobbings
which she anticipated.

It all went as it was arranged, but it would have been much better to
arrange it otherwise. The journey to the Grange and back, together with
the time spent in the interview, took an hour,--and the time went very
slowly with the marriage guests. There always comes a period beyond
which it is impossible to be festive. When the bride left the room, the
bridesmaids and other ladies went with her. Then the gentlemen who
remained hardly knew what to do with each other. Old Mr. Bolton was not
jovial on the occasion, and the four brothers hardly knew how to find
subjects for conversation on such an occasion. The bridegroom felt the
hour to be very long, although he consented to play billiards with the
boys; and John Jones, although he did at last escape and find his way up
among the girls, thought that his friend had married himself into a very
sombre family. But all this was pleasant pastime indeed compared with
that which poor Hester endured in her mother's bedroom. 'So it has been
done,' said Mrs. Bolton, sitting in a comfortless little chair, which
she was accustomed to use when secluded, with her Bible, from all the
household. She spoke in a voice that might have been fit had a son of
hers been just executed on the gallows.

'Oh, mamma, do not speak of it like that!'

'My darling, my own one; would you have me pretend what I do not feel?'
'Why, yes. Even that would be better than treatment such as this.' That
would have been Hester's reply could she have spoken her mind; but she
could not speak it, and therefore she stood silent. 'I will not pretend.
You and your father have done this thing against my wishes and against
my advice.'

'It is I that have done it, mamma.'

'You would not have persevered had he been firm,--as firm as I have
been. But he has vacillated, turning hither and thither, serving God and
Mammon. And he has allowed himself to be ruled by his own son. I will
never, never speak to Robert Bolton again.'

'Oh mamma, do not say that.'

'I do say it. I swear it. You shall not touch pitch and not be defiled.
If there be pitch on earth he is pitch. If your eye offend you, pluck it
out. He is my step-son, I know; but I will pluck him out like an eye
that has offended. It is he that has robbed me of my child.'

'Am I not still your child?' said Hester, going down on her knees with
her hands in her mother's lap and her eyes turned up to her mother's
face.

'No. You are not mine any longer. You are his. You are that man's wife.
When he bids you do that which is evil in the sight of the Lord, you
must do it. And he will bid you. You are not my child now. As days run
on and sins grow black I cannot warn you now against the wrath to come.
But though you are not my child, though you are this man's wife, I will
pray for you.'

'And for him?'

'I do not know. I cannot say. Who am I that I should venture to pray
specially for a stranger? That His way may be shown to all
sinners;--thus will I pray for him. And it will be shown. Though whether
he will walk in it,--who can say that?' So much was true of John
Caldigate, no doubt, and is true of all; but there was a tone in her
voice which implied that in regard to this special sinner there could be
very little hope indeed.

'Why should you think that he is bad, mamma?'

'We are all bad. There is no doubt about his being bad. There is not one
among us fit to sweep the lowest step of God's throne. But they who are
His people shall be made bright enough to sit round His feet. May the
time come when you, my darling, shall be restored to the fold.' The poor
young wife by this time had acknowledged to herself the mistake she had
made in thus coming to her mother after her marriage. She now was of
course in that ecstatic phase of existence which makes one's own self
altogether subordinate to the self of another person. That her husband
should be happy constituted her hope of happiness; that he should be
comfortable, her comfort. If he were thought worthy, that would be her
worthiness; or if he were good, that would be her goodness. And even as
to those higher, more distant aspirations, amidst which her mother was
always dwelling, she would take no joy for herself which did not include
him. The denunciations against him which were so plainly included even
in her mother's blessings and prayers for herself, did not frighten her
on behalf of the man to whom she had devoted herself. She could see the
fanaticism and fury of her mother's creed. But she could not escape from
the curse of the moment. When that last imprecation was made by the
woman, with her hands folded and her eyes turned up to heaven, Hester
could only bury her face on her mother's knees and weep. 'When that time
comes, and I know it will come, you shall return to me, and once more be
my child,' said the mother.

'You do not mean that I shall leave my husband?'

'Who can tell? If you do, and I am living, you shall be my child. Till
then we must be apart. How can it be otherwise? Can I give my cheek to a
man to be kissed, and call him my son, when I think that he has robbed
me of my only treasure?'

This was so terrible that the daughter could only hang around her
mother's neck, sobbing and kissing her at the same time, and then go
without another word. She was sure of this,--that if she must lose one
or the other, her mother or her husband, then she would lose her mother.
When she returned to The Nurseries, her husband, according to agreement
came out to her at once. She had bidden adieu to all the others; but at
the last moment her father put his hand into the carriage, so that she
could take it and kiss it. 'Mamma is so sad,' she said to him; 'go home
to her and comfort her.' Of course the old man did go home, but he was
aware that there would for some time be little comfort there either for
him or for his wife. He and his sons had been too powerful for her in
arranging the marriage; but now, now that it was done, nothing could
stop her reproaches. He had been made to think it wrong on one side to
shut his girl up, and now from the other side he was being made to think
that he had done very wrong in allowing her to escape.

It had been arranged that they should be driven out of Cambridge to the
railway station at Audley End on their way to London; so that they might
avoid the crowd of people who would know them at the Cambridge station.
As soon as they had got away from the door of Robert Bolton's house, the
husband attempted to comfort his young wife. 'At any rate it is over,'
he said, alluding of course to the tedium of their wedding festivities.

'So much is over,' she replied.

'You do not regret anything?'

She shook her head slowly as she leaned lovingly against his shoulder.
'You are not sorry, Hester, that you have become my wife?'

'I had to be your wife,--because I love you.'

'Is that a sorrow?'

'I had been all my mother's;--and now I am all yours. She has thrown me
off because I have disobeyed her. I hope you will never throw me off.'

'Is it likely?'

'I think not. I know that I shall never throw you off. They have tried
to make me believe that you are not all that you ought to be--in
religion. But now your religion shall be my religion, and your life my
life. I shall be of your colour--altogether. But, John, a limb cannot
be wrenched out of a socket, as I have been torn away from my mother,
without pain.'

'She will forgive it all when we come back.'

'I fear--I fear. I never knew her to forgive anything yet.' This was
very bad; but nevertheless it was plain to him as it had been plain to
Robert and William Bolton, that not because of the violence of the
woman's character should the life of her daughter have been sacrificed
to her. His duty to make her new life bright for her was all the more
plain and all the more sound,--and as they made their first journey
together he explained to her how sacred that duty should always be to
him.



Chapter XXII

As To Touching Pitch



Before the wedding old Mr. Caldigate arranged with his son that he would
give up to the young married people the house at Folking, and indeed the
entire management of the property. 'I have made up my mind about it,'
said the squire, who at this time was living with his son on happy
terms. 'I have never been adapted for the life of a country gentleman,'
he continued, 'though I have endeavoured to make the best of it, and
have in a certain way come to love the old place. But I don't care about
wheat nor yet about bullocks;--and a country house should always have a
mistress.' And so it was settled. Mr. Caldigate took for himself a house
in Cambridge, whither he proposed to remove nothing but himself and his
books, and promised to have Folking ready for his son and his son's
bride on their return from their wedding tour. In all this Robert Bolton
and the old squire acted together, the brother thinking that the
position would suit his sister well. But others among the Boltons,--Mrs
Daniel, the London people, and even Mrs. Robert herself,--had thought
that the 'young people' had better be further away from the influences
or annoyances of Puritan Grange. Robert, however, had declared that it
would be absurd to yield to the temper, and prejudice, and fury--as he
called it--of his father's wife. When this discussion was going on she
had absolutely quarrelled with the attorney, and the attorney had made
up his mind that she should be--ignored. And then, too, as Robert
explained, it must be for the husband and not for the wife to choose
where they would live. Folking was, or at any rate would be, his own, by
right of inheritance, and it was not to be thought of that a man should
be driven away from his natural duties and from the enjoyment of his
natural privileges by the mad humours of a fanatic female. In all this
old Mr. Bolton was hardly consulted; but there was no reason why he
should express an opinion. He was giving his daughter absolutely no
fortune; nor had he even vouchsafed to declare what money should be
coming to her at his death. John Caldigate had positively refused to say
a word on the subject;--had refused even when instigated to do so by
Hester's brother. 'It shall be just as he pleases,' Caldigate had said.
'I told your father that I was not looking after his daughter with any
view to money, and I will be as good as my word.' Robert had told her
father that something should be arranged;--but the old man had put it
off from day to day, and nothing had been arranged. And so it came to
pass that he was excluded almost from having an opinion as to his
daughter's future life.

It was understood that the marriage trip should be continued for some
months. Caldigate was fettered by no business that required an early
return. He had worked hard for five years, and felt that he had earned a
holiday. And Hester naturally was well disposed to be absent for as long
a time as would suit her husband. Time, and time alone, might perhaps
soften her mother's heart. They went to Italy, and stayed during the
winter months in Rome, and then, when the fine weather came, they
returned across the Alps, and lingered about among the playgrounds of
Europe, visiting Switzerland, the Tyrol, and the Pyrenees, and returning
home to Cambridgeshire at the close of the following September.

And then there was a reason for the return. It would be well that the
coming heir to the Folking estate should be born at Folking. Whether an
heir, or only an insignificant girl, it would be well that the child
should be born amidst the comforts of home; and so they came back. When
they reached the station at Cambridge the squire was there to receive
them, as were also Robert Bolton and his wife. 'I am already in my new
house,' said the old man,--'but I mean to go out with you for to-day and
to-morrow, and just stay till you are comfortably fixed.'

'I never see her myself,' said Robert, in answer to a whispered inquiry
from his sister. 'Or it would be more correct to say she will never see
me. But I hear from the others that she speaks of you constantly.'

'She has written to me of course. But she never mentions John. In
writing back I have always sent his love, and have endeavoured to show
that I would not recognise any quarrel.'

'If I were you,' said Robert, 'I would not take him with me when I
went.' Then the three Caldigates were taken off to Folking.

A week passed by and then arrived the day on which it had been arranged
that Hester was to go to Chesterton and see her mother. There had been
numerous letters, and at last the matter was settled between Caldigate
and old Mr. Bolton at the bank. 'I think you had better let her come
alone,' the old man had said when Caldigate asked whether he might be
allowed to accompany his wife. 'Mrs. Bolton has not been well since her
daughter's marriage and has felt the desolation of her position very
much. She is weak and nervous, and I think you had better let Hester
come alone.' Had Caldigate known his mother-in-law better he would not
have suggested a visit from himself. No one who did know her would have
looked forward to see her old hatred eradicated by an absence of nine
months. Hester therefore went into Cambridge alone, and was taken up to
the house by her father. As she entered the iron gates she felt almost
as though she were going into the presence of one who was an enemy to
herself. And yet when she saw her mother, she rushed at once into the
poor woman's arms. 'Oh, mamma, dear mamma, dearest mamma! My own, own,
own mamma!'

Mrs. Bolton was sitting by the open window of a small breakfast parlour
which looked into the garden, and had before her on her little table her
knitting and a volume of sermons. 'So you have come back, Hester,' she
said after a short pause. She had risen at first to receive her
daughter, and had returned her child's caresses, but had then reseated
herself quickly, as though anxious not to evince any strong feeling on
the occasion.

'Yes, mamma, I have come back. We have been so happy!'

'I am glad you have been happy. Such joys are short-lived; but, still--'

'He has been so good to me, mamma!'

Good! What was the meaning of the word good? She doubted the goodness of
such goodness as his. Do not they who are tempted by the pleasures of
the world always praise the good-nature and kindness of them by whom
they are tempted? There are meanings to the word good which are so
opposed one to another! 'A husband is, I suppose, generally kind to his
wife, at any rate for a little time,' she said.

'Oh, mamma, I do so wish you knew him!' The woman turned her face round,
away from her daughter, and assumed that look of hard, determined
impregnable obstinacy with which Hester had been well acquainted all
her life. But the young wife had come there with a purpose, not strong
perhaps, in actual hope, but resolute even against hope to do her best.
There must be an enduring misery to her unless she could bring her
mother into some friendly relation with her husband, and she had
calculated that the softness produced by her return would give a better
chance for this than she might find at any more protracted time. But
Mrs. Bolton had also made her calculations and had come to her
determination. She turned her head away therefore, and sat quite silent,
with the old stubborn look of resolved purpose.

'Mamma, you will let him come to you now?'

'No.'

'Not your own Hester's husband?'

'No.'

'Are we to be divided for ever?'

'Did I not tell you before,--when you were going? Shall I lie, and say
that I love him? I will not touch pitch, lest I be defiled.'

'Mamma, he is my husband. You shall not call him pitch. He is my very
own. Mamma, mamma!--recall the word that you have said.'

The woman felt that it had to be recalled in some degree. 'I said
nothing of him, Hester. I call that pitch which I believe to be wrong,
and if I swerve but a hair's-breadth wittingly towards what I believe to
be evil, then I shall be touching pitch and then I shall be defiled. I
did not say that he was pitch. Judge not and ye shall not be judged.'
But if ever judgment was pronounced, and a verdict given, and penalties
awarded, such was done now in regard to John Caldigate.

'But, mamma, why will it be doing evil to be gracious to your daughter's
husband?'

The woman had an answer to this appeal very clearly set forth in her
mind though she was unable to produce it clearly in words. When the
marriage had been first discussed she had opposed it with all her
power, because she had believed the man to be wicked. He was
unregenerate;--and when she had put it to her husband and to the
Nicholases and to the Daniels to see whether such was not the case, they
had not contradicted her. It was acknowledged that he was such a one as
Robert,--a worldly man all round. And then he was worse than Robert,
having been a spendthrift, a gambler, and, if the rumours which had
reached them were true, given to the company of loose women. She had
striven with all her might that such a one should not be allowed to take
her daughter from her, and had striven in vain. He had succeeded;--but
his character was not changed by his success. Did she not know him to be
chaff that must be separated by the wind from the corn and then consumed
in the fire? His character was not altered because that human being whom
she loved the best in all the world had fallen into his power. He was
not the less chaff,--the less likely to be burned. That her daughter
should become chaff also,--ah, there was the agony of it! If instead of
taking the husband and wife together she could even now separate
them,--would it not be her duty to do so? Of all duties would it not be
the first? Let the misery here be what it might, what was that to
eternal misery or to eternal bliss? When therefore she was asked whether
she would be doing evil were she to be gracious to her own son-in-law,
she was quite, quite sure that any such civility would be a sin. The man
was pitch,--though she had been coerced by the exigencies of a worldly
courtesy to deny that she had intended to say so. He was pitch to her,
and she declared to herself that were she to touch him she would be
denied. But she knew not in what language to explain all this. 'What you
call graciousness, Hester, is an obligation of which religion knows
nothing,' she said after a pause.

'I don't know why it shouldn't. Are we to be divided, mamma, because of
religion?'

'If you were alone----'

'But I am not alone. Oh, mamma, mamma, do you not know that I am going
to become a mother?'

'My child!'

'And you will not be with me, because you think that you and John differ
as to religious forms.'

'Forms!' she said. 'Forms! Is the spirit there? By their fruits ye shall
know them. I ask you yourself whether his life as you have seen it is
such as I should think conformable with the Word of God?'

'Whose life is so?'

'But an effort may be made. Do not let us palter with each other,
Hester! There are the sheep,--and there are the goats! Of which is he?
According to the teaching of your early years, in which flock would he
be found if account were taken now?'

There was something so terrible in this that the young wife who was thus
called upon to denounce her husband separated herself by some steps from
her mother, retreating back to a chair in which she seated herself. 'Do
you remember, mamma, the words you said just now? Judge not and ye shall
not be judged.'

'Nor do I judge.'

'And how does it go on? Forgive and ye shall be forgiven.'

'Neither do I judge, nor can I forgive.' This she said, putting all her
emphasis on the pronoun, and thereby declaring her own humility. 'But
the great truths of my religion are dear to me. I will not trust myself
in the way of sinners, because by some worldly alliance to which I
myself was no consenting party, I have been brought into worldly contact
with them. I at any rate will be firm. I say to you now no more than I
said, ah, so many times, when it was still possible that my words should
not be vain. They were vain. But not on that account am I to be
changed. I will not be wound like a skein of silk round your little
finger.' That was it. Was she to give way in everything because they had
been successful among them in carrying out this marriage in opposition
to her judgment? Was she to assent that this man be treated as a sheep
because he had prevailed against her, while she was so well aware that
he would still have been a goat to them all had he not prevailed? She at
any rate was sincere. She was consistent. She would be true to her
principles even at the expense of all her natural yearnings. Of what use
to her would be her religious convictions if she were to give them up
just because her heart-strings were torn and agonised? The man was a
goat though he were ten times told her child's husband. So she looked
again away into the garden and resolved that she would not yield in a
single point.

'Good-bye, mamma,' said Hester, rising from her chair, and coming up to
her mother.

'Good-bye, Hester. God bless you, my child!'

'You will not come to me to Folking?'

'No. I will not go to Folking.'

'I may come to you here?'

'Oh yes;--as often as you will, and for as long as you will.'

'I cannot stay away from home without him, you know,' said the young
wife.

'As often as you will, and for as long as you will,' the mother said
again, repeating the words with emphasis. 'Would I could have you here
as I used to do, so as to look after every want and administer to every
wish. My fingers shall work for your baby, and my prayers shall be said
for him and for you, morning and night. I am not changed, Hester. I am
still and ever shall be, while I am spared, your own loving mother.' So
they parted, and Hester was driven back to Folking.

In forming our opinion as to others we are daily brought into
difficulty by doubting how much we should allow to their convictions,
and how far we are justified in condemning those who do not accede to
our own. Mrs. Bolton believed every word that she said. There was no
touch of hypocrisy about her. Could she without sting of conscience have
gone off to Folking and ate of her son-in-law's bread and drank of his
cup, and sat in his presence, no mother living would have enjoyed more
thoroughly the delight of waiting upon and caressing and bending over
her child. She denied herself all this with an agony of spirit, groaning
not only over their earthly separation, thinking not only of her
daughter's present dangers, but tormented also by reflections as to
dangers and possible separations in another world. But she knew she was
right. She knew at least that were she to act otherwise there would be
upon her conscience the weight of sin. She did not know that the
convictions on which she rested with such confidence had come in truth
from her injured pride,--had settled themselves in her mind because
she had been beaten in her endeavours to prevent her daughter's
marriage. She was not aware that she regarded John Caldigate as a
goat,--as one who beyond all doubt was a goat,--simply because John
Caldigate had had his way, while she had been debarred from hers. Such
no doubt was the case. And yet who can deny her praise for fidelity to
her own convictions? When we read of those who have massacred and
tortured their opponents in religion, have boiled alive the unfortunates
who have differed from themselves as to the meaning of an unintelligible
word or two, have vigorously torn the entrails out of those who have
been pious with a piety different from their own, how shall we dare to
say that they should be punished for their fidelity? Mrs. Bolton spent
much of that afternoon with her knees on the hard boards,--thinking that
a hassock would have taken something from the sanctity of the
action,--wrestling for her child in prayer. And she told herself that
her prayer had been heard. She got up more than ever assured that she
must not touch pitch lest she should be defiled. Let us pray for what we
will with earnestness,--though it be for the destruction of half of a
world,--we are sure to think that our prayers have been heard.



Chapter XXIII

The New Heir



Things went on smoothly at Folking, or with apparent smoothness, for
three months, during which John Caldigate surprised both his friends and
his enemies by the exemplary manner in which he fulfilled his duties as
a parish squire. He was put on the commission, and was in the way to
become the most active Justice of the Peace in those parts. He made
himself intimate with all the tenants, and was almost worshipped by Mr.
Ralph Holt, his nearest neighbour, to whose judgment he submitted
himself in all agricultural matters. He shot a little, but moderately,
having no inclination to foster what is called a head of game. And he
went to church very regularly, having renewed his intimacy with Mr.
Bromley, the parson, a gentleman who had unfortunately found it
necessary to quarrel with the old squire, because the old squire had
been so manifestly a pagan.

There had been unhappiness in the parish on this head, and, especially,
unhappiness to Mr. Bromley, who was a good man. That Mr. Caldigate
should be what he called a pagan had been represented by Mr. Bromley to
his friends as a great misfortune, and especially a misfortune to the
squire himself. But he would have ignored that in regard to social
life,--so Mr. Bromley said when discussing the matter,--if the pagan
would have desisted from arguing the subject. But when Mr. Caldigate
insisted on the parson owning the unreasonableness of his own belief,
and called upon him to confess himself to be either a fool or a
hypocrite, then the parson found himself constrained to drop all further
intercourse. 'It is the way with all priests,' said the old squire
triumphantly to the first man he could get to hear him. 'The moment you
disagree with them they become your enemies at once, and would
straightway kill you if they had the power.' He probably did not know
how very disagreeable he had made himself to the poor clergyman.

But now matters were on a much better footing, and all the parish
rejoiced. The new squire was seen in his pew every Sunday morning, and
often entertained the parson at the house. The rumour of this change was
indeed so great that more than the truth reached the ears of some of the
Boltons, and advantage was taken of it by those who desired to prove to
Mrs. Bolton that the man was not a goat. What more would she have? He
went regularly to morning and evening service,--here it was that rumour
exaggerated our hero's virtues,--did all his duty as a country
gentleman, and was kind to his wife. The Daniels, who were but lukewarm
people, thought that Mrs. Bolton was bound to give way. Mrs. Robert
declared among her friends that the poor woman was becoming mad from
religion, and the old banker himself was driven very hard for a reply
when Robert asked him whether such a son-in-law as John Caldigate ought
to be kept at arms' length. The old man did in truth hate the name of
John Caldigate, and regretted bitterly the indiscretion of that day when
the spendthrift had been admitted within his gates. Though he had agreed
to the marriage, partly from a sense of duty to his child, partly under
the influences of his son, he had, since that, been subject to his wife
for nine or ten months. She had not been able to prevail against him in
action; but no earthly power could stop her tongue. Now when these new
praises were dinned into his ears, when he did convince himself that, as
far as worldly matters went, his son-in-law was likely to become a
prosperous and respected gentleman, he would fain have let the question
of hostility drop. There need not have been much intercourse between
Puritan Grange and Folking; but then also there need be no quarrel. He
was desirous that Caldigate should be allowed to come to the house, and
that even visits of ceremony should be made to Folking. But Mrs. Bolton
would have nothing to do with such half friendship. In the time that was
coming she must be everything or nothing to her daughter. And she could
not be brought to think that one who had been so manifestly a goat
should cease to be a goat so suddenly. In other words, she could not
soften her heart towards the man who had conquered her. Therefore when
the time came for the baby to be born there had been no reconciliation
between Puritan Grange and Folking.

Mrs. Babington had been somewhat less stern. Immediately on the return
of the married couple to their own home she had still been full of
wrath, and had predicted every kind of evil; but when she heard that all
tongues were saying all good things of this nephew of hers, and when she
was reminded by her husband that blood is thicker than water, and when
she reflected that it is the duty of Christians to forgive injuries, she
wrote to the sinner as follows:--


    'BABINGTON HALL, _November_ 187-.

    'My DEAR JOHN,--We are all here desirous that bygones should be
    bygones, and are willing to forgive,--though we may not perhaps be
    able to forget. I am quite of opinion that resentments should not be
    lasting, let them have been ever so well justified by circumstances
    at first.

    'Your uncle bids me say that he hopes you will come over and shoot
    the Puddinghall coverts with Humphry and John. They propose Thursday
    next but would alter the day if that does not suit.

    'We have heard of your wife's condition, of course, and trust that
    everything may go well with her. I shall hope to make her
    acquaintance some day when she is able to receive visitors.

    'I am particularly induced at the present moment to hold out to you
    once more the right hand of fellowship and family affection by the
    fact that dear Julia is about to settle herself most advantageously
    in life. She is engaged to marry the Rev. Augustus Smirkie, the
    rector of Plum-cum-Pippins near Woodbridge in this county. We all
    like Mr. Smirkie very much indeed, and think _that Julia has been
    most fortunate in her choice_.' (These words were underscored doubly
    by way of showing how very much superior was Mr. Augustus Smirkie to
    Mr. John Caldigate.) 'I may perhaps as well mention, to avoid
    anything disagreeable at present, that Julia is at this time staying
    with Mr. Smirkie's mother at Ipswich.--Your affectionate aunt,

    'MARYANNE BABINGTON.'


Caldigate was at first inclined to send, in answer to this letter, a
reply which would not have been agreeable to his aunt, but was talked
into a better state of mind by his wife. 'Telling me that she will
forgive me! The question is whether I will forgive her!' 'Let that be
the question,' said his wife, 'and do forgive her. She wants to come
round, and, of course, she has to make the best of it for herself. Tell
her from me that I shall be delighted to see her whenever she chooses to
come.'

'Poor Julia!' said Caldigate, laughing.

'Of course you think so, John. That's natural enough. Perhaps I think so
too. But what has that to do with it?'

'It's rather unfortunate that I know so much about Mr. Smirkie. He is
fifty years old, and has five children by his former wife.'

'I don't see why he shouldn't be a good husband for all that.'

'And Plum-cum-Pippins is less than _£300_ a-year. Poor dear Julia!'

'I believe you are jealous, John.'

'Well; yes. Look at the way she has underscored it. Of course I'm
jealous.' Nevertheless he wrote a courteous answer promising to go over
and shoot the coverts, and stay for one night.

He did go over and shoot the coverts, and stayed for one night; but the
visit was not very successful. Aunt Polly would talk of the glories of
the Plum-cum-Pippins rectory in a manner which implied that dear Julia's
escape from a fate which once threatened her had been quite
providential. When he alluded,--as he did, but should not have done,--to
the young Smirkies, she spoke with almost ecstatic enthusiasm of the
'dear children,' Caldigate knowing the while that the eldest child must
be at least sixteen. And then, though Aunt Polly was kind to him, she
was kind in an almost insulting manner,--as though he were to be
received for the sake of auld lang syne in spite of the step he had
taken downwards in the world. He did his best to bear all this with no
more than an inward smile, telling himself that it behoved him as a man
to allow her to have her little revenge. But the smile was seen, and the
more that was seen of it, the more often was he reminded that he had
lost that place in the Babington elysium which might have been his, had
he not been too foolish to know what was good for him. And a hint was
given that the Boltons a short time since had not been aristocratic,
whereas it was proved to him from Burke's Landed Gentry that the
Smirkies had been established in Suffolk ever since Cromwell's time. No
doubt their land had gone, but still there had been Smirkies.

'How did you get on with them?' his father asked, as he passed home
through Cambridge.

'Much the same as usual. Of course in such a family a son-in-law elect
is more thought of than a useless married man.'

'They snubbed you.'

'Aunt Polly snubbed me a little, and I don't think I had quite so good a
place for the shooting as in the old days. But all that was to be
expected. I quite agree with Aunt Polly that family quarrels are foolish
things.'

'I am not so sure. Some people doom themselves to an infinity of
annoyance because they won't avoid the society of disagreeable people. I
don't know that I have ever quarrelled with any one. I have never
intended to do so. But when I find that a man or woman is not
sympathetic I think it better to keep out of the way.' That was the
squire's account of himself. Those who knew him in the neighbourhood
were accustomed to say that he had quarrelled with everybody about him.

In December the baby was born, just twelve months after the marriage,
and there was great demonstrations of joy, and ringing of bells in the
parishes of Utterden and Netherden. The baby was a boy, and all was as
it ought to be. John Caldigate himself, when he came to look at his
position and to understand the feeling of those around him, was
astonished to find how strong was the feeling in his own favour, and how
thoroughly the tenants had been outraged by the idea that the property
might be made over to a more distant member of the family. What was it
to them who lived in the house at Folking? Why should they have been
solicitous in the matter? They had their leases, and there was no
adequate reason for supposing that one Caldigate would be more pleasant
in his dealing with them than another. And yet it was evident to him now
that this birth of a real heir at the squire's house, with a fair
prospect that the acres would descend in a right line, was regarded by
them all with almost superstitious satisfaction. The bells were rung as
though the church-towers were going to be pulled down, and there was not
a farmer or a farmer's wife who did not come to the door of Folking to
ask how the young mother and the baby were doing.

'This is as it should be, squoire,' said Ralph Holt, who was going about
in his Sunday clothes, as though it was a day much too sacred for muck
and work. He had caught hold of Caldigate in the stable yard, and was
now walking with him down towards the ferry.

'Yes;--she's doing very well, they tell me,' said the newly-made father.

'In course she'll do well. Why not? A healthy lass like she, if I may
make so free? There ain't nothing like having them strong and young,
with no town-bred airs about 'em. I never doubted as she wouldn't do
well. I can tell from their very walk what sort of mothers they'll be.'
Mr. Holt had long been known as the most judicious breeder of stock in
that neighbourhood. 'But it ain't only that, squoire.'

'The young'un will do well too, I hope.'

'In course he will. Why not? The foals take after their dams for a time,
pretty much always. But what I mean is;--we be all glad you've come back
from them out-o'-the-way parts.'

'I had to go there, Holt.'

'Well;--we don't know much about that, sir, and I don't mean nothing
about that.'

'To tell the truth, my friend, I should not have done very well here
unless I had been able to top-dress the English acres with a little
Australian gold.'

'Like enough, squoire; like enough. But I wasn't making bold to say
nothing about that. For a young gentleman to go out a while and then to
come back was all very well. Most of 'em does it. But when there was a
talk as you wern't to come back, and that Master George was to take the
place;--why then it did seem as things was very wrong.'

'Master George might have been quite as good as I.'

'It wasn't the proper thing, squoire. It wasn't straight. If you hadn't
never a' been, sir, or if the Lord Almighty had taken you as he did the
others, God bless 'em, nobody wouldn't have had a right to say nothing.
But as you was to the fore it wouldn't have been straight, and no one
wouldn't have thought it straight.' Instigated by this John Caldigate
looked a good deal into the matter that day, and began to feel that,
having been born Squire of Folking, he had, perhaps, no right to deal
with himself otherwise. Then various thoughts passed through his mind as
to other dealings which had taken place. How great had been the chance
against his being Squire of Folking when he started with Dick Shand to
look for Australian gold! And how little had been the chance of his
calling Hester Bolton his wife when he was pledging his word to Mrs.
Smith on board the Goldfinder! But now it had all come round to him just
as he would have had it. There was his wife up-stairs in the big
bed-room with her baby,--the wife as to whom he had made that romantic
resolution when he had hardly spoken to her; and there had been the
bells ringing and the tenants congratulating him, and everything had
been pleasant. His father who had so scorned him,--who in the days of
Davis and Newmarket had been so well justified in scorning him,--was now
his closest friend. Thinking of all this, he told himself that he had
certainly received better things than he had deserved.

A day or two after the birth of the baby Mrs. Robert came out to see the
new prodigy, and on the following day Mrs. Daniel. Mrs. Robert was, of
course, very friendly and disposed to be in all respects a good
sister-in-law. Hester's great grief was in regard to her mother. She was
steadfast enough in her resolution to stand in all respects by her
husband if there must be a separation,--but the idea of the separation
robbed her of much of her happiness. Mrs. Robert was aware that a great
effort was being made with Mrs. Bolton. The young squire's
respectability was so great, and his conduct so good, that not only the
Boltons themselves, but neighbours around who knew aught of the Bolton
affairs, were loud in denouncing the woman for turning up her nose at
such a son-in-law. The great object was to induce her to say that she
would allow Caldigate to enter the house at Chesterton. 'You know I
never see her now,' said Mrs. Robert; 'I'm too much of a sinner to think
of entering the gates.'

'Do not laugh at her, Margaret,' said Hester.

'I do not mean to laugh at her. It is simply the truth. Robert and I
have made up our minds that it is better for us all that I should not
put myself in her way.'

'Think how different it must be for me!'

'Of course it is. It is dreadful to think that she should be
so--prejudiced. But what can I do, dear? If they will go on persevering,
she will, of course, have to give way.' The 'they' spoken of were the
Daniels, and old Mr. Bolton himself, and latterly the Nicholases, all of
whom were of opinion that the separation of the mother from her daughter
was very dreadful, especially when it came to be understood that the
squire of Folking went regularly to his parish church.

On the next day Mrs. Daniel came out; and though she was much less liked
by Hester than her younger sister-in-law, she brought more comfortable
tidings. She had been at the Grange a day or two before, and Mrs. Bolton
had almost consented to say that she would see John Caldigate. 'You
shouldn't be in a hurry, you know, my dear,' said Mrs. Daniel.

'But what has John done that there should be any question about all
this?'

'I suppose he was a little--just a little--what they call fast once.'

'He got into debt when he was a boy,' said the wife, 'and then paid off
everything and a great deal more by his own industry. It seems to me
that everybody ought to be proud of him.'

'I don't think your mother is proud of him, my dear.'

'Poor mamma!'

'I hope he'll go when he's told to do so.'

'John! Of course he'll go if I ask him. There's nothing he wouldn't do
to make me happy. But really when I talk to him about it at all, I am
ashamed of myself. Poor mamma!' The result of this visit was, however,
very comforting. Mrs Daniel had seen Mrs. Bolton, and had herself been
witness to the fact that Mrs. Bolton had mitigated the sternness of her
denial when asked to receive her son-in-law at Puritan Grange. It was,
said Mrs. Daniel, the settled opinion of the Bolton family that, in the
course of another month or so, the woman would be induced to give way
under the pressure put upon her by the family generally.



Chapter XXIV

News from the Gold Mines



It was said at the beginning of the last chapter that things had gone on
smoothly, or with apparent smoothness, at Folking since the return of
the Caldigates from their wedding tour; but there had in truth been a
small cloud in the Folking heavens over and beyond that Babington haze
which was now vanishing, and the storm at Chesterton as to which hopes
were entertained that it would clear itself away. It will perhaps be
remembered that Caldigate's offer for the sale of his interest in the
Polyeuka mine had been suddenly accepted by certain enterprising persons
in Australia, and that the money itself had been absolutely forthcoming.
This had been in every way fortunate, as he had been saved from the
trouble of another journey to the colony; and his money matters had been
put on such a footing as to make him altogether comfortable But just
when he heard that the money had been lodged to his account,--and when
the money actually had been so paid,--he received a telegram from Mr.
Crinkett, begging that the matter might be for a time postponed. This,
of course, was out of the question. His terms had been accepted,--which
might have gone for very little had not the money been forthcoming. But
the cash was positively in his hands. Who ever heard of a man
'postponing' an arrangement in such circumstances? Let them do what they
might with Polyeuka, he was safe! He telegraphed back to say that there
could be no postponement As far as he was concerned the whole thing was
settled. Then there came a multiplicity of telegrams, very costly to the
Crinkett interest;--costly also and troublesome to himself; for he,
though the matter was so pleasantly settled as far as he was concerned,
could not altogether ignore the plaints that were made to him. Then
there came very long letters, long and loud; letters not only from
Crinkett, but from others, telling him that the Polyeuka gold had come
to an end, the lode disappearing altogether, as lodes sometimes do
disappear The fact was that the Crinkett Company asked to have back half
its money, offering him the Polyeuka mine in its entirety if he chose to
accept it.

John Caldigate, though in England he could be and was a liberal
gentleman, had been long enough in Australia to know that if he meant to
hold his own among such men as Mr. Crinkett, he must make the best of
such turns of fortune as chance might give him. Under no circumstances
would Crinkett have been generous to him. Had Polyeuka suddenly become
more prolific in the precious metal than any mine in the colony the
Crinkett Company would have laughed at any claim made by him for further
payment. When a bargain has been fairly made, the parties must make
the best of it. He was therefore very decided in his refusal to make
restitution, though he was at the same time profuse in his expressions
of sorrow.

Then there came a threat,--not from Crinkett, but from Mrs. Euphemia
Smith. And the letter was not signed Euphemia Smith,--but Euphemia
Caldigate. And the letter was as follows:---


    'In spite of all your treachery to me I do not wish to ruin you, or
    to destroy your young wife, by proving myself in England to have
    been married to you at Ahalala. But I will do so unless you assent
    to the terms which Crinkett has proposed. He and I are in
    partnership in the matter with two or three others, and are willing
    to let all that has gone before be forgotten if we have means given
    us to make another start. You cannot feel that the money you have
    received is fairly yours, and I can hardly think you would wish to
    become rich by taking from me all that I have earned after so many
    hardships. If you will do as I propose, you had better send out an
    agent. On paying us the money he shall not only have the
    marriage-certificate, but shall stand by and see me married to
    Crinkett, who is now a widower. After that, of course, I can make no
    claim to you. If you will not do this, both I and Crinkett, and the
    other man who was present at our marriage, and Anne Young, who has
    been with me ever since, will go at once to England, and the law
    must take its course.

    'I have no scruple in demanding this as you owe me so much more.

    'Allan, the Wesleyan who married us, has gone out of the colony, no
    one knows where,--but I send you the copy of the certificate; and
    all the four of us who were there are still together. And there were
    others who were at Ahalala at the time, and who remember the
    marriage well. Dick Shand was not in the chapel, but Dick knew all
    about it. There is quite plenty of evidence.

    'Send back by the wire word what you will do, and let your agent
    come over as soon as possible.

    'EUPHEMIA CALDIGATE.'


However true or however false the allegations made in the above letter
may have been, for a time it stunned him greatly. This letter reached
him about a month before the birth of his son, and for a day or two it
disturbed him greatly. He did not show it to his wife, but wandered
about the place alone thinking whether he would take any notice of it,
and what notice. At last he resolved that he would take the letter to
his brother-in-law Robert, and ask the attorney's advice. 'How much of
it is true?' demanded Robert, when he read the letter twice from
beginning to end.

'A good deal,' said Caldigate,--'as much as may be, with the exception
that I was never married to the woman.'

'I suppose not that.' Robert Bolton as he spoke was very grave, but did
not at first seem disposed to be angry. 'Had you not better tell me
everything, do you think?'

'It is for that purpose that I have come and brought you the letter. You
understand about the money.'

'I suppose so.'

'There can be no reason why I should return a penny of it?'

'Certainly not, now. You certainly must not return it under a
threat,--even though the woman should be starving. There can be no
circumstances--' and as he spoke he dashed his hand down upon the
table,--'no circumstances in which a man should allow money to be
extorted from him by a threat. For Hester's sake you must not do that.'

'No;--no; I must not do that, of course.'

'And now tell me what is true?' There was something of authority in the
tone of his voice, something perhaps of censure, something too of doubt,
which went much against the grain with Caldigate. He had determined to
tell his story, feeling that counsel was necessary to him, but he wished
so to tell it as to subject himself to no criticism and to admit no
fault. He wanted assistance, but he wanted it on friendly and
sympathetic terms. He had a great dislike to being--'blown up,' as he
would probably have expressed it himself, and he already thought that he
saw in his companion's eye a tendency that way. Turning all this in his
mind, he paused a moment before he began to tell his tale. 'You say that
a good deal in this woman's letter is true. Had you not better tell me
what is true?'

'I was very intimate with her.'

'Did she ever live with you?'

'Yes, she did.'

'As your wife?'

'Well; yes. It is of course best that you should know all.' Then he gave
a tolerably true account of all that had happened between himself and
Mrs. Smith up to the time at which, as the reader knows, he found her
performing at the Sydney theatre.

'You had made her a distinct promise of marriage on board the ship?'

'I think I had.'

'You think?'

'Yes. I think I did. Can you not understand that a man may be in great
doubt as to the exact words that he may have spoken at such a time?'

'Hardly.'

'Then I don't think you realise the man's position. I wish to let you
know the truth as exactly as I can. You had better take it for granted
that I did make such a promise, though probably no such promise was
absolutely uttered. But I did tell her afterwards that I would marry
her.'

'Afterwards?'

'Yes, when she followed me up to Ahalala.'

'Did Richard Shand know her?'

'Of course he did,--on board the ship;--and he was with me when she came
to Ahalala.'

'And she lived with you?'

'Yes.'

'And you promised to marry her?'

'Yes.'

'And was that all?'

'I did not marry her, of course,' said Caldigate.

'Who heard the promise?'

'It was declared by her in the presence of that Wesleyan minister she
speaks of. He went to her to rebuke her, and she told him of the
promise. Then he asked me, and I did not deny it. At the moment when he
taxed me with it I was almost minded to do as I had promised.'

'You repeated your promise, then, to him?'

'Nothing of the kind. I did not deny it, and I told him at last to mind
his own business. Life up there was a little rough at that time.'

'So it seems, indeed. And then, after that?'

'I had given her money and she had some claims in a gold-mine. When she
was successful for a time she became so keen about her money that I
fancy she hardly wished to get herself married. Then we had some words,
and so we parted.'

'Did she call herself--Mrs. Caldigate?'

'I never called her so.'

'Did she herself assume the name?'

'It was a wild kind of life up there, Robert, and this was apparent in
nothing more than in the names people used. I daresay some of the
people did call her Mrs. Caldigate. But they knew she was not my wife.'

'And this man Crinkett?'

'He knew all about it.'

'He had a wife. Did his wife know her?'

'He had quarrelled with his wife at that time and had sent her away from
Nobble. Mrs. Smith was then living at Nobble, and Crinkett knew more
about her than I did. She was mad after gold, and it was with Crinkett
she was working. I gave her a lot of shares in another mine to leave
me.'

'What mine?'

'The Old Stick-in-the-Mud they called it. I had been in partnership with
Crinkett and wanted to get out of the thing, and go in altogether for
Polyeuka. At that time the woman cared little for husbands or lovers.
She had been bitten with the fury of gold-gambling and, like so many of
them, filled her mind with an idea of unlimited wealth. And she had a
turn of luck. I suppose she was worth at one time eight or ten thousand
pounds.'

'But she did not keep it?'

'I knew but little of her afterwards. I kept out of her way; and though
I had dealings with Crinkett, I dropped them as soon as I could.' Then
he paused,--but Robert Bolton held his peace with anything but a
satisfied countenance. 'Now I think you know all about it.'

'It is a most distressing story.'

'All attempts at robbery and imposition are of course distressing.'

'There is so much in it that is--disgraceful.'

'I deny it altogether,--if you mean disgraceful to me.'

'If it had all been known as it is known now,--as it is known even by
your own telling, do you think that I should have consented to your
marriage with my sister?'

'Why not?' Robert Bolton shrugged his shoulders. 'And I think,
moreover, that had you refused your consent I should have married your
sister just the same.'

'Then you know very little about the matter.'

'I don't think there can be any good in going into that. It is at any
rate the fact that your sister is my wife. As this demand has been made
upon me it was natural that I should wish to discuss it with some one
whom I can trust. I tell you all the facts, but I am not going to listen
to any fault-finding as to my past life.'

'Poor Hester!'

'Why is she poor? She does not think herself so.'

'Because there is a world of sorrow and trouble before her; and because
all that you have told to me must probably be made known to her.'

'She knows it already;--that is, she knows what you mean. I have not
told her of the woman's lie, nor of this demand for money. But I shall
when she is strong enough to hear it and to talk of it. You are very
much mistaken if you think that there are secrets between me and
Hester.'

'I don't suppose you will be pleased to hear the story of such a life
told in all the public papers.'

'Certainly not;--but it will be an annoyance which I can bear. You or
any one else would be very much mistaken who would suppose that life out
in those places can go on in the same regular way that it does here.
Gold beneath the ground is a dangerous thing to touch, and few who have
had to do with it have come out much freer from misfortune than myself.
As for these people, I don't suppose that I shall hear from them again.
I shall send them both word that not a shilling is to be expected from
me.'

There was after this a long discussion as to the nature of the messages
to be sent. There was no absolute quarrel between the two men, and the
attorney acknowledged to himself that it was now his duty to give the
best advice in his power to his brother-in-law; but their manner to each
other was changed. It was evident that Robert did not quite believe all
that Caldigate told him, and evident also that Caldigate resented this
want of confidence. But still each knew that he could not do without the
other. Their connection was too firm and too close to be shaken off.
And, therefore, though their tones were hardly friendly, still they
consulted as to what should be done. It was at last decided that two
messages should be sent by Caldigate, one to Crinkett and the other to
Mrs. Smith, and each in the same words. 'No money will be sent you on
behalf of the Polyeuka mine,' and that this should be all. Any letter,
Robert Bolton thought, would be inexpedient. Then they parted, and the
two messages were at once sent.

After a day or two Caldigate recovered his spirits. We all probably know
how some trouble will come upon us and for a period seem to quell all
that is joyous in our life, and that then by quick degrees the weight of
the trouble will grow less, till the natural spring and vivacity of the
mind will recover itself, and make little or nothing of that which a few
hours ago was felt to be so grievous a burden. So it had been with John
Caldigate. He had been man enough to hold up his head when telling his
story to Robert Bolton, and to declare that the annoyance would be one
that he could bear easily;--but still for some hours after that he had
been unhappy. If by sacrificing some considerable sum of money,--even a
large sum of money, say ten thousand pounds,--he could at that moment
have insured the silence of Crinkett and the woman, he would have paid
his money. He knew the world well enough to be aware that he could
insure nothing by any such sacrifice. He must defy these claimants;--and
then if they chose to come to England with their story, he must bear it
as best he could. Those who saw him did not know that aught ailed him,
and Robert Bolton spoke no word of the matter to any one at Cambridge.

But Robert Bolton thought very much of it,--so much that on the
following day he ran up to London on purpose to discuss the matter with
his brother William. How would it be with them, and what would be his
duty, if the statement made by the woman should turn out to be true?
What security had they after the story told by Caldigate himself that
there had been no marriage? By his own showing he had lived with the
woman, had promised to marry her, had acknowledged his promise in the
hearing of a clergyman, and had been aware that she had called herself
by his name. Then he had given her money to go away. This had been his
own story. 'Do you believe him?' he said to his brother William.

'Yes; I do. In the first place, though I can understand from his
antecedents and from his surroundings at the time, that he should have
lived a loose sort of life when he was out there, I don't think that he
is a rascal or even a liar.'

'One wouldn't wish to think so.'

'I do not think so. He doesn't look like it, or talk like it, or act
like it.'

'How many cases do we know in which some abominable unexpected villainy
has destroyed the happiness and respectability of a family?'

'But what would you do?' asked the barrister. 'She is married to him.
You cannot separate them if you would.'

'No,--poor girl. If it be so, her misery is accomplished; but if it be
so she should at once be taken away from him. What a triumph it would be
to her mother!'

That is a dreadful thing to say, Robert.'

'But nevertheless true. Think of her warnings and refusals, and of my
persistence! But if it be so, not the less must we all insist
upon--destroying him. If it be so, he must be punished to the extent of
the law.'

William Bolton, however, would not admit that it could be so, and Robert
declared that though he suspected,--though in such a case he found
himself bound to suspect,--he did not in truth believe that Caldigate
had been guilty of so terrible a crime. All probability was against
it;--but still it was possible. Then, after much deliberation, it was
decided that an agent should be sent out by them to New South Wales, to
learn the truth, as far as it could be learned, and to bring back
whatever evidence might be collected without making too much noise in
the collection of it. Then there arose the question whether Caldigate
should be told of this;--but it was decided that it should be done at
the joint expense of the two brothers without the knowledge of Hester's
husband.



Chapter XXV

The Baby's Sponsors



'Is there anything wrong between you and Robert?' Hester asked this
question of her husband, one morning in January, as he was sitting by
the side of her sofa in their bedroom. The baby was in her arms, and at
that moment there was a question as to the godfathers and godmother for
the baby.

The letter from Mrs. Smith had arrived on the last day of October,
nearly two months before the birth of the baby, and the telegrams
refusing to send the money demanded had been despatched on the 1st
November,--so that, at this time, Caldigate's mind was accustomed to the
burden of the idea. From that day to this he had not often spoken of the
matter to Robert Bolton,--nor indeed had there been much conversation
between them on other matters. Robert had asked him two or three times
whether he had received any reply by the wires. No such message had
come; and of course he answered his brother-in-law's questions
accordingly;--but he had answered them almost with a look of offence.
The attorney's manner and tone seemed to him to convey reproach; and he
was determined that none of the Boltons should have the liberty to find
fault with him. It had been suggested, some weeks since, before the baby
was born, that an effort should be made to induce Mrs. Bolton to act as
godmother. And, since that, among the names of many other relatives and
friends, those of uncle Babington and Robert Bolton had been proposed.
Hester had been particularly anxious that her brother should be asked,
because,--as she so often said to her husband,--he had always been her
firm friend in the matter of her marriage. But now, when the question
was to be settled, John Caldigate shook his head.

'I was afraid there was something even before baby was born,' said the
wife.

'There is something, my pet.'

'What is it, John? You do not mean to keep it secret from me?'

'I have not the slightest objection to your asking him to stand;--but I
think it possible that he may refuse.'

'Why should he refuse?'

'Because, as you say, there is something wrong between us. There have
been applications for money about the Polyeuka mine. I would not trouble
you about it while you were ill.'

'Does he think you ought to give back the money?'

'No,--not that. We are quite agreed about the money. But another
question has come up;--and though we are, I believe, agreed about that
too, still there has been something a little uncomfortable.'

'Would not baby make that all right?'

'I think if you were to ask your brother William it would be better.'

'May I not know what it is now, John?'

'I have meant you to know always,--from the moment when it
occurred,--when you should be well enough.'

'I am well now.'

'I hardly know; and yet I cannot bear to keep it secret from you.'

There was something in his manner which made her feel at once that the
subject to which he alluded was of the greatest importance. Whether weak
or strong, of course she must be told now. Let the shock of the tidings
be what it might, the doubt would be worse. She felt all that, and she
knew that he could feel it. 'I am quite strong,' she said; 'you must
tell me now.'

'Is baby asleep? Put him in the cradle.'

'Is it so bad as that?'

'I do not say that it is bad at all. There is nothing bad in it,--except
a lie. Let me put him in the cradle.'

Then he took the child very gently and deposited him, fast asleep, among
the blankets. He had already assumed for himself the character of being
a good male nurse; and she was always delighted when she saw the baby in
his arms. Then he came and seated himself close to her on the sofa, and
put his arm round her waist. 'There is nothing bad--but a lie.'

'A lie may be so very bad!'

'Yes, indeed; and this lie is very bad. Do you remember my telling
you--about a woman?'

'That Mrs. Smith;--the dancing woman?'

'Yes;--her.'

'Of course I remember.'

'She was one of those, it seems, who bought the Polyeuka mine.'

'Oh, indeed!'

'She, with Crinkett and others. Now they want their money back again.'

'But can they make you send it? And would it be very bad--to lose it?'

'They cannot make me send it. They have no claim to a single shilling.
And if they could make me pay it, that would not be very bad.'

'What is it, then? You are afraid to tell me?'

'Yes, my darling,--afraid to speak to you of what is so wicked;--afraid
to shock you, to disgust you; but not afraid of any injury that can be
done to you. No harm will come to you.'

'But to you?'

'Nor to me;--none to you, or to me, or to baby there.' As he said this
she clutched his hand with hers. 'No harm, dearest; and yet the thing is
so abominable that I can hardly bring myself to wound your ears with
it.'

'You must tell now, John.'

'Yes, I must tell you. I have thought about it much, and I know that it
is better that you should be told.' He had thought much about it, and
had so resolved. But he had not quite known how difficult the telling
would be. And now he was aware that he was adding to the horror she
would feel by pausing and making much of the thing. And yet he could not
tell it as though it were a light matter. If he could have declared it
all at once,--at first, with a smile on his face, then expressing his
disgust at the woman's falsehood,--it would have been better. 'That
woman has written me a letter in which she declares herself to be--my
wife!'

'Your wife! John! Your wife?' These exclamations came from her almost
with a shriek as she jumped up from his arms and for a moment stood
before him.

'Come back to me,' he said. Then again she seated herself. 'You did not
leave me then because you doubted me?'

'Oh no,' she cried, throwing herself upon him and smothering him with
kisses--'No, no! It was surprise at such horrid words,--not doubt, not
doubt of you. I will never doubt you.'

'It was because I was sure of you that I have ventured to tell you
this.'

'You may be sure of me,' she said, sobbing violently the while. 'You are
sure of me; are you not? And now tell it me all. How did she say so? why
did she say so? Is she coming to claim you? Tell me all. Oh, John, tell
me everything.'

'The why is soon told. Because she wants money. She had heard no doubt
of my marriage and thought to frighten me out of money. I do not think
she would do it herself. The man Crinkett has put her up to it.'

'What does she say?'

'Just that,--and then she signs herself,--Euphemia Caldigate.'

'Oh, John!'

'Now you know it all.'

'May I not see the letter?'

'For what good? But you shall see it if you wish it. I have determined
that nothing shall be kept back from you. In all that there may ever be
to trouble us the best comfort will be in perfect confidence.' He had
already learned enough of her nature to be sure that in this way would
he best comfort her, and most certainly ensure her trust in himself.

'Oh yes,' she cried. 'If you will tell me all, I will never doubt you.'
Then she took the letter from his hand, and attempted to read it. But
her excitement was so great that though the words were written very
clearly, she could not bring her mind to understand them. 'Treachery!
Ruin! Married to you! What is it all? Do you read it to me;--every word
of it.' Then he did read it; every word of it. 'She says that she will
marry the other man. How can she marry him when she says that she
is--your wife?'

'Just so, my pet. But you see what she says. It does not matter much to
her whether it be true or false, so that she can get my money from me.
But, Hester, I would fain be just even to her. No doubt she wrote the
letter.'

'Who else would have written it?'

'She wrote it. I know her hand. And these are her words,--because they
are properly expressed. But it is all his doing,--the man's doing. He
has got her in his power, and he is using her in this way.'

'If you sent her money--?'

'Not a shilling;--not though she were starving; not now. A man who gives
money under a threat is gone. If I were to send her money, everyone
would believe this tale that she tells. Your brother Robert would
believe it.'

'He knows it?'

'I took the letter to him instantly, but I made up my mind that I would
not show it you till baby was born. You can understand that?' She only
pressed closer to him as he said this. 'I showed it to Robert, and,
altogether we are not quite such friends since as we were before.'

'You do not mean that he believes it?'

'No; not that. He does not believe it. If he did, I do not see how he
and I could ever speak to each other again. I don't think he believes it
at all. But I had to tell him the whole story, and that, perhaps,
offended him.' The 'whole story' had not been told to Hester, nor did he
think it necessary that it should be told. There was no reason why these
details which Robert had elicited by his questions should be repeated to
her,--the promise of marriage, the interference of the Wesleyan
minister, the use made of his name,--of all this he said nothing. But
she had now been told that which to her had been very dreadful, and she
was not surprised that her brother should have been offended when he
heard the same sad story. She, of course, had at once pardoned the old
offence. A young wife when she is sure of her husband, will readily
forgive all offences committed before marriage, and will almost be
thankful for the confidence placed in her when offences are confessed.
But she could understand that a brother could not be thankful, and she
would naturally exaggerate in her own mind the horror which he would
feel at such a revelation. Then the husband endeavoured to lighten the
effect of what he had said. 'Offence, perhaps, is the wrong word. But he
was stiff and masterful, if you know what I mean.'

'You would not bear that, certainly, John?'

'No. I have to own that I do not love the assumption of
authority,--except from you.'

'You do not like it from anybody, John.'

'You would not wish me to submit myself to your brother?'

'No; but I think I might ask him to be baby's godfather.'

'As you please; only you would be unhappy if he refused.'

Then there came a little wail from the cradle and the baby was taken up,
and for some minutes his little necessities occupied the mother to the
exclusion even of that terrible letter. But when Caldigate was about to
leave the room, she asked him another question. 'Will she do anything
more, John?'

'I can hardly say. I should think not.'

'What does Robert think?'

'He has not told me. I sent an immediate refusal by the telegraph wires,
and have heard nothing since.'

'Is he--nervous about it?'

'I hardly know. It dwells in his mind, no doubt.'

'Are you nervous?'

'It dwells in my mind. That is all.'

'May I speak to him about it?'

'Why should you? What good would it do? I would rather you did not.
Nevertheless, if you feel frightened, if you think that there is
anything wrong, it will be natural that you should go to him for
assistance. I will not forbid it.' As he said this he stood back away
from her. It was but by a foot or two, but still there was a sign of
separation which instantly made itself palpable to her.

'Wrong, how wrong?' she said, following him and clinging to him. 'You do
not suppose that I would go to him because I think you wrong? Do you not
know that whatever might come I should cling to you? What is he to me
compared to you? No; I will never speak to him about it.'

He returned her caress with fervour, and stroked her hair, and kissed
her forehead. 'My dearest! my own! my darling! But what I mean is that
if some other man's opinion on this subject is necessary to your
comfort, you may go to him.'

'No other man's opinion shall be necessary to me about anything. I will
not speak about it to Robert, or to any one. But if more should come of
it, you will tell me?'

'You shall know everything that comes. I have never for a moment had the
idea of keeping it back from you. But because of baby, and because baby
had to be born, I delayed it.' This was an excuse which, as the mother
of her child, she could not but accept with thankfulness.

'I think I will ask him,' she said that night, referring again to the
vexed question of godfathers. Uncle Babington had some weeks since very
generously offered his services, and, of course, they had been
generously accepted. Among the baby's relations he was the man of
highest standing in the world; and then this was a mark of absolute
forgiveness in reference to the wrongs of poor Julia. And a long letter
had been prepared to Mrs. Bolton, written by Hester's own hand, not
without much trouble, in which the baby's grandmother was urged to take
upon herself the duties of godmother. All this had been discussed in the
family, so that the nature of the petition was well known to Mrs.
Bolton for some time before she received it. Mrs. Daniel, who had
consented to act in the event of a refusal from Puritan Grange, had more
than once used her influence with her step-mother-in-law. But no hint
had as yet come to Folking as to what the answer might be. It had also
been suggested that Robert should be the other godfather,--the proposal
having been made to Mrs. Robert. But there had come upon all the Boltons
a feeling that Robert was indifferent perhaps, even unwilling to
undertake the task. And yet no one knew why. Mrs. Robert herself did not
know why.

The reader, however, will know why, and will understand how it was that
Mrs. Robert was in the dark. The attorney, though he was suspicious,
though he was frightened, though he was, in truth, very angry with this
new brother-in-law, through whose ante-nuptial delinquencies so much
sorrow was threatened to the Bolton family, nevertheless kept the secret
from all the Cambridge Boltons. It had been necessary to him to seek
counsel with some one, but he had mentioned the matter only to his
brother William. But he did not wish to add to the bond which now tied
him to Folking. If this horror, this possible horror, should fall upon
them,--if it should turn out that he had insisted on giving his sister
in marriage to a man already married,--then,--then,--then----! Such
possible future incidents were too terrible to be considered closely,
but with such a possibility he would not add to the bonds. At Puritan
Grange they would throw all the responsibility of what had been done
upon him. This feeling was mingled with his love for his sister,--with
the indignation he would not only feel but show if it should turn out
that she had been wronged. 'I will destroy him,--I will destroy him
utterly,' he would sometimes say to himself as he thought of it.

And now the godfather question had to be decided, 'No,' he said to his
wife, 'I don't care about such things. I won't do it. You write and tell
her that I have prejudices, or scruples, or whatever you choose to call
it.'

'There is to be a little tarradiddle told, and I am to tell it?'

'I have prejudices and scruples.'

'About the religion of the thing?' She knew,--as of course, she was
bound to know,'--that he had at any rate a round dozen of god-children
somewhere about the country. There were the young Williams, and the
young Daniels, and her own nephews and nieces, with the parents of all
of whom uncle Robert had been regarded as the very man for a godfather.
The silversmith in Trumpington Street knew exactly the weight of the
silver cup that was to be given to the boy or to a girl. The Bible and
prayer-books were equally well regulated. Mrs. Robert could not but
smile at the idea of religious scruples. 'I wish I knew what it was that
has come over you of late. I fancy you have quarrelled with John
Caldigate.'

'If you think that, then you can understand the reason.'

'What is it about?'

'I have not quarrelled with him. It is possible that I may have to do
so. But I do not mean to say what it is about.' Then he smiled. 'I don't
want you to ask any more questions, but just to write to Hester as
kindly as you can, saying I don't mean to be godfather any more. It will
be a good excuse in regard to all future babies.' Mrs. Robert was a good
wife and did as she was bid. She worded her refusal as cautiously as she
could, and,--on that occasion,--asked her husband no further question.

The prayer that was addressed to the lady of Puritan Grange became the
subject of much debate of great consideration, and I may say also of
lengthened prayer. To Mrs. Bolton this position of godmother implied
much of the old sacred responsibility which was formerly attached to it,
and which Robert Bolton, like other godfathers and godmothers of the
day, had altogether ignored. She had been already partly brought round,
nearly persuaded, in regard to the acceptance of John Caldigate as her
son-in-law. It did not occur to her to do other than hate him. How was
it possible that such a woman should do other than hate the man who had
altogether got the better of her as to the very marrow of her life, the
very apple of her eye? But she was alive to her duty towards her
daughter; and when she was told that the man was honest in his dealings,
well-to-do in the world, a professing Christian who was constant in his
parish church, she did not know how to maintain her opinion, that in
spite of all this, he was an unregenerate castaway. Therefore, although
she was determined still to hate him, she had almost made up her mind to
enter his house. With these ideas she wrote a long letter to Hester, in
which she promised to have herself taken out to Folking in order that
she might be present as godmother at the baby's baptism. She would lunch
at Folking, but must return to Chesterton before dinner. Even this was a
great thing gained.

Then it was arranged that Daniel Bolton should stand as second godfather
in place of his brother Robert.



Chapter XXVI

A Stranger in Cambridge



'I am sorry you will not come out to us to-morrow.' On the day before
the christening, which was at last fixed for a certain Tuesday in the
middle of February, John Caldigate went into Cambridge, and at once
called upon the attorney at his office. This he did partly instigated
by his own feelings, and partly in compliance with his wife's wishes.
Before that letter had come he and his brother-in-law had been fast
friends; and now, though for a day or two he had been angry with what he
had thought to be unjustifiable interference, he regretted the loss of
such a friend. More than three months had now passed since the letter
had come, but his mind was far from being at ease, and he felt that if
trouble should come it would be very well for him to have Robert Bolton
on his side.

'Margaret is going,' said the attorney.

'Why do you not bring her?'

'Days are days with me, my boy. I can't afford to give up a morning for
every baby that is born.'

'That of course may be true, and if that is the reason, I have nothing
more to say.' As he spoke he looked in his brother-in-law's face, so as
almost to prevent the possibility of continued pretence.

'Well, Caldigate, it isn't the reason altogether,' said the other. 'If
you would have allowed it to pass without further explanation so would
I. But if the truth must be spoken in so many words, I will confess that
I would rather not go out to Folking till I am sure we shall be no more
troubled by your friends in Australia.'

'Why not? Why should you not go out to Folking?'

'Simply because I may have to take an active part against you. I do not
suppose it will come to that, but it is possible. I need not say that I
trust there may be nothing of the kind, but I cannot be sure. It is on
the cards.'

'I think that is a hard judgment. Do you mean to say that you believe
that woman's statement not only against mine, but against the whole
tenor of my life and character?'

'No; I do not believe the woman's statement. If I did, I should not be
talking to you now. The woman has probably lied, and is probably a tool
in the hands of others for raising money, as you have already suggested.
But, according to your own showing there has been much in your life to
authorise the statement. I do not know what does or does not constitute
a marriage there.'

'The laws are the same as ours.'

'There at any rate you are wrong. Their marriage laws are not the same
as ours, though how they may differ you and I probably do not accurately
know. And they may be altered at any time as they may please. Let the
laws be what they will, it is quite possible, after what you have told
me, that they may bring up evidence which you would find it very
difficult to refute. I don't think it will be so. If I did I should use
all my influence to remove my sister at once.'

'You couldn't do it,' said Caldigate, very angrily.

'I tell you what I should endeavour to do. You must excuse me if I stand
aloof just at present. I don't suppose you can defend such a condition
of things as you described to me the other day.'

'I do not mean to be put upon my defence,--at any rate by you,' said
Caldigate, very angrily. And then he left the office.

He had come into Cambridge with the intention of calling at Puritan
Grange after he had left the attorney, and when he found himself in the
street he walked on in the direction of Chesterton. He had wished to
thank his wife's mother for her concession and had been told by Hester
that if he would call, Mrs. Bolton would certainly see him now. Had
there been no letter from the woman in Australia, he would probably not
have obeyed his wife's behest in this matter. His heart and spirit would
then have been without a flaw, and, proud in his own strength and his
own rectitude, he would have declared to himself that the absurd
prejudices of a fanatic woman were beneath his notice. But that letter
had been a blow, and the blow, though it had not quelled him, had
weakened his forces. He could conceal the injury done him even from his
wife, but there was an injury. He was not quite the man that he had been
before. From day to day, and from hour to hour, he was always
remonstrating with himself because it was so. He was conscious that in
some degree he had been cowed, and was ever fighting against the
feeling. His tenderness to his wife was perhaps increased, because he
knew that she still suffered from the letter; but he was almost ashamed
of his own tenderness, as being a sign of weakness. He made himself very
busy in these days,--busy among his brother magistrates, busy among his
farming operations, busy with his tenants, busy among his books, so as
to show to those around him that he was one who could perform all the
duties of life, and enjoy all the pleasures, with an open brow and a
clear conscience. He had been ever bold and self-asserting; but now he
was perhaps a little over-bold. But through it all the Australian letter
and the Australian woman were present to him day and night.

It was this resolution not to be quelled that had made him call upon the
attorney at his office; and when he found himself back in the street he
was very angry with the man. 'If it pleases him, let it be so,' he said
to himself. 'I can do in the world without him.' And then he thought of
that threat,--when the attorney had said that he would remove his
sister. 'Remove her! By heavens!' He had a stick in his hand, and as he
went he struck it angrily against a post. Remove his wife! All the
Boltons in Cambridgeshire could not put a hand upon her, unless by his
leave! For some moments his anger supported him; but after a while that
gave way to the old feeling of discomfort which pervaded him always. She
was his wife, and nobody should touch her. Nevertheless he might find it
difficult, as Robert Bolton had said, to prove that that other woman
was not his wife.

