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Title: Mr. Scarborough's Family
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.

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MR. SCARBOROUGH'S FAMILY

BY ANTHONY TROLLOPE

1883



PART I.



CHAPTER I.

MR. SCARBOROUGH.


It will be necessary, for the purpose of my story, that I shall go back
more than once from the point at which it begins, so that I may explain
with the least amount of awkwardness the things as they occurred, which
led up to the incidents that I am about to tell; and I may as well say
that these first four chapters of the book--though they may be thought
to be the most interesting of them all by those who look to incidents
for their interest in a tale--are in this way only preliminary.

The world has not yet forgotten the intensity of the feeling which
existed when old Mr. Scarborough declared that his well-known eldest son
was not legitimate. Mr. Scarborough himself had not been well known in
early life. He had been the only son of a squire in Staffordshire over
whose grounds a town had been built and pottery-works established. In
this way a property which had not originally been extensive had been
greatly increased in value, and Mr. Scarborough, when he came into
possession, had found himself to be a rich man. He had then gone abroad,
and had there married an English lady. After the lapse of some years he
had returned to Tretton Park, as his place was named, and there had lost
his wife. He had come back with two sons, Mountjoy and Augustus, and
there, at Tretton, he had lived, spending, however, a considerable
portion of each year in chambers in the Albany. He was a man who,
through many years, had had his own circle of friends, but, as I have
said before, he was not much known in the world. He was luxurious and
self-indulgent, and altogether indifferent to the opinion of those
around him. But he was affectionate to his children, and anxious above
all things for their welfare, or rather happiness. Some marvellous
stories were told as to his income, which arose chiefly from the
Tretton delf-works and from the town of Tretton, which had been built
chiefly on his very park, in consequence of the nature of the clay and
the quality of the water. As a fact, the original four thousand a year,
to which his father had been born, had grown to twenty thousand by
nature of the operations which had taken place. But the whole of this,
whether four thousand or twenty thousand, was strictly entailed, and Mr.
Scarborough had been very anxious, since his second son was born, to
create for him also something which might amount to opulence. But they
who knew him best knew that of all things he hated most the entail.

The boys were both educated at Eton, and the elder went into the Guards,
having been allowed an intermediate year in order to learn languages on
the Continent. He had then become a cornet in the Coldstreams, and had,
from that time, lived a life of reckless expenditure. His brother
Augustus had in the mean time gone to Cambridge and become a barrister.
He had been called but two years when the story was made known of his
father's singular assertion. As from that time it became unnecessary for
him to practise his profession, no more was heard of him as a lawyer. But
they who had known the young man in the chambers of that great luminary,
Mr. Rugby, declared that a very eminent advocate was now spoiled by a
freak of fortune.

Of his brother Mountjoy,--or Captain Scarborough, as he came to be known
at an early period of his life,--the stories which were told in the world
at large were much too remarkable to be altogether true. But it was only
too true that he lived as though the wealth at his command were without
limit. For some few years his father bore with him patiently, doubling
his allowance, and paying his bills for him again and again. He made up
his mind,--with many regrets,--that enough had been done for his younger
son, who would surely by his intellect be able to do much for himself.
But then it became necessary to encroach on the funds already put by,
and at last there came the final blow, when he discovered that Captain
Scarborough had raised large sums on post-obits from the Jews. The Jews
simply requested the father to pay the money or some portion of it,
which if at once paid would satisfy them, explaining to him that
otherwise the whole property would at his death fall into their hands.
It need not here be explained how, through one sad year, these
negotiations were prolonged; but at last there came a time in which Mr.
Scarborough, sitting in his chambers in the Albany, boldly declared his
purpose. He sent for his own lawyer, Mr. Grey, and greatly astonished
that gentleman by declaring to him that Captain Scarborough was
illegitimate.

At first Mr. Grey refused altogether to believe the assertion made to
him. He had been very conversant with the affairs of the family, and had
even dealt with marriage settlements on behalf of the lady in question.
He knew Mr. Scarborough well,--or rather had not known him, but had heard
much of him,--and therefore suspected him. Mr. Grey was a thoroughly
respectable man, and Mr. Scarborough, though upright and honorable in
many dealings, had not been thoroughly respectable. He had lived with
his wife off and on, as people say. Though he had saved much of his
money for the purpose above described, he had also spent much of it in a
manner which did not approve itself to Mr. Grey. Mr. Grey had thoroughly
disliked the eldest son, and had, in fact, been afraid of him. The
captain, in the few interviews that had been necessary between them, had
attempted to domineer over the lawyer, till there had at last sprung up
a quarrel, in which, to tell the truth, the father took the part of the
son. Mr. Grey had for a while been so offended as to find it necessary
to desire Mr. Scarborough to employ another lawyer. He had not, however,
done so, and the breach had never become absolute. In these
circumstances Mr. Scarborough had sent for Mr. Grey to come to him at
the Albany, and had there, from his bed, declared that his eldest son
was illegitimate. Mr. Grey had at first refused to accept the assertion
as being worth anything, and had by no means confined himself to polite
language in expressing his belief. "I would much rather have nothing to
do with it," he had said when Mr. Scarborough insisted on the truth of
his statement.

"But the evidence is all here," said Mr. Scarborough, laying his hand on
a small bundle of papers. "The difficulty would have been, and the
danger, in causing Mountjoy to have been accepted in his brother's
place. There can be no doubt that I was not married till after Mountjoy
was born."

Mr. Grey's curiosity was roused, and he began to ask questions. Why, in
the first place, had Mr. Scarborough behaved so dishonestly? Why had he
originally not married his wife? And then, why had he married her? If,
as he said, the proofs were so easy, how had he dared to act so directly
in opposition to the laws of his country? Why, indeed, had he been
through the whole of his life so bad a man,--so bad to the woman who had
borne his name, so bad to the son whom he called illegitimate, and so
bad also to the other son whom he now intended to restore to his
position, solely with the view of defrauding the captain's creditors?

In answer to this Mr. Scarborough, though he was suffering much at the
time,--so much as to be considered near to his death,--had replied with
the most perfect good-humor.

He had done very well, he thought, by his wife, whom he had married
after she had consented to live with him on other terms. He had done
very well by his elder son, for whom he had intended the entire
property. He had done well by his second son, for whom he had saved his
money. It was now his first duty to save the property. He regarded
himself as being altogether unselfish and virtuous from his point of
view.

When Mr. Grey had spoken about the laws of his country he had simply
smiled, though he was expecting a grievous operation on the following
day. As for marriage, he had no great respect for it, except as a mode
of enabling men and women to live together comfortably. As for the
"outraged laws of his country," of which Mr. Grey spoke much, he did not
care a straw for such outrages--nor, indeed, for the expressed opinion
of mankind as to his conduct. He was very soon about to leave the world,
and meant to do the best he could for his son Augustus. The other son
was past all hope. He was hardly angry with his eldest son, who had
undoubtedly given him cause for just anger. His apparent motives in
telling the truth about him at last were rather those of defrauding the
Jews, who had expressed themselves to him with brutal audacity, than
that of punishing the one son or doing justice to the other; but even of
them he spoke with a cynical good-humor, triumphing in his idea of
thoroughly getting the better of them.

"I am consoled, Mr. Grey," he said, "when I think how probably it might
all have been discovered after my death. I should have destroyed all
these," and he laid his hands upon the papers, "but still there might
have been discovery."

Mr. Grey could not but think that during the last twenty-four years,--the
period which had elapsed since the birth of the younger son,--no idea of
such a truth had occurred to himself.

He did at last consent to take the papers in his hands, and to read them
through with care. He took them away with that promise, and with an
assurance that he would bring them back on the day but one
following--should Mr. Scarborough then be alive.

Mr. Scarborough, who seemed at that moment to have much life in him,
insisted on this proviso:--

"The surgeon is to be here to-morrow, you know, and his coming may mean
a great deal. You will have the papers, which are quite clear, and will
know what to do. I shall see Mountjoy myself this evening. I suppose he
will have the grace to come, as he does not know what he is coming for."

Then the father smiled again, and the lawyer went.

Mr. Scarborough, though he was very strong of heart, did have some
misgivings as the time came at which he was to see his son. The
communication which he had to make was certainly one of vital
importance. His son had some time since instigated him to come to terms
with the "family creditors," as the captain boldly called them.

"Seeing that I never owed a shilling in my life, or my father before me,
it is odd that I should have family creditors," the father had answered.

"The property has, then, at any rate," the son had said, with a scowl.

But that was now twelve months since, before mankind and the Jews among
them had heard of Mr. Scarborough's illness. Now, there could be no
question of dealing on favorable terms with these gentlemen. Mr.
Scarborough was, therefore, aware that the evil thing which he was about
to say to his son would have lost its extreme bitterness. It did not
occur to him that, in making such a revelation as to his son's mother he
would inflict any great grief on his son's heart. To be illegitimate
would be, he thought, nothing unless illegitimacy carried with it loss
of property. He hardly gave weight enough to the feeling that the eldest
son was the eldest son, and too little to the triumph which was present
to his own mind in saving the property for one of the family. Augustus
was but the captain's brother, but he was the old squire's son. The two
brothers had hitherto lived together on fairly good terms, for the
younger had been able to lend money to the elder, and the elder had
found his brother neither severe or exacting. How it might be between
them when their relations with each other should be altogether changed,
Mr. Scarborough did not trouble himself to inquire. The captain by his
own reckless folly had lost his money, had lost all that fortune would
have given him as his father's eldest son. After having done so, what
could it matter to him whether he were legitimate or illegitimate? His
brother, as possessor of Tretton Park, would be able to do much more
for him than could be expected from a professional man working for his
bread.

Mr. Scarborough had looked at the matter all round for the space of two
years, and during the latter year had slowly resolved on his line of
action. He had had no scruple in passing off his eldest-born as
legitimate, and now would have none in declaring the truth to the world.
What scruple need he have, seeing that he was so soon about to leave the
world?

As to what took place at that interview between the father and the son
very much was said among the clubs, and in societies to which Captain
Mountjoy Scarborough was well known; but very little of absolute truth
was ever revealed. It was known that Captain Scarborough left the room
under the combined authority of apothecaries and servants, and that the
old man had fainted from the effects of the interview. He had
undoubtedly told the son of the simple facts as he had declared them to
Mr. Grey, but had thought it to be unnecessary to confirm his statement
by any proof. Indeed, the proofs, such as they were,--the written
testimony, that is,--were at that moment in the hands of Mr. Grey, and to
Mr. Grey the father had at last referred the son. But the son had
absolutely refused to believe for a moment in the story, and had
declared that his father and Mr. Grey had conspired together to rob him
of his inheritance and good name. The interview was at last over, and
Mr. Scarborough, at one moment fainting, and in the next suffering the
extremest agony, was left alone with his thoughts.

Captain Scarborough, when he left his father's rooms, and found himself
going out from the Albany into Piccadilly, was an infuriated but at the
same time a most wretched man. He did believe that a conspiracy had been
hatched, and he was resolved to do his best to defeat it, let the effect
be what it might on the property; but yet there was a strong feeling in
his breast that the fraud would be successful. No man could possibly be
environed by worse circumstances as to his own condition. He owed he
knew not what amount of money to several creditors; but then he owed,
which troubled him more, gambling debts, which he could only pay by his
brother's assistance. And now, as he thought of it, he felt convinced
that his brother must be joined with his father and the lawyer in this
conspiracy. He felt, also, that he could meet neither Mr. Grey nor his
brother without personally attacking them. All the world might perish,
but he, with his last breath, would declare himself to be Captain
Mountjoy Scarborough, of Tretton Park; and though he knew at the moment
that he must perish,--as regarded social life among his comrades,--unless
he could raise five hundred pounds from his brother, yet he felt that,
were he to meet his brother, he could not but fly at his throat and
accuse him of the basest villany.

At that moment, at the corner of Bond Street, he did meet his brother.

"What is this?" said he, fiercely.

"What is what?" said Augustus, without any fierceness. "What is up now?"

"I have just come from my father."

"And how is the governor? If I were he I should be in a most awful funk.
I should hardly be able to think of anything but that man who is to come
to-morrow with his knives. But he takes it all as cool as a cucumber."

There was something in this which at once shook, though it did not
remove, the captain's belief, and he said something as to the property.
Then there came questions and answers, in which the captain did not
reveal the story which had been told to him, but the barrister did
assert that he had as yet heard nothing as to anything of importance. As
to Tretton, the captain believed his brother's manner rather than his
words. In fact, the barrister had heard nothing as yet of what was to be
done on his behalf.

The interview ended in the two men going and dining at a club, where the
captain told the whole story of his father's imagined iniquity.

Augustus received the tale almost in silence. In reply to his brother's
authoritative, domineering speeches he said nothing. To him it was all
new, but to him, also, it seemed certainly to be untrue. He did not at
all bring himself to believe that Mr. Grey was in the conspiracy, but he
had no scruple of paternal regard to make him feel that this father
would not concoct such a scheme simply because he was his father. It
would be a saving of the spoil from the Amalekites, and of this idea he
did give a hardly-expressed hint to his brother.

"By George," said the captain, "nothing of the kind shall be done with
my consent."

"Why, no," the barrister had answered, "I suppose that neither your
consent nor mine is to be asked; and it seems as though it were a farce
ordered to be played over the poor governor's grave. He has prepared a
romance, as to the truth or falsehood of which neither you nor I can
possibly be called as witnesses."

It was clear to the captain that his brother had thought that the plot
had been prepared by their father in anticipation of his own death.
Nevertheless, by the younger brother's assistance, the much-needed sum
of money was found for the supply of the elder's immediate wants.

The next day was the day of terror, and nothing more was heard, either
then or for the following week, of the old gentleman's scheme. In two
days it was understood that his death might be hourly expected, but on
the third it was thought that he might "pull through," as his younger
son filially expressed himself. He was constantly with his father, but
not a word passed his lips as to the property. The elder son kept
himself gloomily apart, and indeed, during a part of the next week was
out of London. Augustus Scarborough did call on Mr. Grey, but only
learned from him that it was, at any rate, true that the story had been
told by his father. Mr. Grey refused to make any farther communication,
simply saying that he would as yet express no opinion.

"For myself," said Augustus, as he left the attorney's chambers, "I can
only profess myself so much astonished as to have no opinion. I suppose
I must simply wait and see what Fortune intends to do with me."

At the end of a fortnight Mr. Scarborough had so far recovered his
strength as to be able to be moved down to Tretton, and thither he went.
It was not many days after that "the world" was first informed that
Captain Scarborough was not his father's heir. "The world" received the
information with a great deal of expressed surprise and inward
satisfaction,--satisfaction that the money-lenders should be done out of
their money; that a professed gambler like Captain Scarborough should
suddenly become an illegitimate nobody; and, more interesting still,
that a very wealthy and well-conditioned, if not actually respectable,
squire should have proved himself to be a most brazen-faced rascal. All
of these were matters which gave extreme delight to the world at large.
At first there came little paragraphs without any name, and then, some
hours afterward, the names became known to the quidnuncs, and in a short
space of time were in possession of the very gentry who found themselves
defrauded in this singular manner.

It is not necessary here that I should recapitulate all the
circumstances of the original fraud, for a gross fraud had been
perpetrated. After the perpetration of that fraud papers had been
prepared by Mr. Scarborough himself with a great deal of ingenuity, and
the matter had been so arranged that,--but for his own declaration,--his
eldest son would undoubtedly have inherited the property. Now there was
no measure to the clamor and the uproar raised by the money-lenders. Mr.
Grey's outer office was besieged, but his clerk simply stated that the
facts would be proved on Mr. Scarborough's death as clearly as it might
be possible to prove them. The curses uttered against the old squire
were bitter and deep, but during this time he was still supposed to be
lying at death's door, and did not, in truth, himself expect to live
many days. The creditors, of course, believed that the story was a
fiction. None of them were enabled to see Captain Scarborough, who,
after a short period, disappeared altogether from the scene. But they
were, one and all, convinced that the matter had been arranged between
him and his father.

There was one from whom better things were expected than to advance
money on post-obits to a gambler at a rate by which he was to be repaid
one hundred pounds for every forty pounds, on the death of a gentleman
who was then supposed to be dying. For it was proved afterward that this
Mr. Tyrrwhit had made most minute inquiries among the old squire's
servants as to the state of their master's health. He had supplied forty
thousand pounds, for which he was to receive one hundred thousand pounds
when the squire died, alleging that he should have difficulty in
recovering the money. But he had collected the sum so advanced on better
terms among his friends, and had become conspicuously odious in the
matter.

In about a month's time it was generally believed that Mr. Scarborough
had so managed matters that his scheme would be successful. A struggle
was made to bring the matter at once into the law courts, but the
attempt for the moment failed. It was said that the squire down at
Tretton was too ill, but that proceedings would be taken as soon as he
was able to bear them. Rumors were afloat that he would be taken into
custody, and it was even asserted that two policemen were in the house
at Tretton. But it was soon known that no policemen were there, and that
the squire was free to go whither he would, or rather whither he could.
In fact, though the will to punish him, and even to arrest him, was
there, no one had the power to do him an injury.

It was then declared that he had in no sense broken the law,--that no
evil act of his could be proved,--that though he had wished his eldest
son to inherit the property wrongfully, he had only wished it; and that
he had now simply put his wishes into unison with the law, and had
undone the evil which he had hitherto only contemplated. Indeed, the
world at large rather sympathized with the squire when Mr. Tyrrwhit's
dealings became known, for it was supposed by many that Mr. Tyrrwhit was
to have become the sole owner of Tretton.

But the creditors were still loud, and still envenomed. They and their
emissaries hung about Tretton and demanded to know where was the
captain. Of the captain's whereabouts his father knew nothing, not even
whether he was still alive; for the captain had actually disappeared
from the world, and his creditors could obtain no tidings respecting
him. At this period, and for long afterward, they imagined that he and
his father were in league together, and were determined to try at law
the question as to the legitimacy of his birth as soon as the old squire
should be dead. But the old squire did not die. Though his life was
supposed to be most precarious he still continued to live, and became
even stronger. But he remained shut up at Tretton, and utterly refused
to see any emissary of any creditor. To give Mr. Tyrrwhit his due, it
must be acknowledged that he personally sent no emissaries, having
contented himself with putting the business into the hands of a very
sharp attorney. But there were emissaries from others, who after a while
were excluded altogether from the park.

Here Mr. Scarborough continued to live, coming out on to the lawn in his
easy-chair, and there smoking his cigar and reading his French novel
through the hot July days. To tell the truth, he cared very little for
the emissaries, excepting so far as they had been allowed to interfere
with his own personal comfort. In these days he had down with him two or
three friends from London, who were good enough to make up for him a
whist-table in the country; but he found the chief interest in his life
in the occasional visits of his younger son.

"I look upon Mountjoy as utterly gone," he said.

"But he has utterly gone," his other son replied.

"As to that I care nothing. I do not believe that a man can be murdered
without leaving a trace of his murder. A man cannot even throw himself
overboard without being missed. I know nothing of his whereabouts,--
nothing at all. But I must say that his absence is a relief to me.
The only comfort left to me in this world is in your presence, and
in those material good things which I am still able to enjoy."

This assertion as to his ignorance about his eldest son the squire
repeated again and again to his chosen heir, feeling it was only
probable that Augustus might participate in the belief which he knew to
be only too common. There was, no doubt, an idea prevalent that the
squire and the captain were in league together to cheat the creditors,
and that the squire, who in these days received much undeserved credit
for Machiavellian astuteness, knew more than any one else respecting his
eldest son's affairs. But, in truth, he at first knew nothing, and in
making these assurances to his younger son was altogether wasting his
breath, for his younger son knew everything.



CHAPTER II.

FLORENCE MOUNTJOY.


Mr. Scarborough had a niece, one Florence Mountjoy, to whom it had been
intended that Captain Scarborough should be married. There had been no
considerations of money when the intention had been first formed, for
the lady was possessed of no more than ten thousand pounds, which would
have been as nothing to the prospects of the captain when the idea was
first entertained. But Mr. Scarborough was fond of people who belonged
to him. In this way he had been much attached to his late
brother-in-law, General Mountjoy, and had perceived that his niece was
beautiful and graceful, and was in every way desirable, as one who might
be made in part thus to belong to himself. Florence herself, when the
idea of the marriage was first suggested to her by her mother, was only
eighteen, and received it with awe rather than with pleasure or
abhorrence. To her her cousin Mountjoy had always been a most
magnificent personage. He was only seven years her senior, but he had
early in life assumed the manners, as he had also done the vices, of
mature age, and loomed large in the girl's eyes as a man of undoubted
wealth and fashion. At that period, three years antecedent to his
father's declaration, he had no doubt been much in debt, but his debts
had not been generally known, and his father had still thought that a
marriage with his cousin might serve to settle him--to use the phrase
which was common with himself. From that day to this the courtship had
gone on, and the squire had taught himself to believe that the two
cousins were all but engaged to each other. He had so considered it, at
any rate, for two years, till during the last final year he had resolved
to throw the captain overboard. And even during this year there had been
periods of hope, for he had not finally made up his mind till but a
short time before he had put it in practice. No doubt he was fond of his
niece in accordance with his own capability for fondness. He would
caress her and stroke her hair, and took delight in having her near to
him. And of true love for such a girl his heart was quite capable. He
was a good-natured, fearless, but not a selfish man, to whom the fate in
life of this poor girl was a matter of real concern.

And his eldest son, who was by no means good-natured, had something of
the same nature. He did love truly,--after his own fashion of loving. He
would have married his cousin at any moment, with or without her ten
thousand pounds,--for of all human beings he was the most reckless. And
yet in his breast was present a feeling of honor of which his father
knew nothing. When it was explained to him that his mother's fair name
was to be aspersed,--a mother whom he could but faintly remember,--the
threat did bring with it its own peculiar agony. But of this the squire
neither felt or knew anything. The lady had long been dead, and could be
none the better or the worse for aught that could be said of her. To the
captain it was not so, and it was preferable to him to believe his
father to be dishonest than his mother. He, at any rate, was in truth in
love with his cousin Florence, and when the story was told to him one of
its first effects was the bearing which it would have upon her mind.

It has been said that within two or three days after the communication
he had left London. He had done so in order that he might at once go
down to Cheltenham and see his cousin. There Miss Mountjoy lived, with
her mother.

The time had been when Florence Mountjoy had been proud of her cousin,
and, to tell the truth of her feelings, though she had never loved him,
she had almost done so. Rumors had made their way through even to her
condition of life, and she in her innocence had gradually been taught to
believe that Captain Scarborough was not a man whom she could be safe in
loving. And there had, perhaps, come another as to whom her feelings
were different. She had, no doubt, at first thought that she would be
willing to become her cousin's wife, but she had never said as much
herself. And now both her heart and mind were set against him.

Captain Scarborough, as he went down to Cheltenham, turned the matter
over in his mind, thinking within himself how best he might carry out
his project. His intention was to obtain from his cousin an assurance of
her love, and a promise that it should not be shaken by any stories
which his father might tell respecting him. For this purpose he he must
make known to her the story his father had told him, and his own
absolute disbelief in it. Much else must be confided to her. He must
acknowledge in part his own debts, and must explain that his father had
taken this course in order to defraud the creditors. All this would be
very difficult; but he must trust in her innocence and generosity. He
thought that the condition of his affairs might be so represented that
the story should tend rather to win her heart toward him than to turn it
away. Her mother had hitherto always been in his favor, and he had, in
fact, been received almost as an Apollo in the house at Cheltenham.

"Florence," he said, "I must see you alone for a few minutes. I know
that your mother will trust you with me." This was spoken immediately on
his arrival, and Mrs. Mountjoy at once left the room. She had been
taught to believe that it was her daughter's duty to marry her cousin;
and though she knew that the captain had done much to embarrass the
property, she thought that this would be the surest way to settle him.
The heir of Tretton Park was, in her estimation, so great a man that
very much was to be endured at his hands.

The meeting between the two cousins was very long, and when Mrs.
Mountjoy at last returned unannounced to the room she found her daughter
in tears.

"Oh, Florence, what is the matter?" asked her mother.

The poor girl said nothing, but still continued to weep, while the
captain stood by looking as black as a thunder-cloud.

"What is it, Mountjoy?" said Mrs. Mountjoy, turning to him.

"I have told Florence some of my troubles," said he, "and they seemed to
have changed her mind toward me."

There was something in this which was detestable to Florence,--an
unfairness, a dishonesty in putting off upon his trouble that absence of
love which she had at last been driven by his vows to confess. She knew
that it was not because of his present trouble, which she understood to
be terrible, but which she could not in truth comprehend. He had blurted
it all out roughly,--the story as told by his father of his mother's
dishonor, of his own insignificance in the world, of the threatened
loss of the property, of the heaviness of his debts,--and added his
conviction that his father had invented it all, and was, in fact, a
thorough rascal. The full story of his debts he kept back, not with any
predetermined falseness, but because it is so difficult for a man to own
that he has absolutely ruined himself by his own folly. It was not
wonderful that the girl should not have understood such a story as had
then been told her. Why was he defending his mother? Why was he accusing
his father? The accusations against her uncle, whom she did know, were
more fearful to her than these mysterious charges against her aunt, whom
she did not know, from which her son defended her. But then he had
spoken passionately of his own love, and she had understood that. He had
besought her to confess that she loved him, and then she had at once
become stubborn. There was something in the word "confess" which grated
against her feelings. It seemed to imply a conviction on his part that
she did love him. She had never told him so, and was now sure that it
was not so. When he had pressed her she could only weep. But in her
weeping she never for a moment yielded. She never uttered a single word
on which he could be enabled to build a hope. Then he had become blacker
and still blacker, fiercer and still fiercer, more and more earnest in
his purpose, till at last he asked her whom it was that she loved--as she
could not love him. He knew well whom it was that he suspected;--and she
knew also. But he had no right to demand any statement from her on that
head. She did not think that the man loved her; nor did she know what to
say or to think of her own feelings. Were he, the other man, to come to
her, she would only bid him go away; but why she should so bid him she
had hardly known. But now this dark frowning captain, with his big
mustache and his military look, and his general aspect of invincible
power, threatened the other man.

"He came to Tretton as my friend," he said, "and by Heaven if he stands
in my way, if he dare to cross between you and me, he shall answer it
with his life!"

The name had not been mentioned; but this had been very terrible to
Florence, and she could only weep.

He went away, refusing to stay to dinner, but said that on the following
afternoon he would again return. In the street of the town he met one of
his creditors, who had discovered his journey to Cheltenham, and had
followed him.

"Oh, Captain Mountjoy, what is all dis that they are talking about in
London?"

"What are they talking about?"

"De inheritance!" said the man, who was a veritable Jew, looking up
anxiously in his face.

The man had his acceptance for a very large sum of money, with an
assurance that it should be paid on his father's death, for which he had
given him about two thousand pounds in cash.

"You must ask my father."

"But is it true?"

"You must ask my father. Upon my word, I can tell you nothing else. He
has concocted a tale of which I for one do not believe a word. I never
heard of the story till he condescended to tell it me the other day.
Whether it be true or whether it be false, you and I, Mr. Hart, are in
the same boat."

"But you have had de money."

"And you have got the bill. You can't do anything by coming after me. My
father seems to have contrived a very clever plan by which he can rob
you; but he will rob me at the same time. You may believe me or not as
you please; but that you will find to be the truth."

Then Mr. Hart left him, but certainly did not believe a word the captain
had said to him.

To her mother Florence would only disclose her persistent intention of
not marrying her cousin. Mrs. Mountjoy, over whose spirit the glamour of
the captain's prestige was still potent, said much in his favor.
Everybody had always intended the marriage, and it would be the setting
right of everything. The captain, no doubt, owed a large sum of money,
but that would be paid by Florence's fortune. So little did the poor
lady know of the captain's condition. When she had been told that there
had been a great quarrel between the captain and his father, she
declared that the marriage would set that all right.

"But, mamma, Captain Scarborough is not to have the property at all."

Then Mrs. Mountjoy, believing thoroughly in entails, had declared that
all Heaven could not prevent it.

"But that makes no difference," said the daughter; "if I--I--I loved him
I would marry him so much the more, if he had nothing."

Then Mrs. Mountjoy declared that she could not understand it at all.

On the next day Captain Scarborough came, according to his promise, but
nothing that he could say would induce Florence to come into his
presence. Her mother declared that she was so ill that it would be
wicked to disturb her.



CHAPTER III.

HARRY ANNESLEY.


Together with Augustus Scarborough at Cambridge had been one Harry
Annesley, and he it was to whom the captain in his wrath had sworn to
put an end if he should come between him and his love. Harry Annesley
had been introduced to the captain by his brother, and an intimacy had
grown up between them. He had brought him to Tretton Park when Florence
was there, and Harry had since made his own way to Cheltenham, and had
endeavored to plead his own cause after his own fashion. This he had
done after the good old English plan, which is said to be somewhat
loutish, but is not without its efficacy. He had looked at her, and
danced with her, and done the best with his gloves and his cravat, and
had let her see by twenty unmistakable signs that in order to be
perfectly happy he must be near her. Her gloves, and her flowers, and
her other little properties were sweeter to him than any scents, and
were more valuable in his eyes than precious stones. But he had never as
yet actually asked her to love him. But she was so quick a linguist that
she had understood down to the last letter what all these tokens had
meant. Her cousin, Captain Scarborough, was to her magnificent,
powerful, but terrible withal. She had asked herself a thousand times
whether it would be possible for her to love him and to become his wife.
She had never quite given even to herself an answer to this question
till she had suddenly found herself enabled to do so by his
over-confidence in asking her to confess that she loved him. She had
never acknowledged anything, even to herself, as to Harry Annesley. She
had never told herself that it would be possible that he should ask her
any such question. She had a wild, dreamy, fearful feeling that,
although it would be possible to her to refuse her cousin, it would be
impossible that she should marry any other while he should still be
desirous of making her his wife. And now Captain Scarborough had
threatened Harry Annesley, not indeed by name, but still clearly
enough. Any dream of her own in that direction must be a vain dream.

As Harry Annesley is going to be what is generally called the hero of
this story, it is necessary that something should be said of the
particulars of his life and existence up to this period. There will be
found to be nothing very heroic about him. He is a young man with more
than a fair allowance of a young man's folly;--it may also be said of a
young man's weakness. But I myself am inclined to think that there was
but little of a young man's selfishness, with nothing of falseness or
dishonesty; and I am therefore tempted to tell his story.

He was the son of a clergyman, and the eldest of a large family of
children. But as he was the acknowledged heir to his mother's brother,
who was the squire of the parish of which his father was rector, it was
not thought necessary that he should follow any profession. This uncle
was the Squire of Buston, and was, after all, not a rich man himself.
His whole property did not exceed two thousand a year, an income which
fifty years since was supposed to be sufficient for the moderate wants
of a moderate country gentleman; but though Buston be not very far
removed from the centre of everything, being in Hertfordshire and not
more than forty miles from London, Mr. Prosper lived so retired a life,
and was so far removed from the ways of men, that he apparently did not
know but that his heir was as completely entitled to lead an idle life
as though he were the son of a duke or a brewer. It must not, however,
be imagined that Mr. Prosper was especially attached to his nephew. When
the boy left the Charter-house, where his uncle had paid his
school-bills, he was sent to Cambridge, with an allowance of two hundred
and fifty pounds a year, and that allowance was still continued to him,
with an assurance that under no circumstances could it ever be
increased. At college he had been successful, and left Cambridge with a
college fellowship. He therefore left it with one hundred and
seventy-five pounds added to his income, and was considered by all those
at Buston Rectory to be a rich young man.

But Harry did not find that his combined income amounted to riches amid
a world of idleness. At Buston he was constantly told by his uncle of
the necessity of economy. Indeed, Mr. Prosper, who was a sickly little
man about fifty years of age, always spoke of himself as though he
intended to live for another half-century. He rarely walked across the
park to the rectory, and once a week, on Sundays, entertained the
rectory family. A sad occasion it generally was to the elder of the
rectory children, who were thus doomed to abandon the loud pleasantries
of their own home for the sober Sunday solemnities of the Hall. It was
not that the Squire of Buston was peculiarly a religious man, or that
the rector was the reverse: but the parson was joyous, whereas the other
was solemn. The squire,--who never went to church, because he was supposed
to be ill,--made up for the deficiency by his devotional tendencies when
the children were at the Hall. He read through a sermon after dinner,
unintelligibly and even inaudibly. At this his brother-in-law, who had
an evening service in his own church, of course never was present; but
Mrs. Annesley and the girls were there, and the younger children. But
Harry Annesley had absolutely declined; and his uncle having found out
that he never attended the church service, although he always left the
Hall with his father, made this a ground for a quarrel. It at last came
to pass that Mr. Prosper, who was jealous and irritable, would hardly
speak to his nephew; but the two hundred and fifty pounds went on, with
many bickerings on the subject between the parson and the squire. Once,
when the squire spoke of discontinuing it, Harry's father reminded him
that the young man had been brought up in absolute idleness, in
conformity with his uncle's desire. This the squire denied in strong
language; but Harry had not hitherto run loudly in debt, nor kicked over
the traces very outrageously; and as he absolutely must be the heir, the
allowance was permitted to go on.

There was one lady who conceived all manner of bad things as to Harry
Annesley, because, as she alleged, of the want of a profession and of
any fixed income. Mrs. Mountjoy, Florence's mother, was this lady.
Florence herself had read every word in Harry's language, not knowing,
indeed, that she had read anything, but still never having missed a
single letter. Mrs. Mountjoy also had read a good deal, though not all,
and dreaded the appearance of Harry as a declared lover. In her eyes
Captain Scarborough was a very handsome, very powerful, and very grand
personage; but she feared that Florence was being induced to refuse her
allegiance to this sovereign by the interference of her other very
indifferent suitor. What would be Buston and two thousand a year, as
compared with all the glories and limitless income of the great Tretton
property? Captain Scarborough, with his mustaches and magnificence, was
just the man who would be sure to become a peer. She had always heard
the income fixed at thirty thousand a year. What would a few debts
signify to thirty thousand a year? Such had been her thoughts up to the
period of Captain Scarborough's late visit, when he had come to
Cheltenham, and had renewed his demand for Florence's hand somewhat
roughly. He had spoken ambiguous words, dreadful words, declaring that
an internecine quarrel had taken place between him and his father; but
these words, though they had been very dreadful, had been altogether
misunderstood by Mrs. Mountjoy. The property she knew to be entailed,
and she knew that when a property was entailed the present owner of it
had nothing to do with its future disposition. Captain Scarborough, at
any rate, was anxious for the marriage, and Mrs. Mountjoy was inclined
to accept him, encumbered as he now was with his father's wrath, in
preference to poor Harry Annesley.

In June Harry came up to London, and there learned at his club the
singular story in regard to old Mr. Scarborough and his son. Mr.
Scarborough had declared his son illegitimate, and all the world knew
now that he was utterly penniless and hopelessly in debt. That he had
been greatly embarrassed Harry had known for many months, and added to
that was now the fact, very generally believed, that he was not and
never had been the heir to Tretton Park. All that still increasing
property about Tretton, on which so many hopes had been founded, would
belong to his brother. Harry, as he heard the tale, immediately
connected it with Florence. He had, of course, known the captain was a
suitor to the girl's hand, and there had been a time when he thought
that his own hopes were consequently vain. Gradually the conviction
dawned upon him that Florence did not love the grand warrior, that she
was afraid of him rather and awe-struck. It would be terrible now were
she brought to marry him by this feeling of awe. Then he learned that
the warrior had gone down to Cheltenham, and in the restlessness of his
spirit he pursued him. When he reached Cheltenham the warrior had
already gone.

"The property is certainly entailed," said Mrs. Mountjoy. He had called
at once at the house and saw the mother, but Florence was discreetly
sent away to her own room when the dangerous young man was admitted.

"He is not Mr. Scarborough's eldest son at all," said Harry; "that is,
in the eye of the law." Then he had to undertake that task, very
difficult for a young man, of explaining to her all the circumstances of
the case.

But there was something in them so dreadful to the lady's imagination
that he failed for a long time to make her comprehend it. "Do you mean
to say that Mr. Scarborough was not married to his own wife?"

"Not at first."

"And that he knew it?"

"No doubt he knew it. He confesses as much himself."

"What a very wicked man he must be!" said Mrs. Mountjoy. Harry could
only shrug his shoulder. "And he meant to rob Augustus all through?"
Harry again shrugged his shoulder. "Is it not much more probable that if
he could be so very wicked he would be willing to deny his eldest son in
order to save paying the debts?"

Harry could only declare that the facts were as he told them, or at
least that all London believed them to be so, that at any rate Captain
Mountjoy had gambled so recklessly as to put himself for ever and ever
out of reach of a shilling of the property, and that it was clearly the
duty of Mrs. Mountjoy, as Florence's mother, not to accept him as a
suitor.

It was only by slow degrees that the conversation had arrived at this
pass. Harry had never as yet declared his own love either to the mother
or daughter, and now appeared simply as a narrator of this terrible
story. But at this point it did appear to him that he must introduce
himself in another guise.

"The fact is, Mrs. Mountjoy," he said, starting to his feet, "that I am
in love with your daughter myself."

"And therefore you have come here to vilify Captain Scarborough."

"I have come," said he, "at any rate to tell the truth. If it be as I
say, you cannot think it right that he should marry your daughter. I say
nothing of myself, but that, at any rate, cannot be."

"It is no business of yours, Mr. Annesley."

"Except that I would fain think that her business should be mine."

But he could not prevail with Mrs. Mountjoy either on this day or the
next to allow him to see Florence, and at last was obliged to leave
Cheltenham without having done so.



CHAPTER IV.

CAPTAIN SCARBOROUGH'S DISAPPEARANCE.


A few days after the visits to Cheltenham, described in the last
chapters, Harry Annesley, coming down a passage by the side of the
Junior United Service Club into Charles Street, suddenly met Captain
Scarborough at two o'clock in the morning. Where Harry had been at that
hour need not now be explained, but it may be presumed that he had not
been drinking tea with any of his female relatives.

Captain Scarborough had just come out of some neighboring club, where he
had certainly been playing, and where, to all appearances, he had been
drinking also. That there should have been no policemen in the street
was not remarkable, but there was no one else there present to give any
account of what took place during the five minutes in which the two men
remained together. Harry, who was at the moment surprised by the
encounter, would have passed the captain by without notice, had he been
allowed to do so; but this the captain perceived, and stopped him
suddenly, taking him roughly by the collar of his coat. This Harry
naturally resented, and before a word of intelligible explanation had
been given the two young men had quarrelled.

Captain Scarborough had received a long letter from Mrs. Mountjoy,
praying for explanation of circumstances which could not be explained,
and stating over and over again that all her information had come from
Harry Annesley.

The captain now called him an interfering, meddlesome idiot, and shook
him violently while holding him in his grasp. This was a usage which
Harry was not the man to endure, and there soon arose a scuffle, in
which blows had passed between them. The captain stuck to his prey,
shaking him again and again in his drunken wrath, till Harry, roused to
a passion almost equal to that of his opponent, flung him at last
against the corner of the club railings, and there left his foe
sprawling upon the ground, having struck his head violently against the
ground as he fell. Harry passed on to his own bed, indifferent, as it
was afterwards said, to the fate of his antagonist. All this occupied
probably five minutes in the doing, but was seen by no human eye.

As the occurrence of that night was subsequently made the ground for
heavy accusation against Harry Annesley, it has been told here with
sufficient minuteness to show what might be said in justification or in
condemnation of his conduct,--to show what might be said if the truth
were spoken. For, indeed, in the discussions which arose on the subject,
much was said which was not true. When he had retired from the scuffle
on that night, Harry had certainly not dreamed that any serious damage
had been done to the man who had certainly been altogether to blame in
his provocation of the quarrel. Had he kept his temper and feelings
completely under control, and knocked down Captain Scarborough only in
self-defence; had he not allowed himself to be roused to wrath by
treatment which could not but give rise to wrath in a young man's bosom,
no doubt, when his foe lay at his feet, he would have stooped to pick
him up, and have tended his wounds. But such was not Harry's
character,--nor that of any of the young men with whom I have been
acquainted. Such, however, was the conduct apparently expected from him
by many, when the circumstances of those five minutes were brought to
the light. But, on the other hand, had passion not completely got the
better of him, had he not at the moment considered the attack made upon
him to amount to misconduct so gross as to supersede all necessity for
gentle usage on his own part, he would hardly have left the man to live
or die as chance would have it. Boiling with passion, he went his way,
and did leave the man on the pavement, not caring much, or rather, not
thinking much, whether his victim might live or die.

On the next day Harry Annesley left London and went down to Buston,
having heard no word farther about the captain. He did not start till
late in the afternoon, and during the day took some trouble to make
himself conspicuous about the town; but he heard nothing of Captain
Scarborough. Twice he walked along Charles Street, and looked at the
spot on which he had stood on the night before in what might have been
deadly conflict. Then he told himself that he had not been in the least
wounded, that the ferocious maddened man had attempted to do no more
than shake him, that his coat had suffered and not himself, and that in
return he had certainly struck the captain with all his violence. There
were probably some regrets, but he said not a word on the subject to any
one, and so he left London.

For three or four days nothing was heard of the captain, nor was
anything said about him. He had lodgings in town, at which he was no
doubt missed, but he also had quarters at the barracks, at which he did
not often sleep, but to which it was thought possible on the next
morning that he might have betaken himself. Before the evening of that
day had come he had no doubt been missed, but in the world at large no
special mention was made of his absence for some time. Then, among the
haunts which he was known to frequent, questions began to be asked as to
his whereabouts, and to be answered by doubtful assertions that nothing
had been seen or heard of him for the last sixty or seventy hours.

It must be remembered that at this time Captain Scarborough was still
the subject of universal remark, because of the story told as to his
birth. His father had declared him to be illegitimate, and had thereby
robbed all his creditors. Captain Scarborough was a man quite remarkable
enough to insure universal attention for such a tale as this; but now,
added to his illegitimacy was his disappearance. There was at first no
idea that he had been murdered. It became quickly known to all the world
that he had, on the night in question, lost a large sum of money at a
whist-club which he frequented, and, in accordance with the custom of
the club, had not paid the money on the spot.

The fatal Monday had come round, and the money undoubtedly was not paid.
Then he was declared a defaulter, and in due process of time his name
was struck off the club books, with some serious increase of the
ignominy hitherto sustained.

During the last fortnight or more Captain Scarborough's name had been
subjected to many remarks and to much disgrace. But this non-payment of
the money lost at whist was considered to be the turning-point. A man
might be declared illegitimate, and might in consequence of that or any
other circumstance defraud all his creditors. A man might conspire with
his father with the object of doing this fraudulently, as Captain
Scarborough was no doubt thought to have done by most of his
acquaintances. All this he might do and not become so degraded but that
his friends would talk to him and play cards with him. But to have sat
down to a whist-table and not be able to pay the stakes was held to be
so foul a disgrace that men did not wonder that he should have
disappeared.

Such was the cause alleged for the captain's disappearance among his
intimate friends; but by degrees more than his intimate friends came to
talk of it. In a short time his name was in all the newspapers, and
there was not a constable in London whose mind was not greatly exercised
on the matter. All Scotland Yard and the police-officers were busy. Mr.
Grey, in Lincoln's Inn, was much troubled on the matter. By degrees
facts had made themselves clear to his mind, and he had become aware
that the captain had been born before his client's marriage. He was
ineffably shocked at the old squire's villany in the matter, but
declared to all to whom he spoke openly on the subject that he did not
see how the sinner could be punished. He never thought that the father
and son were in a conspiracy together. Nor had he believed that they had
arranged the young man's disappearance in order the more thoroughly to
defraud the creditors. They could not, at any rate, harm a man of whose
whereabouts they were unaware and who, for all they knew, might be dead.
But the reader is already aware that this surmise on the part of Mr.
Grey was unfounded.

The captain had been absent for three weeks when Augustus Scarborough
went down for a second time to Tretton Park, in order to discuss the
matter with his father.

Augustus had, with much equanimity and a steady, fixed purpose, settled
himself down to the position as elder son. He pretended no anger to his
father for the injury intended, and was only anxious that his own rights
should be confirmed. In this he found that no great difficulty stood in
his way. The creditors would contest his rights when his father should
die; but for such contest he would be prepared. He had no doubt as to
his own position, but thought that it would be safer,--and that it would
also probably be cheaper,--to purchase the acquiescence of all claimants
than to encounter the expense of a prolonged trial, to which there might
be more than one appeal, and of which the end after all would be
doubtful.

No very great sum of money would probably be required. No very great sum
would, at any rate, be offered. But such an arrangement would certainly
be easier if his brother were not present to be confronted with the men
whom he had duped.

The squire was still ill down at Tretton, but not so ill but that he had
his wits about him in all their clearness. Some said that he was not ill
at all, but that in the present state of affairs the retirement suited
him. But the nature of the operation which he had undergone was known to
many who would not have him harassed in his present condition. In truth,
he had only to refuse admission to all visitors and to take care that
his commands were carried out in order to avoid disagreeable intrusions.

"Do you mean to say that a man can do such a thing as this and that no
one can touch him for it?" This was an exclamation made by Mr. Tyrrwhit
to his lawyer, in a tone of aggrieved disgust.

"He hasn't done anything," said the lawyer. "He only thought of doing
something, and has since repented. You cannot arrest a man because he
had contemplated the picking of your pocket, especially when he has
shown that he is resolved not to pick it."

"As far as I can learn, nothing has been heard about him as yet," said
the son to the father.

"Those limbs weren't his that were picked out of the Thames near
Blackfriars Bridge?"

"They belonged to a poor cripple who was murdered two months since."

"And that body that was found down among the Yorkshire Hills?"

"He was a peddler. There is nothing to induce a belief that Mountjoy has
killed himself or been killed. In the former case his dead body would be
found or his live body would be missing. For the second there is no
imaginable cause for suspicion."

"Then where the devil is he?" said the anxious father.

"Ah, that's the difficulty. But I can imagine no position in which a man
might be more tempted to hide himself. He is disgraced on every side,
and could hardly show his face in London after the money he has lost.
You would not have paid his gambling debts?"

"Certainly not," said the father. "There must be an end to all things."

"Nor could I. Within the last month past he has drawn from me every
shilling that I have had at my immediate command."

"Why did you give 'em to him?"

"It would be difficult to explain all the reasons. He was then my elder
brother, and it suited me to have him somewhat under my hand. At any
rate I did do so, and am unable for the present to do more. Looking
round about, I do not see where it was possible for him to raise a
sovereign as soon as it was once known that he was nobody."

"What will become of him?" said the father. "I don't like the idea of
his being starved. He can't live without something to live upon."

"God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb," said the son. "For lambs such
as he there always seems to be pasture provided of one sort or another."

"You would not like to have to trust to such pastures," said the
father.

"Nor should I like to be hanged; but I should have to be hanged if I had
committed murder. Think of the chances which he has had, and the way in
which he has misused them. Although illegitimate, he was to have had the
whole property,--of which not a shilling belongs to him; and he has not
lost it because it was not his own, but has simply gambled it away among
the Jews. What can happen to a man in such a condition better than to
turn up as a hunter among the Rocky Mountains or as a gold-digger in
Australia? In this last adventure he seems to have plunged horribly, and
to have lost over three thousand pounds. You wouldn't have paid that for
him?"

"Not again;--certainly not again."

"Then what could he do better than disappear? I suppose I shall have to
make him an allowance some of these days, and if he can live and keep
himself dark I will do so."

There was in this a tacit allusion to his father's speedy death which
was grim enough; but the father passed it by without any expression of
displeasure. He certainly owed much to his younger son, and was willing
to pay it by quiescence. Let them both forbear. Such was the language
which he held to himself in thinking of his younger son. Augustus was
certainly behaving well to him. Not a word of rebuke had passed his lips
as to the infamous attempt at spoliation which had been made. The old
squire felt grateful for his younger son's conduct, but yet in his heart
of hearts he preferred the elder.

"He has denuded me of every penny," said Augustus, "and I must ask you
to refund me something of what has gone."

"He has kept me very bare. A man with so great a propensity for getting
rid of money I think no father ever before had to endure."

"You have had the last of it."

"I do not know that. If I live, and he lets me know his whereabouts, I
cannot leave him penniless. I do feel that a great injustice has been
done him."

"I don't exactly see it," said Augustus.

"Because you're too hard-hearted to put yourself in another man's place.
He was my eldest son."

"He thought that he was."

"And should have remained so had there been a hope for him," said the
squire, roused to temporary anger. Augustus only shrugged his
shoulders. "But there is no good talking about it."

"Not the least in the world. Mr. Grey, I suppose, knows the truth at
last. I shall have to get three or four thousand pounds from you, or I
too must resort to the Jews. I shall do it, at any rate, under better
circumstances than my brother."

Some arrangement was at last made which was satisfactory to the son, and
which we must presume that the father found to be endurable. Then the
son took his leave, and went back to London, with the understood
intention of pushing the inquiries as to his brother's existence and
whereabouts.

The sudden and complete disappearance of Captain Scarborough struck Mrs.
Mountjoy with the deepest awe. It was not at first borne in upon her to
believe that Captain Mountjoy Scarborough, an officer in the
Coldstreams, and the acknowledged heir to the Tretton property, had
vanished away as a stray street-sweeper might do, or some milliner's
lowest work-woman. But at last there were advertisements in all the
newspapers and placards on all the walls, and Mrs. Mountjoy did
understand that the captain was gone. She could as yet hardly believe
that he was no longer heir to Tretton: and in such short discussions
with Florence as were necessary on the subject she preferred to express
no opinion whatever as to his conduct. But she would by no means give
way when urged to acknowledge that no marriage between Florence and the
captain was any longer to be regarded as possible. While the captain was
away the matter should be left as if in abeyance; but this by no means
suited the young lady's views. Mrs. Mountjoy was not a reticent woman,
and had no doubt been too free in whispering among her friends something
of her daughter's position. This Florence had resented; but it had still
been done, and in Cheltenham generally she was regarded as an engaged
young lady. It had been in vain that she had denied that it was so. Her
mother's word on such a subject was supposed to be more credible that
her own; and now this man with whom she was believed to be so closely
connected had disappeared from the world among the most disreputable
circumstances. But when she explained the difficulty to her mother her
mother bade her hold her tongue for the present, and seemed to hold out
a hope that the captain might at last be restored to his old position.

"Let them restore him ever so much, he would never be anything to me,
mamma." Then Mrs. Mountjoy would only shake her head and purse her lips.

On the evening of the day after the fracas in the street Harry Annesley
went down to Buston, and there remained for the next two or three days,
holding his tongue absolutely as to the adventure of that night. There
was no one at Buston to whom he would probably have made known the
circumstances. But there was clinging to it a certain flavor of
disreputable conduct on his own part which sealed his lips altogether.
The louder and more frequent the tidings which reached his ears as to
the captain's departure, the more strongly did he feel that duty
required him to tell what he knew upon the matter. Many thoughts and
many fears encompassed him. At first was the idea that he had killed the
man by the violence of his blow, or that his death had been caused by
the fall. Then it occurred to him that it was impossible that
Scarborough should have been killed and that no account should be given
as to the finding of the body. At last he persuaded himself that he
could not have killed the man, but he was assured at the same time that
the disappearance must in some sort have been occasioned by what then
took place. And it could not but be that the captain, if alive, should
be aware of the nature of the struggle which had taken place. He heard,
chiefly from the newspapers, the full record of the captain's
illegitimacy; he heard of his condition with the creditors; he heard of
those gambling debts which were left unpaid at the club. He saw it also
stated--and repeated--that these were the grounds for the man's
disappearance. It was quite credible that the man should disappear, or
endeavor to disappear, under such a cloud of difficulties. It did not
require that he and his violence should be adduced as an extra cause.
Indeed, had the man been minded to vanish before the encounter, he might
in all human probability have been deterred by the circumstances of the
quarrel. It gave no extra reason for his disappearance, and could in no
wise be counted with it were he to tell the whole story, in Scotland
Yard. He had been grossly misused on the occasion, and had escaped from
such misusage by the only means in his power. But still he felt that,
had he told the story, people far and wide would have connected his name
with the man's absence, and, worse again, that Florence's name would
have become entangled with it also. For the first day or two he had from
hour to hour abstained from telling all that he knew, and then when the
day or two were passed, and when a week had run by,--when a fortnight had
been allowed to go,--it was impossible for him not to hold his tongue.

He became nervous, unhappy, and irritated down at Buston, with his
father and mother and sister's, but more especially with his uncle.
Previous to this his uncle for a couple of months had declined to see
him; now he was sent for to the Hall and interrogated daily on this
special subject. Mr. Prosper was aware that his nephew had been intimate
with Augustus Scarborough, and that he might, therefore, be presumed to
know much about the family. Mr. Prosper took the keenest interest in the
illegitimacy and the impecuniosity and final disappearance of the
captain, and no doubt did, in his cross-examinations, discover the fact
that Harry was unwilling to answer his questions. He found out for the
first time that Harry was acquainted with the captain, and also
contrived to extract from him the name of Miss Mountjoy. But he could
learn nothing else, beyond Harry's absolute unwillingness to talk upon
the subject, which was in itself much. It must be understood that Harry
was not specially reverential in these communications. Indeed, he gave
his uncle to understand that he regarded his questions as impertinent,
and at last declared his intention of not coming to the Hall any more
for the present. Then Mr. Prosper whispered to his sister that he was
quite sure that Harry Annesley knew more than he choose to say as to
Captain Scarborough's whereabouts.

"My dear Peter," said Mrs. Annesley, "I really think that you are doing
poor Harry an injustice."

Mrs. Annesley was always on her guard to maintain something like an
affectionate intercourse between her own family and the squire.

"My dear Anne, you do not see into a millstone as far as I do. You never
did."

"But, Peter, you really shouldn't say such things of Harry. When all the
police-officers themselves are looking about to catch up anything in
their way, they would catch him up at a moment's notice if they heard
that a magistrate of the county had expressed such an opinion."

"Why don't he tell me?" said Mr. Prosper.

"There's nothing to tell."

"Ah, that's your opinion--because you can't see into a millstone. I tell
you that Harry knows more about this Captain Scarborough than any one
else. They were very intimate together."

"Harry only just knew him."

"Well, you'll see. I tell you that Harry's name will become mixed up
with Captain Scarborough's, and I hope that it will be in no
discreditable manner. I hope so, that's all." Harry in the mean time
had returned to London, in order to escape his uncle, and to be on the
spot to learn anything that might come in his way as to the now
acknowledged mystery respecting the captain.

Such was the state of things at the commencement of the period to which
my story refers.



CHAPTER V.

AUGUSTUS SCARBOROUGH.


Harry Annesley, when he found himself in London, could not for a moment
shake off that feeling of nervous anxiety as to the fate of Mountjoy
Scarborough which had seized hold of him. In every newspaper which he
took in his hand he looked first for the paragraph respecting the fate
of the missing man, which the paper was sure to contain in one of its
columns. It was his habit during these few days to breakfast at a club,
and he could not abstain from speaking to his neighbors about the
wonderful Scarborough incident. Every man was at this time willing to
speak on the subject, and Harry's interest might not have seemed to be
peculiar; but it became known that he had been acquainted with the
missing man, and Harry in conversation said much more than it would have
been prudent for him to do on the understanding that he wished to remain
unconnected with the story. Men asked him questions as though he were
likely to know; and he would answer them, asserting that he knew
nothing, but still leaving an impression behind that he did know more
than he chose to avow. Many inquiries were made daily at this time in
Scotland Yard as to the captain. These, no doubt, chiefly came from the
creditors and their allies. But Harry Annesley became known among those
who asked for information as Henry Annesley, Esq., late of St. John's
College, Cambridge; and even the police were taught to think that there
was something noticeable in the interest which he displayed.

On the fourth day after his arrival in London, just at that time of the
year when everybody was supposed to be leaving town, and when faded
members of Parliament, who allowed themselves to be retained for the
purpose of final divisions, were cursing their fate amid the heats of
August, Harry accepted an invitation to dine with Augustus Scarborough
at his chambers in the Temple. He understood when he accepted the
invitation that no one else was to be there, and must have been aware
that it was the intention of the heir of Tretton to talk to him
respecting his brother. He had not seen Scarborough since he had been up
in town, and had not been desirous of seeing him; but when the
invitation came he had told himself that it would be better that he
should accept it, and that he would allow his host to say what he
pleased to say on the subject, he himself remaining reticent. But poor
Harry little knew the difficulty of reticency when the heart is full. He
had intended to be very reticent when he came up to London, and had, in
fact, done nothing but talk about the missing man, as to whom he had
declared that he would altogether hold his tongue.

The reader must here be pleased to remember that Augustus Scarborough
was perfectly well aware of what had befallen his brother, and must,
therefore, have known among other things of the quarrel which had taken
place in the streets. He knew, therefore, that Harry was concealing his
knowledge, and could make a fair guess at the state of the poor fellow's
mind.

"He will guess," he had said to himself, "that he did not leave him for
dead on the ground, or the body would be there to tell the tale. But he
must be ashamed of the part which he took in the street-fight, and be
anxious to conceal it. No doubt Mountjoy was the first offender, but
something had occurred which Annesley is unwilling should make its way
either to his uncle's ears, or to his father's, or to mine, or to the
squire's,--or to those of Florence."

It was thus that Augustus Scarborough reasoned with himself when he
asked Harry Annesley to dine with him.

It was not supposed by any of his friends that Augustus Scarborough
would continue to live in the moderate chambers which he now occupied in
the Temple; but he had as yet made no sign of a desire to leave them.
They were up two pair of stairs, and were not great in size; but they
were comfortable enough, and even luxurious, as a bachelor's abode.

"I've asked you to come alone," said Augustus, "because there is such a
crowd of things to be talked of about poor Mountjoy which are not
exactly fitted for the common ear."

"Yes, indeed," said Harry, who did not, however, quite understand why it
would be necessary that the heir should discuss with him the affairs of
his unfortunate brother. There had, no doubt, been a certain degree of
intimacy between them, but nothing which made it essential that the
captain's difficulties should be exposed to him. The matter which
touched him most closely was the love which both the men had borne to
Florence Mountjoy; but Harry did not expect that any allusion to
Florence would be made on the present occasion.

"Did you ever hear of such a devil of a mess?" said Augustus.

"No, indeed. It is not only that he has disappeared--"

"That is as nothing when compared with all the other incidents of this
romantic tale. Indeed, it is the only natural thing in it. Given all the
other circumstances, I should have foretold his disappearance as a thing
certain to occur. Why shouldn't such a man disappear, if he can?"

"But how has he done it?" replied Harry. "Where has he gone to? At this
moment where is he?"

"Ah, if you will answer all those questions, and give your information
in Scotland Yard, the creditors, no doubt, will make up a handsome purse
for you. Not that they will ever get a shilling from him, though he were
to be seen walking down St. James's Street to-morrow. But they are a
sanguine gentry, these holders of bills, and I really believe that if
they could see him they would embrace him with the warmest affection. In
the mean time let us have some dinner, and we will talk about poor
Mountjoy when we have got rid of young Pitcher. Young Pitcher is my
laundress's son to the use of whose services I have been promoted since
I have been known to be the heir of Tretton."

Then they sat down and dined, and Augustus Scarborough made himself
agreeable. The small dinner was excellent of its kind, and the wine was
all that it ought to be. During dinner not a word was said as to
Mountjoy, nor as to the affairs of the estate. Augustus, who was old for
his age, and had already practised himself much in London life, knew
well how to make himself agreeable. There was plenty to be said while
young Pitcher was passing in and out of the room, so that there appeared
no awkward vacancies of silence while one course succeeded the other.
The weather was very hot, the grouse were very tempting, everybody was
very dull, and members of Parliament more stupid than anybody else; but
a good time was coming. Would Harry come down to Tretton and see the old
governor? There was not much to offer him in the way of recreation, but
when September came the partridges would abound. Harry gave a
half-promise that he would go to Tretton for a week, and Augustus
Scarborough expressed himself as much gratified. Harry at the moment
thought of no reason why he should not go to Tretton, and thus
committed himself to the promise; but he afterward felt that Tretton was
of all places the last which he ought just at present to visit.

At last Pitcher and the cheese were gone, and young Scarborough produced
his cigars. "I want to smoke directly I've done eating," he said.
"Drinking goes with smoking as well as it does with eating, so there
need be no stop for that. Now, tell me, Annesley, what is it that you
think about Mountjoy?"

There was an abruptness in the question which for the moment struck
Harry dumb. How was he to say what he thought about Mountjoy
Scarborough, even though he should have no feeling to prevent him from
expressing the truth? He knew, or thought that he knew, Mountjoy
Scarborough to be a thorough blackguard; one whom no sense of honesty
kept from spending money, and who was now a party to robbing his
creditors without the slightest compunction,--for it was in Harry's mind
that Mountjoy and his father were in league together to save the
property by rescuing it from the hands of the Jews. He would have
thought the same as to the old squire,--only that the old squire had not
interfered with him in reference to Florence Mountjoy.

And then there was present to his mind the brutal attack which had been
made on himself in the street. According to his views Mountjoy
Scarborough was certainly a blackguard; but he did not feel inclined
quite to say so to the brother, nor was he perfectly certain as to his
host's honesty. It might be that the three Scarboroughs were all in a
league together; and if so, he had done very wrong, as he then
remembered, to say that he would go down to Tretton. When, therefore, he
was asked the question he could only hold his tongue.

"I suppose you have some scruple in speaking because he's my brother?
You may drop that altogether."

"I think that his career has been what the novel-reader would call
romantic; but what I, who am not one of them, should describe as
unfortunate."

"Well, yes; taking it altogether it has been unfortunate. I am not a
soft-hearted fellow, but I am driven to pity him. The worst of it is
that, had not my father been induced at last to tell the truth, from
most dishonest causes, he would not have been a bit better off than he
is. I doubt whether he could have raised another couple of thousand on
the day when he went. If he had done so then, and again more and more,
to any amount you choose to think of, it would have been the same with
him."

"I suppose so."

"His lust for gambling was a bottomless quicksand, which no possible
amount of winning could ever have satiated. Let him enter his club with
five thousand pounds at his banker's and no misfortune could touch him.
He being such as he is,--or, alas! for aught we know, such as he was,--the
escape which the property has had cannot but be regarded as very
fortunate. I don't care to talk much of myself in particular, though no
wrong can have been done to a man more infinite than that which my
father contrived for me."

"I cannot understand your father," said Harry. In truth, there was
something in Scarborough's manner in speaking of his father which almost
produced belief in Harry's mind. He began to doubt whether Augustus was
in the conspiracy.

"No, I should say not. It is hard to understand that an English
gentleman should have the courage to conceive such a plot, and the wit
to carry it out. If Mountjoy had run only decently straight, or not more
than indecently crooked, I should have been a younger brother,
practising law in the Temple to the end of my days. The story of Esau
and of Jacob is as nothing to it. But that is not the most remarkable
circumstance. My father, for purposes of his own, which includes the
absolute throwing over of Mountjoy's creditors, changes his plan, and is
pleased to restore to me that of which he had resolved to rob me. What
father would dare to look in the face of the son whom he had thus
resolved to defraud? My father tells me the story with a gentle chuckle,
showing almost as much indifference to Mountjoy's ruin as to my
recovered prosperity. He has not a blush when he reveals it all. He has
not a word to say, or, as far as I can see, a thought as to the world's
opinion. No doubt he is supposed to be dying. I do presume that three or
four months will see the end of him. In the mean time he takes it all as
quietly as though he had simply lent a five-pound note to Mountjoy out
of my pocket."

"You, at any rate, will get your property?"

"Oh, yes; and that, no doubt, is his argument when he sees me. He is
delighted to have me down at Tretton, and, to tell the truth, I do not
feel the slightest animosity toward him. But as I look at him I think
him to be the most remarkable old gentleman that the world has ever
produced. He is quite unconscious that I have any ground of complaint
against him."

"He has probably thought that the circumstances of your brother's birth
should not militate against his prospects."

"But the law, my dear fellow," said Scarborough, getting up from his
chair and standing with his cigar between his finger and thumb,--"the law
thinks otherwise. The making of all right and wrong in this world
depends on the law. The half-crown in my pocket is merely mine because
of the law. He did choose to marry my mother before I was born, but did
not choose to go through that ceremony before my brother's time. That
may be a trifle to you, or to my moral feeling may be a trifle; but
because of that trifle all Tretton will be my property, and his attempt
to rob me of it was just the same as though he should break into a bank
and steal what he found there. He knows that just as well as I do, but
to suit his own purposes he did it."

There was something in the way in which the young man spoke both of his
father and mother which made Harry's flesh creep. He could not but think
of his own father and his own mother, and his feelings in regard to
them. But here this man was talking of the misdoings of the one parent
and the other with the most perfect _sang-froid._ "Of course I
understand all that," said Harry.

"There is a manner of doing evil so easy and indifferent as absolutely
to quell the general feeling respecting it. A man shall tell you that he
has committed a murder in a tone so careless as to make you feel that a
murder is nothing. I don't suppose my father can be punished for his
attempt to rob me of twenty thousand a year, and therefore he talks to
me about it as though it were a good joke. Not only that, but he expects
me to receive it in the same way. Upon the whole, he prevails. I find
myself not in the least angry with him, and rather obliged to him than
otherwise for allowing me to be his eldest son."

"What must Mountjoy's feelings be!" said Harry.

"Exactly; what must be Mountjoy's feelings! There is no need to consider
my father's, but poor Mountjoy's! I don't suppose that he can be dead."

"I should think not."

"While a man is alive he can carry himself off, but when a fellow is
dead it requires at least one or probably two to carry him. Men do not
wish to undertake such a work secretly unless they've been concerned in
the murder; and then there will have been a noise which must have been
heard, or blood which must have been seen, and the body will at last be
forthcoming, or some sign of its destruction. I do not think he be
dead."

"I should hope not," said Harry, rather tamely, and feeling that he was
guilty of a falsehood by the manner in which he expressed his hope.

"When was it you saw him last?" Scarborough asked the question with an
abruptness which was predetermined, but which did not quite take Harry
aback.

"About three months since--in London," said Harry, going back in his
memory to the last meeting, which had occurred before the squire had
declared his purpose.

"Ah;--you haven't seen him, then, since he knew that he was nobody?" This
he asked in an indifferent tone, being anxious not to discover his
purpose, but in doing so he gave Harry great credit for his readiness of
mind.

"I have not seen him since he heard the news which must have astonished
him more than any one else."

"I wonder," said Augustus, "how Florence Mountjoy has borne it?"

"Neither have I seen her. I have been at Cheltenham, but was not allowed
to see her." This he said with an assertion to himself that though he
had lied as to one particular he would not lie as to any other.

"I suppose she must have been much cut up by it all. I have half a mind
to declare to myself that she shall still have an opportunity of
becoming the mistress of Tretton. She was always afraid of Mountjoy, but
I do not know that she ever loved him. She had become so used to the
idea of marrying him that she would have given herself up in mere
obedience. I too think that she might do as a wife, and I shall
certainly make a better husband than Mountjoy would have done."

"Miss Mountjoy will certainly do as a wife for any one who may be lucky
enough to get her," said Harry, with a certain tone of magnificence
which at the moment he felt to be overstrained and ridiculous.

"Oh yes; one has got to get her, as you call it, of course. You mean to
say that you are supposed to be in the running. That is your own
lookout. I can only allege, on my own behalf, that it has always been
considered to be an old family arrangement that Florence Mountjoy shall
marry the heir to Tretton Park. I am in that position now, and I only
throw it out as a hint that I may feel disposed to follow out the family
arrangement. Of course if other things come in the way there will be an
end of it. Come in." This last invitation was given in consequence of a
knock at the door. The door was opened, and there entered a policeman in
plain clothes named Prodgers, who seemed from his manner to be well
acquainted with Augustus Scarborough.

The police for some time past had been very busy on the track of
Mountjoy Scarborough, but had not hitherto succeeded in obtaining any
information. Such activity as had been displayed cannot be procured
without expense, and it had been understood in this case that old Mr.
Scarborough had refused to furnish the means. Something he had supplied
at first, but had latterly declined even to subscribe to a fund. He was
not at all desirous, he said, that his son should be brought back to the
world, particularly as he had made it evident by his disappearance that
he was anxious to keep out of the way. "Why should I pay the fellows?
It's no business of mine," he had said to his son. And from that moment
he had declined to do more than make up the first subscription which had
been suggested to him. But the police had been kept very busy, and it
was known that the funds had been supplied chiefly by Mr. Tyrrwhit. He
was a resolute and persistent man, and was determined to "run down"
Mountjoy Scarborough, as he called it, if money would enable him to do
so. It was he who had appealed to the squire for assistance in this
object, and to him the squire had expressed his opinion that, as his son
did not seem anxious to be brought back, he should not interfere in the
matter.

"Well, Prodgers, what news have you to-day?" asked Augustus.

"There is a man a-wandering about down in Skye, just here and there,
with nothing in particular to say for himself."

"What sort of a looking fellow is he?"

"Well, he's light, and don't come up to the captain's marks; but there's
no knowing what disguises a fellow will put on. I don't think he's got
the captain's legs, and a man can't change his legs."

"Captain Scarborough would not remain loitering about in Skye where he
would be known by half the autumn tourists who saw him."

"That's just what I was saying to Wilkinson," said Prodgers. "Wilkinson
seems to think that a man may be anybody as long as nobody knows who he
is. 'That ain't the captain,' said I."

"I'm afraid he's got out of England," said the captain's brother.

"There's no place where he can be run down like New York, or Paris, or
Melbourne, and it's them they mostly go to. We've wired 'em all three,
and a dozen other ports of the kind. We catches 'em mostly if they go
abroad; but when they remains at home they're uncommon troublesome.
There was a man wandering about in County Donegal. We call Ireland at
home, because we've so much to do with their police since the Land
League came up; but this chap was only an artist who couldn't pay his
bill. What do you think about it, Mr. Annesley?" said the policeman,
turning short round upon Harry, and addressing him a question. Why
should the policeman even have known his name?

"Who? I? I don't think about it at all. I have no means of thinking
about it."

"Because you have been so busy down there at the Yard, I thought that,
as you was asking so many questions, you was, perhaps, interested in the
matter."

"My friend Mr. Annesley," said Augustus, "was acquainted with Captain
Scarborough, as he is with me."

"It did seem as though he was more than usually interested, all the
same," said the policeman.

"I am more than usually interested," replied Harry; "but I do not know
that I am going to give you my reason. As to his present existence I
know absolutely nothing."

"I dare say not. If you'd any information as was reliable I dare say as
it would be forthcoming. Well, Mr. Scarborough, you may be sure of this:
if we can get upon his trail we'll do so, and I think we shall. There
isn't a port that hasn't been watched from two days after his
disappearance, and there isn't a port as won't be watched as soon as any
English steamer touches 'em. We've got our eyes out, and we means to use
'em. Good-night, Mr. Scarborough; good-night, Mr. Annesley," and he
bobbed his head to our friend Harry. "You say as there is a reason as is
unknown. Perhaps it won't be unknown always. Good-night, gentlemen."
Then Constable Prodgers left the room.

Harry had been disconcerted by the policeman's remarks, and showed that
it was so as soon as he was alone with Augustus Scarborough. "I'm afraid
you think the man intended to be impertinent," said Augustus.

"No doubt he did, but such men are allowed to be impertinent."

"He sees an enemy, of course, in every one who pretends to know more
than he knows himself,--or, indeed, in every one who does not. You said
something about having a reason of your own, and he at once connected
you with Mountjoy's disappearance. Such creatures are necessary, but
from the little I've seen of them I do not think that they make the best
companions in the world. I shall leave Mr. Prodgers to carry on his
business to the man who employs him,--namely, Mr. Tyrrwhit,--and I advise
you to do the same."

Soon after that Harry Annesley took his leave, but he could not divest
himself of an opinion that both the policeman and his host had thought
that he had some knowledge respecting the missing man. Augustus
Scarborough had said no word to that effect, but there had been a
something in his manner which had excited suspicion in Harry's mind. And
then Augustus had declared his purpose of offering his hand and fortune
to Florence Mountjoy. He to be suitor to Florence,--he, so soon after
Mountjoy had been banished from the scene! And why should he have been
told of it?--he, of whose love for the girl he could not but think that
Augustus Scarborough had been aware. Then, much perturbed in his mind,
he resolved, as he returned to his lodgings, that he would go down to
Cheltenham on the following day.



CHAPTER VI.

HARRY ANNESLEY TELLS HIS SECRET.


Harry hurried down to Cheltenham, hardly knowing what he was going to do
or say when he got there. He went to the hotel and dined alone. "What's
all this that's up about Captain Mountjoy?" said a stranger, coming and
whispering to him at his table.

The inquirer was almost a stranger, but Harry did know his name. It was
Mr. Baskerville, the hunting man. Mr. Baskerville was not rich, and not
especially popular, and had no special amusement but that of riding two
nags in the winter along the roads of Cheltenham in the direction which
the hounds took. It was still summer, and the nags, who had been made to
do their work in London, were picking up a little strength in idleness,
or, as Mr. Baskerville called it, getting into condition. In the mean
time Mr. Baskerville amused himself as well as he could by lying in bed
and playing lawn-tennis. He sometimes dined at the hotel, in order that
the club might think that he was entertained at friends' houses; but the
two places were nearly the same to him, as he could achieve a dinner and
half a pint of wine for five or six shillings at each of them. A more
empty existence, or, one would be inclined to say, less pleasurable, no
one could pass; but he had always a decent coat on his back and a smile
on his face, and five shillings in his pocket with which to pay for his
dinner. His asking what was up about Scarborough showed, at any rate,
that he was very backward in the world's news.

"I believe he has vanished," said Harry.

"Oh yes, of course he's vanished. Everybody knows that--he vanished ever
so long ago; but where is he?"

"If you can tell them in Scotland Yard they will be obliged to you."

"I suppose it is true the police are after him? Dear me! Forty thousand
a year! This is a very queer story about the property, isn't it?"

"I don't know the story exactly, and therefore can hardly say whether it
is queer or not."

"But about the younger son? People say that the father has contrived
that the younger son shall have the money. What I hear is that the whole
property is to be divided, and that the captain is to have half, on
conditions that he keeps out of the way. But I am sure that you know
more about it. You used to be intimate with both the brothers. I have
seen you down here with the captain. Where is he?" And again he
whispered into Harry's ear. But he could not have selected any subject
more distasteful, and, therefore, Harry repulsed Mr. Baskerville not in
the most courteous manner.

"Hang it! what airs that fellow gives himself," he said to another
friend of the same kidney. "That's young Annesley, the son of a
twopenny-halfpenny parson down in Hertfordshire. The kind of ways
these fellows put on now are unbearable. He hasn't got a horse to ride
on, but to hear him talk you'd think he was mounted three days a week."

"He's heir to old Prosper, of Buston Hall."

"How's that? But is he? I never heard that before. What's Buston Hall
worth?" Then Mr. Baskerville made up his mind to be doubly civil to
Harry Annesley the next time he saw him.

Harry had to consider on that night in what manner he would endeavor to
see Florence Mountjoy on the next day. He was thoroughly discontented
with himself as he walked about the streets of Cheltenham. He had now
not only allowed the disappearance of Scarborough to pass by without
stating when and where, and how he had last seen him, but had directly
lied on the subject. He had told the man's brother that he had not seen
him for some weeks previous, whereas to have concealed his knowledge on
such a subject was in itself held to be abominable. He was ashamed of
himself, and the more so because there was no one to whom he could talk
openly on the matter. And it seemed to him as though all whom he met
questioned him as to the man's disappearance, as if they suspected him.
What was the man to him, or the man's guilt, or his father, that he
should be made miserable? The man's attack upon him had been ferocious
in its nature,--so brutal that when he had escaped from Mountjoy
Scarborough's clutches there was nothing for him but to leave him lying
in the street where, in his drunkenness, he had fallen. And now, in
consequence of this, misery had fallen upon himself. Even this
empty-headed fellow Baskerville, a man the poverty of whose character
Harry perfectly understood, had questioned him about Mountjoy
Scarborough. It could not, he thought, be possible that Baskerville
could have had any reasons for suspicion, and yet the very sound of the
inquiry stuck in his ears.

On the next morning, at eleven o'clock, he knocked at Mrs. Mountjoy's
house in Mountpellier Place and asked for the elder lady. Mrs. Mountjoy
was out, and Harry at once inquired for Florence. The servant at first
seemed to hesitate, but at last showed Harry into the dining-room. There
he waited five minutes, which seemed to him to be half an hour, and then
Florence came to him. "Your mother is not at home," he said, putting out
his hand.

"No, Mr. Annesley, but I think she will be back soon. Will you wait for
her?"

"I do not know whether I am not glad that she should be out. Florence, I
have something that I must tell you."

"Something that you must tell me!"

He had called her Florence once before, on a happy afternoon which he
well remembered, but he was not thinking of that now. Her name, which
was always in his mind, had come to him naturally, as though he had no
time to pick and choose about names in the importance of the
communication which he had to make. "Yes. I don't believe that you were
ever really engaged to your cousin Mountjoy."

"No, I never was," she answered, briskly. Harry Annesley was certainly a
handsome man, but no young man living ever thought less of his own
beauty. He had fair, wavy hair, which he was always submitting to some
barber, very much to the unexpressed disgust of poor Florence; because
to her eyes the longer the hair grew the more beautiful was the wearer
of it. His forehead, and eyes, and nose were all perfect in their form--

  "Hyperion's curls; the front of Jove himself;
  An eye like Mars, to threaten and command."

There was a peculiar brightness in his eye, which would have seemed to
denote something absolutely great in his character had it not been for
the wavering indecision of his mouth. There was as it were a vacillation
in his lips which took away from the manliness of his physiognomy.
Florence, who regarded his face as almost divine, was yet conscious of
some weakness about his mouth which she did not know how to interpret.
But yet, without knowing why it was so, she was accustomed to expect
from him doubtful words, half expressed words, which would not declare
to her his perfected thoughts--as she would have them declared. He was
six feet high, but neither broad nor narrow, nor fat nor thin, but a
very Apollo in Florence's eye. To the elders who knew him the
quintessence of his beauty lay in the fact that he was altogether
unconscious of it. He was a man who counted nothing on his personal
appearance for the performance of those deeds which he was most anxious
to achieve. The one achievement now essentially necessary to his
happiness was the possession of Florence Mountjoy; but it certainly
never occurred to him that he was more likely to obtain this because he
was six feet high, or because his hair waved becomingly.

"I have supposed so," he said, in answer to her last assertion.

"You ought to have known it for certain. I mean to say that, had I ever
been engaged to my cousin, I should have been miserable at such a moment
as this. I never should have given him up because of the gross injustice
done to him about the property. But his disappearance in this dreadful
way would, I think, have killed me. As it is, I can think of nothing
else, because he is my cousin."

"It is very dreadful," said Harry. "Have you any idea what can have
happened to him?"

"Not in the least. Have you?"

"None at all, but--"

"But what?"

"I was the last person who saw him."

"You saw him last!"

"At least, I know no one who saw him after me."

"Have you told them?"

"I have told no one but you. I have come down here to Cheltenham on
purpose to tell you."

"Why me?" she said, as though struck with fear at such an assertion on
his part.

"I must tell some one, and I have not known whom else to tell. His
father appears not at all anxious about him. His brother I do not
altogether trust. Were I to go to these men, who are only looking after
their money, I should be communicating with his enemies. Your mother
already regards me as his enemy. If I told the police I should simply be
brought into a court of justice, where I should be compelled to mention
your name."

"Why mine?"

"I must begin the story from the beginning. One night I was coming home
in London very late, about two o'clock, when whom should I meet in the
street suddenly but Mountjoy Scarborough. It came out afterward that he
had then been gambling; but when he encountered me he was intoxicated.
He took me suddenly by the collar and shook me violently, and did his
best to maltreat me. What words were spoken I cannot remember; but his
conduct to me was as that of a savage beast. I struggled with him in the
street as a man would struggle who is attacked by a wild dog. I think
that he did not explain the cause of his hatred, though, of course, my
memory as to what took place at that moment is disturbed and imperfect;
but I did know in my heart why it was that he had quarrelled with me."

"Why was it?" Florence asked.

"Because he thought that I had ventured to love you."

"No, no!" shrieked Florence; "he could not have thought that."

"He did think so, and he was right enough. If I have never said so
before, I am bound at any rate to say it now." He paused for a moment,
but she made him no answer. "In the struggle between us he fell on the
pavement against a rail;--and then I left him."

"Well?"

"He has never been heard of since. On the following day, in the
afternoon, I left London for Buston; but nothing had been then heard of
his disappearance. I neither knew of it nor suspected it. The question
is, when others were searching for him, was I bound to go to the police
and declare what I had suffered from him that night? Why should I
connect his going with the outrage which I had suffered?"

"But why not tell it all?"

"I should have been asked why he had quarrelled with me. Ought I to have
said that I did not know? Ought I to have pretended that there was no
cause? I did know, and there was a cause. It was because he thought that
I might prevail with you, now that he was a beggar, disowned by his own
father."

"I would never have given him up for that," said Florence.

"But do you not see that your name would have been brought in,--that I
should have had to speak of you as though I thought it possible that you
loved me?" Then he paused, and Florence sat silent. But another thought
struck him now. It occurred to him that under the plea put forward he
would appear to seek shelter from his silence as to her name. He was
aware how anxious he was on his own behalf not to mention the occurrence
in the street, and it seemed that he was attempting to escape under the
pretence of a fear that her name would be dragged in. "But independently
of that I do not see why I should be subjected to the annoyance of
letting it be known that I was thus attacked in the streets. And the
time has now gone by. It did not occur to me when first he was missed
that the matter would have been of such importance. Now it is too late."

"I suppose that you ought to have told his father."

"I think that I ought to have done so. But at any rate I have come to
explain it all to you. It was necessary that I should tell some one.
There seems to be no reason to suspect that the man has been killed."

"Oh, I hope not; I hope not that."

"He has been spirited away--out of the way of his creditors. For myself
I think that it has all been done with his father's connivance. Whether
his brother be in the secret or not I cannot tell, but I suspect he is.
There seems to be no doubt that Captain Scarborough himself has run so
overhead into debt as to make the payment of his creditors impossible by
anything short of the immediate surrender of the whole property. Some
month or two since they all thought that the squire was dying, and that
there would be nothing to do but to sell the property which would then
be Mountjoy's, and pay themselves. Against this the dying man has
rebelled, and has come, as it were, out of the grave to disinherit the
son who has already contrived to disinherit himself. It is all an
effort to save Tretton."

"But it is dishonest," said Florence.

"No doubt about it. Looking at it any way it is dishonest, Either the
inheritance must belong to Mountjoy still, or it could not have been his
when he was allowed to borrow money upon it."

"I cannot understand it. I thought it was entailed upon him. Of course
it is nothing to me. It never could have been anything."

"But now the creditors declare that they have been cheated, and assert
that Mountjoy is being kept out of the way to aid old Mr. Scarborough in
the fraud. I cannot but say that I think it is so. But why he should
have attacked me just at the moment of his going, or why, rather, he
should have gone immediately after he had attacked me, I cannot say. I
have no concern whatever with him or his money, though I hope--I hope
that I may always have much with you. Oh, Florence, you surely have
known what has been within my heart."

To this appeal she made no response, but sat awhile considering what she
would say respecting Mountjoy Scarborough and his affairs.

"Am I to keep all this a secret?" she asked him at last.

"You shall consider that for yourself. I have not exacted from you any
silence on the matter. You may tell whom you please, and I shall not
consider that I have any ground of complaint against you. Of course for
my own sake I do not wish it to be told. A great injury was done me, and
I do not desire to be dragged into this, which would be another injury.
I suspect that Augustus Scarborough knows more than he pretends, and I
do not wish to be brought into the mess by his cunning. Whether you will
tell your mother you must judge yourself."

"I shall tell nobody unless you bid me." At that moment the door of the
room was opened, and Mrs. Mountjoy entered, with a frown upon her brow.
She had not yet given up all hope that Mountjoy might return, and that
the affairs of Tretton might be made to straighten themselves.

"Mamma, Mr. Annesley is here."

"So I perceive, my dear."

"I have come to your daughter to tell her how dearly I love her," said
Harry, boldly.

"Mr. Annesley, you should have come to me before speaking to my
daughter."

"Then I shouldn't have seen her at all."

"You should have left that as it might be. It is not at all a proper
thing that a young gentleman should come and address a young lady in
this way behind her only parent's back."

"I asked for you, and I did not know that you would not be at home."

"You should have gone away at once--at once. You know how terribly the
family is cut up by this great misfortune to our cousin Mountjoy.
Mountjoy Scarborough has been long engaged to Florence."

"No, mamma; no, never."

"At any rate, Mr. Annesley knows all about it. And that knowledge ought
to have kept him away at the present moment. I must beg him to leave us
now."

Then Harry took his hat and departed; but he had great consolation in
feeling that Florence had not repudiated his love, which she certainly
would have done had she not loved him in return. She had spoken no word
of absolute encouragement, but there had much more of encouragement than
of repudiation in her manner.



CHAPTER VII.

HARRY ANNESLEY GOES TO TRETTON.


Harry had promised to go down to Tretton, and when the time came
Augustus Scarborough did not allow him to escape from the visit. He
explained to him that in his father's state of health there would be no
company to entertain him; that there was only a maiden sister of his
father's staying in the house, and that he intended to take down into
the country with him one Septimus Jones, who occupied chambers on the
same floor with him in London, and whom Annesley knew to be young
Scarborough's most intimate friend. "There will be a little shooting,"
he said, "and I have bought two or three horses, which you and Jones can
ride. Cannock Chase is one of the prettiest parts of England, and as you
care for scenery you can get some amusement out of that. You'll see my
father, and hear, no doubt, what he has got to say for himself. He is
not in the least reticent in speaking of my brother's affairs." There
was a good deal in this which was not agreeable. Miss Scarborough was
sister to Mrs. Mountjoy as well as to the squire, and had been one of
the family party most anxious to assure the marriage of Florence and the
captain. The late General Mountjoy had been supposed to be a great man
in his way, but had died before Tretton had become as valuable as it was
now. Hence the eldest son had been christened with his name, and much of
the Mountjoy prestige still clung to the family. But Harry did not care
much about the family except so far as Florence was concerned. And then
he had not been on peculiarly friendly terms with Septimus Jones, who
had always been submissive to Augustus; and, now that Augustus was a
rich man and could afford to buy horses, was likely to be more
submissive than ever.

He went down to Tretton alone early in September, and when he reached
the house he found that the two young men were out shooting. He asked
for his own room, but was instead immediately taken to the old squire,
whom he found lying on a couch in a small dressing-room, while his
sister, who had been reading to him, was by his side. After the usual
greetings Harry made some awkward apology as to his intrusion at the
sick man's bedside. "Why, I ordered them to bring you in here," said the
squire; "you can't very well call that intrusion. I have no idea of
being shut up from the world before they nail me down in my coffin."

"That will be a long time first, we all hope," said his sister.

"Bother! you hope it, but I don't know that any one else does;--I don't
for one. And if I did, what's the good of hoping? I have a couple of
diseases, either of which is enough to kill a horse." Then he mentioned
his special maladies in a manner which made Harry shrink. "What are they
talking about in London just at present?" he asked.

"Just the old set of subjects," said Harry.

"I suppose they have got tired of me and my iniquities?" Harry could
only smile and shake his head. "There has been such a complication of
romances that one expects the story to run a little more than the
ordinary nine days."

"Men still do talk about Mountjoy."

"And what are they saying? Augustus declares that you are especially
interested on the subject."

"I don't know why I should be," said Harry.

"Nor I either. When a fellow becomes no longer of any service to either
man, woman, or beast, I do not know why any should take an interest in
him. I suppose you didn't lend him money?"

"I was not likely to do that, sir."

"Then I cannot conceive how it can interest you whether he be in London
or Kamtchatka. It does not interest me the least in the world. Were he
to turn up here it would be a trouble; and yet they expect me to
subscribe largely to a fund for finding him. What good could he do me if
he were found?"

"Oh, John, he is your son," said Miss Scarborough.

"And would be just as good a son as Augustus, only that he has turned
out uncommonly badly. I have not the slightest feeling in the world as
to his birth, and so I think I showed pretty plainly. But nothing could
stop him in his course, and therefore I told the truth, that's all." In
answer to this, Harry found it quite impossible to say a word, but got
away to his bedroom and dressed for dinner as quickly as possible.

While he was still thus employed Augustus came into the room still
dressed in his shooting-clothes. "So you've seen my father," he said.

"Yes, I saw him."

"And what did he say to you about Mountjoy?"

"Little or nothing that signifies. He seems to think it unreasonable
that he should be asked to pay for finding him, seeing that the
creditors expect to get the advantage of his presence when found."

"He is about right there."

"Oh yes; but still he is his father. It may be that it would be expected
that he should interest himself in finding him."

"Upon my word I don't agree with you. If a thousand a year could be paid
to keep Mountjoy out of the way I think it would be well expended."

"But you were acting with the police."

"Oh, the police! What do the police know about it? Of course I talk it
all over with them. They have not the smallest idea where the man is,
and do not know how to go to work to discover him. I don't say that my
father is judicious in his brazen-faced opposition to all inquiry. He
should pretend to be a little anxious--as I do. Not that there would be
any use now in pretending to keep up appearances. He has declared
himself utterly indifferent to the law, and has defied the world. Never
mind, old fellow, we shall eat the more dinner, only I must go and
prepare myself for it."

At dinner Harry found only Septimus Jones, Augustus Scarborough, and his
aunt. Miss Scarborough said a good deal about her brother, and declared
him to be much better. "Of course you know, Augustus, that Sir William
Brodrick was down here for two days."

"Only fancy," replied he, "what one has to pay for two days of Sir
William Brodrick in the country!"

"What can it matter?" said the generous spinster.

"It matters exactly so many hundred pounds; but no one will begrudge it
if he does so many hundred pounds' worth of good."

"It will show, at any rate, that we have had the best advice," said the
lady.

"Yes, it will show;--that is exactly what people care about. What did Sir
William say?" Then during the first half of dinner a prolonged reference
was made to Mr. Scarborough's maladies, and to Sir William's opinion
concerning them. Sir William had declared that Mr. Scarborough's
constitution was the most wonderful thing that he had ever met in his
experience. In spite of the fact that Mr. Scarborough's body was one
mass of cuts and bruises and faulty places, and that nothing would keep
him going except the wearing of machinery which he was unwilling to
wear, yet the facilities for much personal enjoyment were left to him,
and Sir William declared that, if he would only do exactly as he were
told, he might live for the next five years. "But everybody knows that
he won't do anything that he is told," said Augustus, in a tone of voice
which by no means expressed extreme sorrow.

From his father he led the conversation to the partridges, and declared
his conviction that, with a little trouble and some expense, a very good
head of game might be got up at Tretton. "I suppose it wouldn't cost
much?" said Jones, who beyond ten shillings to a game-keeper never paid
sixpence for whatever shooting came in his way.

"I don't know what you call much," said Augustus, "but I think it may be
done for three or four hundred a year. I should like to calculate how
many thousand partridges at that rate Sir William has taken back in his
pocket."

"What does it matter?" asked Miss Scarborough.

"Only as a speculation. Of course my father, while he lives, is
justified in giving his whole income to doctors if he likes it; but one
gets into a manner of speaking about him as though he had done a good
deal with his money in which he was not justified."

"Don't talk in that way, Augustus."

"My dear aunt, I am not at all inclined to be more open-mouthed than he
is. Only reflect what it was that he was disposed to do with me, and
the good-humor with which I have borne it!"

"I think I should hold my tongue about it," said Harry Annesley.

"And I think that in my place you would do no such thing. To your nature
it would be almost impossible to hold your tongue. Your sense of justice
would be so affronted that you would feel yourself compelled to discuss
the injury done to you with all your intimate friends. But with your
father your quarrel would be eternal. I made nothing of it, and, indeed,
if he pertinaciously held his tongue on the subject, so should I."

"But because he talks," said Harry, "why should you?"

"Why should he not?" said Septimus Jones. "Upon my word I don't see the
justice of it."

"I am not speaking of justice, but of feeling."

"Upon my word I wish you would hold your tongues about it; at any rate
till my back is turned," said the old lady.

Then Augustus finished the conversation. "I am determined to treat it
all as though it were a joke, and, as a joke, one to be spoken of
lightly. It was a strong measure, certainly, this attempt to rob me of
twenty or thirty thousand pounds a year. But it was done in favor of my
brother, and therefore let it pass. I am at a loss to conceive what my
father has done with his money. He hasn't given Mountjoy, at any rate,
more than a half of his income for the last five or six years, and his
own personal expenses are very small. Yet he tells me that he has the
greatest difficulty in raising a thousand pounds, and positively refuses
in his present difficulties to add above five hundred a year to my
former allowance. No father who had thoroughly done his duty by his son,
could speak in a more fixed and austere manner. And yet he knows that
every shilling will be mine as soon as he goes." The servant who was
waiting upon them had been in and out of the room while this was said,
and must have heard much of it. But to that Augustus seemed to be quite
indifferent. And, indeed, the whole family story was known to every
servant in the house. It is true that gentlemen and ladies who have
servants do not usually wish to talk about their private matters before
all the household, even though the private matters may be known; but
this household was unlike all others in that respect. There was not a
housemaid about the rooms or a groom in the stables who did not know how
terrible a reprobate their master had been.

"You will see your father before you go to bed?" Miss Scarborough said
to her nephew as she left the room.

"Certainly, if he will send to say that he wishes it."

"He does wish it, most anxiously."

"I believe that to be your imagination. At any rate, I will come--say in
an hour's time. He would be just as pleased to see Harry Annesley, for
the matter of that, or Mr. Grey, or the inspector of police. Any one
whom he could shock, or pretend to shock, by the peculiarity of his
opinions, would do as well." By that time, however, Miss Scarborough had
left the room.

Then the three men sat and talked, and discussed the affairs of the
family generally. New leases had just been granted for adding
manufactories to the town of Tretton: and as far as outward marks of
prosperity went all was prosperous. "I expect to have a water-mill on
the lawn before long," said Augustus. "These mechanics have it all their
own way. If they were to come and tell me that they intended to put up a
wind-mill in my bedroom to-morrow morning, I could only take off my hat
to them. When a man offers you five per cent. where you've only had
four, he is instantly your lord and master. It doesn't signify how
vulgar he is, or how insolent, or how exacting. Associations of the
tenderest kind must all give way to trade. But the shooting which lies
to the north and west of us is, I think, safe for the present. I suppose
I must go and see what my father wants, or I shall be held to have
neglected my duty to my affectionate parent."

"Capital fellow, Augustus Scarborough," said Jones, as soon as their
host had left them.

"I was at Cambridge with him, and he was popular there."

"He'll be more popular now that he's the heir to Tretton. I don't know
any fellow that I can get along better with than Scarborough. I think
you were a little hard upon him about his father, you know."

"In his position he ought to hold his tongue."

"It's the strangest thing that has turned up in the whole course of my
experience. You see, if he didn't talk about it people wouldn't quite
understand what it was that his father has done. It's only matter of
report now, and the creditors, no doubt, do believe that when old
Scarborough goes off the hooks they will be able to walk in and take
possession. He has got to make the world think that he is the heir, and
that will go a long way. You may be sure he doesn't talk as he does
without having a reason for it. He's the last man I know to do anything
without a reason."

The evening dragged along very slowly while Jones continued to tell all
that he knew of his friend's character. But Augustus Scarborough did not
return, and soon after ten o'clock, when Harry Annesley could smoke no
more cigars, and declared that he had no wish to begin upon
brandy-and-water after his wine, he went to his bed.



CHAPTER VIII.

HARRY ANNESLEY TAKES A WALK.


"There was the devil to pay with my father last night after I went to
him," said Scarborough to Harry next morning. "He now and then suffers
agonies of pain, and it is the most difficult thing in the world to get
him right again. But anything equal to his courage I never before met."

"How is he this morning?"

"Very weak and unable to exert himself. But I cannot say that he is
otherwise much the worse. You won't see him this morning; but to-morrow
you will, or next day. Don't you be shy about going to him when he sends
for you. He likes to show the world that he can bear his sufferings with
a light heart, and is ready to die to-morrow without a pang or a regret.
Who was the fellow who sent for a fellow to let him see how a Christian
could die? I can fancy my father doing the same thing, only there would
be nothing about Christianity in the message. He would bid you come and
see a pagan depart in peace, and would be very unhappy if he thought
that your dinner would be disturbed by the ceremony. Now come down to
breakfast, and then we'll go out shooting."

For three days Harry remained at Tretton, and ate and drank, and shot
and rode, always in young Scarborough's company. During this time he did
not see the old squire, and understood from Miss Scarborough's absence
that he was still suffering from his late attack. The visit was to be
prolonged for one other day, and he was told that on that day the squire
would send for him. "I'm sick of these eternal partridges," said
Augustus. "No man should ever shoot partridges two days running. Jones
can go out by himself. He won't have to tip the game-keeper any more for
an additional day, and so it will be all gain to him. You'll see my
father in the afternoon after lunch, and we will go and take a walk
now."

Harry started for his walk, and his companion immediately began again
about the property. "I'm beginning to think," said he, "that it's nearly
all up with the governor. These attacks come upon him worse and worse,
and always leave him absolutely prostrate. Then he will do nothing to
prevent them. To assure himself a week of life, he will not endure an
hour of discomfort. It is plucky, you know."

"He is in all respects as brave a man as I have known."

"He sets God and man at absolute defiance, and always does it with the
most profound courtesy. If he goes to the infernal regions he will
insist upon being the last of the company to enter the door. And he will
be prepared with something good-humored to say as soon as he has been
ushered in. He was very much troubled about you yesterday."

"What has he to say of me?"

"Nothing in the least uncivil; but he has an idea in his head which
nothing on earth will put out of it, and in which, but for your own
word, I should be inclined to agree." Harry, when this was said, stood
still on the mountain-side, and looked full into his companion's face.
He felt at the moment that the idea had some reference to Mountjoy
Scarborough and his disappearance. They were together on the heathy,
unenclosed ground of Cannock Chase, and had already walked some ten or
twelve miles. "He thinks you know where Mountjoy is."

"Why should I know?"

"Or at any rate that you have seen him since any of us. He professes not
to care a straw for Mountjoy or his whereabouts, and declares himself
under obligation to those who have contrived his departure.
Nevertheless, he is curious."

"What have I to do with Mountjoy Scarborough?"

"That's just the question. What have you to do with him? He suggests
that there have been words between you as to Florence, which has caused
Mountjoy to vanish. I don't profess to explain anything beyond
that,--nor, indeed, do I profess to agree with my father. But the odd
thing is that Prodgers, the policeman, has the same thing running in his
head."

"Because I have shown some anxiety about your brother in Scotland Yard."

"No doubt; Prodgers says that you've shown more anxiety than was to be
expected from a mere acquaintance. I quite acknowledge that Prodgers is
as thick-headed an idiot as you shall catch on a summer's day; but
that's his opinion. For myself, I know your word too well to doubt it."
Harry walked on in silence, thinking, or trying to think, what, on the
spur of the moment, he had better do. He was minded to speak out the
whole truth, and declare to himself that it was nothing to him what
Augustus Scarborough might say or think. And there was present to him a
feeling that his companion was dealing unfairly with him, and was
endeavoring in some way to trap him and lead him into a difficulty. But
he had made up his mind, as it were, not to know anything of Mountjoy
Scarborough, and to let those five minutes in the street be as though
they had never been. He had been brutally attacked, and had thought it
best to say nothing on the subject. He would not allow his secret, such
as it was, to be wormed out of him. Scarborough was endeavoring to
extort from him that which he had resolved to conceal; and he determined
at last that he would not become a puppet in his hands. "I don't see why
you should care a straw about it," said Scarborough.

"Nor do I."

"At any rate you repeat your denial. It will be well that I should let
my father know that he is mistaken, and also that ass Prodgers. Of
course, with my father it is sheer curiosity. Indeed, if he thought that
you were keeping Mountjoy under lock and key, he would only admire your
dexterity in so preserving him. Any bold line of action that was
contrary to the law recommends itself to his approbation. But Prodgers
has a lurking idea that he should like to arrest you."

"What for?"

"Simply because he thinks you know something that he doesn't know. As
he's a detective, that, in his mind, is quite enough for arresting any
man. I may as well give him my assurance, then, that he is mistaken."

"Why should your assurance go for more than mine? Give him nothing of
the kind."

"I may give him, at any rate, my assurance that I believe your word."

"If you do believe it, you can do so."

"But you repeat your assertion that you saw nothing of Mountjoy just
before his disappearance?"

"This is an amount of cross-questioning which I do not take in good
part, and to which I will not submit." Here Scarborough affected to
laugh loudly. "I know nothing of your brother, and care almost as
little. He has professed to admire a young lady to whom I am not
indifferent, and has, I believe, expressed a wish to make her his wife.
He is also her cousin, and the lady in question has, no doubt, been much
interested about him. It is natural that she should be so."

"Quite natural--seeing that she has been engaged to him for twelve
months."

"Of that I know nothing. But my interest about your brother has been
because of her. You can explain all this about your brother if you
please, or can let it alone. But for myself, I decline to answer any
more questions. If Prodgers thinks that he can arrest me, let him come
and try."

"The idea of your flying into a passion because I have endeavored to
explain it all to you! At any rate I have your absolute denial, and that
will enable me to deal both with my father and Prodgers." To this Harry
made no answer, and the two young men walked back to Tretton together
without many more words between them.

When Harry had been in the house about half an hour, and had already
eaten his lunch, somewhat sulkily, a message came to him from Miss
Scarborough requiring his presence. He went to her, and was told by her
that Mr. Scarborough would now see him. He was aware that Mr.
Scarborough never saw Septimus Jones, and that there was something
peculiar in the sending of this message to him. Why should the man who
was supposed to have but a few weeks to live be so anxious to see one
who was comparatively a stranger to him? "I am so glad you have come in
before dinner, Mr. Annesley, because my brother is so anxious to see
you, and I am afraid you'll go too early in the morning." Then he
followed her, and again found Mr. Scarborough on a couch in the same
room to which he had been first introduced.

"I've had a sharp bout of it since I saw you before," said the sick man.

"So we heard, sir."

"There is no saying how many or rather how few bouts of this kind it
will take to polish me off. But I think I am entitled to some little
respite now. The apothecary from Tretton was here this morning, and I
believe has done me just as much good as Sir William Brodrick. His
charge will be ten shillings, while Sir William demanded three hundred
pounds. But it would be mean to go out with no one but the Tretton
apothecary to look after one."

"I suppose Sir William's knowledge has been of some service."

"His dexterity with his knife has been of more. So you and Augustus have
been quarrelling about Mountjoy?"

"Not that I know of."

"He says so; and I believe his word on such a subject sooner than yours.
You are likely to quarrel without knowing it, and he is not. He thinks
that you know what has become of Mountjoy."

"Does he? Why should he think so, when I told him that I know nothing? I
tell you that I know absolutely nothing. I am ignorant whether he is
dead or alive."

"He is not dead," said the father.

"I suppose not; but I know nothing about him. Why your second son--"

"You mean my eldest according to law,--or rather my only son!"

"Why Augustus Scarborough," continued Harry Annesley, "should take upon
himself to suspect that I know aught of his brother I cannot say. He has
some cock-and-bull story about a policeman whom he professes to believe
to be ignorant of his own business. This policeman, he says, is anxious
to arrest me."

"To make you give evidence before a magistrate," said his father.

"He did not dare to tell me that he suspected me himself."