Robert Bolton's office was in a small street close to Pembroke College,
and when he came out of it he had intended to walk direct through
Trumpington Street and Trinity Street to Chesterton. But he found it
necessary to compose himself and so to arrange his thoughts that he
might be able to answer such foolish questions as Mrs. Bolton would
probably ask him without being flurried. He was almost sure that she had
heard nothing of the woman. He did not suspect Robert Bolton of
treachery in that respect; but she would probably talk to him about the
iniquity of his past life generally, and he must be prepared to answer
her. It was incumbent upon him to shake off, before he reached
Chesterton, that mixture of alarm and anger which at present dominated
him; and with this object, instead of going straight along the street,
he turned into the quadrangle of King's College, and passing through the
gardens and over the bridge, wandered for a while slowly under the trees
at the back of the college. He accused himself of a lack of manliness in
that he allowed himself to be thus cowed. Did he not know that such
threats as these were common? Was it not just what might have been
expected from such a one as Crinkett, when Crinkett was driven to
desperation by failing speculations? As he thought of the woman, he
shook his head, looking down upon the ground. The woman had at one time
been very dear to him. But it was clearly now his duty to go on as
though there were no such woman as Euphemia Smith, and no such man as
Thomas Crinkett. And as for Robert Bolton, he would henceforth treat him
as though his anger and his suspicions were unworthy of notice. If the
man should choose of his own accord to reassume the old friendly
relations,--well and good. No overtures should come from him--Caldigate.
And if the anger and the suspicions endured, why then, he, Caldigate,
could do very well without Robert Bolton.

As he made these resolutions he turned in at a little gate opening into
a corner of St. John's Gardens, with the object of passing through the
college back into the streets of the town. It was not quite his nearest
way, but he loved the old buildings, and the trees, and the river, even
in winter. It still was winter, being now the middle of February; but,
as it happened, the air was dry and mild, and the sun was shining.
Still, he was surprised at such a time of the year to see an elderly man
apparently asleep on one of the benches which are placed close to the
path. But there he was, asleep, with his two hands on a stick, and his
head bent forward over his stick. It was impossible not to look at the
man sleeping there in that way; but Caldigate would hardly have looked,
would hardly have dared to look, could he have anticipated what he would
see. The elderly man was Thomas Crinkett. As he passed he was quite sure
that the man was Thomas Crinkett. When he had gone on a dozen yards, he
paused for a moment to consider what he would do. A dozen different
thoughts passed through his mind in that moment of time. Why was the man
there? Why, indeed, could he have come to England except with the view
of prosecuting the demand which he and the woman had made? His presence
even in England was sufficient to declare that this battle would have to
be fought. But to Cambridge he could have come with no other object than
that of beginning the attack at once. And then, had he already commenced
his work? He had not at any rate been to Robert Bolton, to whom any one
knowing the family would have first referred him. And why was he
sleeping there? Why was he not now at work upon his project? Again,
would it be better at the present moment that he should pass by the man
as though he had not seen him; or should he go back and ask him his
purpose? As the thought passed through his mind, he stayed his step for
a moment on the pathway and looked round. The man had moved his
position, and was now sitting with his head turned away but evidently
not asleep. Then it occurred to Caldigate that Crinkett's slumbers had
been only a pretence, that the man had seen and recognised him, and at
the moment had not chosen to make himself known. And it occurred to him
also that in a matter of such importance as this he should do nothing on
the spur of the moment,--nothing without consideration. A word spoken to
Crinkett, a word without consideration, might be fatal to him. So he
passed on, having stood upon the path hardly more than a second or two.

Before he had got up to the new buildings of St. John's a cold sweat had
come out all over him. He was conscious of this, and conscious also that
for a time he was so confounded by the apparition of his enemy as to be
unable to bring his mind to work properly on the subject. 'Let him do
his worst,' he kept on saying to himself; 'let him do his worst.' But he
knew that the brave words, though spoken only to himself, were mere
braggadocio No doubt the man would do his worst, and very bad it would
be to him. At the moment he was so cowed by fear that he would have
given half his fortune to have secured the woman's silence,--and the
man's. How much better would it have been had he acceded to the man's
first demand as to restitution of a portion of the sum paid for
Polyeuka, before the woman's name had been brought into the matter at
all?

But reflections such as these were now useless and he must do something.
It was for his wife's sake,--he assured himself,--for his wife's sake
that he allowed himself to be made thus miserable by the presence of
this wretched creature. What would she not be called upon to suffer?
The woman no doubt would be brought before magistrates and judges, and
would be made to swear that she was his wife. The whole story of his
life in Australia would be made public,--and there was so much that
could not be made public without overwhelming her with sorrow! His own
father, too, who had surrendered the estate to him, must know it all.
His father hitherto had not heard the name of Mrs. Smith, and had been
told only of Crinkett's dishonest successes and dishonest failures. When
Caldigate had spoken of Crinkett to his father, he had done so with a
triumph as of a man whom he had weighed and measured and made use
of,--whose frauds and cunning he had conquered by his own honesty and
better knowledge. Now he could no longer weigh and measure and make use
of Crinkett. Crinkett had been a joke to him in talking with his father.
But Crinkett was no joke now.

While walking through the College quad, he was half stupefied by his
confusion, and was aware that such was his condition. But going out
under the gate he paused for a moment and shook himself. He must at any
rate summon his own powers to his aid at the moment and resolve what he
would do. However bad all this might be, there was a better course and a
worse. If he allowed this confusion to master him he would probably be
betrayed into the worse course. Now, at this moment, in what way would
it become him to act? He drew himself together, shaking his head and
shoulders,--so as to shake off his weakness,--pressing his foot for a
moment on the earth so as to convince himself of his own firmness, and
then he resolved.

He was on the way out to see his mother-in-law, but he thought that
nothing now could be gained by going to Chesterton. It was not
impossible that Crinkett might have been there. If so the man would have
told something of his story; and his wife's mother was the last person
in the world whom, under such circumstances, he could hope to satisfy.
He must tell no lie to any one; he must at least conceal nothing of the
things as they occurred now. He must not allow it to be first told by
Crinkett that they two had seen each other in the Gardens. But he could
not declare this to Mrs. Bolton. For the present, the less he saw of
Mrs. Bolton the better. She would come to the christening
to-morrow,--unless indeed Crinkett had already told enough to induce her
to change her mind,--but after that any intimacy with the house at
Chesterton had better be postponed till this had all been settled.

But how much would have to be endured before that! Robert Bolton had
almost threatened to take his wife away from him. No one could take his
wife away from him,--unless, indeed, the law were to say that she was
not his wife. But how would it be with him if she herself, under the
influence of her family, were to wish to leave him! The law no doubt
would give him the custody of his own wife, till the law had said that
she was not his wife. But could he keep her if she asked him to let her
go? And should she be made to doubt,--should her mind be so troubled as
it would be should she once be taught to think it possible that she had
been betrayed,--would she not then want to go from him? Would it not
be probable that she would doubt when she should be told that this
woman had been called by her husband's name in Australia, and when he
should be unable to deny that he had admitted, or at least had not
contradicted, the appellation?

On a sudden, when he turned away from the street leading to Chesterton
as he came out of the College, he resolved that he would at once go back
to Robert Bolton. The man was offensive, suspicious and self-willed;
but, nevertheless, his good services, if they could be secured, would be
all-important. For his wife's sake, as Caldigate said to himself,--for
his wife's sake he must bear much. 'I have come to tell you something
that has occurred since I was here just now,' said Caldigate, meeting
his brother-in-law at the door of the office. 'Would you mind coming
back?'

'I am rather in a hurry.'

'It is of importance, and you had better hear it,' said Caldigate,
leading the way imperiously to the inner room. 'It is for your sister's
sake. That man Crinkett is in Cambridge.'

'In Cambridge?'

'I saw him just now.'

'And spoke to him?' the attorney asked.

'No. I passed him; and I do not know even whether he recognised me. But
he is here, in Cambridge.'

'And the woman?'

'I have told you all that I know. He has not come here for nothing.'

'Probably not,' said the attorney, with a scornful smile. 'You will hear
of him before long.'

'Of course I shall. I have come to you now to ask a question. I must put
my case at once into a lawyer's hands. Crinkett, no doubt, will commit
perjury and I must undergo the annoyance and expense of proving him to
be a perjurer. She probably is here also, and will be ready to commit
perjury. Of course I must have a lawyer. Will you act for me?'

'I will act for my sister.'

'Your sister and I are one; and I am obliged, therefore, to ask again
whether you will act for me? Of course I should prefer it. Though you
are, I think, hard to me in this matter, I can trust you implicitly. It
will be infinitely better for Hester that it should be so. But I must
have some lawyer.'

'And so must she.'

'Hers and mine must be the same. As to that I will not admit any
question. Can you undertake to fight this matter on my behalf,--and on
hers? If you feel absolutely hostile to me you had better decline. For
myself, I cannot understand why there should be such hostility.'

Caldigate had so far conquered his own feelings of abasement as to be
able to say this with a determined face, looking straight into the
attorney's eyes, at any rate without sign of fear.

'It wants thinking about,' said Robert Bolton.

'To-morrow the baby is to be christened, and for Hester's sake I will
endeavour to put this matter aside;--but on Wednesday I must know.'

'On Wednesday morning I will answer your question. But what if this man
comes to me in the meantime?'

'Listen to him or speak to him, just as seems good to you. You know
everything that there is to tell, and may therefore know whether he lies
or speaks the truth.'

Then Caldigate went to the inn, got his horse, and rode back to Folking.



Chapter XXVII

The Christening



The next day was the day of the christening. Caldigate, on his return
home from Cambridge, had felt himself doomed to silence. He could not
now at this moment tell his wife that the man had come,--the man who
would doubtless work her such terrible misery. She was very strong. She
had gone through the whole little event of her baby's birth quite as
well as could be expected, and had been just what all her friends might
have wished her to be. But that this blow had fallen upon her,--but that
these ill news had wounded her,--she would now have been triumphant.
Her mother was at last coming to her. Her husband was all that a husband
should be. Her baby was, to her thinking, sweeter, brighter, more
satisfactory than any other baby ever had been. But the first tidings
had been told to her. She had seen the letter signed 'Euphemia
Caldigate'; and of course she was ill at ease. Knowing how vexatious the
matter was to her husband, she had spoken of it but seldom,--having
asked but a question now and again when the matter pressed itself too
severely on her mind. He understood it all, both her reticence and her
sufferings. Her sufferings must of course be increased. She must know
before long that Crinkett, and probably the woman also, were in her
neighbourhood. But he could not tell her now when she was preparing her
baby for his ceremony in the church.

The bells were rung, and the baby was prepared, and Mrs. Bolton came out
to Folking according to her promise. Though Robert was not there, many
of the Boltons were present, as was also Uncle Babington. He had come
over on the preceding evening, making on this occasion his first journey
to Folking since his wife's sister had died; and the old squire was
there in very good humour, though he excused himself from going to the
church by explaining that as he had no duty to perform he would only be
in the way amongst them all. Daniel and Mrs. Bolton had also been at
Folking that night, and had then for the first time been brought into
contact with the Babington grandeur. The party had been almost gay, the
old squire having taken some delight in what he thought to be the
absurdities of his brother-in-law. Mr. Babington himself was a man who
was joyous on most occasions and always gay on such an occasion as this.
He had praised the mother, and praised the baby, and praised the house
of Folking generally, graciously declaring that his wife looked forward
to the pleasure of making acquaintance with her new niece, till old Mr.
Caldigate had been delighted with these manifestations of condescension.
'Folking is a poor place,' said he, 'but Babington is really a
country-house.'

'Yes,' replied the other squire, much gratified, 'Babington is what you
may call really a good country-house.'

You had to laugh very hard at him before you could offend Uncle
Babington. In all this John Caldigate was obliged to assist, knowing all
the time, feeling all the time, that Crinkett was in Cambridge; and
through all this the young mother had to appear happy, knowing the
existence of that letter signed 'Euphemia Caldigate,'--feeling it at
every moment. And they both acted their parts well. Caldigate
himself,--though when he was alone the thought of what was coming would
almost crush him,--could always bear himself bravely when others were
present.

On the morning before they went to church, when the bells were ringing,
old Mr. Bolton came in a carriage with his wife from Cambridge. She, of
course, condescended to give her hand to her son-in-law but she did it
with a look which was full of bitterness. She did not probably intend to
be specially bitter, but bitterness of expression was common to her. She
was taken, however, at once up to the baby, and then in the presence of
her daughter and grandchild it may be presumed that she relaxed a
little. At any rate, her presence in the house made her daughter happy
for the time.

Then they all went to the church, except the squire, who, as he himself
pleaded, had no duty to perform there. Mrs. Bolton, as she was taken
through the hall, saw him and recognised him, but would not condescend
even to bow her head to him, though she knew how intimate he had been
with her husband. She still felt,--though she had yielded for this day,
this day which was to make her grandchild a Christian,--that there must
be, and should be, a severance between people such as the Boltons and
people such as the Caldigates.

As the service went on, and as the water was sprinkled, and as the
prayers were said, Caldigate felt thankful that so much had been allowed
to be done before the great trouble had disclosed itself. The doubt
whether even the ceremony could be performed before the clap of thunder
had been heard through all Cambridge had been in itself a distinct
sorrow to him. Had Crinkett showed himself at Chesterton, neither Mrs.
Bolton nor Daniel Bolton would have been standing then at the font. Had
Crinkett been heard of at Babington, Uncle Babington would not now have
been at Folking. All this was passing through his mind as he was
standing by the font. When the ceremony of making the young Daniel
Humphrey Caldigate a Christian was all but completed, he fancied that he
saw old Mr. Bolton's eyes fixed on something in the church, and he
turned his head suddenly, with no special purpose, but simply looking,
as one is apt to look, when another looks. There he saw, on a seat
divided from himself by the breadth of the little nave, Thomas Crinkett
sitting with another man.

There was not a shadow of a doubt on his mind as to the identity of the
Australian--nor as to that of Crinkett's companion. At the moment he did
not remember the man's name, but he knew him as a miner with whom he had
been familiar at Ahalala, and who had been in partnership both with
himself and Crinkett at Nobble,--as one who had, alas! been in his
society when Euphemia Smith had been there also. At that instant he
remembered the fact that the man had called Euphemia Smith Mrs.
Caldigate in his presence, and that he had let the name pass without
remonstrance. The memory of that moment flashed across him now as he
quickly turned back his face towards his child who was still uttering
his little wail in the arms of the clergyman.

Utterden church is not a large building. The seat on which Crinkett had
placed himself was one usually occupied by parish boys at the end of the
row of appropriated seats and near to the door. Less than half-a-dozen
yards from it, at the other side of the way leading up the church, stood
the font, so that the stranger was almost close to Caldigate when he
turned. They were so near that others there could not but have observed
them. Even the clergyman, however absorbed he might have been in his
sacred work, could not but have observed them. It was not there as it
might have been in a town. Any stranger, even on a Sunday, would be
observed by all in Utterden church,--how much then at a ceremony which,
as a rule, none but friends attend! And Crinkett was looking on with all
his eyes, leaning forward over his stick and watching closely. Caldigate
had taken it all in, even in that moment. The other man was sitting
back, gazing at nothing as though the matter to him were indifferent.
Caldigate could understand it all. The man was there simply to act or to
speak when he might be wanted.

As the ceremony was completed John Caldigate stood by and played with
all proper words and actions the part of the young father. No one
standing there could see by his face that he had been struck violently;
that he had for a few moments been almost unable to stand. But he
himself was aware that a cold sweat had broken out all over him as
before. Though he leaned over the baby lying in his mother's arms and
kissed it, and smiled on the young mother, he did so as some great actor
will carry out his part before the public when nearly sinking to the
ground from sudden suffering. What would it be right that he should do
now,--now,--now? No one there had heard of Crinkett except his wife. And
even she herself had no idea that the man of whom she had heard was in
England. Should he speak to the man, or should he endeavour to pass out
of the church as though he had not recognised him? Could he trust
himself even to make the endeavour when he should have turned round and
when he would find himself face to face with the man?

And then what should he say, and how should he act, if the man addressed
him in the church? The man had not come out there to Utterden for
nothing, and probably would so address him. He had determined on telling
no lie,--no lie, at any rate, as to present circumstances. That life of
his in Australia had been necessarily rough; and though successful, had
not been quite as it should have been. As to that, he thought that it
ought to be permitted to him to be reticent. But as to nothing since his
marriage would he lie. If Crinkett spoke to him he must acknowledge the
man,--but if Crinkett told his story about Euphemia Smith in the church
before them all, how should he then answer? There was but a moment for
him to decide it all. The decision had to be made while he was handing
back his babe to its mother with his sweetest smile.

As the party at the font was broken up, the eyes of them all were fixed
upon the two strangers. A christening in a public church is a public
service, and open to the world at large. There was no question to be
asked them, but each person as he looked at them would of course think
that somebody else would recognise them. They were decently
dressed,--dressed probably in such garments as gentlemen generally wear
on winter mornings,--but any one would know at a glance that they were
not English gentlemen. And they were of an appearance unfamiliar to any
one there but Caldigate himself,--clean, but rough, not quite at home in
their clothes, which had probably been bought ready-made; with rough,
ignoble faces,--faces which you would suspect, but faces, nevertheless,
which had in them something of courage. As the little crowd prepared to
move from the font, the two men got up and stood in their places.

Caldigate took the opportunity to say a word to Mr. Bromley before he
turned round, so that he might yet pause before he decided. At that
moment he resolved that he would recognise his enemy, and treat him with
the courtesy of old friendship. It would be bad to do at the moment, but
he thought that in this way he might best prepare himself for the
future. Crinkett had appealed to him for money, but Crinkett himself had
said nothing to him about Euphemia Smith. The man had not as yet accused
him of bigamy. The accusation had come from her, and it still might be
that she had used Crinkett's name wrongfully. At any rate, he thought
that when the clap of thunder should have come, it would be better for
him not to have repudiated a man with whom it would then be known that
his relations had once been so intimate.

He addressed himself therefore at once to his old associate. 'I am
surprised to see you here, Mr. Crinkett.' This he said with a smile and
a pleasant voice, putting out his hand to him. How hard it was to summon
up that smile! How hard to get that tone of voice! Even those
commonplace words had been so difficult of selection! 'Was it you I saw
yesterday in the College gardens?'

'Yes, it was me, no doubt.'

'I turned round, and then thought that it was impossible We have just
been christening my child. Will you come up to our breakfast?'

'You remember Jack Adamson,--eh?'

'Of course I do,' said Caldigate, giving his hand to the second man, who
was rougher even than Crinkett. 'I hope he will come up also. This is my
uncle, Mr. Babington; and this is my father-in-law, Mr. Bolton.' 'These
were two of my partners at Nobble,' he said, turning to the two old
gentlemen, who were looking on with astonished eyes. 'They have come
over here, I suppose, with reference to the sale I made to them lately
of my interests at Polyeuka.'

'That's about it,' said Adamson.

'We won't talk business just at this moment, because we have to eat our
breakfast and drink our boy's health. But when that is done, I'll hear
what you have to say;--or come into Cambridge to-morrow just as you
please. You'll walk up to the house now, and I'll introduce you to my
wife?'

'We don't mind if we do eat a bit,--do we, Jack?' said Crinkett. Jack
bobbed his head, and so they walked back to Folking, the three of them
together, while the two Mr. Boltons and Uncle Babington followed behind.
The ladies and the baby had been taken in a carriage.

The distance from the church to the house at Folking was less than half
a mile, but Caldigate thought that he would never reach his hall door.
How was he to talk to the men,--with what words and after what fashion?
And what should he say about them to his wife when he reached home? She
had seen him speak to them, had known that he had been obliged to stay
behind with them when it would have been so natural that he should have
been at her side as she got into the carriage. Of that he was aware, but
he could not know how far their presence would have frightened her.
'Yes,' he said, in answer to some question from Crinkett; 'the property
round here is not exactly mine, but my father's.'

'They tell me as it's yours now?' said Crinkett.

'You haven't to learn to-day that in regard to other people's concerns
men talk more than they know. The land is my father's estate, but I live
here.'

'And him?' asked Adamson.

'He lives in Cambridge.'

'That's what we mean,--ain't it, Crinkett?' said Adamson. 'You're boss
here?'

'Yes, I'm boss.'

'And a deuced good time you seem to have of it,' said Crinkett.

'I've nothing to complain of,' replied Caldigate, feeling himself at the
moment to be the most miserable creature in existence.

It was fearful work,--work so cruel that his physical strength hardly
enabled him to support it. He already repented his present conduct,
telling himself that it would have been better to have treated the men
from the first as spies and enemies;--though in truth his conduct had
probably been the wisest he could have adopted. At last he had the men
inside the hall door, and, introducing them hurriedly to his father, he
left them that he might rush up to his wife's bedroom. The nurse was
there and her mother; and, at the moment, she only looked at him. She
was too wise to speak to him before them. But at last she succeeded in
making an opportunity of being alone with her husband. 'You stay here,
nurse; I'll be back directly, mamma,' and then she took him across the
passage into his own dressing-room. 'Who are they, John? who are they?'

'They are men from the mines. As they were my partners, I have asked
them to come in to breakfast.'

'And the woman?' As she spoke she held on to the back of a chair by
which she stood, and only whispered her question.

'No woman is with them.'

'Is it the man,--Crinkett?'

'Yes, it is Crinkett.'

'In this house! And I am to sit at table with him?'

'It will be best so. Listen, dearest; all that I know, all that we know
of Crinkett is, that he is asking money of me because the purchase he
made of me has turned out badly for him.'

'But he is to marry that woman, who says that she is--' Then she
stopped, looking into his face with agony. She could not bring herself
to utter the words which would signify that another woman claimed to be
her husband's wife.

'You are going too fast, Hester. I cannot condemn the man for what the
woman has written until I know that he says the same himself. He was my
partner, and I have had his money;--I fear, all his money. He as yet has
said nothing about the woman. As it is so, it behoves me to be courteous
to him. That I am suffering much, you must be well aware. I am sure you
will not make it worse for me.'

'No, no,' she said, embracing him; 'I will not. I will be brave. I will
do all that I can. But you will tell me everything?'

'Everything,' he said. Then he kissed her, and went back again to his
unwelcome guests. She was not long before she followed him, bringing her
baby in her arms. Then she took the child round to be kissed by all its
relatives, and afterwards bowed politely to the two men, and told them
that she was glad to see her husband's old friends and fellow-workmen.

'Yes, mum,' said Jack Adamson; 'we've been fellow-workmen when the work
was hard enough. 'T young squire seems to have got over his difficulties
pretty tidy!' Then she smiled again, and nodded to them, and retreated
back to her mother.

Mrs. Bolton scowled at them, feeling certain that they were godless
persons;--in which she was right. The old banker, drawing his son Daniel
out of the room, whispered an inquiry; but Daniel Bolton knew nothing.
'There's been something wrong as to the sale of that mine,' said the
banker. Daniel Bolton thought it probable that there had been something
wrong.

The breakfast was eaten, and the child's health was drunk, and the hour
was passed. It was a bad time for them all, but for Caldigate it was a
very bitter hour. To him the effort made was even more difficult than to
her;--as was right;--for she at any rate had been blameless. Then the
Boltons went away, as had been arranged, and also Uncle Babington while
the men still remained.

'If you don't mind, squire, I'll take a turn with you,' said Crinkett at
last; 'while Jack can sit anywhere about the place.'

'Certainly,' said Caldigate. And so they took their hats and went off,
and Jack Adamson was left 'sitting anywhere' about the place.



Chapter XXVIII

Tom Crinkett at Folking



Caldigate thought that he had better take his companion where there
would be the least chance of encountering many eyes. He went therefore
through the garden into the farmyard and along the road leading back to
the dike, and then he walked backwards and forwards between the ferry,
over the Wash, and the termination of the private way by which they had
come. The spot was not attractive, as far as rural prettiness was
concerned. They had, on one hand or the other as they turned, the long,
straight, deep dike which had been cut at right angles to the Middle
Wash; and around, the fields were flat, plashy, and heavy-looking with
the mud of February. But Crinkett for a while did not cease to admire
everything. 'And them are all yourn?' he said, pointing to a crowd of
corn-stacks standing in the haggard.

'Yes, they're mine. I wish they were not.'

'What do you mean by that?'

'As prices are at present, a man doesn't make pinch by growing corn and
keeping it to this time of the year.'

'And where them chimneys is,--is that yourn?' This he said pointing
along the straight line of the road to Farmer Holt's homestead, which
showed itself on the other side of the Wash.

'It belongs to the estate,' said Caldigate.

'By jingo! And how I remember your a-coming and talking to me across the
gate at Polyeuka Hall!'

'I remember it very well.'

'I didn't know as you were an estated gent in those days.'

'I had spent a lot of money when I was young, and the estate, as you
call it, was not large enough to bear the loss. So I had to go out and
work, and get back what I had squandered.'

'And you did it?'

'Yes, I did it.'

'My word, yes! What a lot of money you took out of the colony,
Caldigate!'

'I'm not going to praise myself, but I worked hard for it, and when I
got it I didn't run riot.'

'Not with drink.'

'Nor in any other way. I kept my money.'

'Well;--I don't know as you was very much more of a Joseph than anybody
else.' Then Crinkett laughed most disagreeably; and Caldigate, turning
over various ideas rapidly in his mind, thought that a good deed would
be done if a man so void of feeling could be drowned beneath the waters
of the black deep dike which was slowly creeping along by their side.
'Any way you was lucky,--infernally lucky.'

'You did not do badly yourself. When I first reached Nobble you had the
name of more money than I ever made.'

'Who's got it now? Eh, Caldigate! who's got my money now?'

'It would take a clever man to tell that.'

'It don't take much cleverness for me to tell who has got more of it nor
anybody else, and it don't take much cleverness for me to tell that I
ain't got none of it left myself;--none of it, Caldigate. Not a d-----
hundred pounds!' This he said with terrible energy.

'I'm sorry it's so bad as that with you, Crinkett.'

'Yes;--you is sorry, I daresay. You've acted sorry in all you said and
done since I got taken in last by that ---- mine;--haven't you? Well;--I
have got just a few hundreds; what I could scrape together to bring me
and a few others as might be wanted over to England. There's Jack
Adamson with me and ---- just two more. They may be wanted, squire.'

The attack now was being commenced, and how was he to repel it, or to
answer it? Only on one ground had he received from Robert Bolton a
decided opinion. Under no circumstances was he to give money to these
persons. Were he to be guilty of that weakness he would have delivered
himself over into their hands. And not only did he put implicit trust in
the sagacity of Robert Bolton, but he himself knew enough of the world's
opinion on such a matter to be aware that a man who has allowed himself
to be frightened out of money is supposed to have acknowledged some
terrible delinquency. He had been very clear in his mind when that
letter came from Euphemia Smith that he would not now make any rebate.
Till that attack had come, it might have been open to him to be
generous;--but not now. And yet when this man spoke of his own loss,
and reminded him of his wealth;--when Crinkett threw it in his teeth
that by a happy chance he had feathered his nest with the spoils taken
from the wretched man himself,--then he wished that it was in his power
to give back something.

'Is that said as a threat?' he asked, looking round on his companion,
and resolving that he would be brave.

'That's as you take it, squire. We don't want to threaten nothing.'

'Because if you do, you'd better go, and do what you have to do away
from here.'

'Don't you be so rough now with an old pal. You won't do no good by
being rough. I wasn't rough to you when you came to Polyeuka Hall
without very much in your pocket.' This was untrue, for Crinkett had
been rough, and Caldigate's pockets had been full of money; but there
could be no good got by contradicting him on small trifles. 'I was a
good mate to you then. You wouldn't even have got your finger into the
"Old Stick-in-the-Mud," nor yet into Polyeuka, but for me. I was the
making of your fortin, Caldigate. I was.'

'My fortune, such as it is, was made by my own industry.'

'Industry be blowed! I don't know that you were so much better than
anybody else. Wasn't I industrious? Wasn't I thinking of it morning,
noon, and night, and nothing else? You was smart. I do allow that,
Caldigate. You was very smart.'

'Did you ever know me dishonest?'

'Pooh! what's honesty? There's nothing so smart as honesty. Whatever you
got, you got a sure hold of. That's what you mean by honesty. You was
clever enough to take care as you had really got it. Now about this
Polyeuka business, I'll tell you how it is. I and Jack Adamson and
another,'--as he alluded to the 'other' he winked,--'we believed in
Polyeuka; we did. D----- the cussed hole! Well;--when you was gone we
thought we'd try it. It was not easy to get the money as you wanted, but
we got it. One of the banks down at Sydney went shares, but took all the
plant as security. Then the cussed place ran out the moment the money
was paid. It was just as though fortin had done it a purpose. If you
don't believe what I'm a-saying, I've got the documents to show you.'

Caldigate did believe what the man said. It was a matter as to which he
had, in the way of business, received intelligence of his own from the
colony, and he was aware that he had been singularly lucky as to the
circumstances and time of the sale. But there had been nothing 'smart'
about it. Those in the colony who understood the matter thought at the
time that he was making a sacrifice of his own interests by the terms
proposed. He had thought so himself, but had been willing to make it in
order that he might rid himself of further trouble. He had believed that
the machinery and plant attached to the mine had been nearly worth the
money, and he had been quite certain that Crinkett himself, when making
the bargain, had considered himself to be in luck's way. But such
property, as he well knew, was, by its nature, precarious and liable to
sudden changes. He had been fortunate, and the purchasers had been the
reverse Of that he had no doubt, though probably the man had exaggerated
his own misfortune. When he had been given to understand how bad had
been the fate of these old companions of his in the matter, with the
feelings of a liberal gentleman he was anxious to share with them the
loss. Had Crinkett come to him, explaining all that he now explained,
without any interference from Euphemia Smith, he would have been anxious
to do much. But now;--how could he do anything now? 'I do not at all
disbelieve what you tell me about the mine,' he said.

'And yet you won't do anything for us? You ain't above taking all our
money and seeing us starve; and that when you have got everything round
you here like an estated gentleman, as you are?'

There was a touch of eloquence in this, a soundness of expostulation
which moved him much. He could afford to give back half the price he had
received for the mine and yet be a well-to-do man.

He paid over to his father the rents from Folking, but he had the house
and home-farm for nothing. And the sum which he had received for
Polyeuka by no means represented all his savings. He did not like to
think that he had denuded this man who had been his partner of
everything in order that he himself might be unnecessarily rich. It was
not pleasant to him to think that the fatness of his opulence had been
extracted from Jack Adamson and from--Euphemia Smith. When the
application for return of the money had been first made to him from
Australia, he hadn't known what he knew now. There had been no eloquence
then,--no expostulation. Now he thoroughly wished that he was able to
make restitution. 'A threat has been used to me,' he muttered almost
anxious to explain to the man his exact position.

'A threat! I ain't threatened nothing. But I tell you there will be
threats and worse than threats. Fair means first and foul means
afterwards! That's about it, Caldigate.'

If he could have got this man to say that there was no threat, to be
simply piteous, he thought that he might even yet have suggested some
compromise. But that was impossible when he was told that worse than
threats was in store for him. He was silent for some moments, thinking
whether it would not be better for him to rush into that matter of
Euphemia Smith himself. But up to this time he had no absolute knowledge
that Crinkett was aware of the letter which had been written. No doubt
that in speaking of 'another' as being joined with himself and Adamson
he had intended that Euphemia Smith should be understood. But till her
name had been mentioned, he could not bring himself to mention it. He
could not bring himself to betray the fear which would become evident if
he spoke of the woman.

'I think you had better go to my lawyer,' he said.

'We don't want no lawyering. The plunder is yours, no doubt. Whether
you'll have so much law on your side in other matters,--that's the
question.' Crinkett did not in the least understand the state of his
companion's mind. To Crinkett it appeared that Caldigate was simply
anxious to save his money.

'I do not know that I can say anything else to you just at present. The
bargain was a fair bargain, and you have no ground for any claim. You
come to me with some mysterious threat------'

'You understand,' said Crinkett.

'I care nothing for your threats. I can only bid you go and do your
worst.'

'That's what we intend.'

'That you should have lost money by me is a great sorrow to me.'

'You look sorry, squire.'

'But after what you have said, I can make you no offer. If you will go
to my brother-in-law, Mr. Robert Bolton--'

'That's the lady's brother?'

'My wife's brother.'

'I know all about it, Caldigate. I won't go to him at all. What's he to
us? It ain't likely that I am going to ask him for money to hold our
tongues. Not a bit of it. You've had sixty thousand pounds out of that
mine. The bank found twenty and took all the plant. There's forty gone.
Will you share the loss? Give us twenty and we'll be off back to
Australia by the first ship. And I'll take a wife back with me. You
understand? I'll take a wife back with me. Then we shall be all square
all round.'

With what delight would he have given the twenty thousand pounds, had he
dared! Had there been no question about the woman, he would have given
the money to satisfy his own conscience as to the injury he had
involuntarily done to his old partners. But he could not do it now. He
could make no suggestion towards doing it. To do so would be to own to
all the Boltons that Mrs. Euphemia Smith was his wife. And were he to
do so, how could he make himself secure that the man and the woman would
go back to Australia and trouble him no more? All experience forbade him
to hope for such a result. And then the payment of the money would be
one of many damning pieces of evidence against him. They had now got
back for the second time to the spot at which the way up to the house at
Folking turned off from the dike. Here he paused and spoke what were
intended to be his last words. 'I have nothing more to say, Crinkett. I
will not promise anything myself. A threatened man should never give
way. You know that yourself. But if you will go to my brother-in-law I
will get him to see you.'

'D---- your brother-in-law. He ain't your brother-in-law, no more than I
am.'

Now the sword had been drawn and the battle had been declared. 'After
that,' said Caldigate, walking on in front, 'I shall decline to speak to
you any further.' He went back through the farmyard at a quick pace,
while Crinkett kept up with him, but still a few steps behind. In the
front of the house they found Jack Adamson, who, in obedience to his
friend's suggestion had been sitting anywhere about the place.

'I'm blowed if he don't mean to stick to every lump he's robbed us of!'
said Crinkett, in a loud voice.

'He do, do he? Then we know what we've got to be after.'

'I've come across some of 'em precious mean,' continued Crinkett; 'but a
meaner skunk nor this estated gent, who is a justice of the peace and a
squire and all that, I never did come across, and I don't suppose I
never shall.' And then they stood looking at him, jeering at him. And
the gardener, who was then in the front of the house, heard it all.

'Darvell,' said the squire, 'open the gate for these gentlemen.' Darvell
of course knew that they had been brought from the church to the house,
and had been invited in to the christening breakfast.

'If I were Darvell I wouldn't take wages from such a skunk as you,' said
Crinkett. 'A man as has robbed his partners of every shilling, and has
married a young lady when he has got another wife living out in the
colony. At least she was out in the colony. She ain't there now,
Darvell. She's somewhere else now. That's what your master is, Darvell.
You'll have to look out for a place, because your master'll be in quod
before long. How much is it they gets for bigamy, Jack? Three years at
the treadmill;--that's about it. But I pities the young lady and the
poor little bastard.'

What was he to do? A sense of what was fitting for his wife rather than
for himself forbade him to fly at the man and take him by the throat.
And now, of course, the wretched story would be told through all
Cambridgeshire. Nothing could prevent that now. 'Darvell,' he said, as
he turned towards the hall steps, 'you must see these men off the
premises. The less you say to them the better.'

'We'll only just tell him all about it as we goes along comfortable,'
said Adamson. Darvell, who was a good sort of man in his way,--slow
rather than stupid, weighted with the ordinary respect which a servant
has for his master,--had heard it all, but showed no particular anxiety
to hear more. He accompanied the men down to the Causeway, hardly
opening his mouth to them, while they were loud in denouncing the
meanness of the man who had deserted a wife in Australia, and had then
betrayed a young lady here in England.

'What were they talking about?' said his wife to him when they were
alone. 'I heard their voices even here.'

'They were threatening me;--threatening me and you.'

'About that woman?'

'Yes; about that woman. Not that they have dared yet to mention her
name,--but it was about that woman.'

'And she?'

'I've heard nothing from her since that letter. I do not know that she
is in England, but I suppose that she is with them.'

'Does it make you unhappy, John?'

'Very unhappy.'

'Does it frighten you?'

'Yes. It makes me fear that you for a while will be made miserable,--you
whom I had thought that I could protect from all sorrow and from all
care! O my darling! of course it frightens me; but it is for you.'

'What will they do first, John?'

'They have already said words before the man there which will of course
be spread about the country.'

'What words?'

Then he paused, but after pausing he spoke very plainly. 'They said that
you were not my wife.'

'But I am.'

'Indeed you are.'

'Tell me all truly. Though I were not, I would still be true to you.'

'But, Hester,--Hester, you are. Do not speak as though that were
possible.'

'I know that you love me. I am sure of that. Nothing should ever make me
leave you;--nothing. You are all the world to me now. Whatever you may
have done I will be true to you. Only tell me everything.'

'I think I have,' he said, hoarsely. Then he remembered that he had told
much to Robert Bolton which she had not heard. 'I did tell her that I
would marry her.'

'You did.'

'Yes, I did.'

'Is not that a marriage in some countries?'

'I think nowhere,--certainly not there. And the people, hearing of it
all, used to call her by my name.'

'O John!--will not that be against us?'

'It will be against me,--in the minds of persons like your mother.'

'I will care nothing for that. I know that you have repented, and are
sorry. I know that you love me now.'

'I have always loved you since the first moment that I saw you.'

'Never for a moment believe that I will believe them. Let them do what
they will, I will be your wife. Nothing shall take me away from you. But
it is sad, is it not; on that the very day that poor baby has been
christened?' Then they sat and wept together and tried to comfort each
other. But nothing could comfort him. He was almost prostrated at the
prospect of his coming misery,--and of hers.



Chapter XXIX

'Just by Telling Me that I Am'



The thunderbolt had fallen now. Caldigate, when he left his wife that he
might stroll about the place after the dusk had fallen, told himself
again and again that the thunderbolt had certainly fallen now. There
could be no longer a doubt but that this woman would claim him as her
husband. A whole world of remorse and regrets oppressed his conscience
and his heart. He looked back and remembered the wise counsels which had
been given him on board the ship, when the captain and Mrs. Callender
and poor Dick Shand had remonstrated with him, and called to mind his
own annoyance when he had bidden them mind their own affairs. And then
he remembered how he had determined to break away from the woman at
Sydney, and to explain to her, as he might then have done without
injustice, that they two could be of no service the one to the other,
and that they had better part. It seemed now, as he looked back, to have
been so easy for him then to have avoided danger, so easy to have kept a
straight course! But now,--now, surely he would be overwhelmed.

And then how easy it would have been, had he been more careful at the
beginning of these troubles, to have bought these wretches off! He had
been, he now acknowledged, too peremptory in his first refusal to refund
a portion of the money to Crinkett. The application had, indeed, been
made without those proofs as to the condition of the mine which had
since reached him, and he had distrusted Crinkett. Crinkett he had known
to be a man not to be trusted. But yet, even after receiving the letter
from Euphemia Smith, the matter might have been arranged. When he had
first become assured that the new Polyeuka Company had failed, he should
have made an offer, even though Euphemia Smith had then commenced her
threats. With skill, might he not have done it on this very day? Might
he not have made the man understand that if he would base his claim
simply on his losses, and make it openly on that ground, then his claim
should be considered? But now it was too late, and the thunderbolt had
fallen.

What must he do first? Robert Bolton had promised to tell him on the
morrow whether he would act for him as his lawyer. He felt sure now that
his brother-in-law would not do so; but it would be necessary that he
should have an answer, and that necessity would give him an excuse for
going into Cambridge and showing himself among the Boltons. Let his
sufferings or his fears be what they might, he would never confess to
the world that he suffered or that he was frightened, by shutting
himself up. He would be seen about Cambridge, walking openly, as though
no reports, no rumours, had been spread about concerning him. He would
go to the houses of his wife's relations until he should be told that he
was not welcome.

'John,' his wife said to him that night, 'bear it like a man.'

'Am I not bearing it like a man?'

'It is crushing your very heart. I see it in your eyes.'

'Can you bear it?' He asked his question with a stern voice; but as he
asked it he turned to her and kissed her.

'Yes,' she said, 'yes. While I have you with me, and baby, I can bear
anything. While you will tell me everything that happens, I will bear
everything. And, John, when you were out just now, and when I am alone
and trying to pray, I told myself that I ought not to be unhappy; for I
would sooner have you and baby and all these troubles, than be back at
Chesterton--without you.'

'I wish you were back there. I wish you had never seen me.'

'If you say that, then I shall be crushed.'

'For your sake, my darling; for your sake,--for your sake! How shall I
comfort you when all those around you are saying that you are not my
wife?'

'By telling me that I am,' she said, coming and kneeling at his feet,
and looking up into his face. 'If you say so, you may be sure that I
shall believe no one who says the contrary.'

It was thus, and only now, that he began to know the real nature of the
woman whom he had succeeded in making his own, and of whom he found now
that even her own friends would attempt to rob him. 'I will bear it,' he
said, as he embraced her. 'I will bear it, if I can, like a man.'

'Oh, ma'am! those men were saying horrid things,' her nurse said to her
that night.

'Yes; very horrid things. I know it all. It is part of a wicked plot to
rob Mr. Caldigate of his money. It is astonishing the wickedness that
people will contrive. It is very very sad. I don't know how long it may
be before Mr. Caldigate can prove it all.'

'But he can prove it all, ma'am?'

'Of course he can. The truth can always be proved at last. I trust there
will be no one about the place to doubt him. If there were such a one, I
would not speak to him,--though it were my own father; though it were my
own mother.' Then she took the baby in her arms, as though fearing that
the nurse herself might not be loyal.

'I don't think there will be any as knows master, will be wrong enough
for that,' said the nurse, understanding what was expected of her. After
that, but not quite readily, the baby was once more trusted to her.

On the following morning Caldigate rode into the town, and as he put his
horse up at the inn, he felt that the very ostler had heard the story.
As he walked along the street, it seemed to him that everyone he met
knew all about it. Robert Bolton would, of course, have heard it; but
nevertheless he walked boldly into the attorney's office. His fault at
the time was in being too bold in manner, in carrying himself somewhat
too erect, in assuming too much confidence in his eye and mouth. To act
a part perfectly requires a consummate actor; and there are phases in
life in which acting is absolutely demanded. A man cannot always be at
his ease, but he should never seem to be discomfited. For petty troubles
the amount of acting necessary is so common that habit has made it
almost natural. But when great sorrows come it is hard not to show
them,--and harder still not to seem to hide them.

When he entered the private room he found that the old man was there
with his son. He shook hands, of course, with both of them, and then he
stood a moment silent to hear how they would address him. But as they
also were silent he was compelled to speak. 'I hope you got home all
right, sir, yesterday; and Mrs. Bolton.'

The old man did not answer, but he turned his face round to his son. 'I
hear that you had that man Crinkett out at Folking yesterday,' said
Robert.

'He was there, certainly, to my sorrow.'

'And another with him?'

'Yes; and another with him, whom I had also known at Nobble.'

'And they were brought in to breakfast?'

'Yes.'

'And they afterwards declared that you had married a wife out there in
the colony?'

'That also is true.'

'They have been with my father this morning.'

'I am very, very sorry, sir,' said Caldigate, turning to the old man,
'that you should have been troubled in so disagreeable a business.'

'Now, Caldigate, I will tell you what we propose.' It was still the
attorney who was speaking, for the old man had not as yet opened his
mouth since his son-in-law had entered the room. 'There can, I think, be
no doubt that this woman intends to bring an accusation of bigamy
against you.'

'She is threatening to do it. I think it very improbable that she will
be fool enough to make the attempt.'

'From what I have heard I feel sure that the attempt will be made.
Depositions, in fact, will be made before the magistrates some day this
week. Crinkett and the woman have been with the mayor this morning, and
have been told the way in which they should proceed.' Caldigate, when he
heard this, felt that he was trembling, but he looked into the speaker's
face without allowing his eyes to turn to the right or left. 'I am not
going to say anything now about the case itself. Indeed, as I know
nothing, I can say nothing. You must provide yourself with a lawyer.'

'You will not act for me?'

'Certainly not. I must act for my sister. Now what I propose, and what
her father proposes, is this,--that she shall return to her home at
Puritan Grange while this question is being decided.'

'Certainly not,' said the husband.

'She must,' said the old man, speaking for the first time.

'We shall compel it,' said the attorney.

'Compel! How will you compel it? She is my wife.'

'That has to be proved. Public opinion will compel it, if nothing else.
You cannot make a prisoner of her.'

'Oh, she shall go if she wishes it. You shall have free access to her.
Bring her mother. Bring your carriage. She shall dispose of herself as
she pleases. God forbid that I should keep her, though she be my wife,
against her will.'

'I am sure she will do as her friends shall advise her when she hears
the story,' said the attorney.

'She has heard the story. She knows it all. And I am sure that she will
not stir a foot,' said the husband. 'You know nothing about her.' This he
said turning to his wife's half-brother; and then again he turned to the
old man. 'You, sir, no doubt, are well aware that she can be firm to her
purpose. Nothing but death could take her away from me. If you were to
carry her by force to Chesterton she would return to Folking on foot
before the day was over. She knows what it is to be a wife. I am not a
bit afraid of her leaving me.' This he was able to say with a high
spirit and an assured voice.

'It is quite out of the question that she should stay with you while
this is going on.'

'Of course she must come away,' said the banker, not looking at the man
whom he now hated as thoroughly as did his wife.

'Consult your own friends, and let her consult hers. They will all tell
you so. Ask Mrs. Babington. Ask your own father.'

'I shall ask no one--but her.'

'Think what her position will be! All the world will at least doubt
whether she be your wife or not.'

'There is one person who will not doubt,--and that is herself.'

'Very good. If it be so, that will be a comfort to you, no doubt. But,
for her sake, while other people doubt, will it not be better that she
should be with her father and mother? Look at it all round.'

'I think it would be better that she should be with me,' replied
Caldigate.

'Even though your former marriage with that other woman were proved?'

'I will not presume that to be possible. Though a jury should so decide,
their decision would be wrong. Such an error could not effect us. I will
not think of such a thing.'

'And you do not perceive that her troubles will be lighter in her
father's house than in yours?'

'Certainly not. To be away from her own house would be such a trouble to
her that she would not endure it unless restrained by force.'

'If you press her, she would go. Cannot you see that it would be better
for her name?'

'Her name is my name,' he said, clenching his fist in his violence, 'and
my name is hers. She can have no good name distinct from me,--no name at
all. She is part and parcel of my very self, and under no circumstances
will I consent that she shall be torn away from me. No word from any
human being shall persuade me to it,--unless it should come from
herself.'

'We can make her,' said the old man.

'No doubt we could get an order from the Court,' said the attorney,
thinking that anything might be fairly said in such an emergency as
this; 'but it will be better that she should come of her own accord, or
by his direction. Are you aware how probable it is that you may be in
prison within a day or two?'

To this Caldigate made no answer, but turned round to leave the room. He
paused a moment at the doorway to think whether another word or two
might not be said in behalf of his wife. It seemed hard to him, or hard
rather upon her, that all the wide-stretching solid support of her
family should be taken away from her at such a crisis as the present. He
knew their enmity to himself. He could understand both the old enmity
and that which had now been newly engendered. Both the one and the other
were natural. He had succeeded in getting the girl away from her parents
in opposition to both father and mother. And now, almost within the
first year of his marriage, she had been brought to this terrible misery
by means of disreputable people with whom he had been closely connected!
Was it not natural that Robert Bolton should turn against him? If Hester
had been his sister and there had come such an interloper what would he
have felt? Was it not his duty to be gentle and to give way, if by any
giving way he could lessen the evil which he had occasioned. 'I am sorry
to have to leave your presence like this,' he said, turning back to Mr.
Bolton.

'Why did you ever come into my presence?'

'What has been done is done. Even if I would give her back, I cannot.
For better or for worse she is mine. We cannot make it otherwise now.
But understand this, when you ask that she shall come back to you, I do
not refuse it on my own account. Though I should be miserable indeed
were she to leave me, I will not even ask her to stay. But I know she
will stay. Though I should try to drive her out, she would not go.
Good-bye, sir.' The old man only shook his head. 'Good-bye, Robert.'

'Good-bye. You had better get some lawyer as soon as you can. If you
know any one in London you should send for him. If not, Mr. Seely here
is as good a man as you can have. He is no friend of mine, but he is a
careful attorney who understands his business.' Then Caldigate left the
room with the intention of going at once to Mr. Seely.

But standing patiently at the door, just within the doorway of the
house, he met a tall man in dark plain clothes; whom he at once knew to
be a policeman. The man, who was aware that Caldigate was a county
magistrate, civilly touched his hat, and then, with a few whispered
words, expressed his opinion that our hero had better go with him to the
mayor's office. Had he a warrant? Yes, he had a warrant, but he thought
that probably it might not be necessary for him to show it. 'I will go
with you, of course,' said Caldigate. 'I suppose it is on the allegation
of a man named Crinkett.'

'A lady, sir, I think,' said the policeman.

'One Mrs. Smith.'

'She called herself--Caldigate, sir,' said the policeman. Then they went
together without any further words to the mayor's court, and from
thence, before he heard the accusation made against him, he sent both
for his father and for Mr. Seely.

He was taken through to a private room, and thither came at once the
mayor and another magistrate of the town with whom he was acquainted.
'This is a very sad business, Mr. Caldigate,' said the mayor.

'Very sad, indeed. I suppose I know all about it. Two men were with me
yesterday threatening to indict me for bigamy if I did not give them a
considerable sum of money. I can quite understand that they should have
been here, as I know the nature of the evidence they can use. The
policeman tells me the woman is here too.'

'Oh yes;--she is here, and has made her deposition. Indeed, there are
two men and another woman who all declare that they were present at her
marriage.' Then, after some further conversation, the accusers were
brought into the room before him, so that their depositions might be
read to him. The woman was closely veiled, so that he could not see a
feature of her face; but he knew her figure well, and he remembered the
other woman who had been half-companion half-servant to Euphemia Smith
when she had come up to the diggings, and who had been with her both at
Ahalala and at Nobble. The woman's name, as he now brought to mind, was
Anna Young. Crinkett also and Adamson followed them into the room, each
of whom had made a deposition on the matter. 'Is this the Mr.
Caldigate,' said the mayor, 'whom you claim as your husband?'

'He is my husband,' said the woman. 'He and I were married at Ahalala in
New South Wales.' 'It is false,' said Caldigate.

'Would you wish to see her face?' asked the mayor.

'No; I know her voice well. She is the woman in whose company I went out
to the Colony, and whom I knew while I was there. It is not necessary
that I should see her. What does she say?'

'That I am your wife, John Caldigate.'

Then the deposition was read to him, which stated on the part of the
woman, that on a certain day she was married to him by the Rev. Mr.
Allan, a Wesleyan minister, at Ahalala, that the marriage took place in
a tent belonging, as she believed, to Mr. Crinkett, and that Crinkett,
Adamson, and Anna Young were all present at the marriage. Then the three
persons thus named had taken their oaths and made their depositions to
the same effect. And a document was produced, purporting to be a copy of
the marriage certificate as made out by Mr. Allan,--copy which she, the
woman, stated that she obtained at the time, the register itself, which
consisted simply of an entry in a small book, having been carried away
by Mr. Allan in his pocket. Crinkett, when asked what had become of Mr.
Allan, stated that he knew nothing but that he had left Ahalala. From
that day to this none of them had heard of Mr Allan.

Then the mayor gave Caldigate to understand that he must hold himself as
committed to stand his trial for bigamy at the next Assizes for the
County.



Chapter XXX

The Conclave at Puritan Grange



John Caldigate was committed, and liberated on bail. This occurred in
Cambridge on the Wednesday after the christening; and before the
Saturday night following, all the Boltons were thoroughly convinced that
this wretched man, who had taken from them their daughter and their
sister, was a bigamist, and that poor Hester, though a mother, was not a
wife. The evidence against him, already named, was very strong, but they
had been put in possession of other, and as they thought more damning
evidence than any to which he had alluded in telling his version of the
story to Robert Bolton. The woman had produced, and had shown to Robert
Bolton, the envelope of a letter addressed in John Caldigate's
handwriting to 'Mrs. Caldigate, Ahalala, Nobble,' which letter had been
dated inside from Sydney, and which envelope bore the Sydney postmark.
Caldigate's handwriting was peculiar, and the attorney declared that he
could himself swear to it. The letter itself she also produced, but it
told less than the envelope. It began as such a letter might begin,
'Dearest Feemy,' and ended 'Yours, ever and always, J.C.' As she herself
had pointed out, a man such as Caldigate does not usually call his wife
by that most cherished name in writing to her. The letter itself
referred almost altogether to money matters, though perhaps hardly to
such as a man generally discusses with his wife. Certain phrases seemed
to imply a distinct action. She had better sell these shares or those,
if she could, for a certain price,--and suchlike. But she explained,
that they both when they married had been possessed of mining shares,
represented by scrip which passed from hand to hand readily, and that
each still retained his or her own property. But among the various small
documents which she had treasured up for use, should they be needed for
some possible occasion such as this, was a note, which had not, indeed,
been posted, but which purported to have been written by the minister,
Allan, to Caldigate himself, offering to perform the marriage at
Ahalala, but advising him to have the ceremony performed at some more
settled place, where an established church community with a permanent
church or chapel admitted the proper custody of registers. Nothing could
be more sensible, or written in a better spirit than this letter, though
the language was not that of an educated man. This letter, Caldigate
had, she said, showed to her, and she had retained it. Then she brought
forward two handkerchiefs which she herself had marked with her new
name, Euphemia Caldigate, and the date of the year. This had been done,
she declared, immediately after her marriage, and the handkerchiefs
seemed by their appearance to justify the assertion. Caldigate had
admitted a promise, admitted that he had lived with the woman, admitted
that she had passed by his name, admitted that there had been a
conversation with the clergyman in regard to his marriage. And now there
were three others, besides the woman herself, who were ready to
swear,--who had sworn,--that they had witnessed the ceremony!

A clerk had been sent out early in November by Robert and William Bolton
to make inquiry in the colony, and he could not well return before the
end of March. And, if the accused man should ask for delay, it would
hardly be possible to refuse the request as it might be necessary for
his defence that he, too, should get evidence from the colony. The next
assizes would be in April, and it would hardly be possible that the
trial should take place so soon. And if not there would be a delay of
three or four months more. Even that might hardly suffice should a plea
be made on Caldigate's behalf that prolonged inquiry was indispensable.
A thousand allegations might be made, as to the characters of these
witnesses,--characters which doubtless were open to criticism; as to
the probability of forgery; as to the necessity of producing Allan, the
clergyman; as to Mrs. Smith's former position,--whether or no she was
in truth a widow when she was living at Ahalala. Richard Shand had been
at Ahalala, and must have known the truth. Caldigate might well declare
that Richard Shand's presence was essential to his defence. There would
and must be delay.

But what, in the meantime, would be the condition of Hester,--Hester
Bolton, as they feared that they would be bound in duty to call
her,--of Hester and her infant? The thing was so full of real
tragedy,--true human nature of them all was so strongly affected, that
for a time family jealousies and hatred had to give way. To father and
mother and to the brothers, and to the brother's wife, it was equally
a catastrophe, terrible, limitless, like an earthquake, or the falling
upon them of some ruined tower. One thing was clear to them all,--that
she and her child must be taken away from Folking. Her continued
residence there would be a continuation of the horror. The man was not
her husband. Not one of them was inspired by a feeling of mercy to
allege that, in spite of all that they had heard, he still might be her
husband. Even Mrs. Robert, who had been most in favour of the Caldigate
marriage, did not doubt for an instant. The man had been a gambler at
home on racecourses, and then had become a gambler at the gold-mines in
the colony. His life then, by his own admission, had been disreputable.
Who does not know that vices which may be treated with tenderness,
almost with complaisance, while they are kept in the background, became
monstrous, prodigious, awe-inspiring when they are made public? A
gentleman shall casually let slip some profane word, and even some
friendly parson standing by will think but little of it; but let the
profane word, through some unfortunate accident, find its way into the
newspapers, and the gentleman will be held to have disgraced himself
almost for ever. Had nothing been said of a marriage between Caldigate
and Mrs. Smith, little would have been thought by Robert Bolton, little
perhaps by Robert Bolton's father, little even by Robert Bolton's wife,
of the unfortunate alliance which he had admitted. But now, everything
was added to make a pile of wickedness as big as a mountain.

From the conclave which was held on Saturday at Puritan Grange to decide
what should be done, it was impossible to exclude Mrs. Bolton. She was
the young mother's mother, and how should she be excluded? From the
first moment in which something of the truth had reached her ears, it
had become impossible to silence her or to exclude her. To her all those
former faults would have been black as vice itself, even though there
had been no question of a former marriage. Outside active sins, to which
it may be presumed no temptation allured herself, were abominable to
her. Evil thoughts, hardness of heart, suspicions, unforgivingness,
hatred, being too impalpable for denunciation in the Decalogue but lying
nearer to the hearts of most men than murder, theft, adultery, and
perjury, were not equally abhorrent to her. She had therefore allowed
herself to believe all evil of this man, and from the very first had set
him down in her heart as a hopeless sinner. The others had opposed
her,--because the man had money. In the midst of her shipwreck, in the
midst of her misery, through all her maternal agony, there was a certain
triumph to her in this. She had been right,--right from first to last,
right in everything. Her poor old husband was crushed by the feeling
that they had, among them, allowed this miscreant to take their darling
away from them,--that he himself had assented; but she had not assented;
she was not crushed. Before Monday night all Cambridge had heard
something of the story, and then it had been impossible to keep her in
the dark. And now, when the conclave met, of course she was one. The old
man was there, and Robert Bolton, and William the barrister, who had
come down from London to give his advice, and both Mr. and Mrs. Daniel.
Mrs. Daniel, of all the females of the family, was the readiest to
endure the severity of the step-mother, and she was now giving what
comfort she could by her attendance at the Grange.

'Of course she should come home,' said the barrister. Up to this moment
no one had seen Hester since the evil tidings had been made known; but
a messenger had been sent out to Folking with a long letter from her
mother, in which the poor nameless one had been implored to come back
with her baby to her old home till this matter had been settled. The
writer had endeavoured to avoid the saying of hard things against the
sinner; but her feelings had been made very clear. 'Your father and
brothers and all of us think that you should come away from him while
this is pending. Nay; we do not hesitate to say that it is your bounden
duty to leave him.'

'I will never, never leave my dearest, dearest husband. If they were to
put my husband into gaol I would sit at the door till they had let him
out.' That, repeated over and over again, had been the purport of her
reply. And that word 'husband,' she used in almost every line, having
only too clearly observed that her mother had not used it at all.
'Dearest mother,' she said, ending her letter, 'I love you as I have
always done. But when I became his wife, I swore to love him best. I
did not know then how strong my love could be. I have hardly known till
now, when he is troubled, of what devotion I was capable. I will not
leave him for a moment,--unless I have to do so at his telling.'

Such being her determination, and so great her obstinacy, it was quite
clear that they could not by soft words or persuasive letters bring her
to their way of thinking. She would not submit to their authority, but
would claim that as a married woman she owed obedience only to her
husband. And it would certainly not be within their power to make her
believe that she was not Caldigate's wife. They believed it. They felt
that they knew the facts. To them any continuation of the alliance
between their poor girl and the false traitor was abominable. They would
have hung the man without a moment's thought of mercy had it been
possible. There was nothing they would not have done to rescue their
Hester from his power. But how was she to be rescued till the dilatory
law should have claimed its victim? 'Can't she be made to come away by
the police?' asked the mother.

The barrister shook his head. 'Couldn't the magistrates give an order?'
asked the father. Mr. Bolton had been a magistrate himself,--was one
still indeed, although for some years he had not sat upon the
bench,--but he had no very clear idea of a magistrate's power. The
barrister again shook his head. 'You seemed to think that something of
the kind could be done,' he said, turning to Robert. When he wanted
advice he would always turn to Robert, especially in the presence of the
barrister, intending to show that he thought the lower branch of the
profession to be at any rate more accurate than the higher.

'I said something about an order from the Vice-Chancellor. But I fear
we should not succeed in getting it.' The barrister again shook his
head.

'Do you mean to say that nothing can be done?' exclaimed Mrs. Bolton,
rising up from her seat; 'that no steps can be taken?'

'If she were once here, perhaps you could--prevent her return,'
whispered the barrister.

'Persuade her not to go back,' suggested Mrs. Daniel.

'Well;--that might come after a time. But I think you would have the
feeling of the community with you if you succeeded;--well, not violence,
you understand.'

'No; not violence,' said the father.

'I could be violent with him,' said Mrs. Bolton.

'Just do not let her leave the house,' continued the barrister. 'Of
course it would be disagreeable.'

'I should not mind that,' said Mrs. Bolton. 'In doing my duty I could
bear anything. To separate her from him I could undergo any trouble.'

'But he would have the power to fetch her?' asked the father,
doubtfully.

'No doubt;--by law he would have such power. But the magistrates would
be very loath to assist him. The feeling of the community, as I said,
would be in your favour. She would be cowed, and when once she was away
from him he would probably feel averse to increase our enmity by taking
strong measures for her recovery.' Mrs. Bolton seemed to declare by her
face that it would be quite impossible for him to increase her enmity.

'But we can't lock her up,' said the old man.

'Practically you can. Take her bonnet away,--or whatever she came in.
Don't let there be a vehicle to carry her back. Let the keys be turned
if it be necessary. The servants must know of course what you are doing;
but they will probably be on your side. I don't mean to say that if she
be resolute to escape at any cost you can prevent her. But probably she
will not be resolute like that. It requires a deal of resolution for a
young woman to show herself in the streets alone in so wretched a plight
as hers. It depends on her disposition.'

'She is very determined,' said Hester's mother.

'And you can be equally so.' To this assertion Mrs. Bolton assented
with a little nod. 'You can only try it. It is one of those cases in
which, unfortunately, publicity cannot be avoided. We have to do the
best we can for her, poor dear, according to our conscience. I should
induce her to come on a visit to her mother, and then I should, if
possible, detain her.'

It was thus that William Bolton gave his advice; and as Robert Bolton
assented, it was determined that this should be the line of action. Nor
can it be said that they were either cruel or unloving in their
projected scheme. Believing as they did that the man was not her
husband, it must be admitted that it was their duty to take her away
from him if possible. But it was not probable that Hester herself would
look upon their care of her in the same light. She would beat herself
against the bars of her cage; and even should she be prevented from
escaping by the motives and reasons which William Bolton had suggested,
she would not the less regard her father and mother as wicked tyrants.
The mother understood that very well. And she, though she was hard to
all the world besides, had never been hard to her girl. No tenderest
female bosom that ever panted at injustice done to her offspring was
more full than hers of pity, love, and desire. To save her Hester from
sin and suffering she would willingly lay down her life. And she knew
that in carrying out the scheme that had been proposed she must appear
to her girl to be an enemy,--to be the bitterest of all enemies! I have
seen a mother force open the convulsively closed jaws of her child in
order that some agonising torture might be applied,--which, though
agonising, would tend to save her sick infant's life. She did it
though, the child shrank from her as from some torturing fiend. This
mother resolved that she would do the same,--though her child, too,
should learn to hate her.

William Bolton undertook to go out to Folking and give the invitation
by which she was to be allured to come to Puritan Grange,--only for a
day and night if longer absence was objectionable; only for a morning
visit, if no more could be achieved. It was all treachery and
falsehood;--a doing of certain evil that possible good might come from
it. 'She will hate me for ever, but yet it ought to be done,' said
William Bolton; who was a good man, an excellent husband and father,
and regarded in his own profession as an honourable trustworthy man.

'She will never stay,' the old man said to his wife, when the others had
gone and they two were left together.

'I don't know.'

'I am sure she will never stay.'

'I will try.'

Mrs. Robert said the same thing when the scheme was explained to her.
'Do you think anybody could keep me a prisoner against my will,--unless
they locked me up in a cell? Do you think I would not scream?'

The husband endeavoured to explain that the screaming might depend on
the causes which had produced the coercion. 'I think you would scream,
and scream till you were let loose, if the person locking you up had
nothing to justify him. But if you felt that the world would be all
against you, then you would not scream and would not be let out.'

Mrs. Robert, however, seemed to think that no one could keep her in any
house against her own will without positive bolts, bars, and chains.

In the meantime much had been settled out at Folking, or had been
settled at Cambridge, so that the details were known at Folking. Mr.
Seely had taken up the case, and had of course gone into it with much
more minuteness than Robert Bolton had done. Caldigate owned to the
writing of the envelope, and to the writing of the letter, but declared
that that letter had not been sent in that envelope. He had written the
envelope in some foolish joke while at Ahalala,--he remembered doing it
well; but he was quite sure that it had never passed through the Sydney
post-office. The letter itself had been written from Sydney. He
remembered writing that also, and he remembered posting it at Sydney in
an envelope addressed to Mrs. Smith. When Mr. Seely assured him that he
himself had seen the post-office stamp of Sydney on the cover, Caldigate
declared that it must have been passed through the post-office for
fraudulent purposes after it had left his hands. 'Then,' said Mr. Seely,
'the fraud must have been meditated and prepared three years ago,--which
is hardly probable.'

As to the letter from the clergyman, Allan, of which Mr. Seely had
procured a copy, Caldigate declared that it had certainly never been
addressed to him. He had never received any letter from Mr. Allan,--had
never seen the man's handwriting. He was quite sure that if he were in
New South Wales he could get a dozen people to swear that there had
never been such a marriage at Ahalala. He did name many people,
especially Dick Shand. Then Mr. Seely proposed to send out an agent to
the colony, who should take the depositions of such witnesses as he
could find, and who should if possible bring Dick Shand back with him.
And, at whatever cost, search should be made for Mr. Allan; and Mr.
Allan should, if found, be brought to England, if money could bring him.
If Mr. Allan could not be found, some document written by him might
perhaps be obtained with reference to his handwriting. But, through it
all, Mr. Seely did believe that there had been some marriage ceremony
between his client and Mrs. Euphemia Smith.

All this, down to the smallest detail, was told to Hester,--Hester
Bolton or Hester Caldigate, whichever she might be. And there was no
word uttered by the man she claimed as her husband which she did not
believe as though it were gospel.



Chapter XXXI

Hester Is Lured Back



On the Monday morning, Mr. William Bolton, the barrister, who had much
to his own inconvenience remained at Cambridge for the purpose of
carrying out the scheme which he had proposed, went over to Folking in a
fly. He had never been at the place before, and was personally less well
acquainted with the family into which his sister had married than any
other Bolton. Had everything been pleasant, nothing could have been more
natural than such a visit; but as things were very far from pleasant
Hester was much surprised when he was shown into her room. It had been
known to Robert Bolton that Caldigate now came every day into Cambridge
to see either his lawyer or his father, and that therefore he would
certainly not be found at home about the middle of the day. It was
henceforth to be a law with all the Boltons, at any rate till after the
trial, that they would not speak to, or if possible see, John Caldigate.
Not without very strong cause would William Bolton have entered his
house, but that strong cause existed.

'Oh, William! I am so glad to see you,' said Hester, rushing into her
brother's arms.

'I too am glad to see you, Hester, though the time is so sad to us all.'

'Yes; yes. It is sad;--oh, so sad! Is it not terrible that there should
be people so wicked, and that they should be able to cause so much
trouble to innocent persons.'

'With all my heart I feel for you,' said the brother, caressing his
young sister.

With quickest instinct she immediately perceived that a slight emphasis
given to the word 'you' implied the singular number. She drew herself
back a little, still feeling, however, that no offence had as yet been
committed against which she could express her indignation. But it was
necessary that a protest should be made at once. 'I am so sorry that my
husband is not here to welcome you. He has gone into Cambridge to fetch
his father. Poor Mr. Caldigate is so troubled by all this that he
prefers now to come and stay with us.'

'Ah, indeed! I dare say it will be better that the father and the son
should be together.'

'Father and son, or even mother and daughter, are not like husbands and
wives, are they?'

'No; they are not,' said the barrister, not quite knowing how to answer
so very self-evident a proposition, but understanding accurately the
line of thought which had rendered it necessary for the poor creature
to reassert at every moment the bond by which she would fain be bound
to the father of her child.

'But Mr. Caldigate is so good,--so good and gentle to me and baby, that
I am delighted that he should be here with John. You know of all this.'

'Yes, I know, of course.'

'And will feel all that John has to suffer.'

'It is very bad, very bad for everybody concerned. By his own showing,
his conduct----'

'William,' said she, 'let this be settled in one word. I will not hear a
syllable against my husband from you or any one else. I am delighted to
see you,--I cannot tell you how delighted. Oh, if papa would come,--or
mamma! Dear, dear mamma! You don't suppose but what I love you all!'

'I am sure you do.'

'But not from papa or mamma even will I hear a word against him. Would
Fanny,'--Fanny was the barrister's wife--'let her people come and say
things behind your back?'

'I hope not.'

'Then, believe that I can be as stout as Fanny. But we need not quarrel.
You will come and see baby, and have some lunch. I am afraid they will
not be here till three or four, but they will be so glad to see you if
you will wait.'

He would not wait, of course; but he allowed himself to be taken away to
see baby, and did eat his lunch. Then he brought forward the purport of
his mission. 'Your mother is most anxious to see you, Hester. You will
go and visit her?'

'Oh, yes,' said Hester, unaware of any danger. 'But I wish she would
come to me.'

'My dear girl, as things are at present that is impossible. You can
understand as much as that. There must be a trial.'

'I suppose so.'

'And till that has been held your mother would be wrong to come here. I
express no judgment against any one.'

'I should have thought mamma would have been the first to support
me,--me and baby,' she said sobbing.

'Certainly, if you were homeless--'

'But I am not. My husband gives me a house to live in, and I want none
other.'

'What I wish to explain is that if you were in want of anything--'

'I am in want of nothing--but sympathy.'

'You have it from me and from all of us. But pray, listen for a moment.
She cannot come to you till the trial be over. I am sure Mr. Caldigate
would understand that.'

'He comes to me,' she said, alluding to her father-in-law, and not
choosing to understand that her brother should have called her husband
'Mr. Caldigate.'

'But there can be no reason why you should not go to Chesterton.'

'Just to see mamma?'

'For a day or two,' he replied, blushing inwardly at his own lie. 'Could
you go to-morrow?'

'Oh no;--not to stay. Of course I must ask my husband. I'm sure he'll
let me go if I ask it, but not to-morrow. Why to-morrow?'

'Only that your mother longs to see you.' He had been specially
instigated to induce her to come as soon as possible. 'You may imagine
how anxious she is.'

'Poor mamma! Yes;--I know she suffers. I know mamma's feelings. Mamma
and I must, must, must quarrel if we talk about this. Of course I will
go to see her. But will you tell her this,--that if she cannot speak of
my husband with affection and respect it will be better that--she should
not mention him at all. I will not submit to a word even from her.'

When he took his departure it was settled that she should, with her
husband's permission, go over to Chesterton for a couple of nights in
the course of the next week; but that she could not fix the day till she
had seen him. Then, when he was taking his departure and kissing her
once again, she whispered a word to him. 'Try and be charitable,
William. I sometimes think that at Chesterton we hardly knew what
charity meant.'

That evening the proposed visit to Chesterton was discussed at Folking.
The old man had very strongly taken up his son's side, and was of
opinion that the Boltons were not only uncharitable, but perversely
ill-conditioned in the view which they took. To his thinking, Crinkett,
Adamson, and the woman were greedy, fraudulent scoundrels, who had
brought forward this charge solely with the view of extorting money. He
declared that the very fact that they had begun by asking for money
should have barred their evidence before any magistrates. The oaths of
the four 'scoundrels' were, according to him, worth nothing. The scrap
of paper purporting to be a copy of the marriage certificate, and the
clergyman's pretended letter, were mere forgeries, having about them no
evidence or probability of truth. Any one could have written them. As to
that envelope addressed to Mrs. Caldigate, with the Sydney postmark, he
had his own theory. He thought but little of the intercourse which his
son acknowledged with the woman, but was of opinion that his son 'had
been an ass' in writing those words. But a man does not marry a woman by
simply writing his own name with the word mistress prefixed to it on an
envelope. Any other woman might have adduced the envelope as evidence of
his marriage with her! It was, he said, monstrous that any one should
give credence to such bundles of lies. Therefore his words were gospel,
and his wishes were laws to Hester. She clung round him, and hovered
over him, and patted him like a very daughter, insisting that he should
nurse the baby, and talking of him to her husband as though he were
manifestly the wisest man in Cambridgeshire. She forgot even that little
flaw in his religious belief. To her thinking at the present moment, a
man who would believe that her baby was the honest son of an honest
father and mother had almost religion enough for all purposes.

'Quite right that you should go,' said the old man.

'I think so,' said the husband, 'though I am afraid they will trouble
her.'

'The only question is whether they will let her come back.'

'What!' exclaimed Hester.

'Whether they won't keep you when they've got you.'

'I won't be kept. I will come back. You don't suppose I'd let them talk
me over?'

'No, my dear; I don't think they'll be able to do that. But there are
such things as bolts and bars.'

'Impossible!' said his son.

'Do you mean that they'll send me to prison?' asked Hester.

'No; they can't do that. They wouldn't take you in at the county jail,
but they might make a prison of Puritan Grange. I don't say they will,
but they might try it.'

'I should get out, of course.'

'I daresay you would; but there might be trouble.'

'Papa would not allow that,' said Hester. 'Papa understands better than
that. I've a right to go where I like, just as anybody else;--that is,
if John tells me.' The matter was discussed at some length, but John
Caldigate was of opinion that no such attempt as the old man had
suggested was probable,--or even possible. The idea that in these days
any one should be kept a prisoner in a private house,--any one over whom
no one in that house possessed legitimate authority,--seemed to him to
be monstrous. That a husband should lock up his wife might be possible,
or a father his unmarried and dependent daughter; but that any one
should venture to lock up another man's wife was, he declared, out of
the question. Mr. Caldigate again said that he should not be surprised
if it were attempted; but acknowledged that the attempt could hardly be
successful.

As Hester was anxious to make the visit, it was arranged that she should
go. It was not that she expected much pleasure even in seeing her
mother;--but that it was expedient at such a time to maintain what
fellowship might still be possible with her own family. The trial would
of course liberate them from all their trouble; and then, when the trial
should be over, it would be very sad if an entire rupture between
herself and her parents should have been created. She would be true to
her husband; as true as a part must be to the whole, as the heart must
to the brain. They two were, and ever would be, one. But if her mother
could be spared to her, if she could be saved from a lasting quarrel
with her mother, it would be so much to her! Tears came into the eyes
even of the old man as he assented; and her husband swore to her that
for her sake he would forgive every injury from any one bearing the name
of Bolton when all this should be over.

A day was therefore fixed, and a note was written, and on the last day
of February she and her baby and her nurse were taken over to Puritan
Grange. In the meantime telegrams at a very great cost had been flying
backwards and forwards between Cambridge and Sydney. William and Robert
Bolton had determined among them that, at whatever expense to the
family, the truth must be ascertained; and to this the old banker had
assented. So far they were right, no doubt. If the daughter and sister
was not in truth a wife,--if by grossest, by most cruel ill-usage she
had been lured to a ruin for which there could be no remedy in this
world,--it would be better that the fact should be known at once, so
that her life might be pure though it could never again be bright. But
it was strange that, with all these Boltons, there was a desire, an
anxiety, to prove the man's guilt rather than his innocence. Mrs. Bolton
had always regarded him as a guilty man,--though guilty of she knew not
what. She had always predicted misery from a marriage so distasteful to
her; and her husband, though he had been brought to oppose her and to
sanction the marriage, had, from the moment in which the sanction was
given, been induced by her influence to reject it. Robert Bolton, when
the charge was first made, when the letter from the woman was first
shown to him, had become aware that he had made a mistake in allowing
this trouble to come upon the family; and then, as from point to point
the evidence had been opened out to him, he had gradually convinced
himself that the son-in-law and brother-in-law, whom he had, as it
were, forced into the family, was a bigamist. There was present to them
all an intense desire to prove the man's guilt, which was startling to
all around who heard anything of the matter. Up to this time the Bolton
telegrams and the Caldigate telegrams had elicited two facts,--that
Allan the Wesleyan minister had gone to the Fiji Islands and had there
died, and that they at Nobble who had last known Dick Shand's address,
now knew it no longer. Caldigate had himself gone to Pollington, and had
there ascertained that no tidings had been received from Dick by any of
the Shand family for the last twelve months. It had been decided that
the trial must be postponed at any rate till the summer assizes, which
would be held in Cambridge about the last week in August; and it was
thought by some that even then the case would not be ready. There was,
no doubt, an opinion prevalent in Cambridge that the unfortunate young
mother should be taken home to her own family till the matter should be
decided; and among the ladies of the town John Caldigate himself was
blamed severely for not allowing her to place herself under her father's
protection; but the ladies of the town generally were not probably well
acquainted with the disposition and temper of the young wife herself.

Things were in this condition when Hester and her baby went to her
father's house. Though that suspicion as to some intended durance which
Mr. Caldigate had expressed was not credited by her, still, as she was
driven up to the house, the idea was in her mind. She looked at the door
and she looked at the window, and she could not conceive it possible
that such a thing should be attempted. She thought of her own knowledge
of the house; how, if it were necessary, she could escape from the back
of the garden into the little field running down to the river, and how
she could cross the ferry. Of course she knew every outlet and inlet
about the place, and was sure that confinement would be impossible. But
she did not think of her bonnet nor of her boots, nor of the horror
which it would be to her should she be driven to wander forth into the
town, and to seek a conveyance back to Folking in the public streets.

She went on a Monday with an understanding that she was to remain there
till Wednesday. Mrs. Bolton almost wished that a shorter visit had been
arranged in order that she might at once commence her hostile operations
without any intermediate and hypocritical pretences. She had planned her
campaign thoroughly in her own mind, and had taken the cook into her
confidence, the cook being the oldest and most religious servant in the
house. When the day of departure should have come the cook was to lock
the doors, and the gardener was to close the little gate at the bottom
of the garden; and the bonnet and other things were to be removed, and
then the mother would declare her purpose. But in the meantime allusions
to that intended return to Folking must be accepted, and listened to
with false assent. It was very grievous, but so it was arranged. As soon
as Hester was in the house the mother felt how much better it would have
been to declare to her daughter at once that she was a prisoner;--but it
was then too late to alter their proposed plans.

It very nearly came to pass that Hester left her mother on the morning
of her arrival. They had both determined to be cautious, reticent, and
forbearing but the difference between them was so vital that reticence
was impossible. At first there was a profusion of natural tears, and a
profusion of embraces Each clung to the other for a while as though some
feeling might be satisfied by mere contact; and then the woe of the
thing, the woe of it, was acknowledged on both sides! They could agree
that the wickedness of the wicked was very wicked. Wherever might lie
the sin of fraud and falsehood, the unmerited misfortunes of poor
Hester were palpable enough. They could weep together over the wrongs
inflicted on that darling baby. But by degrees it was impossible to
abstain from alluding to the cause of their sorrow;--and such allusion
became absolutely necessary when an attempt was made to persuade Hester
to remain at her old home with her own consent. This was done by her
father on the evening of her arrival, in compliance with the plan that
had been arranged. 'No, papa, no; I cannot do that,' she said, with a
tone of angry determination.

'It is your duty, Hester. All your friends will tell you so.'

'My duty is to my husband,' she said, 'and in such a matter I can allow
myself to listen to no other friend.' She was so firm and fixed in this
that he did not even dare to go on with his expostulation.

But afterwards, when they were upstairs together, Mrs. Bolton spoke out
more at length and with more energy. 'Mamma, it is of no use,' said
Hester.

'It ought to be of use. Do you know the position in which you are?'

'Very well. I am my husband's wife.'

'If it be so, well. But if it be not so, and if you remain with him
while there is a doubt upon the matter, then you are his mistress.'

'If I am not his wife, then I will be his mistress,' said Hester,
standing up and looking as she spoke much as her mother would look in
her most determined moments.

'My child!'

'What is the use of all this, mamma? Nothing shall make me leave him.
Others may be ashamed of me; but because of this I shall never be
ashamed of myself. You are ashamed of me!'

'If you could mean what you said just now I should be ashamed of you.'

'I do mean it. Though the juries and the judges should say that he was
not my husband, though all the judges in England should say it, I would
not believe them. They may put him in prison and so divide us; but they
never shall divide my bone from his bone, and my flesh from his flesh.
As you are ashamed of me, I had better go back to-morrow.'

Then Mrs. Bolton determined that early in the morning she would look to
the bolts and bars; but when the morning came matters had softened
themselves a little.



Chapter XXXII

The Babington Wedding



It is your duty,--especially your duty,--to separate them.' This was
said by Mr. Smirkie, the vicar of Plum-cum-Pippin, to Mr. Bromley, the
rector of Utterden, and the words were spoken in the park at Babington
where the two clergymen were taking a walk together. Mr. Smirkie's
first wife had been a Miss Bromley, a sister of the clergyman at
Utterden; and as Julia Babington was anxious to take to her bosom all
her future husband's past belongings, Mr. Bromley had been invited to
Babington. It might be that Aunt Polly was at this time well inclined
to exercise her hospitality in this direction by a feeling that Mr.
Bromley would be able to talk to them about this terrible affair. Mr.
Bromley was intimate with John Caldigate, and of course would know all
about it. There was naturally in Aunt Polly's heart a certain amount of
self-congratulation at the way in which things were going. Mr. Smirkie,
no doubt, had had a former wife, but no one would call him a bigamist.
In what a condition might her poor Julia have been but for that
interposition of Providence! For Aunt Polly regarded poor Hester Bolton
as having been quite a providential incident, furnished expressly for
the salvation of Julia. Hitherto Mr. Bromley had been very short in
his expressions respecting the Folking tragedy, having simply declared
that, judging by character, he could not conceive that a man such as
Caldigate would have been guilty of such a crime. But now he was being
put through his facings more closely by his brother-in-law.

'Why should I want to separate them?'

'Because the evidence of his guilt is so strong.'

'That is for a jury to judge.'

'Yes; and if a jury should decide that there had been no Australian
marriage,--which I fear we can hardly hope;--but if a jury were to
decide that, then of course she could go back to him. But while there is
a doubt, I should have thought, Tom, you certainly would have seen it,
even though you never have had a wife of your own.'

'I think I see all that there is to see,' said the other. 'If the poor
lady has been deceived and betrayed, no punishment can be too heavy for
the man who has so injured her. But the very enormity of the iniquity
makes me doubt it. As far as I can judge, Caldigate is a high-spirited,
honest gentleman, to whom the perpetration of so great a sin would
hardly suggest itself.'

'But if,--but if--! Think of her condition, Tom!'

'You would have to think of your own, if you were to attempt to tell her
to leave him.'

'That means that you are afraid of her.'

'It certainly means that I should be very much afraid if I thought of
taking such a liberty. If I believed it to be my duty, I hope that I
would do it.'

'You are her clergyman.'

'Certainly. I christened her child. I preach to her twice every Sunday.
And if she were to die I should bury her.'

'Is that all?'

'Pretty nearly;--except that I generally dine at the house once a week.'

'Is there nothing further confided to you than that?'

'If she were to come to me for advice, then it would be my duty to give
her what advice I thought to be best; and then--'

'Well, then?'

'Then I should have to make up my mind,--which I have not done at
present,--I should have to make up my mind, not as to his guilt, for I
believe him to be innocent, but as to the expediency of a separation
till a jury should have acquitted him. But I am well aware that she
won't come to me; and from little words which constantly drop from her,
I am quite sure that nothing would induce her to leave her husband but a
direct command from himself.'

'You might do it through him.'

'I am equally sure that nothing would induce him to send her away.'

But such a conviction as this was not sufficient for Mr. Smirkie. He was
alive to the fact,--uncomfortably alive to the fact,--that the ordinary
life of gentle-folk in England does not admit of direct clerical
interference. As a country clergyman, he could bestow his admonitions
upon his poorer neighbours; but upon those who were well-to-do he could
not intrude himself unasked, unless, as he thought, in cases of great
emergency. Here was a case of very great emergency. He was sure that he
would have courage for the occasion if Folking were within the bounds of
Plum-cum-Pippin. It was just the case in which counsel should be
volunteered;--in which so much could be said which would be gross
impertinence from others though it might be so manifest a duty to a
clergyman! But Mr. Bromley could not be aroused to a sense either of his
duty or of his privileges. All this was sad to Mr. Smirkie, who
regretted those past days in which, as he believed, the delinquent soul
had been as manifestly subject to ecclesiastical interference as the
delinquent body has always been to the civil law.

But with Julia, who was to be his wife, he could be more imperative.
She was taught to give thanks before the throne of grace because she had
been spared the ignominy of being married to a man who could not have
made her his wife, and had had an unstained clergyman of the Church of
England given to her for her protection. For with that candour which is
so delightful, and so common in these days, everything had been told to
Mr. Smirkie,--how her young heart had for a time turned itself towards
her cousin, how she had been deceived, and then how rejoiced she was
that by such deceit she had been reserved for her present more glorious
fate. 'And won't Mr. Bromley speak to her?' Julia asked.

'It is a very difficult question,--a very difficult question, indeed,'
said Mr. Smirkie, shaking his head. He was quite sure that were Folking
in his parish he would perform the duty, though Mr. Caldigate and the
unfortunate lady might be as a lion and a lioness in opposition to him;
but he was also of opinion that sacerdotal differences of opinion should
not be discussed among laymen,--should not be discussed by a clergyman
even with the wife of his bosom.

At Babington opinion was somewhat divided. Aunt Polly and Julia were of
course certain that John Caldigate had married the woman in Australia.
But the two other girls and their father were not at all so sure.
Indeed, there had been a little misunderstanding among the Babingtons
on the subject, which was perhaps strengthened by the fact that Mr.
Smirkie had more endeared himself to Julia's mother than to Julia's
father or sisters, and that Mr. Smirkie himself was very clear as to
the criminality of the bigamist. 'I suppose you are often there,' Mr.
Babington said to his guest, the parson of Utterden.

'Yes; I have seen a good deal of them.'

'Do you think it possible?'

'Not probable,' said the clergyman.

'I don't,' said the Squire. 'I suppose he was a little wild out there,
but that is a very different thing from bigamy. Young men, when they
get out to those places, are not quite so particular as they ought to
be, I daresay. When I was young, perhaps I was not as steady as I ought
to have been. But, by George! here is a man comes over and asks for a
lot of money; and then the woman asks for money; and then they say that
if they don't get it, they'll swear the fellow was married in
Australia. I can't fancy that any jury will believe that.'

'I hope not.'

'And yet, Madame,'--the Squire was in the habit of calling his wife
Madame when he intended to insinuate anything against her,--'has got it
settled in her head that this young woman isn't his wife at all. I think
it's uncommon hard. A man ought to be considered innocent till he has
been found guilty. I shall go over and see him one of these days, and
say a kind word to her.'

There was at that moment some little difference of opinion, which was
coming to a head in reference to a very delicate matter. When the
conversations above related took place, the Babington wedding had been
fixed to take place in a week's time. Should cousin John be invited, or
should he not? Julia was decidedly against it. 'She did not think,' she
said, 'that she could stand up at the altar and conduct herself on an
occasion so trying if she were aware that he were standing by her.' Mr.
Smirkie, of course, was not asked,--was not directly asked. But equally,
of course, he was able to convey his own opinion through his future
bride. Aunt Polly thought that the county would be shocked if a man
charged with bigamy was allowed to be present at the marriage. But the
Squire was a man who could have an opinion of his own; and after having
elicited that of Mr. Bromley, insisted that the invitation should be
sent.

'It will be a pollution,' said Julia, sternly, to her younger sisters.

'You will be a married woman almost before you have seen him,' said
Georgiana, the second, 'and so it won't matter so much to you. We must
get over it as we can.'

Julia had been thought by her sisters not to bear the Smirkie triumph
with sufficient humility; and they, therefore, were sometimes a little
harsh to her. 'I don't think you understand it at all,' said Julia. 'You
have no conception what should be the feelings of a married woman,
especially when she is going to become the wife of one of God's
ministers.'

But in spite of all this, Aunt Polly wrote to her nephew as follows:--


    'Dear John,--Our dearest Julia is to be married on Tuesday next. You
    know how anxious we all have been to maintain affectionate family
    relations with you, and we therefore do not like the idea of our
    sweet child passing from her present sphere to other duties without
    your presence. Will you come over on Monday evening, and stay till
    after the breakfast? It is astonishing how many of our friends from
    the two counties have expressed their wish to grace the ceremony by
    their company. I doubt whether there is a clergyman in the diocese
    of Ely more respected and thought of by all the upper classes than
    Augustus Smirkie.

    'I do not ask Mrs. Caldigate, because, under present circumstances,
    she would not perhaps wish to go into company, and because Augustus
    has never yet had an opportunity of making her acquaintance. I will
    only say that it is the anxious wish of us all here that you and she
    together may soon see the end of these terrible troubles.--Believe
    me to be, your affectionate aunt,

    'Maryanne Babington.'


The writing of this letter had not been effected without much
difficulty. The Squire himself was not good at the writing of letters,
and, though he did insist on seeing this epistle, so that he might be
satisfied that Caldigate had been asked in good faith, he did not know
how to propose alterations. 'That's all my eye,' he said, referring to
his son-in-law that was to be. 'He's as good as another, but I don't
know that he's any better.'

'That, my dear,' said Aunt Polly, 'is because you do not interest
yourself about such matters. If you had heard what the Archdeacon said
of him the other day, you would think differently.'

'He's another parson,' said the Squire. 'Of course they butter each
other up.' Then he went on to the other paragraph. 'I wouldn't have said
anything about his wife.'

'That would not have been civil,' said Aunt Polly; 'and as you insist on
my asking him, I do not wish to be rude.' And so the letter was sent as
it was written.

It reached Caldigate on the day which Hester was passing with her mother
at Chesterton,--on the Tuesday. She had left Folking on the Monday,
intending to return on the Wednesday. Caldigate was therefore alone with
his father. 'They might as well have left that undone,' said he,
throwing the letter over the table.

'It's about the silliest letter I ever read,' said the old Squire; 'but
it is intended for civility. She means to show that she does not condemn
you. There are many people who do not know when to speak and when to be
silent. I shouldn't go.'

'No, I shan't go.'

'But I should take it as meant in kindness.'

Then John Caldigate wrote back as follows:--'All this that has befallen
my wife and me prevents us from going anywhere. She is at the present
moment with her own people at Chesterton, but when she returns I shall
not leave her. Give my kindest love to Julia, and ask her from me to
accept the little present which I send her.'

Julia declared that she would much rather not have accepted the brooch,
and that she would never wear it. But animosity against such articles
wears itself out quickly, and it may be expected that the little
ornament will be seen in the houses of the Suffolk gentry among whom Mr.
Smirkie is so popular.

Whether it was Mr. Smirkie's popularity, or the general estimation in
which the Babington family were held, or the delight which is taken by
the world at large in weddings, there was a very great gathering at
Babington church, and in the Squire's house afterwards. Though it was
early in March,--a time of the year which, in the eastern counties of
England, is not altogether propitious to out-of-doors festivity,--though
the roads were muddy, and the park sloppy, and the church abominably
open to draughts, still there was a crowd. The young ladies in that part
of the world had been slow in marrying lately, and it was felt that the
present occasion might give a little fillip to the neighbourhood. This
was the second Suffolk young lady that Mr. Smirkie had married, and he
was therefore entitled to popularity. He certainly had done as much as
he could, and there was probably no one around who had done more.

'I think the dear child will be happy,' said Mrs. Babington to her old
friend, Mrs. Munday,--the wife of Archdeacon Munday, the clerical
dignitary who had given Mr. Smirkie so good a character.

'Of course she will,' said Mrs. Munday, who had already given three
daughters in marriage to three clergymen, and who had, as it were,
become used to the transfer.

'And that she will do her duty in it.'

'Why not? There's nothing difficult in it if she only sees that he has
his surplice and bands properly got up. He is not, on the whole, a
bad-tempered man; and though the children are rough, they'll grow out of
that. And she ought to make him take two, or perhaps three, glasses of
port wine on Sundays. Mr. Smirkie is not as young as he used to be, and
two whole duties, with the Sunday school, which must be looked into, do
take a good deal out of a man. The archdeacon, of course, has a curate;
but I suppose Mr. Smirkie could hardly manage that just at present?'

The views which had hitherto been taken at Babington of the bride's
future life had been somewhat loftier than this. The bands and the
surplice and the port wine seemed to be small after all that had been
said. The mother felt that she was in some degree rebuked,--not having
yet learned that nothing will so much lessen the enthusiasm one may feel
for the work of a barrister, or a member of Parliament, or a clergyman,
as a little domestic conversation with the wife of the one or the other.
But Mrs. Munday was a lady possessing much clerical authority, and that
which she said had to be endured with equanimity.

Mr. Smirkie seemed to enjoy the occasion, and held his own through the
day with much dignity, The archdeacon, and the clergyman of the parish,
and Mr. Bromley, all assisted, and nothing was wanting of outward
ceremony which a small country church could supply. When his health was
drunk at the breakfast he preached quite a little sermon as he returned
thanks, holding his bride's hands in his the while, performing his part
in the scene in a manner which no one else would have dared to attempt.

Then there was the parting between the mother and daughter, upstairs,
before she was taken away for her ten days' wedding-tour to Brighton.
'My darling;--it is not so far but that I can come and see you very
often.'

'Pray do, mamma.'

'And I think I can help you with the children.'

'I am not a bit afraid of them, mamma. I intend to have my way with
them, and that will be everything. I don't mean to be weak. Of course
Augustus will do what he thinks best in the parish, but he quite
understands that I am to be mistress at home. As for Mrs. Munday, mamma,
I don't suppose that she knows everything. I believe I can manage quite
as well as Mrs. Munday.'

Then there was a parting joint congratulation that she had not yielded
to the allurements of her cousin, John Caldigate. 'Oh, no, mamma; that
would never have done.'

'Think where you might have been now!'

'I am sure I should have found out his character in time and have broken
from him, let it have cost what it might. A man that can do such things
as that is to me quite horrible. What is to become of her, and her
baby;--and, perhaps, two,' she added in a whisper, holding up her hands
and shaking her head. The ceremony through which she had just passed had
given her courage to hint at such a possibility. 'I suppose she'll have
to be called Miss Bolton again.' Of course there was some well-founded
triumph in the bosom of the undoubted Mrs. Augustus Smirkie as she
remembered what her own fate might have been. Then she was carried away
in the family carriage amidst a deluge of rice and a shower of old
shoes.

That same night Mr. Bromley gave an account of the wedding to John
Caldigate at Folking, telling him how well all the personages had
performed their parts. 'Poor Julia! she at any rate will be safe.'

'Safe enough, I should think,' said the clergyman.

'What I mean is that she has no dangers to fear such as my poor wife has
encountered. Whomever I think of now I cannot but compare them to
ourselves. No woman surely was ever so ill-used as she, and no man ever
so unfortunate as myself.'

'It will be all over in August.'

'And where shall I be? My own lawyer tells me that it is too probable
that I shall be in prison. And where will she be then?'



Chapter XXXIII

Persuasion



Early on the Tuesday morning Hester came down into the breakfast parlour
at Puritan Grange, having with difficulty persuaded herself that she
would stay the appointed hours in her mother's house. On the previous
evening her mother had, she thought, been very hard on her, and she had
determined to go. She would not stay even with her mother, if her mother
insisted upon telling her that she was not her husband's wife. But
during the night she was able to persuade herself to bear what had been
already said,--to let it be as though it had been forgotten. Her mother
was her mother. But she would bear no more. As to herself and her own
conduct her parents might say what they pleased to her. But of her
husband she would endure to hear no evil word spoken. In this spirit she
came down into the little parlour.

Mrs. Bolton was also up,--had been up and about for some time previous.
She was a woman who never gave way to temptations of ease. A nasty dark
morning at six o'clock, with just light enough to enable her to dress
without a candle, with no fire and no hot water, with her husband
snoring while she went through her operations, was to her thinking the
proper condition of things for this world. Not to be cold, not to be
uncomfortable, not to strike her toes against the furniture because she
could not quite see what she was about, would to her have been to be
wicked. When her daughter came into the parlour, she had been about the
house for more than an hour, and had had a conference both with the cook
and with the gardener. The cook was of opinion that not a word should be
said, or an unusual bolt drawn, or a thing removed till the Wednesday.
'She can't carry down her big box herself, ma'am; and the likes of Miss
Hester would never think of going without her things;--and then there's
the baby.' A look of agony came across the mother's face as she heard
her daughter called Miss Hester;--but in truth the woman had used the
name from old association, and not with any reference to her late young
mistress's present position. 'I should just tell her flat on Wednesday
morning that she wasn't to stir out of this, but I wouldn't say nothing
at all about any of it till then.' The gardener winked and nodded his
head, and promised to put a stake into the ground behind the little
wicket-gate which would make the opening of it impossible. 'But take my
word for it, ma'am, she'll never try that. She'll be a deal too proud.
She'll rampage at the front door, and 'll despise any escaping like.'
That was the gardener's idea, and the gardener had long known the young
lady. By these arguments Mrs. Bolton was induced to postpone her prison
arrangements till the morrow.

When she found her daughter in the small parlour she had settled much in
her mind. During the early morning,--that is, till Mr. Bolton should
have gone into Cambridge,--not a word should be said about the marriage.
Then when they two would be alone together, another attempt should be
made to persuade Hester to come and live at Chesterton till after the
trial. But even in making that attempt no opinion should be expressed as
to John Caldigate's wickedness, and no hint should be given as to the
coming incarceration. 'Did you bring baby down with you?' the
grandmother asked. No; baby had been awake ever so long, and then had
gone to sleep again, and the nurse was now with him to protect him from
the sufferings incident to waking. 'Your papa will be down soon, and
then we will have breakfast,' said Mrs. Bolton. After that there was
silence between them for some time.

A bond of discord, if the phrase may be allowed, is often quite as
strong as any bond coming from concord and agreement. There was to both
these women a subject of such paramount importance to each that none
other could furnish matter of natural conversation. The one was saying
to herself ever and always, 'He is my husband. Let the outside world say
what it may, he is my husband.' But the other was as constantly denying
to herself this assertion and saying, 'He is not her husband. Certainly
he is not her husband.' And as to the one the possession of that which
she claimed was all the world, and as to the other the idea of the
possession without true possession entailed upon her child pollution,
crime, and ignominy, it was impossible but that the mind of each should
be too full to admit of aught but forced expressions on other matters.
It was in vain for them to attempt to talk of the garden, the house, the
church, or of the old man's health. It was in vain even to attempt to
talk of the baby. There are people who, however full their hearts may
be, full of anger or full of joy, can keep the fulness in abeyance till
a chosen time for exhibiting it shall come. But neither of these two was
such a person. Every stiff plait in the elder woman's muslin and crape
declared her conviction that John Caldigate was not legally married to
her daughter. Every glance of Hester's eye, every motion made with her
hands, every little shake of her head, declared her purpose of fighting
for that one fact, whatever might be the odds against her.

When the banker came down to breakfast things were better for a little
time. The pouring out of his tea mitigated somewhat the starchiness of
his wife's severity, and Hester when cutting the loaf for him could seem
to take an interest in performing an old duty. He said not a word
against Caldigate; and when he went out, Hester, as had been her custom,
accompanied him to the gate. 'Of course you will be here when I come,'
he said.

'Oh yes; I do not go home till to-morrow.' Then she parted from him,
and spent the next hour or two up-stairs with her baby.

'May I come in?' said the mother, knocking at the door.

'Oh yes, mamma. Don't you think baby is very like his father?'

'I dare say. I do not know that I am good at tracing likenesses. He
certainly is like you.'

'So much more like his father!' said Hester.

After that there was a pause, and then the mother commenced her task in
her most serious voice. 'Hester, my child, you can understand that a
duty may become so imperious that it must be performed.'

'Yes,' said Hester, pressing her lips close together 'I can understand
that.' There might be a duty very necessary for her to perform, though
in the performance of it she should be driven to quarrel absolutely with
her own mother.

'So it is with me. Whom do you think I love best in all the world?'

'Papa.'

'I do love your father dearly, and I endeavour, by God's grace, to do my
duty by him, though, I fear, it is done imperfectly. But, my child, our
hearts, I think, yearn more to those who are younger than ourselves than
to our elders. We love best those whom we have cherished and protected,
and whom we may perhaps still cherish and protect. When I try to tear my
heart away from the things of this vile world, it clings to you--to
you--to you!'

Of course this could not be borne without an embrace 'Oh, mamma!' Hester
exclaimed, throwing herself on her knees before her mother's lap.

'If you suffer, must not I suffer? If you rejoice, would I not fain
rejoice with you if I could? Did I not bring you into the world, my only
one, and nursed you, and prayed for you, and watched you with all a
mother's care as you grew up among the troubles of the world? Have you
not known that my heart has been too soft towards you even for the due
performance of my duties?'

'You have always been good to me, mamma.'

'And am I altered now? Do you think that a mother's heart can be changed
to her only child?'

'No, mamma.'

'No, Hester. That, I think, is impossible. Though for the last twelve
months I have not seen you day by day,--though I have not prepared the
food which you eat and the clothes which you wear, as I used to do,--you
have been as constantly in my mind. You are still my child, my only
child.'

'Mamma, I know you love me.'

'I so love you as to know that I sin in so loving aught that is human.
And so loving you, must I not do my duty by you? When love and duty both
compel me to speak, how shall I be silent?'

'You have said it, mamma,' said Hester, slowly drawing herself up from
off the ground.

'And is saying it once enough, when, as I think, the very soul, the
immortal soul, of her who is of all the dearest to me depends on what I
may say;--may be saved, or, oh, perhaps lost for ever by the manner in
which I may say it! How am I not to speak when such thoughts as these
are heavy within me?'

'What is it you would say?' This Hester asked with a low hoarse voice
and a stern look, as though she could not resist her mother's prayer for
the privilege of speaking; but at the same time was resolutely prepared
not to be turned a hair's-breadth by anything that might be said.

'Not a word about him.'

'No, mamma; no. Unless you can tell me that you will love him as your
son-in-law.'

'Not a word about him,' she repeated, in a harsher voice. She felt that
that promise should have been enough, and that in the present
circumstances she should not have been invited to love the man she
hated. 'Your father and I wish you for the next few months to come and
live with us.'

'It is quite impossible,' said Hester, standing very upright, with a
face altogether unlike that she had worn when kneeling at her mother's
knees.

'You should listen to me.'

'Yes, I will listen.'

'There will be a trial.'

'Undoubtedly. John, at least, seems to think so. It is possible that
these wicked people may give it up, or that they may have no money to go
on; but I suppose there will be a trial.'

'The woman has bound herself to prosecute him.'

'Because she wants to get money. But we need not discuss that, mamma.
John thinks that there will be a trial.'

'Till that is over, will you not be better away from him? How will it be
with you if it should be decided that he is not your husband?' Here
Hester of course prepared herself for interruption, but her mother
prayed for permission to continue.

'Listen to me for one moment, Hester.'

'Very well, mamma. Go on.'

'How would it be with you in that case? You must be separated then. As
that is possible, is it not right that you should obey the ordinances of
God and man, and keep yourself apart till they who are in authority
shall have spoken?'

'There are no such ordinances.'

'There are indeed. If you were to ask all your friends, all the married
women in Cambridgeshire, what would they say? Would they not all tell
you that no woman should live with a man while there is a shadow of
doubt? And as to the law of God, you know God's law, and can only defend
yourself by your own certainty as to a matter respecting which all
others are uncertain. You think yourself certain because such certainty
is a way to yourself out of your present misery.'

'It is for my child,' she shouted; 'and for him.'

'As for your babe, your darling babe, whether he be yours in joy of
heart or in agony of spirit, he is still yours. No one will rob you of
him. If it be as we fear, would not I help you to love him, help you to
care for him, help you to pray for him? If it were so, would I desert
him or you because in your innocence you had been betrayed into
misfortune? Do I not feel for your child? But when he grows up and is a
man, and will have learned the facts of his early years, let him be
able to tell himself that his mother though unfortunate was pure.'

'I am pure,' she said.

'My child, my own one, can I, your mother, think aught else of you? Do
I not know your heart? Do not I know the very thoughts within you?'

'I am pure. He has become my husband, and nothing can divide us. I
never gave a thought to another man. I never had the faintest liking,
as do other girls. When he came and told me that he had seen me and
loved me, and would take me for his wife, I felt at once that I was all
his,--his to do as he liked with me, his to nourish him, his to worship
him, his to obey him, his to love him let father or mother or all the
world say what they would to the contrary. Then we were married. Till
he was my own, I never even pressed my lips upon his. But I became his
wife by a bond that nothing shall break. You tell me of God's law. By
God's law I am his wife, let the people say what they will. I have but
two to think of.'

'Yourself and him?' asked her mother.

'I have three to think of,--God, and him, and my child; and may God be
good to me and them, as in this matter I will put myself away from
myself altogether. It is for me to obey him, and I will submit myself
to none other. If he bids me go, I will go; if he bids me stay here, I
will stay. I have become his so entirely, that no judges--no judges can
divide us. Judges! I know but one Judge, and He is there; and He has
said that those whom He has joined together, man shall not put asunder.
Pure! pure! No one should praise herself, but as a woman I do know that
I am pure.'

Then the mother's heart yearned greatly towards her daughter; and yet
she was no whit changed. She knew nothing of phrases of logic, but she
felt that Hester had begged the whole question. Those whom God had
joined together! True, true! If only one could know whether in this or
the other case God had joined the couple. As Hester argued the matter,
no woman should be taken from the man she had married, though he might
have a dozen other wives all living. And she spoke of purity as though
it were a virtue which could be created and consecrated simply by the
action of her own heart, as though nothing outside,--no ceremony, no
ordinance,--could affect it. The same argument would enable her to live
with John Caldigate after he should come out of prison, even though, as
would then be the case, another woman would have the legal right of
calling herself Mrs. John Caldigate! On the previous day she had
declared that if she could not be his wife, she would be his mistress.
The mother knew what she meant,--that, let people call her by what name
they might, she would still be her husband's wife in the eye of God.
But she would not be so. And then she would not be pure. And, to Mrs.
Bolton, the worst of it was that this cloudiness had come upon her
daughter,--this incapacity to reason it out,--because the love of a
human being had become so strong within her bosom as to have superseded
and choked the love of heavenly things. But how should she explain all
this? 'I am not asking you to drop his name.'

'Drop his name! I will never drop it. I cannot drop it. It is mine. I
could not make myself anything but Mrs. John Caldigate if I would. And
he,' she said, taking the baby up from its cradle and pressing it to
her bosom, 'he shall be Daniel Caldigate to the day of his death. Do
you think that I will take a step that shall look like robbing my child
of his honest name,--that will seem to imply a doubt that he is not his
own father's honest boy,--that he is not a fitting heir to the property
which his forefathers have owned so long? Never! They may call me what
name they will, but I will call myself John Caldigate's wife as long as
I have a voice to make myself heard.'

It was the same protest over and over again, and it was vain to answer.
'You will not stay under your father's roof?'

'No; I have to live under my husband's roof.' Then Mrs. Bolton left the
room, apparently in anger. Though her heart within might be melting
with ruth, still it was necessary that she should assume a look of
anger. On the morrow she would have to show herself angry with a
vengeance, if she should then still be determined to carry out her
plan. And she thought that she was determined. What had pity to do with
it, or love, or moving heart-stirring words? Were not all these things
temptation from the Evil One, if they were allowed to interfere with
the strict line of hard duty? When she left the room, where the young
mother was still standing with her baby in her arms, she doubted for
some minutes,--perhaps for some half-hour,--then she wrestled with
those emanations from the Evil One,--with pity, with love, and suasive
tenderness,--and at last overcame them. 'I know I am pure,' the
daughter had said. 'I know I am right,' said the mother.

But she spoke a word to her husband when he came home. 'I cannot bend
her; I cannot turn her, in the least.'

'She will not stay?'

'Not of her own accord.'

'You have told her?'

'Oh no; not till to-morrow.'

'She ought to stay, certainly,' said the father. There had been very
little intercourse between the mother and daughter during the
afternoon, and while the three were sitting together, nothing was said
about the morrow. The evening would have seemed to be very sad and very
silent, had they not all three been used to so many silent evenings in
that room. Hester, during her wedding tour and the few weeks of her
happiness at Folking, before the trouble had come, had felt a new life
and almost an ecstasy of joy in the thorough liveliness of her husband.
But the days of her old home were not so long ago that its old manners
should seem strange to her. She therefore sat out the hours patiently,
stitching some baby's ornament, till her mother told her that the time
for prayer had come. After worship her father called her out into the
hall as he went up to his room. 'Hester,' he said, 'it is not right
that you should leave us to-morrow.'

'I must, papa.'

'I tell you that it is not right. You have a home in which everybody
will respect you. For the present you should remain here.'

'I cannot, papa. He told me to go back to-morrow. I would not disobey
him now,--not now,--were it ever so.' Then the old man paused as though
he were going on with the argument, but finding that he had said all
that he had to say, he slowly made his way upstairs.

'Good-night, mamma,' said Hester, returning only to the door of the
sitting-room.

'Good-night, my love.' As the words were spoken they both felt that
there was something wrong,--much that was wrong. 'I do not think they
will do that,' said Hester to herself, as she went up the stairs to her
chamber.



Chapter XXXIV

Violence



It had been arranged at Folking, before Hester had started, that
Caldigate himself should drive the waggonette into Cambridge to take her
back on the Wednesday, but that he would bring a servant with him who
should drive the carriage up to the Grange, so that he, personally,
should not have to appear at the door of the house. He would remain at
Mr. Seely's, and then the waggonette should pick him up. This had been
explained to Mrs. Bolton. 'John will remain in town, because he has so
much to do with Mr. Seely,' Hester had said; 'and Richard will call here
at about twelve.' All her plans had thus been made known, and Mrs.
Bolton was aware at what hour the bolts must be drawn and the things
removed.

But, as the time drew nearer, her dislike to a sudden commencement of
absolute hostilities became stronger,--to hostilities which would seem
to have no sanction from Mr. Bolton himself, because he would then be
absent. And he too, though as he lay awake through the dreary hours of
the long night he said no word about the plan, felt, and felt more
strongly as the dawn was breaking, that it would be mean to leave his
daughter with a farewell kiss, knowing as he would do that he was
leaving her within prison-bars, leaving her to the charge of jailers.
The farewell kiss would be given as though he and she were to meet no
more in her old home till this terrible trial should be over, and some
word appropriate to such a parting would then be spoken. But any such
parting word would be false, and the falsehood would be against his own
child! 'Does she expect it?' he said, in a low voice, when his wife came
up to him as he was dressing.

'She expects nothing. I am thinking that perhaps you would tell her
that she could not go to-day.'

'I could not say "to-day." If I tell her anything, I must tell her all.'

'Will not that be best?' Then the old man thought it all over. It would
be very much the best for him not to say anything about it if he could
reconcile it to his conscience to leave the house without doing so. And
he knew well that his wife was more powerful than he,--gifted with
greater persistence, more capable of enduring a shower of tears or a
storm of anger. The success of the plan would be more probable if the
conduct of it were left entirely to his wife, but his conscience was
sore within him.

'You will come with me to the gate,' he said to his daughter, after
their silent breakfast.

'Oh yes;--to say good-bye.'

Then he took his hat, and his gloves, and his umbrella, very slowly,
lingering in the hall as he did so, while his wife kept her seat firm
and square at the breakfast table. Hester had her hat and shawl with
her; but Mrs. Bolton did not suspect that she would endeavour to escape
now without returning for her child. Therefore she sat firm and square,
waiting to hear from Hester herself what her father might bring himself
to communicate to her. 'Hester,' he said, as he slowly walked round the
sweep in front of the house, 'Hester,' he said, 'you would do your duty
best to God and man,--best to John Caldigate and to your child,--by
remaining here.'

'How can I unless he tells me?'

'You have your father's authority.'

'You surrendered it when you gave me to him as his wife. It is not that
I would rebel against you, papa, but that I must obey him. Does not St.
Paul say, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the
Lord"?'

'Certainly; and you cannot suppose that in any ordinary case I would
interfere between you and him. It is not that I am anxious to take
anything from him that belongs to him.' Then, as they were approaching
the gate, he stood still. 'But now, in such an emergency as this, when a
question has risen as to his power of making you his wife----'

'I will not hear of that. I am his wife.'

'Then it may become my duty and your mother's to--to--to provide you
with a home till the law shall have decided.'

'I cannot leave his home unless he bids me.'

'I am telling you of my duty--of my duty and your mother's.' Then he
passed out through the gate, thus having saved his conscience from the
shame of a false farewell; and she slowly made her way back to the
house, after standing for a moment to look after him as he went. She was
almost sure now that something was intended. He would not have spoken in
that way of his duty unless he had meant her to suppose that he intended
to perform it. 'My duty,' he had said, 'my duty and your mother's!' Of
course something was intended, something was to be done or said more
than had been done or said already. During the breakfast she had seen in
the curves of her mother's mouth the signs of some resolute purpose.
During the very prayers she had heard in her mother's voice a sound as
of a settled determination She knew,--she knew that something was to be
done, and with that knowledge she went back into her mother's room, and
sat herself down firmly and squarely at the table. She had left her cup
partly full, and began again to drink her tea. 'What did your papa say
to you?' asked her mother.

'Papa bade me stay here, but I told him that most certainly I should go
home to Folking.' Then Mrs. Bolton also became aware of fixed will and
resolute purpose on her daughter's part.

'Does his word go for nothing?'

'How can two persons' words go for anything when obedience is
concerned? It is like God and Mammon.'

'Hester!'

'If two people tell one differently, it must be right to cling to one
and leave the other. No man can serve two masters. I have got to obey my
husband. Even were I to say that I would stay, he could come and take me
away.'

'He could not do that.'

'I shall not be so disobedient as to make it necessary The carriage will
be here at twelve, and I shall go. I had better go and help nurse to put
the things up.' So saying she left the room, but Mrs. Bolton remained
there a while, sitting square and firm at the table.

It was not yet ten when she slowly followed her daughter up-stairs. She
first went into her own room for a moment, to collect her thoughts over
again, and then she walked across the passage to her daughter's chamber.
She knocked at the door, but entered as she knocked. 'Nurse,' she said,
'will you go into my room for a minute or two? I wish to speak to your
mistress. May she take the baby, Hester?' The baby was taken, and then
the two were alone. 'Do not pack up your things to-day, Hester.'

'Why not?'

'You are not going to-day.'

'I am going to-day, mamma.'

'That I should seem to be cruel to you,--only seem,--cuts me to the
heart. But you cannot go back to Folking to-day.'

'When am I to go?'

'Ah, Hester!'

'Tell me what you mean, mamma. Is it that I am to be a prisoner?'

'If you would be gentle I would explain it.'

'I will not be gentle. You mean to keep me,--by violence; but I mean to
go; my husband will come. I will not be kept. Oh, mamma, you would not
desire me to quarrel with you openly, before the servants, before all
the world! I will not be kept. I will certainly go back to Folking.
Would I not go back though I had to get through the windows, to walk the
whole way, to call upon the policemen even to help me?'

'No one will help you, Hester. Every one will know that for the present
this should be your home.'

'It never shall be my home again,' said Hester, bursting into tears, and
rushing after her baby.

Then there were two hours of intense misery in that house,--of misery to
all who were concerned. The servants, down to the girl in the scullery
and the boy who cleaned the boots, were made aware that master and
mistress were both determined to keep their married daughter a prisoner
in the house. The servants of the house sided with their mistress
generally, having all of them been induced to regard John Caldigate with
horror. Hester's nurse, of course, sympathised with her and her baby.
During these two hours the packing was completed, but Hester found that
her strong walking-boots and her bonnet had been abstracted. Did they
really think that at such a time as this boots and bonnets would be
anything to her? They could know nothing of her nature. They could not
understand the sort of combat she would carry on if an attempt were made
to take from her her liberty,--an attempt made by those who had by law
no right to control her! When once she had learned what was being done
she would not condescend to leave her room till the carriage should have
come. That that would come punctually at twelve she was sure. Then she
would go down without her bonnet and without her boots, and see whether
any one would dare to stand in her way, as with her baby in her arms she
would attempt to walk forth through the front door.

But it had not occurred to her that other steps might be taken. Just
before twelve the gardener stationed himself on the road before the
house,--a road which was half lane and half street, belonging to the
suburban village of Chesterton,--and there awaited the carriage at a
spot some yards away from the gate. It was well that he was early,
because Richard was there a few minutes before the time appointed. 'She
ain't a-going back to-day,' said the gardener, laying his hands gently
on the horse's back.

'Who ain't not a-going back?' asked the coachman.

'Miss Hester ain't.'

'Mrs. John ain't a-going home?'

'No;--I was to come out and tell you, as master don't like wheels on the
gravel if it can be helped. We ain't got none of our own.'

'Missus ain't a-going home? Why, master expects her for certain!'

'I was to say she ain't a-going to-day.'

The man who was driving passed the reins into his whip-hand, and raising
his hat, began to scratch his head with the other. He knew at once that
there was something wrong,--that this prolonged staying away from home
was not merely a pleasantly lengthened visit. His master had been very
urgent with him as to punctuality, and was evidently intent upon the
return of his wife. All the facts of the accusation were known to the
man, and the fact also that his master's present wife was entirely in
accord with his master. It could not be that she should have determined
to prolong her visit, and then have sent him back to her husband with
such a message as this! 'If you'll hold the hosses just a minute,' he
said, 'I'll go in and see my missus.'

But the Grange gardener was quite as intent on his side of the question
as was the Folking coachman on the other. To him the horrors of bigamy
were manifest. He was quite of opinion that 'Miss Hester,'--who never
ought to have been married in that way at all,--should now be kept a
prisoner in her father's house. 'It ain't no use your going in,--and you
can't,' said the gardener. 'I ain't a-going to hold the horses, and
there's nobody as will.'

'What's up, mate?'

'I don't know as I'm mate to you, nor yet to no one like you. And as to
what's up, I've told you all as I'm bade to tell you; and I ain't
a-going to tell you no more. You can't turn your horses there You'd
better drive round into the village, and there you'll get the high-road
back to Cambridge.' Then the gardener retreated within a little gate of
his own which led from the lane into the precincts close to his own
cottage. The man was an honest, loyal old fanatic, who would scruple at
nothing in carrying out the orders of his mistress in so good a cause.
And personally his feelings had been acerbated in that he had been
called 'mate' by a man not half his age.

The coachman did as he was bid, seeing before him no other possible
course. He could not leave his horses. But when he was in front of the
iron gates he stopped and examined the premises. The gates were old, and
were opened and closed at ordinary times by an ordinary ancient lock.
But now there was a chain passed in and out with a padlock,--evidently
placed there to prevent him from entering in opposition to the
gardener's instructions. There was clearly no course open to him but to
drive the carriage back to his master.

At a quarter before twelve Hester left her own room,--which looked
backwards into the garden, as did all the pleasanter rooms of the
house,--with the intention of seating herself in a spare room looking
out to the front, from which she could have seen the carriage as it
entered the gate. Had she so seen it she would certainly have called to
the man from the window when he was standing in the road. But the door
of that front room was locked against her; and when she tried the other
she found that all the front rooms were locked. She knew the house, of
course, as well as did her mother, and she rushed up to the attics where
the servants occupied the rooms looking out to the road. But they, too,
were locked against her. Then it flashed upon her that the attempt to
make her a prisoner was to be carried out through every possible detail.

What should she do? Her husband would come of course; but what if he
were unable to force an entrance? And how could he force it? Would the
police help him? Would the magistrates help him? She knew that the law
was on her side, and on his,--that the law would declare him to be her
lord and owner till the law should have separated them. But would the
law allow itself to be used readily for this purpose? She, too, could
understand that the feeling of the community would be against her, and
that in such a case the law might allow itself to become slow,
lethargic, and perhaps inoperative, yielding to the popular feeling. She
saw the points which were strong against her as clearly as William and
Robert Bolton had seen those which were strong on their side. But----!
As she stood there beating her foot angrily on the floor of the passage,
she made up her mind that there should be more than one 'but' in his
favour. If they kept her, they should have to lock her up as in a
dungeon; they and all the neighbourhood should hear her voice. They
should be driven to do such things that the feeling of the community
would be no longer on their side.

Various ideas passed through her mind. She thought for a moment that she
would refuse to take any nourishment in that house. Her mother would
surely not see her die; and would thus have to see her die or else send
her forth to be fed. But that thought stayed with her but for a moment.
It was not only for herself that she must eat and drink, but for her
baby. Then, finding that she could not get to the front windows, and
seeing that the time had come in which the carriage should have been
there, she went down into the hall, where she found her mother seated on
a high-backed old oak armchair. The windows of the hall looked out on to
the sweep before the house; but she was well aware that from these lower
windows the plot of shrubs in the centre of the space hindered any view
of the gate. Without speaking to her mother she put her hand upon the
lock of the door as though to walk forth, but found it barred. 'Am I a
prisoner?' she said.

'Yes, Hester; yes. If you will use such a word as to your father's
house, you are a prisoner.'

'I will not remain so. You will have to chain me, and to gag me, and to
kill me. Oh, my baby,--oh, my child! Nurse, nurse, bring me my boy.'
Then with her baby in her arms, she sat down in another high-backed oak
armchair, looking at the hall-door. There she would sit till her husband
should come. He surely would come. He would make his way up to those
windows, and there she could at any rate hear his commands. If he came
for her, surely she would be able to escape.

The coachman drove back to the town very quickly, and went to the inn at
which his horses were generally put up, thinking it better to go to his
master thence on foot. But there he found John Caldigate, who had come
across from Mr. Seely's office. 'Where is Mrs. Caldigate?' he said, as
the man drove the empty carriage down the entrance to the yard. The man,
touching his hat, and with a motion of his hand which was intended to
check his master's impetuosity, drove on; and then, when he had freed
himself from the charge of his horses, told his story with many
whispers.

'The gardener said she wasn't to come!'

'Just that, sir. There's something up more than you think, sir; there is
indeed. He was that fractious that he wouldn't hold the hosses for me,
not for a minute, till I could go in and see, and then------'

'Well?'

'The gates was chained, sir.'

'Chained?'

'A chain was round the bars, and a padlock. I never see such a thing on
a gentleman's gate in my life before. Chained; as nobody wasn't to go
in, nor yet nobody wasn't to come out!' The man as he said this wore
that air of dignity which is always imparted by the possession of great
tidings the truth of which will certainly not be doubted.

The tidings were great. The very thing which his father had suggested,
and which he had declared to be impossible, was being done. The old
banker himself would not, he thought, have dared to propose and carry
out such a project. The whole Bolton family had conspired together to
keep his wife from him, and had allured her away by the false promise of
a friendly visit! He knew, too, that the law was on his side; but he
knew also that he might find it very difficult to make use of the law.
If the world of Cambridge chose to think that Hester was not his wife,
the world of Cambridge would probably support the Boltons by their
opinion. But if she, if his Hester, were true to him, and she certainly
would be true to him--and if she were as courageous as he believed her
to be,--then, as he thought, no house in Chesterton would be able to
hold her.

He stood for a moment turning in his mind what he had better do. Then he
gave his orders to the man in a clear natural voice. 'Take the horses
out, Richard, and feed them. You had better get your dinner here, so
that I may be sure to find you here the moment I want you.

'I won't stir a step from the place,' said the man.



Chapter XXXV

In Prison



What should he do? John Caldigate, as he walked out of the inn-yard, had
to decide for himself what he would do at once. His first impulse was to
go to the mayor and ask for assistance. He had a right to the custody of
his wife. Her father had no right to make her a prisoner. She was
entitled to go whither she pleased, so long as she had his sanction and
should she be separated from him by the action of the law, she would be
entitled to go whither she pleased without sanction from any one.
Whether married or unmarried she was not subject to her father. The
husband was sure that he was entitled to the assistance of the police,
but he doubted much whether he would be able to get it, and he was most
averse to ask for it.

And yet what other step could he take? With no purpose as yet quite
fixed, he went to the bank, thinking that he might best commence his
work by expostulating with his wife's father. It was Mr. Bolton's habit
to walk every morning into the town, unless he was deterred by heat or
wet or ill health; and till lately it had been his habit also to walk
back, his house being a mile and a half distant from the bank; but
latterly the double walk had become too much for him, and, when the time
for his return came, he would send out for a cab to take him home. His
hours were very various. He would generally lunch at the bank, in his
own little dingy room; but if things went badly with him, so as to
disturb his mind, he would go back early in the day, and generally pass
the afternoon asleep. On this occasion he was very much troubled, so
that when Caldigate reached the bank, which he did before one, Mr.
Bolton was already getting into his cab. 'Could I speak a few words to
you, sir?' said Caldigate in the street.

'I am not very well to-day,' said the banker, hardly looking round,
persevering in his effort to get into the vehicle.

'I would not keep you for a minute, sir. I must see you, as you are
aware.'

There were already half-a-dozen people collected, all of whom had no
doubt heard the story of John Caldigate's wife. There was, indeed, no
man or woman in Cambridge whose ears it had not reached. In the hearing
of these Mr. Bolton was determined not to speak of his daughter, and he
was equally determined not to go back into the house. 'I have nothing to
say,' he muttered--'nothing, nothing; drive on.' So the cab was driven
on, and John Caldigate was left in the street.

The man's anger now produced a fixed purpose, and with a quick step he
walked away from the bank to Robert Bolton's office. There he soon found
himself in the attorney's room. 'Are you aware of what they are doing at
the Grange?' he asked, in a voice which was not so guarded as it should
have been on such an occasion. Anger and the quickness of his walk had
combined to make him short of breath, and he asked the question with
that flurried, hasty manner which is common to angry people who are hot
rather than malicious in their angers.

'I don't think I am,' said the attorney. 'But if I were, I doubt whether
I should just at present be willing to discuss their doings with you.'

'My wife has gone there on a visit.'

'I am glad to hear it. It is the best thing that my sister could do.'

'And now it seems some difficulty is made about her returning.'

That I think very likely. Her father and mother can hardly wish that she
should go back to your house at present. I cannot imagine that she
should wish it herself. If you have the feelings of a gentleman or the
heart of a man you ought not to wish it.'

'I have not come here to be taught what is becoming either to a man or a
gentleman.'

'If you will allow me to say so, while things are as they are at
present, you ought not to come here at all.'

'I should not have done so but for this violence, this breach of all
hospitality at your father's house! My wife went there with the
understanding that she was to stay for two days.'

'And now, you say, they detain her. I am not responsible; but in doing
so they have my thorough sympathy and approbation. I do not know that I
can help them, or that they will want my help; but I shall help them if
I can. The fact is, you had better leave her there.'

'Never!'

'I should not have volunteered my advice, but, as you are here, I may
perhaps say a word. If you attempt to take her by violence from her
father's house you will have all the town, all the county, all England
against you.'

'I should;--I own it;----unless she wished to come to me. If she
chooses to stay, she shall stay.'

'It must not be left to her. If she be so infatuated, she must not be
allowed to judge for herself. Till this trial be over, she and you must
live apart. Then, if that woman does not make good her claim,--if you
can prove that the woman is lying,--then you will have back your wife.
But if, as everybody I find believes at present, it should be proved
that you are the husband of that woman, and that you have basely
betrayed my poor sister by a mock marriage, then she must be left to the
care of her father and her mother, and may Heaven help her in her
misery.' All this he said with much dignity, and in a manner with which
even Caldigate could not take personal offence. 'You must remember,' he
added, 'that this poor injured one is their daughter and my sister.'

'I say that she has been in no wise injured but,--as I also am
injured,--by a wicked plot. And I say that she shall come back to me,
unless she herself elects to remain with her parents.' Then he left the
office and went forth again into the streets.

He now took at once the road to Chesterton, trying as he did so to make
for himself in his own mind a plan or map of the premises. It would, he
thought, be impossible but that his wife would be able to get out of the
house and come to him if he could only make her aware of his presence.
But then there was the baby, and it would be necessary not only that she
should escape herself but that she should bring her child with her.
Would they attempt to hold her? Could it be that they should have
already locked her up in some room up-stairs? And if she did escape out
of some window, even with her baby in her arms, how would it be with
them then as they made their way back into the town? Thinking of this he
hurried back to the inn and told Richard to take the carriage into
Chesterton and wait there at the turn of the lane, where the lane leads
down from the main road to the Grange. He was to wait there, though it
might be all the day, till he heard from or saw his master. The man, who
was quite as keen for his master as was the old gardener for his
mistress on the other side, promised accurate obedience. Then he
retraced his steps and walked as fast as he could to the Grange.

During all this time the mother and the daughter kept their weary seats
in the hall, Hester having her baby in her arms. She had quite
determined that nothing should induce her again to go up-stairs,--lest
the key of the room should be turned upon her. For a long time they sat
in silence, and then she declared her purpose.

'I shall remain here, mamma.'

'If so, I must remain too.'

'I shall not go up to my bedroom again, you may be sure of that.'

'You will go up to-night, I hope.'

'Certainly not. Nurse shall take baby up to his cradle. I do not suppose
you will be cruel enough to separate me from my child.'

'Cruel! Do you not know that I would do anything for you or your
child,--that I would die for you or your child?'

'I suppose you will let them bring me food here. You would not wish him
to be starved.'

'Hester!'

'Well; what would you have me say? Are you not my jailer?'

'I am your mother. According to my conscience I am acting for you as
best I know how. Do you not know that I mean to be good to you?'

'I know you are not good to me. Nobody can be good who tries to separate
me from my husband. I shall remain here till he comes and tells me how I
am to be taken away.' Then Mr. Bolton returned, and made his way into
the house with the assistance of the gardener through the kitchen. He
found the two women sitting in the hall, each in the high-backed
arm-chair, and his daughter with her baby in her arms,--a most piteous
sight, the two of them thus together. 'Papa,' she said, as he came up
into the hall from the kitchen, 'you are treating me badly, cruelly,
unjustly. You have no right to keep me here against my will. I am my
husband's wife, and I must go to my husband.'

'It is for the best, Hester.'

'What is wrong cannot be for the best. Do you suppose that he will let
me be kept here in prison? Of course he will come. Why do you not let me
go?'

'It is right that you should be here, Hester,' he said, as he passed
up-stairs to his own bedroom. It was a terrible job of work for which he
had no strength whatever himself, and as to which he was beginning to
doubt whether even his wife's strength would suffice. As for her, as for
Hester, perhaps it would be well that she should be wearied and broken
into submission. But it was fearful to think that his wife should have
to sit there the whole day saying nothing, doing nothing, merely
watching lest her daughter should attempt to escape through some window.

'It will kill your father, I think,' said the mother.

'Why does he not let me go then? I have to think of my husband and my
child.' Then again there was silence. When they had been seated thus for
two hours, all the words that had been spoken between them had not
spread themselves over ten minutes, and Mrs. Bolton was looking forward
to hour after hour of the same kind. It did not seem to her to be
possible that Hester should be forced up into her own room. Even she,
with all her hardihood, could not ask the men about the place to take
her in their arms and carry her with violence up the stairs. Nor would
the men have done it, if so required. Nothing but a policeman's garb
will seem to justify the laying of a hand upon a woman, and even that
will hardly do it unless the woman be odiously disreputable. Mrs. Bolton
saw clearly what was before her. Should Hester be strong in her purpose
to remain seated as at present, she also must remain seated. Weariness
and solicitude for her baby might perhaps drive the young mother to bed.
Then she also would go to her bed,--and would rest, with one eye ever
open, with her ears always on the alert. She was somewhat sure of
herself. Her life had not been so soft but that she could endure
much,--and of her purpose she was quite sure. Nothing would trouble her
conscience if she could succeed in keeping her daughter separated from
John Caldigate.