"There;--I knew you had quarrelled."

"I deny it altogether. I have not quarrelled with Augustus Scarborough.
He is welcome to his suspicions if he chooses to entertain them. I
should have liked him better if he had not brought me down to Tretton,
so as to extract from me whatever he can. I shall be more guarded in
future in speaking of Mountjoy Scarborough; but to you I give my
positive assurance, which I do not doubt you will believe, that I know
nothing respecting him." An honest indignation gleamed in his eyes as he
spoke; but still there were the signs of that vacillation about his
mouth which Florence had been able to read, but not to interpret.

"Yes," said the squire, after a pause, "I believe you. You haven't that
kind of ingenuity which enables a man to tell a lie and stick to it. I
have. It's a very great gift if a man be enabled to restrain his
appetite for lying." Harry could only smile when he heard the squire's
confession. "Only think how I have lied about Mountjoy; and how
successful my lies might have been, but for his own folly!"

"People do judge you a little harshly now," said Harry.

"What's the odd's? I care nothing for their judgment; I endeavored to do
justice to my own child, and very nearly did it. I was very nearly
successful in rectifying the gross injustice of the world. Why should a
little delay in a ceremony in which he had no voice have robbed him of
his possessions? I determined that he should have Tretton, and I
determined also to make it up to Augustus by denying myself the use of
my own wealth. Things have gone wrongly not by my own folly. I could not
prevent the mad career which Mountjoy has run; but do you think that I
am ashamed because the world knows what I have done? Do you suppose my
death-bed will be embittered by the remembrance that I have been a liar?
Not in the least. I have done the best I could for my two sons, and in
doing it have denied myself many advantages. How many a man would have
spent his money on himself, thinking nothing of his boys, and then have
gone to his grave with all the dignity of a steady Christian father! Of
the two men I prefer myself; but I know that I have been a liar."

What was Harry Annesley to say in answer to such an address as this?
There was the man, stretched on his bed before him, haggard, unshaved,
pale, and grizzly, with a fire in his eyes, but weakness in his
voice,--bold, defiant, self-satisfied, and yet not selfish. He had lived
through his life with the one strong resolution of setting the law at
defiance in reference to the distribution of his property; but chiefly
because he had thought the law to be unjust. Then, when the accident of
his eldest son's extravagance had fallen upon him, he had endeavored to
save his second son, and had thought, without the slightest remorse, of
the loss which was to fall on the creditors. He had done all this in
such a manner that, as far as Harry knew, the law could not touch him,
though all the world was aware of his iniquity. And now he lay boasting
of what he had done. It was necessary that Harry should say something as
he rose from his seat, and he lamely expressed a wish that Mr.
Scarborough might quickly recover. "No, my dear fellow," said the
squire; "men do not recover when they are brought to such straits as I
am in. Nor do I wish it. Were I to live, Augustus would feel the second
injustice to be quite intolerable. His mind is lost in amazement at what
I had contemplated. And he feels that the matter can only be set right
between him and fortune by my dying at once. If he were to understand
that I were to live ten years longer, I think that he would either
commit a murder or lose his senses."

"But there is enough for both of you," said Harry.

"There is no such word in the language as enough. An estate can have but
one owner, and Augustus is anxious to be owner here. I do not blame him
in the least. Why should he desire to spare a father's rights when that
father showed himself so willing to sacrifice his? Good-bye, Annesley; I
am sorry you are going, for I like to have some honest fellow to talk
to. You are not to suppose that because I have done this thing I am
indifferent to what men shall say of me. I wish them to think me good,
though I have chosen to run counter to the prejudices of the world."

Then Harry escaped from the room, and spent the remaining evening with
Augustus Scarborough and Septimus Jones. The conversation was devoted
chiefly to the partridges and horses; and was carried on by Septimus
with severity toward Harry, and by Scarborough with an extreme civility
which was the more galling of the two.



CHAPTER IX.

AUGUSTUS HAS HIS OWN DOUBTS.


"That's an impertinent young puppy," said Septimus Jones as soon as the
fly which was to carry Harry Annesley to the station had left the
hall-door on the following morning. It may be presumed that Mr. Jones
would not thus have expressed himself unless his friend Augustus
Scarborough had dropped certain words in conversation in regard to Harry
to the same effect. And it may be presumed also that Augustus would not
have dropped such words without a purpose of letting his friend know
that Harry was to be abused. Augustus Scarborough had made up his mind,
looking at the matter all round, that more was to be got by abusing
Harry than by praising him.

"The young man has a good opinion of himself certainly."

"He thinks himself to be a deal better than anybody else," continued
Jones, "whereas I for one don't see it. And he has a way with him of
pretending to be quite equal to his companions, let them be who they
may, which to me is odious. He was down upon you and down upon your
father. Of course your father has made a most fraudulent attempt; but
what the devil is it to him?" The other young man made no answer, but
only smiled. The opinion expressed by Mr. Jones as to Harry Annesley had
only been a reflex of that felt by Augustus Scarborough. But the reflex,
as is always the case when the looking-glass is true, was correct.

Scarborough had known Harry Annesley for a long time, as time is counted
in early youth, and had by degrees learned to hate him thoroughly. He
was a little the elder, and had at first thought to domineer over his
friend. But the friend had resisted, and had struggled manfully to
achieve what he considered an equality in friendship. "Now, Scarborough,
you may as well take it once for all that I am not going to be talked
down. If you want to talk a fellow down you can go to Walker, Brown, or
Green. Then when you are tired of the occupation you can come back to
me." It was thus that Annesley had been wont to address his friend. But
his friend had been anxious to talk down this special young man for
special purposes, and had been conscious of some weakness in the other's
character which he thought entitled him to do so. But the weakness was
not of that nature, and he had failed. Then had come the rivalry between
Mountjoy and Harry, which had seemed to Augustus to be the extreme of
impudence. From of old he had been taught to regard his brother Mountjoy
as the first of young men--among commoners; the first in prospects and
the first in rank; and to him Florence Mountjoy had been allotted as a
bride. How he had himself learned first to envy and then to covet this
allotted bride need not here be told. But by degrees it had come to pass
that Augustus had determined that his spendthrift brother should fall
under his own power, and that the bride should be the reward. How it was
that two brothers, so different in character, and yet so alike in their
selfishness, should have come to love the same girl with a true
intensity of purpose, and that Harry Annesley, whose character was
essentially different, and who was in no degree selfish, should have
loved her also, must be left to explain itself as the girl's character
shall be developed. But Florence Mountjoy had now for many months been
the cause of bitter dislike against poor Harry in the mind of Augustus
Scarborough. He understood much more clearly than his brother had done
who it was that the girl really preferred. He was ever conscious, too,
of his own superiority,--falsely conscious,--and did feel that if Harry's
character were really known, no girl would in truth prefer him. He
could not quite see Harry with Florence's eyes nor could he see himself
with any other eyes but his own.

Then had come the meeting between Mountjoy and Harry Annesley in the
street, of which he had only such garbled account as Mountjoy himself
had given him within half an hour afterward. From that story, told in
the words of a drunken man,--a man drunk, and bruised, and bloody, who
clearly did not understand in one minute the words spoken in the
last,--Augustus did learn that there had been some great row between his
brother and Harry Annesley. Then Mountjoy had disappeared,--had
disappeared, as the reader will have understood, with his brother's
co-operation,--and Harry had not come forward, when inquiries were made,
to declare what he knew of the occurrences of that night. Augustus had
narrowly watched his conduct, in order at first that he might learn in
what condition his brother had been left in the street, but afterward
with the purpose of ascertaining why it was that Harry had been so
reticent. Then he had allured Harry on to a direct lie, and soon
perceived that he could afterward use the secret for his own purpose.

"I think we shall have to see what that young man's about, you know," he
said afterward to Septimus Jones.

"Yes, yes, certainly," said Septimus. But Septimus did not quite
understand why it was that they should have to see what the young man
was about.

"Between you and me, I think he means to interfere with me, and I do not
mean to stand his interference."

"I should think not."

"He must go back to Buston, among the Bustonians, or he and I will have
a stand-up fight of it. I rather like a stand-up fight."

"Just so. When a fellow's so bumptious as that he ought to be licked."

"He has lied about Mountjoy," said Augustus. Then Jones waited to be
told how it was that Harry had lied. He was aware that there was some
secret unknown to him, and was anxious to be informed. Was Harry aware
of Mountjoy's hiding-place, and if so, how had he learned it? Why was it
that Harry should be acquainted with that which was dark to all the
world besides? Jones was of opinion that the squire knew all about it,
and thought it not improbable that the squire and Augustus had the
secret in their joint keeping. But if so, how should Harry Annesley know
anything about it? "He has lied like the very devil," continued
Augustus, after a pause.

"Has he, now?"

"And I don't mean to spare him."

"I should think not." Then there was a pause, at the end of which Jones
found himself driven to ask a question: "How has he lied?" Augustus
smiled and shook his head, from which the other man gathered that he was
not now to be told the nature of the lie in question. "A fellow that
lies like that," said Jones, "is not to be endured."

"I do not mean to endure him. You have heard of a young lady named Miss
Mountjoy, a cousin of ours?"

"Mountjoy's Miss Mountjoy?" suggested Jones.

"Yes, Mountjoy's Miss Mountjoy. That, of course, is over. Mountjoy has
brought himself to such a pass that he is not entitled to have a Miss
Mountjoy any longer. It seems the proper thing that she shall pass, with
the rest of the family property, to the true heir."

"You marry her!"

"We need not talk about that just at present. I don't know that I've
made up my mind. At any rate, I do not intend that Harry Annesley shall
have her."

"I should think not."

"He's a pestilential cur, that has got himself introduced into the
family, and the sooner we get quit of him the better. I should think the
young lady would hardly fancy him when she knows that he has lied like
the very devil, with the object of getting her former lover out of the
way."

"By Jove, no, I should think not!"

"And when the world comes to understand that Harry Annesley, in the
midst of all these inquiries, knows all about poor Mountjoy,--was the
last to see him in London,--and has never come forward to say a word
about him, then I think the world will be a little hard upon the
immaculate Harry Annesley. His own uncle has quarrelled with him
already."

"What uncle?"

"The gentleman down in Hertfordshire, on the strength of whose acres
Master Harry is flaunting it about in idleness. I have my eyes open and
can see as well as another. When Harry lectures me about my father and
my father about me, one would suppose that there's not a hole in his own
coat. I think he'll find that the garment is not altogether
water-tight." Then Augustus, finding that he had told as much as was
needful to Septimus Jones, left his friend and went about his own family
business.

On the next morning Septimus Jones took his departure, and on the day
following Augustus followed him. "So you're off?" his father said to
him when he came to make his adieux.

"Well, yes; I suppose so. A man has got so many things to look after
which he can't attend to down here."

"I don't know what they are, but you understand it all. I'm not going to
ask you to stay. Does it ever occur to you that you may never see me
again?"

"What a question!"

"It's one that requires an answer, at any rate."

"It does occur to me; but not at all as probable."

"Why not probable?"

"Because there's a telegraph wire from Tretton to London; and because
the journey down here is very short. It also occurs to me to think so
from what has been said by Sir William Brodrick. Of course any man may
die suddenly."

"Especially when the surgeons have been at him."

"You have your sister with you, sir, and she will be of more comfort to
you than I can be. Your condition is in some respects an advantage to
you. These creditors of Mountjoy can't force their way in upon you."

"You are wrong there."

"They have not done so."

"Nor should they, though I were as strong as you. What are Mountjoy's
creditors to me? They have not a scrap of my handwriting in their
possession. There is not one who can say that he has even a verbal
promise from me. They never came to me when they wanted to lend him
money at fifty per cent. Did they ever hear me say that he was my heir?"

"Perhaps not."

"Not one has ever heard it. It was not to them I lied, but to you and to
Grey. D---- the creditors! What do I care for them, though they be all
ruined?"

"Not in the least."

"Why do you talk to me about the creditors? You, at any rate, know the
truth." Then Augustus quitted the room, leaving his father in a passion.
But, as a fact, he was by no means assured as to the truth. He supposed
that he was the heir; but might it not be possible that his father had
contrived all this so as to save the property from Mountjoy and that
greedy pack of money-lenders? Grey must surely know the truth. But why
should not Grey be deceived on the second event as well as the first.
There was no limit, Augustus sometimes thought, to his father's
cleverness. This idea had occurred to him within the last week, and his
mind was tormented with reflecting what might yet be his condition. But
of one thing he was sure, that his father and Mountjoy were not in
league together. Mountjoy at any rate believed himself to have been
disinherited. Mountjoy conceived that his only chance of obtaining money
arose from his brother. The circumstances of Mountjoy's absence were, at
any rate, unknown to his father.



CHAPTER X.

SIR MAGNUS MOUNTJOY.


It was the peculiarity of Florence Mountjoy that she did not expect
other people to be as good as herself. It was not that she erected for
herself a high standard and had then told herself that she had no right
to demand from others one so exalted. She had erected nothing. Nor did
she know that she attempted to live by grand rules. She had no idea that
she was better than anybody else; but it came to her naturally as the
result of what had gone before, to be unselfish, generous, trusting, and
pure. These may be regarded as feminine virtues, and may be said to be
sometimes tarnished, by faults which are equally feminine. Unselfishness
may become want of character; generosity essentially unjust; confidence
may be weak, and purity insipid. Here it was that the strength of
Florence Mountjoy asserted itself. She knew well what was due to
herself, though she would not claim it. She could trust to another, but
in silence be quite sure of herself. Though pure herself, she was rarely
shocked by the ways of others. And she was as true as a man pretends to
be.

In figure, form, and face she never demanded immediate homage by the
sudden flash of her beauty. But when her spell had once fallen on a
man's spirit it was not often that he could escape from it quickly. When
she spoke a peculiar melody struck the hearer's ears. Her voice was soft
and low and sweet, and full at all times of harmonious words; but when
she laughed it was like soft winds playing among countless silver bells.
There was something in her touch which to men was almost divine. Of this
she was all unconscious, but was as chary with her fingers as though it
seemed that she could ill spare her divinity.

In height she was a little above the common, but it was by the grace of
her movements that the world was compelled to observe her figure. There
are women whose grace is so remarkable as to demand the attention of
all. But then it is known of them, and momentarily seen, that their
grace is peculiar. They have studied their graces, and the result is
there only too evident. But Florence seemed to have studied nothing. The
beholder felt that she must have been as graceful when playing with her
doll in the nursery. And it was the same with her beauty. There was no
peculiarity of chiselled features. Had you taken her face and measured
it by certain rules, you would have found that her mouth was too large
and her nose irregular. Of her teeth she showed but little, and in her
complexion there was none of that pellucid clearness in which men
ordinarily delight. But her eyes were more than ordinarily bright, and
when she laughed there seemed to stream from them some heavenly delight.
When she did laugh it was as though some spring had been opened from
which ran for the time a stream of sweetest intimacy. For the time you
would then fancy that you had been let into the inner life of this girl,
and would be proud of yourself that so much should have been granted
you. You would feel that there was something also in yourself in that
this should have been permitted. Her hair and eyebrows were dark brown,
of the hue most common to men and women, and had in them nothing that
was peculiar; but her hair was soft and smooth and ever well dressed,
and never redolent of peculiar odors. It was simply Florence Mountjoy's
hair, and that made it perfect in the eyes of her male friends
generally.

"She's not such a wonderful beauty, after all," once said of her a
gentleman to whom it may be presumed that she had not taken the trouble
to be peculiarly attractive. "No," said another,--"no. But, by George! I
shouldn't like to have the altering of her." It was thus that men
generally felt in regard to Florence Mountjoy. When they came to reckon
her up they did not see how any change was to be made for the better.

To Florence, as to most other girls, the question of her future life had
been a great trouble. Whom should she marry? and whom should she decline
to marry? To a girl, when it is proposed to her suddenly to change
everything in life, to go altogether away and place herself under the
custody of a new master, to find for herself a new home, new pursuits,
new aspirations, and a strange companion, the change must be so
complete as almost to frighten her by its awfulness. And yet it has to
be always thought of, and generally done.

But this change had been presented to Florence in a manner more than
ordinarily burdensome. Early in life, when naturally she would not have
begun to think seriously of marriage, she had been told rather than
asked to give herself to her cousin Mountjoy. She was too firm of
character to accede at once--to deliver herself over body and soul to
the tender mercies of one, in truth, unknown. But she had been unable to
interpose any reason that was valid, and had contented herself by
demanding time. Since that there had been moments in which she had
almost yielded. Mountjoy Scarborough had been so represented to her that
she had considered it to be almost a duty to yield. More than once the
word had been all but spoken; but the word had never been spoken. She
had been subjected to what might be called cruel pressure. In season and
out of season her mother had represented as a duty this marriage with
her cousin. Why should she not marry her cousin? It must be understood
that these questions had been asked before any of the terrible facts of
Captain Scarborough's life had been made known to her. Because, it may
be said, she did not love him. But in these days she had loved no man,
and was inclined to think so little of herself as to make her want of
love no necessary bar to the accomplishment of the wish of others. By
degrees she was spoken of among their acquaintance as the promised bride
of Mountjoy Scarborough, and though she ever denied the imputation,
there came over her girl's heart a feeling,--very sad and very solemn,
but still all but accepted,--that so it must be. Then Harry Annesley had
crossed her path, and the question had been at last nearly answered, and
the doubts nearly decided. She did not quite know at first that she
loved Harry Annesley, but was almost sure that it was impossible for her
to become the wife of Mountjoy Scarborough.

Then there came nearly twelve months of most painful uncertainty in her
life. It is very hard for a young girl to have to be firm with her
mother in declining a proposed marriage, when all circumstances of the
connection are recommended to her as being peculiarly alluring. And
there was nothing in the personal manners of her cousin which seemed to
justify her in declaring her abhorrence. He was a dark, handsome,
military-looking man, whose chief sin it was in the eyes of his cousin
that he seemed to demand from her affection, worship, and obedience. She
did not analyse his character, but she felt it. And when it came to
pass that tidings of his debts at last reached her, she felt that she
was glad of an excuse, though she knew that the excuse would not have
prevailed with her had she liked him. Then came his debts, and with the
knowledge of them a keener perception of his imperiousness. She could
consent to become the wife of the man who had squandered his property
and wasted his estate; but not of one who before his marriage demanded
of her that submission which, as she thought, should be given by her
freely after her marriage. Harry Annesley glided into her heart after a
manner very different from this. She knew that he adored her, but yet he
did not hasten to tell her so. She knew that she loved him, but she
doubted whether a time would ever come in which she could confess it. It
was not till he had come to acknowledge the trouble to which Mountjoy
had subjected him that he had ever ventured to speak plainly of his own
passion, and even then he had not asked for a reply. She was still free,
as she thought of all this, but she did at last tell herself that, let
her mother say what she would, she certainly never would stand at the
altar with her cousin Mountjoy.

Even now, when the captain had been declared not to be his father's
heir, and when all the world knew that he had disappeared from the face
of the earth, Mrs. Mountjoy did not altogether give him up. She partly
disbelieved her brother, and partly thought that circumstances could not
be so bad as they were described.

To her feminine mind,--to her, living, not in the world of London, but in
the very moderate fashion of Cheltenham,--it seemed to be impossible that
an entail should be thus blighted in the bud. Why was an entail called
an entail unless it were ineradicable,--a decision of fate rather than of
man and of law? And to her eyes Mountjoy Scarborough was so commanding
that all things must at last be compelled to go as he would have them.
And, to tell the truth, there had lately come to Mrs. Mountjoy a word of
comfort, which might be necessary if the world should be absolutely
upset in accordance with the wicked skill of her brother, which even in
that case might make crooked things smooth. Augustus, whom she had
regarded always as quite a Mountjoy, because of his talent, and
appearance, and habit of command, had whispered to her a word. Why
should not Florence be transferred with the remainder of the property?
There was something to Mrs. Mountjoy's feelings base in the idea at the
first blush of it. She did not like to be untrue to her gallant nephew.
But as she came to turn it in her mind there were certain circumstances
which recommended the change to her--should the change be necessary.
Florence certainly had expressed an unintelligible objection to the
elder brother. Why should the younger not be more successful? Mrs.
Mountjoy's heart had begun to droop within her as she had thought that
her girl would prove deaf to the voice of the charmer. Another charmer
had come, most objectionable in her sight, but to him no word of
absolute encouragement had, as she thought, been yet spoken. Augustus
had already obtained for himself among his friends the character of an
eloquent young lawyer. Let him come and try his eloquence on his
cousin,--only let it first be ascertained, as an assured fact, and beyond
the possibility of all retrogression, that the squire's villainy was
certain.

"I think, my love," she said to her daughter one day, "that, under the
immediate circumstances of the family, we should retire for a while into
private life." This occurred on the very day on which Septimus Jones had
been vaguely informed of the iniquitous falsehood of Harry Annesley.

"Good gracious, mamma, is not our life always private?" She had
understood it all,--that the private life was intended altogether to
exclude Harry, but was to be made open to the manoeuvres of her cousin,
such as they might be.

"Not in the sense in which I mean. Your poor uncle is dying."

"We hear that Sir William says he is better."

"I fear, nevertheless, that he is dying,--though it may, perhaps, take a
long time. And then poor Mountjoy has disappeared. I think that we
should see no one till the mystery about Mountjoy has been cleared up.
And then the story is so very discreditable."

"I do not see that that is an affair of ours," said Florence, who had no
desire to be shut up just at the present moment.

"We cannot help ourselves. This making his eldest son out to be--oh,
something so very different--is too horrible to be thought of. I am told
that nobody knows the truth."

"We at any rate are not implicated in that."

"But we are. He at any rate is my brother, and Mountjoy is my nephew,--or
at any rate was. Poor Augustus is thrown into terrible difficulties."

"I am told that he is greatly pleased at finding that Tretton is to
belong to him."

"Who tells you that? You have no right to believe anything about such
near relatives from any one. Whoever told you so has been very wicked."
Mrs. Mountjoy no doubt thought that this wicked communication had been
made by Harry Annesley. "Augustus has always proved himself to be
affectionate and respectful to his elder brother, that is, to his
brother who is--is older than himself," added Mrs. Mountjoy, feeling
that there was a difficulty in expressing herself as to the presumed
condition of the two Scarboroughs, "Of course he would rather be owner
of Tretton than let any one else have it, if you mean that. The honor of
the family is very much to him."

"I do not know that the family can have any honor left," said Florence,
severely.

"My dear, you have no right to say that. The Scarboroughs have always
held their heads very high in Staffordshire, and more so of late than
ever. I don't mean quite of late, but since Tretton became of so much
importance. Now, I'll tell you what I think we had better do. We'll go
and spend six weeks with your uncle at Brussels. He has always been
pressing us to come."

"Oh, mamma, he does not want us."

"How can you say that? How do you know?"

"I am sure Sir Magnus will not care for our coming now. Besides, how
could that be retiring into private life? Sir Magnus, as ambassador, has
his house always full of company."

"My dear, he is not ambassador. He is minister plenipotentiary. It is
not quite the same thing. And then he is our nearest relative,--our
nearest, at least, since my own brother has made this great separation,
of course. We cannot go to him to be out of the way of himself."

"Why do you want to go anywhere, mamma? Why not stay at home?" But
Florence pleaded in vain as her mother had already made up her mind.
Before that day was over she succeeded in making her daughter understand
that she was to be taken to Brussels as soon as an answer could be
received from Sir Magnus and the necessary additions were made to their
joint wardrobe.

Sir Magnus Mountjoy, the late general's elder brother, had been for the
last four or five years the English minister at Brussels. He had been
minister somewhere for a very long time, so that the memory of man
hardly ran back beyond it, and was said to have gained for himself very
extensive popularity. It had always been a point with successive
governments to see that poor Sir Magnus got something, and Sir Magnus
had never been left altogether in the cold. He was not a man who would
have been left out in the cold in silence, and perhaps the feeling that
such was the case had been as efficacious on his behalf as his
well-attested popularity. At any rate, poor Sir Magnus had always been
well placed, and was now working out his last year or two before the
blessed achievement of his pursuit should have been reached. Sir Magnus
had a wife of whom it was said at home that she was almost as popular as
her husband; but the opinion of the world at Brussels on this subject
was a good deal divided. There were those who declared that Lady
Mountjoy was of all women the most overbearing and impertinent. But they
were generally English residents at Brussels, who had come to live there
as a place at which education for their children would be cheaper than
at home. Of these Lady Mountjoy had been heard to declare that she saw
no reason why, because she was the minister's wife, she should be
expected to entertain all the second-class world of London. This, of
course, must be understood with a good deal of allowance, as the English
world at Brussels was much too large to expect to be so received; but
there were certain ladies living on the confines of high society who
thought that they had a right to be admitted, and who grievously
resented their exclusion. It cannot, therefore, be said that Lady
Mountjoy was popular; but she was large in figure, and painted well, and
wore her diamonds with an air which her peculiar favorites declared to
be majestic. You could not see her going along the boulevards in her
carriage without being aware that a special personage was passing. Upon
the whole, it may be said that she performed well her special role in
life. Of Sir Magnus it was hinted that he was afraid of his wife; but in
truth he desired it to be understood that all the disagreeable things
done at the Embassy were done by Lady Mountjoy, and not by him. He did
not refuse leave to the ladies to drop their cards at his hall-door. He
could ask a few men to his table without referring the matter to his
wife; but every one would understand that the asking of ladies was based
on a different footing.

He knew well that as a rule it was not fitting that he should ask a
married man without his wife; but there are occasions on which an excuse
can be given, and upon the whole the men liked it. He was a stout, tall,
portly old gentleman, sixty years of age, but looking somewhat older,
whom it was a difficulty to place on horseback, but who, when there,
looked remarkably well. He rarely rose to a trot during his two hours of
exercise, which to the two attaché's who were told off for the duty of
accompanying him was the hardest part of their allotted work. But other
gentlemen would lay themselves out to meet Sir Magnus and to ride with
him, and in this way he achieved that character for popularity which had
been a better aid to him in life than all the diplomatic skill which he
possessed.

"What do you think?" said he, walking off with Mrs. Mountjoy's letter
into his wife's room.

"I don't think anything, my dear."

"You never do." Lady Mountjoy, who had not yet undergone her painting,
looked cross and ill-natured. "At any rate, Sarah and her daughter are
proposing to come here."

"Good gracious! At once?"

"Yes, at once. Of course, I've asked them over and over again, and
something was said about this autumn, when we had come back from
Pimperingen."

"Why did you not tell me?"

"Bother! I did tell you. This kind of thing always turns up at last.
She's a very good kind of a woman, and the daughter is all that she
ought to be."

"Of course she'll be flirting with Anderson." Anderson was one of the
two mounted attachés.

"Anderson will know how to look after himself," said Sir Magnus. "At any
rate they must come. They have never troubled us before, and we ought to
put up with them once."

"But, my dear, what is all this about her brother?"

"She won't bring her brother with her."

"How can you be sure of that?" said the anxious lady.

"He is dying, and can't be moved."

"But that son of his--Mountjoy. It's altogether a most distressing
story. He turns out to be nobody after all, and now he has disappeared,
and the papers for an entire month were full of him. What would you do
if he were to turn up here? The girl was engaged to him, you know, and
has only thrown him off since his own father declared that he was not
legitimate. There never was such a mess about anything since London
first began."

Then Sir Magnus declared that, let Mountjoy Scarborough and his father
have misbehaved as they might, Mr. Scarborough's sister must be received
at Brussels. There was a little family difficulty. Sir Magnus had
borrowed three thousand pounds from the general which had been settled
on the general's widow, and the interest was not always paid with
extreme punctuality. To give Mrs. Mountjoy her due, it must be said that
this had not entered into her consideration when she had written to her
brother-in-law; but it was a burden to Sir Magnus, and had always
tended to produce from him a reiteration of those invitations, which
Mrs. Mountjoy had taken as an expression of brotherly love. Her own
income was always sufficient for her wants, and the hundred and fifty
pounds coming from Sir Magnus had not troubled her much. "Well, my dear,
if it must be it must;--only what I'm to do with her I do not know."

"Take her about in the carriage," said Sir Magnus, who was beginning to
be a little angry with this interference.

"And the daughter? Daughters are twice more troublesome than their
mothers."

"Pass her over to Miss Abbott. And for goodness' sake don't make so much
trouble about things which need not be troublesome." Then Sir Magnus
left his wife to ring for her chambermaid and go on with her painting,
while he himself undertook the unwonted task of writing an affectionate
letter to his sister-in-law. It should be here explained that Sir Magnus
had no children of his own, and that Miss Abbott was the lady who was
bound to smile and say pretty things on all occasions to Lady Mountjoy
for the moderate remuneration of two hundred a year and her maintenance.

The letter which Sir Magnus wrote was as follows:


  MY DEAR SARAH,--Lady Mountjoy bids me say that we shall
  be delighted to receive you and my niece at the British
  Ministry on the 1st of October, and hope that you will
  stay with us till the end of the month.--Believe me, most
  affectionately yours,                    MAGNUS MOUNTJOY.


"I have a most kind letter from Sir Magnus," said Mrs. Mountjoy to her
daughter.

"What does he say?"

"That he will be delighted to receive us on the 1st of October. I did
say that we should be ready to start in about a week's time, because I
know that he gets home from his autumn holiday by the middle of
September. But I have no doubt he has his house full till the time he
has named."

"Do you know her, mamma?" asked Florence.

"I did see her once; but I cannot say that I know her. She used to be a
very handsome woman, and looks to be quite good-natured; but Sir Magnus
has always lived abroad, and except when he came home about your poor
father's death I have seen very little of him."

"I never saw him but that once," said Florence.

And so it was settled that she and her mother were to spend a month at
Brussels.



CHAPTER XI.

MONTE CARLO.


Toward the end of September, while the weather was so hot as to keep
away from the south of France all but very determined travellers, an
English gentleman, not very beautiful in his outward appearance, was
sauntering about the great hall of the gambling-house at Monte Carlo, in
the kingdom or principality of Monaco, the only gambling-house now left
in Europe in which idle men of a speculative nature may yet solace their
hours with some excitement. Nor is the amusement denied to idle ladies,
as might be seen by two or three highly-dressed _habituées_ who at this
moment were depositing their shawls and parasols with the porters. The
clock was on the stroke of eleven, when the gambling-room would be open,
and the amusement was too rich in its nature to allow of the loss of
even a few minutes. But this gentleman was not an _habitué_, nor was he
known even by name to any of the small crowd that was then assembled.
But it was known to many of them that he had had a great "turn of luck"
on the preceding day, and had walked off from the "rouge-et-noir" table
with four or five hundred pounds.

The weather was still so hot that but few Englishmen were there, and the
play had not as yet begun to run high. There were only two or three,--men
who cannot keep their hands from ruin when ruin is open to them. To them
heat and cold, the dog-star or twenty degrees below zero, make no
difference while the croupier is there, with his rouleaux before him,
capable of turning up the card. They know that the chance is against
them,--one in twenty, let us say,--and that in the long-run one in twenty
is as good as two to one to effect their ruin. For a day they may stand
against one in twenty, as this man had done. For two or three days, for
a week, they may possibly do so; but they know that the doom must come
at last,--as it does come invariably,--and they go on. But our friend, the
Englishman who had won the money, was not such a one as these, at any
rate in regard to Monaco. Yesterday had been his first appearance, and
he had broken ground there with great success. He was an ill-looking
person, poorly clad,--what, in common parlance, we should call seedy. He
had not a scrap of beard on his face, and though swarthy and dark as to
his countenance, was light as to his hair, which hung in quantities down
his back. He was dressed from head to foot in a suit of cross-barred,
light-colored tweed, of which he wore the coat buttoned tight over his
chest, as though to hide some deficiency of linen.

The gentleman was altogether a disreputable-looking personage, and they
who had seen him win his money,--Frenchmen and Italians for the most
part,--had declared among themselves that his luck had been most
miraculous. It was observed that he had a companion with him, who stuck
close to his elbow, and it was asserted that this companion continually
urged him to leave the room. But as long as the croupier remained at the
table he remained, and continued to play through the day with almost
invariable luck. It was surmised among the gamblers there that he had
not entered the room with above twenty or thirty pieces in his pocket,
and that he had taken away with him, when the place was closed, six
hundred napoleons. "Look there; he has come again to give it all back to
Madame Blanc, with interest," said a Frenchman to an Italian.

"Yes; and he will end by blowing his brains out within a week. He is
just the man to do it."

"These Englishmen always rush at their fate like mad bulls," said the
Frenchman. "They get less distraction for their money than any one."

"Che va piano va sano," said the Italian, jingling the four napoleons in
his pocket, which had been six on yesterday morning. Then they sauntered
up to the Englishman, and both of them touched their hats to him. The
Englishman just acknowledged the compliment, and walked off with his
companion, who was still whispering something into his ear.

"It is a gendarme who is with him, I think," said the Frenchman, "only
the man does not walk erect."

Who does not know the outside hall of the magnificent gambling-house at
Monte Carlo, with all the golden splendor of its music-room within? Who
does not know the lofty roof and lounging seats, with its luxuries of
liveried servants, its wealth of newspapers, and every appanage of
costly comfort which can be added to it? And its music within,--who does
not know that there are to be heard sounds in a greater perfection of
orchestral melody than are to be procured by money and trouble combined
in the great capitals of Europe? Think of the trouble endured by those
unhappy fathers of families who indulge their wives and daughters at the
Philharmonic and St. James's Hall! Think of the horrors of our theatres,
with their hot gas, and narrow passages, and difficulties of entrance,
and almost impossibility of escape! And for all this money has to be
paid,--high prices,--and the day has to be fixed long beforehand, so that
the tickets may be secured, and the daily feast,--papa's too often
solitary enjoyment,--has to be turned into a painful early fast. And when
at last the thing has been done, and the torment endured, the sounds
heard have not always been good of their kind, for the money has not
sufficed to purchase the aid of a crowd of the best musicians. But at
Monte Carlo you walk in with your wife in her morning costume, and
seating yourself luxuriously in one of those soft stalls which are there
prepared for you, you give yourself up with perfect ease to absolute
enjoyment. For two hours the concert lasts, and all around is perfection
and gilding. There is nothing to annoy the most fastidious taste. You
have not heated yourself with fighting your way up crowded stairs; no
box-keeper has asked you for a shilling. No link-boy has dunned you
because he stood useless for a moment at the door of your carriage. No
panic has seized you, and still oppresses you, because of the narrow
dimensions in which you have to seat yourself for the next three hours.
There are no twenty minutes during which you are doomed to sit in
miserable expectation. Exactly at the hour named the music begins, and
for two hours it is your own fault if you be not happy. A
railway-carriage has brought you to steps leading up to the garden in
which these princely halls are built, and when the music is over will
again take you home. Nothing can be more perfect than the concert-room
at Monte Carlo, and nothing more charming; and for all this there is
nothing whatever to pay.

But by whom;--out of whose pocket are all these good things provided?
They tell you at Monte Carlo that from time to time are to be seen men
walking off in the dark of the night or the gloom of the evening, or,
for the matter of that, in the broad light of day, if the stern
necessity of the hour require it, with a burden among them, to be
deposited where it may not be seen or heard of any more. They are
carrying away "all that mortal remains" of one of the gentlemen who have
paid for your musical entertainment. He has given his all for the
purpose, and has then--blown his brains out. It is one of the
disagreeable incidents to which the otherwise extremely pleasant
money-making operations of the establishment are liable. Such accidents
will happen. A gambling-house, the keeper of which is able to maintain
the royal expense of the neighboring court out of his winnings and also
to keep open for those who are not ashamed to accept it,--gratis, all
for love,--a concert-room brilliant with gold, filled with the best
performers whom the world can furnish, and comfortable beyond all
opera-houses known to men must be liable to a few such misfortunes. Who
is not ashamed to accept, I have said, having lately been there and
thoroughly enjoyed myself? But I did not put myself in the way of having
to cut my throat, on which account I felt, as I came out, that I had
been somewhat shabby. I was ashamed in that I had not put a few
napoleons down on the table. Conscience had prevented me, and a wish to
keep my money. But should not conscience have kept me away from all that
happiness for which I had not paid? I had not thought of it before I
went to Monte Carlo, but I am inclined now to advise others to stay
away, or else to put down half a napoleon, at any rate, as the price of
a ticket. The place is not overcrowded, because the conscience of many
is keener than was mine.

We ought to be grateful to the august sovereign of Monaco in that he
enabled an enterprising individual to keep open for us in so brilliant a
fashion the last public gambling-house in Europe. The principality is
but large enough to contain the court of the sovereign which is held in
the little town of Monaco, and the establishment of the last of
legitimate gamblers which is maintained at Monte Carlo. If the report of
the world does not malign the prince, he lives, as does the gambler, out
of the spoil taken from the gamblers. He is to be seen in his royal
carriage going forth with his royal consort,--and very royal he looks!
His little teacup of a kingdom,--or rather a roll of French bread, for it
is crusty and picturesque,--is now surrounded by France. There is Nice
away to the west, and Mentone to the east, and the whole kingdom lies
within the compass of a walk. Mentone, in France, at any rate, is within
five miles of the monarch's residence. How happy it is that there should
be so blessed a spot left in tranquillity on the earth's surface!

But on the present occasion Monte Carlo was not in all its grandeur,
because of the heat of the weather. Another month, and English lords,
and English members of Parliament, and English barristers would be
there,--all men, for instance, who could afford to be indifferent as to
their character for a month,--and the place would be quite alive with
music, cards, and dice. At present men of business only flocked to its
halls, eagerly intent on making money, though, alas! almost all doomed
to lose it. But our one friend with the long light locks was impatient
for the fray. The gambling-room had now been opened, and the servants
of the table, less impatient than he, were slowly arranging their money
and their cards. Our friend had taken his seat, and was already
resolving, with his eyes fixed on the table, where he would make his
first plunge. In his right hand was a bag of gold, and under his left
hand were hidden the twelve napoleons with which he intended to
commence. On yesterday he had gone through his day's work by twelve,
though on one or two occasions he had plunged deeply. It had seemed to
this man as though a new heaven had been opened to him, as of late he
had seen little of luck in this world. The surmises made as to the low
state of his funds when he entered the room had been partly true; but
time had been when he was able to gamble in a more costly fashion even
than here, and to play among those who had taken his winnings and
losings simply as a matter of course.

And now the game had begun, and the twelve napoleons were duly
deposited. Again he won his stake, an omen for the day, and was
exultant. A second twelve and a third were put down, and on each
occasion he won. In the silly imagination of his heart he declared to
himself that the calculation of all chances was as nothing against his
run of luck. Here was the spot on which it was destined that he should
redeem all the injury which fortune had done him. And in truth this man
had been misused by fortune. His companion whispered in his ear, but he
heard not a word of it. He increased the twelve to fifteen, and again
won. As he looked round there was a halo of triumph which seemed to
illuminate his face. He had chained Chance to his chariot-wheel and
would persevere now that the good time had come. What did he care for
the creature at his elbow? He thought of all the good things which money
could again purchase for him as he carefully fingered the gold for the
next stake. He had been rich, though he was now poor; though how could a
man be accounted poor who had an endless sum of six hundred napoleons in
his pocket, a sum which was, in truth, endless, while it could be so
rapidly recruited in this fashion? The next stake he also won, but as he
raked all the pieces which the croupier pushed toward him his mind had
become intent on another sphere and on other persons. Let him win what
he might, his old haunts were now closed against him. What good would
money do him, living such a life as he must now be compelled to pass? As
he thought of this the five-and-twenty napoleons on the table were taken
away from him almost without consciousness on his part.

At that moment there came a voice in his ear,--not the voice of his
attending friend, but one of which he accurately knew the lisping,
fiendish sound: "Ah, Captain Scarborough, I thought it vas posshible you
might be here. Dis ish a very nice place." Our friend looked round and
glared at the man, and felt that it was impossible that this occupation
should be continued under his eyes. "Yesh; it was likely. How do you
like Monte Carlo? You have plenty of money--plenty!" The man was small,
and oily, and black-haired, and beaky-nosed, with a perpetual smile on
his face, unless when on special occasions he would be moved to the
expression of deep anger. Of the modern Hebrews a most complete Hebrew;
but a man of purpose, who never did things by halves, who could count
upon good courage within, and who never allowed himself to be foiled by
misadventure. He was one who, beginning with nothing, was determined to
die a rich man, and was likely to achieve his purpose. Now there was no
gleam of anger on his face, but a look of invincible good-humor, which
was not, however, quite good-humor, when you came to examine it closely.

"Oh, that is you, is it, Mr. Hart?"

"Yesh; it is me. I have followed you. Oh, I have had quite a pleasant
tour following you. But ven I got my noshe once on to the schent then I
was sure it was Monte Carlo. And it ish Monte Carlo; eh, Captain
Scarborough?"

"Yes; of course it is Monte Carlo. That is to say, Monte Carlo is the
place where we are now. I don't know what you mean by running on in that
way." Then he drew back from the table, Mr. Hart following close behind
him, and his attendant at a farther distance behind him. As he went he
remembered that he had slightly increased the six hundred napoleons of
yesterday, and that the money was still in his own possession. Not all
the Jews in London could touch the money while he kept it in his pocket.

"Who ish dat man there?" asked Mr. Hart.

"What can that be to you?"

"He seems to follow you pretty close."

"Not so close as you do, by George; and perhaps he has something to get
by it, which you haven't."

"Come, come, come! If he have more to get than I he mush be pretty deep.
There is Mishter Tyrrwhit. No one have more to get than I, only Mishter
Tyrrwhit. Vy, Captain Scarborough, the little game you wash playing
there, which wash a very pretty little game, is as nothing to my game
wish you. When you see the money down, on the table there, it seems to
be mush because the gold glitters, but it is as noting to my little
game, where the gold does not glitter, because it is pen and ink. A pen
and ink soon writes ten thousand pounds. But you think mush of it when
you win two hundred pounds at roulette."

"I think nothing of it," said our friend Captain Scarborough.

"And it goes into your pocket to give champagne to the ladies, instead
of paying your debts to the poor fellows who have supplied you for so
long with all de money."

All this occurred in the gambling-house at a distance from the table,
but within hearing of that attendant who still followed the player.
These moments were moments of misery to the captain in spite of the
bank-notes for six hundred napoleons which were still in his breast
coat-pocket. And they were not made lighter by the fact that all the
words spoken by the Jew were overheard by the man who was supposed to be
there in the capacity of his servant. But the man, as it seemed, had a
mission to fulfil, and was the captain's master as well as servant. "Mr.
Hart," said Captain Scarborough, repressing the loudness of his words as
far as his rage would admit him, but still speaking so as to attract the
attention of some of those round him, "I do not know what good you
propose to yourself by following me in this manner. You have my bonds,
which are not even payable till my father's death."

"Ah, there you are very much mistaken."

"And are then only payable out of the property to which I believed
myself to be heir when the money was borrowed."

"You are still de heir--de heir to Tretton. There is not a shadow of a
doubt as to that."

"I hope when the time comes," said the captain, "you'll be able to prove
your words."

"Of course we shall prove dem. Why not? Your father and your brother are
very clever shentlemen, I think, but they will not be more clever than
Mishter Samuel Hart. Mr. Tyrrwhit also is a clever man. Perhaps he
understands your father's way of doing business. Perhaps it is all right
with Mr. Tyrrwhit. It shall be all right with me too;--I swear it. When
will you come back to London, Captain Scarborough?"

Then there came an angry dispute in the gambling-room, during which Mr.
Hart by no means strove to repress his voice. Captain Scarborough
asserted his rights as a free agent, declaring himself capable, as far
as the law was concerned, of going wherever he pleased without reference
to Mr. Hart; and told that gentleman that any interference on his part
would be regarded as an impertinence. "But my money--my money, which you
must pay this minute, if I please to demand it."

"You did not lend me five-and-twenty thousand pounds without security."

"It is forty-five--now, at this moment."

"Take it, get it; go and put it in your pocket. You have a lot of
writings; turn then into cash at once. Take them to any other Jew in
London and sell them. See if you can get your five-and-twenty thousand
pounds for them,--or twenty-five thousand shillings. You certainly
cannot get five-and-twenty pence for them here, though you had all the
police of this royal kingdom to support you. My father says that the
bonds I gave you are not worth the paper on which they were written. If
you are cheated, so have I been. If he has robbed you, so has he me. But
I have not robbed you, and you can do nothing to me."

"I vill stick to you like beesvax," said Mr. Hart, while the look of
good-humor left his countenance for a moment. "Like beesvax! You shall
not escape me again."

"You will have to follow me to Constantinople, then."

"I vill follow you to the devil."

"You are likely to go before me there. But for the present I am off to
Constantinople, from whence I intend to make an extended tour to Mount
Caucasus, and then into Thibet. I shall be very glad of your company,
but cannot offer to pay the bill. When you and your companions have
settled yourselves comfortably at Tretton, I shall be happy to come and
see you there. You will have to settle the matter first with my younger
brother, if I may make bold to call that well-born gentleman my brother
at all. I wish you a good-morning, Mr. Hart." Upon that he walked out
into the hall, and thence down the steps into the garden in front of the
establishment, his own attendant following him.

Mr. Hart also followed him, but did not immediately seek to renew the
conversation. If he meant to show any sign of keeping his threat and of
sticking to the captain like beeswax, he must show his purpose at once.
The captain for a time walked round the little enclosure in earnest
conversation with the attendant, and Mr. Hart stood on the steps
watching them. Play was over, at any rate for that day, as far as the
captain was concerned.

"Now, Captain Scarborough, don't you think you've been very rash?" said
the attendant.

"I think I've got six hundred and fifty napoleons in my pocket, instead
of waiting to get them in driblets from my brother."

"But if he knew that you had come here he would withdraw them
altogether. Of course, he will know now. That man will be sure to tell
him. He will let all London know. Of course, it would be so when you
came to a place of such common resort as Monte Carlo."

"Common resort! Do you believe he came here as to a place of common
resort? Do you think that he had not tracked me out, and would not have
done so, whether I had gone to Melbourne, or New York, or St.
Petersburg? But the wonder is that he should spend his money in such a
vain pursuit."

"Ah, captain, you do not know what is vain and what is not. It is your
brother's pleasure that you should be kept in the dark for a time."

"Hang my brother's pleasure! Why am I to follow my brother's pleasure?"

"Because he will allow you an income. He will keep a coat on your back
and a hat on your head, and supply meat and wine for your needs." Here
Captain Scarborough jingled the loose napoleons in his trousers pocket.
"Oh, yes, that is all very well but it will not last forever. Indeed, it
will not last for a week unless you leave Monte Carlo."

"I shall leave it this afternoon by the train for Genoa."

"And where shall you go then?"

"You heard me suggest to Mr. Hart to the devil,--or else Constantinople,
and after that to Thibet. I suppose I shall still enjoy the pleasure of
your company?"

"Mr. Augustus wishes that I should remain with you, and, as you yourself
say, perhaps it will be best."



CHAPTER XII.

HARRY ANNESLEY'S SUCCESS.


Harry Annesley, a day or two after he had left Tretton, went down to
Cheltenham; for he had received an invitation to a dance there, and with
the invitation an intimation that Florence Mountjoy was to be at the
dance. If I were to declare that the dance had been given and Florence
asked to it merely as an act of friendship to Harry, it would perhaps be
thought that modern friendship is seldom carried to so great a length.
But it was undoubtedly the fact that Mrs. Armitage, who gave the dance,
was a great friend and admirer of Harry's, and that Mr. Armitage was an
especial chum. Let not, however, any reader suppose that Florence was in
the secret. Mrs. Armitage had thought it best to keep her in the dark as
to the person asked to meet her. "As to my going to Montpelier Place,"
Harry had once said to Mrs. Armitage, "I might as well knock at a
prison-door." Mrs. Mountjoy lived in Montpelier Place.

"I think we could perhaps manage that for you," Mrs. Armitage had
replied, and she had managed it.

"Is she coming?" Harry said to Mrs. Armitage, in an anxious whisper, as
he entered the room.

"She has been here this half-hour,--if you had taken the trouble to leave
your cigars and come and meet her."

"She has not gone?" said Harry, almost awe-struck at the idea.

"No; she is sitting like Patience on a monument, smiling at grief, in
the room inside. She has got horrible news to tell you."

"Oh, heavens! What news?"

"I suppose she will tell you, though she has not been communicative to
me in regard to your royal highness. The news is simply that her mother
is going to take her to Brussels, and that she is to live for a while
amid the ambassadorial splendors with Sir Magnus and his wife."

By retiring from the world Mrs. Mountjoy had not intended to include
such slight social relaxations as Mrs. Armitage's party, for Harry on
turning round encountered her talking to another Cheltenham lady. He
greeted her with his pleasantest smile, to which Mrs. Mountjoy did not
respond quite so sweetly. She had ever greatly feared Harry Annesley,
and had to-day heard a story very much, as she thought, to his
discredit. "Is your daughter here?" asked Harry, with well-trained
hypocrisy. Mrs. Mountjoy could not but acknowledge that Florence was in
the room, and then Harry passed on in pursuit of his quarry.

"Oh, Mr. Annesley, when did you come to Cheltenham?"

"As soon as I heard that Mrs. Armitage was going to have a party I began
to think of coming immediately." Then an idea for the first time shot
through Florence's mind--that her friend Mrs. Armitage was a woman
devoted to intrigue. "What dance have you disengaged? I have something
that I must tell you to-night. You don't mean to say that you will not
give me one dance?" This was merely a lover's anxious doubt on his
part, because Florence had not at once replied to him. "I am told that
you are going away to Brussels."

"Mamma is going on a visit to her brother-in-law."

"And you with her?"

"Of course I shall go with mamma." All this had been said apart, while a
fair-haired, lackadaisical young gentleman was standing twiddling his
thumbs waiting to dance with Florence. At last the little book from her
waist was brought forth, and Harry's name was duly inscribed. The next
dance was a quadrille, and he saw that the space after that was also
vacant; so he boldly wrote down his name for both. I almost think that
Florence must have suspected that Harry Annesley was to be there that
night, or why should the two places have been kept vacant? "And now what
is this," he began, "about your going to Brussels?"

"Mamma's brother is minister there, and we are just going on a visit."

"But why now? I am sure there is some especial cause." Florence would
not say that there was no especial cause, so she could only repeat her
assertion that they certainly were going to Brussels. She herself was
well aware that she was to be taken out of Harry's way, and that
something was expected to occur during this short month of her absence
which might be detrimental to him,--and to her also. But this she could
not tell, nor did she like to say that the plea given by her mother was
the general state of the Scarborough affairs. She did not wish to
declare to this lover that that other lover was as nothing to her. "And
how long are you to be away?" asked Harry.

"We shall be a month with Sir Magnus; but mamma is talking of going on
afterward to the Italian lakes."

"Good heavens! you will not be back, I suppose, till ever so much after
Christmas?"

"I cannot tell. Nothing as yet has been settled. I do not know that I
ought to tell you anything about it." Harry at this moment looked up,
and caught the eye of Mrs. Mountjoy, as she was standing in the door-way
opposite. Mrs. Mountjoy certainly looked as though no special
communication as to Florence's future movements ought to be made to
Harry Annesley.

Then, however, it came to his turn to dance, and he had a moment allowed
to him to collect his thoughts. By nothing that he could do or say could
he prevent her going, and he could only use the present moment to the
best purpose in his power. He bethought himself then that he had never
received from her a word of encouragement, and that such word, if ever
to be spoken, should be forthcoming that night. What might not happen to
a girl who was passing the balmy Christmas months amid the sweet shadows
of an Italian lake? Harry's ideas of an Italian lake were, in truth, at
present somewhat vague. But future months were, to his thinking,
interminable; the present moment only was his own. The dance was now
finished. "Come and take a walk," said Harry.

"I think I will go to mamma." Florence had seen her mother's eye fixed
upon her.

"Oh, come, that won't do at all," said Harry, who had already got her
hand within his arm. "A fellow is always entitled to five minutes, and
then I am down for the next waltz."

"Oh no!"

"But I am, and you can't get out of it now. Oh, Florence, will you
answer me a question,--one question? I asked it you before, and you did
not vouchsafe me any answer."

"You asked me no question," said Florence, who remembered to the last
syllable every word that had been said to her on that occasion.

"Did I not? I am sure you knew what it was that I intended to ask."
Florence could not but think that this was quite another thing. "Oh,
Florence, can you love me?" Had she given her ears for it she could not
have told him the truth then, on the spur of the moment. Her mother's
eye was, she knew, watching her through the door-way all the way across
from the other room. And yet, had her mother asked her, she would have
answered boldly that she did love Harry Annesley, and intended to love
him for ever and ever with all her heart. And she would have gone
farther if cross-questioned, and have declared that she regarded him
already as her lord and master. But now she had not a word to say to
him. All she knew was that he had now pledged himself to her, and that
she intended to keep him to his pledge. "May I not have one word," he
said,--"one word?"

What could he want with a word more? thought Florence. Her silence now
was as good as any speech. But as he did want more she would, after her
own way, reply to him. So there came upon his arm the slightest possible
sense of pressure from those sweet fingers, and Harry Annesley was on a
sudden carried up among azure-tinted clouds into the farthest heaven of
happiness. After a moment he stood still, and passed his fingers through
his hair and waved his head as a god might do it. She had now made to
him a solemn promise than which no words could be more binding. "Oh,
Florence," he exclaimed, "I must have you alone with me for one moment."
For what could he want her alone for any moment? thought Florence. There
was her mother still looking at them; but for her Harry did not now care
one straw. Nor did he hate those bright Italian lakes with nearly so
strong a feeling of abhorrence. "Florence, you are now all my own."
There came another slightest pressure, slight, but so eloquent from
those fingers.

"I hate dancing. How is a fellow to dance now? I shall run against
everybody. I can see no one. I should be sure to make a fool of myself.
No, I don't want to dance even with you. No, certainly not!--let you
dance with somebody else, and you engaged to me! Well, if I must, of
course I must. I declare, Florence, you have not spoken a single word to
me, though there is so much that you must have to say. What have you got
to say? What a question to ask! You must tell me. Oh, you know what you
have got to tell me! The sound of it will be the sweetest music that a
man can possibly hear."

"You knew it all, Harry," she whispered.

"But I want to hear it. Oh, Florence, Florence, I do not think you can
understand how completely I am beyond myself with joy. I cannot dance
again, and will not. Oh, my wife, my wife!"

"Hush!" said Florence, afraid that the very walls might hear the sound
of Harry's words.

"What does it signify though all the world knew it?"

"Oh yes."

"That I should have been so fortunate! That is what I cannot understand.
Poor Mountjoy! I do feel for him. That he should have had the start of
me so long, and have done nothing!"

"Nothing," whispered Florence.

"And I have done everything. I am so proud of myself that I think I must
look almost like a hero."

They had now got to the extremity of the room near an open window, and
Florence found that she was able to say one word. "You are my hero." The
sound of this nearly drove him mad with joy. He forgot all his troubles.
Prodgers, the policeman, Augustus Scarborough, and that fellow whom he
hated so much, Septimus Jones;--what were they all to him now? He had set
his mind upon one thing of value, and he had got it. Florence had
promised to be his, and he was sure that she would never break her word
to him. But he felt that for the full enjoyment of his triumph he must
be alone somewhere with Florence for five minutes. He had not actually
explained to himself why, but he knew that he wished to be alone with
her. At present there was no prospect of any such five minutes, but he
must say something in preparation for some future five minutes at a time
to come. Perhaps it might be to-morrow, though he did not at present see
how that might be possible, for Mrs. Mountjoy, he knew, would shut her
door against him. And Mrs. Mountjoy was already prowling round the room
after her daughter. Harry saw her as he got Florence to an opposite
door, and there for the moment escaped with her. "And now," he said,
"how am I to manage to see you before you go to Brussels?"

"I do not know that you can see me."

"Do you mean that you are to be shut up, and that I am not to be allowed
to approach you?"

"I do mean it. Mamma is, of course, attached to her nephew."

"What, after all that has passed?"

"Why not? Is he to blame for what his father has done?" Harry felt that
he could not press the case against Captain Scarborough without some
want of generosity. And though he had told Florence once about that
dreadful midnight meeting, he could say nothing farther on that subject.
"Of course mamma thinks that I am foolish."

"But why?" he asked.

"Because she doesn't see with my eyes, Harry. We need not say anything
more about it at present. It is so; and therefore I am to go to
Brussels. You have made this opportunity for yourself before I start.
Perhaps I have been foolish to be taken off my guard."

"Don't say that, Florence."

"I shall think so, unless you can be discreet. Harry, you will have to
wait. You will remember that we must wait; but I shall not change."

"Nor I,--nor I."

"I think not, because I trust you. Here is mamma, and now I must leave
you. But I shall tell mamma everything before I go to bed." Then Mrs.
Mountjoy came up and took Florence away, with a few words of most
disdainful greeting to Harry Annesley.

When Florence was gone Harry felt that as the sun and the moon and the
stars had all set, and as absolute darkness reigned through the rooms,
he might as well escape into the street, where there was no one but the
police to watch him, as he threw his hat up into the air in his
exultation. But before he did so he had to pass by Mrs. Armitage and
thank her for all her kindness; for he was aware how much she had done
for him in his present circumstances. "Oh, Mrs. Armitage, I am so
obliged to you! no fellow was ever so obliged to a friend before."

"How has it gone off? For Mrs. Mountjoy has taken Florence home."

"Oh yes, she has taken her away. But she hasn't shut the stable-door
till the steed has been stolen."

"Oh, the steed has been stolen?"

"Yes, I think so; I do think so."

"And that poor man who has disappeared is nowhere."

"Men who disappear never are anywhere. But I do flatter myself that if
he had held his ground and kept his property the result would have been
the same."

"I dare say."

"Don't suppose, Mrs. Armitage, that I am taking any pride to myself. Why
on earth Florence should have taken a fancy to such a fellow as I am I
cannot imagine."

"Oh no; not in the least."

"It's all very well for you to laugh, Mrs. Armitage, but as I have
thought of it all I have sometimes been in despair."

"But now you are not in despair."

"No, indeed; just now I am triumphant. I have thought so often that I
was a fool to love her, because everything was so much against me."

"I have wondered that you continued. It always seemed to me that there
wasn't a ghost of a chance for you. Mr. Armitage bade me give it all up,
because he was sure you would never do any good."

"I don't care how much you laugh at me, Mrs. Armitage."

"Let those laugh who win." Then he rushed out into the Paragon, and
absolutely did throw his hat up in the air in his triumph.



CHAPTER XIII.

MRS. MOUNTJOY'S ANGER.


Florence, as she went home in the fly with her mother after the party at
which Harry had spoken to her so openly, did not find the little journey
very happy. Mrs. Mountjoy was a woman endowed with a strong power of
wishing rather than of willing, of desiring rather than of contriving;
but she was one who could make herself very unpleasant when she was
thwarted. Her daughter was now at last fully determined that if she ever
married anybody, that person should be Harry Annesley. Having once
pressed his arm in token of assent, she had as it were given herself
away to him, so that no reasoning, no expostulations could, she thought,
change her purpose; and she had much more power of bringing about her
purposed design than had her mother. But her mother could be obstinate
and self-willed, and would for the time make herself disagreeable.
Florence had assured her lover that everything should be told her mother
that night before she went to bed. But Mrs. Mountjoy did not wait to be
simply told. No sooner were they seated in the fly together than she
began to make her inquiries. "What has that man been saying to you?" she
demanded.

Florence was at once offended by hearing her lover so spoken of, and
could not simply tell the story of Harry's successful courtship, as she
had intended. "Mamma," she said "why do you speak of him like that?"

"Because he is a scamp."

"No, he is no scamp. It is very unkind of you to speak in such terms of
one whom you know is very dear to me."

"I do not know it. He ought not to be dear to you at all. You have been
for years intended for another purpose." This was intolerable to
Florence,--this idea that she should have been considered as capable of
being intended for the purposes of other people! And a resolution at
once was formed in her mind that she would let her mother know that such
intentions were futile. But for the moment she sat silent. A journey
home at twelve o'clock at night in a fly was not the time for the
expression of her resolution. "I say he is a scamp," said Mrs. Mountjoy.
"During all these inquiries that have been made after your cousin he has
known all about it."

"He has not known all about it," said Florence.

"You contradict me in a very impertinent manner, and cannot be
acquainted with the circumstances. The last person who saw your cousin
in London was Mr. Henry Annesley, and yet he has not said a word about
it, while search was being made on all sides. And he saw him under
circumstances most suspicious in their nature; so suspicious as to have
made the police arrest him if they were aware of them. He had at that
moment grossly insulted Captain Scarborough."

"No, mamma; no, it was not so."

"How do you know? how can you tell?"

"I do know; and I can tell. The ill-usage had come from the other side."

"Then you, too, have known the secret, and have said nothing about it?
You, too, have been aware of the violence which took place at that
midnight meeting? You have been aware of what befell your cousin, the
man to whom you were all but engaged. And you have held your tongue at
the instigation, no doubt, of Mr. Henry Annesley. Oh, Florence, you also
will find yourself in the hands of the policeman!" At this moment the
fly drew up at the door of the house in Montpelier Place, and the two
ladies had to get out and walk up the steps into the hall, where they
were congratulated on their early return from the party by the
lady's-maid.

"Mamma, I will go to bed," said Florence, as soon as she reached her
mother's room.

"I think you had better, my dear, though Heaven knows what disturbances
there may be during the night." By this Mrs. Mountjoy had intended to
imply that Prodgers, the policeman, might probably lose not a moment
more before he would at once proceed to arrest Miss Mountjoy for the
steps she had taken in regard to the disappearance of Captain
Scarborough.

She had heard from Harry Annesley the fact that he had been brutally
attacked by the captain in the middle of the night in the streets of
London; and for this, in accordance with her mother's theory, she was to
be dragged out of bed by a constable, and that, probably, before the
next morning should have come. There was something in this so ludicrous
as regarded the truth of the story, and yet so cruel as coming from her
mother, that Florence hardly knew whether to cry or laugh as she laid
her head upon the pillow.

But in the morning, as she was thinking that the facts of her own
position had still to be explained to her mother,--that it would be
necessary that she should declare her purpose and the impossibility of
change, now that she had once pledged herself to her lover,--Mrs.
Mountjoy came into the room, and stood at her bedside, with that
appearance of ghostly displeasure which always belongs to an angry old
lady in a night-cap.

"Well, mamma?"

"Florence, there must be an understanding between us."

"I hope so. I thought there always had been. I am sure, mamma, you have
known that I have never liked Captain Scarborough so as to become his
wife, and I think you have known that I have liked Harry Annesley."

"Likings are all fiddlesticks!"

"No, mamma; or, if you object to the word, I will say love. You have
known that I have not loved my cousin, and that I have loved this other
man. That is not nonsense; that at any rate is a stern reality, if there
be anything real in the world."

"Stern! you may well call it stern."

"I mean unbending, strong, not to be overcome by outside circumstances.
If Mr. Annesley had not spoken to me as he did last night,--could never
have so spoken to me,--I should have been a miserable girl, but my love
for him would have been just as stern. I should have remained and
thought of it, and have been unhappy through my whole life. But he has
spoken, and I am exultant. That is what I mean by stern. All that is
most important, at any rate to me."

"I am here now to tell you that it is impossible."

"Very well, mamma. Then things must go on, and we must bide our time."

"It is proper that I should tell you that he has disgraced himself."

"Never! I will not admit it. You do not know the circumstances,"
exclaimed Florence.

"It is most impertinent in you to pretend that you know them better than
I do," said her mother, indignantly.

"The story was told to me by himself."

"Yes; and therefore told untruly."

"I grieve that you should think so of him, mamma; but I cannot help it.
Where you have got your information I cannot tell. But that mine has
been accurately told to me I feel certain."

"At any rate, my duty is to look after you and to keep you from harm. I
can only do my duty to the best of my ability. Mr. Annesley is, to my
thinking, a most objectionable young man, and he will, I believe, be in
the hands of the police before long. Evidence will have to be given, in
which your name will, unfortunately, be mentioned."

"Why my name?"

"It is not probable that he will keep it a secret, when
cross-questioned, as to his having divulged the story to some one. He
will declare that he has told it to you. When that time shall come it
will be well that we should be out of the country. I propose to start
from here on this day week."

"Uncle Magnus will not be able to have us then."

"We must loiter away our time on the road. I look upon it as quite
imperative that we shall both be out of England within eight days' time
of this."

"But where will you go?"

"Never mind. I do not know that I have as yet quite made up my mind. But
you may understand that we shall start from Cheltenham this day week.
Baker will go with us, and I shall leave the other two servants in
charge of the house. I cannot tell you anything farther as yet,--except
that I will never consent to your marriage with Mr. Henry Annesley. You
had better know that for certain, and then there will be less cause for
unhappiness between us." So saying, the angry ghost with the night-cap
on stalked out of the room.

It need hardly be explained that Mrs. Mountjoy's information respecting
the scene in London had come to her from Augustus Scarborough. When he
told her that Annesley had been the last in London to see his brother
Mountjoy, and had described the nature of the scene that had occurred
between them, he had no doubt forgotten that he himself had subsequently
seen his brother. In the story, as he had told it, there was no need to
mention himself,--no necessity for such a character in making up the
tragedy of that night. No doubt, according to his idea, the two had been
alone together. Harry had struck the blow by which his brother had been
injured, and had then left him in the street. Mountjoy had subsequently
disappeared, and Harry had told to no one that such an encounter had
taken place. This had been the meaning of Augustus Scarborough when he
informed his aunt that Harry had been the last who had seen Mountjoy
before his disappearance. To Mrs. Mountjoy the fact had been most
injurious to Harry's character. Harry had wilfully kept the secret while
all the world was at work looking for Mountjoy Scarborough; and, as far
as Mrs. Mountjoy could understand, it might well be that Harry had
struck the fatal blow that had sent her nephew to his long account. All
the impossibilities in the case had not dawned upon her. It had not
occurred to her that Mountjoy could not have been killed and his body
made away with without some great effort, in the performance of which
the "scamp" would hardly have risked his life or his character. But the
scamp was certainly a scamp, even though he might not be a murderer, or
he would have revealed the secret. In fact, Mrs. Mountjoy believed in
the matter exactly what Augustus had intended, and, so believing, had
resolved that her daughter should suffer any purgatory rather than
become Harry's wife.

But her daughter made her resolutions exactly in the contrary direction.
She in truth did know what had been done on that night, while her mother
was in ignorance. The extent of her mother's ignorance she understood,
but she did not at all know where her mother had got her information.
She felt that Harry's secret was in hands other than he had intended,
and that some one must have spoken of the scene. It occurred to Florence
at the moment that this must have come from Mountjoy himself, whom she
believed,--and rightly believed,--to have been the only second person
present on the occasion. And if he had told it to any one, then must
that "any one" know where and how he had disappeared. And the
information must have been given to her mother solely with the view of
damaging Harry's character, and of preventing Harry's marriage.

Thinking of all this, Florence felt that a premeditated and foul
attempt,--for, as she turned it in her mind, the attempt seemed to be
very foul,--was being made to injure Harry. A false accusation was
brought against him, and was grounded on a misrepresentation of the
truth in such a manner as to subvert it altogether to Harry's injury. It
should have no effect upon her. To this determination she came at once,
and declared to herself solemnly that she would be true to it. An
attempt was made to undermine him in her estimation; but they who made
it had not known her character. She was sure of herself now, within her
own bosom, that she was bound in a peculiar way to be more than
ordinarily true to Harry Annesley. In such an emergency she ought to do
for Harry Annesley more than a girl in common circumstances would be
justified in doing for her lover. Harry was maligned, ill-used, and
slandered. Her mother had been induced to call him a scamp, and to give
as her reason for doing so an account of a transaction which was
altogether false, though she no doubt had believed it to be true.

As she thought of all this she resolved that it was her duty to write to
her lover, and tell him the story as she had heard it. It might be most
necessary that he should know the truth. She would write her letter and
post it,--so that it should be altogether beyond her mother's
control,--and then would tell her mother that she had written it. She at
first thought that she would keep a copy of the letter and show it to
her mother. But when it was written,--those first words intended for a
lover's eyes which had ever been produced by her pen,--she found that she
could not subject those very words to her mother's hard judgment.

Her letter was as follows:

"DEAR HARRY,--You will be much surprised at receiving a letter from me
so soon after our meeting last night. But I warn you that you must not
take it amiss. I should not write now were it not that I think it may be
for your interest that I should do so. I do not write to say a word
about my love, of which I think you may be assured without any letter. I
told mamma last night what had occurred between us, and she of course
was very angry. You will understand that, knowing how anxious she has
been on behalf of my cousin Mountjoy. She has always taken his part, and
I think it does mamma great honor not to throw him over now that he is
in trouble. I should never have thrown him over in his trouble, had I
ever cared for him in that way. I tell you that fairly, Master Harry.

"But mamma, in speaking against you, which she was bound to do in
supporting poor Mountjoy, declared that you were the last person who had
seen my cousin before his disappearance, and she knew that there had
been some violent struggle between you. Indeed, she knew all the truth
as to that night, except that the attack had been made by Mountjoy on
you. She turned the story all round, declaring that you had attacked
him,--which, as you perceive, gives a totally different appearance to the
whole matter. Somebody has told her,--though who it may have been I
cannot guess,--but somebody has been endeavoring to do you all the
mischief he can in the matter, and has made mamma think evil of you. She
says that after attacking him, and brutally ill-using him, you had left
him in the street, and had subsequently denied all knowledge of having
seen him. You will perceive that somebody has been at work inventing a
story to do you a mischief, and I think it right that I should tell you.

"But you must never believe that I shall believe anything to your
discredit. It would be to my discredit now. I know that you are good,
and true, and noble, and that you would not do anything so foul as this.
It is because I know this that I have loved you, and shall always love
you. Let mamma and others say what they will, you are now to me all the
world. Oh, Harry, Harry, when I think of it, how serious it seems to me,
and yet how joyful! I exult in you, and will do so, let them say what
they may against you. You will be sure of that always. Will you not be
sure of it?

"But you must not write a line in answer, not even to give me your
assurance. That must come when we shall meet at length,--say after a
dozen years or so. I shall tell mamma of this letter, which
circumstances seem to demand, and shall assure her that you will write
no answer to it.

"Oh, Harry, you will understand all that I might say of my feelings in
regard to you.

"Your own, FLORENCE."

This letter, when she had written it and copied it fair and posted the
copy in the pillar-box close by, she found that she could not in any way
show absolutely to her mother. In spite of all her efforts it had become
a love-letter. And what genuine love-letter can a girl show even to her
mother? But she at once told her of what she had done. "Mamma, I have
written a letter to Harry Annesley."

"You have?"

"Yes, mamma; I have thought it right to tell him what you had heard
about that night."

"And you have done this without my permission,--without even telling me
what you were going to do?"

"If I had asked you, you would have told me not."

"Of course I should have told you not. Good gracious! has it come to
this, that you correspond with a young gentleman without my leave, and
when you know that I would not have given it?"

"Mamma, in this instance it was necessary."

"Who was to judge of that?"

"If he is to be my husband--"

"But he is not to be your husband. You are never to speak to him again.
You shall never be allowed to meet him; you shall be taken abroad, and
there you shall remain, and he shall hear nothing about you. If he
attempts to correspond with you--"

"He will not."

"How do you know?"

"I have told him not to write."

"Told him, indeed! Much he will mind such telling! I shall give your
Uncle Magnus a full account of it all and ask for his advice. He is a
man in a high position, and perhaps you may think fit to obey him,
although you utterly refuse to be guided in any way by your mother."
Then the conversation for the moment came to an end. But Florence, as
she left her mother, assured herself that she could not promise any
close obedience in any such matters to Sir Magnus.



CHAPTER XIV.

THEY ARRIVE IN BRUSSELS.


For some weeks after the party at Mrs. Armitage's house, and the
subsequent explanations with her mother, Florence was made to suffer
many things. First came the one week before they started, which was
perhaps the worst of all. This was specially embittered by the fact that
Mrs. Mountjoy absolutely refused to divulge her plans as they were made.
There was still a fortnight before she could be received at Brussels,
and as to that fortnight she would tell nothing.

Her knowledge of human nature probably went so far as to teach her that
she could thus most torment her daughter. It was not that she wished to
torment her in a revengeful spirit. She was quite sure within her own
bosom that she did all in love. She was devoted to her daughter. But she
was thwarted; and therefore told herself that she could best farther the
girl's interests by tormenting her. It was not meditated revenge, but
that revenge which springs up without any meditation, and is often
therefore the most bitter. "I must bring her nose to the grindstone,"
was the manner in which she would have probably expressed her thoughts
to herself. Consequently Florence's nose was brought to the grindstone,
and the operation made her miserable. She would not, however, complain
when she had discovered what her mother was doing. She asked such
questions as appeared to be natural, and put up with replies which
purposely withheld all information. "Mamma, have you not settled on what
day we shall start?" "No, my dear." "Mamma, where are we going?" "I
cannot tell you as yet; I am by no means sure myself." "I shall be glad
to know, mamma, what I am to pack up for use on the journey." "Just the
same as you would do on any journey." Then Florence held her tongue, and
consoled herself with thinking of Harry Annesley.

At last the day came, and she knew that she was to be taken to Boulogne.
Before this time she had received one letter from Harry, full of love,
full of thanks,--just what a lover's letter ought to have been;--but yet
she was disturbed by it. It had been delivered to herself in the usual
way, and she might have concealed the receipt of it from her mother,
because the servants in the house were all on her side. But this would
not be in accordance with the conduct which she had arranged for
herself, and she told her mother. "It is just an acknowledgment of mine
to him. It was to have been expected, but I regret it."

"I do not ask to see it," said Mrs. Mountjoy, angrily.

"I could not show it you, mamma, though I think it right to tell you of
it."

"I do not ask to see it, I tell you. I never wish to hear his name again
from your tongue. But I knew how it would be;--of course. I cannot allow
this kind of thing to go on. It must be prevented."

"It will not go on, mamma."

"But it has gone on. You tell me that he has already written. Do you
think it proper that you should correspond with a young man of whom I do
not approve?" Florence endeavored to reflect whether she did think it
proper or not. She thought it quite proper that she should love Harry
Annesley with all her heart, but was not quite sure as to the
correspondence. "At any rate, you must understand," continued Mrs.
Mountjoy, "that I will not permit it. All letters, while we are abroad,
must be brought to me; and if any come from him they shall be sent back
to him. I do not wish to open his letters, but you cannot be allowed to
receive them. When we are at Brussels I shall consult your uncle upon
the subject. I am very sorry, Florence, that there should be this cause
of quarrel between us; but it is your doing."

"Oh, mamma, why should you be so hard?"

"I am hard, because I will not allow you to accept a young man who has,
I believe, behaved very badly, and who has got nothing of his own."

"He is his uncle's heir."

"We know what that may come to. Mountjoy was his father's heir; and
nothing could be entailed more strictly than Tretton. We know what
entails have come to there. Mr. Prosper will find some way of escaping
from it. Entails go for nothing now; and I hear that he thinks so badly
of his nephew that he has already quarrelled with him. And he is quite a
young man himself. I cannot think how you can be so foolish,--you, who
declared that you are throwing your cousin over because he is no longer
to have all his father's property."

"Oh, mamma, that is not true."

"Very well, my dear."

"I never allowed it to be said in my name that I was engaged to my
cousin Mountjoy."

"Very well, I will never allow it to be said in my name that with my
consent you are engaged to Mr. Henry Annesley."

Six or seven days after this they were settled together most
uncomfortably in a hotel at Boulogne. Mrs. Mountjoy had gone there
because there was no other retreat to which she could take her daughter,
and because she had resolved to remove her from beyond the sphere of
Harry Annesley's presence. She had at first thought of Ostend; but it
had seemed to her that Ostend was within the kingdom reigned over by Sir
Magnus and that there would be some impropriety in removing from thence
to the capital in which Sir Magnus was reigning. It was as though you
were to sojourn for three days at the park-gates before you were
entertained at the mansion. Therefore they stayed at Boulogne, and Mrs.
Mountjoy tried the bathing, cold as the water was with equinoctial
gales, in order that there might be the appearance of a reason for her
being at Boulogne. And for company's sake, in the hope of maintaining
some fellowship with her mother, Florence bathed also. "Mamma, he has
not written again," said Florence, coming up one day from the stand.

"I suppose that you are impatient."

"Why should there be a quarrel between us? I am not impatient. If you
would only believe me, it would be so much more happy for both of us.
You always used to believe me."

"That was before you knew Mr. Harry Annesley."

There was something in this very aggravating,--something specially
intended to excite angry feelings. But Florence determined to forbear.
"I think you may believe me, mamma. I am your own daughter, and I shall
not deceive you. I do consider myself engaged to Mr. Annesley."

"You need not tell me that."

"But while I am living with you I will promise not to receive letters
from him without your leave. If one should come I will bring it to you,
unopened, so that you may deal with it as though it had been delivered
to yourself. I care nothing about my uncle as to this affair. What he
may say cannot affect me, but what you say does affect me very much. I
will promise neither to write nor to hear from Mr. Annesley for three
months. Will not that satisfy you?" Mrs. Mountjoy would not say that it
did satisfy her; but she somewhat mitigated her treatment of her
daughter till they arrived together at Sir Magnus's mansion.

They were shown through the great hall by three lackeys into an inner
vestibule, where they encountered the great man himself. He was just
then preparing to be put on to his horse, and Lady Mountjoy had already
gone forth in her carriage for her daily airing, with the object, in
truth, of avoiding the new-comers. "My dear Sarah," said Sir Magnus, "I
hope I have the pleasure of seeing you and my niece very well. Let me
see, your name is--"

"My name is Florence," said the young lady so interrogated.

"Ah yes; to be sure. I shall forget my own name soon. If any one was to
call me Magnus without the 'Sir,' I shouldn't know whom they meant."
Then he looked his niece in the face, and it occurred to him that
Anderson might not improbably desire to flirt with her. Anderson was the
riding attaché, who always accompanied him on horseback, and of whom
Lady Mountjoy had predicted that he would be sure to flirt with the
minister's niece. At that moment Anderson himself came in, and some
ceremony of introduction took place. Anderson was a fair-haired,
good-looking young man, with that thorough look of self-satisfaction and
conceit which attachés are much more wont to exhibit than to deserve.
For the work of an attaché at Brussels is not of a nature to bring forth
the highest order of intellect; but the occupations are of a nature to
make a young man feel that he is not like other young men.

"I am so sorry that Lady Mountjoy has just gone out. She did not expect
you till the later train. You have been staying at Boulogne. What on
earth made you stay at Boulogne?"

"Bathing," said Mrs. Mountjoy, in a low voice.

"Ah, yes; I suppose so. Why did you not come to Ostend? There is better
bathing there, and I could have done something for you. What! The horses
ready, are they? I must go out and show myself, or otherwise they'll all
think that I am dead. If I were absent from the boulevard at this time
of day I should be put into the newspapers. Where is Mrs. Richards?"
Then the two guests, with their own special Baker, were made over to the
ministerial house-keeper, and Sir Magnus went forth upon his ride.

"She's a pretty girl, that niece of mine," said Sir Magnus.

"Uncommonly pretty," said the attaché.

"But I believe she is engaged to some one. I quite forget who; but I
know there is some aspirant. Therefore you had better keep your toe in
your pump, young man."

"I don't know that I shall keep my toe in my pump because there is
another aspirant," said Anderson. "You rather whet my ardor, sir, to new
exploits. In such circumstances one is inclined to think that the
aspirant must look after himself. Not that I conceive for a moment that
Miss Mountjoy should ever look after me."

When Mrs. Mountjoy came down to the drawing-room there seemed to be
quite "a party" collected to enjoy the hospitality of Sir Magnus, but
there were not, in truth, many more than the usual number at the board.
There were Lady Mountjoy, and Miss Abbot, and Mr. Anderson, with Mr.
Montgomery Arbuthnot, the two attachés. Mr. Montgomery Arbuthnot was
especially proud of his name, but was otherwise rather a humble young
man as an attaché, having as yet been only three months with Sir Magnus,
and desirous of perfecting himself in Foreign Office manners under the
tuition of Mr. Anderson. Mr. Blow, Secretary of Legation, was not there.
He was a married man of austere manners, who, to tell the truth, looked
down from a considerable height, as regarded Foreign Office knowledge,
upon his chief.

It was Mr. Blow who did the "grinding" on behalf of the Belgian
Legation, and who sometimes did not hesitate to let it be known that
such was the fact. Neither he nor Mrs. Blow was popular at the Embassy;
or it may, perhaps, be said with more truth that the Embassy was not
popular with Mr. and Mrs. Blow. It may be stated, also, that there was a
clerk attached to the establishment, Mr. Bunderdown, who had been there
for some years, and who was good-naturedly regarded by the English
inhabitants as a third attaché. Mr. Montgomery Arbuthnot did his best to
let it be understood that this was a mistake. In the small affairs of
the legation, which no doubt did not go beyond the legation, Mr.
Bunderdown generally sided with Mr. Blow. Mr. Montgomery Arbuthnot was
recognized as a second mounted attaché, though his attendance on the
boulevard was not as constant as that of Mr. Anderson, in consequence,
probably, of the fact that he had not a horse of his own. But there were
others also present. There were Sir Thomas Tresham, with his wife, who
had been sent over to inquire into the iron trade of Belgium. He was a
learned free-trader who could not be got to agree with the old familiar
views of Sir Magnus,--who thought that the more iron that was produced in
Belgium the less would be forthcoming from England. But Sir Thomas knew
better, and as Sir Magnus was quite unable to hold his own with the
political economist, he gave him many dinners and was civil to his wife.
Sir Thomas, no doubt, felt that in doing so Sir Magnus did all that
could be expected from him. Lady Tresham was a quiet little woman, who
could endure to be patronized by Lady Mountjoy without annoyance. And
there was M. Grascour, from the Belgian Foreign Office, who spoke
English so much better than the other gentlemen present that a stranger
might have supposed him to be a school-master whose mission it was to
instruct the English Embassy in their own language.

"Oh, Mrs Mountjoy, I am so ashamed of myself!" said Lady Mountjoy, as
she waddled into the room two minutes after the guests had been
assembled. She had a way of waddling that was quite her own, and which
they who knew her best declared that she had adopted in lieu of other
graces of manner. She puffed a little also, and did contrive to attract
peculiar attention. "But I have to be in my carriage every day at the
same hour. I don't know what would be thought of us if we were absent."
Then she turned, with a puff and a waddle, to Miss Abbot. "Dear Lady
Tresham was with us." Mrs. Mountjoy murmured something as to her
satisfaction at not having delayed the carriage-party, and bethought
herself how exactly similar had been the excuse made by Sir Magnus
himself. Then Lady Mountjoy gave another little puff, and assured
Florence that she hoped she would find Brussels sufficiently gay,--"not
that we pretend at all to equal Paris."

"We live at Cheltenham," said Florence, "and that is not at all like
Paris. Indeed, I never slept but two nights at Paris in my life."

"Then we shall do very well at Brussels." After this she waddled off
again, and was stopped in her waddling by Sir Magnus, who sternly
desired her to prepare for the august ceremony of going in to dinner.
The one period of real importance at the English Embassy was, no doubt,
the daily dinner-hour.

Florence found herself seated between Mr. Anderson, who had taken her
in, and M. Grascour, who had performed the same ceremony for her
ladyship. "I am sure you will like this little capital very much," said
M. Grascour. "It is as much nicer than Paris as it is smaller and less
pretentious." Florence could only assent. "You will soon be able to
learn something of us; but in Paris you must be to the manner born, or
half a lifetime will not suffice."

"We'll put you up to the time of day," said Mr. Anderson, who did not
choose, as he said afterward, that this tidbit should be taken out of
his mouth.

"I dare say that all that I shall want will come naturally without any
putting up."

"You won't find it amiss to know a little of what's what. You have not
got a riding-horse here?"

"Oh no," said Florence.

"I was going on to say that I can manage to secure one for you.
Billibong has got an excellent horse that carried the Princess of Styria
last year." Mr. Anderson was supposed to be peculiarly up to everything
concerning horses.

"But I have not got a habit. That is a much more serious affair."

"Well, yes. Billibong does not keep habits: I wish he did. But we can
manage that too. There does live a habit-maker in Brussels."

"Ladies' habits certainly are made in Brussels," said M. Grascour. "But
if Miss Mountjoy does not choose to trust a Belgian tailor there is the
railway open to her. An English habit can be sent."

"Dear Lady Centaur had one sent to her only last year, when she was
staying here," said Lady Mountjoy across her neighbor, with two little
puffs.

"I shall not at all want the habit," said Florence, "not having the
horse, and indeed, never being accustomed to ride at all."

"Do tell me what it is that you do do," said Mr. Anderson, with a
convenient whisper, when he found that M. Grascour had fallen into
conversation with her ladyship. "Lawn-tennis?"

"I do play at lawn-tennis, though I am not wedded to it."

"Billiards? I know you play billiards."

"I never struck a ball in my life."

"Goodness gracious, how odd! Don't you ever amuse yourself at all? Are
they so very devotional down at Cheltenham?"

"I suppose we are stupid. I don't know that I ever do especially amuse
myself."

"We must teach you;--we really must teach you. I think I may boast of
myself that I am a good instructor in that line. Will you promise to put
yourself into my hands?"

"You will find me a most unpromising pupil."

"Not in the least. I will undertake that when you leave this you shall
be _au fait_ at everything. Leap frog is not too heavy for me and
spillikins not too light. I am up to them all, from backgammon to a
cotillon,--not but what I prefer the cotillon for my own taste."

"Or leap-frog, perhaps," suggested Florence.

"Well, yes; leap-frog used to be a good game at Gother School, and I
don't see why we shouldn't have it back again. Ladies, of course, must
have a costume on purpose. But I am fond of anything that requires a
costume. Don't you like everything out of the common way? I do."
Florence assured him that their tastes were wholly dissimilar, as she
liked everything in the common way. "That's what I call an uncommonly
pretty girl," he said afterward to M. Grascour, while Sir Magnus was
talking to Sir Thomas. "What an eye!"

"Yes, indeed; she is very lovely."

"My word, you may say that! And such a turn of the shoulders! I don't
say which are the best-looking, as a rule, English or Belgians, but
there are very few of either to come up to her."

"Anderson, can you tell us how many tons of steel rails they turn out at
Liege every week? Sir Thomas asks me, just as though it were the
simplest question in the world."

"Forty million," said Anderson,--"more or less."

"Twenty thousand would, perhaps, be nearer the mark," said M. Grascour;
"but I will send him the exact amount to-morrow."



CHAPTER XV.

MR. ANDERSON'S LOVE.


Lady Mountjoy had certainly prophesied the truth when she said that Mr.
Anderson would devote himself to Florence. The first week in Brussels
passed by quietly enough. A young man can hardly declare his passion
within a week, and Mr. Anderson's ways in that particular were well
known. A certain amount of license was usually given to him, both by Sir
Magnus and Lady Mountjoy, and when he would become remarkable by the
rapidity of his changes the only adverse criticism would come generally
from Mr. Blow. "Another peerless Bird of Paradise," Mr. Blow would say.
"If the birds were less numerous, Anderson might, perhaps, do
something." But at the end of the week, on this occasion, even Sir
Magnus perceived that Anderson was about to make himself peculiar.

"By George!" he said one morning, when Sir Magnus had just left the
outer office, which he had entered with the object of giving some
instruction as to the day's ride, "take her altogether, I never saw a
girl so fit as Miss Mountjoy." There was something very remarkable in
this speech, as, according to his usual habit of life, Anderson would
certainly have called her Florence, whereas his present appellation
showed an unwonted respect.

"What do you mean when you say that a young lady is fit?" said Mr. Blow.

"I mean that she is right all round, which is a great deal more than can
be said of most of them."

"The divine Florence--" began Mr. Montgomery Arbuthnot, struggling to
say something funny.

"Young man, you had better hold your tongue, and not talk of young
ladies in that language."

"I do believe that he is going to fall in love," said Mr. Blow.

"I say that Miss Mountjoy is the fittest girl I have seen for many a
day; and when a young puppy calls her the divine Florence, he does not
know what he is about."

"Why didn't you blow Mr. Blow up when he called her a Bird of Paradise?"
said Montgomery Arbuthnot. "Divine Florence is not half so disrespectful
of a young lady as Bird of Paradise. Divine Florence means divine
Florence, but Bird of Paradise is chaff."

"Mr. Blow, as a married man," said Anderson, "has a certain freedom
allowed him. If he uses it in bad taste, the evil falls back upon his
own head. Now, if you please, we'll change the conversation." From this
it will be seen that Mr. Anderson had really fallen in love with Miss
Mountjoy.

But though the week had passed in a harmless way to Sir Magnus and Lady
Mountjoy,--in a harmless way to them as regarded their niece and their
attaché,--a certain amount of annoyance had, no doubt, been felt by
Florence herself. Though Mr. Anderson's expressions of admiration had
been more subdued than usual, though he had endeavored to whisper his
love rather than to talk it out loud, still the admiration had been both
visible and audible, and especially so to Florence herself. It was
nothing to Sir Magnus with whom his attaché flirted. Anderson was the
younger son of a baronet who had a sickly elder brother, and some
fortune of his own. If he chose to marry the girl, that would be well
for her; and if not, it would be quite well that the young people should
amuse themselves. He expected Anderson to help to put him on his horse,
and to ride with him at the appointed hour. He, in return, gave Anderson
his dinner and as much wine as he chose to drink. They were both
satisfied with each other, and Sir Magnus did not choose to interfere
with the young man's amusements. But Florence did not like being the
subject of a young man's love-making, and complained to her mother.

Now, it had come to pass that not a word had been said as to Harry
Annesley since the mother and daughter had reached Brussels. Mrs.
Mountjoy had declared that she would consult her brother-in-law in that
difficulty, but no such consultation had as yet taken place. Indeed,
Florence would not have found her sojourn at Brussels to be unpleasant
were it not for Mr. Anderson's unpalatable little whispers. She had
taken them as jokes as long as she had been able to do so, but was now
at last driven to perceive that other people would not do so. "Mamma,"
she said, "don't you think that that Mr. Anderson is an odious young
man?"

"No, my dear, by no means. What is there odious about him? He is very
lively; he is the second son of Sir Gregory Anderson, and has very
comfortable means of his own."

"Oh, mamma, what does that signify?"

"Well, my dear, it does signify. In the first place, he is a gentleman,
and in the next, has a right to make himself attentive to any young lady
in your position. I don't say anything more. I am not particularly
wedded to Mr. Anderson. If he were to come to me and ask for my
permission to address you, I should simply refer him to yourself, by
which I should mean to imply that if he could contrive to recommend
himself to you I should not refuse my sanction."

Then the subject for that moment dropped, but Florence was astonished to
find that her mother could talk about it, not only without reference to
Harry Annesley, but also without an apparent thought of Mountjoy
Scarborough; and it was distressing to her to think that her mother
should pretend to feel that she, her own daughter, should be free to
receive the advances of another suitor. As she reflected it came across
her mind that Harry was so odious that her mother would have been
willing to accept on her behalf any suitor who presented himself, even
though her daughter, in accepting him, should have proved herself to be
heartless. Any alternative would have been better to her mother than
that choice to which Florence had determined to devote her whole life.

"Mamma," she said, going back to the subject on the next day, "if I am
to stay here for three weeks longer--"

"Yes, my dear, you are to stay here for three weeks longer."

"Then somebody must say something to Mr. Anderson."

"I do not see who can say it but you yourself. As far as I can see, he
has not misbehaved."

"I wish you would speak to my uncle."

"What am I to tell him?"

"That I am engaged."

"He would ask me to whom, and I cannot tell him. I should then be driven
to put the whole case in his hands, and to ask his advice. You do not
suppose that I am going to say that you are engaged to marry that odious
young man? All the world knows how atrociously badly he has behaved to
your own cousin. He left him lying for dead in the street by a blow from
his own hand; and though from that day to this nothing has been heard of
Mountjoy, nothing is known to the police of what may have been his
fate;--even stranger, he may have perished under the usage which he
received, yet Mr. Annesley has not thought it right to say a word of
what had occurred. He has not dared even to tell an inspector of police
the events of that night. And the young man was your own cousin, to whom
you were known to have been promised for the last two years."

"No, no!" said Florence.

"I say that it was so. You were promised to your cousin, Mountjoy
Scarborough."

"Not with my own consent."

"All your friends,--your natural friends,--knew that it was to be so. And
now you expect me to take by the hand this young man who has almost been
his murderer!"

"No, mamma, it is not true. You do not know the circumstances, and you
assert things which are directly at variance with the truth."

"From whom do you get your information? From the young man himself. Is
that likely to be true? What would Sir Magnus say as to that were I to
tell him?"

"I do not know what he would say, but I do know what is the truth. And
can you think it possible that I should now be willing to accept this
foolish young man in order thus to put an end to my embarrassments?"

Then she left her mother's room, and, retreating to her own, sat for a
couple of hours thinking, partly in anger and partly in grief, of the
troubles of her situation. Her mother had now, in truth, frightened her
as to Harry's position. She did begin to see what men might say of him,
and the way in which they might speak of his silence, though she was
resolved to be as true to him in her faith as ever. Some exertion of
spirit would, indeed, be necessary. She was beginning to understand in
what way the outside world might talk of Harry Annesley, of the man to
whom she had given herself and her whole heart. Then her mother was
right. And as she thought of it she began to justify her mother. It was
natural that her mother should believe the story which had been told to
her, let it have come from where it might. There was in her mind some
suspicion of the truth. She acknowledged a great animosity to her cousin
Augustus, and regarded him as one of the causes of her unhappiness. But
she knew nothing of the real facts; she did not even suspect that
Augustus had seen his brother after Harry had dealt with him, or that he
was responsible for his brother's absence. But she knew that she
disliked him, and in some way she connected his name with Harry's
misfortune.

Of one thing she was certain: let them,--the Mountjoys, and Prospers, and
the rest of the world,--think and say what they would of Harry, she would
be true to him. She could understand that his character might be made to
suffer, but it should not suffer in her estimation. Or rather, let it
suffer ever so, that should not affect her love and her truth. She did
not say this to herself. By saying it even to herself she would have
committed some default of truth. She did not whisper it even to her own
heart. But within her heart there was a feeling that, let Harry be right
or wrong in what he had done, even let it be proved, to the satisfaction
of all the world, that he had sinned grievously when he had left the man
stunned and bleeding on the pavement,--for to such details her mother's
story had gone,--still, to her he should be braver, more noble, more
manly, more worthy of being loved, than was any other man. She,
perceiving the difficulties that were in store for her, and looking
forward to the misfortune under which Harry might be placed, declared to
herself that he should at least have one friend who would be true to
him.

"Miss Mountjoy, I have come to you with a message from your aunt." This
was said, three or four days after the conversation between Florence and
her mother, by Mr. Anderson, who had contrived to follow the young lady
into a small drawing-room after luncheon. What was the nature of the
message it is not necessary for us to know. We may be sure that it had
been manufactured by Mr. Anderson for the occasion. He had looked about
and spied, and had discovered that Miss Mountjoy was alone in the little
room. And in thus spying we consider him to have been perfectly
justified. His business at the moment was that of making love, a
business which is allowed to override all other considerations. Even the
making an office copy of a report made by Mr. Blow for the signature of
Sir Magnus might, according to our view of life, have been properly laid
aside for such a purpose. When a young man has it in him to make love to
a young lady, and is earnest in his intention, no duty, however
paramount, should be held as a restraint. Such was Mr. Anderson's
intention at the present moment; and therefore we think that he was
justified in concocting a message from Lady Mountjoy. The business of
love-making warrants any concoction to which the lover may resort. "But
oh, Miss Mountjoy, I am so glad to have a moment in which I can find you
alone!" It must be understood that the amorous young gentleman had not
yet been acquainted with the young lady for quite a fortnight.

"I was just about to go up-stairs to my mother," said Florence, rising
to leave the room.

"Oh, bother your mother! I beg her pardon and yours;--I really didn't
mean it. There is such a lot of chaff going on in that outer room, that
a fellow falls into the way of it whether he likes it or no."

"My mother won't mind it at all; but I really must go."

"Oh no. I am sure you can wait for five minutes. I don't want to keep
you for more than five minutes. But it is so hard for a fellow to get an
opportunity to say a few words."

"What words can you want to say to me, Mr. Anderson?" This she said with
a look of great surprise, as though utterly unable to imagine what was
to follow.

"Well, I did hope that you might have some idea of what my feelings
are."

"Not in the least."

"Haven't you, now? I suppose I am bound to believe you, though I doubt
whether I quite do. Pray excuse me for saying this, but it is best to be
open." Florence felt that he ought to be excused for doubting her, as
she did know very well what was coming. "I--I--Come, then; I love you!
If I were to go on beating about the bush for twelve months I could only
come to the same conclusion."

"Perhaps you might then have considered it better."

"Not in the least. Fancy considering such a thing as that for twelve
months before you speak of it! I couldn't do it,--not for twelve days."

"So I perceive, Mr. Anderson."

"Well, isn't it best to speak the truth when you're quite sure of it? If
I were to remain dumb for three months, how should I know but what some
one else might come in the way?"

"But you can't expect that I should be so sudden?"

"That's just where it is. Of course I don't. And yet girls have to be
sudden too."

"Have they?"

"They're expected to be ready with their answer as soon as they're
asked. I don't say this by way of impertinence, but merely to show that
I have some justification. Of course, if you like to say that you must
take a week to think of it, I am prepared for that. Only let me tell my
own story first."

"You shall tell your own story, Mr. Anderson; but I am afraid that it
can be to no purpose."

"Don't say that,--pray, don't say that,--but do let me tell it." Then he
paused; but, as she remained silent, after a moment he resumed the
eloquence of his appeal. "By George! Miss Mountjoy, I have been so
struck of a heap that I do not know whether I am standing on my head or
my heels. You have knocked me so completely off my pins that I am not at
all like the same person. Sir Magnus himself says that he never saw such
a difference. I only say that to show that I am quite in earnest. Now I
am not quite like a fellow that has no business to fall in love with a
girl. I have four hundred a year besides my place in the Foreign Office.
And then, of course, there are chances." In this he alluded to his
brother's failing health, of which he could not explain the details to
Miss Mountjoy on the present occasion. "I don't mean to say that this is
very splendid, or that it is half what I should like to lay at your
feet. But a competence is comfortable."

"Money has nothing to do with it, Mr. Anderson."

"What, then? Perhaps it is that you don't like a fellow. What girls
generally do like is devotion, and, by George, you'd have that. The very
ground that you tread upon is sweet to me. For beauty,--I don't know how
it is, but to my taste there is no one I ever saw at all like you. You
fit me--well, as though you were made for me. I know that another fellow
might say it a deal better, but no one more truly. Miss Mountjoy, I
love you with all my heart, and I want you to be my wife. Now you've got
it!"

He had not pleaded his cause badly, and so Florence felt. That he had
pleaded it hopelessly was a matter of course. But he had given rise to
feelings of gentle regard rather than of anger. He had been honest, and
had contrived to make her believe him. He did not come up to her ideal
of what a lover should be, but he was nearer to it than Mountjoy
Scarborough. He had touched her so closely that she determined at once
to tell him the truth, thinking that she might best in this way put an
end to his passion forever. "Mr. Anderson," she said, "though I have
known it to be vain, I have thought it best to listen to you, because
you asked it."

"I am sure I am awfully obliged to you."

"And I ought to thank you for the kind feeling you have expressed to me.
Indeed, I do thank you. I believe every word you have said. It is better
to show my confidence in your truth than to pretend to the humility of
thinking you untrue."

"It is true; it is true,--every word of it."

"But I am engaged." Then it was sad to see the thorough change which
came over the young man's face. "Of course a girl does not talk of her
own little affairs to strangers, or I would let you have known this
before, so as to have prevented it. But, in truth, I am engaged."

"Does Sir Magnus know it, or Lady Mountjoy?"

"I should think not."

"Does your mother?"

"Now you are taking advantage of my confidence, and pressing your
questions too closely. But my mother does know of it. I will tell you
more;--she does not approve of it. But it is fixed in Heaven itself. It
may well be that I shall never be able to marry the gentleman to whom I
allude, but most certainly I shall marry no one else. I have told you
this because it seems to be necessary to your welfare, so that you may
get over this passing feeling."

"It is no passing feeling," said Anderson, with some tragic grandeur.

"At any rate, you have now my story, and remember that it is trusted to
you as a gentleman. I have told it you for a purpose." Then she walked
out of the room, leaving the poor young man in temporary despair.



CHAPTER XVI.

MR. AND MISS GREY.


It was now the middle of October, and it may be said that from the time
in which old Mr. Scarborough had declared his intention of showing that
the elder of his sons had no right to the property, Mr. Grey, the
lawyer, had been so occupied with the Scarborough affairs as to have had
left him hardly a moment for other considerations.

He had a partner, who during these four months had, in fact, carried on
the business. One difficulty had grown out of another till Mr. Grey's
whole time had been occupied; and all his thoughts had been filled with
Mr. Scarborough, which is a matter of much greater moment to a man than
the loss of his time. The question of Mountjoy Scarborough's position
had been first submitted to him in June. October had now been reached
and Mr. Grey had been out of town only for a fortnight, during which
fortnight he had been occupied entirely in unravelling the mystery. He
had at first refused altogether to have anything to do with the
unravelling, and had desired that some other lawyer might be employed.
But it had gradually come to pass that he had entered heart and soul
into the case, and, with many execrations on his own part against Mr.
Scarborough, could find a real interest in nothing else. He had begun
his investigations with a thorough wish to discover that Mountjoy
Scarborough was, in truth, the heir. Though he had never loved the young
man, and, as he went on with his investigations, became aware that the
whole property would go to the creditors should he succeed in proving
that Mountjoy was the heir, yet for the sake of abstract honesty he was
most anxious that it should be so. And he could not bear to think that
he and other lawyers had been taken in by the wily craft of such a man
as the Squire of Tretton. It went thoroughly against the grain with him
to have to acknowledge that the estate would become the property of
Augustus. But it was so, and he did acknowledge it. It was proved to him
that, in spite of all the evidence which he had hitherto seen in the
matter, the squire had not married his wife until after the birth of his
eldest son. He did acknowledge it, and he said bravely that it must be
so. Then there came down upon him a crowd of enemies in the guise of
baffled creditors, all of whom believed, or professed to believe, that
he, Mr. Grey, was in league with the squire to rob them of their rights.

If it could be proved that Mountjoy had no claim to the property, then
would it go nominally to Augustus, who according to their showing was
also one of the confederates, and the property could thus, they said, be
divided. Very shortly the squire would be dead, and then the
confederates would get everything, to the utter exclusion of poor Mr.
Tyrrwhit, and poor Mr. Samuel Hart, and all the other poor creditors,
who would thus be denuded, defrauded, and robbed by a lawyer's trick. It
was in this spirit that Mr. Grey was attacked by Mr. Tyrrwhit and the
others; and Mr. Grey found it very hard to bear.

And then there was another matter which was also very grievous to him.
If it were as he now stated,--if the squire had been guilty of this
fraud,--to what punishment would he be subjected? Mountjoy was declared
to have been innocent. Mr. Tyrrwhit, as he put the case to his own
lawyers, laughed bitterly as he made this suggestion. And Augustus was,
of course, innocent. Then there was renewed laughter. And Mr. Grey! Mr.
Grey had, of course, been innocent. Then the laughter was very loud. Was
it to be believed that anybody could be taken in by such a story as
this? There was he, Mr. Tyrrwhit: he had ever been known as a sharp
fellow; and Mr. Samuel Hart, who was now away on his travels, and the
others;--they were all of them sharp fellows. Was it to be believed that
such a set of gentlemen, so keenly alive to their own interest, should
be made the victims of such a trick as this? Not if they knew it! Not if
Mr. Tyrrwhit knew it!

It was in this shape that the matter reached Mr. Grey's ears; and then
it was asked, if it were so, what would be the punishment to which they
would be subjected who had defrauded Mr. Tyrrwhit of his just claim. Mr.
Tyrrwhit, who on one occasion made his way into Mr, Grey's presence,
wished to get an answer to that question from Mr. Grey. "The man is
dying," said Mr. Grey, solemnly.

"Dying! He is not more likely to die than you are, from all I hear." At
this time rumors of Mr. Scarborough's improved health had reached the
creditors in London. Mr. Tyrrwhit had begun to believe that Mr.
Scarborough's dangerous condition had been part of the hoax; that there
had been no surgeon's knives, no terrible operations, no moment of
almost certain death. "I don't believe he's been ill at all," said Mr.
Tyrrwhit.

"I cannot help your belief," said Mr. Grey.

"But because a man doesn't die and recovers, is he on that account to be
allowed to cheat people, as he has cheated me, with impunity?"

"I am not going to defend Mr. Scarborough; but he has not, in fact,
cheated you."

"Who has? Come; do you mean to tell me that if this goes on I shall not
have been defrauded of a hundred thousand pounds?"

"Did you ever see Mr. Scarborough on the matter?"

"No; it was not necessary."

"Or have you got his writing to any document? Have you anything to show
that he knew what his son was doing when he borrowed money of you? Is it
not perfectly clear that he knew nothing about it?"

"Of course he knew nothing about it then,--at that time. It was afterward
that his fraud began. When he found that the estate was in jeopardy,
then the falsehood was concocted."

"Ah, there, Mr. Tyrrwhit, I can only say, that I disagree with you. I
must express my opinion that if you endeavor to recover your money on
that plea you will be beaten. If you can prove fraud of that kind, no
doubt you can punish those who have been guilty of it,--me among the
number."

"I say nothing of that," said Mr. Tyrrwhit.

"But if you have been led into your present difficulty by an illegal
attempt on the part of my client to prove an illegitimate son to have
been legitimate, and then to have changed his mind for certain purposes,
I do not see how you are to punish him. The act will have been attempted
and not completed. And it will have been an act concerning his son and
not concerning you."

"Not concerning me!" shrieked Mr. Tyrrwhit.

"Certainly not, legally. You are not in a position to prove that he knew
that his son was borrowing money from you on the credit of the estate.
As a fact he certainly did not know it."

"We shall see about that," said Mr. Tyrrwhit.

"Then you must see about it, but not with my aid. As a fact I am telling
you all that I know about it. If I could I would prove Mountjoy
Scarborough to be his father's heir to-morrow. Indeed, I am altogether
on your side in the matter,--if you would believe it." Here Mr. Tyrrwhit
again laughed. "But you will not believe it, and I do not ask you to do
so. As it is we must be opposed to each other."

"Where is the young man?" asked Mr. Tyrrwhit.

"Ah, that is a question I am not bound to answer, even if I knew. It is
a matter on which I say nothing. You have lent him money, at an
exorbitant rate of interest."

"It is not true."

"At any rate it seems so to me; and it is out of the question that I
should assist you in recovering it. You did it at your own peril, and
not on my advice. Good-morning, Mr. Tyrrwhit." Then Mr. Tyrrwhit went
his way, not without sundry threats as to the whole Scarborough family.

It was very hard upon Mr. Grey, because he certainly was an honest man
and had taken up the matter simply with a view of learning the truth. It
had been whispered to him within the last day or two that Mountjoy
Scarborough had lately been seen alive, and gambling with reckless
prodigality, at Monte Carlo. It had only been told to him as probably
true, but he certainly believed it. But he knew nothing of the details
of his disappearance, and had not been much surprised, as he had never
believed that the young man had been murdered or had made away with
himself. But he had heard before that of the quarrel in the street
between him and Harry Annesley; and the story had been told to him so as
to fall with great discredit on Harry Annesley's head.

According to that story Harry Annesley had struck his foe during the
night and had left him for dead upon the pavement. Then Mountjoy
Scarborough had been missing, and Harry Annesley had told no one of the
quarrel. There had been some girl in question. So much and no more Mr.
Grey had heard, and was, of course, inclined to think that Harry
Annesley must have behaved very badly. But of the mode of Mountjoy's
subsequent escape he had heard nothing.

Mr. Grey at this time was living down at Fulham, in a small,
old-fashioned house which over-looked the river, and was called the
Manor-house. He would have said that it was his custom to go home every
day by an omnibus, but he did, in truth, almost always remain at his
office so late as to make it necessary that he should return by a cab.
He was a man fairly well to do in the world, as he had no one depending
on him but one daughter,--no one, that is to say, whom he was obliged to
support. But he had a married sister with a scapegrace husband and six
daughters whom, in fact, he did support. Mrs. Carroll, with the kindest
intentions in the world, had come and lived near him. She had taken a
genteel house in Bolsover Terrace,--a genteel new house on the Fulham
Road, about a quarter of a mile from her brother. Mr. Grey lived in the
old Manor-house, a small, uncomfortable place, which had a nook of its
own, close upon the water, and with a lovely little lawn. It was
certainly most uncomfortable as a gentleman's residence, but no
consideration would induce Mr. Grey to sell it. There were but two
sitting-rooms in it, and one was for the most part uninhabited. The
up-stairs drawing-room was furnished, but any one with half an eye could
see that it was never used. A "stray" caller might be shown up there,
but callers of that class were very uncommon in Mr. Grey's
establishment.

With his own domestic arrangements Mr. Grey would have been quite
contented, had it not been for Mrs. Carroll. It was now some years since
he had declared that though Mr. Carroll,--or Captain Carroll, as he had
then been called,--was an improvident, worthless, drunken Irishman, he
would never see his sister want. The consequence was that Carroll had
come with his wife and six daughters and taken a house close to him.
There are such "whips and scorns" in the world to which a man shall be
so subject as to have the whole tenor of his life changed by them. The
hero bears them heroically, making no complaints to those around him.
The common man shrinks, and squeals, and cringes, so that he is known to
those around him as one especially persecuted. In this respect Mr. Grey
was a grand hero. When he spoke to his friends of Mrs. Carroll his
friends were taught to believe that his outside arrangements with his
sister were perfectly comfortable. No doubt there did creep out among
those who were most intimate with him a knowledge that Mr. Carroll,--for
the captain had, in truth, never been more than a lieutenant, and had
now long since sold out,--was impecunious, and a trouble rather than
otherwise. But I doubt whether there was a single inhabitant of the
neighborhood of Fulham who was aware that Mrs. Carroll and the Miss
Carrolls cost Mr. Grey on an average above six hundred a year.

There was one in Mr. Grey's family to whom he was so attached that he
would, to oblige her, have thrown over the whole Carroll family; but of
this that one person would not hear. She hated the whole Carroll family
with an almost unholy hatred, of which she herself was endeavoring to
repent daily, but in vain. She could not do other than hate them, but
she could do other than allow her father to withdraw his fostering
protection; for this one person was Mr. Grey's only daughter and his one
close domestic associate. Miss Dorothy Grey was known well to all the
neighborhood, and was both feared and revered. As we shall have much to
do with her in the telling of our story, it may be well to make her
stand plainly before the reader's eyes.

In the first place, it must be understood that she was motherless,
brotherless and sisterless. She had been Mr. Grey's only child, and her
mother had been dead for fifteen or sixteen years. She was now about
thirty years of age, but was generally regarded as ranging somewhere
between forty and fifty. "If she isn't nearer fifty than forty I'll eat
my old shoes," said a lady in the neighborhood to a gentleman. "I've
known her these twenty years, and she's not altered in the least." As
Dolly Grey had been only ten twenty years ago, the lady must have been
wrong. But it is singular how a person's memory of things may be created
out of their present appearances. Dorothy herself had apparently no
desire to set right this erroneous opinion which the neighborhood
entertained respecting her. She did not seem to care whether she was
supposed to be thirty, or forty, or fifty. Of youth, as a means of
getting lovers, she entertained a profound contempt. That no lover would
ever come she was assured, and would not at all have known what to do
with one had he come. The only man for whom she had ever felt the
slightest regard was her father. For some women about she did entertain
a passionless, well-regulated affection, but they were generally the
poor, the afflicted, or the aged. It was, however, always necessary that
the person so signalized should be submissive. Now, Mrs. Carroll, Mr.
Grey's sister, had long since shown that she was not submissive enough,
nor were the girls, the eldest of whom was a pert, ugly, well-grown
minx, now about eighteen years old. The second sister, who was
seventeen, was supposed to be a beauty, but which of the two was the
more odious in the eyes of their cousin it would be impossible to say.

Miss Dorothy Grey was Dolly only to her father. Had any one else so
ventured to call her she would have started up at once, the outraged
aged female of fifty. Even her aunt, who was trouble enough to her, felt
that it could not be so. Her uncle tried it once, and she declined to
come into his presence for a month, letting it be fully understood that
she had been insulted.

And yet she was not, according to my idea, by any means an ill-favored
young woman. It is true that she wore spectacles; and, as she always
desired to have her eyes about with her, she never put them off when out
of bed. But how many German girls do the like, and are not accounted for
that reason to be plain? She was tall and well-made, we may almost say
robust. She had the full use of all her limbs, and was never ashamed of
using them. I think she was wrong when she would be seen to wheel the
barrow about the garden, and that her hands must have suffered in her
attempts to live down the conventional absurdities of the world. It is
true that she did wear gloves during her gardening, but she wore them
only in obedience to her father's request. She had bright eyes, somewhat
far apart, and well-made, wholesome, regular features. Her nose was
large, and her mouth was large, but they were singularly intelligent,
and full of humor when she was pleased in conversation. As to her hair,
she was too indifferent to enable one to say that it was attractive; but
it was smoothed twice a day, was very copious, and always very clean.
Indeed, for cleanliness from head to foot she was a model. "She is very
clean, but then it's second to nothing to her," had said a sarcastic old
lady, who had meant to imply that Miss Dorothy Grey was not constant at
church. But the sarcastic old lady had known nothing about it. Dorothy
Grey never stayed away from morning church unless her presence was
desired by her father, and for once or twice that she might do so she
would take her father with her three or four times,--against the grain
with him, it must be acknowledged.

But the most singular attribute of the lady's appearance has still to be
mentioned. She always wore a slouch hat, which from motives of propriety
she called her bonnet, which gave her a singular appearance, as though
it had been put on to thatch her entirely from the weather. It was made
generally of black straw, and was round, equal at all points of the
circle, and was fastened with broad brown ribbons. It was supposed in
the neighborhood to be completely weather-tight.

The unimaginative nature of Fulham did not allow the Fulham mind to
gather in the fact that, at the same time, she might possess two or
three such hats. But they were undoubtedly precisely similar, and she
would wear them in London with exactly the same indifference as in the
comparatively rural neighborhood of her own residence. She would, in
truth, go up and down in the omnibus, and would do so alone, without the
slightest regard to the opinion of any of her neighbors. The Carroll
girls would laugh at her behind her back, but no Carroll girl had been
seen ever to smile before her face, instigated to do so by their
cousin's vagaries.

But I have not yet mentioned that attribute of Miss Grey's which is,
perhaps, the most essential in her character. It is necessary, at any
rate, that they should know it who wish to understand her nature. When
it had once been brought home to her that duty required her to do this
thing or the other, or to say this word or another, the thing would be
done or the word said, let the result be what it might. Even to the
displeasure of her father the word was said or the thing was done. Such
a one was Dolly Grey.



CHAPTER XVII.

MR. GREY DINES AT HOME.


Mr. Grey returned home in a cab on the day of Mr. Tyrrwhit's visit, not
in the happiest humor. Though he had got the best of Mr. Tyrrwhit in the
conversation, still, the meeting, which had been protracted, had annoyed
him. Mr. Tyrrwhit had made accusations against himself personally which
he knew to be false, but which, having been covered up, and not
expressed exactly, he had been unable to refute. A man shall tell you
you are a thief and a scoundrel in such a manner as to make it
impossible for you to take him by the throat. "You, of course, are not a
thief and a scoundrel," he shall say to you, but shall say it in such a
tone of voice as to make you understand that he conceives you to be
both. We all know the parliamentary mode of giving an opponent the lie
so as to make it impossible that the Speaker shall interfere.

Mr. Tyrrwhit had treated Mr. Grey in the same fashion; and as Mr. Grey
was irritable, thin-skinned, and irascible, and as he would brood over
things of which it was quite unnecessary that a lawyer should take any
cognizance, he went back home an unhappy man. Indeed, the whole
Scarborough affair had been from first to last a great trouble to him.
The work which he was now performing could not, he imagined, be put into
his bill. To that he was supremely indifferent; but his younger partner
thought it a little hard that all the other work of the firm should be
thrown on his shoulders during the period which naturally would have
been his holidays, and he did make his feelings intelligible to Mr.
Grey. Mr. Grey, who was essentially a just man, saw that his partner was
right, and made offers, but he would not accede to the only proposition
which his partner made. "Let him go and look for a lawyer elsewhere,"
said his partner. They both of them knew that Mr. Scarborough had been
thoroughly dishonest, but he had been an old client. His father before
him had been a client of Mr. Grey's father. It was not in accordance
with Mr. Grey's theory to treat the old man after this fashion. And he
had taken intense interest in the matter. He had, first of all, been
quite sure that Mountjoy Scarborough was the heir; and though Mountjoy
Scarborough was not at all to his taste, he had been prepared to fight
for him. He had now assured himself, after most laborious inquiry, that
Augustus Scarborough was the heir; and although, in the course of the
business, he had come to hate the cautious, money-loving Augustus twice
worse than the gambling spendthrift Mountjoy, still, in the cause of
honesty and truth and justice, he fought for Augustus against the world
at large, and against the band of creditors, till the world at large and
the band of creditors began to think that he was leagued with
Augustus,--so as to be one of those who would make large sums of money
out of the irregularity of the affair. This made him cross, and put him
into a very bad humor as he went back to Fulham.

One thing must be told of Mr. Grey which was very much to his discredit,
and which, if generally known, would have caused his clients to think
him to be unfit to be the recipient of their family secrets;--he told all
the secrets to Dolly. He was a man who could not possibly be induced to
leave his business behind him at his office. It made the chief subject
of conversation when he was at home. He would even call Dolly into his
bedroom late at night, bringing her out of bed for the occasion, to
discuss with her some point of legal strategy,--of legal but still honest
strategy,--which had just occurred to him. Maybe he had not quite seen
his way as to the honesty, and wanted Dolly's opinion on the subject.
Dolly would come in in her dressing-gown, and, sitting on his bed, would
discuss the matter with him as advocate against the devil. Sometimes she
would be convinced; more frequently she would hold her own. But the
points which were discussed in that way, and the strength of
argumentation which was used on either side, would have surprised the
clients, and the partner, and the clerks, and the eloquent barrister who
was occasionally employed to support this side or the other. The
eloquent barrister, or it might be the client himself, startled
sometimes at the amount of enthusiasm which Mr. Grey would throw into
his argument, would little dream that the very words had come from the
young lady in her dressing-gown. To tell the truth, Miss Grey thoroughly
liked these discussions, whether held on the lawn, or in the
dining-room arm-chairs, or during the silent hours of the night. They
formed, indeed, the very salt of her life. She felt herself to be the
Conscience of the firm. Her father was the Reason. And the partner, in
her own phraseology, was the--Devil. For it must be understood that
Dolly Grey had a spice of fun about her, of which her father had the
full advantage. She would not have called her father's partner the
"Devil" to any other ear but her father's. And that her father knew,
understanding also the spirit in which the sobriquet had been applied.
He did not think that his partner was worse than another man, nor did he
think that his daughter so thought. The partner, whose name was Barry,
was a man of average honesty, who would occasionally be surprised at the
searching justness with which Mr. Grey would look into a matter after it
had been already debated for a day or two in the office. But Mr. Barry,
though he had the pleasure of Miss Grey's acquaintance, had no idea of
the nature of the duties which she performed in the firm.

"I'm nearly broken-hearted about this abominable business," said Mr.
Grey, as he went upstairs to his dressing room. The normal hour for
dinner was half-past six. He had arrived on this occasion at half-past
seven, and had paid a shilling extra to the cabman to drive him quick.
The man, having a lame horse, had come very slowly, fidgeting Mr. Grey
into additional temporary discomfort. He had got his additional
shilling, and Mr. Grey had only additional discomfort. "I declare I
think he is the wickedest old man the world ever produced." This he said
as Dolly followed him upstairs; but Dolly, wiser than her father, would
say nothing about the wicked old man in the servants' hearing.

In five minutes Mr. Grey came down "dressed,"--by the use of which word
was implied the fact that he had shaken his neckcloth, washed his hands
and face, and put on his slippers. It was understood in the household
that, though half-past six was the hour named for dinner, half-past
seven was a much more probable time. Mr. Grey pertinaciously refused to
have it changed.

"Stare super vias antiquas," he had stoutly said when the proposition
had been made to him; by which he had intended to imply that, as during
the last twenty years he had been compelled to dine at half-past six
instead of six, he did not mean to be driven any farther in the same
direction. Consequently his cook was compelled to prepare his dinner in
such a manner that it might be eaten at one hour or the other, as chance
would have it.

The dinner passed without much conversation other than incidental to
Mr. Grey's wants and comforts. His daughter knew that he had been at the
office for eight hours, and knew also that he was not a young man. Every
kind of little cosseting was, therefore, applied to him. There was a
pheasant for dinner, and it was essentially necessary, in Dolly's
opinion, that he should have first the wing, quite hot, and then the
leg, also hot, and that the bread-sauce should be quite hot on the two
occasions. For herself, if she had had an old crow for dinner it would
have been the same thing. Tea and bread-and-butter were her luxuries,
and her tea and bread-and-butter had been enjoyed three hours ago. "I
declare I think that, after all, the leg is the better joint of the
two."

"Then why don't you have the two legs?"

"There would be a savor of greediness in that, though I know that the
leg will go down,--and I shouldn't then be able to draw the comparison. I
like to have them both, and I like always to be able to assert my
opinion that the leg is the better joint. Now, how about the
apple-pudding? You said I should have an apple-pudding." From which it
appeared that Mr. Grey was not superior to having the dinner discussed
in his presence at the breakfast-table. The apple-pudding came, and was
apparently enjoyed. A large portion of it was put between two plates.
"That's for Mrs. Grimes," suggested Mr. Grey. "I am not quite sure that
Mrs. Grimes is worthy of it." "If you knew what it was to be left
without a shilling of your husband's wages you'd think yourself worthy."
When the conversation about the pudding was over Mr. Grey ate his
cheese, and then sat quite still in his arm-chair over the fire while
the things were being taken away. "I declare I think he is the wickedest
man the world has ever produced," said Mr. Grey as soon as the door was
shut, thus showing by the repetition of the words he had before used
that his mind had been intent on Mr. Scarborough rather than on the
pheasant.

"Why don't you have done with them?"

"That's all very well; but you wouldn't have done with them if you had
known them all your life."

"I wouldn't spend my time and energies in white-washing any rascal,"
said Dolly, with vigor.

"You don't know what you'd do. And a man isn't to be left in the lurch
altogether because he's a rascal. Would you have a murderer hanged
without some one to stand up for him?"

"Yes, I would," said Dolly, thoughtlessly.

"And he mightn't have been a murderer after all; or not legally so,
which as far as the law goes is the same thing."

But this special question had been often discussed between them, and Mr.
Grey and Dolly did not intend to be carried away by it on the present
occasion. "I know all about that," she said; "but this isn't a case of
life and death. The old man is only anxious to save his property, and
throws upon you all the burden of doing it. He never agrees with you as
to anything you say."

"As to legal points he does."

"But he keeps you always in hot water, and puts forward so much villany
that I would have nothing farther to do with him. He has been so crafty
that you hardly know now which is, in truth, the heir."

"Oh yes, I do," said the lawyer. "I know very well, and am very sorry
that it should be so. And I cannot but feel for the rascal because the
dishonest effort was made on behalf of his own son."

"Why was it necessary?" said Dolly, with sparks flying from her eye.
"Throughout from the beginning he has been bad. Why was the woman not
his wife?"

"Ah! why, indeed. But had his sin consisted only in that, I should not
have dreamed of refusing my assistance as a family lawyer. All that
would have gone for nothing then."

"When evil creeps in," said Dolly, sententiously, "you cannot put it
right afterward."

"Never mind about that. We shall never get to the end if you go back to
Adam and Eve."

"People don't go back often enough."

"Bother!" said Mr. Grey, finishing his second and last glass of
port-wine. "Do keep yourself in some degree to the question in dispute.
In advising an attorney of to-day as to how he is to treat a client you
can't do any good by going back to Adam and Eve. Augustus is the heir,
and I am bound to protect the property for him from these money-lending
harpies. The moment the breath is out of the old man's body they will
settle down upon it if we leave them an inch of ground on which to
stand. Every detail of his marriage must be made as clear as daylight;
and that must be done in the teeth of former false statements."

"As far as I can see, the money-lending harpies are the honestest lot of
people concerned."

"The law is not on their side. They have got no right. The estate, as a
fact, will belong to Augustus the moment his father dies. Mr.
Scarborough endeavored to do what he could for him whom he regarded as
his eldest son. It was very wicked. He was adding a second and a worse
crime to the first. He was flying in the face of the laws of his
country. But he was successful; and he threw dust into my eyes, because
he wanted to save the property for the boy. And he endeavored to make it
up to his second son by saving for him a second property. He was not
selfish; and I cannot but feel for him."

"But you say he is the wickedest man the world ever produced."

"Because he boasts of it all, and cannot be got in any way to repent. He
gives me my instructions as though from first to last he had been a
highly honorable man, and only laughs at me when I object. And yet he
must know that he may die any day. He only wishes to have this matter
set straight so that he may die. I could forgive him altogether if he
would but once say that he was sorry for what he'd done. But he has
completely the air of the fine old head of a family who thinks he is to
be put into marble the moment the breath is out of his body, and that he
richly deserves the marble he is to be put into."

"That is a question between him and his God," said Dolly.

"He hasn't got a God. He believes only in his own reason,--and is content
to do so, lying there on the very brink of eternity. He is quite content
with himself, because he thinks that he has not been selfish. He cares
nothing that he has robbed every one all round. He has no reverence for
property and the laws which govern it. He was born only with the
life-interest, and he has determined to treat it as though the
fee-simple had belonged to him. It is his utter disregard for law, for
what the law has decided, which makes me declare him to have been the
wickedest man the world ever produced."

"It is his disregard for truth which makes you think so."

"He cares nothing for truth. He scorns it and laughs at it. And yet
about the little things of the world he expects his word to be taken as
certainly as that of any other gentleman."

"I would not take it."

"Yes, you would, and would be right too. If he would say he'd pay me a
hundred pounds to-morrow, or a thousand, I would have his word as soon
as any other man's bound. And yet he has utterly got the better of me,
and made me believe that a marriage took place, when there was no
marriage. I think I'll have a cup of tea."

"You won't go to sleep, papa?"

"Oh yes, I shall. When I've been so troubled as that I must have a cup
of tea." Mr. Grey was often troubled, and as a consequence Dolly was
called up for consultations in the middle of the night.

At about one o'clock there came the well-known knock at Dolly's door and
the usual invitation. Would she come into her father's room for a few
minutes? Then her father trotted back to his bed, and Dolly, of course,
followed him as soon as she had clothed herself decently.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"I thought I had made up my mind not to go; or I thought rather that I
should be able to make up my mind not to go. But it is possible that
down there I may have some effect for good."

"What does he want of you?"

"There is a long question about raising money with which Augustus
desires to buy the silence of the creditors."

"Could he get the money?" asked Dolly.

"Yes, I think he could. The property at present is altogether
unembarrassed. To give Mr. Scarborough his due, he has never put his
name to a scrap of paper; nor has he had occasion to do so. The Tretton
pottery people want more land, or rather more water, and a large sum of
money will be forthcoming. But he doesn't see the necessity of giving
Mr. Tyrrwhit a penny-piece, or certainly Mr. Hart. He would send them
away howling without a scruple. Now, Augustus is anxious to settle with
them, for some reason which I do not clearly understand. But he wishes
to do so without any interference on his father's part. In fact, he and
his father have very different ideas as to the property. The squire
regards it as his, but Augustus thinks that any day may make it his own.
In fact, they are on the very verge of quarrelling." Then, after a long
debate, Dolly consented that her father should go down to Tretton, and
act, if possible, the part of peace-maker.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE CARROLL FAMILY.


"Aunt Carroll is coming to dinner to-day," said Dolly the next day, with
a serious face.

"I know she is. Have a nice dinner for her. I don't think she ever has a
nice dinner at home."

"And the three eldest girls are coming."

"Three!"

"You asked them yourself on Sunday."

"Very well. They said their papa would be away on business." It was
understood that Mr. Carroll was never asked to the Manor-house.

"Business! There is a club he belongs to where he dines and gets drunk
once a month. It's the only thing he does regularly."

"They must have their dinner, at any rate," said Mr. Grey. "I don't
think they should suffer because he drinks." This had been a subject
much discussed between them, but on the present occasion Miss Grey would
not renew it. She despatched her father in a cab, the cab having been
procured because he was supposed to be a quarter of an hour late, and
then went to work to order her dinner.

It has been said that Miss Grey hated the Carrolls; but she hated the
daughters worse than the mother, and of all the people she hated in the
world she hated Amelia Carroll the worst. Amelia, the eldest,
entertained an idea that she was more of a personage in the world's eyes
than her cousin,--that she went to more parties, which certainly was true
if she went to any,--that she wore finer clothes, which was also true,
and that she had a lover, whereas Dolly Grey,--as she called her cousin
behind her back,--had none. This lover had something to do with horses,
and had only been heard of, had never been seen, at the Manor-house.
Sophy was a good deal hated also, being a forward, flirting, tricky girl
of seventeen, who had just left the school at which Uncle John had paid
for her education. Georgina, the third, was still at school under
similar circumstances, and was pardoned her egregious noisiness and
romping propensities under the score of youth. She was sixteen, and was
possessed of terrible vitality. "I am sure they take after their father
altogether," Mr. Grey had once said when the three left the Manor-house
together. At half-past six punctually they came. Dolly heard a great
clatter of four people leaving their clogs and cloaks in the hall, and
would not move out of the unused drawing-room, in which for the moment
she was seated. Betsey had to prepare the dinner-table down-stairs, and
would have been sadly discomfited had she been driven to do it in the
presence of three Carroll girls. For it must be understood that Betsey
had no greater respect for the Carroll girls than her mistress. "Well,
Aunt Carroll, how does the world use you?"

"Very badly. You haven't been up to see me for ten days."

"I haven't counted; but when I do come I don't often do any good. How
are Minna, and Brenda, and Potsey?"

"Poor Potsey has got a nasty boil under her arm."

"It comes from eating too much toffy," said Georgina. "I told her it
would."

"How very nasty you are!" said Miss Carroll. "Do leave the child and her
ailments alone!"

"Poor papa isn't very well, either," said Sophy, who was supposed to be
her father's pet.

"I hope his state of health will not debar him from dining with his
friends to-night," said Miss Grey.

"You have always something ill-natured to say about papa," said Sophy.

"Nothing will ever keep him back when conviviality demands his
presence." This came from his afflicted wife, who, in spite of all his
misfortunes, would ever speak with some respect of her husband's
employments. "He wasn't at all in a fit state to go to-night, but he had
promised, and that was enough."

When they had waited three-quarters of an hour Amelia began to
complain,--certainly not without reason. "I wonder why Uncle John always
keeps us waiting in this way?"

"Papa has, unfortunately, something to do with his time, which is not
altogether his own." There was not much in these words, but the tone in
which they were uttered would have crushed any one more susceptible than
Amelia Carroll. But at that moment the cab arrived, and Dolly went down
to meet her father.

"Have they come?" he asked.

"Come," she answered, taking his gloves and comforter from him, and
giving him a kiss as she did so. "That girl up-stairs is nearly
famished."

"I won't be half a moment," said the repentant father, hastening
up-stairs to go through his ordinary dressing arrangement.

"I wouldn't hurry for her," said Dolly; "but of course you'll hurry.
You always do, don't you, papa?" Then they sat down to dinner.

"Well, girls, what is your news?"

"We were out to-day on the Brompton Road," said the eldest, "and there
came up Prince Chitakov's drag with four roans."

"Prince Chitakov! I didn't know there was such a prince."

"Oh, dear, yes; with very stiff mustaches, turned up high at the
corners, and pink cheeks, and a very sharp, nobby-looking hat, with a
light-colored grey coat, and light gloves. You must know the prince."

"Upon my word, I never heard of him, my dear. What did the prince do?"

"He was tooling his own drag, and he had a lady with him on the box. I
never saw anything more tasty than her dress,--dark red silk, with little
fluffy fur ornaments all over it. I wonder who she was?"

"Mrs. Chitakov, probably," said the attorney.

"I don't think the prince is a married man," said Sophy.

"They never are, for the most part," said Amelia; "and she wouldn't be
Mrs. Chitakov, Uncle John."

"Wouldn't she, now? What would she be? Can either of you tell me what
the wife of a Prince of Chitakov would call herself?"

"Princess of Chitakov, of course," said Sophy. "It's the Princess of
Wales."

"But it isn't the Princess of Christian, nor yet the Princess of Teck,
nor the Princess of England. I don't see why the lady shouldn't be Mrs.
Chitakov, if there is such a lady."


"Papa, don't bamboozle her," said his daughter.

"But," continued the attorney, "why shouldn't the lady have been his
wife? Don't married ladies wear little fluffy fur ornaments?"

"I wish, John, you wouldn't talk to the girls in that strain," said
their mother. "It really isn't becoming."

"To suggest that the lady was the gentleman's wife?"

"But I was going to say," continued Amelia, "that as the prince drove by
he kissed his hand--he did, indeed. And Sophy and I were walking along
as demurely as possible. I never was so knocked of a heap in all my
life."

"He did," said Sophy. "It's the most impertinent thing I ever heard. If
my father had seen it he'd have had the prince off the box of the coach
in no time."

"Then, my dear," said the attorney, "I am very glad that your father
did not see it." Poor Dolly, during this conversation about the prince,
sat angry and silent, thinking to herself in despair of what extremes of
vulgarity even a first cousin of her own could be guilty. That she
should be sitting at table with a girl who could boast that a reprobate
foreigner had kissed his hand to her from the box of a fashionable
four-horsed coach! For it was in that light that Miss Grey regarded it.
"And did you have any farther adventures besides this memorable
encounter with the prince?"

"Nothing nearly so interesting," said Sophy.

"That was hardly to be expected," said the attorney. "Jane, you will
have a glass of port-wine? Girls, you must have a glass of port-wine to
support you after your disappointment with the prince."

"We were not disappointed in the least," said Amelia.

"Pray, pray, let the subject drop," said Dolly.

"That is because the prince did not kiss his hand to you," said Sophy.
Then Miss Grey sunk again into silence, crushed beneath this last blow.

In the evening, when the dinner-things had been taken away, a matter of
business came up, and took the place of the prince and his mustaches.
Mrs. Carroll was most anxious to know whether her brother could "lend"
her a small sum of twenty pounds. It came out in conversation that the
small sum was needed to satisfy some imperious demand made upon Mr.
Carroll by a tailor. "He must have clothes, you know," said the poor
woman, wailing. "He doesn't have many, but he must have some." There had
been other appeals on the same subject made not very long since, and, to
tell the truth, Mr. Grey did require to have the subject argued, in fear
of the subsequent remarks which would be made to him afterward by his
daughter if he gave the money too easily. The loan had to be arranged in
full conclave, as otherwise Mrs. Carroll would have found it difficult
to obtain access to her brother's ear. But the one auditor whom she
feared was her niece. On the present occasion Miss Grey simply took up
her book to show that the subject was one which had no interest for her;
but she did undoubtedly listen to all that was said on the subject.
"There was never anything settled about poor Patrick's clothes," said
Mrs. Carroll, in a half-whisper. She did not care how much her own
children heard, and she knew how vain it was to attempt so to speak that
Dolly should not hear.

"I dare say something ought to be done at some time," said Mr. Grey, who
knew that he would be told, when the evening was over, that he would
give away all his substance to that man if he were asked.

"Papa has not had a new pair of trousers this year," said Sophy.

"Except those green ones he wore at the races," said Georgina.

"Hold your tongue, miss!" said her mother. "That was a pair I made up
for him and sent them to the man to get pressed."

"When the hundred a year was arranged for all our dresses," said Amelia,
"not a word was said about papa. Of course, papa is a trouble."

"I don't see that he is more of a trouble than any one else," said
Sophy. "Uncle John would not like not to have any clothes."

"No, I should not, my dear."

"And his own income is all given up to the house uses." Here Sophy
touched imprudently on a sore subject. His "own" income consisted of
what had been saved out of his wife's fortune, and was thus named as in
opposition to the larger sum paid to Mrs. Carroll by Mr. Grey. There was
one hundred and fifty pounds a year coming from settled property, which
had been preserved by the lawyer's care, and which was regarded in the
family as "papa's own."

It certainly is essential for respectability that something should be
set apart from a man's income for his wearing apparel; and though the
money was, perhaps, improperly so designated, Dolly would not have
objected had she not thought that it had already gone to the
race-course,--in company with the green trousers. She had her own means
of obtaining information as to the Carroll family. It was very necessary
that she should do so, if the family was to be kept on its legs at all.
"I don't think any good can come from discussing what my uncle does with
the money." This was Dolly's first speech. "If he is to have it, let him
have it, but let him have as little as possible."

"I never heard anybody so cross as you always are to papa," said Sophy.

"Your cousin Dorothy is very fortunate," said Mrs. Carroll. "She does
not know what it is to want for anything."

"She never spends anything--on herself," said her father. "It is Dolly's
only fault that she won't."

"Because she has it all done for her," said Amelia.

Dolly had gone back to her book, and disdained to make any farther
reply. Her father felt that quite enough had been said about it, and
was prepared to give the twenty pounds, under the idea that he might be
thought to have made a stout fight upon the subject. "He does want them
very badly--for decency's sake," said the poor wife, thus winding up her
plea. Then Mr. Grey got out his check-book and wrote the check for
twenty pounds. But he made it payable, not to Mr. but to Mrs. Carroll.

"I suppose, papa, nothing can be done about Mr. Carroll." This was said
by Dolly as soon as the family had withdrawn.

"In what way 'done,' my dear?"

"As to settling some farther sum for himself."

"He'd only spend it, my dear."

"That would be intended," said Dolly.

"And then he would come back just the same."

"But in that case he should have nothing more. Though they were to
declare that he hadn't a pair of trousers in which to appear at a
race-course, he shouldn't have it."

"My dear," said Mr. Grey, "you cannot get rid of the gnats of the world.
They will buzz and sting and be a nuisance. Poor Jane suffers worse from
this gnat than you or I. Put up with it; and understand in your own mind
that when he comes for another twenty pounds he must have it. You
needn't tell him, but so it must be."

"If I had my way," said Dolly, after ten minutes' silence, "I would
punish him. He is an evil thing, and should be made to reap the proper
reward. It is not that I wish to avoid my share of the world's burdens,
but that justice should be done. I don't know which I hate the
worst,--Uncle Carroll or Mr. Scarborough."

The next day was Sunday, and Dolly was very anxious before breakfast to
induce her father to say that he would go to church with her; but he was
inclined to be obstinate, and fell back upon his usual excuse, saying
that there were Scarborough papers which it would be necessary that he
should read before he started for Tretton on the following day.

"Papa, I think it would do you good if you came."

"Well, yes; I suppose it would. That is the intention; but somehow it
fails with me sometimes."

"Do you think that you hate people when you go to church as much as when
you don't?"

"I am not sure that I hate anybody very much."

"I do."

"That seems an argument for your going."

"But if you don't hate them it is because you won't take the trouble,
and that again is not right. If you would come to church you would be
better for it all round. You'd hate Uncle Carroll's idleness and
abominable self-indulgence worse than you do."

"I don't love him, as it is, my dear."

"And I should hate him less. I felt last night as though I could rise
from my bed and go and murder him."

"Then you certainly ought to go to church."

"And you had passed him off just as though he were a gnat from which you
were to receive as little annoyance as possible, forgetting the
influence he must have on those six unfortunate children. Don't you know
that you gave her that twenty pounds simply to be rid of a disagreeable
subject?"

"I should have given it ever so much sooner, only that you were looking
at me."

"I know you would, you dear, sweet, kind-hearted, but most un-Christian,
father. You must come to church, in order that some idea of what
Christianity demands of you may make its way into your heart. It is not
what the clergyman may say of you, but that your mind will get away for
two hours from that other reptile and his concerns." Then Mr. Grey, with
a loud, long sigh, allowed his boots, and his gloves, and his
church-going hat, and his church-going umbrella to be brought to him. It
was, in fact, his aversion to these articles that Dolly had to
encounter.

It may be doubted whether the church services of that day did Mr. Grey
much good; but they seemed to have had some effect upon his daughter,
from the fact that in the afternoon she wrote a letter in kindly words
to her aunt: "Papa is going to Tretton, and I will come up to you on
Tuesday. I have got a frock which I will bring with me as a present for
Potsey; and I will make her sew on the buttons for herself. Tell Minna I
will lend her that book I spoke of. About those boots--I will go with
Georgina to the boot-maker." But as to Amelia and Sophy she could not
bring herself to say a good-natured word, so deep in her heart had sunk
that sin of which they had been guilty with reference to Prince
Chitakov.

On that night she had a long discussion with her father respecting the
affairs of the Scarborough family. The discussion was held in the
dining-room, and may, therefore, be supposed to have been premeditated.
Those at night in Mr. Grey's own bedroom were generally the result of
sudden thought. "I should lay down the law to him--" began Dolly.

"The law is the law," said her father.

"I don't mean the law in that sense. I should tell him firmly what I
advised, and should then make him understand that if he did not follow
my advice I must withdraw. If his son is willing to pay these
money-lenders what sums they have actually advanced, and if by any
effort on his part the money can be raised, let it be done. There seems
to be some justice in repaying out of the property that which was lent
to the property when by Mr. Scarborough's own doing the property was
supposed to go into the eldest son's hands. Though the eldest son and
the money-lenders be spendthrifts and profligates alike, there will in
that be something of fairness. Go there prepared with your opinion. But
if either father or son will not accept it, then depart, and shake the
dust from your feet."

"You propose it all as though it were the easiest thing in the world."

"Easy or difficult. I would not discuss anything of which the justice
may hereafter be disputed."

What was the result of the consultation on Mr. Grey's mind he did not
declare, but he resolved to take his daughter's advice in all that she
said to him.



CHAPTER XIX.

MR. GREY GOES TO TRETTON.


Mr. Grey went down to Tretton with a great bag of papers. In fact,
though he told his daughter that he had to examine them all before he
started, and had taken them to Fulham for that purpose, he had not
looked at them. And, as another fact, the bag was not opened till he got
home again. They had been read;--at any rate, what was necessary. He knew
his subject. The old squire knew it well.

Mr. Grey was going down to Tretton, not to convey facts or to explain
the law, but in order that he might take the side either of the father
or of the son. Mr. Scarborough had sent for the lawyer to support his
view of the case; and the son had consented to meet him in order that he
might the more easily get the better of his father.

Mr. Grey had of late learned one thing which had before been dark to
him,--had seen one phase of this complicated farrago of dishonesty which
had not before been visible to him. Augustus suspected his father of
some farther treachery. That he should be angry at having been debarred
from his birthright so long,--debarred from the knowledge of his
birthright,--was, Mr. Grey thought, natural. A great wrong had been, at
least, intended; and that such a man should resent it was to have been
expected. But of late Mr. Grey had discovered that it was not in that
way that the son's mind worked. It was not anger but suspicion that he
showed; and he used his father's former treatment of him as a
justification for the condemnation implied in his thoughts. There is no
knowing what an old man may do who has already acted as he had done. It
was thus that he expressed himself both by his words and deeds, and did
so openly in his father's presence, Mr. Grey had not seen them together,
but knew from the letters of both of them that such was the case. Old
Mr. Scarborough scorned his son's suspicions, and disregarded altogether
any words that might be said as to his own past conduct. He was willing,
or half willing, that Mountjoy's debts should be, not paid, but settled.
But he was willing to do nothing toward such a step except in his own
way. While the breath was in his body the property was his, and he chose
to be treated as its only master. If Augustus desired to do anything by
"post-obits," let him ruin himself after his own fashion. "It is not
very likely that Augustus can raise money by post obits, circumstanced
as the property is," he had written to Mr. Grey, with a conveyed sneer
and chuckle as to the success of his own villany. It was as though he
had declared that the money-lenders had been too well instructed as to
what tricks Mr. Scarborough could play with his property to risk a
second venture.

Augustus had, in truth, been awaiting his father's death with great
impatience. It was unreasonable that a man should live who had acted in
such a way and who had been so cut about by the doctors. His father's
demise had, in truth, been promised to him, and to all the world. It was
an understood thing, in all circles which knew anything, that old Mr.
Scarborough could not live another month. It had been understood some
time, and was understood at the present moment; and yet Mr. Scarborough
went on living,--no doubt, as an invalid in the last stage of probable
dissolution, but still with the full command of his intellect and mental
powers for mischief. Augustus, suspecting him as he did, had begun to
fear that he might live too long. His brother had disappeared, and he
was the heir. If his father would die,--such had been his first
thought,--he could settle with the creditors immediately, before any
tidings should be heard of his brother. But tidings had come. His
brother had been seen by Mr. Hart at Monte Carlo; and though Mr. Hart
had not yet sent home the news to the other creditors, the news had been
sent at once to Augustus Scarborough by his own paid attendant upon his
brother. Of Mr. Hart's "little game" he did not yet know the
particulars; but he was confident that there was some game.

Augustus by no means gave his mother credit for the disgraceful conduct
imputed to her in the story as now told by her surviving husband. It was
not that he believed in the honesty of his mother, whom he had never
known, and for whose memory he cared little, but that he believed so
fully in the dishonesty of his father. His father, when he had
thoroughly understood that Mountjoy had enveloped the property in debt,
so that nothing but a skeleton would remain when the bonds were paid,
had set to work, and by the ingenuity of his brain had resolved to
redeem, as far as the Scarboroughs were concerned, their estate from its
unfortunate position.

It was so that Augustus believed; this was the theory existing in his
mind. That his father should have been so clever, and Mr. Grey so blind,
and even Mr. Hart and Mr. Tyrrwhit so easily hoodwinked, was remarkable.
But so it was,--or might probably be so. He felt no assurance, but there
was ever present to him the feeling of great danger. But the state of
things as arranged by his father might be established by himself. If he
could get these creditors to give up their bonds while his father's
falsehood was still believed, it would be a great thing. He had learned
by degrees how small a proportion of the money claimed had, in fact,
been advanced to Mountjoy, and had resolved to confine himself to paying
that. That might now probably be accepted with gratitude. The increasing
value of the estate might bear that without being crushed. But it should
be done at once, while Mountjoy was still absent and before Mr. Tyrrwhit
at any rate knew that Mountjoy had not been killed. Then had happened
that accidental meeting with Mr. Hart at Monte Carlo. That idiot of a
keeper of his had been unable to keep Mountjoy from the gambling-house.
But Mr. Hart had as yet told nothing. Mr. Hart was playing some game of
his own, in which he would assuredly be foiled. The strong hold which
Augustus had was in the great infirmity of his father and in the
blindness of Mr. Grey, but it would be settled. It ought to have been
well that the thing should be settled already by his father's death.
Augustus did feel strongly that the squire ought to complete his work by
dying. Were the story, as now told by him, true, he ought certainly to
die, so as to make speedy atonement for his wickedness. Were it false,
then he ought to go quickly, so that the lie might be effectual. Every
day that he continued to live would go far to endanger the discovery.
Augustus felt that he must at once have the property in his own hands,
so as to buy the creditors and obtain security.

Mr. Grey, who was not so blind as Augustus thought him, saw a great deal
of this. Augustus suspected him as well as the squire. His mind went
backward and forward on these suspicions. It was more probable that the
squire should have contrived all this with the attorney's assistance
than without it. The two, willing it together, might be very powerful.
But then Mr. Grey would hardly dare to do it. His father knew that he
was dying; but Mr. Grey had no such easy mode of immediate escape if
detected. And his father was endowed with a courage as peculiar as it
was great. He did not think that Mr. Grey was so brave a man as his
father. And then he could trace the payment of no large sum to Mr.
Grey,--such as would have been necessary as a bribe in such a case.
Augustus suspected Mr. Grey, on and off. But Mr. Grey was sure that
Augustus suspected his own father. Now, of one thing Mr. Grey was
certain:--Augustus was, in truth, the rightful heir. The squire had at
first contrived to blind him,--him, Mr. Grey,--partly by his own
acuteness, partly through the carelessness of himself and those in his
office, partly by the subornation of witnesses who seemed to have been
actually prepared for such an event. But there could be no subsequent
blinding. Mr. Grey had a well-earned reputation for professional
acuteness and honesty. He knew there was no need for such suspicions as
those now entertained by the young man; but he knew also that they
existed, and he hated the young man for entertaining them.

When he arrived at Tretton Park he first of all saw Mr. Septimus Jones,
with whom he was not acquainted. "Mr. Scarborough will be here directly.
He is out somewhere about the stables," said Mr. Jones, in that tone of
voice with which a guest at the house,--a guest for pleasure,--may address
sometimes a guest who is a guest on business. In such a case the guest
on pleasure cannot be a gentleman, and must suppose that the guest on
business is not one either.

Mr. Grey, thinking that the Mr. Scarborough spoken of could not be the
squire, put Mr. Jones right. "It is the elder Mr. Scarborough whom I
wish to see. There is quite time enough. No doubt Miss Scarborough will
be down presently."

"You are Mr. Grey, I believe?"

"That is my name."

"My friend, Augustus Scarborough, is particularly anxious to see you
before you go to his father. The old man is in very failing health, you
know."

"I am well acquainted with the state of Mr. Scarborough's health," said
Mr. Grey, "and will leave it to himself to say when I shall see him.
Perhaps to-morrow will be best." Then he rung the bell; but the servant
entered the room at the same moment and summoned him up to the squire's
chamber. Mr. Scarborough also wished to see Mr. Grey before his son, and
had been on the alert to watch for his coming.

On the landing he met Miss Scarborough. "He does seem to keep up his
strength," said the lady. "Mr. Merton is living in the house now, and
watches him very closely." Mr. Merton was a resident young doctor, whom
Sir William Brodrick had sent down to see that all medical appliances
were at hand as the sick man might require them. Then Mr. Grey was shown
in, and found the squire recumbent on a sofa, with a store of books
within his reach, and reading apparatuses of all descriptions, and every
appliance which the ingenuity of the skilful can prepare for the relief
of the sick and wealthy.

"This is very kind of you, Mr. Grey," said the squire, speaking in a
cheery voice. "I wanted you to come very much, but I hardly thought that
you would take the trouble. Augustus is here, you know."

"So I have heard from that gentleman down-stairs."

"Mr. Jones? I have never had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Jones. What sort
of a gentleman is Mr. Jones to look at?"

"Very much like other gentlemen."

"I dare say. He has done me the honor to stay a good deal at my house
lately. Augustus never comes without him. He is 'Fidus Achates,' I take
it, to Augustus. Augustus has never asked whether he can be received. Of
course it does not matter. When a man is the eldest son, and, so to say,
the only one, he is apt to take liberties with his father's house. I am
so sorry that in my position I cannot do the honors and receive him
properly. He is a very estimable and modest young man, I believe?" As
Mr. Grey had not come down to Tretton either to be a spy on Mr. Jones or
to answer questions concerning him, he held his tongue. "Well, Mr. Grey,
what do you think about it;--eh?" This was a comprehensive question, but
Mr. Grey well understood its purport. What did he, Mr. Grey, think of
the condition to which the affairs of Tretton had been brought, and
those of Mr. Scarborough himself and of his two sons? What did he think
of Mountjoy, who had disappeared and was still absent? What did he think
of Augustus, who was not showing his gratitude in the best way for all
that had been done for him? And what did he think of the squire himself,
who from his death-bed had so well contrived to have his own way in
everything,--to do all manner of illegal things without paying any of the
penalties to which illegality is generally subject? And having asked the
question he paused for an answer.

Mr. Grey had had no personal interview with the squire since the time at
which it had been declared that Mountjoy was not the heir. Then some
very severe words had been spoken. Mr. Grey had first sworn that he did
not believe a word of what was said to him, and had refused to deal with
the matter at all. If carried out Mr. Scarborough must take it to some
other lawyer's office. There had, since that, been a correspondence as
to much of which Mr. Scarborough had been forced to employ an
amanuensis. Gradually Mr. Grey had assented, in the first instance on
behalf of Mountjoy, and then on behalf of Augustus. But he had done so
in the expectation that he should never again see the squire in this
world. He, too, had been assured that the man would die, and had felt
that it would be better that the management of things should then be in
honest hands, such as his own, and in the hands of those who understood
them, than be confided to those who did not not understand them, and who
might probably not be honest.

But the squire had not died, and here he was again at Tretton as the
squire's guest. "I think," said Mr. Grey. "that the less said about a
good deal of it the better."

"That, of course, is sweeping condemnation, which, however, I expect.
Let that be all as though it had been expressed. You don't understand
the inner man which rules me,--how it has struggled to free itself from
conventionalities. Nor do I quite understand how your inner man has
succumbed to them and encouraged them."

"I have encouraged an obedience to the laws of my country. Men generally
find it safer to do so."

"Exactly, and men like to be safe. Perhaps a condition of danger has
had its attractions for me. It is very stupid, but perhaps it is so. But
let that go. The rope has been round my own neck and not round that of
others. Perhaps I have thought of late that if danger should come I
could run away from it all, by the help of the surgeon. They have become
so skilful now that a man has no chance in that way. But what do you
think of Mountjoy and Augustus?"

"I think that Mountjoy has been very ill-used."

"But I endeavored to do the best I could for him."

"And that Augustus has been worse used."

"But he, at any rate, has been put right quite in time. Had he been
brought up as the eldest son he might have done as Mountjoy did." Then
there came a little gleam of satisfaction across the squire's face as he
felt the sufficiency of his answer. "But they are neither of them
pleased."

"You cannot please men by going wrong, even in their own behalf."

"I'm not so sure of that. Were you to say that we cannot please men ever
by doing right on their behalf you would perhaps be nearer the mark.
Where do you think that Mountjoy is?" A rumor, had reached Mr. Grey that
Mountjoy had been seen at Monte Carlo, but it had been only a rumor. The
same had, in truth, reached Mr. Scarborough, but he chose to keep his
rumor to himself. Indeed, more than a rumor had reached him.

"I think that he will turn up safely," said the lawyer. "I think that if
it were made worth his while he would turn up at once."

"Is it not better that he should be away?" Mr. Grey shrugged his
shoulders. "What's the good of his coming back into a nest of hornets? I
have always thought that he did very well to disappear. Where is he to
live if he came back? Should he come here?"

"Not with his gambling debts unpaid at the club."

"That might have been settled. Though, indeed, his gambling was as a tub
that has no bottom to it. There has been nothing for it but to throw him
over altogether. And yet how very much the better he has been of the
two! Poor Mountjoy!"

"Poor Mountjoy!"

"You see, if I hadn't disinherited him I should have had to go on paying
for him till the whole estate would have been squandered even during my
lifetime."

"You speak as though the law had given you the power of disinheriting
him."

"So it did."

"But not the power of giving him the inheritance."

"I took that upon myself. There I was stronger than the law. Now I
simply and humbly ask the law to come and help me. And the upshot is
that Augustus takes upon himself to lecture me and to feel aggrieved. He
is not angry with me for what I did about Mountjoy, but is quarrelling
with me because I do not die. I have no idea of dying just to please
him. I think it important that I should live just at present."

"But will you let him have the money to pay these creditors?"

"That is what I want to speak about. If I can see the list of the sums
to be paid, and if you can assure yourself that by paying them I shall
get back all the post-obit bonds which Mountjoy has given, and that the
money can be at once raised upon a joint mortgage, to be executed by me
and Augustus, I will do it. But the first thing must be to know the
amount. I will join Augustus in nothing without your consent. He wants
to assume the power himself. In fact, the one thing he desires is that I
shall go. As long as I remain he shall do nothing except by my
co-operation. I will see you and him to-morrow, and now you may go and
eat your dinner. I cannot tell you how much obliged I am to you for
coming." And then Mr. Grey left the room, went to his chamber, and in
process of time made his way into the drawing-room.



CHAPTER XX.

MR. GREY'S OPINION OF THE SCARBOROUGH FAMILY.


Had Augustus been really anxious to see Mr. Grey before Mr. Grey went to
his father, he would probably have managed to do so. He did not always
tell Mr. Jones everything. "So the fellow has hurried up to the governor
the moment he came into the house," he said.

"He's with him now."

"Of course he is. Never mind. I'll be even with him in the long-run."
Then he greeted the lawyer with a mock courtesy as soon as he saw him.
"I hope your journey has done you no harm, Mr. Grey."

"Not in the least."

"It's very kind of you, I am sure, to look after our poor concerns with
so much interest. Jones, don't you think it is time they gave us some
dinner? Mr. Grey, I'm sure, must want his dinner."

"All in good time," said the lawyer.

"You shall have your dinner, Mr. Grey. It is the least we can do for
you." Mr. Grey felt that in every sound of his voice there was an
insult, and took special notice of every tone, and booked them all down
in his memory. After dinner he asked some unimportant question with
reference to the meeting that was to take place in the morning, and was
at once rebuked. "I do not know that we need trouble our friend here
with our private concerns," he said.

"Not in the least," said Mr. Grey. "You have already been talking about
them in my presence and in his. It is necessary that I should have a
list of the creditors before I can advise your father."

"I don't see it; but, however, that is for you to judge. Indeed, I do
not know on what points my father wants your advice. A lawyer generally
furnishes such a list." Then Mr. Grey took up a book, and was soon left
alone by the younger men.

In the morning he walked out in the park, so as to have free time for
thought. Not a word farther had been said between him and Augustus
touching their affairs. At breakfast Augustus discussed with his friend
the state of the odds respecting some race and then the characters of
certain ladies. No subjects could have been less interesting to Mr.
Grey, as Augustus was aware. They breakfasted at ten, and twelve had
been named for the meeting. Mr. Grey had an hour or an hour and a half
for his walk, in which he could again turn over in his mind all these
matters of which his thoughts had been full for now many a day.

Of two or three facts he was certain. Augustus was the legitimate heir
of his father. Of that he had seen ample documentary evidence. The word
of no Scarborough should go for anything with him;--but of that fact he
was assured. Whether the squire knew aught of Mountjoy he did not feel
sure, but that Augustus did he was quite certain. Who was paying the
bills for the scapegrace during his travels he could not say, but he
thought it probable that Augustus was finding the money. He, Mountjoy,
was kept away, so as to be out of the creditors' way.

He thought, therefore, that Augustus was doing this, so that he might
the more easily buy up the debts. But why should Augustus go to the
expense of buying up the debts, seeing that the money must ultimately
come out of his own pocket? Because,--so Mr. Grey thought,--Augustus would
not trust his own father. The creditors, if they could get hold of
Mountjoy when his father was dead, and when the bonds would all become
payable, might possibly so unravel the facts as to make it apparent
that, after all, the property was Mountjoy's. This was not Mr. Grey's
idea, but was Mr. Grey's idea of the calculation which Augustus was
making for his own government. According to Mr. Grey's reading of all
the facts of the case, such were the suspicions which Augustus
entertained in the matter. Otherwise, why should he be anxious to take a
step which would redound only to the advantage of the creditors? He was
quite certain that no money would be paid, at any rate, by Augustus,
solely with the view of honestly settling their claims.

But there was another subject which troubled his mind excessively as he
walked across the park. Why should he soil his hands, or, at any rate,
trouble his conscience, with an affair so unclean, so perplexed, and so
troublesome? Why was he there at Tretton at all, to be insulted by a
young blackguard such as he believed Augustus Scarborough to be?
Augustus Scarborough, he knew, suspected him. But he, in return,
suspected Augustus Scarborough. The creditors suspected him. Mountjoy
suspected him. The squire did not suspect him, but he suspected the
squire. He never could again feel himself to be on comfortable terms of
trusting legal friendship with a man who had played such a prank in
reference to his marriage as this man had performed. Why, then, should
he still be concerned in a matter so distasteful to him? Why should he
not wipe his hands of it all and retreat? There was no act of parliament
compelling him to meddle with the dirt.

Such were his thoughts. But yet he knew that he was compelled. He did
feel himself bound to look after interests which he had taken in hand
now for many years. It had been his duty,--or the duty of some one
belonging to him,--to see into the deceit by which an attempt had been
made to rob Augustus Scarborough of his patrimony. It had been his duty,
for a while, to protect Mountjoy, and the creditors who had lent their
money to Mountjoy, from what he had believed to be a flagitious attempt.
Then, as soon as he felt that the flagitious attempt had been made
previously, in Mountjoy's favor, it became his duty to protect Augustus,
in spite of the strong personal dislike which from the first he had
conceived for that young man.

And then he doubtless had been attracted by the singularity of all that
had been done in the affair, and of all that was likely to be done. He
had said to himself that the matter should be made straight, and that he
would make it straight. Therefore, during his walk in the park, he
resolved that he must persevere.

At twelve o'clock he was ready to be taken up to the sick man's room.
When he entered it, under the custody of Miss Scarborough, he found that
Augustus was there. The squire was sitting up, with his feet supported,
and was apparently in a good humor. "Well, Mr. Grey," he said, "have you
settled this matter with Augustus?"

"I have settled nothing."

"He has not spoken to me about it at all," said Augustus.

"I told him I wanted a list of the creditors. He said that it was my
duty to supply it. That was the extent of our conversation."

"Which he thought it expedient to have in the presence of my friend, Mr.
Jones. Mr. Jones is very well in his way, but he is not acquainted with
all my affairs."

"Your son, Mr. Scarborough, has made no tender to me of any
information."

"Nor, sir, has Mr. Grey sought for any information from me." During this
little dialogue Mr. Scarborough turned his face, with a smile, from one
to the other, without a word.

"If Mr. Grey has anything to suggest in the way of advice, let him
suggest it," said Augustus.

"Now, Mr. Grey," said the squire, with the same smile.

"Till I get farther information," said Mr. Grey, "I can only limit
myself to giving the advice which I offered to you yesterday."

"Perhaps you will repeat it, so that he may hear it," said the squire.

"If you get a list of those to whom your son Mountjoy owes money, and an
assurance that the moneys named in that list have been from time to time
lent by them to him,--the actual amount, I mean,--then I think that if you
and your son Augustus shall together choose to pay those amounts, you
will make the best reparation in your power for the injury you have no
doubt done in having contrived that it should be understood that
Mountjoy was legitimate."

"You need not discuss," said the squire, "any injuries that I have done.
I have done a great many, no doubt."

"But," continued the lawyer, "before any such payment is made, close
inquiries should be instituted as to the amounts of money which have
absolutely passed."

"We should certainly be taken in," said the squire. "I have great
admiration for Mr. Samuel Hart. I do believe that it would be found
impossible to extract the truth from Mr. Samuel Hart. If Mr. Samuel Hart
does not make money yet out of poor Mountjoy I shall be surprised."

"The truth may be ascertained," said Mr. Grey. "You should get some
accountant to examine the checks."

"When I remember how easy it was to deceive some really clever men as to
the evidence of my marriage--" began Mr. Scarborough. So the squire
began, but then stopped himself, with a shrug of his shoulders. Among
the really clever men who had been easily deceived Mr. Grey was, if not
actually first in importance, foremost, at any rate, in name.

"The truth may be ascertained," Mr. Grey repeated, almost with a scowl
of anger upon his brow.

"Well, yes; I suppose it may. It will be difficult, in opposition to Mr.
Samuel Hart."

"You must satisfy yourselves, at any rate. These men will know that they
have no other hope of getting a shilling."

"It is a little hard to make them believe anything," said the squire.
"They fancy, you know, that if they could get a hold of Mountjoy, so as
to have him in their hands when the breath is out of my body and the
bonds are really due, that then it may be made to turn out that he is
really the heir."

"We know that it is not so," said Mr. Grey. At this Augustus smiled
blandly.

"We know. But it is what we can make Mr. Samuel Hart know. In truth, Mr.
Samuel Hart never allows himself to know anything,--except the amount of
money which he may have at his banker's. And it will be difficult to
convince Mr. Tyrrwhit. Mr. Tyrrwhit is assured that all of us,--you and
I, and Mountjoy and Augustus,--are in a conspiracy to cheat him and the
others."

"I don't wonder at it," said Mr. Grey.

"Perhaps not," continued the squire; "the circumstances, no doubt, are
suspicious. But he will have to find out his mistake. Augustus is very
anxious to pay these poor men their money. It is a noble feeling on the
part of Augustus; you must admit that, Mr. Grey." The irony with which
this was said was evident in the squire's face and voice. Augustus only
quietly laughed. The attorney sat as firm as death. He was not going to
argue with such a statement or to laugh at such a joke. "I suppose it
will come to over a hundred thousand pounds."

"Eighty thousand, I should think," said Augustus. "The bonds amount to a
great deal more than that--twice that."

"It is for him to judge," said the squire, "whether he is bound by his
honor to pay so large a sum to men whom I do not suppose he loves very
well."

"The estate can bear it," said Augustus.

"Yes, the estate can bear it," said the attorney. "They should be paid
what they have expended. That is my idea. Your son thinks that their
silence will be worth the money."

"What makes you say that?" demanded Augustus.

"Just my own opinion."

"I look upon it as an insult."

"Would you be kind enough to explain to us what is your reason for
wishing to do this thing?" asked Mr. Grey.

"No, sir; I decline to give any reason. But those which you ascribe to
me are insulting."

"Will you deny them?"

"I will not assent to anything,--coming from you,--nor will I deny
anything. It is altogether out of your place as an attorney to ascribe
motives to your clients. Can you raise the money, so that it shall be
forthcoming at once? That is the question."

"On your father's authority, backed by your signature, I imagine that I
can do so. But I will not answer as a certainty. The best thing would be
to sell a portion of the property. If you and your father will join, and
Mountjoy also with you, it may be done."

"What has Mountjoy got to do with it?" asked the father.

"You had better have Mountjoy also. There may be some doubt as to the
title. People will think so after the tricks that have been played."
This was said by the lawyer; but the squire only laughed. He always
showed some enjoyment of the fun which arose from the effects of his own
scheming. The legal world, with its entails, had endeavored to dispose
of his property, but he had shown the legal world that it was not an
easy task to dispose of anything in which he was concerned.

"How will you get hold of Mountjoy?" asked Augustus. Then the two older
men only looked at each other. Both of them believed that Augustus knew
more about his brother than any one else. "I think you had better send
to Mr. Annesley and ask him."

"What does Annesley know about him?" asked the squire.

"He was the last person who saw him, at any rate, in London."

"Are you sure of that?" said Mr. Grey.

"I think I may say that I am. I think, at any rate, that I know that
there was a violent quarrel between them in the streets,--a quarrel in
which the two men proceeded to blows,--and that Annesley struck him in
such a way as to leave him for dead upon the pavement. Then the young
man walked away, and Mountjoy has not been heard of, or, at least, has
not been seen since. That a man should have struck such a blow, and
then, on the spur of the moment, thinking of his own safety, should have
left his opponent, I can understand. I should not like to be accused of
such treatment myself, but I can understand it. I cannot understand that
the man should have been missing altogether, and that then he should
have held his tongue."

"How do you know all this?" asked the attorney.

"It is sufficient that I do know it."

"I don't believe a word of it," said the squire.

"Coming from you, of course I must put up with any contradiction," said
Augustus. "I should not bear it from any one else," and he looked at the
attorney.

"One has a right to ask for your authority," said his father.

"I cannot give it. A lady is concerned whose name I shall not mention.
But it is of less importance, as his own friends are acquainted with the
nature of his conduct. Indeed, it seems odd to see you two gentlemen so
ignorant as to the matter which has been a subject of common
conversation in most circles. His uncle means to cut him out from the
property."

"Can he too deal with entails?" said the squire.

"He is still in middle life, and he can marry. That is what he intended
to do, so much is he disgusted with his nephew. He has already stopped
the young man's allowance, and swears that he shall not have a shilling
of his money if he can help it. The police for some time were in great
doubt whether they would not arrest him. I think I am justified in
saying that he is a thorough reprobate."

"You are not at all justified," said the father.

"I can only express my opinion, and am glad to say that the world agrees
with me."

"It is sickening, absolutely sickening," said the squire, turning to the
attorney. "You would not believe, now--"

But he stopped himself. "What would not Mr. Grey believe?" asked the
son.

"There is no one one knows better than you that after the row in the
street,--when Mountjoy was, I believe, the aggressor,--he was again seen
by another person. I hate such deceit and scheming." Here Augustus
smiled. "What are you sniggering there at, you blockhead?"

"Your hatred, sir, at deceit and scheming. The truth is that when a man
plays a game well, he does not like to find that he has any equal.
Heaven forbid that I should say that there is rivalry here. You, sir,
are so pre-eminently the first that no one can touch you." Then he
laughed long,--a low, bitter, inaudible laugh,--during which Mr. Grey sat
silent.

"This comes well from you!" said the father.

"Well, sir, you would try your hand upon me. I have passed over all that
you have done on my behalf. But when you come to abuse me I cannot quite
take your words as calmly as though there had been--no, shall I say,
antecedents? Now about this money. Are we to pay it?"

"I don't care one straw about the money. What is it to me? I don't owe
these creditors anything."

"Nor do I."

"Let them rest, then, and do the worst they can. But upon the whole, Mr.
Grey," he added, after a pause, "I think we had better pay them. They
have endeavored to be insolent to me, and I have therefore ignored their
claim. I have told them to do their worst. If my son here will agree
with you in raising the money, and if Mountjoy,--as he, too, is
necessary,--will do so, I too will do what is required of me. If eighty
thousand pounds will settle it all, there ought not to be any
difficulty. You can inquire what the real amount would be. If they
choose to hold to their bonds, nothing will come of it;--that's all."

"Very well, Mr. Scarborough. Then I shall know how to proceed. I
understand that Mr. Scarborough, junior, is an assenting party?" Mr.
Scarborough, junior, signified his assent by nodding his head.

"That will do, then, for I think that I have a little exhausted myself."
Then he turned round upon his couch, as though he intended to slumber.
Mr. Grey left the room, and Augustus followed him, but not a word was
spoken between them. Mr. Grey had an early dinner and went up to London
by an evening train. What became of Augustus he did not inquire, but
simply asked for his dinner and for a conveyance to the train. These
were forthcoming, and he returned that night to Fulham.

"Well?" said Dolly, as soon as she had got him his slippers and made
him his tea.

"I wish with all my heart I had never seen any one of the name of
Scarborough!"

"That is of course;--but what have you done?"

"The father has been a great knave. He has set the laws of his country
at defiance, and should be punished most severely. And Mountjoy
Scarborough has proved himself to be unfit to have any money in his
hands. A man so reckless is little better than a lunatic. But compared
with Augustus they are both estimable, amiable men. The father has ideas
of philanthropy, and Mountjoy is simply mad. But Augustus is as
dishonest as either of them, and is odious also all round." Then at
length he explained all that he had learned, and all that he had
advised, and at last went to bed combating Dolly's idea that the
Scarboroughs ought now to be thrown over altogether.



CHAPTER XXI.

MR. SCARBOROUGH'S THOUGHTS OF HIMSELF.


When Mr. Scarborough was left alone he did not go to sleep, as he had
pretended, but lay there for an hour, thinking of his position and
indulging to the full the feelings of anger which he now entertained
toward his second son. He had never, in truth, loved Augustus. Augustus
was very like his father in his capacity for organizing deceit, for
plotting, and so contriving that his own will should be in opposition to
the wills of all those around him. But they were thoroughly unlike in
the object to be attained. Mr. Scarborough was not a selfish man.
Augustus was selfish and nothing else. Mr. Scarborough hated the
law,--because it was the law and endeavored to put a restraint upon him
and others. Augustus liked the law,--unless when in particular points it
interfered with his own actions. Mr. Scarborough thought that he could
do better than the law. Augustus wished to do worse. Mr. Scarborough
never blushed at what he himself attempted, unless he failed, which was
not often the case. But he was constantly driven to blush for his son.
Augustus blushed for nothing and for nobody. When Mr. Scarborough had
declared to the attorney that just praise was due to Augustus for the
nobility of the sacrifice he was making, Augustus had understood his
father accurately and determined to be revenged, not because of the
expression of his father's thoughts, but because he had so expressed
himself before the attorney. Mr. Scarborough also thought that he was
entitled to his revenge.

When he had been left alone for an hour he rung the bell, which was
close at his side, and called for Mr. Merton. "Where is Mr. Grey?"

"I think he has ordered the wagonette to take him to the station."

"And where is Augustus?"

"I do not know."

"And Mr. Jones? I suppose they have not gone to the station. Just feel
my pulse, Merton. I am afraid I am very weak." Mr. Merton felt his pulse
and shook his head. "There isn't a pulse, so to speak."

"Oh yes; but it is irregular. If you will exert yourself so violently--"

"That is all very well; but a man has to exert himself sometimes, let
the penalty be what it may. When do you think that Sir William will have
to come again?" Sir William, when he came, would come with his knife,
and his advent was always to be feared.

"It depends very much on yourself, Mr. Scarborough. I don't think he can
come very often, but you can make the distances long or short. You
should attend to no business."

"That is absolute rubbish."

"Nevertheless, it is my duty to say so. Whatever arrangements may be
required, they should be made by others. Of course, if you do as you
have done this morning, I can suggest some little relief. I can give you
tonics and increase the amount; but I cannot resist the evil which you
yourself do yourself."

"I understand all about it."

"You will kill yourself if you go on."

"I don't mean to go on any farther,--not as I have done to-day; but as to
giving up business, that is rubbish. I have got my property to manage,
and I mean to manage it myself as long as I live. Unfortunately, there
have been accidents which make the management a little rough at times. I
have had one of the rough moments to-day, but they shall not be
repeated. I give you my word for that. But do not talk to me about
giving up my business. Now I'll take your tonics, and then would you
have the kindness to ask my sister to come to me?"

Miss Scarborough, who was always in waiting on her brother, was at once
in the room. "Martha," he said, "where is Augustus?"

"I think he has gone out."

"And where is Mr. Septimus Jones?"

"He is with him, John. The two are always together."

"You would not mind giving my compliments to Mr. Jones, and telling him
that his bedroom is wanted?"

"His bedroom wanted! There are lots of bedrooms, and nobody to occupy
them."

"It's a hint that I want him to go; he'd understand that."

"Would it not be better to tell Augustus?" asked the lady, doubting much
her power to carry out the instructions given to her.

"He would tell Augustus. It is not, you see, any objection I have to Mr.
Jones. I have not the pleasure of his acquaintance. He is a most
agreeable young man, I'm sure; but I do not care to entertain an
agreeable young man without having a word to say on the subject.
Augustus does not think it worth his while even to speak to me about
him. Of course, when I am gone, in a month or so,--perhaps a week or
two,--he can do as he pleases."

"Don't, John!"

"But it is so. While I live I am master at least of this house. I cannot
see Mr. Jones, and I do not wish to have another quarrel with Augustus.
Mr. Merton says that every time I get angry it gives Sir William another
chance with the knife. I thought that perhaps you could do it." Then
Miss Scarborough promised that she would do it, and, having her
brother's health very much at heart, she did do it. Augustus stood
smiling while the message was, in fact, conveyed to him, but he made no
answer. When the lady had done he bobbed his head to signify that he
acknowledged the receipt of it, and the lady retired.

"I have got my walking-papers," he said to Septimus Jones ten minutes
afterward.

"I don't know what you mean."

"Don't you? Then you must be very thick-headed. My father has sent me
word that you are to be turned out. Of course he means it for me. He
does not wish to give me the power of saying that he sent me away from
the house,--me, whom he has so long endeavored to rob,--me, to whom he
owes so much for taking no steps to punish his fraud. And he knows that
I can take none, because he is on his death-bed."

"But you couldn't, could you, if he were--were anywhere else?"

"Couldn't I? That's all you know about it. Understand, however, that I
shall start to-morrow morning, and unless you like to remain here on a
visit to him, you had better go with me." Mr. Jones signified his
compliance with the hint, and so Miss Scarborough had done her work.

Mr. Scarborough, when thus left alone, spent his time chiefly in
thinking of the condition of his sons. His eldest son, Mountjoy, who had
ever been his favorite, whom as a little boy he had spoiled by every
means in his power, was a ruined man. His debts had all been paid,
except the money due to the money-lenders. But he was not the less a
ruined man. Where he was at this moment his father did not know. All the
world knew the injustice of which he had been guilty on his boy's
behalf, and all the world knew the failure of the endeavor. And now he
had made a great and a successful effort to give back to his legitimate
heir all the property. But in return the second son only desired his
death, and almost told him so to his face. He had been proud of Augustus
as a lad, but he had never loved him as he had loved Mountjoy. Now he
knew that he and Augustus must henceforward be enemies. Never for a
moment did he think of giving up his power over the estate as long as
the estate should still be his. Though it should be but for a month,
though it should be but for a week, he would hold his own. Such was the
nature of the man, and when he swallowed Mr. Merton's tonics he did so
more with the idea of keeping the property out of his son's hands than
of preserving his own life. According to his view, he had done very much
for Augustus, and this was the return which he received!

And in truth he had done much for Augustus. For years past it had been
his object to leave to his second son as much as would come to his
first. He had continued to put money by for him, instead of spending his
income on himself.

Of this Mr. Grey had known much, but had said nothing when he was
speaking those severe words which Mr. Scarborough had always contrived
to receive with laughter. But he had felt their injustice, though he had
himself ridiculed the idea of law. There had been the two sons, both
born from the same mother, and he had willed that they should be both
rich men, living among the foremost of their fellowmen, and the
circumstances of the property would have helped him. The income from
year to year went on increasing.

The water-mills of Tretton and the town of Tretton had grown and been
expanded within his domain, and the management of the sales in Mr.
Grey's hands had been judicious. The revenues were double now what they
had been when Mr. Scarborough first inherited it. It was all, no doubt,
entailed, but for twenty years he had enjoyed the power of accumulating
a sum of money for his second son's sake,--or would have enjoyed it, had
not the accumulation been taken from him to pay Mountjoy's debts. It was
in vain that he attempted to make Mountjoy responsible for the money.
Mountjoy's debts, and irregularities, and gambling went on, till Mr.
Scarborough found himself bound to dethrone the illegitimate son, and to
place the legitimate in his proper position.

In doing the deed he had not suffered much, though the circumstances
which had led to the doing of it had been full of pain. There had been
an actual pleasure to him in thus showing himself to be superior to the
conventionalities of the world. There was Augustus still ready to occupy
the position to which he had in truth been born. And at the moment
Mountjoy had gone--he knew not where. There had been gambling debts
which, coming as they did after many others, he had refused to pay. He
himself was dying at the moment, as he thought. It would be better for
him to take up with Augustus. Mountjoy he must leave to his fate. For
such a son, so reckless, so incurable, so hopeless, it was impossible
that anything farther should be done. He would at least enjoy the power
of leaving those wretched creditors without their money. There would be
some triumph, some consolation, in that. So he had done, and now his
heir turned against him!

It was very bitter to him, as he lay thinking of it all. He was a man
who was from his constitution and heart capable of making great
sacrifices for those he loved. He had a most thorough contempt for the
character of an honest man. He did not believe in honesty, but only in
mock honesty. And yet he would speak of an honest man with admiration,
meaning something altogether different from the honesty of which men
ordinarily spoke. The usual honesty of the world was with him all
pretence, or, if not, assumed for the sake of the character it would
achieve. Mr. Grey he knew to be honest; Mr. Grey's word he knew to be
true; but he fancied that Mr. Grey had adopted this absurd mode of
living with the view of cheating his neighbors by appearing to be better
than others. All virtue and all vice were comprised by him in the words
"good-nature" and "ill-nature." All church-going propensities,--and
these propensities in his estimate extended very widely,--he scorned from
the very bottom of his heart. That one set of words should be deemed
more wicked than another, as in regard to swearing, was to him a sign
either of hypocrisy, of idolatry, or of feminine weakness of intellect.
To women he allowed the privilege of being, in regard to thought, only
something better than dogs. When his sister Martha shuddered at some
exclamation from his mouth, he would say to himself simply that she was
a woman, not an idiot or a hypocrite. Of women, old and young, he had
been very fond, and in his manner to them very tender; but when a woman
rose to a way of thinking akin to his own, she was no longer a woman to
his senses. Against such a one his taste revolted. She sunk to the level
of a man contaminated by petticoats. And law was hardly less absurd to
him than religion. It consisted of a perplexed entanglement of rules got
together so that the few might live in comfort at the expense of the
many.

Robbery, if you could get to the bottom of it, was bad, as was all
violence; but taxation was robbery, rent was robbery, prices fixed
according to the desire of the seller and not in obedience to justice,
were robbery. "Then you are the greatest of robbers," his friends would
say to him. He would admit it, allowing that in such a state of society
he was not prepared to go out and live naked in the streets if he could
help it. But he delighted to get the better of the law, and triumphed in
his own iniquity, as has been seen by his conduct in reference to his
sons.

In this way he lived, and was kind to many people, having a generous and
an open hand. But he was a man who could hate with a bitter hatred, and
he hated most those suspected by him of mean or dirty conduct. Mr. Grey,
who constantly told him to his face that he was a rascal, he did not
hate at all. Thinking Mr. Grey to be in some respects idiotic, he
respected him, and almost loved him. He thoroughly believed Mr. Grey,
thinking him to be an ass for telling so much truth unnecessarily. And
he had loved his son Mountjoy in spite of all his iniquities, and had
fostered him till it was impossible to foster him any longer. Then he
had endeavored to love Augustus, and did not in the least love him the
less because his son told him frequently of the wicked things he had
done. He did not object to be told of his wickedness even by his son.
But Augustus suspected him of other things than those of which he
accused him, and attempted to be sharp with him and to get the better
of him at his own game. And his son laughed at him and scorned him, and
regarded him as one who was troublesome only for a time, and who need
not be treated with much attention, because he was there only for a
time. Therefore he hated Augustus. But Augustus was his heir, and he
knew that he must die soon.

But for how long could he live? And what could he yet do before he died?
A braver man than Mr. Scarborough never lived,--that is, one who less
feared to die. Whether that is true courage may be a question, but it
was his, in conjunction with courage of another description. He did not
fear to die, nor did he fear to live. But what he did fear was to fail
before he died. Not to go out with the conviction that he was vanishing
amid the glory of success, was to him to be wretched at his last moment,
and to be wretched at his last moment, or to anticipate that he should
be so, was to him,--even so near his last hours,--the acme of misery. How
much of life was left to him, so that he might recover something of
success? Or was any moment left to him?

He could not sleep, so he rung his bell, and again sent for Mr. Merton.
"I have taken what you told me."

"So best," said Mr. Merton. For he did not always feel assured that this
strange patient would take what had been ordered.

"And I have tried to sleep."

"That will come after a while. You would not naturally sleep just after
the tonic."

"And I have been thinking of what you said about business. There is one
thing I must do, and then I can remain quiet for a fortnight, unless I
should be called upon to disturb my rest by dying."

"We will hope not."

"That may go as it pleases," said the sick man. "I want you now to write
a letter for me to Mr. Grey." Mr. Merton had undertaken to perform the
duties of secretary as well as doctor, and had thought in this way to
obtain some authority over his patient for the patient's own good; but
he had found already that no authority had come to him. He now sat down
at the table close to the bedside, and prepared to write in accordance
with Mr. Scarborough's dictation. "I think that Grey,--the lawyer, you
know,--is a good man."

"The world, as far as I hear it, says that he is honest."

"I don't care a straw what the world says. The world says that I am
dishonest, but I am not." Merton could only shrug his shoulders. "I
don't say that because I want you to change your opinion. I don't care
what you think. But I tell you a fact. I doubt whether Grey is so
absolutely honest as I am, but, as things go, he is a good man."

"Certainly."

"But the world, I suppose, says that my son Augustus is honest?"

"Well, yes; I should suppose so."

"If you have looked into him and have seen the contrary, I respect your
intelligence."

"I did not mean anything particular."

"I dare say not, and if so, I mean nothing particular as to your
intelligence. He, at any rate, is a scoundrel. Mountjoy--you know
Mountjoy?"

"Never saw him in my life."

"I don't think he is a scoundrel,--not all round. He has gambled when he
has not had money to pay. That is bad. And he has promised when he
wanted money, and broken his word as soon as he had got it, which is bad
also. And he has thought himself to be a fine fellow because he has been
intimate with lords and dukes, which is very bad. He has never cared
whether he paid his tailor. I do not mean that he has merely got into
debt, which a young man such as he cannot help; but he has not cared
whether his breeches were his or another man's. That too is bad. Though
he has been passionately fond of women, it has only been for himself,
not for the women, which is very bad. There is an immense deal to be
altered before he can go to heaven."

"I hope the change may come before it is too late," said Merton.

"These changes don't come very suddenly, you know. But there is some
chance for Mountjoy. I don't think that there is any for Augustus." Here
he paused, but Merton did not feel disposed to make any remark. "You
don't happen to know a young man of the name of Annesley,--Harry
Annesley?"

"I have heard his name from your son."

"From Augustus? Then you didn't hear any good of him, I'm sure. You have
heard all the row about poor Mountjoy's disappearance?"

"I heard that he did disappear."

"After a quarrel with that Annesley?"

"After some quarrel. I did not notice the name at the time."

"Harry Annesley was the name. Now, Augustus says that Harry Annesley
was the last person who saw Mountjoy before his disappearance,--he last
who knew him. He implies thereby that Annesley was the conscious or
unconscious cause of his disappearance."

"Well, yes."

"Certainly it is so. And as it has been thought by the police, and by
other fools, that Mountjoy was murdered,--that his disappearance was
occasioned by his death, either by murder or suicide, it follows that
Annesley must have had something to do with it. That is the inference,
is it not?"

"I should suppose so," said Merton.

"That is manifestly the inference which Augustus draws. To hear him
speak to me about it you would suppose that he suspected Annesley of
having killed Mountjoy."

"Not that, I hope."

"Something of the sort. He has intended it to be believed that Annesley,
for his own purposes, has caused Mountjoy to be made away with. He has
endeavored to fill the police with that idea. A policeman, generally, is
the biggest fool that London, or England, or the world produces, and has
been selected on that account. Therefore the police have a beautifully
mysterious but altogether ignorant suspicion as to Annesley. That is the
doing of Augustus, for some purpose of his own. Now, let me tell you
that Augustus saw Mountjoy after Annesley had seen him, that he knows
this to be the case, and that it was Augustus, who contrived Mountjoy's
disappearance. Now what do you think of Augustus?" This was a question
which Merton did not find it very easy to answer. But Mr. Scarborough
waited for a reply. "Eh?" he exclaimed.

"I had rather not give an opinion on a point so raised."

"You may. Of course you understand that I intend to assert that Augustus
is the greatest blackguard you ever knew. If you have anything to say in
his favor you can say it."

"Only that you may be mistaken. Living down here, you may not know the
truth."

"Just that. But I do know the truth. Augustus is very clever; but there
are others as clever as he is. He can pay, but then so can I. That he
should want to get Mountjoy out of the way is intelligible. Mountjoy has
become disreputable, and had better be out of the way. But why
persistently endeavor to throw the blame upon young Annesley? That
surprises me;--only I do not care much about it. I hear now for the first
time that he has ruined young Annesley, and that does appear to be very
horrible. But why does he want to pay eighty thousand pounds to these
creditors? That I should wish to do so,--out of a property which must in
a very short time become his,--would be intelligible. I may be supposed
to have some affection for Mountjoy, and, after all, am not called upon
to pay the money out of my own pocket. Do you understand it?"

"Not in the least," said Merton, who did not, indeed, very much care
about it.

"Nor do I;--only this, that if he could pay these men and deprive them of
all power of obtaining farther payment, let who would have the property,
they at any rate would be quiet. Augustus is now my eldest son. Perhaps
he thinks he might not remain so. If I were out of the way, and these
creditors were paid, he thinks that poor Mountjoy wouldn't have a
chance. He shall pay this eighty thousand pounds. Mountjoy hasn't a
chance as it is; but Augustus shall pay the penalty."

Then he threw himself back on the bed, and Mr. Merton begged him to
spare himself the trouble of the letter for the present. But in a few
minutes he was again on his elbow and took some farther medicine. "I'm a
great ass," he said, "to help Augustus in playing his game. If I were to
go off at once he would be the happiest fellow left alive. But come, let
us begin." Then he dictated the letter as follows:

"DEAR MR. GREY,--I have been thinking much of what passed between us the
other day. Augustus seems to be in a great hurry as to paying the
creditors, and I do not see why he should not be gratified, as the money
may now be forthcoming. I presume that the sales, which will be
completed before Christmas, will nearly enable us to stop their mouths.
I can understand that Mountjoy should be induced to join with me and
Augustus, so that in disposing of so large a sum of money the authority
of all may be given, both of myself and of the heir, and also of him who
a short time since was supposed to be the heir. I think that you may
possibly find Mountjoy's address by applying to Augustus, who is always
clever in such matters.

"But you will have to be certain that you obtain all the bonds. If you
can get Tyrrwhit to help you you will be able to be sure of doing so.
The matter to him is one of vital importance, as his sum is so much the
largest. Of course he will open his mouth very wide; but when he finds
that he can get his principal and nothing more, I think that he will
help you. I am afraid that I must ask you to put yourself in
correspondence with Augustus. That he is an insolent scoundrel I will
admit; but we cannot very well complete this affair without him. I fancy
that he now feels it to be his interest to get it all done before I die,
as the men will be clamorous with their bonds as soon as the breath is
out of my body.--

"Yours sincerely, JOHN SCARBOROUGH."

"That will do," he said, when the letter was finished. But when Mr.
Merton turned to leave the room Mr. Scarborough detained him. "Upon the
whole, I am not dissatisfied with my life," he said.

"I don't know that you have occasion," rejoined Mr. Merton. In this he
absolutely lied, for, according to his thinking, there was very much in
the affairs of Mr. Scarborough's life which ought to have induced
regret. He knew the whole story of the birth of the elder son, of the
subsequent marriage, of Mr. Scarborough's fraudulent deceit which had
lasted so many years, and of his later return to the truth, so as to
save the property, and to give back to the younger son all of which for
so many years he, his father, had attempted to rob him.

All London had talked of the affair, and all London had declared that so
wicked and dishonest an old gentleman had never lived. And now he had
returned to the truth simply with the view of cheating the creditors and
keeping the estate in the family. He was manifestly an old gentleman who
ought to be, above all others, dissatisfied with his own life; but Mr.
Merton, when the assertion was made to him, knew not what other answer
to make.

"I really do not think I have, nor do I know one to whom heaven with all
its bliss will be more readily accorded. What have I done for myself?"

"I don't quite know what you have done all your life."

"I was born a rich man, and then I married,--not rich as I am now, but
with ample means for marrying."

"After Mr. Mountjoy's birth," said Merton, who could not pretend to be
ignorant of the circumstance.

"Well, yes. I have my own ideas about marriage and that kind of thing,
which are, perhaps, at variance with yours." Whereupon Merton bowed. "I
had the best wife in the world, who entirely coincided with me in all
that I did. I lived entirely abroad, and made most liberal allowances to
all the agricultural tenants. I rebuilt all the cottages;--go and look at
them. I let any man shoot his own game till Mountjoy came up in the
world and took the shooting into his own hands. When the people at the
pottery began to build I assisted them in every way in the world. I
offered to keep a school at my own expense, solely on the understanding
that what they call Dissenters should be allowed to come there. The
parson spread abroad a rumor that I was an atheist, and consequently the
School was kept for the Dissenters only. The School-board has come and
made that all right, though the parson goes on with his rumor. If he
understood me as well as I understand him, he would know that he is more
of an atheist than I am. I gave my boys the best education, spending on
them more than double what is done by men with twice my means. My tastes
were all simple, and were not specially vicious. I do not know that I
have ever made any one unhappy. Then the estate became richer, but
Mountjoy grew more and more expensive. I began to find that with all my
economies the estate could not keep pace with him, so as to allow me to
put by anything for Augustus. Then I had to bethink myself what I had to
do to save the estate from those rascals."

"You took peculiar steps."

"I am a man who does take peculiar steps. Another would have turned his
face to the wall in my state of health, and have allowed two dirty Jews
such as Tyrrwhit and Samuel Hart to have revelled in the wealth of
Tretton. I am not going to allow them to revel. Tyrrwhit knows me, and
Hart will have to know me. They could not keep their hands to themselves
till the breath was out of my body. Now I am about to see that each
shall have his own shortly, and the estate will still be kept in the
family."

"For Mr. Augustus Scarborough?"

"Yes, alas, yes! But that is not my doing. I do not know that I have
cause to be dissatisfied with myself, but I cannot but own that I am
unhappy. But I wished you to understand that though a man may break the
law, he need not therefore be accounted bad, and though he may have
views of his own as to religious matters, he need not be an atheist. I
have made efforts on behalf of others, in which I have allowed no
outward circumstances to control me. Now I think I do feel sleepy."



CHAPTER XXII.

HARRY ANNESLEY IS SUMMONED HOME.


"Just now I am triumphant," Harry Annesley had said to his hostess as he
left Mrs. Armitage's house in the Paragon, at Cheltenham. He was
absolutely triumphant, throwing his hat up into the air in the
abandonment of his joy. For he was not a man to have conceived so well
of his own parts as to have flattered himself that the girl must
certainly be his.

There are at present a number of young men about who think that few
girls are worth the winning, but that any girl is to be had, not by
asking,--which would be troublesome,--but simply by looking at her. You
can see the feeling in their faces. They are for the most part small in
stature, well made little men, who are aware that they have something to
be proud of, wearing close-packed, shining little hats, by which they
seem to add more than a cubit to their stature; men endowed with certain
gifts of personal--dignity I may perhaps call it, though the word rises
somewhat too high. They look as though they would be able to say a
clever thing; but their spoken thoughts seldom rise above a small, acrid
sharpness. They respect no one; above all, not their elders. To such a
one his horse comes first, if he have a horse; then a dog; and then a
stick; and after that the mistress of his affections. But their fault is
not altogether of their own making. It is the girls themselves who spoil
them and endure their inanity, because of that assumed look of
superiority which to the eyes of the outside world would be a little
offensive were it not a little foolish. But they do not marry often.
Whether it be that the girls know better at last, or that they
themselves do not see sufficiently clearly their future dinners, who can
say? They are for the most part younger brothers, and perhaps have
discovered the best way of getting out of the world whatever scraps the
world can afford them. Harry Annesley's faults were altogether of
another kind. In regard to this young woman, the Florence whom he had
loved, he had been over-modest. Now his feeling of glory was altogether
redundant. Having been told by Florence that she was devoted to him, he
walked with his head among the heavens. The first instinct with such a
young man as those of whom I have spoken teaches him, the moment he has
committed himself, to begin to consider how he can get out of the
scrape. It is not much of a scrape, for when an older man comes this
way, a man verging toward baldness, with a good professional income, our
little friend is forgotten and he is passed by without a word. But Harry
had now a conviction,--on that one special night,--that he never would be
forgotten and never would forget. He was filled at once with an unwonted
pride. All the world was now at his feet, and all the stars were open to
him. He had begun to have a glimmering of what it was that Augustus
Scarborough intended to do; but the intentions of Augustus Scarborough
were now of no moment to him. He was clothed in a panoply of armor which
would be true against all weapons. At any rate, on that night and during
the next day this feeling remained the same with him.

Then he received a summons from his mother at Buston. His mother pressed
him to come at once down to the parsonage. "Your uncle has been with
your father, and has said terrible things about you. As you know, my
brother is not very strong-minded, and I should not care so much for
what he says were it not that so much is in his hands. I cannot
understand what it is all about, but your father says that he does
nothing but threaten. He talks of putting the entail on one side.
Entails used to be fixed things, I thought; but since what old Mr.
Scarborough did nobody seems to regard them now. But even suppose the
entail does remain, what are you to do about the income? Your father
thinks you had better come down and have a little talk about the
matter."

This was the first blow received since the moment of his exaltation.
Harry knew very well that the entail was fixed, and could not be put
aside by Mr. Prosper, though Mr. Scarborough might have succeeded with
his entail; but yet he was aware that his present income was chiefly
dependent on his uncle's good-will. To be reduced to live on his
fellowship would be very dreadful. And that income, such as it was,
depended entirely on his celibacy. And he had, too, as he was well
aware, engendered habits of idleness during the last two years. The mind
of a young man so circumstanced turns always first to the Bar, and then
to literature. At the Bar he did not think that there could be any
opening for him. In the first place, it was late to begin; and then he
was humble enough to believe of himself that he had none of the peculiar
gifts necessary for a judge or for an advocate. Perhaps the knowledge
that six or seven years of preliminary labor would be necessary was
somewhat of a deterrent.

The rewards of literature might be achieved immediately. Such was his
idea. But he had another idea,--perhaps as erroneous,--that this career
would not become a gentleman who intended to be Squire of Buston. He had
seen two or three men, decidedly Bohemian in their modes of life, to
whom he did not wish to assimilate himself. There was Quaverdale, whom
he had known intimately at St. John's, and who was on the Press.
Quaverdale had quarrelled absolutely with his father, who was also a
clergyman, and having been thrown altogether on his own resources, had
come out as a writer for _The Coming Hour_. He made his five or six
hundred a year in a rattling, loose, uncertain sort of fashion, and
was,--so thought Harry Annesley,--the dirtiest man of his acquaintance. He
did not believe in the six hundred a year, or Quaverdale would certainly
have changed his shirt more frequently, and would sometimes have had a
new pair of trousers. He was very amusing, very happy, very thoughtless,
and as a rule altogether impecunious. Annesley had never known him
without the means of getting a good dinner, but those means did not rise
to the purchase of a new hat. Putting Quaverdale before him as an
example, Annesley could not bring himself to choose literature as a
profession. Thinking of all this when he received his mother's letter,
he assured himself that Florence would not like professional literature.

He wrote to say that he would be down at Buston in five days' time. It
does not become a son who is a fellow of a college and the heir to a
property to obey his parents too quickly. But he gave up the
intermediate days to thinking over the condition which bound him to his
uncle, and to discussing his prospects with Quaverdale, who, as usual,
was remaining in town doing the editor's work for _The Coming Hour_. "If
he interfered with me I should tell him to go to bed," said Quaverdale.
The allusion was, of course, made to Mr. Prosper.

"I am not on those sort of terms with him."

"I should make my own terms, and then let him do his worst. What can he
do? If he means to withdraw his beggarly two hundred and fifty pounds,
of course he'll do it."

"I suppose I do owe him something, in the way of respect."

"Not if he threatens you in regard to money. What does it come to? That
you are to cringe at his heels for a beggarly allowance which he has
been pleased to bestow upon you without your asking. 'Very well, my dear
fellow,' I should say to him, 'you can stop it the moment you please.
For certain objects of your own,--that your heir might live in the world
after a certain fashion,--you have bestowed it. It has been mine since I
was a child. If you can reconcile it to your conscience to discontinue
it, do so.' You would find that he would have to think twice about it."

"He will stop it, and what am I to do then? Can I get an opening on any
of these papers?" Quaverdale whistled,--a mode of receiving the overture
which was not pleasing to Annesley. "I don't suppose that anything so
very super-human in the way of intellect is required." Annesley had got
a fellowship, whereas Quaverdale had done nothing at the university.

"Couldn't you make a pair of shoes? Shoemakers do get good wages."

"What do you mean? A fellow never can get you to be serious for two
minutes together.

"I never was more serious in my life."

"That I am to make shoes?"

"No, I don't quite think that. I don't suppose you can make them. You'd
have first to learn the trade and show that you were an adept."

"And I must show that I am an adept before I can write for _The Coming
Hour_." There was a tone of sarcasm in this which was not lost on
Quaverdale.

"Certainly you must; and that you are a better adept than I who have got
the place, or some other unfortunate who will have to be put out of his
berth. _The Coming Hour_ only requires a certain number. Of course there
are many newspapers in London, and many magazines, and much literary
work going. You may get your share of it, but you have got to begin by
shoving some incompetent fellow out. And in order to be able to begin
you must learn the trade."

"How did you begin?"

"Just in that way. While you were roaming about London like a fine
gentleman I began by earning twenty-four shillings a week."

"Can I earn twenty-four shillings a week?"

"You won't because you have already got your fellowship. You had a knack
at writing Greek iambics, and therefore got a fellowship. I picked up at
the same time the way of stringing English together. I also soon learned
the way to be hungry. I'm not hungry now very often, but I've been
through it. My belief is that you wouldn't get along with my editor."

"That's your idea of being independent."

"Certainly it is. I do his work, and take his pay, and obey his orders.
If you think you can do the same, come and try. There's not room here,
but there is, no doubt, room elsewhere. There's the trade to be
learned, like any other trade; but my belief is that even then you could
not do it. We don't want Greek iambics."

Harry turned away disgusted. Quaverdale was like the rest of the world,
and thought that a peculiar talent and a peculiar tact were needed for
his own business. Harry believed that he was as able to write a leading
article, at any rate, as Quaverdale, and that the Greek iambics would
not stand in his way. But he conceived it to be probable that his habits
of cleanliness might do so, and gave up the idea for the present. He
thought that his friend should have welcomed him with an open hand into
the realms of literature; and, perhaps, it was the case that Quaverdale
attributed too much weight to the knack of turning readable paragraphs
on any subject at any moment's notice.

But what should he do down at Buston? There were three persons there
with whom he would have to contend,--his father, his mother, and his
uncle. With his father he had always been on good terms, but had still
been subject to a certain amount of gentle sarcasm. He had got his
fellowship and his allowance, and so had been lifted above his father's
authority. His father thoroughly despised his brother-in-law, and looked
down upon him as an absolute ass. But he was reticent, only dropping a
word here and there, out of deference, perhaps, to his wife, and from a
feeling lest his son might be deficient in wise courtesy, if he were
encouraged to laugh at his benefactor. He had said a word or two as to a
profession when Harry left Cambridge, but the word or two had come to
nothing. In those days the uncle had altogether ridiculed the idea, and
the mother, fond of her son, the fellow and the heir, had altogether
opposed the notion. The rector himself was an idle, good-looking,
self-indulgent man,--a man who read a little and understood what he read,
and thought a little and understood what he thought, but who took no
trouble about anything. To go through the world comfortably with a
rather large family and a rather small income was the extent of his
ambition. In regard to his eldest son he had begun well. Harry had been
educated free, and had got a fellowship. He had never cost his father a
shilling. And now the eldest of two grown-up daughters was engaged to be
married to the son of a brewer living in the little town of Buntingford.
This also was a piece of good-luck which the rector accepted with a
thankful heart. There was another grown-up girl, also pretty, and then a
third girl not grown up and the two boys who were at present at school
at Royston. Thus burdened, the Rev. Mr. Annesley went through the world
with as jaunty a step as was possible, making but little of his
troubles, but anxious to make as much as he could of his advantages. Of
these, the position of Harry was the brightest, if only Harry would be
careful to guard it. It was quite out of the question that he should
find an income for Harry if the squire stopped the two hundred and fifty
pounds per annum which he at present allowed him.

Then there was Harry's mother, who had already very frequently
discounted the good things which were to fall to Harry's lot. She was a
dear, good, motherly woman, all whose geese were certainly counted to be
swans. And of all swans Harry was the whitest; whereas, in purity of
plumage, Mary, the eldest daughter, who had won the affections of the
young Buntingford brewer, was the next. That Harry's allowance should be
stopped would be almost as great a misfortune as though Mr. Thoroughbung
were to break his neck out hunting with the Puckeridge hounds,--an
amusement which, after the manner of brewers, he was much in the habit
of following. Mrs. Annesley had lived at Buston all her life, having
been born at the Hall. She was an excellent mother of a family, and a
good clergyman's wife, being in both respects more painstaking and
assiduous than her husband. But she did maintain something of respect
for her brother, though in her inmost heart she knew that he was a fool.
But to have been born Squire of Buston was something, and to have
reached the age of fifty unmarried, so as to leave the position of heir
open to her own son, was more. To such a one a great deal was due; but
of that deal Harry was but little disposed to pay any part. He must be
talked to, and very seriously talked to, and if possible saved from the
sin of offending his easily-offended uncle. A terrible idea had been
suggested to her lately by her husband. The entail might be made
altogether inoperative by the marriage of her brother. It was a fearful
notion, but one which if it entered into her brother's head might
possibly be carried out. No one before had ever dreamed of anything so
dangerous to the Annesley interests, and Mrs. Annesley now felt that by
due submission on the part of the heir it might be avoided.

But the squire himself was the foe whom Harry most feared. He quite
understood that he would be required to be submissive, and, even if he
were willing, he did not know how to act the part. There was much now
that he would endure for the sake of Florence. If Mr. Prosper demanded
that after dinner he should hear a sermon, he would sit and hear it out.
It would be a bore, but might be endured on behalf of the girl whom he
loved. But he much feared that the cause of his uncle's displeasure was
deeper than that. A rumor had reached him that his uncle had declared
his conduct to Mountjoy Scarborough to have been abominable. He had
heard no words spoken by his uncle, but threats had reached him through
his mother, and also through his uncle's man of business. He certainly
would go down to Buston, and carry himself toward his uncle with what
outward signs of respect would be possible. But if his uncle accused
him, he could not but tell his uncle that he knew nothing of the matter
of which he was talking. Not for all Buston could he admit that he had
done anything mean or ignoble. Florence, he was quite sure, would not
desire it. Florence would not be Florence were she to desire it. He
thought that he could trace the hands,--or rather the tongues,--through
which the calumny had made its way down to the Hall. He would at once go
to the Hall, and tell his uncle all the facts. He would describe the
gross ill-usage to which he had been subjected. No doubt he had left the
man sprawling upon the pavement, but there had been no sign that the man
had been dangerously hurt; and when two days afterward the man had
vanished, it was clear that he could not have vanished without legs. Had
he taken himself off,--as was probable,--then why need Harry trouble
himself as to his vanishing? If some one else had helped him in
escaping,--as was also probable,--why had not that some one come and told
the circumstances when all the inquiries were being made? Why should he
have been expected to speak of the circumstances of such an encounter,
which could not have been told but to Captain Scarborough's infinite
disgrace? And he could not have told of it without naming Florence
Mountjoy.

His uncle, when he heard the truth, must acknowledge that he had not
behaved badly. And yet Harry, as he turned it all in his mind was uneasy
as to his own conduct. He could not quite acquit himself in that he had
kept secret all the facts of that midnight encounter in the face of the
inquiries which had been made, in that he had falsely assured Augustus
Scarborough of his ignorance. And yet he knew that on no consideration
would he acknowledge himself to have been wrong.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE RUMORS AS TO MR. PROSPER.