Caldigate in his hot haste walked up to the iron gates and found them
chained. It was in vain that he shook them, and in vain that he looked
at them. The gates were fully twelve feet high, and spiked at the top.
At each side of the gates ran a wall surmounted by iron
railings,--extending to the gardener's cottage on the one side, and to
the coach-house on the other. The drive up to the house, which swept
round a plot of thick shrubs, lay between the various offices,--the
stables and coach-house being on one side, and the laundry and
gardener's cottage on the other. From the road there was no mode of
ingress for him to this enclosure, unless he could get over the
railings. This might perhaps have been possible, but it would have been
quite impossible for him to bring his wife back by the same way. There
was a bell at the gardener's little gate, which he rang loudly; but no
one would come to him. At last he made his way round into the
kitchen-garden by a corner where access was made by climbing a
moderately high gate which gave an entrance to the fields. From thence
he had no difficulty in making his way on to the lawn at the back of the
house, and up by half-a-dozen stone steps to the terrace which ran along
under the windows. Here he found that the lower shutters were barred on
the inside throughout so that he could not look into any of the rooms.
But he could rap at the windows, which he did loudly, and it was in his
power to break them if he pleased. He rapped very loudly; but poor
Hester, who sat at the front hall, heard nothing of the noise.

He knew that from the back-garden he could make his way to the front,
with more or less of violence. Between the gardener's cottage and the
laundry there was a covered passage leading to the front, the buildings
above being continuous, but leaving a way through for the convenience of
the servants. This, however, was guarded by a trellis-work gate. But
even on this gate the gardener had managed to fix a lock. When Caldigate
reached the spot the man was standing, idle and observant, at his own
cottage door. 'You had better open this gate,' said Caldigate, 'or I
shall kick it open.'

'You mustn't do that, Mr. Caldigate. It's master's orders as it's to be
locked. It's master's orders as you ain't to be in here at all.' Then
Caldigate raised his foot, and the trellis-work gate was very soon
despatched. 'Very well,' said the man;--'very well, Mr. Caldigate.
That'll have to come agin you when the other things come. It's my belief
as it's burglorious.' Then Caldigate went up before the house windows,
and the gardener followed him.

The front door was approached by half-a-dozen stone steps, which were
guarded on each side by a curved iron rail. Along the whole front of the
house, passing under the steps, there ran a narrow, shallow area,
contrived simply to give light to the kitchen and offices in the
basement storey. But this area was, again, guarded by an iron rail,
which was so constructed as to make it impossible that any one less
expert than a practised house-breaker should get in or out of any of the
windows looking that way. From the hall there were no less than four
windows looking to the front; but they were all equally unapproachable.

The moment that Caldigate appeared coming round the curve of the gravel
road Hester saw him. Jumping up from her chair with her baby, she rushed
to the window, and called to him aloud, tapping at the window as she did
so, 'John, I am here! Come to me! come to me! Take me out! They have
shut me in, and will not let me come to you.' Then she held up the baby.
'Mamma, let him in, so that he come to his own baby. You dare not keep
the father away from his own child.' At this time the nurse was in the
hall, as was also the cook. But the front door was locked as well as
chained, and the key was in Mrs. Bolton's own pocket. She sat perfectly
silent, rigid, without a motion. She had known that he would come and
show himself; and she had determined that she would be rigid, silent,
and motionless. She would not move or speak unless Hester should
endeavour to make her way down into the kitchen. But just in the passage
which led to the top of the kitchen stairs stood the cook,--strong,
solid, almost twice the weight of Hester,--a pious, determined woman, on
whom her mistress could depend that she would remain there impervious.

They could talk to each other now, Hester and Caldigate, each explaining
or suggesting what had been done or should be done; but they could
converse only so that their enemies around them should hear every word
that was spoken. 'No, John, no; I will not stay,' she said, when her
husband told her that he would leave the decision to her. 'Unless it be
to do your bidding, I will not stay here willingly. And, John, I will
not move upstairs. I will remain here; and if they choose to give me
food they may bring it to me. Unless they carry me I will not go to my
bedroom. And they shall tear me to pieces before I will let them carry
me. Poor baby! poor baby! I know he will be ill,' she said, moaning, but
still so that he, standing beyond the railings, should hear her through
the window. 'I know he will be ill; but what can I do? They do not care
for my baby. If he should die it will be nothing to them.' During all
this Mrs. Bolton kept her resolve, and sat there rigid, with her eyes
fixed on vacancy, speaking no word, apparently paying no attention to
the scene around her. Her back was turned to the front door, so that she
could not see John Caldigate. Nor would she attempt to look at him. He
could not get in, nor could the other get out. If that were so she would
endeavour to bear it all. In the meantime the old man was sitting in his
arm-chair up in his bedroom, reduced almost to inanity of mind by the
horror of the occasion. When he could think of it all he would tell
himself that he must let her go. He could not keep the mother and her
baby a prisoner in such a condition as this.

Then there came dinner. Let misfortunes be what they may, dinner will
come. The old man crawled down-stairs, and Hester was invited into the
dining-room. 'No,' she said. 'If you choose to send it to me here,
because of baby, I will eat.' Then, neither would Mrs. Bolton go to her
husband; but both of them, seated in their high-backed arm-chairs, ate
their food with their plates upon their laps.

During this time Caldigate still remained outside, but in vain. As
circumstances were at present, he had no means of approaching his wife.
He could kick down a slight trellis-work gate; but he could bring no
adequate force to bear against the stout front door. At last, when the
dusk of evening came on he took his departure, assuring his wife that he
would be there again on the following morning.



Chapter XXXVI

The Escape



During the whole of that night Hester kept her position in the hall,
holding her baby in her arms as long as the infant would sleep in that
position, and then allowing the nurse to take it to its cradle
up-stairs. And during the whole night also Mrs. Bolton remained with her
daughter. Tea was brought to them, which each of them took, and after
that neither spoke a word to the other till the morning. Before he went
to bed, Mr. Bolton came down and made an effort for their joint comfort.
'Hester,' he said, 'why should you not go to your room? You can do
yourself no good by remaining there.' 'No,' she said, sullenly; 'no; I
will stay.' 'You will only make yourself ill,--you and your mother.'

'She can go. Though I should die, I will stay here.'

Nor could he succeed better with his wife. 'If she is obstinate, so must
I be,' said Mrs. Bolton. It was in vain that he endeavoured to prove to
her that there could be no reason for such obstinacy, that her daughter
would not attempt to escape during the hours of the night without her
baby.

'You would not do that,' said the old man, turning to his daughter. But
to this Hester would make no reply, and Mrs. Bolton simply declared her
purpose of remaining. To her mind there was present an idea that she
would, at any rate, endure as much actual suffering as her daughter.
There they both sat, and in the morning they were objects pitiable to be
seen.

Macbeth and Sancho have been equally eloquent in the praise of sleep.
'Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care!' But sleep will
knit up effectually no broken stitches unless it be enjoyed in bed.
'Blessings on him who invented sleep,' said Sancho. But the great
inventor was he who discovered mattresses and sheets and blankets. These
two unfortunates no doubt slept; but in the morning they were weary,
comfortless, and exhausted. Towels and basins were brought to them, and
then they prepared themselves to watch through another day. It seemed to
be a trial between them, which could outwatch the other. The mother was,
of course, much the older; but with poor Hester there was the baby to
add to her troubles. Never was there a woman more determined to carry
out her purpose than Mrs. Bolton, or one more determined to thwart the
purpose of another than she who still called herself Hester Caldigate.
In the morning Mrs. Bolton implored her husband to go into Cambridge as
usual; but he felt that he could not leave the house with such inmates.
So he sat in his bedroom dozing wretchedly in his arm-chair.

Caldigate appeared before the house at nine o'clock, no further attempt
having been made to exclude his entrance by the side gate, and asked to
see Mr. Bolton. 'Papa is up-stairs,' said Hester through the window. But
the old man would not come down to see his visitor, nor would he send
any message. Then Caldigate declared his purpose of going at once to the
mayor and demanding assistance from the police. He at any rate would
return with the carriage as early as he could after his visit to the
magistrates' office. He went to the mayor, and inflicted much trouble on
that excellent officer, who, however, at last, with the assistance of
his clerk,--and of Robert Bolton, whom he saw on the sly,--came to the
decision that his own authority would not suffice for the breaking open
of a man's house in order that his married daughter should be taken by
violence from his custody. 'No doubt,' he said; 'no doubt,' when
Caldigate pleaded that Mr. Bolton's daughter was, at any rate for the
present, his own wife; and that a man's right to have his wife is
undoubted. Those words 'no doubt' were said very often; but no other
words were said. Then the clerk expressed an opinion that the proper
course would be for Mr. Caldigate to go up to London and get an order
from the Vice-Chancellor; which was, of course, tantamount to saying
that his wife was to remain at Chesterton till after the trial,--unless
she could effect her own escape.

But not on that account was he inclined to yield. He had felt from the
first, as had she also, that she would make her way out of the house, or
would not make it, as she might or might not have the courage to be
persistent in demanding it. This, indeed, had been felt both by William
and Robert Bolton when they had given their counsel. 'She is a woman
with a baby, and when in your house will be subject to your influences.
She will be very angry at first, but will probably yield after a time to
your instructions. She will at last give an unwilling assent to the
course you propose. That is what may be expected. But if she should be
firmer than we think, if there should be in her bosom a greater power of
resistance than we expect, should she dash herself too violently against
the cage,--then you must let her go.' That was intended to be the gist
of the advice given, though it perhaps was not so accurately expressed.
It was in that way understood by the old man; but Mrs. Bolton would not
so understand it. She had taken the matter in hand, and as she pressed
her lips together she told herself that she intended to go through with
it.

And so did Hester. But as this day went on, Hester became at times
almost hysterical in her efforts to communicate with her husband through
the window, holding up her baby and throwing back her head, and was
almost in convulsions in her efforts to get at him. He on the other side
thundered at the door with the knocker, till that instrument had been
unscrewed from within. But still he could knock with his stick and shout
with his voice; while the people outside the iron gates stood looking on
in a crowd. In the course of the day Robert Bolton endeavoured to get an
order from the magistrates for the removal of Caldigate by the police.
But the mayor would not assent either to that. Old Mr. Bolton was the
owner of the house, and if there was a nuisance to be complained of, it
was he that must complain. The mayor during these days was much tried.
The steady married people of the borough,--the shopkeepers and their
wives, the doctors and lawyers and clergymen,--were in favour of Mr.
and Mrs. Bolton. It was held to be fitting that a poor lady in Hester's
unfortunate position should be consigned to the care of her parents till
the matter had been settled. But the people generally sympathised with
the young husband and young wife, and were loud in denouncing the
illegality of the banker's proceedings. And it was already rumoured that
among the undergraduates Caldigate's side was favoured. It was generally
known that Crinkett and the woman had asked for money before they had
brought their accusation, and on that account sympathy ran with the
Squire of Folking. The mayor, therefore, did not dare to give an order
that Caldigate should be removed from off the premises at Puritan
Grange, knowing that he was there in search of a wife who was only
anxious to place herself in his custody.

But nothing was done all that day. About four in the afternoon, while
Caldigate was still there, and at a moment in which poor Hester had been
reduced by the continuance of her efforts to a state of hysterical
prostration, the old man summoned his wife upstairs. She, with a motion
to the cook, who still guarded the stairs, obeyed the order, and for a
moment left her watch.

'You must let her go,' said the old man, with tremulous anxiety, beating
with his fingers on his knees as he spoke. 'You must let her go.'

'No; no!'

'It will kill her.'

'If I let her go, I shall kill her soul,' said the determined woman. 'Is
not her soul more than her body?'

'They will say we--murdered her.'

'Who will say it? And what would that be but the breath of a man? Does
not our Father who is in heaven know that I would die to do her a
service, if the service accorded with His will? Does He not know that I
am cruel to her here in order that she may be saved from eternal----'
She was going to say, in the natural fervour of her speech, 'from
eternal cruelty to come,' but she checked herself. To have admitted that
such a judgment could be worse than just, worse even than merciful,
would be blasphemy to her. 'Oh, He knows! He knows! And if He knows,
what matters what men say that I have done to her.'

'I cannot have it go on like this,' said he, still whispering.

'She will be wearied out, and then we will take her to her bed.'

But Mr. Bolton succeeded in demanding that a telegram should be sent up
to William requesting him to come down to the Grange as early as
possible on the following morning. This was sent, and also a message to
Robert Bolton in Cambridge, telling him that William had been summoned.
During these two days he had not been seen at the Grange, though he knew
much of what was being done there. Had he, however, been aware of all
that his sister and step-mother were enduring, he would probably have
appeared upon the scene. As it was, he had justified his absence by
pleading to himself Mrs. Bolton's personal enmity, and the understanding
which existed that he should not visit the house. Then, when it was
dark, Caldigate with the carriage again returned to the town, where he
slept as he had done on the previous night. Again their food was brought
to the two women in the hall, and again each of them swallowed a cup of
tea as they prepared themselves for the work of the night.

In the hall there was a gas-stove, which was kept burning, and gave a
faint glimmer, so that each could see the outline of the other. Light
beyond that there was none. In the weary long hours of nights such as
these, nights passed on the seats of railway carriages, or rougher
nights, such as some of us remember, on the outside of coaches, or
sitting by the side of the sick, sleep will come early and will early
go. The weariness of the past day will produce some forgetfulness for an
hour or two, and then come the slow, cold, sad hours through which the
dawn has to be expected. Between two and three these unfortunates were
both awake, the poor baby having been but lately carried back from its
mother to its cradle. Then suddenly Mrs. Bolton heard rather than saw
her daughter slip down from her chair on to the ground and stretch
herself along upon the hard floor. 'Hester,' she said; but Hester did
not answer. 'Hester, are you hurt?' When there was still no answer, the
mother got up, with limbs so stiff that she could hardly use them, and
stood over her child. 'Hester, speak to me.'

'I will never speak to you more,' said the daughter.

'My child, why will you not go to your comfortable wholesome bed?'

'I will not go; I will die here.'

'The door shall not be locked. You shall have the key with you. I will
do nothing to hurt you if you will go to your bed.'

'I will not go; leave me alone. You cannot love me, mamma, or you would
not treat me like this.'

'Love you! Oh, my child! If you knew! If you could understand! Why am I
doing this? Is it not because I feel it to be my duty? Will you let me
take you to your bed?'

'No, never. I, too, can do my duty,--my duty to my husband. It is to
remain here till I can get to him, even though I should die.' Then she
turned her poor limbs on the hard floor, and the mother covered her with
a cloak and placed a cushion beneath her head. Then, after standing a
while over her child, she returned to her chair, and did not move or
speak again till the old cook came, with the first glimmer of the
morning, to inquire how the night had been passed.

'I cannot allow this; I cannot allow this,' said Mr. Bolton, when he
shuffled down in his slippers. The old servant had been up to him and
had warned him that such sufferings as these might have a tragic
end,--too probably an end fatal to the infant. If the mother's strength
should altogether fail her, would it not go badly with the baby? So the
cook had argued, who had been stern enough herself, anxious enough to
secure 'Miss Hester' from the wickedness of John Caldigate. But she was
now cowed and frightened, and had acknowledged to herself that if 'Miss
Hester' would not give way, then she must be allowed to go forth, let
the wickedness be what it might.

'There must be an end to this,' said the old man.

'What end?' asked his wife. 'Let her obey her parents.'

'I will obey only my husband,' said Hester.

'Of course there must be an end. Let her go to her bed, and, weary as I
am, I will wait upon her as only a mother can wait upon her child. Have
I not prayed for her through the watches of the night, that she might be
delivered from this calamity, that she might be comforted by Him in her
sorrow? What have I done these two last weary days but pray to the Lord
God that He might be merciful to her?'

'Let me go,' said Hester.

'I will not let you go,' said the mother, rising from her seat. 'I too
can suffer. I too can endure. I will not be conquered by my own child.'
There spoke the human being. That was the utterance natural to the
woman. 'In this struggle, hard as it is, I will not be beat by one who
has been subject to my authority.' In all those prayers,--and she had
prayed,--there had been the prayer in her heart, if not in her words,
that she might be saved from the humiliation of yielding.

Early in the day Caldigate was again in front of the house, and outside
there was a close carriage with a pair of horses, standing at the
gardener's little gate. And at the front gate, which was still chained,
there was again the crowd. At about one both William and Robert Bolton
came upon the scene, and were admitted by the gardener and cook through
the kitchen-door into the house. They were close to Caldigate as they
entered; neither did they speak to him or he to them. At that moment
Hester was standing with the baby at the window, and saw them. 'Now I
shall be allowed to go,' she exclaimed. Mrs. Bolton was still seated
with her back to the windows; but she had heard the steps on the gravel,
and the opening of the kitchen-door; and she understood Hester's words,
and was aware that her husband's sons were in the house.

They had agreed as to what should be done, and at once made their way up
into the hall. 'William, you will make them let me go. You will make
them let me go,' said Hester, rushing at once to the elder of the two,
and holding out her baby as though for him to take. She was now in a
state so excited, so nervous, so nearly hysterical, that she was hardly
able to control herself. 'You will not let them kill me, William,--me
and my baby.' He kissed her and said a kind word or two, and then,
inquiring after his father, passed on up-stairs. Then Mrs. Bolton
followed him, leaving Robert in the hall with Hester. 'I know that you
have turned against me,' said Hester.

'Indeed no. I have never turned against you. I have thought that you
would be better here than at Folking for the present.'

'That is being against me. A woman should be with her husband. You told
them to do this. And they have nearly killed me,--me and my baby.'

In the meantime William Bolton up-stairs was very decided in his opinion
that they must at once allow Caldigate to take her back to Folking. She
had, as he said, proved herself to be too strong for them. The
experiment had been tried and had failed. No doubt it would be
better,--so he thought,--that she should remain for the present at the
Grange; so much better that a certain show of force had been justified.
But as things were going, no further force would be justified. She had
proved her power, and must be allowed to go. Mrs. Bolton, however, would
not even yet acknowledge that she was beaten. In a few more hours, she
thought, Hester would allow herself to be taken to her bed, and then all
might be well. But she could not stand against the combined force of her
husband and his two sons; and so it was decided that the front door
should be opened for the prisoner, and that the chains should be removed
from the gate. 'I should be afraid of the people,' William Bolton said
to his father.

It was not till this decision had been given that Mrs. Bolton felt that
the struggle of the last three days had been too much for her. Now, at
last, she threw herself upon her bed, weeping bitter tears, tears of a
broken spirit, and there she lay prostrate with fatigue and misery. Nor
would she go down to say a word of farewell. How could she say adieu to
her daughter, leaving her house in such circumstances 'I will give her
your love,' said William Bolton.

'Say nothing to her. She does not care for my love, nor for the love of
her Father in heaven. She cares only for that adulterer.'

The door was opened from within, and the chains were taken away from the
gate. 'Oh, John,--oh, my husband,' she exclaimed, as she leaped down the
steps into his arms, 'never let me go again; not for a day,--not for an
hour!' Then her boxes were brought down, and the nurse came with the
child, whom the mother at once took and placed in his father's arms. And
the carriage was brought in, and the luggage was placed on it, and the
nurse and the baby were seated. 'I will go up to poor mamma for one
moment,' she said. She did go to her mother's room, and throwing herself
upon the wretched woman, wept over her and kissed her. But the mother,
though in some sort she returned the caress, said not a word as her
daughter left the room. And she went also to her father and asked his
blessing. He muttered a word or two, blessing her, no doubt, with
inarticulate words. He also had been thoroughly vanquished.

Then she got into the carriage, and was taken back to Folking lying in
John Caldigate's arms.



Chapter XXXVII

Again at Folking



Thus Hester prevailed, and was taken back to the house of the man who
had married her. By this time very much had been said about the matter
publicly. It had been impossible to keep the question,--whether John
Caldigate's recent marriage had been true or fraudulent,--out of the
newspapers; and now the attempt that had been made to keep them apart
by force gave an additional interest to the subject. There was an
opinion, very general among elderly educated people, that Hester
ought to have allowed herself to be detained at the Grange. 'We do
not mean to lean heavily on the unfortunate young lady,' said the
'Isle-of-Ely-Church-Intelligencer'; 'but we think that she would have
better shown a becoming sense of her position had she submitted her
self to her parents till the trial is over. Then the full sympathy of
all classes would have been with her; and whether the law shall restore
her to a beloved husband, or shall tell her that she has become the
victim of a cruel seducer, she would have been supported by the
approval and generous regard of all men.' It was thus for the most part
that the elderly and the wise spoke and thought about it. Of course,
they pitied her; but they believed all evil of Caldigate, declaring
that he too was bound by a feeling of duty to restore the unfortunate
one to her father and mother until the matter should have been set at
rest by the decision of a jury.

But the people,--especially the people of Utterden and Netherden,
and of Chesterton, and even of Cambridge,--were all on the side of
Caldigate and Hester as a married couple. They liked the persistency
with which he had claimed his wife, and applauded her to the echo for
her love and firmness. Of course the scene at Puritan Grange had been
much exaggerated. The two nights were prolonged to intervals varying
from a week to a fortnight. During that time she was said always to
have been at the window holding up her baby. And Mrs. Bolton was
accused of cruelties which she certainly had not committed. Some
details of the affair made their way into the metropolitan Press,--so
that the expected trial became one of those _causes célèbres_ by which
the public is from time to time kept alive to the value and charm of
newspapers.

During all this John Caldigate was specially careful not to
seclude himself from public view, or to seem to be afraid of his
fellow-creatures. He was constantly in Cambridge, generally riding
thither on horseback, and on such occasions was always to be seen in
Trumpington Street and Trinity Street. Between him and the Boltons
there was, by tacit consent, no intercourse whatever after the
attempted imprisonment. He never showed himself at Robert Bolton's
office, nor when they met in the street did they speak to each other.
Indeed at this time no gentleman or lady held any intercourse with
Caldigate, except his father and Mr. Bromley the clergyman. The
Babingtons were strongly of opinion that he should have surrendered
the care of his wife; and Aunt Polly went so far as to write to him
when she first heard of the affair at Chesterton, recommending him
very strongly to leave her at the Grange. Then there was an angry
correspondence, ended at last by a request from Aunt Polly that there
might be no further intercourse between Babington and Folking till
after the trial.

Caldigate, though he bore all this with an assured face, with but
little outward sign of inward misgiving, suffered much,--much even from
the estrangement of those with whom he had hitherto been familiar. To
be 'cut' by any one was a pain to him. Not to be approved of, not to be
courted, not to stand well in the eyes of those around him, was to him
positive and immediate suffering. He was supported no doubt by the full
confidence of his father, by the friendliness of the parson, and by
the energetic assurances of partisans who were all on his side,--such
as Mr. Ralph Holt, the farmer. While Caldigate had been in Cambridge
waiting for his wife's escape, Holt and one or two others were maturing
a plan for breaking into Puritan Grange, and restoring the wife to
her husband. All this supported him. Without it he could hardly have
carried himself as he did. But with all this, still he was very
wretched. 'It is that so many people should think me guilty,' he said
to Mr. Bromley.

She bore it better--though, of course, now that she was safe at Folking,
she had but little to do as to outward bearing. In the first place, no
doubt as to his truth ever touched her for a moment,--and not much doubt
as to the result of the trial. It was to her an assured fact that John
Caldigate was her husband, and she could not realise the idea that, such
being the fact, a jury should say that he was not. But let all that be
as it might, they two were one; and to adhere to him in every word, in
every thought, in every little action, was to her the only line of
conduct possible. She heard what Mr. Bromley said, she knew what her
father-in-law thought, she was aware of the enthusiasm on her side of
the folk at Folking. It seemed to her that this opposition to her
happiness was but a continuation of that which her mother had always
made to her marriage. The Boltons were all against her. It was a
terrible sorrow to her. But she knew how to bear it bravely. In the
tenderness of her husband, who at this time was very tender to her, she
had her great consolation.

On the day of her return she had been very ill,--so ill that Caldigate
and his father had been much frightened. During the journey home in the
carriage, she had wept and laughed hysterically, now clutching her baby,
and then embracing her husband. Before reaching Folking she had been so
worn with fatigue that he had hardly been able to support her on the
seat. But after rest for a day or two, she had rallied completely. And
she herself had taken pleasure and great pride in the fact that through
it all her baby had never really been ill. 'He is a little man,' she
said, boasting to the boy's father, 'and knows how to put up with
troubles. And when his mamma was so bad he didn't peak and pine and cry,
so as to break her heart. Did he, my own, own brave little man?' And she
could boast of her own health too. 'Thank God I am strong, John. I can
bear things which would break down other women. You shall never see me
give way because I am a poor creature.' Certainly she had a right to
boast that she was not a poor creature.

Caldigate no doubt was subject to troubles of which she knew nothing. It
was quite clear to him that Mr. Seely, his own lawyer, did in truth
believe that there had been some form of marriage between him and
Euphemia Smith. The attorney had never said so much,--had never accused
him. It would probably have been opposed to all the proprieties in such
a matter that any direct accusation should have been made against him by
his own attorney. But he could understand from the man's manner that his
mind was not free from a strong suspicion. Mr. Seely was eager enough as
to the defence; but seemed to be eager as against opposing evidence
rather than on the strength of evidence on his own side. He was not
apparently desirous of making all the world know that such a marriage
certainly never took place; but that, whether such a marriage had taken
place or not, the jury ought not to trust the witnesses. He relied, not
on the strength of his own client, but on the weakness of his client's
adversaries. It might probably be capable of proof that Crinkett and
Adamson and the woman had conspired together to get money from John
Caldigate; and if so, then their evidence as to the marriage would be
much weakened. And he showed himself not averse to any tricks of trade
which might tend to get a verdict. Could it be proved that John Crinkett
had been dishonest in his mining operations? Had Euphemia Smith allowed
her name to be connected with that of any other man in Australia? What
had been her antecedents? Was it not on the cards that Allan, the
minister, had never undergone any ceremony of ordination? And, if not,
might it not be shown that a marriage service performed by him would be
no marriage service at all? Could not the jury be made to think,--or at
least some of the jury,--that out there, in that rough lawless
wilderness, marriage ceremonies were very little understood? These were
the wiles to which he seemed disposed to trust; whereas Caldigate was
anxious that he should instruct some eloquent indignant advocate to
declare boldly that no English gentleman could have been guilty of
conduct so base, so dastardly, and so cruel! 'You see, Mr. Caldigate,'
the lawyer said on one occasion, 'to make the best of it, our own hands
are not quite clean. You did promise the other lady marriage.'

'No doubt. No doubt I was a fool; and I paid for my folly. I bought her
off. Having fallen into the common scrape,--having been pleased by her
prettinesses and clevernesses and women's ways,--I did as so many other
men have done. I got out of it as best I could without treachery and
without dishonour. I bought her off. Had she refused to take my money, I
should probably have married her,--and probably have blown my brains out
afterwards. All that has to be acknowledged,--much to my shame. Most of
us would have to blush if the worst of our actions were brought out
before us in a court of law. But there was an end of it. Then they come
over here and endeavour to enforce their demand for money by a threat.'

'That envelope is so unfortunate,' said the lawyer.

'Most unfortunate.'

'Perhaps we shall get some one before the day comes who will tell the
jury that any marriage up at Ahalala must have been a farce.'

All this was unsatisfactory, and became so more and more as the weeks
went by. The confidential clerk whom the Boltons had sent out when the
first threat reached them early in November,--the threat conveyed in
that letter from the woman which Caldigate had shown to Robert
Bolton,--returned about the end of March. The two brothers, Robert and
William, decided upon sending him to Mr. Seely, so that any information
obtained might be at Caldigate's command, to be used, if of any use, in
his defence. But there was in truth very little of it. The clerk had
been up to Nobble and Ahalala, and had found no one there who knew
enough of the matter to give evidence about it. The population of mining
districts in Australia is peculiarly a shifting population, so that the
most of those who had known Caldigate and his mode of life there were
gone. The old woman who kept Henniker's Hotel at Nobble had certainly
heard that they were married; but then she had added that many people
there called themselves man and wife from convenience. A woman would
often like a respectable name where there was no parson near at hand to
entitle her to it. Then the parsons would be dilatory and troublesome
and expensive, and a good many people were apt to think that they could
do very well without ceremonies. She evidently would have done no good
to either side as a witness. This clerk had found Ahalala almost
deserted,--occupied chiefly by a few Chinese, who were contented to
search for the specks of gold which more ambitious miners had allowed
to slip through their fingers. The woman had certainly called herself
Mrs. Caldigate, and had been called so by many. But she had afterwards
been called Mrs. Crinkett, when she and Crinkett had combined their
means with the view of buying the Polyeuka mine. She was described
as an enterprising, greedy woman, upon whom the love of gold had had
almost more than its customary effect. And she had for a while been
noted and courted for her success, having been the only female miner
who was supposed to have realised money in these parts. She had been
known to the banks at Nobble, also even at Sydney; and had been
supposed at one time to have been worth twenty or thirty thousand
pounds. Then she had joined herself with Crinkett, and all their
money had been supposed to vanish in the Polyeuka mine. No doubt
there had been enough in that to create animosity of the most bitter
kind against Caldigate. He in his search for gold had been uniformly
successful,--was spoken of among the Nobble miners as the one man who
in gold- digging had never had a reverse. He had gone away just before
the bad time came on Polyeuka; and then had succeeded, after he had
gone, in extracting from these late unfortunate partners of his every
farthing that he had left them! There was ample cause for animosity.

Allan, the minister, who certainly had been at Ahalala, was as certainly
dead. He had gone out from Scotland as a Presbyterian clergyman, and no
doubt had ever been felt as to his being that which he called
himself;--and a letter from him was produced which had undoubtedly been
written by himself. Robert Bolton had procured a photograph of the note
which the woman produced as having been written by Allan to Caldigate.
The handwriting did not appear to him to be the same, but an expert had
given an opinion that they both might have been written by the same
person. Of Dick Shand no tidings had been found. It was believed that he
had gone from Queensland to some of the Islands,--probably to the Fijis;
but he had sunk so low among men as to have left no trace behind him. In
Australia no one cares to know whence a shepherd has come or whither he
goes. A miner belongs to a higher class, and is more considered. The
result of all which was, in the opinion of the Boltons, adverse to John
Caldigate. And in discussing this with his client, Mr. Seely
acknowledged that nothing had as yet come to light sufficient to shake
the direct testimony of the woman, corroborated as it was by three
persons, all of whom would swear that they had been present at the
marriage.

'No doubt they endeavoured to get money from you,' said Mr. Seely; 'and
I may be well assured in my own mind that money was their sole object.
But then it cannot be denied that their application to you for money had
a sound basis,--one which, though you might fairly refuse to allow it,
takes away from the application all idea of criminality. Crinkett has
never asked for money as a bribe to hold his tongue. In a matter of
trade between them and you, you were very successful; they were very
unfortunate. A man asking for restitution in such circumstances will
hardly be regarded as dishonest.'

It was to no purpose that Caldigate declared that he would willingly
have remitted a portion of the money had he known the true
circumstances. He had not done so, and now the accusation was made. The
jury, feeling that the application had been justifiable, would probably
keep the two things distinct. That was Mr. Seely's view; and thus, in
these days, Caldigate gradually came to hate Mr. Seely. There was no
comfort to be had from Mr. Seely.

Mr. Bromley was much more comfortable, though, unfortunately, in such a
matter less to be trusted.

'As to the minister's handwriting,' he said, 'that will go for nothing.
Even if he had written the note----'

'Which he didn't,' said Caldigate.

'Exactly. But should it be believed to have been his, it would prove
nothing. And as to the envelope, I cannot think that any jury would
disturb the happiness of a family on such evidence as that. It all
depends on the credibility of the people who swear that they were
present; and I can only say that were I one of the jury, and were the
case brought before me as I see it now, I certainly should not believe
them. There is here one letter to you, declaring that if you will comply
with her demands, she will not annoy you, and declaring also her
purpose of marrying some one else. How can any juryman believe her after
that?'

'Mr. Seely says that twelve men will not be less likely to think me a
bigamist because she has expressed her readiness to commit bigamy; that,
if alone, she would not have a leg to stand upon, but that she is amply
corroborated; whereas I have not been able to find a single witness to
support me. It seems to me that in this way any man might be made the
victim of a conspiracy.'

Then Mr. Bromley said that all that would be too patent to a jury to
leave any doubt upon the matter. But John Caldigate himself, though he
took great comfort in the society of the clergyman, did in truth rely
rather on the opinion of the lawyer.

The old squire never doubted his son for a moment, and in his
intercourse with Hester showed her all the tenderness and trust of a
loving parent. But he, too, manifestly feared the verdict of a jury.
According to him, things in the world around him generally were
very bad. What was to be expected from an ordinary jury such as
Cambridgeshire would supply but prejudice, thick-headed stupidity,
or at the best a strict obedience to the dictum of a judge. 'It is a
case,' he said, 'in which no jury about here will have sense enough to
understand and weigh the facts. There will be on one side the evidence
of four people, all swearing the same thing. It may be that one or more
of them will break down under cross-examination, and that all will then
be straight. But if not, the twelve men in a box will believe them
because they are four, not understanding that in such a case four may
conspire as easily as two or three. There will be the Judge, no doubt;
but English judges are always favourable to convictions. The Judge
begins with the idea that the man before him would hardly have been
brought there had he not been guilty.'

In all this, and very much more that he said both to Mr. Bromley and
his son, he was expressing his contempt for the world around him rather
than any opinion of his own on this particular matter. 'I often think,'
said he, 'that we have to bear more from the stupidity than from the
wickedness of the world.'

It should be mentioned that about a week after Hester's escape from
Chesterton there came to her a letter from her mother.


    'DEAREST HESTER,--You do not think that I do not love you because
    I tried to protect you from what I believe to be sin and evil and
    temptation? You do not think that I am less your mother because I
    caused you suffering? If your eye offend you, pluck it out. Was I
    not plucking out my own eye when I caused pain to you? You ought to
    come back to me and your father. You ought to do so even now. But
    whether you come back or not, will you not remember that I am the
    mother who bore you, and have always loved you? And when further
    distress shall come upon you, will you not return to me?--Your
    unhappy but most loving Mother,

    'MARY BOLTON.'


In answer to this Hester, in a long letter, acknowledged her mother's
love, and said that the memory of those two days at Chesterton should
lessen neither her affection nor her filial duty; but, she went on to
say that, in whatever distress might come upon her, she should turn to
her husband for comfort and support, whether he should be with her, or
whether he should be away from her. 'But,' she added, concluding her
letter, 'beyond my husband and my child, you and papa will always be
the dearest to me.'



Chapter XXXVIII

Bollum



There was not much to enliven the house at Folking during these days.
Caldigate would pass much of his time walking about the place, applying
his mind as well as he could to the farm, and holding up his head among
the tenants, with whom he was very popular. He had begun his reign over
them with hands not only full but free. He had drained, and roofed, and
put up gates, and repaired roads, and shown himself to be an active man,
anxious to do good. And now in his trouble they were very true to him.
But their sympathy could not ease the burden at his heart. Though by his
words and deeds among them he seemed to occupy himself fully, there was
a certain amount of pretence in every effort that he made. He was always
affecting a courage in which he felt himself to be deficient. Every
smile was false. Every brave word spoken was an attempt at deceit. When
alone in his walks,--and he was mostly alone,--his mind would fix itself
on his great trouble, and on the crushing sorrow which might only too
probably fall upon that loved one whom he had called his wife. Oh, with
what regret now did he think of the good advice which the captain had
given him on board the Goldfinder, and of the sententious, timid wisdom
of Mrs. Callender! Had she,--his Hester, ever uttered to him one word of
reproach,--had she ever shuddered in his sight when he had acknowledged
that the now odious woman had in that distant land been in his own
hearing called by his own name,--it would have been almost better. Her
absolute faith added a sting to his sufferings.

Then, as he walked alone about the estate, he would endeavour to think
whether there might not yet be some mode of escape,--whether something
might not be done to prevent his having to stand in the dock and abide
the uncertain verdict of a jury. With Mr. Seely he was discontented.
Mr. Seely seemed to be opposed to any great effort,--would simply trust
to the chance of snatching little advantages in the Court. He had money
at command, if fifty thousand pounds,--if double that sum,--would have
freed him from this trouble, he thought that he could have raised it,
and was sure that he would willingly pay it. Twenty thousand pounds two
months since, when Crinkett appeared at the christening would have sent
these people away. The same sum, no doubt, would send them away now.
But then the arrangement might have been possible. But now,--how was
it now? Could it still be done? Then the whole thing might have been
hidden, buried in darkness. Now it was already in the mouths of all
men. But still, if these witnesses were made to disappear,--if this
woman herself by whom the charge was made would take herself away--then
the trial must be abandoned. There would be a whispering of evil,--or,
too probably, the saying of evil without whispering. A terrible injury
would have been inflicted upon her and his boy;--but the injury would
be less than that which he now feared.

And there was present to him through all this a feeling that the money
ought to be paid independently of the accusation brought against him.
Had he known at first all that he knew now,--how he had taken their all
from these people, and how they had failed absolutely in the last great
venture they had made,--he would certainly have shared their loss with
them. He would have done all that Crinkett had suggested to him when he
and Crinkett were walking along the dike. Crinkett had said that on
receiving twenty thousand pounds he would have gone back to Australia,
and would have taken a wife with him! That offer had been quite
intelligible, and if carried out would have put an end to all trouble.
But he had mismanaged that interview. He had been too proud, too
desirous not to seem to buy off a threatening enemy. Now, as the trouble
pressed itself more closely upon him,--upon him and his Hester,--he
would so willingly buy off his enemy if it were possible! 'They ought to
have the money,' he said to himself; 'if only I could contrive that it
should be paid to them.'

One day as he was entering the house by a side door, Darvell the
gardener told him that there was a gentleman waiting to see him. The
gentleman was very anxious to see him, and had begged to be allowed to
sit down. Darvell, when asked whether the gentleman was a gentleman,
expressed an affirmative opinion. He had been driven over from Cambridge
in a hired gig, which was now standing in the yard, and was dressed, as
Darvell expressed it, 'quite accordingly and genteel.' So Caldigate
passed into the house and found the man seated in the dining-room.

'Perhaps you will step into my study?' said Caldigate. Thus the two men
were seated together in the little room which Caldigate used for his
own purposes.

Caldigate, as he looked at the man, distrusted his gardener's judgment.
The coat and hat and gloves, even the whiskers and head of hair, might
have belonged to a gentleman; but not, as he thought, the mouth or the
eyes or the hands. And when the man began to speak there was a mixture
of assurance and intended complaisance, an effected familiarity and an
attempt at ease, which made the master of the house quite sure that his
guest was not all that Darvell had represented. The man soon told his
story. His name was Bollum, Richard Bollum, and he had connections
with Australia;--was largely concerned in Australian gold-mines. When
Caldigate heard this, he looked round involuntarily to see whether the
door was closed. 'We're tiled, of course,' said Bollum. Caldigate with
a frown nodded his head, and Bollum went on. He hadn't come there,
he said, to speak of some recent troubles of which he had heard. He
wasn't the man to shove his nose into other people's matters. It was
nothing to him who was married to whom. Caldigate shivered, but sat
and listened in silence. But Mr. Bollum had had dealings,--many
dealings,--with Timothy Crinkett. Indeed he was ready to say that
Timothy Crinkett was his uncle. He was not particularly proud of his
uncle, but nevertheless Timothy Crinkett was his uncle. Didn't Mr.
Caldigate think that something ought to be done for Timothy Crinkett?

'Yes, I do,' said Caldigate, finding himself compelled to say something
at the moment, and feeling that he could say so much with positive
truth.

Then Bollum continued his story, showing that he knew all the
circumstances of Polyeuka. 'It was hard on them, wasn't it, Mr.
Caldigate?'

'I think it was.'

'Every rap they had among them, Mr. Caldigate! You left them as bare as
the palm of my hand!'

'It was not my doing. I simply made him an offer, which every one at the
time believed to be liberal.'

'Just so. We grants all that. But still you got all their money;--old
pals of yours too, as they say out there.'

'It is a matter of most intense regret to me. As soon as I knew the
circumstances, Mr. Bollum, I should have been most happy to have divided
the loss with them--'

'That's it,--that's it. That's what'd be right between man and man,'
said Mr. Bollum, interrupting him.

'Had no other subject been introduced.'

'I know nothing about other subjects. I haven't come here to meddle with
other subjects. I'm, as it were, a partner of Crinkett's. Any way, I am
acting as his agent. I'm quite above board, Mr. Caldigate, and in what
I say I mean to stick to my own business and not go beyond it. Twenty
thousand pounds is what we ask,--so that we and you may share the loss.
You agree to that?'

'I should have agreed to it two months since,' said Caldigate, fearing
that he might be caught in a trap,--anxious to do nothing mean, unfair,
or contrary to the law,--craving in his heart after the bold, upright
conduct of a thoroughly honourable English gentleman, and yet desirous
also to use, if it might be used, the instrumentality of this man.

'And why not now? You see,' said Bollum, becoming a little more
confidential, 'how difficult it is for me to speak. Things ain't
altered. You've got the money. They've lost the money. There isn't any
ill-will, Mr. Caldigate. As for Crinkett, he's a rough diamond, of
course. What am I to say about the lady?'

'I don't see that you need say anything.'

'That's just it. Of course she's one of them. That's all. If there is to
be money, she'll have her share. He's an old fool, and perhaps they'll
make a match of it.' As he said this he winked. 'At any rate they'll be
off to Australia together. And what I propose is this, Mr. Caldigate--'
Then he paused.

'What do you propose?'

'Make the money payable in bills to their joint order at Sydney. They
don't want to be wasting any more time here. They'll start at once. This
is the 12th April, isn't it? Tuesday the 12th?' Caldigate assented. 'The
old Goldfinder leaves Plymouth this day week.' From this he was sure
that Bollum had heard all the story from Euphemia Smith herself, or he
would not have talked of the 'old' Goldfinder. 'Let them have the bills
handed to them on board, and they'll go. Let me have the duplicates
here. You can remit the money by July to your agents,--to take up the
bills when due. Just let me be with you when the order is given to your
banker in London, and everything will be done. It's as easy as kiss.'

Caldigate sat silent, turning it over in his own mind, trying to
determine what would be best. Here was another opportunity. But it was
one as to which he must come to a decision on the spur of the moment. He
must deal with the man now or never. The twenty thousand pounds were
nothing. Had there been no question about his wife, he would have paid
the money, moved by that argument as to his 'old pals,'--by the
conviction that the result of his dealing with them had in truth been to
leave them 'as bare as the palm of his hand.' They were welcome to the
money; and if by giving the money he could save his Hester, how great a
thing it would be! Was it not his duty to make the attempt? And yet
there was in his bosom a strong aversion to have any secret dealing with
such a man as this,--to have any secret dealing in such a matter. To buy
off witnesses in order that his wife's name and his boy's legitimacy
might be half,--only half,--established! For even though these people
should be made absolutely to vanish, though the sea should swallow them,
all that had been said would be known, and too probably believed for
ever!

And then, too, he was afraid. If he did this thing alone, without
counsel, would he not be putting himself into the hands of these
wretches? Might he not be almost sure that when they had gotten his
money they would turn upon him and demand more? Would not the payment of
the money be evidence against him to any jury? Would it be possible to
make judge or jury believe, to make even a friend believe, that in such
an emergency he had paid away so large a sum of money because he had
felt himself bound to do so by his conscience?

'Well, squire,' said Bollum, 'I think you see your way through it; don't
you?'

'I don't regard the money in the least. They would be welcome to the
money.'

'That's a great point, anyway.'

'But--'

'Ay; but! You're afraid they wouldn't go. You come down to Plymouth, and
don't put the bills into their hands or mine till the vessel is under
weigh, with them aboard. Then you and I will step into the boat, and be
back ashore. When they know the money's been deposited at a bank in
London, they'll trust you as far as that. The Goldfinder won't put back
again when she's once off. Won't that make it square?'

'I was thinking of something else.'

'Well, yes; there's that trial a-coming on; isn't there?'

'These people have conspired together to tell the basest lie.'

'I know nothing about that, Mr. Caldigate. I haven't got so much as an
opinion. People tell me that all the things look very strong on their
side.'

'Liars sometimes are successful.'

'You can be quit of them,--and pay no more than what you say you
kind of owes. I should have thought Crinkett might have asked forty
thousand; but Crinkett, though he's rough,--I do own he's rough,--but
he's honest after a fashion. Crinkett wants to rob no man; but he feels
it hard when he's got the better of. Lies, or no lies, can you do
better?'

'I should like to see my lawyer first,' said Caldigate almost panting in
his anxiety.

'What lawyer? I hate lawyers.'

'Mr. Seely. My case is in his hands, and I should have to tell him.'

'Tell him when you come back from Plymouth, and hold your peace till
that's done. No good can come of lawyers in such a matter as this. You
might as well tell the town-crier. Why should he want to put bread out
of his own mouth? And if there is a chance of hard words being said,
why should he hear them? He'll work for his money, no doubt; but what
odds is it to him whether your lady is to be called Mrs. Caldigate or
Miss Bolton? He won't have to go to prison. His boy won't be!--you know
what.' This was terrible, but yet it was all so true! 'I'll tell you
what it is, squire. We can't make it lighter by talking about it all
round. I used to do a bit of hunting once; and I never knew any good
come of asking what there was the other side of the fence. You've got to
have it, or you've got to leave it alone. That's just where you are. Of
course it isn't nice.'

'I don't mind the money.'

'Just so. But it isn't nice for a swell like you to have to hand it over
to such a one as Crinkett just as the ship's starting, and then to bolt
ashore along with me. The odds are, it is all talked about. Let's own
all that. But then it's not nice to have to hear a woman swear that
she's your wife, when you've got another,--specially when she's got
three men as can swear the same. It ain't nice for you to have me
sitting here. I'm well aware of that. There's the choice of evils. You
know what that means. I'm a-putting it about as fair as a man can put
anything. It's a pity you didn't stump up the money before. But it's not
altogether quite too late yet.'

'I'll give you an answer to-morrow, Mr. Bollum.'

'I must be in town to-night.'

'I will be with you in London to-morrow if you will give me an address.
All that you have said is true; but I cannot do this thing without
thinking of it.'

'You'll come alone?'

'Yes,--alone.'

'As a gentleman?'

'On my word as a gentleman I will come alone.'

Then Bollum gave him an address,--not the place at which he resided, but
a certain coffee-house in the City, at which he was accustomed to make
appointments. 'And don't you see any lawyer,' said Bollum, shaking his
finger. 'You can't do any good that way. It stands to reason that no
lawyer would let you pay twenty thousand pounds to get out of any
scrape. He and you have different legs to stand upon.' Then Mr. Bollum
went away, and was driven back in his gig to the Cambridge Hotel.

As soon as the front door was closed Hester hurried down to her husband,
whom she found still in the hall. He took her into his own room, and
told her everything that had passed,--everything, as accurately as he
could. 'And remember,' he said, 'though I do not owe them money, that I
feel bound by my conscience to refund them so much. I should do it, now
I know the circumstances, if no charge had been brought against me.'

'They have perjured themselves, and have been so wicked.'

'Yes, they have been very wicked.'

'Let them come and speak the truth, and then let them have the money.'

'They will not do that, Hester.'

'Prove them to be liars, and then give it to them.'

'My own girl, I am thinking of you.'

'And I of you. Shall it be said of you that you bought off those who had
dared to say that your wife was not your wife? I would not do that. What
if the people in the Court should believe what they say?'

'It would be bad for you, then, dearest.'

'But I should still be your wife. And baby would still be your own, own
honest boy. I am sometimes unhappy, but I am never afraid. Let the devil
do his worst, but never speak him fair. I would scorn them till it is
all over. Then, if money be due to them, let them have it.' As she said
this, she had drawn herself a little apart from him,--a little away from
the arm which had been round her waist, and was looking him full in the
face. Never before, even during the soft happiness of their bridal
tour, had she seemed to him to be so handsome.

But her faith, her courage, and her beauty did not alter the
circumstances of the case. Because she trusted him, he was not the less
afraid of the jury who would have to decide, or of the judge, who, with
stern eyes, would probably find himself compelled to tell the jury that
the evidence against the prisoner was overwhelming. In choosing what
might be best to be done on her account, he could not allow himself to
be guided by her spirit. The possibility that the whole gang of them
might be made to vanish was present to his mind. Nor could he satisfy
himself that in doing as had been proposed to him he would be speaking
the devil fair. He would be paying money which he ought to pay, and
would perhaps be securing his wife's happiness.

He had promised, at any rate, that he would see the man in London on the
morrow, and that he would see him alone. But he had not promised not to
speak on the subject to his attorney. Therefore, after much thought, he
wrote to Mr. Seely to make an appointment for the next morning, and then
told his wife that he would have to go to London on the following day.

'Not to buy those men off?' she said.

'Whatever is done will be done by the advice of my lawyer,' he said,
peevishly. 'You may be sure that I am anxious enough to do the best.
When one has to trust to a lawyer, one is bound to trust to him.' This
seemed to be so true that Hester could say nothing against it.



Chapter XXXIX

Restitution



He had still the whole night to think about it,--and throughout the
whole night he was thinking about it. He had fixed a late hour in the
afternoon for his appointment in London, so that he might have an hour
or two in Cambridge before he started by the mid-day train. It was
during his drive into the town that he at last made up his mind that he
would not satisfy himself with discussing the matter with Mr. Seely, but
that he would endeavour to explain it all to Robert Bolton. No doubt
Robert Bolton was now his enemy, as were all the Boltons. But the
brother could not but be anxious for his sister's name and his sister's
happiness. If a way out of all this misery could be seen, it would be a
way out of misery for the Boltons as well as for the Caldigates. If only
he could make the attorney believe that Hester was in truth his wife,
still, even yet, there might be assistance on that side. But he went to
Mr. Seely first, the hour of his appointment requiring that it should be
so.

But Mr. Seely was altogether opposed to any arrangement with Mr. Bollum.
'No good was ever done,' he said, 'by buying off witnesses. The thing
itself is disreputable, and would to a certainty be known to every one.'

'I should not buy them off. I regard the money as their own. I will give
Crinkett the money and let him go or stay as he pleases. When giving him
the money, I will tell him that he may do as he pleases.'

'You would only throw your money away. You would do much worse than
throw it away. Their absence would not prevent the trial. The Boltons
will take care of that.'

'They cannot want to injure their own side, Mr. Seely.'

'They want to punish you, and to take her away. They will take care that
the trial shall go on. And when it was proved, as it would be proved,
that you had given these people a large sum of money, and had so secured
their absence, do you think that the jury would refuse to believe their
sworn depositions and whatever other evidence would remain? The fact of
your having paid them money would secure a verdict against you. The
thing would, in my mind, be so disreputable that I should have to throw
up the case. I could not defend you.'

It was clear to him that Bollum had understood his own side of the
question in deprecating any reference to an attorney. The money should
have been paid and the four witnesses sent away without a word to any
one,--if any attempt in that direction were made at all. Nevertheless he
went to Robert Bolton's office and succeeded in obtaining an interview
with his wife's brother. But here, as with the other attorney he failed
to make the man understand the state of his own mind. He had failed in
the same way even with his wife. If it were fit that the money should be
paid, it could not be right that he should retain it because the people
to whom it was due had told lies about him. And if this could be
explained to the jury, surely the jury would not give a verdict against
him on insufficient evidence, simply because he had done his duty in
paying the money!

Robert Bolton listened to him with patience and without any quick
expression of hot anger; though before the interview was over he had
used some very cruel words. 'We should think ourselves bound to prevent
their going, if possible.'

'Of course; I have no idea of going down to Plymouth as the man
proposed, or of taking any steps to secure their absence.'

'Your money is your own, and you can do what you like with it. It
certainly is not for me to advise you. If you tell me that you are going
to pay it, I can only say that I shall look very sharp after them.'

'Why should you want to ruin your sister?'

'You have ruined her. That is our idea. We desire now to rescue her as
far as we can from further evil. You have opposed us in every endeavour
that we have made. When in the performance of a manifest duty we
endeavoured to separate you till after the trial, you succeeded in
thwarting us by your influence.'

'I left it to her.'

'Had you been true and honest and upright, you would have known that as
long as there was a doubt she ought to have been away from you.'

'I should have sent her away?'

'Certainly.'

'So as to create a doubt in her mind, so as to disturb her peace, so as
to make her think that I, having been found out, was willing to be rid
of her? It would have killed her.'

'Better so than this.'

'And yet I am as truly her husband as you are the husband of your wife.
If you would only teach yourself to think that possible, then you would
feel differently.'

'Not as to a temporary separation.'

'If you believed me, you would,' said Caldigate.

'But I do not believe you. In a matter like this, as you will come to
me, I must be plain. I do not believe you. I think that you have
betrayed and seduced my sister. Looking at all the evidence and at your
own confession, I can come to no other conclusion. I have discussed the
matter with my brother, who is a clear, cool-headed, most judicious man,
and he is of the same opinion. In our own private court we have brought
you in guilty,--guilty of an offence against us all which necessarily
makes us as bitter against you as one man can be against another. You
have destroyed our sister, and now you come here and ask me my advice
as to buying off witnesses.'

'It is all untrue. As there is a God above me I am her loyal, loving
husband. I will buy off no witness.'

'If I were you I would make no such attempt. It will do no good. I do
not think that you have a chance of being acquitted,--not a chance; and
then how much worse it will be for Hester when she finds herself still
in your house!'

'She will remain there.'

'Even she will feel that to be impossible. Your influence will then
probably be removed, and I presume that for a time you will have no
home. But we need not discuss that. As you are here, I should not do my
duty were I not to assure you that as far as we are concerned,--Hester's
family,--nothing shall be spared either in trouble or money to insure
the conviction and punishment of the man whom we believe to have brought
upon us so terrible a disgrace.'

Caldigate, when he got out into the street, felt that he was driven
almost to despair. At first he declared to himself, most untruly, that
there was no one to believe him,--no, not one. Then he remembered how
faithful was his wife; and as he did so, in his misery, he told himself
that it might have been better for her had she been less faithful.
Looking at it all as he now looked at it, after hearing the words of
that hard man, he almost thought that it would have been so. Everybody
told him that he would be condemned; and if so, what would be the fate
of that poor young mother and her child? It was very well for her to
declare, with her arms round his neck, that even should he be dragged
away to prison, she would still be his true wife, and that she would
wait,--in sorrow indeed and mourning, but still with patience,--till the
cruel jailers and the harsh laws had restored him to her. If the law
declared him a bigamist, she could not then be his wife. The law must
decide,--whether rightly or wrongly, still must decide. And then how
could they live together? An evil done must be endured, let it be ever
so unendurable. But against fresh evils a man may guard. Was it not his
duty, his manifest, his chief duty, to save her, as far as she could be
saved, from further suffering and increased disgrace? Perhaps, after
all, Robert Bolton was right when he told him that he ought to have
allowed Hester to remain at Chesterton.

Whatever he might do when he got to London, he felt it to be his duty to
go up and keep his appointment with Bollum. And he brought with him from
home securities and certificates for stock by which he knew that he
could raise the sum named at a moment's warning, should he at last
decide upon paying the money. When he got into the train, and when he
got out of the train, he was still in doubt. Those to whom he had gone
for advice had been so hard to him, that he felt himself compelled to
put on one side all that they had said. Bollum had suggested, in his
graphic manner, that a lawyer and his client stood upon different legs.
Caldigate acknowledged to himself that Bollum was right. His own lawyer
had been almost as hard to him as his brother-in-law, who was his
declared enemy. But what should he do? As to precautions to be taken in
reference to the departure of the gang, all that was quite out of the
question. They should go to Australia or stay behind, as they pleased.
There should be no understanding that they were to go--or even that they
were to hold their tongues because the money was paid to them. It should
be fully explained to them that the two things were distinct. Then as he
was taken to the inn at which he intended to sleep that night, he made
up his mind in the cab that he would pay the money to Crinkett.

He got to London just in time to reach the bank before it was closed,
and there made his arrangements. He deposited his documents and
securities, and was assured that the necessary sum should be placed to
his credit on the following day. Then he walked across a street or two
in the City to the place indicated by Bollum for the appointment. It was
at the Jericho Coffee House, in Levant Court,--a silent, secluded spot,
lying between Lombard Street and Cornhill. Here he found himself ten
minutes before the time, and, asking for a cup of coffee, sat down at a
table fixed to the ground in a little separate box. The order was given
to a young woman at a bar in the room. Then an ancient waiter hobbled up
to him and explained that coffee was not quite ready. In truth, coffee
was not often asked for at the Jericho Coffee House. The house, said the
waiter, was celebrated for its sherry. Would he take half a pint of
sherry? So he ordered the sherry, which was afterwards drunk by Bollum.

Bollum came, punctual to the moment, and seated himself at the table
with good-humoured alacrity. 'Well, Mr. Caldigate, how is it to be? I
think you must have seen that what I have proposed will be for the
best.'

'I will tell you what I mean to do, Mr. Bollum,' said Caldigate, very
gravely. 'It cannot be said that I owe Mr. Crinkett a shilling.'

'Certainly not. But it comes very near owing, doesn't it?'

'So near that I mean to pay it.'

'That's right.'

'So near that I don't like to feel that I have got his money in my
pocket. As far as money goes, I have been a fortunate man.'

'Wonderful!' said Bollum, enthusiastically.

'And as I was once in partnership with your uncle, I do not like to
think that I enriched myself by a bargain which impoverished him.'

'It ain't nice, is it,--that you should have it all, and he nothing?'

'Feeling that very strongly,' continued Caldigate, merely shaking his
head in token of displeasure at Bollum's interruption, 'I have
determined to repay Mr. Crinkett an amount that seems to me to be fair.
He shall have back twenty thousand pounds.'

'He's a lucky fellow, and he'll be off like a shot;--like a shot.'

'He and others have conspired to rob me of all my happiness, thinking
that they might so most probably get this money from me. They have
invented a wicked lie,--a wicked damnable lie,--a damnable lie! They are
miscreants,--foul miscreants!'

'Come, come, Mr. Caldigate.'

'Foul miscreants! But they shall have their money, and you shall hear me
tell them when I give it to them,--and they must both be here to take it
from my hands,--that I do not at all require their absence. There is to
be no bargain between us. They are free to remain and swear their false
oaths against me. Whether they go or whether they stay will be no affair
of mine.'

'They'll go, of course, Mr. Caldigate.'

'Not at my instance. I will take care that that shall be known. They
must both come; and into their joint hands will I give the cheque, and
they must come prepared with a receipt declaring that they accept the
money as restitution of the loss incurred by them in purchasing the
Polyeuka mine from me. Do you understand? And I shall bring a witness
with me to see them take the money.' Bollum who was considerably
depressed by his companion's manner, said that he did understand.

'I suppose I can have a private room here, at noon to-morrow?' asked
Caldigate, turning to the woman at the bar.

When that was settled he assured Bollum that a cheque for the amount
should be placed in the joint hands of Timothy Crinkett and Euphemia
Smith if he, and they with him, would be there at noon on the following
day. Bollum in vain attempted to manage the payment without the
personal interview, but at last agreed that the man and the woman should
be forthcoming.

That night Caldigate dined at his Club, one of the University Clubs, at
which he had been elected just at the time of his marriage. He had
seldom been there, but now walked into the dinner-room, resolving that
he would not be ashamed to show himself. He fancied that everybody
looked at him, and probably there were some present who knew that he was
about to stand his trial for bigamy. But he got his dinner, and smoked
his cigar; and before the evening was over he had met an old College
friend. He was in want of a friend, and explained his wants. He told
something of his immediate story, and then asked the man to be present
at the scene on the morrow.

'I must have a witness, Gray,' said he, 'and you will do me a kindness
if you will come.' Then Mr. Gray promised to be present on the occasion.

On the following morning he met Gray at the Club, having the cheque
ready in his pocket, and together they proceeded to Levant Court. Again
he was a little before his time, and the two sat together in the gloomy
little room up-stairs. Bollum was the first to come, and when he saw the
stranger, was silent,--thinking whether it might not be best to escape
and warn Crinkett and the woman that all might not be safe. But the
stranger did not look like a detective; and, as he told himself, why
should there be danger? So he waited, and in a few minutes Crinkett
entered the room, with the woman veiled.

'Well, Caldigate,' said Crinkett, 'how is it with you?'

'If you please, Mrs. Smith,' said Caldigate, 'I must ask you to remove
your veil,--so that I may be sure that it is you.'

She removed her veil very slowly, and then stood looking him in the
face,--not full in the face, for she could not quite raise her eyes to
meet his. And though she made an effort to brazen it out, she could not
quite succeed. She attempted to raise her head, and carry herself with
pride; but every now and again there was a slight quiver,--slight, but
still visible. The effort, too, was visible. But there she stood,
looking at him, and to be looked at,--but without a word. During the
whole interview she never once opened her lips.

She had lost all her comeliness. It was now nearly seven years since
they two had been on the Goldfinder together, and then he had found her
very attractive. There was no attraction now. She was much aged; and her
face was coarse, as though she had taken to drinking. But there was
still about her something of that look of intellect which had captivated
him more, perhaps, than her beauty. Since those days she had become a
slave to gold,--and such slavery is hardly compatible with good looks in
a woman. There she stood,--ready to listen to him, ready to take his
money, but determined not to utter a word.

Then he took the cheque out of his pocket, and holding it in his hand,
spoke to them as follows: 'I have explained to Mr. Bollum, and have
explained to my friend here, Mr. Gray, the reasons which induce me to
pay to you, Timothy Crinkett, and to you, Euphemia Smith, the large sum
of twenty thousand pounds. The nature of our transactions has been such
that I feel bound in honour to repay so much of the price you paid for
the Polyeuka mine.'

'All right, Caldigate; all right,' said Crinkett.

'And I have explained also to both of them that this payment has nothing
whatever to do with the base, false, and most wicked charge which you
are bringing against me. It is not because that woman, by a vile
perjury, claims me as her husband, and because I wish to buy her silence
or his, that I make this restitution. I restore the money of my own free
will, without any base bargain. You can go on with your perjury or
abstain from it, as you may think best.'

'We understand, squire,' said Crinkett, affecting to laugh. 'You hand
over the money,--that's all.' Then the woman looked round at her
companion, and a frown came across her face; but she said nothing,
turning her face again upon Caldigate, and endeavouring to keep her eyes
steadfastly fixed upon him.

'Have you brought a receipt signed by both of you?' Then Bollum handed
him a receipt signed 'Timothy Crinkett, for self and partners.' But
Caldigate demanded that the woman also should sign it.

'There is a difficulty about the name, you see,' said Bollum. There was
a difficulty about the name, certainly. It would not be fair, he
thought, that he should force her to the use of a name she disowned, and
he did not wish to be hindered from what he was doing by her persistency
in calling herself by his own name.

'So be it,' said he. 'There is the cheque. Mr. Gray will see that I put
it into both their hands.' This he did, each of them stretching out a
hand to take it. 'And now you can go where you please and act as you
please. You have combined to rob me of all that I value most by the
basest of lies; but not on that account have I abstained from doing what
I believe to be an act of justice.' Then he left the room, and paying
for the use of it to the woman at the bar, walked off with his friend
Gray, leaving Crinkett, Bollum, and the woman still within the house.



Chapter XL

Waiting For The Trial



As he returned to Cambridge Caldigate was not altogether contented
with himself. He tried to persuade himself, in reference to the money
which he had refunded, that in what he had done he had not at all
been actuated by the charge made against him. Had there been no such
accusation he would have felt himself bound to share the loss with
these people as soon as he had learned the real circumstances. The
money had been a burden to him. For the satisfaction of his own honour,
of his own feelings, it had become necessary that the money should be
refunded. And the need of doing so was not lessened by the fact that
a base conspiracy had been made by a gang of villains who had thought
that the money might thus be most readily extracted from him. That was
his argument with himself, and his defence for what he had done. But
nevertheless he was aware that he had been driven to do it now,--to
pay the money at this special moment,--by an undercurrent of hope that
these enemies would think it best for themselves to go as soon as they
had his money in their hands. He wished to be honest, he wished to be
honourable, he wished that all that he did could be what the world
calls 'above board'; but still it was so essential for him and for his
wife that they should go! He had been very steady in assuring these
wretched ones that they might go or stay, as they pleased. He had been
careful that there should be a credible witness of his assurance. He
might succeed in making others believe that he had not attempted to
purchase their absence; but he could not make himself believe it.

Even though a jury should not convict him, there was so much in his
Australian life which would not bear the searching light of
cross-examination! The same may probably be said of most of us. In such
trials as this that he was anticipating, there is often a special
cruelty in the exposure of matters which are for the most part happily
kept in the background. A man on some occasion inadvertently takes a
little more wine than is good for him. It is an accident most uncommon
with him, and nobody thinks much about it. But chance brings the case
to the notice of the police courts, and the poor victim is published to
the world as a drunkard in the columns of all the newspapers. Some young
girl fancies herself in love, and the man is unworthy. The feeling
passes away, and none but herself, and perhaps her mother, are the
wiser. But if by some chance, some treachery, a letter should get
printed and read, the poor girl's punishment is so severe that she is
driven to wish herself in the grave.

He had been foolish, very foolish, as we have seen, on board the
Goldfinder,--and wicked too. There could be no doubt about that. When it
would all come out in this dreaded trial he would be quite unable to
defend himself. There was enough to enable Mrs. Bolton to point at him
with a finger of scorn as a degraded sinner. And yet,--yet there had
been nothing which he had not dared to own to his wife in the secrecy of
their mutual confidence, and which, in secret, she had not been able to
condone without a moment's hesitation. He had been in love with the
woman,--in love after a fashion. He had promised to marry her. He had
done worse than that. And then, when he had found that the passion for
gold was strong upon her, he had bought his freedom from her. The story
would be very bad as told in Court, and yet he had told it all to his
wife! She had admitted his excuse when he had spoken of the savageness
of his life, of the craving which a man would feel for some feminine
society, of her undoubted cleverness, and then of her avarice. And then
when he swore that through it all he had still loved her,--her, Hester
Bolton,--whom he had but once seen, but whom, having seen, he had never
allowed to pass out of his mind, she still believed him, and thought
that the holiness of that love had purified him. She believed him;--but
who else would believe him? Of course he was most anxious that those
people should go.