It was still October when Harry Annesley went down to Buston, and the
Mountjoys had just reached Brussels. Mr. Grey had made his visit to
Tretton and had returned to London. Harry went home on an
understanding,--on the part of his mother, at any rate,--that he should
remain there till Christmas. But he felt himself very averse to so long
a sojourn. If the Hall and park were open to him he might endure it. He
would take down two or three stiff books which he certainly would never
read, and would shoot a few pheasants, and possibly ride one of his
future brother-in-law's horses with the hounds. But he feared that there
was to be a quarrel by which he would be debarred from the Hall and the
park; and he knew, too, that it would not be well for him to shoot and
hunt when his income should have been cut off. It would be necessary
that some great step should be taken at once; but then it would be
necessary, also, that Florence should agree to that step. He had a
modest lodging in London, but before he started he prepared himself for
what must occur by giving notice. "I don't say as yet that I shall give
them up; but I might as well let you know that it's possible." This he
said to Mrs. Brown, who kept the lodgings, and who received this
intimation as a Mrs. Brown is sure to do. But where should he betake
himself when his home at Mrs. Brown's had been lost? He would, he
thought, find it quite impossible to live in absolute idleness at the
rectory. Then in an unhappy frame of mind he went down by the train to
Stevenage, and was there met by the rectory pony-carriage.

He saw it all in his mother's eye the moment she embraced him. There was
some terrible trouble in the wind, and what could it be but his uncle?
"Well, mother, what is it?"

"Oh, Harry, there is such a sad affair up at the Hall!"

"Is my uncle dead?"

"Dead! No!"

"Then why do you look so sad?--

  "'Even such a man, so faint, so spiritless,
  So dull, so dead in look, so woe-begone,
  Drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night.'"

"Oh Harry do not laugh. Your uncle says such dreadful things!"

"I don't care much what he says. The question is--what does he mean to
do?"

"He declares that he will cut you off altogether."

"That is sooner said than done."

"That is all very well, Harry; but he can do it. Oh, Harry! But come and
sit down and talk to me. I told your father to be out, so that I might
have you alone; and the dear girls are gone into Buntingford."

"Ah, like them! Thoroughbung will have enough of them."

"He is our only happiness now."

"Poor Thoroughbung! I pity him if he has to do happiness for the whole
household."

"Joshua is a most excellent young man. Where we should be without him I
do not know." The flourishing young brewer was named Joshua, and had
been known to Harry for some years, though never as yet known as a
brother-in-law.

"I am sure he is; particularly as he has chosen Molly to be his wife. He
is just the young man who ought to have a wife."

"Of course he ought."

"Because he can keep a family. But now about my uncle. He is to perform
this ceremony of cutting me off. Will he turn out to have had a wife and
family in former ages? I have no doubt old Scarborough could manage it,
but I don't give my uncle credit for so much cleverness."

"But in future ages--" said the unhappy mother, shaking her head and
rubbing her eyes.

"You mean that he is going to have a family?"

"It is all in the hands of Providence," said the parson's wife.

"Yes; that is true. He is not too old yet to be a second Priam, and have
his curtains drawn the other way. That's his little game, is it?"

"There's a sort of rumor about, that it is possible."

"And who is the lady?"

"You may be sure there will be no lack of a lady if he sets his mind
upon it. I was turning it over in my mind, and I thought of Matilda
Thoroughbung."

"Joshua's aunt!"

"Well; she is Joshua's aunt, no doubt. I did just whisper the idea to
Joshua, and he says that she is fool enough for anything. She has
twenty-five thousand pounds of her own, but she lives all by herself."

"I know where she lives,--just out of Buntingford, as you go to Royston.
But she's not alone. Is Uncle Prosper to marry Miss Tickle also?" Miss
Tickle was an estimable lady living as companion to Miss Thoroughbung.

"I don't know how they may manage; but it has to be thought of, Harry.
We only know that your uncle has been twice to Buntingford."

"The lady is fifty, at any rate."

"The lady is barely forty. She gives out that she is thirty-six. And he
could settle a jointure on her which would leave the property not worth
having."

"What can I do?"

"Yes, indeed, my dear; what can you do?"

"Why is he going to upset all the arrangements of my life, and his life,
after such a fashion as this?"

"That's just what your father says."

"I suppose he can do it. The law will allow him. But the injustice would
be monstrous. I did not ask him to take me by the hand when I was a boy
and lead me into this special walk of life. It has been his own doing.
How will he look me in the face and tell me that he is going to marry a
wife? I shall look him in the face and tell him of my wife."

"But is that settled?"

"Yes, mother; it is settled. Wish me joy for having won the finest lady
that ever walked the earth." His mother blessed him,--but said nothing
about the finest lady,--who at that moment she believed to be the future
bride of Mr. Joshua Thoroughbung. "And when I shall tell my uncle that
it is so, what will he say to me? Will he have the face then to tell me
that I am to be cut out of Buston? I doubt whether he will have the
courage."

"He has thought of that, Harry."

"How thought of it, mother?"

"He has given orders that he is not to see you."

"Not to see me!"

"So he declares. He has written a long letter to your father, in which
he says that he would be spared the agony of an interview."

"What! is it all done, then?"

"Your father got the letter yesterday. It must have taken my poor
brother a week to write it."

"And he tells the whole plan,--Matilda Thoroughbung, and the future
family?"

"No, he does not say anything about Miss Thoroughbung He says that he
must make other arrangements about the property."

"He can't make other arrangements; that is, not until the boy is born.
It may be a long time first, you know."

"But the jointure?"

"What does Molly say about it?"

"Molly is mad about it and so is Joshua. Joshua talks about it just as
though he were one of us, and he says that the old people at Buntingford
would not hear of it." The old people spoken of were the father and
mother of Joshua, and the half-brother of Miss Matilda Thoroughbung.
"But what can they do?"

"They can do nothing. If Miss Matilda likes Uncle Prosper--"

"Likes, my dear! How young you are! Of course she would like a country
house to live in, and the park, and the county society. And she would
like somebody to live with besides Miss Tickle."

"My uncle, for instance."

"Yes, your uncle."

"If I had my choice, mother, I should prefer Miss Tickle."

"Because you are a silly boy. But what are you to do now?"

"In this long letter which he has written to my father does he give no
reason?"

"Your father will show you the letter. Of course he gives reasons. He
says that you have done something which you ought not to have
done--about that wretched Mountjoy Scarborough."

"What does he know about it?--the idiot!"

"Oh, Harry!"

"Well, mother, what better can I say of him? He has taken me as a child
and fashioned my life for me; has said that this property should be
mine, and has put an income into my hand as though I were an eldest son;
has repeatedly declared, when his voice was more potent than mine, that
I should follow no profession. He has bound himself to me, telling all
the world that I was his heir. And now he casts me out because he has
heard some cock-and-bull story, of the truth of which he knows nothing.
What better can I say of him than call him an idiot? He must be that or
else a heartless knave. And he says that he does not mean to see me,--me
with whose life he has thus been empowered to interfere, so as to blast
it if not to bless it, and intends to turn me adrift as he might do a
dog that did not suit him! And because he knows that he cannot answer me
he declares that he will not see me."

"It is very hard, Harry."

"Therefore I call him an idiot in preference to calling him a knave. But
I am not going to be dropped out of the running in that way, just in
deference to his will. I shall see him. Unless they lock him up in his
bedroom I shall compel him to see me."

"What good would that do, Harry? That would only set him more against
you."

"You don't know his weakness."

"Oh yes, I do; he is very weak."

"He will not see me, because he will have to yield when he hears what I
have to say for myself. He knows that, and would therefore fain keep
away from me. Why should he be stirred to this animosity against me?"

"Why indeed?"

"Because there is some one who wishes to injure me more strong than he
is, and who has got hold of him. Some one has lied behind my back."

"Who has done this?"

"Ah, that is the question. But I know who has done it, though I will not
name him just now. This enemy of mine, knowing him to be weak,--knowing
him to be an idiot, has got hold of him and persuaded him. He believes
the story which is told to him, and then feels happy in shaking off an
incubus. No doubt I have not been very soft with him,--nor, indeed, hard.
I have kept out of his way, and he is willing to resent it; but he is
afraid to face me and tell me that it is so. Here are the girls come
back from Buntingford. Molly, you blooming young bride, I wish you joy
of your brewer."

"He's none the worse on that account, Master Harry," said the eldest
sister.

"All the better,--very much the better. Where would you be if he was not
a brewer? But I congratulate you with all my heart, old girl. I have
known him ever so long, and he is one of the best fellows I do know."

"Thank you, Harry," and she kissed him.

"I wish Fanny and Kate may even do so well."

"All in good time," said Fanny.

"I mean to have a banker--all to myself," said Kate.

"I wish you may have half as good a man for your husband," said Harry.

"And I am to tell you," continued Molly, who was now in high
good-humor, "that there will be always one of his horses for you to ride
as long as you remain at home. It is not every brother-in-law that would
do as much as that for you."

"Nor yet every uncle," said Kate, shaking her head, from which Harry
could see that this quarrel with his uncle had been freely discussed in
the family circle.

"Uncles are very different," said the mother; "uncles can't be expected
to do everything as though they were in love."

"Fancy Uncle Peter in love!" said Kate. Mr. Prosper was called Uncle
Peter by the girls, though always in a sort of joke. Then the other two
girls shook their heads very gravely, from which Harry learned that the
question respecting the choice of Miss Matilda Thoroughbung as a
mistress for the Hall had been discussed also before them.

"I am not going to marry all the family," said Molly.

"Not Miss Matilda, for instance," said her brother, laughing.

"No, especially not Matilda. Joshua is quite as angry about his aunt as
anybody here can be. You'll find that he is more of an Annesley than a
Thoroughbung."

"My dear," said the mother, "your husband will, as a matter of course,
think most of his own family. And so ought you to do of his family,
which will be yours. A married woman should always think most of her
husband's family." In this way the mother told her daughter of her
future duties; but behind the mother's back Kate made a grimace, for the
benefit of her sister Fanny, showing thereby her conviction that in a
matter of blood,--what she called being a gentleman,--a Thoroughbung could
not approach an Annesley.

"Mamma does not know it as yet," Molly said afterward in privacy to her
brother, "but you may take it for granted that Uncle Peter has been into
Buntingford and has made an offer to Aunt Matilda. I could tell it at
once, because she looked so sharp at me to-day. And Joshua says that he
is sure it is so by the airs she gives herself."

"You think she'll have him?"

"Have him! Of course she'll have him. Why shouldn't she? A wretched old
maid living with a companion like that would have any one."

"She has got a lot of money."

"She'll take care of her money, let her alone for that.

"And she'll have his house to live in. And there'll be a jointure. Of
course, if there were to be children--"

"Oh, bother!"

"Well, perhaps there will not. But it will be just as bad. We don't mean
even to visit them; we think it so very wicked. And we shall tell them a
bit of our mind as soon as the thing has been publicly declared."



CHAPTER XXIV.

HARRY ANNESLEY'S MISERY.


The conversation which took place that evening between Harry and his
father was more serious in its language, though not more important in
its purpose. "This is bad news, Harry," said the rector.

"Yes, indeed, sir."'

"Your uncle, no doubt, can do as he pleases."

"You mean as to the income he has allowed me?"

"As to the income! As to the property itself. It is bad waiting for dead
men's shoes."

"And yet it is what everybody does in this world. No one can say that I
have been at all in a hurry to step into my uncle's shoes. It was he
that first told you that he should never marry, and as the property had
been entailed on me, he undertook to bring me up as his son."

"So he did."

"Not a doubt about it, sir. But I had nothing to say to it. As far as I
understand, he has been allowing me two hundred and fifty pounds a year
for the last dozen years."

"Ever since you went to the Charter-house."

"At that time I could not be expected to have a word to say to it. And
it has gone on ever since."

"Yes, it has gone on ever since."

"And when I was leaving Cambridge he required that I should not go into
a profession."

"Not exactly that, Harry."

"It was so that I understood it. He did not wish his heir to be burdened
with a profession. He said so to me himself."

"Yes, just when he was in his pride because you had got your fellowship.
But there was a contract understood, if not made."

"What contract?" asked Harry, with an air of surprise.

"That you should be to him as a son."

"I never undertook it. I wouldn't have done it at the price,--or for any
price. I never felt for him the respect or the love that were due to a
father. I did feel both of them, to the full, for my own father. They
are a sort of a thing which we cannot transfer."

"They may be shared, Harry," said the rector, who was flattered.

"No, sir; in this instance that was not possible."

"You might have sat by while he read a sermon to his sister and nieces.
You understood his vanity, and you wounded it, knowing what you were
doing. I don't mean to blame you, but it was a misfortune. Now we must
look it in the face and see what must be done. Your mother has told you
that he has written to me. There is his letter. You will see that he
writes with a fixed purpose." Then he handed to Harry a letter written
on a large sheet of paper, the reading of which would be so long that
Harry seated himself for the operation.

The letter need not here be repeated at length. It was written with
involved sentences, but in very decided language. It said nothing of
Harry's want of duty, or not attending to the sermons, or of other
deficiencies of a like nature, but based his resolution in regard to
stopping the income on his nephew's misconduct,--as it appeared to
him,--in a certain particular case. And unfortunately,--though Harry was
prepared to deny that his conduct on that occasion had been subject to
censure,--he could not contradict any of the facts on which Mr. Prosper
had founded his opinion. The story was told in reference to Mountjoy
Scarborough, but not the whole story. "I understand that there was a row
in the streets late at night, at the end of which young Mr. Scarborough
was left as dead under the railings." "Left for dead!" exclaimed Harry.
"Who says that he was left for dead? I did not think him to be dead."

"You had better read it to the end," said his father, and Harry read it.
The letter went on to describe how Mountjoy Scarborough was missed from
his usual haunts, how search was made by the police, how the newspapers
were filled with the strange incident, and how Harry had told nothing of
what had occurred. "But beyond this," the letter went on to say, "he
positively denied, in conversation with the gentleman's brother, that he
had anything to do with the gentleman on the night in question. If this
be so, he absolutely lied. A man who would lie on such an occasion,
knowing himself to have been guilty of having beaten the man in such a
way as to have probably caused his death,--for he had left him for dead
under the railings in a London street and in the midnight hour,--and
would positively assert to the gentleman's brother that he had not seen
the gentleman on the night in question, when he had every reason to
believe that he had killed him,--a deed which might or might not be
murder,--is not fit to be recognized as my heir."

There were other sentences equally long and equally complicated, in all
of which Mr. Prosper strove to tell the story with tragic effect, but
all of which had reference to the same transaction. He said nothing as
to the ultimate destination of the property, nor of his own proposed
marriage. Should he have a son, that son would, of course, have the
property. Should there be no son, Harry must have it, even though his
conduct might have been ever so abominable. To prevent this outrage on
society, his marriage,--with its ordinary results,--would be the only
step. Of that he need say nothing. But the two hundred and fifty pounds
would not be paid after the Christmas quarter, and he must decline for
the future the honor of receiving Mr. Henry Annesley at the Hall.

Harry, when he had read it all, began to storm with anger. The man, as
he truly observed, had grossly insulted him. Mr. Prosper had called him
a liar and had hinted that he was a murderer. "You can do nothing to
him," his father said. "He is your uncle, and you have eaten his bread."

"I can't call him out and fight him."

"You must let it alone."

"I can make my way into the house and see him."

"I don't think you can do that. You will find it difficult to get beyond
the front-door, and I would advise you to abandon all such ideas. What
can you say to him?"

"It is false!"

"What is false? Though in essence it is false, in words it is true. You
did deny that you had seen him."

"I forget what passed. Augustus Scarborough endeavored to pump me about
his brother, and I did not choose to be pumped. As far as I can
ascertain now, it is he that is the liar. He saw his brother after the
affair with me."

"Has he denied it?"

"Practically he denies it by asking me the question. He asked me with
the ostensible object of finding out what had become of his brother when
he himself knew what had become of him."

"But you can't prove it. He positively says that you did deny having
seen him on the night in question, I am not speaking of Augustus
Scarborough, but of your uncle. What he says is true, and you had better
leave him alone. Take other steps for driving the real truth into his
brain."

"What steps can be taken with such a fool?"

"Write your own account of the transaction, so that he shall read it.
Let your mother have it. I suppose he will see your mother."

"And so beg his favor."

"You need beg for nothing. Or if the marriage comes off--"

"You have heard of the marriage, sir?"

"Yes; I have heard of the marriage. I believe that he contemplates it.
Put your statement of what did occur, and of your motives, into the
hands of the lady's friends. He will be sure to read it."

"What good will that do?"

"No good, but that of making him ashamed of himself. You have got to
read the world a little more deeply than you have hitherto done. He
thinks that he is quarrelling with you about the affair in London, but
it is in truth because you have declined to hear him read the sermons
after having taken his money."

"Then it is he that is the liar rather than I."

"I, who am a moderate man, would say that neither is a liar. You did not
choose to be pumped, as you call it, and therefore spoke as you did.
According to the world's ways that was fair enough. He, who is sore at
the little respect you have paid him, takes any ground of offence rather
than that. Being sore at heart, he believes anything. This young
Scarborough in some way gets hold of him, and makes him accept this
cock-and-bull story. If you had sat there punctual all those Sunday
evenings, do you think he would have believed it then?"

"And I have got to pay such a penalty as this?" The rector could only
shrug his shoulders. He was not disposed to scold his son. It was not
the custom of the house that Harry should be scolded. He was a fellow of
his college and the heir to Buston, and was therefore considered to be
out of the way of scolding. But the rector felt that his son had made
his bed and must now lie on it, and Harry was aware that this was his
father's feeling.

For two or three days he wandered about the country very down in the
mouth. The natural state of ovation in which the girls existed was in
itself an injury to him. How could he join them in their ovation, he who
had suffered so much? It seemed to be heartless that they should smile
and rejoice when he,--the head of the family, as he had been taught to
consider himself,--was being so cruelly ill-used. For a day or two he
hated Thoroughbung, though Thoroughbung was all that was kind to him. He
congratulated him with cold congratulations, and afterward kept out of
his way. "Remember, Harry, that up to Christmas you can always have one
of the nags. There's Belladonna and Orange Peel. I think you'd find the
mare a little the faster, though perhaps the horse is the bigger
jumper." "Oh, thank you!" said Harry, and passed on. Now, Thoroughbung
was fond of his horses, and liked to have them talked about, and he knew
that Harry Annesley was treating him badly. But he was a good-humored
fellow, and he bore it without complaint. He did not even say a cross
word to Molly. Molly, however, was not so patient. "You might be a
little more gracious when he's doing the best he can for you. It is not
every one who will lend you a horse to hunt for two months." Harry shook
his head, and wandered away miserable through the fields, and would not
in these days even set his foot upon the soil of the park. "He was not
going to intrude any farther," he said to the rector. "You can come to
church, at any rate," his father said, "for he certainly will not be
there while you are at the parsonage." Oh yes, Harry would go to the
church. "I have yet to understand that Mr. Prosper is owner of the
church, and the path there from the rectory is, at any rate, open to the
public;" for at Buston the church stands on one corner of the park.

This went on for two or three days, during which nothing farther was
said by the family as to Harry's woes. A letter was sent off to Mrs.
Brown, telling her that the lodgings would not be required any longer,
and anxious ideas began to crowd themselves on Harry's mind as to his
future residence. He thought that he must go back to Cambridge and take
his rooms at St. John's and look for college work. Two fatal years,
years of idleness and gayety, had been passed, but still he thought that
it might be possible. What else was there open for him? And then, as he
roamed about the fields, his mind naturally ran away to the girl he
loved. How would he dare again to look Florence in the face? It was not
only the two hundred and fifty pounds per annum that was gone: that
would have been a small income on which to marry. And he had never taken
the girl's own money into account. He had rather chosen to look forward
to the position as squire of Buston, and to take it for granted that it
would not be very long before he was called upon to fill the position.
He had said not a word to Florence about money, but it was thus that he
had regarded the matter. Now the existing squire was going to marry, and
the matter could not so be regarded any longer. He saw half a dozen
little Prospers occupying half a dozen little cradles, and a whole suite
of nurseries established at the Hall. The name of Prosper would be fixed
at Buston, putting it altogether beyond his reach.

In such circumstances would it not be reasonable that Florence should
expect him to authorize her to break their engagement? What was he now
but the penniless son of a poor clergyman, with nothing on which to
depend but a miserable stipend, which must cease were he to marry? He
knew that he ought to give her back her troth; and yet, as he thought of
doing so, he was indignant with her. Was love to come to this? Was her
regard for him to be counted as nothing? What right had he to expect
that she should be different from any other girl?

Then he was more miserable than ever, as he told himself that such would
undoubtedly be her conduct. As he walked across the fields, heavy with
the mud of a wet October day, there came down a storm of rain which wet
him through. Who does not know the sort of sensation which falls upon a
man when he feels that even the elements have turned against him,--how he
buttons up his coat and bids the clouds open themselves upon his devoted
bosom?

  "Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage, blow,
  You cataracts and hurricanes!"

It is thus that a man is apt to address the soft rains of heaven when he
is becoming wet through in such a frame of mind; and on the present
occasion Harry likened himself to Leer. It was to him as though the
steeples were to be drenched and the cocks drowned when he found himself
wet through. In this condition he went back to the house, and so bitter
to him were the misfortunes of the world that he would hardly condescend
to speak while enduring them. But when he had entered the drawing-room
his mother greeted him with a letter. It had come by the day mail, and
his mother looked into his face piteously as she gave it to him. The
letter was from Brussels, and she could guess from whom it had come. It
might be a sweetly soft love-letter; but then it might be neither sweet
nor soft, in the condition of things in which Harry was now placed. He
took it and looked at it, but did not dare to open it on the spur of the
moment. Without a word he went up to his room, and then tore it asunder.
No doubt, he said to himself, it would allude to his miserable stipend
and penniless condition. The letter ran as follows:

"DEAREST HARRY,--I think it right to write to you, though mamma does not
approve of it. I have told her, however, that in the present
circumstances I am bound to do so, and that I should implore you not to
answer. Though I must write, there must be no correspondence between us.
Rumors have been received here very detrimental to your character."
Harry gnashed his teeth as he read this. "Stories are told about your
meeting with Captain Scarborough in London, which I know to be only in
part true. Mamma says that because of them I ought to give up my
engagement, and my uncle, Sir Magnus, has taken upon himself to advise
me to do so. I have told them both that that which is said of you is in
part untrue; but whether it be true or whether it be false, I will never
give up my engagement unless you ask me to do so. They tell me that as
regards your pecuniary prospects you are ruined. I say that you cannot
be ruined as long as you have my income. It will not be much, but it
will, I should think, be enough.

"And now you can do as you please. You may be quite sure that I shall be
true to you, through ill report and good report. Nothing that mamma can
say to me will change me, and certainly nothing from Sir Magnus.

"And now there need not be a word from you, if you mean to be true to
me. Indeed, I have promised that there shall be no word, and I expect
you to keep my promise for me. If you wish to be free of me, then you
must write and say so.

"But you won't wish it, and therefore I am yours, always, always, always
your own

"FLORENCE."

Harry read the letter standing up in the middle of the room, and in half
a minute he had torn off his wet coat and kicked one of his wet boots to
the farther corner of the room. Then there was a knock at the door, and
his mother entered, "Tell me, Harry, what she says."

He rushed up to his mother, all damp and half-shod as he was, and seized
her in his arms. "Oh, mother, mother!"

"What is it, dear?"

"Read that, and tell me whether there ever was a finer human being!"
Mrs. Annesley did read it, and thought that her own daughter Molly was
just as fine a creature. Florence was simply doing what any girl of
spirit would do. But she saw that her son was as jubilant now as he had
been downcast, and she was quite willing to partake of his comfort. "Not
write a word to her! Ha, ha! I think I see myself at it!"

"But she seems to be in earnest there."

"In earnest! And so am I in earnest. Would it be possible that a fellow
should hold his hand and not write? Yes, my girl; I think that I must
write a line. I wonder what she would say if I were not to write?"

"I think she means that you should be silent."

"She has taken a very odd way of assuming it. I am to keep her promise
for her,--my darling, my angel, my life! But I cannot do that one thing.
Oh, mother, mother, if you knew how happy I am! What the mischief does
it all signify,--Uncle Prosper, Miss Thoroughbung, and the rest of
it,--with a girl like that?"



CHAPTER XXV.

HARRY AND HIS UNCLE.


Harry was kissed all round by the girls, and was congratulated warmly on
the heavenly excellence of his mistress. They could afford to be
generous if he would be good-natured. "Of course you must write to her,"
said Molly, when he came down-stairs with dry clothes.

"I should think so, mother."

"Only she does seem to be so much in earnest about it," said Mrs.
Annesley.

"I think she would rather get just a line to say that he is in earnest
too," said Fanny.

"Why should not she like a love-letter as much as any one else?" said
Kate, who had her own ideas. "Of course she has to tell him about her
mamma, but what need he care for that? Of course mamma thinks that
Joshua need not write to Molly, but Molly won't mind."

"I don't think anything of the kind, miss."

"And besides, Joshua lives in the next parish," said Fanny, "and has a
horse to ride over on if he has anything to say."

"At any rate, I shall write," said Harry, "even at the risk of making
her angry." And he did write as follows:

"BUSTON, _October_, 188--.

"MY OWN DEAR GIRL,--It is impossible that I should not send one line in
answer. Put yourself in my place, and consult your own feelings. Think
that you have a letter so full of love, so noble, so true, so certain to
fill you with joy, and then say whether you would let it pass without a
word of acknowledgment. It would be absolutely impossible. It is not
very probable that I should ask you to break your engagement, which in
the midst of my troubles is the only consolation I have. But when a man
has a rock to stand upon like that, he does not want anything else. As
long as a man has the one person necessary to his happiness to believe
in him, he can put up with the ill opinion of all the others. You are to
me so much that you outweigh all the world.

"I did not choose to have my secret pumped out of me by Augustus
Scarborough. I can tell you the whole truth now. Mountjoy Scarborough
had told me that he regarded you as affianced to him, and required me to
say that I would--drop you. You know now how probable that was. He was
drunk on the occasion,--had made himself purposely drunk, so as to get
over all scruples,--and attacked me with his stick. Then came a
scrimmage, in which he was upset. A sober man has always the best of
it." I am afraid that Harry put in that little word sober for a purpose.
The opportunity of declaring that he was sober was too good too be lost.
"I went away and left him, certainly not dead, nor apparently much hurt.
But if I told all this to Augustus Scarborough, your name must have come
out. Now I should not mind. Now I might tell the truth about you,--with
great pride, if occasion required it. But I couldn't do it then. What
would the world have said to two men fighting in the streets about a
girl, neither of whom had a right to fight about her? That was the
reason why I told an untruth,--because I did not choose to fall into the
trap which Augustus Scarborough had laid for me.

"If your mother will understand it all, I do not think she will object
to me on that score. If she does quarrel with me, she will only be
fighting the Scarborough game, in which I am bound to oppose her. I am
afraid the fact is that she prefers the Scarborough game,--not because
of my sins, but from auld lang syne.

"But Augustus has got hold of my Uncle Prosper, and has done me a
terrible injury. My uncle is a weak man, and has been predisposed
against me from other circumstances. He thinks that I have neglected
him, and is willing to believe anything against me. He has stopped my
income,--two hundred and fifty pounds a year,--and is going to revenge
himself on me by marrying a wife. It is too absurd, and the proposed
wife is aunt of the man whom my sister is going to marry. It makes such
a heap of confusion. Of course, if he becomes the father of a family I
shall be nowhere. Had I not better take to some profession? Only what
shall I take to? It is almost too late for the Bar. I must see you and
talk over it all.

"You have commanded me not to write, and now there is a long letter! It
is as well to be hung for a sheep as a lamb. But when a man's character
is at stake he feels that he must plead for it. You won't be angry with
me because I have not done all that you told me? It was absolutely
necessary that I should tell you that I did not mean to ask you to break
your engagement, and one word has led to all the others. There shall be
only one other, which means more than all the rest:--that I am yours,
dearest, with all my heart,

"HARRY ANNESLEY."

"There," he said to himself, as he put the letter into the envelope,
"she may think it too long, but I am sure she would not have been
pleased had I not written at all."

That afternoon Joshua was at the rectory, having just trotted over after
business hours at the brewery because of some special word which had to
be whispered to Molly, and Harry put himself in his way as he went out
to get on his horse in the stable-yard. "Joshua," he said, "I know that
I owe you an apology."

"What for?"

"You have been awfully good to me about the horses, and I have been very
ungracious."

"Not at all."

"But I have. The truth is, I have been made thoroughly miserable by
circumstances, and, when that occurs, a man cannot pick himself up all
at once. It isn't my uncle that has made me wretched. That is a kind of
thing that a man has to put up with, and I think that I can bear it as
well as another. But an attack has been made upon me which has wounded
me."

"I know all about it."

"I don't mind telling you, as you and Molly are going to hit it off
together. There is a girl I love, and they have tried to interfere with
her."

"They haven't succeeded?"

"No, by George! And now I'm as right as a trivet. When it came across me
that she might have--might have yielded, you know,--it was as though all
had been over. I ought not to have suspected her."

"But she's all right?"

"Indeed she is. I think you'll like her when you see her some day. If
you don't, you have the most extraordinary taste I ever knew a man to
possess. How about the horse?"

"I have four, you know."

"What a grand thing it is to be a brewer!"

"And there are two of them will carry you. The other two are not quite
up to your weight."

"You haven't been out yet?"

"Well, no;--not exactly out. The governor is the best fellow in the
world, but he draws the line at cub-hunting. He says the business should
be the business till November. Upon my word, I think he's right."

"And how many days a week after that?"

"Well, three regular. I do get an odd day with the Essex sometimes, and
the governor winks."

"The governor hunts himself as often as you."

"Oh dear no; three a week does for the governor, and he is beginning to
like frosty weather, and to hear with pleasure that one of the old
horses isn't as fit as he should be. He's what they call training off.
Good-bye, old fellow. Mind you come out on the 7th of November."

But Harry, though he had been made happy by the letter from Florence,
had still a great many troubles on his mind. His first trouble was the
having to do something in reference to his uncle. It did not appear to
him to be proper to accept his uncle's decision in regard to his income,
without, at any rate, attempting to see Mr. Prosper. It would be as
though he had taken what was done as a matter of course,--as though his
uncle could stop the income without leaving him any ground of complaint.
Of the intended marriage,--if it were intended,--he would say nothing. His
uncle had never promised him in so many words not to marry, and there
would be, he thought, something ignoble in his asking his uncle not to
do that which he intended to do himself without even consulting his
uncle about it. As he turned it all over in his mind he began to ask
himself why his uncle should be asked to do anything for him, whereas he
had never done anything for his uncle. He had been told that he was the
heir, not to the uncle, but to Buston, and had gradually been taught to
look upon Buston as his right,--as though he had a certain defeasible
property in the acres. He now began to perceive that there was no such
thing. A tacit contract had been made on his behalf, and he had declined
to accept his share of the contract. But he had been debarred from
following any profession by his uncle's promised allowance. He did not
think that he could complain to his uncle about the proposed marriage;
but he did think that he could ask a question or two as to the income.

Without saying a word to any of his own family he walked across the
park, and presented himself at the front-door of Buston Hall. In doing
so he would not go upon the grass. He had told his father that he would
not enter the park, and therefore kept himself to the road. And he had
dressed himself with some little care, as a man does when he feels that
he is going forth on some mission of importance. Had he intended to call
on old Mr. Thoroughbung there would have been no such care. And he rung
at the front-door, instead of entering the house by any of the numerous
side inlets with which he was well acquainted. The butler understood the
ring, and put on his company-coat when he answered the bell.

"Is my uncle at home, Matthew?" he said.

"Mr. Prosper, Mr. Harry? Well, no; I can't say that he just is;" and the
old man groaned, and wheezed, and looked unhappy.

"He is not often out at this time." Matthew groaned again, and wheezed
more deeply, and looked unhappier. "I suppose you mean to say that he
has given orders that I am not to be admitted?" To this the butler made
no answer, but only looked woefully into the young man's face. "What is
the meaning of it all, Matthew?"

"Oh, Mr. Harry, you shouldn't ask me, as is merely a servant."

Harry felt the truth of this rebuke, but was not going to put up with
it.

"That's all my eye, Matthew; you know all about it as well as any one.
It is so. He does not want to see me."

"I don't think he does, Mr. Harry."

"And why not? You know the whole of my family story as well as my
father does, or my uncle. Why does he shut his doors against me, and
send me word that he does not want to see me?"

"Well Mr. Harry, I'm not just able to say why he does it,--and you the
heir. But if I was asked I should make answer that it has come along of
them sermons." Then Matthew looked very serious, and bathed his head.

"I suppose so."

"That was it, Mr. Harry. We, none of us, were very fond of the sermons."

"I dare say not."

"We in the kitchen. But we was bound to have them, or we should have
lost our places."

"And now I must lose my place." The butler said nothing, but his face
assented. "A little hard, isn't it, Matthew? But I wish to say a few
words to my uncle,--not to express any regret about the sermons, but to
ask what it is that he intends to do." Here Matthew shook his head very
slowly. "He has given positive orders that I shall not be admitted?"

"It must be over my dead body, Mr. Harry," and he stood in the way with
the door in his hand, as though intending to sacrifice himself should he
be called upon to do so by the nature of the circumstances. Harry,
however, did not put him to the test; but bidding him good-bye with some
little joke as to his fidelity, made his way back to the parsonage.

That night before he went to bed he wrote a letter to his uncle, as to
which he said not a word to either his father, or mother, or sisters. He
thought that the letter was a good letter, and would have been proud to
show it; but he feared that either his father or mother would advise him
not to send it, and he was ashamed to read it to Molly. He therefore
sent the letter across the park the next morning by the gardener.

The letter was as follows:

"MY DEAR UNCLE,--My father has shown me your letter to him, and, of
course, I feel it incumbent on me to take some notice of it. Not wishing
to trouble you with a letter I called this morning, but I was told by
Matthew that you would not see me. As you have expressed yourself to my
father very severely as to my conduct, I am sure you will agree with me
that I ought not to let the matter pass by without making my own
defence.

"You say that there was a row in the streets between Mountjoy
Scarborough and myself in which he was 'left for dead.' When I left him
I did not think he had been much hurt, nor have I had reason to think so
since. He had attacked me, and I had simply defended myself. He had come
upon me by surprise; and, when I had shaken him off, I went away. Then
in a day or two he had disappeared. Had he been killed, or much hurt,
the world would have heard of it: but the world simply heard that he had
disappeared, which could hardly have been the case had he been much
hurt.

"Then you say that I denied, in conversation with Augustus Scarborough,
that I had seen his brother on the night in question. I did deny it.
Augustus Scarborough, who was evidently well acquainted with the whole
transaction, and who had, I believe, assisted his brother in
disappearing, wished to learn from me what I had done, and to hide what
he had done. He wished to saddle me with the disgrace of his brother's
departure, and I did not choose to fall into his trap. At the moment of
his asking me he knew that his brother was safe. I think that the word
'lie,' as used by you, is very severe for such an occurrence. A man is
not generally held to be bound to tell everything respecting himself to
the first person that shall ask him. If you will ask any man who knows
the world,--my father, for instance,--I think you will be told that such
conduct was not faulty.

"But it is at any rate necessary that I should ask you what you intend
to do in reference to my future life. I am told that you intend to stop
the income which I have hitherto received. Will this be considerate on
your part?" (In his first copy of the letter Harry had asked whether it
would be "fair," and had then changed the word for one that was milder.)
"When I took my degree you yourself said that it would not be necessary
that I should go into any profession, because you would allow me an
income, and would then provide for me, I took your advice in opposition
to my father's, because it seemed then that I was to depend on you
rather than on him. You cannot deny that I shall have been treated
hardly if I now be turned loose upon the world.

"I shall be happy to come and see you if you shall wish it, so as to
save you the trouble of writing to me.

"Your affectionate nephew,

"HENRY ANNESLEY."

Harry might have been sure that his uncle would not see him,--probably
was sure when he added the last paragraph. Mr. Prosper enjoyed greatly
two things,--the mysticism of being invisible and the opportunity of
writing a letter. Mr. Prosper had not a large correspondence, but it was
laborious, and, as he thought, effective. He believed that he did know
how to write a letter, and he went about it with a will. It was not
probable that he would make himself common by seeing his nephew on such
an occasion, or that he would omit the opportunity of spending an entire
morning with pen and ink. The result was very short, but, to his idea,
it was satisfactory.

"SIR," he began. He considered this matter very deeply; but as the
entire future of his own life was concerned in it he felt that it became
him to be both grave and severe.

"I have received your letter and have read it with attention. I observe
that you admit that you told Mr. Augustus Scarborough a deliberate
untruth. This is what the plain-speaking world, when it wishes to be
understood as using the unadorned English language, which is always the
language which I prefer myself, calls a lie--A LIE! I do not choose that
this humble property shall fall at my death into the hands of A LIAR.
Therefore I shall take steps to prevent it,--which may or may not be
successful.

"As such steps, whatever may be their result, are to be taken, the
income,--intended to prepare you for another alternative, which may
possibly not now be forth-coming,--will naturally now be no longer
allowed.--I am, sir, your obedient servant, PETER PROSPER."

The first effect of the letter was to produce laughter at the rectory.
Harry could not but show it to his father, and in an hour or two it
became known to his mother and sister, and, under an oath of secrecy, to
Joshua Thoroughbung. It could not be matter of laughter when the future
hopes of Miss Matilda Thoroughbung were taken into consideration. "I
declare I don't know what you are all laughing about," said Kate,
"except that Uncle Peter does use such comical phrases." But Mrs.
Annesley, though the most good-hearted woman in the world, was almost
angry. "I don't know what you all see to laugh at in it. Peter has in
his hands the power of making or marring Harry's future."

"But he hasn't," said Harry.

"Or he mayn't have," said the rector.

"It's all in the hands of the Almighty," said Mrs. Annesley, who felt
herself bound to retire from the room and to take her daughter with her.

But, when they were alone, both the father and his son were very angry.
"I have done with him forever," said Harry. "Let come what may, I will
never see him or speak to him again. A 'lie,' and 'liar!' He has written
those words in that way so as to salve his own conscience for the
injustice he is doing. He knows that I am not a liar. He cannot
understand what a liar means, or he would know that he is one himself."

"A man seldom has such knowledge as that."

"Is it not so when he stigmatizes me in this way merely as an excuse to
himself? He wants to be rid of me,--probably because I did not sit and
hear him read the sermons. Let that pass. I may have been wrong in that,
and he may be justified; but because of that he cannot believe really
that I have been a liar,--a liar in such a determined way as to make me
unfit to be his heir."

"He is a fool, Harry! That is the worst of him."

"I don't think it is the worst."

"You cannot have worse. It is dreadful to have to depend on a fool,--to
have to trust to a man who cannot tell wrong from right. Your uncle
intends to be a good man. If it were brought home to him that he were
doing a wrong he would not do it. He would not rob; he would not steal;
he must not commit murder, and the rest of it. But he is a fool, and he
does not know when he is doing these things."

"I will wash my hands of him."

"Yes; and he will wash his hands of you. You do not know him as I do. He
has taken it into his silly head that you are the chief of sinners
because you said what was not true to that man, who seems really to be
the sinner, and nothing will eradicate the idea. He will go and marry
that woman because he thinks that in that way he can best carry his
purpose, and then he will repent at leisure. I used to tell you that you
had better listen to the sermons."

"And now I must pay for it!"

"Well, my boy, it is no good crying for spilt milk. As I was saying just
now, there is nothing worse than a fool."



CHAPTER XXVI.

MARMADUKE LODGE.


On the 7th of next month two things occurred, each of great importance.
Hunting commenced in the Puckeridge country, and Harry with that famous
mare Belladonna was there. And Squire Prosper was driven in his carriage
into Buntingford, and made his offer with all due formality to Miss
Thoroughbung. The whole household, including Matthew, and the cook, and
the coachman, and the boy, and the two house-maids, knew what he was
going to do. It would be difficult to say how they knew, because he was
a man who never told anything. He was the last man in England who, on
such a matter, would have made a confidant of his butler. He never spoke
to a servant about matters unconnected with their service. He considered
that to do so would be altogether against his dignity. Nevertheless when
he ordered his carriage, which he did not do very frequently at this
time of the year, when the horses were wanted on the farm,--and of which
he gave twenty-four hours' notice to all the persons concerned,--and when
early in the morning he ordered that his Sunday suit should be prepared
for wearing, and when his aspect grew more and more serious as the hour
drew nigh, it was well understood by them all that he was going to make
the offer that day.

He was both proud and fearful as to the thing to be done,--proud that he,
the Squire of Buston, should be called on to take so important a step;
proud by anticipation of his feelings as he would return home a jolly
thriving wooer,--and yet a little fearful lest he might not succeed. Were
he to fail the failure would be horrible to him. He knew that every man
and woman about the place would know all about it. Among the secrets of
the family there was a story, never now mentioned, of his having done
the same thing, once before. He was then a young man, about twenty-five,
and he had come forth to lay himself and Buston at the feet of a
baronet's daughter who lived some twenty-five miles off. She was very
beautiful, and was said to have a fitting dower, but he had come back,
and had shut himself up in the house for a week afterward. To no human
ears had he ever since spoken of his interview with Miss Courteney. The
doings of that day had been wrapped in impenetrable darkness. But all
Buston and the neighboring parishes had known that Miss Courteney had
refused him. Since that day he had never gone forth again on such a
mission.

There were those who said of him that his love had been so deep and
enduring that he had never got the better of it. Miss Courteney had been
married to a much grander lover, and had been taken off to splendid
circles. But he had never mentioned her name. That story of his abiding
love was throughly believed by his sister, who used to tell it of him to
his credit when at the rectory the rector would declare him to be a
fool. But the rector used to say that he was dumb from pride, or that he
could not bear to have it known that he had failed at anything. At any
rate, he had never again attempted love, and had formally declared to
his sister that, as he did not intend to marry, Harry should be regarded
as his son. Then at last had come the fellowship, and he had been proud
of his heir, thinking that in some way he had won the fellowship
himself, as he had paid the bills. But now all was altered, and he was
to go forth to his wooing again.

There had been a rumor about the country that he was already accepted;
but such was not the case. He had fluttered about Buntingford, thinking
of it: but he had never put the question. To his thinking it would not
have been becoming to do so without some ceremony. Buston was not to be
made away during the turnings of a quadrille or as a part of an ordinary
conversation. It was not probable,--nay, it was impossible,--that he
should mention the subject to any one; but still he must visibly prepare
for it, and I think that he was aware that the world around him knew
what he was about.

And the Thoroughbung's knew, and Miss Matilda Thoroughbung knew well.
All Buntingford knew. In those old days in which he had sought the hand
of the baronet's daughter, the baronet's daughter, and the baronet's
wife, and the baronet himself, had known what was coming, though Mr.
Prosper thought that the secret dwelt alone in his own bosom. Nor did he
dream now that Harry and Harry's father, and Harry's mother and sisters,
had all laughed at the conspicuous gravity of his threat. It was the
general feeling on the subject which made the rumor current that the
deed had been done. But when he came down-stairs with one new gray
kid-glove on, and the other dangling in his hand, nothing had been done.

"Drive to Buntingford," said the squire.

"Yes, sir," said Matthew, the door of the carriage in his hand.

"To Marmaduke Lodge."

"Yes, sir." Then Matthew told the coachman, who had heard the
instructions very plainly, and knew them before he had heard them. The
squire threw himself back in the carriage, and applied himself to
wondering how he should do the deed. He had, in truth, barely studied
the words,--but not, finally, the manner of delivering them. With his
bare hand up to his eyes so that he might hold the glove unsoiled in the
other, he devoted his intellect to the task; nor did he withdraw his
hand till the carriage turned in at the gate. The drive up to the door
of Marmaduke Lodge was very short, and he had barely time to arrange his
waistcoat and his whiskers before the carriage stood still. He was soon
told that Miss Thoroughbung was at home, and within a moment he found
himself absolutely standing on the carpet in her presence.

Report had dealt unkindly with Miss Thoroughbung in the matter of her
age. Report always does deal unkindly with unmarried young women who
have ceased to be girls. There is an idea that they will wish to make
themselves out to be younger than they are, and therefore report always
makes them older. She had been called forty-five, and even fifty. Her
exact age at this moment was forty-two, and as Mr. Prosper was only
fifty there was no discrepancy in the marriage. He would have been
young-looking for his age, but for an air of ancient dandyism which had
grown upon him. He was somewhat dry, too, and skinny, with high
cheekbones and large dull eyes. But he was clean, and grave, and
orderly,--a man promising well to a lady on the lookout for a husband.
Miss Thoroughbung was fat, fair, and forty to the letter, and she had a
just measure of her own good looks, of which she was not unconscious.
But she was specially conscious of twenty-five thousand pounds, the
possession of which had hitherto stood in the way of her search after a
husband. It was said commonly about Buntingford that she looked too
high, seeing that she was only a Thoroughbung and had no more than
twenty-five thousand pounds.

But Miss Tickle was in the room, and might have been said to be in the
way, were it not that a little temporary relief was felt by Mr. Prosper
to be a comfort. Miss Tickle was at any rate twenty years older than
Miss Thoroughbung, and was of all slaves at the same time the humblest
and the most irritating. She never asked for anything, but was always
painting the picture of her own deserts. "I hope I have the pleasure of
seeing Miss Tickle quite well," said the squire, as soon as he had paid
his first compliments to the lady of his love.

"Thank you, Mr. Prosper, pretty well. My anxiety is all for Matilda."
Matilda had been Matilda to her since she had been a little girl, and
Miss Tickle was not going now to drop the advantage which the old
intimacy gave her.

"I trust there is no cause for it."

"Well, I'm not so sure. She coughed a little last night, and would not
eat her supper. We always do have a little supper. A despatched crab it
was; and when she would not eat it I knew there was something wrong."

"Nonsense! what a fuss you make. Well, Mr. Prosper, have you seen your
nephew yet?"

"No, Miss Thoroughbung; nor do I intend to see him. The young man has
disgraced himself."

"Dear, dear; how sad!"

"Young men do disgrace themselves, I fear, very often," said Miss
Tickle.

"We won't talk about it, if you please, because it is a family affair."

"Oh no," said Miss Thoroughbung.

"At least, not as yet. It may be;--but never mind, I would not wish to be
premature in anything."

"I am always telling Matilda so. She is so impulsive. But as you may
have matters of business, Mr. Prosper, on which to speak to Miss
Thoroughbung, I will retire."

"It is very thoughtful on your part, Miss Tickle."

Then Miss Tickle retired; from which it may be surmised that the
probable circumstances of the interview had been already discussed
between the ladies. Mr. Prosper drew a long breath, and sighed audibly,
as soon as he was alone with the object of his affections. He wondered
whether men were ever bright and jolly in such circumstances. He sighed
again, and then he began: "Miss Thoroughbung!"

"Mr. Prosper!"

All the prepared words had flown from his memory. He could not even
bethink himself how he ought to begin. And, unfortunately, so much must
depend upon manner! But the property was unembarrassed, and Miss
Thoroughbung thought it probable that she might be allowed to do what
she would with her own money. She had turned it all over to the right
and to the left, and she was quite minded to accept him. With this view
she had told Miss Tickle to leave the room, and she now felt that she
was bound to give the gentleman what help might be in her power. "Oh,
Miss Thoroughbung!" he said.

"Mr. Prosper, you and I are such good friends, that--that--that--"

"Yes, indeed. You can have no more true friend than I am,--not even Miss
Tickle."

"Oh, bother Miss Tickle! Miss Tickle is very well."

"Exactly so. Miss Tickle is very well; a most estimable person."

"We'll leave her alone just at present."

"Yes, certainly. We had better leave her alone in our present
conversation. Not but what I have a strong regard for her." Mr. Prosper
had surely not thought of the opening he might be giving as to a future
career for Miss Tickle by such an assertion.

"So have I, for the matter of that, but we'll drop her just now." Then
she paused, but he paused also. "You have come over to Buntingford
to-day probably in order that you might congratulate them at the brewery
on the marriage with one of your family." Then Mr. Prosper frowned, but
she did not care for his frowning. "It will not be a bad match for the
young lady, as Joshua is fairly steady, and the brewery is worth money."

"I could have wished him a better brother-in-law," said the lover, who
was taken away from the consideration of his love by the allusion to the
Annesleys. He had thought of all that, and in the dearth of fitting
objects of affection had resolved to endure the drawback of the
connection. But it had for a while weighed very seriously with him, so
that had the twenty-five thousand pounds been twenty thousand pounds, he
might have taken himself to Miss Puffle, who lived near Saffron Walden
and who would own Snickham Manor when her father died. The property was
said to be involved, and Miss Puffle was certainly forty-eight. As an
heir was the great desideratum, he had resolved that Matilda Thoroughbung
should be the lady, in spite of the evils attending the new connection.
He did feel that in throwing over Harry he would have to abandon all the
Annesleys, and to draw a line between himself with Miss Thoroughbung and
the whole family of the Thoroughbungs generally.

"You mustn't be too bitter against poor Molly," said Miss Thoroughbung.

Mr. Prosper did not like to be called bitter, and, in spite of the
importance of the occasion, could not but show that he did not like it.
"I don't think that we need talk about it."

"Oh dear no. Kate and Miss Tickle need neither of them be talked
about." Mr. Prosper disliked all familiarity, and especially that of
being laughed at, but Miss Thoroughbung did laugh. So he drew himself
up, and dangled his glove more slowly than before. "Then you were not
going on to congratulate them at the brewery?"

"Certainly not."

"I did not know."

"My purpose carries me no farther than Marmaduke Lodge. I have no desire
to see any one to-day besides Miss Thoroughbung."

"That is a compliment."

Then his memory suddenly brought back to him one of his composed
sentences. "In beholding Miss Thoroughbung I behold her on whom I hope I
may depend for all the future happiness of my life." He did feel that it
had come in the right place. It had been intended to be said immediately
after her acceptance of him. But it did very well where it was. It
expressed, as he assured himself, the feelings of his heart, and must
draw from her some declaration of hers.

"Goodness gracious me, Mr. Prosper!"

This sort of coyness was to have been expected, and he therefore
continued with another portion of his prepared words, which now came
glibly enough to him. But it was a previous portion. It was all the same
to Miss Thoroughbung, as it declared plainly the gentleman's intention.
"If I can induce you to listen to me favorably, I shall say of myself
that I am the happiest gentleman in Hertfordshire."

"Oh, Mr. Prosper!"

"My purpose is to lay at your feet my hand, my heart, and the lands of
Buston." Here he was again going backward, but it did not much matter
now in what sequence the words were said. The offer had been thoroughly
completed and was thoroughly understood.

"A lady, Mr. Prosper, has to think of these things," said Miss
Thoroughbung.

"Of course I would not wish to hurry you prematurely to any declaration
of your affections."

"But there are other considerations, Mr. Prosper. You know about my
property?"

"Nothing particularly. It has not been a matter of consideration with
me." This he said with some slight air of offence. He was a gentleman,
whereas Miss Thoroughbung was hardly a lady. Matter of consideration her
money of course had been. How should he not consider it? But he was
aware that he ought not to rush on that subject, but should leave it to
the arrangement of lawyers, expressing his own views through her own
lawyer. To her it was the thing of most importance, and she had no
feelings which induced her to be silent on a matter so near to her. She
rushed.

"But it has to be considered, Mr. Prosper. It is all my own, and comes
to very nearly one thousand a year. I think it is nine hundred and
seventy-two pounds six shillings and eightpence. Of course, when there
is so much money it would have to be tied up somehow." Mr. Prosper was
undoubtedly disgusted, and if he could have receded at this moment would
have transferred his affections to Miss Puffle. "Of course you
understand that."

She had not accepted him as yet, nor said a word of her regard for him.
All that went, it seemed, as a matter of no importance whatever. He had
been standing for the last few minutes, and now he remained standing and
looking at her. They were both silent, so that he was obliged to speak.
"I understand that between a lady and gentleman so circumstanced there
should be a settlement."

"Just so."

"I also have some property," said Mr. Prosper, with a touch of pride in
his tone.

"Of course you have. Goodness gracious me! Why else would you come? You
have got Buston, which I suppose is two thousand a year. At any rate it
has that name. But it isn't your own."

"Not my own?"

"Well, no. You couldn't leave it to your widow, so that she might give
it to any one she pleased when you were gone." Here the gentleman
frowned very darkly, and thought that after all Miss Puffle would be the
woman for him. "All that has to be considered, and it makes Buston not
exactly your own. If I were to have a daughter she wouldn't have it."

"No, not a daughter," said Mr. Prosper, still wondering at the thorough
knowledge of the business in hand displayed by the lady.

"Oh, if it were to be a son, that would be all right, and then my money
would go to the younger children, divided equally between the boys and
girls." Mr. Prosper shook his head as he found himself suddenly provided
with so plentiful and thriving a family. "That, I suppose, would be the
way of the settlement, together with a certain income out of Buston set
apart for my use. It ought to be considered that I should have to
provide a house to live in. This belongs to my brother, and I pay him
forty pounds a year for it. It should be something better than this."

"My dear Miss Thoroughbung, the lawyer would do all that." There did
come upon him an idea that she, with her aptitude for business, would
not be altogether a bad helpmate.

"The lawyers are very well; but in a transaction of this kind there is
nothing like the principals understanding each other. Young women are
always robbed when their money is left altogether to the gentlemen."

"Robbed!"

"Don't suppose I mean you, Mr. Prosper; and the robbery I mean is not
considered disgraceful at all. The gentlemen I mean are the fathers and
the brothers, and the uncles and the lawyers. And they intend to do
right after the custom of their fathers and uncles. But woman's rights
are coming up."

"I hate woman's rights."

"Nevertheless they are coming up. A young woman doesn't get taken in as
she used to do. I don't mean any offence, you know." This was said in
reply to Mr. Prosper's repeated frown. "Since woman's rights have come
up a young woman is better able to fight her own battle."

Mr. Prosper was willing to admit that Miss Thoroughbung was fair, but
she was fat also, and at least forty. There was hardly need that she
should refer so often to her own unprotected youth. "I should like to
have the spending of my own income, Mr. Prosper;--that's a fact."

"Oh, indeed!"

"Yes, I should. I shouldn't care to have to go to my husband if I wanted
to buy a pair of stockings."

"An allowance, I should say."

"And that should be my own income."

"Nothing to go to the house?"

"Oh yes. There might be certain things which I might agree to pay for. A
pair of ponies I should like."

"I always keep a carriage and a pair of horses."

"But the ponies would be my lookout. I shouldn't mind paying for my own
maid, and the champagne, and my clothes, of course, and the
fish-monger's bill. There would be Miss Tickle, too. You said you would
like Miss Tickle. I should have to pay for her. That would be about
enough, I think."

Mr. Prosper was thoroughly disgusted; but when he left Marmaduke Lodge
he had not said a word as to withdrawing from his offer. She declared
that she would put her terms into writing and give them to her lawyer,
who would communicate with Mr. Grey.

Mr. Prosper was surprised to find that she knew the name of his lawyer,
who was in truth our old friend. And then, while he was still
hesitating, she astounded,--nay, shocked him by her mode of ending the
conference. She got up and, throwing her arms round his neck, kissed him
most affectionately. After that there was no retreating for Mr.
Prosper,--no immediate mode of retreat, at all events. He could only back
out of the room, and get into his carriage, and be carried home as
quickly as possible.



CHAPTER XXVII.

THE PROPOSAL.


It had never happened to him before. The first thought that came upon
Mr. Prosper, when he got into his carriage, was that it had never
occurred to him before. He did not reflect that he had not put himself
in the way of it: but now the strangeness of the sensation overwhelmed
him. He inquired of himself whether it was pleasant, but he found
himself compelled to answer the question with a negative. It should have
come from him, but not yet; not yet, probably, for some weeks. But it
had been done, and by the doing of it she had sealed him utterly as her
own. There was no getting out of it now. He did feel that he ought not
to attempt to get out of it after what had taken place. He was not sure
but that the lady had planned it all with that purpose; but he was sure
that a strong foundation had been laid for a breach of promise case if
he were to attempt to escape. What might not a jury do against him,
giving damages out of the acres of Buston Hall? And then Miss
Thoroughbung would go over to the other Thoroughbungs and to the
Annesleys, and his condition would become intolerable. In some moments,
as he was driven home, he was not sure but that it had all been got up
as a plot against him by the Annesleys.

When he got out of his carriage Matthew knew that things had gone badly
with his master; but he could not conjecture in what way. The matter had
been fully debated in the kitchen, and it had been there decided that
Miss Thoroughbung was certainly to be brought home as the future
mistress of Buston. The step to be taken by their master was not
popular in the Buston kitchen. It had been there considered that Master
Harry was to be the future master, and, by some perversity of intellect,
they had all thought that this would occur soon. Matthew was much older
than the squire, who was hardly to be called a sickly man, and yet
Matthew had made up his mind that Mr. Harry was to reign over him as
Squire of Buston. When, therefore, the tidings came that Miss
Thoroughbung was to brought to Buston as the mistress, there had been
some slight symptoms of rebellion. "They didn't want any 'Tilda
Thoroughbung there." They had their own idea of a lady and a gentleman,
which, as in all such cases, was perfectly correct. They knew the squire
to be a fool, but they believed him to be a gentleman. They heard that
Miss Thoroughbung was a clever woman, but they did not believe her to be
a lady. Matthew had said a few words to the cook as to a public-house at
Stevenage. She had told him not to be an old fool, and that he would
lose his money, but she had thought of the public-house. There had been
a mutinous feeling. Matthew helped his master out of the carriage, and
then came a revulsion. That "froth of a beer-barrel," as Matthew had
dared to call her, had absolutely refused his master.

Mr. Prosper went into the house very meditative, and sad at heart. It
was a matter almost of regret to him that it had not been as Matthew
supposed. But he was caught and bound, and must make the best of it. He
thought of all the particulars of her proposed mode of living, and
recapitulated them to himself. A pair of ponies, her own maid,
champagne, the fish-monger's bill, and Miss Tickle. Miss Puffle would
certainly not have required such expensive luxuries. Champagne and the
fish would require company for their final consumption.

The ponies assumed a tone of being quite opposed to that which he had
contemplated. He questioned with himself whether he would like Miss
Tickle as a perpetual inmate. He had, in sheer civility, expressed a
liking for Miss Tickle, but what need could there be to a married woman
of a Miss Tickle? And then he thought of the education of the five or
six children which she had almost promised him! He had suggested to
himself simply an heir,--just one heir,--so that the nefarious Harry might
be cut out. He already saw that he would not be enriched to the extent
of a shilling by the lady's income. Then there would be all the trouble
and the disgrace of a separate purse. He felt that there would be
disgrace in having the fish and champagne, which were consumed in his
own house,--paid for by his wife without reference to him. What if the
lady had a partiality for champagne? He knew nothing about it, and would
know nothing about it, except when he saw it in her heightened color.
Despatched crabs for supper! He always went to bed at ten, and had a
tumbler of barley-water brought to him,--a glass of barley-water with
just a squeeze of lemon-juice.

He saw ruin before him. No doubt she was a good manager, but she would
be a good manager for herself. Would it not be better for him to stand
the action for breach of promise, and betake himself to Miss Puffle? But
Miss Puffle was fifty, and there could be no doubt that the lady ought
to be younger than the gentleman. He was much distressed in mind. If he
broke off with Miss Thoroughbung, ought he to do so at once, before she
had had time to put the matter into the hands of the lawyer? And on what
plea should he do it? Before he went to bed that night he did draw out a
portion of a letter, which, however, was never sent:

"MY DEAR MISS THOROUGHBUNG,--In the views which we both promulgated this
morning I fear that there was some essential misunderstanding as to the
mode of life which had occurred to both of us. You, as was so natural at
your age, and with your charms, have not been slow to anticipate a
coming period of uncheckered delights. Your allusion to a pony-carriage,
and other incidental allusions,"--he did not think it well to mention
more particularly the fish and the champagne,--"have made clear the sort
of future life which you have pictured to yourself. Heaven forbid that I
should take upon myself to find fault with anything so pleasant and so
innocent! But my prospects of life are different, and in seeking the
honor of an alliance with you I was looking for a quiet companion in my
declining years, and it might be also to a mother to a possible future
son. When you honored me with an unmistakable sign of your affection, on
my going, I was just about to explain all this. You must excuse me if my
mouth was then stopped by the mutual ardor of our feeling. I was about
to say--" But he had found it difficult to explain what he had been
about to say, and on the next morning, when the time for writing had
come, he heard news which detained him for the day, and then the
opportunity was gone.

On the following morning, when Matthew appeared at his bedside with his
cup of tea at nine o'clock, tidings were brought him. He took in the
Buntingford _Gazette_, which came twice a week, and as Matthew laid it,
opened and unread, in its accustomed place, he gave the information,
which he had no doubt gotten from the paper. "You haven't heard it, sir,
I suppose, as yet?"

"Heard what?"

"About Miss Puffle."

"What about Miss Puffle? I haven't heard a word. What about Miss
Puffle?" He had been thinking that moment of Miss Puffle,--of how she
would be superior to Miss Thoroughbung in many ways,--so that he sat up
in his bed, holding the untasted tea in his hand.

"She's gone off with young Farmer Tazlehurst."

"Miss Puffle gone off, and with her father's tenant's son!"

"Yes indeed, sir. She and her father have been quarrelling for the last
ten years, and now she's off. She was always riding and roistering about
the country with them dogs and them men; and now she's gone."

"Oh heavens!" exclaimed the squire, thinking of his own escape.

"Yes, indeed, sir. There's no knowing what any one of them is up to.
Unless they gets married afore they're thirty, or thirty-five at most,
they're most sure to get such ideas into their head as no one can mostly
approve." This had been intended by Matthew as a word of caution to his
master, but had really the opposite effect. He resolved at the moment
that the latter should not be said of Miss Thoroughbung.

And he turned Matthew out of the room with a flea in his ear. "How dare
you speak in that way of your betters? Mr. Puffle, the lady's father,
has for many years been my friend. I am not saying anything of the lady,
nor saying that she has done right. Of course, down-stairs, in the
servants' hall, you can say what you please; but up here, in my
presence, you should not speak in such language of a lady behind whose
chair you may be called upon to wait."

"Very well, sir; I won't no more," said Matthew, retiring with mock
humility. But he had shot his bolt, and he supposed successfully. He did
not know what had taken place between his master and Miss Thoroughbung;
but he did think that his speech might assist in preventing a repetition
of the offer.

Miss Puffle gone off with the tenant's son! The news made matrimony
doubly dangerous to him, and yet robbed him of the chief reason by
which he was to have been driven to send her a letter. He could not, at
any rate, now fall back upon Miss Puffle. And he thought that nothing
would have induced Miss Thoroughbung to go off with one of the carters
from the brewery. Whatever faults she might have, they did not lie in
that direction. Champagne and ponies were, as faults, less deleterious.

Miss Puffle gone off with young Tazlehurst,--a lady of fifty, with a
young man of twenty-five! and she the reputed heiress of Snickham Manor!
It was a comfort to him as he remembered that Snickham Manor had been
bought no longer ago than by the father of the present owner. The
Prospers been at Buston ever since the time of George the First. You
cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. He had been ever assuring
himself of that fact, which was now more of a fact than ever. And fifty
years old! It was quite shocking. With a steady middle-aged man like
himself, and with the approval of her family, marriage might have been
thought of. But this harum-scarum young tenant's son, who was in no
respect a gentleman, whose only thought was of galloping over hedges and
ditches, such an idea showed a state of mind which--well, absolutely
disgusted him. Mr. Prosper, because he had grown old himself, could not
endure to think that others, at his age, should retain a smack of their
youth. There are ladies besides Miss Puffle who like to ride across the
country with a young man before them, or perhaps following, and never
think much of their fifty years.

But the news certainly brought to him a great change of feelings, so
that the letter to which he had devoted the preceding afternoon was put
back into the letter-case, and was never finished. And his mind
immediately recurred to Miss Thoroughbung, and he bethought himself that
the objection which he felt was, perhaps, in part frivolous. At any
rate, she was a better woman than Miss Puffle. She certainly would run
after no farmer's son. Though she she might be fond of champagne, it
was, he thought, chiefly for other people. Though she was ambitious of
ponies, the ambition might be checked. At any rate, she could pay for
her own ponies, whereas Mr. Puffle was a very hale old man of seventy.
Puffle, he told himself, had married young, and might live for the next
ten years, or twenty. To Mr. Prosper, whose imagination did not fly far
afield, the world afforded at present but two ladies. These were Miss
Puffle and Miss Thoroughbung, and as Miss Puffle had fallen out of the
running, there seemed to be a walk-over for Miss Thoroughbung.

He did think, during the two or three days which passed without any
farther step on his part,--he did think how it might be were he to remain
unmarried. As regarded his own comfort, he was greatly tempted. Life
would remain so easy to him! But then duty demanded of him that he
should marry, and he was a man who, in honest, sober talk, thought much
of his duty. He was absurdly credulous, and as obstinate as a mule. But
he did wish to do what was right. He had been convinced that Harry
Annesley was a false knave, and had been made to swear an oath that
Harry should not be his heir. Harry had been draped in the blackest
colors, and to each daub of black something darker had been added by his
uncle's memory of those neglected sermons. It was now his first duty in
life to beget an heir, and for that purpose a wife must be had.

Putting aside the ponies and the champagne,--and the despatched crab, the
sound of which, as coming to him from Miss Tickle's mouth, was uglier
than the other sounds,--he still thought that Miss Thoroughbung would
answer his purpose. From her side there would not be making of a silk
purse; but then "the boy" would be his boy as well as hers, and would
probably take more after the father. He passed much of these days with
the "Peerage" in his hand, and satisfied himself that the best blood had
been maintained frequently by second-rate marriages. Health was a great
thing. Health in the mother was everything. Who could be more healthy
than Miss Thoroughbung? Then he thought of that warm embrace. Perhaps,
after all, it was right that she should embrace him after what he had
said to her.

Three days only had passed by, and he was still thinking what ought to
be his next step, when there came to him a letter from Messrs. Soames &
Simpson, attorneys in Buntingford. He had heard of Messrs. Soames &
Simpson, had been familiar with their names for the last twenty years,
but had never dreamed that his own private affairs should become a
matter of consultation in their office. Messrs. Grey & Barry, of
Lincoln's Inn, were his lawyers, who were quite gentlemen. He knew
nothing against Messrs. Soames & Simpson, but he thought that their work
consisted generally in the recovery of local debts. Messrs. Soames &
Simpson now wrote to him with full details as to his future life. Their
client Miss Thoroughbung, had communicated to them his offer of
marriage. They were acquainted with all the lady's circumstances, and
she had asked them for their advice. They had proposed to her that the
use of her own income should be by deed left to herself. Some proportion
of it should go into the house, and might be made matter of agreement.
They suggested that an annuity of a thousand pounds a year, in shape of
dower, should be secured to their client in the event of her outliving
Mr. Prosper. The estate should, of course, be settled on the eldest
child. The mother's property should be equally divided among the other
children. Buston Hall should be the residence of the widow till the
eldest son should be twenty-four, after which Mr. Prosper would no doubt
feel that their client would have to provide a home for herself. Messrs.
Soames & Simpson did not think that there was anything in this to which
Mr. Prosper would object, and if this were so, they would immediately
prepare the settlement. "That woman didn't say against it, after all,"
said Matthew to himself as he gave the letter from the lawyers to his
master.

The letter made Mr. Prosper very angry. It did, in truth, contain
nothing more than a repetition of the very terms which the lady had
herself suggested; but coming to him through these local lawyers it was
doubly distasteful. What was he to do? He felt it to be out of the
question to accede at once. Indeed, he had a strong repugnance to
putting himself into communication with the Buntingford lawyers. Had the
matter been other than it was, he would have gone to the rector for
advice. The rector generally advised him.

But that was out of the question now. He had seen his sister once since
his visit to Buntingford, but had said nothing to her about it. Indeed,
he had been anything but communicative, so that Mrs. Annesley had been
forced to leave him with a feeling almost of offense. There was no help
to be had in that quarter, and he could only write to Mr. Grey, and ask
that gentleman to assist him in his difficulties.

He did write to Mr. Grey, begging for his immediate attention. "There is
that fool Prosper going to marry a brewer's daughter down at
Buntingford," said Mr. Grey to his daughter.

"He's sixty years old."

"No, my love. He looks it, but he's only fifty. A man at fifty is
supposed to be young enough to marry. There's a nephew who has been
brought up as his heir; that's the hard part of it. And the nephew is
mixed up in some way with the Scarboroughs."

"Is it he who is to marry that young lady?"

"I think it is. And now there's some devil's play going on. I've got
nothing to do with it."

"But you will have."

"Not a turn. Mr. Prosper can marry if he likes it. They have sent him
most abominable proposals as to the lady's money; and as to her
jointure, I must stop that if I can, though I suppose he is not such a
fool as to give way."

"Is he soft?"

"Well, not exactly. He likes his own money. But he's a gentleman, and
wants nothing but what is or ought to be his own."

"There are but few like that now."

"It's true of him. But then he does not know what is his own, or what
ought to be. He's almost the biggest fool I have ever known, and will do
an injustice to that boy simply from ignorance." Then he drafted his
letter to Mr. Prosper, and gave it to Dolly to read. "That's what I
shall propose. The clerk can put it into proper language. He must offer
less than he means to give."

"Is that honest, father?"

"It's honest on my part, knowing the people with whom I have to deal. If
I were to lay down the strict minimum which he should grant, he would
add other things which would cause him to act not in accordance with my
advice. I have to make allowance for his folly,--a sort of windage, which
is not dishonest. Had he referred her lawyers to me I could have been as
hard and honest as you please." All which did not quite satisfy Dolly's
strict ideas of integrity.

But the terms proposed were that the lady's means should be divided so
that one-half should go to herself for her own personal expenses, and
the other half to her husband for the use of the house; that the lady
should put up with a jointure of two hundred and fifty pounds, which
ought to suffice when joined to her own property, and that the
settlement among the children should be as recommended by Messrs. Soames
& Simpson.

"And if there are not any children, papa?"

"Then each will receive his or her own property."

"Because it may be so."

"Certainly, my dear; very probably."



CHAPTER XXVIII.

MR. HARKAWAY.


When the first Monday in November came Harry was still living at the
rectory. Indeed, what other home had he in which to live? Other friends
had become shy of him besides his uncle. He had been accustomed to
receive many invitations. Young men who are the heirs to properties, and
are supposed to be rich because they are idle, do get themselves asked
about here and there, and think a great deal of themselves in
consequence. "There's young Jones. He is fairly good-looking, but hasn't
a word to say for himself. He will do to pair off with Miss Smith,
who'll talk for a dozen. He can't hit a hay-stack, but he's none the
worse for that. We haven't got too many pheasants. He'll be sure to come
when you ask him,--and he'll be sure to go."

So Jones is asked, and considers himself to be the most popular man in
London. I will not say that Harry's invitations had been of exactly that
description; but he too had considered himself to be popular, and now
greatly felt the withdrawal of such marks of friendship. He had received
one "put off"--from the Ingoldsbys of Kent. Early in June he had
promised to be there in November. The youngest Miss Ingoldsby was very
pretty, and he, no doubt, had been gracious. She knew that he had meant
nothing,--could have meant nothing. But he might come to mean something,
and had been most pressingly asked. In September there came a letter to
him to say that the room intended for him at Ingoldsby had been burnt
down. Mrs. Ingoldsby was so extremely sorry, and so were the "girls!"
Harry could trace it all up. The Ingoldsbys knew the Greens, and Mrs.
Green was Sister to Septimus Jones, who was absolutely the slave,--the
slave, as Harry said, repeating the word to himself with emphasis,--of
Augustus Scarborough. He was very unhappy, not that he cared in the
least for any Miss Ingoldsby, but that he began to be conscious that he
was to be dropped.

He was to be taken up, on the other hand, by Joshua Thoroughbung. Alas!
alas! though he smiled and resolved to accept his brother-in-law with a
good heart, this did not in the least salve the wound. His own county
was to him less than other counties, and his own neighborhood less than
other neighborhoods. Buntingford was full of Thoroughbungs, the best
people in the world, but not quite up to what he believed to be his
mark. Mr. Prosper himself was the stupidest ass! At Welwyn people
smelled of the City. At Stevenage the parsons' set began. Baldock was a
_caput mortuum_ of dulness. Royston was alive only on market-days. Of
his own father's house, and even of his mother and sisters, he
entertained ideas that savored a little of depreciation. But, to redeem
him from this fault,--a fault which would have led to the absolute ruin
of his character had it not been redeemed and at last cured,--there was a
consciousness of his own vanity and weakness. "My father is worth a
dozen of them, and my mother and sisters two dozen," he would say of the
Ingoldsbys when he went to bed in the room that was to be burnt down in
preparation for his exile. And he believed it. They were honest; they
were unselfish; they were unpretending. His sister Molly was not above
owning that her young brewer was all the world to her; a fine, honest,
bouncing girl, who said her prayers with a meaning, thanked the Lord for
giving her Joshua, and laughed so loud that you could hear her out of
the rectory garden half across the park. Harry knew that they were
good,--did in his heart know that where the parsons begin the good things
were likely to begin also.

He was in this state of mind, the hand of good pulling one way and the
devil's pride the other, when young Thoroughbung called for him one
morning to carry him on to Cumberlow Green. Cumberlow Green was a
popular meet in that county, where meets have not much to make them
popular except the good-humor of those who form the hunt. It is not a
county either pleasant or easy to ride over, and a Puckeridge fox is
surely the most ill-mannered of foxes. But the Puckeridge men are
gracious to strangers, and fairly so among themselves. It is more than
can be said of Leicestershire, where sportsmen ride in brilliant boots
and breeches, but with their noses turned supernaturally into the air.
"Come along; we've four miles to do, and twenty minutes to do it in.
Halloo, Molly, how d'ye do? Come up on to the step and give us a kiss."

"Go away!" said Molly, rushing back into the house. "Did you ever hear
anything like his impudence?"

"Why shouldn't you?" said Kate. "All the world knows it." Then the gig,
with the two sportsmen, was driven on. "Don't you think he looks
handsome in his pink coat?" whispered Molly, afterward, to her elder
sister. "Only think; I have never seen him in a red coat since he was my
own. Last April, when the hunting was over, he hadn't spoken out; and
this is the first day he has worn pink this year."

Harry, when he reached the meet, looked about him to watch how he was
received. There are not many more painful things in life than when an
honest, gallant young fellow has to look about him in such a frame of
mind. It might have been worse had he deserved to be dropped, some one
will say. Not at all. A different condition of mind exists then, and a
struggle is made to overcome the judgment of men which is not in itself
painful. It is part of the natural battle of life, which does not hurt
one at all,--unless, indeed, the man hate himself for that which has
brought upon him the hatred of others. Repentance is always an
agony,--and should be so. Without the agony there can be no repentance.
But even then it is hardly so sharp as that feeling of injustice which
accompanies the unmeaning look, and dumb faces, and pretended
indifference of those who have condemned.

When Harry descended from the gig he found himself close to old Mr.
Harkaway, the master of the hounds. Mr. Harkaway was a gentleman who had
been master of these hounds for more than forty years, and had given as
much satisfaction as the county could produce. His hounds, which were
his hobby, were perfect. His horses were good enough for the
Hertfordshire lanes and Hertfordshire hedges. His object was not so much
to run a fox as to kill him in obedience to certain rules of the game.
Ever so many hinderances have been created to bar the killing a fox,--as
for instance that you shouldn't knock him on the head with a
brick-bat,--all of which had to Mr. Harkaway the force of a religion. The
laws of hunting are so many that most men who hunt cannot know them all.
But no law had ever been written, or had become a law by the strength of
tradition, which he did not know.

To break them was to him treason. When a young man broke them he pitied
the young man's ignorance, and endeavored to instruct him after some
rough fashion. When an old man broke them, he regarded him as a fool who
should stay at home, or as a traitor who should be dealt with as such.
And with such men he could deal very hardly. Forty years of reigning had
taught him to believe himself to be omnipotent, and he was so in his own
hunt. He was a man who had never much affected social habits. The
company of one or two brother sportsmen to drink a glass of port-wine
with him and then to go early to bed, was the most of it. He had a small
library, but not a book ever came off the shelf unless it referred to
farriers or the _res venatica_. He was unmarried. The time which other
men gave to their wives and families he bestowed upon his hounds. To his
stables he never went, looking on a horse as a necessary adjunct to
hunting,--expensive, disagreeable, and prone to get you into danger. When
anyone flattered him about his horse he would only grunt, and turn his
head on one side. No one in these latter years had seen him jump any
fence. But yet he was always with his hounds, and when any one said a
kind word as to their doings, that he would take as a compliment. It was
they who were there to do the work of the day, which horses and men
could only look at. He was a sincere, honest, taciturn, and withal,
affectionate man, who could on an occasion be very angry with those who
offended him. He knew well what he could do, and never attempted that
which was beyond his power. "How are you, Mr. Harkaway?" said Harry.

"How are you, Mr. Annesley? how are you?" said the master, with all the
grace of which he was capable. But Harry caught a tone in his voice
which he thought implied displeasure. And Mr. Harkaway had in truth
heard the story,--how Harry had been discarded at Buston because he had
knocked the man down in the streets at night-time and had then gone
away. After that Mr. Harkaway toddled off, and Harry sat and frowned
with embittered heart.

"Well, Malt-and-hops, and how are you?" This came from a fast young
banker who lived in the neighborhood, and who thus intended to show his
familiarity with the brewer; but when he saw Annesley, he turned round
and rode away. "Scaly trick that fellow played the other day. He knocked
a fellow down, and, when he thought that he was dead, he lied about it
like old boots." All of which made itself intelligible to Harry. He told
himself that he had always hated that banker.

"Why do you let such a fellow as that call you Malt-and-hops?" he said
to Joshua.

"What,--young Florin? He's a very good fellow, and doesn't mean
anything."

"A vulgar cad, I should say."

Then he rode on in silence till he was addressed by an old gentleman of
the county who had known his father for the last thirty years. The old
gentleman had had nothing about him to recommend him either to Harry's
hatred or love till he spoke; and after that Harry hated him. "How d'you
do, Mr. Annesley?" said the old gentleman, and then rode on. Harry knew
that the old man had condemned him as the others had done, or he would
never have called him Mr. Annesley. He felt that he was "blown upon" in
his own county, as well as by the Ingoldsbys down in Kent.

They had but a moderate day's sport, going a considerable distance in
search of it, till an incident arose which gave quite an interest to the
field generally, and nearly brought Joshua Thoroughbung into a scrape.
They were drawing a covert which was undoubtedly the property of their
own hunt,--or rather just going to draw it,--when all of a sudden they
became aware that every hound in the pack was hunting. Mr. Harkaway at
once sprung from his usual cold, apathetic manner into full action. But
they who knew him well could see that it was not the excitement of joy.
He was in an instant full of life, but it was not the life of successful
enterprise. He was perturbed and unhappy, and his huntsman, Dillon,--a
silent, cunning, not very popular man, who would obey his master in
everything,--began to move about rapidly, and to be at his wit's end. The
younger men prepared themselves for a run,--one of those sudden, short,
decisive spurts which come at the spur of the moment, and on which a
man, if he is not quite awake to the demands of the moment, is very apt
to be left behind. But the old stagers had their eyes on Mr. Harkaway,
and knew that there was something amiss.

Then there appeared another field of hunters, first one man leading
them, then others following, and after them the first ruck and then the
crowd. It was apparent to all who knew anything that two packs had
joined. These were the Hitchiners, as the rival sportsmen would call
them, and this was the Hitchin Hunt, with Mr. Fairlawn, their master.
Mr. Fairlawn was also an old man, popular, no doubt, in his own country,
but by no means beloved by Mr. Harkaway. Mr. Harkaway used to declare
how Fairlawn had behaved very badly about certain common coverts about
thirty years ago, when the matter had to be referred to a committee of
masters. No one in these modern days knew aught of the quarrel, or
cared. The men of the two hunts were very good friends, unless they met
under the joint eyes of the two masters, and then they were supposed to
be bound to hate each other. Now the two packs were mixed together, and
there was only one fox between them.

The fox did not trouble them long. He could hardly have saved himself
from one pack, but very soon escaped from the fangs of the two. Each
hound knew that his neighbor hound was a stranger, and, in scrutinizing
the singularity of the occurrence, lost all the power of hunting. In ten
minutes there were nearly forty couples of hounds running hither and
thither, with two huntsmen and four whips swearing at them with strange
voices, and two old gentlemen giving orders each in opposition to the
other. Then each pack was got together, almost on the same ground, and
it was necessary that something should be done. Mr. Harkaway waited to
see whether Mr. Fairlawn would ride away quickly to his own country. He
would not have spoken to Mr. Fairlawn if he could have helped it. Mr.
Fairlawn was some miles away from his country. He must have given up the
day for lost had he simply gone away. But there was another covert a
mile off, and he thought that one of his hounds had "shown a line,"--or
said that he thought so.

Now, it is well known that you may follow a hunted fox through whatever
country he may take you to, if only your hounds are hunting him
continuously. And one hound for that purpose is as good as thirty, and
if a hound can only "show a line" he is held to be hunting. Mr. Fairlawn
was quite sure that one of his hounds had been showing a line, and had
been whipped off it by one of Mr. Harkaway's men. The man swore that he
had only been collecting his own hounds. On this plea Mr. Fairlawn
demanded to take his whole pack into Greasegate Wood,--the very covert
that Mr. Harkaway had been about to draw. "I'm d----d if you do!" said Mr.
Harkaway, standing, whip in hand, in the middle of the road, so as to
prevent the enemy's huntsman passing by with his hounds. It was
afterward declared that Mr. Harkaway had not been heard to curse and
swear for the last fifteen years. "I'm d----d if I don't!" said Mr.
Fairlawn, riding up to him. Mr. Harkaway was ten years the older man,
and looked as though he had much less of fighting power. But no one saw
him quail or give an inch. Those who watched his face declared that his
lips were white with rage and quivered with passion.

To tell the words which passed between them after that would require
Homer's pathos and Homer's imagination. The two old men scowled and
scolded at each other, and, had Mr. Fairlawn attempted to pass, Mr.
Harkaway would certainly have struck him with his whip. And behind their
master a crowd of the Puckeridge men collected themselves,--foremost
among whom was Joshua Thoroughbung. "Take 'em round to the covert by
Winnipeg Lane," said Mr. Fairlawn to his huntsman. The man prepared to
take his pack round by Winnipeg Lane, which would have added a mile to
the distance. But the huntsman, when he had got a little to the left,
was soon seen scurrying across the country in the direction of the
covert, with a dozen others at his heels, and the hounds following him.
But old Mr. Harkaway had seen it too, and having possession of the road,
galloped along it at such a pace that no one could pass him.

All the field declared that they had regarded it as impossible that
their master should move so fast. And Dillon, and the whips, and
Thoroughbung, and Harry Annesley, with half a dozen others, kept pace
with him. They would not sit there and see their master outmanoeuvred by
any lack of readiness on their part. They got to the covert first, and
there, with their whips drawn, were ready to receive the second pack.
Then one hound went in without an order; but for their own hounds they
did not care. They might find a fox and go after him, and nobody would
follow them. The business here at the covert-side was more important and
more attractive.

Then it was that Mr. Thoroughbung nearly fell into danger. As to the
other hounds,--Mr. Fairlawn's hounds,--doing any harm in the covert, or
doing any good for themselves or their owners, that was out of the
question. The rival pack was already there, with their noses up in the
air, and thinking of anything but a fox; and this other pack,--the
Hitchiners,--were just as wild. But it was the object of Mr. Fairlawn's
body-guard to say that they had drawn the covert in the teeth of Mr.
Harkaway, and to achieve this one of the whips thought that he could
ride through the Puckeridge men, taking a couple of hounds with him.
That would suffice for triumph.

But to prevent such triumph on the part of the enemy Joshua Thoroughbung
was prepared to sacrifice himself. He rode right at the whip, with his
own whip raised, and would undoubtedly have ridden over him had not the
whip tried to turn his horse sharp round, stumbled and fallen in the
struggle, and had not Thoroughbung, with his horse, fallen over him.

It will be the case that a slight danger or injury in one direction will
often stop a course of action calculated to create greater dangers and
worse injuries. So it was in this case. When Dick, the Hitchin whip,
went down, and Thoroughbung, with his horse, was over him,--two men and
two horses struggling together on the ground,--all desire to carry on the
fight was over.

The huntsman came up, and at last Mr. Fairlawn also, and considered it
to be their duty to pick up Dick, whose breath was knocked out of him by
the weight of Joshua Thoroughbung, and the Puckeridge side felt it to be
necessary to give their aid to the valiant brewer. There was then no
more attempt to draw the covert. Each general in gloomy silence took off
his forces, and each afterward deemed that the victory was his. Dick
swore, when brought to himself, that one of his hounds had gone in,
whereas Squire 'Arkaway "had swore most 'orrid oaths that no 'Itchiner
'ound should ever live to put his nose in. One of 'is 'ounds 'ad, and
Squire 'Arkaway would have to be--" Well, Dick declared that he would
not say what would happen to Mr. Harkaway.



CHAPTER XXIX.

RIDING HOME.


The two old gentlemen rode away, each in his own direction, in gloomy
silence. Not a word was said by either of them, even to one of his own
followers. It was nearly twenty miles to Mr. Harkaway's house, and along
the entire twenty miles he rode silent. "He's in an awful passion," said
Thoroughbung; "he can't speak from anger." But, to tell the truth, Mr.
Harkaway was ashamed of himself. He was an old gentleman, between
seventy and eighty, who was supposed to go out for his amusement, and
had allowed himself to be betrayed into most unseemly language. What
though the hound had not "shown a line?" Was it necessary that he, at
his time of life, should fight on the road for the maintenance of a
trifling right of sport. But yet there came upon him from time to time a
sense of the deep injury done to him. That man Fairlawn, that
blackguard, that creature of all others the farthest removed from a
gentleman, had declared that in his, Mr. Harkaway's teeth, he would draw
his, Mr. Harkaway's covert! Then he would urge on his old horse, and
gnash his teeth; and then, again, he would be ashamed. "Tantaene animis
coelestibus irae?"

But Thoroughbung rode home high in spirits, very proud, and conscious of
having done good work. He was always anxious to stand well with the hunt
generally, and was aware that he had now distinguished himself. Harry
Annesley was on one side of him, and on the other rode Mr. Florin, the
banker. "He's an abominable liar!" said Thoroughbung, "a wicked,
wretched liar!" He was alluding to the Hitchiner's whip, whom in his
wrath he had nearly sent to another world. "He says that one of his
hounds got into the covert, but I was there and saw it all. Not a nose
was over the little bank which runs between the field and the covert."

"You must have seen a hound if he had been there," said the banker.

"I was as cool as a cucumber, and could count the hounds he had with
him. There were three of them. A big black-spotted bitch was leading,
the one that I nearly fell upon. When the man went down the hound
stopped, not knowing what was expected of him. How should he? The man
would have been in the covert, but, by George! I managed to stop him."

"What did you mean to do to him when you rode at him so furiously?"
asked Harry.

"Not let him get in there. That was my resolute purpose. I suppose I
should have knocked him off his horse with my whip."

"But suppose he had knocked you off your horse?" suggested the banker.

"There is no knowing how that might have been. I never calculated those
chances. When a man wants to do a thing like that he generally does it."

"And you did it?" said Harry.

"Yes; I think I did. I dare say his bones are sore. I know mine are. But
I don't care for that in the least. When this day comes to be talked
about, as I dare say it will be for many a long year, no one will be
able to say that the Hitchiners got into that covert." Thoroughbung,
with the genuine modesty of an Englishman, would not say that he had
achieved by his own prowess all this glory for the Puckeridge Hunt, but
he felt it down to the very end of his nails.

Had he not been there that whip would have got into the wood, and a very
different tale would then have been told in those coming years to which
his mind was running away with happy thoughts. He had ridden the
aggressors down; he had stopped the first intrusive hound. But though he
continued to talk of the subject, he did not boast in so many words that
he had done it. His "veni, vidi, vici," was confined to his own bosom.

As they rode home together there came to be a little crowd of men round
Thoroughbung, giving him the praises that were his due. But one by one
they fell off from Annesley's side of the road. He soon felt that no one
addressed a word to him. He was, probably, too prone to encourage them
in this. It was he that fell away, and courted loneliness, and then in
his heart accused them. There was do doubt something of truth in his
accusations; but another man, less sensitive, might have lived it down.
He did more than meet their coldness half-way, and then complained to
himself of the bitterness of the world. "They are like the beasts of the
field," he said, "who when another beast has been wounded, turn upon him
and rend him to death." His future brother-in-law, the best natured
fellow that ever was born, rode on thoughtless, and left Harry alone for
three or four miles, while he received the pleasant plaudits of his
companions. In Joshua's heart was that tale of the whip's discomfiture.
He did not see that Molly's brother was alone as soon as he would have
done but for his own glory. "He is the same as the others," said Harry
to himself. "Because that man has told a falsehood of me, and has had
the wit to surround it with circumstances, he thinks it becomes him to
ride away and cut me." Then he asked himself some foolish questions as
to himself and as to Joshua Thoroughbung, which he did not answer as he
should have done, had he remembered that he was then riding
Thoroughbung's horse, and that his sister was to become Thoroughbung's
wife.

After half an hour of triumphant ovation, Joshua remembered his
brother-in-law, and did fall back so as to pick him up. "What's the
matter, Harry? Why don't you come on and join us?"

"I'm sick of hearing of that infernal squabble."

"Well; as to a squabble, Mr. Harkaway behaved quite right. If a hunt is
to be kept up, the right of entering coverts must be preserved for the
hunt they belong to. There was no line shown. You must remember that
there isn't a doubt about that. The hounds were all astray when we
joined them. It's a great question whether they brought their fox into
that first covert. There are they who think that Bodkin was just riding
across the Puckeridge country in search of a fox." Bodkin was Mr.
Fairlawn's huntsman. "If you admit that kind of thing, where will you
be? As a hunting country, just nowhere. Then as a sportsman, where are
you? It is necessary to put down such gross fraud. My own impression is
that Mr. Fairlawn should be turned out from being master. I own I feel
very strongly about it. But then I always have been fond of hunting."

"Just so," said Harry, sulkily, who was not in the least interested as
to the matter on which Joshua was so eloquent.

Then Mr. Proctor rode by, the gentleman who in the early part of the day
disgusted Harry by calling him "mister." "Now, Mr. Proctor," continued
Joshua, "I appeal to you whether Mr. Harkaway was not quite right? If
you won't stick up for your rights in a hunting county--" But Mr.
Proctor rode on, wishing them good-night, very discourteously declining
to hear the remainder of the brewer's arguments. "He's in a hurry, I
suppose," said Joshua.

"You'd better follow him. You'll find that he'll listen to you then."

"I don't want him to listen to me particularly."

"I thought you did." Then for half an hour the two men rode on in
silence.

"What's the matter with you Harry?" said Joshua. "I can see there's
something up that riles you. I know you're a fellow of your college, and
have other things to think of besides the vagaries of a fox."

"The fellow of a college!" said Harry, who, had he been in a good-humor,
would have thought much more of being along with a lot of fox-hunters
than of any college honors.

"Well, yes; I suppose it is a great thing to be a fellow of a college. I
never could have been one if I had mugged forever."

"My being a fellow of a college won't do me much good. Did you see that
old man Proctor go by just now?"

"Oh yes; he never likes to be out after a certain hour."

"And did you see Florin, and Mr. Harkaway, and a lot of others? You
yourself have been going on ahead for the last hour without speaking to
me."

"How do you mean without speaking to you?" said Joshua, turning sharp
round.

Then Harry Annesley reflected that he was doing an injustice to his
future brother-in-law.

"Perhaps I have done you wrong," he said.

"You have."

"I beg your pardon. I believe you are as honest and true a fellow as
there is in Hertfordshire, but for those others--"

"You think it's about Mountjoy Scarborough, then?" asked Joshua.

"I do. That infernal fool, Peter Prosper, has chosen to publish to the
world that he has dropped me because of something that he has heard of
that occurrence. A wretched lie has been told with a purpose by
Mountjoy Scarborough's brother, and my uncle has taken it into his wise
head to believe it. The truth is, I have not been as respectful to him
as he thinks I ought, and now he resents my neglect in this fashion. He
is going to marry your aunt in order that he may have a lot of children,
and cut me out. In order to justify himself, he has told these lies
about me, and you see the consequence;--not a man in the county is
willing to speak to me."

"I really think a great deal of it's fancy."

"You go and ask Mr. Harkaway. He's honest, and he'll tell you. Ask this
new cousin of yours, Mr. Prosper."

"I don't know that they are going to make a match of it, after all."

"Ask my own father. Only think of it,--that a puling, puking idiot like
that, from a mere freak, should be able to do a man such a mischief! He
can rob me of my income, which he himself has brought me up to expect.
That he can do by a stroke of his pen. He can threaten to have sons like
Priam. All that is within his own bosom. But to justify himself to the
world at large, he picks up a scandalous story from a man like Augustus
Scarborough, and immediately not a man in the county will speak to me. I
say that that is enough to break a man's heart,--not the injury done
which a man should bear, but the injustice of the doing. Who wants his
beggarly allowance! He can do as he likes about his own money. I shall
never ask him for his money. But that he should tell such a lie as this
about the county is more than a man can endure."

"What was it that did happen?" asked Joshua.

"The man met me in the street when he was drunk, and he struck at me and
was insolent. Of course I knocked him down. Who wouldn't have done the
same? Then his brother found him somewhere, or got hold of him, and sent
him out of the country, and says that I had held my tongue when I left
him in the street. Of course I held my tongue. What was Mountjoy to me?
Then Augustus has asked me sly questions, and accuses me of lying
because I did not choose to tell him everything. It all comes out of
that."

Here they had reached the rectory, and Harry, after seeing that the
horses were properly supplied with gruel, took himself and his ill-humor
up-stairs to his own chamber. But Joshua had a word or two to say to one
of the inmates of the rectory.

He felt that it would be improper to ride his horse home without giving
time to the animal to drink his gruel, and therefore made his way into
the little breakfast-parlor, where Molly had a cup of tea and buttered
toast ready for him. He of course told her first of the grand occurrence
of the day,--how the two packs of hounds had mixed themselves together,
how violently the two masters had fallen out and had nearly flogged each
other, how Mr. Harkaway had sworn horribly,--who had never been heard to
swear before,--how a final attempt had been made to seize a second
covert, and how, at last, it had come to pass that he had distinguished
himself. "Do you mean to say that you absolutely rode over the
unfortunate man?" asked Molly.

"I did. Not that the man had the worst of it,--or very much the worse.
There we were both down, and the two horses, all in a heap together."

"Oh, Joshua, suppose you had been kicked!"

"In that case I should have been--kicked."

"But a kick from an infuriated horse!"

"There wasn't much infuriation about him. The man had ridden all that
out of the beast."

"You are sure to laugh at me, Joshua, because I think what terrible
things might have happened to you. Why do you go putting yourself so
forward in every danger, now that you have got somebody else to depend
upon you and to care for you? It's very, very wrong."

"Somebody had to do it, Molly. It was most important, in the interests
of hunting generally, that those hounds should not have been allowed to
get into that covert. I don't think that outsiders ever understand how
essential it is to maintain your rights. It isn't as though it were an
individual. The whole county may depend upon it."

"Why shouldn't it be some man who hasn't got a young woman to look
after?" said Molly, half laughing and half crying.

"It's the man who first gets there who ought to do it," said Joshua. "A
man can't stop to remember whether he has got a young woman or not."

"I don't think you ever want to remember." Then that little quarrel was
brought to the usual end with the usual blandishments, and Joshua went
on to discuss with her that other source of trouble, her brother's fall.
"Harry is awfully cut up," said the brewer.

"You mean these affairs about his uncle?"

"Yes. It isn't only the money he feels, or the property, but people
look askew at him. You ought all of you to be very kind to him."

"I am sure we are."

"There is something in it to vex him. That stupid old fool, your
uncle--I beg your pardon, you know, for speaking of him in that way--"

"He is a stupid old fool."

"Is behaving very badly. I don't know whether he shouldn't be treated as
I did that fellow up at the covert."

"Ride over him?"

"Something of that kind. Of course Harry is sore about it, and when a
man is sore he frets at a thing like that more than he ought to do. As
for that aunt of mine at Buntingford, there seems to be some hitch in
it. I should have said she'd have married the Old Gentleman had he asked
her."

"Don't talk like that, Joshua."

"But there is some screw loose. Simpson came up to my father about it
yesterday, and the governor let enough of the cat out of the bag to make
me know that the thing is not going as straight as she wishes."

"He has offered, then?"

"I am sure he has asked her."

"And your aunt will accept him?" asked Molly.

"There's probably some difference about money. It's all done with the
intention of injuring poor Harry. If he were my own brother I could not
be more unhappy about him. And as to Aunt Matilda, she's a fool. There
are two fools together. If they choose to marry we can't hinder them.
But there is some screw loose, and if the two young lovers don't know
their own minds things may come right at last." Then, with some farther
blandishments, the prosperous brewer walked away.



CHAPTER XXX.

PERSECUTION.


In the mean time Florence Mountjoy was not passing her time pleasantly
at Brussels. Various troubles there attended her. All her friends around
her were opposed to her marriage with Harry Annesley. Harry Annesley had
become a very unsavory word in the mouths of Sir Magnus and the British
Embassy generally. Mrs. Mountjoy told her grief to her brother-in-law,
who thoroughly took her part, as did also, very strongly, Lady Mountjoy.
It got to be generally understood that Harry was a _mauvais sujet_. Such
was the name that was attached to him, and the belief so conveyed was
thoroughly entertained by them all. Sir Magnus had written to friends in
London, and the friends in London bore out the reports that were so
conveyed. The story of the midnight quarrel was told in a manner very
prejudicial to poor Harry, and both Sir Magnus and his wife saw the
necessity of preserving their niece from anything so evil as such a
marriage. But Florence was very firm, and was considered to be very
obstinate. To her mother she was obstinate but affectionate To Sir
Magnus she was obstinate and in some degree respectful. But to Lady
Mountjoy she was neither affectionate nor respectful. She took a great
dislike to Lady Mountjoy, who endeavored to domineer; and who, by the
assistance of the two others, was in fact tyrannical. It was her opinion
that the girl should be compelled to abandon the man, and Mrs. Mountjoy
found herself constrained to follow this advice. She did love her
daughter, who was her only child. The main interest of her life was
centred in her daughter. Her only remaining ambition rested on her
daughter's marriage. She had long revelled in the anticipation of being
the mother-in-law of the owner of Tretton Park. She had been very proud
of her daughter's beauty.

Then had come the first blow, when Harry Annesley had come to Montpelier
Place and had been welcomed by Florence. Mrs. Mountjoy had seen it all
long before Florence had been aware of it. And the first coming of Harry
had been long before the absolute disgrace of Captain Scarborough,--at
any rate, before the tidings of that disgrace had reached Cheltenham.
Mrs. Mountjoy had been still able to dream of Tretton Park, after the
Jews had got their fingers on it,--even after the Jews had been forced to
relinquish their hold. It can hardly be said that up to this very time
Mrs. Mountjoy had lost all hope in her nephew, thinking that as the
property had been entailed some portion of it must ultimately belong to
him. She had heard that Augustus was to have it, and her desires had
vacillated between the two. Then Harry had positively declared himself,
and Augustus had given her to understand how wretched, how mean, how
wicked had been Harry's conduct. And he fully explained to her that
Harry would be penniless. She had indeed been aware that Buston,--quite a
trifling thing compared to Tretton,--was to belong to him. But entails
were nothing nowadays. It was part of the radical abomination to which
England was being subjected. Not even Buston was now to belong to Harry
Annesley. The small income which he had received from his uncle was
stopped. He was reduced to live upon his fellowship,--which would be
stopped also if he married. She even despised him because he was the
fellow of a college;--she had looked for a husband for her daughter so
much higher than any college could produce. It was not from any lack of
motherly love that she was opposed to Florence, or from any innate
cruelty that she handed her daughter over to the tender mercies of Lady
Mountjoy.

And since she had been at Brussels there had come up farther hopes.
Another mode had shown itself of escaping Harry Annesley, who was of all
catastrophes the most dreaded and hated. Mr. Anderson, the second
secretary of legation,--he whose business it was to ride about the
boulevard with Sir Magnus,--had now declared himself in form. "Never saw
a fellow so bowled over," Sir Magnus had declared, by which he had
intended to signify that Mr. Anderson was now truly in love. "I've seen
him spooney a dozen times," Sir Magnus had said, confidentially, to his
sister-in-law, "but he has never gone to this length. He has asked a lot
of girls to have him, but he has always been off it again before the
week was over. He has written to his mother now."

And Mr. Anderson showed his love by very unmistakable signs. Sir Magnus
too, and Lady Mountjoy, were evidently on the same side as Mr. Anderson.
Sir Magnus thought there was no longer any good in waiting for his
nephew, the captain, and of that other nephew, Augustus, he did not
entertain any very high idea. Sir Magnus had corresponded lately with
Augustus, and was certainly not on his side. But he so painted Mr.
Anderson's prospects in life, as did also Lady Mountjoy, as to make it
appear that if Florence could put up with young Anderson she would do
very well with herself.

"He's sure to be a baronet some of these days, you know," said Sir
Magnus.

"I don't think that would go very far with Florence," said her mother.

"But it ought. Look about in the world and you'll see that it does go a
long way. He'd be the fifth baronet."

"But his elder brother is alive."

"The queerest fellow you ever saw in your born days, and his life is not
worth a year's purchase. He's got some infernal disease,--nostalgia, or
what 'd'ye call it?--which never leaves him a moment's peace, and then
he drinks nothing but milk. Sure to go off;--cock sure."

"I shouldn't like Florence to count upon that."

"And then Hugh Anderson, the fellow here, is very well off as it is. He
has four hundred pounds here, and another five hundred pounds of his
own. Florence has, or will have, four hundred pounds of her own. I
should call them deuced rich. I should, indeed, as beginners. She could
have her pair of ponies here, and what more would she want?"

These arguments did go very far with Mrs. Mountjoy, the farther because
in her estimation Sir Magnus was a great man. He was the greatest
Englishman, at any rate, in Brussels, and where should she go for advice
but to an Englishman? And she did not know that Sir Magnus had succeeded
in borrowing a considerable sum of money from his second secretary of
legation.

"Leave her to me for a little;--just leave her to me," said Lady
Mountjoy.

"I would not say anything hard to her," said the mother, pleading for
her naughty child.

"Not too hard, but she must be made to understand. You see there have
been misfortunes. As to Mountjoy Scarborough, he's past hoping for."

"You think so?"

"Altogether. When a man has disappeared there's an end of him. There was
Lord Baltiboy's younger son disappeared, and he turned out to be a
Zouave corporal in a French regiment. They did get him out, of course,
but then he went preaching in America. You may take it for granted, that
when a man has absolutely vanished from the clubs, he'll never be any
good again as a marrying man."

"But there's his brother, who, they say, is to have the property."

"A very cold-blooded sort of young man, who doesn't care a straw for his
own family." He had received very sternly the overtures for a loan from
Sir Magnus. "And he, as I understand, has never declared himself in
Florence's favor. You can't count upon Augustus Scarborough."

"Not just count upon him."

"Whereas there's young Anderson, who is the most gentleman-like young
man I know, all ready. It will have been such a turn of luck your coming
here and catching him up."

"I don't know that it can be called a turn of luck. Florence has a very
nice fortune of her own--"

"And she wants to give it to this penniless reprobate. It is just one of
those cases in which you must deal roundly with a girl. She has to be
frightened, and that's about the truth of it."

After this, Lady Mountjoy did succeed in getting Florence alone with
herself into her morning-room. When her mother told her that her aunt
wished to see her, she answered first that she had no special wish to
see her aunt. Her mother declared that in her aunt's house she was bound
to go when her aunt sent for her. To this Florence demurred. She was,
she thought, her aunt's guest, but by no means at her aunt's disposal.
But at last she obeyed her mother. She had resolved that she would obey
her mother in all things but one, and therefore she went one morning to
her aunt's chamber.

But as she went she was, on the first instance, caught by her uncle, and
taken by him into a little private sanctum behind his official room. "My
dear," he said, "just come in here for two minutes."

"I am on my way up to my aunt."

"I know it, my dear. Lady Mountjoy has been talking it all over with me.
Upon my word you can't do anything better than take young Anderson."

"I can't do that, Uncle Magnus."

"Why not? There's poor Mountjoy Scarborough, he has gone astray."

"There is no question of my cousin."

"And Augustus is no better."

"There is no question of Augustus either."

"As to that other chap, he isn't any good;--he isn't indeed."

"You mean Mr. Annesley?"

"Yes; Harry Annesley, as you call him. He hasn't got a shilling to bless
himself with, or wouldn't have if he was to marry you."

"But I have got something."

"Not enough for both of you, I'm afraid. That uncle of his has
disinherited him."

"His uncle can't disinherit him."

"He's quite young enough to marry and have a family, and then Annesley
will be disinherited. He has stopped his allowance, anyway, and you
mustn't think of him. He did something uncommonly unhandsome the other
day, though I don't quite know what."

"He did nothing unhandsome, Uncle Magnus."

"Of course a young lady will stand up for her lover, but you will
really have to drop him. I'm not a hard sort of man, but this was
something that the world will not stand. When he thought the man had
been murdered he didn't say anything about it for fear they should tax
him with it. And then he swore he had never seen him. It was something
of that sort."

"He never feared that any one would suspect him."

"And now young Anderson has proposed. I should not have spoken else, but
it's my duty to tell you about young Anderson. He's a gentleman all
round."

"So is Mr. Annesley."

"And Anderson has got into no trouble at all. He does his duty here
uncommonly well. I never had less trouble with any young fellow than I
have had with him. No licking him into shape,--or next to none,--and he
has a very nice private income. You together would have plenty, and
could live here till you had settled on apartments. A pair of ponies
would be just the thing for you to drive about and support the British
interests. You think of it, my dear, and you'll find that I'm right."
Then Florence escaped from that room and went up to receive the much
more severe lecture which she was to have from her aunt.

"Come in, my dear," said Lady Mountjoy, in her most austere voice. She
had a voice which could assume austerity when she knew her power to be
in the ascendant. As Florence entered the room Miss Abbott left it by a
door on the other side. "Take that chair, Florence. I want to have a few
minutes' conversation with you." Then Florence sat down. "When a young
lady is thinking of being married, a great many things have to be taken
into consideration." This seemed to be so much a matter of fact that
Florence did not feel it necessary to make any reply. "Of course I am
aware you are thinking of being married."

"Oh yes," said Florence.

"But to whom?"

"To Harry Annesley," said Florence, intending to imply that all the
world knew that.

"I hope not; I hope not. Indeed, I may say that it is quite out of the
question. In the first place, he is a beggar."

"He has begged from none," said Florence.

"He is what the world calls a beggar, when a young man without a penny
thinks of being married."

"I'm not a beggar, and what I've got will be his."

"My dear, you're talking about what you don't understand. A young lady
cannot give her money away in that manner; it will not be allowed.
Neither your mother, nor Sir Magnus, nor will I permit it." Here
Florence restrained herself, but drew herself up in her chair as though
prepared to speak out her mind if she should be driven. Lady Mountjoy
would not permit it! She thought that she would feel herself quite able
to tell Lady Mountjoy that she had neither power nor influence in the
matter, but she determined to be silent a little longer. "In the first
place, a gentleman who is a gentleman never attempts to marry a lady for
her money."

"But when a lady has the money she can express herself much more clearly
than she could otherwise."

"I don't quite understand what you mean by that, my dear."

"When Mr. Annesley proposed to me he was the acknowledged heir to his
uncle's property."

"A trumpery affair at the best of it."

"It would have sufficed for me. Then I accepted him."

"That goes for nothing from a lady. Of course your acceptance was
contingent on circumstances."

"It was so;--on my regard. Having accepted him, and as my regard remains
just as warm as ever, I certainly shall not go back because of anything
his uncle may do. I only say this to explain that he was quite justified
in his offer. It was not for my small fortune that he came to me."

"I'm not so sure of that."

"But if my money can be of any use to him, he's quite welcome to it. Sir
Magnus spoke to me about a pair of ponies. I'd rather have him than a
pair of ponies."

"I'm coming to that just now. Here is Mr. Anderson."

"Oh yes; he's here."

There was certainly a touch of impatience in the tone in which this was
uttered. It was as though she had said that Mr. Anderson had so
contrived that she could have no doubt whatever about his continued
presence. Mr. Anderson had made himself so conspicuous as to be visible
to her constantly. Lady Mountjoy, who intended at present to sing Mr.
Anderson's praises, felt this to be impertinent.

"I don't know what you mean by that. Mr. Anderson has behaved himself
quite like a gentleman, and you ought to be very proud of any token you
may receive of his regard and affection."

"But I'm not bound to return to it."

"You are bound to think of it when those who are responsible for your
actions tell you to do so."

"Mamma, you mean?"

"I mean your uncle, Sir Magnus Mountjoy." She did not quite dare to say
that she had meant herself. "I suppose you will admit that Sir Magnus is
a competent judge of young men's characters?"

"He may be a judge of Mr. Anderson, because Mr. Anderson is his clerk."

There was something of an intention to depreciate in the word "clerk."
Florence had not thought much of Mr. Anderson's worth, nor, as far as
she had seen them, of the duties generally performed at the British
Embassy. She was ignorant of the peculiar little niceties and
intricacies which required the residence at Brussels of a gentleman with
all the tact possessed by Sir Magnus. She did not know that while the
mere international work of the office might be safely intrusted to Mr.
Blow and Mr. Bunderdown, all those little niceties, that smiling and
that frowning, that taking off of hats and only half taking them off,
that genial, easy manner, and that stiff hauteur, formed the peculiar
branch of Sir Magnus himself,--and, under Sir Magnus, of Mr. Anderson.
She did not understand that even to that pair of ponies which was
promised to her were to be attached certain important functions, which
she was to control as the deputy of the great man's deputy And now she
had called the great man's deputy a clerk!

"Mr. Anderson is no such thing," said Lady Mountjoy.

"His young man, then,--or private secretary;--only somebody else is
that."

"You are very impertinent and very ungrateful. Mr. Anderson is second
secretary of legation. There is no officer attached to our establishment
of more importance. I believe you say it on purpose to anger me. And
then you compare this gentleman to Mr. Annesley, a man to whom no one
will speak."

"I will speak to him." Had Harry heard her say that, he ought to have
been a happy man in spite of his trouble.

"You! What good can you do him?" Florence nodded her head, almost
imperceptibly, but still there was a nod, signifying more than she could
possibly say. She thought that she could do him a world of good if she
were near him, and some good, too, though she were far away. If she were
with him she could hang on to his arm,--or perhaps at some future time
round his neck,--and tell him that she would be true to him though all
others might turn away. And she could be just as true where she was,
though she could not comfort him by telling him so with her own words.
Then it was that she resolved upon writing that letter. He should
already have what little comfort she might administer in his absence.
"Now, listen to me, Florence. He is a thorough reprobate."

"I will not hear him so called. He is no reprobate."

"He has behaved in such a way that all England is crying out about him.
He has done that which will never allow any gentleman to speak to him
again."

"Then there will be more need that a lady should do so. But it is not
true."

"You put your knowledge of character against that of Sir Magnus."

"Sir Magnus does not know the gentleman; I do. What's the good of
talking of it, aunt? Harry Annesley has my word, and nothing on earth
shall induce me to go back from it. Even were he what you say I would be
true to him."

"You would?"

"Certainly I would. I could not willingly begin to love a man whom I
knew to be base; but when I had loved him I would not turn because of
his baseness;--I couldn't do it. It would be a great--a terrible
misfortune; but it would have to be borne. But here--I know all the
story to which you allude."

"I know it too."

"I am quite sure that the baseness has not been on his part. In defence
of my name he has been silent. He might have spoken out, if he had known
all the truth then. I was as much his own then as I am now. One of these
days I suppose I shall be more so."

"You mean to marry him, then?"

"Most certainly I do, or I will never be married; and as he is poor now,
and I must have my own money when I am twenty-four, I suppose I shall
have to wait till then."

"Will your mother's word go for nothing with you?"

"Poor mamma! I do believe that mamma is very unhappy, because she makes
me unhappy. What may take place between me and mamma I am not bound, I
think, to tell you. We shall be away soon, and I shall be left to mamma
alone."

And mamma would be left alone to her daughter, Lady Mountjoy thought.
The visit must be prolonged so that at last Mr. Anderson might be
enabled to prevail.

The visit had been originally intended for a month, but was now
prolonged indefinitely. After that conversation between Lady Mountjoy
and her niece two or three things happened, all bearing upon our story.
Florence at once wrote her letter. If things were going badly in England
with Harry Annesley, Harry should at any rate have the comfort of
knowing what were her feelings,--if there might be comfort to him in
that. "Perhaps, after all, he won't mind what I may say," she thought to
herself; but only pretended to think it, and at once flatly contradicted
her own "perhaps." Then she told him most emphatically not to reply. It
was very important that she should write. He was to receive her letter,
and there must be an end of it. She was quite sure that he would
understand her. He would not subject her to the trouble of having to
tell her own people that she was maintaining a correspondence, for it
would amount to that. But still when the time came for the answer she
had counted it up to the hour. And when Sir Magnus sent for her and
handed to her the letter,--having discussed that question with her
mother,--she fully expected it, and felt properly grateful to her uncle.
She wanted a little comfort, too, and when she had read the letter she
knew that she had received it.

There had been a few words spoken between the two elder ladies after the
interview between Florence and Lady Mountjoy. "She is a most self-willed
young woman," said Lady Mountjoy.

"Of course she loves her lover," said Mrs. Mountjoy, desirous of making
some excuse for her own daughter. The girl was very troublesome, but not
the less her daughter. "I don't know any of them that don't who are
worth anything."

"If you regard it in that light, Sarah, she'll get the better of you. If
she marries him she will be lost; that is the way you have got to look
at it. It is her future happiness you must think of--and respectability.
She is a headstrong young woman, and has to be treated accordingly."

"What would you do?"

"I would be very severe."

"But what am I to do? I can't beat her; I can't lock her up in her
room."

"Then you mean to give it up?"

"No, I don't. You shouldn't be so cross to me," said poor Mrs. Mountjoy.
When it had reached this the two ladies had become intimate. "I don't
mean to give it up at all; but what am I to do?"

"Remain here for the next month, and--and worry her; let Mr. Anderson
have his chance with her. When she finds that everything will smile
with her if she accepts him, and that her life will be made a burden to
her if she still sticks to her Harry Annesley, she'll come round, if she
be like other girls. Of course a girl can't be made to marry a man, but
there are ways and means." By this Lady Mountjoy meant that the utmost
cruelty should be used which would be compatible with a good breakfast,
dinner, and bedroom. Now, Mrs. Mountjoy knew herself to be incapable of
this, and knew also, or thought that she knew, that it would not be
efficacious.

"You stay here,--up to Christmas, if you like it," said Sir Magnus to his
sister-in-law. "She can't but see Anderson every day, and that goes a
long way. She, of course, puts on a resolute air as well as she can.
They all know how to do that. Do you be resolute in return. The deuce is
in it if we can't have our way with her among us. When you talk of ill
usage nobody wants you to put her in chains. There are different ways of
killing a cat. You get friends to write to you from England about young
Annesley, and I'll do the same. The truth, of course, I mean."

"Nothing can be worse than the truth," said Mrs. Mountjoy, shaking her
head, sorrowfully.

"Just so," said Sir Magnus, who was not at all sorrowful to hear so bad
an account of the favored suitor. "Then we'll read her the letters. She
can't help hearing them. Just the true facts, you know. That's fair;
nobody can call that cruel. And then, when she breaks down and comes to
our call, we'll all be as soft as mother's milk to her. I shall see her
going about the boulevards with a pair of ponies yet." Mrs. Mountjoy
felt that when Sir Magnus spoke of Florence coming to his call he did
not know her daughter. But she had nothing better to do than to obey Sir
Magnus. Therefore she resolved to stay at Brussels another period of six
weeks and told Florence that she had so resolved. Just at present
Brussels and Cheltenham would be all the same to Florence.

"It will be a dreadful bore having them so long," said poor Lady
Mountjoy, piteously, to her husband. For in the presence of Sir Magnus
she was by no means the valiant woman that she was with some of her
friends.

"You find everything a bore. What's the trouble?"

"What am I to do with them?"

"Take 'em about in the carriage. Lord bless my soul! what have you got a
carriage for?"

"Then, with Miss Abbott, there's never room for any one else."

"Leave Miss Abbott at home, then. What's the good of talking to me about
Miss Abbott? I suppose it doesn't matter to you whom my brother's
daughter marries?" Lady Mountjoy did not think that it did matter much;
but she declared that she had already evinced the most tender
solicitude. "Then stick to it. The girl doesn't want to go out every
day. Leave her alone, where Anderson can get at her."

"He's always out riding with you."

"No, he's not; not always. And leave Miss Abbott at home. Then there'll
be room for two others. Don't make difficulties. Anderson will expect
that I shall do something for him, of course."

"Because of the money," said Lady Mountjoy, whispering.

"And I've got to do something for her too." Now, there was a spice of
honesty about Sir Magnus. He knew that as he could not at once pay back
these sums, he was bound to make it up in some other way. The debts
would be left the same. But that would remain with Providence.

Then came Harry's letter, and there was a deep consultation. It was
known to have come from Harry by the Buntingford post-mark. Mrs.
Mountjoy proposed to consult Lady Mountjoy; but to that Sir Magnus would
not agree. "She'd take her skin off her if she could, now that she's
angered," said the lady's husband, who no doubt knew the lady well. "Of
course she'll learn that the letter has been written, and then she'll
throw it in our teeth. She wouldn't believe that it had gone astray in
coming here. We should give her a sort of a whip-hand over us." So it
was decided that Florence should have her letter.



CHAPTER XXXI.

FLORENCE'S REQUEST.


Thus it was arranged that Florence should be left in Mr. Anderson's way.
Mr. Anderson, as Sir Magnus had said, was not always out riding. There
were moments in which even he was off duty. And Sir Magnus contrived to
ride a little earlier than usual so that he should get back while the
carriage was still out on its rounds. Lady Mountjoy certainly did her
duty, taking Mrs. Mountjoy with her daily, and generally Miss Abbott, so
that Florence was, as it were, left to the mercies of Mr. Anderson. She
could, of course, shut herself up in her bedroom, but things had not as
yet become so bad as that. Mr. Anderson had not made himself terrible to
her. She did not, in truth, fear Mr. Anderson at all, who was courteous
in his manner and complimentary in his language, and she came at this
time to the conclusion that if Mr. Anderson continued his pursuit of her
she would tell him the exact truth of the case. As a gentleman, and as a
young man, she thought that he would sympathize with her. The one enemy
whom she did dread was Lady Mountjoy. She too had felt that her aunt
could "take her skin off her," as Sir Magnus had said. She had not heard
the words, but she knew that it was so, and her dislike to Lady Mountjoy
was in proportion. It cannot be said that she was afraid. She did not
intend to leave her skin in her aunt's hands. For every inch of skin
taken she resolved to have an inch in return. She was not acquainted
with the expressive mode of language which Sir Magnus had adopted, but
she was prepared for all such attacks. For Sir Magnus himself, since he
had given up the letter to her, she did feel some regard.

Behind the British minister's house, which, though entitled to no such
name, was generally called the Embassy, there was a large garden, which,
though not much used by Sir Magnus or Lady Mountjoy, was regarded as a
valuable adjunct to the establishment. Here Florence betook herself for
exercise, and here Mr. Anderson, having put off the muddy marks of his
riding, found her one afternoon. It must be understood that no young man
was ever more in earnest than Mr. Anderson. He, too, looking through the
glass which had been prepared for him by Sir Magnus, thought that he saw
in the not very far distant future a Mrs. Hugh Anderson driving a pair
of gray ponies along the boulevard and he was much pleased with the
sight. It reached to the top of his ambition. Florence was to his eyes
really the sort of a girl whom a man in his position ought to marry. A
secretary of legation in a small foreign capital cannot do with a dowdy
wife, as may a clerk, for instance, in the Foreign Office. A secretary
of legation,--the second secretary, he told himself,--was bound, if he
married at all, to have a pretty and _distinguée_ wife. He knew all
about the intricacies which had fallen in a peculiar way into his own
hand. Mr. Blow might have married a South Sea Islander, and would have
been none the worse as regarded his official duties. Mr. Blow did not
want the services of a wife in discovering and reporting all the secrets
of the Belgium iron trade. There was no intricacy in that, no nicety.
There was much of what, in his lighter moments, Mr. Anderson called
"sweat." He did not pretend to much capacity for such duties; but in his
own peculiar walk he thought that he was great. But it was very
fatiguing, and he was sure that a wife was necessary to him. There were
little niceties which none but a wife could perform. He had a great
esteem for Sir Magnus. Sir Magnus was well thought of by all the court,
and by the foreign minister at Brussels. But Lady Mountjoy was really of
no use. The beginning and the end of it all with her was to show herself
in a carriage. It was incumbent upon him, Anderson, to marry.

He was loving enough, and very susceptible. He was too susceptible, and
he knew his own fault, and he was always on guard against it,--as
behooved a young man with such duties as his. He was always falling in
love, and then using his diplomatic skill in avoiding the consequences.
He had found out that though one girl had looked so well under waxlight
she did not endure the wear and tear of the day. Another could not be
always graceful, or, though she could talk well enough during a waltz,
she had nothing to say for herself at three o'clock in the morning. And
he was driven to calculate that he would be wrong to marry a girl
without a shilling. "It is a kind of thing that a man cannot afford to
do unless he's sure of his position," he had said on such an occasion to
Montgomery Arbuthnot, alluding especially to his brother's state of
health. When Mr. Anderson spoke of not being sure of his position he was
always considered to allude to his brother's health. In this way he had
nearly got his little boat on to the rocks more than once, and had given
some trouble to Sir Magnus. But now he was quite sure. "It's all there
all round," he had said to Arbuthnot more than once. Arbuthnot said that
it was there--"all round, all round." Waxlight and daylight made no
difference to her. She was always graceful. "Nobody with an eye in his
head can doubt that," said Anderson. "I should think not, by Jove!"
replied Arbuthnot. "And for talking,--you never catch her out; never." "I
never did, certainly," said Arbuthnot, who, as third secretary, was
obedient and kind-hearted. "And then look at her money. Of course a
fellow wants something to help him on. My position is so uncertain that
I cannot do without it." "Of course not." "Now, with some girls it's so
deuced hard to find out. You hear that a girl has got money, but when
the time comes it depends on the life of a father who doesn't think of
dying;--damme, doesn't think of it."

"Those fellows never do," said Arbuthnot. "But here, you see, I know all
about it. When she's twenty-four,--only twenty-four,--she'll have ten
thousand pounds of her own. I hate a mercenary fellow." "Oh yes; that's
beastly." "Nobody can say that of me. Circumstanced as I am, I want
something to help to keep the pot boiling. She has got it,--quite as much
as I want,--quite, and I know all about it without the slightest doubt in
the world." For the small loan of fifteen hundred pounds Sir Magnus paid
the full value of the interest and deficient security. "Sir Magnus tells
me that if I'll only stick to her I shall be sure to win. There's some
fellow in England has just touched her heart,--just touched it, you
know." "I understand," said Arbuthnot, looking very wise. "He is not a
fellow of very much account," said Anderson; "one of those handsome
fellows without conduct and without courage." "I've known lots of 'em,"
said Arbuthnot. "His name is Annesley," said Anderson. "I never saw him
in my life, but that's what Sir Magnus says. He has done something
awfully disreputable. I don't quite understand what it is, but it's
something which ought to make him unfit to be her husband. Nobody knows
the world better than Sir Magnus, and he says that it is so." "Nobody
does know the world better than Sir Magnus," said Arbuthnot. And so that
conversation was brought to an end.

One day soon after this he caught her walking in the garden. Her mother
and Miss Abbot were still out with Lady Mountjoy in the carriage, and
Sir Magnus had retired after the fatigue of his ride to sleep for half
an hour before dinner. "All alone, Miss Mountjoy?" he said.

"Yes, alone, Mr. Anderson. I'm never in better company."

"So I think; but then if I were here you wouldn't be all alone, would
you?"

"Not if you were with me."

"That's what I mean. But yet two people may be alone, as regards the
world at large. Mayn't they?"

"I don't understand the nicety of language well enough to say. We used
to have a question among us when we were children whether a wild beast
could howl in an empty cavern. It's the same sort of thing."

"Why shouldn't he?"

"Because the cavern would not be empty if the wild beast were in it.
Did you ever see a girl bang an egg against a wall in a stocking, and
then look awfully surprised because she had smashed it?"

"I don't understand the joke."

"She had been told she couldn't break an egg in an empty stocking. Then
she was made to look in, and there was the broken egg for her pains. I
don't know what made me tell you that story."

"It's a very good story. I'll get Miss Abbott to do it to-night. She
believes everything."

"And everybody? Then she's a happy woman."

"I wish you'd believe everybody."

"So I do;--nearly everybody. There are some inveterate liars whom nobody
can believe."

"I hope I am not regarded as one."

"You? certainly not. If anybody were to speak of you as such behind your
back no one would take your part more loyally than I. But nobody would."

"That's something, at any rate. Then you do believe that I love you?"

"I believe that you think so."

"And that I don't know my own heart?"

"That's very common, Mr. Anderson. I wasn't quite sure of my own heart
twelve months ago, but I know it now." He felt that his hopes ran very
low when this was said. She had never before spoken to him of his rival,
nor had he to her. He knew, or fancied that he knew, that "her heart had
been touched," as he had said to Arbuthnot. But the "touch" must have
been very deep if she felt herself constrained to speak to him on the
subject. It had been his desire to pass over Mr. Annesley, and never to
hear the name mentioned between them. "You were speaking of your own
heart."

"Well I was, no doubt. It is a silly thing to talk of, I dare say."

"I'm going to tell you of my heart, and I hope you won't think it silly.
I do so because I believe you to be a gentleman, and a man of honor." He
blushed at the words and the tone in which they were spoken, but his
heart fell still lower. "Mr. Anderson, I am engaged." Here she paused a
moment, but he had nothing to say. "I am engaged to marry a gentleman
whom I love with all my heart, and all my strength, and all my body. I
love him so that nothing can ever separate me from him, or, at least,
from the thoughts of him. As regards all the interests of life, I feel
as though I were already his wife. If I ever marry any man I swear to
you that it will be him." Then Mr. Anderson felt that all hope had
utterly departed from him. She had said that she believed him to be a
man of truth. He certainly believed her to be a true-speaking woman. He
asked himself, and he found it to be quite impossible to doubt her word
on this subject. "Now I will go on and tell you my troubles. My mother
disapproves of the man. Sir Magnus has taken upon himself to disapprove,
and Lady Mountjoy disapproves especially. I don't care two straws about
Sir Magnus and Lady Mountjoy. As to Lady Mountjoy, it is simply an
impertinence on her part, interfering with me." There was something in
her face as she said this which made Mr. Anderson feel that if he could
only succeed in having her and the pair of ponies he would be a prouder
man than the ambassador at Paris. But he knew that it was hopeless. "As
to my mother, that is indeed a sorrow. She has been to me the dearest
mother, putting her only hopes of happiness in me. No mother was ever
more devoted to a child, and of all children I should be the most
ungrateful were I to turn against her. But from my early years she has
wished me to marry a man whom I could not bring myself to love. You have
heard of Captain Scarborough?"

"The man who disappeared?"

"He was and is my first cousin."

"He is in some way connected with Sir Magnus."

"Through mamma. Mamma is aunt to Captain Scarborough, and she married
the brother of Sir Magnus. Well, he has disappeared and been
disinherited. I cannot explain all about it, for I don't understand it;
but he has come to great trouble. It was not on that account that I
would not marry him. It was partly because I did not like him, and
partly because of Harry Annesley. I will tell you everything because I
want you to know my story. But my mother has disliked Mr. Annesley,
because she has thought that he has interfered with my cousin."

"I understand all that."

"And she has been taught to think that Mr. Annesley has behaved very
badly. I cannot quite explain it, because there is a brother of Captain
Scarborough who has interfered. I never loved Captain Scarborough, but
that man I hate. He has spread those stories. Captain Scarborough has
disappeared, but before he went he thought it well to revenge himself on
Mr. Annesley. He attacked him in the street late at night, and
endeavored to beat him."

"But why?"

"Why indeed. That such a trumpery cause as a girl's love should operate
with such a man!"

"I can understand it; oh yes,--I can understand it."

"I believe he was tipsy, and he had been gambling, and had lost all his
money--more than all his money. He was a ruined man, and reckless and
wretched. I can forgive him, and so does Harry. But in the struggle
Harry got the best of it, and left him there in the street. No weapons
had been used, except that Captain Scarborough had a stick. There was no
reason to suppose him hurt, nor was he much hurt. He had behaved very
badly, and Harry left him. Had he gone for a policeman he could only
have given him in charge. The man was not hurt, and seems to have walked
away."

"The papers were full of it."

"Yes, the papers were full of it, because he was missing. I don't know
yet what became of him, but I have my suspicions."

"They say that he has been seen at Monaco."

"Very likely. But I have nothing to do with that. Though he was my
cousin, I am touched nearer in another place. Young Mr. Scarborough,
who, I suspect, knows all about his brother, took upon himself to
cross-question Mr. Annesley. Mr. Annesley did not care to tell anything
of that struggle in the streets, and denied that he had seen him. In
truth, he did not want to have my name mentioned. My belief is that
Augustus Scarborough knew exactly what had taken place when he asked the
question. It was he who really was false. But he is now the heir to
Tretton and a great man in his way, and in order to injure Harry
Annesley he has spread abroad the story which they all tell here."

"But why?"

"He does;--that is all I know. But I will not be a hypocrite. He chose to
wish that I should not marry Harry Annesley. I cannot tell you farther
than that. But he has persuaded mamma, and has told every one. He shall
never persuade me."

"Everybody seems to believe him," said Mr. Anderson, not as intending to
say that he believed him now, but that he had done so.

"Of course they do. He has simply ruined Harry. He too has been
disinherited now. I don't know how they do these things, but it has been
done. His uncle has been turned against him, and his whole income has
been taken from him. But they will never persuade me. Nor, if they did,
would I be untrue to him. It is a grand thing for a girl to have a
perfect faith in the man she has to marry, as I have--as I have. I know
my man, and will as soon disbelieve in Heaven as in him. But were he
what they say he is, he would still have to become my husband. I should
be broken-hearted, but I should still be true. Thank God, though,--thank
God,--he has done nothing and will do nothing to make me ashamed of him.
Now you know my story."

"Yes; now I know it." The tears came very near the poor man's eyes as he
answered.

"And what will you do for me?"

"What shall I do?"

"Yes; what will you do? I have told you all my story, believing you to
be a fine-tempered gentleman. You have entertained a fancy which has
been encouraged by Sir Magnus. Will you promise me not to speak to me of
it again? Will you relieve me of so much of my trouble? Will you;--will
you?" Then, when he turned away, she followed him, and put both her
hands upon his arm. "Will you do that little thing for me?"

"A little thing!"

"Is it not a little thing,--when I am so bound to that other man that
nothing can move me? Whether it be little or whether it be much, will
you not do it?" She still held him by the arm, but his face was turned
from her so that she could not see it. The tears, absolute tears, were
running down his cheeks. What did it behoove him as a man to do? Was he
to believe her vows now and grant her request, and was she then to give
herself to some third person and forget Harry Annesley altogether? How
would it be with him then? A faint heart never won a fair lady. All is
fair in love and war. You cannot catch cherries by holding your mouth
open. A great amount of wisdom such as this came to him at the spur of
the moment. But there was her hand upon his arm, and he could not elude
her request. "Will you not do it for me?" she asked again.

"I will," he said, still keeping his face turned away.

"I knew it;--I knew you would. You are high-minded and honest, and cannot
be cruel to a poor girl. And if in time to come, when I am Harry
Annesley's wife, we shall chance to meet each other,--as we will,--he
shall thank you."

"I shall not want that. What will his thanks do for me? You do not think
that I shall be silent to oblige him?" Then he walked forth from out of
the garden, and she had never seen his tears. But she knew well that he
was weeping, and she sympathized with him.



CHAPTER XXXII.

MR. ANDERSON IS ILL.


When they went down to dinner that day it became known that Mr. Anderson
did not intend to dine with them. "He's got a headache," said Sir
Magnus. "He says he's got a headache. I never knew such a thing in my
life before." It was quite clear that Sir Magnus did not think that his
lieutenant ought to have such a headache as would prevent his coming to
dinner, and that he did not quite believe in the headache. There was a
dinner ready, a very good dinner, which it was his business to provide.
He always did provide it, and took a great deal of trouble to see that
it was good. "There isn't a table so well kept in all Brussels," he used
to boast. But when he had done his share he expected that Anderson and
Arbuthnot should do theirs, especially Anderson. There had been
sometimes a few words,--not quite a quarrel but nearly so,--on the subject
of dining out. Sir Magnus only dined out with royalty, cabinet
ministers, and other diplomats. Even then he rarely got a good
dinner--what he called a good dinner. He often took Anderson with him.
He was the _doyen_ among the diplomats in Brussels, and a little
indulgence was shown to him. Therefore he thought that Anderson should
be as true to him as was he to Anderson. It was not for Anderson's sake,
indeed, who felt the bondage to be irksome;--and Sir Magnus knew that his
subordinate sometimes groaned in spirit. But a good dinner is a good
dinner,--especially the best dinner in Brussels,--and Sir Magnus felt that
something ought to be given in return. He had not that perfect faith in
mankind which is the surest evidence of a simple mind. Ideas crowded
upon him. Had Anderson a snug little dinner-party, just two or three
friends, in his own room? Sir Magnus would not have been very angry,--he
was rarely very angry,--but he should like to show his cleverness by
finding it out. Anderson had been quite well when he was out riding, and
he did not remember him ever before to have had a headache. "Is he very
bad, Arbuthnot?"

"I haven't seen him, sir, since he was riding."

"Who has seen him?"

"He was in the garden with me," said Florence, boldly.

"I suppose that did not give him a headache."

"Not that I perceived."

"It is very singular that he should have a headache just when dinner is
ready," continued Sir Magnus.

"You had better leave the young man alone," said Lady Mountjoy.

And one who knew the ways of living at the British Embassy would be sure
that after this Sir Magnus would not leave the young man alone. His
nature was not simple. It seemed to him again that there might be a
little dinner-party, and that Lady Mountjoy knew all about it.
"Richard," he said to the butler, "go into Mr. Anderson's room and see
if he is very bad." Richard came back, and whispered to the great man
that Anderson was not in his room. "This is very remarkable. A bad
headache, and not in his room! Where is he? I insist on knowing where
Mr. Anderson is!"

"You had better leave him alone," said Lady Mountjoy.

"Leave a man alone because he's ill! He might die."

"Shall I go and see?" said Arbuthnot.

"I wish you would, and bring him in here, if he's well enough to show. I
don't approve of a young man going without his dinner. There's nothing
so bad."

"He'll be sure to get something, Sir Magnus," said Lady Mountjoy. But
Sir Magnus insisted that Mr. Arbuthnot should go and look after his
friend.

It was now November, and at eight o'clock was quite dark, but the
weather was fine, and something of the mildness of autumn remained.
Arbuthnot was not long in discovering that Mr. Anderson was again
walking in the garden. He had left Florence there and had gone to the
house, but had found himself to be utterly desolate and miserable. She
had exacted from him a promise which was not compatible with any kind of
happiness to which he could now look forward. In the first place, all
Brussels knew that he had been in love with Florence Mountjoy. He
thought that all Brussels knew it. And they knew that he had been in
earnest in this love. He did believe that all Brussels had given him
credit for so much. And now they would know that he had suddenly ceased
to make love. It might be that this should be attributed to gallantry on
his part,--that it should be considered that the lady had been deserted.
But he was conscious that he was not so good a hypocrite as not to show
that he was broken-hearted. He was quite sure that it would be seen that
he had got the worst of it. But when he asked himself questions as to
his own condition he told himself that there was suffering in store for
him more heavy to bear than these. There could be no ponies, with
Florence driving them, and a boy in his own livery behind, seen upon the
boulevards. That vision was gone, and forever. And then came upon him an
idea that the absence of the girl from other portions of his life might
touch him more nearly. He did feel something like actual love. And the
more she had told him of her devotion to Harry Annesley, the more
strongly he had felt the value of that devotion. Why should this man
have it and not he? He had not been disinherited. He had not been
knocked about in a street quarrel. He had not been driven to tell a lie
as to his having not seen a man when he had, in truth, knocked him down.
He had quite agreed with Florence that Harry was justified in the lie;
but there was nothing in it to make the girl love him the better for it.

And then, looking forward, he could perceive the possibility of an event
which, if it should occur, would cover him with confusion and disgrace.
If, after all, Florence were to take, not Harry Annesley, but somebody
else? How foolish, how credulous, how vain would he have been then to
have made the promise! Girls did such things every day. He had promised,
and he thought that he must keep his promise; but she would be bound by
no promise! As he thought of it, he reflected that he might even yet
exact such a promise from her.

But when the dinner-time came he really was sick with love,--or sick with
disappointment. He felt that he could not eat his dinner under the
battery of raillery which was always coming from Sir Magnus, and
therefore he had told the servants that as the evening progressed he
would have something to eat in his own room. And then he went out to
wander in the dusk beneath the trees in the garden. Here he was
encountered by Mr. Arbuthnot, with his dress boots and white cravat.
"What the mischief are you doing here, old fellow?"

"I'm not very well. I have an awfully bilious headache."

"Sir Magnus is kicking up a deuce of a row because you're not there."

"Sir Magnus be blowed! How am I to be there if I've got a bilious
headache? I'm not dressed. I could not have dressed myself for a
five-pound note."

"Couldn't you, now? Shall I go back and tell him that? But you must have
something to eat. I don't know what's up, but Sir Magnus is in a
taking."

"He's always in a taking. I sometimes think he's the biggest fool out."

"And there's the place kept vacant next to Miss Mountjoy. Grascour
wanted to sit there, but her ladyship wouldn't let him. And I sat next
Miss Abbott because I didn't want to be in your way."

"Tell Grascour to go and sit there, or you may do so. It's all nothing
to me." This he said in the bitterness of his heart, by no means
intending to tell his secret, but unable to keep it within his own
bosom.

"What's the matter, Anderson?" asked the other piteously.

"I am clean broken-hearted. I don't mind telling you. I know you're a
good fellow, and I'll tell you everything. It's all over."

"All over--with Miss Mountjoy?" Then Anderson began to tell the whole
story; but before he had got half through, or a quarter through, another
message came from Sir Magnus. "Sir Magnus is becoming very angry
indeed," whispered the butler. "He says that Mr. Arbuthnot is to go
back."

"I'd better go, or I shall catch it."

"What's up with him, Richard?" asked Anderson.

"Well, if you ask me, Mr. Anderson, I think he's--a-suspecting of
something."

"What does he suspect?"

"I think he's a-thinking that perhaps you are having a jolly time of
it." Richard had known his master many years, and could almost read his
inmost thoughts. "I don't say as it so, but that's what I am thinking."

"You tell him I ain't. You tell him I've a bad bilious headache, and
that the air in the garden does it good. You tell him that I mean to
have something to eat up-stairs when my head is better; and do you mind
and let me have it, and a bottle of claret."

With this the butler went back, and so did Arbuthnot, after asking one
other question: "I'm so sorry it isn't all serene with Miss Mountjoy?"

"It isn't then. Don't mind now, but it isn't serene. Don't say a word
about her; but she has done me. I think I shall get leave of absence and
go away for two months. You'll have to do all the riding, old fellow. I
shall go,--but I don't know where I shall go. You return to them now, and
tell them I've such a bilious headache I don't know which way to turn
myself."

Arbuthnot went back, and found Sir Magnus quarrelling grievously with
the butler. "I don't think he's doing anything as he shouldn't," the
butler whispered, having seen into his master's mind.

"What do you mean by that?"

"Do let the matter drop," said Lady Mountjoy, who had also seen into her
husband's mind, and saw, moreover, that the butler had done so. "A young
man's dinner isn't worth all this bother."

"I won't let the matter drop. What does he mean when he says that he
isn't doing anything that he shouldn't? I've never said anything about
what he was doing."

"He isn't dressed, Sir Magnus. He finds himself a little better now, and
means to have something up-stairs." Then there came an awful silence,
during which the dinner was eaten. Sir Magnus knew nothing of the truth,
simply suspecting the headache to be a myth. Lady Mountjoy, with a
woman's quickness, thought that there had been some words between
Florence and her late lover, and, as she disliked Florence, was inclined
to throw all the blame upon her. A word had been said to Mrs.
Mountjoy,--"I don't think he'll trouble me any more, mamma,"--which Mrs.
Mountjoy did not quite understand, but which she connected with the
young man's absence. But Florence understood it all, and liked Mr.
Anderson the better. Could it really be that for love of her he would
lose his dinner? Could it be that he was so grievously afflicted at the
loss of a girl's heart? There he was, walking out in the dark and the
cold, half-famished, all because she loved Harry Annesley so well that
there could be no chance for him! Girls believe so little in the truth
of the love of men that any sign of its reality touches them to the
core. Poor Hugh Anderson! A tear came into her eye as she thought that
he was wandering there in the dark, and all for the love of her. The
rest of the dinner passed away in silence, and Sir Magnus hardly became
cordial and communicative with M. Grascour, even under the influence of
his wine.

On the next morning just before lunch Florence was waylaid by Mr.
Anderson as she was passing along one of the passages in the back part
of the house. "Miss Mountjoy," he said, "I want to ask from your great
goodness the indulgence of a few words."

"Certainly."

"Could you come into the garden?"

"If you will give me time to go and change my boots and get a shawl. We
ladies are not ready to go out always, as are you gentlemen."

"Anywhere will do. Come in here," and he led the way into a small parlor
which was not often used.

"I was so sorry to hear last night that you were unwell, Mr. Anderson."

"I was not very well, certainly, after what I had heard before dinner."
He did not tell her that he so far recovered as to be able to drink a
bottle of claret and to smoke a couple of cigars in his bedroom. "Of
course you remember what took place yesterday."

"Remember! Oh yes. I shall not readily forget it."

"I made you a promise--"

"You did--very kindly."

"And I mean to keep it."

"I'm sure you do, because you're a gentleman."

"I don't think I ought to have made it."

"Oh, Mr. Anderson!"

"I don't think I ought. See what I am giving up."

"Nothing, except the privilege of troubling me."

"But if it should be something else? Do not be angry with me, but,
loving you as I do, of course my mind is full of it. I have promised,
and must be dumb."

"And I shall be spared great vexation."

"But suppose I were to hear that in six months' time you had married
some one else?"

"Mr. Annesley, you mean. Not in six months."

"Somebody else. Not Mr. Annesley."

"There is nobody else."

"But there might be."

"It is impossible. After all that I told you, do not you understand?"

"But if there were?" The poor man, as he made the suggestion, looked
very piteous. "If there were, I think you should promise me I shall be
that somebody else. That would be no more than fair."

She paused a moment to think, frowning the while. "Certainly not."

"Certainly not?"

"I can make no such promise, nor should you ask it. I am to promise that
under certain circumstances I would become your wife, when I know that
under no circumstances I would do so."

"Under no circumstances?"

"Under none. What would you have me say, Mr. Anderson? Supposing
yourself engaged to marry a girl--"

"I wish I were--to you."

"To a girl who loved you, and whom you loved?"

"There's no doubt about my loving her."

"You can follow my meaning, and I wish that you would do so. What would
you think if you were to hear that she had promised to marry some one
else in the event of your deserting her? It is out of the question. I
mean to be the wife of Harry Annesley. Say that it is not to be so, and
you will simply destroy me. Of one thing I may be sure,--that I will
marry him or nobody. You promised me, not because your promise was
necessary for that, but to spare me from trouble till that time shall
come. And I am grateful,--very grateful." Then she left him suffering
from another headache.

"Was there anything said between you and Mr. Anderson yesterday?" her
aunt inquired, that afternoon.

"Why do you ask?"

"Because it is necessary that I should know."

"I do not see the necessity. Mr. Anderson has, at any rate, your
permission to say what he likes to me, but I am not on that account
bound to tell you all that he does say. But I will tell you. He has
promised to trouble me no farther. I told him that I was engaged to Mr.
Annesley, and he, like a gentleman, has assured me that he will desist."

"Just because you asked him?"

"Yes, aunt; just because I asked him."

"He will not be bound by such a promise for a moment. It is a thing not
to be heard of. If that kind of thing is to go on, any young lady will
be entitled to ask any young gentleman not to say a word of marriage,
just at her request."

"Some of the young ladies would not care for that, perhaps."

"Don't be impertinent."

"I should not, for one, aunt; only that I am already engaged."

"And of course the young ladies would be bound to make such requests,
which would go for nothing at all. I never heard of anything so
monstrous. You are not only to have the liberty of refusing, but are to
be allowed to bind a gentleman not to ask!"

"He has promised."

"Pshaw! It means nothing."

"It is between him and me. I asked him because I wished to save myself
from being troubled."

"As for that other man, my dear, it is quite out of the question. From
all that I hear, it is on the cards that he may be arrested and put into
prison. I am quite sure that at any rate he deserves it. The letters
which Sir Magnus gets about him are fearful. The things that he has
done,--well, penal servitude for life would be the proper punishment. And
it will come upon him sooner or later. I never knew a man of that kind
escape. And you now to come and tell us that you intend to be his wife!"

"I do," said Florence, bobbing her head.

"And what your uncle says to you has no effect?"

"Not the least in the world; nor what my aunt says. I believe that
neither the one nor the other know what they are talking about. You have
been defaming a gentleman of the highest character, a Fellow of a
college, a fine-hearted, noble, high-spirited man, simply
because--because--because--" Then she burst into tears and rushed out of
the room; but she did not break down before she had looked at her aunt,
and spoken to her aunt with a fierce indignation which had altogether
served to silence Lady Mountjoy for the moment.



PART II.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

MR. BARRY.


"Good-bye, sir. You ought not to be angry with me. I am sure it will be
better for us both to remain as we are." This was said by Miss Dorothy
Grey, as a gentleman departed from her and made his way out of the
front-door at the Fulham Manor-house. Miss Grey had received an offer of
marriage, and had declined it. The offer had been made by a worthy man,
he being no other than her father's partner, Mr. Barry.

It may be remembered that, on discussing the affairs of the firm with
her father, Dolly Grey had been accustomed to call this partner "the
Devil." It was not that she had thought this partner to be specially
devilish, nor was he so. It had ever been Miss Grey's object to have the
affairs of the firm managed with an integrity which among lawyers might
be called Quixotic. Her father she had dubbed "Reason," and herself
"Conscience;" but in calling Mr. Barry "the Devil" she had not intended
to signify any defalcation from honesty more than ordinary in lawyers'
offices. She did, in fact, like Mr. Barry. He would occasionally come
out and dine with her father. He was courteous and respectful, and
performed his duties with diligence. He spent nobody's money but his
own, and not all of that; nor did he look upon the world as a place to
which men were sent that they might play. He was nearly forty years old,
was clean, a little bald, and healthy in all his ways. There was nothing
of a devil about him, except that his conscience was not peculiarly
attentive to abstract honesty and abstract virtue. There must, according
to him, be always a little "give and take" in the world; but in the
pursuit of his profession he gave a great deal more than he took. He
thought himself to be an honest practitioner, and yet in all domestic
professional conferences with her father Mr. Barry had always been Miss
Grey's "Devil."

The possibility of such a request as had been now made had been already
discussed between Dolly and her father. Dolly had said that the idea was
absurd. Mr. Grey had not seen the absurdity. There had been nothing more
common, he had said, than that a young partner should marry an old
partner's daughter. "It's not put into the partnership deed?" Dolly had
rejoined. But Dolly had never believed that the time would come. Now it
had come.

Mr. Barry had as yet possessed no more than a fourth of the business. He
had come in without any capital, and had been contented with a fourth.
He now suggested to Dolly that on their marriage the business should be
equally divided. And he had named the house in which they would live.
There was a pleasant, genteel residence on the other side of the water,
at Putney. Miss Grey had suggested that the business might be divided in
a manner that would be less burdensome to Mr. Barry. As for the house,
she could not leave her father. Upon the whole, she had thought that it
would be better for both of them that they should remain as they were.
By that Miss Grey had not intended to signify that Mr. Barry was to
remain single, but that he would have to do so in reference to Miss
Grey.

When he was gone Dolly Grey spent the remainder of the afternoon in
contemplating what would have been her condition had she agreed to join
her lot to that of Mr. Barry, and she came to the conclusion that it
would have been simply unendurable. There was nothing of romance in her
nature; but as she looked at matrimony, with all its blisses,--and Mr.
Barry among them,--she told herself that death would be preferable. "I
know myself," she said. "I should come to hate him with a miserable
hatred. And then I should hate myself for having done him so great an
evil." And as she continued thinking she assured herself that there was
but one man with whom she could live, and that that was her father. And
then other questions presented themselves to her, which were not so
easily answered. What would become of her when he should go? He was now
sixty-six, and she was only thirty-two. He was healthy for his age, but
would complain of his work. She knew that he must in course of nature go
much the first. Ten years he might live, while she might probably be
called upon to endure for thirty more. "I shall have to do it all
alone," she said; "all alone; without a companion, without one soul to
whom I can open my own. But if I were to marry Mr. Barry," she
continued, "I should at once be encumbered with a soul to whom I could
not open my own. I suppose I shall be enabled to live through it, as do
others." Then she began to prepare for her father's coming. As long as
he did remain with her she would make the most of him.

"Papa," she said, as she took him by the hand as he entered the house
and led him into the dining-room,--"who do you think has been here?"

"Mr. Barry."

"Then he has told you?"

"Not a word,--not even that he was coming. But I saw him as he left the
chambers, and he had on a bright hat and a new coat."

"And he thought that those could move me."

"I have not known that he has wanted to move you. You asked me to guess,
and I have guessed right, it seems."

"Yes; you have guessed right."

"And why did he come?"

"Only to ask me to be his wife."

"And what did you say to him, Dolly?"

"What did I say to the Devil?" She still held him by the hand, and now
she laughed lightly as she looked into his face. "Cannot you guess what
I said to him?"

"I am sorry for it;--that's all."

"Sorry for it? Oh, papa, do not say that you are sorry. Do you want to
lose me?"

"I do not want to think that for my own selfish purposes I have retained
you. So he has asked you?"

"Yes; he has asked me."

"And you have answered him positively?"

"Most positively."

"And for my sake?"

"No, papa; I have not said that. I was joking when I asked whether you
wished to lose me. Of course you do not want to lose me." Then she wound
her arm round him, and put up her face to be kissed. "But now come and
dress yourself, as you call it. The dinner is late. We will talk about
it again after dinner."

But immediately after dinner the conversation went away to Mr.
Scarborough and the Scarborough matters. "I am to see Augustus, and he
is to tell me something about Mountjoy and his affairs. They say that
Mountjoy is now in Paris. The money can be given to them now, if he will
consent and will sign the deed releasing the property. But the men have
not all as yet agreed to accept the simple sums which they advanced.
That fellow Hart stands out, and says that he would sooner lose it all."

"Then he will lose it all," said Dolly.

"But the squire will consent to pay nothing unless they all agree.
Augustus is talking about his excessive generosity."

"It is generous on his part," said Dolly.

"He sees his own advantage, though I cannot quite understand where. He
tells Tyrrwhit that as there is so great an increase to the property he
is willing, for the sake of the good name of the family, to pay all that
has been in truth advanced; but he is most anxious to do it now, while
his father is alive. I think he fears that there will be lawsuits, and
that they may succeed. I doubt whether he thanks his father."

"But why should his father lie for his sake, since they are on such bad
terms?"

"Because his father was on worse terms with Mountjoy when he told the
lie. That is what I think Augustus thinks. But his father told no lie at
that time, and cannot now go back to falsehood. My belief is that if he
were confident that such is the fact he would not surrender a shilling
to pay these men their moneys. He may stop a lawsuit, which is like
enough, though they could only lose it. And if Mountjoy should turn out
to be the heir, which is impossible, he will be able to turn round and
say that by his efforts he had saved so much of the property."

"My head becomes so bewildered," said Dolly, "that I can hardly
understand it yet."

"I think I understand it; but I can only guess at his mind. But he has
got Tyrrwhit to accept forty thousand pounds, which is the sum he, in
truth, advanced. The stake is too great for the man to lose it without
ruin. He can get it back now, and save himself. But Hart is the more
determined blackguard. He, with two others, has a claim for thirty-five
thousand pounds, for which he has given but ten thousand pounds in hard
cash, and he thinks that he may get some profit out of Tyrrwhit's money,
and holds out."

"For how much?"

"For the entire debt, he tells me; but I know that he is trying to deal
with Tyrrwhit. Tyrrwhit would pay him five thousand, I think, so as to
secure the immediate payment of his own money. Then there are a host of
others who are contented to take what they have advanced, but not
contented if Hart is to have more. There are other men in the background
who advanced the money. All the rascaldom of London is let loose upon
me. But Hart is the one man who holds his head the highest."

"But if they will accept no terms they will get nothing," said Dolly.
"If once they attempt to go to law all will be lost."

"There are wheels within wheels. When the old man dies Mountjoy himself
will probably put in a claim to the entire estate, and will get some
lawyer to take up the case for him."

"You would not?"

"Certainly not, because I know that Augustus is the eldest legitimate
son. As far as I can make it out, Augustus is at present allowing
Mountjoy the money on which he lives. His father does not. But the old
man must know that Augustus does, though he pretends to be ignorant."

"But why is Hart to get money out of Tyrrwhit?"

"To secure the payment of the remainder. Mr. Tyrrwhit would be very glad
to get his forty thousand pounds back; would pay five thousand pounds to
get the forty back. But nothing will be paid unless they all agree to
join in freeing the property. Therefore Hart, who is the sharpest rascal
of the lot, stands out for some share of his contemplated plunder."

"And you must be joined in such an arrangement?"

"Not at all. I cannot help surmising what is to be done. In dealing with
the funds of the property I go to the men, and say to them so much, and
so much, and so much you have actually lost. Agree among yourselves to
accept that, and it shall be paid to you. That is honest?"

"I do not know."

"But I do. Every shilling that the son of my client has had from them my
client is ready to pay. There is some hitch among them, and I make my
surmises. But I have no dealings with them. It is for them to come to me
now." Dolly only shook her head. "You cannot touch pitch and not be
defiled." That was what Dolly said, but said it to herself. And then she
went on and declared to herself still farther, that Mr. Barry was pitch.
She knew that Mr. Barry had seen Hart, and had seen Tyrrwhit, and had
been bargaining with them. She excused her father because he was her
father; but according to her thinking there should have been no
dealings with such men as these, except at the end of a pair of tongs.

"And now, Dolly," said her father, after a long pause, "tell me about
Mr. Barry."

"There is nothing more to be told."

"Not of what you said to him, but of the reasons which have made you so
determined. Would it not be better for you to be married?"

"If I could choose my husband."

"Whom would you choose?"

"You."

"That is nonsense. I am your father."

"You know what I mean. There is no one else among my circle of
acquaintances with whom I should care to live. There is no one else with
whom I should care to do more than die. When I look at it all round it
seems to be absolutely impossible. That I should on a sudden entertain
habits of the closest intimacy with such a one as Mr. Barry! What should
I say to him when he went forth in the morning? How should I welcome him
when he came back at night? What would be our breakfast, and what would
be our dinner? Think what are yours and mine,--all the little
solicitudes, all the free abuse, all the certainty of an affection which
has grown through so many years; all the absolute assurance on the part
of each that the one does really know the inner soul of the other."

"It would come."

"With Mr. Barry? That is your idea of my soul with which you have been
in communion for so many years? In the first place, you think that I am
a person likely to be able to transfer myself suddenly to the first man
that comes my way?"

"Gradually you might do so,--at any rate so as to make life possible. You
will be all alone. Think what it will be to have to live all alone."

"I have thought. I do know that it would be well that you should be able
to take me with you."

"But I cannot."

"No. There is the hardship. You must leave me, and I must be alone. That
is what we have to expect. But for her sake, and for mine, we may be
left while we can be left. What would you be without me? Think of that."

"I should bear it."

"You couldn't. You'd break your heart and die. And if you can imagine my
living there, and pouring out Mr. Barry's tea for him, you must imagine
also what I should have to say to myself about you. 'He will die, of
course. But then he has come to that sort of age at which it doesn't
much signify.' Then I should go on with Mr. Barry's tea. He'd come to
kiss me when he went away, and I--should plunge a knife into him."

"Dolly!"

"Or into myself, which would be more likely. Fancy that man calling me
Dolly." Then she got up and stood behind his chair and put her arm round
his neck. "Would you like to kiss him?--or any man, for the matter of
that? There is no one else to whom my fancy strays, but I think that I
should murder them all,--or commit suicide. In the first place, I should
want my husband to be a gentleman. There are not a great many gentlemen
about."

"You are fastidious."

"Come now;--be honest; is our Mr. Barry a gentleman?" Then there was a
pause, during which she waited for a reply. "I will have an answer. I
have a right to demand an answer to that question, since you have
proposed the man to me as a husband."

"Nay, I have not proposed him."

"You have expressed a regret that I have not accepted him. Is he a
gentleman?"

"Well;--yes; I think he is."

"Mind; we are sworn, and you are bound to speak the truth. What right
has he to be a gentleman? Who was his father and who was his mother? Of
what kind were his nursery belongings? He has become an attorney, and so
have you. But has there been any one to whisper to him among his
teachings that in that profession, as in all others, there should be a
sense of high honor to guide him? He must not cheat, or do anything to
cause him to be struck off the rolls; but is it not with him what his
client wants, and not what honor demands? And in the daily intercourse
of life would he satisfy what you call my fastidiousness?"

"Nothing on earth will ever do that."

"You do. I agree with you that nothing else on earth ever will. The man
who might, won't come. Not that I can imagine such a man, because I know
that I am spoiled. Of course there are gentlemen, though not a great
many. But he mustn't be ugly and he mustn't be good-looking. He mustn't
seem to be old, and certainly he mustn't seem to be young. I should not
like a man to wear old clothes, but he mustn't wear new. He must be well
read, but never show it. He must work hard, but he must come home to
dinner at the proper time." Here she laughed, and gently shook her head.
"He must never talk about his business at night. Though, dear, darling
old father, he shall do that if he will talk like you. And then, which
is the hardest thing of all, I must have known him intimately for at any
rate, ten years. As for Mr. Barry, I never should know him intimately,
though I were married to him for ten years."

"And it has all been my doing?"

"Just so. You have made the bed and you must lie on it. It hasn't been a
bad bed."

"Not for me. Heaven knows it has not been bad for me."

"Nor for me, as things go; only that there will come an arousing before
we shall be ready to get up together. Your time will probably be the
first. I can better afford to lose you than you to lose me."

"God send that it shall be so!"

"It is nature," she said. "It is to be expected, and will on that
account be the less grievous because it has been expected. I shall have
to devote myself to those Carroll children. I sometimes think that the
work of the world should not be made pleasant to us. What profit will it
be to me to have done my duty by you? I think there will be some profit
if I am good to my cousins."

"At any rate, you won't have Mr. Barry?" said the father.

"Not if I know it," said the daughter; "and you, I think, are a wicked
old man to suggest it." Then she bade him good-night and went to bed,
for they had been talking now till near twelve.

But Mr. Barry, when he had gone home, told himself that he had
progressed in his love-suit quite as far as he had expected on the first
opportunity. He went over the bridge and looked at the genteel house,
and resolved as to certain little changes which should be made. Thus one
room should look here, and the nursery should look there. The walk to
the railway would only take five minutes, and there would be five
minutes again from the Temple Station in London. He thought it would do
very well for domestic felicity. And as for a fortune, half the business
would not be bad. And then the whole business would follow, and he in
his turn would be enabled to let some young fellow in who should do the
greater part of the work and take the smaller part of the pay, as had
been the case with himself.

But it had not occurred to him that the young lady had meant what she
said when she refused him. It was the ordinary way with young ladies. Of
course he had expected no enthusiasm of love;--nor had he wanted it. He
would wait for three weeks and then he would go to Fulham again.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

MR. JUNIPER.


Though there was an air of badinage, almost of tomfoolery, about Dolly
when she spoke of her matrimonial prospects to her father,--as when she
said that she would "stick a knife" into Mr. Barry,--still there was a
seriousness in all she said which was more than grave. She was pathetic
and melancholy. She knew that there was nothing before her but to stay
with her father, and then to devote herself to her cousins, from whom
she was aware that she recoiled almost with hatred. And she knew that it
would be a good thing to be married,--if only the right man would come.
The right man would have to bear with her father, and live in the same
house with him to the end. The right man must be a _preux chevalier sans
peur et sans reproche_. The right man must be strong-minded and
masterful, and must have a will of his own; but he must be strong-minded
always for good. And where was she to find such a man as this? she who
was only an attorney's daughter,--plain, too, and with many
eccentricities. She was not intended to marry, and consequently the only
man who came in her way was her father's partner, for whom, in regard to
a share in the business, she might be desirable.

Devotion to the Carroll cousins was manifestly her duty. The two eldest
girls she absolutely did hate, and their father. To hate the father,
because he was vicious beyond cure, might be very well; but she could
not hate the girls without being aware that she was guilty of a grievous
sin. Every taste possessed by them was antagonistic to her. Their
amusements, their literature, their clothes, their manners,--especially
in regard to men,--their gestures and color, were distasteful to her.
"They hide their dirt with a thin veneer of cheap finery," said Dolly to
her father. He had replied by telling her that she was nasty. "No; but,
unfortunately, I cannot but see nastiness." Dolly herself was clean to
fastidiousness. Take off her coarse frock, and there the well-dressed
lady began. "Look at the heels of Sophie's boots! Give her a push, and
she'd fall off her pins as though they were stilts. They're always
asking to have a shoemaker's bill paid, and yet they won't wear stout
boots." "I'll pay the man," she said to Amelia one day, "if you'll
promise to wear what I'll buy you for the next six months." But Amelia
had only turned up her nose. These were the relatives to whom it would
become her duty to devote her life!

The next morning she started off to call in Bolsover Terrace with an
intention, not to begin her duty, but to make a struggle at the adequate
performance of it. She took with her some article of clothing intended
for one of the younger children, but which the child herself was to
complete. But when she entered the parlor she was astounded at finding
that Mr. Carroll was there. It was nearly twelve o'clock, and at that
time Mr. Carroll never was there. He was either in bed, or at
Tattersall's, or--Dolly did not care where. She had long since made up
her mind that there must be a permanent quarrel between herself and her
uncle, and her desire was generally respected. Now, unfortunately, he
was present, and with him were his wife and two elder daughters. To be
devoted, thought Dolly to herself, to such a family as this,--and without
anybody else in the world to care for! She gave her aunt a kiss, and
touched the girls' hands, and made a very distant bow to Mr. Carroll.
Then she began about the parcel in her hands, and, having given her
instructions, was preparing to depart.

But her aunt stopped her. "I think you ought to know, Dorothea."

"Certainly," said Mr. Carroll. "It is quite right that your cousin
should know."

"If you think it proper, I'm sure I can't object," said Amelia.

"She won't approve, I'm sure," said Sophie.

"Her young man has come forward and spoken," said Mr. Carroll.

"And quite in a proper spirit," said Amelia.

"Of course," said Mrs. Carroll, "we are not to expect too much. Though
we are respectable in birth, and all that, we are poor. Mr. Carroll has
got nothing to give her."

"I've been the most unfortunate man in the world," said Mr. Carroll.

"We won't talk about that now," continued Mrs. Carroll. "Here we are
without anything."

"You have decent blood," said Dolly; "at any rate on one side,"--for she
did not believe in the Carrolls.

"On both,--on both," said Mr. Carroll, rising up, and putting his hand
upon his heart. "I can boast of royal blood among my ancestors."

"But here we are without anything," said Mrs. Carroll again. "Mr.
Juniper is a most respectable man."

"He has been attached to some of the leading racing establishments in
the kingdom," said Mr. Carroll. Dolly had heard of Mr. Juniper as a
trainer, though she did not accurately know what a trainer meant.

"He is almost as great a man as the owner, for the matter of that," said
Amelia, standing up for her lover.

"He is not to say young,--perhaps forty," said Mrs. Carroll, "and he has
a very decent house of his own at Newmarket." Dolly immediately began to
think whether this might be for the better or for the worse. Newmarket
was a long way off, and the girl would be taken away; and it might be a
good thing to dispose of one of such a string of daughters, even to Mr.
Juniper. Of course there would be the disagreeable nature of the
connection. But, as Dolly had once said to her father, their share of
the world's burdens had to be borne, and this was one of them. Her first
cousin must marry the trainer. She, who had spoken so enthusiastically
about gentlemen, must put up with it. She knew that Mr. Juniper was but
a small man in his own line, but she would never disown him by word of
mouth. He should be her cousin Juniper. But she did hope that she might
not be called upon to see him frequently. After all, he might be much
more respectable than Mr. Carroll.

"I am glad he has a house of his own," said Dolly.

"It is a much better house than Fulham Manor," said Amelia.

Dolly was angered, not at the comparison between the houses, but at the
ingratitude and insolence of the girl. "Very well," said she, addressing
herself to her aunt; "if her parents are contented, of course it is not
for me or for papa to be discontented. The thing to think of is the
honesty of the man and his industry,--not the excellence of the house."

"But you seemed to think that we were to live in a pigsty," said Amelia.

"Mr. Juniper stands very high on the turf," said Mr. Carroll. "Mr.
Leadabit's horses have always run straight, and Mousetrap won the
Two-year-old Trial Stakes last spring, giving two pounds to
Box-and-Cox. A good-looking, tall fellow. You remember seeing him here
once last summer." This was addressed to Miss Grey; but Miss Grey had
made up her mind never to exchange a word with Mr. Carroll.

"When is it to be, my dear?" said Miss Grey, turning to the ladies, but
intending to address herself to Amelia. She had already made up her mind
to forgive the girl for her insolence about the house. If the girl was
to be taken away, there was so much the more reason for forgiving her
that and other things.

"Oh! I thought that you did not mean to speak to me at all," said
Amelia. "I supposed the cut was to be extended from papa to me."

"Amelia, how can you be so silly?" said the mother.

"If you think I'm going to put up with that kind of thing, you're
mistaken," said Amelia. She had got not only a lover but a husband in
prospect, and was much superior to her cousin,--who had neither one or
the other, as far as she was aware. "Mr. Juniper, with an excellent
house and a plentiful income, is quite good enough for me, though he
hasn't got any regal ancestors." She did not intend to laugh at her
father, but was aware that something had been said about ancestors by
her cousin. "A gentleman who has the management of horses is almost the
same as owning them."

"But when is it to be?" again asked Dolly.

"That depends a little upon my brother," said Mrs. Carroll, in a voice
hardly above a whisper. "Mr. Juniper has spoken about a day."

"Then it will depend chiefly on himself and the young lady, I suppose?"

"Well, Dorothea, there are money difficulties. There's no denying it."

"I wish I could shower gold into her lap," said Mr. Carroll, "only for
the accursed conventionalities of the world."

"Bother, papa!" said Sophia.

"It will be the last of it, as far as I am concerned," said Amelia.

"Mr. Juniper has said something about a few hundred pounds," said Mrs.
Carroll. "It isn't much that he wants."

Then Miss Grey spoke in a severe tone. "You must speak to my father
about that."

"I am not to have your good word, I suppose," said Amelia. Human flesh
and blood could not but remember all that had been done, and always with
her consent. "Five hundred pounds is not a great deal for portioning off
a girl when that is to be the last that she is ever to have." One of
six nieces whose father and mother were maintained, and that without the
slightest claim! It was so that Dorothy argued; but her arguments were
kept to her own bosom. "But I must trust to my dear uncle. I see that I
am not to have a word from you."

The matter was now becoming serious. Here was the eldest girl, one of
six daughters, putting in her claim for five hundred pounds portion.
This would amount to three thousand pounds for the lot, and, as the
process of marrying them went on, they would all have to be maintained
as at present. What with their school expenses and their clothes, the
necessary funds for the Carroll family amounted to six hundred pounds a
year. That was the regular allowance, and there were others whenever Mr.
Carroll wanted a pair of trousers. And Dolly's acerbation was aroused by
a belief on her part that the money asked for trousers took him
generally to race-courses. And now five hundred pounds was boldly
demanded so as to induce a groom to make one of the girls his wife! She
almost regretted that in former years she had promised to assist her
father in befriending the Carroll relations. "Perhaps, Dorothea, you
won't mind stepping into my bedroom with me, just for a moment." This
was said by Mrs. Carroll, and Dolly most unwillingly followed her aunt
up-stairs.

"Of course I know all that you've got to say," began Mrs. Carroll.

"Then, aunt, why bring me in here?"

"Because I wish to explain things a little. Don't be ill-natured,
Dorothea."

"I won't if I can help it."

"I know your nature, how good it is." Here Dorothy shook her head. "Only
think of me and of my sufferings! I haven't come to this without
suffering." Then the poor woman began to cry.

"I feel for you through it all,--I do," said Dolly.

"That poor man! To have to be always with him, and always doing my best
to keep him out of mischief!"

"A man who will do nothing else must do harm."

"Of course he must. But what can he do now? And the children! I can
see--of course I know that they are not all that they ought to be. But
with six of them, and nobody but myself, how can I do it all? And they
are his children as well as mine." Dolly's heart was filled with pity as
she heard this, which she knew to be so true! "In answering you they
have uppish, bad ways. They don't like to submit to one so near their
own age."

"Not a word that has come from the mouth of one of them addressed to
myself has ever done them any harm with my father. That is what you
mean?"

"No,--but with yourself."

"I do not take anger--against them--out of the room with me."

"Now, about Mr. Juniper."

"The question is one much too big for me. Am I to tell my father?"

"I was thinking that--if you would do so!"

"I cannot tell him that he ought to find five hundred pounds for Mr.
Juniper."

"Perhaps four would do."

"Nor can I ask him to drive a bargain."

"How much would he give her--to be married?"

"Why should he give her anything? He feeds her and gives her clothes. It
is only fit that the truth should be explained to you. Girls so
circumstanced, when they are clothed and fed by their own fathers, must
be married without fortunes or must remain unmarried. As Sophie, and
Georgina, and Minna, and Brenda come up, the same requests will be
made."

"Poor Potsey!" said the mother. For Potsey was a plain girl.

"If this be done for Amelia, must it not be done for all of them? Papa
is not a rich man, but he has been very generous. Is it fair to ask him
for five hundred pounds to give to--Mr. Juniper?"

"A gentleman nowadays does not like not to get something."

"Then a gentleman must go where something is to be got. The truth has to
be told, Aunt Carroll. My father is willing enough to do what he can for
you and the girls, but I do not think that he will give five hundred
pounds to Mr. Juniper."

"It is once for all. Four hundred pounds, perhaps, would do."

"I do not think that he can make a bargain, nor that he will pay any sum
to Mr. Juniper."

"To get one of them off would be so much! What is to become of them? To
have one married would be the way for others. Oh, Dorothy, if you would
only think of my condition! I know your papa will do what you tell him."

Dolly felt that her father would be more likely to do it if she were
not to interfere at all; but she could not say that. She did feel the
request to be altogether unreasonable. She struggled to avert from her
own mind all feeling of dislike for the girl, and to look at it as she
might have done if Amelia had been her special friend.

"Aunt Carroll," she said, "you had better go up to London and see my
father there--in his chambers. You will catch him if you go at once."

"Alone?"

"Yes, alone. Tell him about the girl's marriage, and let him judge what
he ought to do."

"Could not you come with me?"

"No. You don't understand. I have to think of his money. He can say what
he will do with his own."

"He will never give it without coming to you."

"He never will if he does come to me. You may prevail with him. A man
may throw away his own money as he pleases. I cannot tell him that he
ought to do it. You may say that you have told me, and that I have sent
you to him. And tell him, let him do what he will, that I shall find no
fault with him. If you can understand me and him you will know that I
can do nothing for you beyond that." Then Dolly took her leave and went
home.

The mother, turning it all over in her mind, did understand something of
her niece, and went off to London as quick as the omnibus could take
her. There she did see her brother, and he came back, in consequence, to
dinner a little earlier than usual.

"Why did you send my sister to me?" were the first words which he said to
Dolly.

"Because it was your business, and not mine."

"How dare you separate my business and yours? What do you think I have
done?"

"Given the young lady five hundred pounds down on the nail."

"Worse than that."

"Worse?"

"Much worse. But why did you send my sister to my chambers?"

"But what have you done, papa? You don't mean that you have given the
shark more than he demands?"

"I don't know that he's a shark. Why shouldn't the man want five hundred
pounds with his wife? Mr. Barry would want much more with you, and would
be entitled to ask for much more."

"You are my father."

"Yes; but those poor girls have been taught to look upon me almost as
their father."

"But what have you done?"

"I have promised them each three hundred and fifty pounds on their
wedding day,--three hundred pounds to go to their husbands, and fifty
pounds for wedding expenses,--on condition that they marry with my
approval. I shall not be so hard to please for them as for you."

"And you have approved of Mr. Juniper?"

"I have already set on foot inquiries down at Newmarket; and I have made
an exception in favor of Mr. Juniper. He is to have four hundred and
fifty pounds. Jane only asked four hundred pounds to begin with. You are
not to find fault with me."

"No; that is part of the bargain. I wonder whether my aunt knew what a
thoroughly good-natured thing I did. We must have no more puddings now,
and you must come down by the omnibus."

"It is not quite so bad as that, Dolly."

"When one has given away one's money extravagantly one ought to be made
to feel the pinch one's self. But dear, dear, darling old man! why
shouldn't you give away your money as you please? I don't want it. I am
not in the least afraid but what there will be plenty for me. But when
the girl talks about her five hundred pounds so glibly, as though she
had a right to expect it, and spoke of this jockey with such inward
pride of heart--"

"A girl ought to be proud of her husband."

"Your niece ought not to be proud of marrying a groom. But she angered
me, and so did my aunt,--though I pitied her. Then I reflected that they
could get nothing from me in my anger,--not even a promise of a good
word. So I sent her to you. It was, at any rate, the best thing I could
do for them." Mr. Grey thought that it was.



CHAPTER XXXV.

MR. BARRY AND MR. JUNIPER.


The joy in Bolsover Terrace was intense when Mrs. Carroll returned home.
"We are all to have three hundred and fifty pound fortunes when we get
husbands!" said Georgina, anticipating at once the pleasures of
matrimony.

"I am to have four hundred and fifty," said Amelia. "I do think he might
have made it five hundred pounds. If I had it to give away, I never
would show the cloven foot about the last fifty pounds!"

"But he's only to have four hundred pounds," said Sophia. "Your things
are to be bought with the other fifty pounds."

"I never can do it for fifty pounds," said Amelia. "I did not expect
that I was to find my own trousseau out of my own fortune."

"Girls, how can you be so ungrateful?" said their mother.

"I'm not ungrateful, mamma," said Potsey. "I shall be very much obliged
when I get my three hundred and fifty pounds. How long will it be?"

"You've got to find the young man first, Potsey. I don't think you'll
ever do that," said Georgina, who was rather proud of her own good
looks.

This took place on the evening of the day on which Mrs. Carroll had gone
to London, where Mr. Carroll was about attending to some of those duties
of conviviality in the performance of which he was so indefatigable. On
the following morning at twelve o'clock he was still in bed. It was a
well-known fact in the family that on such an occasion he would lie in
bed, and that before twelve o'clock he would have managed to extract
from his wife's little hoardings at any rate two bottles of soda-water
and two glasses of some alcoholic mixture which was generally called
brandy. "I'll have a gin-and-potash, Sophie," he had said on this
occasion, with reference to the second dose, "and do make haste. I wish
you'd go yourself, because that girl always drinks some of the
sperrits."

"What! go to the gin-shop?"

"It's a most respectable publican's,--just round the corner."

"Indeed, I shall do nothing of the kind. You've no feeling about your
daughters at all!" But Sophie went on her errand, and in order to
protect her father's small modicum of "sperrits" she slipped on her
cloak and walked out so as to be able to watch the girl. Still, I think
that the maiden managed to get a sip as she left the bar. The father, in
the mean-time with his head between his hands, was ruminating on the
"cocked-up way which girls have who can't do a turn for their father."

But with the gin-and-potash, and with Sophie, Mr. Juniper made his
appearance. He was a well-featured, tall man, but he looked the stable
and he smelled of it. His clothes, no doubt, were decent, but they were
made by some tailor who must surely work for horsey men and no others.
There is a class of men who always choose to show by their outward
appearance that they belong to horses, and they succeed. Mr. Juniper was
one of them. Though good-looking he was anything but young, verging by
appearance on fifty years.

"So he has been at it again, Miss Sophie," said Juniper. Sophie, who did
not like being detected in the performance of her filial duties, led the
way in silence into the house, and disappeared up-stairs with the
gin-and-potash. Mr. Juniper turned into the parlor, where was Mrs.
Carroll with the other girls. She was still angry, as angry as she could
be, with her husband, who on being informed that morning of what his
wife had done had called her brother "a beastly, stingy old beau,"
because he had cut Amelia off with four hundred and fifty instead of
five hundred pounds. Mr. Carroll probably knew that Mr. Juniper would
not take his daughter without the entirety of the sum stipulated, and
would allow no portion of it to be expended on wedding-dresses.

"Oh, Dick, is this you?" said Amelia. "I suppose you've come for your
news." (Mr. Juniper's Christian-name was Richard.) On this occasion he
showed no affectionate desire to embrace his betrothed.

"Yes, it's me," he said, and then gave his hand all round, first to Mrs.
Carroll and then to the girls.

"I've seen Mr. Grey," said Mrs. Carroll. But Dick Juniper held his
tongue and sat down and twiddled his hat.

"Where have you come from?" asked Georgina.

"From the Brompton Road. I come down on a 'bus."

"You've come from Tattersall's, young man!" said Amelia.

"Then I just didn't!" But to tell the truth he had come from
Tattersall's, and it might be difficult to follow up the workings of his
mind and find out why he had told the lie. Of course it was known that
when in London much of his business was done at Tattersall's. But the
horsey man is generally on the alert to take care that no secret of his
trade escapes from him unawares. And it may be that he was thus prepared
for a gratuitous lie.

"Uncle's gone a deal father than ever I expected," said Amelia.

"He's been most generous to all the girls," said Mrs. Carroll, moved
nearly to tears.

Mr. Juniper did not care very much about "all the girls," thinking that
the uncle's affection at the present moment should be shown to the one
girl who had found a husband, and thinking also that if the husband was
to be secured, the proper way of doing so would be by liberality to him.
Amelia had said that her uncle had gone farther than she expected. Mr.
Juniper concluded from this that he had not gone as far as he had been
asked, and boldly resolved, at the spur of the moment, to stand by his
demand. "Five hundred pounds ain't much," he said.

"Dick, don't make a beast of yourself!" said Amelia. Upon this Dick only
smiled.

He continually twiddled his hat for three or four minutes, and then rose
up straight. "I suppose," said he, "I had better go up-stairs and talk
to the old man. I seed Miss Sophie taking a pick-up to him, so I suppose
he'll be able to talk."

"Why shouldn't he talk?" said Mrs. Carroll. But she quite understood
what Mr. Juniper's words were intended to imply.

"It don't always follow," said Juniper, as he walked out of the room.

"Now there'll be a row in the house;--you see if there isn't!" said
Amelia. But Mrs. Carroll expressed her opinion that the man must be the
most ungrateful of creatures if he kicked up a row on the present
occasion. "I don't know so much about that, mamma," said Amelia.

Mr. Juniper walked up-stairs with heavy, slow steps, and knocked at the
door of the marital chamber. There are men who can't walk up-stairs as
though to do so were an affair of ordinary life. They perform the task
as though they walked up-stairs once in three years. It is to be
presumed that such men always sleep on the ground-floor, though where
they find their bed-rooms it is hard to say. Mr. Juniper was admitted by
Sophie, who stepped out as he went in. "Well, old fellow! B.--and--S.,
and plenty of it. That's the ticket, eh?"

"I did have a little headache this morning. I think it was the cigars."

"Very like,--and the stuff as washed 'em down. You haven't got any more
of the same, have you?"

"I'm uncommonly sorry," said the sick man, rising up on his elbow, "but
I'm afraid there is not. To tell the truth, I had the deuce of a job to
get this from the old woman."

"It don't matter," said the impassive Mr. Juniper, "only I have been
down among the 'orses at the yard till my throat is full of dust. So
your lady has been and seen her brother?"

"Yes; she's done that."

"Well?"

"He ain't altogether a bad un--isn't old Grey. Of course he's an
attorney."

"I never think much of them chaps."

"There's good and bad, Juniper. No doubt my brother-in-law has made a
little money."

"A pot of it,--if all they say's true."

"But all they say isn't true. All they say never is true."

"I suppose he's got something?"

"Yes, he's got something."

"And how is it to be?"

"He's given the girl four hundred pounds on the nail,"--upon this Mr.
Juniper turned up his nose,--"and fifty pounds for her wedding-clothes."

"He'd better let me have that."

"Girls think so much of it,"--Mr. Juniper only shook his head,--"and, upon
my word, it's more than she had a right to expect."

"It ain't what she had a right to expect; but I,"--here Mr. Carroll shook
his head,--"I said five hundred pounds out, and I means to hold by it.
That's about it. If he wants to get the girl married, why--he must open
his pocket. It isn't very much that I'm asking. I'm that sort of a
fellow that, if I didn't want it, I'd take her without a shilling."

"But you are that sort of fellow that always does want it."

"I wants it now. It's better to speak out, ain't it? I must have the five
hundred pounds before I put my neck into the noose, and there must be no
paring off for petticoats and pelisses."

"And Mr. Grey says that he must make inquiries into character," said
Carroll.

"Into what?"

"Into character. He isn't going to give his money without knowing
something about the man."

"I'm all straight at Newmarket. I ain't going to stand any inquiries
into me, you know. I can stand inquiries better than some people. He's
got a partner named Barry, ain't he?"

"There is such a gentleman. I don't know much about the business ways of
my respected brother-in-law. Mr. Barry is, I believe, a good sort of a
man."

"It's he as is acting for Captain Scarborough."

"Is it, now? It may be, for anything I know."

Then there came a long conversation, during which Mr. Juniper told some
details of his former life, and expressed himself very freely upon
certain points. It appeared that in the event of Mr. Scarborough having
died, as was expected, in the course of the early summer, and of Captain
Scarborough succeeding to the property in the accustomed manner, Mr.
Juniper would have been one of those who would have come forward with a
small claim upon the estate. He had lent, he said, a certain sum of
money to help the captain in his embarrassment, and expected to get it
back again. Now, latterly inquiries had been made very disagreeable in
their nature to Mr. Juniper; but Mr. Juniper, seeing how the the land
lay,--to use his own phrase,--consented only to accept so much as he had
advanced. "It don't make much difference to me," he had said. "Let me
have the three hundred and fifty pounds which the captain got in hard
money." Then the inquiries were made by Mr. Barry,--that very Mr. Barry
to whom subsequent inquiries were committed,--and Mr. Barry could not
satisfy himself as to the three hundred and fifty pounds which the
captain was said to have got in hard money. There had been words spoken
which seemed to Mr. Juniper to make it very inexpedient,--and we may say
very unfair,--that these farther inquiries into his character as a
husband should be intrusted to the same person. He regarded Mr. Barry as
an enemy to the human race, from whom, in the general confusion of
things, no plunder was to be extracted. Mr Barry had asked for the check
by which the three hundred and fifty pounds had been paid to Captain
Scarborough in hard cash. There had been no check, Mr. Juniper had said.
Such a small sum as that had been paid in notes at Newmarket. He said
that he could not, or, rather, that he would not, produce any evidence
as to the money. Mr. Barry had suggested that even so small a sum as
three hundred and fifty pounds could not have come and could not have
gone without leaving some trace. Mr. Juniper very indignantly had
referred to an acknowledgment on a bill-stamp for six hundred pounds
which he had filled in, and which the captain had undoubtedly signed.
"It's not worth the paper it's written on," Mr. Barry had said.

"We'll see about that," said Mr. Juniper. "As soon as the breath is out
of the old squire's body we'll see whether his son is to repudiate his
debts in that way. Ain't that the captain's signature?" and he slapped
the bill with his hand.

The old ceremony was gone through of explaining that the captain had no
right to a shilling of the property. It had become an old ceremony now.
"Mr. Augustus Scarborough is going to pay out of his own good will only
those sums of the advance of which he has indisputable testimony."

"Ain't he my testimony of this?" said Mr. Juniper.

"This bill is for six hundred pounds."

"In course it is."

"Why don't you say you advanced him five hundred and fifty pounds
instead of three hundred and fifty pounds?"

"Because I didn't."

"Why do you say three hundred and fifty pounds instead of one hundred
and fifty pounds?"

"Because I did."

"Then we have only your bare word. We are not going to pay any one a
shilling on such a testimony." Then Mr. Juniper had sworn an awful oath
that he would have every man bearing the name of Scarborough hanged. But
Mr. Barry's firm did not care much for any law proceedings which might
be taken by Mr. Juniper alone. No law proceedings would be taken. The
sum to be regained would not be worth the while of any lawyer to insure
the hopeless expense of fighting such a battle. It would be shown in
court, on Mr. Barry's side, that the existing owner of the estate, out
of his own generosity, had repaid all sums of money as to which evidence
existed that they had been advanced to the unfortunate illegitimate
captain. They would appear with clean hands; but poor Mr. Juniper would
receive the sympathy of none. Of this Mr. Juniper had by degrees become
aware, and was already looking on his claim on the Scarborough property
as lost. And now, on this other little affair of his, on this
matrimonial venture, it was very hard that inquiries as to his character
should be referred to the same Mr. Barry.

"I'm d---- if I stand it!" he said, thumping his fist down on Mr.
Carroll's bed, on which he was sitting.

"It isn't any of my doing. I'm on the square with you."

"I don't know so much about that."

"What have I done? Didn't I send her to the girl's uncle, and didn't she
get from him a very liberal promise?"

"Promises! Why didn't he stump up the rhino? What's the good of
promises? There's as much to do about a beggarly five hundred pounds as
though it were fifty thousand pounds. Inquiries!" Of course he knew very
well what that meant. "It's a most ungentlemanlike thing for one
gentleman to take upon himself to make inquiries about another. He is
not the girl's father. What right has he to make inquiries?"

"I didn't put it into his head," said Carroll, almost sobbing.

"He must be a low-bred, pettifogging lawyer."

"He is a lawyer," said Carroll, on whose mind the memory of the great
benefit he had received had made some impression. "I have admitted
that."

"Pshaw!"

"But I don't think he's pettifogging; not Mr. Grey. Four hundred pounds
down, with fifty pounds for dress, and the same, or most the same, to
all the girls, isn't pettifogging. If you ever comes to have a family,
Juniper--"

"I ain't in the way."

"But when you are, and there comes six of 'em, you won't find an uncle
pettifogging when he speaks out like Mr. Grey."

The conversation was carried on for some time farther, and then Mr.
Juniper left the house without again visiting the ladies. His last word
was that if inquiries were made into him they might all go to--Bath! If
the money were forthcoming, they would know where to find him; but it
must be five hundred pounds "square," with no parings made from it on
behalf of petticoats and pelisses. With this last word Mr. Juniper
stamped down the stairs and out of the house.

"He's a brute, after all!" said Sophie.

"No, he isn't. What do you know about brutes? Of course a gentleman has
to make the best fight he can for his money." This was what Amelia said
at the moment; but in the seclusion of their own room she wept bitterly.
"Why didn't he come in to see me and just give me one word? I hadn't
done anything amiss. It wasn't my fault if Uncle John is stingy."

"And he isn't so very stingy, after all," said Sophie.

"Of course papa hasn't got anything, and wouldn't have anything, though
you were to pour golden rivers into his lap."

"There are worse than papa," said Sophie.

"But he knows all that, and that our uncle isn't any more than an uncle.
And why should he be so particular just about a hundred pounds? I do
think gentlemen are the meanest creatures when they are looking after
money! Ladies ain't half so bad. He'd no business to expect five hundred
pounds all out."

This was very melancholy, and the house was kept in a state of silent
sorrow for four or five days, till the result of the inquiries had
come. Then there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mr. Barry came to
Bolsover Terrace to communicate the result of the inquiry, and was shut
up for half an hour with poor Mrs. Carroll. He was afraid that he could
not recommend the match. "Oh, I'm sorry for that,--very sorry!" said Mrs.
Carroll. "The young lady will be--disappointed." And her handkerchief
went up to her eyes. Then there was silence for awhile, till she asked
why an opinion so strongly condemnatory had been expressed.

"The gentleman, ma'am,--is not what a gentleman should be. You may take
my word for it. I must ask you not to repeat what I say to him."

"Oh dear, no."

"But perhaps the least said the soonest mended. He is not what a
gentleman should be."

"You mean a--fine gentleman."

"He is not what a man should be. I cannot say more than that. It would
not be for the young lady's happiness that she should select such a
partner for her life."

"She is very much attached to him."

"I am sorry that it should be so. But it will be better that she
should--live it down. At any rate, I am bound to communicate to you Mr.
Grey's decision. Though he does not at all mean to withhold his bounty
in regard to any other proposed marriage, he cannot bring himself to pay
money to Mr. Juniper."

"Nothing at all?" asked Mrs. Carroll.

"He will make no payment that will go into the pocket of Mr. Juniper."

Then Mr. Barry went, and there was weeping and wailing in the house in
Bolsover Terrace. So cruel an uncle as Mr. Grey had never been heard of
in history, or even in romance. "I know it's that old cat, Dolly," said
Amelia. "Because she hasn't managed to get a husband for herself, she
doesn't want any one else to get one."

"My poor child," said Mr. Carroll, in a maudlin condition, "I pity thee
from the bottom of my heart!"

"I wish that Mr. Barry may be made to marry a hideous old maid past
forty," said Georgina.

"I shouldn't care what they said, but would take him straight off," said
Sophie.

Upon this Mrs. Carroll shook her head. "I don't suppose that he is quite
all that he ought to be."

"Who is, I should like to know?" said Amelia.

"But my brother has to give his money according to his judgment." As
she said this the poor woman thought of those other five who in process
of time might become claimants. But here the whole family attacked her,
and almost drove her to confess that her brother was a stingy old
curmudgeon.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

"GURNEY & MALCOLMSON'S."


In Red Lion Square, on the first floor of a house which partakes of the
general dinginess of the neighborhood, there are two rooms which bear on
the outside door the well-sounding names of Gurney & Malcolmson; and on
the front door to the street are the names of Gurney & Malcolmson,
showing that the business transacted by Messrs. Gurney & Malcolmson
outweighs in importance any others conducted in the same house. In the
first room, which is the smaller of the two occupied, sits usually a
lad, who passes most of his time in making up and directing circulars,
so that a stranger might be led to suppose that the business of Gurney &
Malcolmson was of an extended nature.

But on the occasion to which we are about to allude the door of the
premises was closed, and the boy was kept on the alert posting, or
perhaps delivering, the circulars which were continually issued. This
was the place of business affected by Mr. Tyrrwhit, or at any rate one
of them. Who were Gurney & Malcolmson it is not necessary that our
chronicle should tell. No Gurney or no Malcolmson was then visible; and
though a part of the business of the firm in which it is to be supposed
that Gurney & Malcolmson were engaged was greatly discussed, their name
on the occasion was never mentioned.

A meeting had been called at which the presiding genius was Mr.
Tyrrwhit. You might almost be led to believe that, from the manner in
which he made himself at home, Mr. Tyrrwhit was Gurney & Malcolmson. But
there was another there who seemed to be almost as much at home as Mr.
Tyrrwhit, and this was Mr. Samuel Hart, whom we last saw when he had
unexpectedly made himself known to his friend the captain at Monaco. He
had a good deal to say for himself; and as he sat during the meeting
with his hat on, it is to be presumed that he was not in awe of his
companions. Mr. Juniper also was there. He took a seat at one corner of
the table, and did not say much. There was also a man who, in speaking
of himself and his own affairs, always called himself Evans & Crooke.
And there was one Spicer, who sat silent for the most part, and looked
very fierce. In all matters, however, he appeared to agree with Mr.
Tyrrwhit. He is especially named, as his interest in the matter
discussed was large. There were three or four others, whose affairs were
of less moment, though to them they were of intense interest. These
gentlemen assembled were they who had advanced money to Captain
Scarborough, and this was the meeting of the captain's creditors, at
which they were to decide whether they were to give up their bonds on
payment of the sums they had actually advanced, or whether they would
stand out till the old squire's death, and then go to law with the owner
of the estate.

At the moment at which we may be presumed to be introduced, Mr. Tyrrwhit
had explained the matter in a nervous, hesitating manner, but still in
words sufficiently clear. "There's the money down now if you like to
take it, and I'm for taking it." These were the words with which Mr.
Tyrrwhit completed his address.

"Circumstances is different," said the man with his hat on.

"I don't know much about that, Mr. Hart," said Tyrrwhit.

"Circumstances is different. I can't 'elp whether you know it or not."

"How different?"

"They is different,--and that's all about it. It'll perhaps shuit you and
them other shentlemen to take a pershentage."

"It won't suit Evans & Crooke," said the man who represented that firm.

"But perhaps Messrs. Evans & Crooke may be willing to save so much of
their property," said Mr. Tyrrwhit.

"They'd like to have what's due to 'em."

"We should all like that," said Spicer, and he gnashed his teeth and
shook his head.

"But we can't get it all," said Tyrrwhit.

"Speak for yourself, Mr. Tyrrwhit," said Hart. "I think I can get mine.
This is the most almighty abandoned swindle I ever met in all my born
days." The whole meeting, except Mr. Tyrrwhit, received this assertion
with loudly expressed applause. "Such a blackguard, dirty, thieving job
never was up before in my time. I don't know 'ow to talk of it in
language as a man isn't ashamed to commit himself to. It's downright
robbery."

"I say so too," said Evans & Crooke.

"By George!" continued Mr. Hart, "we come forward to 'elp a shentleman
in his trouble and to wait for our moneys till the father is dead, and
then when 'e's 'ad our moneys the father turns round and says that 'is
own son is a--Oh, it's too shocking! I 'aven't slept since I 'eard
it,--not a regular night's rest. Now, it's my belief the captain 'as no
'and in it."

Here Mr. Juniper scratched his head and looked doubtful, and one or two
of the other silent gentlemen scratched their heads. Messrs. Evans &
Crooke scratched his head. "It's a matter on which I would not like to
give an opinion one way or the other," said Tyrrwhit.

"No more wouldn't I," said Spicer.

"Let every man speak as he finds," continued Hart. "That's my belief. I
don't mind giving up a little of my claim, just a thousand or so, for
ready cash. The old sinner ought to be dead, and can't last long. My
belief is when 'e's gone I'm so circumstanced I shall get the whole.
Whether or no, I've gone in for 'elping the captain with all my savings,
and I mean to stick to them."

"And lose everything," said Tyrrwhit.

"Why don't we go and lug the old sinner into prison?" said Evans &
Crooke.

"Certainly that's the game," said Juniper, and there was another loud
acclamation of applause from the entire room.

"Gentlemen, you don't know what you're talking about, you don't indeed,"
said Tyrrwhit.

"I don't believe as we do," said Spicer.

"You can't touch the old gentleman. He owes you nothing, nor have you a
scratch of his pen. How are you to lug an old gentleman to prison when
he's lying there cut up by the doctors almost to nothing? I don't know
that anybody can touch him. The captain perhaps might, if the present
story be false; and the younger son, if the other be true. And then
they'd have to prove it. Mr. Grey says that no one can touch him."

"He's in the swim as bad as any of 'em," said Evans & Crooke.

"Of course he is," said Hart. "But let everybody speak for himself. I've
gone in to 'earn a 'eavy stake honestly."

"That's all right," said Evans & Crooke.

"And I mean to 'ave it or nothing. Now, Mr. Tyrrwhit, you know a piece
of my mind. It's a biggish lot of money."

"We know what your claim is."

"But no man knows what the captain got, and I don't mean 'em to know."

"About fifteen thousand," came in a whisper from some one in the room.

"That's a lie," said Mr. Hart; "so there's no getting out of that. If
the shentleman will mind 'is own concerns I'll mind mine. Nobody
knows,--barring the captain, and he like enough has forgot,--and nobody's
going to know. What's written on these eight bits of paper everybody may
know," and he pulled out of a large case or purse, which he carried in
his breast coat-pocket, a fat sheaf of bills. "There are five thou'
written on each of them, and for five thou' on each of them I means to
stand out. 'It or miss.' If any shentleman chooses to talk to me about
ready money I'll take two thou' off. I like ready money as well as
another."

"We can all say the same as that, Mr. Hart," said Tyrrwhit.

"No doubt. And if you think you can get it, I advise you to stick to it.
If you thought you could get it you would say the same. But I should
like to get that old man's 'ead between my fists. Wouldn't I punch it!
Thief! scoundrel! 'orrid old man! It ain't for myself that I'm speaking
now, because I'm a-going to get it,--I think I'm a-going to get it;--it's
for humanity at large. This kind of thing wiolates one's best feelings."

"'Ear, 'ear, 'ear!" said one of the silent gentlemen.

"Them's the sentiments of Evans & Crooke," said the representative of
that firm.

"They're all our sentiments, in course," said Spicer; "but what's the
use?"

"Not a ha'p'orth," said Mr. Tyrrwhit.

"Asking your pardon, Mr. Tyrrwhit," said Mr. Hart, "but, as this is a
meeting of creditors who 'ave a largish lot of money to deal with, I
don't think they ought to part without expressing their opinions in the
way of British commerce. I say crucifying 'd be too good for 'im."

"You can't get at him to crucify him."

"There's no knowing about that," said Mr. Hart.

"And now," said Mr. Tyrrwhit, drawing out his watch, "I expect Mr.
Augustus Scarborough to call upon us."

"You can crucify _him_," said Evans & Crooke.

"It is the old man, and neither of the sons, as have done it," said
Hart.

"Mr. Scarborough," continued Tyrrwhit, "will be here, and will expect to
learn whether we have accepted his offer. He will be accompanied by Mr.
Barry. If one rejects, all reject."

"Not at all," said Hart.

"He will not consent to pay anything unless he can make a clean hit of
it. He is about to sacrifice a very large sum of money."

"Sacrifice!" said Juniper.

"Yes; sacrifice a very large sum of money. His father cannot pay it
without his consent. The father may die any day, and then the money will
belong altogether to the son. You have, none of you, any claim upon him.
It is likely he may think you will have a claim on the estate, not
trusting his own father."

"I wouldn't trust him, not 'alf as far as I could see him, though he was
twice my father." This again came from Mr. Hart.

"I want to explain to these gentlemen how the matter stands."

"They understand," said Hart.

"I'm for securing my own money. It's very hard,--after all the risk. I
quite agree with Mr. Hart in what he says about the squire. Such a piece
of premeditated dishonesty for robbing gentlemen of their property I
never before heard. It's awful."

"'Orrid old man!" said Mr. Hart.

"Just so. But half a loaf is better than no bread. Now, here is a list,
prepared in Mr. Grey's chambers."

"'E's another, nigh as 'orrid."

"On this list we're all down, with the sums he says we advanced. Are we
to take them? If so we must sign our names, each to his own figure."
Then he passed the list down the table.

The men there assembled all crowded to look at the list, and among
others Mr. Juniper. He showed his anxiety by the eager way in which he
nearly annihilated Messrs. Evans & Crooke, by leaning over him as he
struggled to read the paper. "Your name ain't down at all," said Evans &
Crooke. Then a tremendous oath, very bitter and very wicked, came from
the mouth of Mr. Juniper, most unbefitting a young man engaged to marry
a young lady. "I tell you it isn't here," said Evans & Crooke, trying to
extricate himself.

"I shall know how to right myself," said Juniper, with another oath.
And he then walked out of the room.

"The captain, when he was drunk one night, got a couple of ponies from
him. It wasn't a couple all out. And Juniper made him write his name for
five hundred pounds. It was thought then that the squire 'd have been
dead next day, and Juniper 'd 've got a good thing."'

"I 'ate them ways," said Mr. Hart. "I never deal with a shentleman if
he's, to say--drunk. Of course it comes in my way, but I never does."

Now there was heard a sound of steps on the stairs, and Mr. Tyrrwhit
rose from his chair so as to perform the duty of master of the
ceremonies to the gentlemen who were expected. Augustus Scarborough
entered the room, followed by Mr. Barry. They were received with
considerable respect, and seated on two chairs at Mr. Tyrrwhit's right
hand. "Gentlemen, you most of you know these two gentlemen. They are Mr.
Augustus Scarborough and Mr. Barry, junior partner in the firm of
Messrs. Grey & Barry."

"We knows 'em," said Hart.

"My client has made a proposition to you," said Mr. Barry. "If you will
give up your bonds against his brother, which are not worth the paper
they are written on--"

"Gammon!" said Mr. Hart.

"I will sign checks paying to you the sums of money written on that
list. But you must all agree to accept such sums in liquidation in full.
I see you have not signed the paper yet. No time is to be lost. In fact,
you must sign it now, or my client will withdraw from his offer."

"Withdraw; will 'e?" said Hart. "Suppose we withdraw? 'O does your
client think is the honestest man in this 'ere swim?"

Mr. Barry seemed somewhat abashed by this question. "It isn't necessary
to go into that, Mr. Hart," said he.

Mr. Hart laughed long and loud, and all the gentlemen laughed. There was
something to them extremely jocose in their occupying, as it were, the
other side of the question, and appearing as the honest, injured party.
They enjoyed it thoroughly, and Mr. Hart was disposed to make the most
of it. "No; it ain't necessary; is it? There ain't no question of
honesty to be asked in this 'ere business. We quite understand that."

Then up and spoke Augustus Scarborough. He rose to his feet, and the
very fact of his doing so quieted for a time the exuberant mirth of the
party. "Gentlemen, Mr. Hart speaks to you of honesty. I am not going to
boast of my own. I am here to consent to the expenditure of a very large
sum of money, for which I am to get nothing, and which, if not paid to
you, will all go into my own pocket;--unless you believed that you
wouldn't be here to meet me."

"We don't believe nothing," said Hart.

"Mr. Hart, you should let Mr. Scarborough speak," said Tyrrwhit.

"Vell, let 'im speak. Vat's the odds?"

"I do not wish to delay you, nor to delay myself," continued Augustus.
"I can go, and will go, at once. But I shall not come back. There is no
good discussing this matter any longer."

"Oh no; not the least. Ve don't like discussion; do ve, captain?" said
Mr. Hart. "But you ain't the captain; is you?"

"As there seems to be no intention of signing that document, I shall
go," said Augustus. Then Mr. Tyrrwhit took the paper, and signed it on
the first line with his own name at full length. He wrote his name to a
very serious sum of money, but it was less than half what he and others
had expected to receive when the sum was lent. Had that been realized
there would have been no farther need for the formalities of Gurney &
Malcolmson, and that young lad must have found other work to do than the
posting of circulars. The whole matter, however, had been much
considered, and he signed the document. Mr. Hart's name came next, but
he passed it on. "I ain't made up my mind yet. Maybe I shall have to
call on Mr. Barry. I ain't just consulted my partner." Then the document
went down to Mr. Spicer, who signed it, grinning horribly; as did also
Evans & Crooke and all the others. They did believe that was the only
way in which they could get back the money they had advanced. It was a
great misfortune, a serious blow. But in this way there was something
short of ruin. They knew that Scarborough was about to pay the money, so
that he might escape a lawsuit, which might go against him; but then
they also wished to avoid the necessity of bringing the lawsuit. Looking
at the matter all round, we may say that the lawyers were the persons
most aggrieved by what was done on that morning. They all signed it as
they sat there,--except Mr. Hart, who passed it on, and still wore his
hat.

"You won't agree, Mr. Hart?" said Tyrrwhit.

"Not yet I von't," said Hart. "I ain't thought it out. I ain't in the
same boat with the rest. I'm not afraid of my money. I shall get that
all right."

"Then I may as well go," said Augustus.

"Don't be in a hurry, Mr. Scarborough," said Tyrrwhit. "Things of this
kind can't be done just in a moment." But Augustus explained that they
must be done in a very few moments, if they were to be done at all. It
was not his intention to sit there in Gurney & Malcolmson's office
discussing the matter with Mr. Hart. Notice of his intention had been
given, and they might take his money or leave it.

"Just so, captain," said Mr. Hart. "Only I believe you ain't the
captain. Where's the captain now? I see him last at Monte Carlo, and he
had won a pot of money. He was looking uncommon well after his little
accident in the streets with young Annesley."

Mr. Tyrrwhit contrived to get all the others out of the room, he
remaining there with Hart and Augustus Scarborough and Mr. Barry. And
then Hart did sign the document with altered figures: only that so much
was added on to the sum which he agreed to accept, and a similar
deduction made from that to which Mr. Tyrrwhit's name was signed. But
this was not done without renewed expostulation from the latter
gentleman. It was very hard, he said, that all the sacrifice should be
made by him. He would be ruined, utterly ruined by the transaction. But
he did sign for the altered sum, and Mr. Hart also signed the paper.
"Now, Mr. Barry, as the matter is completed, I think I will withdraw,"
said Augustus.

"It's five thousand pounds clean gone out of my pocket," said Hart, "and
I vas as sure of it as ever I vas in my life. There vas no better money
than the captain's. Vell, vell! This vorld's a queer place." So saying,
he followed Augustus and Mr. Barry out of the room, and left Mr.
Tyrrwhit alone in his misery.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

VICTORIA STREET.


Lounging in an arm-chair in a small but luxuriously furnished room in
Victoria Street sat Captain Mountjoy Scarborough, and opposite to him,
equally comfortably placed, as far as externals were concerned, but
without any of that lounging look which the captain affected, sat his
brother. It was nearly eight o'clock, and the sound of the dinner-plates
could be heard through the open doors from the next room. It was
evident, or at any rate was the fact, that Augustus found his brother's
presence a bore, and as evident that the captain intended to disregard
the dissatisfaction evinced by the owner of the chambers. "Do shut the
door, Mountjoy," said the younger. "I don't suppose we want the servant
to hear everything that we say."

"He's welcome for me," said Mountjoy, without moving. Then Augustus got
up and banged the door. "Don't be angry because I sometimes forget that
I am no longer considered to be your elder brother," said Mountjoy.

"Bother about elder brothers! I suppose you can shut a door?"

"A man is sometimes compelled by circumstances to think whether he can
or not. I'd've shut the door for you readily enough the other day. I
don't know that I can now. Ain't we going to have some dinner? It's
eight o'clock."