Before he left London he wrote both to Mr. Seely and to Robert Bolton,
saying what he had done. The letter to his own attorney was long and
full. He gave an account in detail of the whole matter, declaring that
he would not allow himself to be hindered from paying a debt which he
believed to be due, by the wickedness of those to whom it was owing.
'The two things have nothing to do with each other,' he said, 'and if
you choose to throw up my defence, of course you can do so. I cannot
allow myself to be debarred from exercising my own judgment in another
matter because you think that what I decide upon doing may not tally
with your views as to my defence.' To Robert Bolton he was much shorter.
'I think you ought to know what I have done,' he said; 'at any rate, I
do not choose that you should be left in ignorance.' Mr. Seely took no
notice of the communication, not feeling himself bound to carry out his
threat by withdrawing his assistance from his client. But Robert and
William Bolton agreed to have Crinkett's movements watched by a
detective policeman. They were both determined that if possible Crinkett
and the woman should be kept in the country.

In these days the old Squire made many changes in his residence,
vacillating between his house in Cambridge and the house at Folking. His
books were at Cambridge, and he could not have them brought back; and
yet he felt that he ought to evince his constancy to his son, his
conviction of his son's innocence, by remaining at Folking. And he was
aware, too, that his presence there was a comfort both to his son and
Hester. When John Caldigate had gone up to London, his father had been
in Cambridge, but on his return he found the old Squire at his old house.
'Yes,' he said, telling the story of what he had just done, 'I have paid
twenty thousand pounds out of hand to those rascals, simply because I
thought I owed it to them!' The Squire shook his head, not being able
to approve of the act.' I don't see why I should have allowed myself to
be hindered from doing what I thought to be right because they were
doing what they knew to be wrong.'

'They won't go, you know.'

'I daresay not, sir. Why should they?'

'But the jury will believe that you intended to purchase their absence.'

'I think I have made all that clear.'

'I am afraid not, John. The man applied to you for the money, and was
refused. That was the beginning of it. Then the application was repeated
by the woman with a threat; and you again refused. Then they present
themselves to the magistrates, and make the accusation; and, upon that,
you pay the money. Of course it will come out at the trial that you paid
it immediately after this renewed application from Bollum. It would have
been better to have defied them.'

'I did defy them,' said John Caldigate. But all that his father said
seemed to him to be true, so that he repented himself of what he had
done.

He made no inquiry on the subject, but, early in May he heard from Mr.
Seely that Crinkett and the woman were still in London, and that they
had abandoned the idea of going at once to Australia. According to Mr.
Seely's story,--of the truth of which he declared himself to be by
no means certain,--Crinkett had wished to go, but had been retained
by the woman. 'As far as I can learn,' said Mr. Seely, 'she is in
communication with the Boltons, who will of course keep her if it be
possible. He would get off if he could; but she, I take it, has got
hold of the money. When you made the cheque payable to her order, you
effectually provided for their remaining here. If he could have got the
money without her name, he would have gone, and she would have gone
with him.'

'But that was not my object,' said Caldigate angrily. Mr. Seely
thereupon shrugged his shoulders. Early in June the man came back who
had been sent out to Sydney in February on behalf of Caldigate. He also
had been commissioned to seek for evidence, and to bring back with him,
almost at any cost, whatever witness or witnesses he might find whose
presence in England would serve Caldigate's cause. But he brought no
one, and had learned very little. He too had been at Ahalala and at
Nobble. At Nobble the people were now very full of the subject and were
very much divided in opinion. There were Crinketters and
anti-Crinketters, Caldigatites and anti-Caldigatites. A certain number
of persons were ready to swear that there had been a marriage, and an
equal number, perhaps, to swear that there had been none. But no new
fact had been brought to light. Dick Shand had not been found,--who had
been living with Caldigate when the marriage was supposed to have been
solemnised. Nor had that register been discovered from which the copy of
the certificate was supposed to have been taken. All through the
Colony,--so said this agent,--a very great interest was felt in the
matter. The newspapers from day to day contained paragraphs about it.
But nobody had appeared whom it was worth while to bring home. Mrs.
Henniker, of the hotel at Nobble, had offered to swear that there had
been no marriage. This offer she made and repeated when she had come to
understand accurately on whose behalf this last agent had come to the
Colony. But then, before she had understood this, she had offered to
swear the reverse; and it became known that she was very anxious to be
carried back to the old country free of expense. No credible witness
could be found who had heard Caldigate call the woman Mrs. Smith after
the date assigned to the marriage. She no doubt had used various names,
had called herself sometimes Mrs. Caldigate, sometimes Mrs. Smith, but
generally, in such documents as she had to sign in reference to her
mining shares, Euphemia Cettini. It was by that name that she had been
known in Sydney when performing on the stage, and it was now alleged on
her behalf that she had bought and sold shares in that name under the
idea that she would thus best secure to herself their separate and
undisturbed possession. Proof was brought home that Caldigate himself
had made over to her shares in that name; but Mr. Seely did not depend
much on this as proof against the marriage.

Mr. Seely seemed to depend very little on anything,--so little that
Caldigate almost wished that he had carried out his threat and thrown
up the case. 'Does he not believe you when you tell him?' his wife
asked. Caldigate was forced to confess that apparently the lawyer did
not believe him. In fact, Mr. Seely had even said as much. 'In such
cases a lawyer should never believe or disbelieve; or, if he does,
he should never speak of his belief. It is with your acquittal or
conviction that I am concerned, in which matter I can better assist you
by cool judgment than by any fervid assurance.' All this made Caldigate
not only angry but unhappy, for he could not fail to perceive that the
public around him were in the same mind as Mr. Seely. In his own parish
they believed him, but apparently not beyond his parish. It might be
possible that he should escape,--that seemed to be the general opinion;
but then general opinion went on to declare that there was no reason
for supposing that he had not married the woman merely because he said
that he had not done so.

Then gradually there fell upon poor Hester's mind a doubt,--and, after
that, almost a conviction. Not a doubt as to her husband's truth! No
suspicion on that score ever troubled her for a moment. But there came
upon her a fear, almost more than a fear, that these terrible enemies
would be strong enough to override the truth, and to carry with them
both a judge and a jury. As the summer months ran on, they all became
aware that for any purpose of removing the witnesses the money had been
paid in vain. Crinkett was living in all opulence at a hotel at
Brighton; and the woman, calling herself Mrs. Caldigate, had taken
furnished apartments in London. Rumour came that she was frequently seen
at the theatres, and that she had appeared more than once in an open
carriage in the parks. There was no doubt but that Caldigate's money had
made them very comfortable for the present. The whole story of the money
had been made public, and of course there were various opinions about
it. The prevailing idea was, that an attempt had been made to buy off
the first wife, but that the first wife had been clever enough to get
the money without having to go. Caldigate was thought to have been very
foolish; on which subject Bollum once expressed himself strongly to a
friend. 'Clever!' he said; 'Caldigate clever! The greatest idiot I ever
came across in my life! I'd made it quite straight for him,--so that
there couldn't have been a wrinkle. But he wouldn't have it. There are
men so soft that one can't understand 'em.' To do Bollum justice it
should be said that he was most anxious to induce his uncle and the
woman to leave the country when they had got the money.

Though very miserable, Hester was very brave. In the presence of her
husband she would never allow herself to seem to doubt. She would speak
of their marriage as a thing so holy that nothing within the power of
man could disturb it. Of course they were man and wife, and of course
the truth would at last prevail. Was not the Lord able, in His own good
time, to set all these matters right? And in discussing the matter with
him she would always seem to imply that the Lord's good time would be
the time of the trial. She would never herself hint to him that there
might be a period of separation coming. Though in secrecy she was
preparing for what might befall him, turning over in her woman's mind
how she might best relieve the agony of his jail, she let no sign
escape her that she looked forward to such misery. She let no such sign
escape her in her intercourse with him. But with his father she could
speak more freely. It had, indeed, come to be understood between her and
the old Squire, that it would be best that they should discuss the
matter openly. Arrangements must be made for their future life, so that
when the blow came they might not be unprepared. Hester declared that
nothing but positive want of shelter should induce her to go back to
Chesterton. 'They think him to be all that's bad,' she said. 'I know him
to be all that's good. How is it possible that we should live together?'
The old man had, of course, turned it over much in his mind. If it could
be true that that woman had in truth become his son's wife, and that
this dear, sweet, young mother had been deceived, betrayed, and cheated
out of her very existence, then that house at Folking could be no proper
home for her. Her grave would be best, but till that might be reached
any home would be better than Folking. But he was almost sure that it
was not so, and her confidence,--old as he was, and prone to be
suspicious,--made him confident.

When the moment came he could not doubt how he would answer her. He
could not crush her spirit by seeming for a moment to have a suspicion.
'Your home, of course, shall be here,' he said. 'It shall be your own
house.'

'And you?'

'It shall be my house too. If it should come to that, we will be, at any
rate, together. You shall not be left without a friend.'

'It is not for myself,' she said; 'but for his boy and for him;--what
will be best for them. I would take a cabin at the prison-gate, so as to
be nearest to him,--if it were only myself.' And so it was settled
between them, that should that great misery fall upon them, she would
remain at Folking and he would remain with her. Nothing that judge or
jury could do would deprive her of the right to occupy her husband's
house.

In this way the months of May and June and the first fortnight of July
wore themselves away, and then the time for the trial had come. Up to
the last it had been hoped that tidings might be heard either by letter
or telegram from Dick Shand; but it seemed that he had vanished from the
face of the earth. No suggestion of news as to his whereabouts was
received on which it might have been possible to found an argument for
the further postponement of the trial. Mr. Seely had been anxious for
such postponement,--perhaps thinking that as the hotel at Brighton and
the carriages in the park were expensive, Crinkett and the lady might
take their departure for Australia without saying a word to the lawyer
who had undertaken the prosecution. But there was no adequate ground for
delay, and on Tuesday the 17th July the trial was to be commenced. On
the previous day Caldigate, at his own request, was introduced to Sir
John Joram, who had been brought down special to Cambridge for his
defence. Mr. Seely had advised him not to see the barrister who was to
defend him, leaving it, however, quite at his option to do so or not as
he pleased. 'Sir John will see you, but I think he had rather not,' said
Mr. Seely. But Caldigate had chosen to have the interview. 'I have
thought it best to say just one word to you,' said Caldigate.

'I am quite at your service,' said Sir John.

'I want you to hear from my own lips that a falser charge than this was
never made against a man.'

'I am glad to hear it,' said Sir John,--and then he paused. 'That is to
say, Mr. Caldigate, I am bound in courtesy to you to make some such
civil reply as I should have made had I not been employed in your case,
and had circumstances then induced you to make such a statement to me.
But in truth, as I am so employed, no statement from your lips ought to
affect me in the least. For your own sake I will say that no statement
will affect me. It is not for me to believe or disbelieve anything in
this matter. If carried away by my feelings, I were to appeal to the
jury for their sympathy because of my belief, I should betray your
cause. It will be my duty not to make the jury believe you, who, in your
position, will not be expected even to tell the truth; but to induce
them, if possible, to disbelieve the witnesses against you who will be
on their oath. Second-hand protestations from an advocate are never of
much avail, and in many cases have been prejudicial. I can only assure
you that I understand the importance of the interests confided to me,
and that I will endeavour to be true to my trust.'

Caldigate, who wanted sympathy, who wanted an assurance of confidence in
his word, was by no means contented with his counsellor; but he was too
wise at the present moment to quarrel with him.



Chapter XLI

The First Day



Then came the morning on which Caldigate and Hester must part. Very
little had been said about it, but a word or two had been absolutely
necessary. The trial would probably take two days, and it would not be
well that he should be brought back to Folking for the sad intervening
night. And then,--should the verdict be given against him, the prison
doors would be closed against her, his wife, more rigidly than against
any other friend who might knock at them inquiring after his welfare.
Her, at any rate, he would not be allowed to see. All the prison
authorities would be bound to regard her as the victim of his crime and
as the instrument of his vice. The law would have locked him up to
avenge her injuries,--of her, whose only future joy could come from that
distant freedom which the fraudulent law would at length allow to him.
All this was not put into words between them, but it was understood. It
might be that they were to be parted now for a term of years, during
which she would be as a widow at Folking while he would be alone in his
jail.

There are moments as to which it would be so much better that their
coming should never be accomplished! It would have been better for them
both had they been separated without that last embrace. He was to start
from Folking at eight that he might surrender himself to the hands of
justice in due time for the trial at ten. She did not come down with him
to the breakfast parlour, having been requested by him not to be there
among the servants when he took his departure; but standing there in her
own room, with his baby in her arms, she spoke her last word, 'You will
keep up your courage, John?'

'I will try, Hester.'

'I will keep up mine. I will never fail, for your sake and his,'--here
she held the child a moment away from her bosom,--'I will never allow
myself to droop. To be your wife and his mother shall be enough to
support me even though you should be torn from both of us for a time.'

'I wish I were as brave as you,' he said.

'You will leave me here,' she continued, 'mistress of your house; and if
God spares me, here you will find me. They can't move me from this. Your
father says so. They may call me what they will, but they cannot move
me. There is the Lord above us, and before Him they cannot make me other
than your wife,--your wife,--your wife.' As she repeated the name, she
put the boy out to him, and when he had taken the child, she stretched
out her hands upwards, and falling on her knees at his feet, prayed to
God for his deliverance. 'Let him come back to us, O my God. Deliver
him from his enemies, and let him come back to us.'

'One kiss, my own,' he said, as he raised her from the ground.

'Oh yes;--and a thousand shall be in store for you when you come back to
us. Yes; kiss him too. Your boy shall hear the praises of his father
every day, till at last he shall understand that he may be proud of you
even though he should have learned why it is that you are not with him.
Now go, my darling. Go; and support yourself by remembering that I have
got that within me which will support me.' Then he left her.

The old Squire had expressed his intention of being present throughout
the trial, and now was ready for the journey. When counselled to remain
at home, both by Mr. Seely and by his son, he had declared that only by
his presence could he make the world around him understand how confident
he was of his son's innocence. So it was arranged, and a place was kept
for him next to the attorney. The servants all came out into the hall
and shook hands with their young master; and the cook, wiping her eyes
with her apron, declared that she would have dinner ready for him on the
following day. At the front door Mr. Holt was standing, having come over
the ferry to greet the young squire before his departure. 'They may say
what they will there, squire, but they won't make none of us here
believe that you've been the man to injure a lady such as she up there.'
Then there was another shaking of hands, and the father and son got into
the carriage.

The court was full, of course. Mr. Justice Bramber, by whom the case
was to be tried, was reputed to be an excellent judge, a man of no
softnesses,--able to wear the black cap without convulsive throbbings,
anxious also that the law should run its course,--averse to mercy when
guilt had been proved, but as clear-sighted and as just as Minos; a man
whom nothing could turn one way or another,--who could hang his friend,
but who would certainly not mulct his enemy because he was his enemy.
It had reached Caldigate's ears that he was unfortunate in his judge;
by which, they who had so said, had intended to imply that this judge's
mind would not be perverted by any sentiments as to the prisoner, as to
the sweet young woman who called herself his wife at home, or as to
want of sweetness on the part of the other woman who claimed him.

The jury was sworn in without more than ordinary delay, and then the
trial was commenced. That which had to be done for the prosecution
seemed to be simple enough. The first witness called was the woman
herself, who was summoned in the names of Euphemia Caldigate
_alias_ Smith. She gave her evidence very clearly, and with great
composure,--saying how she had become acquainted with the man on board
the ship; how she had been engaged to him at Melbourne; how he had come
down to her at Sydney; how, in compliance with his orders, she had
followed him up to Ahalala; and how she had there been married to him
by Mr. Allan. Then she brought forth the documents which professed to
be the copy of the register of the marriage, made by the minister in
his own book; and the envelope,--the damning envelope,--which Caldigate
was prepared to admit that he had himself addressed to Mrs. Caldigate;
and the letter which purported to have been written by the minister to
Caldigate, recommending him to be married in some better established
township than that existing at Ahalala. She did it well. She was very
correct, and at the same time very determined, giving many details of
her early theatrical life, which it was thought better to get from
her in the comparative ease of a direct examination than to have them
extracted afterwards by an adverse advocate. During her evidence in
chief, which was necessarily long, she seemed to be quite at ease; but
those around her observed that she never once turned her eyes upon him
whom she claimed as her husband except when she was asked whether the
man there before her was the man she had married at Ahalala. Then,
looking at him for a moment in silence, she replied, very steadily,
'Yes; that is my husband, John Caldigate.'

To Caldigate and his friends,--and indeed to all those collected in
the court,--the most interesting person of the day was Sir John Joram.
In a sensational cause the leading barrister for the defence is always
the hero of the plot,--the actor from whom the best bit of acting is
expected,--the person who is most likely to become a personage on the
occasion. The prisoners are necessarily mute, and can only be looked
at, not heard. The judge is not expected to do much till the time comes
for his charge, and even then is supposed to lower the dignity of the
bench if he makes his charge with any view to effect on his own behalf.
The barrister who prosecutes should be tame, or he will appear to be
vindictive. The witnesses, however interesting they may be in detail,
are but episodes. Each comes and goes, and there is an end of them. But
the part of the defending advocate requires action through the whole of
the piece. And he may be impassioned. He is bound to be on the alert.
Everything seems to depend on him. They who accuse can have or should
have no longing for the condemnation of the accused one. But in
regard to the other, an acquittal is a matter of personal prowess, of
professional triumph, and possibly of well simulated feeling.

Sir John Joram was at this time a man of considerable dignity, above
fifty years of age, having already served the offices of Solicitor and
Attorney-General to his party. To his compeers and intimate friends it
seemed to be but the other day since he was Jacky Joram, one of the
jolliest little fellows ever known at an evening party, up to every kind
of fun, always rather short of money, and one of whom it was thought
that, because he was good-looking, he might some day achieve the success
of marrying a woman with money. On a sudden he married a girl without a
shilling, and men shook their heads and sighed as they spoke of poor
Jacky Joram. But, again, on a sudden,--quite as suddenly,--there came
tidings that Jacky had been found out by the attorneys, and that he was
earning his bread. As we grow old things seem to come so quickly! His
friends had hardly realised the fact that Jacky was earning his bread
before he was in Parliament and had ceased to be Jacky. And the celerity
with which he became Sir John was the most astonishing of all. Years no
doubt had passed by. But years at fifty are no more than months at
thirty,--are less than weeks in boyhood. And now while some tongues, by
dint of sheer habit, were still forming themselves into Jacky, Sir John
Joram had become the leading advocate of the day, and a man renowned for
the dignity of his manners.

In the House,--for he had quite got the ear of the House,--a certain
impressive good sense, a habit of saying nothing that was not necessary
to the occasion, had chiefly made for him the high character he enjoyed;
but in the law courts it was perhaps his complaisance, his peculiar
courtesy, of which they who praised him talked the most. His aptitude to
get verdicts was of course the cause of his success. But it was observed
of him that in perverting the course of justice,--which may be said to
be the special work of a successful advocate,--he never condescended to
bully anybody. To his own witnesses he was simple and courteous, as are
barristers generally. But to adverse witnesses he was more courteous,
though no doubt less simple. Even to some perjured comrade of an
habitual burglar he would be studiously civil: but to a woman such as
Euphemia Caldigate, _alias_ Smith, it was certain that he would be so
smooth as to make her feel almost pleased with the amenities of her
position.

He asked her very many questions, offering to provide her with the
comfort of a seat if it were necessary. She said that she was not at
all tired, and that she preferred to stand. As to the absolute fact of
the marriage she did not hesitate at all. She was married in the tent
at Ahalala in the presence of Crinkett and Adamson, and of her own
female companion, Anna Young,--all of whom were there to give evidence
of the fact. Whether any one else was in the tent, she could not say,
but she knew that there were others at the entrance. The tent was
hardly large enough for more than five or six. Dick Shand had not been
there, because he had always been her enemy, and had tried to prevent
the marriage. And she was quite clear about the letter. There was a
great deal said about the letter. She was sure that the envelope with
the letter had come to her at Ahalala by post from Sydney when her
husband was at the latter place. The Sydney postmark with the date was
very plain. There was much said as to the accuracy and clearness of the
Sydney postmark, and something as to the absence of any postmark at
Nobble. She could not account for the absence of the Nobble postmark.
She was aware that letters were stamped at Nobble generally. Mr. Allan,
she said, had himself handed to her the copy of the register almost
immediately after the marriage, but she could not say by whom it had
been copied. The letter purporting to be from Mr. Allan to her husband
was no doubt, she said, in the minister's handwriting. Caldigate had
showed it to her before their marriage, and she had kept it without any
opposition from him. Then she was asked as to her residence after her
marriage, and here she was less clear. She had lived with him first at
Ahalala and then at Nobble, but she could not say for how long. It had
been off and on. There had been quarrels, and after a time they had
agreed to part. She had received from him a certain amount of mining
shares and of money, and had undertaken in return never to bother him
any more. There was a great deal said about times and dates, which left
an impression upon those around her in the court that she was less sure
of her facts than a woman in such circumstances naturally would have
been.

Then Sir John produced the letter which she had written to Caldigate,
and in which she had distinctly offered to marry Crinkett if the money
demanded were paid. She must have expected the production of this
letter, but still, for a few moments, it silenced her. 'Yes,' she said,
at last, 'I wrote it.'

'And the money you demanded has been paid?'

'Yes, it has been paid. But not then. It was not paid till we came
over.'

'But if it had been paid then you would have--married Mr. Crinkett?' Sir
John's manner as he asked the question was so gentle and so soft that it
was felt by all to contain an apology for intruding on so delicate a
subject. But when she hesitated, he did, after a pause, renew his
inquiry in another form. 'Perhaps this was only a threat, and you had no
purpose of carrying it out.'

Then she plucked up her courage. 'I have not married him,' she said.

'But did you intend it?'

'I did. What were the laws to me out there? He had left me and had taken
another wife. I had to do the best for myself. I did intend it. But I
didn't do it. A woman can't be tried for her intentions.'

'No,' said Sir John. 'But she may be judged by her intentions.'

Then she was asked why she had not gone when she had got the money,
according to her promise. 'He defied us,' she said, 'and called us bad
names,--liars and perjurers. He knew that we were not liars. And then we
were watched and told that we might not go. As he said that he was
indifferent, I was willing enough to stay and see it out.'

'You cannot give us,' he asked again,--and this was his last
question,--'any clearer record of those months which you lived with your
husband?'

'No,' she said, 'I cannot. I kept no journal.' Then she was allowed to
go, and though she had been under examination for three hours, it was
thought she had escaped easily.

Crinkett was the next, who swore that he had been Caldigate's partner
in sundry mining speculations,--that they had been in every way
intimate,--that he had always recommended Caldigate to marry Mrs.
Smith, thinking, as he said, 'that respectability paid in the long
run,'--and that, having so advised him, he had become Caldigate's
special friend at the time, to the exclusion of Dick Shand, who was
generally drunk, and who, whether drunk or sober, was opposed to the
marriage. He had been selected to stand by his friend at the marriage,
and he, thinking that another witness would be beneficial, had taken
Adamson with him. His only wonder was that any one should dispute a
fact which was at the time so notorious both at Ahalala and at Nobble.
He held his head high during his evidence in chief, and more than
once called the prisoner 'Caldigate,'--'Caldigate knew this,'--and
'Caldigate did that.' It was past four when he was handed over for
cross-examination; but when it was said that another hour would suffice
for it, the judge agreed to sit for that other hour.

But it was nearly two hours before the gentleman who was with Sir John
had finished his work, during which Mr. Crinkett seemed to suffer much.
The gentleman was by no means so complacent as Sir John, and asked some
very disagreeable questions. Had Crinkett intended to commit bigamy by
marrying the last witness, knowing at the time that she was a married
woman? 'I never said that I intended to marry her,' said Crinkett.
'What she wrote to Caldigate was nothing to me.' He could not be made to
own, as she had done in a straightforward way, that he had intended to
set the law at defiance. His courage failed him, and his presence of
mind, and he was made to declare at last that he had only talked about
such a marriage, with the view of keeping the woman in good humour, but
that he had never intended to marry her. Then he was asked as to
Bollum;--had he told Bollum that he intended to marry the woman? At last
he owned that he might have done so. Of course he had been anxious to
get his money, and he had thought that he might best do so by such an
offer. He was reduced to much misery during his cross-examination; but
on the one main statement that he had been present at the marriage he
was not shaken.

At six o'clock the trial was adjourned till the next day, and the two
Caldigates were taken in a fly to a neighbouring inn, at which rooms had
been provided for them. Here they were soon joined by Mr. Seely, who
explained, however, that he had come merely to make arrangements for the
morrow. 'How is it going?' asked Caldigate.

The question was very natural, but it was one which Mr. Seely was not
disposed to answer. 'I couldn't give an opinion,' he said. 'In such
cases I never do give an opinion. The evidence is very clear, and has
not been shaken; but the witnesses are people of a bad character.
Character goes a long way with a jury. It will depend a good deal on the
judge, I should say. But I cannot give an opinion.'

No opinion one way or the other was expressed to the father or son,--who
indeed saw no one else the whole evening; but Robert Bolton, in
discussing the matter with his father, expressed a strong conviction
that Caldigate would be acquitted. He had heard it all, and understood
the nature of such cases. 'I do not in the least doubt that they were
married,' said Robert Bolton. 'All the circumstances make me sure of
it. But the witnesses are just of that kind which a jury always
distrusts. The jury will acquit him, not because they do not believe the
marriage, but out of enmity to Crinkett and the woman.'

'What shall we do, then?' asked the old man. To this Robert Bolton could
make no answer. He only shook his head and turned away.



Chapter XLII

The Second Day



The court had been very full on the first day of the trial, but on the
following morning it was even more crowded, so that outsiders who had no
friend connected with justice, had hardly a chance of hearing or seeing
anything. Many of the circumstances of the case had long been known to
the public, but matters of new and of peculiar interest had been
elicited,--the distinct promise made by the woman to marry another man,
so as to render her existing husband safe in his bigamy by committing
bigamy herself,--the payment to these people by Caldigate of an immense
sum of money,--the fact that they two had lived together in Australia
whether married or not;--all this, which had now been acknowledged on
both sides, added to the romance of the occasion. While it could hardly
be doubted, on the one side, that Caldigate had married the woman,--so
strong was the evidence,--it could not be at all doubted, on the other
side, that the accusation had been planned with the view of raising
money, and had been the result of a base conspiracy. And then there was
the additional marvel, that though the money had been paid,--the whole
sum demanded,--yet the trial was carried on. The general feeling was
exactly that which Robert Bolton had attributed to the jury. People did
believe that there had been a marriage, but trusted nevertheless that
Caldigate might be acquitted,--so that his recent marriage might be
established. No doubt there was a feeling with many that anything done
in the wilds of Australia ought not 'to count' here at home in England.

Caldigate with his father was in court a little before ten, and at that
hour punctually the trial was recommenced. The first business was the
examination of Adamson, who was quite clear as to the marriage. He had
been concerned with Crinkett in money operations for many years, and
had been asked by him to be present simply as a witness. He had never
been particularly intimate with Caldigate, and had had little or
nothing to do with him afterwards. He was cross-examined by the second
gentleman, but was not subjected to much annoyance. He had put what
little money he possessed into the Polyeuka mine, and had come over to
England because he had thought that, by so doing, he might perhaps get
a portion of his money back. Had there been a conspiracy, and was he
one of the conspirators? Well, he rather thought that there had been
a conspiracy, and that he was one of the conspirators. But then he
had only conspired to get what he thought to be his own. He had lost
everything in the Polyeuka mine; and as the gentleman no doubt had
married the lady, he thought he might as well come forward,--and that
perhaps in that way he would get his money. He did not mind saying that
he had received a couple of thousand pounds, which was half what he had
put into Polyeuka. He hoped that, after paying all his expenses, he
would be able to start again at the diggings with something above a
thousand. This was all straight sailing. The purpose which he had in
view was so manifest that it had hardly been worth while to ask him the
questions.

Anna Young was the next, and she encountered the sweet courtesies of Sir
John Joram. These sweet courtesies were prolonged for above an hour,
and were not apparently very sweet to Miss Young. Of the witnesses
hitherto examined she was the worst. She had been flippantly confident
in her memories of the marriage ceremony when questioned on behalf of
the prosecution, but had forgotten everything in reference to her
friend's subsequent married life. She had forgotten even her own life,
and did not quite know where she had lived. And at last she positively
refused to answer questions though they were asked with the most
engaging civility. She said that, 'Of course a lady had affairs which
she could not tell to everybody.' 'No, she didn't mean lovers;--she
didn't care for the men at all.' 'Yes; she did mean money. She had done
a little mining, and hoped to do a little more.' 'She was to have a
thousand pounds and her expenses, but she hadn't got the money
yet,'--and so on. Probably of all the witnesses yet examined Miss Young
had amused the court the most.

There were many others, no doubt necessary for the case, but hardly
necessary for the telling of the story. Captain Munday was there, the
captain of the Goldfinder, who spoke of Caldigate's conduct on board,
and of his own belief that they two were engaged when they left the
ship. 'As we are prepared to acknowledge that there was an engagement, I
do not think that we need trouble you, Captain Munday,' said Sir John.
'We only deny the marriage.' Then the cheque for twenty thousand pounds
was produced, and clerks from the bank to prove the payment, and the old
waiter from the Jericho Coffee-house,--and others, of whom Sir John
Joram refused to take any notice whatever. All that had been
acknowledged. Of course the money had been paid. Of course the intimacy
had existed. No doubt there had been those interviews both at Folking
and up in London. But had there ever been a marriage in that tent at
Ahalala? That, and that only, was the point to which Sir John Joram
found it necessary to give attention.

A slight interval was allowed for lunch, and then Sir John rose to
begin his speech. It was felt on all sides that his speech was to be
the great affair of the trial. Would he be able so to represent these
witnesses as to make a jury believe that they had sworn falsely, and
that the undoubted and acknowledged conspiracy to raise money had been
concocted without any basis of truth? There was a quarter of an hour
during which the father remained with his son in the precincts of the
prison, and then the judge and the lawyers, and all they whose places
were assured to them trooped back into court. They who were less
privileged had fed themselves with pocketed sandwiches, not caring to
risk the loss of their seats.

Sir John Joram began by holding, extended in his fingers towards the
jury, the envelope which had undoubtedly been addressed by Caldigate to
'Mrs. Caldigate, Ahalala, Nobble,' and in which a certain letter had
been stated to have been sent by him to her. 'The words written on that
envelope,' said he, 'are to my mind the strongest evidence I have ever
met of the folly to which a man may be reduced by the softness of
feminine intercourse. I acknowledge, on the part of my client, that he
wrote these words. I acknowledge that if a man could make a woman his
wife by so describing her on a morsel of paper, this man would have made
this woman his wife. I acknowledge so much, though I do not acknowledge,
though I deny, that any letter was ever sent to this woman in the
envelope which I hold in my hand. His own story is that he wrote those
words at a moment of soft and foolish confidence, when they two together
were talking of a future marriage,--a marriage which no doubt was
contemplated, and which probably had been promised. Then he wrote the
address, showing the woman the name which would be hers should they ever
be married;--and she has craftily kept the document. That is his story.
That is my story. Now I must show you why I think it also should be your
story. The woman,--I must describe her in this way lest I should do her
an injustice by calling her Mrs. Smith, or do my client an injustice by
calling her Mrs. Caldigate,--has told you that this envelope, with an
enclosure which she produced, reached her at Nobble through the post
from Sydney. To that statement I call upon you to give no credit. A
letter so sent would, as you have been informed, bear two postmarks,
those of Sydney and of Nobble. This envelope bears one only. But that is
not all. I shall call before you two gentlemen experienced in affairs of
the post-office, and they will tell you that the postmarks on this
envelope, both that of the town, Sydney, and that by which the postage
stamp is obliterated, are cleaner, finer, and better perceived than they
would have been had it passed in ordinary course through the
post-office. Letters in the post-office are hurried quickly through the
operation of stamping, so that one passing over the other while the
stamping ink is still moist, will to some extent blot and blur that with
which it has come in contact. He will produce some dozens taken at
random, and will show that with them all such has been the case. This
blotting, this smudging, is very slight, but it exists; it is always
there. He will tell you that this envelope has been stamped as one and
alone,--by itself,--with peculiar care;--and I shall ask you to believe
that the impression has been procured by fraud in the Sydney
post-office. If that be so; if in such a case as this fraud be once
discovered, then I say that the whole case will fall to the ground, and
that I shall be justified in telling you that no word that you have
heard from these four witnesses is worthy of belief.

'Nothing worthy of belief has been adduced against my client unless that
envelope be so. That those four persons have conspired together for the
sake of getting money is clear enough. To their evidence I shall come
presently, and shall endeavour to show you why you should discredit
them. At present I am concerned simply with this envelope, on which I
think that the case hangs. As for the copy of the register, it is
nothing. It would be odd indeed if in any conspiracy so much as that
could not be brought up. Had such a register been found in the archives
of any church, however humble, and had an attested copy been produced,
that would have been much. But this is nothing. Nor is the alleged
letter from Mr. Allan anything. Were the letter genuine it would show
that such a marriage had been contemplated, not that it had been
solemnised. We have, however, no evidence to make us believe that the
letter is genuine. But this envelope,'--and he again stretched it out
towards the jury,--'is evidence. The impression of a post-office stamp
has often been accepted as evidence. But the evidence may be false
evidence, and it is for us to see whether it may not probably be so now.

'In the first place, such evidence requires peculiar sifting, which
unfortunately cannot be applied to it in the present case, because it
has been brought to us from a great distance. Had the envelope been in
our possession from the moment in which the accusation was first made,
we might have tested it, either by sending it to Sydney or by obtaining
from Sydney other letters or documents bearing the same stamp, affixed
undoubtedly on the date here represented. But that has not been within
our power. The gentlemen whom I shall bring before you will tell you
that these impressions or stamps have a knack of verifying themselves,
which makes it very dangerous indeed for fraudulent persons to tamper
with them. A stamp used in June will be hardly the same as it will be in
July. Some little bruise will have so altered a portion of the surface
as to enable detection to be made with a microscope. And the stamp used
in 1870 will certainly have varied its form in 1871. Now, I maintain
that time and opportunity should have been given to us to verify this
impression. Copies of all impressions from day to day are kept in the
Sydney post-office, and if it be found that on this day named, the 10th
of May, no impression in the Sydney office is an exact facsimile of this
impression then I say that this impression has been subsequently and
fraudulently obtained, and that the only morsel of corroborative
evidence offered to you will be shown to be false evidence. We have been
unable to get impressions of this date. Opportunities have not been
given to us. But I do not hesitate to tell you that you should demand
such opportunities before you accept that envelope as evidence on which
you can send my client to jail, and deprive that young wife, whom he has
made his own, of her husband, and afford the damning evidence of your
verdict towards robbing his son of his legitimacy.'

He said very much more about the envelope, clearly showing his own
appreciation of its importance and declaring again and again that if
he could show that a stain of perjury affected the evidence in any
one point all the evidence must fall to the ground, and that if there
were ground to suspect that the envelope had been tampered with,
then that stain of perjury would exist. After that he went on to the
four conspirators, as he called them, justifying the name by their
acknowledged object of getting money from his client. 'That they came
to this country as conspirators, with a fraudulent purpose, my learned
friend will not deny.'

'I acknowledge nothing of the kind,' said the learned friend.

'Then my learned friend must feel that his is a case in which he cannot
safely acknowledge anything. I do not doubt, gentlemen, but that you
have made up your mind on that point.' He went on to show that they
clearly were conspirators;--that they had confessed as much themselves.
'It is no doubt possible that my client may have married this female
conspirator, and she is not the less entitled to protection from the
law because she is a conspirator. Nor, because she is a conspirator,
should he be less amenable to the law for the terrible injury he would
then have done to that other lady. But if they be conspirators,--if it
be shown to you that they came to this country,--not that the woman
might claim her husband, not that the others might give honest
testimony against a great delinquent,--but in order that they might
frighten him out of money, then I am entitled to tell you that you
should not rest on their evidence unless it be supported, and that
the fact of their conspiracy gives you a right, nay, makes it your
imperative duty, to suspect perjury.'

The remainder of the day was taken up with Sir John's speech, and with
the witnesses which he called for the defence. He certainly succeeded in
strengthening the compassion which was felt for Caldigate and for the
unfortunate young mother at Folking. 'It was very well,' he said, 'for
my learned friend to tell you of the protection which is due to a
married woman when a husband has broken the law, and betrayed his trust
by taking another wife to himself, as this man is accused of having
done. But there is another aspect in which you will regard the question.
Think of that second wife and of her child, and of the protection which
is due to her. You well know that she does not suspect her husband, that
she fears nothing but a mistaken verdict from you,--that she will be
satisfied, much more than satisfied, if you will leave her in possession
of her home, her husband, and the unalloyed domestic happiness she has
enjoyed since she joined her lot with his. Look at the one woman, and
then at the other. Remember their motives, their different lives, their
different joys, and what will be the effect of your verdict upon each of
them. If you are satisfied that he did marry that woman, that vile
woman, the nature of whose life has been sufficiently exposed to you,
of course your verdict must be against him. The law is the law, and must
be vindicated. In that case it will be your duty, your terrible duty, to
create misery, to destroy happiness, to ruin a dear innocent young
mother and her child, and to separate a loving couple, every detail of
whose life is such as to demand your sympathy. And this you must do at
the bidding of four greedy, foul conspirators. Innocent, sweet,
excellent in all feminine graces as is the one wife,--unlovely
unfeminine, and abhorrent as is the other,--you must do your duty. God
forbid that I should ask you to break an oath, even for the sake of that
young mother. But in such a case, I do think, I may ask you to be very
careful as to what evidence you accept. I do think that I may again
point out to you that those four witnesses, bound as they are together
by a bond of avarice, should be regarded but as one,--and as one to
whose sworn evidence no credit is due unless it be amply corroborated. I
say that there is no corroboration. This envelope would be strong
corroboration if it had been itself trustworthy.' When he sat down the
feeling in court was certainly in favour of John Caldigate.

Then a cloud of witnesses were brought up for the defence, each of whom,
however, was soon despatched. The two clerks from the post-office gave
exactly the evidence which Sir John had described, and exposed to the
jury their packet of old letters. In their opinion the impression on the
envelope was finer and cleaner than that generally produced in the
course of business. Each of them thought it not improbable that the
impression had been surreptitiously obtained. But each of them
acknowledged, on cross-examination, that a stamp so clean and perfect
might be given and maintained without special care; and each of them
said that it was quite possible that a letter passing through the
post-office might escape the stamp of one of the offices in which it
would be manipulated.

Then there came the witnesses as to character, and evidence was given as
to Hester's determination to remain with the man whom she believed to be
her husband. As to this there was no cross-examination. That Caldigate's
life had been useful and salutary since his return to Folking no one
doubted,--nor that he had been a loving husband. If he had committed
bigamy, it was, no doubt, for the public welfare that such a crime
should be exposed and punished. But that he should have been a bigamist,
would be a pity,--oh, such a pity! The pity of it; oh, the pity of it!
For now there had been much talk of Hester and her home at Folking, and
her former home at Chesterton; and people everywhere concerned
themselves for her peace, for her happiness, for her condition of life.



Chapter XLIII

The Last Day



After Sir John Joram's speech, and when the work of the second day had
been brought to a close, Caldigate allowed his hopes to rise higher than
they had ever mounted since he had first become aware that the
accusation would in truth be brought against him. It seemed to be almost
impossible that any jury should give a verdict in opposition to
arguments so convincing as those Sir John had used. All those details
which had appeared to himself to be so damning to his own cause now
melted away, and seemed to be of no avail. And even Mr. Seely, when he
came to see his client in the evening, was less oppressive than usual.
He did not, indeed, venture to express hope, but in his hopelessness he
was somewhat more hopeful than before. 'You must remember, Mr.
Caldigate,' he said, 'that you have not yet heard the judge, and that
with such a jury the Judge will go much further than any advocate. I
never knew a Cambridgeshire jury refuse to be led by Judge Bramber.'

'Why a Cambridgeshire jury?' asked old Mr. Caldigate; 'and why Judge
Bramber especially?'

'We are a little timid, I think, here in the eastern counties,--a little
wanting in self-confidence. An advocate in the north of England has a
finer scope, because the people like to move counter to authority. A
Lancashire jury will generally be unwilling to do what a judge tells
them. And then Judge Bramber has a peculiar way of telling a jury. If he
has a strong opinion of his own he never leaves the jury in doubt about
it. Some judges are--what I call flabby, Mr. Caldigate. They are a
little afraid of responsibility, and leave the jury and the counsel to
fight it out among them. Sir John did it very well, no doubt;--very
well. He made the best he could of that postage stamp, though I don't
know that it will go for much. The point most in our favour is that
those Australians are a rough lot to look at. The woman has been
drinking, and has lost her good looks,--so that the jurymen won't be
soft about her.' Caldigate, when he heard this, thought of Euphemia
Smith on board the Goldfinder, when she certainly did not drink, when
her personal appearance was certainly such as might touch the heart of
any juryman. Gold and drink together had so changed the woman that he
could hardly persuade himself that she was that forlorn attractive
female whom he had once so nearly loved.

Before he went to bed, Caldigate wrote to his wife as he had done also
on the preceding evening. 'There is to be another long, tedious,
terrible day, and then it may be that I shall be able to write no more.
For your sake, almost more than for my own, I am longing for it to be
over. It would be vain for me to attempt to tell you all that took
place. I do not dare to give you hope which I know may be fallacious.
And yet I feel my own heart somewhat higher than it was when I wrote
last night.' Then he did tell her something of what had taken place,
speaking in high praise of Sir John Joram. 'And now my own, own wife, my
real wife, my beloved one, I have to call you so, perhaps for the last
time for years. If these men shall choose to think that I married that
woman, we shall have to be so parted that it would be better for us to
be in our graves. But even then I will not give up all hope. My father
has promised that the whole colony shall be ransacked till proof be
found of the truth. And then, though I shall have been convicted, I
shall be reinstated in my position as your husband. May God Almighty
bless you, and our boy, till I may come again to claim my wife and my
child without disgrace.'

The old man had made the promise. 'I would go myself,' said he, 'were it
not that Hester will want my support here.' For there had been another
promise made,--that by no entreaty, no guile, no force, should Hester be
taken from Folking to Chesterton.

Early on the third day Judge Bramber began his charge, and in doing so
he told the jury that it would occupy him about three hours. And in
exactly three hours' time he had completed his task. In summing up the
case he certainly was not 'flabby';--so little so, that he left no doubt
on the minds of any who heard him of the verdict at which he had himself
arrived. He went through the evidence of the four chief witnesses very
carefully, and then said that the antecedents of these people, or even
their guilt, if they had been guilty, had nothing to do with the case
except in so far as it might affect the opinion of the jury as to their
veracity. They had been called conspirators. Even though they had
conspired to raise money by threats, than which nothing could be more
abominable,--even though by doing so they should have subjected
themselves to criminal proceedings, and to many penalties,--that would
not lessen the criminality of the accused if such a marriage as that
described had in truth taken place. 'This,' said the judge, 'is so much
a matter of course that I should not insist upon it had it not been
implied that the testimony of these four persons is worth nothing
because they are conspirators. It is for you to judge what their
testimony is worth, and it is for you to remember that they are four
distinct witnesses, all swearing to the same thing.' Then he went into
the question of the money. There could be no doubt that the four persons
had come to England with the purpose of getting money out of the
accused, and that they had succeeded. With their mode of doing
this,--whether criminal or innocent,--the jury had nothing to do, except
as it affected their credit. But they were bound to look to Caldigate's
motive in paying so large a sum. It had been shown that he did not owe
them a shilling, and that when the application for money reached him
from Australia he had refused to give them a shilling. Then, when they
had arrived here in England, accusation was made; and when they had
offered to desert the case if paid the money, then the money was paid.
The prisoner, when paying it, had no doubt intimated to those who
received it that he made no bargain with them as to their going away.
And he had taken a friend with him who had given his evidence in court,
and this friend had manifestly been taken to show that the money was not
secretly paid. The jury would give the prisoner the benefit of all
that,--if there was benefit to be derived from it. But they were bound
to remember, in coming to their verdict, that a very large sum of money
had been paid to the witnesses by the prisoner, which money certainly
was not due to them.

He dwelt, also, at great length on the stamp on the envelope, but
contrived at last to leave a feeling on the minds of those who heard
him, that Sir John had shown the weakness of his case by trusting so
much to such allegations as he had made. 'It has been represented,' said
Judge Bramber, 'that the impression which you have seen of the Sydney
post-office stamp has been fraudulently obtained. Some stronger evidence
should, I think, be shown of this before you believe it. Two clerks from
the London post-office have told you that they believed the impression
to be a false one; but I think they were hardly justified in their
opinion. They founded it on the clearness and cleanness of the
impression; but they both of them acknowledged afterwards that such
clearness and cleanness is simply unusual, and by no means
impossible,--not indeed improbable. But how would it have been if the
envelope had been brought to you without any post-office impression,
simply directed to Mrs. Caldigate, by the man who is alleged to have
made the woman his wife shortly before the envelope was written? Would
it not in that case have been strong evidence? If any fraud were
proved,--such a fraud as would be that of getting some post-office
official falsely to stamp the envelope,--then the stain of perjury would
be there. But it will be for you to consider whether you can find such
stain of perjury merely because the impression on the envelope is clear
and clean.'

When he came to the present condition of Caldigate's wife and child at
Folking, he was very tender in his speech,--but even his tenderness
seemed to turn itself against the accused.

'Of that poor lady I can only speak with that unfeigned respect which I
am sure you all feel. That she was happy in her marriage till this
accusation reached her ears, no one can doubt. That he to whom she was
given in marriage has done his duty by her, treating her with full
affection and confidence, has been proved to us. Who can think that such
a condition of things shall be disturbed, that happiness so perfect is
to be turned to misery and misfortune, without almost an agony of
regret? But not on that account can you be in any way released from your
duty. In this case you are not entitled to think of the happiness or
unhappiness of individuals. You have to confine yourself to the
evidence, and must give your verdict in accordance with that.'

John Caldigate, as he heard the words, told himself at once that the
judge had, in fact, desired the jury to find a verdict against him. Not
a single point had been made in his favour, and every point had been
made to tell against him. The judge had almost said that a man's promise
to marry a woman should be taken as evidence of marriage. But the jury,
at any rate, did not show immediate alacrity in obeying the judge's
behest. They returned once or twice to ask questions; and at three
o'clock Caldigate was allowed to go to his inn, with an intimation that
he must hold himself in readiness to be brought back and hear the
verdict at a moment's notice. 'I wish they would declare it at once,' he
said to his father. 'The suspense is worse than all.'

During the afternoon the matter was discussed very freely throughout the
borough. 'I thought they would have agreed almost at once,' said the
mayor, at about four o'clock, to Mr. Seely, who, at this moment, had
retired to his own office where the great magistrate of the borough was
closeted with him. The mayor had been seated on the bench throughout the
trial, and had taken much interest in the case. 'I never imagined that
there could be much doubt after Judge Bramber's summing up.'

'I hear that there's one man holding out,' said the attorney in a low
voice.

'Who is it?' whispered the mayor. The mayor and Mr. Seely were very
intimate.

'I suppose it's Jones, the tanner at Ely. They say that the Caldigates
have had dealings with his family from generation to generation. I knew
all about it, and when they passed his name, I wondered that Burder
hadn't been sharper.' Mr. Burder was the gentleman who had got up the
prosecution on the part of the Crown.

'It must be something of that kind,' said the mayor. 'Nothing else would
make a jury hesitate after such a charge as that. I suppose he did marry
her.' Mr. Seely shrugged his shoulders. 'I have attended very closely to
the case, and I know I should have been against him on a jury. God bless
my soul! Did any man ever write to a woman as his wife without having
married her?'

'It has been done, I should think.'

'And that nobody should have been got to say that they weren't man and
wife.'

'I really have hardly formed an opinion,' said Mr. Seely, still
whispering, 'I am inclined to think that there was probably some
ceremony, and that Caldigate salved his conscience, when he married
Bolton's daughter, by an idea that the ceremony wasn't valid. But
they'll convict him at last. When he told me that he had been up to town
and paid that money, I knew it was all up with him. How can any juryman
believe that a man will pay twenty thousand pounds, which he doesn't
owe, to his sworn enemy, merely on a point of conscience?'

At the same time the old banker was sitting in his room at the bank, and
Robert Bolton was with him. 'There cannot be a doubt of his guilt,' said
Robert Bolton.

'No, no,--not a doubt.'

'But the jury may disagree?'

'What shall we do then?' said the banker.

'There must be another trial. We must go on till we get a verdict.'

'And Hester? What can we do for Hester?'

'She is very obstinate, and I fear we have no power. Even though she is
declared not to be his wife, she can choose her own place of living. If
he is convicted, I think that she would come back. Of course she ought
to come back.'

'Of course, of course.'

'Old Caldigate, too, is very obstinate; but it may be that we should be
able to persuade him. He will know that she ought to be with her
mother.'

'Her poor mother! Her poor mother! And when he comes out of prison?'

'Her very nature will have been altered by that time,' said the
attorney. 'She will, I trust, have consented before that to take up her
residence under your roof.'

'I shall be dead,' said the old man. 'Disgrace and years together will
have killed me before that time comes.'

The Smirkies were staying at Babington, and the desire for news there
was very intent. Mr. Smirkie was full of thought on the matter, but was
manifestly in favour of a conviction. 'Yes; the poor young woman is very
much to be pitied,' he said, in answer to the squire, who had ventured
to utter a word in favour of Hester. 'A young woman who falls into the
hands of an evil man must always be pitied; but it is to prevent the
evil men from preying upon the weaker sex that examples such as these
are needed. When we think what might have been the case here, in this
house, we have all of us a peculiar reason to be thankful for the
interposition of divine Providence.' Here Mr. Smirkie made a little
gesture of thanksgiving, thanking Heaven for its goodness to his wife in
having given her himself. 'Julia, my love, you have a very peculiar
reason to be thankful, and I trust you are so. Yes,--we must pity the
poor young lady; but it will be well that the offender should be made
subject to the outraged laws of his country.' Mrs. Smirkie, as she
listened to these eloquent words, closed her eyes and hands in token of
her thankfulness for all that Providence had done for her.

If she knew how to compare her condition with that of poor Hester at
this time, she had indeed cause for thankfulness. Hester was alone with
her baby, and with no information but what had been conveyed to her by
her husband's letters. As she read the last of the two she acknowledged
to herself that too probably she would not even see his handwriting
again till the period of his punishment should have expired. And then?
What would come then? Sitting alone, at the open window of her bed-room,
with her boy on her lap, she endeavoured to realise her own position.
She would be a mother, without a husband,--with her bastard child.
However innocent he might be, such would be her position under the law.
It did not suffice that they too should be man and wife as thoroughly as
any whom God had joined together, if twelve men assembled together in a
jury-box should say otherwise. She had told him that she would be
brave;--but how should she be brave in such a condition as this? What
should she do? How should she look forward to the time of his release?
Could anything ever again give her back her husband and make him her own
in the eyes of men? Could anything make men believe that he had always
been her own, and that there had been no flaw? She had been very brave
when they had attempted to confine her, to hold her by force at
Chesterton. Then she had been made strong, had always been comforted, by
opposition. The determination of her purpose to go back had supported
her. But now,--how should it be with her now? and with her boy? and with
him?

The old man was very good, good and eager in her cause, and would let
her live at Folking. But what would they call her? When they wrote to
her from Chesterton how would they address her letters? Never, never
would she soil her fingers by touching a document that called her by any
other name than her own. Yes, her own;--let all the jurymen in all the
counties, let all the judges on the bench, say what they would to the
contrary. Though it should be for all her life,--though there should
never come the day on which they,--they,--the world at large would do
him justice and her, though they should call her by what hard name they
would, still up there, in the courts of her God, she would be his wife.
She would be a pure woman there, and there would her child be without a
stain. And here, here in this world, though she could never more be a
wife in all things, she would be a wife in love, a wife in care, a wife
in obedience, a wife in all godly truth. And though it would never be
possible for her to show her face again among mankind, never for her,
surely the world would be kinder to her boy! They would not begrudge him
his name! And when it should be told how it had come to pass that there
was a blot upon his escutcheon, they would not remind him of his
mother's misery. But, above all, there should be no shade of doubt as to
her husband. 'I know,' she said, speaking aloud, but not knowing that
she spoke aloud, 'I know that he is my husband.' Then there was a knock
at the door. 'Well; yes;--has it come? Do you know?'

No; nothing was known there at that moment, but in another minute all
would be known. The wheels of the old Squire's carriage had been heard
upon the gravel. 'No, ma'am, no; you shall not leave the room,' said the
nurse. 'Stay here and let him come to you.'

'Is he alone?' she asked. But the woman did not know. The wheels of the
carriage had only been heard.

Alas, alas! he was alone. His heart too had been almost broken as he
bore the news home to the wife who was a wife no longer.

'Father!' she said, when she saw him.

'My daughter;--O my daughter!' And then, with their hands clasped
together, they sat speechless and alone, while the news was spread
through the household which the old man did not dare to tell to his
son's wife.

It was very slowly that the actual tidings reached her ears. Mr.
Caldigate, when he tried to tell them, found that the power of words had
left him. Old as he was, and prone to cynic indifference as he had shown
himself, he was affected almost like a young girl. He sobbed
convulsively as he hung over her, embracing her. 'My daughter!' he said,
'my daughter! my daughter!'

But at last it was all told. Caldigate had been declared guilty, and the
judge had condemned him to be confined to prison for two years. Judge
Bramber had told him that, in his opinion, the jury could have found no
other verdict; but he went on to say that, looking for some excuse for
so terrible a deed as that which had been done,--so terrible for that
poor lady who was now left nameless with a nameless infant,--he could
imagine that the marriage, though legally solemnised, had nevertheless
been so deficient in the appearances of solemnity as to have imbued the
husband with the idea that it had not meant all that a marriage would
have meant if celebrated in a church and with more of the outward
appurtenances of religion. On that account he refrained from inflicting
a severer penalty.



Chapter XLIV

After the Verdict



When the verdict was given, Caldigate was at once marched round into the
dock, having hitherto been allowed to sit in front of the dock between
Mr. Seely and his father. But, standing in the dock, he heard the
sentence pronounced upon him. 'I never married the woman, my lord,' he
said, in a loud voice. But what he said could be of no avail. And then
men looked at him as he disappeared with the jailers down the steps
leading to regions below, and away to his prison, and they knew that he
would no more be seen or heard of for two years. He had vanished. But
there was the lady who was not his wife out at Folking,--the lady whom
the jury had declared not to be his wife. What would become of her?

There was an old gentleman there in the court who had known Mr.
Caldigate for many years,--one Mr. Ryder, who had been himself a
practising barrister but had now retired. In those days they seldom saw
each other; but, nevertheless, they were friends. 'Caldigate,' he said,
'you had better let her go back to her own people.'

'She shall stay with me,' he replied.

'Better not. Believe me, she had better not. If so, how will it be with
her when he is released? The two years will soon go by, and then she
will be in his house. If that woman should die, he might marry her,--but
till then she had better be with her own people.'

'She shall stay with me,' the old man said again, repeating the words
angrily, and shaking his head. He was so stunned by the blow that he
could not argue the matter, but he knew that he had made the promise,
and that he was resolved to abide by it.

She had better go back to her own people! All the world was saying it.
She had no husband now. Everybody would respect her misfortune.
Everybody would acknowledge her innocence. All would sympathise with
her. All would love her. But she must go back to her own people. There
was not a dissentient voice. 'Of course she must go back to you now,'
Nicholas Bolton said to her father, and Nicholas Bolton seldom
interfered in anything. 'The poor lady will of course be restored to her
family,' the judge had said in private to his marshal, and the marshal
had of course made known what the judge had said. On the next morning
there came a letter from William Bolton to Robert. 'Of course Hester
must come back now. Nothing else is possible.' Everybody decided that
she must come back. It was a matter which admitted of no doubt. But how
was she to be brought to Chesterton?

None of them who decided with so much confidence as to her future,
understood her ideas of her position as a wife. 'I am bone of his bone
and flesh of his flesh,' she said to herself, 'made so by a sacrament
which no jury can touch. What matters what the people say? They may make
me more unhappy than I am. They may kill me by their cruelty. But they
cannot make me believe myself not to be his wife. And while I am his
wife, I will obey him, and him only.'

What she called 'their cruelty' manifested itself very soon. The first
person who came to her was Mrs. Robert Bolton, and her visit was made on
the day after the verdict. When Hester sent down word begging to be
permitted in her misery to decline to see even her sister-in-law, Mrs.
Robert sent her up a word or two written in pencil--'My darling, whom
have you nearer? Who loves you better than I?' Then the wretched one
gave way, and allowed her brother's wife to be brought to her. She was
already dressed from head to foot in black, and her baby was with her.

The arguments which Mrs. Robert Bolton used need not be repeated, but it
may be said that the words she used were so tender, and that they were
urged with so much love, so much sympathy, and so much personal
approval, that Hester's heart was touched. 'But he is my husband,'
Hester said. 'The judge cannot alter it; he is my husband.'

'I will not say a word to the contrary. But the law has separated you,
and you should obey the law. You should not even eat his bread now,
because--because--. Oh, Hester, you understand.'

'I do understand,' she said, rising to her feet in her energy, 'and
I will eat his bread though it be hard, and I will drink of his cup
though it be bitter. His bread and his cup shall be mine, and none
other shall be mine. I do understand. I know that these wicked people
have blasted my life. I know that I can be nothing to him now. But his
child shall never be made to think that his mother had condemned his
father. Yes, Margaret,' she said again, 'I do love you, and I do trust
you, and I know that you love me. But you do not love him; you do not
believe in him. If they came to you and took Robert away, would you go
and live with other people? I do love papa and mamma. But this is his
house, and he bids me stay here. The very clothes which I wear are his
clothes. I am his; and though they were to cut me apart from him, still
I should belong to him. No,--I will not go to mamma. Of course I have
forgiven her, because she meant it for the best; but I will never go
back to Chesterton.'

Then there came letters from the mother, one letter hot upon the other,
all appealing to those texts in Scripture by which the laws of nations
are supposed to be supported. 'Give unto Caesar the things which are
Caesar's.' It was for the law to declare who were and who were not man
and wife, and in this matter the law had declared. After this how could
she doubt? Or how could she hesitate as to tearing herself away from the
belongings of the man who certainly was not her husband? And there were
dreadful words in these letters which added much to the agony of her who
received them,--words which were used in order that their strength might
prevail. But they had no strength to convert, though they had strength
to afflict. Then Mrs. Bolton, who in her anxiety was ready to submit
herself to any personal discomfort, prepared to go to Folking. But
Hester sent back word that, in her present condition, she would see
nobody,--not even her mother.

But it was not only from the family of the Boltons that these
applications and entreaties came. Even Mr. Seely took upon himself to
tell Mr. Caldigate that under existing circumstances Hester should not
be detained at Folking.

'I do not know that either she or I want advice in the matter,' Mr.
Caldigate replied. But as a stone will be worn hollow in time by the
droppings of many waters, so was it thought that if all Cambridge would
continue firm in its purpose, then this stone might at last be made to
yield. The world was so anxious that it resolved among itself that it
would submit to any amount of snubbing in carrying out its object. Even
the mayor wrote. 'Dear Mr. Caldigate, greatly as I object to all
interference in families, I think myself bound to appeal to you as to
the unfortunate condition of that young lady from Chesterton.' Then
followed all the arguments, and some of the texts,--both of which were
gradually becoming hackneyed in the matter. Mr. Caldigate's answer to
this was very characteristic: 'Dear Mr. Mayor, if you have an objection
to interfere in families, why do you do it?' The mayor took the rebuke
with placid good-humour, feeling that his little drop might also have
done something towards hollowing the stone.

But of all the counsellors, perhaps Mr. Smirkie was the most zealous and
the most trusting. He felt himself to be bound in a peculiar manner to
Folking,--by double ties. Was not the clergyman of the parish the
brother of his dear departed one? And with whom better could he hold
sweet counsel? And then that second dear one, who had just been
vouchsafed to him,--had she not as it were by a miracle been rescued
from the fate into which the other poor lady had fallen, and obtained
her present thoroughly satisfactory position? Mr. Smirkie was a
clergyman who understood it to be his duty to be urgent for the good
cause, in season and out of season, and who always did his duty. So he
travelled over to Utterden and discussed the matter at great length with
Mr. Bromley. 'I do believe in my heart,' said Mr. Bromley, 'that the
verdict is wrong.' But Mr. Smirkie, with much eloquence, averred that
that had nothing to do with the question. Mr. Bromley opened his eyes
very wide. 'Nothing at all,' said Mr. Smirkie. 'It is the verdict of the
jury, confirmed by the judge, and the verdict itself dissolves the
marriage. Whether the verdict be wrong or right, that marriage ceremony
is null and void. They are not man and wife;--not now, even if they ever
were. Of course you are aware of that.'

Mr. Smirkie was altogether wrong in his law. Such men generally are. Mr.
Bromley in vain endeavoured to point out to him that the verdict could
have no such power as was here claimed for it, and that if any claim was
to be brought up hereafter as to the legitimacy of the child, the fact
of the verdict could only be used as evidence, and that that evidence
would or would not be regarded as true by another jury, according to the
views which that other jury might take. Mr. Smirkie would only repeat
his statements with increased solemnity,--'That marriage is no marriage.
That poor lady is not Mrs. John Caldigate. She is Miss Hester Bolton,
and, therefore, every breath of air which she draws under that roof is a
sin.' As he said this out upon the dike-side he looked about him with
manifest regret that he had no other audience than his brother-in-law.

And at last, after much persevering assiduity, Mr. Smirkie succeeded in
reaching Mr. Caldigate himself, and expressed himself with boldness. He
was a man who had at any rate the courage of his opinions. 'You have to
think of her future life in this world and in the next,' he said. 'And
in the next,' he repeated with emphasis, when Mr. Caldigate paused.

'As to what will affect her happiness in this world, sir,' said the old
man very gravely, 'I think you can hardly be a judge.'

'Good repute,' suggested the clergyman.

'Has she done anything that ought to lessen the fair fame of a woman in
the estimation of other women? And as to the next world, in the rewards
and punishments of which you presume it to be your peculiar duty to
deal, has she done anything which you think will subject her to the
special wrath of an offended Deity?' This question he asked with a
vehemence of voice which astounded his companion. 'She has loved her
husband with a peculiar love,' he continued. 'She has believed herself
to be joined to him by ties which you shall call romantic, if you
will,--superstitious, if you will.'

'I hope not,--I hope not,' said Mr. Smirkie, holding up both his hands,
not at all understanding the old man's meaning, but intending to express
horror at 'superstition,' which he supposed to be a peculiar attribute
of the Roman Catholic branch of the Christian Church. 'Not that I hope.'

'I cannot fathom, and you, apparently, cannot at all understand, her
idea of the sanctity of the marriage vow. But if you knew anything
about her, I think you would refrain from threatening her with divine
wrath; and as you know nothing about her, I regard such threats, coming
from you, as impertinent, unmanly, inhuman, and blasphemous.' Mr.
Caldigate had commenced this conversation, though vehemently, still in
so argumentative a manner, and in his allusions to the lady's romantic
and superstitious ideas had seemed to yield so much, that the terrible
vigour of his last words struck the poor clergyman almost to the
ground. One epithet came out after another, very clearly spoken, with a
pause between each of them; and the speaker, as he uttered them, looked
his victim close in the face. Then he walked slowly away, leaving Mr.
Smirkie fixed to the ground. What had he done? He had simply made a
gentle allusion to the next world, as, surely, it was his duty to do.
Whether this old pagan did or did not believe in a next world himself,
he must at any rate be aware that it is the peculiar business of a
clergyman to make such references. As to 'impertinent' and 'unmanly,'
he would let them go by. He was, he conceived, bound by his calling to
be what people called impertinent, and manliness had nothing to do with
him. But 'inhuman' and blasphemous!' Why had he come all the way over
from Plum-cum-Pippins, at considerable personal expense, except in
furtherance of that highest humanity which concerns itself with
eternity? And as for blasphemy, it might, he thought, as well be said
that he was blasphemous whenever he read the Bible aloud to his flock!
His first idea was to write an exhaustive letter on the subject to
Mr. Caldigate, in which he would invite that gentleman to recall the
offensive words. But as he drove his gig into the parsonage yard at
Plum-cum-Pippins, he made up his mind that this, too, was among the
things which a Christian minister should bear with patience.

But the dropping water always does hollow the stone,--hollow it a little
though the impression may not be visible to the naked eye. Even when
rising in his wrath, Mr. Caldigate had crushed the clergyman by the
violence of his language,--having been excited to anger chiefly by the
thick-headedness of the man in not having understood the rebuke intended
to be conveyed by his earlier and gentler words,--even when leaving the
man, with a full conviction that the man was crushed, the old Squire was
aware that he, the stone, was being gradually hollowed. Hester was now
very dear to him. From the first she had suited his ideas of a wife for
his son. And her constancy in her misery had wound itself into his
heart. He quite understood that her welfare should now be his great
care. There was no one else from whom she would listen to a word of
advice. From her husband, whose slightest word would have been a law to
her, no word could now come. From her own family she was entirely
estranged, having been taught to regard them simply as enemies in this
matter. She loved her mother; but in this matter her mother was her
declared enemy. His voice, and his voice alone, could now reach her
ears. As to that great hereafter to which the clergyman had so
flippantly alluded, he was content to leave that to herself. Much as he
differed from her as to details of a creed, he felt sure that she was
safe there. To his thinking, she was the purest human being that had
ever come beneath his notice. Whatever portion of bliss there may be for
mankind in a life after this life, the fullest portion of that bliss
would be hers, whether by reason of her creed or in spite of it.
Accustomed to think much of things, it was thus that he thought of her
in reference to the world to come. But as to this world, he was not
quite so sure. If she could die and have that other bliss at once, that
would be best,--only for the child, only for the child! But he did
doubt. Would it do for her to ignore that verdict altogether, when his
son should be released from jail, and be to him as though there had been
no verdict? Would not the finger of scorn be pointed at her;--and, as he
thought of it,--possibly at future children? Might it not be better for
her to bow to the cruelty of Fate, and consent to be apart from him at
any rate while that woman should be alive? And again, if such would be
better, then was it not clear that no time should be lost in beginning
that new life? If at last it should be ruled that she must go back to
her mother, it would certainly be well that she should do so now, at
once, so that people might know that she had yielded to the verdict. In
this way the stone was hollowed--though the hollowing had not been made
visible to the naked eye of Mr. Smirkie.