"I suppose they'll get dinner for you;--I'm not going to dine here." The
two men were both dressed and after this they remained silent for the
next five minutes. Then the servant came in and said that dinner was
ready.

All this happened in December. It must be explained that the captain had
come to London at his brother's instance, and was there, in his rooms,
at his invitation. Indeed, we may say that he had come at his brother's
command. Augustus had during the last few months taken upon himself to
direct the captain's movements; and though he had not always been
obeyed, still, upon the whole, his purposes had been carried out as well
as he could expect. He had offered to supply the money necessary for the
captain's tour, and had absolutely sent a servant to accompany the
traveller. When the traveller had won money at Monaco he had been
unruly, but this had not happened very often. When we last saw him he
had expressed his intention to Mr. Hart of making a return journey to
the Caucasian provinces. But he got no farther than Genoa on his way to
the Caucasus, and then, when he found that Mr. Hart was not at his back,
he turned round and went back to Monte Carlo. Monte Carlo, of all places
on the world's surface, had now charms for him.

There was no longer a club open to him, either in London or Paris, at
which be could win or lose one hundred pounds. At Monte Carlo he could
still do so readily; and, to do so, need not sink down into any
peculiarly low depth of social gathering. At Monte Carlo the _ennui_ of
the day was made to disappear. At Monte Carlo he could lie in bed till
eleven, and then play till dinner-time. At Monte Carlo there was always
some one who would drink a glass of wine with him without inquiring too
closely as to his antecedents. He had begun by winning a large sum of
money. He had got some sums from his brother, and when at last he was
summoned home he was penniless. Had his pocket been still full of money
it may be doubted whether he would have come, although he understood
perfectly the importance of the matter on which he had been recalled.

He had been sent for in order that he might receive from Mr. Grey a
clear statement of what it was intended to do in reference to the
payment of money to the creditors. Mr. Grey had, in the first place,
endeavored to assure him that his co-operation was in no respect made
necessary by the true circumstances of the case, but in order to satisfy
the doubts of certain persons. The money to be paid was the joint
property of his father and his brother,--of his father, as far as the use
of it for his life was concerned, and of his brother, as to its
continued and perpetual enjoyment. They were willing to pay so much for
the redemption of the bonds given by him, the captain. As far as these
bonds were concerned the captain would thus be a free man. There could
be no doubt that nothing but benefit was intended for him,--as though he
were himself the heir. "Though as to that I have no hesitation in
telling you that, you will at your father's death have no right to a
shilling of the property." The captain had said that he was quite
willing, and had signed the deed. He was glad that these bonds should be
recovered so cheaply. But as to the property,--and here he spoke with
much spirit to Mr. Grey,--it was his purpose at his father's death to
endeavor to regain his position. He would never believe, he said, that
his mother was--Then he turned away, and, in spite of all that had come
and gone, Mr. Grey respected him.

But he had signed the deed, and the necessity for his presence was over.
What should his brother do with him now? He could not keep him
concealed,--or not concealed,--in his rooms. But something must be done.
Some mode of living must be invented for him. Abroad! Augustus said to
himself,--and to Septimus Jones, who was his confidential friend,--that
Mountjoy must live "abroad."

"Oh yes; he must go abroad. There's no doubt about that. It's the only
place for him." So spoke Septimus Jones, who, though confidential
friend, was not admitted to the post of confidential adviser. Augustus
liked to have a depositary for his resolutions, but would admit no
advice. And Septimus Jones had become so much his creature that he had
to obey him in all things.

We are apt to think that a man may be disposed of by being made go
abroad; or, if he is absolutely penniless and useless, by being sent to
the colonies,--that he may become a shepherd and drink himself out of the
world. To kill the man, so that he may be no longer a nuisance, is
perhaps the chief object in both cases. But it was not easy to get the
captain to go abroad unless, indeed, he was sent back to Monte Carlo.
Some Monte Carlo, such as a club might be with stakes practically
unlimited, was the first desire of his heart. But behind that, or
together with it, was an anxious longing to remain near Tretton and "see
it out," as he called it, when his father should die. His father must
die very shortly, and he would like "to see it out," as he told Mr.
Grey; and, with this wish, there was a longing also for the company of
Florence Mountjoy.

He used to tell himself, in those moments of sad thoughts,--thoughts
serious as well as sad, which will come even to a gambler,--that if he
could have Tretton and Florence Mountjoy he would never touch another
card. And there was present to him an assurance that his aunt, Mrs.
Mountjoy, would still be on his side. If he could talk over his
circumstances with Mrs. Mountjoy, he thought that he might be encouraged
to recover his position as an English gentleman. His debts at the club
had already been paid, and he had met on the sly a former friend, who
had given him some hope that he might be re-admitted. But at the present
moment his mind turned to Brussels. He had learned that Florence and her
mother were at the embassy there, and, though he hesitated, still he
desired to go. But this was not the "abroad" contemplated by Augustus.
Augustus did not think it well that his father's bastard son, who had
been turned out of a London club for not paying his card debts, and had
then disappeared in a mysterious way for six months, should show himself
at the British embassy, and there claim admittance and relationship. Nor
was he anxious that his brother should see Florence Mountjoy. He had
suggested a prolonged tour in South America, which he had declared to be
the most interesting country in the world. "I think I had rather go to
Brussels," Mountjoy had answered, gallantly, keeping his seat in the
arm-chair and picking his teeth the while. This occurred on the evening
before that on which we found them just now. On the morning of that day
Mountjoy had had his interview with Mr. Grey.

Augustus had declared that he intended to dine out. This he had said in
disgust at his brother's behavior. No doubt he could get his dinner at
ten minutes' notice. He had not been expelled from his club. But he had
ordered the dinner on that day with a view to eat it himself, and in
effect he carried out his purpose. The captain got up, thinking to go
alone when the dinner was announced, but expressed himself gratified
when his brother said that he "had changed his mind." "You made yourself
such an ass about shutting the door that I resolved to leave you to
yourself. But come along." And he accompanied the captain into the other
room.

A very pretty little dinner was prepared,--quite such as one loving
friend might give to another, when means are sufficient,--such a dinner
as the heir of Tretton might have given to his younger brother. The
champagne was excellent, and the bottle of Leoville. Mountjoy partook of
all the good things with much gusto, thinking all the while that he
ought to have been giving the dinner to his younger brother. When that
conversation had sprung up about going to Brussels or South America,
Mountjoy had suggested a loan. "I'll pay your fare to Rio, and give you
an order on a banker there." Mountjoy had replied that that would not at
all suit his purpose. Then Augustus had felt that it would be almost
better to send his brother even to Brussels than to keep him concealed
in London. He had been there now for three or four days, and, even in
respect of his maintenance, had become a burden. The pretty little
dinners had to be found every day, and were eaten by the captain alone,
when left alone, without an attempt at an apology on his part. Augustus
had begun with some intention of exhibiting his mode of life. He would
let his brother know what it was to be the heir of Tretton. No doubt he
did assume all the outward glitter of his position, expecting to fill
his brother's heart with envy. But Mountjoy had seen and understood it
all; and remembering the days, not long removed, when he had been the
heir, he bethought himself that he had never shown off before his
brother. And he was determined to express no gratitude or thankfulness.
He would go on eating the little dinners exactly as though they had been
furnished by himself. It certainly was dull. There was no occupation for
him, and in the matter of pocket-money he was lamentably ill-supplied.
But he was gradually becoming used to face the streets again and had
already entered the shops of one or two of his old tradesmen. He had
quite a confidential conversation with his boot-maker, and had ordered
three or four new pairs of boots.

Nobody could tell how the question of the property would be decided till
his father should have died. His father had treated him most cruelly,
and he would only wait for his death. He could assure the boot-maker
that when that time came he should look for his rights. He knew that
there was a suspicion abroad that he was in a conspiracy with his father
and brother to cheat his creditors. No such thing. He himself was
cheated. He pledged himself to the boot-maker that, to the best of his
belief, his father was robbing him, and that he would undoubtedly assert
his right to the Tretton property as soon as the breath should be out of
his father's body. The truth of what he told the boot-maker he certainly
did believe. There was some little garnishing added to his tale,--which,
perhaps, under the circumstances, was to be forgiven. The blow had come
upon him so suddenly, he said, that he was not able even to pay his card
account, and had left town in dismay at the mine which had been exploded
under his feet. The boot-maker believed him so far that he undertook to
supply his orders.

When the dinner had been eaten the two brothers lit their cigars and
drew to the fire. "There must, unfortunately, come an end to this, you
know," said Augustus.

"I certainly can't stand it much longer," said Mountjoy.

"You, at any rate, have had the best of it. I have endeavored to make my
little crib comfortable for you."

"The grub is good, and the wine. There's no doubt about that. Somebody
says somewhere that nobody can live upon bread alone. That includes the
whole _menu_, I suppose."

"What do you suggest to do with yourself?"

"You said, go abroad."

"So I did--to Rio."

"Rio is a long way off,--somewhere across the equator, isn't it?"

"I believe it is."

"I think we'd better have it out clearly between us, Augustus. It won't
suit me to be at Rio Janeiro when our father dies."

"What difference will his death make to you?"

"A father's death generally does make a difference to his eldest son,
particularly if there is any property concerned."

"You mean to say that you intend to dispute the circumstances of your
birth?"

"Dispute them! Do you think that I will allow such a thing to be said of
my mother without disputing it? Do you suppose that I will give up my
claim to one of the finest properties in England without disputing it?"

"Then I had better stop the payment of that money, and let the gentlemen
know that you mean to raise the question on their behalf."

"That's your affair. The arrangement is a very good one for me; but you
made it."

"You know very well that your present threat means nothing. Ask Mr.
Grey. You can trust him."

"But I can't trust him. After having been so wickedly deceived by my own
father, I can trust no one. Why did not Mr. Grey find it out before, if
it be true? I give you my word, Augustus, the lawyers will have to fight
it out before you will be allowed to take possession."

"And yet you do not scruple to come and live here at my cost."

"Not in the least. At whose cost can I live with less scruple than at
yours? You, at any rate, have not robbed our mother of her good name, as
my father has done. The only one of the family with whom I could not
stay is the governor. I could not sit at the table with a man who has so
disgraced himself."

"Upon my word I am very much obliged to you for the honor you do me."

"That's my feeling. The chance of the game and his villany have given
you for the moment the possession of all the good things. They are all
mine by rights."

"Cards have had nothing to do with it."

"Yes; they have. But they have had nothing to do with my being the
eldest legitimate son of my father. The cards have been against me, but
they have not affected my mother. Then there came the blow from the
governor, and where was I to look for my bread but to you? I suppose, if
the truth be known, you get the money from the governor."

"Of course I do. But not for your maintenance."

"On what does he suppose that I have been living since last June? It
mayn't be in the bond, but I suppose he has made allowance for my
maintenance. Do you mean to say that I am not to have bread-and-cheese
out of Tretton?"

"If I were to turn you out of these rooms you'd find it very difficult
to get it."

"I don't think you'll do that."

"I'm not so sure."

"You're meditating it,--are you? I shouldn't go just at present, because
I have not got a sovereign in the world. I was going to speak to you
about money. You must let me have some."

"Upon my word, I like your impudence!"

"What the devil am I to do? The governor has asked me to go down to
Tretton, and I can't go without a five-pound note in my pocket."

"The governor has asked you to Tretton?"

"Why not? I got a letter from him this morning." Then Augustus asked to
see the letter, but Mountjoy refused to show it. From this there arose
angry words, and Augustus told his brother that he did not believe him.
"Not believe me? You do believe me! You know that what I say is the
truth, He has asked me with all his usual soft soap. But I have refused
to go. I told him that I could not go to the house of one who had
injured my mother so seriously."

All that Mountjoy said as to the proposed visit to Tretton was true. The
squire had written to him without mentioning the name of Augustus, and
had told him that, for the present, Tretton would be the best home for
him. "I will do what I can to make you happy, but you will not see a
card," the squire had said. It was not the want of cards which prevented
Mountjoy, but a feeling on his part that for the future there could be
nothing but war between him and his father. It was out of the question
that he should accept his father's hospitality without telling him of
his intention, and he did not know his father well enough to feel that
such a declaration would not affect him at all. He had, therefore,
declined.

Then Harry Annesley's name was mentioned. "I think I've done for that
fellow," said Augustus.

"What have you done?"

"I've cooked his goose. In the first place, his uncle has stopped his
allowance, and in the second place the old fellow is going to marry a
wife. At any rate, he has quarrelled with Master Harry _à outrance_.
Master Harry has gone back to the parental parsonage, and is there
eating the bread of affliction and drinking the waters of poverty.
Flossy Mountjoy may marry him if she pleases. A girl may marry a man now
without leave from anybody. But if she does my dear cousin will have
nothing to eat."

"And you have done this?"

"'Alone I did it, boy.'"

"Then it's an infernal shame. What harm had he ever done you? For me I
had some ground of quarrel with him, but for you there was none."

"I have my own quarrel with him also."

"I quarrelled with him--with a cause. I do not care if I quarrel with
him again. He shall never marry Florence Mountjoy if I can help it. But
to rob a fellow of his property I think a very shabby thing." Then
Augustus got up and walked out of the chambers into the street, and
Mountjoy soon followed him.

"I must make him understand that he must leave this at once," said
Augustus to himself, "and if necessary I must order the supplies to be
cut off."



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

THE SCARBOROUGH CORRESPONDENCE.


It was as Mountjoy had said. The squire had written to him a letter
inviting him to Tretton, and telling him that it would be the best home
for him till death should have put Tretton into other hands. Mountjoy
had thought the matter over, sitting in the easy-chair in his brother's
room, and had at last declined the invitation. As his letter was
emblematic of the man, it may be as well to give it to the reader:

"My dear father,--I don't think it will suit me to go down to Tretton at
present. I don't mind the cards, and I don't doubt that you would make
it better than this place. But, to tell the truth, I don't believe a
word of what you have told to the world about my mother, and some of
these days I mean to have it out with Augustus. I shall not sit quietly
by and see Tretton taken out of my mouth. Therefore I think I had better
not go to Tretton.

"Yours truly,

"MOUNTJOY SCARBOROUGH."

This had not at all surprised the father, and had not in the least
angered him. He rather liked his son for standing up for his mother, and
was by no means offended at the expression of his son's incredulity. But
what was there in the prospect of a future lawsuit to prevent his son
coming to Tretton? There need be no word spoken as to the property.
Tretton would be infinitely more comfortable than those rooms in
Victoria Street, and he, was aware that the hospitality of Victoria
Street would not be given in an ungrudging spirit. "I shouldn't like
it," said the old squire to himself as he lay quiet on his sofa. "I
shouldn't like at all to be the humble guest of Augustus. Augustus would
certainly say a nasty word or two."

The old man knew his younger son well, and he had known, too, the
character of his elder son; but he had not calculated enough on the
change which must have been made by such a revelation as he, his father,
had made to him. Mountjoy had felt that all the world was against him,
and that, as best he might, he would make use of all the world,
excepting only his father, who of all the world was the falsest and the
most cruel. As for his brother, he would bleed his brother to the very
last drop without any compunction. Every bottle of champagne that came
into the house was, to Mountjoy's thinking, his own, bought with his
money, and therefore fit to be enjoyed by him. But as for his father, he
doubted whether he could remain with his father without flying at his
throat.

The old man decidedly preferred his elder son of the two. He had found
that Augustus could not bear success, and had first come to dislike him,
and then to hate him. What had he not done for Augustus? And with what a
return! No doubt Augustus had, till the spring of this present year,
been kept in the background; but no injury had come to him from that.
His father, of his own good will, with infinite labor and successful
ingenuity, had struggled to put him back in the place which had been
taken from him. Augustus might, not unnaturally, have expressed himself
as angry. He had not done so but had made himself persistently
disagreeable, and had continued to show that he was waiting impatiently
for his father's death. It had come to pass that at their last meeting
he had hardly scrupled to tell his father that the world would be no
world for him till his father had left it. This was the reward which the
old man received for having struggled to provide handsomely and
luxuriously for his son! He still made his son a sufficient allowance
befitting the heir of a man of large property, but he had resolved never
to see him again. It was true that he almost hated him, and thoroughly
despised him.

But since the departure and mysterious disappearance of his eldest son
his regard for the sinner had returned. He had become apparently a
hopeless gambler. His debts had been paid and repaid. At last the
squire had learned that Mountjoy owed so much on post-obits that the
farther payment of them was an impossibility. There was no way of saving
him. To save the property he must undo the doings of his early youth,
and prove that the elder son was illegitimate. He had still kept the
proofs, and he did it.

To the great disgust of Mr. Grey, to the dismay of creditors, to the
incredulous wonder of Augustus, and almost to the annihilation of
Mountjoy himself, he had done it. But there had been nothing in
Mountjoy's conduct which had in truth wounded him. Mountjoy's vices had
been dangerous, destructive, absurdly foolish, but not, to his father, a
shame. He ridiculed gambling as a source of excitement. No man could win
much without dishonest practices, and fraud at cards would certainly be
detected. But he did not on that account hate cards. There was no reason
why Mountjoy should not become to him as pleasant a companion as ever
for the few days that might be left to him, if only he would come. But,
when asked, he refused to come. When the squire received the letter
above given he was not in the least angry with his son, but simply
determined, if possible, that he should be brought to Tretton.
Mountjoy's debts would now be paid, and something, if possible, should
be done for him. He was so angry with Augustus that he would, if
possible, revoke his last decision;--but that, alas! would be impossible.

Sir William Brodrick had, when he last saw him, expressed some hope,--not
of his recovery, which was by all admitted to be impossible,--but of his
continuance in the land of the living for another three months, or
perhaps six, as Sir William had finally suggested, opening out, as he
himself seemed to think, indefinite hope. "The most wonderful
constitution, Mr. Scarborough, I ever saw in my life. I've never known a
dog even so cut about, and yet bear it." Mr. Scarborough bowed and
smiled, and accepted the compliment. He would have taken the hat off his
head, had it been his practice to wear a hat in his sitting-room. Mr.
Merton had gone farther. Of course he did not mean, he said, to set up
his opinion against Sir William's; but if Mr. Scarborough would live
strictly by rule, Mr. Merton did not see why either three months or six
should be the end of it. Mr. Scarborough had replied that he could not
undertake to live precisely by rule, and Mr. Merton had shaken his head.
But from that time forth Mr. Scarborough did endeavor to obey the
injunctions given to him. He had something worth doing in the six months
now offered to him.

He had heard lately very much of the story of Harry Annesley, and had
expressed great anger at the ill-usage to which that young man had been
subjected. It had come to his ears that it was intended that Harry
should lose the property he had expected, and that he had already lost
his immediate income. This had come to him through Mr. Merton, between
whom and Augustus Scarborough there was no close friendship. And the
squire understood that Florence Mountjoy had been the cause of Harry's
misfortune. He himself recognized it as a fact that his son Mountjoy was
unfit to marry any young lady. Starvation would assuredly stare such
young lady in the face. But not the less was he acerbated and disgusted
at the idea that Augustus should endeavor to take the young lady to
himself. "What!" he had exclaimed to Mr. Merton; "he wants both the
property and the girl. There is nothing on earth that he does not want.
The greater the impropriety in his craving, the stronger the craving."
Then he picked up by degrees all the details of the midnight feud
between Harry and Mountjoy, and set himself to work to undermine
Augustus. But he had steadily carried out the plan for settling with the
creditors, and, with the aid of Mr. Grey, had, as he thought, already
concluded that business. Conjunction with Augustus had been necessary,
but that had been obtained.

It is not too much to say that, at the present moment of his life, the
idea of doing some injury to Augustus was the one object which exercised
Mr. Scarborough's mind. Since he had fallen into business relations with
his younger son he had become convinced that a more detestable young man
did not exist. The reader will, perhaps, agree with Mr. Scarborough, but
it can hardly be hoped that he should entertain the opinion as strongly.

Augustus was now the recognized eldest legitimate son of the squire; and
as the property was entailed it must no doubt belong to him. But the
squire was turning in his mind all means of depriving that condition as
far as was possible of its glory. When he had first heard of the injury
that had been done to Harry Annesley, he thought that he would leave to
our hero all the furniture, all the gems, all the books, all the wine,
all the cattle which were accumulated at Tretton. Augustus should have
the bare acres, and still barer house, but nothing else. In thinking of
this he had been actuated by a conviction that it would be useless for
him to leave them to Mountjoy. Whatever might be left to Mountjoy would
in fact be left to the creditors; and therefore Harry Annesley with his
injuries had been felt to be a proper recipient, not of the squire's
bounty, but of the results of his hatred for his son.

To run counter to the law! That had ever been the chief object of the
squire's ambition. To arrange everything so that it should be seen that
he had set all laws at defiance! That had been his great pride. He had
done so notably, and with astonishing astuteness, in reference to his
wife and two sons. But now there had come up a condition of things in
which he could again show his cleverness. Augustus had been most anxious
to get up all the post-obit bonds which the creditors held, feeling, as
his father well understood, that he would thus prevent them from making
any farther inquiry when the squire should have died. Why should they
stir in the matter by going to law when there would be nothing to be
gained? Those bonds had now been redeemed, and were in the possession of
Mr. Grey. They had been bought up nominally by himself, and must be
given to him. Mr. Grey, at any rate, would have the proof that they had
been satisfied. They could not be used again to gratify any spite that
Augustus might entertain. The captain, therefore, could now enjoy any
property which might be left to him. Of course, it would all go to the
gaming-table. It might even yet be better to leave it to Harry Annesley.
But blood was thicker than water,--though it were but the blood of a
bastard. He would do a good turn for Harry in another way. All the
furniture, and all the gems, and all the money, should again be the
future property of Mountjoy.

But in order that this might be effected before he died he must not let
the grass grow under his feet. He thought of the promised three months,
with a possible extension to six, as suggested by Sir William. "Sir
William says three months," he said to Mr. Merton, speaking in the
easiest way of the possibility of his living.

"He said six."

"Ah! that is, if I do what I'm told. But I shall not exactly do that.
Three or six would be all the same, only for a little bit of business I
want to get through. Sir William's orders would include the abandonment
of my business."

"The less done the better. Then I do not see why Sir William should
limit you to six months."

"I think that three will nearly suffice."

"A man does not want to die, I suppose," said Merton.

"There are various ways of looking at that question," replied the
squire. "Many men desire the prolongation of life as a lengthened period
of enjoyment. There is, perhaps, something of that feeling with me; but
when you see how far I am crippled and curtailed, how my enjoyments are
confined to breathing the air, to eating and drinking, and to the
occasional reading of a few pages, you must admit that there cannot be
much of that. A conversation with you is the best of it. Some want to
live for the sake of their wives and children. In the ordinary
acceptation of the words, that is all over with me. Many desire to live
because they fear to die. There is nothing of that in me, I can assure
you. I am not afraid to meet my Creator. But there are those who wish
for life that their purposes of love, or stronger purposes of hatred,
may be accomplished. I am among the number. But, on that account, I only
wish it till those purposes have been completed. I think I'll go to
sleep for an hour; but there are a couple of letters I want you to write
before post-time." Then Mr. Scarborough turned himself round and thought
of the letters he was to write. Mr. Merton went out, and as he wandered
about the park in the dirt and slush of December tried to make up his
mind whether he most admired his patron's philosophy or condemned his
general lack of principle.

At the proper hour he appeared again, and found Mr. Scarborough quite
alert. "I don't know whether I shall have the three months, unless I
behave better," he said. "I have been thinking about those letters, and
very nearly made an attempt to write them. There are things about a son
which a father doesn't wish to communicate to any one." Merton only
shook his head. "I'm not a bit afraid of you, nor do I care for your
knowing what I have to say. But there are words which it would be
difficult even to write, and almost impossible to dictate." But he did
make the attempt, though he did not find himself able to say all that he
had intended. The first letter was to the lawyer:

"My dear Mr. Grey,--You will be surprised at my writing to summon you
once again to my bedside. I think there was some kind of a promise made
that the request should not be repeated; but the circumstances are of
such a nature that I do not well know how to avoid it. However, if you
refuse to come, I will give you my instructions. It is my purpose to
make another will, and to leave everything that I am capable of leaving
to my son Mountjoy. You are aware that he is now free from debt, and
capable of enjoying any property that he may possess. As circumstances
are at present he would on my death be absolutely penniless, and Heaven
help the man who should find himself dependent on the mercy of Augustus
Scarborough.

"What I possess would be the balance at the bank, the house in town, and
everything contained in and about Tretton, as to which I should wish
that the will should be very explicit in making it understood that every
conceivable item of property is to belong to Mountjoy. I know the
strength of an entail, and not for worlds would I venture to meddle with
anything so holy." There came a grin of satisfaction over his face as he
uttered these words, and his scribe was utterly unable to keep from
laughing. "But as Augustus must have the acres, let him have them bare."

"Underscore that word, if you please;" and the word was underscored. "If
I had time I would have every tree about the place cut down."

"I don't think you could under the entail," said Merton.

"I would use up every stick in building the farmers' barns and mending
the farmers' gates, and I would cover an acre just in front of the house
with a huge conservatory. I respect the law, my boy, and they would find
it difficult to prove that I had gone beyond it. But there is no time
for that kind of finished revenge."

Then he went on with the letter: "You will understand what I mean. I
wish to divide my property so that Mountjoy may have everything that is
not strictly entailed. You will of course say that it will all go to the
gambling-table. It may go to the devil, so that Augustus does not have
it. But it need not go to the gambling-table. If you would consent to
come down to me once more we might possibly devise some scheme for
saving it. But whether we can do so or not, it is my request that my
last will may be prepared in accordance with these instructions.

"Very faithfully yours,

"JOHN SCARBOROUGH."

"And now for the other," said Mr. Scarborough.

"Had you not better rest a bit?" asked Merton.

"No; this is a kind of work at which a man does not want to rest. He is
carried on by his own solicitudes and his own eagerness. This will be
very short, and when it is done then, perhaps, I may sleep."

The second letter was as follows:

"My dear Mountjoy,--I think you are foolish in allowing yourself to be
prevented from coming here by a sentiment. But in truth, independently
of the pleasure I should derive from your company, I wish you to be here
on a matter of business which is of some importance to yourself. I am
about to make a new will; and although I am bound to pay every respect
to the entail, and would not for worlds do anything in opposition to the
law, still I may be enabled to do something for your benefit. Your
brother has kindly interfered for the payment of your creditors; and as
all the outstanding bonds have been redeemed, you would now, by his
generosity, be enabled to enjoy any property which might be left to you.
There are a few tables and chairs at my disposal, and a gem or two, and
some odd volumes which perhaps you might like to possess. I have written
to Mr. Grey on the subject, and I would wish you to see him. This you
might do, whether you come here or not. But I do not the less wish that
you should come.

"Your affectionate father,

"JOHN SCARBOROUGH."

"I think that the odd volumes will fetch him. He was always fond of
literature."

"I suppose it means the entire library?" replied Merton.

"And he likes tables and chairs. I think he will come and look after the
tables and chairs."

"Why not beds and washhand-stands?" said Mr. Merton.

"Well, yes; he may have the beds and washhand-stands. Mountjoy is not a
fool, and will understand very well what I mean. I wonder whether I
could scrape the paper off the drawing-room walls, and leave the scraps
to his brother, without interfering with the entail? But now I am tired,
and will rest."

But he did not even then go to rest, but lay still scheming, scheming,
scheming, about the property. There was now another letter to be
written, for the writing of which he would not again summon Mr. Merton.
He was half ashamed to do so, and at last sent for his sister. "Martha,"
said he, "I want you to write a letter for me."

"Mr. Merton has been writing letters for you all the morning."

"That's just the reason why you should write one now. I am still in some
slight degree afraid of his authority, but I am not at all afraid of
yours."

"You ought to be quiet, John; indeed you ought."

"And, in order that I may be quiet, you must write this letter. It's
nothing particular, or I should not have asked you to do it. It's only
an invitation."

"An invitation to ask somebody here?"

"Yes; to ask somebody to come here. I don't know whether he'll come."

"Do I know him?"

"I hope you may, if he comes. He's a very good-looking young man, if
that is anything."

"Don't talk nonsense, John."

"But I believe he's engaged to another young lady, with whom I must beg
you not to interfere. You remember Florence?"

"Florence Mountjoy? Of course I remember my own niece."

"The young man is engaged to her."

"She was intended for poor Mountjoy."

"Poor Mountjoy has put himself beyond all possibility of a wife."

"Poor Mountjoy!"--and the soft-hearted aunt almost shed tears.

"But we haven't to do with Mountjoy now. Sit down there and begin. 'Dear
Mr. Annesley--'"

"Oh! It's Mr. Annesley, is it?"

"Yes, it is. Mr. Annesley is the handsome young man. Have you any
objection?"

"Only people do say--"

"What do they say?"

"Of course I don't know; only I have heard--"

"That he is a scoundrel!"

"Scoundrel is very strong," said the old lady, shocked.

"A villain, a liar, a thief, and all the rest of it. That's what you
have heard. And I'll tell you who has been your informant. Either first
or second hand, it has come to you from Mr. Augustus Scarborough. Now
we'll begin again. 'Dear Mr. Annesley--'" The old lady paused a moment,
and then, setting herself firmly to the task, commenced and finished her
letter, as follows:

"Dear Mr. Annesley,--You spent a few days here on one occasion, and I
want to renew the pleasure which your visit gave me. Will you extend
your kindness so far as to come to Tretton for any time you may please
to name beyond two or three days? I am sorry to say that your friend
Augustus Scarborough cannot be here to meet you. My other son, Mountjoy,
may be here. If you wish to escape him, I will endeavor so to fix the
time when I shall have heard from you. But I think there need be no ill
blood there. Neither of you did anything of which you are, probably,
ashamed; though as an old man I am bound to express my disapproval."

("Surely he must be ashamed," said Miss Scarborough.

"Never you mind. Believe me, you know nothing about it." Then he went on
with his letter.)

"But it is not merely for the pleasure of your society that I ask you. I
have a word to say to you which may be important. Yours faithfully,

"JOHN SCARBOROUGH."



CHAPTER XXXIX.

HOW THE LETTERS WERE RECEIVED.


We must now describe the feelings of Mr. Scarborough's correspondents as
they received his letters. When Mr. Grey begun to read that which was
addressed to him he declared that on no consideration would he go down
to Tretton. But when he came to inquire within himself as to his
objection he found that it lay chiefly in his great dislike to Augustus
Scarborough. For poor Mountjoy, as he called him, he entertained a
feeling of deep pity,--and pity we know, is akin to love. And for the
squire, he in his heart felt but little of that profound dislike which
he was aware such conduct as the squire's ought to have generated. "He
is the greatest rascal that I ever knew," he said again and again, both
to Dolly and to Mr. Barry. But yet he did not regard him as an honest
man regards a rascal, and was angry with himself in consequence. He knew
that there remained with him even some spark of love for Mr.
Scarborough, which to himself was inexplicable. From the moment in which
he had first admitted the fact that Augustus Scarborough was the true
heir-at-law, he had been most determined in taking care that that
heirship should be established. It must be known to all men that
Mountjoy was not the eldest son of his father, as the law required him
to be for the inheritance of the property, and that Augustus was the
eldest son; but in arranging that these truths should be notorious it
had come to pass that he had learned to hate Augustus with an intensity
that had redounded to the advantage both of Mountjoy and their father.
It must be so. Augustus must become Augustus Scarborough, Esquire, of
Tretton,--but the worse luck for Tretton and all connected with it. And
Mr. Grey did resolve that, when that day should come, all relation
between himself and Tretton should cease.

It had never occurred to him that, by redeeming the post-obit bonds,
Mountjoy would become capable of owning and enjoying any property that
might be left to him. With Tretton, all the belongings of Tretton, in
the old-fashioned way, would, of course, go to the heir. The belongings
of Tretton, which were personal property, would, in themselves, amount
to wealth for a younger son. That which Mr. Scarborough would in this
way be able to bequeath might, probably, be worth thirty thousand
pounds. Out of the proceeds of the real property the debts had been
paid. And because Augustus had consented so to pay them he was now to be
mulcted of those loose belongings which gave its charm to Tretton!
Because Augustus had paid Mountjoy's debts Mountjoy was to be enabled to
rob Augustus! There was a wickedness in this redolent of the old squire.
But it was a wickedness in arranging which Mr. Grey hesitated to
participate. As he thought of it, however, he could not but feel what a
very clever man he had for a client.

"It will all go to the gambling-table, of course," he said that night to
Dolly.

"It is no affair of ours."

"No; but when a lawyer is consulted he has to think of the prudent or
imprudent disposition of property."

"Mr. Scarborough hasn't consulted you, papa."

"I must look at it as though he had. He tells me what he intends to do,
and I am bound to give him my advice. I cannot advise him to bestow all
these things on Augustus, whom I regard as a long way the worst of the
family."

"You need not care about that."

"And here, again," continued Mr. Grey, "comes up the question,--what is
it that duty demands? Augustus is the eldest son, and is entitled to
what the law allots him; but Mountjoy was brought up as the eldest son,
and is certainly entitled to what provision the father can make him."

"You cannot provide for such a gambler."

"I don't know that that comes within my duty. It is not my fault that
Mountjoy is a gambler, any more than that it is my fault that Augustus
is a beast. Gambler and beast, there they are. And, moreover, nothing
will turn the squire from his purpose. I am only a tool in his hands,--a
trowel for the laying of his mortar and bricks. Of course I must draw
his will, and shall do it with some pleasure, because it will dispossess
Augustus."

Then Mr. Grey went to bed, as did also Dolly; but she was not at all
surprised at being summoned to his couch after she had been an hour in
her own bed.

"I think I shall go down to Tretton," said Mr. Grey.

"You declared that you would never go there again."

"So I did; but I did not know then how much I might come to hate
Augustus Scarborough."

"Would you go to Tretton merely to injure him?" said his daughter.

"I have been thinking about that," said Mr. Grey. "I don't know that I
would go simply to do him an injury; but I think that I would go to see
that justice is properly done."

"That can be arranged without your going to Tretton."

"By putting our heads together I think we can contrive that the deed
shall be more effectually performed. What we must attempt to do is to
save this property from going to the gambling-table. There is only one
way that occurs to me."

"What is that?"

"It must be left to his wife."

"He hasn't a wife."

"It must be left to some woman whom he will consent to marry. There are
three objects:--to keep it from Augustus; to give the enjoyment of it to
Mountjoy; and to prevent Mountjoy from gambling with it. The only thing
I can see is a wife."

"There is a girl he wants to marry," said Dolly.

"But she doesn't want to marry him, and I doubt whether he can be got to
marry any one else. There is still a peck of difficulties."

"Oh, papa, I wish you would wash your hands of the Scarboroughs."

"I must go to Tretton first," said he. "And now, my dear, you are doing
no good by sitting up here and talking to me." Then, with a smile, Dolly
took herself off to her own chamber.

Mountjoy, when he got his letter, was sitting over a late breakfast in
Victoria Street. It was near twelve o'clock, and he was enjoying the
delicious luxury of having his breakfast to eat, with a cigar after it,
and nothing else that he need do. But the fruition of all these comforts
was somewhat marred by the knowledge that he had no such dinner to
expect. He must go out and look for a dinner among the eating-houses.
The next morning would bring him no breakfast, and if he were to remain
longer in Victoria Street he must do so in direct opposition to the
owner of the establishment. He had that morning received notice to quit,
and had been told that the following breakfast would be the last meal
served to him. "Let it be good of its kind," Mountjoy had said.

"I believe you care for nothing but eating and drinking."

"There's little else that you can do for me." And so they had parted.

Mountjoy had taken the precaution of having his letters addressed to the
house of the friendly bootmaker; and now, as he was slowly pouring out
his first cup of coffee, and thinking how nearly it must be his last,
his father's letter was brought to him. The letter had been delayed one
day, as he himself had omitted to call for it. It was necessarily a sad
time for him. He was a man who fought hard against melancholy, taking it
as a primary rule of life that, for such a one as he had become, the
pleasures of the immediate moment should suffice. If one day, or better
still, one night of excitement was in store for him, the next day should
be regarded as the unlimited future, for which no man can be
responsible. But such philosophy will too frequently be insufficient for
the stoutest hearts. Mountjoy's heart would occasionally almost give
way, and then his thoughts would be dreary enough. Hunger, absolute
hunger, without the assured expectation of food, had never yet come upon
him; but in order to put a stop to its cravings, if he should find it
troublesome to bear, he had already provided himself with pistol and
bullets.

And now, with his cup of coffee before him, aromatic, creamy, and hot,
with a filleted sole rolled up before him on a little dish, three or
four plover's eggs, on which to finish, lying by, and, on the distance
of the table, a chasse of brandy, of which he already well knew the
virtues, he got his father's letter. He did not at first open it,
disliking all thoughts as to his father. Then gradually he tore the
envelope, and was slow in understanding the full meaning of the last
lines. He did not at once perceive the irony of "his brother's kindly
interference," and of the "generosity" which had enabled him, Mountjoy,
to be a recipient of property. But his father purposed to do something
for his benefit. Gradually it dawned upon him that his father could only
do that something effectually because of his brother's dealings with the
creditors.

Then the chairs and the tables, and the gem or two, and the odd
volumes, one by one, made themselves intelligible. That a father should
write so to one son, and should so write of another, was marvellous. But
then his father was a marvellous man, whose character he was only
beginning to understand. His father, he told himself, had, fortunately,
taken it into his head to hate Augustus, and intended, in consequence,
to strip Tretton and the property generally of all their outside
personal belongings.

Yes; he thought that, with such an object before him, he would certainly
go and see Mr. Grey. And if Mr. Grey should so advise him he would go
down to Tretton. On such business as this he would consent to see his
father. He did not think that just at present he need have recourse to
his pistol for his devices. He could not on the very day go to Tretton,
as it would be necessary that he should write to his father first. His
brother would probably extend his hospitality for a couple of days when
he should hear of the proposed journey, and, if not, would lend him
money for his present purposes, or under existing circumstances he might
probably be able to borrow it from Mr. Grey. With a heart elevated to
almost absolute bliss he ate his breakfast, and drank his chasse, and
smoked his cigar, and then rose slowly, that he might proceed to Mr.
Grey's chambers. But at this moment Augustus came in. He had only
breakfasted at his own club, much less comfortably than he would have
done at home, in order that he might not sit at table with his brother.
He had now returned so that he might see to Mountjoy's departure. "After
all, Augustus, I am going down to Tretton," said the elder brother as he
folded up his father's letter.

"What argument has the old man used now?" Mountjoy did not think it well
to tell his brother the exact nature of the arguments used, and
therefore put the letter into his pocket.

"He wishes to say something to me about property," said Mountjoy.

Then some idea of the old squire's scheme fell with a crushing weight of
anticipated sorrow on Augustus. In a moment it all occurred to him what
his father might do, what injuries he might inflict; and,--saddest of all
feelings,--there came the immediate reflection that it had all been
rendered possible by his own doings. With the conviction that so much
might be left away from him, there came also a farther feeling that,
after all, there was a chance that his father had invented the story of
his brother's illegitimacy, that Mountjoy was now free from debt, and
that Tretton, with all its belongings, might now go back to him. That
his father would do it if it were possible he did not doubt. From week
to week he had waited impatiently for his father's demise, and had
expected little or none of that mental activity which his father had
exercised. "What a fool he had been," he said to himself, sitting
opposite to Mountjoy, who in the vacancy of the moment had lighted
another cigar; "what an ass!" Had he played his cards better, had he
comforted and flattered and cosseted the old man, Mountjoy might have
gone his own way to the dogs. Now, at the best, Tretton would come to
him stripped of everything; and,--at the worst,--no Tretton would come to
him at all. "Well, what are you going to do?" he said, roughly.

"I think I shall, probably, go down and just see the governor."

"All your feelings about your mother, then, are blown to the winds?"

"My feelings about your mother are not blown to the winds at all; but to
speak of her to you would be wasting breath."

"I hadn't the pleasure of knowing her," said Augustus. "And I am not
aware that she did me any great kindness in bringing me into the world.
Do you go to Tretton this afternoon?"

"Probably not."

"Or to-morrow?"

"Possibly to-morrow," said Mountjoy.

"Because I shall find it convenient to have your room."

"To-day, of course, I cannot stir. To-morrow morning I should, at any
rate, like to have my breakfast." Here he paused for a reply, but none
came from his brother. "I must have some money to go down to Tretton
with; I suppose you can lend it me just for the present?"

"Not a shilling," said Augustus, in thorough ill-humor.

"I shall be able to pay you very shortly."

"Not a shilling. The return I have had from you for all that I have done
is not of a nature to make me do more."

"If I had ever thought that you had expended a sovereign except for the
object of furthering some plot of your own, I should have been grateful.
As it is I do not know that we owe very much to each other." Then he
left the room, and, getting into a cab, went away to Lincoln's Inn.

Harry Annesley received Mr. Scarborough's letter down at Buston, and was
much surprised by it. He had not spent the winter hitherto very
pleasantly. His uncle he had never seen, though he had heard from day
to day sundry stories of his wooing. He had soon given up his hunting,
feeling himself ashamed, in his present nameless position, to ride
Joshua Thoroughbung's horses. He had taken to hard reading, but the hard
reading had failed, and he had been given up to the miseries of his
position. The hard reading had been continued for a fortnight or three
weeks, during which he had, at any rate, respected himself, but in an
evil hour he had allowed it to escape from him, and now was again
miserable. Then the invitation from Tretton had been received. "I have
got a letter; 'tis from Mr. Scarborough of Tretton."

"What does Mr. Scarborough say?"

"He wants me to go down there."

"Do you know Mr. Scarborough? I believe you have altogether quarrelled
with his son?"

"Oh yes; I have quarrelled with Augustus, and have had an encounter with
Mountjoy not on the most friendly terms. But the father and Mountjoy
seem to be reconciled. You can see his letter. I, at any rate, shall go
there." To this Mr. Annesley senior had no objection to make.



CHAPTER XL.

VISITORS AT TRETTON.


It so happened that the three visitors who had been asked to Tretton all
agreed to go on the same day. There was, indeed, no reason why Harry
should delay his visit, and much why the other two should expedite
theirs. Mr. Grey knew that the thing, if done at all, should be done at
once; and Mountjoy, as he had agreed to accept his father's offer, could
not put himself too quickly under the shelter of his father's roof. "You
can have twenty pounds," Mr. Grey had said when the subject of the money
was mooted. "Will that suffice?" Mountjoy had said that it would suffice
amply, and then, returning to his brother's rooms, had waited there with
what patience he possessed till he sallied forth to The Continental to
get the best dinner which that restaurant could afford him. He was
beginning to feel that his life was very sad in London, and to look
forward to the glades of Tretton with some anticipation of rural
delight.

He went down by the same train with Mr. Grey,--"a great grind," as
Mountjoy called it, when Mr. Grey proposed a departure at ten o'clock.
Harry followed so as to reach Tretton only in time for dinner. "If I may
venture to advise you," said Mr. Grey in the train, "I should do in this
matter whatever my father asked me." Hereupon Mountjoy frowned. "He is
anxious to make some provision for you."

"I'm not grateful to my father, if you mean that."

"It is hard to say whether you should be grateful. But, from the first,
he has done the best he could for you, according to his lights."

"You believe all this about my mother?"

"I do."

"I don't. That's the difference. And I don't think that Augustus
believes it."

"The story is undoubtedly true."

"You must excuse me if I will not accept it."

"At any rate, you had parted with your share in the property."

"My share was the whole."

"After your father's death," said Mr. Grey; "and that was gone."

"We needn't discuss the property. What is it that he expects me to do
now?"

"Simply to be kind in your manner to him, and to agree to what he says
about the personal property. It is his intention, as far as I understand
it, to leave you everything."

"He is very kind."

"I think he is."

"Only it would all have been mine if he had not cheated me of my
birthright."

"Or Mr. Tyrrwhit's, and Mr. Hart's, and Mr. Spicer's."

"Mr. Tyrrwhit, and Mr. Hart, and Mr. Spicer could not have robbed me of
my name. Let them have done what they would with their bonds, I should
have been, at any rate, Scarborough of Tretton. My belief is that I need
not blush for my mother. He has made it appear that I should do so. I
can't forgive him because he gives me the chairs and tables."

"They will be worth thirty thousand pounds," said Mr. Grey.

"I can't forgive him."

The cloud sat very black upon Mountjoy Scarborough's face as he said
this, and the blacker it sat the more Mr. Grey liked him. If something
could be done to redeem from ruin a young man who so felt about his
mother,--who so felt about his mother simply because she had been his
mother,--it would be a good thing to do. Augustus had entertained no
such feeling. He had said to Mr. Grey, as he had said also to his
brother, that "he had not known the lady." When the facts as to the
distribution of the property had been made known to him he had cared
nothing for the injury done by the story to his mother's name. The story
was too true. Mr. Grey knew that it was true; but he could not on that
account do other than feel an intense desire to confer some benefit on
Mountjoy Scarborough. He put his hand out affectionately and laid it on
the other man's knee. "Your father has not long to live, Captain
Scarborough."

"I suppose not."

"And he is at present anxious to make what reparation is in his power.
What he can leave you will produce, let us say, fifteen hundred a year.
Without a will from him you would have to live on your brother's
bounty."

"By Heaven, no!" said Mountjoy, thinking of the pistol and the bullets.

"I see nothing else."

"I see, but I cannot explain."

"Do you not think that fifteen hundred a year would be better than
nothing,--with a wife, let us say?" said Mr. Grey, beginning to introduce
the one argument on which he believed so much must depend.

"With a wife?"

"Yes; with a wife."

"With what wife? A wife may be very well, but a wife must depend on who
it is. Is there any one that you mean?"

"Not exactly any particular person," said the lawyer, lamely.

"Pshaw! What do I want with a wife? Do you mean to say that my father
has told you that he intends to clog his legacy with the burden of a
wife? I would not accept it with such a burden,--unless I could choose
the wife myself. To tell the truth, there is a girl--"

"Your cousin?"

"Yes; my cousin. When I was well-to-do in the world I was taught to
believe that I could have her. If she will be mine, Mr. Grey, I will
renounce gambling altogether. If my father can manage that I will
forgive him,--or will endeavor to do so. The property which he can leave
me shall be settled altogether upon her. I will endeavor to reform
myself, and so to live that no misfortune shall come upon her. If that
is what you mean, say so."

"Well, not quite that."

"To no other marriage will I agree. That has been the dream of my life
through all those moments of hot excitement and assured despair which I
have endured. Her mother has always told me that it should be so, and
she herself in former days did not deny it. Now you know it all. If my
father wishes to see me married, Florence Mountjoy must be my wife."
Then he sunk back on his seat, and nothing more was said between them
till they had reached Tretton.

The father and son had not met each other since the day on which the
former had told the latter the story of his birth. Since then Mountjoy
had disappeared from the world, and for a few days his father had
thought that he had been murdered. But now they met as they might have
done had they seen each other a week ago. "Well, Mountjoy, how are you?"
And, "How are you, sir?" Such were the greetings between them. And no
others were spoken. In a few minutes the son was allowed to go and look
after the rural joys he had anticipated, and the lawyer was left
closeted with the squire.

Mr. Grey soon explained his proposition. Let the property be left to
trustees who should realize from it what money it should fetch, and keep
the money in their own hands, paying Mountjoy the income. "There could,"
he said, "be nothing better done, unless Mountjoy would agree to marry.
He is attached, it seems, to his cousin," said Mr. Grey, "and he is
unwilling at present to marry any one else."

"He can't marry her," said the squire.

"I do not know the circumstances."

"He can't marry her. She is engaged to the young man who will be here
just now. I told you,--did I not?--that Harry Annesley is coming here. My
son knows that he will be here to-day."

"Everybody knows the story of Mr. Annesley and the captain."

"They are to sit down to dinner together, and I trust they may not
quarrel. The lady of whom you are speaking is engaged to young Annesley,
and Mountjoy's suit in that direction is hopeless."

"Hopeless, you think?"

"Utterly hopeless. Your plan of providing him with a wife would be very
good if it were feasible. I should be very glad to see him settled. But
if he will marry no one but Florence Mountjoy he must remain unmarried.
Augustus has had his hand in that business, and don't let us dabble in
it." Then the squire gave the lawyer full instructions as to the will
which was to be made. Mr. Grey and Mr. Bullfist were to be named as
trustees, with instructions to sell everything which it would be in the
squire's legal power to bequeath. The books, the gems, the furniture,
both at Tretton and in London, the plate, the stock, the farm-produce,
the pictures on the walls, and the wine in the cellars, were all named.
He endeavored to persuade Mr. Grey to consent to a cutting of the
timber, so that the value of it might be taken out of the pocket of the
younger brother and put into that of the elder. But to this Mr. Grey
would not assent. "There would be an air of persecution about it," he
said, "and it mustn't be done." But to the general stripping of Tretton
for the benefit of Mountjoy he gave a cordial agreement.

"I am not quite sure that I have done with Augustus as yet," said the
squire. "I had made up my mind not to be put out by trifles; not to be
vexed at a little. My treatment of my children has been such that,
though I have ever intended to do them good, I must have seemed to each
at different periods to have injured him. I have not, therefore,
expected much from them. But I have received less than nothing from
Augustus. It is possible that he may hear from me again." To this Mr.
Grey said nothing, but he had taken his instructions about the drawing
of the will.

Harry came down by the train in time for dinner. On the journey down he
had been perplexed in his mind, thinking of various things. He did not
quite understand why Mr. Scarborough had sent for him. His former
intimacy had been with Augustus, and though there had been some
cordiality of friendship shown by the old man to the son's companion, it
had amounted to no more than might be expected from one who was notably
good-natured. A great injury had been done to Harry, and he supposed
that his visit must have some reference to that injury. He had been told
in so many words that, come when he might, he would not find Augustus at
Tretton. From this and from other signs he almost saw that there existed
a quarrel between the squire and his son. Therefore he felt that
something was to be said as to the state of his affairs at Buston.

But if, as the train drew near to Tretton, he was anxious as to his
meeting with the squire, he was much more so as to the captain. The
reader will remember all the circumstances under which they two had last
seen each other Harry had been furiously attacked by Mountjoy, and had
then left him sprawling,--dead, as some folks had said on the following
day,--under the rail. His only crime had been that he was drunk. If the
disinherited one would give him his hand and let by-gones be by-gones,
he would do the same. He felt no personal animosity. But there was a
difficulty.

As he was driven up to the door in a cab belonging to the squire there
was Mountjoy, standing before the house. He too had thought of the
difficulties, and had made up his mind that it would not do for him to
meet his late foe without some few words intended for the making of
peace. "I hope you are well, Mr. Annesley," he said, offering his hand
as the other got out of the cab. "It may be as well that I should
apologize at once for my conduct. I was at that moment considerably
distressed, as you may have heard. I had been declared to be penniless,
and to be nobody. The news had a little unmanned me, and I was beside
myself."

"I quite understand it; quite understand it," said Annesley, giving his
hand. "I am very glad to see you back again, and in your father's
house." Then Mountjoy turned on his heel, and went through the hall,
leaving Harry to the care of the butler. The captain thought that he had
done enough, and that the affair in the street might now be regarded as
a dream. Harry was taken up to shake hands with the old man, and in due
time came down to dinner, where he met Mr. Grey and the young doctor.
They were all very civil to him, and upon the whole, he spent a pleasant
evening. On the next day, about noon, the squire sent for him. He had
been told at breakfast that it was the squire's intention to see him in
the middle of the day, and he had been unable, therefore, to join
Mountjoy's shooting-party.

"Sit down, Mr. Annesley," said the old man. "You were surprised, no
doubt, when you got my invitation?"

"Well, yes; perhaps so; but I thought it very kind."

"I meant to be kind; but still, it requires some explanation. You see, I
am such an old cripple that I cannot give invitations like anybody else.
Now you are here I must not eat and drink with you, and in order to say
a few words to you I am obliged to keep you in the house till the doctor
tells me I am strong enough to talk."

"I am glad to find you so much better than when I was here before."

"I don't know much about that. There will never be a 'much better' in
my case. The people about me talk with the utmost unconcern of whether I
can live one month or possibly two. Anything beyond that is quite out of
the question." The squire took a pride in making the worst of his case,
so that the people to whom he talked should marvel the more at his
vitality. "But we won't mind my health now. It is true, I fear, that you
have quarrelled with your uncle."

"It is quite true that he has quarrelled with me."

"I am afraid that that is more important. He means, if he can, to cut
you out of the entail."

"He does not mean that I shall have the property if he can prevent it."

"I don't think very much of entails myself," said the squire. "If a man
has a property he should be able to leave it as he pleases; or--or else
he doesn't have it."

"That is what the law intends, I suppose," said Harry.

"Just so; but the law is such an old woman that she never knows how to
express herself to any purpose. I haven't allowed the law to bind me. I
dare say you know the story."

"About your two sons,--and the property? I think all the world knows the
story."

"I suppose it has been talked about a little," said the squire, with a
chuckle. "My object has been to prevent the law from handing over my
property to the fraudulent claims which my son's creditors were enabled
to make, and I have succeeded fairly well. On that head I have nothing
to regret. Now your uncle is going to take other means."

"Yes; he is going to take means which, are, at any rate, lawful."

"But which will be tedious, and may not, perhaps, succeed. He is
intending to have an heir of his own."

"That I believe is his purpose," said Harry.

"There is no reason why he shouldn't;--but he mayn't, you know."

"He is not married yet."

"No;--he is not married yet. And then he has also stopped the allowance
he used to make you." Harry nodded assent. "Now, all this is a great
shame."

"I think so."

"The poor gentleman has been awfully bamboozled."

"He is not so very old," said Harry, "I don't think he is more than
fifty."

"But he is an old goose. You'll excuse me, I know. Augustus Scarborough
got him up to London, and filled him full of lies."

"I am aware of it."

"And so am I aware of it. He has told him stories as to your conduct
with Mountjoy which, added to some youthful indiscretions of your own--"

"It was simply because I didn't like to hear him read sermons."

"That was an indiscretion, as he had the power in his hands to do you an
injury. Most men have got some little bit of petty tyranny in their
hearts. I have had none." To this Harry could only bow. "I let my two
boys do as they pleased, only wishing that they should lead happy lives.
I never made them listen to sermons, or even to lectures. Probably I was
wrong. Had I tyrannized over them, they would not have tyrannized over
me as they have done. Now I'll tell you what it is that I propose to do.
I will write to your uncle, or will get Mr. Merton to write for me, and
will explain to him, as well as I can, the depth, and the blackness, and
the cruelty,--the unfathomable, heathen cruelty, together with the
falsehoods, the premeditated lies, and the general rascality on all
subjects,--of my son Augustus. I will explain to him that, of all men I
know, he is the least trustworthy. I will explain to him that, if led in
a matter of such importance by Augustus Scarborough, he will be surely
led astray. And I think that between us,--between Merton and me, that
is,--we can concoct a letter that shall be efficacious. But I will get
Mountjoy also to go and see him, and explain to him out of his own mouth
what in truth occurred that night when he and you fell out in the
streets. Mr. Prosper must be a more vindictive man than I take him to be
in regard to sermons if he will hold out after that." Then Mr.
Scarborough allowed him to go out, and if possible find the shooters
somewhere about the park.



CHAPTER XLI.

MOUNTJOY SCARBOROUGH GOES TO BUSTON.


Mr. Grey returned to London after staying but one night, having received
fresh instructions as to the will. The will was to be prepared at once,
and Mr. Barry was to bring it down for execution. "Shall I not inform
Augustus?" asked Mr. Grey.

But this did not suit with Mr. Scarborough's views of revenge. "I think
not. I would do by him whatever honesty requires; but I have never told
him that I mean to leave him anything. Of course he knows that he is to
have the estate. He is revelling in the future poverty of poor Mountjoy.
He turned him out of his house just now because Mountjoy would not obey
him by going to--Brazil. He would turn him out of this house if he could
because I won't at once go--to the devil. He is something overmasterful,
is Master Augustus, and a rub or two will do him good. I'd rather you
wouldn't tell him, if you please." Then Mr. Grey departed, without
making any promise, but he determined that he would be guided by the
squire's wishes. Augustus Scarborough was not of a nature to excite very
warmly the charity of any man.

Harry remained for two or three days' shooting with Mountjoy, and once
or twice he saw the squire again. "Merton and I have managed to concoct
that letter," said the squire. "I'm afraid your uncle will find it
rather long. Is he impatient of long letters?"

"He likes long sermons."

"If anybody will listen to his reading. I think you have a deal to
answer for yourself, when you could not make so small a sacrifice to the
man to whom you were to owe everything. But he ought to look for a wife
in consequence of that crime, and not falsely allege another. If, as I
fear, he finds the wife-plan troublesome, our letter may perhaps move
him, and Mountjoy is to go down and open his eyes. Mountjoy hasn't made
any difficulty about it."

"I shall be greatly distressed--" Harry begun.

"Not at all. He must go. I like to have my own way in these little
matters. He owes you as much reparation as that, and we shall be able to
see what members of the Scarborough family you would trust the most."

Harry, during the two days, shot some hares in company with Mountjoy,
but not a word more was said about the adventure in London. Nor was the
name of Florence Mountjoy ever mentioned between the two suitors. "I'm
going to Buston, you know," Mountjoy said once.

"So your father told me."

"What sort of a fellow shall I find your uncle?"

"He's a gentleman, but not very wise." No more was said between them on
that head, but Mountjoy spoke at great length about his own brother and
his father's will.

"My father is the most singular man you ever came across."

"I think he is."

"I am not going to say a good word for him. I wouldn't let him think
that I had said a good word for him. In order to save the property he
has maligned my mother, and has cheated me and the creditors most
horribly--most infernally. That's my conviction, though Grey thinks
otherwise. I can't forgive him,--and won't; and he knows it. But after
that he is going to do the best thing he can for me. And he has begun by
making me a decent allowance again as his son. But I'm to have that only
as long as I remain here at Tretton. Of course I have been fond of
cards."

"I suppose so."

"Not a doubt of it. But I haven't touched a card now for a month nearly.
And then he is going to leave me what property he has to leave. And he
and my brother have paid off those Jews among them. I'm not a bit
obliged to my brother. He's got some game of his own which I don't quite
clearly see, and my father is doing this for me simply to spite my
brother. He'd cut down every tree upon the place if Grey would allow it.
And yet, to give Augustus the property, my father has done this gross
injustice."

"I suppose the money-lenders would have had the best of it had he not."

"That's true. They would have had it all. They had measured every yard
of it, and had got my name down for the full value. Now they're paid."

"That's a comfort."

"Nothing's a comfort. I know that they're right, and that if I got the
money into my own hand it would be gone to-morrow. I should be off to
Monte Carlo like a shot; and, of course it would go after the other.
There is but one thing would redeem me."

"What's that?"

"Never mind. We won't talk of it." Then he was silent, but Harry
Annesley knew very well that he had alluded to Florence Mountjoy.

Then Harry went, and Mountjoy was left to the companionship of Mr.
Merton, and such pleasure as he could find in a daily visit to his
father. He was, at any rate, courteous in his manner to the old man, and
abstained from those irritating speeches which Augustus had always
chosen to make. He had on one occasion during this visit told his father
what he thought about him, but this the squire had taken quite as a
compliment.

"I believe, you know, that you've done a monstrous injustice to
everybody concerned."

"I rather like doing what you call injustices."

"You have set the law at defiance."

"Well, yes; I think I have done that."

"According to my belief, it's all untrue."

"You mean about your mother. I like you for that; I do, indeed. I like
you for sticking up for your poor mother. Well, now you shall have fifty
pounds a month,--say twelve pounds ten a week,--as long as you remain at
Tretton, and you may have whom you like here, as long as they bring no
cards with them. And if you want to hunt there are horses, and if they
ain't good enough you can get others. But if you go away from Tretton
there's an end of it. It will all be stopped the next day."
Nevertheless, he did make arrangements by which Mountjoy should proceed
to Buston, stopping two nights as he went to London. "There isn't a club
he can enter," said the squire, comforting himself, "nor a Jew that will
lend him a five-pound note."

Mountjoy had told the truth when he had said that nothing was a comfort.
Though it seemed to his father and to the people around him at Tretton
that he had everything that a man could want, he had, in fact,
nothing,--nothing to satisfy him. In the first place, he was quite alive
to the misery of that decision given by the world against him, which had
been of such comfort to his father. Not a club in London would admit
him. He had been proclaimed a defaulter after such a fashion that all
his clubs had sent to him for some explanation; and as he had given
none, and had not answered their letters, his name had been crossed out
in the books of them all. He knew himself to be a man disgraced, and
when he had fled from London he had gone under the conviction that he
would certainly never return. There were the pistol and bullet as his
last assured resource; but a certain amount of good-fortune had awaited
him,--enough to save him from having recourse to their aid. His brother
had supplied him with small sums of money, and from time to time a
morsel of good luck had enabled him to gamble, not to his heart's
content, but still in some manner so as to make his life bearable. But
now he was back in his own country, and he could gamble not at all, and
hardly even see those old companions with whom he had lived. It was not
only for the card-tables that he sighed, but for the companions of the
card-table. And though he knew that he had been scratched out from the
lists of all clubs as a dishonest man, he knew also, or thought that he
knew, that he had been as honest as the best of those companions. As
long as he could by any possibility raise money he had paid it away,
and by no false trick had he ever endeavored to get it back again.

Had a little time been allowed him all would have been paid; and all had
been paid. He knew that by the rules of such institutions time could not
be granted; but still he did not feel himself to have been a dishonest
man. Yet he had been so disgraced that he could hardly venture to walk
about the streets of London in the daylight. And then there came upon
him, when he found himself alone at Tretton, an irrepressible desire for
gambling. It was as though his throat were parched with an implacable
thirst. He walked about ever meditating certain fortunate turns of the
cards; and when he had worked himself up to some realization of his old
excitement he would remember that it was all a vain and empty bubble. He
had money in his pocket, and could rush up to London if he would, and if
he did so he could, no doubt, find some coarse hell at which he could
stake it till it would be all gone; but the gates of the A---- and the
B---- and the C---- would be closed against him; and he would then be
driven to feel that he had indeed fallen into the nethermost pit. Were
he once to play at such places as his mind painted to him he could never
play at any other; and yet when the day drew nigh on which he was to go
to London, on his way to Buston, he did bethink himself where these
places were to be found. His throat was parched, and the thirst upon him
was extreme. Cards were the weapons he had used. He had played ecarte,
piquet, whist, and baccarat, with an occasional night of some foolish
game such as cribbage or vingt-et-un. Though he had always lost, he had
always played with men who had played honestly. There is much that is,
in truth, dishonest even in honest play. A man who can keep himself
sober after dinner plays with one who flusters himself with drink. The
man with a trained memory plays with him who cannot remember a card. The
cool man plays with the impetuous; the man who can hold his tongue with
him who cannot but talk; the man whose practised face will tell no
secrets with him who loses a point every rubber by his uncontrolled
grimaces. And then there is the man who knows the game, and plays with
him who knows it not at all. Of course, the cool, the collected, the
thoughtful, the practised,--they who have given up their whole souls to
the study of cards,--will play at a great advantage, which in their
calculations they do not fail to recognize. See the man standing by and
watching the table, and leaving all the bets he can on A and B as against
C and D; and, however ignorant you may be, you will soon become sure
that A and B know the game, whereas C and D are simply infants. That is
all fair and acknowledged; but looking at it from a distance, as you lie
under your apple-trees in your orchard, far from the shout of "Two by
honors," you will come to doubt the honesty of making your income after
such a fashion.

Such as it is, Mountjoy sighed for it bitterly,--sighed for it, but could
not see where it was to be found. He had a gentleman's horror of those
resorts in gin-shops, or kept by the disciples of gin-shops, where he
would surely be robbed,--which did not appal him,--but robbed in bad
company. Thinking of all this, he went up to London late in the
afternoon, and spent an uncomfortable evening in town. It was absolutely
innocent as regarded the doings of the night itself, but was terrible to
him. There was a slow drizzling rain; but not the less after dinner at
his hotel he started off to wander through the streets. With his
great-coat and his umbrella he was almost hidden; and as he passed
through Pall Mall, up St. James's Street, and along Piccadilly, he could
pause and look in at the accustomed door. He saw men entering whom he
knew, and knew that within five minutes they could be seated at their
tables. "I had an awfully heavy time of it last night," one said to
another as he went up the steps; and Mountjoy, as he heard the words,
envied the speaker. Then he passed back and went again a tour of all the
clubs. What had he done that he, like a poor Peri, should be unable to
enter the gates of all these paradises? He had now in his pocket fifty
pounds. Could he have been made absolutely certain that he would have
lost it, he would have gone into any paradise and have staked his money
with that certainty.

At last, having turned up Waterloo Place, he saw a man standing in the
door-way of one of these palaces, and he was aware at once that the man
had seen him. He was a man of such a nature that it would be impossible
that he should have seen a worse. He was a small, dry, good-looking
little fellow, with a carefully preserved mustache, and a head from the
top of which age was beginning to move the hair. He lived by cards, and
lived well. He was called Captain Vignolles, but it was only known of
him that he was a professional gambler. He probably never cheated. Men
who play at the clubs scarcely ever cheat,--there are so many with whom
they play sharp enough to discover them; and with the discovered gambler
all in this world is over. Captain Vignolles never cheated; but he found
that an obedience to those little rules which I have named above stood
him well in lieu of cheating. He was not known to have any particular
income, but he was known to live on the best of everything as far as
club life was concerned.

He immediately followed Mountjoy down into the street and greeted him.
"Captain Scarborough as I am a living man!"

"Well, Vignolles; how are you?"

"And so you have come back once more to the land of the living! I was
awfully sorry for you, and think that they treated you uncommon harshly.
As you've paid your money, of course they'll let you in again." In
answer to this, Mountjoy had very little to say: but the interview ended
by his accepting an invitation from Captain Vignolles to supper for the
following evening. If Captain Scarborough would come at eleven o'clock
Captain Vignolles would ask a few fellows to meet him, and they would
have--just a little rubber of whist. Mountjoy knew well the nature of
the man who asked him, and understood perfectly what would be the
result; but there thrilled through his bosom, as he accepted the
invitation, a sense of joy which he could himself hardly understand.

On the following morning Mountjoy was up, for him, very early, and
taking a return ticket went down to Buston. He had written to Mr.
Prosper, sending his compliments, and saying that he would do himself
the honor of calling at a certain hour.

At the hour named he drew up at Buston Hall in a fly from Buntingford
Station, and was told by Matthew, the old butler, that his master was at
home. If Captain Mountjoy would step into the drawing-room Mr. Prosper
should be informed. Mountjoy did as he was bidden, and after half an
hour he was joined by Mr. Prosper. "You have received a letter from my
father," he began by saying.

"A very long letter," said the Squire of Buston.

"I dare say; I did not see it, and have in fact very little to say as to
its contents. I do not know, indeed, what they were."

"The letter refers to my nephew, Mr. Henry Annesley."

"I suppose so. What I have to say refers to Mr. Henry Annesley also."

"You are kind,--very kind."

"I don't know about that; but I have come altogether at my father's
instance, and I think, indeed, that, in fairness, I ought to tell you
the truth as to what took place between me and your nephew."

"You are very good; but your father has already given me his
account,--and I suppose yours."

"I don't know what my father may have done, but I think that you ought
to desire to hear from my lips an account of the transaction. An untrue
account has been told to you."

"I have heard it all from your own brother."

"An untrue account has been told to you. I attacked your nephew."

"What made you do that?" asked the squire.

"That has nothing to do with it; but I did."

"I understood all that before."

"But you didn't understand that Mr. Annesley behaved perfectly well in
all that occurred."

"Did he tell a lie about it afterward?"

"My brother no doubt lured him on to make an untrue statement."

"A lie!"

"You may call it so if you will. If you think that Augustus was to have
it all his own way, I disagree with you altogether. In point of fact,
your nephew behaved through the whole of that matter as well as a man
could do. Practically, he told no lie at all. He did just what a man
ought to do, and anything that you have heard to the contrary is
calumnious and false. As I am told that you have been led by my
brother's statement to disinherit your nephew--"

"I have done nothing of the kind."

"I am very glad to hear it. He has not, at any rate, deserved it; and I
have felt it to be my duty to come and tell you."

Then Mountjoy retired, not without hospitality having been coldly
offered by Mr. Prosper, and went back to Buntingford and to London. Now
at last would come, he said to himself through the whole afternoon, now
at last would come a repetition of those joys for which his very soul
had sighed so eagerly.



CHAPTER XLII.

CAPTAIN VIGNOLLES ENTERTAINS HIS FRIENDS.


Mountjoy, when he reached Captain Vignolles's rooms, was received
apparently with great indifference. "I didn't feel at all sure you
would come. But there is a bit of supper, if you like to stay. I saw
Moody this morning, and he said he would look in if he was passing this
way. Now sit down and tell me what you have been doing since you
disappeared in that remarkable manner." This was not at all what
Mountjoy had expected, but he could only sit down and say that he had
done nothing in particular. Of all club men, Captain Vignolles would be
the worst with whom to play alone during the entire evening. And
Mountjoy remembered now that he had never been inside four walls with
Vignolles except at a club. Vignolles regarded him simply as a piece of
prey whom chance had thrown up on the shore. And Moody, who would no
doubt show himself before long, was another bird of the same covey,
though less rapacious. Mountjoy put his hand up to his breast-pocket,
and knew that the fifty pounds was there, but he knew also that it would
soon be gone.

Even to him it seemed to be expedient to get up and at once to go. What
delight would there be to him in playing piquet with such a face
opposite to him as that of Captain Vignolles, or with such a one as that
of old Moody? There could be none of the brilliance of the room, no
pleasant hum of the voices of companions, no sense of his own equality
with others. There would be none to sympathize with him when he cursed
his ill-luck, there would be no chance of contending with an innocent
who would be as reckless as was he himself. He looked round. The room
was gloomy and uncomfortable. Captain Vignolles watched him, and was
afraid that his prey was about to escape. "Won't you light a cigar?"
Mountjoy took the cigar, and then felt that he could not go quite at
once. "I suppose you went to Monaco?"

"I was there for a short time."

"Monaco isn't bad,--though there is, of course, the pull which the tables
have against you. But it's a grand thing to think that skill can be of
no avail. I often think that I ought to play nothing but rouge et noir."

"You?"

"Yes; I. I don't deny that I'm the luckiest fellow going; but I never
can remember cards. Of course I know my trade. Every fellow knows his
trade, and I'm up pretty nearly in all that the books tell you."

"That's a great deal."

"Not when you come to play with men who know what play is. Look at
Grossengrannel. I'd sooner bet on him than any man in London.
Grossengrannel never forgets a card. I'll bet a hundred pounds that he
knows the best card in every suit throughout the entire day's play.
That's his secret. He gives his mind to it,--which I can't. Hang it! I'm
always thinking of something quite different,--of what I'm going to eat,
or that sort of thing. Grossengrannel is always looking at the cards,
and he wins the odd rubber out of every eleven by his attention. Shall
we have a game of piquet?"

Now on the moment, in spite of all that he had felt during the entire
day, in the teeth of all his longings, in opposition to all his thirst,
Mountjoy for a minute or two did think that he could rise and go. His
father was about to put him on his legs again,--if only he would abstain.
But Vignolles had the card-table open, with clean packs, and chairs at
the corners, before he could decide. "What is it to be? Twos on the game
I suppose." But Mountjoy would not play piquet. He named ecarte, and
asked that it might be only ten shillings a game. It was many months now
since he had played a game of ecarte. "Oh, hang it!" said Vignolles,
still holding the pack in his hands. When thus appealed to Mountjoy
relented, and agreed that a pound should be staked on each game. When
they had played seven games Vignolles had won but one pound, and
expressed an opinion that that kind of thing wouldn't suit them at all.
"School-girls would do better," he said. Then Mountjoy pushed back his
chair as though to go, when the door opened and Major Moody entered the
room. "Now we'll have a rubber at dummy," said Captain Vignolles.

Major Moody was a gray-headed old man of about sixty, who played his
cards with great attention, and never spoke a word,--either then or at
any other period of his life. He was the most taciturn of men, and was
known not at all to any of his companions. It was rumored of him that he
had a wife at home, whom he kept in moderate comfort on his winnings. It
seemed to be the sole desire of his heart to play with reckless, foolish
young men, who up to a certain point did not care what they lost. He was
popular, as being always ready to oblige every one, and, as was
frequently said of him, was the very soul of honor. He certainly got no
amusement from the play, working at it very hard,--and very constantly.
No one ever saw him anywhere but at the club. At eight o'clock he went
home to dinner, let us hope to the wife of his bosom, and at eleven he
returned, and remained as long as there were men to play with. A tedious
and unsatisfactory life he had, and it would have been well for him
could his friends have procured on his behoof the comparative ease of a
stool in a counting-house. But, as no such Elysium was opened to him,
the major went on accepting the smaller profits and the harder work of
club life. In what regiment he had been a major no one knew or cared to
inquire. He had been received as Major Moody for twenty years or more,
and twenty years is surely time enough to settle a man's claim to a
majority without reference to the Army List.

"How are you, Major Moody?" asked Mountjoy.

"Not much to boast of. I hope you're pretty well, Captain Scarborough."
Beyond that there was no word of salutation, and no reference to
Mountjoy's wonderful absence.

"What's it to be:--twos and tens?" said Captain Vignolles, arranging the
cards and the chairs.

"Not for me," said Mountjoy, who seemed to have been enveloped by a most
unusual prudence.

"What! are you afraid,--you who used to fear neither man nor devil?"

"There is so much in not being accustomed to it," said Mountjoy. "I
haven't played a game of whist since I don't knew when."

"Twos and tens is heavy against dummy," said Major Moody.

"I'll take dummy, if you like it," said Vignolles. Moody only looked at
him.

"We'll each have our own dummy, of course," said Mountjoy.

"Just as you please," said Vignolles. "I'm host here, and of course will
give way to anything you may propose. What's it to be, Scarborough?"

"Pounds and fives. I shan't play higher than that." There came across
Mountjoy's mind, as he stated the stakes for which he consented to play,
a remembrance that in the old days he had always been called Captain
Scarborough by this man who now left out the captain. Of course he had
fallen since that,--fallen very low. He ought to feel obliged to any man,
who had in the old days been a member of the same club with him, who
would now greet him with the familiarity of his unadorned name. But the
remembrance of the old sounds came back upon his ear; and the
consciousness that, before his father's treatment of him, he had been
known to the world at large as Captain Scarborough, of Tretton.

"Well, well; pounds and fives," said Vignolles. "It's better than
pottering away at ecarte at a pound a game. Of course a man could win
something if the games were to run all one way; but where they alternate
so quickly it amounts to nothing. You've got the first dummy,
Scarborough. Where will you sit? Which cards will you take? I do believe
that at whist everything depends upon the cards,--or else on the hinges.
I've known eleven rubbers running to follow the hinges. People laugh at
me because I believe in luck. I speak as I find it; that's all. You've
turned up an honor already. When a man begins with an honor he'll always
go on with honors; that's my observation. I know you're pretty good at
this game, Moody, so I'll leave it to you to arrange the play, and will
follow up as well as I can. You lead up to the weak, of course." This
was not said till the card was out of his partner's hand. "But when your
adversary has got ace, king, queen in his own hand there is no weak.
Well, we've saved that, and it's as much as we can expect. If I'd begun
by leading a trump it would have been all over with us. Won't you light
a cigar, Moody?"

"I never smoke at cards."

"That's all very well for the club, but you might relax a little here.
Scarborough will take another cigar." But even Mountjoy was too prudent.
He did not take the cigar, but he did win the rubber. "You're in for a
good thing to-night, I feel as certain of it as though the money were in
your pocket."

Mountjoy, though he would not smoke, did drink. What would they have,
asked Vignolles. There was champagne, and whiskey, and brandy. He was
afraid there was no other wine. He opened a bottle of champagne, and
Mountjoy took the tumbler that was filled for him. He always drank
whiskey-and-water himself,--so he said, and filled for himself a glass in
which he poured a very small allowance of alcohol. Major Moody asked for
barley-water. As there was none, he contented himself with sipping
Apollinaris.

A close record of the events of that evening would make but a tedious
tale for readers. Mountjoy of course lost his fifty pounds. Alas! he
lost much more than his fifty pounds. The old spirit soon came upon him,
and the remembrance of what his father was to do for him passed away
from him, and all thoughts of his adversaries,--who and what they were.
The major pertinaciously refused to increase his stakes, and, worse
again, refused to play for anything but ready money. "It's a kind of
thing I never do. You may think me very odd, but it's a kind of thing I
never do." It was the longest speech he made through the entire evening.
Vignolles reminded him that he did in fact play on credit at the club.
"The committee look to that," he murmured, and shook his head. Then
Vignolles offered again to take the dummy, so that there should be no
necessity for Moody and Scarborough to play against each other, and
offered to give one point every other rubber as the price to be paid for
the advantage. But Moody, whose success for the night was assured by the
thirty pounds which he had in his pocket, would come to no terms. "You
mean to say you're going to break us up," said Vignolles. "That'll be
hard on Scarborough."

"I'll go on for money," said the immovable major.

"I suppose you won't have it out with me at double dummy?" said
Vignolles to his victim. "But double dummy is a terrible grind at this
time of night." And he pushed all the cards up together, so as to show
that the amusement for the night was over. He too saw the difficulty
which Moody so pertinaciously avoided. He had been told wondrous things
of the old squire's intentions toward his eldest son, but he had been
told them only by that eldest son himself. No doubt he could go on
winning. Unless in the teeth of a most obstinate run of cards, he would
be sure to win against Scarborough's apparent forgetfulness of all
rules, and ignorance of the peculiarities of the game he was playing.
But he would more probably obtain payment of the two hundred and thirty
pounds now due to him,--that or nearly that,--than of a larger sum. He
already had in his possession the other twenty pounds which poor
Mountjoy had brought with him. So he let the victim go. Moody went
first, and Vignolles then demanded the performance of a small ceremony.
"Just put your name to that," said Vignolles. It was a written promise
to pay to Captain Vignolles the exact sum of two hundred and
twenty-seven pounds on or before that day week. "You'll be punctual,
won't you?"

"Of course I'll be punctual," said Mountjoy, scowling.

"Well, yes; no doubt. But there have been mistakes."

"I tell you you'll be paid. Why the devil did you win it of me if you
doubt it?"

"I saw you just roaming about, and I meant to be good-natured."

"You know as well as any man what chances you should run, and when to
hold your hand. If you tell me about mistakes, I shall make it
personal."

"I didn't say anything, Scarborough, that ought to be taken up in that
way."

"Hang your Scarborough! When one gentleman talks another about mistakes
he means something." Then he smashed down his hat upon his head and left
the room.

Vignolles emptied the bottle of champagne, in which one glass was left,
and sat himself down with the document in his hand. "Just the same
fellow," he said to himself; "overbearing, reckless, pig-headed, and a
bully. He'd lose the Bank of England if he had it. But then he don't
pay! He hasn't a scruple about that. If I lose I have to pay. By Jove,
yes! Never didn't pay a shilling I lost in my life! It's deuced hard,
when a fellow is on the square like that, to make two ends meet when he
comes across defaulters. Those fellows should be hung. They're the very
scum of the earth. Talk of welchers! They're worse than any welcher.
Welcher is a thing you needn't have to do with if you're careful. But
when a fellow turns round upon you as a defaulter at cards, there is no
getting rid of him. Where the play is all straightforward and honorable,
a defaulter when he shows himself ought to be well-nigh murdered."

Such were Captain Vignolles's plaints to himself, as he sat there
looking at the suspicious document which Mountjoy had left in his hands.
To him it was a fact that he had been cruelly used in having such a bit
of paper thrust upon him instead of being paid by a check which on the
morning would be honored. And as he thought of his own career; his
ready-money payments; his obedience to certain rules of the game,--rules,
I mean, against cheating; as he thought of his hands, which in his own
estimation were beautifully clean; his diligence in his profession,
which to him was honorable; his hard work; his late hours; his devotion
to a task which was often tedious; his many periods of heart-rending
loss, which when they occurred would drive him nearly mad; his small
customary gains; his inability to put by anything for old age; of the
narrow edge by which he himself was occasionally divided from
defalcation, he spoke to himself of himself as of an honest,
hard-working professional man upon whom the world was peculiarly hard.

But Major Moody went home to his wife quite content with the thirty
pounds which he had won.



CHAPTER XLIII.

MR. PROSPER IS VISITED BY HIS LAWYERS.


Mr. Prosper had not been in good spirits at the time at which Mountjoy
Scarborough had visited him. He had received some time previously a
letter from Mr. Grey, as described in a previous chapter, and had also
known exactly what proposal had been made by Mr. Grey to Messrs. Soames
& Simpson. An equal division of the lady's income, one half to go to the
lady herself, and the other half to Mr. Prosper, with an annuity of two
hundred and fifty pounds out of the estate for the lady if Mr. Prosper
should die first: these were the terms which had been offered to Miss
Thoroughbung with the object of inducing her to become the wife of Mr.
Prosper. But to these terms Miss Thoroughbung had declined to accede,
and had gone about the arrangement of her money-matters in a most
precise and business-like manner. A third of her income she would give
up, since Mr. Prosper desired it; but more than that she "would owe it
to herself and her friends to decline to abandon." The payment for the
fish and the champagne must be omitted from any agreement on her part.
As to the ponies, and their harness, and the pony-carriage, she would
supply them. The ponies and the carriage would be indispensable to her
happiness. But the maintenance of the ponies must be left to Mr.
Prosper. As for the dower, she could not consent to accept less than
four hundred--or five hundred, if no house was to be provided. She
thought that seven hundred and fifty would be little enough if there
were no children, as in that case there was no heir for whom Mr. Prosper
was especially anxious. But as there probably would be children, Miss
Thoroughbung thought that this was a matter to which Mr. Prosper would
not give much consideration. Throughout it all she maintained a
beautiful equanimity, and made two or three efforts to induce Mr.
Prosper to repeat his visit to Marmaduke Lodge. She herself wrote to him
saying that she thought it odd that, considering their near alliance, he
should not come and see her. Once she said that she had heard that he
was ill, and offered to go to Buston Hall to visit him.

All this was extremely distressing to a gentleman of Mr. Prosper's
delicate feelings. As to the proposals in regard to money, the letters
from Soames & Simpson to Grey & Barry, all of which came down to Buston
Hall, seemed to be innumerable.

With Soames & Simpson Mr. Prosper declined to have any personal
communication. But every letter from the Buntingford attorneys was
accompanied by a farther letter from the London attorneys, till the
correspondence became insupportable. Mr. Prosper was not strong enough
to stick firmly to his guns as planted for him by Messrs. Grey & Barry.
He did give way in some matters, and hence arose renewed letters which
nearly drove him mad. Messrs. Soames & Simpson's client was willing to
accept four hundred pounds as the amount of the dower without reference
to the house, and to this Mr. Prosper yielded. He did not much care
about any heir as yet unborn, and felt by no means so certain in regard
to children as did the lady. But he fought hard about the ponies. He
could not undertake that his wife should have ponies. That must be left
to him as master of the house. He thought that a pair of carriage-horses
for her use would be sufficient. He had always kept a carriage, and
intended to do so. She might bring her ponies if she pleased, but if he
thought well to part with them he would sell them. He found himself
getting deeper and deeper into the quagmire, till he began to doubt
whether he should be able to extricate himself unmarried if he were
anxious to do so. And all the while there came affectionate little notes
from Miss Thoroughbung asking after his health, and recommending him
what to take, till he entertained serious thoughts of going to Cairo for
the winter.

Then Mr. Barry came down to see him after Mountjoy had made his visit.
It was now January, and the bargaining about the marriage had gone on
for more than two months. The letter which he had received from the
Squire of Tretton had moved him; but he had told himself that the
property was his own, and that he had a right to enjoy it as he liked
best.

Whatever might have been Harry's faults in regard to that midnight
affair, it had certainly been true that he had declined to hear the
sermons. Mr. Prosper did not exactly mention the sermons to himself, but
there was present to him a feeling that his heir had been wilfully
disobedient, and the sermons no doubt had been the cause. When he had
read the old squire's letter he did not as yet wish to forgive his
nephew. He was becoming very tired of his courtship, but in his
estimation the wife would be better than the nephew. Though he had been
much put out by the precocity of that embrace, there was nevertheless a
sweetness about it which lingered on his lips. Then Mountjoy had come
down, and he had answered Mountjoy very stoutly: "A lie!" he had
exclaimed. "Did he tell a lie?" he had asked, as though all must be over
with a young man who had once allowed himself to depart from the rigid
truth. Mountjoy had made what excuse he could, but Mr. Prosper had been
very stern.

On the very day after Mountjoy's coming Mr. Barry came. His visit had
been arranged, and Mr. Prosper was, with great care, prepared to
encounter him. He was wrapped in his best dressing-gown, and Matthew had
shaved him with the greatest care. The girls over at the parsonage
declared that their uncle had sent into Buntingford for a special pot of
pomatum. The story was told to Joe Thoroughbung in order that it might
be passed on to his aunt, and no doubt it did travel as it was intended.
But Miss Thoroughbung cared nothing for the pomatum with which the
lawyer from London was to be received. It would be very hard to laugh
her out of her lover while the title-deeds to Buston held good. But Mr.
Prosper had felt that it would be necessary to look his best, so that
his marriage might be justified in the eyes of the lawyer.

Mr. Barry was shown into the book-room at Buston, in which Mr. Prosper
was seated ready to receive him. The two gentlemen had never before met
each other, and Mr. Prosper did no doubt assume something of the manner
of an aristocratic owner of land. He would not have done so had Mr. Grey
come in his partner's place. But there was a humility about Mr. Barry on
an occasion such as the present, which justified a little pride on the
part of the client. "I am sorry to give you the trouble to come down,
Mr. Barry," he said. "I hope the servant has shown you your room."

"I shall be back in London to-day, Mr. Prosper, thank you. I must see
these lawyers here, and when I have received your final instructions I
will return to Buntingford." Then Mr. Prosper pressed him much to stay.
He had quite expected, he said, that Mr. Barry would have done him the
pleasure of remaining at any rate one night at Buston. But Mr. Barry
settled the question by saying that he had not brought a dress-coat. Mr.
Prosper did not care to sit down to dinner with guests who did not bring
their dress-coats. "And now," continued Mr. Barry, "what final
instructions are we to give to Soames & Simpson?"

"I don't think much of Messrs. Soames & Simpson."

"I believe they have the name of being honest practitioners."

"I dare say; I do not in the least doubt it. But they are people to whom
I am not at all desirous of intrusting my own private affairs. Messrs.
Soames & Simpson have not, I think, a large county business. I had no
idea that Miss Thoroughbung would have put this affair into their
hands."

"Just so, Mr. Prosper. But I suppose it was necessary for her to employ
somebody. There has been a good deal of correspondence."

"Indeed there has, Mr. Barry."

"It has not been our fault, Mr. Prosper. Now what we have got to decide
is this: What are the final terms which you mean to propose? I think,
sir, the time has come when some final terms should be suggested."

"Just so. Final terms--must be what you call--the very last. That is,
when they have once been offered, you must--must--"

"Just stick to them, Mr. Prosper."

"Exactly, Mr. Barry. That is what I intend. There is nothing I dislike
so much as this haggling about money, especially with a lady. Miss
Thoroughbung is a lady for whom I have the highest possible esteem."

"That's of course."

"For whom, I repeat, I have the highest possible esteem. But she has
friends who have their own ideas as to money. The brewery in Buntingford
belongs to them, and they are very worthy people. I should explain to
you, Mr. Barry, as you are my confidential adviser, that were I about to
form a matrimonial alliance in the heyday of my youth, I should probably
not have thought of connecting myself with the Thoroughbungs. As I have
said before, they are most respectable people; but they do not exactly
belong to that class in which I should, under those circumstances, have
looked for a wife. I might probably have ventured to ask for the hand of
the daughter of some county family. But years have slipped by me, and
now wishing in middle life to procure for myself the comfort of wedded
happiness, I have looked about, and have found no one more likely to
give it me, than Miss Thoroughbung. Her temper is excellent, and her
person pleasing." Mr. Prosper, as he said this, thought of the kiss
which had been bestowed upon him. "Her wit is vivacious, and I think
that upon the whole she will be desirable as a companion. She will not
come to this house empty-handed; but of her pecuniary affairs you
already know so much that I need, perhaps, tell you nothing farther.
But though I am exceedingly desirous to make this lady my wife, and am,
I may say, warmly attached to her, there are certain points which I
cannot sacrifice. Now about the ponies--"

"I think I understand about the ponies. She may bring them on trial."

"I'm not to be bound to keep any ponies at all. There are a pair of
carriage-horses which must suffice. On second thoughts, she had better
not bring the ponies." This decision had at last come from some little
doubt on his mind as to whether he was treating Harry justly.

"And four hundred pounds is the sum fixed on for her jointure."

"She is to have her own money for her own life," said Mr. Prosper.

"That's a matter of course."

"Don't you think that, under these circumstances, four hundred will be
quite enough?"

"Quite enough, if you ask me. But we must decide."

"Four hundred it shall be."

"And she is to have two-thirds of her own money for her own expenses
during your life?" asked Mr. Barry.

"I don't see why she should want six hundred a year for herself; I don't
indeed. I am afraid it will only lead to extravagance!" Barry assumed a
look of despair. "Of course, as I have said so, I will not go back from
my word. She shall have two-thirds. But about the ponies my mind is
quite made up. There shall be no ponies at Buston. I hope you understand
that, Mr. Barry?" Mr. Barry said that he did understand it well, and
then, folding up his papers, prepared to go, congratulating himself that
he would not have to pass a long evening at Buston Hall.

But before he went, and when he had already put on his great-coat in the
hall, Mr. Prosper called him back to ask him one farther question; and
for that purpose he shut the door carefully, and uttered his words in a
whisper. Did Mr. Barry know anything of the life and recent adventures
of Mr. Henry Annesley? Mr. Barry knew nothing; but he thought that his
partner, Mr. Grey, knew something. He had heard Mr. Grey mention the
name of Mr. Henry Annesley. Then as he stood there, enveloped in his
great-coat, with his horse standing in the cold, Mr. Prosper told him
much of the story of Harry Annesley, and asked him to induce Mr, Grey to
write and tell him what he thought of Harry's conduct.



CHAPTER XLIV.

MR. PROSPER'S TROUBLES.


As Mr. Prosper sunk into his arm-chair after the fatigue of the
interview with his lawyer, he reflected that, when all was considered,
Harry Annesley was an ungrateful pig,--it was thus he called him,--and
that Miss Thoroughbung had many attractions. Miss Thoroughbung had
probably done well to kiss him, though the enterprise had not been
without its peculiar dangers. He often thought of it when alone, and, as
"distance lent enchantment to the view," he longed to have the
experiment repeated. Perhaps she had been right. And it would be a good
thing, certainly, to have dear little children of his own. Miss
Thoroughbung felt very certain on the subject, and it would be foolish
for him to doubt. Then he thought of the difference between a pretty
fair haired little boy and that ungrateful pig, Harry Annesley. He told
himself that he was very fond of children. The girls over at the
parsonage would not have said so, but they probably did not know his
character.

When Harry had come back with his fellowship, his uncle had for a few
weeks been very proud of him,--had declared that he should never be
called upon to earn his bread, and had allowed him two hundred and fifty
pounds a year to begin with: but no return had been made to this favor.
Harry had walked in and out of the Hall as though it had already
belonged to him,--as many a father delights to see his eldest son doing.
But the uncle in this instance had not taken any delight in seeing it.
An uncle is different from a father,--an uncle who has never had a child
of his own. He wanted deference,--what he would have called respect;
while Harry was at first prepared to give him a familiar affection based
on equality,--on an equality in money matters and worldly
interests,--though I fear that Harry allowed to be seen his own
intellectual superiority. Mr. Prosper, though an ignorant man, and by no
means clever, was not such a fool as not to see all this. Then had come
the persistent refusal to hear the sermons, and Mr. Prosper had
sorrowfully declared to himself that his heir was not the young man that
he should have been.

He did not then think of marrying, nor did he stop the allowance; but he
did feel that his heir was not what he should have been. But then the
terrible disgrace of that night in London had occurred, and his eyes
had been altogether opened by that excellent young man, Mr. Augustus
Scarborough; then he began to look about him. Then dim ideas of the
charms and immediate wealth of Miss Thoroughbung flitted before his
eyes, and he told himself again and again of the prospects and undoubted
good birth of Miss Puffle. Miss Puffle had disgraced herself, and
therefore he had thrown Buston Hall at the feet of Miss Thoroughbung.

But now he had heard stories about that "excellent young man, Augustus
Scarborough," which had shaken his faith. He had been able to exclaim
indignantly that Harry Annesley had told a lie. "A lie!" He had been
surprised to find that a young man who had lived so much in the
fashionable world as Captain Scarborough had cared nothing for this. And
as Miss Thoroughbung became more and more exacting in regard to money,
he thought, himself, less and less of the lie. It might be well that
Harry should ultimately have the property, though he should never again
be taken into favor, and there should be no farther question of the
allowance. As Miss Thoroughbung reiterated her demands for the ponies,
he began to feel that the acres of Buston would not be disgraced forever
by the telling of that lie. But the sermons remained, and he would never
willingly again see his nephew. As he turned all this in his mind, the
idea of spending what was left of the winter at Cairo returned to him.
He would go to Cairo for the winter, and to the Italian lakes for the
spring, and to Switzerland for the summer. Then he might return to
Cairo. At the present moment Buston Hall and the neighborhood of
Buntingford had few charms for him. He was afraid that Miss Thoroughbung
would not give way about the ponies; and against the ponies he was
resolved.

He was sitting in this state with a map before him, and with the
squire's letter upon the map, when Matthew, the butler, opened the door
and announced a visitor. As soon as Mr. Barry had gone, he had supported
nature by a mutton-chop and a glass of sherry, and the debris were now
lying on the side-table. His first idea was to bid Matthew at once
remove the glass and the bone, and the unfinished potato and the crust
of bread. To be taken with such remnants by any visitor would be bad,
but by this visitor would be dreadful. Lunch should be eaten in the
dining-room, where chop bones and dirty glasses would be in their place.
But here in his book-room they would be disgraceful. But then, as
Matthew was hurriedly collecting the two plates and the salt-cellar, his
master began to doubt whether this visitor should be received at all.
It was no other than Miss Thoroughbung.

Mr. Prosper, in order to excuse his slackness in calling on the lady,
had let it be known that he was not quite well, and Miss Thoroughbung
had responded to this move by offering her services as nurse to her
lover. He had then written to herself that, though he had been a little
unwell, "suffering from a cold in the chest, to which at this inclement
season of the year it was peculiarly liable," he was not in need of
anything beyond a little personal attention, and would not trouble her
for those services, for the offer of which he was bound to be peculiarly
grateful. Thus he had thought to keep Miss Thoroughbung at a distance;
but here she was with those hated ponies at his very door. "Matthew," he
said, making a confidant, in the distress of the moment of his butler,
"I don't think I can see her."

"You must, sir; indeed you must."

"Must!"

"Well, yes; I'm afraid so. Considering all things,--the matrimonial
prospects and the rest of it,--I think you must, sir."

"She hasn't a right to come here, you know,--as yet." It will be
understood that Mr. Prosper was considerably discomposed when he spoke
with such familiar confidence to his servant. "She needn't come in here,
at any rate."

"In the drawing-room, if I might be allowed to suggest, sir."

"Show Miss Thoroughbung into the drawing-room," said he with all his
dignity. Then Matthew retired, and the Squire of Buston felt that five
minutes might be allowed to collect himself, and the mutton-chop bone
need not be removed.

When the five minutes were over, with slow steps he walked across the
intervening billiard-room, and slowly opened the drawing-room door.
Would she rush into his arms, and kiss him again as he entered? He
sincerely hoped that there would be no such attempt; but if there were,
he was sternly resolved to repudiate it. There should be nothing of the
kind till she had clearly declared, and had put it under writing by
herself and her lawyers, that she would consent to come to Buston
without the ponies. But there was no such attempt. "How do you do, Mr.
Prosper?" she said, in a loud voice, standing up in the middle of the
room. "Why don't you ever come and see me? I take it very ill of you;
and so does Miss Tickle. There is no one more partial to you than Miss
Tickle. We were talking of you only last night over a despatched crab
that we had for supper." Did they have despatched crabs for supper every
night? thought Mr. Prosper to himself. It was certainly a strong reason
against his marriage. "I told her that you had a cold in your head."

"In my chest," said Mr. Prosper, meekly.

"'Bother colds!' said Miss Tickle. 'When people are keeping company
together they ought to see each other.' Those were Miss Tickle's very
words."

That it should be said of him, Mr. Prosper, of Buston, that he was
"keeping company" with any woman! He almost resolved, on the spur of the
moment, that under no circumstances could he now marry Miss
Thoroughbung. But unfortunately his offer had been made, and the terms
of the settlement, as suggested by himself, placed in the hands of his
lawyer. If Miss Thoroughbung chose to hold him to his offer, he must
marry her. It was not that he feared an action for breach of promise,
but that, as a gentleman, it would behoove him to be true to his word.
He need not, however, marry Miss Tickle. He had offered no terms in
respect to Miss Tickle. With great presence of mind he resolved at once
that Miss Tickle should never find a permanent resting-place for her
foot at Buston Hall. "I am extremely indebted to Miss Tickle," said he.

"Why haven't you come over just to have a little chat in a friendly way?
It's all because of those stupid lawyers, I suppose. What need you and I
care for the lawyers? They can do their work without troubling us,
except that they will be sure to send in their bills fast enough."

"I have had Mr. Barry, from the firm of Messrs. Grey & Barry, of
Lincoln's Inn, with me this morning."

"I know you have. I saw the little man at Soames & Simpson's, and drove
out here immediately, after five minutes' conversation. Now, Mr.
Prosper, you must let me have those ponies."

That was the very thing which he was determined not to do. The ponies
grew in imagination, and became enormous horses capable of consuming any
amount of oats. Mr. Prosper was not of a stingy nature, but he had
already perceived that his escape, if it were effected, must be made
good by means of those ponies. A steady old pair of carriage-horses had
been kept by him, and by his father before him, and he was not going to
be driven out of the old family ways by a brewer's daughter. And he had,
but that morning, instructed his lawyer to stand out against the ponies.
He felt that this was the moment for firmness. Now, this instant, he
must be staunch, or he would be saddled with this woman,--and with Miss
Tickle,--for the whole of his life. She had left him no time for
consideration, but had come upon him as soon almost as the words spoken
to the lawyer had been out of his mouth. But he would be firm. Miss
Thoroughbung opened out instantly about the ponies, and he at once
resolved that he would be firm. But was it not very indelicate on her
part to come to him and to press him in this manner? He began to hope
that she also would be firm about the ponies, and that in this way the
separation might be effected. At the present moment he stood dumb.
Silence would not in this case be considered as giving consent. "Now,
like a good man, do say that I shall have the ponies," she continued. "I
can keep 'em out of my own money, you know, if that's all." He perceived
at once that the offer amounted to a certain yielding on her part, but
he was no longer anxious that she should give way. "Do'ee now say yes,
like a dear old boy." She came closer to him, and took hold of his arm,
as though she were going to perform that other ceremony. But he was
fully aware of the danger. If there came to be kissing between them it
would be impossible for him to go back afterward in such a manner but
that the blame of the kiss should rest with him. When he should desire
to be "off," he could not plead that the kissing had been all her doing.
A man in Mr. Prosper's position has difficulties among which he must be
very wary. And then the ridicule of the world is so strong a weapon, and
is always used on the side of the women! He gave a little start, but he
did not at once shake her off. "What's the objection to the ponies,
dear?"

"Two pair of horses! It's more than we ought to keep." He should not
have said "we." He felt, when it was too late, that he should not have
said "we."

"They aren't horses."

"It's the same, as far as the stables are concerned."

"But there's room enough, Lord bless you! I've been in to look. I can
assure you that Dr. Stubbs says they are required for my health. You ask
him else. It's just what I'm up to--is driving. I've only taken to them
lately, and I cannot bring myself to give 'em up. Do'ee love. You're not
going to throw over your own Matilda for a couple of little beasts like
that!"

Every word that came out of her mouth was an offence. But he could not
tell her so; nor could he reject her on that score. He should have
thought beforehand what kind of words might probably come out of her
mouth. Was her name Matilda? Of course he knew the fact. Had any one
asked him he could have said, with two minutes' consideration, that her
name was Matilda. But it had never become familiar to his ears, and now
she spoke of it as though he had called her Matilda since their earliest
youth. And to be called "Love!" It might be very nice when he had first
called her "Love" a dozen times; but now it sounded extravagant--and
almost indelicate. And he was about to throw her over for a couple of
little beasts. He felt that that was his intention, and he blushed
because it was so. He was a true gentleman, who would not willingly
depart from his word. If he must go on with the ponies he must. But he
had never yet yielded about the ponies. He felt now that they were his
only hope. But as the difficulties of his position pressed upon him the
sweat stood out upon his brow. She saw it all and understood it all, and
deliberately determined to take advantage of his weakness. "I don't
think that there is anything else astray between us. We've settled about
the jointure,--four hundred a year. It's too little, Soames & Simpson
say; but I'm soft, and in love, you know." Here she leered at him, and
he began to hate her. "You oughtn't to want a third of my income, you
know. But you're to be lord and master, and you must have your own way.
All that's settled."

"There is Miss Tickle," he said, in a voice that was almost cadaverous.

"Miss Tickle is of course to come. You said that from the very first
moment when you made the offer."

"Never!"

"Oh, Peter, how can you say so!" He shrunk visibly from the sound of his
own Christian name. But she determined to persevere. The time must come
when she should call him Peter, and why not commence the practice now,
at once? Lovers always do call each other Peter and Matilda. She wasn't
going to stand any nonsense, and if he intended to marry her and use a
large proportion of her fortune, Peter he should be to her. "You did,
Peter. You know you told me how much attached you were to her."

"I didn't say anything about her coming with you."

"Oh, Peter, how can you be so cruel? Do you mean to say that you will
deprive me of the friend of my youth?"

"At any rate, there shall never be a pony come into my yard!" He knew
when he made this assertion that he was abandoning his objection to Miss
Tickle. She had called him cruel, and his conscience told him that if he
received Miss Thoroughbung and refused admission to Miss Tickle he
would be cruel. Miss Tickle, for aught that he knew, might have been a
friend of her youth. At any rate, they had been constant companions for
many years. Therefore, as he had another solid ground on which to stand,
he could afford to yield as to Miss Tickle. But as he did so, he
remembered that Miss Tickle had accused him of "keeping company," and he
declared to himself that it would be impossible to live in the same
house with her.

"But Miss Tickle may come?" said Miss Thoroughbung. Was the solid
ground--the rock, as he believed it to be, of the ponies, about to sink
beneath his feet? "Say that Miss Tickle may come. I should be nothing
without Miss Tickle. You cannot be so hard-hearted as that."

"I don't see what is the good of talking about Miss Tickle till we have
come to some settlement about the ponies. You say that you must have the
ponies. To tell you the truth, Miss Thoroughbung, I don't like any such
word as 'must.' And a good many things have occurred to me."

"What kind of things, deary?"

"I think you are inclined to be--gay--"

"Me! gay!"

"While I am sober, and perhaps a little grave in my manners of life. I
am thinking only of domestic happiness, while your mind is intent upon
social circles. I fear that you would look for your bliss abroad."

"In France or Germany?"

"When I say abroad, I mean out of your own house. There is perhaps some
discrepancy of taste of which I ought earlier to have taken cognizance."

"Nothing of the kind," said Miss Thoroughbung. "I am quite content to
live at home and do not want to go abroad, either to France nor yet to
any other English county. I should never ask for anything, unless it be
for a single month in London."

Here was a ground upon which he perhaps could make his stand. "Quite
impossible!" said Mr. Prosper.

"Or for a fortnight," said Miss Thoroughbung.

"I never go up to London except on business."

"But I might go alone, you know--with Miss Tickle. I shouldn't want to
drag you away. I have always been in the habit of having a few weeks in
London about the Exhibition time."

"I shouldn't wish to be left by my wife."

"Of course we could manage all that. We're not to settle every little
thing beforehand, and put it into the deeds. A precious sum we should
have to pay the lawyers!"

"It's as well we should understand each other."

"I think it pretty nearly is all settled that has to go into the deeds.
I thought I'd just run over, after seeing Mr. Barry, and give the final
touch. If you'll give way, dear, about Miss Tickle and the ponies, I'll
yield in everything else. Nothing, surely, can be fairer than that."

He knew that he was playing the hypocrite, and he knew also that it did
not become him as a gentleman to be false to a woman. He was aware that
from minute to minute, and almost from word to word, he was becoming
ever more and more averse to this match which he had proposed to
himself. And he knew that in honesty he ought to tell her that it was
so. It was not honest in him to endeavor to get rid of her by a
side-blow, as it were. And yet this was the attempt which he had
hitherto been making. But how was he to tell her the truth? Even Mr.
Barry had not understood the state of his mind. Indeed, his mind had
altered since he had seen Mr. Barry.

He had heard within the last half hour many words spoken by Miss
Thoroughbung which proved that she was altogether unfit to be his wife.
It was a dreadful misfortune that he should have rushed into such peril;
but was he not bound as a gentleman to tell her the truth? "Say that I
shall have Jemima Tickle!" The added horrors of the Christian name
operated upon him with additional force. Was he to be doomed to have the
word Jemima hallooed about his rooms and staircases for the rest of his
life? And she had given up the ponies, and was taking her stand upon
Miss Tickle, as to whom at last he would be bound to give way. He could
see now that he should have demanded her whole income, and have allowed
her little or no jointure. That would have been grasping, monstrous,
altogether impracticable, but it would not have been ungentleman-like.
This chaffering about little things was altogether at variance with his
tastes,--and it would be futile. He must summon courage to tell her that
he no longer wished for the match; but he could not do it on this
morning. Then,--for that morning,--some benign god preserved him.

Matthew came into the room and whispered into his ear that a gentleman
wished to see him. "What gentleman?" Matthew again whispered that it was
his brother-in-law. "Show him in," said Mr. Prosper, with a sudden
courage. He had not seen Mr. Annesley since the day of his actual
quarrel with Harry. "I shall have the ponies?" said Miss Thoroughbung
during the moment that was allowed to her.

"We are interrupted now. I am afraid that the rest of this interview
must be postponed." It should never be renewed, though he might have to
leave the country forever. Of that he gave himself assurance. Then the
parson was shown into the room.

The constrained introduction was very painful to Mr. Prosper, but was
not at all disagreeable to the lady. "Mr. Annesley knows me very well.
We are quite old friends. Joe is going to marry his eldest girl. I hope
Molly is quite well." The rector said that Molly was quite well. When he
had come away from home just now he had left Joe at the parsonage.
"You'll find him there a deal oftener than at the brewery," said Miss
Thoroughbung. "You know what we're going to do, Mr. Annesley. There are
no fools like old fools." A thunder-black cloud came across Mr.
Prosper's face. That this woman should dare to call him an old fool! "We
were discussing a few of our future arrangements. We've arranged
everything about money in the most amicable manner, and now there is
merely a question of a pair of ponies."

"We need not trouble Mr. Annesley about that, I think."

"And Miss Tickle! I'm sure the rector will agree with me that old
friends like me and Miss Tickle ought not to be separated. And it isn't
as though there was any dislike between them, because he has already
said that he finds Miss Tickle charming."

"D---- Miss Tickle!" he said; whereupon the rector looked astonished, and
Miss Thoroughbung jumped a foot from off the ground. "I beg the lady's
pardon," said Mr. Prosper, piteously, "and yours, Miss Thoroughbung,--and
yours, Mr. Annesley." It was as though a new revelation of character had
been given. No one except Matthew had ever heard the Squire of Buston
swear. And with Matthew the cursings had been by no means frequent, and
had been addressed generally to some article of his clothing, or to some
morsel of food prepared with less than the usual care. But now the oath
had been directed against a female, and the chosen friend of his
betrothed. And it had been uttered in the presence of a clergyman, his
brother-in-law, and the rector of his parish. Mr. Prosper felt that he
was disgraced forever. Could he have overheard them laughing over his
ebullition in the drawing-room half an hour afterward, and almost
praising his violence, some part of the pain might have been removed.
As it was he felt at the time that he was disgraced forever.

"We will return to the subject when next we meet," said Miss
Thoroughbung.

"I am very sorry that I should so far have forgotten myself," said Mr.
Prosper, "but--"

"It does not signify,--not as far as I am concerned;" and she made a
little motion to the clergyman, half bow and half courtesy. Mr. Annesley
bowed in return, as though declaring that neither did it signify very
much as far as he was concerned. Then she left the room, and Matthew
handed her into the carriage, when she took the ponies in hand with
quite as much composure as though her friend had not been sworn at.

"Upon my word, sir," said Prosper, as soon as the door was shut, "I beg
your pardon. But I was so moved by certain things which have occurred
that I was carried much beyond my usual habits."

"Don't mention it."

"It is peculiarly distressing to me that I should have been induced to
forget myself in the presence of a clergyman of the parish and my
brother-in-law. But I must beg you to forget it."

"Oh, certainly. I will tell you now why I have come over."

"I can assure you that such is not my habit," continued Mr. Prosper, who
was thinking much more of the unaccustomed oath which he had sworn than
of his brother-in-law's visit, strange as it was. "No one, as a rule, is
more guarded in his expressions than I am. How it should have come to
pass that I was so stirred I can hardly tell. But Miss Thoroughbung had
said certain words which had moved me very much." She had called him
"Peter" and "deary," and had spoken of him as "keeping company" with
her. All these disgusting terms of endearment he could not repeat to his
brother-in-law, but felt it necessary to allude to them.

"I trust that you may be happy with her when she is your wife."

"I can't say. I really don't know. It's a very important step to take at
my age, and I'm not quite sure that I should be doing wisely."

"It's not too late," said Mr. Annesley.

"I don't know. I can't quite say." Then Mr. Prosper drew himself up,
remembering that it would not become him to discuss the matter of his
marriage with the father of his heir.

"I have come over here," said Mr. Annesley, "to say a few words about
Harry." Mr. Prosper again drew himself up. "Of course you're aware that
Harry is at present living with us." Here Mr. Prosper bowed. "Of course,
in his altered circumstances, it will not do that he shall be idle, and
yet he does not like to take a final step without letting you know what
it is." Here Mr. Prosper bowed twice. "There is a gentleman of fortune
going out to the United States on a mission which will probably occupy
him for three or four years. I am not exactly warranted in mentioning
his name, but he has taken in hand a political project of much
importance." Again Mr. Prosper bowed. "Now he has offered Harry the
place of private secretary, on condition that Harry will undertake to
stay the entire term. He is to have a salary of three hundred a year,
and his travelling expenses will of course be paid for him. If he goes,
poor boy! he will in all probability remain in his new home and become a
citizen of the United States. Under these circumstances I have thought
it best to step up and tell you in a friendly manner what his plans
are." Then he had told his tale, and Mr. Prosper again bowed.

The rector had been very crafty. There was no doubt about the wealthy
gentleman with the American project, and the salary had been offered.
But in other respects there had been some exaggeration. It was well
known to the rector that Mr. Prosper regarded America and all her
institutions with a religious hatred. An American was to him an
ignorant, impudent, foul-mouthed, fraudulent creature, to have any
acquaintance with whom was a disgrace. Could he have had his way, he
would have reconstituted the United States as British Colonies at a
moment's notice. Were he to die without having begotten another heir,
Buston must become the property of Harry Annesley; and it would be
dreadful to him to think that Buston should be owned by an American
citizen. "The salary offered is too good to be abandoned," said Mr.
Annesley, when he saw the effect which his story had produced.

"Everything is going against me!" exclaimed Mr. Prosper.

"Well: I will not talk about that. I did not come here to discuss Harry
or his sins,--nor, for the matter of that, his virtues. But I felt it
would be improper to let him go upon his journey without communicating
with you." So saying, he took his departure and walked back to the
rectory.



CHAPTER XLV.

A DETERMINED YOUNG LADY.


When this offer had been made to Harry Annesley he found it to be
absolutely necessary that he should write a farther letter to Florence.
He was quite aware that he had been forbidden to write. He had written
one letter since that order had been given to him, and no reply had come
to him. He had not expected a reply; but still her silence had been
grievous to him. It might be that she was angry with him, really angry.
But let that be as it might, he could not go to America, and be absent
for so long a period, without telling her. She and her mother were still
at Brussels when January came. Mrs. Mountjoy had gone there, as he had
understood, for a month, and was still at the embassy when three months
had passed. "I think I shall stay here the winter," Mrs. Mountjoy had
said to Sir Magnus, "but we will take lodgings. I see that very nice
sets of apartments are to be let." But Sir Magnus would not hear of
this. He said, and said truly, that the ministerial house was large; and
at last he declared the honest truth. His sister-in-law had been very
kind to him about money, and had said not a word on that troubled
subject since her arrival. Mrs. Mountjoy, with that delicacy which still
belongs to some English ladies, would have suffered extreme poverty
rather than have spoken on such a matter. In truth she suffered nothing,
and hardly thought about it. But Sir Magnus was grateful, and told her
that if she went to look for lodgings he should go to the lodgings and
say that they were not wanted. Therefore Mrs. Mountjoy remained where
she was, entertaining a feeling of increased good-will toward Sir
Magnus.

Life went on rather sadly with Florence. Anderson was as good as his
word. He pleaded his own cause no farther, telling both Sir Magnus and
Lady Mountjoy of the pledge he had made. He did in fact tell two or
three other persons, regarding himself as a martyr to chivalry. All this
time he went about his business looking very wretched. But though he did
not speak for himself, he could not hinder others from speaking for him.
Sir Magnus took occasion to say a word on the subject once daily to his
niece. Her mother was constant in her attacks. But Lady Mountjoy was the
severest of the three, and was accounted by Florence as her bitterest
enemy. The words which passed between them were not the most
affectionate in the world. Lady Mountjoy would call her 'miss,' to which
Florence would reply by addressing her aunt as 'my lady.' "Why do you
call me 'my lady?' It isn't usual in common conversation." "Why do you
call me 'miss?' If you cease to call me 'miss,' I'll cease to call you
'my lady.'" But no reverence was paid by the girl to the wife of the
British Minister. It was this that Lady Mountjoy specially felt,--as she
complained to her companion, Miss Abbott. Then another cause for trouble
sprang up during the winter, of which mention must be made farther on.
The result was that Florence was instant with her mother to take her
back to England.

We will return, however, to Harry Annesley, and give the letter,
verbatim, which he wrote to Florence:

"DEAR FLORENCE,--I wonder whether you ever think of me or ever remember
that I exist? I know you do. I cannot have been forgotten like that. And
you yourself are the truest girl that ever owned to loving a man. But
there comes a chill across my heart when I think how long it is since I
wrote to you, and that I have not had a line even to acknowledge my
letter. You bade me not to write, and you have not even forgiven me for
disobeying your order. I cannot but get stupid ideas into my mind, which
one word from you would dissipate.

"Now, however, I must write again, order or no order. Between a man and
a woman circumstanced as you and I, things will arise which make it
incumbent on one or the other to write. It is absolutely necessary that
you should now know what are my intentions, and understand the reasons
which have actuated me. I have found myself left in a most unfortunate
condition by my uncle's folly. He is going on with a stupid marriage for
the purpose of disinheriting me, and has in the mean time stopped the
allowance which he had made me since I left college. Of course I have no
absolute claim on him. But I cannot understand how he can reconcile
himself to do so, when he himself prevented my going to the Bar, saying
that it would be unnecessary.

"But so it is, I am driven to look about for myself. It is very hard at
my time of life to find an opening in any profession. I think I told you
before that I had ideas of going to Cambridge and endeavoring to get
pupils, trusting to my fellowship rather than to my acquirements. But
this I have always looked upon with great dislike, and would only have
taken to it if nothing else was to be had. Now there has come forward
an old college acquaintance, a man who is three or four years my senior,
who has offered to take me to America as his private secretary. He
proposes to remain there for three years. I of course shall not bind
myself to stay as long; but I may not improbably do so. He is to pay my
expenses and to give me a salary of three hundred a year. This will,
perhaps, lead to nothing else, but will for the present be better than
nothing. I am to start in just a month from the present time.

"Now you know it all except that the man's name is Sir William Crook. He
is a decent sort of a fellow, and has got a wife who is to go with him.
He is the hardest working man I know, but, between you and me, will
never set the Thames on fire. If the Thames is to be illumined at all, I
rather think that I shall be expected to do it.

"Now, my own one, what am I to say about you, and of myself, as your
husband that is to be? Will you wait, at any rate, for three years with
the conviction that the three years will too probably end in your having
to wait again?

"I do feel that in my altered position I ought to give you back your
troth, and tell you that things shall be as they used to be before that
happy night at Mrs. Armitage's party. I do not know but that it is
clearly my duty. I almost think that it is. But I am sure of this,--that
it is the one thing in the world that I cannot do. I don't think that a
man ought to be asked to tear himself altogether in pieces because some
one has ill-treated him. At any rate I cannot. If you say that it must
be so, you shall say it. I don't suppose it will kill me, but it will go
a long way.

"In writing so far I have not said a word of love, because, as far as I
understand you, that is a subject on which you expect me to be silent.
When you order me not to write, I suppose you intend that I am to write
no love-letters. This, therefore, you will take simply as a matter of
business, and as such, I suppose, you will acknowledge it. In this way I
shall at any rate see your handwriting.

"Yours affectionately,

"HARRY ANNESLEY."

Harry, when he had written this letter, considered that it had been
cold, calm, and philosophical. He could not go to America for three
years without telling her of his purpose; nor could he mention that
purpose, as he thought, in any language less glowing. But Florence, when
she received it, did not regard it in the same light.

To her thinking the letter was full of love, and of love expressed in
the warmest possible language. "Sir William Crook!" she said to herself.
"What can he want of Harry in America for three years? I am sure he is a
stupid man. Will I wait? Of course I will wait. What are three years?
And why should I not wait? But, for the matter of that--" Then thoughts
came into her mind which even to herself she could not express in words.
Sir William Crook had got a wife, and why should not Harry take a wife
also? She did not see why a private secretary should not be a married
man; and as for money, there would be plenty for such a style of life as
they would live. She could not exactly propose this, but she thought
that if she were to see Harry just for one short interview before he
started, that he might probably then propose it himself.

"Things be as they used to be!" she exclaimed to herself. "Never! Things
cannot be as they used to be. I know what is his duty. It is his duty
not to think of anything of the kind. Remember that he exists," she
said, turning back to the earlier words of the letter. "That of course
is his joke. I wonder whether he knows that every moment of my life is
devoted to him. Of course I bade him not to write. But I can tell him
now that I have never gone to bed without his letter beneath my pillow."
This and much more of the same kind was uttered in soliloquies, but need
not be repeated at length to the reader.

But she had to think what steps she must first take. She must tell her
mother of Harry's intention. She had never for an instant allowed her
mother to think that her affection had dwindled, or her purpose failed
her. She was engaged to marry Harry Annesley, and marry him some day she
would. That her mother should be sure of that was the immediate purpose
of her life. And in carrying out that purpose she must acquaint her
mother with the news which this letter had brought to her. "Mamma, I
have got something to tell you."

"Well, my dear?"

"Harry Annesley is going to America!" There was something pleasing to
Mrs. Mountjoy in the sound of these words. If Harry Annesley went to
America he might be drowned, or it might more probably be that he would
never come back. America was, to her imagination, a long way off. Lovers
did not go to America except with the intention of deserting their
ladyloves. Such were her ideas. She felt at the moment that Florence
would be more easily approached in reference either to her cousin
Mountjoy or to Mr. Anderson. Another lover had sprung up, too, in
Brussels, of whom a word shall be said by-and-by. If her Harry, the
pernicious Harry, should have taken himself to America, the chances of
all these three gentlemen would be improved. Any one of them would now
be accepted by Mrs. Mountjoy as a bar fatal to Harry Annesley. Mountjoy
was again the favorite with her. She had heard that he had returned to
Tretton, and was living amicably with his father. She knew, even, of the
income allotted to him for the present,--of the six hundred pounds a
year,--and had told Florence that as a preliminary income it was more
than double that two hundred and fifty pounds which had been taken away
from Harry,--taken away never to be restored. There was not much in this
argument, but still she thought well to use it. The captain was living
with his father, and she did not believe a word about the entail having
been done away with. It was certain that Harry's uncle had quarrelled
with him, and she did understand that a baby at Buston would altogether
rob Harry of his chance. And then look at the difference in the
properties! It was thus that she argued the matter. But in truth her
word had been pledged to Mountjoy Scarborough, and Mountjoy Scarborough
had ever been a favorite with her. Though she could talk about the
money, it was not the money that touched her feelings. "Well;--he may go
to America. It is a dreadful destiny for a young man, but in his case it
may be the best thing that he can do."

"Of course he intends to come back again?"

"That is as it may be."

"I do not understand what you mean by a dreadful destiny, mamma. I don't
see that it is a destiny at all. He is getting a very good offer for a
year or two, and thinks it best to take it. I might go with him, for
that matter."

A thunder-bolt had fallen at Mrs. Mountjoy's feet! Florence go with him
to America! Among all the trials which had come upon her with reference
to this young man there had been nothing so bad as this proposal. Go
with him! The young man was to start in a month! Then she began to think
whether it would be within her power to stop her daughter. What would
all the world be to her with one daughter, and she in America, married
to Harry Annesley? Her quarrel with Florence was not at all as was the
quarrel of Lady Mountjoy. Lady Mountjoy would be glad to get rid of the
girl, whom she thought to be impertinent and believed to be false. But
to her mother Florence was the very apple of her eye. It was because she
thought that Mountjoy Scarborough was a grand fellow, and because she
thought all manner of evil of Harry Annesley, that she wished Florence
to marry her cousin, and to separate herself forever from the other.
When she had heard that Harry was to go to America she had rejoiced, as
though he was to be transported to Botany Bay. Her ideas were
old-fashioned. But when it was hinted that Florence was to go with him
she nearly fell to the ground.

Florence certainly had behaved badly in making the suggestion. She had
not intended to make it,--had not, in truth, thought of it. But when her
mother talked of Harry's destiny, as though some terrible evil had come
upon him,--as though she were speaking of a poor wretch condemned to be
hanged, when all chances of a reprieve were over,--then her spirit rose
within her. She had not meant to say that she was going. Harry had never
asked her to go. "If you talk of his destiny I am quite prepared to
share it with him." That was her meaning. But her mother already saw her
only child in the hands of those American savages. She threw herself on
to a sofa, buried her face in her hands, and burst into tears.

"I don't say that I am going, mamma."

"My darling--my dearest--my child!"

"Only that there is no reason why I shouldn't, except that it would not
suit him. At least I suppose it would not."

"Has he said so?"

"He has said nothing about it."

"Thank Heaven for that! He does not intend to rob me of my child."

"But, mamma, I am to be his wife."

"No, no, no!"

"It is that that I want to make you understand. You know nothing of his
character;--nothing."

"I do know that he told a base falsehood."

"Nothing of the kind! I will not admit it. It is of no use going into
that again, but there was nothing base about it. He has got an
appointment in the United States, and is going out to do the work. He
has not asked me to go with him. The two things would probably not be
compatible." Here Mrs. Mountjoy rose from the sofa and embraced her
child, as though liberated from her deepest grief. "But, mamma, you must
remember this:--that I have given him my word, and will never be induced
to abandon it." Here her mother threw up her hands and again began to
weep. "Either to-day or to-morrow, or ten years hence,--if he will wait
as long, I will,--we shall be married. As far as I can see we need not
wait ten years, or perhaps more than one or two. My money will suffice
for us."

"He proposes to live upon you?"

"He proposes nothing of the kind. He is going to America because he will
not propose it. Nor am I proposing it,--just at present."

"At any rate I am glad of that."

"And now, mamma, you must take me back home as soon as possible."

"When he has started."

"No, mamma. I must be there before he starts. I cannot let him go
without seeing him. If I am to remain here, here he must come."

"Your uncle would never receive him."

"I should receive him."

This was dreadful--this flying into actual disobedience. Whatever did
she mean? Where was she to receive him? "How could you receive a young
man in opposition to the wishes, and indeed to the commands, of all your
friends?"

"I'm not going to be at all shamefaced about it, mamma. I am the woman
he has selected to be his wife, and he is the man I have selected to be
my husband. If he were coming I should go to my uncle and ask to have
him received."

"Think of your aunt."

"Yes; I do think of her. My aunt would make herself very disagreeable.
Upon the whole, mamma, I think it would be best that you should take me
back to England. There is this M. Grascour here, who is a great trouble,
and you may be sure of this, that I intend to see Harry Annesley before
he starts for America."

So the interview was ended; but Mrs. Mountjoy was left greatly in doubt
as to what she might best do. She felt sure that were Annesley to come
to Brussels, Florence would see him,--would see him in spite of all that
her uncle and aunt, and Mr. Anderson, and M. Grascour could do to
prevent it. That reprobate young man would force his way into the
embassy, or Florence would force her way out. In either case there would
be a terrible scene. But if she were to take Florence back to
Cheltenham, interviews to any extent would be arranged for her at the
house of Mrs. Armitage. As she thought of all this, the idea came across
her that when a young girl is determined to be married nothing can
prevent it.

Florence in the mean time wrote an immediate answer to her lover, as
follows:

"DEAR HARRY,--Of course you were entitled to write when there was
something to be said which it was necessary that I should know. When you
have simply to say that you love me, I know that well enough without any
farther telling.

"Go to America for three years! It is very, very serious. But of course
you must know best, and I shall not attempt to interfere. What are three
years to you and me? If we were rich people, of course we should not
wait; but as we are poor, of course we must act as do other people who
are poor. I have about four hundred a year; and it is for you to say how
far that may be sufficient. If you think so, you will not find that I
shall want more.

"But there is one thing necessary before you start. I must see you.
There is no reason on earth for our remaining here, except that mamma
has not made up her mind. If she will consent to go back before you
start, it will be best so. Otherwise, you must take the trouble to come
here,--where, I am afraid, you will not be received as a welcome guest. I
have told mamma that if I cannot see you here in a manner that is
becoming, I shall go out and meet you in the streets, in a manner that
is unbecoming.

"Your affectionate--wife that is to be,

"FLORENCE MOUNTJOY."

This letter she took to her mother, and read aloud to her in her own
room. Mrs. Mountjoy could only implore that it might not be sent, but
prevailed not at all. "There is not a word in it about love," said
Florence. "It is simply a matter of business, and as such I must send
it. I do not suppose my uncle will go to the length of attempting to
lock me up. He would, I think, find it difficult to do so." There was a
look in Florence's face as she said this which altogether silenced her
mother. She did not think that Sir Magnus would consent to lock Florence
up, and she did think that were he to attempt to do so he would find the
task very difficult.



CHAPTER XLVI.

M. GRASCOUR.


M. Grascour was a Belgian, about forty years old, who looked as though
he were no more than thirty, except that his hair was in patches
beginning to be a little gray. He was in the government service of his
country, well educated, and thoroughly a gentleman. As is the case with
many Belgians, he would have been taken to be an Englishman were his
country not known. He had dressed himself in English mirrors, living
mostly with the English. He spoke English so well that he would only be
known to be a foreigner by the correctness of his language. He was a man
of singularly good temper, and there was running through all that he did
somewhat of a chivalric spirit, which came from study rather than
nature. He had looked into things and seen whether they were good, or at
any rate popular, and endeavored to grasp and to make his own whatever
he found to be so. He was hitherto unmarried, and was regarded generally
by his friends as a non-marrying man. But Florence Mountjoy was powerful
over him, and he set to work to make her his wife. He was intimate at
the house of Sir Magnus, and saw, no doubt, that Anderson was doing the
same thing. But he saw also that Anderson did not succeed. He had told
himself from the first that if Anderson did succeed he would not wish to
do so. The girl who would be satisfied with Anderson would hardly
content him. He remained therefore quiet till he saw that Anderson had
failed. The young man at once took to an altered mode of life which was
sufficiently marked. He went, like Sir Proteus, ungartered. Everything
about him had of late "demonstrated a careless desolation." All this M.
Grascour observed, and when he saw it he felt that his own time had
come.

He took occasion at first to wait upon Lady Mountjoy. He believed that
to be the proper way of going to work. He was very intimate with the
Mountjoys, and was aware that his circumstances were known to them.
There was no reason, on the score of money, why he should not marry the
niece of Sir Magnus. He had already shown some attention to Florence,
which, though it had excited no suspicion in her mind, had been seen and
understood by her aunt; and it had been understood also by Mr. Anderson.
"That accursed Belgian! If, after all, she should take up with him! I
shall tell her a bit of my mind if anything of that kind should occur."

"My niece, M. Grascour!"

"Yes, my lady." M. Grascour had not quite got over the way of calling
Lady Mountjoy "my lady." "It is presumption, I know."

"Not at all."

"I have not spoken to her. Nor would I do so till I had first addressed
myself to you or to her mother. May I speak to Mrs. Mountjoy?"

"Oh, certainly. I do not in the least know what the young lady's ideas
are. She has been much admired here and elsewhere, and that may have
turned her head."

"I think not."

"You may be the better judge, M. Grascour."

"I think that Miss Mountjoy's head has not been turned by any
admiration. She does not appear to be a young lady whose head would
easily be turned. It is her heart of which I am thinking." The interview
ended by Lady Mountjoy passing the Belgian lover on to Mrs. Mountjoy.

"Florence!" said Mrs. Mountjoy.

"Yes, Mrs. Mountjoy;--I have the great honor of asking your permission. I
am well known to Sir Magnus and Lady Mountjoy, and they can tell what
are my circumstances. I am forty years of age."

"Oh yes; everything is, I am sure, quite as it should be. But my
daughter thinks about these things for herself." Then there was a pause,
and M. Grascour was about to leave the room, having obtained the
permission he desired, when Mrs. Mountjoy thought it well to acquaint
him with something of her daughter's condition. "I ought to tell you
that my daughter has been engaged."

"Indeed!"

"Yes; and I hardly know how to explain the circumstances. I should say
that she had been promised to her cousin, Captain Scarborough; but to
this she will not give her assent. She has since met a gentleman, Mr.
Annesley, for whom she professes an attachment. Neither can I, nor can
her uncle and aunt, hear of Mr. Annesley as a husband for Florence. She
is therefore at present disengaged. If you can gain her affections, you
have my leave." With this permission M. Grascour departed, professing
himself to be contented.

He did not see Florence for two or three days, no doubt leaving the
matter to be discussed with her by her mother and her aunt. To him it
was quite indifferent what might be the fate of Captain Scarborough, or
of Mr. Annesley, or indeed of Mr. Anderson. And, to tell the truth, he
was not under any violent fear or hope as to his own fate. He admired
Miss Mountjoy, and thought it would be well to secure for a wife such a
girl, with such a fortune as would belong to her. But he did not intend
to go "ungartered," nor yet to assume an air of "desolation." If she
would come to him, it would be well; if she would not, why, it would
still be well. The only outward difference made by his love was that he
brushed his clothes and his hair a little more carefully, and had his
boots brought to a higher state of polish than was usual.

Her mother spoke to her first. "My dear, M. Grascour is a most excellent
man."

"I am sure he is, mamma."

"And he is a great friend to your uncle and Lady Mountjoy."

"Why do you say this, mamma? What can it matter to me?"

"My dear, M. Grascour wishes you to--to--to become his wife."

"Oh, mamma, why didn't you tell him that it is impossible?"

"How was I to know, my dear?"

"Mamma, I am engaged to marry Harry Annesley, and no word shall ever
turn me from that purpose, unless it be spoken by himself. The crier may
say that all round the town if he wishes. You must know that it is so.
What can be the use of sending M. Grascour or any other gentleman to me?
It is only giving me pain and him too. I wish, mamma, you could be got
to understand this." But Mrs. Mountjoy could not altogether be got as
yet to understand the obstinacy of her daughter's character.

There was one point on which Florence received information from these
two suitors who had come to her at Brussels. They were both favored, one
after the other, by her mother; and would not have been so favored had
her mother absolutely believed in Captain Mountjoy. It seemed to her as
though her mother would be willing that she should marry any one, so
long as it was not Harry Annesley. "It is a pity that there should be
such a difference," she said to herself. "But we will see what firmness
can do."

Then Lady Mountjoy spoke to her. "You have heard of M. Grascour, my
dear?"

"Yes; I have heard of him, aunt."

"He intends to do you the honor of asking you to be his wife."

"So mamma tells me."

"I have only to say that he is a man most highly esteemed here. He is
well known at the court, and is at the royal parties. Should you become
his wife, you would have all the society of Brussels at your feet."

"All the society of Brussels would do no good."

"Perhaps not."

"Nor the court and the royal parties."

"If you choose to be impertinent when I tell you what are his advantages
and condition in life, I cannot help it."

"I do not mean to be impertinent."

"What you say about the royal parties and the court is intended for
impertinence, knowing as you do know your uncle's position."

"Not at all. You know my position. I am engaged to marry another man,
and cannot therefore marry M. Grascour. Why should he be sent to me,
except that you won't believe me when I tell you that I am engaged?"
Then she marched out of the room, and considered within her own bosom
what answer she would give to this new Belgian suitor.

She was made perfectly aware when the Belgian suitor was about to
arrive. On the day but one after the interview with her aunt she was
left alone when the other ladies went out, and suspected that even the
footmen knew what was to happen, when M. Grascour was shown into the
drawing-room. There was a simple mode of dealing with the matter on his
part,--very different from that state of agitation into which Harry had
been thrown when he had made his proposition. She was quite prepared to
admit that M. Grascour's plan might be the wisest; but Harry's manner
had been full of real love, and had charmed her. M. Grascour was not in
the least flustered, whereas poor Harry had been hardly able to speak
his mind. But it had not mattered much whether Harry spoke his mind or
not, whereas all the eloquence in the world could have done no good for
M. Grascour. Florence had known that Harry did love her, whereas of M.
Grascour she only knew that he wanted to make her his wife.

"Miss Mountjoy," he said, "I am charmed to find you here. Allow me to
add that I am charmed to find you alone." Florence, who knew all about
it, only bowed. She had to go through it, and thought that she would be
able to do so with equanimity. "I do not know whether your aunt or your
mother have done me the honor of mentioning my name to you."

"They have both spoken to me."

"I thought it best that they should have the opportunity of doing so. In
our country these things are arranged chiefly by the lady's friends.
With your people I know it is different. Perhaps it is much better that
it should be so in a matter in which the heart has to be concerned."

"It would come to the same thing with me. I must decide for myself."

"I am sure of it. May I venture to feel a hope that ultimately that
decision may not go against me?" M. Grascour, as he said this, did throw
some look of passion into his face. "But I have spoken nothing as yet of
my own feelings."

"It is unnecessary."

This might be taken in either one of two senses; but the gentleman was
not sufficiently vain to think that the lady had intended to signify to
him that she would accept his love as a thing of which she could have no
doubt. "Ah, Miss Mountjoy," he continued, "if you would allow me to say
that since you have been at Brussels not a day has passed in which
mingled love and respect have not grown within my bosom. I have sat by
and watched while my excellent young friend Mr. Anderson has endeavored
to express his feelings. I have said to myself that I would bide my
time. If you could give yourself to him, why then the aspiration should
be quenched within my own breast. But you have not done so, though, as I
am aware, he has been assisted by my friend Sir Magnus. I have seen, and
have heard, and have said to myself at last, 'Now, too, my turn may
come.' I have loved much, but I have been very patient. Can it be that
my turn should have come at last?" Though he had spoken of Mr. Anderson,
he had not thought it expedient to say a word either of Captain
Scarborough or of Mr. Annesley. He knew quite as much of them as he did
of Mr. Anderson. He was clever, and had put together with absolute
correctness what Mrs. Mountjoy had told him, with other little facts
which had reached his ears.

"M. Grascour, I suppose I am very much obliged to you. I ought to be."
Here he bowed his head. "But my only way of being grateful is to tell
you the truth." Again he bowed his head. "I am in love with another man.
That's the truth." Here he shook his head with the smallest possible
shake, as though deprecating her love, but not doing so with any
harshness. "I engaged to marry him, too." There was another shake of the
head, somewhat more powerful. "And I intend to marry him." This she said
with much bold assurance. "All my old friends know that it is so, and
ought not to have sent you to me. I have given a promise to Harry
Annesley, and Harry Annesley alone can make me depart from it." This she
said in a low voice, but almost with violence, because there had come
another shake of the head in reply to her assurance that she meant to
marry Annesley. "And though he were to make me depart from it,--which he
will never do,--I should be just the same as regards anybody else. Can't
you understand that when a girl has given herself, heart and soul, to a
man, she won't change?"

"Girls do change--sometimes."

"You may know them; I don't,--not girls that are worth anything."

"But when all your friends are hostile?"

"What can they do? They can't make me marry another person. They may
hinder my happiness; but they can't hand me over, like a parcel of
goods, to any one else. Do you mean to say that you would accept such a
parcel?"

"Oh yes--such a parcel!"

"You would accept a girl who would come to you telling you that she
loved another man? I don't believe it of you."

"I should know that my tenderness would beget tenderness in you."

"It wouldn't do anything of the kind. It would be all horror,--horror. I
should kill myself, or else you, or perhaps both."

"Is your aversion so strong?"

"No, not at all;--not at present. I like you very much. I do indeed. I'd
do anything for you--in the way of friendship. I believe you to be a
real gentleman."

"But you would kill me!"

"You make me talk of a condition of things which is quite, quite
impossible. When I say that I like you, I am talking of the present
condition of things. I have not the least desire to kill you, or myself,
or anybody. I want to be taken back to England, and there to be allowed
to marry Mr. Henry Annesley. That's what I want. But I intend to remain
engaged to him. That's my purpose, and no man and no woman shall stir me
from it." He smiled, and again shook his head, and she began to doubt
whether she did like him so much. "Now I've told you all about myself,"
she said, rising to her feet. "You may believe me or not, as you please;
but, as I have believed you, I have told you all." Then she walked out
of the room.

M. Grascour, as soon as he was alone, left the room and the house, and,
making his way into the park, walked round it twice, turning in his mind
his success and his want of success. For, in truth, he was not at all
dispirited by what had occurred. With her other Belgian lover,--that is,
with Mr. Anderson,--Florence had at any rate succeeded in making the
truth appear to be the truth. He did believe that she had taken such a
fancy to that "fellow Harry Annesley" that there would be no overcoming
it. He had got a glimpse into the firmness of her character which was
denied to M. Grascour. M. Grascour, as he walked up and down the shady
paths of the park, told himself that such events as this so-called love
on the part of Florence were very common in the lives of English young
ladies. "They are the best in the world," he said to himself, "and they
make the most charming wives; but their education is such that there is
no preventing these accidents." The passion displayed in the young
lady's words he attributed solely to her power of expression. One girl
would use language such as had been hers, and such a girl would be
clever, eloquent, and brave; another girl would hum and haw, with half a
"yes" and a quarter of a "no," and would mean just the same thing. He
did not doubt but that she had engaged herself to Harry Annesley; nor
did he doubt that she had been brought to Brussels to break off that
engagement; and he thought it most probable that her friends would
prevail. Under these circumstances, why should he despair?--or why,
rather, as he was a man not given to despair, should he not think that
there was for him a reasonable chance of success? He must show himself
to be devoted, true, and not easily repressed.

She had used, he did not doubt, the same sort of language in silencing
Anderson. Mr. Anderson had accepted her words, but he knew too well the
value of words coming from a young lady's mouth to take them at their
true meaning. He had at this interview affected a certain amount of
intimacy with Florence of which he thought that he appreciated the
value. She had told him that she would kill him,--of course in joke; and
a joke from a girl on such an occasion was worth much. No Belgian girl
would have joked. But then he was anxious to marry Florence because
Florence was English. Therefore, when he went back to his own home he
directed that the system of the high polish should be continued with his
boots.

"I don't suppose he will come again," Florence had said to her mother,
misunderstanding the character of her latest lover quite as widely as he
misunderstood hers. But M. Grascour, though he did not absolutely renew
his offer at once, gave it to be understood that he did not at all
withdraw from the contest. He obtained permission from Lady Mountjoy to
be constantly at the Embassy, and succeeded even in obtaining a promise
of support from Sir Magnus. "You're quite up a tree," Sir Magnus had
said to his Secretary of Legation. "It's clear she won't look at you."

"I have pledged myself to abstain," said poor Anderson, in a tone which
seemed to confess that all chance was over with him.

"I suppose she must marry some one, and I don't see why Grascour should
not have as good a chance as another." Anderson had stalked away,
brooding over the injustice of his position, and declaring to himself
that this Belgian should never be allowed to marry Florence Mountjoy in
peace.

But M. Grascour continued his attentions; and this it was which had
induced Florence to tell her mother that the Belgian was "a great
trouble," which ought to be avoided by a return to England.



CHAPTER XLVII.

FLORENCE BIDS FAREWELL TO HER LOVERS.


"Mamma, had you not better take me back to Cheltenham at once?"

"Has that unfortunate young man written to you?"

"Yes. The young man whom you call unfortunate has written. Of course I
cannot agree to have him so called. And, to tell the truth, I don't
think he is so very unfortunate. He has got a girl who really loves him,
and that, I think, is a step to happiness."

Every word of this was said by Florence as though with the purpose of
provoking her mother; and so did Mrs. Mountjoy feel it. But behind this
purpose there was that other fixed resolution to get Harry at last
accepted as her husband, and perhaps the means taken were the best. Mrs
Mountjoy was already beginning to feel that there would be nothing for
her but to give up the battle, and to open her motherly arms to Harry
Annesley. Sir Magnus had told her that M. Grascour would probably
prevail. M. Grascour was said to be exactly the man likely to be
effective with such a girl as Florence. That had been the last opinion
expressed by Sir Magnus. But Mrs. Mountjoy had found no comfort in it.
Florence was going to have her own way. Her mother knew that it was so,
and was very unhappy. But she was still anxious to continue a weak,
ineffective battle. "It was very impertinent of him writing," she said.

"When he was going to America for years! Dear mamma, do put yourself in
my place. How was it possible that he should not write?"

"A young man has no business to come and insinuate himself into a family
in that way; and then, when he knows he is not welcome, to open a
correspondence."

"But, mamma, he knows that he is welcome. If he had gone to America
without writing to me--Oh, it would have been impossible! I should have
gone after him."

"No,--no;--never!"

"I am quite in earnest, mamma. But it is no good talking about what
could not have taken place."

"We ought to have prevented you from receiving or sending letters." Here
Mrs. Mountjoy touched on a subject on which the practice of the English
world has been much altered during the last thirty or forty
years;--perhaps we may say fifty or sixty years. Fifty years ago young
ladies were certainly not allowed to receive letters as they chose, and
to write them, and to demand that this practice should be carried on
without any supervision from their elder friends. It is now usually the
case that they do so. A young lady, before she falls into a
correspondence with a young man, is expected to let it be understood
that she does so. But she does not expect that his letters, either
coming or going, shall be subject to any espial, and she generally feels
that the option of obeying or disobeying the instructions given to her
rests with herself. Practically the use of the post-office is in her own
hands. And, as this spirit of self-conduct has grown up, the morals and
habits of our young ladies have certainly not deteriorated. In America
they carry latch-keys, and walk about with young gentlemen as young
gentlemen walk about with each other. In America the young ladies are as
well-behaved as with us,--as well-behaved as they are in some Continental
countries in which they are still watched close till they are given up
as brides to husbands with whom they have had no means of becoming
acquainted. Whether the latch-key system, or that of free
correspondence, may not rob the flowers of some of that delicate aroma
which we used to appreciate, may be a question; but then it is also a
question whether there does not come something in place of it which in
the long-run is found to be more valuable. Florence, when this remark
was made as to her own power of sending and receiving letters, remained
silent, but looked very firm. She thought that it would have been
difficult to silence her after this fashion. "Sir Magnus could have done
it, at any rate, if I had not been able."

"Sir Magnus could have done nothing, I think, which would not have been
within your power. But it is useless talking of this. Will you not take
me back to England, so as to prevent the necessity of Harry coming
here?"

"Why should he come?"

"Because, mamma, I intend to see my future husband before he goes from
me for so great a distance, and for so long a time. Don't you feel any
pity for me, mamma?"

"Do you feel pity for me?"

"Because one day you wish me to marry my cousin Scarborough, and the
next Mr. Anderson, and then the next M. Grascour? How can I pity you for
that? It is all done because you have taken it in your head to think ill
of one whom I believe to be especially worthy. You began by disliking
him, because he interfered with your plans about Mountjoy. I never would
have married my cousin Mountjoy. He is not to my taste, and he is a
gambler. But you have thought that you could do what you liked with me."

"It has always been for your own happiness."

"But I must be the judge of that. How could I be happy with any of these
men, seeing that I do not care for them in the least? It would be
utterly impossible for me to have myself married to either of them. To
Harry Annesley I have given myself altogether; but you, because you are
my mother, are able to keep us apart. Do you not pity me for the sorrow
and trouble which I must suffer?"

"I suppose a mother always pities the sufferings of a child."

"And removes them when she can do so. But now, mamma, is he to come
here, or will you take me back to England?"

This was a question which Mrs. Mountjoy found it very difficult to
answer. On the spur of the moment she could not answer it, as it would
be necessary that she should first consult Sir Magnus. Could Sir Magnus
undertake to confine her daughter within the precincts of the Embassy,
and to exclude the lover during such time as Harry Annesley night remain
in Brussels?

As she thought of the matter in her own room she conceived that there
would be a great difficulty. All the world of Brussels would become
aware of what was going on. The young lady would endeavor to get out,
and could only be constrained by the co-operation of the servants; and
the young gentleman, in his endeavors to get in, could only be prevented
by the assistance of the police. Dim ideas presented themselves to her
mind of farther travel. But wherever she went there would be a
post-office, and she was aware that the young man could pursue her much
quicker than she could fly. How good it would be that in such an
emergency she might have the privilege of locking her daughter up in
some convent! And yet it must be a Protestant convent, as all things
savoring of the Roman Catholic religion were abhorrent to her.
Altogether, as she thought of her own condition and that of her
daughter, she felt that the world was sadly out of joint.

"Coming here, is he?" said Sir Magnus. "Then he will just have to go
back again as wise as he came."

"But can you shut your doors against him?"

"Shut my doors! Of course I can. He'll never be able to get his nose in
here if once an order has been given for his exclusion. Who's Mr.
Annesley? I don't suppose he knows an Englishman in Brussels."

"But she will go out to meet him."

"What! in the streets?" said Sir Magnus, in horror.

"I fear she would."

"By George! she must be a stiff-necked one if she'll do that." Then Mrs.
Mountjoy, with tears in her eyes, began to explain with very many
epithets that her daughter was the best girl in all the world. She was
entirely worthy of confidence. Those who knew her were aware that no
better behaved young woman could exist. She was conscientious,
religious, and high-principled. "But she'll go out in the streets and
walk with a young man when all her friends tell her not. Is that her
idea of religion?" Then Mrs. Mountjoy, with some touch of anger in the
tone of her voice, said that she would return to England, and carry her
daughter with her. "What the deuce can I do, Sarah, when the young lady
is so unruly? I can give orders to have him shut out, and can take care
that they are obeyed; but I cannot give orders to have her shut in. I
should be making her a prisoner, and everybody would talk about it. In
that matter you must give her the orders;--only you say that she would
not comply with them."

On the following day Mrs. Mountjoy informed her daughter that they would
go back to Cheltenham. She did not name an immediate day, because it
would be well, she thought, to stave off the evil hour. Nor did she name
a distant day, because, were she to do so, the terrible evil of Harry
Annesley's arrival in Brussels would not be prevented. At first she
wished to name no day, thinking that it would be a good thing to cross
Harry on the road. But here Florence was too strong for her, and at last
a day was fixed. In a week's time they would take their departure and go
home by slow stages. With this arrangement Florence expressed herself
well pleased, and of course made Harry acquainted with the probable time
of their arrival.

M. Grascour, when he heard that the day had been suddenly fixed for the
departure of Mrs. Mountjoy and her daughter, not unnaturally conceived
that he himself was the cause of the ladies' departure. Nor did he on
that account resign all hope. The young lady's mother was certainly on
his side, and he thought it quite possible that were he to appear in
England he might be successful. But when he had heard of her coming
departure of course it was necessary that he should say some special
farewell. He dined one evening at the British Embassy, and took an
opportunity during the evening of finding himself alone with Florence.
"And so, Miss Florence," he said, "you and your estimable mamma are
about to return to England?"

"We have been here a very long time, and are going home at last."

"It seems to me but the other day when you came." said M. Grascour, with
all a lover's eagerness.

"It was in autumn, and the weather was quite mild and soft. Now we are
in the middle of January."

"I suppose so. But still the time has gone only too rapidly. The heart
can hardly take account of days and weeks." As this was decidedly
lover's talk, and was made in terms which even a young lady cannot
pretend to misunderstand, Florence was obliged to answer it in some
manner equally direct. And now she was angry with him. She had informed
him that she was in love with another man. In doing so she had done much
more than the necessity of the case demanded, and had told him, as the
best way of silencing him, that which she might have been expected to
keep as her own secret. And yet here he was talking to her about his
heart! She made him no immediate answer, but frowned at him and looked
stern. It was clear to her intelligence that he had no right to talk to
her about his heart after the information she had given him. "I hope,
Miss Mountjoy, that I may look forward to the pleasure of seeing you
when I go over to England."

"But we don't live in London, or near it. We live down in the
country--at Cheltenham."

"Distance would be nothing."

This was very bad, and must be stopped, thought Florence. "I suppose I
shall be married by that time. I don't know where we may live, but I
shall be happy to see you if you call."

She had here made a bold assertion, and one which M. Grascour did not at
all believe. He was speaking of a visit which he might make, perhaps, in
a month or six weeks, and the young lady told him that he would find her
married! And yet, as he knew very well, her mother and her uncle and her
aunt were all opposed to this marriage. And she spoke of it without a
blush,--without any reticence! Young ladies were much emancipated, but he
did not think that they generally carried their emancipation so far as
this. "I hope not that," he said.

"I don't know why you should be so ill-natured as to hope it. The fact
is, M. Grascour, you don't believe what I told you the other day.
Perhaps as a young lady I ought not to have alluded to it, but I did so
in order to set the matter at rest altogether. Of course I can't tell
when you may come. If you come quite at once I shall not be married."

"No;--not married."

"But I shall be as much engaged as is possible for a girl to be. I have
given my word, and nothing will make me false to it. I don't suppose you
will come on my account."

"Solely on your account."

"Then stay at home. I am quite in earnest. And now I must say good-bye."

She departed, and left him seated alone on the sofa. He at first told
himself that she was unfeminine. There was a hard way with her of
talking about herself which he almost pronounced to be unladylike. An
unmarried girl should, he thought, under no circumstances speak of the
gentleman to whom her affections had been given as Miss Mountjoy spoke
of Mr. Annesley. But nevertheless he would sooner possess her as his own
wife than any other girl he had ever met. Something of the real passion
of unsatisfied love made him feel chill at his heart. Who was this Harry
Annesley, for whom she professed so warm a feeling? Her mother declared
Harry Annesley to be a scapegrace, and something of the story of a
discreditable midnight street quarrel between him and the young lady's
cousin had reached his ears. He did not suppose it to be possible that
the young lady could actually get married without her mother's
co-operation, and therefore he thought that he still would go to
England. In one respect he was altogether untouched. If he could
ultimately succeed in marrying the young lady, she would not be a bit
the worse as his wife because she had been attached to Harry Annesley.
That was a kind of folly which a girl could very quickly get over when
she had not been allowed to have her own way. Therefore, upon the whole,
he thought that he would go to England.

But the parting with Anderson had also to be endured, and must
necessarily be more difficult. She owed him a debt for having abstained,
and she could not go without paying the debt by some expression of
gratitude. That she would have done so had he kept aloof was a matter of
course; but equally a matter of course was it that he would not keep
aloof. "I shall want to see you for just five minutes to-morrow morning
before you take your departure," he said, in a lugubrious voice, during
her last evening.

He had kept his promise to the very letter, mooning about in his
desolate manner very conspicuously. The desolation had been notorious,
and very painful to Florence,--but the promise had been kept, and she was
grateful. "Oh, certainly, if you wish it," she said.

"I do wish it." Then he made an appointment and she promised to keep it.

It was in the ball-room, a huge chamber, very convenient for its
intended purpose, and always handsome at night-time, but looking as
desolate in the morning as did poor Anderson himself. He was stalking up
and down the long room when she entered it, and being at the farther
end, stalked up to her and addressed her with words which he had chosen
for the purpose. "Miss Mountjoy," he said, "you found me here a happy,
light-hearted young man."

"I hope I leave you soon to be the same, in spite of this little
accident."

He did not say that he was a blighted being, because the word had, he
thought, become ridiculous; but he would have used it had he dared, as
expressing most accurately his condition.

"A cloud has passed over me, and its darkness will never be effaced. It
has certainly been your doing."

"Oh, Mr. Anderson! what can I say?"

"I have loved before,--but never like this."

"And so you will again."

"Never! When I declare that, I expect my word to be respected," He
paused for an answer, but what could she say? She did not at all respect
his word on such a subject, but she did respect his conduct. "Yes; I
call upon you to believe me when I say that for me all that is over. But
it can be nothing to you."

"It will be very much to me."

"I shall go on in the same disconsolate, miserable way, I suppose I
shall stay here, because I shall be as well here as anywhere else. I
might move to Lisbon,--but what good would that do me? Your image would
follow me to whatever capital I might direct my steps. But there is one
thing you can do." Here he brightened up, putting on quite an altered
face.

"I will do anything, Mr. Anderson--in my power."

"If--if--if you should change--"

"I shall never change!" she said, with an angry look.

"If you should change, I think you should remember the promise you
exacted and the fidelity with which it has been kept."

"I do remember it."

"And then I should be allowed to come again and have my chance. Wherever
I may be, at the court of the Shah of Persia or at the Chinese capital,
I will instantly come. I promised you when you asked me. Will you not
now promise me?"

"I cannot promise anything--so impossible."

"It will bind you to nothing but to let me know that Mr. Annesley has
gone his way." But she had to explain to him that it was impossible she
should make any promise founded on the idea that Mr. Henry Annesley
should ever go any way in which she would not accompany him. With that
he had to be as well satisfied as the circumstances of the case would
admit, and he left her with an assurance, not intended to be quite
audible, that he was and ever should be a blighted individual.

When the carriage was at the door Sir Magnus came down into the hall,
full of smiles and good-humor; but at that moment Lady Mountjoy was
saying a last word of farewell to her relatives in her own chamber.
"Good-bye, my dear; I hope you will get well through all your troubles."
This was addressed to Mrs. Mountjoy. "And as for you, my dear," she
said, turning to Florence, "if you would only contrive to be a little
less stiff-necked, I think the world would go easier with you."

"I think my stiff neck, aunt, as you call it, is what I have chiefly to
depend upon,--I mean in reference to other advice than mamma's. Good-bye,
aunt."

"Good-bye, Florence." And the two parted, hating each other as only
female enemies can hate. But Florence, when she was in the carriage,
threw herself on to her mother's neck and kissed her.



CHAPTER XLVIII.

MR. PROSPER CHANGES HIS MIND.


When Florence with her mother reached Cheltenham she found a letter
lying for her, which surprised her much. The the letter was from Harry,
and seemed to have been written in better spirits than he had lately
displayed. But it was very short:

"DEAREST FLORENCE,--When can I come down? It is absolutely necessary
that I should see you. All my plans are likely to be changed in the most
extraordinary manner.

"Nobody can say that this is a love-letter.

"Yours affectionately, H. A."

Florence, of course, showed the letter to her mother, who was much
frightened by its contents. "What am I to say to him when he comes?" she
exclaimed.

"If you will be so very, very good as to see him you must not say
anything unkind."

"Unkind! How can I say anything else than what you would call unkind? I
disapprove of him altogether. And he is coming here with the express
object of taking you away from me."

"Oh no;--not at once."

"But at some day,--which I trust may be very distant. How can I speak to
him kindly when I feel that he is my enemy?" But the matter was at last
set at rest by a promise from Florence that she would not marry her
lover in less than three years without her mother's express consent.
Three years is a long time, was Mrs. Mountjoy's thought, and many things
might occur within that term. Harry, of whom she thought all manner of
unnatural things, might probably in that time have proved himself to be
utterly unworthy. And Mountjoy Scarborough might again have come forward
in the light of the world. She had heard of late that Mountjoy had been
received once more into his father's full favor. And the old man had
become so enormously rich through the building of mills which had been
going on at Tretton, that, as Mrs. Mountjoy thought, he would be able to
make any number of elder sons. On the subject of entail her ideas were
misty; but she felt sure that Mountjoy Scarborough would even yet become
a rich man. That Florence should be made to change on that account she
did not expect. But she did think that when she should have learned that
Harry was a murderer, or a midnight thief, or a wicked conspirator, she
would give him up. Therefore she agreed to receive him with not actually
expressed hostility when he should call at Montpelier Place.

But now, in the proper telling of our story, we must go back to Harry
Annesley himself. It will be remembered that his father had called upon
Mr. Prosper, to inform him of Harry's projected journey to America; that
Mountjoy Scarborough had also called at Buston Hall; and that previous
to these two visits old Mr. Scarborough had himself written a long
letter giving a detailed account of the conflict which had taken place
in the London streets. These three events had operated strongly on Mr.
Prosper's mind; but not so strongly as the conduct of Miss Thoroughbung
and Messrs. Soames & Simpson. It had been made evident to him, from the
joint usage which he had received from these persons, that he was simply
"made use of," with the object of obtaining from him the best possible
establishment for the lady in question.

After that interview, at which the lady, having obtained in way of
jointure much more than was due to her, demanded also for Miss Tickle a
life-long home, and for herself a pair of ponies, he received a farther
letter from the lawyers. This offended him greatly. Nothing on earth
should induce him to write a line to Messrs. Soames & Simpson. Nor did
he see his way to writing again to Messrs. Grey & Barry about such
trifles as those contained in the letter from the Buntingford lawyers.
Trifles to him they were not; but trifles they must become, if put into
a letter addressed to a London firm. "Our client is anxious to know
specifically that she is to be allowed to bring Miss Tickle with her,
when she removes to Buston Hall. Her happiness depends greatly on the
company of Miss Tickle, to which she had been used now for many years.
Our client wishes to be assured also that she shall be allowed to keep a
pair of ponies in addition to the carriage-horses, which will be
maintained, no doubt, chiefly for your own purposes." These were the
demands as made by Messrs. Soames & Simpson, and felt by Mr. Prosper to
be altogether impossible. He recollected the passionate explosion of
wrath to which the name of Miss Tickle had already brought him in
presence of the clergyman of his parish. He would endure no farther
disgrace on behalf of Miss Tickle. Miss Tickle should never be an inmate
of his house, and as for the ponies, no pony should ever be stabled in
his stalls. A pony was an animal which of its very nature was
objectionable to him. There was a want of dignity in a pony to which
Buston Hall should never be subjected. "And also," he said to himself at
last, "there is a lack of dignity about Miss Thoroughbung herself which
would do me an irreparable injury."

But how should he make known his decision to the lady herself? and how
should he escape from the marriage in such a manner as to leave no stain
on his character as a gentleman? If he could have offered her a sum of
money, he would have done so at once; but that he thought would not be
gentleman-like,--and would be a confession on his own part that he had
behaved wrongly.

At last he determined to take no notice of the lawyers' letter, and
himself to write to Miss Thoroughbung, telling her that the objects
which they proposed to themselves by marriage were not compatible, and
that therefore their matrimonial intentions must be allowed to subside.
He thought it well over, and felt assured that very much of the success
of such a measure must depend upon the wording of the letter. There need
be no immediate haste. Miss Thoroughbung would not come to Buston again
quite at once to disturb him by a farther visit. Before she would come
he would have flown to Italy. The letter must be courteous, and somewhat
tender, but it must be absolutely decisive. There must be no loop-hole
left by which she could again entangle him, no crevice by which she
could creep into Buston. The letter should be a work of time. He would
give himself a week or ten days for composing it. And then, when it
should have been sent, he would be off to Italy.

But before he could allow himself to go upon his travels he must settle
the question about his nephew, which now lay heavy upon his conscience.
He did feel that he had ill treated the young man. He had been so told
in very strong language by Mr. Scarborough of Tretton, and Mr.
Scarborough of Tretton was a man of very large property, and much talked
about in the world. Very wonderful things were said about Mr.
Scarborough, but they all tended to make Mr. Prosper believe that he was
a man of distinction. And he had also heard lately about Mr.
Scarborough's younger son,--or, indeed, his only son, according to the
new way of speaking of him,--tidings which were not much in that young
man's favor. It was from Augustus Scarborough that he had heard those
evil stories about his own nephew. Therefore his belief was shaken; and
it was by no means clear to him that there could be any other heir for
their property.

Miss Thoroughbung had proved herself to be altogether unfit for the high
honor he had intended her. Miss Puffle had gone off with Farmer
Tazlehurst's son. Mr. Prosper did not think that he had energy enough to
look for a third lady who might be fit at all points to become his wife.
And now another evil had been added to all these. His nephew had
declared his purpose of emigrating to the United States and becoming an
American. It might be true that he should be driven to do so by absolute
want. He, Mr. Prosper, had stopped his allowance, and had done so after
deterring him from following any profession by which he might have
earned his bread. He had looked into the law, and, as far as he could
understand it, Buston must become the property of his nephew, even
though his nephew should become an American citizen. His conscience
pricked him sorely as he thought of the evil which might thus accrue,
and of the disgrace which would be attached to his own name. He
therefore wrote the following letter to his nephew, and sent it across
to the parsonage, done up in a large envelope, and sealed carefully with
the Buston arms. And on the corner of the envelope "Peter Prosper" was
written very legibly:

"MY DEAR NEPHEW, HENRY ANNESLEY,--

"Under existing circumstances you will, I think, be surprised at a
letter written in my handwriting; but facts have arisen which make it
expedient that I should address you.

"You are about, I am informed, to proceed to the United States, a
country against which I acknowledge I entertain a serious antipathy.
They are not a gentlemanlike people, and I am given to understand that
they are generally dishonest in all their dealings. Their President is a
low person, and all their ideas of government are pettifogging. Their
ladies, I am told, are very vulgar, though I have never had the pleasure
of knowing one of them. They are an irreligious nation, and have no
respect for the Established Church of England and her bishops. I should
be very sorry that my heir should go among them.

"With reference to my stopping the income which I have hitherto allowed
you, it was a step I took upon the best advice, nor can I allow it to be
thought that there is any legal claim upon me for a continuance of the
payment. But I am willing for the present to continue it, on the full
understanding that you at once give up your American project.

"But there is a subject on which it is essentially necessary that I
should receive from you, as my heir, a full and complete explanation.
Under what circumstances did you beat Captain Scarborough in the streets
late on the night of the 3d of June last? And how did it come to pass
that you left him bleeding, speechless, and motionless on that occasion?

"As I am about to continue the payment of the sum hitherto allowed, I
think it only fitting that I should receive this explanation under your
own hand.--I am your affectionate uncle,

"PETER PROSPER.

"P.S.--A rumor may probably have reached you of a projected alliance
between me and a young lady belonging to a family with which your sister
is about to connect herself. It is right that I should tell you that
there is no truth in this report."

This letter, which was much easier to write than the one intended for
Miss Thoroughbung, was unfortunately sent off a little before the
completion of the other. A day's interval had been intended. But the
missive to Miss Thoroughbung was, under the press of difficulties,
delayed longer than was intended.

There was, we grieve to say, much of joy but more of laughter at the
rectory when this letter was received. As usual, Joe Thoroughbung was
there, and it was found impossible to keep the letter from him. The
postscript burst upon them all as a surprise, and was welcomed by no one
with more vociferous joy than by the lady's nephew. "So there is an end
forever to the hope that a child of the Buntingford Brewery should sit
upon the throne of the Prospers." It was thus that Joe expressed
himself.

"Why shouldn't he have sat there?" said Polly. "A Thoroughbung is as
good as a Prosper any day." But this was not said in the presence of
Mrs. Annesley, who on that subject entertained views very different from
her daughter.

"I wonder what his idea is of the Church of England?" said Mr.
Annesley. "Does he think that the Archbishop of Canterbury is supreme in
all religious matters in America?"

"How on earth he knows that the women are all vulgar, when he has never
seen one of them, is a mystery," said Harry.

"And that they are dishonest in all their dealings," said Joe. "I
suppose he got that out of some of the radical news papers." For Joe,
after the manner of brewers, was a staunch Tory.

"And their President, too, is vulgar as well as the ladies," said Mr.
Annesley. "And this is the opinion of an educated Englishman, who is not
ashamed to own that he entertains serious antipathies against a whole
nation!"

But at the parsonage they soon returned to a more serious consideration
of the matter. Did Uncle Prosper intend to forgive the sinner
altogether? And was he coerced into doing so by a conviction that he had
been told lies, or by the uncommon difficulties which presented
themselves to him in reference to another heir? At any rate, it was
agreed by them all that Harry must meet his uncle half-way, and write
the "full and complete explanation," as desired. "'Bleeding, speechless,
and motionless!'" said Harry. "I can't deny that he was bleeding; he
certainly was speechless, and for a few moments may have been
motionless. What am I to say?" But the letter was not a difficult one to
write, and was sent across on the same day to the Hall. There Mr.
Prosper gave up a day to its consideration,--a day which would have been
much better devoted to applying the final touch to his own letter to
Miss Thoroughbung. And he found at last that his nephew's letter
required no rejoinder.

But Harry had much to do. It was first necessary that he should see his
friend, and explain to him that causes over which he had no control
forbade him to go to America. "Of course, you know, I can't fly in my
uncle's face. I was going because he intended to disinherit me; but he
finds that more troublesome than letting me alone, and therefore I must
remain. You see what he says about the Americans." The gentleman, whose
opinion about our friends on the other side of the Atlantic was very
different from Mr. Prosper's, fell into a long argument on the subject.
But he was obliged at last to give up his companion.

Then came the necessity of explaining the change in all his plans to
Florence Mountjoy, and with this view he wrote the short letter given at
the beginning of the chapter, following it down in person to
Cheltenham. "Mamma, Harry is here," said Florence to her mother.

"Well, my dear? I did not bring him."

"But what am I to say to him?"

"How can I tell? Why do you ask me?"

"Of course he must come and see me," said Florence. "He has sent a note
to say that he will be here in ten minutes."

"Oh dear! oh dear!" exclaimed Mrs. Mountjoy.

"Do you mean to be present, mamma? That is what I want to know." But
that was the question which at the moment Mrs. Mountjoy could not
answer. She had pledged herself not to be unkind, on condition that no
marriage should take place for three years. But she could not begin by
being kind, as otherwise she would immediately have been pressed to
abandon that very condition. "Perhaps, mamma, it would be less painful
if you would not see him."

"But he is not to make repeated visits."

"No, not at present; I think not."

"He must come only once," said Mrs. Mountjoy, firmly. "He was to have
come because he was going to America. But now he has changed all his
plans. It isn't fair, Florence."

"What can I do? I cannot send him to America because you thought he was
to go there. I thought so too; and so did he. I don't know what has
changed him; but it wasn't likely that he'd write and say he wouldn't
come because he had altered his plans. Of course he wants to see me; and
so do I want to see him--very much. Here he is!"

There was a ring at the bell, and Mrs. Mountjoy was driven to resolve
what she would do at the moment. "You mustn't be above a quarter of an
hour. I won't have you together for above a quarter of an hour,--or
twenty minutes at the farthest." So saying, Mrs. Mountjoy escaped from
the room, and within a minute or two Florence found herself in Harry
Annesley's arms.

The twenty minutes had become forty before Harry had thought of
stirring, although he had been admonished fully a dozen times that he
must at that moment take his departure. Then the maid knocked at the
door, and brought word "that missus wanted to see Miss Florence in her
bedroom."

"Now, Harry, you must go. You really shall go,--or I will. I am very,
very happy to hear what you have told me."

"But three years!"

"Unless mamma will agree."

"It is quite out of the question. I never heard of anything so absurd."

"Then you must get mamma to consent. I have promised her for three
years, and you ought to know that I will keep my word. Harry, I always
keep my word; do I not? If she will consent, I will. Now, sir, I really
must go." Then there was a little form of farewell which need not be
especially explained, and Florence went up stairs to her mother.



CHAPTER XLIX.

CAPTAIN VIGNOLLES GETS HIS MONEY.


When we last left Captain Scarborough, he had just lost an additional
sum of two hundred and twenty-seven pounds to Captain Vignolles, which
he was not able to pay, besides the sum of fifty pounds which he had
received the day before, as the first instalment of his new allowance.
This was but a bad beginning of the new life he was expected to lead
under the renewed fortunes which his father was preparing for him. He
had given his promissory note for the money at a week's date, and had
been extremely angry with Captain Vignolles because that gentleman had,
under the circumstances, been a little anxious about it. It certainly
was not singular that he should have been so, as Captain Scarborough had
been turned out of more than one club in consequence of his inability to
pay his card debts. As he went home to his lodgings, with Captain
Vignolles's champagne in his head, he felt very much as he had done that
night when he attacked Harry Annesley. But he met no one whom he could
consider as an enemy, and therefore got himself to bed, and slept off
the fumes of the drink.

On that day he was to return to Tretton; but, when he awoke, he felt
that before he did so he must endeavor to make some arrangements for
paying the amount due at the end of the week. He had already borrowed
twenty pounds from Mr. Grey, and had intended to repay him out of the
sum which his father had given him; but that sum now was gone, and he
was again nearly penniless. In this emergency there was nothing left to
him but again to go to Mr. Grey.

As he was shown up the stairs to the lawyer's room he did feel
thoroughly ashamed of himself. Mr. Grey knew all the circumstances of
his career, and it would be necessary now to tell him of this last
adventure. He did tell himself, as he dragged himself up the stairs,
that for such a one as he was there could be no redemption. "It would be
better that I should go back," he said, "and throw myself from the
Monument." But yet he felt that if Florence Mountjoy could still be his,
there might yet be a hope that things would go well with him.

Mr. Grey began by expressing surprise at seeing Captain Scarborough in
town. "Oh yes, I have come up. It does not matter why, because, as
usual, I have put my foot in it. It was at my father's bidding; but that
does not matter."

"How have you put your foot in it?" said the attorney. There was one way
in which the captain was always "putting" both his "feet in it;" but,
since he had been turned out of his clubs, Mr. Grey did not think that
that way was open to him.

"The old story."

"Do you mean that you have been gambling again?"

"Yes;--I met a friend last night and he asked me to his rooms."

"And he had the cards ready?"

"Of course he had. What else would any one have ready for me?"

"And he won that remnant of the twenty pounds which you borrowed from
me, and therefore you want another?" Hereupon the captain shook his
head. "What is it, then, that you do want?"

"Such a man as I met," said the captain, "would not be content with the
remnant of twenty pounds. I had received fifty from my father, and had
intended to call here and pay you."

"That has all gone too?"

"Yes, indeed. And in addition to that I have given him a note for two
hundred and twenty-seven pounds, which I must take up in a week's time.
Otherwise I must disappear again,--and this time forever."

"It is a bottomless gulf," said the attorney. Captain Scarborough sat
silent, with something almost approaching to a smile on his mouth; but
his heart within him certainly was not smiling. "A bottomless gulf,"
repeated the attorney. Upon this the captain frowned. "What is it that
you wish me to do for you? I have no money of your father's in my hands,
nor could I give it you if I had it."

"I suppose not. I must go back to him, and tell him that it is so."
Then it was the lawyer's turn to be silent; and he remained thinking of
it all till Captain Scarborough rose from his seat and prepared to go.
"I won't trouble you any more Mr. Grey," he said.

"Sit down," said Mr. Grey. But the captain still remained standing. "Sit
down. Of course I can take out my check-book, and write a check for this
sum of money;--nothing would be so easy; and if I could succeed in
explaining it to your father during his lifetime, he, no doubt, would
repay me. And, for the sake of auld lang syne, I should not be unhappy
about my money, whether he did so or not. But would it be wise? On your
own account would it be wise?"

"I cannot say that anything done for me would be wise,--unless you could
cut my throat."

"And yet there is no one whose future life might be easier. Your father,
the circumstances of whose life are the most singular I ever knew--"

"I shall never believe all this about my mother."

"Never mind that now. We will pass that by for the present. He has
disinherited you."

"That will be a question some day for the lawyers--should I live."

"But circumstances have so gone with him that he is enabled to leave you
another fortune. He is very angry with your brother, in which anger I
sympathize. He will strip Tretton as bare as the palm of my hand for
your sake. You have always been his favorite, and so, in spite of all
things, you are still. They tell me he cannot last for six months
longer."

"Heaven knows I do not wish him to die."

"But he thinks that your brother does. He feels that Augustus begrudges
him a few months' longer life, and he is angry. If he could again make
you his heir, now that the debts are all paid, he would do so." Here the
captain shook his head. "But as it is, he will leave you enough for all
the needs of even a luxurious life. Here is his will, which I am going
to send down to him for final execution this very day. My senior clerk
will take it, and you will meet him there. That will give you ample for
life. But what is the use of it all, if you can lose it in one night or
in one month among a pack of scoundrels?"

"If they be scoundrels, I am one of them."

"You lose your money. You are their dupe. To the best of my belief you
have never won. The dupes lose, and the scoundrels win. It must be so."

"You know nothing about it, Mr. Grey."

"This man who had your money last;--does he not live on it as a
profession? Why should he win always, and you lose?"

"It is my luck."

"Luck! There is no such thing as luck. Toss up, right hand against left
for an hour together, and the result will be the same. If not for an
hour, then do it for six hours. Take the average, and your cards will be
the same as another man's."

"Another man has his skill," said Mountjoy.

"And uses it against the unskillful to earn his daily bread. That is the
same as cheating. But what is the use of all this? You must have thought
of it all before."

"Yes, indeed."

"And thinking of it, you are determined to persevere. You are impetuous,
not thoughtless, with your brain clouded with drink, and for the mere
excitement of the thing, you are determined to risk all in a contest for
which there is no chance for you,--and by which you acknowledge you will
be driven to self-destruction, as the only natural end."

"I fear it is so," said the captain.

"How much shall I draw it for?" said the attorney, taking out his
check-book,--"and to whom shall I make it payable? I suppose I may date
it to-day, so that the swindler who gets it may think that there is
plenty more behind for him to get."

"Do you mean that you are going to lend it me?"

"Oh, yes."

"And how do you mean to get it again?"

"I must wait, I suppose, till you have won it back among your friends.
If you will tell me that you do not intend to look for it in that
fashion, then I shall have no doubt as to your making me a legitimate
payment in a very short time. Two hundred and twenty pounds won't ruin
you, unless you are determined to ruin yourself." Mr. Grey the meanwhile
went on writing the check. "Here is provided for you a large sum of
money," and he laid his hand upon the will, "out of which you will be
able to pay me without the slightest difficulty. It is for you to say
whether you will or not."

"I will."

"You need not say it in that fashion;--that's easy. You must say it at
some moment when the itch of play is on you; when there shall be no one
by to hear: when the resolution if held, shall have some meaning in it.
Then say, 'there's that money which I had from old Grey. I am bound to
pay it. But if I go in there I know what will be the result. The very
coin that should go into his coffers will become a part of the prey on
which those harpies will feed.' There's the check for the two hundred
and twenty-seven pounds. I have drawn it exact, so that you may send the
identical bit of paper to your friend. He will suppose that I am some
money-lender who has engaged to supply your needs while your recovered
fortune lasts. Tell your father he shall have the will to-morrow. I
don't suppose I can send Smith with it to-day."

Then it became necessary that Scarborough should go; but it would be
becoming that he should first utter some words of thanks. "I think you
will get it back, Mr. Grey."

"I dare say."

"I think you will. It may be that the having to pay you will keep me for
a while from the gambling-table."

"You don't look for more than that?"

"I am an unfortunate man, Mr. Grey. There is one thing that would cure
me, but that one thing is beyond my reach."

"Some woman?"

"Well;--it is a woman. I think I could keep my money for the sake of her
comfort. But never mind. Good-bye, Mr. Grey. I think I shall remember
what you have done for me." Then he went and sent the identical check to
Captain Vignolles, with the shortest and most uncourteous epistle:

"DEAR SIR,--I send you your money. Send back the note.

"Yours. M. SCARBOROUGH."

"I hardly expected this," said the captain to himself as he pocketed the
check,--"at any rate not so soon. 'Nothing venture, nothing have.' That
Moody is a slow coach, and will never do anything. I thought there'd be
a little money about with him for a time." Then the captain turned over
in his mind that night's good work with the self-satisfied air of an
industrious professional worker.

But Mr. Grey was not so well satisfied with himself, and determined for
a while to say nothing to Dolly of the two hundred and twenty-seven
pounds which he had undoubtedly risked by the loan. But his mind misgave
him before he went to sleep, and he felt that he could not be
comfortable till he had made a clean breast of it. During the evening
Dolly had been talking to him of all the troubles of all the
Carrolls,--how Amelia would hardly speak to her father or her mother
because of her injured lover, and was absolutely insolent to her, Dolly,
whenever they met; how Sophia had declared that promises ought to be
kept, and that Amelia should be got rid of; and how Mrs. Carroll had
told her in confidence that Carroll _pere_ had come home the night
before drunker than usual, and had behaved most abominably. But Mr. Grey
had attended very little to all this, having his mind preoccupied with
the secret of the money which he had lent.

Therefore Dolly did not put out her candle, and arrayed herself for bed
in the costume with which she was wont to make her nocturnal visits. She
had perceived that her father had something on his mind which it would
be necessary that he should tell. She was soon summoned, and having
seated herself on the bed, began the conversation: "I knew you would
want me to-night."

"Why so?"

"Because you've got something to tell. It's about Mr. Barry."

"No indeed."

"That's well. Just at this moment I seem to care about Mr. Barry more
than any other trouble. But I fear that he has forgotten me
altogether,--which is not complimentary."

"Mr. Barry will turn up all in proper time," said her father. "I have
got nothing to say about Mr. Barry just at present, so if you are
love-lorn you had better go to bed."

"Very well. When I am love-lorn I will. Now, what have you got to tell
me?"

"I have lent a man a large sum of money,--two hundred and twenty-seven
pounds!"

"You are always lending people large sums of money."

"I generally get it back again."

"From Mr. Carroll, for instance,--when he borrows it for a pair of
breeches and spends it in gin-and-water."

"I never lent him a shilling. He is a burr, and has to be pacified, not
by loans but gifts. It is too late now for me to prevent the
brother-in-lawship of poor Carroll."

"Who has got this money?"

"A professed gambler, who never wins anything, and constantly loses more
than he is able to pay. Yet I do think this man will pay me some day."

"It is Captain Scarborough," said Dolly. "Seeing that his father is a
very rich man indeed, and as far as I can understand gives you a great
deal more trouble than he is worth, I don't see why you should lend a
large sum of money to his son."

"Simply because he wanted it."

"Oh dear! oh dear!"

"He wanted it very much. He had gone away a ruined man because of his
gambling; and now, when he had come back and was to be put upon his legs
again, I could not see him again ruined for the need of such a sum. It
was very foolish."

"Perhaps a little rash, papa."

"But now I have told you; and so there may be an end of it. But I'll
tell you what, Dolly: I'll bet you a new straw hat he pays me within a
month of his father's death." Then Dolly was allowed to escape and
betake herself to her bed.

On that same day Mountjoy Scarborough went down to Tretton, and was at
once closeted with his father. Mr. Scarborough had questions to ask
about Mr. Prosper, and was anxious to know how his son had succeeded in
his mission. But the conversation was soon turned from Mr. Prosper to
Captain Vignolles and Mr. Grey. Mountjoy had determined, as soon as he
had got the check from Mr. Grey, to say nothing about it to his father.
He had told Mr. Grey in order that he need not tell his father,--if the
money were forthcoming. But he had not been five minutes in his father's
room before he rushed to the subject. "You got among those birds of prey
again?" said his father.

"There was only one bird,--or at least two. A big bird and a small one."

"And you lost how much?" Then the captain told the precise sum. "And
Grey has lent it you?" The captain nodded his head. "Then you must ride
into Tretton and catch the mail to-night with a check to repay him. That
you should have been able in so short a time to have found a man willing
to fleece you! I suppose it's hopeless?"

"I cannot tell."

"Altogether hopeless."

"What am I to say, sir? If I make a promise it will go for nothing."

"For absolutely nothing."

"Then what would be the use of my promising?"

"You are quite logical, and look upon the matter in altogether a proper
light. As you have ruined yourself so often, and done your best to ruin
those that belong to you, what hope can there be? About this money that
I have left you, I do not know that anything farther can be said,--unless
I leave it all to an hospital. It is better that you should have it and
throw it away among the gamblers, than that it should fall into the
hands of Augustus. Besides, the demand is moderate. No doubt it is only
a beginning, but we will see."

Then he got out his check-book, and made Mountjoy himself write the
check, including the two sums which had been borrowed. And he dictated
the letter to Mr. Grey:

"MY DEAR GREY,--I return the money which Mountjoy has had from you,--two
hundred and twenty-seven pounds, and twenty. That, I think, is right.
You are the most foolish man I know with your money. To have given it to
such a scapegrace as my son Mountjoy! But you are the sweetest and
finest gentleman I ever came across. You have got your money now, which
is a great deal more than you can have expected or ought to have
obtained. However, on this occasion you have been in great luck.

"Yours faithfully,

"JOHN SCARBOROUGH."

This letter his son himself was forced to write, though it dealt
altogether with his own delinquencies; and yet, as he told himself, he
was not sorry to write it, as it would declare to Mr. Grey that he had
himself acknowledged at once his own sin. The only farther punishment
which his father exacted was that his son should himself ride into
Tretton and post the letter before he ate his dinner.

"I've got my money," said Mr. Grey, waving the check as he went into his
dressing-room, with Dolly at his heels.

"Who has paid it?"

"Old Scarborough; and he made Mountjoy write the letter himself, calling
me an old fool for lending it. I don't think I was such a fool at all.
However, I've got my money, and you may pay the bet and not say anything
more about it."



CHAPTER L.

THE LAST OF MISS THOROUGHBUNG.


Mr. Prosper, with that kind of energy which was distinctively his own,
had sent off his letter to Harry Annesley, with his postscript in it
about his blighted matrimonial prospects,--a letter easy to be
written,--before he had completed his grand epistle to Miss Thoroughbung.
The epistle to Miss Thoroughbung was one requiring great consideration.
It had to be studied in every word, and re-written again and again with
the profoundest care. He was afraid that he might commit himself by an
epithet. He dreaded even an adverb too much. He found that a full stop
expressed his feelings too violently, and wrote the letter again, for
the fifth time, because of the big initial which followed the full stop.
The consequence of all this long delay was, that Miss Thoroughbung had
heard the news, through the brewery, before it reached her in its
legitimate course. Mr. Prosper had written his postscript by accident,
and, in writing it, had forgotten the intercourse between his
brother-in-law's house and the Buntingford people. He had known well of
the proposed marriage; but he was a man who could not think of two
things at the same time, and thus had committed the blunder.

Perhaps it was better for him as it was; and the blow came to him with a
rapidity which created less of suffering than might have followed the
slower mode of proceeding which he had intended. He was actually making
the fifth copy of the letter, rendered necessary by that violent full
stop, when Matthew came to him and announced that Miss Thoroughbung was
in the drawing-room. "In the house!" ejaculated Mr. Prosper.

"She would come into the hall; and then where was I to put her?"

"Matthew Pike, you will not do for my service." This had been said about
once every three months throughout the long course of years in which
Matthew had lived with his master.

"Very well, sir. I am to take it for a month's warning, of course."
Matthew understood well enough that this was merely an expression of his
master's displeasure, and, being anxious for his master's welfare, knew
that it was decorous that some decision should be come to at once as to
Miss Thoroughbung, and that time should not be lost in his own little
personal quarrel. "She is waiting, you know, sir, and she looks uncommon
irascible. There is the other lady left outside in the carriage."

"Miss Tickle! Don't let her in, whatever you do. She is the worst. Oh
dear! oh dear! Where are my coat and waistcoat, and my braces? And I
haven't brushed my hair. And these slippers won't do. What business has
she to come at this time of day, without saying a word to anybody?" Then
Matthew went to work, and got his master into decent apparel, with as
little delay as possible. "After all," said Mr. Prosper, "I don't think
I'll see her. Why should I see her?"

"She knows you are at home, sir."

"Why does she know I'm at home? That's your fault. She oughtn't to know
anything about it. Oh dear! oh dear! oh dear!" These last ejaculations
arose from his having just then remembered the nature of his postscript
to Harry Annesley, and the engagement of Joe Thoroughbung to his niece.
He made up his mind at the moment,--or thought that he had made up his
mind,--that Harry Annesley should not have a shilling as long as he
lived. "I am quite out of breath. I cannot see her yet. Go and offer the
lady cake and wine, and tell her that you had found me very much
indisposed. I think you will have to tell her that I am not well enough
to receive her to-day."

"Get it over, sir, and have done with it."

"It's all very well to say have done with it. I shall never have done
with it. Because you have let her in to-day she'll think that she can
come always. Good Lord! There she is on the stairs! Pick up my
slippers." Then the door was opened, and Miss Thoroughbung herself
entered the room. It was an up-stairs chamber, known as Mr. Prosper's
own: and from it was the door into his bedroom. How Miss Thoroughbung
had learned her way to it he never could guess. But she had come up the
stairs as though she had been acquainted with all the intricacies of the
house from her childhood.

"Mr. Prosper," she said, "I hope I see you quite well this morning, and
that I have not disturbed you at your toilet." That she had done so was
evident, from the fact that Matthew, with the dressing-gown and
slippers, was seen disappearing into the bedroom.

"I am not very well, thank you," said Mr. Prosper, rising from his
chair, and offering her his hand with the coldest possible salutation.

"I am sorry for that,--very. I hope it is not your indisposition which
has prevented you from coming to see me. I have been expecting you every
day since Soames wrote his last letter. But it's no use pretending any
longer. Oh, Peter, Peter!" This use of his Christian name struck him
absolutely dumb, so that he was unable to utter a syllable. He should,
first of all, have told her that any excuse she had before for calling
him by his Christian name was now at an end. But there was no opening
for speech such as that. "Well," she continued, "have you got nothing to
say to me? You can write flippant letters to other people, and turn me
into ridicule glibly enough."

"I have never done so."

"Did you not write to Joe Thoroughbung, and tell him you had given up
all thoughts of having me?"

"Joe!" he exclaimed. His very surprise did not permit him to go farther,
at the moment, than this utterance of the young man's Christian name.

"Yes, Joe,--Joe Thoroughbung, my nephew, and yours that is to be. Did you
not write and tell him that everything was over?"

"I never wrote to young Mr. Thoroughbung in my life. I should not have
dreamed of such a correspondence on such a subject."

"Well, he says you did. Or, if you didn't write to Joe himself, you
wrote to somebody."

"I may have written to somebody, certainly."

"And told them that you didn't mean to have anything farther to say to
me?" That traitor Harry had now committed a sin worse that knocking a
man down in the middle of the night and leaving him bleeding,
speechless, and motionless; worse than telling a lie about it;--worse
even than declining to listen to sermons read by his uncle. Harry had
committed such a sin that no shilling of allowance should evermore be
paid to him. Even at this moment there went through Mr. Prosper's brain
an idea that there might be some unmarried female in England besides
Miss Puffle and Miss Thoroughbung. "Peter Prosper, why don't you answer
like a man, and tell me the honest truth?" He had never before been
called Peter Prosper in his whole life.

"Perhaps you had better let me make a communication by letter," he said.
At that very moment the all but completed epistle was lying on the table
before him, where even her eyes might reach it. In the flurry of the
moment he covered it up.

"Perhaps that is the letter which has taken you so long to write?" she
said.

"It is the letter."

"Then hand it me over, and save yourself the penny stamp." In his
confusion he gave her the letter, and threw himself down on the sofa
while she read it. "You have been very careful in choosing your
language, Mr. Prosper: 'It will be expedient that I should make known to
you the entire truth.' Certainly, Mr. Prosper, certainly. The entire
truth is the best thing,--next to entire beer, my brother would say."
"The horrid vulgar woman!" Mr. Prosper ejaculated to himself. "'There
seems to have been a complete misunderstanding with regard to that
amiable lady, Miss Tickle.' No misunderstanding at all. You said you
liked her, and I supposed you did. And when I had been living for twenty
years with a female companion, who hasn't sixpence in the world to buy a
rag with but what she gets from me, was it to be expected that I should
turn her out for any man?"

"An annuity might have been arranged, Miss Thoroughbung."

"Bother an annuity! That's all you think about feelings! Was she to go
and live alone and desolate because you wanted some one to nurse you?
And then those wretched ponies. I tell you, Peter Prosper, that let me
marry whom I will, I mean to drive a pair of ponies, and am able to do
so out of my own money. Ponies, indeed! It's an excuse. Your heart has
failed you. You've come to know a woman of spirit, and now you are
afraid that she'll be too much for you. I shall keep this letter, though
it has not been sent."

"You can do as you please about that, Miss Thoroughbung."

"Oh yes; of course I shall keep it, and shall give it to Messrs. Soames
& Simpson. They are most gentlemanlike men, and will be shocked at such
conduct as this from the Squire of Buston. The letter will be published
in the newspapers, of course. It will be very painful to me, no doubt,
but I shall owe it to my sex to punish you. When all the county are
talking of your conduct to a lady, and saying that no man could have
done it, let alone no gentleman, then you will feel it. Miss Tickle,--and
a pair of ponies! You expected to get my money and nothing to give for
it. Oh, you mean man!"

She must have been aware that every word she spoke was a dagger. There
was a careful analysis of his peculiar character displayed in every word
of reproach which she uttered. Nothing could have wounded him more than
the comparison between himself and Soames & Simpson. They were
gentlemen! "The vulgarest men in all Buntingford!" he declared to
himself, and always ready for any sharp practice. Whereas he was no man,
Miss Thoroughbung said,--a mean creature, altogether unworthy to be
regarded as a gentleman. He knew himself to be Mr. Prosper of Buston
Hall, with centuries of Prospers for his ancestors; whereas Soames was
the son of a tax-gatherer, and Simpson had come down from London as a
clerk from a solicitor's office in the City. And yet it was true that
people would talk of him as did Miss Thoroughbung! His cruelty would be
in every lady's mouth. And then his stinginess about the ponies would be
the gossip of the county for twelve months. And, as he found out what
Miss Thoroughbung was, the disgrace of even having wished to marry her
loomed terribly large before him.

But there was a twinkle of jest in the lady's eyes all the while which
he did not perceive, and which, had he perceived it, he could not have
understood. Her anger was but simulated wrath. She, too, had thought
that it might be well, under circumstances, if she were to marry Mr.
Prosper, but had quite understood that those circumstances might not be
forthcoming. "I don't think it will do at all, my dear," she had said to
Miss Tickle. "Of course an old bachelor like that won't want to have
you."

"I beg you won't think of me for a moment," Miss Tickle had answered,
with solemnity.

"Bother! why can't you tell the truth? I'm not going to throw you over,
and of course you'd be just nowhere if I did. I shan't break my heart
for Mr. Prosper. I know I should be an old fool if I were to marry him;
and he is more of an old fool for wanting to marry me. But I did think
he wouldn't cut up so rough about the ponies." And then, when no answer
came to the last letter from Soames & Simpson, and the tidings reached
her, round from the brewery, that Mr. Prosper intended to be off, she
was not in the least surprised. But the information, she thought, had
come to her in an unworthy manner. So she determined to punish the
gentleman, and went out to Buston Hall and called him Peter Prosper. We
may doubt, however, whether she had ever realized how terribly her
scourges would wale him.

"And to think that you would let it come round to me in that way,
through the young people,--writing about it just as a joke!"

"I never wrote about it like a joke," said Mr. Prosper, almost crying.

"I remember now. It was to your nephew; and of course everybody at the
rectory saw it. Of course they were all laughing at you." There was one
thing now written in the book of fate, and sealed as certainly as the
crack of doom: no shilling of allowance should ever be paid to Harry
Annesley. He would go abroad. He said so to himself as he thought of
this, and said also that, if he could find a healthy young woman
anywhere, he would marry her, sacrificing every idea of his own
happiness to his desire of revenge upon his nephew. This, however, was
only the passionate feeling of the moment. Matrimony had become
altogether so distasteful to him, since he had become intimately
acquainted with Miss Thoroughbung, as to make any release in that manner
quite impossible to him. "Do you propose to make me any amends?" asked
Miss Thoroughbung.

"Money?" said he.

"Yes; money. Why shouldn't you pay me money? I should like to keep three
ponies, and to have Miss Tickle's sister to come and live with me."

"I do not know whether you are in earnest, Miss Thoroughbung."

"Quite in earnest, Peter Prosper. But perhaps I had better leave that
matter in the hands of Soames & Simpson,--very gentleman-like men,--and
they'll be sure to let you know how much you ought to pay. Ten thousand
pounds wouldn't be too much, considering the distress to my wounded
feelings." Here Miss Thoroughbung put her handkerchief up to her eyes.

There was nothing that he could say. Whether she were laughing at him,
as he thought to be most probable, or whether there was some grain of
truth in the demand which she made, he found it equally impossible to
make any reply. There was nothing that he could say; nor could he
absolutely turn her out of the room. But after ten minutes' farther
continuation of these amenities, during which it did at last come home
to his brain that she was merely laughing at him, he began to think that
he might possibly escape, and leave her there in possession of his
chamber.

"If you will excuse me, Miss Thoroughbung, I will retire," he said,
rising from the sofa.

"Regularly chaffed out of your own den!" she said, laughing.

"I do not like this interchange of wit on subjects that are so serious."

"Interchange! There is very little interchange, according to my idea.
You haven't said anything witty. What an idea of interchange the man
has!"

"At any rate I will escape from your rudeness."

"Now, Peter Prosper, before you go let me ask you one question. Which of
the two has been the rudest to the other? You have come and asked me to
marry you, and have evidently wished to back out of it from the moment
in which you found that I had ideas of my own about money. And now you
call me rude, because I have my little revenge. I have called you Peter
Prosper, and you can't stand it. You haven't spirit enough to call me
Matty Thoroughbung in reply. But good-bye, Mr. Prosper,--for I never will
call you Peter again. As to what I said to you about money, that, of
course, is all bosh. I'll pay Soames's bill, and will never trouble you.
There's your letter, which, however, would be of no use, because it is
not signed. A very stupid letter it is. If you want to write naturally
you should never copy a letter. Good-bye, Mr. Prosper--Peter that never
shall be." Then she got up and walked out of the room.

Mr. Prosper, when he was left alone, remained for a while nearly
paralyzed. That he should have ever entertained the idea of making that
woman his wife! Such was his first thought. Then he reflected that he
had, in truth, escaped from her more easily than he had hoped, and that
she had certainly displayed some good qualities in spite of her
vulgarity and impudence. She did not, at any rate, intend to trouble him
any farther. He would never again hear himself called Peter by that
terribly loud voice. But his anger became very fierce against the whole
family at the rectory. They had ventured to laugh at him, and he could
understand that, in their eyes, he had become very ridiculous.

He could see it all,--the manner in which they had made fun of him, and
had been jocose over his intended marriage. He certainly had not
intended to be funny in their eyes. But, while he had been exercising
the duty of a stern master over them, and had been aware of his own
extreme generosity in his efforts to forgive his nephew, that very
nephew had been laughing at him, in conjunction with the nephew of her
whom he had intended to make his wife! Not a shilling, again, should
ever be allowed to Harry Annesley. If it could be so arranged, by any
change of circumstances, he might even yet become the father of a family
of his own.



CHAPTER LI.

MR. PROSPER IS TAKEN ILL.


When Harry Annesley returned from Cheltenham, which he did about the
beginning of February, he was a very happy man. It may be said, indeed,
that within his own heart he was more exalted than is fitting for a man
mortal,--for a human creature who may be cut off from his joys to-morrow,
or may have the very source of his joy turned into sorrow. He walked
like a god, not showing it by his outward gesture, not declaring that it
was so by any assumed grace or arrogant carriage of himself; but knowing
within himself that that had happened down at Cheltenham which had all
but divested him of humanity, and made a star of him. To no one else had
it been given to have such feelings, such an assurance of heavenly
bliss, together with the certainty that, under any circumstances, it
must be altogether his own, for ever and ever. It was thus he thought of
himself and what had happened to him. He had succeeded in getting
himself kissed by a young woman.

Harry Annesley was in truth very proud of Florence, and altogether
believed in her. He thought the better of himself because Florence loved
him,--not with the vulgar self-applause of a man who fancies himself to
be a lady-killer and therefore a grand sort of fellow, but in conceiving
himself to be something better than he had hitherto believed, simply
because he had won the heart of this one special girl. During that
half-hour at Cheltenham she had so talked to him, and managed in her own
pretty way so to express herself, as to make him understand that of all
that there was of her he was the only lord and master. "May God do so to
me, and more also, if to the end I do not treat her not only with all
affection, but also with all delicacy of observance." It was thus that
he spoke to himself of her, as he walked away from the door of Mrs.
Mountjoy's house in Cheltenham.

From thence he went back to Buston, and entered his father's house with
all that halo of happiness shining round his heart. He did not say much
about it, but his mother and his sisters felt that he was altered; and
he understood their feelings when his mother said to him, after a day or
two, that "it was a great shame" that they none of them knew his
Florence.

"But you will have to know her--well."

"That's of course; but it's a thousand pities that we should not be able
to talk of her to you as one whom we know already." Then he felt that
they had, among them all, acknowledged her to be such as she was.

There came to the rectory some tidings of the meeting which had taken
place at the Hall between his uncle and Miss Thoroughbung. It was Joe
who brought to them the first account; and then farther particulars
leaked out among the servants of the two houses. Matthew was very
discreet; but even Matthew must have spoken a word or two. In the first
place there came the news that Mr. Prosper's anger against his nephew
was hotter than ever. "Mr. Harry must have put his foot in it somehow."
That had been Matthew's assurance, made with much sorrow to the
house-keeper, or head-servant, at the rectory. And then Joe had declared
that all the misfortunes which had attended Mr. Prosper's courtship had
been attributed to Harry's evil influences. At first this could not but
be a matter of joke. Joe's stories as he told them were full of
ridicule, and had no doubt come to him from Miss Thoroughbung, either
directly or through some of the ladies at Buntingford. "It does seem
that your aunt has been too many for him." This had been said by Molly,
and had been uttered in the presence both of Joe Thoroughbung and of
Harry.

"Why, yes," said Joe. "She has had him under the thong altogether, and
has not found it difficult to flog him when she had got him by the hind
leg." This idea had occurred to Joe from his remembrance of a peccant
hound in the grasp of a tyrant whip. "It seems that he offered her
money."

"I should hardly think that," said Harry, standing up for his uncle.

"She says so; and says that she declared that ten thousand pounds would
be the very lowest sum. Of course she was laughing at him."

"Uncle Prosper doesn't like to be laughed at," said Molly.

"And she did not spare him," said Joe. And then she had by heart the
whole story, how she had called him Peter, and how angry he had been at
the appellation.

"Nobody calls him Peter except my mother," said Harry.

"I should not dream of calling him Uncle Peter," said Molly. "Do you
mean to say that Miss Thoroughbung called him Peter? Where could she
have got the courage?" To this Joe replied that he believed his aunt had
courage for anything under the sun. "I don't think that she ought to
have called him Peter," continued Molly. "Of course after that there
couldn't be a marriage."

"I don't quite see why not," said Joe. "I call you Molly, and I expect
you to marry me."

"And I call you Joe, and I expect you to marry me; but we ain't quite
the same."

"The Squire of Buston," said Joe, "considers himself Squire of Buston. I
suppose that the old Queen of Heaven didn't call Jupiter Jove till
they'd been married at any rate some centuries."

"Well done, Joe," said Harry.

"He'll become fellow of a college yet," said Molly.

"If you'll let me alone I will," said Joe. "But only conceive the kind
of scene there must have been at the house up there when Aunt Matty had
forced her way in among your uncle's slippers and dressing-gowns. I'd
have given a five-pound note to have seen and heard it."

"I'd have given two if it had never occurred. He had written me a letter
which I had taken as a pardon in full for all my offences. He had
assured me that he had no intention of marrying, and had offered to give
me back my old allowance. Now I am told that he has quarrelled with me
again altogether, because of some light word as to me and my concerns
spoken by this vivacious old aunt of yours. I wish your vivacious old
aunt had remained at Buntingford."

"And we had wished that your vivacious old uncle had remained at Buston
when he came love-making to Marmaduke Lodge."

"He was an old fool! and, among ourselves, always has been," said Molly,
who on the occasion thought it incumbent upon her to take the
Thoroughbung rather than the Prosper side of the quarrel.

But, in truth, this renewed quarrel between the Hall and the rectory was
likely to prove extremely deleterious to Harry Annesley's interests. For
his welfare depended not solely on the fact that he was at present heir
presumptive to his uncle, nor yet on the small allowance of two hundred
and fifty pounds made to him by his uncle, and capable of being
withdrawn at any moment, but also on the fact, supposed to be known to
all the world,--which was known to all the world before the affair in the
streets with Mountjoy Scarborough,--that Harry was his uncle's heir. His
position had been that of eldest son, and indeed that of only child to a
man of acres and squire of a parish. He had been made to hope that this
might be restored to him, and at this moment absolutely had in his
pocket the check for sixty-two pounds ten which had been sent to him by
his uncle's agent in payment of the quarter's income which had been
stopped. But he also had a farther letter, written on the next day,
telling him that he was not to expect any repetition of the payment.
Under these circumstances, what should he do?

Two or three things occurred to him. But he resolved at last to keep the
check without cashing it for some weeks, and then to write to his uncle
when the fury of his wrath might be supposed to have passed by, offering
to restore it. His uncle was undoubtedly a very silly man; but he was
not one who could acknowledge to himself that he had done an unjust act
without suffering for it. At the present moment, while his wrath was
hot, there would be no sense of contrition. His ears would still tingle
with the sound of the laughter of which he had supposed himself to have
been the subject at the rectory. But that sound in a few weeks might die
away, and some feeling of the propriety of justice would come back upon
the poor man's mind. Such was the state of things upon which Harry
resolved to wait for a few weeks.

But in the mean time tidings came across from the Hall that Mr. Prosper
was ill. He had remained in the house for two or three days after Miss
Thoroughbung's visit. This had given rise to no special remarks, because
it was well known that Mr. Prosper was a man whose feelings were often
too many for him. When he was annoyed it would be long before he would
get the better of the annoyance; and during such periods he would remain
silent and alone. There could be no question that Miss Thoroughbung had
annoyed him most excessively. And Matthew had been aware that it would
be better that he should abstain from all questions. He would take the
daily newspaper in to his master, and ask for orders as to the daily
dinner, and that would be all. Mr. Prosper, when in a fairly good humor,
would see the cook every morning, and would discuss with her the
propriety of either roasting or boiling the fowl, and the expediency
either of the pudding or the pie. His idiosyncrasies were well known,
and the cook might always have her own way by recommending the contrary
to that which she wanted,--because it was a point of honor with Mr.
Prosper not to be led by his servants. But during these days he simply
said, "Let me have dinner and do not trouble me." This went on for a day
or two without exciting much comment at the rectory. But when it went on
beyond a day or two it was surmised that Mr. Prosper was ill.

At the end of a week he had not been seen outside the house, and then
alarm began to be felt. The rumor had got abroad that he intended to go
to Italy, and it was expected that he would start, but no sign came of
his intended movements; not a word more had been said to Matthew on the
subject. He had been ordered to admit no visitor into the house at all,
unless it were some one from the firm of Grey & Barry. From the moment
in which he had got rid of Miss Thoroughbung he had been subject to some
dread lest she should return. Or if not she herself, she might, he
thought, send Soames & Simpson, or some denizen from the brewery. And he
was conscious that not only all Buston, but all Buntingford was aware of
what he had attempted to do. Every one whom he chanced to meet would, as
he thought, be talking of him, and therefore he feared to be seen by the
eye of man, woman, or child. There was a self-consciousness about him
which altogether overpowered him. That cook with whom he used to have
the arguments about the boiled chicken was now an enemy, a domestic
enemy, because he was sure that she talked about his projected marriage
in the kitchen. He would not see his coachman or his groom, because some
tidings would have reached them about that pair of ponies. Consequently
he shut himself up altogether, and the disease became worse with him
because of his seclusion.

And now from day to day, or, it may be more properly said, from hour to
hour, news came across to the rectory of the poor squire's health.
Matthew, to whom alone was given free intercourse with his master,
became very gloomy. Mr. Prosper was no doubt gloomy, and the feeling was
contagious. "I think he's going off his head; that's what I do think,"
he said, in confidential intercourse with the cook.

That conversation resulted in Matthew's walking across to the rectory,
and asking advice from the rector; and in the rector paying a visit to
the Hall. He had again consulted with his wife, and she had recommended
him to endeavor to see her brother. "Of course, what we hear about his
anger only comes from Joe, or through the servants. If he is angry, what
will it matter?"

"Not in the least to me," said the rector; "only I would not willingly
trouble him."

"I would go," said the rector's wife, "only I know he would require me
to agree with him about Harry. That, of course, I cannot do."

Then the rector walked across to the Hall, and sent up word by Matthew
that he was there, and would be glad to see Mr. Prosper, if Mr. Prosper
were disengaged. But Matthew, after an interval of a quarter of an hour,
came back with merely a note: "I am not very well, and an interview at
the present moment would only be depressing. But I would be glad to see
my sister, if she would come across to-morrow at twelve o'clock. I think
it would be well that I should see some one, and she is now the
nearest.--P.P." Then there arose a great discussion at the rectory as to
what this note indicated. "She is now the nearest!" He might have so
written had the doctor who attended him told him that death was
imminent. Of course she was the nearest. What did the "now" mean? Was it
not intended to signify that Harry had been his heir, and therefore the
nearest; but that now he had been repudiated? But it was of course
resolved that Mrs. Annesley should go to the Hall at the hour indicated
on the morrow.

"Oh yes; I'm up here; where else should I be,--unless you expected to
find me in my bed?" It was thus that he answered his sister's first
inquiry as to his condition.

"In bed? Oh no! Why should any one expect to find you in bed, Peter?"

"Never call me by that name again!" he said, rising up from his chair,
and standing erect, with one arm stretched out. She called him Peter,
simply because it had been her custom so to do during the period of
nearly fifty years in which they had lived in the same parish as brother
and sister. She could, therefore, only stare at him and his tragic
humor, as he stood there before her. "Though of course it is madness on
my part to object to it! My godfather and godmother christened me Peter,
and our father was Peter before me, and his father too was Peter
Prosper. But that woman has made the name sound abominable in my ears."