He was a man whose conscience did not easily let him rest when he
believed that a duty was incumbent on him. It was his duty now, he
thought, not to bid her go, not to advise her to go,--but to put before
her what reasons there might be for her going.

'I am telling you,' he said, 'what other people say.'

'I do not regard what other people say.'

'That might be possible for a man, Hester, but a woman has to regard
what the world says. You are young, and may have a long life before you.
We cannot hide from ourselves the fact that a most terrible misfortune
has fallen upon you, altogether undeserved but very grievous.'

'God, when he gave me my husband,' she replied, 'did me more good than
any man can do me harm by taking him away. I never cease to tell myself
that the blessing is greater than the misfortune.'

'But, my dearest----'

'I know it all, father. I know what you would tell me. If I live here
after he comes out of prison people will say that I am his mistress.'

'Not that, not that,' he cried, unable to bear the contumely of the
word, even from her lips.

'Yes, father; that is what you mean. That is what they all mean. That is
what mamma means, and Margaret. Let them call me what they will. It is
not what they call me, but what I am. It is bad for a woman to have evil
said of her, but it is worse for her to do evil. It is your house, and
you, of course, can bid me go.'

'I will never do that.'

'But unless I am turned out homeless on to the roads, I will stay here
where he left me. I have only one sure way of doing right, and that is
to obey him as closely as I can. He cannot order me now, but he has left
his orders. He has told me to remain under this roof, and to call myself
by his name, and in no way to derogate from my own honour as his wife.
By God's help I will do as he bids me. Nothing that any of them can say
shall turn me an inch from the way he has pointed out. You are good to
me.'

'I will try to be good to you.'

'You are so good to me that I can hardly understand your goodness.
Trusting to that, I will wait here till he shall come again and tell me
where and how I am to live.'

After that the old Squire made no further attempt in the same direction,
finding that no slightest hollow had been made on that other stone.



Chapter XLV

The Boltons Are Much Troubled



The condition of the inhabitants of Puritan Grange during the six weeks
immediately after the verdict was very sad indeed. I have described
badly the character of the lady living there, if I have induced my
readers to think that her heart was hardened against her daughter. She
was a woman of strong convictions and bitter prejudices; but her heart
was soft enough. When she married, circumstances had separated her
widely from her own family, in which she had never known either a
brother or a sister; and the burden of her marriage with an old man had
been brightened to her by the possession of an only child,--of one
daughter, who had been the lamp of her life, the solitary delight of her
heart, the single relief to the otherwise solitary tedium of her
monotonous existence. She had, indeed attended to the religious training
of her girl with constant care;--but the yearnings of her maternal heart
had softened even her religion, so that the laws, and dogmas, and texts,
and exercises by which her husband was oppressed, and her servants
afflicted, had been made lighter for Hester,--sometimes not without
pangs of conscience on the part of the self-convicted parent. She had
known, as well as other mothers, how to gloat over the sweet charms of
the one thing which in all the world had been quite her own. She had
revelled in kisses and soft touches. Her Hester's garments had been a
delight to her, till she had taught herself to think that though
sackcloth and ashes were the proper wear for herself and her husband,
nothing was too soft, too silken, too delicate for her little girl. The
roses in the garden, and the goldfish in the bowl, and the pet spaniel,
had been there because such surroundings had been needed for the
joyousness of her girl. And the theological hardness of the literature
of the house had been somewhat mitigated as Hester grew into reading, so
that Watt was occasionally relieved by Wordsworth, and Thomson's
'Seasons' was alternated with George Withers's 'Hallelujah.'

Then had come, first the idea of the marriage, and, immediately
consequent upon the idea, the marriage itself. The story of that has
been told, but the reader has perhaps hardly been made to understand the
utter bereavement which it brought on the mother. It is natural that the
adult bird should delight to leave the family nest, and that the mother
bird should have its heart-strings torn by the separation. It must be
so, alas! even when the divulsions are made in the happiest manner. But
here the tearing away had nothing in it to reconcile the mother. She was
suddenly told that her daughter was to be no longer her own. Her
step-son had interfered and her husband had become powerful over her
with a sudden obstinacy. She had had no hand in the choice. She would
fain have postponed any choice, and would then fain have herself made
the choice. But a man was brought who was distasteful to her at all
points, and she was told that that man was to have her daughter! He was
thoroughly distasteful He had been a spendthrift and a gambler;--then a
seeker after gold in wild, godless countries, and, to her thinking, not
at all the better because he had been a successful seeker. She believed
the man to be an atheist. She was told that his father was an infidel,
and was ready to believe the worst of the son. And yet in this terrible
emergency she was powerless. The girl was allowed to see the man, and
declared almost at once that she would transfer herself from her
mother's keeping to the keeping of this wicked one! She was transferred,
and the mother had been left alone.

Then came the blow,--very quickly, the blow which, as she now told
herself morning, noon, and night, was no worse than she had expected.
Another woman claimed the man as her husband, and so claimed him that
the world all around her had declared that the claim would be made good.
And the man himself had owned enough to make him unfit,--as she
thought,--to have the custody of any honest woman. Then she acknowledged
to herself the full weight of the misfortune that had fallen upon
them,--the misfortune which never would have fallen upon them had they
listened to her counsel,--and she had immediately put her shoulders to
the wheel with the object of rescuing her child from the perils, from
the sin, from the degradation of her position. And could she have
rescued her, could she have induced her daughter to remain at Puritan
Grange, there would even then have been consolation. It was one of the
tenets of her life,--the strongest, perhaps, of all those doctrines on
which she built her faith,--that this world is a world of woe; that
wailing and suffering, if not gnashing of teeth, is and should be the
condition of mankind preparatory to eternal bliss. For eternal bliss
there could, she thought, be no other preparation She did not want to be
happy here, or to have those happy around her whom she loved. She had
stumbled and gone astray,--she told herself hourly now that she had
stumbled and gone astray,--in preparing those roses and ribbons, and
other lightnesses for her young girl. It should have been all sackcloth
and ashes. Had it been all sackcloth and ashes there would not have been
this terrible fall. But if the loved one would now come back to
sackcloth and ashes,--if she would assent to the blackness of religious
asceticism, to penitence and theological gloom, and would lead the life
of the godly but comfortless here in order that she might insure the
glories and joys of the future life, then there might be
consolation;--then it might be felt that this tribulation had been a
precious balm by which an erring soul had been brought back to its due
humility.

But Wordsworth and Thomson, though upon the whole moral poets, had done
their work. Or, if not done altogether by them, the work had been done
by the latitude which had admitted them. So that the young wife, when
she found herself breathing the free air with which her husband
surrounded her, was able to burst asunder the remnants of those cords of
fanaticism with which her mother had endeavoured to constrain her. She
looked abroad, and soon taught herself to feel that the world was bright
and merry, that this mortal life was by no means necessarily a place of
gloom, and the companionship of the man to whom Providence had allotted
her was to her so happy, so enjoyable, so sufficient, that she found
herself to have escaped from a dark prison and to be roaming among
shrubs and flowers, and running waters, which were ever green, which
never faded, and the music of which was always in her ears. When the
first tidings of Euphemia Smith came to Folking she was in all her
thoughts and theories of life poles asunder from her mother. There might
be suffering and tribulation,--suffering even to death. But her idea of
the manner in which the suffering should be endured and death awaited
was altogether opposed to that which was hot within her mother's bosom.

But not the less did the mother still pray, still struggle, and still
hope. They, neither of them, quite understood each other, but the mother
did not at all understand the daughter. She, the mother, knew what the
verdict had been, and was taught to believe that by that verdict the
very ceremony of her daughter's marriage had been rendered null and
void. It was in vain that the truth of the matter came to her from
Robert Bolton, diluted through the vague explanations of her husband.
'It does not alter the marriage, Robert says.' So it was that the old
man told his tale, not perfectly understanding, not even quite
believing, what his son had told him.

'How can he dare to say so?' demanded the indignant mother of the
injured woman. 'Not alter the marriage when the jury have declared that
the other woman is his wife! In the eyes of God she is not his wife.
That cannot be imputed as sin to her,--not that,--because she did it not
knowing. She, poor innocent, was betrayed. But now that she knows it,
every mouthful that she eats of his bread is a sin.'

'It is the old man's bread,' said this older man, weakly.

'What matter? It is the bread of adultery.' It may certainly be said
that at this time Mrs. Bolton herself would have been relieved from none
of her sufferings by any new evidence which would have shown that
Crinkett and the others had sworn falsely. Though she loved her daughter
dearly, though her daughter's misery made her miserable, yet she did not
wish to restore the husband to the wife. Any allusion to a possibility
that the verdict had been a mistaken verdict was distasteful to her. Her
own original opinion respecting Caldigate had been made good by the
verdict. The verdict had proved her to be right, and her husband with
all his sons to have been wrong. The triumph had been very dark to her;
but still it had been a triumph. It was to her an established fact that
John Caldigate was not her daughter's husband and therefore she was
anxious, not to rehabilitate her daughter's position, but to receive her
own miserable child once more beneath the shelter of her own wing. That
they two might pray together, struggle together, together wear their
sackcloth and ashes, and together console themselves with their hopes of
eternal joys, while they shuddered, not altogether uncomfortably, at
the torments prepared for others,--this was now the only outlook in
which she could find a gleam of satisfaction; and she was so assured of
the reasonableness of her wishes, so convinced that the house of her
parents was now the only house in which Hester could live without
running counter to the precepts of her own religion, and counter also to
the rules of the wicked outside world, that she could not bring herself
to believe but that she would succeed at last. Merely to ask her child
to come, to repeat the invitation, and then to take a refusal, was by no
means sufficient for her energy. She had failed grievously when she had
endeavoured to make her daughter a prisoner at the Grange. After such an
attempt as that, it could hardly be thought that ordinary invitations
would be efficacious. But when that attempt had been made, it was
possible that Hester should justify herself by the law. According to law
she had then been Caldigate's wife. There had been some ground for her
to stand upon as a wife, and as a wife she had stood upon it very
firmly. But now there was not an inch of ground. The man had been
convicted as a bigamist, and the other woman, the first woman, had been
proved to be his wife. Mrs. Bolton had got it into her head that the two
had been dissevered as though by some supernal power; and no explanation
to the contrary, brought to her by her husband from Robert, had any
power of shaking her conviction. It was manifest to all men and to all
women, that she who had been seduced, betrayed, and sacrificed should
now return with her innocent babe to the protection of her father's
roof; and no stone must be left unturned till the unfortunate one had
been made to understand her duty.

The old banker in these days had not a good time, nor, indeed, had the
Boltons generally. Mrs. Bolton, though prone to grasp at power on every
side, was apt, like some other women who are equally grasping, to
expect almost omnipotence from the men around her when she was desirous
that something should be done by them in accordance with her own
bidding. Knowing her husband to be weak from age and sorrow, she could
still jeer at him because he was not abnormally strong; and though her
intercourse with his sons and their families was now scanty and
infrequent, still by a word here and a line there she could make her
reproaches felt by them all. Robert, who saw his father every day, heard
very much of them. Daniel was often stung, and even Nicholas. And the
reproaches reached as far as William, the barrister up in London.

'I am sure I don't know what we can do,' said the miserable father,
sitting huddled up in his arm-chair one evening towards the end of
August. It was very hot, but the windows were closed because he could
not bear a draught, and he was somewhat impatiently waiting for the hour
of prayers which were antecedent to bed, where he could be silent even
if he could not sleep.

'There are five of you. One should be at the house every day to tell her
of her duty.'

'I couldn't go.'

'They could go,--if they cared. If they cared they would go. They are
her brothers.'

'Mr. Caldigate would not let them enter the house,' said the old man.

'Do you mean that he would separate her from her brother and her
parents?'

'Not if she wished to see them. She is her own mistress, and he will
abet her in whatever she may choose to do. That is what Robert says.'

'And what Robert says is to be law?'

'He knows what he is talking about.' Mr. Bolton as he said this shook
his head angrily, because he was fatigued.

'And he is to be your guide even when your daughter's soul is in
jeopardy?' This was the line of argument in reference to which Mr.
Bolton always felt himself to be as weak as water before his wife. He
did not dare to rebel against her religious supremacy, not simply
because he was a weak old man in presence of a strong woman, but from
fear of denunciation. He, too, believed her creed, though he was made
miserable by her constant adherence to it. He believed, and would fain
have let that suffice. She believed, and endeavoured to live up to her
belief. And so it came to pass that when she spoke to him of his own
soul, of the souls of those who were dear to him, or even of souls in
general, he was frightened and paralysed. He had more than once
attempted to reply with worldly arguments, but had suffered so much in
the encounter that he had learned to abstain. 'I cannot believe that she
would refuse to see us. I shall go myself; but if we all went we should
surely persuade her.' In answer to this the poor man only groaned, till
the coming in of the old servant to arrange the chairs and put the big
Bible on the table relieved him from something of his misery.

'I certainly will not interfere,' Robert Bolton said to his father on
the next morning. 'I will not go to Folking, because I am sure that I
should do no good. Hester, no doubt, would be better at your
house,--much better. There is nothing I would not do to get her back
from the Caldigates altogether,--if there was a chance of success. But
we have no power;--none whatever.'

'No power at all,' said the banker, shaking his head, and feeling some
satisfaction at the possession of an intelligible word which he could
quote to his wife.

'She is controller of her own actions as completely as are you and I. We
have already seen how inefficacious with her are all attempts at
persuasion. And she knows her position. If he were out of prison
to-morrow he would be her husband.'

'But he has another wife.'

'Of that the civil law knows nothing. If money were coming to her he
could claim it, and the verdict against him would only be evidence, to
be taken for what it was worth. It would have been all very well had she
wished to sever herself from him; but as she is determined not to do so,
any interference would be useless.' The question as to the marriage or
no marriage was not made quite clear to the banker's mind, but he did
understand that neither he, nor his wife, nor his sons had 'any power,'
and of that argument he was determined to make use.

William, the barrister in London, was induced to write a letter, a very
lengthy and elaborate epistle having come from Mrs. Bolton to his wife,
in which the religious duty of all the Boltons was set forth in strong
language, and in which he was incited to do something. It was almost the
first letter which Mrs. William Bolton had ever received from her
step-mother, whatever trifling correspondence there might have been
between them having been of no consequence. They, too, felt that it
would be better that Hester should return to her old home, but felt also
that they had no power. 'Of course, she won't,' said Mrs. William.

'She has a will of her own,' said the barrister.

'Why should she? Think of the gloom of that home at Chesterton, and her
absolute independence at Folking. No doubt it would be better. The
position is so frightful that even the gloom would be better. But she
won't. We all know that.'

The barrister, however, feeling that it would be better, thought that he
should perform his duty by expressing his opinion, and wrote a letter to
Hester, which was intended to be if possible persuasive;--and this was
the answer:--


    'DEAR WILLIAM,--If you were carried away to prison on some horrible
    false accusation, would Fanny go away from you, and desert your
    house and your affairs, and return to her parents? You ask her, and
    ask her whether she would believe anything that anybody could say
    against you. If they told her that her children were nameless, would
    she agree to make them so by giving up your name? Wouldn't she cling
    to you the more, the more all the world was against you?' ('I
    would,' said Fanny, with tearful energy. 'Fanny' was, of course,
    Mrs. William Bolton, and was the happy mother of five nearly
    grown-up sons and daughters, and certainly stood in no peril as to
    her own or their possession of the name of Bolton. The letter was
    being read aloud to her by her husband, whose mind was also stirred
    in his sister's favour by the nature of the arguments used.) 'If
    so,' continued the writer, 'why shouldn't I be the same? I don't
    believe a word the people said. I am sure I am his wife. And as,
    when he was taken away from me, he left a house for his wife and
    child to live in, I shall continue to live in it.

    'All the same, I know you mean to be good to me. Give my best love
    to Fanny, and believe me your affectionate sister,

    'HESTER CALDIGATE.'


In every letter and stroke of the name as she wrote it there was an
assertion that she claimed it as her own, and that she was not ashamed
of it.

'Upon my word,' said Mrs. William Bolton, through her tears, 'I am
beginning to think that she is almost right.' There was so much of
conjugal proper feeling in this that the husband could only kiss his
wife and leave her without further argument on the matter.



Chapter XLVI

Burning Words



'No power at all; none whatever,' the banker said, when he was next
compelled to carry on the conversation. This was immediately upon his
return home from Cambridge, for his wife never allowed the subject to be
forgotten or set aside. Every afternoon and every evening it was being
discussed at all hours not devoted to prayers, and every morning it was
renewed at the breakfast-table.

'That comes from Robert.' Mr. Bolton was not able to deny the assertion.
'What does he mean by "no power"?'

'We can't make her do it. The magistrates can't interfere.'

'Magistrates! Has it been by the interference of magistrates that men
have succeeded in doing great things? Was it by order from the
magistrates that the lessons of Christ have been taught over all the
world? Is there no such thing as persuasion? Has truth no power? Is she
more deaf to argument and eloquence than another?'

'She is very deaf, I think,' said the father, doubting his own
eloquence.

'It is because no one has endeavoured to awaken her by burning words to
a true sense of her situation When she said this she must surely have
forgotten much that had occurred during those weary hours which had been
passed by her and her daughter outside there in the hall. 'No power!'
she repeated. 'It is the answer always made by those who are too sleepy
to do the Lord's work. It was because men said that they had no power
that the grain fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth. It
is that aversion to face difficulties which causes the broad path to be
crowded with victims. I, at any rate, will go. I may have no power, but
I will make the attempt.'

Soon after that she did make the attempt. Mr. Bolton, though he was
assured by Robert that such an attempt would produce no result, could
not interfere to prevent it. Had he been far stronger than he was in his
own house, he could hardly have forbidden the mother to visit the
daughter. Hester had sent word to say that she did not wish to see even
her mother. But this had been immediately after the verdict, when she
was crushed and almost annihilated by her misery. Some weeks had now
passed by, and it could not be that she would refuse to admit the
visitor, when such a visitor knocked at her door. They had loved each
other as mothers and daughters do love when there is no rival in the
affection,--when each has no one else to love. There never had been a
more obedient child, or a more loving parent. Much, no doubt, had
happened since to estrange the daughter from the mother. A husband had
been given to her who was more to her than any parent,--as a husband
should be. And then there had been that terrible opposition, that
struggle, that battle in the hall. But the mother's love had never waned
because of that. She was sure that her child would not refuse to see
her.

So the fly was ordered to take her out to Folking, and on the morning
fixed she dressed herself in her blackest black. She always wore brown
or black,--brown being the colour suitable for the sober and sad
domesticities of her week-days, which on ceremonies and Sabbath was
changed for a more solemn black. But in her wardrobe there were two such
gowns, one of which was apparently blacker than the other, nearer to a
guise of widowhood,--more fit, at any rate, for general funereal
obsequies. There are women who seem always to be burying someone; and
Mrs. Bolton, as she went forth to visit her daughter, was fit to bury
any one short of her husband.

It was a hot day in August, and the fly travelled along the dusty road
very slowly. She had intended to reach Folking at twelve, so that her
interview might be over and that she might return without the need of
eating. There is always some idea of festivity connected with food eaten
at a friend's table, and she did not wish to be festive. She was, too,
most unwilling to partake of John Caldigate's bread. But she did not
reach the house till one, and when she knocked at the door Hester's
modest lunch was about to be put upon the table.

There was considerable confusion when the servant saw Mrs. Bolton
standing in the doorway. It was quite understood by everyone at Folking
that for the present there was to be no intercourse between the Boltons
and the Caldigates. It was understood that there should be no visitors
of any kind at Folking, and it had been thought that Mr. Smirkie had
forced an entrance in an impertinent manner. But yet it was not possible
to send Mrs. Bolton from her own daughter's door with a mere 'not at
home.' Of course she was shown in,--and was taken to the parlour, in
which the lunch was prepared, while word was taken up to Hester
announcing that her mother was there.

Mr. Caldigate was in the house,--in his own book-room, as it used to be
called,--and Hester went to him first. 'Mamma is here,--in the
dining-room.'

'Your mother!'

'I long to see mamma.'

'Of course you do.'

'But she will want me to go away with her.'

'She cannot take you unless you choose to go.'

'But she will speak of nothing else. I know it. I wish she had not
come.'

'Surely, Hester, you can make her understand that your mind is made up.'

'Yes, I shall do that. I must do that. But, father, it will be very
painful. You do not know what things she can say. It nearly killed me
when I was at the Grange. You will not see her, I suppose?'

'If you wish it, I will. She will not care to see me; and as things are
at present, what room is there for friendship?'

'You will come if I send for you?'

'Certainly. If you send for me I will come at once.'

Then she crept slowly out of the room, and very slowly and very silently
made her way to the parlour-door. Though she was of a strong nature,
unusually strong of heart and fixed of purpose, now her heart misgave
her. That terrible struggle, with all its incidents of weariness and
agony, was present to her mind. Her mother could not turn the lock on
her now; but, as she had said, it would be very dreadful. Her mother
would say words to her which would go through her like swords. Then she
opened the door, and for a moment there was the sweetness of an embrace.
There was a prolonged tenderness in the kiss which, even to Mrs. Bolton,
had a charm for the moment to soften her spirit. 'Oh, mamma; my own
mamma!'

'My child!'

'Yes, mamma;--every day when I pray for you I tell myself that I am
still your child,--I do.'

'My only one! my only one!--all that I have!' Then again they were in
each other's arms. Yet, when they had last met, one had been the jailer,
and the other the prisoner; and they had fought it out between them with
a determined obstinacy which at moments had almost amounted to hatred.
But now the very memory of these sad hours increased their tenderness.
'Hester, through it all, do you not know that my heart yearns for you
day and night?--that in my prayers I am always remembering you? that my
dreams are happy because you are with me? that I am ever longing for
you as Ruth longed for Naomi? I am as Rachel weeping for her children,
who would not be comforted because they are not. Day and night my
heart-strings are torn asunder because my eyes behold you not.'

It was true,--and the daughter knew it to be true. But what could be
done? There had grown up something for her, holier, greater, more
absorbing even than a mother's love. Happily for most young wives,
though the new tie may surmount the old one, it does not crush it or
smother it. The mother retains a diminished hold, and knowing what
nature has intended is content. She, too, with some subsidiary worship,
kneels at the new altar, and all is well. But here, though there was
abundant love, there was no sympathy. The cause of discord was ever
present to them both. Unless John Caldigate was acknowledged to be a
fitting husband, not even the mother could be received with a full
welcome. And unless John Caldigate were repudiated, not even the
daughter could be accepted as altogether pure. Parental and filial
feelings sufficed for nothing between them beyond the ecstasy of a
caress.

As Hester was standing mute, still holding her mother's hand, the
servant came to the door, and asked whether she would have her lunch.

'You will stay and eat with me, mamma? But you will come up to my room
first?'

'I will go up to your room, Hester.'

'Then we will have our lunch,' Hester said, turning to the servant. So
the two went together to the upper chamber, and in a moment the mother
had fetched her baby, and placed it in her mother's arms.

'I wish he were at the Grange,' said Mrs. Bolton. Then Hester shook her
head; but feeling the security of her position, left the baby with its
grandmother. 'I wish he were at the Grange. It is the only fitting home
for him at present.'

'No, mamma; that cannot be.'

'It should be so, Hester. It should be so.'

'Pray do not speak of it, dear mamma.'

'Have I not come here on purpose that I might speak of it? Sweet as it
is to me to have you in my arms, do you not know that I have come for
that purpose,--for that only?'

'It cannot be so.'

'I will not take such an answer, Hester. I am not here to speak of
pleasure or delights,--not to speak of sweet companionship, or even of a
return to that more godly life which, I think, you would find in your
father's house. Had not this ruin come, unhappy though I might have
been, and distrustful, I should not have interfered. Those whom God has
joined together, let not man put asunder.'

'It is what I say to myself every hour. God has joined us, and no man,
no number of men, shall put us asunder.'

'But, my own darling,--God has not joined you! When he pretended to be
joined to you, he had a wife then living,--still living.'

'No.'

'Will you set up your own opinion against evidence which the jury has
believed, which the judge has believed, which all the world has
believed?'

'Yes, I will,' said Hester, the whole nature of whose face was now
altered, and who looked as she did when sitting in the hall-chair at
Puritan Grange,--'I will. Though I were almost to know that he had been
false, I should still believe him to be true.'

'I cannot understand that, Hester.'

'But I know him to be true,--quite true,' she said, wishing to erase the
feeling which her unguarded admission had made. 'Not to believe him to
have been true would be death to me; and for my boy's sake, I would wish
to live. But I have no doubt, and I will listen to no one,--not even to
you, when you tell me that God did not join us together.'

'You cannot go behind the law, Hester. As a citizen, you must obey the
law.'

'I will live here,--as a citizen,--till he has been restored to me.'

'But he will not then be your husband. People will not call you by his
name. He cannot have two wives. She will be his wife. Oh, Hester, have
you thought of it?'

'I have thought of it,' she said, raising her face, looking upwards
through the open window, out away towards the heavens, and pressing her
foot firmly upon the floor. 'I have thought of it,--very much; and I
have asked--the Lord--for counsel. And He has given it me. He has told
me what to believe, what to know, and how to live. I will never again
lie with my head upon his bosom unless all that be altered. But I will
serve him as his wife, and obey him; and if I can I will comfort him. I
will never desert him. And not all the laws that were ever made, nor all
the judges that ever sat in judgment shall make me call myself by
another name than his.'

The mother had come there to speak burning words, and she had in some
sort prepared them; but now she found herself almost silenced by the
energy of her daughter. And when her girl told her that she had applied
to her God for counsel, and that the Lord had answered her prayers--that
the Lord had directed her as to her future life,--then the mother hardly
knew how to mount to higher ground, so as to seem to speak from a more
exalted eminence. And yet she was not at all convinced. That the Lord
should give bad counsel she knew to be impossible. That the Lord would
certainly give good counsel to such a suppliant, if asked aright, she
was quite sure. But they who send others to the throne of heaven for
direct advice are apt to think that the asking will not be done aright
unless it be done with their spirit and their bias,--with the spirit and
bias which they feel when they recommend the operation. No one has ever
thought that direct advice from the Lord was sufficient authority for
the doing of that of which he himself disapproved. It was Mrs. Bolton's
daily custom to kneel herself and ask for such counsel, and to enjoin
such asking upon all those who were subject to her influence. But had
she been assured by some young lady to whom she had recommended the
practice that heavenly warrant had thus been secured for balls and
theatres, she would not have scrupled to declare that the Lord had
certainly not been asked aright. She was equally certain of some
defalcation now. She did not doubt that Hester had done as she had said.
That the prayer had been put up with energetic fervour, she was sure.
But energetic fervour in prayer was, she thought, of no use,--nay, was
likely to be most dangerous, when used in furtherance of human
prepossessions and desires. Had Hester said her prayers with a proper
feeling of self-negation,--in that religious spirit which teaches the
poor mortal here on earth to know that darkness and gloom are safer than
mirth and comfort,--then the Lord would have told her to leave Folking,
to go back to Puritan Grange, and to consent once more to be called
Hester Bolton. This other counsel had not come from the Lord,--had come
only from Hester's own polluted heart. But she was not at the moment
armed with words sufficiently strong to explain all this.

'Hester,' she said, 'does not all this mean that your own proud spirit
is to have a stronger dominion over you than the experience and wisdom
of all your friends?'

'Perhaps it does. But, at any rate, my proud spirit will retain its
pride.'

'You will be obstinate?'

'Certainly I will. Nothing on earth shall make me leave this house till
I am told by its owner to go.'

'Who is its owner? Old Mr. Caldigate is its owner.'

'I hardly know. Though John has explained it again and again, I am so
bad at such things that I am not sure. But I can do what I please with
it. I am the mistress here. As you say that the Grange is your house, I
can say that this is mine. It is the abode appointed for me, and here I
will abide.'

'Then, Hester, I can only tell you that you are sinning. It is a heavy,
grievous, and most obvious sin.'

'Dear mother,--dear mamma; I knew how it would be if you came. It is
useless for me to say more. Were I to go away, that to me would be the
sin. Why should we discuss it any more? There comes a time to all of us
when we must act on our own responsibility. My husband is in prison, and
cannot personally direct me. No doubt I could go, were I so pleased. His
father would not hinder me, though he is most unwilling that I should
go. I must judge a little for myself. But I have his judgment to fall
back upon. He told me to stay, and I shall stay.'

Then there was a pause, during which Mrs. Bolton was thinking of her
burning words,--was remembering the scorn with which she had treated her
husband when he told her that they had 'no power.' She had endeavoured
herself not to be sleepy in doing the Lord's work. But her seed, too,
had fallen upon stony places. She was powerless to do, or even to say,
anything further. 'Then I may go,' she muttered.

'You will come and eat with me, mamma?'

'No, my dear,--no.'

'You do not wish that there should be a quarrel?'

'There is very much, Hester, that I do not wish. I have long ceased to
trust much to any wishes. There is a great gulf between us, and I will
not attempt to bridge it by the hollow pretence of sitting at table with
you. I will still pray that you may be restored to me.' Then she went to
the door.

'Mamma, you will kiss me before you go?'

'I will cover you with kisses when you return to your own home.' But in
spite of this, Hester went down with her into the hall, holding by her
raiment; and as Mrs. Bolton got into the fly, she did succeed in kissing
her mother's hand.

'She has gone,' said Hester, going to her father-in-law's room. 'Though
I was so glad to see her, I wish she had not come. When people think so
very, very differently on a matter which is so very, very important, it
is better that they should not meet, let them love each other ever so.'

As far as Hester and Mr. Caldigate were concerned the visit had in truth
been made without much inconvenience. There had been no absolute
violence,--no repetition of such outward quarrelling as had made those
two days at the Grange so memorable. There was almost a feeling of
relief in Hester's bosom when her mother was driven away after that
successful grasp at the parting hand. Though they had differed much,
they had not hated each other during that last half-hour. Hester had
been charged with sin;--which, however, had been a matter of course. But
in Mrs. Bolton's heart there was a feeling which made her return home
very uncomfortable. Having twitted her husband with his lack of power,
she had been altogether powerless herself; and now she was driven to
confess to herself that no further step could be taken. 'She is
obstinate,' she said to her husband,--'stiff-necked in her sin, as are
all determined sinners. I can say no more to her. It may be that the
Lord will soften her heart when her sorrows have endured yet for a
time.' But she said no more of burning words, or of eloquence, or of the
slackness of the work of those who work as though they were not in
earnest.



Chapter XLVII

Curlydown and Bagwax



There had been a sort of pledge given at the trial by Sir John Joram
that the matter of the envelope should be further investigated. He had
complained in his defence that the trial had been hurried on,--that time
had not been allowed for full inquiries, seeing that the character of
the deed by which his client had been put in jeopardy depended upon what
had been done on the other side of the globe. 'This crime,' he had said,
'if it be a crime, was no doubt committed in the parish church of
Utterden in the early part of last year; but all the evidence which has
been used or which could be used to prove it to have been a crime, has
reference to things done long ago, and far away. Time has not been
allowed us for rebutting this evidence by counter-evidence.' And yet
much time had been allowed. The trial had been postponed from the spring
to the summer assizes; and then the offence was one which, from its very
nature, required speedy notice. The Boltons, who became the instigators
of the prosecution, demanded that the ill-used woman should be relieved
as quickly as possible from her degradation. There had been a general
feeling that the trial should not be thrown over to another year; and,
as we are aware, it had been brought to judgment and the convicted
criminal was in jail. But Sir John still persevered, and to this
perseverance he had been instigated very much by a certain clerk in the
post-office.

Two post-office clerks had been used as witnesses at the trial, of whom
the elder, Mr. Curlydown, had been by no means a constant or an
energetic witness. A witness, when he is brought up for the defence,
should not be too scrupulous, or he will be worse than useless. In a
matter of fact a man can only say what he saw, or tell what he heard, or
declare what he knew. He should at least do no more. Though it be to
save his father, he should not commit perjury. But when it comes to
opinion, if a man allows himself to waver, he will be taken as thinking
the very opposite of what he does think. Such had been the case with Mr.
Curlydown. He had intended to be very correct. He had believed that the
impression of the Sydney stamp was on the whole adverse to the idea that
it had been obtained in the proper way; and yet he had, when
cross-examined, acknowledged that it might very probably have been
obtained in the proper way. It certainly had not been 'smudged' at all,
and such impressions generally did become 'smudged.' But then he was
made to say also that impressions very often did not become smudged. And
as to the word 'Nobble' which should have been stamped upon the
envelope, he thought that in such a case its absence was very
suspicious; but still he was brought to acknowledge that post-masters in
provincial offices far away from inspection, frequently omit that part
of their duty. All this had tended to rob the envelope of those
attributes of deceit and conspiracy which Sir John Joram attributed to
it, and had justified the judge in his opinion that Mr. Curlydown's
evidence had told them little or nothing. But even Mr. Curlydown had
found more favour with the judge than Samuel Bagwax, the junior of the
two post-office witnesses. Samuel Bagwax had perhaps been a little too
energetic. He had made the case his own, and was quite sure that the
envelope had been tampered with. I think that the counsel for the Crown
pressed his witness unfairly when he asked Mr. Bagwax whether he was
absolutely certain that an envelope with such an impression could not
have passed through the post-office in the ordinary course of business.
'Nothing is impossible,' Mr. Bagwax had replied. 'Is it not very much
within the sphere of possibility?' the learned gentleman had asked. The
phrase was misleading, and Mr. Bagwax was induced to say that it might
be so. But still his assurance would probably have had weight with the
jury but for the overstrained honesty of his companion. The judge had
admonished the jury that in reference to such a point they should use
their own common-sense rather than the opinion of such a man as Mr.
Bagwax. A man of ordinary common-sense would know how the mark made by a
die on a letter would be affected by the sort of manipulation to which
the letter bearing it would be subjected;--and so on. From all which it
came to pass that the judge was understood to have declared that that
special envelope might very well have passed in ordinary course through
the Sydney post-office.

But Samuel Bagwax was not a man to be put down by the injustice of
lawyers. He knew himself to have been ill-treated. He was confident that
no man alive was more competent than himself to form an opinion on such
a subject; and he was sure, quite sure,--perhaps a little too
sure,--that there had been some dishonesty with that envelope. And thus
he became a strong partisan of John Caldigate and of Mrs. John
Caldigate. If there had been tampering with that envelope, then the
whole thing was fraudulent, false, and the outcome of a base conspiracy.
Many points were present to his mind which the lawyers between them
would not allow him to explain properly to a jury. When had that die
been cut, by which so perfect an impression had been formed? If it could
be proved that it had been cut since the date it bore, then of course
the envelope would be fraudulent. But it was only in Sydney that this
could be ascertained. He was sure that a week's ordinary use would have
made the impression less perfect. Some letters must of course be
subjected to new dies, and this letter might in due course have been so
subjected. But it was more probable that a new stamp should have been
selected for a surreptitious purpose. All this could be ascertained by
the book of daily impressions kept in the Sydney post-office;--but
there had not been time to get this evidence from Sydney since this
question of the impression had been ventilated. It was he who had first
given importance to the envelope; and being a resolute and almost heroic
man, he was determined that no injustice on the part of a Crown
prosecutor, no darkness in a judge's mind, no want of intelligence in a
jury, should rob him of the delight of showing how important to the
world was a proper understanding of post-office details. He still
thought that that envelope might be made to prove a conspiracy on the
part of Crinkett and the others, and he succeeded in getting Sir John
Joram to share that belief.

The envelope itself was still preserved among the sacred archives of the
trial. That had not been bodily confided to Samuel Bagwax. But various
photographs had been made of the document, which no doubt reproduced
exactly every letter, every mark, and every line which was to be seen
upon it by the closest inspection. There was the direction, which was
admitted to be in Caldigate's handwriting,--the postage-stamp, with its
obliterating lines,--and the impression of the Sydney postmark. That was
nearly all. The paper of the envelope had no water-marks. Bagwax thought
that if he could get hold of the envelope itself something might be done
even with that; but here Sir John could not go along with him, as it had
been fully acknowledged that the envelope had passed from the possession
of Caldigate into the hands of the woman bearing the written address. If
anything could be done, it must be done by the postmarks,--and those
postmarks Bagwax studied morning, noon, and night.

It had now been decided that Bagwax was to be sent out to Sydney at the
expense of the Caldigates. There had been difficulty as to leave of
absence for such a purpose. The man having been convicted, the
postmaster-general was bound to regard him as guilty, and hesitated to
allow a clerk to be absent so long on behalf of a man who was already in
prison. But the Secretary of State overruled this scruple, and the leave
was to be given. Bagwax was elate,--first and chiefly because he trusted
that he would become the means of putting right a foul and cruel wrong.
For in these days Bagwax almost wept over the hardships inflicted on
that poor lady at Folking. But he was elated also by the prospect of his
travels, and by the godsend of a six months' leave of absence. He was a
little proud, too, at having had this personal attention paid to him by
the Secretary of State. All this was very gratifying. But that which
gratified him was not so charming to his brother clerks. They had never
enjoyed the privilege of leaving that weary office for six months. They
were not allowed to occupy themselves in contemplating an envelope. They
were never specially mentioned by the Secretary of State. Of course
there was a little envy, and a somewhat general feeling that Bagwax,
having got to the weak side of Sir John Joram, was succeeding in having
himself sent out as a first-class overland passenger to Sydney, merely
as a job. Paris to be seen, and the tunnel, and the railways through
Italy, and the Suez Canal,--all these places, not delightful to the
wives of Indian officers coming home or going out, were an Elysium to
the post-office mind. His expenses to be paid for six months on the most
gentleman-like footing, and his salary going on all the time! Official
human nature, good as it generally is, cannot learn that such glories
are to be showered on one not specially deserving head without something
akin to enmity. The general idea, therefore, in the office, was that
Bagwax would do no good in Sydney, that others would have been better
than Bagwax,--in fact, that of all the clerks in all the departments,
Bagwax was the very last man who ought to have been selected for an
enterprise demanding secrecy, discretion, and some judicial severity.

Curlydown and Bagwax occupied the same room at the office in St.
Martin's-le-Grand; and there it was their fate in life to arrange,
inspect, and generally attend to those apparently unintelligible
hieroglyphics with which the outside coverings of our correspondence are
generally bedaubed. Curlydown's hair had fallen from his head, and his
face had become puckered with wrinkles, through anxiety to make these
markings legible and intelligible. The popular newspaper, the popular
member of Parliament, and the popular novelist,--the name of Charles
Dickens will of course present itself to the reader who remembers the
Circumlocution office,--have had it impressed on their several
minds,--and have endeavoured to impress the same idea on the minds of
the public generally,--that the normal Government clerk is quite
indifferent to his work. No greater mistake was ever made, or one
showing less observation of human nature. It is the nature of a man to
appreciate his own work. The felon who is made simply to move shot,
perishes because he knows his work is without aim. The fault lies on the
other side. The policeman is ambitious of arresting everybody. The
lawyer would rather make your will for you gratis than let you make your
own. The General can believe in nothing but in well-trained troops.
Curlydown would willingly have expended the whole net revenue of the
post-office,--and his own,--in improving the machinery for stamping
letters. But he had hardly succeeded in life. He had done his duty, and
was respected by all. He lived comfortably in a suburban cottage with a
garden, having some private means, and had brought up a happy family in
prosperity;--but he had done nothing new. Bagwax, who was twenty years
his junior, had with manifest effects, added a happy drop of turpentine
to the stamping-oil,--and in doing so had broken Curlydown's heart. The
'Bagwax Stamping Mixture' had absolutely achieved a name, which was
printed on the official list of stores. Curlydown's mind was vacillating
between the New River and a pension,--between death in the breach and
acknowledged defeat,--when a new interest was lent to his life by the
Caldigate envelope. It was he who had been first sent by the
Postmaster-General to Sir John Joram's chambers. But the matter had
become too large for himself alone, and in an ill-fated hour Bagwax had
been consulted. Now Bagwax was to be sent to Sydney,--almost with the
appointments of a lawyer!

They still occupied the same room,--a fact which infinitely increased
the torments of Curlydown's position. They ought to have been moved very
far asunder. Curlydown was still engaged in the routine ordinary work of
the day, seeing that the proper changes were made in all the stamps used
during the various hours of the day,--assuring himself that the crosses
and letters and figures upon which so much of the civilisation of Europe
depended, were properly altered and arranged. And it may well be that
his own labours were made heavier by the devotion of his colleagues to
other matters. And yet from time to time Bagwax would ask him questions,
never indeed taking his advice, but still demanding his assistance.
Curlydown was not naturally a man of ill-temper or an angry heart. But
there were moments in which he could hardly abstain from expressing
himself with animosity.

On a certain morning in August, Bagwax was seated at his table, which as
usual was laden with the envelopes of many letters. There were some
hundreds before him, the marks on which he was perusing with a strong
magnifying-glass. It had been arranged that he was to start on his great
journey in the first week in September, and he employed his time before
he went in scanning all the envelopes bearing the Sydney postmark which
he had been able to procure in England. He spent the entire day with a
magnifying-glass in his hand;--but as Curlydown was also always armed in
the same fashion, that was not peculiar. They did much of their work
with such tools.

The date on the envelope,--the date conveyed by the impression, to which
so much attention had been given,--was 10th May 1873. Bagwax had
succeeded in getting covers bearing dates very close to that. The 7th of
May had been among his treasures for some time, and now he had acquired
an entire letter, envelope and all, which bore the Sydney impression of
the 13th May. This was a great triumph. 'I have brought it within a
week,' he said to Curlydown, bending down over his glass, and inspecting
at the same time the two dates.

'What's the good of that?' asked Curlydown, as he passed rapidly under
his own glass the stamps which it was his duty to inspect from day to
day.

'All the good in the world,' said Bagwax, brandishing his own magnifier
with energy. 'It is almost conclusive.' Now the argument with Bagwax was
this,--that if he found in the Sydney postmarks of 7th May, and in those
of 13th May, the same deviations or bruises in the die, those deviations
must have existed also on the days between these two dates;--and as the
impression before him was quite perfect, without any deviation, did it
not follow that it must have been obtained in some manner outside the
ordinary course of business?

'There are a dozen stamps in use at the Sydney office,' said Curlydown.

'Perhaps so; or, at any rate, three or four. But I can trace as well as
possible the times at which new stamps were supplied. Look here.' Then
he threw himself over the multitude of envelopes, all of which had been
carefully arranged as to dates, and began to point out the periods.
'Here, you see, in 1873, there is nothing that quite tallies with the
Caldigate letter. I have measured them to the twentieth part of an inch,
and I am sure that early in May '73 there was not a stamp in use in the
Sydney office which could have made that impression. I have eighteen
Mays '73, and not one of them could have been made by the stamp that did
this.' As he spoke thus, he rapped his finger down on the copy of the
sacred envelope which he was using. 'Is not that conclusive?'

'If it was not conclusive to keep a man from going to prison,' said
Curlydown, remembering the failure of his own examination, 'it will not
be conclusive to get him out again.'

'There I differ. No doubt further evidence is necessary and therefore I
must go to Sydney.'

'If it is conclusive, I don't see why you should go to Sydney at all. If
your proof is so perfect, why should that fellow be kept in prison while
you are running about the world?'

This idea had also occurred to Bagwax, and he had thought whether it
would be possible for him to be magnanimous enough to perfect his proof
in England, so as to get a pardon from the Secretary of State at once,
to his own manifest injury. 'What would satisfy you and me,' said
Bagwax, 'wouldn't satisfy the ignorant.' To the conductor of an omnibus
on the Surrey side of the river, the man who does not know what 'The
Castle' means is ignorant. The outsider who is in a mist as to the
'former question,' or 'the order of the day,' is ignorant to the member
of Parliament. To have no definite date conveyed by the term 'Rogation
Sunday' is to the clerical mind gross ignorance. The horsey man thinks
you have been in bed all your life if the 'near side' is not as
descriptive to you as 'the left hand.' To Bagwax and Curlydown, not to
distinguish postmarks was to be ignorant. 'I fear it wouldn't satisfy
the ignorant,' said Bagwax, thinking of his projected journey to
Sydney.

'Proof is proof,' said Curlydown. 'I don't think you'll ever get him
out. The time has gone by. But you may do just as much here as there.'

'I'm sure we shall get him out. I'll never rest in my bed till we have
got him out.'

'Mr. Justice Bramber won't mind whether you rest in your bed or
not,--nor yet the Secretary of State.'

'Sir John Joram--' began Bagwax. In these discussions Sir John Joram was
always his main staff.

'Sir John Joram has got other fish to fry before this time. It's a
marvel to me, Bagwax, that they should give way to all this nonsense. If
anything could be done, it could be done in half the time,--and if
anything could be done, it could be done here. By the time you're back
from Sydney, Caldigate's time will be half out. Why don't you let Sir
John see your proof? You don't want to lose your trip, I suppose.'

Caldigate was languishing in prison, and that poor, nameless lady was
separated from her husband, and he had the proof lying there on the table
before him,--sufficient proof, as he did in his heart believe! But how
often does it fall to the lot of a post-office clerk to be taken round
the world free of expense? The way Curlydown put it was ill-natured and
full of envy. Bagwax was well aware that Curlydown was instigated solely
by envy. But still, these were his own convictions,--and Bagwax was in
truth a soft-hearted, conscientious man.

'I do think it ought to be enough for any Secretary of State,' said he,
'and I'll go to Sir John Joram to-morrow. Of course, I should like to see
the world;--who wouldn't? But I'd rather be the means of restoring that
fellow to his poor wife, than be sent to all the four quarters of the
globe with a guinea a-day for personal expenses.' In this way he nobly
made up his mind to go at once to Sir John Joram.



Chapter XLVIII

Sir John Joram's Chambers



Mr. Curlydown's insinuations had been very cruel, but also very
powerful. Bagwax, as he considered the matter that night in his bed, did
conscientiously think that a discreet and humane Secretary of State
would let the unfortunate husband out of prison on the evidence which he
(Bagwax) had already collected. My readers will not perhaps agree with
him. The finding of a jury and the sentence of a judge must be regarded
seriously by Secretaries of State, and it is probable that Bagwax's
theory would not make itself clear to that great functionary. A good
many 'ifs' were necessary. If the woman claiming Caldigate as her
husband would swear falsely to anything in that matter, then she would
swear falsely to everything. If this envelope had never passed through
the Sydney post-office then she would have sworn falsely about the
letter,--and therefore her evidence would have been altogether false. If
this postmark had not been made in the due course of business, and on
the date as now seen, then the envelope had not passed regularly through
the Sydney office. So far it was all clear to the mind of Bagwax, and
almost clear that the postmark could not have been made on the date it
bore. The result for which he was striving with true faith had taken
such a hold of his mind, he was so adverse to the Smith-Crinkett
interest, and so generously anxious for John Caldigate and the poor lady
at Folking, that he could not see obstacles;--he could not even clearly
see the very obstacles which made his own going to Sydney seem to others
to be necessary. And yet he longed to go to Sydney with all his heart.
He would be almost broken-hearted if he were robbed of that delight.

In this frame of mind he packed all his envelopes carefully into a large
hand-bag, and started in a cab for Sir John Joram's chambers. 'Where are
you going with them now?' Curlydown asked, somewhat disdainfully, just
as Bagwax was starting. Curlydown had taken upon himself of late to
ridicule the envelopes, and had become almost an anti-Caldigatite.
Bagwax vouchsafed to make him no reply. On the previous afternoon he had
declared his purpose of going at once to Sir John, and had written, as
Curlydown well knew, a letter to Sir John's clerk to make an
appointment. Sir John was known to be in town though it was the end of
August, being a laborious man who contented himself with a little
partridge-shooting by way of holiday. It had been understood that he was
to see Bagwax before his departure. All this had been known to
Curlydown, and the question had been asked only to exasperate. There was
a sarcasm in the 'now' which determined Bagwax to start without a word
of reply.

As he went down to the Temple in the cab he turned over in his mind a
great question which often troubles many of us. How far was he bound to
sacrifice himself for the benefit of others? He had done his duty
zealously in this matter, and now was under orders to continue the work
in a manner which opened up to him a whole paradise of happiness. How
grand was this opportunity of seeing something of the world beyond St.
Martin's-le-Grand! And then the pecuniary gain would be so great!
Hitherto he had received no pay for what he had done. He was a simple
post-office clerk, and was paid for his time by the Crown,--very
moderately. On this projected journey all his expenses would be paid for
him, and still he would have his salary. Sir John Joram had declared the
journey to be quite necessary. The Secretary of State had probably not
occupied his mind much with the matter; but in the mind of Bagwax there
was a fixed idea that the Secretary thought of little else, and that the
Secretary had declared that his hands were tied till Bagwax should have
been to Sydney. But his conscience told him that the journey was not
necessary, and that the delay would be cruel. In that cab Bagwax made up
his mind that he would do his duty like an honest man.

Sir John's chambers in Pump Court were gloomy without, though commodious
and ample within. Bagwax was now well known to the clerk, and was
received almost as a friend. 'I think I've got it all as clear as
running water, Mr. Jones,' he said, feeling no doubt that Sir John's
clerk, Mr. Jones, must feel that interest in the case which pervaded his
own mind.

'That will be a good thing for the gentleman in prison, Mr. Bagwax.'

'And for the lady; poor lady! I don't know whether I don't think almost
more of her than of him.' Mr. Jones was returning to his work, having
sent in word to Sir John of this visitor's arrival. But Bagwax was too
full of his subject, and of his own honesty, for that. 'I don't think
that I need go out after all, Mr. Jones.'

'Oh indeed!'

'Of course it will be a great sell for me.'

'Will it, now?'

'Sydney, I am told, is an Elysium upon earth.'

'It's much the same as Botany Bay; isn't it?' asked Jones.

'Oh, not at all; quite a different place. I was reading a book the other
day which said that Sydney harbour is the most beautiful thing God ever
made on the face of the globe.'

'I know there used to be convicts there,' said Mr. Jones, very
positively.

'Perhaps they had a few once, but never many. They have oranges there,
and a Parliament almost as good as our own, and a beautiful new
post-office. But I shan't have to go, Mr. Jones. Of course, a man has to
do his duty.'

'Some do, and more don't. That's as far as I see, Mr. Bagwax.'

'I'm all for Nelson's motto, Mr. Jones,--"England expects that every man
this day shall do his duty."' In repeating these memorable words Bagwax
raised his voice.

'Sir John don't like to hear anything through the partition, Mr.
Bagwax.'

'I beg pardon. But whenever I think of that glorious observation I am
apt to become a little excited. It'll go a long way, Mr. Jones, in
keeping a man straight if he'll only say it to himself often enough.'

'But not to roar it out in an eminent barrister's chambers. He didn't
hear you, I daresay; only I thought I'd just caution you.'

'Quite right, Mr. Jones. Now I mean to do mine. I think we can get the
party out of prison without any journey to Sydney at all; and I'm not
going to stand in the way of it. I have devoted myself to this case, and
I'm not going to let my own interest stand in the way. Mr. Jones, let a
man be ever so humble, England does expect--that he'll do his duty.'

'By George, he'll hear you, Mr. Bagwax;--he will indeed.' But at that
moment Sir John's bell was rung, and Bagwax was summoned into the great
man's room. Sir John was sitting at a large office-table so completely
covered with papers that a whole chaos of legal atoms seemed to have
been deposited there by the fortuitous operation of ages. Bagwax, who
had his large bag in his hand, looked forlornly round the room for some
freer and more fitting board on which he might expose his documents. But
there was none. There were bookshelves filled with books, and a large
sofa which was covered also with papers, and another table laden with
what seemed to be a concrete chaos,--whereas the chaos in front of Sir
John was a chaos in solution. Sir John liked Bagwax, though he was
generally opposed to zealous co-operators. There was in the man a
mixture of intelligence and absurdity, of real feeling and affectation,
of genuine humility as to himself personally and of thorough confidence
in himself post-officially, which had gratified Sir John; and Sir John
had been quite sure that the post-office clerk had intended to speak the
absolute truth, with an honest, manly conviction in the innocence of his
client, and in the guilt of the witnesses on the other side. He was
therefore well disposed towards Bagwax. 'Well, Mr. Bagwax he said; 'so I
understand you have got a little further in the matter since I saw you
last.'

'A good deal further, Sir John.'

'As how? Perhaps you can explain it shortly.'

This was troublesome. Bagwax did not think that he could explain the
matter very shortly. He could not explain the matter at all without
showing his envelopes; and how was he to show them in the present
condition of that room? He immediately dived into his bag and brought
forth the first bundle of envelopes. 'Perhaps, Sir John, I had better
put them out upon the floor,' he said.

'Must I see all those?'

There were many more bundles within which Bagwax was anxious that the
barrister should examine minutely. 'It is very important, Sir John. It
is indeed. It is really altogether a case of postmarks,--altogether. We
have never in our branch had anything so interesting before. If we can
show that that envelope certainly was not stamped with that postmark in
the Sydney post-office on the 10th May 1873, then we shall get him
out,--shan't we?'

'It will be very material, Mr. Bagwax,' said Sir John, cautiously.

'They will all have sworn falsely, and then somebody must have obtained
the postmark surreptitiously. There must have been a regular plant. The
stamp must have been made up and dated on purpose,--so as to give a
false date. Some official in the Sydney post-office must have been
employed.'

'That's what we want you to find out over there,' said Sir John, who was
not quite so zealous, perhaps not quite so conscientious, as his more
humble assistant,--whose mind was more occupied with other matters.
'You'll find out all that at Sydney.'

The temptation was very great. Sir John wanted him to go,--told him that
he ought to go! Sir John was the man responsible for the whole matter.
He, Bagwax, had done his best. Could it be right for him to provoke Sir
John by contesting the matter,--contesting it so much to his own
disadvantage? Had he not done enough for honesty?--enough to satisfy
even that grand idea of duty? As he turned the bundle of documents round
in his hand, he made up his mind that he had not done enough. There was
a little gurgle in his throat, almost a tear in his eye, as he replied,
'I don't think I should be wanted to go if you would look at these
envelopes.'

Sir John understood it all at once,--and there was much to understand.
He knew how anxious the man was to go on this projected journey, and he
perceived the cause which was inducing him to surrender his own
interests. He remembered that the journey must be made at a great
expense to his own client. He ran over the case in his mind, and
acknowledged to himself that conclusive evidence,--evidence that should
be quite conclusive,--of fraud as to the envelope, might possibly
suffice to release his client at once from prison. He told himself also
that he could not dare to express an opinion on the matter himself
without a close inspection of those postmarks,--that a close inspection
might probably take two hours, and that the two hours would finally have
to be abstracted from the already curtailed period of his nightly
slumbers. Then he thought of the state of his tables, and the
difficulties as to space. Perhaps that idea was the one strongest in his
mind against the examination.

But then what a hero was Bagwax! What self-abnegation was there! Should
he be less ready to devote himself to his client,--he, who was paid for
his work,--than this post-office clerk, who was as pure in his honesty
as he was zealous in the cause? 'There are a great many of them, I
suppose?' he said, almost whining.

'A good many, Sir John.'

'Have at it!' said the Queen's Counsel and late Attorney-General,
springing up from his chair. Bagwax almost jumped out of the way, so
startled was he by the quick and sudden movement. Sir John rang his
bell; but not waiting for the clerk, began to hurl the chaos in solution
on to the top of the concrete chaos. Bagwax naturally attempted to
assist him. 'For G---'s sake, don't you touch them!' said Sir John, as
though avenging himself by a touch of scorn for the evil thing which was
being done to him. Then Jones hurried into the room, and with more
careful hands assisted his master, trying to preserve some order with
the disturbed papers. In this way the large office-table was within
three minutes made clear for the Bagwaxian strategy. Mr. Jones declared
afterwards that it was seven years since he had seen the entire top of
that table. 'Now go ahead!' said Sir John, who seemed, during the
operation, to have lost something of his ordinary dignity.

Bagwax, who since that little check had been standing perfectly still,
with his open bag in his hands, at once began his work. The plain before
him was immense, and he was able to marshal all his forces. In the
centre, and nearest to Sir John, as he sat in his usual chair, were
exposed all the Mays '73. For it was thus that he denominated the
envelopes with which he was so familiar. There were 71's, and 72's, and
74's, and 75's. But the 73's were all arranged in months, and then in
days. He began by explaining that he had obtained all these envelopes
'promiscuously,' as he said. There had been no selection, none had been
rejected. Then courteously handing his official magnifying-glass to the
barrister, he invited him to inspect them all generally,--to make, as it
were, a first cursory inspection,--so that he might see that there was
not one perfect impression perfect as that impression on the Caldigate
envelope was perfect. 'Not one,' said Bagwax, beating his bosom in
triumph.

'That seems perfect,' said Sir John, pointing with the glass to a
selected specimen.

'Your eyes are very good, Sir John,--very good indeed. You have found
the cleanest and truest of the whole lot. But if you'll examine the tail
of the Y, you'll see it's been rubbed a little. And then if you'll
follow with your eye the circular line which makes up the round of the
postmark, you'll find a dent on the outside bar. I go more on the dents
in those bars, Sir John, than I do on the figures. All the bars are
dented more or less,--particularly the Mays '73. They don't remain quite
true, Sir John,--not after a day's fair use. They've taken a new stamp
out of the store to do the Caldigate envelope. They couldn't get at the
stamps in use. That's how it has been.'

Sir John listened in silence as he continued to examine one envelope
after another through the glass. 'Now, Sir John, if we come to the Mays
'73, we shall find that just about that time there has been no new stamp
brought into use. There isn't one, either, that is exactly the Caldigate
breadth. I've brought a rule by which you can get to the fiftieth of an
inch.' Here Bagwax brought out a little ivory instrument marked all over
with figures. 'Of course they're intended to be of the same pattern. But
gradually, very gradually, the circle has always become smaller. Isn't
that conclusive? The Caldigate impression is a little, very
little--ever so little--but a little smaller than any of the Mays '73.
Isn't that conclusive?'

'If I understand it, Mr. Bagwax, you don't pretend to say that you have
got impressions of all the stamps which may have been in use in the
Sydney office at that time? But in Sydney, if I understand the matter
rightly, they keep daily impressions of all the stamps in a book.'

'Just so--just so, Sir John,' said Bagwax, feeling that every word
spoken to the lawyer renewed his own hopes of going out to Sydney,--but
feeling also that Sir John would be wrong, very wrong, if he subjected
his client to so unnecessarily prolonged a detention in the Cambridge
county prison. 'They do keep a book which would be quite conclusive. I
could have the pages photographed.'

'Would not that be best? and you might probably find out who it was who
gave this fraudulent aid.'

'I could find out everything,' said Bagwax, energetically; 'but----'

'But what?'

'It is all found out there. It is indeed, Sir John. If I could get you
to go along with me, you would see that that letter couldn't have gone
through the Sydney post-office.'

'I think I do see it. But it is so difficult, Mr. Bagwax, to make others
see things.'

'And if it didn't,--and it never did;--but if it didn't, why did they
say it did? Why did they swear it did? Isn't that enough to make any
Secretary let him go?'

The energy, the zeal, the true faith of the man, were admirable. Sir
John was half disposed to rise from his seat to embrace the man, and
hail him as his brother,--only that had he done so he would have made
himself as ridiculous as Bagwax. Zeal is always ridiculous. 'I think I
see it all,' he said.

'And won't they let the man go?'

'There were four persons who swore positively that they were present at
the marriage, one of them being the woman who is said to have been
married. That is direct evidence. With all our search, we have hitherto
found no one to give us any direct evidence to rebut this. Then they
brought forward, to corroborate these statements, a certain amount of
circumstantial evidence,--and among other things this letter.'

'The Caldigate envelope,' said Bagwax, eagerly.

'What you call the Caldigate envelope. It was unnecessary, perhaps; and,
if fraudulent, certainly foolish. They would have had their verdict
without it.'

'But they did it,' said Bagwax, in a tone of triumph.

'It is a pity, Mr. Bagwax, you were not brought up to our profession.
You would have made a great lawyer.'

'Oh, Sir John!'

'Yes, they did it. And if it can be proved that they have done it
fraudulently, no doubt that fraud will stain their direct evidence. But
we have to remember that the verdict has been already obtained. We are
not struggling now with a jury, but with an impassive emblem of
sovereign justice.'

'And therefore the real facts will go the further, Sir John.'

'Well argued, Mr. Bagwax,--admirably well argued. If you should ever be
called, I hope I may not have you against me very often. But I will
think of it all. You can take the envelopes away with you, because you
have impressed me vividly with all that they can tell me. My present
impression is, that you had better take the journey. But within the next
few days I will give a little more thought to it, and you shall hear
from me.' Then he put out his hand, which was a courtesy Mr. Bagwax had
never before enjoyed 'You may believe me, Mr. Bagwax, when I say that I
have come across many remarkable men in many cases which have fallen
into my hands,--but that I have rarely encountered a man whom I have
more thoroughly respected than I do you.'

Mr. Bagwax went away to his own lodging exulting,--but more than ever
resolved that the journey to Sydney was unnecessary. As usual, he spent
a large portion of that afternoon in contemplating the envelopes; and
then, as he was doing so, another idea struck him,--an idea which
made him tear his hairs with disgust because it had not occurred to
him before. There was now opened to him a new scope of inquiry, an
altogether different matter of evidence. But the idea was by far too
important to be brought in and explained at the fag-end of a chapter.



Chapter XLIX

All the Shands



There had been something almost approaching to exultation at Babington
when the tidings of Caldigate's alleged Australian wife were first heard
there. As the anger had been great that Julia should be rejected, so had
the family congratulation been almost triumphant when the danger which
had been escaped was appreciated. There had been something of the same
feeling at Pollington among the Shands--who had no doubt allowed
themselves to think that Maria had been ill-treated by John Caldigate.
He ought to have married Maria,--at least such was the opinion of the
ladies of the family, who were greatly impressed with the importance of
the little book which had been carried away. But in regard to the
Australian marriage, they had differed among themselves. That Maria
should have escaped the terrible doom which had befallen Mrs. Bolton's
daughter, was, of course, a source of comfort. But Maria herself would
never believe the evil story. John Caldigate had not been--well, perhaps
not quite true to her. So much she acknowledged gently with the germ of
a tear in her eye. But she was quite sure that he would not have married
Hester Bolton while another wife was living in Australia. She arose
almost to enthusiasm as she vindicated his character from so base a
stain. He had been, perhaps, a little unstable in his affections,--as
men are so commonly. But not even when the jury found their verdict,
could she be got to believe that the John Caldigate whom she had known
would have betrayed a girl whom he loved as he was supposed to have
betrayed Hester Bolton. The mother and sisters, who knew the softness of
Maria's disposition,--and who had been more angry than their sister with
the man who had been wicked enough to carry away Thomson's 'Seasons' in
his portmanteau without marrying the girl who had put it there,--would
not agree to this. The verdict, at any rate, was a verdict. John
Caldigate was in prison. The poor young woman with her infant was a
nameless, unfortunate creature. All this might have happened to their
Maria. 'I should always have believed him innocent,' said Maria, wiping
away the germ of the tear with her knuckle.

The matter was very often discussed in the doctor's house at
Pollington,--as it was, indeed, by the public generally, and especially
in the eastern counties. But in this house there a double interest
attached to it. In the first place, there was Maria's escape,--which the
younger girls were accustomed to talk of as having been 'almost
miraculous;' and then there was Dick's absolute disappearance. It had
been declared at the trial, on behalf of Caldigate, that if Dick could
have been put into the witness-box, he would have been able to swear
that there had been no such marriage ceremony as that which the four
witnesses had elaborately described. On the other hand, the woman and
Crinkett had sworn boldly that Dick Shand, though not present at the
marriage, had been well aware that it had taken place, and that Dick,
could his evidence have been secured, would certainly have been a
witness on their side. He had been outside the tent,--so said the
woman,--when the marriage was being performed, and had refused to enter,
by way of showing his continued hostility to an arrangement which he had
always opposed. But when the woman said this, it was known that Dick
Shand would not appear, and the opinion was general that Dick had died
in his poverty and distress. Men who sink to be shepherds in Australia
because they are noted drunkards, generally do die. The constrained
abstinence of perhaps six months in the wilderness is agonising at
first, and nearly fatal. Then the poor wretch rushes to the joys of an
orgy with ten or fifteen pounds in his pocket; and the stuff which is
given to him as brandy soon puts an end to his sufferings. There was but
little doubt that such had been the fate of Dick,--unless, perhaps, in
the bosom of Maria and of his mother.

It was known too at Pollington, as well as elsewhere in the month of
August, that efforts were still to be made with the view of upsetting
the verdict. Something had crept out to the public as to the researches
made by Bagwax, and allusions had been frequent as to the unfortunate
absence of Dick Shand. The betting, had there been betting, would no
doubt have been in favour of the verdict. The four witnesses had told
their tale in a straightforward way; and though they were, from their
characters, not entitled to perfect credit, still their evidence had in
no wise been shaken. They were mean, dishonest folk, no doubt. They had
taken Caldigate's money, and had still gone on with the prosecution.
Even if there had been some sort of a marriage, the woman should have
taken herself off when she had received her money, and left poor Hester
to enjoy her happiness, her husband, and her home at Bolton. That was
the general feeling. But it was hardly thought that Bagwax, with his
envelope, would prevail over Judge Bramber in the mind of the Secretary
of State. Probably there had been a marriage. But it was singular that
the two men who could have given unimpeachable evidence on the matter
should both have vanished out of the world; Allan, the minister,--and
Dick Shand, the miner and shepherd.

'What will she do when he comes out?' Maria asked. Mrs.
Rewble,--Harriet,--the curate's wife, was there. Mr. Rewble, as curate,
found it convenient to make frequent visits to his father-in-law's
house. And Mrs. Posttlethwaite,--Matilda,--was with them, as Mr.
Posttlethwaite's business in the soap line caused him to live at
Pollington. And there were two unmarried sisters, Fanny and Jane. Mrs.
Rewble was by this time quite the matron, and Mrs. Posttlethwaite was
also the happy mother of children. But Maria was still Maria. Fanny
already had a string to her bow,--and Jane was expectant of many
strings.

'She ought to go back to her father and mother, of course,' said Mrs.
Rewble, indignantly.

'I know I wouldn't,' said Jane.

'You know nothing about it, miss, and you ought not to speak of such a
thing,' said the curate's wife. Jane at this made a grimace which was
intended to be seen only by her sister Fanny.

'It is very hard that two loving hearts should be divided,' said Maria.

'I never thought so much of John Caldigate as you did,' said Mrs.
Posttlethwaite. 'He seems to have been able to love a good many young
women all at the same time.'

'It's like tasting a lot of cheeses, till you get the one that suits
you,' said Jane. This offended the elder sister so grievously that she
declared she did not know what their mother was about, to allow such
liberty to the girls, and then suggested that the conversation should be
changed.

'I'm sure I did not say anything wrong,' said Jane, 'and I suppose it
is like that. A gentleman has to find out whom he likes best. And as he
liked Miss Bolton best, I think it's a thousand pities they should be
parted.'

'Ten thousand pities!' said Maria enthusiastically.

'Particularly as there is a baby,' said Jane,--upon which Mrs. Rewble
was again very angry.

'If Dick were to come home, he'd clear it all up at once,' said Mrs.
Posttlethwaite.

'Dick will never come home,' said Matilda mournfully.

'Never!' said Mrs. Rewble. 'I am afraid that he has expiated all his
indiscretions. It should make us who were born girls thankful that we
have not been subjected to the same temptations.'

'I should like to be a man all the same,' said Jane.

'You do not at all know what you are saying,' replied the monitor. 'How
little have you realized what poor Dick must have suffered! I wonder
when they are going to let us have tea. I'm almost famished.' Mrs.
Rewble was known in the family for having a good appetite. They were
sitting at this moment round a table on the lawn, at which they intended
to partake of their evening meal. The doctor might or might not join
them. Mrs. Shand, who did not like the open air, would have hers sent to
her in the drawing-room. Mr. Rewble would certainly be there. Mr.
Posttlethwaite, who had been home to his dinner, had gone back to the
soap-works. 'Don't you think, Jane, if you were to go in, you could
hurry them?' Then Jane went in and hurried the servant.

'There's a strange man with papa,' said Jane, as she returned.

'There are always strange men with papa,' said Fanny. 'I daresay he has
come to have his tooth out.' For the doctor's practice was altogether
general. From a baby to a back-tooth, he attended to everything now, as
he had done forty years ago.

'But this man isn't like a patient. The door was half open, and I saw
papa holding him by both hands.'

'A lunatic!' exclaimed Mrs. Rewble, thinking that Mr. Rewble ought to be
sent at once to her father's assistance.

'He was quite quiet, and just for a moment I could see papa's face. It
wasn't a patient at all. Oh, Maria!'

'What is it, child?' asked Mrs. Rewble.

'I do believe that Dick has come back.'

They all jumped up from their seats suddenly. Then Mrs. Rewble reseated
herself. 'Jane is such a fool!' she said.

'I do believe it,' said Jane. 'He had yellow trousers on, as if he had
come from a long way off. And I'm sure papa was very glad,--why should
he take both his hands?'

'I feel as though my legs were sinking under me,' said Maria.

'I don't think it possible for a moment,' said Mrs. Rewble. 'Maria, you
are so romantic! You would believe anything.'

'It is possible,' said Mrs. Posttlethwaite.

'If you will remain here, I will go into the house and inquire,' said
Mrs. Rewble. But it did not suit the others to remain there. For a
moment the suggestion had been so awful that they had not dared to stir;
but when the elder sister slowly moved towards the door which led into
the house from the garden, they all followed her. Then suddenly they
heard a scream, which they knew to come from their mother. 'I believe it
is Dick,' said Mrs. Rewble, standing in the doorway so as to detain the
others. 'What ought we to do?'

'Let me go in,' said Jane, impetuously. 'He is my brother.'

Maria was already dissolved in tears. Mrs. Posttlethwaite was struck
dumb by the awfulness of the occasion, and clung fast to her sister
Matilda.

'It will be like one from the grave,' said Mrs. Rewble, solemnly.

'Let me go in,' repeated Jane, impetuously. Then she pushed by her
sisters, and was the first to enter the house. They all followed her
into the hall, and there they found their mother supported in the arms
of the man who wore the yellow trousers. Dick Shand had in truth
returned to his father's house.

The first thing to do with a returned prodigal is to kiss him, and the
next to feed him; and therefore Dick was led away at once to the table
on the lawn. But he gave no sign of requiring the immediate slaughter of
a fatted calf. Though he had not exactly the appearance of a well-to-do
English gentleman, he did not seem to be in want. The yellow trousers
were of strong material, and in good order, made of that colour for
colonial use, probably with the idea of expressing some contempt for the
dingy hues which prevail among the legs of men at home. He wore a very
large checked waistcoat, and a stout square coat of the same material.
There was no look of poverty, and no doubt he had that day eaten a
substantial dinner; but the anxious mother was desirous of feeding him
immediately, and whispered to Jane some instructions as to cold beef,
which was to be added to the tea and toast.

As they examined him, holding him by the arms and hands, and gazing up
into his face, the same idea occurred to all of them. Though they knew
him very well now, they would hardly have known him had they met him
suddenly in the streets. He seemed to have grown fifteen years older
during the seven years of his absence. His face had become thin and long
and almost hollow. His beard went all round under his chin, and was
clipped into the appearance of a stiff thick hedge--equally thick, and
equally broad, and equally protrusive at all parts. And within this
enclosure it was shorn. But his mouth had sunk in, and his eyes. In
colour he was almost darker than brown. You would have said that his
skin had been tanned black, but for the infusion of red across it here
and there. He seemed to be in good present health, but certainly bore
the traces of many hardships 'And here you are all just as I left you,'
he said, counting up his sisters.

'Not exactly,' said Mrs. Rewble, remembering her family. 'And Matilda
has got two.'

'Not husbands, I hope,' said Dick.

'Oh, Dick! that is so like you,' said Jane, getting up and kissing him
again in her delight. Then Mr. Rewble came forward, and the
brothers-in-law renewed their old acquaintance.

'It seems just like the other day,' said Dick, looking round upon the
rose-bushes.

'Oh my boy! my darling, darling boy!' said the mother, who had hurried
up-stairs for her shawl, conscious of her rheumatism even amidst the
excitement of her son's return. 'Oh, Dick! This is the happiest day of
all my life. Wouldn't you like something better than tea?' This she said
with many memories and many thoughts; but still, with a mother's love,
unable to refrain from offering what she thought her son would wish to
have.

'There ain't anything better,' said Dick very solemnly.

'Nothing half so good to my thinking,' said Mrs. Rewble, imagining that
by a word in season she might help the good work.

The mother's eyes were filled with tears, but she did not dare to speak
a word. Then there was a silence for a few moments. 'Tell us all about
it, Dick,' said the father. 'There's whisky inside if you like it.' Dick
shook his head solemnly,--but, as they all thought, with a certain air
of regret. Tell us what you have to say,' repeated the doctor.

'I'm sworn off these two years.'

'Touched nothing for two years?' said the mother exultingly, with her
arms and shawl again round her son's neck.

'A teetotaller?' said Maria.

'Anything you like to call it. Only, what a gentleman's habits are in
that respect needn't be made the subject of general remark.' It was
evident he was a little sore, and Jane, therefore, offered him a dish
full of gooseberries. He took the plate in his hand and ate them
assiduously for a while in silence, as though unconscious of what he was
doing. 'You know all about it now, don't you?'

'Oh my dearest boy!' ejaculated the mother.

'You didn't get better gooseberries than those on your travels,' said
the doctor, calling him back to the condition of the world around him.

Then he told them of his adventures. For two terrible years he had been
a shepherd on different sheep-runs up in Queensland. Then he had found
employment on a sugar plantation, and had superintended the work of a
gang of South Sea Islanders,--Canakers they are called,--men who are
brought into the colony from the islands of the Pacific,--and who return
thence to their homes generally every three years, much to the regret of
their employers. In the transit of these men agents are employed, and to
this service Dick had, after a term, found himself promoted. Then it had
come to pass that he had remained for a period on one of these islands,
with the view of persuading the men to emigrate and reemigrate; and had
thus been resident among them for more than a couple of years. They had
used him well, and he had liked the islands,--having lived in one of
them without seeing another European for many months. Then the payments
which had from time to time been made to him by the Queensland planters
were stopped, and his business, such as it had been, came to an end. He
had found himself with just sufficient money to bring him home; and here
he was.

'My boy, my darling boy!' exclaimed his mother again, as though all
their joint troubles were now over.

The doctor remembered the adage of the rolling stone, and felt that the
return of a son at the age of thirty, without any means of maintaining
himself, was hardly an unalloyed blessing. He was not the man to turn a
son out of doors. He had always broadened his back to bear the full
burden of his large family. But even at this moment he was a little
melancholy as he thought of the difficulty of finding employment for the
wearer of those yellow trousers. How was it possible that a man should
continue to live an altogether idle life at Pollington and still remain
a teetotaller? 'Have you any plans I can help you in now?' he asked.

'Of course he'll remain at home for a while before he thinks of
anything,' said the mother.

'I suppose I must look about me,' said Dick. By-the-by, what has become
of John Caldigate?'

They all at once gazed at each other. It could hardly be that he did not
in truth know what had become of John Caldigate.

'Haven't you heard?' asked Maria.

'Of course he has heard,' said Mrs. Rewble.

'You must have heard,' said the mother.

'I don't in the least know what you are talking about. I have heard
nothing at all.'

In very truth he had heard nothing of his old friend,--not even that he
had returned to England. Then by degrees the whole story was told to
him. 'I know that he was putting a lot of money together,' said Dick
enviously. 'Married Hester Bolton? I thought he would! Bigamy! Euphemia
Smith! Married before! Certainly not at the diggings.'

'He wasn't married up at Ahalala?' asked the doctor.

'To Euphemia Smith? I was there when they quarrelled, and when she went
into partnership with Crinkett. I am sure there was no such marriage.
John Caldigate in prison for bigamy? And he paid them twenty thousand
pounds? The more fool he!'

'They all say that.'

'But it's an infernal plant. As sure as my name is Richard Shand, John
Caldigate never married that woman.'



Chapter L

Again at Sir John's Chambers



And this was the man as to whom it had been acknowledged that his
evidence, if it could be obtained, would be final. The return of Dick
himself was to the Shands an affair so much more momentous than the
release of John Caldigate from prison, that for some hours or so the
latter subject was allowed to pass out of sight. The mother got him
up-stairs and asked after his linen,--vain inquiry,--and arranged for
his bed, turning all the little Rewbles into one small room. In the long
run, grandmothers are more tender to their grand-children than their own
offspring. But at this moment Dick was predominant. How grand a thing to
have her son returned to her, and such a son,--a teetotaller of two
years' growth, who had seen all the world of the Pacific Ocean! As he
could not take whisky-and-water, would he like ginger-beer before he
went to bed,--or arrowroot? Dick decided in favour of ginger-beer, and
consented to be embraced again.

It was, I think, to Maria's credit that she was the first to bring back
the conversation to John Caldigate's marriage. 'Was she a very horrible
woman?' Maria asked, referring to Euphemia Smith.

'There were a good many of 'em out there, greedy after gold,' said Dick;
'but she beat 'em all; and she was awfully clever.'

'In what way, Dick?' asked Mrs. Rewble. Because she does not seem to me
to have done very well with herself.'

'She knew more about shares than any man of them all. But I think she
just drank a little. It was that which disgusted Caldigate.'

'He had been very fond of her?' suggested Maria.

'I never knew a man so taken with a woman.' Maria blushed, and Mrs.
Rewble looked round at her younger sisters as though desirous that they
should be sent to bed. 'All that began on board the ship. Then he was
fool enough to run after her down to Sydney; and of course she followed
him up to the mines.'

'I don't know why of course,' said Mrs. Posttlethwaite defending her sex
generally.

'Well, she did. And he was going to marry her. He did mean to marry
her;--there's no doubt of that. But it was a queer kind of life we lived
up there.'

'I suppose so,' said the doctor. Mrs. Rewble again looked at the girls
and then at her mother; but Mrs. Shand was older and less timid than her
married daughter. Mrs. Rewble when a girl herself had never been sent
away, and was now a pattern of female discretion.

'And she,' continued Dick, 'as soon as she had begun to finger the
scrip, thought of nothing but gold. She did not care much for marriage
just then, because she fancied the stuff wouldn't belong to herself. She
became largely concerned in the "Old Stick-in-the-Mud." That was
Crinkett's concern, and there were times at which I thought she would
marry him. Then Caldigate got rid of her altogether. That was before I
went away.'

'He never married her?' asked the doctor.

'He certainly hadn't married her when I left Nobble in June '73.'

'You can swear to that, Dick?'

'Certainly I can. I was with him every day. But there wasn't anyone
round there who didn't know how it was. Crinkett himself knew it.'

'Crinkett is one of the gang against him.'

'And there was a man named Adamson. Adamson knew.'

'He's another of the conspirators,' said the doctor.

'They won't dare to say before me,' declared Dick, stoutly, 'that Mrs.
Smith and John Caldigate had become man and wife before June '73. And
they hated one another so much then that it is impossible they should
have come together since. I can swear they were not married up to June
'73.'

'You'll have to swear it,' said the doctor, 'and that with as little
delay as possible.'

All this took place towards the end of August, about five weeks after
the trial, and a day or two subsequent to the interview between Bagwax
and the Attorney-General. Bagwax was now vehemently prosecuting his
inquiries as to that other idea which had struck him, and was at this
very moment glowing with the anticipation of success, and at the same
time broken-hearted with the conviction that he never would see the
pleasant things of New South Wales.

On the next morning, under the auspices of his father, Dick Shand wrote
the following letter to Mr. Seely, the attorney.


    'POLLINGTON, _30th August_, 187-.

    Sir,--I think it right to tell you that I reached my father's house
    in this town late yesterday evening. I have come direct from one of
    the South Sea Islands _via_ Honolulu and San Francisco, and have not
    yet been in England forty-eight hours. I am an old friend of Mr.
    John Caldigate, and went with him from England to the gold diggings
    in New South Wales. My name will be known to you, as I am now aware
    that it was frequently mentioned in the course of the late trial. It
    will probably seem odd to you that I had never even heard of the
    trial till I reached my father's house last night. I did not know
    that Caldigate had married Miss Bolton, nor that Euphemia Smith had
    claimed him as her husband.

    'I am able and willing to swear that they had not become man and
    wife up to June 1873, and that no one at Ahalala or Nobble conceived
    them to be man and wife. Of course, they had lived together. But
    everybody knew all about it. Some time before June,--early, I should
    say, in that autumn,--there had been a quarrel. I am sure they were
    at daggers drawn with each other all that April and May in respect
    to certain mining shares, as to which Euphemia Smith behaved very
    badly. I don't think it possible that they should ever have come
    together again; but in May '73,--which is the date I have heard
    named,--they certainly were not man and wife.

    'I have thought it right to inform you of this immediately on my
    return, and am, your obedient servant,

    'RICHARD SHAND.'


Mr. Seely, when he received this letter, found it to be his duty to take
it at once to Sir John Joram, up in London. He did not believe Dick
Shand. But then he had put no trust in Bagwax, and had been from the
first convinced, in his own mind, that Caldigate had married the woman.
As soon as it was known to him that his client had paid twenty thousand
pounds to Crinkett and the woman, he was quite sure of the guilt of his
client. He had done the best for Caldigate at the trial, as he would
have done for any other client; but he had never felt any of that
enthusiasm which had instigated Sir John. Now that Caldigate was in
prison, Mr. Seely thought that he might as well be left there quietly,
trusting to the verdict, trusting to Judge Bramber, and trusting still
more strongly on his own early impressions. This letter from Dick,--whom
he knew to have been a ruined drunkard, a disgrace to his family, and
an outcast from society,--was to his thinking just such a letter as
would be got up in such a case, in the futile hope of securing the
succour of a Secretary of State. He was sure that no Secretary of State
would pay the slightest attention to such a letter. But still it would
be necessary that he should show it to Sir John, and as a trip to London
was not disagreeable to his professional mind, he started with it on the
very day of its receipt.

'Of course we must have his deposition on oath,' said Sir John.

'You think it will be worth while?'

'Certainly. I am more convinced than ever that there was no marriage.
That post-office clerk has been with me,--Bagwax,--and has altogether
convinced me.'

'I didn't think so much of Bagwax, Sir John.'

'I dare say not, Mr. Seely;--an absurdly energetic man,--one of those
who destroy by their over-zeal all the credit which their truth and
energy ought to produce. But he has, I think, convinced me that that
letter could not have passed through the Sydney post-office in May '73.'

'If so, Sir John, even that is not much,--towards upsetting a verdict.'

'A good deal, I think, when the characters of the persons are
considered. Now comes this man, whom we all should have believed, had he
been present, and tells this story. You had better get hold of him and
bring him to me, Mr. Seely.'

Then Mr. Seely hung up his hat in London for three or four days, and
sent to Pollington for Dick Shand. Dick Shand obeyed the order, and both
of them waited together upon Sir John. 'You have come back at a very
critical point of time for your friend,' said the barrister.

Dick had laid aside the coat and waistcoat with the broad checks, and
the yellow trousers, and had made himself look as much like an English
gentleman as the assistance of a ready-made-clothes shop at Pollington
would permit. But still he did not quite look like a man who had spent
three years at Cambridge. His experiences among the gold diggings, then
his period of maddening desolation as a Queensland shepherd, and after
that his life among the savages in a South Sea island, had done much to
change him. Sir John and Mr. Seely together almost oppressed him. But
still he was minded to speak up for his friend. Caldigate had, upon the
whole, been very good to him, and Dick was honest. 'He has been badly
used any way,' he said.

'You have had no intercourse with any of his friends since you have been
home, I think?' This question Sir John asked because Mr. Seely had
suggested that this appearance of the man at this special moment might
not improbably be what he called a 'plant.'

'I have had no intercourse with anybody, sir. I came here last Friday,
and I hadn't spoken a word to anybody before that. I didn't know that
Caldigate had been in trouble at all. My people at Pollington were the
first to tell me about it.'

'Then you wrote to Mr. Seely? You have heard of Mr. Seely?'

'The governor,--that's my father,--he had heard of Mr. Seely. I wrote
first as he told me. They knew all about it at Pollington as well as you
do.'

'You were surprised, then, when you heard the story?'

'Knocked off my pins, sir. I never was so much taken aback in my life.
To be told that John Caldigate had married Euphemia Smith after all that
I had seen,--and that he had been married to her in May '73! I knew of
course that it was all a got-up thing. And he's in prison?'

'He is in prison, certainly.'

'For bigamy?'

'Indeed he is, Mr. Shand.'

'And how about his real wife?'

'His real wife, as you call her----'

'She is, as sure as my name is Richard Shand.'

'It is on behalf of that lady that we are almost more anxious than for
Mr. Caldigate himself. In this matter she has been perfectly innocent;
and whoever may have been the culprit,--or culprits,--she has been
cruelly ill-used.'

'She'll have her husband back again, of course,' said Dick.

'That will depend in part upon what faith the judge who tried the case
may place in your story. Your deposition shall be taken, and it will be
my duty to submit it to the Secretary of State. He will probably be
actuated by the weight which this further evidence will have upon the
judge who heard the former evidence. You will understand, Mr. Shand,
that your word will be opposed to the words of four other persons.'

'Four perjured scoundrels,' said Dick, with energy.

'Just so,--if your story be true.'

'It is true, sir,' said Dick, with much anger in his tone.

'I hope so,--with all my heart. You are on the same side with us, you
know. I only want to make you understand how much ground there may be
for doubt. It is not easy to upset a verdict. And, I fear, many
righteous verdicts would be upset if the testimony of one man could do
it. Perhaps you will be able to prove that you only arrived at Liverpool
on Saturday night.'

'Certainly I can.'

'You cannot prove that you had not heard of the case before.'

'Certainly I can. I can swear it.' Sir John smiled. 'They all knew that
at Pollington. They told me of it. The governor told me about Mr. Seely,
and made me write the letter.'

'That would not be evidence,' said Sir John.

'Heavens on earth! I tell you I was struck all on a heap when I heard
it, just as much as if they had said he'd been hung for murder. You put
Crinkett and me together and then you'll know. I suppose you think
somebody's paying me for this,--that I've got a regular tip.'

'Not at all, Mr. Shand. And I quite understand that it should be
difficult for you to understand. When a man sees a thing clearly himself
he cannot always realise the fact that others do not see it also. I
think I perceive what you have to tell us, and we are very much obliged
to you for coming forward so immediately. Perhaps you would not mind
sitting in the other room for five minutes while I say a word to Mr.
Seely.'

'I can go away altogether.'

'Mr. Seely will be glad to see you again with reference to the
deposition you will have to make. You shall not be kept waiting long.'
Then Dick returned, with a sore heart, feeling half inclined to blaze
out in wrath against the great advocate. He had come forward to tell a
plain story, having nothing to gain, paying his railway fare and other
expenses out of his own--or rather out of his father's pocket, and was
told he would not be believed! It is always hard to make an honest
witness understand that it may be the duty of others to believe him to
be a liar, and Dick Shand did not understand it now.

'There was no Australian marriage,' Sir John said as soon as he was
alone with Mr. Seely.

'You think not?'

'My mind is clear about it. We must get that man out, if it be only for
the sake of the lady.'

'It is so very easy, Sir John, to have a story like that made up.'

'I have had to do with a good many made-up stories, Mr. Seely;--and with
a good many true stories.'

'Of course, Sir John;--no man with more.'

'He might be a party to making up a story. There is nothing that I have
seen in him to make me sure that he could not come forward with a
determined perjury. I shouldn't think it, but it would be possible. But
his father and mother and sisters wouldn't join him.' Dick had told the
story of the meeting on the lawn at great length. 'And had it been a
plot, he couldn't have imposed upon them. He wouldn't have brought them
into it. And who would have got at him to arrange the plot?'

'Old Caldigate.'

Sir John shook his head. 'Neither old Caldigate nor young Caldigate knew
anything of that kind of work. And then his story tallies altogether
with my hero Bagwax. Of Bagwax I am quite sure. And as Shand
corroborates Bagwax, I am nearly sure of him also. You must take his
deposition, and let me have it. It should be rather full, as it may be
necessary to hear the depositions also of the doctor and his wife. We
shall have to get him out.'

'You know best, Sir John.'

'We shall have to get him out, Mr. Seely, I think,' said Sir John,
rising from his chair. Then Mr. Seely took his leave, as was intended.

Mr. Seely was not at all convinced. He was quite willing that John
Caldigate should be released from prison, and that the Australian
marriage should be so put out of general credit in England as to allow
the young people to live in comfort at Folking as man and wife. But he
liked to feel that he knew better himself. He would have been quite
content that Mrs. John Caldigate should be Mrs. John Caldigate to all
the world,--that all the world should be imposed on,--so that he was
made subject to no imposition. In this matter, Sir John appeared to him
to be no wider awake than a mere layman. It was clear to Mr. Seely that
Dick Shand's story was 'got up,'--and very well got up. He had no pang
of conscience as to using it. But when it came to believing it, that
was quite another thing. The man turning up exactly at the moment! And
such a man! And then his pretending never to have heard of a case so
famous! Never to have heard this story of his most intimate friend! And
then his notorious poverty! Old Caldigate would of course be able to buy
such a man. And then Sir John's fatuity as to Bagwax! He could hardly
bring himself to believe that Sir John was quite in earnest. But he was
well aware that Sir John would know,--no one better,--by what arguments
such a verdict as had been given might be practically set aside. The
verdict would remain. But a pardon, if a pardon could be got from the
Secretary of State, would make the condition of the husband and wife the
same as though there had been no verdict. The indignities which they had
already suffered would simply produce for them the affectionate
commendation of all England. Mr. Seely felt all that, and was not at all
averse to a pardon. He was not at all disposed to be severe on Caldigate
senior if, as he thought, Caldigate senior had bribed this convenient
new witness. But it was too much to expect that he should believe it all
himself.

'You must come with me, Mr. Shand,' he said, 'and we must take your
story down in writing. Then you must swear to it before a magistrate.'

'All right, Mr. Seely.'

'We must be very particular, you know.'

'I needn't be particular at all;--and as to what Sir John Joram said, I
felt half inclined to punch his head.'

'That wouldn't have helped us.'

'It was only that I thought of Caldigate in prison that I didn't do it.
Because I have been roaming about the world, not always quite as well
off as himself, he tells me that he doesn't believe my word.'

'I don't think he said that.'

'He didn't quite dare; but what he said was as bad. He told me that
some one else wouldn't believe it. I don't quite understand what it is
they're not to believe. All I say is, that they two were not married in
May '73.'

'But about your never having heard of the case till you got home?'

'I never had heard a word about it. One would think that I had done
something wrong in coming forward to tell what I know.' The deposition,
however was drawn out in due form, at considerable length, and was
properly attested before one of the London magistrates.



Chapter LI

Dick Shand Goes To Cambridgeshire



The news of Shand's return was soon common in Cambridge. The tidings, of
course, were told to Mr. Caldigate, and were then made known by him to
Hester. The old man, though he turned the matter much in his
mind,--doubting whether the hopes thus raised would not add to Hester's
sorrow should they not ultimately be realised,--decided that he could
not keep her in the dark. Her belief could not be changed by any
statement which Shand might make. Her faith was so strong that no
evidence could shake it,--or confirm it. But there would, no doubt,
arise in her mind a hope of liberation if any new evidence against the
Australian marriage were to reach her; which hope might so probably be
delusive! But he knew her to be strong to endure as well as strong to
hope, and therefore he told her at once. Then Mr. Seely returned to
Cambridge, and all the facts of Shand's deposition were made known at
Folking. 'That will get him out at once, of course,' said Hester,
triumphantly, as soon as she heard it. But the Squire was older and more
cautious, and still doubted. He explained that Dick Shand was not a man
who by his simple word would certainly convince a Secretary of
State;--that deceit might be suspected;--that a fraudulent plot would be
possible; and that very much care was necessary before a convicted
prisoner would be released.

'I am quite sure, from Mr. Seely's manner, that he thinks I have bribed
the young man,' said Caldigate.

'You!'

'Yes;--I. These are the ideas which naturally come into people's heads.
I am not in the least angry with Mr. Seely, and feel that it is only too
likely that the Secretary of State and the judge will think the same. If
I were Secretary of State I should have to think so.'

'I couldn't suspect people like that.'

'And therefore, my dear, you are hardly fit to be Secretary of State. We
must not be too sanguine. That is all.'

But Hester was very sanguine. When it was fully known that Dick had
written to Mr. Seely immediately on his arrival at Pollington, and that
he had shown himself to be a warm partisan in the Caldigate interests,
she could not rest till she saw him herself, and persuaded Mr. Caldigate
to invite him down to Folking. To Folking therefore he went, with the
full intention of declaring John Caldigate's innocence, not only there,
but all through Cambridgeshire. The Boltons, of whom he had now heard
something, should be made to know what an honest man had to say on the
subject,--an honest man, and who was really on the spot at the time. To
Dick's mind it was marvellous that the Boltons should have been anxious
to secure a verdict against Caldigate,--which verdict was also against
their own daughter and their own sister. Being quite sure himself that
Caldigate was innocent, he could not understand the condition of feeling
which would be produced by an equally strong conviction of his guilt.
Nor was his mind, probably, imbued with much of that religious scruple
which made the idea of a feigned marriage so insupportable to all
Hester's relations. Nor was he aware that when a man has taken a
preconception home to himself and fastened it and fixed it, as it were,
into his bosom, he cannot easily expel it,--even though personal
interest should be on the side of such expulsion. It had become a
settled belief with the Boltons that John Caldigate was a bigamist,
which belief had certainly been strengthened by the pertinacious
hostility of Hester's mother. Dick had heard something of all this, and
thought that he would be able to open their eyes.

When he arrived at Folking he was received with open arms. Sir John
Joram had not quite liked him, because his manner had been rough. Mr.
Seely had regarded him from the first as a ruined man, and therefore a
willing perjurer. Even at Pollington his 'bush' manners had been a
little distasteful to all except his mother. Mr. Caldigate felt some
difficulty in making conversation with him. But to Hester he was as an
angel from heaven. She was never tired of hearing from him every detail
as to her husband's life at Ahalala and Nobble,--particularly as to his
life after Euphemia Smith had taken herself to those parts and had
quarrelled with him. The fact of the early infatuation had been
acknowledged on all sides. Hester was able to refer to that as a mother,
boasting of her child's health, may refer to the measles,--which have
been bad and are past and gone. Euphemia Smith had been her husband's
measles. Men generally have the measles. That was a thing so completely
acknowledged, that it was not now the source of discomfort. And the
disease had been very bad with him. So bad that he had talked of
marriage,--had promised marriage. Crafty women do get hold of innocent
men, and drive them sometimes into perdition,--often to the brink of
perdition. That was Hester's theory as to her husband. He had been on
the brink, but had been wise in time. That was her creed, and as it was
supported by Dick, she found no fault with Dick's manner,--not even with
the yellow trousers which were brought into use at Folking.

'You were with him on that very day,' she said. This referred to the day
in April on which it had been sworn that the marriage was solemnized.

'I was with him every day about that time. I can't say about particular
days. The truth is,--I don't mind telling you, Mrs. Caldigate,--I was
drinking a good deal just then.' His present state of abstinence had of
course become known at Folking, not without the expression of much
marvel on the part of the old Squire as to the quantity of tea which
their visitor was able to swallow. And as this abstinence had of course
been admired, Dick had fallen into a way of confessing his past
backslidings to a pretty, sympathetic friendly woman, who was willing to
believe all that he said, and to make much of him.

'But I suppose----' Then she hesitated; and Dick understood the
hesitation.

'I was never so bad,' said he, 'but what I knew very well what was going
on. I don't believe Caldigate and Mrs. Smith even so much as spoke to
each other all that month. She had had a wonderful turn of luck.'

'In getting gold?'

'She had bought and sold shares till she was supposed to have made a pot
of money. People up there got an idea that she was one of the lucky
ones,--and it did seem so. Then she got it into her head that she didn't
want Caldigate to know about her money, and he was downright sick of
her. She had been good-looking at one time, Mrs. Caldigate.'

'I daresay. Most of them are so, I suppose.'

'And clever. She'd talk the hind-legs off a dog, as we used to say out
there.'

'You had very odd sayings, Mr. Shand.'

'Indeed we had. But when she got in that way about her money, and then
took to drinking brandy, Caldigate was only too glad to be rid of her.
Crinkett believed in her because she had such a run of luck. She held a
lot of his shares,--shares that used to be his. So they got together,
and she left Ahalala and went to Polyeuka Hall. I remember it all as if
it were yesterday. When I broke away from Caldigate in June, and went to
Queensland, they hadn't seen each other for two months. And as for
having been married;--you might as well tell me that I had married her!'

If Mr. Caldigate had ever allowed a shade of doubt to cross his mind as
to his son's story, Dick Shand's further story removed it. The picture
of the life which was led at Ahalala and Nobble was painted for him
clearly, so that he could see, or fancy that he saw, what the condition
of things had been. And this increased faith trickled through to others.
Mr. Bromley who had always believed, believed more firmly than before,
and sent tidings of his belief to Plum-cum-Pippins and thence to
Babington. Mr. Holt, the farmer, became more than ever energetic, and in
a loud voice at a Cambridge market ordinary, declared the ill-usage done
to Caldigate and his young wife. It had been said over and over again at
the trial that Dick Shand's evidence was the one thing wanted, and here
was Dick Shand to give his evidence. Then the belief gained ground in
Cambridge; and with the belief there arose a feeling as to the egregious
wrong which was being done.

But the Boltons were still assured. None of them had as yet given any
sign of yielding. Robert Bolton knew very well that Shand was at
Folking, but had not asked to see him. He and Mr. Seely were on
different sides, and could not discuss the matter; but their ideas were
the same. It was incredible to Robert that Dick Shand should appear just
at this moment, unless as part of an arranged plan. He could not read
the whole plot; but was sure that there was a plot. It was held in his
mind as a certain fact, that John Caldigate would not have paid away
that large sum of money had he not thought that by doing so he was
buying off Crinkett and the other witnesses. Of course there had been a
marriage in Australia, and therefore the arrival of Dick Shand was to
him only a lifting of the curtain for another act of the play. An
attempt was to be made to get Caldigate out of prison, which attempt it
was his duty to oppose. Caldigate had, he thought, deceived and
inflicted a terrible stain on his family; and therefore Caldigate was an
enemy upon whom it behoved him to be revenged. This feeling was the
stronger in his bosom, because Caldigate had been brought into the
family by him.

But when Dick Shand called upon him at his office, he would not deny
himself. 'I have been told by some people that, as I am here in the
neighbourhood, I ought to come and speak to you,' said Dick. The 'some
people' had been, in the first instance, Mr. Ralph Holt, the farmer. But
Dick had discussed the matter with Mr. Bromley, and Mr. Bromley had
thought that Shand's story should be told direct to Hester's brother.

'If you have anything to say, Mr. Shand, I am ready to hear it.'

'All this about a marriage at Ahalala between John Caldigate and Mrs.
Smith is a got-up plan, Mr. Bolton.'

'The jury did not seem to think so, Mr. Shand.'

'I wasn't here then to let them know the truth.' Robert Bolton raised
his eyebrows, marvelling at the simplicity of the man who could fancy
that his single word would be able to weigh down the weight of evidence
which had sufficed to persuade twelve men and such a judge as Judge
Bramber. 'I was with Caldigate all the time, and I'm sure of what I'm
saying The two weren't on speaking terms when they were said to be
married.'

'Of course, Mr. Shand, as you have come to me, I will hear what you may
have to say. But what is the use of it? The man has been tried and found
guilty.'

'They can let him out again if he's innocent.'

'The Queen can pardon him, no doubt;--but even the Queen cannot quash
the conviction. The evidence was as clear as noonday. The judge and the
jury and the public were all in one mind.'

'But I wasn't here, then,' said Dick Shand, with perfect confidence.
Robert Bolton could only look at him and raise his eyebrows. He could
not tell him to his face that no unprejudiced person would believe the
evidence of such a witness. 'He's your brother-in-law said Dick, 'and I
supposed you'd be glad to know that he was innocent.'

'I can't go into that question, Mr. Shand. As I believe him to have been
guilty of as wicked a crime as any man can well commit, I cannot concern
myself in asking for a pardon for him. My own impression is that he
should have been sent to penal servitude.'

'By George!' exclaimed Dick. 'I tell you that it is all a lie from
beginning to end.'

'I fear we cannot do any good by talking about it, Mr. Shand.'

'By George!' Dick hitched up his yellow trousers as though he were
preparing for a fight. He wore his yellow trousers without braces, and
in all moments of energy hitched them up.

'If you please I will say good morning to you.'

'By George! when I tell you that I was there all the time, and that
Caldigate never spoke to the woman, or so much as saw her all that
month, and that therefore your own sister is in honest truth Caldigate's
wife, you won't listen to me! Do you mean to say that I'm lying?'

'Mr. Shand, I must ask you to leave my office.'

'By George! I wish I had you, Mr. Bolton, out at Ahalala, where there
are not quite so many policemen as there are here at Cambridge.'

'I shall have to send for one of them if you don't go away, Mr. Shand.'

'Here's a man who, even for the sake of his own sister, won't hear the
truth, just because he hates his sister's husband! What have I got to
get by lying?'

'That I cannot tell.' Bolton, as he said this, prepared himself for a
sudden attack; but Shand had sense enough to know that he would injure
the cause in which he was interested, as well as himself, by any
exhibition of violence, and therefore left the office.

'No,' said Mr. Bromley, when all this was told him; 'he is not a cruel
man, nor dishonest, nor even untrue to his sister. But having quite made
up his mind that Caldigate had been married in Australia, he cannot
release himself from the idea. And, as he thinks so, he feels it to be
his duty to keep his sister and Caldigate apart.'

'But why does he not believe me?' demanded Dick.

'In answer to that, I can only say that I do believe you.'

Then there came a request from Babington that Dick Shand would go over
to them there for a day. At Babington opinion was divided. Aunt Polly
and her eldest daughter, and with them Mr. Smirkie, still thought that
John Caldigate was a wicked bigamist; but the Squire and the rest of the
family had gradually gone over to the other side. The Squire had never
been hot against the offender, having been one of those who fancied that
a marriage at a very out-of-the-way place such as Ahalala did not
signify much. And now when he heard of Dick Shand's return and proffered
evidence, he declared that Dick Shand having been born a gentleman,
though he had been ever so much a sinner, and ever so much a drunkard,
was entitled to credence before a host of Crinketts. But with Aunt Polly
and Julia there remained the sense of the old injury, robbing Shand of
all his attributes of birth, and endowing even Crinkett with truth.
Then there had been a few words, and the Squire had asserted himself,
and insisted upon asking Shand to Babington.

'Did you ever see such trousers?' said Julia to her mother. 'I would not
believe him on his oath.'

'Certainly not,' said Mr. Smirkie, who of the three was by far the most
vehement in his adherence to the verdict. 'The man is a notorious
drunkard. And he has that look of wildness which bad characters always
bring with them from the colonies.'

'He didn't drink anything but water at lunch,' said one of the younger
girls.

'They never do when they're eating,' said Mr. Smirkie. For the great
teetotal triumph had not as yet been made known to the family at
Babington. 'These regular drunkards take it at all times by themselves
in their own rooms. He has delirium tremens in his face. I don't believe
a word that he says.'

'He certainly does wear the oddest trousers I ever saw,' said Aunt
Polly.

At the same time Dick himself was closeted with the Squire, and was
convincing him that there had been no Australian marriage at all. 'They
didn't jump over a broomstick, or anything of that kind?' asked the
Squire, intending to be jocose.

'They did nothing at all,' said Dick, who had worked himself up to a
state of great earnestness. 'Caldigate wouldn't as much as look at her
at that time;--and then to come home here and find him in prison because
he had married her! How any one should have believed it!'

'They did believe it. The women here believe it now, as you perceive.'

'It's an awful shame, Mr. Babington. Think of her, Mr. Babington. It's
harder on her even than him, for he was,--well, fond of the woman once.'

'It is hard. But we must do what we can to get him out. I'll write to
our member. Sir George supports the Government, and I'll get him to see
the Secretary. It is hard upon a young fellow just when he has got
married and come into a nice property.'

'And her, Mr. Babington!'

'Very bad, indeed. I'll see Sir George myself. The odd part of it is,
the Boltons are all against him. Old Bolton never quite liked the
marriage, and his wife is a regular Tartar.'

Thus the Squire was gained, and the younger daughter. But Mr. Smirkie
was as obdurate as ever. Something of his ground was cut from under his
feet when Dick's new and peculiar habits were observed at dinner. Mr.
Smirkie did indeed cling to his doctrine that your real drunkard never
drinks at his meals; but when Dick, on being pressed in regard to wine,
apologised by saying that he had become so used to tea in the colonies
as not to be able to take anything else at dinner, the peculiarity was
discussed till he was driven to own that he had drank nothing stronger
for the last two years. Then it became plain that delirium tremens was
not written on his face quite so plainly as Mr. Smirkie had at first
thought, and there was nothing left but his trousers to condemn him. But
Mr. Smirkie was still confident. 'I don't think you can go beyond the
verdict,' he said. 'There may be a pardon, of course;--though I shall
never believe it till I see it. But though there were twenty pardons she
ought not to go back to him. The pardon does not alter the crime,--and
whether he was married in Australia, or whether he was not, she ought to
think that he was, because the jury has said so. If she had any feeling
of feminine propriety she would shut herself up and call herself Miss
Bolton.'

'I don't agree with you in the least,' said the Squire; 'and I hope I
may live to see a dozen little Caldigates running about on that lawn.'

And there were a few words upstairs on the subject between Mr. Smirkie
and his wife--for even Mrs. Smirkie and Aunt Polly at last submitted
themselves to Dick's energy. 'Indeed, then, if he comes out,' said the
wife, 'I shall be very glad to see him at Plum-cum-Pippins.' This was
said in a voice which did not admit of contradiction, and was evidence
at any rate that Dick's visit to Babington had been successful in spite
of the yellow trousers.



Chapter LII

The Fortunes of Bagwax



An altogether new idea had occurred to Bagwax as he sat in his office
after his interview with Sir John Joram;--and it was an idea of such a
nature that he thought that he saw his way quite plain to a complete
manifestation of the innocence of Caldigate, to a certainty of a pardon,
and to an immediate end of the whole complication. By a sudden glance at
the evidence his eye had caught an object which in all his glances he
had never before observed. Then at once he went to work, and finding
that certain little marks were distinctly legible, he became on a sudden
violently hot,--so that the sweat broke out on his forehead. Here was
the whole thing disclosed at once,--disclosed to all the world if he
chose to disclose it. But if he did so, then there could not be any need
for that journey to Sydney, which Sir John still thought to be
expedient. And this thing which he had now seen was not one within his
own branch of work,--was not a matter with which he was bound to be
conversant. Somebody else ought to have found it out. His own knowledge
was purely accidental. There would be no disgrace to him in not finding
it out. But he had found it out.

Bagwax was a man who, in his official zeal and official capacity, had
exercised his intellect far beyond the matters to which he was bound to
apply himself in the mere performance of his duties. Post-marks were
his business; and had he given all his mind to postmarks, he would have
sufficiently carried out that great doctrine of doing the duty which
England expects from every man. But he had travelled beyond postmarks,
and had looked into many things. Among other matters he had looked into
penny stamps, twopenny stamps, and other stamps. In post-office
phraseology there is sometimes a confusion because the affixed effigy of
her Majesty's head, which represents the postage paid, is called a
stamp, and the postmarks or impressions indicating the names of towns
are also called stamps. Those postmarks or impressions had been the work
of Bagwax's life; but his zeal, his joy in his office, and the general
energy of his disposition, had opened up to him also all the mysteries
of the queen's heads. That stamp, that effigy, that twopenny
queen's-head, which by its presence on the corner of the envelope
purported to have been the price of conveying the letter from Sydney to
Nobble, on 10th May, 1873, had certainly been manufactured and sent out
to the colony since that date!

There are signs invisible to ordinary eyes which are plain as the sun at
noonday to the initiated. It is so in all arts, in all sciences. Bagwax
was at once sure of his fact. To his instructed gaze the little receipt
for twopence was as clearly dated as though the figures were written on
it. And yet he had never looked at it before. In the absorbing interest
which the postmark had created,--that fraudulent postmark as it
certainly was,--he had never condescended to examine the postage-stamp.
But now he saw and was certain.

If it was so,--and he had no doubt,--then would Caldigate surely be
released. It is hoped that the reader will follow the mind of Bagwax,
which was in this matter very clear. This envelope had been brought up
at the trial as evidence that, on a certain day, Caldigate had written
to the woman as his wife, and had sent the letter through the
post-office. For such sending the postage-stamp was necessary. The
postage-stamp had certainly been put on when the envelope was prepared
for its intended purpose. But if it could be proved by the stamp itself
that it had not been in existence on the date impressed on the envelope,
then the fraud would be quite apparent. And if there had been such
fraud, then would the testimony of all those four witnesses be crushed
into arrant perjury. They had produced the fraudulent document, and by
it would be thoroughly condemned. There could be no necessity for a
journey to Sydney.

As it all became clear to his mind, he thumped his table partly in
triumph,--partly in despair. 'What's the matter with you now?' said Mr.
Curlydown. It was a quarter past four, and Curlydown had not completed
his daily inspections. Had Bagwax been doing his proper share of work,
Curlydown would have already washed his hands and changed his coat, and
have been ready to start for the 4.30 train. As it was, he had an hour
of labour before him, and would be unable to count the plums upon his
wall, as was usual with him before dinner.

'It becomes more wonderful every day,' said Bagwax solemnly,--almost
awfully.

'It is very wonderful to me that a man should be able to sit so many
hours looking at one dirty bit of paper.'

'Every moment that I pass with that envelope before my eyes I see the
innocent husband in jail, and the poor afflicted wife weeping in her
solitude.'

'You'll be going on to the stage, Bagwax, before this is done.'

'I have sometimes thought that it was the career for which I was best
adapted. But, as to the envelope, the facts are now certain.'

'Any new facts?' asked Curlydown. But he asked the question in a
jeering tone, not at all as though desiring confidence or offering
sympathy.

'Yes,' replied Bagwax, slowly. 'The facts are certainly new,--and most
convincing; but as you have not given attention to the particular branch
concerned there can be no good in my mentioning them. You would not
understand me.' It was thus that he revenged himself on Curlydown. Then
there was again silence between them for a quarter of an hour, during
which Curlydown was hurrying through his work, and Bagwax was meditating
whether it was certainly his duty to make known the facts as to the
postage-stamp. 'You are so unkind,' said Bagwax at last, in a tone of
injured friendship, burning to tell his new discovery.

'You have got it all your way,' said Curlydown, without lifting his
head. 'And then, as you said just now,--I don't understand.'

'I'd tell you everything if you'd only be a little less hard.'

Curlydown was envious. He had, of course, been told of the civil things
which Sir John Joram had said; and though he did not quite believe all,
he was convinced that Bagwax was supposed to have distinguished himself.
If there was anything to be known he would like to know it. Nor was he
naturally quarrelsome. Bagwax was his old friend. 'I don't mean to be
hard,' he said. 'Of course one does feel oneself fretted when one has
been obliged to miss two trains.'

'Can I lend a hand?' said Bagwax.

'It doesn't signify now. I can't catch anything before the 5.20. One
does expect to get away a little earlier than that on a Saturday. What
is it that you've found out?'

'Do you really care to know?'

'Of course I do,--if it's anything in earnest. I took quite as much
interest as you in the matter when we were down at Cambridge.'

'You see that postage-stamp?' Bagwax stretched out the envelope,--or
rather the photograph of the envelope, for it was no more. But the
Queen's head, with all its obliterating smudges, and all its marks and
peculiarities, were to be seen quite as plainly as on the original,
which was tied up carefully among the archives of the trial. 'You see
that postage-stamp?' Curlydown took his glass, and looked at the
document, and declared that he saw the postage-stamp very plainly.

'But it does not tell you anything particular?'

'Nothing very particular--at the first glance,' said Curlydown, gazing
through the glass with all his eyes.

'Look again.'

'I see that they obliterate out there with a kind of star.'

'That has nothing to do with it.'

'The bunch of hair at the back of the head isn't quite like our bunch of
hair.'

'Just the same;--taken from the same die,' said Bagwax.

'The little holes for dividing the stamps are bigger.'

'It isn't that.'

'Then what the d---- is it?'

'There are letters at every corner,' said Bagwax.

'That's of course,' said Curlydown.

'Can you read those letters?' Curlydown owned that he never had quite
understood what those letters meant. 'Those two P's in the two bottom
corners tell me that that stamp wasn't printed before '74. It was all
explained to me not long ago. Now the postmark is dated '73.' There was
an air of triumph about Bagwax as he said this which almost drove
Curlydown back to hostility. But he checked himself merely shaking his
head, and continued to look at the stamp. 'What do you think of that?'
asked Bagwax.

'You'd have to prove it.'

'Of course I should. But the stamps are made here and are sent out to
the colony. I shall see Smithers at the stamp-office on Monday of
course.' Mr. Smithers was a gentleman concerned in the manufacture of
stamps. 'But I know my facts. I am as well aware of the meaning of those
letters as though I had made postage-stamps my own peculiar duty. Now
what ought I to do?'

'You wouldn't have to go, I suppose?'

'Not a foot.'

'And yet it ought to be found out how that date got there.' And
Curlydown put his finger upon the impression--10th May, 1873.

'Not a doubt about it. I should do a deal of good by going if they'd
give me proper authority to overhaul everything in the office out there.
They had the letter stamped fraudulently;--fraudulently, Mr. Curlydown!
Perhaps if I stayed at home to give evidence, they'd send you to Sydney
to find all that out.'

There was a courtesy in this suggestion which induced Curlydown to ask
his junior to come down and take pot-luck at Apricot Villa. Bagwax was
delighted, for his heart had been sore at the coolness which had grown
up between him and the man under whose wing he had worked for so many
years. He had been devoted to Curlydown till growing ambition had taught
him to think himself able to strike out a line for himself. Mr.
Curlydown had two daughters, of whom the younger, Jemima, had found much
favour in the eyes of Bagwax. But since the jealousy had sprung up
between the two men he had never seen Jemima, nor tasted the fruits of
Curlydown's garden. Mrs. Curlydown, who approved of Bagwax, had been
angry, and Jemima herself had become sullen and unloving to her father.
On that very morning Mrs. Curlydown had declared that she hated quarrels
like poison. 'So do I, mamma,' said Jemima, breaking her silence
emphatically. 'Not that Mr. Bagwax is anything to anybody.'

'That does look like something,' said Curlydown, whispering to his
friend in the railway carriage. They were sitting opposite to each
other, with their knees together,--and were of course discussing the
envelope.

'It is everything. When they were making up their case in Australia, and
when the woman brought out the cover with his writing upon it, with the
very name, Mrs. Caldigate, written by himself,--Crinkett wasn't
contented with that. So they put their heads together, and said that if
the letter could be got to look like a posted letter,--a letter sent
regularly by the post,--that would be real evidence. The idea wasn't
bad.'

'Nothing has ever been considered better evidence than postmarks,' said
Curlydown, with authority.

'It was a good idea. Then they had to get a postage-stamp. They little
knew how they might put their foot into it there. And they got hold of
some young man at the post-office who knew how to fix a date-stamp with
a past date. How these things become clear when one looks at them long
enough!'

'Only one has to have an eye in one's head.'

'Yes,' said Bagwax, as modestly as he could at such a moment. 'A fellow
has to have his wits about him before he can do anything out of the
common way in any line. You'd tell Sir John everything at
once;--wouldn't you?' Curlydown raised his hat and scratched his head.
'Duty first, you know. Duty first,' said Bagwax.

'In a man's own line,--yes,' said Curlydown. 'Somebody else ought to
have found that out. That's not post-office. It's stamps and taxes. It's
very hard that a man should have to cut the nose off his own face by
knowing more than he need know.'

'Duty! Duty!' said Bagwax as he opened the carriage-door and jumped out
on to the platform.

When he got up to the cottage, Mrs. Curlydovvn assured him that it was
quite a cure for sore eyes to see him. Sophia, the elder of the two
daughters at home, told him that he was a false truant; and Jemima
surmised that the great attractions of the London season had prevented
him from coming down to Enfield. 'It isn't that, indeed,' he said. 'I am
always delighted in running down. But the Caldigate affair has been so
important!'

'You mean the trial,' said Mrs. Curlydown. 'But the man has been in
prison ever so long.'

'Unjustly! Most unjustly!'

'Is it so, really?' asked Jemima. 'And the poor young bride?'

'Not so much of a bride,' said Sophia. 'She's got one, I know.'

'And papa says you're to go out to Botany Bay,' said Jemima. 'It'll be
years and years before you are back again.' Then he explained it was not
Botany Bay, and he would be back in six months. And, after all, he
wasn't going at all. 'Well, I declare, if papa isn't down the walk
already,' said Jemima, looking out of the window.

'I don't think I shall go at all,' said Bagwax in a melancholy tone as
he went up-stairs to wash his hands.

The dinner was very pleasant; and as Curlydown and his guest drank their
bottle of port together at the open window, it was definitely settled
that Bagwax should reveal the mystery of the postage-stamp to Sir John
Joram at once. 'I should have it like a lump of lead on my conscience
all the time I was on the deep,' said Bagwax, solemnly.

'Conscience is conscience, to be sure,' said Curlydown

'I don't think that I'm given to be afraid,' said Bagwax. 'The ocean, if
I know myself, would have no terrors for me;--not if I was doing my
duty. But I should hear the ship's sides cracking with every blast if
that secret were lodged within my breast.'

'Take another glass of port, old boy.'

Bagwax did take another glass, finishing the bottle, and continued.
'Farewell to those smiling shores. Farewell, Sydney, and all her charms.
Farewell to her orange groves, her blue mountains, and her rich
gold-fields.'

'Take a drop of whitewash to wind up, and then we'll join the ladies.'
Curlydown was a strictly hospitable man, and in his own house would not
appear to take amiss anything his guest might say. But when Bagwax
became too poetical over his wine, Curlydown waxed impatient. Bagwax
took his drop of whitewash, and then hurried on to the lawn to join
Jemima.

'And you really are not going to those distant parts?'

'No,' said Bagwax, with all that melancholy which wine and love combined
with sorrow can produce. 'That dream is over.'

'I am so glad.'

'Why should you be glad? Why should a resolve which it almost breaks my
heart to make be a source of joy to you?'

'Of course you would have nothing to regret at leaving, Mr. Bagwax.'

'Very much,--if I were going for ever. No;--I could never do that,
unless I were to take some dear one with me. But, as I said, that dream
is over. It has ever been my desire to see foreign climes, and the
chance so seldom comes in a man's way.'

'You've been to Ostend, I know, Mr. Bagwax.'

'Oh yes, and to Boulogne,' said Bagwax, proudly. 'But the desire of
travel grows with the thing it feeds on. I long to overcome great
distances,--to feel that I have put illimitable space behind me. To set
my foot on shores divided from these by the thickness of all the earth
would give me a sense of grandeur which I--which,--which,--would be
magnificent.'

'I suppose that is natural in a man.'

'In some men,' said Bagwax, not liking to be told that his heroic
instincts were shared by all his brethren.

'But women, of course, think of the dangers. Suppose you were to be cast
away!'

'What matter? With a father of a family of course it would be different.
But a lone man should never think of such things.' Jemima shook her head
and walked silently by his side. 'If I had some dear one who cared for
me I suppose it would be different with me.'

'I don't know,' said Jemima. 'Gentlemen like to amuse themselves
sometimes, but it doesn't often go very deep.'

'Things always go deep with me,' said Bagwax. 'I panted for that journey
to the Antipodes;--panted for it! Now that it is over, perhaps some day
I may tell you under what circumstances it has been relinquished. In the
meantime my mind passes to other things; or perhaps I should say my
heart--Jemima!' Then Bagwax stopped on the path.

'Go on, Mr. Bagwax. Papa will be looking at you.'

'Jemima,' he said, 'will you recompense me by your love for what I have
lost on the other side of the globe?' She recompensed him, and he was
happy.

The future father and son-in-law sat and discussed their joint affairs
for an hour after the ladies had retired. As to Jemima and his love,
Bagwax was allowed to be altogether triumphant. Mrs. Curlydown kissed
him, and he kissed Sophia. That was in public. What passed between him
and Jemima no human eye saw. The old post-office clerk took the younger
one to his heart, and declared that he was perfectly satisfied with his
girl's choice. 'I've always known that you were steady,' he said, 'and
that's what I look to. She has had her admirers, and perhaps might have
looked higher; but what's rank or money if a man's fond of pleasure?'
But when that was settled they returned again to the Caldigate envelope.
Curlydown was not quite so sure as to that question of duty. The
proposed journey to Sydney, with a pound a-day allowed for expenses, and
the traveller's salary going on all the time, would put a nice sum of
ready-money into Bagwax's pocket. 'It wouldn't be less than two hundred
towards furnishing my boy,' said Curlydown. 'You'll want it. And as for
the delay, what's six months? Girls like to have a little time to boast
about it.'

But Bagwax had made up his mind, and nothing would shake him. 'If
they'll let me go out all the same, to set matters right, of course I'd
take the job. I should think it a duty, and would bear the delay as well
as I could. If Jemima thought it right I'm sure she wouldn't complain.
But since I saw that letter on that stamp my conscience has told me that
I must reveal it all. It might be me as was in prison, and Jemima who
was told that I had a wife in Australia. Since I've looked at it in that
light I've been more determined than ever to go to Sir John Joram's
chambers on Monday. Good-night, Mr. Curlydown. I am very glad you asked
me down to the cottage to-day; more glad than anything.'

At half-past eleven, by the last train, Bagwax returned to town, and
spent the night with mingled dreams, in which Sydney, Jemima, and the
envelope were all in their turns eluding him, and all in their turns
within his grasp.



Chapter LIII

Sir John Backs His Opinion



Well, Mr. Bagwax, I'm glad that it's only one envelope this time.' This
was said by Sir John Joram to the honest and energetic post-office clerk
on the morning of Wednesday the 3d September, when the lawyer would
have been among the partridges down in Suffolk but for the vicissitudes
of John Caldigate's case. It was hard upon Sir John, and went something
against the grain with him. He was past the time of life at which men
are enthusiastic as to the wrongs of others,--as was Bagwax; and had, in
truth, much less to gain from the cause, or to expect, than Bagwax. He
thought that the pertinacity of Bagwax, and the coming of Dick Shand at
the moment of his holidays, were circumstances which justified the use
of a little internal strong language,--such as he had occasionally used
externally before he had become attorney-general. In fact he had--damned
Dick Shand and Bagwax, and in doing so had considered that Jones his
clerk was internal. 'I wish he had gone to Sydney a month ago,' he said
to Jones. But when Jones suggested that Bagwax might be sent to Sydney
without further trouble, Sir John's conscience pricked him. Not to be
able to shoot a Suffolk partridge on the 1st of September was very
cruel, but to be detained wrongfully in Cambridge jail was worse; and he
was of opinion that such cruelty had been inflicted on Caldigate. On the
Saturday Dick Shand had been with him. He had remained in town on the
Monday and Tuesday by agreement with Mr. Seely. Early on the Tuesday
intimation was given to him that Bagwax would come on the Wednesday with
further evidence,--with evidence which should be positively conclusive.
Bagwax had, in the meantime, been with his friend Smithers at the
stamp-office, and was now fully prepared. By the help of Smithers he had
arrived at the fact that the postage-stamp had certainly been fabricated
in 1874, some months after the date imprinted on the cover of the letter
to which it was affixed.

'No, Sir John;--only one this time. We needn't move anything.' All the
chaos had been restored to its normal place, and looked as though it had
never been moved since it was collected.

'And we can prove that this queen's-head did not exist before the 1st
January, 1874.'

'Here's the deposition,' said Bagwax, who, by his frequent intercourse
with Mr. Jones, had become almost as good as a lawyer himself,--'at
least, it isn't a deposition, of course,--because it's not sworn.'

'A statement of what can be proved on oath.'

'Just that, Sir John. It's Mr. Smithers! Mr. Smithers has been at the
work for the last twenty years. I knew it just as well as he from the
first, because I attend to these sort of things; but I thought it best
to go to the fountain-head.'

'Quite right.'

'Sir John will want to hear it from the fountain-head I said to myself;
and therefore I went to Smithers. Smithers is perhaps a little
conceited, but his word is--gospel. In a matter of postage-stamps
Smithers is gospel.'

Then Sir John read the statement; and though he may not have taken it
for gospel, still to him it was credible. 'It seems clear,' he said.

'Clear as the running stream,' said Bagwax.

'I should like to have all that gang up for perjury, Mr. Bagwax.'

'So should I, Sir John;--so should I. When I think of that poor dear
lady and her infant babe without a name, and that young father torn from
his paternal acres and cast into a vile prison, my blood boils within my
veins, and all my passion to see foreign climes fades into the
distance.'

'No foreign climes now, Mr. Bagwax.'

'I suppose not, Sir John,' said the hero, mournfully

'Not if this be true.'

'It's gospel, Sir John;--gospel. They might send me out to set that
office to rights. Things must be very wrong when they could get hold of
a date-stamp and use it in that way. There must be one of the gang in
the office.'

'A bribe did it, I should say.'

'I could find it out, Sir John. Let me alone for that. You could say
that you have found me--quick-like in this matter;--couldn't you, Sir
John?' Bagwax was truly happy in the love of Jemima Curlydown; but the
idea of earning two hundred pounds for furniture, and of seeing distant
climes at the same time, had taken a strong hold of his imagination.

'I am afraid I should have no voice in the matter,--unless with the view
of getting evidence.'

'And we've got that;--haven't we, Sir John?'

'I think so.'

'Duty, Sir John, duty!' said Bagwax, almost sobbing through his triumph.

'That's it, Mr. Bagwax.' Sir John too had given up his partridges,--for
a day or two.

'And that gentleman will now be restored to his wife?'

'It isn't for me to say. As you and I have been engaged on the same
side----' To be told that he had been on the same side with the late
attorney-general was almost compensation to Bagwax for the loss of his
journey. 'As you and I have been on the same side, I don't mind telling
you that I think that he ought to be released. The matter remains with
the Secretary of State, who will probably be guided by the judge who
tried the case.'

'A stern man, Sir John.'

'Not soft-hearted, Mr. Bagwax,--but as conscientious a man as you'll be
able to put your hand upon. The young wife with her nameless baby won't
move him at all. But were he moved by such consideration he would be so
far unfit for his office.'

'Mercy is divine,' said Bagwax.

'And therefore unfit to be used by a merely human judge. You know, I
suppose, that Richard Shand has come home?'

'No!'

'Indeed he has, and was with me a day or two since.'

'Can he say anything?' Bagwax was not rejoiced at Dick's opportune
return. He thoroughly wished that Caldigate should be liberated, but he
wished himself to monopolise the glory of the work.

'He says a great deal. He has sworn point-blank that there was no such
marriage at the time named. He and Caldigate were living together then,
and for some weeks afterwards, and the woman was never near them during
the time.'

'To think of his coming just now!'

'It will be a great help, Mr. Bagwax; but it wouldn't be enough alone.
He might possibly--tell an untruth.'

'Perjury on the other side, as it were.'

'Just that. But this little queen's-head here can't be untrue.'

'No, Sir John, no; that can't be,' said Bagwax, comforted; 'and the
dated impression can't lie either. The envelope is what'll do it after
all.'

'I hope so. You and Mr. Jones will prepare the statement for the
Secretary of State, and I will send it myself.' With that Mr. Bagwax
took his leave, and remained closeted with Mr. Jones for much of the
remainder of the day.

The moment Sir John was alone he wrote an almost angry note to his
friend Honybun, in conjunction with whom and another Member of
Parliament he had the shooting in Suffolk. Honybun, who was also a
lawyer, though less successful than his friend, was a much better shot,
and was already taking the cream off the milk of the shooting. 'I cannot
conceive,' he said at the end of his letter, 'that, after all my
experience, I should have put myself so much out of my way to serve a
client. A man should do what he's paid to do, and what it is presumed
that he will do, and nothing more. But here I have been instigated by an
insane ambition to emulate the good-natured zeal of a fellow who is
absolutely willing to sacrifice himself for the good of a stranger.'
Then he went on to say that he could not leave London till the Friday.

On the Thursday morning he put all the details together, and himself
drew out a paper for the perusal of the Secretary of State. As he looked
at the matter all round, it seemed to him that the question was so clear
that even Judge Bramber could not hesitate. The evidence of Dick Shand
was quite conclusive,--if credible. It was open, of course, to strong
doubt, in that it could not be sifted by cross-examination. Alone, it
certainly would not have sufficed to extort a pardon from any Secretary
of State,--as any Secretary of State would have been alive to the fact
that Dick might have been suborned. Dick's life had not been such that
his single word would have been regarded as certainly true. But in
corroboration it was worth much. And then if the Secretary or the judge
could be got to go into that very complicated question of the dated
stamp, it would, Sir John thought, become evident to him that the
impression had not been made at the time indicated. This had gradually
been borne in upon Sir John's mind, till he was almost as confident in
his facts as Bagwax himself. But this operation had required much time
and much attention. Would the Secretary, or would the judge, clear his
table, and give himself time to inspect and to measure two or three
hundred postmarks? The date of the fabrication of the postage-stamp
would of course require to be verified by official report;--but if the
facts as stated by Bagwax were thus confirmed, then the fraudulent nature
of the envelope would be put beyond doubt. It would be so manifest that
this morsel of evidence had been falsely concocted, that no clear-headed
man, let his prepossessions be what they might, could doubt it. Judge
Bramber would no doubt begin to sift the case with a strong bias in
favour of the jury. It was for a jury to ascertain the facts; and in
this case the jury had done so. In his opinion,--in Judge Bramber's
opinion, as the judge had often declared it,--a judge should not be
required to determine facts. A new trial, were that possible, would be
the proper remedy, if remedy were wanted; but as that was impossible, he
would be driven to investigate such new evidence as was brought before
him, and to pronounce what would, in truth, be another verdict. All this
was clear to Sir John; and he told himself that even Judge Bramber would
not be able to deny that false evidence had been submitted to the jury.

Sir John, as he occupied his mind with the matter on the Thursday
morning, did wake himself up to some generous energy on his client's
behalf,--so that in sending the written statements of the case to the
Home Secretary, he himself wrote a short but strongly-worded note. 'As
it is quite manifest,' he said, 'that a certain amount of false and
fraudulent circumstantial evidence has been brought into court by the
witnesses who proved the alleged marriage, and as direct evidence has
now come to hand on the other side which is very clear, and as far as we
know trustworthy, I feel myself justified in demanding her Majesty's
pardon for my client.'

On the next day he went down to Birdseye Lodge, near Ipswich, and was
quite enthusiastic on the matter with his friend Honybun. 'I never knew
Bramber go beyond a jury in my life,' said Honybun.

'He'll have to do it now. They can't keep him in prison when they find
that the chief witness was manifestly perjured. The woman swore on her
oath that the letter reached her by post in May, 1873. It certainly did
not do so. The cover, as we see it, has been fabricated since that
date.'

'I never thought the cover went for much,' said Honybun.

'For very little,--for nothing at all perhaps,--till proved to be
fraudulent. If they had left the letter alone their case would have
been strong enough for a conviction. As it was, they were fools enough
to go into a business of this sort; but they have done so, and as they
have been found out, the falsehood which has been detected covers every
word of their spoken evidence with suspicion. It will be like losing so
much of his heart's blood, but the old fellow will have to give way.'

'He never gave way in his life.'

'We'll make him begin.'

'I'll bet you a pony he don't.'

'I'll take the bet,' said the late Attorney-General. But as he did so he
looked round to see that not even a gamekeeper was near enough to hear
him.

On that Friday Bagwax was in a very melancholy state of mind at his
office, in spite of the brilliancy of his prospects with Miss Curlydown.
'I'll just come back to my old work,' he said to his future
father-in-law. 'There's nothing else for me to do.'