"Miss Thoroughbung, you mean?"

"She came here, and so be-Petered me in my own house,--nay, up in this
very room,--that I hardly knew whether I was on my head or my heels."

"I would not mind what she said. They all know that she is a little
flighty."

"Nobody told me so. Why couldn't you let me know that she was flighty
beforehand? I thought that she was a person whom it would have done to
marry."

"If you will only think of it, Peter--" Here he shuddered visibly. "I
beg your pardon, I will not call you so again. But it is unreasonable to
blame us for not telling you about Miss Thoroughbung."

"Of course it is. I am unreasonable, I know it."

"Let us hope that it is all over now."

"Cart-ropes wouldn't drag me up to the hymeneal altar,--at least not with
that woman."

"You have sent for me, Peter--I beg pardon. I was so glad when you sent.
I would have come before, only I was afraid that you would be annoyed.
Is there anything that we can do for you?"

"Nothing at all that you can do, I fear."

"Somebody told us that you were thinking of going abroad." Here he shook
his head. "I think it was Harry." Here he shook his head and frowned.
"Had you not some idea of going abroad?"

"That is all gone," he said, solemnly.

"It would have enabled you to get over this disappointment without
feeling it so acutely."

"I do feel it; but not exactly the disappointment. There I think I have
been saved from a misfortune which would certainly have driven me mad.
That woman's voice daily in my ear could have had no other effect. I
have at any rate been saved from that."

"What is it, then, that troubles you?"

"Everybody knows that I intended it. All the country has heard of it.
But yet was not my purpose a good one? Why should not a gentleman marry
if he wants to leave his estate to his own son?"

"Of course he must marry before he can do that."

"Where was I to get a young lady--just outside of my own class? There
was Miss Puffle. I did think of her. But just at the moment she went off
with young Tazlehurst. That was another misfortune. Why should Miss
Puffle have descended so low just before I had thought of her? And I
couldn't marry quite a young girl. How could I expect such a one to live
here with me at Buston, where it is rather dull? When I looked about
there was nobody except that horrid Miss Thoroughbung. You just look
about and tell me if there was any one else. Of course my circle is
circumscribed. I have been very careful whom I have admitted to my
intimacy, and the result is that I know almost nobody. I may say that I
was driven to ask Miss Thoroughbung."

"But why marry at all unless you're fond of somebody to be attached to?"

"Ah!"

"Why marry at all? I say. I ask the question knowing very well why you
intended to do it."

"Then why do you ask?" he said, angrily.

"Because it is so difficult to talk of Harry to you. Of course I cannot
help feeling that you have injured him."

"It is he that has injured me. It is he that has brought me to this
condition. Don't you know that you've all been laughing at me down at
the rectory since this affair of that terrible woman?" While he paused
for an answer to his question Mrs. Annesley sat silent. "You know it is
true. He and that man whom Molly means to marry, and the other girls,
and their father and you, have all been laughing at me."

"I have never laughed."

"But the others?" And again he waited for a reply. But the no reply
which came did as well as any other answer. There was the fact that he
had been ridiculed by the very young man whom it was intended that he
should support by his liberality. It was impossible to tell him that a
man who had made himself so absurd must expect to be laughed at by his
juniors. There was running through his mind an idea that very much was
due to him from Harry; but there was also an idea that something too was
due from him. There was present, even to him, a noble feeling that he
should bear all the ignominy with which he was treated, and still be
generous. But he had sworn to himself, and had sworn to Matthew, that he
would never forgive his nephew. "Of course you all wish me to be out of
the way?"

"Why do you say that?"

"Because it is true. How happy you would all be if I were dead, and
Harry were living here in my place."

"Do you think so?"

"Yes, I do. Of course you would all go into mourning, and there would be
some grimace of sorrow among you for a few weeks, but the sorrow would
soon be turned into joy. I shall not last long, and then his time will
come. There! you may tell him that his allowance shall be continued, in
spite of all his laughing. It was for that purpose that I sent for you.
And, now you know it, you can go and leave me." Then Mrs. Annesley did
go, and rejoiced them all up at the rectory by these latest tidings from
the Hall. But now the feeling was, how could they show their gratitude
and kindness to poor Uncle Prosper?



CHAPTER LII.

MR. BARRY AGAIN.


"Mr. Barry has given me to understand that he means to come down
to-morrow." This was said by Mr. Grey to his daughter.

"What does he want to come here for?"

"I suppose you know why he wants to come here?" Then the father was
silent, and for some time Dolly remained silent also. "He is coming to
ask you to consent to be his wife."

"Why do you let him come, papa?"

"I cannot hinder him. That, in the first place. And then I don't want to
prevent his coming."

"Oh, papa!"

"I do not want to prevent his coming. And I do not wish you now at this
instant to pledge yourself to anything."

"I cannot but pledge myself."

"You can at any rate remain silent while I speak to you." There was a
solemnity in his manner which almost awed her, so that she could only
come nearer to him and sit close to him, holding his hand in hers. "I
wish you to hear what I have got to say to you, and to make no answer
till you shall make it to-morrow to him, after having fully considered
the whole matter. In the first place, he is an honest and good man, and
certainly will not ill-treat you."

"Is that so much?"

"It is a great deal, as men go. It would be a great deal to me to be
sure that I had left you in the hands of one who is, of his nature,
tender and affectionate."

"That is something; but not enough."

"And then he is a careful man, who will certainly screen you from all
want; and he is prudent, walking about the world with his eyes
open,--much wider than your father has ever done." Here she only pressed
his hand. "There is nothing to be said against him, except that
something which you spotted at once when you said that he was not a
gentleman. According to your ideas, and to mine, he is not quite a
gentleman; but we are both fastidious."

"We must pay the penalty of our tastes in that respect."

"You are paying the penalty now by your present doubts. But it is not
yet too late for you to get the better of it. Though I have acknowledged
that he is not quite a gentleman, he is by no means the reverse. You are
quite a lady."

"I hope so."

"But you are not particularly good-looking."

"Papa, you are not complimentary."

"My dear, I do not intend to be so. To me your face, such as it is, is
the sweetest thing on earth to look upon."

"Oh, papa;--dear papa!" and she threw her arms round his neck and kissed
him.

"But having lived so long with me you have acquired my habits and
thoughts, and have learned to disregard utterly your outward
appearance."

"I would be decent and clean and womanly."

"That is not enough to attract the eyes of men in general. But he has
seen deeper than most men do."

"Into the value of the business, you mean?" said she.

"No, Dolly; I will not have that! that is ill-natured, and, as I
believe, altogether untrue. I think of Mr. Barry that he would not marry
any girl for the sake of the business, unless he loved her."

"That is nonsense, papa. How can Mr. Barry love me? Did he and I ever
have five minutes of free conversation together?"

"Unless he meant to love, would be nearer the mark; and knew that he
could do so. You will be quite safe in his hands."

"Safe, papa!"

"So much for yourself; and now I must say a few words as to myself. You
are not bound to marry him, or any one else, to do me a good turn; but I
think you are bound to remember what my feelings would be if on my
death-bed I were leaving you quite alone in the world. As far as money
is concerned, you would have enough for all your wants; but that is all
that you would have. You have become so thoroughly my friend, that you
have hardly another real friend in the world."

"That is my disposition."

"Yes; but I must guard against the ill-effects of that disposition. I
know that if some man came the way, whom you could in truth love, you
would make the sweetest wife that ever a man possessed."

"Oh, papa, how you talk! No such man will come the way, and there's an
end of it."

"Mr. Barry has come the way,--and, as things go, is deserving of your
regard. My advice to you is to accept him. Now you will have twenty-four
hours to think of that advice, and to think of your own future
condition. How will life go with you if you should be left living in
this house all alone?"

"Why do you speak as though we were to be parted to-morrow?"

"To-morrow or next day," he said very solemnly. "The day will surely
come before long. Mr. Barry may not be all that your fancy has
imagined."

"Decidedly not."

"But he has those good qualities which your reason should appreciate.
Think it over, my darling. And now we will say nothing more about Mr.
Barry till he shall have been here and pleaded his own cause."

Then there was not another word said on the subject between them, and on
the next morning Mr. Grey went away to his chambers as usual.

Though she had strenuously opposed her father through the whole of the
conversation above given, still, as it had gone on, she had resolved to
do as he would her; not indeed, that is, to marry this suitor, but to
turn him over in her mind yet once again, and find out whether it would
be possible that she should do so. She had dismissed him on that former
occasion, and had not since given a thought to him, except as to a
nuisance of which she had so far ridded herself. Now the nuisance had
come again, and she was to endeavor to ascertain how far she could
accustom herself to its perpetual presence without incurring perpetual
misery. But it has to be acknowledged that she did not begin the inquiry
in a fair frame of mind. She declared to herself that she would think
about it all the night and all the morning without a prejudice, so that
she might be able to accept him if she found it possible.

But at the same time there was present to her a high, black stone wall,
at one side of which stood she herself while Mr. Barry was on the other.
That there should be any clambering over that wall by either of them she
felt to be quite impossible, though at the same time she acknowledged
that a miracle might occur by which the wall would be removed,

So she began her thinking, and used all her father's arguments. Mr.
Barry was honest and good, and would not ill-treat her. She knew nothing
about him, but would take all that for granted as though it were
gospel,--because her father had said so. And then it was to her a fact
that she was by no means good-looking,--the meaning of which was that no
other man would probably want her. Then she remembered her father's
words,--"To me your face is the sweetest thing on earth to look upon."
This she did believe. Her plainness did not come against her there. Why
should she rob her father of the one thing which to him was sweet in the
world? And to her, her father was the one noble human being whom she had
ever known. Why should she rob herself of his daily presence? Then she
told herself,--as she had told him,--that she had never had five minutes
free conversation with Mr. Barry in her life. That certainty was no
reason why free conversation should not be commenced. But then she did
not believe that free conversation was within the capacity of Mr. Barry.
It would never come, though she might be married to him for twenty
years. He too might, perhaps, talk about his business; but there would
be none of those considerations as to radical good or evil which made
the nucleus of all such conversations with her father. There would be a
flatness about it all which would make any such interchange of words
impossible. It would be as though she had been married to a log of wood,
or rather a beast of the field, as regarded all sentiment. How much
money would be coming to him? Now her father had never told her how much
money was coming to him. There had been no allusion to that branch of
the subject.

And then there came other thoughts as to that interior life which it
would be her destiny to lead with Mr. Barry. Then came a black cloud
upon her face as she sat thinking of it. "Never," at last she said,
"never, never! He is very foolish not to know that it is impossible."
The "he" of whom she then spoke was her father, and not Mr. Barry. "If I
have to be left alone, I shall not be the first. Others have been left
alone before me. I shall at any rate be left alone." Then the wall
became higher and more black than ever, and there was no coming of that
miracle by which it was to be removed. It was clearer to her than ever
that neither of them could climb it. "And, after all," she said to
herself, "to know that your husband is not a gentleman! Ought that not
to be enough? Of course a woman has to pay for her fastidiousness. Like
other luxuries, it is costly; but then, like other luxuries, it cannot
be laid aside." So, before that morning was gone, she made up her mind
steadily that Mr. Barry should never be her lord and master.

How could she best make him understand that it was so, so that she might
be quickly rid of him? When the first hour of thinking was done after
breakfast, it was that which filled her mind. She was sure that he would
not take an answer easily and go. He would have been prepared by her
father to persevere,--not by his absolute words, but by his mode of
speaking. Her father would have given him to understand that she was
still in doubt, and therefore might possibly be talked over. She must
teach him at once, as well as she could, that such was not her
character, and that she had come to a resolution which left him no
chance. And she was guilty of one weakness which was almost unworthy of
her. When the time came she changed her dress, and put on an old shabby
frock, in which she was wont to call upon the Carrolls. Her best dresses
were all kept for her father,--and, perhaps, accounted for that opinion
that to his eyes her face was the sweetest thing on earth to look upon.
As she sat there waiting for Mr. Barry, she certainly did look ten years
older than her age.

In truth both Mr. Grey and Dolly had been somewhat mistaken in their
reading of Mr. Barry's character. There was more of intellect and merit
in him than he had obtained credit for from either of them. He did care
very much for the income of the business, and perhaps his first idea in
looking for Dolly's hand had been the probability that he would thus
obtain the whole of that income for himself. But, while wanting money,
he wanted also some of the good things which ought to accompany it. A
superior intellect,--an intellect slightly superior to his own, of which
he did not think meanly, a power of conversation which he might imitate,
and that fineness of thought which, he flattered himself, he might be
able to achieve while living with the daughter of a gentleman,--these
were the treasures which Mr. Barry hoped to gain by his marriage with
Dorothy Grey. And there had been something in her personal appearance
which, to his eyes, had not been distasteful. He did not think her face
the sweetest thing in the world to look at, as her father had done, but
he saw in it the index of that intellect which he had desired to obtain
for himself. As for her dress, that, of course, should all be altered.
He imagined that he could easily become so far master of his wife as to
make her wear fine clothes without difficulty. But then he did not know
Dolly Grey.

He had studied deeply his manner of attacking her. He would be very
humble at first, but after a while his humility should be discontinued,
whether she accepted or rejected him. He knew well that it did not
become a husband to be humble; and as regarded a lover, he thought that
humility was merely the outside gloss of love-making. He had been
humble enough on the former occasion, and would begin now in the same
strain. But after a while he would stir himself, and assume the manner
of a man. "Miss Grey," he said, as soon as they were alone, "you see
that I have been as good as my word, and have come again." He had
already observed her old frock and her mode of dressing up her hair, and
had guessed the truth.

"I knew that you were to come, Mr. Barry."

"Your father has told you so."

"Yes."

"And he has spoken a good word in my favor?"

"Yes, he has."

"Which I trust will be effective."

"Not at all. He knows that it is the only subject on which I cannot take
his advice. I would burn my hand off for my father, but I cannot afford
to give it to any one at his instance. It must be exclusively my
own,--unless some one should come very different from those who are
likely to ask for it."

There was something, Mr. Barry thought, of offence in this, but he could
not altogether throw off his humility as yet. "I quite admit the value
of the treasure," he said.

"There need not be any nonsense between us, Mr. Barry. It has no special
value to any one,--except to myself; but to myself I mean to keep it. At
my father's instance I had thought over the proposition you have made me
much more seriously than I had thought it possible that I should do."

"That is not flattering," he said.

"There is no need for flattery, either on the one side or on the other.
You had better take that as established. You have done me the honor of
wishing, for certain reasons, that I should be your wife."

"The common reason:--that I love you."

"But I am not able to return the feeling, and do not therefore wish that
you should be my husband. That sounds to be uncivil."

"Rather."

"But I say it in order to make you understand the exact truth. A woman
cannot love a man because she feels for him even the most profound
respect. She will often do so when there is neither respect nor esteem.
My father has so spoken of you to me that I do esteem you; but that has
no effect in touching my heart, therefore I cannot become your wife."

Now, as Mr. Barry thought, had come the time in which he must assert
himself. "Miss Grey," he said, "you have probably a long life before
you."

"Long or short, it can make no difference."

"If I understood you aright, you are one who lives very much to
yourself."

"To myself and my father."

"He is growing in years."

"So am I, for the matter of that. We are all growing in years."

"Have you looked out for yourself, and thought what manner of home yours
will be when he shall have been dead and buried?" He paused, but she
remained silent, and assumed a special cast of countenance, as though
she might say a word, if he pressed her, which it would be disagreeable
for him to hear. "When he has gone will you not be very solitary without
a husband?"

"No doubt I shall."

"Had you not better accept one when one comes your way who is not, as he
tells you, quite unworthy of you?"

"In spite of such worth solitude would be preferable."

"You certainly have a knack, Miss Grey, of making the most unpalatable
assertions."

"I will make another more unpalatable. Solitude I could bear,--and
death,--but not such a marriage. You force me to tell you the whole truth
because half a truth will not suffice."

"I have endeavored to be at any rate civil to you," he said.

"And I have endeavored to save you what trouble I could by being
straightforward." Still he paused, sitting in his chair uneasily, but
looking as though he had no intention of going. "If you will only take
me at my word and have done with it!" Still he did not move. "I suppose
there are young ladies who like this kind of thing, but I have become
old enough to hate it. I have had very little experience of it, but it
is odious to me. I can conceive nothing more disagreeable than to have
to sit still and hear a gentleman declare that he wants to make me his
wife, when I am quite sure that I do not intend to make him my husband."

"Then, Miss Grey," he said, rising from his chair suddenly, "I shall bid
you adieu."

"Good-bye, Mr. Barry."

"Good-bye, Miss Grey. Farewell!" And so he went.

"Oh, papa, we have had such a scene!" she said, the moment she felt
herself alone with her father.

"You have not accepted him?"

"Accepted him! Oh dear no! I am sure at this moment he is only thinking
how he would cut my throat if he could get hold of me."

"You must have offended him then very greatly."

"Oh, mortally! I said everything I possibly could to offend him. But
then he would have been here still had I not done so. There was no other
way to get rid of him,--or indeed to make him believe that I was in
earnest."

"I am sorry that you should have been so ungracious."

"Of course I am ungracious. But how can you stand bandying compliments
with a man when it is your object to make him know the very truth that
is in you? It was your fault, papa. You ought to have understood how
very impossible it is that I should marry Mr. Barry."



CHAPTER LIII.

THE BEGINNING OF THE LAST PLOT.


When Mr. Scarborough had written the check and sent it to Mr. Grey, he
did not utter another word on the subject of gambling. "Let us make
another beginning," he said, as he told his son to make out another
check for sixty pounds as his first instalment of the allowance.

"I do not like to take it," said the son.

"I don't think you need be scrupulous now with me." That was early in
the morning, at their first interview, about ten o'clock. Later on in
the day Mr. Scarborough saw his son again, and on this occasion kept him
in the room some time. "I don't suppose I shall last much longer now,"
he said.

"Your voice is as strong as I ever heard it."

"But unfortunately my body does not keep pace with my voice. From what
Merton says, I don't suppose there is above a month left."

"I don't see why Merton is to know."

"Merton is a good fellow; and if you can do anything for him, do it for
my sake."

"I will." Then he added, after a pause, "If things go as we expect,
Augustus can do more for him than I. Why don't you leave him a sum of
money?"

Then Miss Scarborough came into the room, and hovered about her brother,
and fed him, and entreated him to be silent; but when she had gone he
went back to the subject. "I will tell you why, Mountjoy. I have not
wished to load my will with other considerations,--so that it might be
seen that solicitude for you has been in my last moments my only
thought. Of course I have done you a deep injury."

"I think you have."

"And because you tell me so I like you all the better. As for
Augustus--But I will not burden my spirit now, at the last, with
uttering curses against my own son."

"He is not worth it."

"No, he is not worth it. What a fool he has been not to have understood
me better! Now, you are not half as clever a fellow as he is."

"I dare say not."

"You never read a book, I suppose?"

"I don't pretend to read them, which he does."

"I don't know anything about that;--but he has been utterly unable to
read me. I have poured out my money with open hands for both of you."

"That is true, sir, certainly, as regards me."

"And have thought nothing of it. Till it was quite hopeless with you I
went on, and would have gone on. As things were then, I was bound to do
something to save the property."

"These poor devils have put themselves out of the running now," said
Mountjoy.

"Yes; Augustus with his suspicions has enabled us to do that. After all,
he was quite right with his suspicions."

"What do you mean by that, sir?"

"Well, it was natural enough that he should not trust me. I think, too,
that perhaps he saw a screw loose where old Grey did not; but he was
such an ass that he could not bring himself to keep on good terms with
me for the few months that were left. And then he brought that brute
Jones down here, without saying a word to me as to asking my leave. And
here he used to remain, hardly ever coming to see me, but waiting for my
death from day to day. He is a cold-blooded, selfish brute. He certainly
takes after neither his father nor his mother. But he will find yet,
perhaps, that I am even with him before all is over."

"I shall try it on with him, sir. I have told you so from the beginning;
and now if I have this money it will give me the means of doing so. You
ought to know for what purpose I shall use it."

"That is all settled," said the father. "The document, properly
completed, has gone back with the clerk. Were I to die this minute you
would find that everything inside the house is your own,--and everything
outside except the bare acres. There is a lot of plate with the banker
which I have not wanted of late years. And there are a lot of trinkets
too,--things which I used to fancy, though I have not cared so much about
them lately. And there are a few pictures which are worth money. But the
books are the most valuable; only you do not care for them."

"I shall not have a house to put them in."

"There is no saying. What an idiot, what a fool, what a blind,
unthinking ass Augustus has been!"

"Do you regret it, sir,--that he should not have them and the house too?"

"I regret that my son should have been such a fool! I did not expect
that he should love me. I did not even want him to be kind to me. Had he
remained away and been silent, that would have been sufficient. But he
came here to enjoy himself, as he looked about the park which he thought
to be his own, and insulted me because I would not die at once and leave
him in possession. And then he was fool enough to make way for you
again, and did not perceive that by getting rid of your creditors he
once again put you into a position to be his rival. I don't know whether
I hate him most for the hardness of his heart, or despise him for the
slowness of his intellect."

During the time that these words had been spoken Miss Scarborough had
once or twice come into the room, and besought her brother to take some
refreshment which she offered him, and then give himself up to rest. But
he had refused to be guided by her till he had come to a point in the
conversation at which he had found himself thoroughly exhausted. Now she
came for the third time, and that period had arrived, so that Mountjoy
was told to go about his business, and shoot birds or hunt foxes, in
accordance with his natural proclivities. It was then three o'clock on a
gloomy December afternoon, and was too late for the shooting of birds;
and as for the hunting of foxes, the hounds were not in the
neighborhood. So he resolved to go through the house, and look at all
those properties which were so soon to become his own. And he at once
strolled into the library. This was a long, gloomy room, which contained
perhaps ten thousand volumes, the greater number of which had, in the
days of Mountjoy's early youth, been brought together by his own father;
and they had been bound in the bindings of modern times, so that the
shelves were bright, although the room itself was gloomy. He took out
book after book, and told himself, with something of sadness in his
heart, that they were all "caviare" to him. Then he reminded himself
that he was not yet thirty years of age, and that there was surely time
enough left for him to make them his companions.

He took one at random, and found it to be a volume of Clarendon's
"History of the Rebellion." He pitched upon a sentence in which he
counted that there were sixteen lines, and when he began to read it, it
became to him utterly confused and unintelligible. So he put it back,
and went to another portion of the room and took down Wittier's
"Hallelujah;" and of this he could make neither head nor tail. He was
informed, by a heading in the book itself, that a piece of poetry was to
be sung "as the ten commandments." He could not do that, and put the
book back again, and declared to himself that farther search would be
useless. He looked round the room and tried to price the books, and told
himself that three or four days at the club might see an end of it all.
Then he wandered on into the state drawing-room,--an apartment which he
had not entered for years,--and found that all the furniture was
carefully covered. Of what use could it all be to him,--unless that it,
too, might be sent to the melting-pot and brought into some short-lived
use at the club?

But as he was about to leave the room he stood for a moment on the rug
before the fireplace and looked into the huge mirror which stood there.
If the walls might be his, as well as the garnishing of them, and if
Florence Mountjoy could come and reign there, then he fancied that they
all might be put to a better purpose than that of which he had thought.
In earlier days, two or three years ago, at a time which now seemed to
him to be very distant, he had regarded Florence as his own, and as such
had demanded her hand. In the pride of his birth, and position, and
fashion, he had had no thought of her feelings, and had been imperious.
He told himself that it had been so with much self-condemnation. At any
rate, he had learned, during those months of solitary wandering, the
power of condemning himself. And now he told him that if she would yet
come he might still learn to sing that song of the old-fashioned poet
"as to the ten commandments." At any rate, he would endeavor to sing it,
as she bade him.

He went on through all the bedrooms, remembering, but hardly more than
remembering, them as he entered them. "Oh, Florence,--my Florence!" he
said, as he passed on. He had done it all for himself,--brought down
upon his own head this infinite ruin,--and for what? He had scarcely ever
won, and Tretton was gone from him forever. But still there might yet be
a chance if he could abstain from gambling.

And then, when it was dusk within the house, he went out, and passed
through the stables and roamed about the gardens till the evening had
altogether set in, and black night had come upon him. Two years ago he
had known that he was the heir to it all, though even then that habit
was so strong upon him he had felt that his tenure of it would be but
slight. But he had then always to tell himself that when his marriage
had taken place a great change would be effected. His marriage had not
taken place, and the next fatal year had fallen upon him. As long as the
inheritance of the estate was certainly his, he could assuredly raise
money,--at a certain cost. It was well known that the property was rising
in value, and the money had always been forthcoming,--at a tremendous
sacrifice. He had excused to himself his recklessness on the ground of
his delayed marriage, but still always treating her, on the few
occasions on which they had met, with an imperiousness which had been
natural to him. Then the final crash had come, and the estate was as
good as gone. But the crash, which had been in truth final, had come
afterward, almost as soon as his father had learned what was to be the
fate of Tretton; and he had found himself to be a bastard with a
dishonored mother,--just a nobody in the eyes of the world. And he
learned at the same time that Harry Annesley was the lover whom Florence
Mountjoy really loved. What had followed has been told already,--perhaps
too often.

But at this moment, as he stood in the gloom of the night, below the
porch in the front of the house, swinging his stick at the top of the
big steps, an acknowledgment of contrition was very heavy upon him.

Though he was prepared to go to law the moment that Augustus put himself
forward as the eldest son, he did recognize how long-suffering his
father had been, and how much had been done for him in order, if
possible, to preserve him. And he knew, whatever might be the result of
his lawsuit, that his father's only purpose had been to save the
property for one of them. As it was, legacies which might be valued at
perhaps thirty thousand pounds would be his. He would expend it all on
the lawsuit, if he could find lawyers to undertake his suit. His anger,
too, against his brother was quite as hot as was that of his father.
When he had been obliterated and obliged to vanish, from the joint
effects of his violence in the streets and his inability to pay his
gambling debts at the club, he had, in an evil moment, submitted himself
to Augustus; and from that hour Augustus had become to him the most
cruel of tyrants. And this tyranny had come to an end with his absolute
banishment from his brother's house. Though he had been subdued to
obedience in the lowest moment of his fall, he was not the man who could
bear such tyranny well. "I can forgive my father," he said, "but
Augustus I will never forgive." Then he went into the house, and in a
short time was sitting at dinner with Merton, the young doctor and
secretary. Miss Scarborough seldom came to table at that hour, but
remained in a room up-stairs, close to her brother, so that she might be
within call should she be wanted. "Upon the whole, Merton," he said,
"what do you think of my father?" The doctor shrugged his shoulders.
"Will he live or will he die?"

"He will die, certainly."

"Do not joke with me. But I know you would not joke on such a subject.
And my question did not merely go to the state of his health. What do
you think of him as a man generally? Do you call him an honest man?"

"How am I to answer you?"

"Just the truth."

"If you will have an answer, I do not consider him an honest man. All
this story about your brother is true or is not true. In neither case
can one look upon him as honest."

"Just so."

"But I think that he has within him a capacity for love, and an
unselfishness, which almost atones for his dishonesty; and there is
about him a strange dislike to conventionality and to law which is so
interesting as to make up the balance. I have always regarded your
father as a most excellent man, but thoroughly dishonest. He would rob
any one,--but always to eke out his own gifts to other people. He has,
therefore, to my eyes been most romantic."

"And as to his health?"

"Ah, as to that I cannot answer so decidedly. He will do nothing because
I tell him."

"Do you mean that you could prolong his life?"

"Certainly I think that I could. He has exerted himself this morning,
whereas I have advised him not to exert himself. He could have given
himself the same counsel, and would certainly live longer by obeying it
than the reverse. As there is no difficulty in the matter, there need
be no conceit on my part in saying that so far my advice might be of
service to him."

"How long will he live?"

"Who can say? Sir William Brodrick, when that fearful operation was
performed in London, thought that a month would see the end of it. That
is eight months ago, and he has more vitality now than he had then. For
myself, I do not think that he can live another month."

Later on in the evening Mountjoy Scarborough began again. "The governor
thinks that you have behaved uncommonly well to him."

"I am paid for it all."

"But he has not left you anything by his will."

"I have certainly expected nothing, and there could be no reason why he
should."

"He has entertained an idea of late that he wishes to make what
reparation may be possible to me; and therefore, as he says, he does not
choose to burden his will with legacies. There is some provision made
for my aunt, who, however, has her own fortune. He has told me to look
after you."

"It will be quite unnecessary," said Mr. Merton.

"If you choose to cut up rough you can do so. I would propose that we
should fix upon some sum which shall be yours at his death,--just as
though he had left it to you. Indeed, he shall fix the sum himself."

Merton, of course, said that nothing of the kind would be necessary; but
with this understanding Mountjoy Scarborough went that night to bed.

Early on the following morning his father again sent for him.
"Mountjoy," he said, "I have thought much about it, and I have changed
my mind."

"About your will?"

"No, not about my will at all. That shall remain as it is. I do not
think I should have strength to make another will, nor do I wish to do
so."

"You mean about Merton?"

"I don't mean about Merton at all. Give him five hundred pounds, and he
ought to be satisfied. This is a matter of more importance than Mr.
Merton--or even than my will."

"What is it?" said Mountjoy, in a tone of much surprise.

"I don't think I can tell you now. But it is right that you should know
that Merton wrote, by my instructions, to Mr. Grey early this morning,
and has implored him to come to Tretton once again. There! I cannot say
more than that now." Then he turned round on his couch, as was his
custom, and was unassailable.



CHAPTER LIV.

RUMMELSBURG.


Mr. Scarborough again sent for Mr. Grey, but a couple of weeks passed
before he came. At first he refused to come, saying that he would send
his clerk down if any work were wanted such as the clerk might do. And
the clerk did come and was very useful. But Mr. Scarborough persevered,
using arguments which Mr. Grey found himself unable at last to resist.
He was dying, and there would soon be an end of it. That was his
strongest argument. Then it was alleged that a lawyer of experience was
certainly needed, and that Mr. Scarborough could not very well put his
affairs into the hands of a stranger. And old friendship was brought up.
And, then, at last, the squire alleged that there were other secrets to
be divulged respecting his family, of which Mr. Scarborough thought that
Mr. Grey would approve. What could be the "other secrets?" But it ended
in Mr. Grey assenting to go, in opposition to his daughter's advice. "I
would have nothing more to do with him or his secrets," Dolly had said.

"You do not know him."

"I know as much about him as a woman can know of a man she doesn't
know,--and all from yourself. You have said over and over again that he
is a 'rascal!'"

"Not a rascal. I don't think I said he was a rascal."

"I believe you used that very word."

"Then I unsay it. A rascal has something mean about him. Juniper's a
rascal!"

"He cares nothing for his word."

"Nothing at all,--when the law is concerned."

"And he has defamed his own wife."

"That was done many years ago."

"For a fixed purpose, and not from passion," Dolly continued. "He is a
thoroughly bad man. You have made his will for him, and now I would
leave him." After that Mr. Grey declined for a second time to go. But at
last he was persuaded.

On the evening of his arrival he dined with Mountjoy and Merton, and on
that occasion Miss Scarborough joined them. Of course there was much
surmise as to the cause of this farther visit. Merton declared that, as
he had acted as the sick man's private secretary, he was bound to keep
his secret as far as he knew it. He only surmised what he believed to be
the truth, but of that he could say nothing. Miss Scarborough was
altogether in the dark. She, and she alone, spoke of her brother with
respect, but in that she knew nothing.

"I cannot tell what it is," said Mountjoy; "but I suspect it to be
something intended for my benefit and for the utter ruin of Augustus."
Miss Scarborough had now retired. "If it could be possible, I should
think that he intended to declare that all he had said before was
false." To this, however, Mr. Grey would not listen. He was very stout
in denying the possibility of any reversion of the decision to which
they had all come. Augustus was, undoubtedly, by law his father's eldest
son. He had seen with his own eyes copies of the registry of the
marriage, which Mr. Barry had gone across the Continent to make. And in
that book his wife had signed her maiden name, according to the custom
of the country. This had been done in the presence of the clergyman and
of a gentleman,--a German, then residing on the spot, who had himself
been examined, and had stated that the wedding, as a wedding, had been
regular in all respects. He was since dead, but the clergyman who had
married them was still alive. Within twelve months of that time Mr.
Scarborough and his bride had arrived in England, and Augustus had been
born. "Nothing but the most indisputable evidence would have sufficed to
prove a fact by which you were so cruelly wronged," he said, addressing
himself to Mountjoy. "And when your father told me that no wrong could
be done to you, as the property was hopelessly in the hands of the Jews,
I told him that, for all purposes of the law, the Jews were as dear to
me as you were. I do say that nothing but the most certain facts would
have convinced me. Such facts, when made certain, are immovable. If your
father has any plot for robbing Augustus, he will find me as staunch a
friend to Augustus as ever I have been to you." When he had so spoken
they separated for the night, and his words had been so strong that they
had altogether affected Mountjoy. If such were his father's intentions,
it must be by some farther plot that he endeavored to carry it out: and
in his father's plots he would put no trust whatever.

And yet he declared his own purpose as he discussed the matter, late
into the night, with Merton. "I cannot trust Grey at all, nor my father
either, because I do not believe, as Grey believes, this story of the
marriage. My father is so clever, and so resolute in his purpose to set
aside all control over the property as arranged by law, that to my mind
it has all been contrived by himself. Either Mr. Barry has been squared,
or the German parson, or the foreign gentleman, or more probably all of
them. Mr. Grey himself may have been squared, for all I know, though he
is the kindest-hearted gentleman I ever came across. Anything shall be
more probable to me than that I am not my father's eldest son." To all
this Mr. Merton said very little, though no doubt he had his own ideas.

The next morning the three gentlemen, with Mr. Grey's clerk, sat down to
breakfast, solemn and silent. The clerk had been especially entreated to
say nothing of what he had learned, and was therefore not questioned by
his master. But in truth he had learned but little, having spent his
time in the sorting and copying of letters which, though they all bore
upon the subject in hand, told nothing of the real tale. Farther
surmises were useless now, as at eleven o'clock Mr. Grey and Mr. Merton
were to go up together to the squire's room. The clerk was to remain
within call, but there would be no need of Mountjoy. "I suppose I may as
well go to bed," said he, "or up to London, or anywhere." Mr. Grey very
sententiously advised him at any rate not to go up to London.

The hour came, and Mr. Grey, with Merton and the clerk, disappeared
up-stairs. They were summoned by Miss Scarborough, who seemed to feel
heavily the awful solemnity of the occasion. "I am sure he is going to
do something very dreadful this time," she whispered to Mr. Grey, who
seemed himself to be a little awe-struck, and did not answer her.

At two o'clock they all met again at lunch and Mr. Grey was silent, and
in truth very unhappy. Merton and the clerk were also silent, as was
Miss Scarborough,--silent as death. She, indeed, knew nothing, but the
other three knew as much as Mr. Scarborough could or would tell them.
Mountjoy was there also, and in the middle of the meal broke out
violently: "Why the mischief don't you tell me what it is that my father
has said to you?"

"Because I do not believe a word of his story," said Mr. Grey.

"Oh, Mr Grey!" ejaculated Miss Scarborough.

"I do not believe a word of his story," repeated Mr. Grey. "Your
father's intelligence is so high, and his principles so low, that there
is no scheme which he does not think that he cannot carry out against
the established laws of his country. His present tale is a made-up
fable."

"What do you say, Merton?" asked Mountjoy.

"It looks to me to be true," said Merton. "But I am no lawyer."

"Why don't you tell me what it is?" said Mountjoy.

"I cannot tell you," said Grey, "though he commissioned me to do so.
Greenwood there will tell you." Greenwood was the name of the clerk.
"But I advise you to take him with you to your own room. And Mr. Merton
would, I am sure, go with you. As for me, it would be impossible that I
should do credit in the telling of it to a story of which I do not
believe a single word."

"Am I not to know?" asked Miss Scarborough, plaintively.

"Your nephew will tell you," said Mr. Grey,--"or Mr. Merton; or Mr.
Greenwood can do so, if he has permission from Mr. Scarborough. I would
rather tell no one. It is to me incredible." With that he got up and
walked away.

"Now then, Merton," said Mountjoy, rising from his chair.

"Upon my word I hardly know what to do," said Merton.

"You must come and tell me this wonderful tale. I suppose that in some
way it does affect my interests?"

"It affects your interests very much."

"Then I think I may say that I certainly shall believe it. My father at
present would not wish to do me an injury. It must be told, so come
along. Mr. Greenwood had better come also." Then he left the room, and
the two men followed him. They went away to the smoking-room, leaving
Mr. Grey with Miss Scarborough. "Am I to know nothing about it?" said
Miss Scarborough.

"Not from me, Miss Scarborough. You can understand, that I cannot tell
you a story which will require at every word that I should explain my
thorough disbelief in your brother. I have been very angry with him, and
he has been more energetic than can have been good for him."

"Ah me! you will have killed him among you!"

"It has been his own doing. You, however, had better go to him. I must
return to town this evening."

"You will stay for dinner?"

"No. I cannot stay for dinner. I cannot sit down with Mountjoy,--who has
done nothing in the least wrong,--because I feel myself to be altogether
opposed to his interests. I would rather be out of the house." So
saying he did leave the house, and went back to London by train that
afternoon.

The meeting that morning, which had been very stormy, cannot be given
word by word. From the moment in which the squire had declared his
purpose, the lawyer had expressed his disbelief in all that was said to
him. This Mr. Scarborough had at first taken very kindly; but Mr. Grey
clung to his purpose with a pertinacity which had at last beaten down
the squire's good-humor, and had called for the interference of Mr.
Merton. "How can I be quiet?" the squire had said, "when he tells me
everything I say is a lie?"

"It is a lie!" said Mr. Grey, who had lost all control of himself.

"You should not say that, Mr. Grey," said Merton.

"He should spare a man on his death-bed, who is endeavoring to do his
duty by his children," said the man who thus declared himself to be
dying.

"I will go away," said Mr. Grey, rising. "He has forced me to come here
against my will, and has known,--must have known,--that I should tell him
what I thought. Even though a man be dying, a man cannot accept what he
says on a matter of business such as this unless he believe him. I must
tell him that I believe him or that I do not. I disbelieve the whole
story, and will not act upon it as though I believed it." But even after
this the meeting was continued, Mr. Grey consenting to sit there and to
hear what was said to the end.

The purport of Mr. Scarborough's story will probably have been
understood by our readers. It was Mr. Scarborough's present intention to
make it understood that the scheme intended for the disinheritance of
Mountjoy had been false from the beginning to the end, and had been
arranged, not for the injury of Mountjoy, but for the salvation of the
estate from the hands of the Jews. Mountjoy would have lost nothing, as
the property would have gone entirely to the Jews had Mr. Scarborough
then died, and Mountjoy been taken as his legitimate heir. He was not
anxious, he had declared, to say anything on the present occasion in
defence of his conduct in that respect. He would soon be gone, and he
would leave men to judge him who might do so the more honestly when they
should have found that he had succeeded in paying even the Jews in full
the moneys which they had actually advanced. But now things were again
changed, and he was bound to go back to the correct order of things.

"No!" shouted Mr. Grey.

"To the correct order of things," he went on. Mountjoy Scarborough was,
he declared, undoubtedly legitimate. And then he made Merton and the
clerk bring forth all the papers, as though he had never brought forth
any papers to prove the other statement to Mr. Grey. And he did expect
Mr. Grey to believe them. Mr. Grey simply put them all back,
metaphorically, with his hand. There had been two marriages, absolutely
prepared with the intent of enabling him at some future time to upset
the law altogether, if it should seem good to him to do so.

"And your wife?" shouted Mr. Grey.

"Dear woman! She would have done anything that I told her,--unless I had
told her to do what was absolutely wrong."

"Not wrong!"

"Well, you know what I mean. She was the purest and best of women." Then
he went on with his tale. There had been two marriages, and he now
brought forth all the evidence of the former marriage. It had taken
place in a remote town, a village in the northern part of Prussia,
whither she had been taken by her mother to join him. The two ladies had
both been since long dead. He had been laid up at the little Prussian
town under the plea of a bad leg. He did not scruple to say now that the
bad leg had been pretence, and a portion of his scheme. The law, he
thought, in endeavoring to make arrangements for his property,--the
property which should have been his own,--had sinned so greatly as to
drive a wise man to much scheming. He had begun scheming early in the
business. But for his bad leg the old lady would not have brought her
daughter to be married at so out-of-the-way a place as Rummelsburg, in
Pomerania. He had travelled about and found Rummelsburg peculiarly
fitted for his enterprise. There was a most civil old Lutheran clergyman
there, to whom he had made himself peculiarly acceptable. He had now
certified copies of the registry at Rummelsburg, which left no loop-hole
for doubt. But he had felt that probably no inquiry would have been made
about what had been done thirty years ago at Rummelsburg, had he himself
desired to be silent on the subject. "There will be no difficulty," he
said, "in making the Rummelsburg marriage known to all the world."

"I think there will;--very great difficulty," Mr. Grey had said.

"Not the least. But when I had to be married in the light of day, after
Mountjoy's birth, at Nice, in Italy, then there was the difficulty. It
had to be done in the light of day; and that little traveller with his
nurse were with us. Nice was in Italy then, and some contrivance was, I
assure you, necessary. But it was done, and I have always had with me
the double sets of certificates. As things have turned up, I have had to
keep Mr. Grey altogether in the dark as regards Rummelsburg. It was very
difficult; but I have succeeded."

That Mr. Grey should have been almost driven to madness by such an
outrage as this was a matter of course. But he preferred to believe that
Rummelsburg, and not Nice, was the myth. "How did your wife travel with
you during the whole of that year?" he had asked.

"As Mrs. Scarborough, no doubt. But we had been very little in society,
and the world at large seemed willing to believe almost anything of me
that was wrong. However, there's the Rummelsburg marriage, and if you
send to Rummelsburg you'll find that it's all right,--a little white
church up a corner, with a crooked spire. The old clergyman is, no
doubt, dead, but I should imagine that they would keep their registers."
Then he explained how he had travelled about the world with the two sets
of certificates, and had made the second public when his object had been
to convert Augustus into his eldest son. Many people then had been found
who had remembered something of the marriage at Nice, and remembered to
have remembered something at the time of having been in possession of
some secret as to the lady. But Rummelsburg had been kept quite in the
dark. Now it was necessary that a strong light should be thrown on the
absolute legality of the Rummelsburg marriage.

He declared that he had more than once made up his mind to destroy those
Rummelsburg documents, but had always been deterred by the reflection
that, when they were once gone, they could not be brought back again. "I
had always intended," he had said, "to burn the papers the last thing
before my death. But as I learned Augustus's character, I made quite
certain by causing them to be sealed up in a parcel addressed to him, so
that if I had died by accident they might have fallen into proper hands.
But I see now the wickedness of my project, and, therefore, I give them
over to Mr. Grey." So saying he tendered the parcel to the attorney.

Mr. Grey, of course, refused to take, or even to touch, the Rummelsburg
parcel. He then prepared to leave the room, declaring it would be his
duty to act on the part of Augustus, should Augustus be pleased to
accept his services. But Mr. Scarborough, almost with tears, implored
him to change his purpose. "Why should you set two brothers by the
ears?" At this Mr. Grey only shook his head incredulously. "And why ruin
the property without an object?"

"The property will come to ruin."

"Not if you will take the matter up in the proper spirit. But if you
determine to drive one brother to hostility against the other, and
promote unnecessary litigation, of course the lawyers will get it all."
Then Mr. Grey left the room, boiling with anger in that he, with his
legal knowledge and determination to do right, had been so utterly
thrown aside; while Mr. Scarborough sank exhausted by the effort he had
gone through.



CHAPTER LV.

MR. GREY'S REMORSE.


Mr. Grey's feeling, as he returned home, was chiefly one of
self-reproach; so that, though he persisted in not believing the story
which had been told to him, he did, in truth, believe it. He believed,
at any rate, in Mr. Scarborough. Mr. Scarborough had determined that the
property should go hither and thither according to his will, without
reference to the established laws of the land, and had carried, and
would carry his purpose. His object had been to save his estate from the
hands of those harpies, the money-lenders; and as far as he was
concerned he would have saved it.

He had, in fact, forced the money-lenders to lend their money without
interest and without security, and then to consent to accept their
principal when it was offered to them. No one could say but that the
deed when done was a good deed. But this man in doing it had driven his
coach and horses through all the laws, which were to Mr. Grey as Holy
Writ; and, in thus driving his coach and horses, he had forced Mr. Grey
to sit upon the box and hold the reins. Mr. Grey had thought himself to
be a clever man,--at least a well-instructed man; but Mr. Scarborough had
turned him round his finger, this way and that way, just as he had
pleased.

Mr. Grey when, in his rage, he had given the lie to Mr. Scarborough had,
no doubt, spoken as he had believed at that moment. To him the new
story must have sounded like a lie, as he had been driven to accept the
veritable lie as real truth. He had looked into all the circumstances of
the marriage at Nice, and had accepted it. He had sent his partner over,
and had picked up many incidental confirmations. That there had been a
marriage at Nice between Mr. Scarborough and the mother of Augustus was
certain. He had traced back Mr. Scarborough's movements before the
marriage, and could not learn where the lady had joined him who
afterward became his wife; but it had become manifest to him that she
had travelled with him, bearing his name. But in Vienna Mr. Barry had
learned that Mr. Scarborough had called the lady by her maiden name. He
might have learned that he had done so very often at other places; but
it had all been done in preparation for the plot in hand,--as had scores
of other little tricks which have not cropped up to the surface in this
narrative.

Mr. Scarborough's whole life had been passed in arranging tricks for the
defeat of the law; and it had been his great glory so to arrange them as
to make it impossible that the law should touch him. Mountjoy had
declared that he had been defrauded. The creditors swore, with many
oaths, that they had been horribly cheated by this man. Augustus, no
doubt, would so swear very loudly. No man could swear more loudly than
did Mr. Grey as he left the squire's chamber after this last revelation.
But there was no one who could punish him. The money-lenders had no
writing under his hand. Had Mountjoy been born without a
marriage-ceremony it would have been very wicked, but the vengeance of
the law would not have reached him. If you deceive your attorney with
false facts he cannot bring you before the magistrates. Augustus had
been the most injured of all; but a son, though he may bring an action
against his father for bigamy, cannot summon him before any tribunal
because he has married his mother twice over. These were Mr.
Scarborough's death-bed triumphs; but they were very sore upon Mr. Grey.

On his journey back to town, as he turned the facts over more coolly in
his mind, he began to fear that he saw a glimmer of the truth. Before he
reached London he almost thought that Mountjoy would be the heir. He had
not brought a scrap of paper away with him, having absolutely refused to
touch the documents offered to him. He certainly would not be employed
again either by Mr. Scarborough or on behalf of his estate or his
executors. He had threatened that he would take up the cudgels on
behalf of Augustus, and had felt at the moment that he was bound to do
so, because, as he had then thought, Augustus had the right cause. But
as that idea crumbled away from him, Augustus and his affairs became
more and more distasteful to him. After all, it ought to be wished that
Mountjoy should become the elder son,--even Mountjoy, the incurable
gambler. It was terrible to Mr. Grey that the old, fixed arrangement
should be unfixed, and certainly there was nothing in the character of
Augustus to reconcile him to such a change.

But he was a very unhappy man when he put himself into a cab to be
carried down to Fulham. How much better would it have been for him had
he taken his daughter's advice, and persistently refused to make this
last journey to Tretton! He would have to acknowledge to his daughter
that Mr. Scarborough had altogether got the better of him, and his
unhappiness would consist in the bitterness of that acknowledgment.

But when he reached the Manor House his daughter met him with news of
her own which for the moment kept his news in abeyance. "Oh, papa," she
said, "I am so glad you've come!" He had sent her a telegram to say that
he was coming. "Just when I got your message I was frightened out of my
life. Who do you think was here with me?"

"How am I to think, my dear?"

"Mr. Juniper."

"Who on earth is Mr. Juniper?" he asked. "Oh, I remember;--Amelia's
lover."

"Do you mean to say you forgot Mr. Juniper? I never shall forget him.
What a horrid man he is!"

"I never saw Mr. Juniper in my life. What did he want of you?"

"He says you have ruined him utterly. He came here about two o'clock,
and found me at work in the garden. He made his way in through the open
gate, and would not be sent back though one of the girls told him that
there was nobody at home. He had seen me, and I could not turn him out,
of course."

"What did he say to you? Was he impudent?"

"He did not insult me, if you mean that; but he was impudent in not
going away, and I could not get rid of him for an hour. He says that you
have doubly ruined him."

"As how?"

"You would not let Amelia have the fortune that you promised her; and I
think his object now was to get the fortune without the girl. And he
said, also, that he had lent five hundred pounds to your Captain
Scarborough."

"He is not my Captain Scarborough."

"And that when you were settling the captain's debts his was the only
one you would not pay in full."

"He is a rogue,--an arrant rogue!"

"But he says that he's got the captain's name to the five hundred
pounds; and he means to get it some of these days, now that the captain
and his father are friends again. The long and the short of it is, that
he wants five hundred pounds by hook or by crook, and that he thinks you
ought to let him have it."

"He'll get it, or the greater part of it. There's no doubt he'll get it
if he has got the captain's name. If I remember right, the captain did
sign a note for him to that amount,--and he'll get the money if he has
stuck to it."

"Do you mean that Captain Scarborough would pay all his debts?"

"He will have to pay that one, because it was not included in the
schedule. What do you think has turned up now?"

"Some other scheme?"

"It is all scheming,--base, false scheming,--to have been concerned with
which will be a disgrace to my name forever!"

"Oh, papa!"

"Yes; forever! He has told me, now, that Mountjoy is his true,
legitimate, eldest son. He declares that that story which I have
believed for the last eight months has been altogether false, and made
out of his own brain to suit his own purposes. In order to enable him to
defraud these money-lenders he used a plot which he had concocted long
since, and boldly declared Augustus to be his heir. He made me believe
it; and because I believed it, even those greedy, grasping men, who
would not have given up a tithe of their prey to save the whole family,
even they believed it too. Now, at the very point of death, he comes
forward with perfect coolness, and tells me that the whole story was a
plot made out of his own head."

"Do you believe him now?"

"I became very wroth, and said that it was a lie! I did think that it
was a lie. I did flatter myself that in a matter concerning my own
business, and in which I was bound to look after the welfare of others,
he could not have so deceived me; but I find myself as a child--as a
baby--in his hands."

"Then you do believe him now?"

"I am afraid so. I will never see him again, if it be possible for me to
avoid him. He has treated me as no one should have treated his enemy,
let alone a faithful friend. He must have scoffed and scorned at me
merely because I had faith in his word. Who could have thought of a man
laying his plots so deeply,--arranging for twenty years past the frauds
which he has now executed? For thirty years, or nearly, his mind has
been busy on these schemes, and on others, no doubt, which he has not
thought it necessary to execute, and has used me in them simply as a
machine. It is impossible that I should forgive him."

"And what will be the end of it?" she asked.

"Who can say? But this is clear. He has utterly destroyed my character
as a lawyer."

"No. Nothing of the kind."

"And it will be well if he have not done so as a man. Do you think that
when people hear that these changes have been made with my assistance
they will stop to unravel it all, and to see that I have been only a
fool and not a knave? Can I explain under what stress of entreaty I went
down there on this last occasion?"

"Papa, you were quite right to go. He was your old friend, and he was
dying."

Even for this he was grateful. "Who will judge me as you do,--you who
persuaded me that I should not have gone? See how the world will use my
name! He has made me a party to each of his frauds. He disinherited
Mountjoy, and he forced me to believe the evidence he brought. Then,
when Mountjoy was nobody, he half paid the creditors by means of my
assistance."

"They got all they were entitled to get."

"No; till the law had decided against them, they were entitled to their
bonds. But they, ruffians though they are, had advanced so much hard
money, and I was anxious that they should get their hard money back
again. But unless Mountjoy had been illegitimate,--so as to be capable of
inheriting nothing,--they would have been cheated; and they have been
cheated. Will it be possible that I should make them or make others
think that I have had nothing to do with it? And Augustus, who will be
open-mouthed,--what will he say against me? In every turn and double of
the man's crafty mind I shall be supposed to have turned and doubled
with him. I do not mind telling the truth about myself to you."

"I should hope not."

"The light that has guided me through my professional life has been a
love of the law. As far as my small powers have gone, I have wished to
preserve it intact. I am sure that the Law and Justice may be made to
run on all-fours. I have been so proud of my country as to make that the
rule of my life. The chance has brought me into the position of having
for a client a man the passion of whose life has been the very reverse.
Who would not say that for an attorney to have such a man as Mr.
Scarborough, of Tretton, for his client, was not a feather in his cap?
But I have found him to be not only fraudulent, but too clever for me.
In opposition to myself he has carried me into his paths."

"He has never induced you to do anything that was wrong."

"'Nil conscire sibi;' that ought to be enough for a simple man. But it
is not enough for me. It cannot be enough for a man who intends to act
as an attorney for others. Others must know it as well as I myself. You
know it. But can I remain an attorney for you only? There are some of
whom just the other thing is known; but then they look for work of the
other kind. I have never put up a shop-board for sharp practice. After
this the sharpest kind of practice will be all that I shall seem to be
fit for. It isn't the money. I can retire with enough for your wants and
for mine. If I could retire amid the good words of men I should be
happy. But, even if I retire, men will say that I have filled my pockets
with plunder from Tretton."

"That will never be said."

"Were I to publish an account of the whole affair,--which I am bound in
honor not to do,--explaining it all from beginning to end, people would
only say that I was endeavoring to lay the whole weight of the guilt
upon my confederate who was dead. Why did he pick me out for such
usage,--me who have been so true to him?"

There was something almost weak, almost feminine in the tone of Mr.
Grey's complaints. But to Dolly they were neither feminine nor weak. To
her her father's grief was true and well-founded; but for herself in her
own heart there was some joy to be drawn from it. How would it have been
with her if the sharp practice had been his, and the success? What would
have been her state of mind had she known her father to have conceived
these base tricks? Or what would have been her condition had her father
been of such a kind as to have taught her that the doing of such tricks
should be indifferent to her? To have been high above them all,--for him
and for her,--was not that everything? And was she not sure that the
truth would come to light at last? And if not here, would not the truth
come to light elsewhere where light would be of more avail than here?
Such was the consolation with which Dolly consoled herself.

On the next two days Mr. Grey went to his chambers and returned, without
any new word as to Mr. Scarborough and his affairs. One day he did bring
back some tidings as to Juniper. "Juniper has got into some row about a
horse," he said, "and is, I fear, in prison. All the same, he'll get his
five hundred pounds; and if he knew that fact it would help him."

"I can't tell him, papa. I don't know where he lives."

"Perhaps Carroll could do so."

"I never speak to Mr. Carroll. And I would not willingly mention
Juniper's name to my aunt or to either of the girls. It will be better
to let Juniper go on in his row."

"With all my heart," said Mr. Grey. And then there was an end of that.

On the next morning, the fourth after his return from Tretton, Mr. Grey
received a letter from Mountjoy Scarborough. "He was sure," he said,
"that Mr. Grey would be sorry to hear that his father had been very weak
since Mr. Grey had gone, and unable even to see him, Mountjoy, for more
than two or three minutes at a time. He was afraid that all would soon
be over; but he and everybody around the squire had been surprised to
find how cheerful and high-spirited he was. It seems," wrote Mountjoy,
"as though he had nothing to regret, either as regards this world or the
next. He has no remorse, and certainly no fear. Nothing, I think, could
make him angry, unless the word repentance were mentioned to him. To me
and to his sister he is unwontedly affectionate; but Augustus's name has
not crossed his lips since you left the house." Then he went on to the
matter as to which his letter had been written. "What am I to do when
all is over with him? It is natural that I should come to you for
advice. I will promise nothing about myself, but I trust that I may not
return to the gambling-table. If I have this property to manage, I may
be able to remain down here without going up to London. But shall I have
the property to manage? and what steps am I to take with the view of
getting it? Of course I shall have to encounter opposition, but I do
not think that you will be one of those to oppose me. I presume that I
shall be left here in possession, and that, they say, is nine points of
the law. In the usual way I ought, I presume, simply to do nothing, but
merely to take possession. The double story about the two marriages
ought to count for nothing,--and I should be as though no such plots had
ever been hatched. But they have been hatched, and other people know of
them. The creditors, I presume, can do nothing. You have all the bonds
in your possession. They may curse and swear, but will, I imagine, have
no power. I doubt whether they have a morsel of ground on which to raise
a lawsuit; for whether I or Augustus be the eldest son, their claims
have been satisfied in full. But I presume that Augustus will not sit
quiet. What ought I to do in regard to him? As matters stand at present
he will not get a shilling. I fear my father is too ill to make another
will. But at any rate he will make none in favor of Augustus. Pray tell
me what I ought to do; and tell me whether you can send any one down to
assist me when my father shall have gone."

"I will meddle no farther with anything in which the name of Scarborough
is concerned." Such had been Mr. Grey's first assertion when he received
Mountjoy's letter. He would write to him and tell him that, after what
had passed, there could be nothing of business transacted between him
and his father's estate. Nor was he in the position to give any advice
on the subjects mooted. He would wash his hands of it altogether. But,
as he went home, he thought over the matter and told himself that it
would be impossible for him thus to repudiate the name. He would
undertake no lawsuit either on behalf of Augustus or of Mountjoy. But he
must answer Mountjoy's letter, and tender him some advice.

During the long hours of the subsequent night he discussed the whole
matter with his daughter, and the upshot of his discussion was
this:--that he would withdraw his name from the business, and leave Mr.
Barry to manage it. Mr. Barry might then act for either party as he
pleased.



CHAPTER LVI.

SCARBOROUGH'S REVENGE.


All these things were not done at Tretton altogether unknown to Augustus
Scarborough. Tidings as to the will reached him, and then he first
perceived the injury he had done himself in lending his assistance to
the payment of the creditors. Had his brother been utterly bankrupt, so
that the Jews might have seized any money that might have come to him,
his father would have left no will in his favor. All that was now
intelligible to Augustus. The idea that his father should strip the
house of every stick of furniture, and the estate of every chattel upon
it, had not occurred to him before the thing was done.

He had thought that his father was indifferent to all personal offence,
and therefore he had been offensive. He found out his mistake, and
therefore was angry with himself. But he still thought that he had been
right in regard to the creditors. Had the creditors been left in the
possession of their unpaid bonds, they would have offered terrible
impediments to the taking possession of the property. He had been right
then, he thought. The fact was that his father had lived too long.
However, the property would be left to him, Augustus, and he must make
up his mind to buy the other things from Mountjoy. He at any rate would
have to provide the funds out of which Mountjoy must live, and he would
take care that he did not buy the chattels twice over. It was thus he
consoled himself till rumors of something worse reached his ears.

How the rumors reached him it would be difficult to say. There were
probably some among the servants who got an inkling of what the squire
was doing when Mr. Grey again came down; or Miss Scarborough had some
confidential friend; or Mr. Grey's clerk may have been indiscreet. The
tidings in some unformed state did reach Augustus and astounded him. His
belief in his father's story as to his brother's illegitimacy had been
unfixed and doubtful. Latterly it had verged toward more thorough belief
as the creditors had taken their money,--less than a third of what would
have been theirs had the power remained with them of recovering their
full debt. The creditors had thus proved their belief, and they were a
people not likely to believe such a statement without some foundation.
But at any rate he had conceived it to be impossible that his own
father should go back from his first story, and again make himself out
to be doubly a liar and doubly a knave.

But if it were so, what should he do? Was it not the case that in such
event he would be altogether ruined,--a penniless adventurer with his
profession absolutely gone from him? What little money he had got
together had been expended on behalf of Mountjoy,--a sprat thrown out to
catch a whale. Everything according to the present tidings had been left
to Mountjoy. He had only half known his father, who had turned against
him with virulence because of his unkindness. Who could have expected
that a man in such a condition should have lived so long, and have been
capable of a will so powerful? He had not dreamed of a hatred so
inveterate as his father's for him.

He received news also from Tretton that his father was not now expected
by any one to live long.

"It may be a week, the doctors say, and it is hardly possible that he
should remain alive for another month." Such was the news which reached
him from his own emissary at Tretton. What had he better do in the
emergency of the moment?

There was only one possibly effective step that he could take. He might,
of course, remain tranquil, and accept what chance might give him, when
his father should have died. But he might at once go down to Tretton and
demand an interview with the dying man. He did not think that his
father, even on his death-bed, would refuse to see him. His father's
pluck was indomitable, and he thought that he could depend on his own
pluck. At any rate he resolved that he would immediately go to Tretton
and take his chance. He reached the house about the middle of the day,
and at once sent his name up to his father. Miss Scarborough was sitting
by her brother's bedside, and from time to time was reading to him a few
words. "Augustus!" he said, as soon as the servant had left the room.
"What does Augustus want with me? The last time he saw me he bade me die
out of hand if I wished to retrieve the injury I had done him."

"Do not think of that now, John," his sister said.

"As God is my judge, I will think of it to the last moment. Words such
as those spoken, by a son to his father, demand a little thought. Were I
to tell you that I did not think of them, would you not know that I was
a hypocrite?"

"You need not speak of them, John."

"Not unless he came here to harass my last moments. I strove to do very
much for him;--you know with what return. Mountjoy has been, at any rate,
honest and straightforward; and, considering all things, not lacking in
respect. I shall, at any rate, have some pleasure in letting Augustus
know the state of my mind."

"What shall I say to him?" his sister asked.

"Tell him that he had better go back to London. I have tried them both,
as few sons can be tried by their father, and I know them now. Tell him,
with my compliments, that it will be better for him not to see me. There
can be nothing pleasant said between us. I have no communication to make
to him which could in the least interest him."

But before night came the squire had been talked over, and had agreed to
see his son. "The interview will be easy enough for me," he had said,
"but I cannot imagine what he will get from me. But let him come as he
will."

Augustus spent much of the intervening time in discussing the matter
with his aunt. But not a word on the subject was spoken by him to
Mountjoy, whom he met at dinner, and with whom he spent the evening in
company with Mr. Merton. The two hours after dinner were melancholy
enough. The three adjourned to the smoking-room, and sat there almost
without conversation. A few words were said about the hunting, but
Mountjoy had not hunted this winter. There were a few also of greater
interest about the shooting. The shooting was of course still the
property of the old man, and in the early months had, without many words
spoken, become, as it were, an appanage of the condition of life to
which Augustus aspired; but of late Mountjoy had assumed the command.
"You found plenty of pheasants here, I suppose," Augustus remarked.

"Well, yes; not too many. I didn't trouble myself much about it. When I
saw a pheasant I shot it. I've been a little troubled in spirit, you
know."

"Gambling again, I heard."

"That didn't trouble me much. Merton can tell you that we've had a
sick-house."

"Yes, indeed," said Merton. "It hasn't seemed to be a time in which a
man would think very much of his pheasants."

"I don't know why," said Augustus, who was determined not to put up with
the rebuke implied in the doctor's words. After that there was nothing
more said between them till they all went to their separate apartments.
"Don't contradict him," his aunt said to him the next morning, "and if
he reprimands you, acknowledge that you have been wrong."

"That's hard, when I haven't been wrong."

"But so much depends upon it; and he is so stern. Of course, I wish well
for both of you. There is plenty enough,--plenty; if only you could agree
together."

"But the injustice of his treatment. Is it true that he now declares
Mountjoy to be the eldest son?"

"I believe so. I do not know, but I believe it."

"Think of what his conduct has been to me. And then you tell me that I
am to own that I have been wrong! In what have I been wrong?"

"He is your father, and I suppose you have said hard words to him."

"Did I rebuke him because he had fraudulently kept me for so many years
in the position of a younger son? Did I not forgive him that iniquity?"

"But he says you are a younger son."

"This last move," he said, with great passion, "has only been made in an
attempt to punish me, because I would not tell him that I was under a
world of obligations to him for simply declaring the truth as to my
birth. We cannot both be his eldest son."

"No, certainly, not both."

"At last he declared that I was his heir. If I did say hard words to
him, were they not justified?"

"Not to your father," said Miss Scarborough, shaking her head.

"That is your idea? How was I to abstain? Think what had been done to
me. Through my whole life he had deceived me, and had attempted to rob
me."

"But he says that he had intended to get the property for you."

"To get it! It was mine. According to what he said it was my own. He had
robbed me to give it to Mountjoy. Now he intends to rob me again in
order that Mountjoy may have it. He will leave such a kettle of fish
behind him, with all his manoeuvring, that neither of us will be the
better of Tretton."

Then he went to the squire. In spite of what had passed between him and
his aunt, he had thought deeply of his conduct to his father in the
past, and of the manner in which he would now carry himself. He was
aware that he had behaved,--not badly, for that he esteemed nothing,--but
most unwisely. When he had found himself to be the heir to Tretton he
had fancied himself to be almost the possessor, and had acted on the
instincts which on such a case would have been natural to him. To have
pardoned the man because he was his father, and then to have treated him
with insolent disdain, as some dying old man, almost entirely beneath
his notice, was what he felt the nature of the circumstances demanded.
And whether the story was true or false it would have been the same. He
had come at last to believe it to be true, and had therefore been the
more resolute; but, whether it were true or false, the old man had
struck his blow, and he must abide by it. Till the moment came in which
he had received that communication from Tretton, the idea had never
occurred to him that another disposition of the property might still be
within his father's power. But he had little known the old man's power,
or the fertility of his resources, or the extent of his malice. "After
what you have done you should cease to stay and disturb us," he had once
said, when his father had jokingly alluded to his own death. He had at
once repented, and had felt that such a speech had been iniquitous as
coming from a son. But his father had, at the moment, expressed no deep
animosity. Some sarcastic words had fallen from him of which Augustus
had not understood the bitterness. But he had remembered it since, and
was now not so much surprised at his father's wish to injure him as at
his power.

But could he have any such power? Mr. Grey, he knew, was on his side,
and Mr. Grey was a thorough lawyer. All the world was on his side,--all
the world having been instructed to think and to believe that Mr.
Scarborough had not been married till after Mountjoy was born. All the
world had been much surprised, and would be unwilling to encounter
another blow. Should he go into his father's room altogether penitent,
or should he hold up his head and justify himself?

One thing was brought home to him, by thinking, as a matter of which he
might be convinced. No penitence could now avail him anything. He had at
any rate by this time looked sufficiently into his father's character to
be sure that he would not forgive such an offence as had been his. Any
vice, any extravagance, almost any personal neglect, would have been
pardoned. "I have so brought him up," the father would have said, "and
the fault must be counted as my own." But his son had deliberately
expressed a wish for his father's death, and had expressed it in his
father's presence. He had shown not only neglect, which may arise at a
distance, and may not be absolutely intentional; but these words had
been said with the purpose of wounding, and were, and would be,
unpardonable. Augustus, as he went along the corridor to his father's
room, determined that he would at any rate not be penitent.

"Well, sir, how do you find yourself?" he said, walking in briskly and
putting out his hand to his father. The old man languidly gave his hand,
but only smiled. "I hear of you, though not from you, and they tell me
that you have not been quite so strong of late."

"I shall soon cease to stay and trouble you," said the squire, with
affected weakness, in a voice hardly above a whisper, using the very
words which Augustus had spoken.

"There have been some moments between us, sir, which have been,
unfortunately, unpleasant."

"And yet I have done so much to make them pleasant to you! I should have
thought that the offer of all Tretton would have gone for much with
you."

Augustus was again taken in. There was a piteous whine about his
father's voice which once more deceived him. He did not dream of the
depth of the old man's anger. He did not imagine that at such a moment
it could boil over with such ferocity; nor was he altogether aware of
the cat-like quietude with which he could pave the way for his last
spring. Mountjoy, by far the least gifted of the two, had gained the
truer insight to his father's character.

"You had done much, or rather, as I supposed, circumstances had done
much."

"Circumstances?"

"The facts, I mean, as to Mountjoy's birth and my own."

"I have not always left myself to be governed by actual circumstances."

"If there was any omission on my part of an expression of proper
feeling, I regret it."

"I don't know that there was. What is proper feeling? There was no
hypocrisy, at any rate."

"You sometimes are a little bitter, sir."

"I hope you won't find it so when I am gone."

"I don't know what I said that has angered you, but I may have been
driven to say what I did not feel."

"Certainly not to me."

"I'm not here to beg pardon for any special fault, as I do not quite
know of what I am accused."

"Of nothing. There is accusation at all."

"Nor what the punishment is to be. I have learned that you have left to
Mountjoy all the furniture in the house."

"Yes, poor boy!--when I found that you had turned him out."

"I never turned him out,--not till your house was open to receive him."

"You would not have wished him to go into the poor-house?"

"I did the very best for him. I kept him going when there was no one
else to give him a shilling."

"He must have had a bitter time," said the father. "I hope it may have
done him good."

"I think I behaved to him just as an elder brother should have done. He
was not particularly grateful, but that was not my fault."

"Still, I thought it best to leave him the old sticks about the place.
As he was to have the property, it was better that he should have the
sticks." As he said this he managed to turn himself round and look his
son full in the face. Such a look as it was! There was the gleam of
victory, and the glory of triumph, and the venom of malice. "You
wouldn't have them separated, would you?"

"I have heard of some farther trick of this kind."

"Just the ordinary way in which things ought to be allowed to run. Mr.
Grey, who is a very good man, persuaded me. No man ought to interfere
with the law. An attempt in that direction led to evil. Mountjoy is the
eldest son, you know."

"I know nothing of the kind."

"Oh dear, no! there is no question at all as to the date of my marriage
with your mother. We were married in quite a straightforward way at
Rummelsburg. When I wanted to save the property from those harpies, I
was surprised to find how easily I managed it. Grey was a little soft
there: an excellent man, but too credulous for a lawyer."

"I do not believe a word of it."

"You'll find it all go as naturally as possible when I have ceased to
stay and be troublesome. But one thing I must say in your favor."

"What do you mean?"

"I never could have managed it all unless you had consented to that
payment of the creditors. Indeed, I must say, that was chiefly your own
doing. When you first suggested it, I saw what a fine thing you were
contriving for your brother. I should think, after that, of leaving it
all so that you need not find out the truth when I am dead. I do think
I had so managed it that you would have had the property. Mountjoy, who
has some foolish feeling about his mother, and who is obstinate as a
pig, would have fought it out; but I had so contrived that you would
have had it. I had sealed up every document referring to the Rummelsburg
marriage, and had addressed them all to you. I couldn't have made it
safer, could I?"

"I don't know what you mean."

"You would have been enabled to destroy every scrap of the evidence
which will be wanted to prove your brother's legitimacy. Had I burned
the papers I could not have put them more beyond poor Mountjoy's reach.
Now they are quite safe in Mr. Grey's office; his clerk took them away
with him. I would not leave them here with Mountjoy because,--well,--you
might come, and he might be murdered!" Now Mr. Scarborough had had his
revenge.

"You think you have done your duty," said Augustus.

"I do not care two straws about doing my duty, young man." Here Mr.
Scarborough raised himself in part, and spoke in that strong voice which
was supposed to be so deleterious to him. "Or rather, in seeking my
duty, I look beyond the conventionalities of the world. I think that you
have behaved damnably, and that I have punished you. Because of
Mountjoy's weakness, because he had been knocked off his legs, I
endeavored to put you upon yours. You at once turned upon me, when you
thought the deed was done, and bade me go--and bury myself. You were a
little too quick in your desire to become the owner of Tretton Park at
once. I have stayed long enough to give some farther trouble. You will
not say, after this, that I am _non compos_, and unable to make a will.
You will find that, under mine, not one penny-piece, not one scrap of
property, will become yours. Mountjoy will take care of you, I do not
doubt. He must hate you, but will recognize you as his brother. I am not
so soft-hearted and will not recognize you as my son. Now you may go
away." So saying, he turned himself round to the wall, and refused to be
induced to utter another word. Augustus began to speak, but when he had
commenced his second sentence the old man rung his bell. "Mary," said he
to his sister, "will you have the goodness to get Augustus to go away? I
am very weak, and if he remains he will be the death of me. He can't get
anything by killing me at once; it is too late for that."

Then Augustus did leave the room, and before the night came had left
Tretton also. He presumed there was nothing for him to do there. One
word he did say to Mountjoy,--"You will understand, Mountjoy, that when
our father is dead Tretton will not become your property."

"I shall understand nothing of the kind," said Mountjoy "but I suppose
Mr. Grey will tell me what I am to do."



CHAPTER LVII.

MR. PROSPER SHOWS HIS GOOD-NATURE.


While these things were going on at Tretton, and while Mr. Scarborough
was making all arrangements for the adequate disposition of his
property,--in doing which he had happily come to the conclusion that
there was no necessity for interfering with what the law had
settled,--Mr. Prosper was lying very ill at Buston, and was endeavoring
on his sick-bed to reconcile himself to what the entail had done for
him. There could be no other heir to him but Harry Annesley. As he
thought of the unmarried ladies of his acquaintance, he found that there
was no one who would have done for him but Miss Puffle and Matilda
Thoroughbung. All others were too young or too old, or chiefly
penniless. Miss Puffle would have been the exact thing--only for that
intruding farmer's son.

As he lay there alone in his bedroom his mind used to wander a little,
and he would send for Matthew, his butler, and hold confidential
discussions with him. "I never did think, sir, that Miss Thoroughbung
was exactly the lady," said Matthew.

"Why not?"

"Well, sir, there is a saying--But you'll excuse me."

"Go on, Matthew."

"There is a saying as how 'you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's
ear.'"

"I've heard that."

"Just so, sir. Now, Miss Thoroughbung is a very nice lady."

"I don't think she's a nice lady at all."

"But--Of course it's not becoming in me to speak against my betters, and
as a menial servant I never would."

"Go on, Matthew."

"Miss Thoroughbung is--"

"Go on, Matthew."

"Well;--she is a sow's ear. Ain't she, now? The servants here never
would have looked upon her as a silk purse."

"Wouldn't they?"

"Never! She has a way with her just as though she didn't care for silk
purses. And it's my mind, sir, that she don't. She wishes, however, to
be uppermost, and if she had come here she'd have said so."

"That can never be. Thank God, that can never be!"

"Oh, no! Brewers is brewers, and must be. There's Mr. Joe--He's very
well, no doubt."

"I haven't the pleasure of his acquaintance."

"Him as is to marry Miss Molly. But Miss Molly ain't the head of the
family; is she, sir?" Here the squire shook his head. "You're the head
of the family, sir."

"I suppose so."

"And is--I might make so bold as to speak?"

"Go on, Matthew."

"Miss Thoroughbung would be a little out of place at Buston Hall. Now,
as to Miss Puffle--"

"Miss Puffle is a lady,--or was."

"No doubt, sir. The Puffles is not quite equal to the Prospers, as I can
hear. But the Puffles is ladies--and gentlemen. The servants below all
give it up to them that they're real gentlefolk. But--"

"Well?"

"She demeaned herself terribly with young Tazlehurst. They all said as
there were more where that came from."

"What should they mean by that?"

"She'd indulge in low 'abits,--such as never would have been put up with
at Buston Hall,--a-cursing and a-swearing--"

"Miss Puffle!"

"Not herself,--I don't say that; but it's like enough if you 'ad heard
all. But them as lets others do it almost does it themselves. And them
as lets others drink sperrrits o' mornings come nigh to having a dram
down their own throats."

"Oh laws!" exclaimed Mr. Prosper, thinking of the escape he had had.

"You wouldn't have liked it, sir, if there had been a bottle of gin in
the bedroom!" Here Mr. Prosper hid his face among the bedclothes. "It
ain't all that comes silk out of the skein that does to make a purse
of."

There were difficulties in the pursuit of matrimony of which Mr. Prosper
had not thought. His imagination at once pictured to himself a bride
with a bottle of gin under her pillow, and he went on shivering till
Matthew almost thought that he had been attacked by an ague-fit.

"I shall give it up, at any rate," he said, after a pause.

"Of course you're a young man, sir."

"No, I'm not."

"That is, not exactly young,"

"You're an old fool to tell such lies!"

"Of course I'm an old fool; but I endeavor to be veracious. I never
didn't take a shilling as were yours, nor a shilling's worth, all the
years I have known you, Mr. Prosper."

"What has that to do with it? I'm not a young man."

"What am I to say, sir? Shall I say as you are middle-aged?"

"The truth is, Matthew, I'm worn out."

"Then I wouldn't think of taking a wife."

"Troubles have been too heavy for me to bear. I don't think I was
intended to bear trouble."

"'Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward,'" said Matthew.

"I suppose so. But one man's luck is harder than another's. They've been
too many for me, and I feel that I'm sinking under them. It's no good my
thinking of marrying now."

"That's what I was coming to when you said I was an old fool. Of course
I am an old fool."

"Do have done with it! Mr. Harry hasn't been exactly what he ought to
have been to me."

"He's a very comely young gentleman."

"What has comely to do with it?"

"Them as is plain-featured is more likely to stay at home and be quiet.
You couldn't expect one as is so handsome to stay at Buston and hear
sermons."

"I don't expect him to be knocking men about in the streets at
midnight."

"It ain't that, sir."

"I say it is that!"

"Very well, sir. Only we've all heard down-stairs as Mr. Harry wasn't
him as struck the first blow. It was all about a young lady."

"I know what it was about."

"A young lady as is a young lady."--This was felt to the quick by Mr.
Prosper, in regard to the gin-drinking Miss Puffle and the brewer-bred
Miss Thoroughbung; but as he was beginning to think that the
continuation of the family of the Prospers must depend on the marriage
which Harry might make, he passed over the slur upon himself for the
sake of the praise given to the future mother of the Prospers.--"And
when a young gentleman has set his heart on a young lady he's not going
to be braggydoshoed out of it."

"Captain Scarborough knew her first."

"First come first served isn't always the way with lovers. Mr. Harry was
the conquering hero. 'Weni, widi, wici.'"

"Halloo, Matthew!"

"Them's the words as they say a young gentleman ought to use when he's
got the better of a young lady's affections; and I dare say they're the
very words as put the captain into such a towering passion. I can
understand how it happened, just as if I saw it."

"But he went away, and left him bleeding and speechless."

"He'd knocked his _weni, widi, wici_ out of him, I guess! I think, Mr.
Prosper, you should forgive him." Mr. Prosper had thought so too, but
had hardly known how to express himself after his second burst of anger.
But he was at the present ill and weak, and was anxious to have some one
near to him who should be more like a silk purse than his butler,
Matthew. "Suppose you was to send for him, sir."

"He wouldn't come."

"Let him alone for coming! They tell me, sir--"

"Who tells you?"

"Why, sir, the servants now at the rectory. Of course, sir, where two
families is so near connected, the servants are just as near: it's no
more than natural. They tell me now that since you were so kind about
the allowance, their talk of you is all changed." Then the squire's
anger was heated hot again. Their talk had all been against him till he
had opened his hand in regard to the allowance. And now when there was
something again to be got they could be civil. There was none of that
love of him for himself for which an old man is always hankering,--for
which the sick man breaks his heart,--but which the old and sick find it
so difficult to get from the young and healthy. It is in nature that the
old man should keep the purse in his own pocket, or otherwise he will
have so little to attract. He is weak, querulous, ugly to look at, apt
to be greedy, cross, and untidy. Though he himself can love, what is his
love to any one? Duty demands that one shall smooth his pillow, and some
one does smooth it,--as a duty. But the old man feels the difference, and
remembers the time when there was one who was anxious to share it.

Mr. Prosper was not in years an old man, and had not as yet passed that
time of life at which many a man is regarded by his children as the best
of their playfellows. But he was weak in body, self-conscious, and
jealous in spirit. He had the heart to lay out for himself a generous
line of conduct, but not the purpose to stick to it steadily. His nephew
had ever been a trouble to him, because he had expected from his nephew
a kind of worship to which he had felt that he was entitled as the head
of the family. All good things were to come from him, and therefore good
things should be given to him. Harry had told himself that his uncle was
not his father, and that it had not been his fault that he was his
uncle's heir. He had not asked his uncle for an allowance. He had grown
up with the feeling that Buston Hall was to be his own, and had not
regarded his uncle as the donor. His father, with his large family, had
never exacted much,--had wanted no special attention from him. And if not
his father, then why his uncle? But his inattention, his absence of
gratitude for peculiar gifts, had sunk deep into Mr. Prosper's bosom.
Hence had come Miss Thoroughbung as his last resource, and Miss
Thoroughbung had--called him Peter. Hence his mind had wandered to Miss
Puffle, and Miss Puffle had gone off with the farmer's son, and, as he
was now informed, had taken to drinking gin. Therefore he turned his
face to the wall and prepared himself to die.

On the next day he sent for Matthew again. Matthew first came to him
always in the morning, but on that occasion very little conversation
ever took place. In the middle of the day he had a bowl of soup brought
to him, and by that time had managed to drag himself out of bed, and to
clothe himself in his dressing-gown, and to seat himself in his
arm-chair. Then when the soup had been slowly eaten, he would ring his
bell, and the conversation would begin. "I have been thinking over what
I was saying yesterday, Matthew." Matthew simply assented, but he knew
in his heart that his master had been thinking over what he himself had
said.

"Is Mr. Harry at the rectory?"

"Oh yes; he's there now. He wouldn't stir from the rectory till he hears
that you are better."

"Why shouldn't he stir? Does he mean to say that I'm going to die?
Perhaps I am. I'm very weak, but he doesn't know it."

Matthew felt that he had made a blunder, and that he must get out of it
as well as he could. "It isn't that he is thinking anything of that, but
you are confined to your room, sir. Of course he knows that."

"I never told him."

"He's most particular in his inquiries from day to day."

"Does he come here?"

"He don't venture on that, because he knows as how you wouldn't wish
it."

"Why shouldn't I wish it? It'd be the most natural thing in the world."

"But there has been--a little--I'm quite sure Mr. Harry don't wish to
intrude. If you'd let me give it to be understood that you'd like him to
call, he'd be over here in a jiffy." Then, very slowly, Mr. Prosper did
give it to be understood that he would take it as a compliment if his
nephew would walk across the park and ask after him. He was most
particular as to the mode in which this embassy should be conducted.
Harry was not to be made to think that he was to come rushing into the
house after his old fashion,--"Halloo, uncle, aren't you well? Hope
you'll be better when I come back. Have got to be off by the next
train." Then he used to fly away and not be heard of again for a week.
And yet the message was to be conveyed with an alluring courtesy that
might be attractive, and might indicate that no hostility was intended.
But it was not to be a positive message, but one which would signify
what might possibly take place. If it should happen that Mr. Harry was
walking in this direction, it might also happen that his uncle would be
pleased to see him. There was no better ambassador at hand than Matthew,
and therefore Matthew was commissioned to arrange matters. "If you can
get at Mrs. Weeks, and do it through his mother," suggested Mr. Prosper.
Then Matthew winked and departed on his errand.

In about two hours there was a ring at the back-door, of which Mr.
Prosper knew well the sound. Miss Thoroughbung had not been there very
often, but he had learned to distinguish her ring or her servant's. In
old days, not so very far removed, Harry had never been accustomed to
ring at all. But yet his uncle knew that it was he, and not the doctor,
who might probably come,--or Mr. Soames, of whose coming he lived in
hourly dread. "You can show him up," he said to Matthew, opening the
door with great exertion, and attempting to speak to the servant down
the stairs. Harry, at any rate, was shown up, and in two minutes' time
was standing over his uncle's sick-chair. "I have not been quite well
just lately," he said, in answer to the inquiries made.

"We are very sorry to hear that, sir."

"I suppose you've heard it before."

"We did hear that you were a little out of sorts."

"Out of sorts! I don't know what you call out of sorts. I have not been
out of this room for well-nigh a month. My sister came to see me one
day, and that's the last Christian I've seen."

"My mother would be over daily if she fancied you'd like it."

"She has her own duties, and I don't want to be troublesome."

"The truth is, Uncle Prosper, that we have all felt that we have been in
your black books; and as we have not thought that we deserved it, there
has been a little coolness."

"I told your mother that I was willing to forgive you."

"Forgive me what? A fellow does not care to be forgiven when he has done
nothing. But if you'll only say that by-gones shall be by-gones quite
past I'll take it so." He could not give up his position as head of the
family so easily,--an injured head of the family. And yet he was anxious
that by-gones should be by-gones, if only the young man would not be so
jaunty, as he stood there by his arm-chair. "Just say the word, and the
girls shall come up and see you as they used to do." Mr. Prosper thought
at the moment that one of the girls was going to marry Joe Thoroughbung,
and that he would not wish to see her. "As for myself, if I've been in
any way negligent, I can only say that I did not intend it. I do not
like to say more, because it would seem as though I were asking you for
money."

"I don't know why you shouldn't ask me."

"A man doesn't like to do that. But I'd tell you of everything if you'd
only let me."

"What is there to tell?" said Uncle Prosper, knowing well that the
love-story would be communicated to him.

"I've got myself engaged to marry a young woman."

"A young woman!"

"Yes;--she's a young woman, of course; but she's a young lady as well.
You know her name: it is Florence Mountjoy."

"That is the young lady that I've heard of. Was there not some other
gentleman attached to her?"

"There was;--her cousin, Mountjoy Scarborough."

"His father wrote to me."

"His father is the meanest fellow I ever met."

"And he himself came to me,--down here. They were fighting your battle
for you."

"I'm much obliged to them. For I have even interfered with him about
the lady."

Then Harry had to repeat his _veni, vidi, vici_ after his own fashion.
"Of course I interfered with him. How is a fellow to help himself? We
both of us were spooning on the same girl, and of course she had to
decide it."

"And she decided for you?"

"I fancy she did. At any rate I decided for her, and I mean to have
her."

Then Mr. Prosper was, for him, very gracious in his congratulations,
saying all manner of good things of Miss Mountjoy. "I think you'd like
her, Uncle Prosper." Mr. Prosper did not doubt but that he would
"appease the solicitor." He also had heard of Miss Mountjoy, and what he
had heard had been much to the "young lady's credit." Then he asked a
few questions as to the time fixed for the marriage. Here Harry was
obliged to own that there were difficulties. Miss Mountjoy had promised
not to marry for three years without her mother's consent. "Three
years!" said Mr. Prosper. "Then I shall be dead and buried." Harry did
not tell his uncle that in that case the difficulty might probably
vanish, as the same degree of fate which had robbed him of his poor
uncle would have made him owner of Buston. In such a case as that Mrs.
Mountjoy might probably give way.

"But why is the young lady to be kept from marriage for three years?
Does she wish it?"

Harry said that he did not exactly think that Miss Mountjoy, on her own
behalf, did wish for so prolonged a separation. "The fact is, sir, that
Mrs. Mountjoy is not my best friend. This nephew of hers, Mountjoy
Scarborough, has always been her favorite."

"But he's a man that always loses his money at cards."

"He's to have all Tretton now, it seems."

"And what does the young lady say?"

"All Tretton won't move her. I'm not a bit afraid. I've got her word,
and that's enough for me. How it is that her mother should think it
possible;--that's what I do not know."

"The three years are quite fixed?"

"I don't quite say that altogether."

"But a young lady who will be true to you will be true to her mother
also." Harry shook his head. He was quite willing to guarantee
Florence's truth as to her promise to him, but he did not think that her
promise to her mother need be put on the same footing. "I shall be very
glad if you can arrange it any other way. Three years is a long time."

"Quite absurd, you know," said Harry, with energy.

"What made her fix on three years?"

"I don't know how they did it between them. Mrs. Mountjoy, perhaps,
thought that it might give time to her nephew. Ten years would be the
same as far as he is concerned. Florence is a girl who, when she says
that she loves a man, means it. For you don't suppose I intend to remain
three years?"

"What do you intend to do?"

"One has to wait a little and see." Then there was a long pause, during
which Harry stood twiddling his fingers. He had nothing farther to
suggest, but he thought that his uncle might say something. "Shall I
come again to-morrow, Uncle Prosper?" he said.

"I have got a plan," said Uncle Prosper.

"What is it, uncle?"

"I don't know that it can lead to anything. It's of no use, of course,
if the young lady will wait the three years."

"I don't think she's at all anxious," said Harry.

"You might marry almost at once."

"That's what I should like."

"And come and live here."

"In this house?"

"Why not? I'm nobody. You'd soon find that I'm nobody."

"That's nonsense, Uncle Prosper. Of course you're everybody in your own
house."

"You might endure it for six months in the year."

Harry thought of the sermons, but resolved at once to face them boldly.
"I am only thinking how generous you are."

"It's what I mean. I don't know the young lady, and perhaps she mightn't
like living with an old gentleman. In regard to the other six months,
I'll raise the two hundred and fifty pounds to five hundred pounds. If
she thinks well of it, she should come here first and let me see her.
She and her mother might both come." Then there was a pause. "I should
not know how to bear it,--I should not, indeed. But let them both come."

After some farther delay this was at last decided on. Harry went away
supremely happy and very grateful, and Mr. Prosper was left to meditate
on the terrible step he had taken.



CHAPTER LVIII.

MR. SCARBOROUGH'S DEATH.


It is a melancholy fact that Mr. Barry, when he heard the last story
from Tretton, began to think that his partner was not so wide-awake as
he had hitherto always regarded him. As time runs on, such a result
generally takes place in all close connections between the old and the
young. Ten years ago Mr. Barry had looked up to Mr. Grey with a trustful
respect. Words which fell from Mr. Grey were certainly words of truth,
but they were, in Mr. Barry's then estimation, words of wisdom also.
Gradually an altered feeling had grown up; and Mr. Barry, though he did
not doubt the truth, thought less about it. But he did doubt the wisdom
constantly. The wisdom practised under Mr. Barry's vice-management was
not quite the same as Mr. Grey's. And Mr. Barry had come to understand
that though it might be well to tell the truth on occasions, it was
folly to suppose that any one else would do so. He had always thought
that Mr. Grey had gone a little too fast in believing Squire
Scarborough's first story. "But you've been to Nice, yourself, and
discovered that it is true," Mr. Grey would say. Mr. Barry would shake
his head, and declare that in having to deal with a man of such varied
intellect as Mr. Scarborough there was no coming at the bottom of a
story.

But there had been no question of any alterations in the mode of
conducting the business of the firm. Mr. Grey had been, of course, the
partner by whose judgment any question of importance must ultimately be
decided; and, though Mr. Barry had been sent to Nice, the Scarborough
property was especially in Mr. Grey's branch. He had been loud in
declaring the iniquity of his client, but had altogether made up his
mind that the iniquity had been practised; and all the clerks in the
office had gone with him, trusting to his great character for sober
sagacity. And Mr. Grey was not a man who would easily be put out of his
high position.

The respect generally felt for him was too high; and he carried himself
before his partner and clerks too powerfully to lose at once his
prestige. But Mr. Barry, when he heard the new story, looked at his own
favorite clerk and almost winked an eye; and when he came to discuss the
matter with Mr. Grey, he declined even to pretend to be led at once by
Mr. Grey's opinion. "A gentleman who has been so very clever on one
occasion may be very clever on another." That had been his argument. Mr.
Grey's reply had simply been to the effect that you cannot twice catch
an old bird with chaff. Mr. Barry seemed, however, to think, in
discussing the matter with the favorite clerk, that the older the bird
became, the more often he could be caught with chaff.

Mr. Grey in these days was very unhappy,--not made so simply by the
iniquity of his client, but by the insight which he got into his
partner's aptitude for business. He began to have his doubts about Mr.
Barry. Mr. Barry was tending toward sharp practice. Mr. Barry was
beginning to love his clients,--not with a proper attorney's affection,
as his children, but as sheep to be shorn. With Mr. Grey the bills had
gone out and had been paid, no doubt, and the money had in some shape
found its way into Mr. Grey's pockets. But he had never looked at the
two things together. Mr. Barry seemed to be thinking of the wool as
every client came or was dismissed. Mr. Grey, as he thought of these
things, began to fancy that his own style of business was becoming
antiquated. He had said good words of Mr. Barry to his daughter, but
just at this period his faith both in himself and in his partner began
to fail. His partner was becoming too strong for him, and he felt that
he was failing. Things were changed; and he did not love his business as
he used to do. He had fancies, and he knew that he had fancies, and that
fancies were not good for an attorney. When he saw what was in Mr.
Barry's mind as to this new story from Tretton, he became convinced that
Dolly was right. Dolly was not fit, he thought, to be Mr. Barry's wife.
She might have been the wife of such another as himself, had the partner
been such another. But it was not probable that any partner should have
been such as he was. "Old times are changed," he said to himself; "old
manners gone." Then he determined that he would put his house in order,
and leave the firm. A man cannot leave his work forever without some
touch of melancholy.

But it was necessary that some one should go to Rummelsburg and find
what could be learned there. Mr. Grey had sworn that he would have
nothing to do with the new story, as soon as the new story had been told
to him; but it soon became apparent to him that he must have to do with
it. As soon as the breath should be out of the old squire's body, some
one must take possession of Tretton, and Mountjoy would be left in the
house. In accordance with Mr. Grey's theory, Augustus would be the
proper possessor. Augustus, no doubt, would go down and claim the
ownership, unless the matter could be decided to the satisfaction of
them both beforehand. Mr. Grey thought that there was little hope of
such satisfaction; but it would of course be for him or his firm to see
what could be done. "That I should ever have got such a piece of
business!" he said to himself. But it was at last settled among them
that Mr. Barry should go to Rummelsburg. He had made the inquiry at
Nice, and he would go on with it at Rummelsburg. Mr. Barry started, with
Mr. Quaverdale, of St. John's, the gentleman whom Harry Annesley had
consulted as to the practicability of his earning money by writing for
the Press. Mr. Quaverdale was supposed to be a German scholar, and
therefore had his expenses paid for him, with some bonus for his time.

A conversation between Mr. Barry and Mr. Quaverdale, which took place on
their way home, shall be given, as it will best describe the result of
their inquiry. This inquiry had been conducted by Mr. Barry's
intelligence, but had owed so much to Mr. Quaverdale's extensive
knowledge of languages, that the two gentlemen may be said, as they came
home, to be equally well instructed in the affairs of Mr. Scarborough's
property.

"He has been too many for the governor," said Barry. Mr. Barry's
governor was Mr. Grey.

"It seems to me that Scarborough is a gentleman who is apt to be too
many for most men."

"The sharpest fellow I ever came across, either in the way of a cheat or
in any other walk of life. If he wanted any one else to have the
property, he'd come out with something to show that the entail itself
was all moonshine."

"But when he married again at Nice, he couldn't have quarrelled with his
eldest son already. The child was not above four or five months old."
This came from Quaverdale.

"It's my impression," said Barry, "that it was then his intention to
divide the property, and that this was done as a kind of protest against
primogeniture. Then he found that that would fail,--that if he came to
explain the whole matter to his sons, they would not consent to be
guided by him, and to accept a division. From what I have seen of both
of them, they are bad to guide after that fashion. Then Mountjoy got
frightfully into the hands of the money-lenders, and in order to do them
it became necessary that the whole property should go to Augustus."

"They must look upon him as a nice sort of old man!" said Quaverdale.

"Rather! But they have never got at him to speak a bit of their mind to
him. And then how clever he was in getting round his own younger son.
The property got into such a condition that there was money enough to
pay the Jews the money they had really lent. Augustus, who was never
quite sure of his father, thought it would be best to disarm them; and
he consented to pay them, getting back all their bonds. But he was very
uncivil to the squire,--told him that the sooner he died the better, or
something of that sort; and then the squire immediately turned round and
sprung this Rummelsburg marriage upon us, and has left every stick about
the place to Mountjoy. It must all go to Mountjoy,--every acre, every
horse, every bed, and every book."

"And these, in twelve months' time, will have been divided among the
card-players of the metropolis," said Quaverdale.

"We've got nothing to do with that. If ever a man did have a lesson he
has had it. If he chose to take it, no man would ever have been saved in
so miraculous a manner. But there can be no doubt that John Scarborough
and Ada Sneyd were married at Rummelsburg, and that it will be found to
be impossible to unmarry them."

"Old Mrs. Sneyd, the lady's mother, was then present?" said Quaverdale.

"Not a doubt about it, and that Fritz Deutchmann was present at the
marriage. I almost think that we ought to have brought him away with us.
It would have cost a couple of hundred pounds, but the estate can bear
that. We can have him by sending for him, if we should want it." Then,
after many more words on the same subject and to the same effect, Mr.
Barry went on to give his own private opinions: "In fact, the only
blemish in old Scarborough's plans was this,--that the Rummelsburg
marriage was sure to come out sooner or later."

"Do you think so? Fritz Deutchmann is the only one of the party alive,
and it's not probable that he would ever have heard of Tretton."

"These things always do come out. But it does not signify now. And the
world will know how godless and reprobate old Scarborough has been; but
that will not interfere with Mountjoy's legitimacy. And the world has
pretty well understood already that the old man has cared nothing for
God or man. It was bad enough, according to the other story, that he
should have kept Augustus so long in the dark, and determined to give it
all to a bastard by means of a plot and a fraud. The world has got used
to that. The world will simply be amused by this other turn. And as the
world generally is not very fond of Augustus Scarborough, and entertains
a sort of a good-natured pity for Mountjoy, the first marriage will be
easily accepted."

"There'll be a lawsuit, I suppose?" said Quaverdale.

"I don't see that they'll have a leg to stand on. When the old man dies
the property will be exactly as it would have been. This latter intended
fraud in favor of Augustus will be understood as having been old
Scarborough's farce. The Jews are the party who have really suffered."

"And Augustus?"

"He will have lost nothing to which he was by law entitled. His father
might of course make what will he pleased. If Augustus was uncivil to
his father, his father could of course alter his will. The world would
see all that. But the world will be inclined to say that these poor
money-lenders have been awfully swindled."

"The world won't pity them."

"I'm not so sure. It's a hard case to get hold of a lot of men and force
them to lend you a hundred pounds without security and without interest.
That's what has been done in this case."

"They'll have no means of recovering anything."

"Not a shilling. The wonder is that they should have got three hundred
thousand pounds. They never would have had it unless the squire had
wished to pave the way back for Mountjoy. And then he made Augustus do
it for him! In my mind he has been so clever that he ought to be
forgiven all his rascality. There has been, too, no punishment for him,
and no probability of punishment. He has done nothing for which the law
can touch him. He has proposed to cheat people, but before he would have
cheated them he might be dead. The money-lenders will have been swindled
awfully, but they have never had any ground of tangible complaint
against him. 'Who are you?' he has said. 'I don't know you.' They
alleged that they had lent their money to his eldest son. 'That's as you
thought,' he replied. 'I ain't bound to come and tell you all the family
arrangements about my marriage.' If you look at it all round it was
uncommonly well done."

When Mr. Barry got back he found that it was generally admitted at the
Chambers that the business had been well done. Everybody was prepared
to allow that Mr. Scarborough had not left a screw loose in the
arrangement,--though he was this moment on his death-bed, and had been
under surgical tortures and operations, and, in fact, slowly dying,
during the whole period that he had been thus busy. Every one concerned
in the matter seemed to admire Mr. Scarborough except Mr. Grey, whose
anger, either with himself or his client, became the stronger the louder
grew the admiration of the world.

A couple of barristers very learned in the law were consulted, and they
gave it as their opinion that from the evidence as shown to them there
could be no doubt but that Mountjoy was legitimate. There was no reason
in the least for doubting it, but for that strange episode which had
occurred when, in order to get the better of the law, Mr. Scarborough
had declared that at the time of Mountjoy's birth he had not been
married. They went on to declare that on the squire's death the
Rummelsburg marriage must of course have been discovered, and had given
it as their opinion that the squire had never dreamed of doing so great
an injustice either to his elder or his younger son. He had simply
desired, as they thought, to cheat the money-lenders, and had cheated
them beautifully. That Mr. Tyrrwhit should have been so very soft was a
marvel to them; but it only showed how very foolish a sharp man of the
world might be when he encountered one sharper.

And Augustus, through an attorney acting on his own behalf, consulted
two other barristers, whose joint opinion was not forthcoming quite at
once, but may have to be stated. Augustus was declared by them to have
received at his father's hands a most irreparable injury to such an
extent that an action for damages would, in their opinion, lie.

He had, by accepting his father's first story, altered the whole course
of his life, abandoned his profession, and even paid large sums of money
out of his own pocket for the maintenance of his elder brother. A jury
would probably award him some very considerable sum,--if a jury could get
hold of his father while still living. No doubt the furniture and other
property would remain, and might be held to be liable for the present
owner's laches. But these two learned lawyers did not think that an
action could be taken with any probability of success against the eldest
son, with reference to his tables and chairs, when the Tretton estates
should have become his. As these learned lawyers had learned that old
Mr. Scarborough was at this moment almost _in articulo mortis_, would
it not be better that Augustus should apply to his elder brother to make
him such compensation as the peculiarities of the case would demand? But
as this opinion did not reach Augustus till his father was dead, the
first alternative proposed was of no use.

"I suppose, sir, we had better communicate with Mr. Scarborough?" Mr.
Barry said to his partner, on his return.

"Not in my name," Mr. Grey replied. "I've put Mr. Scarborough in such a
state that he is not allowed to see any business letter. Sir William
Brodrick is there now." But communications were made both to Mountjoy
and to Augustus. There was nothing for Mountjoy to do; his case was in
Mr. Barry's hands; nor could he take any steps till something should be
done to oust him from Tretton. Augustus, however, immediately went to
work and employed his counsel, learned in the law.

"You will do something, I suppose, for poor Gus?" the old man said to
his son one morning. It was the last morning on which he was destined to
awake in the world, and he had been told by Sir William and by Mr.
Merton that it would probably be so. But death to him had no terror.
Life to him, for many weeks past, had been so laden with pain as to make
him look forward to a release from it with hope. But the business of
life had pressed so hard upon him as to make him feel that he could not
tell what had been accomplished.

The adjustment of such a property as Tretton required, he thought, his
presence, and, till it had been adjusted, he clung to life with a
pertinacity which had seemed to be oppressive. Now Mountjoy's debts had
been paid, and Mountjoy could be left a bit happier. Having achieved so
much, he was delighted to think that he might. But there had come
latterly a claim upon him equally strong,--that he should wreak his
vengeance upon Augustus. Had Augustus abused him for keeping him in the
dark so long, he would have borne it patiently. He had expected as much.
But his son had ridiculed him, laughed at him, made nothing of him, and
had at last told him to die out of the way. He would, at any rate, do
something before he died.

He had had his revenge, very bitter of its kind. Augustus should be made
to feel that he had not been ridiculous,--not to be laughed at in his
last days. He had ruined his son, inevitably ruined him, and was about to
leave him penniless upon the earth. But now in his last moments, in his
very last, there came upon him some feeling of pity, and in speaking of
his son he once more called him "Gus."

"I don't know how it will all be, sir; but if the property is to be
mine--"

"It will be yours; it must be yours."

"Then I will do anything for him that he will accept."

"Do not let him starve, or have to earn his bread."

"Say what you wish, sir, and it shall be done, as far as I can do it."

"Make an offer to him of some income, and settle it on him. Do it at
once." The old man, as he said this, was thinking probably of the great
danger that all Tretton might, before long, have been made to vanish.
"And, Mountjoy--"

"Sir."

"You have gambled surely enough for amusement. With such a property as
this in your hands gambling becomes very serious."

They were the last words,--the last intelligible words,--which the old man
spoke. He died with his left hand on his son's neck, and took Merton and
his sister by his side. It was a death-bed not without its lesson,--not
without a certain charm in the eyes of some fancied beholder. Those who
were there seemed to love him well, and should do so.

He had contrived, in spite of his great faults, to create a respect in
t