This was all as it should be, and would have been regarded a day or two
ago by Curlydown as simple justice. There had been quite enough of that
pottering over an old envelope, to the manifest inconvenience of himself
and others. But now the matter was altered. His was a paternal and an
affectionate heart, and he saw very plainly the pecuniary advantage of a
journey to Sydney. And he knew too that, in official life as well as
elsewhere, to those who have much, more is given. Now that Bagwax was to
him in the light of a son, he wished Bagwax to rise in the world. 'I
wouldn't give it up,' said he.

'But what would you do?'

'I'd stick to it like wax till they did something for me.'

'There's nothing to stick to.'

'I'd take it for granted I was going at once to Sydney. I'd get my
outfit, and, by George! I'd take my place.'

'I've told Sir John I wasn't going; and he said it wasn't necessary.'
As Bagwax told his sad tale he almost wept.

'I wouldn't mind that. I'd have it out of them somehow. Why is he to
have all the pay? No doubt it's been hundreds to him; and you've done
the work and got nothing.'

'When I asked him to get me sent, he said he'd no power;--not now it's
all so plain.' He turned his face down towards the desk to hide the tear
that now was, in truth, running down his face. 'But duty!' he said,
looking up again. 'Duty! England expects----. D--n it, who's going to
whimper? When I lay my head on my pillow at night and think that I, I,
Thomas Bagwax, have restored that nameless one to her babe and her lord,
I shall sleep even though that pillow be no better than a hard bolster.'

'Jemima will look after that,' said the father, laughing. 'But still I
wouldn't give it up. Never give a chance up,--they come so seldom. I'll
tell you what I should do;--I should apply to the Secretary for leave to
go to Sydney at once.'

'At my own expense?' said Bagwax, horrified.

'Certainly not;--but that you might have an opportunity of investigating
all this for the public service. It'll get referred round in some way to
the Secretary of State, who can't but say all that you've done. When it
gets out of a man's own office he don't so much mind doing a little job.
It sounds good-natured. And then if they don't do anything for you,
you'll get a grievance. Next to a sum of money down, a grievance is the
best thing you can have. A man who can stick to a grievance year after
year will always make money of it at last.'

On the Saturday, Bagwax went down to Apricot Lodge, having been invited
to stay with his beloved till the Monday. In the smiles of his beloved
he did find much consolation, especially as it had already been assured
to him that sixty pounds a-year would be settled on Jemima on and from
her wedding-day. And then they made very much of him. 'You do love me,
Tom; don't you?' said Jemima. They were sitting on camp-stools behind
the grotto, and Bagwax answered by pressing the loved one's waist.
'Better than going to Sydney, Tom,--don't you?'

'It is so very different,' said Bagwax,--which was true.

'If you don't like me better than anything else in all the world,
however different, I will never stand at the altar with you.' And she
moved her camp-stool perhaps an inch away.

'In the way of loving, of course I do.'

'Then why do you grieve when you've got what you like best?'

'You don't understand, Jemima, what a spirit of adventure means.'

'I think I do, or I shouldn't be going to marry you. That's quite as
great an adventure as a journey to Sydney. You ought to be very glad to
get off, now you're going to settle down as a married man.'

'Think what two hundred pounds would be, Jemima;--in the way of
furniture.'

'That's papa's putting in, I know. I hate all that hankering after
filthy lucre. You ought to be ashamed of wanting to go so far away just
when you're engaged You wouldn't care about leaving me, I suppose the
least.'

'I should always be thinking of you.'

'Yes, you would! But suppose I wasn't thinking of you. Suppose I took to
thinking of somebody else. How would it be then?'

'You wouldn't do that, Jemima.'

'You ought to know when you're well off, Tom.' By this time he had
recovered the inch and perhaps a little more. 'You ought to feel that
you've plenty to console you.'

'So I do. Duty! duty! England expects that every man----'

'That's your idea of consolation, is it?' And away went the camp-stool
half a yard.

'You believe in duty, don't you, Jemima?'

'In a husband's duty to his wife, I do;--and in a young man's duty to
his sweetheart.'

'And in a father's to his children.'

'That's as may be,' said she, getting up and walking away into the
kitchen-garden. He of course accompanied her, and before they got to the
house had promised her not to sigh for the delights of Sydney, nor for
the perils of adventure any more.



Chapter LIV

Judge Bramber



A secretary of State who has to look after the police and the
magistrates, to answer questions in the House of Commons, and
occasionally to make a telling speech in defence of his colleagues, and,
in addition to this, is expected to perform the duties of a practical
court of appeal in criminal cases, must have something to do. To have to
decide whether or no some poor wretch shall be hanged, when, in spite of
the clearest evidence, humanitarian petitions by the dozen overwhelm him
with claims for mercy, must be a terrible responsibility. 'No, your
Majesty, I think we won't hang him. I think we'll send him to penal
servitude for life;--if your Majesty pleases.' That is so easy, and
would be so pleasant. Why should any one grumble at so right royal a
decision? But there are the newspapers, always so prone to
complain;--and the Secretary has to acknowledge that he must be strong
enough to hang his culprits in spite of petitions, or else he must give
up that office. But when the evidence is not clear, the case is twice
more difficult. The jury have found their verdict, and the law intends
that the verdict of a jury shall be conclusive. When a man has been
declared to be guilty by twelve of his countrymen,--he is guilty, let
the facts have been what they may, and let the twelve have been ever so
much in error. Majesty, however, can pardon guilt, and hence arises some
awkward remedy for the mistakes of jurymen. But an unassisted Majesty
cannot itself investigate all things,--is not, in fact, in this country
supposed to perform any duties of that sort,--a Secretary of State is
invested with the privilege of what is called mercy. It is justice
rather that is wanted. If Bagwax were in the right about that
envelope,--and the reader will by this time think that he was right; and
if Dick Shand had sworn truly, then certainly our friend John Caldigate
was not in want of mercy. It was instant justice that he required,--with
such compensation as might come to him from the indignant sympathy of
all good men.

I remember to have seen a man at Bermuda whose fate was peculiar. He was
sleek, fat, and apparently comfortable, mixing pills when I saw him, he
himself a convict and administering to the wants of his brother
convicts. He remonstrated with me on the hardness of his position.
'Either I did do it, or I didn't,' he said. 'It was because they thought
I didn't that they sent me here. And if I didn't, what right had they to
keep me here at all?' I passed on in silence, not daring to argue the
matter with the man in face of the warder. But the man was right. He had
murdered his wife;--so at least the jury had said,--and had been
sentenced to be hanged. He had taken the poor woman into a little
island, and while she was bathing had drowned her. Her screams had been
heard on the mainland, and the jury had found the evidence sufficient.
Some newspaper had thought the reverse, and had mooted the
question;--was not the distance too great for such screams to have been
heard, or, at any rate, understood? So the man was again brought to
trial in the Court of the Home Office, and was,--not pardoned, but sent
to grow fat and make pills at Bermuda. He had, or he had not, murdered
his wife. If he did the deed he should have been hanged;--and if not, he
should not have been forced to make extorted pills.

What was a Secretary of State to do in such a case? No doubt he believed
that the wretch had murdered his wife. No doubt the judge believed it.
All the world believed it. But the newspaper was probably right in
saying that the evidence was hardly conclusive,--probably right because
it produced its desired effect. If the argument had been successfully
used with the jury, the jury would have acquitted the man. Then surely
the Secretary of State should have sent him out as though acquitted;
and, not daring to hang him, should have treated him as innocent.
Another trial was, in truth, demanded.

And so it was in Caldigate's case. The Secretary of State, getting up
early in the morning after a remarkable speech, in which he vindicated
his Ministry from the attacks of all Europe, did read all the papers,
and took home to himself the great Bagwaxian theory. He mastered Dick's
evidence;--and managed to master something also as to Dick's character.
He quite understood the argument as to the postage-stamps,--which went
further with him than the other arguments. And he understood the
perplexity of his own position. If Bagwax was right, not a moment should
be lost in releasing the ill-used man. To think of pardon, to mention
pardon, would be an insult. Instant justice, with infinite regrets that
the injuries inflicted admitted of no compensation,--that and that only,
was impressively demanded. How grossly would that man have been
ill-used!--how cruelly would that woman have been injured! But then,
again,--if Bagwax was wrong;--if the cunning fraud had been concocted
over here and not in Sydney;--if the plot had been made, not to
incarcerate an innocent man, but to liberate a guilty man, then how
unfit would he show himself for his position were he to be taken in by
such guile! What crime could be worse than that committed by Caldigate
against the young lady he had betrayed, if Caldigate were guilty? Upon
the whole, he thought it would be safer to trust to the jury; but
comforted himself by the reflection that he could for a while transfer
the responsibility. It would perhaps be expedient to transfer it
altogether. So he sent all the papers on to Judge Bramber.

Judge Bramber was a great man. Never popular, he had been wise enough to
disregard popularity. He had forced himself into practice, in opposition
to the attorneys, by industry and perspicuity. He had attended
exclusively to his profession, never having attempted to set his foot on
the quicker stepping-stones of political life. It was said of him that
no one knew whether he called himself Liberal or Conservative At
fifty-five he was put upon the bench, simply because he was supposed to
possess a judicial mind. Here he amply justified that opinion,--but not
without the sneer and ill-words of many. He was now seventy, and it was
declared that years had had no effect on him. He was supposed to be
absolutely merciless,--as hard as a nether millstone, a judge who could
put on the black cap without a feeling of inward disgust. But it may be
surmised that they who said so knew nothing of him,--for he was a man
not apt to betray the secrets of his inner life. He was noted for his
reverence for a jury, and for his silence on the bench. The older he
grew the shorter became his charges; nor were there wanting those who
declared that his conduct in this respect was intended as a reproach to
some who are desirous of adorning the bench by their eloquence. To sit
there listening to everything, and subordinating himself to others till
his interposition was necessary, was his idea of a judge's duty. But
when the law had declared itself, he was always strong in supporting the
law. A man condemned for murder ought to be hanged,--so thought Judge
Bramber,--and not released, in accordance with the phantasy of
philanthropists. Such were the requirements of the law. If the law were
cruel, let the legislators look to that. He was once heard to confess
that the position of a judge who had condemned an innocent man might be
hard to bear; but, he added, that a country would be unfortunate which
did not possess judges capable of bearing even that sorrow. In his heart
he disapproved of the attribute of mercy as belonging to the Crown. It
was opposed to his idea of English law, and apt to do harm rather than
good.

He had been quite convinced of Caldigate's guilt,--not only by the
direct evidence, but by the concurrent circumstances. To his thinking,
it was not in human nature that a man should pay such a sum as twenty
thousand pounds to such people as Crinkett and Euphemia Smith,--a sum of
money which was not due either legally or morally,--except with an
improper object. I have said that he was a great man; but he did not
rise to any appreciation of the motives which had unquestionably
operated with Caldigate. Had Caldigate been quite assured, when he paid
the money, that his enemies would remain and bear witness against him,
still he would have paid it. In that matter he had endeavoured to act as
he would have acted had the circumstances of the mining transaction been
made known to him when no threat was hanging over his head. But all that
Judge Bramber did not understand. He understood, however, quite clearly,
that under no circumstances should money have been paid by an accused
person to witnesses while that person's guilt and innocence were in
question. In his summing-up he had simply told the jury to consider the
matter;--but he had so spoken the word as to make the jury fully
perceive what had been the result of his own consideration.

And then Caldigate and the woman had lived together, and a distinct and
repeated promise of marriage had been acknowledged. It was acknowledged
that the man had given his name to the woman, so far as himself to write
it. Whatever might be the facts as to the postmark and postage-stamp,
the words 'Mrs. Caldigate' had been written by the man now in prison.

Four persons had given direct evidence; and in opposition to them there
had been nothing. Till Dick Shand had come, no voice had been brought
forward to throw even a doubt upon the marriage. That two false
witnesses should adhere well together in a story was uncommon; that
three should do so, most rare; with four it would be almost a miracle.
But these four had adhered. They were people, probably of bad
character,--whose lives had perhaps been lawless. But if so, it would
have been so much easier to prove them false if they were false. Thus
Judge Bramber, when he passed sentence on Caldigate had not in the least
doubted that the verdict was a true verdict.

And now the case was sent to him for reconsideration. He hated such
reconsiderations. He first read Sir John Joram's letter, and declared to
himself that it was unfit to have come from any one calling himself a
lawyer. There was an enthusiasm about it altogether beneath a great
advocate,--certainly beneath any forensic advocate employed otherwise
than in addressing a jury. He, Judge Bramber, had never himself talked
of 'demanding' a verdict even from a jury. He had only endeavoured to
win it. But that a man who had been Attorney-General,--who had been the
head of the bar,--should thus write to a Secretary of State, was to him
disgusting. To his thinking, a great lawyer, even a good lawyer, would
be incapable of enthusiasm as to any case in which he was employed. The
ignorant childish world outside would indulge in zeal and hot
feelings,--but for an advocate to do so was to show that he was no
lawyer,--that he was no better than the outside world. Even spoken
eloquence was, in his mind, almost beneath a lawyer,--studied eloquence
certainly was so. But such written words as these disgusted him. And
then he came across allusions to the condition of the poor lady at
Folking. What could the condition of the lady at Folking have to do with
the matter? Though the poor lady at Folking should die in her sorrow,
that could not alter the facts as they had occurred in Australia! It was
not for him, or for the Secretary of State, to endeavour to make things
pleasant all round here in England. It had been the jury's duty to find
out whether that crime had been committed, and his duty to see that all
due facilities were given to the jury. It had been Sir John Joram's duty
to make out what best case he could for his client,--and then to rest
contented. Had all things been as they should be, the Secretary of State
would have had no duty at all in the matter. It was in this frame of
mind that Judge Bramber applied himself to the consideration of the
case. No juster man ever lived;--and yet in his mind there was a bias
against the prisoner.

Nevertheless he went to his work with great patience, and a resolve to
sift everything that was to be sifted. The Secretary of State had done
no more than his required duty in sending the case to him, and he would
now do his. He took the counter-evidence as it came in the papers. In
order that the two Bagwaxian theories, each founded on the same small
document, might be expounded, one consecutively after the other, Dick
Shand and his deposition were produced first. The judge declared to
himself that Dick's single oath, which could not now be tested by
cross-examination, amounted to nothing. He had been a drunkard and a
pauper,--had descended to the lowest occupation which the country
afforded, and had more than once nearly died from delirium tremens. He
had then come home penniless, and had--produced his story. If such
evidence could avail to rescue a prisoner from his sentence, and to
upset a verdict, what verdict or what sentence could stand? Poor Dick's
sworn testimony, in Judge Bramber's mind, told rather against Caldigate
than for him.

Then came the postmarks,--as to which the Bagwaxian theory was quite
distinct from that as to the postage-stamp. Here the judge found the
facts to be somewhat complicated and mazy. It was long before he could
understand the full purport of the argument used, and even at last he
hardly understood the whole of it. But he could see nothing in it to
justify him in upsetting the verdict;--nothing even to convince him that
the envelope had been fraudulently handled. There was no evidence that
such a dated stamp had not been in use at Sydney on the day named.
Copies from the records kept daily at Sydney,--photographed
copies,--should have been submitted before that argument had been used.

But when it came to the postage-stamp, then he told himself very quickly
that the envelope had been fraudulently handled. The evidence as to the
date of the manufacture of the stamp was conclusive. It could not have
served to pay the postage on a letter from Sydney to Nobble in May 1873,
seeing that it had not then been in existence. And thus any necessity
there might otherwise have been for further inquiry as to the postmarks
was dissipated. The envelope was a declared fraud, and the fraud
required no further proof. That morsel of evidence had been fabricated,
and laid, at any rate, one of the witnesses in the last trial open to a
charge of perjury. So resolving, Judge Bramber pushed the papers away
from him, and began to think the case over in his mind.

There was certainly something in the entire case as it now stood to
excuse Sir John. That was the first line which his thoughts took. An
advocate having clearly seen into a morsel of evidence on the side
opposed to him, and having proved to himself beyond all doubt that it
was maliciously false, must be held to be justified in holding more than
a mere advocate's conviction as to the innocence of his client. Sir John
had of course felt that a foul plot had been contrived. A foul plot no
doubt had been contrived. Had the discovery taken place before the case
had been submitted to the jury, the detection of that plot would
doubtless have saved the prisoner, whether guilty or innocent. So much
Judge Bramber admitted.

But should it necessarily serve to save him now? Before a jury it would
have saved him, whether guilty or innocent. But the law had got hold of
him, and had made him guilty, and the law need not now subject itself to
the normal human weakness of a jury. The case was now in his hands,--in
his, and those of the Secretary, and there need be no weakness. If the
man was innocent, in God's name let him go;--though, as the judge
observed to himself, he had deserved all he had got for his folly and
vice. But this discovered plot by no means proved the man's innocence.
It only proved the determination of certain persons to secure his
conviction, whether by foul means or fair. Then he recapitulated to
himself various cases in which he had known false evidence to have been
added to true, with the object of convincing a jury as to a real fact.

It might well be that this gang of ruffians,--for it was manifest that
there had been such a gang,--finding the envelope addressed by the man
to his wife, had fraudulently,--and as foolishly as fraudulently,--
endeavoured to bolster up their case by the postage-stamp and the
postmark. Looking back at all the facts, remembering that fatal
twenty thousand pounds, remembering that though the postmarks were
forged on that envelope the writing was true, remembering the
acknowledged promise and the combined testimony of the four persons,--he
was inclined to think that something of the kind had been done in this
case. If it were so, though he would fain see the perpetrators of that
fraud on their trial for perjury, their fraud in no way diminished
Caldigate's guilt. That a guilty man should escape out of the hands of
justice by any fraud was wormwood to Judge Bramber. Caldigate was
guilty. The jury had found him so. Could he take upon himself to say
that the finding of the jury was wrong because the prosecuting party had
concocted a fraud which had not been found out before the verdict was
given? Sir John Joram, whom he had known almost as a boy, had 'demanded'
the release of his client. The word stuck in Judge Bramber's throat. The
word had been injudicious The more he thought of the word the more he
thought that the verdict had been a true verdict, in spite of the fraud.
A very honest man was Judge Bramber;--but human.

He almost made up his mind,--but then was obliged to confess to himself
that he had not quite done so. 'It taints the entire evidence with
perjury,' Sir John had said. The woman's evidence was absolutely so
tainted,--was defiled with perjury. And the man Crinkett had been so
near the woman that it was impossible to disconnect them. Who had
concocted the fraud? The woman could hardly have done so without the
man's connivance. It took him all the morning to think the matter out,
and then he had not made up his mind. To reverse the verdict would
certainly be a thorn in his side,--a pernicious thorn,--but one which,
if necessary, he would endure. Thorns, however, such as these are very
persuasive.

At last he determined to have inquiry made as to the woman by the
police. She had laid herself open to an indictment for perjury, and in
making inquiry on that head something further might probably be learned.



Chapter LV

How the Conspirators Throve



There had been some indiscretion among Caldigate's friends from which it
resulted that, while Judge Bramber was considering the matter, and
before the police intelligence of Scotland Yard even had stirred itself
in obedience to the judge's orders, nearly all the circumstances which
had been submitted to the judge had become public. Shand knew all that
Bagwax had done. Bagwax was acquainted with the whole of Dick's
evidence. And Hester down at Folking understood perfectly what had been
revealed by each of those enthusiastic allies. Dick, as we know, had
been staying at Folking, and had made his presence notable throughout
the county. He had succeeded in convincing uncle Babington, and had been
judged to be a false witness by all the Boltons. In that there had
perhaps been no great indiscretion. But when Bagwax opened a
correspondence with Mrs. John Caldigate and explained to her at great
length all the circumstances of the postmark and the postage-stamps, and
when at her instance he got a day's holiday and rushed down to Folking,
then, as he felt himself, he was doing that of which Sir John Joram and
Mr. Jones would not approve. But he could not restrain himself. And why
should he restrain himself when he had lost all hope of his journey to
Sydney? When the prospect of that delight no longer illumined his days,
why should he not enjoy the other delight of communicating his tidings,
--his own discoveries,--to the afflicted lady? Unless he did so it would
appear to her that Joram had done it all, and there would be no
reward,--absolutely none! So he told his tale,--at first by letter and
then with his own natural eloquence. 'Yes, Mrs. Caldigate the postmarks
are difficult. It takes a lifetime of study to understand all the ins
and outs of postmarks. To me it is A B C of course. When I had spent a
week or two looking into it I was sure that impression had never been
made in the way of business Bagwax was sitting out on the lawn at
Folking and the bereaved wife, dressed in black, was near him, holding
in her hand one of the photographed copies of the envelope. 'It's A B C
to me; but I don't wonder you shouldn't see it.'

'I think I do see a good deal,' said Hester.

'But any babe may understand that,' said Bagwax, pressing forward and
putting his forefinger on the obliteration of the postage-stamp. 'You
see the date in the postmark.'

'I know the date very well.'

'We've had it proved that on the date given there, this identical
postage-stamp had not yet been manufactured. The Secretary of State can't
get over that. I'll defy him.'

'Why don't they release him at once then?

'Between you and me, Mrs. Caldigate, I think it's Judge Bramber.'

'He can't want to injure an innocent man.'

'From what I've heard Sir John say, I fancy he doesn't like to have the
verdict upset. But they must do it. I'll defy them to get over that.'
And again he tapped the queen's-head. Then he told the story of his love
for Jemima, and of his engagement. Of course he was praised and
petted,--as indeed he deserved; and thus, though the house at Folking
was a sad house, he enjoyed himself,--as men do when much is made of
them by pretty women.

But the result of all this was that every detail of the story became
known to the public, and was quite common down at Cambridge. The old
squire was urgent with Mr. Seely, asking why it was that when those
things were known an instant order had not come from the Secretary of
State for the liberation of his son. Mr. Seely had not been altogether
pleased at the way in which Sir John had gone to work, and was still
convinced of the guilt of his own client. His answer was therefore
unsatisfactory, and the old squire proclaimed his intention of
proceeding himself to London and demanding an interview with the
Secretary of State. Then the Cambridge newspapers took up the
subject,--generally in the Caldigate interest,--and from thence the
matter was transferred to the metropolitan columns,--which, with one
exception, were strong in favour of such a reversal of the verdict as
could be effected by a pardon from the Queen. The one exception was
very pellucid, very unanswerable, and very cold-blooded. It might
have been written by Judge Bramber himself, but that Judge Bramber
would sooner have cut his hand off than have defiled it by making
public aught that had come before him judicially or officially. But
all Judge Bramber's arguments were there set forth. Dick wished his
father at once to proceed against the paper for libel because the
paper said that his word could not be taken for much. The postmark
theory was exposed to derision. There was no doubt much in the
postage-stamp, but not enough to upset the overwhelming weight of
evidence by which the verdict had been obtained. And so the case
became really public, and the newspapers were bought and read with
the avidity which marks those festive periods in which some popular
criminal is being discussed at every breakfast-table.

Much of this had occurred before the intelligence of Scotland Yard had
been set to work in obedience to Judge Bramber. The papers had been a
day or two in the Home Office, and three or four days in the judge's
hands before he could look at them. To Hester and the old squire at
Folking the incarceration of that injured darling was the one thing in
all the world which now required attention. To redress that terrible
grievance, judges, secretaries, thrones, and parliaments, should have
left their wonted tracks and thought of nothing till it had been
accomplished. But Judge Bramber, in the performance of his duties, was
never hurried; and at the Home Office a delay but of three or four days
amounted to official haste. Thus it came to pass that all that Bagwax
had done and all that Shand had said were known to the public at large
before the intelligence of Scotland Yard was at work,--before anybody
had as yet done anything.

Among the public were Euphemia Smith and Mr. Crinkett,--Adamson
also, and Anna Young, the other witness. Since the trial, this
confraternity had not passed an altogether fraternal life. When the
money had been paid, the woman had insisted on having the half. She,
indeed, had carried the cheque for the amount away from the Jericho
Coffee-house. It had been given into her hands and those of Crinkett
conjointly, and she had secured the document. The amount was payable
to their joint order, and each had felt that it would be better to
divide the spoil in peace. Crinkett had taken his half with many
grumblings, because he had, in truth, arranged the matter and
hitherto paid the expenses. Then the woman had wished to start at
once for Australia, taking the other female with her. But to this
Crinkett had objected. They would certainly, he said, be arrested
for breaking their bail at whatever port they might reach,--and why
should they go, seeing that the money had been paid to them on the
distinct understanding that they were not pledged to abandon the
prosecution. Most unwillingly the woman remained;--but did so fearing
lest worse evil might betide her. Then there had arisen quarrels
about the money between the two females, and between Crinkett and
Adamson. It was in vain that Crinkett showed that, were he to share
with Adamson, there would be very little of the plunder left to him.
Adamson demanded a quarter of the whole, short of a quarter of the
expenses, declaring that were it not paid to him, he would divulge
everything to the police. The woman, who had got her money in her
hand, and who was, in truth, spending it very quickly, would give
back nothing for expenses, unless her expenses in England also were
considered. Nor would she give a shilling to Anna Young, beyond an
allowance of £2 a week, till, as she said, they were both back in the
colony again. But Anna Young did not wish to go back to the colony.
And so they quarrelled till the trial came and was over.

The verdict had been given on the 20th July, and it was about the middle
of September when the newspapers made public all that Shand and Bagwax
between them had said and done. At that time the four conspirators were
still in England. The two men were living a wretched life in London, and
the women were probably not less wretched at Brighton. Mrs. Smith, when
she learned that Dick Shand was alive and in England, immediately
understood her danger,--understood her danger, but did not at all
measure the security which might come to her from the nature of Dick's
character. She would have flown instantly without a word to any one, but
that the other woman watched her day and night. They did not live under
the same roof, nor in similar style. Euphemia Smith wore silk, and
endeavoured to make the best of what female charms her ill mode of life
had left to her; while Young was content with poor apparel and poor
living,--but spent her time in keeping guard on the other. The woman in
silk knew that were she to leave her lodgings for half a day without the
knowledge of the woman in calico, the woman in calico would at once
reveal everything to the police. But when she understood the point which
had been raised and made as to the postmark,--which she did understand
thoroughly,--then she comprehended also her own jeopardy, and hurried up
to London to see Crinkett. And she settled matters with Young. If Young
would go back with her to Australia, everything there should be made
pleasant. Terms were made at the Brighton station. Anna Young was to
receive two thousand pounds in London, and would then remain as
companion with her old mistress.

In London there was a close conference, at first between the two
principals only. Crinkett thought that he was comparatively safe. He had
sworn to nothing about the letter; and though he himself had prepared
the envelope, no proof of his handiwork was forthcoming that he had done
so. But he was quite ready to start again to some distant portion of the
earth's surface,--to almost any distant portion of the earth's
surface,--if she would consent to a joining of purses. 'And who is to
keep the joint purse?' asked Mrs. Smith, not without a touch of grand
irony.

'Me, of course,' said Crinkett. 'A man always must have the money.'

'I'd sooner have fourteen years for perjury, like the Claimant,' said
Mrs. Smith, with a grand resolve that, come what might, she would stick
to her own money.

But at last it was decided. Adamson would not stir a step, but consented
to remain with two thousand pounds, which Crinkett was compelled to pay
him. Crinkett handed him the money within the precincts of one of the
city banks not an hour before the sailing of the Julius Vogel from the
London Docks for Auckland in New Zealand. At that moment both the women
were on board the Julius Vogel, and the gang was so far safe. Crinkett
was there in time, and they were carried safely down the river. New
Zealand had been chosen because there they would be further from their
persecutors than at any other spot they could reach. And the journey
would occupy long, and they were pervaded by an idea that as they had
been hitherto brought in question as to no crime, the officers of
justice would hardly bring them back from so great a distance.

The Julius Vogel touched at Plymouth on her outward voyage. How terribly
inconvenient must be this habit of touching to passengers going from
home, such as Euphemia Smith and Thomas Crinkett! And the wretched
vessel, which had made a quick passage round from the Thames, lay two
days and two nights at Dartmouth, before it went on to Plymouth. Our
friends, of course, did not go on shore. Our friends, who were known as
Mr. Catley and his two widowed sisters, Mrs. Salmon and Mrs. York, kept
themselves very quiet, and were altogether well-behaved. But the women
could not restrain some manifestation of their impatience. Why did not
the vessel start? Why were they to be delayed Then the captain made
known to them that the time for starting had not yet come. Three o'clock
on that day was the time fixed for starting. As the slow moments wore
themselves away, the women trembled, huddled together on the poop of the
vessel; while Crinkett, never letting the pipe out of his mouth, stood
leaning against the taffrail, looking towards the port, gazing across
the waters to see whether anything was coming towards the ship which
might bode evil to his journey. Then there came the bustle preparatory
to starting, and Crinkett thought that he was free, at any rate, for
that journey. But such bustle spreads itself over many minutes. Quarter
of an hour succeeded quarter of an hour, and still they were not off.
The last passenger came on board, and yet they were not off. Then
Crinkett with his sharp eyes saw another boat pushed off from the shore,
and heard a voice declare that the Julius Vogel had received a signal
not to start. Then Crinkett knew that a time of desperate trouble had
come upon him, and he bethought himself what he would do. Were he to
jump overboard, they would simply pick him up. Nor was he quite sure
that he wished to die. The money which he had kept had not been obtained
fraudulently, and would be left to him, he thought, after that term of
imprisonment which it might be his fate to endure. But then, again, it
might be that no such fate was in store for him. He had sworn only to
the marriage and not to the letter. It might still be possible that he
should be acquitted, while the woman was condemned. So he stood
perfectly still, and said not a word to either of his companions as to
the boat which was coming. He could soon see two men in the guise of
policemen, and another who was certainly a policeman, though not in that
guise. He stood there very quiet, and determined that he would tell his
own name and those of the two women at the first question that was asked
him. On the day but one following, Crinkett and Euphemia Smith were
committed in London to take their trial for perjury.

Adamson, when he had read the reports in the newspapers, and had learned
that the postage-stamp had been detected, and that Shand was at home,
also looked about him a little. He talked over the matter at great
length with Crinkett, but he did not tell Crinkett all his own ideas.
Some of them he did make known to Crinkett. He would not himself go to
the colonies with Crinkett, nor would he let Crinkett go till some share
of the plunder had been made over to him. This, after many words, had
been fixed at two thousand pounds; and the money, as we have seen, had
been paid. Crinkett had been careful to make the payment at as late a
moment as possible. He had paid the amount,--very much to his own regret
when he saw that boat coming,--because he was quite sure that Adamson
would at once have denounced him to the police, had he not done so.
Adamson might denounce him in spite of the payment;--but the payment
appeared to him to be his best chance. When he saw the boat coming, he
knew that he had simply thrown away his two thousand pounds.

In truth, he had simply thrown it away. There is no comfort in having
kept one's word honestly, when one would fain have broken it
dishonestly. Adamson, with the large roll of bank-notes still in his
pocket, had gone at once to Scotland Yard and told his story. At that
time all the details had been sent by the judge to the police-office,
and it was understood that a great inquiry was to be made. In the first
place, Crinkett and Euphemia Smith were wanted. Adamson soon made his
bargain. He could tell something,--could certainly tell where Crinkett
and the women were to be found; but he must be assured that any little
peccadillo of which he himself might have been guilty would be
overlooked. The peccadillo on his part had been very small, but he must
be assured. Then he was assured, and told the police at once that they
could stop the two travellers at Plymouth. And of course he told more
than that. There had been no marriage,--no real marriage. He had been
induced to swear that there had been a marriage, because he had regarded
the promise and the cohabitation as making a marriage,--'in heaven.'
So he had expressed himself, and so excused himself. But now his eyes
had been opened to the error of his ways, and he was free to acknowledge
that he had committed perjury. There had been no marriage;--certainly
none at all. He made his deposition, and bound himself down, and
submitted to live under the surveillance of the police till the affair
should be settled. Then he would be able to go where he listed, with two
thousand pounds in his pocket. He was a humble, silent, and generally
obedient man, but in this affair he had managed to thrive better than
any of the others. Anna Young was afterwards allowed to fill the same
position; but she failed in getting any of the money. While the women
were in London together, and as they were starting, Euphemia Smith had
been too strong for her companion. She had declared that she would not
pay the money till they were afloat, and then that she would not pay it
till they had left Plymouth. When the police came on board the Julius
Vogel, Anna Young had as yet received nothing.



Chapter LVI

The Boltons Are Very Firm



While all this was going on, as the general opinion in favour of
Caldigate was becoming stronger every day, when even Judge Bramber had
begun to doubt, the feeling which had always prevailed at Puritan Grange
was growing in intensity and converting itself from a conviction into a
passion. That the wicked bigamist had falsely and fraudulently robbed
her of her daughter was a religion to Mrs. Bolton;--and, as the matter
had proceeded, the old banker had become ever more and more submissive
to his wife's feelings. All the Cambridge Boltons were in accord on this
subject,--who had never before been in accord on any subject. Robert
Bolton, who understood thoroughly each point as it was raised on behalf
of Caldigate, was quite sure that the old squire was spending his money
freely, his own money and his son's, with the view of getting the
verdict set aside. What was so clear as that Dick Shand and Bagwax, and
probably also Smithers from the Stamps and Taxes, were all in the pay of
old Caldigate? At this time the defection of Adamson was not known to
him, but he did know that a strong case was being made with the
Secretary of State. 'If it costs me all I have in the world I will
expose them,' he said up in London to his brother William, the London
barrister.

The barrister was not quite in accord with the other Boltons. He also
had been disposed to think that Dick Shand and Bagwax might have been
bribed by the squire. It was at any rate possible. And the twenty
thousand pounds paid to the accusing witnesses had always stuck in his
throat when he had endeavoured to believe that Caldigate might be
innocent. It seemed to him still that the balance of evidence was
against the man who had taken his sister away from her home. But he was
willing to leave that to the Secretary of State and to the judge. He did
not see why his sister should not have her husband and be restored to
the world,--if Judge Bramber should at last decide that so it ought to
be. No money could bribe Judge Bramber. No undue persuasion could weaken
him. If that Rhadamanthus should at last say that the verdict had been a
wrong verdict, then,--for pity's sake, for love's sake, in the name of
humanity, and for the sake of all Boltons present and to come,--let the
man be considered innocent.

But Robert Bolton was more intent on his purpose, and was a man of
stronger passion. Perhaps some real religious scruple told him that a
woman should not live with a man who was not her true husband,--let any
judge say what he might. But hatred, probably, had more to do with it
than religion. It was he who had first favoured Caldigate's claim on
Hester's hand, and he who had been most grievously deceived. From the
moment in which the conviction had come upon him that Caldigate had even
promised his hand in marriage to Euphemia Smith, he had become
Caldigate's enemy,--his bitter enemy; and now he could not endure the
thought that he should be called upon again to receive Caldigate as his
brother-in-law. Caldigate's guilt was an idea fixed in his mind which no
Secretary of State, no Judge Bramber, no brother could expel.

And so it came to pass that there were hard words between him and his
brother. 'You are wrong,' said William.

'How wrong? You cannot say that you believe him to be innocent.'

'If he receives the Queen's pardon he is to be considered as innocent.'

'Even though you should know him to have been guilty?'

'Well,--yes,' said William, slowly, and perhaps indiscreetly. 'It is a
matter in which a man's guilt or innocence must be held to depend upon
what persons in due authority have declared. As he is now guilty of
bigamy in consequence of the verdict, even though he should never have
committed the offence, so should he be presumed to be innocent, when
that verdict has been set aside by the Queen's pardon on the advice of
her proper officers,--even though he committed the offence.'

'You would have your sister live with a man who has another wife alive?
It comes to that.'

'For all legal purposes he would have no other wife alive.'

'The children would be illegitimate.'

'There you are decidedly wrong,' said the barrister. 'The children would
be legitimate. Even at this moment, without any pardon, the child could
claim and would enter in upon his inheritance.'

'The next of kin would claim,' said the attorney.

'The burden of proving the former marriage would then be on him,' said
the barrister.

'The verdict would be evidence,' said the attorney.

'Certainly,' said the barrister; 'but such evidence would not be worth a
straw after a Queen's pardon, given on the advice of the judge who had
tried the former case. As yet we know not what the judge may say,--we do
not know the facts as they have been expounded to him. But if Caldigate
be regarded as innocent by the world at large, it will be our duty so to
regard him.'

'I will never look on him as Hester's husband,' said the attorney.

'I and Fanny have already made up our minds that we would at once ask
them to come to us for a month,' said the barrister.

'Nothing on earth will induce me to speak to him,' said the attorney.

'Then you will be very cruel to Hester,' said the barrister.

'It is dreadful to me,' said the attorney, 'that you should care so
little for your sister's reputation.' And so they quarrelled. Robert,
leaving the house in great dudgeon, went down on the following morning
to Cambridge.

At Puritan Grange the matter was argued rather by rules of religion than
of law; but as the rules of law were made by those interested to fit
themselves to expediency, so were the rules of religion fitted to
prejudice. No hatred could be more bitter than that which Mrs. Bolton
felt for the man whom she would permit no one to call her son-in-law.
Something as to the postage-stamp and the postmarks was told her; but
with a woman's indomitable obstinacy she closed her mind against all
that,--as indeed did also the banker. 'Is her position in the world to
depend upon a postage-stamp?' said the banker, intending to support his
wife. Then she arose in her wrath, and was very eloquent. 'Her position
in the world!' she said. 'What does it matter? It is her soul! Though
all men and all women should call her a castaway, it would be nothing if
the Lord knew her to be guiltless. But she will be living as an
adulteress with an adulterer. The law has told her that it is so. She
will feel every day and every night that she is a transgressor, and will
vainly seek consolation by telling herself that men have pardoned that
which God has condemned.' And again she broke forth. 'The Queen's
pardon! What right has the Queen to pardon an adulterer who has crept
into the bosom of a family and destroyed all that he found there? What
sense of justice can any Queen have in her bosom who will send such a
one back, to heap sin upon sin, to fasten the bonds of iniquity on the
soul of my child?' Postage-stamps and postmarks and an old envelope! The
triviality of the things as compared with the importance of everlasting
life made her feel that they were unworthy to be even noticed. It did
not occur to her that the presence of a bodkin might be ample evidence
of murder. Post-marks indeed,--when her daughter's everlasting life was
the matter in question! Then they told her of Dick Shand. She, too, had
heard of Dick Shand. He had been a gambler. So she said,--without much
truth. He was known for a drunkard, a spendthrift, a penniless idle
ne'er-do-well who had wandered back home without clothes to his
back;--which was certainly untrue, as the yellow trousers had been
bought at San Francisco;--and now she was told that the hated miscreant
was to be released from prison because such a one as this was ready to
take an oath! She had a knack of looking on such men,--ne'er-do-wells
like Dick Shand and Caldigate,--as human beings who had, as it were,
lost their souls before death, so that it was useless to think of them
otherwise than as already damned. That Caldigate should become a good,
honest, loving husband, or Dick Shand a truth-speaking witness, was to
her thinking much more improbable than that a camel should go through
the eye of a needle. She would press her lips together and grind her
teeth and shake her head when any one about her spoke of a doubt. The
man was in prison, at any rate for two years,--locked up safe for so
much time, as it might be a wild beast which with infinite trouble had
been caged. And now they were talking of undoing the bars and allowing
the monster to gorge himself again with his prey!

'If the Queen were told the truth she would never do it,' she said to
her amazed husband. 'The Queen is a mother and a woman who kneels in
prayer before her Maker. Something should be done, so that the truth may
be made known to her.'

To illuminate all the darkness which was betrayed by this appeal to him
was altogether beyond Mr. Bolton's power. He appreciated the depth of
the darkness. He knew, for instance, that the Queen herself would in
such a matter act so simply in accordance with the advice of some one
else, that the pardon, if given, would not in the least depend on her
Majesty's sentiments. To call it the Queen's pardon was a simple figure
of speech. This was manifest to him, and he was driven to endeavour to
make it manifest to her. She spoke of a petition to be sent direct to
the Queen, and insinuated that Robert Bolton, if he were anything like a
real brother, would force himself into her Majesty's presence. 'It isn't
the Queen,' said her husband.

'It is the Queen. Mercy is the prerogative of the Crown. Even I know as
much as that. And she is to be made to believe that this is mercy!'

'Her Majesty does what her Ministers tell her.'

'But she wouldn't if she was told the truth. I do not for a moment
believe that she would allow such a man as that to be let loose about
the world like a roaring lion if she knew all that you and I know. Mercy
indeed!'

'It won't be meant for mercy, my dear.'

'What then? Do you not know that the man has another wife alive,--a wife
much more suited to him than our poor darling? Nobody would hear my
voice while there was yet time. And so my child, my only one, was taken
away from me by her own father and her own brothers, and no one now will
exert himself to bring her back to her home!' The poor old man had had
but little comfort in his home since his daughter's marriage, and was
now more miserable than ever.

Then there came a letter from Hester to her mother. Since Mrs. Bolton's
last visit to Folking there had been some correspondence maintained. A
few letters had passed, very sad on each side, in which the daughter had
assured the mother of her undying love, and in which the mother had
declared that day and night she prayed for her child. But of Caldigate,
neither on one side nor on the other had mention been made. Now Hester,
who was full of hope, and sick with hope deferred, endeavoured to
convince her mother that the entire charge against her husband had been
proved by new evidence to be false. She recapitulated all the little
details with which the diligent reader must by this time be too well
acquainted. She made quite clear, as she thought, the infamous plot by
which the envelope had been made to give false evidence, and she added
the assurance that certainly before long her dear, dearest, ill-used
husband would be restored to her. Then she went on to implore her
mother's renewed affection both for herself and him and her boy,
promising that bygones should all be bygones; and then she ended by
declaring that though the return of her husband would make her very
happy, she could not be altogether happy unless her parents also should
be restored to her.

To this there came a crushing answer, as follows:---


    'Puritan Grange, _28th September_.'

    'Dearest Hester,--It was unnecessary that you should ask for a
    renewal of your mother's love. There has never been a moment in
    which she has not loved you,--more dearly, I fear, than one human
    creature should ever love another. When I was strongest in opposing
    you, I did so from love. When I watched you in the hall all those
    hours, endeavouring to save you from further contact with the man
    who had injured you, I did it from love. You need not doubt my love.

    'But as to all the rest, I cannot agree to a word that you say. They
    are plotting with false evidence to rescue the man from prison. I
    will not give way to it when my soul tells me that it is untrue. As
    your mother, I can only implore you to come back to me, and to save
    yourself from the further evil which is coming upon you. It may be
    that he will be enabled to escape, and then you will again have to
    live with a husband that is no husband,--unless you will listen to
    your mother's words.

    'You are thinking of the good things of this world,--of a home with
    all luxuries and ease, and of triumph over those who, for the good
    of your soul, have hitherto marred your worldly joys. Is it thus
    that you hope to win that crown of everlasting life which you have
    been taught to regard as the one thing worthy of a Christian's
    struggles? Is it not true that, since that wretched day on which you
    were taken away from me, you have allowed your mind to pass from
    thoughts of eternity to longings after vain joys in this bitter,
    fruitless vale of tears? If that be so, can he who has so encouraged
    you have been good to you? Do you remember David's words; "Some
    trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name
    of the Lord our God"? And then, again; "They are brought down and
    fallen; but we are risen and stand upright." Ask yourself whether
    you have stood upright or have fallen, since you left your father's
    house; whether you have trusted in the Lord your God, or in horses
    and chariots,--that is, in the vain comforts of an easy life? If it
    be so, can it be for your good that you have left your father's
    house? And should you not accept this scourge that has fallen upon
    you as a healing balm from the hands of the Lord?

    'My child, I have no other answer to send you. That I love you till
    my very bowels yearn after you is most true. But I cannot profess to
    believe a lie, or declare that to be good which I know to be evil.

    'May the Lord bless you, and turn your feet aright, and restore you
    to your loving mother,

    'Mary Bolton.'


When Hester read this she was almost crushed. The delay since the new
tidings had come to her had not, in truth, been very great. It was not
yet quite a month since Shand had been at Folking, and a shorter period
since the discoveries of Bagwax had been explained to her. But the days
seemed to her to be very long; and day after day she thought that on
that day at least the news of his promised release would be brought to
her. And now, instead of these news, there came this letter from her
mother, harder almost in its words than any words which had hitherto
been either written or spoken in the matter. Even when all the world
should have declared him innocent,--when the Queen, and the great
officer of State, and that stern judge, should have said that he was
innocent,--even then her cruel mother would refuse to receive him! She
had been invited to ask herself certain questions as to the state of her
soul, and as to the teaching she had received since her marriage. The
subject is one on which there is no possible means of convergence
between persons who have learned to differ. Her mother's allusions to
chariots and horses was to her the enthusiasm of a fanatic. No doubt,
teaching had come to her from her husband, but it had come at the period
of life at which such lessons are easily learned. 'Brought down and
fallen!' she said to herself. 'Yes, we are all brought down and fallen;'
for she had not at all discarded the principles of her religious
faith;--'but a woman will hardly raise herself by being untrue to her
husband.' She, too, yearned for her mother;--but there was never a
moment's doubt in her mind to which she would cling if at last it should
become necessary that one should be cast off.

Mrs. Bolton, when the letter had been despatched, sat brooding over it
in deep regret mixed with deeper anger. She was preparing for herself an
awful tragedy. She must be severed for ever from her daughter, and so
severed with the opinion of all her neighbours against her! But what was
all that if she had done right? Or of what service to her would be the
contrary if she were herself to think,--nay, to know,--that she had done
wrong?



Chapter LVII

Squire Caldigate at the Home Office



When October came no information from the Secretary of State's office
had yet reached Folking, and the two inhabitants there were becoming
almost despondent as well as impatient. There was nobody with whom they
could communicate. Sir John Joram had been obliged to answer a letter
from the squire by saying that, as soon as there was anything to tell
the tidings would assuredly be communicated to him from the Home Office.
The letter had seemed to be cold and almost uncivil; but Sir John had in
truth said all that he could say. To raise hopes which, after all, might
be fallacious, would have been, on his part, a great fault. Nor, in
spite of his bet, was he very sanguine, sharing his friend Honybun's
opinion as to Judge Bramber's obstinacy. And there was a correspondence
between the elder Caldigate and the Home Office, in which the letters
from the squire were long and well argued, whereas the replies, which
always came by return of post, were short and altogether formal. Some
assistant under-secretary would sign his name at the end of three lines,
in which the correspondent was informed that as soon as the matter was
settled the result would be communicated.

Who does not know the sense of aggravated injustice which comes upon a
sufferer when redress for an acknowledged evil is delayed? The wronged
one feels that the whole world must be out of joint in that all the
world does not rise up in indignation. So it was with the old squire,
who watched Hester's cheek becoming paler day by day, and who knew by
her silence that the strong hopes which in his presence had been almost
convictions were gradually giving way to a new despair. Then he would
abuse the Secretary of State, say hard things of the Queen, express his
scorn as to the fatuous absurdities of the English law, and would make
her understand by his anger that he also was losing hope.

During these days preparations were being made for the committal of
Crinkett and Euphemia Smith, nor would Judge Bramber report to the
Secretary till he was convinced that there was sufficient evidence for
their prosecution. It was not much to him that Caldigate should spend
another week in prison. The condition of Hester did not even come
beneath his ken. When he found allusion to it in the papers before him,
he treated it as a matter which should not have been adduced,--in
bringing which under his notice there had been something akin to
contempt of court, as though an endeavour had been made to talk him over
in private. He knew his own character, and was indignant that such an
argument should have been used with himself. He was perhaps a little
more slow,--something was added to his deliberation,--because he was
told that a young wife and an infant child were anxiously expecting the
liberation of the husband and father. It was not as yet clear to Judge
Bramber that the woman had any such husband, or that the child could
claim his father.

At this crisis, when the first weeks in October had dragged themselves
tediously along, Mr. Caldigate, in a fit which was half rage and half
moodiness, took himself off to London. He did not tell Hester that he
was going till the morning on which he started, and then simply assured
her that she should hear from him by every post till he returned.

'You will tell me the truth, father.'

'If I know it myself, I will tell you.'

'But you will conceal nothing?'

'No;--I will conceal nothing. If I find that they are all utterly
unjust, altogether hard-hearted, absolutely indifferent to the wrong
they have done, I will tell you even that.' And thus he went.

He had hardly any fixed purpose in going. He knew that Sir John Joram
was not in London, and that if he were in town he ought not to be made
subject to visits on behalf of clients. To call upon any judge in such a
matter would be altogether out of place, but to call upon such a judge
as Judge Bramber would be very vain indeed. He had in his head some hazy
idea of forcing an answer from the officials in Downing Street; but in
his heart he did not believe that he should be able to get beyond the
messengers. He was one of a class, not very small in numbers, who, from
cultivating within their bosom a certain tendency towards suspicion,
have come to think that all Government servants are idle, dilatory,
supercilious and incompetent. That some of these faults may have existed
among those who took wages from the Crown in the time of George III. is
perhaps true. And the memory of those times has kept alive the
accusation. The vitality of these prejudices calls to mind the story of
the Nottinghamshire farmer who, when told of the return of Charles II.,
asked what had become of Charles I. Naseby, Worcester, and the fatal day
at Whitehall had not yet reached him. Tidings of these things had only
been approaching him during these twelve years. The true character of
the Civil Service is only now approaching the intelligence of those who
are still shaking their heads over the delinquencies of the last
century. But old Mr. Caldigate was a man peculiarly susceptible to such
hard judgments. From the crown down to the black helmet worn by the
policeman who was occasionally to be seen on Folking causeway, he
thought that all such headpieces were coverings for malpractices. The
bishop's wig had, he thought, disappeared as being too ridiculous for
the times; but even for the judge's wig he had no respect. Judge Bramber
was to him simply pretentious, and a Secretary of State no better than
any other man. In this frame of mind how was it probable that he should
do any good at the Home Office?

But in this frame of mind he went to the Home Office, and asked boldly
for the great man. It was then eleven o'clock in the morning and neither
had the great man, nor even any of the deputy great men, as yet made
their appearance. Mr. Caldigate of course fell back upon his old opinion
as to public functionaries, and, mentally, applied opprobrious epithets
to men who, taking the public pay, could not be at their posts an hour
before mid-day. He was not aware that the great man and the first deputy
great man were sitting in the House of Commons at 2 A.M. on that
morning, and that the office generally was driven by the necessity of
things to accommodate itself to Parliamentary exigencies.

Then he was asked his business. How could he explain to a messenger that
his son had been unjustly convicted of bigamy and was now in prison as a
criminal? So he left his card and said that he would call again at two.

At that hour precisely he appeared again and was told that the great man
himself could not see him. Then he nearly boiled over in his wrath,
while the messenger, with all possible courtesy, went on to explain that
one of the deputies was ready to receive him. The deputy was the
Honourable Septimus Brown, of whom it may be said that the Home Office
was so proud that it considered itself to be superior to all other
public offices whatever simply because it possessed Brown. He had been
there for forty years, and for many sessions past had been the salvation
of Parliamentary secretaries and under-secretaries. He was the uncle of
an earl, and the brother-in-law of a duke and a marquis. Not to know
Brown was, at the West End, simply to be unknown. Brooks's was proud of
him; and without him the 'Travellers'' would not have been such a
Travellers' as it is. But Mr. Caldigate, when he was told that Mr.
Brown would see him, almost left the lobby in instant disgust. When he
asked who was Mr. Brown, there came a muttered reply in which
'permanent' was the only word audible to him. He felt that were he to go
away in dudgeon simply because Brown was the name of the man whom he was
called upon to see, he would put himself in the wrong. He would by so
doing close his own mouth against complaint, which, to Mr. Caldigate,
would indeed have been a cutting of his own nose off his own face. With
a scowl, therefore he consented to be taken away to Mr. Brown.

He was, in the first place, somewhat scared by the room into which he
was shown, which was very large and very high. There were two clerks
with Mr. Brown, who vanished, however, as soon as the squire entered the
room. It seemed that Mr. Brown was certainly of some standing in the
office, or he would not have had two arm-chairs and a sofa in his room.
Mr. Caldigate, when he first consented to see Mr. Brown, had expected to
be led into an uncarpeted chamber where there would have been
half-a-dozen other clerks.

'I have your card, Mr. Caldigate,' said the official. 'No doubt you have
called in reference to your son.'

The squire had determined to be very indignant,--very indignant even
with the Secretary of State himself, to whose indifference he attributed
the delay which had occurred;--but almost more than indignant when he
found that he was to be fobbed off with Mr. Brown. But there was
something in the gentleman's voice which checked his indignation. There
was something in Mr. Brown's eye, a mixture of good-humour and
authority, which made him feel that he ought not to be angry with the
gentleman till he was quite sure of the occasion. Mr. Brown was a
handsome hale old man with grey whiskers and greyish hair, with a
well-formed nose and a broad forehead, carefully dressed with a light
waistcoat and a checked linen cravat, wearing a dark-blue frockcoat,
and very well made boots,--an old man, certainly, but who looked as
though old age must naturally be the happiest time of life. When a man's
digestion is thoroughly good and his pockets adequately filled, it
probably is so. Such were the circumstances of Mr. Brown, who, as the
squire looked at him, seemed to partake more of the nature of his nephew
and brothers-in-law than of the Browns generally.

'Yes, sir,' said Mr. Caldigate; 'I have called about my son who, I think
I may undertake to say, has been wrongly condemned, and is now wrongly
retained in prison.'

'You beg all the questions, Mr. Caldigate,' said the permanent
under-secretary, with a smile.

'I maintain that what you call the questions are now so clearly proved
as not to admit of controversy. No one can deny that a conspiracy was
got up against my son.'

'I shall not deny it, certainly, Mr. Caldigate. But in truth I know very
little or nothing about it.' The squire, who had been seated, rose from
his chair,--as in wrath,--about to pour forth his indignation. Why was
he treated in this way,--he who was there on a subject of such tragic
interest to him? When all the prospects, reputation, and condition of
his son were at stake, he was referred to a gentleman who began by
telling him that he knew nothing about the matter! 'If you will sit down
for a moment, Mr. Caldigate, I will explain all that can be explained,'
said Mr. Brown, who was weather-wise in such matters, and had seen the
signs of a coming storm.

'Certainly I will sit down.'

'In such cases as this the Secretary of State never sees those who are
interested. It is not right that he should do so.'

'There might be somebody to do so.'

'But not somebody who has been concerned in the inquiry. The Secretary
of State, if he saw you, could only refuse to impart to you any portion
of the information which he himself may possess, because it cannot be
right that he should give an opinion in the matter while he himself is
in doubt. You may be sure that he will open his mouth to no one except
to those from whom he may seek assistance, till he has been enabled to
advise her Majesty that her Majesty's pardon should be given or
refused.'

'When will that be?'

'I am afraid that I cannot name a day. You, Mr. Caldigate, are, I know,
a gentleman of position in your county and a magistrate. Cannot you
understand how minutely facts must be investigated when a Minister of
the Crown is called upon to accept the responsibility of either
upsetting or confirming the verdict of a jury?'

'The facts are as clear as daylight.'

'If they be so, your son will soon be a free man.'

'If you could feel what his wife suffers in the meantime!'

'Though I did feel it,--though we all felt it; as probably we do, for
though we be officials still we are men,--how should that help us? You
would not have a man pardoned because his wife suffers!'

'Knowing how she suffered, I do not think I should let much grass grow
under my feet while I was making the inquiry.'

'I hope there is no such grass grows here. The truth is, Mr. Caldigate,
that, as a rule, no person coming here on such an errand as yours is
received at all. The Secretary of State cannot, either in his own person
or in that of those who are under him, put himself in communication with
the friends of individuals who are under sentence. I am sure that you,
as a man conversant with the laws, must see the propriety of such a
rule.'

'I think I have a right to express my natural anxiety.'

'I will not deny it. The post is open to you, and though I fear that
our replies may not be considered altogether satisfactory, we do give
our full attention to the letters we receive. When I heard that you had
been here, and had expressed an intention of returning, from respect to
yourself personally I desired that you might be shown into my room. But
I could not have done that had it not been that I myself have not been
concerned in this matter.' Then he got up from his seat, and Mr.
Caldigate found himself compelled to leave the room with thanks rather
than with indignation.

He walked out of the big building into Downing Street, and down the
steps into the park. And going into the gardens, he wandered about them
for more than an hour, sometimes walking slowly along the water-side,
and then seating himself for a while on one of the benches. What must he
say to Hester in the letter which he must write as soon as he was back
at his hotel? He tried to sift some wheat out of what he was pleased to
call the chaff of Mr. Brown's courtesy. Was there not some indication to
be found in it of what the result might be? If there were any such
indication, it was, he thought, certainly adverse to his son. In whose
bosom might be the ultimate decision,--whether in that of the Secretary,
or the judge, or of some experienced clerk in the Secretary's
office,--it was manifest that the facts which had now been proven to the
world at large for many days, had none of the effects on that bosom
which they had on his own. Could it be that Shand was false, that Bagwax
was false, that the postage-stamp was false,--and that he only believed
them to be true? Was it possible that after all his son had married the
woman? He crept back to his hotel in Jermyn Street, and there he wrote
his letter.

'I think I shall be home to-morrow, but I will not say so for certain. I
have been at the Home Office, but they would tell me nothing. A man was
very civil to me, but explained that he was civil only because he knew
nothing about the case. I think I shall call on Mr. Bagwax at the
Post-office to-morrow, and after that return to Folking. Send in for the
day-mail letters, and then you will hear from me again if I mean to
stay.'

At ten o'clock on the following day he was at the Post-office, and there
he found Bagwax prepared to take his seat exactly at that hour.
Thereupon he resolved, with true radical impetuosity, that Bagwax was a
much better public servant than Mr. Brown. 'Well, Mr. Caldigate,--so
we've got it all clear at last,' said Bagwax.

There was a triumph in the tone of the clerk's voice which was not
intelligible to the despondent old squire. 'It is not at all clear to
me,' he said.

'Of course you've heard?'

'Heard what? I know all about the postage-stamp, of course.'

'If Secretaries of State and judges of the Court of Queen's Bench only
had their wits about them, the postage-stamp ought to have been quite
sufficient,' said Bagwax, sententiously.

'What more is there?'

'For the sake of letting the world know what can be done in our
department, it is a pity that there should be anything more.'

'But there is something. For God's sake tell me, Mr. Bagwax.'

'You haven't heard that they caught Crinkett just as he was leaving
Plymouth?'

'Not a word.'

'And the woman. They've got the lot of 'em, Mr. Caldigate. Adamson and
the other woman have agreed to give evidence, and are to be let go.'

'When did you hear it?'

'Well;--it is in the "Daily Tell-tale." But I knew it last night,--from
a particular source. I have been a good deal thrown in with Scotland
Yard since this began, Mr. Caldigate, and, of course, I hear things.'
Then it occurred to the squire that perhaps he had flown a little too
high in going at once to the Home Office. They might have told him more,
perhaps, in Scotland Yard. 'But it's all true. The depositions have
already been made. Adamson and Young have sworn that they were present
at no marriage. Crinkett they say, means to plead guilty; but the woman
sticks to it like wax.'

The squire had written a letter by the day-mail to say that he would
remain in London that further day. He now wrote again, at the
Post-office, telling Hester all that Bagwax had told him, and declaring
his purpose of going at once to Scotland Yard.

If this story were true, then certainly his son would soon be liberated.



Chapter LVIII

Mr. Smirkie Is Ill-used



It was on a Tuesday that Mr. Caldigate made his visit to the Home
Office, and on the Thursday he returned to Cambridge. On the platform
whom should he meet but his brother-in-law Squire Babington, who had
come into Cambridge that morning intent on hearing something further
about his nephew. He, too, had read a paragraph in his newspaper, 'The
Snapper,' as to Crinkett and Euphemia Smith.

'Thomas Crinkett, and Euphemia Smith, who gave evidence against Mr. John
Caldigate in the well-known trial at the last Cambridge assizes, have
been arrested at Plymouth just as they were about to leave the country
for New Zealand. These are the persons to whom it was proved that
Caldigate had paid the enormous sum of twenty thousand pounds a few days
before the trial. It is alleged that they are to be indicted for
perjury. If this be true, it implies the innocence of Mr. Caldigate,
who, as our readers will remember, was convicted of bigamy. There will
be much in the whole case for Mr. Caldigate to regret, but nothing so
much as the loss of that very serious sum of money. It would be idle to
deny that it was regarded by the jury, and the judge, and the public as
a bribe to the witnesses. Why it should have been paid will now probably
remain for ever a mystery.'

The squire read this over three times before he could quite
understand the gist of it, and at last perceived,--or thought that
he perceived,--that if this were true the innocence of his nephew
was incontestable. But Julia, who seemed to prefer the paternal
mansion at Babington to her own peculiar comforts and privileges at
Plum-cum-Pippins, declared that she didn't believe a word of it; and
aunt Polly, whose animosity to her nephew had somewhat subsided,
was not quite inclined to accept the statement at once. Aunt Polly
expressed an opinion that newspapers were only born to lie, but added
that had she seen the news anywhere else she would not have been a bit
surprised. The squire was prepared to swear by the tidings. If such a
thing was not to be put into a newspaper, where was it to be put? Aunt
Polly could not answer this question, but assisted in persuading her
husband to go into Cambridge for further information.

'I hope this is true,' said the Suffolk squire, tendering his hand
cordially to his brother-in-law. He was a man who could throw all his
heart into an internecine quarrel on a Monday and forget the
circumstance altogether on the Tuesday.

'Of what are you speaking?' asked the squire of Folking, with his usual
placid look, partly indifferent and partly sarcastic, covering so much
contempt of which the squire from Suffolk was able to read nothing at
all.

'About the man and the woman, the witnesses who are to be put in prison
at Plymouth, and who now say just the contrary to what they said
before.'

'I do not think that can be true,' said Mr. Caldigate.

'Then you haven't seen the "Snapper"?' asked Mr. Babington, dragging the
paper out of his pocket. 'Look at that.'

They were now in a cab together, going towards the town, and Mr.
Caldigate did not find it convenient to read the paragraph. But of
course he knew the contents. 'It is quite true,' he said, 'that the
persons you allude to have been arrested, and that they are up in
London. They will, I presume, be tried for perjury.'

'It is true?'

'There is no doubt of it.'

'And the party are splitting against each other?' asked Mr. Babington
eagerly.

'Two of them have already sworn that what they swore before was false.'

'Then why don't they let him out?'

'Why not, indeed?' said Mr. Caldigate.

'I should have thought they wouldn't have lost a moment in such a case.
They've got one of the best fellows in the world at the Home Office. His
name is Brown. If you could have seen Brown I'm sure he wouldn't have
let them delay a minute. The Home Office has the reputation of being so
very quick.'

In answer to this the squire of Folking only shook his head. He would
not even condescend to say that he had seen Brown, and certainly not to
explain that Brown had seemed to him to be the most absurdly-cautious
and courteously-dilatory man that he had ever met in his life. In
Trumpington Street they parted, Mr. Caldigate proceeding at once to
Folking, and Mr. Babington going to the office of Mr. Seely the
attorney. 'He'll be out in a day or two,' said the man of Suffolk, again
shaking his brother-in-law's hand; 'and do you tell him from me that I
hope it won't be long before we see him at Babington. I've been true to
him almost from the first, and his aunt has come over now. There is no
one against him but Julia, and these are things of course which young
women won't forget.'

Mr. Caldigate almost became genial as he accepted this assurance,
telling himself that his brother magistrate was as honest as he was
silly.

Mr. Babington, who was well known in Cambridge, asked many questions of
many persons. From Mr. Seely he heard but little. Mr. Seely had heard
of the arrest made at Plymouth, but did not quite know what to think
about it. If it was all square, then he supposed his client must after
all be innocent. But this went altogether against the grain with Mr.
Seely. 'If it be so, Mr. Babington,' he said, 'I shall always think
the paying away of that twenty thousand pounds the greatest miracle
I ever came across.' Nevertheless, Mr. Seely did believe that the two
witnesses had been arrested on a charge of perjury.

The squire then went to the governor of the jail, who had been connected
with him many years as a county magistrate. The governor had heard
nothing, received no information as to his prisoner from any one in
authority; but quite believed the story as to Crinkett and the woman.
'Perhaps you had better not see him, Mr. Babington,' said the governor,
'as he has heard nothing as yet of all this. It would not be right to
tell him till we know what it will come to.' Assenting to this, Mr.
Babington took his leave with the conviction on his mind that the
governor was quite prepared to receive an order for the liberation of
his prisoner.

He did not dare to go to Robert Bolton's office, but he did call at the
bank. 'We have heard nothing about it, Mr. Babington,' said the old
clerk over the counter. But then the old clerk added in a whisper, 'None
of the family take to the news, sir; but everybody else seems to think
there is a great deal in it. If he didn't marry her I suppose he ought
to be let out.'

'I should think he ought,' said the squire, indignantly as he left the
bank.

Thus fortified by what he considered to be the general voice of
Cambridge, he returned the same evening to Babington. Cambridge,
including Mr. Caldigate, had been unanimous in believing the report. And
if the report were true, then, certainly, was his nephew innocent. As he
thought of this, some appropriate idea of the injustice of the evil done
to the man and to the man's wife came upon him. If such were the
treatment to which he and she had been subjected,--if he, innocent, had
been torn away from her and sent to the common jail, and if she,
certainly innocent, had been wrongly deprived for a time of the name
which he had honestly given her,--then would it not have been right to
open to her the hearts and the doors at Babington during the period of
her great distress? As he thought of this he was so melted by ruth that
a tear came into each of his old eyes. Then he remembered the attempt
which had been made to catch this man for Julia--as to which he
certainly had been innocent,--and his daughter's continued wrath. That a
woman should be wrathful in such a matter was natural to him. He
conceived that it behoved a woman to be weak, irascible, affectionate,
irrational, and soft-hearted. When Julia would be loud in condemnation
of her cousin, and would pretend to commiserate the woes of the poor
wife who had been left in Australia, though he knew the source of these
feelings, he could not be in the least angry with her. But that was not
at all the state of his mind in reference to his son-in-law Augustus
Smir